Thursday, June 30, 2005

LTTE Offers Ultimatum

I managed to get my hands on a tape of Thamilchelvan's statement to the press today in Kilinochchi. This was the press conference at which he said that the Government of Sri Lanka would have 2 weeks to ensure the safety of LTTE cadre travelling through their area.

The meeting followed a June 26th incident in Welikanda (in Government held areas, a critical entry point to the Batticaloa district) where an explosion rocked a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) bus that was carrying LTTE personnel. No one was seriously hurt as the explosive device detonated away from the bus.

In February this year the LTTE's Eastern leader Kaushalyan was killed in the same area when the vehicle in which he was travelling in was attacked. This incident got a lot of attention because he was in Government held areas without informing the SLA (which they are supposed to do under the Ceasefire Agreement [CFA])

In the case of the 'attack' on the bus, the LTTE had informed the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) of their movement and it had been the SLMM who had made the arrangements with the SLA.

Moving beyond the facts and what we know, my personal opinion is that the LTTE are very serious.

But what about? That seems to be the question.

The 'ultimatum' they issues says that if the SLA does not assure protection for their people while in Government held areas then they are going to provide armed escorts to their people. Under the CFA armed LTTE cadre cannot enter SLA controlled areas. So if they insist that they must travel with their own armed escort then they're just going to have to sit on their asses in Kilinochchi and chill out. No more travelling through Government held areas. They have also threatened to restrict the activities of SLA soldiers through LTTE held areas. But this is really no big deal. There are hardly any SLA soldiers moving through LTTE held areas.

I don't really think this is going to have a big impact on the CFA. Yes, there will be LTTE troop movement in and out of and through Government held areas, while SLA troops will not be able to enter LTTE areas. They'll just have to deal with that.

Let's look at things practically. How is the SLA going to ensure the safety of LTTE troops travelling through their areas? Are they going to put seatbelts on all the seats on the busses? Are they going to sweep the roads for bugs and mines before the bus comes through?

Really, what Thamilchelvam and the LTTE should be asking for is a complete end to the violence.

But making the statement today Thamilchelvam looked very serious. He looked like he was quite mad. Either he really meant it or he'd been taking acting classes since we last saw him.

Right now, everyone is hoping this does not turn out like 95.


More Killings

Trouble trouble trouble has been brewing in Sri Lanka for the past few days. With all this talk of war and such, today's assassination of 3 Sri Lanka Army people in Urani is not good.

Yaaro says that there's nothing to point out that the LTTE did it, or had any hand in it, and that even if it was the LTTE, then the leadership had nothing to do with ordering the attack.

I would like to disagree with that to a certain extent. In the same way that the S P Thamilchelvan, the Leader of the LTTE's political wing says that the attack on the LTTE convoy in Welikanda could not have been carried out without the knowledge or support of the Sri Lanka Army, an attack as such that occured in Urani today could not be carried out without the knowledge or support of the LTTE. Well, maybe it could have not had any LTTE involvement if it had been someone in the Army who had a score to settle if one of the people who was killed, but that seems unlikely.

Now let me dig an old grave to make my point.

Can you remember that time Kaushalyan (former LTTE leader for the East) was killed? (again in Welikanda). The LTTE said it could not have been done without the knowledge and the help of the Sri Lanka army. What about those rumors that it might have been LTTE leader Prabhakaran who had Kaushalyan killed because Kaushalyan was becoming too popular with the people of the East? Everyone knew Kaushalyan was an accomplished and respected person. Even the few Tamil people on the East coast who did not agree with the LTTE's politics or methods, often said that Kaushalyan was someone they felt they could have a discussion with. This was something we heard again and again from the East. Kaushalyan saw his popularity rise to unprecedented levels in the post-Tsunami period, and there are many who believe that this would have been enough to trigger off a few alarms in Mullaitivu. So there is enough to build a case to say Prabhakaran had Kaushalyan killed.

In the same way, Maj. Muthalif (Army Intelligence) who was killed in Colombo could have been killed by the Sri Lanka Army themselves. There are certain things about the case that jump out at you. Where were his bodyguards who were supposed to have been supplied by the Army? Why aren't the police really digging the case? The media buzzed for a few days that Maj. Muthalif had been working on something that was out of the Government's line, and that this is why they needed him out of the way. This case seems to have died a premature death because no one seems to want it dug up and unravelled.

Another interesting things that not many people have noticed is how many intelligence people have been killed after the ceasefire. Now don't jump up and down thinking I'm only talking about the Sri Lanka Army's list of their people who have been killed, it's accepted that several LTTE intelligence operatives have been killed in various parts of the island, including 2 in Colombo a few weeks ago. Could it be that the Sri Lanka Army and the LTTE have traded lists of intelligence operatives? How else could both groups so systematically (albeit tactlessly) kill of each othere's intell people? Call me a conspiracy theorist, but why is this so hard to believe? We know someone inside the Army burned the Deep Penetration Unit (DPU) project which the Army was running to hit strategic targets deep inside LTTE areas. That was clearly the Military purging it's own ranks. In the same was the Government saw the DPU's usefulness end and sold them out, the LTTE no longer needs the services of all the proxies who ran information for them in Government areas.

Anyways, my point is that in the present situation, when we are in a low-intensity conflict that frequently flares up, there's really no telling who's killing who. There could be a million theories and all of them could be wrong. Both Tamilnet and the Army's Brig. Dayarathne can say the LTTE did it or the Army did it, but their words have lost weight. No one gives a damn about what they say anymore.

And as for the general public, if an LTTE guys gets killed, then the Army did it. If an Army guy gets killed, then the LTTE did it.

When will people realise that this is not so black and white?


Talking of Sivaram

A few days ago it was 2 months since journalist Sivaram Dharmeratnam a.k.a. Taraki was abducted and murdered. The Police have arrested several former PLOTE members in connection with this killing but there is general concern that the investigation is being 'killed' to protect certain interests close to the Government who have seen Sivaram and his work as a threat. This concern stems from the fact that there was a distinct group within the politico-military powerstructure of the Sri Lanka Government who continually plagued Sivaram's life.

