Doing the Right Thing: Freedom for Vanni IDPs

[Editors note: An edited copy of this article appears in the Sunday Times of 27th September 2009. This is the full version.]

It was a relief to hear that the government was at last responding to mounting domestic and international criticism, and had begun releasing the Vanni IDPs. Perhaps the shocking report in the Sunday Times on 6 September about human trafficking at the internment camps was partly responsible. An exemplary piece of investigative journalism, it revealed that up to 20,000 IDPs have been ransomed by desperate relatives who are able and willing to pay lakhs of rupees to secure their release, and have left the camps. This exposes so-called ‘screening’ for what it is: a cover for a lucrative flesh trade, carried out with the collusion of elements in the government and armed forces who get a cut out of it. It also explains why the camp authorities refused to release a one-year-old child to leave with its grandmother, in a case cited by Mr Anandasangaree: since an infant could hardly be suspected of being a dreaded LTTE terrorist, the reason was surely that a ransom had not been paid.

One would have to be naïve indeed to believe that those who have been ransomed are ‘innocent’ while those who remain are more likely to be LTTE cadres. On the contrary, anyone in the camps who had any value for the LTTE diaspora would certainly have escaped by now. Conversely, we can be sure that the unfortunate souls left rotting in these camps are of no interest to whatever remains of the LTTE. They are the victims, not perpetrators, of crimes. The UN too seems to have woken up to the fact that by funding these camps it is colluding, willy-nilly, in a crime against humanity – the denial of liberty and other fundamental human rights to a civilian population – and has made it clear that it cannot continue doing so much longer. UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lynn Pascoe reiterated the demand that the Vanni IDPs should be granted freedom of movement during his recent visit.

While we welcome the government’s announcement that it is willing to release IDPs from the camps to relatives willing to house them, it is a matter of concern that even while President Rajapaksa was telling Mr Pascoe that the reason why so few IDPs had been released to live with their relatives was that there were so few applications, the GA of Vavuniya was refusing to release IDPs to their relatives! This suggests that ransoms are still being demanded, and IDPs unable to pay them are not being released. The condition that IDPs should be released only to relatives makes sense for unaccompanied children, but why can’t adults go and live in rented accommodation instead of staying with relatives if they so choose?

Furthermore, the whole farce of ‘screening’, which has been dragged on for four months, should be stopped. The best proof that the LTTE is no longer a threat in Sri Lanka is the release of top LTTE cadres Daya Master and George Master, who were with Prabakaran almost to the very end. Would the authorities have released them on bail if there were any danger from the LTTE? Hardly. If they can be released, why are lakhs of innocent civilians being detained? Did the President avoid the UN General Assembly because he is unable to answer this question?

Release should not be confused with resettlement. IDPs who wish to go and live outside the camps should be free to do so. Those who wish to remain in the camps until their original habitats are de-mined and reconstructed should be allowed to remain, but should be free to move in and out of the camps instead of being imprisoned in them as they are now, and free to leave permanently as and when they wish. The only condition attached should be that they inform the international and local agencies which are providing for them whenever they leave for good, to make it clear that there is no need to feed them any longer. The resources freed by their departure could be used to speed up de-mining and reconstruction in the war-devastated areas, and will undoubtedly improve conditions for those who choose to remain in the camps. The visit of the UN Secretary-General’s envoy for refugee rights Walter Kalin provides an ideal opportunity to announce the release of all the Vanni IDPs and end this shameful chapter in our history.

Resettlement
Pressure on the government to ensure speedy resettlement of all IDPs should also be kept up. This should include not only IDPs who fled the recent fighting but also those who were displaced earlier, including Muslims displaced in 1990. Citizens’ committees would need to be set up to deal with problems such as those which occur where others are living in the homes of displaced people who wish to return. It will not be easy, but with goodwill, these problems can be resolved, and the sooner the better. All those who want to return to their original homes should be accommodated, if not in their original homes, at least in the neighbourhood, or in some other place of their choice. This is the only way to reverse the ethnic cleansing drives carried out by both the state and the LTTE, and rebuild integrated communities.

An unnecessary obstacle to resettlement is created by the government’s designation of some of the areas from which people have been displaced as ‘High Security Zones’ (HSZs), some of which double as ‘Special Economic Zones’(!). Earlier attempts to dismantle these were stalled by the argument that they were necessary so long as the LTTE had not been disarmed. Now that the LTTE has definitively been disarmed, they serve no justifiable purpose. The only way their persistence can be explained is as a form of ethnic cleansing, since in practically every case, the people displaced by them are Tamils and Muslims. A good example is Sampur in the East, where the inhabitants were driven out by shelling and are now being denied the right to return, while India colludes in this crime against humanity by undertaking to build a coal-fired power plant on their land. The process of resettlement cannot be regarded as complete until people displaced by HSZs have also been granted the right of return. But, some people argue, the LTTE is still a threat, and therefore we need to retain the HSZs, along with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) and Emergency provisions. Is this true?

Is the War Over? Or Was the President Lying?
Back in May, President Rajapaksa gave a speech in which he claimed that ‘our Motherland has been completely freed from the clutches of separatist terrorism’. He spoke of ‘the proud victory we have achieved today by defeating the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization’ and ‘the defeat of the LTTE and the breakdown of their armed strength’. There was no ambiguity about his words: he told us that the war was over, the LTTE defeated, their armed strength broken down. On this understanding, there were widespread celebrations, and the President gained enormous popularity.

There is no reason to suppose that the President was lying. Yet last month a senior government official was reported as saying that the LTTE was still capable of reorganising in Sri Lanka, and this month IGP Jayantha Wickramaratne reiterated that the threat of the Tamil Tigers is still alive in Sri Lanka, and they have not been completely defeated. On the face of it, these people are implying that the President was a liar when he said that Sri Lanka had been completely freed from separatist terrorism, and a fraud for claiming credit for the defeat of the LTTE. So why does the President tolerate such insults from his underlings?

The reason seems to be that the government is caught in the same trap of war-dependence which was the downfall of the LTTE. A war justifies repressive measures that would never be acceptable in peacetime, and the LTTE would have been unable to function without these. That is why it broke one ceasefire after another, let slip one opportunity after another to negotiate a just peace. But this had a disastrous effect on its support base. With all due respect to the soldiers who risked and lost their lives in the war, their courage alone would not have brought about the defeat of the LTTE. The Israeli armed forces are many times stronger than the Sri Lankan military, and the Palestinians’ arsenal is pathetic by comparison with that of the LTTE, yet the Palestinian resistance has survived for over sixty years. That is because it has the support of the people: precisely what the LTTE lost due to its dependence on war.

The last straw appears to have been the peace process which began in 2002. It ushered in an unprecedentedly long cessation of hostilities, and made it clearer than ever that the LTTE was incapable of handling peace. I was among those who criticised the 2002 CFA for allowing the LTTE a free hand to kill Tamil dissidents, conscript children and prepare for war, but in retrospect, I can see that it also served a positive purpose. Karuna’s defection was only the visible tip of a vast iceberg of discontent, as Tamil people who had hoped the LTTE would deliver them from fear, humiliation and violence realised that it offered them only more of the same. Their disillusionment and consequent withdrawal of support allowed the state to defeat the LTTE.

