UNCEASING WAVES

Some Comments on The Purananuru

Posted in Society and Culture by Karthick RM on December 2, 2017

1. On Amazon.in, the cheapest copy of the best English translation of The Purananuru (Trans. George L Hart and Hank Heifetz. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999) available is at Rs. 1670 (last time I checked). I got my as-good-as-new copy at a second hand book store in the UK for 2.50 £, roughly Rs. 220. Lucky me!

2. This work of poetry is also a passageway into the world of the ancient Tamils, a people who celebrated war, love, meat-eating, wine, knowledge, and generosity. And the poems indicate a strong sense of ‘Tamilness’ in terms of a people and a geography.

3. Martial ferocity is praised. So is compassion, charity & righteousness. The strong and wealthy are urged to provide for the weak and needy.

4. Providing for agrarian prosperity, building dams, protecting order in trade and society and curtailing banditry are considered desirable qualities of kings. And the Sovereign is considered ‘the life of the world’.

5. The poems are thoroughly secular in nature, though there are occasional references to gods, including Brahminical ones like Rama – Ravanan is referred to as an ‘arakkan’, translated as ‘demon’. The first poem is an ode to Shiva. Murugan is the most referenced god in the poems.

6. There is clear reference to Brahmins who are learned in the Vedas, who are considered as holy as cows, and who are deserving of protection and gifts. Likewise, there are also vague references to the ‘low born’. (But a Tamil scholar recently told me that the system of caste in the Tamil land as we know it today originated only after the fall of Cholas.)

7. Chastity and purity of ‘women of the house’ is glorified. At least one poem attests to the practice of Sati.

8. Though it appears that war and wealth are praised, a closer reading also suggests a stoic asceticism of the poets.

9. The most celebrated animal in these poems is the Tiger. No wonder…

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On Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK

Posted in Politics by Karthick RM on December 12, 2016

Read full article on The Wire

“Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK is not hostile towards any minority or ethnic group and does not claim to represent any nationalism or ethnocentrism. It even eschews the progressive anti-Brahminism of the erstwhile Dravidian movement and claims to represent all sections, upper-caste and lower-caste alike. Although it has a strong base among the Thevar castes, AIADMK also enjoys considerable popularity among other intermediate and lower castes, as proven by its win over the Vanniyar-based PMK and the Adidravida-based VCK in the recent elections.

The AIADMK is also not anti-Communist in its discourse since its Puratchi Thalaivar (revolutionary leader) MGR and his protégé Jayalalithaa, the Puratchi Thalaivi (revolutionary leader, feminised), claim to be spearheading societal progress and change. In practice, neither MGR nor Jayalalithaa have allowed any form of trade unionism to emerge under their rule. For instance, brutal police operations against Naxal supporters under MGR’s rule caused no public outrage. Likewise, whenever parliamentary communist parties have fought elections against Jayalalithaa, they have been  faced with electoral decimation.

That leaves only the DMK as a powerful and credible challenge to the AIADMK. If the party is consistent on one thing, it is its opposition to the DMK and even this is not on ideological grounds; it only claims to be a better DMK.

AIADMK is marked by an explicit absence of ideology. But then, it is only in its absence that ideology becomes most imminent.”

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After Jayalalithaa… Few Comments

Posted in Politics by Karthick RM on December 12, 2016

It is not a failure of the Dravidian movement that a Brahmin woman took over a Dravidian party; the fact that she has defended OBC, SC and ST reservations and the TN government has implemented the same without any tampering whatsoever is a testimonial to the movement’s success.

***

Despite being sworn enemies, the DMK leadership has shown remarkable decency in their condolence messages for JJ. At such times, one is tempted to ask, would have the AIADMK responded in a similar manner had it been the DMK leader who passed away? If the AIADMK’s response to Murasoli Maran’s demise in 2003 is any indicator, it would have been quite depressing. This is of course, a negative speculation. In 2016, maybe, could one positively speculate that a level of political decency has been reached among the parties? Full credits to the DMK for their gestures – even if it was purely symbolic, symbols do matter to politics. And I hope the AIADMK also responds reciprocally when the time arises…

DMK leaders making filthy sexist remarks on Jayalalithaa has been noted and criticized by Indian journalists writing obituaries for her today – I hope they are also sensible and sensitive enough to record and criticize filthy casteist remarks made by AIADMK leaders on Karunanidhi when they write articles about the DMK patriarch in the future. Verbal abuse, sexist or/and casteist innuendos, character assassinations, unrepentant logical fallacies are commonplace not just in the political terrain of Dravidian politics – but also among intellectuals, writers, poets, literary critics in the Tamil scene. Observing some of their fb walls for a few days will give one access to a litany of swear words.