A small activity, a resurgence of sorts, was planned for the night of the 27th, to remind people of this tragedy but due to organisational problems nothing was done. We hope that something will happen this weekend.

For now I have something Yaaro wrote and contributed, to remind us of another time, another person a similar tragedy.

(The only editing I have done is to break it into paragraphs to make it more readable)
Talking of Sivaram

I know very little about this guy and his articles. From what I’ve read, it
looks like he was clearly an outspoken Tamil who wasn’t afraid of being hunted
down as he was quite open about his support for the LTTE. Perhaps someone I no
more about is Richard De Soysa. An unbiased journalist and dramatist. The day
after he wrote an article, voicing a different opinion to the government’s,
someone came knocking on his door the very next morning. His mom, Dr.Manorani
Saravanamuttu (fondly known as 'Babia Mami' to my family) said that she first
refused to open the door without identification but was forced when a gun was
pointed at her. When she opened the door , ‘thugs’ came barging into their
house. Well, not quite ‘thugs’, they were CID officials + cops (in uniform of
course) , and asked for Richard.

He came downstairs to see who was at the door and realised immediately that
something was wrong. In a situation like this, what would you do? Call up the
Police. You guessed right but he was (un)lucky because they were right there in
front of him! Immediately 'Babia Mami' got in front of him and hugged him as
tight as she could she said because she knew they were there to take him. They
dragged him out of her arms and that was all she saw of her son. Her whole life
falling apart right in front of her eyes and she couldn’t do anything but watch
it crumble into pieces.

His body was found in Lunawa beach the following morning. I was a kid when
this happened and little did I know about the sinhala-tamil divide at the time.
Lots of people didn’t turn up at the funeral because they were afraid that they
would be recorded and handed over to the CID. One thing I know was that Richard
wasn’t for either the LTTE or the Gov.

I read some of his articles when I was older. Despite his relative youth,
he knew all the top Sri Lankan politicians personally -- even President
Premadasa. He was employed fulltime as a corresondant of the Rome-based Inter
Press Service, an international news agency focused on a Third World market. But
he was also an outspoken and respected actor and a fixture in Colombo's artistic

He couldn’t speak a word of Tamil if I remember well. But it struck me one
day. . .the day I went to see 'Babia Mami' on her deathbed. My mom said that she
had been like this for some time. Apparently she slipped into it after long
after Richard’s death. long after fighting for justice. She didn’t give up
easily though. She filed a case. Against who? The police? I think she knew she
didn’t stand a chance. Everyone knew who did the job, they even had names( a job
well done indeed) and she still couldn’t convince them. B**t**ds! I would have
finished off by saying ‘Yet another mother who sacrificed her son to this ill

But it wasn’t the war in her case.

It was politics.

P.S: Did I mention that Richard was her only child

I'd like to leave you with this . . .the second half of an article from the
LA Times

The word was out that De Zoysa had helped produce a satirical play that was
savagely critical of Premadasa, who has been so sensitive to personal criticism
that he has barred at least two foreign journalists from Sri Lanka simply for
writing about his low-caste roots.

The contraversial play was called "Who is He and What is He Doing?" But the
curtain never went up. The night before its February debut, producer Lakshman
Perera, an openly critical member of Premadasa's ruling party, disappeared and
is now believed to have been murdered.

It was the next morning that the armed men appeared at De Zoysa's mother's
fornt door, demanding to see her son."I'm not a fool," Saravanamuttu, a
prominent physician and daughter of a former Sri Lankan diplomat, told The Times
in an interview this week. "I'm a doctor. I've lived for a long time. I've
worked with police on investigations."[One] man was in full police uniform, but
I demanded to see some identification. He said, 'I.D. cards aren't necessary. If
you don't let us in, we'll shoot you.' I had no choice, and minutes later, they
took Richard away."

Saravanamuttu said that she, her houseboy and neighbors gave detailed
descriptions of at least two of the men to police, and the houseboy gave the
license number of the jeep used to take De Zoysa away. But she and her lawyer,
Weerakoon, charge that police have done nothing to trace them.

"They just want to cover this whole thing up," Weerakoon said. "It's right
from the top."Police Supt. Gamini Perera, Colombo's chief of detectives and the
head of the De Soysa investigation, insists that his men are trying to find the
killers, although he denies that the witnesses gave police any physical

Asked whether he has been under political pressure in the case, Perera
declared: "Absolutely not.

"President Premadasa, who has been the focus of popular speculation about
the case, has cast himself as a friend and sympathizer of the De Zoysa's

Saravanamuttu said she will keep pressing. "I'm just not going to give this
thing up without a fight," she vowed, saying that she will countinue her court
battle to push the police investigation "no matter where it leads.

"Then her anger subsided for a moment, and she added, "There is another
side to this, you know. I am really very lucky."In fact, I feel I'm the luckiest
mother in Sri Lanka, because at least I got my son's body back. I could give
Richard a decent funeral and, as hard as this sounds, at least I know he's
really dead. "There are thousands of other mothers out there who jsut don't
know, who are still simply sitting there and waiting."

Doesn't compare to what happened to Sivaram. If the people who took Sivaram
justify their cause by saying that he encouraged 'terrorists' what should
Richard's abductors' excuse be? You tell me

Footnote: Richard's mother identified one of her son's abductors on TV. The suspect Ronnie Gunasinha was a bodyguard of President Premadasa and was one of those killed in the explosion that killed the President on 1st of May 1993.

No one else has ever been arrested for Richard's murder. Like Yaaro, I too was very small when Richard was abducted and killed. All I know about him is what I have found out later, from people who knew him and from reading some of his material. I still have a T-Shirt with Richard on it that says 'Freedom from Fear'. I was very small when I first wore it, but I wore it with pride.

Here's what I wrote about the Richard and other murdered Sri Lankan journalists for DesiMediaBitch to celebrate World Press Freedom day this year, a few days after Sivaram's murder.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Homeland etc...

