Monday, August 29, 2005

Lonely Planet Guide to LTTE Terrorism

Sticking to the Lonely Planet is perhaps the best way to restrict your holiday to things that other people before you have done. Nothing new. No expanding of horizons, which to me is what travel is supposed to be all about.

For instance if you take the LP:Sri Lanka, you'd be shocked at the number of really cool places that have been left out simply because whoever was covering the island for the book didn't think they were cool enough to appeal to the average traveller. It's just a book meant to protect the image of Sri Lanka (or any other country) in the way orientalist thinking shaped it for the west. It's a warped reality.

A lot of people also seem to follow a LP like guide to LTTE terrorism in Sri Lanka.

let's look at what sparked off all this recent anti-LTTE slogan-shouting. Lakshman Kadiragamar's killing. We still don't know who did it, and everyone I've spoken to in Sri Lanka thinks it was an inside job, and says this line of thinking has an ever increasing number of followers. Since I am not in Colombo I have no right to comment on this any further.

But let's have a look at how people have responded. Let's look at a few generic statements.


The LTTE kills alternative Tamil leadership, and is therefore incapable of being a part of the democratic mainstream and needs to be crushed militarily.

Seriously, that's nothing new. To anyone who's had their eyes and ears open in Sri Lanka for the past 20 years this is a painfully obvious fact. From the assassination of Doraiappa to forced assimilation of the other armed Tamil groups in the mid 80s to recent killings in Colombo, this has never stopped.

But, we didn't hear them shouting that when the leader of the EPRLF, best known by his nickname: Robert, was killed in Jaffna.

We didn't hear them shouting that when the Media Secretary of the EPDP Balanataraj was killed outside 'House of Fashions'.

But we did hear them saying pretty much the same thing when Neelan Thiruchelvam was assassinated.

Why is that?

In the first place Lakshman Kadiragamar was not an alternative Tamil leader. Find me ten Tamil people who would have voted for him, and I'll dance naked in front of Town Hall. Maybe he did have aspirations of being a great Tamil leader, but they were just dreams.

Neelan Thiruchelvam (a good man whose killing is unforgivable) never wanted to be a leader of the Tamil people. His life's work was about trying to push everyone towards a negotiated settlement, and he most certainly would not have accepted the JVP and JHU using his killing as a big stick with which to beat the LTTE.

But this was a brilliant opportunity for them to shout out to the world 'LOOK, THE LTTE ELIMINATES THEIR ALTERNATIVES!!!'

To acknowledge the EPRLF, EPDP or any one of the other groups involved in active anti-LTTE politics in the North and East (themselves not without innnocent blood on their hands) is a little dangerous, because any one of these groups could provide leadership to the Tamil people. So let the LTTE finish them off one by one and we won't utter a word. 'The fewer Tamil leaders we have around here, the better it is for us' seems to be the motto for the right wing Sinhala nationalists.

So they distract Colombo and the rest of the world from one of the most terrible crimes perpetrated upon the Tamil people by the LTTE, while elevating nobodies and unwilling people to the level of the leaders of the Tamil people. Right out of the LP Guide to LTTE Terrorism.


The LTTE are terrorists because of the Central Bank bombing/Dalada Maligawa bombing/Dehiwala train bombing/Town Hall bombing/murder of monks in Anuradhapura etc...

OK, the LTTE did do all of this, and that makes them literally 'terrorists'.

But these bombings carried out in Colombo, Kandy and the other frequently used examples are, to me, poor indicators of the LTTE's terroristness. The war mongers in Colombo do not care about the dozens of Sinhala and Muslim villages where entire families were massacred by the LTTE in the past 20 years. From Gonagala in Amparai to villages like Sungawila in Anuradhapura, and in a countless number of villages in the Mahaweli settlements the LTTE have murdered thousand of innocent men, women and children.

But the war-mongers in Colombo do not care about these people. Because the LTTE trying to blow up a fucking fake tooth we crawl on our knees to worship is way more serious than them hacking to death an entire village. To them the LTTE blowing up a few airplanes in the BIA is more important than the systematic abduction and murder of hundreds of Sinhala and Muslim farmers in the East.

