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Feb-08-2012 05:00printcomments

The Questionable Effectiveness of Lighting Yourself on Fire

Indian journalist's self-immolation was an attempt to prevent Sri Lanka's Tamil Genocide.

Tribute to 26-year-old K. Muthukumar
Tribute to 26-year-old K. Muthukumar in Chennai last year.

(SALEM) - The day Mohamed Bouazizi set himself ablaze in Tunisia, the fire sparked an historic revolution known as the Arab Spring.

Mohamed Bouaziz's public suicide lit the
Arab Spring, however the self-immolation
of Indian journalist K. Muthukumar, over
the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka, was
scarcely covered in U.S. news reports.
Photo courtesy:
The Dotted World

Our writer, Kourosh Ziabari in Tehran, wrote that Bouazizi's painful self-immolation, "... sparked the rage and irritation of the Arab nations in the Middle East and North Africa and somehow invited them to rise up and stand against their corrupt, authoritarian governments..."

The truth is that repressive Middle east governments of Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria and other countries have serious problems, but they weren't facing charges of ethnic cleansing- actual genocide.

K. Muthukumar, who self-immolated on the campus of the government of India in January 2009, dying later that same day at Kilpauk hospital, sacrificed his life in an attempt to raise public awareness, and prevent the Genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's Army hauls female victims to a mass grave.

It absolutely didn't work.

Tens of thousands of civilians were brutally massacred by the iron hand of state terrorism at the time of his death, and over the next several months in Sri Lanka things got worse, much worse.

40,000 to possibly more than 100,000 human beings were mass-murdered, directed into "safe zones" and then bombed- repeatedly. According to the salvageable records, more than 160,000 people ceased to exist after this brutal civil war carried out by the government against its own citizens.

There are terrible counts of rape and sex abuse, some of which was recorded on video cameras and later recovered and published on YouTube. The still frame on the right is of a truckload of women and girls, all in varying states of nudity, who were loaded onto the truck by smiling, gawking Sri Lankan soldiers who laughed about having raped them. At least one of the women in the video on her way to a mass grave is still alive. This is just a snapshot of the horror that was called for and carried out in an island nation that relies on tourism, and is a 'friend' of the U.S.

Fiery Death of a Vietnamese Monk

Journalist Malcolm Browne's photo of Thích
Quảng Đức's self-immolation. - Wikipedia

The death of a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who burned himself to death at a busy Saigon road intersection on 11 June 1963, left a searing impression on both the American and world public. Thích Quảng Đức's self-immolation- over the persecution of Buddhists by South Vietnam's Roman Catholic government, left millions shocked and horrified.

An exceedingly naive public was both moved and repulsed by the image and the very idea of a person sacrificing their own life in such an agonizing way over a political cause. It happened at a critical time in history, the year before the U.S. officially began its military campaign against North Vietnam.

While the promises Vietnam's President Ngô Đình Diệm made at the time in reaction to the event were not honored, this human sacrifice led to both a violent military crackdown on Buddhist temples, and the eventual arrest and assassination of Diệm.

This monk's self-immolation left a blazing impression in Vietnam that is lasting, and both the car he drove to the spot in Saigon, and the remains of his heart, which did not burn and were placed in a glass chalice, were taken to Xá Lợi pagoda where they remain today.

Knowing this history of attention brought about by self-lit human fires, and that a genocide of epic proportions hung in the delicate balance at this time, it leaves the burning question...

One of the four pages of K.
Muthukumar's final statement-
distributed before his sacrificial act

Why didn't a world-scale revolution kick into gear when this 26-year old journalist, K. Muthukumar, self immolated at Sastri Bhavan, Chennai, India on the 29th of January 2009? Before his death, he distributed a four page statement in the Tamil language calling attention to the peril Sri Lankan Tamils faced from their own government.

