Saturday, August 30, 2008


Do we care for our own people? From all available independent reports, there is a huge humanitarian crisis in the Vanni. Reports speak of tens of thousands of internally displaced civilians undergoing immense hardship without proper shelter, inadequate sanitation and insufficient food, water, health and education facilities. All of them have fled from their homes because they do not want to be caught in the cross fire. They face a threat from all fronts in the ongoing war.

Credible reports have suggested the LTTE, on account of battle losses, is facing a shortage of fighting cadres. They are therefore conscripting young civilians. The older civilians are also being forcibly given military training ostensibly for defensive purposes – how to act in the face of aerial bombings and shelling. But the civilians are in no mood either for conscription or for undergoing any type of military training, defensive or otherwise.

At the same time, the civilians have to face aerial bombardment from the state forces. In the earlier stages, the Air Force was careful to avoid civilian targets, even though misinformation sometimes led to civilian deaths as in the case of the schoolchildren undergoing first aid and reportedly some basic military training as well. In that case, the innocent schoolchildren certainly did not voluntarily seek either first aid training or any form of military training. But on the whole, bombings were directed at selected targets which were mostly accurate, as in the case of the strike on the house where Thamilselvan was having a meeting. But with the intensification of the ground war, and the fighting moving to civilian areas, the aerial bombardment has not been as selective as before.

Faced with these twin dangers, it is not surprising that the civilians have sought to move to safe ground, away from the crossfire. But the movement has been of such proportions that it has caught the civil administration completely off guard. Reports suggest that there is inadequate shelter, food, water and sanitation for the massive movement of displaced refugees. This is a crisis which it is the duty of the Government to deal with in a humanitarian way. It is a pity to hear Government spokespersons denying that a crisis exists. The battle against the LTTE should not in any way mean that the Government abandons its duty by its people. The Government has to make arrangements for a safe corridor for these IDPs to move to more secure areas. If that is not possible in the current scenario, the Government must, if necessary with the assistance of aid agencies, provide adequate shelter, health and sanitation facilities for these IDPs and ensure that there is sufficient food and water for their needs.

Winning the battle, losing the war?

These people may be living in a region politically controlled by the LTTE, but that was not of their choosing. They are simple marginalised civilians who have no where else to move. Showing a lack of concern for their welfare and denying that they are suffering in any way will only drive these people into the arms of anti-democratic forces. With the military making advances on the war front, the Government seems totally unconcerned about winning over the Tamil people. President Rajapaksa has been talking of liberating the people of the North but the way the IDP issue is being handled is certainly not the way to do it. Here was an opportunity to show the Tamil people that they were considered as equal citizens entitled to equal protection. That opportunity is being squandered.

Indian National Security Advisor M K Narayan’s warning that the Government may win the battle and lose the war has provoked the expected response from Sinhala nationalists. But more thoughtful analysts like former diplomat Nanda Godage have urged the Government to re-think what Rajan Hoole has rightly called the failed strategy. Even Gotabaya Rajapakse has reacted on similar lines. The tragedy for both the Sinhala and Tamil people has been their political leadership’s short-sighted vision. They have sought to appease and remain prisoners either to Sinhala supremacism or to Tamil terrorism. They need to break out of this mindset that appeasement is the only way to stay in power. Chandrika Kumaratunge was perhaps the only leader in the recent few decades to have pursued a vision of a united Sri Lanka with justice for all the diverse groups that form our nation. She had the benefit of support of fellow visionaries among the minority politicians like Lakshman Kadirgamar, Neelan Tiruchelvam and Mohamed Ashraff. But sadly we seem to have lost that enlightened leadership. Petty personal agendas by the present parish pump politicians have replaced an enlightened vision for the communities and constituencies that form our nation.

Rizana Nafeeka Case

It was certainly good news from Saudi Arabia that the young girl from Mutur has won the first stage of her appeal against the death sentence imposed on her by the Saudi courts. Apart from the fact that Rizana Nafeek was a minor, many here as well as international human rights agencies that took up her case were convinced that she was innocent of the charges levelled against her. Rizana, then still a minor but sent by an employment agency that falsified her age as being six years older than she was, was sent for domestic employment to Saudi Arabia in 2005. Within two weeks of her employment in a household, she was left alone to bottle-feed a four-month old baby. The baby apparently choked and Rizana had no idea of how to handle this situation and she had called out for help. By the time help arrived, the baby was dead. Her Saudi employers accused her of deliberately strangling the baby to death – an accusation taken up by the Police. She was coerced into making a confession on these lines – she signed the confession prepared for her in Arabic. Later, when speaking to a Tamil speaking official of the Sri Lankan Embassy, she related her story and signed another statement in Tamil retracting her original confession. The local Court went by her first confession and sentenced her to death by beheading. She had thirty days to file an appeal.

Thankfully, at this stage the Asian Human Rights Commission stepped into the picture, took up Rizana’s case and raised the 50,000 Saudi Riyals needed to lodge the appeal. This was done and the Appeal Court has again referred the case back to the original court. Rizana’s lawyers argued that there were flaws in the Arabic translation of Rizana’s statement in Tamil, that she was hired to work only as a housekeeper and not as a nanny, and besides she was a minor at the time of the alleged offence. The case is far from being over as local media reports based on a Foreign Ministry release seem to suggest. This is the fourth or fifth time that the case has moved back and forth between the appeal court (the Supreme Judicial Council) and the local High Court. She has now been in prison now for three years, but the latest move suggests that there is increased hope that justice will be done.

It was amusing to read the Foreign Ministry statement trying to claim credit for the partial success of the appeal. In fact, when Rizana had thirty days to file an appeal, our Foreign Ministry apparently did not respond to the request from our Mission in Riyadh for authority to lodge the appeal. If not for the prompt intervention of the Asian Human Rights Commission, the hapless Rizana would have been a goner. Indeed, a senior official of the Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau had reportedly told the local Lakbima newspaper that there was no point in lodging an appeal as the case against Rizana was strong!

Governments have a duty to assist any of their citizens who fall into trouble, rightly or wrongly, outside their country. This includes providing them with legal representation. In this case, what has succeeded is the humanitarian intervention of the Asian Human Rights Commission and other international NGOs like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Their activists have also bombarded the Saudi authorities with letters and emails from all over the world seeking clemency and justice for Rizana. If she is to receive justice, Rizana needs continuing support from the agencies and individuals that have been supporting her.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Behind the scenes in Denver‏

Fra: Michelle Obama (
Sendt: 26. august 2008 03:30:33
Svar til:

Til: shan Nalliah (


My mom, the girls, and I left home in Chicago and got to Denver yesterday. What a beautiful city!

The convention started this morning, and everyone here is getting ready for the big week.

All the work you've done is at the heart of what's happening here, and our team filmed a short video to give you a look behind the scenes at the convention center.

Take a minute to check out the video and share it with your friends:

This week, folks from across the country will get to know Barack and our family a little better. Tonight I'm giving a speech at the convention, and I'm planning to share a few stories about the Barack I know -- the husband, the father, and the man who shares my dreams for our girls, for this country, and for our future.

Before my speech, we're also going to show a video introducing our family to families across the country. Make sure to turn on your TV at 10:30 p.m. EDT (8:30 p.m. MDT) to see it, or you can watch it at

This is such an important moment, and I hope you'll join me by tuning into the convention tonight and all week long.



Monday, August 25, 2008

Barack Obama's V.P. candidate's Letter!


I'd like to thank you for the warm welcome I've received as the newest member of this campaign.

What you and Barack have accomplished over the past 19 months is incredible, and it's an honor to be part of it. I'm looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and getting involved.

I recorded a short video message about how I hope to help in the weeks ahead.

Please take a minute to watch the video and share it with your friends:

Over the next few weeks, I'll be doing a lot of the things you've done to grow this movement -- reaching out day after day in neighborhoods all across the country, connecting with people who are hungry for the change we need.

This is no ordinary time, and this is no ordinary election. I plan to do everything I can to help Barack take back the White House.

I don't need to tell you that John McCain will just bring us another four years of the same. You can't change America when you supported George Bush's policies 95% of the time.

Barack has the vision and the courage to bring real change to Washington. But even he can't do this alone.

Join me by getting involved in your community -- and reach out to your friends and family to get them involved as well.

Please watch this video and pass it on:

Thank you,


This email was sent to:

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Impending military victory, pending political questions
by Rajan Philips
This is supposed to be the year of victory over the Tigers. Prime Minister Wickramanayake even predicted that the Sri Lankan troops may be in Kilinochchi before Sabragamuwa and North Central Provinces go to polls on Saturday. Regardless of when the troops will reach Kilinochchi, most observers seem to agree that the LTTE is not going to hold out much longer in its Vanni stronghold. The natural question is what is going to happen after that. In fact, there is more than one question and a military victory may not answer any of them.

