Moving away from democracy in Sri Lanka

The present Sri Lankan government has proved that though Sri Lanka is a small country, it has been able to achieve many things that other countries, specially in the West have not been able to. Nowhere in the world has terrorism been crushed and destroyed using only force. “Destroying terrorism is not a crime” the Defense Secretary told Stephen Sackur of the BBC. What was implied is that the means we used cannot be questioned. In other countries a military solution goes hand in hand with a political solution. In Sri Lanka the government believes that there is no political problem and therefore a political solution is not necessary. If that is so what made the LTTE take up arms? “There was no reason. They were born terrorists and the only solution was to exterminate them. We have done it. Now, don’t talk about the past, and put forward the demands of the terrorists like power sharing and devolution of power”, seems to be the government’s answer. Most Sri Lankans including some Tamils have accepted this answer. People of most other countries would not have. That too is an achievement of the Rajapaksa regime. Finally the Rajapaksa brothers have convinced the people that democracy imposed on us by our colonial masters is not such a wonderful system. It is much safer to hand over power to one family. The Rajapaksas did not take over power by staging a coup (Although Sarath Fonseka has called the presidential election the biggest coup!)Using different methods, they merely persuaded the people to vote the whole family into power, for after all the President can only trust his family members and friends. As Gotabhaya Rajapaksa pointed out in his ‘Hard Talk’ interview all members of the Rajapaksa family received a massive number of preferential votes. When Stephen Sackur questioned whether it was healthy in a vibrant democracy, for one family to hold such wide powers, Gotabhaya’s answer was, “If the people gives all that power – all Rajapaksas were elected – so what? If the people want the Rajapaksas – let it be” This then is the biggest achievement of the Rajapaksas,that they have been able to make the people want them, perhaps to stay in power for ever.

Anyone who watched Gotabhya Rajapaksa on BBC would have realized that Sri Lanka is now firmly on the road away from democracy towards authoritarian rule. Gotabhya Rajapaksa was bold enough to tell Stephen Sackur that General Sarath Fonseka, who was mainly responsible for winning the war for the Rajapaksas could be executed if he were to agree to testify before any independent investigation of alleged abuses during the war. To quote his own words, “He (Sarath Fonseka) cannot do that. He was the commander. That’s a treason, we will hang him if he do that. I am telling you. How can he betray the country? He is a liar, liar, liar”. Such is the power of the Rajapaksas. The Defense secretary was not elected by the people but he seems to be the most powerful man of the present regime.

Not satisfied with the power they already wield, the regime plans to legally acquire unlimited powers for an unlimited period of time, by changing the constitution. The AHRC (Asian Human Rights Commission) referred to the taking over of the Attorney General’s Department by the President as “one more nail in the coffin, one more step on the road to consolidation of despotic government in Sri Lanka”. But there are more nails to come in the form of constitutional reforms to firmly seal democracy in a coffin. The new constitution would remove the 2 terms limit and give Mahinda Rajapaksa the freedom to remain President for life if he wished to or at least till he could hand over power to Namal Rajapaksa who is already referred to as the “heir apparent”. The senate would make it possible for any pro-democracy law to be effectively vetoed. That would be another nail in the coffin.

Stephen Sackur thinks, “The suggestion that General Fonseka could be executed is likely to cause a political storm in Sri Lanka”. He is wrong. We Sri Lankans know better. There will be no political storm, not even a strong breeze. The Rajapaksa brothers have seen to that. They have convinced the majority that while they won the war on terror and saved the country, General Fonseka has been proved to be a traitor, willing to betray the country. It may not take very long for the same people to be ready to cheer and applaud the hanging of this ‘traitor’ if and when the Rajapaksas decide to do so.

Organizations and institutions that could have staged a protest have been effectively silenced. The media has been the worst hit. Many journalists have been threatened, killed, abducted, tortured, disappeared or exiled for criticizing the government. Any thing that is said in support of these journalists is called LTTE propaganda. Even the killing of Lasantha Wickramatunga is being referred as part of anti-government (LTTE) propaganda!

What about the main opposition? They cannot prevent this erosion of democracy as long as Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe remains the leader. He has now forgotten the ceasefire days when he spoke of a political settlement based on power sharing with the minorities. Like the Rajapaksa cabal he too seems to believe that ultra nationalism is the way forward and it is wiser to share power with the Rajapaksas than with the minorities. Being with them he helps the brothers to consolidate their power base. When Chamal Rajapaksa was chosen as the speaker of the House Ranil Wickramasinghe was expected to protest.  But he did not. Instead he lent his support to the Rajapaksa brothers and made his own job secure. Some people are beginning to wonder whether there is a secret agreement between Ranil Wickramasinghe and Mahinda Rajapaksa that while one remains President for life the other remains leader of the opposition for life. And so the UNP remains weak and ineffective unable to convince the people that willingly handing over all powers to one man and his family would ultimately destroy their freedom, and when that realization dawns it would be too late.

What about the intelligentsia in this country? Today many professionals and intellectuals are supportive of the Rajapaksa regime. They are ever willing to “protect the President’s good name”. Well known and respected intellectuals are prepared to accept a “little more corruption (un provable) and a little more nepotism (which is understandable)” from the Rajapaksa brothers – all this support is of course purely in the interest of the country they say.

What of the left parties and their leaders? As pointed out by Kusal Perera (June 06th, Sunday Leader) the old left parties like the LSSP and CP do not have any organized party structures as they had in the 50s and 60s. Their leaders are more interested in holding ministerial posts than in offering any constructive criticism. Enjoying state privileges and supporting a corrupt regime they have lost all credibility among the people. Left leaders of the past like N.M., Colvin and Leslie among many others were men of political integrity and honesty. Today there is none among the left parties of that caliber who could give leadership to the dissenting voices. Wickramabahu Karunaratna’s is a lone voice in the wilderness. The JVP does keep protesting but the people do not trust them due to their violent past.

Finally the people could protest against these moves towards authoritarianism but that is very unlikely. Most Sri Lankans are not perturbed by the sweeping powers exercised by the Rajapaksa brothers. To them what matters is that there is peace in the country. They are free to move around without any fear of sudden bomb explosions. There is security and they also believe that the economy is growing and the cost of living will gradually come down with development. As to freedom of expression, independence of the judiciary, probing war crimes and bringing those found guilty to justice, implementation of the 13th and 17th amendments, preventing Human Rights violations, abuse of power and corruption among the politicians, police and the government officials, and finally treating the minorities as equals through power sharing – these mean nothing to them. They are happy within the cocoons they have woven around themselves and refuse to see the reality outside their world. Amidst such apathy and indifference of the people, is there any hope of democracy surviving in Sri Lanka? An honest answer would be “No, not really”. But then as Kumar David says, “Weep not for the People; their mandate was the executioner’s Certificate”. (May 23rd, Lakbima News) Sri Lankans have failed Democracy.

  • Observer

    can i tell you something Leela? each has own opinions. you should respect that. we get our information from a wide variety of sources. we read local, international, current affairs and come to our own opinions. i can assure you rakapaksas are no mentok that can brain wash us.

    we have seen how democracy works in other countries and realised it’s flaws. doesn;t mean we agree communism or dictatorships are better. but we fully understand that ideal democratic utopia is a myth when you are also driven by capitalist agenda. when you define greed as the driving force of innovation and advancement, you have to agree corruption cannot be avoided. fair enough!

    as for gen fonseka, most people lost him at the threat he made to maj gen shavendra silva. that was pure jealousy because it ate him so much that it was his division that steam rolled into wanni and beyond. he brought his own downfall by joining with the traitor ranil.

    so please, you ought to understand each of us on to our own will decide what is best for us. you need not make assumptions what people have been led to believe or their intelligence. that is quite offensive to be honest. your believe in what you like, what ever rocks ur boat.. but don’t generalise the people. thanks.

  • Observer

    it is not sri lankans who failed democracy but the wall street who showed that they’re king and oil giants who showed they could persuade the president of the free world to invade another country and kill people. not even people (informed) in the west believes democracy is alive anymore. money, power, weapons are our rulers, as it has always been.

    why put the blame on democracy for failing sri lanka? bit silly no? it is unfair because it has failed all nations except the filthy rich. i am starting to wonder is wealth a pre requisite for democracy. so the rulers can pocket billions and still have enough left for the commoners to be happy. you know watch cable tv, buy mega litres of gas for ur gas guzzler, drink, smoke, eat and have sex till you die.. haha we’re all human after all right? just the right sized carrot in front of us will keep us running without complain. and even give up our rights. like u know let em wire tap our phones in the name of national security and that sorta thing…

    FYI in greece, the birth place of democracy, anarchy is on the streets unable to digest the unbridled capitalism and regurgitating what little is left of democracy! oh dear….

    us “peasants” in sri lanka though have other ideas – just be humble and live life. rajpaksas provided that peace so we can just go about our daily life. ur right in that sense only!

    these tear pieces as i call em will only appeal to those certain colombo civil society who wish unp and sf and numerous other odd bed fellows had won the last election so they can take sl back to the ol ways. drink rum, talk posh english at the clubs and laugh at how the gode aya lived… lol

  • Punitham

    Leela, thankssssssss.

    Most conscientious people would be dumbfounded but a few …. .

  • niranjan

    Observer,

    Ranil wanted to solve the problem peacefully through the CFA. Prabhakaran let him down.
    It was during the CFA that SL received huge amounts of money. That money helped us later to fight the LTTE under Rajapakse.
    When CBK was voted out of office in 2001 SL was recording negative rates of growth. Ranil W turned that around.
    The Rajapakses are yet to turn the economy around. The GSP will be gone soon.

  • Realist

    Dear Leela,

    Please read Observer’s comments. Then read them again.

    Democracy has four major failings.

    1) By the nature of trying to find one solution that represents everyone, democracy cannot accept any complete plan and thus offend some of its members, but must work out a “compromise” that preserves the appearance of change but, by adulterating and hybridizing details of any proposed plan, make it a muddle that defaults to the status quo.

    2) Intelligence and nobility of character are rare; most people lack these traits in the degree needed to make decisions for a nation, and democracy cancels out the votes of the intelligent (the minority) with mass opinion.

    3) Democracy encourages egomania by encouraging people to vote according to what brings them personal gain, ignoring the question of the best plan for all (usually beyond their comprehension). This egomania creates a passive citizen that acts only through the voting booth, and rejects all civic action outside of it, while expected government once elected to solve all social problems through more government.

    4) To motivate sluggish masses to pick one choice over another, democratic leaders must oversimplify topics and create theatrical opposites, ala Ranil. Proposals must be streamlined to the most simplistic four-second sentence available, and foreign nations must be turned into demons (Hitler, Khan, Satan), or in your world, China, Iran, Sri Lanka, in order to kick-start democratic nations to war before it is thrust upon them with attendant higher casualties and longer struggle.

    Bad leaders are not the problem – bad methods used to select them are, in fact, the problem.

  • Ilankaian

    Well done Leela Isaac, hope Srilankans would read and digest the gems you have [sawn] brought out, many feel fearful like the observer’s comments which show that the moral and justice has been buried in srilanka. May God save these sad people in Srilankan establishment.

  • Realist

    Niranjan, the GSP was extended to Sri Lanka to aid exports during tsunami rehabilitation. 6 years later, we are not doing tsunami rehabilitation. The GSP would have been relaxed sooner or later as the EU tried to allow other markets to compete there, and they dealt with more impending financial problems. It would also help our own industries now figure out they have to sink or swim and stop relying on handouts. While the Sunday Leader would like you to believe that 300,000 jobs stand to be lost, there is no actual industry statistic to prove that this is the case.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Observer, Realist,

    Interesting points from you both. Realist, what’s the alternative though, to democracy? Are we not forced into doing the best we can with it?

  • justitia

    “For forms of government let fools contest. What is best administered is best”
    – Alexander Pope.
    Let us first implement ALL provisions of the constitution and then decide if any need revision.
    But persons who find some provisions inimical to their political advancement at any cost, wish to change them, without consulting the people.
    This is the problem in sri lanka.

  • Belle

    Realist,
    I agree that bad leaders are not the problem as much as bad methods of choosing them. However, an effective democracy tends to offer some efficiency in this regard. Also, cynicism doesn’t solve problems either.

    Your description of the faults with democracy would be more apt if they were applied to dictatorship. Perhaps you are forgetting that in a democratic country, there would be free flow of information and that people would have access to an education in democratic values. As such, leaders wouldn’t have to oversimplify topics–the people would be ahead of them in this regard. They would have been educated to think critically and intelligently–yes, even the masses. Neither should democracy be equated with individualism.Though it emerged from that, democracy has developed philosophically over the centuries to include the ethics of equal rights, the dignity of human life. Democracy is not about finding one solution that will fit everybody, but to give a bit here to this community, a bit over there to that community, balancing various communities’ interests rather than catering to the majority. It is about creating a society with laws that allow its citizens to pursue their own life goals and interests and lifestyle, as long as these don’t seek dominance over others. Intelligence and nobility of character are not rare—people can be socialized/educated into these. It is a deep regard for democratic values that created such heroes as Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and everyday we see people sacrificing their own interests to support various social causes. I realize there is a cynicism here about civil society actors, but my own experience of them has only evoked admiration.

    I don’t know if you follow Malaysian politics, but a few years ago, people defeated state attempts to polarize them racially and almost brought a democratic opposition alliance into power. Malays who are given special privileges and aid were willing to give these up so that these could be re-distributed to the needy. It was quite amazing to see majority Malay electorates in various states vote for Chinese and Indian and other non-Malay representatives. How did the opposition alliance do it? Through brilliant communication, especially through the new media (which tyrants are not able to commandeer).

    Observer,

    It’s ironic that you caution the writer to respect alternative views, and then demonize people like Ranil W. Perhaps you consider him to be a traitor, but others may not think so. There are those who voted for him and his party.

    I get it that you don’t care for democracy, but your understanding of it is highly jingoistic. Yes, democracy does often cohabit with capitalism to no good end for those who are less wealthy. But it is also democracy, such as through various types of civil society action, that seeks to address such inequities.

    Wealth is not a pre-requisite for democracy, but rather democracy appears to be a pre-requisite for wealth. Amartya Sen has a lot to say about that.

    The Rajapakses brought peace? I guess you could say a sedated life is a kind of peaceful existence.

  • Realist

    SomewhatDisgusted:

    In my view, the answer is twofold. Seeing that democracy is a disaster is impossible for most people. They do not think on the scope of what happens beyond their lifetime to areas larger than a local community. Democracy gives them an easy, lazy, pampered life where they feel they have enough control to restrain more competent people from compelling them to live less uselessly. This collective blindness is further proof that democracy is a failure: government “by the people” does not consider the question of what is right for all of us and the environment, but is well-tuned to individual selfishness and egomania.

    In preference to democracy, I suggest:

    1) Local government, perhaps along the lines of 13th/13+, but at a much more individual level. All people governed and their leaders should have daily contact and be dependent on the same local economy. Larger alliances can be made for continental military defense, road-building, and environmental cleanup.

    2) A wise leadership caste. All those who are not only smart, but healthy/beautiful and capable of noble judgment should form this hereditary group. From these leaders are picked, and the rest of these counterbalance any single leader. Those who inherit caste but lack skills are excluded.

    Our methods:

    1) Convince our people that bad leaders are not the problem, but bad methods used to select them. Even with good people, democracy is a failure. And most people fall short of even that criterion.

    2) Illustrate that our “freedom” includes no option for changing the nature of our system to something other than democracy/consumerism. Even to elect Communists is to still have a government based on motivating people through money, and measuring them through money.

    3) Educate people in the global and complete history of democracy and its failures, including the ancient Greeks and prior societies. Point out that in every instance, democracy has failed and converted healthy empires into secret oligarchies of power manipulating clueless and greedy masses.

    4) Nominate people for a leadership caste, educate them for that role, and paradoxically, get them elected for local government positions.

    The thing is, this is already happening in SL, or at least some of it, slowly and surely. The future to me is bright, if only we can stop whining and see the bigger picture beyond just tomorrow and ourselves.

  • wijayapala

    Not sure if I agree with Observer and Realist. I definitely do not agree that the Rajapakshas are moving SL away from democracy. Why would Mahinda eliminate a system that brought him to power (and will continue to do so)?

    It is not democracy at stake; rather it is the rule of law.

    Ms. Isaac addressed the real threat to democracy only in the middle of her piece: not having a credible opposition

    What about the main opposition? They cannot prevent this erosion of democracy as long as Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe remains the leader.

  • Heike

    Awesome piece of reporting and journalism! I love the subtle hints of sarcasm:) I really appreciate the detailed information and have been thoroughly enlightened. Thank you.

    I am only an outsider looking in and only recently, through the guidance of supplied links and information by a couple of people who care very much about SL, have learned about the truly tragic plight that is Sri Lanka.

    Doing a lot of reading and my own research, I’ve become a strong supporter of the Tamils’ fight for human rights, democracy, and Freedom of Speech. And to finally, hopefully one day, receive a tiny bit of satisfaction by seeing Rajapaksa and his henchmen be tried and prosecuted for their bloody war crimes.

    It’s my opinion, for what it’s worth, that those satisfied with the way the Family Rajapaksa regime is running your country must not have suffered or lost anyone- or thing, or they are simply afraid to speak out and stand up against this totalitarian government, with a democratic facade for the international community, running the show. Not that I’m fit to make any judgment call, since I’m far from a brave soul myself.

    I recently discovered that many people in Sri Lanka seem to neglect, disrespect and overall have a lack of appreciation for the island’s first and indigenous people, the Wanniyalaeto peoples. There are not many left of these aboriginal peoples, who seem friendly and generous. They certainly have no say over anything to do with Sri Lanka.

    My point is that historically one of the main problems between the Sinhalese and the Tamils has been who was first and more rooted in Sri Lanka. Well, it’s neither according to anthropological and archeological data, and in my opinion, respecting and ensuring human rights and equality for the Vedda peoples, and allowing them their individuality is certainly a step towards a democracy of equal opportunity and justice for all. I do realize that many Vedda at one time or another have intermingled and intermarried with the Sinhalese and possibly Tamils, but the few left seem to truly want to hold onto their culture and way of life.

    As a people who have been suppressed, oppressed, tortured, almost annihilated courtesy of attempted genocide by their own government, and are still suffering in a dictatorial regime and living in IDP camps, I would think the Tamils would embrace the Wanniyalaeto for who they are, their culture and what they believe in. These are my thoughts and opinion.

  • Burning_Issue

    Ilankaian,

    “Well done Leela Isaac, hope Srilankans would read and digest the gems you have [sawn] brought out, many feel fearful like the observer’s comments which show that the moral and justice has been buried in srilanka. May God save these sad people in Srilankan establishment.”

    To me people like Realist and Observer are just the tip of an iceberg in the Sinhala Buddhist society. Many of such people are prepared to teat the minorities as somewhat equal but not at the expense of compromising on Sinhala Buddhism. To hell with democracy; who cares about the International Standards; the president has shown the way in defiant to the interfering busybodies of the Christian West safeguarding the unique spices, the Sinhala Buddhists, of great history and achievements!

  • Travelling Academic

    “Sri Lankans have failed Democracy.” is, in my view, too harsh a conclusion about my countrymen (and country-women) based on them voting the present regime into power. I think the voters did precise calculations and found more positives than negatives in MR++. And what choice did they have? I was travelling a lot in SL in the run-up to the recent elections and observed that the opposition had no imagination: neither in substance nor in selling. Many I spoke to — taxi drivers, thambili vendors and arbitrary people in the Kandy intercity train all appeared proficient in constrained optimization.

    The bad news is that there isn’t going to be a step change in the current setting in the near future because any opposition or criticism — however mild –will be portrayed by analysts and law enforcers as “residuals of terror” or “you have no right to speak now because you were silent when VP sent suicide bombers.” (And there are good examples of such logic in this forum too.)

    IMHO, aiming to achieve slow change by working with the system is the only way forward.

  • Muhunthan

    Well done Leela,

    You have expresed the feelings of the ordinary people of this country rather than politicians or scientists. This is a simple article without any intellectual or reseached theories understandable to any ordinary readers, but you have conveyed the message lucidly. Gen. Fonseka once said the President is a despotic dictator and only he is proving it now by himself and his siblings. He will change the constitution to enable him to rule this contry for more than two decades and then pass it on to the Prince. The Sri lankan ( sinhalese ) will also support that passively, it is sure.

  • Realist

    Heike:

    “It’s my opinion, for what it’s worth, that those satisfied with the way the Family Rajapaksa regime is running your country must not have suffered or lost anyone- or thing,”

    This may be your opinion, but it is wrong. I have suffered and lost many members of my family who were in the military, including as far back as 1984. The reason people are supportive of the government is because they are NO LONGER losing anyone.

    Currently, the complaints are more about the cost of living than the rule of law. People do not seem to care much about what is going on around them until their own needs have been fulfilled.

    Most of those bloviating online are also too young to remember/were not born during the fear psychosis that prevailed during the mid-late 1980s and early 1990s, right until Premadasa met his demise. Never did we think at the time that he would be looked back upon almost fondly as one of the better (for some the best?) presidents we have had. Back then, everything we knew was via what little independent newspaper and magazine media there was, as there were no private TV or radio stations, and certainly no Internet websites and search engines, to disseminate information or misinformation.

    As for the people’s worry of the cost of living, well, you have your beloved UNP opposition policies and the IMF to thank for that. Next to the LTTE, they have been almost single handedly responsible for bringing this country’s economy down to the position it is in today. Anybody who has realised how they have been negatively affected by these policies will never vote for the UNP in its current form again. Don’t blame the government for having to increase taxes and bring cost of goods along in line with the world market in order to sustain the infrastructure development that is going on in this country. For those of you complaining about the government having a grip on every aspect of the country, then why have they put some respected private business leaders (and pro-opposition at that) in charge of some of the biggest state engines?

    For an interesting and academic insight into how the UNP ruined the country, please read Dr. Garvin K’s article here: http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2009/10/26/the-antics-of-the-unp/

    Further set of informative economic articles here: http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/category/by-garvin-karunaratne/

    If you don’t see a credible opposition, then go and form your own. Until then, it is what it is.

  • Realist

    @Burning_Issue:

    I am not sure where you draw that conclusion from, given that I am not even a Buddhist :) In any case, if you read what I’ve written, you can clearly see I am in favour of devolving power away from the centre, including in areas that have historically never been Sinhala or Buddhist.

    @Heike, I have no idea where you get the impression that the Veddas want to retain and cling on to their own culture. Unfortunately, many of them have given up on their culture and gone off in to the mainstream to Westernize themselves. Even those that remain have for the most part adopted many mainstream trends (including cellphones). The blame for this lies with us, and no amount of protectionism is going to fix this now.

    @Belle:

    You seem to base your solution on the premise that the majority is always right. Finding the right answer for a whole system – people, earth and culture – is difficult. Democracy sidesteps that question and functions by selecting the most popular option, promoting alongside it a social order of the same. If many (but not necessarily most) people like something, it must be good, regardless of its consequences. Suppose a product is garbage, a leader is criminal-minded, or a social group psychotic? As long as the product, person or group is popular, these questions are never raised. Popularity justifies any behavior, and for this reason no social or moral standards withstand the assault of democracy.

    Popularity (democracy, consumerism, trends) defines our social values by the appearance of things. But beautiful actors often have rotted souls, and ‘equal’ people cannot often do the same task; our constant rhetoric and emotional distraction of talking about “freedom” is a mask to protect what is popular: acting for oneself, and ignoring the consequences for all. Democracy is greed motivated by personal instability and underconfidence. Moving away from it to the system I’ve highlighted above? Not such a bad thing, IMO.

  • Lankan Thinker

    Realist,

    Your suggested replacement to democracy proposes that “those who inherit caste but lack skills should be excluded” from being selected to lead. What about all those people who have the skills but lack the caste! Yours is a formula for inequality and injustice that will lead to revolution, not a solution for stable government.

    May I ask, would you be a member of the ‘leadership caste’ in your system?

    Your criticism of democracy is based on a misunderstanding that democracy is only about the mechanism for choosing our leaders through a vote Democracy also requires that leadership be transparent and accountable to the people. This requires that there be laws that ensure this transparency and accountability, and that everyone is equal before this. These factors are sorely lacking in Sri Lanka and are the main reason why democracy is perceived as a farce in the country!

  • Punitham

    Democracy in Sri Lanka????

    Ethnic Conflict and Economic Development- A POLICY ORIENTED ANALYSIS, John Richardson(1996) “Democracy alone cannot ensure ethnic harmony. Instead, it may allow freer expression of ethnic antagonisms and legalised persecution of minorities. In Sri Lanka, both S.W.R.D. and Sirimavo Bandaranaike won democratic elections by appealing to Buddhist-Sinhalese nationalist sentiments and denigrating the ethnic Tamils. Slobodan Milosevic, the former Communist Party Chief of Serbia and General Franjo Tudjman of Croatia won their presidencies by appealing to the most divisive aspects of Serbian and Croatian nationalism”.

  • Punitham

    Burning Issue

    Western world is full of people stampeding to learn about Buddhism. But they are simply petrified by ”Sinhala Buddhism”.

    As man’s thinking eveolves, many are leaving their own religions and embracing humanism(respect all human beings).

    I’m dying to see the day when Humanist Society of Sri Lanka grows strong enough to evaporate any ethnic rift.

  • rajivmw

    So many good people on this forum have tried so hard to debunk the prevailing stereotype of Westerners as sanctimonious hypocrites who make sweeping judgements based on the shallowest of understanding.

    And then along comes Heike…

  • Punitham

    Heike

    You want to learn about storms, tornadoes, earthquakes, volcanoes,… put in 62+ years of a small country with a virulent combination of geography and history and geopolitics??