26-year-old K. Muthukumar

In his statement, K. Muthukumar wrote:

Va'nakkam! I am sorry at having to meet you at this juncture when you are hurrying to work. But there is no other option. My name is Muthukumar. I am a journalist and an assistant director. Right now, I am working in a Chennai-based newspaper. I am also one like you. I am just another average person who has been reading newspapers and websites of how fellow Tamils are daily being killed, and like you I am unable to eat, unable to sleep, unable to sleep and unable to even think. While his ancient land of Tamils lets anyone coming here, like the Seths, to flourish, our own blood, the Tamils in Eelam are dying. When we lend our voices to say the killings should be stopped, Indian imperialism maintains a stony silence and does not give out any reply. If India's war is really a justifiable one, they can wage it openly... Why should they do it stealthily?
- From Last statement of Muthukumar (Burnt himself for Eela Tamils) - NowPublic.com

Incredible Cruelty

Post-war Tamils crowded in refugee camp.

The north of Sri Lanka is still a war zone and while some Tamils regained some semblance of what they had, they live with martial law, an ongoing military occupation and many other problems and challenges that result from a war conducted on civilians without the slightest hint of decency or adherence to international law.

Victims of Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide.

The Genocide carried out by Sri Lankan Sinhalese Buddhist government forces swept over Sri Lanka's Tamil population of Hindus and Christians like a terrible nightmare that was all too real. The number of Tamil dead from the government attacks are unprecedented and actually began in 2005 with the election of President Majinda Rajapaksa- an ally of both George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

The United States was well aware of what was taking place, and by 2009, when Muthukumar suffered a painful fiery death, the population's entire existence was threatened with extinction.

Then something happened in Sri Lanka that would bond K Muthukumar's life and death even more closely with the Tamil Genocide; that was a massive program carried out by Rajapaksa's henchmen to rid Sri Lanka of all journalists who were sympathetic toward the suffering of the Tamils.

They were tortured, murdered, newspapers and Internet news groups were closed and censored, (as they are today) and many journalists and editors and other media employees disappeared in the famous 'white van' incidents which still take place.

Legacy

Courtesy: TruthDrive

K Muthukumar's death anniversary was observed in Chennai last week, reports Guest Writer Sidharth gautham Sunder in a TruthDive article titled: Muthukumar’s Fire burns Sinhala Flags. The story cites how the continuing campaign against Sri Lanka has gathered momentum in Tamil Nadu. Quite obviously by its name alone Tamil Nadu, India has a vast population of Tamils, unlike Sri Lanka where the population is estimated at only about 15%. However Tamils have lived on the Island now called Sri Lanka for thousands of years.

Regarding K. Muthukumar's death, Wikipedia states:

His funeral attracted thousands of mourners including Indian politicians such as Vaiko, Thol Thirumavalavan and S. Ramadoss amongst others. The state government offered monetary compensation for the family, which was rejected. His death led to a number of other attempts of self immolation in Tamil Nadu during the protesting. His death also led to further protests by students across Tamil Nadu.

A report written by William Baptist, at Now Public contains an excellent compilation of data regarding the self-immolation of this young man. It is titled: Last statement of Muthukumar (Burnt himself for Eela Tamils)

According to reports in the Indian media, 26-year-old K. Muthukumar was a reserved and intelligent person. He had abstained from visiting his family the night before his self-immolation and had preferred to stay back at office. He lived with his sister Tamilarasi and her husband Kakkaivelu in Kolathur and worked in a Tamil magazine.

He had earlier worked in television production.

Just before he had doused himself with several litres of petrol at 10.40 a.m. on Thursday, he flung several copies of his four-page note in which he protested the Indian government's war in Sri Lanka against the Tamils.

Police officials later told media that Muthukumar had not experienced any fear or wavering, he had been resolute in his decision to sacrifice his life to highlight the need for a permanent ceasefire.

When a doctor had asked him why such an educated person like him committed self-immolation, he had replied that several thousands of more intelligent and educated Tamil people were dying in Eezham and that he intended to save thousands of lives by sacrificing himself.

He succumbed to 100% burn injuries 90 minutes after he set himself afire.

Support in Chennai

After conducting a memorial meeting for K. Muthukumar last week, the group of activists, friends and supporters, rallied in a show of support for his legacy.

