Dear Members of the TNA,
I was livid to read what P.K. Balachandra had reported of your concerns about the “Sinhaleseinflux into North Lanka ”. Let’s get this crystal clear to all you shadows of the late Velupillai Prabhakaran, NORTH LANKA IS NOT A NO-MAN’S LAND FOR US SINHALESE. It is our land as much as yours.
What is indeed your problem TNA? What is it in your genes that you feel that you have the right to seek territorial purity for Tamils in the North and yet you think that you men with three finger stripes of ash across the foreheads have the Hindu Trinity rights to invade the South and claim 41 percent of the population of the capital Colombo and own 75 percent of the prime real estate of its suburb Wellawatte, and yet, keep out the Sinhalese from the North who have every God given right to own and occupy real estate there, especially in Jaffna and live and work there and to be happy ever after like you Tamils living happily ever after in the South and the Hills.
You TNA Tamils have the gall to flood Sea Street in the Pettah with business sign boards hanging from the roofs promoting your “–iah” clan in Tamil calligraphy– the Selliahs, Thambaiahs, Nalliahs, Suppaiahs and Rasaiahs, but have immense difficulty to accept the signs of the Silva Bakery, Perera Grocery Stores and the Sumana Kopi Kade in Sinhalese calligraphy in the heart of Jaffna. That is a hell-of-a-how-do-you-do, isn’t it TNA? My knife cuts both ways and not one way and that is where you lot and I differ!
Well…well….well… Premachandran, Sambandan and Sridharan lets cut out this crap once and for all. Lets not go through another 30 years of violence killing each other just because you think that your blood is more crimson and purer than my Sinhala blood. Rubbish! And let your Tamil kids be kids enjoying ‘hide-and-seek’ and ‘hop-scotch’ and not play ‘cops and robbers’ in Tiger fatigues cradling Kalashnikovs which are heavier than most of them and get killed in the battle frontlines because you adults feared to face the army bullets. I hope you TNAs have learnt a lesson from the past 27-years.
“The army has about 40,000 troops now in the Wanni. Very soon, the troops’ families will join them” you griped to Balachandran. What’s wrong with that may I ask?
That is what we call “Family re-unification” in Canada . Like, when one of your Tamils get on a plane with a legitimate Sri Lankan passport at Katunayake airport on the way to Canada’s Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, and then mid-air this Tamil does an ABRACADABRA and destroys the Sri Lankan passport, and when he/she lands on Canadian soil claims with crocodile tears welling in the eyes to be a Convention refugee fleeing persecution and discrimination in Sri Lanka and have no valid document. The person goes through the normal Immigration Refugee determination procedures to get permanent residency (PR) and a Canadian passport. Once he gets the PR, then the “Family reunification” act kicks in immediately. So this Tamil brings over the mother, the father, the brother, the sister and the whole family caboodle and later all of them become jet-setters travelling to Sri Lanka often, the country that they ran away from saying that they were persecuted and discriminated. This is a classic case of “Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the liar of them all!’
If such ‘Family reunification’ is good for you Tamils, it certainly should be good for the Sinhalese army personnel who are legitimately guarding the Sri Lankan territory, especially the North and the sovereignty of Sri Lanka . If the families are not reunited, they will have a legitimate right to grieve as much as you Tamils have complained to the Human Rights Commission that your rights have been violated by the Sri Lankan Government. It is as simple as that. So what is your gripe TNA?
“Once a settlement comes up, infrastructural facilities like Sinhalese schools and Buddhist temples will come, and the cultural character of the Wanni will change,” gripes, Suresh Premachandran who is contesting from Jaffna District.
Really, Suresh! Isn’t that the normal sociological phenomena? Come to Canada ’s Ontario ’s Scarborough . Within the past 20 years, the Tamil refugees have turned the place into a Little Jaffna. There are Tamil Grocery Stores, Sari stores, Restaurants, Shopping Malls, Vadai and Thosai boutiques, Tamil Curry Huts, Hindu Temples you name it, and they have it. Added to all that they also have gun-totting and knife-wielding Tamil gangs to claim their patch of Canadian territory. Isn’t that a natural phenomenon in an evolution of a new society? So let’s cut your whining as the Sinhalese are no different from you Tamils. Perhaps they are a bit lighter in complexion and talk English with a slightly different accent.
