Saturday, May 02, 2009

Killing for the promise of democracy in the aftermath

Sanjana has posted here on Groundviews a poll asking whether it will be acceptable to kill the civilians if along with it you can get rid of the LTTE. He was triggered by a comment made by one of Sri Lanka's most prominent bloggers who in an email conversation with him had said:

“I would accept 50,000 dead to finish the LTTE. That’s what it comes down to. And I would, to end that war.”

I had noted this blogger slipping to nationalist ego (now worse this is extremism and i wont mind calling it racism as well). I said on my twitter deck on the 1st of May: "one of our prominent bloggers formerly very critical of the govt has now got caught up with the nationalist ego. very sad".

The question that Sanjana poses is as follows:

Would killing 50,000 civilians to finish off the LTTE bring peace?

and the voting options:

Yes, if this is what it takes.
Maybe, if there are guarantees of a post-war political process on power-sharing.

One commenter on Groundviews was disgusted:

"Much as admire what you have accomplished with Groundviews this poll does it a disservice; I am very disappointed. It is just stoking extremism based on heresay, surely not what you intend to foster with Groundviews. How can the numbers or the sources you quote be verified or the implication that it is the aim of the government?"

Sanjana had a good response:

"This post intends to interrogate extremism. The numbers in the quote are really peripheral to the argument, which exists today, that to finish off the LTTE, collateral damage is not just unavoidable, it is even a prerequisite. What do you feel about that?

"If you cared to read them, and I suspect you’ve not, *both* stories referenced above are unverified, yet the immediate reaction of both you and another before you is to believe the one against the LTTE and question, nay, vehemently deny the one against the Government. I find that an telling reaction."

I responded:

"Most of the commenting on this post so far wishes to be in denial of the extremism/racism that is there in this country - largely probably because they are uncomfortable with this rise in racist/extremist instincts in our society and/or because they think this cant be . I know who Sanjana is talking about and i was one of the first to note this prominent blogger slip away to nationalist ego. This prominent blogger was a very good critic of the Government and politics in general and it is very shocking for me to find people like this blogger slip away. The change in the mindset of this blogger is indicative of two things that have been part of the moderate southern polity’s psyche (sorry for this random group formulation) especially in the Mahinda Rajapaksha era: 1) That what the govt is doing is acceptable or tolerable given that the other side (the LTTE) is a larger evil 2) (1) is acceptable because of the very huge democratic potential that will be opened after the defeat of the greater evil the LTTE. These are the reasons, i suspect, for our prominent blogger to be happy to see 50,000 people die if it will wipe off the LTTE as well.

I contest both and i comment on some of these questions in a comment/s i wrote to Rohni Hensman’s post on the same here at

Niran Anketell, Ahilan Kadirgamar, Nirmala Rajasingham and Ragavan’s comments to Rohini’s post are valuable reading.

I am with Sanjana on posing this question. Ya it shocks but its the kind of question that our society has stooped low to even consider".

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