The Politics of ‘Aluthgama’

Photo: Paula Bronstein for The Global Mail

“The Muhammedans, an alien people, who in the early part of the 19th century were common traders, by Shylockian methods became prosperous like the Jews […] What the German is to the Britisher that the Muhammedan is to the Sinhalese. He is an alien to the Sinhalese by religion, race and language […] The whole nation in one day have risen against the Moor people. The causes are economic and spiritual…”

Anagarika Dharmapala, Letter of 15th June, 1915 (in A. Guruge, ed, Return to Righteousness (1991), p. 540-541

The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and its many monks take their ‘professional’ duty – the promotion of Sinhala Buddhism – quite seriously. And recently, they decided to spread a bit of their Sinhala Buddhism, in Aluthgama, Beruwala and a few surrounding areas in Southern Sri Lanka.

Gnanasara thera called his audience to finish off the Muslims if a single Sinhalese is touched. A singer, Madhumadawa Aravinda, invoked the lines of the late Tibetan S. Mahinda himi (“… es gedi walata hena gahalada sihalunne”). And the mobs did the rest. Around 4 people (Muslims) were killed, over 80 were injured, many houses and shops were torched, there was terror. Violent and forceful retaliation and defence came from the Muslim community. All of this occurred while the President and the Defence-Secretary were absent, away, overseas. Apparently the trend did not stop there, for reports emerged of attacks directed at a mosque in Jaffna and the ‘No Limit’ store in Panadura as well.

What ‘Aluthgama’ represented has sought to be analyzed in many ways, and if you place inordinate attention on the single speech made by Gnanasara thera before violence was unleashed, it would be difficult to forgive someone for imagining that this is largely about the BBS attempting to threaten the State, to capture the State, to promote a form of rule dominated by the monks and military. That, I believe, is a somewhat simple assessment of a very complex phenomenon; it is also not innocent, for in attempting to portray the BBS as a threat to the State, one not only misunderstands the nature of the State but also helps (quite deliberately) the political leadership to evade responsibility. Portray the BBS as the singular threat, save the leadership.

But the BBS is the underside of Sinhala-Buddhism, and the natural culmination of this project was going to be a very violent one. And ‘Aluthgama’ is a political moment which reveals many things, not only about the BBS and the Sinhala-Buddhist project, but also about the character of the State, its biases and prejudices, and alas, about ourselves.

As a preface, however, I would add that my critique is not to be read as an endorsement of everything that is done by the Muslim community. As a critic of institutionalized religion (and certain religious-customs and practices), in particular, I have absolutely no intention of taking the side of this or that religious group. But I do subscribe to certain political views, so I don’t intend to make an ‘objective’ assessment, whatever that means. My concern is largely about critiquing and/or problematizing the politics of the community and the State I belong to, a politics dominated by the Sinhala-Buddhist community; irrespective of whether or not members of the Muslim community undertake a similarly self-critical exercise concerning their own community.

To return to the topic, four inter-related dimensions of ‘Aluthgama’ are of particular concern and reveal much about the BBS, about Sinhala-Buddhist politics, the State and ourselves.

BBS: a threat to the State?

One of the first questions we are made to ask is: is the BBS a threat to the State? I think the answer is ‘no’ and furthermore, it is also the wrong question, for a number of reasons.

For firstly, the BBS is best conceived as being part of the State in the sense that its ideology and project are part of the dominant ideology and project of the State, which have been carried out over the years by successive governments. It is a Sinhala-Buddhist outfit promoting the project of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism; and in a State that recognizes (especially constitutionally) the prominence of Buddhism, a majority never rushes to view an entity such as the BBS as an aberration, an exception or a threat of any sort whatsoever.

Secondly, a group such as the BBS cannot exist or sustain its campaign without the support of powerful elements of the regime. But more importantly, it cannot do so with the backing of the regime alone. It has to have a strong sympathetic populace; and it has. I have been struck by the level of support and sympathy that the BBS and its broader political project have attracted, especially after the incidents in Aluthgama. And that’s reason to worry. From the legal and business professionals, right down to the students at local (especially Southern) universities, the level of sympathy that is expressed in favour of the BBS is quite staggering, even while one is willing to critique the resulting violence. And this element of the debate needs to be vitally understood and remembered before anyone attempts to critique the BBS as being a threat to the State or the government.

Additionally, of course, it is not just the power of the politicians or of the people that makes the BBS strong and sustainable. It is the power of the robe as well; as Gnanasara thera himself has stated.

Thirdly, I do not think that I heard anything new or strange or surprising from the BBS (especially Gnanasara thera) in Aluthgama. At best, what I heard was simply the express articulation of what one thought the BBS really stood for. And that’s the only difference. And that rhetoric very clearly showed how well the current structure of the dominant arms of the State – the Army and the Police – conforms to the wishes of the BBS. When Gnanasara thera screams approvingly that there is still a Sinhala Army (Sinhala hamudaawak) and a Sinhala Police force (Sinhala policiyak), he is giving expression to the idea that this is what it is, this is how it ought to be.

Fourthly, as for Gnanasara thera’s critique of the Rajapaksas and in particular the President, a keen observer would have detected the subtle changes in tone and expression. In other words, Gnanasara’s critique of, say, Minister Rauf Hakeem, is far different from his critique of President Rajapaksa. And the claim that the Sinhalese have no leader is the standard Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist argument; that the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists are not entirely happy with certain post-war developments is not news. For example, Dr. Gunadasa Amarasekera’s interesting ‘Amathaka Wu Urumaya: Kawandayata Hisak’ (2011) is a book which is inspired by the understanding that the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist project is not being adequately realized in post-war Sri Lanka. This does not mean that they support Mr. Gotabaya Rajapaksa; Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism is neither too simplistic to jump mindlessly from one Rajapaksa to another, nor politically too dumb to openly challenge President Rajapaksa and the State. So what we get in Gnanasara thera’s critique of the Rajapaksas is not really a challenge to the State or the government, but rather another version of that ‘course-correction’ message you get from the likes of Ministers Wimal Weerawansa and Champika Ranawaka. And while openly somewhat distanced from the BBS, come Cabinet meeting time, they too will defend ‘Aluthgama’ to the hilt; as they have done, already.

Fifthly, it is necessary not to underestimate the power of the State. It is a State that has tremendous military might; a State which is powerful enough to effectively suppress any movement if it really wants to. And it has every power to do so; legally, constitutionally, militarily, judicially or in any other imaginable way. The fact that it’s not happening tells us precisely what the BBS is all about. And the BBS narrative is a narrative that the dominant part of the State wishes to agree with, and one the government endorses; for example, the recent statement (‘Right of Reply’) on the Aluthgama-violence by the government at the 26th Session of the UN Human Rights Council amounted to a classic acceptance of the BBS-version of events.

If then what is the fundamental or preliminary question that ‘Aluthgama’ should make us ask?

That question is nothing but the following: is the BBS a threat to the Sinhala-Buddhist project? That’s the preliminary question before all else. And this is where one confronts the major challenge.

For firstly, every shred of evidence tells us that the BBS is not a serious threat to the Sinhala-Buddhist project. Where and how is it a threat when the dominant majority appears to be endorsing the project and is therefore ‘silent’? Where and how is it a threat to Sinhala-Buddhism when the top leadership of the Sangha community appears to be unwilling to critique the BBS and its members so directly and openly? Where and how is it a threat when the likes of Ven. Sobitha are silent? And as I mentioned before, the level of support that the BBS garners within the majority community can be surprisingly high.

And secondly, it is challenging because this question can be answered mainly by the Sinhala-Buddhist community, given that it is the overwhelming majority. And as long as the majority community takes a lukewarm approach, it only goes to prove the obvious. [Another issue to be noted here is that in a State of this nature, what is striking is that the dominant majority gets to ask and answer such a question, while it also arrogates to itself the power to ask and answer a similar question affecting the other ethnic communities. So for example, whether a particular political party or entity is a threat to, say, Tamil nationalism is a question that the Sinhalese would rush to ask and answer even before their respective communities do so.]

So, in short, it is difficult to read the BBS as a threat to the State. And far more fundamentally, it is difficult to read it even as a threat to Sinhala-Buddhism. That the BBS is the underside of Sinhala Buddhism is best proven by the very statement of its leader, Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi who has a problem with the BBS, but largely (and perhaps only) with regard to the words its members use, with the manner of expression and articulation – and not the broader politics it stands for.

And if the BBS is not a threat, either to the State or to Sinhala-Buddhism, what it means to the Muslim people (and indeed, the Tamil people) is terribly damaging.

Rajapaksas: the only option!

Another dimension of the problem is that one political message that ‘Aluthgama’ seeks to popularize is perhaps that the political opposition in the country is absolutely powerless in the face of marauding monks, communal riots and violence. The Aluthgama episode did show how ineffective the opposition parties, especially the UNP was, in terms of at least getting the mainstream media to report on what was happening to Aluthgama (in fact, only a few laudable exceptions exist, such as The Daily Financial Times and Ravaya). Even some of its members were attacked by mobs. In other words, there is a famous question asked by the people in the South, even by those who are very critical of the government. It is: but then who else can govern? (‘wena kauda karanna inne?’). It is to this question that the BBS, perhaps unwittingly, provided an answer. That irrespective of the violence caused, you cannot even imagine a world without the current leadership.

And that question is almost always linked to the threat of violence, or impending violence, isn’t it? It is almost as if Sri Lankans know that violence is around the corner and will come from somewhere (internal or external), sometime, anytime. But note, the question implies that the root causes are not really the concern here; rather the concern is about how that violence can be contained, managed. In other words, what’s of concern appears to be how and who ensures that the situation is ‘under control’. And the situation will be ‘under control’, the people seem to automatically answer, if the Rajapaksas are in control. Politically and policy-wise, the Sinhala Southern political establishment is no opposition to the government; such opposition comes only from the Tamil political leadership

A Challenge within Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalism

‘Aluthgama’ further challenges our understanding of the dynamics of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism. There is a certain nebulous, post-modern, flavour to the brand of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism we are witnessing today.

Take the BBS, for example. Its complexity arises in its ability to show that it is endorsed by the Sangha community but also critiqued by some of its members. The BBS we assume has clear support of the political leadership, but it has also bamboozled certain members of the public and political analysts by its critique of the Rajapaksas. Its rhetoric is deplored by many, its project gladly embraced by the very same people. It’s a tremendous problem for co-existence, but is also considered by many within the majority community to be a necessary element in post-war Sri Lankan politics. Opposition (Sinhala) political parties would like to hate it, but their critique is often quite vague.

More interestingly, the BBS is helpful for certain Sinhala-Buddhist national parties to raise issues that might not have been raised before, but it is also constantly raising the nationalist bar making the high jump contest a challenging one. So the BBS not only challenges our understanding of the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist project, it is a challenge within the Sinhala-Buddhist domain, challenging others within that camp to show how much more Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist they are. It is a knot within a knot, a challenge within a challenge; and where parties and entities feel that they cannot meet this challenge (especially on religious issues), they would now attempt to overcome it by being ultra-nationalistic on other issues, such as accountability and political power-sharing. Furthermore, given the complex internal politics of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism, the strong defence of the BBS-version of ‘Aluthgama’ by Ministers Weerawansa and Ranawaka tell that the very arrest and banning of the BBS would be politically challenging for entities such as the NFF and the JHU.