Political decency (which is VERY different from political correctness) is important. It is the grounds on which democratic dialogue can sustain itself. In the absence of any radical Third, the Dravidian parties are the only bulwark against a marauding Hindutva mobilization. If the time comes, only if there is political dialogue between the two main parties, can there be an effective, democratic opposition to the Hindi-Hindu centralization that is going on. And this is the time for the DMK and AIADMK to identify their political enemy not in each other, but elsewhere. Hope the next gen leaders are up to it!

***

JJ’s demise has brought out all sorts of charlatans into public view. Analysts praising her feminism. Journos scripting a K. Balachander story of an innocent Brahmin woman cheated by unscruplous non-Brahmin thugs. DK defending the Sasikala crime syndicate. Hindutva supporters opposing Sasikala on ethical grounds. Lefty critics equating JJ with Modi and trivializing the latter’s crimes. Ultra-Dalitist critics equating JJ with MK and ignoring the former’s vastly superior social capital. DMK critics of Mannargudi Mafia acting as though Azhagiri does not exist. AIADMK critics… well, no such thing exists.

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Joker – Some Points

Posted in Society and Culture by Karthick RM on August 20, 2016

1. Somasundaram is (again) one of Koothu Pattarai’s great gifts to Tamil cinema. This man deserves accolades at several levels. I fervently hope he does not get misused by the film industry like that other great Koothu Pattarai product, Pasupathi.

2. This movie shows how political satire must be made. Except maybe for MR Radha’s performances, this movie is an exemplar of the genre.

3. Strength: The story, the actors. It is really tough to elegantly play the role of a mentally unstable person who thinks that he is perfectly normal. DiCaprio did that in Shutter Island. Somasundram does it here. Madness plays in the iris of his eyes and on the corner of his lips.

4. Crux: The toilet. Normally, the suppressed, ‘dirty’ aspect of a caste society, the toilet is the center of this movie. The director’s genius is revealed here.

5. Flaw: The pedantic dialogue of Mu Ramasamy in the climax. His “religion is evil, caste is evil, politics is evil” perspective makes it look like AAP propaganda. The movie should have ended with Somasundaram’s death.

6. Comment: Someone should send Slavoj Zizek a subtitled copy of Joker. He may write a chapter on how not only Somasundaram’s character of Mannar “a beggar who believes that he is a king” is delusional, but ha ha, even the king who believes that he is a king is delusional. That is, psychopathology is not a obtrusion in society, but its core. So maybe, it is not just Mannar who believes that he is the President is mad, even the President who believes that the politics of development has delivered is also mad. And so on and so on. And so on.

7. On a serious note: Look at it this way. Mannar thinks that the President is a post that has power. The President knows that the post has no real power, but acts as though it does. So who is the Joker?

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Liberal Feminism or Subaltern Misogyny? No Thanks!

Posted in Society and Culture by Karthick RM on August 14, 2016

The subaltern hypermale dominating and disciplining the upper-class, ostensibly upper-caste, female is a usual theme in Tamil cinema. While MGR did this by his mere presence by his being the patriarch par-excellence, the later ‘heroes’ did so almost always by recourse to physical violence. This is why Rajanayagam’s analysis in his “Popular Cinema and Politics in South India” where he argues that MGR emphasizes the valorous man and Rajinikanth emphasizes the virile man needs to be expanded. Rajini, Vijay, Dhanush and others, NEED to emphasize the image of the virile man to compensate for the lack of either virility or valor. And the only way this compensation plays out is on the body of the independent woman who is harassed, harangued, and humiliated to play a disciplined role.

