Post-war Sri Lanka’s Thought Police: The Rehabilitation of Ex-Combatants and the Denigration of Tamil Identity: Part Two

[Editors note: Read Part 1 of this series Post-war Sri Lanka’s Thought Police: The Rehabilitation of Ex-Combatants and the Denigration of Tamil Identity here]

Introduction

As mentioned by TSA,[1]the government has prepared a lengthy, heading-less, and inappropriate questionnaire[2] (in poorly written and, at times, incoherent Tamil) which has been used to obtain information about ex-combatants before they leave Protective Accommodation and Rehabilitation Centres (PARCs). The document appears to place no genuine emphasis on emotional wellness at all; one need not be a mental health professional to see that. No information was given as to why this questionnaire was administered. The only visible indication on the document is RQ-SL (Adult).

It appears that this questionnaire was intended to capture the pulse of ex-combatants prior to their release.

Some Specifics[3]

The introductory portion of Part A tells respondents to do the following:

There are forty-two questions in Part A. None of which are “Yes” or “No” questions. Rather, respondents are expected to give scaled responses; for each question, one is able to pick from the seven possible choices listed above.

After carefully examining this questionnaire, it is clear that an ordinary person would need to spend an inordinate amount of time just trying to grasp the meaning of these convoluted questions. Unfortunately, the document appears to have been designed to put ex-combatants in complex, difficult and mentally excruciating situation. An ex-combatant could not help but feel a deep sense of trepidation as s/he engages with this document. After all, respondents were still being held by State authorities when they gave their answers.

An Ex-Combatant’s Thoughts

An ex-combatant who filled out this questionnaire said the following about the process: “I do not understand why we were asked to fill out this form. For many questions, I could not even understand the question; I couldn’t make heads or tails of this thing. As I was answering the questions, there were many times when I was unable to read closely; I was so nervous. At the time, I was seated in front of an intelligence officer and felt like I was at a psychiatric unit. By reading through this questionnaire, anybody will realize how little importance the government gives to the rehabilitation of people like us. They do not care if we are properly reintegrated into our respective communities or not.”

Statement eight in Part A is as follows: “Killing of innocent people by armed groups cannot be defended for any reason whatever.”

For starters, the term “Armed Groups” is not even defined; given the context, this is extremely problematic. There is no easy or “correct” way to answer this question. If a respondent were to show support for this statement, State authorities might think s/he disagrees with how the war’s final phases were fought and the massive civilian casualties which occurred during in 2009. The role of State-backed paramilitary groups further complicates matters, not least because some are still operational. This begs the following questions: Would State authorities believe that an ex-combatant’s response applies equally to all armed groups (i.e. military, paramilitary and the LTTE)? How would State security personnel interpret an answer to this question? What would be the response from members of the Sri Lanka Army if they were asked this question?

On the other hand, if an ex-combatant were to show his/her disapproval of such a statement, State authorities may accuse the ex-combatant of defending the LTTE and their release might become indefinite. Either way, the ex-combatant is left in a difficult position.

For the eighteenth statement, ex-combatants are asked to assess the following: “Those who not follow Tamil Tigers will be punished.”

It is unclear whether the time period alludes to a moment before the war, during the war, the present, or the future. This appears to be a deliberately confusing statement. It seems that the question was designed to gauge an ex-combatant’s current support for the LTTE.

If an ex-combatant does not support this statement, military personnel may infer that this person willingly joined the LTTE. Again, the fact that it is unclear whether this statement reflects the past or the present invariably generates an enormous amount of confusion.

In addition, it appears that many statements in the questionnaire are meant to discern how ex-combatants perceive questions surrounding crimes against humanity, violations of international human rights and violations of international humanitarian law. The questionnaire may also have an ulterior motive: to justify State-sponsored terrorism.

The twenty-second statement in Part A says: “Only killing out of revenge is murder under the law.”

The twenty-fifth statement for assessment is as follows: “The Sinhala People crush and disregard the Human Rights of the other race.” Respondents would need to tread carefully here as well. Were respondents to show even a moderate amount of agreement with this statement, they would surely face extended detention, heightened intimidation or worse.

For number forty-one in Part A, ex-combatants are asked to assess the following statement: “Sinhala people are generally pleasant talkers.” Again, what would be the value of an ex-combatant voicing any disagreement with a statement of this nature? Would State security personnel (almost all of whom are Sinhala) be happy if an ex-combatant were to disagree with such an assertion? Are State authorities expecting (or even hoping) that ex-combatants show racial hatred towards Sinhala people? It is likely that these ex-combatants’ most extensive interactions with the Sinhala community has occurred in the PARCs. This type of statement contributes to profound suspicions that many people harbor about the government’s approach towards national reconciliation.

Repeatedly during interviews, ex–combatants told TSA that they had a lot of trouble responding to this questionnaire and that, on several occasions, they did not understand what was going on.

The twenty-seventh statement in Part A notes: “Countries have taken the task of destroying the world.” Even to a highly educated reader, this is an inscrutable statement. Is this a reference to all countries or only certain countries? What could the “correct” answer possibly be?

The thirty-ninth statement in Part A asks ex-combatants to assess the following sentence: “There are various ways to put forward matters to the Tamil people without wounding them.”

On numerous occasions, ex-combatants who were released have told TSA that they worry that the government still thinks they are trying to create a separate state in the country’s North and East. Accordingly, it comes as no surprise that the last section of Part A includes the following: “Why did people request to wage a war For a separate state.” This is followed by “What will you do for the Tamils and to what extent will you render your support.”

Conclusion

This questionnaire is detrimental to the reconciliation process. The fact that the questionnaire is an official government document makes matters even worse. When it comes to reconciliation, the government’s rhetoric continues to fall short of reality. Nevertheless, it is still disappointing to see that such nefarious intentions appear to have official State approval.

###

Parts A-C of the questionnaire in Tamil and English

Questionnaire in Tamil

Questionnaire in English


[2]TSA’s translation of this questionnaire has been rendered with careful deliberation. These translated statements are meant to accurately represent what has been written in Tamil; grammatical corrections have not been made since that would have diluted the essence of the original document. These translated statements are neither fabrications nor embellishments.

[3]TSA is publishing Parts A-C of the questionnaire along with this article. The entire questionnaire (in both Tamil and English) will be published next week.

  • veedhur

    The murder of tamil language in the questionnaire is sad. Certainly does not bode well for reconciliation.

    Unless the questions had been explained, it is difficult to understand some of them. Not sure how much one could read into responses to questions one doesn’t understand.

  • Calleigh McRaith

    The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention classifies coercive administrative measures as “inherently arbitrary” if their purpose is “mainly political and cultural rehabilitation through self-criticism.” (See Deliberation Number 4, available at http://www.unhchr.ch/Huridocda/Huridoca.nsf/0/3833668148f7c59e8025676700394a9b?Opendocument).

    The questions released do not seem to have any purpose for counseling or occupational training (the stated goals of the rehabilitation program). Instead they send the message that there is a right and wrong answer on these questions of political opinion, a tactic that is definitely outside the realm of internationally accepted methods of rehabilitation.

    The government can’t “rehabilitate” someone for having a different political opinion than the majority party.

    • wijayapala

      they send the message that there is a right and wrong answer on these questions of political opinion

      Explain.

      • Calleigh McRaith

        For example, question 8: “Killing of innocent people by armed groups cannot be defended for any reason whatever.” Agree or disagree? This is political opinion, people all over the world disagree about what the right answer is to this. The Sri Lankan military is an armed group, and they killed innocent people. So has every other country. In fact I’m guessing most people in the world,apart from true pacifists, would say that there are a few legitimate reasons for killing innocent people (like if you have to stop a nuclear war by bombing a manufacturing plant, even though some innocent workers would be killed or something).