Tamil: the inconvenient ‘other’

Finally, the responses to Aluthgama and the solidarity that came to be shown by many via social media outlets reminded, I felt, the convenience with which this solidarity could be extended to the Muslim people, and not the Tamil people. It also showed how very differently we tend to address Tamil concerns about violence, atrocities, accountability.

The Tamil has for the most part been an inconvenient ‘other’ for the Sinhalese, whereas with regard to the Muslim people this has not been that explicit. Today, that the latter too is an inconvenient entity is a message that the BBS and many other entities have sought to suggest; of course, their ideological forefathers had done so many decades ago. But moments like this remind us that the underlying biases and prejudices, the structural and systematic violence that extends to the Tamils, their political aspirations, their lands, etc., ought to be seriously acknowledged, discussed and critiqued by those Sinhalese who are more comfortable standing with the Muslims. For the accusation that The Island editorial (of 21 June 2014) makes – that “[t]oday, in the southern parts of the country in peacetime they are doing what the LTTE did to the Muslims in the North and the East” – is not just an accusation of spreading terror or conducting ethnic cleansing of the Muslims, but also one of a deeply rooted policy that couldn’t have just emerged after the war in respect to the Muslims alone.

In short, the progressive Sinhalese forces need to stand with the Tamils as well as with the Muslims, just as they stand with their own Sinhala people, while recognizing the differences in how the State and its many structural prejudices get directed at these different communities and peoples.

Conclusion

In a country where the arrest of Gnanasara thera, which ought to have been the most direct and simple thing to do in the presence of such glaring evidence of the said monk inciting violence and hatred, the absence of any such arrest (at least, to date) tells us what we need to know about this phenomenon.

It is not simply that some powerful official is behind the BBS. Rather, the very arrest of Gnanasara thera is problematic for the government for reasons ranging from the understanding that Gnanasara thera did nothing wrong to the Sinhala-Buddhist cause (and that it is the BBS that is playing the reactionary/defensive role in the face of an ever expanding and ever threatening Muslim population), to the fear that there will be a strong reaction from the broader Sinhala-Buddhist electorate if any serious arrests were to take place. That tells much about the BBS, the State and the government.

For the legal issues that arise due to certain actions of Sinhala and Muslim religious and/or business entities, high-level dialogue and necessary legal action should be taken. But ‘Aluthgama’ is ideally the moment which calls for a commitment to a serious and radical restructuring of the State, by questioning the role and prominence afforded to the majority religion (and of course, the broader issue of ‘religion’ itself), about the unitary character of the state and its many serious limitations, about the role and place of different ethnic and religious communities within the country, about the space that exists for the development and realization of their political, economic and cultural freedoms and autonomy. But this moment might not be grasped, for the so-called concerned and moderate political, religious and policy-making intelligentsia in the country provides no serious challenge to the present structure and ideology of the State.

Why so? Because the dominant ideology of the State with the active help of groups such as the BBS has been successful in doing two things: first, in inculcating in the minds of the ‘moderate’ community that such radical change is actually impossible; second, through years of doing so, the State has created a community which has been made to realize that the little reform that they promote – which being terribly ineffective – is actually quite revolutionary.

So what happens as a result? What happens then is that after an ‘Aluthgama’, you begin to demand the same political leadership to hold the alleged perpetrators accountable. What happens is that when you realize after sometime that that was never going to work, you find that you are now pushed to engage in that fleeting but soothing palliative, that long forgotten conference on inter-religious harmony. What happens then is that you attend it, hear what wonderful things the Buddha, Christ or Prophet Muhammad had to say, come home happy (given that it was the moderate and politically-correct enterprise) but exhausted, and go to sleep. The next day you wake up to another ‘Aluthgama’. And then? And then you find that before you could even think about it, the government had not only organized such a conference but has even been thoughtful enough to invite you to attend it.

[Note: this is a longer version of the author’s weekly Sunday column in The Nation newspaper]

  • kligon

    Should`nt refer to these men as Buddhist monks……these are just “Men in Saffron”……!

  • Bodhi

    Kalana wants to arrest Gnanasara and make him a hero. S.J.V.Chelvanayagam and EMVNaganathan in 1956 held “non-violent” sathygarhas on the GalleFace green where they distributed wooden pistols. They successfully got themselves thrown into the Beira Lake and emerged as Heros. SWDR did not anticipate that, or the CIA working thorugh Ossie Korea, Buddharakkhita and Somarama to do a Mosaddegh on SWRD.
    Rajapaksa has been a very successful politician because he does not make the mistakes that students in the 101 science-po class makes. The Ground Views analysts, or the DyanJ Gramsci- quoting types have not get anywhere yet in politics, or political science. Look at their predictions and political prognostications right though out the Eelam war. They have almost all been wrong.

  • Shahul

    The article ignores the fact that extremist Islamist groups has been growing in Sri lanka (and also in other countries), with the aid of money from wealthy Saudi patrons. It ignores that a number of Jahadist Mullahs had arrived in Sri Lanka and had been building up Islamist extremist groups, leading to inter-Muslim troubles in Beruwala, Dhargatown, Akkaripattu and other places. The reaction in Sri Lanka has been a growth of counter movements from among the Sinhalese as well. This is similar to what has happened in the US, Canada, or France. The writer should read up about the Front national in France.
    He should also hear that Jihadist groups had assembled in Dhargatown already before the Posn day, and a planned action had been proposed by the Jihadists. The local newspapers or local reporters haven’t revealed the facts, perhaps in fear of reprisals from the Jihadists. Curiously enough, ALL the shops damaged in Dhargatown are buildings owned by Sinhalese!

    • David Blacker

      where is the evidence of these extremist Islamist groups? if they exist, why has no one reported on them? why has the defense apparatus not targeted these groups if they are such a threat?

      • PaulN

        What is this? Are we seeing the first cracks in the hard core regime supporters? Is trouble getting too close for comfort ?
        Rats starting to leave the sinking ship is certainly a good sign.

        • David Blacker

          perhaps for the first time you are seeing beyond the blinkers simply because my opinion happens to coincide with yours. i’m sure that whenever that happy coincidence ends you’ll be back to calling me the same old names you used to on CT.

      • alex f

        Agreed. But I think Rajapakse wouldn’t mind the emergence of some sort of small, containable (if there is such a thing), Islamic extremism, as he may be hoping that it makes him a useful asset in the ‘war on terror’ and makes the UN investigation go away. In fact, it is plausible, he is encouraging it by unleashing the BBS.

        • David Blacker

          i don’t think it is anything to do with the war on terror, or any need to ingratiate himself with the US. the fact that Gotabhaya — the ace of spades on any diaspora list of alleged war criminals — is a US citizen with no sign of the US acting to reign him is evidence enough that the US has no interest in regime change in SL.

          • alex f

            That is one interpretation. The other is that it is a multi-faceted, stick and carrot process and the US is going to work with the options it has to coerce the regime to act as it wishes to. There may not be a need for regime change right now, if the regime does what you want it to.

          • David Blacker

            i don’t think the US has any interest in SL or what the regime is doing beyond having to do something when it is lobbied. the US will be quite happy if SL just plays the hypocritical global game that everyone else does. that’s why the US and/or India has helped remove the testicles from most of the UN resolutions on SL up to now. it is just the GoSL and certain other nationalist elements that are hyping the theory of a confrontational US just to keep the locals scared and angry and malleable. on the other side, some elements in the diaspora are doing the same to keep the Tamils interested and loosen up their wallets.

          • Alex f

            Similar to the GoSL views, this analysis grossly over estimates the power of the Diaspora lobby.

          • David Blacker

            don’t be silly. have i even mentioned the diaspora? and wasn’t it in fact you that called the latter “all powerful”? also, how exactly is my viewpoint similar to the GoSL’s when the latter is in fact suggesting that everything is an American conspiracy?

          • alex f

            No, you claimed that US policy on Sri Lanka was just responding to the lobbying .. well if lobbying can get the US to sponsor 3 unhcr resolutions .. that would implicitly be a powerful lobby. I am saying all this talk of the Diaspora is a red herring … the problem is Sri Lanka is an extremist (genocidal) state, and so it like other extreme regimes (Sudan, North Korea, Burma) is on the US policy radar, fortunately.

          • alex f

            and btw, as you clearly missed it, my use of the term ‘all powerful’ in my comment, was irony.

          • David Blacker

            so you’re claiming that lobby groups and the diaspora are one and the same??? because, i assure you, i’m saying nothing of the sort. most of the resolutions on SL have been fairly toothless, so i don’t know where you get it that these lobby groups are “powerful” (or are you being ironic again?)? once more, i haven’t mentioned the diaspora at all in my argument. are you not paying attention? should i use shorter sentences?

            the only countries on the US radar are countries that are of importance to US national interests. you seem to see everything in black and white, with monolithic diasporas and governments, when in reality all of these are made up of smaller interest groups. there are groups within the diaspora that are interested in toppling the SL state, and there are elements within the US and the UN that are affected by lobbyists representing anti-SL groups. that doesn’t mean that the whole of the diaspora or the whole of the US, or of the UN, are interested in SL. the US, like most nations, is primarily focused on its national interests and is inclined to ignore anything that doesn’t affect it or its interests too blatantly. as long as everyone plays the game, the world will turn. the US is probably looking for excuses to let SL off the hook as the emasculated resolutions and the repeated invitations to SL to help draft those very resolutions evidence. it is simply the GoSL’s stubborn refusal to back down and play the game — for the same narrow reasons as Saddam (which again i have already explained to you) — that has led to this conflict.

          • alex f

            I don’t think the Tamil lobbies are powerful. I think they do their bit on awareness etc, but in terms of ultimate decision making I think there are much more powerful entities with Sri Lanka on the agenda.
            You can use sentences as short as you want – without a sound position behind them they are all a little meaningless.
            Your interpretation of US policy is all very ‘Great Game’ and frankly outdated. It fails to explain the US/EU/IC interest in the series of multi-coloured revolution around the world. The term you need to look up in the dictionary is ‘Multi-Faceted’. I can’t teach you contemporary foreign policy, but there are numerous courses on it in credible academic institutions, which means they are by definition outside Sri Lanka. Now I know why military intelligence is an oxymoron.

          • David Blacker

            lol, is that last sentence part of the tone of voice you like this discussion to have, Alex? can’t take what you like to dish out, eh? no wonder liberals are largely seen as hypocrites.

            the US, EU, and “IC” (whatever that is) policies are all driven by national or regional interests, nothing more. within those interests, when there is space or coincidental parallels with liberal paths, those entities will support liberal goals. the hard fact is that nations like the US are perfectly willing to support and prop up absolute despots like the Saudi royal family, and racist states like Israel, has no hesitation in lying to the UN and breaking international law to invade a sovereign nation and hold foreign nationals in illegal prisons like Guantanamo Bay, as long as it benefits the national interest. if you cannot see that and prefer to believe in some naive liberal liberation movement that drives western nations, go for it. i have nothing further to add that could sway you, i’m sure.

