Image courtesy 3mana

In my interview with the Secretary of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, broadcast on the BBC a week ago, his comments on the demography of the North aroused particular interest.

DBS Jeyaraj disputed his assertion that it was easy for Tamils to live all over Sri Lanka, and described as “troubling” Mr Rajapaksa’s assertion that the North of Sri Lanka should not be viewed as a predominantly Tamil place.  In his website he asked why, indeed, Tamils should not call the north their homeland; such a term need not exclude others from living there, he said.

In contrast, the senior presidential secretariat official, Lucien Rajakarunanayake, said the BBC had been “humbled” by Mr Rajapaksa as the BBC’s plan “to show… that Tamils … were threatened by Sinhala settlers” was disproved.

The BBC had no such plan but only raised the subject of ethnicity once Mr Rajapaksa brought up the subject of government agents.

Mr. Rajapaksa dwelt on the point that Sinhalese should have as much right as others to buy property in the North (something they do enjoy, as Mr Jeyaraj points out).  He did not address the question of whether the North should be seen as culturally mainly Tamil, which admittedly I did not ask him explicitly.  But he did agree with the controversial proposition – also expressed by a certain strain of Sinhala nationalism – that all parts of the country should be populated along the same ethnic proportions as the country as a whole.  In other words, if Sri Lanka is 75% Sinhalese, then the Northern Province should also be.

And he said the North should not be seen as predominantly Tamil because by the same token Colombo and Hambantota had many Tamils and this had reduced the percentage of Sinhalese there.

The interview was long, but substantial portions of it are transcribed here, including also his comments on the normalisation of the north; the role that he says the UNHCR and UNICEF have here; on threats against journalists and civil society activists delivered on state ITN television in March; and on disappearances and accountability.  Omissions are either indicated with ellipsis … or summarised in italics in square brackets.

###

Charles Haviland: What has Sri Lanka achieved 3 years after the end of the war?

Gotabhaya Rajapaksa:  [Says we have achieved a lot.  Brought normalcy. Relaxed most of the restrictions we had to impose; removed emergency and travel restrictions.]   Today we’ve removed all these restrictions and anybody, journalists, diplomats or any outsiders can go to any part of Sri Lanka.   For example … the number of Tamils living in Canada and various countries who had visited Sri Lanka after so many years and who had travelled to North, the number is amazing, it’s about 20,000 people within 6 months had come from various countries.  Actually these are the people called diaspora – the people who are living outside, who had left Sri Lanka a long time back and settled down in Australia, Canada, UK – various parts – it’s amazing to see people from 101 countries had visited the north and has gone back.  They have visited their ancestral homes after a long long time…. Irrespective of the wrong propaganda taking place in the foreign countries, they could see that a lot of people had the confidence to visit their parents, their relations and ancestral homes…

[Says fishing restrictions removed.  Areas, size of boat, horse power of vessels, were restricted because of security right around the northern coast.]  Virtually the fishing industry was collapsed.  Now we have removed all these restrictions and the fishermen can go freely on fishing…

Then there are lot of complaints on the different armed groups.  You know, to stand up to the LTTE threat, some of the groups had to be armed during this period.  If you take like the EPDP, EPRLF, various groups were armed in these areas.

CH: These were pro-government Tamil groups?

GR: These were not all pro-government but anti-LTTE Tamil groups.  Some were pro-government, some were not pro-government, but were not with the LTTE.  A lot of groups like that.  But they had arms, they were carrying arms.  As of today we have disarmed all these Tamil groups.  Today no one other than the police or armed forces carry weapons in these areas.  That’s a tremendous achievement.

[After the conflict was over there were nearly 300,000 IDPs in welfare camps.]  Except 7,000 odd people all the others have been resettled in their original places and houses.  [Most challenging problem is need to demine; lots of help from international organisations but 70% of demining done by army.  In all 90% of land demined and resettled.]  Now it is the area which was under heavy fighting at the last stages which is remaining.  Having more and more explosives in this area is a possibility.  That is why we are taking a long time to demine these areas but now we have concentrated in these areas and put almost all the demining groups into this area so that we can resettle these people immediately.

CH: Will people be able to resettle soon in the area of that fiercest final fighting, because some people say there are nasty relics there and that’s why people are not being allowed back?

GR:  No.  To resettle these people as you know it is not our decision, the UNHCR [UN High Commissioner for Refugees] has to give the clearance certificate to resettle these people.  They give that once they are certain that it is safe for the children.  [There have been a few accidents with mines.]  They are very concerned about security of the people.  But we are not keeping any of the areas.  My aim is to expedite this whole programme and settle them within 1 or 2 months the remaining area.  We are not keeping any areas restricted; they will go back to their original places.

CH: Some recent accounts from the north suggest that in fact there are restrictions still in place on things like fishing, there are still some armed people, there were some very nasty violent incidents in the north recently – and that in general the military is too powerful in the north.

GR: For groups I can assure you 100% – a lot of people visit, it’s not a secret… I’ve not got any single complaint on that because that’s something that we did…  It’s a benefit for us because why should we have any other group – we don’t want LTTE or any other group – it’s an issue for us, when the security forces are there, we have full control, why should we allow somebody whom we don’t have control, to carry weapons?  There’s no logic in that.  …  At the same time there are no restrictions on fishing.   In fact we are encouraging them to do fishing – now we are giving loans, boats, utensils, other equipments…  There shouldn’t be any restrictions on the sea because it’s free now.  [The main issue now is Indian fishing encroachment]

CH: Do you have any sympathy with those who say the military presence is too overbearing?  That they need military permission for various public events, that the military’s control of business, for instance restaurants and cafes, is actually to the detriment of the local people’s business

GR:  [These are old allegations.  I’ve instructed change.  A diplomat recently complained about one hotel on the A9 road.  That is the only one remaining and is for army people, not the public]   

CH: But the north is full of military-run businesses – the whole A9, all the way along.

GR: No.  You go today and take me any picture.  Not a single one.  I have removed all along A9, not a single army-run business.  Earlier there was because there were no other people to do businesses.  It was the request of the people.  A lot of people visited.   There were no restaurants, no place to do anything, even take a bottle of water.  That is why we started.  Now when the people have come back we want to give these opportunities to the people in these areas.  [You can see this in Kilinochchi.]    We have taken out all those businesses.  It is up to them to run the businesses.  And other thing – we are not getting involved in running day to day administration.  It’s done by the civil administration, government agents, assistant government agents etc…

CH:  There’s been some unhappiness that some of the government agents have been taken away, the Tamil ones, and replaced by Sinhala ones – in the north.  Can you comment on that?

GR: Earlier before the war, all were Sinhalese.  And it is Sri Lanka.  Any Tamil officer should be able to work in any other place …  There are a lot of Tamil officers working in Colombo, Galle, Matara – similarly the Sinhalese, the Muslims should be able to work in the north.  It is part of Sri Lanka.

CH:  Do you believe that in fact the North should be populated to the same proportions as the country as a whole – in other words, there should rightfully be far more Sinhalese living in the north?

GR:  Yes why not?  Why not?  Look at Colombo…   Even with the war going on, even with complaints that the Sinhalese were harassing Tamil … the Tamil population in Colombo, the capital, grew over 50%.  Certain 100% predominantly Sinhalese areas if you take today has become 100% Tamil.

CH: Not 100% Tamil – maybe majority Tamil-speaking, that’s Tamil and Muslim together.

GR:  No, no.  Go to Wellawatte.

CH: One Colombo suburb.

GR: Go to Dehiwala, Wellawatte, Bambalapitiya – all these areas 100% were Sinhalese.  Today – my argument is there is no restrictions – whether you are Tamil, Muslim, you can buy property in any part of Sri Lanka.  You can buy any house, you can build any house anywhere.  But the Sinhalese can’t do that in other part – in North.   Why is that?  Why such a restriction, there should not be such a restriction?

CH: But some fear – what they say is the Tamil identity of the North is thereby being diluted?

GR: No, there is not a single Sinhalese today.  [laughs]  How can it be diluted?  In 1980 when the LTTE chased the Sinhalese out of the Jaffna peninsula there were 22,000 Sinhalese families.  Today it is zero.

CH: Do you think it’s fair that Tamil people should regard the North as a predominantly Tamil place?

GR: Why should be that?  Why should be that?  I come from Hambantota.  When I was small I didn’t see any Tamil family in this area.  But today there are so many Tamil families.  Why?  So then why can’t it happen the same thing in the North?  If you are a Sri Lankan citizen you must be able to go and buy the properties from anywhere.  I’m not talking about forced settlements, I’m talking about the freedom for a Sri Lankan to live anywhere in this country.

CH:  You don’t accept that some Sinhalese people are being given more incentive and more encouragement to move to the North?

GR: So if there are not a single Sinhalese in that area that argument doesn’t stand.

CH: There are many Sinhalese in the north.

GR: Where?

CH: In Vavuniya district.

GR: Vavuniya was there a long time. Some of the old villages have been completely removed during that period.  It was an old town.  There were so many Sinhalese families, 2,000 year old families were there.

CH: But you don’t accept that the North is any kind of Tamil area?

GR: How can you give that – you can’t give any area to any particular community, it’s very unfair to say that.

CH: Secretary I want to ask about some serious human rights issues.  Since October there have been several dozen disappearances unaccounted for.

GR: No that is wrong actually.   [Says he has a document on the issue prepared for diplomats]  You are taking this from some website, no?

CH: No, I’ve met some of the families of the victims myself, in particular the wife of a man called Ramasamy Prabagaran who was abducted outside his house in March in front of his wife and daughter just after being released from police custody where he’d been for two years.  And he’s not the only example.

GR: No, there are, in that website there were about 59 names.  Some diplomat gave these names to me.  I have investigated on these names.  18 are completely false, there is nothing like that anywhere, a person of that kind or that type of reported or anything.   Some of them, yes, there have been but we have solved, we have found these people.  It can happen that people abduct people and ask for money, it happens all over the world.  …

CH: But many of them have not been solved, Secretary, and –

GR: Don’t say many.  There are some cases.  About 8 cases.  That we can’t account – they say they have been abducted but I want to tell you this… There are a lot of people that commit crimes here.  I can name some people…  Certain people who are in the underworld, who are responsible for a lot of crime and who are drug dealers who do various things here – and they escape – it’s very easy to go to India through various means…

CH: These people’s families are mourning for them, they’re not people who have just gone abroad.