As bad as the reel world is, real Tamil society is a lot worse. Women wearing leggings, women driving two-wheelers or cars, women in academia, women on facebook, women writing poetry, women supporting radical politics, women seeking protection of the law, or women just living their own lives, are all subjects of vulgar attacks by self-declared subalternists who need to demonstrate their virility (i.e. compensate for a lack) by attacking such women and claiming it to be part of a class struggle and what not.

Liberal feminism has a thousand problems and raises a thousand questions. But defending and glorifying subaltern misogyny has no answers to it.

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Mani Ratnam or Bala?

Posted in Society and Culture by Karthick RM on April 23, 2015

Watched Mani Ratnam’s “Anjali” and Bala’s “Naan Kadavul” back to back. Here are some thoughts:

A Still from Anjali

A Still from Anjali

Mani Ratnam’s “Anjali” was undoubtedly his best film. A middle class melodrama about a petit-bourgeois family with three children, the youngest of whom has a terminal illness, in addition to having a stunted mental development. Performance wise, everyone in the movie was brilliant (except the Janakaraj role, which is a caricature). And all central characters in the movie are cute, desirable, adorable. The central focus of the film, the child’s suffering and its impact on those around her, is converted to an aesthetic phenomena. By the power of her innocence, she converts an entire neighborhood of mean kids into shedding a tear for her. When the movie finishes, you too might be left crying, because you too are a target of this conversion. But what really lies beneath your platonic compassion is a perverse pleasure that you have enjoyed – that you have done your duty by feeling for an innocent, sweet, suffering child. You can leave feeling human.

A Still from Naan Kadavul

A Still from Naan Kadavul

Bala’s “Naan Kadavul” also deals with disability – but instead of the aestheticized, and anesthetized, suffering of an individual subject in a ‘normal’ middle class family, he introduces you to the suffering of the underclass among the underclass – beggars. Suffering, in Bala’s vision, is not some catastrophic event, but everyday existence. Bala takes pain to whole new level. He takes you to the the daily life of a class to whom the closest relationship the middle-class viewer might have had is one of condescending charity. The central character of the “man-god” (Arya) only lampoons the godlessness of religion. Spirituality and humanity are not venerated – their failures are exposed. There are no cute characters and the only character which you might find ‘tolerable’ – the blind beggar played by Pooja Umashankar – is beaten to a pulp and seeks salvation in death. (Note: Death is the only thing that the Hindu variant of liberation theology can offer.) Bala’s aesthetics, or anti-aesthetics, breaks the platonic trinity of the Good, the True and the Beautiful. In the end you are left feeling overwhelmed by emptiness. Or, closer to the human essence.

Mani Ratnam tests your middle class sympathy. Bala tests the limits of your middle class stomach. Mani Ratnam offers you a pseudo-reality for you to enjoy the illusion of reality without its harsher side-effects. “Beer without alcohol”. Bala on the other hand offers you that very reality that you are unwilling to admit, that dark corner of humanity that society tries to repress. If great art is meant to be something penetrative, Bala is the greater artist. Mani sir only scratches around the surface.

So, Bala > Mani Ratnam.

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Pirapaharan at Sixty: The Meaning of the Man

Posted in Liberation Struggles by Karthick RM on December 8, 2014

Originally published on Sangam

Is Pirapaharan dead?

Ten years back, TamilNet senior editor and military analyst Taraki Sivaram wrote a brilliant piece on the political legacy of Pirapaharan at fifty.  Come 26 November this year, the founder-leader of the LTTE and one of the most brilliant military minds of South Asia will turn sixty.  Quite a lot has been said, by both admirers and adversaries, about the life of the man.  But what is his meaning?

It is impossible to understand Pirapaharan unless one understands the interrelated essences of Sangam poetry – love and war – and its influence on the Tamil military tradition.  The ethics of Tamil akam poetry, that of unconditional love towards the object of concern influences the ethics of the puram poetry, which calls for unconditional fidelity to the king and the kingdom.  However, even this unconditionality carries within it a condition that reinforces the unconditionality.  For instance, the woman of virtue (Tamil progressives will, and with ample justification, criticize this, but let us leave discussions about gender problems in epic poetry for another day) is the object of love because she is a woman of virtue, the love has a platonic character because of the virtuous nature of the object.  Likewise, the soldier’s fidelity to the king is because the king is loyal to the kingdom, and the king’s loyalty to the kingdom commands the soldier’s fidelity.  The object of love and the object of fidelity function as cornerstones in a discursive network, without which the network would collapse.  In other words, they provide meaning to the meaning of things.