It is time that you Tamil ‘Eelam’ dreamers accept that you are a minority in Sri Lanka which is a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious society and that you Northern and Eastern Tamils should learn how to live peacefully together with the majority Sinhalese as the Tamils do in the South and the Hills who have been doing it for donkey’s years.
And your claim of a “Tamil Homeland” in Sri Lanka ’s North and East has created a problem in my mind, because that’s a bunch of baloney. Is it why you ethnically cleansed the Sinhalese and kicked 27,000 of them out of the North between 1971 and 1981, by killing and terrorizing. Then of course, in October 1990 you all kicked out 100,000 Muslims out of the North giving them 24 hours to move out. After those dastardly acts, and now you all think that the North and the East are purified and are yours and for the Tamils alone, and portray such legitimacy internationally. Ha! Come again. Give me a break TNA.
Remember how you Tamils ethnically cleansed the Jaffna University campus. Let me tell you what happened and after 33 years my blood still gurgles with resentment.
On 22nd July 1977, the United National Party (UNP) formed the Government after an overwhelming victory. Three weeks later on 13th August, in Jaffna , Tamil extremists attacked the government buildings and Sinhalese shops, and you guys still spit about the July 25, 1983 riots when the Tamil shops were attacked by Sinhalese mobs in Colombo.
There were around 400 Sinhalese lecturers and undergraduates at the Jaffna University at that time. The Vice Chancellor on hearing of the anti-Sinhalese disturbances closed the University. While Tamil students went to their homes, the Sinhalese students had no place to go. The staff met and decided to move them to the Third Floor of the Main Building . While some Tamil staff members went to their homes a few stayed back to protect their Sinhalese colleagues and students, (Well…all Tamils are not bad and so are the Sinhalese who took in thousands of Colombo-Tamils into their homes to keep them away from being harmed during the July 83 riots).
Around 10 o’clock that morning a group of Tamil Tigers tried to force their way to the Third Floor, but were prevented by the Tamil staff members. Tamil Tigers went back, threatening to return. The Tamil staff members stayed on. At about 2 o’clock in the afternoon an armed gang of Tamil Tigers forced their way in. The Tamil lecturers again did not allow them to go up and at this point, a professor informed the Government Agent (GA) of the situation.
The GA arrived around 5:00 PM and provided meals to the Sinhalese students and lecturers who had not eaten since morning. By 7:00 PM he arranged the Army and Police to escort the 400 students and lecturers who were taken south out of Jaffna in buses all lying on the floor out of the line of a hail of rocks and stones. Just a note for you TNAs. The July 1983 riots didn’t flare up suddenly. This ethnic cleansing of the Sinhalese was part of the powder-keg that you Tamils started stuffing for it to explode one day and it did happen on July 25, 1983.
You griping TNAs, should note that while the Sinhalese undergraduates were stoned out of the Jaffna University Campus not a single Tamil undergraduate was touched by the Sinhalese in the Peradeniya and Colombo University campuses. My TNA friends, why are you hiding this incident to your western cronies? Admit to them that you guys are no paragons of virtue.
“Tamil nationalists point out that the predominantly Tamil Wanni has been substantially denuded of Tamils by the war which had gone on for 30 years,” you TNA Thambis were crying to Balachandran. Don’t we all know it!
The Tamils had a choice and they were the architects of their destiny, don’t you think so TNA? You Tamils got on your mythical train of Eelam which wasn’t going anywhere other than burying children under 12 inches of soil because you all abducted them and sent them out to war to be killed by bullets. The smart Tamils placed their palms together, looked up and thanked God for providing them an opening to get out of Sri Lanka in search of greener pastures bypassing their Motherland India and in countries further west. So they got on planes to fan out, and so they paid volumes of money to ship captains to take them by sea and dump them near a western shore. That was the choice of your people TNA, so let’s not gripe.
Here are the facts about the North and East which you claim to be your ‘homeland’. If it was a joke then I just didn’t get it. You can read this, absorb these facts and if you don’t like it roll the paper into cigars and smoke it if you wish to but my facts will not lie.
Let me roll back to the pre-development days of the east of Sri Lanka in particular of the Gal-Oya project initiated by the first Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) after Independence, D.S.Senanayake, as some of you may not have yet been born, thus the false claim of the “Tamil Homeland” by the older generation may deem true in your naiveté eyes.
