25 November, 2020

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The Fate Of The Disappeared & The Northern Shutdown

By Mahendran Thiruvarangan

Mahendran Thiruvarangan

When a state abducts and arrests its citizens and hide from the knowledge of their loved ones and the public their whereabouts, one sees the brutal face of sovereign authority. This is a point where the state morphs into a totalitarian institution. The enforced disappearances of citizens who challenge the authority of a state sends out a chilling warning to those who have been spared of its iron grips: if you rise up in protest—armed or otherwise—against the state, you will be met with a similar fate. The roadside protests by the mothers and relatives of those who were made to disappear in the North and East during the civil war has posed a challenge to the sovereign authority of the Sri Lankan state while exposing its cruelty to a section of its people. These protests reach their second year this month. With the UNHRC sessions about to commence in March, the relatives of the disappeared have called for a major protest in Kilinochchi today demanding justice for the disappeared from the Sri Lankan state, the international community and the United Nations. 

Chelvi Thiagarajah

Today’s protest has received the support of the Tamil and Muslim political parties, civil society organizations, trade unions and the student bodies of the University of Jaffna and Eastern University of Sri Lanka. Some of these organizations have called for a complete shut down in the Northern Province. While protests are essential to draw the attention of local and international bodies towards the struggles of those who occupy the margins of the state and society, one should also reflect on the appropriateness of Hartals as a mode of resistance. Hartals may help consolidate resistance and give visibility to the critical questions that people, especially the minorities, marginalized communities and workers, raise collectively about the nature of the states under which they live and the international order that these states make up. However, one has to acknowledge there is a flip side to Hartals too, for they disrupt the provision of essential services and undermine the livelihood of daily-wage-earners and small vendors among others. Whether or not the Hartal can act as an effective way of channeling our resistance needs to be studied carefully taking into account the ways in which it affects the people of various walks of life in the region. 

The structural violence the Tamils and other minority communities have faced in Sri Lanka since Independence and the failure of the Sinhala-centric governments to resolve this crisis in a just manner has pushed the Tamils into turning increasingly towards international actors such as the United Nations for solutions. Although the internationalization of the conflict has not led to any radical transformation in the political system of the country, it should be understood as an outcome of the lack of political will on the part of the Southern leadership to introspect into its actions against the minorities and re-imagine the state in inclusive and pluralist terms. The Office of the Missing Persons (OMP) set up by the state to find the status of those who were made to disappear started its operations almost a year ago. However, it is yet to win the trust of the relatives of the disappeared. While recognizing that the OMP “has the potential to find the truth about the fate of and whereabouts of at least some of the disappeared persons,” rights activist Ruki Fernando noted in 2017 that “in the overall context it comes about, there is very little hope and confidence this could happen.” He observed that the government had to take efforts to “build hope and confidence [among those who are searching for their loved ones] in the OMP.” The ethno-nationalist separatists in the North use the inaction on the part of the state to demonize Tamil actors who still want to engage the Sri Lankan state and the Sinhala polity on political solutions. The continuing failure of the state to address issues like enforced disappearances and find a political solution to the national question has allowed divisive forces to expand their political base in the North. 

The international community including the various organs of the United Nations have done little to address the concerns of those who are demanding justice for the disappeared. These organs do not rein in states like Sri Lanka and Israel which systematically stifle protests and resistance that interrogate their exclusivist agendas. The UN as an organization committed to world peace acted in feeble, indecisive ways when minorities, marginalized communities and workers faced assaults from authoritarian governments. It overtly and tacitly grants legitimacy to sovereign violence by the states in existence by aiding their ruling classes to repress political opposition and insurgencies with brutal force. The international order, which is under the domination of economically powerful states with neo-imperial, neoliberal interests, is as much a failure as the local systems of governance as far as justice for sovereign violence in the global south is concerned. 