Now the Rakapaksa regime faces the same dilemma that Prabakaran faced earlier: if the war is over, how can it justify the measures that give absolute and unaccountable power to the state? So it has to invent an ‘LTTE threat’ in order to continue with policies that would be unacceptable in peacetime. But the Sinhalese people of Sri Lankaare not fools. They will realise, like the Tamil people before them, that this ‘threat’ is simply being concocted to justify disastrous economic and political choices. With all the fire and brimstone directed against foreign-funded NGOs, it is amusing to note that we now have a government that is dependent on foreign funding. The Ministry of Finance and Planning reported in August 2008 that the national debt stood at over 3 trillion rupees, with 1.39 trillion being foreign debt. The IMF loan has eased the immediate problem, but at the cost of getting us deeper in debt: in other words, we can repay our debts only by expanding them, placing an ever greater burden on the people. If the EU GSP+ facility is lost, the economy will plunge even deeper in the red. In this context, detaining lakhs of civilians and expanding the armed forces constitute unnecessary and ruinous expenditures.

The social and political costs are equally huge. Horrific reports of police brutality, including the murder of two boys, Dhanushka Aponso and Dinesh Fernando, at Angulana and the abduction and torture of student Nipuna Ramanayake by SSP Vaas Gunawardene and other officers of the Colombo Crime Division, are reminiscent of the murders of the schoolboys of Embilipitiya, and result from the same conditions: rampant impunity for crimes committed by politicians in power, the state security forces and the police. This impunity, in turn, is fostered by the suspension of the rule of law resulting from the PTA and Emergency Regulations, which can only be justified by claiming that the LTTE is still a threat.

The only way to reverse the degradation of our economy and polity is to acknowledge that the war is over and take the appropriate measures: release all the Vanni IDPs immediately, slash military spending, dismantle the paramilitaries, redeploy demobilised soldiers to civilian reconstruction tasks, replace military and ex-military administrators with civilian ones, dismantle the HSZs, resettle all displaced civilians including those displaced by HSZs, repeal the PTA and Emergency Regulations, restore democratic rights, especially to freedom of expression, and release J.S. Tissainayagam and others incarcerated for exercising this right. The best way to ensure that Sri Lanka retains its EU GSP+ facility is to do the right thing, failing which, the government must take full responsibility for the lost jobs and revenue.

  • http://mawathasilva.blogspot.com/ Mawatha Silva

    Thanks Rohini Hensman for your informative article.

    Quote

    Furthermore, the whole farce of ‘screening’, which has been dragged on for four months, should be stopped.

    Unquote

    The GOSL does have a dark plot to delay the release of the IDP’s.

    They say there are mines on every corner. But how does the army walk through the land looking for the armed combatants without being blown up if there were as many mines as Sri Lanka Army say.

    Lack of free media and independent organizations allows the government to report unsubstantiated figures.

    The opposition politician has gone on the record saying there is a drastic amount less mines in the country than the government is saying.

    The government stated there were approximately 80% of the mines from the time of hostile fighting; whereas this opposition politician believes there is only 20% of Vanni area is mined.

    I believe this is being used as an excuse to keep people in concentration camps, as is the thought that there is a terrorist hiding behind every palm tree.

    Recently the government had a huge media blitz with the announcement to the world media on the release of 6.000 of IDP’s from the concentration camps.

    Mavai Senathiraja, a parliamentarian from the Tamil National Alliance(TNA), however reported that in fact only 580 of these people were released, but were immediately re arrested and sent to another concentration camp.

    Media Minister Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena said it was not possible due to the extent to which they checked and rechecked for the umpteenth time while they were languished concentration camps.

    This contradicts the word of the Sri Lankan government official in the city who confirmed the need for the security checks begin all over again and this was delaying their release again.

    In my mind this is another excuse, as is the statement that they cannot be released before their houses are repaired.

    It is hard to believe this latest Sri Lankan Government’s fibs because of the past statements made by the president in Time magazine. He was reported saying there have been zero casualties of the war.

    Recently, one government official said, that there are no human rights violations in Sri Lanka while Palitha Kohona said only losers are prosecuted under UN war criminal tribunals. And he sees no point in offering a political solution to the Tamil people.

    The Sri Lankan Army told the world media of how it has conducted a huge hostage rescue, but tell me are these innocent people free or still living as hostages in concentration camps?

    The liberation of NE Tamil people?

    I t is a peculiar concept of liberation. In my opinion, Sinhalese liberators have now become the occupiers of the Tamil homelands.

    While they are using excuses to keep the 300,000 innocent civilians detained, many fear indefinitely , the Sinhalese are colonizing Tamil Homelands land and selling them off to the ‘investors-vultures’.

    Also, it is a shocking thing to see that the 188million dollars paid by the UN, as well as the many millions more donated to Sri Lanka by countries and organizations worldwide are being used to imprison the 300.000 Tamil minority

  • jansee

    Rohini:

    I may be wrong (or right), you remind me of Rajini, of what Rajini would have written if she were alive today.

  • Belle

    Rohini,
    Wow! You didn’t leave any stones unturned in this fabulous article! Sharp as always, and more.

    I recall saying in early June, just weeks after the end of the war, that the ransom to get people out of the camps was $US17K per person, and a few more thousands to get army escort to Colombo. Nobody commented on that, and I thought that was because everybody knew this was happening. Can you imagine that–more money to get army escort! Did the rate increase or fall later?

    That’s why the IDP situation is especially abominable–the people still there are paying for their poverty, for not having rich relatives. And now that you mention it, of course, many of those ransomed would have been LTTE folks. Their relatives would have been even more desperate to raise the money for the ransom before their identity was revealed.

  • Off the Cuff

    To Rohini Hensman

    The current IDP’s of the Vanni can be divided broadly into two groups.

    1. The genuine civilians who were brutalized and used as a Human Shield by the LTTE

    2. The former LTTE Cadres who brutalized the above group but are now wearing civilian clothing and has dispersed into the first group, shedding LTTE uniforms, AK47s and Cyanide capsules

    The moment one refuses to recognize that there are two distinct groups, rational thinking gives way to emotional thinking.

    Over ten thousand suspects falling in to the second group have been identified already. KP, immediately on assuming leadership stated that he has several thousand trained cadres at his command who can sustain a guerrilla war for years in SL.

    The funding and propaganda arms of the LTTE are still intact. It has no shortage of funds either. This country has had enough of Suicide terrorism. It would be unwise to disregard the signals emanating from the LTTE leadership.

    There is no excuse for corruption and when discovered must be stamped out totally. But it cannot be used as a rationale for generalized condemnation. I will take an example outside of Sri Lanka to make my point clear.

    Recently many law makers in the UK Govt were caught stealing from the Treasury via bogus claims. This does not mean that the Govt of UK is totally corrupt

    Another example though not recent but which is still ongoing and has violated all HR issues is how UK forcibly uprooted and expelled ALL the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands and dumped them in Seychelles. When the Chagosians won in the UK Courts, the Crown Prerogative was used to subvert it. This is an instance where an extreme HR violation has occurred. The UK received Polaris missiles from the USA at a HUGE discount for giving the depopulated Chagos Islands to establish one of the largest military bases outside of the USA. Both UK and USA Govts were complicit in this incident. I don’t hear GENERALIZED comments condemning either of the above govts for this incomparably shameful act.

