CHOGM 2013: A lie well told

Photo by Lakruwan Wanniarachchi, AFP/Getty Images via FT Photo Diary

I imagine that beneath the cordial smiles and exchange of pleasantries there is much weeping and gnashing of teeth taking place at Temple Trees these days. The façade that was CHOGM 2013 seems to have crumbled, at least in the eyes of the world, although certainly not in most parts of Sri Lanka’s mainstream media. Images of women and relatives of the disappeared throwing themselves on David Cameron’s convoy in Jaffna dominate world headlines, overwhelming the photographs of Commonwealth leaders at CHOGM.

I don’t think a single previous Commonwealth meeting has witnessed the drama and the spectacle that hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Sri Lanka brought. The Rajapakse regime even in their wildest dreams would not have imagined that a PR debacle of this magnitude would unfold. Heavy-handed tactics and general boorishness (hallmarks of the current regime) only added fuel to the fire instead of frightening foreign journalists and diplomats.

Fortunately for the Government, they still control a large chunk of the local media (both state and non-state) as evidenced very clearly in the print and electronic news coverage over the past few days. So while the world erupted over Sri Lanka’s behavior during CHOGM week, local media ignored almost completely critical issues around the debarring of Tamils, the callous disregard for the right of free movement by citizens and foreign media alike, and other related issues. The Government also chose to fall back on their time-tested strategy of labeling and name calling anyone who opposes them as ‘terrorists’, ‘LTTE or LTTE sympathizers’ and ‘Tamil Diaspora funded’. So although defeating the LTTE in 2009 has been touted as the single greatest victory in the history of Sri Lanka they are not unwilling to resurrect them from the dead in order to ensure that they have a scapegoat to blame for their misfortunes.

So what can one observe from the events that unfolded during CHOGM week in Sri Lanka in 2013?

The GOSL cannot handle a critical media

From being door stopped by Channel 4 outside a hotel to cancelling a news conference scheduled for the first day of CHOGM, it is clear that the President was feeling the heat of having a media that asks brutal questions without shying away for fear of repercussions. Also unlike in Parliament there were no stalwarts to provide the necessary noise with which to drown out these impertinent questions. His somewhat angry responses at the news briefing on Thursday highlighted his frustration although really it was funny that he spoke about Sri Lanka’s legal system being the solution to the country’s ills. One wonders what the impeached Chief Justice would have had to say to that.

The media circus started off like a badly written detective novel as Channel 4  was openly  tailed by intelligence from the airport to the hotel and thereafter to every location they travelled. The idea was to intimidate them but the news station probably enjoyed it all the more as they filmed their “secret’ escorts and interviewed plain clothes policeman on the street.  The President robustly declared that “We have nothing to hide” but ‘somebody’ went to the extent of stopping a train in order to prevent them from going to Kilinochchi. What they probably didn’t expect was for Callum Macrae to conduct a Q&A with the so-called protestors at Anuradhapura only to find out that none of them seemed to have (and I repeat none of them – watch the news report if you want to see it for yourself) even watched the No Fire Zone Videos[i]. In effect what the government has done is given Channel 4 enough of footage for probably two more documentaries on Sri Lanka, all on their own steam.

A BBC cameraman was physically restrained from filming the President’s arrival at the Opening Ceremony and only three British journalists were among the 200 journalists scheduled to meet the President at his Friday press conference that was mysteriously cancelled and then hijacked by the government MP A.H.M Azwer. The national list MP masqueraded as a journalist in order to attack the foreign media who were present at the conference until he was called to order by Richard Uku, a Commonwealth Spokesman. The author suspects Mr. Azwer may have mistaken the press conference for a sitting of the Sri Lankan Parliament.

However, all was not lost. The Government used Chris Nonis, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to the UK, to tackle questioning from a not so well informed CNN journalist. He spoke eloquently and immediately won a massive adulation on social media. Fortunately for Mr. Nonis the CNN anchor did not question him on how exactly the Government had implemented the LLRC. There was great rejoicing because finally someone had stood up to the tools of Western imperialism. The reaction was typical and to be expected as even those in Sri Lanka with access to alternate media and journalism feel affronted when our human rights record is questioned. No matter that fellow citizens continue to languish in refugee camps, we love the Rs. 24 million spent on the CHOGM fireworks display. We seem to not be able to differentiate between propaganda and the fact that we live in a state, which is increasingly authoritarian. People who were shot dead for protesting the lack of clean water are already forgotten.

The presence of foreign media in Sri Lanka has highlighted the abysmal failure of local media to report key issues

In Sri Lanka local media live under a constant threat and it would not be fair to judge them on what they are forced to or prevented from reporting due to the culture of impunity prevalent in the nation today. However on Thursday the 14th of November viewers of MTV’s News 1st were in for a treat as they watched what once used to be considered one of the usually more newsworthy channels in Sri Lanka degrade themselves shamelessly over their report on the attack on Sirikotha by the extremist Buddhist group the Bodu Bala Sena[ii].

The BBS General Secretary, Ven. Gnanasara Thera, led the monks and the mob, who were there to protest the human rights festival being held at the UNP headquarters to highlight issues and people that weren’t going to be discussed at CHOGM’s official proceedings or venues. While it is clear that both sides engaged in fisticuffs and foul language, MTV’s take on the whole issue was fascinating. They chose to pin point pro-UNP members in the crowd involved in the assault and completely ignore the part played by the BBS and their goons. The BBS reputation for violent and unruly behavior precedes them, making it virtually unimaginable that they behaved with decorum and fortitude while protesting outside Sirikotha. In fact video footage proves that it was quite the contrary. MTV’s take on the BBS attack on Sirikotha was tantamount to justifying their actions, illustrating the depths to which Sri Lankan media will sink in order to score points.

