A first hand perspective of Sri Lanka’s largest IDP camp: Are they really ‘our people’?

This is an interview in English secured by Vikalpa with a Sri Lankan Tamil who had visited his family at the “Ramanathan Transitional Relief Village” in May. His family is amongst 260,000+ other IDPs interned in Menik Camp.

In an interview conducted before the recent flooding, the speaker records the inhuman conditions and indignity IDPs have to face in these camps. Pointing to the irony of calling them ‘relief centres’, the speaker notes that with upto 19 persons having to share a single tent, hours of queing for drinking water and to use toilets, what they are in fact are detention centres.

“The President of Sri Lanka, Hon. Mahinda Rajapakse says these people are his own citizens, but how they treat these people you can’t believe” the speaker notes at the end.

  • Suchith

    ‘ve spent four days at these camps volunteering myself.

    There is definitely a scarcity of water and this is difficult especially for those who used to have their own wells and abundant water to use. There are buckets kept in a roped line in front of the taps all the time so that when water supply is available they can fill these buckets.

    At the same time there wasnt a single line formed in front of the toilettes that I observed in any of the four days I was there. Inquiring further found that people are more used to open toilettes and use the open fields for this purpose more than facilities provided. So I would contradict what’s mentioned on that and point out that its essential we look at helping the people understanding their local context much better.

    I’m a bit confused as to why I didn’t see long lines at all for toilettes and the person interviewed did. If you could please shed more light on this.

    Thanks!

  • http://www.groundviews.org groundviews

    Dear Suchith,

    I’ve emailed the interviewee your response and hope he responds soon.

    Sanjana

  • punitham

    We’ve been hearing stories that they are very dangerous and people esp. children have fallen in and couldn’t be retrieved. Deathrines and NOT latrines.

  • punitham

    We all dread to go to unclean latrines.
    We’d do anything to avoid them, including foregoing drinks and food for a while.
    Any need to talk about dangerous latrines?
    Absence of lines tells it all.

  • Nilanthan

    “At the same time there wasnt a single line formed in front of the toilettes that I observed in any of the four days I was there. Inquiring further found that people are more used to open toilettes and use the open fields for this purpose more than facilities provided. So I would contradict what’s mentioned on that and point out that its essential we look at helping the people understanding their local context much better.”

    You don’t need to be an expert in “queuing theory” to understand that there would be queues for toilets. If you count the number of toilets and no of people live there, you will know it. If you are in doubt, got to a public toilet in Colombo in the morning. (I think that you can find plenty in Slave Island)

    As far as I’m told, people in those internment camps use the toilets after mid night, to avoid embarrassment.

  • Nilanthan

    You will find more in these pictures:
    http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/57…7SaRmIH?start=0

  • dayanjohn

    Come on guys,

    Look, what have the innocent people (at least 240.000 persons) done to deserve these conditions. Anyone who has spent at least a day in a governmetn hospital will know the horror, of the toilets. These people may be poor, but they deserve basic human dignity. It is not difficult to imagine children living and playing in floating excreta after the floods. When the ground was cleared drainage was not considered. Can any of us think of living in these conditions ? think of you wife, mother father, little children you love so much, will you like to see them facing these conditions. It must be hell, nothing less. So please dig deep into your conscience and see if you can justify this. If you can ……….. I will be surprised. Please think about it , try to change the minds of our rulers, at least by discussing this issue with your friends and family.

    God bless our Sri Lanka

  • smoulderingjin

    Visiting relatives talk to their people across the barbed wire fence. They are given 15 mts, or the most 30mts if lucky.

    The only other place that this kind of visiting “ritual” is followed is in prison.

    Why the farcical use of language in this situation in calling these Welfare camps, and calling these people IDPs?

    Why does the govt not say it out right?
    These are detention camps, guarded by a large contingent of armed military guards for the purposes of the internment of 280000 suspected terrorists.

    That way at least we have a level of honesty.

    But then honesty and integerity are fossilised concepts in the nation, so we cannot expect leaders to know its currency,

    • Unable to Qte

      Treatment to the minority Tamils are proved.