    A simplistic view of the very real threat posed by the LTTE remnants would bring back terror attacks. At the same time overly paranoid view of the threat would not help in ameliorating the suffering of the IDPs falling into the first group quickly.

    There is another dimension to the problem that is generally ignored. The Armed Forces sacrificed 26,000 lives in this war. A larger number sacrificed limbs and have become disabled for life. The General Public suffered untold hardship to sustain a war to free the country of terrorism. There was a resurgence of patriotism in all this. If bombs go off again and the Public attributes it to the negligence of the Govt and start to vent their anger at the govt it won’t take much for the rank and file of the forces to join in starting a full scale civil war the likes of which would not have been seen in SL before.

  • punitham

    ”The only way to reverse the degradation … release all the Vanni IDPs immediately, slash military spending, … replace military and ex-military administrators with civilian ones, dismantle the HSZs, … repeal the PTA and Emergency Regulations, restore democratic rights, especially to freedom of expression, and release J.S. Tissainayagam ….”

    Orders too tall for the government that still insists, according to today’s presss release from the National Peace Council that i. Jaffna residents need special permit from the Army to leave Jaffna – the process of getting this permit is very arduous and they can buy only a return bus ticket and not a one-way ticket, ii. outsiders can fly into Jaffna only with special permission from Ministry of Defence – they cannot go to Jaffna by bus unless they have special permission from the Ministry.

    a group of detainees from Vavuniya Megacamp has been ”handed over” to the Navy to be kept in camps in the islets.

    Northeast is an open prison. Jaffna is an open prison within it. Islets are open prisons within Jaffna. There are camps in Vavuniya, Jaffna and Mannar where IDPs are detained compulsorily(= ”prison”). Sri Lankan prisons are better than these ”prisons” because water and food are available in reasonable quality and quantity and medical and sanitation facilies are reasonably acceptable.

    A completely new paradigm of conflict resolution will be necessary to resolve the consequences of monstrocities of this type.

  • http://mawathasilva.blogspot.com/ Mawatha Silva

    To-Off the Cuff
    September 28, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

    Quote

    The current IDP’s of the Vanni can be divided broadly into two groups.

    1. The genuine civilians who were brutalized and used as a Human Shield by the LTTE

    2. The former LTTE Cadres who brutalized the above group…

    Unquote

    And how long this unlawful incarceration of 300,000 Tamils is going to continue?

    How long this kind of propaganda the Sri Lankan Government is using to perpetuate its lies?

    Why is this government holding nearly 300,000 Tamil people in camps without any judicial or constitutional justification?

    You know , I know and the whole wide world knows that the immense majority 300,000 civilians in Sri Lankan Guantanamo-like internment camps are totally innocent.

    So, why they are still in the internment camps ??

    Imagine if it were your baby, your mother, your father, your brother or your sister imprisoned?

    Would you be ok with that knowledge?

    Or would you be hoping-there was someone out there trying to fight for the human rights of your oppressed relatives?

    But I am sure you, as the whole world, can see that the Sri Lankan government is using delaying techniques in order to keep the 300,000 innocent civilians within the walls of the concentration camps indefinitely , while colonizing all the Tamil Homelands.

    As Tamils’ land is being stolen and they are forced to live in terrifying conditions in concentration camps. Abused, beaten even killed, could you imagine living like this?

    When they will be lucky enough to leave the camps ( In my onion, many years from now) where are they to go?

    After the ‘helpful, caring’ Sri Lankan government has taken all that belongs to them (their homes, their land, their businesses- colonization), what is left except the constant fear, despair and struggle for life?

    What kind life is this?

    A life of a slave!!

    Your comments do not paint the Tamils as human beings, worthless of pity, freedom and basic human rights.

    Can you not see that these PEOPLE are suffering, constantly marred by pain and desperation.

    You seem to be completely void of one side of the information, choosing only to see the official point of view.

    I’m shocked that you have allowed your mind to be filled with such a biased view of the Tamils, tainted with assumptions.

    quote

    Another example though not recent but which is still ongoing and has violated all HR issues is how UK forcibly uprooted and expelled ALL the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands and dumped them in Seychelles. When the Chagosians won in the UK Courts, the Crown Prerogative was used to subvert it. This is an instance where an extreme HR violation has occurred. The UK received Polaris missiles from the USA at a HUGE discount for giving the depopulated Chagos Islands to establish one of the largest military bases outside of the USA. Both UK and USA Govts were complicit in this incident.

    Unquote

    Ahhhhh……. UK and USA UK and USA Govts and their HR violations excuse!!!

    What’s source for the goose is source for the gander.

    Why is it that whenever the topic of the 300, 000 people imprisoned within the Sri Lankan concentration camps is brought to attention, narrow minded people choose to dig up the past.

    Just because the UK forcibly uprooted and expelled ALL the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands and dumped them in Seychelles, does not justify the actions of the Sri Lankan Army (SLA).

    Although many terrible things have happened in the past, there is no justification for the treatment of the Tamil civilins.

    The Sri Lankan government says the Tamil Tigers have been wiped out, the war is over, and Sri Lanka is free from conflict.

    But if this is true, why there are so many innocents still imprisoned in Sri Lankan concentration camps .

    Is the war against the Tamil Tigers, or against the Tamil people ?

    I hope you remember when the Sri Lankan military said they conducted the biggest hostage rescue operation.

    Tell me why these people are still living like hostages inside their concentration camps.

    What are they being ‘protected’ from if the government has already defeated the Tamil rebels?

  • punitham

    Sorry;
    ”a group of detainees from Vavuniya Megacamp has been ”handed over” to the Navy to be kept in camps in the islets.”

    should read:

    ”A group of detainees from Vavuniya Megacamp has been ”handed over” to the Navy to be kept in camps in the islets off the mainland peninsula of Jaffna.”

  • Off the Cuff

    Hello Mawatha Silva

    My reply to Rohini Hensman begins with the following opening which you also quote

    The current IDP’s of the Vanni can be divided broadly into two groups.

    1. The genuine civilians who were brutalized and used as a Human Shield by the LTTE

    2. The former LTTE Cadres who brutalized the above group but are now wearing civilian clothing and has dispersed into the first group, shedding LTTE uniforms, AK47s and Cyanide capsules

    The moment one refuses to recognize that there are two distinct groups, rational thinking gives way to emotional thinking.

    Unquote

    Probably you did not understand what you extracted and quoted in your reply

    If you don’t recognize the existence of these TWO DISTINCT GROUPS you are giving into emotions

    Emotional thinking never gives a practical solution to ANYTHING

    If you are prepared to accept the presence of group2 within the Camps we can discuss further else it would degenerate into a worthless emotional tirade that will inflame Tamil as well as Sinhalese opinion.

    I do not wish to inflame either Ethnic Community that at a future date will destroy a young generation as it did in the past

    BTW their is no need to misrepresent your ethnicity. That’s a rejection of your parent’s heritage. Use a different nom de plume that will hide your name but will not misrepresent your ethnicity (which is cowardly)

  • Heshan

    The UN must have a LOT of money to keep funding these camps day after day. Conviction, no, money – yes.

