Thoughts…Words…

The Gatekeepers

Posted in Humanity, Peace, War by udoit on February 10, 2013

This post is not about the documentary featuring interviews of all surviving former heads of Shin Bet – the Israeli security agency – instead it is about how security and other similar agencies of three different countries distress people. As the above-mentioned documentary, this post’s purpose is to document plights of the people who live on the edge than accusing those agencies. These three stories illustrate the perils faced by those people from the gatekeepers.

Ranjini, a widow, who fled Sri Lanka’s brutal civil war with her two children, boarded a boat from India to Australia in April 2010. That vessel ran out of fuel and food before reaching Australian waters. Subsequently, Australian navy brought them to Christmas Island, and then they were moved to Perth, Adelaide before they were released to a community in Brisbane on April 2011. Five months later, she and her children were granted refugee status as a step towards permanent residency status. On April 2012, she met Ganesh, married and moved in with him to Melbourne. In May 2012, she and her two children were summoned to immigration office. When they met the officials, they were detained and flown to Sydney for an indefinite detention because Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) – the Gatekeepers – gave “negative assessment” to them. In life, when it rains, it pours. Yes! the next day in Sydney she found that, she was pregnant. In January 2013, she gave birth a baby boy in Villawood detention center. Since, ASIO’s mission is to keep the country as safe as it can, it will not tell why and how long it will keep Ranjini and her children  in detention. In addition, it is a matter of national security so she cannot appeal and as non-citizen, she has no rights.

Santhi, a fourth generation Malaysian Tamil (also Hindu) woman lives with her husband and children. She did not have national Identity Card (IC) and no attempts to get one were successful. Her mother, Meenakshi, cleans dishes for living and her father, Jamal, was no more. Meenakshi is a Hindu who left her parents when she was a teenager then married a Muslim. Jamal spent most of his time in Jail for various reasons so Meenakshi raised kids by herself. As a result, she did not apply Identity Card for all her kids so Santhi and one other sister did not have IC where as other three siblings have IC. When, she approached officials through ruling party Politicians to get IC, they advised her to apply as Muslim because her father was a Muslim. However, she refused to do so because she was raised as a Hindu and she wants to be a Hindu. At the age of 29, she and her children did not have IC. Subsequently, it is going to affect children’s education. The gatekeepers are asking her to convert as Muslim to get IC. I heard her story in a video dated year 2010; I hope she and her children got their IC now.

The last story is about Qursaya Island located in the middle of Nile River at Cairo, Egypt. It is a common story especially in third world countries of either Asia or Africa where people first given notice to evict from the land – they live for generations – to give way for new development projects. Usually, they do not have other places to go, so they will start protesting. The gatekeepers will execute their masters’ orders forcefully for the entire nation’s prosperity; of course, the original inhabitants of that land will sacrifice for the betterment of others. The following is an interesting comment from Um Khatib – a woman live in that Island, “What revolution? This revolution has done nothing for us. The new rulers are as deaf as the old ones”. Unfortunately, in the history of human beings irrespective of period, culture, language, geographical locations or different types of governments such as democratic republic, dictatorship, military regime and single party communism –voices of people living on the edge not heard more often.

References:

http://edition.cnn.com/2013/01/15/world/asia/australia-ranjini-indefinite-detention/index.html?hpt=hp_c4

http://lettersforranjini.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ws8p-EzNA1o

http://edition.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_c5#/video/world/2013/02/04/wedeman-egypt-doomed-island.cnn

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Moral Responsibility

Posted in Humanity, Peace, War by udoit on April 29, 2012

Two weeks ago, I watched CNN.com’s video clip about the meeting of U.S Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman with Syrian opposition. The following are quotes from that video clip:

Lieberman: They are patriots, they are not extremists.

McCain: It is not a fair fight, it is not a fair fight and don’t we some point say enough of the slaughter.

McCain: Communication equipments do not do very well against helicopters, tanks and artilleries.

Lieberman: We got a moral responsibility here, the whole world does. We cannot just standby and just watch people being slaughtered. Hopefully, we progress from that point of world history.

McCain: They want weapons and ammunitions. They don’t want us there; they want opportunity to defend themselves and their families.

The following are some screenshots of the video and the link for the video is: http://www.cnn.com/video/?hpt=hp_mid#/video/bestoftv/2012/04/11/ac-mccain-lieberman-syria-responsibility.cnn.