GR: [Says there’s a case of a mother who reported son abducted; he turned up in Canada, committed a crime and was deported back to Sri Lanka]

CH: I’m talking about recent, real cases in Colombo.

GR: These are wrong allegations.

CH: They’re not wrong allegations because I’ve met the victims.

GR:  Don’t get angry!  Usually I get angry so you don’t get angry!  [Laughs]  Don’t get angry.  I am the sec defence.  I have investigated this.  Don’t take the word from these people.  Take the word from me.  If you ask from me, these are wrong allegations.  I have investigated these things.  These are not correct…  These are lies to give a wrong picture of Sri Lanka – what we have achieved is tremendous.  …  The peace that we have achieved here.  What is prevailing in this country is tremendous.  This is to prevent the visitors coming into Sri Lanka, the investment coming to Sri Lanka, to give a wrong image of SL by the rump of the LTTE who is remaining outside and trying to damage the image of Sri Lanka.

CH: In the case of Mr Sagara Senaratne there was an attempt to abduct him and then his brother in law who is a minister secured his release somehow mysteriously – some reports say he contacted some senior people in the government and was then released.  That’s why people think that in some cases the government is committing the abductions. 

GR: No we are not committing the abductions.  Why should we abduct a minister’s relation or somebody?    [If person missing, it’s duty of police to find them]  You must get the stories of how we have helped a lot of people.  There are groups taking people for ransom.  I can produce many people whom I have helped find.

CH: But in many cases there is no ransom  – this lady’s husband was taken just 2 days before he was due to testify about the conditions in police custody – it therefore looked like the doing of the state.

GR:  No it’s wrong.  We have not done.  It’s not necessary to do that. We have released 11,000 surrendees who had surrendered to our government.  People don’t talk about this.  11,000 who had committed so much of crimes, who are LTTE cadres, they themselves had surrendered.  We have rehabilitated.  ….  You are quoting some Prabagaran.  Why should we harass him when at the end of the war – these are not the surrendees – we had 4,000 detainees at various places – at Boosa, detention camps, the police, whom we had arrested, the army, the police, during the war period…   For so many years.  At the end we had 4,000-odd.  Today we have only 234.  These are not from the surrendees, these are the people we have arrested for various crimes.

CH: How has the number been reduced?

GR: What we have decided is rather than going through the legal procedures, after investigation, these people we have thought much better to rehabilitate them and release.  We have rehabilitated them and released them.

CH: So you’re saying there are only 234 long-term detainees now?

GR: These are the detainees in Boosa.  There is a difference in people – if they are in the remand prison that is a different category.  …  These are the people whom we have detained over the years for various reasons and who were in Boosa and various detention camps.  We have released them after rehabilitation.  You must go and see these people….  Go to Boosa.  The programme is supposed to be a detention camp – but the process that we adopt – we allow them to do their spiritual work, handicraft work, we give vocational training, then release them…  People don’t talk about the action we have taken for these detainees.  …. It’s very unfortunate to take one or two isolated cases and try to project that.

[CH asks about freedom of expression, threats against people carried in state ITN television bulletins in March] 

[GR replies: we have a lot of daily papers; freedom must be freedom for everybody.  Alleges that Channel 4 put out “wrong information”; they are enjoying freedom – that is freedom of the media.  Applies not only to one media outlet.  Why can’t government media have same freedom?]

CH: But if the government media make threats, that can lead to violence, Secretary.

GR: No, we are not making any threats.  BBC – it’s a government but you all say it’s independent.  ITN, it’s government but we say it’s independent.  It’s Independent Television Network – so you don’t say it’s government.

CH: But it has delivered threats…. do you disapprove of those threats delivered by your ITN network?

GR: …  Let me tell you.  Ours is a democratic country.  Our country has been ruled by many opposition and UNP was in power for so many years.  The SLFP, different, you know, for a long period… [ITN has had staff with varying allegiances.  So it is independent, not government-aligned.  It is government-funded but employees have varying ideas, thinking, recruited in differing eras.]   

CH: The UN Human Rights chief, as well as some foreign governments, is still pushing the notion that accountability is needed in Sri Lanka for what happened towards the end of the war.

GR: Yes, that aspect I think we have been very professionally addressed it.  The biggest allegation was about the civilian casualties.

CH: What is Sri Lanka doing about that?

GR: We have done a lot, we have done a lot….   Not only the Sri Lankan government – UNICEF had done investigation on that.  And also the investigation – satellite imagery analysis done by an American firm for Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch clearly shows what it is…  [And government decided to do its own statistical analysis or census]  From the census department, they carried out a census in this area.  [Officers were all Tamil.] 

CH: But it showed 8 or 9000 civilian deaths, something like that, so what is going to be done to punish the perpetrators?

GR:  Wrong word!  Not civilians!  Do you think – was it a battle between the Sri Lankan army and civilians, do you believe that?  It’s a battle between the army and the terrorist group which were equally armed like the Sri Lankan military.

CH: There are however allegations of mass civilian casualties…

GR:  …. Within this 7.000 odd number that includes the combatants as well!  … Do you think the army was fighting with some imaginary force?  Where are the combatants? …

CH: But the UN-appointed panel suggested  there may have been tens of thousands of civilian deaths and I want to know if Sri Lanka is going to make anyone accountable for those alleged deaths?

GR: We have accounted for.  That is why.  This is by name.  Anyone can talk about numbers – you can say today 100,000 people were dying. That is not the professional approach.  We have gone from house to house and family to family and found out who are the people who died…

CH: How did they die?

GR:  By fighting…  We lost during this period 6,000 army soldiers.  Do you think they killed themselves?  6,000 army soldiers?  There was fierce fighting.  They were equipped with artillery, mortars, guns, machine guns… [The whole world said you can’t defeat LTTE but I differed.]  So now when the Sri Lankan military fought this war and defeated the LTTE, they are not talking about the combatants.  Where are these people?   Where are the combatants?  If you fight you die!

CH: The allegations are also of mass civilian deaths and people wonder whether there will be accountability.

GR:  There can be certain civilian – there are – I don’t – but it’s not the numbers that you quote.  That’s what I am saying.  Here we have found all the people who have died in this period. By name.  By name.

CH: Is there going to be a public list available?

GR: Yes. It is open.

CH: And is anyone going to be punished where civilians were killed in a way that might violate the rules of war?

GR:  No – If there’s a violation, if can prove, then we can punish, that is no problem.  But you have to prove that.  You know – we have defeated such a terrorist group.  The worst terrorist group in the world.  Now you don’t talk about that! We have stopped killing in this country.  You don’t talk about that.  You are supporting the terrorist!  You are supporting the terrorist cause!  I can’t understand it.

CH: I assure you I am not, Secretary.

GR:  Why this…?  You must praise us for stopping this unnecessary killing.  [Says that during war, daily there were deaths, lethal nature of car bombs, innocent civilians, all ethnic groups, died.  Train bombs.  We have stopped all that.]  They have attacked and destroyed property, killed innocent people, international airport, the central bank, harbour, oil refinery, hotels, all this we have stopped, all this we have stopped.  All this we have stopped.  The last 3 years.  When we have stopped all this unnecessary killing and destruction and we have opened the window for everybody, every citizen in Sri Lanka to move forward – today there are tourists coming in…. [Business has come in; people benefit.]  Take this opportunity and move forward.  Today, take the top businessmen in SL, who are these people?  They are not Sinhalese.  They are Tamils, they are Muslim, Sinhalese, no restrictions for anybody.  Who is running the Cargills chain?  Who is running Maharajas?  All are Tamil.  They had the opportunity to do business. Who are the people?  Are there any restrictions on Tamil youths to enter universities?  No!  Go to the Colombo general hospital.  You find Tamil surgeons, Tamil physicians.  This is a time that – as a Sri Lankan irrespective of whether Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim, you as a Sri Lankan move forward – by defeating LTTE we have opened up this window.

Watch a video featuring excerpts of the interview with the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaka on the BBC website.

  • nelum

    To be fair, when i was at Nallur over about three days last month I did not see any obvious military presence in the area. Not at the temple or grounds nor in the vicinity. Wonder when this photo was taken.

    Nor did I see any obvious military presence in the market area. (May be they were under cover).

    This does not mean I am a fan of gota. Problem is no one really knows exactly what is going on in the north or in this country any more. It is only for the benefit of Sri Lanka to unmuzzle the free press so we really get the truth out.

    But it was eerie to see an army commander type person marching around with a soldier on an observance type walk (looking very formal and powerful) at keerimalai — as if to show everyone that the army was there and that they are in control.

    • Nelum,

      Why don’t you read Marisa de Silva and the account of Jaffna published in The Hindu quoted in 3 years after the end of war: Official statements vs. reality. Also read the comments by students in Jaffna University in Jaffna students speak on military intimidation. A TNA MP has expressed his views over the degree of military control here. Col Hariharan notes on 27 May,

      In his first Victory Day speech in 2009, President Rajapaksa said (made in Tamil, so that Tamil population understood him): “Heroic troops! The war against the terrorists is now over. It is now the time to win over the hearts of the Tamil people. The Tamil speaking people should be protected. They should be able to live without fear and mistrust. That is today the responsibility of us all!” Apparently, the army seems to have taken the President’s advice literally to protect each and every Tamil. Otherwise, deploying such a large number of troops mostly composed of Sinhalas, even three years after the end of what is referred as a ‘humanitarian war’ (an oxymoron phrase) is not understandable. If it is not so, why deploy such large number of troops unless outburst of insurgency is imminent in the North? As there are no such indications, such a deployment would indicate the military establishment does not consider the prevailing situation in the North as normal. Is it so?… Large scale visible presence of troops in any civilian area (I am saying from own experience as a military officer who has worked in a number of insurgency areas) always makes the population uncomfortable not only in Sri Lanka but also everywhere. This feeling of discomfort is more likely in Northern Province because during the last three decades men (and women too) in uniforms of different hues had seriously dislocated normal life (what an understatement for the war weary) of civilian population. So deployment in the North is qualitatively different from those in Colombo or Giruvapattu in the South.