  • Edward

    Yes, the law should be applied equally. for instance, why is Sharia La allowed in some areas? Why did the jmmit-Ulela allowed to assemble 800 Muslims children and order the men to wear beards and caps, while the women were required to wear the dark sack with little slits. Why are mulsims allowed to ride moter bicycles without helmets? Why is it that the mainstream Islam society itself is frightened by the extremist islam groups ?
    Why did Narendra Modi, the anti-Muslim leader, get elected so decisively?
    What has happened to the mainstream political parties in Europe? they are lolosing because the majority of those peoples have recognized the danger of Islamist extrimism.
    What has happened in Iraq?
    The Buddhist reaction is also the samething, and not the “sinhala Buddist” bete noire that the Colobo Intellectuals have been battling against, since the days of Collette and Tarzie Wittachchi.
    Because the majority of the people have recognized the danger of Islamist extrimism.
    Ground views theorists are too far away from ground realities.

  • David Blacker

    it is important to remember that sympathetic feelings towards the Tamils have been diluted by 30 years of war during which non-Tamils were also subjected to atrocities at least as bad as (if not worse than) those perpetrated on the Tamils. if social media had been present in July 1983, i have no doubt that there would have been similar feelings of sympathy and solidarity expressed then as there is today in support of the Muslims.

    • alex f

      The atrocities by the state on Tamils were far worse simply because to start with the State was much, much bigger than the LTTE. Further, there has always been a genocidal aspect to State violence – the use of rape as a weapon of war for example, which the LTTE were never accused of. Anyway there are also political points I agree with in Kalana’s article which I will pick upon on a separate strand.

      • David Blacker

        as has been already explained several times to you the genocidal aspect of both sides is similar in motivation. i’m not exactly sure what you mean by “worse”; do you mean numerically worse? do you think a dead Tamil felt “worse” than a dead Sinhalese or Muslim? it hasn’t been established that rape was or is being used as a weapon of war in SL and you’ll build a more solid argument if you don’t use wishful thinking as a component.

        unfortunately you seem to have focused again on the blame game of who did worse rather than on my point explaining the wave of online sympathy for the Muslims. i think many Tamils in fact begrudge this sympathy (at least going on what i have seen of comments by the diaspora leadership on this and other sites).

        • alex f

          Yes this has been discussed. The point is that the number of dead tamils was substantially greater (and is carrying on today). Thus your point that the Tamils atrocities were ‘as bad if not worse’ is not true by any measure. I have made the point on genocide and the external verdicts on the matter.

          I think this evidence (link below) is credible. Would be interest to see a counter.

          http://ptsrilanka.org/

          • David Blacker

            the number of Tamil deaths is certainly greater because the war took place primarily in the NE and the Tamils were being killed by both sides. however, i don’t really think a relatively larger bodycount makes the crime worse. but if you insist on persisting with one side is worse than the other, rather than focus on my point, please go ahead.

          • Kelum

            @David , You say “non-Tamils were also subjected to atrocities at least as bad as (if not worse than) those perpetrated on the Tamils.”

            Now do you have any factual basis for the “at least as bad as (if not worse than)” part?. You don’t like the body count as a valid measure? Fine with me! But then what measuring units did you use when you made the above statement? Number of women raped? Number of Journalists killed or made to disapear? Number of deliberate killings of civilians as reported by credible, neutral sources like UTHR(J) who have always been fiercely critical of both sides? If you are struggling to come up with an objective measure to backup your above claim, then the claim is only useful in exposing the fact that you are hopelessly biased.

          • Fitzpatrick

            Thank you Kelum very insightful comment. David Blacker has gone conspicuously silent since Inoka and I asked him about MARGA and their claims.
            Of course I am yet to see any proof that MARGA invited anyone critical of the ruling regime to present data but I am happy to be corrected on this !

          • David Blacker

            Kelum, i am really uninterested in conducting a free history class here. if you’re really interested in the statistics, go look for them yourself. the UTHR(J) reports are a good place to start. the internet itself has a very comprehensive and detailed listing of Tiger (and other separatist) violence against civilians. if you’d rather believe that one community has a monopoly on grief and victimhood, go ahead. i’m not too bothered. my comment, which most of you have managed to miss or ignore, was about racism, sympathy for racism, and empathy for the victims, and why both of these exist in varying degrees.

          • Kelum

            Wow David! I think you would make a politician blush when it
            comes to throwing out a lots of words while trying to steer clear of a simple
            question. Before discussing the question of who needs a history lesson, how about answering the question I asked you first? To refresh your memory here is the question again “What is the ‘unit of measure’ you used when you made your claim comparing the magnitudes of atrocities against Tamils vs Non Tamils?” Is it so hard to understand? You have made it clear that you don’t like body count as the yard stick. Then let’s hear about what yardstick you used! I hope you used some yardstick! You didn’t simply make it up did you? :-)

            Instead of answering the question, you have chosen to make
            an allegation about me which seem to be based purely on your own imagination. After answering my original question, please could you remind me which part of my comment implies that I would “rather believe that one community has a monopoly on grief and victimhood”?

          • David Blacker

            i believe i have explained my measurement on the impact of the atrocities in a response to Alex further down the thread.

          • Kelum

            How about a direct answer David? Unless you are having difficulty backing up your claim with facts?

          • David Blacker

            by facts, i assume you mean statistics. it isn’t about the numbers, and if you read my response to Alex, you will see my view on the matter. if you prefer to view things according to the numbers, go for it. i couldn’t really care less.

          • David Blacker

            i had already read the PT verdict at the time of its release which was why i called it a joke. most of it is based on assumptions and guesswork, or built on contested statistics. if you want a rebuttal of the actual claimed evidence, the Marga review of the Darusman Report is pretty adequate (it dates back to the time the allegations were first made, but since no new evidence has come to light it still stands):

            http://www.margasrilanka.org/documents/darusman-seminar-report.pdf

          • Fitzpatrick

            How credible is this MARGA institute !

          • David Blacker

            do you have any reason to doubt their credibility — beyond you being unable to counter their opinions?

          • Fitzpatrick

            Yes, I do. The UN had access to witnesses who could testify without fear of reprisals !
            The UN had access to world class experts in forensics and these are people who have dealt with such tragedies in other parts of the world. Are you claiming such expertise?

            So if I have no reason to doubt MARGA’s credibility beyond being able to counter them..by extension, do you/your government have any reason to doubt the experts from the UN/HRW/AI –beyond you/your government being unable to counter their opinions?

            Now that we are talking of “experts” what is your take on the 3 people appointed to oversee the international investigation? Are they CREDIBLE enough for you/your government?

          • David Blacker

            clearly, Fitz, you have not bothered to read the Marga report, or you wouldn’t be asking such idiotic and uninformed questions. if you had read the Darusman Report (probably you haven’t) you would have known that the report doesn’t state in what capacity the unnamed witnesses made their claims, so there is no way to know whether they were experts. the Darusman panel itself doesn’t have any forensic qualifications, and if they consulted any forensic experts, the report doesn’t say so.

            the Marga critique of the Darusman Report did not require forensic experts because no forensic evidence was produced by the UN panel and therefore didn’t require similar experts to refute. the Darusman Report’s allegations against the GoSL was on policy (civil and military), its implications on military strategy and tactics, and its implications on the handling of the NE population in the immediate aftermath, and the legal ramifications of the above. to critique this, Marga gathered a panel of experts in IHL, military strategy, tactics, operations, and history, as well as individuals experienced in the handling of refugees.

            i urge you to read both the Darusman and Marga reports rather than asking silly and uniformed questions that clearly indicate that you are mostly ignorant about the subject you are so vociferous about.

          • Inoka Karu

            Are you pulling people’s legs David? In this country of pervasive influence of a family and one ministry do you expect anyone to disagree with what the regime preaches? Have we forgotten Lasantha W? Have we forgotten Iqbal Athas? Have we forgotten the attacks on Uthayan newspapers? Have we forgotten the blocking of Colombo Telegraph? Have we forgotten the attacks on Sirasa? Do I need to go on?

            Besides, MARGA is a Sri Lankan institution(dominated by people from the majority community) defending a Sri Lankan army (dominated by people from the majority community). I think I see a conflict of interest !

            (Well surely you have not forgotten the claim by the government that Ms. Pillay is not neutral given her long lost connections to Tamil Nadu, though the lady has made it clear she is from SA, so then what about the MARGA people?) How can you claim it is credible?

          • alex f

            David, I am afraid I agree with Inoka and Fitz. For someone who seems to engage logically, when the time comes to concede a point, you prefer to attack the facts and seek proof beyond reasonable doubt in a subject matter that you should know is in its essence qualitative. It has been an interesting discussion though, as it certainly helps outline the parameters of the pro-statist / non-hard intervention camp. So thank you.

          • Fitzpatrick

            @Alex, please also note a very insightful comment by Kelum on “measuring brutality” below. Very very pertinent for the likes of David Blacker.

          • David Blacker

            you wouldn’t think it pertinent if you had actually understood what i was saying.

          • David Blacker

            the only point Inoka and Fitz seem to be making is that because Marga is Sri Lankan and therefore perhaps staffed in the majority by Sinhalse, it cannot be trusted, and that ethnicity is important to credibility. i’m surprised you agree with that. isn’t that similar to saying all Tamils are terrorists because the Tigers were Tamils and terrorists?

            it’s also odd that you used a quantitative measurement to measure a qualitative subject; ie whether the Tamils committed atrocities equal to the Sinhalese, but then balk at providing proof for something that is certainly not qualitative. if you accuse someone of murder or rape, you need to have supporting evidence. there’s nothing qualitative about that allegation.

          • David Blacker

            personally, in my experience with the Marga Institute, i have seen no such influence. to the contrary, the GoSL actually refused to allow some of their own officials to participate in the project; officials who might have contributed to the critique of the Darusman Report. the GoSL also made no use of the Marga report at the subsequent UNHRC in 2012 and decided against attaching any of the Marga panelists to the GoSL team that went to Geneva, in spite of strong recommendations from experienced diplomats. does that sound like the GoSl has influence over, or in fact has any interest in, anything Marga is doing?

            i am curious as to why both you and Fitz seem so antagonistic towards any group that might have Sinhalese in it. are you suggesting that all Sinhalse are pro-GoSL and anti-Tamil? aren’t the people who run this blog and Colombo Telegraph also “dominated by people from the majority community”? or is it the fact that you’re simply looking for ad hominem ethnic/racist reasons to attack the institution since you don’t have the ability to counter what they are saying (if you even know what they are saying)?

            i cannot speak for the GoSL or explain why they said what they did in regard to Navi Pillay, but what has that to do with Marga? is your contention that because the GoSL has been irrational you must also display a similar irrationality? if so, congratulations; you’ve made a resounding success of it. i myself have never suggested that Pillay’s credibility was influenced by her ethnicity.

