Advocacy, Colombo, Media and Communications, Peace and Conflict, Post-War

A travesty of justice: The sentencing of J.S. Tissainayagam

Groundviews first highlighted the case of J.S. Tissainayagam last year, noting that,

Salient points of Tissa’s case point to a larger and more chilling deterioration of media freedom in Sri Lanka under the Rajapakse administration. Tissa’s case in particular reveals a particularly twisted logic, and through it, confirms fears that the regime in the South now completely mirrors the intolerance of media freedom and free expression the LTTE is known and reviled for.

In May 2009, President Barack Obama referred to Tissa as an emblematic example of the distressing reality of journalist’s jailed for their writing. On 31st August 2009, Tissa was sentenced by the High Court in Colombo to 20 years of rigorous imprisonment under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). As the Times flags,

The Sri Lankan Government accused Mr. Tissainayagam of taking money to spread Tiger propaganda in a case that the US Department of State said last year “appeared to be politically motivated”.

Mr Tissainayagam had accused the army of withholding food and other supplies from areas populated by Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil population as a tool of war. The Government said that the allegations were false and aimed at sparking communal unrest.

The Sri Lankan Government accused Mr. Tissainayagam of taking money to spread Tiger propaganda in a case that the US Department of State said last year “appeared to be politically motivated”. Mr. Tissainayagam had accused the army of withholding food and other supplies from areas populated by Sri Lanka’s minority Tamil population as a tool of war. The Government said that the allegations were false and aimed at sparking communal unrest.

Nimalka Fernando, a leading human rights activist, calls this judgement a travesty of justice in a video interview conducted shortly after the sentencing, available below. It is a position Groundviews unequivocally endorses and associates itself with. As noted last year by this site,

Tissa’s case is more than a set of ludicrous charges against an individual. The charges, the length of time he was held without any charge and the manner in which he was treated while imprisoned are all carefully engineered to generate fear and anxiety amongst independent journalists and media. In this, the Rajapakse regime has been tremendously successful. Most journalists today are fearful of even writing about Tissa’s case, much less writing publicly against his unjust predicament or agitating for his quick release.

Yet the incredible charges against Tissa call for defiance and outrage. Every blogger, every journalist, virtually everyone who has articulated an opinion in public through any media should take very careful note of the charges against Tissa. Their nature place us all at risk of arbitrary detention and criminal charges.

  • Veedhur

    What are the different avenues of/to protest?

  • Veedhur

    Can some one produce a summary of the court proceedings – the alleged confession by Tissanayagam, indictment filed against him and the submissions in defence – so that all the people could read for themselves and make their own judgement about Judge Deepali’s judgement?

    Even better would be to translate the documents into Sinhala and Tamil and circulate widely – probably make host talk shows and write articles analysing the decision.

    I still think the majority does not know the contents of the passages that are alleged to be the basis for the indictment – if they do, they may laugh – at the judgement, and cry – at the state of affairs!

  • Veedhur

    The most shocking aspect of the proceedings was that the state did not even bother to substantiate the case – sitting smuggly and laughing at those who believed in justice!

  • Wasantha Bandara Ranagala

    We understand little about the travesty of justice when mixed with terrorism. Whoever took cover under the caption “media freedom” also are responsible for the thousands of innocent civilians died when the so called journalists aided and abetted terror mongrels to plant bombs.Was Tissanayagam not responsible for such acts as much as his buddy Taraki who took cover under journalist garb in the south while being an agent to terrorists in the north.

  • Grim Hope

    @Wasantha Bandara Ranagala

    Who are defined as “innocent civilians”? Wht is the process? 300000 Tamil people in IDP camps are not “innocent civilians”? 100,000 Tamils who died during the war are not “innocent civilians”? What is the justice for Karuna, Pilliyan, Wimal Weerawansa who killed your so called “innocent civilian” are minsters, chief minsters?

    Very stupid logic all together, just like the judgement of Tissanayagam.

    At least, Rajapakse regime know that they are deceiving the people and making a lot of money but what i can take is the idiocy and racism in the followers!

  • billy

    terrorists come in many forms, u dont have to carry a gun and shoot people to be one, these pen carrying terrorists r much more dangerous than the gun carrying ones since they create the conditions to terrorists to operate and then to justify their actions. this is yet another victory for the country!

  • Lal

    I am ashamed to be a Sri Lankan, especially Sinhalese. How long we are going to be quiet? How long the masses going to believe in the stupid propaganda of the regime and support blindly? Where is justice in this country? Where is democracy? Where is freedom? Any views against the regime is shot down in the name of LTTE!!! There is a saying “Whatever goes around comes around”… Lets hope for that… But at the moment there is no hope for this country.

  • Idealist?

    The judgement sends out a chilling message, loud and clear, to anyone who dares to dissent from the powers that be… it’s a huge step (a leap?) AWAY from real freedom for everyone in this country.

  • Grim Hope

    @billy
    So you are basically justifying Karuna, Pillayan, Wimal Weerawasa and JVP? Cold blooded killing of Sinhalese people are justified just because they play for your side? They are better than Tissanayagam? Why different punishment for Prabhakaran vs Karuna or Wimal? How about the court case against Wimal for handing over weapons for LTTE during premadasa time? Is it still a less crime than what Tissanayagam was suppose to have but no evidence but just his alleged confession?

    Speak something logical!

  • Disgusted

    I am just totally bowled over by the courage of activists such as Ms Fernando and Groundviews staff for publicly speaking up, and demonstrating–especially since no one else is doing so, which only puts these brave folk in even greater danger. What a scandal that there are people here (who themselves have as much guts as chickenshit) who have the gall to suggest that such activists are responsible for terror when many of these honourable people have given up their lives to speak out precisely against terror!

    Who is the fool who said that you could be a terrorist as much through writing as through armed violence? Which would he or she prefer to come across one dark night, alone on a street corner: a gun or a pen? I mean, really, there must be a limit to the stupidity that people are allowed to utter!

  • EW Golding

    As an international journalist group said: The Sri Lankan judiciary does not know the difference between revenge and justice. First parliament, now the judiciary have become supservient to an all powerful executive striding towards dictatorship. All organs of state power are now complicit. For the poeple of this country there will be “No easy walk to freedom”. The real worry is that people themselves have decided to lie low and confront the autocrat.

  • billy

    this is the first time i heard such a thing about wimal, anyway the fact is karuna,pillayan etc no longer a threat to the state while these terror stooges hiding behind as bogus journalists is a direct threat to the well being of the nation as a whole, n should be neutralized using what ever means!
    n this should be a good lesson for other so called tamil leaders who r still preaching the same communal and recist political ideologies as their forefathers like chelva and ponnambalm without fighting for a common course where all communities can benefit.

  • billy

    [http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2009/09/01/iraqi-journalist-under-us-custody-without-trail-us-critical-tissanayagam-jail-senten]
    its ok of for some countries even to invade other countries under the pretext of their own national security but for us even cant punish a bogus terror stooge like this even after they were convicted!

  • Veedhur

    @Billy

    O boy….clearly you have no idea who Tissanayagam is and what he writes and what he stands for.

