The problem with the obsessive attachment to an idea or point of view that no amount of logic to the contrary can change, is a problem, not so much for anyone attempting to present an alternate view as it is for the one clinging to the idea itself.
Henry would never accept that the LTTE abducted children or that they committed atrocities. Every time I brought the subject up I would be met with a furious, aggressive response that usually took the form of a litany of charges against the Sinhala chauvinists that had created the situation by their repressive and cruel acts against the minority Tamils from very early on in Ceylon’s post-independence history. The examples and historical references are impeccable and can not be faulted and I find no problem agreeing that the causes of the present ‘situation’ were propagated by the myopic and repressive policy of opportunist politicians. And that this has been carried on by successive Sinhala majority governments in power. However, Henry will studiously avoid accepting that the LTTE abducted children or that they do commit atrocities. He will not get into this and will avoid answering my question. Instead, he will accuse me of ignoring “…the 40,000 children in the south …that are screaming for help, love and liberation..” as their parents have ‘sold’ them to service “seventy-five year old perverts” in the sex trade. He will accuse me of being hypocritical for not caring about the many children that were brutalized and then killed in the most gruesome fashion at Bindunuweva not long ago. He will say that I “pretend” to have the interests of the Tamil child soldier at heart in order to “attack the LTTE with” allegations of abduction. He tells me that “..this is the hypocrisy of the sophisticated fascist – the latter day Goebbels, it is old hat and thrived in Hitler’s bunker and lives today in Bush’s white house and is all pervasive in Sri Lanka’s south”. But he will not answer my question – will he admit that the LTTE commits atrocities and abducts children?
This attitude is a problem – not so much for me, as I have no compunction about who I believe commits atrocities, but for Henry, whose mind, with all its intellect and brilliance, is stifled by his refusal to acknowledge the truth of what should normally be obvious to most people. As far as I am concerned, both sides are as guilty as each other when it comes to being brutal and committing ‘excesses’ and blatant human rights violations and I hold no brief for either party. If one is to postulate that in order to achieve ‘liberation’ it is permissible or excusable to abduct children and train them to kill and that it is permissible to commit horrifying atrocities against civilians, I must disagree. No amount of rationale or justification will make me change my mind on that score. It is ‘non-negotiable’. Human-rights, to me is an inalienable right of an individual in a free society and abductions and atrocities can have no place in it.
So in the end, Henry and I will agree to disagree and we shall continue to be friends. But the problem will remain.
Note: Before friends and acquaintances get to guessing who ‘Henry’ really is, let me ease your apprehensions. ‘Henry’ is a composite of a variety of individuals with whom I have discussed various aspects of the conflict, its causes and effects and ‘his’ views expressed by me in this piece do not reflect directly on any one individual. It is, however, an expression of views that do exist.