Thursday, October 20, 2005

Flase alarm or scary trend?

So who's heard the gossip about the LTTE issuing a dress code for the people of Jaffna? Here's about all I've been able to gather:
The growth of beard and long hair have been forbidden for young men.

For girls, close-fitting shirts and skirts have been banned along with the wearing of trousers. Instead girls have been asked to wear the Tamil costume of Shalwar Kameez.
This came out in the Dawn, the Pakistani newspaper on the 18th. The online edition just says 'from our correspondent'. It doesn't give the correspondent's name so we could call them and check them for the authenticity of the story. Apparently 'sources in Jaffna' told the correspondent that the LTTE had imposed these restrictions. Even the Dawn correspondent didn't have direct confirmation of this story. He heard it from someone else.

The story ends with:
The dress directive was preceded by posters asking Tamils not to interact with members of the Sri Lankan military.
I don't know about you guys, but I didn't hear about this in Colombo. Is this true? Wouldn't a story like this hit the front pages in Colombo? Even if no one was interested in the story wouldn't at least a rag like 'The Island' pick it up and bash the LTTE with it? Online, wouldn't our friend Indi snap it up and do on another LTTE bashing spree with it? But the funny thing is, no one heard about these things. There would have to be some serious breakdown in communication between Jaffna and the rest of the country for something like this to have happened without Colombo buzzing about it.

So far the only source that I have been able to find online for this story is Dawn's report on the 18th. No Sri Lankan media outlet has covered this story at all. And even the online ones have just ripped the story from Dawn without bothering to authenticate it. The Lanka Academic,, LankaWeb, Infolanka and Go2Lanka all run this story based on what the Dawn says. They don't bother to check for authenticity either. Don't they know any people in Jaffna that they can call and check something like this with? I guess they don't.


I wouldn't find it hard to believe that this story is true considering how the LTTE have behaved with regard to such things in the past. They tried and failed to impose similar restrictions in Batticaloa last year. There it was mainly to do with the way the women dressed.

They also stopped the transmission of (Maharaja Broadcasting Corporation's) Shakti FM in Jaffna because they didn't agree to the music that Shakti was playing. The said it was too loud and too fast and not appropriate. By this time they had appointed themselves the judges of Tamil culture. They had asked Shakti to discontinue broadcasts and when the station didn't back down their transmission was bombed. Of course the LTTE did not claim responsibility for this but there is little doubt that they were behind it.

They also banned the Tamil film 'Boys' in the region saying it was against Tamil culture. The movie which proved to be a semi-hit in South India is a story about five Tamil boys and their dreams and aspirations.


This last story about the dress code in Jaffna could be true, but it's annoying that all the people who're shouting about it don't seem to realise that the only source we have is a Pakistani newspaper. However respected the Dawn may be in Pakistan, it's not a Sri Lankan newspaper, and when they cover a story that a lot of Sri Lankan's haven't even heard of we have to be a little suspicious, and try to confirm the story for ourselves before we put it on our sites.

It's very easy to copy and paste a story from another source and call it news simply because the people you got it from calls it news. We saw something similar like this happen about 6 months ago when a journalist from the Times of India picked up a story from and published it on the Times site as news. So it's a little silly to not really think about where you're getting your story from.

Maybe it's news. Maybe the Dawn correspondent is being duped. Maybe someone maliciously planted the story to create anti-LTTE sentiment. Whatever the authenticity of the story it's just plain stupid and unprofessional on the the part of the news-editors on these sited to republish this information without any confirmation.

Right now, the only thing that these online news sites (even the pseudointellectual Lanka Academic) are doing is spreading unverified rumors. Exactly the opposite of what they're supposed to be doing.

Sometimes dogs bark because other dogs are barking.

Note: I've just been on the phone with someone in Jaffna who didn't notice anything like this. He's out right now checking to see if anyone there's heard about this. Updates will come as soon as I have the information.

Good work Morq. Had me duped enough that I was thinking of blogging this. Though I wouldn't put it past the tiger thought police.

I suppose it's easy to dupe the international media and the overseas audiences with uncorroborated stories. I wonder if it's the dogs of war barking.

Awaiting confirmation.

actually, The Island did run the story on its front page yesterday (the 19th).
I don't see anything wrong with this. We should be proud of our culture.
What about the unofficial dress code imposed by the SLA. Tamils who tint their hair are arbitrarily arrested and harassed by the army. Guess what their excuse is! Tamil tigers' hair get brown because they work in the sun. So every Tamil with brown hair must be a fighter. Same thing happens when a girl cuts her hair short. Tamils youths in Colombo who dress nicely are also persecuted by the army.

Anyway why are non-Tamils bothered about these things. The most pressing issue that the Tamil community has, is not the freedom to wear short dresses. Sometimes small freedoms have to be sacrificed for bigger ones.
There is a distinct difference between being proud of one's culture and chauvenism - males dictating what females ought and ought not to wear! Let us not get wires crossed here. These are basic fundamental rights for males and females - the freedom to grow one's beard/the freedom for females to wear pants/skirts etc.

But the issue remains on the table: is this true?

