Arundhati Roy Is Irresponsible And Lame

Thank you for reading the Guardian and getting angry. I have burned my National ID and am waiting for the ‘world’ to arrive. Photo by Cyrus Matthews.


Arundhati Roy has written an especially arrogant and irrelevant editorial in the Times of India. She makes sweeping statements condemning the government and Sri Lanka and prescribes the world to return like Jesus and somehow fix everything. The government’s not going to turn around and be like, wow, we’re genocidal maniacs, thanks for pointing that out. The ‘world’ is not going to a) exist in any real sense or b) come and occupy Sri Lanka. All she’s doing is intellectual masturbation. It might make her feel better but it helps no one.

All the people I see actually doing something on the ground speak moderately and do small things when and where they can. And they work with the government, and they don’t needlessly antagonize people. People are working on sending basic medical supplies to the Vavuniya hospital this week for example. There is hopefully a truck going up on Friday. I bought some surgical gloves. I’m not waiting for the world police, no matter how loud Arundhati Roy blows her own horn.

I have spent years railing against the government without actually leaving my comfort zone. Life was much simpler then. Since I’ve tried to become more active I’ve discovered that things no longer seem so black and white. When the point is to just rant it’s very easy to make sweeping pronouncements. However, on the ground you discover that you need to compromise. To actually help people you need to go through government agents and government hospitals and calling them genocidal and tyrannical is both counterproductive and untrue.

For example, I think Arundhati Roy’s article in the Times of India (reproduced on TransCurrents) is both ill-informed and counter-productive.

From the little information that is filtering through it looks as though the Sri Lankan government is using the propaganda of the ‘war on terror’ as a fig leaf to dismantle any semblance of democracy in the country, and commit unspeakable crimes against the Tamil people. Working on the principle that every Tamil is a terrorist unless he or she can prove otherwise, civilian areas, hospitals and shelters are being bombed and turned into a war zone. Reliable estimates put the number of civilians trapped at over 200,000. The Sri Lankan Army is advancing, armed with tanks and aircraft.

Meanwhile, there are official reports that several ‘‘welfare villages’’ have been established to house displaced Tamils in Vavuniya and Mannar districts. According to a report in The Daily Telegraph (Feb 14, 2009), these villages ‘‘will be compulsory holding centres for all civilians fleeing the fighting’’.

Is this a euphemism for concentration camps? The former foreign minister of Sri Lanka, Mangala Samaraveera, told The Daily Telegraph:

‘‘A few months ago the government started registering all Tamils in Colombo on the grounds that they could be a security threat, but this could be exploited for other purposes like the Nazis in the 1930s. They’re basically going to label the whole civilian Tamil population as potential terrorists.’’

What we are witnessing, or should we say, what is happening in Sri Lanka and is being so effectively hidden from public scrutiny, is a brazen, openly racist war. The impunity with which the Sri Lankan government is being able to commit these crimes actually unveils the deeply ingrained racist prejudice, which is precisely what led to the marginalization and alienation of the Tamils of Sri Lanka in the first place. That racism has a long history, of social ostracisation, economic blockades, pogroms and torture.

Several of us including myself, who should have spoken out much earlier, have not done so, simply because of a lack of information about the war. So while the killing continues, while tens of thousands of people are being barricaded into concentration camps, while more than 200,000 face starvation, and a genocide waits to happen, there is dead silence from this great country.

It’s a colossal humanitarian tragedy. The world must step in. Now. Before it’s too late.

What I find deeply irresponsible about her article is that she both admits that she’s ill-informed and yet sees fit to basically accuse the whole Sinhala south of prosecuting this as a racist war. Well, WTF. I don’t agree with the war and I didn’t support it but I understand that some response is necessary when there are a constant bomb attacks in Colombo, when the Foreign Minister is killed, when people are banned from voting, etc. I actually agree with her on many broad points, but her tone is so sweeping and broad that it’s frankly insulting. There are certainly racist elements in the government and everywhere, but on the whole this is actually a war against the LTTE. Her sources, however, are thrice removed articles from foreign papers (even though we have available media here she could read if she looked a bit more) and quotes from Mangala Samaraweera who, whatever side he’s on now, is still a cunning liar who helped get Mahinda elected in the first place.