    No one will have a problem if you prosecute terrorists and terror supporters….but when you convict crtics and dissenters using the terror tool (PTA) that is deplorable.

    Make no mistake 10 years from now Tissanayagam will be hailed like Rajini and Richard while the Rajapakse cabal will get their due recognition – as ruthless totalitarians who fought terror with more terror irrevocably damaging our buddhist credentials and creating a deep scar in all our psyche.

  • Most of us lack knowledge about the charges this “Tissanayagam” is prosecuted with. And no one mentioned here whether his trial was according to the norms of SL (mind you, SL, not EU). If his charges were proven beyond doubt, such “terrorist journalists” should be dealt harshly. BTW, all of us take an oath not to engage in any activity that will harm the integrity of the country when we join public service. Now where has the problem occurred?

  • @ Billy
    Thanks for the link. That explains lot of things. Shame on journalists thay they use their journalist ID to carry out / aid terrorism.

  • Susan Goon

    Tissainayagam today.
    Hattotuwa tomorrow.
    Long live Sinhala Buddhist Republic! Long live Mahinda!
    Down with Christian conspirators!

  • Veedhur

    @Migara

    Get a copy of the case proceedings. Read it and judge for yourself and then let us know what you think of it. Whether it was in keeping with any civilised norms at all!

  • Mawatha Silva

    J.S. Tissainayagam makes up a long list of Hindu journalists that have been killed or silenced for being voices of conscience. Why, even murdered Hindu newspaper editor Lasantha Wickramatunga is a recent example of the travesty of justice in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka government of Mahinda R. is a mass violator of human rights. Period! State-sponsored pogroms against Hindu Tamils, extra-judicial killings, white-van disappearances, assassinations of journalists and politicians, arbitrary detention, rapes etc. are just the tip of the iceberg in Sri Lanka. The rule of law has long ceased to exist in the country. Charlatans and racketeers run riot and belligerent chauvinism is endemic in the country. The Sri Lankan government and the military junta are committed only to a law of impunity

  • I think we need to make some noise about this. The march for Lasantha was brilliant that it got people to take notice. We need the people who are deluded by the victory against the LTTE to see that the government isn’t as infallible as they seem to think.
    We can draw attention the issue with blog posts, flyers, posters, marches, anything that will get people to sit and take notice. Instead of letting this just slip by.

    Like I’ve mentioned in my post- http://messiahofmadness.wordpress.com/2009/09/01/what-freedom/

    It’s infuriating to think that Karuna who was involved with abducting children and forcibly enlisting them as child soldiers gets a ministerial position, while Tissa who voiced out his dissent has been sentenced with 20 year RI!

  • laksundara

    Can I charge Susan Goon under the PTA act… i mean she is inciting terror by disrupting communal dis-harmony….
    We can go on with a list of thousands of names of people some small fry, and some really big fish who go on record saying things which disrupt communal harmony… but then again they are pandering to the taste of the masses… so they cant be charged…

    pretty sure we know how the PTA works now… double standards galore

  • King Duttagamini

    When one read the (un)holiest historiciation in the Mahawamsa where from chapter 2 to 22 it glorifies those who killed the Demalas, then that is the biggest piece of Sinhala literature that should be tried for hate writing. But how come that becomes the bane of the modern Sinhala-Buddhism?

  • Let’s forget about PTA, it was only needed to detain and charge him.

    Is promoting terrorism by sympathizing then is right or wrong?

  • Mawatha Silva

    The violence is still being used to choke the voices of dissent in Sri Lanka. The editor of the Sunday Leader, a Sri Lankan editor, was shot dead by unidentified gunmen on motorcycles as he drove to work. Following numerous encounters with the government, Lasantha Wickramatunga knew that his life might soon be cut short by those who wished to silence him, yet he pursued and exposed the truth regardless. His death is a great loss for the world of serious journalism. Such treatment of journalists, and those closest to them, has led to a paralysis of the media community in the Sri Lanka. Two trends were noted in a Human Rights Watch resolution on Sri Lanka:lack of press access and independent information flow in the country, assaults on and intimidation of journalists covering the Sri Lanka.

  • myil selvan

    J.S. Tissainaiyagam CASE FILE Available!!

    Dear Veedhur,
    There is a thick file containing all the proceedings of the Tissainaiyagam case available. If you get in touch with one of the Embassies/High Commissions they may tell you where to get one or even give you a copy.

    There are rumours swirling around that Judge Deepali got a stern call asking for a conviction. Anybody have thoughts on that?? Anybody else heard these rumours??

  • Atheist

    Susan Goon,

    Cut the crap! You are not only pathetic but extremely diabolical. Even at this moment, you don’t seem to worry about Tissainayagam (or the IDPs), but remain steadfast to your agenda: to instigate distrust among communities. What is with Hattotuwa? Why do you repeatedly insinuate that Hattotuwa will be the next Tissainyagam? Yes, if I were Hattotuwa I’d be extra cautious with a Beelzebub like you.

    Don’t try to be a victim you goon. I don’t think anybody is going to victimize you for being a Christian or whatever unless, of course, you want to be the Diya Wadena Nilame or the Malwatte/ Asgiriye “POPE”. Simply attacking one community – in this case, the Sinhala Buddhists – will not make you a progressive intellectual. Isn’t it foolish for a bigot to demand that society be just and equal when the bigot himself/herself refuses to change?

    If you don’t like or agree with your “enemy’s” writings be straight forward and come up with a valid counter argument or arrange for a public debate. Resorting to mere slander is indicative of your inability to engage in serious debate with your favourite opponent. If you are committed to doing the right thing you will always find a way to express your ideas without ever demeaning your cause with propaganda.

    Be a crusader for humanity, not for God!

  • Susan Goon

    Atheist,
    The trouble with semi-literates like you is that you don’t have the capacity to absorb and reflect. What I said was: Long live Sinhala Buddhist Republic! Long live Mahinda!
    Down with Christian conspirators!

    Does that sound like claiming to be Christian? I shall let you know that I hail from pure, unadulterated Sinhala Buddhist stock traceable back to at least 8 generations. We are not like the low country Pereras, Silvas and Fernandos who converted to Christianity under pressure or for self-gain. We have been true defenders of our glorious civilization for centuries, and now do so with renewed energy under Mahinda, the first true Buddhist leader in Sri Lanka for at least two centuries.

    • Susan Goon et al, rather than debate ethnic purity and religiosity exclusively, I encourage you to deal with the content in the post. I do not encourage or tolerate bigotry combined with religious zealotry, that runs counter to the spirit of collegial exchange this website seeks to establish even when discussions are anchored to highly contested issues. Please take a look at site guidelines for the tone we expect and encourage. Thanks in advance for your consideration and civil engagement.

  • President Bean

    George Bernard Shaw once said, “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.” (Remember Lasantha?). One is also reminded of words of the 19th century poet Heinrich Heine who said, “Whenever books are burnt, men also, in the end are burnt.”

    The Dictatorship of Sri Lanka today is only the latest in a long line of Dictatorships worldwide who have tried to snuff out unpalatable ideas and comments by abducting, intimidating, beating and killing its journalists. J.S.Tissainayagam is one of the many such journalists who has been given a prison sentence of 20 years.

