Bad Day For Sri Lanka

Other tracer fire by droity


There were tracer bullets in Colombo. They called the World Cup for Australia early, declared them victors and forgot there were 3 overs left. SL played the rest limping, Colombo was submerged in darkness, gunfire and rumours. Something is wrong with my head. It must be my head. It rained on the pitch in Barbados. It rained in Colombo. Driving back to CH to see the rest of match. See strange flashes. The light disappears. It’s a blackout, but I kinda just roll with that lately. Get in, screens are running on generator. She’s looking over my shoulder, sees tracer bullets. We huddle. Make phone calls.

Here’s the LBO

April 29, 2007 (AFP) – A Shell building in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo caught fire early Sunday following a suspected aeriel attack by Tamil Tigers, an official with the energy group said.

“There has been some explosion and we don’t know the extent of damage,” said Shell Gas’s media manager, Chamani Herath Pathirage.

Fire engines were rushed to the scene after reports that three buildings had been hit, but there were no reports of gas storage tanks being affected.

I didn’t know. Heard explosion and saw bullets. My dad said he could see tracer fire from our window. I saw tracers as we left. Downtown Colombo. This keyboard sucks. I need to get home.


My head hurts. There are a thousand movements colliding in my skull and I’m too dreadfully sober for any of it. I was in the midst of re-fracturing my heart when the power went out. Look over her shoulder and there are bullets going up. My innards lurching, I could only watch as the rest of the world spun and went all wobbly. Someone got a TV working in a corner of the club and we can hear their distant cheers. The phone lines are clogged. Everyone is looking for their friends. A friend tells me that a fight has broken out, six guys are beating the crap out of someone for a girlfriend thing. Something trivial, something like I’m feeling, directed outwards. But at this time. I can hear the scuffle. Some blows. That is the last straw, now just let the chaos tumble.

Get in the car, get everyone in the car. Focus. Refocus. Get to a house. The power is back. The match is on. Sri Lanka is losing badly. We need 12 runs per over. That’s impossible. But possible. Still watching. Come back from a hallucinogenic cake commercial and the match is over. It says Australia ICC World Champions. The Aussies are hugging, celebrating. They’re bringing the podium onto the field. I don’t get it. There are no new outs, Sri Lanka is 200something for 7. But the game is over, or is it, wtf? And again wtf? Are Sri Lankans running the ICC now? Apparently the game isn’t over, the celebrations stop. There are 5 eerie minutes of TV while these professional sportsmen mill about to figure out what’s happening. My God, play goes on. It is impossible for Sri Lanka to win, but plays goes on after Australia has been declared victors. In all honesty, this is the most fucked up sporting event I’ve ever seen. Sports has its oddities, but it is largely isolated from the chaos. There are winners and losers, numbers, it is an oasis of rules in a tumbling world. But tonight, of all nights, even that is crumbling. In a tragic bureaucratic snafu, the ICC has ended a championship game that wasn’t finished. My head is spinning, spinning.

And that is terror. Not the ICC. Not even the LTTE. Just complete, utter mindfuck. All the rules break down. All the order tumbles. Things are unpredictable, dangerous. The effect, however, isn’t abject fear. I just feel numb. We’re all kinda used to it. This is Colombo. I walk down Maitland Crescent and see bullets in the air. Hundreds of people see the bullets. We look for a while and walk on. What to do? What to do?

In the bigger picture, which I got an uncomfortable slice of, the LTTE bombed a Shell gas storage facility in Kerawalapitiya (Map), to the North of Colombo. Apparently the Air Force has binary radar and fired every available gun to target those planes. To quote LBO again:

Colombo city was blacked out shortly after 1.00 am Sunday local time, while most residents were watching the Cricket World Cup final between Sri Lanka and Australia.

Tracer fire was seen in several areas of the city including the Colombo Port, Ratmalana airport and Katunayake airport as troops fired into the air.

So, an isolated attack results in a blackout of Colombo, really fucking scary gunfire everywhere and a panicked populace. I heard that a plane was shot down in Ratamalana, that Galle Face was bombed, everything. The military response to a single plane is to fire guns everywhere. Do we have radar? Wasn’t that around in World War II? This was probably the biggest cultural night of the Sri Lanka year. It unites everyone. CH was packed. All the clubs were packed. Homes, kades, cars, everyone. Even the LTTE spokesguy said the LTTE wouldn’t fight during the World Cup. But they did. They panicked the population during our holiest time, and lit God knows how much oil on fire. We lost the World Cup. We are at war. My life is another story.

I need to sleep. Things are hard to process.

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234 Comments »

urlosers
2007-04-29 04:38:34

I suppose you’re going to write an article about how it’s the terrorists fault you lost that game, cricket? Losers except for one really good player, Murali you got nothing. You can’t carpet bomb the Ozzies can ya mate?

OZZIE OZZIE OZZIE – Oi! Oi! Oi!

 
2007-04-29 05:20:18

Australia is a fantastic team, they earned that win. Murali, Mahela, Sanath, Malinga and all are also incredible and honorable players and a good team. They are still supported in Sri Lanka, no matter what.

It’s a game.

comment
2007-04-29 05:38:23

ditto to that.

Gilchrist is one of my favourite cricketers. Glad he got to score those spectacular runs for Australia.

The Sri Lankan team has made such remarkable gains in such a short space of time. I hope they will continue to go from strength to strength. We really need more good teams in the pool. I need to be entertained!

 
Jey
2007-04-29 19:37:34

Indi: “Even the LTTE spokesguy said the LTTE wouldn’t fight during the World Cup. But they did. ”

Er..they said that they were responding to an attack by the SLAF on Killinochchi. The TAF took off within an hour of the SLAF attack on Killinochchi. Your pilots could have seen them in the rear view LOL.

All in all, the LTTE wanted you guys to enjoy the match but the SLAF provoked them, so blame the SLAF for spoiling your night. I told you they were no good.

Laters man. Hope you head gets better.

 
 
2007-04-29 05:26:48

we don’t want to take any credit away from australia winning the world cup. we don’t want the world’s sympathy either. we’re a nation strengthened by adversity. what happened tonight in the caribbean didn’t matter to us as a people as much as what happened in colombo.
don’t rub it in our faces, especially when we’re mourning. you aussies have a reputation for being heartless. don’t make me, and all other sri lankans, believe the rumours.

Jey
2007-04-29 19:21:14

Mourning? For what?
The loss of oil that fuels the kfirs that bombs the Tamils?

 
 
vaharai
2007-04-29 05:35:06

hahaha
tamils support the aussies…
aussies bombed SL team
TAF bombed dirty colombo…
hahahaha

now you all know what the NorthEast goes through everyday…

don’t worry, more is coming…

hahahaha

 
2007-04-29 05:40:08

it was a good game on the whole as far as cricket is concerned. sri lanka was in the game till the second interruption. gilchrist made the difference. we had no answer to him.

only rain and number of overs spoiled it ( not ruined it ) for everyone unfairly. it should have been shorter from the start( or carried to next day though i don’t like that option ). it is clear 38×2 would have ended in dark even without the second interruption.
-
as for terrorists what can you expect, they are terrorists they will make attacks as long as they exist even when they are reduced to a handful. appeasement will not work. we are after all seeing the results of part appeasement ( cfa) tonight.

Jey
2007-04-29 19:27:45

Bitter?
You still think they are flying scooters? Still think you can use stones to knock them out of the sky? All mouth I say.

There’s more to come if you don’t get out of our homeland.

You can start with accepting that they are a conventional state army and not terrorists. You sound stupid saying things like that nowadays when they (TAF) can fly past your radars and ant-aircraft systems to succesfully attack legitimate targets and fly back to base through the gauntlet.

 
 
aussie
2007-04-29 05:40:17

hahaha,
aussies bombed SL team
and TAF bombed colombo…
now you buggers know how it feels to be bombed like your SLAF are bombing us in the NorthEast…

it’s just gonaa get worst….

you should go back to canada

 
nsharp
2007-04-29 05:47:42

As always there’s bound to be some spoilsports who say “but we didn’t win”. Personally, I just wanted to enjoy the match.. and this was a good one, one of the best in recent times. The first half (what I saw) was awesome, and I’m pretty sure Sri Lanka response was equally impressive, but with the blackout and explosions I didn’t catch much of that.

BTW in the event of tracer fire it’s a good idea to avoid open areas, and stay indoors, away from windows. Falling bullets can kill.

 
2007-04-29 06:35:03

This isn’t really over. Sri lanka are playing a series in Australia next summer in 6 months time. If they can acclimatise and focus enough and have a jayasuriyaesk player to dominate the attack and WIN IN AUSTRALIA the world cup will be a distant memory.

For my 2c worth I think they should focus all their short term focus on beating the aussies at home. Even if SL won this game they wouldn’t have given their dues until they beat OZ at home. The real question is will they be up to it?

comment
2007-04-29 06:48:05

I agree. That is the true test. To beat the Australians on their home ground. It will be a bigger deal than the world cup, which in my opinion had some farcical moments.

Are they going to get a chance to pay a test ?

It is in the interest of cricket not just for all the Sri Lankan supporters that the Sri lankans build themselves up. The game is becoming a sham. Am losing interest.

 
 
2007-04-29 07:11:12

world cup is world cup. nobody will remember much about the farcical aspects 20 year on.

we will play 2 tests in australia.

imo sri lanka should gradually carry out an overhaul of team over the next 2-3 years or so that we have a settled side for next world cup . not bc we lost( our team did very well )but bc it would be four year in the future . that includes retiring sanath . otherwise we will suffer the same fate as our 1999 team or this years indian team ( 2003 finalist).

2007-04-29 07:30:33

They are also playing in the one day tri-series as well. Tests in november and one-dayers in feb-march, ideal time to acclimatise to the pitches

 
 
comment
2007-04-29 07:49:17

Sittingnut…can only see part of your comments. Its not rendering on the page. You are an optimist :-). There is so much corruption in the game. Hope it doesn’t end up like the commonwealth games.

comment
2007-04-29 07:52:21

ie about what it will be like in 20 years time.

Sri Lankans seem to be going from strength to strength.

 
comment
2007-04-29 08:04:54

Oh…and the stronger the Sri Lankans get…the sweeter the victory for the Australians! :-)

 
 
bystander
2007-04-29 07:58:02

I find it astonishing that the majority of posts here respond to indi’s comments about the cricket match and not the emotional tenor of his experience of the night those of us in central Colombo just went through. The difference between an anit-aircraft missile and an exploding bomb is considerable unless you have just gathered frightened children into your bed in a house without power, listening to machine gun fire not in the backyard, but sounding remarkably like it. The comments of Vahari and aussie are tragic on a number of counts, not the least of which is a belief those of us in the south do not empathize with the fact that others have to live, daily, with the kind of fear we experienced last night, and so their wish that we might experience more of the same. I mourn for the loss of humanity and faith–in the precepts of budhism, hinduism, christianity–that the ongoing war has engendered in them, but also in myself and others like me who have been satisfied until now to gripe about the government from the safety of Colombo. ‘What to do’ is a throw-up-your-hands kind of attitude that only those of us privileged by safety can ascribe to. ‘What to do’ when you are cornered becomes prescriptive. My heart goes out to those who are living in fear, and also to those of us who have remained poitically silent on the subject of what is happening to people in the north and east. Two threads of tragedy that will sooner or later find themselves braided together.

comment
2007-04-29 09:36:54

Only, saw the rest of the post just now. Think he has changed it.

Have to admit, after reading the modified post the reponses, including my own look pretty callous and offensive. Apologies.

 
2007-04-29 11:21:34

main post was modified.

 
2007-04-29 14:20:38

The post has been modified since my writing too. Anyway I’ll provide some perspective on the impact that it will directly have on my life though its pales in comparison to what the rest of you have to experience on a day to day basis.

I was intending to bring my daughter to SL at the end of the year to meet her great grandmother until this incident today. As it stands now unless the TAF is destroyed, even then more desparate large scale bombings are distinct likelyhood, but I’m not willing to risk exposing her to this. I realize the statistical possibility of exposure are very low and suicide bombings are probably something we can accept, but errant bombs from the air or AAF tracer fire is not something I can convince my partner to risk.

 
David Blacker
2007-05-01 14:33:20

I think everyone’s getting their panties in a knot here. This isn’t something new for Colombo, and in fact is nothing compared to how bad it was in the mid ’90s when we had assaults on Kolonnawa, the destruction of the Central Bank, and random suicide bombings and assassinations all over Colombo. The military found an answer to the suicide bombings and assault teams, and life moved on. It’ll be the same now. Everyone’s in a bit of a panic (especially the SLAF air defences) ‘cos there’s no leadership being shown either by the military brass or the national leaders. Once they get a lid on that, and begin to stop the Tiger aircraft, it’ll be back to the status quo. In other words, the south getting on with life and the NE with suffering.

The LTTE’s playig to the diaspora gallery with the TAF, but it can’t last. The economy will suffer in the short term til the GoSL can stop the attacks and prove that they can continue to stop it. Having said that, the GoSL needs to take the initiative. For the first time in recent years they have a clear target (the TAF), and they need to go after it with special forces and the SLAF, and for the first time the LTTE has something it must absolutely defend. The latter’s a weakness in guerrilla warfare, and the GoSL needs to exploit that.

But having said THAT, the LTTE needs to provide the NE Tamils with real hope, a real plan. The TAF can’t stop the Kfirs, Migs, and special forces from destroying the NE with impunity.

2007-05-01 19:16:39

LTTE needs to provide the NE Tamils with real hope
ltte terrorists to offer hope? how some ppl persist in day dreams against all reality . ltte is a bunch of thugs, they never did and never will offer hope to anybody (except other thugs and lunatics) . suffering of everybody will only end if it is defeated.

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Jey
2007-05-02 04:18:57

David you still don’t get it do you? This is warning mate. A warning. What must I do to get it through the thick skull.
You guys are really asking for it aren’t you?
Hope you like eating your own words ’cause you are goning to have to very soon.

David : “The economy will suffer in the short term til the GoSL can stop the attacks and prove that they can continue to stop it. ”

Yah, like the way they have been doing for the last 25 years. Ha Ha Ha!

You are confused and getting your nappies in a knot.

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David Blacker
2007-05-02 10:37:11

We’ve heard this before, Jey. The LTTE suicide bombers were a great threat until recently. Now they are next to useless, and it’s a rare day when they manage to get their targets. We all know that not all the attacks can be stopped — that’s war, and if you knew anything about war, you wouldn’t be crowing in this childish manner. Why are you so pleased that more people in the NE will die as a result of the airraids?

Your comment about 25 years cuts both ways. For 25 years the GoSL has failed to stop the Tigers, and for 25 years the Tigers have failed to gain the Eelam they promised the Tamils. Neither side can win this militarily, but they will both try, and in that trying it is only the NE Tamils who suffer. People like you, Jey in the diaspora, grow fat in Canada (or wherever you are) while the NE Tamils starve and die.

Meantime the greater SL population goes merrily on. The vast majority live outside Colombo and don’t really give a toss if you bomb the city. And btw, militarily, the raids have done nothing effective (the planes failed to get the bombers at Katu, failed to even reach Palaly, failed to hit Kolonnawa, and maanaged to start a fire in Hendala which was quickly put out).

So the fallout is propoganda and economy. The GoSL just has to convince the IC that it can bring the situ back to normalcy. That has been done before, it’ll be done again.

Snut, my comment about the LTTE is that as the proclaimed reps of the NE Tamils, they need to provide more than a few airraids. The airraids are to boost the diaspora, which is rapidly losing hope with each miltary victory of the GoSL. Check out DBS Jeyaraj’s site for an indication of that. All talk is about the past, and the way each minor Tiger victory is clung on to with such desperate hope (we see it here with Jey too) is indicative that this is all the Tamils see as forthcoming from the LTTE. The Tamils as a whole (NE & diaspora) need to decide what they want for their future and take control of their destinies. If they want to throw in their lot with the LTTE, so be it (though I doubt this), but if not, they need to stand up and fight back. They cannot look just to the GoSL and the TMVP for liberation ‘cos that’ll always look engineered.

I’ve asked the question on DBS’s site (and still haven’t got a real answer): In a time where we know neither side can win militarily, and neither side seems to be able to force the other to the table, and when the status quo means only continued suffering for the NE Tamils, what do the Tamils as a whole plan to do?

 
 
 
 
Jack Point
2007-04-29 09:33:11

The response to the air raids is getting rather fearsome.

Firing artillery in the air at random is pretty dangerous, they are going to hit a commercial airline one of these days. An airforce guy was saying to a friend that after the last “raid” when people said teh tigers were trying to bomb the airport (they did’nt but there were rumours that they were on teh way) they picked up something on radar and blasted away at it. Later they thought what they saw may have been a commercial plane.

 
2007-04-29 11:39:07

this is just shit. af only need some decent air-to-air with night cpability. it’s pathetic af guys’ fault we don’t have it, not tigers capability. they just try to get the most outof it til the af gets up with proper a-to-a and weapons, so their kites are obsolete. while working on it, gosl better think out long what the next option would be before it kicks on it’s butt.

2007-04-29 19:48:39

high frequency of attacks ( almost every other day now) probably indicate that terrorists want to get as much use of their machines as possible before effective counter measures to meet the specifics are developed. so it would be wise to expect several more very soon.

 
Jey
2007-04-29 19:52:00

A bad workman always blames his tools.

Just get out of Tamil Eelam mate.

comment
2007-05-03 04:46:22

Jey, do you have the URL for the official LTTE website?

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2007-04-29 14:18:02

[...] allem Anschein nach zu Panik in der Bevölkerung geführt hat. Ein interessanter Augenzeugenbericht ist hier zu lesen. In diesem schreibt der Autor von einer “der schwärzesten Stunden für Sri Lanka”, [...]

 
comment
2007-04-29 22:03:50

Indi

“Even the LTTE spokesguy said the LTTE wouldn’t fight during the World Cup. But they did”

——————————————
Temporary peace in Sri Lanka
Thu, 26 Apr 2007
http://sport.iafrica.com/news/809232.htm

“A Tiger spokesman declined to say whether the rebels would repeat Tuesday’s unofficial break”

“Police chief Victor Perera warned his men to maintain their guard.

comment
2007-04-30 03:00:29

Though the people of Sri Lanka should demand an honest declaration from both parties as to whether the official CFA holds or not.

 
 
oi
2007-04-30 05:32:30

TAF rules…
aussies rule…

 
comment
2007-04-30 07:14:12

Indi
“They panicked the population during our holiest time”
—————————–
What happened yesterday, was most distressing. I am hoping things are now more settled down because I would like to take this opportunity to bring to your attention a similar statement in your post about Cricket and Amensty regarding the “holiness” or sancitity of cricket.

This kind of language lends itself to all kinds of interpretation. The execessive adulation of Sports stars in India and riots on the streets if their teams don’t succeed, is probably due to this sort of attitude.

Moreover, it can be quite offensive to Sri Lankans from certain religious faiths.

It also comes close to trivialising some of the indicidents that are more directly related to religious sites and rituals such as the bombing of the Dalada Maligawa, the bombing and destruction of hundreds of Kovils and mosques…..and not just destruction of these buildings but the slaughter of the human beings carrying out religious ritualsor seeking refuge in them….would that compare to the “holiest time” of watching the world cup?

I have to admit even from a non-religious point of view I find it a bit distasteful and it makes me wonder have people lost their sense of reality. Just earlier I read a Sri Lankan blogger (TrueSriLankan) aptly state that a world cup comes every 4 years, but a life is lost forever. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

I hope you and others will be able to understand this.

Having said all that, I believe that in no sense does this devalue what you have to say in your post which vividly evokes the scrariness and the craziness of yesterday’s incident.

2007-04-30 09:32:29

I’m not trying to be politically correct here. ‘Holy’ is a word that best describes cricket in Sri Lanka, where something like 14 million people are reported to tune in. It is also just one word, not obviously loaded with so many implications.

comment
2007-04-30 10:58:14

Ok. I guess you are writing a personal account and it is ok to use a particular metaphor that fits your own view and what you perceive to be most people’s view of cricket in Sri Lanka.

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TAF
2007-04-30 18:40:42

reports state kfir shot down over iranamadu tank…
hahahaha…
NICE

anon
2007-04-30 23:52:03

Mig shot down. Not kfir.

oi
2007-05-01 01:56:58

fraking sweet…!!!
the war is turning a corner…

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Proud Sri Lankan.
2007-04-30 19:54:21

Hey dude, i’d like to hear your opnion on Gilchrist using a squash ball.
I know for a fact that bowlers cant even have tape on their fingers or have any type of powder that would provide a better grip. I’m not an ardent cricket fan, but i am patriotic. I saw the match as an unfair trial. We were beaten by Gilchrist and not anyone else. So if this squash ball helped Gilchrist score those runs. The winner is questionable. Looking at how Australia made such a fuss about Murali, i mean what the hell ? Mahela is too much of a gentlemen, in fact our whole team is. Looking at this use from a physics point of view, it bloody fucking well does help him hit harder. To be specific it hits the bat back at the ball. During the time leading up to the 96′ final or after Australia had the audacity to question Aravinda’s bat, to be honest i’m not entirely sure but i vaguely remember this. However having said all this i think the umpires stole the show but in my books did nothing wrong.

Also the fucking military are stupid fucks. LTTE declared a truce and they go fucking attack. It was retaliation, and that was inevitable.

 
Proud Sri Lankan.
2007-04-30 19:58:45

Also just want to add after reading comments. What the Air Force should really be afraid of is if the LTTE adopts the Japenese tactics used in Pearl Harbour. A cornered dog will always bite. If they have nothing to loose. Thats when it gets really fucking scarry.

 
San
2007-04-30 21:22:13

Assuies are true winners. There is no doubt about that and they deserve the cup. But I would put Sri Lanka has the World best Cricket team right next to the Aussies.