Any yet, based on a cursory reading of British papers she sees fit to judge a whole complex, decades long war into a simple genocide/asshole dichotomy and recommend that the ‘world’ step in to… do what? These magical realists who invoke the world or world intervention as a solution don’t realize that this is about as pointless as asking Jesus to step in. The ‘world’ doesn’t exist in such a concrete political sense such that it can step into this island and fix everything. It is only the arrogance of irrelevance that would lead Ms. Roy to judge a conflict so simply and pronounce such a simplistic solution. Seriously, what positive action does she think is going to come out of calling the Sri Lankan government racist and genocidal and asking the world to come in and do what? Overthrow our government? Save the LTTE? What? Is the LTTE mentioned even once? Reading the editorial it seems like the Army is just bombing random Tamil villages. Where does she get off?

I supported peace before and I support the people suffering in the North right now, but I think Arundhati Roy’s editorial is just irresponsible and lame. Wow, you read something in the Telegraph and felt bad. Get a blog.

In reality, the only people who can actually pause this conflict are the LTTE by laying down arms, accepting amnesty and letting those people go. The UN, US and UK actually called for this realistic position saying – “We suggested the idea of some kind of humanitarian pause to allow that to happen and to allow the civilian population to leave,” he said. “This is an extremely worrying situation, and therefore our first appeal is to the LTTE to let the civilians out in a safe and orderly fashion.”

If you want to actually effect change you have to compromise. If you’re not doing anything I guess you can divide some other country into good and evil, call in the world cavalry and call it a day. But make no mistake, it does nothing for anyone in Sri Lanka and it does nothing for the people suffering in the North. If anything it makes things harder. If you want to help, people are trying to send some medical supplies up now, to the government hospital in Vavuniya. Arundhati Roy and the world police aren’t actually helping anyone.

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39 Comments »

rajivmw
2009-03-30 15:02:33

Indi this is brilliant. Please post at least some of this as a comment on the Times website.

 
2009-03-30 15:19:15

I guess she just wants to give her waning public image a boost by jumping on the diaspora genocide wagon! She’s certainly got her name put up in lights on all the diaspora websites now… Makes one actually wonder what her true motives are behind this article ya?

This seems very similar to the behaviour of the TamilNadu politico’s who scream and shout about the issue just so they can be given coverage in the news. Maybe it’s an Indian syndrome?

 
Vadakathayan
2009-03-30 15:44:45

Well, at least now you folks know how most Indians feel about the stuff Roy writes on India. She’s a polemicist, and a particularly good one at that, thanks to her command over English. Of course, as with most polemicists, there’s very little substance or deep thought behind her words. There’s usually plenty of distortion, though. This is downright infuriating if she happens to be writing on a topic about which you know something.

Anyway, the immediate cause for this article is the flak she’s been getting – from people whose opinions matters to her – for being so stridently against the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir and elsewhere, while being totally silent about the GoSL’s actions in Sri Lanka (I’m not going to get drawn into a discussion about which is worse, I don’t think it’s possible because they are on a totally different scale: the Indian army’s operations in Kashmir have never required the aerial bombardment of Kashmiri villages; still, they are both “anti-terrorist” operations which have a significant adverse impact on civilians).

As far as accepting an amnesty is concerned: Indi, is the LTTE – or, for that matter, any personality-driven organisation – likely to accept an amnesty which expressly excludes the top leadership? Do you think the GoSL believes for a moment that the terms they’ve set out are likely to be acceptable?

Kill Romeo: Tamil Nadu politicos are screaming and shouting to prevent being massacred in the polls. Believe me, most of them – the hardcore LTTE supporters excepted – would like nothing better than for the issue to disappear from the public eye.

 
2009-03-30 18:23:21

I don’t think that we should take Arundathi very seriously. She is a big lefty and lefties are just like that. Having said that there is no reason to take this very personal as well. Arundathi Roy even advocates an independent Kashmir. What would an INDIAN who advocates an independent KASHMIR would feel about the situation in Sri Lanka? Of course she would want to end military operations. There is nothing for us to feel bad about her remarks, that is how she is. To me she is better than our hypocrites who advocates to annihilate LTTE but feels sympathetic towards Hamas or Al-Qaeda. She is consistent, be it about India, south asia or west.

 
chandare
2009-03-30 18:44:18

Security council situation ….
http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/18635

 
sam
2009-03-30 20:01:55

Just Curious. If Religion and Reliable (sources) duel, who wins?

 
Anand
2009-03-30 23:25:01

Where is this article? I don’t see it in the times of india website.

 
2009-03-31 00:08:17

@Anand: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/4331986.cms
Article can be found there.