      In sum, you may have spent three days in Jaffna, but the projection that this is then any basis to question the militarisation in these regions rings hollow given the accounts above and indeed, what is freely available in the public domain through MPs from these areas, or seeing camp after camp when going up to Jaffna on the A9. More valuable would have been to spend three days talking with those in these areas, and attempting to ascertain their perception of military presence and dominance – in key aspects of civilian administration and life – three years after the war ended, with no signals from the Centre that this will ease off.

      • nelum

        Dear Groundviews:

        If I had a choice I would have removed all military personnel and armed forces from Jaffna at least a few years ago. I was curious about the photograph you picked. Fact is there is no military near Nallur temple. But that is besides the point.

        I’ve also heard it been said by some people in Jaffna that some want the military there because they feel safe.

        These are difficult issues. I want the armed forces out and I have always wanted the military out. You don’t have to lecture me about the vulnerability in the presence of armed forces. I want a federal form of self government meaningful to Tamils. I don’t think you understood my point of view. But that is alright.

        My van was stopped on many occasions by the army/navy and each time it was an intrusion to say the least. I was not in any way questioning the author’s position in this and I am sorry you got your back up a bit. Pretty typical; sounds a bit like one upmanship here.

        My point was the importance of a free press in Sri Lanka. Three or four articles does not make a free press. I am sure you support me in my demand for full and complete press freedoms in Sri Lanka. Not that we will get it with this regime.

        I am with you but no one is an authority is my point. No one really knows what the ordinary person on the ground in the North wants to say. A lot of them are indeed muzzzled. And what I learned most of all from meeting with people in the North was not to claim to speak for the people of the North. Just my opinion.

        regards

      • Priya

        http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5726486695/in/photostream one of the flickr photos from May 8 th 2011 – this was how we too sw the Kovil. The above photo (undated) is linked to 3mana who linked this photo to July 5, 2011. Our visit was around August.

      • BeingRealistic

        Dear Groundview,

        Pulling out forces after 3 years of ending war is not a practical method. After all the war went on for 30 years. Forces is a must to maintain stability in the region until all required infrastructure is built and rule of law is put at its place.

        Even though western countries have the same view on this matter if you look at Afghanistan its a different story they have been their for almost 10 years. Obama him self said military is must until Afghanistan reach its ultimate goal of standing by it self. Therefore they are reducing troops gradually. Not to forget how many civilians have been killed during this past few years how many times they said sorry for the misconduct by US military.

        So lets be more practical than being a hypocrite. Let forces stay till peace and stability returns. After all there were no military operations in large scale happened after the war in Sri Lanka.

        Regards

      • Sadun

        “Apparently, the army seems to have taken the President’s advice literally to protect each and every Tamil. Otherwise, deploying such a large number of troops mostly composed of Sinhalas, even three years after the end of what is referred as a ‘humanitarian war’ (an oxymoron phrase) is not understandable. If it is not so, why deploy such large number of troops unless outburst of insurgency is imminent in the North? As there are no such indications, such a deployment would indicate the military establishment does not consider the prevailing situation in the North as normal. Is it so?… Large scale visible presence of troops in any civilian area (I am saying from own experience as a military officer who has worked in a number of insurgency areas) always makes the population uncomfortable not only in Sri Lanka but also everywhere. This feeling of discomfort is more likely in Northern Province because during the last three decades men (and women too) in uniforms of different hues had seriously dislocated normal life (what an understatement for the war weary) of civilian population. So deployment in the North is qualitatively different from those in Colombo or Giruvapattu in the South.”

        Now dear Ground Views Army has to take its Commander in Chief’s advice literally as it is what they have heard, it is the common practice as you say elsewhere not only in Sri Lanka but also the rest of the world too, otherwise it would be insubordination isn’t it. Then are you suggesting that with a population of around 74% we should have the army filled with the minorities as a majority, certainly not isn’t it, so the army would be mostly of Sinhalese and once any novice of any ethnicity enters the army he is identified only as a soldier and not categorised in ethnic terms to be deployed, a one thing the army could do here is to teach the soldiers to speak the language of the people of the area, Tamil.

        And then the word “Humanitarian War”. See the govt used the term to elaborate the rescuing of the Tamil Population from the grasp of the terrorists, which was proved with the rescuing of 300,000 odd civilians from the clutches of the terrorists. But there is another angle to this word which I guess the govt has not used that much. It is a humanitarian war in the sense that it was conducted to free the country from the frequent suicide bomb blasts carried out by the terrorists targeting civilians in the south, the people lived in the south were not sure whether their fathers, husbands, brothers etc. who gone to work in the morning would return in the evening, so it is humanitarian in that regard too, it freed the general population of the country from the fears they have experienced over 3 decades, so my opinion is it is still a humanitarian war. I don’t think you need to be reminded that the terrorists used the civilians in the north as a human shield and carried out artillery fire from amongst them.

        And as for keeping of a large number of troop still after the elapse of three years, that could have been unfair if the terror reign had say been there for only two or three years. Just take the scale man, it was there up and running for 3 decades, not three years, 3 decades means 30 years and they had all the time in their hands to plan, Plans A, B, C, D, to Z, bury weapons, send people abroad, buy ships, train sleeping agents. Read some cold war novels like Praba did, then you would find numerous plans in them, these guys were so adapt in adopting them, they even built a submarine and treated the guys to best of seafood. I would think it is fair to give another 3 to 5 years for the army to even out its presence in the region.

        Army need to build the trust with the people there as well as people need to build their trust with Army that there would not be any hidden movements to separate the country again. It’s a two way street. They were with the terrorists willingly or unwillingly, how could the army know who is a normal citizen like you and me and who is a sympathiser and who is the real one, the terrorist I mean. People would be uncomfortable, its natural, we also felt uncomfortable when the Army was deployed in the south during the JVP insurgency, but we understood it was because of the JVP actions and they are there to protect us, some mischievous things happened by overall the army conducted itself well.

        You want the country to forge ahead as one and then goes onto identify the difference in North, Colombo and Giruvapattu. Then again it was not Colombo nor Giruvapattu that wanted the country to be separated is it, so the application of any tactics would be different from those places to that of the North. It is normal practice all over the world. Ask the Indian generals how they conduct themselves in Delhi, Chennai to that in Kashmir or Punjab.

        Also if you are implying the ethnic composition of the Army then you got to understand that the war has been there for 3 decades and the main supply source to the Army has been the youth from the south and for the army to change it will take some time for the Tamil Youth to believe in the Army and get recruited and trained and be deployed in the region.

        Regards

        Sadun

    • Priya

      Nelum, I was in Jaffna last year during the Nallur festival. the army boats never entered the Kovil grounds. However, soon after on Al Jazeera they took a close up shot of army boots and said he was standing on sacred ground 😉 When I spoke to the guys in Jaffna they said that this time no robbery would take place… jolly good. I asked which robbery. Why last time some girls around 20 of em robbed gold chains and jewellery off the worshippers and guess what ? they just put them on their own bodies during the haro hara… this time we asked the army to give us protection. they came up with this great idea ( I wont tell you what it was … non military idea ) and they are giving us protection from outside the Kovil and will intervene if we ask for assistance. When the social values and structures collapse the army is needed. However, the coexistence works in some areas better than others and overall the military will have to transform its role cos new dependencies and allegiancies will mean that the framework of engagement between civilian and military will not augur well for the future.

    • shiromi Wijetunge

      My dear Nelum,
      The picture with an solider is not of Nallur.You must have gone to a different Nallur.

  • georgethebushpig

    Dear Mr. Haviland,

    Thanks for posting the full transcript. Much appreciated.

    Best regards
    GTBP

  • nelum

    I see from the link the photo is part of an article datelined July 2011.

    • Oh, c’mon now, Nelum. You can’t let reality get in the way of a good government-bashing.

      • nelum

        david blacker – its the government that has been bashing the people with impunity; not to mention press freedom and the continued decimation of the people of the north and what is theirs.

      • Piranha

        A typical David Blacker response! Keep defending the abominable Rajapaksa regime and you might get lucky with a diplomatic post somewhere.

      • And where have I done this defending?

  • wijayapala

    There are a lot of people that commit crimes here. I can name some people… Certain people who are in the underworld, who are responsible for a lot of crime and who are drug dealers who do various things here – and they escape – it’s very easy to go to India through various means…

    …or Singapore! Charles should have asked about Gota’s friend Rt Hon Duminda Silva who’s due to return any time now.

    Charles also should have asked that since Gotabhaya is in charge of law and order, shouldn’t he be held responsible for failing to counter the high crime rate?

  • Ravana

    Thanks for further excerpts. The wrong was asked the right questions and gave the occasional right answer in the wrong style and content:

    for example- Chaz is quite wrong in asserting that Tamil people should be given some special consideration ala aborigines of Australia (in fact the Aborigines are still waiting for justice many times over). What GR should have specifically mentioned is the Thesavalamai law. It is an anachronistic law which permits Jaffna land owners to keep “outsiders” out. In a modern context such a law cannot be tolerated and should be repealed. The sectarian and racists nature of the Jaffna Tamils (particularly the Vellalar) is well documented in various anthropological treatise and should be seen as one of the root causes of conflict which has plagued this island. To ignore it in case you hurt the sensitivities of a minority community will not wash. Would we today, stop criticising the South African whites regarding their Apartheid Laws which attempted the same outcome (that of protecting interests of a powerful minority).
    Same applies to a religious place in Dambulla if it was unlawfully built. It is a matter of law rather than minority sensibilities. Instead of taking responsibility under the law and doing the difficult (and even distasteful) thing, the SL politicos chose to raise the heckles of a racists mob and hide behind their robes.

    What Sri Lanka needs to do to protect minorities is not to give them a special place but to enact strong and enforceable Racial Vilification laws. This would protect minorities whether they are Tamils in the south or Sinhalas in the north.