After 1983 riots in Sri Lanka, India felt the similar moral responsibility that Mr. Lieberman referring and gave weapons, ammunitions and training to the Sri Lankan Tamils to defend themselves. The civil war lasted over 25 years until May 19, 2009 with lots of killings and betrayals. This post is about the final days of the war to raise questions on what mistake those people did to go through those sufferings.

A month ago, United Kingdom’s Channel 4 released a documentary about the final days of May 2009 Sri Lankan civil war, which is a sequel to the documentary that they had broadcasted a year ago. They timed (?) the part 2 video release well to coincide with the timing of UN Security Council’s resolution voting on Sri Lanka’s war crimes. The video (part 1) starts with interview of a UN staff who worked at the Tamil area during early 2009 and then shows video footages shot at the UN office at Northern Sri Lanka on the day they left the Tamil area as per the orders of Sri Lankan government.

The following screenshots show the people gathered in front of the UN office when the Staffs were ready to leave. All those people were shouting and chanting at UN staffs that do not leave.

The girl in the following screenshot was neither chanting nor waving the hands like others. She was just still with extreme sadness in her face.

The old man shown in the following screenshot given opportunity to express the gathered people demand, he says, “Please don’t leave, we don’t need food, medicine or shelter”. He was requesting them to stay and be a witness for the things that were coming and mentioning that their death was near their throat.

The UN worker who shot the above video is shown in the below screenshot.


Finally, the UN staffs were leaving.


These things raise the following questions:

  1. Did he share the video clips (especially the girl’s face to National Geographic?) to any of other colleagues?
  2. Did anybody in UN office felt the similar Moral responsibility mentioned by Mr. Lieberman?
  3. What is the role of UN and international community in those situations?
  4. Even they left due to the local government’s orders or advise that their safety is not guaranteed, why after leaving they did not do anything either from New York or any other place?
  5. Do the entire 2 million people affected by the 2009 Sri Lankan war or the about 40,000 people who died during the final days deserve that according to UN?
  6. Why he did not give the video clips to media immediately, at least posted it in YouTube?
  7. Why and when he gave that video to channel 4?

After those scenes, the Channel 4 videos show more and more executions, slaughtering and people sufferings. Especially, the following two screenshots of the woman – identified as Isaipriya – who was an anchor in Tamil news channel, explains the reason for sadness in the Girl’s face in front of UN office. Like the “Blue bra” girl, no mainstream media talks about either the thousands of women who died in the war in the most derogatory manner (like Isaipriya) or the silent sad girl. I guess it may be because in any of those two pictures there is no Bra found.



The following screenshots in the Part 2 of the Channel 4’s documentary raises even more questions that I will write in my next post.

The Tamil militia’s supreme commander family photo:


The supreme commander younger son – Balachandran – body.



The supreme commander’s body (some said the following are fake).



Speaking the Truth to Power

Posted in Humanity, Peace, War by udoit on February 26, 2012

Marie Colvin stated “Speaking the Truth to Power” as the mission of a war correspondent in her address to commemorate journalists, support staff and cameramen who had lost their lives during conflicts at a service held in the St Bride’s church on November 12th, 2010. About a year later – on February 22nd, 2012 – she was killed while serving the mission in Homs, Syria. This post is not an obituary but a tribute to her and the mission.

Marie Colvin

Marie Colvin

The appropriate meaning for “Power” in the mission statement is the citizens because as a journalist she wanted to report the truth to citizens who are the most powerful authority of any democratic country. When the majority of the citizens unite, the power that’s been generated is unimaginable but as we all know people are divided based on various elements such as race, class, religion, ideology etc. In addition to that, different forces in the society such as selfish corporate executives (including media owners), politicians, and government officials keep people divided so that they cannot realize that power. I am not saying 100% of above-mentioned persons are like that, I guess you know what I mean. Marie should have been aware of these facts,  but she continued her mission after losing one eye in Northern Sri Lanka while covering the humanitarian disasters in the Year 2001. The level of commitment and bravery she demonstrated by continuing her mission is phenomenal and describing that through words is impossible. However, I want to share these events in order to describe her courage and the background in which she served the mission.

Marie Colvin on Monday, May 18, 2009, at 5:30 a.m., called UN Secretary General’s chief of staff – Vijay Nambiar – in Colombo, Sri Lanka to relay a message that she had received from members of the militias who were surrounded in a bunker with 300 loyalists including women and children. According to Colvin, they were ready to surrender to Sri Lankan government troops and they wanted Nambiar be present there to guarantee their safety.

