Colombo, Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Poetry, Vavuniya

At Your Service

Islanders always like to baila,
party, party, nibble the ear

whispering, pump themselves
with arrack and go courting

on the Green, but in these
holidays at year’s end

dedicated to forgetting
the war and all those gadflies

buried in graves, some families
mourn their heroes away

from the headlights’ glare
of vans without license plates

that remain in service waiting
to be summoned when necessary.

  • Punitham

    ”… away from the headlights’ glare of vans without
    license plates …” Super feast for the season(= food for thought
    for action in the New Year). Indran, thanks and wish you prosperity
    in the New Year.

  • longus

    Can we live in the past, lingering on ‘Heros’ and what they
    did? Or the “traitors” and what they did? Let’s move on, it’s so
    boring to hear all this crap over and over…… Get a life and
    move on… Your lamentations are so out of tune now! Or you shout
    and shout till you run out of batteries.

  • Vino Gamage

    ”Can we live in the past, lingering on ‘Heros’ and what they
    did? Or the “traitors” and what they did?”

    After 62+ years of conflict some people think that we need some sort of reconciliation – not a ”homegrown” idea but widely accepted by mankind(South Africa? Northern Ireland? Aceh?….):
    Jayantha Dhanapala’s written submission to LLRC, 30 August 2010:
    ‘’Your mandate artificially sets a time frame from 21 February 2002 to 19 May 2009 . That and its restricted mandate is also a limitation in your good faith efforts to discharge your task. The lessons we have to learn go back to the past – certainly from the time that we had responsibility for our own governance on 4 February 1948. Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality.’’ (Dhanapala was formerly UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament).

    • longus

      So, what’s wrong with a home grown solution, Mr.Gamage? The Northern Ireland didn’t import its solution, nor did South Africa. Every country has its own specific historical and cultural fabric upon which any solution should be based. We can’t copy foreign solutions just because it was successfully adopted by some other country. We don’t have to satisfy the foreigners or the diaspora who have nothing in common with the Tamils LIVING in Sri Lanka! I wonder whether you have!

  • luxmy

    ”it’s so boring to hear all this crap over and over” ?

    The President is taking action:
    “Humanitarian Operation is still-on” says C-in-C, 22 December 2010:
    “The humanitarian operation that got underway in 2006 is still not over. This humanitarian operation will not cease until all bitter past memories of terrorism and secessionist intentions are completely wiped out. All those passing out today as responsible officers, should also remember to contribute to this unceasing great humanitarian operation in the future,” the President stressed.

    • longus

      Well, who said it’s not ‘boring stuff’? May be the same record in a new cover! Can you blame the Persident when the Tamil community is so fastidious. What anybody can see by reading the comments in his forum itself is that they have a ‘minority syndrome’ that sees everything in a distorted version in their favour. In the end it seems the Sinhalese majority has been pushed to a ‘no compromise’ stand after years and years of trying to satisfy the insatiable Tamil demands. From the relatively pro-federal stand the majority Sinhalese have come to believe in a ‘give them nothing’ stand, due to the fault of the once omnipotent Tamil terrorist movement which most of the Tamils hero-worshipped with religious fervour.

      Now, after being totally defeated they haven’t changed the tune of the song much and still ask for the whole pound of flesh. Now, apart from the Tiger Flag waving, is there a realistic chance of achieving your demands if you continue to tread in this path? Absolutely nothing! The more you antogonize the the ‘Victors’ of the war, the less you would achieve. The whole of the north might become a military colony, and the second term of Rajapakse has just begun, what can you do? Apart from waving flags, what can you do? So, isn’t it prudent to prune down your demands and try to win the political leadership? Your arrogance has led to destruction only, so far! So, why persue the same doomed path?

  • Vino Gamage

    1.There is only one bottomline for all human beings – human rights of all human beings are the same wherever they live.

    ”home-grown” semms to be ”don’t talk about the injustice we do to our minorities”

    2. It’s an unacceptable assumption that all diaspora are tiger-flag-waving.

    3. Anyone who speaks for justice is labelled ”pro-tiger” thus dragging the argument into illogic/mud.

    4. John Holmes, Alan Rock, Louise Arbour, Gareth Evans, …. – all were called pro-tiger though they have condemned tiger violence too as much as they criticised human rights violations of the government.

    5. Some commentators on GV don’t seem to bother about the way those in the Northeast have been treated in the last eighteen months though they may be too young to know what has been happening earlier and they go on and on and on …..