  • Asitha

    We all know how the Sooriya Thevan herded from Jaffna across the lagoons to the jungles in the Vanni for five years and then started shooting them down when they started to escape the Sooriya Thevan camps. VP called them his people. Now at least MR has given these people good living accomodation albeit temporary until their traditional homes are demined and made safe for their return. Let the IDPs decide who is the better leader and caretaker for their safety and security and not some visitor with a hidden agenda pandering to the agenda of certain media.

  • PeaceLanka

    Surely not only for IDPs in srilanka, many those who living in rural villages in srilanka have no proper toilets or sanitary conditions. Whoever before going to criticise the conditions in those particular IDP camps, one shoudl keep it remember that srilanka is not in developed world. These srilankens have kept in camps for their safe and the safe of others too. How many of Ltte terrorists can be among them to go against normal civilians, if they just set free wihtout going through and proper screening. It is for their future safe, these people should further be in those IDP village. Clearence of mining and other screening programs should be finished before these innocient people (srilankens)who had once been under the clutches of most rythless terrorists, are given the access to their own homes or the areas where they had been then. Why not tamil diasphora join with demining and screening programs in order to speed up setting free them, is what I ask. Millions of dollars were spent at that time for war against SLA, today they can help their own communities by spending the same or more milions also alleviating poverty in those regions.

  • dayanjohn

    Dear Asitha & Peace lanka,

    How can it be fo thier own good. For them to decide who is better VP pr MR. They need to be outsice the barbwire not inside. Many of them have relatives in Colombo , Kandy and other parts of the island. Yes. as you say let them decide. Let us or the diaspora decide. set the people other than the suspects free. Let them decide with freedom.
    PLEASE REPLY, THAT IS, IF YOU HAVE A REPLY.

  • http://panhinda-samaga.blogspot.com Migara

    @ Asitha and Peace Lanka

    Fully agreed. When they compare conditions at IDP’s they should have a look at line homes at Nuwara Eliya or slums in Mattakkuliya for a better comparison.

  • http://NA PeaceLove

    Mr. PeaceLanka,

    Why those landmines did not explode while those people crossing the areas? Are those people brought up to camps by MR helicopters? How come they were able to cross the areas without caught up in the landmines? Now clear that who is burying the landmines in those areas in order to grape money from International Community? Isn’t that clear that MR is using Eelam Tamils as shields to secure his wealthy by using aid moneys? One last question, how come those human shields (civilians protected by MR?) turn to be terrorists to him and his country? You also grew up in that way….anyway you don’t see the difference and I am not surprised.

  • Lanka

    These people might be LTTE, they cannot just be allowed to leave the camps or we will have another terrorist problem. Sri Lanka is on the road to recovery, we should concentrate on the positives that the government has done.

  • smoulderingjin

    300000 women, infants, elderly, as well children – all LTTE?

    This nation is not only paranoid to the extent that it is willing to sacrifice 3 lakhs of people on the possibilities that present suspicions might some day be confrimed and some of the interned people will be found to have LTTE affiliations,
    but
    It is also indifferent to the fact that this kind of incarceration and suffering will never reconcile the nation.

    I am curious about the fact that was raised earlier on this forum – why are these people not concerned about the terrorists and murderers that roam the streets among us in the South. It is far more likely that people will be killed by Sinhalese bigots in the South, than an LTTE cadre.

    What the nation does not realise that we have our own locally bred terrorists in the South roaming freely on the streets, creating their own enclaves and laws. They are creating a reign of terror under a leader no less ruthless, conscienceless, unprincipled and selfish than Pirabaharan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NoEalamInSL NoEalamInSL

    These cannibal Tamil tigers together with EU wanted war crime charges againt GOSL. Shame on them for accusing a democratic government for protecting civilians from the cannibal terrorists.

    Now 10,000 hardcore cannibals left in the IDP camps, pro-tigers want to evacuate them to continue LTTE barberism. Croc tears and cries from pro-tiger-sympathizers are not for Innocent Tamils but for terrorists to continues civilian slaughtering.

    They keep criticising GOSL knowing it successfull eliminated terrorism. Sri Lanka, the only country free from terror!

    Most of these posts are from Asylum Seekers from Toronto, they have nothing but keep posting, wasting our time!

  • smoulderingjin

    “Sri Lanka the only country free from terror”??
    And the people on the forum are Asylum seekers from Toronto???