    The first recorded victim of censorship was Socrates who, in 399 BC was forced to drink poison for ‘denying the gods and introducing new divinities.’ In China, in 213 BC, Emperor Shih Huang-Ti had all writing not pertaining to agriculture or medicine burnt. His target: Confucius’ thoughts. Present day China is no better.

    During the last century, it was the communists who most systematically censored books and hounded their authors. Writers in every communist country from East Germany to Vietnam were forced into concentration camps. Boris Pasternak, Joseph Brodsky, Milan Kundera, Czeslaw Milosz and Alexander Solzhenitsyn were just a few. Hitler’s Germany burnt the books of Jewish authors and liberals, exterminating thousands in their notorious gas chambers and forcing others to flee. In Mahinda’s Sri Lanka, over 14 journalist’s, the majority of them tamils have been killed in the past 3 years. Many more journalist’s have been abducted, beaten and intimidated to keep them from writing the truth.
    Sometime back the Government blocked access to the Tamilnet, but what the Government does not understand is that with the advance of technology, censorship has become obsolete. The truth is only a click away. All you need to do to read the Tamilnet is to go to a proxy site.
    In today’s day and age it is no longer possible to stop the message or the truth getting out by killing or imprisoning the messenger.

    If this sorry state of affaires continues, this country will be known the world over as, “The Autocratic, Dictatorial Banana Republic of Sri Lanka!”

  • Heshan

    Long ago I anticipated that a military victory would mean nothing, other than one less enemy for the despotic Sri Lankan regime to face. Tissa is a victim of that regime, as are the rest of us. Those of us who left us because of the war cannot now return because the situation is nearly as bad as before. Those of us still in SL are either complacent or forced to suffer in silence.

    Who is the winner here? In retrospect, it would have been simple to give the Tamils/LTTE their land 30 years ago. It is not simply the case that we (Sinhalese majority) have nothing better to offer Tamils even after 30 years… for many of us, the justifications we provided to keep alive the myth of terrorism will now be used against our *own*.

    “It is a man’s own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways. ”

    – Buddha

  • Gadin

    The sentence came from the Sri Lanka President Mahinda’s Office – not from the court. The furore distracts attention from the core issue of the 300 000 internees in the concentration camps. Just what did Tissainayagam write? In July 2006 he wrote in North Eastern Monthly “Providing security to Tamils now will define northeastern politics of the future it is fairly obvious that the Government is not going to offer them any protection. In fact it is the state security forces that are the main perpetrator of the killings”. In November 2006 he wrote “With no military options Government buys time by offering watered-down devolution. Such offensives against the civilians are accompanied by attempts to starve the population by refusing them food as well as medicines and fuel”. 20 years imprisonment for this? For the 2 articles? But then Tissainayagam is a Tamil and as the recently retired Chief Justice after a visit to the camps said “(minority) Tamils will not receive protection in Sri Lanka”

  • Observer

    groundviews, why do you approve posts with ethnic hatred and personal threats at all? just block the damn non sense. it’s clearly against the guide lines isn’t it? i’ve noticed you’re quick to block some posts which are more relevant than this rubbish yet doesn’t tow a certain agenda. sorry i think it’s BS!

    people like susan goon are probably ltte propaganda goons that pretend to be sinhalese and create an image of ethnic hatred. no sane person thinks like that. end of the day there’s no such thing as pure sinhalese or tamil. god knows i’ve prolly got some tamil, malay parts in me. who knows what kinda kinky sh1t my great great grand parents got up to ;). but i don’t care about that. i care about the state i was born into and defending that! that’s where i get my drive from, not my TOLD race.

    all this BS about lack of media freedom. typical of doomsday predictors here. groundviews is still up isn’t it? groundviews is vehemently protesting the government. sanjana is all too happy to comment to the ny times dissing the gov. according to you guys groundviews staff should be in jail now, the site shut down! blah blah.,… and they’re not. so i rest my case!

    this journalist aided and abated suicide bomb operations (terrorists) in colombo, that’s why he got done! deal with it! he’s got innocent blood on his hands.

  • Observer

    Heshan, what about the Sinhalese, Muslim Tamils who got ethnically cleansed by the LTTE in the north and lucky few who got driven out? Don’t they have a right to that land as well? What about Tamils in Colombo? Are they entitled to that “land” as well? Or they have a right only to be in Colombo and other areas? Who defines the boundaries of this “land”? Who set’s the rules? Is it a purified one race pure Tamil state like the pure Aryan Nazi Germany? Where rest of the diverse communities representing 85% of the country huddle into the lesser Sri Lanka? Does that mean I can never hope to buy some land and build a house in Jaffna because I was born in Colombo? Where my uncle may live. Is it going to be like East/West Germany or North/South Korea?
    Eelam notion is so flawed on so many levels it will only make things worse! That’s why it will never work, even if a foreign army come in and try to impose it. Oh what a river of blood would that be… There are other productive avenues for equal rights. Read some history my friend, not just law books. It’s a lesson already learnt. Just have to pick up the right book 😉

  • Disgusted

    Observer,
    The thing about stupidity is that it never recognizes itself. In one post, you declare that racial purity is not possible–that everyone is probably racially mixed. Then you cry to high heaven about Tamils wanting a “purified one race pure state”. Why do you fear that since everyone is always already mixed, as you say?

    Add to that your fear that Tamils will dispossess Sinhalese of their land and force them to huddle together in a small piece of land. That you can fear this when the country is ruled by a chauvinistic, militaristic Sinhalese regime which currently enjoys absolute power, when the country’s Tamils are either dead, dying, imprisoned in barbed wire camps or terribly, terribly poor, and when many are roaming around the country homeless and shell-shocked—this tells me that you are either bone dumb or have been smoking something.

  • Leon

    I am fascinated by the reappearance of Susan Goon, who is back on this thread, but dropped off the previous one after it was suggested he/she was the transsexual alter ego of Susantha Goonatileke. I apologise for any psychic distress that last sentence may have occasioned but from the latest set of posts it’s clear Susan G passes two of the key identification tests, being apparently both barmy and very nasty with it. ‘Pure unadulterated Sinhala Buddhist stock!’ Indeed. DNA test anyone?

  • Manushi

    Susan Goon,

    Susan Goon says: “I shall let you know that I hail from pure, unadulterated Sinhala Buddhist stock traceable back to at least 8 generations. We are not like the low country Pereras, Silvas and Fernandos who converted to Christianity under pressure or for self-gain”.

    You have now been totally outed. Sorry, you brought it upon yourself, bud.

    Why are you hell bent on attacking Sinhala Buddhists when the discussion should be about Tissainayagam’s incarceration?

  • Heshan

    Observer,

    I don’t support the LTTE. In my opinion, Tamils should not support the LTTE either. But that is a decision best left for Tamils. On the other hand, because a Tamil does not support the LTTE does not mean he must come running to GOSL. GOSL has had 60 years to prove itself… after which time, the best it can do is offer a “home-grown” solution. How much more time does it need, or have we reached a point where we can conclude that time is actually irrelevent; that 60 yrs from now, we will still have refugees, political dynasties, and a repressive regime whose sole aim is to enhance its grip on power? One could argue that the turning point was the war. Here was a real chance for peace – offer a general amnesty to all ex-combatants, relax the restrictions on civil liberties, improve foreign relations with the West, use the budget to invest in education and empower the next generation of youth. Further, Rajapakse should have immediatley resigned his post having won the war – because (1) no Tamil can trust him again, for obvious reasons (2) it would have shown character. Of course, none of this has happened… like any tyrant he has maximized his grip on power. Again, GOSL has lost an opportunity, lending support to the theory that Tamils deserve self-rule. You see, it is not just about land – there is little logic in expecting anything good to come from GOSL.