With his vision the 62 mile long Gal Oya (river) rising from the Badulla range in the Central Province was dammed in 1949 for the welfare and prosperity of all Sri Lankans. Let me repeat for the welfare of all Sri Lankans which includes your Tamil people. The repository of water left after damming now forms the lifeblood of the peasant farmers of the historic region of Digamadulla, who some of them were massacred by your Tamil Tigers for purposes of ethnic cleansing.
Prior to this project, contrary to what you Tamils would like us to believe that it was predominantly a Tamil area, on either side of the Gal Oya River grew relentless jungle. The actual denizens were Veddahs (aboriginal people and not Tamils) and wild animals.
It is still recalled by a few old Veddahs how their parents trekked a few miles along the jungle trail to visit the dam site overlooking the Inginiyagala rock, which still stands as a giant sentinel and never met a Tamil woman or a man along the way. Those days only foot paths and animal tracks criss-crossed that vast amphitheatre which was entwined by dense jungle. I wonder where the hell the Tamils were hiding in this area as you TNA claim that it was your Tamil country (homeland). Your claim for this land is an egregious nonsense.
Thus the ‘state aided colonization’ in the Gal Oya project refers to the process by which largely unoccupied and unutilized land belonging to the State which was ‘traditional homeland’ of the aboriginal people, the elephant, the sloth bear, the leopard, the monkey, the deer, the mynah and the jackal were colonized by peasant farmers. They were given meagre financial assistance to enable them to gain both a livelihood and feed their fellow citizens with the fruit of their toil.
With these facts you better tell us where your Tamils were and at what point did they join the Act?
These are the facts TNA and I don’t believe your fairy tales and nor would many thousands of others. So lets stop whining about the “Tamil cultural character of the Wanni will change” with the“Sinhalese influx into North Lanka ”.
Let’s not start another fight. Let’s not kill each other with another 30-year war. You Tamils in the North and East better learn to live peacefully with the majority Sinhalese as they do in the South and the hills of Sri Lanka .
You all should better get used to seeing the business signs of Silva Bakery, Perera Grocery Stores andSumana Kopi Kade in the heart of Jaffna, as much as we have got used to seeing and patronizing Selliah Thosai boutique, Rajaiah Pharmacy, Suppiah Sari Emporium and Nalliah Jewellers in the heart of the capital Colombo.
Category Archives: editorial
As members of the international community continue to attack the government of Sri Lanka for its eradication of terrorism, the inherent hypocrisy is clearly and succinctly elucidated in the following editorial, which appeared in Sri Lanka’s Daily News on September 26th:
When the UN system was brought into being in 1945, it was primarily designed to prevent war and conflict in the world. That was the aftermath of the Second World War which claimed lives in the tens of millions and perpetrated unprecedented devastation over the face of the earth. Mankind, at that time, was more than eager to bid goodbye to the dreadful institution of war. The UN Charter was seen as the ideal blueprint for a world where conflicts and rifts among humans would be resolved by peaceful means, such as, dialogue and a meeting of minds.
It is decades since this new world order was conceived and given concrete shape to a degree, but war has continued to dog mankind at his heels and is still being ravenously resorted to by particularly the more powerful members of the international community, thus rubbishing the vision of a peaceful world underlying the UN system and its Charter. All of this, however, in no way invalidates the UN system and its principal vision and policy trajectory. A world free of conflict and war must be striven for on the part of all who have won membership of the UN.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s address to the UN General Assembly last Friday, was of profound relevance because it drew the attention of the world and of its leaders to some of these founding principles of the UN. Sovereign equality among the states of the UN, for instance, is a cardinal founding ideal of the UN system. Under this order of things, there could be no question of one state or states, coercing any other state or states into doing their bidding. Since, peace is the motivating ideal of the UN, conflicts among states need to be resolved through the use of peaceful methods, such as, dialogue and rational persuasion. This was, very correctly, underscored by the Sri Lankan President.
But such golden rules of interaction among the world’s states have been observed more in the breach, particularly on the part of those states which have emerged as the predominant military and political powers of the world, and the post Second World War new world order is shown up as having nothing particularly new to offer. Nevertheless, we believe that the UN and its principles should be abided by in this highly imperfect world of ours because international anarchy could only result in the states of the world doing each other mortal, irreparable harm.
By saying this we do not intend to imply that the UN system has proved ineffective. Far from implying so, we wish to place on record that the UN specialized agencies in particular, have done yeoman service for the powerless of the world over the decades and are continuing very courageously to do so. For these reasons, the UN continues to earn the gratitude and admiration of the poor and powerless.
