Upstream of Consciousness wants to be a collection of interviews that only contain answers. I will provide 5 phrases, words, quotes, links, pictures, or videos (in italics) and your consciousness will provide the rest. Responses can be short or long, real or fictional, words, links, or anything in between. In return, each of my "subjects" will give me 1 item back which I will then respond to (under the heading Ripple, with a number next to it). Come, swim for a while.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Ripple (5)

5. The Tamil Tigers [Rob]

For background:

I've been asked a lot about Sri Lanka recently, which makes sense, seeing as the war there (which has been happening for about 25 years) is reaching a crescendo and is finally hitting even American news, which is usually almost criminally inattentive to world news.

You can, of course, read the links above for all of the facts (very often biased towards one side or another) of what is going on, and do your own Google searching.  I'll be happy to answer any comments/questions to the best of my ability if you leave them up here, or even debate with you, as I'm trying not to make this entry too too long.  

But this blog is not about facts.

I've been trying to remember the first time I was aware of the Tamil Tigers' existence. It was always spoken about in my family, and I remember going to rallies in front of the White House even when I was very little, but the base of those memories for me was more the excitement of a trip or the fact that my mom made different foods to take.

 The clearest memory I have is the day before I turned 13.  I was in Sri Lanka for the summer.  We were at my grandmother's house when we heard a dull boom.  The power was being cut somewhere around 8 at night those days, and so it was eerie, this noise, coming through candlelit night.

We found out it was a train bombing soon enough, and my mother worried if one of my cousins was on the train, coming from work.  It turned out that, although in total 86 people died, my cousin was OK, and the only relative that was injured was a distant uncle who lost a leg.  It's a weird thing to be thankful that all that was lost was a leg.

A few years later, I would meet and become very good friends with a boy who lost both his mother and sister in that bombing.  

I think the Tamil Tigers, at the head, are terrorists.  They go after civilians, regardless whether they are Sinhalese (the majority ethnic group) or Tamil.  Right now, as the SL military is pushing ahead, there are Tamil civilians (70,000-250,000 depending on who you are asking) who are trapped in Tiger territory.  Apparently as these Tamils are trying to flee the site of fighting, to government designated safe areas (which, admittedly, may be no better than concentration camps), they are getting shot at.  The Tigers know that if they don't have a civilian shield, they will get defeated.

I feel the most for Tamil civilians in all of this.  The Tigers claim to be fighting for them, but now this has all become a power struggle where innocent people are damned.  Even people who end up becoming suicide bombers -- they are pawns.  Poverty-stricken, brainwashed, hopeless, with no alternatives, they kill themselves in the hopes of... what?  An escape?  A cause they don't quite understand?  Reverence?  What sort of desperation brings you to kill others with your own  body?

But the head of the Tamil Tigers, mainly Vellupi Prabhakaran, a basically uneducated guy who became the leader -- I have little sympathy for him and those directly under him.  He is the brainwasher, the one in power, the coward who sends others off to die.   

The pacifist in me has trouble with wanting someone to die.  I'd like to see him captured, to let the world see his face and understand how much misery he has brought what was once paradise.  But it is unlikely he will be captured alive.  

I hope with all of my heart that this war is over soon.  I hope the North can be rebuilt, that the Sinhalese and Tamils can live together without resentment of each other, and when I have my own children, I can take them up there without risking being shot.  I've been told it was a beautiful place.

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About Me

I am interested in the human condition.