 
HP
2007-05-01 05:46:02

Moody predicts bright future for the team
http://content-aus.cricinfo.com/srilanka/content/current/story/292845.html

Although the Aussies are cock-a-hoop about their win, they are not invincible nor is Sri Lanka that far behind them. A lot of factors went against us during that final. This is not to take away anything from the brilliant innings of Gilchrist.

 
Sham
2007-05-01 19:33:17

“They called the World Cup for Australia early, declared them victors and forgot there were 3 overs left. ”

No, the mistake was that the umpires had thought that another 3 overs should be bowled even though, according to the rules the match should have been over and the aussies had already won at the end of the 33rd over when it was decided that it was too dark to continue playing.

 
comment
2007-05-02 13:27:33

David,

You ask some interesting questions.

I don’t think you can get those sorts of answers from DBS Jeyaraj’s website. He is after all a journalist. Also there appears to be different sets of propositions put forward by different parties representing Sri Lankan Tamils, which is to be expected in any community. Maybe the TULF website, Karuna’s website or the LTTE’s website would be more useful. I have heard the LTTE has an official website…does anyone know what the url is?

I suppose a unifying concept is a Tamil state, called Eelam. Some groups still favour having a Tamil state within a Federation. Others favour a separate nation. Recently I saw a proposition (not sure of source) that the North East and the South, seperate for about 50 years to allow both to develop independently of each other and reform or unite as a Federation later on.

Apart from what the Tamils are asking for, reform of the Sri Lankan constitution itself is something that is required.

David Blacker
2007-05-02 15:03:36

I wasn’t asking the question of DBS. I was asking it of the people who comment regularly on his site. Almost all are Tamils, and most are leaving outside SL. There’s no point asking the questions on the TULF, TMVP or LTTE sites anymore than asking it on the MoD site. We already know the stock answers. I want to know what the regular Tamil sees as a practicable future for the NE Tamils, given the present situ. So far no one really has any ideas.

comment
2007-05-02 17:19:37

I see. Still, I don’t think regular Tamils, especially the ones living outside will be the ones making the key decisions. Also, remember there are hundreds of displaced Tamils living in refugee camps in South India.

I think the key decision makers play a role in communicating their various proposals to the people.

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David Blacker
2007-05-03 11:21:04

I’m not talking about key decisions as such. I would just like to know what the average SL Tamil sees as a practicable future, and what they feel their options are, given the LTTE’s inability to win militarily and its unwillingness to discard the military option. I asked similar questions on this site, but except for Aadhavan, the comments I received were mostly in the vein of “Prabha is god and the LTTE are his angels”. Wasn’t really constructive or enlightening, so I asked on Transcurrents (DBS’ site), and at least the answers (though incomplete) were serious ones.

 
 
 
 
comment
2007-05-03 13:23:13

Ok….I don’t know if this will help you. I know that with respect to the diaspora, the views are quite often dependent on the demographic and this varies widely from country to country and even city to city.

Australian Tamils tend to be more middle class and conservative, and from speaking to people from other countries, it doesn’t seem to have as large an LTTE support base.

Non-English speaking European countries such as France, have Tamils who are mainly refugees who have come directly from the North and East. This may also make them more vulnerable to being co-erced into giving funds to the LTTE (I am basing this opinion after reading a recent Article by Jeyaraj about some arrests in France). I was told by a friend who lived in Paris, many Tamils living there came from disadvantaged non-English speaking backgrounds, and you could only converse with them in Tamil or French. Maybe they would also have a strong LTTE support base?

The largest number of Sri Lankan Tamils living outside Sri Lanka and India would probably be based in T0ronto. There is a mixture of Tamils from disadvantaged backgrounds, from the North/East and also middle class professionals. I gather, from news items that Toronto also has a significant LTTE support base. There are also some social and re-settlement problems due to the large refugee base.

India, has a large number of refugee camps and from what I have read (there are many reports on the internet), and heard these Tamils, apart from those displaced from the north and east are in a desperate situation. They would prefer to go back, if not for the war.

So I don’t know how we can get a single Tamil opinion. I think you could get a cross section of opinions based on the demographic and why and how they left Sri Lanka.

I can give you a similar view of the Sinhalese population in Australia for instance. Here, there are those who came well before the 1990s who carried out propaganda activities for the Sri Lankan government and continue to do so. SPUR is an example of a group of extremists that has formed in Australia. I think those who have had to struggle in Sri Lanka tend to be more realistic. A number of Sri Lankan car mechanics from down south, migrated here due to a skills shortage, as well as some sinhalese refugees from the JVP time, so we also have more sinhalese from disadvantaged backgrounds who have migrated here. I can tell you down my street there is a Sri Lankan family who has emigrated very recently, and they are more preoccupied with settling in and day to day existence rather than politics.

I am basing alot of this from anecdotal evidence and news reports etc. Don’t have any statistical evidence.

comment
2007-05-03 13:27:38

An after thought:

David Blacker
“what the average SL Tamil sees as a practicable future, and what they feel their options are”
————————–
Maybe they don’t see any options? At least thats the impression I get.

David Blacker
2007-05-03 15:05:44

Thanks, Comment.

I have met both Engish-speaking and non-English speaking Tamils in Germany, and in the latter instance it was obvious where there allegiance lay — it was in a Tamil restaraunt in Dortmund, the centre piece of which was a shrine to Prabha. I’ve also talked to Tamils in Toronto and Sinhalese in London, and found their views as diverse as any in Colombo. So I understand that there’ll be a wide spectrum of opinion amongst the diaspora Tamils. In the same way I’m sure that for the SL Tamils in the NE and out, the first priority is probably an end to the immediate fighting.

However, surely, the Tamils on the whole must surely be looking for an option beyond eternal war. Any group of humans would look for options outside suffering. I can understand a laast ditch mentality, where the group feels there is no option but death. In the NE the Tamils have experienced an option to war (the CFA).

Do the Tamils feel that the LTTE is the least evil of the options? Comment, are you a Tamil, aand if so, what do you think?

I’m sure the Sinhalese outside SL are forced into very hardline positions because of the overwhelming Tiger propoganda, but in the end, unlike the Tamils, their opinions are irrelevent except on their ability to lobby foreign bodies.

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comment
2007-05-03 18:59:38

Do the Tamils feel that the LTTE is the least evil of the options? Comment, are you a Tamil, aand if so, what do you think?
——————-
I can only answer one question for sure. I am a Tamil.

But remember, I have lived mostly outside of Sri Lanka.

The funny thing is I get most of the news about the LTTE and P. from a Sinhalese colleague!!! :-) For example a couple of years ago, I walked into work and he was eager to show me a news item about Prabaharan’s children doing well in their O’levels. He commented on how remarkable it was that they were still studying in Sri Lanka and I think somewhere in the north, when they could easily study overseas compared to some of the politicians in Sri Lanka. I was embarrased that I had no clue about Prabaharan’s personal life. My colleague is armed with Trivia about the LTTE. He doesn’t spport them…in case you are wondering. Cut to a family dinner…2 weeks ago one of my friend’s relatives commented on Anton Balasingham’s death and her cousin who is Tamil and came to australia as an adult, asked who Anton Balasingham was. Then her husband who is also Tamil asked the same question. Do you get the picture?!!!

A typical Tamil conversation in australia would be how much marks do you need to get into the best uni Or how can my child get a scholarship into the best school. And like most australians, do we use grey water or should we install a rain water tank (we are experiencing a severe water shortage). When speaking about the war in the North and East, it is more about getting news about their relatives, the village, their old school or Kovil or Church than what bomb was used or what political solution would solve the problem. At least that is my personal experience.

I know a few middle class Tamils who are ardent suporters of the LTTE. Interestingly some of them only became aware of Tamil issues after 1983. Well….they voted for the UNP before 1983. These tamils from the South experienced betrayal by the govenment and the local community that turned against them and couldn’t flee anymore to their ancestral homes in the north/East due to the war that had started; they tend to be bitter about this.

I also know some Tamils (not sure if they are brave or crazy) who are not particularly fond of the LTTE or the Sri lankan army, who cannot bear to leave their austere life in Jaffna, and even though they have family in Australia, they are in a hurry to get back.

So there are so many viewpoints so many lives.

Regarding your comment about the lesser of two evils…I did speak to a tamil from Jaffna who got a death threat from the LTTE for something quite ridiculous, during the 1990s, and I asked him why he doesn’t denounce them. He said, he prefers them to an army of alien people, going through his village. When I watch TV, I see the similar sentiments expressed by Iraqi people, about the American soldiers in Bagdad. Even those who despised Saddam, think he is the lesser of two evils.

Finally, a common theme I keep seeing on the blogs by people in colombo is that Lashman Kadirgamar and Neelan Thiruchelvam were “moderates”. Well, Lakshman Kadirgamar is a complex character and considered to be an extremist war monger among many Tamils. Bit like some of the people appointed by the americans in the interim government in Iraq. Opinions on Neelan Thiruchelvam on the other hand are more divided. From the little I have heard among the Tamils I know, no one seems to dispute that he has strong credentials with regard to work in human rights advocacy for a long period of time including issues relating to the Tamils and is remembered with more affection by some. His weak point was his lack of personal connection to the north and the East and his direct appointment by the Sri Lankan government which was sadly made use of to justify his killing.

Regarding the Sinhalese diaspora, the propaganda has been carried out even just before 1983, before the LTTE became prominent. I remember my uncle recalling Mahindapala (currently involved with the Asia Tribune) heading a demonstration in front of a venue in which Amirthalingam was speaking in australia. I also have sinhalese friends who are not happy about the dominance of these groups in community activities. Like the Tamils they feel pressurised to conform to these views. I think this dominance might be changing with more Sinhalese immigrants, interested in escaping from the politics, migrating to australia, as I stated in my previous comment.

David Blacker
2007-05-04 09:54:25

So then am I correct in thinking that the majority of SL Tamils living outside SL don’t really care enough about the plight of the NE Tamils (unless they have relatives there)? From what you say about Australian Tamils, it seems their attitudes more or less mirror the attitudes of Sri Lankans living outside the NE. It seems that everyone is willing to cede the destiny of the NE Tamils to the LTTE.

BTW I think the view of Kadirgama by Tamils is heavily coloured by LTTE propoganda as well as his position as a GoSL minister, an integral part of the cabinet, rather than an independent (though appointed) person like Tiruchelvam.

 
comment
2007-05-04 13:12:53

Firstly I am talking about the Australian Tamils. Canada, US and UK are vastly different. This is the danger of formulating views about a group of people using anectodal evidence.

A large proportion in Australia are middle class profesionals. Like most Tamils these people don’t have the option of returning to Sri Lanka, the north/East or the south….and they are fortunate enough to be able to rebuild their lives quite sucessfully and integrate into mainstream society. They are slightly more aware than the Sri Lankans in that they are concerned about the humanitarian situation, and the places they came from. Some have gone to volunteer in the North and East, but recently I know of individuals who found it difficult because the Sri Lankan army is placing restrictions on expartriate Tamils going to these areas. I know white Australians who have also gone as volunteers and the first thing they talk about is not about the LTTE or politics, but how people are struggling to survive in this conflict.

“It seems that everyone is willing to cede the destiny of the NE Tamils to the LTTE.”
———————————————-
There has been active debate for some time in the Australian Tamil community about the LTTE’s violations of human rights. There is even a widely distributed Tamil community paper that is accused of being anti LTTE. I think the LTTE became very unpopular in the 1990s after a spate of killings and I have noticed they have made a great deal of effort to change their image. It is possible they felt the pressure from the expatriate community. On the other hand there are no Sri Lankan community papers that criticise the Sri Lankan government. Recently I did see a paper in sinhalese and I am curious to know what it says.

Having said that, I honestly don’t know what every one of the hundreds of Sri Lankan Tamils on this earth are thinking at this moment. Right now, even someone in Jaffna is probably thinking about something pretty mundane apart from the LTTE , Rajapakse and the Sri Lankan cricket team.

I can’t speak for Sri lankan Tamils, but I have heard many interviews with Kadirgamar as foreign minister having access to BBC, ABC etc. in australia and I myself found his statements quite inflammatory. He appears to be a more educated version George Bush.

For example:

“Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has criticised the United Nations for condemning the killing of civilians by both sides in the continuing war.

Mr Kadirgamar was quoted by the state-run Daily News as saying the UN should be concerned with malaria and mosquitos and should not try to expand its mandate.”

also

“Mr Kadirgamar told the Daily News he would not tolerate UN officials commenting on domestic issues.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/459007.stm

He genenerated propaganda for the LTTE simply by making public statements of this kind.

 
comment
2007-05-04 13:22:40

On the other hand I really don’t know much about Neelan Thiruchelvam appart from the LTTE propaganda. He seems to have kept a low profile.

 
Tariq
2007-05-04 16:05:15

yeah really low profile.. about 6 feet under to be exact

 
 
comment
2007-05-03 19:09:28

By the way, you might be interested a few years ago, a Tamil lady told me about two sinhalese army deserters who were getting assistance from her local church which had a large number of Tamils. It is a crazy world!

Sarath
2007-05-04 22:08:14

The Australian Tamil community must be reeling from the recent arrests of 2 Tamils as terror suspects. It is a sharp slap upon the Tamil community in Australia and most Sri Lankans in Australia are overjoyed to see the authorities taking action against Tamil extremism.

 
Sarath
2007-05-04 22:15:41

Here is the story:

Vic men charged for funding Tamil Tigers

Two Melbourne men charged with terrorism offences are accused of channelling money raised under the guise of tsunami relief to Sri Lanka’s separatist Tamil Tigers.

Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, 32, of Mount Waverley, and Sivarajah Yathavan, 36, of Vermont South, appeared in a Melbourne court on Tuesday following a series of counter-terrorism raids in Melbourne and Sydney.

———————————–

Australians funding Tamil Tigers: Downer

2nd May 2007, 14:02 WST

Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer says there is no doubt that Australian money is funding the Tamil Tigers terrorist group.

———————————–

Australia’s Tamil support hit by death, arrests

The two men charged this week with terrorism-related offences – Sivarajah Yathavan, 36, and Aruran Vinayagamoorthy, 32 – were also members of the TCC.

They have been charged with intentionally being members of the mainly Hindu Tamil Tigers.

The two are the first non-Muslims to be charged under Australian terror laws.

 
comment
2007-05-05 03:38:24

It appears that Mr. Kohana is privy to the exact percentage of LTTE funding that comes from Australia which is in my opinion very detailed information. Yet, they weren’t able to find out information about the impending attack on Colombo.

Sarath, its good you brought this up. I was going to mention it because I saw this news item. Firstly, it is a lesson to people about how the law should deal with such people.

Apart from the charge of “Terrorism” which is a nebulous term in the legal sense, the allegations are that these men have actualy duped people into thinking they were donating for the Tsunami and so the court is carrying out criminal proceedings. For those who are are curious, the person they mentioned had died I have heard about and has been living in Australia for a long time; think ironically he died just after watching a game of cricket. I have never heard of the other two men.

I can’t speak for the Tamil community but as an individual I am not “reeling”. The two men are being treated as innocent until proven guilty, they are going to be tried in a court of law and have been provided with legal help. Furthermore, it is important that charity organisations are held accountable. Frankly, if people in the commnunity have been duped into giving funds for the Tsunami, and the investigators find that it was for something else, then justice is done for the local community as well as the victims of the Tsunami in Sri Lanka. It is a lesson to Sri Lanka, on how some of the politicians who have siphoned off Tsunami funds should be dealt with. The Tsunami has been used to exploit human kindness and generosity to fatten a few in the country and while others struggle.

 
 
 
 
 
comment
2007-05-03 21:21:03

The church was in Australia, not in Sri Lanka.

 
Sarath
2007-05-05 08:01:52

Well the Australasian Federation of Tamils is screaming its lungs out and running left and right trying to defend those arrested Tamils. Most of their time is spent whining against the Sri Lankan government and whitewashing the atrocities of the Tamil Tigers. Tamilsydney.com and its various other branches are also going crazy over the arrests. In my opinion these arrests were well over due. Tamil extremists must be told where to get off – whether it be in Sri Lanka or elsewhere. Using the tsunami as a guise to fund the LTTE is absolutely despicable, especially considering how generous Australians were with their money. It’s also despicable how Tamil Hindu temples are used as funding grounds for the LTTE. A Tamil Hindu temple in London has now had its assets frozen because of alleged links to the LTTE. Hopefully those Tamil Hindu temples in Australia will also come under check by the authorities.

———–

Temple’s alleged links to rebels

A document leaked to BBC London has revealed that a Hindu temple in south London may have possible links to a rebel organisation.

The Armulmihu Hindu temple in Tooting has had its assets frozen pending an investigation into alleged links with the UK banned Tamil Tigers.

The temple’s founder has been suspended during the investigation.

BBC

 
comment
2007-05-05 11:59:22

I don’t know what the Australian federation of Tamils has been saying. Just read the news articles you linked to. Will look it up.

Just something to think about:

These funds may have also been collected from Australian Tamils. I don’t know the exact details because I have forunately not been appoached by anyone. I think it is a “slap” (to use your vernacular) upon those Tamils if they have been cheated into giving money to these people thinking they were funding Tsunami victims.

As I pointed out earlier, there has been debate within the Tamil community in Australia and overseas about the LTTE and its violations of human rights as well as the misuse of funds. In fact if I recall, it was UK and Canadian Tamils themselves who outed these groups for approaching them for funding.

I do hope that the expatriate Sri Lankan community would be as indignant when more substantial amounts of funds by the Sri Lankan government are misused. Remember the Sri Lankan government and organisations such as SPUR have been “whinging” as you put it against LTTE/Tamil terrorism as well.

What concerns me is a lack of accountability on all sides. This can only be carried out by an independent body such as the UN. If expatriate Sri Lankans were sincere about their concerns for the people in the country, they would pressurise both the Sri Lankan governement and the LTTE to invite such organisations into the country, and allow them to conduct an open audit and adhere to their guidelines. I would be interested to know if apart from Tamil groups, there are any Australian Sri Lankan groups that are involved in this.

Sarath
2007-05-05 21:02:13

I have no idea why you seem to be trying to portray Australian Tamils as snow white pigeons. One only needs to have a look at all the “Tamil eelam” organizations, and the harassment of Sinhalese shop owners to see that extremism among Australian Tamils is rife. The recent arrests of Tamils on terror charges (the first non Muslims!) just goes to show what is happening within the Australian Tamil community. I have no doubt that certain members of the Tamil community duped the greater Australian population into donating for the tsunami knowing full well that all the money would go to the LTTE. That, in my opinion, is just absolutely despicable. I’m afraid no amount of eel-wriggling takes that away from the Australian Tamil community. Funding terrorism in Sri Lanka is abominable and Tamil leaders in Australia should be ashamed of themselves.

comment
2007-05-06 03:39:04

Sarath,

By the way your link to the BBC article does not work. The incident I know about was reported by a UK Tamil (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4606365.stm).

I have not denied that there are supporters of the LTTE in the Australian Tamil Community.

eg.
“I know a few middle class Tamils who are ardent suporters of the LTTE.”

I also stressed that this was only based on my personal experience and I had no statistical evidence.

“I am basing alot of this from anecdotal evidence and news reports etc. Don’t have any statistical evidence.”

So,

Could you please enlighten me with some statistical polls as to what the majority of Austalian Tamils think about the LTTE or if the majority of these Tamils support them with funds?

On the other hand I have also stated some hard facts:
*UK and Canadian Tamils themselves have outed these groups for approaching them for funding and approached media organisations such as the BBC. Eg. See link above.

*There is a widely circulated Tamil Community paper that is critical of the LTTE.

Therefore, I have another question for you:
Are there Sri Lankan community newspapers that are critical of the Sri lankan government or the misappropriation of Tsunami funds by the government? If not, why not?…it looks suspiciously like a government propaganda machine to me. Even the media in Sri Lanka have the courage to question their government despite the threats to their lives. What excuse do the editors of the Sri Lankan community newspapers have in the safety of Australia? Are they being co-erced or funded by the Sri Lankan government?

Please note: Even though there is a dominance of groups such as SPUR that “whine” as you would put it, constantly about the LTTE and never criticise the Sri Lankan government, I don’t lump the whole sinhalese community in Australia into one amorphous group.

If Sinhalese shopkeepers are being harrassed, the solution to the problem is simple…report it to the local Police.

Finally,
Are you expecting me to change facts, to suit your views?

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Sarath
2007-05-06 06:31:03

Why in the world should I ” enlighten you with some statistical polls as to what the majority of Austalian Tamils think about the LTTE or if the majority of these Tamils support them with funds?” The fact of the matter is that Australian Tamils are funding terrorism in Sri Lanka. Period. Even the foreign minister of Australia says so. The truth may be bitter but it is time to accept the fact that Tamil extremists in Australia are hard at work trying to fund terrorism, and have even used the tsunami as a guise to raise money for the so-called “sole representatives” of the Tamils back in Sri Lanka. If you think it is OK for people to fund raise claiming they for the tsunami victims and then channel it to a terror organization you need to get your head examined. Why should any Sri Lankan papers in Australia be critical of the SL government, why should that be their editorial line? And I’m going to assume you haven’t been to a Sri Lankan shop because if you have you would have known that almost all Sri Lankan newspapers are available to the community – The Sunday Times, The Sunday Leader, The Island, The Sunday Observer and a host of Sinhala dailies. I must mention here that unlike the LTTE, the government was voted in democratically through a free vote. If you don’t know, it was the LTTE that orchestrated a boycott of the last Presidential elections and prevented the Tamil people from exercising their franchise.

Nothing you say is going to change the FACT that Australian Tamils fund LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka. As a member of the Tamil community do something about it instead of running around trying to paint a picture of virture with regards to Australian Tamils.

comment
2007-05-06 08:40:02

“Why should any Sri Lankan papers in Australia be critical of the SL government, why should that be their editorial line?”