David Cameron and the British press corps highjacked CHOGM

In my mind the Rajapakse showcase that CHOGM was to be, was out manoeuvred by British Prime Minister David Cameron and the British press corps.  No amount of counter-photo shoots with Prince Charles cutting his cake in Colombo could salvage that. With the UK’s diplomatic invasion of Sri Lanka, the GOSL was left fuming and irate in Colombo as David Cameron and his entourage flew into Jaffna on Friday hours after the opening of CHOGM.

From the outset it seemed as if CHOGM was going to be President Rajapakse’s hour of redemption. No longer a social outcast in the international community. Unfortunately for him and the government, headlines around the world skipped the beautification and development of Colombo and zoomed in on weeping women, scarred journalists and refugees looking to return home after decades. Hailed as the first foreign Prime Minister or President to visit Jaffna since Independence, Cameron was met by refugees at Sabapathy Pillai refugee camp, who – in a marked sign of their desperation in a country that is official post-war – believed he was sent by God to help them get their land back.

However the British Prime Minister’s visit to the North was not without criticism. Accused of having his own agenda and acting in self-interest, while in Sri Lanka he also took the opportunity to lash out at his political opponents, the Labour Party, for criticizing his decision to attend the controversial summit. Similarly, as mentioned in an article published in Groundviews, many of the families of the disappeared who stood outside the Jaffna Public Library were disappointed that the Prime Minister did not take the time to come and talk to them and listen to their stories. The Chief Minister of the Northern Province and the leader of the TNA were accused of doing the same thing, and the article states that all the families got for their efforts were insults and beatings from the Police[iii].

As David Cameron made waves around the world the British media reported the news and were also part of the news. Channel 4 dominated headlines in Sri Lanka to the extent that Callum Macrae alleged he was the ‘most hated man in Sri Lanka’[iv]. Luckily for him most Sri Lankans have a very short memory span (flashback the Helping Hambantota fiasco) so in years to come, he may again be able to come to Sri Lanka with only the occasional stray dog following him.

Distinguishing between real protests and orchestrated protests

CHOGM 2013 offered some lessons in how to distinguish between different protests. Orderly protestors who were reluctant to have their faces shown first met the David Cameron entourage in Jaffna. The protestors preferred to hide behind well-printed cardboard signs in English asking for an “investigation into British Colonial atrocities”. A few yards down the road raw emotion combined with a hysterical desperation for answers saw women fling themselves and pictures of their missing loved ones against the convoy. Probably not the images the Rajapakse clan ever planned on showing off during CHOGM.

In Jaffna we saw a glimpse of the real Sri Lanka instead of perfect highways, well-manicured gardens and numerous venues named in honour of the President. The riot police or the threat of intimidation could not hold the real Sri Lanka back. The people who participated in the protests and allowed their faces to be shown are bound to be harassed and threatened once the media spotlight ceases to shine on the events of November 15th. According to the Uthayan newspaper’s online editor, Anuraj Sivarajah there were two possible outcomes to the British Prime Minister’s visit to the North. The government would either leave them alone or increase their attacks on the newspaper[v]. To participate in a highly documented protest of this nature one needed to be brave and determined and we can only admire them for withstanding police pressure and police barriers to get their message across.

The Tamil Diaspora, the Tamils of Tamil Nadu and the Tamils in Jaffna

I hesitate to talk about the Tamil Diaspora and the Tamils of Tamil Nadu in relation to the Tamils of Sri Lanka particularly in the Northern and Eastern province. However as I watched Cameron’s trip unfold and the overwhelming response he received from the people he visited in the North I could not help thinking that maybe the rest of the world’s Tamil community did not comprehend how his visit would highlight the gross irregularities between what the Government of Sri Lanka claims to do and what they actually do.

The Diaspora Tamils in the UK and in Canada called for a boycott of CHOGM as did the Tamils of Southern India. However it seems that Cameron’s visit to Sri Lanka – made amidst strong criticism from the UK – really did shine a light (however brief) on the plight of the people of the North in a way which Manmohan Singh and Stephen Harper’s boycott did not. Although it must be noted that the Indian premier soft-peddled his boycott leaving it unsaid and indistinct.

Alan Johnson, the UK Labour MP is reported to have said that ‘if people such as Cameron were not in the country, journalists would not be there [either]. So in a strange way, the attendance of high profile politicians at the summit is highlighting human rights issues in Sri Lanka”[vi] David Cameron, aside from Prince Charles, was the most high profile delegate attending the Commonwealth Summit and therefore wherever he went with him went the international media. In the North it seemed as if the people were grateful for the Prime Minister’s visit instead of resentful that he had not boycotted the summit.

While Manmohan Singh and Stephen Harper chose to make a statement by boycotting CHOGM in hindsight it seems that David Cameron made the stronger statement regarding human rights abuses. Thus while some parts of the Tamil Diaspora felt that a boycott of CHOGM would be better it appears that those who were really affected and on the ground had a different view.