    6. When oppression STOPS only, the oppressed will believe the words of the oppressor.

    7. International Law hasn’t evolved enough to deal with internal colonialism yet. Every iota of research findings of natural sciences is made use of and we can see multiverses out there but social sciences drag too far behind natural sciences and the oppressed around the world may have to wait a few more generations before anything is being done but by that time we don’t know what happens to mankind itself ……

    • longus

      Vino Gamage I have no problem with giving solutions to
      minority problems, but the lobbying for justice is not the same as
      calling for death of Sri Lanka. Not that these poets and writers
      don’t understand that civilians are the first casualty in any war,
      that it had been the case in every war the humans have fought so
      far in their history, it’s rather their intention to redicule Sri
      Lanka and avenge the defeat of the LTTE. The civilian casualties in
      the last phase of the war was inevitable as there was was an open
      war with civilians being held as a human shield by the LTTE, but
      one thing that is obvious is that if the SL Forces wanted to kill
      all civilians and win the war quickly they would have achieved it
      several months before the final outcome. They wouldn’t have had to
      bother about freeing around 300,000 civilians from the battle
      front. They would have simply bombed the whole area like what
      happened in the cases of Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki,Afgan and
      Iraqi cities. The GOSL could have told like Isreal that as the
      civilians were being held as a human shield by the terrorists
      they(civilians) became a legitimate target for attacks.That was not
      the case here. I do think that the majority of the Tamil diaspora
      are supportive of the Eelam cause and they were the ones who
      glorified the LTTE atrocities in the past, gave funds to them and
      shed tears for the LTTE after its defeat. Even if they could not
      find any evidence to accuse GOSL (like the Channel-4 clips) they
      would have done the same thing! The guillible moderate thinkers too
      are sadly caught in this LTTE’s trap to tarnish Sri Lanka for the
      purpose of settling the scores with the GOSL. The standards of
      human rights varies from one part of the world to another as much
      as the topography itself. There is no universally set standard for
      human rights and sometimes it is distorted to suit the purpose of
      the World Powers. Sometimes the culture too plays a role in the
      human rights. Fighting for the right to engage in prostitution (sex
      trade), polygamy or to have children out of wedlock or to adopt a
      child by a same sex couple may be an issue to fight for in Canada
      or the US, but they are not the issues in another country which
      belongs to a different culture. In Sri Lanka the minorities do
      enjoy the same rights as the majority Sinhalese under the law. The
      discriminations that happen at a personal level are as same as in
      any Western country where there is no open discrimination, but it
      operates at a personal level.

  • Belle

    “There is no universally set standard for
    human rights and sometimes it is distorted to suit the purpose of
    the World Powers”

    The concept is called “HUMAN rights” because it is precisely an international attempt to agree on basic minimum rights for “humans” (not Americans, or Sri Lankans, or whatever). The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drafted by people from various cultures, in consultation with other actors, including Mahatma Gandhi, and it was adopted by the UN General Assembly in a one-state, one-vote system, not by the Security Council or the permanent members.

    If you want something culture-specific, call it something else, like Sri Lankan basic rights, or whatever. But don’t hijack the human rights concept to give some universal cache to your own, more narrow, national claims. And good luck with getting your whole country to agree about which rights are specific to SL culture.

    The human rights movement originated to tackle the oppressions of totalitarianism. And those who attempt to distort it are the totalitarian regimes as it doesn’t serve their purpose. In 1994, China challenged the universality of the concept of human rights–because, it would seem, according to Chinese culture, it is not a contravention of human rights to run people over with tanks. They wanted to be allowed to kill their dissenting citizens while still enjoying trading privileges with the US. Lee Kuan Yew, supported by Mahathir, came up with the farcical concept of “Asian Values” to legitimize curbs on democracy in Singapore and Malaysia.

    • longus

      Be mindful, Lee Kwan Yew’s cameras and internet monitors
      are watching you! It appears I’m not alone in the theory of
      ‘culture based Human Rights’! Many countries have and are going to
      the top by practising it. So, why not give some years to Sri Lankan
      leadership as well?

      • Belle

        I didn’t mention a secret. Singapore’s critique of human rights at the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna (sorry, 1993, not 1994) is well documented in academic scholarship. At any rate, LKY did not use the cultural relativity alibi to kill dissenters. We have no white vans here or paramilitary organizations. His authoritarianism moreover included a firm commitment to racial equality.

        Actually, I can’t think of any country that thrived because of human rights violations. Singapore’s success is due to its economic policies, avoidance of corruption and fair access to opportunities, not its take on human rights. Is Libya doing well? Sudan? Burma? North Korea? Somalia? Tibet? Turkmenistan? Zimbabwe? Iran? Ethiopia? Where would China be without its huge national market? Where is Malaysia despite its natural resources? How did Hongkong, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan succeed while building on their democratic institutions? The notion that human rights abuse is necessary for economic development of Third World countries is hogwash. Sound economic policies and a citizenry that is given free and fair access to opportunities is what does the trick.

      • longus

        Is China doing well? Very well Madam! Even Zimbabwe has resources!

  • eeurekaa


    Thanks. A lot to think about.

    What has been happening in the last 62 years in this small island is as disgusting as some of the most disgusting mythologies and this doesn’t seem to stop:
    Terror campaign in Jaffna: abducted youth tortured and beheaded, 29 December 2010
    Zonal Deputy Director of Education shot dead in Jaffna, 27 December 2010

  • eeurekaa

    Does this get the attention of some of the commentators?

    So what are the issues concerning Sri Lanka’s friends in the international community. The government needs to look no further than what its own Tamil allies in the Tamil party’s forum (TPF) have been telling them.