Good post, Indi. You should read this at the next Open Mic.

 
2009-03-31 00:58:04

indi, well said. as you know, i don’t usually agree with you :)
one issue you didn’t cover is the whole ‘what are we (the good Indians) doing’ posture she takes. this is very much like western liberal hypocrisy on some thing like the violence in Rwanda. It goes like this: ‘omg, these natives killed themselves, and we, good white people did nothing. shame, shame!’ Its a frequent refrain. But if you look at Rwanda, you see that France was very much involved. Right through the massacres. And won’t accept responsibility.

Quite similarly, India has been deeply involved not only in arming and training the LTTE, TELO and other armed groups in Sri Lanka, they have also encouraged brutal civilian directed violence. I’m really disappointed that Arundati Roy, whose writing I generally respect, has fallen into this trap — of ahistorical, unexamined moral self righteousness. Our problems in Sri Lanka are many, but would certainly been less brutal with out direct Indian involvement. So to suddenly step in, and cry: ‘where are we good Indians! Help the people!!’, is a bit sick.

 
2009-03-31 01:26:38

and I was waiting for her to speak….

I am disappointed that she is riding the popular wave of the ‘reactive international-wallahs’ but on the other hand I am not surprised. As ‘Liberal Lanka’ notes about Roy’s ‘consistent-ness’, she has proven once again that she is a consistent anti-imperialist to the core but, I was hoping, despite her being admittedly less informed about the ground situ, that she would have taken the trouble to research into the fair amount of neutral and genuine reportage provided by ‘voices of dissent’ living overseas; a small but non-negligible group belonging to the Tamil diaspora.

Furthermore, she has been sharply and rightfully critical of India’s role in strengthening the LTTE as a rebel group a fact that she highlights in her essay ‘War is Peace’. She says, ‘India, for its part, denounces countries who sponsor and abet terrorism, but the Indian army has, in the past, trained separatist Tamil rebels asking for a homeland in Sri Lanka-the LTTE, responsible for countless acts of bloody terrorism.’ So despite this ‘understanding’ of what the LTTE is, it’s a bit sad that she has neglected the fact that the LTTE is still ‘responsible for countless acts of bloody terrorism’…

To me this clearly highlights the GoSL’s failing in stifling the free media to an appalling extent and detrimentally fueling the adverse propaganda that the LTTE and its sympatheticos have so far been successful at…

 
Vadakathayan
2009-03-31 01:35:17

Prof. Jeganathan: in fairness to Arundhati Roy, she does address that point in her article:

“Given the scale of what is happening in Sri Lanka, the silence is inexcusable. More so because of the Indian government’s long history of irresponsible dabbling in the conflict, first taking one side and then the other.” (emphasis added)

And, if you read her comment in full, she’s not calling for India to act – she’s calling for intellectuals in India (by which, I assume, she means those like her who address a global audience) to speak out in favour of international action.

As an amusing aside, I notice that the GoSL has, within a few hours of Arundhati Roy’s piece, agreed to consider pausing its military operations to let civilians escape. Clearly, it was Roy’s piece, and only Roy’s piece that was responsible for their decision. (And, since SDNWOTN, that is irony).

 
2009-03-31 07:33:34

I take your point; I should have addressed that line. But Indian involvement has been more than dabbling. She makes it sounds like its been the interests of a dilettante. Actually there has been a consistent foreign policy/intelligence wing position.

Vadakathayan
2009-04-01 03:35:29

You’re quite right, Professor, but in this case I think it’s just Roy’s turn of phrase – I think she’s using “dabbling” as a deliberate ironic understatement.

That having been said, I’ve been bothered by something in the article, which I haven’t been able to put my finger on until just now. I’ve long been quite angry about the hypocricy of the stance various players in India are taking. For all the hot air that’s been coming out of Tamil Nadu about the “camps” the Sri Lankan Government is building, the conditions there are going to be far, far better than the conditions in which Tamil refugees live in India. I think what’s been bothering me is her failure to really address the miserable way in which India has treated the Tamils (all Sri Lankans, for that matter, but the Tamils most of all) and the sheer extent to which India is the cause of the current situation. This isn’t just RAW’s meddling, but the utterly cold-blooded way in which India’s used the grievances of the Sri Lankan Tamils to further its own short-term strategic ends, regardless of the cost to Sri Lanka (including to the Tamils, whose interests it’s supposedly been championing).