But there is no ignoring the need for UN reform and we believe that it is up to the powerful members of the UN system to address these needs. By reform we do not only have in mind fundamental reforms, such as, the sufficient enlargement of the UN Security Council to enable it to reflect the current global military and economic balance, but also what President Rajapaksa in his UNSG address referred to as ‘inconsistent standards and discriminating approaches that can unintentionally give a fresh lease of life to the forces of terror.’
Since the collapse of the Cold War and the emergence of what is called a ‘multi-polar’ world, self interest has been increasingly driving the states of the world in an unprecedented way. Self-interest has always been a motivating factor in the behaviour of states, but this trend could be expected to accelerate after the collapse of the relatively rigorous structures which held the world together in the Cold War days.
This is not in any way an endorsement of the Cold War world order, but an emphatic reminder that the world needs to conduct its relations on the basis of impartiality, justice and equality if the world political order is to be prevented from descending into greater anarchy and disorder.
In the case of Sri Lanka , there is no doubt that she is being unfairly treated over the Darusman Report and the resultant issues. Sri Lanka has exercised its inalienable sovereign right to defend its territorial integrity by defeating the LTTE and the powerful of the world would be only giving the LTTE and its supporters a new lease of life by unjustifiably faulting Sri Lanka . In other words, terror is being given a fillip. This is a warm invitation to greater international disorder.
On the eve of a visit by Robert Blake, US Under Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs and former US ambassador to Sri Lanka, it’s time to turn the turn the tables and ask a few questions of our own.
To Mr. Robert Blake, Sri Lankans want to know:
There are confusions related to the context of terrorism, internally displaced, rehabilitation, reintegration, resettlement, human rights violations & the like – questions which the US, UK, EU, UN & a host of private NGOs seem to enjoy hurling at Sri Lanka & accusing it repeatedly. Despite these questions being thrown at the Sri Lankan Government from various fronts, the Government being elected by the people, who mean us the public, we would now like to have some answers from you.
Is the LTTE a terrorist organization? Is the LTTE not proscribed by US, UK & EU making 32 countries to include the LTTE as a terrorist organization? If so, what stops your government from taking actions against all private movements, organizations including charities that openly promote & continue to administer LTTE terrorism on foreign soil? What is the US Governments stand on the Transnational Government another arm of the LTTE now set up because these operators desire to continue clandestine activities that include money laundering, narcotics, illegal prostitution, human smuggling & collection of funds to be shared amongst its directorates!
Was Saddam Hussein a terrorist for the US to launch “Operation Iraqi Freedom” in 2003? If not why did 198,200 troops invade Iraq? Was there WMDs? If Saddam was reason for US & allies to invade Iraq & he was captured on 13th December 2003 why did the US remain in Iraq?
A recent study by the Center for Public Integrity, top Bush Administration officials told at least 935 lies about Iraq on 532 separate occasions. These included 259 lies by Bush, 254 lies by Secretary of State Colin Powell, 109 lies by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, 109 lies by Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, 56 lies by National Security Advisor Condi Rice, and 48 lies by Vice President Cheney.
US has failed to resettle the Iraqi IDPs
Despite the capture of Saddam in December 2003, 200,000 Iraqi’s were displaced in 2003-2005. Since February 2006, an additional 1,552,003 million Iraqis have been displaced. If the ouster of Saddam was the main objective & with him captured what has delayed US & allies from taking care of the internally displaced, resettling them? There are close to 4million Iraqi’s displaced today & the displaced figures are ironically rising since 2003 (2million displaced inside Iraq & 2million Iraqis living as refugees in other countries). Why has the US & allies not paid attention to the resettlement of these innocent Iraqi people? Mr. Blake, are you aware that these 2million internally displaced have no incomes to rely on and are running out of coping mechanisms & the “saviors” seem not to care? According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 70 per cent of IDPs are women and children Results from a recent Oxfam survey of donors show that 2006 funding for humanitarian assistance fell alarmingly to $95m despite the evident increase in need. Has the US & allies forgotten The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 44 presented to the UN in 1998 describe the rights of the internally displaced at all stages of their displacement, right up to their safe return or resettlement, and also cover the prevention of displacement.