    You’ll get a glimpse of it in:
    Paradise Poisoned, John Richardson(2005)

    (the product of about 20 years of research)

  • Realist

    @ Lankan Thinker

    I am not referring to caste in the sense of the “caste system.” Those who have the skills will automatically fall in to the leadership “caste.” This is how small devolved local government will succeed – more skilled folk with the ability to make a change being able to directly interact with their leaders and effect that change, rather than wallowing away in a corporate office, getting frustrated, immigrating, or becoming armchair warriors, as is the case with the current system of democracy. It is not a case of turning democracy to dictatorship (remember, the opposite of democracy is not dictatorship). It is simply modifying it to better suit this country.

    Only those who are afraid of change, or don’t really possess the leadership skills they claim to have would be afraid of this.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Rajiwmv,

    Well said :-)

    Dear Realist,

    First, on this issue:
    RE: “Even those that remain have for the most part adopted many mainstream trends (including cellphones). The blame for this lies with us, and no amount of protectionism is going to fix this now.”

    I see the Veddahs shedding their “keteriyas” and embracing modern knowledge as a *good thing*, as opposed to languishing in perpetual ignorance and backward technology. If not, they will be reduced to nothing but amusing anachronisms, museum pieces in fact, on display to the rest of the world.

    There is such a thing as human progress, there is such a thing as increased human knowledge, and it is a fundamental right of every human being alive to have access to it. Unless adult Veddah people voluntarily reject knowledge and like the Amish, prefer to follow a so called “simple” lifestyle, I believe that the gift of knowledge must be provided at least to the children to do as they please.

    In addition, I do not see cultural adaptation as a problem. The evolution of culture is *inevitable*. Trying to hold it in place is like damming a river. Sooner or later, it will overflow and escape, or stagnate and die. If one were to go back in time, say 1000 years, would we even understand the Sinhalese or Tamil dialects in use then? So what’s all this unnecessary fuss about culture and hanging onto languages and dialects? We need to evolve or perish!

    I’m not suggesting that we force another culture on them, but considering that their culture should be “protected”, is not a good idea I feel. Protected from what?

    “Those who have the skills will automatically fall in to the leadership “caste.””

    If I may fire off a few more questions in order to understand your position: you seem to be suggesting a form of oligarchy coupled with meritocracy? How will the members of the leadership caste be short listed, because there will surely be many vying for the limited positions? How will their performance be evaluated? Who will do that?

  • Heike

    @ Realist
    @Punitham

    Hello, and thank you both for your responses, important and helpful information, and also, for not disregarding me and my views as the outsider that I am.

    Realist, I don’t know what it’s like to live in a country like Sri Lanka, though I’d love to visit one day…The closest I’ve ever come to visiting a war torn country was when I was five years old, and visited East Germany, when it was Communist. All I remember even when the sun was shining was the overwhelming impression of darkness and depression, because the Russians did not rebuild
    East Germany as the Americans rebuild West Germany. All the ruins from WWII were still there as if it were yesterday but actually was twenty years later at that time.

    You see my parents fled the East when they first married; they did not want their children to grow up under the Russian Communist regime. The Stasi, according to the opinions of some, still controls much of East Germany though it may be covertly. It is said they are worse than the Gestapo of WWII. They certainly are to be feared.

    Where there’s smoke will potentially be fire, and too many people are not happy with the way things are in SL. Certainly people naturally would be glad not to have violence and arsenal attacks, having to flee and be on constant alert. for their lives. I cannot imagine what that’s like. Yet, it seems the government has ways of avoiding certain issues and definite talent for embellishment, to say the least.

    From what I’ve gathered, it is precisely this lack of respect, lack of truth and sincere regret for the Tamil population over all that’s happened, which is angering and frustrating them. The other fact, that I for one cannot disregard, is the notion that this government cannot seem to differentiate between the innocent Tamils and the supporters of the LTTE. In their hearts of hearts, so to speak, I think the government thinks of them all as the enemy. They are still very much concerned of a possible rebellious flareup.

    As for the Vedda, I did state previously that they, actually thousands of them, intermarried with Sinhalese, as a matter of survival already thousands of years ago. The few that are left are trying vehemently to hold onto their ancient culture, because they are on the verge of extinction.

    Punitham, I will certainly check out “Paradise Poisoned”; I appreciate that information.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Heike,

    And to finally, hopefully one day, receive a tiny bit of satisfaction by seeing Rajapaksa and his henchmen be tried and prosecuted for their bloody war crimes.

    Were any of the Allies tried with war crimes for what they did to Germany? Why not?

  • Diffpersepective

    “Moving away from democracy” – it is ironic that after 30 years of not having any kind of democracy in a large part of the country.. the people who made it possible to introduce democracy again to this part and bring the Country towards democracy are accused through innuendos, suppositions, outright lies and through word twists, of destroying democracy. Where has the government ever claimed that there is no political problem in this country.. in fact it has always said it will provide an equitable solution… maybe it is not forthcoming as fast as some would like but to say they have said there is no “political problem” is a lie….

    With regard to the outburst of Gothabaya R on HardTalk… the man should have stuck to his mother tongue rather than English for this interview… however in my opinion all he said there was that SF was a liar and if he said it then its treason for which the punishment is hanging… What is wrong in saying that?? he may not have articulated in the most appropriate way but the context was that!!! Remember only GR knows with certainty what SF is saying is false because SF is accusing GR here….!!
    Why should any Sri Lankan object to someone being found guilty of Treason and the punishment given???

    Democratic values and principles are not made overnight… For nearly 30 of our 60 years of independence Sri Lanka was severely hampered in building strong democratic values and institutions….. The electorate as a whole has to mature and elect and hold accountable etc… this took over 200 years in the US to come to this stage. Rememeber, it was only around 1965 that the Afro Americans got some kind of equality in the US and that was nearly after 200 years of Democracy… I am not for one saying we should take that long or not push for democratic values.. What I say is it is a process and would not happen as we may like it to happen immediately…

  • Punitham

    To all those who say so and so were not tried decades ago,:

    that is why the UN Charter was drwan up so that in the future such things shouldn’t happen. it is called learning.
    If we make mistakes in our personal life, we keep correcting them. Man has been using research a lot to avoid the mistakes others made before us. That is how education, health, agriculture, social services, etc have been improving in councils and states.

    Even living things considered very low in evolution avoid making mistakes by learning.

  • Vino Gamage

    Marcus Einfeld, judge of the Federal Court of Australia, in his paper presented at the Peace with Justice international conference in Canberra in June 1996, pointed out:

    “The view is often put by people who should and do know better, that we should not speak out on the human rights breaches of other countries for fear of offending them … that human rights breaches and abuses are ‘the internal affairs’ of the oppressors and are not subject or susceptible to international analysis and exposure. I see in this attitude only a recipe for entrenching and conniving in the violations. The Nazi holocaust and any other acts of genocide in this century, such as those in Armenia, Ukraine and Cambodia, have all been the results of this supremacy of so-called ‘diplomacy’ over humanity. …. The Tamils’ call for self-determination is at the heart of the war in Sri Lanka.”

  • Realist

    @somewhatdisgusted

    Re the “leadership caste,” even the most corrupt pig shows himself as honorable, regardless his political affiliation. I am not proposing the abolition of voting. Instead I propose voting be used to select these leaders, but not in the way it is done today. We need voting to limit the government influence, we need voting to allow mobility, we need voting to allow competence in the political sphere. The problem is that in democracy, everyone has the same right in voting. My point is that voting should be a privilege that can be earned and that can be lost.

    For starters, voting could be limited to those who could demonstrate their ability to reason, their knowledge of politics and current events, and their willingness to spend time and effort actually thinking things through to the long run. All these things can be tested to some extent. This would thin out the herd of incompetents by a lot already and does not require all that much effort or reforming of the system. I watched an interview with Champika Ranawaka where he was proposing something along these lines, though not using those exact words. It was his explanation as to how people like him, who do not spend as much on marketing themselves during campaigns, still get elected, while people like Bogollagama who spend the GDP of Maldives on their election campaings are no longer with us (thank god).

    This would then still be a form of democracy, for those moaning about a departure from it. But a democracy where there is some actual thought going in to how leaders are chosen, which should lead to proper leaders being chosen, than a democracy based on handouts, free buthpackets, and a bottle of gul.

    @Diffperspective – don’t waste your time. Too many people who haven’t watched the whole Hardtalk interview in its proper context, and have forgotten how their beloved SF said much worse things during his election campaigns, now trying to milk the statements to their fullest extent.

  • Diffperspective

    @ Punitham
    To all those who do not see the double standard of the UN , let the UN begin these investigations and trials with the Korean War, Vietnam war, Non existent claims of WMD’s at the UN itself which resulted in the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan which precedes what they are trying to investigate in Sri Lanka… (the last days of the war) All these wars were after the UN was established and the precious Charter drawn up…. How come they do not seem to want to learn from these mistakes.. is it because as you say they are low in evolution?? What a joke!!!

  • rajivmw

    Realist,

    In mature democracies, there is indeed an unelected ‘leadership caste”: the civil service. It is usually staffed by people of outstanding academic credentials and reputable social backgrounds. They are generally not stooges or sycophants. And although they are sometimes called ‘servants’, they are often effectively the country’s true masters. Perhaps you might be familiar with Sir Humphrey Appleby.

    Idiotic politicians are not unique to Sri Lanka – they are universal. The difference is that here, virtually all the meaningful powers of the State have become concentrated in their hands. Some people may argue that, since they are elected, this is more democratic. But I wish them luck if they’re expecting good governance to come out of it.

    I’m not sure that the answer is adopt various criteria for running or voting. This would be extremely problematic, both practically and philosophically. I think a better approach would be to slowly drain the excessive power of our politicians, and let it flow to other parts of the polity. The 17th amendment is a step in this direction. No wonder it is being resisted so furiously.

  • Realist

    @Rajivamw

    Yes, the civil service is a shadow (well not even a shadow, as it’s not even called the civil service anymore). A maternal relative who shall remain unnamed was at one time the seniormost civil servant in the country. He must be gyrating in his grave at what has become of the then CCS today. Unfortunately, there are very very few people in today’s highly politicised civil service who are NOT stooges or sycophants. At least this is what I know from a few links with today’s version of the CCS. Yes, the 17th amendment is a step in the right direction. I am not sure the members of the constitutional council, however, are necessarily the impartial constituent I would like to see.

  • Realist

    On the above post, I meant a shadow of it’s former self*, not a shadow of the government (though that wouldn’t be stretching the truth either :) )

  • Burning_Issue

    Diffperspective,

    In the case of Sri Lanka, there are credible evidences that the UN cannot overlook. The people were asked to congregate in the no-fire zone and had been fired upon. The UN itself conservatively estimated that 7,000 people perished during the last stages of the war; this cannot be over looked. I hear stories that, EPDP and PLOT members who advanced with SLA committed worst acts as opposed to SLA; all should be investigated and people of Sri Lanka should know as to what really went on. This is so that the future generation must find ways to live together than allowing such situations to recur.

    It is conspicuous that, if the UN is able to avoid any investigations they would; in this case, Sri Lanka has been well and truly snookered with uncompromising evidences. The Defence Secretary unnecessarily infuriated the foreign media rendering certain foreign establishments frivolous with total disregard; what goes around comes around.

    Just because the UN has not done its job in certain situation does not mean that it should not do it in all situations! Minorities must have a voice; an establishment like the UN is the only hope when majorities do not uphold humanity!

  • Burning_Issue

    Realist,

    If I had misquoted you it was due to posts appeared disorderly. I take my comment back.

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue,

    The people were asked to congregate in the no-fire zone and had been fired upon.

    I heard differently- that the LTTE herded the people into what the govt later termed the “no-fire zone” and then killed them when they tried to escape.

    I hear stories that, EPDP and PLOT members who advanced with SLA committed worst acts as opposed to SLA;

    Where did you hear these stories. UTHR-J, which has given the most comprehensive accounts of what took place, has not mentioned the EPDP or PLOT even once.

    Minorities must have a voice; an establishment like the UN is the only hope when majorities do not uphold humanity!

    Let me understand you correctly: you’re saying that the (Sinhala) majority which you label as inhumane should be humane to let the UN in?

  • Observer

    My question is, is democracy working anywhere now? A perfect example is recently in Australia how the democratically elected PM got booted by the rich and powerful mining industry (well their dirty work under the table) because the PM took them on, without an election!! Time and time and again it has proven that it’s the wealthy that are ruling the West. Not elected individuals. They’re just toy boys/girls of the wealthy.

    Barely 50% of the population really care about their grand democracies in the West that they bother to vote. If you take it on a statistical basis, Sri Lankans and South Asians actually believe in democracy more than Westerners. Anyway, then they’re given the keys to a vast deadly arsenal and license to kill, bully and be smug about it. I shall not go there now.

    SomewhatDisgusted,

    “what’s the alternative though, to democracy? Are we not forced into doing the best we can with it?”

    Unfortunately yes. My point is, I don’t think it’s really necessary to kid our selves or fool our selves that it’s the people who we really vote for that rule us end of the day. Why not be open about the puppeteers behind them and openly accept it. If I am being screwed over, least I want to know is who is screwing me.. That’s really all I want, not be hypocritical. And even more shamefully put that on a pedestal and yell at poor Sri Lanka.

    I am under no illusion as to who’s my daddy is (in a grander scale), if you catch my drift. I am not bitter about it as I have grown to accept it. Believe it or not, once I was morally idealistic too like most other youngsters, wanting to save the absolute dirt of the world. Then I quickly realised after few bruising defeats, if you can’t beat em, you join em… After all, now I am a stock holder of some of the companies which abuse human rights, environment and down right bend the laws and get away with it because they’re buddies with the democratic rulers or major donors to their parties. I defend them on the public arena to retain the value of my stock portfolio. I am greedy! In my day and even night job as a consultant I have aided in highly immoral yet very legal activities. I am in that sense have a hand in great evil. But I am absaf@#$inlutely okay with that. This is the capitalist democracy that everyone accepts as the norm. The right way! I can get up in the morning, look at my self in the mirror and feel alright…well still feel something. At least feel the need to cling on to my fragile life.

    Burning_issue,

    “To me people like Realist and Observer are just the tip of an iceberg in the Sinhala Buddhist society. Many of such people are prepared to teat the minorities as somewhat equal but not at the expense of compromising on Sinhala Buddhism.”

    FYI I am not a Buddhist. Lot of the Buddhists & monks in this country would be appalled if they witness my life style. Please don’t hold all Buddhist as the problem.

    Ilankaian,

    “May God save these sad people in Srilankan establishment.”

    God already has its hands busy saving the Queen and US. I don’t think Sri Lanka is a priority… haha

    Punitham,

    “that is why the UN Charter was drwan up so that in the future such things shouldn’t happen.”

    Iraq and Afghanistan still happened though didn’t it? Against strong UN opposition. UN is defunct. Get over it! Biggest guns rule the world, their way.

    Heike, lol you really should do more research or just stick to things you have a thorough understanding of. As an outsider, I think most here sympathise with your naivety. [Edited out.]

  • Observer

    Vino Gamage, last I heard, Marcus Einfeld is a disreputed man who lied about a speeding fine and shamefully got busted. cLassic dog ate my homework style excuse. What a justice he is. The man is not an honest man and went to jail. I bet… well I’ve been told he’s on the pay roll of diaspora lobby. Google him and you will find ample info on his shenanigans. People now believe he’s mentally unsound. Here is a starter…

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/jailed-judge-marcus-einfeld-suffering-from-grandiose-disorder/story-e6frg6nf-1225834057231

    IT was about the time former judge Marcus Einfeld claimed he had found the solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict that his psychiatrist was convinced he suffered from “hypomania”, a mental disorder that spurred him to act outside his normal moral code.

    Imprisoned for two years last March for lying under oath and perverting the court of justice in relation to a $77 speeding fine, Einfeld also told Anthony Durrell that he had the answer to the refugee problem and entrenched indigenous disadvantage.

    Not that the one-time Federal Court judge would reveal what his solutions were.

    “It’s not available to me at this time,” he would respond when Dr Durrell pressed him for more detail during their three appointments in jail.

    For Dr Durrell, such “grandiose” claims, and “over-enthusiasm” when talking about these topics, were a sure sign he had a previously undetected mental illness, bipolar II disorder, and its offshoot, hypomania…..

    Vino, personally I would keep him out of your eelam cause for credibility’s sake. Just a hat tip.

  • Diffperspective

    @ Burning_Issue

    I suppose you think there is no credible evidence of Agent Orange, Napalm and carpet bombing on civilians in Vietnam, Drone and other attacks on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and no one lied in the UN Gen Assembly/ Security Council about WMD’s in Iraq!!!! What hypocrisy dear chap??? What hypocrisy?? :)

    I did not say they should not “do their Job” (as you call it) in Sri Lanka….. What I said was let them begin with the ones preceding Sri Lanka.. There is big difference in the two or do you not see that in your haste to malign SL!!!
    By all means let old Ban Ki have an independent investigation on SL after he concludes such on the others that preceded SL. Let’s at least be consistent if not fair here!!!

    It is the height of hypocrisy that people who clamor for investigations in Sri Lanka in the name of the latest catch phrases of the US and their Allies; “human rights” “R2P” etc…. do not clamor for investigations of these countries who have done much more harm to these causes than any other and still continue to do despite their loud proclamations otherwise….:)

    Where are the lessons we are supposed to learn ??? “Might is right” is all I get out of it and old Ban Ki prisoner to that!!! :)

  • Belle

    Observer,
    Democracy is an aspiration, a goal to work towards. The journey to that goal itself is progressive, even if you can never reach it–because there will always be obstacles, people, social antagonism that stands in the way.

    Do you junk God because you have never seen Him/Her? I can’t speak for others, but belief in God keeps me going along a path I like. At the end of it, I may discover there is no God, but still I won’t regret the path I chose.

    By the way, don’t blame capitalism for your self-admitted greed and lack of ethics. Capitalist corruption can be resisted. Nor should you feel triumphant. The people who focus on resistance can ruin your stock portfolio. Plus, excess corruption itself can do that, as happened in the US. As some theorists have noted, capitalism develops its own self-correcting mechanisms when things go too far in one direction. Don’t get caught in the self-correction!

  • Burning_Issue

    Wijaypala,

    “I heard differently- that the LTTE herded the people into what the govt later termed the “no-fire zone” and then killed them when they tried to escape.”

    It is a known fact that the LTTE took the entire Winni people with them when retreated. However, once the no-fire zone was demarcated by GLSL in conjunction with the UN organisations, the civilians were encouraged to move into that zone; I am sure that you are privy to this information! I too heard stories that the LTTE fired upon the people who tried to flee; similarly, there are accusations that the SLA deliberately shelled the zone indiscriminately. All these accusations and counter accusations must be thoroughly investigated.

    “Where did you hear these stories. UTHR-J, which has given the most comprehensive accounts of what took place, has not mentioned the EPDP or PLOT even once.”

    I heard it from people who have no voice at the moment; who were in unfortunate situation to witness these alleged atrocities. The Tamils must be told of the gruesome acts that their fellow Tamils committed on them. They also should be told of as to how many Sinhala army personal reacted to seeing the mass bodies and parts of bodies carpeting the areas when they entered; many had tears in their eyes! It must be the duty of all Sri Lankans to pursue this until a thorough investigation is carried out.

    “Let me understand you correctly: you’re saying that the (Sinhala) majority which you label as inhumane should be humane to let the UN in?”

    I am sorry that the term I used, humanity, that has touched your nerve! The government of Sri Lanka only represents the majority community; it is not a secrete. It is also not a secrete that the GOSL has not shown humanity towards the Tamils; it is up to you as to how you want to take it. As far as I can see, it is Sinhala Buddhists V Tamils; GOSL is an embodiment of the Sinhala Buddhists; do you deny this?

  • Burning_Issue

    Diffperspective,

    “I suppose you think there is no credible evidence of Agent Orange, Napalm and carpet bombing on civilians in Vietnam, Drone and other attacks on civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, and no one lied in the UN Gen Assembly/ Security Council about WMD’s in Iraq!!!! What hypocrisy dear chap??? What hypocrisy??”

    Britain is my base; I have seen about three inquires pertinent to Iraq invasion; the last one was conducted in full public view; the former Prime Minster, Tony Blair was publicly questioned. The people of Britain were given a chance to decide for themselves as to where they stand on Iraq. Sri Lanka is not capable to carrying out such inquires treating the Tamils as equal citizens of the land; thus, there is a need for an outside body to intervene and that is the United Nations.

    I am sure there were credible evidences during the Vietnam war and other situations; the times are different now; the world press is allowed to monitor the goings on in Iraq and Afghanistan unlike what went on in Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan war was executed in absolute secrecy. Unlike during the Vietnam war the satellite technology has now advanced; it is now possible to read car number plates from satellite images! There is International Criminal Court that came into being on 1st of July 2002. There is a genuine attempt to counter mass killings, genocide, and ethnic cleansing; it is in this context that Sri Lankan war crime accusations should be investigated. It is not just the GOSL in the dock but also the LTTE and other Tamils militant organisations; if Sri Lanka were to completely rid of the violent past, it must be brave to allow a thorough independent investigation to commence.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Diffperspective,

    Although it may be hypocrisy for Westerners or LTTE supporters to call for these inquiries, there are many Tamils like Burning_Issue who did not support the LTTE and thus have every right to call for investigations into what happened to their brethren in May 2009. If this issue becomes a barrier to Sinhala-Tamil reconciliation then it has to be addressed. We cannot ignore it simply because we “Sinhalese” are the victors.

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue,

    However, once the no-fire zone was demarcated by GLSL in conjunction with the UN organisations, the civilians were encouraged to move into that zone

    To my understanding, and I could be entirely mistaken, the govt did not arbitrarily set a no-fire zone somewhere and convince the Tamils to move into it (how would the govt have communicated this to the people?), but rather established it unilaterally around the area of highest civilian concentration.

    If the govt was trying to move the Tamils to a place of its choosing, wouldn’t it have made more sense for the govt to declare a no-fire zone further away from the LTTE? (although I have to say that the govt’s idea of establishing any kind of no-fire zone that it could not honor was infinitely imbecilic and self-defeating) My point is that I do not believe the no-fire zone was intended to move the Tamils in a certain direction. If I am wrong, please correct me.

    The Tamils must be told of the gruesome acts that their fellow Tamils committed on them.

    How would they have known that these murderers were EPDP or PLOT?

  • wijayapala

    BI,

    “<i.It must be the duty of all Sri Lankans to pursue this until a thorough investigation is carried out. ”

    I agree, but unfortunately the loudest voices for this investigation are coming from the western powers and the human rights organizations, and therefore are interpreted as insincere efforts to undermine SL sovereignty. The actions of these entities are ensuring that no investigation will ever take place; the govt is using these demands to its benefit by claiming that the west is trying to punish SL for defeating the LTTE.

  • wijayapala

    Observer,

    FYI I am not a Buddhist. Lot of the Buddhists & monks in this country would be appalled if they witness my life style.

    I am a Buddhist, and I am appalled by the lifestyle of certain Buddhists and monks (namely the louder ones). Therefore you have no need to be self-conscious about your lifestyle.

  • Belle

    Realist,

    “You seem to base your solution on the premise that the majority is always right.”

    Actually I hold to the opposite view. Democracy is the only system that has the capacity to protect minority interests against being overwhelmed by the majority. For instance, how were laws against gay sex repealed in India, and gay marriage allowed in some US states if democracy is about the rule of the majority? Democracy provides space for people to be persuaded to vote for minority interests. Issues can be discussed openly; civil society can work with government in taking up causes for minority constituencies. I totally disagree that the masses merely look after their own interests. It depends on the socialization they receive. When I was in Vancouver in the 1990s, the garbage collectors were on strike and the public, including the middle and upper middle class, supported their cause, to the extent of chasing away scab workers who the government hired to replace the unionised workers. The public put up with a few months of overflowing garbage dumps, and threat of disease until the government gave the garbage collectors a fair deal. However, mechanisms must be included in the system for this to happen, i.e. it must be more democratized than less. When you talk of a corrupt leader taking hold of the popular imagination, that is what happens in inadequately democratized societies where there isn’t a free press, where there is state control of information and political activity, where even education is controlled. That’s what happens when there isn’t democracy so you can’t argue that this is a failing of the democratic system–it merely confirms the necessity for democracy.

    I agree with your suggestion concerning local government–but there you are arguing for greater democratization and trying to call it something else. Your other suggestion about limiting voting privileges to a certain group of people is merely elitism, a way of ensuring that the state only plays to the tune of the educated. Who will decide what constitutes the ability to make politically competent decisions, and who has the ability to “reason”? Leftist folks think the right wing are nutters, and vice-versa, yet both operate on reason. You could say Hitler too had reason–he did write a book on his theory of society. There’s an alternative method–educate the masses, give them access to various perspectives and sources of information so that they become competent and are able to make their own voting decisions.

    Singapore has the political caste system that you are talking about. The ruling party selects scholars, sends them to the Ivy League universities and grooms them for the civil service or semi-government bodies, from which they are then parachuted into ruling party politics. These scholars almost exclusively come from the upper middle-income group, with the resources to attend elite schools. They are a caste that has not known hard work, that has never seen the world outside of their class. They rely on book knowledge, and their practical intelligence and EQ is quite poor. As ministers, they constantly make mistakes (and tend to be protected by the ruling party). The really exceptionally good ministers are not from this hothoused ‘caste’–they come from less illustrious backgrounds and have succeeded through their own merit; some have an activist background who then join the ruling party because that is the only way they can really serve the public. What this ‘caste’ system has done in Singapore is to deplete the political class of independent thinkers, so that it is by mere accident that the really talented get into Parliament if at all. Thank goodness for the Internet and the new media because now the public is aided in seeing through the myth of the political caste.