        Yet in this context, what ex-cadre would feel comfortable saying that they disagree with that statement? Who feel free to say, while detained in a rehabilitation center, that they think sometimes killing innocent people is ok? Especially when you do not know if your release is dependent on your answers. So people will adopt the political opinions they think the government wants them to have.

        Look at how many questions in that survey are about forming a separate state – advocating for a separate state is a political opinion. It is not (or should not be) a crime to think that Sri Lanka might be better off as two countries. Functioning democracies might control how someone goes about pursuing that opinion (i.e. encourage people to use political avenues, not violence), but in a truly free country you should not have to worry that your political opinion is punishable just because it is different than what the government wants you to think.

        Sri Lankan Constitution, Article 10 – Every person is entitled to freedom of thought…

      • wijayapala

        Dear Calleigh

        For example, question 8: “Killing of innocent people by armed groups cannot be defended for any reason whatever.” Agree or disagree? This is political opinion, people all over the world disagree about what the right answer is to this.

        I am amazed that you picked the most straightforward question of all to criticise. It is a fairly universal belief that the killing of innocent people cannot be defended. If you disagree with that, then why is Sri Lanka being targeted by the UNHRC?

        but in a truly free country you should not have to worry that your political opinion is punishable just because it is different than what the government wants you to think.

        Could you then please provide a list of “truly free” countries?

        http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/17/nyregion/17suicide.html?pagewanted=all

        Also, could you share with us a country that faced a similar situation as Sri Lanka and handled it better?

    • Off the Cuff

      Calleigh McRaith,

      “The government can’t “rehabilitate” someone for having a different political opinion than the majority party”

      Is bombing public transport to indiscriminately kill civilians and use of terror against civilians a political opinion?

      In that case how do you explain the reaction to a few bombs in London by the Brits?

      Why was Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes shot in the head seven times at Stockwell tube station on the London Underground by the London Metropolitan police? Was it to rehabilitate him for carrying a knapsack?

      Did the SL security forces go about shooting Tamils on mere suspicion, in like fashion to the London Metropolitan Police, because they were going to board public transport with baggage, even with the large number of bombs that targeted Public transport in SL?

      Please don’t write like an [edited out] Mr. Mc Raith

      • Calleigh McRaith

        I have met with the Sri Lankan government to discuss this issue. Most of the people who were in rehabilitation were forced recruits who did not take place in any operations (over 6,000 people in rehabilitation had been short-term forced recruits, taken by the LTTE and forced into doing jobs like kitchen staff or bunker digger).

        The vast majority of the people who did criminal acts like the ones you are describing are in Boosa – not rehabilitation.

      • Off the Cuff

        Calleigh McRaith,

        Is it your contention that 6000+ of the 11,989 combatants that surrendered were just innocuous cooks and bunker diggers for the LTTE?

        How many did the fighting with lethal weapons to need a support staff of 6000 + cooks and bunker diggers? Must have been quite an army!

        Do you think your audience consists of simpletons to believe that the LTTE did not use 6000+ adult recruits in operations when they forced even 8 year old children to fight?

        These combatants have been brainwashed by the LTTE for 3 decades and needed rehabilitation before letting them lose amongst the general populace that they killed indiscriminately just 3 years ago.

        You are trying to use a questionnaire (that is actually a measurement tool to assess the psyche of those who underwent rehab), to throw mud and vilify a rehab effort, that the GOSL has spent Rs 2.5 Billion on. Money that it could ill afford and could have spent elsewhere for development, if it did not care for the misguided Tamil youth.

        You have also avoided commenting on the comparison I made re the British reaction (shooting to kill on mere suspicion) and the SL reaction (non use of deadly force on mere suspicion) towards terrorist attacks on Public Transport.

        Unless you can prove otherwise, it seems that you have an ulterior motive in your lopsided comments on GV, in supporting a racially charged article written by a set of people who do not even have the backbone to defend what they have written.

        It is foolhardy to assume that the GV readership do not posses the intelligence to see through vile motives.

      • myil selvan

        “Is it your contention that 6000+ of the 11,989 combatants that surrendered were just innocuous cooks and bunker diggers for the LTTE?”

        Well if that is the truth, so be it. The Tigers have used civilians to do work such as digging bunkers and cooking, etc. It has happened before. The government took in anybody who was flimsily attached to the LTTE. The government murdered people who had helped organize the Pongu Thamil event after december 2005 just because they provided organizational help.

        “How many did the fighting with lethal weapons to need a support staff of 6000 + cooks and bunker diggers? Must have been quite an army!”

        They didn’t have quite an army that’s why they needed every man and woman they had on the battle field, while using civilians to do the cooking. But they also forced civilians to fight because they didn’t have the man power.

        “Do you think your audience consists of simpletons to believe that the LTTE did not use 6000+ adult recruits in operations when they forced even 8 year old children to fight?”

        The way you are responding looks childish! They have used children in operations in the past. But you shouldn’t mix past operations with the last one.

        “These combatants have been brainwashed by the LTTE for 3 decades and needed rehabilitation before letting them lose amongst the general populace that they killed indiscriminately just 3 years ago.”

        If they have been brainwashed for 3 decades how old are they now? In their 40’s? :-)
        They were NOT released amongst the sinhala people but were released to their owm hometowns and places of residence. Then they are monitored with frequent visits and having to report weekly to army camps. These combatants didn’t kill general populace indiscriminately they were recruited during the final stages of the conflict as the LTTE were running out of manpower.

        “You are trying to use a questionnaire (that is actually a measurement tool to assess the psyche of those who underwent rehab)”

        If it was really to measure the psyche the questions would have been grammatically correct and understandable. This doesn’t show any real interest in measuring psyche.

        “to throw mud and vilify a rehab effort, that the GOSL has spent Rs 2.5 Billion on. Money that it could ill afford and could have spent elsewhere for development, if it did not care for the misguided Tamil youth”

        Is the government actually paying for it or is it another foreign NGO that’s helping the sinhala government? The government is struggling for money, so where is it coming from? I don’t think you can call it a rehab effort.

        “You have also avoided commenting on the comparison I made re the British reaction (shooting to kill on mere suspicion) and the SL reaction (non use of deadly force on mere suspicion) towards terrorist attacks on Public Transport.”

        What rubbish! the British incident was a rare one in these modern times. On the other hand the Sri Lankan government has been killing Thamils on mere suspicion ever since the beginning of this conflict. Tamils were also killed just because they were Thamils like in 1956, 58, 1977, 1983, 2006. Anybody convicted for 83 riots? Anybody convicted for Bindunuwewa massacre? The List goes on. Read uthr.org to find out more.

        “Unless …… GV, in supporting a racially charged article written by a set of people who do not even have the backbone to defend what they have written.”

        The article is not racially charged, it is analyzing the government questionnaire which isn’t about reconciliation?

        “It is foolhardy to assume that the GV readership do not posses the intelligence to see through vile motives.”

        Vile motives seem to be yours since you are unnecessarily getting worked up.

        Your racist prejudice is showing. You will do well to be more discreet. Besides, get your facts straight.

      • Calleigh McRaith

        I am sorry for not giving a full response to your shoot-on-suspicion comparison. I think that was wrong too. I do not, however, think that just because Sri Lanka is “less wrong” (detained instead of killed) that it makes it right.

        If you doubt the number of people in rehabilitation who did not take part in any violence, here are the numbers and proposed rehabilitation actions, straight from MoD. I can forward you the email if you want. I don’t think it is fair to assume everyone in rehabilitation was some blood-crazed killer, that’s all.

