Photo via Now Public.
Well, yeah. Yeah I think they did. In Chootivamsa/Mahavamsa style it’s quite obvious that you kill a rebel and their families. In modern times, however, it seems pretty barbaric to kill a 12 year old child, in this case Balachandran Prabakaran, the son of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. You could say it makes sense, but it’s in no way an especially moral act.
The government hypes that they cared for Prabharakan’s parents, but they killed his kids. In a sense it’s just pragmatic, his eldest son was rising to second in command and it was a family business (of terrorism). Thinking about it in that sense, do I feel that bad? No.
However, looking at the photos, it’s still a 12 year old kid. There could have been another way.
For further reading you should read Channel 4’s Callum Macrae in the Independent, but I find what he/they are doing repugnant as well. He opens, “It is a chilling piece of footage that represents yet another blow for the beleaguered Sri Lankan government in its attempts to head off a critical resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva this week.”
I mean, fucking really? Does every body or atrocity have to be a weapon in this ongoing political war? This is the trouble with too much of the anti-war lobby – human rights are just a means to beating up on a government they don’t like, it’s just something to beat them over the head with. I don’t think this is the appropriate use of dead bodies. This is a dead child and it sucks. Let people draw their own conclusions. When you use human rights for political ends it corrupts the humanity of the moment and becomes easier for people to write it off. I’m on this side, I’m on that side. At least give people a moment to digest the reality on a human level, then let the necessary politics emerge.
My own conflicted conclusion is that the government did what it had to do to end the war and prevent further suffering. They undeniably did too much, but it’s hard to second guess a war that did the best thing a war can do – end. In that cruel calculus, this dead child is to one side. I don’t say that with any pride, but it is what it is.
As intent as Channel 4 seems to be to use war porn to elicit punishment of the government, that’s the last thing I think of when I see this picture. I just see a dead kid and I feel bad; that the currents of history are such that you can be born, die and paraded around – an appendage in a terrible conflict that had a life of its own – and never get to live or be mourned as just a human child.