In many ways, powerful states and supranational bodies coexist on the tacit understanding that unless these states have economic and political interests in countries in the global south where human rights violations take place, the latter can be allowed to wield their authority to suppress local struggles for change and justice. Such a critique of supranational organizations like the UN, albeit necessary, should not prevent us from engaging them on issues that they are mandated to address. While we cannot expect much from these organizations given their track record in addressing the conflicts that happened in our country and many other parts of the world, there need to be more avenues for greater solidarity among those who face persecution and political oppression in the different parts of the world to make these organizations work better for justice or to create new organizations that can maintain their independence from neo-colonial forces. 

Today’s protests in the North will give a central place to the role of the Sri Lankan state in the disappearances that happened in the North and East. However, there are many other sides to the history of forcible disappearances in the region. In a heart-wrenching account, Rajan Hoole documents how Chelvi Thiagarajah, who was a student at the University of Jaffna, was made to disappear by the LTTE in 1990. The LTTE may be a dead horse but its ideology of demonizing dissenters and those who hold alternative political views is still alive in the region. One might even meet at the protests today nationalist activists who defended in the past the atrocities committed by the LTTE including the disappearances that the Movement was responsible for. Today’s protests, unless they kindle among the Tamils a self-appraisal of the internal violence that resulted in the disappearance and elimination of the dissenters, will be exploited for their personal gains by our self-righteous, populist leaders who shy away from dealing with the difficult questions our shared past has thrown at us regarding the kind of liberation struggle that was fought in the North-East. 

It is not just Tamils but Muslims and some Sinhalese in the region too who fell victim to the terror of both the state and other authoritarian actors who operated in the North and East. The following narrative figuring in one of the reports by the University Teachers for Human Rights records the disappearance of a Sinhalese in the East during the war.

Mr.Silva  (September– 22nd) Mr. Silva was a Sinhalese well known to all at Sorikalmunai because he is the only one who could-speak well in all 3 languages. He came there nearly 40 years ago as a government officer who was in charge of the houses built in that colony. He married a Tamil girl and was settled there. He had 6 girls and 2 boys. His elder son was already married. After his retirement he put up a small boutique and his sons also joined in his business.

Being a Sinhalese he didn’t have much difficulty in bringing food items passing the army camp. Some army and Muslims had falsely accused his younger son of giving food to the Tigers. In August the army had taken away the younger son. It was learnt that he was dead.

Mr. Silva was popular among the villagers for having acted as a spokesman whether it was during the IPKF’s time or the Sri Lankan army’s time. It made the Muslims and Sinhalese angry with him. Following the round-up at Sorikalmunai people left the College and the Church for various neighbouring villages. Some came down to Thirukkovil through interim paths while several others went down the slimy water of the Chavalakaddai lagoon and gone to Pandiruppu. Mr. Silva, being a Sinhalese, thought that he could go down the only main road which connects Chavalakaddai and Kalmunai with his elder son. They never reached Kalmunai. It is believed that both of them were hacked to death by the army and their bodies were burnt.

Like the saga of many Tamils and Muslims in the North-East who were made to disappear, the narrative about Mr. Silva and his son’s disappearance/death ends on a note of painful uncertainty. In the South, too, mothers have been searching for their sons and daughters who were made to disappear during the counter-insurgency against the JVP. These narratives help us understand the ways in which the histories of disappearance in the North-East and the rest of the country, while having their specific reasons and trajectories, cut across ethnic boundaries. They also underscore the importance of communities working together across the ethnic divide in holding the state accountable for the disappearances that happened in this country. 