To be fair, balanced and provide a neutral viewpoint there should be pro and anti government viewpoints. Unless you think the Sri Lankan govenment is perfect and above questioning. You expect the balance, fairness and neutrality from Tamil Community representatives and spokespeople, yet are prepared to accept a onesided view by Sri Lankan community papers and community leaders.

“If you think it is OK for people to fund raise claiming they for the tsunami victims and then channel it to a terror organization you need to get your head examined.”

I have not said this.

“Why in the world should I ” enlighten you with some statistical polls as to what the majority of Austalian Tamils think about the LTTE or if the majority of these Tamils support them with funds?” The fact of the matter is that Australian Tamils are funding terrorism in Sri Lanka. Period. ”

I asked you this question, because I needed to ensure that I wouldn’t be jumping to conclusions about one thing:
you have no scruples about holding racist views. The above statement you made confirms it.

The following definition of Racisim would make this clearer:

“Racial prejudice refers to pre-formed notion of individuals based on their perceived racial heritage. It involves hasty generalizations about members of a group based on the perceived characteristics of one or more members of the group. Generalizations include beliefs that every member of a group has the same personality traits, interests, language, culture, ideas, norms and attitudes. Racial prejudices are sometimes promoted by the mainstream media. Racism has started wars and slavery.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism

Remember I had the courtesy to concede this:
“Even though there is a dominance of groups such as SPUR that “whine” as you would put it, constantly about the LTTE and never criticise the Sri Lankan government, I don’t lump the whole sinhalese community in Australia into one amorphous group.

I have a policy not to engage with people persistently make racist statements without any compunction. Now that I can conclude that you fall into this category this ends our discourse.

 
 
Sarath
2007-05-06 10:54:21

“To be fair, balanced and provide a neutral viewpoint there should be pro and anti government viewpoints. Unless you think the Sri Lankan govenment is perfect and above questioning. You expect the balance, fairness and neutrality from Tamil Community representatives and spokespeople, yet are prepared to accept a onesided view by Sri Lankan community papers and community leaders.”

Please, you’re arguing that Sri Lankan newspapers NEED to be criticizing the government in order to be “neutral.” That is the biggest load of garbage I’ve heard in a long time. The full range of Sri Lankan newspapers are available in Australia and in community newspapers published in Australia, the government does get critiqued – for being lenient with the Tamil Tigers, for the rate of crime and the cost of living in Sri Lanka, for making it hard for expatriates to invest, for selling out resources to foreigners, the list goes on. Clearly, you have not been to a Sri Lankan shop or you would have witnessed the range of news resources available to the Sri Lankan community in Australia. Perhaps you are living in a ‘Tamil ghetto’ somewhere in Homebush? I ask because you seem so naively unaware of what happens in the Sri Lankan community in Australia. If you are living in a ‘ghetto’ and mix only with Tamils, I would suggest you take some time move with the greater Sri Lankan community in Australia which comprises Sinhalese, Moors, Burghers and Malays as well. Living in a Wellawatte-like Tamil enclave (or any other enclave for that matter) gives one a ‘frog in the well’ mentality.

No amount of eel-wriggling is going to change the FACT that Australian Tamils are funding terrorism in Sri Lanka by send money to the Tamil Tigers. That is absolutely despicable and unnaceptable. Calling people “racist” at the drop of hat just because they point out the obvious criminal behaviour that exists within the Australian Tamil community is not going to change anything. Perhaps your “policy” should be to effect changes within the Australian Tamil community so that Australian money is not chanelled to the Tamil Tigers and their vile terrorism. I say again, Tamil leaders should be ashamed of themselves.

comment
2007-05-08 04:44:31

By the way Sarath.

I wasn’t going to reply, but I realised I might have made a mistake and would like to apologise re: one thing. ie about Sri Lankan community papers.

I don’t live in NSW, but the state I live in, all the Sri Lankan community papers are uncritical about the Sri Lankan government. Also on the national news, almost all media releases from Sri Lankan community groups are related to critising the LTTE, and none, condemning the corruption of the Sri Lankan government and unequitable distribution of Tsunami funds. Thats how I came to the conclusion. I will have to take your word about the fact that Sri lankan community papers in NSW do look at negative aspects of the Sri Lankan governments policies since you have seen them and I havn’t.

I am aware that the papers from Sri Lanka are critical…and you don’t seem to have read what I have said with care, I pointed out that journalists in Sri Lanka do criticise the government.

Having said that, you persist in making racist statements and don’t appear to have any reservations about doing so.

 
 
ethnichybrid
2007-05-07 17:20:27

Am I the only one in Colombo who is not Tamil and who thinks that if the Tamils want the LTTE to be their sole spokesperson, and if they want Eelam, then give it to them. What is this bullshit we are going through, trying to keep territorial integrity when the reality is that we don’t have it. We treat all Tamils like shit, we bomb the daylights out of Tamils living in the North and the East, we are suspicious of them, we don’t like them and think that every tamil is a tiger. We are certainly not treating tamils as if they are citizens of this country, so what is the big deal about giving them a part of the country for them to live in safely. If they are unhappy after they obtain Eelam, is not our problem. If they didn’t want Eelam in the first place, if they were against the Tigers we certainly don’t hear any objections from any Tamils about it. So the obvious conclusion is they must want Eelam.

comment
2007-05-08 04:28:45

I am a Tamil, and I don’t know what “Tamils” want. We can’t simply make assumptions about a large group of people.

The most important and moral thing, apart from what Tamils want or don’t want is to ensure that human rights of all people are respected.

This is not happening. People are more interested in spending time debating if the LTTE is the sole representative of the people or if eelam should be a seperate state or within a federal state.

Where is the humanity?

aadhavan
2007-05-08 07:27:25

That’s very naive. What about group rights? The right to self determination? Do Tamils have an entitlement as a group to this right? It’s in answering these critical questions that you begin to see that the problem is inherently political.

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comment
2007-05-08 09:16:24

Aadhavan,

My concern is that politics is being used as an excuse to allow the escalation of the humanitarian crisis.

The politics cannot be ignored, and has to be considered, but not at the expense of those who are caught up in this.

I also believe when one looks at the fundamental issues of human rights (group and individual) as a basis for social and political reform, then these issues would begin to be addressed more effectively.

But then, as you say, I might be naive.

 
 
 
comment
2007-05-12 16:03:06

ethnichybrid,

Sorry sounded a bit short. What you said sounds sensible.

Getting a bit weary of as Adhavan puts it “these little academic debates” and being a pompous ass. Am being bombarded daily with emails and information from NGOs etc. at this end about the humanitarian crisis and it was getting to me.

Was actually going to avoid commenting for good on this blog, because I find the debates and mindsets appear to be stagnant, until David Blacker’s question.

David Blacker: I made it very long winded….and really…in the end I have not added any value. If you are sincere about your quest, the very best, and hope you find out what you want to. Just a note of warning, ask yourself, are you trying to find an answer that suits your inner desire.

Something that is lacking in most Sri Lankan blogs, is a look at other countries that have gone through or are going through a peace process etc. What lessons can we learn from them? In the 21st centuary, we have the advantage of extensive audio and film archives as well as global communication networks. We have less of an excuse. Maybe we are more physically connected than before, but disconnected in another sense. I don’t know.

Examples of countries which had to negotiate with “Terrorist” groups:
Northern Ireland
South Africa
Israel/Palestine
East Timor (us terrorist Tamils in Australia have worked very closely with the Timorese community)

Have people asked themselves, why is it when the prevention of terrorsim act or the global war on terror was announced since 9/11, terrorism has increased?

For those who have access to broadband. Here is a documentary
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/video1040.htm

comment
2007-05-12 16:14:41

The word “terrorism” is a copout. It is an excuse for governments to scare people into allowing them to erode people’s rights, and distract the public from the real issues.

People might not see much of a connection between the current war on global terrorism and what is happening in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has in fact passed that stage. The small group of boys, (literally), has grown to something more.

In case people havn’t noticed, those anti terror laws and tactics, have not worked.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
David Blacker
2007-05-14 11:09:38

“are you trying to find an answer that suits your inner desire.”

Well, I think that if we’re all truly honest, we’ll admit that we hope that are views will be proven true. So of course I do hope that there’s a Tamil maajority out there who are fed up with a hopeless war, and who are planning active alternatives.

“Why is it when the prevention of terrorsim act or the global war on terror was announced since 9/11, terrorism has increased?”

Well a declaration of war always precedes an escalation of war, doesn’t it? After the Pearl Harbour raid, the US declared war on Japan, after which Japanese military action against the US increased. If you are suggesting that such a declaration incites an escalation, you might want to revist that theory. Darkness precedes the dawn, but it doesn’t bring about that dawn.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-08 13:35:05

Point taken. Your initial comment seemed to suggest that political issues were not as important as questions of fundamental rights. If your point was that politics was being used as an excuse to ignore the humanitarian concersn of Tamils, then kudos to you.

Yes, fundamental rights questions do inform the debate on political arrangements and vice versa. That’s why focusing on one to the detriment of the other is counterproductive.

Not like any of these little academic debates matter anyway no?

 
comment
2007-05-14 19:59:31

David Blacker:

Pearl Harbour occured at a different time and place. We are not talking about traditional warfare; this is a war against “terror”. I might be wrong, but from what I have been told the LTTE were a small group of boys operating in the jungle. This is before 1983; before the LTTE had much support from the local or expatriate Tamil community or whoever else the government feels like pointing its finger at these days. People in Jaffna recall a strong army presence in the north just to combat these boys. With that presence came an abuse of rights of citizens in that region with a number of human rights violations and atrocities (eg. burning of the Jaffna library) commited by the government with the excuse that they were fighting terrorists who don’t wear uniform and therefore could be anyone they felt like picking up.

The link I have provided, illustrates a similar phenomenan occuring with the global war on terror.

In Australia, since the “war against terror” began I am disturbed by the increase in racial and religious discrimination agains arabs and muslims in general. This discrimination and paranoia far exceeds the actual threat to the country and is escalated by the statements made by leaders in this country. Unfortunately it is also marginalising and radicalising islamic youth and fears are becoming real.

In Sri Lanka it is probably too late to look at this. Though the government continues on the same course it started more than two decades ago….of “fighting terrorism”. In some ways I see a greater evolution in the way the LTTE adapts to circumstances than the Sri lankan government.

“I do hope that there’s a Tamil majority out there who are fed up with a hopeless war, and who are planning active alternatives.”
The Tamils and even the LTTE have a greater motive to stop the war since it is occuring on their own land.

David Blacker
2007-05-15 11:24:44

The fundamentals of war don’t change, Comment. Just the weapons, tactics, and ideaology. Pearl might have happened 56 years ago, but the parallels between it and 9/11 are strong. And the war on terror is exactly what war in the late 20th and early 21st centuries is. Unconventional warfare is now “traditional warfare”. Conventional wars like the Falklands, ODS and OIF are anomalies. But my point was that just because an event follows another doesn’t meaan that one triggered the other.

You may say that launching the war on terror precepitated the increase in terrorism, but others will say that 9/11 was the trigger.

Thanks for the mini-history lesson on our own little war, but I’ve both observed and fought in it to know it quite well. To say that the violence in the NE increased because of a GoSL military presence is one argument, while it’s equally fair to say that that presence was a necessity of the increased violent criminality of the “small group of boys”. Surely you’re not naive enough to suggest that if the GoSL hadn’t reacted to the separatist violence, the Tamil militants would’ve been saatisfied with knocking off the occasional patrol and killing the odd cop. I think not. Once you pick up a gun, nature takes its course.

Of course the war on terror has increased xenophobia in Australia. It increased it in the US during WW2 too. Remember the thousands of Japanese Americans who were incarcerated for the duration even though they were innocent of everything but being of Japanee descent? War always polarises attitudes — it always has, it always will. You’ll see it right here on this site. You and I are able to have a decent dialogue, but if an extremist comes in and suggests that all soldiers rape Tamils and eat babies, or that all Tamils are bloodthirsty Tiger supporters who should be lined up and shot,, you’ll find us both on the defensive and fighting back in a waay we normally wouldn’t.

Just as you say the GoSL continues on the same course it began twenty years ago, you could say the same for the Tigers.

The difference is that the GoSL has been able to secure a realtively good (by 3rd world standards) living environment for the people of the south. The LTTE has done just the opposite for the people of the NE. So you’re right, the NE Tamils have every incentive to look for alternatives. Why aren’t they?

comment
2007-05-15 16:21:16

DB:”Surely you’re not naive enough to suggest that if the GoSL hadn’t reacted to the separatist violence, the Tamil militants would’ve been saatisfied with knocking off the occasional patrol and killing the odd cop. I think not. Once you pick up a gun, nature takes its course.”

Can see you follow the old school of thinking: “Shoot the bugger, kill the bugger.” :-)

At the early stages, if the government had tried to win the co-operation of the local community, I believe the threat would have ceased. Anyway all of this is retrospective, and things have now gone past the point of no return.

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comment
2007-05-15 06:57:18

I must add that the social and political climate in the south is not amenable to a stable and long lasting solution. Raging against Prabaharan and the LTTE is detracting from deep seated issues.

In a democracy, people have to be informed. People in some of these blogs dismiss the masses who support the JVP for instance as extremists. These extremists are people who feel excluded and have not been sufficiently educated or informed about political and human rights issues in the country. If these people feel they are kept out of the process they are naturally going to become suspicious and hostile. It is only after constructive efforts have been made to consult and inform these people that we can label them as extremists or chauvinists etc. This is out of the control of the Tamils. It is upto the Sinhalese from the priviledged classes to begin doing this.

So for a start we need to know what do the Sinhalese think? Not just the middle class sinhalese in Colombo. After all they have the power of the majority and have been electing the leaders of this country from independence.

 
comment
2007-05-15 15:36:39

David Blacker,

I already stated in some parts above that there are alternative opinions in the Tamil community. Even if there were none. Sri Lankans have to also respect the right of the Tamils to determine their own future.

I respect your knowledge and experience in millitary matters but fighting in the war doesn’t necessarily give you a civilian perspective which is in my opinion of primary importance. I believe that the army is there to serve and protect the people of the country.

I have actually been trying to find a link to an article I read in the New Yorker a few months ago. It was an article about adopting new methods and tactics in modern warfare. Maybe the nature of war hasn’t changed but nevertheless the US military is looking at new methods. I think an ex-australian army officer was doing some research in the US. Im sorry I can’t find it anymore. I remember they were doing social and behavioural research and the researcher commented on the importance of the army winning over and listening to the civilian population. These are lessons the americans are now learning from their botched up liberation of Iraq. There has to be something wrong if for a number of Tamils the army and police are viewed as the bad guys. The same with Iraq. You can’t just discount it all as propaganda. Unlike the Sri Lankans, the Americans and Australians are not prepared to tolerate millitary casualties, and so they have to think of more effiecient methods while attempting to stick to UN charters etc.

I recall in East Timor for example a relatively successful Australian led UN peacekeeping force intervening with the cooperation of the Timorese civilian population and working closely with UN officials who were monitoring elections in the area. I hope something like that can happen in the North and East.

I agree with your point that just because one precedes the other one is not necessarily the cause of the other. One advantage I belive in the modern age is the availability of more data from a variety of countries in similar positions. People are beginning to see significant patterns in situations related to war against “terrorists” and I don’t think we can discount them completely. I supose it is the modern equivalent of colonialism, where the colonists were the good guys who occupied land that they felt was theirs and had to fight against “savages”, not soldiers or freedom fighters. These days the “savages” have access to small scale but more powerful weaponery.

Before the LTTE became a fully fledged organisation that also ran some civilian institutions the government of sri Lanka was the sole provider for the Tamil people. Under the sole governance of the Sri Lankan government came the destruction of lives and property in the 1970s and 1980s. There is a major difference between the way the government of sri Lanka has dealt with uprisings in the south and uprisings in the North/East. This is a clear message to the Tamil people that the army is an army of occupation. It is a clear message to the people that the government is not as concerned with the welfare of those living in the north/east in comparison to the south.

I will honestly say that I don’t know if the LTTE or any other Tamil group could do any better. But the fact is they havn’t been given a chance to carry out civilian duties for a significant period of time without the threat of attack from the Sri Lankan government.

On a personal note, I was very sceptical and in some ways reluctunt to acknowledge the ability of the LTTE to function in a civilian capacity until watching the 24 hour news coverage on CNN and BBC etc. during the Tsunami. It was clear to us viewing this footage from overseas that the populations in the North and East were deprived of aid while those in the south were taken care of. Leaving the politics aside, we also saw footage taken by reporters on CNN and BBC with the LTTE in operation efficiently clearing bodies and distributing food etc. It provided some insight into the fact that they just cannot be dismissed completely as a “terrorist” organisation. I also know of an australian plastic surgeon who was working with former LTTE cadres who were carrying out amputations of limbs etc. in a hospital in the north. While he did not endorse their ideology, he was impressed by their skill, focus and dedication. When he came back to Australia he was given a hard time by members of the local sinhalese community (I hope someone reading this is not going to hassle him again).

Part of a peace process is to not make a section of the population feel victimised or margninalised. The LTTE cannot simply be written off by the Sinhalese or the Tamil community. That is why I am reluctant to paint them as a bunch of evil doers. I have been fortunate to be born into a background that provided me the opportunity to build a life outside Sri Lanka. These men and women havn’t.

David Blacker
2007-05-15 17:43:56

“Can see you follow the old school of thinking: “Shoot the bugger, kill the bugger.””

:) Not really. Wars are not won just by killing. However, a militant cannot expect to take up the gun and then be treated as if he hadn’t. To quote Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility”.

Yes, of course the GoSL should’ve worked on hearts & minds in the early stages. I’d go further to say that the GoSL should never have discriminated against the minorities in the first place. If you’re trying to convince me that the separatists were/are justified in their cause, don’t bother — you’re preaching to the converted.

My question is not about the paast, but the future. Where do the Tamils go now?

Saying that the US is now looking at new tactics and strategm because war has changed is a false assumption. The fact is that the US military has fallen far behind in the those tactics and strategm needed to fight unconventional warfare. The tactics used successfully by the British and Australians in Iraq and Afghanistan today, are practically unchanged from the days of Malaya, Borneo, Aden, and Vietnam. What’s changed are the weapons and technologies. The US is playing catch-up not adapting to a new form of warfare.

In your comment about colonists and “good guys” and “bad guys”, I suspect you’re trying to throw some ambivalence on whether “terrorists” are good or bad. The argument’s as old as the term “terrorist”. I think you can only look at individual groups and decide for yourself whether they’re mostly bad or mostly good. With the AQ groups, I’d have to say what they stand for from a cultural (not religious) point of view is mostly bad. And the western nations fighting them are mostly good. Bearing in mind that it’s all relative. I’d have to say the same about the LTTE — they’re mostly bad. The fact that they helped Tamil tsunami victims mean nothing — the GoSL helped Sinhalese victims.

“But the fact is they havn’t been given a chance to carry out civilian duties for a significant period of time without the threat of attack from the Sri Lankan government.”

Even if this was true (which I’d argue it isn’t), you can’t expect such a chance to be given unless that chance has been wrested away violently. As I said before, you can’t point a gun at someone, demand to be given something, and then expect to be allowed to walk away peacefully. When you choose violence you must accept the consequences. I’m sure that if given enough time the LTTE will be able to transform itself into a civil government, but that’s not the point, is it?

I’m not saying that the LTTE should be written off. It’s obvious that no solution can be reached without their inclusion in it. I just question the Tamil inability to impose its will on the group in order to reach that solution.

comment
2007-05-19 18:28:06

Just a note:
regarding “terrorists” being the equivalent of the colonist’s use of the “savages” when indigenous people revolted against colonisation:

Calling them “savages” enabled the soldier to dehumanise their oponent and break the conventional rules that had to be followed if for example the British were fighting a group of “civilised men” in Napolean’s army. “Savages” helpless in the face of more powerful weapons had to face unconventional methods of warfare.

I think this is similar to the modern war against “terrorists”. If you call a “terrorist” group an army or even just a group of guerillas, then you have to acknowledge that you are on almost equal terms with your opponent who are in fact human.

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comment
2007-05-16 06:48:10

Firstly, I am not naive to think that just because the LTTE helped the Tsunami victims they are good. In fact I think they have an obligation to help the Tsunami victims. What I was pointing out was I began to see concrete evidence that they have the potential to operate in a civilian capacity and that they have plans for the future.

I have no illusions about the LTTE and people in the Sri Lankan army. I know people on both sides have carried arms and have killed. Even though it is not part of my culture and upbringing it is not for me to judge.

Regarding the inability of Tamils to impose its will. The Tamils have not been given the right to self determination. This has to be done before asking them “why they cannot impose their will”. The capacity for any militant group in these areas to evolve into a civil or political group or lay down arms or for Tamils to impose their will is limited by the following:

1. The north and east (including its civilian population) is under occupation and continously under siege
2. The leaders voted in by the majority group in this country and the institutions governed by these leaders are dictated by shortsighted nepotism and greed.

The rhetoric spouted by various sides in for example the Israeli/Palestinian conflict seems vaguely familiar.

Someone reminded me yesterday that the democratically elected Hamas “terrorists” was aided by the Iraelis to get rid of the PLO “terrorists”.

Here’s an extract from an article written by Uri Avnery, an 83 year old Israeli war vetran (also reported to be one of the first Israelis to meet Arafat when he was exiled in Beruit):
“IF ARAFAT were alive, there would be a clear address for negotiations with the Palestinian people.

The claimed absence of such an address serves the Israeli government as the official pretext for its refusal to start peace negotiations. Every time Condoleezza Rice or another of Bush’s parrots talks about the need to “restart the dialog” (don’t mention “negotiations”) for “the final status” or “the permanent settlement” (don’t mention “peace”), that is the response of Tsipi Livni, Ehud Olmert & Co.

Dialog? With whom? No use to talk with Mahmoud Abbas, because he is unable to impose his will on the Palestinian people. He is no second Arafat. He has no power. And we couldn’t possibly talk with the Hamas government, because it belongs to Bush’s “axis of evil”. So what do you want, Condi dear?”
http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1169934579

And so the Palestinians continue to be under siege.