        The top three categories are the ones most involved in operations or attacks – most are in Boosa. The bottom two categories F and G (over 8,000 people) went to rehabilitation even though they had never taken part in any operations – those are the ones I was referencing that had jobs like drivers and cooks and bunker diggers. It is my understanding that most of F and G were forced recruits – many taken in the final weeks of the war, not years before.

        A – Senior LTTE Leaders – Legal actions to be taken
        B – Other LTTE Leaders – Legal actions to be taken
        C – LTTE members extensively took part in operations / attacks – Legal actions to be taken
        Combined total: 1,351 individuals (889 currently held in formal detention)

        D – General LTTE members (military wing) – Long term rehabilitation
        E – General LTTE members (not military wing) – Long term rehabilitation
        Combined total: 2,325 individuals

        F – Members underwent military training, but did not take part in any operations / attacks – Short term rehabilitation
        Total: 6,090 individuals – rehabilitation appears to have been typically one to two years, with many serving the maximum time allowed without a court order (May 2009-October 2011).

        G – Other members forcibly used by the LTTE
        Total: 2,216 individuals (typically released after 1 year)

      • Off the Cuff

        Calleigh McRaith,

        You wrote “I am sorry for not giving a full response to your shoot-on-suspicion comparison. I think that was wrong too. I do not, however, think that just because Sri Lanka is “less wrong” (detained instead of killed) that it makes it right”

        Both the UK govt and the SL govt acted to safeguard the general public.
        The Prime concern with both govts were the Civilians.

        The UK response was barbaric.
        The SL response was not.
        UK’s response is irreversible while SL’s is not.
        There were humane alternatives for UK.
        There were no other alternative for SL.
        Hence please explain how you can term “Sri Lanka is less wrong……” which is an oblique way of saying that she is wrong to have even detained them.

        Are you serious about Human Rights?
        If so, have you gone on a crusade about UK’s barbarism?
        Are the Rich and the Powerful exempt from your righteous anger or are you only interested in the lucrative business of fishing in troubled waters in the weaker and poorer countries of the world?

        “I don’t think it is fair to assume everyone in rehabilitation was some blood-crazed killer, that’s all”

        There were Blood Crazed Killers amongst the IDPs that numbered 300,000+.
        How do you propose to weed them out?
        With an Yes or No question?

        It is foolish for anyone to assume that all of them were blood crazed killers but it is more foolish to assume that the Blood Crazed Killers exempted anyone from their brainwashing programs.

        Rehab is aimed at deprogramming and is necessary to protect the general public, which in this case exceed 21 million.

      • Off the Cuff

        Myil Selvan,

        You say “But they also forced civilians to fight because they didn’t have the man power.”

        You are right this time. Hence unfortunately they got killed and you have only the LTTE to blame for it

        You say “The way you are responding looks childish! They have used children in operations in the past. But you shouldn’t mix past operations with the last one”

        Well Myil, have a good look in the mirror.
        This time round they used not only the children but a whole populace. Children, infants, pregnant women, old people, the sick and the infirm … the whole lot, to hide behind and shoot at the SLA. I trust you have the intelligence to gauge the result.

        You say “If they have been brainwashed for 3 decades how old are they now? In their 40?s? :-)

        Wow where did that come from?
        Super intelligent Myil, I am lost for words.
        Those who were under 10 would be in their 40’s for sure.
        What about those who were above 10?
        What about those who were born during the three decades?
        Do you believe that the LTTE used forced birth control?
        Any more observations about being childish? Ha ha haa.

        You say “Is the government actually paying for it or is it another foreign NGO that’s helping the sinhala government? “

        Any evidence to the contrary?

        You say “ The government is struggling for money,….. “

        That’s why spending Rs 2.5 billion on terrorists that wanted to destroy the country is highly commendable.

        You say “so where is it coming from? “

        Not from the moon definitely, so has to be the govt.

        You say “ What rubbish! the British incident was a rare one in these modern times “

        Ha ha haa please write sense Myil. Suicide bombing in SL would have been rare too, had SL followed the Brits example.

        You say “Unless …… GV, in supporting a racially charged article written by a set of people who do not even have the backbone to defend what they have written.“

        Please don’t be dishonest. Do not change the context to mislead the readership. GV is not the subject.

        It is racially charged and TSA has still not responded to my comment addressed directly to them.

        You say “ Vile motives seem to be yours since you are unnecessarily getting worked up.
        Your racist prejudice is showing. You will do well to be more discreet. Besides, get your facts straight “

        The foregoing extracts from your own post amply demonstrate who is prejudiced and runs the extra mile to excuse even the patently barbaric act of the Brits in shooting Seven times at the head of an innocent civilian, just because he carried a knapsack when boarding a train.
        After the first bullet he was already dead.
        The other six bullets was due to hate.
        Hence, I believe, heeding your own advise would be a prudent course to follow.

        Cool down Myil, as your comments amply demonstrate, haste makes waste.

    • Navin

      Calleigh McRaith:

      Sadly, it is very clear that you are twisting things for your own ends. The question 8 is asking about killing civilians on purpose. In recent times only David Miliband, the foreign minister of UK said that killing civilians is justified for achiving political objectives (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1206833/David-Miliband-There-circumstances-terrorism-justifiable.html).

      The question is clear and has a straightforward answer. Anyone who does not come clean on this point needs further rehabilitation.

      • myil selvan

        Since you cited David Miliband as an example, it seems the question isn’t straightforward.

        And what do you mean by further rehabilitation? Is there really any rehabilitation taking place?

        Without accusing others of twisting the facts, why don’t you get yours straight first!

      • Calleigh McRaith

        You are right – I regret choosing such a charged question. I did not realize it would cause such a stir, or I would have explained more carefully. The ones on separate state are more clearly what I would consider political opinions (see question 26). IF the goal of the rehabilitation program was deradicalization in form of getting everyone to say they no longer believe in a separate state, then I think that is trying to change political opinions. Stopping people from using violence is a fine goal, trying to get them to say they no longer want a separate state is not. That is my view. Now figure out from the government if that was their goal – I can’t answer that and neither can one questionnaire.

        I chose that example (question 8) as one where ex-cadres would not feel comfortable expressing what they really thought – where they would feel like they HAD to say the agreed with that statement even if they did not. And I do think if you read the question on its face, you will see many people commenting have been reading in assumptions. The question says “Killing of innocent people by armed groups cannot be defended for any reason whatsoever.” It does not say “on purpose” and it does not say “terrorist groups” – I would read that statement to include government militaries…who do kill innocent people and who do justify it all the time. I do not think it is a black and white question unless you read in that they are talking only about acts of terrorism.

  • karuna

    Is this a Government document? poor people.

  • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

    This entire article is a load of BS. I don’t think the SL Army has a bunch of paid moral philosophers who make those questions and expect LTTE ex-combatants who knows nothing about metaethics to give well reasoned definitions as what is moral and what is immoral. Just guess the expected answer, write it and go. Don’t worry about the right answer.

    To put things into perspective, those people scared the hell out of lot of people just two three years ago by murdering monks and women and children. I think it is fair to command them to take a sheet of paper and write “I WILL NOT KILL AGAIN” a five hundred times.

    You can’t look past of everything in the name of reconciliation. Torture is one thing. This something else.

    • Nelum Bandara

      Punishment cannot be easily formulated for structural violence:

      Jayantha Dhanapala’s submission to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC), August 2010: ‘’Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality. Our inability to manage our own internal affairs has led to foreign intervention but more seriously has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group of our citizens.”
      ”But that truth cannot excuse human rights violations that currently afflict the nation as a whole; or for that matter obscure the looming threat of the cultural and political colonisation of the north by the Sinhala Buddhist majority” – Biased and Prejudiced Collection on Sri Lanka, *Gananath Obeyesekere, Economic & Political Weekly, VOL 47 No. 04, 28 January-03 February 2012

      • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

        Nelum,

        I don’t get you. Can you explain “Punishment cannot be easily formulated for structural violence:” means?