The prolonged search for truth and justice by the mothers and relatives of the disappeared has led to the deterioration of the physical and emotional wellbeing of many of them. Local politicians, the state and the international community have drained them of their energy by repeatedly reneging on the promises they made to the protesters; but nevertheless the protesters’ will to truth-seeking keeps the struggle and the question of justice alive. Some of these mothers and fathers have died without finding a closure to their quest. Others suffer from the trauma of loss and the memories of the circumstances under which their children were handed over to the state. They do not know whether their children are dead or alive and do not want to participate in rituals of mourning and remembrance. Their everyday lives shuttle excruciatingly between hope and despair, not to mention the economic hardships many of them face. The Prime Minister’s recent appeal to the Tamils to forget and forgive the violence that happened in the past rings insincere and escapist in light of the pain and sorrow that has engulfed the lives of these protesting women. Without bringing to light the whereabouts of those who were made to disappear by the state and other actors, there is no remedy to the suffering that the mothers of the disappeared have been going through since they last saw their children. We as citizens and communities need to rise above the ethnic divisions that have taken root in the country in urging the state to reveal the truth about those who were made to disappear.

*Mahendran Thiruvarangan is attached to the Department of Linguistics & English, University of Jaffna 

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Latest comments

  • 3
    11

    You talk the Tamil side. I say what you are talking is very dangerous and is detrimental to the country. Relevant authorities of the govt should notice what you write. I heard, today, there was a Harthal by Venezulan people supporting the second President or the Rebel who claimed himself is the president. Some how a group wearing ARMY UNIFORMS had opened fire at the civilians protesting or on Harthal. How ever the result will be popular army among people will be unpopular. You can write Tribalist articles by manipulating the language. But, what you say may have so many repercussions and bearings. Who knows.

    • 9
      2

      @JD, dumb monkey, this is not all about Tamils, but it is about every innocent Sri Lankan who has gone missing presumably murdered by the state. Dumb filth always connecting every state sponsored murder to Tamils and write some racist garbage. Do you remember 85,000 Sinhala youths, who went missing in 1989 or is your memory so short, it does not go that far?

  • 4
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    Pity these Civil Organizations, Muslims, Trade Unions, University Students and Moms and Dads didn’t hold Protests and Shut Down the North to force the UNHCR Sessions, when Mr Pirahaparan was taking Children to make Tiger Martyrs.

    • 2
      2

      If MR.Pirapaharn was taking children to make ‘Tiger Martyrs’ his LTTE should be taken to task along with the Army. Why this reluctance?

  • 10
    1

    “The structural violence the Tamils and other minority communities have faced in Sri Lanka since Independence and the failure of the Sinhala-centric governments to resolve this crisis in a just manner has pushed the Tamils into turning increasingly towards international actors such as the United Nations for solutions.”
    There is something that the writer misses: The Tamil leadership represented an elitist interest all along and look up the colonial masters all along and later the imperialist west. India, meanwhile, is manipulating some of the leading parties.
    The Tamil leadership is politically bankrupt, and the people do not count on them in matters like missing persons, stolen land etc.
    *
    Generalization of disappearances and killings is no consolation to affected parties.
    To break the isolation of the Tamils in their call for justice in this and other serious matters, there is need for initiative from the South.
    There are a few groups from the South that speak up and demonstrate (jointly with Tamil groups as well) but receive inadequate publicity.
    The TNA, TPNF etc. are mainly responsible for the self-imposed isolation of the Tamils in such matters.
    TNA’s affinity for the UNP is one reason why it is spared by several critics of Tamil parochialism.

    • 2
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      SJ,

      I agree with your point about the Tamil leadership. They continue to remain silent when the UNP introduces economic policies that affect the poor and the workers. Sometimes they even backed these policies. Sumanthiran and Sampanthan reached out to the South after the war – but their engagement has been limited to talking with Southern leaders (Sumanthiran spoke at a couple of public meetings and appeared in some TV interviews). The TNPF, however, does not seem to be interested in any dialogue. They don’t want anyone to talk about the atrocities done in the name of Tamils in the past. I also totally agree with your point that there should be stronger initiatives from the South regarding matters like missing persons, political prisoners and land.

