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Poets lend voice to Lankan cause

[TOI, Monday, 8 December 2008 07:57 No Comment]

CHENNAI: The Marina had some unusual visitors on Sunday. Over a hundred poets from across the state had gathered, under a makeshift tent near the Gandhi Statue, to protest against the war in Sri Lanka and the killing of Tamils there.

Curious passers-by heard resonant, emotional poems filled with the imagery of the war and the "ethnic cleansing of innocent Tamils."

Well-known writer Ramesh of the erstwhile Prem-Ramesh duo called for a separate state for Tamils, to be carved out of Sri Lanka. He pointed out examples across the world where nations had been carved out after a popular protest. "I don’t see the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. Unlike the terrorists who attacked Mumbai, the LTTE has a definite political goal the creation of a separate state for Tamils," he said.

Poets in Tamil Nadu are well known for their clannish behaviour. They are often divided by their ideologies and form factions. Leena Manimekalai, who spoke on behalf of the protesters, made it clear that poets at the gathering had set aside their differences, and had rallied together behind the cause of the Lankan Tamils.
Asked what impact, if any, such an event would have on the war raging in Sri Lanka, dramatist and poet Veli Rangarajan was indignant. Artists, he said, had every right to be in the forefront of any protest against "the mass killing of their brethren." "Do not underestimate artists. Our appeal to the conscience of the international community will definitely have an impact. No other country in the world, except Sri Lanka, bombs its own people. We have to hold them accountable for the thousands of civilian deaths."

"This is not an internal affair of Sri Lanka," said Thamizhachi Thangapandian who pointed out that they were calling for an immediate ceasefire. A political resolution, she said, could be achieved through talks which must facilitated by a group of officials from the UN, human rights organizations like Amnesty International and cultural representatives from Tamil Nadu.

[Full Coverage]

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