November 26, 2009 § 1 Comment
An excerpt from “Teaching Tamil Tigers” by Prof. John Whitehall, Medical Journal of Australia, MJA 2007; 187 (11/12): 703-705
Why they continued to fight still puzzled me, especially as I visited war cemeteries and pondered the carnage in which over 17 000 Tamil young people have died in the past two decades. Understanding began on the afternoon of 27 November, their equivalent of Anzac Day. My students collected me and, for the first time, I observed them in uniform, making their way through the cemetery, squatting here and there with parents of the dead who had begun to arrive in droves to festoon the graves with garlands and food for their young men and women who “were living on in the spirit of Tamil Eelam”.
There were about 3000 graves and soon the cemetery was pulsating with grief. The burning sun sank beneath a row of palms and I anticipated some kind of communal eruption of emotion as candles were lit on the graves and flickered on distorted faces. But there was nothing. No hymns, no chants, no catharsis. Just a speech on the necessity for more sacrifice. Silently, the crowd shuffled away, leaving the garlands and the candles to the moonless night. I began to realise what some people are prepared to endure for freedom.
September 29, 2009 § 1 Comment
Pulled up from the archives of the Medical Journal of Australia –
“…Driving north from Colombo to Jaffna, I was struck by the poverty on the Tamil side of the armed border, the lack of facilities in the hospital in Kilinochchi (the administrative centre of the “Tamil” land) and the dilapidation of the tertiary hospital in Jaffna. Only the crowds in the corridors and the patients on the floors obscured the filth on the walls and passageways. Nothing obscured the suffering of apparently half-dead people being carried on bare metal stretchers at perilous angles up and down the stairs, buffeted in the surge. I was struck by the whites of their fingers as they clung to the metal. Nothing prevented the recycling of dengue through unscreened windows from sullage that pooled from broken pipes alongside the wards. One piddling tap leaned vainly against cross-infection in the crowded children’s barn. Why was this hospital so different to the many I had visited in the Sinhalese areas? I later learned of economic sanctions and underfunding by Colombo…”