Will the government troops totally eradicate the LTTE? Can they achieve this goal even if they want to, for as General Sarath Fonseka has publicly stated the LTTE will remain as a guerrilla force even after a military defeat so long as Tamil nationalism is alive and kicking? What will the government do to deal with Tamil nationalism? Will it sincerely, honestly, flexibly and fully implement the Thirteenth Amendment? Anything less will not cut mustard as a political solution worth the name. Anything more will be asking for the moon from the present government.

Or, will the government, given its current war mindset, decide to leave things as they are? That would be fine by those who are seeking only private gain at the expense of public good. The government might avoid doing anything more with the unlucky Thirteenth Amendment, just as it is ignoring what should be a luckier (by Chinese numerals) Seventeenth Amendment? The war mindset, it needs to be said, is only the newest manifestation of the old communalism that used to consume almost all of the non-Left Sinhalese leaders in the past. In that mindset, whatever its manifestation, there is no room for accepting Tamils and Muslims as equal citizens. Thankfully, this view is rejected by many Sinhalese now, both Left and Right, within as well as outside the government. Tragically, however, the apex of power and decision making in this government is labouring under the old communal sway.

What of Tamil nationalism? Will it change course after what has been the LTTE experience, which appears to be turning into a debacle? Or, will it chart a different, unconventional fighting path? Many seem to think that Tamil nationalism cannot be snuffed out by military means alone, and that without a political solution it will re-emerge as a new avatar. The problem with Tamil nationalism is that for all its defensive and justificatory claims, it has not been able to achieve any of its declared goals. A new avatar will not fare any better unless the two so called nationalisms – Sinhalese and Tamil – redefine their relationship based on unifying premises and common objectives.

It will not be too uncharitable to call the two nationalisms as ersatz, or imitation, if not wannabe, nationalisms that have begotten each other and cannot be without each other. TULF leader Amirthalingam used to say that "it is majority communalism that begets minority communalism". It is so with its more sophisticated avatar called nationalism. Insofar as Sinhalese nationalism is sustained to the exclusion of the rights of Tamils, Muslims and Hill Country Tamils, the latter’s resentments will manifest in one form or another and will be a drag on all Sri Lankans. None will gain and everyone will lose.

This has been the story so far - to wit, the disfranchisement of the Hill Country Tamils, state-sponsored colonisation of the East, imposition of one official language, state take-over of denominational schools, standardization of university admissions, the burning of libraries and churches, murder in the Batticoloa Cathedral, kidnapping and killing of people for ransom etc. If the same story continues, nothing will change and the army’s anticipated victory would also be in vain.

The Question

All of this takes me back to my starting question: what will the government do politically after the anticipated military victory? Broad as it may seem, the question is very narrow and limited to our fundamental national problem involving the State and the different peoples of the island – the Sinhalese, the Tamils and the Muslims. The government has a full slate of other questions along with an empty slate of achievements on – the economy, inflation, the precarious situation of the garments industry, law and order taken over by thugs and rascals, corruption at the low, high and highest levels, pre-election violence in the peaceful South, open war on media workers and so on and so on. But on the main national problem, what is the government going to do? That is the question.

It is still not late, nor is too early, for President Mahinda Rajapaksa to come right out and make a statesmanlike statement as to what he plans to do on the National Problem after a military victory. A well placed member of Colombo’s chattering classes once told me that it would be too much to expect a statesmanlike position from this President. I am inclined to be more charitable. He has at least on two occasions in the recent past taken unstatesmanlike positions on the National Problem – first, when he directed the SLFP to agree that the District and not the Province should be the unit of devolution and, second, when he announced that he was constrained to act primarily on behalf of the section of the Sinhalese who voted for him. Just last week, he vowed to continue the military offensive until both Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu are captured, and warned against Sri Lanka becoming the West’s lap dog.

I am not hoping or praying for Rajapaksa to reverse these positions and show magnanimity in the expected victory. All I am saying is that he could reverse himself and, if he wants to leave a positively lasting impact on the country, he should. ‘Transformation’, if not Reformation, was what many of us thought would happen to the LTTE if we had persisted with the ceasefire and restarted the peace process. We should give the same latitude to this President and his government, even though signals emanating from within the government and pro-government circles are far from encouraging.

The reported formation of a Thirteenth Amendment group within the government to canvass for its full implementation only affirms the government’s lack of enthusiasm for the Amendment, or for finding a satisfactory political solution. I am not disparaging the sincerity and honesty of the Sinhalese politicians in this group, who are all good men, although the less said of the Tamil politicians involved in this the better. No group of Sinhalese good men and Tamil political toads will be necessary if the President comes out of his communal shell and declares that he will implement the Thirteenth Amendment in full - to the letter of the law and the spirit of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement.

This will require some transformation on his part for in his nearly three years as President he has done everything to undermine not only the Thirteenth Amendment but also every other initiative that was attempted after 1994, many of them generated by his own Party. He even scuttled his own initiative, the long dead but yet to be cremated All Party Conference. But the clever man he is, President Rajapaksa has let others do the talking to impress everyone, especially New Delhi, that his government is fully committed to implementing the Thirteenth Amendment, albeit separately in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. So along with the question what the government is going to do, we may ask a more direct question: when will the President say what he and his government are going to do?



‘Through the stormy night lead us on to the light’

By Augustin Fernando/

A North-South pilgrimage for peace and unity that started on Friday in Chilaw ends today at the Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka, at Tewatte. The pilgrimage, or march, is headed by six priests, three from the North, three from the South. The pilgrims are appealing to the President, the Leader of the Opposition, the LTTE leader and all political parties, saying that all people – from North to South –be allowed to live in peace and harmony.

A group of Sinhala and Tamil priests seen on their pilgrimage for peace yesterday
The Northern priests taking part in the peace march are Rev. Fr. Alfred Alexander, former superior of the Blessed Sacrament community and president of the Conference of the Major Superiors; Rev. Fr. J. E. Jayaseelan, a lecturer on the faculty of the University of Jaffna, and Rev. Fr. Jude Nixon. They are accompanied by three priests from the South: Rev. Fr. Tissa Balasuriya; founder and chairperson of the Centre for Society and Religion (CSR); Rev. Fr. Rohan Silva. executive director of the CSR, and Rev. Fr. Sarath Iddamalgoda. Several nuns and brothers have joined in the peace march, which started at the cathedral in Chilaw. The participants believe that all aspirations can be achieved by faith, prayer and sacrifice, and express the hope that the war will be ended and that all of Sri Lanka’s people will be united, with mutual respect among all communities in a spirit of amity.

The participants are collecting signatures for a petition that requests the President, Mr. Wickremesinghe of the UNP, the LTTE leader and party leaders to create a climate of peace in which every section of the Sri Lankn community can live in brotherhood. Prayers for this cause are being offered during the peace march, which ends today with a prayer service at the national Basilica of Our Lady of Lanka. The Basilica is dedicated to the cause of peace. The following are excerpts from the text of the petition:

“Ethnic relations since independence in 1948, combined with sporadic violence where the victims were mainly the Tamil speaking population, leading to recourse to armed resistance by the Tamil youth led by the LTTE;

“The continuance of this armed conflict will lead to the death of further thousands of combatants on both sides, and of civilians living in conflict zones and elsewhere;
“Thinking of the thousands of Tamil-speaking families living in the jungles, without proper housing, food, employment, health services and schooling;

“Regretting that thousands of Tamil families are in many other countries as refugees.
“Seeing the participation of Tamil militant leaders and groups in the administration of the Eastern province.

“We earnestly appeal to you

1. To propose a southern consensus, specially by the government and the opposition, for a constitutionally guaranteed sharing of power within a united Sri Lanka;

2 To be accompanied by a ceasefire of the government and the LTTE committed to laying down arms monitored by international observers.

3 That provision be made for the LTTE and the other Tamil and Muslim political parties also to share democratically in the administration of the North and the East.

“We appeal to the religious leaders, the people’s movements of women and men and the mass media to support this appeal by bringing their influence to bear on the political leaders for a negotiated peace with justice to all, safeguarding the human rights and dignity of all.”

Saturday, August 23, 2008

How to make change in SL..... !!!

The New Elite and Democracy by Shanie

Nearly thirty years ago, David Lebedoff, an academic and lawyer, a political activist and a shrewd observer of US politics, wrote a book ‘The New Elite – the death of democracy’. It was a time when the United States was going through a period of soul-searching. Everything seemed to be going wrong and there was a lack of faith in the institutions of the state. In his book, Lebedoff argued that ‘the undermining of our basic institutions, the near-anarchy in our politics, and the sense of alienation among the people were all aspects of the same problem.’ The emergent new class, the New Elite, defining itself by its inherent intelligence, was a threat to American democracy. Because of its composition and narrow misreading of recent history, the New Elite had expended a great deal of effort on denying the democratic process.

