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Opinion: Dialogue Isn’t Just One Way – Questions We Should be Asking

April 17, 2009

By Abbi and Gogol G

Clarifying Questions from a Friend

Here are some questions one of my friends asked me in order to better clarify what’s going on:

* We have to be careful in how we frame our arguments…i.e. isn’t it funny that in order to kill supposedly 200 remaining Tamil Tigers the government is killing 100 civilians a day?

* Why are we asking whether Tamils should be supporting the LTTE without also asking why they’re supporting it in such large numbers?

* Instead of giving superficial responses and just stating, yeah, they believe the LTTE is the only one who can defend them, why don’t we explore that further?

* What other options is the international community giving the Tamil community?

* Why is all the focus on the Tigers, and not the civilians? That makes little sense to me

* Well, if we can proscribe the Tigers for doing what they did, why not proscribe the Sri Lankan government? After all, it has committed worse human rights abuses and it is a government.  If a government can’t be held accountable who can?

* And do we tell Sri Lankans who are pro-government they have no right to support a government that attacks its own civilians? Kills journalists? And disappears hundreds of people every week?

* Are we going to sacrifice the better half of the remaining 200 000 ppl. in the Vanni in order to capture or kill 200 rebels?

* Who do you think is going to take care of all the injured Tamil civilians? It will be the Diaspora, many of whom are working blue collar jobs. They’ll have to start sending hundreds of dollars back to sri lanka to help their relatives get treatment.

So I told my friend that this stuff has been said before. My friend replied, “yeah, but I think it needs to be repeated in different ways:  in questions, or other ways, until it gets through to people. I am just not sure how everyone is going to respond to all this stuff, because it’s not in the Western media”

posted by Gogol G

Say it With questions?

Whether you say it with statements, questions, or with music, for that matter, you will still have very little credibility as far as I am concerned. The Tamil Tigers are terrorists who have been attempting through brutal violence to split off from Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government has the right to maintain the integrity of the Sri Lankan nation by crushing this violent terrorist group once and for all. All your protestations and attempts to gain sympathy from Canadians come across as insincere hyperbole.

posted by Herman Steppenwolf

Re: Say it with questions?

Herman Steppenwolf, The point of a question is to ask for a response. Questions are often important for having dialogues, and dialogues are good for educating ourselves on important issues.

If you were trying to answer any of the questions I asked, then I think you replied aggressively with non sequiturs. If you can answer the questions I’ve put forth in a way that defends your statement, I support your right to hold your opinion. (Kind of, but not quite, like what Voltaire said.)

My original request (i.e., question) was for a working definition of terrorism. You’re free to answer that or any of my friend’s questions, if you can.

If you can’t, then you only prove my point that people use terrorism language to stifle discussion, persecute, and dehumanize.


Gogol G

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kuru permalink
    April 19, 2009 3:16 pm

    -Why are the tigers willing to sacrifice 200,000 people to save the remaining 200 rebels? (Please dont say the civillians dont want to leave the NFZ cause you and everyone knows that is not the case)

    I am not supporting the government and I think what they are doing is wrong as well. From what I see neither side seems to care about the civillians trapped in the NFZ. The tigers seem to hold them and they are not letting them go, and the government is relentless in attacking without any concern for the civillians.

    If you say the tigers care about the civillians wouldnt you say they would allow them to leave freely? (Dont say that the tigers dont want them to leave because they will be mistreated by the govt forces at the idp camps (Rape, torture etc). I am not denying that the govt is torturing people who come into the camp, but I am asking is it better to live in constant fear of shells and seeing your loved ones being killed and maimed one by one and surrounded by dead bodies? Can you imagine the psychological trauma?

    It is unfortunate that the civillians have to choose between the better of the two evils.

    From what I see the tigers are willing to sacrifice the tamil people for their protection and for propaganda against the government. They seem to think that if the government wins this war at a high civillian cost it is not a victory for them.

    From the tigers point of view I do see that they have no option (They cant surrunder for obvious reasons) they have to hold on till they have some kind of strategy and keeping the civillians with them is how they can do that.

    But I ask is that what a liberation movement would do that says it represents the tamil people and seeks to protect them?

    • voicesinexile permalink*
      April 19, 2009 4:07 pm

      Yes, the Tigers are holding them and that’s wrong.

      But if you notice in the mainstream media, that question is being asked all the time. We are listing questions that are NOT being asked.

      I don’t know what the Tigers are thinking so I can’t answer for them, but it’s despicable to be holding civilians in a zone where hundreds are being maimed and killed every day. Even if the civilians are only going to be tortured in the IDP camps, they should still have the right to choose whether they stay or go.

      On the other hand, I hold an elected government to a higher standard than I do a rebel group. And what I see is a government that is focused on a military victory to the exclusion of all else. Is the government waiting for permission from the Tigers before they start treating Tamils equally?

      And if the Tigers are penned in and there are only 200 left (as the government says), why are they not allowing journalists and aid workers into the camps and hospitals at least?

      Why do injured civilians need to be kept in military hospitals where no outsiders can access them?

      From where I stand, the Tigers don’t seem much of a threat anymore (or so the government says). But the government continues using the excuse of 200 remaining Tigers to continue barring journalists and aid workers; it continues to bomb the NFZ killing and injuring hundreds, and has the audacity to keep U.N staff in detention in their internment camps (read innercity press for more on this).

      And even with the Tigers…how many of those cadres are being forced to fight? How many of them are children? Is the government going to kill all of them too? Nothing is ever black and white. You don’t win a people by killing them, starving them, or bombing them. You have to win their minds, and this government doesn’t seem to care about winning them at all. It doesn’t seem to care that it’s destroying them. Or, is that its intent?

  2. Kuru permalink
    April 19, 2009 4:47 pm

    Yes I totally agree with everything you said and it is the civillians who are suffering at the hands of both sides.

    But at the same time it is disheartening to see that most of the protestors and demonstrations around the world showing open support for the tigers and disregarding their inhumane treatment of the civillians. This really undermines our cause and I think the tamil people should openly recognize the faults of the ltte rather than legitimizing what they are doing by showing such tremendous support for them.

    I think we would garner more of the internaional support if the protests and demonstrations stayed away from any political or militaristic symbol (if some were to argue that it is our national flag i think its pointless to point that out cause many outsiders see it otherwise).

    And yes the government is accountable for everything that they are doing and they should be willing to let independant journalists into the region, have the UN monitor the idp camps and etc…but they wont and they are not going to win this war simply by disregarding the safety of the civillians, if they say they care about the tamil people I think they would show some concern but they dont seem to be doing that.

    Even the 48-hour ceasefire they offered was a merely for their benefit to take a bit of rest for themselves and plan out a strategy to surround the NFZ. If the government really cares I think they would extend the ceasefire regardless of the threat posed by the tigers, this would atleast show the people that they care and they are willing to sacrifice what they accomplished so far for the safety of the civillians. But the govt is just focused on one goal right now and I think the victories that they achieved so far and the fact that they are so close to wiping out the tigers is clouding their minds or as many people would state They simply dont care about the fate of the tamil people trapped inside.

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