Colombo, Media and Communications, Politics and Governance

Bell Pottinger and official communiqués of the Sri Lankan government

Statement issued by Mr Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka

For security reasons the speech by His Excellency President Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka at the Oxford Union, the home of free speech, has been cancelled. This is a decision that has been made unilaterally by the Oxford Union, reportedly as a result of pressure applied by pro-LTTE activists.

His Excellency said:

“I am very sorry this has had to be cancelled but I will continue to seek venues in the UK and elsewhere where I can talk about my future vision for Sri Lanka.“

His Excellency went on to say

“I will also continue in my efforts to unite all the people of our country whether they live in Sri Lanka or overseas.

As a united country we have a great future.

If we allow divisions to dominate we will not realise our true potential.

We have had thirty years of division and conflict. We must now secure peace and harmony for all Sri Lankans.“

Samia Yakub
Bell Pottinger Business & Brand
Direct Line: [Edited out]
Mobile: [Edited out]
Switchboard: [Edited out]
www.bell-pottingerbb.co.uk
Part of the Bell Pottinger Group
A CarbonNeutral“ Company

###

Groundviews was forwarded this email a short while ago, which has been received by a number of persons including those in international human rights organisations and the UN system.

It is not so much the content that interests us, but the sender of the email – an employee of Bell Pottinger. We found it somewhat disturbing that an official communique of the Sri Lankan government was sent out in this manner – without any official letterhead, mistakes in punctuation, a terrible layout, featuring an email signature of a person with no links to the government and from a non-official account.

To make sure that this email was not one that was fabricated, Groundviews called up Samia who verified that this was in fact sent by her, on behalf of the Sri Lankan government who is their ‘client’.

In Bell Pottinger and Sri Lanka: Millions spent for what?, this site covered in detail the murky transactions of successive Sri Lankan governments with this infamous public relations firm.

This email – an official communique – sent in this manner, raises a number of questions. Is this the level of service we are paying for? Who authorised the transmission of this email from a non-official email account? Who approved the content of the transmission? Do Sri Lankans now have to rely on private email accounts of Bell Pottinger staff for vital updates related to their government? Are we the only country in the world that relies on staff of PR firms to send out official communiques? Does this not open to the door for flagrant abuse and hoaxes, that risk being taken seriously and indeed, embarrassing the government?

But perhaps the most vital question to ask is, what on earth is going on here?

  • Sarath Fernando

    Bloody brilliant questions, GV! congratulations!

    (Lines borrowed/adopted from Doctor Jayathilleka’s like comment rushed following GV’s piece on Wikipedia leaks – Thanks DJ)

  • Here is further information on the people whom we pay for do run GOSL’s PR in UK. (I merely googled my way through this info)

    The man running the operations at Bell Pottinger on Sri Lanka is: Mark Turnbull. http://www.bell-pottinger.co.uk/stage1/people/key_people_m_turnbull.htm

    This is how they define special projects: (http://www.chime.plc.uk/our-companies/bell-pottinger-special-projects)
    “Bell Pottinger Special Projects provides strategic communications services in support of conflict transformation, stabilization, nation-building and counter-radicalisation operations in conflict and post-conflict zones.The company develops and delivers influence campaigns, products (broadcast, print, outdoor, mobile, digital) and events that address civic populations or adversary forces in support of political, military or diplomatic objectives.The company has offices in London, Tampa and Washington DC, and associates in Europe and the Middle East”.

    Bel Pottinger Special Projects is a subsdiary of Chime Communications PLC headed by Lord Tim Bell – close to the Conservatives. Lord Bell has worked for the Pinochet Foundation, the Saudi, Bealrus and Iraqi governments etc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Bell,_Baron_Bell. He was awarded a knighthood in 1990 by Lady Thatcher in her resignation honours and a peerage by Tony Blair. http://www.chime.plc.uk/business-overview/our-people/board-of-directors

    Chime is also running the campaign to bring the Commonwealth Games to Hambantota in 2018. See: http://www.chime.plc.uk/press-releases/pmplegacy-appointed-by-sri-lanka-for-commonwealth-games-2018-bid

    I have a feeling that Lord Bell & Co have had a bigger role in how things worked out in Sri Lanka in the past three years – much more than we think and know.

  • eureka

    President Rajapakse doesn’t have to go out of the country to convey his ideas to the rest of the world. What he DOES at home is more than enough to convey his ideas:

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/09/23/submissions-before-lessons-learnt-reconciliation-committee-llrc-by-chandra-jayaratne/
    Submission before Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) by Chandra Jayaratne, 23 September 2010:

    ‘’…. IDP’s being denied access to their former places of residence
    Challenging the right to title of the properties traditionally owned and /or occupied persons living in conflict affected areas
    Large tracts of previously occupied lands being demarcated as high security zones
    Unjustified land acquisitions on security considerations but allocated for non security related purposes
    The publicly announced resettlement benefits to internally displaced persons not being distributed equitably and in line with the announced scheme
    Lack of basic amenities like water, sanitation, power and proper housing for the newly resettled families
    Resource allocation not determined on community priorities and allocated without consultation and outside the need base and at times missing the most vulnerable and in need, possibly due to identity based biases
    Some areas like Jaffna receiving more than necessary resource allocations and peripheral areas lacking in even basic allocations
    Preventing willing and capable NGO’s/INGO’s, international community and Diaspora from helping people in need at their most vulnerable moment of need
    Building of new permanent military cantonments with residential facilities for military personnel and their families
    Plans to settle majority community families in order to change the traditional area demography otherwise than by natural development oriented migration
    Arbitrary arrests and detention in the post war period as well
    Continuing active engagement of unauthorized armed groups
    Continuing disappearances of civilians
    List of persons in custody, camps and detention centres not being made public
    Failure to assist families in tracing missing persons
    Negative impact on civilians during the conflict due military excesses
    Unease of single women headed families fearing for their safety in the presence of large number of armed personnel of the forces
    Removal of burial sites of persons affected by the conflict
    Some important cultural, religious and remembrance sites being damaged and destroyed
    Disrespect shown by visitors to holy sites and sites held in high esteem by resident communities
    Free availability of liquor, cigarettes and narcotics
    Emerging consumerism promoted by business houses who fail to participate in adding value to the civilian communities
    Savings of the region being channelled to other areas whilst unmet needs of area community remain
    Decision making in the hands of the military or officials from the Central Government. .…’’

    People believe what we DO and not what we SAY.

  • eureka

    If he treats ALL the people in Sri Lanka equally well, then he wouldn’t have to worry about what those outside Sri Lanka say about him.
    Doesn’t he have a good friend to tell him so?
    Leaders need good friends to be good leaders.

  • eureka

    Bell Pottinger has only to tell the President to be a good leader to avoid all sorts of problems. But then you don’t get millions to tell that one sentence.

  • eureka

    If the President pays any attention to the basic tenets of Buddhism, he wouldn’t need PR companies to get by. He should be a real king for the whole world if he can abide by even a minimum of Buddhism.

  • eureka

    Good words from Mahanayakes shouldn’t cost a cent.

  • Shoba

    WikiLeaks cables: ‘Sri Lankan president responsible for massacre of Tamils

    American diplomats believed that the Sri Lankan president, Mahinda
    Rajapaksa, bore responsibility for a massacre last year that is the
    subject of a UN war crimes enquiry, according to a leaked US cable.

  • Travelling Academic

    @Aachcharya : “[…]bigger role in how things worked out in Sri Lanka in the past three years – much more than we think and know.”

    Go on, Aachcharya, tell us more, this is getting rather spicy…

  • The Mervyn Silva

    What the Bell is going on here I am asking.

    Cannot the Dayan be doing what the Bell the Pottinger is doing? Is he not doing it better also?

  • Agnos

    Shoba,

    Yes, Ambassador Patricia Buetinis has made everything clear in her cable to Washington–one, that the top leadership itself is made up of war criminals, therefore no investigation conducted by anyone within Sri Lanka can be legitimate; and two, Tamils within Sri Lanka are too vulnerable to insist on war crimes investigations at this time. This doesn’t preclude those of us who are out of the country from staying focused on it and keeping the issue alive, of course.

    Let us now see how the regime’s criminal appendages like DJ react.

  • wijayapala

    Aacharya

    I have a feeling that Lord Bell & Co have had a bigger role in how things worked out in Sri Lanka in the past three years – much more than we think and know.

    Really? I was under the impression that they were doing a pretty miserable job improving Mahinda’s image, although I admit they have their work cut out for them with this Mervyn Silva chandi malli-style regime.

  • Agnos

    Sorry, I misspelled the name of the ambassador. It is Butenis, not Buetinis.

  • eureka

    Why on earth do we call Sri Lanka a Buddhist country if Buddhism is not regarded as a our guide?
    Perhaps Bell Pottinger is a new religion to those who cannot abide by the traditional religions/philosophy?

  • Thiru

    When MR comes back to Sri Lanka the whole episode will be transformed into a campaign against West and those who are projected as the stooges of the West in Sri Lanka. Our masses will blindly succumb to this campaign and ultimately let MR consolidate his power!!

  • eureka

    Many people talk about a number of missed opportunities.
    To begin with, we must have a political will to have justice-and-peace.
    Otherwise we are NOT looking for opportunities.

  • longus

    Very poooor show by the Oxford Union. Why, doesn’t the British Police have enough manpower to protect a visiting head of state? The American President is more at risk than Rajapakse! If Obama was to give that speech the British Police would somehow make the necessary security arrangements, wouldn’t they blokes?

    This is purely playing into the LTTE pressure! This has (had not have had) happened in the name of Free Speech! Do they have anything like that, judging by this, dudes? They are just like “Despotic” Siri Lanka,NO?

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    I’ll be taking the bow, The Mervyn, but you mustn’t forget my friend, the Rajiva either.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Hey Agnos,

    You guys, the INGOs, the western media, tens of thousands of demonstrators, one poor self-immolating youth and the Mighty Miliband took their collective best shot at this in May 2009 at th UN Human Rights Council, and crashed and burned. as i once said there, they’d picked on the ” wrong continent, wrong country, wrong ambassador”.

  • Heshan

    longus,

    This is a victory for democracy, nay, for all mankind! War criminals ought to be banned from ever setting foot in the foremost halls of academia. A university is hallowed ground within which transpires that most noble of pursuits – intellectual discourse. Those whose hands are inexorably crimson have no business within such quarters – give this bugger a tour of the Tower of London and send him on a one-way trip to The Hague!

    “Great liars are also great magicians.”

    – Adolf Hitler

    “To say that this is what we had done, to clear misconceptions whipped up by LTTE remnants. Our aim was to ensure zero casualties. That was a miracle.”

    – Mahinda Rajapakse

  • luxmy

    Some people want to prop up Buddha statues all over the island and still the President has to run after PR companies in the West?
    No ”conspiracy of the West” ??

  • Chee Lanka

    @eureka said: “Good words from Mahanayakes shouldn’t cost a cent.”

    Oh really? Well, if the President can now conjure Mercedes Benz cars from thin air, I suppose it won’t cost a cent. As far as we know, the mahanayakes are among the most corruptible people in Sri Lanka!

  • The Mervyn Silva

    “Very poooor show by the Oxford Union. Why, doesn’t the British Police have enough manpower to protect a visiting head of state? The American President is more at risk than Rajapakse! If Obama was to give that speech the British Police would somehow make the necessary security arrangements, wouldn’t they blokes?”

    The longus, why surprised? This is becaause the Rajapakse is in the Black. Remember the Obama is in the Black only half the time!

    But for us in the Sri Lanka side this is good news. What fun we wil be having now with this new challenge to the sovereignty! I am thinking, one fast one by the Wimal near the British high commission and another not so fast one by Urumaya boys in some quiet place and maybe even a real fast one by the Fonseka inside the Welikade. All trouble forgotten for at least a month! The Gota, the brother of Our Majesty might even be making a nother televison appearance and threatening to be hanging the Pottinger by the Bella until the wiki leaks!

    A few days ago I am saying and asking, what we are needing is a(nother) good war and where is it going to be coming? Here it is coming! In the diplomatic bag!

    And the Dayan, see, you are having friends! People saying, ah the Dayan, no friends, only Masters and employers, but I am saying to them, dont be nasty like, everybody has at least one friend and the Dayan must be having more than the one. At least two. Now we are knowing, the Rajiva is your friend.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    Th Dayan is saying,

    You guys, the INGOs, the western media, tens of thousands of demonstrators, one poor self-immolating youth and the Mighty Miliband took their collective best shot at this in May 2009 at th UN Human Rights Council, and crashed and burned. as i once said there, they’d picked on the ” wrong continent, wrong country, wrong ambassador”.

    Gahapan putha thawa pinumak!!!!

  • The Traveling Academic, Wijayapala: I said that i merely have a feeling/a hunch that they may have had a bigger role. I wont know at all. 🙂

  • Bundoora

    The Mervyn silva ,
    You bring the sheer pleasure in to this blog Mervyn silva , by the way Dj has mentioned rajiva’s name , is not he another Dj type spin Doctor.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    The Mervyn, I have at least two more friends : the editor of GV and the Emeritus Prof Richard Falk of the Princeton ( who is also the UN Special rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories).

  • The Mervyn silva ,

    See Mervyn , I have told you , are you impressed now ? for heavens sake , please do take this man seriously , at least now !!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Hey Merv, I didn’t interpolate mentions of the UN Human Rights Council Special session on Sri Lanka last May into the WikiLeaks texts, my man. As the British press reports, that was in the texts of cables sent from the US Embassy in the UK! The entire sequence of events, the run up to it and the context in which it as held; Miliband and the UK Foreign office’s efforts and expectations all become clear from the WkiLeaks ‘dump’. I’m just smiling , is all ….Good memories.

  • ram kapoor

    Hi DJ,
    I’m your friend too.

  • Shoba

    As Groundviews reported here that the Sri Lankan “official press release” was sent by someone at Bell Pottinger, using her private email.

    🙂

    So much for magnanimity and statesmanship of the Sri Lanka Gov. ?!?!