I suppose this means I’ve come around to a point of view that is not too far from yours! I still don’t quite agree with your suggestion of moral self-righteousness. What I’d have liked to see, I suppose, was calling for international pressure to be put not only on Sri Lanka, but also on India, because without the latter we’re only going to see temporary armistices in Sri Lanka, not a permanent peace.

 
 
2009-03-31 10:36:09

On another note, doesn’t our government use white vans? doesn’t it kill and beat dissent voices in media? doesn’t it maintain a media black out in wanni? doesn’t it resort to extra judicial killings? Well these completely unwanted undemocratic behavior of our government also contributes to, ignorant peoples belief that there is a genocide going on in Sri Lanka. If I were you I would have denounced the ignorance of Roy but at the same time denouncing the undemocratic behavior of our government as well. Because I want to show the world that everyone in Sri Lanka is not like Gotabaya.

 
Maya
2009-03-31 14:50:18

Hi Indi,

Since you’re on the subject of lame and irresponsible… thought you’d like to see M.I.A’s latest statement which i received by email today.

Please see below a statement from M.I.A (Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam), is a British-Tamil songwriter, record producer, singer, fashion designer and artist supporting the “Mercy Mission to Vanni” (www.vannimission.org)

I just had a baby last month, that’s why I can’t be there today, but I want to give my support and thanks to the launch of the chartered humanitarian ship Mercy Mission launching March 31, 2009.

I made it out in the late 80′s and so my baby is going to grow up with hospitals, healthcare, food, free education, freedom of speech and religion, a life expectancy of 80-90 years and many of the liberties that we in democratic world take for granted.

A baby born in the Vanni Region today is getting no access to hospitals (they bombed the last one and it’s run out of supplies.) There is limited food because the government banned the aid agencies and there is no education because the trapped civilians only have one option and that is to make it to the government-run internment camps where they only enforce the language and ideas of the government. The Tamils have less rights then the animals in Sri Lanka.

The Mercy Mission will carry dry food and medicines for Tamil civilians in Vanni within the Sri Lankan Government’s “safe zone.” Many have already perished from starvation and preventable disease. We can not ignore these genocidal conditions, and if the aim of the SL Government is to protect the lives of the civilians, then this ship will reach its destination and lives will be saved.

Thank you very much,
Maya Arulpragasam (M.I.A.)

http://www.miauk.com

 
2009-03-31 19:34:29

Indeed, that MIA comment is also irresponsible and lame.

Wrote more about it here: Vanni Mercy Mission Is A Cynical Ploy

 
Lankan
2009-03-31 22:23:35

please post this at least as a comment on the new site under this article.

 
vishwa
2009-03-31 23:34:57

Indi, you are small kid in this business.
You did not even get the basic of fundamental problem
Please concentrate on your academic studies

 
Champ
2009-04-01 03:52:51

Comment for Vishwa….
Small or Big does not matter…people need to start at some point of thinking about issues. I think as young person, Indi has demonstrated his maturity of understanding issues and problems. This is not a complex issue. Terrorism is something we need to eradicate sake of peace loving population.

Arundhati Roy is in my mind activist and business women. I guess she appeared from no where to sympathize terrorists and get some publicity for her books. I am pretty sure there must be another book coming soon where she needs cheap publicity.

 
2009-04-01 08:53:40

@vishwa

I finished my studies in 2004. I’ve been doing this since then and have evolved a lot, I think, over the last 5 years. I’m pretty much a veteran in the Sri Lankan blogosphere. I don’t know who you are.

When I was younger I used to rail against everyone, now I realize that getting things done requires understanding and compromise. I think Ms. Roy’s absolutist stance is the immature one.

 
N2
2009-04-01 12:47:32

There is no substantial content to this article by Indi.
Its easy to call people names, its easy to fire off words more or less randomly under the pretext of countering Arundhadi Roy’s article. In fact this article exactly parallels the attititude of the GOSL: firing off randomly under the pretext of fighting the LTTE!

Indi: “I think Ms. Roy’s absolutist stance is the immature one”
I think Indi is tryning to say that his/her article too is to be accepted on relativistic valueles grounds.

2009-04-01 14:34:30

I haven’t called Ms. Roy names in this article. I think my point is quite simple. The LTTE should be mentioned, this situation is not simple, the government needs to be compromised with, and the world community isn’t going to do anything.

If anything you’re talking to yourself here because I don’t see any substantial discussion of these points.