In a sense that is Pirapaharan.  At sixty, in what some call the ‘post-conflict era’, the symbolism of Pirapaharan speaks that Tamil nationalism is alive and kicking.   The 5 lakh students who got out on the street in Tamil Nadu in early 2013, and thousands of protestors in the diaspora who challenged the injustice of the international community carried his image.  These activists believe that this image signifies Tamil nationalist resistance to oppression.  But isn’t this ‘idol worship’ problematic?

Commenting on the veneration of revolutionary leaders, Scottish philosopher Thomas Carlyle writes “‘Hero-worship’ becomes a fact inexpressibly precious; the most solacing fact one sees in the world at present.  There is an everlasting hope in it for the management of the world.  Had all traditions, arrangements, creeds, societies that men ever instituted, sunk away, this would remain.  The certainty of Heroes being sent us; our faculty, our necessity, to reverence Heroes when sent: it shines like a polestar through smoke-clouds, dust-clouds, and all manner of downrushing and conflagration.”  An oxymoronic, mostly moronic, ‘liberal left’ discredits the idea of leadership.  No less a person than Lenin believed that a revolution required revolutionary leaders who stuck to their principles, and were willing to make decisions that the ordinary could not make.  This belief is reinstated by contemporary philosophers like Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou, who also argue that a true revolutionary leader represents a Universal over and beyond narrow particulars.

While Lilliputian minds would fix a region, religion or caste label to Pirapaharan, the real ideological significance of Pirapaharan is that he transcends these narrow particularities and serves as a Universal referent for Tamil nationalists.  Not only is Pirapaharan now a symbol of Eelam Tamil nationalism, he has also transfigured as a symbol of Tamil civilizational consciousness.  What else explains the tens of thousands of youth in Tamil Nadu considering an Eelam Tamil leader as their own Tamil hero who provided a promise of Tamil renaissance?

But every great uniter is also a divider.  As Pirapaharan becomes the symbolic standard that unites patriots, he is also the standard that separates traitors.  The Pirapaharan school of thought, which is the radical extension of the thoughts of V. Navaratnam and SJV Chelvanayagam, as much as it is a standard for evaluating patriotism, also becomes the scale by which treason is judged.  To be a true Christian, it is imperative to believe in the struggle between Good and Evil, not just external Evil, but also the Evil that is internal.  Likewise, to be a Tamil nationalist in the footsteps of Pirapaharan means not just an opposition to the Sinhala state and its allies, but also traitors who undermine the struggle from within.  And for that, we need to keep reminding ourselves what Pirapaharan means, what is the idea of Pirapaharan.

Coming back to the original question – Is Pirapaharan dead?  This might confuse some people, but I would say that Pirapaharan the individual died when he founded the LTTE. Ever since, what has existed is an idea.  An idea that means sovereign Tamil Eelam; the creation of a society that is based on universal principles of justice and equality; a society without regionalism, communalism, sexism or casteism; a society where the love of heroic passions replaces the lust for trivial sentiments; a society without particularist chauvinism or cheap liberal cosmopolitanism; the creation of a people who resonate the glories of the Tamil past purging it of all darkness and enriching it with the emancipatory narrative of a universal future; the idea that the impossible can be made possible by the Will to Freedom.

And ideas, like heroes, are immortal.

Finally, when people ask questions like “Will Pirapaharan come back,” I remember a conversation I had with a Jesuit in Chennai.  I asked him “Do you really believe in the Second Coming of Christ?”  He replied nonchalantly, “I do not know if he will come or not. But if he does, I want to be sure that I have remained a true Christian, that I have done all in my power to serve the humanity he so loved so that he will be pleased on arrival.”  This is precisely the spirit that Tamil nationalists must adopt now.

