25 November, 2020

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Please Keep Politics Out Of The University Of Jaffna

By Mahesan Niranjan

Prof Mahesan Niranjan

Not even six months have passed since my last visit to the University of Jaffna, as a participant and keynote speaker at a conference they hosted on “Capacity Building in a Post-War Context”. It was an impressive two-day event with over 400 participants and covering a wide range of topics, very successfully organized under rather difficult conditions, for the industrial action by academics had just begun and the University had no prior experience in organizing an event on that large scale.

At the conference, there was clear realization of various topics in which capacity was lacking, both in the region and the country, and an overwhelming enthusiasm that something should be done about it, and quickly so, in order to offset the adverse effects of thirty years of war which isolated that region from the developments we have witnessed elsewhere. In my own subject of Computer Science, I was able to have fruitful discussions with academic staff and senior management of the University over dinner, and do a most enjoyable day trip to the Karainagar beach with students and staff. I returned to the UK with much hope that it is possible to interact closely with the University community and make positive contributions towards mitigating those opportunities denied to the surrounding community.

Sadly, all that optimism is being neutralized by the ugly scenes of the last few days of the politicization and violence played out on the campus.

I agree that everyone should have the right to grieve for a lost relative or friend – and just about everyone in that region has lost someone near and dear to them in the war — but I also believe that the exercise of this right should be a private one to be confined to the shrine in one’s home or temple. Using the University hostels for collective exhibition of grief sends a political message that naturally invites trouble. Similarly, sticking posters of those killed in the war on campus walls by students, is something the community should learn to condemn, for a critical appraisal of the track record of at least some of them does not necessarily portray them as heroes. Equally, the security services could also have acted with restraint. Often the best way to deal with some kinds of immature behaviour is just to ignore them. Both parties had a responsibility to act towards avoiding tension and diffusing it rather than aggravating it.

In the context of the 30 year war that ended three and a half years ago, the University of Jaffna has an important role to play. There is an urgent need for capacity development in the country and community. The staff, student and external stakeholders of the University cannot play this role if the University becomes the stage to test out political positions, be it from the security establishment wanting to prove a point about who the boss is, or by a few mischief makers in the local community whose irresponsible acts are designed to invite a backlash that enhances their short term political gains. Perpetuating such dramas brings memories of an ugly part of our history we Sri Lankans cannot afford to see repeated.

As I write this, I note that today (5 December 2012) is the 30th death anniversary of Professor K Kailasapathy, the founding president of the Jaffna Campus of the then University of Ceylon. What we witnessed in the last few days is certainly not what that great scholar – one of the finest products of Sri Lanka’s post-independence education system — would have had in mind.

*Mahesan Niranjan is Professor of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton, UK

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    i would say keep sinhala pigs out the university of jaffna. if you don’t mind keep black monkeys out of the university as well.

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      Rama

      “i would say keep sinhala pigs out the university of jaffna. if you don’t mind keep black monkeys out of the university as well.”

      Did you mean Sinhala pigs are Sinhala policemen?

      All policemen are pigs irrespective of their race, colour, …..etc.

      I would say keep the pigs and armed forces out of all universities. And keep the students out of all universities as they seem not to learn anything at all.

      Abolish, expunge, terminate, get rid of it, close down, … all universities as they have produced morons and Zombies and intent to produce more of the same in the future.

      We don’t need no another batch of bricks in the wall.

      • 0
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        native veddha, you are right man.

        • 0
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          Rama

          I am always right because I am bit thick unlike clever dicks like you.

    • 0
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      I’m sure some of your troop who are still wandering the streets of Jaffna would like to get an education and move away from your ancestral occupation of scrubbing washrooms – where would they go if we keep black monkeys out of the university??

      • 0
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        Siva Sankaran Sarma :

        “where would they go if we keep black monkeys out of the university??”

        They can always go back to India, their homeland, either to Tamilnadu or Venga.

