20 August, 2019

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Square Pegs In Round Holes In The Land Of No Accountability

By Niresh Eliatamby

Niresh Eliatamby

Let’s stop calling them ‘rioters’ and ‘mobs’, shall we? They are terrorists. They kill people, and loot and burn the shops and houses of ordinary people. They terrorize people. That’s terrorism. They are terrorists.

The Chief of Defense Staff actually went further and publicly labelled as ‘traitors’ those who rampaged through much of the Northwestern Province and parts of the Gampaha District. His reasoning is that these acts of violence are anti-national acts and amount to treason. He is correct.

Do we have the right men at the top?

Pity the new Secretary of Defense, a decorated war veteran of the 1990s, who it is understood had the job thrust upon him because many other retired officers declined requests to take on the hot seat. But his performance has been woeful at best, given the mayhem that unfolded in several districts this week. Was no one listening to him, or did he simply not take suitable action?

On Monday of course, we all learned that our Minister of Defense, who also happens to be our President, had waltzed off overseas. This time, he actually appointed the State Minister for Defense to act for him as Minister. However, the fact that the mayhem continued for more than four days (as I write this, Sri Lanka’s second largest city – Gampaha – is under a curfew for yet another night) speaks volumes for the fact that the Acting Minister was unable to bring the situation to a close. He of course is a civilian leader. But did he not receive the proper advice from the experienced military men and police officers in top posts? After all, our senior-most military and police men each spent at least a quarter of a century fighting and ultimately vanquishing the LTTE, which was a far more dangerous terrorist organisation.

More than 48 hours after the rioting began, the Commander of the Army and the Acting IGP came on TV and announced that soldiers and police would take the most severe action. Why they waited so long is perplexing. Are the senior officers in the field not obeying their orders? So far, only one Superintendent of Police has been transferred.

Traitors commanded by politicians

So who are these terrorists? They are in fact the goons and henchmen of the political thugs whom Sri Lanka’s voters have placed in positions of power. That much is certain. Political leaders of both the ruling and opposition parties have in the last two days pontificated that these are ‘outside political forces’, and firmly asserted that this was not a spontaneous backlash by Sinhala people of the region. Most Sri Lankans, I would think, would agree with these assertions. Of course, local rascals would often join in once a rampage starts.

But of course, these same political leaders did little to reign in the goons. In fact, the question that needs to be asked is which political leader or leaders planned and ordered this mayhem. It’s a question that is unlikely to ever be officially answered, just as the same question remains unanswered for Black July since 1983, although most of us can hazard a well educated guess about that one.

Who let this mayhem continue?

However, this does not mean that the matter should not be investigated. For that, we need another Commission of Investigation – Presidential, Parliamentary, whatever. Don’t laugh. To not investigate the matter would be worse.

Apart from attempting to unravel the tangled web of who was behind the violence, such a commission must also investigate why the police and armed forces allowed the mayhem to escalate and continue for so long, instead of nipping it in the bud as soon as it began.

It is ludicrous to think that the police could not have quelled the situation. The fact is that political goons are not fighting for a cause. They do it for the money that they receive from politicians. Having covered numerous riots and demonstrations over many years as a journalist, it is my opinion that a simple baton charge by a determined group of policemen is quite sufficient to end such mayhem. Anyone who has ever been at the receiving end of a swinging police baton knows that once you get hit by it, you don’t want to get hit again for a very long time. Our police are also not known for their gentleness in such situations. 

If there were too many rioters (terrorists), then a couple of shots from a T56 or pistol at the leader of the mob would have caused them to turn tail and flee. Nowhere did we see any of the rioters (terrorists) carrying firearms. However, every policeman is allowed to carry a pistol or a T56 automatic rifle. Our police and soldiers think nothing about shooting at a vehicle that doesn’t stop at a checkpoint, so they shouldn’t have any qualms about shooting a couple of rioters (terrorists). Why weren’t they given orders for this on the first day of the violence?

The Internet is awash with allegations and CCTV footage of political types getting involved in the mess, and ordinary soldiers and policemen standing by and watching some of the attacks take place. Unlike in 1983, there are smartphones and CCTV cameras recording the shameful scenes, and broadcasting them around the world through the Internet. So much for the president’s plea for foreign tourists to visit our charming paradise isle.

However, the glaring fact is that not a single terrorist was shot. In fact, there have not been any reports of any of them even needing medical treatment from a baton injury.

Where were our elite troops?

