Lots o’ stuff going on in South Asia this week! Tata unveils the Nano, world’s cheapest car (cue whine-track from self-serving American environmental movement) U.N. announces Humanitarian Crisis in Sri Lanka (cue crickets). Orphanage in Bangladesh actually a terror cell? Because there’s so much to say about each (!) I’ve split the posts.
Lanka Lanka Lanka:
While Indian scientists rush to develop a curry that can denatured and consumed in space, trouble remains afoot (and a sock and a boot, yo) in Jaffna, the sliver of land at the top of Sri Lanka where thousands of Tamil refugees are still trapped in what has officially become THE most ignored and atrocious humanitarian crisis in the world, right now. If you think the 1,400 deaths in Gaza were bad, refill your inhaler.
If I may digress for one moment—thank you—the sickest thing about Sri Lanka is that we’re talking about an issue that is grossly akin to what’s happened/happens in Israel/Palestine. Here you have a sizable ethnic minority living in a country that was created fairly arbitrarily by the British in the 1940’s, in which they have virtually no power despite a legitimate claim to self rule. You have a soveriegnty movement that turned violent/terrorist (Tamil Tigers got their training from the PLO). You have the brutal government suppression of said uprising, with thousands of civilian casualties, hundreds of thousands of refugees, and an aeomeba-like terror cell that just doesn’t die. Rinse and repeat for a few decades, and we’re talking mirror images, although Sri Lanka has an ace in the hole when it comes to the body count.
And yet, Sri Lanka gets about 0.001% of the media attention Palestine does.
Yes, I realize that America gives billions of dollars in aid to Israel, and not to Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese government. But that alone doesn’t explain our fetishistic adoration of this conflict, especially given how we’ve opened our hearts to Darfur, etc, etc. Then again, Darfur is about mostly Christian villagers being killed (etc) by mostly Muslim soldiers, which fits very neatly into the same old saw we’ve been reading since the Crusades. By contrast, we have in Sri Lanka a bunch of Buddhists and Hindus tearing each other apart…what do you do with that? One wonders if a New York Times reporter stationed in Colombo might not figure out how to sell the world’s most critical humanitarian crisis to a U.S. audience, but since the Times has no reporter in Colombo, we’ll probably never know.