IDPs: Detainees and Escapees

“Nearly 20,000 escape from IDP centres was the headline of an English language broadsheet yesterday.  The strap line read –“Most believed to be LTTE cadres”.  The article quotes the SSP for Kandy Ranjit Kasturiratna as saying this at a meeting of the Kandy District Coordinating Committee chaired by the Chief Minister of the Central Province Sarath Ekanayake on Monday.  The article goes on to say that according to the SSP special teams have been dispatched from Kandy to the IDP camps to conduct investigations.

This is not the first time this information has been reported in the media.  Since the source of this information is a senior Police officer, we can assume that the information is reliable and accurate.  Given the detention of over 250,000 IDPs in Menik Farm and many more in other camps on the grounds of their security and safety, this is indeed shocking.  Tens of thousands, most of who are believed to be LTTE cadres escape whilst ten times as many remain confined in camps to be screened for LTTE membership and sympathies!  Is this a case of locking the stable door once the horse has bolted?  How could this have happened?  Who is involved?  Security forces? Para-militaries? Surely not?  The former are supposed to be outside the camps and beyond reproach; the latter are supposed to be nowhere near the camps, leave aside inside them.

It is information such as this, which truly informs the average citizen about what is really happening in respect of the most important and pressing issues facing the country – the situation of the IDPs and national security.  Hopefully, as would be the case in a vibrant functioning democracy, this would lead to greater public awareness and debate about the situation of the IDPs and the need to address it as the urgent national priority it is as well as the state of national security.  Furthermore, since the question of accountability is much in the news these days, accountability for what is clearly an egregious security lapse must surely follow.  The prospect of thousands of LTTE cadre at large is indeed a horrific prospect in the aftermath of a decisive military victory and a country on the cusp of a post-conflict phase of peace and reconciliation and unity.

What is also revealing is that the bulk of the nearly 20,000 who have escaped from IDP centres are “believed” to be LTTE cadres.  That this could be the case after the decisive military defeat of the LTTE is quite frankly mind boggling, particularly since the figures put out by the defence hierarchy of LTTE cadre strength over the years and in the course of the war, did not lead one to believe that it ran into anywhere near tens of thousands.  Be that as it may, no doubt the regime with its proven expertise in security matters and heightened security consciousness will get to the bottom of what appears to be an uncharacteristically egregious lapse on its watch.

In the meantime, the fate of the over two hundred thousand IDPs detained in camps remains to be decided.

The statement of the UN Secretary General’s Special Representative on the Human Rights of the IDPs Walter Kaelin is instructive in this context and worth quoting at length.  Walter Kaelin recently concluded a visit to Sri Lanka, soon after that of the UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs Lyn Pascoe.  Kaelin in a press release of 29 September states that he is:

…..impressed by the Government’s massive demining and reconstruction efforts that I witnessed in the Mannar rice bowl.

He goes on to say:

The IDPs should be allowed to leave these camps in Northern Sri Lanka with their difficult and risky living conditions. The IDPs should be allowed to leave these camps and return voluntarily and in freedom, safety and dignity to their homes. If this is not possible in the near future, the displaced shuld be allowed to stay with host families or in open transit sites.

He notes that the camps were not set up to deal with heavy rains and the approaching monsoon and “whilst appreciating that his interlocutors in the Government shared these goals, called upon the Government to translate its commitments into action without further delay”.

According to Walter Kaelin:

Restoration of the freedom of movement is important to gain the confidence of the Tamil community and enable the building of a sustainable peace. ….  In this context an incident reported by the Sri Lankan Army on 26 September involving the use of firearms to control a group of internally displaced persons trying to move from camp zone to another that resulted in injuries to two persons raises serious human rights issues.  It also underscores how interning people in large overcrowded camps not built for prolonged stays is in itself a factor detrimental to security.

On internment he points out that:

According to international law, legitimate and imperative security concerns may justify the internment of civilians during the height of a conflict, but it must not last longer than absolutely necessary to respond to these security concerns. Internment decisions must further be made on an individual rather than a group basis. Those who are not released must be informed about the reasons on an individual basis and be given a genuine opportunity to have the decision reviewed by an independent body.

Whilst noting that there have been vast improvements in the security situation, Kaelin emphasized that:

…immediate and substantial progress in restoring freedom of movement for the displaced is imperative if Sri Lanka is to respect the rights of its citizens and comply with its commitments and obligations under international law.

In the press release, Walter Kaelin makes a number of suggestions including improvements in the screening process in the direction of greater transparency and against  “renewed confinement and screening in districts of return”.  Furthermore he suggests parallel options of return to homes, to host families and open relief centres in transit areas.  He also points out the importance of information regarding the modalities of return, relatives and family members as well as the access of humanitarian actors to information. Kaelin also draws attention to the Muslim IDPs who have been displaced for over two decades and calls for their inclusion in reconstruction programmes.

We are now at the beginning of October and the monsoon approaches, thousands have escaped, ten times that are still in detention, some have been shot at, others relocated and there has been a foretaste of what the rains will do.  And peace, reconciliation and unity awaits.

  • Leanie Meanie

    :-| Well every cloud has a silver lining…
    …I guess now that most of the tiger chappies have escaped, there is no longer any need to ‘screen’ the rest of these poor souls; our dear concerned humane government who cares so much about the security of all its citizens, can now safely release the remainder of the IDPs, Hurrah and Hallelujah! Meanwhile all those voice that were shouting about the need to keep them detained because of the tigers among them, can now change their tune…
    :-|

  • raza

    “some have been shot at” — Why?

    why? accroding to DBS they acted using illegal entry points?

    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1107

    “On Saturday September 26th a group of people in Zone one known as Anandacooomaraswamy welfare village had gone to zone two known as Ramanathan welfare village to sell firewood.

    Since authorized access was on a limited scale these “vendors” had moved in through unauthorized entry points to enter the zone two camp. These IDP’s began returning to their camp at dusk”

  • punitham

    When the whole of the East has been full of IDPs, ICRC was forced to close down its four offices in the East three minths ago. Whatelse is anybody lamenting about?

  • doomed to repeat it

    How did 20,000 get out of a camp (or camps) that relief agencies can’t get into? For what reasons do the authorities believe they are all LTTE? If they were LTTE, why weren’t they segregated from the larger population in the first place? How many are people who had relatives who could bribe them out? 20,000 – that’s something like 170 people A DAY. Are the camps so out of control, so chaotic, so without order and authority, that no one was noticing that many people traipsing out the front gate? The government says the camps are orderly and well monitored. Well, are they or are they not? You can’t have it both ways.

    No. There are just to many questions that make the claim too weird.

    The question then arises: who benefits from this story?

    The current regime does.

    Now there is the bogeyman of 20,000 crazed LTTE cadres on the loose to justify maintaining and expanding oppression around the country. Mark my words, every new arrest of a journalist, every new twist in interpretation of Emergency and Terrorism laws, every round-up, will be in some way justified in part by “Well, we have those 20,000 on the loose and they are a threat.” And the awful thing is that the average person, who reads the papers unquestioningly, will fall for it hook, line, and sinker.

    This plus the Grand Conspiracy make for a perfect storm on behalf of the government. Enemies within, enemies without.

    Extremely clever on the part of the government.

