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Punjabi Manch   13th Issue

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Terrorism Versus Freedom Struggles

These days, there is a great deal of confusion in the World about the definition of the word Terrorism.  The terrorists themselves have created some of this confusion while for the rest the liberal media and the liberal politicians are responsible.

I have heard people confusing terrorism with freedom struggles in some cases and terrorism with guerilla actions in other cases.

According to the Websterís dictionary the word Terrorism is defined as (1) The use of terrorizing methods. (2) The state of fear and submission so produced. (3) A terroristic method of governing or of resisting a Government. (4) Systematic use of terror especially as a means of gaining some political end.

There seems to be some ambiguity in the above versions of the definition.  The component that is missing from the above definitions is the mention of the word Civilians.  It is important to note that when the perpetrators deliberately direct their anger against the civilian population for the purpose of terrorizing people, it is Terrorism without a doubt no matter what the goal is.  The suicide/homicide bombers in Israel or the Palestinian territories is nothing but Terrorism and cannot be classified as Guerilla Warfare or legitimate rules of engagement as long as such actions are directed against the civilian population on purpose.  The supporters of such Terrorist actions justify it by claiming that in every warfare civilians do get killed.  The difference is that most of the time civilians get killed unintentionally and such loss of life becomes an undesirable and ugly component of collateral damage.  However, if such loss of life, liberty or property of the civilians happens due to the deliberate actions of any entity in power or not, it is Terrorism.  If such terror is let loose by the state, it is called state terrorism.  The clear-cut example of such state terror was Saddam Husseinís terror against the Kurdish and Shiite people inside Iraq.  The other clear-cut example of state terrorism in the recent past was Indira Gandhiís destruction of the Holiest Shrine of the Sikhs along with terrorizing and killing of thousands of men women and children belonging to the Sikh minority in the state of Punjab in 1984.  What followed from the opposing side in some cases was also terrorism where the Sikh militants lost direction and started killing the civilians belonging to the Hindu community.  As a matter of fact, those killers were nothing but terrorists and their actions cannot be glorified by calling them militants or freedom fighters.  In some cases Hindu civilians were dragged out of buses and killed on the spot by those terrorists.  Such actions cannot be classified as Guerilla actions or freedom struggle.  It was terrorism and was bound to backfire against those forces that were perpetrating those crimes.  In some cases the civilians were forced at gunpoint to go through a cultural revolution to change their food habits, clothing and some social customs.  This was enough to instill hatred in the minds of the public against the militants.  It was suspected that some Government agents infiltrated the militant outfits to carry such atrocities against the civilian population to destroy those outfits from within.  As a result the militant outfits were destroyed in the state of Punjab.

The same is true about the Kashmiri people where some forces are deliberately killing the Hindu and the Sikh civilian population of the state of Kashmir with the purpose of terrorizing those minority segments of the population.  This approach is going to backfire the same way as it did in the state of Punjab and the people of Kashmir will lose in their legitimate struggle for self-determination

Remember it is not the goal rather the methods employed to achieve that goal that is being defined here.  When those methods go against the rules of engagement accepted by the civilized world, it becomes Terrorism because the ends cannot justify the means.

There is a commonsense definition of a freedom struggle: It is the struggle of a particular group of people usually known as a nationality or a nation to gain independence from the dominance of the oppressor group.  That oppressor group does not have to be the larger of the two in every case.  The usual motivation for such oppression is the attempt of the oppressor group to suppress the history, heritage, language, art, culture, natural resources or religion or all of the above of the oppressed group. The oppressor does not have to be a colonial power. It could happen from within the same country.  If one group does it against the other within a country, the people struggling for independence are labeled as separatists. If a resistance movement starts to employ terror against the civilians, it can no longer be classified as The Resistance Movement.  It will be more appropriately called the Terrorist Group and its members are called the terrorists instead of militants or members of the Resistance so that their actions are not glorified.  

Even though the Liberal Media tries to twist the definitions to suit their worldview or to pander to certain groups from time to time but that does not change the reality.  And that is why the Liberal Media have been proven to be biased. The Liberal media uses several different terms interchangeably because such is the nature of Liberalism.  This applies to the American, Canadian, Indian and other media alike.

Let us not forget that the civilized world has civilized rules and regulations even for the treatment of the enemy prisoners who took up arms and fought.

Do not forget that the civilized World has civilized rules and regulations to treat even the dictators like Emmanuel Noriega and Saddam Hussein. Even such people do not receive a brutal treatment according to the rules set forth by the Western Civilization in modern times. 

It is really sad that a recent conference of the Muslim Nations of the World could not even agree on a definition of Terrorism because they did not want to anger some terrorist outfits in the World.

There is no holy book or religious teaching that can justify barbarism and beastly tactics against innocent civilians.  Sometimes, such tactics are employed to instill fear in peopleís minds without killing them when killing is not possible or not desirable from the standpoint of the terrorists.  No matter, how someone tries to disguise it as Guerilla Actions, Militancy, Insurgency, Resistance Movement, Freedom Struggle etc, etc, it is Terrorism without a doubt when such actions are directed against the civilian population.

To sum it all up the deliberate killing of or frightening of the civilians by the state or the people opposing the state is Terrorism no matter what the goal is. 

History is our witness that Terrorism always loses in the long run no matter how invincible it appears in the beginning.  Therefore, the current global terrorism will meet the same fate eventually.

 Yours truly,

 Amrik S. Kang                   Puyallup, U.S.A.                January 12, 2004