They also set out to remind the public that Tamil Nadu, in spite of politics that have paved such a rocky road, and the lack of support from the government, has absolutely not forgotten Tamil Eelam or its people, those who are left.

The assembled group took their cause of mourning and celebrating the life and sacrifice of this journalist and real-time activist for the Tamil people, who also suffered so horribly, to the street.

This led to a confrontation with a sight they did not believe was appropriate or well-placed in Tamil Nadu, India. Objections rang out and then things began to heat up as these Tamil activists requested the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu to remove the Sri Lankan Flag hoisted in Chennai Trade Centre.

On this day, 2 Februry 2012, as the cadres of the political party Viduthalai Siruththaihal* gathered in large numbers in Chennai Trade centre, they actually took the Sri Lankan Flags flying in the venue and burned them. Needless to say, there is no clearer message that can be sent when flags are lit ablaze, it is not a meager or half-hearted expression.

They were detained by police, however there was no further information about the status of those arrested.

A petition was also posted, the language is included below, you can sign it by visiting this link: http://www.change.org/petitions/the-director-close-down-sri-lanka-business-shop-at-chennai-trade-centre

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu: Close down Sri Lanka Business Shop at Chennai Trade Center

To

Mr Thomas

Director

INDIA TRADE PROMOTION ORGANISATION
Pragati Bhawan, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi-110 001

CC : Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu

Please be aware that we 80 Million Tamils have not come out of the sorrow caused by Sri Lanka two years ago when Sri Lanka killed 150,000 Tamils. Still Tamils have not got justice or political solution . The war criminals are not yet punished nor the Government of Sri Lanka has been held accountable.

In line with the genocide, Tamil Nadu Government has passed a resolution in TN assembly to impose economic sanctions on Sri Lanka for it’s war crimes and Genocide on Tamils.

Now we are shocked to know that Sri Lanka business is held in Chennai Trade Centre and Sri Lanka flag is hoisted outside the building.

This makes all the Tamils even more shocked. At least to respect the sentiments of 80 Million Tamils and Tamil Nadu’s resolution, we urge you to close down the Sri Lanka rented shops in Chennai Trade Centre and also to remove the Sri Lanka flag at the earliest. Your action is appreciated.

Yours Truly,

On behalf of all Tamils

Rajkumar Palaniswamy

Organisor

Boycott Sri Lanka Tamil Nadu Team

'Terrorist' label

Tamil Tiger tribute- pre Genocide. Courtesy: LTTE

It is hard to watch the United States, after its war against Iraq- leaving a million or more innocent people dead over bad (contrived) intelligence, have such sway over the futures of other countries. This truly should be the last country on earth that does or does not determine what countries have this awful designation.

Terrorist is the label reserved for groups that offer resistance to corrupt western business and military exploitation and violation of international law. It is also used liberally on any country that objects to Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine and also Israel's apartheid politics where both laws and roads are different for those who are Jewish, and those who are not.

The reason the Tamils were targeted so severely by the Sri Lanka government is because many years ago, in order to preserve their distinctly different culture and language, Tamil people formed the breakaway state of Tamil Eelam. For the first 30-years of independence from British colonization, until the late 1970's, the Tamils avoided violence and practiced a Gandhi-style peaceful, passive resistance.

But during those thirty years they suffered government violence and political subjugation. There was an actual program within the Sinhala government to eliminate the Tamil language from all school books and material.

Eventually the Tamils formed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which were known as the Tamil Tigers. In the years preceding the Rajapaksa regime, the LTTE signed alliances and treaties that had reduced violence to almost zero, but then in 2005 it was Rajapaksa's first order of business to attain a declaration of 'terrorist' for the Tigers and with the help of George W. Bush, he specifically achieved this goal, thus eliminating the Tamils from the world's political bargaining table.

This was a crushing defeat to years of progress, the LTTE had even abandoned plans for a separatist state when the war against them began increasing.