Vijay Nambiar told Colvin that he had been assured by Sri Lankan president that those who gave up would be safe if they were to “hoist a white flag high”. When Colvin suggested that Nambiar should go personally to witness the surrender, he told her it would not “be necessary” and that “the president’s assurances were enough”. In addition, his brother Satish Nambiar, at the time was working as an advisor to the Sri Lankan military. Hours later the lifeless bodies of dozens of militias including the two men who told Colvin that they were ready to surrender, were put on display. A few months later, General Shavendra Silva whose Division 58 was in charge on the day of above incident was appointed as UN’s Senior Adviser on Peacekeeping Operations.

According to her, understanding and accepting these realities are not difficult but the real difficulty is having faith in humanity to believe that enough people be they government, military or the man on the street, will care when her report reaches the printed page, the website or the TV screen. I wish one day enough people care about her stories and the mission in order to stop war and realize the imperatives of peace.

References:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/9098053/Syria-Marie-Colvin-in-her-own-words-our-mission-is-to-report-the-horrors-of-war.html

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/february222012/lanka-surge.php

Related links:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/tamil/multimedia/2012/02/120226_mariebanda.shtml

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/22/world/meast/syria-journalist-amanpour/index.html

Justa kaj Daŭranta Paco

Posted in Humanity, Peace, War by udoit on January 18, 2010

Justa kaj Daŭranta Paco”, do not worry there are no problems in your computer or in the font settings. I know, you will be thinking, is it typo or font problems. It means “A Just and Lasting Peace” in the language Esperanto. Last month (December 10, 2009) President Obama received the Nobel Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech “A Just and Lasting Peace”, mentioned that he did not bring with him a definitive solution to the problems of war and would need to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.

I was thinking, do anybody in modern western world, thought about causes of war to have lasting peace. In the ancient world, there are many moral/religious text preaching importance of love, non-violence etc. Still history of human kind always filled with many wars and sufferings to people. At that time, Google’s doodle image “Esperanto’s green-starred flag” caught my attention.

Green-starred flag

“I am profoundly convinced that every nationalism offers humanity only the greatest unhappiness…”

Mr. L. L. Zamenhof son of Russian (Belarusian) father and Yiddish (German Jewish) mother born in the Russian empire’s Poland, created the International Language Esperanto to play the role of a neutral communication tool between people of different ethnic and linguistic backgrounds. He published the booklet describing Esperanto in the year 1887. We all know both the world wars happened decades after this language published. Therefore, it is very clear that misunderstanding because of languages, cultures etc. not at all a reason. Incidentally both Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin laden, key persons behind the Iraq and Afghanistan wars respectively, were allies to USA in the past. When compare to other leaders they know USA well and USA knows them well.

What could be reasons for human kind’s sufferings due to war? I found the following interesting Zamenhof’s quote:

“I am profoundly convinced that every nationalism offers humanity only the greatest unhappiness…It is true that the nationalism of oppressed peoples — as a natural self-defensive reaction — is much more excusable than the nationalism of peoples who oppress; but, if the nationalism of the strong is ignoble, the nationalism of the weak is imprudent; both give birth to and support each other…”

I first heard similar words from Mr. E.V. Ramasamy a.k.a. “Periyar. As part of his self-respect and rationalism movement, he said that we should not have any pride or affinity towards our caste* or nationality or religion etc. Basis for these are from the popular old moral/religious teachings “love others like you”. In my experience, it is the toughest thing to practice and needs delicate balance while practicing. People, who do not practice become

E.V. Ramasamy a.k.a. “Periyar”

mean and selfish. In case of other extreme, people will force their desires and dreams on others. For example, while advising or helping others acting like a patron, instead of acting like a partner. These patronages lead a group of people always look up for solutions, rather than think and find solutions themselves. The patron thinks him/her superior than others and the oppression starts.

As Zamenhof mentioned one gives birth to other, so no wonder President Obama did not come with a solution to the problems of  war. I will think more (in new ways?) and discuss in the upcoming posts…

Periyar is a notable social reformer and philosopher from south India. He influenced lives of most people in Tamilnadu while he was alive and now.

*Caste is a social classification system found in South Asian countries (India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh). It is more like class to categorize people, but it affected lives of people negatively than helped them.

Reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._L._Zamenhof

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_mujahid_movement

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saddam_Hussein

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