20 June, 2024

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No Free Passes To The Land Of Integrity

By Malinda Seneviratne –

Malinda Seneviratne

The late Professor Ashley Halpe, delivering the keynote address at the annual conference of the Sri Lanka Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies (SLACLALS) in 2011, pointed out the importance of ‘liberation from our complicities.’ Today, more than a decade later, in a discussion with Khury Petersen-Smith at Brookline Booksmith in Boston, Ru Freeman spoke about free passes.

‘Transformation requires us to be willing to say that just because you are Sri Lankan or Black or Trans, you don’t get a free pass on certain things. You don’t get to be a racist or classist or whatever or brute even. Everybody is like that’s ok because they are Black or South Asian or they are foreign.’

She illustrated with an example. She said that on the way to the event with a friend, driving from Amherst to Boston, they had to deal with an erratic driver ahead of them. The vehicle must have belonged to some company for she said that she had called them up and complained.

‘That erratic driving could kill someone. He shouldn’t get a free pass just because he looks like me.’

And it comes down to the personal level as well, not just about ‘others who look like me,’ but in fact ‘me.’

‘My youngest daughter would say something and I would say “Oh, she’s a they.” And she’s like “No, it’s not a they, it’s they.” This is something I have to get used to and I am getting used to it.’

I have drawn extensively from Prof Halpe’s comment, both in writing and in life. It’s a check. It’s a call for self-examination, self-criticism.

Let’s talk about Thileepan, the LTTE member who died during a ‘fast unto death.’ Some claim that he was dying anyway; some claim from some kidney ailment and others from wounds sustained in battle. Either way, the decision to engage in that particular form of protest (if indeed it was his and not a directive from the rather rigid and unforgiving politico-military apparatus he identified with) itself shows commitment to the cause he was fighting for.

That it was a terrorist organisation, that he identified with an ideology which considered killing unarmed civilians acceptable, that he was a trained militant and may have himself been guilty of crimes against humanity, that during that very time the LTTE had decimated rival Tamil militant organizations, and that it was little more than an exercise of making the best out of a bad situation etc., should not detract from the affirmation of commitment and loyalty.

Celebrating commitment to a cause and loyalty, however, should not blind anyone to the unmistakable truth that Thileepan was no Gandhi. Celebrating commitment and loyalty with scant regard to context and the larger truths about the LTTE is irresponsible. If it is all a product of ignorance, it is not hard to understand. On the other hand, many who are championing Thileepan today, are certainly not babes in the woods. They know. They choose to abstract an act out of all relevant contexts. That’s giving Thileepan, the LTTE and themselves a free pass. There’s complicity in all of that. Free passes.

All of this reminds me of Uvindu Kurukulasuriya who runs the Colombo Telegraph. We have ideological differences. We attach different values to different things. We could accuse each other of making mountains out of molehills, reducing mountains to molehills, seeing mountain and molehill as monolithic entities, missing nuance and forgetting context, but I believe we trust each other to be honest in intention and also to have enough humility to admit error.

Uvindu, more than anyone I know, is acutely aware of the possibility of complicity. He knows about free passes and how easily they are given to friends and political fellow-travellers. This is why he is detested by those who one would expect to be in his political and ideological camp. So he is dismissed as a traitor by those who call themselves leftists even as he is vilified by those who take issue with his political convictions.

The Brookline Booksmith discussion was a celebration of Ru Freeman’s book ‘Bon Courage.’ Khury Petersen-Smith made the observation that courage is not the same thing as fearlessness. ‘Fearlessness, he said, ‘can be uninformed, maybe in a placid way.’ Maybe this is why we talk of ‘the courage of his/her/their convictions’ but not ‘the fearlessness of his/her/their convictions.’

Being informed. That’s the key. Wanting to be informed, doing the hard yards in obtaining all necessary information, sifting them, analysing them and drawing conclusions are therefore prerequisites for integrity in action.

It is easy to make sweeping statements which are essentially preceded by the sweeping away of that which is uncomfortable and disconcerting, The relevant denial may help advance a political project but if a more civilised outcome is envisaged, it distracts and detracts. Simply put, we don’t have the right to be erratic drivers and would do well to call out erratic drivers and driving. We just can’t afford to, really.

It takes courage to be conscious of and informed by the possibility of complicity. It takes courage to be conscious that there can be no free passes if integrity is to be affirmed. There’s a price one has to pay to be courageous. Uvindu pays that price. He knows that there are no free passes to the borderless territory called ‘Integrity.’

