D.B.S.Jeyaraj and the bogey of the reincarnation of the Tiger: Battle of the Fourth Estate in Post Civil War Sri Lanka
The ethnic conflict and civil war in Sri Lanka have been fuelled by many actors from various ethnic communities from within the country as well as from abroad, especially since 1972. Three most critical groups of actors within the Tamil minority community who have fuelled this conflict are the entire armed Tamil militants, most Tamil democratic politicians, and few Tamil journalists.
The most notable of the latter are David Buell Sabapathy Jeyaraj (popularly known as David Jeyaraj or DBS in short) and the late Dharmaratnam Sivaram (whose nom de plume was Taraki). Both Jeyaraj and Sivaram have been oscillating as advocates of both the devils in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict and civil war (the State and the Tigers) from time to time. During most part of his career as a journalist DBS has been concocting stories on behest of both the devils in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict from over ten thousand kilometres away, while Sivaram has been residing in Sri Lanka throughout his life. The singular advantage these two Tamil journalists had vis-à-vis other (especially Tamil) journalists in Sri Lanka was their competency in all three languages; English, Sinhala, and Tamil. These two members of the fourth estate used and abused their comparative advantage for personal (material) gain and (immaterial) glory. Sivaram has been able to even dupe western academics such as Mark Whitaker who called him “…….a revolutionary Tamil journalist…..”. My criticism of these two journalists should not be misconstrued as condoning the killing of Sivaram in 2005 or severe physical attack on DBS in the streets of Scarborough (Toronto) sometime in the early 1990s.
It is in the light of the foregoing that this article is penned and the immediate cause is the article by DBS titled “A bigger plan by the LTTE nipped in the bud” published in the Daily Mirror (Sri Lankan daily newspaper) of 29 March 2014, which raises more questions than it answers. The first time I suspected DBS’s credibility was when he wrote a detailed article in the same Daily Mirror immediately after the last Presidential Election about four years ago (in February 2010) about the rivalry between the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka and the Rajapaksa brothers to share the spoils of the civil war. The second time I suspected DBS’s credibility and honesty was when he atrociously defended the blatant lies written by Niromi de Soyza in her purported memoir in a series of articles written during December 2011 and January 2012 in response to the criticisms of the memoir leveled by a number of people including this author. Now for the third time, in my memory, DBS has played the role of devil’s advocate in writing an article on the purported reincarnation of the LTTE in Sri Lanka. Besides, even before the Government of Sri Lanka officially proscribed a number of pro-Tiger groups in the Diaspora in early April 2014, DBS has written about the impending proscription in his personal blog. The foregoing reveals that DBS writes from Canada on the basis of information second handedly fed to him by vested interests in Sri Lanka as well as the Diaspora.
David Jeyaraj, in contravention of ethics and principles of journalism, hides his lies by writing almost entirely in his personal blog www.dbsjeyaraj.com which he solely moderates and thereby prevents corrections, alternative viewpoints, and adverse comments on or criticism of his writings becoming public. The Daily Mirror also connives with DBS in hiding his untruths by not publishing critical comments about his articles by its readers including this author.
This author’s primary concern is NOT about the truths or untruths of DBS’s writings in general, and in the aforementioned articles in particular. My primary concern is how did DBS know such minute details of incidences and occurrences that had taken place or takes place more than ten thousand kilometres away from his abode in Toronto? By his own admission DBS has not visited Sri Lanka since he fled the country in the late 1980s until late 2013. In this circumstance, how did DBS investigate or collect information about members of the Sri Lanka Army who had supported their former Field Commander Sarath Fonseka and the Commander-in-Chief President Rajapaksa or the purported reincarnation of the LTTE in Tharmapuram (in the Kilinochchi district along the Paranthan-Puthukudiyirupu Road) in particular or in the Northern Province in general? Is it correct, in terms of professional ethics, to report on such sensitive matters from information obtained through vested interests? How does DBS verify the authenticity of such information from over ten thousand kilometres away?
His latest article on the purported reincarnation of the LTTE in Sri Lanka makes me seriously suspect that DBS’s recent visit to Sri Lanka after a lapse of almost twenty-five years was state-sponsored, state-orchestrated, and military-escorted. If not, how come he was taken by the Sri Lanka Navy to view the Ramar Palam (Ramar Bridge) at the Indo-Lanka maritime border in northwestern Sri Lanka off the Mannar Island? Is he such a VIP? Moreover, I seriously suspect that DBS’s visit to Sri Lanka and his spectacular revelation about the purported reincarnation of the LTTE (just two days after the UNHRC resolution was passed) was state—orchestrated to counter the resolution against the Sri Lankan State in the annual sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva and reinvent the bogey of the Tigers.
Although I do not know any information about GOPI and his accomplices, I deeply suspect the claim made by DBS that they were plotting a high-profile assassination in Colombo or the suburbs “utilising the element of surprise”. Although I do not have any first-hand information as DBS claims to have, circumstantial evidence does not indicate any truth in such a spectacular claim. I know for sure that a small section of the Tamil Diaspora wants to take revenge on the Rajapaksas in particular and the Sri Lankan State in general for the defeat of the LTTE. However, their targeting of the Rajapaksas and the Sri Lankan State is through the United Nations in particular and the international community in general; in which they seem to have been successful after almost five years since the demise of the Tigers. Under this positive outcome, a fringe of the Tamil Diaspora would not indulge in or instigate violence in Sri Lanka and sully their “victory”.
The reinvention of the bogey of the Tigers in the name of Gopi and his accomplices (including Jeyakumari, et al) appears to be a counter offensive and part of a master plan by the Sri Lankan State against the UNHRC resolution passed on 27 March 2014. By reviving the fear psychosis among the northern population, the State is attempting to intimidate the potential eyewitnesses to the impending international inquiry into the violations of the international laws of armed conflict. For example, recently few hundreds of youths were asked to assemble in a playground in Vattukottai in the Jaffna peninsula for inquiry by the military. Few of them were taken away for further investigation, but local people insist that the few youths taken away for further investigation were not from their area. It appears that youths are taken from outside a cordoned-off area and then taken back from the same area to give an impression to local population that their cordon and search operation was successful in apprehending few suspects.
Pursuit of the politics of vengeance by both the Tamil Diaspora and the Sri Lankan State in the aftermath of the civil war has been one of the biggest impediments to reconciliation among different ethnic communities in Sri Lanka. Tragically the politics of vengeance advanced by both the protagonists of the civil war and its aftermath is pursued with the help of the fourth estate. While the Tamil Diaspora has deployed journalists, and reportedly funds a television channel in Tamilnadu State in India to advance its cause, the Sri Lankan State has deployed a Tamil journalist in India, David Buell Sabapathy Jeyaraj in Canada, inter alia, and reported to have purchased a Tamil Diaspora television channel Theepam TV based in London to do its bidding. Unfortunately it is the innocent Tamil civilians in eastern and northern Sri Lanka who are caught in between these two devils and likely to pay the ultimate price for the post-civil war politics of vengeance. Furthermore, mercenary journalists such as David Buell Sabapathy Jeyaraj are sullying the integrity of their profession, which is already under immense pressure by the Sri Lankan State.
*Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (Ph.D. Wales, M.Sc. Bristol, M.Sc. Salford, B.A. Hons. Delhi) is the Principal Researcher of the Point Pedro Institute of Development, Point Pedro, Northern Province, Sri Lanka, and the author of “In Pursuit of a Mythical State of Tamil Eelam……”