  • punitham

    Political power (+ political patronage) +racial hatred+geography of an island+UN system where oppressive regimes can do damage control exercise for decades and where there is no representation of the oppressed + conflict-insensitive foreign aid + draconian PTA/ER + geopolitical interests of other countries + ”war-on-terror” + impunity of armed forces +oppression of journalism = disintegration of a nation

  • jansee

    Off the Cuff:

    Everyone knows and have accepted the possible existence of ex-LTTE combatants in the internment camps. Show me anyone or any group, UN, India, US that has disputed this. It is not that you wave a magic wand and hurrah you have revealed a mystery or secret that the world does not know and acknowledge but why keeping the children, the aged, women, etc. It flies flat on your face. A more disturbing report by Sunday Times reveals that those who had the money had bought their way out and a cynical comment relates to a one-year old child who could not leave the camp because “no money, no talk”.

    This regime boasted to the whole world that it was conducting the largest hostage rescue operation in the world. Does it now look like a hostage rescue operation? Rational thinking or otherwise is seriously deficit on the part of this regime and for you to look for it in others is nothing more than the silly game this regime and its supporters have been playing, just like kindergarten kids. When UN observers are taken on a ride to the camps, Parliamentarians (never mind whether ruling or opposition) are not allowed. When the former Chief Justice. Sarath N Silva visited the camps, he was so dumb-founded at the pathetic conditions that he expressed the utter lack of human rights of the IDPs. Pray tell me which part of the Constitution says that citizens can be deprived of their fundamental rights and locked-up in these camps like herds. A moot point is in the eyes of many, this regime is losing its credibility, and fast at that, and ought to measure-up to the standards of a democratic nation and not a tyrannical military regime.

    Unfortunately, this regime and its cohorts press the ethnic button when this issue is raised, that they must be LTTE supporters or Tamils. A large section of the opinion come from non-Tamils, including Sinhalese. It is a welcome point that, at least, you are sensitive to the feelings of both races.

  • Observer

    LTTE will be a threat for few years to come as the battle fires only died recently and many LTTE cadre mixed with the civilians out of cowardice towards the end. We all know that there are splinter groups hidden still. So Rohini, a victory declaration does not mean that the last of the enemies have been destroyed.
    After all Bush declared “mission accomplished” many years ago in Iraq and coalition forces and civilians are still dying there. What we do now is to purely to avoid an insurgency. Recipe for that is to weed out all hidden arms caches and screen out hidden carder. We’re doing what US couldn’t do. They surely could learn thing or two from our example.
    What the president means is that they will never be a threat to the extent they used to be. Or carry out terrorist activities against innocent civilians in a mass scale as they used to with suicide bombs.
    And about the IDP bribes, I am yet to see the proof.
    US is only too happy to work with corrupt governments when it benefits them
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6853120.ece
    So I suggest again the intl community that likes to butt in (west) to reevaluate them selves in a
    mirror.
    All these example are not from the past. Happening right now. They torture, they invade, they kill civilians with no regards, they desecrate cultures and they want to preach as well! What a joke!
    I’d have more respect if they just did their dirty deeds and just minded their own well being.

  • niranjan

    The IDP’s will be in the camps for years to come. At least some of them. I think quite apart from the Government the Sri Lankan public is in no mood to ponder on the IDP issue so soon after a war. Even in the years to come the public will not be interested in IDP’s. They will become a forgotten community like the Muslim IDP’s.

  • Thiru ven Paavai

    @niranjan
    You are right — Muslim IDPs are a first class example of what we Sri Lankans are capable of. Though Muslims held very good power in parliament, they could not do much to give those evicted from Jaffna (and many displaced in the East) a decent life.

  • punitham

    Many Sinhalese and some Tamils in the South do not know(or do not acknowledge) the scanty government economic investment in the Northeast for 6 decades and the economic embargo(of various forms and degrees) in the last 4 decades. It must be said that embargo and lack of investment overlap and complicate each other.
    I am not good at putting forward a ”whole” argument(for example like this author) but may I point out that I remember very well that in the 70s bank loans would be given only for investments outside the Northeast because some of my relatives and friends were enmeshed in a fight to get a loan.

    Sri lanka will keep getting GSP irrespective of all the reports by AI, HRW, ICJ, ICG, IBA, …. because there are multilateral ompanies that want fat profits and rich consumers that want cheap prices and western politicians can sometimes be pushed around the thumbs of businessmen and not under the criteria of ‘human rights for all.’

    Those who keep oppressing Tamils for sixty one and a half years call the westerners ‘white tigers’ one moment when they talk about human rights and then the next moment ask for GSP(and or employ PR companies to go backdoors).

    This ‘interconnected’ world favours the oppressors and the oppressed will have to decay and disappear. The world won’t have to wait for long to see that.

  • Off the Cuff

    To Rohini Hensman,

    Post # 2

    As observed in my first post addressed to you, corruption that allegedly exists in screening the IDP’s cannot be used as a rationale for generalized condemnation and as proof that the screening process is of no use, that would indeed be naive in view of KP’s statements and the identification of over 10,000 suspected cadres from within the camps.

    The alleged corruption should be investigated and totally stamped out unequivocally. The perpetrators must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and maximum punishment meted out.

    Screening is another matter altogether and is done to safeguard the 20 million inhabitants of this country who lived within the shadow of terrorism for nearly three decades from any further terrorist attacks. The proof that screening has worked is the very large number of suspected terrorists that were identified.

    This is what Dr. P Jeganathan wrote on May 28, 2009

    Most camps, including the massive (second largest IDP camp in the world) Manik farm (zone 1, 2, 3 & 4 which was/is under construction) were/are accessible to some 52 agencies, which include, Sri Lanka NGOs, INGOS and UN agencies. As of about two weeks ago, restrictions on the entry of agency vehicles carrying personal, but not supplies was imposed. Because allegedly, there were people being taken out, in these vehicles.

    Unquote

    This shows that certain IDP’s were being taken out of the camps surreptitiously by NGO’s INGO’s and UN agencies. Were they paid for it by the relatives or the Tiger Diaspora? Were they involved in the Flesh Trade as you call it? We will never know for sure will we?

    Elaborating on the above he further states

    Before this, these vehicles had access also. The deal offered was that relief supply trucks, with uniformed, unarmed, GoSL trooper escort, in the truck, would be allowed. Additionally now, other agency vehicles, if parked inside the camps, can be used to transport agency personal within the camps. Personal have to move out of these vehicles when they leave the camps, and use the vehicles they arrived in for road travel. I think this is a functioning deal, especially the first part. The second part of the deal is in progress. But it has not been so reported, I don’t think, internationally. Relief supplies have never been restricted, as far as I know.