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        bogus sarma, don’t think that our ancestral occupation is unique. it has been your occupation too when you were ruled and treated as slaves for 500 years by white masters. if you can be housemaids and toilet cleaners all over the world in the 21 century just imagine your plight in 15 century or 20 century. don’t tell me whitman treated you as equal. whiteman never allowed your primitive tribe near them. you were just outcastes. black monkeys like you can be found only in sinhala race. can’t you see the 11 black monkeys in sri lankan cricket team. i think kiwis should pass the title “all blacks” to sri lankan cricket team.
        how about your black monkey army. don’t they look primitive black savage monkeys. go and look at yourself in the mirror. after that you will disappear from here after picking up a banana as you did in topix. sinhala primitive race are calling themselves aryans. also sinhala dialect is an indo european dialect. how can black skinned and kinky haired sinhala primitve race be aryans. i wish hitler comes back alive so thtn he can wipe out your race from the face of the earth for insulting aryans. now haw can an underdeveloped and primitive sihala dialect be an indo european language. i have heard sinhala dialect spoken in dubai mall toilets , probably in public toilets too. an ideal place to keep sinhala dialect.

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          My advise to you Rama is, if you drink cheap stuff like this, no wonder your brain will be muddy. If you are frustrated becuase your white co-workers or neighbors arent accepting you, though you think like white, (we call coconuts-)and call you names, this is not the place to take out your anger.

  • 0
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    Even though you mention Kailaspathy, it is strange why you dont explicitly say why he was great?
    He was great because like you he wanted to use the methods and ideas that he derived from a western university in the form of Marxist cultural studies to look at tamil literature.
    You dont seem to understand that and your bourgeois need to have a conference on capacity building surrounded by the army barracks speaks to your head in the sand attitude.

    Please note that the Marxist parties that Kailaspathy aligned himself support the students at this critical juncture while you want to confine it to your shrine room which is typical of your class and background.

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      I don’t know much about Kailasapathy, but I have read that he was called a traitor by TULF (because he worked with Sirimavo government to create Jaffna campus) and a bomb was thrown at him. Did’t TULF object to Jaffna campus by showing black flags on the opening day? What do you think of that?

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        My main point is that the computer man seems to think he can build capacity while the army is supervising students.

        Staying in the safe haven of UK he should not be preaching to students about capacity building or the ethics of protest?

        I believe Kailasapthy who was no tamil nationalist would still have not supported the army brutality against students or the infiltration of the University with Douglas’ henchmen!

  • 0
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    Dear Prof, Please you live in uk and dont preach. You live in a coutry respect so many thinks…We live in a country evils ruling us. we tamils have no freedom even to respect our death relatives. Evil sinhala barbarism never going to stop until they finish us from this world. So called free world watching us doing nothing. We will never loose our hope…enjoy your freedom, if you can fight for our freedom….nantriiii…

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      R.Kovian

      I know for sure you are a stupid Tamil just like another stupid Sinhalese.

      Absence of a principle positions on the part of either Tamil or Sinhalese will not strengthen your argument.

      What are your principles?

  • 0
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    Prof haven’t understood the Sinhala hegamony mindset. Sinhalese can remember JVP carders, can have meetings…but Tamils not. Can’t you see a racism here. Prof, you may have issues with LTTE leaders, but do not mixed up ur problem with ordinary carders who dies purely for betterment of Tamils. We will remember them and I will encourage next genaration to remember them. What government should have done is just ignore the celebration, so it wouldn’t be an issue as such.

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      Ram,

      Worship of terrorism doesn’t solve Tamil issues/grievances. It just perpetuate it. The good and saner professor seems to have accurately grasped the critical need of the times within existing political context.

      The emotive morons seem to require more visits from TID to understand the reality.

      The sad part is some so called intellectuals continue to encourage the moronic behavior of those misguided youth.

      • 0
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        Hela:

        “The sad part is some so called intellectuals continue to encourage the moronic behavior of those misguided youth.”

        Please first define intellectual and show me at lease one Lanky who qualifies as intellectual.

  • 0
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    Prof: Whether we like it or not we are engulfed by politics in our daily life and I have seen this at campus too and the reason being the rights is for the collective not the individual.
    The artist always watches the traffic lights while crossing the zebra and you and I don’t because our fields are different.
    IF St Patrick’s day fell on the day Irish were killed by the British and students held a night of vigil would the Army attack? NO because they are civilized and would let the day pass as there is another day for always. It’s the men in uniform who act to order than students to be blamed in this instance.
    The problem lies with the Rajaporkistan familial that rules by the gun for the gun with the gun.

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    If the Jaffna University students really wanted to remember those killed in the Eelam war they should have logically chosen May 19 or another date closer to May 19 when the war ended. They can then argue and justify that their remembrance is for the those who were killed in the war.