Lebedoff was writing about a new class in the US outside the political party system but yet remaining politically powerful. He was arguing for a return to democratic principles, to rule by democratic consensus. Many decent citizens abhor politics because of the perversions that politics has brought about. But the real thing works. Politics is freedom, not repression. Politics is not just a choice to be made every four years but is about making that choice better. It is ongoing, and the more people taking part in it, the better it works. Lebedoff’s New Elite may not yet be a reality in our country but the dangers are there. We need to be vigilant. We must be willing to participate in political debate and ensure that our democratic institutions are strengthened and safeguarded from those who seek to dismantle them.

In Sri Lanka, we have over the years, witnessed a steady erosion of people’s rights and a steady movement away from the institutions that buttressed the rights of the people. It is not a process that began three years ago but a process that has gone on over three decades. The need for action to reverse that process and return to our democratic roots however is never more urgent than now.

Safeguarding People’s Rights

The 17th amendment to our Constitution was enacted by consensus among all major political parties. It’s main aim was to safeguard the democratic rights of the people by ensuring that the institutions set up to ensure that there was good governance were free and independent and comprised people who were competent and unlikely to be influenced by partisan political considerations. It was to safeguard the people from the threat posed by Sri Lanka’s New Elite. In the eighties, our new elite sought the destruction of our democratic institutions, including the fundamental right to elect our representatives to Parliament. In the nineties, we had a partial restoration of those institutions. The ugly phenomenon of the new elite has returned once again. The country needs a popular movement to restore the freedom and independence of the institutions that safeguard our rights. The danger of further assaults on our democratic institutions is ever present.

The need to implement the provisions of the 17th Amendment is never more vital than now. Take the case of free and fair elections. The rot began with the infamous Referendum. It was blatantly fraudulent with gun-toting politicians inside poling booths and intimidation of officials and fraud so open that even the Opposition party’s Presidential candidate had been impersonated and his vote fraudulently cast. We need to ensure that such a situation never arises; indeed, ensure that our right to choose our representatives at an election is never taken away by that abhorrent device of a referendum.

The partisan attitude of the Police that we now witness in political matters is a sad manifestation of the evils that the non-implementation of the 17th Amendment has brought about. From all reports available, there is massive intimidation and violence in the two areas where Provincial Council elections are taking place. Elsewhere, there is the case of a politician who seems to revel in his public image of being a common thug. The conduct of the Police in both instances – elections and the cowboy politico –has been far from professional. The Police service has had a record of professionalism in the past. Their present partisanship is perhaps partly attributable to the absence of an independent National Police Commission appointed in terms of the 17th Amendment.

It is therefore necessary that civil society takes a stand before the situation deteriorates any further. This includes all political parties, religious leaders and professionals who value democracy. They should refuse to be part of any system that provides legitimacy to the continuing dismantlement of the institutions of good governance. To remain silent or find excuses to remain in an unconstitutional or corrupt system, is to be party to the destruction of our democratic institutions.

The Tissainayagam Case

Journalist Tissainayagam was detained without charges for over five months. Obviously because it became an issue inviting the attention of the international media groups, he has now been indicted on charges of bringing the ‘government into disrepute’. Perhaps this charge is more appropriate for some high-profile members of the government itself. But that is another matter. Tissainayagam has been held without charges since early March this year. He has now been indicted on charges that are vague and seemingly untenable. We understand that the Attorney-General has cited nearly forty policemen as witnesses. Presumably each will give evidence on one of the articles that Tissainayagam wrote in his journalistic career. It will however be several months more before the Attorney General finishes leading the evidence of these Policemen and closes the case for the prosecution. Even if the Courts were then to decide that Tissainayagam has no case to answer, he would have been in continued incarceration for year or more. This is the sad reality that not only media persons but all concerned citizens should protest about.

Samuel Johnson is reported to have remarked that patriotism was the last refuge of the scoundrel. That is exactly what is being done today. Not only journalists, but anyone who dares to protest or be critical of any action of the government is deemed to undermine the war being waged by the ‘patriotic’ security forces. But then this is what corrupt administrations the world over have employed to protect themselves. It has always been the last refuge of the scoundrels of rogue governments. People must have the right to protest and the right to critique governments even the conduct of a civil war waged against fellow citizens.

The LTTE got rid of journalists, political opponents and civil society leaders employing this same argument of ‘patriotism’, that all those who opposed them were ‘enemies of the Tamil nation’. It is therefore not surprising to find fascists on the other side of the ethnic divide using the same argument to harass, intimidate and kill the ‘enemies of the Sinhala nation’. Tissainayagam and other journalists, civil society persons and political opponents are being targeted by fascist elements to ensure that their hold on power is not lost. These fascists, whether of the Tamil or Sinhala racist Right, are the real unpatriotic enemies of the people, who if unchecked will destroy our country.

To Edmund Burke is attributed the statement that all what was needed for evil to triumph was for good people to do nothing. That is why our country now needs men and women who will have the courage to stand up for what is right and to actively work for what is right. Appeasement of fascism has led to disastrous consequences the world over. We cannot afford to let that happen here. Tamil liberals like Neelan Tiruchelvam, Lakshman Kadirgamar and Kethesh Loganathan have paid with their lives for standing up to Tamil fascism. We must not allow their soul-brothers the Sinhala fascists to do likewise to the Sinhala polity.

courtesy: www

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Why I swapped partying for meditation

Harriet ADDISON.......................courtesy:

I don’t know what I expected to happen while I was in Thailand on my gap year, apart from some kind of weight loss from dysentery.

The year didn’t start well: I’d suffered from anorexia during sixth form and my recovery had included a humiliating cycle of bingeing and starving.

By the time I arrived in Thailand in February of this year, the bingeing had won out and I was heavier than I had ever been. Aged 18, I covered up in frumpy kaftans, feeling fat and middle-aged. My hope was that I would get a nice tan and return home triumphant, skinny, gorgeous and happy.

In reality, I found myself with no money, no friends and a large dose of homesickness, and ended up staying in a Buddhist monastery in Bangkok for six weeks. I lived with the monks, meditating for eight hours a day. And, to my surprise, this turned out to be the best thing that had ever happened to me.

I had planned to work at a children’s charity in Pattaya, in eastern Thailand, for six weeks. But I hated this notorious sex town, and the balding, fat, sweaty men going with tiny Thai girls (and boys) in hotpants.

The charity didn’t turn out as I expected: I thought there’d be lots for me to do and lots of other young people to make friends with. In fact, I was excruciatingly lonely. Terrified of this vast, noisy country, still hating myself, I just wanted to go home.

Strange turn of events
Less than two weeks into my stay I was robbed of all my money, including 400 pounds cash and almost 1,000 pounds from my bank card, which I had stupidly left in my guesthouse room. Distraught, I used my last bit of cash to buy a bus ticket to Bangkok, and spent the entire journey wailing into the bosom of a wonderful Thai woman.

On arrival in Bangkok, she bought me a McDonald’s and gave me some money.

Then she headed me in the direction of the monastery, where I could stay free, after I had mumbled something about “meditation” and “Buddhism” and “spiritual enlightenment”.

Several hours later, I was speaking to an old, cross-looking monk, asking sheepishly whether I could spend a few nights there, and feeling a fraud as I explained my lifelong fascination with Buddhism and my desire to improve my meditation.

After a long and bemusing conversation about the “Eprisets” (the Eight Precepts of Buddhism, as they turned out to be), he said I could stay, but that I’d have to “work very hard”.

He showed me to my floor space in one of the sleeping rooms, which I shared with up to six Thai women. I spent the night wishing I was home watching Midsummer Murders.

The next few days passed frustratingly slowly. We awoke at 5 am and prepared breakfast - usually a selection of fish, rice porridge, vegetables and fruit - which we presented to the monks before eating ourselves at about 6 am.

At 7 am I went to my meditation room, and there I would sit cross-legged, watching my breath coming in and going out, and concentrating on the present moment.

This is pretty hard, especially when all I wanted to do was think of my sorry situation. Mid-morning lunch was followed by more meditation, and then a two-hour break, during which I either cried or rang my mother, or both, sitting on the front steps with a cup of tamarind-leaf tea and watching the big brown dogs that lazed about in the sun all day.

Living in the monastery meant I had to follow the precepts: no eating after noon; no touching the opposite sex (even talking to boys was tut-tutted by the older nuns); no music, reading or TV. I wasn’t even supposed to write, but needing some form of escape, I kept a diary. Later, I interviewed the “cross” monk in the evenings about his extraordinary life.