    Unquote

    This is what Mr. Nesan Shankar Raji, Senior Leader & spokesperson, EROS & EDF who personally visits the camps had to say

    It may be that our people have to be temporarily housed in IDP camps until the areas where they are from are de-mined & cleared of weapons …. used by the LTTE. Civilians in these camps also need to be screened & their identities verified & cross-checked for national security purposes. This is the duty of any responsible Government in power as there are many ex-LTTE Intel agents … including former cadres who need to be rehabilitated before being re-introduced back in to ordinary civilian life. These camps constructed by the SL Govt are a far cry from Concentration Camps as they are being labeled by … LTTE supporters in the West …

    Unquote

    Large scale displacement of people occurred before, in the East, where 211,850 IDP’s existed. The difference between the East and the North was that the LTTE cadres moved North to rejoin the main body rather than disperse into the Eastern IDP population, making the task of resettlement easier.

    Strangely the intensity of pressure from the Tiger Diaspora (distinct from the Tamil Diaspora) was of a lower key then, than now.

    Is it an indication that the real reason for the intensified pressure in the case of the Northern IDP’s (about 40,000 more than in the East) is to get the LTTE cadres enlarged?

    This is what UNHCR has to say about resettlement of the Eastern IDP’s

    However, there was a measure of stability in the east of the country, where the Government organized a large-scale return operation in 2007. Provincial elections were held in the first half of 2008, and UNHCR assisted IDP returnees to the area with their reintegration. Between August 2006 and the end of July 2008, some 180,610 individuals had returned to Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts.

    Unquote

    Emotional questions are raised why children and women cannot be released. Let’s look at the past for answers

    February 4, 2009: A 13-year-old LTTE suicide bomber blew herself up after reaching the troops in a location north of Chalai injuring one soldier

    November 22, 1990: LTTE’s child soldiers saw their first recorded major action. In this attack on the Mankulam army camp, nearly a third of the Sri Lankan troops were killed

    December 4, 1997: gunning down of 200 elite government troops in Kanakarankulam, Wanni by the Leopard Brigade or Siruthai Puli which consists exclusively of children

    26 LTTE child soldiers, including four girls who surrendered to SL forces at Mankulam, in early October 1998, disclosed that the LTTE kidnapped and recruited them into its fighting forces. Some of them were picked up from their homes while others were hustled into a waiting vehicle

    Women pose a bigger security problem than men as a higher proportion of women were Suicide Terrorists

    The carnage from the following two incidents did not discriminate between, Tamil, Muslim or Sinhalese. Children, Women, Men, the old and the infirm

    January 31, 1996: A suicide bomber attacks the Central bank and kills 91 people and wounded 1,400 others

    April 21st 1987: Central Bus Stand in Colombo was bombed. Kills 110 civilians, Injures 298 and permanently disables 40. LTTE Cadres killed zero

    These two incidents out of the many, are mentioned to show what a hidden terrorist or a suicide cadre can do.

    The need to screen is justified even with the small sample of terror attacks stated above when weighed against the temporary loss of liberty of 260,000 (this figure may now be 220,000 if the announced release of 40,000 had actually taken place) against the possible carnage among 20,000,000

    Emotively this is inhuman but rationally sound.

    What is required is to do everything within the Govts power to provide all possible comforts to the IDP’s. Everyone who has genuine concern for the innocent people within the IDP camps and the 20,000,000 living outside it, should help the govt to do so as it did in the East without diverting its energies elsewhere

  • Off the Cuff

    Some people on this discussion board Oft quotes the a statement attributed to The former CJ Sarath Silva

    The actual report that speared in the Times group was as follows

    No truth in allegations of abuse and rape in camps: CJ
    By Ranjith Ananda Jayasinghe

    Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva has said there is no truth in the allegations that displaced people in welfare centres in Vavuniya, were being abused by the armed forces and that women were being raped.
    The comments followed a visit by the Chief Justice on Thursday, to centres where displaced people were being housed temporarily and where suspected terrorists were being held.

    He said the government has provided these people with the best possible facilities. Mr. Silva said, according to international law, it was wrong to call them Internally Displaced People (IDP) adding they had land and property and could go back and re-establish themselves in their villages.

    He said elderly women, pregnant women and children should be sent back as soon as possible from the camps adding that except for the LTTE suspects no one was being held against their will.

    The Chief Justice said he got the opportunity to speak to the suspects without the presence of the armed forces and they had told him they were forcibly recruited by the LTTE and that they would not fight again.

  • http://mawathasilva.blogspot.com/ Mawatha Silva

    jansee

    quote

    Everyone knows and has accepted the possible existence of ex-LTTE combatants in the internment camps. Show me anyone or any group, UN, India, US that has disputed this. It is not that you wave a magic wand and hurrah you have revealed a mystery or secret that the world does not know and acknowledge but why keeping the children, the aged, women, etc. It flies flat on your face.

    unquote

    i agree with you. It’s becoming a farce to hold so many people in concentration camps.

    You just can’t detain 300 000 innocent civilians for so many months because Sri Lanka Government thinks there may be some criminals amongst them.

    There may be many killers, pedophiles, thieves, robbers, pimps, etc., in Colombo– do you put a fence around it and let no one move until all the unsavory characters have been “weeded out” ?

    It is the most insane and preposterous attempt at so-called security measures the whole world has ever seen.

    If I happened to be in the vicinity and was imprisoned in a concentration camp for many, many long un-ending months because I was in the wrong part of the island, because it was my bad luck to be there, with no constitutional rights of free movement, unable to see my dear and near, living in the flimsy tents, queuing for days and days under scorching sun for food, water and other basic necessities and sharing a toilet with 1000 other victims – I would be extremely shocked!!!!!

    Thamil’s rights have been removed, and they live as animals in the Sri Lanka concentration camps.

    All of this is forced upon them by the Government of Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan Army while the Sinhalese majority lives a civilized life.

    300,000 people forced behind barbed wire fences, living in a squalor, appalling, unsanitary conditions, starving, disease ridden, emotionally and physically abused- this is not shelter provided by a “caring” Sri Lankan Government , rather a mass prison to innocent Thamil men, women and children.

    The IDPs are not war criminals, but war victims!!

    Also –OFF the Cuff-asked you about -“INTENSE HEAT” capable of “BURNING LIVE TREES TO STUMPS” was generated by Air burst and Ground burst mortar attacks allegedly carried out by the Sri Lanka (SLA).

    OFF the Cuff’s quote

    Remember Quote

    Now about the Times of London story….

    Remember that story where “INTENSE HEAT” capable of “BURNING LIVE TREES TO STUMPS” was generated by Air burst and Ground burst mortar attacks allegedly carried out by the SLA. The heat produced could not even burn cloth and plastic tents, let alone Live Trees, as pictures published in that story by the Times proves

    Unquote

    The above is my ANALYSIS it’s neither my words nor my pictures.
    This is what they wrote

    Air-burst and ground-impact mortars can cause wide destruction and reduce trees to burnt stumps — one of the sights seen frequently in The Times photographs.

    This is the voice of their Foreign Editor explaining the pictures
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6383477.ece
    Let alone Burnt trees you can’t even find a Burnt tent

    It is a PRIME example of an LTTE sponsored shameless FABRICATION
    In spite of your pretentious comment “Disproving” takes more than just innuendo and denial or altering history.

    Going by the way you fabricate statements as you go along you don’t have what it takes

    What, no comment on the equitable issue?

    OFF the Cuff’s unquote

    Well, I can comment on his assertions and they are WRONG!!!

