German Memories in Asia: A Visit to War-Torn Area

Rajkumar Kanagasingam
 


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Our six-vehicle convoy reached Vavuniya, the Northern-most border town of the Island, which separates the LTTE-controlled areas and the Sri Lankan Government-controlled areas.

When we stopped near the Vavuniya clock tower along the highway, there were people, who gathered to see what was happening.

It is a usual phenomenon in Asian rural areas when Europeans make visits.

Whatever the hidden motive or drive which impels them to meet the white-skinned foreigners, especially the Europeans, it is something they would not miss as it is a chance in a lifetime among these village folk.

The obvious reason is that they hardly come across them in their remote places and do not have the wherewithal to travel to Europe and meet them.

The combination of human aspiration, which drives one to see its fellow humans and an attraction towards the distant Homo sapiens cousins, is not something strange.

While we were discussing our next step towards entering into the LTTE-controlled territory, the LTTE’s political wing head of Vavuniya Gnanavel came there with a Member of Parliament Kishor Sivanathan.

After the Ceasefire Agreement between the Sri Lankan Government and the LTTE there has been a new development, which enabled the LTTE’s political wing to operate in the Sri Lankan Government-controlled traditional Tamil areas.

I knew Gnanavel from my CARE days. He was attached at that time to the LTTE’s section of Economic Development, a sub unit of their Political Wing.

The Economic Development section was overseeing economic developmental issues ranging from minor and major tank renovations, Agriculture, Fisheries, Industries, Environmental protection, and so on in the LTTE-controlled areas and coordinating with local and International NGOs in various ways.

Gnanavel is a friendly person and though he was attached to a rebel organization he would freely discuss various issues which are normally difficult to think of for a person who is from a militant movement.

He once asked me at one of the meetings what I would have to say regards setting up a village, which only accommodates women who have lost their husbands at war.

I simply said you don’t make an unofficial red light area in the eyes of others, for if one woman commits a mistake it would reflect on the rest of the women.

He agreed with me.

There are widows not only on the Tamil side but also on the Singhalese side as well and is problematic as it creates a lot of social and economic problems to the Island.

Women are grief-stricken and traumatized when their husbands sacrifice their lives in confrontations.

Rajkumar Kanagasingam is author of a fascinating book on German memories in Asia and you can explore more about the book and the author at AGSEP

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