  • Megafunnyman

    Having not seen specifics into the case against Tissainayagam I have to ask the question whether he was indeed funded by the LTTE? Is there any evidence to show this?

    Having read some of his articles I can understand that he held a strong dissenting point of view against the government. This is perfectly acceptable and a must in a democracy. Being imprisoned for having such views is wrong and doesnt deserve a 20 year sentence.

    However, if he did receive funding from a known terrorist organization (LTTE) and abetted in furthering their motives in Sri Lanka then I have to say this would warrant prosecution under the rule of law. There is a fine line between reporting/commentary and doing the bidding of terrorists. If you put this on a global scale it is equivalent to Al Qaeda paying Bill O’Reilly (FOX) to attack Obama on TV. I am sure that the US govt would have jailed O’Reilly for that if indeed it was true, not because of the attacks but for receiving funds.

  • Siva Lingam

    Earlier today at dinner an Israeli academic quoted Golda Meir, their former PM: “We hate the Arabs because they make us kill their children”.

    Would you laugh or cry?

    Would we wish such logic to be the foundation of our own, Sri Lankan, future?

  • Jehiel Iscariot

    Leon,

    Who is this Susantha Goonatilake? Looks like Sinhala Buddhists have unisex names. God, created Adam and Eve as man and woman: two separate entities that are never to gender transgress. This is the stamp of sin according to the Good Book of ours.

    How can Goon claim to be pure when we, the righteous, have been told by our Father that purity comes from belief in the Bible. Indeed, you are right in characterizing the Sinhala Buddhists – especially ones belonging to Goon’s ilk – as “barmy” and “nasty”. The other test that they must pass is the test on righteous conduct. They will never pass this test – only we can! So, Leon, if you ever happen to come across a human being that fails the last test, you can be assured that it is a Sinhala Buddhist.

    Amen!

  • Suna Apriya

    To the creator of Susan Goon:

    Machan we are losing the battle here! I heard that people are now saying: “honde, honde, sellam elivena jameta”. People have got it into their heads that we are no longer the movers and shakers. Isn’t it high time we joined the other side? You know, that is what we are good at: non-committal (except when money is involved) and ready to jump ship.

    Plus, machan, I like appearing on TV. Don’t ruin this photo op for me!

  • President Bean

    Has the Goon Susan forgotten that it was the leadership of the ‘Silva’s’ ‘Fonseka’s’ ‘Dias’s’ etc that was in the fore front of the defeat of the LTTE.

  • President Bean

    Heshan…you said “Tamils should not support the LTTE either”…why did the Tamils support the LTTE in the first place? If Sinhala had not been made the state language, and the Bandaranayake/Chelvanayakam pact had been signed, there would never have been the need for an LTTE and Prabahakaran might have been a successful businessman in Jafna.
    If sanity does not prevail, and if power is not devolved…the LTTE will reform again in the future, and Tamils will support them again, because what other choice do they have if power wont be devolved? Every Tamil is not willing to live on their knees? When the Sinhalese fought against the British that was considered heroic. The Tamils will have no other choice but fight if talking wont get them devolution.

  • Observer

    Disgusted, there is no contradiction. Problem is there are some who are so narrow minded that they think they must exclusively belong to one race. And they go on with that misguided notion and create great humanitarian catastrophes. Like the Nazis did. Far as I am concerned Prabakaran was one of them idiots with the Eelam idea. In fact anyone who tries to segregate a community based on race is such an idiot and a danger to humanity.
    Racism between Sinhalese and Tamils are oriented around languages & religion rather than skin colour. We’re all brown complexion more or less. So you have to understand the specific nature of racism that’s existent among the 2 communities. In fact it’s not far fetched to say pretty much it’s the same mix bag meaning one race speaking 2 different languages that’s the curse here.
    So I’d still say Eelam’s goal was a “exclusive” group of people. Which is what I meant by pure race! Pardon my “stupidity”. I shall humbly bow out now to your intellectual superiority. 😛

  • Observer

    I am amazed and constantly wonder why most people just go after the wrong solution.

    If your car is broken, you have to get inside the car (under the hood) to fix it, right? If you start kicking and abusing the car out of rage and frustration, you will not only hurt yourself but do more damage to the car, helping neither yourself nor the car. What am I getting at??

    If you want to fix a system you have to get inside the system. This works for bringing down a system as well but that’s a lesson for another day – if you want to apply that path to Sri Lanka then you’re truly evil. Fighting a system from outside without fixing what’s internally wrong is a futile effort.

    What Tamils need to do is tow a fine line (what I mean is not go all guns blazing piss off a lot people) and get into positions of influence and slowly change the system. I do believe it’s quite possible and honestly think it’s the ultimate way to win their deserved rights! Lakshman Kadiragarmer was a fine example of such ways (but some of you chose to call him an ass licker – quite the contrary). And there would have been more today if the LTTE wasn’t so quick on their trigger. Shame!

    If you have given up on this strategy, I believe that you have already waved the white flag and request that you stop caring. Because you will only hurt people within the system further unnecessarily. And that includes your Tamil brethren if that’s all you truly care for. So think twice before sinking the ship. There’s actually gold to be had on this ship if you chose to salvage it, wisely 😉

  • Disgusted

    Observer,
    The Eelam goal was a response to another racist goal by yet another “exclusive” group of people. Their “Eelam” is called “Sri Lanka”. Why not talk about them?

    I ask again–why do you expect a defeated minority group that is unarmed, either dead or incarcerated behind barbed wire or shell-shocked to displace a 85% majority group that is in power?

  • smoulderingjin

    The verdict is two fold and I mourn both.

    It was a verdict of “guilty” served not just on Tissanayagam who is (as most sane people in this nation know) an innocent man but on a nation that has its hands bloodied with the lives of many innoccent and fine human beings.

    This is an embodiment of the guilt of not just the GOSL but also of the majority in this nation who turn a blind eye to the tyrannical and murderous nature of governance in Sri Lanka. This is just another example of the ethically and morally debased nation that the GOSL is creating.

    The insane racist and bigotted opinions on this forum, that have little or nothing to do with the content of the article posted, are merely an indication at the level to which this nation is sinking.

  • Somewhat Disgusted

    @Disgusted >>

    Excusing one section of people’s racism as a “response” only betrays your own biased thinking. Racism is racism, whichever form it comes in and regardless of who the powerful or the oppressed happen to be. Labeling someone as “weak” is no excuse. The rest of us who just want to live our lives in peace have seen what the “weak” can do, just as we’ve seen what the so called “strong” have done.