  • longus

    Heshan

    Your statement stinks of bias. Rajapakse is not convicted of war crimes, nor is he on a warrent, (as you were saying in another place that he could not go to UK for fears of being arrested – but he is not, at the time of writing this!) If Barack Obama can be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, why can’t Rajapakse give a speech at a University Student Union? If you think someone is a war criminal wait until it is proven and then condemn!

    Anyway this is not the reason given by the Oxford Union for the cancellation of the speech and you seem to be one step ahead of the pro-LTTE demonstrators who took part!

    I personally think that Rajapkse shouldn’t have gone there. And on the other hand it’s an utter disgrace on the prestigious Oxford Union to invite somebody (a foreign Head of State) and then cancel it when the person arrives. The Englishman seems to have removed his proverbial MASK here!

  • longus

    The Mervyn Silva

    Do you no what our Lanket peoples are going to do now? They are inviting Cameron lokka to Siri Lanka and cancel the visit when he come to airport! And say we can’t give him security! We can also invite Tony Blair to give a lecture at the BMICH and cancel the speech when he is in Colombo and take him to show the old parliament and the Galle Face! Or we can arrange a meeting with you!

  • ordinary lankan

    Great stuff all round!

    so many masks coming off – difficult to keep track – getting dizzy

    we needed this with christmas coming on and no cheer

    now lots of cheers!!!

    gahapan putha appudiyak …

  • Sarath Fernando

    It is sad that an insightful set of questions that GV put together so promptly, and which formed the crux of the article, gets so rapidly sidelined and hi-jacked by comments that are at best tangential or perhaps even to a large degree irrelevant triviality, irrelevant to the questions in the original GV article.

    May I please suggest that, even if we don’t remain exclusively focused on GV’s observations, could we at least make sure those rather critical points don’t get lost in our seemingly egocentric rush to out-do the other’s comments. GV’s observations need very serious thoughts and clarifications to reaffirm confidence in the capability of our officials, diplomatic services, foreign ministry and overall leadership.

    Let me reiterate the pertinent and frankly poignant remarks of GV, just to be sure.

    “We found it somewhat disturbing that an official communique of the Sri Lankan government was sent out in this manner – without any official letterhead, mistakes in punctuation, a terrible layout, featuring an email signature of a person with no links to the government and from a non-official account.”…

    This email – an official communique – sent in this manner, raises a number of questions. Is this the level of service we are paying for? Who authorised the transmission of this email from a non-official email account? Who approved the content of the transmission? Do Sri Lankans now have to rely on private email accounts of Bell Pottinger staff for vital updates related to their government? Are we the only country in the world that relies on staff of PR firms to send out official communiques? Does this not open to the door for flagrant abuse and hoaxes, that risk being taken seriously and indeed, embarrassing the government?

    But perhaps the most vital question to ask is, what on earth is going on here?”

    I think it will indeed be useful to take this one-step further, given the Pottinger-related news items in the press in the past week or so.

    Here is my take on this – I concede, it is all hear-say, yet from publicly available, diverse news sources. I will be truly grateful to be corrected, if done authentically.

    Rumours were that our Foreign Minister, disgusted with his inability to successfully perform as planned during the last trip to London, apparently faulted the Pottinger firm for inadequate ground work. That apparently resulted in some retort by the private firm, and it seemed the two were soon to part.

    Soon after, there were questions on potential Diaspora initiative, in case the President was to re-schedule his trip. There was picture-evidence of Pottinger’s taking keen interest to learn of those initiatives first-hand at a meeting of the Diaspora in London.

    A few days go by, and rather startlingly officials confirm President’s trip, obviously having received official assurance that the Diaspora’s legal initiatives will come to naught.

    However, when the slip occurs between the proverbial cup-and-the-lip, the official notification of Speech Cancellation comes from, of all places, Pottinger – as reported, verified, confirmed and authenticated by GV.

    Does that smell of anything but fish?

    Does it not raise the question as to who was responsible for getting the assurance that the President needed for his travel, and how that was achieved? – Did the high-commission handle that responsibility on its own and by direct dealings with the Government of the U.K. as it should be or was Pottinger or other private middle-men were involved, with pecuniary rewards for such?

    Was this all on the up-and-up or is there a possibility of unsavoury, if not illegitimate transactions in the process of getting U.K. Officials to deliver such assurance?

    I hope we could get a little clarification from knowledgeable Diplomatic contacts or other insiders, even if not from the U.K. itself, perhaps from some of the rather prolific, regular diplomat-contributors to this blog. Or, is silence the best strategy, all of a sudden?

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The Dayan,Thank you for your replyings. But you are causing me the trouble. First, you are using the big word. I am also doctor yes but I am also small man with small dictionary in pocket. “Interpolate”! I am thinking what is this? Another friend? God in the heaven side, this man is having many friends, I am thinking. Five now, including the Ram Kapoor. And the Bundoora, I am not sure whay you are not taking the Dayan seriously when he is having so many friends! And one of them is the interpolator!

    That is not the everything. When I am readng the Groundviews my wife looking over the shoulder side and asking who is this writing to you? Who is calling you “my man”. What is going on? There better not being any hanky and the panky or all the mango trees in the countryside will not be enough for you to be hiding behind! Who is the Dayan she is also asking. You are seeing, she is not like me. She is only into the domestic affairs, not the international affiars like myself. Otherwise she is hearing of you, all the time. So I am teling her, Dayan is big man, not my man but big man. He is first in the Geneva side, then getting kicked outside and going to the Singapore side. There he is jumping up and down and presdient feeling feeling guilty about first kick from Geneva so giving another kick to the French side. But no matter where he is getting kicked he is always kicking around in the Groundviews. Now I am knowing why because the Sanjana is his friend.

    And she is not liking some of your friends. Falk? She is asking. Who the Falk? Sounding like code word for some shameful un-sri lankan activities! And the son is hearing the wife and saying if amma is allowed to say the F word in the household so can I! So my house is becoming like the other House – the parliament with lots of screamings and yellings and the F word flying to the hither and to the thither.

    But I am happy to be knowing that you are having friends and also having the good humour. Sometimes you are replying to the peoples in the Groundviews like you are having the tumour. Not good for people knowing the Falk and the Sanjana. And you are also having the good memories. My friend who is knowing you from the days you are folding flags for EPRLF is sayng you are also losing the memories. But I am telling him, look here my man, it is better to be losing your own memories than other people losing their meories of you!

    And, if it is making you happy, my friend is now folding flags for the Mahinda.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The longus,

    I am getting your point but why we “invite” the Cameron and the Miliband? I am saying, we bring them! I am reading the Mahavamsa these days and getting lots of ideas. It is the only book to be reading these days when we are running back to the ancient days. So I am reading the book, wondering why we are not making this prescribed textbook in all the schools and the universities, when I am coming across the story of the Sinhala king sending the Neela fellow to the Indian side to be bringing 12,000 Sinhala POW released and 12,000 more new POWs from the Soli side. I am thinking, why not be doing this? Plenty of Solis in the British side. You are seeing them waving the flag in the Oxford side. We are able to bring not 12,000 but 24,000 back. But I am thinking that is going to be causing the ethnic problem when we are trying to be planting the Sinhalese in the Jaffna side. So I am thinking we must be bringing the English prisoner of the War, worth 12,000 Milibands! This is going to show them why we are the wondering of the Asian side.

    Small problem is briging 12,000 Sinhalese yakkos back with them. It is easy to be finding them in the British side but they are never wanting to come back, only wanting to be waving the flag from the outside, like the baby Tigers shouting at Our Majesty in the Oxford side.

    Of course we are needing big force to be doing all this. Must be taking at least 12,000. But this is not problem at all. President already taking 100 in the entourage. Wht is another 11,100! This is costing a lot of money??Who is to be complaining? The people? Show me the people and I will show you the money!

  • justitia

    Instead of Bell Pottinger, Dayan Jayatilleke and Rajeeva Wijesinghe should have been entrusted the task of preventing adverse publicity about the president’s visit.

  • Agnos

    DJ,

    “…took their collective best shot at this in May 2009 at th UN Human Rights Council, and crashed and burned.”

     Utter nonsense. Some emotionally charged people might have hoped for something from the HRC. But the sober people knew that–

    1.       The UN is an impotent organization and any HRC resolution would amount to nothing. Has the Goldstone Report resulted in any tangible action against Israel?  You can stay consumed by your self-importance and exaggerate the HRC for all you want, but HRC meant nothing.

    2.       There are plenty of other ways of bringing war criminals to justice, and they are often far more effective.  It is a life-long commitment to find and bring war criminals to justice.

    The evidence is coming out slowly but surely. Make no mistake, there is no comfortable retirement for Sri Lanka’s war criminals, including you, long after any diplomatic immunity has expired. Foreign Policy magazine has just chosen the world’s 100 most influential thinkers, and Louise Arbour is explicitly cited for her efforts to keep the issue of war crimes in Sri Lanka alive. Go figure.

    You said earlier that all you had to do was ignore me when you saw my handle. How is that working out?

  • sanjeev

    Groundviews, absolutely wonderful, thankyou.

    D J

    Is silence the best strategy?

    Sarath Fernando, thank you for shining a light on the core and cutting open the fat to expose the meat..

    Maybe now the discussion will revert to the Groundviews Observation

  • eeurekaa

    Eureka said:
    ”If he treats ALL the people in Sri Lanka equally well, then he wouldn’t have to worry about what those outside Sri Lanka say about him.
    Doesn’t he have a good friend to tell him so?
    Leaders need good friends to be good leaders.”

    Bell Pottingers try to gloss over faulty cores.
    Good friends try to make faulty cores faultless.

  • junta

    All this and less took place in a continent that is increasingly becoming irrelevant to what matters in Sri Lanka.

    Sri Lankans can sit back and enjoy the collapse of Europe as a great player of the world!

    Three Cheers!!

  • ““Great liars are also great magicians.””

    how come you don’t know any magic then?

    Hey, [David, c’mon – don’t incite ad hominem comments] Heshan, what are you doing here? I’m waiting for your response here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/11/28/the-big-lie/comment-page-1/#comment-25419

    Can’t find Google?

  • Heshan

    how come you don’t know any magic then?

    Why don’t you use your magical abilities and get Rajapakse to disclose his assets? Begin with the money in the “Helping Hambantota” account and end with KP’s *donations* to the *royal* coffers.

  • Heshan

    Since some of us have taken a liking to magic…

    By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.

    – Adolf Hitler

    “It’s a joke. We have proved we can save these civilians by rescuing 200,000. So why so many foreign ministers in this indecent hurry?”

    – Gothabaya Rajapakse (http://sinhale.wordpress.com/2009/05/02/london-daily-telegraph-newspaper-quotes-gotabhaya-rajapaksa-as-telling-milliband%E2%80%99s-visit-to-sri-lanka-was-a-joke/)

  • Vino Gamage

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/2010/12/02/the-president-mahinda-rajapakse-turned-a-difficult-situation-to-come-out-of-it-as-a-great-statesman-with-poise-and-dignity/

    ”No one knows what prompted Sri Lanka President to take this risky action.
    As far as I know, Sri Lanka High Commission in London has warned MR not to do this trip. They have vehemently opposed from the beginning giving all details to Sri Lanka about the current security lapses in the UK.
    SLFP UK branch had requested and begged the President not to come. ….”

    Oxford Union is not controlled by the university or the government – it’s only in Sri Lanka that everything is under the thumbs of Rajapaksas.

    Dear Brethren in the South,
    what has been happening in the Northeast since May 2009 is much worse than what has been happening between 1948 and May 2009. Please visit the Northeast and decide what you should make politicians do.

  • Suresh

    Rajapaksa plans to speak at a function where even fifty people would not have participated he seems to have taken more than a hundred of his yes men.

    Even though the wails of genocide were rendering the air, hRajapaksa decided to take a military officer who is a war criminal.

    I do not have to repeat the rest of the fairy tale, the whole planet knows what took place.

    They say ” everyday is not Christmas “,Rajapaksa, the master of deceit has just walked into his own waterloo, as the media very cleverly states and what goes around has to come around.

    When he flies back to the safety of his own back garden, the likes of Lemon-Puff and , the million goons like Merv will bring the gullible’s in their thousands who will be given free transport and the dry fish rice packets to pay hosannas to the all conquering king who just could not tell the British about his desires to make

    Sri Lanka become Sorri Lanka

    or

    ori Lanka [ or as we say in Tamil – itchy Lanka ] 🙂

  • Davidson

    My Goodness, Sri Lankans protesting outside the British High Commission in Colombo think that Oxford Union can be influenced by the University or the Government !

    Britain is not Burma, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, …… where the rulers rule everything from ministries to markets.

  • Heshan

    Rajapakse finally got a taste of what a REAL democracy is like. Imagine if the Sri Lankan press was not censored and normal citizens were allowed to protest freely (without threat of water cannon and police batons). We would see this kind of protest everyday in Colombo until there was meaningful reform.

  • Davidson

    ”We must now secure peace and harmony for all Sri Lankans.”

    It isn’t too late. Mr President, show it in the Northeast. Truth will zoom round the world without Bill Pottingers who are needed only to relay lies.

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/10/young_religious_visit_their_ow.html#more
    Young religious visit their own suffering brothers and sisters in Northern Sri Lanka, Rev.Fr.Lasantha de Abrew, 25 October 2010:

  • Davidson

    ”If we allow divisions to dominate we will not realise our true potential.”

    Mr President, people believe deeds, NOT words:

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/04/four_new_sinhala_doctors_condu.html
    Four “New” Sinhala Doctors Conduct a Medical Camp in Mandaitheevu, Fr.Lasantha de Abrew, 18 April 2010:
    ‘’… The A-9 journey was a special attraction for these medical doctors on their first visit to Jaffna. “I felt that A9 is neither a pathway to Jaffna nor a link between North and South of Sri Lanka. I could see only army sentry points and extended army camps throughout the journey to Jaffna. Why are there so many Buddha statues along the A9 route? Were there Buddhists along this path other than the Sri Lankan forces?
    We could see Army sentry points every two hundred meters, some are newly done. Kilinochchi town seems to be an Army village, so many personnel, army run shops, army vehicles, and army men playing cricket leisurely. Rarely did we see Tamil people.” These were the comments of these Sinhalese – Buddhist doctors as we drove on the A9.
    …For the past twenty years, the Sri Lankan Navy has captured the Mandaitivu village with these peoples’ houses and made it a High Security Zone. The people were displaced several times in different places and have last come back but they are staying outside of the naval camp in huts just gazing at their own homes occupied by the Navy. The doctors spoke to the people and observed their utter poverty. ….’’

