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The cycle of oppression

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The appeals of Tamil Nadu fishermen associations to stop all protests against Sri Lankans for fear of reprisal attacks by the Sri Lankan Navy is a tragic reflection of their terrorised plight and the Indian government's impotence on the issue.

What should have been a demand on the Indian government to fulfil its responsibility and guarantee the safety of its civilians against the Sri Lankan navy, has instead been usurped by sheer terror.

Of course this fear is a very real one - attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen have no doubt escalated in response to anti-Sri Lankan activism by Tamils in Tamil Nadu. Indeed the very next day, five Tamil Nadu fishermen were reported to have been attacked by the Sri Lankan Navy. However, what must be made clear is that the attacks were one of the precursors to the recent anti-Sri Lankan protests, not the after effects.

Quashing resistance for fear of reprisals can only ever be an interim measure, and one that ultimately strengthens the hand of the oppressor.

Tragically, as the fishermen association's appeals demonstrate, the attacks have had their desired effect. Blinded by fear, the long history of attacks by the Sri Lankan navy has been forgotten.

Instead, criticism of the protesters' means is used to prop up the fallacy that the protesters are in fact the problem - a fallacy that leads to the appalling situation where those protesting against the persecution of the Tamils, are asked to be silent in order to ensure the safety of the oppressed.

All the while, the violence unleashed by the Sri Lankan Navy and the abject failure of the Indian government are ignored.

It is precisely this fear and the self-restraining obedience that it leads to, that the oppressor feeds on and is used to create a cycle of oppression, where the absolute fear of tomorrow, overshadows yesterday, and silences today.

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