    WRT Military presence in the north Chaz is once again right to explore this and the buffoon of a Defence Secretary did not have the fluency of language to explain his position. Partly this is because his brother’s regime is using the military as an intimidatory force throughout the island (not just the north). What he should clearly defend is the need for presence of strong Military bases in the north. This is not because there are Tamil people there. But simply it is because it historical precedence as a region which can be militarily subverted with aid from a giant neighbour. You don’t even have mention the Giant Neighbour. You would be able to make this argument if the army is in the barracks and comes out only to do exercises and a civilian police presence had been well established by now. Instead if army guys are used to play “Grease Devils” you have already cut yourself at the knees.

    WRT DBSJ- gimme a break! Are you seriously posing him as a credible agent? This is the guy who, in the very recent past put up an article undermining Sarath Fonseka and sycophantically extolling the virtues of the very same subject of this article. The bias in that article was so clear that it left the reader questioning if DBSJ is able to speak the truth at all! Now to pose another article opposing the views of his hero , because these views threatens one’s elitist background just does not wash. DBSJ (wolf in sheep’s clothing) is exactly the type of community leader from whom the ordinary Tamils of the north need protection. An important reason why SL cannot afford to ratify the 13th amendment in its original form. Firstly, people of the east will never accept being ruled by the northern Vellalar Christian elite. Secondly, it would be morally wrong to hand over an entirely population to a group of elite which gave rise to the LTTE in the first place. Instead SL should go truly for a 13 plus. This essentially means devolution to be taken all the way. The Panchayat model has already been demonstrated and had worked in Sri Lanka prior to the British in the form of Village Councils. District models based on natural resource availability has also been proposed. These are based on models with face validity or scientific merit. The North and East merger is purely based on a racist ideology that has its roots in Bishop Caldecott’s insane ranting.

    Why can’t Sri Lanka find a person more equipped to talk to Chaz Haviland than this village idiot? The answer is that Kadirigamar is dead (whilst allegedly under the protection of the best security force in the World) , Jayatileke is marginalised (and probably has other agendas) and Wijesinghe is nowhere to be seen (forget about Peris). Oh! I forgot; who other than one of the President’s brothers!!

    Look at this statement:
    “Don’t get angry! Usually I get angry so you don’t get angry! [Laughs] Don’t get angry”

    Incredible! This is the guy who was clearly mentally ill when he threatened to hang Fonseka in 2010. Now he appears much more composed. But still… even after what appears to be coaching, the mentally ill person cannot hide their underlying state entirely. It is clear that even in this interview, he is experiencing more anger than Chaz. Yet he sees his own anger reflected in Chazzy boy. But he must be medicated because he displays some insight (Usually I get angry)!

    [Edited out.]

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Ravana,

      You said “What GR should have specifically mentioned is the Thesavalamai law. It is an anachronistic law which permits Jaffna land owners to keep “outsiders” out.”

      The Thesawalami requires that if any property is to be sold out of a Tamil Family to anyone else, the first option of purchase should be given to the Family members. Amongst other things Thesawalami also deals with ownership of spouse’s property. It is a Community law just like Kandyan Law or Muslim Shariya Law.

      There are Supreme Court judgements that explain what Thesawalami is. Long ago I had the same concerns that you expressed but while debating this issue with Burning Issue my research unearthed this Supreme Court Judgement which helped in clearing my own misconceptions. Unfortunately I am unable to find this now (lost the book mark) but Burning Issue might have this as I gave it to him after finding it.

      Thesawalami does not prevent the property owner from selling that land to a Sinhalese or anyone else out side of Jaffna, in the event, the family does not offer him/her what the outsider offered. It is left to the property owner to decide whether to accept the family’s offer or reject it.

      That the Thesawalami by itself prevents an outsider from owning property in Jaffna is hence a misconception.

      The family however may be able to claim protection under the Thesawalami in the event the family’s offer being higher than the outsider’s offer, is rejected. I am not very clear on this latter issue. I hope someone more conversant with it will enlighten the GV readership about it and provide references.

      Hence please do not spread these sort of misconceptions as it very easily causes division.

      • Ravana

        Dear Off the Cuff,
        I am aware of the nature of the Thesavalamai law. Please note that I said “outsiders” and not “sinhalese” (I do not recognise the latter).

        If you read ,

        PFAFFENBERGBERRY, ANC. Caste in Tamil culture: the religiousfoundations of Sudra domination in Tamil Sri Lanka (S. Asian Ser. 7).xii, 257pp., tables, bibliogr. New York: Syracuse Univ., 1982

        The Cultural Dimension of Tamil Separatism in Sri Lanka
        Bryan Pfaffenberger
        Asian Survey, Vol. 21, No. 11. (Nov., 1981), pp. 1145-1157.

        The Political Construction of Defensive Nationalism: The 1968 Temple-Entry Crisis in Northern Sri Lanka
        Bryan Pfaffenberger
        The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 49, No. 1. (Feb., 1990), pp. 78-96.

        you will see the nature of what “out sider” means in the traditional Jaffna culture. It is nothing to be proud of (any more than that of the Kandyan anachronism).

        WRT connection between Caldwell and the Dravidianists read the following to get a time line of development of what is nothing but a fascist movement (interestingly Tamil fanatics of South India viewed the “Brahmins” in the same way that the Sinhala racists viewed the “Tamils” of Sri Lanka) :

        The Tamil Purist Movement: A Re-Evaluation
        K. Kailasapathy
        Social Scientist, Vol. 7, No. 10. (May, 1979), pp. 23-51.

        Notes on the Transformation of ‘Dravidian’ Ideology: Tamilnadu, c. 1900-1940
        M. S. S. Pandian
        Social Scientist, Vol. 22, No. 5/6. (May – Jun., 1994), pp. 84-104.

        The DMK and the Politics of Tamil Nationalism
        Robert L. Hardgrave, Jr.
        Pacific Affairs, Vol. 37, No. 4. (Winter, 1964-1965), pp. 396-411.

        You advise me to not cause divisiveness by “spreading misconceptions”. I hope you see that it is not a misconception by reading the complexity involved in how the Jaffna Tamil views “others”. To avoid facing this is to not address this fundamental problem. If we can ridicule the pompous Kandyan with no hesitation (this has been an effective method which has reduced their pomposity considerably) then why should we hesitate with the Jaffna Tamil? It is only be taking on factionalism head on that you can ever reduce communal conflict. If you are afraid that my comments will be taken up by Sinhala Racist Idiots (yes, the SRI Lankans), do you really think that they need me to bolster their prejudices?

        My comments are to the Tamils who have to learn to think and act more cleverly. They have to, because they are an elite minority and the way to defeat a mob is not by playing the race card.

  • Navin

    Gotabhaya Rajapaksa should stop giving interviews or should at least get someone to advise him on how to face an interview. Independent of what he says, he has to say it politely and diplomatically.

    Does he not understand the repercussions of these media encounters? I’m sure he accepted the interview, knowing quite well what to expect. This behavior of his cannot be excused.

    • Sam Alexander

      Navin,
      The man is simply arrogant and believes he cannot be stopped as his brother is the president of the country. He beleives he can say or do anything under the sun and he is untouchable by any one. He has been proven right so far.

      There were news items with allegations that the White van operations are under his command and any opposition will be handled politely without making a big fuss or noise.

      Do you still beleive he has to fear of you me or any body?

      • nelum

        Gota is [Edited out – no ad hominem comments] that somehow seems to run with no tracks and goes wherever irrespective – gota lost all credibility in that interview he gave after lasantha was killed. i did not comment on what he said at the beginning because i never take what he takes seriously because he cannot be believed. again he has lost all credibility and his reputation is toast. [Edited out – no ad hominem comments] except that his jokes sadly affect real and serious issues. yes the GoSL is also a joke to allow this man to go on regardless. says much about gota and more about the purported GoSL.

  • Piranha

    Gota is not going to accept any criticism and that was very clear in this interview. His style of answering questions is threatening and he showed anger whenever he was asked about the tamils, human rights abuses or war crimes. Wagging his index finger at the interviewer is an indication of his arrogance which is a well known trait of his.

    His answers do not reflect reality on the ground. Therefore, apart from reinforcing the perception of the people that he is a ruthless anti-tamil tyrant like his brother Rajapaksa, the interview has not provided any answers to the questions both the people of Sri Lanka and the international community are asking.

    As for Nelum’s post, she was only saying what she saw during her visit to the North and she shouldn’t be criticised for that.

    • nelum

      Thank you Piranha; its kind of you to understand what i was trying to say. I can take criticism. It is the hectoring and patronizing tone of groundview which was unfortunate. Especially when they claim to encourage dialogue and even differences of opinion. One never knows what to expect from GW and I wasn’t expecting much. If I had my way I would live in Jaffna just to get a fuller sense of what is going on there but it is not that simple for me. This is not the first time GW has had difficulty understanding my point of view 🙂

  • RajasH

    Hi

    Any one can live in the North and they do. In Point Pedro a Sinhalese family run the Bakery for generation.
    What is happening is that Tamil Culture is being destroyed in the pretense that North is not predominantly for Tamils

    • wijayapala

      Dear RajasH

      What is the difference between Tamil and Sinhala culture (other than different languages)?

      • nelum

        yes Rajah i agree with you 500%.

      • Nithyananthan

        Agreed and endorsed Mr. wije, Thanks, Nithy!

  • wickee

    Eventhough I’m not 100% in agreement with some og Gota’s remarks, what I believe is teh main cause of the 30 year war was the existence of prdomuinently tamil area in the north of the island which was almost monoethnic. Tamils livedd with sinhalese knew and know who they are? But those who haven’t judge sinhalese based on the teachings of LTTE.
    Dear Tamil brothers, there were hundreds and thousands of tamils were living in Colombo in July ’83. But only few hundreds were killed by (not by sinhalese though alleged) thugs of then government. Who protected and gave shelter to the survivals. Sinhalese, didn’t they?
    Please dont follow the tamil politicians in SL who are cry babies.They need the ethnic problem to be aggrovated so that they can survive politically and would not run short of rhetoric.

  • Is Gota a typo?
    [Edited out – ad hominem comments disallowed.]
    Need one say more?

