“…What happened in Sri Lanka was a major Rwanda-like atrocity, in a different scale, where the West didn’t care. There was plenty of early warning. This [conflict] has been going on for years and decades. Plenty of things could have been done [to prevent it]. But there was not enough interest.”
(Noam Chomsky at a 2009 United Nations forum on R2P, the Responsibility to Protect doctrine established by the UN in 2005)
Cruelty is the intentional and avoidable infliction of harm and suffering on sentient beings. In the ethics of Suddha Sanmargam, cruelty is paradigmatic of what is morally wrong and evil.
Further, in Suddha Sanmargam, the prevalence of cruelty in nature and human societies is explained in terms of the ignorance of the truth of soul-kinship (the fact that another sentient being is an embodied soul similar to oneself in terms of its basic origin, nature, and predicament) and its instantiation in the form of the biological truth of the common origin, kinship, nature, and predicament of all life.
The moral laws of compassion and the laws of Karma established by ARUTPERUMJOTHI have their foundations in this truth of soul-kinship and constitute the means of bringing about its realization in சீவர்கள் or embodied souls. I will elaborate in future posts on these central truths of Suddha Sanmargam.
Suddha Sanmargam holds that starvation, torture, and murder are the worst harms which can befall சீவர்கள் (Seevargal), or sentient beings, or embodied souls. When சீவர்கள் inflict such harms on other sentient and embodied beings, or when, despite having the requisite knowledge and capability, they fail to prevent, alleviate, or terminate such harms which threaten or befall other sentient beings, they violate ARUTPERUMJOTHI’S commandments of compassion designed to regulate the conduct of சீவர்கள் toward one another.
As a consequence, they are subject to the unerring operations of the laws of karma instituted by ARUTPERUMJOTHI for the purpose of bringing about a moral transformation in the nature and conduct of such சீவர்கள் or embodied souls, a moral transformation wrought on the anvil of suffering in a variety of forms.
The hearts and egos of such சீவர்கள் hardened by indulgence in cruelty toward their own soul-kin are eventually softened and transformed only by an enforced sojourn in the vale of intense suffering.
In addition, such instances of suffering, whether caused by moral evil in the form of violations of the commandments of compassion, or by violations of the laws of nature, or by lack of caution in one’s actions, are a necessary condition of the development of compassion, a sine qua non, according to Suddha Sanmargam, of enlightenment or liberation. This is because compassion is, in its very nature, directed toward the prevention, alleviation, or termination of suffering.
Hence, the occurrence and reality of various forms of suffering is required for the exercise and development of compassion, a sine qua non of liberation or enlightenment.
But all this does not justify indifference or inaction toward the suffering of others on the grounds that such suffering is a consequence of their own bad Karma stemming from their violations of the moral laws of compassion, failure to act in accordance with the laws of nature, or foolhardiness or lack of caution in their actions.
Indeed, this form of indifference or inaction, regardless of the accompanying specious attempt to justify it by appealing to the bad Karma of the victims, is simply another form of cruelty!
Further, the cause of suffering is irrelevant to the commandments or requirements of compassion to alleviate and/or terminate the suffering.
If I suffer from burns due to foolhardiness or lack of caution in handling flammable material, or if I am afflicted with leprosy due to bad karma, this is irrelevant to the moral requirement of compassion to provide medical assistance to me.
Hence, the fact that a sentient being suffers due to bad karma, failure to act in accordance with the laws and regularities of nature, or lack of caution, is irrelevant to the moral requirements of compassion.
Therefore, on the path of Suddha Sanmargam, there is a solemn moral obligation to refrain from cruelty, to do one’s very best in preventing, alleviating, or terminating cruelty, and, if necessary for these purposes, to document and highlight acts of cruelty.
In light of this obligation, I wish to make a very small contribution by way of drawing attention, in this blog devoted to Suddha Sanmargam, to the crimes of cruelty against the Tamils in Northern Sri Lanka, perpetrated with pathological impunity and callousness on the world stage in the 21st century, by the Sri Lankan government and military.
It is worth noting that the brutal Sri Lankan military receives considerable assistance and training from the Israeli Defense Forces, an equal partner in perpetrating heinous acts of cruelty on defenseless civilian populations in the Palestinian territories and beyond.