    • 2
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      MT
      Don’t try to flog TNA fairy tales to me.
      The FP’s loyalty to the UNP since 1965 has withstood UNP instigated communal violence between 1977 and 1983, a UNP instigated war on Tamils and UNP action to wreck solutions since the Kandy March of 1957 to the burning of the White Paper in Year 2000.
      Tamil nationalist politicians do not reach out to the South. They do not reach out to any oppressed people. They only reach out to their class allies.
      Have they denounced a single act of cruelty by the US and its allies in the past half century and more?
      *
      What did the TNA do when it was the voice of the LTTE to ensure seats in parliament?
      It is easy to denounce the LTTE (cautiously though) when the LTTE is down and out.
      But don’t try to award medals to these charlatans.
      Check out which foreign masters manipulate the lot.
      *
      The Tamil people have a genuine grievance and wish to give voice to it.
      Your comment does not do justice to that.
      There cannot be ifs and buts about defending demand for justice in the case of the unlawfully killed and ‘disappeared’.
      If other demands are added to it that is fine.
      But it is plain unjust to belittle a protest by victims, even it runs the risk of hijacking by opportunists of all manner.

      • 2
        0

        SJ,

        I won’t dispute your criticism of the TNA.

        I did not try to belittle the protest or the just demands by the protesters. I only highlighted how some politicians would exploit the protest to promote themselves. Highlighting it does not mean I am against the protest or trivializing the protest. My point about self-appraisal was directed towards those politicians and the larger Tamil community. It is a comment about the kind of conversations and reflections that the protest ought to lead to among Tamils.

        • 5
          4

          MT, you say:
          “Highlighting it does not mean I am against the protest or trivializing the protest.”
          *
          The strong case for the protest has escaped your attention in your analysis of various less related matters.
          The protest deserved unconditional support— warning of dangers is something besides.

          • 1
            0

            SJ

            I did not see expressing MY support to the protest as the purpose of my article. It was to provide an analysis of the protest/hartal and ask some related questions that are not generally asked (or asked by a few). But I did not try to belittle the protest by asking those questions.

  • 2
    1

    Protests like this was never heard of when Retd Maj. Gen GA Chadirasiri was Governor.
    That protests are possible is a mirage. Must not get carried away. Lankan Army spread all over N & E is the proxy Chandirasiri.

  • 2
    1

    Very hot news from a young scholar! My catchy phrases are however ‘one has to acknowledge there is a flip side to Hartals too, for they disrupt the provision of essential services and undermine the livelihood of daily-wage-earners and small vendors among others. Whether or not the Hartal can act as an effective way of channeling our resistance needs to be studied carefully taking into account the ways in which it affects the people of various walks of life in the region.’
    Hope this will not be misinterpreted. This is not at all to degrade the spirit of the Tamil collective resistance or the victims of the enforced disappeared in SL. But I tried to be practical and deal with this issue in hypothetical conditions.
    Well the question for today is how far the North and East orchestrated the collective compliance for Hartal? I do not know, if all cooperated, the pretest stage for the forthcoming events (elections) manipulated by the politicians are successful. If there were resistance and non-compliance shown at great extent, there is a clear message that people are not after politicians, but want to deal with the day to day challenges they face. People are practical, smart and independent. Well, if there was massive compliance shown, on the other hand, it is a strong message to the govt. of SL, international community and the UNHCR that minorities are still after transitional justice. Again my question is what/how is expected from govt. of SL in terms of criminal prosecutions and truth seeking with regard to enforced disappeared (ED)? Or simply what govt. of SL has in hand after nine of closure to the war to offer the victims of ED?

  • 2
    5

    It is the Sri lankan govt that Pays Salaries for these TRIBALIST – so-called Scholars. They are a threat to the country. North is not Tamil eelam. North alone can not pay your salary , benefits and perks. govt should not promote these people. They should be excluded from the community. We Know TNA is bankrupt. So, TNA may be looking for some Tribalism from people. IT is essential to watch this closely. I think your whole political aprty needs to be eliminated. IT is traitorous to the country. How can you talk Reconciliation this way. Are southerners your slaves ?