  • Buddhi Passaperuma

    You may please accept the fact that he led the ‘team’ to bring the peace and harmony back to our motherland by ending the inhuman LTTE terrorism last over thirty years.
    Now, he is committed and dedicated in launching the’development war’ to bring back the ‘prosperity’ to our motherland.
    His position is that clear and has no time to waste by answering unwarranted questions raised by people who did not suffer from the LTTE’s brutal activities.
    Mr.Rajapaksa wants to ensure that such brutality will never happen again in this Country and he knows what he is doing based on his wast experience.
    We may assist him. thanks.

  • Gamaya

    I am neither a supporter of MR nor GR, but I agree with what GR has said about Tamils living outside North and East and Sinhalese living in the North and East. More than 70% of the Tamils live in so called ‘Sinhala areas’ – the term used by LTTE and their supporters / sympathisers. When the fighting erupted in the North and when LTTE activities hightened, Tamils fled to the South and settled in major towns because they felt they were safer there especially from extortion and forced recruitment. Look at athe amount of Tamil owned businesses in Colombo, Kandy and other major towns.Look at the number of Theru festivals taking place outside North and East.
    Another factor is…how come Tamils fled the country and claimed asylum return to Sri Lanka for holidays after receiving refugee status and foreign passports. During school holidays, flights from the Europe and Canada are full of Tamils. If Sri Lanka is a bad place for Tamils and Sinhalese are bad people, why then Tamils return to Sri Lanka and live outside the North and East???
    LTTE and dispora operations and propaganda are still in the hands of few people who made a living from Tamils around the globe. There are enough evidence to prove this.

  • Hasantha

    @ Piranha, Ravan, Navin and ..
    I think it is not only Gota’s style, It is the nature of MR government and the present Sri Lanka state,,, not to accept any criticism and style of answering questions… see Honourable Minister Mervin Silva, he is openly and confidently threatening…they are the real cracker type characters of the MR regime.. not the GL type people…
    @ Nelum, you may have experienced that during your 3 days, but can it be justified and is it worth sharing without proper analysis??

  • Hasantha

    @Ravana,
    small suggestion on your term “the village idiot”
    idiots may come from very elite families too, so please do not insult the villagers, you cannot justify all the villagers as GR…

    • Ravana

      “Village Idiot” is neither an insult to villagers nor intellectually disabled people. It is a well known metaphor for individuals who make un-intelligent comments and acts to the entertainment or chagrin of his friends, relatives and countrymen.

      • Hasantha

        thanks Ravana for clarifying the term “Village Idiot”. But still i think it has roots in insulting villagers and accepting the intellectual supremacy of urban elites. we have many such words in our languages subordinating women, disabled people, poor and other excluded people. We’ll try our best to avoid such terms, thanks again.

  • Jayalath

    I will agree with Gothabaya, as he has told that every one in Sri Lanka should be able to live any where in Sri Lanka , however, every one’s right and equality should strengthen and consolidate as soon as possible, unless the result of post war and the objective will be faded away.

    There will be million people to criticise around the world,about the scale of casualties or number of killings ,but as a government will know how difficult to handle all lot of allegations and muddy campaigns against the state .
    We should not simply ignore what happened in 30 years. You may remember what Tamil tigers did to us in 30 years . When Ltte bombs in Colombo areas who got killed , innocent people .They initiated this war, and always been in the upper hand .
    How many politicians were killed by LTTE? Have you simply forgotten their brutalities ? Why ?

    Please do not forget it was a war initiated by LTTE. Honestly ,the environment of peaceful citizens of Sri
    Lanka turned into a ethnic conflict by the Ltte, therefore, it is not very fair to blame the state for every single problem .
    Please looks at in fair and impartial manner over this crisis ,it seems to be sound like the government went and killed all the Tamils in north for no reason .no , it is not the fact .

    After all , now the claims for lands ., honestly , all these issues and argument s make me laugh , because the lands should be belonged to Sri lankan without different to any particular community.
    This is the exercise that we all have to practice , instead of blaming the state .

  • Tamils living in Wellawatta, Bambalapitiya, kotahena, Modera or Hambantota do not pose a political threat to the Sinhala Buddhist hegemony and power within the state. It is the predominantly Tamil North-East that challenges the writ of the state controlled by the Sinhala Buddhists and it is this geo-politics on the ground that the Rajapaksa regime is striving to change by state-sponsored social engineering. When they say that Sri Lankans buy properties and live anywhere in Sri Lanka, what they really mean is that Sinhala Buddhists can do so and others can live as their tenants but they have to likeable tenants according to Dr Dayan Jayatillake, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to France.

    • Off the Cuff

      Cyril,

      What about Sinhala Catholics? Sinhala Christians, Sinhala Hindus and Sinhala Islamics? Are you concerned only about the Buddhists of Sinhala ethnicity?

      You say “It is the predominantly Tamil North-East that challenges the writ of the state controlled by the Sinhala Buddhists”

      The North is predominantly Tamil of course
      Is the East with about 40% Tamils is also predominantly Tamil?
      Why the CUNNING combination?

      The politics of playing the underdog for grabbing Lanka’s Resources is the reason for the ethnic divide.

  • Jayalath corroborates the Dunning-Kruger Effect ~ that most voters are delusional. What do you say, politely and diplomatically when someone tries to convince you the moon is made of green cheese?

    The DATA, and the experience of the Tamil people in the North, is that it was years, even decades,of bullying of the Tamils by Singhala Buddhist chauvinists that finally drove the worm to turn. Things like Singhala Buddhist soldiers forcing schoolchildren cycling to school to get off their bikes and WALK, CARRYING THE BIKES. Very brave, that.

    Fact is, the LTTE followed the Americans: “Those who are not for us are against us.

    Yes the LTTE was brutal. Just like the Singhala governments! [Over 500 people murdered just last year, right. I suppose that is OK, since it is done by Singhala Buddhist chauvinists?]

    Get with the programme, look at the facts and stop being delusional, my dear chap. It ill becomes you. We voters don’t have the choice between brutal murderers and saints. The actual choice we have is between brutal murderers and looters one lot who have demonstrated they can govern and one lot who for decades have demonstrated that they don’t have a clue about governance ~ that includes management and organisation. All they know is to pack so-called government departments with they supporters who don’t know how to do the work required by their job. It’s called dishing out patronage. Imaging giving a woman who could be as much as SIX HOURS late a management award! Can you get more delusional than that? When the LTTE bombed the airport the organisation was superb; unsurpassed in the history of Singhala Administrations. How delusional are we to have the gall to do fly-past of the AirForce, when they did nothing to protect the capital City form the ‘enemy’ bombs. Seems the Singhala Buddhist chauvinist has not sens of shame either! More delusion.

    Brutal they might have been but they had a clear sense of justice and they could organise. Theirs is a unique achievement. No other so-called terrorist group has been able to create an army, navy and air force, a beautifully trained Police force, and a wonderfully run Medical School and Law College.

    When we vote, since we are voting not for membership of the communion of saints but for governors, my vote goes to the only group who showed they understood even the concept of governance. The only place I saw good governance in this Island since we took over its administration from the British is when I left Sri Lanka and visited Tamil Eelam.

    Jayalath, I wish you would stop living in cloud cuckoo land and explore history, I mean find out what actually happened in the sixties and seventies, and why this so-called government (can you call it a government when it doesn’t know how to govern?) burnt down the Jaffna Library?

    Sri Lanka’s tragedy is that so many are delusional; just like you Jayalath.

    • Off the Cuff

      Ranjan,

      “Brutal they might have been but they had a clear sense of justice and they could organise. Theirs is a unique achievement. No other so-called terrorist group has been able to create an army, navy and air force, a beautifully trained Police force, and a wonderfully run Medical School and Law College”

      Delusion is when Child Soldering is ignored. When the Lamp Post Murders are ignored. When the murder of Tamil moderates are ignored in order to sing the terrorists praises. Does such acts reflect a “clear sense of Justice”?

      “When we vote, since we are voting not for membership of the communion of saints but for governors, my vote goes to the only group who showed they understood even the concept of governance. The only place I saw good governance in this Island since we took over its administration from the British is when I left Sri Lanka and visited Tamil Eelam”

      Well Ranjan do you have battle scars to prove that you fought for what you believed in? Were you called upon to give up a child to become cannon fodder for the cause?

      Is brutal murder a part of good governance? According to you it is!

      • Hi Off the Cuff,

        You make two points vis a vis justice. Murder adn child soldiers.

        1) The LTTE murdered those not for them: I do agree with you that it is not my sense of justice but it is an internationally operating sense of justice. Remember I pointed out that no less an idiot than the then President of the United States of America took the view that “Those who are not for us are against us”. A primitive view of justice, but justice nonetheless, not expediency, not revenge. In the dire straits the Tamils found themselves in due to years of bullying by the Singhala Buddhist chauvinists, they took this view of justice. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone . . .

        Child soldiers: I have to confess I would not like any son I had to be commandeered into soldiering. Equally, I have to confess that I would like it even less to have him beaten up to the point of requiring hospitalisation. I am VERY CLEAR that if my choice was between these two options, I would opt for the former NOT THE LATTER.

        Now, my friend, read up on the Navanthurai incident, in August 2011. Children beaten up to the point of hospitalisation my our ‘heroes’, for having the gall to resist Singhala robbery.

        You have to learn to distinguish Newspeak (are you familiar with George Orwell’s 1984?) from fact.

    • Ravana

      Ranjan,

      I presume you consider yourself “Tamil”.
      Please note my reply to Off The Cuff regarding the Thesavalamai law.

      It is not a good look to be seen to be defending the LTTE or the Jaffna elitists.

      Whilst most reasonable people would be in agreement about the brutal nature of successive Governments of Sri Lanka, it is disingenuous to attempt to make out that these brutal Governments were specifically persecuting Tamils.

      Please keep in my mind how the same Government which permitted the July 83 riots and burnt the Jaffna library also carried out horrific crimes throughout the south in 1987-89. The greatest mistakes made by the “Tamils” was to not engage general “Sinhala” populace. They wouldn’t because the leaders were elitist and thought that they could use the lower caste/class Tamils as cannon fodder.

      Please don’t cry “we Tamil” any more. Read the references I have given and you will hopefully see how foolish the “we Tamil” movement has been. You just provide entertainment and points of inquisition for Charles Havilands of the World. In the meantime your own kith and kin (yes I include both the Sinhala and Tamil as your kin) are ripping at each other’s throats.