    Ultimately, taking the side of a minority or a majority won’t solve this problem. The only way forward is to implant and spread the notion of equality for all and sideline all this racial bigotry. Unfortunately, people like you who consider themselves champions of the Tamil cause don’t really help, because by the mere act of aligning yourself with a race, you’re spreading your own racial bigotry to the minds of others.

  • Das

    Mawatha Silva has said all I wish to say. Even today there was a “white van” abduction and three journalists who dared to phtograph a ‘palace’ being built on land belonging to the president’s sister have been arrested, taken and held by the colombo crimes division. Tamilnet has been banned. Reports of all presidential commissions have not been published. COPE reports have been suppressed by the speaker without forwarding them to parliament. Rs Two Million has been approved for repairs to the speaker’s limousine while surgeons do not have theatre equipment to carry out surgery.
    It is irrelevant what other countries have done in WWII ornow in Iraq or elsewhere. They do so by democratic decisions of their own legislatures. They even prosecute members of their armed forces for human rights violations against citizens of other countries. They do not have a PTA among their laws – under which Tissanayagam was found “guilty” – which would not have happened under the normal laws in the statue book.
    The entire lankan state and its personnel are wallowing in corruption. All elections are not free and fair.
    Recently a woman who won an appeal against her deportation from UK was escorted by embassy personnel to the aircraft to send her back as ordered by the UK appeal court. Our foreign minister’s knee jerk reaction in accusing the british high commission of subverting the visa procedure resulted in his looking like an idiot when the true situation was conveyed by the high commission. I suspect that all this fuss was because the woman happens to be a tamil.
    We are now in a totalitarian state as stated by many citizens.

  • Jehiel Iscariot

    smoulderingjin,

    You know what? Looks like poor Tissainayagam ended up being the fall guy for all our nefarious activities. But the Lord shall forgive us, because we are at war with the heathens. Tissainayagam was not good at playing the game like you, smoulderingjin; otherwise, he would’ve left the country at the right time. Tissainayagam fought for what he thought was just. Is there anything wrong in that?

    Why did we let him take the bait for us? Oh, Lord, I am guilty of sending a gullible man to rot in jail. While I have my cushy job and all the material comforts -things the Bible warns us about- a man sits in jail with a plate of mush – staring at his own shadow.

    We have to maintain a poker face while we pursue our plan of action: bringing discredit to Sri-Lanka through any means necessary. Let us bask in this glory for awhile; we will create another drama in case the world becomes too weary of our present conundrum.

    I am sure you, smoulderingjin, find some solace in the Tissainayagam story like the rest of us because this will keep the fires burning. There are, however, a great many heathens who feel that Tissainayagam was dealt an unjust blow from every side. How can the bigoted and racist, Sinhala Buddhists feel that way? A pox on them!

    Coming back to us, I am reminded of what Walter Scott said: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave/When first we practise to deceive”!
    But, Lord, you, who are above the poets and the saints, will forgive us our sins because we are at war with the heathens of Sri-Lanka.

    Oh, Lord, mendacity is our middle name, but we are still your favourites, aren’t we?

  • haviesfan

    1) Response to Susan Goon,
    Goodness child, who lied to you about you “pure” lineage? Did your parents tell you this fairytale about your pure katta sambol blood?
    Don’t you know that His Excellency is a pataya (low-country Sinhalese )?
    According to your logic, his blood is far from being pure!

    2) I don’t mean to ethnicize the latest tragedy in SL history but I wonder if Tissa was a Sinhalese journalist, like Lasantha, whether the Goat and MR. Mottaya would have taken him out in the same way? I wonder how/why they decided to eliminate some journalist through murder and others through a prison sentence! The 20-year sentence almost seems civilized compared to how Lasantha was killed.

  • haviesfan

    No, not just Lasantha but Sivaram, Richard and Rajini, and the others who have been killed like pariah dogs for a few strokes of a pen.

  • Disgusted

    Somewhat Disgusted,
    Nowhere did I say that Tamil racism should not be addressed. My question was why Observer speaks only about the alleged racism of the Tamils for wanting a separate land, and not about the racism of the majority community that wishes to have Sri Lanka for itself. I do not approve of LTTE’s demand for Eelam, but I can see that racism does not only come from one quarter. Can you?

    I would have thought that right now the racism of the dominant community is an absolutely urgent matter that needs to be addressed. The racism of the Tamils in wanting a separate land has already been punished–with extreme force. Those who wanted an Eelam are largely dead, many others are incarcerated, just for being Tamil, even if they never supported the Eelam idea; others have suffered trauma of war and loss of family and homes. Do you think they require even more punishment? When do you reckon we can address the issue of Sinhalese racism? When will this community have to answer for its racism?

    Yes, implanting and spreading the idea of equality is good. But equality can’t be even conceptualised, let alone practised, if people are still labouring under racist ideas. Since only the majority community can work for equality (the others have zero power in this absolutist regime), don’t you think it is time they examined their own racism?

  • SomeOne

    Hi “SomeWhatDisgusted”, good to hear again.

    “….The only way forward is to implant and spread the notion of equality for all and sideline all this racial bigotry….”

    Look at this scenario. This is a typical situation where racism got into the democrazy. The majority racism wins over minority racism. Democrazy permits this kind of politics. Now look at this situation through third man’s eye.

    While this ~300,000 people are living in some others mercy, you can’t come out and preach “equality” here. Equality doesn’t mean any thing in this situation.

    This welfare camp/incarcerated camp politics have gone long past the stability point of a pendulum. VP has held his position for around good part of 30 years on one side of the stability of the pendulum.

    Please talk about the equality only after all the people (including the ones moved out during 70’s and 80’s) return home immediately and unconditionally. Even then, I am not sure that you can talk of equality. However, what I said is a bare minimum condition.

  • The Sri Lankan authorities assiduously kept journalists from international media away from the conflict zone, having, in the previous few years, terrorised local editors and reporters with arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and beatings, while many were mysteriously killed amid persistent rumours of official complicity.

    Now, the same authorities who have treated journalism with such contempt are seeking to keep information in the realm of contestability, through the cynical technique of rebuttal.

  • Disgusted

    Mawatha Silva,

    Well said! You’ve hit the nail exactly on the head!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Disgusted >>

    I disagree with your characterization of the Sinhalese wanting “Sri Lanka for itself”. This is gross exaggeration and I’m not sure what purpose it serves? Other ethnic communities exist and play dominant roles in Sri Lankan society. What some Sinhalese are guilty of is expecting the “foremost” place amongst these other ethnic groups, and here I agree with you, is a mindset that needs to go the way of the dodo. I completely denounce and disagree with that mindset, let me be clear on that.

    However, don’t be too quick to dismiss the virulent form that Tamil racism has evolved into either. The ethnically pure Tamil state that was forming in the north and the “Pure Tamil” concepts in Eelam propaganda are ample testimony to this fact. Let’s be clear on that also.

    When do I reckon we can address the issue of Sinhalese racism? Well, I dunno, heck, when do you reckon we can address the issue of Tamil racism, currently crushed in its external manifestation, but with its embers still glowing inside? How can the fears of either of these communities be allayed?

    There are no easy answers to such questions. The only way I can imagine is to stop creating a dichotomous relationship between Sinhalese and Tamils. Let me illustrate why.