Postscript

But the question begs to be asked, what will happen to us left behind in Sri Lanka once the CHOGM circus leaves town? Interestingly and probably in complete contradiction of “Commonwealth values” President Rajapakse will be the chairperson of the Commonwealth for the next two years. By holding this summit in Sri Lanka the credibility of the Commonwealth has been called into question and with it the need to rethink the role of the organization in the 21st century.

Is David Cameron really interested in Sri Lanka’s human rights abuses or is he just trying to gain some votes back home? When I think of David Cameron’s promise cum threat to ensure Sri Lanka investigates allegations of war crimes I am reminded of David Miliband’s visit to Sri Lanka during the last stages of the war. Miliband’s visit to Sri Lanka resulted in his effigy being burned in the streets of Colombo and outside the British High Commission. Will the Government unleash a new ‘proxy propaganda war’ (my willful misquote of Mr. Nonis on CNN recently) to win the hearts and minds of the world? Will the people of the north who turned out to meet David Cameron be broadcast on national television recanting whatever they said, as Tamil doctors who worked in the No Fire Zone were forced to do so when the war ended?

Ultimately one does not need a Commonwealth astrologer to predict that the regime will use the next few days to present the summit as a great triumph and all its critics and detractors as stooges of the LTTE. The Government would never admit that from the point of view of international relations the summit proved to be a PR debacle of unprecedented magnitude. In the words of Michael Ondaatje “in Sri Lanka a well-told lie is worth a thousand facts“.

The only problem is that in Sri Lanka today, the lies are rarely well told.

  • Anpu

    Thank you Deborah, GV, CT, CH4, BBC, ITV,…
    I am one of those who wrote to David Cameron asking him not to go to CHOGM. It was a big mistake. Thanks he did not listen to us. I am not a TIGER. There are so many like me. We all are not TIGERS. What we want is equality, withdrawal of armed forces from the N&E and keep their presence to a very minimum, return the land to their owners, stop killing, stop raping, independent inquiry and punish the guilty….. David Cameron has fixed the dead line. I hope you will meet the dead line

    • YOHAN

      Don’t expect drastic changes in few years . gradually land will be handed over to owners . but don’t expect withdrawal of armed forces fully . coz there will be some forces in N & E like wise other 7 provinces as it is a matter of national security .Instead it ll increase if jaffna uni students celebrate barbarian Prabha s birthday this year . so N&E peoples’ fate on their hand . if they stay focused of one country without division , they ll be fine as much as rest of the country .perhaps even better with infrastructure development happening now . TAMIL BROTHERS ,PLZ THINK DIFFERENT AND ENJOY .

      • wijebahu

        And if Armed forces withdrawn, Tamil nadu extremists will walk (rather swim) in to Sri lank and organize an another LTTE. though I do not agree with Rajapakse in local politics, I agree 100% with him for saying ‘no one is getting killed today and we have stoped it in 2009′. I have loads of sympathy for those people who carry photos of there loved ones, however I am not sure how did they react when LTTE was forcibly taking there children and throw them to fight with SL Army. again all those miseries have stopped now. Diaspora should let Sri Lanka to move on and develop to the next level and all those problems will automatically resolved.

        • pissek

          Yeah you love chasing the ghost of LTTE na? Good luck, people like you will keep looters in power now and forever

        • Kumara

          It’s high time people like Wijebahu has to wake up. It’s not the Diaspora which is keeping sri lanka from moving ahead. The corruption and injustice keeping lanka from moving ahead. Diaspora can make only noise, if SLGOV genuinely attempt to resolve internal issues (I”m not talking about war etc etc, just the basic problem every sri lankan have) then we’ll be moving forward.

      • Lord Shiva

        Already talks of separation in the Western capitals due to the genocide of the Tamils and the continued defiant by the Rajapakse regime.
        Rajapakse regimes crimes and the successive governments failure is actually helping the Tamils to achieve self determination and freedom from the Sinhala rule!
        Both UNP and the SLFP are rotten and failed to solve the ethnic issue that pushed the Tamils to take a strong stand.

      • pissek

        How long are we talking here? 30 years? 100 years? Common man it’s been almost 5 years and instead of returning, some places houses are demolished and buildings eructed for military and their family on some poor farmers home. Army should not be withdrawn 100%. That’s not practical in any sovereign country but they should remain in barracks and let civilians live their normal life.

    • shen

      1st of all I would like to ask you whether you have visited north or east of our country??? Even south during war?? I don’t think so.. Is it only human rights of Tamil brethren in north were violated by war?? What about us?? From my birth up to 19 years we were living in fear. No body knew where a bomb is going to explode.. But now we have peace.. Thanks to the President and our brave soldiers.. There were thousands killed by British in our country years ago.. What about it then? Is it only Tamil ppeople lost their loved ones?? What about the number of families whom they have lost due to war and suicidal bombings all over the country??

      • k

        ” From my birth up to 19 years we were living in fear? ” really?? Were you? Well then i seem to have been living in a different Sri Lanka for the past 25 odd years. Sure, there were bomb scares etc but those were very occasional occurrences and nothing like the killings in the north and these did not stop you from going about your normal life, while people in the north didn’t exactly have the luxury. The number of people killed in suicide bombings is far less than the number of innocent civilians killed in the war. And just because the west are hypocrites doesn’t necessarily mean there is no truth to the underlying facts.