  • Lanka Liar

    If you dont know why these people are held, You are not fit to be a Sri Lnakan and not fit to live in Sri Lanka. First they are Tamils. second there is money. Third is there is no humanity or culture in Sri Lanka. To screen a 80 year old lady and an 6 month old child is very difficult. you should know. A jokers paradazie has become a pradise of thugs ruled by thugs

  • Velu Balendran

    When it comes to Tamil affairs this govt and its ministers/henchmen are well reputed for saying one thing and giving excuses, to but doing something else detrimental to the Tamils. (Most of the lies and disinformation dished out by this govt are examples). The want us to believe that the SL army is the most professional and disciplined army in Asia (if not the world, forgetting the rapes in Haiti) but are helplessly wringing their hands that 20,000 LTTE cadres are missing. If this is true, I would have expected the escapees to be captured back in big numbers every day, as there are no safe havens anymore in Sri Lanka for such large numbers of Tamils to hide. Also the super duper TID should have by now rounded up the culprits in the army who were helping them to escape for big sums of money. No such things have happened yet!!!

    There is an alternative and a more plausible theory: Remember the Channel 4 video? It may be happening in a big scale in the Vanni – where only the army roams in addition to ghosts. It is not mine clearance that is happening there. (Howmany mines cleared so far? Daily clearance figures please? Stats please). What they are clearing without letting anyone come near is the evidence of war crimes. Disposing 20,000 bodies is no easy task. That is why it is taking so long and the govt. vehement that it will take long.

    One way or other the Tamils will find out the truth and expose the liers and criminals.

  • punitham

    There have been decades-long i. hatred for Tamils(=oppression) and ii. corruption, in this land of Triple Gem. Most of the time they have been combined to the detriment of Tamils.
    2009 has NOT seen anything new but everything to a higher degree. All signs for waxing and not for waning of these treacherous trends.
    Satyagraha come and go.
    Conciliation pacts come and go.
    LTTE come and go.
    AI/HRW reports may keep coming.
    IBA/ICJ/ICG/…. reports may keep coming.
    AHRC/CPA/WCC/ …. reports may keep coming

    But the two treacherous trends can stand any sort of tsunami.

    The Triple Gem seems to have been bartered for ”independence”.

  • smoulderingjin

    I share Doomed to Repeat’s bafflement. This bit of news*is* totally baffling… something really does not add up.

    The security is extremely high. The barbed wire fences are even higher. The borders of the camp are patrolled by personnel with guns.

    So what really happened?

    1. How do they know that these people were LTTE cadres – I mean if they knew that they were, they would already have been taken away to the LTTE rehab or shot or tortured or whatever is done to suspects would have been done, would it not? They would surely have not been swanning around in the camps if they had been identified?!!!

    2. If they had already disappeared, how do they now know they were LTTE cadres? Sixth sense? Anjanang eliya? Crystal balls?

    3. What does “BREAK OUT” actually mean? Dug a tunnel and escaped? Got out under an invisibility cloak? Disguised themselves? Twenty thousand?? Were the guards sleeping? Drunk? Counting money they had recently acquired?

    4. The statement “Most [are] believed to be LTTE cadres”, translated can be a charming way of saying “we haven’t a clue who they are by god they better be LTTE”.

    5. If these were civilians (re-christened LTTE), how in heavens name have they got out? (If they have – hats off to them!)

    6. Or is this announcement another attempt to justify what is to come?

    This is a bit like the recent news item that states that a dr in Vavuniya was arrested but does not say why!

    I mean really, we are not morons! Please!

  • Sam

    On Jan 20, 2009 Army chief Sarath Fonseka has said that the LTTE may only have 1,600 well-trained fighters left to defend the remaining rebel areas. (source The Hindu)

    On April first week, around 800 LTTE hardcore cadres killed in Anandapuram according to SL Army. So that leaves with about 800 cadres which surely would have been killed in the next month of brutal fight.

    So where exactly these 20000 LTTE cadres suddenly came from? From the sky or from the lie factory? Government played down the LTTE stregth during the war, now they are hyping up. Are we really that stupid to fall for it? Release those IDPs, weeding out is just an excuse to make more money and vote.

  • http://msn hanuman

    Those who criticize Lanka now has an opportunity get visas abroad. Will these terrorists and/or opportunists ever thank Lanka for it? Blaming others is a common human condition, but frankly they are not good at it; because too much blame for too little when compared to other events around the globe, not much evidence, too repetitive and out dated and at times even blatantly fascist. When you shout blame all the time it looses its potency, especially when the wailers are onto much bigger crimes!

  • Sundar

    Sri Lanka might as well have been called Sorry Lanka. The constant cycle of death of Sinhalese and Tamils will continue.
    With Indian Hindu/Tamil coloboration with Sri Lanka gives the Sri Lankan Tamils no chance of survival leaving getting away from Hindu and even Tamil links with India the only option in order to live and to live on their own lands.

  • punitham

    Hanuman
    ”Those who criticise Sri lanka” are NOT allowed to leave SRi Lanka. This government is so nasty that many people(esp. Tamils) who want to go out are prevented from going out.
    Tamils in the Northeast cannot come to Colombo. Occupation army sees to that.
    !2 months ago UN and other aid agencies were expelled out of Vanni and the government said all who comw out would be held in camps compulsorily and none would be allowed to leave the country. This government’s idea is to crush the Tamils and the demons in mythology will have to learn a great deal from this government what it has been doing to the Tamils in the Northeast in the last forty four months.
    Detainees in Vavuniya camps have been driven out of Jaffna by aerial bombing and economic embargo of the last thirty years and many ended up in Vanni. They are forcibly taken back to Jaffna and the islets now.
    If they are given the choice no Tamils would move to Jaffna now. It is an open prison within an open prison.
    All national and international laws are violated. Utterly against the philosophy preached by any religion.
    Simply against the basin humanity.
    Dead against any respect for any living form.
    last week Jehan Perera wrote about his visit to Jaffna and said how i. hard it is difficult to get an ”exit permit” for a Jaffna resident to get from the ARmy to travel out of Jaffna ii they have to buy a return ticket if they manage to get a permit and iii. outsiders can travel to Jaffna only with a permit and that only by air(discouraging others to travel to Jaffna) and they have to get special permission from Defence Ministry if they wish to travel by bus.
    Bus service down A9 is mainly for the ARmy. Jaffna producers have difficulty bringing their produce out of Jaffna. Southern producers have no problem taking their produce into Jaffna.

    Some of the commentators here are either ignorant of the truth or simply have utter hatred for the Tamils in seconding the atrocities of the government.
    Detainees are forcibly taken to the islets off the peninsula. They left it because there has been severe restrictions in travelling from the islets to the mainland peninsula. Now they are sent back to prison(islets) within prison(Jaffna) within prison(Northeast)

    Hanuman, please ask your government to let Tamils leave the country and have the country to yourselves.

    The government cannot trample the Tamils enough.

    The era of pogroms is gone. This is the era of camps.

    I am begging all the Sinhalese to leave the Tamils alone.

    Sixty one and a half years of trampling is enough.

    ”Sovereignty” is a barbed wire fence for the oppressed around the world.

  • punitham

    Fourth World Colonialism, Indigenous Minorities And Tamil Separatism In Sri Lanka, Bryan Pfaffenberger (Virginia University), Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, Vol. 16, 1984:
    ”Despite the withdrawal of colonial power from Third World countries, forms of oppression that might well be termed “colonial” still persist in many of them — the oppression wrought by nationalist Third World governments whose regimes fail to respect the rights of indigenous minorities. For ethnic and regional minorities in many Third World countries, the arrogance and injustice of these governments matches — and often exceeds — those of the departed European colonial regime. The island nation Sri Lanka presents a case in point. Little public investment appears to reach the Tamil lands………”

    National Liberation Movements in Global Context, Dr. Jeff Sluka, Massey University, New Zealanad, July 1996:
    ”This situation, where a state exploits and oppresses peoples and regions within their own boundaries much the way the European colonial powers used to exploit and oppress foreign colonies, has been described as “internal colonialism” (Hechter 1975). Sri Lanka is an example of this ….
    Many Third World peoples found that after “independence” they had simply traded one set of oppressors (white) for another (brown and black). The result is that today many Third World states, most of them the direct or indirect result of national liberation wars themselves, are now fighting against national liberation movements within their borders.”

