Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tigers Tamed - But Yet to Be Shamed

Recent reports seem to suggest that the protracted conflict between the Sri Lankan forces and the widely labelled terrorist group, Tamil Tigers, may be in its final days if not hours.

 I was struck by the recent demonstration by some protesters at the Sri Lankan High Commission who seemed angered and outraged by the Sri Lankan government’s military offensive to weed out the Tigers in their remaining stronghold. Isn’t it ironic that there does not seem to be much outcry when the Pakistani forces recently launched an offensive against the Taliban and its sympathisers in the Northwest Frontier province bordering Afghanistan. There too, many civilians have been trapped – and not unlike the Sri Lankan situation, it is highly plausible that these terrorists may also be using civilian as ‘human shields’ or even very plausibly firing on civilians in order to trigger international pressure to force the Pakistani government to cease its momentum.

Indeed, it’s quite surprising that we don’t find these same demonstrators also carrying coffins to the Afghan mission to protest the fact that countless civilians have perished as a result of that government’s campaign against the extremists and terrorists like the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Well, I don’t see too many people marching and protesting; nor do they seem to be alleging that the Pakistani or Afghan governments are guilty of war crimes. No sir. There doesn’t seem to be any whiff of such activity. But of course, when the Sri Lankan government, in an effort to preserve its territorial and national security, goes on the offensive against a rebel group known for its use of indiscriminate violence against civilians, many among us get bent out of shape. 

Ironic, isn’t it? Or perhaps not.

It is a known fact that many Tamil Tiger fighters and leaders, such as Karuna Amman, had given up on the strategy that was being pursued by the rebel’s leadership. It is about time that sympathisers of the Tigers face up to the reality that just because we share a common racial or ethnic background does not mean that we must therefore not only sympathise, but even condone the actions of these terrorists. Why are we not holding the Tigers accountable for the atrocities they have apparently perpetrated and the carnage they have inflicted on their fellow brethren? Have these protesters carrying coffins to the Sri Lankan High Commission wondered about the dastardly and cowardice of the Tigers who prevented civilians from seeking passage to safety?

Ironic, isn’t it? Or perhaps not.   

The truth can often be painful to confront.

G. Krishnan