    I think we are living in parallel universes – that is the only explanation ;)

  • JustMal

    Good point. If these people are used to defecating out in the open, what’s the point of arguing about toilets. The question is, do we really want them out of the camps and defecating left and right in our streets? Have we not forgotten the great defecation march by Thondaman’s plantation goondahs in 2000 in the Kotte suburbs? Would we want them to apply for asylum in Canada and then go and defecate in the University Avenue in Toronto in protest?

    Sadly, the answer is no and that’s why they would be kept in the camps until they learn proper toilet manners.

  • SomeOne

    Dear “NoEalamInSL”,

    After I read your comment between lines, it appears to me that you are applying human shield concept to this IDP camps too. When is this going to be over? You said that you have been in this situation in late 80′s. I was there when it was happening. You have every right to be angry.

    We shouldn’t let this anger burn us down. Show some compassion towards the suffering people. No one has the right to chase any one from their place where they born and no one has the right to hold the people against their will either. In that context, I put both VP and MR in the same bin.

    Probably, when you cool down you will begin to see the world differently. I believe that nothing will go past “GOD’s will”.

    NB: Those days (in 80s) we haven’t had this sort of communication medium. Now people have this and people are writing.

  • undergroundview

    Noealaminsl and Migara:

    You seem to have a very patronising view of Tamils from the North. Do you imagine that toilets are completely unknown outside of Colombo? Or is it just Tamils who wouldn’t appreciate and shouldn’t expect proper plumbing?

    WHY should you expect people to be happy to be detained in camps with no proper washing or toilet facilities – whether or not the toilets are flooding?

    But the plumbing is really not the core issue (though it shows a telling lack of concern for that part of the “one nation”). The central issue is to what extent can the rights of hundreds of thousands of citizens be removed, because some of them are suspected of being in league with the Tigers.

    That was the question when the Army had to decide whether to shell the Tigers’ human shields, and it is the question now, when hundreds of thousands of people are receiving collective punishment for the potential acts of a few escaped fighters with no resources.

  • Kumari

    Some comments show there is too much brain washing by state terrorists that the average sinhala brain stopped working. Read Asitha’s comments for example. Asitha must unlearn whatever was forced down his/her throat and start THINKING. It was not “Sooriya Thevan” who herded Tamils, it was your military who did that from village to village. Under the rule of “Sooriya thevan”, before your military entered, Tamils lived in their homes in their villages and were reasonably well off. Under the command of “Sri Rohana Janaranjana” , the same people live in IDP camps under horrible conditions – Many are disabled, with missing body parts, have lost their families and friends, and living under acute food and water shortage, under unsanitary conditions. If this is termed as Hostge rescue and GOOD LIVING CONDITION, Asitha should go to IDP camps and spend a few weeks for relaxation and leisure !!! The brain washed Sinhalas have assumed that the rest of mankind is stupid too, just like them.

  • Mayavi

    Lanka! I have the same feelings too, about the southern sinhalas. There are too many state terrorists and supporters of state terrorists among the sinhalas. Why don’t we bomb the hell out of them and lock them in all concentraion camps until we can weed out all the coolies of terrorist MR?? That will guarantee speedy recovery for Northern Tamils. Northern Sri Lanka was always a Tamil land, did you ever know that?? You would not have known because you depend on cindrella stories like Mahavamsa to “learn” fabricated history.

  • Kumari

    Some comments show there is too much brain washing by state terrorists that the average sinhala brain stopped working. Read Asitha’s comments for example. Asitha must unlearn whatever was forced down his/her throat and start THINKING. It was not “Sooriya Thevan” who herded Tamils, it was your military who did that from village to village. Under the rule of “Sooriya thevan”, before your military entered, Tamils lived in their homes in their villages and were reasonably well off. Under the command of “Sri Rohana Janaranjana” , the
    same people live in IDP camps under horrible conditions – Many are disable, with missing body parts, have lost their families and friends, and living under acute food and water shortage, under unsanitary conditions. If this is termed as Hostge rescue and GOOD LIVING CONDITION, Asitha should go to IDP camps and spend a few weeks for relaxation and leisure !!! The brain washed Sinhalas have assumed that the rest of mankind is stupid too.