  • punitham

    Hanuman

    In mythology your namesake was a saviour.

    Please be one TODAY.

  • punitham

    Sara
    It’ll be helpful if you can give the link to Walter Kaelin’s press release.

    [Editors note: UN press release of Walter Kaelin’s visit, dated 29th September 2009, can be found here.]

  • Saro

    Torch to search black cats in dark room
    This information that paramilitaries demand huge amounts of money to arrange for the escape of inmates reached UK in early part of June. Paramilitaries and soldiers have already made millions by this smuggle. Sunday Times (Colombo) also employed investigative journalists to confirm the worst. There are military and police check points nationwide. How can these IDPs be smuggled out without the knowledge of all those stationed at check points. Now the police and military will look for a torch to search for black cats in the dark room.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    punitham >>

    “The government cannot trample the Tamils enough.
    The era of pogroms is gone. This is the era of camps.
    I am begging all the Sinhalese to leave the Tamils alone.
    Sixty one and a half years of trampling is enough.”

    You seem to have left out half the story. Did you beg the LTTE to leave the rest of the population alone, including their own? Did they listen to you? Do you reckon begging and pleading with them would have helped to sort this problem out amicably? Oh sorry, the LTTE is your army and the GOSL is the “occupying” army. How silly of me.

    Your time would have been better spent pleading with the Tamil diaspora to stop funding terrorism. Perhaps then, we would not have to be in this stage today. After all, can you tell me what laws there are today which discriminates against Tamils or indeed any ethnicity at all? (Please don’t tell me anything which is a direct result of the LTTEs existence) So would we not have seen a more amicable solution sooner had the LTTEs funding dried up?

    Always easier when there’s a single villain though isn’t it? The bambi-eyed LTTE versus the nasty old GOSL ;-) So go ahead, keep spinning your one-sided story. The prejudiced gullible are still around to lap it all up eagerly.

  • punitham

    SomewhatDisgusted
    1. I have left out not just half the story but 99.99% of the story.
    I’m too disgusted and too distraught to talk about them.

    2. Go and tell a child: ”…… we would not have to be in this stage today.”

    3. What laws? Political patronage.

    You don’t have to read the reports by AI, ICJ,,, of the last 3/4 decades.
    Harold Macmillan referred to Sri Lankan politics: ”Whig politics of nineteenth century”.

  • punitham

    Sorry, I just looked up Harold McMillan’s ”Riding the Storm 1956-1959”:

    In the section on Ceylon, p.395: ”No regular party system. In a curious way, the political life is more like that of Whig politics in the eighteenth century than one would suppose. The leading figures have a ‘following’. but the government comprises men of very different points of view.”

    Very true for the 21st century too!!

  • punitham

    Sri Lanka: Aid effectiveness A scoping of development partner perceptions for DFID-SEA, Simon Harris 15 September 2005:

    ”The Sri Lankan political environment could be described as a feudal democracy in which the cult of personality and notions of traditional individual authority and are mobilised by elites in their perpetual quest to attain and retain power at any price. Political patronage, election related violence, coalition building and unlikely alliances, together with the mobilisation of ethno-nationalism, have been some of the main characteristics of Sri Lanka’s political culture during the past twenty-five years. Political insecurities and the fear of falling from power seem to frequently translate into short-term populist policies designed to attract votes, whilst the medium and longer-term reforms necessary for development often receive little more than lip service. Many respondents noted that the Government was neither reformist, nor open to criticism. Bilateral and informal discussions were preferred by the GoSL to joint open forums and critical debate. A fundamental weakness of the Sri Lankan state is the incapacity or unwillingness of successive Governments’ to adopt bi-partisan approaches to development. ”

    Any different from what McMillan wrote 5 decades ago?

  • punitham

    SomewhatDisgusted
    ”Peace talks”
    You might have read what was written in some local newspapers and what was said by some Sinhalese politicians for public consumption, try to read what the national and international analysts and social scientists wrote about the ”peace talks”.
    Right now there is an exhibition at the EU about the ”development plans” for the Northeast. Most of it is utter lies. But then the ”sovereign” government has a monopoly on all that and has access to all the MEPs, Commissioners and all levels of hierarchy. Tamils will shout in front of some gates and the ”noise” has been ignored at the UN for decades. It’ll be so at the EU.
    There may be UDHR, International Human Rights Law, International Humanitarian Law,…. …. In the end man is human and the oppressors will rule the world and the oppressed will degenerate and disappear.

  • SomeOne

    Dear SomeWhatDisgusted, G’Day,

    “….
    1. Did you beg the LTTE to leave the rest of the population alone, including their own?

    2. Did they listen to you?

    3. Do you reckon begging and pleading with them would have helped to sort this problem out amicably?….”

    Is that all?? I can go on and stack 1001 or more questions like this. However, it is useless.

    I am of the opinion that you are unable to see the bigger picture.

    Let me give you very close analogy to this situation (in majority Sinhalese perspective). “The genie (MR) has put the monster (LTTE) back in the lamp”.

    I believe that all the conditions which created this monster are intact.

    You usually ask for suggestions to keep the monster permanently in the lamp.

    My suggestion is “better, ask a kindergarten kid”.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Someone >>

    I’m not entirely in disagreement with you. I just can’t abide by these one-sided, black & white fairy tales. Perhaps the person missing the bigger picture is not necessarily I. Perhaps the people who are funding the monster should also step up and take responsibility?

  • punitham

    “The genie (MR) has put the monster (LTTE) back in the lamp”.

    Someone
    You’re a genius!

  • davidson panabokke

    1.When the rain stops we fold the umbrella. When the sting vanishes
    the swelling vanishes. When state terrorism stops rebels evaporate.
    2.Anybody who criticises the government of its human rights violations, be it UN officials or Sinhalese human rights activists, they’re white tigers or pro-LTTE. We’ve been hearing this the whole of this regime.
    When will we stop hearing this?

    “The genie (MR) has put the monster (LTTE) back in the lamp” is simply amazing!
    Really really amazing!!

    I wish it occurred to me first.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Punitham >>

    You said: “Someone, You’re a genius!”

    Madam, you have a somewhat low bar for genius. Given that I do not recall, in a single one of your posts on groundviews in the past year or two, something even resembling a balanced, compassionate view for any other human being other than a Tamil, it does not come as a surprise to me that those you consider geniuses are only people who subscribe to the same, one-sided, monochromatic thinking that you choose to follow.

    I suppose it’s understandable, since it’s all an epic battle between the raping, pillaging, barbaric Sinhala occupying army and the brave, outnumbered but unbowed freedom fighters stalwartly holding out (until recently) against those irredeemable barbarians with the pure and just intention of establishing a racial utopia in order to ensure Tamil emancipation.

    Never mind the rather paradoxical observation that the racialism inherent in the concept of the proposed utopia far outweighs the racialism that Sri Lanka itself represents, given that so many races already exist within Sri Lanka and there is no law today which discriminates anyone by ethnicity. Even stranger yet is to question why one shouldn’t fight to establish a just system for all races in Sri Lanka in order to fight against “Sinhalese domination”, when it’s obviously far more practical to establish a state where the Tamil race alone can reign supreme. Strange indeed, the lack of regard for the other “oppressed” races stewing under the “Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony”.

    Dare I say such disregard too is racialism? Dare I say that those who fight for race based destinies are themselves racialists?

  • SomeOne

    Dear SomeWhatDisgusted,

    “…Perhaps the people who are funding the monster should also step up and take responsibility?…”

    Before I make this comment I wish to emphasis that I hate violence. Let alone killing each other. In reality, people are killing each other.

