Sunday, December 06, 2009

Another Sad Tale ...

From the Sri Lankan camps where several hundred thousand Tamil civilians were interned after the defeat of the LTTE :

“The Tigers killed between 20 and 30 people in the group I was with as we tried to run,” V. Sivalingam, one of the final Tamil detainees released on Tuesday, recalled. “There were four or five of them. At first they argued with us. Then the crowd around them grew bigger. They began to panic. People started to push past them. Then they opened fire. Close range. Waist high. Directly at us. It was chaos. The military were shelling us at the same time.”

Sivalingam, a cook from Mullaittivu, had miraculously survived, and succeeded in reaching the army’s lines with his wife of 20 years and five children after an epic flight that involved wading through neck-high sea water for ten hours. Within a matter of days he and his family found themselves interned by the authorities in a Zone 2 camp of the infamous Manik Farm complex, where they remained until Tuesday.

The Tigers didn't want the Tamil civilians to leave the shrinking zone where their fighters were holding out, leaving them open to shelling by the (mainly Sinhalese) army. In the camp Sivalingam spotted one of the LTTE men who'd shot at them.

“I did nothing. I told nobody of his identity. I could have had him arrested but I didn’t. The LTTE had fought long and hard for us. At the end of it all they did terrible things — we know that. But they didn’t have much choice.”
It's not that, though. It's this :

“I said goodbye to my wife of 20 years for good when I walked out of the camp gates,” he said. “We had been through so much together. We had escaped through the fighting knowing it could be the end of our lives. But we survived. I loved her. But in the camp she consorted with the military for extra rations. That association disgraces her. She’s gone to Jaffna. I’ll never have her back.”

Did she do it for the kids ? Who knows ?

Pass on his decision. You really have to be in the shoes, methinks. I can hardly imagine any of it, but I was reminded of the scene in Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward where former Gulag inmate Kostoglotov tells a sympathetic medic (Vera Gangart?) what happened to his imprisoned wife. I paraphrase :

"On the first day the guards arrange for the new women to shower so they can take a look at them. Then they get told, you'll sleep with so and so, you'll live in this hut ... if they refuse, they'll starve them or work them to death as an example to the others ... I don't blame her. She did what she had to do to survive. But we both knew it was over for us."
Solzhenitsyn knew worse than that, of course.

When young women like Laurie Penny argue for the right to be pissed up, half dressed and completely safe on the streets I wonder if they realise how slender is the divide between civilisation and 'do what thou wilt' - and how fortunate we are and have been in this country for the last few hundred years. We've not had anything in England like 1947 India or 1945 Berlin for at least a thousand years, since the Norman Harrying of the North and before that the Danish/Viking invasions.

Historically, our relative peace and civilisation over such a long period is most unusual. My fear is that the utopians of the Cultural Revolution, in well-meaning attempts to turn good into best, are well on the way to restoring us to the historical norms.


Anonymous said...

Martin Amis's Koba the Dread also details the depravity of the gulags. Some scenes sound like Bosch paintings made real.

North Northwester said...

"My fear is that the utopians of the Cultural Revolution, in well-meaning attempts to turn good into best, are well on the way to restoring us to the historical norms.".

That's spot on.
They're sitting on the branch of a tree with the rest of us; high above the circling wolves, and sawing at that branch because it doesn't sprout blossom fruit and leaves all year long.

Sgt Troy said...

"My fear is that the utopians of the Cultural Revolution, in well-meaning attempts to turn good into best, are well on the way to restoring us to the historical norms."

The army still seems pretty sound, grievously wounded soldiers gave two fingers to Brown according to the ST.

The utopians - or traitors as I would say - need to be dealt with. Our history is the guide; Praemunire, Acts of Attainder to smash them

Then perhaps we will be able to start the rebuilding process.

It's them or us

And what do they offer but a hellish impoverished third world hole

Sgt Troy said...

We see now the war of words, of blogs, going on to the streets.

But those who defend the nation are not the aggressors.

They are the malignants who lick their diseased lips at the prospect of national dissolution, crave for another go at Year Zero, and set on their witless fellow travelling dupes.

They cannot be stopped by moderation. Admiral Lord Fisher, responsible for the introduction of the Dreadnought class of battleships into the RN, said that "moderation in war is imbecility".

He was right.

Because we have remained secure for so long we have lost sight of the admittedly harsh realities