  • myil selvan

    Dear Asitha,
    You say “let the IDPs choose who is a better leader….” Well, that’s the problem they have no choice. If they did they would not be in the camps.
    Just because VP herded those people and brutalised them, does that mean the GoSL also should do the same? Or keep them imprisoned in these camps? IF the GoSL considers itself a democratic government it should let them go! But unfortunately these are signs of a racist government.
    Asitha, if you think the camps are good will you switch with the IDPs and go and live in them?? It’s unfortunate that you are showing your racism so shamelessly. Why do you racists always try to blame visitors, foreigners, NGOs, EU……? It is outsiders who are trying to think of these IDPs as humanbeings, unlike you racists living in your convenience while others suffer and die. Go to the coastal areas of tsunami affected Sri Lanka and you will see what the NGOs have done to rebuild this pathetic, racist country you ungrateful, shameless and pathetic.., I don’t know what to say. Have some concern and try to get to the whole truth. Thank you.

  • myil selvan

    Dear PeaceLanka,
    You are right SL is NOT a Developed country, that’s why they should release the IDPs. It’s the cheaper solution!
    To answer you question more precisely, just because Sri Lanka is not in the developed world that doesn’t mean these IDPs should be treated so despicably. You don’t need to be a developed country to provide basic and decent living conditions? Anyway, this is besides the point. The point is the IDPs should be released, they are no danger to society. LTTE’s hardcore cadres have been killed or killed themselves. This is a sad excuse. Besides there are people who have been screened but still in the camps after 4 or 5 months! Why are they keeping them for so long? Why not release once screening is done?? All these are excuses. These are signs of a racist government.
    PeaceLanka, your pretense to care for the ‘safety of these innocent people’ is plain Dishonesty. Because first you say there are terrorists in the camps and then you say innocent people. If they are innocent people then RELEASE them immediately!!!!
    As for demining, this is being exaggerated. While I agree that demining needs to be done, not all areas need demining. There are places that were not demined and people from there can be resettled. How on earth did the LTTE, the people and the SL Army move from Mannar upto Pooneryn then to Kilinochchi and then all the way down to Mullaithivu if all areas were Mined??? Please don’t lie on behalf of the racist Sinhala government, Thank you.

    The Tamil diaspora tried to help by sending a ship load of medicines and other relief items to Sri Lanka. What happend? The SL Navy detained the ship and then after checking it sent it back WITHOUT UNLOADING the relief items! How then can the Tamil diaspora help when the SL government won’t let it??? This is all because of shame old ugly Racism! Kindly change your name to RacistLanka rather than PeaceLanka, because you evidently do not know what Peace is. Thank you.

  • myil selvan

    Dear Migara,
    You say you fully agree with Asitha and Peace Lanka. I’m not at all surprised. One racist agrees with another racist. That equation has been mostly true throughout history. Is this what I’m supposed to conclude????
    Your comparison to IDP camps with Nuwara Eliya line homes and slums in Mattakkuliya is unfortunate and misplaced. While I agree the conditions in line homes and slums are not at all good they come under a different discussion. What we are talking about is people being held against their will in IDP camps. They are not allowed to go anywhere, this is against the LAW of SL. This is like persecution. But people who live in slums and line homes are not being held against their will and have freedom of movement. They are free to move about. But I do agree that their poverty forces them to live in these despicable conditions. To alleviate the slums and line homes problem we as a society need to work on putting in place strutures and systems that give basic and decent living conditions and environments for all people. This we need to work through our government, if it only will listen properly to us. But don’t associate this problem with the IDPs, that’s different as I have explained above. Thank you.

  • myil selvan

    Dear Lanka,
    Why do you waste other people’s time with such rubbish?
    It is obvious to those familiar with the disgraceful situation of the IDPs that some of them are LTTE cadres and many of the people have links to LTTE cadres. That’s because every family was FORCED to give their children and adult members to the LTTE! They have been screened and are being screened. But some have been in the camps for 4 or 5 months. Why keep them there? If they have been screened why not release them?? This is simple, can’t you understand?
    No we won’t have another terrorist problem because we release these people!!We have a terrorist problem because of successive racist sinhala governments mistreating Tamil people as second class citizens. But how can I expect a racist like you to understand this?????