I would like to respond to a comment let by an Anonymous person to an earlier post. He/She was actually responding to a comment left by another Anonymous person.

Primarily I would like to let both these persons know that Anonymous comments are not taken seriously. If you have something valid to say put a name on it. You have the option to use a pseudonym, just in case you're worried about people hunting you down. But there were a few things in this particular comment that I thought needed some clarification.

Thing A:
Again you know jolly well that there was ONE Tamil kingdom.
What I say: No we don't jolly well know anything. What we know about history is what historians with their own political biases tell us. If you want to trust them, go ahead. But don't assume that we jolly well know anything. Same goes for all those people who say we know jolly well that this island was the traditional homeland of the Sinhalese.

Moving on to my general opinion about this whole 'traditional homeland' thing, It's bullshit. Why do I say this? This is based on the same probably-skewed historical data that you quote. According to that what we jolly well know is that both the Sinhala and Tamil people are invaders to this island. So none of these groups can call this their homeland.

The only group who can call this their homeland are the Veddas. But there's not many of them left are there?. I don't see them taking up arms and calling this place their homeland.

Think about it. The fact remains that both the Sinhala and Tamils are on this godforsaken island now. It's not right to ask either group to get out, though that would be the logical thing to do, considering what they have been upto. It's also not right to allow one group to claim one part of the island as their own, or in the case of the Sinhala people, the whole island.

So, this homeland thing is a myth. Move beyond it. Grow up.

Thing B:
The only thing I have to say to Muslims Tamil is that they must remember if not for the sacrifice of the LTTE (and other groups) they as a minority group would have been decimated a long time ago by the Sinhalese.
What I say: Oh really? Do you want to tell this to the Muslims who were expelled from the North by the LTTE? Do you know anyone who was among them? Have a conversation. They'll bring you back to reality. Also go meet the women of Sungawila, a Muslim village in the North Central Province where the LTTE rounded up all the men and killed them.

Let's not whitewash the LTTE. Whatever the LTTE may or may not have done, good or bad, they have most certainly not been champions of the Muslim cause.


Open For Contributors

Me just rambling on and on is no fun right?

And other people like Kevin, Lohan, Anon Anon (who really needs to get a name!) Yaaro and Ivap also have very very interesting things to say. (The names I forgot, don't hate me, I'm just starving and posting this before I run for lunch, so no time for a comprehensive list).

If anyone else is interested there are 2 options:

A) You can write it in to and as long as it's the kind of stuff that Nittewa's about, I will publish it unedited. But you have to give me a name, even a fake clever one like Ivap. Your email address will not be displayed unless you request it, and NO I will not sell it to a marketing company.

B) Get a Blogger account at (it's easier than getting an email account!) and send me an email to let me know about it. Then I will send you an invite and you can become a permanent contributor. Write all you want, unedited.

There are however, a few conditions for contributing.

Commenting will be allowed on ALL posts. Everything said here is open for discussion. If you want to say something and not be interested in what others have to say about it, however rabid and opposed to your opinion they may be, go away.

This is about Sri Lankan Politics. Please keep that in mind.

If/when other people begin writing, other issues will arise. We'll deal with those on a case by case basis.

I look forward to having more opinions here.

Thanks to all.


Saturday, June 25, 2005

How the JM was won

I have refrained from commenting on the Joint Mechanism because I have been in deep depression about the whole incident.

On friday, when the JM document was brought before Parliament, the JVP did exactly what they were supposed to do. I don't know if they were playing along with Chandrika, or if they played right into her hands. They just did EXACTLY what she wanted done in Parliament that morning.

So Maithripala Sirisena, Leader of the House, tables the JM document and the JVP goes nuts. They crowd around him and ask him if it's been signed and he says no. And then the JVP begins to make a big noise and Parliament is adjourned till the 5th of July, with the debate on the JM not going anywhere, which is exactly how it was planned.

So then a whole set of Government Ministers hold a press briefing where the press are informed of what happened. The story goes like this:

"We told the people/mahanayakes/JVP that we wouldn't sign it without a debate in Parliament. We brought it to the Parliament today but the JVP would not let us talk about it. So we Signed it :)"

They conveniently put all the blame for this rather undemocratic action on the JVP. A solid, solid political move. Now the JVP don't have a leg on which to stand and say this was undemocratic because they didn't allow it to be discussed in Parliament.

That's all there's to say about the JM. It was a bloody anti-climax. No fanfare. No riots. They just bloody signed it and went back to their work.

But there's been some interesting stirring in the UNP camp.

A couple of days ago 3 UNP Parliamentarians went to meet Chandrika. Apparently they spoke about the need for setting up what has been called a 'national Government' a.k.a. Jathika Aanduwa (one in which the two big parties, the UNP and the PA form a united Government).

Yesterday the UNP had a sudden polit bureau meeting in their HQ and all Parliamentarians and UNP members were informed that any interaction with the Government, the PA or the President should only happen on the top level. Effectively all UNP Parliamentarians are banned from talking to the President or anyone in the Government. Not even going out for a drink :(

It seems the UNP is very worried about what the PA is going to do to win a few more seats in Parliament. Chandrika now has 5 empty Minister slots and 4 empty deputy minister slots (4 minister slots and 4 deputy minister slots left blank by the JVP quitting Government and the MoIM seat from when she fired Mangala).

Is she using these seats to entice a few UNP MPs to crossover to their side? It's been done before by both sides. Or will she offer these seats and a few more to the UNP and form a Mega Alliance Government? Will that be a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know yet. I haven't been able to make up my mind on that. Well, it'll screw the JVP over for sure.

Also, our friend G the Parliamentary correspondent tells me that on Friday, in the middle of the protestors and the JM and the whole mess, Mangala was seen yelling at a few PA Parliamentarians (including Dilan Perera, Chandrika's toyboy). He was not able to pick up the whole conversation, but felt it was very serious. They were not arguing about where to go for lunch. (You need better ears G!)