    • myil selvan

      “This entire article is a load of BS. I don’t think the SL Army has a bunch of paid moral philosophers who make those questions and expect LTTE ex-combatants who knows nothing about metaethics to give well reasoned definitions as what is moral and what is immoral. Just guess the expected answer, write it and go. Don’t worry about the right answer.”

      How childish. It is easy for you to say “Don’t worry about the right answer” because your life doesn’t depend on it. This is the kind of selfish insensitivity that has led to all these problems.

      “To put things into perspective, those people scared the hell out of lot of people just two three years ago by murdering monks and women and children. I think it is fair to command them to take a sheet of paper and write “I WILL NOT KILL AGAIN” a five hundred times.”

      Maybe you should be commanded to write “Is it helping reconciliation” 500times for you to get it. The Sri Lanka army murdered more children and women than the LTTE ever did. Don’t forget the Christian and Hindu clergy killed by the SLA. Oh and don’t forget the monks who are terrorizing the Tamils in Ampara and the Muslims in Dumbulla and other parts of the country.

      Don’t you think your sinhala goons scared the hell out of Tamils in 1958, 1983, 1977, 2006? What about the white van abductions? Who is doing that, is it the UN or Red Cross or postal workers? Why don’t you think in depth before you blurt out stuff.

      “You can’t look past of everything in the name of reconciliation. Torture is one thing. This something else.”

      That is your sad understanding of the subject matter. Is it reconciliation in the first place?

      • Human

        The interest of Sri Lankans lies first and foremost in people who consider themselves Sri Lankans. If for whatever reason individuals living within the borders of Sri Lankan consider themselves of some other nationality and actively attempt to create this nation by carving territory out of Sri Lanka, we Sri Lankans are not interested in their well being. :D

      • http://brainoil.wordpress.com sharanga

        myil,

        “How childish. It is easy for you to say “Don’t worry about the right answer” because your life doesn’t depend on it.”

        Yeah, it is easy. So I say it again. Those who intentionally killed unarmed civilians when they could have indeed avoided doing it, do not have any reason to worry about the right answer. Obviously, they didn’t do a lot of moral reasoning before they bombed a tuition class in Nugegoda and killed a lot of A/L students.

        “Maybe you should be commanded to write “Is it helping reconciliation” 500times for you to get it. The Sri Lanka army murdered more children and women than the LTTE ever did.”

        Oh, so reconciliation is our highest priority, so we should look past the fact that those people actually killed unarmed civilians when they could have avoided it? What you are doing is exactly what the LTTE did during the last phase of the war. They used civilians as shield. Here, you’re trying to use reconciliation as a shield. No sane person could be oblivious to this fact.

        “Don’t forget the Christian and Hindu clergy killed by the SLA. Oh and don’t forget the monks who are terrorizing the Tamils in Ampara and the Muslims in Dumbulla and other parts of the country.”

        So since a bunch of monks terrorize the Tamils in Ampara and Muslims in Dambulla, it is okay to kill all unarmed monks by shooting them down with machine guns. Very good myil. Brilliant reasoning.

        Don’t you think your sinhala goons scared the hell out of Tamils in 1958, 1983, 1977, 2006? What about the white van abductions? Who is doing that, is it the UN or Red Cross or postal workers? Why don’t you think in depth before you blurt out stuff.

        How does any of that justify unarmed civilians when it could’ve been avoided? Those people, who are now asked to fill those forms, were terrorists. Do you know what terrorists do? They terrorize. It goes far beyond bombing a bomb factory near a civilian hospital. That kind of thing may be necessary during a war. Terrorist go out of their way to bomb a tuition class and kill the kids in it. That is the kind of people we are dealing with here.

        “That is your sad understanding of the subject matter. Is it reconciliation in the first place?” <- this was in response to me saying "“You can’t look past of everything in the name of reconciliation. Torture is one thing. This is something else.”

        I tell you what. I know two things.

        1. The people who are filling those forms would prefer it to torture.
        2. Reconciliation for you is a shield. Nothing more.

  • Buddhika

    This is simply psychocide.

  • Silva

    Dear psychologists
    Please step in.

  • nathan

    In the same spirit of the questions asked. “If a Sinhala says 2+2=5, what is 2+2 for a Tamil?” And the fools who dare to say “4” can be incarcerated forever/bumped off.

  • Silva

    Mhhh…..
    SWRD Bandaranaike took about 60hrs to declare emergency in 1958 riots
    and JR Jayawardene took about 90 hrs to declare emergency in 1983 riots.

    Hatred for the ‘other’ is going deeper and deeper……..

  • Off the Cuff

    The Social Architects (sic)

    Your first article was queried on 22 June.
    You have no answer to date.

    Today you have come out with another load of trash.

    11,989 LTTE combatants underwent rehabilitation up to April 2012.
    10,490 of them have already been released up to April 2012.

    How many of the 10,490 that were released, were interviewed?

    Since ALL those who were released have answered the questionnaire, in order to qualify for release, how do you explain the very high number (87.5%) that have already been released (assuming your arguments are true)?

    Paramanathan Thulakshi is a rehabilitated ex LTTE cadre, who had been forcibly conscripted. She had passed her AL’s and was awaiting entry to university.

    “I was visiting a relative with my mother and sister on that fateful day, and when we were returning home, the terrorists abducted me. I was made to work for the LTTE medical corps treating wounded cadres. There were numerous occasions I cried in fear and anguish. They never showed me any compassion. In June 2009 I surrendered to the SL army, and was taken to a rehabilitation centre. I was very well looked after there and all my misconceptions about the government forces soon vanished, as I was treated with respect, dignity and compassion. We were also taken to other parts of the country during our stay at the rehabilitation centre, and we were able to experience the hospitality and acceptance of the southern people,”

    Joseph Thirumani Christine is another ex LTTE cadre. “I was abducted and forcibly conscripted toward the latter part of the war in 2008. I was at a friend’s place when they abducted me. I have a younger brother and now I am 25 years old. I escaped from the terrorists in 2009 and surrendered to the army in Mulaitivu. I was then sent for rehabilitation, and have been well looked after. We have been provided vocational training skills to enable us to find employment.

    The Govt is reported to have spent Rs 2.5 Billion on rehabilitation (Indian Express) and is reported to be underwriting 10 year loans at 2% interest for self employment.

    TSA what exactly is your motive?

    Re your first article

    You have written, “Most questions are largely unrelated to mental health and/or rehabilitation. The fact that ex-combatants are being forced to respond to such queries under duress is immoral and hugely detrimental to the reconciliation process”

    The Rehab process, as the name implies, is designed to alter the Psyche of members of a group that waged war against the Civilians and the State and was bent on Murdering, maiming and blowing to bits these Civilians by bombing public transport and subsequently machine gunning the survivors. The victims included school children, pregnant women, the sick and infirm, Tamils, Muslims, Sinhalese, Malays, Burghers, etc.

    These LTTE combatants even maimed and tortured their own people (lamp post killings etc) and abducted Tamil children to be used as cannon fodder. They are on record of being guilty of shooting Tamil civilians of the Vanni in the back and of amputating them for attempting to dessert the human shield. They also suicide bombed the Vanni Tamils who managed to escape their clutches and had sought safety in govt areas.

    The above is a small cross section of the Psyche of the detainees in question, as it existed under the LTTE.

