| by Pearl Thevanayagam

(January 09, London, Sri Lanka Guardian) What do TNA (Tamil National Alliance) and GTF (Global Tamil Forum) hope to achieve at ANC (African National Congress)'s 12.3 million dollar centenary bash at the 46,000-capacity Free State Stadium? More to the point who is paying for these delegates attending the grand-scale gala being hosted in Bloemfontein, the birth place of ANC? Only ten percent of the invited world leaders attended the gala. Some 1,400 did not attend. It is highly unlikely the Africans are meeting our delegates' expenses since they are used to receiving aid and not giving and believe the world owes them a living ad infinitum.

A four member TNA delegation arrived in South Africa to take part in the centenary celebrations of the ruling African National Congress. TNA leader, R. Sampanthan, M.A. Sumanthiran, Selvam Adaikalanathan and Suresh Premachandran soon after their arrival in South Africa.
Assuming they would not be footing the bill for the bash it becomes a grievous liability on Tamils abroad who are already feeling the pinch forking out for Tsunami, spending on demonstrations across Europe , US, Canada and Australia against the final onslaught of the government offensive which killed and displaced their brethren in Wanni and then paying to form a trans-national government particularly amidst the economic downturn affecting Europe and the world in general. Enough is enough.

It looks like we are regressing to 1948. The TNA (Tamil National Alliance) and GTF (Global Tamil Forum) attending ANC's centenary celebrations is unlikely to bring any earth shattering changes to the ethnic issue pertaining to the rights of the Tamils here in Sri Lanka. It is but yet another opulent centenary birthday bash as only African Black elite can hold while the major part of South Africa not to mention the rest of Africa still does not have running water, has thousands dying of AIDS and malnutrition and of course suffering conflicts largely created by the Western super-powers gunning for its precious metals, minerals and oil.

Lest we forget, Africa has an inherent abhorrence for Indians who were brought in as administrators into the Dark Continent by the British to lend a new lease of life and virtually raise their living standards who were kept in perpetual slavery by successive conquerors such as the Dutch, Flemish and the British. For all intents and purposes Sri Lanka would remain an off-shoot of India in Africa's eyes. Post independence the Indians had their business and properties burnt and virtually chased out of Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya.

Here in Sri Lanka we are not fighting the colonial rule any longer. The bone of contention between the ruling regime and the ethnic Tamils is the denial of rights on par with the majority Sinhalese, concentration of powers within the ruling clan and gross violation of human rights particularly in the last throes of war which left over 40,000 lives lost and many thousands of civilians rendered homeless and displaced may times over with a significant proportion still detained in camps despite the war having ended officially two and a half years ago..

African National Congress (ANC) is celebrating its 100 year struggle against apartheid. But most South Africa's Blacks are yet to be liberated from abject poverty despite colossal amounts of aid from the West. No amount of foreign aid can save Africa except Africa itself since the struggle against apartheid only pole-vaulted to prominence a small section of affluent Africans including Nelson Mandela who spent 27 years in prison for fighting the White regime consisting of Afrikaaners and the British.

In effect African leaders have failed despite gaining independence from its colonial masters since most African countries are ruled by pseudo-monarchic tribal leaders who cannot liberate themselves from their tribal and feudalistic past. Soweto although slowly rising from its ghetto image still harbours dirt-poor Blacks.

John Pilger, the Australian journalist, writer and documentary film maker exposed Mandela's duplicity, his proclivity for opulence and publicity in his book, “Freedom Next Time” published in 2007. He writes, `The abiguity of Mandela is expressed in his dealings with other governments. As the first liberation president, he ordered a ridiculous and bloody invasion of tiny Lesotho. He allowed South African armaments to be sold to Algeria, Colombia and Peru, which have notorious track records. He invited the Indonesian mass murderer General Suharto to South Africa and gave him the country's highest award (Suhatrto had given money to ANC in exile). He recognised the brutal Burmese junta as a legitimate government, even though the plight of its legitimate leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under permanent house arrest, reflected his own struggle'.

Perhaps it is years in prison or perhaps the fact he struggled his way through life as a boy adopted by his better off relatives gave him a yearning for luxuries including his silver Mercedes gold coloured silk shirts.

The TRC (Truth and Reconciliation Commission)'s `reconciliation process' did not require perpetrators of state crime to be held neither accountable nor responsible and their impunity was to be protected according to Pilger. Our government has drawn a great deal of inspiration and strength from TRC in setting up LLRC, a lameduck of a commission which would protect all the perpetrators of war crimes.

Enough said about ANC but what we are waiting for is what our Tamil delegates could bring back to us in their party bags when show time is over.

The writer is Asia Pacific Journalism Fellow at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, California and a print journalist for 21 years. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com)

| Translated by L.Annadoure

(January 09, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) I have been debating, with an English speaking Frenchman who is a friend of mine, a couple of months ago, about the good and bad things done by the LTTE. I was not proficient enough in French language then to debate matters relating to politics! My friend posed many questions to me regarding the errors committed by Prabakaran! In the course of our conversation I pointed out to him in the following way. ‘We are ready to forget about Prabakaran and we want to live in Peace and tranquility but your country revives the name of Prabakaran often in our minds. These people are not aliens. They are our brothers! Even if a small dust settles on them we will react and agitate!

When my friend heard me having said so he felt a bit shocked! Do you know Prabakaran had administered a shadow Government? That shadow Government was on par with Governments prevailing in western Countries, for instance a Country like France! This statement of mine evoked in him a surprise and he looked at me in wonder. How and in which way?, he asked me very enthusiastically. I set out what all I have told him!

