Measuring (After Nandikadal)

An embarrassment, to forget
over short eats, ignore the bundle

on his back, that sloshed
set of poetry he cannot avoid

carrying, an appendix,
reptilian brain, fascination

with naming elements
of the crime, breadth

of carpet strafing
of civilians in tents

on banks of the lagoon,
while tails for the ball

are rented
and we sit down

to quail and goose,
although elements

of the meal have
no political meaning.

They are foods for festive
or special occasions: here

fundraising, so ordinary
citizens can travel

to see the miscreant
dictatorship, dressed

in civvies, mixed in
with the crowd,

not in a killing field,
drawn up in advance,

but the larger and
harder-to-manage

masses of the post-war
streets, and report

what they find
before the police visit.

  • Velayutham

    Nandikadal

    Sri Lanka indeed a miracle of Asia !!

    First, before Nandikadal there was a Rajapaksa Government “ ZERO civilians casualties ” then thousands of people “ disappeared” in to the thin air and now Rajapaksa Government is saying that prisoners strip naked and beat themselves in Anuradhapura jail ??

    ” Tamil detainees held at the Anuradhapura prison were forced to strip, and were blindfolded and beaten on November 27 by prison guards who ‘wanted to celebrate the Mahaveerar day in style,’ lawyers representing the rights of detainees claim.
    Sixty five Tamils held in the Anuradhapura prison (under Emergency Regulations first, and by the subsequent Special Gazette notification later) were beaten up by the guards, who also set on fire their meagre belongings, lawyers said, quoting the detainees.
    A lawyer said: “On Sunday morning, around 35 jail guards had come to the ward and asked, ‘Ada ubalage mahaviruwage dine neda? Ubalata eka samaranna onada? Waren samaranna.’ (Isn’t today your hero’s day? Do you want to celebrate? Let’s celebrate.)

    A’pura prison – a history of violence
    The detainees were then taken out of their ward. They were forced to strip and kneel down, and were blindfolded and beaten with poles.
    Udul Premaratnna, the convener of the campaign group, Api Sri Lankikayo (We are Sri Lankans) that is waging a campaign for the release of the detained Tamils says the Anuradhapura prison has a history of violence directed against Tamil detainees.
    “Guards assaulted Tamil prisoners in the Anuradhapura prison a few months back and also torched their belongings including a television donated by the Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph,” he recalls.
    The Mannar Bishop also visited the prison after the earlier attack and raised the issue with the authorities.

    Lawyers prevented from meeting detainees
    Udul Premaratna says that subsequent to last week’s assault, the detainees were denied lawyers’ visits in an effort to prevent information on the attack being leaked out to the media.
    “On the day following the attack, when I went to see the detainees along with another lawyer who is appearing for them, we were prevented from meeting them,” he says.
    “We were told that the detainees had launched a hunger strike and therefore we couldn’t meet them. We insisted that as lawyers we have a right to meet the suspects we are appearing for, as long as they are willing to meet us.”
    “The Superintendent of Prisons told us that he had received orders from higher ups not to allow any visitors for the prisoners.”
    Premaratna said his fellow lawyer, through the Anuradhapura branch of the Bar Association of Sri Lanka, has complained to the Chief Justice about the incident.

    Detainees ‘posed as tortured’
    Following the alleged assault, detainees launched a hunger strike and were joined by the other Tamil detainees held in the Jaffna, Vavuniya and Welikada prisons. The fast had been given up by Friday, assistant prisons commissioner Ashoka Hapuarachchi said.
    He alleged that detainees had posed as being tortured and taken pictures of themselves in stress positions in order to disseminate these via cell phones. “They wanted to pass these pictures onto the Tamil diaspora who would then make use of these images to allege that Tamils in Sri Lankan prisons are tortured,” he said.
    Premaratna however laughed off these allegations. “It is a cover up in poor taste,” he said. He says violence directed against Tamil political prisoners is under-reported because authorities often cover up these incidents.
    Earlier, in November 2009, LTTE suspects held in the Welikada prison were attacked by the other prisoners serving sentences for criminal offences with the connivance of prison officials.
    There is a minority of prison guards who derive a sadistic pleasure by carrying out and provoking attacks against Tamil detainees, he says. Apparently, instead of combating such acts, the Prisons Department prefers to cover up.

    Is this justice?