He turned out to be the kindest man, and insisted that I called him Luang Pho, or Grandpa. We grew very fond of each other and every day he would give me little presents - ice-cream and soy milk, usually, but also mountains of Buddhist books, which he inscribed to his “Dear Daughter”.

To my surprise, I began to enjoy my meditation. My mother (who is always right) has been meditating every morning for more than ten years and is often telling me and anyone else who will listen about the benefits she has encountered: understanding relationships better; an increased sense of wellbeing; stronger self-esteem. When I would complain about feeling depressed, fat, or confused, she would tell me to spend 20 minutes sitting in the garden, “listening to my body”.

Usually I would forget and continue to feel grumpy for the next few days, or I would reluctantly sit on the lawn and feel self-conscious as I waited for the alarm clock to release me from my ten minutes of navel-gazing. I was sure meditation wasn’t going to help me.

My problems were different; they couldn’t be fixed by simply sitting still every day. I needed intervention! A personal trainer! Oprah Winfrey! A hypnotherapist! But in the monastery, with no other option but to sit and at least try to meditate, I slowly found that I could sit for longer and longer, sometimes more than an hour. And I began to feel clean and refreshed afterwards, as if I had bathed in a cool sea.

Feeling proud
My memory became sharp, and I could remember my chants, which impressed my old monk no end. I gradually stopped being angry with myself and starting feeling proud of myself.

I saw strengths that I had never noticed before, and I stopped punishing myself with food and lost the extra weight naturally. I’ve never really been religious, and I was not attracted to Buddhism as a faith, but I felt that meditation allowed me to understand myself better and to find the right thing to do. Essentially, it taught me to listen to myself.

Since I returned from Thailand I’ve been living and working in London. Life is fun and exciting (mostly) and always busy. But somehow, between the traffic and the parties and running for the bus, I’ve managed to keep meditating. I don’t practise every day, but I try to find time because it boosts my self-esteem and when I have a problem, it helps me to deal with it

What is it? Vipassana (meaning “to see things as they really are”) is a form of meditation that focuses on breathing. Buddhists believe that practising this regularly can lead to greater spiritual insight.

What’s the evidence? A 2006 review examined 67 studies of brain activity during meditation.

The scientists found that the nervous system is affected by meditation, and that it might help people to have more balanced emotional responses to stress. To find out more about ten-day Vipassana retreats of “Noble Silence”, consult


comments - On behalf of President Bush, thank you for your correspondence.
We appreciate hearing your views … 6:45 am
vice_president - Thank you for e-mailing Vice President Cheney. Your comments, suggestions and concerns are recorded … 6:45 am
Please Condemn Srilanka brutal,racist,oppressive Sinhala regime!‎

Dear Sirs,

You gave a tough speech regarding occupation,destruction,brutality of Georgia by Russians!It was really great that there is someone who can strongly tell the perpetrators the truth without fear.We appreciate your courage and braveness!Thanks a lot!!

Same thing is happening to the the Tamil nation in SL now, which was unwillingly connected by European colonialists during their brutal rule(1505-1948).Tamil people tried to live with Sinhalese after that.But refused to accept the 4 pogroms,ca. 100 massacres,1000s of killings,more than 1 millions IDPs/Refugees created by racist,brutal,oppressive Sinhala regimes who never respected Tamil lives, properties,HR,safety,freedom and their political/democratic rights!

Now President/GOSL along with his 2 brothers(GR,BR-both are American citizens) continue their brutal military campaign against their own citizens and serious HR-violations,killings,starving of 500000 Tamil civilians due to continuous/aggressive plane bombings,MBG-artillery shelling to the poor Tamil civilian area.

This is the time you shd help us,give voice to us, give tough warning to racist Sinhala regime which was branded as Nr.1 violator of HR by ACHR as well as failed/most corrupted state by Intl.organisations! GOSL refused food supply,refused INGOs,refused Intl.Press! GOSL have no sympathy towards Tamil civilians whom 97% believe(70%Sinhalese too) in ahimsa,dialogue and political solution. But GOSL with help of China,pakistan and russia is destroying Tamil nation and people everyday!

You are the only hope to save us and begg you to give tough warning to GOSL to stop killing Tamil civilians and starving them. You can bring this case to UN/SC and impose arms embargo/no flyzone like in Kurdistan.Mr.Richard Boucher,Mr.Robert Blake are not talking anything about these brutal oppression of Tamils by GOSL.


Thursday, August 14, 2008


Dear Dr.M.Karunanithy esq, CM/ TN,

please be kind enough towards tamil refugees from SL! Because they lost everything due to Sinhala racism and oppression/brutality! They shd be treated in TN with sympathy and respect like tibet/kashmiri refugees enjoy in N.India!
5000 yrs back tsunami divided TN AND TE! Otherwise we are the same people!!!

Please stop calculating property values and harassing Tamil refugees in TN who bought house or vehicle with a help of relatives in EU;AU;NA who enjoy real equality respect and freedom and doing well in education and economy!This freedom, respect and equality for refugees/minorities are not given in Asia because of narrow mentality and ignorance.Opinion polls show,97% of SL-tamils believe in Mahatma Gandhi's policy of Ahimsa.They are not extremists whatsoever!!!

Many gujarathis,rajstanis,keralites,kannadas,telugus and multinational corporations are buying agricultural lands in large scale in TN, that you shd worry about the future of tamil land as well as tamil language! Everyday coastal land is going under the sea!That is also worrying aspect, you shd think about that!

While many primary/secondary schools in TN are lacking teachers and very basic facilities, you are giving cash prizes to cinema,sports,education field and other luxury advertisements.Political/Social violences,Suicides and Corruptions are increasing in TN.Unwanted luxury expenses are increasing in TN. While more than 75% of India's population(836 million) living under 20,-IRs per day, your govt in TN and Central mostly taking care of elite group(less than 25%)who already have job and income! This is not acceptable!We hope and recommend next govt in TN and centre will take care of this marginalised population by giving them loan for selfhelp projects! Recent salary increase to 1 million TN-servicemen is 2% of the TN-population,but we have to think more about care of rest TN-population 98%.

While,MR/GOSL is pressing towards military solution in SL,they don't care about Tamil civilians lives, properties and livelihood in NESL.Everyday there are 1000s of IDPs and refugees to TN/Other countries! You never press the GOI to stop refugees from SL created by GOSL.But 97% Tamils and 70% Sinhalese said they want a political solution through dialogue and reconciliation.You shd press the GOI to implement INDO-LANKA PACT as well as BANDA-CHELVA PACT after the urgent CF by GOSL very soon!
You shd help SL-Tamils to find a federal solution in NESL.Then all refugees will go back home! Many tibetan refugees have even shops in kunnoor,TN. You never ask any questions from them.Dharmasala in Himalaya was treated with respect, but all Tamil refugees are treated like criminals by some police officers in TN.That is not fair!!

When some of the North Indian tourists were attacked by neo-nazists in Germany, foreign minister of India asked questions to FM/ germany. But when 300 TN-Fishermen were killed during last 20 years you did not take proper action, eventhough you were part of congress led central govt.That shows your inability towards your own people and discriminatory treatment of Tamils by central government.

Even now Indian Embassy in Oslo treating all SL-tamils(most of them Norway citizens) in a very discriminatory manner.They charge 450,-kr from Hindu tamils who go to India on pilgrimage but Norwegian natives(mostly christians) pay 400,-kr for visa.
Indian Embassy also insisting Tamil Hindus to go through Chennai, eventhough they are going only North Indian temples.More than appr.100 Tamil families were sent back from Delhi or Bombay to Norway due to this visa blunder! India is a one country! But pilgrims who paid 450,-kr and got the visa have been cheated by stamping "Chennai Only" and sent back to their resident country.This reflect the narrow mindness of the Indian Embassy/Foreign ministry of India/GOI.Eventhough we reported this to you earlier, you did nothing or Central govt have no respect for you or Tamils or Hindu pilgrims! Sonia Gandhi's secular govt mean discrimination towards Hindus!& Tamils!!

We hope you take some actions to rectify these historical mistakes! Please reply me!We hope in future Central Govt., shall treat every citizens also from SAARC with equality, justice, freedom and respect.That will improve the image of India.
We hope a new govt. with new policies will emerge soon to do justice to all people!
as well as equality,freedom,humanrights to all people including minorities in neighbouring countries!such as Srilanka!


From: Dr.M.Kumaresan Muthaih
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2008 at 7:29 AM
Subject: Dr.M.K
To: shan nalliah gandhiyist norway

Dear Mr.Prabu.

