Colombo, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

Travels in a Militarised Society – 7 – Cultural Iconography: Odel Present and Past

I enter Odel from the car park side with echoes of the student protest and the rubber bullets in my ears. I wet a hankie with my water bottle and wipe the tears from my eyes. Odel is bedecked with pre-Christmas colours: this old white colonial mansion is decorated with classy, elegant peacock coloured angels, birds and fairy lights. The day is hot as usual. As I cross the threshold, a soft mist of water from above the door baptises me; a gentle moment of luxury courtesy of the management. Then, less gently, the private security guards search my bag. I might be carrying a bomb! Inside, to the musak of Christmas carols, I float through the international world of fashion and opulence: Hugo Boss so handsome, Naomi Campbell on the catwalk, Ralph Lauren from top to toe, perfumes including special fragrances for men, Lush soaps for lush ladies, a Sushi bar, French and Italian coffees, wines from anywhere on earth, jewellery glittering with the fabled gems of our land… And so on. I am on another planet, the planet of elegance and beauty where I can be wrapped in aromatic softness, cuddled by dreams that circle the globe promising they can come true… if … if …

I run into a couple of my NGO friends. They have recently got married and are setting up their own little business. They are cheerful, optimistic, smiling a lot. In my head I hear Paul Simon singing: “…why don’t we get together and call ourselves an institute”.

Suddenly there’s a politician hanging around in my fantasy world. I cannot remember which party he is in now since he, like others, is a floor-crosser. His two hefty body guards have immaculate white shirts, mobile phones and pistols displayed on their belts. I am not floating any more. Behind and beneath the sweet smells and seductive sights, there is something else.

Yes, this perfect fantasy world revolves 360 degrees and I am back twenty years. Twenty years ago this beautiful mansion was a Special Forces camp. Many university students and youth from Colombo and the surrounding areas who were suspected of being JVP or anti-state activists were brought here. Most of them never came home again. Everyone knew what was going on in here and avoided the place not to hear the sounds. I cannot say how many young corpses are buried beneath this beautiful Odel of which we are so proud, where we can be part of the proper international commercial world.

Our present Minister for the Environment, Champika Ranawaka, a JHU parliamentarian, is the man who defends all the necessary repressions of the present time, the man who protects us from the neo-imperialism of foreign NGOs and governments who moan about human rights. He also has an interesting history associated with this place. I cannot remember which torture camp he was taken to after being picked up in Boralla in September 1989, either the one here at Odel or the one at Colombo University. He was held for three months. After this he published a series of articles, entitled Amusahonaka Willangula, about his experience in Divaina’s Wednesday Supplement. Amusahonaka refers to the ancient practice of putting corpses unburied and uncremated into cemetery areas where they would be dealt with by birds and animals of prey. Willangula are handcuffs. During his time in the torture camp he had felt like a handcuffed, abandoned body dumped in a place where he was being devoured. In 1992 several of his colleagues were arrested again. They were suspected of being involved in plans for a coup against President Premadasa. An NGO called the Movement for Defence Democratic Rights (MDDR) provided the legal means to release them from goal.

In a context in which every twenty-four hours, in the North, South, Central, East and West of Sri Lanka, several people are killed by aerial bombardments, claymore bombs, artillery shells, hand grenades, suicide bombers and a world-class catalogue of different bullets; I am happy to learn that our Minister of the Environment is deeply concerned to do something about Sri Lanka’s carbon footprint. Although our Minister explains that it is urgent to defeat terrorism in order to avoid this danger to the planet’s health; what I wonder is whether the human footprint will disappear before we manage to get rid of the carbon footprint.

These thoughts, these quicksands of the past and the present, make me forget shopping and want to get out of Odel. As I reach the road, I see the students who have been beaten, clinging to the iron railings, still unable to see and trying to get the teargas out of their lungs. So, on this Human Rights Day, 10th December, this is the government’s gift. Ironically, these same students’ union is allied with the JVP, whose parliamentarians are allied with the government, enjoying the luxuries of power and privilege and denying vehemently that there are any human rights issues of concern in Sri Lanka. My mind is disoriented. I don’t know how to understand this: in the second JVP uprising of the late ’80s and early ’90s, they lost 60,000 people. They in turn killed more 6,577 of their adversaries. During this time, they were dependent on Amnesty International, which brought their plight to the attention of the world and put much effort into protecting their human rights. Amnesty’s support for the JVP was so effective that in 1991 Defence Minister Ranjan Wijerathne called Amnesty a terrorist organisation, a wolf in lamb’s clothing out to demonise Sri Lankans. Now the JVP are partners of the government by day and champions of ‘the people’ by night. This is the strange choreography of opportunism, of those who have power without responsibility. They call themselves Marxist but they are Mask-ist. Not only do they deny that there are any human rights problems in Sri Lanka, but they are the ones now who loudly accuse Amnesty of siding with the LTTE and ignoring that organisation’s violations.

