JANUARY 2017

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- Suresh Jaura
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FOCUS: Battle of Words About Sinhala-Tamil Conflict

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By Global Editors - IDN

The article headlined which was published in IDN on April 9, 2012, has aroused sharp reactions among representatives of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) overseas.

Sandy Vadi in Toronto, Canada writes:

"I found 'Sri Lanka battles human rights campaigners' quite appalling to read about the 'peace and steaming rebuilding process in Sri Lanka'. I am not sure if the article would appeal to anyone who is well acquainted with world politics and Sri Lanka's current state of affairs, because even as I read this, I stopped at every paragraph to pray.

"As I write this, an abducted activist confirmed that he was abducted by the Sri Lankan government forces, embarrassingly handcuffed and sexually tortured. Only the media pressure and the intervention of the Australian High Commission are the reasons for his being still alive.

"This incident is just a tip of the iceberg of so many white-van abductions allegedly by Sri Lankan military, as the list of brave journalists goes endless from the Sunday Leader Chief Editor Lasantha Wickrematunga, Richard De Soysa, Sivaram alias Taraki, BBC stringer Nimalarajan, Thinamurasu editor Atputharajah, Veerakesari correspondent in Batticaloa Aiyathurai Nadesan....up to Cartoonist Prageeth Ekneliyagoda's uncertain fate now.

"Interestingly, the article quotes former chairman of Lakehouse Publications, a state owned mouthpiece for the propagation of ruling members' agenda, who is a good example for some of the Sri Lankan journalists and others willing to share the state wealth and climb the social ladders at the expense of right to freedom of expression in the country.

"Please note, the 'steaming rebuilding process' is primarily designed to facilitate a permanent military occupation, free movement to vendors from South and to effect a full speed change in demography of the Tamil traditional areas. Many of the foreign guests who interact with the state beneficiaries and lackeys do not even know that the Governors for both North and East provinces are from ex-military officials (alleged with war brutalities), and all the decision making lies in the hands of these officials.

"In Sri Lanka, in addition to the white van abductions and arbitrary killings, Tamil minority is singled out to face these abuses simply and solely on account of their Tamil nationality. The UN Panel Report blamed the Sri Lankan Government for restricting the essential items of food and medicine for Tamils, resulting in large numbers of people dying from starvation and many of the injured bleeding to death. Former President J. R. Jayewardene was quoted in the Daily Telegraph as far as back in 1983 as saying "Really, if I starve the Tamils, the Sinhala people will be happy."

"He was proved right during the starvation of civilians in 2009."

Kalinga Seneviratne, who wrote the article headlined Sri Lanka and Human Rights Campaigners, responds:

"I'm not surprised that the above writer finds my article 'appalling'. He has obviously become a victim of his own propaganda which is well reflected in what he's written.

"The recent 'abduction' allegations about a person called Kumaran Gunaratnam whom he refers to is a classic example of expat LTTE propaganda against the Rajapakse regime. It was later admitted by the Australian embassy in Colombo that no such person exists and the person who was allegedly abducted was one Noel Mudalige who has obtained an Australian passport after changing his former name in Sri Lanka. So Kumaran will remain a missing person for ever in LTTE propaganda list.

"Speaking on a TV program in Sri Lanka Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse said that organizations talking about Human Rights should look into matters of this nature without criticizing the government always, and find out how many people who claim to be missing must be in Canada and Australia under different names.

"The writer also talks about the Sinhalese colonisation of the Tamil land in the north and east. Today some 40 percent of the population of Colombo are Tamils, and during the civil war Tamils were fleeing in their thousands to the safety of Sinhalese areas in the south so that their teenage children will not be abducted by LTTE to become child soldiers. Over 60 percent of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka live among the Sinhalese. They work, do business and their children go to government funded schools and get a free education. So what is wrong for Sinhalese to go and settle in the north and do the same?

"Isn't it a racist concept to claim that no Sinhalese should go and settle in the Tamil areas of the north and when Tamils are allowed to come, buy land and settle anywhere in Sri Lanka?

"Corruption is a huge problem in Sri Lanka and allegations within the country are not restricted to the Rajapakse family. Former Tamil rebels, Chief Minister of the Eastern Province Pillayan, Cabinet Ministers Karuna (former LTTE eastern commander) and Douglas Devananthan are all accused of corruption. If we are to fight corruption in the country it has to be divorced from this racist idea that it is part of the human rights struggle of the Tamils. The poor Sinhalese Buddhist villagers in the south are the worse effected.

"Both Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka are capable of solving their own problems if the outsiders with vested interests or hatred for the Sri Lankan people keep out of their way . Rather than wasting your money in churning out propaganda material for the western media, I hope your expat Tamil organisations will do well to invest in rebuilding the infrastructure of the north and the east of the country so that the Tamils (and Sinhalese) living there would have a better future."

[Source: IDN-InDepthNews | Analysis That Matters]

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