18 November, 2018

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Exorcising Demons In Paradise: Remarks On Jude Ratnam’s Movie Screened At Cannes

By Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka –

This evening at the ICES Colombo we saw a very powerful movie: DEMONS IN PARADISE, directed by Jude Ratnam. I am so very grateful that the director invited us to attend its first screening in Sri Lanka. I hope it gets shown and discussed everywhere.

Dayan Jayatilleka always said that the healing process and reconciliation will start not with accountability hearings a la Geneva, but with the arts.

This movie holds a mirror before us all. It forces one to look squarely at the violence that each of these island’s communities is capable of inflicting, supporting and enabling, not only on other communities but on each other, within one’s own community.

Starting with July ’83, via a train journey of escape to Jaffna from mob violence in the capital city which the government of the day did nothing to stop, Jude Ratnam ‘turns the searchlight inwards’ and confronts the horror that the LTTE visited on other Tamil militant groups and innocent civilians, and the Tamil community’s tolerance, and even support of it. A former Tiger, now a middle aged man says in bewilderment, “I can’t understand our community. How could they give us Coke while we were killing our own people?”

It is a courageous self-examination of a dark past which has not been attempted before.  

The movie also features an interview with the photographer who took the iconic photo of a naked Tamil man just before he was beaten to death by a laughing Sinhala mob. He was asked what he felt as a Sinhalese when he took the photo. The photographer says that he knew right from wrong, and all he could do at that time was to take the picture so he could tell that story to society at large. 

The movie shows emotional moments of great humanity that humbles and offers hope.  

This film holds us accountable, individually and collectively. For all that we have done, and not done. The director’s honesty compels us to be honest in turn. This is truly a movie of healing, through a journey into unimaginable violence at the heart of our communities and our own culpability in not confronting it. 

Jude Ratnam did. And in doing so, he began to heal us all. 

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Latest comments

  • 13
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    Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka –>>>Starting with July ’83, via a train journey of escape to Jaffna from mob violence in the capital city >>>>mob violence????come on >>>>>you Sinhala racist….>why don’t you call it a Sinhala racist carnage on innocent Tamils>>>>

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      Why don’t you first see the film, or if you can’t, read what the director has said about it himself, as reported in the world press, before you oversimplify and distort?

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/afp/article-4540256/Film-breaks-silence-madness-Sri-Lanka-civil-war.html

      • 8
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        Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka types: —————————————————————————————————————————-“Dayan Jayatilleka always said that the healing process and reconciliation will start not with accountability hearings a la Geneva, but with the arts.”———————–It is embarrassing to hear what was whispered in her ears during the pillow talk session. Please note public racist appreciates arts. What has the little fascist got to do with creative activity?

      • 9
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        Dayan – “Why don’t you first see the film” …never mind the film ……please clarify your wife’s statement that 1983 riots is a mob violence? , or is it a state sponsored riots against the Tamils?

      • 9
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        Dear Dayan, if you say that 1983 riots was a mob violence and not a state sponsored pogrom, then you are insulting Tamils. I am an eye witness to the whole process. Violence against Tamils started in June sporadically in isolated places like Trincomalee, Kurunegala and Ratmalana. My good Sinhala friends warned me of an impeding riots against Tamils, due to which I took precautions and survived unharmed. Killing of 12 soldiers was taken as an excuse to unleash violence. However what happened on Sunday night was the only agenda, where due to it being a poya day no one was killed. On Monday, JR should have declared curfew, but did not, which gave people in government chance to commit more crime. Tamil properties were marked using electoral lists which could not have been possible if it was not state sponsored. How can mobs appear on streets with petrol cans and iron rods if it was spontaneous. If you say what happened on black Friday was mob violence, I will agree to that, as it was done by JVP and the government did not have a hand in that. It was a disgrace that security forces and police not only showed a blind eye, but also in many instances actively took part.

        • 2
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          Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam>>>you are contracting your self…>>>>Dear Dayan, if you say that 1983 riots was a mob violence and not a state sponsored pogrom, then you are insulting Tamils. I am an eye witness to the whole process.>>>>>>. If you say what happened on black Friday was mob violence, I will agree to that, >>>>where do you stand?