We are so happy to see your BLOG.
I am so happy to receive your comments.

Prof. Dr.M.Kumaresan, ENT Surgeon.
Cellular / Handphone: 9841055774

159(Old No:94), Avvai Shanmugam Salai,
Royapettah, Chennai- 600 014, India.
Phone : 28116807,28110451
Fax : 091-44-28113390

136(Old No:295), Quaid-e-Milleth Nadunsalai,
Triplicane, Chennai- 600 005, India.
Phone : 28546086,28583921

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

SL: 1983 STATE TERRORISM!..................By..... Izeth Hussain

1983 – State Terrorism Izeth Hussain...../courtesy
In 1958, ten years after Independence, Sri Lankans of my generation were shocked by the anti-Tamil riots. We had complacently assumed that that was the sort of thing that was endemic in India but could never take place in Sri Lanka. Thereafter we came to a proper appreciation of what those riots were really about. They were an episode in the inevitable assertion of the dominant position of the island’s Sinhala Buddhist majority. We then assumed, again with complacency, that once that dominant position had been asserted and ethnic imbalances resulting from colonialism had been corrected, we would reach a new equilibrium and the dominant Sinhala Buddhist majority, or the Sinhalese majority, would give fair and equal treatment to the minorities. That kind of equilibrium has been reached in a great many multi-ethnic countries. Why not, after all, in Sri Lanka as well?

It became apparent under the 1970 Government that the ethnic imbalances of the colonial period had been corrected, and that it would be absurd to suppose that any of the minorities were still in a privileged position. Sri Lanka was clearly established – at least in the eyes of the minorities - as the Sihadipa, the land of the Sinhalese, and the Dhammadipa, the land where the Dhamma reigned supreme, with the Sinhalese Buddhists as the chosen people carrying a sacred trust to preserve Theravada Buddhism in all its pristine purity. But the ethnic minorities, as well as the Christian Sinhalese, saw themselves as being reduced to the position of second class citizens. Clearly the paradigm of a new equilibrium, of an ethnic majority asserting its dominant position and thereafter giving fair and equal treatment to the minorities, was not working.

Many of us, certainly including myself, supposed that what had gone wrong was that the drive to assert the legitimate position of the Sinhala Buddhists had acquired a momentum of its own and gone too far, resulting in a new disequilibrium replacing the old colonial one, instead of a new equilibrium. We supposed further that it was only a matter of time before the Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist trend would be reversed. Most Sri Lankans saw that as about to happen when the 1977 UNP Government assumed office. What followed totally contradicted our expectations. Within weeks there were anti-Tamil riots – there had been none since 1958; army operations in Jaffna in the latter half of 1979 seriously alienated the Tamils; in 1981 the DDC elections were rigged and the Jaffna Library was burned, outraging the entire civilized world; and anti-Tamil racism rose to its genocidal apogee in 1983.

25 years after the 1958 riots it came to be broadly accepted that the ethnic problem could not be solved through a Western liberal democratic model, with the dominant ethnic majority giving the minorities reasonably fair and equal treatment. It became part of our conventional wisdom that a solution would be possible only through a broad measure of devolution, perhaps under a system comparable to the one prevailing in India. Now, 25 years after 1983, the consensus about a possible solution through devolution is fast disappearing. It has come to be widely recognized that the LTTE wants nothing less than a de facto Eelam, for instance through a loose confederal arrangement, an expectation on which no sane government in Colombo can be expected to deliver. On the Sinhalese side the prospects for working out an internationally acceptable devolution package seemed very favorable indeed during the 1994 to 2000 period. The CBK Government proposed a devolution package going beyond what was given under the Indian Constitution. That was acceptable to the UNP opposition, and it certainly would have been acceptable to the Sinhalese people. But suddenly, after further developments, the UNP cut and ran. The ugly truth therefore is that the LTTE does not want a solution through devolution, while the Sinhalese side has never ever offered a credible devolution package.

If no solution is possible through the Westminster model, nor through devolution, what options are left? War, protracted war, with guerilla warfare following on the end of the conventional war as suggested by the Army Commander, is the only one available at the moment. The Western powers who have been badgering us about negotiations can now stop doing so, and go away ruefully shaking their heads while recollecting choice bits of wisdom from their chintanaya. For instance they could invoke that great engraving of Goya – who never swallowed the optimism of the Enlightenment ideology – showing two men clubbing each other to death while both were sinking to their deaths in a bog.

Once the relevant segments of the international community recognize that it is futile to expect a negotiated solution in the foreseeable future, several outcomes could become possible. India as the regional great power could come to feel free to impose a solution. Prabhakaran may die, and a political solution could become a realistic prospect. And so on. I will not here engage in a futurological exercise to make guesses about other possible outcomes, except that I must declare that it seems to me certain that the configuration of the final solution that will emerge will be shaped by the gun and nothing else. What seems certain at the present juncture, however, is that a protracted war could spell dangers for Sri Lanka and therefore we should try to work out ways of getting out of this imbroglio, instead of emulating those two men in the Goya engraving. For this purpose we need new approaches to the ethnic problem, new ways of understanding it which could enable us to get a better grip on it, what is called a new paradigm. What can we learn for this purpose from the 1983 riots?

In the recent spate of articles on the subject one leitmotif kept on recurring, one grand narrative was implicit. It was that those so-called riots were in reality a pogrom, a meticulously organized affair behind which were very powerful political personages, a pogrom carried out by chosen thugs with very little popular participation, while in fact the majority of the Sinhalese people refused to participate in the pogrom, and many of them went out of the way to help Tamils sometimes at considerable risk to themselves. It was a perception that prevailed among all our ethnic groups in the immediate aftermath of the 1983 riots, and it has persisted for twenty five years and held sway to this day. It could be a simplification, but there is an essential truth to it.

Abroad too the true nature of what had occurred was quickly recognized. Gnana Moonesinghe in an article in the Island of July 27 quoted the following from Paul Sieghart, Chairman of the British International Commission of Jurists: "Clearly this was not a spontaneous upsurge of hatred among the Sinhalese people. It was a series of deliberate acts, executed in accordance with a concerted plan, conceived and organized well in advance."

The so-called riots of 1983 were clearly a case of State terrorism, but there has been a curious resistance to acknowledging them as such, even though the incriminating facts are hardly ever disputed. As far as I am aware I was the first Sri Lankan to argue the case about the 1983 State terrorism, as a speaker at a meeting of the YMCA Forum sometime around 1993. I followed that up with an article in the Lanka Guardian. I wrote another article on the subject in 1998, which was published in the Daily News together with a commendatory editorial. A surprising development took place some years later. At a meeting held by the Liberal Party, chaired by Rajiva Wijesinha, the question of holding an inquiry on State involvement in the 1983 riots came up. All the minority members present were unanimously in favour of such an inquiry, while all the Sinhalese – with the notable exception of Wijesinha – were adamantly opposed to it. Those Sinhalese included some notable left-wing and Marxist intellectuals.

That adamant opposition was all the more surprising as the case for holding an inquiry into possible state involvement should have been self-evident. The basic case I used to argue was as follows: There were no ethnic riots at all for the nineteen year period between 1958 and 1977, clearly signifying that the Sinhalese people had nothing like an impulse to have a go at the Tamils. The so-called ethnic riots of 1977 were very clearly a pogrom, with no popular participation at all unlike the 1958 riots. That pogrom was really the first salvo in the State terrorism that raged until 1983. There was no popular participation either in the army operations in Jaffna in the latter half of 1979, or in the abortion of the 1981 DDC elections and the burning of the Jaffna Public Library. As for 1983, there was the very widespread perception about the involvement of the State. The refusal to countenance even an inquiry suggests that there is something deeply wrong with at least a segment of our Left movement. I will not here explore the possible reasons, except to say that our Left has also indulged in identity politics just like our two major parties. Suffice it to emphasize here that at the people’s level there has been a widespread perception of State involvement in the 1983 riots, and at elite levels a refusal to face up to that fact.

However quite suddenly, and also quite surprisingly as there had been no clamour for it from the NGOs or any other segment of the public, President Kumaratunga instituted the Presidential Truth Commission on Ethnic Violence (1981 – 1984) in July 2001 under the Chairmanship of former Chief Justice S. Sharvananda. It was something that she should have done in 1994. By 2001 we had got accustomed to the idea that the perpetrators of horrors against the Sri Lankan people from 1977 to 1994 would never be brought to book. Retrospectively it seems that what is now called the culture of impunity had already been instituted under the 1994 Government. So, the institution of the Truth Commission seemed a welcome new departure.

