The Humanitarian problem in Sri Lnka and the threat to Tamil Nadu

Thank God it’s over, must be the answers to all the prayers for the people trapped in the final moments of the war in Sri Lanka. And while all the world clamors for investigations into terrible human rights abuses on both sides of the war, the question that one must must ask is that in a war that lasted over a quarter of a century, where was the world then ? Civilians were dying all the time.
Does that mean that slow death is much more acceptable than sudden death ? Or do we live in a word that cannot pay attention to anything unless it is high drama and melodramatic ? And is it really over ?
Seeds of resentment and memories of horror over twenty five years do not go away easily. The Sri Lankan government will have to embrace its Tamil people with compassion and resolve. Or the call for a separate Tamil nation will not go away easily.
And the LTTTE is still a force. I have come across fierce support for the LTTE amongst Tamilians in suburbs Paris and in the US, where a lot of the people came as refugees from the conflict. There is also support in Tamil Nadu itself. There is danger of the fight for a separate Tamil Nation now being nurtured in India in Tamil Nadu itself and expect the politics of Tamil Nadu to turn a blind eye to it, or even covertly support it.
With the Talibanization of Pakistan, the conflicts on our eastern borders, India can ill afford another separatist movement on it’s southern borders.

9 thoughts on “The Humanitarian problem in Sri Lnka and the threat to Tamil Nadu

  1. Dear Shekhar,
    Been an avid reader of your insightful blogs. I must say the opinions are hearfelt and articulate. With regards to the problem in Sri Lanka, I am of the opinion that separatism on our borders is not that much of a problem as much as the rights of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka itself. If the Sri Lankan Government led by Mahinda Rajapakse delivers on it’s promises and does not resettle the Tamil dominated areas of the North and East with Sinhalese, we could see a long winded but sure road to recovery. The trouble is Rajapakse’s Alliance partners–the rabidly anti Tamil ultra-nationalist JVP and the Sri Lankan Army itself could force his hand in this issue. If that happens, it’s going to be a bloody fierce battle, one that could have implications beyond Sri Lankan borders. The Tamils in India in general do not support the idea of a separate Tamil homeland but some elements of the likes of P Nedumaran could imflame sentiments and that should not be allowed to happen.

  2. It is the partial amnesia that is so much evident. I second your thoughts on until something melodramatic happens the world media chooses to take it for granted.
    I have never heard any conflict/dispute which is not supported by strong views from both the sides. Not sure if Bombs will always be the precursor of peace. What we require is a simple tolerance of differences of opinions and the will and the resolve to preempt such humanitarian crisis.
    But I must admit one doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to gage the timings of these things with out election.
    Just my 2 pence of thought! Liked your readings…