  • Diffperspective

    Burning_Issue

    I am not willing to go round and round the mulberry bush with this but my objection is the double standards and nothing else… I am not a fan of the Rajapakse’s but I see this as a witch hunt… every one is entitled to their opinion and you have your with regard to Sri Lanka’s ability to conduct their internal inquiries and I have mine!!! That is not the point here!!!
    However it is ironic that you seem to be happy with the Chilcott inquiry. I see it as a whitewash with Chilcott and his hand picked accomplices proclaiming; it not a trial, there was to be no attempt to assign responsibility or culpability and no serious cross examination. You obviously seem to be happy with such a farce but I doubt the millions of Iraqis are!!! … you claim it was an ” opportunity for the people of Britain to decide for them selves” but my dear chap the victims are in Iraq!!! What about them??? Your logic seems to be twisted my dear.. You are quite happy to go along with a one sided inquiry in the UK to justify a war to the British people and not the actual victims. in Iraq. How come such is not good enough for Sri Lanka then????… Now don’t get me wrong.. My point is both should be international independent inquiries and Ban KI should get cracking with the first one… the Iraq war.. :)

    Also one more question…You say the LTTE is also on the dock!! We all know who will be held responsible from the GOSL if they are found guilty… Can you let me know who in the LTTE will be held responsible if the LTTE is found guilty??? I guess the answer to that is blowing in the wind!!! This again is a good story but a typical eye wash!!! :)

    @Wijepala I respect the anguish and the reasoning behind People like Burning_Issue call for inquiries. I too lost family and friend to this conflict and some without a trace… I too believe we should have such for our own reconciliation … However, i do not subscribe to the notion that we cannot do it ourselves… we can as well as any other country who have conducted their own in similar cases. If such is not good enough then we should be consistent and the same standard should apply across the board to all countries!!!

  • Realist

    @Belle

    Think of voting as capitalism: it depends on the consumers.

    That’s the triumph and the failure of democracy, on one hand, we have to accept that in certain degree, as are evident in your examples, democracy was effective to bring power to the masses. On the other hand, as evident in a much more macro scale in current world events, the masses are unable to meet the requirements of a real political participation. Look no further than the war in Iraq, and the extreme interest in Iraq, all in the name of non-existent Weapons of Ass Destruction. Is this due to public support and the opinion of the masses, or because those two countries have the 3rd and 4th largest oil reserves in the world? You be the judge.

    Just think about it, with a more selected electorate, we could fulfill the expectations of participation that democracy couldn’t! If you want to call my proposals democracy by another name, then so be it. It’s not the name that I care about, but the principle.

    That allows an alternation between aristocrats in power, not just spoiling nepotism that Plato correctly warned us about in the Republic.

    “If you want Utopian plans, I would say: the only solution to the problem is the despotism of the wise and noble members of a genuine aristocracy, a genuine nobility, achieved by mating the most magnanimous men with the cleverest and most gifted women. This proposal constitutes my Utopia and my Platonic Republic”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Schopenhauer#Heredity_and_eugenics

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Wijayapala,

    RE: “I do not believe that it would be possible to win the Tamils’ trust in the near future. This is NOT to suggest that we thus have no obligation to the Tamils and should do nothing for them, far from it.”

    Well argued. I too would like to see a good rebuttal of Wijayapala’s argument, because I more or less subscribe to the same idea. It appears that all our solutions revolve around making symbolic concessions to the Tamil people, with no real answers to their real problems or indeed, that of most Sri Lankans. The following argument is quite often raised (some might say by Sinhala nationalists?? that still does not automatically invalidate the argument though). The argument goes, over 52% of Tamils live in Sinhala dominated areas. So what good does devolution do to them? I think that’s a valid question. After all, does a Tamil living in a Sinhala dominated area need to move to a “Tamil province” to get equality?

    The answer I’ve received to this is that devolution helps everybody. But then, why is it discussed in a context of providing a solutions to Tamils, rather than finding solutions which solve the problems of all Sri Lankans? Bottom line – presenting solutions that *appear* to polarize communities on the surface, I feel will do exactly that – polarize communities even futher. I wonder whether it’ll bring about a situation where some will be going to “Tamil territory” and others will be coming over to “Sinhala Territory”, instead of the country being Sri Lankan territory. Somehow, I don’t see how that increases ethnic amity and gets us on the way to a modern plural nation. If someone can please explain how, it would be much appreciated.

  • Realist

    I meant Iraq and Iran* above

  • Diffperspective

    Burning_Issue

    just for clarity on your statement that SL is not capable of having an inquiry such as the Chilcott inquiry of UK.. which you allude to… I may agree albeit for a complete different reason…
    Notwithstanding the inquiry not encompassing any of the victims (Iraqi) views and it being not a trial and any responsibility or culpability determined and no serious cross examination allowed ..lets look at the composition of the so called impartial members… 3 out of five members share involvement with the Ditchly Foundation an organization that promotes Anglo American relations whose Director is Sir Jeremy Greenstock, UK’s Permanent Rep to the UN in the approach to the Iraq war and a potential witness… Let’s see who the Governors of the Ditchly Foundation are–: they are Rt. Hon David Miliband.. I’m sure you know who he is..NATO Sec Gen Lord Robertson and Peter Mendelsohn among others including Sir Robert Lync and Baroness Prashar, 2 members of the Inquiry!!. Sir Robert Lync in addition to being a Governor of the Ditchly Foundation is deputy Chairman of Chatham House and puts him at the center of the Transatlantic defense establishment. We have Sir Lawrence Freedman who told the “world Affairs Council” that the only lessons of history are no lessons” and then we have Sir Martin Gilbert who suggested that Blair and Bush may with the passage of time join the ranks of Churchill and Roosevelt… And finally Sir John himself who was a member of the Butler Inquiry that exonerated the govt on the intelligence of the WMD’s, and also suggested that the ludicrous claim of Iraq buying uranium from Niger was credible. All these people were hand picked by Gordon Brown and part of the establishment….

    You maybe fooled by such hypocrisy and an obvious whitewash.. but I am not!! :)

    Therefore I agree SL may not be capable of such duplicity and hypocrisy!!! So we will not be capable of having such panels!!! :)

  • Observer

    Do you junk God because you have never seen Him/Her?

    Maybe.. because he had to send his incompetent messengers instead of showing up him self! what a jerk….. just kidding!! :-P Well in all seriousness, I can give you a million examples why the god story/ies is/are the most far fetched load of BS ever written. But I won’t because it will be a futile effort. Believers will still believe because belief has nothing to do with reason. I suppose that other flaming thread here that is still going on is the perfect example of what I mean. I am just dumbfounded how even some agnostics have become hardcore believers!

    Anyway look this god business, if you want to believe in imaginary people, go for it. If it rocks your boat, hang on tight and enjoy the ride. But I do find adults believing in imaginary people to be somewhat strange. Sorta acceptable if you’re a scared kid and a loner but c’mon, you need to grow up and face the harsh realities instead of finding solace in imaginary friends right? I find better solace in real friends and family.

    Don’t get me wrong, I can sorta see the appeal of god. Having had a brush or 2 with death, even worse, having been given death warrants (which really sucks because there is that dead line that you have to count down to in agony), I have had those crisis spiritual moments wondering aimlessly. haha but that was just mortal fear looking back with hind sight. If that couldn’t convince me then I don’t see what else would.

    Sooner you realise, one day you will just die like countless number of people before us and become a pile of dust you realise only useful thing you can do is to create a legacy and die. If it is a good legacy people after you will thank you for that and curse you if it is a bad one. That’s all really there is to life isn’t it? well other than the other usual mundane & sometimes exciting things we all do..

    Anyway, you may also have the last laugh if there is indeed a god. Only one sure fire way to find out right? ;-) Let’s hope it’s far away as possible for all of us.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Belle, Observer,

    If I may interject with a few observations.

    RE: “Democracy is an aspiration, a goal to work towards.”

    Quite agree. I also agree with Belle in saying that the Sinhalese are indeed burdened with greater responsibility on account of being a majority. Otherwise, a democracy cannot work in principle. However, I have disagreed with Belle in the past, and still do, that minorities are devoid of all responsibility. They may be devoid of power, but not responsibility. If no understanding is displayed of the fears of the “other”, then *nothing* will work.

    RE: “Do you junk God because you have never seen Him/Her?”

    Not if you limit god to your personal life. If it becomes a part of the constitution or attempts to affect public life (i.e. religious indoctrination through schools), then yes, the question needs to be asked, on what basis?

    RE: “Democracy is the only system that has the capacity to protect minority interests against being overwhelmed by the majority.”

    Even if it’s debatable whether it’s the only system, and what practical difficulties we encounter, we cannot deny that any ethical system of governance *must* do its best to be fair by all concerned. In that regard, there is no doubt that Sri Lanka has a long way to go and that many people have not received the justice they all deserve.

    However, where I disagree with you Belle, is in the approach. You seem to talk mainly of idealism, devoid of pragmatism. You also do your clearly high level of education and the good arguments you raise, a great disservice by vilifying the Sinhala community in a blanket fashion. Respectfully, your education alone should imbue you with a greater sense of compassion and understanding for all people concerned and the complexities of this situation. It should also imbue you with a sense of the practical realities in a 3rd world country. IMO, I feel that your idealism is overshadowing such understanding with unrealistic expectations of an overnight transformation into a first-world democracy.

    I feel that, just as you are more than willing to understand the extreme depths of depravity that the LTTE was driven to, so too must you display a similar understanding and compassion for the Sinhalese people. It is that failure to do so that gets you dismissed by some as a racist.

    Last but not least, I do still disagree with you on what I perceive as a certain level of ethnic primordialism. I do not see culture as an unchanging monolith and I believe it’s unethical to have constitutionalized racial divisions for the preservation of culture, although this may or may not be a position you are advocating. Perhaps in that sense, I’m also an extreme idealist.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Observer,

    RE: “I suppose that other flaming thread here that is still going on is the perfect example of what I mean. I am just dumbfounded how even some agnostics have become hardcore believers”

    Not to hijack the course of this thread, but do watch the following. I think the arguments are too powerful to ignore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J3YOIImOoYM

    Thanks also for the links to John Stewart. They were (depressingly?) funny :-)

  • Belle

    SomewhatDisgusted,
    I am not sure how you are using the word “responsibility”. Do you mean in taking some blame for the situation, i.e. ‘responsibility’ as in ‘accountability’? If yes, I think the whole world knows what the LTTE and other Tamil militant forces and their supporters have done. GOSL has seen to that. But we don’t know what the Sinhalese-supported GOSL has done. The world knows almost nothing of the violence it has exacted on Tamils. So, for me, the urgency is to find that out first. Then, we can talk about who has to shoulder what part of the blame.

    But if you mean that Tamils too need to play a role in resolution and reconciliation, in understanding the ‘other’, I see little problem with that. Except if the ‘other’ in this case does not understand themselves. That is why I keep talking about the importance of Sinhalese self-reflection. It’s what is needed to start the process.

    With regard to my comment about God, I was not talking about the place of religion in the constitution and the state. I was making an analogy between God and democracy as aspirations, as hopes whose value lies in the effects they have in guiding our behaviour and life choices. I was responding to Observer’s comment that since democracy has gone awry everywhere, it has no value and we should not subscribe to the system. Just because a system is not perfect does not mean that its value system has no validity.

    With regard to my vilifying the whole Sinhalese community, people need to understand that I am talking about how they function collectively as a political force that enables racist acts to be done, whether by other Sinhalese or by a government that they elected into power. Political leaders cannot play to Sinhala chauvinism unless it is right there on the ground. To ignore this, and to focus instead on the undeniable fact that some, even many, Sinhalese are not racist is to allow the very real racism in many other quarters to continue to wreak its havoc. There is racism in this society and it is very dangerous and it has caused a lot of damage and loss of life to others, and I expect it will continue doing so. It needs attention.

    If people want to get annoyed by what I say, perhaps it is because they are looking for excuses not to address the issue. It’s very revealing that nobody has come forth and said categorically, “No, we are not a racist people at all. Look at all the racially inclusive things we have done; look at all the wonderful things we have done for the minorities.” If you can’t say that, then am I not justified in my observation?

    I am not ignorant of the complexity of the situation, but that needs to be tackled rather than used as an excuse for not acting. SL is a 3rd World country? I am no elitist–I think 3rd World countries too are capable of humanity.

    Why do you assume that I lack compassion? I am more forgiving of racism/chauvinism among the working class–they are deprived of education and economic opportunities, and thus become easy victims and pawns of the political class. There is nothing there that education and freedom of information cannot cure.What I can’t tolerate is racism/chauvinism among the educated and the middle-classes. These people know very well what they are doing, and they do it anyway.

    And I don’t have unrealistic expectations at all. My expectation is that no progress will be made with regard to devolution and solving the ethnic conflict—it will be buried, literally and metaphorically. Not because it is a 3rd World country but because of the regime in power and the people’s lack of will.

    As to your comment on culture, I don’t see culture as an unchanging monolith, either. I see it as dynamic and constantly evolving. The reason I argue for Tamil areas is because every culture needs a critical mass and proximity in order to thrive and develop. You don’t think they need this because your own community has that critical mass even if it is scattered throughout Sri Lanka. The same does not hold true for minorities. The minorities, for eg,Tamils, have to be able to go to a place where they can see their culture manifested all around them. Having that sense of belonging, they can securely travel everywhere else and integrate in a meaningful way with other communities and have real cultural exchange–with each culture gaining and changing from the contact. Without it, they will simply get assimilated into Sinhalese culture, and minority cultures will die out.

    The idea of Sinhalese areas and Tamil areas doesn’t freak me out. I love moving between Anglo Canada and French Canada–neither culture would have become so vibrant if the people were physically all mixed up together. Yet, people do move between these parts, and there isn’t cultural insularity and provincialism.

  • Heshan

    Observer:

    Maybe.. because he had to send his incompetent messengers instead of showing up him self! what a jerk….. just kidding!! :-P Well in all seriousness, I can give you a million examples why the god story/ies is/are the most far fetched load of BS ever written.

    Even I was trying to figure out, not too long ago, the exact reason why some people don’t people believe in God. Then when I read about the Sri Lankan Army soldiers desecrating LTTE graves, the answer came like lightning. I have come across lots of difficult questions, ranging from mathematics to physics… sometimes the solution taking several pages. But this question of what kind of people would desecrate a grave was entirely new to me. After all, dead is dead…. what can a corpse do? So I was asking myself, what kind of internal hatred would possess anyone to go after graves? Part of my answer was that such people do not believe in the existence of a soul. By extension, they do not believe in an afterlife. Because if you believe in an afterlife, whatever your religious background may be, you will surely let the souls of the dead rest in peace. So finally I reached the unfortunate conclusion that in fact, the Sinhala-Buddhist respect for life is less than the respect for life that those of other religions put forth. Part of the reason has to do with lack of belief in God. I am not trying to single out a particular group and portray them as this or that. I am saying, we are the product of what we believe… if we believe that there is no life after death, then what is a grave to us? It is just a rock that can be bulldozed away. But if we actually believe in God, the grave somehow becomes sacred. Even if its the grave of the enemy. After all, when a soul transcends the domain of mortality, it also transcends those myriad differences that humanity seems to thrive on.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Heshan,

    RE: “Part of my answer was that such people do not believe in the existence of a soul. By extension, they do not believe in an afterlife. “

    Your argument is a non-sequitur. Most respected scientists don’t believe in souls and an afterlife either. Are they going to desecrate graves as a result?

    Why did Christians have the inquisition and torture heretics? Didn’t they burn witches at the stake a few hundred years, unchallenged? Isn’t it *precisely* their belief in souls that made them disregard the value of earthly life? Don’t suicide bombers martyr themselves for religion expecting their soul’s eventual reunification with God?

    Please don’t come up with twisted arguments to rationalize your faith. Once again, you make a display of what a dangerous and divisive delusion religion is.

    Last but not least, do you oppose stem cell research too?

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Heshan, this argument is seriously one of the stranger ones you’ve come up with. Even from a Christian theology point of view, the soul in the dead body would have long since departed, unless you’re postulating that the soul hangs around in the dead body as it rots away? So what is the connection between a dead body and a belief in souls?

    And last but not least, didn’t you yourself profess a disbelief in souls on the other thread and a belief in a deistic god only? Would that not imply that you’re a potential grave desecrater as well?

  • Realist

    Please stop this nonsense about whether or not god exists, whether or not souls hang around, and whether or not grave desecration was only carried out by the SLA. It has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan,

    I am saying, we are the product of what we believe… if we believe that there is no life after death, then what is a grave to us?

    Actually Buddhists believe in rebirth. There’s an entire debate between Buddhists and secular agnostics elsewhere on this very topic.

    To answer your question in non-theological terms, the SLA is destroying LTTE cemeteries because they are primarily LTTE monuments with propaganda value, and only secondarily places of rest. Your devotion to Jesus (and the wonderful inquisitions/burning at the stakes etc conducted under His name) may blind you to the fact that most Tamils are Hindus who cremate their dead. Even the Christians do not maintain this sort of large-scale cemeteries.

    I really do not understand why the LTTE supporters are so outraged about how the SLA is treating the LTTE cemeteries. As demonstrated by the example of Rajan Sathiyamoorthy, it is a well-established LTTE tradition to desecrate the graves of the enemy.

  • Heshan

    Somewhat Disgusted:

    Graveyards are not unique to Christians alone.

    History in Graveyards

    Many of humanity’s earliest surviving artifacts are monuments to death. At least 500,000 years ago, human beings had already developed burial rituals. Many of the world’s greatest monuments, including the pyramids in Egypt or the gigantic earthen mounds erected by Native Americans, are tombs for the dead.

    http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/do_history/graveyards/index.cfm

    And last but not least, didn’t you yourself profess a disbelief in souls on the other thread and a belief in a deistic god only?

    It is not about what I believe, it about what the majority of the civilians in the Jaffna peninsula believe. Many of the graves belong to family members/friends – a sort of “last connection” on Earth. I don’t think that it is possible to explain this bond in rational/scientific terms. It would be like asking, why do people cry? Because they experience a particular emotion that triggers a neuropsychiological response? Sure, you could write plenty of academic papers on that, but while it is technically correct, such a definition does not capture the complexity of the bond formed over decades. What is clear is that humans mourn their dead – that in fact, they have a need to mourn their dead, and we should respect that.

    Why did Christians have the inquisition and torture heretics? Didn’t they burn witches at the stake a few hundred years, unchallenged? Isn’t it *precisely* their belief in souls that made them disregard the value of earthly life? Don’t suicide bombers martyr themselves for religion expecting their soul’s eventual reunification with God?

    The above argument of yours constitutes a logical fallacy known as guilt by association:

    Description of Guilt By Association

    Guilt by Association is a fallacy in which a person rejects a claim simply because it is pointed out that people she dislikes accept the claim. This sort of “reasoning” has the following form:

    1. It is pointed out that people person A does not like accept claim P.
    2. Therefore P is false

    http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/guilt-by-association.html

    In other words, your argument does not provide any valid argument for or against the existence of a soul.

    As for your argument about scientists not believing in the soul, that argument constitutes a logical fallacy known as “appeal to authority,” which I will leave you to investigate on your own.

  • Heshan

    *does not provide any valid evidence

  • Heshan

    Actually Buddhists believe in rebirth. There’s an entire debate between Buddhists and secular agnostics elsewhere on this very topic.

    I have mentioned Sinhala-Buddhists, as they do not believe in an afterlife. I don’t know about other Buddhists. The afterlife and rebirth are two different things.

    To answer your question in non-theological terms, the SLA is destroying LTTE cemeteries because they are primarily LTTE monuments with propaganda value, and only secondarily places of rest.

    So a tombstone has propaganda value? That is interesting. Perhaps you are suggesting that rebellious young youth also gather at these graves and plan massive attacks against the States? The purpose of propaganda is to exaggerate an issue beyond any rational dimension, and in so doing appeal to the baser nature of the target audience. In Nazi Germany, they had an entire ministry devoted just to this. Just like your friends in the SLA, the Nazis also destroyed Jewish graveyards. However, it had nothing to do with propaganda… the Nazis simply hated Jews, and dead or alive, a Jewish marker was a mark of the Jew, and since a Jew was considered subhuman , destroying such a marker was considered okay behavior. Perhaps it is a similar thing here. Despite your denials, the LTTE has been dehumanized by the State-owned Sinhalese media… furthermore, there is that nationalist ethos based on Mahavamsa mythology…. combine these two with the fact that most SLA soldiers are uneducated and from an extremely poor background, put them in a highly volatile environment such as the military, and it is not difficult to figure out why they desecrated the graves. I can ask the question another way: what incentives do they have for not desecrating such a grave? Unfortunately, these soldiers have nothing to live for but their own ignorance and a few rupees thrown from the Rajapakse coffers (perhaps the soldiers who engage in extortion and theft of Tamil property may argue differently).

    Your devotion to Jesus (and the wonderful inquisitions/burning at the stakes etc conducted under His name) may blind you to the fact that most Tamils are Hindus who cremate their dead. Even the Christians do not maintain this sort of large-scale cemeteries.

    You can only bring up examples from 200-300 years ago, which shows your argument is nothing more than superfluous. It does nothing to discredit my assertion that the SLA is comprised of uneducated criminals, and given a free pass by the State to behave in uncivilized ways.

    I really do not understand why the LTTE supporters are so outraged about how the SLA is treating the LTTE cemeteries. As demonstrated by the example of Rajan Sathiyamoorthy, it is a well-established LTTE tradition to desecrate the graves of the enemy.

    Your proof? html link?

  • wijayapala

    Dear Prof Heshan

    The afterlife and rebirth are two different things.

    Kindly explain the relevance of the above distinction to your thesis on the destruction of LTTE cemeteries.

    Just like your friends in the SLA, the Nazis also destroyed Jewish graveyards. However, it had nothing to do with propaganda… the Nazis simply hated Jews, and dead or alive, a Jewish marker was a mark of the Jew, and since a Jew was considered subhuman , destroying such a marker was considered okay behavior. Perhaps it is a similar thing here.

    Unfortunately, the SLA is currently not destroying areas that actually have historical importance to the Tamils, such as the Nallur or Koneswaram Kovils. Jaffna Library has been rebuilt.

    Why don’t you write GR a letter asking why he hasn’t been engaging in genocide properly?

    It does nothing to discredit my assertion that the SLA is comprised of uneducated criminals

    Alas, if they were all criminals then how come no country has been able to charge them with war crimes? ;-)

    The LTTE must have been a rather pathetic bunch of weenies to lose to some uneducated criminals, don’t you think? Why would they deserve their own cemeteries?

    Your proof? html link?

    Type “Rajan Sathiyamoorthy/Sathyamoorthy” into a search engine. I thought you would have the grey matter to think of that, but I should not be too hasty in generalizing your research skills. Happy googling!

  • Realist

    Most people are held to be incapable of knowing what the good for them really is, so they must be ruled by the few who have this knowledge. This is why Plato criticized democracy, in which the art of ruling is in the hands of a mob that has no knowledge.

    http://www.westga.edu/~rlane/political/lecture_Plato8.html

  • Burning_Issue

    Diffperspective,

    “You maybe fooled by such hypocrisy and an obvious whitewash.. but I am not!!”

    Well; you’re entitled to your opinion. The Chillcott Inquiry was about the conduct of the then government; whether it took Britain into war illegally and the intelligent materials were handled and interpreted appropriately. It was a US led war and Britain’s participation was in question. I think that, the decision to publicly conduct the affairs was remarkable. It is best that the people should recognise as to what was aired that furnished the people to understand what was afoot.

    The challenge for Sri Lanka is to strive to achieve higher standards; it is not good enough for you saying that “You maybe fooled by such hypocrisy and an obvious whitewash.. but I am not!!” and do nothing; you should have the guts to advocate a better Inquiry, better that what Britain did, and then you are allowed to ridicule other countries!

    “Therefore I agree SL may not be capable of such duplicity and hypocrisy!!! So we will not be capable of having such panels!!!”

    Show this in action; do not show duplicity and hypocrisy; show it to the world that SL can do better; conduct a thorough Inquiry in to the last phase of the war; reveal as to how many died in the so called no-fire zone. Doing nothing is not something that you can brag about!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    Your reply to Wijayapala you quoted:

    “I do not believe that it would be possible to win the Tamils’ trust in the near future. This is NOT to suggest that we thus have no obligation to the Tamils and should do nothing for them, far from it.”

    I tried to locate as to where exactly Wijaypala said the above but I couldn’t.

    “Well argued. I too would like to see a good rebuttal of Wijayapala’s argument, because I more or less subscribe to the same idea.”

    I do not believe that there are any attempts whatsoever to win over the Tamils that are afoot. The war is over in the south but the North & East is still besieged by the military that is busy planting Buddha statues and changing road names to Sinhala. It is also meddling into day-to-day lives of the people. The HSZs are not allowed for people to re-claim their land and properties. The military is tasked to rehabilitate the former combatants; what social qualifications that the military has to understand such a task? What is being projected is that, super-ordination, the Sinhala and sub-ordination, the minorities; this is the message that is loud and clear that is coming out of the government machinery. If you are in the shoes of the Tamils what would you feel. At this rate, there will not be any trust that will be bestowed in the Sinhala, rather the acceptance of the reality of sub-ordination! The Sinhalese cannot be proud of this situation.