There used to be published from Vanni
a computer related magazine under the
name of ‘Kuni Nutpham’. Prabakaran’s son
 Charles Anton was its editor ! What was to
say of it ? Truly speaking I had not seen any
 such a magazine published from Colombo!
If one touched the frontispiece of the said
magazine one’s fingers would feel tickled.
I must tell you at the outset that Prabakaran was running a shadow Government in Vanni! There were certain rigorous rules in Governance and polity. Administration of the territory was analogous to Governments being carried on in European countries! There was no place for graft and bribery. No body ever knew what corruption was! There was no disparity between rich and poor! Institutions while offering jobs to candidates did not conduct interview for its sake, as an eye wash, they neither did receive bribes for offering jobs nor did they offer jobs on recommendation. The scourge of corruption or bribery was not in existence there.

There were no comic scenes enacted by political parties! There were no such thing as there being a political party and its party workers, Goondas who indulge in arson and loot, no burning of buses and setting ablaze cars and one beating the other and dying in the end as it happens in Colombo! Everything was so peaceful as peace prevails in Europe! It has become history that we have bent too low but we have straightened ourselves up.

One must necessarily make a mention of the Eelam police. The dark blue Jeans and light blue shirt worn police force reminds me either French police or London police. The smartness and dignified appearance which could be attributed to French and London police could as well be found in LTTE police force. Would you ever give bribes to Eelam police ? There was no question of ever paying any bribe to Eelam police. Say for instance you have committed a crime and as a consequence of which the LTTE police takes up the matter for investigation and it comes to enquire you and at that time you are extending a 50 Rupee note to them in order to avert enquiry and in that eventuality the very act yours would certainly land you in a dark cell where you would be blinking and squint your eyes to see. These days, the affluence on the part of Western Countries is characterized by plenteous commodities, greater national power and riches and income derived from taxation! Systematic Taxation on income was in prevalence in Eelam. No one would ever think of preparing a false account so as to evade payment of tax on the receipt of income, hoarding unaccounted income which was black money was not possible there. Law and order was such!

Here in France people speak in perfect French. They do not commingle English words with French and speak altogether a different language! If you say that the French language exists in all purity in France and the same can be said of Tamil language which flourish and it is in its pristine nature there in Eelam. There people search for and find the exact terms in Tamil language for all sorts of scientific, Engineering gadgets, household gadgets and put them in use and they speak in perfect Tamil! One can identify Vanni people with their dialect of speech as to where they hail from! But there are several instances that their mother tongue being derided and spoken derogatory of whenever they come in contact with Government Agencies!

I will say with much conviction that Arts flourished excellently well there. A dearth of books? So many songs and lyrics. A good number of lyricists and song composers! Music composers! All of them were extolled and revered by people! A Kilinochchi song writer would be composing a song and a musician will set tune to the song! Then Balasubramnian would have sung that song! Karthick would have sung it! It would be an exciting experience to hear the song! To narrate the greatness of all Arts which flourished and which were fostered by Prabakaran would fill six or seven articles like this one!

When a fierce battle that was fought at the fringes of Vanni during 2007 some artisans and construction workers were engaged in laying a Road which was full of profound artistic work. That was the Tamil Eelam modern High ways and on seeing it one would feel spell bound. One would feel in himself as though he had actually seen Louvre Museum in Paris. Such a beautiful and artistically laid Road.

Near to that Road there came to be established a Zoo under the name Moon Park. There was a hanging bridge and several species of birds and animals! Name boards in Tamil and description in Tamil! It was highly captivating to see them all there! Above all, to venture description of developments made in Department of Medicine and remarkable feats which they did there would fill many articles as this one.

There used to be published from Vanni a computer related magazine under the name of ‘Kuni Nutpham’. Prabakaran’s son Charles Anton was its editor ! What was to say of it ? Truly speaking I had not seen any such a magazine published from Colombo! If one touched the frontispiece of the said magazine one’s fingers would feel tickled. The Departments of printing and Photography used state of Art technology and it is hard to find an analogy anywhere!

How could I say of the Banks that were operating in Vanni? Did you want to find a job in a Bank in Vanni? Had you to pay some lump sum as a bribe to get the job! Confound you! if you were efficient and competent then you were appointed! Not a single paise was needed! I was able to appreciate the meticulousness of every aspect of the structure and management of Banks in Vanni and the Banks as such could compete with and be on par with the Banks operating in European countries. What were other infrastructure that were in Vanni I am very hopeful that other friends of mine would come forward to narrate.

Are you aware? ‘In a small strip of Vanni land there were 7 runways for aircrafts taking off and landing’ the Army said so. Were we to get the land all by our self…..it is needless to say that Vanni land would have become little Europe! When I see the French people love their land with devotion and a patriotism, it naturally evokes in me a sense of love for my country, a love for my language but we are land less. What can we do?

I have placed all my love and trust on this French Nation as I would repose love and trust in my Tamil Eelam land. World’s beautiful road is in France! While walking through these beautiful French Roads I feel that I am walking through Kilinochchi A9 road. When I go to Louvre Museum where Mona Lisa painting is there I am again reminded of Kilinochchi Museum. When I stand at the Concord Park Place situate in the center of France, the image of Moon park in Kilinochchi would flock to my mind. The way in which the cemeteries are being managed and taken care reminds me of ‘Thuilum Illangal’ the resting places of my Gods there.

When I watch a French woman reading news in perfect French in TV, I may not see her romantically. There, the image of Isai Priya reading the news in pure Tamil would pop up in the recess of my mind and while seeing her some tears trickle at the corner of my eyes! In whatever way I see, everything here in France from pillar to chafe reminds me of my land. So, that is the psychological reason behind as to why the names of the Tigers, Tamil Eelam and the name of Prabakaran cannot be erased from the minds of Diaspora.

