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Not all Tamils are Tigers

May 15, 2009

Guardian UK : Not all Tamils are Tigers
The international community is dithering over the humanitarian crisis in Sri Lanka because of its need to condemn rebel fighters

“There are two possible reasons why this is happening. First, that the Tamil Tigers are terrorists, and civilian deaths are unfortunate collateral damage in Sri Lanka’s domestic war on terror. Or, second, that killing Tamil Tigers is a ruse for killing Tamils, and that the government is using the terrorist line to spin a sinister agenda.

While the international community grapples with Sri Lanka’s insistence that it is the former, a depressing body of evidence points towards the sinister. There is the censorship – areas restricted to journalists including the “safe” zone where undercover reporters have to sneak out news of horrors. There is the witch-hunt for dissenters – Sri Lankan bloggers report that the government has now set up a hotline to report on those who question the war, and Unesco just awarded its World Press Freedom prize to Lasantha Wickrematunge, the latest Sri Lankan journalist to pay the ultimate price for free speech. And there is the state-sponsored terror – Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter argued last year that Sri Lanka should be struck off the UN human rights council for its abuses: internment, torture and abductions…

…Not all Tamils are supporters of the rebels – I’m certainly not. Despite all the flags, I know that many of us who are turning out in Parliament Square have a humanitarian agenda, not a pro-rebel one. But if we want the crisis to stop, we’ve got to realise that there’s no use condemning the Tigers and trying to save Tamils, because in the eyes of the Sri Lankan government, we seem to be one and the same. The hope of the civilians facing mortal harm and starvation in Sri Lanka is that the world will not watch in silence while their lives are destroyed – and will not be fooled by the constant carping about the ills of the Tigers as a justification for throwing every last grain of humanity out of the window.”

Read full article here.

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