    “The following argument is quite often raised (some might say by Sinhala nationalists?? that still does not automatically invalidate the argument though). The argument goes, over 52% of Tamils live in Sinhala dominated areas. So what good does devolution do to them? I think that’s a valid question.”

    It was the war that uprooted many, and some, who had the means, chose to take refuge in Colombo that bolstered the percentage to 52%. This does not mean that those people would have moved there if there were choices; neither does it mean that, they were living and enjoying their lives on par with the Sinhala and the Muslims for that matter. There is always fear in the air as to not knowing what will happen one minute to the next. Almost all of them cannot speak Sinhala; hence, communication has always an issue. However, it was better to be there than facing shells and Bombs etc. I think that, it may be a valid question but it does not wash with the Tamils as they are of the opinion that they are being well and truly subjugated.

    “After all, does a Tamil living in a Sinhala dominated area need to move to a “Tamil province” to get equality?”

    The short answer is yes! Unless, of course, the Tamil language provision is implemented nation-wide; there is adequate legal and constitution protection for minorities; artificial Sinhalisation of the North & East is ceased; promotion of the Sri Lankan identity is championed; to name a few.

    “The answer I’ve received to this is that devolution helps everybody. But then, why is it discussed in a context of providing a solutions to Tamils, rather than finding solutions which solve the problems of all Sri Lankans?”

    I have articulated on these forums before; the only way it can be done with the majority approval is to give a solution for Sri Lankans. Lets face it, the Sinhala underprivileged revolted first; the power should be decentralised to the provinces empowering them staking a claim of the governance. I am also of the view that, among other provinces, the North & East should be accommodated as separate provinces with both land police powers. Most importantly, the Tamil language provision should be meticulously implemented nation-wide; this will allow people to choose as to where they want to live rendering the ethnic segregation a non-issue.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “I agree, but unfortunately the loudest voices for this investigation are coming from the western powers and the human rights organizations, and therefore are interpreted as insincere efforts to undermine SL sovereignty. The actions of these entities are ensuring that no investigation will ever take place; the govt is using these demands to its benefit by claiming that the west is trying to punish SL for defeating the LTTE.”

    When the despicable ethnic cleansing took place in Rwanda, the west was silent and there were acquisitions from certain quarters that, it was ok for the West to see the Blacks kill each other! By the time, the world powers decided to react, peoples in thousand perished that could have been prevented. The UN was formed to keep order in the world; though, its powers and credibility have been undermined as a result superpowers executing their agendas nevertheless, its existence cannot questioned or done away with.

    When the Israelis kill the Palestinians, the world Human Rights bodies voice vehemently; many countries join in including Sri Lanka; we all welcome that! The recent UN panel that was sent to investigate the Israeli killings was being headed by none other than Dr. Palitha Kohona! Whose sovereignty was affected? How can the UN exercise its duties without carrying out investigations; why should this affect Sri Lankan sovereignty; how can government officials who commit mass killings, genocides, and ethnic cleansing can be held responsible without investigations? What is wrong with Human Rights bodies calling for such investigations; it is their very purpose of their existence; why should it be any different to Sri Lanka compare to other nations?

    No one is questioning Sri Lanka about them defeating the LTTE; there were thousands of people perished; their bodies unaccounted for; there were people who got murdered at the point of surrender with UN agreement; there were numerous children who are rendered orphans. Will there be justice for these people? Will the Sinhala Buddhists offer justice?

  • Diffpersepective

    Burning_Issue

    “The Chillcott Inquiry was about the conduct of the then government; whether it took Britain into war illegally and the intelligent materials were handled and interpreted appropriately. It was a US led war and Britain’s participation was in question.” – So you do admit that UK has not had an inquiry like what you demand on SL….:) Why the double standard??? As I said before this double standard is what I object to!!! Since you now admit that UK has not had a similar one.. let Ban Ki start with that….Surely that is only fair!!!

    “The challenge for Sri Lanka is to strive to achieve higher standards; it is not good enough for you saying ” – I agree 100% and we who do live and work and pay taxes and who will ultimately bear the repercussions of our actions will push, agitate and do what needs to be done… It may not suit the timetables of people who live outside SL or of people who have agendas …. but it will!!! Have no doubt!!! In the same manner we will not be silent to expose the hypocrisy of people who preach to SL but do not practice what they preach in their own countries!!! :) that is all I am doing here…exposing the hypocrisy of the so called paragons of virtue… :)

    “Show this in action; do not show duplicity and hypocrisy; show it to the world that SL can do better; conduct a thorough Inquiry in to the last phase of the war; reveal as to how many died in the so called no-fire zone. Doing nothing is not something that you can brag about!” – Why only the last phases of the war, what about terrorist funding, funding for suicide bombers and child soldiers, arms smuggling, drug trafficking, human smuggling etc. etc….. Lets do the whole gambit!!! I am sorry if you thought I was bragging… far from it… I was being sarcastic!!! :) SL is no better or worse than any other country – that was my point. … and to show the hypocrisy of those in other countries who preach to us!!!

    I was not ridiculing any other country… what I was ridiculing was the hypocrisy… I do not care tuppence for the Chilcott Inquiry or any other inquiry in the UK.. But when you held it up as a model for us to follow and you so enamored and impressed with it… I had to bring you down to reality with some hard facts… That was all!! :)

    I also note you have not answered this question which was posted before>>> “Also one more question…You say the LTTE is also on the dock!! We all know who will be held responsible from the GOSL if they are found guilty… Can you let me know who in the LTTE will be held responsible if the LTTE is found guilty???” Hmmm!!!

    And your advice to us to do better than other countries… I find it a bit condescending….. Don’t you???? :)

  • Observer

    First of all Heshan, can you please provide evidence of desecrating graves? Second of all, what about some LTTE carder who killed a deep penetration unit, beheaded them and left their heads on sticks to be found later by a 2nd unit? That is just tribal stuff. But I don’t think ill of Hindus because of that. Neither do I think ill of Hindus because some of the Tamils became suicide bombers or recruited their young off spring towards violence. If I had a generalising mind set like yours I’d probably have a very low impression of Hindus, but I don’t. Any religious person who leads a good life and sets a good example has my respect and needlessly to say, I find such people in pretty much all religions.

    That aside, do you have any idea of Buddhism? After life/re-birth is such a core part of Buddhism! I was shocked to read you say Buddhists don’t believe in after life. The whole aim of Buddhism is to stop rebirth by ending Samsara.

    Anyway Heshan, I am in no mood do discuss religion – which is explicitly the reason I had a very swift exit from that “other” thread. I only answered to Belle’s inquisition. Please argue in that other thread about superiority of God and all its awesomeness!

    And don’t feel the need to defend your beliefs. Your insecurities are not my issue, frankly I couldn’t care less if you believe in God or Smurfs!
    You could believe in Smurfs and I’d still respect that. Your choice buddy. Long as you do that respectfully and respect those that believe in Cookie Monsters too. If you think Smurfs are the greatest, people will think what a funny man. Had your mama raised you to pray to Smurfs, you’d be doing exactly that. That sort of ideology get people killed unnecessarily!!!

    In general, I just wish everyone who finds peace in God or Buddha or Elmo or Pantyhoses or whatever that gets them off would just shut [Edited] up and enjoy their peace…. But noooo then they go and want to convert others…peacefully or forcefully… Sigh!

  • Observer

    Diffpersepective, I thought this was extremely funny!

    http://bit.ly/c1zfeR

    Haha Miliband isn’t so smug now aye!!

    You know the funniest part. The hypocrisy of this inquiry too. YES you guessed it right my friend, it’s happening behind closed doors! Yes they can question Sri Lanka’s inquiry’s transparency but they do things hush hush inside closets… Wonder why they’re so shy… lol

    Ahh this is just too easy….

  • Observer

    excuse me, and pardon my smugness, I just really had to quote this bit from the above article..

    3.54 – Mr Miliband is licking his lips a lot. Still more fidgeting. He crooks his right index finger over his nose and shrugs. Mr Straw keeps whispering to Mr Miliband and touches him on the left arm. Mr Miliband’s fingers pull on his lower lip. He sighs. Springs up his groin and stretches his leg while keeping his back on the bench.
    3.59 – He looks up at the press gallery.
    And so it went on. He gurned, he grinned, he grimaced. When David Davis (Con, Haltemprice & Howden) demanded that the tribunal ‘follow the evidence wherever it goes’, Mr Miliband did a silent whistle.
    David Winnick (Lab, Walsall N) spoke of the ‘dubious record’ of some British intelligence people. Mr Miliband bit his fingernails and scratched his left cheek. The debate was monitored with what I think we can call professional interest by Richard Graham (Con, Gloucester)…..

    BAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  • Observer

    Hehsan, tomb stones aside is desecrating live humans like that of Abhu Grhaib, where people were striped naked and piled up in pyramids. Bastardised and urinated upon, water boarded. Does that say Americans just hate Muslims? What’s your point? I think the only thing that came out of your twisted logic is not how much Nazis hate Jews or Sinhalese hate Tamils or anything else, rather how much YOU hate Sinhalese. I pity you!

  • Observer

    SomewhatDisgusted, thanks for the youtube video. I agree with the speaker. He seems to come off as an atheist. Anyhow, thanks to the information age, more and more people are becoming agnostic and that is a good thing. I am just afraid that some agnostics are going to the level of militant atheists becoming so gun ho about it. That would be quite shameful IMO.

    And yes Stewart FTW! I’m happy again he’s gotten over the Obama crush he had earlier. I’m partial to the democrats because the republicans are still (always will be probably) far too right winged (even worse Tea party movement is hijacking rational debate using emotionalists like Glen Back – god forbid he wants to start an online university now!, yes that’s all the Americans in the Bible belt need right now.. lol) but still Obama is letting people who voted for him down either because he is weak or he’s not trying hard enough to keep good on his promises. And yes, The Change (TM) is yet to come depressingly!

  • Diffperspective

    Observer

    Funny is too mild… it’s hilarious!!! The Brits of Sri Lankan origin will surely not see the irony here…. On one hand these chaps preach to us and on the other get caught with their proverbial hand in the cookie Jar… My suggestion to all these chaps is “put your house in order before preaching to us” :)

    As that old Arabian Proverb … “Dogs may bark but the caravan moves on” .. likewise… Sri Lanka surely and steadily moves on… :)

  • Burning_Issue

    Diffpersepective,

    I do agree with you that there are factual evidences to support double standards in terms of how UN handled certain situations in the past. I do concur in terms of how the US foreign policy impacts the UN Charters. One can pick several cases in favour of gross injustices that occurred throughout the period of UN existence. One need to ask where one draws the line and start anew; how can the organisation assert itself as a credible body that stands up for its purpose.

    That aside; I am a Sri Lankan Tamil; I am concerned about what happened to the Tamils; there are acquisitions against Sri Lanka of mass killings; there are acquisitions against the LTTE of killing those who tried to flee; there is no doubt that there were unspeakable events took place during the last phase of the war. There were no independent witnesses; it is alleged that those LTTE political leaders who surrendered with the UN agreement were cold-bloodedly murdered by the captors. To me, this is the crux of the issue. I as a Sri Lankan Tamil want to know whether the GOSL did everything that was possible to safeguard its Tamil citizens. I am eager for the Tamils to know that the LTTE could have surrendered much earlier avoiding the mass killings of their own brethren! I care two hoots as to what the UN did or did not do; as it is not my concern but Sri Lanka is my concern and it should be yours too!

    “You say the LTTE is also on the dock!! We all know who will be held responsible from the GOSL if they are found guilty… Can you let me know who in the LTTE will be held responsible if the LTTE is found guilty???” Hmmm!!!”

    If the surrounded LTTE leaders had been kept alive, they would have been on the dock! Nevertheless, it is imperative that the Tamils should know as to what the LTTE was alleged to have done. The Tamil people of Wanni must be allowed to air their views feely and tell the world that they were taken by the LTTE forcefully as human shield.

    “So you do admit that UK has not had an inquiry like what you demand on SL….:) Why the double standard??? “

    I think that you are intelligent enough to know that the UK and Iraq issue and Sri Lankan war is incomparable. The UK had to show the public that the government did not take the country to war illegally. There are no war crimes allegations against the UK apart from abuses carried out by certain army personal that they dealt with separately. By contrast, Sri Lanka is being alleged of war crimes and killing the surrendered LTTE leaders against the Geneva Convention to which Sri Lanka is a signatory!

  • Belle

    Realist,
    “On the other hand, as evident in a much more macro scale in current world events, the masses are unable to meet the requirements of a real political participation. Look no further than the war in Iraq, and the extreme interest in Iraq, all in the name of non-existent Weapons of Ass Destruction. Is this due to public support and the opinion of the masses, or because those two countries have the 3rd and 4th largest oil reserves in the world? You be the judge.”

    Sure, economics is at the base of much political action. But Obama was voted as President on the promise he made to the “masses” that he would pull back American action in Iraq. In order to become President, Obama had to address the will of the people, or at least a large enough section of it. Whether he is elected to a second term will depend on the extent to which he delivers on all his promises. I would say the “masses” did express their political will in this instance.

    “Just think about it, with a more selected electorate, we could fulfill the expectations of participation that democracy couldn’t! If you want to call my proposals democracy by another name, then so be it. It’s not the name that I care about, but the principle.”

    It could by sheer accident fulfill the expectations of participation. But it also has the potential for oppression of the masses by the elite class. In 1984, when two opposition men entered the Singapore parliament for the first time in 20 years, Lee Kuan Yew said this: that perhaps the one-man,one-vote system does not work in Singapore! Surely it was pure good sense of the masses to vote for at least some opposition to mitigate ruling party tyranny. But it did not suit LKY’s desire for total power. At the next election, he introduced a new system where people had to vote by party rather than by individuals, i.e. a voter had to vote for a slate of four people in four different constituences. The opposition at that time was not developed–given government harrassment of opposition parties, few capable people entered into the fray of opposition politics. As such, voters were hampered in voting the opposition–they could not vote for one capable opposition member as they had done in the past because the other three running on the same slate with him were idiots. So then, even that one capable opposition guy could not enter Parliament. That was a real tampering with the one-man,one-vote system, and it did nobody any good.

    As I said earlier, Singapore has the political caste system which you recommend. But the leaders who have come up through that system are mere technocrats, lacking the drive and imagination/vision of the first generation of leaders–who had no political caste system to help them.

    Re your quote from Plato: “If you want Utopian plans, I would say: the only solution to the problem is the despotism of the wise and noble members of a genuine aristocracy, a genuine nobility, achieved by mating the most magnanimous men with the cleverest and most gifted women. This proposal constitutes my Utopia and my Platonic Republic”.

    Seems like Plato himself was aware that his own theory would only work in an “Utopian” world. In the real world, unfortunately, the most magnanimous men do not marry the cleverest and most gifted women. They tend to marry shrews. Or ex-beauty queens. Also, notice that Plato stresses a “genuine” aristocracy and a “genuine” nobility. What system would guarantee the emergence of the “genuine”? Who will define what is “genuine”?

  • Diffpersepective

    Burning_Issue

    I do not disagree with you when you say you want to find out what happened during the last stages of the war… It is only natural… and i think you should!!! I too want to find out what happened during that time, but i go further,,, I want to know why this war happened and also what happened during its entirety… It is not only Tamils who lost their lives but Sinhalese, Muslims and Burghers etc… In addition to what the GOSL did I want to know who funded the LTTE because they too are accused of worse crimes than the GOSL and those who funded are complicit in these crimes. I also want to know who facilitated the money flows who supplied them arms and aircrafts and other weapons , etc… etc… because i too was personally affected with family and friends being killed and missing without a trace and damages to property….

    My point has never been to say an inquiry is not needed.. where we may differ is the scope but nevertheless that is irrelevant at this point…

    My intention was to show the hypocrisy of the people who want such an inquiry in SL and to show that they have no moral right to call for such!!.. My point has been it cannot be forced on SL by people living outside the country especially by a section who is perceived by a majority of Sri Lankans as those who funded the LTTE (Rightly or wrongly) and certain countries who do not practice themselves what they preach to SL… By doing so they are only giving a rallying cry to those who do not want such inquiries and strengthening their political hands internally…

    I do not believe any one can force someone to be genuine in their actions.. it can only come with self realization and we as a country will have to go through that process of self realization if we are to put this behind us. This is a process…..It is not going to happen over night and i am sure that we cannot achieve this by using time tables put forward by people living out side the country and other countries who are perceived with distrust by a majority here due to their past actions… history has shown that countries take time to heal after internal strife and it is achieved by understanding and respecting each other and creating equal opportunities for everyone alike… For example the relationship between the North and the South in the US after a 4 year civil war took generations to regain normalcy… It is naive to think the problems built up over 30 years or more can be eradicated in one year and can be forced by international tribunals… it will only polarize more!!! … I believe a process has begun… it is by no means perfect but it is by no means all bad as some portray it to be…. :) It is the people who live here who will have to decide and agitate to correct the wrongs and move toward reconciliation… it is they who will have to take the repercussions if they fail… I have day to day interactions with people of all walks of life from all communities across the country from Dondra to Pedro, Puttalam to Trinco, due to the profession I am engaged in… I interact regularly with a network of 2000 + small, medium and large businesses representing all communities in all areas.. across this beautiful country… the vast majority of these people who i believe represents a good cross section of all communities in the country are of the same opinion as me…. this is not to say everything is hunky dory… But it is moving that way… :)

    Since you have shared with me a little info about yourself>>>>> i will too… I am one who studied and lived in the US for 6 years but returned home in 1994 two weeks after graduating with a Masters in spite of having very lucrative job offers, because I loved my country and was going to be part of its solution. I do not label myself Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher Christian, Hindu or Budhist but only as a Sri Lankan. However, so that you know, my background…. it is certainly not Sinhala Budhist!! and No I have never voted or supported Rajapakse or the SLFP. :)
    But have always supported Sri Lanka… :)

    Ciao

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    Unfortunately, the SLA is currently not destroying areas that actually have historical importance to the Tamils, such as the Nallur or Koneswaram Kovils. Jaffna Library has been rebuilt.

    Funny that you mention the Jaffna Public Library which was burned by SB thugs… yet again, the Nazis are also known for burning thousands of books.


    Alas, if they were all criminals then how come no country has been able to charge them with war crimes? ;-)

    The crimes they have committed have been in SL, not elsewhere (except for rape of little girls in Haiti). So your argument makes no sense.

    The LTTE must have been a rather pathetic bunch of weenies to lose to some uneducated criminals, don’t you think? Why would they deserve their own cemeteries?

    Showing your true colors at last. The inability to see an LTTE member as anything but a “terrorist” is the true hallmark of a SB nationalist. What is ironic is that in a different thread, where you were arguing with some teenagers about a documentary they made, you stated how in your interactions with Northern Tamils, they seemed hostile to you. The answer should be pretty clear now… you obviously have no respect for their family/friends who may have died in the LTTE, and you are unable, due to your brainwashing by “Daily Noise”, to comprehend the psychological aspects of these civilians having to live in the presence of a foreign occupying army. Forget volunteer work; you might as well join Wimal in his death fast, since you two share a similar mentality.

    Type “Rajan Sathiyamoorthy/Sathyamoorthy” into a search engine. I thought you would have the grey matter to think of that, but I should not be too hasty in generalizing your research skills. Happy googling!

    I asked for a direct html link. Your inability to provide one simply shows your claim is baseless. I have done my own research and found nothing to indicate the LTTE destroyed any graves.

    By the way, you also stated that the graveyards are a “propaganda symbol.”

    Here is a picture of an LTTE cemetery:

    http://l.yimg.com/g/images/spaceball.gif

    No LTTE flags – all I see are rows of very well-maintained tombstones, with innocuous inscriptions.

  • Heshan

    Observer:

    First of all Heshan, can you please provide evidence of desecrating graves?

    It’s a well-known fact. But I’m glad you asked for proof. Here is one credible source (a Sinhalese journalist):

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/04/sri-lanka-must-respect-war-memory

    Second of all, what about some LTTE carder who killed a deep penetration unit, beheaded them and left their heads on sticks to be found later by a 2nd unit?

    Can you provide proof of this? Even if it is true, killing your enemy in battle and desecrating the body is very different from destroying a memorial to your enemy, e.g. not letting your enemy rest in the Earth. In the Greek story “Illiad”, if you recall, when Achilles killed Hector, he attached the body to a chariot and dragged it… nevertheless, the body of Hector was eventually returned to the Trojans. There are still Nazi graves (graves of German soldiers who fought in WWII) all over Europe, despite the atrocities that the Nazis committed in those nations – atrocities ten times worse than suicide bombings.

    That is just tribal stuff. But I don’t think ill of Hindus because of that. Neither do I think ill of Hindus because some of the Tamils became suicide bombers or recruited their young off spring towards violence. If I had a generalising mind set like yours I’d probably have a very low impression of Hindus, but I don’t. Any religious person who leads a good life and sets a good example has my respect and needlessly to say, I find such people in pretty much all religions.

    It would be rather silly if you had a low opinion of Hinduism, since the founder of your religion, Buddhism, was also a Hindu, and since practically every major Buddhist belief is simply a modified version of the Hindu one.


    That aside, do you have any idea of Buddhism? After life/re-birth is such a core part of Buddhism! I was shocked to read you say Buddhists don’t believe in after life. The whole aim of Buddhism is to stop rebirth by ending Samsara.

    You cannot just look at the religion/philosophy. If people went by just the religion/philosophy, the SL politicians would be living in shacks (not mansions), and the Tamils would have had their homeland a long time ago, since the Buddhists would have had no attachment to the land. The only ones who are supposed to live by the doctrine in a literal sense are the monks, but as you know, even they have been corrupted by worldly influences.


    And don’t feel the need to defend your beliefs. Your insecurities are not my issue, frankly I couldn’t care less if you believe in God or Smurfs!
    You could believe in Smurfs and I’d still respect that. Your choice buddy. Long as you do that respectfully and respect those that believe in Cookie Monsters too. If you think Smurfs are the greatest, people will think what a funny man. Had your mama raised you to pray to Smurfs, you’d be doing exactly that. That sort of ideology get people killed unnecessarily!!!

    I have no insecurities. I see the situation exactly as it is… I don’t analyze things using Mahavamsa logic.


    In general, I just wish everyone who finds peace in God or Buddha or Elmo or Pantyhoses or whatever that gets them off would just shut [Edited] up and enjoy their peace…. But noooo then they go and want to convert others…peacefully or forcefully… Sigh!

    I would like to laugh along with you, but the pictures of the Buddhist monks in front of the embassy tells me that Buddhism has simply not worked for SL. Like I said on this forum a long time ago, even though Buddha wanted to teach people a purely rational religion, most people by nature are not rational. If they believe in God, at least it will keep some of the irrationality from coming to the surface.

  • Heshan

    Observer:

    Hehsan, tomb stones aside is desecrating live humans like that of Abhu Grhaib, where people were striped naked and piled up in pyramids. Bastardised and urinated upon, water boarded. Does that say Americans just hate Muslims? What’s your point? I think the only thing that came out of your twisted logic is not how much Nazis hate Jews or Sinhalese hate Tamils or anything else, rather how much YOU hate Sinhalese. I pity you!

    But the difference is that while many soldiers involved in Abhu Grahib went to jail, and the Defense Secretary (Rumsfeld) apologized, in .SL the situation is totally opposite. :)

  • Burning_Issue

    Diffpersepective,

    “My point has never been to say an inquiry is not needed.. where we may differ is the scope but nevertheless that is irrelevant at this point…”

    I do understand and respect your point of view; however, it is about from which angle one views the crux of the issues. Of course, there must be a thorough investigation into the entire repertoires of events that shaped the war for 30 years. On the government side, there were several actors who came and went; there was geo-politics that influenced and helped the LTTE to survive/demise; there is India then-and-now that attempted to destabilise Sri Lanka, all need to be investigated; I agree.

    The reason why I stress on the last phase of the war is that, there were numerous people who perished within matter of days. If the war had stopped even one/two days earlier either by surrendering of the LTTE or GOSL consciously holding back on humanitarian grounds; the catastrophe would have been avoided. An investigation, if carried out with adequate terms of reference, would reveal what was afoot aiding people to dodgiest the scale of the catastrophe underpinning future better inter-communal relationships. In absence of a viable investigation, am I to accept that, wiping out everyone is the only way to defeat terrorism? Am I to collude with a regime that has allegedly committed such despicable carnage? Shouldn’t anyone be held accountable for such mammoth losses human lives; you tell me?

    I believe that, an independent investigation carried out by the international body like the UN will form the basis for a long lasting reconciliation underpinning the local efforts. The investigation should and will reveal the real face of the LTTE; if they were fighting for independence of the Tamils, they did not show that in action. Who the hell was VP to decide on the fate of the Tamils?

    “For example the relationship between the North and the South in the US after a 4 year civil war took generations to regain normalcy… It is naive to think the problems built up over 30 years or more can be eradicated in one year and can be forced by international tribunals… it will only polarize more!!!”

    I am sure that you will know that, Lincoln presidency and Rajapaksa presidency is a world apart. Lincoln enriched the US constitution and based Human Decency and freedom as the basis for reconciliation but I detect the opposite in the case of Sri Lanka. The UN Secretary gave Rajapaksa time and space for him to advance the process of reconciliation; Britain called on Sri Lanka to be magnanimous in victory; the US called on Sri Lanka to use this unique opportunity to build with consensus; many Sri Lankan intellectuals wrote numerous articles urging MR to start the process of reconciliation; do you see any evidence to this effect. What I see is many attempts of projecting Sinhala Buddhism underpinning the concept of supper-ordination and sub-ordination. The Tamils are sub-ordinates along with the other minorities; no reconciliation can be initiated on this basis but subjugation! The process of realisation and self-correction can only begin based on a sound foundation like the US Constitution, all men are equal. What I see in the Sri Lankan constitution is projection of Sinhala Buddhism and not Sri Lankanism! MR is now busy preparing to alter the constitution so he can contest for 3rd term!