Where in the world were the rapid deployment teams of the army and Special Task Force? If the situation could not be quelled by ordinary police and soldiers, why not bring in the best as fast as possible? Helicopters could have carried elite troops to Chilaw within minutes. Remember that choppers don’t need airfields – they are able to land on or hover over any suitably large patch of ground such as a football ground or paddy field. They can also easily carry the high powered motorbikes used by elite troops. There are also other methods such as spraying tear gas from helicopters that are routinely used by other countries.

According to Google Maps, it takes two hours by car to reach Chilaw from Ganemulla, where the army’s Commando Regiment is based. In fact, Google Maps shows that you could walk from Ganemulla to Chilaw in fourteen hours. I kid you not! A push bike could get you there in less than five hours. So why in the world was a second day of rioting allowed at all? Shouldn’t the entire Northwestern Province have been chockful of tens of thousands of soldiers by Monday morning?

Any argument that we don’t have sufficient numbers of troops is laughable. A simple Google search will show that Sri Lanka remains one of the most heavily militarized countries in the world. Sri Lanka is the 22nd country in the world in terms of per capita military personnel, and also has the 20th largest army in the world! And that’s not even counting the police.

Questions, questions and more questions. But very few answers.

*Niresh Eliatamby spent nearly two decades covering Sri Lanka’s civil war

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Latest comments

  • 24
    3

    Niresh, welcome to the Banana Republic, here things doesn’t happen the way it happens in civilised countries, BR has a different set of laws, the majority race boast of a 2500 years of history in the land, by the looks of it, the race have not progressed at all during these 2500 years, its like a year of progress which is 2500 years old.

    Yesterday another columnist on CT wrote this, which is thought provoking.. “When Robert Knox said “the Cingalese are a cunning lot who mistake the low-level cunning they possess to be a high level of Intelligence,” he was not wrong by far.

  • 11
    1

    “Why weren’t they given orders for this on the first day of the violence? .”
    How the 1958 communal riots brought under control by Governor General Sir Oliver Goonetilleke?.
    It’s worth reading the article written by Mr. Rajeewa Jayaweera sometimes back captioned “Riot Control -then and now”.An excerpt;
    “As they came nearer, the Bren fired a burst over their heads to warn them. This had just the opposite effect. They took it as confirmation that the army was only bluffing. The roar of the crowd became louder and the obscenities more defiant. The entire 3,000 now began to swarm towards the barricade. At this point, the army unit commander said that he needed authority to open fire. Aluwihare (Derek Aluvihare, AGA, Polonnaruwa) signed the order. The officer put the paper in his pocket and walked out. On came the mob. They were only a few yards away now. One man in front raised his sarong, displaying his genitals in foul defiance of the army. The Bren opened fire, and the passionate exhibitionist fell dead. Two of his comrades shared his fate.

    The crowd scattered in all directions as the Bren stuttered briefly. Men who had been borne up by demoniacal courage reinforced by an assurance that they were politically protected now fled screaming in terror and forgathered in groups far away from the range of the gun.”

  • 14
    0

    Niresh Eliatamby,
    I share your frustration so totally. SL is the only country where conspiracy theories have actually come true. There is no doubt the rioting aka terrorism was partly organized, encouraged and tolerated. We are a doomed nation, populated with countless fools and run by corrupt, blood-soaked crooks.
    Revolution where are you? Bring me my country back!

    • 8
      1

      Ben Hurling,
      It is good to see that you have changed your mind about Srilanka, its political and religious leaderships. They have created all the problems that the country faced until now since 1948. People do not know where to find truth and true leadership.

  • 8
    0

    “His reasoning is that these acts of violence are anti-national acts and amount to treason. He is correct.”
    Reasoning is generally correct, but actions are not always so.
    There is clear evidence of security forces conniving with the ‘terrorists’.
    Criminals are readily bailed out by corrupt politicians.
    Prime suspects in murder cases are restored in their posts.
    Who do we take seriously?

  • 8
    0

    What a miserable set up. We are a cursed lot for having people like this to rule this Country. But we are to blame for bringing them to rule over us for over the last so many decades. Worse will follow and I believe none of us will escape, as I DO NOT SEE A WAY OUT. All are tainted with the satanic brush, the brush of evil, to kill, to maim, to slaughter, and all for the greed of the filthy lucre of money, and power.
    It comes from the very top, a spineless, self centered, good for nothing, puerile,imbecile.