Indian PM’s Boycott of CHOGM, Foreign Policy, and Tamil Nadu’s Role

Posted in Politics by Karthick RM on November 12, 2013

Originally published on The Weekend Leader

Contrary to claims in certain sections of the Indian media that the Indian Prime Minister not taking part in Sri Lanka’s CHOGM compromises the country’s ‘national foreign policy’ in favour of ‘regional interests’, a decision by the highest political authority of India to avoid participation in this event is precisely in favour of India’s national interests.

If India really had long-term strategic vision, it would completely boycott the CHOGM, but that is a different argument.

Let us also leave the moral question of engaging with Sri Lanka – a country accused of genocide, war crimes, systematic rape and torture – aside.

What could be a rational reason for Dr. Manmohan Singh to boycott the CHOGM?

The Arthashastra emphasises that the welfare of a state depends on an active foreign policy. The operative word here being ‘active’.

An active foreign policy takes into consideration not just relations between states, but also intra-state relations, especially those between power blocs within a state, and the geographical location of these power blocs.

In the Sri Lankan context, an active foreign policy of India must, in all rationality, be mediated by the geographical and demographic power bloc that is Tamil Nadu, which is historically and culturally, not to mention emotionally, connected to Tamil Eelam.

In that sense, the ‘regional interests’ of Tamil Nadu must be part of any Indian foreign policy calculation vis-a-vis Sri Lanka.

At no point of time in history has pro-Tamil Eelam activism in Tamil Nadu been so politically charged and conceptually clear as in the years succeeding the genocide in May 2009.

The new generation activists, smooth, suave and adept in their use of social media for political purposes, have generated tremors in the state in their protests against the US resolution earlier this year.

The heat generated by the Tamil Nadu youth, besides inspiring diaspora youth to stage similar protests, also compelled the Tamil Nadu government to pass resolutions calling for a referendum among the Eelam Tamils.

And it is precisely their pressure and that of grassroots Tamil political parties, which compelled Tamil Nadu State Assembly to pass a unanimous resolution calling for a full Indian boycott of CHOGM in Sri Lanka.

There is another thing to note here. While pre-2009 pro-Tamil Eelam activism in Tamil Nadu was directed primarily against Sri Lanka, after May 2009 the informed political discourse began challenging the role of the world establishments – especially the US and India – and their role in assisting the Sinhala state.

Except during the period of anti-Hindi agitations in Tamil Nadu, at no other point has Tamil civil society been mobilized en masse to challenge a policy of the Indian Centre.

After all this, if Dr. Manmohan Singh, the political head of the Indian state, goes to Sri Lanka, not only would it have been suicidal for the Congress party’s political prospects in Tamil Nadu, it also would have given fuel to greater anti-Centre sentiments in the region.

So, a decision for Dr. Singh to boycott the CHOGM is indeed taken in ‘national interest’.

If those ‘experts’ in the media commenting on “foreign policy objectives” and placing national interest over “political expediency” fail to take this into account, it only reflects their sad ignorance of ground reality.

It should be added here that activists in Tamil Nadu are not satisfied with this gesture alone and continue to demand a total boycott of CHOGM and the removal of Sri Lanka from the body.

Informed activism in Tamil Nadu has a reached a stage where it knows to differentiate a symbolic gesture from a strategic victory.

Yet, can anything be deciphered from Dr. Singh’s decision?

One, the Indian government realizes that Tamil Nadu can turn volatile on Sri Lankan issue and therefore is trying to balance collective Tamil sentiments.

Two, the pressure exerted by peaceful democratic mass movements in Tamil Nadu has a potential to influence the centre via the periphery.

Three, Indian foreign policy on Sri Lanka cannot be blind to the power bloc of Tamil Nadu as it has been doing all the while. It needs to take in the ‘local’ factor into consideration if it indeed has a long-term ‘national’ vision.

Overall, Dr. Singh’s absence at the CHOGM signifies a symbolic victory for Tamil Nadu. Though symbolic, a victory nevertheless!

After all, the British Prime Minister is attending the meeting despite protests in his country against the same. Besides, this move is also a snub to Northern Province Chief Minister Wigneswaran and certain ‘analysts’ from Colombo who were pleading with the Indian PM to attend.