    You go on to state, “Sri Lanka is on the road to recovery, we should concentrate on the positives that the government has done.”
    Is SL really on the road to recovery??? Why are they asking for IMF loan, which is mainly from Western countries???
    And what are the positives of this government that we should concentrate on?? For the big majority of Sinhalese one positive would be the war. After that what????? Can you tell me what are the other POSITIVES of this government?? Racists like you waste peoples time and energy by trying to cover up your racism with utter nonsense. If you are a racist just say so!!!!!!! Thank you.

  • myil selvan

    Dear NoEalamInSL,
    Is GoSL a democratic government??? Mahinda got elected because LTTE forced Tamil people in Northeast not to Vote. Do you call that democratic???

    You go on to say, let me paraphrase, shame on those criticizing GoSL for protecting civilians from the cannibal terrorists. If GoSL was protecting civilians why is the GoSL saying that 20,000 are missing from the camps? If GoSL is protecting civilians why are people disappearing from the camps? The GoSL is not protecting but rather trying to protect itself and their sinhalese voters.
    Please don’t wast our time covering up your racist hypocrisy!

    The 10,000 or so LTTE cadres are the ones who have voluntarily surrendered. They are not hardcore. Hardcore ones have been killed or killed themselves. The ones in the camps are being rehabilitated, or so the GoSL says. Once again stop wasting are time by giving excuses to cover by your racist hypocrisy!!!!

    You go on to say “They keep criticising GOSL knowing it successfull eliminated terrorism.” Do you know what terrorism is, in the first place??? What the GoSL is doing, attacking journalists, that’s terrorism! Abducting Editors (Sudar Oli) that’s terrorism! The GoSL is Terrorism, just like LTTE!
    Sorry to say, SL not free of terror! Only for racists its free of terror. Thank you.

    Most of these posts are from Asylum Seekers from Toronto, they have nothing but keep posting, wasting our time!

  • myil selvan

    Dear No EalamInSL,
    One more thing:
    You say, ” Most of these posts are from Asylum Seekers from Toronto, they have nothing but keep posting, wasting our time!”.
    Do you mean people like Gotabhaya, Basil and Kohona??? Even Sarath Fonseka now has U.S. Green Card, what a joke! These are the people you call patriots??? Why don’t they want to stay in great Sri Lanka??? Racist Hypocrites. These guys are wasting our time, energy and our lives.
    Sri Lanka, definitely a SMALL MIRACLE! Because Army commander seeking U.S. green card while his troops are dying on the battle field. What a shame!!!!!!!!!!
    Go home racists!
    Thank you.

  • myil selvan

    Dear JustMal,
    Your statement, which I have copied below, is a perfect example of rabid racist scums, which you are one of, not surprisingly!

    “If these people are used to defecating out in the open, what’s the point of arguing about toilets. The question is, do we really want them out of the camps and defecating left and right in our streets? ” Would we want them to apply for asylum in Canada and then go and defecate in the University Avenue in Toronto in protest?”

    Why are you so worried about defecation in Toronto and on our streets???
    Stop trying to waste our time trying to cover up your rabid racism!!!!!!!! If you are a racist and you hate Tamils just say so, without talking about defecation. You racists seem to have the same strategy. Just go home racist and worry about your life and let the NGOs, ICRC and UN organisations, who really care about the IDPs, worry about the IDPs. Thank you.

  • http://na PeaceLove

    I still can remember what I learned from Grade One (30 years ago) about Buddha’s view of the mankind but now I wonder why the same government (his supporters) is abusing what printed on that book? I am so embarrassed to say that I (students) was given (printed) wrong information because the GoSL is right about killing its own citizens because they are terrorists (300,000 suspicious including newborns, toddlers, children, women, men, and elders) just fell on the Eelam ground from the sky for fun! Who created them? What created them? What is the root cause of all these atrocities? Once you find the answers to these three simple questions then you don’t have to worry about terrorism in the nation. These are man made atrocities and the solutions also on their hands too. Yet who is ready for it? Anyway you can use any names to abuse the mankind, but The Mighty God has the way to tell the Truth! And I clearly see it through the monsoon that hit the concentration camps last week.

