Wednesday, April 13, 2016

J for Jaffna

J has been a difficult one, frankly. I have thought and thought and thought about what could potentially qualify for a blog post under J. Either I come up with management jargons like JIT (which no one wants to read a post on, I presume) or I am reminded of controversial issues like Jallikkattu (that I really do not have a strong PoV on). Then, V reminded me of this, an issue that is close to my heart and emotionally stirs me up every single time I think of it. So, here goes. 

Jaffna, or Yazhpanam (the non-anglicized version) is / was a district in the Northern Province of Sri Lanka. I do not know much about the province itself but I have been following the civil war there for many years now. Perhaps, it is because of the proximity of my birth place (Chennai) to Sri Lanka, but I think it is more because of a language we share – Tamil.

The Sri Lankan civil war has its roots as far back as the 1950s when the ethnic and linguistic Sinhalese majority brought in a motion in Parliament mandating Sinhalese as the only official language of the Government. The then Tamils, many of whom civil servants, were forced to resign with immediate effect, because they did not know Sinhalese. And that’s where the downward spiral began. The linguistic discrimination led to loss of jobs, economic disparity, and complete marginalization of the Tamils, giving rise to rebel groups, and eventually the apparently undefetable LTTE and Velupillai Prabhakaran. The tragedy started at some point of time after a number of negotiation talks between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Sinhalese government failed, despite mediations by third parties focused on peace, like Norway. Velupillai Prabhakaran got too used to the glory of war and the power he wielded over his people, not to forget the strength of an army he had raised (including child soldiers), that he backed away from peace talks and ceasefire negotiations regularly. Eventually, the end came nasty, Prabhakaran was killed, and so was his young son who was taken into the custody of the Sri Lankan army and killed (gruesome videos of which have circulated far and wide on the Internet).

Conservative, official estimates, peg the civilian loss of life in the 30 year civil war at a 100,000. Unofficially, people claim that the figure could be much more. And, there are pending investigations by the United Nations Human Rights' Commissions on suspected genocide of the Tamils.

Someone some day many many decades ago decided how to assert their majority rule, and that has led to one of the allegedly largest genocides in the recent past. I am not sure how many people are accountable for this, but the least I could do is share what I know about the issue with the people who read this blog.

P. S. This post is the tenth in the A-Z blogging challenge series for April. 

No comments: