Sri Lanka: Political

(Stirring Up) A Mighty Shitstorm: The Perils of Ranting On A Civil War

"Never, 'for the sake of peace and quiet', deny your own experience or convictions"

      - Dag Hammarskjold


"True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice"

      - Martin Luther King, Jr.


Having written on many hot-button topics over the years, I'm quite used to impassioned responses to my writing by now, both for and against my point of view. However, nothing I've written before - not my rants regarding religion, not my denunciations of police brutality, and not even my many pieces about Israel's crimes against the Palestinians - has ever generated such a dramatic, emotional response like the one caused by my last piece, Freedom Denied! Are We Happy Now: The Crushing of Sri Lanka's Tamils. We're talking a real shitstorm of controversy here.

Freedom Denied! Are We Happy Now: The Crushing of Sri Lanka's Tamils

"Terrorism doesn't just blow up buildings; it blasts every other issue off the political map. The spectre of terrorism - real and exaggerated - has become a shield of impunity, protecting governments around the world from scrutiny for their human rights abuses"

      - Naomi Klein


"If you listen to the politicians, you might think we are all terrorists"

      - Loesje (International - originally Dutch - free speech organization)


"Our position is clear and frank... We consider the military occupation of our land a terrorist act"

      - Yasser Arafat


So, with the war in Sri Lanka now over and the Tamils having been crushed and brought to their knees, I'd like to ask just one question: Are we happy now? With the Tamils' decades-long struggle for self-determination quashed and their dreams of an independent homeland shattered, are we fully satisfied? Should we give ourselves a pat on the back?

Because there's no denying that this result is largely due to us here in the freedom-loving West. Specifically, I'm referring to how the governments of Canada, America, Australia and the European Union all decided to take sides in this civil war - this brutal ethnic civil war.

Not only did we impose an embargo on one side - the Tamil minority - while fully supporting the other - the Sinhalese majority - but we even went as far as to label the Tamils as "terrorists", while actively working to shut down all of their overseas funding and their ability to arm themselves. Both sides may have clearly been guilty of committing some pretty heinous atrocities, but for some reason we decided that the best thing to do was to condemn the one side, while cheering on and supporting the other.

Worst of all, we sided with the wrong side.

The Throwin' Off The Shackles Rave: First Kosovo, Now The World

Yesterday was a great day for all those of us who truly value freedom and strongly believe in the right to self-determination. The people of Kosovo are finally free. And they definitely deserve their independence and their freedom from Serb domination and oppression. Simply put, they wanted their own country and, therefore, they deserve their own country.

And, hey, you know it's a rare day indeed when I applaud a decision by George W. Bush, but, after his quick recognition of Kosovo as an independent nation yesterday, he simply must be praised... even by the likes of me. And, no, I'm not being sarcastic here.

The Blame The Victims Rant (Up with the strong, down with the weak)

I'd like to ask one simple question: Just what kind of country are we? What kind of people are we? And I'm not just talking about Canada and Canadians, but the whole Western world. Do we really see ourselves as the champions of the strong over the weak? Are we really for the oppressors rather than the oppressed? The colonizers rather than the colonized?

Yes, I'm at least partly referring to Israel and their treatment of the Palestinians (and at times the Lebanese as well), but I'm also talking about many other conflicts around the world. It seems that we now, in almost all cases, side with those in power; that is, those doing the most killing, oppressing and terrorizing; those committing the worst war crimes and human rights abuses. And when I say "we" I, of course, mean the "we" represented by our governments and the majority of our media.

Aside from the Darfur conflict in Sudan, it seems we've taken sides AGAINST the weak, the oppressed, the downtrodden and the victimized in just about every conflict and struggle around the globe in recent years; AGAINST people who are only fighting for that which we all take for granted and accept as our inherent rights. So, seriously, what the hell's wrong with us? That's what I want to know.

Sri Lanka #2: Driving With Dr. Sus

One of the main differences between India and Sri Lanka, and one of the first things we noticed after arriving here, is how clean Sri Lanka is compared to India. Flying in from somewhere like Singapore, Japan, Canada or most other rich countries you wouldn't think so, but flying in from India (a filthy country with garbage - and cowshit - absolutely everywhere! Though, of course, not in "Delhi Canada") the difference was striking. The main difference is that they have street cleaners here, ironically, I read, imported from India since they can pay them less than locals would work for. Why the Indian government can't also hire some street cleaners (not just for the rich areas) or even put out some garbage cans is a mystery to me. But, if you put out garbage cans then you have to hire people to empty them. Better to just let the cows eat everything - plastic and all! Oh, and for anyone who's mistakenly thinking the Indian government is poor and, therefore, has no money for things like garbage cans or street cleaners, you really should know that India, like China, has a plan to send a mission to the moon in the next few years. Millions illiterate and not attending school; tens of thousands dying each year of treatable diseases; horrible poverty everywhere and they're spending billions of dollars to go to the bloody moon?! Priorities! But, hey, I'm supposed to be writing about Sri Lanka and I was just wanting to say that it's a relatively clean country - but I guess I got a bit carried away. A relatively clean country with some real priorities, that is: free, universal education and medical care. And A Man Named Bunny too!

Sri Lanka #1: The First 2 Days - Meeting Dr. Sus

OK, let's get one thing straight right from the get-go, Sri Lanka is simply the greatest place I've ever visited! After a delay of over 7 weeks I'm finally going to start writing about our time here. And what a time it's been so far. I've been too busy up till now (simply having fun) to write, but I've now made some time and, man, do I ever have a lot to tell. How will I remember all the details from so many weeks ago? Don't worry. I have hundreds of pages of notes. Enough, in fact, to write a whole book just about these past 7 and a half weeks. We had a great 10 months in Nepal and India, but in just the first month here we'd already had more amazing experiences than during our entire time in those 2 countries. Seriously! A month after arriving here it was as if we'd already been living here for years, with our own soccer friends, basketball friends, drinking friends, Beach Club friends and "come stay at our place" friends too. And not to forget Bunny and Dr Seuss.

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