It is dusk now. I am surrounded by the noise of vehicles, each harshly bleating its aggressive presence. On both sides of the road there are weary soldiers every ten metres. They have stood here all day in this hot, dusty, noisy, polluted place, without even a break to pee. The coral and pink sunset is fading and the shadows of the trees begin to weave the darkness of night. In the midst of all this noise, I think of Sartre’s play, Men Without Shadows. In it the character Lucie asks the same question three times and it seems the only way to articulate the pain I feel myself: What is this unbearable silence? What is this unbearable silence? What is this unbearable silence?

For full set of Prasanna’s vignettes (parts 4 – 6) with sources, click here.

  • alankara sri

    Excellent !!

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    A tragic tale. Sound like swan song for Sri Lanka. What will come out of all this tragedy? Thank you for your contribution to enlighten. Keep walking and leave us your relfections.

  • I am sure that the travels in a militarised society would have revealed that the practice of democracy is non existent.

    The fundamental principle of democracy is to accept that every citizen is equal. The people should be allowed to express and rule themselves at grass root level. There should be justice, protection and freedom of expression to all, without any discrimination whatsoever.

    There was never democracy in Sri Lanka, What prevailed in Sri Lanka always was “Sinhalocracy”. The Sinhalese ruled over the Tamils, as if they were inequals, not deserving even their legitimate democratic rights.

    In 1950’s when the Tamils democratically expressed their political desires by non violent methods, brutal force was unleashed by the armed forces of the state to nullify expression. Leaders were beaten up and our revered leader SJV Chelvanayakam was put under house arrest, for more than one year, with a view to humiliate and take away the dignity of him and the Tamils. Does this fall within any distant definition of democracy? No. It can fall only under a new category of rule called “Sinhalocracy” which embodies Sinhala autocratic arrogance over Tamils.

    Shame on the leaders of the South, if they ever say that democracy was ever practiced after independence. There was only a democratic process of elections used but for the brutal rule of oppressive Sinhalocracy. They use military to rule the North East and claim they are a Democracy!

  • ealamboy

    The way country is being govern I hope he will not walk pass Colombo because if he some how end up walk pass vavaniya he will walking on the wrong side of the fence and I would not be able to read some nice writings and might have to write my condolences.

  • This article clearly demonstrate the duplicity practiced by the Amnesty International. It is the habbit, the AI goes fishing in trouble waters shedding crocodile tears for their survival and existence.

    The description of HEFTY bodyguards with their weapons on display accopanying politico at Odel is typical leaf from a Western School of thought. To beginwith SL bodyguards are not hefty or bulky as their Western Counterparts. Yes, I agree their immaculate white Mandarin Collar shirts they generally wear if their soaked in “Robin Blue”..
    Surprisingly it was just a NGO solitary couple that the writer came across. Not a couple but hordes of those NGOs can be found lazying at Odel at any given time. They come to SL not out of humantarian concerns but to fill their pockets. They too could be found at plush hotels & night clubs in town. Their dwelling is in either in those hotels or up market homes. Weekend Jaunts. Their work revolves around preaching to the poor ” happy are those poor in spirit as the kingdom of heaven is theirs”, & planting seeds of poison provided by their paymasters.
    That Odel building identified as a toutrue camp ? better ask Ranil Wickramasinghe about that and moreover John Amaratunaga has a person called “ROYCE” in his security detail identified with a ficticious name. He will be able shed more light.

    Its better if the writer focused what could be done from now on instead of dwelling in the past which is history. Do not just write tongue in cheek or for the sake of wrtting.

  • Punitham

    The writing is superb. It makes you pine for a Sri Lanka without malicious politicians. The wirter must have produced some books. May I know the titles, please?

  • dj

    A closer look at Victory

    Most Sri Lankans are today living in anticipation of Victory. This is the general message given initially by the government, and now further articulated by an increasing number of people. For the majority of citizens Victory means the dawn of peace, prosperity and a secure and happy future for their children. However, it is imperative that a closer look at this “desired scenario” be made at this juncture.

    The impending victory, which was thought not possible by the majority of Lankans 3 years ago, has been defined by many. The Government of Sri Lanka, in mid 2007, gallantly declared that Peace will dawn at the end of 2008. A few months later it was declared that terrorism will be defeated. The Army Commander, went on to say in December 2007, that, of the 6000 LTTE terrorists 3000 have been killed, and therefore plans have been made to eliminate the balance 3000 thousand at a daily average of 10 per day. Leaving aside the futility of pronouncing deadlines in matters regarding war, the government expects the population to believe this story and solicits the help of the people by telling them to “tighten their belts”.

    A closer look at this pronouncements will show a shift from the government stand from delivering peace by the dawn of 2009, to eliminating the LTTE by the dawn of 2009. The citizenry needs to realize the distinctions between the eliminating the LTTE, eliminating terrorism , the dawn of a peaceful environment and the durable solution to the ethnic conflict. These are 4 different objectives, and maybe debated as being sequential. The fact of the matter is, the Rajapakse regime at best, is only looking at the elimination of the LTTE. There seems to be no effort made on the other 3 objectives.