  • Flocam

    I think we should recall the story of Jesus & the prostitiute. The atrocities UK is complicit in having committed (and still committing) in recent history in Iraq & Afghanistan etc. and the human rights violations that went with it – the ‘chamber of horrors’ that is Guantanamo Bay seems to be conveniently forgotten. These are facts that are undisputable whereas the human rights violations that GoSL is supposed to have committed are the rhetoric of people with vested interests.
    The Commonwealth was never there when the LTTE was holding Sri Lanka to ransom and committing foul murder. There was no talk of civilian casualties and human rights. All they did was help the LTTE to set-up their funding in their countries. So how can the Commonwealth have the gumption and the right to interfere in Sri Lanka’s post-war reconciliation?

    • Chamara

      Yes I 100% agree with you. Why we are just forgotten the 30 years of bloody war. Thousands of civilians were killed by LTTE including Sinahalees, Tamils and Muslims. They were killed just because they are Sri Lankans. Some were praying, some were on the way to their working places. Why we forget all of these. There were no bomb blasts after 2008 in Sri Lanka..

      • Dev

        That’s why the international community gave intelligence, and banned the LTTE in the EU/UK/USA and even Canada !!!!! They cracked down on fund raising and recently Canada handed over to the US a Tamil tiger supporter who tried to buy arms. They were a terrorist group.
        No one has forgotten the crimes they committed inkling recruitment of child soldiers.

        However higher standards were / are expected from a “DEMOCRATICALLY ” elected governments especially ones that have just agreed to uphold commonwealth charter values !!!

      • Shalini

        All true, but still there are at least 40,000 Sri Lankans still accounted for, that is a lot of people who are a brother, son, sister, or relative. The Rajapaksa’s should admit to any war crimes, and try and answer these questions that will otherwise haunt them.

        • Mark_Souza

          If there are 40,000 missing, why not supply their identities? This is a random figure from the Darusman report. Anyone could have anonymously reported someone missing.
          Only 2900 have been reported officially to the commission appointed to investigate missing people. But go ahead and keep saying 40,000, there are enough gullible people to believe that.

      • pissek

        The problem here is, it was not just the LTTE. Both LTTE and SL Gov. Both killed innocent people for their gain. You can’t run away from facts

    • Burning_Issue

      Notwithstanding as to what the LTTE did; I totally share your points.
      However, I am sure the Tamils will give you equally gruesome atrocities that
      they went through at the hands of GOSL; they will ask where was CW when they
      have been subjected to state terrorism. What would you say?

    • Randy mathew

      Yes, tigers were terrorists all right. Now we are questioning as to why the Medamulane thugs are being terrorists?

    • Lord Shiva

      LTTE wouldn’t be there if there was no Sinhala State terrorism and violent attack on the Tamils that were unleashed against the Tamils who protested democratically in a Gandhian way!
      Sinhala State terrorism and hooliganism paved the way for the creation of the LTTE with the help of Mrs. Indra Gandhi and MGR. When it grew well, its leadership lost the goal and the direction and LTTE was totally dominating as it had too much high tech, resources, manpower and fire power.
      First PM of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew has written in his book, the Hard Truths that Tamils have the great determination, strength and discipline to achieve anything like the Great King Raja Raja Cholan. Now Tamil Nadu youth are getting agitated and only time will tell the end results.
      As Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, former Sri Lankan diplomat recently has said, that the Tamils will have their Eelam at the and, particularly due to the Sinhala Buddhist Apartheid racism and the involvement of the Buddhist Monks in the destruction of Hindu temples, Muslim Mosques and Christian Churches.

  • georgethebushpig

    Dear Ms. Philip,

    Excellent write up! Thanks. I was pleasantly surprised with Cameron’s position on the need for an independent investigation and that the UK would take it up with the UN in the event the GOSL was not forthcoming. Will the GOSL knuckleheads at least now realize that they have overplayed their hand? Or are they gonna continue with a belligerent approach and catalyze the post-war implosion of Sri Lanka?

    While I welcome Cameron’s intervention, I’m not withdrawing my contribution to George Galloway’s documentary project titled the “Killing of Tony Blair”. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/22595538/the-killing-of-tony-blair

    Regards
    GTBP

  • Ajith

    By such biased reporting you guys are forcing us moderates to side with the regime. I think they are right. You guys are well looked after by interested parties. I really do feel sorry for those parents with disappeared children but this was a war. Not a game of cricket. By your action you have made it impossible to even think about reconciliation. I guess that’s what you want.

    • sach

      “. By your action you have made it impossible to even think about reconciliation. I guess that’s what you want.”
      Exactly this is what they want. That is exactly why we should talk about reconciliation and achieve reconsiliation. The last thing tiger supporters need is reconciliation,

      • Burning_Issue

        It looks as if you guys are not moderate after all! What do you mean by reconciliation? All is on offer is a form of forced assimilation! Please do not take people for idiots!

      • Burning_Issue

        I am sorry what reconciliation are you talking about? Only thing that is on offer is a form of a compelled assimilation. Remember the phrase that MR used; there will be no minorities in
        Sri Lanka. When truth is spoken, it is a biased reporting. Frist accept that,
        the Tamil people have been wronged in biblical proportion. This is the first
        step to reconciliation and do not attack the messengers!