    I check the timesonline link he kindly provided in his post. I also, found a horrific image of a scorched earth, metal buses were burned thru and vegetation obliterated by fire due to indiscriminate shelling by Sri Lankan military of the rebel-held zone, resulting in soaring civilian casualties.

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ij1_uLxfg2vfQJPXWGIih40JlLjQ

    Further, in the timesonline article I’ve read that figure is based on the growth in the intensity of shelling in May, resulting in an average of 1,000 civilian deaths every day. Below some extracts from timesonline article

    The Times has acquired a full set of the documents showing the previously unreleased breakdown of the weaponry that caused each death and revealing the scale of carnage from shelling which defence experts said could have come only from the (Sri Lankan) army’s side.

    The UN figures until the end of April, which are based on death records, show that 2 per cent of deaths in January, the beginning of the final offensive, were caused by gunfire and more than 80 per cent by (Sri Lankan Armed Forces’) shelling.

    Three independent defence analysts who examined photographs of (Sri Lankan) army and rebel firing positions taken over the no-fire zone (NFZ) confirmed that the range of the rebel weaponry and the narrowness of the zone make it unlikely that rebel munitions caused significant civilian casualties.

    Charles Heyman, a former army officer and editor of the magazine Armed Forces of the UK, said. “It looks more likely that the firing position has been located by the Sri Lankan Army and it has then been targeted with air-burst and ground impact mortars.”

    Mortars are an indiscriminate weapon employed usually to take out groups of fighters on an open battlefield. Use of imprecise weapons of this kind in densely populated civilian areas is a war crime under Common Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Convention — to which Sri Lanka is a signatory.

    Mortars — the Sri Lankan Army has 81mm, 82mm and 120mm rockets — can detonate on the ground where the impact would be absorbed partially, or between 100ft and 200ft above the ground, causing a mass of shell fragments.

    According to a former Sri Lankan army officer, the Tamil Tigers did not possess air-burst mortars. Their heavy weaponry had a range of 7 to 27km, meaning that most of their fire would have fallen outside the zone.

  • jansee

    Off the Cuff:

    Sometimes I do pity you. The newsmedia in SL is living in fear of the next murder and all you get these days are loads and loads of govt cpntrolled news. Read this news:

    “Vanni IDPs sheltered in transit centres in Cheddiku’lam cannot expect justice under the Sri Lanka’s law. Law of the country does not show any interest on these IDPs. I openly say this. The authorities can penalize me for telling this,”

    said Sri Lanka’s Chief Justice Sarath N. Silva when he addressed a public meeting which followed the ceremonial opening of a court complex at Marawila in Negombo district Tuesday. These transit centres are described as internment camps by human rights activists.

    Sarath N. Silva further said:

    I visited ‘relief villages’ where Vanni IDP families are sheltered. I cannot explain their suffering and grief in words. It is an utter lie if we continue to say that there is only one race and no majority or minority in the country. I visited Cheddiku’lam camps where IDP families live. I cannot explain the pathetic situation they undergo. I was unable to console them. They survive amid immense suffering and distress.

    We construct massive building on our side. But these IDPs live in tent-shelters. Ten IDPs live in one tent-shelter. They could stand straight only in the centre of the tent shelter. Their neck will break down if they move to aside of the tent-shelter.

    IDPs are seen waiting in queues, extending from 50 to 100 yards to take their turn to answer a call of nature. This is the life of Vanni IDPs in Cheddiku’lam camp

    I attempted to smile at these IDPs. But it was without success. I failed to express my feeling towards them. I was unable to tell them that we also were crying with them for their suffering. I was unable to tell them that I would supply new clothes to them.

    They should be provided with enough relief. We would be blamed if we fail to supply them with enough relief.

    They cannot expect justice from the law of the country. Their plight and suffering are not brought to the court of law in our country. I openly say this. I will be penalized for telling this”,

    Of course, no mainstream news would ever dare to publish this and in the same way UN Pascoe’s statement was twisted, am I surprised you, too, just try your luck in spinning.

    I also wonder why is the SL regime being so selective in allowing those from EROS & EDF and not from other parties who had wanted to visit these camps. After all, they too have legitimate rights, don’ they or is this selective process in place to weed out any adverse reports?

    Yes, we all know the atrocities of the LTTE and there is no love towards them for their bloody atrocities but how come you are so lopsided that you never bother to mention of the heinous crimes and atrocities by the SL regime? Call me what you want, but one crime that the LTTE has been pinned down is that of rape which the SL regime can hardly claim innocence. For all the waffling on being a disciplined army, there is certainly a trust deficit.

    Murders and torture has sort of become a SL way of life. Terrorism was added on to that list. It is the duty of the country’s leadership to protect the people as they would and should have in the case of murder of Lasantha and others in the South. As the govt now acknowledges, the terrorist threat would be existent for some time to come and for that you do not lock up 300,000 innocent people in internment camps. Would it be easier to lock up the Southern population in gated and fenced camps so that giving protection to them would be easier? What is good for geese should be good for the gander, too, don’t you think so?

  • jansee

    Off the Cuff:

    Sorry, correction:

    “but one crime that the LTTE has NOT been pinned down is that of rape”

  • Off the Cuff

    Hello Mawatha Silva

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to expose the Times story in detail

    These are the stories in question

    1. Times photographs expose Sri Lanka’s lie on civilian deaths at beach
    By Catherine Philp and Michael Evans datelined May 29, 2009
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6383477.ece

    2. The hidden massacre: Sri Lanka’s final offensive against Tamil Tigers
    By Catherine Philp in Colombo, date lined May 29, 2009
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article6383449.ece

    3. Slaughter in Sri Lanka
    Evidence gathered by The Times has revealed that at least 20,000 Tamils were killed on the beach by shelling as the army closed in on the Tigers
    Date lined May 29, 2009
    No byline but the video carries a commentary by the Foreign Editor Richard Beeston
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/leading_article/article6382706.ece

    The first thing that one notices is that there are THREE stories on the SAME DATE with different headlines, using the same data

    Three pictures are used in their video presentation
    1. a part of the NFZ
    2. Picture of an LTTE grave yard (not from the NFZ)
    3. another part of NFZ showing earth mounds (possibly graves)

    This is a transcript of Foreign Editor Richard Beeston’s commentary

    “In the first photograph you can see the remains of what was a refugee camp for some 100,000 Tamil civilians. In the center you can see the destroyed dwellings these wretched people were trying to live in. To the South out of the shot is the sea. Between them and the sea are Tamil Tiger gun emplacements you can see them they are mortar pits circular, bottom center, bottom right you can see what we believe is a command center, ammunition trucks, so effectively you had a population, the size of a large football stadium packed with civilians trapped here for weeks upon weeks under the merciless bombardment of the govt offensive”

    Note – the mortar pits, command center and ammunition trucks are highlighted by graying out the background but they fail to highlight any ground impact bomb crater or any “Burnt Out Tree Stumps” that they claim were “one of the sights seen frequently in The Times photographs.” Very strangely this allegedly frequent sight, is no where to be seen in ANY of the three photos used by them (see story 1 para 19). In fact you can see that ALL vegetation is intact and still standing

    Transcript continues…
    “In the second picture we can see what looks like a strange crop in the center of the photograph these are in fact we believe Tamil tiger graves, hundreds of them neatly laid in the fields buried presumably near where they fell.