The Wimal Weerawanses, Athuruliye Rathnas, Maduluwawe Sobithas, and now Indika Samarajeewas keep going on and on about these few incidents to tag the LTTE as terrorists because these are 'high profile' incidents. They make for good press and everyone knows the press loves gory pictures. If it bleeds it leads.

This only proves that these pseudo-patriots care not about exposing the true nature of LTTE terrorism, but about furthering their political agendas on a 'LTTE are terrorists' platform. To do this they do not have to go to the East to speak to Sinhala villagers affected by the LTTE. Those guys don't give good soundbytes for the cameras!

So again, they distract us from the real nature of LTTE terrorism so that they may reap the benefits of the political fallout. A warped reality that we swallow whole simply because it's much easier to digest. One more from the LP Guide to LTTE terrorism.


And there you have it folks, that's me trying to understand the Lonely Planet Guide to LTTE Terrorism.
Co-authored by Wimal Weerawanse, Athuruliye Rathna and Champika Ranawaka.
Layout done by our own Indika Samarajeewa.

I believe the LTTE to be a group that frequently resorts to terrorism. But I also believe the Government of Sri Lanka also engages in terrorism. More debate on this later, just wanted to let those of you who read this know that I'm not the run-of-the-mill GoSL loving LTTE basher.


Monday, August 22, 2005

Other People's Lives

There's a cold war era saying about the work of the CIA which was very popular among the US military. They used to joke that the CIA's motto should be 'We bet your life'. This was because the decisions that the US Government made based on the information provided by the CIA would directly impact the lives of those serving in combat zones.

What Indi, the JVP, the PNM, the JHU and other war-mongering pseudo-intellectuals in Colombo do not realise, or do not care about, is the fact that if Sri Lanka were to return to war they would not be the ones who would pay the price.

Let us for a moment forget about the people living in the North and East, because as far as the war-mongers are concerned the protection of their lives or their rights is secondary to militarily defeating the LTTE, a bloodthirsty terrorist group. Remember when Albright said that the death of Iraqi children was the price they had to pay for defeating Saddam? Sounds pretty much the same.

Let us for a moment forget about the LTTE members who would die in a war, because as far as the war-mongers are concerned they're terrorists and anyone who throws in his lot with a terrorist group should be killed.

(I will explain why I have done this leaving out later)

Let us think only of our valient, brave, patriotic Sri Lankan Military (dare I call it the Sinhala Army?). If those who shout for war finally get what they want, then it's going to be the soldiers in the front lines who have to do the actual fighting. Indi, Wimal Weerawanse, Athuruliye Rathna and the others will sit at home watching the day's news on TV and notching the score like it was a cricket match.

"Twenty two LTTE terrorists killed in an ambush. Ten SLA soldiers also gave their lives for the motherland in this encounter"

Whao! 22 - 10. What's that come to? That's 12 up for us! Time to go out and have a drink to celebrate this victory boys! Molly's or Clancy's? Or does anyone want to do some karaoke?

That's all it is to them. Those ten soldiers who died mean nothing to them. They are merely statistics. Not real human beings. They did not have mothers/fathers/brothers/sisters/wives/sons/daughters/friends/neighbours. They did not have a home. They did not have a family to feed. They did not have younger siblings or children to keep in school.

The biggest misconception among these people is that the people in the Sri Lankan military have joined it out of patriotism. These soldiers are young men from poor familes in the South who have been forced into service because of the lack of employment opportunities. A consistently failing economy (brought on by massive defense expenditure over 20 years) drives these sons of farmers to join the only sort of employment which requires nothing more than the ability to close your eyes and pull a trigger.

They do not hate the LTTE, they do not love Sri Lanka any more than the average Sri Lankan, but they have to keep their families from starving.

So they join the military and die at the hands of the LTTE or the incompetence of their own leaders so that Indi, Wimal, Athuruliye and the bunch can teach the LTTE a lesson. They will not see their siblings or loved ones die because they live in Colombo, far far away from the war. To them it is an abstract game that must be won at any cost.