Sri Lanka for almost 30 years gave a terrorist organization more chances than any other country would – with innumerable ceasefires, peace negotiations & even foreign trips. Not only did Sri Lanka eliminate a terrorist organization within 3 years, but also Sri Lanka has within 2 years resettled practically all of the 294,000 IDPs except around 3000 who apparently prefer to enjoy free meals, accommodation & other facilities afforded by the Government without going & starting life afresh.
However, it is poignant that the US & allies first attend to completing the promise given to the people of Iraq that the US & allies would rid Iraq of their dictator & deliver normalcy & democracy to Iraq but in reality what have the US & allies given to the Iraqis?
Of the four million Iraqis who are dependent on food assistance, only 60 per cent currently have access to rations through the government-run Public Distribution System (PDS), down from 96 per cent in 2004.
Forty-three per cent of Iraqis suffer from ‘absolute poverty – half the population are said to be without work. It is believed that the money has no other option but to take to prostitution exactly as what is happening in Kosovo. Female trafficking has become a lucrative business many virgin teenage girls are sold for around 5,000 dollars, and trafficked to destinations like northern Iraq, Syria and the United Arab Emirates. The estimated child prostitutes are around the 50,000 figure & they are as young as 13 years.
Mr. Blake, are you aware that child malnutrition rates have risen from 19 % before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28 %. More than 11 per cent of newborn babies were born underweight in 2006, compared with 4 per cent in 2003. Of the 180 hospitals countrywide, 90 per cent lack key resources including basic medical and surgical supplies.
The number of Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies has risen from 50 per cent to 70 per cent since 2003. There is a massive brain drain – 40% of doctors, medical staff, teachers, engineers & other professionals have all fled Iraq…why should they when Iraq is now free of their dictator Saddam…? One survey found that 92 per cent of children had learning impediments that are largely attributable to the current climate of fear. Over 800,000 children may now be out of school, according to a recent estimate by Save the Children UK – up from 600,000 in 2004.
Yet with foreign armies in Iraq & so many NGOs – a good question to ask is what are they all doing? Prior to 2003 there were only a handful of NGOs operating in Iraq today there are over 11,000 NGOs (The ministry of civil society estimates that only around 3000 of these are registered & legitimate) The same scenario exists in Sri Lanka.
It is believed that Iraq’s oil prompted the concocted invasion in Iraq. Halliburton (its subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root (KBR), formerly headed by the US Vice President Dick Cheney has been awarded the USD18bilion military and oil service contracts.
Treatment of prisoners
Guantanamo Bay & Diego Garcia are just a few of the known prisons in which the US keeps prisoners. They do not have rights. They are detained indefinitely without charge or trial most of them scooped from a foreign country & taken on private planes across the oceans & brought to these prisons unknown to anyone. The US government claims they can neither be released nor prosecuted. There are 3000 such “suspected” terrorists. Rape, sodomy with foreign objects, the use of unmuzzled dogs to bite and severely injure prisoners, and beating prisoners to death have been documented at Abu Ghraib. Women beg their families to smuggle poison into the prisons so they could kill themselves because of the humiliation they suffered.
Mr. Blake, have the US forgotten that it has ratified the CAT Treaty – Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Torture, inhuman treatment, and willful killing are grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions treaties ratified by the United States. Grave breaches of Geneva are considered war crimes under the U.S. War Crimes Act of 1996. American nationals who commit war crimes abroad can receive life in prison or even the death penalty if the victim dies. But we know that some Americans denounces the tortures & cruelty the US government is involved in – 300 lawyers, retired judges, and law professors (including this writer), a former FBI director, an ex-Attorney General, and seven past presidents of the American Bar Association signed one such memo. Afterall there was no war in Iraq – it was only invaded on a false allegation – Saddam was no terrorist – he was earlier a CIA agent just like Osama bin Laden. The American media has managed to keep these facts away from the American public & America remains a nation hypnotized into believing lies.
In a country that boasts of equality, freedom & human rights – what can you say about 1200 Arabs, Muslims, South Asians being rounded up following 9/11 clearly racial profiling. A report compiled by the Dept of Justices Office of the Inspector General into allegations of physical & verbal abuse on non-citizen prisoners by the Federal Bureau of Prisons found that several Metropolitan Detention Center staff had slammed and bounced detainees into the walls, twisted or bent their arms, hands, wrists, or fingers, pulled their thumbs back, tripped them, and dragged them on the floor & verbally abused them. How could such happen in the freest country called America?