          • Dev

            “i am curious as to why both you and Fitz seem so antagonistic towards any group that might have Sinhalese in it”

            If you read comments by this “Inoka”, “Fitzpatrick”, and the latest traveller “H. Gunawardena” without paying attention to their handles you might think they were written by the same person.
            Interesting isn’t it ;)

          • Inoka Karu

            It is not that I am antagonistic towards the Singhalese as I am one myself, but I am also well aware that the regime has eaten into every institution including the police, the judiciary and media. I criticize that, a you yourself have done in this page in case you have forgotten Dev !

          • David Blacker

            for sure the regime has great influence, but one musn’t give in to paranoia and attempt to tarnish everyone and everything one disagrees with using the same brush.

          • alex f

            Hahaha this is hilarious … so this is Godfrey Gunatilleke’s (chairman of Marga) on the UN panel report

            http://thelionandsword.wordpress.com/tag/godfrey-gunatilleke/

            And the only thing the UN panel report really did was recommend an independent investigation. Something Sri Lanka could have easily done on its own, without the current UNHCR intervention.

            Of course, I recall David too was against an investigation (as is clear from his blogs on this site history), despite the mounting evidence that one was in fact necessary.

            Yes, the Marga institute is truly impartial (irony – for David’s benefit). Given Marga’s esteemed (irony) views on something as uncontroversial as the need for an investigation, i have low expectations about their views on Genocide.

          • David Blacker

            once again, Alex, i urge you to actually read the Marga Report instead of two short paragraphs taken from it. to base a conclusion on what you have linked to is indeed hilarious.

            firstly, the LLRC Report had also recommended an independent investigation, just as the Darusman Report did. if you believe that that was all the report really did, i suggest you actually read that document and educate yourself on it before trying to tell us what it says. the Darusman Report concludes that genocide was committed in the NE by the GoSL and that therefore an external investigation is required. the Marga Report questions the analysis that led to a conclusion of genocide prior to an actual investigation.

            once more, i reiterate, READ the two documents and stop making up stuff.

            as i have repeatedly told you, i am against an external investigation aimed at punitive action, but for a independent and thorough domestic investigation aimed at restorative justice. that is the Marga’s standpoint too. i have urged you to present any evidence that indicates the need for an investigation of genocide, but you are unable to, predictably.

            if your view is that Marga is against an investigation, i can only conclude that you haven’t read the report and are therefore simply ignorant.

          • alex f

            Restorative justice is something that needs to be promoted by the victims – not the aggressor. Hitler too would have been in favour of ‘restorative justice’. The present external investigation isn’t about punitive action? So are you therefore in favour of the UN investigation?
            As for the two reports. I have read the UN report, and it simply concludes that there is evidence of war crimes and possibly of genocide and that they need to be investigated – i will take a look again later just to remind myself.
            The trouble with the LLRC, as one would expect, is the limitations in its mandate to explore issues of accountability, but that apart yes it too had some good recommendations, which predictably were never followed.
            As for the Marga institute – I suppose I should . I may be surprised. I will revert on both in due course. So are you saying that Marga Institute is pro intervention?
            I am ignoring the tone of your notes, as I think it really belittles you more than me, so keep going with that .. and good luck.

          • David Blacker

            restorative justice has to first figure out whether there is a crime and if there are victims. there was no doubt that Hitler had committed crimes; the evidence was there as soon as you walked into Auschwitz.

            i’m not sure if you are asking me whether the UN investigation is punitive in nature or not, or whether you are maintaining it isn’t. i believe it is punitive, based on the allegations made rather than any evidence. i am not in favour of it.

            i’m glad to see that you’ve changed your mind about what the UN report says. earlier you said it simply recommended an independent investigation, now you claim it only says that there is evidence of war crimes and genocide. yes, do read it again. there might be a few more things it says.

            Marga isn’t pro-intervention. is that your standard for credibility? Marga recommends a domestic independent investigation for a start and a credible narrative of the chain of events. Marga doesn’t believe that the facts as we know it show any signs of genocide or large scale crimes against humanity. i have no doubt however that if any evidence comes to light proving otherwise that Marga would recommend justice take its course.

            the tone of my notes are in response to your ad hominem and personal attacks, as well as your intellectual deceit. that can change anytime you like.

          • alex f

            I don’t think my two points on the UN report are contradictory. You spent a lot of time on blogs last year (including many on Groundviews) arguing that a UN investigation wasn’t necessary. Now you admit to being part of the failed Marga project to whitewash the regime too – there is little difference between what Marga says and what GL Pieris said on his travels. I am not surprised that Marga doesn’t believe there was genocide – I wouldn’t expect it to – it has no credibility to anyone outside Sri Lanka, as is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that everyone outside Sri Lanka has a different opinion – i.e. that a UN investigation is warranted and very necessary – that is the global consensus.
            The less said about your tone the better – and now I understand your broader role in Marga et al perhaps it is unsurprising. Skulking about this things and attacking others online may be somewhat comforting I suppose.

          • David Blacker

            really, you think that first saying the report “simply” (implying “only”) recommends an investigation and then saying that it also claims to have evidence of genocide ISN’T contradictory? ok, Alex, you seem to have a rather unique grasp of English, i must say. also, given you say the Darusman Report makes allegations of genocide, why are you asking me elsewhere to prove the report says this? YOU YOURSELF have said it says this! :D

            there’s nothing to “admit” about contributing to Marga; if you hadn’t been born yesterday, you would know i was. as i said, the articles i wrote based on my contribution to the report was published here, on CT, and in the Sunday Leader. i’m sorry if you had your head up your posterior for the last few years, but why don’t you catch up on your reading.

            i have already told you that Marga wasn’t trying to whitewash anyone, and if you had read the report (looks like you haven’t in spite of your claims) you’d know that it criticized the GoSL on several matters of reconciliation. and as i also told you, the GoSL refused to cooperate with Marga, ignored the report’s recommendations. hardly sounds like a whitewash, eh? but don’t let that stop you tarring everyone you lose an argument to as GoSL stooges :D much easier than coming up with an argument.

            thanks for confirming that your criteria for credibility is the belief in genocide. no wonder you’re suspicious of all Sinhalese. bigotry much? you also say that Marga has no credibility with “anyone” outside SL; assuming you’ve spoken to everyone outside SL. the fact is the Marga Report hasn’t got much publicity — as you yourself concede — because the GoSL is uninterested in engaging with the allegations and using the available research. this too has been explained to you weeks ago. is your strategy to ignore the inconvenient, repeat stuff you have made up, and all the while accuse everyone you disagree with of being racist Sinhalese stooges of the GoSL?

          • alex f

            http://www.un.org/News/dh/infocus/Sri_Lanka/POE_Report_Full.pdf

            http://www.margasrilanka.org/app/webroot/download/files/Truth-Accountability.pdf

            Right so there are the two reports.

            As I suspected the UN Panel’s report in itself is quite harmless in that it has carried out a preliminary investigation and concluded that the allegations of crimes against humanity and war crimes are credible and need investigation. It has also noted that the LLRC’s mandate is too narrow to do so and that the GoSL seems incapable of carrying out an independent investigation. Nothing controversial so far.

            Marga, spends time simply attacking the facts in the UN report that can’t be proven prior to such investigation. It attacks the ‘approach’. Frankly its much like the line David has taken – ‘you can only do an investigation once you have proof there was a crime’. As I suspected deeply flawed, partisan and it is ridiculous. That David chooses to rely upon it so heavily is a testament of David.

            Anyway the links are there .. so readers conclude what you will. I suspect Marga’s site will get more hits in one afternoon that it has all year.

          • David Blacker

            of course it is harmless because it wasn’t created as documentary evidence of a crime. if you had indeed read the Marga Report as you claim, you would have seen the bit where Marga actually points this out. lol. the Darusman Report was an advisory report to the UNSG and not for public consumption. the problem was that the report was leaked to the public and then used by various parties as evidence of crimes when there was no such evidence. Marga then critiqued the report because it was being used as evidence, and examined the approach to point out that it was not an investigative approach. all of this has been discussed to death on Groundviews, Colombo Telegraph, my own blog and elsewhere years ago. it was also published by Frederica Jansz in the Sunday Leader. i guess you were having a nap at the back of the class. i linked you to it because you were so obviously ignorant of what was going on and wanted a counter to that ridiculous People’s Tribunal joke.

            i’m glad you think the Marga Report is a testament to me since i contributed to it. thanks.

          • alex f

            I see. So your primary source to refute the Peoples Tribunal is a document to which you contributed? Good one.
            During the period of the UN report and the Marga critique, I was watching with amusement as the non-interventionists scrambled around Colombo to try and avert an inquiry into war crimes and came up with the sort of nonsense in the Marga institute report.
            Marga, much like your MO, seeks to obfuscate, demand evidence where it is clear an investigation will be the basis of future evidence, suggest that a domestic process is capable of delivering an investigation when recent events amply show they cannot. Your coterie in Colombo (by which I mean contributors to the Marga rebuttal) have been found to be lacking credibility.

          • David Blacker

            yes, what better way to refute something than with a report i have helped research? should i instead link to things i know nothing of and have never read like you do?

            really, you were watching with amusement during the Marga critique? but you had never heard of the Marga Report until i linked to it, you hadn’t (and still haven’t) read the Darusman Report as your query on whether it makes genocide allegations proves, and are just hopping from one foot to another trying to stay afloat in this discussion :D

            the Marga Report doesn’t obfuscate, nor demand evidence. the report points out that the Darusman Report doesn’t contain evidence and cannot be used as evidence of genocide, and explains that the latter is simply a document compiled to show that there is sufficient cause to initiate an investigation. if you had read the Marga and Darusman reports you would know all this. but you haven’t, have you? :D

            and if you had in fact been keeping abreast of things at the time of the Marga Report’s publication (as you claim) you would have been part of the discussion on whether the Darusman Report should be taken as evidence. but again, you weren’t were you? you just stumbled on this subject last week and are trying to pull a fast one. :D

          • alex f

            By the way David, can you point to where in the UN report it concludes there was Genocide? Its conclusions start on page 115. As usual you seem to be conjuring up facts to suit your position,

          • David Blacker

            so you’re saying that the Darusman Report doesn’t claim to have credible allegations of genocide? let’s say for arguments sake that there is no allegation of genocide. do you accept that?

          • alex f

            You said earlier that the UN report mentions Genocide? I am asking you where it does that? Is the answer that it doesn’t and so you simply made up facts on the fly?

          • David Blacker

            if you’re suggesting that the Darusman Report makes no allegation of genocide against the GoSL, i’m happy to accept that and state that i, along with the UN, Amnesty International, all the Tamil Nationalist lobby groups, all the Tamil Nationalists in the diaspora, the TNA, and everyone else was COMPLETELY WRONG in thinking that the report was making allegations of genocide :D

            rofl bravo, Alex

            just to be clear, is that what you are saying?

          • Kelum

            I was just skimming through and the line “as i have repeatedly told you, i am against an external investigation aimed at punitive action” caught my eye. Can you explain why David? What is wrong with an external investigation?