        • Mark_Souza

          I’m sorry but what assimilation are you talking about? Tamil is a national language, you can learn in Tamil from primary to university without learning a word of Sinhala. Tamil is in all government documents, money, and street signs. You can live your whole life in the North without speaking any Sinhala. How is that forced assimilation?
          Yet, gladly, most Tamils choose to live outside North and East. It is people like you who have an imaginary problem in your head and cause problems.

        • sach

          First read my comment then answer. It seems reading twice still doesnt help you. By reconciliation, I mean true reconciliation and not gov reconciliation and not your reconciliation.
          what are you saying hanging on MR’s statement? He meant no one would recieve any minority treatment and every one would be treated equally.
          excuse me what is biased reporting? I wonder what made you such a complaint in a groundviews web site. Tamils not only have been wronged they have been wronged by THEMSELVES. The largest amount of wrong was done by them to themselves. Since Tamils came under 1983 they did wrong to themselves. You cant blame that on anybody. I dont say the gov has been good. They have done a lot of bad. I can say understand that because we have been through a JVP.
          Who funded and supported a terorist org where they live, so naturally you put your lives on harmsway.
          Didnt Tamils living in rest of SL have good opportunities to live, to succeed in life? They did. why because they didnt live in a war zone. So it was not being Tamil that made tamils suffer but living in a war zone. That is exactly why sinhalese in border villages too had to suffer.
          No one in SL with a right mind would say Tamils were not wronged. That is why SL is speaking about a reconciliation process.
          And now tell me what has tamils done for reconciliation?
          1. Has any tamil political party made an apology for the people in south for suicide bombings? for massacres at border villages? did they?
          2. did they make an apology for bombing Dalada Maligawa ?
          3. Apology for massacres at Anuradhapura?
          4. Apology for killing SL leaders?
          what has Tamils done?
          Bringing false allegations like
          1. Genocide of 40,000
          2. Ethnic cleansing
          3. Cultural genocide?
          4. Intern camps
          And now what has gov done?
          1. 13A
          2. gave refuge to people coming from war zone providing them with food, medical and a roof to live under.
          3. Rehabilitation and release of 14,000 cadres.
          4. Not only that gov provided food, medical and education for Tamils living under LTTE for 30 years.
          Should gov do more? yes they should!

          • Burning_Issue

            Such,

            Let me make it clear, I do
            not doubt your sincerity when you say Reconciliation; your intentions are
            clear. However, my point of contention is about what is afoot in terms of
            sinhalisation of North & East. One may say I am being pedantic and abrasive.
            But such claims are being echoed from various sources including the
            international NGOs. These actions are not incidental; they are being executed
            with ulterior motive. This is not true Reconciliation that you would like to
            espouse; rather it is aimed at weakening the preponderancy of the Tamils in
            those areas resulting in eventual subjugation.

            Even though vast majority
            of the Tamils inside and outside abhorred the modus operandi of the LTTE, they
            had no option but to pray for their survival even at a weakened level. This was
            because; the Tamils feared that the last barrier was the LTTE preventing them
            from being over run by the Sinhala. This fear is raw and omnipresent among the
            Tamils; the post war actions of the GOSL has solidified this fear. You can see
            this in manifestation with the NPC results; infrastructure developments have no
            meaning to them but their security.

            “Since Tamils came under
            1983 they did wrong to themselves. You cant blame that on anybody.”

            I wonder if the
            predicament was reversed; how the Sinhala would have behaved! One man (VP) had
            decided that he would be the king come what may. He decided that he would be
            the judge, jury and executioner of many of his own kith and kin. He ordered the
            killings of prominent Tamil intellectuals and politicians in order to promote
            separatism. Yes you can equate VP to the entire Tamil population because we did
            not stand up!

            “That is why SL is
            speaking about a reconciliation process. ?And now tell me what has tamils done
            for reconciliation?”

            Such, you should not take
            people like me for idiots. I ask again what Reconciliation? MR set up the LLRC
            commission only after pressure exerted from outside. The first UN resolution
            was on the horizon. The LLRC interim recommendations were submitted while the commission
            was afoot. No actions whatsoever were taken to implement any of them. The LLRC
            Commission made reference to this very point when they made the final
            submission. Are you being serious by saying that the government is talking
            about reconciliation?

            The second UN Resolution
            was centered on the Recommendations of the LLRC Commission; yet, MR has been
            dragging his feet; why? The simple answer is that those recommendations are
            inimical to the demographic manipulations that are being carried out!

            ?”Has any tamil political
            party made an apology for the people in south for suicide bombings? for
            massacres at border villages? did they? ?2. did they make an apology for
            bombing Dalada Maligawa ??3. Apology for massacres at Anuradhapura??4. Apology
            for killing SL leaders?”

            Hold your houses Such. Are
            you equating the LTTE with the Tamil politicians? You may say that the TNA was
            a proxy to LTTE. TNA had no choice; if they had refused, they would have been
            done away with. A form of Tamil polity has survived because TNA played along
            with the LTTE. I do not think that the TNA have anything to apologies for. GR
            should not have ordered the summary executions of the surrendered LTTE
            personnel; they should have been answerable. In their absence, you could do one
            thing; you can ask for an apology from Karuna, Daya Master, and Pulliyan.

            The Tamils have no reason
            to apologies for to anyone as they have suffered from both angles. You listed many
            incidents including “Dalada Maligawa” that LTTE bombed and maimed the southern
            people. Do you have any idea as to what the SLA had done to the Tamils? It was
            said, every time the LTTE bombed the South, it was in reprisal to a massacre
            either in the North or East. I can give you a chronicle that chronologically
            documented all the events for you to ponder.

