Friday, January 29, 2010

The Anguish will Continue……………..

Sivaprashanthi. Thambaiah ( Shanthi)
[Translated by : Sarvarakshani. Thambaiah ( Rakshi) ]

Didn’t see my mom’s face
Didn’t touch my dad’s hands
Didn’t eat from my sister’s hand
Didn’t get sweets from my brother
I’m crawling on the dust
Of a refugee camp……..

The coconut in our garden
Never bowed its head
It had coconuts left
No matter how many you pluck

We ate only on the tip of the banana leaf
With much delight and pride
The rice that was brought from our own field
(Tip of the leaf is considered to be special and given only to heads of the family or on very special occasions)

Five kinds of pittu (a meal made from rice flour)
Fish gravy prawn gravy
Crab neththeli (a small variety of fish, commonly cooked in villages)
Every thing that flies and crawls
What did I miss?

The smell of ghee
From our village egg plant (gravy)
will stay on our hands for two days

This much happiness
We lost all now
I’m all alone………..

My machchal (cousin) from Canada spoke
But I couldn’t understand
She said ‘chips’ she said ‘bakers’
The rice I got in the camp from the charities
Is very hot, the egg plant is too spicy
My dear Canada Machchal (cousin from Canada)
Can you ask my Maami (aunt) to send me
A spoon of milk curry (a spoon- colloquial way of saying ‘little/some’)

In the pictures my priyamma mahan (cousin brother) sent from London
I see a big house and a car
But my Anna’s ( elder brother’s) push bike
Has gone into pieces in the shelling
But don’t send us a bike
Anna (elder brother) has no legs to ride

Periyappa!! (father’s elder brother) in France
Sithapppa!! (father’s younger brother) in Germany
periyamama !!(big uncle) in Switzerland
My mother used to boast
To the whole village….
My bothers shower their love at me
They send me money
They call me (on the phone) all the time
As soon as we get ‘Tamil Elam’
They say they are going to come here
I need to look for lands
To build two big houses

Periyamama!! Sinnamama!! (big uncle and small uncle)
My mother who stood alone
On behalf of you and I
To see the Tamil Elam bloom
Is lying dead on the ground
Will you come to pour milk???............. (Close relatives are expected to be present at the funeral to pour milk as the last rite/ritual )

The Flag

Sarvarakshanthi. Thambaiah
[Inspired by a photograph by a SriLankan blogger whose name unknown]

It was all like a bad dream
Of yester years
One fine morning
Peace has arrived

Peace has arrived
So we are told
so we believe
So we behave

The flag on the light post
One corner still tangled
No one notices
As the smoke form the crackers
Blinds the eyes

Collection of Literary Pieces on the Theme of Forced Migration

Mohamed Feroz Pakkeer Mohideen


End of war does not mean end of displacement and its consequential effects. The displaced people are facing immense difficulties in the situation of displacement whether there in Relief camps or with friend and relatives.

Many people are lost their place of origin, the properties, family members and life with dignity and liberty. The relief and humanitarian assistance could be support them to recover few of the losses. Here some of the literary pieces express about the suffering of war and displacement.

ONE: A Poem from a School Child
Written by: Sivaramya SriChandran,Ramanathan Hindu Ladies College, Colombo-04

Can the Dead be Resurrected?

Even if you roll on the ground
Lose your senses,
And give out sounds of distress
Will human beings grow back from the field watered by your tears?
Will the dead be resurrected?

This is the karma of this birth
The soil of our country is wet with our blood
How many of countless lives and
Property that we have lost…

We lost our villages, our identities, our loved ones
Our kith and kin….
Fall on the ground like dried leaves
Will there be rains for these withered plants?
Will there be dawn for us?

TWO: A Poem from a Displaced Young Woman

This poem was published on a quarterly journal (April 2000) in Sri Lanka. Ms. Nasrin who was forcibly evicted in 1990 from North Province of Sri Lanka wrote it. She was expressing her suffering of forced displacement within the own country.

Un-Dawn Nights
Written by:Ms.Nasrin,Pravagam (April 2000) Quarterly Magazine, Sri Lanka

We were fled on that evening
from our houses, cottages ….
Without unwilling minds

Any one of us were not allowed
to take our cats and cattle, …..
Even our young ladies were scanned
Without bear any rings & trinkets…

The darkness of the night was covered our young girls,
The trees were feed us….
The moon was directed us…
The human only were not showing his kind upon us.

