Peace and Conflict

Thoughts from India…

A few days before I arrived, friends told me the roads of New Delhi were blocked. No, it wasn’t a parade for Mahinda or Chandrika or Ranil. It was a a rally “to condemn the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka”.

Posters like the above were easily found in the city.

Now, I don’t know much about the MDMK or Vaiko – but from Google-glancing, it appears like they are quite supportive of the LTTE.

Now, India is a big place and the people I spent time with didn’t seem to give a damn about Sri Lanka. It just didn’t feel like a priority. But maybe it is for the Indian Government, especially if there’s voices like Vaiko’s that are provocative and supportive of the guy who ordered the blowing up of Sonia Ghandi’s husband Rajiv.

In the papers in India, Sri Lanka does get mentioned. So, big mama is watching what’s going on. But, what are the implications of the watch?

Watching the news on TV, walking along the streets of New Delhi, reminded me that Sri Lanka is a small place that may get noticed, but perhaps not too deeply.

Knowing well the human rights problems and details of on-going crisis however, makes me sad that Sri Lanka is mostly ignored by the world’s media. The spotlight is on Iraq, on Lebannon… It’s US-Euro-centric. (yep – I know that’s a cliched thing to say)

If Google News foregrounds Sri Lanka – it will be only for a moment. Yet, the tragedy of the island should be up there with the tragedies of the Middle East.

Heading back to Sri Lanka… to more security checks and the yo-yo of stories about possibilities of war.

  • citizenMM

    The countrfies around Sri Lanka, viz India, Pakistan, Bangla Desh, Thailand, Malaysia, etc, in Asia, are the ones who should come together to take he initiatives in trying to establish a cessation of violence and a permanent solution to the SL ethnic issue.

    We mujst learn to try and solve our problems within the region rather than seek the ambiguous interference of western nations who may have alternate agenda’s on their minds.

  • Joy Daniel

    “Watching the news on TV, walking along the streets of New Delhi, reminded me that Sri Lanka is a small place that may get noticed, but perhaps not too deeply…”

    I differ from your observation. I am based in central India and have just returned after a week in Tamil Nadu. Sri Lanka is being noticed very closely in Tamil Nadu, so much so that at many times, almost half the Tamil newspaper is about happenings in Sri Lanka and so is the case with the TV news. At one time during the recent past, the Sri Lankan news (related to the conflict) used to come in the national news as opposed to the international news in the state TV channel. However, this happened briefly and was quickly corrected.

    There are many civil society organizations in Tamil Nadu genuinely interested in peace efforts. It is these organizations that work with the refugees and are advocating against any support from India for a military solution.

    Wish you all the best in your efforts to harness ICT for peace efforts. I am truly glad to know about this initiative.

  • Indian civil society in general seems to be very much interested in SL as well, i’ve met an academics in inida who told me ‘Sri Lanka’ is very much an active topic in indian academic circles. he described india as being ‘Karnataka on steroids.’

    with regard to cMM’s comment, i dont see the reason why ‘asian’ countries should be thought of as being honest and without ‘alternate ageda’. Surely the earlier indian involvement suggests that this regional approach is not without problems, and besides the kind of pressures that could be applied to both sides, is more from the so called ‘west’ – Eu, US and Canada and not from thailand, malaysia or bangladesh. the current equation of international involement makes sense.

  • joydaniel

    Change can only come from within. No external mediator or any force can bring about a situation that is accepted by all parties. Somebody in Sri Lanka has to be the Mahatma Gandhi or Nelson Mandela in the making – one who treads a different path and leads others towards justice.

    With all its drawbacks (particularly the prevailing caste system), I am proud to say that I belong to a country that has a Muslim as the president, a Sikh as the Prime Minister, and a Christian as the chairperson of the ruling party (probably, the king maker in national politics). All these religions are considered minorities. There is probably no other country in the world that can say this. Great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi started a movement that brought about unity among diverse cultures, religions, and ethnic groups. Please do not misunderstand me. My intention is not to belittle the efforts in Sri Lanka for which I have great respect. Rather, my intention is to stimulate the search for the catalyst within the country.