            However, I personally
            abhor the killings and the suicide bombings in particular are inhumane and
            despicable. The fanatical actions of VP cannot be condoned in any shape or
            form.

            ?”what has Tamils done?”

            Such, be reasonable! The
            Tamils are not in power; the Sinhalese are! In spite of I will tell you what
            they have done politically. They have invalidated the Vaddukkodai Resolution
            for separation. The TNA Manifesto for NPC has clearly stipulated the united
            nature of Sri Lanka. They have eschewed violence as modus operandi for fighting
            for justice. Please tell me; isn’t this a mammoth shift away from the LTTE
            platform?

            ?”Bringing false
            allegations like?1. Genocide of 40,000?2. Ethnic cleansing?3. Cultural
            genocide??4.”

            Such; from zero civilian
            casualty to 8,000 when challenged with evidences! How do you know how many
            perished without a proper investigation? Why is GOSL reluctant to carry out an
            investigation? You can put this issue to bed if MR were to investigate
            completely transparently; what is stopping him from doing just that?

            “Intern camps?And now what
            has gov done??1. 13A?2. gave refuge to people coming from war zone providing
            them with food, medical and a roof to live under.?3. Rehabilitation and release
            of 14,000 cadres. ?4. Not only that gov provided food, medical and education
            for Tamils living under LTTE for 30 years. ?Should gov do more? yes they
            should!”

            Such; I do recognize that
            some effort was made in this regard. However, many abuses, rapes, and
            disappearances have been documented. If only, a South African style Truth and
            Reconciliation sessions were to take place with international facilitation, one
            would come to know as to what really went on. The sexual violence and raping of
            hapless Tamil women is despicable. After all, they did the same to their own
            kith and kin during the JVP era; one cannot be incredulous that they did not do
            it to the Tamils!

        • sach

          what I meant in my comment for Ajith is, whatever the provacation is we should achieve reconciliation. In case you fail to understand what i meant again

    • pizza guy

      I don’t think you can’t call yourself moderates :)

  • walter

    ” If you have nothing to hide ”
    Why prevent anyone visiting any part of this Island, why prevent anyone from talking to anyone.
    Why prevent an International investigation into any thing that the UN has already mandated.

    It is far better to allow an examination of all events that took place at the final stages of the Civil War.
    Even if a few in the army had committed atrocities, it is better that the International Community looks into these events and the International laws be allowed to play its role.

    By this the Government can wash it’s hands off and the the rest of the Country including the ‘Forces” will know that all laws are applicable to everyone in this Country.
    But the problem appears to be beyond the “Forces”
    Were the “Forces” instructed to act ruthlessly by the hierarchy and is this why they are not prepared to allow an inquiry.
    The responses of the Rajapakse trio at and during the CHOGM and at the press conferences were damaging to the image of this Country.
    Gone are the days when ” CARDBOARD SANDOWS” showed their muscle.
    Gone are the days when dictators used ‘Gas’ to kill their own people.
    Gone are the days when identified communities were suppressed.
    Now new Nations are born, look at former Yugoslavia, Timor and so many African Countries and tiny Islands
    They have all become Nations.
    Why are we frightened to allow an indentified Community to run their own affairs???

    How and why does the Majority Community have the perception that because they are the majority that their permission has to be sought for the minorities to live their lives???

    If this Country and the Politicians keep on pushing the truth and the reality behind this Country will be divided eventually into two or even three, may be four.

    • Viran

      did the US or UK allow for an international inquiry after they invaded Iraq? did they let journalists roam free in post war iraq? no, they get to run the UN security counsel and veto anything against them when everyone knows there were no weapons of Mass destruction.. didn’t they kill and bomb innocent civillians..
      Please stop having double standards just cause we are a small country in the eyes of the world..

      Quoting you Mr Walter … How and why does the Developed countries/super powers (Majority Community) have the perception that because they are the majority that their permission has to be sought for the smaller developing countries (minorities) to live their lives???

    • dan

      Only you guys who live over sea’s have this stupid problem of “minority”. My best friend is a Tamil and I treat him like brother. You guys should seriously come down and tell these stories to the people you meet. You people are asking justice for the murderers who ruined SL for 3 decades. Casualties are something inevitable during a war. The SL armed forces ended it once and for all. That needs to be appreciated.

      Regardless of the ethnic back-ground (Sinhala / hindu / etc) if you are a True Sri Lankan you should be standing up for it for a better future. If not you guys will be “betrayers of your own cause”..!!

  • Dutugamunu

    To Anpu.
    Yes , Anpu I’m agree with you ,but we must consider to punish all who terrorised the country for 30 years too , would you agree with me ? How come on earth that no one dare to raise it ?

    • Anpu

      Dutugamunu
      The LTTE did not come into
      being or grow into a world-class terror outfit in a vacuum. Without the Sinhala Only,
      the Tiger may have remained unborn. Without the Black July, the Tiger may not
      have grown exponentially. If the B-C Pact and the D-C Pact did not miscarry
      (thanks to the midwifery of Sinhala extremism), the LTTE, even if it was born,
      would have remained a fringe group. http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/10/30/oppressed-north-lawless-south/

      • Dutugamunu

        Hello Anpu .
        I can tell you the same story by twisting like this . There would not be a conflict as such if Tamils did not take arms . Dear friend . Please go back to the roots of crisis where you can come for a judgement . What you people are doing now is calling troubles once again . You need to think about the integration . Not segregation . And I must remind you one thing that our earth is tired of worrying and bickering with conflicts.