    “I believe a process has begun… it is by no means perfect but it is by no means all bad as some portray it to be…. It is the people who live here who will have to decide and agitate to correct the wrongs and move toward reconciliation…”

    Please show me in deeds the” process” that is afoot that will move towards reconciliation. I do agree that the people who live in Sri Lanka should reconcile; however, as a direct result of the 30 year war thousands of Tamils fled and took refuge in foreign countries and they have every right to be part of that reconciliation.

    “I do not label myself Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Burgher Christian, Hindu or Budhist but only as a Sri Lankan.”

    It is very noble of you; Sri Lanka needs more of your kind if there is any chance of bridging gap between the communities. I for one feel that, I have been made to be Tamil conscious over and above my Sri Lankness. I hope that this situation will change but inconceivable under this regime!

  • Heshan

    Burning_Issue:

    The investigation should and will reveal the real face of the LTTE

    Wouldn’t you agree that the atrocities committed by the LTTE (suicide bombings) have been well-documented? Furthermore, isn’t it to fair to say that the LTTE has been severely punished – its leader and his family have been wiped out, as have most of the other leaders and the larger share of LTTE assets have been seized, thanks to the capture of KP. It is not logical, then, that an investigation into potential LTTE war crimes would result in further punishment of the LTTE; there is really not much more that you can do to punish the LTTE.

    In light of the above, I don’t see the logic in using the LTTE as an excuse to block investigations into war crimes committed by the SLA/GOSL. In fact, I would say that the issue here is not with the LTTE, rather, that the nationalists in the South are simply not cognizant of Tamil rights, and that, in their minds, any issue related to Tamil rights must surely be a vague excuse for separatism.

  • Diffperspective

    Burning_Issue

    “If the war had stopped even one/two days earlier either by surrendering of the LTTE or GOSL consciously holding back on humanitarian grounds” –
    I guess this is our fundamental difference!!! I believe if it was stopped by the Govt,, VP and his cohorts would have escaped to fight another day and SL would have had to face more carnage and bombs and suicide bombers in the future.. Probably for another 30 years and many more would have been killed and maimed… Since we both are basing this on assumptions and perceptions, and what ifs, we are not likely to agree!!! So lets agree to disagree!!!

    “In absence of a viable investigation, am I to accept that, wiping out everyone is the only way to defeat terrorism? Am I to collude with a regime that has allegedly committed such despicable carnage? Shouldn’t anyone be held accountable for such mammoth losses human lives; you tell me?” –
    “Accountable” – Again this is something we look through our own prisms and conclude… When Harry Truman dropped a bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and vaporized 170K to 250K civilians in an instant.. the we thought it was a necessary thing. something along the lines of the “ends Justifying the means” But ask a Japanese if he thinks so!!! …when the US used carpet bombing, Napalm etc in Nam… again some thought it a necessary thing however evil.. But ask the Vietnamese!! and more importantly even today when the US, UK and their allies drop 4 million tons of bombs in Iraq that is the size of about 250,000 Nagasaki bombs in the present and kill in just 7 years 500,000 people it is viewed by them and the UN as a necessity… But please ask the Iraqis and see if they agree!!!… All these are “despicable acts” as you call it but holding someone accountable for it or not depends where you are standing on the matter!!! My point has always been,,, if the UN or any world body is to hold the GOSL accountable for these “despicable acts” then they should be consistent and hold all others who have preceded this conflict with “despicable acts” accountable too… The UN cannot have one rule for SL and another for the US, UK , Allies and Israel!! Forget the past even today!!! So yes in that context if you are not a hypocrite you will have to be happy with the GOSL inquiry because that are the rules of the game which the big boys including your adopted country has made and is playing by!!! If you don’t like it…tell the big boys including your adopted country to change the rules hold themselves open to international scrutiny because their actions precede SL and then you can call on the UN for a similar inquiry on SL!!! but don’t single SL out while being silent on much worse “despicable acts” being committed from your door step!!

    “I am sure that you will know that, Lincoln presidency and Rajapaksa presidency is a world apart. Lincoln enriched the US constitution and based Human Decency and freedom as the basis for reconciliation but I detect the opposite in the case of Sri Lanka.”
    Its amusing you say that the Lincoln presidency was based on human decency and compare Rajapakse presidency as one devoid… Lets see how decent old Lincoln was…. Lincoln practiced a scorched earth policy in the South during the war… Rajapakse did not… Lincoln Starved the South with Blockades on land and water Rajapakse sent food and essential right through out even though it was hijacked by the LTTE,.. Lincoln did not abolish Slavery in the border States that were fighting for the Union initially.. Rajapakse did not practice slavery.., Lincoln segregated Black soldiers into seperate units and paid them less than whites.., Rajapakse did not practice any such discrimination… These are just a few comparisons!!! I have many more if you want, on how Lincoln’s campaign was based on human decency…. You really are funny or naive my good soul..!! :)
    However i was speaking not of Lincoln but the reconstruction period immediately after the war as Lincoln was dead and RC was under Andrew Johnson.. who had to face impeachment ..and thereafter Grant… and these periods were turbulent to put it mildly because of the mistrust… Incidentally it was Grant who was also Called “Butcher Grant” and not for following human decency during the war as you claim, who was President for 8 years of reconstruction….

    Please show me in deeds the” process” that is afoot that will move towards reconciliation. I do agree that the people who live in Sri Lanka should reconcile; however, as a direct result of the 30 year war thousands of Tamils fled and took refuge in foreign countries and they have every right to be part of that reconciliation.”

    It is only one year after the war..if you want to see it come here and I will show it… I travel all over the country frequently including to the North and East… you will be surprised…. It is a process with a lot of dynamics… it is evident if you live here and interact!! as to the rights of people who live in other countries whatever the reasons for them being there to be part of the process….. I believe if you are not going to take the repercussions of what you want implemented then you have no right to make suggestions. You have to put your money where your mouth is.. It is easy to stay outside and preach when you do not have to live with the consequences of what you preach…. The true test is being part from within and living with the consequences of what you preach… You cannot have the cake and eat it.. If you truly want to take part in the reconciliation process in SL… you have to be here…. because then you would have proved you are genuine and are “walking the talk” not just “talking the talk”.. as I said before if you are not willing to put your money where your mouth is… you just become just another big mouth!!!

    Ciao!

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Heshan,

    “Wouldn’t you agree that the atrocities committed by the LTTE (suicide bombings) have been well-documented? Furthermore, isn’t it to fair to say that the LTTE has been severely punished – its leader and his family have been wiped out, as have most of the other leaders and the larger share of LTTE assets have been seized, thanks to the capture of KP. It is not logical, then, that an investigation into potential LTTE war crimes would result in further punishment of the LTTE; there is really not much more that you can do to punish the LTTE.”

    I do agree that, the LTTE is no more; they have been completely obliterated. The suicide bombings aside; it is extremely important to authenticate and document as to what went on at the last phase of the war. Still, many Tamils regard VP as their Thalivar; my understanding is that he was in control until the last minute; He could have saved many lives and why didn’t he; this is my point. The future generations must view the Phenomenon of the LTTE and the conduct of the GOSL in terms of total disregard to its own citizens based on what really happened.

    “In fact, I would say that the issue here is not with the LTTE, rather, that the nationalists in the South are simply not cognizant of Tamil rights, and that, in their minds, any issue related to Tamil rights must surely be a vague excuse for separatism.”

    I agree; the south does not understand, or does not want to, the real Tamil issues. This is nothing to do with their lack of intellect or oversight but is to do with their inherent insecurity. They are not interested in Reconciliation but embarking on development programs to entice the Tamils into believing that everything will be alright. It is being revealed through local sources that the local public is excluded nor employed in those development programs. Can development programs suffice to satisfy the Tamil question?

  • Heshan

    The suicide bombings aside; it is extremely important to authenticate and document as to what went on at the last phase of the war.

    That is true. Unfortunately, the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) is not capable of such an undertaking, even if it was willing to do so. It lacks the resources and the necessary expertise. For example, there are no competent forensics experts on the island who could analyze exhumed bodies. As you know, there are numerous mass graves all over the North which ought to be probed in full. Another issue is that of bias. Neither the CID, nor the Defense Ministry are impartial institutions – both have vested political interests. If either of these institutions were to get involved in such an investigation, it would severely jeopardize the integrity of the whole effort. In light of all the above, it follows that only a foreign body is capable of carrying out a thorough, unbiased investigation. We actually have many instances of Scotland Yard involving itself in Sri Lankan investigations – e.g. Premadasa assassination, Trinco 5 murders. If I am not mistaken, a special UN forensics team was on hand to exhume bodies from mass graves following revelations made in the Krishanthi Kumaraswamy rape and murder case. All of which just prove my earlier point that SL is not capable of such investigations if only for lack of expertise. It is reasonable to ask, then, why such opposition exists to a foreign (UN) panel undertaking a war crimes investigation.


    Still, many Tamils regard VP as their Thalivar; my understanding is that he was in control until the last minute; He could have saved many lives and why didn’t he; this is my point. The future generations must view the Phenomenon of the LTTE and the conduct of the GOSL in terms of total disregard to its own citizens based on what really happened.

    VP actually had numerous opportunities to leave the island many months before the final showdown. Why he didn’t take advantage of such opportulnities baffles me… one theory I have come across is that he truly believed India would intervene, even at the last minute. Much hope (albeit misguided) was placed on the Indian election. In any event, VP had to know at some point that his fate was sealed. That in fact, all escape routes were blocked, and so he could either surrender or die fighting. However, we need not speculate what his fate would have been had he surrendered. And so, in the final analysis, his only option was to *die.* But he did not want to die right away; one does not build an organization from the ground up, nurture it for 30 years, and then simply vanish. I believe he wanted to preserve his legacy by going down in a hail of bullets – which is what happened. Unfortunately, in his desire to prolong the inevitable, VP was partially responsible for Tamil civilians getting caught in the crossfire. I don’t want to say that he held them “hostage”; given the choice of living under the control of the LTTE or in ramshacke IDP camps, surely most Tamil civilians would choose the former. Also, it is fair to presume that many Tamil civilians crossed over to the Government side not out of any positive dispensation, but rather to simply save their own skin… in fact, this was part of the GOSL strategy – to terrorize the civilians into fleeing into the Government side. Why else would it fire upon a NFZ (no fire zone, or why else would Gothabaya say that even hospitals are fair targets? The total destruction of practically all the civilian infrastructure in the North further brings the point home – one statistic I have come across is that 90% of all homes were destroyed, due to aerial bombing and the like.

    I agree; the south does not understand, or does not want to, the real Tamil issues. This is nothing to do with their lack of intellect or oversight but is to do with their inherent insecurity. They are not interested in Reconciliation but embarking on development programs to entice the Tamils into believing that everything will be alright. It is being revealed through local sources that the local public is excluded nor employed in those development programs. Can development programs suffice to satisfy the Tamil question?

    That is why I did not support the war effort. Of course, the LTTE had to go. But the way to do it is not by making the military the judge, jury, and executioner of all civilians on the island. As we are seeing now, the failure to relinquish such power is preventing the island from pursuing other important avenues towards growth and development.

  • Observer

    Heshan said,

    Observer:

    First of all Heshan, can you please provide evidence of desecrating graves?

    It’s a well-known fact. But I’m glad you asked for proof. Here is one credible source (a Sinhalese journalist):

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/may/04/sri-lanka-must-respect-war-memory

    LOL, malathi de alwise, referencing TamilNet is a credible source?? Hahah you have to do better than that. And since when is someone being a Sinhalese a credible source?? I know a lot of Sinhalese betraying their own for the greed of power and money.
    What you provided is called a wrapper. It’s still a pile of smelly dong, wrapped in the perfumed credibility of the Guardian. Unfortunately Guardian is turning into a propaganda outlet.
    So instead of you actually giving the well known BS outlet TamilNet link, you provided me the wrapper. Do you think I’m an idiot? Call me an idiot if it please you, but don’t take me for one. There is a saying in Sinhala, meva hondai konde bandapu cheennunta. Since you’re “Sinhalese” as well I won;t provide the translation. LOL!

  • Observer

    “Wouldn’t you agree that the atrocities committed by the LTTE (suicide bombings) have been well-documented?”

    What is not well documented is the hand the Tamil diaspora has had in war crimes committed in SL by the LTTE. By aiding finance and weapons. We need to compile, extradite and prosecute all those who have had an active bloody hand. I wonder why UN is so shy about pursuing these war criminals??

  • Burning_Issue

    Diffperspective,

    “I have many more if you want, on how Lincoln’s campaign was based on human decency…. You really are funny or naive my good soul..!! “

    Dear chap; if one needs a good example as to what is Condescension, here is it. I am afraid arrogance is personifid!

    Lincoln re-entered into politics because of the The Kansas-Nebraska Act that allowed: “ It allowed people in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska to decide for themselves whether or not to allow slavery within their borders.”
    Lincoln re-entered into politics on principle; he carried his anti-slavary stand until his emancipation proclamation of January 1st 1863:

    “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom….”

    In my books, it was human decency; I will further say that it was remarkable example of humanity considering the time of history and lucrative slave trade that the Americas and Europe immersed in such an inhumane and barbaric practices. I have read the biography of the William Wilbaforce who stood agiasnt the slave trade and campaigned for its abolition relentlessly for 20 years in British parliament; I call such as human decency! Lincoln was nicknamed as “honest Lincoln” and he was a testament of such qualities throughout his presidency. There is no secret that he wanted to preserve the Union of the United States; he wanted victory; until the Union was assured he put the slavery issue at the back burner and this does not mean that he wavered in his convection! If you ask a black man in the USA, he will say that it was Lincoln who championed their emancipation!

    “Lincoln practiced a scorched earth policy in the South during the war… Rajapakse did not…”

    I very much doubt that Lincoln knowingly would have ordered killings of mass civilians! The year was early 1860s and communication channels were virtually non-existent between the battle fields and the president but for horseback messengers. By contract, Rajapaksa was privy to what was afoot all along! The Rajapaksa stood and watched the systematic carpet bombing of Wanni indiscriminately killing his own civilians.

    “Lincoln Starved the South with Blockades on land and water Rajapakse sent food and essential right through out even though it was hijacked by the LTTE,..”

    Did Rajapaksa send food into Wanni during the battles? How can you compare Sri Lanka and the USA in terms if geographical mass? Are there any evidence that, Lincoln ordered such practices or was it that, the generals who set bylaws wherever they were in charge?

    “Lincoln did not abolish Slavery in the border States that were fighting for the Union initially.. Rajapakse did not practice slavery..,”

     wow; the slavery was endemic in the southern states; it was the reason that the civil war broke out; as soon as Lincoln was confirmed as the US president, the pro-slavery southern states organised confederacy and revolted. It itself was a testament of the Lincoln political platform in terms of slave free states! When I said that the Lincoln and Rajapaksa presidencies are world apart; I laterally meant that! Lincoln had a rebuilding and reconciliation plans even before the war was over: Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction December 8, 1863; an excerpt of the proclamation:

    “I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath, and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate; and which oath shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:”

    I call this human decency; what has the Rajapaksa has done so far; he has been in power since 2005. He set up numerous bodies, e.g. APRC, Eminent Persons, etc has any been allowed to mature into fruition? How can you even compare Lincoln with a third grade politician like Rajapaksa?

    “Lincoln segregated Black soldiers into seperate units and paid them less than whites.., Rajapakse did not practice any such discrimination…”

    Wow; what a claim! Lincoln announced the proclamation of emancipation in December 8, 1863 and he was assassinated on April 14th 1865. A country that practiced slavery for hundreds of years cannot be put right by a proclamation; it was the basis for advancement of human decency! You claim that Rajapaksa has not discriminated against anyone; he does not but he will kill them instead! The Tamil question is still outstanding and basis of it is discrimination. The Rajapaksas are embodiment of Sinhala Buddhism; the Buddhism is elevated in the constitution; is Rajapaksa capable of announcing a proclamation in order to remove such a clause from the constitution?

  • Huh

    Thank you Burning-Issue!

    Also, don’t forget that the years between the end of the civil war and the 1920’s were. in some ways, a golden era for blacks. Blacks living in the north experienced ethnic integration and tremendous social progress. They attended the same school as whites, there were NO black ghettos at the time, and lived in the same neighborhoods as whites(something that most America’s are not aware existed back then and something, frankly, that would be considered quite amazing today). Lincoln’s emancipation proclamation and winning of the civil war made this all possible. Segregation came during the 1920’s when ghetto southern blacks came to northern cities(as late as the early 1920’s, Harlem, New York City, was a JEWISH ethnic area).

    My point is, well, let’s compare this to the current time period in Sri Lanka. Does anyone ACTUALLY believe that Mahinda Rajipakse’s winning of the war will do that much to improve race relations and usher in any kind of ” golden era” for Tamils? Frankly, I find it incredible to even imagine that happening. The time after the civil war was made possible due to WHITE politicians AND white people who choose to fight against slavery(read: predominantly northern yankee and quaker desendants). It has been roughly 60 years since Independence, and we still do not see Sinhalese people speaking up for Tamils via legislation or protests in huge numbers. Until this happens, it is unlikely that there will be peace until Sinhalese people do this.

  • wijayapala

    Burning Issue,

    there were thousands of people perished; their bodies unaccounted for; there were people who got murdered at the point of surrender with UN agreement; there were numerous children who are rendered orphans. Will there be justice for these people? Will the Sinhala Buddhists offer justice?

    Who will conduct such an investigation? Or rather, who has universal credibility among all parties to conduct such an investigation without interference?

    And when this person conducts the investigation and uncovers the shocking truth that the Rajapakshas had ordered that destroying the LTTE (and ending the war) was the #1 priority and civilian life was #2, what then? Will that astounding revelation make you happy, or will there be something else you want? Like seeing the Rajapakshas actually being prosecuted? Would that mean you are more interested in justice or revenge?

    (I have a feeling that whatever else the Rajapakshas did, they did not order the killing of “white flags.” Judging from this recent KP story, it would seem they are more interested in capturing Tigers to convert them or use them as war trophies. To my knowledge, the only person who claimed this story was Sarath Fonseka, and he got it not from firsthand knowledge but from some journalist!)

    My next question is: are you more interested in justice/revenge for the perished OR the well-being of the survivors, including the IDPs?

    From my perspective (you can call it “Sinhala Buddhist” if you like), the living are far more important than the dead, and therefore I choose well-being over justice.

    However you and I may wish differently, the reality is that the victors in war never are hauled in for war crimes investigations. It is generally the losers, but in this case the losers are either dead or in govt custody. If you really want “justice,” you will have to find a way to hit the SL state so hard that it will have no choice but to acquiesce on your terms, and this will necessarily impact the Tamil survivors. I understand that Field Marshal Heshan is very busy these days on this solution by organising a multinational (Western) military intervention force and planning an operation.

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan,

    The inability to see an LTTE member as anything but a “terrorist” is the true hallmark of a SB nationalist.

    Hmm.. then Belle must be a SB nationalist, as she had labeled the LTTE as “terrorist.” Not to mention the US and EU!

    What is ironic is that in a different thread, where you were arguing with some teenagers about a documentary they made, you stated how in your interactions with Northern Tamils, they seemed hostile to you.

    I made no such statement; NONE of the non-LTTE Tamils I met expressed any sort of hostility to me whatsoever- Thou shalt not bear false witness against they neighbor my dear Heshan. The only people who were hostile were the LTTE “non-terrorists.”

    you might as well join Wimal in his death fast, since you two share a similar mentality.

    Nah, they don’t serve Big Macs like they do in pro-LTTE death fasts.

    Type “Rajan Sathiyamoorthy/Sathyamoorthy” into a search engine. I thought you would have the grey matter to think of that, but I should not be too hasty in generalizing your research skills. Happy googling!

    “I asked for a direct html link. Your inability to provide one simply shows your claim is baseless. I have done my own research and found nothing to indicate the LTTE destroyed any graves.

    Your research skills appear to be quite lacking, dear Professor. Have no fear, I’m always eager to fill in the empty space in your head:

    http://www.tamilweek.com/LTTE_Karuna_Phenomenon.html

    “A fellow candidate on the TNA list for Batticaloa Rajan Sathiyamoorthy and his brother in law were gunned down in cold blood while praying at the shrine room in their home. Later Sathiyamoorthy’s buried corpse was dug up and thrown elsewhere in a half burnt state. ***The LTTE defiled a person it killed even after death.***

    By the way, you also stated that the graveyards are a “propaganda symbol.”
    No LTTE flags – all I see are rows of very well-maintained tombstones, with innocuous inscriptions.

    Perhaps you can explain why the below photos DO have the LTTE flag, including inscriptions clearly establishing the site as a war memorial for the LTTE:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ananthan/sets/746678/

  • Heshan

    Hmm.. then Belle must be a SB nationalist, as she had labeled the LTTE as “terrorist.” Not to mention the US and EU!

    I know you Southern patriots were overjoyed when the US and EU proscribed the LTTE, following Kadirgimirs numerous begging trips. But the funny thing is that the same US, EU, Canada, and Australia gave asylum to any Tamil who landed on their shores, either legally or illegally – and they still do. All of these countries recognized – and still recognize – the total and absolute failure of the SL judicial system when it came to protecting the rights of Tamils… all of these countries accepted, and still accept, that any Tamil who is under SL police or military custody is at high risk for being tortured. Even though GOSL tried hard for 30 years to cover up the abuses – press censorship, white van rides to Nibbana, banning of Tamil net, chasing journalists out of the country, Emergency Regulations, PTA, etc. – the basic and fundamental truth could never be hidden.

    The only people who were hostile were the LTTE “non-terrorists.”

    How did you distinguish between LTTE supporters and non LTTE supporters? Were the non-LTTE supporters the ones who had Lion flags on their rooftops and chanted pirith at 6 am?

    Later Sathiyamoorthy’s buried corpse was dug up and thrown elsewhere in a half burnt state.

    Defiling one person’s grave and defiling the graves of thousands of people over more than 10 decades – the difference is obvious.

    Perhaps you can explain why the below photos DO have the LTTE flag, including inscriptions clearly establishing the site as a war memorial for the LTTE

    Wow, you found ONE flag… good job! Why not remove the flag and leave the tombstones alone?

    This is what the inscription says:

    “After our displacement in 1995, the Sri Lanka Army damaged and destroyed the monuments of our war heroes, treasured by us. The Stone remains of the leftovers have been collected by us. Let us bow our heads and wait at this point for a few moments.”

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ananthan/33654943/in/set-746678/

    Propaganda or simply fact? I choose the latter.

  • Heshan

    *over more than 1 decade

  • Diffpersepective

    Burning_Issue

    There is no argument as to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation or what he did for the Afro Americans… My intention was not to vilify Lincoln..As I said before it is beside the point as I was not talking of the Lincoln Era but The Johnson/Grant Era.. you somehow seem to have missed that point… i took the examples of what Lincoln did during the war to show that he was not the Saint you portray him to be.. That is all!! You can hypothesis about how much he knew about the blockades and the scorched earth policies practiced by the Union against the South and try to whitewash these acts… The facts speak for themselves as far as I am concerned!!! You can interpret and suppose all you want!!!

    “Lincoln announced the proclamation of emancipation in December 8, 1863 and he was assassinated on April 14th 1865. A country that practiced slavery for hundreds of years cannot be put right by a proclamation; it was the basis for advancement of human decency! You claim that Rajapaksa has not discriminated against anyone; he does not but he will kill them instead! The Tamil question is still outstanding and basis of it is discrimination. The Rajapaksas are embodiment of Sinhala Buddhism; the Buddhism is elevated in the constitution; is Rajapaksa capable of announcing a proclamation in order to remove such a clause from the constitution?”

    So Lincoln’s armies did not kill any southern people right???? Your slip is showing my friend!!!! The double standards are showing again!!! FYI it is estimated at approx 258,000 Southern deaths in the 4 years… this is nowhere close to the casualties in the SL context that you keep harping about…
    And why did Lincoln do this???? TO PRESERVE THE UNION…. Hmmm!! Oh!!! and i guess according to your interpretation the South did not have just cause to secede from the Union….!!! Only the LTTE had a just cause to fight for secession in SL!!! :) Funny!!!

    I do not see a reason for such proclamations by MR because the SL constitution gives all other religions adequate freedom and the rights… to practice without any hindrance… Surely you would not want “God” taken away from your precious “God Save the Queen” because some Aetheists wants it done??? Though Buddhism is given the foremost position in the constitution it does not infringe on the rights of other religions!!!! That is a fact however much you try to portray it otherwise!!!!

    I do not know what Rajapakse is going to do or not do…… all I can talk of is what I see today of SL…. It is not perfect but more good is happening than bad…
    You can continue harping on the negatives which some are true and some imagined, you can continue to exaggerate the negatives to prove a point, You can interpret history and situations to support your point and you can continue to ignore the good that is happening here …. All this you will do living outside dependent at best on second hand information but in most cases third hand accounts without ever seeing for yourself the reality……That is your choice and privilege.. I for one would rather encourage and support the good…. Criticize, agitate and work on changing the bad from within…. Because for me.. what is important is not Rajapakse, the LTTE or the Diaopora…. But the people in SL and the nation of Sri Lanka which I am a part of….. I choose to be part of it to take the good an the bad and will work my B–t off to ensure we all have equal opportunities in this country!!! This is the process now happening in this country.. albeit not perfectly and not as fast as we would like.. but surely and steadily…

  • Burning_Issue

    Wijayapala,

    I asked:

    “there were thousands of people perished; their bodies unaccounted for; there were people who got murdered at the point of surrender with UN agreement; there were numerous children who are rendered orphans. Will there be justice for these people? Will the Sinhala Buddhists offer justice?”