    The real danger is the cost the country is incurring economically and socially. It is hoped that the cost of destroying the LTTE will not be, victory for separatism. The means of destroying one evil should not rejuvenate and give life to the ideology of separatism.

    dj

  • SRILANKAN

    [Edited out] LIve in this world man do you think without destroying LTTE millatarly could the people of Sri Lanka reach peace. OOOh now you will say thats how I was made to think in this millatarized society. No Man I am a rational person and there are lots of people like me who think double D,(Devolution of power and Destroying LTTE) is the only answer for SRi Lanka. Because we have followed NGO advice earlier and failed LTTE didnt came out of its seperation closet. Then what are u asking to drag this war for another 100 years? [Edited out]

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    The problem is the denial by the Sinhala majority the right to self determination of the Tamil People. Not Devolution of Power or the LTTE. The Tamils have worn the colonial yoke of the three western powers, like the Sinhalese did. When we removed the last yoke, the Sinhalese put on their colonial yoke on the Tamils. All what the Tamils are doing is to get rid of that colonial yoke once again. Not trying to destroy SL. Divide and rule will work for a short time but not for long. If it will take a 100 years to remove that yoke, so be it, says the Tamils. If the Sinhalese leaders and voters realise this fact tomorrow, there will be peace tomorrow and both communities can live in peace.

  • Punitham

    Double D? Denial of Devolution.
    Why do people refuse to think even now?
    Please learn to distinguish between cause and effect, Srilankan.
    When you remove the cause the effect disappears. Successive Sinhalese governments have been trying to remove the effect and not tackle the cause.
    This has been repeated a hundred times in this site. I had better shut up.

  • Suren Raghavan

    Boralla has much ethnography. Ward place connects ‘Cotta’ Rd. A strong Malayalee locality in the 40s and 50s. The LSSP office and all other by-lane (most of which are renamed) were where many mid level trade union leaders lived. My grandpa, Shankaran Nair one time confidant of late Peter Kenneman owned a property that was ‘acquired’ by the friendly sahodarayas whose worker right he often fought for after the 1956-58 anti Tamil riots. The small laundry under the cherry tree, at the upper section of the ward place (opposite to the ‘Vihara’) is a remaining Malayalee ownership.
    A research of the history of ownership of lands around will reveal the near Nazi nationalism in the post independent history of SL. In addition, it could be a research agenda for real geo-anthropology that the modern nationalist try to berry.

  • SRILANKAN

    To Ediriveerasingham..
    There is no colonial york put on the Tamils by Sinhalese. It is a mentality created by Tamils due to their high cast mentality statring with G.G. Ponnabalm who doesent want to live with Sinhalese even before we got our so called indipendence from Britain. Ponnabalam threat to burn Mahawamsa and destroy Sihelese by bringing Tamils from TamilNadu. (read Nawalapitiya speach of Ponnabalam) Ponnabalm’s high caste problem doesen’t allowed to live with or under Sinhalese. Any one who talk about Tamil rights should admit their mistake first and then start to talk about Rights. LTTE should be destroied because it will not allow Tamil leaders who wants to Unite the country with Sinhalese. Till then there is no point talking about this.

  • Bala

    Sri Lankan
    I would love to see that speech by G.G.P if you can send a link to that. Without even listen that speech I could tell you that words have been taken out of context. But in case if he would have said that the way you meant it, I could only imagine the confidence he had on fellow Tamils from Tamil Nadu as the present day Tamilnadu leaders are only doing the lip service when ever they feel the need arouse for their self interest.
    As for your imagination destroying LTTE militarily so the other so called Tamil leaders can re unite the country, hang tight and keep dreaming with Mahinda Chintaniya. We Tamils never said we can’t unite, all we said was we can’t live together but we can unite as two nation for the common good of future generation socially and economically.

  • SRILANKAN

    To Bala
    Go to National Archives check news papers since 1939 there are lots of reports on that speach. This is the speach planted seperatism seeds in Tamil minds and create hate in Sinhala minds. Ponnabalam who was a Oxford educated high caste Tamil was scared if the donmore commission grant universal franchise. Tamil Upper caste would loose their upper hand in Sri Lankan politics. He oppose universal franchise and then he made this speach to make sure he is the ulitimate Tamillian (like Prabakaran today)on the minds of Tamils. In other words he made sure he will win in every election from Tamil votes. Then Sinhalese made their devil (Bandaranayake) to answer GGP. Rest is the history.(Check this link http://www.hrblogonsrilanka.bravejournal.com/entry/25683 )
    With regards to your other comments, You are free to do anything as far as you are a sri lankan and not a terrorist. You are not special but equal as other citizens in the country but the problem is you are expecting special treatment because you are a Tamil. That is wrong.
    If you don’t know until recently everything happend in Colombo only. That is why we had 2 rebellions in South. That is why devolution is a good answer to SL. (Even though stupid JVP doesent understand that) but seperatism doesen’t make sence.
    I hope you will understand that I Have nothing to do with any Chintanaya.