      • 3
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        Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka>>>”before you oversimplify and distort?”>>>>>who is distorting facts? Lady Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka –is distorting the facts by describing ,,,,the “worse race riots ever in the world” the state sponsored July 1983 carnage against the Tamils >>>>simply as mob voiolence

      • 1
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        There are myths, that DJ should have been abused by COLOMBO elites in his grow up and this should have been connnected his theories to stand against UNP and colombo elites.
        However, he never showed his ampathy to Premadasa who emerged from nothing, but ended up as he deserved it.. when thinking about the avalanches of the killings promoted by him and JVP in late 80ties across the country. Numbers rose up to 50 k or more. However, genetically mixed and abused DJ seems to be that gummed to Premadasa that to anyone else. He should have valid reasons, even if the boy in his early 60 yet to find his belly feelings.
        All in all his dreams to become ,minister of external affairs in next turn, should be blocke by every means, since the bugger deserves his isolated CELL only.

    • 3
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      Rajah,

      Your questioning of the category of “mob violence” is quite appropriate. It then becomes mere criminal violence. Whereas Black July was a state-sponsored anti Tamil pogrom just like the anti Muslim pogrom in Gujarat (2002) under chief minister, RSS heavy weight, Narendra Modi, the current Indian PM. There is no ambiguity here.

      • 7
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        I not sure why you are dragging Gujarat incident here ….Did I condone it in my statement?

    • 1
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      Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka says,

      “Dayan De Silva Jayatilleka always said that the healing process and reconciliation will start not with accountability hearings a la Geneva, but with the arts”.

      What nonsense!
      Accountability is the most important and the first step in the reconciliation process.

  • 15
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    “Dayan Jayatilleka always said that the healing process and reconciliation will start not with accountability hearings a la Geneva, but with the arts” ………………… Ah! the oracle has spoken! ……………………. I knew it, I knew it …………….. that someday someone will see good ol’ Gota as the greatest Cubist that ever walked the face of the earth. Abducting people in white-vans and cutting up their bodies and rearranging the body-parts in a grotesque form was the highest form of Cubism ever practiced. It was done for the sake of the arts! Great, finally someone has seen the merits of the “arts” in Lanka. ……………. I say Gota for president! …………. It’s the arts! …. It’s the arts! You stupids out there. ————————— Ah! the Colombo intellectual-set dabbling in the arts in an evening. Where would we be without them?

  • 17
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    Lady, ………. Some Tamil does a self-examination and you jump hoops in raptures! Where is the self-examination from the Sinhalese? ……. It’s always the minorities that have caused problems in Lanka, eh? ……. I’ll have to keep on repeating ad nauseam till it permeates the thick skulls of some. The greatest enemies of Lanka are the Singhalese leaders themselves. It’s they who have been in power since independence. The terrorisms in all its facets – Sinhalese, Tamil – was a consequence of their crap governance. Governments always have more “terrorizing power” than terrorists. ………….. Charley Reese on government-power, ………………….. “Of course, it is all done in the name of protecting the American people. That is the standard excuse that has been used since the earliest empires. We’re only trying to make sure you’re safe, they claim. Well, one should remember that there were no safer streets than Moscow under Stalin or Berlin under Hitler – unless, of course, it was the government that wanted to do you harm. ………………. Given a choice between government security and freedom with risks, always choose freedom. Criminals, including terrorists, don’t have much power, but government possesses crushing power. Of course, we Americans are conditioned to view our government as friendly and protective, but that is a mistake. ……….. Alexander Solzhenitsyn made an interesting point in his Gulag Archipelago. He said the reason so few Russians resisted when the secret police came to get them was because they were innocent. They had done nothing wrong, they were loyal, and they expected their government to realize that their arrest was a mistake. The government didn’t, of course, because they were victims of a dictator’s paranoia.”

  • 10
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    “Dayan Jayatilleka always said that the healing process and reconciliation will start not with accountability hearings a la Geneva, but with the arts.”

    What happens when art rigorously addresses the lack of accountability and the persistence of impunity for war crimes in Sri Lanka?

    • 2
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      Not inventing fake war crime charges which has no evidence is part of reconciliation too…..because lying wont help anyone and expecially when the lying comes from those who funded ltte

  • 12
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    De Silva Jayatilleke Writes
    “Jude Ratnam ‘turns the searchlight inwards’ and confronts the horror that the LTTE visited on other Tamil militant groups and innocent civilians, and the Tamil community’s tolerance, and even support of it.
    The “Tamil community” as a whole?Were some of them not frightened into silence? Were some of them driven to silence by the atrocities committed by the state and its agents such as the police and the army against the Tamil Community since at least 1956? Did not some members of the Tamil community who opposed the LTTE pay a price with their lives? And so on…

    Some how I don’t think Sinhala nationalists have earned the right to be sanctmonious on this issue.Indeed is the “Sinhala Community” as a whole responsible for the atrocities committed against the Tamils and the Muslims over the years?
    I don’t think so though Sinhala “nationalists” and their agents of propaganda will certainly bear a major resposibilty.