    Only 23 Tamil detainees out of 65 held in the Anuradhapura prison have been charged with any offence. The remaining 42 detainees have been languishing in detention for two to six years, without charges.
    And those who are already charged by the Attorney General’s Department are also facing the prospect of endless court visits.
    A Tamil Tiger suspect identified as Thirumagal has now completed her 15th year in detention and has made 429 court visits so far. She questions how many more visits she would have to make and how many more years she would have to languish in jail, before the court delivers a ruling?
    http://www.lakbimanews.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3748:were-detainees-sadistically-beaten-at-apura&catid=35:news-features&Itemid=37

    • Keeman Arumugam

      If Tamil detainees held at the Anuradhapura prison were beaten by prison guards, an impartial Inquiry must be set in Motion – preferably a multi-Party effort with about 5 MPs of whom at least 2 from the TNA.

      The world must take note serious crimes against Tamils continues despite denials, deceit and disinformation by the Rajapapaksa Government.

      If the “incident” is false and stage-managed those prisoners responsible must be subject to punishment.

      • sabbe laban

        Those hard-core terrorist suspects who wanted to celebrate the Mahaveera day deserve that treatment! Do you think that they deserve anything less?

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Measuring, Before Nandikadal

    Perhaps the poet

    would ask his paymaster

    about Agent Orange

    and napalm on children

    before he natters on

    about Nandikadal

    • nathan

      Perhaps the good
      Dr. Jayatilleka
      should ask his
      fair conscience
      since napalm
      and agent orange were
      used on children
      in Nam, Cambodia
      and elsewhere
      by their ‘democracy’
      does it justify
      cluster bombing children
      in Vanni
      by his ‘democracy’?

  • silva

    let’s have the investigation about who did what about the war-without-witnesses.

  • silva

    After the hundreds of thousands emerged from the warzone on 18 May 2009, who was allowed into the zone, when was anyone allowed in:

    http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/peopleandpower/2011/04/2011420114515626866.html
    Al Jazeera, “Sri Lanka: War Crimes,” April 20, 2011:
    Journalist: He takes us to the bank of the lagoon that separated us from the Tigers’ last stand.
    My understanding is that we are the first journalists who are actually allowed into this area.
    (Pointing towards the strip of land across the lagoon)That side is still entirely closed off?
    Major: Because it is not cleared . Demining is still happening.
    Journalist: Because it’s given wlld speculation about mass graves that are being covered up.
    So far nobody isn’t allowed in there?
    M: Nobody
    J: No international observers?
    M: No
    J: All these parts of the coastal strip were designated as no-fire zone

  • silva

    Who are the paymasters of UN Human Rights Committee, ICJ, IBA, MRGI, HRW, AI, ICG, The Elders, ICRtoP whose reports have been ignored by successive governments in the last 4/5 decades?

    If you enlighten your paymaster, Sri Lanka will once again be a paradise:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzGj2hYoymo

  • http://indranamirthanayagam.blogspot.com Indran Amirthanayagam

    The only pay for a poet is the chance to speak truth and to celebrate the rich variety of the language in which he writes. One does not write poetry for the occasional royalty cheque. As for nattering or idle chatter I do not consider reflecting on Nandikadal mere conversation at a cocktail party about the state of the nation, its moral compass, its ability to investigate and prosecute criminal actions.

  • http://thecarthaginiansolution.wordpress.com Mango

    Where can you get Quail in SL? Are Perera & Sons selling it as a short eat? GV is a treasure trove of new food info and execrable poetry.

    • Kusum

      Execrable things have been happening since 1948, still going on….

  • Kusum

    Poetry is reality and hope.

    How many Sri Lankans know about Perera and Sons?

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Indran (and Co), you really should dip into the Wikileaks treasure trove a bit more often, and check out what your colleagues wrote about Nandikadal.

    A Wikileaks cable republished on the website Colombo Telegraph reveals that Ambassador Pat Butenis reported to her bosses in Washington DC that ‘ many objective observers ‘ confirm that the Sri Lankan armed forces could have finished off the LTTE and the war ‘far more quickly’ if it had not been for the concern over Tamil civilian casualties! Please see below:
    http://colombotelegraph.com/2011/11/15/wikileaks-outside-neutral-observers-agree-gsl-could-have-finished-off-ltte-more-quickly-butenis/

    WikiLeaks: Outside neutral observers agree GSL could have finished off LTTE more quickly – Butenis
    Posted by Colombo Telegraph ? November 15, 2011 ? 7 Comments
    Filed Under Democracy, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Human Rights, Patricia A. Butenis, Sri Lankans in WikiLeaks, State Department’s recent report to Congress on incidents, US embassy cables on Sri Lanka, War Crimes, War crimes LTTE
    By Colombo Telegraph –

    “Most outside, neutral observers privately agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties.” the US Ambassador to Colombo wrote to Washington.

    A leaked US unclassified diplomatic cable discussed the post-war challenges in Sri Lanka. The Colombo Telegraph found the cable from WikiLeaks database. The cable was written on October 30, 2009 by the US Ambassador to Colombo Patricia A. Butenis.