  • SRILANKAN

    One other thing Bala.
    Tamilnadu tamils think as Indians not as Tamils that is why you guys don’t get much support there.

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    Mr. or Ms Srilankan, You see how you have spelt my name, “Ediri…” If you look at my name you will see that it starts with “Ethirv…” “Ediri” is the beginning of a Sinhala name. You are even unable to PERCEIVE a Tamil name when you SEE one. You see, your discrimination is instilled in your sub-concious that you deny my Tamilness. You are right, there is no point talking to you.

  • SRILANKAN

    Ediri
    In the same way Tamils pronounce Sinhala names. Sinhalese also can take issue with the way Tamils prnounce Sinhala names but we don’t do that EDri we take it very easy and make Joke out of it (Ex. Sargent Nalla Thambi) There is no sub-Concious there. Thats is how phonotics work.
    Problem is since GGP create that mind set in your head Tamils tried to seperate from mainstreem. Tamils tried to breakaway from us and those who tried to join the mainstream were considered as Traiters (Kadiragarmer). You guys isolated in COMMUNAL poliyics. Dont blame Sinhalese for not giving optunity you guys shy away from that.
    I cant belive I am still talking to you EDIRI.. 🙂

  • Bala

    Terrorist ech!!!!
    For you LTTE is terrorist because they terrorize your people, for me they are freedom fighters because when Sinhalese terrorized us they put a stop to it by terrorizing the same people who start terror on us. I think Sri Lanka will be a better place when Sinhalese at least start to think why Tamils do not want live with them and support LTTE. It is news to me G.G.P was the creator of all this problems in Sri Lanka also it is amazing that a single individual has this much power to create this much problem with one speech and he was Tamil. I don’t know if this is a good thing Sri Lankan, you guys start to hate me because of some guys speech we Tamils never done that to you guys even though every person you guys elect wants to eradicate Tamils and make Tamils free Sri Lanka. GIVE ME A BREAK.

  • alankara sri

    Sri Lankan
    Clearly we know what you dream _ NAZI _LANKA!!!!!!

  • SRILANKAN

    Why you guys get so mad when you guys here the truth. Problem is when so called educated lunatics talks about Sri Lanka’s national problem. They start the conversation from Sinhala Only Act. But no one start to talk about what made Bandaranayake to bring that.! It is because he took GGP’s threat very seriously. That is why we are here today. So if we revers this journey Tamils has to accept that they had created this minority mania in their heads since GGP and they continue through Chelva and today Praba. And the main thing is GGP create this mania because he was afraid he and his Oxford graduate high caste tamil elites loose there caste hiracy if Universal franchise would be implimented. In other word after having so much fun with British Tamil elites were afraid that they will be a minority. So his private problem became national problem. So today’s seperatists like Bala, Ediri continue to eat this sugar coated toxic to the end of their race. Carry on Ediri, And Bala there is a good match for you on Sinhala side.

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    Sri Lankan,
    I also don’t know why I am talking to you. I guess because you are a human being. Below is my last post to you. Read your Ceylon political history at least from 1909 to understand why Tamils want to govern ourselves. May be the quotes from J. S. Mills below will help you understand your problems. If you don’t I am sorry I can’t help you.

    John Stuart Mill writing in 1861 on the subject, “Of nationality as connected with Representative Government,” foresaw the problems similar to that Sri Lanka has faced since 1948. He said that,

    “A portion of mankind may be said to constitute a nationality if they are united among themselves by common sympathies which does not exist between them and any others – which make them co-operate with each other more willingly than with other people, desire to be under the same government, and desire that it should be government by themselves, or a portion of themselves, exclusively. This feeling of nationality may have been generated by various causes. Sometimes it is the effect of identity of race and descent. community of language and community of religion greatly contribute to it. Geographical limits are one of its causes. But the strongest of all is identity of political antecedents; the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections; collective pride and humiliation; pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past.”

    Mill’s writing on the subject is so relevant to the Sri Lanka situation that quoting him at length is paramount to the understanding of the present problems. He continues to state that,

    “Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is a prima facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart. This is merely saying that the question of government ought to be decided by the governed. One hardly knows what any division of the human race should be free to do if not to determine which of the various collective bodies of human beings they choose to associate themselves. But, when a people are ripe for free institutions, there is still a more vital consideration. Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of a different nationalities. Among a people without fellow feeling , especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion necessary to the working of a representative government cannot exist. The influences which form opinions and decide political acts are different in the different sections of the country. An altogether different set of leaders have the confidence of one part of the country and of another. The same books, newspapers, pamphlets, speeches, do not reach them. One section does not know what opinions or what instigations are circulating in another. The strength of none is sufficient to resist alone, and each may reasonably think that it consults its own advantage most by bidding for the favour of the government against the rest…”

    Mill on how an army composed of one nationality that occupies areas of population of another nationality would behave.