    Note – This picture is not of a LTTE grave yard WITHIN the NFZ. It is an LTTE graveyard far removed from the NFZ. Observe the COMPLETE absence of any war damage. There are no bomb craters. Even the vegetation is intact, not a single bush, let alone a tree, shows signs of ANY damage. This UNRELATED photograph has been surreptitiously introduced to hoodwink the reader

    Transcript continues…
    (focus moves now to the third photo)
    “In contrast to the Tamil Tiger dead, in this photograph is what we believe are the civilian mass graves down to the right these will be men women and children killed in the fighting and hurriedly buried by their relatives in between lulls in the onslaught”
    End of transcript

    Note the use of the words “In contrast to the Tamil Tiger dead” Mr Beeston is DELIBERATELY misleading the reader into believing that the LTTE buries their dead in “Lines and Columns” even during “weeks upon weeks under the merciless bombardment of the govt offensive” which forces civilians to bury their dead “in between lulls in the onslaught” haphazardly but allows the LTTE to bury their dead at leisure, in ordered rows and columns, completely unaffected by the same bombardment of the same area!!!!

    The Times states
    “It looks more likely that the firing position has been located by the Sri Lankan Army and it has then been targeted with air-burst and ground-impact mortars,” said Charles Heyman, editor of the magazine Armed Forces of the UK” (see story 2 para 7)

    “Air-burst and ground-impact mortars can cause wide destruction and reduce trees to burnt stumps — one of the sights seen frequently in The Times photographs.” (see story 1 para 19)

    This statement means that this type of intense bombardment creates an intense HEAT capable of burning down LIVE trees to Burnt Stumps

    Strangely, such an intense heat had failed to burn down the FLIMSY TENTS. The story teller wants you the reader to believe that Plastic and Cloth tents cannot be burnt even by an inferno that can burn “Live trees to Stumps”

    These Times stories contradicts itself big time. Someone some where has been on the uptake big time. LTTE millions at work.

    These fabrications add insult to injury as these people were flown over the NFZ by the SL Govt in Air Force copters. Not something a govt would do IF it wants to hide the NFZ from sight.

    Blatant and damaging fabrications such as this and Channel 4 is sufficient reason for the Govt to shut out such media institutions. Media freedom or freedom to slander?

    Note –
    Mawatha Silva has a special relationship with Times and is one of its most prolific comment writers; he is a Tamil posing as a Sinhalese and projects the trash he writes as views of a Sinhalese to foreigners but has no success in fooling Sri Lankans. Why he is so ashamed of his Tamil ancestry is a mystery

    Times on line moderators blocks dissenting views and very few get published. It could be due to either of two things.
    1. The moderators are mainly Tiger sympathizers or
    2. They are in the pockets of the LTTE

    This writer wrote to Times on line challenging their reports on Sri Lanka. An automatic reply was received but nothing got published. They were afraid of the truth.

  • Leanie Meanie

    My silence was not because of disagreement with Rohini’s opinion. It was just the feeling “what is the use of saying this, no one has the sense to listen”. The past two weeks lack of anything happening shows that. We Sri Lankans don’t have the sense and humaneness to see the need to do what people like Rohini are saying. May I observe:

    (a) “The best proof that the LTTE is no longer a threat in Sri Lanka is the release of top LTTE cadres Daya Master and George Master”.
    I agree with you Rohini but I do also speculate whether the truth is more complex than just that. I had assumed that the Masters might have just agreed to co-operate and agreed to tell whatever lies our authorities want them to say. For that reason I have been waiting to hear that yet another honest activist or media personnel or lawyer or such, has been charged with terrorism based on information supposedly received from the Masters. Or perhaps some opposition politician who is a threat to the present government. Anyone whose integrity is a threat to our present ruling coalition. I speculate if such would the real reason for such wonderful treatment meted out to the Masters.

    (b) I observe now, two weeks later, that there is hardly any news about any more IDP releases. It would be amusing, if it was not so serious a matter, to compare Rohini’s valid suggestion “slash military spending”, to the contrasting and mind boggling increase in military spending few days ago.

    (c) “redeploy demobilised soldiers to civilian reconstruction tasks”. I agree. Yet, look at where these soldiers are. Look at Colombbo streets, day after day. We let our country use up armed forces manpower in pointless exhibitions at the BMICH, which only serve to win votes and public brainwashing. Those soldiers could all be helping in the demining to help the IDP people to go home soon.

    Where are we going, I worry very much. We Sri Lankans need our hearts to be educated, and stop being brainwashed. I say it again: “Oh, what is the use.”

  • Pancharatnam

    The end of your article reads, Quote

    The only way to reverse the degradation of our economy and polity is to acknowledge that the war is over and take the appropriate measures: release all the Vanni IDPs immediately, slash military spending, dismantle the paramilitaries, redeploy demobilised soldiers to civilian reconstruction tasks, replace military and ex-military administrators with civilian ones, dismantle the HSZs, resettle all displaced civilians including those displaced by HSZs, repeal the PTA and Emergency Regulations, restore democratic rights, especially to freedom of expression, and release J.S. Tissainayagam and others incarcerated for exercising this right. The best way to ensure that Sri Lanka retains its EU GSP+ facility is to do the right thing, failing which, the government must take full responsibility for the lost jobs and revenue. Unquote.

    I would say DAM SMART Tiger tails are showing.

    Sri Lanka was a homeland for all peace and harmony loving people until a small percentage of the Tamils began to terrorise the whole country with their Eelam terror fantasy during the past 30 odd years. The track record they left behind is well known.
    The war is over does not mean that those Tamil Terrorists have given up the idea of using Sri Lanka as their Urinal. They continue to pose a serious threat to the national security and interest of the country. What they now try to do is to creep back into the civil society under some disguise and start all over again to make a Tamil Urinal out of Sri Lanka.
    We shall never allow that to happen again.
    The Security forces are the Backbone of Sri Lanka and everything will be done to keep them exactly where they are as long as we need them. The solution for Sri Lanka is a strong leadership with strong and disciplined security forces. If these leaders and security forces were good enough to crush down the terrorists and liberate the country from becoming a Tamil Urinal, they will be good enough to rule the country for the next 100 years. Those who made a mockery out of Parliamentary democracy will not fool us again.
    Prabhakaran imported thousands of Tamils from TN and settled them in the North and North East to fill in the space left by the Singhalese and Tamil families that were killed or chased out. Those who are in IDP camps cannot be released until they are screened. The IDPs are no business of any outsiders.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Rohini Hensman,

    It is over a fortnight since I posted the following two responses to your article.

    Hope you will spare your valuable time to oblige with a response soon in order to bring out the multifaceted nature of the problem.

    An overly simplistic view would not do justice to such a complex issue.

    Sincerely
    Off the Cuff

    September 28, 2009 @ 1:34 pm
    http://www.groundviews.org/2009/09/28/doing-the-right-thing-freedom-for-vanni-idps/#comment-9399

    October 1, 2009 @ 1:09 am
    http://www.groundviews.org/2009/09/28/doing-the-right-thing-freedom-for-vanni-idps/#comment-9468

  • Ossie Corea

    The Tamil Tigers are moving into new “Jungles”, but their stripes, terrible stench as well as their ultimate goals remain unchanged.
    What they try to do here is to brake the strong back bone of Sri Lanka, namely the President and his Army. They are once again infiltrating into the civil society with their sinister ideas.
    They will not get through with all their tricks.