Paris C Fou is a popular program and the presenter is a woman by name Mary born of French- Italian parents. When ever I hear of news read in respect a French soldier having fallen in battle my heart would palpitate! I used to pay tribute to such fallen hero whose antecedents I do not know! On such occasion I used to slowly sing in my heart the song , ‘a language that has evolved which has become our very breath and aspiring for the day when Tamil will be crowned with laurels.’ These things would occur in my heart as in a reverie.

When Hitler’s Armies occupied France, French General Charles de Gaulle had dispersed to London and established a Government in exile there. This is what is being done by Tamilians. Therefore it is very natural on the part of every Tamilian living in Europe to come to love Eelam land!

Even if we wanted to forget, after coming over here, it becomes very difficult to forget Prabakaran and Tamil Eelam! If any one raises a tirade of abuse against Diaspora Tamils alleging they are warring terrorists such accusations do not create pain in us! We tolerate the accusation!

Here the atmosphere is such that we could not bring ourselves to forget! So we are raising our voice! There we could not try to think. They denounce us .What can we do? Can a say word? In the event of any one trying to remove the name of Prabakaran from the minds of the Diaspora he has to remove the name of Europe firstYour browser may not support display of this image.

இவ் விடயம் 28. 12. 2011, (சனி),தமிழீழ நேரம் 0:25க்கு பதிவு செய்யப்பட்டது.Nerudal.Com

The collapse of the judiciary in present day fatal Sri Lanka

* Ketheeswaran Thevaraja no more - [December 3, 1983 - December 31, 2010]

* Current Sri Lanka negated of acceptable law and order

| by Sunalie Ratnayake

( January 09, Illinois -USA , Sri Lanka Guardian) With the dawn of the 2011, we get to hear another utterly devastating occurrence from Northern Sri Lanka. It is non other than the brutal murder of a 28 year old environmentalist, namely Ketheeswaran Thevaraja, who had been actively raising a forlorn voice against the illegitimate “sand excavation” that had been forever taking place in his parish, which he had loved with all his heart and soul.

In due course, he ended up paying the ultimate price of “death”, for the love for his land, for the wholeheartedness for nature, for the sake of righteousness, for the knack and nerve to stand up against all odds, in a land like no other.

Thevaraja who was actively voicing his displeasure, with regards to the ongoing unlawful sand excavation in his native soil, was also a well known figure amongst a certain preferred portion in the ever eminent facebook community, especially amongst people who had similar concerns, people who had a love for nature, people who had a vertebral column to stand up against injustice of many a nature, irrespective of their gender, ethnicity, age, locality, edification and so on and so forth.

Especially, Thevaraja was well known amongst Sri Lankan journalists and activists, including the ones in exile, and deals by and large in the cyber world (those not being able to operate their vocation genuinely from their motherland, due to obvious reasons in present day Sri Lanka), apart from Thevaraja’s antagonists who had known him too well, due to them continuing to be actively involved in pilfering the environment to attain illicit bucks, despite the valiant voice of this young man, raised against their brazen acts.

The corrosion of the soil he belonged to (due to profound sand excavations), as well as the highly recognizable corrosion of the ‘law and order’ in his soil, both uniformly troubled Thevaraja‘s young heart. And that was in the Northern Districts of his motherland, Sri Lanka, the Jaffna Peninsula. A native of Kudaththanai East, Thevaraja had been living in Vanni, and resettled in his village following the end of the Vanni war.

Reports indicate that the vigorous Thevaraja who had been shot on the head by gunmen that entered the house he was staying on that fateful night, had made a honest living as a postal worker in the region of Vadamarachchi in Jaffa peninsula. Despite being a straightforward ecological activist, no other unambiguous reasons seem to come into view, for him to undergo the viciousness of a cold blooded murder.

The John Lennon T-shirt and Thevaraja

Thevaraja’s facebook profile, which still exists up to this moment indicates albums uploaded by him, with pictures that depicts the environmental damage caused by illegal sand excavation in his village. In addition, there are pictures of himself clad in a black T-shirt on the vicinity of the excavations, a T-shirt which has the print of a picture of the renowned English musician John Lennon of the Beatles fame, with a mike in his hand.

As a matter of fact, John Lennon too was eminent for his forthrightness in making statements on all significant arenas, civic matters of grave concern, a man who spoke his mind, void of fear. Likewise, his music depicted a rebellious nature, and a prickly wittiness. Following his untimely death by murder, while announcing that there will be no funeral for John, his wife Yoko Ono made a statement ; “ John loved and prayed for the human race. Please pray the same for him.”

Sometimes in life, there could be strange connections between certain entities that seem to be inconsequential, and often overlooked, just as Thevaraja’s facebook photos clad in a black T-Shirt of John Lennon, Thevaraja’s ideologies, John Lennon’s philosophy in life, John Lennon’s sudden termination with four gunshots, Thevaraja’s sudden termination with gunshots on his head, though lives poles apart on the phase of the earth, the forthrightness of them both, and so on and so forth.

The Gloriosa Lily

Moreover, his facebook page portrays pictures of him clad in the aforesaid black Lennon T-shirt, holding the “gloriosa superba” lily and posing for the camera, giving significance to the red and yellow blossom, as if it was an indication of heroism.

The lily has more to it. Gloriosa superba is a protected plant in Zimbabwe, due to same being the national flower of the country. It is also the state flower of the Tamil Nadu state in India. Moreover, it was the national flower of Tamil Eelam, and as such was displayed by and large during the festivities of Maaveerar Day. Furthermore, it is the gloriosa lily, which is held by Lord Skanda a.k.a. Lord Kataragama, Murugan Katirkaman, Kadirkamam, Subrahmanya, Kandasamy, Kadiradeva, Katiradeva, Katiravel, Kartikeya, and Tarakajith, a lord of high veneration amongst many a Sri Lankan.

