Monday, March 18, 2013

Anti- Sri Lankan protests in Tamil Nadu

It all started with the hunger strike by a few Loyola College students in Chennai. It seemed unclear to me what exactly their primary goal was. They had a 9 point charter of demands, which didn't read well.

It was also not clear to me what suddenly prompted this hunger strike. Sure, there was a scheduled meeting of UNHRC, where a few countries headed by the USA was going to table a resolution criticising Sri Lanka's human rights record. Channel 4 of UK had come up with another documentary, which had the haunting images of Prabhakaran's young son Balachandran eating biscuits in one frame, and found in a sea of blood in another. Two important books had been published during this time - The Cage by Gordon Weiss and Still Counting the Dead by Frances Harrison - documenting the human rights excesses by the Sri Lankan army during their bloody war against the LTTE in 2009.

The Tamil Nadu State Govt. moved swiftly and broke the hunger strike. But this only made the student protest spread across the state. Last week, almost every town had a college or two organising a local hunger protest. Even IIT Madras seemingly participated! Engineering Colleges and Medical Colleges looked to be joining. The State Government declared all colleges closed starting today.

At the political level, DMK's TESO was all for a very strong resolution against SL. Chief Minister and AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha wrote to the Prime Minister asking for a tough stand at UNHRC. Last week parliament witnessed Tamil MPs almost unanimous - even the TN Congress MPs.

Yet, something seemed not right.

The Indian Government response is not clear what its position is. The pressure from Tamil Nadu means that India will be forced not to back Sri Lanka. It will be made to vote along with the US resolution, which unfortunately is itself quite weak. DMK and AIADMK want the resolution to be made strong against SL, but India doesn't have the capability or willingness to do so at this late hour. Further, Even if India cobbles together a tough resolution (much against its own wish), it doesn't have the ability to convince other countries to accept its version.

The protesting Tamil Nadu students have no clue about any of this. They do not even have a clarity on whether to support the US backed resolution or not. Their goal of calling SL action as a genocide is not going to happen, because that campaign started so late.

In the end, the students will feel betrayed.

Without leaders from amidst themselves directing this, students will merely fritter away their energy and will be mostly misused by the various political parties.

Many leftist intellectuals in TN seem to be overly thrilled about the student uprising. They see it as their beloved revolution. They are entitled to their dreams.

Most students who spoke on TV seemed to know very little about the political process. They don't seem to be reading anything at all. It is obvious that whatever they presented as their demands seem to have been given to them by some other operators, with their own ulterior motives.

If the students do not read up and work on their own leaders, they will end up feeling totally disillusioned. They cannot move this current government that easily with such haphazard flash strikes.


  1. Mr.Badrdi, Students are not only demanding India to suggest changes in the American resolution but also demands that If America fails to introduce such changes then India has to bring another resolution as per the demands of the students.

  2. "t was also not clear to me what suddenly prompted this hunger strike"

    I think the Catholic clergy of Loyola College have been nudging students into this course of action. For the last few months a number of conferences have taken place in Loyola College in which strong stand against the SL govt was demanded.

    The Catholic clergy in Jaffna have been urging strong international condemntion of the Rajapakshe regime. In sympathy with their colleagues across the Gulf of Mannar, the Catholic clergy here have also decided to enter the fray. Their main weapon is the student population.

    The so called Student Demands have no clear achievable, and more to the point no goals which affect their lives. I think down 2 months time, a big disllusionment is waiting for them. The ensuing frustrations and disillusionment will fizzle out in a wave of violence.

    This will be like the lawyers agitations in 2009 , which had absolutely no effect on any government.

    Now the students are also demanding Nuremberg style trial for Rajapakshe govt. Nuremberg was possible because it was planned and conducted by the victors in a war. The losers in a war are in no position to enforce their demands.

    REhabilitation of SL Tamils and a dignified civil life for them is the only practical and probably achievable goal now. For that SL Govt must be taken into confidence.

    Tamilnadu politics is only following the path of failure and diillusionment which it has pursued in the matter of Srilankan Elam Tamils for the last 35 years. Looks like no one has learnt anything in the last 35 years of interest in Elam Tamil matters.


  3. @Vaadaikaatru only one resolution on a country can be passed in UNHRC.. @Badri, I completely agree with your point that the student leaders are really not aware of local politicians neither the international politics behind this.. but thats always how the student community is/was.. the fire in them will open the gates towards these things and you can see the agitation going wild even without so called clear views(pity is, even we dont have more clear view but we are not doing anything, so it can be fine :D )and soon they will attain them..My biggest worry is DMK leader Karunanidhi who is really a specialist in demoralising these kind of mob, in the mean time I am not hailing JJ but she doesnt hv that kind of think tank brain.. for example students are protesting for past 10 days and no official from state or central govt went and met them..but in past two days Karuna made it easy for the govt by diverting the issue and the image is created like addressing Karuna is addressing protestors which is not the fact.. Student should come out with more clear views from exactly whom they want an assurance..they can even ask our home minister to meet them instead of keep on protesting.. lets hope things gets better