    Why did they choose November 27th which is the day nominated by the Tigers as their martyrs’ day? Lot of young Tamil men and women belonging to other Tamil armed groups were killed in the cause of their freedom fight. There is no set date to remember them.

    Jaffna University students invited the trouble on to themselves because they chose to mark LTTE’s martyrs day within the university compounds. As very rightly pointed out by Professor Niranjan if any of the Jaffna University student wanted to remember LTTE’s martyrs’ day he or she should have done so in his or her private home. Not at the Jaffna University. The problem is that bankrupt politicians like Kajendrakumar Ponnambalam and “Kuthirai” Kajendran are trying to stir up the Jaffna University students for their petty political ends. Not wanting to be left behind some TNA MPs like Mavai, Sritharan and Suresh have joined the chorus that Jaffna University students are being denied their human rights. They are once again trying to destroy the future of those students for their petty political ends. Government can very well close down the Jaffna University if the unrest spreads. It will be the students who will suffer.

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      Small minded going after the meek unable to stand straight. (the meek shall inherit this earth….)

      I am sure you cane children and lick the grown up authority- grow up.

      The authority should have known better to ignore the day as it is the only day of the year that is considered a Hindu day of celebration worldwide – period.

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        Don’t talk BS binjiu. Naga is dead right. This was not a Hindu celebration. It was LTTE killer rememberance. Such actions will continue to elicit appropriate response from the security authorities.

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          Hela

          Even if it is a celebration of VP’s birthday why should it bother you and your racist Sinhala/Buddhist armed forces and the rulers?

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    It’s easy for us who live with safety, dignity and independence in the west to lecture the captives of Sri Lankan military and police made up of solely mono-ethnic thugs. The population of north and east were prevented from celebrating the festival of lights (Vilakkeedu) on the astronomically happened day because it coincided with ‘Heroes Day’ commemoration.

    The Tamils have no freedom even to celebrate a festivity because the enslaved military dictate so. Thousands are missing, tens of thousands were killed after prolonged starvation, hundreds of those surrendered and arrested on suspicion were tortured and shot dead and many women were raped, yet, no accountability for any of those crimes. The victorious party celebrate, build war memorials and force the victims to join in their jingoism. But the victims and those who lost everything have no right to remember even the dead. You advise them ‘ exercise of this right should be a private one to be confined to the shrine in one’s home or temple’. You cannot even do it privately because the army has spies with special privileges.

    Do you know what sort of life Tamils in north and east and indeed in other parts endure? The North and East are open prison, so long as you are not suspected of being unfriendly to the paramilitary and security forces you are spared, otherwise, you are beaten and killed with a picture of V.Prabakaran hanging round your neck. Many people keep quiet to be alive, protect their loved ones and others shed tears in private but the military rules.

    Your advice is well meant, no doubt, but we must be empathetic towards those who are not free to speak, write or mourn their dead.

    • 0
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      Saro: Do you celebrate Vilakkeedu — and do you do this by putting pictures of VP in university buildings?

      While I also don’t agree with everything this article says, the main line seems to be: “Both parties had a responsibility to act towards avoiding tension and diffusing it rather than aggravating it.” Would you not agree with this?

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        Ashoke, I do not celebrate Vilakkeedu nor am I under mono-ethnic Sri Lankan military control. Under the grip of the military it is not possible to ‘avoid tension’ because those enslaved and lost everything have no means of expressing their sorrow or mourn the loss of their loved ones who were mercilessly massacred and celebrated without any remorse or apology. Those who ventured to come out have nothing to lose, because the water level is above their head.

        To understand the mentality and attitude of the government look at how unfairly the Chief Justice is humiliated after the Supreme Court ruled , in essence, that it’s not the president’s representative – the governor, Ex-Army Maj Gen Chandrasiri- but the elected council of NPC should give approval to Divineguma Draft Bill as the people that elect it is supreme according to the constitution.

        You cannot put both parties on par to expect them to be responsible to avoid tension as one is hell bent on intimidating the other and those cornered and pushed around do rebel.

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          Rebels will be met with force. So don’t complain. Take the emotions out and think a bit deeper into what the good professor says.

  • 0
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    The University of Jaffna has an important role to play. That’s for sure.

    It can play an impoirtant role only IF it starts to think about getting rid of the corruption and chaos within its oragnizational boundaries.

    As of now, this University is nothing but an extremely corrupted and degrading organization – which is continuously proving its incapabilities to be a “centre of learing”.