          • David Blacker

            primarily, i believe that a sovereign nation should manage itself and there should be external interventions only when that nation is a danger to the world or to its own helpless people. if that is indeed the situation, there would be evidence that such a situation is in existence or has occurred. for examples of the need for an intervention look at the former Yugoslavia, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the Rwandan genocide; for an example of a wrongful intervention, look at the Coalition invasion of Iraq. in the SL case, there is no evidence of the need for an investigation, never mind intervention.

            however, i believe that the GoSL should have engaged with the allegations (in spite of the lack of evidence), conducted its own reasonably transparent investigation, and played the game that the UN requires it to. the fact that there was no genocide would have been plain and the allegations weak. because the GoSL has instead behaved like a stubborn child (or like Saddam Hussein, who also could have avoided intervention), the UN has been forced to act, and countries like the US and India are finding it hard to argue against such action.

            now that the GoSL has lost the battle at the UNHRC, it should at least at this late stage cooperate with the investigation so that its findings will be credible and possibly acceptable. but i am still against the external investigation for the same reason i always was; that it is unnecessary.

    • alex f

      David, sorry but there is another point here. In 1983, despite the lack of social media there was worldwide outrage. Unfortunately, it wasn’t an interventionist era (although India did intervene a few years later when JRJ failed to listen to the IC). However, on the island, as Kalana is saying, there is broad support in the Sinhala south for the BBS. Whilst some may deplore their violence, many agree with their objectives. So there is little difference with ’83 – the IC and world opinion is shocked, the local Sinhalese seem to be tacitly approving (although some may approve with certain reservations against violence). There is certainly no, anti-BBS, ‘not in my name’ style protests across Colombo.

      • David Blacker

        exactly my point which i made in the other thread. acts of racism come out of racist feelings. there was no “not in my name” protests in ’83, and there were none when the Muslims were kicked out of Jaffna, not even by your supposedly liberal diaspora. there have been occasional anti-war protests in SL — the Sudhu Nelum movement for one. there were also protests last year against anti-Muslim violence by the BBS — i myself was at two — one outside the Buddhist HQ on Havelock Road which the police broke up, and one on Green Path.

        • alexf

          David, I am glad to hear you are trying to be part of the change and supporting these protest. Regrettable the movement Buddhist against racism is far too small in Sri Lanka. The question is why the majority accept the institutional racism that exists in Sri Lanka and do not vote it out. Why are these protests so small? Is it because the police break it up? So once again a liberal space needs to be created, which presently can only be done from without.

          • David Blacker

            i think the clear conclusion is that the majority in SL tacitly support these racist actions by the BBS, the Tigers, etc. these organizations exist through this support.

          • Alex f

            There is another point here. Sinhala majority support for the bbs and at other times racist majoritarian parties has existed in peace time. By contrast Tamil support for the ltte is more likely to be a function of the protection the ltte offered from the racist and violent state than necessarily racism in its own right. So for example today the Muslims have solidarity from Tamil politicians and diaspora that none of the Sinhala parties are willing to extend.
            For Tamils the post ltte era is one of violence and land grabs. And the Muslims are suffering Sinhala majoritarian violence too. This all Sri Lankans are racist analysis is a cynical effort to tarnish the victims. Very poor.

          • David Blacker

            the circumstances within which Sinhalese extend support to extremist groups seem different to you from when Tamils extended support to their own extremists (ie peacetime vs wartime, as you suggest) only because you fail to understand that fear is at the core of racism rather than hate. it is why it is called xenophobia. Mahatma Gandhi once said that people think hatred is the enemy, but that in reality it is fear. he was right. fear of the other ethnicities is the reason the Sinhalese support the BBS, not hatred of Muslims or Tamils, just as you say the Tamil support for the Tigers came from fear of the Sinhalese. yes, the Sinhalese don’t fear Tamil or Muslim violence, but they fear other things: a loss of culture, a loss of land, a loss of nationhood. now, before you start tilting at another windmill let me say clearly that i believe these fears are unjustified. but these fears exist, however silly they are, and they are the same fears that the Tamils have historically had. it was this Tamil fear that made them protest and resist what they saw as colonisation of the NE, an attempt to take away their majority in what they saw as their historical homeland. this fear led the Tamils to resist politically, and that resistance was met by physical violence from the Sinhalese. but fear is at the core of racism, and racism is at the core of both communities support of extremists. the Sinhalese see themselves as a minority on the world stage in spite of being a majority in SL (the BBS CEO Dilantha Vithanage clearly said it in his recent Al Jazeera interview) and that is the problem; they are scared, just as everyone else is.

            your attempt to attribute my argument to an effort to tarnish the victims is because you don’t understand what is being explained to you. most people would be angered by your unfair personal attack on me; but i know you don’t understand and you just feel compelled to strike out at what you don’t understand. that’s exactly what is happening all over SL and has happened for decades. inspite of all your claimed liberalism, you are so very Sri Lankan, Alex.

          • alex f

            Thanks for this David – its all getting a little ‘star wars’ now – ‘fear leads to anger .., anger leads to … the dark side’. The trouble I have is this broad brush philosophical approach is wonderfully new age, but at some point we need to address accountability and culpability. Is what you are saying the Sinhalese are responding to fear that they can’t compete economically – i.e. the neo-liberal world is frightening to them and they don’t want Tamils or Muslims or others ‘owning’ lots of Sri Lanka and threatening their culture? I understand. You do not justify it because I suppose you accept it is unacceptable to unleash pogroms due to such fears. Good.
            But by extension it can’t be equated to support for the LTTE when such physical attacks actually take place … that is a different very immediate physical threat vs an ‘economic’ fear.
            More importantly, if Sinhala Buddhism continues to have these inert fears, what is its place in the liberal world? Is it isolationism? What happens to those in Sri Lanka do not want to be in this isolated, racist state? So if Sinhala Buddhists can’t overcome their fears is partition the best path?
            As for me being Sri Lankan – thanks – coming from you thats probably a complement.

          • David Blacker

            yes, it is quite complex and i’m not at all surprised that it’s all a bit above you. broad brush philosophical approaches tend to overlook inconvenient details which probably make them attractive to the intellectually lazy.

            yes, i believe the Sinhalese fear is unjustified, and even if it were justified — as the Tamil fears were justified — it is still wrong to unleash pogroms.

            i didn’t say support for the Tigers was unjustified. i was talking about support for the Tiger ethnic cleansing of the Muslims, which was unjustified.

            in answer to your query about Sinhalese fears, like all xenophobia, the solution is education. again, you have taken for granted that things will not and cannot change. i find that view childish and disagree with it. for those of us who don’t want to live in an isolated racist state, we must transform it into the state we desire it to be. the state will be what the majority of its people want it to be. until they want it, it will not change. so can you change what people want through external pressure? no, because that external pressure is part of the very thing they are being told to fear.

            as for partition, you keep asking me if it is the best path, and i keep telling you it isn’t, and asking you how it can be, given that there is no Muslim territory to be partitioned and that the Muslims have fared worse in Tamil-majority areas than in Sinhalese ones? i have awaited your answer for over a week, and waited in vain.

            you can take my comment on your Sri Lankanness anyway you like; but it wasn’t an insult; just a pitying observation of someone who is the very thing he dislikes.

          • Fitzpatrick

            @Alex F-your comment to David Blacker on 30th June below is very appropriate but you must remember that David was part of the military. The very institution that today is causing so many problems. So I doubt that you will convince him of anything.
            I am reminded of a saying “frogs in the well” the well in this case is the military !

          • David Blacker

            ah yes, more ad hominem personal attacks from anonymous cowards :D when you can’t find the ball, play the man, eh, Fitz? bravo.

          • alex f

            Well David, if Fitz is in fact anonymous, it can well be forgiven in the context of Sri Lanka. Not all of us on this blog are regime apologists, and thus in these circumstances anonymity may well be sensible. Interesting to note that your tone and language is getting worse though … perhaps you need to revisit your position rather than lash out.

          • David Blacker

            my position remains the same, and my tone changes when i am insulted and attacked by people who can’t conceive of an argument themselves. many people prefer to pretend their anonymity is for safety when in reality it is simply to protect their reputations. either way, it doesn’t bother me if you don’t have the courage to put your name where your mouth is, but i find it cowardly to use that anonymity to then attack someone who isn’t hiding on a personal level. sort of like hiding behind a wall and throwing stones at people on the street.

          • alex f

            Was he now .. hmm I should go and do more reading and revert.

        • alexf

          On the protests by Tamils when the Muslims were kick out of Jaffna – isn’t that because we agree that the LTTE were illiberal and there was no liberal space? The world had expected the GoSL to be better than a ‘terrorist’ group. If you are saying, there is no liberal space in Sri Lanka (i.e the police broke up your liberal protest), then we agree. Where we disagree is the amount of support for genuine liberalism in the international sense should a liberal space be created. I agree with Kalana’s analysis that there is surprisingly broad support for Sinhala Chauvinist policies amongst the Sinhala electorate. By contrast at the NPC the Tamils voted in the liberal Wigneswaran. If the Sinhalese majority could do the same we would be on our way to a solution.

          • David Blacker

            sure, let’s say that all the Jaffna Tamils were too terrified to say a word; not too terrified that they moved in and looted and occupied the homes of the evacuated Muslims, but terrified. so where was the vociferous Tamil diaspora that comes rushing on to the streets with Tiger flags and Prabha posters at the drop of a cyanide capsule? where were they? were they also terrified in Toronto and London and Melbourne? was there no liberal space in Canada and the UK and Australia?

            yes, i agree that there is less liberal space in SL today than there once was, but i don’t think there isn’t enough space to protest racism and chauvinism. the breakup of the protest outside the BBS HQ was mostly on the grounds of retaliation by the BBS thugs rather than squashing of protest. but there just aren’t the numbers. liberalism is largely a traditional middle class trait, and SL’s traditional middle class has been in drastic decline in the last two decades, surrounded by large rural working and upper classes and gradually overwhelmed by a growing urban working class that has transformed out of the rural working classes. these two large working classes do not have the liberal values that would oppose ethnic conflict on moral grounds.

            at both those protests it was mostly urban middle and upper class Barefoot and Colpetty People of all ethnicities. these people have more in common with each other, regardless of ethnicity, than they do with the working classes of their own ethnicity. until the mass classes transform and gain some of these cosmopolitan values (what you call liberal), things won’t change much.

          • Fitzpatrick

            sure, let’s say that all the Jaffna Tamils were too terrified to say a word; not too terrified that they moved in and looted and occupied the homes of the evacuated Muslims

            Could you show proof Blacker [edited out]?

  • alex f

    Yes, this is a timely, relevant and pointed response to DJ’s waffle on the subject. DJ always seems to start with his objective (protecting Sri Lankan sovereignty from soft or hard intervention) and work backwards to make his analysis fit his objective.

    Kalana, by contrast has retained his intellectual integrity, by analysing and exposing the problem. He sensibly concludes that the BBS can be controlled by the regime, but the refuse to do so. He acknowledged the surprisingly widespread support for its racist ideology, which of course further influences Southern polity to be more hardline as the vie for power.

    Finally, he concludes that Sri Lanka needs a “radical restructuring of the State, by questioning the role and prominence afforded to the majority religion (and of course, the broader issue of ‘religion’ itself), about the unitary character of the state and its many serious limitations, about the role and place of different ethnic and religious communities within the country, about the space that exists for the development and realization of their political, economic and cultural freedoms and autonomy.”