  • ganapala senadeera

    Ha.. ha.. ha.. 🙂

    I don’t believe my eyes when read the BBC journalist Charles Haviland interview with the Secretary of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa!! 🙂 🙂

    http://groundviews.org/2012/06/04/gotabhaya-rajapaksa-on-ethnicity-in-northern-sri-lanka-post-war/

    ————————–
    From the interview with the Secretary of Defence, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, broadcast on the BBC.

    Charles Haviland:

    The allegations are also of mass civilian deaths and people wonder whether there will be accountability ?

    Gotabhaya Rajapaksa:

    No – If there’s a violation, if can prove, then we can punish, that is no problem. But you have to prove that. You know – we have defeated such a terrorist group. The worst terrorist group in the world. Now you don’t talk about that! We have stopped killing in this country. You don’t talk about that. You are supporting the terrorist! You are supporting the terrorist cause!

    Charles Haviland:

    I assure you I am not, Secretary.

    So by asking Rajapaksa Government about the accountability of numerous civilian death in the war… one immediately is branded an LTTE, a terrorist, or a terrorist supporter??

    Is BBC journalist Charles Haviland a terrorist supporter ???

    No… I don’t think so!!

    • Off the Cuff

      “Is BBC journalist Charles Haviland a terrorist supporter ??? No… I don’t think so!! “

      Cannot be sure about that …BBC does not have the word terrorists in its vocabulary when reporting on Lanka (don’t know whether it used that word when reporting on the London bombs or 9/11)

      But for certain he is adept at distorting the truth, that is for sure.

      Read and compare the Groundviews Transcription of SF’s interview with CH and how CH reported it on the BBC.

      Would be an eye opener.

      http://groundviews.org/2012/05/23/transcript-of-first-one-to-one-interview-with-sarath-fonseka-after-release-from-prison/#comment-44745

      • Charles Haviland

        I’ve just seen Off the Cuff’s remarks here and also on the transcript of my interview with Sarath Fonseka. In reply:

        – when Mr Fonseka said “Everyone knows xxx” and this is summarised by “Mr Fonseka said he believed that xxx” I think most people would agree this is a fair usage in reported speech. In fact I did not write that report myself (you may note that it does not have my byline) but I would defend the wording.

        – I reject your contention that I am “adept at distorting the truth” or your implication that I am a “terrorist supporter”. BBC usage is not to use the word “terrorist” in any of our reporting on international outlets. You do not need me to explain the reasons why. The BBC HAS traditionally used the word in its domestically oriented outlets, mainly with reference to the IRA in Northern Ireland, although many BBC staff do not agree with this discrepancy. And the word did also slip into even our international coverage after 9/11, something which many staff were equally unhappy about and a usage which I think has largely ended. (It is still used in quoting others or in general terms, for instance in this current story: “An east London mosque is being investigated by the Charity Commission over potential links to terrorist and extremist groups.”) I myself have never used the word (except generically or in quoting others) as I have always worked for international outlets. It is not a matter of my opinion; it is a matter of BBC style, a style which I support.

      • Off the Cuff

        Dear Mr Charles Haviland,

        Thank you for your reply.
        Let’s examine how your contention stands up to scrutiny.
        A summary is not a license for distortion.
        It must contain the essence of what was said.

        This was your question
        On the subject of the war – we’ve referred to it already – a panel appointed by Ban Ki-Moon said there might have been up to 40,000 civilian casualties – civilian casualties on a mass scale.  The government absolutely rejects that.  Where do you stand on this?

        This was SF’s answer.
        I totally reject, refuse the numbers given that thousands of civilians died.  Because I knew exactly how the battle was fought.  How the military was moving forward.  The reaction of the civilians.  What were the civilians doing.  Of course a certain amount of casualties would have been there because everybody knows the civilians were also manning the LTTE bunker lines.  Civilians – there were pictures and the video footage to show that even elderly women aged 60 or 70 going through weapon training.  So there is no question – of a few civilians getting killed obviously but you can’t blame the military for that – because civilians were given weapons and put in the front line, it would not be possible  for the military to identify such people.  But the large figures of 30,000, 40,000, dying, it was not practicable.  The way we conducted the war, the type of weapons systems we used, the manuals we made, we were always concerned about the security of the civilians.

        SF rejected the high figure of 40,000 that you quoted by stating that
        1. He KNEW exactly how the battle was fought.
        2. He KNEW the reaction of the civilians
        3. He KNEW what the civilians were doing
        4. He and everybody KNEW that civilians were manning LTTE bunkers

        All the above statements are definitive statements of his knowledge, there is no room for anyone to interpret them as a belief.

        A belief is not definitive knowledge. The word belief conveys absence of definite knowledge and its use was designed to devalue what he said.

        This is what the BBC web stated.

        He said that he believed civilians were given weapons and put on the front line by rebels and as a result the army would not have been able to tell them apart.

        Where did he say anything about belief? He said he knew.
        What was the necessity to avoid using the word “Knew” in favour of the word “belief”?

        The word count in the summary would have been the same.
        But the meaning would have been different.

        How can you term the BBC version of the summary Fair Comment when it was deliberately corrupted?

        I understand that your byline has not been used but the story quotes you and you have declared that you stand by the wording.

        In the case of the SF interview, Truth had been distorted.

        “BBC usage is not to use the word “terrorist” in any of our reporting on international outlets.
        The BBC HAS traditionally used the word in its domestically oriented outlets, mainly with reference to the IRA in Northern Ireland, although many BBC staff do not agree with this discrepancy. And the word did also slip into even our international coverage after 9/11, something which many staff were equally unhappy about and a usage which I think has largely ended “

        What you are really saying Sir, is that if the LTTE attacked a civilian transport it would either be labelled as Terrorist or Rebels depending on whether that attack took place in the UK or Sri Lanka.

        To the BBC, the IRA are Terrorist but the World’s most ruthless terrorist group (recognised as such by the world) is not.

        Is this not support for the terrorist cause as long as it does not happen in the UK or USA?

        No wonder that right thinking people within the BBC itself object. This brings hope for the future, a hope that the BBC will stop even indirect support for any Terrorist cause.

        Just because it is BBC style it does not become right.

        It is unfortunate to see journalism being corrupted in this way, by an establishment that preaches to others.

      • Ravana

        Hik Hik Hik,
        Charles Haviland pretending not to be a servant of the Empire.
        I wonder what John d’Oyly would say.

        Some of us still recall how only months after the Madam nationalised the Tea Estates (1970’s), the BBC came to Sri Lanka and made the “discovery” of the treatment of the Tea Estate workers (Years later, a driver in an estate told me that the man alleged to have slept in the latrine had been paid to do so by the BBC. The man had no reason to lie to me. I was a visitor, merely being curious about the old BBC doco. This man who came from a traditional estate worker family, volunteered this information). The British companies which ran theses estates for decades presumably left these conditions. Why did the BBC not worry until the point when the “Dominion” thumbed its nose at the Queen Empress?

        Very recently, the Australian photographer Nick Ut who exposed the Trang Bang massacre (napalm) recalled the decision to publish the photo of a young naked girl running in terror. He said regretfully that even today bodies of white people are not depicted in News Stories but images of charred bodies (e.g. in a bush fire) are merely refereed to euphemistically by referring to charred remains of vehicles they were in. On the other hand, he said, bodies of South Asians strewn after the Boxing Day Tsunami were freely depicted by Western Media (actually the Western media still have some standards in respecting the dead even if they are black. Sri Lankan media do not appear to have the Western sensibilities in depicting dead bodies of its citizens at times with genitalia exposed. Perhaps it is a difference in cultural values).

        The bias of the media which is always owned by someone, at times by the state (as in the case of BBC or Rupavahini), is very clear to those of us who have sufficient intelligence and insight to realise it. It is up to the reader to discern the bias behind the journalist and his/her medium, judging by history, ownership, ethnic origin, allegiance etc. It is always wise to be sceptical of anything in the media, particularly the mainstream.

  • Jayalath

    To ranjan .

    I am very positively understand what you try to explain me , honestly , I will agree with you in many ways .we all may have similar grievances in different way. I am from Colombo and I grew up in a leftist political environment . My father was in prison From 71 to 77 , because he was on the line of freedom and equality, and again we were discriminated in 89, 90 and murdered by the government at that time (UNP).

    We are 4 boys and2 girls in the family and my father was a store keeper in Colombo municipal council .my father was unable to feed us , and spend for our education ,as a result myself and my bro had to give up education and had to find come along . I can remember that we were labourers . We were helped to mason bas as labourers to make money to feed our family and still my older bro is a mason in Sri Lanka , and I managed to learnt to cut hair and I’m working as a hair dresser . I was luck that I learnt English over time . My father taught us English as well , as a result of years hard work ,I managed to come to uk in 2002 .
    I am here in the uk now ., but we still have lot problems , because I have to look after my two kids and wife in Sri Lanka and also send money for my brothers and sisters and parents , I have no life rather looking after a family, this is how that we all are brought up .
    Did u forget that our Army killed singhala people during the 89’90 & 71 , the victims were Sinhalese ,and lost their properties . But , some one can turn around and say have you forgot what rebels did .
    However, I reminded you all these you to understand one simple thing which I would expose without any fear to any one in this planet . It is this , when you are poor and ignorance that you will not be recognised by any one or any society , it can be to a Tamil or Sinhalese or any other .this is the system of this world. Just imagine some rich buggers in Tamil community who are not bother as much as you and me do. They are better off in any circumstance ,wheather in a war or peace .
    Same proceedure can be apply to any other society or country. Therefore, what I try to tell you is not for a particular race or religion that presenting problems and grievance are quite similar to all of us , so we need to unify to defeat this common enemy , it is my message to you .
    I am willing to fight against the common enemy who try to segregate and impoverish you and me ,not for a piece of land or few people ,therefore, we need to understand it and flock around by mass to revolt against this common enemy .

    I believe this common enemy appears as patriot on and off.if we didn’t unify as whole that would easy this enemy to destroy us , so, untill the mass people realise the common enemy that we will perish over time in the future, which is inevitable .

