Selected Writings by
Sachi Sri Kantha
28 August 2006
Applauding Eric Margolis
I read with interest, your
Margolis's commentary 'Don't provoke Tigers'. It is a must-read
for politicians and policy makers in Canada, USA and Japan. I
applaud Margolis for stating the obvious and I completely agree with
his thoughts, such as "Those accusing others of terrorism are often
far more guilty of it themselves. Tamil Tigers
ably govern a third of
Sri Lanka. Dismissing them as 'terrorists' is as meaningless and
misleading as calling Hezbollah, which is Lebanon's only effective,
non-corrupt government, 'terrorist thugs'. Enough with propaganda
labels. I detest this deceitful, poisonous term, 'terrorism', which
has become a propaganda weapon to demonize political opponents."
Being a long-term resident in
Japan (and of Sri Lankan Tamil origin), I recognize Eric Margolis's
name since syndicated columns used to run in one of the
English-language dailies published from Tokyo in 1990s. From what I
had heard then, and perceived his columns published in the
Mainichi Daily News were thoughtful reading for some of the
influential Japan's policy makers.
Sachi Sri Kantha
Don't provoke Tigers:
The Tamils of Sri Lanka are fighting for their independence after decades of
Eric Margolis, Toronto Sun, 27 August 2006
CALGARY -- This week's arrest of six Canadians of Tamil origin on terrorism
charges reminds me of Sir Peter Ustinov's brilliant maxim: "Terrorism
is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich."
In an apparent rush to U.S. President George Bush's ideology and policies, the
Harper government recently added Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers guerillas to its
terrorism list. The U.S. added the group last year.
In 1983, civil war erupted
in Sri Lanka after decades of growing
strife between majority
Sinhalese Buddhists and minority Hindu Tamils.
Tamil Tigers guerillas have
waged a ferocious, bloody struggle against the Sinhalese government for an
independent Tamil state. Over 65,000 Sri Lankans have died. The war continues in
spite of foreign mediation.
Sri Lanka's Sinhalese control the army, navy and air force. The Tigers have only
small arms, in large part purchased with money raised by Canada's 250,000
Tamils. Canada's Irish did the same for the IRA. Canadian Jews raised funds to
buy arms for Israel's independence struggle from Britain. Sikh separatists in
Punjab were funded by Canadian Sikhs.
The Tigers are courageous, highly effective fighters -- call them the Hezbollah
of South Asia. They used their bodies as human bombs to fight first the
government army, then India when it invaded Sri Lanka in the 1980s in an effort
to annex the island. A female Tiger blew up Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
The Tigers are exceedingly brutal and often murderous. They are a fanatical,
highly dangerous totalitarian organization. But they are not "terrorists," as
the U.S. and now Canada claim.
Terrorism is generally defined as "attacks on civilians for political purposes."
Mad dogs who blow up airliners, trains and schools are terrorists, no question.
But under this definition, then what do we call the Allied mass slaughter of
civilians in Dresden,
Nagasaki and Hiroshima?
Or Russia's massacre of 100,000 Muslim Chechens a decade ago; Israel's 1982
bombardment of Beirut that killed 18,000 civilians; U.S. destruction in 1991 of
Iraq's water treatment plants, creating an epidemic that killed hundreds of
thousands of children?
What about the indiscriminate bombing of Afghan villages by U.S., Canadian and
NATO forces? Or the recent killing of over 1,000 Lebanese and Israeli civilians,
denounced by Amnesty International as a war crime?
Those accusing others of terrorism are often far more guilty of it themselves.
Tamil Tigers ably govern a third of Sri Lanka. Dismissing them as "terrorists"
is as meaningless and misleading as calling Hezbollah, which is Lebanon's only
effective, non-corrupt government, "terrorist thugs."
Enough with propaganda labels. I detest this deceitful, poisonous term,
"terrorism," which has become a propaganda weapon to demonize political
Canada has recently made itself an enemy of the Muslim world and now faces
attacks on its citizens and business interests abroad. This is not a good time
to kick the Tamil Tigers hornet's nest. Sometimes it's better to avert your
gaze, as previous Canadian governments did, and not seek trouble -- particularly
when the Tigers have committed no hostile acts against Canada or the U.S.
Terrorism is a tactic, not a thing. Tamil Tigers are
fighting for independence
after decades of oppression. We westerners have forgotten that
to intolerable oppression is a legitimate right of all peoples.
One really must ask why Ottawa is sticking its nose into another remote, bloody
foreign war and creating new security problems for Canadians when it can't
provide even Second World health care to its own people.