  • 7
    2

    Yes, they are terrorists. They kill people, loot and burn the shops and houses of ordinary people. However, in Sri Lanka Buddhist fascists including thuggery monks call themselves as the saviours of Sinha-le aka Balu-le from the minorities. Despite being the majority with 70% of Sri Lanka’s population the insecurity and intolerance towards the minorities are appalling. Mainstream media, Buddhist politicians, monks, fascists, Police, and armed forces have a jolly good time when the minorities are under attack and what really those low IQ terrorists do not want to realize is that these type of harassment, attack, killings, and injustice only push the minorities to take arms.

  • 8
    0

    They are indeed terrorists. They start attacking helpless people, their property, businesses, and have even killed, so what other term is applicable? The worst part of it is, there have been some of our security personnel, also involved, looking the other way, and directing these terrorists. So what shall we call them?

    It is unfortunate and disappointing, that there have been far too many of these terrorists surfacing during times of ethnic tensions, many times organized by the bigger terrorists, sent in buses and trucks, to cause terror and violence.
    They are now video taped behaving like uncivilized barbarians, skinny jobless terrorists attacking with tools and stones, for the entire world to see.
    Where are our damn leaders?

  • 4
    2

    The author has conveniently forgotten or overlooked the fact that our Security forces are for the Majority Sinhala people and they are just doing that. Looking for baton charged or shooting injuries to our Patriotic people is illogical and unfair in this country of all Patriots.

  • 1
    5

    Niresh,
    The last thing govt want is killing an unarmed person at this time . Calling Elite force or even Military is the last resort. As you correctly said Police could have used conventional methods to disperse unlawful assembly , but they are not terrorists. If so we are a country of terrorists. We see protests in North and South and sometimes it get violent. We so some violent riots in UK, 2011 with looting and vandalizing which started in London but spread. To use water cannon against this rioters, a parliament sanction was sought!

  • 3
    1

    This is a land of the totally blind. So normal expectations will not work here. These so-called “Native Goons”, as Blind Eagle Eye says., these ignorant morons can only destroy anything that is good. They just can’t create anything good or useful. Despite regular and periodic anti minority violences and sinhala terrorisms and fraud, plunder drug trafficking and murders, abductions and so on and despite the senseless sinhala “leaders” (misleaders) yet the country is surviving because of the hard working minorities. If not the buggers would have been eating polos, kos, del and pol sambola, only. That does not mean that minorities are innocent. Tamil militancy went beyond its mandate owing to Velupillay’s ignorance, and refusal to listen to advise and silencing all the fair thinking Tamils. VP did not understand what politics is, and he thought cyanide pills and a few misguided and brain washed Tamil youths lives will bring him Eelam. VP finally succeeded only in making the tamils’ legitimate struggle into a terrorist struggle and finally ruined the entire scope. Now he is only reminded by some Tamil refugees in the west who still want trouble in SL so that their asylum claims may be accepted. These are another bunch of illiterate guys who have no idea about SL politics and the reality around.

    …….Continued

  • 0
    2

    Continuesd…..

    Muslims, on the other hand scored numerous brownies from Sinhala racists for undermining Tamil legitimate and reasonable struggle and presto from 1983 onwards a pet race of the Sinhalas. Muslims achieved more than what was promised. When VP is no more, then the modays as usual fell jealous of the Muslims huge progress. Muslims by cunning and shrewd manipulations plundered a lot and even dreaming of an Islamic Republic of Kathankudy. Wahabism, Islamic dress code, Arabic language, Date palms, Mosques and madarasas run by Arab Islamic fanatics and by the time appe Maha Modayas woke up it was too late for any legal or political reform and recovery. Muslims not only became arrogant and aggressive but even confrontational, don’t care attitude. These Appe Modayas are only interested in winning elections at any cost. They dont believe in Buddhism and only rely on Hindu Deiyos. So out of their desperation they set out the “Sinhala Buddhist Racist Reserve Regiment”, who are always there to lay their blood for looting, burning, and killing the minority supported by regulars. This Reserve regiment is always there when the modayas make a blunder and to cover up they jump on the minorities. Even as far back as 1959 when Banda was murdered by Somarama Terrorist, they had already printed bills to distribute accusing Tamils as the killers. But since Somarama was captured minus one of his testicles the truth was out.

  • 4
    2

    Low IQ is a nice way of saying modayas. This has been proven numerous times over the years. When a leader is chosen, he/she too comes from the same batch. (Ekama walle pol) We can only adjust our expectation. I also don’t believe the 70% is insecure, that is not the reason they riot and loot, they are simply jealous. They can’t tolerate anyone prospering not even their own.