So, a thank you goes to Uvindu, to Prof Ashley Halpe, my sister Ru Freeman, Khury Petersen-Smith, Brookline Booksmith.

*The writer can be reached at malindadocs@gmail.com. His blog www.malindawords.blogspot.com

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Latest comments

  • 8
    1

    For no known reason, I enjoy reading Malinda Seneviratne. I am happy he showed up on CT, after an eternity!
    Malinda tells things that are distasteful. But, he narrates them all tastefully.
    ‘a terrorist organisation which considered killing unarmed civilians acceptable’, is half a truth.
    Killing unarmed civilians was never acceptable. It was accepted.
    ‘LTTE had decimated rival Tamil militant organizations’.
    LTTE decimated rivals who obstructed their mission. Not those who objected. Militancy and survival go hand in hand.

    • 2
      10

      “Killing unarmed civilians was never acceptable. It was accepted.”
      What was said was
      “a terrorist organisation which considered killing unarmed civilians acceptable’
      Is it not true of the organisation referred to?
      The state was just as bad.

      • 9
        1

        It is estimated JVP to have killed about 12,000 to 20,000 unarmed civilians while LTTE’s estimate of civilians below 1,000. The lie of Malinda’s SLFP who murdered 150,000 Tamils, with open lie of “UN Charter in one hand and gun in another with the Zero casualties, won the war make you feel LTTE is equal to War Crime Government? Would you tell me one case on LTTE equal to the rapist Army raped and to hide rape, it planted bomb in the private part of women? LTTE raided villages because when it killed 13 armies Aanduwa launch 1983 Pogroms. How do you compare 1983 black July with LTTE’s raid on Sinhala Colonization villages in Tamil, North South? I do because the LTTE‘s small village raiding stopped the Annual celebration of Pogroms on Tamils. Here the Poonai stopped Aanai hurting the people, on the vast area of over the Island. The Talk of justice of LTTE killing civilians came into question only when there was any law and order under the 75 years of UNP-SLFP tyranny. Don’t you know any court that accepts defensive killing for self-protection? Then are you arguing that since 1948, all murders of Aanduwa is self-protection? By mistake the extreme racist who left CT because of facing serious attack from commentators, now coming back and asking, “Is Thileepan a Gandhi?”.

      • 8
        0

        If a rapist, murderer, war crime government had given him an unknown prize, does Malinda think he is a Gandhi? Or Malinda trying to establish when SJV’s associate MPs were staying at Satyagraha, Solomon West Ridgeway Dias sent his personal thug to attack them that was sophisticated culture than suicidal LTTE? When MPs walked into parliament with bloody dresses and bodies, SWRD laughed at them asking “I guessed you have received what you were looking for.” Shameless Melinda who stayed out of CT fearing for the commentators reply, now comparing that he has philosophical difference with CT editors. Ha Ha ha What is that philosophy though? I think UK, US government should consider honoring CT with Pilzer Price like honors for its services for Freedom Of Speech, on the light of Langkang Hitler kept rewarding Laptops, houses, & car facilities for its acolytes to support his murders of 45 Tamil Journalist and popular writers Lasantha, Eglinegoda, and trying on Keith Kieth Miller. During the Royal government, the Wildlife Sanctuary RavanaLE Rapist Army and Rapist police kept the record of Journalist Safety at 174 out of 179. Malinda still went to Hitler and received computers and loans from Hitler. That is the philosophy he says CT differs from him. What a shameless talk? You missed Malinda to carry SLFP pantham with you, that is why spreading mat for Malinda?

      • 7
        1

        “that he identified with an ideology which considered killing unarmed civilians acceptable, “
        But his ideology wasn’t the only one, was it?
        There were and are others , including the state, which is why even Uvindu K operates from abroad. I would take Malinda more seriously if he had said something about these others too. Even SB chauvinism doesn’t deserve a free pass.

      • 4
        0

        “The state was just as bad”
        1958 masscre comes after 1975?

    • 11
      1

      Dear Nathan,
      I am in full agreement with you. This guy Malinda go and stand in front of a mirror …. he is another example to be one another DJ or the like learnt idiots.
      .
      Malinda was one of the front men to mislead the nation but in favour of Mahinda Pariah. The kind of learnt idiots should be punished by laws if we had law and order in this country.
      :
      I never respect this guy, even if he claimed to have obtained his MSC or MA at Harward. He was very cheap in TV discussion but always in favour of MEDAMULANA blood suckers.
      :
      This kind of men along with YELLOW PETs in srilanka ruined the future of our nation. We should not forgive these sons of bitches.
      :
      I think this learnt idiot worked as the editor to The news paper “TODAY ” If my memory is right.