We were fled on that evening
from our houses, cottages ….
Without unwilling mind

Three: A Poem from School Child

Leaving My Birth Place, and My Home Town
Written by: Shamla Yusuf,Muslim ladies College, Colombo

My happiness and sorrows
Triumph and loss
Friends and families
bidding goodbye to all
No more joy in my life
All I have is a ragged old bag and sweet memories
Why am I a refugee in my own country?
Why am I scared of my own people?
Why should I suffer in hunger and thirst?
The hunger for peace and thirst for happiness?
Is this what life is all about?
Then why should I live?
When I say this now
Hits me a gun shot
and I lay there in tears on the truck
a boy sees me and feels the same

Four: A Poem from an Inhabitant Child

We Need True Peace
Wrritten by: Ramyahasini Wijieyakumar,Vadivambika Tamil Maha Vidiyalayam, Chilaw, Sri Lanka

These arms have never bagged
Even though they were poor
(now) they have not only been made to bag
But have been made to cry in despair

Isn’t our soil one which has seen
Hard work and education?
Is it not fate that made (us)
Beg from all and sundry?

We don’t want dry rations
We want true peace
Even if old age overtakes
We first want peace

We need it so that
At least our future generations can live relived -
What is the cost of independence?
This is the situation of the people of the peninsula

Five: A Story

People Who are Hoodwinked by War
Written by: Kusala Chamari,Wejieratne Swarnapala Girls School, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka

Even in our dreams we did not imagine this will happen to us. Our Chena cultivation has been destroyed, rendering us poor. Our lives and our children’s lives are endangered due to the war. We exported rise during the reign of king Parakrama, but now we are reduced to begging in the camps. This situation was so unexpected. We recollect our past when we were together, with tears strolling down our cheeks. But there is no one to wipe these tears away.

War destroyed everything. Need to overcome this situation. We need food and we need peace of mind. Will we even see the peace bird fly in our skies?

Port of Displacement

Geetisha Dasgupta

The Gangavaram port in Visakhapatnam was inaugurated on 12 July 2009 with much celebration. The new port, which became operational last year, has state-of-the-art highly mechanised cargo handling system to receive capsize vessels with a capacity of 2,00,000 DWT. Ms. Purandeswari, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, in her address expressed satisfaction over the inauguration of the port and added that some issues with regard to rehabilitation of affected fishermen should be sorted out on a top priority. The Chief Minister YSR Reddy complimented the Gangavaram port management for having completed the work with superb efficiency and no compromise on any front. The Andhra Pradesh Government had selected a consortium led by DVS Raju (of Hyderabad-based VisualSoft Technologies) and comprising Dubai Ports International and New Wave Securities and Industrial Credits Ltd to develop and operate the project for 30 years on a build-own-operate-share-transfer (BOOST) basis.

Indeed, it was a no compromise job. The construction and trial run of the port which began exactly one year before the date of formal inauguration coincided with uprooting and displacement of 25,000 fishermen in Gangavaram and the adjoining Dibbapalem village. Fishermen were forced out of their traditional occupation as their access to the sea was directly cut off. The fisher people agitated but the government turned a deaf ear because this was a mega project which promised to make Visakhapatnam a shining star in navigation cartography and make the maximum profit possible through gateways of foreign investment and public private partnership. Among the crores that were in the prospect, displacing thousands did not matter. It was an easy bargain that one person died from police firing while agitating and as said earlier, was not any compromise at all on the part of the state and the port authority, both of which congratulated each other.

A recent roundtable discussion held as part of the National Workshop on Resource Politics, Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, and Displacement in India organized by CRG in collaboration with CSSEIP, Andhra University, discussed the issue in detail. The participants were, G Papa Rao, an advocate for the fishermen displaced by the Gangavaram port project, Kadiri Kannaya, a fisherman from the village of Dibbapalem and Dr ABSV Ranga Rao from Andhra University. The roundtable dwelt on the premise that the master plan of the port and exclusion of the fishermen was drawn even much before the Special Economic Zone Act was in place. Land acquisition was completed for the port by virtue of a special act that the Andhra Pradesh Government passed to favour the construction.