    Your reply:
    “Who will conduct such an investigation? Or rather, who has universal credibility among all parties to conduct such an investigation without interference?”

    What questions Wijayapala! Sri Lanka is a signatory to the UN and the Geneva Convention; if such a body is not credible, then we may as well render it as obsolete! If another country had had committed such crimes what would you say? What are your views about Rwanda?

    You said:
    “And when this person conducts the investigation and uncovers the shocking truth that the Rajapakshas had ordered that destroying the LTTE (and ending the war) was the #1 priority and civilian life was #2, what then?”

    Are you saying that there is no need for international standards? A regime can do whatever it wants to eradicate terrorism; as long as terrorism is stopped using whatever means possible that is ok with you, right? So, USA and allied forces can carpet bomb and wipe out all the civilians and Taliban together and it is justified; is this what are you are saying? If so, why the west is not doing that? Wijaypala, there has to be accountability and it should be the basis for reconciliation.

    You said:

    “ Will that astounding revelation make you happy, or will there be something else you want? Like seeing the Rajapakshas actually being prosecuted? Would that mean you are more interested in justice or revenge?”

    I am interested in Accountability and compliance to International Standards. This should pave the way for good governance, reconciliation, rule of law, and democracy. I am not after revenge but want to stand up against impunity, autocracy, nepotism and erosion of democracy and minority rights!

    You said:

    “My next question is: are you more interested in justice/revenge for the perished OR the well-being of the survivors, including the IDPs?”

    I do not believe that the MR regime is capable to offering justice to the perished; they discarded the dead; they meticulously combed the battle fields to destroy evidences; there is no hope with them whatsoever. Of course the well being of the survivors is paramount but this does not mean the events should not be investigated. I am sure that every Tamil who survived would welcome a thorough and impartial investigation; they need to tell their stories; they need to hear from others; they need to mentally reconcile the whole events in order to move on! What do you term “well-being” and in what context? Is it that, the Sinhala Buddhist would look after them by assimilating them or painting the whole north & East with Buddhist flavour?

    You said:

    “From my perspective (you can call it “Sinhala Buddhist” if you like), the living are far more important than the dead, and therefore I choose well-being over justice.”

    How convenient! If that is the case, it was a waste of time for World Criminal Court to try Slobodan Milosvic and Radovan Karadzic; Ratko Mladic still to be captured; why did they bother with all these who-ha and they simply should have cared for those who survived! The Sudanese president has been charged and Liberian Charles Taylor on the docs; why bother with all these things; we just have to care for the living! Is it because the Sinhala Buddhists belong to a unique race and a different set of rules apply to them?

    Wijayapala, the bottom line is that, if this regime does not allow an UN investigation, then another regime will; one way or the other there will be an investigation at some point and rightly so!

  • Belle

    Burning_Issue,

    Your response to Wijayapala was a long one, and yet I agreed with every single word you said!

    I would just like to add that there’s no moving into a different future of reconciliation and peace without examining the past. The dead must be allowed to leave a positive legacy. Personally, I don’t care if nobody is ever prosecuted for war crimes as long as the truth comes out. I suspect too that knowledge of state terror committed against innocent Tamil civilians will give Tamils more political and moral leverage in demanding their rights. Perhaps this is why the majority community is fighting so hard against war crimes investigations. The local Tamils won’t have to cringe with defeat and be apologetic for having been terrorists when in fact they have been victims of terror from different quarters; they won’t have to go around feeling as if they deserve nothing at all.

    Recently, due to a wedding in the family, I met some of my North-residing relatives. It amazed me how beaten they looked, and how they spoke about everything except the current political situation. Only when I asked did they say matter-of-factly that the Sinhalese would take over the Tamil areas. They did not comment on it. There was no anger, no energy, nothing—mere acceptance. I have never seen such abject acceptance in my life before.

    So, yes, the past is very important to the future; the dead are important for the living.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Huh,

    “My point is, well, let’s compare this to the current time period in Sri Lanka. Does anyone ACTUALLY believe that Mahinda Rajipakse’s winning of the war will do that much to improve race relations and usher in any kind of ” golden era” for Tamils? Frankly, I find it incredible to even imagine that happening.”

    You hit the nail on the head; the victory is for the Sinhala Buddhists; MR will do nothing at all to damage his Sinhala Buddhist Vote base. As far as he can see, there is no need for reconciliation; there are no minorities; all need to assimilate into the mainstream.

    Last Saturday I went walkabout in the Soho area of New York; accidentally walked into a street gathering of Arab Americans; a cultural event. There was an American (White) lady, she could be Jewish, was canvassing with flayers to help launch a U.S Boat to join the next flotilla in order to break the Gaza blockage. I said that, its no use, you need to get the Jewish community on board; only they can make the difference. She pointed me to the flayer; the following Jewish groups have endorsed the flotilla:

    American Jews for a just peace, Jewish voice for peace, and Jews say no justice for Palestinians. I could not believe what I was reading; one day the Palestinians will establish their state side-by-side of Israel with the help of the Jewish community!

    Where are such organisations/individuals within the Sinhala society? I am sure there are plenty; many appear using pseudonyms for fear of being labelled as traitors or being abducted by white vans! The Tamils do not need a separate state but want to live with dignity managing their own affairs within a just democratic system.

  • Burning_Issue

    Bella,

    Thanks for your comments. I am neither an academic nor a specialist writer; I simply try to put pen to paper based on what I believe to be right.

    It was conspicuous that, based on the euphoric and triumphal celebrations in the south that the regime cared two hoots about Tamil sensitivity. Most Tamils cared nothing about the LTTE, but, once it is out of the way, who will safeguard them; this fear has engulfed their troubled minds; I completely sympathise and empathise with them on this. This was why I favoured a scenario where the LTTE is severely weakened but survived somewhat to participate in politics; the alternative is, as it is now, the Tamils are at complete mercy of the Sinhala Nationalists; it is certainly not an ideal situation for the Tamils.

    Only one option is left for the Tamils now; that is to support and strengthen the TNA and push for some sort of a political solution. India and war crimes probe should be the means of keeping the MR regime in check.

    “Personally, I don’t care if nobody is ever prosecuted for war crimes as long as the truth comes out. I suspect too that knowledge of state terror committed against innocent Tamil civilians will give Tamils more political and moral leverage in demanding their rights. Perhaps this is why the majority community is fighting so hard against war crimes investigations.”

    I completely agree with you; I too do not care if no one is charged on this account; as long as such a probe can bring about good governance, rule of law, and good democracy; will go long way to resolve many issues that the Tamils face or peoples in general in Sri Lanka.

  • Huh

    Burning Issue,

    You are 100% correct on the Jewish thing! For a long time now, Israeli jews have spoke up for palestinians and their right to a separate state. It is not uncommon to hear Jews be vehemently pro-israel but also defensive of the palestinians and their rights to equality. I have zionist friends and although they justify Israel recent actions, they also recognize that Israel may have gone to far and that they want to see everyone live in peace. There are many Jews who speak out against Israel and hate the country and completely sympathize with the Palestinians.

    How many Sinhalese people do we see standing up against the state on behalf of Tamils and Muslims? Most Sinhalese people, sadly, feel that Tamils have no unique grievances that the Sinhalese people do not share. Unfortunately, most Sinhalese people really don’t have any idea what the average Tamil person goes through, especially not those of the east or the north. I used to be one of the Sinhalese people who felt this way, but changed after reading UTHR(J), DBS Jeyaraj, sangam.org, and Pradeep Jeganathan(although I read the third with a grain of salt). I would argue that this problem is even worse amongst the diaspora communities, where both groups of people(tamils and sinhalese) are radicalized and simply don’t associate with each other and where any Tamil who speaks out against the government is seen as a Tiger(this was recently made apparent in the following debate, near the end, where Douglas tells the inquiring girl that if she thinks the government should be accountable, then the members of the diaspora who financially supported the tigers should be brought to justice, too. He automatically assumed she was a tiger supporter which is a big reason why, I think, there is mistrust between our two groups of people:

    http://frontlineclub.com/blogs/theforum/2010/07/what-can-the-west-do-about-the-information-black-hole-in-sri-lanka.html

    )

  • wijayapala

    Burning Issue,

    Either you have misunderstood what I have said or you choose not to understand; I hope it is the former.

    Take a look at this:
    Actress Asin combats Tamil filmdom over Sri Lanka
    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1492

    What are your views of Seeman and Asin? Do you agree with DBS Jeyaraj?

    Of course the well being of the survivors is paramount but this does not mean the events should not be investigated.

    But what if it came down to a choice between the two?

    “From my perspective (you can call it “Sinhala Buddhist” if you like), the living are far more important than the dead, and therefore I choose well-being over justice.”
    How convenient! If that is the case, it was a waste of time for World Criminal Court to try Slobodan Milosvic and Radovan Karadzic; Ratko Mladic still to be captured; why did they bother with all these who-ha and they simply should have cared for those who survived!

    Putting aside the many other differences between SL and Yugoslavia, once again you’re missing the key difference- Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic had been ***captured*** by the same people who were prosecuting them. To try Mahinda and Gotabhaya in the same way, you will require a military intervention force to occupy Sri lanka and extract them. We are still awaiting Field Marshal Heshan on these efforts.

    Is it because the Sinhala Buddhists belong to a unique race and a different set of rules apply to them?

    I found your above remark to be incredibly insensitive if not blindingly ignorant. 40-60,000 Sinhalese perished during the 2nd JVP uprising, adding to the 10,000 from the 1st one in 1971. There was no investigation nor any int’l outcry on our behalf. Kindly explain why the outcome of the JVP uprising did not deserve an international investigation but you require one?

    Is it because the Tamils belong to a unique race and a different set of rules apply to them???

  • wijayapala

    Huh,

    Douglas tells the inquiring girl that if she thinks the government should be accountable, then the members of the diaspora who financially supported the tigers should be brought to justice, too.

    Well, what do you think? I didn’t watch the video, but the way that you paraphrased Douglas Wickremaratne (whose other claims I’ve seen on youtube are normally idiotic) seems to make sense. Should the diaspora supporters of the LTTE be free from investigation? This would actually be feasible and these fellows reside in Western countries. I’d like to hear Belle and Burning Issue’s views on this.

  • Huh

    Dear Wijayapala,

    My point in saying the following…….

    ” “Douglas tells the inquiring girl that if she thinks the government should be accountable, then the members of the diaspora who financially supported the tigers should be brought to justice, too.”

    was because he was basically assuming she was a Tiger, just because she felt the government should be investigated. Assumptions like that DO NOT help the Sinhalese people at all, in terms of reconciliation with Tamils. It continues to make us look like paranoid idiots! And don’t forget that these claims are being made by the HEAD of the Sinhalese Association of London which makes him really seem like the representative of all Sinhalese people.

    Regarding the investigations into diaspora funding, I honestly am not sure of what would be the right move.

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,
    Some diaspora supporters of the LTTE such as those involved in collecting money, running fake charities for the LTTE, have been prosecuted, haven’t they, in US and UK? In Singapore, at least one Singaporean that I know was hauled up for investigation because he had contributed S$1,000 to the LTTE. Other expat Sri Lankans supporting the LTTE have been deported from Singapore since the 1980s.

    How many SLA and government people have been investigated for war crimes, or paid in any way for carrying out massacres of Tamils?

    Do you think all those people who voted for the UNP President in 1988 and for the UNP in the 1989 parliamentary elections should be investigated/prosecuted for supporting a party associated with killing Sinhalese youth by the 10s of thousands?

    And what about justice for the diaspora who were forced to leave their homelands, and flee to strange lands as refugees? Who will pay for their displacement? Why did they support the LTTE? Wasn’t it in the vain hope that one day their land would be free and they could return to their homeland? Who is to fault them for this?

    Douglas W expresses typical SL government nonchalance about its responsibility to citizens. So he actually thinks the diaspora owes as much accountability to Sri Lanka and its citizens as the government does? That you can’t tell the difference is symptomatic of Sri Lankan citizens’ extremely low expectations of their government. Is your vote so cheap? No wonder the government feels they don’t have to answer to anybody and that they can do whatever they like.

  • Huh

    Dear Belle,

    That is one reason why I feel like the war crimes investigation might be a good thing–it would show these politicians that they are not invincible and that the world is watching them and hopefully, it would bring the Rajapakse clan down to earth. I may be the only Sinhalese person in the world who feels this way(sigh). By the way, just out of curiosity, what do you think the likelihood of there being a war crimes investigation in Sri Lanka>

  • wijayapala

    Huh

    was because he was basically assuming she was a Tiger, just because she felt the government should be investigated. Assumptions like that DO NOT help the Sinhalese people at all, in terms of reconciliation with Tamils. It continues to make us look like paranoid idiots!

    I agree that Douglas doesn’t do much for our image, but unfortunately nuts like him are a dime a dozen. I’ve left some sarcastic comments on his youtube videos but what more can we do?

    And don’t forget that these claims are being made by the HEAD of the Sinhalese Association of London which makes him really seem like the representative of all Sinhalese people.

    As far as I know, the SInhala Association of London consists of just Douglas, as I’ve never heard of this group and anyway most Sinhalese would rather identify with a “Sri Lankan” Association (which could be “Sinhala” in all but name) than an openly communal organisation.

    That is one reason why I feel like the war crimes investigation might be a good thing–it would show these politicians that they are not invincible and that the world is watching them and hopefully, it would bring the Rajapakse clan down to earth. I may be the only Sinhalese person in the world who feels this way(sigh).

    You aren’t the only Sinhala person who feels this way, but who exactly is calling for this investigation? It certainly isn’t “the world” as you make it out to be, given the statements by Russia recently.

  • wijayapala

    Belle,

    Do you think all those people who voted for the UNP President in 1988 and for the UNP in the 1989 parliamentary elections should be investigated/prosecuted for supporting a party associated with killing Sinhalese youth by the 10s of thousands?

    Exactly my point. If they’re not being investigated, nor the Tamil diaspora, then why be hypocritical about it and go simply after the current govt?

    So he actually thinks the diaspora owes as much accountability to Sri Lanka and its citizens as the government does?

    Good question. If the diaspora doesn’t owe any accountability, then surely you agree that expatriates such as yourself shouldn’t have much say in what happens in SL, right?

  • wijayapala

    “expatriates such as yourself”

    … and Douglas W., of course.

    Belle, you haven’t shared your impressions of DBS’s recent article which I mentioned above.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dijayapala,

    I asked you several questions:

    Are you saying that there is no need for international standards?
    A regime can do whatever it wants to eradicate terrorism; as long as terrorism is stopped using whatever means possible that is ok with you, right?
    So, USA and allied forces can carpet bomb and wipe out all the civilians and Taliban together and it is justified; is this what are you saying?
    If so, why the west is not doing that?

    I would like to know your stand on the above questions.

    “Either you have misunderstood what I have said or you choose not to understand; I hope it is the former.”

    If I had misunderstood you in anyway, I will acknowledge; may be it is my oversight but I cannot see where I misunderstood you. If it is to do with difference in circumstances between Serbia and Sri Lanka, I will clarify in my next post.

    I have plenty to say about Seeman and Asin; in my next post.

  • Belle

    Dear Huh,
    Firstly, may I congratulate you on being able to get past a majoritarian perspective on this issue, and trying to see it through other perspectives too. Especially in a context where all the information available flows largely one way.

    As for the war crimes investigation, I am not optimistic that it will happen. As I see it, it could happen in one of two ways. If there is a regime change, then yes, I think there could be a chance for an investigation going through as the new party in power will be only too happy to discredit the current regime. However, going by the kind of support the current regime gets, especially from the educated class (who should know better), and the regime’s own tenaciousness, I don’t see a regime change happening.

    The UN is largely a toothless organization. They have yet to put together a plan to get past soveriegnty issues in prosecuting states for domestic human rights abuses and war crimes. The UN Human Rights Council is dominated numerically by regimes with a track record of war crimes and HR abuses and, as the UN itself admits in reports, the only country these abusive regimes are interested in prosecuting is Israel. As such, the most number of UN commissions formed for such investigating has been against Israel. China, of course, won’t allow any moves against the SL government to get past the UN Security Council. UN regulations also don’t allow economic sanctions to be carried out in a targetted way against a country.

    My hope is that the West and its supporters will get together to impose trade and other economic sanctions against Sri Lanka, even if it is outside UN auspices. That is something that is most likely to work. It’s what brought an end to the white Afrikaner regime in South Africa. It is unfortunate that this will mean even more suffering for the poor (Sinhalese and minorities). But it is the only way to break the collaboration in Sri Lanka between a tyrannous, racist regime and the Sinhalese elite as well as get past the sovereignty issue. The sanctions have to hurt the business class and the educated classes. They have to be brought to a point where they see that giving minorities their equal rights is the only way they themselves will have any chance to thrive. Then I think change can happen. It’s a really sad case for a country when it is the educated classes who stand in the way of social justice. That’s what I’ve been able to see in this forum.

  • Huh

    Dear Wijayapala,

    ” Exactly my point. If they’re not being investigated, nor the Tamil diaspora, then why be hypocritical about it and go simply after the current govt?”

    I think what Belle wants is for transparency to begin and for corruption to end. Like many progressive-minded Sri Lankans, Belle believes that accountability HAS to begin somewhere and I don’t think anyone can fault her, or the rest of the Tamil diaspora, Sinhalese progressives, for wanting to start with the current regime. If we keep saying, ” well, the UNP was never charged for killing Sinhalese youth, so why should we charge the Rajapakse regime with war crimes?”, then where does accountability and transparency begin? Sure, there may have been thousands of Tamils across the world who donated money to the LTTE, but do they really have more power than a sovereign government that choose to restrict media presence in the north/east for many years and choose to fight a war in the utmost secrecy? Probably not. Wouldn’t it be best if the present regime was exposed for the authoritarian-like figure it is? Couldn’t this help show the Sinhalese people–particularly, many of the upper-middle class chauvinist fools who love the current regime–of what their current regime is capable of? My experience is that most Sinhalese people fall into two camps:

    a) They refuse to believe ANY human rights agencies, etc., and feel that the west is completely sympathetic to the Tamil cause. Therefore, any western news report/or western politician that speaks about atrocities in Sri Lanka is a “spy” for the west.

    b) They know the current regime is horrible but as long as the economy/development is picking up, they are indifferent, at best, to the abuses committed by the Rajapakse clan.

    If a war crimes investigation were followed through with, couldn’t it open these peoples eyes to what is really going on, and what could happen to them very soon?

    By the way, Belle, it is interesting you bring up Israel, supposedly the country that has committed the most war crimes(something I find ridiculous and unbelievable). Am I the only one who thinks this article would be hilarious if it weren’t so sadly ironic:

    http://lankamuslim.com/2010/06/05/palitha-kohona-to-lead-team-to-probe-israeli-violations/

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,

    “As far as I know, the SInhala Association of London consists of just Douglas, as I’ve never heard of this group and anyway most Sinhalese would rather identify with a “Sri Lankan” Association (which could be “Sinhala” in all but name) than an openly communal organisation.”

    You prefer covertly communal organisations, then?

    “Exactly my point. If they’re not being investigated, nor the Tamil diaspora, then why be hypocritical about it and go simply after the current govt?”

    Because the SL government is a signatory to the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions. They are accountable to a world body of which they are a member. If they don’t want to allow for an investigation into suspected infringements of the Geneva Conventions, then they must resign from the UN. Also, if war crimes have been committed, it was the government that gave the orders. Neither the people of Sri Lanka nor the Tamil diaspora did that.

    “Good question. If the diaspora doesn’t owe any accountability, then surely you agree that expatriates such as yourself shouldn’t have much say in what happens in SL, right?”

    As I have always said, SL is responsible foremost to its citizens. But we all belong to one human community, and if groups are being oppressed in a country and denied even the right to live, other nations and individuals should try to help. The country concerned may choose to shut them out, but what if the non-nationals figure out a way to make the country carry out their will, without violence, without breaking any laws? What is there to stop them? (South Africa did not backtrack on apartheid and white rule because the whites suddenly saw the error of their ways. They were forced into it by the international community.) Also, once a country contravenes an agreement it made with the international community, the latter reserves the right to make interventions. If the diaspora was forced to leave their homeland because their life there was made untenable for them, then the diaspora has some moral claims on their homeland and how things should be run there so as to allow them to return–without however being accountable to that country (because they are not its citizens and were not cared for by that country).

  • Burning_Issue

    Wijayapala,

    “Putting aside the many other differences between SL and Yugoslavia, once again you’re missing the key difference- Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic had been ***captured*** by the same people who were prosecuting them. To try Mahinda and Gotabhaya in the same way, you will require a military intervention force to occupy Sri lanka and extract them. We are still awaiting Field Marshal Heshan on these efforts.”

    The issue is that, we do not know whether both the Rajapaksas are guilty or not; no one knows what happened and without a thorough investigation, we will never find out whether there were war crimes committed or not. When the war crimes investigations started against the Serbian leaders, they were in power; it was the change of regime that resulted in Serbia’s cooperation with International Bodies. It may take 10 or 20 years but the people who commit mass killings must be held accountable. The world must keep doing this until there is a clear message that no one will be spared if such crimes are committed against humanity. In the case of Sri Lanka, if the regime would not cooperate, there are ways to handle it; there will be no need for military intervention; time will change; actors will change; the aim of war crimes investigations will remain the same!

    “But what if it came down to a choice between the two?”

    If MR regime puts this as a condition, it will be self-explanatory as to its perception of the minorities. I would welcome a situation where the well-being of the Tamil IDPs is conditional on the war crimes investigations!

    “I found your above remark to be incredibly insensitive if not blindingly ignorant. 40-60,000 Sinhalese perished during the 2nd JVP uprising, adding to the 10,000 from the 1st one in 1971. There was no investigation nor any int’l outcry on our behalf. Kindly explain why the outcome of the JVP uprising did not deserve an international investigation but you require one?”

    I have never said that, the JVP related killings should not deserve war crimes investigations; I think that, if those crimes had been investigated by an international body, Sri Lanka would not have gone through a repetition! Things have changed in the international stage since the Rwanda episode; the world bodies are acutely aware and deeply sensitive to war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocides these days than before. I completely agree that the JVP related killings should have been investigated; this failure must be the catalyst for this investigation; it should not be viewed on communal basis but on humanity.

    “What are your views of Seeman and Asin? Do you agree with DBS Jeyaraj?”

    I only came to know of Seeman about two years back; I listened to his public speeches in Youtube; my word this guy is very gifted; his power of Tamil oratory is second to none; he draws mass crowds. My perception of him is that, he is an ultra Tamil nationalist and he has a platform to stand and build on. A few days back he was sentenced to a year on account of his stand on Sri Lankan Tamil issues. Many people may think that, that would be the end of him. But, I for one think that, it will add more strings to his bow! Certainly, it will give him credibility that he was incarcerated on account of standing up for the Tamils.

    I believe that his voice is being heard because of the Sri Lankan Tamil issues that still have not been resolved politically. If Sri Lanka were to reconcile its differences and find a structure that will galvanise all as Sri Lankans, the Seemans of this world cannot impregnate. The Sri Lankan identity must come through as the unifying element dissecting both Sinhala and Tamil nationalistic sentiments. This is why I vehemently argue for a secular constitution putting emphasis on the Sri Lankan identity rather than on Sinhala Buddhist identity!

    As for Asin; she would never have known as to where Jaffna is located, if she has not landed in this mess! Nonetheless, the IDPs were very pleased to see her and that cannot be bad.

  • Agnos

    Burning_Issue, Huh, Belle,

    Although a war crimes investigation may not happen in the near future, it will happen eventually. The Rajapaksa clan may feel they are at the peak of their power; but it is such hubris that leads to downfall. V.P felt the same way during the ceasefire, but see where it took him.

    I salute you for being so persistent with your arguments. Unfortunately I have neither the time nor the patience to keep arguing here. Despite knowing many Sinhalese like Huh, I don’t have hope that the Sinhalese polity as a whole will change. When even Vasudeva Nanayakkara, Michael Roberts and Sumanasiri Liyanage defended the regime’s actions while thousands of Tamil civilian lives were at stake, it is misplaced hope that accountability will happen internally.

    Only external pressure will work. China and Russia may support SL for the time-being, but there will be a time when they will do what they did to Iran on the nuclear plant issue. It will take time for some international realignment, but it will happen. After all, Iran is a much more powerful and strategically important country than SL.

    You brought up Yugoslavia. A minor correction: Ratko Mladic has not been captured yet; he still lives in hiding, but his diary was found hidden in his home recently. It took many years for Milosevic and Karadzic to get justice. The same will happen to the Rajapaksas, Sarath Fonseka and some top SLA commanders.

    The UTHR reported a long time ago that Balakumar was seen surrendering to the SLA, and said the regime would be held responsible for his life, but the latest news is that the wives of Balakumar and Yogi are considered widows. Add that to the catalog of war crimes the current regime has to answer for.

  • wijayapala

    Huh,

    If a war crimes investigation were followed through with, couldn’t it open these peoples eyes to what is really going on, and what could happen to them very soon?

    People aren’t as dumb/ignorant as you and Belle believe (and this is where Belle’s dichotomy between “educated” and “uneducated” Sinhalese is particularly ignorant). Anyone with half a brain knows what happens to people who are used as human shields. if the govt lost the war and the LTTE was still running around with bombs strapped on, then I could see the people supporting the Rajapakshas getting put on the dock.