  • doomed to repeat it

    Oh come now, Ossie Corea. Sinister ideas? Peace? Democracy? Liberty? Equality? Justice? Prosperity? These are sinister ideas? That’s what just about everyone on this Board wants for our country, even if we disagree on how to get there. Then are we all, even us Sinhalese, secret Tigers?

    I was able to get into Tigerland once. I can guarantee that these concepts were NOT part of the way the LTTE did things; frequently is was the opposite.

    So please do not call me sinister or tricky or even smelly because I want peace, justice, prosperity, etc. for Sri Lankans – ALL Sri Lankans.

  • doomed to repeat it

    BTW, Ossie Corea. The army is not the Presidents; it does not belong to him. It is our army. We are the employers; they are our employees. The President might give the specific orders through his generals, but it is most particularly not “his.”

  • Heshan

    The Army is very much a Rajapakse family business. The Defense Secretary is Gothabaya. All weapons procurements are done through a Rajapakse-owned company. What more do you want?

  • Ossie Corea

    doomed to repeat it …
    None of you spoke about Peace Democracy Liberty Equality Justice Prosperity
    when the LTTE were indiscriminately killing since 30 years, but just the day after the Warmongers were killed you were quick to accuse the GOSL.
    Wha Sri Lanka needs is a strong leadership and a efficient Army to protect it’s citizens. Without that strong backbone of the country the nice words you mentioned above is worth to be flushed down the toilet. They are the words used by political agitators whom we have killed or put behind bars. They are a threat to the national security and interest of 21 million Sri Lankans. The priority of the GOSL is to protect the rights of those 21 million people, and putting political agitators behind bars or killing them is justified.
    Sri Lanka laid the foundation to Peace by killing the warmongers. If the government fails to eliminate them, it will be the people who will be lynching them.
    Those who executed over 70.000 innocent civilians, who are responsible for the sufferings of hundred thousands of others, those who campaigned to accuse the GOSL of Genocide, Discrimination etc. etc. will not escape unpunished. We will get at them.
    Not long ago did that mawatha silva (a P.A who is ashamed to use his Tamil name), called for a boycott of Sri Lankan products on the web forums of the CBC and Times. He and his friends called us Singhalese Buddhist racists just to name a few of the terminology he used, and the same guy is preaching Democracy and Freedom here. I know a whole lot of them since quite some time. Below is the latest news that I copied from the Daily News FYI.
    Twenty-two cadres of the suspected Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) went on trial Monday for running an extortion racket among Paris’s ethnic Tamil diaspora. The defendants include Nadaraja Matinthiran, the alleged leader in France of the LTTE, which is accused of extorting some five million euros (US $ 7.4 million) from the country’s 75,000 Tamils.
    Also in the dock is a group called the Tamil Coordination Committee in France, believed to be a legal front for the LTTE, which has been listed as a terrorist organisation by the European Union since 2006. Experts believe the Tigers exert a controlling influence over the political life of the 1.5-million-strong world Tamil diaspora, levying a “revolutionary tax” based on household size and income.
    Most of the Paris suspects were arrested in April 2007 and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism, financing of terrorism or racketeering to finance terrorism. Defence lawyer Gilles Piquois called the case to be thrown out, arguing that the LTTE was not considered a terrorist organisation by the Sri Lankan Government in 2007 when the charges were brought. The trial is set to run until October 28.
    APF Unquote.

  • Heshan

    “Wha Sri Lanka needs is a strong leadership and a efficient Army to protect it’s citizens.”

    “Strong” is an imprecisely defined condition. What SL desperately needs is a *different* kind of leadership. A leadership that does not utilize force and intimidation to achieve its own ends. In which case, there is no longer any need for an “efficient Army.” SL is beginning to resemble Burma; a military junta imposing martial law over a poverty-stricken rural population.

  • doomed to repeat it

    Ossie Corea, I see your point. But it isn’t as simple as that. There was plenty of criticism of the LTTE, by Tamil people even. The LTTE killed a whole lot of Tamils who disagreed with them. It’s just that all the pro-LTTE propaganda was so much louder and more “professionally” manufactured. The emphasis on LTTE propoganda was actually beneficial for both sides, as widespread acknowledgment of Tamil disagreement with the LTTE would make the situation more complex for everyone; it’s easier to be able to point to a whole group and label them as enemies, or as your constituents. Humans like their concepts to be simple and dislike complexity. Both sides benefited from the erroneous claim that the LTTE represented all Tamils.

    Of course the LTTE never was about Justice, and so on. That was all just words without intention, and they were, in essence, a brutal dictatorship. As I said, my one trip into Tigerland amply illustrated this to me. A (Colombo) Tamil member of the group even said “THIS is Tamil Eelam? No thanks!”

    Our government, however, says it is a democracy with democratic principals. That puts us to a higher standard than a megalomaniac generalissimo or his remaining overseas minions. Or are we no better than the LTTE, all words but no substance? I don’t believe this: we are better than they were.

    Just because people like Matinthiran have co-opted these concepts for their own use doesn’t mean the concepts are now invalid. Nor does it mean that those of us who believe in them are secret Tiger agents.

    My feelings, ideas, whatever you want to call them, come from an extremely patriotic view of Sri Lanka. I believe deeply in the people and country of Sri Lanka. This doesn’t change because I think that right now our government is headed in the wrong direction. Nor does this mean I have to accept what I’m told on blind faith.

    Look, a lot of the issues we’re talking about on Groundviews are the same types of issues that were used by the LTTE to justify the war. My worry is that if we repeat the same actions as the past we will end up with another war. It seems like a no-brainer; we need to do things differently this time around. Then, perhaps, we’ll get different results.

    There is no guarantee of success; there are no guarantees in life for anything except birth, death, and taxes. However, isn’t the vision of a prosperous, free, harmonious Sri Lanka worth the gamble?

    In my opinion, just because someone else is a hypocrite is not justification for us to be hypocritical. We are better than that.

    Generally speaking, countries with strongman leaders who control the security forces end up as dictatorships, and if things continue the way they seem to be, such things as Justice etc. will FOR SURE go down the toilet, as you put it. Strongman dictatorships do not preserve these ideals; they destroy them.

    This is our window of opportunity, as a country, to live up to the high ideals written down in our constitution and laws. Let’s embrace these ideals. Let’s cast aside fear and go for it.

    Perhaps it’s a matter of perspective. I just don’t understand how, for example, equality is a threat to the nation. Please explain. I’m being serious not sarcastic; I don’t understand your perspective, and maybe if I did then we might even find agreement on some things.

    Damn, I’m late for work. Gotta go. Thanks for reading this, Ossie. I hope we can have a useful dialog.

  • Profiler

    People should worship Mahinda Rajapaksa and Gen. Sarath Fonseka for ridding the country from thos LTTE terrorists.
    All what these journalists did was hate-mongering against the Government and they deserved the punishment given to them, there are more to follow. They all are enemies of Sri Lanka.