    Let us not talk about the Pigs and the Monkeys, but focus on the “so called academics” who actually are acting-out like underworld gansters.

    From Shanmugalingan to Vasanthi Arasaretnam – these Dons of Academia are thoroughly corrupted, and are incapable of steering this organization on a progressive pathway.

    Let the University re-organize and improve itself first – before it can start to contribute to the development of the region and country!!!

  • 0
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    Politics is nothing new to srilankan universities ,and still exist .From Vice chancellor to minor position are filled by political appointments.Government try every step to put nose in to the Higher education system for its own agendas.Recent initiatives for army training to university students is clear evidence for that.Still, From JVP to other political factions function in universities with freedom.There are several protests took place in other universities however there were not this much suppression there.Army and police intimidation exist outside the university and they stationed outside the campus in a threatening manner.Do Think why the difference of use of power for north only?.Its clearly a racial discrimination.

    Though the martyrs are from banned organisation,they are our brothers and sister.so,it doesnt matter where we celeberate and how we celeberate but important aspect is about our rights of expression and rights for protests.
    We should encourage the collectivism of the students,its a first step of new reveloution .Everybody should keep in mind that we should continue our struggle for existence whatever pressure comes

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    It is not a time for arguing. There are some innocent students, those didn’t involve this incident also have been arrested. So arguments will not provide anything. So try to release them and help to start the university as soon as possible. No one think about arrested innocent students. If this incident happen in southern universities, government will deeply involve in this matter and try to solve this problem. And also this matters didn’t published in most of southern medias. In Jaffna University, in past 12 months
    – Non academic staff strike -one month
    – Due to University students union secretary had been attacked, one month strike
    – academic staff strike- 3 months
    – current strike ??? months

    then the studies of innocent poor students????????

  • 0
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    Rama…. don’t be a racists. You would not like me to state if I am to say what you said. Keep the Tamil [Edited out] out of Universities in the South.
    Native Verddah… do not attempt to twists words…. [Edited out] Rama pointed out were people just like YOU>

  • 0
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    I agree with prof Mahasan, every tamil have right to grieve for their love one who lost their love ones.But it is not right time to grieve in University of Jaffna, Few politicians and few media wanted to create such tension in jaffna for their survival . Since early November 2012 these politicians and their followers spread rumours that security forces going to spoil Heros days.In 2011 same university students remembered Maverar day inside university.

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    Advice to University Students:Please concentrate on your studies,don’t get caught in TNA trap.Few TNA followers and few jaffna media want to create choas in jaffna for their political survival.

    As students you can grieve for love ones who lost their life in private.After all tamil political parties turn to democracy we can organise Grivance day in Jaffna peninsula with the permission from SL authority

    • 0
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      Here’s the bottom line in many instances:

      “The minority Tamil” is the new and most commonly referenced social SCAPEGOAT, never mind about “the graft and criminality that”
      is going on in Sri Lanka. Woof, woof, yum yum! :):)

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      Fully agree with Parithi. A wholesale mindset change need to take place among both Sinhala & Tamil people so there will be a more condusive environment for proper rememberance of personal losses, individually or collectively. It will take a fair bit of time. After a brutal 30 year conflict, the scars are still fresh where saner counsel like the good professor’s is the need of the hour.

      Threats of new revolutions and struggles will bring more and more misery. Nothing else.

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    while advice of mahesan niranjan is noteworthy.his advice is from an academic perspective an experience which he has gained because of his stay in a cosy secure environment.unfortunately reality in strilanka particularly northern srilanka is really appalling.lack of political inclusion,total lack of respect for human rights has made tamils as some one wrote an open prison inmates in their own homeland.but i would not blame sinhalese community partially because they themselves are under relentless attack sans racism.not only they reel under economic mismanagement systematically their institutions one by one are being bulldozed and made pliant to rajapakshe gang.first they came for armed forces,next election commission and now judiciary.tamils of north are trying to exhibit their opposition unfortunately every action is interpreted as a tacit support to tamil separatism with tamil tigers secretely lurking behind.i believe practically tamil students instead of openly exhibiting should secretely mourn their dead on 27th november every year without drawing any suspicion.as far as 27th november choice of date it is no longer a tiger event rather it has become mainstream.who knows tamils worldwide may mark 27th november as a day of mourning.

