India’s Silence on Sri Lankan Bloodshed
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|Civilians stand behind the barbed-wire perimeter fence of the Manik Farm refugee camp located on the outskirts of the northern Sri Lankan town of Vavuniya, May 26. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon toured Sri Lanka’s largest war refugee camp, home to 220,000 refugees, pressing for wider humanitarian access to the camps which have become overcrowded since the government declared victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels after a 25-year war. / AP-Yonhap|
By John Smith Thang
India, the world’s largest democracy, refrained from interfering in the Sri Lankan bloodshed and turned a deaf ear by keeping out of the conflict. Usually, India states it is the regional power, and has declared its position to protect the South Asia region.
But, here is testimony to its ineptitude. The India government didn’t take any concrete steps and didn’t put any pressure on the Sri Lankan government.
Even India’s media rarely posted news about this bloodshed conflict. Even though smoke was rising next to her home, at the bottom of its map, in a neighboring country, India was “kow-towing” and keeping silent.
The conflict in Sri Lanka escalated terribly over the last several weeks before the government declared an end to the long civil war against the separatist Tamil Tigers.
Thousands of lives were lost and thousands of people are suffering in the conflict zone. According to a U.N. press statement on May 13, at least 188,000 people were internally displaced in Vavuniya alone.
Some 1,700 have been wounded and some 50,000 or more are still trapped in the conflict zone. The news from Agence France-Presse (AFP) is that 70,000 people are dead and 250,000 had fled the war zone as internally displaced persons to date.
Due to the lack of free access for rights workers, aid groups and journalists it is difficult to collect accurate casualty figures and it is assumes that actual numbers will be higher.
The pictures, circulated online by Arundhathi Roy (Booker prize winner), show the headless body of a boy and the dead body of a pregnant woman with her baby spilling out of her womb.
Many body parts were scattered here and there among dead bodies and spilled blood. Children and women are the biggest victims of this tragedy ― a cruel and inhumane act. Probably it is the biggest “holocaust” in Sri Lanka’s civil war.
Sri Lanka’s Democracy?
When democracy in Sri Lanka was hijacked by an extremist group among the majority Sinhalese, the result was the marginalization of small communities and minority groups on the island nation.
Sri Lanka is dominated by Buddhist Sinhalese as a majority, while Hindu/Christian Tamils are an ethnic minority in the country.
The country is led former movie star, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who won the presidential election through populist votes. But his actions against the Tamil ethnic group were totally unfair and heartless.
It is true that Sri Lanka has the right to defend its country. However, the government deliberately chose violence instead of a peaceful political solution.
In the case of a peaceful political solution, Sri Lanka’s government must provide the Tamil ethnic minority with political rights, such as a self-autonomous administration system preserving its language and culture.
Such a provision and mutual agreement would be fair and acceptable as it is a reflection of the democratic spirit.
The Sri Lankan government’s action was a cruel and inhumane act, and it should immediately stop deliberate attacks upon innocent people.
On other side, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) must not use innocent people as human shields, and should quickly return to the negotiating table with the government.
Furthermore regional involvement is necessary to prevent additional bloodshed. Here in South Asia, India is the most appropriate nation to do this, as the international community will be likely to join and support the end of bloodshed.
Of course, India also had committed similar human rights violations in the past ― the genocide of the Muslim minority in Gujarat and the Christian minority in Orissa. So it is uncertain what the Indian reaction to bloodshed within its own sphere of interest would be.
Undoubtedly, it is a man-made disaster ― a crime against humanity.
In conclusion, the most urgent thing is to provide emergency humanitarian aid to people victimized by the civil war. They are tormented and dying due to its effects.
John Smith Thang is a Burmese human rights activist based in Korea. He can be reach at email@example.com.