    Now, we will come back to your above comment. It is one of the occasions where you loose the picture, I guess. LTTE couldn’t be a monster without funding. In other wards, funding was an integral part of this monster.

    The one funding clearly knew the consequences of it. However, this was the price that they were paying for getting rid of another monster. It didn’t happen that way. Now, don’t worry about funding and funded people.

    The centre of gravity has shifted some where else. Please understand the dynamics of this system.

    “…I just can’t abide by these one-sided, black & white fairy tales…”

    Of course, it is NOT one sided fairy tales. Some one’s “hero” is another one’s “villain”.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Punitham >>

    Apologies if the tone of my previous post was very harsh and strident. I hope you will forgive me for being frustrated by the apparent obliviousness of these differing parties to the misery their ideologies are inflicting upon each other, to the greater misery of those who must actually suffer the consequences of those ideologies.

    I believe that we must stop goading parties on and stop widening ethnic rifts. Only through realization of the humanity that binds us all will we see a solution to this problem. Condemning parties and having one-sided views of a problem are unlikely to help. Unfortunately, the tone I myself have adopted is also unlikely to help. I apologize unreservedly.

  • smoulderingjin

    @SomewhatDisgusted

    I know the apology to Punitham has nothing to do with me. But I was stunned. To see someone apologising publicly is so rare that I could hardly believe it.
    Reading your apology gives me hope!

  • davidson panabokke

    Somewhatdisgusted
    No need to apologise – you express your views and I express mine.
    No comment is too ‘harsh and strident’ for a Sri Lankan Tamil., but the government preventing the ICRC from helping the IDPs is.

    ”I believe that we must stop goading parties on and stop widening ethnic rifts. Only through realization of the humanity that binds us all will we see a solution to this problem” makes me respect you.

    What appears to be a ”one-sided view” is not actually a one-sided view.

  • punitham

    Somewhatdisgusted
    OK.
    This conflict is so vicious and complex it muddles us all to various ways.

    Davidson
    “The genie has put the monster back in the lamp” is a good idea for a teacher, a story-writer, ….

  • punitham

    Sara
    IDPs: Detainees, Escapees and the Dropped-down?

    TamilNet, 05 October 2009:
    ”124 internally displaced families including several pregnant mothers who were allowed to leave Menik Farm in Vavuniyaa to go to their places in Jaffna on September 29 are stranded in Vavuniyaa town without Sri Lanka Army (SLA) clearance to proceed to Jaffna. These IDPs were brought down from Menik Farm on September 29 and dropped at Vavuniyaa bus stand the same day midnight, sources in Vavuniyaa said.”

  • punitham

    IDPs: Detainees, Escapees and the Forcibly Resettled:

    Forcible resettlements in East, Ruki, Groundviews, 1 August 2009:

    ”… On 18th June 2009, the Divisional Secretary (DS) together with the Police and Military had forced around 57 families to resettle in Pullumalai area. ……”

  • smoulderingjin

    Davidson P

    Important as the comment that you highlight from SomewhatDisgusted’s statement are, apologies are important as they restore “relationships” even on a forum.

    For me it is a gesture of reconciliation that enables a difficult discussion to progress. Where years of struggle have added complexity and antagonism to any debate about the current ethnic/ internment/ future governance issues, such apologies are like life blood when a discussion gets difficult and conentious.

    This forum generates good discussion, but there is also such a lot of sneering, dismissal, name calling, pointless rudeness and viciousness. It is a pity because at lest on a forum we can try to engage with issues that are vital to our country!

    Sometimes reading this forum, I wonder where the goodness and kindness of human nature is? That is why SomewhatDisgusted, who also attempts to generate genuine discussion on most of the forums, gave me hope!

  • smoulderingjin

    ps – I meant Kindness and goodness between individuals!

  • punitham

    Somewhatdisgusted
    I respect you for: ”Only through realization of the humanity that binds us all will we see a solution to this problem.”
    Smoulderingjin
    I respect you for: ”For me it is a gesture of reconciliation that enables a difficult discussion to progress.”

  • question mark

    Hmmm…wonder if something like the Bindunuwewa massacre might happen soon in these camps, all carried out and justified in the name of stamping out terrorism….

  • Heshan

    Worth repeating… and repeating again. Deserves an analysis too.

    ”The Sri Lankan political environment could be described as a feudal democracy in which the cult of personality and notions of traditional individual authority and are mobilised by elites in their perpetual quest to attain and retain power at any price.”

    The FEUDAL elements are definitely there… even Kumari Jayawardene (the only Sri Lankan social scientist worth reading) says this in her brilliant book “Nobodies to Somebodies.” On the other hand, I’ve never heard of a “feudal democracy.” While the rest of the sentence rings true – personality cult, retain power at any cost – it kind of contradicts the whole notion of a “democracy.” “Feudal” implies a monarchy, and a monarchy is only one step below a dictatorship. When all is said and done, Sri Lanka is a dictatorship, whereby the majority of rural citizens in the South possess a feudal mindset and so subscribe to a brazen nationalist ideology. If you disagree, take a look at the voting stats in the last election. Kandy and Colombo went to the UNP. The entire rural South went to the UPFA.

    “Political patronage, election related violence, coalition building and unlikely alliances, together with the mobilisation of ethno-nationalism, have been some of the main characteristics of Sri Lanka’s political culture during the past twenty-five years. ”

    If by political patronage he is referring to nepotism, definitely. Unlikely alliances, yes – the begging bowl has spread to every corner of the globe. Ethno-nationalism, yes – unfortunately the author does not make the connection between ethno-nationalism, the brain-drain, and the stagnant economy.

    “Political insecurities and the fear of falling from power seem to frequently translate into short-term populist policies designed to attract votes, whilst the medium and longer-term reforms necessary for development often receive little more than lip service. ”

    Quite true. All of the “short-term populist policies” are pretty much designed to placate the Southern voter and keep him from openly rebelling, such as occurred with the JVP. That’s why these same populist policies have generally included some element of minority-bashing.

    “Many respondents noted that the Government was neither reformist, nor open to criticism. ”

    Hail to the Chief. Reformist my a–. Look at the Constitution. Foremost place to Buddhism, Executive Presidency, blah blah. Look at the Prevention of Terrorism Act. This government is about as reformist as an alcoholic in a bar.

    Bilateral and informal discussions were preferred by the GoSL to joint open forums and critical debate. A fundamental weakness of the Sri Lankan state is the incapacity or unwillingness of successive Governments’ to adopt bi-partisan approaches to development. ”

  • SomeOne

    Dear punitham,

    “…Somewhatdisgusted, OK. This conflict is so vicious and complex it muddles us all too various ways….”

    In my view, there is nothing complex about it. If any one thinks that it is complex it is only we made it complex. In fact, we all caught in the wrong mind set.

    Probably, time will heal it. We can’t take the time factor out of it. However, we all should work hard to minimize the time that it takes to come to a permanent settlement.

    Punitham, have any “teacher” taught you a “story” (during school days) about “Mahathanamuththa and Golayas” and how they found a solution to take the “eluwas head” which stuck in a “pot”?

    We will find a similar solution, I guess. It looks funny but it is a bloody reality for me.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Punitham, smoulderingjin >>

    I apologized for my tone but I should say that I do stand by my statements. In my view, those who talk about “occupying armies” and the like are themselves racialists. I’ve clarified in my “not-so-diplomatic” post, why I think so. I’ve argued about this at great length on this thread: http://www.groundviews.org/2009/09/17/delusions-of-power-devolution-searching-post%E2%80%93prapa-possibilities/

    In my view, the way forward is to establish a just society with equality for all. I do not agree with purely racial agendas, be it Sinhalese or Tamil. Anything else is a slap in the face of all scientific and moral advancement of the 21st century.