In Sinhala the lily is widely known as “Niyangalaa”, a flower of which the name alone (despite the fact of it being the flower held by the much worshiped Lord Kataragama) tend to give utter “panic” to many a Sri Lankan.

In my case, at a time I did not have a clue about the aforesaid facts, I always found it to be a beautiful and rather fascinating flower, which I often merrily plucked on my excursions to the Athugala in my mother’s hometown Kurunegala, and pompously brought to Botany class in school.

I also recall in my teenage years, on a trip to my father’s village Hanguranketha, I had him stop the vehicle by a cascade on the roadside, which had Niyangalaa plants booming with flowers, and I plucked a few plants from the vicinity, took them home and tried to breed them in a pot, which obviously did not work.
However, my point is, even if I was educated at that time, with regards to the numerous aspects for which this particular flower stood for, I would have still seen it as an attractive creation of nature, and it would have not freaked me out, for I shall have no intentions whatsoever of gulping it at any given point.

It is a flower that contains colchicine and related alkaloids, and are therefore dangerously toxic if ingested. Therefore, the fright of the lily alone, (fed and engrossed in the minds of many) may have forced for many to grab the wrong end of the stick, with regards to Thevaraja’s posing with same.

Unlawful Sand Excavations

The ongoing illegal sand excavation from dunes in Jaffna, by politically affiliated parties have caused severe damage to the environment, which in turn had caused it to become a significant public issue in the recent past. It is also noted that pro-government paramilitary forces supported by the EPDP (Eelam People’s Democratic Party) is responsible for this scheme. In the name of Maheswary Foundation, the sand dunes are scooped by politically backed contractors run by the EPDP’s pro-government paramilitary forces in the Jaffna peninsula.

Speaking of blessed features of nature that Sri Lanka holds, Vadamarachchi depicts a stretch of well recognized sand dunes, which is an exceptional geographical attribute in the Jaffna peninsula. The Northeast winds deposits the sand in the Jaffna peninsula, which is initially dragged by the transportation of sediments (in this case, sand), at an angle to the shoreline, along the coast, and this littoral drift or longshore drift transports the sand from the Indian subcontinent towards Jaffna.

A sequence of homicides

Not only the 31st night murder of Thevaraja, that occurred considerably with the patronage of the current regime’s interested fractions, but it can be significantly noted, even by the most biased or unbiased fragments, that there had been a sequence, as per the homicides in the country’s northern Jaffana Peninsula, during the weeks that just happened to pass by, in the latter part of 2011.

These vicious cycles of incidents further adds to the trepidation of a so-called “free” and “peaceful” land. Where is that ‘liberty’ quite often than not, mentioned in government-backed-news-media, as well as the same being a frequent limerick uttered by government politicians and their enthusiasts, to a mere row of microphones on press conferences, or on political propaganda podiums, or on so-called political debates in TV ?

In point of fact, what kind of connotation does the word “peace” hold in present day Sri Lanka ? Or, freedom, peace, democracy, justice - are they meager words that happen to withdraw into thin air, within fractions of seconds, and with the occurrence of each new murder, hooliganism, intimidation, oppression, “illicit verdict” in courts or “gangster act” outside courts and much more ?

The blind-eye of the Rajapaksa Brotherhood

Does the accountable authorities, and the “Rajapaksa Brotherhood”, whom most prominent authorities are under in present day Sri Lanka, (and them being the critical decision makers of the land) even stand up, in aspects of truly implementing perceptible freedom, democracy, justice and peace in the island ? Following two years and eight months of winning the war against the blood thirsty LTTE, even today the Rajapaksa Brotherhood and their benefactors are blowing the trumpet, and the same obsolete whistle of winning the war.

What about the aftermath ? What about post-war aid to the innocent masses who already suffered a crucial providence for nearly three decades ? Where are they to turn to for facilitation ? They are not asking too much, but a mere means of living a decent life, just like any other ordinary citizen. Are these Tamil people, who are also part and parcel of Sri Lanka, some kind of joke to the preeminence ? Are their pleas an unheard echo in a far away abyss of banshee ? If so, why ? Is the Sri Lankan government that merciless ? Don’t the operators of the government have hearts that beat, pulses that throb, feelings that sense,, consciences that comprehend, or in the least, brains that work in the right direction ?

Not all are blind

Despite the wishful thinking of the Rajapaksa Brotherhood and their ardent adherents, it should be well noted that not the entire populace is blind or dumb, or at least not at the same time. Thus, a noteworthy throng living both in Sri Lanka and overseas can evidently see and understand what truly is taking place behind those fraudulent masks of bamboozle. It’s just the sheer fact, given the circumstances, that those not blind, yet living in Sri Lanka cannot open their jawbones, and voice out the reality (quite often than not, as the views of the citizenry opposes that of the government), in apparent fear of their lives. In order to do anything, an individual should first be breathing and alive.

True enough, we no longer experience the apprehensive bombs and blasts in public situates. We no longer hear the engines and gyratory propellers of TIGER planes roaming in the night skies of the city. True enough, the elimination of the LTTE after nearly three decades of absolute suffering is more than a blessing to a thrice blessed isle, and we perceptibly know whom to be grateful for same. After all, we are no ungrateful nation, yet, the current state of affairs does not by any means confirm that Sri Lanka is a peaceful and free land, where it‘s masses can live happily ever after.

The beginning of a fear-provoking era

People, especially those who like to be happy in their dreams, and daydreams quite often that not, must wake up from their slothful slumber and comprehend the reality beneath the icing of the cake. Now, once again, the machinery of the state have started to operate at a rate, where at times I wonder whether history is repeating thyself.