  • 1
    2

    “ The structural violence the Tamils and other minority communities have faced in Sri Lanka since Independence and the failure of the Sinhala-centric governments to resolve this crisis in a just manner has pushed the Tamils into turning increasingly towards international actors such as the United Nations for solutions. “ I do not understand if Thiruvarangan means that reaching UN (IC) is necessarily makes Tamils traitors against the Lankawe. He certainly wouldn’t mean that Tamils should have met IC long before Kathirgamar turned around IC against Tamils. But, until Kathirgamar was eliminated by Old Royals (at least that is what Ranil felt when he was talking at the Parliament) Kathirgamar worked against Tamils’ armed struggle at the international stage. It is said, without getting any solution for Tamils from Ex PM Vajpayee, Kathirgamar got the help of India to stall LTTE’s progress beyond Kaithady. Sinhala Governments claims that Kathirgamar successfully had LTTE proscribed in West. Thiruvarangan doesn’t forget to mention Chelvi, quite often & conveniently, but downplaying the missing 150,000 Tamils balancing to Chelvi. In Thiruvarangan list of LTTE forced to disappearances, it seems of Tamil inspector Bastiampillai also coming. So no need to mention Pushparani . Though Chandrika set up a shady investigation on missing Krishtanti and her family (Which brought to light Chemani) did Kathirgamar ever talked with the international bodies about Chandrika’s war crime like Chemani or Navali Church? Now Thiruvarangan is blasting mainly Western countries for not taking care of all missing persons. (He is blasting the West because, just like all Leftist theorists, Thiruvarangan also a Western educated). Sadly Thiruvarangan is not going to ask China or Russia to take the Tamils’ problem to UNSC. (Or, will he?) Now, Ahilan is working with UNP to plan to colonize the North, with the name of Economic Planning.

    • 1
      0

      Mallum,

      I searched through this entire page for the word “western.” It appears twice in your comment. Where does Thiruvarangan talk about western countries?

      • 1
        2

        Don’t have a dictionary? That is ok.

        west·ern
        Dictionary result for western
        /ˈwestərn/
        adjective
        adjective: western; adjective: Western
        1. situated in the west, or directed toward or facing the west. “there will be showers in some western areas”
        o (of a wind) blowing from the west.
        2. living in or originating from the West, in particular Europe or the United States.
        “Western society”

        https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=western+meaning

        • 2
          0

          I did not search for the meaning of the word. There is not a single sentence in this piece where Thiru states west or western countries. He only mentions powerful countries that may include China and Russia. Isn’t it quite unethical to attribute to someone something he has not said? Grow up, Mallum.

          • 1
            2

            ” unethical to attribute to someone something he has not said ”

            How ethical tying to hook Israel, a democratic country on the same yoke with Lankawe, a dictator country, its army rated as one within the 22 countries uses rape as weapon (Sex is fastest growing trade, EU put as one with in 21 money launders, a hub of South Asian gold smuggling, a hub of drugs, a hub of arm smugglers, 174th out of 179 countries in media freedom, Less than 2.3 % growth rate for 70 years, More than 1000% drop in exchange rate, 42 leaders accused of war crime- that is Lankawe; Israel is investigating even their incumbent PM). Does Thiruvarangan knows where in the Map Israel is and where Lankawe is?
            How many powerful communist countries saved Israel in UN or UNHRC? How many times Lankawe supported Israel in UNHRC or UNGA resolutions? Why Ranil did chased Atul Keshap out of his office when he went to explain why America was moving its embassy to Jerusalem? Why Cuba, China & Russia opposed the UNHRC resolutions from 2009 to until 2015 on Lankawe?

            It appears you didn’t know but, Thiruvarangan knows that TNA spokesperson explained even last week that they are not supporting to asking Britain or America to take Lankawe case to UNSC because they believed China and Russia waiting to veto there. They claim they believe that may defeat everything permanently. Ranil gave the Hangbangtota Harbor and 5 Villages Land to China only to secure the Veto.
            He only mentions powerful countries that may include China and Russia Be honest in your explanations. Don’t try to slip though hole using lame words. Then everybody can be ethical when they interpret Thiruvarangan’s words.