  • luxmy

    Heshan
    Demonstrations by government supporters are allowed !!

  • luxmy

    ”I am very sorry this has had to be cancelled but I will continue to seek venues in the UK and elsewhere where I can talk about my future vision for Sri Lanka.”

    You have already spoken here:

    This speaks for you:
    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/sril-d02.shtml

    Oops, you’ve given the wrong order of Ds and peace:
    http://www.thehindu.com/news/resources/article906009.ece
    ”…Development(+peace)… Democracy…. Devolution…”
    If democracy comes first, we’ll have sustainable devolutio and if we have sustainable devolution we’ll have sustainable development. Then we have peace!

  • luxmy

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/asia/article2829383.ece
    “We are very weak in our propaganda.”

    Bell Pottinger has been hired for more than one year and yet …. ?

    It’s much easier to do the right thing and speak the truth at NO cost, but with the possibility of remaining a king in many hearts and minds.

  • manga

    “I am very sorry this has had to be cancelled”

    1. Not only Tamil diaspora but also Oxford university students objected to two aspects
    i.war crimes and ii. recent brutal treatment of their counterparts in Sri Lanka

    2. other cancellations by Oxford Union:
    i.1998 – British ultra-right leader John Tyndall
    ii. 2000 – holocaust denier David Irving
    iii. Euthanasia campaigner Dr.Philip Nitschke

  • The Mervyn Silva

    “Demonstrations by government supporters are allowed !!”

    Anything is allowed by the supporters of the government.

    You are either with us or you be joining the diaspora!

  • jansee

    Dayan:

    “as i once said there, they’d picked on the ” wrong continent, wrong country, wrong ambassador”.

    Really! It does not seem to be going that way. Of course, if MR and the gang had gone for some political considerations to the Tamils and had kept his promises, it may not have turned this ugly. You were lucky that you got out of the loop, thanks to the wisdom of DJ. However, things are going to get pretty ugly for the Rajapakses and the army seniors who were involved in the genocide. There is ample information and evidence to cite them for genocide. It will be interesting to see how they fare in a foreign court . Since you were close to them once, perhaps you can whisper to the Rajapakses to do the “right” thing and may be the world may not look at them cynically as it does now.

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan

    Rajapakse finally got a taste of what a REAL democracy is like.

    DBSJ’s most recent article clearly states that the threat of pro-LTTE violence, not any democratic norms, led to the speech being called off at the last minute. It is rather pathetic to see the British police unable to allow free speech in their country, but what to do when you have potential suicide-bombers (the unfortunate image that the LTTE gave for the Tamils):

    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1855

    “In such a situation the only other option for law –enforcement agencies was to put pressure on Oxford Union society itself. Union office bearers were appraised of the volatile situation. They were advised that going ahead with the lecture may result in serious violence and that the union could be held responsible for such an eventuality.

    “Citing Police intelligence reports,officers of Thames Valley Police informed the Oxford Union office-bearers that a massive protest had been planned in the heart of Oxford with about 5-10,000 people participating. If held it would have been the single biggest protest demonstration in recent times and the stately University town could be paralysed. Police also “advised” that the demonstration could turn violent thereby causing danger to Oxford and its inhabitants.

    “Police also advised that large numbers of protestors could infiltrate the Oxford union audience and target the Sri Lankan president. This too could turn ugly and pose a security risk to Mahinda Rajapaksa. In such a situation the Police was duty bound to take extreme steps.This in turn could render the pre-dominantly Student audience vulnerable.

    “It could be seen therefore that there have been incidents where the right of free expression has been denied to persons by the “last bastion of free speech in the western world”. It is indeed sad that the Oxford Union unilaterally cancelled the invitation to President Rajapaksa due to intimidation and fear of possible violence.”

  • wijayapala

    Dear jansee

    There is ample information and evidence to cite them for genocide.

    Kindly show us this evidence. Thank you.

  • manga

    Jansee
    Please give your definition of genocide – one genocide had gas chambers 65 years ago in a developed part of the world.
    Some say hacking a lot of people with machetes could also be called genocide in another part of the world.
    Sri Lanka, being an island, is certainly an extreme case of internal colonialism.

  • Davidson

    Jansee
    If you add up all what has been happening in the last 62+ years, it could add up to one form of genocide – a few more years from now will prove a lot of things – that is how the last eighteen months, if not the last five years, have been.

  • jansee

    wijayapala:

    Please don’t sit tight in Sri Lanka and expect anyone to show you the evidence. If an army general who fought and was partly responsible for the defeat of the LTTE can be dragged out from a hotel like a common criminal, what more of ordinary citizens if they ever produce any evidence?

    It will be foolhardy to expect justice or for the truth to come out from within SL. The pressure has to and will come from the outside. That is why we have such institutions like the International Court of Justice, etc. Who would ever produce any evidence to the SL regime? Does it take a second guess what will happen to it? Show that evidence to you. You must be joking, don’t you. What MR went through in the recent Oxford Union debacle is just the beginning of more to come. The innocent civilians did not die in vain.

  • Sarath Fernando

    Perhaps one needs to also remember the many politicians (including Clinton, Powel, etc) and other global dignitaries who were not allowed access after they arrived in our country to continue with their original plans to visit certain areas, based on security concerns. So, if there are security concerns, would that be improper to change plans?

    The President had the full right and privileges to present his speech to the Press; he could very well forward a written version to Oxford or any other; and he had every right to make that an official communiqué to British administration via Sri Lankan embassy – so to characterize this as a “Denial of the Right of Free Speech” as DBSJ puts it is indeed a stretch and may not reflect well on a respected authour. Frankly, it does not truly reflect due respect to the readership either – there is some gullibility implications!

    It may also be worth remembering the “security lapse” at the guard-of-honour offered to the Indian leader Rajiv Ganadhi on our soils, right under the nose of our President J.R at that time, and the rather mild slap-on-the-wrist punishment to that foot soldier for that ignobility imposed on a foreign leader. In fact, the larger divide, as DJ likes to refer, ended up celebrating the foot-soldier for doing exactly what he did, didn’t they?

    Considering the fact that a few rather unusual and disconcerting events occurred just in the last two days, such as,

    (a) The President was denied the opportunity to address the Oxford Union
    .
    (b) A video surfaced that clearly suggests women, seemingly non-combatant women, were brutalized by SL Army.

    (c) As GV highlighted, the SL Government seem to have given extra-ordinary privileges to Bell Pottinger and Co with respect to official communications, customarily reserved for State Departments and Foreign Service, particularly for a country seemingly so firm on the sovereignty of the state

    (d) Wikileaks unequivocally confirmed US ambassador’s sentiments on the end-phase of the war and the confidence one could place on SL Government in terms of assuring fairness and justice.

    In that backdrop, some political observers have tended to focus rather narrowly, and in my view inappropriately on issue (a) above, alone. For instance DBSJ who wrote two articles in a short span of a day or so, summarizes his sole concern as “In this situation this column once again commends President Rajapaksa for the statesmanlike statement issued. This column understands his pain and disappointment in being “so near and yet so far”.

    It will be disingenuous if I were to say such exclusive interest and seeming outrage on just this one issue of MR’s discomfort, while ignoring the other three of likely significantly greater gravity to the country’s image, does considerably downgrade the respect and credibility one would place on the independence of such journalists and political observers.

    Thought I’d express my disappointment, since I feel many others perhaps may possibly share similar sentiments, and begin to wonder. Perhaps, I am alone in this.

    Aside from that observation, in a not un-related concern, I would also like some comment or clarification on the following from any one in the know (really in the know!)

    (1) While some journalists have suggested the President was there for the “main purpose of addressing Oxford’s prestigious Oxford Union,” there are recent reports contradicting the nature of the Oxford Union in question. Namely, one paper noted “The Oxford Union (OU) is a different body and it has nothing to do with other student associations. None of the Sri Lankan students studying in Oxford today is in the OU at least as a committee member. When we hear about Mr Bandaranayake or Mr Lalith Athulathmudali’s Oxford days and their activities in the Student Union, it is important to know that was the main OU. Not this pocket size sangamaya (the article further identifies that it is “made of just 8 out of 16 Sinhala students at Oxford”).” Any chance someone can authoritatively enlighten us on whether the OU that invited had members other than the 8 or perhaps the 16 Sri Lankan Sinhala students, and lay this concern to rest?

    (2) The GV rightly raised considerable concerns on the issue of Pottinger Co. taking responsibilities that should have been an exclusive right and responsibility of our Foreign Ministry. Is that appropriate/inappropriate? Is there precedence for this? Should the enquiry on this go even further as to whether Pottinger in fact had any hand in obtaining and perhaps bungling in the Security assurance from U.K Government.

    Thank you.

  • Vino Gamage

    Dear Bell Pottinger

    Can you help here please:
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=33166
    Rajapaksa vengeance orchestrates political shield of captive Tamils in Vanni, 4 December 2010

  • Vino Gamage

    Dear Bell Pottinger

    Was the following in your brief, Sir:
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=33160
    One did not fly over, 3 December 2010

  • wijayapala

    jansee

    Please don’t sit tight in Sri Lanka and expect anyone to show you the evidence.

    So instead I should presume them guilty until proven innocent? I should remind you that Prabakaran is dead and his Tamil Eelam court system is also gone.

  • Heshan

    “Clearly the revelations from Channel 4 News was – to the average viewer at least – perceived as being another feather in the cap of what has now proven to be the colossus that is the media department of the LTTE.”

    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2010/12/05/chaos-in-london-marks-p-r-disaster/

    Has anyone actually seen this new Channel 4 video? It doesn’t look fake to me. I have seen the whole video; unfortunately, its very graphic and I don’t want to upset readers by posting the link here. It seems as if the SLA has a thing for abusing dead bodies – remember the aftermath of the Anuradhapura attack? Of course, GOSL will not carry out any investigation – since the President’s brother is the Defense Secretary – which is proof that the Sri Lankan military acts with impunity. Which should make us more hesitant to dismiss Channel 4 type allegations so quickly. By the way, Channel 4 said it has hundreds of pictures and many other videos.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    I am reading a very interesting news item recently:

    “Sri Lanka to be self sufficient in dairy products by 2016”

    Very interesting. I was thinking we are already having enough cattles in the country!

  • The Mervyn Silva

    Dear Groundeviewers,

    Please not be arguing about channel 4 video. I am getting my own peoples to be analysing whole video and they are giving me this report. Please excuse bad English. My peoples are not like me – or the Dayan. They are not doctors:

    “The peoples in the video are certainly not killed by the gunfire. We are deciding that first and then analysing the video. Then we are coming to the conclusions. Please be remembering what Our Majesty is saying some time ago – our soldiers are going to battle not only with the gun but something else also. This something else is Human Rights Charter. The woundings in the bodies of the peoples in the video are consistent with woundings from Charter, not by gun or bullet or any sharp object.

    Therefore please be resting assured that the peoples in the video are not executed. They are chartered – by the most disciplined army in the Sri Lanka side.”

    By the wayside, if anybody wanting their videos analysed please be sending them to me. If you are wanting I can doctor them too. After all I am doctor also.

    • Dear The Mervyn Silva, this is by far the most compelling analysis of the videos we have read to date! Well done. The Human Rights Charter is indeed a very dangerous weapon, and the blunt force trauma and gunshot injuries in this video may be the result of rapidly injecting civilians with combustible material from the charter at a rate they couldn’t ingest.

  • Belle

    Sarath Fernando,
    I am no authority, but news reports make it clear that it is the Oxford Union that invited the President. If you look at the Oxford Union website, it does seem (going by names) that there are no Sri Lankans in the current standing committee that is empowered to govern the Union.
    http://www.oxford-union.org/members/committee

    Further, only the president of the OU is empowered to decide on topics of debate and to issue invitations to guest speakers. Please see
    http://www.oxford-union.org/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/3074/Definitive_Rules_TT10_3.pdf

    An association of Sri Lankan students could not have issued the invitation because they are not linked to the Oxford Union, except perhaps as individual members. But ordinary members don’t have the power to issue such invitations. It could be that this association invited Rajapaksa to speak, but that would have been at their own association forum, not at that of the OU’s.

    “Thought I’d express my disappointment, since I feel many others perhaps may possibly share similar sentiments, and begin to wonder. Perhaps, I am alone in this.”

    No, you’re not alone. DBSJ is anti-LTTE, and he has the right to hold this perspective. But the problem with his articles is that he blends two very different journalistic genres–that of the news report genre and the editorial/commentary genre. So, he gets some few facts and real information of what happened, and packages it together with his own interpretations and personal opinions and passes the latter of as “news”, as ‘truth’. He says “The President seemed tired but was not downhearted by the debacle he suffered at the hands of the Oxford union.” Really? Is he a mind reader, or some acccredited psychologist to make such a claim? Why could someone not read the president’s demeanour as a determination not to show how devastated he was by the incident?

    He also asks, “But the multi-crore questions posed before tiger and pro-tiger elements in the Diaspora is this – How have the suffering Tamils in Sri Lanka gained by the cancellation of the President’s talk in Oxford? Why are you celebrating it as a victory without any concern for consequences? Is not the need of the hour national reconciliation and ethnic amity?”

    Fair comment, but as journalist, he has no more standing than any other individual person, Sri Lankan or not, to pass off this opinion as ‘truth’. But he claims that authority from the “news” that he has reported. There is nothing in the news that he reports in the article that relates to these questions: what actually happened, who organized the protests, who put pressure on the OU, etc, does not answer the questions of how it will benefit the Tamils. The questions he asks are framed here as rhetorical questions (i.e. where the answers seem to be self-evident, and which thus require no answer). Actually, of course, the answer to these questions are, at this point in time, a matter of opinion, a matter for argument and conjecture. I reckon the British Tamil Forum people would answer the questions quite differently from DBSJ. A REAL journalist would have asked the BTF what they hoped to gain from their action.