 
 
Palmyrah
2009-04-01 12:54:53

Why people think the political opinions of artists and entertainers have any value at all is beyond me, especially when the artist in question is possibly the worst author ever to win the Booker Prize and a widely ridiculed loony-left loose cannon.

Reading Ms. Roy’s article made be feel sympathetic towards the government and military for the first time since this war began. But Ms. Roy’s effects are sadly ephemeral; within minutes the usual loathing had returned.

 
Annie
2009-04-02 17:30:36

I think the one thing that people are overlooking here is the importance of the media in this whole situation. It is an undeniable fact that the Sri Lankan authorities have refused access to international media personnel whilst systematically ‘silencing’ those local journalists who dare to speak out against the government. I agree that ‘Genocide’ is a very strong word and should not be used lightly. In this aspect, I concede Ms. Roy’s ignorance and blatant bandwagonning. However, it does not take a genius to process different bits of information to form a coherent conclusion: the restriction of the media, indiscriminate bombing of civilian areas in the latter stages of the war and the general ‘war on terror’ rhetoric employed by a powerful fraternity at the top. As a tamil having lived in Colombo, I think Ms. Roy is extremely unjustified in calling the Sinhalese people racist. They are definitely not and there are certainly two sides to this story, a fact that Ms. Roy has conveniently ignored.

However, as a democratically elected entity, I strongly believe that the government of Sri Lanka is not taking itself or its commitments seriously. The recent medical supplies sent to hospitals in the north did not contain basic items such as anasthetic and others required to perform minor operations. When most affected civilians suffer from shrapnel wounds, this is an absolute necessity to save lives. Aid is restricted, the media is restricted and it is still uncertain whether the mercy mission to Vanni will be allowed to deliver on ground. The government’s actions lack the key ingredient of transparency. Things could very well be not as bad as people such as Ms. Roy think. However, it is ultimately up to the Sri Lankan government to prove with simple steps likes allowing access to the media and aid organisations the real plight of the people trapped in the north and east.

The LTTE are certainly to be held responsible for this mess but somehow it seems worse to see the government of Sri Lanka stooping to the level of the very terrorists they condemn.

2009-04-03 14:10:47

I agree

 
 
2009-04-15 12:03:22

Indi: I’ve known you to make some pretty uninformed, sweeping statements too. And for the most part, we’re all absolutists when it comes to our opinions. We only notice it about others as always, and never about ourselves.

I think there was once a time when you yourself said it was so silly that the GoSL tried to justify all the horrible, unlawful things it did in the name of defeating the terrorists by saying ‘Oh what about all the stuff the LTTE is doing?’. Don’t forget that you once believed that it’s absurd for the military that represents a state to take its moral standards from a bunch of ruthless terrorists. The government, and yes I understand the difficulty of its position, has not been fair as a government, to its people. It’s ONLY job is not to fight the war, where as for the terrorists, they can afford to make that their only priority. It’s main job is to run a democratic nation. The GoSL has worsened the way it looks to everyone by creating an atmosphere where everything can be justified because it is ‘winning’ the war. It has banished the media and the INGOS. It has threatened everyone who isn’t ‘with’ them. So it is tyrannical. You cannot say this is untrue. Of course I realise the situation is not black and white. But let’s not forget.

Having to work with a government is one thing, and I completely agree with you on this point, but supporting them is quite something else.

2009-04-16 01:17:34

As a blogger I just write stream of consciousness sometimes. When I write for print or a specific audience I edit and look stuff up. I would never submit something so half baked to the Times Of India.

I do support my elected government. I want it to succeed. I consider myself loyal opposition.

I don’t even think tyranny is the biggest problem anymore, I think apathy is. Not apathy as in complaining, I mean apathy in actually doing something. I’ve tried to do stuff and people who complained the most didn’t help. People I never expected support from have. It’s changing my perspective.

 
 
stephanie
2009-04-15 23:03:39

indi,
quick question

if those in the so-called ‘safe zone’ were sinhala and were held “hostage” by the LTTE do you think the GOSL would be bombing & shelling them not allowing adequate food & medicine to be taken to them?

you probably won’t answer, but we all know the answer don’t we?

this is why the Govt is considered racist and it is genocide

2009-04-16 01:24:42

I don’t know. During the two (largely) Sinhala JVP insurrection about 65,000 people were killed, mostly Sinhala, mostly youth. The government certainly didn’t hold back on any racial grounds. If it makes you feel any better, they’ve been horrid to everyone.