    “Above all, the grand and only reliable security in the last resort against despotism of the government is in that case wanting – the sympathy of the army with the people. … To the rest of the people foreigners are merely strangers; to the soldier, they are men against whom he may be called, at a week’s notice, to fight for life or death… Soldiers to whose feelings half or three fourths of the subjects of the same government are foreigners, will have no more scruple in mowing them down, and no more desire to ask the reason why, than they would in doing the same thing against declared enemies. ”

    Here is also what S.J.V. Chelvanayagam said:
    “I am seventy-seven years old now and even in this old age I am fighting for the liberation of the Tamils because I am aware of the dangers that are lurking for the Tamil community in the Eastern Province. There is no other alternative for the Tamils to live with self-respect other than fight to the end for a Tamil Nad. ” [i.e. a Tamil State].
    (11 May 1975 in a speech in Batticaloa.)

    “We have abandoned the demand for a federal constitution. Our movement will be all non-violent . . . We know that the Sinhalese people will one day grant our demand and that we will be able to establish a state separate from the rest of the island …”
    (19 November 1976 in Parliament)
    (Both quotes are in, A. Jeyaratnam Wilson. S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947 – 1977.)

  • Rio

    To Mr Ediriveerasingham and others, trying to explain facts to folks like SRI LANKAN is like pouring water on a duck’s back…they just dont get it. It’s pretty obvious they’re in that majority mind set and more obvious they dont know their political history!!! Maybe they’re quoting from JHU speeches!!! I wonder what SRI Lankan thinks of the way the Sinhalese have treated th Veddha community…..
    And yeah, I think this guy SRI LANKAN is after a Nazi Lanka too!!

  • SRILANKAN

    To Ediri.. and other Race minded intelectuals..
    Finally it is my chance to speak I guess. Mills quotations are well matched for a mind filled with COMMUNAL B.S. In fact they are out dated by it self; because there are no such nations with One ethnicity or same race exists any more.

    There are more new methods and ways practiced in the world after Mill. If you stuck with MIll you better go back to 18th Centuary my friends. If you don’t know there are new methods used in this world in this century one of them is called MULTI CULTURIRISM (EX. CANADA ), and another one called Devolution of POWER (EX. INDIA) and also there are so many other examples.

    If MIll is right you have an another problem my friends that is the huge caste problem within Tamil society. You guys treat your low castes very badly my friends. Even in a war situation they cannot co-exit . You May need several other countries or new methods to solve that Ex. Wellala country, Karayar Country, Toddy Tapping Country etc.

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    Goodbye Sri Lankan. You obviously don’t know the political structure of Canada or about the linguistic states of India. [Edited out]

  • Bala

    Hi Sri Lankan
    Let me take a shot at this again, even though I been warned it’s like pouring water on duck’s back.
    When I grow up in Point Pedro, used to run away when I see a police man, just with baton, coming on the bike to issue summons. Now you see our brothers and sisters strap the bomb and kill you’s even with all the modern arms your army can have. Have you ever wondered why? Why Tamil changed so much within the short period of time? Because the suffering they went through in the hand of Sinhalese was unbearable and they didn’t want their grand children to go through this. Of course LTTE uses violence. What else you expect when you through a stone from glass house. How else Sinhalese wants to wipe out Tamils from SL.I hope Sinhalese are not expecting the LTTE to do mass fasting for the mercy of Sri Lankan state.

    My father was a civil servant worked in Sinhalese areas, in 1956, 1977 and 1983 literally ran home to point Pedro with the cloths he was wearing. I know!!! I know! You are going to tell me Sinhalese were mad of G.G.P that’s why they done this. I say screw you. I want every one of you’s to experience what my father went through or leave us alone on our own ways. Choice is yours. Sinhalese understand only one language, if you say sinhalam or sinhala, wrong answer! The right answer is “violence”. Got it. Get it.

  • sham

    well lets see what time brings – earlier the tide was out but now the tide seems to be turning. – hopefully if the SL army goes close to Wanni, there wont be any cry for a peace talk at that time…