  • 1
    2

    “ However, one has to acknowledge there is a flip side to Hartals too, for they disrupt the provision of essential services and undermine the livelihood of daily-wage-earners and small vendors among others. “ Here goes Thiruvarangan again with his balanced writing. Because he had written five bads about the UN, Five bads about LTTE, five bads about GOSL he had to write five bads about the protestors (relatives of missing persons), too, to be a balanced journalist. So he wrote the above sentence. Under his Leftist labor union theory, strike is against the poor daily workers! “Mr. Mohandas Gandhi, do you hear me? Please get up and come back. By mistake you were born before Thiruvarangan. You need to come back & take some lesson from him and redo your Satyagraha. You were wearing loin cloth saying you wanted to do that until all Indian become capable wearing full cloth. Then why did you force the rich Indian to burn their imported dresses? If all Rich Indian had bought lot of cloths from British exporters and donated to poor Indian, wouldn’t they all have had full clothing long, long ago? Why was your dry brain could not think this Thiruvarangan’s rich idea?”

  • 1
    2

    They say man has a sixth sense. The lack of the hair on his skin allow him take in many feeling through his skin. Beyond the emotions, he takes in intelligence, instead by pure or dry thoughts. Life is different from math. If $10+$10= $20. That is math. But if you worked for $10 yesterday and today for another $10 it doesn’t means you have $20. First thing your employer may not be willing to pay you all the money. You might have lost couple of bills. Because the real life didn’t add up to math, it doesn’t mean mathematically going to work is wrong. In a real society poor man dependent on rich man for many things. So being fair to poor doesn’t mean the rich man surrendering his fundamental rights to poor man. We took up here much time what is equal justice or balanced journalism. It is worth to do one more time. The equal justice for thief and victim is not forcing the victim to share 50% of the property he/she lost to the thief. Same way balanced journalism is not 5 good points and five bad points for opposition and ruling. It is only about equal chance to represent them in the media. Government of Lankawe was able to hire paramilitary Tamils to stage war on its behalf. It very successfully used Karuna Theva, Kathirgamar…….Victims were oppressed by PTA, Emergency Regulation, Sinhala Jury Verdict, Government Media, or even by deporting international Aid and other NGO organization during the war. Thiruvarangan is saying Ranil’s call for forget and forgive is very untrue. Then after 70 years, where is he finding some chance to call for Kathirgamar style reconciliation? How is this becoming a balanced journalism?

  • 3
    0

    RW’s talk of ‘forgive and forget’ reminds me of a speech to students by a senior DIG at my high school back in the early 1980’s. .
    Students asked him about the killings during the 1977 riots and the ongoing police /military abductions and murders ( yes it happened even then, but wasn’t yet known as ‘white van’ abductions.)
    He said the people should forget the 1977 riots as a ‘bad dream’ and move on, without falling prey to troublemakers among Tamils. He didn’t say anything about the disappearances, but made it look like the media was making a big issue out of nothing.

    What happened in the years after that is now history.

  • 2
    3

    One hartal a month is good for the mental health of Northerners.

    Soma

    • 1
      1

      Soma, who I suspect is a woman and a Sinhalese, can afford to be cynical and insensitive.
      But for the tens of thousands of Tamil mothers, wives, parents who lost over 60,000 (?) persons – the lives and that of their near and dear ones remains shattered. I recall the response of MP Sumanthiran when a Sinhala journalist asked him if Tamils cannot forget the past now that some Sinhalese lives also were lost. His apt reply was “please tell that to the mothers of Tamil youth in Jaffna who are walking the streets for years, almost insane, that their dear ones have just vanished” This in a country claiming to observe and offer protection of the laws and supposed to be Constitution to all citizens!!!!

      If the UN is worth its name these Tamils will get their justice soon – despite the perfidious
      behaviour of Sirisena and Ranil. It is already far too late.

