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International Community, Terrorism, War Crimes and Human Rights in Sri Lanka

(The Story of Guard Dogs and Mad Dogs)

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, September 2009 (ID. 2009-09-03)
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Once there was a peaceful village where lived a family: parents and two grown sons with their own families. They lived in adjacent houses in a small piece of land; everything was well. Parents died. The older brother started stealing fruits, coconuts and vegetables from the younger brother's backyard. When the younger brother and family asked him to stop the stealing, the older brother and his family beat them and intimidated them.

Then the younger brother bought a puppy and trained it to be a guard dog. It got quite good at guarding the house and backyard. When the older brother came to steal, the dog chased him away even biting him a few times. Older brother tried to beat the dog, stone the dog, kill the dog, but to no avail. The dog has grown stronger and experienced in guarding the house and yard. It was quite aggressive but chased away or bit only those who entered the yard without an invitation. It was no threat to anybody else.

Then something bad happened in a village several miles away. There came a mad, rabid dog and it bit a man seriously. Residents of that village were angry, they shot and wounded the rabid dog and it ran away. Our stealing older brother heard of what happened in the other village. He went to those people and told them that there is a mad dog in his village too and is menacing him and others. He asked for their help in killing that dog. The people believed him and mistook the guard dog for a mad dog. They lent him their gun. He took the gun, went home and shot and disabled younger brother's guard dog.

He was now again free to steal from the younger brother. Any protest or resistance was met with violent beating. People from the other village saw what was happening and asked the older brother to stop the stealing and beatings. He went on a tirade against them and asked them not to interfere in the affairs of his neighborhood. "Didn't you shoot and wound the mad dog in your street?", he asked them, sweeping aside the fact that they shot a mad dog and not a guard dog.

What should the people who unwittingly helped disable the guard dog and paved the way for continued oppression of the younger brother do? Should they come and stand guard of the younger brother's house? That may not be practical; they have their own village to guard and protect.  Should they buy a new puppy and train it to be a guard dog? Should they build a permanent, solid wall between the brothers' properties?

Or, is the younger brother to be forever at the mercy of the older brother, stolen and beaten?

[This story was written in August 2009 and reflects the then situation in Sri Lanka after the defeat of LTTE in Eelam War IV; international community involvement, terrorism, war crimes and human rights in Sri Lankan Tamil-Sinhala ethnic conflict.]

Nalankilli - Nalangkilli.

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