    lets see bala

  • SRILANKAN

    Well Ediri..
    I am experiencing Canadian MULTI CULTURERISM and know very well about Indian Devolution.
    BALA
    Sorry about your father’s experience but ask your father there may be a SINHALESE family behind him to protect him and to make sure he was commimg home to you in P.P. This is what I was telling you guys from the beginning when GGP open the bottle and the GENIE went out. Hate among communities were spread. I know you guys chased out SINHALESE and MUSLIMS from NORTH. BUT what you practicing is not the answer. What you pratcing is the theary praticed by HITLER. No sinhalese ever said he or she wants to make shoes out of SINHALESE skins. A Tamil politician said that my friends. PURE ETHNIC TAMIL country…..Oh man …that is why HITLER starts to kill JEWS because he cannot co-exist with other races.
    I am telling you my friends because of you numness to outer world and living in a own Tamil GETTO all the time your mind is closed. That is why my Tamil friends living in CANADA or UK still want “DANTA MUKTA” to brush teeth. I don’t think you got it!!. THEY CANT CHANGE my friends. See my friends Charles Darwin have the answer for that, he said in plain English. IF THE ANIMAL CANNOT CHANGE ACCORDING TO THE NATURE THAT ANIMAL IS GOING TO VANISH FROM EARTH. That is what happening to you guys. Unfortunatly You guys are helping PRABA to do that. OPEN UP my friends.

  • SRILANKAN

    WEll Ediri.
    I am experiencing Canadian MULTI CULTURERISM and know very well about Indian system.

    BALA
    Sorry to hear about your Father’s experience, But ask your father there may be a Sinhalese Family behind him to protect him and let him go safely to P.P. That is wht I was sying from the beginning my friends. When GGP open the bottle and let the GENIE out. Hate was created among us.
    But wht you are doing is not right. You are practising the same theary praticed by HITLER. “PURE TAMIL ETHNIC STATE” Oh man this is same like Hitler he killed JEWS because he cannot co-exist with them. You are doing the same my friends.
    Problem with you guys is you guys is you are not open to the world. Always like to live in a Tamil only GETTO. That is why my Tamil friends in Canada and UK always wants “DANTA_MUKTA” to brush teeth. Hope you get that. In other word you guys cannot adupt to a society with other ethnicities. There is a good theary for that as CHARLS DARWIN said ” IF THE ANIMAL CANNOT CHANGE ACCORDING TO THA NATURE THAT ANIMAL IS GOING TO VANISH FROM THIS EARTH” That is wht happening to you guys my friends. Unfortunatly you guys dont know it and helping PRABA to do that.

  • Bala

    Sri Lankan,

    If your experiencing the Canada see if you can get out and see Quebec that might help, if your are willing, you to change the way you think about Tamil problem in SL. Watch and learn how the rest of the Canadian treat francophone, so they want feel left out and feel like they are part of proud French Canadian. Even though I like the Canadian way, the last referendum, Canada basically bought the referendum with immigrant votes as I understands. To understand the Canadian way YOU should be an open minded person, so may be, just maybe you could learn and change the way you treat others. In your case seems like you have already made up your mind therefore I don’t know how much you can pick up.

    Regarding my father, it’s so amazing your mentality, for that matter 99% of the Sinhalese mentality is “yeah, we did it but at least we let you go home alive with the help of some Sinhalese”. [Edited out] What happen to my father compare with other Tamils is nothing, as there are thousands of Tamils suffered in Sinhalese areas didn’t even bothers to report it. Sinhalese should consider themselves lucky because LTTE is a well discipline organization they only go for the military targets and obey the orders from the superiors unlike the animals from SL forces who take cover with civilians and kill, rape and loot the property of Tamils.

  • “Sinhalese should consider themselves lucky because LTTE is a well discipline organization they only go for the military targets and obey the orders from the superiors unlike the animals from SL forces who take cover with civilians and kill, rape and loot the property of Tamils.”

    Dear Bala, with respect, you will find that the historical evidence to support that statement on the LTTE is not just sorely lacking, but completely contrary to your submission.

    Best,

    Sanjana

  • To Bala, Ethiriveerasingam, and the others who say that the Sinhalese understand only violence and can be beaten only by violence, I say if that is your argument, you lose either way. If violence is your only weapon, then it means you’ve been bested at diplomacy and negotiation. And now it looks like you’re being bested at violence too.

    Bala, you say that you want the Sinhalese to experience what your father did, but they aren’t. It is still the Tamils who are suffering after thirty years of failure by the LTTE to live up to their promises.

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    To Daavidu Plakkarr,
    Thanks for the advice. May be Tamils should go back to Satyagraha. That might work the second time around.

  • Exiled

    Until we Tamils wake up from the illusion that Prabhakaran is our sole emancipator, we will NEVER be emancipated! We need a Martin Luther King Jr., we need a revolution without VIOLENCE…[Edited out]

  • Bala

    [Edited out – Please desist from personal insults and focus on the issues brought out in the post] Martin Luther king is only good for civilized human beings not for animals who kill the parliamentarians who have been elected by citizens of SL.

    David,[Edited out – Please desist from personal insults and focus on the issues brought out in the post]. 1995 when LTTE retreat to wanni for tactical reasons there were people bragged they want to shake hands with Praba. As you know we Tamils forcefully took the bragging rights from Sinhalese with taking back all the territory in wanni within days which took SL army months and elephant pass.

    Sanjana ,the historical evidence your are mentioning was gathered by who? LTTE was a scapegoat for things that have been done by others. In Katunayaka airport they could have killed hundreds if they really wanted to.