    The Psyche is defined as the specialized cognitive, conative, and affective aspects of a psychosomatic unity : mind; specifically : the totality of the id, ego, and superego including both conscious and unconscious components.

    TSA states “For example, the eleventh question in Part A asks ex-combatants to assess the following statement: “Those who elect Tamil Members of Parliament are LTTE supporters.” Based on the abovementioned statement, the government’s logical deduction is that any Tamil parliamentarian is a supporter of the LTTE”

    The inference the TSA has reached, from a sentence designed to asses the current psyche of these combatants, whose state of mind did not have any demonstrable humanity within them, while under the LTTE, is to say the least, illogical.

    I believe the TSA intended to get the rabid sections of the rump LTTE to start spewing hatred within GV columns. As can be observed, it is an objective they have successfully achieved.

    I trust that the TSA will explain how LOGIC was used in arriving at their sensational inference.

    • Ward

      It is extremely unfortunate that from the time of independence till today the ethnic minorities have been shown inhumanity by successive governments in our country. The illogical words and unreasonable deeds of politicians have led some people like Offthecuff to be ignorant of international norms and to believe that it is acceptable to change forcefully the political views of people under arrest.

      They have no chance of learning the logic that the only way of changing the political views of oppressed people is for the government to stop oppressing them.

      • Off the Cuff

        Ward,

        What is extremely unfortunate is your inability to separate political views from gross terrorism. Attacking Public Transport with the intention of causing the maximum possible death and destruction to civilians is terrorism.

        The persons that have undergone the rehab process are terrorists who have been brainwashed to accept terrorism as a way of life for 30+ years.

        There are only two options left for a govt in dealing with them.

        1. Keep them incarcerated, isolated from the civilians, the targets of their murderess intent

        2. Try to rehabilitate them and wean them out of 30+ years of brainwashing before releasing them in to the general populace.

        The govt has decided to use the second option at the cost of Rs 2.5 Billion (so far) because it cares for the misguided Tamils who were turned in to terrorists. You and the people that think like you seem to be unable to stomach what the govt has done. Is it because you were responsible for the 30+ years of brainwashing?

        Did you fight for the so called “Tamil cause” or sat the war out in comfort elsewhere in the world? Did your children fight for the LTTE or were they sitting safely overseas while 8 year old children of the Vanni Tamils, sacrificed life and limb fighting a proxy war for you?

        You very glibly talk of oppression but does the world know how the Northern High Cast Tamil Elites oppressed the Low cast Tamils?

        They even robbed the low cast Batu Tamils of their right to worship at Hindu Temples. If you want to be reminded of how the High Cast Northern Tamil Elites oppressed the low cast Tamils, just research the Mavidapuram Temple Entry case which went all the way up to the Privy Council in the UK.

        Here is a small lesson in oppression from Sebastian Rasalingam a Tamil himself.

        I for one was brought up in Jaffna, lived in Mannar, Hatton and Colombo. Thanks to my son I managed to get to Canada for my last days. I managed to get a bit of education because our family were christians, although today I value the richer Hindu tradition (but without its caste system).

        In the early days at school I had my own little stool that I took from class to class as I could not aspire to sit on normal-sized chairs.

        It was in Hatton that I acquired my wife who is from the Indian estate-Tamil community. When I arrived in Colombo I was actually treated with a bit more dignity by the Sinhalese and even the Tamils.

        Mr Rasa was a victim of Jaffna oppression and had to sit on a small stool in a subordinate position in class, just to get an education, as he was not allowed to sit at the same level as the Tamil Elitist’s children in the same class!!!

        Mr Ponnambalam Ramanathan was a man who even attempted to get the caste system included in the legislative enactments says SR.

        This was how the Ruling Class of Elitist Tamils treated their own Race.

        The bureaucracy of govt had a majority of such Tamils within it.
        Given the inhumanity of these Elites towards their own race, do we need to elaborate on their inhumanity towards the “other” races?

        Hope that is sufficient to show who the real oppressor was.

        I would be glad to learn logic from you, why don’t you make a start by logically analysing what I have written instead of trying to brush over it with vague statements?

  • Ravana

    I have serious doubt that the “The Social Architects” or Calleigh McRaith understand what they are criticising here. Once again the reader is not provided the whole questionnaire. The questions which are revealed indicate that this is a a pychometric instrument using a “Likert” type scale. The intention is to obtain a range of attitudes and to compare to a normative population or to compare individuals against their peer group.

    The intention would be to assess how well “rehabilitated” the respondents are. There would certainly be an intention to ‘confuse’ the candidate because what is required is their attitude and not their reasoning capacity. I would suspect that the questionnaire has a ‘lie-scale” attached to it as well which would enable a psychologist to work out the likelihood that the attitudes are genuine or feigned.

    Using emotive language without good justification is not the way to critique the “method” of rehabilitation used by the GSL. The authors need to present more reasoned arguments than what they have presented. Otherwise, their article is more worthy of Tabloid Press than the sort of journal which Groundviews is.

  • Ravana

    Groundviews,
    My apologies for a mistake on my previous post ion which I had neglected to note the full questionnaire presented by the authors. On perusing the full questionnaire, I fail to see the justification for the argument of the title of the article.

    This is simply a psychometric instrument as I had argued in my first post. It is not an instrument of rehabilitation but an instrument designed to assess the effectiveness of rehabilitation. It has nothing to do with “Tamil Identity” other than its connection to a vicious racist war which was carried out by the LTTE under the advise of a cynical leadership of the elite factions from the North who were ensconced safely overseas.

    It appears to me that this instrument has pure utilitarian value and has no cynical agenda other than what is transparently evident.

    Thus it requires analysis of the intent of the authors. The authors use a racially charged title and language and it appears to me that the intention is to convince the reader that there is a officially sanctioned programme of racial discrimination in Sri Lanka. This is then in the same bucket as the criticism of the standardisation system for University Entrance. The latter was merely a practice of “Affirmative Action” in the service of under-privileged districts of Sri Lanka. The beneficiaries came from all over the rural sector of Sri Lanka irrespective of their language or ethnic base. Yet, the “Tamil-racist ideologues” used it as an example of racism by GSL. The stupidity of these racists leave me gob-smacked. When the approach should be to attack a corrupt state which persecutes its people irrespective of background and undermines personal freedoms willy nilly, these buffoons have high jacked this cause and turned it into their own private race-war!

    Rajani Thiranagama would be distressed by the persistence of this racist attitude even this far into the 21 st century.

    If you want to attack racism then lobby for Racial Vilification Laws and appropriate implementation of anti-Discrimination laws. Attacking GSL will not work here. One thing one can say about GSL is that it does not discriminate in its persecution of citizens.

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      Dear Ravana,

      Reg. “My apologies for a mistake on my previous post ion which I had neglected to note the full questionnaire presented by the authors.

      As TSA has explicitly noted in the footnotes, and we have reiterated in bold before the embedded PDFs, what’s included with this article are only parts A-C of the questionnaire in Tamil and English. TSA has also explicitly noted that the entire questionnaire (in both Tamil and English) will be published next week.

      Best,

      GV Eds.

  • Nelum Bandara

    Folks
    Though it is commonsense it has been said here and many other websites over and over again that if people are oppressed they try peaceful ways to oppose the oppression and if they don’t work, they resort to violent ways of opposing the oppression. If it goes too long even the oppressed begin to fight among themselves as to how they should react to the oppression and violence loses sight.
    It is most shameful and disgusting after all what happened from 1948 till 2009, the people of the Northeast are being brutalised more. It’s the government’s duty to treat the citizens equally well. There are laws to deal with citizens who don’t obey the laws – there should be no need to militarise a region to control people otherwise.