        • Burning_Issue

          The Sinhala should think about accommodating the Tamils with absolute equality and not attempting to subjugate them!

  • Buddhi

    David Cameron must know this is not his state. The way he behaved in Sri Lanka shows his quality. [Edited out] David Cameron is one of them. We all know what happened to Iraq and Libya. Still thousands of people are being killed there. Where is channel 4? Where is human right organizations? Be true and fair. Let us to built our nation. Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims we live together. We all are in one nation.

  • Shanili

    Well said. Every leader, journalist, or international body, that brings these unanswered questions to world attention, is immediately labelled an LTTE sympathizer. A well known ploy by the regime, that really is beginning to look pathetic, and a feeble attempt to deflect from their crimes. There is no point blaming the entire world for what is not happening here – a so called democratic nation, who is unwilling to have investigations, and cooperate with the those who question their integrity. If the GOSL have nothing to hide, start the investigations and put all accusations to rest. There are thousands of poor mothers, who deserve closure, and have their questions answered. If we were in their shoes, we would want that too. The more the rajapaksa’s stall, avoid,
    reject, blame, and attack those who question, the MORE guilty they look.

  • Steve

    In (Enter ANY country of choice here) a lie well told is worth a thousand facts“

  • Dilshan Siriwardhana

    I didn’t see those so called human right protectors (Human rights watch, Amnesty international etc) or impartial international media (BBC, CH4 etc) done ‘this’ much of job while hundred of thousand civilians have being killed in the 30 year war period. Until 2006, EU was so reluctant to ban LTTE the most terrific terrorist group in the world as USA says; also the high commissioner for human rights did not made a single statement or concern on that mater. Only they as well as the writer of this article has become concerned about human right in Sri Lanka for the specific period of last battle after which 20mn of Srilankans got a glimpse of hope for their future prosperity, after which they feel that they have no uncertainty about the lives of their loved ones who leaves the home in the morning, after which they feel that they can look upon the one next to them as he is not going to blast at the end of the day, after which they could feel sympathy for a pregnant mother and help her without suspecting that she is not wearing a suicide kit upon her unborn child. Personally I don’t know how many of european have felt that feeling every living moment of the life.
    Of course there were and are some human right issues those can’t be neglected in Srilanka. But these parties who have never concerned about human rights of Srilankans when they could have really done something to prevent or reduce the pain except pouring crocodile tears like this, are not the ones who should feel sorry for Srilankans aiming the votes of the foreign living tamils or their money which were responsible for 30 year terror that suffered by all the Srilankans including their own tamil brothers and sisters those whom they use as their bait to get those green cards or migrant status for western countries.
    The only question to be asked is whether with those tearful faces any tamil mother, widow, daughter did pleaded for punishment of SL gov. As I heard they only pleaded to have their children, husbands, fathers back. Every Srilankan has lost any of their relations because of this war; so many went missing. This is something about a country called Srilanka; very few of outsiders ever has been able to understand how its people think and what they want; they can smile all the time, they can cry more than making other also cry, also they can forget and forgive far more than any one else. They will cry forever in their hurts for those they lost, but will forgive for the sake of the ones who survived.
    Neither Canada, Britain nor diaspora have done anything special to improve situation. Of course their aids haven’t been unaccounted, but nothing special in the post war situation. If they really want wipe those tears from those faces only thing anyone can do is making sure that their children have that prosperous future that they have been dreaming which is only can be achieved in a developed Srilanka.

    Of course knowing the truth is always a comfort for mind, but that is only for that moment; there are so many other things to have a comfortable life. If you don’t care, you can comfort someone with truth for a moment and let it to become only a painful memory.

  • Mevan Perera

    This is the so called truth behind all these UK human rights imposters , the following photo was taken after LTTE bombing in Kebithigollewa , Sri Lanka on 15 June 2006 , anyone can see the footage and confirm this . Most of these protests are launched by inciting the Tamil nationals who are living abroad by LTTE worshiping terrorists using misinformation and misleading them . i say to the world LTTE has no intention of ever bringing Tamil people the status they say they will give and this photo will confirm that. if you say Sri Lanka has committed war crimes and hold up a banner which has a photo of that it sounds sri lanka has done so , but when you really realize this photo was taken of a father who was left without a child in a bombing done by LTTE ,its very clear who has done the war crimes .

  • chani

    You foreign
    journalist should stop coming to Sri Lanka for a
    few days and report as if you know everything that is going on here. Please
    look at the rot in your own countries. The writer maybe hoping CHOGM will be a PR debacle
    to Sri Lanka but it was not. In fact David Cameron himself toned down his post
    CHOGM rhetoric after visiting Jaffna because he realized that there are two sides
    to a story. What you western journalist should learn is to respect local sensitivities
    and sensibilities while here. And please,
    we are no longer a British colony. Time to get out of your “colonizer” mentality
    and stop preaching to us,.