  • Jayalath

    To Ranjan.
    Attach to previous page . (there are may occurred grammatical errors as I am writing while I work )

    You may aware an artical that I red last week , which exposed the real side of religious Sri Lanka. ( I’m Buddhist but I do not believe any religion as it a part of common enemy ) It was said every single 90 minutes a woman is raped in Sri Lanka . Do you believe it ? I do !

    By the way, I can write you about these types of things for few days without stop , but there is no time for us to do so,as we are working like slaves for the survival , but I should have told you my personal opinion as well unless it would be incompleted .
    I am personally do not agree for any type of parting the country(dividing). We should strengthen the right of people to go and living any part of the country without harresment or obstacle. It should be restored without having only in words . Provincial council system should abolish as it not address the needs of mass of people,the law should exercise suit to all citizens equally without being biased , the religion should stay away from the politics ,all religious institutions should be removed from the cities, such as statues ,temples, mosques,kovils all sort of religious buildings .
    The people should train to think scientifically, and technologically., and also educate to think intelligently. Every one should provide facilities to educate without ratial limitation ,should provide sport facilities and IT facilities to every corner of the country ,should do every thing possible to save people from the delution and superstition . ( as it way to poverty and ignorance ) I remember once , Albert einstein ( father of physic) said , the foolish authority of faith is the worst enemy of truth . We should teach people to have statues of these people in every city and if they want to worship them . So, Ranjan this is my vision , not to kill people, live as a family, respect each other, respect to your country not to hate , but we can make this dream true only if we devoted for it, unless , every other way would self destructive just like in past .
    So, it’s enough that we traped to hypocrites in past, it’s enough that we suffered, it’s enough that we deluded ,it’s enough that we caught for the politicians who robbed us ,murdered us .

    It is upto you mate! I don’t mean that you must accept me or what I believe , we all could have own perception to look around the world & make a rational decision but we should not be cynical .

    Please ,let’s start to think in new way , and our way .

    • Hi Jayalath,

      Thank you for writing at such length. It was George Monbiot who wrote that the 8 million men who died in the First World War would have been FAR better off if they had united with each other and murdered the aristocrats who put them to murder each other!!

      Similarly, I believe the citizens of this country would have been far better off if the JVP (if they had been a little freer of their Marxist delusions) and the LTTE had united in the 1970’s and got rid of the ‘Ruling Elite’ who are plundering this country.

      I understand your position, believe me. Let me tell you something. In the years before May 2009, I would occasionally get caught on foot (as opposed to in my car) on the roads of Colombo when some bigwig was about to drive past. The army louts would try to shoo me off the road like all the pedestrians were a clutch of hens.

      “Yan-ner, yan-ner, yan-ner.”

      My response:

      “Ko-hay yanner-the? U-ber-lar the-ren-ner-var-the pre-jar-than-the-var-thee ki-yan-nay mo-kak-the? Uun a-pay ver-kar-re-yo. A-pi tha-migh uun-gay pa-di-yer gay-van-nay. Ko-hay yan-ner the?

      Their retort:
      “Na-mer ki-yan-ner?” So I give my name.

      “Add-dress-a-ker ki-yan=ner?” So I give my address

      “Ko-hay-the vadder ker-ran-nay?”

      My response:
      “Aye ma-ter vadder-ker-ran-ner o-nay? Mammer po-ho-sath. Um-ber vadder-ker-ran-nay um-ber thup-=path ni-sar. Mar-ter vadder o-nay neh”

      Their reply:

      “A-ney, Sir, please yan-er”

      Now why couldn’t they have said that is the first place? Of course the bystanders would be with their mouths hanging open, aghast at my foolhardiness each time this happened, since the army louts had guns and could shoot me without any accountability.

      But I refuse to comprise my dignity.

      One question: why are you so wedded to the British innovation of a single administration for the entire island? We managed perfectly happily for the prior centuries, any millennia, without it? Why do you worship at the alter of this sacred cow? Have you been brainwashed by the status quo? I prefer to go for who has a track record of administrative ability. I distinguish between the LTTE’s military behaviour and administrative behaviour. When I went from Sri Lanka to Tamil Eelam on a visit I discovered to my surprise, I have to confess, they had a high level of administrative ability. Every INGO one talked to said their experience in Sri Lanka with the so-called Govt. was that they would say with big smiles,’Yes, yes yes” to everything and NOTHING HAPPENED. The LTTE on the other had would say “yes” to this and NO to that. But what they said “Yes” to HAPPENED. That is why the whole island would have been better off under such an administration. Purely empirical, my dear chap.

      I am very sorry that you are in the UK and your family here. They need your presence more than your money. So hope that can happen before too long. If we had anyone who knew the first thing about economics with power in the administration, it would. That is Sri Lanka’s tragedy.

  • Jayalath

    To Ranjan.
    Attach to previous page . (there are may occurred grammatical errors as I am writing while I work )

    You may aware an artical that I red last week , which exposed the real side of religious Sri Lanka. ( I’m Buddhist but I do not believe any religion as it a part of common enemy ) It was said every single 90 minutes a woman is raped in Sri Lanka . Do you believe it ? I do !

    By the way, I can write you about these types of things for few days without stop , but there is no time for us to do so,as we are working like slaves for the survival , but I should have told you my personal opinion as well unless it would be incompleted .
    I am personally do not agree for any type of parting the country(dividing). We should strengthen the right of people to go and living any part of the country without harresment or obstacle. It should be restored without having only in words . Provincial council system should abolish as it not address the needs of mass of people,the law should exercise suit to all citizens equally without being biased , the religion should stay away from the politics ,all religious institutions should be removed from the cities, such as statues ,temples, mosques,kovils all sort of religious buildings .
    The people should train to think scientifically, and technologically., and also educate to think intelligently. Every one should provide facilities to educate without ratial limitation ,should provide sport facilities and IT facilities to every corner of the country ,should do every thing possible to save people from the delution and superstition . ( as it way to poverty and ignorance ) I remember once , Albert einstein ( father of physic) said , the foolish authority of faith is the worst enemy of truth . We should teach people to have statues of these people in every city and if they want to worship them . So, Ranjan this is my vision , not to kill people, live as a family, respect each other, respect to your country not to hate , but we can make this dream true only if we devoted for it, unless , every other way would self destructive just like in past .
    So, it’s enough that we traped to hypocrites in past, it’s enough that we suffered, it’s enough that we deluded ,it’s enough that we caught for the politicians who robbed us ,murdered us .

    It is upto you mate! I don’t mean that you must accept me or what I believe , we all could have own perception to look around the world & make a rational decision but we should not be cynical .

    Please ,let’s start to think in new way , and our way .

    You have had said about the singhala governoment , and what they have done.what about the Indian government ? They gave us the fullest support to fight LTTE and wipe them out ,what about the Chinese government ,they gave all the financial support to us . Why? Do you think that they want to Sri Lanka free of terrorism ? No , not at all . They do need to spread of their power in the region , so, at least support us and claim in the future , to demonstrate the friendship toward us .

    I can remember when J.R. Was in the power in 1983 ,he lets the mobs to run over Tamil people,and their properties.
    And why it happened ? Because Ltte had killed 14 army fellows in Jaffna , so ,I’m not try to justify it ,but things happen around us for some reason .so, when we try to demand our rights that we have to be very careful, as we can be the prey of these power greedy short sighted political thugs.

    They will have no compassion & sympathy,but our religious monks and priests preach about the kindness, fairness ,sympathy,and sins & merits ,end of the day that they are on these murderers lap , isn’t it ? .
    There are not much different between the many monks and the hypocrite politicians , they are in the same boat mate , what they do is make people fool telling that you live like the way you are because of the sins that you carry from previous lives. If it is true ! To my knoledge the majority of monks and all religious preachers of all sort of religions should have thundered by day light , but it has not happened front of our eye yet ,instead those poor buggers who got killed by isunami .

    Just imagine about the politicians , they are rich ,wealthy ,robust ,and their children studies in abroad ,how it happened , they have sucked our blood ,and make swimming pools from the bloods of you & me .this is the truth , our monks know this , but they chant pirit to us and calm us down ,you know why , if these people knew the truth tomorrow , that. They will turn on them ,and kill them ,that’s why they preach you bana on the medias more than need.

    So, my mate, we do not need bana any more , we need the truth ,we need to find the answers to our problems in scientifically,methodically ,and eternally , unless our doom day is not too far away .

    The whole world is on the brink of disaster, the global warming will kill all of us before end of this century, if we didn’t control green house gases , co2 ,depletion of energy in the world would create killing each other . Rising population is the main problem and threat to this beautiful world, so, we as humans got lot to do to save our gorgeous planet, not to hate each other, this planet is all of us and it belongs to all of us ,preserve it for the people tomorrow is in you& my hand mate , the moment we fail to so , the moment we ignore to do so ,the world will mourn, this floor will mourn for ever. For ever.

    Bye,bye,

    Jayalath.

  • Jayalath,

    Sorry about the many typos in my reply: It should be vadder-kar-rer-yo for example, not ver-kar-rer-yo. Time!

    See, what we have in Sri Lanka is not a democracy. It is serial monarchy. Once the election is over, we have to stick the largest muscle in our mouth up the nether orifice of the ruler. That is the “culture”.

    I once heard the Sri Lankan ruler say on Al Jazeera: “If the government does it, it is not terrorism.”

    Nixon said this on Broadway (in the show Frost/Nixon): “If the PRESIDENT does it, it is not illegal”.

    Seems Americans and Sri Lankans have much in common. They harbour the delusion that a DEMOCRATIC ruler is above the law. With this one difference: when Nixon said it on Broadway it brought the house down, at least on the night I was present at the show; everyone was shrieking with laughter. At least they know that much about democracy. I wonder if we do.

  • Navin

    Charles Haviland:

    Gotabhaya is certainly out of his mind to call you a terrorist supporter. Someone in this forum said, he behaves so because he is the brother of SL president. Yet, I sincerely hope for the good of citizenry of this country, that he realizes that his brother is the president of SL and not that of US.

    Leaving out the wording, Gotabhaya’s answers certainly have a degree of truth in them. A truth that is sadly missing in BBC’s reporting of this country and its conflict.

