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The last gasp battle

world Updated: May 05, 2009 16:15 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
Hindustan Times
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"How can you publish this from Sri Lankan army giving it such high profile when there is evidence coming out from international organisations of chemical weapons used by the Sri Lankan army against both civilians and combatants? Not only this, my Tamil brothers are denied from any medical treatment and food. We are the only hope for the civilians across sea."

The last gasp battle to save – or regain -- the remaining territory under the LTTE is not only being fought on the burning and kuchcha roads of a splinter of a land in Mullaitivu but also on the chiseled streets of Paris, London and Toronto. And, as evident from the email from `across the seas’ London, in mail boxes on the Internet.

The Tamil diaspora have come out on the streets with flags and placards to save, what they perceive as, the wretched remains of their community in the `no fire zone’ (NFZ) and in the barbed-wire camps of Jaffna, Mannar and Vavuniya.

Huge rallies were held in western capitals as the Lankan army swept aside Tigers’ defences and rapidly ate into their territory. Thousands came out with red flags embossed with the growling tiger to demand that western governments intervene to stop the "genocide" against the Lankan Tamils. The more militant ones attacked the Lankan and Indian embassies in Oslo and London.

This reaction was expected from the wealthy and influential diaspora though LTTE chief V Prabhakaran once castigated them as "traitors".

"Prabhakaran described the diaspora…as "Tholaintha Santhathi" or "lost generation". The diaspora representatives were seething with anger…,"noted columnist DBS Jeyaraj wrote recently.

But Prabhakaran has little to complain. Over the years, the diaspora conveniently remained blind to the excesses committed by the LTTE, which ruthlessly rooted out dissent as well as moderate Tamil politicians. Does the diaspora remember the plight of the 80000 Muslims who were overnight evicted from their Jaffna homes?

Also, it is often said that while the rich Tamil quietly moved out of Sri Lanka after paying money to the LTTE, the poor remained; to be repeatedly displaced before finding their way into the NFZ.

And why is it that in India, only the Tamils in Tamil Nadu, apparently nudged by politicians, seems to bother about their community in Sri Lanka? Is it just the geography? Or is it the history of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination that prevents the Tamils in Calcutta or New Delhi from protesting? Or is it that they are simply not bothered?