The power relations are rather explicit here. It is obvious that a strong Chennai carries more impact than a dummy in Jaffna or the stooges of Colombo.

India needs a serious re-think on its overall policy towards Sri Lanka. In this Information Age, the Tamils world over have emerged as a well-networked community.

Activists from three centres of Tamil power namely Tamil Nadu, Tamil Eelam and the Tamil Diaspora actively engage in knowledge sharing exercises through various medium, constantly expanding their spheres of influence in opinion making.

Through shared images, notes, articles and videos, the Tamils are constructing a political discourse that informs them of the oppression the Eelam Tamils suffer in the island and the remedy that is required.

And this creates intellectual ammunition for critical and radical voices in the Tamil Nadu polity.

The key questions that Indian foreign policy analysts with vision should consider is this – given that it is in the very nature of the Sri Lankan state to be hostile to Tamil interests, wouldn’t you rather lose Sri Lanka as a friend than gain Tamil Nadu’s enmity?

Does India really want to create instability in Tamil Nadu for the sake of creating stability for the Sinhala state? Does India want to antagonize a Tamil community that is global in its reach and potential for the sake of a failed state?

As for Dr. Singh’s decision, this symbolic victory of the Tamil Nadu activists must be converted to a strategic victory by eventually compelling the Indian government to do a complete re-evaluation and an overhaul of its current myopic foreign policy towards Sri Lanka.

A Comment on ‘Moodar Koodam’

Posted in Society and Culture by Karthick RM on November 3, 2013

Originally published on The Weekend Leader as “Portrayal of Tamil assertion in films”

First, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching debutant director Naveen’s Moodar Koodam (Fools Gathering). A low budget movie of a genre that is rarely taken up in Tamil cinema – dark humour – it was good entertainment.

The comic storyline, interspersed with even more comic flashbacks, the lack of an infallible hero and his often senseless romance, a narrative that gives weight to all characters, make the movie a worthwhile watch.

While I appreciate the style of the movie, I have to disagree with some aspects of its content. The director seems to have unnecessarily mixed what could have been a good comedy on its own with a social commentary that is banal.

The semi-pedagogical dialogues on communism and the ills of capitalism seem rather pointless especially at a time when most communists in India don’t know what it is that they are fighting for.

The romanticising of the rural as naively good and the cursing of the urban social elites as being morally corrupt has become a boring theme.

This ranting against English, IT professionals, the upwardly mobile has been hammered through Tamil cinema enough.

After a point, the contempt for knowledge and modernity gets really annoying. And it also makes one wonder whether what is being advocated is a rule similar to the Sharia laws…

But why is it that the Tamilophile is usually a crass, frustrated, lower/lower-middle class male who mostly behaves like a sociopath?

Haven’t we had enough with Katradhu Tamizh where the protagonist, a misogynist, goes around killing, beating and molesting people because they did not conform to his notion of Tamil culture?

Or rather, why can’t a smooth and suave and socially refined man – or for that matter, woman – be a Tamilophile? The latter would be the really radical thing to portray.

Likewise, the scene from the movie, where one of the protagonists harasses a guy for talking to him in English, which is in wide circulation in social media, cannot appeal to the learned.

A positive assertion of identity cannot be based on paranoia and insecurity and berating your own for neglecting their ‘roots’, real or imagined. But again, to be fair to the director, maybe this is why he called his movie ‘Moodar Koodam’.

A much radical portrayal of Tamil assertion can be seen in a particular scene in the movie Tamizh Padam. A reel Manmohan Singh calls up the protagonist asking him to take-up a police assignment, speaking to him in Hindi throughout.

After hearing out the Indian Prime Minister with an indifferent look on his face, the protagonist replies in Tamil “Sorry PM ji, I don’t know Hindi” and cuts the phone.

The Indian PM is left with a bewildered look on his face. Comedy apart, this scene speaks more for an assertive Tamil nationalism than all the “Tamil kalaachaaram (culture)” jingoism that we have been subject to in other movies.

When you look at it, the protagonist of Tamizh Padam is really ‘speaking truth to power’ when he tells the highest political authority of India that he (symbolically representing Tamils) can’t speak Hindi, and refuses to engage in further conversation.