  • 1
    0

    It is a well elaborated write up by the veteran journalist Niresh Eliatamby of the perilous state of affairs that prevails in our country. Evil acts of politicians to encourage their henchmen to unleash violence on innocent people to their advantage. Their minions don’t possess self-esteem and have low emotional intelligence. Such people lose their balance for a slightest provocation and for petty material gains offered by the traitorous leaders. This has been the case since independence where opportunistic politicians exploited innocent people by inciting violence without directing them on progressive path. Past and the present leaders miserably failed to put the country on a financially successful track to be in par with the rest of the world. As a result country is faced with acute shortage for professional to spearhead national projects utilizing the local expertise. So the exodus of professions seeking greener pasture continuing unabated. But unfortunately these are not serious issues for the politicians as their ulterior motive is to rob the state funds come what may. Corruption and violence will continue from top to bottom as long as the present politicians exist and it is hard to see any genuine leader in the making to take the mantle to lead us to prosperity. Million dollar question is ‘WHO WILL BELL THE CAT’?

  • 1
    0

    Amed,

    I think Rajeewa Jayaweera was quoting “Emergency 58” by Tarzie Vitachi.

  • 0
    1

    “They kill people, and loot and burn the shops and houses of ordinary people.”

    They have not killed anyone, as far as I know. That is why they are not terrorists. You cannot randomly designate an entity as “terrorist” unless it adheres to some rigid standard. This is because the measures in place to deal with so-called terrorists are rather extreme and – for the most part – do not apply to the rest of the population. As to the question of what this standard is, it is established by the law (not journalists), and upheld by the security forces.

  • 1
    0

    Lester you are trying to give a new definition of terrorism. Appe guys are only good at re-writing things to suit their needs. Any form of violence against the people or to their properties by armed forces or any other groups for political, racial or religious reasons are considered as terrorism and the perpetrators are terrorists. So don’t be foolishly proud by saying that the goons including Yellow robed thugs did not kill anyone and instead looted them, robbed them and burnt and destroyed their belongings. Come on Lester you must wake up from your ignorance. What Muslims did was terrorism. What you guys did to minorities are terrorism. When Ltte attacked the civilians it was terrorism. When Army bombed and killed Tamil civilians in hospitals, temples and schools are all terrorism. By the way Lester let us see your definition and how Army uphold that definition. I think MR said that Army was killing whileUN convention in one hand and the gun in the other hand. Lying and bluffing has become a tragic way of life. This is what will happen when people have lost their moral values and lost the ability to think and analyse.

    • 0
      0

      Dear Nathan,

      In any country, there must be law and order in order for the citizens to have peace. LTTE and JVP violated this most basic rule. Therefore, the government had to take extraordinary (and extrajudicial) measures to combat these threats. There is no reason to shed crocodile tears for LTTE over a make-believe Eelamist mythology of Tamil superiority. Anyway, LTTE had many chances to negotiate… remember the IPKF came and were willing to supervise a federal state. What did Dear Leader do, he chased them out and blew up R. Gandhi. Face the facts, LTTE only wanted Eelam. They would have then expanded the borders of Eelam to include the whole island, as this is how fascists think. Unfortunately some innocent Tamils got caught in this mess since LTTE used them as pawns. Let us blame that on your leaders Chelva, Ponna, and Amir, who for 50 years never negotiated with Sinhalese in good faith. Amir thought TULF can control LTTE, he got a bullet in the head. Finally the Sinhalese elected a strong leader who put an end to this mess. Now, as a minority, rather than dwell on the past, you should negotiate some deal with the majority. Don’t worry about BBS, the monks have advised the people since the days of kings. Because of the monks, the people did not elect a fool like Ranil to be President and sell the country to NGO’s. Rather than jail Gnanasara Thero, the government should have combated Islamic extremism. What he pointed out was correct, whether you like it or not. By the way, do you think the Easter attacks would have happened if Mahinda was PM?

  • 1
    0

    Hi Lester, Well some think that MR and Co had a hand in Easter Sunday disaster. But it is only a speculation. Of course LTTE missed many opportunities and misled Tamils owing to its lack of understanding of the reality and finally paid for it but at a terrible price. But what is important is to know why ltte came into the scene? Tamils were never violent people while Sinhalese always were. Sinhala violence led to ltte but of course they finally mismanaged it. But have sinhalas learnt anything from the past? Certainly no. It is because of their modakama and greed for power and majority complex. Now see the plight of SL. Sinhalas are going to be the losers. US, China, India, well next world war may start in SL itself. Sinhala are like puppets jut dancing to China , US. MY3 joker just ran to China when they ordered him to come. SL is basically already lost mainly because of Sinhala Racism.

