The Shoat Statements

Random musings by the multiple voices inside my head.

This is a MUST watch movie, for all those who haven’t seen it. Not only is it a good movie, it also tells a bitter truth that doesn’t yet seem to have been well digested. For all those ignoramuses, Road to Guantanamo is about 4 Pakistani boys (I think one of them is Bengali) who are British citizens living in Tipton, mostly on the wrong side of the law. During a trip to Pakistan, they are foolishly persuaded to go Afghanistan for relief efforts. Once in Afghanistan, they are captured by U.S. soldiers, who believe that they are terrorists. After sufficiently torturing them in Afghanistan, they are shipped off to Guantanamo Bay.

I’ve spoken earlier about the ignorance of today’s youth. It is precisely that ignorance that leads these nice but foolish boys down the road to hell. A little more awareness about the world around them and they may have realized what they were getting themselves into. This should serve as a wake up call to all, to be a little less dim-witted about the world we live in.

The constant U.S. claim is that Guantanamo Bay keeps terrorists of the worst level, most of whom had a hand in 9/11. And the gullible U.S. public laps it up. The Tipton 3 were, at the very best, stupid. They were not terrorists by any stretch of the imagination. These boys were no angels, but they were, after all just boys looking for a good time. How the U.S. forces could actually keep these three boys in Guantanamo for over 2 years, with not a shred of proof of their so-called terrorist activities, is incredible. How they were tortured to exact ludicrous confessions was tragic. The only reason they were finally released was that they were British citizens, with people in the U.K. who looked for them, and the fact that all their alibis were confirmed by the Tripton police force.

What about all the other innocents who are being held in Guantanamo under dubious circumstances? Who stands up for them? We salivate waiting for the next Bond flick or to see Superman’s next shenanigans, but do we think at all about the harsher world out there? If you’re Muslim, three stupid moves from you could mean the same fate. The arrest of the Tripton 3 was bizarre – even with thick British accents, they were shipped off for being Muslim and being present in Afghanistan. No charges were pressed, no legal avenues were made available, no nothing, except for endless hours of torture. What do you do when you hear about the 500 detainees at Guantanamo? Would I be right if I said you flip the channel?

Watch this brilliant movie. And then think about this ‘war on terror’, justice and what you actually do in this world that is genuinely worthwhile.

How much is too much? What is the price of the freedom and liberties?

This must be bad publicity for the Sun God. The crew from the Jordanian ship has held a press conference in Colombo, where they have spoken at length about how they were manhandled. Don't bother checking it out on the BBC, since they seem to have developed engine trouble over the covering of this issue. Last I checked, a vague article was up which didn't say anything much either ways (but when does it ever?).

Check out the Lanka Truth article, which has a detailed report. The long and short of it is that the Swimming Cats terrorised them, then plundered the ship, which may explain why they are still hanging onto it.

Why they keep asking for bad publicity is what I'm wondering. But then again, perhaps the Sun God is safe in the knowledge that these incidents are reported only in the local press.

Ah well, can't go through an entire week and not have the LTTE remaining quiet. The Sun God's Cats seem to have taken a liking to Captain Jack Sparrow, because now the Swimming Cats have turned into pirates. To make a long story short, on 23 December, a Jordanian cargo vessel FARHA III drifted towards LTTE stronghold Mullaithievu following a technical failure. According to the crew, they radioed for help, and radioed again for help saying that they were being attacked by pirates (our friends, the swimming cats). According to the Swimming Cats, they rescued the stranded sailors (one wonders why the sailors said they were being attacked then), and then handed them over to the Red Cross.

For the long story, visit the Asian Tribune.

Yes, the sailors are safe and sound and in Colombo (yup, an oxymoron there).

But the Swimming Cats don't seem too keen on releasing the ship they 'rescued', conveniently carrying 14,000 tons of rice, which is still in their custody.

Sin men, these poor Swimming Cats - I think the Sun God should've just sent them to Disneyland, and then this kidnapping thing would be out of their system (for those keeping count, refer their earlier kidnapping fiasco).

Have you known any Sri Lankans (or even South Asians at large) who applied for visa to an European country and came back complaining about how unfriendly the staff there were? Or perhaps how unhelpful they were?

Weeell, I had the misfortune of having to visit the Indian High Commission in Colombo. Before I went, I called them, spoke to a rather polite lady, found out all the documents that was required of me, paid a visit to the website (quite a swanky one at that), and thus turned up there today happy in the knowledge that the visit cannot be too traumatic.

Oooh, how silly of me. First of all, at both the entry points there are some very junior level Indians, who are presumably supposed to screen you and send you off to the relevant section. Never in my life, including the 03 years I spent in India, have I met people that rude. They were just indiscriminately rude to everyone there, including students, old people and who so ever happened to be in queue. Oh yeah, and apart from being rude, they did precious little else, because with the screening and security check they put me through (which is taking my handbag, asking if I had a mobile, and returning the bag without so much as looking inside it), I could have smuggled in a bomb or two.

And so much for the relevant sections, because they sent me to 03 different departments before I found the division I was supposed to go to. The first thing I noticed was that the place was an underground hall, with no ventilation, and not so much as a ceiling fan. Hmmm. Oh yeah, there was also a clock that stated that the time was 3.15, when in fact it was barely 10 (closer inspection told me that the clock had gone to permanent sleep).

Then there were about 10 people waiting, at least 7 counters, and only one of them being operated by a rather harassed looking young lady. People seemed to take random turns at manning this one counter, because they took turns at will. I first ended up speaking to one lady, who rattled of a list of things I needed - a to g - (quite different to the list given by the lady on the phone).

When I got the things together (luckily I took all my docs), which may have taken all of 10 minutes the counter person had miraculously transformed to a man. Who wanted the entire request repeated. After which he took about half the documents the former counter person wanted, gave no receipt, no file number, no nothing, and asked me to call back in 02 weeks and ask from Ms. XXX whether my papers were ready. When he started speaking to the chap behind me, I knew I had been dismissed.

Truly, it was like being in an Indian government office. Embassies are supposed to help the people who come there, and being friendly goes without saying. At no point did the place even remotely resemble an embassy, and there was nothing diplomatic about the staff. That the Indian High Commission would employ such a crowd of unhelpful and unfriendly people as the first contact between them and the outside world is very sad. I've visited Indian Embassies in other countries, and they are leagues ahead of the one in Colombo. Perhaps Nirupama Rao should've spent less time writing poetry, and more time trying to run the embassy.

And the final touch? Incredible India posters all over the premises. Truly, it was an incredible experience.

P.S. Part 2 will appear after I collect my documents.

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Be true to your heart, and true to your conscience.

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