    Consider the passage I wrote about Tamil racism above, you might feel compelled to defend it, because as far as you are concerned, the dominance of the majority started it. While the origins and evolution of this problem could be debated endlessly (which I consider a fruitless exercise) and blame apportioned (equally counter-productive), the point I do wish to highlight is that the more you create an us vs. them scenario, the more people feel compelled to align with and defend their respective “sides”, creating an impasse. The only way forward as I see it is to appeal to our humanity in general and not align ourselves with any race (which as self proclaimed non-racists, we shoudln’t).

    Doubtless it’s a long and arduous process, but hey, we gotta start somewhere. Do you have any better ideas?

    Of course, this does not mean keeping silent on issues such as the prolonged incarceration of the refugees, but accusing the “other” of racism is unlikely to yield any results, given that neither “side” has a good track record on the matter.

    My personal belief is that the refugees must be returned to their homes at the earliest possible, but at the same time, any remaining weapons caches must be found and destroyed, so that we don’t see anyone attempting to revert things to the old status quo. I see that as a practical step given the situation. Of course, pressure on the govt. to hurry on the process is a good thing.

  • Disgusted

    Somewhat Disgusted,
    I see where you’re going with this. So, two parties are at conflict, having different goals–such extreme goals that both sides have wasted exhorbitant amounts of money and human life to try to achieve these. Your answer is that they should shake hands and give up what they want. They are supposed to suddenly just give up on race identifications, never mind that race is all that has preoccupied them for the past 60 years.

    Sorry, that isn’t going to happen. Racists and racialists don’t become non-racists overnight. Self-examination has to be done about one’s own racism before one can transcend racism and recognise that other people have the same rights as oneself.

    You’re a case in point. You say airily that we should appeal to our humanity in general. You have no idea what that means. You think that 250,000 people already traumatised by war should remain incarcerated while the government goes about discovering weapons caches of an army that has already been completely destroyed. That’s your so-called humanism. I suppose to your mind these quarter of a million people should sacrifice their own well-being so that other Sri Lankans may feel more secure. You would like to forget that this quarter million, of whom such a sacrifice is demanded, are all only of one ethnic group, a powerless minority at that.

    I’m not surprised you are totally blind to the racism of your perspective. It’s based on that racism that you ask for everyone to appeal to humanity in general. What you really mean is that the minority should stop demanding equal rights (or even just basic human rights), and then everyone will be at peace. Then, according to your scenario, the majority community out of the sheer kindness of their patronising little hearts can pressure the government to move a little faster on resettlement.

    Why do you consider it to be a fruitless exercise to consider the origins and evolution of the current situation? Are you afraid of what you might learn? How do you hope to move into a future of peace if you don’t want to learn any lessons from a past of extreme mayhem and violence?

  • The ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party, riding the crest of victory, believes it has popular sanction to centralize power and smother dissident voices. The attack on press freedom in Sri Lanka is symptomatic of this. The Mahinda Rajapksa government has been targeting dissidents for years. The President’s one time friend Lasantha Wickrematunge was assassinated on January 8, 2009 because he wrote against the authoritarian proclivities of the SLFP government. His testament pointed fingers at the President and the coterie around him for his murder. Since 2006 fourteen journalists have lost their lives, 11 forced into exile, scores subjected to assault, arbitrary detentions or threats.

    August 31, 2009 Sri Lanka’s High Court awarded a 20-year jail sentence to J S Tissainayagam. He dared to write and expressed legitimate concern over the manner in which Sri Lankan forces were conducting the war against LTTE by cracking down on Tamil people. He was detained on March 7, 2008 for five months and then charged with publishing and distributing material which spread “false information to spur ethnic violence”. The court convicted him on three charges of conspiracy, violation of prevention of terrorism laws as well as sweeping emergency regulations. However, his conviction is based on his purported confession, which was extracted when he was in custody.

    During World Freedom Day in May, President Barack Obama said Tamil journalist, Tissainayagam, was an “emblematic example“of a persecuted journalist. Amnesty International has declared the journalist a prisoner of conscience.

  • smoulderingjin

    J Iscariot,

    I have no idea what you are talking about?!

    Perhaps a coherent explanation without pointless biblical drivel might help. This is a political discussion not a religious debate.

  • Talking Head

    Mawatha Silva,

    Yo, yo, Mawatha, are you a journalist? I never went to high school/college/university etc, but, I got my accreditation – or my street cred – from the gang “dawgs” down the street.

    Even the big gangsta dudes told us from the get go: “no run – on sentences”! So, what’s up with you, Mawatha? Do you think a hotshot like you is above grammar?

    Uh, oh…I could be wrong y’all. Some of my bros went to envelopmental journalism school. Did you go to the same school?

    Mawatha, you may find the mantra of my envelopmental journalist bros handy: cashola first, grammar second.

    God Bless!

  • Observer

    If you call Sri Lanka a Sinhalese eelam then US, UK, Australia are all eelams. lol
    Sri Lanka is for anyone who loves Sri Lanka. Ignore the insane extremists who from time to time may say silly things. They’re in every country. Like KKK in US. If you get hung up on those things then I’d say you’re wasting your life.
    Anyone who ever lived in Sri Lanka would wholeheartedly agree that many diverse communities live together peacefully everywhere except the previously LTTE held areas. Where if you weren’t Tamil you were dead! So cut the crap Disgusted.

  • Disgusted

    Observer,
    That was a swift move—one minute you’re arguing that we should all “appeal to our humanity in general”, the next, you’re excusing the KKK as a kind of natural phenomenon.

    Trouble is Sri Lanka has a very big KKK. In US, despite the KKK, they elected a black man as President. In SL, the KKK is large enough to get a cultural chauvinist elected President. What’s more, its HQ is the government. When do you reckon SL will have a Burger, or Malay or Tamil president?

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Disgusted >>

    No, I don’t think you are seeing where I’m going with this. Anyone with an iota of intelligence can see that it’s not easy to bring about reconciliation, so there’s little point in belabouring the obvious. But I merely suggested the only path I saw as showing a way out. What’s your solution? To drive in a greater wedge between two ethnicities and somehow magically expect a solution to come out of it? I’d like to hear your solutions, not pointless idealistic rhetoric that helps no one.

    The problem with people like you of course, all very proud and not willing to appeal to the “sheer kindness of the patronising little hearts of the majority”, have always had the poor in the vanni blowing themselves up for you while you had the luxury of strutting about crowing on about “how the boys were kicking arse” while never risking life or limb. I mean, what the heck kind of equality did the poor in the vanni have with anyone except for the equally poor Sinhalese in the rural south? So whose rights are we talking about here? The people in the Vanni or yours? And that’s been the story for ever and ever hasn’t it? Perhaps you’re the one who needs to read the history and evolution of this conflict?

    And thank your for disillusioning me of my “version” of humanity, but where were you when these same people were living in a de-facto state of Eelam, having their children forcibly conscripted for war and generally having their entire existence geared towards nothing but blowing themselves up for the “cause”? Where were you when people were being blown up in buses and a country of 21 million people were being held hostage to the political ideals of a nutty dictator? If you want to show your humanity by numbers, then I consider the temporary incarceration of a quarter million people an acceptable sacrifice for the resolution of a 30 year old problem which was driving an entire country into the gutter. Heck, maybe these people will actually survive to enjoy the rights that you so loudly demand for yourself, without being bombed and shelled to bits by successive govts.