I live in Colombo, far far away from the the. I am not willing to join the army. I am not willing to die to defeat the LTTE. I want to live the good life as much as any of these "patriots" do. But that takes away from me the right to gamble with other people's lives, and the right to ask them to die for me.

If I think the LTTE needs to be defeated militarily then I should be willing to do it. How can I live with the knowledge that out there young men who don't want to die, who don't have issues with the LTTE are dying because I shout my ass off online? I don't think I would be able to live with something like that running through my head. If there is a return to war, I should shout out 'not in my name'.

Indi will never join the army. Wimal Weerawanse will never have the balls to pull a trigger. The monks shouldn't be screaming for war anyway!, well at least if they understand anything about Buddhism.

These people who scream for the destruction of the LTTE have not met the women of the Mothers and Daughters of Lanka. They have not met Visaka Dharmadasa, mother of a soldier missing in action, who would easily explain to them what the war can take away from you. They have not met Margret Hewage, the mother of a PoW, who could explain to them how there are some things worse than death. They have not met the Martenstynes who could explain to them how war can leave an entire family in limbo.

They do not care about these people, they care about the politics. Much like the leaders of the USSR sacrificed millions of people to protect their politics, so do these war-mongers try to yell louder than each other that the LTTE needs to be defeated, to protect their politics. Only their lives and their politics have any value to them.

Will these people who do not attach any value to the lives of the soldiers of the Sri Lankan military give any thought to the death of innocent Tamil civilians in the Vanni or LTTE cadres?

Ultimately, they gamble with other people's lives. Because other people lives mean nothing to them.


Monday, August 15, 2005


I spent about a half an hour going through different blogs to see what people were saying about the assassination of LK. The picture is quite distressing. The misinformation spreading online is shocking and it's propagation can only contribute to the divisions in Sri Lankan society and harm Sri Lanka.

Let's look at a few of them...

Indi has a headline that says 'LTTE Kills Kadirgamar'!!! I would certainly expect a bit more tact from Indi, but it seems he to has fallen pray to making statements that one can't really verify without depending on 'gut feeling'.

Prabath of Nidahas says 'Yesterday night, [the LTTE] murdered Lakshman Kadirgamar.'

Hold on, the Government of Sri Lanka has not formally accused the LTTE of the assassination, and the LTTE too have not issued a statement taking responsibility for the deed. On the contrary they have issued a statement denying any involvement in it. So why do Indi and Prabhath both make statements like the above?

Because I am not in Sri Lanka right now, I have been relying on online sources for my news. When I got my call at about 11.30 SL time I was sitting in a dingy little hotel in Paharganj, New Delhi. In the hours following the incident I managed to find a computer and thanks to friends who kept me updated with the occasional call and constant text messages, I followed the story as best as I could.

Over the next what became clear was how many people, especially those online, were quick to condemn the LTTE for the assassination. True, the LTTE are the most likely perps. But note: most likely, not definite. To state that the LTTE did carry out the assassination, without a shadow of doubt, as both Indi and Prabath have done, is to ride on the anti-LTTE bandwagon that forms each time something like this happens. Political groups like the JVP, JHU, PNM, media like the Island and the Divaina, and a whole host of other interests at various points in the political spectrum come together to shout down the voices that say 'hold on, how do we know for sure the LTTE is behind this?'

The work that they do in propogating such a black and white image of what is going on in this country can only damage Sri Lanka's standing in the international stage. These people are not shouting out the truth, they are shouting out what they want to hear, and what they want the rest of the world to hear. Truth means nothing to them, and in the same way the American War Machine uses CNN and Fox TV, it is the loudest voice that gets heard, not the truth.

To blame the LTTE for this incident, when there is no clear proof of their involvement (well, at least no proof that will stand up in court) is to jeopardize the peace process unnecessarily. The LTTE could use and does use such propaganda to show that world that the Sri Lankan Government and the Sinhala people are not rational (I'm not too sure about this myself), and are prone to judge and convict the LTTE and the Tamil people on purely circumstantial evidence.