But the indications were clear enough that it was not meant to be taken too seriously, and that it was really meant to serve a cosmetic purpose. The time frame of 1981 to 1984 was absurd as the State terrorism clearly began in 1977. However, the Commissioners ignored that time frame and went into the antecedents leading up to 1981. They were required to submit their Report in January 2002 – that is, in no more than just six months. The Report was in fact submitted in September 2002. It noted that the South African Truth Commission had a staff of 750 to assist it, the media gave it wide coverage, and there was something like national participation in what was seen as a process of reconciliation by establishing the truth. There was hardly any of that here. The Report emphasized the need to set up new Commissions to continue the work of establishing the truth as part of a continuing process of reconciliation and nation-building. There has been none of that, and all that has happened is that President Kumaratunga issued a perfunctory apology over 1983. Clearly at the level of the State also there has been a resistance to establishing the full truth about what happened in 1983.

However, the Commission did bring out details that point directly and unambiguously to State involvement at the highest level in the 1983 pogrom. The Report quoted President Jayawardena as having told the Daily Telegraph of London (12th July, 1983), "But on terrorist issues, these we are going to deal with ourselves without any quarter being given." The Report states that "significantly" that and other statements made to that newspaper were given coverage on SLBC radio. It continues that "another act of significance" took place on July 18 – days before the pogrom began on July 23 – when regulations enabling the police to dispose of dead bodies without judicial inquiry, already applicable in the Northern Province, were extended to the rest of the island even though there were no disturbed conditions outside the North to warrant it. At that point the Report again quotes from the Daily Telegraph interview, "No need for any debate, arguments or counterarguments. Firm action will be taken shortly to uproot terrorism." The Report further states that the killing of the thirteen soldiers on July 23 was followed by the reprisal killings by the armed forces of 51Tamils in the North, on which there was a total media blackout. It was argued before the Commission that had the reprisal killings been publicized the conflagration that followed would very likely have been avoided.

I will not go into further details to show up the State’s culpability over 1983 as it seems so obvious. Instead I will make some necessary clarifications. It might seem that by focusing on terrorism at the level of the State I am loosing sight of the obvious fact that ethnic problems such as the one we have in Sri Lanka have behind them both racism at the level of the State and racism at the level of the people. Certainly the Sinhalese people cannot be devoid of racism, no more than most other ethnic groups which can be expected to produce their quota of racists. That racism can rise to a high level of intensity as I believe it did in 1958, and be at low intensity as I believe it was in 1977. The explanation for the difference is that in 1958 the Tamils were still seen as posing a serious threat to the legitimate dominant position of the Sinhalese majority, whereas there was no such threat perception in 1977. It is significant that apparently there was widespread popular participation in the 1983 riots only on Black Friday, following on President Jayawardena’s criminally incendiary broadcast. The explanation, I believe, was the threat perception set off by the story that the Tigers had come into Colombo.

The important point, however, is that even high intensity racism among the people does not necessarily result in violence against a minority. When rioting goes on unchecked for days, and has an obviously and meticulously organized character, we can be certain that the State allows it or backs it, or as seems practically certain in the case of 1983 the State is at the bottom of it all. Kumari Jayawardena wrote in connection with possible reasons for the 1983 riots, "In this context it is therefore not the urban poor and ‘lumpen’ sections of the city population who cause the riots; they are merely the temporary ‘beneficiaries’ of unrest. They use the rare opportunity to come out on to the streets, to break all the norms of bourgeois society in respect of law and order, to rule the roost for a day or two, vent their anger against the ‘haves’ and help themselves to the property of others. This phenomenon occurs with increasing frequency in South Asia, where there are glaring contrasts between rich and poor. The deprived sections, given a license to plunder by the racist propagandists, make full use of such occasions to attack whichever minority group has been targeted as the enemy – whether it be Muslims or Sikhs, as in India or Tamils or Muslims, as in Sri Lanka." – from Ethnicity and Sinhala Consciousness, included in July ’83 and After (ICES).

I will now conclude with some brief observations on what we might learn from the 1983 riots for the purpose of reaching out to new paradigms that could enable a better grip on our ethnic problem. There was certainly some degree of discontinuity between the State and the power elites backing it which were responsible for what amounted to genocidal State terrorism on the one hand, and on the other the Sinhalese people as a whole who showed no enthusiasm for it, except perhaps for a few brief hours in limited areas on Black Friday. It was the repetition of a pattern established decades ago at the time of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact – showing a degree of discontinuity between the State and power elites on one side and the Sinhalese people on the other.

Both SWRD and Dudley Senanayake were democratic leaders at a time when our political culture was unambiguously and vigorously democratic, and both were leaders of mass-based political parties which had all the means to test the opinion of the Sinhalese masses. It is reasonable to think therefore that both leaders believed that their proposed pacts with Chelvanayagam would have the backing of the mass of the Sinhalese people. The opposition was from segments in the State, and the power elite – members of which backed the SWRD assassination. The nation-wide tsunami of grief that followed showed that the mooted pact with Chelvanayagam had not diminished his mass appeal in any way.

All that happened between 1977 and 1983 to further wreck our ethnic relations also showed a degree of discontinuity between the State/ power elite and the Sinhalese people. Particularly significant is what happened between 1994 and 2000 when President Kumaratunga offered devolution packages, one of which at least went beyond the devolution available under the Indian Constitution and even got the support of the UNP opposition. There were no howls of outrage and mass protests from the Sinhalese people. Her efforts were finally sabotaged at the power elite level by the same UNP opposition. It is worth mentioning also that the two parties known for their extremism on the ethnic problem, the JVP and the JHU, today have negligible support among the Sinhalese people.

The paradigm briefly sketched out above needs to be refined and developed, which cannot be done in this article. In terms of this paradigm the ethnic problem could have been solved decades ago if there had been pressure on successive governments from the people’s level, specifically through a dynamic civil society. Alas, there has been nothing of the sort in Sri Lanka. What of the present situation? There is no alternative to continuing with the war, and the peace that will follow – perhaps with new constitutional arrangements – will depend on the military outcome. We have to bear two propositions in mind. 1) Power flows through the barrel of a gun. 2) So do Constitutions.

Underlying our ethnic problem is a disastrous failure in nation-building. The process of nation-building in multi-ethnic societies requires above all that minorities are made to feel that they are given fair and equal treatment, even though the majority ethnic group may have a dominant position. Alternatively there will be no sense of the unity that makes a nation in a worthwhile sense. We must remember that there is an ongoing process of erosion of state sovereignty on a global scale, and lack of unity in Sri Lanka could make it vulnerable to the outside world, perhaps even to satellisation. To evade that kind of fate what is required in terms of our paradigm is a change in the mind-set of the Sinhalese State/power elite, and that may never come about without adequate pressure from the people.


courtesy www



By Jehan Perera /

The Sri Lankan government’s ultimatum to all deserters from the armed forces to return to duty is one indication of the stresses that exist in society due to the ongoing war which is gaining in intensity in the north of the country. As the army advances deeper into LTTE controlled territory there is a greater need for larger numbers of troops to be deployed to secure the newly captured areas. The government needs to ensure that the LTTE will not infiltrate back into those areas even in small numbers, as these can harass and overrun small detachments of troops. Securing the territory is going to be a bigger problem in the north than it was in the east.

The difficulty that the army will be facing in the north is the mono-ethnic nature of the community located there, which is one hundred percent Tamil, as against the east, which is multi ethnic, and with a majority that is non-Tamil. Some parts of the north that have been recaptured were lost to the government some two decades ago. The problem of communication and getting information regarding LTTE movements from the community will be more difficult in view of the communication barriers between the Sinhala-speaking government forces and the Tamil-speaking population.

Another difficulty that the Sri Lankan army will face as it progresses deeper into LTTE-held territory is that the LTTE’s own resistance is likely to grow stronger. This again will be unlike the situation that existed in the east, where the LTTE cadre did not resist to the last man but withdrew from the battle. When it came to the east, the LTTE leadership appears to have decided that discretion was the better part of valour and their cadre would be better utilized by redeploying them to defend in the north, rather than to fight to keep hold of the east.

On the other hand, when it comes to resisting the incoming Sri Lankan army in the north, the LTTE cadre will have nowhere else to go. This suggests that they will fight very hard to keep the Sri Lankan army from overrunning the entirety of the northern territory they control. As the Sri Lankan army’s lines of communication get stretched with the need to defend more and more territory that is being captured, the LTTE lines of communication will grow tighter and their resistance greater. The reports of high casualties in the recent battles in the north suggest that the LTTE is still not collapsing under pressure.

Humanitarian crisis

There are also stresses in society due to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the northern war zones. Tens of thousands of people living in those areas have been displaced from their villages and homes. As the Sri Lankan army advances more and more areas are coming within range of the army’s long range artillery. The alleged artillery attack on Mullaitivu town, and damage to civilian infrastructure and persons which the military spokesperson has denied, is a sign of things to come. The LTTE’s own strategy of setting up their camps in the vicinity of civilian settlements is likely to have collateral implications on the civilian population.