    However, you guys are giving the impression that you want to punish the Rajapakshas for ending the war. You never called for war crimes investigations before, even though it is very probable that the UNP govt committed far more atrocities against Tamils in the 1980s. You haven’t called for an investigation for Black July, even though some of the ringleaders like Elle Gunawamsa are still alive (not to mention bonny nephew Ranil Wickremasinghe).

    Wouldn’t it be best if the present regime was exposed for the authoritarian-like figure it is?

    The primary problem is not that the present regime is “authoritiarian-like” but rather that there is no credible opposition. If the Rajapakshas were worried about elections they wouldn’t be able to get away with half of what they’ve done.

  • wijayapala

    As I have always said, SL is responsible foremost to its citizens. But we all belong to one human community, and if groups are being oppressed in a country and denied even the right to live, other nations and individuals should try to help.

    As I recall, India did exactly that in 1987 when it halted the SLA’s offensive into Jaffna. Now how did that turn out?

    South Africa did not backtrack on apartheid and white rule because the whites suddenly saw the error of their ways. They were forced into it by the international community.

    I think you need a history lesson. The int’l community SUPPORTED the black majority‘s agitation against white minority rule. The main effort came from the African National Congress and its domestic allies, which were remarkably disciplined and cohesive compared to the supporters of the white regime who were divided and could not adapt. The major battles were fought and won at the negotiating table.

    SL is a rather poor comparison to apartheid S. Africa for a number of reasons. Firstly and most importantly, the Tamils in SL are not agitating for change, at least not right now (for important reasons, namely their understandable priority of rebuilding their lives and societies rather than demanding “justice”). Secondly, the majority in SL supports the govt while the majority in apartheid S. Africa violently opposed it. Thirdly the S. African regime was completely isolated, whereas the SL regime is supported by non-western nations. Fourthly, the anti-apartheid forces were represented by the disciplined and unified ANC which had a clear leader respected by EVERYONE, whereas the Tamils (nor the Sinhalese) have this sort of party or leader.

    Since you are interested in S. Africa, I’d like to know what you think of this person:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPSQjpTiFwQ&feature=related

    the diaspora has some moral claims on their homeland and how things should be run there so as to allow them to return

    And how many of the diaspora do you think would actually return, even if you get your foreign intervention to force making Tamil the official language and establishing an apartheid-like minority rule system?

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue

    It may take 10 or 20 years but the people who commit mass killings must be held accountable… In the case of Sri Lanka, if the regime would not cooperate, there are ways to handle it; there will be no need for military intervention; time will change; actors will change; the aim of war crimes investigations will remain the same!

    If you’re patient enough to wait then I salute you. Me I’m not so optimistic given that the mass killers of the 1980s have gone scot free.

    “But what if it came down to a choice between the two?”
    If MR regime puts this as a condition, it will be self-explanatory as to its perception of the minorities. I would welcome a situation where the well-being of the Tamil IDPs is conditional on the war crimes investigations!

    I’m afraid I did not follow, or you did not follow what I was saying. DBS understands though. This is what he said in the Asin comments (#96):

    “But I do have immense pride and confidence in the resilience and spirit of my people. What they need is space and time to revive themselves. We need a renaissance. That can be possible only in an atmosphere of amity and cooperation with the Sinhalese

    “Sadly as usual a vociferous minority without any feelings of guilt or remorse is engaging in stupid rhetoric and rabble rousing abroad. This is in stark contrast tothe mood of a shattered and battered people back home. ***There is an increasing disconnect between this arrogant, abrasive “Voice” abroad and the day to day life of people back home.***

    “The reality is that such help to be really effective can only be done with Govt help and permission. It cannot be done regardless of govt disapproval.”

    I have never said that, the JVP related killings should not deserve war crimes investigations; I think that, if those crimes had been investigated by an international body, Sri Lanka would not have gone through a repetition!

    Apologies for misrepresenting you. My point is that we have survived even though there hasn’t been any investigation. The lack of an investigation here will not spell the end of the Tamils.

    I’m afraid I did not understand your second part. The UNP carried out the killings, so how would bringing them to book have prevented what happened last year?

    Things have changed in the international stage since the Rwanda episode; the world bodies are acutely aware and deeply sensitive to war crimes, ethnic cleansing, and genocides these days than before. I completely agree that the JVP related killings should have been investigated;

    They wouldn’t have been investigated because they were Sinhala vs Sinhala intraethnic violence, not “ethnic cleansing.”

    As for Asin; she would never have known as to where Jaffna is located, if she has not landed in this mess! Nonetheless, the IDPs were very pleased to see her and that cannot be bad.

    I think you missed the point of the article. DBSJ was contrasting Asin going to Jaffna and helping misfortunate people, with the loudmouth Seeman who has wonderful oratory but has done absolutely nothing for the Tamils in SL.

  • wijayapala

    I believe that his voice is being heard because of the Sri Lankan Tamil issues that still have not been resolved politically.

    I disagree; Indian Tamils tend to be quite clueless about SL and anyone stupid enough to follow a clown who worships the group that murdered their prime minister most likely would not listen to reason.

    Unfortunately, these loudmouths in Tamil nadu reinforce in Sinhala minds the notion that they have no co-ethnic “friends” in other places (even though Seeman is clearly not the friend of SL Tamils). To the Sinhalese, it is people like Seeman who justify a state that will protect the Sinhalese.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Belle, I missed this:

    My hope is that the West and its supporters will get together to impose trade and other economic sanctions against Sri Lanka, even if it is outside UN auspices. That is something that is most likely to work.

    Before you theorize what will and won’t work, you probably should get a better understanding of Sinhala society and the forces at work first. I already mentioned above how SL is NOT apartheid S. Africa, not even in your wildest dreams. You might as well craft a solution on the equally moronic assumption that the Sinhalese are just like the Nazis and will get their comeuppance for Holocausting the Tamils after the world mobilizes against the Sinhala attempt to conquer it.

    (in my citation of DBSJ to Burning_Issue above, take note of the bolded text ***in stars***. His words, not mine, I assure you!)

    Now back to economic sanctions. We’re actually on the first phase of this plan with the withdrawal of GSP+ (I expected you to be at least a little cheerful on that achievement but you’re a hard one to please). There are two problems though:

    1) The primary victims of GSP+ will be the export industries, which have tended to be more liberal and less inwardly “nationalistic” (along with the tourism industry) than other sectors. In other words, the EU is gutting the most pro-West part of Sri Lankan society- the part which would form a natural resistance to the Rajapakshas!

    (this sector exercised its clout in 2000-1 through the “Sri Lanka First” campaign which helped bring down the PA govt and led to the CFA. So no, it’s not a figment of my imagination (but it soon will be)!)

    2) you are correct that the hardest hit will be the poor and the minorities (and the poor minorities will really be up S— Creek), but you don’t live in SL so it won’t be any skin off your back. However it is very likely that the aforementioned groups will blame not the Rajapakshas but rather the West! So sanctions may not weaken the Rajapakshas but actually strengthen them by providing the Sinhalese with a post-LTTE bogeyman to rally them against.

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,

    “I think you need a history lesson. The int’l community SUPPORTED the black majority‘s agitation against white minority rule. The main effort came from the African National Congress and its domestic allies, which were remarkably disciplined and cohesive compared to the supporters of the white regime who were divided and could not adapt. The major battles were fought and won at the negotiating table.”

    South Africans will laugh to hear your version of how they finally came out of apartheid. Many, many Africans and even whites made a lot of sacrifrices for the ANC cause. There were indeed a lot of heroes in that country. ANC’s heroic efforts for half a century however rarely achieved anything more than making the apartheid regime even more repressive and violent. But in the end, what won was the impact of economic and trade sanctions and divestment. The UN had been talking about this since the 1960s, but France, US resisted. It was only in the late 1980s that all got on board the economic sanctions train, and the South African regime crumbled within a few years.

    “Now back to economic sanctions. We’re actually on the first phase of this plan with the withdrawal of GSP+ (I expected you to be at least a little cheerful on that achievement but you’re a hard one to please).”

    No, actually, I’m quite over the moon about that.

    “The primary victims of GSP+ will be the export industries, which have tended to be more liberal and less inwardly “nationalistic” (along with the tourism industry) than other sectors. In other words, the EU is gutting the most pro-West part of Sri Lankan society- the part which would form a natural resistance to the Rajapakshas!”

    You seem to have a notion that a national economy is made up of discretely separate sectors. Things don’t work that way. What hurts one sector impacts on others and impacts more generally on the economy.

    “you are correct that the hardest hit will be the poor and the minorities (and the poor minorities will really be up S— Creek), but you don’t live in SL so it won’t be any skin off your back. However it is very likely that the aforementioned groups will blame not the Rajapakshas but rather the West! So sanctions may not weaken the Rajapakshas but actually strengthen them by providing the Sinhalese with a post-LTTE bogeyman to rally them against.”

    How hard hit the poor will be will depend very much on how the ruling and upper classes decide to handle the situation, and how long they want to prolong the sanctions. The responsibility will be at the door of the SL elite, not at mine nor that of the world community.

    People affected will soon realize that the way to fill their bellies is to vote for another regime, rather than rail at the West.

    “SL is a rather poor comparison to apartheid S. Africa for a number of reasons.”

    All the dissimilarities you mention are neither here nor there with regard to how economic sanctions will work. They are similar in that governance was based on an apartheid structure (only, SL’s is covertly so), on race. They are similar too in that the ethics of the situation is pretty clear to everyone except those benefitting from the imbalance of power and rights distribution.

    “Thirdly the S. African regime was completely isolated, whereas the SL regime is supported by non-western nations.”

    Precisely. It will be fun to see what happens when SL regime can only turn to rogue nations for help. And, as I said, an international commitment to trade/economic sanctions need not be done through the UN. Or as with SA, all it would take is a general recommendation from the UN General Assembly to all member nations (with no compulsion to do so). No veto power there. I think it’s great that right now, you folks are really getting up the noses of the UN. Carry on, I say.

  • Burning_Issue

    Wijayapala,

    I would like to know your stand on the following:

    Are you saying that there is no need for international standards?
    A regime can do whatever it wants to eradicate terrorism; as long as terrorism is stopped using whatever means possible that is ok with you, right?
    So, USA and allied forces can carpet bomb and wipe out all the civilians and Taliban together and it is justified; is this what are you saying?
    If so, why the west is not doing that?

    You said:

    “If you’re patient enough to wait then I salute you. Me I’m not so optimistic given that the mass killers of the 1980s have gone scot free.”
    When a regime does not corporate, it is prudent to wait and sooner or later circumstances change and the culprits can be held accountable. The important thing is that the UN has tenacity to pursue the war crimes investigations no matter how long it will take. It should carry an uncompromising message to the world rouge leaders who hide behind manipulated democratic systems and commit human catastrophes! Yes, I am prepared to wait however long it will take for justice to prevail.

    You said:

    “I’m afraid I did not follow, or you did not follow what I was saying. DBS understands though. This is what he said in the Asin comments (#96):”

    You quoted DBS:

    “But I do have immense pride and confidence in the resilience and spirit of my people. What they need is space and time to revive themselves. We need a renaissance. That can be possible only in an atmosphere of amity and cooperation with the Sinhalese”

    I 100 % agree; the Tamils should cooperate with the Sinhala and build a nation of Sri Lankans. Why should the war crimes investigation be an impediment to the Sinhala and Tamil relationship? In all seriousness, I do not believe that the MR regime is serious about reconciliation; it is endeavouring to subjugate the minorities. It is incapable of creating conditions for coexistence; it riddled with racists and expecting anything along the lines of reconciliation is futile. You mentioned to Huh that there is no credible opposition to keep MR in check; how long would it be before a credible opposition to materialise? Do you think that MR regime will allow the opposition to get stronger; after all he is a master at gerrymandering? DBS: “That can be possible only in an atmosphere of amity and cooperation with the Sinhalese” What the reality is that, the minorities are expected toe the lines of the majority; the cooperation is expected from the minorities only!

    You quoted DBS:

    “Sadly as usual a vociferous minority without any feelings of guilt or remorse is engaging in stupid rhetoric and rabble rousing abroad. This is in stark contrast tothe mood of a shattered and battered people back home. ***There is an increasing disconnect between this arrogant, abrasive “Voice” abroad and the day to day life of people back home.***

    I agree with the above to most extent; I would like to separate the anti-Sri Lanka rhetoric that come out the Tamil Diasporas to those who call for reconciliation at the same time push for accountability and justice. I am very comfortable with encouraging the Tamil Diasporas to get engaged with the rebuilding efforts and participate with the Sri Lankan government in community projects. However, I will not waver on my call for war crimes investigations. I want this to be the last time people getting killed with impunity in Sri Lanka; I am also confident that holding the perpetrators to account will send a strong message to other countries in similar situations to think again!

  • Burning_Issue

    Wijayapala,

    “I’m afraid I did not understand your second part. The UNP carried out the killings, so how would bringing them to book have prevented what happened last year?”

    I have been told that there were numerous atrocities took place in the south during the nineties: burning tyres were wrapped around people’s necks, women were raped and murdered, summary executions, and many more atrocities. Fighting extremism is one thing but perpetrating inhumane acts is another thing. I believe that, there were enough evidences to warrant an international investigation. The then regime was able to sweep everything under the carpet because there was no one who could build pressure. However, if even the Sri Lankan government had investigated the atrocities and held the individuals to account, it would have gone a long way instilling discipline within the armed forces.

    By contrast, last year, the UN was present and privy to many occurrences of human rights violations. The Tamil Diasporas were demonstrating in many western cities; the major powers were monitoring the events through satellite images. The western media, the Channel 4 in particular was hell bent on exposing GOSL. Above all, there are credible evidences to back that thousands of people perished during the last phase of the war. The UN was implicated in devising the surrendering of some LTTE leaders whom were cold-bloodedly executed. Whether they deserve such a treatment or not is another issue but the Geneva Convention stipulates that, the surrendered should be imprisoned and looked after or something to this effect by the captors.

    However, I do sincerely understand your stand and do believe that you genuinely want the survived IDPs to lead better lives. I think that, there is much more important aspects that we cannot overlook that are dignity, Human Rights, and Fundamental Freedom. Their rights and freedom above all their dignity were comprehensively violated by both sides; they saw their family members and friends were being blown apart by motor shells; they saw the LTTE was firing at the fleeing terrified soles; they went through unimaginable carnage. I believe that these people need justice; there should a structured process for them to mend their psychological wounds; they need counselling in order for them to come to terms with what had happened to them. This is why I call for an investigation with a structured framework for rehabilitation.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Belle,

    You didn’t comment on the youtube link I sent you. You don’t like Afrikaners?

    People affected will soon realize that the way to fill their bellies is to vote for another regime, rather than rail at the West.

    But herein lies the catch- which alternative regime will they vote for? You must be living in “cloud-cuckoo land” if you think that Ranil Wickremasinghe will ever win an election.

    It will be fun to see what happens when SL regime can only turn to rogue nations for help.

    I wasn’t aware that India, China, and Russia are “rogue nations!” And I’m quite a bit curious how you’ll manage to get the UNGA behind you when Sri Lanka managed to defeat the EU’s attempt to bring a resolution at the UNHRC last year.

    Looks like your comparison with S. Africa still remains irrelevant. Sorry!

  • wijayapala

    Belle, no comments on DBSJ’s article?

  • wijayapala

    Burning Issue,

    Are you saying that there is no need for international standards?

    There is a need for international standards universally applied, not selectively targeting individual countries/leaders that we do not like. The people calling for war crimes investigations in SL give us the impression that they’re not too interested in similar investigations elsewhere.

    So, USA and allied forces can carpet bomb and wipe out all the civilians and Taliban together and it is justified; is this what are you saying?
    If so, why the west is not doing that?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallujah,_The_Hidden_Massacre

    “Pre-offensive inhabitant figures are unreliable; the nominal population was assumed to have been 250,000-350,000. Thus, over 150,000 individuals are still living as IDPs in tent cities or with relatives outside Fallujah or elsewhere in Iraq.

    Why should the war crimes investigation be an impediment to the Sinhala and Tamil relationship?

    It will be an impediment if it simply focuses on the Rajapakshas while ignoring everybody else. That seems to be what Belle “I DON’T want to talk about the LTTE” wants.

    In all seriousness, I do not believe that the MR regime is serious about reconciliation; it is endeavouring to subjugate the minorities. It is incapable of creating conditions for coexistence; it riddled with racists and expecting anything along the lines of reconciliation is futile.

    I do not disagree with you, but this necessarily brings us to the question of what will reconciliation entail? Earlier I mentioned somewhere that I think “reconciliation” will be impossible for the time being, and that we should not expect that our actions however well-intentioned will lead to reconciliation.

    I think the Rajapakshas have come to a somewhat similar conclusion, although I believe that this reality should not stop us (Sinhalese) from trying to help Tamils, more or less give us an excuse to do nothing. This in turn leads to the question “What should we do in this situation?”

    I believe that the priority should be placed on resettling the IDPs and dismantling the high security zones. There should also be a longer-term effort to implement Tamil as an official language. This will require collaborating in some way with the current govt. There’s no way around it. The alternative is to sit and wait for “regime change” while letting the Tamils in SL rot.

    It is for this reason why I admire Asin as well as members of the Tamil diaspora who are quietly trying to help the unfortunate without being confrontational and raising a stink that will only lead to more repression. I wish there were more Sinhalese like Asin.

    Do you now understand why I shared DBSJ’s article and comments with you?

  • Burning_Issue

    Wijayapala,

    You quoted Fallujah; I do not believe that the Allied Forces conducted the war in secret. I also do not deny that there were incidents that can be construed as war crimes. Some individuals committed crimes against humanity; both British and America dealt with them through legal avenues in the respective countries. I am all for anyone to put a case for war crimes involving the Allied Forces. If anyone proves that the army generals or the governments were directly involved in such crimes; they should be prosecuted.

    You quoted:

    “Pre-offensive inhabitant figures are unreliable; the nominal population was assumed to have been 250,000-350,000. Thus, over 150,000 individuals are still living as IDPs in tent cities or with relatives outside Fallujah or elsewhere in Iraq.”
    There are no evidences whatsoever to prove that the Allied Forces carried out carpet bombing in civilian concentrated areas. Unlike in Sri Lanka, the civilians were concentrated in one area and evidences exist to support that SLA fired shells repeatedly.

    “It will be an impediment if it simply focuses on the Rajapakshas while ignoring everybody else. That seems to be what Belle “I DON’T want to talk about the LTTE” wants.”

    I disagree; the investigation will examine all aspects of the war at the final stages; it will probe the GOSL, LTTE, and most importantly the UN itself. There has to be a review in order to rectify any mishaps on the part of the UN. The UN vacated the area paving the way for GOSL to carry out indiscriminate shelling.

    “I do not disagree with you, but this necessarily brings us to the question of what will reconciliation entail? Earlier I mentioned somewhere that I think “reconciliation” will be impossible for the time being, and that we should not expect that our actions however well-intentioned will lead to reconciliation.”

    I do not believe that Reconciliation is not impossible! It is not achievable in the absence of favourable conditions; such conditions can only be brought about by GOSL. I also do not believe that the MR regime will change in the near future. I see signs that the EU’s GSP+ pressure is having some impact; in addition, if more pressure can be exerted through India and other friends of Sri Lanka, then there will be changes. The war crimes investigation should move ahead in conjunction; this is the only hope to bring Sri Lanka under good governance!

    “I believe that the priority should be placed on resettling the IDPs and dismantling the high security zones. There should also be a longer-term effort to implement Tamil as an official language. This will require collaborating in some way with the current govt. There’s no way around it. The alternative is to sit and wait for “regime change” while letting the Tamils in SL rot.”

    Yes, I agree all concerned should work with Sri Lankan government or support projects that are being executed by any third party NGOs; I am all for this. This does not mean that, there should not be war crimes investigations. If GOSL were to stall on resetting of the IDPs; it will show their true colours; it will only exacerbate the UN’s resolve!

    “It is for this reason why I admire Asin as well as members of the Tamil diaspora who are quietly trying to help the unfortunate without being confrontational and raising a stink that will only lead to more repression. I wish there were more Sinhalese like Asin.”

    I understand the point that you are making, but I think that Asin would not have going to Jaffna if she was not landed in the pickle! Nevertheless, she went there and contributed something; that should be welcome. I am sure there are many Sinhala who will go to North to help but because fear of being labeled as traitors or LTTE supporter, no one will come forward. Again, its about creating right conditions for such things to happen! In any case putting pressure on the MR regime will benefit all Sri Lankans and not just the Tamils. MR made it look as if he was saying no to the GSP+ out of principles, but behind the scenes the government is busy negotiation with the EU. The sudden change of constitutional changes in terms of executive prime ministership as opposed to limitless presidency speaks volumes! MR is trying hit two apples with one stone!

  • Heshan

    “But I do have immense pride and confidence in the resilience and spirit of my people. What they need is space and time to revive themselves. We need a renaissance. That can be possible only in an atmosphere of amity and cooperation with the Sinhalese”

    A few words about DBSJ. He calls himself a journalist, but it is my experience that he does not abide by journalistic standards. For example, the main part of his “blog” which generates readership are not the articles themselves (which he shamelessly collects from anywhere in the Internet) but the comments section. The problem is that DBSJ also takes part in the comments section. You may verify for yourself that he has gotten upset with quite a few readers over their comments – mostly pro-LTTE. In fact, once upon a time, he was so angry with some of my comments, that he used my name to write false comments in a bid to make me look bad .

    I respect journalists, but as is the case with any occupation, there are those who do great work, those who do mediocre work, and those who ought to perhaps consider a different profession altogether. A journalist who does not abide by the principle of honesty belongs to the third category… he does a great dis-service to his readership, who may not have all day and night to scour through every corner of the Internet, like DBSJ does.

    P.S: DBJS is not well-respected among mainstream Tamils anywhere; I am not surprised. My personal opinion is that he has a vendetta against the LTTE, which is fine… but if it interferes with his journalistic work, then he should simply stop writing altogether, since biased journalism is useless.

  • Heshan

    *disservice

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,
    ““It will be an impediment if it simply focuses on the Rajapakshas while ignoring everybody else. That seems to be what Belle “I DON’T want to talk about the LTTE” wants.”

    There is a context in which people say things, and the meaning is limited to that context. I did not want to talk about the LTTE because I wanted people to tell me what GOSL and SLA was doing during the conflict years, how they treated Tamils. This was in connection to my interest in media representations of the conflict.

    As for war crimes investigations, let me say categorically that both sides should be investigated.

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,
    “Belle, no comments on DBSJ’s article?”

    I don’t generally approve of what Seeman is doing. He ought to be fighting for the SL Tamil cause, not on the basis of him being Tamil, but as a humanitarian and social justice concern. His racial nationalism is bad for the SL Tamil cause. Having said that, as a strategy in itself, I am glad he had some success in banning people from the IIFA event in Colombo.

    Asin didn’t attend the awards event. Kudos to her. Plus, the eye care clinics are a crafty idea where she helps the SL Tamils and also ‘gets’ Seeman. Good for her. But that doesn’t mean that I disapprove of boycotts.

    “You didn’t comment on the youtube link I sent you. You don’t like Afrikaners?”

    What’s there to say? Obviously, the SA police force needs to be cleaned up and shouldn’t be allowing policemen to think the force is their own private army. But I find the guy’s indignation ironic. When he talks of how horrible it is that white people are treated as immigrants, and asserts his identity as South African–did he think back to the half century where Blacks were not considered South Africans, where they had to live in shacks in bantustans, and carry cards when entering the white city areas? Did he think of the torture Blacks were subjected to in jail, the detention without trial and finally being wheeled out of jail dead or in some staged ‘suicide’ attempt. At least the Blacks have white policemen, and policewomen too in their police force! Ask him to compare this incident of private corruption of a Black policeman to the State crime of the Sharpeville Massacre.

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,
    “And I’m quite a bit curious how you’ll manage to get the UNGA behind you when Sri Lanka managed to defeat the EU’s attempt to bring a resolution at the UNHRC last year.”

    The UNGA is a different kettle of fish from the UNHRC. And at any rate, if that doesn’t work, the EU countries can organize friendly nations to join them in sanctions outside of UN auspices.

    “But herein lies the catch- which alternative regime will they vote for? You must be living in “cloud-cuckoo land” if you think that Ranil Wickremasinghe will ever win an election.”

    You mean there’s only one opposition guy in Sri Lanka? Within the context of sanctions, perhaps new figures will rise up. They will have to.

  • ModVoice

    Wijayapala,

    “It is for this reason why I admire Asin as well as members of the Tamil diaspora who are quietly trying to help the unfortunate without being confrontational and raising a stink that will only lead to more repression. I wish there were more Sinhalese like Asin.”

    The fact that this actress came forward to help only after the hostility of South Indian film industry should say a lot – she could have done that way before and without seeking publicity. Anyway, if the government could allocate a huge portion of budget to defence, to build permanent housing for these army personnels and their families in NE, why cannot they spend the same money for resettlement and the betterment of the war-affected Tamils in post-war Sri Lanka? Asin or Tamil diaspora’s money is negligible compared to the defence spending or the money in the pockets of the royal family. I am sure the constant bashing of the Tamil diaspora by certain elements is consistent with the need for an “enemy” so that sinhala nationalistic regimes like this could survive.

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue,

    There are no evidences whatsoever to prove that the Allied Forces carried out carpet bombing in civilian concentrated areas.

    “WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes where we could not get effects on them with HE [High Explosive]. We fired ‘shake and bake’ missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.

    “– Cobb; LaCour; Hight. The Fight for Fallujah. US Army.”

    What is the evidence that the SLA conducted “carpet-bombing?”