This either-you're-with-us-or-against-us gung ho attitude displayed by Indi and Prabath is distressing and I strongly urge them both to show a little care when they comment online about something as serious as this in the future.

Fortunately there are also quite a few people who seem to have a firm grasp on reality. Hats off to Mahangu, Scourge, Ian and Anush for balanced commentry. Keep up the good work, the only way to counter misinformation to make the truth available, and the fact that even a few people are trying to do that gives me hope.



NOTE: Contrary to our anonymous friend Anon Anon's belief that I have vanished, I'm still very much around. Yet since I am in India I cannot comment on what is going on in Sri Lanka. I have been following the situation over the past month by reading the news online whenever I can, and also thanks to a steady stream of text messages from my friends. But today when I checked I found this comment left by Anon Anon which I think offers a lot of insight into recent developments. I have edited it a teeny weeny little but the original is available where he/she left it.

If I knew, without any doubt whatsoever who had shot LK (Lakshman Kadiragramar) I would write a story for the international press & make myself millions. It is after all a million dollar question.

If you want a bit of my ponderings on the subject - hey I'm more than happy to throw my hat in.

If the LTTE killed LK - it was not the smartest thing they could have done. The devil you know is better than the devil you don't. LK's association with the JVP made him look like a monkey pretending to be the Sinhala Lion who we all know was born a Tamil. His sychophantic pathetic desperation to become a part of the Sinhala establishment has never made him look impressive. It made him look opportunistic & an outcast. He obviously had a great desire to feel like he belonged. It is a trait shared by many Tamils who live in Colombo and speak broken English, fluent Sinhala & no Tamil.

What did make him look impressive is the classic Tamil hard-working, clever, intelligent erudite way in which as a young man he went to Oxford & impressed everyone. How difficult do you think back then was it for a "Indian" to gain the kind of recognition that LK did. For this he is remembered. I watched him on the BBC on Hard Talk & I too was impressed. He certainly restored the image of the Sri Lankan govt where Chandrika even after Sept 11 when everyone was getting ready to blast all terrorists suicide bombers out of oblivion looked like a goose & spoke like a lame duck - Quack Quack.

LK's association with the JVP has given him absolutely no credibility internationally. Whether they like this fact or not. I find it totally abhorent for anyone to associate with the JVP - sorry. I just cannot forget the horror & terror they brought to this country. It is unforgiveable what they did to us. How they destroyed our peace and tranquility. I despise them intensely for the murderous killing & cold hearted killing they committed on their very own people.

Consequently I cannot tolerate that LK associated with them.

This killing if committed by the Ltte is so obvious - too obvious. So really everyone - and if you've watched the media you will see this - everyone asks - why would they do this right now. The Ltte for the first time (as reported by the BBC) "strongly denied" the allegation. Hey why would they even bother. With bombs going off in London - really at the moment the Ltte is looking seriously marginalised - so - why would they make the situation worse?

If it was someone within LK's own party - well that would look like it was a bit of a blood-thirsly thing to do - but that's certainly what Sinhalese politics is all about.

A lot of the international press has been saying how LK was very popular but there's unfortunately a few things that that they don't know about LK. Because he was the only Tamil in the government he basically was a much canvassed man by way of bribes & favours by Tamils trying to survive in a very difficult environment in Colombo. I think he made a few friends but he also made a few enemies. I think he was greedy. The exhorbitant expenses on his round the world trip are nothing compared to years & years of bribes that he took - well he should not have. Now that's not to say as you ALL so well know that every politician in SL takes bribes that he was unique where bribes were concerned - but he was unique in that he took them more specifically from Tamils. And - sometimes he did not deliver.

His funding of the Karuna group of course pissed off the Tigers but there again - he was not alone in that. Chandrika obviously gave him carte blanche & he organised funding for the Karuna group. So what - the international community will never talk to the Karuna group - rightly or wrongly - they are state sponsered militia. Time and time again politicians like Bush & Blair have realised that it is a mistake to back milita. The media has exposed government sponsered militia who only serve one purpose. The perpetuation of war. The international community where Sri Lanka is concerned are definitely keen to have the situation resolved.

