the grave of s. thinusika, 8 years

in his comment on a bitter victory, thomas stated that there is no justification for terrorist attacks like the ones the ltte comitted. of course he is correct, still my answer contained a big ‘however’.

to understand why many of the tamils did not support the ltte any more due to their murderous acts even against their own people, but still mourn their demise as it seemed to be the only force able to face the government and it’s allies, let me tell you the story of the murder of the 8 years old s. thinusika, already subject of my post out of my depth.

the grave of s. thinusika, 8 years(2) thinusika was the daughter of s. santhirarajah, who was abducted for ransom in a white van and probably killed 2 years ago. already at that time it was suspected that this crime was a joint venture of tamil and government (para)military forces. now his daughter was abducted for ransom and killed, her body was found 3 days later in an abandoned well. only days afterwards, her assumed kidnappers were found, bullet-riddled and with bound hands. so no trial, no testimonial, but probably some cover-up of unwanted evidence. lifes, especially tamil lifes don’t count very much in sri lanka. and again this crime and the way it is treated nourishes assumptions that a paramilitary group is involved.

the grave of s. thinusika, 8 years(3) my discussions with many tamil friends circled again and again around the question of justice. before the war there was an average number of murders followed by trials and convictions. the war changed this completely: now there are killings on a weekly basis and no persecution, no trials. spies and denunciators rule, and army, police and paramilitary groups are accused of making people vanish at will, ‘white vans’ are now the current name for this threat. the tamil groups cooperating with their government still wear their arms and use them for their own profit by stealing, robbing, kidnapping. in obligatory briefings, united nations security names those gangs and their organized crimes as biggest threat for safety for locals and foreigners.

so there is no hope for the tamils: the ltte is dead and gone. army, paramilitary and other armed groups operate outside the law, and the government offers nothing but propaganda about patriot and non-patriot sri lankans.

so the grievances of thinusika’s mother will replicate on and on.


  1. It took me a few seconds to realise that the grave itself is more or less invisible, except for the small mound of earth. No headstone or other proof that someone lies beneath. A someone who meant the world to someone else. Sad.

  2. Peter, the headstones and the bordering like in the neighboring graves will be built after one year only. The reason is that the decaying body will otherwise cause movements and lowering of the stonework.

    But the depressiveness of this simple grave (the coconut marks the place of the head) shows even more in this bare state.

  3. The problem with conflicts like that is, that they don't go away only because one side wins. The LTTE were after all a tamil force made up of tamil people. The force has gone, but the tamil people are still there.

    Identification of "the enemy" by simple traits like nationality, color of skin or language is another phenomenon in conflict situations. Again, the enemy has gone, but there are still people with the traits that identified the enemy.

    Unfortunately the démise of a political and military force makes the world believe that the conflict has ended. It has not. Conflicts take a darn long time to end. Take my home of Carinthia for instance.

    Carinthia has a strong but slowly diminishing minority of Slovenes. Most of the southern half of Carinthia was slovenian territory only a century ago. It was only natural, that at the end of the Austrian Empire a major part of the Carinthian Slovenes voted for joining the Yugoslav Kingdom when it came to the referendum in 1920, after two years of civil war. Still, the result was an overall vote for keeping Carinthia whole and as a part of Austria.

    As a result of their perceived illoyality to the "German Case", the Slovenes were persecuted by the Nazi, and of course partisan resistance in Carinthia was almost exclusively a slovenian effort.

    At the end of WWII, the partisans had become distinctly communist (as had Yugoslavia), there was again an effort to split Carinthia up, again it failed due to allied politics.

    Those two events, the Carinthian Civil War (it's called "Abwehrkampf" here) and the slovenian partisan resistance, still hurt the relationship between "German" and "Slovenian" Carinthians and still stirr up hate.

    It's stupid when you think of it. All of the people who have fought between 1918 and 1920 are dead now. All of the people who stood on opposing sides in WWII will be dead soon.

    And still. People have died and they were parents or children, brothers and sisters, neighbors and friends. It's the relations that survive, that keep the stories going, the memories coming back, but that also keep the hate afresh. People have died, and most of them have died if not FOR a cause, then at least due TO a cause. For their own network of relations, all of their deaths were unjust, and thus their memory and the myth of their death live on, again fueling hate and being instrumentalized by populist political forces.

    And that happened in Austria, in the heart of a united and peaceful Europe, in a country that had continuous peace for 64 years. How much chance can the tamil people of Sri Lanka have, only months after what the world perceives as the "End of a Conflict"?

  4. Andreas, that is the truly sad fact, that those conflicts get traded on, kept alive by personal grief and freshly fueled by those who want to increase their influence by cheapest possible means. You experience this in Carinthia, it is similar in some cities in western and eastern germany and of course throughout the world.

    One key factor in many of those conflicts seems to be the denial of the language – a pattern that you find at the heart of only too many wars in the world. In Sri Lanka, this was it what the singhalese majority did in 1956: Making Singhalese the official language and denying the non-bilingual Tamils a decent life under a rule of law.

    What we see in Europe is that many conflicts get subdued in growing economies, where the increase of personal wealth for a while dampens the feelings of rejection against other ethnics. But it doesn't need much visionary power to predict that racism will rise its ugly head even more when the economic downturn affects bigger parts of the population.

  5. Yup! And that's not necessarily eased by the fact that the increasingly complex world and the people's wish for simple solutions drive our politicians more and more into wildest populism. Think of the censorship debate in Germany! It could be so easy: a constitution is a constitution and does not have to be touched. That's what it was meant for, right? Same with the late Jörg Haider. He simply refused to acknowledge the judgements of the Constitutional Court and to act accordingly.

    Hmm … I could never understand how the Roman Empire could fall into such a succession of short and mostly politically blind, petty dictatorships, but I guess now I get an idea of the mechanisms, and I can see the same mechanisms at work in our time. It's pretty disgusting.

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