You can see why a Tamil like me takes the question: do the Tamils want the LTTE to be the sole representative of the people?….with a big pinch of salt.

David Blacker
2007-05-16 10:11:37

“Regarding the inability of Tamils to impose its will. The Tamils have not been given the right to self determination. This has to be done before asking them “why they cannot impose their will”.”

The point is that the Tamils will never get self-determination as long as the LTTE follows the model it does. If the Tamils want self-determination, and if what the LTTE wants is the same (and not just power), then the military option must be firmly put aside. A GoSL that is successful military is very unlikely to do that. So I think it’s the people who hve the most to gain from peace must take the initiative.

comment
2007-05-16 14:02:23

David,

Your statement above is an all or nothing view. You are looking at one side winning or losing.

The Sri Lankan army can only be considered to be successful relative to the LTTE’s gains and losses. Is it a success for the people of the country that there has been a war waged for decades by the national army funded by the taxes of the entire Sri Lankan wage-earning population (including Tamils in the north, east, west and South) against a much smaller group that has far less resources and equipment and appears to have grown in strength?

The LTTE will therefore claim that they have been successful.

So then we have a deadlock and keep going in circles (ala Israel/Palestine).

The peace process which has to include an actual ceasefire can only be based on trust. It is clear that both parties do not trust each other and as I have stated before the only solution is an independent monitoring mission as suggested by Amnesty International and other parties. This is what the Sri Lankans don’t seem to realise while various Tamil groups and even the LTTE have made statements in the affirmative. So who is stopping it from happening?

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David Blacker
2007-05-16 14:29:17

“Your statement above is an all or nothing view. You are looking at one side winning or losing.”

Not at all. I’m quite aware that neither side can win militarily. I have been saying that for years (on this site too). Putting aside the military option doesn’t mean surrendering. The Provos in NI were able to make that transition to good result. Maybe you thought I was saying that the Tamils must force the LTTE to give up. I’m quite aware that that’s impossible. However they (particularly the diaspora) can influence the LTTE. Right now we’re not even seeing a possibility of hope for the NE Tamils.

“The LTTE will therefore claim that they have been successful.”

There’s a distinct difference between claim and reality, however. Look at what the avowed goals of the LTTE and the GoSL are. In the former, they have promised to secure a separate state that will no longer come under the control of the GoSL in which the Tamil population could live in better circumstances than they did in the ’70s and early ’80s. In this they have largely failed — the NE Tamil population lives in destitution with malnutrition, illliteracy, and lack of education and shelter vastly higher than any other part of SL. The GoSL has promised to secure the unity of the country and enaable all ethnic communities to live in prosperity (at leaast by 3rd world standards). In this they have largely succeeded — the areas outside the NE are totally unaffected by the war (bar a few pinpricks in Colombo), people (mostly) have access to food, shelter, education, transport and other things that the NE cannot take for granted. For the Sinhalese majority south the war wasn’t even enough of an issue to swing a vote — Mahinda won on his economic proposals, not on his war plans.

So I would conclude that the LTTE has largely failed, while the GoSL has largely succeeded.

“So then we have a deadlock and keep going in circle”

Quite so; a deadlock under which the Tamils suffer and the rest prosper.

“This is what the Sri Lankans don’t seem to realise while various Tamil groups and even the LTTE have made statements in the affirmative”

The only thing the LTTE and the GoSL seems to agree on is that neither wants a UN peace-keeping force. The LTTE has been quite clear on that. Lately they seem to be relenting a bit on this and making agreeable sounds because they are suffering reversals on the military front. The GoSL is unlikely to agree at this point because it sees LTTE bluff for what it is — a stalling tactic, in which a ceasefire will be called for, giving the badly hit Tigers a breather, while the details of the UN force is worked out. If this is to ever happen, the UN needs to start gathering this force now. Once it is ready and able to land in the NE within the space of a few days, a ceasefire can be called for. But it’s unlikely the Security Council will take this initiative.

 
 
 
 
comment
2007-05-17 05:29:39

I hope you are just playing devils advocate to make me as a Tamil see the government’s stance because your view apears single minded and one sided.

You appear to have fallen for the government propaganda on the influence of the Tamil diaspora on events in Sri Lanka. Look at the later comment under the discussion on road signs, and you will get a glimpse of this. The only influence I for example have, like any other sinhalese or tamil australian, is the right to vote in the next australian election, and therefore the ear of the australian government. The fact is the Sri Lankan government has the most amount of influence on events in the country and they are doing a snow job. The Tamils can try and influence the LTTE or even the UN, but the ultimate power and responsibility lies with the people in Sri Lanka who have the right to vote for their leaders. Tamils have died both opposing the LTTE and defending the LTTE, and appear to continue to do so despite these dangers. The largest number of journalists killed by all sides have been Tamil. Unfortunately from your words it appears we can only invest hope in the resilience of the Tamil people who continue to voice their views.

I did manage to have a brief look yesterday at the Northern Ireland peace process. The peace process was initiated by the British government and Gerry Adams who was allied to the IRA. Things did not go smoothly. I think just after the deal was signed a bomb was detonated killing I think, more than 30 people. The British government has stuck in there. Without the support of the new Labour government Gerry Adam’s efforts would have been in vain. I think the British offered the Sri Lankan government a hand in providing them some advise based on their experiences but it was rejected.

Yes, it appears the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government were not keen on having a UN peace keeping force. Probably after the negative experiences with the IPKF. They have tried to do without, but it hasn’t worked. So now they have to try something else.

I will refrain from commenting on the Sri Lankan government’s concerns about the LTTE recouperating from it’s losses. I think we both know that the Sri Lankan government itself cannot be exempt from some of the criticism regarding violations of the agreement.

Looking at influencing the LTTE: my take on it is that Anton Balasingham (equivalent to Gerry Adams?) whether you agreed with his politics or not, has left a significant gap which is difficult to fill. What is being done now is a search for someone who might be able to fill that gap. It can only be filled by someone who Prabaharan can trust. That is the nature of a man whose mind has been shaped by an armed conflict since the age of 16.

All this takes time and the fact is there is an escalating humanitarian crisis.

What is disturbing is a cynicism of politicians and the middle classes they come from regarding the Sri Lankan people’s ability to see the moral and humane aspect of a ceasefire. I think the dehumanising of the average Sri Lankan is similar to the dehumanising of those in the North/East. It provides an excuse to exploit the resources in this country for self.

David Blacker
2007-05-17 10:32:07

“I hope you are just playing devils advocate”

Mostly. I have articulated the GoSL’s stance on several points, but that doesn’t mean I agree with that stance.

“You appear to have fallen for the government propaganda on the influence of the Tamil diaspora on events in Sri Lanka.”

I never said the above. I said the diaspora has the ability to influence the LTTE. I am aware that diaspora funding only amounts to roughly 30% of the LTTE’s annual income, but that’s still a big chunk. I think you’re being naive if you say that the only thing you can do is vote in the next election — that applies to us here too. I admit I’ve not been to Australia, but I’ve lived in Europe for several years, and have visited both Canada and the UK, so maybe my view of the diasporaa is taken from the plaaces I’ve been and the people I’ve seen. You yourself admitted that Australian Tamils are less involved in matters back home than their European and Canadian cousins. The diaspora is quite vocal about pointing out the GoSL’s perceived faults; so how about using that voice to influence the LTTE’s attitude? Or are Tamils in generaal pleaased with the waay the LTTE is conducting this so-called fight for freedom?

“The fact is the Sri Lankan government has the most amount of influence on events in the country and they are doing a snow job.”

Agreed. But the GoSL is doing well on the military front at the moment, so you can’t expect them to be generous for now. Past governments have leaned over backwards to accomodate the LTTE, but the latter failed to capitalise on that.

“The Tamils can try and influence the LTTE or even the UN, but the ultimate power and responsibility lies with the people in Sri Lanka who have the right to vote for their leaders.”

We caan vote for our leaders, but we can’t outvote the LTTE, and the LTTE won’t even let the NE Tamils vote for a government that was interested in peace. The only people who can ultimately influence the Tigers are the Tamils, and the NE Tamils cannot do it because they are terrorised. Who’s left?

“Unfortunately from your words it appears we can only invest hope in the resilience of the Tamil people who continue to voice their views”

Not loud enough to be heard, though.

“The peace process was initiated by the British government and Gerry Adams who was allied to the IRA.”

Actually, Adams was part of Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Provisional IRA. And the bomb was an isolaated incident by a splinter faction (the Real IRA). Adams may haave been the face of the Sinn Fein/Provo effort, but the NI peace initiative came about because the Provos realised they were losing public support, particularly amongst the American Irish. That’s exactly what I’m talking about when I refer to the Tamil diaspora.

“I think the British offered the Sri Lankan government a hand in providing them some advise based on their experiences but it was rejected”

Yes :) they offered us Martin McGuiness, one of the worst murderers the Provos have ever fielded. They might as well have sent over Carlos the Jackal.

I agree that AB’s illness and death left a gap, but there’s no one else on the horizon to fill that gap. Can the NE Tamils afford to wait?

comment
2007-05-17 14:23:28

:-) I knew Gerry Adams was part of the Sinn Fein, and I was going to change it because I knew it would be picked on :-) but then I let it go. :-) Didn’t say or think the bomb was by anyone in the IRA.

Didn’t know who was offered as an arbiter. McGuiness appears to have been good enough for the British and Irish but I suppose he is not good enough for the Sri Lankans. Incidently our most progressive australian prime minister refused to allow Gerry Adams (who had been invited to the Whitehouse) a visa in 1996 and when he was finally granted a visa in 1999 the prime minister declined to meet him (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/events/northern_ireland/latest_news/223491.stm). Same Prime minister (scared of China) is now not sure if his appointment book is too full to meet the Dalai Lama (http://abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200705/s1923933.htm). Also the Sri Lankans should apparently be proud of the lovely and distinguished Mr. Kohana who was offered an invitation to address the Australian Parliment (http://www.asiantribune.com/index.php?q=node/4052) while the Dalai Lama wasn’t. With the Election around the corner the prime minister is sweating. Will be interesting what he does about the Dalai Lama.

“The diaspora is quite vocal about pointing out the GoSL’s perceived faults; so how about using that voice to influence the LTTE’s attitude? Or are Tamils in generaal pleaased with the waay the LTTE is conducting this so-called fight for freedom?”

Well, Australia is less active than the other areas, but we have our share of LTTE supporters and dissenters. It was quite funny when someone suggested that the Kovils be raided because I know for a fact a pro-LTTE group was hounded out of one Kovil (not for being pro-LTTE) and there was a courtcase!! :-) . Also remember in another kovil they turned in their own priest to the police because they thought he burnt the temple to get insurance. I don’t think it was proven but unfortunately the poor man was in remand and it was on the local news. Anyway, the Tamils here are a sticky bunch. You can’t get stuff past them easily. :-) They give their own people a hard time, and when they need to they will give anyone else who crosses their path hard time. There is a widely circulated Tamil community paper that is critical of the LTTE and was accused of being funded by the Sri Lankan government. It is also critical of the Sri lankan government so I am not sure if this is correct.

However, thats the perception you seem to want to hold onto so there is nothing more I can say. Same about your theory about the American Irish Diaspora playing a significant role in the peace process!! Remember the Republic of Ireland is just across the border!

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comment
2007-05-24 08:40:35

“I think you’re being naive if you say that the only thing you can do is vote in the next election — that applies to us here too.”

Having the vote for me is a powerful thing. Within my country, I have the ear of the polititicans because they know my vote is important.

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David Blacker
2007-05-24 10:04:14

And your point is?

 
 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-17 15:43:30

I don’t want to interrupt this debate between the two of you but I’d like to make a couple of points.

First, the responsibility for the state of affairs in the country and responsibility for fixing it, morally speaking does not rest solely on the Tamils, diaspora or local. I think even DB will agree with this.

Second, re David’s point that Tamils outside the NE ought to do something soon because their own are suffering, he’s spot on. That’s why Tamils send back tremendous amounts of money back to their relatives here, support organizations that look after the welfare of Tamils in the NE and are generally concerned about the situation here. However to assume that they can alter the course of events by putting pressure on the LTTE is to be simplistic. Tamils outside the NE but within the island are no different to the average Burgher, Malay or peace loving Singhalese in terms of their power to alter the situation. They are consistently outvoted by those to whom peace is not so important. However to say that the diaspora Tamils can control the LTTE or influence them, is to countenance a situation where the diaspora turns its back on the LTTE if the LTTE does not respond to their requests. The threat of withholding support, which is the only sort of pressure that can be conceived would have to be a credible threat. Not only is this unlikely, but to the average diaspora LTTE supporter(who on average is less likely to reason with you about the potential goodness of the GoSL and the badness of the LTTE), any notion of withdrawing support to a group that to them represents the only resistance to majoritarian repression of the South could never be even taken seriously. I think there’s a kernel 0f truth there. The present government does not inspire the confidence and trust of the Tamils that they would be looked after in the absence of an LTTE. So even if Mr X from Toronto or NY does not like the LTTE, or think that they’re doing a good job, he will still contribute if he’s been doing it in the past. Mr X will never stop supporting the LTTE because he feels the Tamils will be ground into the dust without the LTTE. If you tell him that that’s what’s happening now, he will repeat the LTTE mantra that Tamils will rather die fighting and take the Singhalese down with them.

My final point is that I find this trend of Colombo peace lovers telling the Tamils that they better have a plan because Tamils are the ones who are suffering while the rest of the country is doing swimmingly well a tad bit strange. First, it ignores the fact that responsibility must be taken up by those who owe it. The Tamils are not the only cause, or the primary cause for the suffering of Tamils. Second, it already assumes that we must look after our kind alone. Tamils have to look after Tamils, Burghers have to look after Burghers and Singhalese and Singhalese look after their own. Yet, proclamations are made that we are all Sri Lankans and all belong here. To me there is a contradiction there. But there’s also an element of hypocrisy there. The rest of the country is not doing swimmingly well. I don’t have the statistics but the standard of living in Monaragala and Hambantota is very similar to that in the NE, although its true that standrads in the NE are lower that the national average. The poverty in some areas in the South is shockingly bad. Southern youth numbering 40,000, like their northern counterparts who are being brutalized in the war, are being brutalized by foreign men. 1 million women work in the middle east with little or no human rights protection, some of them subjected to slave like conditions. The economy in general is getting worse all the time, despite the fact that the rich keep getting richer. Inflation, debt, malnutrition and poverty plague the country. The dollar value against the rupee has almost tripled in 15 years. So even if we only need to look after our own, it’s not only Tamils who are suffering even though its been a slow deterioration. Even if the South is to be selfish, they ought to do something about it. And in many ways the rural south is doing something about it. They do not vote on the war alone. They vote on the economy. For sure, because the war affects the economy so bad you deal with the problem as it affects you. Unfortunately though, the perception in the rural South is that the LTTE can be destroyed, and when the LTTE is destroyed the economy will look after itself. For those who subscribe to this view and who are selfish, the status quo works. For those of us who think justice ought to be done and that the war can never be won by any side, the responsibility in solving the problem is a collective enterprise.

comment
2007-05-17 16:25:53

Not sure about Mr. X or Mr. Y. But I have witnessed the diversity in publications presented by Tamils within the North and East and outside (in Sri Lanka and overseas) and am impressed by it. The will of the Tamils to self-organise and find a solution despite apathy of the ruling classes in the country is surprisingly strong.

David Blacker
2007-05-17 18:40:17

I’ll respond to Comment & Aadhavan in one go.

Comment, I wasn’t trying to be picky about Adams, I just got the impression you thought he was a Provo ally instead of an actual member of the command council. I remember the Real IRA bombing very distinctly because I was in Wales at the time and we were all listening to the report on the bus radio while travelling back to London.

Dunno about McGuiness being good enough for the Brits. He was part of the Provos and on the negotiating team, so they didn’t have much choice. But sending him over was a bit like sending Somawansa to Palestine to help the peace process.

“Well, Australia is less active than the other areas, but we have our share of LTTE supporters and dissenters.”

As I said, I’ve never been to Oz, so I was talking about the European and Canadian diaspora. So I’m not too sure what you mean about my “perception”.

About the American Irish — most financial support for the Provos came from the USA, and that was the support that started to be cut off in the ’90s, partly because the US was cracking down on other terrorist groups, and partly because American Irish began to feel uncomfortable supporting a group that wasn’t too different in its tactics from the ones their country was fighting. The Irish Republic wasn’t funding the Provos very significantly. Even weapons came from the US or the Middle East.

Aadhavan, at no time have I suggested that we must let the Tamils worry about the Tamils while we worry about ourselves. I think you’ve read enough of my posts to understand that. But I DO think that the Tamils can’t expect us to care, if they themselves don’t care enough.

Yes, certain portions of the SL population outside the NE is doing badly too; and that is why whenever I said that the Sinhalese were doing well, I always qualified it by saying it was in relation to the NE and/or other 3rd world countries. But my point was that the south isn’t affected bby the war, or at least not enough to care.

Secondly, the reason for saying that the Tamils must start to act is NOT because I think they are to blame. Certainly the GoSL and the Sinhalese are to blame for the original suffering of the Tamils (that triggered the war), and to a lesser extent for the continued suffering of the Tamils because of the war. However, the LTTE certainly shares at least part (if not most) of the blame for the Tamils present suffering.

Also, Aadhavan, you seem to suggest that I think the diaspora’s influence alone can chaange the atttitude of the LTTE. I never said that. But the fact remains thaat they CAN influence, and that influence will go a long way to directing changing the LTTE, or indirectly (through the IC’s note of Tamil views) forcing them to change. There are many other necessary things that need to happpen too, but as long as the diaspora cheers and pays nothing whatsoever will happen. The South can influence its govt through the vote (if it wants to), but since the Tamils can’t vote in a change in their representatives, how else can they bring about change?

Comment, your optimism about the will of the Tamils is admirable. I do hope it’ll happen fast enough to save the children of the NE.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-17 19:43:14

But what gives you the idea that Tamils do not care David? Tamils outside the NE care about as much or more about their own in the NE that Western Province or affluent Singhalese care about their own in areas that are as bad as the NE. Also, it’s not true that the Singhalese in general are doing well for a 3rd world community. The whole country, other than the Western Province bubble is not looking good. Just because the Singhalese don’t vote for the war doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect them. The economy is a product of the war and that’s what the voters in the south are voting on. Surprise, surprise.

What would you have the diaspora do? Contrary to public opinion, the LTTE does not rely on the diaspora for ideas nor does the diaspora influence the LTTE’s perception of events. The LTTE just uses the diaspora and is deeply suspicious of those who speak from their comforts abroad. For instance, when they were drawing up the ISGA, they declined to use the help of some very eminent international lawyers and retained the Bala, Rudrakumaran, Sornarajah(who is of course very very eminent) combination. Of course, the diaspora can just stop the support, or impose conditions, but I think I’ve told you why it’s unlikely that’s even going to be considered with successive government’s penchant(witha few exceptiions) for trampling over the Tamils in the NE, albeit in a war context.

 
comment
2007-05-18 07:01:24

David,

Firstly, since you appear to want to focus on the diaspora:
Regarding Aadhavan’s reference to the LTTE rejecting help with negotiations, yes, I am also aware of people in Australia who offered their services and were rejected.

Not sure if you are even half serious about this one:
DB:” Even weapons came from the US or the Middle East.”
Thats like saying Malaysian Chinese wear clothes from China because they are funded by the Chinese.

Finally for what its worth, this might provide some insight into the influence of the diaspora:
“There is an issue to do with the diaspora which is also comparable to the Northern Ireland situation. We have talked about what happened in our case. One of the key reasons why the Northern Ireland process was successful was that the attitude of the Irish diaspora—in Australia and other countries to an extent, but most importantly in the United States—changed towards what should happen in Ireland. Nowadays, almost everybody in the USA—such as Irish-American politicians and business people—has signed up to the Good Friday agreement. If we can get the Sri Lankan diaspora across the world to have a similar frame of mind—if they begin to think that they can sign up to a process and then help the people of Sri Lanka economically and commercially—that will be a considerable improvement. However, that cannot happen unless there is a proper ceasefire.” (my emphasis)
Paul Murphy (Torfaen, Labour)
Hansard House of Commons debate: 2 May 2007 : Column 1565

Moving on

DB:
“Dunno about McGuiness being good enough for the Brits. He was part of the Provos and on the negotiating team, so they didn’t have much choice. But sending him over was a bit like sending Somawansa to Palestine to help the peace process.”

Analogy a bit simplistic, and I honestly don’t think its worth going into this because you appear to want to cling to this idea….but basic common sense dictates that if the Sri Lankan government was sincere they would have requested an alternative or nutted out who they wanted. I don’t need to go into the number of unrepentent, unreformed criminals in the Sri Lankan government and parliment itself.

I must admit after the last couple of comments, especially regarding the success of the Sri Lankan army and the relative prosperity of the South, I started taking this far less seriously (h0pe all those other Tamils who loose their shirt will too!). Also noticed the other day similar questions have been asked in this blog. I have to say, you are lucky that Aadhavan is so patient and almost indulgent! I’ve been living in Australia too long. Things need to move away from one track.

DB: “Comment, your optimism about the will of the Tamils is admirable. I do hope it’ll happen fast enough to save the children of the NE”

Thanks. Well my feet are firmly planted on the ground, don’t think there is a gigantic ray of light streaming from Prabaharan’s, the ghost of Kadirgamar’s or the Sri Lankan Cricket Team’s rear end…so its based on concrete evidence. Relative to other Sri Lankan communities, the Tamils appear to have a healthy mix of pragmatism and idealism and a tremendous capacity to organise and adapt in the face of adversity. Regarding your statement expressing concern about saving the children in the NE, Tamils would say, it is like a Fox shedding tears when a mother cries out for it’s calf.