Is Mangala starting to lose it? Chandrika has been treating him not-very-nicely for the past few months. But then it was his mistake to make the friends he did. He did negotiate with the JVP to form the allaince, and this was made him useful to the UPFA Government primarily. But now with the JVP gone, and irrelevant, Mangala seems to have lost his uses too.

But where will he go? The UNP won't take him. The JVP won't take him? Methinks he'll just have to go back to fashion designing. Not that I think it's a bad thing.

Senaka de Silva will just have to shoot himself.


Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Wrong Again!

Just a little something I photoshopped this morning. I would love this on a T-Shirt.

Well, the word on the streets was wrong again. It doesn't look like the Joint Mechanism is going to be signed today either. Right now Vidar Helgesen is in Kilinochchi selling the final plan to the LTTE. It most certainly doesn't look like they're going to be signing anything today.

And Erik's not here either.

Last week a couple of newspapers reported that on Wednesday the 21st (today) the Joint Mechanism will be presented to Parliament. This was after Chandrika made her promise to the Mahanayakas that she wouldn't sign it without public debate.

Parliament sources say it's not going to be discussed in the house today. Three local newspapers have differing accounts. The Daily Mirror says it's not going to be brought before Parliament today, but it will be sometime this week. One of the Sinhala newspapers claim they have been told it will be brought to Parliament tomorrow and another one claims it will be friday (day after tomorrow).

Some people are starting to think she'll keep talking about it forever and never sign it.

Moving on to infinitely more important things, in a few days time (at the end of this month) the initial 6 month period decided on by the Government for immediate aid ends. This means the financial aid the displaced people were getting for rations, and the other immadiate aid they were getting is going to end with this month. Also the building of temporary shelters is going to stop at the same time.

This would have been OK if enough temporary shelters have been built. But the problem is they haven't. Many people, especially in Ampara, are still living in camps in tents. Quite a few of them have even been told that those are the temporary shelters they are going to have to live in until the permanent houses are built. The Ampara Government Agent has been intentionally downplaying the numbers of people living in camps and even the NGOs working in the area say their calculations are seriously affected because the GA keeps giving them wrong figures.

The Government hasn't yet realised the problems that will arise come the end of this month. This has to be the bloody height of shortsightedness. It's only when starving people begin protesting that the Government will see that they can't stop giving aid to the people just yet.


Saturday, June 18, 2005

When Will The Wait Be Over?

Hagar The Horrible, just a random cartoon that has little to do with this post

The word on the street is that the P-TOMS, better known as the Joint Mechanism, will be signed on the 22nd (or maybe even before that, which would make it tomorrow). But everyone thought it'll be signed on the 14th and everyone was wrong. Then we thought it would be signed on the 16th and we were wrong again. So this might also be another false rumor. But some other events are timed around this so this just might be the real deal.

Vidar Helgesen, Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway, is coming to the island tomorrow and Norwegian Special Envoy Erik Solheim is also on his way according to what we have heard. They will be meeting S P Thamilchelvam (Leader, Political Wing, LTTE) in Kilinochchi on the 22nd (Tuesday). Journalists have been asked, off the record, to be in Kilinochchi on the 22nd. the LTTE's media guy Dayanidhi "Daya Master" has extended this invitation to journalists on a one-on-one basis. So it's not really broken yet.

S P Thamichelvam, Erik Solheim and Vidar Helgesen

So I don't know if the Nordic hordes meeting the LTTE has anything to do with the Joint Mechanism. Maybe they're just coming to talk about it and drink some tea. But they are all meeting on the 22nd, and all we can do is hope something good comes out of it.


Thursday, June 16, 2005

Thus Spake Chandrika

No, she did not start on time. She started about a good half an hour late, which means they could have run my show and then some. But SLRC and SLBC were ready fro her from 6.30 playing stupid 'filler' songs on precious prime time air.

She started off her speech with a kind of a look back at her past 11 years in power (which is something she likes doing a lot, particularly since she has no future now). She said their Government, and she, had won four main things in those years.
  1. They abolished state tyranny, stopped abductions and executions and restored law and order so people could feel safe again.
  2. They rescused an out of control and spiralling-down economy and gave the country economic stability.
  3. They crushed corruption and completely abolished corruption and bribery in the upper ranks in the power structure.
  4. They laid the foundations for a negotiated settlement to the ethnic conflict and pursued a policy of peace-through-political-means.
At this point I fell asleep and asked my friend to wake me up when she got to the Joint Mechanism. I will not say anything about these 4 claims. Any of you may comment. Please feel free. Anon Anon, you too :)

About the joint she said several thing. I don't remember all of them because I was very sleepy (Next time something like this happens I will take notes) but here's what I remember:
  • The Joint Mechanism will force the LTTE to understand that they must work together with the Government, therefore it will not add to the power of the LTTE but will in fact disable them and erode their support base further.
  • It will not give the LTTE even a fraction of the control it wanted through the ISGA, which the UNP was ready to give to them.
  • If anyone thinks the Tamil people of this country do not have the same rights, or that the Government is not bound to offer them the same opportunities as anyone else, then they are racists.
  • No one can ask for instant peace. We need to heal wounds first. And things like this are needed to heal the wounds of 20 years of war.
  • If we don't do this the peace process has no future.
  • We will not sign this document without telling anyone, like the UNP did.
  • We will do whatever is necessary to establish the Joint Mechanism.
I remember there were a few more rather interesting things she said but I guess you'll have to read them in the newspapers tomorrow or something. I'll do an update after going through the newspapers tomorrow.