  • http://www.facebook.com/groundviews#/group.php?gid=121576001719 NoEalamInSL

    myil selvan,

    I am glad to listen to you but you speak empty words! I do respect your right to say.
    1. “GoSL a democratic government” than LTTE, arent they?
    2.”20,000 are missing “, dont believe Times magazine. IDP have free access they are gone home
    3.”10,000 or so LTTE cadres surrendered” – of course no other choice than death. Why dodnt they consume cyanide tablet hanging on the neck. cowards!
    4.”terrorism is, in the first place” terrorists dont accept they are terrorists, they call themselves freedom fighters
    5. SRI LANKA FREE FROM TERROR, yes it is very true. It is hard to believe for Asylum seekers in Toronto. KP is in custody, international network is being traced. Just be patient UNTILL SOMEONE KNOCKS ON YOUR DOOR!

  • NoSLinElam

    NoElaminSL,

    1.Given a choice , all racists will vote for another racist and voila, you got democracy! GOSL is as democratic as Hitler’s Nazi and Afghan’s Taliban. Got it?
    2. Why shouldn’t we believe the Times? Is it because it is publishing facts inconvenient for you?
    3. LTTE are cowards?? How brave you are! Cheering from a comfortable living room for your military that was deserted by many soldiers in the past, afraid to face the LTTE! You may see more uneducated poor sinhalas queuing up to join military because they don’t have to fight LTTE anymore like they did in the past. Now their duties will be to “fight” toddlers,women and elders held as terrorists in IDP camps. I admire their “bravery”!
    4. Just like some terrorists call themselves as democratically elected government.
    5. Sri Lanka free from terror, if you don’t count STATE TERRORISM kept alive by cowards and greedy politicians that you revere. That is hard to believe for people who can’t see what is going on around them. . War crimes tribunal will eventually knock at the doors of your “masters”. He may be found there hiding under the dining table or he would have sought asylum in another rogue country by that time. But before that you may hear a knock on your door and a white van waiting for you outside.

  • Danushka Bandara

    It is just frustrating to see the same pessimistic tone from majority of the bloggers here. Call me naive, but I think this sort of misinformed critiques only cause our country harm. So unless you know first hand that what you are accusing is going on, it is unfair by the country for you to be pointing fingers. I do respect that everyone has the right to express themselves. Though it doesnt mean u get license to criticize everything you see. No one lives perfect lives with every luxury that they need. Not you , not me. And if you take how a “developed” country like US failed with a disaster like Katrina hurricane, you’d see that our government is doing comparably better. In our case we have a much more complex situation with the remnants a decades old war to contend with. It is a tough job the government is doing (I think you will at least agree with that). So make your criticisms constructive. It would at least mobilize people to act. Otherwise you are wading in the same old muck that will one day engulf you.

  • In Your Face

    Myil Selvan,

    Stop being such an apologist for terrorists. Roll up your sleeves and work for the IDP’s , man! You talk so much about “racism” but you and your pathetic sidekicks are the biggest racists on this forum. The party is over, P’karan is long gone. Face reality and learn to live harmoniously with your Sinhala Buddhist brothers and sisters.

    Stop defecating on this forum.

  • smoulderingjin

    Hats off to the ingenious name NoSLinElam.
    Yes the names Taliban and Nazi have been coming to mind of late. There is a fundamental difference though – these groups were/are openly oppressive, tyranical, murderous and violent, while the GOSL is lily livered, and therefore hides behind its democratic facade. Massive difference there you see. For the psyche of the nation. The people under the Taliban and the Nazi regimes knew themselves to be tyranised and did not see themselves as free. The Sri Lankan nation, with its euphoria of the “end of the war” is the opposite. It believes itself to be free and democratic. Well at least most of the Sinhalese of the South believe so.

    Danushka Bandara – I agree that constructive criticism is necessary. And there is much of it on this forum. The fundamental problem is that “criticism” in this nation is taken for treachery, constructive concern and compassion is translated into being “pro LTTE”. Unfortunately the GOSL, that you feel is doing its best, is also doing its best to silence the voices that speak up for the rights of people and make the suggestions.