If there was another southern insurrection I think they would probably kill the shit out of Sinhala people again. It’s a hypothetical, dunno.

I’m not sure where you go with the racist/genocidal argument. Then what? Overthrow the government? Who’s going to protect people from the LTTE? Who’s going to run the hospitals? What positive action to actually improve Sri Lankan lives comes out of your arguments?

Vadakathayan
2009-04-20 04:45:11

The GoSL did not deploy the air force against the South, as far as I can remember. Shooting people from the ground is different from bombing their houses from the air by several orders of magnitude.

There’re two ways of explaining this. If one wanted to give Sri Lanka the benefit of the doubt, one might say that Sri Lanka didn’t need to use the air force against the South, because the JVP were never as organised a militia as the LTTE. If one doen’t want to give Sri Lanka the benefit of the doubt, one might say that heavy artillery and aerial bombardment were used against the North in ’86 and ’87, when the LTTE wasn’t that much more of a threat than the JVP was during its insurrections, and that operations against the JVP weren’t accompanied by the sort of “glorious Sinhala kingdom overcoming its enemies” imagery that’s shown up time and again in anti-LTTE operations. Ergo, racism.

I’ll rephrase Stephanie’s question the way I hear it tossed out by the more thoughtful sections of the diaspora: “If a few ten thousand Sinhalese were boxed into a few square miles around Hambantota, with scores dying in the crossfire, would they be setting off as many firecrackers in Colombo?” Your typical member of the diaspora would say the answer is obviously, “No” – and that is why they’d see trying to work with the GoSL as being a non-starter. They genuinely believe the Sri Lankan state will never voluntarily let the Tamils live in peace as equal members of the Sri Lankan polity.

Where are they going with the racist / genocidal argument? Digging in for the long run, mostly. Preparing to move the campaign from a military one to one focused more on political lobbying, boycott moves and so on, to put suffocating pressure on Sri Lanka, forcing it to grant equality or self-determination.

So, is the diaspora’s narrative true? I’m not inclined to speak my mind on this blog, but I’ll say this: at the end of the day, if you guys win the local Tamils over to your side, what the diaspora thinks doesn’t matter a whit. That was the formula India used in Punjab – a brutal military operation which destroys the militants, followed by an earnest normalisation campaign which makes a significant number of symbolic concessions and wins back the loyalty of the civilians, thereby rendering the more extremist elements in the diaspora irrelevant. If you guys manage to successfully steer the country away from Sinhala triumphalism (or the variant that “We’ve broken the Tamils’ will so thoroughly that they simply will not have the strength to produce a new generation of militants”) and use the victory to really reach out to the Tamils, you’ll have falsified the diaspora’s narrative.

(Comments wont nest below this level)
2009-04-20 14:16:07

Frankly, I see no difference between bombing and shooting — however, many people do think one or the other is more acceptable. Wonder what the dead think. About the use of arty and airstrikes — the only reason these weren’t used against the JVP in ’87-’89 (they were used in ’71) was because there was no defined JVP territory in the same way that there is an LTTE territory. You could take a village, and support for the JVP or the GoSL would differ from street to street, house to house, etc. So it wasn’t ethics that prevented the use of heavy support weapons in the south or racism that encouraged their use in the north. If the GoSL and the Army could’ve found more efficient ways to kill the JVPers, believe me, they’d have used them. Consider this — between 60,000-75,000 Sri Lankans died in the three years of the JVP insurrection, and 70,000-80,000 have died in the 30 years of the NE war. That’s an attrition rate of approximately 10:1. Imagine if 750,000 had died in the NE — 2.5% of the population if you expand the ’87-’89 attrition rate to a 30-year timeframe.

I have no doubt that the GoSL would have used arty and airstrikes on a Sinhalese terrorist group holding Sinhalese civilians who were once part of their support base.

 
2009-04-20 15:57:14

This is obviously not a positive statement in any way. It’s actually quite terrible, but the GoSL has been incredibly brutal to any insurrection, regardless of race.

As Blacker says, if there was a JVP uprising confined to a small point on the Southern Coast I’m pretty sure they’d bomb this shit out of it.

This is not positive though. As you say Vadakathayan, I think we really have to win over the Tamil people here. We have to rush relief there now, followed by rehabilitation and development. We have to respect and care for them as fellow Sri Lankans. I hope in time the diaspora will contribute to development rather than destruction.