In his article from Australia, published by Salem-News.com, Sri Lanka has gone down the dangerous path of ethnic fratricide Dr. Brian Senewiratne, who is Sinhalese Sri Lankan, describes in painful detail the real face of the country' so-called war on terrorism against the Tamil Tigers:

It is often stated (wrongly) that there has been a ‘civil war’ in Sri Lanka for three decades. There has been no ‘civil war’ in post-Independence Sri Lanka. What there has been are a series of increasingly virulent pogroms against the Tamil people by a succession of Sinhalese–dominated governments, assisted by Sinhalese political opportunists from the entire Sinhalese polity, and ethnoreligious chauvinist bigots among the politically active Buddhist monks, and conducted by Sri Lankan Armed Forces (99% Sinhalese), with a degeneracy of Sinhalese society and its rapid descent to barbarism.

This ‘descent to barbarism’ has now been documented in the UK Channel 4 video. The entire objective is to force the Tamil people to accept Sri Lanka as a Sinhala- Buddhist Nation.

The problems in Sri Lanka today, extend well beyond the ethnic crisis. This ‘spectrum of crises’, of which the problems faced by the Tamils is only a part, however, threatens the survival of the entire Tamil Nation.

I have reported on this at great length, and will continue to for as long as it takes for the matter to finally be dealt with by a world court. The recent 'Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission' report has led to little real progress and as this takes place, one of the top war crime suspects in the Sri Lankan military, Major General Shavendra Silva has been selected for the "UN Secretary General's special Advisory group on Peace Keeping Operations."

This, when acts of Shavendra Silva's battalion in 2009 are described in the UN's own Panel of Experts report on Sri Lanka, and lawsuits have been filed against Silva for war crimes. It doesn't make sense but then little does in this case of dark months of slaughter and mayhem, all committed out of sight and excused because the victims were "terrorists". This is the logic of the western world of labeling, committed in a tropical island nation.

I find the Genocide scenario in northern Sri Lanka especially troubling because I was raised to believe that when evil, bigoted regimes took power and committed egregious bloody acts against human beings on their own soil, that we did something about it.

Of course that is not the case and we can only hope that when Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Maria Otero, and Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake, Jr., travel to South Asia in the coming days, that they bring up the Tamil question and ask to tour the ravaged areas where so many thousands died.

Most importantly, Blake and Otero need to talk to the Tamil people and take notes, without the supervision and watchful eye of Sri Lankan government agents, police or soldiers. If they fail to do this then it is shameful and utterly unforgivable.

Americans are supposed to care about these things. As human beings, these politicians, in charge of law and humanity's call, owe it to K. Muthukumar. No matter what it is they do, their sacrifice will be small next to his.

* (Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi is a dravidian political party in Tamilnadu. It's chairman is Thol. Thirumavalavan,a leading lawyer from Chennai. The party's main principle relies upon the upliftment of Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and Other Backward Class and minorities such as Christian, Muslim of Tamilnadu. - Courtesy: Wikipedia)

_________________________________________________________

Tim King in 2007, covering the Afghanistan War

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 102 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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Kumar February 9, 2012 4:21 am (Pacific time)

The reason for not a strong uprising after Muthukumaran's immolation is because none of the so called leaders of Thamizh Nadu are really interested in saving any Thamizh's period. They are worried just about winning more seats in the next election and to make more money than their previous ones.


Muthu February 9, 2012 12:17 am (Pacific time)

He was the only person understood real situation happened in srilanka. He did self immolation to urge tamils to come street to save Srilankan Tamils. College students and people came. But government grant leave to college students and controlled people's fire by all the way.

Muthukumar - self-immolated for the cause of Eelam Tamils

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=akEXNdHnk_Q

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfLMhTkQXlw

Editor: Thank you Muthu


stephen February 8, 2012 10:11 am (Pacific time)

I am thinking about not blogging/posting anymore. I expose the true culprits. Time to go away after NDAA etc. They wont mess with salem-news Tim, dont worry. You expose the crimes of israel, which they dont care about, they are about done with israel anyway. You expose the havoc all over other countries. They dont mind that either, in fact, they are proud of it, and they are glad you post it. You wont be messed with... I sent an article to you before, you should read it again, because this is what is really happening..You really should read it, and read it slowly. http://disquietreservations.blogspot.com/2012/02/beware-ides-of-march-in-2012-double.html

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