Thursday, June 3, 2010

Terrorists or humanitarians...

I guess the title must be absurd to anyone who knows the meaning of the two words in question... alas such "anyone's" will qualify for the status of endangered species in today's world, as two recent incidents prove. So driven by the need for elevating my intellectual status and desire to belong to the gifted cult, I thought that maybe it is not a bad idea after all to get my facts right and straight and see if I can come to a consensus with your help...

The first incident which has clouded my mind with respect to the distinction is the Israeli commando raid on a flotilla of ships heading for Gaza, carrying humanitarian aid. The raid on flotilla bearing the Turkish flag left nine activists dead, fueling international anger at the incident. However, internet has been flooded with videos claiming that the raiding soldiers acted on self defense, with some showing an activist pushing a soldier off the vessel Mavi Marmara (see youtbe for instance). The Israeli defense forces have also been quick to release snaps of the "weapons" found on the ship. International media has lapped up the story from both sides with many condemning the incident, esp. in the wake of deteriorating conditions in Gaza due to Israeli and Egyptian embargoes which has led to a staggering 80% of the population depend on international aid. A sizable majority seems to be on the other side of the line, however, as this article in the New York Times indicates (living up to its reputation once again!). I quote a statement from it here:

What is missing so far from the flotilla clips on both sides is context: it is difficult to establish the sequence of events or, more simply, to determine who attacked first. The videos have made it all the more murky.

I don't feel capable enough to answer the 'deep' question raised above and many more that follow - Was flotilla on its way to capture Gaza with kitchen knives and metal rods (please refer to the pics of the WMD's on the link given above ) ? Were the peace-loving Israeli soldiers, out on a pleasure air-trip, caught unawares and instinctively shot down the 'armed' activists who were attacking them ?? Were these aid-carrying humanitarians actually terrorists leading charge against the state of Israel and its soldiers? ....murky indeed.

The second incident, compounding this eternal confusion, occurred back home. Author-activist Arundhati Roy recently stated that she would happily embrace imprisonment but would not give up backing the Maoist struggle. She further stressed that the Naxal movement could not have been anything but an armed struggle because other options are infeasible in the present scenario.

I wasn't aware of the perverse power of democracy until the enlightenment I received from Ms. Roy's comments, esp. since the platform was a lecture organized by the Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights in Mumbai. Her sympathy towards Naxal movement and 'right-to-defend -the-right-to-kill' for Naxals is especially surprising after the killing of 76 CRPF soldiers in Dantewada at the hands of Maoists in April, followed by Naxalite landmine blowing up a bus killing 44 people including several Special Police Officers (SPOs) and civilians [Ms. Roy opined that police should not have used the public bus in first place] and derailment of a Kolkata–Mumbai night train by a bomb blast initiated by Maoists killing at least 150 persons in May. Terrorists?... not if you ask Ms. Roy. Not so long ago, she had described the maoists as 'Gandhians with the guns'.

So maybe next time I feel threatened by someone, which won't be unusual for a girl in Indian society, should I be ready to join the ranks of an armed struggle and wipe off all the eve teasers from the face of the planet! Cringe as much as you may, ... I am sure Mr. Netanyahu and Ms. Roy will approve.

1 comment:

  1. @Archie: We live in a world of confusion. Not chaos but confusion. Chaos would be more egalitarian in its effect. Confusion segregates. I will try making sense of it.

    From righteous framework standpoint it is safe to say many social groups have had the raw deal. Historically and even contemporary, it has always been the case that some select group had had more power and say in the distribution of wealth or natural resources leaving the others at the mercy of power groups.

    Hard done and helpless in breaking down the power structures of the society it is I believe easy to turn to violence. A sign of weakness no doubt, nevertheless an apparently feasible option.

    All this might sound as if I am for violence as a protest. No. And my opposition to violence is not in the religious context - if you did not create life you have no right to destroy one - but in the strategic sense. Violence always degenerates a society and so if done under the pretext that it is done for 'their' society then clearly it is counter productive. Their is absence of radical creative space for new forms for effective protests.

    The complete socio-economical-political framework is flawed and the real cause of dissent of such magnitude that it turns to violence. The structures that be are not righteous themselves and yet hypocritically expects the poor peasant to be one. Ironic and sad. Maoist presence is just one of the symptoms. And to cure the problem there is an absence of radical, creative space for problem solving.

    I could go on and on ... but I will break it here. :-)