Moving on, what she said about the JVP was the best.
  • The JVP are idiots (Modayao) and they make stupid decisions.
  • They killed all the intellectuals in Sri Lanka in the 80s.
  • The Killed 135 people in my party in the 80s.
  • They're wishy washy, and change their stand all the time. They hated the Provincial Councils in the 80s and now they're dying to get into the bloody things.
  • They are racist because they only want things for the Sinhala people. They don't want to give anything to the Tamil people.
  • All the projects they said they did, including the 10,000 tanks were failures. Even the 300 tanks that were built were built by us.
  • I ask them to come back to the Government, it would be good to have them back. But even without them we will do this. They are irrelevant. We may lose a few in numbers but numbers in Parliament don't make a Government. We have the support of the people.
But what she said about the monks was the best thing.
  • Those racist elements who dress like Buddhist monks and try to tarnish the name of Buddhism will be dealt with severly, like they were dealt with the past few weeks.
Now moving to the Aesthetics. You guys should've seen her. She was wearing this horrible read Sari and the backdrop was this very very distracting white pattern and some stupid looking potted plant. They gave her a swivel chair and she kept turning around all the time. Looked nuts. I was seriously ashamed of her beiong the President of my country. Her hands were going all over the table and in one corner she found a yellow highligher that she had obviously been using to highlight things on her speech script (which she obviously wasn't sticking to) and then she started waving it around like it was a light sabre.

May the force be with her!


CBK to Address the Nation

I'm pissed off because my show for tonight just got pulled off air.

The President is going to 'address the nation' tonight at 6.30. Just got the call from the station. So my show's one of those which have been axed to H.E. Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunge time to tell the people what she is going to do now that the JVP has left her ruling coalition.

The two channels run by Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation (SLRC), Rupavahini and ChannelEYE will brodacast the speech on TV while all the stations run by the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) will do radio broadcasts of the speech. Sources at the President's office (who I got in touch partly for information and partly to scream at for getting my show cancelled) told me that they are trying to see if at least a few of the private broadcasters will want to relay the speech. Isn't that what happens in other countries when the head of the state wants to address the nation.

Anyways, let's see how things go. I will take notes and uploads little bits from what she says when possible. Let's see where she wants to take the Joint Mechanism and this country.


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

JVP Leaves Government

The JVP announced today that it had decided to leave the UPFA Government. They say this is because they have not received a favourable response from the Government to their demand to withdraw the proposed Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure, better known as the Joint Mechanism.

They have said they will bring together dissidents from the President's party and other parliamentarians to form another alliance soon. They have not yet stated whether they believe this alliance will be able to control Parliament. I seriously doubt if anyone major in the SLFP/UPFA is going to leave the party to join the JVP, but the JVP seems confident that they can win over some people.

Now that the UPFA no longer has the required number of seats to be in Government, it's upto Chandrika to see if she's going to broker a deal to get the support of the UNP even for a short while to sign the Joint Mechanism, or if she's going to dissolve Parliament and go for another general election.

Right now with the JVP out of power, god only knows what they will do to destabilize the situation in the country. What makes them scary is the fact that now they have infiltrated the Police and the Military way more than they had even back in 71. I know this is just a very paranoid thought, but if they decide to use this strength and maybe go for a coup or something like that, it just might work for them. But failure there would mean the end of the JVP so I don't think they're going to walk down that road just yet. They still have a few political options left, but if Chandrika is going to get the help of the UNP to get the Joint Mechanism through Parliament then all the JVP's shouting would have been pointless. As it is, all their protests seem to go into one ear and come out the next, for the President.


Divide and Rule

Lohan left a comment on my post about the Joint Mechanism where he said that when we leave space for discussions like 'ethnic composition in the High Level committee' we are actually adding to the divisions that already exist.

To a very large extent I agree with him. This is also why I'm not really sure whether we need a quota system in Parliament based on ethnicities or gender.

In an ideal Sri Lanka the Joint Mechanism would have an X number of seats and an X number of Sri Lankans would be chosen to fill them regardless of what ethnicity or religion they represented. But we have to face the fact that this is not an ideal situation. It is as about far from an ideal situation as possible.

After 40 years of discrimination and 20 years of armed conflict based solely on ethnicity, ethnic identities have become very important to Sri Lankans. Being the right ethnicity at the right time could open doors for you. Being the wrong ethnicity at the wrong time could get you killed. It means a lot to people right now. The entire power structure in Sri Lanka is spun around this exaggerated inflexible and concocted notion of ethnicity, and it is not easy to change that.

To keep ethnicity-based representation out of the Joint Mechansim, while ideal, is unrealistic. But this does not mean that I believe the importance of the ethnic identity needs to be fought. But it cannot be fought top down, by keeping ethnicity out of an agreement like the Joint Mechanism. The notion has become too entrenched in collective decision making and communal thought that to challenge it all at once, and to hope for success, is impossible. Also, political groups who use this notion to their benefit will not react favourably to any attempt to erode their enthnic-identity-based constituencies.

It needs to be fought up from the level of the individuals, and many Sri Lankans have been doing this.

It is sad that this country is so divided and that political groups have been maintaining these divisions for their own use, but right now the killing must end, and if we need to be divided to discuss peace, then so be it. Maybe whatever peace we achieve as a divided nation will not be a lasting peace, but once the killing has stopped, then we can think about erasing the divisions and taking steps towards a lasting peace.

I invite Lohan and Kevin and anyone else for more discussion on this.


Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Colombo Remains (Surprisingly) Calm

The JVP's rally in Colombo yesterday turned out to be quite a dud compared to what they were expecting. One JVPer I spoke to a couple of nights ago said they were quite confident they would be able to bring about 100,000 people to Colombo and make some waves. But they only managed to get about a tenth of that. Tamilnet says they had 10,000 people but the JVP says they had 25,000. I think the real figure would be somewhere around 15,000.

They marched from Campbell Park to the Lipton Circus and shouted their guts out and went back home. They didn't try to march to the president's house (like the pervious bunches of idiots did before they got hammered) because they had the sense to know the cops were just waiting for a chance to beat this shit out of them.


But it's when you look at where these people came from that you begin to reallly develop a sense of what a dud their rally was. There were also several other anti-Joint Mechanism meetings organised in Colombo yesterday. The Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), the Patriotic National Movement (PNM) and the National Bhikku Front (NBF) all had their big meetings in different parts of the city in the morning. In the afternoon many of the people who had been bussed into the city for these meetings also moved over to the JVP rally. This is what made the JVP look like it had the numbers they had (which was not very much).