    Unlike in Sri Lanka, the civilians were concentrated in one area and evidences exist to support that SLA fired shells repeatedly.

    Why were so many civilians packed into such a dangerous area? Have you stopped to ask yourself that question (hint: UTHR-J provides an answer to that question)?

    the investigation will examine all aspects of the war at the final stages; it will probe the GOSL, LTTE, and most importantly the UN itself. There has to be a review in order to rectify any mishaps on the part of the UN. The UN vacated the area paving the way for GOSL to carry out indiscriminate shelling.

    Do you expect the UN to honestly investigate itself- especially after the revelations of corruption at the UNSG?

    And how did the UN pave the way for the shelling? Do you think the govt would have let Prabakaran lived if the UN allowed its employees to serve as his human shields?

    It is not achievable in the absence of favourable conditions; such conditions can only be brought about by GOSL.

    What are these conditions?

    I see signs that the EU’s GSP+ pressure is having some impact;

    What are these signs? The EU has withdrawn GSP+; don’t you think it’s too late now?

    this is the only hope to bring Sri Lanka under good governance!

    But WHO will bring good governance?? You are giving me the impression that as soon as Field Marshal Heshan lands his Western Intervention Force and hauls away the Rajapakshas in chains, Sri Lanka will be magically transformed into a Switzerland-like paradise! So who will fill in the gap and do this? Heshan? Belle? Rudrakumaran? Seeman? You??

    Yes, I agree all concerned should work with Sri Lankan government or support projects that are being executed by any third party NGOs; I am all for this. This does not mean that, there should not be war crimes investigations.

    Do you think that the govt will accept your help while you call for war crimes investigations?

    I am sure there are many Sinhala who will go to North to help but because fear of being labeled as traitors or LTTE supporter, no one will come forward.

    Asin went to the North with Mrs. Rajapaksha. Does that make Mrs. Rajapaksa a traitor or LTTE supporter?

    In any case putting pressure on the MR regime will benefit all Sri Lankans and not just the Tamils.

    How?

    The sudden change of constitutional changes in terms of executive prime ministership as opposed to limitless presidency speaks volumes!

    Speaking volumes of what? Mahinda wants to drop the Executive Presidency because he wants to stay in power but is on his second term. If he can change the system to become the Executive Prime Minister then how will that be different from a limitless presidency?

  • wijayapala

    Dear ModVoice,

    The fact that this actress came forward to help only after the hostility of South Indian film industry should say a lot – she could have done that way before and without seeking publicity.

    Nope- Asin would have been accused of being a traitor. After all, NONE of these S. Indian film stars had done anything to help SL Tamils. It was only after she had nothing to lose after being attacked for fulfilling her contract to Salman Khan that she defied Seeman further by going to SL.

    While we’re on this topic, what have you done to help SL Tamils, and how did you deliver this help without going through the govt?

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan,

    DBJS is not well-respected among mainstream Tamils anywhere

    Is this your first-hand judgment as a member of mainstream Tamil society?

    Could you kindly point me towards a Tamil or English article that does a better job covering Prabakaran’s last days, or the plight of Mr Velupillai at the hands of the govt?

  • wijayapala

    Burning_Issue,

    The then regime was able to sweep everything under the carpet because there was no one who could build pressure.

    Why no one? Because Sinhalese people are not as important as Tamils?

    However, if even the Sri Lankan government had investigated the atrocities and held the individuals to account, it would have gone a long way instilling discipline within the armed forces.

    As far as I know, the thrust of the current war crimes allegations do not involve a breakdown of discipline within the SLA but rather that the SLA was ordered to do what it did. The SLA did have enormous discipline problems when the war started, leading not only to human rights abuses but also an inability to fight the LTTE. This clearly changed in the last few years. In other words, whatever the SLA did was commanded from the top. That is probably why the Rajapakshas will never allow any kind of investigation that will threaten them.

    Prof. heshan told me a quite different theory that the SLA today is as undisciplined and useless as it was in the 1980s, and that the war was won by the Indian Army. If that is true, then Heshan should be defending the SLA from war crimes allegations as the Indians would instead have been responsible.

    I believe that these people need justice; there should a structured process for them to mend their psychological wounds; they need counselling in order for them to come to terms with what had happened to them.

    The (Sinhalese) victims of the 2nd JVP uprising didn’t get any of the above, and it’s been 20 years.

    I’m not saying that the Tamils shouldn’t get justice because we didn’t. I am saying though that you will not be able to get BOTH structured rehabilitation AND an investigation- you will have to make a choice (unless Field Marshal Heshan succeeds in conquering the island with a western army). Oddly enough Belle seems to understand this. She has gone the opposite route arguing for economic sanctions no matter how badly they will impact the minorities. DBSJ also seems to understand this, which may explain why he isn’t shrieking for investigations (although he isn’t shrieking against investigations either).

  • wijayapala

    Belle,

    But I find the guy’s indignation ironic.

    I felt the same way at first (not too different how I find your indigation ironic)- just another white guy unable to adjust to the post-apartheid era where he doesn’t enjoy the same advantages. However after listening to his many other youtubes I have a better grasp of what he’s saying. It’s been over 15 years since the end of apartheid and thus it’s getting harder to blame the current situation on that era. You can’t blame the two biggest problems- AIDS and crime- on apartheid, and these are precisely the two things which the ANC have failed to address.

    Anyway I wanted to share R3NDI3R with you because if I’m willing to listen to a white S. African then I should be willing to listen to you too. Perhaps there’s something that I’m not understanding.

  • ModVoice

    Wijayapala,
    I think you read too much of DBSJ and UTHR-J reports. Keep in mind DBS resides outside of Sri Lanka and UTHR-J had not been in Sri Lanka for a long period, hence I would question their credibility. Also, where do they get their funding from?

    “Nope- Asin would have been accused of being a traitor. After all, NONE of these S. Indian film stars had done anything to help SL Tamils. It was only after she had nothing to lose after being attacked for fulfilling her contract to Salman Khan that she defied Seeman further by going to SL.”

    How would you know none of the South Indian artistes contributed? They have fundraised several millions just last year for the displaced Tamils, I as surprised DBSJ does not know about this, or is this your own assumption? Personally, I am glad the actress helped but just thought I should point out it was rather self-centered as she stood to lose out on her Tamil films.

    “While we’re on this topic, what have you done to help SL Tamils, and how did you deliver this help without going through the govt?”

    This is a good question. That is why there needs to be no restrictions on ICRC and other NGOs. By banning them or limiting their activity, the government has only served to severely limit the flow of aid reaching the hands of the needy.

    Now, let me ask you a question. The government has acquired LTTE assets worth billions – thanks to patriot turned KP – how is this fortune being spent? Have they made any details public? All I am trying to say is that this government has more than enough money to help the IDPs – the diaspora bashing is only there to serve propaganda for this racist regime. There is no point trying to cover up a wound as if it does not exist. Very few are going to come forward unless they know where the money will reach, in other words, the government has to gain their trust as with any other.

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    You are giving me the impression that as soon as Field Marshal Heshan lands his Western Intervention Force and hauls away the Rajapakshas in chains, Sri Lanka will be magically transformed into a Switzerland-like paradise!

    As I recall, the Southern patriots boasted for decades that had the LTTE not come along, SL would have become the next Singapore, in fact even surpassed Singapore as an economic giant. Now that the LTTE is gone, we can see where SL would really have gone… one-man family rule, monks and communists (Marxists) sitting in the Parliament, a thoroughly corrupt police and judiciary, begging from the IMF, China, India, Libya, etc., colonization schemes in Tamil areas, an A-Level and O-Level pass rate of less than 50%…. even a simple thing like garbage collection and dengue vaccination is a monumental task for the patriots, who now have to get the Army involved! All of these things have gotten worse since the LTTE left, not better. The LTTE only prevented the acceleration of all these things. Is this the Singapore that the patriots envisioned? :)

    Is this your first-hand judgment as a member of mainstream Tamil society?

    One need not be a member of the Tamil community to realize this fact.

    Could you kindly point me towards a Tamil or English article that does a better job covering Prabakaran’s last days, or the plight of Mr Velupillai at the hands of the govt?

    It’s too bad you don’t know how to use the Internet properly, in such a way as to discredit the credentials of a mediocre but fairly-well known writer. DBSJ’s journalism goes something like this: he has a few “sources” in SL, probably some ex-LTTE members who work in paramilitaries. When a big event happens, he calls them up and gets the info. Then he correlates that info with whatever he can find on 200 other internet sites that have their own version of the story, and then he comes up with his own “unique” version of events. So there is no guarantee that DBSJ is accurate. One person by himself cannot cover such a vast area as the North-East of SL. A network is necessary. That is why DBSJ’s blog is full of articles written by other people – a true sign of second-rate journalism. Second-rate because he cannot vouch for the accuracy of the article; even the credentials of the author are at the sole discretion of DBSJ. Where are the editors?

    I have come across much better websites that give more accurate info.

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    You are giving me the impression that as soon as Field Marshal Heshan lands his Western Intervention Force and hauls away the Rajapakshas in chains.

    Perhaps not chains, but these guys definitely need to go. Whatever military purpose they may have been good for has clearly been expended. The continued emphasis on all things military, implemented by these men and their small circle of nationalists, does not bode well for the island. Look at all the successful Asian nations – did they reach their present status via the expenditure of vast sums of money (mostly borrowed from rogue nations) for military use? Japan – the only Asian G10 member – does not even have a military. What SL needs is a radical policy shift, moving well away from militarization and martial law, not towards it, such as is the case now. In this regard, Western models are very good, whereby the emphasis on human rights and clear separation of powers (at an institutional level) prevents any particular institution or person from becoming too powerful and carrying out various abuses which are *unofficially* sanctioned by a dysfunctional judiciary.

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan

    I have come across much better websites that give more accurate info.

    Could you provide even one such website, or are these sites simply a figment of your imagination? ;-)

  • wijayapala

    ModVoice,

    I think you read too much of DBSJ and UTHR-J reports. Keep in mind DBS resides outside of Sri Lanka and UTHR-J had not been in Sri Lanka for a long period, hence I would question their credibility.

    Could you please give me a better news source without getting tongue-tied like Prof. Heshan?

    UTHR-J broke the story as to the govt’s involvement in the Trinco 5 and ACF 17 murders. Since you question its credibility though, I guess someone else must have been responsible.

    Do you believe that Prabakaran is still alive?

    Also, where do they get their funding from?

    Who funds Tamilnet?

    How would you know none of the South Indian artistes contributed? They have fundraised several millions just last year for the displaced Tamils, I as surprised DBSJ does not know about this, or is this your own assumption?

    My own assumption. Who fundraised, and how did he/she get the money to the displaced Tamils without having to go thru the govt?

    “While we’re on this topic, what have you done to help SL Tamils, and how did you deliver this help without going through the govt?”
    This is a good question. That is why there needs to be no restrictions on ICRC and other NGOs. By banning them or limiting their activity, the government has only served to severely limit the flow of aid reaching the hands of the needy.

    You have not answered my “good question” and therefore I must presume that you have done nothing at all to help them.

    The government has acquired LTTE assets worth billions – thanks to patriot turned KP – how is this fortune being spent? Have they made any details public?

    Why are you so concerned with this money? I hope none of it was yours!

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,
    If you want to understand the South African situation today, you would be better off reading about their economic policies and expert views on the country’s challenges—rather than give credibility to a seriously miopic guy, if not a stirrer of racial hatred. If you read the stats, you’d realise that while White poverty is growing, unemployment among White South Africans is about the level of general unemployment rates in the West, whereas the unemployment rate of Black South Africans is five times that. The guy needs to grasp that, given that Black South Africans were entirely dispossessed for half a century at least, not counting the colonial period before that, when the economy was structured along racial lines, you are not going to get equality and growth in a matter of 15 years, especially when those years have coincided with downturns and recessions in the global economy.

    In terms of its economic policies, South Africa has to deal with two major challenges, poverty and distribution of wealth. It’s not just a case of your standard Third World economy trying to do better.

    AIDS and crime are related to the economy. Crime especially is the way people deal with unresolved economic problems. For eg, killing of White farmers and their families by the Blacks—the Whites still have the lands that were taken from the Blacks during the apartheid regime, when Blacks were pushed off farming. According to apartheid policy, Whites were to be the landholders, and Blacks were to be the cheap labour. So given that the government has not rectified this situation of land ownership (and can’t do so without nationalizing lands or taking from the Whites to give to the Blacks), the Blacks are trying to obtain these lands by criminal means. J M Coetzee’s novel “Disgrace” will give you both sides of the story of land in South Africa. I would suggest that Coetzee, possibly the best writer alive today, would be a better source to understand the South African problem.

    South Africa could have chosen to handle their economic problems the easy way, by taking possession of White wealth. They chose not to do so or at least were under international pressure not to do so. They are trying to balance the needs of both races, and inevitably causing disaffection from both quarters, who perceive the other side as getting the better end of the deal.

    I don’t quite get why you give this guy so much attention. Does he answer to your need to believe that racial equality is not possible anywhere, or that truth and reconciliation could only lead to violence and social instability? Without T and R, there would have been far more violence and chaos. South Africa just needs more time to show the positive fruit of its policies–that’s only being realistic. The Black majority have been living with sub-standard and even no education for so long, this is not going to be rectified in 15 years. Sri Lanka is still a 3rd World country after 60 years of independence.

  • ModVoice

    Wijayapala,

    “Could you kindly point me towards a Tamil or English article that does a better job covering Prabakaran’s last days, or the plight of Mr Velupillai at the hands of the govt?”

    Are you saying DBSJ had independent sources who witnessed the event as it happened and reported back to him? This is too funny.

  • wijayapala

    Hi ModVoice

    “Could you kindly point me towards a Tamil or English article that does a better job covering Prabakaran’s last days, or the plight of Mr Velupillai at the hands of the govt?”
    Are you saying DBSJ had independent sources who witnessed the event as it happened and reported back to him? This is too funny.

    As expected, you could not provide even one journalist or news source better than DBSJ. Thank you for not disappointing me.

  • wijayapala

    Belle,

    I don’t quite get why you give this guy so much attention.

    He’s a minority. Minorities are a great source to learn about societies underneath the nice surface they like to project.

    South Africa just needs more time to show the positive fruit of its policies

    With Jacob Zuma and Julius Malema in charge?

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    Here is one such site: http://defencewire.blogspot.com/

    Note: I don’t necessarily agree with all the content of the above site, but the central issue is whether or not the information obtained is accurate; in the above case, there is a lot that is accurate.

    I find it rather *disturbing* that you think only DBS Jeyaraj was able to “accurately” report on the final days of Prabhakaran, the capture of KP, etc. All of the latter can be found in the site I gave.

  • ModVoice

    Wijayapala,

    “You have not answered my “good question” and therefore I must presume that you have done nothing at all to help them.”

    It is interesting how you concentrate on my insignificant contributions when much of the money is puddled into the few “influential” persons in Slanka. Only those few have the capability to make any significant impacts on the people of north and east. Also, I am surprised you have nothing to say about the banning of NGOs such as ICRC, particularly during the hard times, which had a negative impact on the people.

    “Why are you so concerned with this money? I hope none of it was yours!”

    Here we go, you miss the point again! Shouldn’t anybody, who are concerned about corruption, be worried over whose pocket this money ends up in? Afterall, this tells us how the government will handle diaspora money.

    “Do you believe that Prabakaran is still alive? ”
    No.
    I wonder what brings you to this question. I am not pro-LTTE or nationalistic but I am anti-Sinhala chauvinism. Unfortunately, every government elected by the Sinhalese people have been anti-Tamil, except perhaps Ranil and I don’t think that one was elected, which brings me to the conclusion that the problem lies with the Sinhalese people. For example, so many whether or not moderate, including yourself, have remained mum over the immense suffering inflicted on the Tamil people last year, at least setting aside political differences over this human tragedy. As far as I am concerned, reconciliation is a hollow word.

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,

    “He’s a minority.”

    He belongs to a minority group only in terms of numbers. If you use either the sociological or socioeconomic definition of the concept of a minority group, he is not a minority because his group has the lion’s share of wealth in South Africa.

    “Minorities are a great source to learn about societies underneath the nice surface they like to project.”

    Strangely, I’ve never seen you give much credibility to Tamil views in Sri Lanka and what these reveal of SL society.

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan,

    I find it rather *disturbing* that you think only DBS Jeyaraj was able to “accurately” report on the final days of Prabhakaran, the capture of KP, etc. All of the latter can be found in the site I gave.

    I had no idea that you are a Sinhala Nationalist fan of Defencewire. All this time I assumed you were a Tamil pretending to be a non-Tamil.

    Please show me where defencewire discussed the deaths of civilians the way that DBSJ or UTHR-J did.

  • wijayapala

    Dear ModVoice

    Once again, I warmly thank you for failing to provide a single information site that is superior to DBSJ or UTHR. Your attempts to divert the discussion away from this failure whenever I bring it up are also laudable.

    “Do you believe that Prabakaran is still alive? ”
    No. I wonder what brings you to this question.

    I ask this question because DBSJ and UTHR-J broke this story fairly early, while the rest of (non-anti-LTTE) Tamil media took literally months to finally accept the fact. Also the Tamil media particularly Tamilnet did not do a very good job informing its audience that the LTTE was losing the war, compared to DBSJ and UTHR. This is where your failure to provide an alternative information source is most striking.

    It is interesting how you concentrate on my insignificant contributions when much of the money is puddled into the few “influential” persons in Slanka.

    If you contributed anything then I personally would not label it “insignificant.” Some would argue that Ms. Asin’s contributions were “insignificant” as they only benefited a few hundred people out of tens or maybe hundreds of thousands who need such help. I wouldn’t.

  • wijayapala

    ModVoice, I missed this tidbit of yours:

    Unfortunately, every government elected by the Sinhalese people have been anti-Tamil, except perhaps Ranil

    Ranil Wickremasinghe was in the UNP Cabinet in 1983 that facilitated the riots that killed over 3000 Tamils. A large number of Tamils in his Kelaniya electorate were massacred, pointing to his personal complicity. I never understood how many Tamils were able to forgive and especially forget what the UNP did to them over 25 years ago. Your memory appears to be especially short. Were you a Sarath Fonseka supporter earlier this year as well?

    Chandrika Kumaratunge was elected in 1994 and 1995 on a platform of delivering a political solution to the Tamils, only to be sabotaged by Ranil and the UNP. Could you please explain how she was anti-Tamil but Ranil was not?

  • wijayapala

    Dear Belle,

    He belongs to a minority group only in terms of numbers. If you use either the sociological or socioeconomic definition of the concept of a minority group, he is not a minority because his group has the lion’s share of wealth in South Africa.

    So you believe that the Tamils were not a “minority” in SL prior to independence?

    Strangely, I’ve never seen you give much credibility to Tamil views in Sri Lanka and what these reveal of SL society.

    I don’t give much credibility to YOUR views because I don’t consider you to be well-informed, but I am a fan of DBSJ and UTHR who last time I checked are Tamils.

  • wijayapala

    Correction: I don’t give much credibility to YOUR views because I don’t consider them to be well-informed

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,

    “I don’t give much credibility to YOUR views because I don’t consider you to be well-informed, but I am a fan of DBSJ and UTHR who last time I checked are Tamils.”

    Well, silly you to even think of comparing my views to those of a journalist like DBSJ, whose business it is to gather news on SL, and people on the ground such as UTHR (J).

    Also, other Tamils who you can check for informed views—the hundreds of thousands caught in the war. But maybe they’re not too credible for you either—since they won’t say what you want to hear.

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    Nice to see that you disagree with the Tamil opinion yet again on this forum, this time in regards to DBS Jeyaraj.

    Also the Tamil media particularly Tamilnet did not do a very good job informing its audience that the LTTE was losing the war, compared to DBSJ and UTHR.

    It’s too bad there is a media censorship in the South. Otherwise Iqbal Athas/Taraki would easily have told you where the war was heading. Of course the Sinhalese media was right on track… for 30 years, many Tamil terrorists everyday were being killed, rain or shine.

    “Five terrorists killed, weapons recovered”

    http://www.dailynews.lk/2007/06/08/sec01.asp

    With this kind of brilliant logic, you should have known in 1984 exactly where the war was heading.

    Have fun reading DefenseWire. If you don’t know how to search the archives, I suggest you ask DBS Jeyaraj. Maybe he can also teach what all the functions are on your browser. Maybe he can also teach you the ideal position to aim when you go for a daily s–.

    I had no idea that you are a Sinhala Nationalist fan of Defencewire. All this time I assumed you were a Tamil pretending to be a non-Tamil.

    I always knew you’re a closet racist unable to see anything from the Tamil point of view. My opinion has never changed since day 1.

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan

    Nice to see that you disagree with the Tamil opinion yet again on this forum, this time in regards to DBS Jeyaraj.

    As you are a Sinhala Nationalist who trusts pro-SLA blogs in favor of Tamil journalists like DBSJ, I’m afraid that you have no authority to speak about Tamil opinion. Sorry! :-(

    Otherwise Iqbal Athas/Taraki would easily have told you where the war was heading.

    Dharmaratnam Sivaram aka Taraki, who was acknowledged as the foremost expert on the LTTE, failed to warn us in 2004 that problems were brewing between Karuna and the Vanni leadership. As an Eastern Tamil resident in SL, Sivaram knew what was going on but kept quiet until things blew out of control. Typical of pro-LTTE Tamil media.

    As for Iqbal Athas, he’s a Muslim and thus under the Heshan brand of Christian fundamentalism, he should have no rights.

  • wijayapala

    Belle,

    Well, silly you to even think of comparing my views to those of a journalist like DBSJ, whose business it is to gather news on SL, and people on the ground such as UTHR (J).

    Actually it was silly of you to state in the first place that I do not listen to Tamils, which was the point I (successfully) refuted. I do applaud your honesty though that I should privilege knowledgeable Tamils over less-knowledgeable people such as yourself.

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    You have not addressed the fundamental issue, which is whether or not DefenseWire is accurate. The fact that it is pro-SLA is irrelevant. Elsewhere you stated that DBS Jeyararaj was the earliest one to break the news of Prabhakaran’s last days – a ridiculous assertion.

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan,

    You have not addressed the fundamental issue, which is whether or not DefenseWire is accurate.

    The fundamental issue is not whether a particular pro-SLA blog is accurate but rather what better **Tamil** (not Sinhala) news sources are out there than UTHR and DBSJ.

    You and ModVoice have consistently failed to answer this very simple question, and you can’t sidestep it by claiming that the Tamils should get all of their information from Sinhalese.

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,

    “Actually it was silly of you to state in the first place that I do not listen to Tamils, which was the point I (successfully) refuted.”

    Some clarification here–I did not mean that you don’t listen to any Tamil views. Rather, we were discussing the Afrikaner guy’s views of South Africa, and I wondered why you gave so much credibility to this one lay guy as a member of the minority when you don’t give any credence to the views of equally ordinary minority Tamils, such as those who post here. I should have made that more clear.

    “I do applaud your honesty though that I should privilege knowledgeable Tamils over less-knowledgeable people such as yourself.”

    For sure. But sometimes, those who you deem to be more knowledgeable are simply those who tell you what you want to hear. Also, for the record, my admission that there are others more knowledgeable than myself with regard to the Sri Lankan situation does not mean that I include you in that category. You’re good for trivia, but little else. Your analytical ability and knowledge of issues concerning democracy leave much to be desired (since you want to go on this jaunt of assessing one another).

    UTHR (J) runs real risks gathering info, and often cites excellent sources. DBSJ hardly ever mentions his sources. While some of what he says might well be true, they could equally be just a testament of his ability to spin a good yarn. If you’re seduced by his realistic detail, seeming authority and coherence in perspective, you should try fiction–this boasts the same qualities. You have as much critical ability as a groupie.

  • Heshan

    As for Iqbal Athas, he’s a Muslim and thus under the Heshan brand of Christian fundamentalism, he should have no rights.

    But it was not a Christian white van that took Taraki to his final destination… nor was it a Christian van which came to Iqbal Athas’s residence in the middle of the night and threatened his family….. neither did the non-existent Christian white van drive through checkpoints manned by Christian soldiers… I could go on and on with this argument, by the misapplication of the word “Christian” is glaringly apparent. In any case, all of us know the correct word. : )

  • Heshan

    *but the misapplication

  • wijayapala

    Belle,

    Rather, we were discussing the Afrikaner guy’s views of South Africa, and I wondered why you gave so much credibility to this one lay guy as a member of the minority when you don’t give any credence to the views of equally ordinary minority Tamils, such as those who post here.

    I don’t agree with everything that one Afrikaner had to say, just as I don’t reject everything that the average Tamil has to say. And I’ve given credence to the views of other Tamils here like Burning_Issue and Dr. Noel Nadesan.

    DBSJ hardly ever mentions his sources. While some of what he says might well be true, they could equally be just a testament of his ability to spin a good yarn.

    One of his ‘yarns’ back in 2008 was that the LTTE was going to lose the war and that there was going to be a humanitarian catastrophe. I didn’t see that prediction on Tamilnet or any other ‘patriotic’ Tamil media. I don’t think even UTHR made that prediction.

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,

    “One of his ‘yarns’ back in 2008 was that the LTTE was going to lose the war and that there was going to be a humanitarian catastrophe. I didn’t see that prediction on Tamilnet or any other ‘patriotic’ Tamil media. I don’t think even UTHR made that prediction.”

    In 2008, that was the dominant perception of the situation among the SL Tamil diasporic leftist intelligentsia in Toronto.

  • wijayapala

    In 2008, that was the dominant perception of the situation among the SL Tamil diasporic leftist intelligentsia in Toronto.

    Ah yes, the “traitors.” A pox on them, I tell you!