There was a time in my childhood, way before I even had thoughts of turning into Journalism, or never even had the wildest dreams of writing on behalf of those who had no voice of themselves, a time where the machinery of the then regimes devastated my island, especially the south, slaughtering prospective youth like mincemeat, for obvious reasons of shielding themselves, and grasping into perverse “power”.

Numerous significant journalists, activists and many more customary individuals that engaged in their daily routines started to abruptly disappear, and their stock-still bodies, following profound torture, were later found on seashores, or treetops or hanging from high tension wires and bridges, or charcoaled to death on tyres.

Now I fear, as if to whether such agonizing history is unveiling, repeating itself at a significant rate, and in the watchful eye of yet another so-called democratic regime.

Not only the murder of Thevaraja, but also the recent murder of a foreigner in Tangalle, in which the core suspect (Tangalle Pradeshiya Sabha Chairman, Sampath Chandra Pushpa) notably happens to be a high-flying member of the current ruling alliance, is yet another revolting act that adds an apparent black mark to the judicial system in the country.

It is not yet another sadism against tourists that may influence a dwindle in the tourism industry of the island, but it also demonstrates the departure of Law and Order, where criminal mobs ecstatically happen to enjoy the ostensible impunity, with the total patronage of the current regime. Why couldn’t the police arrest the prime suspect, until he surrendered himself a few days ago ?

As per the surrender of the aforesaid suspect, the Hong Kong based AHRC (Asian Human Rights Commission) in their statement disclosed the following : "Due to the publicity this incident has attracted Chairman Vidanapathirana surrendered to the police. On assurance of anonymity, a policeman explained that such surrenders are nothing but a game. All the conditions of how to deal with the situation and the manner in which the surrendering suspects are to be released are all prearranged, he said. The whole process of criminal investigations is so manipulated by the government politicians that in many similar incidents the suspects have escaped any criminal punishment."

Apart from the foreigner’s murder in Tangalle, and the Thevaraja episode in Jaffna, there have also been a number of continued abductions and killings from various other parts of the island, as of late.

As stated above, other than the incidents highlighted in this article, the fact should also be noted that there have been ample other examples in the most recent past, where unabashed violations of law had occurred, yet the government enforces, which I call a “dumb-eye-effect” to each and every case, which otherwise should be of grave concern. When shall this lunacy of the state’s machinery operators come to a standstill ? When shall Sri Lanka attain the true meaningful essence of freedom, peace, law and order ? The truth is out there and it indeed is disturbing, with the passing of the hour.

Thevaraja is no more, but it’s not going to be the end of oppression in the land like no other. God only knows, who the next victim may turn out to be. Thevaraja loved the soil he was born, and was nurtured in. He loved the nature and the humankind, and worked and prayed for the betterment of same, in his own simple capacity. The least we could do is to pray for him, and pray for a next victim to not emerge. And for the repellent nature of the present day governance to change.

Sunalie Ratnayake could be reached at sunalie.secretandbeyond@yahoo.com or sue@srilankaguardian.org

, ,

Recognizing the "Unpeople"

| by Noam Chomsky

( January 09, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian)  On June 15, three months after the NATO bombing of Libya began, the African Union presented to the U.N. Security Council the African position on the attack – in reality, bombing by their traditional imperial aggressors: France and Britain, joined by the U.S., which initially coordinated the assault, and marginally some other nations.

It should be recalled that there were two interventions. The first, under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, adopted on March 17, called for a no-fly zone, a cease-fire and measures to protect civilians. After a few moments, that intervention was cast aside as the imperial triumvirate joined the rebel army, serving as its air force.

At the outset of the bombing, the A.U. called for efforts at diplomacy and negotiations to try to head off a likely humanitarian catastrophe in Libya. Within the month, the A.U. was joined by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) and others, including the major regional NATO power Turkey.

In fact, the triumvirate was quite isolated in its attacks – undertaken to eliminate the mercurial tyrant whom they had supported when it was advantageous. The hope was for a regime likelier to be amenable to Western demands for control over Libya’s rich resources and, perhaps, to offer an African base for the U.S. Africa command AFRICOM, so far confined to Stuttgart.

No one can know whether the relatively peaceful efforts called for in U.N. Resolution 1973, and backed by most of the world, might have succeeded in averting the terrible loss of life and the destruction that followed in Libya.

On June 15, the A.U. informed the Security Council that “ignoring the A.U. for three months and going on with the bombings of the sacred land of Africa has been high-handed, arrogant and provocative.” The A.U. went on to present a plan for negotiations and policing within Libya by A.U. forces, along with other measures of reconciliation – to no avail.

The A.U. call to the Security Council also laid out the background for their concerns: “Sovereignty has been a tool of emancipation of the peoples of Africa who are beginning to chart transformational paths for most of the African countries after centuries of predation by the slave trade, colonialism and neocolonialism. Careless assaults on the sovereignty of African countries are, therefore, tantamount to inflicting fresh wounds on the destiny of the African peoples.”

The African appeal can be found in the Indian journal Frontline, but was mostly unheard in the West. That comes as no surprise: Africans are “unpeople,” to adapt George Orwell’s term for those unfit to enter history.

On March 12, the Arab League gained the status of people by supporting U.N. Resolution 1973. But approval soon faded when the League withheld support for the subsequent Western bombardment of Libya.

And on April 10, the Arab League reverted to unpeople by calling on the U.N. also to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza and to lift the Israeli siege, virtually ignored.

That too makes good sense. Palestinians are prototypical unpeople, as we see regularly. Consider the November/December issue of Foreign Affairs, which opened with two articles on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

One, written by Israeli officials Yosef Kuperwasser and Shalom Lipner, blamed the continuing conflict on the Palestinians for refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state (keeping to the diplomatic norm: States are recognized, but not privileged sectors within them).