    Perhaps in the future, the questions DBSJ asks may be answered more objectively depending on how events pan out for Tamils in Sri Lanka.

    I think DBSJ has good intentions in terms of SL Tamil people’s and Sri Lankan interests, but that doesn’t justify his using his position as journalist to discredit and silence alternative perspectives on these issues. In the name of integrity, he should consider separating his news reportage from his editorializing.

  • eeurekaa

    Cancellations by Oxford Union:
    i.1998 – British ultra-right leader John Tyndall
    ii. 2000 – holocaust denier David Irving
    iii. Euthanasia campaigner Dr.Philip Nitschke
    iv.2010 – President of Sri Lanka(”King ruler” according to Basil Rajapakse)

  • MG

    “So instead I should presume them guilty until proven innocent?”

    Yes. When someone refuses to offer themselves up for investigation, one can only presume guilt until an investigation takes place. This is especially so when the party concerned uses his legal powers as a politician or diplomat to deflect an investigation. The rule of innocence until proven guilty only applies in a court of law. It does not apply in the investigation of crime. If it did, there would be no prosecution of crime.

  • Sarath Fernando

    Thank you Belle – truly appreciate your clarification on the OU issue. I am also relieved to know I am not alone in the disappointment with DBSJ’s select style of journalism – I have at least one more for company!

    I might also add that I tried to post my above concerns in the blog on the link to DBSJ’s article that possibly is filtered by DBSJ himself, unlike most of the articles here that are under the control of GV. Despite three attempts to post in DBSJ’s territory, none made it – I assume that just reflects either an embarrassment or an acknowledgment of ineptness to stand-up in defense of his own writing. Another disappointment, indeed!

  • Mary Tony

    ”Protest Against Oxford Union Cancellation” -Sunday Leader, 5 December 2010

    If the protestors know who and who have been cancelled, will they still protest:

    i.1998 – British ultra-right leader John Tyndall
    ii. 2000 – holocaust denier David Irving
    iii. Euthanasia campaigner Dr.Philip Nitschke
    iv.2010 – President of Sri Lanka(”King ruler” according to Basil Rajapakse)

    Freedom to protest:

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/10/17/an-allergy-to-analysis-and-historical-amnesia-in-sri-lanka/#comments
    Allergy to analysis and historical amnesia in Sri Lanka, Dayan Jayatilleka, 17 October 2010:
    ”. … Dozens of Tamil youth were imprisoned under Emergency for years, for the crime of hoisting black flags against the promulgation of the ’72 Constitution. …”

  • Punitham

    ”As a united country we have a great future.”

    In the last eighteen months we’ve been reading in this site how the six-decades oppression(=humiliation) of the Tamils continues behind a 21C iron curtain(porous to a few journalists who have been bringing us the ground reality).

    WORSENING IMAGE: PRESIDENT HOLDS KEY TO TURNING WORLD OPINION AROUND, Jehan Perera, 5 December 2010:
    ”.The events that occurred during President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s recent visit to the United Kingdom ought to serve as an early warning to the Sri Lankan government. ….. At the height of the war with the LTTE the President answered his critics by promising a political solution based on the existing scheme of devolution of powers in the 13th Amendment “plus one” as he pithily put it. The All Party Representatives Committee that he himself appointed during the war to come up with a mutually acceptable solution to the ethnic conflict has come up with such a formula, which is gathering dust in the President’s cupboard. The key to that cupboard and to turning around international opinion to be favourable to Sri Lanka is with the President. ”

    We don’t need Bell Pottinger, but we need the millions of dollars channelled to it.

  • Travelling Academic

    It was a poor show by OU. I often tell my students to prepare before coming to lectures or a lab. Read what the lecture is going to be about, do some preliminary calculations to see what to expect at the lab etc. If OU committee had behaved to high standards I expect of my undergraduates, they would have done a proper assessment of the risk (of several thousand demonstrators visiting their little town), or calculated the cost at which the war in SL was brought to an end, and not gone ahead with the invitation on pragmatic or moral grounds; or they could have planned to mitigate the risk by proper negotiations with the police and brought in sufficient police strength. Not invite for whatever reason, or negotiate a workable arrangement with the police. Either of these would have been a better alternative to inviting a Head of State (whatever one thinks of MR, his policies and practices, he is a Head of State, is in power because his people voted for him 60-40, and from a country the last time I checked still had good diplomatic relationships with the UK). It was silly to first invite him, publicise the event and then do a last minute “sorry, mate, you can’t speak, we will refund your travel expense.” I think it all reflects badly on OU, for there was no new information about MR or the possibility of large demonstrations against him that was not available at the time the invitation was issued (at these standards of performance, those on its committee will be graduating with a third class I guess), and now it makes MR much stronger amongst extremists — see the photo of him hugging WW.

    Expatriate Tamils running around claiming to have scored a point have nothing to lose, and don’t care, really, about the Tamils left in Sri Lanka whose future depends on building better ground-level relationships with the majority community and political level relationships with whoever they have elected as their leader. Don’t these people waving Tiger flags in London ever learn?

    ( Anyway, just to add well-deserved Sunday humour to all that, see what someone on a short-list of three, awaiting MR’s decision for the possible appointment has to say:
    http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2010/12/05/new04.asp
    Stuff people would do to get a high level appointment these days… poor show of a different kind!)

  • eeurekaa

    Mahinda Rajapakse, Oxford Union, 13 May 2008:
    ”I wish to speak to you on a subject of much interest to my country at the present time. That is the empowerment of rural economy a central theme of my development strategy for Sri Lanka.”

    What was Sri Lanka like at the time?

    Who would have expected him to speak anything but conflict resolution, reconciliation and peace?

    Sustainable development naturally follows all these.

    This time he wanted to speak about his future vision for Sri Lanka ?

    18th Amendment, 2011 Budget, ground reality in the Northeast, ….. speak volumes ………………

    .

  • Davidson

    ”… calculated the cost at which the war in SL was brought to an end, and not gone ahead with the invitation on pragmatic or moral grounds …”

    No. Invitations pushed by small active groups(Oxford Sri Lanka Society has been instrumental in getting the invitation – they have been celebrating Independence Day, Poya Full Moon, etc – googling reveals). Then larger numbers of students protest. Then cancellations.

    Cancellations by Oxford Union:
    i.1998 – British ultra-right leader John Tyndall
    ii. 2000 – holocaust denier David Irving
    iii. Euthanasia campaigner Dr.Philip Nitschke
    iv.2010 – President of Sri Lanka(”King ruler” according to Basil Rajapakse)

  • jansee

    manga:

    The SL regime had a definition of a “humanitarian operation” and another one on “no lives lost”. Would telling civilians to go to designated no-fire zones and then bomb them to pieces fit into “genocide”? You do sound hilarious, don’t you?

    Wijayapala:

    Well, Chagi Gallage wasted no time in popping onto a chartered flight to flee from UK where it is believed that he was being considered to be dragged into the UK courts. That would not consider him as being guilty, just an allegation and he can walk away free if he is proven innocent. Of course, his flight from UK soil suggests otherwise. So, don’t worry, unless you are devoid of understanding how the criminal system works, a person is innocent until proven guilty. I don’t know where you got this idea of Prabhakaran and his court system – I thought the drama unfolded in UK soil and no one is shedding tears for Prabhakaran anyway and you can be rest assured that Mahinda Rajapakse and his brutal regime should tread on carefully when they visit overseas, especially where they can be prosecuted for ALLEGED war crimes.

  • yapa

    It would have been a opportunity for Tamil Diaspora to ideologically defeat Mahinda Rajapaksha at the lecture. They could have used the opportunity to question him and expose him to the whole world, if they had evidence against him. Not acting so indicates either they are incapable of it or their preference for violence or both.

    Thanks!

  • Heshan

    This time he wanted to speak about his future vision for Sri Lanka ?

    He wants to speak about his future vision, but will only let select journalists (with the permission of the MoD) have a glimpse of that vision, as far as the North & East are concerned. All other journalists fall into the category of “international conspiracy to destabilize SL.” GOSL propaganda may fool the people in the South – who have lived and breathed war (or some form of it) for 30 years – but third-party observers (those non Sri Lankans outside of the island) are going to look at the whole picture. And in this regard, the opinion of the Tamil diaspora, with their lobbying power, cannot be discounted.

  • longus

    So, it seems the OU has a tradition of cancellations! Keep it up Oxford!

  • longus

    Groundviews

    Why are you so concerned about ‘Samia’ of Bell-Pottinger (not Pot Bellinger) e-mailing to you? Did you check whether she is in the Face Book of one of your dudes? She must have gone out of her way to do a favour to you! BTW, how else on Earth does she know about your Groundviews blog and its address?

  • Davidson

    Oxford Union invited Sri Lanka Cricket Team in May 2009 !!

    Oxford Sri Lanka Society is a very busy body ?

    http://www.espncricinfo.com/wt202009/content/story/406586.html

  • Davidson

    Arjuna Ranatunga addressed OU in November 2009 !!!!

    Weerawansa, get ready to address OU soon.

  • eeurekaa

    Dear brethren in the South,
    Is the government prepared to spend millions so that nobody will question the trampling of Tamils? There has been ethnic outbidding from 1956 till 2005. This government has cleverly bought over the UNP. Hence there is no Opposition to do ethnic outbidding. Now the government employs Sinhalese and non-Sri Lankans to do PR work to continue to oppress the Tamils in the Northeast??
    When the Tamils try to leave you and go away, you want other governments to send them back so that you can keep trampling them????

  • eeurekaa

    http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2010/12/bell-pottinger-propose-meeting-with.html
    Bell Pottinger propose meeting with moderate Tamil Diaspora

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The Davidson is saying,

    “Arjuna Ranatunga addressed OU in November 2009 !!!!

    Weerawansa, get ready to address OU soon.”

    And don’t you be forgetting the Mervyn!!

  • Belle

    Travelling Academic,

    “Expatriate Tamils running around claiming to have scored a point have nothing to lose, and don’t care, really, about the Tamils left in Sri Lanka whose future depends on building better ground-level relationships with the majority community and political level relationships with whoever they have elected as their leader. Don’t these people waving Tiger flags in London ever learn?”

    Is there only one way to view the protests–as performing LTTE or Eelamist politics? If I had been in UK, I would have joined the protest, and I am not an LTTE supporter nor an Eelamist. And I would have been thinking of the interests of the SL Tamils in choosing to protest. I don’t think the future of SL Tamils depends on building ground-level relationships with the Sinhalese and political level relationships with whoever they elect as their leader, but rather it depends on whether the majority community will ALLOW them to do so. International concern for SL Tamils and respect for their humanity is thus crucial to their fate. (I don’t think the IDP camps would have been dismantled so speedily without international pressure.) Which is why I would have joined the protest–to say that if you cancel on a holocaust denier, you had better also cancel on a suspected war criminal. Because dead Tamils are every bit to be decried as dead Jews.

    Do feel free to point out if I may be misguided in this.

  • eeurekaa

    Belle, thanks for a logical reply.

    Conference on Buddhism and Conflict in Sri Lanka 2001
    Recording, Translating and Interpreting Sri Lankan Chronicle Data By Ven. Prof. Dhammavihari
    http://jbe.gold.ac.uk/10/dhammavihari-sri-lanka-conf.html
    ………This was the beginning of nationalism among the Sinhalese.….. A kind of religio-nationalism, which almost amounted to fanaticism, roused the whole Sinhalese people……….. A non-Buddhist was not regarded as a human being. ……………
    What a catastrophic misinterpretation based on misinformation. It is our conviction that these references have both to be dumped in the garbage bin in the face of historical realities. In our search for a real solution to the problem, the story of the Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka must be re-studied with sanity and sobriety. International interference or pressure from anywhere is by no means the answer. ”

  • Observer

    Sooo ummm it’s ok for the eelamist diaspora to BUY political support through paying lobbyists millions of Dollars through the nose and make large election campaign donations with forcefully collected illegal taxes from their respective communities and other criminal activities but not for the government to hire a PR firm to undo some of that damage? Huh?! Exactly!

    Didn’t you realise that money talks and gets things done? You know it does cuz money gets you influence in the West. So don’t be a hater when someone is making a buck! It’s a free market, and greed is goooood! It drives us harder with that carrot in front of us. There is no god, but man is judged only in the eye of the $$$$$.

    If the eelamist diaspora wants to spend big on lobbyists then it’s their prerogative. Go crazy bananas. Sri Lanka is doing the smart thing by not trying to go head to head with that by counter lobbying and wasting money – although they engage in it a bit. Instead SL is making a best effort to show the reasonable people that it aint so bad as “they” put it out to be rather than bribing!

    Also this is PR – Not Advertising. There is a difference. Advertising is when you gloss over a pile of crap. PR is about managing relationships.

    So stop crying…..please! It’s all fair game… if you want to play the game 😉 The game called life we all play from the day we’re born to the day we die does not have rules if you have the $$$$$. Don’t be so naive…

  • Observer

    belle/Sarath, DBSJ is a blogger isn’t he? He may write to papers and work as a journalist as well but far as his web site goes – it’s a straight blog. Hey it’s even hosted on Blogspot – I think. What makes blogs interesting is the writer’s unique styles and personal opinions as well as scoops. I mean look at the way groundviews leans – but that’s their direction, aim and agenda – fair enough. Far as I understand the Internet, comments, opinions, and responding to comments are all normal traits of blogging on the interwebs 🙂

  • eeurekaa

    Bell Pottinger is being paid by the Tamils !!

  • Vino Gamage
  • Sarath Fernando

    Dear Observer,

    Your observation no doubt has validity, to the extent that the diversity of options available in published media now had broadened the grey-band, giving so much latitude to play games, wearing both “caps”. Unfortunately, I am afraid the uninitiated (includes me, of course) can be duped to varying degrees by this. I would certainly avoid getting into a no-end-in-sight argument to establish the rights and wrongs in what an established journalist can/cannot or should/should not do wearing different caps – there is no one single answer.