Contrast this with Sri Lanka. Yes, we had a movement called the LTTE – it was not a group fighting against the Sinhalese this can be clearly proven in the scores of Tamils that the LTTE killed starting off with the Jaffna Mayor – Duraiappah, including scores of Tamil politicians, teachers, clergy including Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadiragamar. By killing these moderate thinking Tamil politicians the LTTE managed to scare the life of the other Tamil politicians who had no other choice but to parrot what the LTTE wanted to save their lives. Moreover, LTTE was a unit that actually kidnapped the “separatist” theme from the ITAK political party (Illankai Tamil Arassu Katchchi formed in the 1940s promoting separatist state in Sri Lanka) LTTE was given oxygen by our own neighbor India & a country now pretending to be our friend & thinking Sri Lankans will forget 30 years of terror activated & promoted by India! If Sri Lanka cannot assert its sovereignty alone, India should never be an option ever. We will not forget or forgive India & whatever forms of diplomatic & economic ties India wishes to establish the majority people will never forget the India-LTTE links. We are not naïve to buy the India changed after Rajiv Gandhi death excuse – Rajiv died in 1991, over 20 years ago. India had the power & ability to help Sri Lanka eliminate the LTTE no sooner Rajiv died – that India didn’t & preferred to use the LTTE against Sri Lanka shows Sri Lanka that India can never be trusted.
The LTTE collapse came in May 2009 – the army captured LTTE troops while others gave themselves up in an unprecedented humanitarian rescue operation that on account of its magnanimity Western nations stand shocked & their defense is to only point shortcomings above the magnanimity of that rescue operation. All the while if killing or orders to kill was the prerogative why would Sri Lankan governmental soldiers sacrifice their own lives when they could have easily shot dead every one in sight. Why would they remotely undergo hardships to literary carry women, children & men to safety on the ground as well as through the marshy lagoon?
The Sri Lankan government has spent USD2.5b on rehabilitation. 11,700 LTTE cadres surrendered…if there had been orders to kill would they have been alive? Of this number 7969 have been released, 2879, are being rehabilitated in camps. That rehabilitation covers mason skills, handicraft work and paintings as well as vocational, language and communication training to improve their skills and their educational knowledge. What did the LTTE teach them – only to kill. In 2010 within a year after the victory of the LTTE 400 rehabilitated female LTTE cadres received employment at a garment factory. In 2011 One hundred and eight former members of LTTE sat for the GCE Advanced Level examination while over 50% of rehabilitated ex-combatants had successfully completed the GCE Ordinary Level in 2010. Last month (August 2011) 152 former LTTE cadres who had undergone rehabilitation were handed over to their families at the Vavuniya Cultural Center. It was in 2010 that over 100 former LTTE cadres were given marriage in a wedding ceremony organized by the Sri Lanka Army. While all efforts are being taken by Sri Lanka to rehabilitate men, women & children who were made into killers by a terror outfit called the LTTE helped by foreign governments & clandestine operators, LTTE cadres who escaped from Sri Lanka are being rounded up in an attempt to resurrect a now dead movement – ironically Tamil Nadu resurfaces as its training base.
The future of this ambitious plan lies in the hands of the Tamil people who need to seriously ask themselves if they are Sri Lankans or Indians. Indians in particular Tamil Nadu may liken the Tamils in Sri Lanka as part of their own but of late the issues rising as a result of Indian fishermen coming into Sri Lankan waters does not show much affinity towards their own people. Fishing is the livelihood of Sri Lankan Tamils & Tamil Nadu fishermen forcibly coming into fish on Sri Lankan shores are doing more harm than good to their own people. Moreover, if Tamils think that India has answers to their problems it would be prudent for India to offer them Indian citizenship. There is no point living in Sri Lanka if their heart is in India.
While we are on the same topic it is good to remind the Tamil politicians that they should apply for citizenship first if they feel they need to rush all the time to India for advice on how they should bargain with the Sri Lankan government! If discrimination is the tagline used, it is good for the West to go through perhaps over 200 flats & condominiums built by Tamils & ask if they will rent them out to Sinhalese & openly they will say they rent to only Tamils! This may not be discrimination against the Sinhalese to the West! Yet we seem to be eager to ask Diaspora to come & help – this is the same Diaspora that wanted their Tamil people to take to arms instead of going to study & becoming somebody in life while their own children attended foreign schools & worked abroad.