    • 6
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      Indeed is the “Sinhala Community” as a whole responsible for the atrocities committed against the Tamils and the Muslims over the years?//

      Sinhala community is responsible for ENDING the atrocities that continued for 30 years. I remember a tamil commentator stated how it has become a norm in Tamil language where every sentence started with ” SO and so is good ….” was ended by ” killed by LTTE”…..we stopped that.

      It is the ultra racist tamil politicians with mytho mania starting from GG Ponna, Chelva and now Sampanthan who are responsible for the atrocities on Tamil and Muslims and of course Sinhala people.

      May Chelva burn in hell for what people like him did to this country!

      • 3
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        Yes, the entire Sinhala Community as a whole is responsible for the atrocities committed against the Tamils right from 1956. They are also wholly responsible for planting the seed for Tamil militancy or terrorism which was only an outcome/consequence of Sinhala atrocities committed against the Tamils.

  • 5
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    I hope I can see this film and I agree with Dayan, the healing process will come thru the Arts, a ground up process. I am confident. when the time comes, our Tamil Brothers and Sisters will accept a sincere apology from the state and move on. Dayan has a role to play in getting the Majority community ready for it and support in ensuring we have a society built on rule of law and order.

    • 5
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      Apology for what? defeating LTTE? ….you are living in a fairy land

      • 12
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        **sach said – “Apology for what? defeating LTTE? ….you are living in a fairy land”** Apology from the state for continuous marginalization since independence. Even the so called liberal, peace loving, minority loving UNP is yet to offer an unconditional apology for the crimes committed such as 83′ riots, 81 burning of the Jaffna library and so on. The green goblins are totally dismissive of their past crimes. A genuine apology from the leaders of the country will help heal some wounds. But apologies alone go only so far.

        • 4
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          CBK apologised in public for 1983 etc. Will the Tamil leaders apologise for the LTTE’s slaughter of thousands of Sinhalese? No they actually blame the Sinhalese for the LTTE’s crimes.

          • 9
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            Paul———–“CBK apologised in public for 1983 etc.”———- Because she was the head of state. ————“Will the Tamil leaders apologise for the LTTE’s slaughter of thousands of Sinhalese?”———————— Why should the Tamil leaders apologise for LTTE’s slaughters? Tamil leaders were not running the state were they? LTTE was dead in late 1988. It was the Sinhala armed forces and Premadasa who revived it for their own shameless cowardice. They needed the LTTE to fight the Hindian forces when they were hiding behind their women folks and VP’s fat bum. There was no LTTE as a portent force before 1983. However there was a Sinhala/Buddhist racist state from 1950s to 1983 with tri forces, police …. and other resources prior to the advent of nasty little LTTE. Please don’t waste your own time instead put it to better use by organising another pogrom against the minorities, during which you will enjoy impunity for murder, rape, sodomy, arson, looting, …………………………. Don’t miss it for the next one will be in about 20 years time.

          • 6
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            Paul, CBK was an elected official, LTTE was a creation of racist policies of the country. There you have the difference. LTTE WAS NEVER ELECTED!!!!

        • 1
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          An apology for the riots of 83 and burning of library may be owed by the state. But we are not moved by these atrocities because we went through a horrible war funded by you and Tamils. If LTTE terrorism did not happen and if the tamils stopped supporting LTTE during the early period asking for an apology is right. But the tamils did far greater atrocities by supporting LTTE terrorism. So asking for any apology is meaningless.

          I am not whitewashing 83 or 81. But I do not think the state owe any apology. The moment Tamils supported LTTE terrorism, funded it, and supported every suicide terror, massacre of villagers for 30 years, Tamils ceased to have any right to ask for an apology.

      • 7
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        The Sinhalese murdered Tamils in 1956 ( 150 Tamils killed ), 1958 ( 300 Tamils killed ), 1977 ( 300 Tamils killed ), 1981 Jaffna library burnt, 1981 Indian Tamils attacked women raped, shops burnt etc and then our Black July in 1983, 3000 Tamils killed. In 1983, Tamils turned back and fought ( Kadirgamar ).

        The 30 year war started by the Sinhalese in 1956.