    However, I am hoping you have no disagreement with the observation I made, namely,

    “It will be disingenuous if I were to say such exclusive interest and seeming outrage on just this one issue of MR’s discomfort, while ignoring the other three of likely significantly greater gravity to the country’s image, does considerably downgrade the respect and credibility one would place on the independence of such journalists and political observers.

    Thought I’d express my disappointment, since I feel many others perhaps may possibly share similar sentiments, and begin to wonder. Perhaps, I am alone in this.” I repeat ” Perhaps, I am alone in this,” just in case.

    I was indeed relieved that at least one shared my sentiment. You obviously don’t, and I fully understand –you are remarkably well informed and creditably astute enough to differentiate the blog-legal comments from the untainted truth in news in the deliveries of these blogger-journalists – good for you.

    Dear Belle – just wanted to let you know from your posting here, I see such commonality in sentiments that we share – thank you for the sensibility and comfort you provide, even if many/most seem not to recognize or appreciate your fairness in thought. That takes a lot of maturity far beyond the pettiness, arrogance and rupee-greed of the gifted few, sans humanity and fairness concerns.

  • dingiri

    I find Dushy Ranatunge, Tissaranee Gunesekere’s and DBSJ’s journalistic trajectories very interesting. DBSJ started in the Pro-LTTE camp, fell out with them, was beaten up, still wrote for the cause.. but lately seems to be cozying up with the Rajapakses. Perhaps he sees it is the only way to get something for the Tamils. If this is ineed so it is also very sad that they feel they have been reduced to this plight and feel they have to grovel before Rakapakse in order to get their grievances addressed.

    Tissaranee started in the anti-LTTE camp warning that the LTTE was using the ceasefire to move men and weapons into position, readying themselves for the war they were about to reigninte. Since then she has been moving steadily left and is now the most strident critic of Rajapakse and neo-con/right-wing Sri Lanka.

    DBSJ once wrote a story about a Mannar-Vavunia bus that hit a landmine quoting [the] Mannar Women for Human Rights which placed the blame squarely on the Army even claiming that the Army fired into the bus after it hit the landmine and that it was the Army’s retaliation for a previous bus attack by the LTTE. The article was quite shocking and left the reader (including myself) outraged at the army behaviour. A few weeks later I read a report on the same incident by the UTHR-Jaffna who after meeting with some of the victims published a report that gave a very different story. The bus triggered an LTTE IED placed close to an army checkpoint. In the initial chaos the army started firing but all the fire was directed at the jungle on both sides of the road in the belief that they were under LTTE attack. No fire hit the bus and the passengers were later rescued and taken to hospital by the same soldiers however there was a delay of some 45 mins as the soldiers were scared to leave their lines in the belief that the whole thing was an LTTE ambush. Later, the passengers even heard the soldiers being berated by an officer for not comming to the assistance of the passengers.

    I posted a polite coment on DBSJ’s blog asking DBSJ what he thought of the UTHR report which seemed to contradict everything he said in his article. But he never posted the comment on the blog which I thought was quite telling. I think DBSJ ultimately means well but sometimes gets it wrong (after all he has to rely on Sri Lankan sources) but it would have been comforting to have known that he could admit it when he got a story so terribly wrong.

  • Heshan

    Observer,

    DBSJ is a pseudo-journalist at best. I know this from personal experience – he posts an article and then uses the comments section to criticize readers he doesn’t agree with him. One time, I posted a comment he did not like. His response was to post disparaging comments, using my blog handle, under the same comments section for that article. Third-rate journalism at its best! Also, he acts as if he has secret sources reporting to him in real-time from all corners of the island. In fact, most of his articles are not even original, they are [taken] off the net, if you know what I mean. As for his “secret sources”, I doubt they are giving him anything really substantial; the major content of his “sweeping revelations” consists of what he has mixed and matched from other articles, albeit with a new (unsubstantiated) twist, here and there.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    Dear the Groundviews,

    Thank you for your commentings. If you are also not watching out you can be getting chartered also! I am saying this with very much blunt force.

  • Travelling Academic

    @Belle
    “Is there only one way to view the protests–as performing LTTE or Eelamist politics?”

    For me, yes.

    “I don’t think the future of SL Tamils depends on building ground-level relationships with the Sinhalese and political level relationships with […] International concern for SL Tamils and respect for their humanity is thus crucial to their fate.”

    Of course you are entitled to your guesses, but remember that this view — that the international community will come in and protect the Tamils — is a hypothesis that has been tested and proved wrong. The first person to put this argument to me was a chap by the name Kugan (Ponnamman), at a TULF meeting at Nallur (1977). The speeches there included disgusting comments about drinking blood of the Sinhalese and making slippers from their skins. I said to my school mates that this racist approach was wrong, and was not going to make life better for us Tamils. Kugan punched me and said all that was needed was to start a war, get 100000 Tamil refugees across the Palk Strait, and India will walk in and save the Tamils, teaching the Sinhalese a lesson in the process. (Apparently this is what had happened in Bangladesh.) I ran away without giving him a chance to beat me up. (Kugan later joined the LTTE and was killed in a premature explosion while trying to drive a water tank converted into a bomb through the Navatkuli army camp, if I am informed correct). Yes he managed to send 100000 refugees, yes he got India to intervene… tell me, are the Tamils today in a better shape than they were in 1977 — in terms of their politics, their economics, their culture, their education, their security, their health? You claim that it was international pressure that forced the government to release IDPs from camps — there certainly could have been an element of it, but I don’t think it was significant. Your guess vs my guess.

    Anyway, the bottom line is this: Tiger flag waving Tamil politics weakens the progressives amongst the Sinhalese and strengthens the racists/chauvinists. The consequence of this is no good for anyone in Sri Lanka, particularly the Tamils. So, don’t wave Tiger flags and don’t go anywhere near a gathering of irresponsible idiots doing it. Simple.

  • indonicus

    Travelling Academic said,

    “Anyway, the bottom line is this: Tiger flag waving Tamil politics weakens the progressives amongst the Sinhalese and strengthens the racists/chauvinists. The consequence of this is no good for anyone in Sri Lanka, particularly the Tamils.”

    Well said!

    There is no liberation for the Sinhalese without liberation for the Tamils and not liberation for the Tamils without liberation for the Sinhalese. We cannot win our wars separately, and in foreign lands. Simple.

  • Belle

    Observer,

    You may wish to note that the article “Mahinda denied free speech by Oxford Union” did not only appear in DBSJ’s blog but was also posted in “Transcurrents”. In the link I provide below, DBSJ himself differentiates from what is posted in his blog and what appears in “Transcurrents”. He says that he set up “Transcurrents” as “web journalism”, which he says is a different kind of medium from his blog. Yet, many of his blog posts appear on this “web journalism” site too. I think DBSJ himself has problems differentiating between his self as journalist and his identity as a private person with his own views on issues. What more the people who read him! Many of his blog readers receive his ‘blog posts’ as journalistic reports, asking him questions about what and how things happened. They don’t read him as a blogger.
    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/5

  • Vino Gamage

    Indonicus
    Thanks for :
    ”There is no liberation for the Sinhalese without liberation for the Tamils and not liberation for the Tamils without liberation for the Sinhalese. We cannot win our wars separately, and in foreign lands.”

  • indonicus

    Vino,

    Your welcome. I hope our Singala and Tamil bertheren will see it that way too

  • Belle

    Sarath Fernando,
    Thank you for your kind comments! There’s something about this bashing of Tiger flag waving protesters that makes me uncomfortable.Could it be a class issue among Tamils in the diaspora? I may not agree with their politics, but I’m not comfortable with looking down on them, suspecting their motives and accusing them of not caring for Tamils back home. In this particular instance, I’m quite happy with their organizing of the protests. What are the progressives doing that we’re supposed to approve only of them?

  • wijayapala

    Travelling Academic, excellent answer to Belle and thank you for sharing your unfortunate experiences in the 1970s with Kugan and the dominant political mentality among the Tamils. Sadly there was a very similar dynamic occurring among the Sinhalese esp after JR was elected in 1977.

    To clarify, I think the Bangladesh analogy was strong among Tamil youth in the 1970s and even had traction among a number of militant groups in the 80s. But the LTTE and Prabakaran in particular did not adhere to this line. He saw international intervention as useful to get him out of a pickle but in the long run saw it as an obstacle. This contradictory thinking explains why he went to war against the Indians who saved the LTTE in 1987, and why he expected India to save him again in 2009.

    This very inconsistent mentality has wreaked disaster for the Tamils- expecting outside help without following outside norms- but it is quite prevalent for the Sinhalese too. One minute we will have a mass demonstration against the UK High Commission, the next we will send the President to the UK to give a speech! The Sinhalese today are in a somewhat similar position to the Tamils, or rather the pro-LTTE Tamils in 2002, a bit too puffed up with themselves and not really thinking in the long-term.

  • Observer

    belle, ok “Transcurrents” is “web journalism”. “groundviews” is “citizen journalism”.. but these tags are irrelevant in today’s new media paradigm. Both these sites and plenty of other news/blog/website whatever you wish to call it does not confirm to the old concepts of what journalism and media was considered as. I see ample opinion pieces and even just down right rants and aggro pieces on both these web sites and plenty of other blog/news/web sites… including leading international news papers who more and more have blog components. Do you read the Huffpost? Do you consider writers there as reporters or journalist in the purest form? Last time I checked transcurrents also had many contributors and not only that it felt to me that it was a news aggregator as well. We already have multiple classifications…

    I feel both you and Sarath are trying to grapple with the tectonic shifts in today’s media. I feel you guys are old skool but hey I may be wrong… but that’s how you come across. You’re not alone, lot of old skool “journalists” are struggling to sell their papers today or just to stay employed.

    You, me, DBSJ we’re all journalists. Because we all have access to a publishing medium – the mother of it all – the Internet. If we know a subject well enough and can convince readers that we’re authoritative then we can easily gather an audience and a journalist is born. No one ever writes or reports with complete objectivity – you can only get close. We also as the news readers filter through all the opinions and come to our own conclusion. At least that’s how I always approached the press. Anyway, I can keep explaining this, but end of the day you either get it or don’t. Things aint the way it used to be. So these arguments over DBSJ’s leanings are futile and irrelevant imho. You either agree with him or not, based on the facts he presents. Like every other news story or report you consume – at least the way it’s supposed to be consumed.

    Also the present/future is we are/will be the creator and consumer of our own news. Thanks to news aggregators we filter, chose and read what we want to and what we find interesting. If we disagree we challenge and correct the news. Like when DBSJ responds to his comments or me act like a troll here.. lol. It’s not what the editor of the paper thinks we should read when we used to pick up the paper. And thanks to indexing and search capabilities we can dig out the most obscure reporting. We are our own editor! My editorial filter says DBSJ is OK to read! It’s for no one else to tell me!

  • Observer

    “There is no liberation for the Sinhalese without liberation for the Tamils and not liberation for the Tamils without liberation for the Sinhalese. We cannot win our wars separately, and in foreign lands. Simple.”

    Wise words… Absolutely agree!!

  • NAK

    Jansee and the rest who are splitting hairs to bring down Mahinda and the rest at a war crimes tribunal, read the Travelling Academics reply to Belle and the following comment by Indonicus, That’s whats the need of the hour,you are blinded with rage and hatred you don’t see whats in front of your eyes. Remember one thing you need to have a populace to receive the dream eealam when ever you achieve it. Now the main task is to protect and nurture that populace with out whom your efforts for homeland come to naught.

  • veedhur

    Ditto to Vino Gamage

    Indonicus

    Thanks for :
    ”There is no liberation for the Sinhalese without liberation for the Tamils and not liberation for the Tamils without liberation for the Sinhalese. We cannot win our wars separately, and in foreign lands.”

  • Agnos

    Travelling Academic,

    “… weakens the progressives amongst the Sinhalese and strengthens the racists/chauvinists.”

    I have a hard time understanding who those progressives are… Vasudeva Nanayakkara? Tissa Vitharana? G.L. Peiris? Dayan Jayatilleka? These putative progressives have become part of the current mafia regime and are focused only on whitewashing its crimes.

    Tisaranee Gunasekara at the moment takes a very progressive position. But such people are very few and often shunned by the majority. Moreover, even Tisaranee was with DJ at the Premadasa Centre, and it is hard for me to take anyone associated with him seriously, given all the lawlessness and murderous violence I witnessed during his reign.

  • Travelling Academic

    @Belle
    No. An academic being disgusted by Tiger flag waving is not a class thing. One of the leading flag waver I saw on TV in April 2009 is a consultant at a leading UK hospital, the GTF guy I know is a big businessman. There are only two classes here — those who think it is OK to brutally kill large numbers of Tamils whose interests they were claiming to represent, kids as cannon fodder and elderly civilians as shields, and those who don’t! ??????? ????????? ??????? ??? ?????????? type two class classification.

    @Agnos
    It is not for me to give you a list of Sinhala progressives. You go and find them. Look around to see how many Sinhala friends you have? That may be a good start. Me, I am surrounded by tons of progressive people amongst the Sinhalese — the guy who walked 50 km to track down his Tamil neighbour who went missing after the attack on the Central Bank, the professor who used to wait at Kandy police station for hours to get his arrested Tamil students released, the guy who is organising a scientific workshop in Jaffna, and the guy who is helping me build a software to automatically translate between Tamil and English, all happen to be Sinhalese. On my day to day interaction with them I don’t think of them as Sinhalese and myself as Tamil. They don’t particularly think like that either. The future I think we should seek is one in which people like the ones I describe above have a greater say in the politics of Sri Lanka. Not the Weerawansas whose power base gets enhanced by these Tiger flag wavers. Get it?

    Bye for now.

  • saman

    belle why didnt you prtest in front the tamilselvam and karuna during CFA meetings held in norway and Thailand for LTTE kiiling the Nellean and all?
    you should have done that for the greater good of the tamils in Sri Lanka.