Our President made Sri Lanka a promise – to get rid of terrorism in Sri Lanka. He braved the storms that came from diplomatic fronts to provide that freedom. Today, no one can deny that the country is free of bombs & suicide missions. This is what all Sri Lankans wanted & what we were delivered. Taking care of the other ills is left to us the citizens. Where were the world leaders when the LTTE struck on innocent men, women & children through 30 years? We needed more than just diplomatic statements of sympathy following such bombings. The West takes no share in the liberty that we are now enjoying & all we can ask is that the countries that the West has invaded should not be penalized any further. They are all innocent people.
US & allies promised the end of a dictator in Iraq in 2003. 8 years on the Iraqi people are far worse when Saddam was ruling & the US economy is in total ruin. Trillions in debt can the US literally “afford” to dictate to others? The costs of these trips can best be put to the kitty to rescue the US from debt!
Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Dr. Palitha Kohona, addressed a capacity audience at the Dag Hammerskold Theatre of the United Nations yesterday at a screening of the video ‘Lies Agreed Upon,’ which presents a point-by-point rebuttal of the claims alleged in Channel 4 Uk’s production of the highly contentious ‘Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields’ program, which has been making the rounds of late. The following are his introductory comments:
- I wish to welcome you to the screening of the video, “Lies Agreed Upon”, which is a point by point response to the Channel-4 videos, one of which was screened in New York a few weeks ago, and the Darusman Report.
- The Channel-4 video paints a harrowing picture of the final stages of the war, and it all but convicts the Government and the Security Forces of Sri Lanka of waging a deliberate war against the Tamil population.
The LTTE’s Record Airbrushed
- Let us pause for a second. It must not be forgotten that the war was initially brought upon the people of Sri Lanka by the brutal terrorism of the Tamil Tigers, the LTTE. It was after attempting to talk to them over and over again, to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict, that the Government of Sri Lanka launched the military offensive to bring the conflict to an end.
- Let us also not forget that the Tamil Tigers, according to the UNICEF, recruited over 5,700 children as armed combatants. The LTTE invented the suicide jacket and deployed it hundreds of times against civilian targets killing thousands. They massacred hundreds in cold blood; bombed UNESCO protected places of worship and ethnically cleansed the Northern Province.
- The LTTE eliminated almost all moderate Tamil political leaders who did not toe their line.
- The LTTE marched thousands of Tamil civilians forcibly as a human shield and bargaining chip as they retreated from one town to another and one village to another. They ignored calls by the international community, including the Secretary-General, to let these people go.
- The LTTE, you will see very clearly from this video, located its heavy weaponry in the midst of civilians to attract retaliatory fire.
- The LTTE either through coercion or other means collected millions of dollars to fund its brutal separatist campaign.
- The Channel-4 video airbrushes all this and points an accusatory finger at the Government and the current video “Lies Agreed Upon” seeks to counter the material presented as evidence by Channel-4.
Post Conflict Rehabilitation and Reconstruction
- It is also to be remembered that at the end of the conflict there were approximately 300,000 IDPS. Dark allegations of long term concentration camps, hunger, epidemics, abuse etc. were loudly predicted at the time, even by responsible politicians in the West. But none of these occurred.
- Over 70 International and domestic NGOs operated freely in these camps.
- All child combatants have been rehabilitated and returned to their families. Over 7000 former adult combatants have returned to their communities. They are all trained killers and buried caches of weapons are still being recovered. The emergency regulations, that have been in the books since 1971, will be repealed this month.
- The democratic process has been restored – Access to the North is open.
- The country is booming economically and the President and the Government are enjoying unprecedented approval ratings (recent Gallup poll).
- But all this seems to count for nothing to Channel-4.
- Towards the end of the conflict, serious efforts were made by certain Western leaders to arrange a ceasefire. But with the LTTE on its last legs and having the experience of previous ceasefires, exploited by the LTTE to rearm, regroup and attack with greater ferocity, the Government persisted in pushing the LTTE to the end.
- Surrender demands made over the months by the Government were dismissed by the LTTE leadership. Therefore a ceasefire at that late stage would have served only one purpose, it would have thrown a life line to the sinking LTTE.
- One begins to wonder why Sri Lanka, one of the few examples in recent history of a country that has defeated terrorism, continues to be hounded in this manner? Is it because Sri Lanka was not expected to defeat the LTTE, but did? Is it because Sri Lanka did not comply with the ceasefire demands of certain leaders? Is it because the defeated LTTE supporters in Western capitals continue to exert enormous influence?