    Contrary to your eager attempt to paint my stance with a racist brush, I’d be taking the same stance regardless of what race these people are. I don’t think you can fathom that race has nothing to do with it, not being able to think outside such a framework. I don’t have any illusions that what I’m endorsing is by any means the high-road. But unlike you, I don’t care to indulge in the luxury of making grand idealistic statements on how things “ought” to be done, while not risking life or limb. I understand enough to know that the common man, Sinhalese and Tamil have sacrified their very existence for a pointless war and we need some practical ways forward out of this mess. And removing excuses for the govt. to bomb and shell again is a practical way forward. If you have better practical suggestions, and not just some silly holier-than-thou rhetoric, you are welcome to come out with it.

    I also very clearly said that I fully expect equal rights for all. Never did I say that the minorities should not demand equal rights for themselves. What I did say is not to expect results while simultaneously driving in a racial wedge between these ethnicities and exacerbating the problem. Whether we like it or not, it will be the “patronizing little hearts” that can make a change, given the current demographic. But hey, it shouldn’t be too hard for you to go soft on the fears of the Sinhalese as gently as you do on the Tamils, if you aren’t really rooting for races now should it? Shouldn’t be too hard if you identify with all human beings in general? After all, be it Sinhalese or Tamil, why are you so upset about the patronizing hearts of one community in particular? Are we talking about saving lives or saving some wounded racist pride?

    Oh and I won’t even bother to go into your silly aside about the history and origin of this conflict 🙂

    Good day!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Someone >>

    Who wouldn’t like to see these people going home? So I’m whole-heartedly with you on it. The only nasty problem is that our idealistic notions must be tempered by the bleak reality which faces us. If you can outline good practical suggestions on ways forward, I’d be happy to listen to them.

    The only caveat? keep in mind that the present govt. very nearly risked the existence of the country and the lives of many thousands to bring about the demise of the LTTE. Are you saying that their precautionary measures, as paranoid as they may be, are entirely unjustified given the enormity of the sacrifices that were involved? From their point of view, who is to be be held accountable if any remaining hard-core LTTE cadres get their hands on hidden weapons caches and go berserk? At least they are taking responsibility and are accountable for the plight of the refugees but who is accountable when things go wrong? I think idealistic talk alone is insufficient in a situation like this. That’s why I’d like to hear good concrete alternatives. Not that hearing them is going to change a damn thing, after all, I’m not running the govt. But hey, humour me.

  • Disgusted

    Observer,
    Equal rights for all, eh? But it is acceptable that a quarter million people should sacrifice their freedom for the security of the rest of the country? You don’t see a contradiction in that? Equal rights for all but not for that quarter million?

    My solution is very practical, and I have already mentioned it. Since the majority community is the only one with political power and the only one that can effect change, I suggest that it looks deep into the mirror at its own attitudes. Because only when these are addressed and remedied, can there be any way forward. But what I keep seeing is that this community wants to do everything but look at itself. Whatever other solution is suggested will be a lie, like yours is—singing about equality but not even realising that you don’t have a clue what it entails. With equal rights, there is no question of one side patronising the other. No group of citizens in any country should have to rely on the patronising of another group. That’s not about racial pride—that’s about citizenship rights.

    Your argument relies on a lot of unfounded assumptions. What makes you so sure I’m not risking life and limb? What makes you think I was strutting around and crowing that “The boys are kicking arse”? I’m not suffering from any wounded racist pride either. I don’t think it escapes anyone that you’re fresh out of argument and have to resort to making personal attacks. It’s none of your business where I was when all this was happening. I doubt you were risking life and limb, so why should you insinuate that I would need to do that in order to have the right to speak?

    Only in Sri Lanka does speaking up for an extremely oppressed group constitute racism. On the other hand, incarcerating innocent victims of war who belong to only one particular community is not racism! Go figure!

  • Disgusted

    Apologies. The last post was directed at “Somewhat Disgusted”.

  • Such crimes have long been endemic in Sri Lanka. The government & military junta is committed only to a law of impunity!!

    61 yrs of self-rule (since independence from Britain in 1948) has but fuelled a pseudo-Buddhist dictatorship that has eliminated its Tamil population to second-class citizens.

    Dharmeratnam Sivaram
    Aiyathurai Nadesan
    Mylvaganam Nimalrajan

    make up a long list of Tamil writers killed by government death squads.

    Why, even Lasantha Wickrematunge, a leading Sinhalese journalist was assassinated early this year. His crime, being a conscience of truth!

    Tissainayagam also gave voice to the struggles of the oppressed, knowing the risks to his own life. As others before him, he too has paid a huge price!

  • Disgusted

    But just to add generally cos I’m tired of being accused of racism whenever I try to appeal for just treatment of oppressed minorities—whenever and wherever a dominant community wants to protect and extend its racial privilege and power, it becomes very convenient for it to insist that nobody should talk about race, and that everyone should transcend racial identification. That way, the racial privilege of the dominant community can continue to be perpetuated but in an invisible way, and it becomes something that nobody is allowed to talk about.

    So, just to say, I’m not conned by this fake high rhetoric of wanting everyone to appeal to a general humanity and wanting to transcend race. It’s just a strategy to reject the claims of minorities to equal rights and and to equal respect of their culture and their humanity.

  • Jehiel Iscariot

    Smoulderingjin,

    You said what? Biblical drivel! How can we have peace on earth when there are Sinhala Buddhists around us? Isn’t that what you and the congregation have always been writing and talking about? Don’t you despise those Sinhalese, who – not affiliated to our congregation – are truly saddened by the harsh sentence given to Tissainayagam? Tell me how they could speak on matters of human rights when this is strictly our domain.

    We are professional human rights activists who are paid for doing great work. Those Sinhala Buddhists, not belonging to similar organizations – or any organizations, for that matter – do not know the true meaning of human rights. They seem to think it’s all about equality, justice and empathy; however, we know better: human rights must always come with a dollar attached to the keester of any poor sod we try to bail out. No money, no honey!

    The Lord shall see us through!

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    @Disgusted >>

    “I don’t think it escapes anyone that you’re fresh out of argument and have to resort to making personal attacks.”

    If you re-read this thread, you’ll see that you’re the one who came out with the racist bullshit and accusing me of being one. I only highlighted the fact that the mirror you are so eager to hold out to other people is merely showing a reflection of yourself.

    “Equal rights for all, eh? But it is acceptable that a quarter million people should sacrifice their freedom for the security of the rest of the country? You don’t see a contradiction in that? Equal rights for all but not for that quarter million?”

    I already asked you this question. Where were you when these same people’s very existence was threatened for over 30 years from both sides by two evils? On the one hand by a fascist despot and on the other side by the shelling and bombing of successive govts? All of a sudden, your greatest concern is the short-term incarceration of those very same people? Like I said, I see the present situation as an improvement over the previous status quo. Not that it’s something to sit back and be joyous about. But since your urgency seems to be over this 6 month incarceration period, like a little child demanding candy, and the much more destructive 30 years of death and mayhem prior to that has been conveniently forgotten, I feel your concern would be better displayed if you stop the pointless wailing and lend what support you can to hurry the govt. on in ensuring their speedy resettlement. Making holier-than-thou proclamations is unlikely to help.