  • punitham

    1. When I said:

    Somewhatdisgusted
    I respect you for: ”Only through realization of the humanity that binds us all will we see a solution to this problem.”
    Smoulderingjin
    I respect you for: ”For me it is a gesture of reconciliation that enables a difficult discussion to progress.”

    I meant only that much.

    2.As to ”In my view, the way forward is to establish a just society with equality for all” it’s nowhere to be seen. In fact what the Rajapakses say(lies to the outside world) and do(hold an exhibition in Brussels on the ”Development Plans of North” when the Northerers are in compulsory camps or transferred from camps to camps, etc…) push them further away from us:

    http://www.slmfa.gov.lk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2168&Itemid=134

    ”He said de-militarization had been successfully achieved”.

    De-militarisation successfully achieved. Is it true?

    I wish to know the answer to the question.

  • punitham

    Sorry: I didn’t say who that ”he” refers to:

    ”He said de-militarization had been successfully achieved”.

    He refers to Basil rajapakse who opened the Exhibition.

  • smoulderingjin

    @Punitham

    From where I see it, no I do not think that de-militarisation has been achieved. Or will be achieved in the near future at all.

    In fact I sometimes wonder whether this is not becoming a military state. As far as I can tell that is not just bad news for the Tamils but for all living in this country – judging by the general level of abductions, attacks, and murders, it is not just Tamils under threat!

    @ Somewhatdisgusted
    I was aware that you were apologising for your tone. Which is what one expects, one cannot apologise for what one believes or thinks!
    I followed your arguments and do not agree with some of what you say, although to some degree I can understand the “motive” behind what you say,

    If an army, states that it is “guarding” the people and “helping” them out, yet if past experience, brutality and fear lead the people of the location to perceive it as an “occupying army” then it is their reality. For us, who are not “experiencing” the situation, we can afford to make a “detached” judgment on the matter. For those living it, it might feel quite different. To some degree, how the “occupied” territory feels matters. Because if they feel threatened, fearful and nervous, then that matters. We cannot dismiss it as not being a reality. For the people there it is.

    Surely we know that just as an army has its noble, selfless, altruistic, “kind” and well meaning personnel, it also has its psychopaths, rapists, murderers, mentally disturbed cadres too. All armies, all over the world are the same in this respect. War does something to the psyche of people – whether LTTE or army, and this is where the problem lies. People are instinctively fearful of the army – put yourself in a position where you had to operate daily with the army watching your moves suspiciously. Put yourself in the position where you know the current law is that anything is permitted and no army person will be questioned or held responsible. What if you know that several people you know were taken away and never came back? Surely this *must* make people unhappy and feel under threat.

    I agree totally with you that the way forward is to “to establish a just society with equality for all.” But as Punitham asks “how” is this to happen. The way the Tamils are being treated now in the North and East, is hardly re-assuring to them in terms of equal treatment. I too do not agree with “purely racial agendas, be it Sinhalese or Tamil” but how does one confront a situaiton where the majority want this to be a Sinhalese Buddhist nation, and expect Tamils (whether in the North or East, or central province or Colombo) to feel that they are equal.

    Simple examples – a recent visit to Osu Sala pharmacy – the govt one – revealed that it has all its notices in Sinhalese, and all its staff speaking Sinhalese. If one is a Tamil then you are finished! How does one call a private hospital, and find the only two options given to speak are Sinhalese and English? How does one deal with a situation where a Tamil graduate applying for a job in Vavuniya has to fill in pages of application form in Sinhalese? Or that many government forms are in Sinhalese? Or that some universities only have Sinhala documents and Sinhala circulars?

    If some of these basics have not been addressed for the past 50 years how will they be addressed now, especially at a time when the nation is quite racially focused in terms of the supremacy of the Sinhalese.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Punitham >>

    You said: “I meant only that much.”

    I already understood that. I just wanted to make sure that the point I was making was understood too, since no one actually addressed it. So what is your viewpoint with regard to that?

    In any case, I will address the point you raise:
    “De-militarisation successfully achieved. Is it true?”

    Not entirely true, no. The LTTE has been demilitarized, that’s true. But govt. demilitarization does not seem to be anywhere in sight. We all know that the army numbers will in fact be bolstered. The standing excuse for this is the separatist threat. and whether it’s entirely unwarranted, I do not know.

    We know that the LTTE’s military arm has been decimated. However, the financial-network and the propaganda arm seem to be intact and still hard at work. I see a lot of people here who still openly support the LTTE and are hard at work trying to widen ethnic rifts, probably in the hopes of kick-starting Eelam War V (as usual at the expense of their destitute pawns in the Vanni).

    I can understand why people have been sympathetic towards the LTTE in the past. However, that doesn’t mean that even after 30 years, they should continue to support a fascist outfit hellbent on a racist agenda. Please don’t try to equate the LTTE with the govt. because we do know that despite the govt’s multitude of faults, such a comparison is disingenuous. In any case, many people here have been quick to point out that pointing to one wrong does not justify a corresponding wrong in the other. So why not apply the same logic to the LTTE?

    Making sure the LTTE is dismantled and that there is no further threat from them or their ideology is partly also the responsibility of the Tamil diaspora. I consider it shameful that few or no members of the Tamil diaspora speak out about this whereas there are an ample number of Sri Lankans of all races speaking out in favour of demilitarization.. This is the quickest way to remove the govts. excuse that the continued threat from the LTTE is the reason to delay demilitarization.

    In the meantime, pressure must nevertheless be exerted on the govt. for gradual de-militarization and restoration of civil society. There is also the all important question of what minority rights, if any, are being denied in present day Sri Lanka and how any such imbalances can be corrected. These are all things that we need to discuss openly.

  • Hari Narendran

    Somewhat Disgusted,

    A few comments re the threat remaining from the LTTE and the diasporas role in either containing it or fostering it.

    The LTTEs current “strength” in the diaspora is an highly exaggerated threat, used by the government and many of its supporters as a convenient excuse to counter pressure from foreign governments regarding serious human rights issues on the ground.

    The LTTEs military strength on the ground in SL is for all intents and purposes finished. While there are likely a few cadres still on the loose and hidden arms caches out there they can utilize if they choose to for isolated incidents of mayhem. But their ability to seriously challenge the governments writ in any way is done and with it, more importantly, their ability to affect political developments in SL in any way. Which means their relevancy to the diaspora is also done.

    Yes, there is plenty of the money raised by the LTTE still somewhere out there. Yes there are elements of the LTTEs foreign corp still attempting to execute their dream of a separate state through transnational governments and the like. But again I stress their ability to affect any political goal in SL is now nil.

    And even though some may not like to hear this, as long as any future attempts by the LTTE to influence politics in SL are done through peaceful, democratic means then it becomes a threat of ideas that should be combated with ideas and not through the security apparatus and repression.

    The government and many here also confuse legitimate questions many Tamils have about the conduct of the war and its aftermath as ‘LTTE propaganda”. It is not LTTE propaganda to ask for an honest accounting of the number of civilians killed in the last stages of the war. It is not LTTE propaganda to ask for lists/names of people currently being held as LTTE suspects so family/friends can know what is happening with them. It is not LTTE propaganda to ask for lists of who is being held in the IDP camps so they can be tracked to counter or confirm allegations of disappearances etc. The governments reluctance to step up to any of this only heightens suspicions and deepens existing divides.

    Where I do agree with you though is that in general many Tamils have been hypocrites when it has come to this conflict. We for too long kept silent when the LTTE committed many of the abuses we accused the government of committing. What we, as a community, had allowed the LTTE to morph into needed to be defeated.