Reports from humanitarian agencies working in the north indicate that they cannot meet the demand for emergency shelter, water and sanitation to meet the needs of the rapidly growing displaced population. More than 50,000 persons were reported displaced in the month of July alone. They join the ranks of those displaced by earlier phases of war and the tsunami. Unfortunately, it appears that the humanitarian organizations are lacking in capacity to deal with this crisis, in part due to the restrictions that the government has placed upon them.

The government’s legitimate concern would be that the LTTE will take a part or most of the supplies brought in by the humanitarian organizations for its own use, and to further strengthen its war machine. This may explain the restrictions on a host of materials, including cement, water pumps and fuel into the LTTE controlled territories. The government has recently been producing evidence to show that equipment and relief items sent in by humanitarian organizations have ended up in LTTE camps.

However, the welfare of Sri Lankan citizens ought not to be subordinated to military necessities. In an appeal to the government, the Bishop of Mannar, Rayappu Joseph, has given a first hand account of the plight of the people. He has referred to the displaced persons from his diocese of Mannar, whom he reports as mostly staying by the side of roads and in the adjoining jungles without adequate food, shelter, medicine and other basic needs. He has reported that the whole region is on the move, and that the worst affected in this situation are the children, women and elderly.

As a response to this humanitarian crisis, the Bishop has requested the government to spell out its plan for the safety and security of its citizens in the north. In the absence of any governmental initiative he has proposed that urgent action be taken to permit humanitarian organizations with access to these areas. He has also proposed the establishment of No Conflict Zones in each of the three northern districts affected by the present fighting.

Lasting peace

Unfortunately, the pleas of Bishop Joseph and those of a similar persuasion are unlikely to fall on receptive ears at the present time. This is because military imperatives have taken priority and the government is unlikely to do anything that can jeopadize its military effort. The chosen logic of both the government and LTTE, and their respective supporters, is that the war will be the foundation for a future solution. While the government seeks a total military victory, the LTTE resists being defeated. It is aiming for a situation of hurting stalemate as occurred in the period 1999-2001 which paved the way for the ceasefire of 2002. The underlying belief of both sides is that the ground situation, rather than justice and fairness, will determine the political outcome.

The values of democracy necessarily take a back seat in the face of this logic of war. In the LTTE controlled areas there is no democracy at all and in the government controlled areas a National Security State has come to the fore. This accounts for the frequent road closures, restrictions on parking, night time search operations of homes and unknown groups who supposedly operate with impunity in white vans. Accompanying these violations of the rule of law and democracy are regular reports from the government indicating that final victory is imminent. In these circumstances those who publicly challenge or criticize the logic of war and propose an alternative course of action, are castigated as traitors.

One of those who have taken a public stand on the issue of war and human rights violations has been the veteran social activist, Fr Tissa Balasuriya. A statement drafted by him has called for a southern consensus between the government and opposition, specially by the Government and the Opposition for a constitutionally guaranteed sharing of power within a United Sri Lanka, to be accompanied by a ceasefire monitored by international observers, with provision for the LTTE and the other Tamil and Muslim political parties also to share democratically in the administration of the North and East, and for the All Party Representatives Conference to include the TNA and be a body to work out the modalities of the ceasefire, and the constitutional reforms.

An initial draft of this statement met with considerable support from Tamils, including expatriates. At the same time the statement was strongly condemned by many Sinhalese, especially by those living abroad, who saw it as a conspiracy to keep the LTTE from being militarily defeated. When a subsequent draft of the statement included a reference to a commitment to lay down arms by the LTTE, the Tamil support dropped. The response to Fr Balasuriya’s statement shows how on both sides of the ethnic divide the belief in the armed struggle continues to retain its hold. But this is the path to endless war and suffering, which Sri Lanka needs to get off if it is to prosper. A united country, a federal based political solution implemented by the government and the laying down of arms by the LTTE are the three basic parameters for lasting peace.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

GOSL: Displacing own citizens! by continuous war!!

Nearly 200,000 persons displaced during last two years in Sri lanka

Govt has to spend billions of rupees to provide relief

By Kelum Bandara and Yohan Perera

Nearly 200,000 persons have been internally displaced in the country during the last two years requiring the government to spend billions of rupees on providing relief to them, Disaster Relief Services Minister Amir Ali said in Parliament yesterday.The Minister made this revelation while answering an oral question by UNP MP Ravi Karunanayake. He said that the Kilinochchi district accounts for the largest number of 51,742 displaced persons, 41,084 persons had been displaced in Mullaitivu and 28,114 in Jaffna.

Besides, 18,171 persons have been rendered homeless in Batticaloa and another 18,372 in Vavuniya. The number of persons displaced in Mannar is 24,110, Trincomalee 5,254, Ampara 4,431 and 681 in Puttalam.

The Minister said that the government had spent Rs. 159 million in 2007 to provide relief to the displaced in Jaffna, compared to Rs,.15 million spent this year. The amount spent on Kilinochchi is Rs.146 million in 2007 and Rs.123 million in 2008.

On the displaced families in Puttalam, Rs. 206 million had been spent by the government last year.

At this point, Mr. Karunanayake raised a supplementary question whether money is allocated according to a political agenda. He said that the Puttalam district seems to have been favoured in the provision of disaster relief.

While denying this allegation, Mr. Ali replied these people had taken refuge in Puttalam for decades now, and they were the very people forcibly evicted by the LTTE.

In the meantime, the UNP MP also shot back at the Minister saying the number of families displaced due to the tsunami in the southhad not been included in these figuresand asked how it happened.

The Minister said that the tsunami rehabilitation is a subject which does not come under his purview.

“It is an issue falling under another Ministry,” he said. He added that he could not say for certain as to when these people will be resettled in their original places.

The Minister pointed out that resettlement would be done only after the de-mining operations were completed in the respective areas in keeping with the international standards after being liberated from the LTTE.

“We are yet to resettle people in Chenkaladi and Kiran in the Batticaloa district because of the ongoing de-mining work. After the international certificate is issued, we will resettle the persons there,” he said.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Eastern Sri Lanka struggles to recover from tsunami, civil war

By Steve Herman

Trincomalee Voice of America (VOA) : 06 August 2008: Sri Lanka's government and the international community have been pouring tens of millions of dollars into the country's Eastern Province. The area was liberated by the army from rebel Tamil separatists a year ago during the country's on-going civil war. Much of the coast was devastated by the December 2004 tsunami. VOA correspondent Steve Herman traveled to the province to take a look at the reconstruction efforts and gauge the mood of the area with a tense ethnic mix of Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese.

Over the village of Irrakkakandy, in eastern Sri Lanka, the sound of an incoming military helicopter drowns out the call to prayer from the mosque.

The noise interrupts the mid-day nap of 78-year-old Seyed Mohammed, who has been resting in the makeshift thatched-roof structure where he has lived since rioting destroyed his house a decade ago. He says, while the government is doing its best since the area was liberated last year, vital goods, such as medicines, are still not reaching the people.

Mohammed predicts that, as long as there are soldiers in his community, there cannot be peace. Mohammed says that the military's only targets are the Tamil Tiger terrorists and that will cause the terrorists to come around to attack the military. So, he says, the people caught in between will continue to suffer.

The village's fishermen complain that the navy restricts the days and time they can go to sea, severely limiting their catch. But the village shopkeepers say the military presence prevents rebels hiding out in the jungle from extorting food and money.The government regained control of the province one year ago. The fighting between the military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam continues in the north. The Tamil Tigers want to create an independent homeland for the ethnic minority.

Sri Lanka's military took the East in a campaign in which it gave covert backing to thousands of fighters of a breakaway Tamil faction. The Karuna faction has re-branded itself as the TMVP party. It allied with the party of the Sri Lankan president and the national Muslim Congress this year to form a political coalition which won the provincial elections.

One of the TMVP leaders, a former Tamil Tiger, is now the province's chief minister.

Sivanesathurai Chandrakanthan, better known by his fighting name, Pillayan, says taking up arms against the government is no longer viable.

He says his followers now firmly believe nothing can be achieved through armed struggle so that is why they came into the democratic process.

Tamil Tiger commanders disagree. They consider the chief minister a traitor to the liberation struggle and have tried to assassinate him numerous times.

The chief minister's performance will be closely watched to see if he can keep his still-armed followers in check. Chandrakanthan says the former rebels need to protect themselves from the Tamil Tigers, who are bent on revenge and still lurking in the region.

