Articles, Opinions & Views: Terrorists, or freedom fighters? By R Nadeswaran
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In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

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He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Terrorists, or freedom fighters? By R Nadeswaran
Monday, July 23, 2018
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | In the pre-computer era of the Eighties, the newsroom was never a quiet place to work. The clatter of typewriters -- the Olivettis, the Remingtons and the Underwoods usually drowned the voices of those who spoke in whispers. Elsewhere, a slew of neatly-cut newsprint carbon papers were strewn on tables and desks.
                                                                     Palestinian Terrorism
Add to this was the din from three teleprinter machines from Associated Press, Reuters and United Press International which would be providing feed on what was happening around the world, 24 hours a day. When the editor-in-chief,a stern man of few words steps out of his glass-panelled room, it usually means trouble. He headed to the sub-editors’ desk and demanded: “Who’s the sub who let this through?” A fairly new journalist’s hand went up.
“You don’t refer to them as ‘PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) terrorists.’ They are freedom fighters,” the young sub was told. The message was clear. “Whenever you get wire copies, make the changes immediately,” he was told. Three days later, the editor came out of his office waving a piece of paper. It was a letter from the Sri Lankan High Commissioner who had objected to members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) being stated as “freedom fighters.”
The same young sub who was the “culprit” stood up and held his ground. “If PLO people can be referred to as freedom fighters, why not the Tigers be accorded the same status? he asked. He was told: “This is the government’s stand and we follow it.” These two different references to groups fighting for the same cause was to be later included in the newspaper’s stylebook – a loose collection of pages which are updated whenever a crisis occurs.
These days in Penang, the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers of Tamil Ealam have become fodder for some who seek their five minutes of fame or want to be noticed by party stalwarts and warlords. It’s the same mob (photographs portray the same people) who make it part of their SOP to hold demonstrations after Friday prayers.
Their target this time was Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy on his alleged links with the LTTE. To the uninitiated, the former university professor is held in high esteem by the Tamil diaspora and peacekeepers as a middle-of-the-road ideologue. He had taken part in the Norway-brokered peace talks before the Tigers were decimated in 2009.
My two years in 'Tamil Eelam'
How do I know this? I spent two years in Tiger country or what the Tamils perceived as “Tamil Eelam.” For several weeks at a time, I would be there to ensure the aid is distributed to the needy. Even resin to make fibre glass boats and fishing nets were donated. These were part of “get them back on their feet” programme.
I was not there for indoctrination or guerrilla training but coordinating rehabilitation efforts undertaken by theSun after the tsunami hit the north and east of that island. Their hospitality was exceptional. After spending the first night in a war veteran’s rehabilitation centre, photographer Raj Kumar Soman and I were moved into their “luxurious” guest house – Tank View – where we had a selection of dishes for breakfast. I was to relate this to the former Sri Lankan Foreign Secretary (and later High Commissioner to Malaysia) Nanda Goodage to which he quipped: “The Tigers are tops when it comes to dealing with foreign media. They want your sympathy.”
So, what is this brouhaha over Ramasamy? Didn’t he do what Baling MP Azeez Rahim (photo) did for the Palestinian people? Unlike Azeez, who was flushed with money and flaunted it publicly, Ramasamy made his little mark at a series of peace talks.
During the post-tsunami period, there were no less than 60 aid agencies in the LTTE-held areas. In the course of our rehabilitation work, we were taken to the Tiger’s naval base, to their TV and Radio Station, where I was interviewed. I met the entire echelon of the Tigers, except the supremo, V Prabakharan, who was as elusive as ever.
I was taken to the Warrior’s Cemetery where rows of Tamils killed in combat had been buried; did my banking in a bank where there were no guards. (“The people know that we look after their money and they won’t dare rob or steal.”)
I had contact with the Tiger cadres on a daily basis, sometimes as our guide as we visited the stricken areas. I had to work with them, especially on logistics and aid which we had brought. Let it be reiterated that never at any time was there an effort to indoctrinate, brain-wash or programme me in their belief that power lies in the barrel of the gun. But one thing struck me and is still etched in my memory: there was integrity at all levels. One afternoon, I was standing by the lorry and counting the boxes of food and supplies which had come from Malaysia, a Tiger cadre said: “Don’t worry Annan. No one will touch your boxes. If anyone touches one box, we will put a bullet in his head.”
Fighting for self-rule
After the whole exercise, I took two bottles of water from what we had brought as I was thirsty. A minute later, the same cadre was standing beside me asking me sign for the two bottles.
Yes, the Tigers, like the Palestinian people, were fighting for self-rule and they resorted to violence when talks fizzled out. We don’t decry Azeez and his Putra Umno merry men who charted a ship to defy the embargo imposed by Israel.
I was back there in December 2014, on the 10th anniversary of the tsunami. North and East Sri Lanka has changed. Our favourite watering holes had been flattened and in its place, new brick buildings.
The hospital in Puthukudiruppu on the coast was a row of palm-thatched buildings when we presented a portable x-ray machine. Today, there are three rows of buildings and two ambulances parked in the drive way.
There are no signs of the Tigers or the remnants. There seems to be little left of the Tigers. The bullet-ridden holes in some old brick buildings are standing monuments of a civil war which took over 100,000 lives. What remains as a tourist attraction is huge water tower, laying flat, which was blown up as the Sri Lankan army advanced.
Ten years had been a long time. Elections have been held and Jaffna in the north elected a retired judge as its mayor. Now, 18 years later, there are no signs of the Tigers. There have been occasional clashes among the three main races – Malays, Singhalese and Tamils. Each time, they die off with a whimper, thanks to the Sri Lankan Army. Malaysia has participated in peace-keeping missions in areas of conflict and no one utters a word on our alliances and allegiances. The moment you act in an individual or NGO capacity, the mob mentality is ready to lynch you.
Many of us believe in the peaceful settlement of armed conflicts. To lump all of us together with those who resort to violence is meaningless. The so-called do-gooders who assembled after Friday prayers would be better off fighting an urgent cause at home – child marriages.
R NADESWARAN has taken part in many non-journalistic missions and has enjoyed recording some of them. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com
posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 2:01 PM  
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