David Blacker
2007-05-18 11:34:32

Aadhavan: “Also, it’s not true that the Singhalese in general are doing well for a 3rd world community. The whole country, other than the Western Province bubble is not looking good.”

In comparison to whom?

“Firstly, since you appear to want to focus on the diaspora:”

If you recall, my original question was specific to the diaspora (as opposed to the war in general, which has been debated ad nauseum), so yes, I think I am attempting to stay focused on the topic of my question.

“Not sure if you are even half serious about this one:
DB:” Even weapons came from the US or the Middle East.”
Thats like saying Malaysian Chinese wear clothes from China because they are funded by the Chinese.”

Don’t be silly, Comment. You know very well what the context of my statement was. You implied that support in the US didn’t matter because the Irish Republic was next door. I pointed out the fact that weapons were supplied by American Irish groups as well as Libya and the Palestinian terror groups, and not by the Irish Republic.

Paul Murphy’s statement more or less conforms to my view. And we did have a ceasefire; in fact we’ve had many over the years. However, I find it equally unrealistic for the diaspora to wait for a ceasefire before acting, since most of the death and suffering is precisely because there is no ceasefire.

“Analogy a bit simplistic, and I honestly don’t think its worth going into this because you appear to want to cling to this idea…”

I could say the same for you, my friend. It’s hard to see why the GoSL should’ve taken the Irish offer when McGuiness didn’t really put forward any proposals. But you’re right, let’s drop it since it’s irrelevant to the larger discussion.

” don’t need to go into the number of unrepentent, unreformed criminals in the Sri Lankan government and parliment itself.”

Likewise for the LTTE, so what’s your point?

“must admit after the last couple of comments, especially regarding the success of the Sri Lankan army and the relative prosperity of the South, I started taking this far less seriously (h0pe all those other Tamils who loose their shirt will too!). Also noticed the other day similar questions have been asked in this blog. I have to say, you are lucky that Aadhavan is so patient and almost indulgent! I’ve been living in Australia too long. Things need to move away from one track.”

Again, I’m not too sure what you’re on about here. Should I just put it down to your lack of knowledge on SL? I travel regularly around the country (including the NE) and I think I’m pretty clued up on the situ. It’s a pity you’re taking this tack (one which I’ve found is eventually inevitable in this sort of discussion), as I was hoping that this time would prove the exception. Guess it’s always too tempting to say “you’re talking rubbish” rather than address the point.

“so its based on concrete evidence”

I’m happy to hear it. This is what I was hoping for — some evidence that the Tamils can influence events rather than leaving it to the LTTE. Care to share this evidence with me too?

“regarding your statement expressing concern about saving the children in the NE, Tamils would say, it is like a Fox shedding tears when a mother cries out for it’s calf.”

Again, it’s a pity that you seem to feel the need to get personal and offensive. You know nothing about me and I know even less about you, so is there any point in taking the route of personal attack?

 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-18 14:40:32

DB
The country is not doing well in relation to where it looked like it will be before the war started. That’s obvious. It’s not doing well in relation to its potential for development- corruption and all notwithstanding. It’s not doing well in relation to its neighbours who were lagging far behind in economic and social indices, but are closing the gap. The rest of the country is doing better than the NE (surprise surprise) but parts of the South are as bad if not worse than the NE. 40000 kid prostitutes in just one Province, virtually 1 million women exported for slave like labour and a rapidly depreciating currency with sky high inflation. If the South were in some zero sum game with the NE then it’s winning by a small margin. If not, its awful and its not looking good. If all the South wants to be is one up on the NE Tamils, then they’re doing a moderate job while the rest of the world whizzes past and while rich diaspora Tamils who almost outnumber NE Tamils have a better standard of living than even rich Sri Lankans.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-18 14:43:33

In any case, what virtue is there is being reasonably placed among the 3rd world states when the third world consists of countries that are pretty bad shape? Doesn’t take much to be ahead of sub Saharan Africa.

David Blacker
2007-05-18 16:22:27

Aadhavan, try and take what I say in context. Of course the country isn’t as well off as it could’ve been without the war. Yes, arguably we aren’t doing as well as SOME 3rd world countries (though we’re doing pretty OK in comparison to the rest of the subcontinent). When I said Sinhalese are doing well, I said it in comparison to the NE Tamils, and I meant it in the context that there’s not enough incentive for the Sinhalese to actively protest the war. However, the NE Tamils are doing terribly, no matter who you compare them to. Therefore the Tamils have more reason to look for alternatives.

The things you point out like child prostitution,, inflation etc are worrying, but no more than in many other Asiaan nations. They must be addressed and sorted out (if possible). None of this changes my original point — that the NE Tamils have more to lose under the status quo. Lots more.

 
 
comment
2007-05-18 16:42:53

Ok lets look at this broadly:

*You first asked me what Tamils think and I thought I made my point there is no quantifiable survey on what they think. Could only give you vague and inadequate answers about personal experiences. Also made it clear in the context of the Diaspora there appears to be a greater diversity of voices. Even within Sri Lanka there is a greater diversity of voices in the Tamil community:

-Publications in the North/East
-International Publications
-Human Rights Organisations
-Political groups
-Voices silenced by opposing groups

I cannot see how much more explicit one can get. Probably an improvement on it would be to provide an actual list of examples. Your statements implied that you had a great deal of experience and exposure to the issues related to the North/East, so I assumed you would be well briefed about this and didn’t think it was necessary to provide examples.

*You kept focusing on the diaspora, I assumed that had moved on. Especially as I had already infered, probably not clearly enough, that the dialectic should move away from the usual. The debate about funding from the diaspora has been going on for years, so for me it was old news, and I thought it would be the same for others. I made statements for a need to look at other countries, experiences etc. but obviously wasn’t clear. Also what the people in the South are doing. Therefore at that time I thought it was strange that you appeared insistent on sticking to this track.

*From the wording at some places in your comments it came across to me that this was not being taken overly seriously which is was fair enough, considering that it is a just a blog, plus you said you had a fair bit of exposure to views and situations overseas and in the North/East. So I assumed a discussion with me was not of particular importance, so I must admit I stopped making an effort. Sorry.

*Final statement is not about who you are. It is based on the wording of your statements, and I would have made the same conclusion about anyone who was anonymous.
Maybe I should be clear. You may think this is a value judgement, but I feel that it is inappropriate, considering the reality of the situation of for example children dying in the north and East to speak about it in a careless way. It may not be important to you, but for some of us these are real people. This might just be a blog, and we are not caught up in this directly, but I feel that it was inappropriately phrased. I would have said the same in a private discussion, even without knowing who you are.

For dialogue like this to happen one has to learn to try and listen and tune in and adapt to the psyche of those who are from the opposing side. One can’t blame Tamils like Jeya etc. for reacting in an “extreme” way when people don’t make an effort to try and tune in to what they are thinking or feeling.

However, if you still feel that the judgement I made at the end was unfair, you don’t need to explain…let me know…and I will take it back. And I don’t mean it in a patronising way, I mean it sincerely.

P. S. The Sri Lankan bit…was a bit of a generalisation but I have noticed that Sri Lankans I’ve known and met tend to be more patient, forbearing etc. …. people from the Oz and some other countries tend to want to cut to the chase and fix things quickly. So it was not an insult.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-18 16:43:17

Like I said, if the Sinhalese of the entire country are in a zero sum game with the NE Tamils they are doing marginally better. But these ‘I have a better life than you’ games don’t work when the whole ship is sinking. I mean if you look at the SL or Ceylon Tamils v Sinhalese and factor in both diaspora communities, Tamils in general are better off than the Sinhalese. The point is that the poorest of the Tamils are not doing well, neither are the poor Sinhalese. If we care, there’s a collective responsibility.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-18 17:23:42

Just re read your comment. You said that NE TAMILS are in bad shape and therefore TAMILS(generally) have more reason to look for alternatives. By the same logic, couldn’t we say that the MONARAGALA SINHALESE and the HAMBANTOTA SINHALESE + child prostitutes, Middle East maids are in bad shape, as bad as the NE TAMILS, so the SINHALESE(generally) have as much reason to look for alternatives.

 
comment
2007-05-18 18:11:21

Actually, I heard the rupee went up alot last week?

Apparently if you go to the supermarkets now, sausages and bacon can be bought quite cheap because there is a drop of tourists who buy these products. Especially after the attacks on Colombo.

Going to another area, don’t know how voting works in Sri Lanka,

But I never go with one party. We have two houses here: an upper house and a lower house.

Lower house is the house of representatives (includes the Prime minister and cabinet ministers), so I vote for one of the main parties.

Then the upper house I vote for an independent or another smaller party because they help to keep a balance and can veto bills if the government gets overly confident and tries to pass something through without thorough consultation and debate etc.

Can one do something like that in Sri Lanka?

comment
2007-05-18 18:16:25

wasn’t going to post this! This is something old and I hit the key.

comment
2007-05-18 18:26:38

please ignore or remove. This is going off topic. Sorry.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
comment
2007-05-18 18:14:40

oops…sorry…wasn’t going to post this.

 
David Blacker
2007-05-19 11:50:49

Comment, I still don’t understand why you’re getting all huffy about this. For me, in this discussion, the topic was the diaspora. We can talk about all the other aspects of the war if you like, but we’ve been doing that for over a year on this blog. I asked you for an opinion and engaged in it to (hopefully) learn more about diaspora attitudes. I was hoping for answers from others too, and not just one guy in Australia. Since, as you said “there is no quantifiable survey on what they think”, I then based my view on what they are doing rather than what they are thinking. However, you somehow expect me to accept your point without further discussion, and seem to be annoyed when I point out alternate arguments. I am quite aware of the publications & organisations among the Tamil community, but my interest (at the moment) is on diaspora influence on the war in general, but specifically on the LTTE. I thought I’d made that clear at the beginning.

The reason I mentioned funding, was because I see that as clear area in which the diaspora influences the LTTE and contributes to the violence, and therefore obviously is an avenue through which an alternate stance can be pushed. Do you feel that there’s no significant funding from the diaspora and that the 30% figure is just nonsense?

“Final statement is not about who you are. It is based on the wording of your statement”

Well, if I wasn’t bothered about what’s happening in the NE, why would I even be asking these questions? You have somehow assumed thaat I don’t care, and I find it hard to understand how came up with this assumption.

“Maybe I should be clear. You may think this is a value judgement, but I feel that it is inappropriate, considering the reality of the situation of for example children dying in the north and East to speak about it in a careless way. It may not be important to you, but for some of us these are real people. This might just be a blog, and we are not caught up in this directly, but I feel that it was inappropriately phrased. I would have said the same in a private discussion, even without knowing who you are”

Again, even if I was to simply ignore the rather pompous and preachy tone of this statement, I don’t know how you deduce that I feel it’s unimportant or that I’ve spoken about it in a careless way.

“One can’t blame Tamils like Jeya etc. for reacting in an “extreme” way when people don’t make an effort to try and tune in to what they are thinking or feeling”

I’m afraid I can blame them when I see no attempt on their part to have ANY meaningful dialogue on the subject. It’s a bit hard to “tune in to what they are thinking or feeling” when most of their comments are in the line of “Prabha is god” or “yay, we killed ten Sinhalese today”. Any meaningful discussion by the more moderate posters is shot up by people coming in and saying “y’all are all bastards, and we’re gonna fight to the death”.

“Like I said, if the Sinhalese of the entire country are in a zero sum game with the NE Tamils they are doing marginally better”

Aadhavan, have you visited the NE this year? The average Sinhalese is doing MUCH much better than the average NE Tamil. I can’t imagine you expect people to believe such an absurd statement. Literacy, health, shelter, and general quality of life amongst the NE Tamils doesn’t come anywhere close to the rest of the population. Possibly the diaspora isn’t acting because of ignorant statements like this (or downright lies by people with vested interests). You’re right that the poorest Sinhalese are doing badly, but almost ALL the NE Tamils are doing as badly as the poorest Sinhalese.

“Just re read your comment. You said that NE TAMILS are in bad shape and therefore TAMILS(generally) have more reason to look for alternatives. By the same logic, couldn’t we say that the MONARAGALA SINHALESE and the HAMBANTOTA SINHALESE + child prostitutes, Middle East maids are in bad shape, as bad as the NE TAMILS, so the SINHALESE(generally) have as much reason to look for alternatives.”

Of course the Sinhalese (and the rest of us) generally have every reason to improve things in the country as a whole, and I think those efforts are being made. How does that change the need for Tamils outside the NE to try and improve things for the NE Tamils? You seem to give the impression that the NE Tamils are fairly OK (since you suggest that they’re only marginally worse off than poor Sinhalese), and this is a false impression.

comment
2007-05-19 15:19:27

Ok DB. thats fine. As I said, I don’t expect any explanation. Your words to me came across that you don’t. But words are limited, and I don’t know you at all except for 2-3 facts from reading through these coments. So now you have stated you care, I have to accept that.

Moving on:
Evidently, we need to figure out who is talking about what. Both appear to be on different tracks.

I was unclear as to what you were driving at earlier, so let me read through your last comment and see how I can answer it.

Ok. My opinion is that 30% appears to be a favourite number. For instance, the Sri Lankan government using Palitha Kohona, has said that 30% of the 30% (ie Diaspora funding) comes from Australia. At a recent Australian Tamil community gathering to debrief people about the recent developments (arrests of the two men), somone pointed out that the S.L. government (via Kohona) stated to the Australian press in January that it was 15% and then after the spate of arrests which co-incided with his next visit he stated to the media that it was 30%. Why did it increase? The Sri Lankan government needs to be explain where they get their figures from. Thats what I would expect from my government in Australia. Would be interested to know how they arrived at this figure and is it quantifiable.

Both Adhavan and I have specified to you that the LTTE has been approached by the Diaspora to assist in the peace talks after Balasingham died, but the help was rejected.

If a person from the Diaspora criticises the LTTE, in my opinion, there is a counter argument that we in the comfort of an economically, politically and socially stable environment are not in a position to criticise the LTTE who are protecting a people who are under siege.

Finally, I felt that this point made by a British MP, Murphy, regarding gaining the support from the Irish Diaspora, which I will include here again for your convenience, is a useful guide:

“There is an issue to do with the diaspora which is also comparable to the Northern Ireland situation. We have talked about what happened in our case. One of the key reasons why the Northern Ireland process was successful was that the attitude of the Irish diaspora—in Australia and other countries to an extent, but most importantly in the United States—changed towards what should happen in Ireland. Nowadays, almost everybody in the USA—such as Irish-American politicians and business people—has signed up to the Good Friday agreement. If we can get the Sri Lankan diaspora across the world to have a similar frame of mind—if they begin to think that they can sign up to a process and then help the people of Sri Lanka economically and commercially—that will be a considerable improvement. However, that cannot happen unless there is a proper ceasefire.” (my emphasis)
Paul Murphy (Torfaen, Labour)
Hansard House of Commons debate: 2 May 2007 : Column 1565

The Sri Lankan government needs to win over the Diaspora. In my opinion, the recent arrests in Australia are actually resulting in more mistrust towards the Sri Lankan government from the Australian Tamil community and making them more aware about events in Sri Lanka so it is really having the opposite effect.

Going off the topic a bit:
I also found out reading through these proceedings, contrary to comments posted up by both you and I, that Paul Murphy was invited by the Rajapakse government in November 2006 to share experiences about the Northern Ireland peace process. Also heard that the Sri Lankan parlimentarians are huffed up about “colonial” interference with respect to withdrawal of funds by the British, probably after these proceedings in the house of commons. Rajapakse’s government appeared mute on the fact that they facilitated the visits of these parlimentarians last November.

Hope that anwers at least part of your question.

David Blacker
2007-05-21 10:01:18

“Ok. My opinion is that 30% appears to be a favourite number. For instance, the Sri Lankan government using Palitha Kohona, has said that 30% of the 30% (ie Diaspora funding) comes from Australia”

I think I wasn’t clear in this. The rough 30% I quoted wasn’t for Australia. The ENTIRE diaspora contribution to the LTTE warchest is roughly 30% of the total annual income . No idea about Kohona’s figures. So I think 30% is a good bargaining chip. I did have a source for this figure, but I can’t find it right now. Will post it when I do.

“Both Adhavan and I have specified to you that the LTTE has been approached by the Diaspora to assist in the peace talks after Balasingham died, but the help was rejected.”

I think more needs to be done than just an offer of assistance.

“If a person from the Diaspora criticises the LTTE, in my opinion, there is a counter argument that we in the comfort of an economically, politically and socially stable environment are not in a position to criticise the LTTE who are protecting a people who are under siege.”

Yes, of course I understand that the LTTE will be resistant to any attempt to coerce them, just as the GoSL is to attempts. But don’t you think an active atttempt should be made to influence the LTTE’s behaviour, or do you think their doing mostly OK right now?

“Finally, I felt that this point made by a British MP, Murphy, regarding gaining the support from the Irish Diaspora, which I will include here again for your convenience, is a useful guide:”

Yeah, I read it the first time and responded to it.

“The Sri Lankan government needs to win over the Diaspora. In my opinion, the recent arrests in Australia are actually resulting in more mistrust towards the Sri Lankan government from the Australian Tamil community and making them more aware about events in Sri Lanka so it is really having the opposite effect.”

Well, those arrests were carried out by the Australian govt not the GoSL. But if you take that line, ANY attempt to curtail LTTE activity overseas will create mistrust — you can’t help that, there’ll always be fallout. For decades there’s been no attempt by foreign govts to stop LTTE taxation and other activities, and during that time we’ve seen no change in diaspora attitudes. So what has the GoSL got to lose?

“I also found out reading through these proceedings, contrary to comments posted up by both you and I, that Paul Murphy was invited by the Rajapakse government in November 2006″

Well that’s a much better option than Martin McGuiness!

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comment
2007-05-24 08:49:50

DB:”Paul Murphy’s statement more or less conforms to my view. And we did have a ceasefire; in fact we’ve had many over the years. ”

David Blacker,

This was your reply. I disagree with this. You need to note that Paul Murphy used the adjective “proper” ceasefire.

I am not an expert, and it is best to look into this in more detail and discuss this with experts. My understanding is that the implementaion of ceasefires in the past has not been carried out adequately.

David Blacker
2007-05-24 10:13:18

“My understanding is that the implementaion of ceasefires in the past has not been carried out adequately.”

Well, previous ceasefires (before the more formal CFA) were mostly caarried out adequately. For example, the ’87-’90 ceasefire which was a result of the Indo-SL Accord was mostly successful as far as the GoSL was concerned, if you don’t count the fighting between the latter and the TNA shortly after the IPKF left. I’m not saying that previous ceasefires were perfect, but they were way better policed than the CFA.

That notwithstanding, I still agree with Murphy’s statement in principle. However, if there’s to be another ceasefire, the LTTE has to change it’s attitude.

 
 
 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-19 15:43:08

Blacker, you’re not answering my questions.

The Sinhalese are doing well only if they are in a zero sum game with the NE Tamils specifically. Is this what they want?

If the zero sum game were to be between the Tamils and the Sinhalese generally, who do you think is winning? Or is it a draw?

Also, what do the Tamils abroad need to do? A clear plan please?

Why aren’t you as bothered about the 40,000 child prostitutes and the poverty in parts of the country?

“Aadhavan, have you visited the NE this year?”

Yes I have. Members of my family also travel quite often to the NorthEast. I have family there and am quite aware of the situ there. Do not mistake me. It is really really bad. But I’ve also visited Monaragala, the area surrounding Bandarawela and the deep south and the poverty there is also pretty pretty bad. The average quality of life of the rest of the country is better than the NE because the Western Province is fucking amazing compared to the rest of the country and quite a few people live in the WP. You compare Monaragala and the NE and there’s not much in it. That’s not to say the NE Tamils are doing alright, of course. It’s a shit hole.

“Possibly the diaspora isn’t acting because of ignorant statements like this (or downright lies by people with vested interests).”

Perhaps if you laid out what the diaspora should do, it would be useful. They send a hell of a lot of money to people here. And before you say that it’s all for the LTTE, most of this money is sent straight to bank accounts here. There are an entire class of people who are being sustained on Euros, Pounds and Dollars.

“You seem to give the impression that the NE Tamils are fairly OK (since you suggest that they’re only marginally worse off than poor Sinhalese), and this is a false impression.”

Your logic is faulty. The NE Tamils are not ok. Neither are the poor Sinhalese. In fact it’s you giving the impression that the poor Sinhalese are ok in suggesting that my comparison of poor Sinhalese and poor Tamils somehow meant that Tamils in the NE were OK. If both are not ok, both groups have to look for a solution with equal urgency. That they are not is not an indication that they do not need to.

But if Sinhalese and Burghers give a toss about those poor Sinhalese kid prostitutes or the people living in abject poverty in Monaragala and Hambantota, they will feel the need to address the war situation as urgently as you suggest the Tamils should.

David Blacker
2007-05-21 10:32:11

“The Sinhalese are doing well only if they are in a zero sum game with the NE Tamils specifically. Is this what they want?”

Actually, it’s you who’s not answering, Aadhavan. The above is merely your opinion. I asked you who you’re comparing the Sinhalese to when you say they’re doing badly for a 3rd world nation, and you’ve ignored that.

“If the zero sum game were to be between the Tamils and the Sinhalese generally, who do you think is winning?”

Oh, I think (on average) the Sinhalese are doing much better, so if you wanna call that “winning”, then go for it.

“Also, what do the Tamils abroad need to do? A clear plan please?”

I don’t know, actually; which is why I started off on asking these questions both here and on DBS Jeyaraj’s site. I do feel that the diaspora is an avenue not being explored enough. However, both you & Comment seem to think their influence is minimal, which I think is a cop-out.

“Why aren’t you as bothered about the 40,000 child prostitutes and the poverty in parts of the country?”

Oh I am. I’m also worried about traffic congestion, corruption, pollution, famine, nuclear energy, HIV AIDS, spam mail, global warming, and so many other things. Do you want me to discuss them ALL right now rather than talking about the NE? At the moment, in this thread, I’m taalking about the NE Tamil civilians and what the diaspora can do to change this descent.