        • 1
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          what happened in 1956 was a riot, and Tamils attacked sinhalese too. Sinhalese living in North and east was subject to many horrors. But given the numerical majority of the Sinhalese naturally Tamils were in the receiving end. All these riots had its roots in extremely racist and insults thrown at the Sinhala people at large by Tamil politicians.

          I do not think me as a Sinhalese or state owe any apology solely because of LTTE terrorism.

  • 0
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    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

  • 7
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    Has any Buddhist yet stated why he cannot understand the blood letting the Sinhala-Buddhists have been responsible for in the last several years. It continues unabated. Do direct the searchlights inwards. It is not only the Tamils who have suffered. Under MR, many Sinhalese journalists were abducted or killed. Physician heal thyself. Or are you acting under the influence of a well known defence in Sri Lankan law_marital compulsion?

    • 6
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      Mama Sinhalam, very well said bud. Yes, under this corrupt former government how many poor Sinhalese were slaughtered by this hoodlum MR. How many soldiers were sent to die on the battlefield so their organs can be harvested for organ trafficking to fund Gota’s fun? Case in point is Lasantha Wickramatunge’s assassination. I am not sure how these fellows kill and go to sleep like babies.

    • 1
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      It is wrong to say under MR, a lot of journalists disappeared. It is not. Just because we are Buddhists, it does not mean we have to bow down to every aggressor who claim to have their homeland. Buddhists like any other people have the right to react and act when they feel threatened

  • 4
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    If the “Sinhala Community” as a whole is not responsible for the atrocities committed against the Tamils and the Muslims over the years?

    The why not investigate and punish the wrong doers?

    The reaction of the majority community has already given the war crimes verdict.

    • 2
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      What war crimes? Sri Lanka has already punished whenever any of its soldiers were found to have done a crime. It does not mean we need to listen to neo colonists on their false accusations without any substantial evidence.

  • 4
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    Lady writes…“Dayan Jayatilleka always said that the healing process and reconciliation will start not with accountability hearings a la Geneva, but with the arts.”—>>I challenge Dayan and his Lady to go to the war effected NE and see the heart breaking paintings by the war children….listen to the poems about their memories and suffering and experience of the war… .”their art” but “Dayan’s art” Dayan is Tamasha and Theatre at the expense of the war widows (Tamils and Sinhala) and orphans (Tamils and Sinhala) >>>>bloody humbug

  • 3
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    What a shame smart patriotic husband DJ PhD , never defined in any of his analysis what is ” arts “, what is “reconciliation”, “what is law & order “,
    “what is state terrorism” , what is majority power “, what is the view of Fidel Castro’s stand on Religion when it comes to governance. How castro used Arts for reconcilliation with US.

    Still not too late for DJ or his wife to write on the above issues.

  • 4
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    With typical ic Sinhala nationalistic de Silva focuses on the brutality of the tiger while ignoring the Sinhala forces that lead to their emergence.She could have explored the circumstances that led Ratnam and his family to take the train to Jaffna
    And it is gross mistake to call them “riots”. They were “pogroms” organized by the state, directly or indirectly, by deed and words, by systematically defining the Tamils as outsiders as indeed paras .And there is no end to this …

  • 1
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    To all above racist donkeys :

    LTTE is a child of Vadukkodai resolution.
    ———
    Soma

    • 0
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      soma
      … and “Sinhala Only” of 1956 is the father of the Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976.

  • 0
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    Dear Sanja De Silva Jayatilleka

    You said: “Starting with July ’83, a train journey of escape to Jaffna from mob violence in the capital city which the government of the day did nothing to stop, …..”

    I have two questions:

    1. Why did you refer to the tragedy of July ’83 as a mob violence when it was actually a pogrom (an organised massacre of a particular ethnic group, in this case the Tamils)?

    2. Why did you say the government of the day did nothing to stop when the whole truth was that the government of the day aided and abetted the pogrom? Aided and abetted by:

    a) Providing the mobs with voter registration lists so that Tamils households and businesses could be identified and targeted.
    b) The inaction of the armed forces and the police who tacitly stood and watched Tamils being massacred. Curfew was declared by President J R Jayewardene only after the worst was over. The President did not address the nation until Day 5.

    I would like to think your inappropriate choice of words in characterising the Jul ’83 tragedy was a case of careless writing and not a deliberate intention to misrepresent the facts. If you agree with my supposition, you could do the decent thing by posting a correction with an expression of regret over the matter. Such an action would go some way towards promoting your own wish that the film be discussed everywhere (I presume in a meaningful way, for which the starting point has to be accurate representation and acceptance of the facts).

    Thank you.

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