Worst. Journalism. Ever.
Mona Sarika wrote an article in the Huffington Post and cited me as Tamil. I’m not. I repeatedly told her so. She also makes up whole parts of my quotes and changes them to say something completely radical and different. In her article she writes “I spoke to many Sri Lankan Tamils, but most of them were reluctant to divulge any information fearing government reprisals. However, a few did respond. One was Indi Samarajiva”. Literally the first email response I gave her was ‘I’m not Tamil.’ And then she calls me Tamil and puts different words in my mouth. It’s absolutely terrible journalism and the Huffington Post should be ashamed.
This started when this Mona woman contacted me to see how Tamils are feeling. I told her I’m not Tamil, bcc’d some Tamil friends and told her to ask them. She contacted me again and I called some people, gave her what I observed on background and actually phoned and lobbied Tamil friends to respond. Most didn’t but I tried. And then she publishes this article which cites me as a Tamil, makes up words for me and plagiarizes from the Economist. When I told her in every single email that I was not. Either she can’t read or she’s incredibly stupid. It’s shocking really.
This is two answers I gave her:
How are Srilankan Tamils responding to the crisis?
First off Sri Lankan is two words. And it is no longer a crisis per se.
Sri Lankan Tamils did not celebrate as much as Sinhalese and Muslims did. The few I’ve spoken to are grieving for friends and relatives in the North. They are basically keeping quiet. In private I think some do regret the LTTE losing. Many simply feel like there is no ‘balance’ now, no counterweight to the radical Sinhala elements in the state (no matter how terrible the LTTE was).
I’d say the response is generally quiet and discreet. The Sri Lankan Tamils I know are anxious for their own safety and they keep quiet. They do help with relief, but they do so very discreetly.
How do they handle the emotional weight?
I don’t know. That’s a stupid question. I have no particular knowledge of the emotional state of Tamil people. It’s Sri Lanka. People deal with death and messed up stuff all the time. Tsunami, terrorism, war, whatever. We’re a hardy people. We deal.
And this is what she wrote:
I spoke to many Sri Lankan Tamils, but most of them were reluctant to divulge any information fearing government reprisals. However, a few did respond. One was Indi Samarajiva, a print media analyst based in Colombo who said “Sri Lankan Tamils fearing their own safety were grieving quietly for their friends and relatives killed in the war. Some even regretted the demise of the LTTE (no matter how terrible the LTTE was) as it had provided a formidable counterweight to the radical Sinhalese government.” When asked how the Tamils were handling the loss of their loved ones, he retorted with pride that “We are hardy people who know how to cope with death and destruction all the time.” He cited the examples of the devastating tsunami, and the decade long civil war.
As you can see, her article is complete nonsense and I’m amazed that the Huffington Post published it. Any Sri Lankan or even Indian should be able to read my name and figure out that I’m not Tamil. And she’s making up quotes from a written interview where she could easily copy and paste. As in, rewriting them to mean something else entirely. But citing a Sinhalese as a Tamil after he repeatedly points this out, please. I don’t think Mona Sarika should be writing for the Huffington Post at all and I’ve complained.
Also, however, one commenter said I shouldn’t have answered the questions at all. I think perhaps they’re right. Sri Lankan Tamils need to speak for themselves, I feel like I shouldn’t have corresponded with this unscrupulous person at all.
Wtf, I think she’s also implying that Nalaka Gunawardena is Tamil, and he’s not either. I don’t think she’s … OMG WTF, she actually plagiarized an entire paragraph from the Economist as well.
For Rajan Hoole, a prominent Tamil human-rights activist, how the fighters died is less important than the government’s plans, if any, for post-war reconciliation. The war, he argues, has left the minorities feeling less Sri Lankan. So if the government does not act wisely, Tiger leaders might come to be seen as martyrs to the cause of a separate homeland. Sulochana Ramaiah, a Tamil journalist, hopes the end of the war heralds a new era of prosperity. But she worries that Tamils might have to live in fear under a pro-Sinhalese government that is now cockier than ever.
Rajan Hoole, a prominent Tamil human-rights activist feels the war has left the Tamils feeling less Sri Lankan. He says “If the government does not act wisely, the LTTE leaders might be seen as martyrs to the cause of a separate homeland.” Sulochana Ramaiah, a Tamil journalist worries that Tamils might have to live in fear under a pro-Sinhalese government that is now more powerful than ever.
Wow. Plagiarism, misidentifying races in a story about race, and manufacturing quotes based on written interviews. This is terrible journalism and I hope the Huffington Post does something about it. I thought this Mona Sarika was a bit slow from the start, but I like the Huffington Post and I tried to help. In hindsight I should’ve gone with my instincts. I think she’s editing the piece as I type but the whole thing should really be pulled. Arrghh. I can’t go back to sleep now. Bloody nightmare journalism.