  • Dear Ravanna,

    What a fascinating assumption. Why pray do you assume that? Culturally, note I say culturally rather than racially (since race is a myth and half the Singhala people, I use the term half colloquially, are ethnically SOUTH Indian rather than North Indian, the Bengalis themselves are partly Dravidian and the entire concept of race has been quite undone by tracing mitochondrial DNA to an African woman ~ so we are ALL, every single human on the planet, AFRICANS!) I am a Ruhuna chap, from Kamburugamuwa. Please see my comment to Jayalath that the common man would have done better to follow George Monbiot’s advice to the soldiers of the First World War! That way they would have escaped the clutches of the plundering ‘elite”. So yes, I am well aware of the brutality and megalomania of Singhala administrations, to anyone who gets in the way of their aggrandising.

    For the record, I’m not interested in any racial grouping. I consider race total superstition ~ used by the wily to manipulate the delusional. The topic (see above ~ ethnicity in Northern Sri Lanka) was not the bullying and brutality of the Singhala Administration in the South. It was specifically their behaviour in the North. That is why I addressed the Northern problem not the Southern one.

    You need to be careful of what assumptions you make. Colombo’s villagers are constantly doing that. It’s called gossip!

    Cheers,

    Ranjan

    • Ravana

      Hi Ranjan,
      My past comments would make it clear that I am very aware of the mitochondrial and Y-chromosome studies in Genography. In fact it would be difficult to tell all Indians and Sri Lankans apart in this genetic evidence. If you have read my previous posts, you would be aware that I do not believe in races.

      I don’t care whether you consider yourself Tamil or Sinhala or Human. It was just an assumption because you keep talking about “Singhala Government” and a very worrying trend towards justifying the LTTE by using well spent cliche’s such as how well they administered the north (beautiful police?!!! I think Off The Cuff already demonstrated that you are deluded here). In fact they had no legitimate right to administer the North. They had merely taken it to ransom. The “taxes” they charged from every bus load was ransom. The Nazis were also great administrators and they were legitimate.

      Whilst I don’t care if you identify yourself to any ethnicity (good on you!), I do care when I see repeated evidence in your writing that you worship the rightly defunct LTTE. The people who suffered the most under their reign of terror were the people of the North. I certainly acknowledge that all Sri Lankans have suffered under the reigns of terror of successive Sri Lankan Governments (they are not “Singhalese” , as you are in the habit of calling these Governments).

      By the way I find your romanized rendering of the Sinhala language rather curious. There are certain conventions you are not following. Further, why did you address the Police Officers as “Umba”? Do you realise that this is a degrading term to call and officer of the law let alone any citizen?

  • Jayalath

    To Ranjan .

    I ca n you only tell please let’s see the world in real eye ,not with others glasses . You can be said by any one any thing ,end of the day it all in your experience & knoledge .no one can judge you, you can judge yourself .

  • Luke

    Is Mr Haviland “adept at distorting the truth” ?

    Here is a collection of tweets involving Mr Haviland, BBC Sinhala, Channel 4, Tamilnet and Groundviews.

    On 25th of March
    @ 3.16pm – BBC Sinhala
    “ Minister Mervyn in cover up of VVIP’:Poddala Jayantha accuses Minister Mervyn Silva of making public statemen..

    @ 6.03pm – Azzam Ameen (BBC Sinhala)
    “BBC Sandeshaya radio program suspended by SLBC without any notice, exile journalist Podala Jayantha’s interview was to be aired

    @ 6.13pm – Charles Haviland (BBC Sinhala)
    MT @ Azzam Ameen # BBC Sinhala taken off its (expensive) SLBC FM slot tonight; exile journalist Podala Jayantha’s interview was to be aired

    @ 8.02 pm – Callum Macrae ( CH4)
    Why is #srilanka state broadcaster blocking this BBC Sinhala including this story What r they afraid of

    TamilNet reported the above as:
    “Colombo censors BBC Tamil, Sinhala services…..
    The ‘censorship’ by the SLBC comes while the Colombo establishment has stepped up a systematic campaign against exiled Sinhala journalists”

    http://tinyurl.com/clk99ta

    On 27th March
    BBC reports the real reason:

    BBC regrets technical error –
    Listeners in Sri Lanka who listens to the BBC Sandeshaya through the FM services provided by Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) were unable to listen to the broadcast for the last two days.
    This was due to a technical issue at the BBC control room.
    The signal connecting the BBC Sinhala Service to the SLBC was not activated as a result of improper scheduling after the UK clock change on Saturday midnight.
    BBC broadcast networks department said the problem was due to an error in the system.
    http://tinyurl.com/czctqdw

    @ 2.16 pm – Groundviews
    Come on @ cfhaviland Is this real reason the Sin/Tam programmes weren’t broadcast?

    @ 4.09 pm – Azzam Ameen (BBC Sinhala)
    Groundviews, SLBC announced prog suspended on air without noting tech error, their prev record of censoring made me think, Apols if misleading

    @ 4.20 pm- Groundviews
    Azzam Ameen, Understandable, but could lead to Government flagging this as key example of media misleading public, to cover up real cases.

    @ 4.21 pm- Groundviews
    Azzam Ameen, Your tweet, retweeted by @ cfhaviland went viral. Number of Int HR org’s contacted us too reg. This. So it look bad on BBC

    @ 4.22 pm- Groundviews
    Azzam Ameen, We understand imp. Or flagging ASAP concern over censorship, but lesson to check in-house tech first before crying wolf?

    @ 4.22 pm- Groundviews
    Azzam Ameen, Also flags need to have twitter guidelines for BBC staff – when you or @ cfhaviland say something, it is taken VERY seriously.

    Image of the above conversation, zoom in to read.
    http://tinyurl.com/cdwkf8a

    TamilNet, Callum Macrae and others used this story, and are still using it to attack Sri Lanka. We have yet to get an apology from Mr Haviland.

    • Charles Haviland

      A Tweeted correction by me from 26th March (perhaps you didn’t see it):

      Charles Haviland [email protected]
      #BBC Sinhala’s absence from #SriLanka SLBC FM frequency Sunday was purely down to a technical error on the part of BBC London. No jamming.

      Happy to apologise in addition to that tweeted correction.

  • Navin

    Charles Haviland:

    On 11/5, BBC carried a story on the murder of Candian Tamil of Sri Lankan origin Anthonypillai Mahendrarajah in Kilinochchi. Though there was no solid evidence indicating the culpability of the military, the story was written insinuating the Sri Lankan military in the killing.

    However, now after investigations have unearthed the real murders and the reasons behind the murder, which has nothing to do with military, BBC is no longer interested in following up on the story. Hence, the accusation that your reporting is unprofessional and partisan.

    • World View

      Like most journalists, Charles Haviland has an editorial line to follow. You cannot blame him really. The current editorial line of the BBC with regards to Sri lanka is basically “The government of Sri Lanka is evil and can do no good.” This might not be fair, but any BBC report on Sri Lanka will necessarily cast the government or the country in bad light. You’ve hit the nail on the head with regards to the story of the murdered Tamil Canadian – it is no surprise that there is no follow up on the issue by the BBC, because that would mean pointing out that the Government of Sri Lanka may not be to blame for that particular death, and we can’t have that can we? Now most journalists will react defensively when a mirror is held up to their very obvious bias and they are critiqued publicly, but the fact is that editorial lines play a very important role in how journalists report on various issues.

      • Charles Haviland

        This was put on Twitter by me on 24th May:

        Charles Haviland [email protected]
        #Lka police spx tells BBC hv arrestd 4 suspects in murder of #Canada citz Anthonypillai. “Ordinary citz, 1 prime/3 contract, motive robbery”

        As and when people are tried and found guilty or not guilty, it is quite possible our website will do a full updated story.

        Read the original story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-18039631

        It quotes the Canadian high commissioner, the police spokesman, and also Tamilnet while describing the latter as “a pro-Tiger website” as guidance for readers about the nature of Tamilnet reports. It is not “insinuating the Sri Lankan military in the killing”.

      • Navin

        “It is not “insinuating the Sri Lankan military in the killing”.”

        Unfortunately, it does.

        (1) “the town is now heavily guarded by the military.” — without the tacit support or direct involvement of the military, a crime of this nature cannot happen?
        (2) “Some reports say he had got into arguments with the military”
        (3) “the pro-Tiger website, TamilNet, said his movements had been monitored by military intelligence.” — BBC chose to mention this because there could be some truth in this, right?

      • World View

        Okay so the article is titled “Canada urges Sri Lanka police to probe murder”

        and it contains gems such as

        “For years the Tamil Tiger headquarters, the town is now heavily guarded by the military”

        and

        “Some reports say he had got into arguments with the military on the issue and the pro-Tiger website, TamilNet, said his movements had been monitored by military intelligence.”

        “This week the Sri Lankan government said it would welcome and accept refugees wanting to return from overseas but incidents like this are likely to put many off.”

        Not insinuating that the Sri Lankan military was behind the killing? Hmmm… really? Are you sure about that Charles?

  • TropicalStorm

    This is a fascinating demand. I have worked with groups of medics visiting some of the worst war affected areas since the end of the war and have a first hand experience with the role of the military even in areas that are not quite that visible.

    The military plays primarily a gound clearing, security and a secondary support role to the civil administration. Where security is concerned they are dominant and when it comes to civil issues they take instructions from the civil authorities.

    If any of you want to form an educated opinion, go there and observe with an open mind. At the present moment the armed military presence is very much needed. Economic stability can happen only in a place where safety and security prevails. Economic growth is gradually happening there, but needs a strong security presence for it to take root.

    Keep the military where they are. Our national security is our business.

    • Ravana

      Thanks for that TS,
      My earlier comment about re-establishing a police presence and the “Grease Devils” identified as Army guys still stands as these facts are reported by media such as GV.
      But I am definitely for ongoing Army presence in the North for strategic reasons (in addition to your pertinent reasons).
      But there is clearly a very poor PR strategy by the GSL in not projecting the correct image. This most probably related endemic corruption within Sri Lankan political system.

  • Jayalath

    To Ranjan . This is my email address . I would like to write you as much as you want . ( [email protected] yahoo.com ) please write me we can exchange our views .