Colombo, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

Different forms of terrorism

LTTE terrorism ended with the death of its leader Prabakaran in May 2009. But other forms of terrorism seem to have erupted in the country to keep the government busy waging many more wars on terror. One such war was declared on narcotics, alcohol and cigarettes and we are told it has been a success, in the case of cigarettes.

Now, there is a kind of terrorism in the Universities. A vice chancellor has been assaulted and a minister has been jeered at. Students have also forcibly entered the ministry of higher education premises and destroyed public property. As a result Udul Premaratne, the convener of the Inter University students Federation has been arrested. Almost all our universities are in turmoil and the government points a finger at the JVP and its allies. Could the JVP alone bring about such unrest in the universities or is this also part of an international conspiracy to destabilise Sri Lanka?  One never knows.

There’s another kind of terrorism in the prisons. Prisoners and prison guards have reportedly attacked the police who were carrying out a raid. The minister of Rehabilitation and Prison Reforms has said that he is not aware of any such clashes but thinks it is possible, “I cannot recommend any prison officer as they are the most corrupt in the public sector”, he has said. Fortunately Sarath Fonseka was not involved in these clashes, at the moment he seems to be fighting to keep the rain water out of his tiny cell.

“Paang terrorism or American wheat flour terrorism” is seen by Minister Wimal Weerawansa as a deliberate attempt by America and the West against the sovereignty of Sri Lanka. It not only deprives our paddy farmers of their due profits but also makes our people unhealthy. Sri Lankans should be more patriotic and eat more rice instead of wheat is the minister’s advice to the people. Wheat flour based food items have been banned from school canteens, hospitals and prisons. But so far those have not been banned in parliament where bread rolls, sandwiches and butter cakes are freely served.

Then there are the armed gangs that terrorise the people in the North. As Dr. M. Sarvanathan points out in an interview with Sergei De Silva Ranasinghe, “Although LTTE terror doesn’t exist any more,  Certain negative aspects of the LTTE era stubbornly persist in the North (particularly in Jaffna) with a new role player, albeit, at a much smaller scale than that of the LTTE. The EPDP (The Elam People’s Democratic Party), a pro-government militia, cum political party headed by a Cabinet Minister has filled the boots of the LTTE in certain illegal activities such as extortion, kidnapping for ransom…”

Could the same minister’s armed gangs have been involved in the attack on the JVP politicians when they visited Jaffna? JVP MP Sunil Handunnetti has said, “The gang came and tried to abduct our Jaffna district leader. I tried to prevent it and they assaulted me severely.  These attackers spoke in fluent Sinhala. We suspect that this is a state-sponsored gang”. A few government supporters say it’s the Tamil residents in that area who attacked the JVP parliamentarians. But the injured MP denied it, on the contrary the Tamil people had saved him from the armed gang, he maintains. As we all know, the attackers will never be found.

CAFFE (The campaign for free and fair elections) complains that many people who wanted to make their submissions to the LLRC (Lessons learnt and reconciliation commission) in Kayts were threatened by an armed gang. (Daily Mirror November 18th)  Could it be the same gang? The government says it’s unaware of any such incident and that is the end of the matter.

The controversial gambling bill (Casino Regulatory Bill) has been passed by a majority of 81 votes. According to the Bill anyone who wishes to operate a Casino can do so, in an area designated by the minister. It legalises gambling. One would have expected a burst of moral outrage from the JHU parliamentarians. But they remained silent showing their approval. While the morality or immorality of gambling could be debated, there is no doubt that gambling is also addictive like narcotics, liquor and cigarettes. Casinos can create compulsive gamblers. It also breeds crime, specially where politicians consider themselves above the law. Casinos also encourage the consumption of alcohol and global sex trafficking. According to the teachings of the Buddha drinking and gambling are among things that can destroy a person. But the JHU, the custodians of Buddhism don’t seem to see anything wrong in promoting casinos as long as it promotes our tourist industry. Strange that Wimal Weerawansa does not see casino culture as another brand of terrorism from America and the West trying to destroy our Sinhala Buddhist culture!

Terrorism seems to be lurking in some form or other behind the apparent peace and prosperity enjoyed by the people. And so the government is forced to increase its defense expenditure, while asking the people to tighten their belts and face the rising cost of living. There is very little protest from the people because they seem to have understood the government’s dilemma. Cynics of course   say this fear of terrorism is used by those in power to curb the freedom of the people and keep them firmly under control. Just this week when there was an island wide power failure there were people who feared it could be the work of the Tigers who are still moving around. Take away this fear of terrorism in some form; all hell would break loose with the people demanding their political, civil and economic rights. That definitely would be disastrous for the government.