  • rajivmw

    Dear Travelling Academic & Indonicus,

    May I join Vinod Gamage, Observer, NAK, Wijeyapala and the rest in thanking both of you for bringing some marvellous light and clarity to this otherwise dreary and depressing forum, where trading bitterness, splitting hairs and issuing threats seem to have become the order of the day. People like you bring hope to those of us who have staked our future in this country.

    Travelling Academic, at the risk of sounding obsequious, I would add the editor of groundviews to your inspiring list of Sinhalese progressives. More power to all of you.

  • Belle

    Travelling Academic,

    So the leading consultant in a UK hospital and the big businessman you mentioned are both unable to make ethical decisions, unlike yourself? They simply belong to the class that thinks it’s okay to kill people and children? I doubt that it’s that simple. People’s morality extends through a wide spectrum, that’s as wide as one’s imagination. I’ve met some academics who are pro-LTTE, but they’re not bloodthirsty. They simply want to take strong (non-violent) action to put pressure on the regime. I don’t think there were many Kugans in the recent London protests. If there had been, there would have been violence. The symbolic value of carrying a dead Tigers flag is surely different from waving the flag of live Tigers.

    Having said that, I agree with you that the future we should aim for is one where those who prize inter-ethnic amity should be the ones with the greater say in the politics of the country. But how will this be achieved? Is there a game plan? Because as things stand now, hell will freeze over before this happens. I also hope that such a group will not only prize the relations between each other but also strive to bring others (such as Tiger flag wavers) into their fold rather than demonize and ostracize them.

  • Belle

    Saman,
    Why don’t you take a one-way trip to Norway? Even Thailand will do. I’m sure that will be for the greater good of all the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

  • Belle

    Observer,
    Take a good look at Huffington Post. It seems to make it a point to tag Huff Post “reports” as opposed to blog and feature posts. I wonder why if they’re all the same thing, as you seem to claim.

    It’s easy to understand why you can’t tell the difference between professional journalism and amateur journalism. They don’t have much real journalism in Sri Lanka, do they? There, the real ones seem to be a dying breed.

    Blogging is not journalism. And contrary to what you said, the ‘old school’ journalism is not dead. It’s because it is very much around, with its news sourcing and news gathering skills intact, that the lay person like you and me can actually blog and have opinions.

    You may not be able to tell the difference between blogging and journalism but I can because I was a trained journalist. Yes, you actually have to go to school to learn how to be a news reporter.

  • Davidson

    We can’t follow International Law and Buddhist precepts
    We can follow Bell Pottinger and Oxford Sri Lanka Society

  • Agnos

    Travelling Academic,

    “Me, I am surrounded by tons of progressive people amongst the Sinhalese.”

     It seems to me that you are confusing personal acts of kindness and social and professional courtesies with being progressive. I know many people who are like the people you cite, among both pro-LTTE Tamils and hardline Sinhala nationalists.  Do you think that the people who are in your circle can have any serious impact on the political culture of Sri Lanka?  Are they prepared to raise their voices for justice for all communities and work at the grassroots level? Are they prepared to shun all politicians who have been tainted by their involvement in grave crimes, whether in the war against the JVP or the LTTE?

    The truth is that real progressives are such a small percentage of the population; for the vast majority, the abiding myths that animate their lives are fundamentally incompatible with any notions of progressivism.  That somehow a few people carrying LTTE flags in London would weaken the progressives is a silly notion; had there been   real progressives in sufficient strength for any tangible change, such change would have occurred a long time ago.  For the ‘progressives’ in  your circle to catalyze any meaningful change would require so long—perhaps 100 years—as to be meaningless. They –and you–can try, but don’t expect people to believe in it.

  • Agnos

    Travelling Academic,
    “Me, I am surrounded by tons of progressive people amongst the Sinhalese.”

    It seems to me that you are confusing personal acts of kindness and social and professional courtesies with being progressive. I know many people who are like the people you cite, among both pro-LTTE Tamils and hardline Sinhalese nationalists. Do you think that the people who are in your circle can have any serious impact on the political culture of Sri Lanka? Are they prepared to raise their voices for justice for all communities and work at the grassroots level? Are they prepared to shun all politicians who have been tainted by their involvement in grave crimes, whether in the war against the JVP or the LTTE?

    The truth is that real progressives are such a small percentage of the population; for the vast majority, the abiding myths that animate their lives are fundamentally incompatible with any notions of progressivism. That somehow a few people carrying LTTE flags in London would weaken the progressives is a silly notion; had there been real progressives in sufficient strength for any tangible change, such change would have occurred a long time ago. For the ‘progressives’ in your circle to catalyze any real change would require so much time—perhaps 100 years—as to be meaningless. They –and you–can try, but don’t expect people to believe in it.

  • SD

    Agnos,

    RE: “For the ‘progressives’ in your circle to catalyze any real change would require so much time—perhaps 100 years—as to be meaningless. They –and you–can try, but don’t expect people to believe in it.”

    So while your version of “doers” ended up dead in Nanthikadaal (dragging along thousands of innocent people with them) or eating big macs in Westminster square, Travelling Academic’s version of “doers” seem to have got Tamil instituted as a national language, eked out an apology from CBK and did all that while dragging the dead-weight of your “doers”, among other things. And you expect us to believe you?

  • Travelling Academic

    @agnos, @belle
    Tamil nationalism in the form of armed rebellion was offered as a solution to the political problems of the Tamils in 1977, a solution I didn’t agree with then. Such a course was pursued over 30 years and has miserably failed. It took a lot longer than I predicted, but it did eventually fail. And it failed at enormous cost to the Tamil people when the bulldozers moved in for the final kill.

    The question we should ask is, what next? My own view, which is just the same as it was in 1977, is that we should seek to build better relationships across the ethnic divide at the ground level, and build better working relationships with whoever the Sinhala people elect as their government, at the political level. To me this is obvious, and I am saddened by the views you take (Agnos: show me the progressives, there aren’t any; Belle: show me the game plan, accommodate the flag wavers).

    I, on the other hand, think peace should begin with me (not the other guy).

    I want to ask what signals should we be sending from the Tamil side, the diaspora in particular, to develop a better understanding and to build stronger bridges. I don’t at all believe that signal is in waving the Tiger flag (with picture of guns, and claiming ownership of half the land-mass and two thirds of the coastline). Nor it is in the ideologically bankrupt TNA shouting against the possible appointment of a Sinhala person as Vice Chancellor of the Eastern University.

    These (the flag and TNA slogans) are the old tools of our Tamil politics. These are the failed tools of our Tamil politics.

    Please, let us grow up a little and think afresh, and a wee bit outside the box, in the interest of those who suffered, and continue to suffer, in Vanni.

  • Humanist

    Thank you Travelling Academic, Indonicus, Veedhur, Vino and several others for emphasizing what really matters. It is heartening to see such a number of people here expressing this common understanding, even though we might be a minority in terms of the big picture.

    I think this whole Oxford incident, including the involvment of Bell Pottinger, is a total farce and shows the lack of priorities in the country’s affairs. The Tiger flag waving people were simply part of that sorry farce. The entire farce did not help anyone move towards any kind of peace and reconciliation or liberty. To think so would be a delusion.

    I consider myelf a “progressive enough” (whatever that might mean to Belle) Sri Lankan (of varied ethnicty as everyone in Sri Lanka ultimately is, whether they care to admit or not). I certainly have no sympathy for flag waving demonstrators or those who condone violence of any kind in the name of liberation. I admit I did not think so in my 20s, thanks to my youthful arrogance and stupidity. But we have learnt nothing from the mistakes of our and others’ histories if we keep believing and advocating these misguided notions.

    For me a progressive human being is someone who can recognize another person’s humanity and treat him/her with respect. All those people who actually act selflessly in times of crisis or conflict like the ones that Travelling Academic has mentioned, are in my book, far more progressive and liberated, than those who shout around holding placards. In terms of a movement, it is the difference between having a Dalai Lama or a Prabhakaran, as a leader.

    By the way, thanks to the Mervyn Silva too – s/he makes his/her points in a much more colourful and entertaining way, than I do…

  • saman

    belle -why dont you hold your breath this VP come home to roost?

  • longus

    Yes, I too agree with Humanist and The Trav.Academic. The reconcilliation has to take place here in Sri Lanka, and not in any other country where the Tamil diaspora lives and demonstrates. True, they can demonstrate, but what do the Sinhalese think when they see these pictures on their tvs in Sri Lanka? “These foreign Tigers are still at war with Sri Lanka”. “This is what happenes if you give any form of devolution to them”.”All Tamils support the Tigers”.

    Maybe what they think is true as well! (going by what is written here!)

  • Belle

    Travelling Academic,
    Why are you saddened by my asking for your game plan? As you yourself admit, you didn’t agree with the militancy, but it carried on anyway for 30 years. Haven’t you learned then that an alternative politics has to be effective? That’s why I asked for the game plan. The race-crossing people that you talk about are a minority. I hope you have a plan to make them more of a majority, because otherwise you won’t have the political pull to make any effective changes; maybe just a dribble of good here and there, which will then by rapidly co-opted by the nationalists of whatever race, to suit their own interests. People working by themselves won’t do any good–all it will do is salve their conscience and give them nice, cozy, superior feelings about themselves, and maybe even get some recognition from those in power. That’s the bourgeois way.

    I continue to think this is a class issue. The leaders may be highly educated, but the throngs of supporters among the flag wavers are coming from the less-privileged classes. Maybe the reason at least some of them perform this Tamil nationalist politics is due to their inability to do things like creating software to translate Tamil and English, like you do.

    Although I agree in principle with making inter-ethnic liaisons, I draw the line at your saying that we have to work with whoever the Sinhalese people elect into power. If those people are Sinhalese nationalists or those who appeal to those sentiments, then your way entails ignoring issues of ethics, of equal rights and opportunities, and of cultural rights. You say Tamil nationalism is an old tool. Yes. But I hope you aren’t offering assimilation in its place, a Sinhalization. Yes, it’s wrong for Tamils to demand too much land and coastline? But does that make it right to give them none?

  • Belle

    What do I mean by being “progressive”? My profile of a progressive person is one who does not think s/he has approached the limit of all knowledge, that s/he has found the truth, seen the light for all time, and that everyone else is wrong. For me, a progressive is one who is constantly vigilant about his/her own privileges and is able to get outside of themselves to see how these privileges colour his/her perspective of the world. A progressive should be able to see how his/her actions could get caught in a political trap. My idea of a progressive person is one with compassion and a determination to understand other people rather than pass quick judgement on them, especially on those who lack his/her privileges. I don’t understand the Tiger waving crowd–but I do think there is something there that we need to understand about them, so that we can find a way to approach them and draw them into our fold. I don’t think violence is the answer. But then again, I do see that sometimes signifiers clash. A person may be holding a Tiger flag or demonstrating under it or near it, but his/her intent and his/her action may be anything but violent. It could well even be that s/he disregards the symbolism of flags and has come along just to, well…stand up for something s/he believes. And I do think that in this particular episode of the Oxford Union incident, the protestors sent a necessary message. They were also merely demonstrating–a perfectly legal activity and they were well within their rights to do so.

    Also, progressives are not people who think something is the right thing to do because it panders to the fears of the dominant group and feeds their ignorance (Re: Longus here with “What will the Sinhalese think when they these pictures on their tvs in Sri Lanka? ‘These foreign Tigers are still at war with Sri Lanka’. ‘This is what happens if you give any form of devolution to them’. ‘All Tamils support the Tigers.'”)

    The Tigers are dead. A picture of a gun is not a real gun! Nobody goes around waving images of guns if they had real guns. That’s why the Tiger flag has become so highly visible now precisely at the moment of the death of the LTTE and the capture of their arms. There’s no possibility of Tamil violence now–that’s what these Tiger flags say to me. I wonder why people here want to deliberately blind themselves to this obvious fact. There’s going to be violence from Tamils in the diaspora with China so deeply embedded in Sri Lanka? Give me a break from all this stupid, stupid hysteria! Is building up the rhetoric and Sinhalese fear of violence from Tamils a strategy to continue justifying disenfranchising SL Tamils who are now a captured people, captured by their own fellow citizens?

    As for the selflessness of individual actions such as Travelling Academic’s and that of his collaboraters, it strikes me that creating software to translate Tamil and English would be a good thing to put on an academic’s CV.

  • Heshan

    What Humanist, Indonicus, and Travelling Academic fail to understand is that Tamils cannot protest in Sri Lanka. If the retired Army commander was jailed for protesting, what chance does an ordinary citizen stand? On the other hand, Tamils can certainly protest in London. That is exactly what they did… they made the Tamil voice heard, whether or not you agree with the means of expression. Whoever countered G.L. Peiris by saying, “what about freedom of expression in SL”, when he complained about the President being blocked from his speech, was right on the money.

  • Travelling Academic

    @belle
    “I draw the line at your saying that we have to work with whoever the Sinhalese people elect into power”

    Not very original — this is precisely what the TULF told Kailasapathy when he created the Jaffna University by working WITH the elected government of the Sinhala people (and one can make a long list of criticisms about how evil that government was: it came to power promising two kilograms of rice upon victory, had all the Sinhala nationalist baggage from SWRD’s times, its police force beat up and tortured suspects immediately upon arrest, and it had blood in its hands from the brutal way in which it crushed the first JVP rebellion). Still, the University in Jaffna was created by WORKING WITH that government, making the case for expanding higher education in Sri Lanka for the benefit of ALL communities. That institution has, over the years, done enormous good to the education of the Tamil people. But at its opening ceremony, I saw Tamil nationalists waving black flags — the Tiger flag was not in mass production then — at Mrs B. Do you know what their complaint was? If you start a university, Sinhalese fellows will come and settle in Jaffna! What jerks?

    (Allow me please a slight distraction here — the Jaffna farmers, I remember, loved Mrs B because her protectionist economic policies helped the rural producers of tobacco and vegetables; and when Athulathmudali once wanted to teach the Tamil fellows a lesson for blowing bombs in Colombo, he punished the Jaffna man by flooding the market with large amounts of imported onions and chilies. Remember that? Those people had a good life, acts of war invited a response that hurt them.)