The second, by American scholar Ronald R. Krebs, attributes the problem to the Israeli occupation; the article is subtitled: “How the Occupation Is Destroying the Nation.” Which nation? Israel, of course, harmed by having its boot on the necks of unpeople.

Another illustration: In October, headlines trumpeted the release of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who had been captured by Hamas. The article in The New York Times Magazine was devoted to his family’s suffering. Shalit was freed in exchange for hundreds of unpeople, about whom we learned little, apart from sober debate as to whether their release might harm Israel.

We also learned nothing about the hundreds of other detainees held in Israeli prisons for long periods without charge.

Among the unmentioned prisoners are the brothers Osama and Mustafa Abu Muamar, civilians kidnapped by Israel forces that raided Gaza City on June 24, 2006 – the day before Shalit was captured. The brothers were then “disappeared” into Israel’s prison system.

Whatever one thinks of capturing a soldier from an attacking army, kidnapping civilians is plainly a far more serious crime – unless, of course, they are mere unpeople.

To be sure, these crimes do not compare with many others, among them the mounting attacks on Israel’s Bedouin citizens, who live in southern Israel’s Negev.

They are again being expelled under a new program designed to destroy dozens of Bedouin villages to which they had been driven earlier. For benign reasons, of course. The Israeli cabinet explained that 10 Jewish settlements would be founded there “to attract a new population to the Negev” – that is, to replace unpeople with legitimate people. Who could object to that?

The strange breed of unpeople can be found everywhere, including the U.S.: in the prisons that are an international scandal, the food kitchens, the decaying slums.

But examples are misleading. The world’s population as a whole teeters on the edge of a black hole.

We have daily reminders, even from very small incidents – for instance, last month, when Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives barred a virtually costless reorganization to investigate the causes of the weather extremes of 2011 and to provide better forecasts.

Republicans feared that it might be an opening wedge for “propaganda” on global warming, a nonproblem according to the catechism recited by the candidates for the nomination of what years ago used to be an authentic political party.

Poor sad species.

© 2011 Noam Chomsky

Distributed by The New York Times Syndicate.

| by Sonali Samarasinghe Wickrematunge

( January 09, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Marks the third death anniversary of Lasantha Wickrematunge a human rights journalist from Sri Lanka who fought fearlessly for the freedom of the press and relentlessly pursued what he believed was right. On January 8, 2009 he was brutally murdered by the Sri Lankan authorities for his journalism.

Three years after Lasantha’s brutal murder despite the vapid assurances of the Rajapakse regime to the international community, Sri Lanka has turned into a lawless state of abductions, rape and murder with at least two of these incidents taking place in the New Year.

Concentration of power and finances

Even as there is an overwhelming concentration of power and finances in the ruling family, every one of Sri Lanka’s democratic institutions has metastasized into something dangerous and poisonous.

Christmas day was marred by the brutal murder in the South of Sri Lanka, of a British tourist Kuram Shaikah Zaman – a prosthetics expert who had worked for the ICRC in the Gaza strip. His friend a 23-year-old Russian woman was raped with one witness telling the local media that four men “stripped and raped her mercilessly although she was bleeding from her head.” The main suspect in the case is ruling party politician and well-known thug Sampath Vidanapathirana a close friend of the Rajapakse family.

Refuge for criminals and rapscallions

Clearly the ruling regime has become a refuge for criminals and rapscallions as the Sri Lankan government fails to maintain law and order and encourages lawlessness and criminal behaviour instead.

Local media has also reported that the suspect Vidanapathirana had earlier been arrested for the murder of an elderly woman in the run-up to the 2010 Presidential elections but had been released on the basis of a mental disability report filed by the police on his behalf. Despite this he continues in active politics under the protection of the Rajapakse family.

Though the police are conducting preliminary investigations into these gruesome crimes, hopes of justice remain slim as with every other bogus murder investigation commenced for public and international consumption under the watch of the Rajapakse regime.

The name of the game

Inexplicably the police did not even arrest Vidanapathirana and waited insteads for him to surrender a few days later. Here’s what the Asian Human Rights Commission – a staunch human rights defender based in Hong Kong, said regarding the surrender. "Due to the publicity this incident has attracted Chairman Vidanapathirana surrendered to the police. On assurance of anonymity, a policeman explained that such surrenders are nothing but a game. All the conditions of how to deal with the situation and the manner in which the surrendering suspects are to be released are all prearranged, he said. The whole process of criminal investigations is so manipulated by the government politicians that in many similar incidents the suspects have escaped any criminal punishment."

Yet tourism authorities and hoteliers in the country have preferred to call this a random act and have advised the media to sweep the incident under the carpet for fear it would hurt the expected tourist boom.

Surely material surplus and economic progress cannot make up for the erosion of our society and the destruction of our moral compass.


If this were not enough, a 25 year old man Dinesh Buddhika Charitanda was abducted on January 3 this year and his body bearing head injuries was found near the Keleni river close to Grand Pass in Colombo. A week earlier, the body of a fish vender who had been abducted by an unknown group was found dead in the same manner at Mutuwal, Colombo.

On 2nd January a man named Mohammad Nistar, was abducted by a group in a white van as he was traveling in a three-wheeler. Sometime later his body was found with bullet wounds to the head. The Asian Human Rights Commission says Mr. Nistar was engaged in the rehabilitation of drug addicts. No one has been arrested for his abduction and murder.

Abduction after abduction

In early December of last year two young men, Lalith Kumar Weeraju and Kugan Murugan, were abducted and have since disappeared. According to human rights groups these two young men were activists campaigning for the International Day for Human Rights on December 10.