    The question now is a forward looking one – what do we see the future state of the country being? And how is the governments current conduct shaping that debate?

    As a Tamil I would tell you I am glad the LTTE is done as a force. However, the governments current actions and words give me no hope that they have in any way learned the lessons of the past, needlessly alienating sections of the population and making them feel like second class citizens.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Hari Narendran >>

    I am in total agreement with your last post. That’s why I too believe that pressure on the govt. for gradual demilitarization is necessary. But all parties must use these latest developments to move things in a positive direction. And dismantling the ideological apparatus of the LTTE and exposing the moral poverty of their agenda is more likely to be achieved by members of the Tamil community than those outside of it. Especially now that the standing threat to those who disagree with the LTTE is no longer a significant factor.

    You said: While there are likely a few cadres still on the loose and hidden arms caches out there they can utilize if they choose to for isolated incidents of mayhem. But their ability to seriously challenge the governments writ in any way is done

    I agree. While I do believe that any attempts to started isolated incidents of mayhem should be systematically dealt with and which is why I’m not against the stipulated 6 month period of incarceration for any remaining cadres to be identified and for weapons caches to be discovered, I think it’s undeniable that there can certainly be no serious threat to the govt. in the near future.

    Some of the the possible reasons for continued militarization I can think of are:
    1. Pure paranoia on the part of the govt.
    2. Some actual threats from remaining cadres and the LTTE international network that serves to amplify that paranoia. The increased military build up is explained as a “deterrent” to anyone entertaining such a notion.
    3. Perpetuation of a “state of fear” onto the general populace in order to gain political clout.

    In any case, I’m in complete agreement over gradual demilitarization. This must be done in order to return normalcy to civilian life in those areas.

    You said: What we, as a community, had allowed the LTTE to morph into needed to be defeated.

    I agree. One can only dream of the development that could take place should the $300+ million dollars annually spent by the LTTE on death and destruction be channeled towards positive goals, including rebuilding the Northern and Eastern districts, towards Tamil cultural and language programs and more importantly, towards educational and identity building programs for building a unifying Sri Lankan identity which revels in cultural diversity. All of these positive goals have been subsumed by an uncompromising racialism which I believe is as important to rectify. I, for one, do not want to see a reversal to the previous status quo.

    The question now is a forward looking one – what do we see the future state of the country being? And how is the governments current conduct shaping that debate?

    At present, I can clearly understand the apprehension that many people feel. But let’s keep in mind the fact that only six months or so have elapsed since the defeat of the LTTE. The demilitarization processes, the reduction of paranoia, the restoration of normalcy etc. will not happen over night. A sense of security must be gradually restored to the population at large and more importantly, the population in the north and east.

    I should also mention an observation on certain rabble-rousers who expect overnight results from the govt. whereas these same people were appealing for patience and continued negotiations with the LTTE despite repeated failure. Strange don’t you think? I believe such people have narrower political agendas than a genuine interest in seeing this situation resolved. We should also see through the unnecessary fears perpetuated by such people.

    This conflict was built up over many many years. Untangling this mess is also going to take some time. We just need to make sure things are slowly but steadily moving in a positive direction, with the less-than-stellar political leadership available to us. For us Sri Lankans, I think this is as good as it gets, and we have to make the best of it.

    And I agree with you, we need to be forward thinking. How do we address the remaining problems, how do we restore normalcy, what rights are presently missing for minorities, how can they be guaranteed. These are also things that need to be discussed.

  • niranjan

    Hari Narendran said :”However, the governments current actions and words give me no hope that they have in any way learned the lessons of the past, needlessly alienating sections of the population and making them feel like second class citizens.”

    I agree with the above statement. The real reason is that the Government is busy in trying to win the Southern PC election at the moment. So I do not see it doing anything in terms of reconciliation or learning lessons of the past. After the SPC election is over the Government will concentrate its focus on winning the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
    The Government is focussed on winning elections taking into account a largely Sinhala rural constituency. The minorities do not count. Devolution vis-a-vis the 13 amendment, minority rights, reconciliation, peacebuilding is simply not on the agenda as there is nothing that the Government can gain from these issues.
    The APRC was an effort to placate India and the International community while the war was on. “To keep the hounds at bay” as it were.
    Now that the war is over there is no need for the APRC seems to be the thinking of the Government. However, Minister Prof. Tissa Vitharana put in a lot of time, patience and effort into the APRC. We have to thank him for trying even though the final document is not out yet.

  • punitham

    Brussels, Basil and Budget

    1. http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/COL452057.htm
    COLOMBO, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Sri Lanka’s government on Thursday sought an additional 39.6 billion rupees ($345 million) to fund its military, a 20 percent increase from the original defence budget despite the end of a 25-year war against Tamil Tigers in May.
    The government allocated 200 billion rupees ($1.74 billion) for defence in its 2009 budget, when the military was fighting the last phase of one of the Asia’s longest modern wars.

    2. http://www.slmfa.gov.lk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2168&Itemid=134

    ‘Sri Lanka: Facets of Post-Conflict Development’ Photographic Exhibition inaugurated at the European Parliament, 2 October 2009:
    He(Basil Rajapakse) said de-militarization had been successfully achieved.

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

    I saw a massive flooding in the Indian states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh has at least 230 people dead and more than 10 million survivors homeless.

    I think its going to be a hell in the Sri Lankan concentration camps when NE monsoon starts.

    Some Sri Lankan newspapers said that the SL government has taken rapid action in the construction of the drainage system there.

    However the images from the BBC are contradicting that.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8297760.stm

    As you see, the drainage system is very shallow and utterly inadequate.

    Why are the UN and Red Cross not involved in this process?

    The camps occupy vast tracts of formerly forested land near the northern town of Vavuniya.

    Because the ground on which many of the camps were built was cleared of trees recently, the soil is soft and porous.

    Many Human Rights groups are worried that the hastily built camps will not survive the inundation.

    Few months ago, he rain fell heavily for much of the afternoon , sent rivers of mud cascading between tightly packed rows of flimsy shelters, overflowed latrines , which have collapsed, sending human waste spilling all over camp.

    HR groups urged Sri Lanka to free 300,000 Tamils detained in camps since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May, warning that an outbreak of disease triggered by imminent monsoon rains could claim many lives.

    Mike Foster, the UK Minister for International Development who is visiting Sri Lanka, also said that Britain would no longer provide any funding for the controversial barbed wire enclosures once the monsoon was over in two months.

    He added that many other donor countries were taking a similar position to put pressure on the Government to release the 300,000 Tamils who were detained after.

    “Disease, if it takes hold, is going to spread rapidly. Without doubt there will a loss of life, he said. Given that there are 300,000 people living so close together, I’d hazard a guess that its going to be more than dozens” he said

    Mr. Foster, also, said that progress on resettlement had been disappointing, that the majority of those in the concentration camps had already been screened, and that moving them to other concentration camps was unacceptable.

    “There really is no reason why the IDPs cant return. If the gates are opened up, they can be the judge of whether its safe or not to go home”, he said. “That should be a choice for them”.

    “Theres a pressing need, with the monsoon impending, to get civilians out of the camps”, Mr Foster said after visiting two of the camps before meetings with Sri Lankan officials in Colombo yesterday.

    He said the monsoon, which is due to start this month, was almost certain to destroy tents already fraying after six months use.

    Mawatha Silva

  • punitham

    ”Why are the UN and Red Cross not involved in this process?”

    http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/sri_lanka?OpenDocument
    Since the beginning of July, the ICRC has been reviewing its operations and presence in the country at the request of the government. By 17 July 2009, four offices in Eastern Province had closed (Trincomalee, Mutur, Batticaloa and Akkaipattu) and activities in this region had been suspended. During the same period, activities carried out from Vavuniya and Mannar offices were put on hold pending further clarification and agreement with the government.