    Kailasapathy, one of the finest intellectuals our community ever produced, himself said to me 30 years ago, “it is cooperative politics that will achieve anything tangible for our people, the confrontational path of the TULF will bring us utter disaster.” Wise words, don’t you think, Belle? Tell me, I ask again, are our people in a better shape than what they were all those years ago — politically, economically, culturally, in health, in education? What exactly has the Tiger flag delivered in 30 years, other than establishing this: “the right to be cruel to ordinary Tamil people is not the exclusive right of the racists amongst the Sinhalese — we Tamils need a share in it, and hey presto, we can do a bloody good job of it too”?

    You say: “continue to think this is a class issue. The leaders may be highly educated, but the throngs of supporters among the flag wavers are coming from the less-privileged classes.”

    Rubbish. The flag-wavers — Grantham hospital consultant, Tooting High Street businessman or unemployed — are irresponsible people. Simple. If you listen to their slogan (there is a video on youtube of the most recent demonstration in Switzerland) you will find that they want to “beat up and chase away every Sinhalese who comes to Europe!” Their attitude is no different from the “we will drink their blood” attitude I saw at the TULF meeting I was at all those years ago.

    I draw much comfort from the fact that the total number of idiots on that Switzerland video is just 20! If you want to join them and make it 21, go ahead.

    I think I have said enough – good bye!

  • Humanist

    Heshan: “Tamils cannot protest in Sri Lanka.”

    Can Sinhalese or Muslims protest in Sri Lanka, either? The way anyone can protest in Sri Lanka is if we work across ethnic divides to build a critical mass of people towards change. Do Tiger flag waving demonstrators help to bridge those ethnic divides? Obviously not. However, small acts of courage, kindness, compassion, understanding, cooperation and collaboration do go a long way towards building peace.

    From my own experience, it is these people mentioned by the Travelling Academic who do not seek glory and it is their acts that go unacknowledged. They are the ones who question the norms, beliefs and injustices of their societies and transcend boundaries by their concrete acts. Not the self-satisfied, all-knowing, progressive intellectuals who wave placards and think they are the saviours of the downtrodden… uhm, the less-privileged classes.

  • eeurekaa

    Folks
    Never-ending argument for those who are NOT in the Northeast suffering summerised in:
    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/09/23/submissions-before-lessons-learnt-reconciliation-committee-llrc-by-chandra-jayaratne/

    Who will ‘bell the cat’ and start opposing the oppression in the Northeast?

    Stop following Bill Pottinger and Oxford Sri Lanka Society
    Start following International Law and Buddhist precepts

    Stop talking about those who fled the Northeast
    Start talking about those who remain trapped in the Northeast

    Stop preventing aid agents put a roof over their heads
    Start preventing all forms of lawlessness

    Stop beating the 60-yr effect
    Start beating the 60-yr cause

    Stop pumping in carbon dioxide
    Start pumping in oxygen

    Stop oppressing behind curtain
    Start opening the hearts

    Stop the words
    Start the action

    Please please please ……….

  • Belle

    Travelling Academic,
    What I note is that you need to see me as a Tiger flag waving Tamil nationalist and Eelamist in order to make sense of what I said. Kailasapathy’s words, which you quote, shows that he was aware of inter-ethnic collaboration as a strategy, but his goal was to achieve something tangible for “our people” (i.e. he didn’t get carried away by the means to forget the ends). He also condemns the confrontational “path” of TULF, not the people associated with it.

  • SD

    Dear Belle, Travelling Academic and Humanist,

    If I may make an observation, hopefully to make the discussion progress.

    Belle, In my understanding, the fact that you put “our people” in scare quotes belies the fact that at the heart of the issue, your real concern is about the fate of “our people” vs “not our people”. In other words, you worry about our individual destinies as ethnicities, independent of our common destiny as Sri Lankans.

    I’m not trying to argue for or against that view, but I don’t think there can be a common dialogue with either Travelling Academic or Humanist unless all of you address that root issue – what is the primary concern?

    Both Travelling academic and Humanist seem to be concerned, at least in my understanding, about ethnic reconciliation and amity with equality for all, even if Tamil has no real dominance in Sri Lankan society. Please free to correct me if I’m wrong.

    Your concern, at least in my understanding, is that, should such a day comes to pass, it will spell the doom and destruction of Tamil culture which will be steamrollered by the majority Sinhala culture, and which should therefore be prevented by some enforced means.

    I feel that unless that basic issue is clarified, there’s unlikely to be a meeting of minds.

  • Travelling Academic

    @belle
    “quote, shows that he was aware of inter-ethnic collaboration as a strategy, but his goal was to achieve something tangible for “our people” (i.e. he didn’t get carried away by the means to forget the ends).”

    You are reading too much into the quote.

  • Belle

    Travelling Academic,
    I’m not reading too much into the quote. I should know. Reading is my area of expertise.

  • Belle

    SD,
    I live and work with and consider as my best friends, people hailing from at least three other civilizations than mine. On some days, it’s more. On a daily basis, I often use three languages. But my relationships are with my equals. I have no problems with inter-ethnic collaboration for the greater good of the nation, provided that the nation prizes integration of its cultural pluralities rather than assimilation of the many into the dominant culture, and provided that it respects its minorities. I am aware that inter-ethnic collaboration can only too easily become an alibi for neglecting minority cultures and people.

    As E M Forster said in “A Passage to India,” true friendship across cultures is not possible except in a situation of equality.

  • manga

    ”I can talk about my future vision”

    In 2006/7/8 you have been talking about ”maximum devolution of power”. Then you appointed APRC which had more than 100 sittings and then they gave you a report. Can we have a look at the report please?

    What has been happening in the last eighteen months in the Northeast has been talking for you. Is there a different vision?

  • Heshan

    Humanist,

    You are correct in that the Leftist movement is basically dead in S. Lanka. But even if this is the case, you have to concede that the Tamils are the ones who *have* suffered and continue to suffer the brunt of State-sponsored discrimination. As long as Sinhalese keep silent, nothing will happen to them. Even if Tamils are silent, however, they still face discrimination. It is the Tamils’ land that is being appropriated for high-security zones. Similarly, the emergency regulations and PTA are used to discriminate mostly against Tamils, not Sinhalese. In simple terms, the Tamils are trapped. At this stage, they have no way out, short of international awareness. That’s why I say the UK Tamil protest was justified.

  • wijayapala

    Belle,

    I’m not reading too much into the quote. I should know. Reading is my area of expertise.

    In that case, would it be too much to ask to read the rest of TA’s post and respond to his points as opposed to fixating on a particular quote?

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,
    It seems to have escaped your attention that TA indicated in his penultimate post that he didn’t want to engage with me any further. Hence, I kept my responses short. One has to respect other people’s preferences, doesn’t one?

    You may also want to note that TA only selectively engages with my comments. But I, on the other hand, must respond to everything he says? Is discrimination so much a part of Sri Lankan ethos that you can’t even see anymore when you treat people inequitably?

    This is how SD is so different from you. Unfortunately, there are few SDs in this forum, people who welcome and respect different voices even when they disagree.

  • Agnos

     SD, 

    You talk about my ‘version of doers’ without understanding what I am driving at..  I am simply saying that those who think that only external pressure can work to change things in SL for the Tamil people have valid reasons to think so.

     “have got Tamil instituted as a national language, eked out an apology from CBK.”

     I see. So, Tamils should be content with getting some token recognition for their language and an apology for State complicity in the murders of a few thousand people in July 1983.  Never mind that there has never been a single prosecution of anyone for those crimes.  Never mind that the Sri Lankan government committed mass slaughter of thousands of innocent Tamils in the Vanni– an event akin to Hiroshima given the small Tamil population, which  has fully eclipsed July 1983 in the Tamil consciousness. 

    Of course, we know that the LTTE contributed to it by forcing the people to stay with it, and committed its own atrocities by shooting those who sought to escape. But Sri Lanka has got progressives so exceptional that they want Tamils to be quiet about the scorched earth mass slaughter by their government; even after it has become abundantly clear that the CH4 video is not a fake and just the tip of the iceberg, these “progressives” cannot bring themselves to condemn the regime that seeks to whitewash it all. Some progressives!  

    Travelling Academic,

    Everyone talks about Nanthikadal as if it was an inevitable end to Tamil resistance. Had VP been more humane and not so insane, he would have used many chances he had to transform his movement when he was at the top of his game; he would not have assassinated Rajiv Gandhi and  antagonized India, but even after that, he had many chances.

    Even at the end, he could have chosen to disperse his cadres and let the innocent people go to safety once the SLA captured Kilinochchi and the writing was on the wall. That it didn’t happen, that Tamils today are in far worse shape than when all this began, has everything to do with the irrationality and insanity of VP and the failure by his supporters to see him for what he was. It does not call into question the rationale for some form of resistance to the State that the average Tamil youths saw in the 1970’s.

    So, don’t flatter yourself by thinking your views back in the 70’s have been vindicated.   Yours was not, and is not, the only way to approach the issue.

     While Tamils inside Sri Lanka can take whatever pragmatic measures they can  to stand up on their feet and  get on with their lives—and that includes strengthening ties with Sinhalese ’progressives’ and not emphasizing war crimes investigations; I am not at all against it—you cannot say that the external pressure that people in the Diaspora seek to apply is illegitimate and counterproductive. 

    As journalist Tissainayagam says, such pressure can indeed help, so don’t demonize the Diaspora for their activism.  Moreover, I see the prosecution of war criminals as a moral duty that I cannot shirk. Even as I deplore showing LTTE flags in protests, I wouldn’t ask people to not participate in a protest against a war criminal just because some are carrying such flags.  

  • Observer

    belle, if i am getting better information from bloggers as opposed to life trained “journalists” then blogger > journalists for me!
    i may not be able to tell what a “real journalist” is..but i can tell when i’m being fed BS!! even worse propaganda! mainstream media in the west is rubbish! unless you find comfort in the story you’re being fed…
    don’t worry news corp won’t go under anytime soon…there’s always sheep. sleep easy.

  • Humanist

    SD, thanks for trying to summarize on behalf of us to take the discussion forward.

    You have asked what the basic issue is. First of all, if MR is foolish enough to think that addressing the Oxford Student Union is some kind of national priority and some idiots (as Travelling Academic aptly named them) want to wave Tiger flags – all of that is a non-issue.

    Issue No 1: To rebuild the war-ravaged North East in a way that all the people who live there can do so with respect and dignity, taking into account their needs and aspirations for a better life.

    Issue No. 2: To restore our democratic institutions which have been deeply eroded by the current regime so that all citizens of Sri Lanka can exercise their rights without being harmed.

    Issue No. 3: To build a multi-cultural society where all ethnic groups, their languages, religions and other traditions are equally valued, irrespective of their proportion in the population.

    Unfortunately, the Oxford fiasco did not contribute to bringing us any closer to resolving any of these issues. There are still spaces left for international actors and the diaspora to contribute constructively to address these issues. However, for the most part, they are incapable of reading the context in Sri Lanka and tend to act in ways that take us two steps backwards.

    Heshan, I was not referring to the demise of the tradtional left in Sri Lanka, All I was saying was that the democratic insitutions have been so eroded that anyone, regardless of ethnicity, protests at his/her own peril.

    I also do not think Tamils are the only people in Sri Lanka who are discriminated – Muslims, Veddahs, low-caste Sinhalese, the poor and a considerable proportion of women of all ethnic groups are also discriminated. In fact, even the English speaking Colombo elites can be discriminated in some government offices. By discrimination, I mean that people’s dignity, self-respect and identity are violated and/or their access to resources and opportunities are denied. However, those sections of the population who take up armed struggle as a response to this discrimination face harsher repercussions – whether this is the LTTE or the JVP. I do agree with Heshan that the PTA and the high security zones have been applied/imposed on Tamils more than any other ethnic group.

    I believe in non-violence. If you live by the gun, you need to be prepared to die by the gun. Certain misguided individuals and groups of Tamil people took a conscious decision to pursue the path of violence, as Travelling Academic, has very clearly pointed out. There are consequences not only for those people who made the decision but for others – not only for Tamils but all Sri Lankans. That is not right or just- but that is our political and social reality. One of those consequences we face right now is our “right” to remain silent.

    The question is what we do about all of this It helps to understand how we got here and not to repeat actions that did not work or led to this situation. All the small acts we undertake to bridge the ethnic divides without getting ourselves killed are both a step towards dismantling racism and resoring democracy because we need a critical mass to change these political and social realities. My appreciation to GW for providing the space for discussion. Following on from Eeureeka, we need to have open hearts and open minds. Those people holding separatist flags do not seem to have open hearts or open minds. They are part of the problem, rather than the solution. First, because if we don’t stand united we have no chance at all to change things. Second, because the boundary between separatism and racism is not clear-cut.

  • Travelling Academic

    @agnos,
    Thanks — there is much clarity in your recent post. You make a causal link between VP’s insanity, irrationality and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, and the finale at Nanthikkadal. Correct. I go just one little step further. I saw a causal link between what I heard at the TULF meeting about drinking Sinhala blood and making slippers from their skins, and VP’s irrationality — and Kugan with whom I had that small encounter rose pretty high up in their hierarchy later.

    Hence I could predict Nanthikkadal back in 1977.

    “…whatever pragmatic measures they can to stand up on their feet and get on with their lives—and that includes strengthening ties with Sinhalese ’progressives’…”

    “…Even as I deplore showing LTTE flags in protests,…”

    Thank you for these. Much appreciated.

    All I am saying is this: the LTTE flags waved in London have a causal negative effect on the chances of Tamils in Sri Lanka rebuilding their lives. It directly hurts the ability of the Jaffna GA to persuade Basil Rajapakse to release the right level of resources to resettle the displaced people. As I said earlier, it also weakens the progressives amongst the Sinhalese and strengthens the racists.

    Shall we start afresh by first disowning this Tiger flag and everything it stood for, print ourselves some white flags, win over Sinhalese in our neighbourhoods by power of persuasion than by picture of guns, and protest jointly with them against the dictatorial aspects of this regime, in the interest of ALL who suffered, not just our tribe?

