Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bloodbath and Beyond

12 May 2009

This is May 2009. War crimes and genocidal attacks on Tamils continue in Sri Lanka. Despite the international efforts at turning a blind-eye to these crimes against humanity (on the pretext that this is a "war on terror") and media clampdown & bias, news does actually slip out especially to those who have interest in what is happening in Sri Lanka.

Following the media in India that do cover the issue, one comes to understand that Indian government is being accused of assisting Sri Lankan government in pursuing and decimating LTTE. China is also being accused of supporting the SL government in pursuing this "war on terror" with sufficient supply of weapons. Both India and China are seen to have reached some sort of agreement with Sri Lankan government on economic, military and security matters. With sufficient support from regional "partners" the emboldened President of Sri Lanka had launched an "all-out" offensive to crush the national movement for Tamil Eelam.

This is evident in the propaganda of the Sri Lankan government which seems to be working very hard in waging a psychological operation to "convince" the rest of the world that it is all about "Terrorism" and killing terrorists. The equation is simple, when a national movement decides to take to arms to defend itself against a oppressive state, or struggle and establish some degree of self-rule, it can be criminalized and thus contained.

Because under the new equation there is no need to look deep into grievances, factors that escalated tensions and brought the divide - it is sufficient if international lobbying is succesful and the movement is labeled as a terrorist organization by a few states. Then a consensus among the elite and powerful is enough to pursue this new war on terror which can crush the movement. The outcome is you have less constraints, less responsibility towards power-sharing, less work on structures and systems needed for respectful co-existence, equality and justice - and hence more attractive an option for despots.

Some argue that senior political leaders in the Congress (I) in India seem to be getting impatient with the delay in the decimation of LTTE, before the final phase of the elections in India. Whatever mileage one was to gain by claiming a victory over LTTE is now lost and the world is now witnessing the horrors of crushing a peoples resolve to fight against ethno-centric policies and practices. LTTE is a big part of this ethno-national movement and despite its notoreity for guerilla warfare, resistance struggles, suicide attacks and silencing of political opponents, is considered by many Sri Lankan Tamils (and many Tamils in India and around the world) as the only major group that can effectively fight for them, in their defence for their rights and aspirations.

Despite what media may tell others, especially those in the West, many Tamils in Tamil Nadu feel sympathy towards those fighting for Eelam. As pointed out by Ms. Jayalalitha (former chief-minster) the logic in TamilNadu goes like this, "If Bangladesh can be liberated from Pakistan, why not Eelam from Sri Lanka." Now, politicians are sure to make rhetorical speeches prior to elections, but what about public sentiments. Is polling behaviour a reflection of public sentiments? Well, by 16th May it shall become very clear what many people feel about the Tamil Eelam issue. It can be an opportunity for scholars/practitioners/activists to re-assess our analysis, un-learn a few things and drop a lot of useless baggage that we have been made to carry around.

In fact the last phase of polling is on 13th May and it is quite possible that the Congress may be rooted out in all 16 constituencies that it has fielded candidates in Tamil Nadu. There have been large scale mass-mobilizations in Tamil Nadu against Congress-I and many political observers feel that the Congress and its regional ally DMK shall lose in most places. If this is true, it means a few things. That apart from compelling local issues the Tamil Eelam issue will play a key role in politics in Tamil Nadu. The message seems to be clear: Tamils in Tamil Nadu will vote out any political party (national or regional) that does not sympathize with the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Whether they will make good their threat, and whether sufficient "frame-alignment" has happened within and between Tamil movements and parties in Tamil Nadu is something to be deciphered from the trends revealed by the election results.

The verdict will be out by 16th May 2009. It will be a day when Tamils will come to understand a little bit more about themselves and the rest of the world about Tamils, whatever be the outcome.

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