    Many believed the Government of Sri Lanka could have minimized those casualties had it allowed for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had surrounded remaining LTTE fighters
    Under the subject of “Sri Lanka Scenesetter” the Ambassador Butenis wrote “ Final months of the war were brutal, inflicting heavy damage on all sides, both military and civilian. Estimates of the number of dead and wounded vary widely, but outside observers agree that the civilian toll was high. Many believed the Government of Sri Lanka could have minimized those casualties had it allowed for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had surrounded remaining LTTE fighters. It is not clear, however, whether greater effort in that direction by GSL would have been successful.” “The LTTE seemed intent on holding out very end, forcibly recruiting civilians as young as 12 to continue the fight, and using their own civilians as human shields even when it appeared defeat was inevitable. In the last days and weeks of the conflict, it became increasingly difficult to differentiate between civilians and LTTE combatants. Most outside, neutral observers privately agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties. The State Department’s recent report to Congress on incidents during the final stage of the war makes clear that significant numbers of civilian dead and wounded were caused by both sides in the final months of the war.” she further wrote.

    Related news – WikiLeaks: Don’t push Sri Lanka towards Burma-like isolation – American Ambassador Butenis

    Below we give the relevant part of the cable.

    VZCZCXRO4345
    PP RUEHBI
    DE RUEHLM #0999/01 3030802
    ZNR UUUUU ZZH
    P 300802Z OCT 09
    FM AMEMBASSY COLOMBO
    TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0700
    INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 1995
    RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 9031
    RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 7269
    RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 5192
    RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 3419
    RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 5144
    RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0679
    RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 4255
    RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 9594
    RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 6888
    RUEHON/AMCONSUL TORONTO 1353
    RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
    RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 3802
    RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
    RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
    RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
    UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 COLOMBO 000999

    SIPDIS

    DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/INSB; H (pass to SFRC staff)

    E.O. 12958: N/A
    TAGS: PGOV PREL PREF PHUM PTER EAID MOPS CE
    SUBJECT: Sri Lanka Scenesetter

    ¶1. (SBU) Sri Lanka stands at a pivotal point in its modern history.
    The end of the long secessionist war with the LTTE opens up
    opportunities for national reconciliation, political reform,
    economic renewal, and international re-engagement. The question is
    whether the Sri Lankan leadership has the vision, determination, and
    courage to seize the opportunity. The Sri Lankans value their
    realtions with the United States. Our challenge is strongly to
    encourage the Sri Lankan government to embrace reconciliation,
    accountability, and respect for human rights, while trying not to
    push the country towards Burma-like isolation from the West.

    Aftermath of the Conflict
    ————————-

    ¶2. (SBU) The final months of the war were brutal, inflicting heavy
    damage on all sides, both military and civilian. Estimates of the
    number of dead and wounded vary widely, but outside observers agree
    that the civilian toll was high. Many believed the Government of
    Sri Lanka (GSL) could have minimized those casualties had it allowed
    for some sort of negotiated surrender by the LTTE once the GSL had
    surrounded remaining LTTE fighters. It is not clear, however,
    whether greater effort in that direction by the GSL would have been
    successful. The LTTE seemed intent on holding out to the very end,
    forcibly recruiting civilians as young as 12 to continue the fight,
    and using their own civilians as human shields even when it appeared
    defeat was inevitable. In the last days and weeks of the conflict,
    it became increasingly difficult to differentiate between civilians
    and LTTE combatants. Most outside, neutral observers privately
    agree that the GSL could have finished off the LTTE more quickly if
    they had been willing to risk a higher level of civilian casualties.
    The State Department’s recent report to Congress on incidents
    during the final stage of the war makes clear that significant
    numbers of civilian dead and wounded were caused by both sides in
    the final months of the war.

  • Kusum

    There is no doubt that LTTE used brutality.
    There is no doubt that Sri Lankan government used ”restraint” to some extent in the war.
    All these have to be looked at the overall atrocities about 60 years before, and 30 months after, May 2009.

  • Bo Peep

    That may be true, it could have been worse, the question is how bad was it?

    We don’t really know, but new allegations keep emerging:

    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/3039

    The real danger of a cover up is that the events of the N/E may be repeated in the South. Impossible, you say? It has already started.

    Just look at the deaths in police custody and the lack of trust in the police it has created, something that manifested itself in the Grease Yaka phenomenon and in the attack on the Dompe police. What about the killing of an FTZ worker in March and of Bharatha Lakshman?

    The rulers will look after themselves and their henchmen, like Duminda Silva at the cost of the rest of the populace.