  • punitham

    http://www.slmfa.gov.lk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2165&Itemid=75

    ”On GSP+, Ambassador Aryasinha said the Government had not accepted the process of GSP+ investigation and a request for experts to visit Sri Lanka as a matter of principle, as it was felt inappropriate and unnecessary and the Government was not willing to compromise on its sovereignty.”

    ”Sovereignty” to refuse UN monitoring – human rights monitoring has been urged by UN Special Rapporteur for more than three years.

    ”Sovereignty” to separate Tamil IDPs from ICRC.

    Though successive governments have been ACTING as though they have the sovereignty to oppress the Tamils, they didn’t put THAT in words.

  • punitham

    Sri Lankan Prime Minister at UN General assembly 2009: ”It is also imperative that the prohibition reflected in the Article 2 (7) of the Charter that the UN should not interfere in the internal affairs of States be respected” .

    That’s what the then-President Chandrika Kumaratunga said there in 1998 declining Nelson mandela’s offer of mediation.

    All living things evolve physically over generations and psychologically in their own lifetimes..

    Article 2 (7) was formulated to deal with the era of interstate conflicts. Man’s conceptual evolution. World War to Cold War. Decolonisation. Rise of internal colonialism and itrastate conflicts. Man’s conceptual evolution. R2P.

    Buddhist Republic of Sri Lanka is falling behind times?

  • punitham

    Ooops,

    All living things evolve physically over generations and cognitively(and psycholoically) in their own lifetimes..

  • Heshan

    I think there is a limit to logic and reason… in legal terms, a person cannot be found guilty if he is deemed insane at the time of the crime. However, if that is the case, that person is still deemed a danger to society, and sent to the mental ward, never to see daylight again. We could easily apply this definition to the current Sri Lankan regime. Some of their actions clearly represent insanity….. for example, murdering everyone who surrendered in the last battle (approximately 20,000-30000), in cold blood… confining 250,000 innocent people in incarceration camps which Sri Lanka cannot even begin to fund with its own money but must rely on the UN….. holding rigged elections every few yrs to prove its a “democracy”…. the list is basically endless. In any event, though the regime does not like to call itself “guilty” it can still be considered “insane”, thereby necessitating some kind of forcible third-party intervention.

    “These (the military) are the guys who were winning the war – they could have raped every single woman on the way if they wanted to. ”

    – Insane member of Sri Lankan regime, Palitha Kohona

    “There were zero civilian casualties during the “humanitarian mission.”

    – Insane leader of Sri Lankan regime, Rajapakse

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

    punitham said,
    October 10, 2009 @ 3:17 pm

    punitham
    Thanks a lot, for your kind clarification about the ICRC.
    What do you think about the recent events in Colombo. Apprehension has gripped the Tamil business community in Colombo and its suburbs after Sri Lanka Army (SLA) soldiers called on them to register their assets with the local authorities. The soldiers had called on the community with a printed form, in Sinhalese language only ,which has to be filled with every miniature detail from the type of enterprise, to assets such as vehicles, etc, members of the family, relatives and employees. The Tamil business community is perturbed over this new regulation since they have already registered themselves with the relevant police divisions.It’s a dispirited sigh. Why are singling out Tamil traders only? A justifiable fear among the Tamils has risen as this act of targeting Tamil traders by SLA soldiers could be a measure to supply precise details to criminals to be used in abduction, extortion and robbery. You are welcome to my blog Mawatha Silva

  • smoulderingjin

    So there are no minorities then? Just Tamils that are not the majority!!! And are we living under martial law after all? Obviously we are not a civil democracy. And there is no “peace”.

    Gulag states…? Bit difficult to dismiss the possibility after hearing things like this!

    Or maybe its all a bad dream, and we might all wake up and have a good laugh!

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

    smoulderingjin

    “So there are no minorities then?”

    Sri Lanka Government, as always, is vomiting worms of lies. Please don’t forget the infamous SL President Mahinda Rajapakse statement “ZERO civil casualties in the civil war”

    Tell me, is this severely malnourished old man from the concentration camp in Sri Lanka is equal to his Sinhalese counterpart?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8297760.st

    smoulderingjin , a bit worrying for me this cruel reshuffle of Tamils (like cattle) from one to concentration camp to another. It looks like; it will become a norm – rampant colonization, resettlement-but not to the native villages, ridiculous and un-ending “security clearances” even for 1 year old orphan- child and the vile enslavement of all Tamils.

    What do you think about the Islets of Jaffna Tragedy?

    Because the modus operandi of the Sinhalese Colonial Masters is cruelly unfolding right there. In my opinion, this is the future for the NE Tamils, period

    http://www.tamilnet.com/search.html?string=islets+of+Jaffna

    Can you look it over and give an input on this ? Thanks
    Mawatha Silva

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

    smoulderingjin

    Sorry , the link is broken.

    Tell me, is this severely malnourished old man from the concentration camp in Sri Lanka is equal to his Sinhalese counterpart?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/south_asia/8297760.stm

    This one should work :)
    Mawatha Silva

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Dr. P. Saravanamuttu,

    You say that there are “over 250,000 IDPs in Menik Farm and many more in other camps”.

    Obviously you have access to reliable information. Assuming these figures are factual could you please provide the source?

    In view of the above, would it sufficiently accurate to estimate the total number of IDP’s to be in the region of 300,000 from 70,000 families?

    If that estimate is too high what could be the likely number of family units involved?

    Do the authorities provide a housing unit (tent or similar) per family or are they required to share?

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Smoulderingjin >>

    I almost missed your previous reply.

    You said: “For those living it, it might feel quite different. To some degree, how the “occupied” territory feels matters. Because if they feel threatened, fearful and nervous, then that matters.”

    I understand what you’re trying to say and agree with you. Who in their right minds would like to live in any area occupied by people armed to the teeth? But that’s not usually the only reason people end up using words like “occupying army”, “Sinhala Nation”, “Tamil Nation” etc. There are too many ideologues on either side of the ethnic divide, who, as a part of their propaganda, try to subtly instill a dichotomous relationship between Sinhalese and Tamils in one’s mind by careful use of vocabulary that reinforces such (imagined) divisions. Slowly but surely, we too end up unconsciously using those words, further dehumanizing the “other”, and what’s subsumed in the process is our own humanity. For a stellar example of this kind of thing, read this old thread in groundviews and the resulting discussion: http://www.groundviews.org/2009/05/23/the-sinhala-conquest-of-the-tamil-nation/

    At the end of the day, these epic battles between Sinhalese and Tamils are largely constructed as Pradeep Jeganathan highlights (http://www.pjeganathan.org/south-paw/2009/5/4/sri-lankas-conflict-an-interview-with-pact-part-i.html) and the reality is that all these ethnicities have co-existed in Sri Lanka for many many years.

    You said: “how does one confront a situaiton where the majority want this to be a Sinhalese Buddhist nation, and expect Tamils (whether in the North or East, or central province or Colombo) to feel that they are equal”

    I think there are two problems being conflated here. One created by Sinhalese nationalists who think this island “belongs to the Sinhalese” on account of them being a numerical majority. The other created by Tamil Nationalists who wish to be a majority in their own right and cannot accept the fact that the Sinhalese are indeed a majority. I hope you clearly see the distinction I’m making here. Both these types of thinking are in error and responsible for perpetuating the problem.