    A political solution to the ethnic problem should be found within a united Sri Lanka enabling the Tamil people to participate in their own governance in the North and East. Implementing the 13th amendment is an important first step.

    The IDPs released for resettlement have not been provided with basic facilities nor compensated. A large number of Tamil prisoners are detained under Emergency Regulations and the PTA and not indicted. A complete list of all those Tamils who are in custody must be released. The military presence is continuing at war time levels in the North. The artillery range High Security Zones prevent people from resettling on their private lands. Outsiders are permitted to access these lands. Involvement of the security forces in civil administration and public affairs creates impediment in the resumption of a civil administration. Establishing settlements of security force’s families will drastically alter the demographic composition in the Northern and Eastern provinces of the country. Local Tamil youths have been ignored in appointments to the posts in Government institutions in the North or as labour in government projects. The real issue is why the government of Sri Lanka is stonewalling on addressing these issues. The influence of a handful of majoritarian ethno religious nationalists should not be allowed to prevent the essential reconciliation measures that are needed in the post war period.

  • renu

    Folks, let’s have a change in the New Year: please don’t leave our Buddhism for Poya day, vihara and dana: let’s put it into daily routine.

    Googling will reveal that almost every other week diaspora from scores of oppressive regimes around the world have demonstrations in London and PR companies are thriving there.

    Is it easier for us to pay the PR firms because it’s messy dealing with the tsunami of issues exponentially building up over the decades:
    PR firms make London world capital of reputation laundering, 3 August 2010
    Can PR Firm launder Sri Lanka’s Image? 27 October 2010
    Sri Lanka ‘pays PR firm £3m to boost post-war image’, BBC, 22 October 2010

  • renu

    Indran, thanks.
    I wish I could write some poetry.
    Poems are like mindmaps and conceptmaps, eanabling people to understand, think and act more effectively.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Maybe they’re out there on Galle Face Green
    Not because they’re nasty, not because they’re mean,
    Just happy to be able to make the scene,
    Not blown up by a suicide machine?

    • MG

      Wow, Dr DJ, I am impressed! You could be a better poet than an academic!

  • Davidson

    People in Sri Lanka can be categorised into two groups:
    A. group that suffered from suicide machine for about thirty years till May 2009
    B. group that has been suffering from state machine from 1948 – there is no end on the horizon to this suffering
    Pigs of HSZ harm crops, youth electrocuted in Jaffna, 30 December 2010
    Abductions escalate in Jaffna, 30 December 2010

  • luxmy

    Man on the street rants about suicide bombing.
    Top government officials, academia and envoys to intergovernmental bodies worry about tackling the root causes.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    Home grown solutions

    I will tell you about my solutions
    To any problem I am having

    Whenever there is a problem
    A little tree I am growing

    In the backside of my humble home
    I have problem solving trees

    Sometimes a bush sometimes a shrub
    But always something green

    This is very much like Our Majesty’s wish
    To be having home-grown things

    Appointing a little Commission
    For any problem need solving

    And just like Our Majesty
    Who is soon forgetting commission

    I am also forgetting my little trees
    As soon as they are in position

    And now if you are coming to my home
    You will see what it is like

    My problems I am still having
    They are not going for hike

    But the backside is like jungle
    Trees growing left and right

    Cannot be walking about
    Even stepping outside

    A jungle full of messy leaves
    Scary like the night

    Not a place to solve a puzzle
    Only good to hide

  • Heshan

    In the moonlit night,

    Goes the white van,

    Belching fumes, of a nation’s spite,

    Disappear in air, unseen, like the lone man,

    It’s silent occupant. To where it goes,

    Nibbana or hell, I know not,

    But, its occupant shall surely rot.

  • luxmy

    Too much of ”At Your Service?” ??
    Youth abducted, Sri Lanka colonial commander denies knowledge, 31 December 2010
    Unidentified persons coming in a white van abducted a youth in Urumpiraay, Jaffna, in broad daylight and in public, while he was riding a bicycle Thursday. When contacted by media over the incident, Sri Lanka’s colonial commander in Jaffna, Maj. Gen Hathurusinghe not only denied any knowledge of it, but also said that there are no chances for such abductions since the LTTE doesn’t exist now. When it was pointed out that public had witnessed the abduction and that the bicycle and slippers of the victim had been remaining on the street, the ‘Asian Nobel laureate’ General replied that the police would investigate into that matter. However, the police that picked up the evidence also denied any abduction. Meanwhile, irresponsible reporting of the happenings in Jaffna by some in the diaspora affects the credibility of even bona fide news, commented media circles in Jaffna.

  • renu

    ” Green” captures Dayan’s attention.
    ”without license plates” fails to do so.

    He is not a ”national” citizen.
    He is an ”international” citizen.

  • Bundoora

    Galle face green
    gives me the awesome breeze
    Ground views always gives me to ponder
    Often wonder who those pundits are
    The pseudo expert knows
    when and where to be highlighted
    will have secure his future
    With sajith in near future
    until then the master of everything
    can go on praising
    his kakille the king