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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2526

The Dam(n) Builders , Fee-masons and Wanni Eyesore

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London….

Tamil Tigers have become an endangered species in their own habitat, a small jungle patch of the northern Sri Lanka. The plight of a cornered Tiger is not a pleasant one; nor is it a sign of defiance. Acts of desperation lays bare every ugly thing that it has at its disposal for the simple game of survival – growling, profuse dribbling and pounding are all too familiar gestures. The collapse of the once-majestic tail between the legs is an indication that the beast has met its match before the duel for dominance.

When a species is on the verge of extinction, the help comes from many quarters, to reverse the trend, with certain media organizations and rights groups at the forefront.

Tigers used an old form of military strategy to keep the advancing professional army at bay – constructing earth bunds. Most of the earth bunds have deep trenches on either side, filled with water with two aims: either drown the enemy or commit suicide by dipping in them, when the intended fortunes are going to be inverse of the very things.

They have been modelling the moats that we see around European castles. European moats are grand designs - products of combination of detailed planning and rich architecture.

Unfortunately, the Wanni equivalents of moats have neither: they have been dug in haste with very little consideration for the aesthetic appeal. Torrential rains which batter the region now don’t make them look any better. When enemy fire was combined with basic erosion, one of the worst forms of human creativity emerges from the rabble – land eyesore.

It is reported that ‘Colonel’ Theepan of the Tigers high command came up with this grand design. Self-styled Colonels are not renowned for possessing architectural skills. Therefore, the design bears all the hall marks of an aesthetic disaster.

It is now very clear that the Tigers relied on this mode of defence heavily; keep the army at bay, but to no avail. After failing the first hurdle, they turned to the second: stirring up the Tamil Nadu factor.

We see some politicians declaring fast-unto-death, only to give up three days later, citing mass appeal to stop it. Manoeuvres of this kind only earn a synonym for otherwise great spiritual weapon – farce-unto-death.

One named Thirumalvanan started this a few weeks back. He said he just emulated great Gandhiji before embarking on the failed mission. A particular Thursday was chosen without giving a reason for the particular date.

Gandhiji went into a period of fasting - a form of penance - before staging Satyagraha in anticipation of a certain signal from within, which he proudly called ‘inner voice’. It looks like Thirumalavanan too did wait for a signal before his ill-fated exercise, but not in the form of spiritual signal. In fact, the signal may have come in the form of a microwave – a mobile phone call from Wanni.

With plenty of fanfare, Thirumalavanavan, launched his fast-unto-death while taking every one by surprises. We thought he was going to make it to the end and so did Dr Ramados, the fellow doctor-turned politician, who is extremely sympathetic towards the Tiger cause. Pictures of Dr Ramados checking Thirumalavanavan’s pulse were flashed across the websites, implying the latter meant business – committing suicide with the full glare of publicity.

Being a seasoned politician, Dr. Ramdos diagnosed something which Thirumalavanan’s supporters didn’t have a clue about – Thirumalavanan’s pulse was not in harmony with that of the nation, at least its southern part. Dr. Ramdos immediately raised the stakes – of health, of course.

The public meeting that followed made an emotional appeal to end the fasting and Thirumalavanavan readily agreed. Dr. Ramados brought the episode to a close by offering a glass of unknown juice to the starving gentleman while ending it, what the critics of both say, on a very sour note.

Since this exercise didn’t stop what they call ‘genocide’ in Sri Lanka, the political stakes are high for the firebrand politician: we saw a big doll of leopard – not well-known for non-violence - next to Thirumalavanavan while he was fasting; there were reports saying that his mother was closely monitoring the situation, sitting somewhere near by. These are ideal tools for the critics of Thirumalavanan to build up a profile of an immature hot-head rather than a serious political figure. Two youths who burnt themselves can shame Thirumalavanan for ending his fast prematurely at the hour of need.

Unfortunately neither Tamil Nadu politicians nor Tamil Tigers care for the civilians who are sandwiched between the two warring sides. The battered civilians are ideal for both parties to play political football to score political goals on the pitch of amplified nationalism.

When the army is closing in on the remaining relics of the Eelam, more and more pictures of a ridiculous exercise, that span almost three decades will emerge across the Wanni eyesore. The early signs indicate that it will resonate with what the world witnessed around the infamous Berlin Bunker – more than a half a century ago.

Ultra-nationalists always bring one thing upon the people, they say, they represent; it is wanton destruction on many fronts in the long run for generations to come. The destruction of Wanni landscape will stand tall as a monument to the colossal failure, brought about by the Tamil Tigers.

- Asian Tribune -

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