Still counting the dead – a review

Frances Harrison, a BBC reporter who spent considerable time in Sri Lanka during its crucial ethnic strife period, meets with some survivors of the 2008-2009 genocide and records the happenings during the end game when the LTTE was decimated. The human sufferings, the humanitarian cost of the end game, the intransigence of the Sri Lankan government, the LTTE, the international agencies that include the UN, the ICRC and the western countries are all recorded in vivid detail in this earth shattering record of a book.

Frankly no one recorded the evidences to the atrocities. The Sri Lankan government ensured that all possible sources of evidence- LTTE militants, international aid workers, news correspondents, medical workers and even the clergy – were silenced overtly or covertly.

41whsbfuycl-_bo1204203200_The pathetic and characteristically impotent role played by the UN as an international body, the Red Cross Society that simply stood mute witness to the massacre, the wholly reprehensible Sri Lankan government that initiated such unmitigated disaster on the civilians and the ‘protectors of Tamils’ – the LTTE, who took on the role of exterminators of the civilians even while negotiating for the surrender of its own top leaders- all these are recorded in their gruesome detail in this book.

Frances Harrison talks to different people who escaped the carnage at great cost to themselves – a nun, a catholic father, a medical doctor, an ex-expatriate militant, a female militant, a mother, a wife and a reporter- to get to know what happened between 2008 and 2009. Each one talks about the same gruesome tale of extreme horror, pathetic and in-human living conditions and the unceremonious attack on even religious places of worship that people sought to get into to escape from the incessant shelling.

We get to see horrendous tales of white phosporous being used on civilians, cluster bombs and fighter jets being used to bomb civilian areas, the LTTE mixing with the civilians to escape attack, suicide bombers joining the escaping civilians and blowing themselves up, the Sri Lankan soldiers’s wholly animal behaviour even on children and the infirm and the extreme apathy shown by the UN.

Even the Sri Lankan catholic clergy doesn’t step in to save its own clergy trapped in the war region. Deep divisions on ethnic lines is seen in the Catholic clergy hierarchy in Sri Lanka.

When the Sri Lankan army was attacking civilians from the east, west and north, the LTTE was attacking them by being within them.

War is inhuman. When lesser than human beings fight it, it becomes worse. The Sri Lankan government, the LTTE and the international agencies proved that they all were lesser humans when it came to dealing with the end games being played out in Sri Lanka in 2009.

The author Frances Harrison deserves to be regarded as a torch bearer who has struggled to bring out the truth of the final days of the ethnic war.

The book can he got from here.

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