    Totally agreed – the question is how to effect this restructuring and how far should it go. Some of the issues re: Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism here need to be met head on and engage. However, let us commend Kalana for the intellectual honesty, which frankly has been sadly lacking in the writings of many on Sri Lanka (most notably DJ).

  • Jayalath

    We must condemn Aluthgama Mayhem with contempt .which is disgusting and outrageous and it may not be argued by any person . However I believe the outbreak isn’t a product of ” Exceptional or external which was a result of perpetuated religious and ethnic crisis in Sri Lanka for decades . which has been moulding by various political aspirations of all kind time to time . This is how I see it .
    Although we all condemn it ,what we have done to prevent it happening again and what is the assurance ? I must remind to some so called Sri Lankan without any hesitation , . That We have seen the size of Sri Lankan when Sri Lanka play cricket with India or Pakistan some time in the past , this is well known to us .i have experienced of some VILLAINS even dared to put fire crackers , does it sound like Sri Lankan or HYPOCRISY ?
    And astonishingly , they claimed to be called Sri Lankan every angle, Haven’t they ????? I also remember that some Muslims in Sri Lanka had a mindset like LTTE in the past and praised their atrocities secretly of thinking that they might be able to claim a piece of the country one day , if the things go well for LTTE . This is the truth and reality of some Sri Lankan , but many of them do not admit in the open air .
    Nevertheless , I would mind to ask these two minorities , “what degree have you made an effort to integrate with majoritarian in this small country and how ?
    As far as consider to the many Muslims and Tamils in Sri Lanka who barely can speak singhala which is a significant sign of failure within the integration., however there is a common perception of every body today about the harmony and unity , how come the harmony and dignity can be strengthened between them if the minority does not speak enough language of majority . The language and the history of a country is indispensable to its coexistence and advancement , unfortunately that is not usefully utilised among our minorities . I know this very well that many Muslim from well known AKURANA in kandy district not know to speak single word of singhala , it is only 6 miles away from kandy city , so this is only one example to realise that how the tribalism structure works in Sri Lanka .

    UNITED Kingdom is 4 times the length of Sri Lanka and combination of FOUR great nations in the planet ,although individual country had own languages which inherited due to trade and immigration from the Low Countries .the Irish people spoke Goidelic language and Celtic language predominantly spoke in Wales , Scottish spoke Gaelic , ( they used to speak many other languages as well descend from own tribe ) all those languages influenced from Scandinavians , Romans , Norman , Dutch and French . After Scott joint with Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707 they were widely held to be an independent sister language to forming “pluricentric diasystem “with English .
    However, United Kingdom government now accept Scott as a regional language and has recognised it as the European charter for regional or minority language .
    Likewise Sri Lanka is a tiny island with believing 3 major religions and speaking two languages where I cannot imagine why the segregation is so high . In fact , I see the immediate essence of sort the quarrel out and sharing the blame with every body without giving priority for personal and political benefits rather working together as one country men in the future . This is only way to reiterate the mechanism of integration and confidence between the communities . Unless it may not help to stop worst woeful effects to our society such as riots that we experienced last week in ALUTHGAMA .

    By the way ,that was one side of the narrative that needs to be contemplated .AND Coming back to the main notion of this article which tries to raise the strong linkage of BBS and state which seems to be quite likely when consider to the dimension of provocative activities unleashed by BBS recently in a lawless situation .and the failure to take any action by the state to stop atrocities of BBS that grew the suspicion of state link with BBS for sky high which I think is reasonable . But what is the benefit expect to gain by the state out of this mess ? There are numerous rumours spreading around however the truth out there is unknown to any one .
    However I have a different notion of regarding having the Muslims and Tamils in our country apart from what they expect .
    Gnanarasa Thero has missed the real fact as well , if we accept or not that Muslims and many Tamils of our country are business people ,very much the Muslims , because they have particular talent in the architecture of business and trade which is well known . so , as we all know that business can play a decisive part of Economy of a country in the world. It cannot separate from each other ,therefore I recommend that having Muslims in our country meant that good for our economy which is one point that I like to raise and therefore we must support them in their business affairs rather than pulling their legs and envious toward them which only could pin them down . And also being rioting and intimidating them would not do any goods to us and the economy . This is the bitter truth and I believe that we must learn how the nature works , AS Buddhists monk that BBS should have known it better than me . Because We cannot stop how the river flows ,but we can do certain things like building dams to collect water and use it for better purposes , so we must be determined and turn out the situation to some thing really as worth as that . In fact , I would mind to point out few relevant incident from the UK and I hope we have plenty to learn from there . Do you know the real stance of United Kingdom today .who unilaterally ruled 70 countries around the world , but today they are struggling to fix own economy .they do not worry who come to london as long as they bring money to the country . That’s why whole Russians , Chinese , Arabs and every one else is allowed to come and live in london , if you aware that many of them are not contextually friends or colleagues of UK but regime knows how to handle the situation . Some time the things seems to be down to the knife edge but the authorities wisely handle them . I hope You may aware with latest out come that more than 15 hundred Britons are directly fighting in Syria and Iraq along with terrorists which has been identified by the authorities . So ,now they assess to what dimension them can be a threat to the national security and what measures should have taken . This is how that wise people handle a situation and assess what promptly need to be done . therefore I suggest that BBS must think more wisely than they do things today to restore the unity and peace in the country toward its prosperity . I also see that BBS can play a major role of the country , perhaps to fellow Buddhists if they believe that is the only way to address their problems . Unless ,,Without rightly understanding and focusing the right thing might take the whole nation on the brink of ANARCHY

    • alex f

      This is a good note in that it really encapsulates the divide between the Sinhala and Tamil views. The Tamils would say they should not need to assimilate, and that expectation from a seemingly moderate individual is deeply problematic. Most of the people you refer to have been on the island for a thousand years or more. They shouldn’t have to learn Sinhala any more than A French Swiss in Switzerland doesn’t have to learn German (the majority in Switzerland). The bigger problem is that the country refuses to implement legislature meant to accommodate Tamil speakers – so rather than worry about Muslims who don’t speak Sinhala, you should ask why a Tamil in Jaffna still can’t file a police report in Tamil? That is the country again not fulfilling its basic legal obligations to Tamils.

      • Jayalath

        I do agree that every language must recognise and respect in a country , it was technically wrong to enforce singhala only in a country when there are two Main languages are speaking by people of that country which is necessary to be correct politically , but what I focus is why some people ignore to speak or learn singhala living within singhalese which is some thing to concern . We have old fashion view about innocent until guilty ,but the body language can proves he is guilty .

        • ALex f

          I would say it is preferable but not a concern. It is their right not to have to speak an alien language in their own land. but it is more of concern that the state with its legal obligations to provide services in Tamil consistently fails to do so. That is a concern and the core of the problem – well apart from the massive state sponsored violence too.

      • Jayalath

        Last sentence has to be correct as . We have old fashion view about innocent until proven guilty , but the body language can proves he is guilty .

  • David Blacker

    don’t be silly, Alex, there is no “all powerful Tamil diaspora” today either. what there is today are well-organized lobby groups, which in fact lay a question of credibility on the current diaspora opinions as articulated. i’m not sure how old you are so perhaps you’re too young to remember that there were in fact protests by the Tamil diaspora in western capitals even in the ’80s and ’90s. and believe me, none of them got to Toronto or London by boat. rofl.

    i never suggested that the GoSL must be given time and space. please don’t put the words you find the easiest to refute in my mouth. it’s deceitful. if it wasn’t intended, then you seem to be once again confusing what DJ said (if he indeed said such a thing) with what i said.

    i suggest you drop the “system vs factory” theory, Alex. you clearly don’t understand it in spite of my explaining it several times over to you. genocide isn’t the system. sigh.

    • Alex f

      I disagree on diaspora size and participation. By physical presence alone I do not see any of the scale in 2009 in the early 90s. Further those lobbies failed to have sanctions placed on GoSL – so something is different now especially as you seem to think that us policy is being influenced by it.
      As for your position to be honest you are a little ‘Teflon’ – you keep reiterating it is for Sri Lankans to fix their problems ignoring the point about a lack of liberal space to do so. DJ and GoSL too want Sri Lankans to fix their problems and for the international community to go away.
      I think the system analogy is good and whilst I do not understand your interpretation of it it’s application to Sri Lanka is apt – the system in Sri Lanka is by definition genocidal in its nature which is why the unp sounds as extreme and racist as the slfp – not just today but throughput Sri Lanka history. The system of power in Sri Lanka only rewards racist parties.

      • David Blacker

        again, i am appalled by your ignorance of our recent history, Alex. i do hope that this is simply a result of you being too young or perhaps not as yet born at the time of the events. however, i think you should read up on the subject before you deny historic fact. i told you before that your lack of knowledge is making you look a bit silly. the protests in the ’80s sparked by the writings of journalists such as DBS Jeyaraj and Dharmeratnam Sivaram brought many sanctions on SL; the most significant of which were arms embargoes by the UK and the USA which in fact created SL’s first foreign policy pivot towards the communist bloc nations and away from the west. it was the public outrage by the Tamil diaspora (which contrary to your claim didn’t take a boat to Canada last year) and Tamil populations in places like Tamil Nadu that led to the first and only real external military intervention in SL post-independence; that of India in 1987. so to claim that the diaspora had no ability to bring external intervention on SL in the ’80s and ’90s is absurdly uninformed. and yet, there was no protest of the ethnic cleansing of the NE Muslims by the Tigers. the only voice raised against it was very small and limited, mostly by some local leaders in Mannar, which is comparable to some of the limited voices raised by Sinhalese in the south in ’83. even today there is no outcry by the Tamils for reparations to be made to those affected Muslims. it is only after VP realized that this crime against humanity was being used for propaganda value that he made a grudging apology to the Muslims, but made no attempt to make amends.

        yes, the prime responsibility to change the system in SL lies with Sri Lankans. the lack of a liberal space cannot be used as an excuse to shirk one’s responsibilities. of course, there is an argument to be made (as you are unsuccessfully attempting) for an external intervention that would create a liberal space which right-thinking Sri Lankans could then exploit. but in spite of external interventions ranging from direct military force to economic sanctions the liberal space in SL hasn’t grown, but instead shrunk, throwing out the question of how intervention will create the space you claim it will. the problem is that intervention of the scale that you and DJ envision cannot change the system of thought in SL. that can only change from within.

        as an example (and i introduce this with reluctance since i fear you will rush off on another tangent and forget the original point) take the destruction of fascism in Germany. even with massive external military force, total occupation for decades, it took two generations to erase that system of racism and anti-semitism that the Nazis had piggybacked on (some might argue that in eastern Germany it is still thriving). is that the sort of external intervention you envision? how likely is such an event? if i said that the limited military intervention warned of by DJ is unlikely, how likely is an intervention on the scale of the Allied invasion of Germany going to be?

        i haven’t said that the international community should go away. quite the contrary. i am however questioning the type of intervention. in the age of the internet and social media, the international community is in our laps, and it should engage with SL and woo it back from the arms of China and Burma. you can’t do that by being antagonistic.

        please, Alex, i beg you to drop the system analogy. the more you explain your understanding of it, the funnier you sound. genocide isn’t a system (an event or act or series of events or acts can’t be a system); it is a result of a system.

        however, it is interesting that you concede the UNP to be as racist as the SLFP as evidence of the systematic racism in SL, but refuse to concede that the system runs through the other ethnic communities as well, leading me to suspect that your view has nothing to do with systems, but more to do with your own bigotry which led you to condemn the Marga Institute on the grounds of its ethnic makeup.

