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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2583

The Right to Celebrate, Plight of the Oppressed and Attempt of the UN to Exacerbate

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…..

Celebrations are always mired in controversy, because it is the performance of a ritual by victor against the beaten souls to have some fun at the expense of the latter; the sentiment derived from them is universal, be it in warfare, sports, politics or even religion.

In the world of sports, the spirit level is balanced by the admission of the latter in the form of the cliché’, ‘The better side won,’ and showering praise by the former on the enemy with the phrases like ‘a formidable opponent.’ In short, it is the gloss of PR in the 21st century.

However, in politics, things can get a bit nasty. For instance, when the colonies of former empires celebrate their independence from the latter, the representatives of the former masters are forced to watch parades and listened to rhetoric, often on a platform warmed not only by scorching sun but also by the thermal currents hidden beneath the well-documented chapters of ugly history - something that the European gentlemen wish were long dead and buried, in private.

The diplomats are trained by professionals to put on a brave face despite the uneasy feelings to the contrary and absorb the embarrassment in dribs and drabs on behalf of their respective nations, especially in the events of this nature. In return, they are privileged to live in tropics while enjoying the lovely beaches and everything that goes on them, otherwise, for which they would have to spend a fortune if they were to venture into these lands as tourists.

Sometimes, a short passage of time leading to celebration, can stir up controversy or even animosity. President Sarkozy, the French president, who is the son of a French mother and a persecuted Hungarian Jew, was ‘savaged’ by the British press for his plans to deliberately snub the Queen of England by not inviting Her Majesty for the celebrations of the D-Day landings on the Normandy Beach in Northern France this week, despite the sacrifices made by the British in the operations.

The landing is significant for the French in particular and the Europeans in general, as it liberated France at first and initiated the downfall of Nazism in Europe later. So, why the French wanted to anger the British at a mutually sensitive time is something hard to comprehend; after all, it is both the British and Americans who bore the brunt of the casualties in subduing both the Nazis and their French collaborators.

The French, however, did a U turn by inviting the Heir to the Throne, the Prince of Wales, for the event in the end; yet it reignited the notion of unpredictability on the part of the French when they see the prospect of them being in the shadow of the British. The cynics, however, see it as an attempt by Sarkozy to shore up the fast-dwindling voter apathy of the French public towards his government; playing the ‘British Card’ may be a desperate attempt by the French authorities to reverse the trend.

The controversy doesn’t end at that either. The present German generation, who has nothing to do with Nazism, just wish the period of celebrations just whizzed past through the passage of time like a tornado; they treat the annul events of this kind as annual humiliations on a regular basis. They wonder in private, why us – not Vikings or Romans!

A few decades ago, D-Day celebrations appeared to have made some sense: firstly, it had the potential to demonize the concept of Nazism as rabid racism wrapped up in barbarity; secondly, it was an opportunity to appreciate the sacrifices made by the living war veterans. Unfortunately, things have changed since then;

Nazism is on the rise again in Europe, especially in the Eastern Block, and the causes remain exactly the same as at the time Hitler exploited the situation to suit him – economic deprivation.

Nazis are well-organized, better-funded and good at making a mountain out of a molehill by playing to the gallery, especially at a time when the voter confidence in established parties is at an all-time low. Besides, its significance has been dealt a deadly blow by the reluctance of the European kids to learn history and the dwindling number of war veterans in Europe to be felicitated.

Against this backdrop, Ban Ki Moon, the head of the United Nations, who is close to a gentle celestial giant thanks to the suffix of his name, warned Sri Lanka against celebrations over its victory, while clearly polarizing the D-Day celebrations and the victory against the LTTE as two distinct things, according to the unwritten, often shifting rules of his organization.

Of course, Hitler and Prabhakaran led their wars with slightly different agenda: Hitler just wanted more space for Germans to live and justified the annexation of its neighbours on those grounds; Prabhakaran, on the other hand, just wanted a homeland for his people and of course with the intention to extend the border across the Palk Straits later for a highly ambitious project as far as his imagination was ready to map out. However, their path converge when it came to human suffering of the respective communities they say that they were fighting for.

Ban Ki Moon seems to be under pressure exerted by the big powers of the UN and he seems to doing what he is good at – issuing statements on regular basis, sometimes contradicting himself. By doing so, he unwittingly damage the credibility of the organization that he leads in difficult times.

Those who had been suffering from terrorism for over three decades have a right to exercise their right to celebrate the freedom they just won to walk free in the land of their birth without being blown up and to keep their children with them before being sent out against their will to fight on the front, only to die for nothing. For most peasants of both communities, the celebration is nothing more than a deep sigh of relief. If the UN wants to deprive them of even that right, we wonder what the organization is prepared to give them in return fill the psychic vacuum.

- Asian Tribune -

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