| A Statement issued by the National Peace Council

( May 18, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) What can be said about someone naked who steals the clothes of his opponent and parades them as his own to hide his own nakedness? The Editor of the Daily News has shamelessly misappropriated the statements used by the National Peace Council (NPC) to expose his ignorance and confusion of history and parades them as his own. We ask the readers to compare the NPC Statement refuting his original editorial (which he did not publish) and his latest editorial in the issue of 16/05/2014 titled “CAN HE TELL HIS ELBOW FROM HIS ...?”

According to the Editor in his editorial of 14/05/2014, “Besides, it is a fallacy to say that Civil War victories are not celebrated in the US or any other part of the world. The 4th of July celebrations which commemorate the US Revolutionary war is also a commemoration of an American civil war as what is called the Revolutionary war was also a series of battles fought for the Union -- as much as the war against the Confederates was also a war for unification. Americans fought Americans in the American Revolutionary War except that one side was comprised of loyalists who fought out of loyalty to the British Empire. So when the wooly headed simpletons of the National Peace Council say that no country celebrates a Civil War they are either saying that 4th of July does not mark a celebration or that the United States of America is not a respectable country, which opinion of course they are entitled to if they really want to believe in it...”

Here is what we, the NPC said in its reply: “The Editor of the Daily News seems to be all mixed up about the American War of Independence which raged from 1777-1783 and the American Civil War which took place a century later in 1860s. The latter was a Civil War between the North and the South. 600,000 people were killed”.

Here is what the Editor said after reading our statement but without publishing it.

“What can be said about somebody who mixes up the two most noteworthy historical events in the US -- the Revolutionary War that led to the creation of the United States as we know the country, and the Civil War which was fought against the Confederate States that seceded?”

When the NPC statement reached the Editor, he realizing his monumental blunder contacted the Executive Director and expressed his concerns at having being depicted as getting things mixed up. Meanwhile the Sri Lanka Brief Website had had published the NPC Statement on 15.05.2014 with the following comment “Sri Lanka: Daily News Editor doesn’t know the difference between War of Independence (1775- 83) and Civil War (1861-64) in America.” So without publishing the NPC Statement the Editor writes another editorial copying what we said and suppressing our own statement.

“Who mixed up what? Let the readers decide.

The Editor does however continue to maintain his position that the American War of Independence was a war fought by Americans against other Americans. According to Wikipedia not more than 20% were loyalists (to the British rulers) and they too dropped out as the war escalated. Why were they loyalists? Some American historians say it was because they were pacifists. See “Which side to take: Revolutionary or loyalist? BY CAROLE WATTERSON TROXLER (Reprinted by permission from Tar Heel Junior Historian 32, no. 1 (Fall 1992): 7-12, copyright North Carolina Museum of History.)

Here is what she says “Starting in 1765 the Americans rejected the authority of Parliament to tax them without elected representation; protests escalated as in the Boston Tea Party of 1773, and the British imposed punitive laws—the Intolerable Acts—on Massachusetts in 1774. In 1774 the Patriots suppressed the Loyalists and expelled all royal officials. Each colony now had a new government that took control. The British responded by sending combat troops to re-establish royal control. Through the Second Continental Congress, the Patriots fought the British in the American Revolutionary War (1775 - 1783).Some people tried to avoid taking sides. This usually did not work. About a year after the Declaration of Independence was signed, the North Carolina revolutionary government made laws requiring men of military age to take an oath of allegiance to the new state government and to serve in one of its military forces. Some exceptions were made for members of four Christian religious groups that were widely recognized as pacifists. These were the Quakers, Moravians, Mennonites, and Dunkers (also known as German Baptists). The state’s government allowed members of these four groups to avoid military service by paying taxes three or four times higher than the usual rate. But pacifists other than members of these four religious groups were not allowed to get out of military service. Carole illustrates the sentiments of the ‘’loyalists’ from the views of one such loyalist (he refused to take arms though).

The Editor has the hypocrisy to state that “Perera has to be prodded with a curling iron and told that these two wars were fought almost a hundred years apart. Which University did he go to NOT know that? Why doesn’t he first learn the basics of American history instead of hysterically attempting to conflate two separate events in the narrative past of that nation?” Sir, not we but you did so, and you should apply these statements to yourself.

The Editor like some others confuses “commemoration” of an event with its celebration. They are not the same. Commemoration can take various forms including Remembrance as on November 11th after the First World War and without the military parades of a victory celebration. We still maintain that although several Empires such as the Turkish Empire, the Russian Empire, waged civil wars and won them they don’t celebrate their war victories against their own people. India is a country that has faced several insurgencies but does not celebrate the victory of the state over the militants. One example would be the separatist Sikh campaign that even led to the assassination of an Indian Prime Minister, Mrs Indira Gandhi in 1984, but after the insurgency was quelled a decade later there have been no celebrations of the deaths of the militant leaders or of the victory of the state security forces.

We also take issue with Mr H L D Mahindapala whose article “Jehan (Pacha) Perera has done it again” was published on the page opposite the editorial of the Daily News on the same day. One of the points made in this article is that, to quote him, “When I met Jehan in Geneva I asked him why he keeps on boosting Balasingham's image with a doctorate which he has not received from any university. He admitted that Balasingham is not qualified to be titled with a "Dr" but he did so because others did it.” This was a truthful answer and belies the claim of “Pacha”. There was certainly no reason for him to give any assurance to Mr Mahindapala regarding how he would address the late LTTE ideologue upon his return to Sri Lanka, as Mr Mahindapala had no moral authority or legal standing to make any such demand. The National Peace Council also wishes to assert that its media releases are the responsibility of its Governing Council and not of any single individual and Mr Mahindapala is making a false allegation (Pacha) when he attributes our media release to Jehan Perera.

Finally, the National Peace Council wishes to express its deep anxiety at the flagship media institution of the Government of Sri Lanka which takes the message of the government to the English-reading public and international community engaging in such crass journalism. It is a violation of media ethics not to grant the Right of Reply to those who have been commented upon, both editorially and in the main feature article in a newspaper. It is also a violation of media ethics to use a national newspaper, especially the government’s own flagship newspaper, to engage in personal vendetta.