    Please look up:
    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7453
    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7412

    On the ethnic conflict issue we have been having hundreds of reports and recommendations over the last fifty years or so, None seem to be entering the heads and hearts of people with ‘power’. There have been appeals to the masses in the South in the hope that they would influence their representatives of power.

    There seems to be no ‘holy’ place inside the hearts, but more and more lands are being grabbed from the owners to make them Buddhist HOLY land.

    Should the land be holier than the heart ?

  • Brie

    Well it is good to see Ravana and off-the-cuff write some sense! Sensationalism is what will catch the eye and indeed Mr McRaith pretends to be an expert. Maybe he likes to a big white fish in a small pond of black fish? Feeling superior? Toeing the cause on behalf of the poor Asians?

    Well anyways McRaith should see the psychometrics that Ravana refers to – look in the British and American prisons or indeed the rehabilitation centers – you have a lot of work on your side of the west! Try quoting your website to the USA state department! Or indeed what ever the counter terrorism institution in the UK! Which ever country you feel superior operating out of.

    The Tamil tigers in rehabiliation were NOT arbitrarily held now are they? They were granted an amnesty (basic information dont you think?)gazetted and sanctioned with a choice to enter the legal process or enter rehabilitation. I would select rehabilitation – wouldnt you? Wonder why the LTTE in American prisons want to be extradited to Sri Lanka’s rehabilitation center?

    Where did the expert McRaith get his information on the numbers and the large large contingent of COOKS and BUNKER diggers. Wonder which authority gave you that information. Tell me how 29,000 Sri Lankan army soldiers are injured and disabled? Pots and pans wont cut it now would it? Get your facts right. If I was with LTTE I would also say i was a cook – even if I operated one of the 4 artillery guns the LTTE used to shell the civilians and the Sri Lanka army. Oh how gullible! If you came along I would also say i was forced to join – who wants to tell a white man what he or she did? Have you seen how paid people cry at funerals – to demonstrate? Our cultures are very complex.

    NOW:
    Having browsed the questionnaire – the Thamil translation into English seems quite sensational and inaccurate. As we know – the Thamil language has many words. Yes it is a Likert scale as identified by Ravana, and the questions are definitely to ascertain opinion (when you read the original – not the attempt at tranlsation. Any one is free to agree or disagree with each statement. Surely is that not the right of the person doing the paper? If it was a Yes or No – as suggested – that would be so restrictive dont you think?

    The important assumption is that it is government (no surprise there now is it – given that if some one sneezes the government is responsible – great fun – great fun).

    I often wondered if the rehabilitation program is assessing progress and change. And i am glad to know that they are. Else the accusation would be – how do you know if all the work being done is helping the rehabilitees to adjust into living in society after fighting with a ruthless terrorist organisation for 30 years. To the cynics – How do you think they would be – having been mentored within a terrorist organisation? Adjustment and moving away from killing and hatred would be a piece of cake?

    There is nothing that comes across as scary or fragile – if the questionnaire is being filled out by former terrorist cadres who have entered rehabilitation – as they are the subject experts of the questionnaire. Indeed anyone familiar with this subject within the country for that matter. As Sri Lankans have lived with these topics for 3 decades.

    Most all the psychometric companies will go bankrupt with the thought police gimmick! Education, Education, Education – learn from Good ole Tony Blair!

    What sensationalised drama! Desperately searching for a reason to hit out at the rehabilitation often cited as excellent? You are hitting out at a large group of well-wishers, volunteers, NGOs – who are Thamil Sinhala and Muslim – alas not the government.

    The important part is that the rehabilitees have a second chance to re-enter their communities and live peacefully with all ethnic communities. The North East civilians are not under the grip of the Tamil tigers. And the often forgotton massacred and sucide attacked border villagers and people of the south are able to heal as well.

    • rita

      Brie
      People in the Northeast are not in the grip of the Tigers but in the grip of SLA and SLN – self-censored (and whitevan-scared) journalists in the South don’t report much about what’s going on in the Northeast:

      ‘’The situation of people living in the conflict zones is a far cry from the normalcy experienced in other parts of the country’’ – NPC, 23 April 2012
      ”Unless soon reversed, there is an acute danger of national catastrophe that arises from the current trajectory of the Sri Lankan government” – NPC, 5 April 2012

      ”But that truth cannot excuse human rights violations that currently afflict the nation as a whole; or for that matter obscure the looming threat of the cultural and political colonisation of the north by the Sinhala Buddhist majority” – Biased and Prejudiced Collection on Sri Lanka, *Gananath Obeyesekere, Economic & Political Weekly, VOL 47 No. 04, 28 January-03 February 2012

      ”When the war ended in May 2009, it was the worst that was over, but the ethnic conflict that spans more than five decades is not yet over”, NPC, 14 November 2011

    • James Chance

      Brie: What is your evidence for the following claim you make?

      “The Tamil tigers in rehabiliation were NOT arbitrarily held now are they? They were granted an amnesty (basic information dont you think?)gazetted and sanctioned with a choice to enter the legal process or enter rehabilitation. I would select rehabilitation – wouldnt you?”

      I have followed this issue closely and I have never seen any evidence that there was any formal amnesty offered any ex-combatants – where is this gazette you mention? Where is the evidence anyone was given a choice between rehabilitation and a legal process? I know for certain that no detained or surrendered ex-LTTE were ever offered a lawyer. And the ICRC, internationally accepted for the expertise and impartiality in handling detainees in conflicts around the world, was prevented from monitoring the treatement of ex-LTTE from July 2009 onwards and has now been prevented from working anywhere in the north and east. If any process of detention was legally arbitrary, it was this one.

      • Calleigh McRaith

        My opinions come from dozens of interviews with people in the North, as well as with Sri Lankan attorneys, NGO workers and the government in Colombo. I wrote for Groundviews on it earlier this year http://groundviews.org/2012/02/14/arbitrary-detention-in-sri-lanka-internment-rehabilitation-and-surrenderees-in-the-prison-system/.

        The numbers I was quoting came from the government, I pasted them above. I have tried in my opinions to echo what I heard during my interviews from Tamils, both ex-cadres and not, living in the North. Most are too afraid to speak up for themselves, especially those coming out of rehab since they are so closely monitored even after release. I told them I would try to speak for them and to share their experience that the rehab program was not the glowing picture the government always paints.

        Please, go find someone who went through rehabilitation. Find someone who had a family member go through rehabilitation. Talk to them and hear their stories. Ask them if they went voluntarily, ask them what their counseling consisted of, ask them if they were interrogated while in rehab or if they knew people who surrendered and were never heard from again.

        Just please don’t base everything on what you read in government press releases and government-controlled media.

  • Buddhika

    It is extremely sad to note that some people do not seem to know or understand or accept
    i.the obligation of a state for ALL its citizens and
    ii state terrorism(=oppression) creates rebellion that evolves to various degrees of terrorism depending on how the state deals with the rebellion

    Or is it intentionally diverting the attention away from the current political issue we set out to discuss by discussing past social issues?

    Of course we have been having caste problems all over Sri Lanka. That has to be discussed separately as a social issue. Fortunately it has been disappearing in some areas.

    A responsible government that treats all its ethnicicties fairly would have willingness and a very good chance of dealing with the social issues afflicting them.

    • Off the Cuff

      Buddhika,

      Of course the State is responsible for all her citizens, to think otherwise is foolish.

      Did you ever wonder why every state has a penal code? Why it has correctional institutions and prisons? Why some states penalise those who transgress the penal code with Capital Punishment?
      Think about it Buddhika, your name implies intelligence.

      “Or is it intentionally diverting the attention away from the current political issue we set out to discuss by discussing past social issues?”