“You compare Monaragala and the NE and there’s not much in it.”

I’m sure you can find places in the US and Europe where people are in as bad a state as the NE Tamils, but that doesn’t mean Americans or Europeans are as badly off as the NE Tamils. Try and maintain some context, Aadhavan. You’re disappointing me.

“If both are not ok, both groups have to look for a solution with equal urgency.”

Of course they do, and I never said they shouldn’t. But I see little sense in you pointing to Monaragala every time the NE Tamils are mentioned. There are many things wrong with SL and we should try and right them, but saying let’s not bother with x because y is just as important is downright dumb. Far more people in the NE can be immediately saved with some intervention.

“But if Sinhalese and Burghers give a toss about those poor Sinhalese kid prostitutes or the people living in abject poverty in Monaragala and Hambantota, they will feel the need to address the war situation as urgently as you suggest the Tamils should”

Rather a cheap dig at the Burghers, my friend; most disappointing. Actually, there are quite a lot of Burgher families in refugee camps after the tsunami, who could be rehabilitated if the fighting ceased. A lot of the Burgher dispora (as well as organisations in Colombo like the DBU) are helping them. However, we have no influence over the LTTE. You and Comment do.

General poverty is something the 3rd world faces and must be addressed. This isnt an excuse for not trying to change the LTTE. It’s like saying lets not try and find a vaccine for AIDS until we cure cancer.

Dumb, Aadhavan. Really dumb.

comment
2007-05-21 17:27:24

DB:
Rather a cheap dig at the Burghers, my friend; most disappointing.

Ooooh Aadhavan how could you! :-)

DB:
“However, we have no influence over the LTTE. You and Comment do.”

Ok Aadhavan, lets call both call Prabha now and tell him David Blacker asked us to ask him to stop the war.

Blacker….do you have his contact details? Or his email address? Maybe he has a blog.

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aadhavan
2007-05-21 19:26:14

:-) Ya, “see the irony is what they need to do is to get Aadhavan and Comment to get Prabha to stop doing this shit and its over”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMmtOfBcJ4A

 
 
 
 
comment
2007-05-19 15:44:08

DB:
“Of course the Sinhalese (and the rest of us) generally have every reason to improve things in the country as a whole, and I think those efforts are being made. ”

The accidental post I made above is relevant. Inflation has gone up in the last few weeks. Since the war started inflation has gone up. I was told in the late 70s or at least just before Black July the rupee was about 30p (British). Which clearly illustrates the negative effect of the war going on for decades in this country.

After the air attacks by the Tamil Tigers, tourism has dropped dramatically. In Australia actually even in January, the Foreign office has a briefing on abductions and disappearances in the South and
“have placed the whole island on the second-highest alert level, citing “ongoing civil unrest, the volatile security situation and the very high risk of terrorist attacks”.
http://travel.independent.co.uk/asia/article2126527.ece

One of the largest investors in Sri lanka are the Australians, who are most likely to be expatriates who include the Tamil diaspora.
.

David Blacker
2007-05-21 10:36:28

Sure, mate, I didn’t say there was NO effect on the rest of SL, there is. But that effect is mostly perceived by the urban population. The rural masses aren’t so directly affected. And a lot of the economic probs we’re faacing today is due to mismanagement by the GoSL, and not just because of the war.

But yeah, it does affect the rest of SL, but not so harshly or directly as it does the NE Tamils. The latter quite literally are fearing for their lives, seeing their old people die of exposure, and their kis growing up malnourished, uneducaated, or in uniform. None of that is widespread in the rest of SL. Not even in Monaragala.

comment
2007-05-21 17:18:39

DB:
“But that effect is mostly perceived by the urban population. The rural masses aren’t so directly affected. And a lot of the economic probs we’re faacing today is due to mismanagement by the GoSL, and not just because of the war.”

ohhhhh reaaaaaly? I say men….could you explain how you figured that out? It would be soooopherb if you could back it up with some figures.

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comment
2007-05-21 23:33:36

um…DB…..hope you will be able to explain this some time.

David Blacker
2007-05-22 10:05:38

Er… You want me to EXPLAIN to you how corrupt and inefficient the GoSL is in managing the economy and generally governing the country???? Why don’t you just get hold of some SL newspapers and have a read — they’ll do a far better job than I could. At the moment, the ONLY thing the GoSL seems to be good at is war.

 
comment
2007-05-22 17:59:40

Sri Lankan newspapers don’t provide much hard data. Been looking at them. We get them here.

What makes you think the economy of the country is not affected by mismanagement of the war?

The same government was handling the economy before the war started and after the war started….what caused the rupee to plummet?

 
comment
2007-05-23 13:37:01

David Blacker…you never answered this either. Why?

 
David Blacker
2007-05-23 15:19:24

I didn’t see it til just now.

“What makes you think the economy of the country is not affected by mismanagement of the war?”

What makes you think I think it isn’t? To repeat myself: ““But that effect is mostly perceived by the urban population. The rural masses aren’t so directly affected. And a lot of the economic probs we’re facing today is due to mismanagement by the GoSL, and not just because of the war.”

“The same government was handling the economy before the war started and after the war started”

By “before the war”, do you mean before the ’80s, or during the CFA?

 
comment
2007-05-24 04:14:21

Before the 80s. or even just before 1983. I was told just before, the rupee was still strong. Since then it has never gone back even close to the original.

 
David Blacker
2007-05-24 10:31:10

Well, long-term, the war certainly has affected the economy, and that probably is one of the main reasons for the drop in the economy. However, there have been lots of really bad short-term policies by politicians, coupled with a civil service that is restructured after every election. The whole political system has got really rotten.

A good example is the big hydro-cachment projects undertaken by the UNP in the ’70s and ’80s. There’s no way anything approaching that scale could be done today, given the corruption and ineptitude of the system.

Just to contextualise my comment about war vs mismanagement, what I meaant about war not having an effect is that the common rural Sri Lankan is not affected by war on a day-to-daay basis, nor is he even confronted by the reality of it. Yes, he sees the COL increasing each day, but he doesn’t connect it necessarily to the war. This is a bit different in Colombo, where we’re confronted by the reality of war every day (checkpoints, armed soldiers everywhere, closed roads, VIP convoys, and the occasional bomb or air attack).

I’ve never really had to explain to someone just how the politicians have fucked up the economy (and the country) since the early ’80s, so I just don’t know how to do so in such a brief format. If I can find an online study of it, I’ll link you to it.

 
 
 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-21 16:34:19

“I asked you who you’re comparing the Sinhalese to when you say they’re doing badly for a 3rd world nation, and you’ve ignored that.”

You’re still ignoring my question. Are the Sinhalese in a zero sum game with the NE Tamils alone. I’m comparing Sri Lanka to countries that were similarly placed to Sri Lanka pre 1970′s. You’d have to include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines. Indo Paks were light years behind and they’re catching up. India is actually miles ahead but due to the poverty its kind of complicated. If you think SL is doing well, we’ll have to agree to disagree because I don’t think that’s an argument worth going into.

“Oh, I think (on average) the Sinhalese are doing much better, so if you wanna call that “winning”, then go for it.”

I don’t know. You factor all the diaspora Tamils in and you’ll have to look at the stats to settle that one but given that Tamils other than those in the NE are doing exceedingly well, and the diaspora is astonishingly successful you might want to look at that one carefully. In some places in the States, especially California, Tamils are one of the most successful expat communities. That’s in one of the most diverse States in the US and the 5th largest economy in the world. Not to brag, but I happened to meet the State Senator from Cali at this Tamil doctors house a few months ago. Again, there’s little point getting into a comparative analysis so if you disagree we’ll leave it at that.

“However, both you & Comment seem to think their influence is minimal, which I think is a cop-out.”

Their influence minimal. Unless they pull the cash plug. But you don’t have any ideas either so saying its a cop out is just assertion without argument. In the absence of a viable alternative, what would you have them do. You don’t know either. I on the other hand, along with a load of Sinhala moderates can spell out exactly what the govt needs to do to end the conflict. Whether the Sinhalese will allow that sort of concession is another question.

I didn’t mean to insult with the Burgher allusion but almost all the Burghers I’ve met in Colombo are more Sinhala in the way they approach the conflict than they are Tamil or completely detached. You have reinforced the stereotype but I heard someone say something about you being half Tamil and half Burgher which means that you have a half stake in ending the Tamil suffering yourself. It may be a mistake, but I mean no disrespect.

“I’m sure you can find places in the US and Europe where people are in as bad a state as the NE Tamils,… ”

I don’t think that’s true.

“Do you want me to discuss them ALL right now rather than talking about the NE? At the moment, in this thread, I’m taalking about the NE Tamil civilians and what the diaspora can do to change this descent.”

Amd I’m talking abt what the Sinhalese can do to solve the same problem that you want to address. You suggested they don’t care. I’m telling you why they should.

“Of course they do, and I never said they shouldn’t. ”

Brilliant. The Tamils and the Sinhalese should approach the problem with equal urgency. I’m happy you agree. Nowhere have I said anything so ridiculous as that the Tamils don’t have to bother. Tamils must worry. My experience is that they do worry and my belief is that the Tamils and the Sinhalese must worry together if the LTTE and the govt are to change.

Finally, I don’t know about comment and I’m sure he’ll speak for himself but I have zero, zilch influence over the LTTE. It’s really funny that you suggest that I have because it kind of shows the lack of political acumen that you come into this debate with. Besides having relatives who constantly piss off the LTTE for trying to preach Christianity to people, the LTTE neither cares nor worries about me or my family. I’m as irrelevant to them as you are.

comment
2007-05-21 18:03:13

Aadhavan

Have you read the British House of Commons proceedings (May 2nd) on Sri Lanka?

Its worth looking at.

aadhavan
2007-05-21 19:18:20

I skimmed over some of the abridged versions of the speeches. I’m a little skeptical of international efforts to help solve the problem. When you realise that little or nothing is being done about Sudan and that nothing was done about Rwanda etc etc you also realise that SL must be nowhere near the radar. I think the High Commissioner for HR is getting a little worried, but another Commission Report or something of the sort will satisfy those types. The UN really doesn’t care, being a club of states of course. I’ll have a look though. Any suggestions on what to look for specifically?

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comment
2007-05-21 19:56:50

Aadhavan,

Its available online. Do a google search I assure you its worth reading.

Ironically because of the Tsunami, Sri Lanka has popped up onto the Radar. People, especially civil society all over the world, opened their hearts and gave so much money so they will put pressure on their government if they see something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

I actually find it bizarre that people who live continents away appear to care more than those living on the same land.

Fortunately the government and even the LTTE is dependent on International opinion. The Government is dependent on international Tsunami funds for Mahinda to keep up his lavish lifestyle and bomb those children in the North and East with toys they buy with the money.

Our government pleaded with the australian cricketers not to Zimbabwe, and paid the fine that was imposed on the cricketers for cancelling the matches. Mugabe was frothing mad. He said they were “violating their human rights to play cricket”.

So people care.

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comment
2007-05-21 20:37:08

“Any suggestions on what to look for specifically?”

Well, David’s questions :-) made me look up Northern Ireland and I found some of the stuff in the debate very useful as well.

Re: Northern Ireland a list of statements taken from the joint declaration of peace made by the British Government and Irish government provides some background to the debate:

* The British government had no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland.
* The British government would uphold the right of the people of Northern Ireland to decide between the Union with Great Britain or a united Ireland.
* The British and Irish governments would work for an agreement among all the people of Ireland, embracing “the totality of relationships”.[1]
* The Irish government recognised that “Irish self-determination” (meaning, in this context, a United Ireland) required the agreement and consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland. Also, for the first time, a consent of the majority of the people of the Republic of Ireland would be necessarry for reunification, giving the South a say in the reunification process.
* The Irish government would try to address unionist fears of a united Ireland.
* A united Ireland could only be brought about by persuasion.
* Peace must involve a permanent end to the use of, or support for, paramilitary violence.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_Ireland_peace_process

Going back to the debate: overall the tone of the debate is one of interest and genuine concern.

David Blacker
2007-05-21 21:56:57

Unlike the one on this blog it seems.

 
 
 
 
David Blacker
2007-05-21 20:01:49

“You’re still ignoring my question”

I asked first, Aadhavan.

“I’m comparing Sri Lanka to countries that were similarly placed to Sri Lanka pre 1970’s. You’d have to include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines.”

I’m sure you are. And no I don’t think the south is in a zero sum game with the NE. However, I never said that southern SL was the best place in the 3rd world to live, so I wonder why you’re trying to change the subject by asking me to defend something I never said. What I said was that southern SL is doing OK for a 3rd world country. Sure, we’re behind Singapore, etc, but we’re way aheaad of the subcontinent, most of Africa, and even Indo-China. That looks like OK to me.

“I don’t know. You factor all the diaspora Tamils in and you’ll have to look at the stats to settle that one but given that Tamils other than those in the NE are doing exceedingly well, and the diaspora is astonishingly successful you might want to look at that one carefully.”

Er… I’m talking about SL and the people living in it, not the diaspora. If you wanna go down that route then you’ll have to factor in all the Sinhalese in the UK and Europe, all the Sinhalese holding down good jobs in the Middle East (not the housemaids), and add all the burghers down in Oz. You seem to waant to discuss everything on earth but the NE Tamils. Guilt, my friend?

“Their influence minimal. Unless they pull the cash plug”

OK, you don’t think mass protests against the Tigers (similar to the ones agaainst the GoSL) by Tamils in Canada, London, and Norway will have any influence? Do you think there’s no use in Tamils lobbying bodies like the UN and the EU? Do you think that there’s nothing the diaspora can do but shrug, say “what to do” and throw more money at the Tigers?

“But you don’t have any ideas either so saying its a cop out is just assertion without argument.”

It’s just because I don’t have any concrete ideas thaat I’m asking you guys. You’re both Tamil, (seemingly) intelligent, and at least one of you iss part of the diaspora. You both, however, seem to think this is some ssort of debate or argument you’re duty-bound to win, rather than a quest for answers. You seem to be happy to say “sorry, can’t help”. That’s why I think you’re copping out.

“I on the other hand, along with a load of Sinhala moderates can spell out exactly what the govt needs to do to end the conflict. ”

Yes, I know, but as I’ve already said, it’s unlikely the GoSL will make concessions or reduce the militaary pressure when they’re cleaarly winning. You’ll have to waait til either the victories slow down, or there’s some sort of stalemate once more. Can the NE Tamils afford to wait that long, though? The LTTE on the other hand are ripe for influencing. Besides, we all know, it’s no use pressing one side but not the other. And as far as I know, there’s been very little attempt at pressure on the LTTE by the diaspora in the last decade.

“I didn’t mean to insult with the Burgher allusion but almost all the Burghers I’ve met in Colombo are more Sinhala in the way they approach the conflict than they are Tamil or completely detached.”

If Burghers are seemingly detached, it’s because we are a very pragmatic and hard-nosed people. We (I don’t mean me) don’t necessarily sympathise with the Tamil cause (“we get along with the fucking Sinhalese, why can’t you?”) even if we feel for the Tamil civilians. We’re more likely to feel anti-Tiger because we’ve been at the reciving end of their violence more than the GoSL’s. In the end, most Burghers live in the south (except for the small Batti community), and identify with the south. Yes, I’m Tamil on my mother’s side, but physically and culturally I’m more Burgher than Tamil. However, I narrowly missed moving to Jaffna in the late ’70s, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I had, I’d have gone into the Tigers instead of the Army. It was more or less the same for the Malays & Moors until the LTTE ethnic cleansing began.

““I’m sure you can find places in the US and Europe where people are in as bad a state as the NE Tamils,… ”

I don’t think that’s true.”

Believe me, I’ve seen places in the UK and Europe that you wouldn’t believe. At least as bad as here. My point is that you’ll always find small pockets of rot in even the best places, but you can’t therefore judge the entire country on those pockets. Not all of southern SL is like Monaragala; almost all of the NE is.

“Amd I’m talking abt what the Sinhalese can do to solve the same problem that you want to address. You suggested they don’t care. I’m telling you why they should.”

Yes, I know they should. And I’ve told you why they don’t. What I want to know is why the Tamil diaspora doesn’t care enough to do anything?

“Brilliant. The Tamils and the Sinhalese should approach the problem with equal urgency”

No the NE Tamils fate is far more urgent. Many thousands more have been killed, are being killed, are homeless, sick, hungry. It’s very big-hearted of you to think the Sinhalese need as much attention; I’m sure the GoSL would rather pay that attention to them too.

“My experience is that they do worry”

Is that enough?

“Finally, I don’t know about comment and I’m sure he’ll speak for himself but I have zero, zilch influence over the LTTE. It’s really funny that you suggest that I have because it kind of shows the lack of political acumen that you come into this debate with.”

Actually, what’s would be REALLY funny (if it wasn’t really sad) is that you both thought I meant you as individuals, and not you the influential Tamil community. That’s the irony of it — you are all mostly concerned with the individual “you”.

comment
2007-05-21 21:05:36

David,

What makes you think I for instance am not genuinely concerned about the South? I have ties in both places. I also have people from the Sinhalese and the Burgher community in my extended family. I have family and extremely close non-Tamil family friends who are living in the south. I also have family living in the North and the East. We have to support people in all these areas. The whole country is in a bloody mess, and you can harp on about the LTTE or the JVP, but the root cause is appalling leadership and governance.

Now that I know your background, you of all people should understand how you can be torn apart by whats happening in the whole country.

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David Blacker
2007-05-21 22:02:12

I never said you were unconcerned aabout the south. Frankly I don’t care if you are. What I’m concerned with here are the NE civilians. Both you and Aadhavan seem to be bursting with sympathy for everyone from Monaragala farmers to the Irish, but not it seems with enough interest in the NE to actually discuss if its practical (or even necessary) to try and influence the LTTE.

aadhavan
2007-05-21 22:35:44

Its in limine impossible for Tamils outside the NE to influence the Tigers because they have no influence over the Tigers. That’s why we won’t even consider your call, it flies in the face of reality. Do you have any suggestions though? Besides marching and lobbying for nothing…

 
David Blacker
2007-05-21 22:45:25

I’ve already mentioned that funding’s a good bargaining chip. Guess you missed that in your rush to the pompous button.

Protests, are obviously just the method, not the plan. You can’t protest without a plan. I was hoping y’all had one, beyond praying the Tigers will win of course. :/

 
 
 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-21 21:40:07

I don’t want to contend the point abt SL doing well vis a vis sub Saharan Africa and South Asia, but seriously, you” get laughed off the table if you go telling people that SL is doing better than China and India, without qualifying the comment with some sort of reference to social indicators.

Yes, you factor in every Tamil and every Sinhalese and I don’t think it’s clear the Sinhalese are doing better.

“OK, you don’t think mass protests against the Tigers (similar to the ones agaainst the GoSL) by Tamils in Canada, London, and Norway will have any influence? Do you think there’s no use in Tamils lobbying bodies like the UN and the EU?”

Mass protest just for the sake of walking down a road or mass protests with action? If the action however is to stop the cash flow and effectively deliver a military victory to the SL forces, then no, they wouldn’t do that. Also, the diaspora does lobby govts and transnational orgs. Question is lobby for what? To further isolate the LTTE? To ban the LTTE in countries that haven’t banned the LTTE yet? I think you’ll begin to realise that they can’t do anything other than to weaken the LTTE and make a GoSL militarily imposed solution more likely. No, I don’t think that’s what they want to do and I don’t think you believe in a military solution either, so that proposal is just redundant.

”we get along with the fucking Sinhalese, why can’t you?”

Probably because the Burghers were never a threat. They just left and went to Oz. The others got got absorbed into Sinhala society.

“Not all of southern SL is like Monaragala; almost all of the NE is.”

The problems are different. In Jaffna for instance the economy is not the problem that it is in the South or Monaragala. People had enough to ride the ridiculous prices earlier this year. The problems are security, abductions etc. Education for instance is still fantastic given the conditions in Jaffna. I think Vembadi was in the top ten performers for schools nationally in O Levels results last year. In Monaragala, the security is there. The economy is pathetic.

“it’s unlikely the GoSL will make concessions or reduce the militaary pressure when they’re cleaarly winning.”

That begs the question. The GoSL won’t make the concessions because the Southern electorate prefers war for now. I’m telling you why they shouldn’t.

The question is what do you do? What can Tamils do? You haven’t said anything, besides lobbying the EU and UN and marching down roads!! No indication of what they would want to march or lobby for either! In the meantime, I think Tamils should tr and put pressure on their govts abroad to stop the support and condonation of gosl atrocities, help as many of their friends and relatives in the NE, (to get out if they want to), contribute to organisations that provide relief to Tamils in the NE and pray hard that things will change.

comment
2007-05-21 22:00:50

I am suprised David isn’t aware of tamils already lobbying the EU and UN against the LTTE as well. But in the end, who ever lobbies whom, these days, thanks to the more sophisticated networks of information, it is much more difficult to pull the wool over their eyes. A number of these people in the EU, UN etc are well briefed and have even visited some of these places to take a look themselves at the ground situation. I think they have a better perspective than even we do.

David Blacker
2007-05-21 22:38:20

“I am suprised David isn’t aware of tamils already lobbying the EU and UN against the LTTE as well”

I know people like Anandasangaree have done the above, but is there any sort of lobbying by community groups? I’d be interested if you could tell me about that.

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comment
2007-05-21 23:16:19

You should know, community groups don’t go about lobbying the UN against the Sri Lankan government either. You need someone with some credentials or clout.

 
 
 
David Blacker
2007-05-21 22:36:18

“I don’t want to contend the point abt SL doing well vis a vis sub Saharan Africa and South Asia,”

Yes, please don’t, because while you’ve done your best to try and move this discussion as far away from the NE as you possibly can, I’d like to stay focused on it. I’ll give it a couple more shots, but I suspect you’re not really interested in anyting but killing the debate. I’m puzzled as to why. And more than a little disappointed.