    Let’s keep in mind that our post-colonial project is to somehow forge a multi-cultural nation in which all ethnicities can live in dignity and with equality. But when we talk about equality, two things need to be accepted. The Sinhalese must accept that all ethnicities living in this country have equal rights and that they must not mistakenly assume that what’s good for them is good for everyone else. The Tamils must accept that the Sinhalese are indeed a numerical majority and that the greater presence they have in day to day affairs is an inevitable consequence of them being more numerous. I think you will agree that this is reasonable?

    So the failure of the “Sri Lanka project” so far is due to these two parties failing to accept these realities. The way forward must also be for both parties to correct their perspective distortions. We should not assume that all is lost however. Remember that slowly, (but bloodily), we’ve been making progress. Tamil is now a national language. There is no ethnicity based discrimination in the constitution, higher-level public officials are required to learn Tamil etc. etc. and to a large extent, we are on the way to a reasonably equitable society (You are welcome to point out serious cases of ethnic discrimination which are not a result of the LTTE). Not to say everything is hunky-dory, but there has been a lot of progress, despite the people who refuse to acknowledge and prefer to ignore it.

    A significant stumbling block in the project so far has been the LTTE. This is the quintessential example of the Tamil racialism that has also been a significant problem throughout the “Sri Lanka” project. And just as the Sinhala nationalists had to yield slowly towards more just and equitable solutions, so too should the LTTE have yielded to more equitable solutions instead of promoting their own hideous racism. Ultimately, the LTTE too paid the price for its refusal to compromise. Nature has its own heartless way of correcting imbalances.

    “Simple examples – a recent visit to Osu Sala pharmacy – the govt one – revealed that it has all its notices in Sinhalese, and all its staff speaking Sinhalese. If one is a Tamil then you are finished! ”

    I assure you that were you to go to Jaffna, a Sinhalese person would encounter a similar problem. I agree with you that there *should* ideally have been signs in Tamil or maybe a Tamil speaking person but let’s not confuse this as discrimination on purpose. There are quite often, implementation problems, especially in a 3rd world country like Sri Lanka and are you sure you are not unrealistically expecting 1st world standards from a 3rd world nation? To my knowledge, it’s more or less mandatory for all govt. forms to be made available in all 3 languages, so I’d genuinely like to know what these forms are that were not made available in Tamil? I don’t intend to dismiss all the examples you cite as being invalid, I’m sure there are valid instances where it can be discriminatory in nature, but I don’t think we should interpret everything as being “purposefully” discriminatory in nature. Nevertheless, I would like to hear more instances of actions which are significantly discriminatory towards Tamils, just for my own information.

    Fixing problems like this are not so hard when adequate resources can be funneled in for the purpose. That’s why I said, if the Tamil Diaspora were to take a positive role in promoting Tamil language and culture, we could see this kind of thing being fixed sooner. The $300 million per year formerly channeled to the LTTE could easily plaster boards in Tamil on every square inch of the country.

  • Off the Cuff

    smoulderingjin

    I read your exchange with SomewhatDisgusted with interest.

    Please correct me if I am wrong, I detect an angry (probably justifiably) Tamil but who basically is humane and rational. Even your nom de plume conveys such a “smoldering person”. I say this not with any sarcasm but in all honesty.

    The need of the hour is building bridges not throwing wild accusations as some do. We have what we did not have many years ago, a medium through which we can exchange views in order to build bridges. But how many are using it constructively? Only a small minority do

    Please allow me to quote from a discussion between me and Dr Devanesan Nesiah on this website but on a different thread. This is what he stated
    “…….I agree that Sri Lankan society is not basically racist, but we have individuals and small groups that are racist ………” This is what ALL of us should remember and should try to build on.

    The ground is fertile, but do we have the courage and the humility to build on it or to sow the seeds of harmony instead of that of hate?

    The Tamils think that they were wronged and marginalized and the Sinhalese think that such is not the case, they think that they were the people who were at the receiving end of Tamil racists policies when the Tamils held the reins of the Govt Bureaucracy. This throwing the ball, about who did what first wont get us anywhere.

    The Sinhalese are an overwhelming majority in SL, there is nothing anybody can do about it short of exterminating them the way Prabhakaran tried.

    Racism and racists policies were rampant in the West. I have seen on TV, documentary films that depicted Police using batons as a battering ram on the genitalia of Black women who were participating in peaceful Civil Rights protests on the streets of America. What the Ku Klux gang did in America to the coloured people is well documented. The USA gives pride of place to Christianity. It advertises Christianity even on its currency. The UK even burnt people alive at the stake. Torture was used by the state and even machines were used for torture (still on display). Her National anthem is a prayer to God. The Head of State can only be a Christian even today. Anybody reading History will know what the Inquisition was. What Canada did to the indigenous population has to be read to be believed. Children were purposely exposed to TB and allowed to die a slow an agonizing death. France is not second to anyone in the above respect. In fact looking back at any western nation will show how barbaric they were before.

    My point in all of this, is that these countries have moved on (although from time to time State Racist policies resurface when economic or strategic considerations give way to righteousness (Forcible removal of Chagosians, Iraq war, Afgan war, Abu Grhaib, Guantanamo etc are such manifestations)

    Tamils living in the West do not worry about its past or what surfaces from time to time in the present.

    True, July 83 was inhuman but its also true that thousands of Sinhalese harboured, fed and protected their Tamil friends at the risk of their own lives, the lives of their wives and children and their properties. Not many Tamils acknowledge this publicly. I have seen five Tamils acknowledging it, one was from Australia, another from Canada and three on DBS Jayaraj’s website.

    Let’s exchange views and discuss problems based on the existing situation in SL and not keep harping back to the past (though references to it may be required to establish a point) where both communities have justifiable grievances.

  • smoulderingjin

    Off the Cuff, and SomewhatDisgusted – thanks for your responses.

    I will get back to you on the issues raised. At the moment I am unable to sit down to respond – and have actually missed some of your responses of the past couple of days. I do want to engage with the issues you raise.

    I do not have a problem with “anger” on this forum, but what I do have a problem with is when the “anger” that translates to pointless insults, and vicious attacks of a personal nature. As such I find it disturbing that even intellectuals of this country cannot steer away from such pointless attack at a time like this.

    It is obvious that deep distrust, mistakes, violence, wrongs of the past will generate anger – and perhaps we should be able to understand and see past it. But anger in itself will get us no where.

    It is perfectly possible to talk through differences – as long as we are aware that people want to genuinely want to engage and discuss the issues with the view of the justice of all people in the nation.

    Thanks again.

  • punitham

    http://www.asianews.it/index.php?l=en&art=16332&size=A
    Tamil refugees going home to an open prison, 15 September 2009:
    “We are living in an open prison,” said Fr Seemanpillai Jayabalan, parish priest in Aripputhurai. “People have no hope for development. They have lost their property and many homes are a total write-off.” NGOs are not allowed in the area and “all aid must go through the government’s Rehabilitation Task Force,” the clergyman said.

  • http://www.cpalanka.org Dr P. Saravanamuttu

    Dear Off the Cuff, my apologies for this very delayed response. The source of information re IDP figures is from UNHCR – figures I believe which are corroborated by the GOSL. With regard to the total number of IDPs in Sri Lanka, taking into account people who were displaced in the late 80s as well as those who are in India and on the whole, all those who have not been able to return to their homes and place of original displacement, a conservative estimation would be 600,000. Of this figure some 316,000 were displaced before the recent fighting. The current case load figure (09 Oct ) for recent IDPs that I have is 273,676. Families are given tents and some have to share. The issue here is also the number of persons in a family.

    I hope I have answered your queries and my apologies once again for the late response.

  • Heshan

    @ Dr P. Saravanamuttu:

    Do provide statistics for the number of Tamils displaced by the building of High Security Zones in the North and East. It will be interesting to see how this figure compares to the number of Muslims displaced by LTTE demographic alterations.