Everyone was concerned that the Muslim Tamils be given a voice & they have. Karuna does not represent them . All Karuna represents is an extension of infighting within the Ltte & now his quest for power. Well - if Karuna wants power I'm afraid he's got an uphill battle ahead of him.

The so called shadowy Prabhakaran seems to get all this loyalty from all over the planet. It is quite bizzare. For someone who has such an incompetent publicity machine - he almost has blind faith & support. You have to ask yourself why.

Ok - a few other theories now...

Was it the UNP - well I have a slight inkling that some of Ranil's uncle's leftover henchmen are very cleverly orchestrating trouble for Chandrika. They can go around shooting people - you don't have to kill very many before everyone is at everyone's throats. I cannot for one minute belive that the UNP are just sitting on the back-burner behaving themselves. They are stiring up trouble too.

It could be the JVP - although they say that LK was one of their own - I think we all know what they are capable of for the sake of the revolution. They may also have decided that he was more a liability than anything as you know he has never been popularily elected to office. He was merely appointed by Chandrika and in fact the only reason Chandrika ever trusted him was because he was "an old friend" of her mothers - hmm - yes well the second most guarded man in the country - second to none except Chandrika herself.

When did young LK come waltzing into the lives of Srimavo & Chandrika? - that's another story. Think about it. He was young, smart, highly intelligent, different to the others and hence totally trustable.

Finally was it some of the other potential contenders in Chandrikas party who are squaring up for a big showdown & did LK have some dirt on them?

Frankly - I don't know. You would think that there would be other people in Sri Lanka that needed more protection than LK. He was supposed to have total protection. SO HOW THE HELL DID SOMEONE MANAGE TO KILL HIM?????.

Does it sound like an inside job to you????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Therein rests the case for the whodunnitandwhydidtheybother?????

Anon de Non de Non

Morquendi's Two Cents:

Well Anon Anon, Spoken like a true realist.

One theory that you might have overlooked and I feel I need to bring up might be by far the most far fetched. I have already been yelled at by a few people for suggesting this, but what about if Jayantha Dhanapala had anythying to do with it? You know the man, the head of the Peace Secretariat, Kofi Annan's best friend in South Asia etc...

OK OK OK, Don't scream at me like that. Yes I like JD a lot. I think he's a great and a very senior diplomat/administrator who could never stoop so low at to have someone killed, but I wouldn't be a true conspiracy theorist if I didn't think of all the possibilities, however absurd they are.

Now here's the deal. The clash between LK and JD has been going on for a long time. Way back when JD was small fry at the UN LK tried to cut him down and curb his rise in the international organisation. The whole world knew that LK envied JD's spot heading UNESCO, and did a lot of things to see if he could get that job himself. When JD came back to Sri Lanka to head the Peace Secretariat LK was openly not very happy about it.

But why now? If it was JD who had LK killed why now? Ask yourself, what's just around the corner? Who's going to be the next Secretary General. It's an Asian's turn next, and if you look at the UN Administration, and where Asians are placed, you gotta admit JD's got a damn good chance of making the job. But LK would never let that happen right? He's screw JD over in Sri Lanka so hard that he wouldn't stand a chance.

Was it worth killing for?

Here's another crazy theory. What about the ex wife or the kids he doesn't talk to? Come on, at least one of them is bound to hate him enough to wish they could put a bullet through his head...

Why does it have to be political? Why can't it be personal? Loads of people get killed for personal reasons like screwing around or land disputes every day. So he was a big shot and his death has political implications, but why do we dismiss that it may have had nothing to do with politics?

PS: Again, I ask Anon Anon to get a bloody blogger ID and contribute to this damn thing instead of just leaving comments! I thought insults would have an impact when I said even an idiot could figure out how to set up a blogger account, but obviously they didn't :) But please, try again.


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