    • 12
      0

      Under Mahinda’s tyrannical rule, Sri Lanka was a paradise for media prostitutes. Malinda was one of their main journalists.
      :
      Breaking news on any TV channel was mostly baseless news. Despite warnings from media experts, they continued because political muscle was on their side.
      Some of them are listed below:
      .
      1) Nagaya (water snake) carried “fake relics” to Kelaniya temple was telecasted by DERANA TV
      .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpZHenqsc14
      2) HITHUMATHE JEEWITHE- a film based on story of a sister who is said to have been murdered down. However the sister is living yet today. The prisoner was shown by DERANA TV, as if he killed several men to take a revenge of the killing of his own sister who is still living today. Blatant lies …. no body woudl file against anything to this TV sender yet today. Not even JVPrs… how come ?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JpZHenqsc14

  • 6
    0

    Malinda, Don’t tell me you’re now supporting Ranil! ……. You’re in great company!!! …… Never thought, I’ll live to see the Day! :)))))))

    Here’s ye new company ………. Here’s Johnny! ……. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDpipB4yehk

    An early B’day present for Native …… read the comments …….he and you’ll be over the moon …… this is a channel that used to diss his hero Ranil on a daily basis ….. now they have changed their “principles” …….. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFv7reax5dc

    Another, without the hoopla ………. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7mKU6JPARU

    What Ranil doesn’t mention, Yamamoto knew the strength of the US and always knew Japan was going to lose. ….. Unlike most of his fellow countrymen, he had travelled and seen the capabilities of the US

    How strange ……… your travels have made you even more quintessential froggy Lankan, Malinda!

    • 3
      0

      cont

      “Yamamoto did not wish for war. He knew that war against the US would end in Japanese defeat due to America’s military and economic strength. Being a samurai devoted to serve his emperor, he nevertheless prepared his forces for battle in a most meticulous and efficient manner.” —- Association for Asian Studies

      “He also opposed war against the United States, partly because of his studies at Harvard University (1919–1921)[11] and his two postings as a naval attaché in Washington, D.C.,[12] where he learned to speak fluent English. Yamamoto traveled extensively in the United States during his tour of duty there, where he studied American customs and business practices.” —- Wiki

  • 14
    0

    CT is indeed a place where evil too can pen its opinions and propaganda. Evil too can speak of integrity. Evil can packages itself pretty and sell its camouflaged chauvinism to those who hunger for it. But that’s not just here on CT but our country and the world over.

    Noting that GOSL is trying to rush implementing laws which will only further cull the rights of free speech and civic rights, seemingly to suppress truth and prevent dissent.

    Evil looks after its agenda any which way possible and is relentless.

    • 1
      16

      Does ‘Evil’ include the LTTE and its defenders as well?
      People living in glass houses…

      • 9
        0

        SJ
        “Evil” definitely include defenders of SWRD Family, Rajapaksa Family and China defenders as well.

        • 1
          10

          You need company it appears.
          That is not the cleverest way of admitting that it includes you.

    • 8
      0

      Why do you think Malinda came back? In Tamil they say excreting on the plate they eat. These people attack the freedom of expression using the freedom they get in CT. Did Malinda too threw his pennies in the pond which attacked Tamil Churches and tourist Hotel?

      People living in glass houses…

      See the people who leads their life in dark & deep dungeons because they want to be in safe houses while they relentlessly attack others; Smart; Isn’t it?

  • 24
    2

    The LTTE did not spring from nowhere. It was clearly a manifestation of prolonged and persistent injustice that marginalized people in both the north and south had endured over a long time. Why else would a respectful, diligent and hard-working community transform into the world’s most feared terror outfit? Surely it was not at the behest of a murderous goon who led them? The young Tamil people of the north are intelligent and would not be “indoctrinated” without some conviction that their regrettable response to discrimination and marginalizing would have a fair outcome for the community at large. The same can be said of the uprisings and the Aragalaya. People must surely claim back their country from the clutches of a parasitic class of vermin that consist of political, religious and corporate sectors. There is no time to lose.

