Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bleak future for Lankan Tamils: Gordon Weiss

Eleven months after the bloody war in Sri Lanka that led to the complete rout of the LTTE amid intense civilian suffering, a great piece of journalism shook the conscience of the world: The Cage, authored by Gordon Weiss who was the UN spokesperson in the country at the time.

Written with arresting clarity of purpose and a racy style, The Cage unequivocally overturned the Sri Lankan government's stand that there were no civilian deaths in the final days of the war. Besides the vivid description of the final phase of the war with chilling details of brutality, suffering and deaths, it provided an incredible perspective of the genesis, evolution and the culmination of the deep-rooted rift between the Tamil and Sinhala sentiments in Sri Lanka, that found violent expression in the decades long civil war.

The extensive references, meticulous documentation, the bold way of directly naming people like the Rajapaksas, and the unrestrained narration of the unique instruments of oppression in Sri Lanka make the book a gripping, but tormenting experience.

It was The Cage along with a sensational Channel Four Documentary (The Killing Fields) that exposed the veil of secrecy behind the war. The book also provided context for the UN Panel report and has been accepted as a reliable account of what exactly happened during the final days of the war in 2009, when a tiny piece of piece of land in the North of Sri Lanka was under siege by military forces. It is prescribed reading in many universities. {Read on}