Saturday, May 23, 2009

Death of a cause

Vellupillai Prabhakaran is dead and officially dead. 

The sequence of events that led to his and his family's death were never relayed coherently by the Sri Lankan government's agencies. That led to widespread suspicion about "cold blooded murder" and others. Adding intrigue was the LTTE's international head suggesting that his leader was alive and well. So what really happened? 

DBS Jeyaraj presents a story on the sequence of events that ultimately led to the LTTE's downfall. It is the best coherent account that I have read so far and it confirms a lot of my own suspicions about what must have transpired. 

I have no sympathy for the LTTE's virulent and megalomaniac leader who led "his" people to the humanitarian catastrophe that was triggered in this round of conflict in the long civil war that has continued with patches of peace for nearly 30 years. He is ultimately responsible for the gory death that he and his followers were subjected to and for the loss of limbs and lives due to the shelling and "hostaging" that the Lankan government and the LTTE respectively indulged in. 

Having said that, the Sri Lankan government's actions in the final waning days of the battle can only be seen as "war crimes", cloaked in the dubious paradigm of "war on terror". It is just that the LTTE indulged in terrorism, in indiscriminate violence and stymied any course correction in the past, that prevents me from outrightly condemning the Lankan government's actions in annihilating the LTTE's leadership.

One only hopes that the supporters of the LTTE come out of denial (of their leaders' and their "Eelam" cause's death) and utilise the sympathy for the suffering of their people in Lanka to bring about a viable political solution. 

For the much traumatised and physically assaulted Sri Lankan Tamil populace, the end of the war is a relief, even as their travails due to displacement, starvation, malnutrition, handicapping, alienation, and other suffering, continues. The Sri Lankan government has to use its legitimate state authority to alleviate most of these through humanitarian relief in co-ordination with the international community. And it has to use it's polity's triumph to bring in much needed structural changes in its nation-state set-up. That has to be the international community's prerogative as well - to turn in some screws and push in some envelopes for a better culmination - atleast a federal rights set-up for the Tamils. 

Anything less and the stage is set for another round of ethno-nationalist mobilisation - this time a newer form of an LTTE that learns from its mistakes in the past but is even more virulent in its single minded determination to attain a Tamil nation of its own. And that means more violence and more suffering. Please, oh Please for the sake of humanity, No!

1 comment:

Karthick RM said...

I partially agree with your analysis of the downfall of the Tigers in you "End of a Civil War." But I disagree with you projecting the demise of the Tigers as the "death of a cause."

Prabhakaran and his Tigers represented certain ideas. They were icons. But the idea of Eelam is larger than icons - it is a dream. Like Palestine, or Kashmir, or Tibet. Or even like Communist utopia. In Lenin's own words, a revolutionary movement is guided by its own more or less mysterious laws. And the objective conditions in Sri Lanka foster the development of a new organization, one that would've learnt from the mistakes of its predecessor, after a termporary period of lull. They say that the darkest hour is before the dawn. I think it is too early to write the obituary for the cause.

(PS Yeah, I am the same Karthick who used to make absurbd arguments on TNP, Orkut)