by Gordon Weiss - £11.99 Vintage (2012)
paperback ISBN 13: 9780099548478 | ISBN 10: 009954847x
The death of a democracy, the suppression of a people, the fight for Sri Lanka.
Once known for its exquisite tea, drowsy climate, and amiable people, Sri Lanka was the Indian Ocean jewel of the British Empire. After Independence, the island enjoyed a liberal parliamentary democracy with a lively independent press and a booming economy. It had a judiciary, an efficient economy, and a stability envied by emerging nations. The world expected a leader amongst nations.
Instead, in pursuit of power and fundamentalist Buddhism, an oligarchy of Sinhalese political leaders and monks hi-jacked democracy. In response a brutal enemy was born: the Tamil Tigers.The result, one of modern history’s longest civil conflicts, spawned a host of horrific innovations: suicide bombers, child soldiers, death squads, violent Buddhism and murdered journalists.
But ethnic conflict is only part of the story.
Twenty-seven years on, with Iran, Burma, Libya, and China as its closest allies, democracy has been reduced to a cabal of brothers who control the economy, the courts, and the media. Today they tout their bloody conquest of the Tamil Tiger guerrillas as an example for other nations with ‘terrorist’ problems.
Gordon Weiss, a veteran journalist and UN official for two decades, was firmly entrenched in the conflict as spokesperson for the United Nations in Colombo. He was a close observer as, in just four months in 2009, tens of thousands of civilians perished, cornered, along with the last of the Tamil Tigers on a windy spit.
This account unravels the compelling history that leads up to that horrific moment, peeling back the Sri Lankan government’s cloak of silence to reveal the events of those weeks beat by beat.
The Cage offers a rare glimpse into the reality behind the daily headlines: the inner workings of media manipulation, and the plight of international aid workers struggling to provide humanitarian assistance to those caught in the crossfire of a deadly civil conflict.
(Price & availability last checked: March 2019)