 
Vadakathayan
2009-04-20 19:42:28

David / Indi : That’s more or less what I described as being the viewpoint that gives the GoSL the benefit of the doubt. Thanks for the figures, which I’ve filed away for future use. As you say, David, until the recent offensive, we simply didn’t see the daily quotas of dead bodies by the roadside that was a common feature of the JVP period. White vans are a world away.

 
 
 
 
rajivmw
2009-04-17 01:29:17

Oh God, Stephanie.

First at groundviews, now here.

You really think you’ve nailed it with this one, don’t you? You’ve found the smoking gun, the bloodied gloves, the lipstick on the collar. Why, it’s elementary, my dear Sinhalese fascists. The Goverment of Sri Lanka committed genocide in the conservatory with the lead pipe.

But let’s stick the facts, ma’am. All you have is a ludicrous hypothetical based on a bad case of apples and oranges. It provides incontrovertible proof of only one thing: that you really haven’t a clue.

 
kumara
2009-04-18 17:18:49

Her critics may say whatever, but the fact is, arundhati roy’s article (reproduced subsequently in mainstream international media including The Guardian) is far more likely to make an impact at the ground level, and compel GOSL to atleast make some kind of token attempt at a ceasefire to facilitate civilian evacuation. Something a “veteran of the Sri Lankan blogosphere ‘ like yourself may not be able to achieve.
The quote from her article published here seems to highlight exactly what needs to be redressed. Roy may have her critics, but like it or not, she’s a Booker prize winner and a journalist who has been published by some of the most credible publications in the world. Her’s is a south asian voice that the international community at large and the global media will find hard to ignore . If others like her speak up who knows it just may pressurise GOSL into acting a little more responsibly in the way it conducts the war.. Even you cannot deny that a temporary ceasefire that allows trapped civilians some respite is essential at this point. As is the restoration of some semblance of media freedom.

 
2009-04-19 12:17:13

Er, that’s great, but the international community and global media have fuck-all influence here. This blog doesn’t have much influence either. What does is, like, Lankadeepa.

I do agree with giving civilians a chance to get out and immediate relief. I don’t agree with antagonizing the government.

I also think it’s incredibly arrogant and simply unrealistic to think that an english-language Indian editorial is going to influence anything here. Most Sri Lankans haven’t heard of Arundhati Roy. If there is any influence or change it has to come from the Sri Lankan people. They may not have awards, but they do have a vote, and the ability to participate. I sincerely believe that change has to come from us.

Vadakathayan
2009-04-20 03:38:01

There’s influence and there’s influence. No disrespect to the SLA, but at the end of the day, the international community’s crackdown on the LTTE’s funding streams is a quite an important reason they’ve crumbled as they have. Elements within the diaspora are lobbying for sanctions against Sri Lanka that have a similar effect – and, at a lower level, for tourist boycotts of the sort we’ve seen against Burma. If that’s your goal, things like Roy’s editorial help.

 
2009-04-20 11:32:15

How’s that Burma boycott going? How’s it going in Cuba?

How does it help to hurt Sri Lankan people and businesses? All that does is embolden the isolationist forces in our midst, strengthen the totalitarian elements of the state and impoverish people.

I do not support sanctions against Sri Lanka, I think we need more engagement and development, especially in the North and East.

 
 
Heather
2009-09-10 04:29:51

In any conflict, it helps to have intellectuals who can speak with spirit in favor of one side or another. It gives a relatively peaceful body to the chaotic atoms of feeling bouncing around during a war (relative to actual physical violence). While she might be less informed on some of the finer details you mentioned, and quite obviously not lending an actual fleshly support to the side she supports, her words as a respected authoress can be viewed still as very valuable. They propel thought, which may very well lead to action, which could conform the situation closer to the ideal she expressed of resolution and peace.

You can easily knock most article writers and well-spoken famous individuals who support political/moral ideals for not being the hands of feet of any tangible change. But they will keep writing and speaking, and we all will keep listening, but there is a need for this kind of exchange. Because we are not purely physical creatures. They lend logic and purpose to what the rest of know is the right thing to do.

How is this irresponsible? How is this lame? I didn’t really see you give examples of consequences from her words. Really, it seemed you were knit-picking discrepancies and cheapening the expression of principles and ideals through words. No, words aren’t tangible, but they surround, define and sometimes create tangibility. Elegant persuasion is a gift, and I think Arundhati Roy uses hers well.

 
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