Indeed, the tactic adopted by the Sri Lankan government and military of attempting to ensure that there were no international observers in or near its killing fields, by targeting such observers and their locations or fields of operation, is reminiscent of the hoary tactics of the War Criminal IDF in the occupied Palestinian territories and in its invasions of Lebanon.
India, Sri Lanka’s pathetic and morally paralyzed neighbor which harbors delusions of moral superiority in international affairs, also bears considerable moral responsibility for supporting the Sri Lankan government and military in this conflict and turning a blind eye to the latter’s horrendous war crimes against the Tamil-speaking civilian population in the areas of conflict with the Tamil Tigers in 2009 in the Northern territories of Sri Lanka.
It should be noted in this context that the vast majority of Tamils in Sri Lanka are the descendants of the Tamils who migrated from India to Sri Lanka as early as 2nd century CE, a fact supported by the evidence of the discovery of potsherds with Tamil writing dated 1st – 2nd century CE in Poonakari, just below the Jaffna peninsula, in Northern Sri Lanka.
The U.N. (which to its shame is yet to order an international probe into the war crimes of Sri Lanka’s government and military) and the world’s major powers, e.g., USA, Canada, European nations, Russia, China, and Japan also bear responsibility for failing to organize a humanitarian intervention, or any other means necessary, to prevent the mass slaughter of the Tamil-speaking civilians in the areas of conflict in Northern Sri Lanka.
But, of course, it is a truism of Realpolitik that these world powers hold the U.N. captive to their Chimpanzee-style politics and intervene only when their own sordid and petty economic and/or strategic interests, or interests of criminal hegemony, are at stake and rarely on grounds which are only morally compelling.
A recent documentary, by the award-winning film maker and journalist Callum Macrae, on the war crimes of the Sri Lankan military, titled “No Fire Zone – The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka” presents graphic and compelling evidence for the following truths:
The treacherous “No Fire Zone” set up by the Sri Lankan government and military in January 2009 in the Tamil territories in Northern Sri Lanka served as a cruel trap for hundreds of thousands of civilians who flooded into the area in the hopes of finding a safe haven. This area was brutally and indiscriminately shelled by the Sri Lankan military, resulting, according to U.N. estimates, in the killings of some 40,000 – 70,000 Tamils.
Macrae’s documentary shows the decapitated and bloodied bodies of men, women, and children strewn all over the treacherous “No Fire Zone”. This is assuredly the way of Ravana, the legendary demon-king of Lanka vanquished by Lord Rama in the Hindu epic Ramayana, and not the way of the Buddha!
A salient truth pointed out by a U.N. worker, Peter Mackay, who was trapped for two weeks in this vicious and cruel farce of “No Fire Zone”, is the fact that the Sri Lankan military set up the zone within the range of all of their artillery.
Why would they do this if their goal was in truth to provide a safe haven to Tamil civilians fleeing from the conflict? According to Mackay, in reality, the Sri Lankan army was actively targeting these defenseless Tamil civilians in their so-called “No Fire Zone”.
If this is not a case of premeditated slaughter of defenseless civilians based on their ethnicity, and, therefore, a clear case of a war crime and crime against humanity, I wonder what could possibly count as one.
The documentary also describes the shelling of aid-centres and make-shift hospitals after the UN or Red Cross workers informed the Sri Lankan military, in accordance with standard practice, of their locations.
There is footage showing parents wailing over their dying and dead children.
Video footage or images provided by the Sri Lankan soldiers, the true sons of the demon-king Ravana, show a Tamil Tiger commander interrogated and then tortured and killed, his mutilated body in the dirt; those who had surrendered, or been captured, bound, blindfolded, and executed in cold blood; naked bodies of dead Tamil women, who show evident signs of physical and sexual abuse, filmed and accompanied by degrading comments by the onlooking Sri Lankan soldiers, and on and on. The catalogue reeks of all that has gone terribly wrong in the human condition.
SHAME ON SRI LANKA! SHAME ON INDIA! SHAME ON THE U.N. ! SHAME ON THE WORLD POWERS ! SHAME ON HUMANITY!