    • 2
      17

      “The young Tamil people of the north are intelligent and would not be “indoctrinated” without some conviction”
      *
      LP, you may not know that the TULF banned public discussion of the Eelam issue in the run up to the Vaddukoddai Resolution. (That happened after two debates SK Senthivel v. Eelaventhan and Sanmugathasan v. Tharmalingan, where the separatists were badly mauled. When finally challenged with “All right let us say it is Tamil Eelam that is the goal, what plans do you have to achieve it?” poor Tharmalingam replied “that is a secret that I cannot reveal”.)
      *
      There was bullying of all kinds of people who opposed secession. I was personally threatened in early 1984 (after addressing a meeting which was on another matter) for expressing anti-separatist views.
      The democratic space was gradually shrunk to a zero tolerance ground starting 1975. I can name many who were killed and who fled Jaffna for fear of their lives.
      *
      I doubt if the choice made by many young men in joining any movement was intelligent or democratic.
      Much has been written in Tamil on the subject including on lamp post hanging of ‘traitors’.
      ‘Traitor’– that was the catchphrase. No young man dared to be a ‘traitor’ but then things changed and any supporter of a rival; movement could be dubbed ‘traitor’.
      *
      Trying to understand the reign of terror is fine. But do not romanticize it.

      • 7
        0

        ” I was personally threatened in early 1984 (after addressing a meeting which was on another matter) for expressing anti-separatist views.”
        Is it ant-separatist or for promoting Buddhist Fundamentalist sponsored terrorism?

        • 1
          10

          It was not an ant-separatist or even a striped animal separatist matter.
          BTW
          I know that you have trouble making a decent sentence, but cannot you even understand a simple sentence?

          • 6
            0

            It is not about decent sentance but it is about decent manner. full of Venom.

            • 1
              1

              Thanks.
              There are simpler ways to say that you cannot understand.

      • 6
        0

        You are a liar. LTTE tied to light post only the criminals and thieves. (They were not stupid to that extent to take that unwanted risk with true traitors.) That time they were a secret movement, acting from bunkers. When they started their own government, their troopers and court officials even got trained from foreign countries. Never in the past 75 years has one case from the Sinhala Buddhist court houses came properly judged. But the police and court systems of LTTE were admired even by many Sinhala Writers, who visited north. Yes, their justice of light post tying was not admired, but Appe Aanduwa’s billion rupees rolling court system was no match for their clandestine courts and police they operated in the latter days. Vasanthi was breaking laws & corrupting the only Tamil University as late as the 2015 election. Deva is still accused of running illegal operations out of legal trade like fishing.

  • 15
    0

    Whether Thileepan was dying of a kidney ailment or from injuries sustained in battle or was ordered to do so by his masters, the act of fasting unto death still counts as a brave deed and a great sacrifice for a cause. The majority of Tamils admire him and revere him for that. Any attempt by the likes of the writer to belittle his way of protesting against injustice will be dismissed by those who wish to commemorate Thileepan’s role in the struggle against racial oppression.

    • 10
      0

      Thete is a reason Malinda and UOJ Saddampi attack Thileepan.
      Malinda’s and Sadamppi’s hero Lemon Puff Veeraya too fast unto death in front of the UN office in Colombo.
      What dramatists these goons are.

  • 13
    0

    I have to admit that I had difficulty understanding the thrust of this article but in respect of the statement that the LTTE killed its Eelam Tamil opponents, the norm in Sri Lanka is that violence is perpetrated by persons on their own peoples ie the Rakshapakses on sinhala opponents, the sinhala politicians when they win elections on the losing sinhala politicians, the sinhala JVP on sinhalas, the armed forces rapings and murders of sinhala JVPers etc.. Indeed one sinhala lady told me why are Eelam Tamils complaining about the sinhala armed forces killings and rapings. We sinhalas murder and rape our own – eg the sinhala JVPers.

    • 1
      14

      G
      Is this an explanation– or rather an excuse for what the LTTE did?

  • 15
    1

    Malinda,

    Since you mentioned LTTE few times in your article.
    “Without the Sinhala Only, the Tiger may have remained unborn. Without the Black July, the Tiger may not have grown exponentially. If the B-C Pact and the D-C Pact did not miscarry (thanks to the midwifery of Sinhala extremism), the LTTE, even if it was born, would have remained a fringe group.” Tisaranee Gunasekara

    Thank you Uvindu Kurukulasuriya . keep up the good work.

