Puttumatalan was once a quaint village on a picturesque coast. Most of the villagers live on the land or sea. The natural beauty was stunning. Tourists who are in enough of a "know" to find it become absolutely entranced by it's gorgeous scenery. It is one of the few places in this world that has remained untouched by the information age.
This village, although missing the train for modern development, has without a doubt been torn apart by a brutally bloody war, the type associated with a more barbaric time in human history.
All this being said, believe it or not, this is not Iraq. Nor is it Afghanistan. Yes Americans, I know, there is a war going on in more than the two countries we know about, how?
Sri Lanka, the cute little teardrop of an island-state on the lower left of India's coast is in its final and most brutal stages of civil war. As with all civil war, there are civil deaths, and as with all raging racial tensions leading to violence in countries semi-advanced, though known to most Western developed nations as "third world," it's being ignored. Although this war may not be as important to news companies as the train wreck going on in the Middle-East, the numbers are absolutely astonishing and the mental imagery, numbing.
It was 25 years ago that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam became an armed separatist organization seeking independence for Tamils in Sri Lanka. They claim the Sri Lankan government had racist and discriminatory policies toward the Tamils. The war had gone on for so long, escalating and deescalating, that it is now Asia's longest running war. The silver lining in all this bloodshed is the fact that it is all finally coming to an end.
At its largest extent the mostly disapproved of Tamil government ruled over all of the Northern districts and most Eastern seaboard districts. In the past year government forces, mainly through aid, began to greatly overpower the Tamils and through a series of military victories, pushed them back to the suffocating and fatally devastating position of being trapped in the Mullaitivu District. A district barely five square miles.
Due to the already absurdly high number of civilian casualties which have taken place in this conflict, 87,000 is the figure estimated in February, The Sri Lankan government and opposition forces have agreed to a 48 hour ceasefire and a "no-war-zone" for civilians safety and for civilians out of harms way. Naturally, as with any type of political agreement, problems arose. Firstly, this "no-war-zone" happens to be ironically tucked in right in the dead center of the location of the remaining Tamil Tigers and the offensive front of the government forces. Secondly, the ceasefire is mostly being ignored since neither side wants to play fair.
Most countries or governments place more scrutiny on the rebels then than on government. However, United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka Jeffrey Lunsted has not pulled any punches and is taking the easily fallible, politically incorrect stance of distributing blame equally.
"Many civilian Tamils have been abducted and simply disappeared. It is sad to say, but it is almost certain these attacks are carried out by the government. Impunity seems total. No one has been prosecuted for any abuses," said Lunsted.
The government, of course, denies all accusations of civilian deaths and states that if any civilians have died it's because the Tigers are using them as shields.
The Tigers go as far as to say that no ceasefires will be worthwhile unless it is internationally sanctioned. The remaining Tamil Tigers, a number that political scientists are estimating is in the low thousands, are mingling with the civilian population in the safe zone. The Tigers use this tactic to dissuade the government forces from engaging in massive assaults. However, to the bane of the Tigers and the civilians, this has not deterred the government from regular shelling and bombing runs. Human Rights Watch, a humanitarian non-government organization, is estimating that due to the bombing and the Tigers using civilians as shields, deaths have reached seven thousand. Twenty four hospitals have been destroyed along with acres of villages. Anna Neistat was a reporter and researcher was in the Sri Lanka safe zone last month and now provides the United Nations with an eyewitness account of the carnage.
"Nothing had been touched when we got out of the bunker in the morning. There were lots of people in bits and pieces lying around. My gut reaction was that I don't want to see this, but I felt that I had to. One woman was lying on her back with two infants, one of whom survived, as I later heard. One baby was hanging from a nearby tree. Another baby, decapitated, was hanging on the barbed wire surrounding the playground. Next to the woman lay her husband, face down. Next to the family lay other people. One was severed in half. I think the other one was, as well, but I couldn't look anymore," she said.
Chilling, undoubtedly. 100,000 civilians have been displaced and are living in disgustingly unkempt refugee camps. Estimates of how many civilians are still trapped in the battleground are as high as 215,000. The United Nations Security Council met last Wednesday to discuss the matter. Some, like Mexican ambassador to the United Nations Claude Heller, hold a deep concern for the matter.
"The Security Council members, we expressed our deep concern about the humanitarian situation ... and the plight of the civilians trapped within the conflict area," he said.
Although this obviously isn't the case with all members such as China and Russia who have chosen to ignore the matter considered by them to be "internal" and "out of the jurisdiction of the United Nations."
If thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths is out of jurisdiction of the United Nations, then what exactly is the point of a world one-body government?
As long as there is death, the finger pointing will continue. The Tigers will continue the argument that the people don't want to leave and don't want the current state. All the while the government will deny bombings and call the Rebels terrorists.
It's another sardonic day in the "third world." With 200,000 lives on the line, a number sadly decreasing, it would not be inappropriate to hope for the end of the ceasefire. For one of the few times in human history, it's more humane to hope for war, not peace. War so that the war can swiftly be won by whatever side. Ceasefires are futile. A war is never over until one boxer is left standing in the ring. Everyone should cross his or her fingers for a late match KO. With one side terminated it means the end of bombing runs, and shelling and all the facets of war. The death of the wicked to save the innocent. A war for peace.