Saturday, March 17, 2012

The Horrors in Lanka

“ Father, you fed me with these hands, why did you leave ? ”, an absolutely unconsolable girl asks the corpse of a man. “Why has everyone left me ? “ wails a woman sitting amidst a few bodies that lay astrew half clothed and some half bodied.

We all know Sri Lanka. My knowledge of it growing up, was that it was once ruled over by Raavana, many years ago. As a teenager I got more interested in the likes of Jayasuriya, Aravinda De Silva who let their blades do the the talking and Muralitharan his fingers.

It was during that time that I heard about Prabhakaran and the Tamil tigers. The naïve teenager that I was, I brushed them off as just another terrorist organization wreaking havoc with the locals in Northern & Eastern Sri Lanka.

Then I chanced upon Kannathil Muthamittal. Obviously it was an extraordinary story of a girl in search of her mother, but the backdrop of it was something that stayed with me after the movie finished. This prodded me on to read more about the goings-on in the land.
Civil war I read had taken a severe toll on the life of ethnic Tamil civilians in the area that was named Eelam, a separate Tamil state by the Tigers. One often heard names of cities like Jaffna and Kilinocchi being targeted by the Sri Lankan Army as counter offensives to the rebel forces attacks.

But just as in most parts of war torn Africa, the controversial West Bank, Northern Sri Lanka too was making the civilians, regular people like you and me pay a hefty price. The latest documentary evidence of War Crimes was Channel 4’s dossier called Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields which I had the misfortune of youtubing and watching after reading a rather compelling report on an e-paper.

And in Sri Lanka’s case it has stretched for more than half a century, from the days of Solomon Bandaranayake in 1950s. A struggle that was initially democratic but one that slowly and surely become violent, leading to its ghastly end in May 2009. The media reports that almost 250,000 people were displaced and 100,000 killed. Numbers & News reports. These numbers and news reports have no meaning to the aforementioned woman and child who mourn the loss of their loved ones.

The International Community condones and cries out for justice. As always, that’s all they do. I clearly remember Norway trying to broker some peace agreements between the two sides, somehow I do not seem to recollect what happened or what it led to.

The course of events is as disturbing as it is outraging. Systematic executions, rape, mindless destruction and possibly the attempt of marginalising or maybe even completely erasing a race of people from their homes enrages me to no end. I can’t even start describing how angry, sad and helpless I felt while watching the videos. It is quite evident for what the UN and other international bodies are saying, that the Sri Lankan Army is guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Its one thing when you are killing the enemy, which in this case for the Army was the LTTE cadre. But to go after makeshift hospitals and refugee camps in No Fire Zones is stuff of unadulterated evil. So much carnage in a nation that is predominantly Buddhist only further reinforces the fact that it is the men that are evil, not the religion or an ethnicity.

It is high time for the fiends responsible for this to be brought to justice at the Hague. And these proceedings go, I know that will take a long time, but in the end, I hope and pray justice, justice for the innocent prevails.


Megha said...

I recently met someone who stays in Srilanka, she told me its peaceful and serene, at least where she stays.
That there is a lot of good as well, which somehow misses the media's eye. That its a truly beautiful & rather safe place I should plan to visit :)
She was surprised people warned her against going out alone after 8 in Hyd., cause its not uncommon for her in Srilanka even.
While I agree theres a lot to do, I am saying, we don't know all.

VIJAY said...

Firstly, well written as usual!

But i feel, the jury will always be out when it comes to assessing the worth of collateral damage!

Should India have gone all out in seizing Kashmir in 47/48? we can argue the way we handled Kandahar led to 26/11 etc.

Basis my read or the stuff you have quoted here, i don't think the Rajapaksa offensive is anywhere near a pseudo form of ethical cleansing.

While the battle might have ended in 09, the war, which was essentially to unite all Lankans is still WIP.

I have been to Colombo a few months back, there was a lot of talk about Trade/Tourism influx in the post war era, the biggest testament to the present regime's sincerity towards blending in the Tamils would be in the kind of effort that would go in to cascading the ensuing prosperity to the northern regions.

Only time will tell.