Recently Sonia Gandhi said that although India has progressed in many ways its “moral universe is shrinking”. In Sri Lanka, has it shrunk or completely disappeared? In India some of the corrupt ministers are sometimes forced to resign. In Sri Lanka,-never, in fact they seem to be rewarded. One could of course argue that our moral universe firmly based on Mahinda Chinthanaya has in fact expanded, like our cabinet of ministers where among the ninety one (91) there is not one single corrupt minister!

  • MV

    Dear Leela,
    “LTTE terrorism ended with the death of its leader Prabakaran in May 2009.”

    LTTE was a violent resistance on the part of Tamils in response to the State policies. In the name of counter terrorism, national security, and territorial integrity, Sri Lankan state had committed far worse terrorism than the LTTE, a lot of which did not leak out because of media censor to the North and East, or that committed by the European colonials on the natives.

    Now that this resistance is defeated, the patriots need new wars to divert the attention from real issues that gave rise to the resistance – namely the concentration of power in the center and race politics. The “patriots” are fighting one such imaginery war with the Tamil diaspora and the West.

    The Rajapakse regime, which won on popularity, is now back-lashing against the same Sinhala majority using the counter terrorism it used against the Tamils to get rid of its dissidents.

  • eeurekaa

    ”LTTE terrorism” of nearlythree decades ended in May
    2009. State terrorism of 62+ years keeps bursting bunds.

  • Padda

    How about media terrorism?

  • Observer

    Conservative parties always resort to fear in any country. Whether it be fear of Muslims, Gays, Refugees, etc, etc. I mean Afghanistan was justified by 9/11 repeat attack fear and Iraq was justified by fear of some Phantom WMDs. Public blindly supported and now regurgitating the consequences. Iran and North Korea are being targeted now by fear of Nukes. Back in the day it was Communism. Do you watch Fox News? It is basically a horror news channel run by the GOP in US. Spreading fear 24/7. So Leela, please don’t isolate just Sri Lanka for driving some policies based on fear. We’re humans. We’re wired to feel and respond to fear. Pollies all over the world know this and make use of it.

    According to the rulers of the world Terrorism is lurking everywhere from macro levels to global levels. I mean isn;t the biggest fear right now a war in the Korean peninsula initiated by North Korea? When we all know that North Korea by it self cannot wage a war and not collapse without the support of China? Isn;t Julian Assange a “high tech” terrorists according to US congressmen? Wasn’t a whole bunch of investment bankers bailed out after they effed up high on cocaine by telling us the terror situation where the whole financial system would collapse wiping out our entire savings? Aren’t refugees drowning by the 100s because of the fear of boat people and the terror they bring to countries that are barely populated?!?!?Yeah….. and you think SL is using terror for their benefit. Get outta here…

    • The Mervyn Silva

      Ha ha Observer, you are such a macro guy, very cute! Always drawing the red herring and pointing at the big fires to be making the fire in the Sri Lanka side looking smaller and harmless and Our Majesty more like the pussy cat compared to the other cats. Now, there is also one other person in the Groundviews who is always doing this. Now who is he……?

      Rolling on the flooorside laughing my backside off!!!

      • Observer

        Mr Mervyn, let me tell you what a red herring is… it is when certain countries invade other countries and destroy their very fabric of society and kill civilians with no accountability and have the nerve to even suggest the very notion of accountability to others just to take the heat off them.

        Now who got recently caught giving directives to spy on the UN? What are they worried about? What sort of tip offs were they wanting so they could be one step ahead.

        If the reality makes you laugh, then roll harder and laugh harder…

  • eureka

    Different forms of terrorism:

    ‘Disaster management’ observed with Sinhala anthem in Jaffna, 27 December 2010

    Challenge to good governance posed by budget, Jehan Perera, Chairman, National Peace Council, 25 October 2010

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The ‘Observer’, I am thinking, the Dayan Master would have
    been agreeing also! (winking, winking, nudging, nudging and still
    rolling and laughing)

    • Suranga

      Brilliant stuff Mr Mervyn, enjoy your comments very much, keep it up.

  • justitia

    There is State Terrorism, at least in the northeast of sri lanka.Recently the Zonal Director of Education was shot dead as he reportedly refused to order all schools to sing the national anthem in sinhalese.
    The priest of a hindu temple and his two sons were shot,during an attempted extortion by two men,using guns hired from the army.The priest died.
    Names of 7,000 people who went missing in the east has been given to the LLRC by Fr. Miller, a well known human rights activist.
    IDPs resettled in their villages are chased out by the army allegging that the land is required by them.
    Villagers who have lived for decades in a few other villages have been asked to vacate and move elsewher as the sites had been identified as old buddhist places of worship.
    There are often incidents of abductions for ransome, xtortions,
    robberies and rape of women in lonely houses, by armed paramilitaries of a known political party. The government ignores these happenings.