        • alex f

          Sorry David, but your entire first para has the causality completely wrong. For e.g. DBS didn’t spark protests that led to sanctions – I will let readers judge who is looking silly.
          Re Para 2: glad we agree on the need to create a liberal space in Sri Lanka. As Modi told Sri Lanka ‘its been 5 years since the end of the war’ – there was plenty of time in the first few years to start moving in the right direction. Again you cynically or otherwise confuse causality. There was space post 2009 and in that space the GoSL got more racist, grabbed more land, supported the BBS. It is only now that the really intense intervention is beginning, and it is going to get worse (and the cause of that action is the shrinking liberal space).
          Re Para 3 – we have discussed this else where. There have been plenty of limited politico-military interventions against much more formidable fascist formations – Serbia is the best example. So if the Regime / BBS contemplate a step up to the next level of violence (ala 1983 again), a Serbia scenario could well follow. Of course, if that happens, then partition is also likely to be the best solution for a permanent peace.
          Re Para 4 you haven’t said the IC should go away, but you have said a solution should be internal (like GoSL). What you haven’t said is how IC should respond when internal solution is failing – i.e.liberal space is being crushed? The reason Sri Lanka can’t be wooed is because it is the very antitheses of the international liberal order … i.e. no one will let Sri Lanka say, we want to have a racist state, but please be nice to us or we will go to China. The world order is instead saying, you are too small to dictate terms, so (i) you will be liberal and (ii) if you have committed war crimes you will face justice.
          Re Para 5 See my note below – agree genocide is not a system, Sri Lankan system is genocidal – see no need to beg :-)
          Re Para 6 I concede that all peoples have the propensity to be racist. I also concede that peoples of Sri Lanka by virtue of conflict may have internal tensions. However, only Sri Lankans (and with the exceptions of the Kadirgamars and the Muralitharans), mostly Sinhalese, believe that the State should be Buddhist Sinhalese and everyone else has to assimilate (to a greater or lesser degree). Would you remove the ‘Buddhism from its position as having a foremost place in Sri Lanka” David? You should to create a liberal unified Sri Lanka – but would you? There are Sinhalese who are liberal in the global sense – Jude Lal Fernando for example, but they are almost entirely outside Sri Lanka. Its not the Sinhalese that are all Chauvinists, but any patriotic Sri Lankan by definition is.

          • David Blacker

            i’m glad you finally accept that there were indeed protests that led to sanctions, even if we disagree on the cause. so we can then conclude that there was certainly opportunity for protest in the diaspora — and that they used that space — but that they used it only to protest on behalf of themselves and their cause and not on behalf of the minority within the Tamil-dominated NE. therefore we can further conclude that Tamils gave tacit support for the genocidal acts of the separatists just as the majority of Sinhalese have done with regard to anti-Tamil and anti-Muslim crimes. therefore i think we can agree that the system of racism runs through both communities, and most probably through the other SL communities as well.

            in your response to para 2 you claim to disagree with my stated cause for the shrinking of liberal space, despite the fact that i haven’t stated a cause! i merely pointed out that intervention hadn’t prevented that shrinking nor in fact expanded the space. you have assumed (as you are wont to do, i note) that i am suggesting that external intervention in fact is the reason for the liberal space shrinking. but that’s not exactly what i am saying. the lack of liberal space in SL is simply another manifestation of the underlying paranoia and fear that is at the core of the racist SL system, a system that isn’t imposed by the GoSL, but which the latter is exploiting to gain and retain power — as the Nazis did in Germany. the SL population itself isn’t open to an expansion of liberal space and in fact looks at liberal forces as being treasonous — a good example is the general view of Ranil W and the UNP, NGOs, journalists, and reformers in general. external intervention certainly fuels the fears and paranoias and makes it easier for those who mean to exploit said fears to do so. which is why it is important to make sure that the intervention has the correct effect, and isn’t simply for the sake of exerting pressure. the exertion of pressure alone hasn’t created space and is unlikely to do so in the future.

            Intervention in Serbia was based on a specific goal; ie initially the halting of Serbian military action against the breakaway states and later, the handing over of war criminals. so intervention was in order to prevent war crimes and to apprehend criminals. there are no such goals worthy of that sort of military intervention; currently the UN goal is to push SL into investigating itself, and that is hardly worthy of invasion, i’m sure you’ll agree. even a Black July-like event will be insufficient. it will have to be a protracted conflict — and you will recall that there was no intervention even at the height of the war. what is being done to the Muslims right now is still not as bad (i use that phrase since you seem to like that sort of comparison) as is claimed to be happening in the NE. as i told you over a week ago, if there was no military intervention on behalf of the Tamils. it is unlikely to happen on behalf of the Muslims.

            as for your hobby horse of Balkanization/partition, i already asked you last week how partition will benefit the Muslims when they have no territorial homeland in SL. you faded away with no reply, yet pull it out again today. so again, please tell me how partition will help the Muslims when in fact they have been treated far worse by the Tamils than by the Sinhalese.

            an internal solution to the lack of liberal values isn’t apparent right now, that is true, but that doesn’t mean that it will not eventually appear. that eventuality is unacceptable to you (and many others) because you want the solution to be immediate. i have already told you to consider that the change in SL might take generations, as it has everywhere else in the world. and you’re wrong that nations haven’t got away with being illiberal — Israel and Singapore are good examples of it. the world, contrary to what you opine, isn’t interested in imposing liberal values on small nations unless those nations actually start committing criminal acts on a scale that cannot be ignored. as long as nations are willing to tow an accepted line, they will be allowed to carry on.

            let me put a hypothetical scenario forward (since you like that sort of thing); let’s say MR and the SLFP lose the next elections and by some miracle a UNP-led alliance comes into Parliament. now, let’s say they create a more liberal space, conduct economic and educational reforms, conduct a fairly independent investigation into the war, prosecute a few soldiers for war crimes, allow UN investigators in, but find no evidence of genocide or other crimes against humanity in 2008-9. but on the other hand, the constitution remains unchanged, the 13th Amendment remains in place but only partly implemented. there are still occasional outbreaks of anti-minority violence. do you think the US and the UN would intervene or continue to apply pressure?

            yes, i have always felt that the “Buddhism being given the foremost place” bit shouldn’t be in the constitution and must be removed if possible, or totally ignored if not possible, the way “defender of the faith” is being ignored by the British royal family. i believe in a secular state where all people have both the freedom of religion and the freedom from religion, and that religion must be removed as far as is possible from government. but i know that will not happen for several generations at best, and that no external intervention will change that, primarily because Sri Lankans of all religions place a high importance on religion. Sri Lankans of all ethnicities are deeply suspicious of secularism. the concept of no religion is something most Sri Lankans cannot conceive of. i don’t disagree with you that Sri Lankans are very illiberal in the global sense, and that is the very reason why i believe that we will not be transformed by external pressure. Sri Lankans need to see the advantages of secularism and liberalism for themselves and decide that that is what we want.

            by “patriotic”, i think you actually mean “nationalistic”. there’s nothing wrong in loving and supporting your country, which is the actual definition of patriotism; whereas nationalism, the politicization of nationhood is simply another manifestation of racist intent.

          • alex f

            Btw re the Royal family as ‘defender of the faith’, the Queen of England couldn’t defend her back garden if she wanted to .. she hasn’t got the constitutional power to do so.

          • David Blacker

            it was an example, not a windmill. take a break, Don.

  • David Blacker

    where have i insulted you? i am merely pointing out how dumb your questions are, which is pretty obvious to everyone. if you had read the reports, why did you ask about forensic experts when the Darusman Report doesn’t quote any such experts nor rely on forensic evidence in its analysis? are you saying that you read but didn’t understand what was written?

    • H. Gunawardena

      @Blacker Could you stop writing unrelated comments and reply to the comments and not the writer?
      The silent majority are sick and tired of your non-stop unrelated personal attacks and disparaging comments calling people “silly” “grow up” !
      You are no different from the government that engages with the UN and other prominent personalities by behaving like a churlish brute !

      • David Blacker

        i have indeed replied to the comments and in turn have been attacked and insulted myself to the point where the moderator has edited out epithets. your comment to me is also unrelated to the topic and includes insults and name calling. why don’t you practice what you preach?

  • David Blacker

    Inoka, may i suggest that you grow up if you want to have a public discussion.

    as i said before, your opinion on the UN and/or Marga is of no real interest to me. Alex asked me for a counter to a verdict and i provided the Marga Report to him. i have made no comment about the Darusman Panel or its members, nor about the UN. nor have i compared the UN to Marga. my comments were about the Peoples Tribunal verdict.

    it might be useful if you actually read what is being said before responding.

    as for the Darusman Report’s credibility, perhaps you might have noted that none of the subsequent UN resolutions referred to it, some in fact opting for the LLRC Report instead.

    • Inoka Karu

      The LLRC was referred to in the resolutions as that was the MINIMUM expected of your government since it promised that as the alternative to the UN panel, the UN gave it a chance and the regime as expected failed !! Now let the investigations begin.
      Are you getting hot under the collar that the military might be proved to have violated human rights? Is that the cause of all this anger and ranting?

      • David Blacker

        lol, what anger? it is your inability to read and understand simple English that is leading to this to-and-fro. i am quite aware of what the UN resolutions say with regard to the LLRC Report and of the GoSL’s failure to follow the recommendations of that report. but what has that got to do with the Darusman Report’s credibility and its dismissal by the UN in its resolutions?

        looks like you’re struggling to stay afloat and are grasping at straws by derailing the discussion onto the subject of whether i am upset. frankly the only emotion towards you that i feel is amusement.

        why should i be concerned about evidence being uncovered on SL military violations of human rights? i believe that the GoSL should have engaged with the allegations years ago, using the ammunition provided by organizations like Marga, and had them easily dismissed. doing nothing has forced the UN to do something instead.

        but as i said to Alex in a previous thread, no evidence of crimes against humanity will be uncovered by the UN investigation, but because of the GoSL’s refusal to cooperate, the investigation will be seen as flawed by the Tamil nationalist lobbies, and the verdict dismissed as unacceptable.

    • Burning_Issue

      If you can scratch the surface, you would know that, the Darusman panel was appointed and mandated by the very UNGR. All subsequent activities including the LLRC and the current push for investigation were stemmed from Darusman findings. If one does not see explicit reference to it does not mean it was not predicated!

      • David Blacker

        i assume you are referring to the UNSG; i’m not sure what the UNGR is. the LLRC was commissioned before the Darusman Report was leaked — i think a year before — and its recommendations were published six months after, so you’re incorrect that theLLRC was a result of the Darusman Report. if there was no explicit reference to ANY report, then one might be forgiven for thinking it was implied, but there was explicit reference to the LLRC Report.