“Yes, you factor in every Tamil and every Sinhalese and I don’t think it’s clear the Sinhalese are doing better.”

Again, are you being intentionally obtuse or do you just read the first line of every paragraph? I’m telling you NOT to factor in Tamils & Sinhalese outside SL, but you base your theory on just that. It’s OK, Aadhavan. If you want to cling to the notion that the NE Tamils aren’t worse off than the Sinhalese, I’ll drop it. I guess the GoSL must be actually killing and displacing only Tigers, and all those thousands of IDPs are just naughty Tiger propoganda. Thanks, man; took a Tamil to clear it up for me.

“Mass protest just for the sake of walking down a road or mass protests with action?”

I doubt anyone walks down the road for the sake of it. But mass protests of some sort would be a start.

“To further isolate the LTTE? To ban the LTTE in countries that haven’t banned the LTTE yet? I think you’ll begin to realise that they can’t do anything other than to weaken the LTTE and make a GoSL militarily imposed solution more likely.”

Why does it have to be the black of absolute support, or the white of being anti-LTTE. Why can’t the threat of cutting off funding, the threat of support for isolation, be used to coerce the Tigers?

“The problems are different.”

Of course it is — there’s a fucking war on, idiot. YOU’re the one who brought up Monaragala, not me. My point is, the people in the NE are worse off than the people outside it. Why are you so resistant to admitting it? I’m not saying it as a put down, but as a basis for asking the diaspora to do something. Your track seems to be it’s not so bad so let’s not hassle the Tigers.

“That begs the question. The GoSL won’t make the concessions because the Southern electorate prefers war for now. I’m telling you why they shouldn’t.”

I already know why they shouldn’t, Aadhavan. That’s my point — the Sinhalese populace (who can influence the GoSL) think the GoSL is doing a fairly good job (now before you start to lecture me again, that is the common view, not mine). So does the diaspora (who can influence the LTTE without fearing for their lives at least) also feel the same in regard to the LTTE?

“The question is what do you do? What can Tamils do? You haven’t said anything, besides lobbying the EU and UN and marching down roads!! No indication of what they would want to march or lobby for either!”

Well that takes me back to my original question — what do the Tamils in general, and the diaspora in particular, think should be done? Is there a plan? Obviously not, it seems, since you’re asking ME to provide one. I was on the lines of needs and desires coming from within the community rather than waaiting for outsiders like me to provide aa plan.

“In the meantime, I think Tamils should tr and put pressure on their govts abroad to stop the support and condonation of gosl atrocities, help as many of their friends and relatives in the NE, (to get out if they want to), contribute to organisations that provide relief to Tamils in the NE and pray hard that things will change.”

OK, good luck with that. One of the definitions of insanity is to do the same thing repeatedly and expect a different result each time. Hasn’t the diaspora been doing this since ’83?

aadhavan
2007-05-21 23:42:30

I think this debate about whether the NE is bad is getting ridiculous. I’ve never said that the NE was not bad, but you try to make it sound like I did. Doesn’t matter, suit yourself. My initial point is that I think it strange that Colombo types try to tell the Tamils they need to do something fast, when its the Sinhalese who can do something, and when plenty of Sinhalese are suffering due to the war and are living in abject poverty. If you don’t think that hypocrisy is strange, let’s agree to disagree.

Secondly, Tamils should and actually do what they can. Look, I’ve debated bargaining chips a lot in policy debates and it’s universally acknowledged that a chip is useless unless you’re willing to use it. You may not know this and you can use your amateurish blog debate strategies but again, you’ll be laughed off the table if you said something like this in a real debate. The diaspora cannot use the chip of funding to coerce the Tigers because the Tigers know the diaspora will never use it, because that would mean a military victory to the GoSL and no single credible Tamil leader wants that. Not even the voices of dissent. So the funding threat doesn’t work, and the diaspora will never use it, unless they want the GoSL to win militarily, in which case their interventions and efforts are not to change the Tigers but to destroy them.

Have you ever been in a situation where you can’t change everything David? The NE Tamils are in that position as are Tamils everywhere. Your quick fix ideas don’t work and however angry you get the reality remains that the Sinhalese are in the best position to effect a change in either of the parties policies. That’s the cost of marginalising the LTTE, calling them terrorists and banning them all over the world. You lose your grip on them. They become self sufficient and then they’re resistant to change. That has happened here. The whole ship is sinking. Some are in first class having the band play to them while it goes down slowly and others are in 3rd class. What does it matter? Everyone’s trying to leave the country. More Sinhalese now than ever before. A majority of the medical, engineering and law undergraduates who I know want to jump the country. That’s the educated elite. Why? The ship is sinking while people like you cheer on and think you’re ok because you’re in first class comfort.

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David Blacker
2007-05-22 10:42:59

“I think this debate about whether the NE is bad is getting ridiculous. I’ve never said that the NE was not bad, but you try to make it sound like I did.”

Well, when I pointed out that the NE was suffering badly compared to the rest of the country (and I think you agree, though you seem to resist saying the words), it was you who started talking about Monaragala, child prostitution, and other things in an effort to shift the conversation away from the problems of the NE. If you agreed that things were really really bad in the NE in the first place, we wouldn’t have waasted all this time arguing about it.

“My initial point is that I think it strange that Colombo types try to tell the Tamils they need to do something fast, when its the Sinhalese who can do something, and when plenty of Sinhalese are suffering due to the war and are living in abject poverty. ”

First of all, the Sinhalese who ARE suffering ‘cos of the war are the ones in the NE or the border areas, and their suffering continued right throughout the CFA, so there’s little incentive there to do anything but beat the Tigers. As for the Sinhalese in poverty, they were in poverty long before the war and will probably remain so even if the war ends, so that’s a differen topic altogether. There are lots of organisations, both local and international that are addressing these areas, but of course more effort must be made. But I don’t think it’s hypocrisy to call on the Tamils to start acting. I’ve already told you that the GoSL isn’t ripe for coercion at the moment because it’s doing well on the battlefield. If and when there’s a change in the military situation, the southerners could push for a change in policy. But I don’t know when that’ll be. If you think the NE Tamils can afford to wait til then, so be it. I feel that til then it’s the turn of the Tamils (led by the diaspora) to try and push the Tigers to change their stance. If you think diaspora funding isn’t a worthwhile route (and I take your point about bluffing), is there nothing else that can be done but praying? It’s all well and good to lobby against the GoSL, but it’s partently obvious that the LTTE is at least half to blame for the failure of the CFA, and the return to violence.

“Have you ever been in a situation where you can’t change everything David”

I’m not saying change everything, just start changing some things.

“That’s the cost of marginalising the LTTE, calling them terrorists and banning them all over the world. You lose your grip on them.”

Well, for years they weren’t banned, and were the darlings of Europe, and nothing changed. I know there isn’t a military solution. but this GoSL is gonna give it a damn good try, and the result is going to put back the Tamil cause by decades, not to mention all the death and suffering.

“Everyone’s trying to leave the country. More Sinhalese now than ever before. A majority of the medical, engineering and law undergraduates who I know want to jump the country.”

Yeah, that happened in the ’80s and ’90s too, but the ship didn’t sink. When things got better in the early part of the century, many returned. I know the brain drain is the favourite symptom people point to when they try to claim the country’s collapsing, but I think SL’s stronger than that.

“The ship is sinking while people like you cheer on and think you’re ok because you’re in first class comfort.”

Well I’m not cheering though I’m sure you’d like to suggest it to gain cheap points in what you see as some sort of dispassionate debate. If I wanted to cheer I wouldn’t be asking these questions, I’d stick to DefenceNet. However, I do think the Tamils should look for alternatives to the LTTE, but if you think otherwise, and suggest that the best option is to do what you’ve been doing since ’83, well so be it.

aadhavan
2007-05-22 15:49:04

Just a logical point Blacker. It was you who said that NE Tamils were doing worse than everyone else in the country. That’s a comparison there. Get it? I didn’t bring in any comparisons and muddy the water with Monaragala, you did. Your statement was a comparison, I just helped you with the details.

I’ll tell you why it’s hypcorisy. The people who tell Tamils thats its only they who can change aren’t really keen on changing the situation in the South themselves. If the call comes from a credible source who I know to be lobbying for a change of mindset in the South, maybe we can listen to what they say. Otherwise, it;s just obvious that its trying to pass the buck and pretend that the South has no responsibility. Second, because those who say something ought to be done, don’t really help with any ideas. The only ideas involve some kind of suicidal(no pun intended) move to weaken your only bargaining chip. Of course those silly ideas are retracted the next day, which kind of shows how silly they are. And those with coming up with the 1 day silly idea have the gumption to call those who feel despondent ‘idiot’.

I’m telling you now. The LTTE are properly independent and isoloated. There’s no one who has any influence over them. They have created the structures in place that sustain themselves even when they have no help. They are not amenable to the influence of the diaspora. If you think I’m wrong, give me a credible reason why and a credible plan as to what can be done. Till then, I will contribute no further on this thread.

 
David Blacker
2007-05-23 15:54:54

“It was you who said that NE Tamils were doing worse than everyone else in the country. That’s a comparison there. Get it? I didn’t bring in any comparisons and muddy the water with Monaragala, you did. Your statement was a comparison, I just helped you with the details.”

First of all, you’re falsifying and twisting statements, as you’ve been doing throughout this thread. This is underrstandable since you (as you’ve just said) don’t waant honest dialogue on this blog, but it’s still intellectual deceit, aand therefore rather disappointing to see in someone who rather pompously calls for credible sources to talk to. I didn’t say that “NE Tamils were doing worse than everyone else in the country”; what I saaid was that the NE was doing worse than the rest of SL — and it is. So yes, I compared the NE to SL — what’s your point? You then brought up the rather absurd example of Monaragala in a futile effort to say that since the latter is in bad shape, the NE can’t be worse off than SL. So yes, you were muddying the water, and still are. The fact thaat we have to argue about who said what instead of discussing the topic is example enough.

“The people who tell Tamils thats its only they who can change aren’t really keen on changing the situation in the South themselves.”

Again, you’ve resorted to misquotes to back up your theory. Whether this is just an inability on your part to focus on a topic, or just outright dishonesty, I can’t as yet say. I never said thaat “only” Tamils need to change things, and I don’t think aanyone else did either. What I did say was that the diaspora Tamils need to take more action.

“f the call comes from a credible source who I know to be lobbying for a change of mindset in the South, maybe we can listen to what they say.”

Since this is a discussion on a (mostly) anonymous blog, you know you’re not gonna find any credible sources. So what was your point in entering this discussion with us “dishonest, hypocritical, and incredible people?

“Otherwise, it;s just obvious that its trying to pass the buck and pretend that the South has no responsibility.”

Actually, I started off by asking some questions. It was you who came on with the know-it-all-but-can’t-help attitude.

“The only ideas involve some kind of suicidal(no pun intended) move to weaken your only bargaining chip.”

Suicidal for whom, Aadhavan — the Tigers? Maybe. The Tamils? I don’t think so. Suicide is to maintain the status quo.

“Of course those silly ideas are retracted the next day, which kind of shows how silly they are.”

As I said, one of us is in a discussion, the other’s on a self-glorifying ego-trip. So if you feel my attempting to understand what’s being said and perhaps changing my mind according to new imput makes my original idea “silly”, too bad. I’m still amused however at your attempts to keep score :)

“’m telling you now. The LTTE are properly independent and isoloated.”

No one’s totally independent or isolated. There are always methods in which influence can be applied, but it has to be found. If you feel it’s no point looking, fine, move on. You don’t have to paarticipate.

“Till then, I will contribute no further on this thread.”

Since you’ve contributed nothing at all, it’s no great loss.

 
 
 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-21 23:44:27

* That should be convince the other side that you’re willing to use it.

Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-22 14:41:18

Aadhavan, you need to stop prancing about and realize one thing: the ‘best way’ to ‘destroy’ the Tamil community is to sit back, grab a bag of popcorn and watch it self destruct from WITHIN.

You and comment can scream at the Sinhalese, the Burghers, the Malays, the Moors, the government and everyone else under the sky, but the truth is that YOUR community is dying and it is dying everyday – no one else has to do anything. If Tamils are too blind to see how their community is falling apart and keep supporting the violence and terror of the Tamil Tigers, perhaps they will begin to see the light when their community has been torn to shreds, pulped and minced into dog food. Muslims will be the largest minority soon, and I think it won’t be long before upcountry Tamils overtake the Sri Lankan Tamils as well.

The Sinhalese, Moors, Burghers, Malays and everyone else can afford to put their feet up, have a cup of tea and watch the evening telly. For the Sri Lankan Tamils in the NE though, it’s a different story. If you don’t want to accept the truth, then don’t.

aadhavan
2007-05-22 15:31:48

I’ve just debated this with Blacker. Tamils are not the only ones who are doing badly. Most Tamils who leave the country are doing flourishingly well and outperform most immigrant communities. In SL, the shit stinks for the Tamils. What would you have me do? Any suggestion while you sip that cup of tea?

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David Blacker
2007-05-22 16:01:33

“I’ve just debated this with Blacker.”

This isn’t a debate, it’s a problem. The thing is you’re more interested in the debate than coming up with a solution. That makes you part of the problem.

“ost Tamils who leave the country are doing flourishingly well ”

Maybe you should get all the Tamils overseas then, Aadhavan, where they can ALL flourish, since you can’t think of a single thing to do to help. Probably the GoSL will help you with that. We’re not talking about Tamils living overseas, Aadhavan. They’re probably quite happy to get fat, put their children through uni and hope they’ll never have to return to the fucked up NE; and thanks to the LTTE, they never will. Meantime, the NE goes down the tube, and the best you can do is scoff at anyone who suggests you should get off your arse and act.

“In SL, the shit stinks for the Tamils. ”

You’ve finally got it. So what’s being done about it?

“Any suggestion while you sip that cup of tea?”

Still waiting for someone to drop a solution in your lap? Why do you want others to provide the solution? In WW2 the Jews waited for others to help, and they did, but it took 6 million deaths til the help came. The Israelis learned the lesson well and they’re not waiting for anyone else to help them. How many lives are you willing to sacrifice — or are you too busy crowing about the diaspora’s success to notice that?

comment
2007-05-22 17:43:28

David,

If you piss Job…sorry…Adhavan off…then seriously…you are losing the plot.

Just out of interest,

1. if its not too personal, what plan have you for yourself.
2. what plan do you propose for someone like

a) Aadhavan
b) Me

Harry Potter…if you like you can put your little ideas in too.

Remember we want concrete ideas.

 
comment
2007-05-22 19:03:26

correction: lost the plot

 
David Blacker
2007-05-22 19:29:05

I think you’re mixing up Job with Nero:)

But seriously, have you guys (especially you, Comment), never really considered what you can do? What I mean is, you seem to want me to put ideas on a blank slate, but there must have been stuff you considered and then rejected (for whatever reason). I’m looking more for a discussion rather than me telling you what to do, ‘cos frankly, if you need me to tell you, then I guess that’s worrying too.

Basicaally, a broad suggestion would be that Tamils in the diaspora need to voice an opinion aalternate to that of the LTTE’s staance. I know guys like DBS Jeyaraj are doing that, and his position I find very heartening, so surely there must be people with similar views. Going from his blog, there are many, and I’m sure they’re representative of more still. Isn’t that enough numbers to generate some ideas?

 
comment
2007-05-22 21:08:26

concrete ideas please. You’ve said this before, and so have I.

Thanks.

 
comment
2007-05-22 21:13:28

You also havn’t answered question 1 (Either of you)

 
David Blacker
2007-05-22 23:03:58

As I said, if you’re willing to engage in some discussion, possibly ssome ideas might be forthcoming. You won’t hear anything new if you sit back and say “give me some ideas and I’ll decide if they’re good enough”.

To your question 1: I don’t want to sound like I have some great plaan to end the war, but I’m involved in a small way in projects which I hope will shorten it. However, I feel that there’ss only so much we can do from this end. There has to be more effort outside SL.

Aadhavan, methinks your fondness for long debate and cheap points have dulled your brain to the fact that there are humans dying while you pretend you can do nothing.

What did you do in the war, Daddy?
I debated, son, I debated and won.
Did you save many people, Daddy.
No, son, but it doesn’t matter, because I won.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-23 00:04:23

Oh trust me, I have engaged in countless hours of discussion, reading and thinking about what I can do make the situation better. In fact, I spent the first few years of my undergrad years doing little else, with colleagues from all over the island and varying political inclinations. That I choose not to engage you when you ask for easy answers and cheap analysis is no indication that I’m not interested. When I meet someone who strikes me as being genuinely concerned, I’m more than willing to engage in honest dialogue and soul searching. I am however skeptical of all efforts by people who suggest that one side has to make the change just because they are suffering. That strikes me as disingenuous and hypocritical and I see little point in engaging those types.

There’s a lot than Tamils and Sinhalese can do together. My hope is that there will be people who are willing to stand in the gap and pull the two communities together. Until that happens, there will be no peace. I hope I’ve shed some light on what Tamils can do.

 
David Blacker
2007-05-23 00:53:44

“Oh trust me, I have engaged in countless hours of discussion, reading and thinking about what I can do make the situation better. ”

OK, I can understand if you’re ready to give up, but if so, you’re not the sort I’m interested in talking to on the subject. I broached this topic (here aand on other sites) with the hope of getting some response from diaspora Tamils, I mostly found Comment’s comments interesting and enlightening. You, however, butted in, and God knows why, ‘cos you don’t seem to have anything worthwhile or constructive to say. If you’re closed to the idea that anything can be done, and you yourself feel helpless, so be it. I can accept that opinion even though I disagree with it. But I really would like to hear what Tamils overseas have to say.

“That I choose not to engage you when you ask for easy answers and cheap analysis is no indication that I’m not interested.”

I never asked you for any answers or cheap analysis, Aadhavan. I’m already aware of your analytical talents.

“When I meet someone who strikes me as being genuinely concerned, I’m more than willing to engage in honest dialogue and soul searching. ”

Do you honestly think you’ll find anything genuine on an anonymous forum? If you’re not interested in honest dialogue, why comment at all? Go chat to Just Mal, he loves your sort of dialogue.

“I am however skeptical of all efforts by people who suggest that one side has to make the change just because they are suffering.”

Ah, those analytical skills you mentioned! Where exactly did I say that one side has to make the change?

“That strikes me as disingenuous and hypocritical and I see little point in engaging those types.”

Oh, goody.

“I hope I’ve shed some light on what Tamils can do.”

Yes, I believe that was “nothing”.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-23 09:01:09

It’s difficult to take lectures from someone about doing something when that persons idea of participation involves a)taking up violence without a cause in the hope of catching some of the action and b)destroying your own bargaining chip. What was that about analytical talents?

 
David Blacker
2007-05-23 15:10:17

Yeah, well I was nineteen at the time. Things change. What’s your excuse?

“taking up violence without a cause”

Yes, Aadhavaan the rather sad analytical talents you’ve just displayed for about the fifth time in this thread. Where did I say I had no cause? I simply didn’t tell you what that cause was; and you assumed (as you usually do) that there was none. If you don’t want a lecture, stay out of class. You still don’t seem to have anything to add to the discussion, but seem intent on butting in anyway. Do you actually have anything you want to say, Aadhavan, or is this just about having the last word?

 
aadhavan
2007-05-23 16:13:08

“For me, it wasn’t about causes, but participation.”

 
David Blacker
2007-05-24 10:39:48

Exactly. I said it wasn’t about causes; that doesn’t mean I had no cause.

 
 
Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-22 20:46:47

Well kudos to the Tamils overseas who are doing “flourishingly well” – if by that you mean gang crime, drug trafficking, prostitution, living off the dole, funding terror organizations, living in ghettos and having special police units to deal with Tamil crime… yes, they most certainly outperform most immigrant communities!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqZlBygiVlg

My suggestion is that other Sri Lankans (like David Blacker for example) should quit wasting their valuable trying to explain things to people like you – Tamils who refuse to believe their community is going down the drain, and prefer to blame every Tom, Dick and Harry for the problems the community is going through. The bottom line is, the LTTE is tearing your community apart and the longer it is around, the sooner the Sri Lankan Tamils are going to disappear into nothingness. If you want to fool yourself into believing that the Tamils are the best-off Sri Lankan community then by all means go ahead and fantasize.

comment
2007-05-22 21:10:28

Harry Potter focus please…Kohedha yanneh….malleh pol

 
 
 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-22 17:35:52

No ideas yet, so nothing to warrant a response. To expect something to be done when no real option exists is folly. Btw, I’ll take no lectures on being part of the problem myself from someone who was willing to kill to enforce the GoSL position on Tamils. Seriously. You can’t really afford to talk.

David Blacker
2007-05-22 19:37:26

“No ideas yet, so nothing to warrant a response”

Hmm, still waiting for the voice of God, Aadhavan?

“To expect something to be done when no real option exists is folly”

Ideas come from hard work, not from sitting back and waiting for someone to do the thinking for you. I can understand if you’re too busy or too numb to bother, but why are you so intent on insisting that there’s ABSOLUTELY NO WAY, and that we should all just focus on doing what we’ve always done, to no result?

“Btw, I’ll take no lectures on being part of the problem myself from someone who was willing to kill to enforce the GoSL position on Tamils.”

Wow, I didn’t think it was possible to do a conclusive analysis of the psychology behind the soldier in one single cliche, but you’ve maanaged that. Did you think it up on your own, or did you wait for someone to come up with it for you? :)

As I said before, my joining the Army was a matter of geography — if I’d grown up in Jaffna (as I almost did) I’d have gone into one of the terrorist groups. For me, it wasn’t about causes, but participation.

aadhavan
2007-05-22 20:51:35

Perhaps your penchant for simple answers and mindless, causeless participation dulls your mind to the reality that participation must be calculated to make the situation better. If a certain type of involvement or participation is going to make things worse, you’d rather choose another type of involvement. There’a a lot Tamils can do and there’s a lot that they do. Speaking for myself, I’m committed to doing the best I can do as a civilian. Changing the LTTE is impossible given the status quo and you have no argument to suggest I’m wrong.