Awaiting confirmation.
Sanjaya Senanayake was questioning S.L. Gunasekara. That's like a really, really big, but sad joke.

Sanjaya, do you really think that you command half the respect that SL does? If you do, you are just pathetically mistaken.

I've read the lot of comments that people from overseas have posted here. You're simply lucky that they don't know of you as people right here in Sri Lanka do. If they did know, well, you won't even get as little respect as the Sunday Leader guy does.

For those of you who may not know yet, Sanjaya Senanayake is a typical NGO dependent blood-sucking traitor who has no sense of duty to his country or his fellow men; An outright nincompoop who doesn't get any respect from the people who know him for who he is.

Captn. Sais
Revealing words indeed Anonymous - or are they? A barrage of allegations wanting of facts? Guess we're left to take your word alone?

On to other stuff: the Asian Tribune reported today, quoting the Census 2001 that the Tamil population is down to #3 at just 4.6. How much of that census was successful in the northeast's uncleared areas? Anyone?
I agree with Nittewa's assesment. A variety of sites out there (Asian Tribune, Lanka truth, Lanka page) all publish a number of stories which have no credibility. They would use things like 'a political commentator said this, a political analyst said this,etc' to promote their own thoughts. A bit like Island.
i think that most news websites here intentionally peddle false news stories.

'the lanka academic' shares some of its reporting staff (those who post original stories there, not the stories from other sources) with the 'the island', so suffers from the same credibility problem.(though the reporters at tla seem to have changed very recently so there may be a difference in the future) .

not that the standard of journalism in most publications in all countries is any good.

anyway i believe we sri lankans, having lived most of our lives with this sort of thing are better at detecting falsehood and reading between lines and thus getting at the 'truth' than most ppl.
I got to "tamil dress salwar kemeez" & knew it was a joke - doesn't matter who's run the story - it's obviously anti-Ltte stuff...

The traditional Tamil dress is a Sari - the Salwar Kemeez belongs to the North of India.

If we leave out the anti Ltte bit & the anti Sanjay S bit - there isn't really anything to discuss here folks...
If it were true, then the LTTE would be sowing the seeds of its own destruction.

This is the type of regulation that will turn people against the regulator.

ps. This blog seems to work with internet explorer but not with opera.
BloggerA, you can find the 2001 official stats and database at
oh my god, what is this - the beginning of the talibanisation of sri lanka? (and since when is the salwar kameez a Tamil costume? even in south India, it is still considered a very north indian, even foreign costume)
The LTTE attempted this policy when it controlled Jaffna from 1990-95, but at that time women could ONLY wear sarees and blouses (no salwar kameez). The interesting thing is that the people en masse refused to follow the directive and continued wearing skirts and dresses. The LTTE had to sheepishly and quietly withdraw the directive because no one followed it.

Today it is a little different as the LTTE seems to be tolerant of Salwar Kameez, but it is strange that the LTTE is trying to bring this silly idea back.

Anyone visiting Tamilnad will notice that women & girls ONLY wear either 1) saree or 2) salwar kameez. Even in Chennai, the girls who go to dancing clubs will mostly wear sarees. Salwar Khameez was first adopted about 20 years ago, and at that time it caused an uproar amongst the traditional-minded who believed that the only proper dress for girls is saree. Now it has slowly become more accepted, and it is used for school uniforms in Tamilnad. But you can forget about skirts/dresses and especially trousers/jeans. This 'dress code' is not imposed by law or government directive - it is a norm held and backed by popular society in Tamilnad which is conservative.

You see, historically the Tamils of South India had come under very little influence from the West, compared to Srilanka where Jaffna was occupied for over 300 years by Westerners. That explains the cultural differences. When Tamil refugees came from Srilanka, the women were often looked down on because they wore dresses and skirts which is a no-no in traditional society in Tamilnad. This is very different from Srilanka where it is normal and acceptable for both Tamils and Singhalese women to wear Western clothing. This can be cited as one more example how Srilankan Tamils have more in common with Singhalese, than they do with Indian Thamils.

It seems that LTTE is trying to emulate the norm in Thamilnad, looking at the recent acceptance of shalwar kameez. But we cannot overlook the vast difference in that in Tamilnad the norm is imposed 'naturally' as a function of the culture, whereas in Srilanka the LTTE is trying to impose the dress code unilaterally and thus 'artificially' without the backing of the society. It is incredible given how much funding the LTTE gets from abroad, that its notion of 'Tamil culture' is so limited and backward that it takes inspiration from the Indian Dravidian Movement. Another example of this is the LTTE's recent discouragement of using non-Tamil nicknames. "Marshall" the political commissar of Batticaloa-Amparai now goes by his name "Ilanthiraiyan" which is pure Tamil and not even Sanskrit-derived. However, exceptions are made for Important People like the National Leader who names his son and even the siRappu paTaiyaNi after one of the original LTTE cadre Charles Antony.
Can you Anonymous commentators please give yourselves a name.

Anonymous : October 20, 2005 9:10 AM

I don't see anything wrong with this. We should be proud of our culture.