  3. ‘Whatever is heard is believed ..’ & ‘More the sound , more is heard ..’ are the basic rules which dominate truth & logic in our times of media explosion … electronic media which entered people’s living rooms some 30 yrs back , grips their thinking today & often makes them believe things which may not be true … as such, majority of masses refuse to use reasoning & logic , easy things are easy to grasp for them … why media ( the fourth estate , brains of a progressive society ) chooses to lean towards such propogations with such proportions ? Easy – this way , it sells …!! We are nothing but a cheap buyer-seller civilisation today !!
    Coming back to Tamilian issue in SriLanka , it is not the only country which has seen dissatisfaction/grouse of a section of it’s population . Any country / administration needs to deal with rebels strictly in interest of larger section of population , and am happy to see it happened in Sri Lanka . In fact, this should be used as a model by other govenments to exhibit before rebels in their respective countries who cause grave economic losses & bloodshed .
    Why media did not give it so much importance earlier , well , media is used to political issues hanging around & not resolving years after years , decades after decades … issues serve as material for regular news-item feeds … looking into functioning styles of govts., media is usually sure that any issue will not resolve no matter what , and this surity takes away from issue it’s spotlight ( forget alone the importance in terms of it’s urgency of resolve or otherwise sense of highlighting the concern of the issue in minds of people )… but hey … Voila … here was one such problem getting resolved … that too using army & guns & bombs & bloodshed & gore & … oohhh … so much movielike … not to happen again … better to give it max. primetime … sell it baby , sell it … it is just for onetime , issue is resolving …!!!
    About resettling tamilians with compassion , well , I dont think any amount of compassion , sentiments or money is going to give these people satisfaction untill they themselves realise that they are Sri Lankan now & no longer Tamilians … what they need to develop is sense of belongingness towards the land they embraced years ago … n they also need to exhibit their gratitude & loyalty towards their country by getting fast into national stream thru contributing towards the economic progress of this country , much more than a Singhali would … About support to them , these Tamilians will always find support from some Indian politicians/political parties who are hungry for issues related to word ‘Tamil’ & which could be encashed on election-boxoffice or worse if it could be enlarged to convert into an issue of magnitude (like a Pension-scheme deposit which could yield benefit everymonth without any effort )… dirty politicians …
    India always has had issues with most of it’s neighbouring countries , thanks to our poor political will ( ‘issues aaj khatam ho gaye to kal kya karenge’ philosophy )… Indian politicos’ ( read Congress ) issues-handling stratagy in last 50 yrs has been – let the issue hang till it a) either resolves by itself/dies its own death ( which means fed up , people themselves give up ) or b) let it grow & keep reaping profits out of it till it starts slipping out of hands ( which means the masses start rising with stones in their hands to pelt at politicians ) … the problem with Pakistan is going on since 60s , we have even fought 2 wars + recent Cargill/other counters , dont you feel it took Congress to speak up with Pakistan in stricter tone only after Mumbai’s Taj episode ( despite equally horrible incidents were occuring in country in past too ) which resulted into entire country seething with anger & rising unitedly giving very wrong signals to politicians & the govt. ; moreover general elections were forthcoming … why could not the same congress get up earlier to garner similar international support against extremism ? I tell you why – because earlier it would not have helped Congress in any way since elections then were nowhere in sight … so , plain cheap Selling Shekhar where largest political party tries n sells it’s ‘capabilities’ to the masses to be throned again to power … it is all third class Sale , of most ‘ghatia’ variety ( even an ordinary salesman on road would puke if equated to this )…!!
    Pakistan Leadership is another Selling entity … Keep spreading hatred about India before it’s masses and keep ruling … keep singing about ‘Kashmir’ or problem of presence of Taliban in country , to international community & keep sweeping billions & billions of Dollers as aid … Sell baby sell … !! Noone asks if Swat was being dominated by these elements , why it was’nt dealt with strictly earlier …? ( afterall , it all did not occur in one day )… Oh no , asking this would not allow USA /allies their presence in neighbouhood of an emerging economy India & keep building troubles for it & pressure in terms of having it’s base , it’s warfare/entourage being so close … so what if it means sacrifice of billions of dollers … buy baby buy … !!
    So you see where the game lies , n how intentions result into functioning ….

  4. Hi,
    The only solution I can think of, to put an end to these seperatist movements is to hand over our Country on a say 10 year lease to one of the better governed Nations and ask them to put the system in place.

  5. Shekhar:
    Am relieved that the war is over..although in a horrible note. But am surprised that you are more worried about the borders of our country rather than the plight and wishes of Srilankan Tamil people..
    When a husband physically abuses the wife repeatedly, is nt their a breaking point? Is it wrong to ask for separation?
    And is it fair to say if you get divorced from your husband it is bad for me, so please give up your frustrations and right to self-determination?
    Little disappointed that every one is concerned about what is in their best interest, rather than what the people want..

  6. In any situation like this,there is bound to be a tug and a pull. I don’t understand the LTTE / Sri Lankan / TN – situation well, all I pray for is some peace and joy back in the lives of those who have been destroyed by this long winding struggle. War is and has never been good. I wish things will be settled with dialogue and peace.

  7. While I may still hold hope and respect for a untited India where the sentiments of all Indians across Kashmir to Kanyakumari may one day be also recognized as “Indian”, the inevitable weakening of this unity has already been achieved by the Congress. Today many ordinary Indian Tamils like me stand humiliated by the cruelty shown to my brohters in Sri Lanka. The butchering of 50,000 civilians in no means can be called a victory to anybody. The holding of 300,000 civilians in Nazi style camps is a disgrace to Human Civilization.
    I sincerely hope Mr. Shekhar will start looking at issues from humanity and justice perspective than from what is good or bad for his/her own nation or group. Terrorism is shunned for the reason that violence cannot be justified whatever be the cause. The Sri Lanka war cannot be accepted/appreciated for the same reason. Let us all say “Never Aagain” and let me state this painfully “We shall not forget” and will stand against the killing of anybody be it Tamils, Hindi, Kashmiri or even Sinhalese tomorrow, what ever be the cause.