    Do you not think that “constructive criticism” takes a dynamic of speakers and receivers for it to work. The people who make it – ie as on this forum or elsewhere – and the people who have to take it on and act on it – ie the GOSL.

    If one of the parties is defunct then “constructive criticism” becomes accusations and anger! Naturally! You cannot expect the citizens of this nation, to sit back and allow the government to permit thousands more of innocent lives to be lost!

  • undergroundviews

    Myil Selvan said: Even Sarath Fonseka now has U.S. Green Card, what a joke! …Why don’t they want to stay in great Sri Lanka??? Racist Hypocrites. These guys are wasting our time, energy and our lives.”

    One of the questions they will ask him, if he travels to the USA, is whether he has been involved in genocide. He could also be deported if it emerged that he had been involved in torture or unlawful killing.

    In April the US authorities arrested an immigrant for participating in the genocide in Rwanda.

    The US may not be a safe refuge…

  • undergroundviews

    Danushka has a point. Constructive criticism is better and more useful than name-calling and racist abuse.

    And yes, the US messed up after Hurricane Katrina. But we’re not discussing the GoSL response to the Tsunami here, or even failures in a flood-relief programme. We’re talking about man-made disasters. Hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have been herded into camps, and kept there by barbed wire and armed guards. Then the rains started, and their pathetic shelters and unhygenic latrines began to flood.

    In a democracy – and Sri Lanka is a democracy – people should not be held indefinitely without charge. Especially several hundred thousand people. Their prisons should not be kept hidden from the press, from parliament, from the people of Sri Lanka, and from the outside world. It should not be a secret, exactly how many people are held.

    When the little that we hear is SO bad, a degree of pessimism is understandable – inevitable, even

    So yes, the government has given itself a difficult job. But by refusing help from outside, they have made it harder. And by keeping it secret, they convince people they have something to hide. As, indeed, they do.

    We could keep silent.

    We could take refuge in our ignorance of some of the details. Perhaps, like Germany after 1945, we will be able to claim “we never knew”. But in our hearts we do know. We know that something is rotten in the state of Sri Lanka. We know that human beings, fellow citizens of the comfortable city dwellers, are being held in terrible conditions, not knowing when – or if – they will be released.

    We should not lie. We do not need to make things up.

    But we cannot stay silent.

    “When truth is replaced by silence,” said the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko, “the silence is a lie.”

  • http://na PeaceLove

    To undergroundviews,

    To my knowledge and experience…I accept what was said by Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko “When truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.”

  • http://panhinda-samaga.blogspot.com Migara

    @ undergroundview
    //You seem to have a very patronising view of Tamils from the North. Do you imagine that toilets are completely unknown outside of Colombo?
    Do you expect me to believe that N & E had much more toilet facilities than Southern province or Western Province? Not it’s not. Toilets are a necessity. No argument about that. But agencies asking for one toilet for 10 people should see what is the national average of it. Even if these IDPs are resettled, that target would not be met! There are some hardships, but the situation should be viewed in SL perspective, not European perspective as the standard of living of normal SL citizen is much below than that of European.

    //Thousands of citizens be removed, because some of them are suspected of being in league with the Tigers.
    You have understood the problem correctly. But, what is the solution? The best solution in my view is to let the IDP’s be with their relatives who are outside camps. But these IDPs should be strictly observed for movement after they are set free until LTTE carders are identified. However that does not mean a detention or house arrest. Whereabouts knowledge will be enough. Even for this registration of IDPs must be over, otherwise future compensations, resettlements and identifying LTTE carders will be in a mess.

  • http://panhinda-samaga.blogspot.com Migara

    @ myil selvan

    //You say you fully agree with Asitha and Peace Lanka
    You’ve misinterpreted me. That’s only on toilet issue.

    //Your comparison to IDP camps with Nuwara Eliya line homes and slums in Mattakkuliya is unfortunate and misplaced. While I agree the conditions in line homes and slums are not at all good they come under a different discussion.
    You are deliberately trying to run away from the discussion. if GOSL is unable to provide facilities that are enumerated by UN even to their civil society, how on earth you expect them to be provided to IDPs?. Think on that line. GOSL can do up to a certain level. For example, if UN says there are 25% of children with malnutrition in IDP camps, for people like you it’s big news. And pro-Eelamists try to pint the picture that there were 0% malnutrition in children of the Northern province. But a person who knows grass-roots of SL will know that 25% of malnutrition is the national average. In the light of the statistic even 30% in IDP camps should be viewed as normal. If GOSL cannot prevent it in rest of the country how they are going to o it in IDP camps, or even all these IDPs are set free?