    ” With equal rights, there is no question of one side patronising the other. No group of citizens in any country should have to rely on the patronising of another group.”

    I think I mentioned several times that I more or less agree with you on this. I agreed that there were many attitudes that need to be fixed. But what you don’t seem to understand is that vilifying one party will not get you results. For one thing, the very act of vilifying an entire race of people is only a mirror of your own prejudices. If I characterized all Tamils as a bunch of racist terrorist bastards who are driving this country to ruin through their attempts to carve out their mono-ethnic ghetto, do you reckon that would be accurate? Yet, you don’t hesitate to similarly vilify an entire race of Sinhalese people as racist bastards and somehow expect them to blush in shame and mend their ways? Somehow, the Sinhalese are every so slightly more villainous aren’t they, hell-bent on oppressing the Tamils and all? Like I said, that mirror isn’t showing the reflection you expect.

    Finally,
    “That way, the racial privilege of the dominant community can continue to be perpetuated but in an invisible way, and it becomes something that nobody is allowed to talk about.”

    I didn’t mean to say that, and I clearly mentioned that earlier, so that’s pure assumption. At no point should anyone keep silent. What I don’t see a point in doing is condemning swathes of people while not expecting to be condemned yourself. We’ve come to this point at great cost. What we need to do now is understand the commonalities than unite us all and instill the concept of equality through that. Stop people identifying with races but with a Sri Lankan identity which transcends race. This is how the concept of equality works in any country. Try instilling the concept of equality by highlighting differences and condemning others and let me know how that works out for you.

  • Disgusted

    Somewhat Disgusted,

    I attacked the racist presumptions in your ARGUMENT. You tried to suggest that I was a racist for the Tamil cause by assuming that I was Tamil, and that I cheered the Tigers on. Those are personal attacks.

    Again, more presumption on your part—what makes you think that I am speaking up for Tamils only because of what’s happened over the past six months? I have a very clear idea of the history of the struggle. So I am very well aware of those six months and the barbed wire as the climax of a very long event.

    I don’t call every person in the majority community racist. However, the Tamils have been struggling for equal rights for a very long time. The resistance to giving them their rights is what has stretched out this struggle, leading to violence on both sides. Sri Lanka follows the democratic system. So while SL political leaders may have been horribly chauvinistic, we need to remember who voted them in. Within democratic systems, the leaders are moral expressions of the people—which is not true in non-democratic systems, where tyrants rise to power by militaristic means, not by the vote. SL Tamils did not vote for Prabhakaran; Sri Lankans voted for Rajapaksa. Political leaders in democracies run on platforms that appeal to the masses. The cultural chauvinism ticket has worked many times in SL. Your president is only getting away with his abhorrent behaviour because the people allow him to do so. The likelihood is very high that he will be voted in again, despite the people’s full awareness of his tyranny.

    You weren’t trying to silence me? What were all those “Where were you” questions about? Wasn’t it about telling me that I had no right to speak?

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    @Disgusted >>

    Allow me to quote yourself from a post early on: “You’re a case in point. You say airily that we should appeal to our humanity in general. You have no idea what that means.”

    I suppose when you are making presumptions, that’s attacking the ARGUMENT, whereas when I do it, it’s a personal attack. Here’s a suggestion, don’t take it personally.

    Secondly you said: “You weren’t trying to silence me? What were all those “Where were you” questions about? Wasn’t it about telling me that I had no right to speak?”

    The questions were used as a rhetorical device in asking you to question your assumptions.So far you seem to have missed my point, so I will list them out in point form.

    1. Why is it that you are willing to endure 30 years of absolute horror for these people in an existence which holds no future for them but you cannot abide a minute of the 6 months of incarceration till these people are resettled? Is it because, somehow, “freedom” under the despotic regime of the LTTE is superior to temporary incarceration under the “chauvinistic Sinhala Buddhist govt”? Can you give me a clear answer as to why you prefer one over the other for these people? That’s why I asked you early on, are you more concerned about the plight of these people or something else?

    2. Once again you seek to excuse the LTTE as not having been an elected body, but it’s a “moral expression of the people” that Rajapakse was elected to decimate them. So why is it not a “moral expression of the people” that the more affluent Tamils chose to fund terrorism and were happy to expend the lives of those poor hapless people in the Vanni to achieve their goals?

    3. I’ve agreed, many times over, that there are problems in Sri Lanka. But I highly doubt that your condemning stance is palatable to many or will bring results in sorting this problem out. The average Sinhala person should be understanding of the “terrorism” of the LTTE as a human reaction and the Tamil language craze of a Tamil as a human reaction, but the “Sinhala-Buddhist” nature of the Sinhalese is inhuman? Like I said, your racially biased approach doesn’t make sense to me and is only a reflection of your own attitude. Can you tell how other countries in the world unite under one nation? Is it not by shifting their allegiance from racial identities to a national identity? So explain to me again, how do you plan on sorting out this problem by driving in a wedge between races?

  • Disgusted

    Somewhat Disgusted,
    You have quoted me out of context. You fail to mention that after saying that you don’t know what it means to appeal to humanity, I pointed to contradictions in your argument with regard to your notion of humanity—thereby substantiating my claim.

    Still more assumptions? Okay, with regard to 1. Why do you assume that I was willing to endure 30 years of absolute horror and only care for the past six months? What do you know about me to assume that? When did I ever say that I preferred that SL Tamils be ruled by the LTTE than the SL government? Don’t put words in my mouth and then proceed to indict me.

    As for 2. You’re bringing up the behaviour of Tamils in the diaspora. I am talking about the Sri Lankan situation, and the racism of SL citizens—not of people outside the country. Do you think SL should hold their local Tamils responsible for what the diaspora is doing?

    And 3. The Tamils don’t have a “craze” about their language. They merely want it recognised, TOGETHER with Sinhala, a recognition that is due to them as citizens who, additionally, have a long history in the land. Unlike some Sinhalese, who want ONLY their language to be recognized. So please tell me who has a “craze” about their language.

    As for the LTTE, I have no interest in defending them. They took power illegally, by force, and they also killed their own community. The Sinhalese-dominated government, voted in largely by a majority Sinhalese population, on the other hand, has been persecuting its own minority citizens. I find that abominable, an extreme form of racism. Don’t you expect a government to behave better than terrorists?

    There is a great deal of difference between a minority group fighting for its rights (which is not racism) and an overwhelmingly large majority group exacting racial privilege over minority groups (which is racism).

    No, other countries do not expect their people to drop their ethnic identifications to take up that of national identity.They recognize that they must cater to the cultural needs of the various ethnic groups. Given such recognition, people are then able to identify with the nation because it supports them and understands their needs. When the state withholds that recognition of one’s ethnic culture, then the people naturally disidentify with the nation.

    And anyway, are you saying that the national identity would be based on no ethnic culture at all? Then, aren’t you left with a nation with no culture?