    • Deborah Philip

      Hi Chani, I am not a foreign journalist. Born and bred in Sri Lanka and a graduate of the University of Colombo. Don’t put Sri Lanka or Sri Lankans into a box where its inhabitants can only be recognized through stereotypical names! I can also read all 3 languages (i.e English, Sinhala and Tamil) and studied Brahmi and Pali (albeit very briefly). I’m a poor linguist for all of that but I’m hoping this will make me Sri Lankan enough for you :)

    • Anpu

      I hope this is clear to you.
      “Cameron said on Saturday: “Let me be very clear. If an investigation is not completed by March, then I will use our position on the United Nations human rights council to work with the UN human rights commission and call for a full credible and independent international inquiry.” https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/if-not-sri-lanka-completed-war-crimes-inquiry-by-march-i-will-push-un-for-an-international-inquiry-cameron/

    • SF

      Chani – Deborah Philip is very much a Sri Lankan writer! I think you need to get your facts straight before you suggest that her’s are wrong! :) Incidentally, it doesn’t seem to me that her facts are wrong at all!

    • Ruki

      Well said Chani

    • JustTheFax

      “Please look at the rot in your own countries”
      That’s exactly what this piece is – a look at the rot in Deborah Philip’s own country of Sri Lanka.

  • Dutugamunu

    Deborah.
    What you have exposed is absolutely true . I have no hesitation of admitting the state repression which has widely spreaded right cross the country . You must not simply forget the level of threats that has overwhelmed the whole country in general . But it is not very much unusual to all Sri lankan . You may think that I try to make it simple but I would not take it as simple as you think . but majority people have not taken it rightly .

    You must be aware of what we faced since 48 . Just imagine , In 89,90 we lost as much as people we lost in 30 years war . Although these two incidents took contextually different Theme , did we learn from there ? However, when we come back to main queries of the artical where raises fundamental accusations since last days of war to cHOGM . In a way that we can raise many questions , like channel 4 and BBC but we must know what they are really after . We do not need smoking gun evidance to prove it . Libya , Syria ,and Iraq are very near examples . What these people are doing is delivering the message in a way they can benifit tomorrow . They armed Libyan civilians in a way to expel GADDAFI . GADDAFI had secured his position to stay in power for many more years and western world knew it . As long as he stays in power that westerners are unable to achieve what they want. When the right time was arrived western world did not hesitate to deliver what they were waiting for decades. Has Libya been achieving what they want ? No, never. But they are doing today what westerners are wanted .
    Therefore the plight we face now in Sri Lanka would not possible to defeat in a way that westerners want , instead I strongly believe we have chances of achieve some sort of betterment through discussions with the government what could perfectly fit to us .
    Thus, I suggest those who really expect peace and harmony among us should open a new dialog , unless has been trying to play same song with new tone will not work. Every body must prepair to be proud being Sri lankan and work together to make it truly happen .

  • Pragmatist2013

    The authors poses a key question at the end — “Is David Cameron really interested in Sri Lanka’s human rights abuses or is he just trying to gain some votes back home?” As a Sri Lankan living in the west, my observation of events like CHOGM is that they are: 1) an absolute waste of time and money, 2) created to provide an opportunity for politicians from former colonial powers to relive their past OR showcase how much power and control they still had over their colonial subjects. I submit that NONE of these countries that now seek to castigate Sri Lanka are doing it for the right reasons. The motivations behind every single politician like David Cameron can be traced back to their alliances with diaspora Tamil Tiger outfits that are intent on destroying Sri Lanka by hook or by crook. The people of Sri Lanka have decided to move on beyond the war. Others should stick to cleaning their own stables.

    I cannot find a single achievement that the colonial subject countries ever achieved through CHOGM, and I wonder what keeps CHOGM going. I am no fan of MR and his cronies who, despite some good stuff like expressways, are also slowly destroying SL by attacking the press and corrupting and dismantling the judicial system. However, MR was elected by the people of SL and “people deserve the leaders they elect”.

  • pissek

    There are many simple facts that Sri Lankans will never ever accept

    1. Tamils were mistreated in Sri Lanka and that’s why LTTE was fuled by Tamils in this country

    2. LTTE was ruthless terrorist outfit no doubt about it. But a democratically elected government behaved exactly the same way on their same people in north (Many will shout no no no our government didn’t)

    3. Many Tamils in north wanna settle and live their normal life but military continuously used to disturb their day to day life (Military involved in almost everything in north, where it should need a civil management)

    4. Government looting the country (both north and south) and people turn blind eye on it, because they love to see the ghost of LTTE is being chased (though there are no LTTE in this country anymore)

    5. Many say we Sri Lanka won the war alone. Meh.. I doubt it. Sri Lanka won the war because countries like China, India, Russia, USA, Pakistan supplied weapons to SL Army. More than weapons valuable intelligence and cracking down ltte supporters and arms dealers abroad.

    6. No need for federal in north, just let them live the life they wanna live and preserve the identity they wanna preserve. Nope we Sri Lankans won’t allow that because most of us want Tamils in north to mix up with us and lose their identity.

    7. TN politicians shout like dogs but they won’t do a shit about Sri Lankan Tamils. Take Karunanithi for example, he controlled TN during 2009 end of war. You guys have no idea how he cooperated with congress to fool the public of TN and to help Sri Lanka proceed with offensive. But we will call him the leader of Toilet Nadu

    Day by day we are walking into dark ages. Keep dreaming about a prosperous country but it’ll be a distance dream as long as you address the real issues in this country than chasing and resurrecting the ghosts of LTTE.