On October 27, 2011 a well-known astrologer Mohamed Sali Mohamed Niyas was abducted by a group of armed men and several days later his body was found on the shores of Akkaraipattu in the East of Sri Lanka.

Even the worst scoundrel is entitled to due process of the law and labels in the media of alleged drug dealing as in the case of young Dinesh Buddhika does not absolve the government from its responsibility to uphold the rule of law.

With a total lack of accountability for the war, a disappointing LLRC report that failed to recognize the importance of accountability and justice, and the failure to properly investigate the murders of journalists like Lasantha Wickrematunge, little wonder the commonly held belief that these continued abductions and murders are taking place with the direct or indirect knowledge of the police and with the tacit approval of ruling party politicians.

Powerful friends

Another example is that of Duminda Silva, a Member of Parliament and a close confidant of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapakse. Mr. Silva allegedly a drug dealer was responsible for the attack that led to Baratha Lakshman Premachandra and several others being killed. Yet Duminda Silva remains under the careful protective wing of his powerful friend.

These countless murders, abductions and assaults are not random acts or accidental killings. These are acts of violence that have become emblematic of the current leadership, the erosion of society and the impunity with which the regime now operates.

Any kind of political dissent has been crushed as was demonstrated recently when opposition parliamentarians were assaulted inside parliament itself. Despite death threats and other forms of intimidation of the media no serious investigations into these complaints are ever conducted.

Demonic repetition

When my husband was brutally murdered in 2009, when journalist Prageeth Ekneliyagoda was disappeared in 2010, civil society, the media and human rights organizations said enough was enough. But we have seen that these acts of violence still continue to take place with demonic repetition.

Despite overwhelming evidence, still no investigation

In the 36 months that have elapsed since Lasantha’s murder, there has been virtually no investigation into this crime.

Police had earlier succeeded in taking into custody five mobile phones, which on the day Lasantha was killed, moved in the same pattern as his phone. Police say the phones that passed through 11 cellular phone towers that day have not been used before or since the day of the killing. However, they have not been disconnected either. According to police, one of the five phones appears to have been used to monitor and control the entire operation. A track path of the calls made between the five telephones indicates that they communicated regularly with each other, constantly calling one particular mobile.

One of the five phone numbers indicated on the mobile path shows a call having been made from the spot Lasantha was attacked. According to witnesses, the assassins all rode a uniform make and type of motorcycle. A motorcycle allegedly used in the attack had been recovered the government claimed.

Soldiers arrested and released

During the course of 2010 seven soldiers belonging to the Sri Lankan army's Military Intelligence Directorate--a unit headed by a close confidant of former Army Commander General Fonseka--were detained for questioning by the Terrorist Investigations Department (TID) and the Criminal Investigations Department (CID). The seven soldiers were separated from an original 17 who were taken into police custody. All 17 have since been released.

Suspect mysteriously dies

In October 2011 the only suspect remaining in custody Pitchai Jesudasan mysteriously died. According to the B Report submitted by the Terrorist Investigations Department dated March 30, 2010, Pitchai Jesudasan was arrested for the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunge and attempted murder of the then Editor of the Rivira newspaper Upali Tennakoon and previous attack on Deputy Editor for the Nation newspaper Keith Noyahr.
With relation to the murder of Wickrematunge police charged that Jesudasan’s national ID had been used to obtain the five SIM cards which were later believed to have been used by the five man hit squad who trailed and murdered my husband on January 8, 2009.

Should be investigated

Jesudasan may have died of natural causes but the circumstances of his death in custody give rise to questions and therefore must be independently investigated.

Moreover, despite the existence of numerous witnesses, no accurate description of the attack on my husband was ever made public by the police. Had there been even the slightest political will to solve this murder the apprehension of his murderers would have been child's play.

Certainly taken together, all this can leave little doubt in a rational mind that Lasantha’s murder has been the focus of an extensive—if clumsy—cover up.

International Community must act

As we remember Lasantha and his work and other journalists and activists around the world who have paid the supreme price in the line of duty, I call upon the international community to urge Sri Lanka’s government to hold a proper independent investigation into Lasantha’s murder, to bring back the rule of law rather than the rule of one family, to delink the police from the defence establishment, to properly disengage the army from civil administration, to restore the Seventeenth Amendment in order to ensure independent commissions for the Police, Judiciary, Bribery, Finance, Elections and Human Rights Commissions and to sincerely effectively and meaningfully deal with issues of accountability that now plague our nation.

, , , ,

Main elements of US foreign towards Asia

| by B.Raman

( Salient points of a presentation that I will be making at a seminar on Re-evaluating US Foreign Policy Towards Asia being jointly organised at the University of Madras on January 9,2012, by the Chennai Centre For China Studies, the Centre For Asia Studies, Chennai, and the Department of Politics and Public Administration of the University of Madras ) 

( January 09, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian ) As President Obama nears the end of his first term and gets ready to seek a second term, he has sought to give a new focus to the US foreign policy towards Asia.

U.S. President Barack Obama (C) has lunch with with winners of a campaign contest at Scion Restaurant January 6, 2012 in Washington, DC. Four small-amount campaign donors won the opportunity to have lunch with the president after winning a contest the Obama re-election campaign is using as an incentive for online election donations. - Getty Images
2.This new focus is marked by two characteristics.Firstly, an open and uninhibited expression of US concerns over China’s ever-increasing economic and military capabilities and its far from transparent intentions. Secondly, an open expression of the US determination to maintain and strengthen its capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region in order to safeguard the strategic interests of not only the US, but also other like-minded countries which share the US concerns over China’s capabilities and intentions. Prominent among such like-minded countries are Japan, South Korea, Australia, the Philippines, Vietnam and India.