- There were other factors that may be motivating the Channel-4 line. If you carefully analyze the material presented by the Channel-4 video a critical message comes through. The Sri Lankan security forces deliberately targeted the Tamil civilians and, of course, this is the basis for a charge of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
- Then the Channel-4 video goes on to produce so called evidence to back this claim. Much of the evidence is obtained from the Tamil Net (The LTTE’s official web outlet) and LTTE propaganda material.
- Even though the evidence is flimsy or nonexistent, over the years a lie repeated often enough can gain legitimacy.
- This is something you need to keep in mind.
- Please watch the video and come to your own conclusions.
Gordon Weiss has an axe to grind. Not only that, but he’s got a new book to sell as well. And as we all know controversy sells. So does sensationalism. So if you want to read a rather contrived and imagined account of the final four months of a 27 year conflict between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, buy the book. Weiss, after all, has impeccable credentials. As the UN spokesman in Sri Lanka during this time, he observed the war from the relatively safe confines 0f Colombo, from where all international press also reported.
Yet it is from Weiss’s book that we get such unverifiable statistics that as many as “40,000 civilians (possibly more),” perished in the final stages of the war. This information was quoted in the highly contested Darusman Report as well as the equally unreliable and downright sensationalist Channel 4 documentary, “Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields,” lending credence to claims of war crimes committed by Sri Lankan government forces. But Weiss more than intimates that government forces were guilty of war crimes, while glossing over 27 years of terrorism at the hands of the LTTE, who initially rose to power after brutally eliminating their own competition–moderate and otherwise–within the ranks of the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka. His book is basically a hatchet-job–so biased and one-sided that it almost reads like a propaganda piece for the pro-LTTE lobby. Now that he has violated the International Civil Service Oath that he took upon joining the U.N., in which he swore not to divulge information obtained as a result of the office held, he needs to support himself and his family. What better way than a book, and a book tour, and it is certainly not surprising who is coming out in his support.
When its former employees are making money and a name off a bloody conflict that lasted 27 years and claimed countless lives, the U.N. really needs to check itself if it is to have any credibility in the international community. A veritable “lynch mob” has risen up against Sri Lanka, the only country in the world to rid itself of terrorists, and much of the so-called evidence comes from Gordon Weiss’s very flawed narrative.
Truth and Accountability: The Last Stages of the War in Sri Lanka
Godfrey Gunatilleke, one of Sri Lanka’s and South Asia’s most respected intellectuals, a distinguished former civil servant, and founder of the country’s oldest independent think-tank, the MARGA Institute, made a sharply critical evaluation of the UNSG’s advisory Panel Report in an extended analysis entitled “Truth and Accountability: the Last Stages of the War in Sri Lanka”. He concludes that:
“A wise judge knows that in the imperfect domain of human knowledge there are many versions of the truth and steers himself conscientiously through all these versions, seeking the truth. The outcome of the Panels’ report falls far short of such wisdom.
[…] The root of the problems in the report lie in their outrageous interpretation of the government’s military strategy as designed at the extermination of Tamils without any humanitarian intention or effort at rescuing hostages. With this interpretation the panel puts on the blinkers that distort all their perceptions of the government’s actions. The report also gives a deliberately truncated view of the government’s action by excluding what would have provided a different and more positive explanation of these actions. This deficiency is seen in every part of the report that deals with government actions.” (Conclusion – pp.28-29)
Dr Godfrey Gunatilleke is the Chairman Emeritus and founder member of the Marga Institute (Centre of Development Studies, Sri Lanka). He served as Minister of Planning from 1965 to 1972 and was the Director of Plan Implementation and Project Evaluation, the Additional Secretary and thereafter Special Adviser.
At present, he is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington and member of the WHO Task Force on Health in Development. He served as Member of Boards of several government bodies and Commissions including the Institute of Policy Studies, The Human Resources Development Council, and the National Resources, Energy and Science Authority.
The author of several books, articles and publications on development issues, and an outstanding literary critic, his involvement in the literary field includes short stories such as “The Garden”, “Thief in the Night” and literary critical articles “Language without Metaphor”. Dr. Gunatilleke is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Gratiaen Trust.
Dr. Gunatilleke was conferred several national and international awards including the “Deshmanaya” for distinguished public service.