  • yapa

    Dear Travelling Academic;

    “Shall we start afresh by first disowning this Tiger flag and everything it stood for, print ourselves some white flags, win over Sinhalese in our neighbourhoods by power of persuasion than by picture of guns, and protest jointly with them against the dictatorial aspects of this regime, in the interest of ALL who suffered, not just our tribe?”

    This is all what I have been waiting for to give up my differences with Tamils and to go hand in hand with them for the betterment all. If that attitude is present I am whole heartedly with you all. As I said earlier, I have no respect for the people who want to make divisions in the nation. But once it is given up there is no reason why we should not rally against any dictatorship together.

    Thanks!

  • Belle

    Observer,
    The difference between blogging and journalism is that between rumour and checked info. The latter may not be as scandalous or sensational as you would wish it, but personally I prefer it to rumour and playing broken telephone.

    So do you turn to blogs for investment info or to professional financial journalism? (If I recall right, you go in for stocks and shares.)

  • Heshan

    Once again, Travelling Academic and Humanist miss the point. The average Sinhalese person is not going to stand up for Tamil rights. The average Sinhalese person was lighting firecrackers and bowing to effigies of MR, while 300K Tamils were languishing in mud huts, behind barbed wire, at the mercy of international aid agencies. The unfortunate reality is that – at least at the present moment – it is much more useful for Tamils to get foreign governments to pressure GOSL, than to try to work with moderate Sinhalese to initiate positive change. Most of all, let us not forget who voted MR into power – the majority of average Sinhalese! There may come a time when the atmosphere is right for Tamils to work with Sinhalese. But that day is probably a few decades away. Right now Tamils should use all their options, including embarrassing GOSL, such as happened at Oxford.

  • wije

    dear belle

    It seems to have escaped your attention that TA indicated in his penultimate post that he didn’t want to engage with me any further. Hence, I kept my responses short. One has to respect other people’s preferences, doesn’t one?

    Why? If he’s wrong, call him out! Others here can benefit from that.

    Unfortunately, there are few SDs in this forum, people who welcome and respect different voices even when they disagree.

    I myself wish on occasion that you could be more open-minded and imaginative like Burning_Issue, but we don’t all get what we want do we?

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan

    it is much more useful for Tamils to get foreign governments to pressure GOSL

    I think TA’s point was how useful has this approach been over the last 20 years. What have Tamils accomplished, if anything?

  • Observer

    belle, Some bloggers do fact check their stuff. People aren’t stupid. If you keep writing damn lies then no one will subscribe to you and the subscription base dwindles.

    Techcrunch – http://techcrunch.com/ is a very good example of this which got recently acquired by AOL. They always had really good scoops regarding silicon valley and the tech industry in general. Most of their speculation was not that off the mark, while now and then they got the odd one way off the mark. But there was a reason bloggers at Techcrunch appeared in leading news networks and the blog became a go to destination for anyone related in tech ventures and eventually got acquired!

    This is not the only such story, there are many quality blogs out there that do hell of a better job than traditional media and journalists who still feel the need to tag them selves in such a way so they feel a wiiittle bit speciaaallll…. lol

    btw, I get necessary financial information from institutions that specialise in the trade – mostly financial institutions, analysts and the companies them selves.. And sometimes from blogs like Techcrunch! So there is the answer! By the time the news hits main stream media it’s usually too late and you’re already paying a higher price.

    Bloggers like DBSJ over time build trust with their readership due to convincing reporting. If you disagree you’re certainly welcome to not read right?

    Anyway, this whole argument over who is greater is really futile. It’s not like career journalists reference their sources in their articles at the foot. You just buy what they say. There is good and really bad reporting done by both these camps and my point really is that these days.. there is no need for these tags. As a free marketeer I’d say let the market decide what news is good! Not the source! 🙂

  • Humanist

    I think Heshan is giving the “average Sinhalese” far too little credit. The “average Sinhalese”, just as much as the “average Tamil”, “average Muslim” or “average any person belonging to any ethnic group in the world” is not born racist or undemocratic. It is society and politics that make people so. The “average Sinhalese” was close to accepting a federal solution some years ago if Prabhakaran had not gone and botched it up. Unfortunately, most Tamil leaders have done very little to earn the respect of the “progressive Sinhalese”, never mind the “average Sinhalese”, just as much as MR has done precious little to earn the respect of the “average Tamil” or most thinking people in Sri Lanka. Right now the latter has enough power not to need this respect but from what we know of history I do not believe that this will be forever.

    Contrast that with the Dalai Lama who always issues statements both to his fellow Tibetans and his “Chinese brothers and sisters” to act without resorting to violence, and who has led the change in aspirations from Tibetan independence to regional autonomy, understanding the political context in which they operate.

    Whatever, the Chinese government says or tries to do, he has the unreserved respect of pretty much all his people, “progressive Chinese” and millions of people all over the world. He has done everything in his power to keep his people alive and to live a dignified life in exile (have you heard of Tibetan youth engaged in gang warfare in their neighbourhoods or traficking drugs or involved in credit card scandals?) until a more democratic and open Chinese regime comes into power. Respect has to be earned.

  • Heshan

    What have Tamils accomplished, if anything?

    They delayed the fascist plan to colonize the North for 30 years.

  • Heshan

    Observer:

    Bloggers like DBSJ over time build trust with their readership due to convincing reporting. If you disagree you’re certainly welcome to not read right?

    DBSJ is not a professional journalist. Professional journalists can handle criticism – they don’t fight with their readers in the comments section.

  • Belle

    wije,

    Who are you? Is “wije” a dimunitive for “Wijayapala”? I need to know that before I respond. Subject-position is everything, is it not?

  • Belle

    Observer,
    It seems TechCrunch employs reporters, writers and research analysts, just like news outfits do. The reporters are career journalists with a history of working with news organizations.
    http://www.crunchbase.com/company/techcrunch

    The co-founder, Heather Harde, came from the journalism industry.

    I said earlier that blogging needs to be supported by skills of journalism. TechCrunch is a perfect example of that–it could not be the success it is without that. It even sacked an intern because he asked for freebies in return for a blog post. That’s journalism protocol.

    “As a free marketeer I’d say let the market decide what news is good!”

    Exactly. And you decided TechCrunch was good. You selected a blog supported by journalists. So, you see, unbeknownst to yourself, you actually show faith in journalism. It’s just that you don’t seem to have a clear idea of what constitutes journalism. But I know that won’t stop you from trying to put down journalism.

  • Humanist

    Heshan,

    In case you still insist on being delusionary, this is the kind of external assistance that the Tamils can count on from the US and its allies.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/12/us/12holocaust.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

    Whatever the rhetoric and public face of the US government, don’t you have any idea that the American military and intelligence agencies are quite cosy with their Sri Lankan counterparts?

  • luxmy

    The moment the South decides to have the political will to be fair to ALL citizens, i.negative peace in the South will give way to positive peace and
    ii.oppression in the Northeast will give way to justice.

    Till then, most of the comments here are an insult to the oppressed.

  • Humanist

    We don’t even need to go back to the post-WWII era. Just consider what is happening right now with democratic values as the allies gang up. Charging Julian Assange all of a sudden on rape charges – how lame can those bastions of democratic values, Sweden/UK, be? Must have learnt from Malaysia. Remember Anwar, convicted of sodomy?

  • yapa

    Dear Heshan;

    “it is much more useful for Tamils to get foreign governments to pressure GOSL”

    “End justifies the means”- Machiavelli said. But your “end” does not justify “the means” (not accepting any wrong of the part from Tamils and trying to revive the separatist old ideology of LTTE with the connivance of the LTTE remnants).

    When the end is not justifiable as in the case of yours, even Machiavelli becomes miserable. Therefore, your arguments made with great efforts have no value and invariably fail.

    Thanks!

  • Heshan

    Humanist,

    Are you forgetting that long before Prabhakaran was born, the South rejected any kind of political settlement with the Tamils? Where was Prabhakaran when the Banda-Chelvam Pact was botched? Where was Prabhakaran when GG Ponnambalam’s 50-50 proposal was rejected? Where was Prabhakaran when the Dudley-Chelva Pact was broken? Not even S.W.R.D, despite his illusions of Sinhalese supremacy, could escape the wrath of the Sinhalese nationalists…

    Fast-forward 60 years. Prabhakaran is gone… where is the political solution? What happened to the proposals of the much hyped APRC? Forget the waving of Eelam flags… don’t you think that if MR could push through an amendment to make himself dictator for life, he could easily get a proposal passed for devolution for the minorities? But let’s face the truth! Devolution is not on MR’s agenda. His agenda is Sinhala nationalism, pure and simple. You don’t see the Sinhalese nationalists on the streets protesting against MR, do you?

    What should Tamils expect from this regime? Absolutely nothing, except the continuation of the program of deliberate and subtle state-sponsored subjugation. It is in this context that the diaspora Tamils protested the planned speech at the OU. Clearly, the protest was not without just cause! MR speaking at the OU is not very different from Anagarika Dharmapala speaking on Sea Street – both had/have the same purpose in mind.

  • Observer

    belle, no! they’re not all career journalists. they’re mostly techies who are knowledgeable and passionate about the subject that they cover. they cover one and only one topic! that is tech. maybe lol catz now and then 😛 i thought real journalists cover what ever is in the wind and trending. they’re trained to investigate and do stories of any sorts…

    yes i agree they have some writers with journalistic experiences and editorial skills but not most of them – http://techcrunch.com/staff/

    the guy who started it from humble beginning mr. arrington was a career lawyer! kincaid is a ucla bilogy major. seigler is a film major and web developer, etc. etc. but their passion is tech and they blogged about it before they hit the big time!

    lot of people research and write for various purposes including my self. but i do not consider my self as a journalist!

  • luxmy

    What are the commentators interested in while:

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/09/23/submissions-before-lessons-learnt-reconciliation-committee-llrc-by-chandra-jayaratne/
    Submission before Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) by Chandra Jayaratne, 23 September 2010:

    IDP’s being denied access to their former places of residence
    Challenging the right to title of the properties traditionally owned and /or occupied persons living in conflict affected areas
    Large tracts of previously occupied lands being demarcated as high security zones
    Unjustified land acquisitions on security considerations but allocated for non security related purposes
    The publicly announced resettlement benefits to internally displaced persons not being distributed equitably and in line with the announced scheme
    Lack of basic amenities like water, sanitation, power and proper housing for the newly resettled families
    Resource allocation not determined on community priorities and allocated without consultation and outside the need base and at times missing the most vulnerable and in need, possibly due to identity based biases
    Some areas like Jaffna receiving more than necessary resource allocations and peripheral areas lacking in even basic allocations
    Preventing willing and capable NGO’s/INGO’s, international community and Diaspora from helping people in need at their most vulnerable moment of need
    Building of new permanent military cantonments with residential facilities for military personnel and their families
    Plans to settle majority community families in order to change the traditional area demography otherwise than by natural development oriented migration
    Arbitrary arrests and detention in the post war period as well
    Continuing active engagement of unauthorized armed groups
    Continuing disappearances of civilians
    List of persons in custody, camps and detention centres not being made public
    Failure to assist families in tracing missing persons
    Negative impact on civilians during the conflict due military excesses
    Unease of single women headed families fearing for their safety in the presence of large number of armed personnel of the forces
    Removal of burial sites of persons affected by the conflict
    Some important cultural, religious and remembrance sites being damaged and destroyed
    Disrespect shown by visitors to holy sites and sites held in high esteem by resident communities
    Free availability of liquor, cigarettes and narcotics
    Emerging consumerism promoted by business houses who fail to participate in adding value to the civilian communities
    Savings of the region being channelled to other areas whilst unmet needs of area community remain
    Decision making in the hands of the military or officials from the Central Government.

  • Luxmy

    The commentators are inwardly satisfied by the Tamils being squashed and keep arguing irrelevant matters so that all the Tamils are scraped out alive?

  • Belle

    Observer,
    All the editors except Arrington are career journalists. Most of the writers also came from news organizations, including tech news organizations. Only the contributors and sales and production staff lack the journalism connection. This is exactly what you find at a traditional print magazine. I’ve been editor-in-chief of two magazines–nobody gets copy published until it is cleared by editors. As such, untrained contributors (chosen for their expertise in content areas) will have their copy developed in accordance with journalistic principles applied by trained editors.

    • Observer

      I find it rather interesting that Groundview’s tag line has changed from “Citizen Journalism” to “Journalism for Citizens” with the new WordPress update. Anyway, according to you belle, it would seem that these terms are rather oxymorons going by your views of journalism. Essentially your view is that a journalist must be someone who has proper training and experience in the field of reporting/media. Where as sites like groundviews exist on the premise that ordinary citizens can also report/contribute at grassroots levels and become journalists in their own way. I really do think that you need to relax your classifications of journalist. If you saw the last link I posted, people are questioning whether Julian Assange is a journalist. Whether he should have the same protections as career journalists. I can understand why someone like you would feel threatened by the broadening definition of your own profession. But times have changed!

  • wijayapala

    Prof Heshan

    They delayed the fascist plan to colonize the North for 30 years.

    Kindly provide us evidence of this master plan.

    Was this worth the death of tens of thousands of Tamils and the suffering of thousands more??

  • Observer

    I beg to differ about your opinion of techcrunch. They may have several editors now but if you knew the history of the web site you would know that the guys who wrote there weren’t really journalistic types. Anyway it is acquired by AOL now, so it is running as a media distributor now!

    If you also read blogs on the Gawker network, you’d know that most of them are not your traditional journalist types.

    Anyway, is he a journalist?

    http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/368131/december-09-2010/international-manhunt-for-julian-assange—daniel-ellsberg

    I’d like to get your opinion since you’re a journalist type as I suspected.

  • http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/we-wrote-sri-lankan-presidents-civil-war-speech-say-lobbyists-6272765.html

    Senior executives at Bell Pottinger told undercover reporters that they were so influential that they had written a key speech given by the Sri Lankan President to the United Nations.

    During the address by President Mahinda Rajapaksa last year, which the company said was used in preference to one prepared by the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, the President suggested rules governing the humanitarian conduct of war should be re-examined. He also described his troops’ action against Tamil Tiger separatists as humanitarian.