  • undergroundview

    Migara, you have a point when you say “if GOSL is unable to provide facilities that are enumerated by UN even to their civil society, how on earth you expect them to be provided to IDPs?”

    But there is a key difference. Responsibility for the plantation workers is firstly with the employers who exploit them and pay such low wages, and secondarily with the government that has denied them citizenship, civil rights, and effective education. We won’t solve THAT problem in this discussion.

    In the case of forcibly imprisoned IDPs, the government has total responsibility for all their needs – and cannot evade any responsibility. It’s not as though those imprisoned in the camps can go outside and look for work!

    Of course this must be considered in a Sri Lankan context. Airconditioning and broadband connectivity might be expecting a bit much – but there can be NO excuse to fail to provide adequate food, health care, visits from relatives, education, reuniting of families, and openness to the media and civil society, when the government has forcibly taken over their “care”.

    Most of all, the secrecy must end. There must be registration and publication of the lists of prisoners, so that nobody can just disappear. There must be no abductions and torture. Investigations of abuse must be investigated, and punished where it is shown to happen. For the first time, there must be accountability.

    It is in secrecy that evil will flourish.

  • undergroundview

    Thanks, Migara:
    >> “But, what is the solution? The best solution in my view is to let the IDP’s be with their relatives who are outside camps. But these IDPs should be strictly observed for movement after they are set free until LTTE carders are identified. However that does not mean a detention or house arrest. Whereabouts knowledge will be enough. Even for this registration of IDPs must be over, otherwise future compensations, resettlements and identifying LTTE carders will be in a mess.”

    You see, now we’re having a rational and constructive debate about the problem, away from the hysteria of “criticism is a western plot” and “the Sinhalese are genocidal racists”.

    Any solution needs to address security concerns, while safeguarding the IDPs. It must involve openness, democratic values, and the rule of law.

    End the secrecy. Start by registering and publishing the prisoners’ names. Then reunite the separated families.

    Next, there must be clarity about just what the authorities are looking for in these camps. What does a terrorist look like? How can they tell? Or will they keep people locked up until they rebel, and then say “we told you so… terrorists, the lot of them”?

    And who is a terrorist? A Tamil? A Tamil of military age? A Tamil who used to be of military age? A Tamil who will be of military age if he doesn’t starve first. A kidnapped child soldier? The family of a kidnapped child soldier? Anyone without papers? Anyone who confesses after a beating? Somebody who does not love Sri Lanka enough? Maybe they can be imprisoned until they love the motherland more…

    If the authorities don’t know (or won’t say) what they are looking for, how will anyone know when they have found them? Equally importantly, how will they ever be able to say who should be released?

    As well as punishment of the guilty, there must be openness, clarity, justice for the innocent, and accountability from the authorities. Otherwise it’s just replacing the tyranny of the LTTE with a new, but eerily similar tyranny.

    Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

  • http://www.groundviews.org groundviews

    @ Suchith:

    “At the same time there wasnt a single line formed in front of the toilettes that I observed in any of the four days I was there.”

    Says the UN’s IRIN news service (http://www.irinnews.org/report.aspx?ReportID=85829),

    “In fact, in some parts of Menik Farm, a single latrine caters to up to 80 people [Sphere standards call for 20], while some tents designed for five were accommodating up to 14.”

  • Heshan

    “not European perspective as the standard of living of normal SL citizen is much below than that of European.”

    Whose fault is that exactly… is it another Western conspiracy? In any case, it is an affirmation that the notion of a unitary state is a farce and should be abandoned altogether. Re-establish pre-colonial borders and let the different ethnicities take care of themselves.

  • rajivmw

    “Re-establish pre-colonial borders and let the different ethnicities take care of themselves.”

    Yeah, good luck with that. And perhaps you’d like to show us what exactly those pre-colonial borders were?