    • 0
      0

      Before you say non-violent, don’t forget the Chola and Pandyan invasions of the island, which the Sinhala kings beat back every time. Tamils are opportunists, even in India they agitated against Hindi and Sanskrit being the national languages. Just like they campaigned against Sinhala-Only in Sri Lanka. Some Tamils believe Tamil is older than Sanskrit and that Tamil is in fact the oldest language in India. Periyar wanted Tamil Nadu to separate from India and form a new country that included Tamil people from several Southern Indian states as well as Ceylon Tamils.
      Sri Lanka Tamils lost more than their lives in the war. They lost to Muslims, who are taking their lands now. If the Sinhalese government does not intervene, Muslims will easily be a larger demographic than Tamils in the North and East, even in Jaffna. Sri Lanka Tamils are extremely isolated; when you are isolated, it is easy for others to take advantage of you. Muslims have funding for their mosque building from UAE and other rich donors in the Gulf. When the mosque is built, they will not move from that area. They will claim all the neighboring land as belonging to them and more Muslims will move there. They do this in Western Europe as well; they buy an old church and Turkey or Saudi will fund construction for a new mosque. This threat of losing land is bigger than Sinhala racism, do you agree?

  • 0
    0

    Lester you have to study more on the Indian and Sri Lankan history. Dont go by what you read in sinhala papers and what your politicians say. For your information Thamil indeed is older than sanskrit and have no doubt about that. Draviadam is a race that evolved independently of the north. For you information India (as created by some including the west) is not a single country. There are so many languages, religions, cultures and traditions. They were in fact various kingdoms. Especially after British left it became a federal Indian republic, only way it could have been managed as one country. So naturally Dravidians will not encourage Sanskrit or hindi that is a language of the north. In SL your story of invasion is a latter part of the history. It was in fact an internal south Indian power struggle among Thamil Kingdoms.Except for your distorted history there is no such thing as a Sinhala country and Buddhism came here from the north of India. There were tamil speaking Buddhists and that is history. Have’t you heard of Siklapathikarm, Manimekali, etc., are all by Tamil speaking Buddhsits. Ilankai produced Sinhalas after the infiltration of Buddhsim and followed by pali speaking monks from the north. Sinhala is made of Thamil, sanskrit and pali. But I agree that this is history but yet we must know the truth. You guys are surviving by mere numerical number and distorting the truth. But you can mislead all.

    • 0
      0

      Nathan, Sanskrit is older than Tamil. Rig Veda, the oldest Hindu book, was written in Sanskrit, not Tamil. If you look at the old Tamil lexicons like “Cintar Tivakaram” and “Pinkala Nikantu”, you will find Sanskrit words in the original form or changed according to Tolkappiyar rules. For example, ‘nikantu’ is the Tamilised form of the Sanskrit word ‘nighantu’ or ‘nighanta’. There are many more examples. What you call as Siddha medicine is just a copycat of Ayurveda. Tamil actually borrowed from Sanskrit, not the other way around. Regarding Sinhala language, it evolved entirely in Sri Lanka from Prakrit and Pali. The Tamil influence did not come till after the 12th century. Mahavamsa was written in Pali. There is not a single Sinhala literary work written in Tamil. If Tamil was such a great language as you say, the monks would have learned it, as they learned Pali and Sanskrit. Also, Sinhala language borrowed many words from Vedda language, not only Tamil language. Words like head (oluwa) and leg (kakul). Ancient Sinhalese had more contact with Veddas than Tamils, at least initially. These common words in Sinhala and Vedda language are not found at all in Tamil. There are no words that Tamil has in common with Vedda language, which suggests that Sinhalese came to the island before Tamils, since we know for sure Veddas were the first inhabitants. Otherwise Tamils would have borrowed words from Vedda language.

  • 0
    1

    Niresh don’t forget that all this started because Radicalized muslims killed hundreds of innocent catholics who were at prayers, with their loved ones, on easter Sunday. I dont know how you would react if your loved ones were bombed and killed by anybody for no reason. Without finding fault with the government and the people of Sri Lanka, tell the muslims not to support wahabism or ISIS ideology. Muslims in Sri Lanka who support wahabism or ISIS ideology directly or indirectly will suffer, for sure. That is Sri Lankan style. That is what exactly happened to powerful LTTE who started terrorist activities in Sri Lanka in 1983 by killing 13 Army soldiers for no reason. Sri Lanka is a country where anybody could live in peace as long as they do not engage in terrorist activities.

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