The executive director of the Center for Policy Alternatives in Colombo, Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, foresees a sensitive situation with regard to the province's majority Muslims, who view both the Sinhalese-dominated military and the TMVP with suspicion. "If the government does give police powers to the province and the TMVP dominates the police force you have a knock-on effect on Tamil-Muslim relationships," said Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu. "If the government doesn't, you still have TMVP roaming around carrying arms. Then you have a parallel law and order situation."

United Nations officials have accused the TMVP of aiding the Sri Lankan military in recruiting under-aged combatants.

Chief Minister Chandrakanthan, himself a former child soldier of the Tamil Tigers, vows to end the practice in his province.

The rebel-turned-politician promises to personally take all measures to stop the recruitment of child soldiers for armed struggle. He says his faction has released all of its under-aged fighters.

His fellow Tamils have long complained of being arrested and jailed by Sri Lankan authorities without any evidence for allegedly aiding the rebels.

The U.S. assistant secretary of state for the region, Richard Boucher, says these and other issues need to be addressed.

"We've been concerned about the continuing reports of abductions, disappearances, some of the detentions of individuals, reports of intimidation against the media. All these things need to be stopped," said Boucher.

Analyst Saravanamuttu says how the east fares will not be determined until armed conflict ends in the north and a civil administration is put in place there, as well.

"There is a sense in which their fate is linked. So the long-term prognosis must await developments in the north as well in terms of an overall settlement and solution to the ethnic conflict," said Saravanamuttu.

In the mean time, the director general of the Defence Ministry's Media Centre for National Security, Lakshman Hulugalle, argues that much has already been achieved since the Eastern Province was liberated.

"Today people have water. They have got the civil rights. They have elected their own members. So people are happy now. Electricity is given to more than half of the Eastern Province," said Hulugalle.

There is still much to be done. The war created many refugees. Former child soldiers who did not complete their education and have few skills besides fighting lack employment. Most of the homes destroyed by decades of war and the 2004 tsunami have yet to be rebuilt.

People in the province say what they want most is peace of mind, a guarantee that civil war will not return here.

The Tamil Tigers are fighting a desperate last stand against soldiers in the north. But the remaining rebels continue to demonstrate their capability to carry out bombings and assassinations as far as away as the capital, Colombo.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

SL-BLACK JULY- 1983 ------------- Shenali Waduge

Irrelevance and Relevance of Black July’83

By Shenali Waduge

There have been many articles, lectures and even photo exhibitions to mark 25 years since “Black July” – many of these organizers have laboured to portray the brutality of a month that led to deaths, destruction of property and looting. Overnight Sri Lanka and most importantly the Sinhalese were branded as “racists” . That was the relevance of the taint upon the image of the Sinhalese. This is what will continue to haunt the Sinhalese for ever.

Is it really relevant to continue to remember the Black July as if a repetition of it is just round the corner when despite scores and scores of atrocities carried out by the LTTE since July 83 upon innocent civilians has not resulted in a single attack on the Tamil minorities .It is today common knowledge that while the nation may have been awed by the news of the deaths of these soldiers the incidents that took place therein would not have happened unless it had not been orchestrated by the then Government run by J R Jayewardena who allowed the situation to get out of hand.

It is poignant at this stage to emphasize that “looters” or “mobs” comprised Sinhalese, Muslims and even Tamils who belonged to the poor income groups and they took on the opportunity to “loot” irrespective of the “race” factor. The ordinary people – the Sinhalese will all know their individual roles in assisting their Tamil friends and providing them safety. Be that as it may the “Black July” created the passage for many to seek “refuge” in sympathetic nations resulting in the “Tamil Diaspora”.

The thousands of Tamils that eventually went to “reside” overseas became the perfect tool for the LTTE to ensure a steady flow of funds and to internationalize their cause and provide easy avenues as a channel to legitimize their operations.

The ordinary people of Sri Lanka’s majority the Sinhalese do not require to be repeatedly reminded of the brutality that occurred that dark July in 83…the public are really not to be blamed though they must shoulder the humiliation of the shortsightedness of the decisions of the country’s politicians at the time…similarly these leaders have also to share the blame for making cannon-fodder of the country’s armed forces, belittling them over the years. Yet the country today is at a critical juncture closing in on its enemy giving the opportunity for the Tamil people who cannot deny that they have not suffered by the LTTE – the opportunity will soon be theirs for them to say that they do not want the LTTE but to live in peace amongst all the communities. We are all waiting to see what the Tamils will decide to do.

Those who tirelessly endeavour to bring out the Black July in its blackest of forms are really addressing the English readership that really had no part in the “mob violence” – it then makes us wonder why so much of effort is being taken unless of course it is as a means to fortify their hidden agendas giving stronger articulation that the Sinhalese in general strive to deny the rights of its minority.

It would be good if those who enjoy depicting the July 83 memories so fondly would also organize similar lectures and photo exhibitions to depict the macabre actions of the ruthless LTTE.

Australia apologized to the aborigines recently and the world is well aware through years of examples how the blacks were treated by the Americans and South African whites .

July 1983 was an incident for which the country and its people continue to apologize and for which for no reason the Sinhala populace must bear the guilt.

25 years on despite thousands of provocations the Sinhalese have not allowed any such incident to occur and to be fair by the successive Governments they too have not allowed a repetition of what JR Jayewardena did to occur.

There is only one question to these lobbyists that enjoy dramatizing Black July – do they not want fences to be mended and the past to be healed? If not…we must then wonder why?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Tamil Separatism and Sinhala Nationalism!..........Kusal Perera

Tamil separatism survives on the strength of Sinhala nationalism

By Kusal Perera

Reminiscing “Black July” is almost over. There were plenty of articles in most of our print media and in web portals with differing points of view on “Black July”. Yet what was missing in most of that discussion was a reading about the LTTE psyche, 25 years after the Black July. Does the LTTE work towards achieving any justification or sympathy from the South for their struggle, liberation or separatist war or what ever label one may wish to stick on it in the South? This is the single most important question the South needs to ask itself. The southern political leadership had from the very beginning of the conflict opposed this Tamil homeland complete.

All governments since 1977, except the Ranil Wickremesinghe government (Dec 2001) have fought a war to defeat this separatist movement. Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga who in 1994 braved a racist campaign to win both the Parliamentary and the Presidential elections on a platform of conciliatory politics, also went to war within 06 months of assuming power as President. Under her, the heavily fought and much emphasised “Jaya Sikurui” military campaign that lasted 18 months and drained off billions of rupees to capture some parts of Northern territory, failed to dislodge the LTTE from their Wanni base. Much hyped “Jaya Sikurui” military victory was turned into a national event. The government’s euphoria over that victory couldn’t last long.

The LTTE launched their most vicious onslaught ever called the “Unceasing Waves III” in 1999 November and within a fortnight had even run over the heavily fortified Elephant Pass military base. Ever since then, the LTTE assembled their State structures, in areas under their control. To run them as civil systems, the LTTE needed money from society and they have imposed taxes, the percentages and totals not very important right now, except for the fact that they have an Inland Revenue collecting system of their own. Close upon 10 years for now, all these have evolved into more systematic structures. This is what the LTTE leadership is grappling with, now. Their concern is the ability to guard the area they have now brought under their administration. What they therefore pursue now is recognition as a State and the opening for such legitimacy. Do they need a Southern approval or a Southern justification for that ? They simply don’t and they also know they wouldn’t get such Southern accreditation. It has been moulded to think that the majority Sinhala society has a right to offer and the minority Tamils would have to accept what is offered under a unitary system. Any rejection of what is offered gives way for oppression and that had been our history in settling the issue.

With every attempt at negotiating answers to justifiable Tamil aspirations given a dud coin by the Sinhala leaderships, emergence of a Tamil psyche that opted for a separate Tamil State was unavoidable. The LTTE emerged as the decisive force within Tamil politics from among many others. More ruthless and fanatical the Southern approach is in forcing a Unitary State, the bigger their space would be in arguing that the Sinhala leadership is not prepared to share power.

If the South needs to live in a united country with a single constitution, that is also possible. But for that the South needs to reach a broad consensus to re-structure its old, inefficient and corrupt State that is exclusively a Sinhala State. A State that has for 60 years since independence not given even the Sinhala people a space to better their lives. A State, against which even the Sinhala youth waged war twice within the past 35 years.

The nationalistic desire to establish a nation state based on one (Sinhala) language gives way for political coercion over both societies. The logic behind the “Separate Tamil State” is the failure of the Sinhala society to understand this pluralism in modern day nationalism. Understanding and accommodating that pluralism within a new democratic State provides the only possible answer in defeating separatism, which the South refuses to accept and thus provides for the LTTE to exist and fight for their ideal separate State.