  • Bala

    What! Revolution without violence in Sri Lanka. Exiled I need some of that stuff you been smoking. Prabaharan is the one and only leader not only Tamils in Ealam all over the world. We need some one who does ounce of work than kilo of talk. Talk is chep.

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    Exiled,
    Ghandhi, Martin Luther King Jr had a majority of enlightened opponents who understood them. Also a Subash Chandra Bose was the alternative the British faced. Let us not forget the riots in cities across the US by African Americans in the fifties to seventies that American faced. Chelvanayagam had to deal with a majority of Sinhala-Buddhist opponents whose ideas of Tamil rights is public knowledge which need not be repeated ad infinitum. Hence the failure of dialogue in Sri Lanka.

    Now, dialogue and militarism have reached an impasse. Wishing for a Martin Luther King Jr or my wishing for a satyagraha campaign is not going to restore our Rights.
    It is common knowledge what will happen to Tamil’s rights if Sri Lanka controls all of the NorthEast which Tamils call Tamil Eelam. Can you name a Buddhist Priest or a Christian Priest who will campaign aggressively across the country for Tamil Rights. They will all issue statements and public condemnation of HR. Hindu Priests stay with their Temples and religious duties at weddings and deaths. Rightly so. While I dream of a non-violent resolution of our conflict I am not naive enough to pretend that a MLK will rise up to solve the problem. If one tries, he will end up in the TID or disappear.

  • Exiled

    Bala, when you say ‘Prabaharan is the one and only leader not only Tamils in Ealam all over the world’ you are speaking for yourself and a part of those who are blinded by the lust for ‘Liberation-Tamil Eelam’. I belong to the few Tamils who detest what this Great Prabhakaran is up to and in your terms a ‘traitor’ and exiled at that. You are talking about ‘work’, please tell me whether you are willing to fight in the frontlines for the Tamil cause and whether you are willing to send your children as child soldiers? The people who are forced to fight YOUR war are the innocent youth and children who are paralysed by fear and hopelessness.

    Ethiriveerasingham, I agree when you say a possible MLK may quite likely disappear but this cannot be an excuse for us to resort to violence. The history of our civil conflict has quite clearly highlighted that this is not getting us anywhere, likewise all these peace talks are also getting us nowhere. This is why I feel that the masses should get their act together without waiting for ‘leaders’ to lead them. We need such a revolution and we as Tamils owe this to our future generation, we need to get out of this quicksand situ that is destroying us over and over again….but for this to happen we must realise that Prabhakaran is quite clearly not our emancipator….

  • Bala & Ethiriveerasingham, I see by your resorting to personal attacks that it’s not surprising you condone violence as the only way to get what you want. Negotiation is much harder if you don’t have the maturity for it.

    There’s a saying that a sign of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly but expect a different result each time. Violence and sathyagraha has failed. try something new.

    Ethiri, your “good ol’ days” stories of ’95 are useless now. The battlefield and the war have changed, and while strategy never changes, tactics always do. As any soldier will tell you, to fight the last war is to lose the next. Just as the LTTE has had its victories, it has had its defeats. I was at EPS in ’91 when my comrades and I kicked your arses back to Jaffna with over 800 dead. The Tigers learned their lesson and changed their strategy. Using ’95 and other past battles as ammunition is for old men with limp guns.

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    It has been an experience exchanging views on “groundviews” with other readers. Adios Amigos.

  • Bala

    Yep, typical Sri Lankan fashion, blame it on others. Reading back the comments on this article I can’t find any one being attacked personally except Davidu’s comments about Mr.Ethirveerasingam. [Edited out]

  • Exiled

    eh Bala, ‘Edited out’ means that the moderator has removed certain parts of the comment out, and, looking at the comments that he has placed in its stead its quite clear that personal attacks have been levied by Ethiriveerasingam. Having said this, I feel that David’s comments about ‘kicking your arses back to Jaffna’ rather unwarranted since the army itself is a despicable and mercenary force and cannot claim such ‘victories’ with pride.

    The government, its forces and the LTTE all stand equally when it comes being mercenary and despotic.

  • Exiled

    Also Bala, I was keen and seeing what you had to say about the questions I posed to you on my comment dated March 19….

  • Bala

    Exiled,
    Even though we are way off the topic where we have started from I would like to remind you some thing. I don’t know which part of Sri Lanka you from but if you are from the areas that belongs to Tamils, you know very well every single Tamil have some family members have joined the freedom struggle. Today the Tamils in Jaffna rather go to vanni and join the LTTE than live a life of fear and intimidation if they given the freedom to choose. There are reasons why you are against LTTE and why I support the LTTE as my sole representative. I will be the first person to admit LTTE also had made mistakes but when organization like this trying to survive and fight for their people against an enemy who fool the international community by putting up an excellent show and receive considerable military and financial support, mistakes are bound to happen for various reasons. Take Singapore as example, the reason Singapore is so prosperous today is the iron fist control Lee Kwan had when Singapore was a young country which is what going on Ealam today. To answer to your March 19 post “yes, been there ,done that ,doing it”.