The only thing the JVP proved in Colombo yesterday is that they are not as popular as they think they are, especially now that they have threatened to pull out of the Government. The people would much rather stick around and see what the JVP does tonight (when the deadline to quit expires) than join them for a protest. They were simply unable to mobilise the kind of support they are used to, and they know it.


So the big question in town is, whether the JVP is going to pull out of the Government. The deadline they set for themselves is midnight tonight.

Sirasa TV is actually taking bets on it. So far a lot of the people who have voted via SMS seem to think the JVP will quit. One person among those who predict it right stand to win a lot of money from Sirasa TV. They're doing it just to piss of the JVP which is something very high on their agenda, but it might be setting a very bad precedent.

Today the pro-JVP trade unions have organised a protest outside the Fort Railway Station and we don't know if it's going to turn violent. If it's anything like yesterday they'll just come and shout and go. But if they do decide to get smart like the guys last week then they'll try to march on the President's House to make a point and then they'll be beaten back.

Dambara Amila, the monk sitting outside the Fort Railway Station fasting is quite close to death say the doctors. But I don't really trust them. I met someone who was his gulping down a lime juice a few nights ago.

The docs say one of his kidneys packed up last night. But I don't think he's really going to die. He's going to get a little more sick, and then he's going to call it off. Let's look at the record of fatal fast-unto-death campaigns. Nil. No one in Sri Lanka's died fasting for a cause. And I don't think Dambara Amila has the balls to be the first.

(For those of you who are not familiar with the situation: the Government of Sri Lanka has proposed a Joint Mechanism to allow the rebel group LTTE to have a stake in the aid distribution process. Several ultra-nationalist groups are opposed to this agreement because they believe that it will help the LTTE's seperatist agenda. One of the groups opposed to the Joint Mechanism, the JVP is a key member of the ruling coalition and they have threatened to pull out of Government by midnight of the 14th of June 2005, if the President does not abandon the Joint Mechanism)


Picking Her Man...

One of the questions I brought up in what I wrote about the Joint Mechanism yesterday was 'Who's going to represent the Muslims in the High Level Committee and in the Regional Committee?'. I speculated that this would be a problem, particularly picking someone for the one Muslim seat in the High Level Committee, because the Muslims cannot decide about leadership amongst themselves.

But it seems I was wrong. The Muslims never had to make that decision. Chandrika did it for them!

The gossip about town is her man Javed Yusuf is going to have the Muslim seat in the High Level Committee. He has been a staunch SLFP supporter for a very long time and has been very tight with the prez herself. As far as she is concerned he is very loyal to her and to the party and will fall in line very quickly if things were to go wrong.

Yet I do not believe he's not a idiot who's willing to be her puppet. He has shown some definete leadership skills in the past and (a few weaknesses as well that I have personally witnessed but) seems to be the best guy for the job. I think ol' Javed has already been informed of Chandrika's decision, and according to sources, Javed has already managed to win over the only person who could challenge his leadership - Rauff Hakeem.

Don't know anything about who's going to get the other seats.


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Home Sweet Crumbling Down Home

Last week a set of 25 permanent houses which had been built for people who lost their homes in the tsunami were completed and distributed in Hambantota. This was one of the first set of permanent houses to be distributed.

Permanent mind you, not temporary. These were not wood and tin shacks but proper cement and brick houses in which these people were supposed to spend the rest of their lives. So the people who were going to get the keys to these houses came from the camps where they had been living for almost 6 months.

They took the keys at a big ceremony that was organised to distribute the houses, inspected the houses after the event, and went back to their tents in the camps. No, they have not fallen in love with life in the tent. Nor have they become so attached to spending so much of their time in a tiny confined space shared with about a dozen others.

They thought the permanent houses which had been built for them were structurally unsound and not at all safe for living in. A reporter who was there are the event and went around to few of the houses later, said that you could poke holes in the cement walls with a pen. The sand that had been used in the construction had been sand from the beach. We asked a engineer why sand from the sea cannot be used in constructions and he told us that since they contain a lot of minerals and salts, it hampers the bonding process in the cement. So basically, when you use sea sand in a cement mixture to build a wall, the cement is not as half as strong as it would have been if you had used river sand, which is what is generally used. But river sand is more expensive that sea sand. And their using sea sand in the construction means they knew nothing about building houses, and decided to cut a few corners. Not good.

So the people who got the houses have been complaining about this but the police don't seem to be willing to take some action against the people who built the houses. And they are actually continuing to build more houses using the same sand.

So we get to the big question. Who built the houses? Here's a name. Chamal Rajapaksa. Why does that sounf familiar? Because he's the PM's brother!! Oh my god the PM's brother (who's also a bit of a politician himself) gave himself the contract to build the houses and messed up big time!!! No wonder the cops don't want to catch him!!!

I'll continue to watch this for some time, but for now, the people have no houses.


Seriously, on the Joint Mechanism...

So, is the text put out by the Daily Mirror the text of the Joint Mechanism? I posted the whole thing earlier. Read it here. Let us for a moment assume that someone hasn't duped the Daily Mirror. The DM is a good newspaper, not perfect, but good, and I don't think you could dupe them as easily as Freddie Janz.

NOTE: I apologize to everyone at the Daily Mirror for having ripped off your article and published it online, but your website does not allow people to reads the news free and that is not a good thing. I believe this to be an important peice of information that people should have access to without paying for it. I'm sad to have done it, but don't regret it.

Now let me think about what I think about the document. Since the positives of any Joint Mechanism in which the Government and the LTTE work together are very obvious to anyone with one brain cell, let me nit pick and bring up some of the negatives here.

Let's see where groups like the JVP and the JHU will attack this document.

The first and most obvious thing that's going to make them say 'oh my god you're giving too much to those murdering tigers!' is the composition of the Regional Committee. 2 people nominated by the Government of Sri Lanka, 3 people nominated by the Muslim groups and 5 people nominated by the LTTE!

Now let's look at possible ethnic compostions.

The 5 people nominated by the LTTE will be Tamil. They will also most probably be Northern Tamil, since they don't really like the Eastern Tamils and have discriminated against them for ages.