  8. The armed Tamil separatist movement in Sri Lanka started because India provided military training and, intially, arms and ammunition as well, to militant organisations like the LTTE.
    In short, India did to Sri Lanka what Pakistan is now doing to India in Kashmir i.e. India ‘exported terror’ to Sri Lanka.
    In any case, I wouldn’t expect Sri Lanka to do something like that to India now and no other country appears to be geographically placed to successfully make such an attempt.

  9. I had one of the most heart-wrenching chance encounters earlier this week — with a group of people of Sri Lankan origin. Had the opportunity to chat up with some of the young adults whose parents emigrated to Europe during the early 80’s from Sri Lanka, and who are already in, or getting into professions that offer them a sense of greater dignity and self-worth (than exploited laborers). What unfolded from the conversation was heart-wrenching, throat lumping and much more that cannot be expressed in words….which left me questioning what in the world is the world doing about atrocities happening at our doorstep and right under our noses, with people in positions of power and influence not applying themselves to do what’s right. How wretched can human behavior get?!
    In an attempt to make it as terse as possible, I resort to a bulleted list of what I heard. This is no ‘story’…it represents fragmented accounts of incidents as it was told, and heart-felt voices of people close to the ground reality, many of who still have their kith and kin there…
    * The Sri Lankan Tamils (over 300,000) are isolated in camps surrounded by barbed wire…camps have assigned ‘status’ such as camp #1, camp #2, camp # 3, camp # 4…with facilities and access to services (if what’s doled out may be termed a ‘service’), such as banking, stores for basic supplies etc., varying in descending order from 1 to 4. Those who relented earliest to getting into these camps were provided camp #1 with the ‘highest status’. Don’t know what the perpetrators were thinking in offering a choice. a choice around the conditions of living hell? Can you imagine, for instance, people in camp #4 living out in the open, and sleeping on a cardboard ‘mat’ out in the burning heat of summer?
    * There are instances where the mother is in one camp, the father in another camp and the children in yet another camp. It’s all about inflicting pain and suffering through separating.
    * never-ending lines to use toilets
    * abysmally restricted water-supply and sanitation
    * never-ending lines for meals. Often they have to stand in line for 4 hours before getting to food. They serve just a handful for a family of 4. Only lunch. No breakfast or dinner — they have to fend for themselves by buying something from a shack-like store, if they are lucky enough to have one in their camp. Of course they have no ‘home’ with kitchen facilities to make their own meal.
    * Food is often flung to the people in line.
    * The old and disabled who are at the end of the line sometimes go unfed and die a natural death from days of hunger.
    * No doctors are allowed into the camp and there are no doctors inside the camp. Hepatitis has infected some of the campers and they are left to perish without care.
    * A pregnant woman delivered her baby in a bunker recently…she did not have help or the ability to freshen up and bundle her baby. 3 days later she walked for 3 days to get to the ‘camp’ where the Tamils were isolated to get to some basic amenities for herself and the baby…what timing for this tender soul to enter an ominous world of brutality…
    …When she requested them to provide a meal that did not contain vegetables recommended not to be taken after child-birth, she was told “go ask your leader to provide that for you”.
    * We do our best to send funds — part of it is taken by the perpetrators, so the full amount sent does not reach the intended recipients.
    * Are you familiar with the atrocities of Hitler? What’s been happening in Sri Lanka is nothing less. What you hear in the media and what you hear from the leaders in Sri Lanka is an eye-wash. There’s lot more that happens…both subtle and psychological torture, apart from physical brutality, that never gets heard or seen.
    * I was told, during my parents time over 40 years ago, the Tamil community was doing very well in schools and colleges and moving ahead…that was the start of targeted discrimination…if I as a Tamil deserved a score of 100, I would be deliberately given 50, so somebody else could be artificially made to seem ahead of me. The Tamil people were asked not to practice Hinduism — several temples were destroyed. We tolerated it all quietly for a while. Then there were intermittent, light sparks of rebellion…until the discrimination spread to other facets of lives of the Tamil people — jobs, civic amenities, etc… just ability to exist in peace. Then the sparks became fire and then a movement.
    * As much as we love Sri Lanka, if we go back to visit, there is no guarantee we can be back. My uncle left last month to Jaffna to attend his mother’s funeral, he was detained and asked for a huge sum of money if he wanted to leave the country. In some cases they are questioned about affiliations to “Tiger” and shot at point blank — man, woman or child does not matter.

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