    Do you honestly believe after witnessing last 2 years how many Tamils have been kidnapped , tortured and killed without any regards we Tamils could get any fair treatment from Sinhalese.

  • Exiled

    It is true that we are way off the specific focus of the article. Nevertheless, when talking about ‘relatives’ who are fighting for the ‘freedom struggle’ one must not forget the circumstances that make them or force them to do so i.e. the countless number of child soldiers who truly do not know what they are fighting for. I am glad, if as you claim, been in the front lines. I am not for one minute condoning what the government is up to. If the LTTE is violating HR illegally the GoSL is doing so within a so called ‘legal-democratic’ framework. Nevertheless it is an undeniable fact that the LTTE is killing its own kind, not only the ‘critical voices’ but even innocent Tamils who really don’t have a political leaning as such, given the fact that are not sure when their next meal is going to be. To fight for a peoples rights is one thing but to annihilate its own kind in doing so really defeats the purpose of the fight.

  • “I feel that David’s comments about ‘kicking your arses back to Jaffna’ rather unwarranted since the army itself is a despicable and mercenary force and cannot claim such ‘victories’ with pride.”

    Exiled, I won’t really comment on your misunderstanding of the word ‘mercenary’ as that is itself a subject even further off topic, but if you’re interested, I have given a suggestion on how the GoSL could in fact make its military truly a commercial enterprise on my blog (http://blacklightarrow.wordpress.com/2008/01/16/privatisation-loyalty-in-the-war-on-terror/). However, as to the issue of pride, you may rest assured that those of us who are (and have served) in the SL military, do claim our victories with a great deal of pride. As do our fighting brothers on the other side of the line, who hold not just our hatred but our respect, and who don’t need to ‘Tamilize’ a bullet to make it strike home, unlike Ethiri above, who seems unable to converse with anyone who doesn’t have a Tamil name.

  • Exiled

    David, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the meaning of mercenary is ‘one that serves merely for wages’. I just wanted the record straight and to clarify that I have NOT misunderstood the term. Also, to move beyond the confines of the meaning to a different level, I must state that all those ‘high-ranking’ officers of the forces have a bit more than wages in mind, they are intoxicated by the power that comes with it. But for those who go to the front lines in terms of the armed forces it is quite clearly for wages. All the desperate Sinhalese youth of our country do this as a way of ensuring that their families get food on their plates. It’s their last shot at surviving the economic hardships they face. They are ‘mercenaries’ in a sad sense of the word, but the loneliness that paralyzes their senses and the bleakness and futility of their surroundings push them into committing some heinous crimes against humanity. David, this is an undeniable fact.

  • Exiled, it seems then that your misunderstanding is of the SL armed forces and its members.

    Your pseudo-psychoanalysis of the motives behind a recruit’s motives is laughable. Worse, it’s condescending and ignorant, because it shows a lack of awareness concerning the demographic that enlists primarily as ‘other ranks’ in the Army, but also in the Navy and Air Force. Perhaps you can enlighten us on the research on which your premise is based.

    Before that, however, let me give you some food for thought that you could perhaps digest and then research your premise further. In a population where the largest demographic is rural, poor, and largely disenfranchised by language, it is logical that this segment will be reflected in most large employee-bodies such as the armed forces. It is also true of other government bodies. Therefore it is incorrect to say that the armed forces are the refuge of those with no other options. You might just as well say that the Railway is a mercenary organisation, or that government teachers and nurses are just in it for the wages. Perhaps they are, but if so, then your definition of mercenary as being a separate and distinct segment no longer rings true.

    Lastly, (and I admit that there is no widespread statistical evidence available to back this, but only my own experience as a soldier in the SL Army), there is a concerted effort to give the public the impression you yourself hold. I have related this incident in the past, but let me repeat it again for your benefit. At the end of basic training, SL Army recruits are ordered to fill out various MoD forms for insurance, career preferences, etc. One of these documents has a query loosely translated as “reason for enlistment”, and you would be surprised at the spectrum of reasons given by recruits, ranging from “I like the uniform” to “I want to kill Tigers” to “My brother was killed in the NE” etc. The recruits are given pencils to fill these forms with (not pens) so that the instructors can then peruse the completed forms and order any corrections they see fit. Every single entry to the above question (in my platoon of forty recruits) was changed to “Unemployed”. Every single one. The same went for the other training platoon in my battalion, and several others in the other three regular battalions of my regiment. I’m assuming it was the same throughout that batch. Each battalion had two training platoons, and since there were four regular battalions that made 320 men. Whether this was true throughout the Army I can’t verify, but it at least goes to show that the stats are being cooked.

    Maybe you can also meditate on why the MoD is conspiring to do this.