The 3 people nominated by the Muslim groups will be Muslim, which is not really an ethnicity, but since we've pretended it's one for such a long time let's continue.

And then this leaves no option for the Government but to make their two representatives Sinhala, so that the Sinhala people of the east have some kind of representation. This, autromatically makes the Sri Lankan Government, the representative of the Sinhala people. STUPID!!!!

Why can't the LTTE and the Muslims have 3 seats each while the Government has 4, on the condition that 2 of the 4 nominated by the Government are representative of the Tamil people? But the LTTE would not like this would it? Because they claim to be the sole representatives of the Tamil people, and forcing the Government to develop an image of being representative only of the Sinhala people, the LTTE are furthering their own agenda.

I'll leave that there.

Now let's look at another problem. The Muslim groups. The High Level Committee will have one nominee from the Muslim groups and the Regional Committee will have 3 members nominated by the Muslim groups.

But who are these Muslim 'groups'? Do they represent the Muslim people of the country? Do they represent the tsunami-affected Muslim people of the East and South?

There are several Muslim political groups in Sri Lanka. Some of these are direct political groups regularly contesting Parliamentary elections. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress led by Rauff Hakeem and the group that broke away from them, the National Unity Alliance, led by Ferial Ashroff. There are a few smaller groups too, but these are the main ones. Other than this, the United National Party, the People's Alliance and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna all have their own Muslim politicians who work under the party agenda. Then there are all the Jamiathul Ulamas and other Islamic religious groups who also have a fair bit of political clout. There are also a significant number of Islamic clerics who work outside these groups. And then there are also Islamic Fundamentalist groups in the East and in Puttlam. But let's not even think about them right now.

So, none of these groups work together on a regular basis. Sometimes one or two of them come together for certain causes, but when it comes to making a decision which will affect the Muslim people of the East as much as the Joint Mechanism will, they just can't work together.

And how're you going to avoid a big fight about who gets to pick the guy for the seat in the High Level Committee? I'd like to see this one settled. Oh boy, it's going to be another string of press conferences by Rauff Hakeem and Ferial Ashraff and mud slinging going back and forth about who's the real representative of the Muslim people of Sri Lanka.

These are just two of the problems I see with the Joint Mechanism draft up front. Let me read it a bit more and hopefully I will be able to write something more. There are also certain complications in the bits about safeguards and minority protections about how things get proposed and how they can be shot down in the Regional Committee. But that needs a bit more thinking.


Joint Mechanism Cover Blown?

The Daily Mirror this morning led with an 'exclusive' containing what they claim to be the 'full draft' of the Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure (PTOMS), better known as the Joint Mechanism.

No one has come forward to either verify or dispute their claim that this is indeed what the PTOMS is going to look like. That may happen at some point today.

For now I'm just going to republish stuff from the article here. The Daily Mirror site does not allow is because you have to register and sign in to read the news. I believe information like this should be free, even online and be available for discussion anywhere. So here goes.


The Daily Mirror 13/06/05
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of a Post-tsunami Operational Management Structure (the 'Joint Mechanism')

Synopsis of the Draft

The preambular clauses set out the rationale for the formation of the Joint Mechanism, principally:
  • the urgent humanitarian need to effectively deliver relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction to the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities affected by the Tsunami;
  • the need for Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim to work together to accomplish this task; and
  • the need for an equitable allocation of post-tsunami funds to all tsunami-affected areas of Sri Lanka, based on accepted needs-assessments.
The Joint Mechanism consists of three tiers:
  • A High Level Committee for the Tsunami affected areas of Sri Lanka;
  • A Regional Committee for the Six Districts in the Northern and Eastern provinces affected by the tsunami (Ampara, Batticaloa, Jaffna, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu and Trincomalee); and
  • District Committees, one for each of the six districts.
Geographic Scope
  • The Joint Mechanism is restricted in it's area of operation to the land area affected by the tsunami that is within 2 kilometers of the coastline.
  • The MoU will not change the terms of the Ceasefire Agreement between the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE, which will remain in effect.
  • The MoU prohibits discrimination against any person on the basis of grounds such as ethnic orgin, language or religion.
Period of Operation
  • The MoU states that the Joint Mechanism will only operate for one year, unless both parties mutually agree to extend it.

High-Level Committee

  • Functions:
    The High-Level Committee's primary function will be to formulate policies regarding the allocation and disbursement of donor funds for the tsunami-affected areas.

    The High Level Committee will also have an advisory and monitoring role.

  • Composition:
    The High Level Committee will have three members - one nominee by the Government of Sri Lanka, one nominee by Muslim parties and one nominee by the LTTE.

  • Observers:
    Two nominees from the international donor community will attend the meetings as observers.

  • Safeguards and Minority Protections:
    Consensus between the three members is required before any decision is made.

    If consensus cannot be reached, any member can, upon 14 days notice, suspend their co-operation in the High Level Committee

Regional Committee
  • Function:
    The Regional Committee will be responsible for prioritizing, approving, managing and monitoring the implementation of projects.

  • Composition:
    The Regional Committee will have ten members - two nominees by the Government of Sri Lanka, three nominees by Muslim parties and five nominees by the LTTE. The MoU states that the Committee should have a proper gender balance.

  • Observers:
    Two nominees from the international donor community will attend the meetings as observers. Other observers may also be invited.

  • Safeguards and Minority Protections:
    If at least two members of the Regional Committe acknowledge that a decision of the Regional Committee would have an adverse effect on a minority group, then approval of that decision will rerquire seven members of the Regional Committee. This provision protects the Muslim and Sinhala communities from any proposal by the Regional Committee that is, in their opinion, harmful to their interests.

    Subject to the protection above, two members of the Regional Committee may request redress when a proposal submitted to the Regional Committe by a District Committee is rejected; consequently, rejection of that proposal will require seven members of the Regional Committee.

    This provision allows proposals put forward by District Committees (which may have a greater representation of a particular ethnic group than the Regional Committee) to be passed by the Regional Committee without the necessary consent of the LTTE nominees.

  • Regional Fund:
    A regional fund will be set up to make available funds for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and development in the six districts.

