All posts by Ahilan Kadirgamar

Mr Friedman’s Demagoguery

Guest post by SAADIA TOOR and BALMURLI NATARAJAN of the South Asia Solidarity Initiative (SASI)

A response to his op-ed piece in The New York Times, December 3, 2008.

Among Mr. Friedman’s long list of talents seems to be the ability to directly access the minds of dead people.  After all, how else could he know that the real attackers in the Mumbai shootings shared the same set of intentions and motivations as the fictional characters he creates who murder an imam and his wife purely for being Sunni?  Maybe his short sojourns in South Asia through airports and the plush suites of the Marriot and the Taj Mahal Hotel do not allow him to imagine any other kind of Muslim than a unidimensional protestor of xenophobic cartoon images (produced, distributed and hotly defended, incidentally, by the enlightened West).  Maybe this talent comes from the same well of wisdom that made him the biggest promoter of the “innovative genius” of Wall Street bankers not too long ago, a position that he now has some trouble justifying, except by calling them “stupid”.  Or just maybe, he has simply made it a habit to promote views and policies that have no basis in fact and do not stand up to the slightest scrutiny.  After all, those are the perks that come with a regular column in a major newspaper and a guaranteed readership just waiting for one to provide the ‘expert’ fuel to their fire.  Continue reading Mr Friedman’s Demagoguery

Terror and the Political Space of Southasia

A year ago in hearing of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto my heart sank as I thought our region was at boiling point.  Over the last week as I heard news of the brutal attacks in Mumbai my heart sinks further as I mourn not only for Mumbai but for our region.

I want to begin with Southasia, borrowing from Himal SouthasianHimal claims it wants to “restore some of the historical unity of our common living space – without wishing any violence on the existing nation states”.  I want to go further and not only hope for the eventual withering away of those nation states, but also consider the political space of not only Southasian history but of the Southasian present.  And in thinking about Southasia, I can not avoid considering South Asia, as defined by the nation states and their relationship, particularly in the form of SAARC.  And when I remember the last two SAARC Summits in 2007 and 2008, I recall a silence and an emphasis.  Silence on political processes and emphasis on terrorism.  Why the latter and not the former, even from the nation state perspective, both would be important within nation states and between nation states. Continue reading Terror and the Political Space of Southasia

Sadanand Menon: Who speaks on behalf of Lanka’s Tamils?

[I am posting below an article by Sadanand Menon on Lanka’s Tamils and recent political developments in India.  Sadanand Menon’s solidarity for Lankan Tamils also reflects the principled and committed journalism that is so much need for and on Lanka. The suffering of people living in the Vanni in northern Sri Lanka is of utmost concern at the moment. Their humanitarian needs have to be met and that requires international concern and support. However, just as the Norwegian Peace Process silenced the politics and presence of the Muslims and Up-Country Tamils (Tamils of Indian Origin) in the interest of simplifying the problem in Sri Lanka as one between Sinhalese and Tamils, the current wave of concern in Tamil Nadu at a time of war should not further entrench the ethnicisation of the conflict.  Solidarity from India should be for all the oppressed peoples of Lanka, and should not become an opportunistic game for Tamil chauvinism.  This is where conflating the Tamils with the LTTE (the self proclaimed sole-representatives of the Tamils) continues to have a disastrous impact.  The ruling regime in Sri Lanka has given Sinhala Buddhist nationalism centre stage and marginalized the political process to address the grievances and aspirations of all the minority communities (Lankan Tamils, Muslims and Up-Country Tamils).  As Sadanand Menon says support for a “genuinely democratic political process”, should be the basis for solidarity. – Ahilan Kadirgamar]

Sadanand Menon: Who speaks on behalf of Lanka’s Tamils?

 

The LTTE, by all accounts, seems to have been lassoed. The dreaded militant outfit fighting for an independent Tamil state within Sri Lanka, is said to be engaged in a last ditch battle from its encircled base in the Vanni region in Jaffna. The Lankan army claims to be a couple of kilometres short of the LTTE’s administrative headquarters in Kilinochchi. Continue reading Sadanand Menon: Who speaks on behalf of Lanka’s Tamils?