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Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-22 21:08:05

Sorry, but sitting in Colombo and moaning about the Sinhalese, Burghers, Malays, Moors and God knows who else, and blaming them for the plight of the Tamil community is not “doing the best I can do as a civilian.” If you or the greater Tamil community are not interested in changing the LTTE, then what can anyone else do but sit back and watch the self-destruction with popcorn bag in hand?

aadhavan
2007-05-22 21:33:33

What would you have me do?

 
Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-22 21:58:35

Start the ball rolling in your community.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-22 22:24:58

by doing what?

 
David Blacker
2007-05-22 22:48:16

By thinking of a plan.

 
Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-22 22:50:05

Talking to your Tamil representatives.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-23 00:05:56

and talking alone is going to work?

 
David Blacker
2007-05-23 00:58:13

No, talking alone is called talking to yourself, Aadhavan. There has to be at least one other person within earshot — so no, talking alone will only get you put away.

 
comment
2007-05-23 06:13:09

David,

Am interested to know what sort of projects and if you can give me some idea how they could shorten the war.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-23 08:55:04

Oh, well by your standards David, fighting with a gun slung over the shoulder would be the answer right? I’m not interested in going down that line.

 
David Blacker
2007-05-23 16:04:55

Comment, I’m not willing to discuss those projects in this sort of a forum. If we were ever to meet or correspond in any other form, I’d be happy to explain. But these projects aren’t unique, and it’s arguable how effecticve, which is part of the reason I’m asking the questions I am.

Aadhavan, you can’t fight with a gun slung over your shoulder; but I guess you wouldn’t know would you? I doubt you’ve found anything that’s worth fighting for, least of all your people.

 
comment
2007-05-24 04:40:12

Ok. Fair enough.

And with regard to Aadhavan….please back off. This sort of thing achieves less than the projects you are questioning.

 
aadhavan
2007-05-24 06:13:41

I really wouldn’t know the best way to carry a gun while fighting David. I’m just amused that someone will take to violence for no other reason besides some kinky scatological fetish.. :-)

 
David Blacker
2007-05-24 10:43:59

Amateur pscychiatry now, Aadhavan? My God, you spread yourself about, don’t you?

 
 
comment
2007-05-22 21:38:37

Aadhavan,

There is a sentence that includes a word sandwhich and then if you remember they went and had a picnic. If you catch my drift.

comment
2007-05-23 11:15:42

And I don’t include you in that.

 
comment
2007-05-24 09:00:38

Aadhavan:
What I was trying to hint at here was that there appeared to be some people who were two sandwiches short of a picnic and it is probably not a good idea to get involved! Things were getting quite bizzarre, esp. with little Harry potter fluttering around!

 
 
David Blacker
2007-05-22 22:54:50

I don’t need an argument, he does:

http://www.stolenchildhood.net/images/sri_lankan_air_strike_air_raid_kill_children_in_lanka_1.jpg

Tell HIM that you’re doing your best by doing nothing.

 
 
comment
2007-05-22 21:06:31

Blacker and Aadhavan

Would like some focus.

I have posted some questions. Would be interested in seeing some answers.

Thanks.

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tamilgirl
2007-05-23 16:19:04

he has no answers

David Blacker
2007-05-24 10:18:11

I noticed you’ve posted the same questions at several spots in this thread. I’ve answered them once. Just scroll til you find it.

Vakarai, your finger still not working? :)

 
 
 
 
 
tamilgirl
2007-05-23 05:03:07

you all are fools…
the solution does not lie with the LTTE…
it lies with the sinhala south…
the LTTE agreed to federalism in oslo…
and now mahinda is offering something from 30 years ago…?
hahahaha
you’re all fools
and the island will burn because of the intransigence of the sinhala south…

Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-23 08:57:18

Actually the people who are burning are the Tamils. 1/3 have left Sri Lanka, 70 000 refugees in India, hundreds of thousands internally displaced in Sri Lanka.

David Blacker
2007-05-23 16:07:58

Ah yes, Indi’s pet troll returns. Changed sex this time!

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tamilgirl
2007-05-23 16:17:56

DAVID,
again you ignore the question because you know that there is no answer…
ANSWER THE QUESTION YOU COWARD

and what are these secret project that you can’t discuss on this forum…

you guys are amazing…

stop trying to find an “alternative” to the LTTE or get tamils to “weaken” the LTTE’s resolve… it aint gonna happen… now even karuna has split and will fade away…

ANSWER THIS QUESTION:
the LTTE agreed to federalism in oslo…
the ISGA was the STARTING point for negotiations
and what was the response…? still waiting….
and now mahinda is offering something from 30 years ago…?
can’t you all get it thorough your heads that it is not the LTTE that is the problem here…
the LTTE arose due to the actions of the south
they flourished because of the actions of the south
and the south has yet to produce a viable set of proposals for a political solution…
what should the tamils do…
settle?
no thanks…

David Blacker
2007-05-24 10:47:53

Please don’t feed the troll ;)

 
tamilgirl
2007-05-24 17:18:11

haha,
no answers huh?
thought so…

 
 
 
tamilgirl
2007-05-23 16:21:29

and who caused that to happen… GOSL
1983
bombing and shelling of civilians

the GOSL has never fought the LTTE
they just attack the people…
why do you think the LTTE are so strong…?
the GOSL has pushed the people to the LTTE

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Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-23 19:45:51

Yes the LTTE is so “strong” it begs the Sinhalese government for food to feed the people, pay the teachers and principles, pay for upkeep of the hospitals and so on and so forth.

Yeah! Strong As.

aadhavan
2007-05-23 20:25:04

That’s because the govt in turn goes around with a begging bowl all over the world to finance the war, health, education etc etc. In the third world, begging is inevitable.

 
Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-23 21:22:20

Did I say that the government was “strong”? Nope. Now keep on fantasizing that the Tamils are the bestest community and they are far ahead of everyone one.

 
 
 
 
 
comment
2007-05-23 06:15:09

David

You mentioned some projects. Could you give us some idea what they are and how you think they could shorten the war?

 
aadhavan
2007-05-23 16:24:13

Something I should have said earlier- given the status quo of military action by the GoSL that we doesn’t seem to have an end in sight, what value would pressure on the Tigers achieve? Should they be pressured to stop fighting and accept the SLFP proposals or fight harder and force the Govt to offer a federal arrangement? What pressure is envisaged?

aadhavan
2007-05-23 16:26:16

*that doesn’t seem to have an end in sight
*what result would pressure on the Tigers achieve?

 
 
comment
2007-05-23 17:15:57

goodness :-)

 
tamilgirl
comment
2007-05-23 17:27:39

Tamilgirl, hope you don’t have any objections to pausing a bit and giving David some time to answer the questions I asked. I’ve asked it at least from yesterday and I havn’t got an answer, and this sort of thing causes distractions.

 
comment
2007-05-23 17:40:08

yes I read it. What do you think?

 
 
comment
2007-05-23 18:29:13

This is for Aadhavan:

http://www.sibernews.com/news/sri-lanka/-200703257898/

Go and read the comments by Neil Armstrong.

aadhavan
2007-05-23 20:26:15

Have you ever walked on the moon?

comment
2007-05-23 20:48:30

Um no :-). I saw this today and I think this person is not a Sri Lankan, but was struck by how he connects instinctively to injustice. I think that sensibility transcends race.

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comment
2007-05-23 20:55:12

I find it funny, when I think someone called Sarath and Harry Potter rattled off a list: “Burgher, Sinhalese, Malay and Moor “communities in the South not having to care. As though they are elements in the periodic table. :-)

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Harry Potter Fan
2007-05-23 21:23:21

*snigger*, yeah, that is a riot! But it’s the truth though.

 
 
 
 
 
comment
2007-05-24 08:21:25

I do have to wrap this up, also this has begun to go beyond no where :-)

David Blacker: I think of all those who commented Aadhavan is the last person who should have been questioned on what he is doing. He has the least power out of all of us; I hope you have some insight with regard to this fact and will modify your approach to dealing with people like him accordingly. We have a responsibility to support and protect, not attack people like Aadhavan. Also he has a long way to go in terms of gaining experience and building his skills because I suspect he has a great deal to offer to whatever community he becomes part of. What we have been discussing is a humaitarian crisis, and if we don’t show fairness, compassion and generosity to people we deal with day to day, how do we expect the governent or the LTTE to do the same?

Regarding the projects. I don’t know what they are, but it is important to remember that we cannot reverse more than 20 years of war in one year. So it is better in my opinion to make an effort to do something than nothing and I think everything we all are trying to do adds up to something. When you are in the middle of it, its difficult to see the big picture.

I have observed the energy Indi puts in to trying to make a difference in his own way, with his own limitations. The first step is that he knows something is wrong, and now he is trying to contribute to change in the most positive and least destructive way possible…at least that is what I think :-) He might think otherwise :-) Don’t really know the guy except from his blog. Anyway, its quite admirable for someone who hasn’t lived in Sri Lanka for long.

Because of the news we have been getting about the escalating humanitarian crisis and the breakdown in civil society, I started reading through these blogs recently to get some idea of the perceptions of people who were living there. From reading these blogs I’ve noticed, a combination of Rajapakse’s election and increasing global communication has in some ways made people question the war and see the social and political structures in this country for what it is. Its like he is canibalising the country and exposing the bones. In my opinion, the previous governments were just more sophisticated in hiding their lack of commitment to true peace and justice.

I hope things turn out for the best for you and everyone else who is trying to make sense of this and make a difference. I and many others I know are trying to do the same.

David Blacker
2007-05-24 11:06:26

“I think of all those who commented Aadhavan is the last person who should have been questioned on what he is doing. He has the least power out of all of us; I hope you have some insight with regard to this fact and will modify your approach to dealing with people like him accordingly.”

Comment, I quite realise that most Tamils in SL are powerless to really influence the Tigers. That is why my questions were addressed to Tamils in the diaspora. I found your comments both useful and interesting. However, Aadhavan butted in with an attempt to just kill the discussion by heaping sscorn on anyone who didn’t share his apathy. I never questioned what he’s doing (I’m aware there’s little he can except pray) until he started ridiculing any attempt to look for change. I’m willing to be more than fair, compassionate, and generous to people who are similarly inclined, but it’s difficult to do that with someone who blindly scoffs at all ideas that don’t conform with their own. If you’ve seen past discussions between me and Aadhavan, you’ll realise we used to get on quite well. Recently, however, Aadhavan seems to have allowed himself to be polarized. Maybe I have too.

“Regarding the projects. I don’t know what they are, but it is important to remember that we cannot reverse more than 20 years of war in one year.”

I don’t know if you missed my response to your earlier qquestion, so I’ll repeat it: I don’t wish to discuss such projects online for various reasons, but if we were to meet or correspond in other ways, I’d be happy to explain. No, I’m not naive enough to think that 20+ years of war can be reversed in a year. If it happens in a generation, we’ll be lucky.

“Because of the news we have been getting about the escalating humanitarian crisis and the breakdown in civil society, I started reading through these blogs recently to get some idea of the perceptions of people who were living the”

Remember that bloggers and posters (who are mostly southern urban) are not representative of the SL community. We have only about 250,000 internet connections in a country of 19 million. So take that into account. Also, if you visit some of the other blogs affiliated to Kottu, you’ll find that their inhabitants are not nearly so civil or progressive as the ones here. :)

comment
2007-05-24 12:05:19

David Blacker
“I’m willing to be more than fair, compassionate, and generous to people who are similarly inclined

Finally, I put my finger on it! :-)

Was going to end it. But read this, and thought I had to reply. I don’t know if it will help.

Please realise, I am trying not to sound preachy…but my personal experience has been that you cannot get everyone to think the same way you do. We are living in the real world so we need to try to get on with different people with different backgrounds regardless of their fobiles. Which is bloody difficult.

As a Tamil, being nice to a Sinhalese is a piece of cake if they speak like me, think like me, come from the same socioeconomic background etc. Much easier than even talking to Prabha’s boys.

When I turned 19 I never would have considered joining the army. Are we “similarly inclined”? I don’t think so.

You have already probably been told this by a million Tamils. I learnt to fear and dislike these people in Sri Lanka:

Army
Police
Buddhist Priests

Despite this, I made an effort to try to put aside my prejudices and find some common ground. Believe you me my gut instinct was saying that it is a big mistake to engage in such discussions.

So if you can’t show respect or compassion for someone like Aadhavan, who I sense is rather civil, polite and easy to get on with!!! (no snide remarks please :-))….how the heck are we going to get on with the rest of those bastards in the real world????? And people want the war to stop?????!!!!

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comment
2007-05-24 17:14:38

“Believe you me my gut instinct was saying that it is a big mistake to engage in such discussions.”

In case you misunderstand, I didn’t mean that my gut instinct was correct. What I meant was I had to work against a prejudice or inbuilt instinct of distrusting people in the Sri Lankan army.

 
 
comment
2007-05-24 12:20:13

“I don’t know if you missed my response to your earlier qquestion, so I’ll repeat it: I don’t wish to discuss such projects online for various reasons, but if we were to meet or correspond in other ways, I’d be happy to explain.”

No I didn’t miss your response, I commented underneath that it is understandable. We’ve shatted all over Indi’s blog so its difficult to read who said what. :-)

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David Blacker
2007-05-24 17:11:49

“but my personal experience has been that you cannot get everyone to think the same way you do. ”

Actually, you misunderstood. When I said “similarly inclined”, I meant people who are “fair, compassionate, and generous”, not people who think like me! I’m 35, and I’ve found very few people think like me:). I didn’t start this discusssion in order to get people to think like I do; but to ask ssome questions on what diaspora Tamils think and feel (since they are the Tamils I have least contact with, even though some of my close relatives are among them).

“When I turned 19 I never would have considered joining the army. Are we “similarly inclined”? I don’t think so.”

But you must’ve considered the Tigers, or one of the other now-extinct separatisst groups, even in passing?

“You have already probably been told this by a million Tamils. I learnt to fear and dislike these people in Sri Lanka:”

Well I don’t much like the cops or the thattayas either, so we’re not that different :)

tamilgirl
2007-05-24 17:25:17

do you consider yourself to be :“fair, compassionate, and generous” david???

you murdering scum…

you fought and killed for the GOSL and to suppress tamils…

we all know where you’re coming from

and what’s with those earings…?
hipster dufuss…

 
comment
2007-05-24 17:42:52

DB:
“But you must’ve considered the Tigers, or one of the other now-extinct separatisst groups, even in passing” :-)

Not at that age, no. Maybe as a little kid. I was kind of brainwashed by my family to be a pacifist. Satyagraha and all that. Also, not many Australians are into joining the army :-) We used to have set english texts like “All quiet on the western front”, poems by Wilfred Owen, all anti war stuff! Have you seen the movie Gallipoli? Mel Gibson’s first movie. Thats an Australian legend. We learn about how these Australian men just sacrificed their life for nothing. So well…its kind of low key where we live. :-)

Wonder what Aadhavan would have felt. Especially living in Sri Lanka.

Aadhavan, could you answer that?

 
David Blacker
2007-05-24 17:52:50

Turns you on, doesn’t it, Vakarai?

 
aadhavan
2007-05-24 19:20:25

No, never really thought of fighting with weapons. I think however, that real change in the Tigers, would have to come from within. I’m reading the book by Whitaker on Sivaram and it makes fascinating reading. That man waded through a lot of the intellectual and emotional challenges, dilemmas and quandaries faced by Tamils in SL with intellectual honesty and a passion for his people. I highly recommend the book. Some of it is anthropological jargon that takes getting used to, but the man was a genius.

 
comment
2007-05-24 19:55:04

Just looked at the summary, looks very intersting indeed. I will try and get a hold of it.

Got this email just now:

Nelson Mandela’s speech on the Dock 1964 : I am prepared to Die
http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/rivonia.html

Thangathurai’s statement from the Dock in 1983
http://www.tamilnation.org/tamileelam/thangathurai/dockstatement.htm

There is an uncanny resemblence between the two.

 
comment
2007-05-24 20:17:38

David,

I get what you were saying. Its coming through to our end.

I hope people in the south will also understand they have the biggest role to play. Not just for the Tamils but for themselves. Over 3 years it may look like the government is winning, but the damage to the country in the end may be irreparable. You can’t push these people to lay down their arms. They are willing to fight at all costs. And I mean…all costs.

 
 
 
aadhavan
2007-05-24 15:52:19

David, my sincere apologies for hijacking a private conversation. And for making unwarranted remarks about your personal past. I was a tad annoyed with the tone with which the “challenge” is laid down to Tamils that they ought to do something fast when my reading of current events is that both the LTTE and the GoSL is resistant to moderate Tamil thinking. My repugnance to that idea also stems from my deep belief that the problem here lies not with the intransigence of the LTTE or the badness of Mahinda, but with the mistrust between the communities. And that repairing damaged relations between communities can never be a unilateral process. I hope we can lay this to rest and let bygones be bygones. Regards,

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David Blacker
2007-05-24 17:29:49

“David, my sincere apologies for hijacking a private conversation. And for making unwarranted remarks about your personal past. ”

No apologies needed, my friend. It wasn’t a private conversation really, but questions aimed at a particular segment of Tamils. As for the remarks about my past, that matters even less; I have long realised that people will always see what I say in the context of what I did as a teenager, and that’s OK, ‘cos that’s human nature. If I regretted what I did back then, or were somehow ashamed of it, then the remarks would probably get to me. But I don’t, so it doesn’t.

“I was a tad annoyed with the tone with which the “challenge” is laid down to Tamils that they ought to do something fast”

That wasn’t what I was saying. In fact I’m not annoyed that the the Tamils refuse to coerce the Tigers, though I am annoyed at their refusal to consider it.

Cheers

 
 
tamilgirl
2007-05-24 17:21:31

don’t be afraid to share the amazing “projects” david…
if they’re aimed at weakening the LTTE don’t waste your time…

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David Blacker
2007-05-25 10:28:58

“Also, not many Australians are into joining the army :-) ”

I guess the Aussies I know are different to the ones you know :)! I’ve a couple of friends in the Army over there, and one of them’s getting ready to go to Afghanistan with the RAR next month.

Yeah, I’ve seen ‘Gallipoli’. I did a tour of that beach about eight years ago. Fascinating.

“Over 3 years it may look like the government is winning, but the damage to the country in the end may be irreparable.”

Of course it looks like the GoSL is winning right now (and they are), which is why it’s so difficult to push them to change right now. If the Tigers were winning, I wouldn’t suggest they be coerced. Southern public opinion has forced govts to look at negotiations, but only (as in 2001) when the war was going badly. So if you want the Sinhalese to relent, you’ll have to beat the Army on the battlefield, and for the moment, the Tigers seem incapable of that. They have no answer to the SLAF or the counter-terror of the LRRPs. I guess the Tamils will have to just wait then.

comment
2007-05-25 16:49:50

Actually, you are right. I have met some Australians who absolutely love the army. Also knew a couple of guys who wanted to join the army, when we were studying the texts I mentioned who found it difficult to write essays like “truth is a casualty of war” etc.:) But on the whole the defence department finds it very difficult to recruit people. They usually provide incentives like free university education etc. to attract them into the defence force.

I must admit I admire how professional the Australian army personnel are. They are not as hyped up as the americans. The Afghani thing is going to be really difficult. I don’t think the army hierarchy agree with the government strategy but they just get on with the job.

Gallipoli is like a holy grail for Australians. I think its nice we have a legend that actually is not about glorifying war and shows how the two sides had mutual respect for each other in the end. You are lucky to have gone 8 years ago. I heard the Australian government has done some sort of development of that area and vandalised the place.

Its not about “us” wanting the Sinhalese to “relent” etc. I’m a human being first before being part of a tribe, and mine is a human concern. This thing is bigger than that kind of petty stuff. Anyway I should have said, people here are trying to do something, but in the end it is the Sri Lankan government that has the power and hence the Sri Lankan people. Well, despite this, its better we over here try to do something than not do anything.

 
 
 
 
 
David Blacker
2007-05-25 19:21:26

“I must admit I admire how professional the Australian army personnel are.”

Yeah, they’re doing pretty well in Afghanistan. The longest recorded sniper kill in history is by an SASR trooper in Afghanistan last year.

“I don’t think the army hierarchy agree with the government strategy but they just get on with the job.”

Like in Vietnam. The Aussies and ROKs did the best out of all the allies.

“Gallipoli is like a holy grail for Australians. I think its nice we have a legend that actually is not about glorifying war and shows how the two sides had mutual respect for each other in the end.”

Well, that IS a British thing, isn’t it? I guess the Aussies think the same way — Rorke’s Drift, the Charge of the Light Brigade, the Glosters at Imjin, etc.

“You are lucky to have gone 8 years ago. I heard the Australian government has done some sort of development of that area and vandalised the place.”

OK, I didn’t know that. I did a tour of famous 20th century European battlefields. Pretty cool.

“Anyway I should have said, people here are trying to do something, but in the end it is the Sri Lankan government that has the power and hence the Sri Lankan people. ”

True enough that most of the power’s with the GoSL, but for it to work, both sides have to commit, and the Tigers won’t until the Tamils say “enough”. This isn’t about pride, or giving up the fight. 25 years ago, the pacifist Tamils had to accept that there way wasn’t working; now 25 years later, the militant Tamils have to realise that there way hasn’t worked either. I also agree that if the Tamils were to pull the rug out from under the LTTE today, it will mean total defeat and possibly the loss of any hope of equality with the Sinhalese. But I question why more pressure wasn’t put on them during the build up of violence in the last part of the CFA period. It was obvious that the Tigers were pushing the GoSL towards a violent overreaction. In Colombo there were protests against the GoSL, but there wasn’t much from the Tamils against the LTTE.

 
2013-03-27 19:20:09

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