      The State is not a party to these discussions on GV.
      Is there a current Political Issue that has no dependence on the past social issues?
      Please name them sir.

      “Of course we have been having caste problems all over Sri Lanka. That has to be discussed separately as a social issue”

      Why should it be discussed separately?
      Is it disadvantages to your arguments?
      Many have been writing about oppression since independence.
      Why is it not pertinent to discuss who the real oppressor was?

      It is a Fact and not fiction that the Tamil Elites oppressed the Tamil populace.
      That oppression was invasive.
      It’s tentacles even reached inside Religious Places.

      These oppressive people were also members of the govt administration before and for decades after Independence. The result on the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese peasantry does not need much imagination.

      What should be understood is the cunning use of HR issues (both real and fabricated) to appropriate a grossly disproportionate share of the countries resources for the exclusive benefit of a small section of the Tamil population, which excludes even the Tamils living outside the areas claimed for their exclusive use, is the main obstacle in the path to reconciliation.

      Land is a natural resource that cannot be economically created. It is finite. It is the source of life.

      In 1888 CJR Le Mesurier, AGA Nuwara Eliya, stated in his annual administration report that “1048 villagers died of starvation, within sight of Nuwara Eliya, the sanatorium where our governors and high officials resort for health and lawn tennis”.

      The reason, was the confiscation of land to pay for the grain tax!!!

      There are many other statutes that were used to grab land and those who have been hit by these Land Laws had been the Sinhala peasantry.

      IMHO Equitable distribution of resources is the only way forward.

  • Ward

    i. We have many problems because we don’t implement our laws properly.
    ii. We can make laws, if necessary, to tackle problems.
    iii. We have been blundering heavily for 64+ years. There are national and international laws to help us if we have the willingness to use them.
    We have intergovernmental bodies also to help us if we wish to accept their help.
    iv. We have a difficult task of unlearning the inhumanity and illogic we have been exercising since independence. For many countries that have been making mistakes and afflicted with a variety of problems, the formation of the UN and the formulation of the UN Charter has become a very useful point of reference. Sri Lankans can also get out of the mess they created in the last 64 years by using the UN positively. Of course some UN members including Sri Lanka have been using the UN negatively and creating additional problems.

  • Dan Herath

    Feb 1948 till May 2009, we have been using the following motto off and on: ”The only way to teach a lesson to enemies is inflicting fear and by terrorizing their lives”(Q.12 in the questionnaire)

    From May 2009 onwards it’s simply continuous use.

    • Dan Herath

      Elmore Perera to LLRC, 10 November 2010:”… The 1983 racial riots were a disaster. Tamils were treated as being sub-human. Many of those who could leave the country by lawful or even unlawful means did so. Those who remained were subjected to arbitrary, humiliating treatment. Rounding up of 30 to 40 Tamil youth on Friday evenings, producing them before Magistrates to be remanded, and later releasing them on bail, after they had paid lawyers Rs1,000/- each for this purpose, was a regular occurrence in many parts of the city. Tamils, who could readily be identified as such from their National Identity Cards, were at the mercy of the law-enforcement agencies which arbitrarily enforced even laws of their own making.”

      K.Godage to LLRC, 15 September 2010:
      ‘’…. Now I must tell you of a very, very sad, bad and dangerous situation. We have in our prisons over 2000 young Tamil men. Some of them have been taken on suspicion. Just picked up and taken. In detention without charges for years, Sir, for years ….’’

  • Dan Herath

    If we fail to have justice and peace in Sri Lanka, let us not cite other cases of injustice to continue our injustice to the fellow citizens of other ethnicities. There are cases of how different ethnicities can be served justice from which we can learn to form a peaceful and prosperous United Sri Lanka.
    Let us read Sampanthan’s speech at the 14th ITAK convention against all what we have been doing to the Tamils till today. Pl count the number of ”patience” in the speech. Many foreigners, coming in contact related to my paid job, are amazed/intrigued at the patience of the Tamils in the days of pogroms of 50s-80s. We have only been becoming more and more barbarous.
    Prof Richardson who has researched our conflict for about 20yrs (he has been living here months at a time in those years) said that if anybody wants to learn how to create an ethnic conflict they only have to look at Sri Lankan politics.
    Are we capable of learning lessons? logic? showing dignity/humanity to fellow beings??

  • The Social Architects

    This piece attempts to address many of the questions and statements that have been made about TSA’s two recently published articles.

    First, this is an examination of a State document. In publishing these articles, TSA is hoping to engage in a civil debate about whether the State can and should administer a questionnaire of this nature.

    Relatedly, another important question to ask would be the following: “Is this a document that (in any way) facilitates genuine reconciliation?” Furthermore, the State-supported rehabilitation of ex-combatants should not be examined in a vacuum; the process should be looked at through the prism of reconciliation.

    Additionally, if Sri Lanka is to move from post-war to post-conflict, a deep understanding and acknowledgement of the root cause(s) of the conflict is essential. Here, the importance of language cannot be overlooked. The Tamil language has been derided by State actors for the past six decades. Regrettably, it is with a similar sort of intolerance and disdain for ethnic Tamils, that this questionnaire was written.

    To be clear, TSA supports tolerance, a respect for human rights and the promotion of pluralistic values. This questionnaire is inundated with intolerance. It is a hateful, hurtful document that will do nothing but exacerbate ethnic tensions. And, again, irrespective of race, upbringing, political predisposition or worldview, there are many statements in this questionnaire that are inappropriate in any country in any context. Period.

    Ex-combatants are a part of this country and should be properly reintegrated into society. Yet, they are still virtually voiceless and ostracized from their respective communities. Such ostracism does not necessarily come because they are rejected by their fellow community members. Rather, it is largely a product of the heavy monitoring of ex-combatants which occurs after they are released. People are afraid of the military. In this context, people have (justifiable) reasons to be afraid of the military. In light of all this, TSA believes that the opinions of ex-combatants must be heard. Why not allow them to share a few words about the rehabilitation process? Why not give them the space to tell people what they thought about this questionnaire? Doing so is not damaging to reconciliation. Forcing ex-combatants into submission and/or silence is damaging to reconciliation. Tainting the rehabilitation process with bigotry and hate is damaging to reconciliation.

    Groundviews readers are more than welcome to debate TSA’s interpretation of the questionnaire’s content. Having said that, TSA believes that the questionnaire (and the context in which it was administered) speaks for itself. Educated readers can draw their own conclusions.

    Lastly, it is important to remember that this is a State document. The ownership of this document falls on all citizens irrespective of our ethnicities. Are Sri Lankans really proud of this questionnaire? Are people really happy that they, as citizens of a united Sri Lanka, are indirectly responsible for this questionnaire and the questionable motives which underpin its contents?

  • rita

    Calleigh
    Thank you for all your work.

    TSA
    Can you please shed some light on:
    ”North – a war museum and battlefields that are open only to Sinhalese”
    http://www.crisisgroup.org/en/publication-type/media-releases/2012/asia/sri-lankas-north-recipe-for-renewed-conflict.aspx

    • The Social Architects

      Dear Rita,

      Thank you for your question. We suggest you take a look at “Salt on Old Wounds: The Systematic Sinhalization of Sri Lanka’s North, East and Hill Country.” It’s a TSA report that was published in March of this year.

      The report can be read here:

      http://www.internationalpolicydigest.org/2012/03/20/salt-on-old-wounds-post-war-sri-lanka/

      and here:

      http://blog.srilankacampaign.org/2012/03/social-architects-on-sinhalisation.html

      Pages 27-29 may be of particular interest to you.

      Best,
      TSA

      • rita

        Thank you, TSA.

        Waiting for Part III.