This is the real positive assertion of identity – being confident without being xenophobic, refusing to entertain dialogue with the Other who does not recognize you, while at the same time not boring yourself and those around you with didactic rants.

Indeed Tamil Nadu’s identity politics of the future cannot be like Moodar Koodam – a gathering of fools.

Tamils Stand With Rojava Kurds And Condemn Ethnic Cleansing By Islamists

Posted in Liberation Struggles by Karthick RM on September 23, 2013

“Our struggle will be everywhere,
and in our hearts, these flags
that witnessed your death,
that were bathed in your blood,
will be multiplied like the leaves
of the infinite springtime.”
-Pablo Neruda

We received the news of the horrible ethnic cleansing of Kurdish civilians in Rojava with great anguish. It is reported that Islamist thugs affiliated with the al-Qaeda linked al-Nusra front carried out this brutal massacre in Rojava/Western Kurdistan, located in Northern Syria, over the last few days. It is also reported that civilians were butchered inside their homes, women and children were raped, and that there were also beheadings.

In a revealing report on OpenDemocracy, a Kurdish activist says “The people attacked us Kurds just like that in Tal Abyad, because Arab Imams had announced fatwas declaring it is religiously ‘Halal (permissible)’ to kill Kurdish men, then take their property, women and children as slaves. It is really scary to hear it when the mosque is next door to your house in a small town like here, Tal Abyad.”

Rebelling against a tyrannical regime is not just the right but also the duty of an oppressed people – this is the valuable lesson that the oppressed have learnt ever since the glorious Jacobin revolution in France. The French Revolution of Robespierre also taught us that a rebellion that forgets virtue and replaces one sect of tyrants with another is not rebellion, but barbarism. We understand that these so-called al-Nusra ‘rebels’ and the other Islamist ‘rebels’ in Syria represent precisely this barbarity. All progressive activists must rebel against the brutal and inhumane actions of these pseudo-rebels.

True to their hypocritical nature, the Americans have been harping only about an alleged chemical weapons attack by al-Assad’s forces. But the US has only given a half-hearted condemnation of the massacres of Kurds. AKP ruled Turkey has also shamelessly disregarding its peace process with the PKK and flouting all norms of humanity, has helped the anti-Kurdish Islamist gangs in Syria.

When the news of the atrocities committed on the Kurds reached grassroots activists in Tamil Nadu, they reacted with righteous anger. Activists from Tamil Nadu, urban mass political movements like the May 17 Movement, Balachandran Students’ Movement, Islamic Youth Movement Against Genocide, and others from across the world, stand in solidarity with the Kurds in this time of pain and resistance. We strongly condemn not just the brutalities of the al-Nusra hoodlums but also condemn the international powers that aid and abet such savage forces.

We are aware of how an imperialist-sponsored genocide was carried out on out brethren in Tamil Eelam. And we are also aware of how the US – which give Sri Lanka military advice to cluster bomb the Eelam Tamil people and silently watched as the genocidal Sri Lankan state used chemical weapons on the Eelam Tamils – is now crying foul at supposed chemical weapons use by al-Assad. The US’ tacit support for the Islamists that carried out the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds is condemnable and shameful.

The Kurdish struggle led by PKK leader Ocalan’s ideology and the Eelam Tamils’ struggle which was led by Pirapaharan’s LTTE indeed share a lot in common. They are the most progressive struggles of their respective regions. They are militantly secular. Their implementation of gender-justice is far advanced of the conditions in their respective regions. And both are opposed, oppressed and repeatedly betrayed by not one just country, but by the International Community of Establishments. Thus, the solidarity between global Kurds and global Tamils needs to grow.

More than any other struggle in the Middle-East, the Kurdish struggle for national liberation represents the quest for reason, modernity and egalitarianism, and a just, secular and inclusive society. One can legitimately argue that the Kurdish struggle represents the ONLY hope for the blossoming of such values in the region.

The PKK has rightly called for the Rojava revolution to be expanded to the other parts of Kurdistan.

The resistance at Rojava for peace, justice and self-determination will not be intimidated by Islamist gangs or their imperialist abettors!

Let a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand Rojavas blossom wherever there are justice-loving people in the world!