        • Burning_Issue

          “i assume you are referring to the UNSG; i’m not sure what the UNGR is.”

          Yeah sorry for the oversight.

  • alex f

    This discussion is dragging on because you make ridiculous points repeatedly. You haven’t provided a credible counter to the People’s Tribunal. I am not saying Genocide is a system – I am saying the Sri Lankan system is Genocidal. Tamil separatist atrocities were substantially lower than Sinhala state atrocities. And in times of peace there have only been sinhala state atrocities with strong genocidal characteristics. You, DJ, and the Rajapakse’s are all products of the same Sri Lankan (genocidal) system, so unfortunately it is unrealistic to expect you to engage in a genuinely liberal manner. You may be liberal in the world of Sri Lanka, but what you fail to recognise is how extreme the views of Sri Lankans are in the global sense. That is why the international press gives you a hard time – because every time ‘liberal’ Sri Lankans like Rajiva Wijesinha turn up on foreign forums (there is a hilarious episode of the frontline club on you tube), they just sound like chauvinist nutters.

    • David Blacker

      if any of my points are ridiculous, please point them out. i believe the Marga Report is a credible counter, and that the People’s Tribunal is a joke. those are subjective opinions, just like yours. either you engage with the argument or stop arguing. it’s childish to engage, lose the argument, and then claim someone’s points are ridiculous. sour grapes?

      yessss, you’re finally beginning to understand the system theory. the SL system can be genocidal, as was proven in July ’83 (and previously) by the Sinhalese and in the ’90s by the Tamils. so you agree that genocide is one of the traits or symptoms of the system. where we disagree is on whether the system runs across all ethnicities or is simply and miraculously restricted to the Sinhalese. because you conform to the latter opinion (i will not speculate on why you feel you need to target one community, but i think it’s self-explanatory), you need to find a cause for the system that is exclusive to the Sinhalese and — voila! — it must be Buddhism.

      if however you were to actually look for the signs/symptoms of the system in all communities or ethnicities, you would find them, proving that the system runs through all the communities. now, why are you so averse to this theory? simply because you mistakenly believe that if it were to be proven that all ethnicities are racist, all ethnicities would be to blame. this is a fallacy because, as i told you in a previous link, but which you didn’t understand, thinking racist thoughts isn’t criminal or genocidal. it is acting on those thoughts that cause death and destruction.

      so because you are so focused on proving that only the Sinhalese are racist (because you foolishly believe that racism automatically equals genocide), you are obliged to argue that Tamil atrocities were not as bad as Sinhalese ones. but racism is a moral issue, and even a single outbreak from the system of racism (ie a single murder) is just as immoral as a thousand murders. a thousand murders are a worse criminal act than a single one, but not morally worse.

      perhaps now, you might understand that we are discussing two things simultaneously: a system of morality and the manifestations of that system which can often but not necessarily be criminal.

      it has already been explained to you several times that there is no difference between Black July and the expulsion of the Muslims, and that the previous pogroms from the ’50s and ’60s while not sparked by military actions (perceived or real). were sparked by political actions (perceived or real). the reason was fear, pure and simple. whether it was wartime or peacetime is irrelevant.

      again i am amused that as your argument fails your ad hominem attacks increase, trying to undermine my arguments by comparing my upbringing to that of DJ, Rajiva, and MR. we know nothing about each other personally, so leave out personal attacks, Alex. you’re just looking like a bigot.

      i can assure you i’m nothing like Rajiva, and instead of attempting to poke fun at him i suggest you try harder to understand what i am saying, try and engage with it, and counter it, if you can. throwing insults at people who are not engaged in this discussion is a bit childish, no?

  • alex f

    Not sure any one outside of David and perhaps the Marga institute themselves, considers the Marga institute credible. Certainly havent seen them quoted by any panels or journalists or anyone in fact outside of this blog. Had to look them up when David mentioned them … I suppose that their website traffic may have hit double digits since David’s mention of them here.

  • David Blacker

    you’re wrong. i repeat, the LLRC was set up by the GoSL in May 2010 BEFORE the UNSG appointed the Darusman Panel in June 2010, so it can’t be said that the latter created the pressure to set up the LLRC. it was international pressure that caused the GoSL to set up the LLRC, but the Darusman Report was NOT part of that pressure. how could it be? the LLRC was appointed BEFORE the Darusman Panel. i hope you get it now and we can move on.

    • Burning_Issue

      Sorry for the belated response. I concede that on the face of it, LLRC was not mandated as a result of the Darusman Panel. However, MR’s appointment of the LLRC panel was precipitated by the impending action from the UNSG. MR thought that his action would delay/deter the UN action. MR’s intention was not genuine predicated on his subsequent listless attempt of implementing the recommendations of the LLRC. However one looks at it, the Drausman Report plays a crucial role in all UN subsequent actions as far as UN is concerned.

      I refer you to an article published on CT by Prof. Rajiva Wegisigne stating that, ignoring the Drausman report was very costly to Sri Lanka. May I remind you that, you endeavoured to discredit the Drausmen report without comprehending it’s credence and implications.

      • David Blacker

        no, that too is incorrect. the LLRC was appointed by MR on the strength of his joint statement with the UNSG after Ban Ki-moon visited SL in 2009, in which MR agreed to take measures on accountability for any violations. this was in fact during the period when the Tamil diaspora and many NGOs were accusing the GoSL of running concentration camps. this was the reason for Ban’s visit. it was only after the concentration camp nonsense fizzled out that the war crimes issue was raised for want of any other cause. the UNSG almost simultaneously appointed the Darusman Panel in an advisory capacity, and not in an investigative one. MR had no reason to worry about action by the UNSG as the latter can’t take unilateral action of an investigative nature. he must act through one of the UN councils such as the UNSC (pretty much wrapped up by SL diplomats), UNHRC (permanently stalled by Russia and China), etc. there was also no reason to fear the Darusman Report because it was never meant for public consumption, and only became public because of a leak, some say by elements within the GoSL itself.

        certainly, the GoSL seems generally uninterested in conducting an investigation or in accountability as a whole, that’s not a great revelation, but to attribute anything to the Darusman Report beyond its original brief is wishful thinking. the only reason the report even received any of the spotlight is because the Tamil nationalists attempted to use it as evidence of war crimes, when it was never meant to be that. as pointed out many times already to you and others, subsequent UN resolutions made no reference at all to the report.

        i agree that ignoring the Darusman Report was very costly, and that was precisely what Marga said; that the GoSL needs to engage with the allegations and lay them to rest. to the contradiction of what you are saying it is in fact you that has failed to comprehend what the Darusman Report is, as well as what Marga was trying to do. there was no reason to discredit the Darusman Report as an advisory report to the UNSG because the latter was already engaged with the UN’s focus on SL. the Marga Report was to critique the Darusman Report as an investigative report; which it was never meant to be, but which it was being used as by those desperate to show nonexistent evidence of genocide.

        again, i hope you’re clear about this too now and that we can move on.

  • David Blacker

    given your obvious ignorance of large swathes of SL history, i think it’ll be safer to take my word for things rather than rely on your reservations. perhaps you have another theory for how these sanctions miraculously appeared (or perhaps you haven’t even heard of the sanctions) without any public outcry, but given your recent theories let’s leave it for another day.

    my point about racism being prevalent throughout all the communities is not being used by me to justify Sinhalese chauvinism, i have already told you unambiguously that i believe it to be unjustified, wrong, and sometimes criminal. perhaps you dozed off again at that point. the fact of widespread racism is being used by the GoSL and other elements to justify Sinhalese violence, yes, but that isn’t my fault, nor does it change the facts. you can’t simply deny facts just because someone is making use of them to forward unacceptable agendas.

    i didn’t say anyone was implacably racist; please don’t make stuff up. i do believe peoples can be transformed if those who are interested work hard enough.

    Singapore is not a partitioned state. what on earth are you talking about??? Singapore is a dictatorship where the Chinese ethnicity dominates everything and other ethnicities have a second class status.

    you start off the paragraph promising to discuss the Muslims, but then talk about partitioning SL into a Tamil area where liberal Sinhalese can also live, with no mention of the Muslims. isn’t that your real agenda, here, Alex — separatism ;) so what about the Muslims — you propose they be uprooted from all over SL if they wish to get away from Sinhalese racism and go live in a Tamil area where they have been historically massacred and driven out of? that’s your plan? lol.

    again, in reference to your theory on intervention-ala-Serbia, you seem incapable of looking beyond the Tamils. this post and this discussion is primarily about violence against the Muslims, not the Tamils. and yes, the western world had indeed realized it needed to destroy the Tigers, which added to the unlikeliness of intervention, but today the world is decidedly opposed to Islam, and it is unlikely to intervene on behalf of Islam, even if there is violence on the level of 2008/9, which anyway didn’t bring intervention, and which is unlikely to be repeated. which is why i told you weeks ago that the argument must only be a moral one, and not one based on the likelihood of intervention, which is extremely unlikely in the foreseeable future. yes, i know there are many like you who are hoping and praying for large scale violence against the Tamils after which an international Messiah will storm the beaches and save the Tamils, but that’s not likely to happen. so what’s your plan if there is no large scale violence?

    thanks again for also confirming with regard to my hypothetical (not rhetorical) scenario that liberal space has nothing to do with your interventionist agenda, but simply to do with investigation and punishment. i had already pointed this out to you, i just wanted confirmation, and was forced to use a hypothesis since you seem curiously incapable of grasping abstract theory.

    i had already explained to you the part about there being no big western conspiracy, but rather many interest groups. i’m not sure what you hope to accomplish by rewording what i said and retyping it here.

    i’m glad you feel that there is no urgency for intervention, because i can assure you that the current intervention will be mostly the same old same old. hopefully you won’t be too disappointed at its lack of progress then. the path was not inevitable; it just seems inevitable to those like you who have already concluded that there was genocide in spite of the lack of evidence.

    love for a country doesn’t mean one must agree with everything the country does. that would have made the black soldiers in Vietnam unpatriotic. but let’s move on, your latest bit of rhetoric has little to do with the actual discussion.

    i didn’t say anyone must suffer in silence, but yes there will be suffering before things get better. since you are only interested in the Tamils, i think things can only get better. they already have Tamil rule in both the Northern and Eastern provinces, which is a historical first and a good start. there will be incremental gains and slow progress, and if there is no urgency (as you vouch) there shouldn’t be too much to worry about long term.

    But the Muslim issue is a different one and one which you seem neither interested in nor have a solution for, like most Tamil nationalists.

  • Justice & Fairplay

    ” ……. rebuttal of Dayan J’s facile call to rally around the father-president”. Does Dayan J do so consciously, or otherwise?

    Whatever it is, this tack of his appears to be fast losing currency among fair minded readers of reasonable intelligence. This is a pity for DJ’s inherent talents and ability to convince are quite unmistakable. It is however the price one pays when attempting to dress up the truth in another colour.

    Strangely, DJ has been extremely silent in the aftermath of Aluthgama, and that could be not for nothing?