      • rajivmw

        I read that previous report from the The Social Architects.

        The one that alleges that there is an on-going mass-scale ‘Sinhalization’ of ‘historically Tamil areas’. Maybe so. But the actual evidence provided can be described as anecdotal at best. Apparently, since the war ended, 165 Sinhalese families have settled in Vavuniya, and 45 families near the Trinco/Mullaitivu border.

        Out of this molehill, a mountain is constructed. There are lengthy discourses on Sinhala-Buddhist extremism; the sinister intentions behind the Mahaweli project; the ‘renaming’ of Tamil places (the fact that many towns in Sri Lanka have different names in each language is ignored); and the wholesale ‘demolition’ of Hindu temples during the war, ostensibly by the Sri Lankan military (the LTTE is scarcely mentioned at all).

        Perhaps most remarkably, the TSA claims that Ratnapura and Nuwara Eliya are ‘historically Tamil districts’.

        The report is extravagantly footnoted, to affect the style of serious academic research. Yet the source cited most often is the TSA itself, especially when it comes to the most sensational of charges (e.g . the Sinhalese have killed 80,000 heads of Tamil-owned cattle in Amparai).

        There may well be a policy of ‘Sinhalization’ being carried out by this government. But I can’t help thinking the TSA is actually much keener to establish certain other things:

        1)That the North, the East and even the Hill Country are part of a historic Tamil homeland

        2)That the Sinhalese and the Tamils cannot possibly co-exist amicably

        3)That ANY GoSL/Sinhalese activity in the North, East and Hill Country must be regarded by the international community with the utmost suspicion, and should not receive any moral or material support whatsoever

  • Nelum Balendran

    ”I regret choosing such a charged question….”:

    i.Riding the storm 1956-1959, Harold McMillan: ‘’Ceylon, p.395: ‘’In a curious way, the political life is more like that of Whig politics in the eighteenth century than one would suppose”
    ii.Paradise Poisoned(2005), John Richardson: If you want to know how to make an ethnic conflict, please look at Sri Lankan politics”.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Calleigh

    You responded to others here who had harsh words for you, but you did not respond to me. I had asked whether you could share with us a country that faced a similar situation as Sri Lanka and handled it better.

    I think you (and TSA) are encountering negative reactions here because you aren’t really offering a way forward. You argue that the questionnaires were unjust (of all the injustices in Sri Lanka to address!) but offer no alternatives. The questionnaires are not something that can be undone. So why dwell on it (as opposed to other things that can be undone, such as the military occupation)? Who is your intended audience?

    Also I think some people here have got the wrong idea about you. They do not know that you are a student (more or less, a female student!) still learning about the world and how it works.

    • Calleigh McRaith

      The original intended audience was the TSA – if you see my first comment, I was offering a potential measuring stick from international law to evaluate the questionnaire.

      The message for the general public and the end goal I would say (everyone would say?) is reconciliation, which I think means some acknowledgement that the government has not handled things perfectly with rehabilitation. You are right that the questionnaire is small by itself, but if its part of a bigger pattern of ex-cadres feeling like their rights were violated (the due process issues, interrogations in rehab, etc), then that claim should be discussed. There are still people in rehabilitation too – it’s not a totally dead issue.

      Related to that story you posted above about the girl from Queens, I thought it was interesting about the media coverage of her story. I tried to figure out where she is now and saw she had a lot of news coverage – people held concerts to raise legal funds, lawyers volunteered their time, Congress people were discussing it. Same with that example someone else gave of the UK shooting from Brazil – there was a trial of the police about that. Or the news coverage/court case about Guantanamo complaints.

      You ask for a way forward – I think that is part of it. Free media, open discussion, and accountability through the judiciary. If the general public sends the message that they care about how ex-cadres are /were treated (even on things that seem small like a questionnaire), I think it would help reconciliation. Saying that people like the TSA who question the rehabilitation process are just stirring up trouble probably does not.

      Finally, you asked for a country that handled it better. I would submit South Africa (strong independent truth commission followed by amnesty), at least in terms of building inclusive politics and moving forward after an internal conflict that included terrorism.

  • Neville Perera

    wijayapala
    1. As far as ethnic relations are concerned, Sri Lanka had a much better start than Malaysia at the time of independence. But Sri Lankan leaders messed it up – ethnic outbidding was their route to power. Sri Lanka is one of the worst countries for ethnic minorities in the world.
    2. Calleigh’s views have nothing to do with being a ”student”. Some of the commentators have no sense of international norms on justice – they have been on the diet of Sri Lankan racist politics for too long.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Neville,

      As far as ethnic relations are concerned, Sri Lanka had a much better start than Malaysia at the time of independence.

      I think you meant Singapore, the example most often brought up by those criticising Sri Lanka. As you do not appear to know the difference between Singapore and Malaysia, I doubt that you would be an expert on how Sri Lanka compares to other countries regarding ethnic minorities.

      Here is Malaysia’s experience with ethnic politics:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bumiputera_Malaysia

      “In the 1970s, the Malaysian government implemented policies which The Economist called “racially discriminatory” designed to favour bumiputras (including affirmative action in public education) to create opportunities, and to defuse inter-ethnic tensions following the extended violence against Chinese Malaysians in the 13 May Incident in 1969.[1] These policies have succeeded in creating a significant urban Malay middle class. They have been less effective in eradicating poverty among rural communities. Some analysts have noted a backlash of resentment from excluded groups, in particular the sizeable Chinese and Indian Malaysian minorities.”

      “The concept of a bumiputra ethnic group in Malaysia was coined by activist Tunku Abdul Rahman. It recognized the “special position” of the Malays provided in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, in particular Article 153. But, the constitution does not use the term “bumiputra”; it defines only “Malay” and “indigenous peoples” (Article 160(2)),[2] “natives” of Sarawak (161A(6)(a)),[3] and “natives” of Sabah (Article 161A(6)(b)).[3]“

      • Neville Perera

        1. I was careful enough not to say they have very cordial relations among various ethnicities in Malaysia – they have been avoiding pogroms

        2. http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/csc/reports/possible.htm
        ”…. At independence, anyone forecasting the ethnic future of the two countries would have predicted far more difficulty for Malaysia than for Sri Lanka. Relative group proportions, conceptions of group legitimacy, recent political events, the relations of elites of the various groups, and the political culture of the two countries all suggested a Sri Lankan advantage. ….”

        3. Sri Lanka is compared with Singapore when economicic developemnt is discussed.

      • Neville Perera

        I am not an expert on anything – I am a lifelong student.

      • Neville Perera

        I find that a lot of school students much more logical and open-minded. But the constant poisonous speeches by the politicians make many Sinhalese adults illogical to think that they could unleash pogroms on Tamils and keep them under army/navy boots and oppress them politically/socially/economically for more than 64 years and still expect them not to speak about federalism or secession.

      • wijayapala

        Dear Neville

        1. I was careful enough not to say they have very cordial relations among various ethnicities in Malaysia – they have been avoiding pogroms

        There have been no pogroms because the Malaysian minorities have not challenged the system the way the Sri Lankan Tamils have. Do you think that the ethnic Malays would keep quiet if the Chinese or Indian Malaysians tried to separate Malaysia?

        Would you support the implementation of a bhoomiputra policy in Sri Lanka to benefit the Sinhalese, the same way that it benefited the ethnic Malays?

        At independence, anyone forecasting the ethnic future of the two countries would have predicted far more difficulty for Malaysia than for Sri Lanka.

        The key difference that Horowitz missed is that unlike Sri Lanka, no Malaysian minority forms a majority in any part of that country. Hence, separatism has never been an issue in Malaysia (except for Singapore) the way it was in Sri Lanka.