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      November 27th is a LTTE day. Its not any Tamil day. The first person to die in the Tamil liberation struggle is Sivakumaran. Pirabakaran and the LTTE tried to re-write history, tried to potray LTTE was the only group and Pirabakaran was the only leader. Hundreds of Tamil youths, who set out were killed by LTTE and branded traitors. Now what, Pirabakaran was the true traitor.
      During the LTTE controlled time, they didnt allow any sort of diffferent opinion, and several were shot and killed, or brutally tortured and killed. Tamils should get rid of anything to remember the LTTE. Parents who lost their kids in LTTE, should mourn thier losses. Lots of these kids who gave thier lives for the liberation deserve good recognition- not Pirabakaran or anything he initiated- including the Maveerar naal. Piraba was a curse to the Tamil society and should be put in the same place as Saddam, Hitler and Gadaffi- who brought only destruction to his own people through his brutality.

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    First new revolution should start from heart of every tamils as well as Sinhales.We as tamils first concentrate on us.We have to evolve ,we still have cast system,many other difference among us.
    I heard many of rehabilitated women ex _LTTE cadres could not get marry in our soceity, so called freedom fighters fighted for tamils have no future.But GOSL has recruited around 4000 ex-LTTE cadres for Civil Defense , another 100 for Army Cadet, another 500 to be selected for teaching,first make our heart to appreciate what good GOSL doing for Ex-LTTE cadre’s future.

    Request to University students: if you really want to respect our brothers and sisters who died ,please preach our soceity to change ,do what ever little help for widows with children, get marry young widows who lost their love one in war.You can do lot for tamils as well as Sinhales than get in to trouble with security forces.

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    We cannot allow a handful of troublemakers spoil the whole university. Those who are trying to disturb the normalcy and being obstacle to the progres of Tamil people should be ‘stopped’ by whatever means possible. These ‘students’ aren’t concerned about Tamils, lots of them are still struggling to get on with life. Several ex-LTTE are struggling to make ends meet. These trouble-makers at the University dont give damn about the hardships of tamils. They want to ‘glorify’ LTTE. Thats not acceptable, and those responsbile should be dealt with harshly. University, including the hostels are government properties- so the security forces have every right to enter there. These buildings aren’t private homes..

  • 0
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    Good article, but some people comments are irrelevant and useless. The CT must stop those useless comments and maintain professional journalism. Some people will never learn, but act like they know everything, their heads are biggest as hot air balloons. These people must be controlled, otherwise we will continue to go down as we did in the last thirty years.

    Some people are overwhelmed by the actions of the Sri Lankan police and army. But I am not, because few elements want to distract the young Tamils from their studies, in order to bring the LTTE back and keep Sri Lanka under them forever. I will not allow that. I support the Sri Lankan government in this particular issue. However, I do not agree with every policy of the Rajapaksa government. And also I would like to mention that the LTTE is the most dangerous outfit than the JVP. The LTTE had no boundary when it comes to assassinations. The LTTE even assassinated the largest democratic country’s Prime Minister, it was the most serious crime. The JVP did not go this far, so please do not compare the JVP with the most dangerous LTTE.

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    At the moment what is best for the Tamils is to keep their children out of the firing line and get them educated and qualified. Thats whats required for the community which will help you in the long term. In the past it has been your education and ability to persevere and work hard that has brought you to the forefront.

    Best to continue with that and avoid disrupting their education for the sake of the future. Dont play into the hands of this racist govt which wants to keep you down. Leave the talking to your experienced politicians, professionals, academics and lawyers.

    • 0
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      Well said Safa, the Jaffna University is not a place to celebrate uneducated criminal’s birthdays or to promote their ideology. Those criminals have assassinated the Tamil, Sinhala and world leaders. The Jaffna university is a place to equip and develop intellectuals and leaders. Why this simple fact is so hard for the Tamils and Sinhalese to understand?

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    Hela

    “Rebels will be met with force. So don’t complain.”

    This is what all dictators and their cronies said in the past and will continue to say.

    There is a difference between rebellion and terrorism. JVP was the pioneer in terrorism and LTTE followed suit. It was easy to crush both because essentially India and West wanted finish them off.

    You tend to forget people struggle to democratise the state.

    You say:

    “Take the emotions out and think a bit deeper into what the good professor says.”

    Are you appealing to the Sinhala/Buddhists too, you included?

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    Hela

    A lot of the soldiers need help. Their heads are screwed up. Please do help them instead preaching young Tamils what to do.

  • 0
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    sivakumar (?), don’t speak for me old chap.

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