What BloggerA said. Big difference between ethnic pride vs chauvinism. Also, why should a culture be “officially” imposed on someone? Culture itself survives because people choose it for their benefit.

Why shouldn't I be free to dress as I choose as long as it doesn't cause harm to anyone else and I'm not being a public nuisance?

Anonymous : October 20, 2005 9:19 AM

Tamils who tint their hair are arbitrarily arrested and harassed by the army....Same thing happens when a girl cuts her hair short....

It's called ethnic profiling. It's the opportunity cost of the community choosing to resort to an ethnic/separatist war. It's the same thing that muslims in the west are going through at the moment (i.e. living under the microscope). I don't like it either but if I was living in UK after the London bombings, as a south asian, I'd expect to get profiled as well. The problem is, you or I may not have chosen this but we end up paying the price for it.

Unfortunately, if one ethnic group decides to *resort to war* then I can't see why this is so wrong as long as it doesn't lead to wider discrimination, and is in affect only as long as the danger is present. Having said that, IMHO, profiling is acceptable only if the wronged have recourse to a transparent mechanism of justice through the instruments of the state.

Anyway why are non-Tamils bothered about these things.

Why shouldn't they be? Are tamils different from other humans? At nittewa we don't care about someone's ethnic label (at least most of us except for some anon nutters), it’s about human-rights. Are you saying that tamils can be excluded from basic rights? Worst yet, does this mean that you don't care about the rights of non-tamils ?

The most pressing issue that the Tamil community has, is not the freedom to wear short dresses.

It isn't, but that's not the point of this thread. It's not "just" about "short dresses", it's about any dress, skirt, pants etc. Anyway what's wrong with short dresses? Is there a problem with that too?

Sometimes small freedoms have to be sacrificed for bigger ones.

You seem to be getting lost in your own logic here. By the same logic, in resorting to war have they not chosen to forgo the tamil peoples' Right to Privacy (i.e. profiling). So what is the bigger freedom that is to be achieved by sacrificing one's right to dress in a certain way?
Whoo hooo - Ivap u tell them - bloody anon anon buggers - :-)

Yep - that's right, I don't have a big Tamil nose - but it sure is turned up in the air looking down on these anon nutters - who sorry I think are just Indi's friends or possible Indi himself.

Abusing, attacking Morq because he dares to offer a slightly different point of view.

You just show how low you are.

Ivap/Sittingnut - I'm sorry - I just do not read their shit anymore.

Firstly lets get one thing right with AAAALLLLL these anons - they hate Tamils & they express it by attacking the LTTE.

It has so not occured to the dumb idiots how the LTTE is becoming - like all political groups - more and more mainstream. Not to mention that it is time for them to move on.

We - the Tamil people will move them on. I will bloody move them on. You arseholes with your filthy racist shit that you chuck around at anyone who shows you up for what total utter illiterate morons you - are not going to be the ones that handle the LTTE. As if they're going to listen to you. Your creating the monster that you so say you fight against.

So just PISS OFF! Leave the real work to those that know how to be human, real & effective. That would be those that have a brain not an great big vile empty space between their ears.

Keep on edit copy pasting from your racist media enclaves. Just don't think you're fooling anyone - more imporatantly - don't fool yourselves!!^#$^!^!@#$^!@#$##@!#!@#@!#!@%#@%!#%@!#@%@#!
Crack overdose. LMAO.
From Strategy Page magazine

Where Have All The Tamils Gone

October 23, 2005: The government continues to refuse considering a separate state for the Tamils. One of the reasons for this, is that there are doubts about just how many Tamils there actually are in Sri Lanka. The Tamils say they comprise up to 20 percent of the population. But there has been enormous migration of Tamils to escape over a decade of separatist violence. The LTTE has refused to tolerate a new census, and it is believed that Tamils now comprise only less than ten percent of the population. This became more of an issue after last years tidal waves, which killed some 30,000 people, most of them Tamils. Many foreign aid organizations came to help, and questions were raised about just how many people were in the affected (largely Tamil) areas, and who they were. It was pointed out that there were several hundred thousand Sri Lankan Tamil refugees living in North America, Europe and India. The LTTE appears to be aware of their shrinking population (perhaps as few as a million people), and are devoting most of their efforts to deal with internal divisions (eastern Sri Lankan Tamils versus northern Tamils), before seriously considering a resumption of the war. Even that will be difficult, because most Tamils are tired of all the fighting, but are terrified of the fanatic LTTE gunmen, who are quick to kill any Tamil "traitors" they discover.
Good work Ivanp. Nicely said. People really must have the nerve to question why 'non-Tamils' should bother about such issues! Its a sad state of affairs for a nation that is blessed with pluralistic, multi-cultural society, so rich in diversity. For those that think a certain ethnic group are lesser human beings, wake up! This is Sri Lanka! Not Nazi Germany!!
LTTE's Taliban type tendencies have been there for some time. Initially they insisted Tamils change their names to pure "Dravidian" names. Thereafter Prabakaran started calling himself Pirpaharan. Then they bombed Buddhist temples, banned south Indian films, started throwing grenades at liquor shops and killed prostitutes. Therefore, I cannot see much difference between Taliban and LTTE.
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?