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Gallipoli & Vanni

| by Gajalakshmi Paramasivam

( April 25, 2014, Jaffna, Sri Lanka Guardian) Today (25 April) is ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) day and here in Australia we pay tribute to the soldiers who died in combat. As per the Australian War Memorial:

[When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a federal commonwealth for only 13 years. The new national government was eager to establish its reputation among the nations of the world. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey), the capital of the Ottoman Empire, an ally of Germany.

The Australian and New Zealand forces landed on Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Ottoman Turkish defenders. What had been planned as a bold stroke to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stalemate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915 the allied forces were evacuated, after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed. News of the landing on Gallipoli had made a profound impact on Australians at home, and 25 April soon became the day on which Australians remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in the war.

Although the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives, the Australian and New Zealand actions during the campaign left us all a powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as the “Anzac legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.]

The parallel memorial of this experience for me as a Tamil is 18 May 2009, when Tamils to whom the LTTE were the heroes leading them to self-rule died on the beaches of Vanni in Northern Sri Lanka. As per the above report – over 8,000 Australian soldiers were killed in the battle of Gallipoli. As per international reports – over 50,000 Tamils including children were trapped on Mullivaikkal beach – almost a century later.

As a Hindu, my mind is regulated by the great war in which Lord Krishna was the Charioteer. That war was between two groups under the leadership of cousins – children of two brothers – fighting for their birthrights, with various rulers fighting their own battles through one side or the other. Hence there is no clear line of demarcation as to which side one is on – but rather whether one was fighting for one’s belief. The rest are in it for the purpose of benefits from work done and risks taken.

Once however, a fighter dies in combat – the status of that person is elevated to the highest stated purpose for which the war happened. There are no wins nor losses for the spirits. The living inherit the net value of the work done and in return they have the duty to Honour the dead at the highest status of the purpose.

As per Hindu belief – we pray to release the soul of the dead to the Feet of the Lord. Once we release them – they are beyond allocation of rights and wrongs as per human system. Hence the Memorial Services through which we help maintain the high value of the reason why the war was fought – irrespective of which side the dead soldier is from. That is true memorial service. ANZAC Memorial Services confirm that the need is greater for the losing side than for the winning side.

Tamils have continued to show such respect for the dead on their own side and to the extent they do so for the Common purpose they are demonstrating high civilization.

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