    – Jaffna. Katuvan Amman temple allowed to visit after 33 yearshttps://www.virakesari.lk/article/165259

  • 14
    1

    After long period of silence or escape Mr.Malinda Senivartne a Mahinda follower coming appeared in this forum to defend that state terrorism is the norm and the Easter Bombing by his masters in this island is heroism. This land is now in deep crisis of economy followed by long history of violent oppressive Buddhist Sinhala fundamentalism resulted in state sponsored terrorism against its own people after five centuries of rule by Portuguese, Dutch and British rule. Previous to these foregin rule this land was peaceful with three kingdoms. Now the peaceful land with filled with blood because of Buddhist Sinhala Fundamentalism. It did kill Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims and now begging around the world for survial. Even at this Buddhist Fundamentalists like Malinda are dangerous for Sinhalese community.

    • 1
      11

      “After long period of silence or escape”
      Do you read any Lankan English language newspaper?
      The Daily Mirror carries his column regularly. It is good reading even when one strongly disagrees.

      • 9
        0

        SJ,
        Half-backed urgency Mahinda Putra read carefully the following
        “After long period of silence or escape Mr.Malinda Senivartne a Mahinda follower coming appeared in this forum”
        Do you want me to read Lankan English Language paper to read Mahinda puranam?
        What about Sinhala language papers?

        • 1
          10

          What about Sinhala language papers?
          Please do if you choose to.
          But do not make claims without knowing things. It is hard, but worth a try.
          *
          “Half-backed urgency”
          Is this about a game of soccer?

          • 5
            0

            Is this about a game of soccer?
            It is about equal treatement.

            • 1
              1

              “Is this about a game of soccer?”
              What is a “half back” then?

  • 12
    1

    Not really on point in respect of this article but I consider it amusing and hilarious when sinhalas in the West and even in south East Asian countries complain about discrimination. Obviously cannot stomach what they meet out in sinhala land.

  • 12
    0

    We all know that you are an out and out Chingkalla Buddhist racist and fascist, who openly supports hardline Chingkalla Buddhist racists like the Rajapussies and the racist yellow pets. Even living in the USA and studying at a prestigious American University has not taught you anything about human rights and equality. Still nasty and racist to the core and keep on writing various articles supporting the Mahavamsa fairy tale and Chingkalla Buddhist racism and the third-rate status of the island’s Thamizh. To you the state sponsored structural genocide against the island’s Thamizh, the large-scale war crimes and ethnic cleansing committed upon them and denial of even their basic rights, that led to the formation of the LTTE and the civil war, is all fine. Very silent about all this as in my opinion you are happy about all this and the continuation of this marginalization and discrimination by the Chingkalla state against the Thamizh.

    • 12
      0

      It does not matter whether Thileepan was a member of the LTTE or supported the LTTE, like most Thamizh did, as they had no other choice, but he gave up his life fasting on to death, not fighting or killing anyone, against what was happening to the island’s Thamizh at the hands of the Chingkalla Sri Lankan state. For this he should be admired as the died at a very young age peacefully fighting for the rights of the Thamizh people and Thamizh language, culture and land. Yes, to Chingkalla Buddhist fascists like you and to self-hating Thamizh like one here he will be an anathema and be perceived as an enemy of the Chingkalla state. Not to right thinking Chingkallams. Everyone has a right to commemorate and mourn their dead, especially someone who died very bravely at a very young age genuinely fasting to death, fighting for the rights of his own people. Irrespective of who he was a what outfit he supported the Thamizh people have right to commemorate his death and remember him and not get attacked by racist Chingkalla thugs and criminals, who were openly supported by the Sri Lankan state, in a historical Thamizh area and district like Trincomalee that is still 72% Thamizh speaking.

      • 11
        0

        Illegally come and get settled on ethnically cleansed Thamizh lands by the Chingkalla Sri Lankan state, in the last 40 years and now with the support of the racist occupying Chingkalla armed forces, police and state are trying to prevent the Thamizh commemorating their someone who died for them in their own areas and assaulting and trying to kill and murder an elected Thamizh MP, with the police and army watching the fun, just like in July 1983, Why don’t you condemn this racist violence? Why are Thamizh now slaves and third rates in their own land and not allowed to remember and commemorate their dead, even in their own lands, and are now being assaulted by illegally settled Chingkalla thugs and criminals who arrived there within the last 40 years. Proves these Chingkallams were deliberately settled in these Thamizh areas for this reason only.

  • 0
    5

    Great to read an article by you on here Malinda after quite some time!
    its fascinating to see ltte/diaspora desperation continue as their financial backing towards destablization has still not led to the racial segregation of the island. they are still trying mighty hard though!

    Hopefully before piggy and senile matta die, 13a will be removed.

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