    A multilateral agency will serve as the custodian of the fund.

District Committee

  • Functions:
    The District Committee will identify needs, receive and generate project proposals, and monitor the progress of the projects.

  • Composition:
    The District Committees that are currently established and functioning in the six districts will be used in this role. However the Committee will ensure adequate Muslim represntation and a proper gender balance.


Relationship with other development activity:
Normal Government-financed development in the Northern and Eastern provinces will continue as before, including in the six districts, in addition to what the Joint Mechanism does.

Role of Treasury:
The function of actually allocating and disbursing the donor funds will be retained by the treasury; the High Level Committee only formulates the policies regarding these.

In addition the Regional Fund administered by the multilateral agency will be set up by an agreement between the multilateral agency and the Government of Sri Lanka. The LTTE, as a non-state entity, cannot be party to such an agreement.



Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Who Wants To Be A Minister?

So why did Mangala resign as Minister of Information and Media? That is the question.

First let's look at what we know for sure.
  1. Mangala would not have resigned if Chandrika had not made him resign. He's too greedy for that, and he likes the power being MoIM gives him.
Beyond this we know nothing for certain. So why would Chandrika make him resign?
  1. Because she's pissed off with Mangala for
    • being pals with the JVP
    • allowing the JVP to creep into the State Media
    • being pals with Tara De Mel who's not entirely in Chandrika's good books now after the whole PIU fiasco with the school principals.
We know Mangala went to London for a couple of days for some kiss-and-make-up with CBK while he was in Paris, but apparently the plan didn't work and she's still more than a little pissed with him.

Now what does she get when Mangala resigns? An empty MoIM seat. Now what is she going to do with this seat? MoIM is a big seat, and there are a lot of people who want it badly.

So will she
  1. give it to someone in the JVP to keep them in the coalition? (unlikely)
  2. keep it for herself so she can weild the state media when the time comes for her unavoidable powergrab? (unlikely)
  3. give it to someone in the UNP and bring them over to her side so she can keep her Government even if the JVP leaves?
According to what we have heard the third one seems to be the most possible. When I spoke to a senior friend in the JVP yesterday, he told me that a lot of things were going on and that he couldn't tell me anything over the phone. But Somawansa has said that he will release the JVP's plan to overthrow the Government tomorrow. He he :) Plan to overthrow the Government MY ASS!!

The way things look these are my predictions for what's going to happen:
  • Chandrika signs the PTOMS (Post Tsunami Operational Management Structure - that's the new name for the Joint Mechanism) next week. Yipee!!
  • Chadrika asks the Somawansa to take the plan and roll it up nice and tight and shove it up his ass. The JVP have no option but to bugger off.
  • A few key UNP MP's come over from the UNP and occupy the 4 Ministerial Portfolios left by the JVP quitting the Government. Someone big from the UNP gets MoIM.
  • The woman goes for another Parliamentary election and tries to make a 2/3 majority in Parliament again.
  • Sobitha rants and raves about the PTOMS but gives up his fast and goes back to being a bigot monk.
Even if I am wrong (which I probably will be), the next few days are going to be fun...


Mahinda Rajapaksa

I have not been able to make a post in quite some time because blogger's been giving me hard time.

Even though I said I'd dedicate a post to Mahinda I now realise I don't know enough about the man to do it. I just have a gut feeling that he's a good guy. I met him last Saturday. No you asses! I do not know him personally! I was just in the same room as him :)

images stolen from

But here's what I do know.

I know a few people that he's treated badly, and minor involvement in some illegal logging activities in the South. He's also dished out a few contracts to friends and family, had a few cops transferred to the North when they pissed him off.

But when you think about everything all the othere have done, Mahinda seems like a saint. And he has a very nice smile :) Kinda like a Don. He's got a pleasant smile and look about him, but you know he's not the kinda guy you wanna cross. I know at least one woman who has a major thing for him. So the appeal's not fake.

According to what I've heard he doesn't screw around. He's also had very long tight relationships with many of the grassroots level civil society groups in the South as well as in Colombo, and this is something that I believe has influenced the way he politicks.

He may have had more than three people killed. That I really don't know. And he's not family, though I guess there must be some relationship since all the people from the South are related to each other in some way.

He has an official website. Check it out.

That's all folks :)


Thursday, June 02, 2005

FYI: What Morquendi thinks about politics in the South

Just for the record, if someone wants to know about my politics (very briefly) :

I like Mahinda Rajapakse, I think he should be our next president.

I kinda like Chandrika, but it's on and off, sometimes I think she's ok, sometimes I think she's nuts. But person to person, she's got presence.

I don't like the JVP, and think Wimal needs help. I don't think murderers should be in Parliament.

I don't like the JHU, monks shouldn't be in politics.

As for the UNP, they are no longer relevant. They just don't get Sri Lanka or Sri Lankans. Ranil is a good diplomat, not a good politician.

These are my personal opinions, and have no impact on the work I do. Actually I wrote them down because I want someone to argue with and tell me why I'm wrong. I like getting pissed off when people tell me how wrong I am.

I'll share my personal opinions on the LTTE and the ethnic conflict later.


Wednesday, June 01, 2005


We have a report from Ninthavur in the Amparai District about anothe case like the one that we reported from Galabodawatta in the Galle District.

The Government officials in Ninthavur plan to buy a coconut plantation for about 1700,000 Rupees (that's 17 lakhs) an acre. This is rather overpriced for land in that area but according to a source the land being sold is owned by several persons who are very close to a local politician. And the owners have gotten their friend to approve the valuation which puts this plot of land at more than it's market price.

So they are going to sell this land to the Government for resettling the Tsunami displaced people and then make a profit in the process.

But why did I say this was a story like the Galabodawatta tragedy? Because this is prime coconut land, and the Government will clear the whole plantation, uprooting over 1000 coconut trees. Again, just as in Galabodawatta, the people who worked on this plantation (mostly informal labour) will receive no compensation. The owners of the plantation don't really care because they're sitting in Colombo and making a profit on the deal.


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