3. While the first three years of Obama’s first term were marked by preoccupation with the threats emanating to the security of the US Homeland from the Af-Pak region and from the global terrorists operating from that region, the coming years of the Obama Presidency will be marked by a new preoccupation with likely threats to the US economic, commercial and other strategic interests from the increasing capabilities and intentions of China and to the critical infrastructure ---civilian as well as military-- in the US Homeland from the well-concealed Chinese cyber war capabilities.

4.The US does not anticipate a conventional war with China, but it does fear a major threat from China to its naval primacy in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean regions and to its commercial interests in the region marked by the passage of nearly US $ 1.2 trillion of its foreign trade every year through the South China Sea. The US also fears a major threat to its critical infrastructure in the US Homeland as well as overseas from the Chinese cyber war capabilities.

5. The US nervousness is increased by the fact that while considerable information is available on China’s modernisation and expansion of its conventional, nuclear and space-related capabilities, very little information is available on China’s cyber war capabilities. Till recently, fears over likely threats to US nationals and interests from the attempts of Al Qaeda-led global terrorists to acquire weapons of mass destruction capabilities remained an important driving force of the US strategic doctrine. Since the beginning of last year, there are indications that fears over likely threats to the US critical infrastructure, in times of peace and war, from China’s cyber war capabilities have become an important driving force of the US strategic doctrine relating to the Asia-Pacific region.

6. Since May last year, there have been reliable reports in sections of the US media about the examination of the outlines of a cyber war doctrine to meet the new needs of the expanding threat scenario. A significant element of the cyber war doctrine reportedly under contemplation is making explicit the US determination to use its military forces in response to a cyber attack if the gravity of the attack crosses a certain threshold. These reports of a cyber war doctrine under evolution and the recent decisions of the Obama Administration to maintain and strengthen its military capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region are meant to convey a carefully-disguised cautionary to China to behave itself not only in the high seas, but also in the cyber space. The US is determined to prevent China from acquiring an asymmetric advantage in cyber space by threatening China with a military response against targets in its territory to neutralise its cyber war capabilities should it become necessary.

7. The Pentagon’s strategic defence guidance document titled "Sustaining US Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense" released at a press conference attended by Obama on January 5,2012, says as follows: “Over the long term, China’'s emergence as a regional power will have the potential to affect the U.S. economy and our security in a variety of ways. Our two countries have a strong stake in peace and stability in East Asia and an interest in building a cooperative bilateral relationship. However, the growth of China’'s military power must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region. The United States will continue to make the necessary investments to ensure that we maintain regional access and the ability to operate freely in keeping with our treaty obligations and with international law.␣ ␣ Working closely with our network of allies and partners, we will continue to promote a rules-based international order that ensures underlying stability and encourages the peaceful rise of new powers, economic dynamism, and constructive defense cooperation.”

8. The focus in the Pentagon document released to the media is on China’s non-cyber capabilities, but there are reports that the US is equally concerned---if not more---over China’s cyber warfare capabilities and intentions.

9. The US is still keen on strengthening a co-operative convergence with China to restore the health of the global economy, to deal with problems relating to climate and environment and to de-nuclearise Iran and North Korea. Nuclear non- proliferation will continue to be an important US foreign policy objective. For this, it needs the co-operation of China. At the same time, there are growing concerns in Washington DC that the USA’s benign strategic intentions and objectives might not be matched by equally benign Chinese intentions and objectives. It would, therefore, be necessary to reinforce the US presence and capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

10. This objective is sought to be achieved by a unilateral revamp of the US presence and capabilities and through co-operation with other like-minded and equally concerned countries without giving an impression of an attempt to promote a new alliance to contain China. What the new Pentagon document talks of is not a new alliance, but a network of US allies and partners. Though not explicitly stated, the US obviously views Japan, South Korea and Australia as allies in this network and India, Vietnam, the Philippines and possibly other ASEAN countries as partners. These unilateral and multilateral efforts will be projected in the months to come not as an attempt to contain China, but as an exercise to bring China into the mainstream of Asian peace and security.

11. The US is interested in India playing an activist role in this new exercise for a network of allies and partners, but does India reciprocate this interest? The answer to this is not clear. India has already been playing an activist role in relation to its strategic co-operation with Myanmar, Vietnam , Japan and South Korea. It has also been increasing its strategic co-operation with Singapore and Australia. Its relations with the US have improved in the fields of counter-terrorism and maritime security. But India is still inclined to view these relationships as without any linkages or networking which could trigger off alarm in Beijing.

12.India and the other Asian countries with which India has established a one-to-one strategic partnership share the openly expressed US concerns over China’s capabilities, intentions and objectives, but they are not prepared to say so openly. They would want to promote a policy of mutual consultations and assistance in security matters, but not in a manner that could alarm China.

13.India has its own unique concerns relating to China arising from the failure of the India-China border talks to make any progress and the growing strategic co-operation between China and Pakistan. It has to evolve its own strategy for dealing with China in a manner that would not make these two issues more complex and complicated than they are now. What would be in India’s interest is not a networked relationship, but a mutually assisted and reinforced relationship on a one-to-one basis with a gradually expanding basket of issues that could promote a strategic convergence.

14.Two such issues in the Indo-US strategic basket relate to counter-terrorism and maritime security. The time has come to add cyber security not only against non-State actors, but also against common States of concern to this basket. China’s undetermined cyber warfare capabilities could pose as much of a threat to India as they do to the US. The time has also come for the US and Indian Navies to think of a graduated surge in their navy-to-navy co-operation by way of training, joint exercises, exchanges of visits, intelligence liaison etc. ( 8-1-12) 

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: seventyone2@gmail.com Twitter : @SORBONNE75 )