One outcome was that the fishermen united and demanded jobs in the upcoming port. The administration called the agitators rowdy and immediately implicated them in police cases that ranged from civil to criminal. Thus keeping the fisher folks on one side, the port authority continued to build a firm wall around the port enclosing the sea. The fishing community has been largely neglected in India. Only disasters like cyclones etc bring their stories to the forefront. The fishing community includes not only the fishermen but also several secondary and tertiary occupational groups like women who sell fish in the Visakhapatnam market, people who make and repair the fishing boats and the nets and will be devastated if one ring of the collective chain if broken. Interestingly, the relief measures, however small attach only to the direct fisher people and not the others. The roundtable was a vent to the fisher people who think that the fishing community has been guarding the coasts from time immemorial and now the marine police force ward the same community away from the sea. This not only threatens them from the economic point of view but also push them to a point of suspecting the state to be conspiring against them.

A suspicion becomes a belief when the state throws ample scope to reaffirm the same. Khadri Kannaya brought into notice the related issue of the much promised fishing jetty that the AP Government promised to rehabilitate the fishermen occupationally to some extent. Though declared to appease the opposition at some point of time, the authorities plainly rejected the pleas from the fishing community to finally construct the jetty pointing towards the fisher people as criminals who did not deserve the fishing jetty. Their agitation against the construction of the port has earned them this wrath.

The most severe effect, as Dr Rao explained, is possibly that the fishermen suffer from psychological stress due to this untoward development and consequent displacement. This dislocation therefore causes problems of psychological health and decrease in average life span of members of the community.

Climate Change or Climate Justice in the North East

Ishita Dey

Walter Fernandes in “Climate Change or Climate Justice in the North East” published in The Assam Tribune argues that the politics relating to clean development mechanisms and its implication in the bio-diversity of North East India. In this context two facets of justice come to the forefront; firstlt international justice and secondly justice within poorer countries. Clean Development mechanisms adopted by richer countries not only highlights the evasion of responsibility and accountability through shift of burden to the poorer countries through funding of CDMs but also will affect the livelihood of vulnerable communities particularly the agricultural labourers, fish workers and small farmers. These strategies will not only lead to loss of livelihood but also resource crisis in North east India. Northeast is one of the world’s 25 mega-biodiversity zones but has become a biodiversity hotspot in which biodiversity is being destroyed fast. Unfortunately the Government of India fails to forsee the limitations of accepting commercial monoculture as a CDM . As an instance Walter Fernandes cites the case of Bhadrachalam Paper Mill in Andhra Pradesh where Eucalyptus has been for raw material on 300 acres of land taken from the tribals. The tribal communities have been forced to look for alternative sources of survival leading to overexploiting the forests around them for sale as timber or firewood which damages the environment much more than what the paper mill claims to preserve. “But the eucalyptus plantation that is responsible for their impoverishment and environmental degradation has been declared a CDM and gains points for it. The Northeast can face a similar situation. If this policy is followed in the region and its people are impoverished and forced to overexploit the resources for survival, they will be declared enemies of nature. Consumerism of the rich nations and of the middle and upper classes in poor countries has caused the problem. These classes invest in more and more vehicles. The state is investing on coal-based GHG emission producing thermal power plants. The 48 major dams it is planning in the Northeast will destroy its biodiversity and impoverish its people. Scarcity of resources will be one of its consequences. That will result in competition for scarce resources and more ethnic conflicts”.
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36 Million People were Estimated to be Displaced by Sudden-Onset Natural Disasters in 2008

Ishita Dey

Findings of a study by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre on “disaster displacement” shows that 36 million people were displaced by sudden onset of disasters of which 20 million were displaced by sudden-onset climate-related disasters. The report aims to fulfill the gap of “global monitoring mechanism” as the data on current trends in disaster related forced displacement will form the baseline for potential nature of displacement. The aims of the study were to provide firstly an estimate of the number of people displaced by natural disasters in 2008, a methodology for ongoing monitoring of forced displacement as a result of natural disasters and an indication of the resources required to implement the methodology on an ongoing basis. The report states that a total of 312 disasters (meteorological, hydrological, climatological (except drought) and geophysical ) occurred in 2008 .During the course of research, ten additional disasters were found to have resulted in displacement, bringing the total number of disasters included in
this study to 322. These disasters affected a total of over 207 million people.

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