      Kettikaran

  • 1
    1

    ” there is a flip side to hartals too “

    Thiruvarangan sympathise with daily wage earners and small vendors. But he omits to mention purposely of thousands of ordinary poor people – farmers fishermen drivers traders labourers etc – who voluntarily participated in the hartal foregoing their earnings. Why did they participate? Because they could feel the suffering of neighbours as of their own. They knew loss of a member in a family or not knowing the fate of a family member snatched by state armed forces cannot be equated with the loss of few hundred rupees. Their feelings heart and mind are different from English educated peti bourgeoisie who stands with the state, their pay masters. They are aware that protests and hartal against the racist state are not like ” a dinner party, nor an essay, nor a painting, nor a piece of embroidery ” ( Mao ) but a form of expression of anger and appeal for help. They did it in order to stand shoulder to shoulder with the victims of state terror and shall continue it in spite of a ” flip side” that is visible only to our armchair critics.

    Furthermore there is a vast fundamental qualitative difference between acts of state terrorism / state sponsored terrorism and armed resistance of a liberation organisation. Castro Che Mao Lenin Trotsky Giap were never called as Terrorists in spite of them killing their opponents in thousands , because we view the objectives or cause of their struggle. Samething should apply to Prabakaran and LTTE too.

    • 1
      1

      Did you watch a short film about how a cobbler spent his day when there was a Hartal in 2017? It is quite enlightening. Watch it. Also join Facebook, if you have not yet, to read many non armed chair, non English speaking bourgeois voices that raised the question Thiruvarangan posed here about hartals. Does Thiruvarangan say he was against the hartal in this article?

      • 1
        2

        ” We as citizens and communities need to rise above the ethnic divisions that have taken root in the country in urging the state to reveal the truth about those who were made to disappear. ”

        Paramu,
        I think Thiruvarangan deserve to have been the EP of Lankawe for the past 70 years. Even now it is not too late. He should stand this time in South. I would like to stand in North.

        Thiruvarangan doesn’t want Western countries pamper Lankawe with Israel. Sinhala Chauvinists, to fry the West, filling up the CT with “UN, UNHRC, ICC, IMF, MCC, IB, Imperialism, Neo Colonialism, Neoliberalism, ……..” West is babysitting Lankawe in UNHRC. Thiruvarangan wants South to rise up for Tamils’, missing persons protest. All the lines are going parallel. How do you want me to make a circle out of them?

        (If you understand Thiruvarangan well, he doesn’t want you to start a protest that one Kathirgamar or Chelvi might have thought that Sinhalese cannot support for that cause)

    • 4
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      “Castro Che Mao Lenin Trotsky Giap were never called as Terrorists in spite of them killing their opponents in thousands , because we view the objectives or cause of their struggle. Samething should apply to Prabakaran and LTTE too.”
      *
      The people you mention did not go for civilians as target.
      They did not murder political rivals within or outside the party in the way P did.

      • 1
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        There are several articles and books written on the dark side of leaders I mentioned, available in the net. During red terror in Russia Cheka killed the opponents in thousands. There was white terror too. Were they not civilians just because they had opposing views? During cultural revolution and Great Leap Forward in China, don’t you know how civilians such as teachers professors scholars and other elites were killed by red guards until Mao stopped them, and by famine unleashed by Mao. Che’s countless executions of “traitors” and counter revolutionary ” worms” are in plenty. He was heading the Tribunal that ordered executions. Castro jailed comrades fought along with him just because they disagreed with his policies. Vallders, Padilla, Matos, Gomes are few of them. General Giap was known as butcher among his soldiers. Stalin killed his political rival Trotsky and the murderer Mecader was awarded ” Hero of the Soviet Union” title. His mother was given ” Order of Lenin” title. History is replete with full of incidents of killings of civilians and political rivals and we should view them without prejudice.

      • 0
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        Dear SJ

        The moment we separate JVP/PLOTE/TELO/EPRLF/FP/TULF/TNA…….from LTTE we are missing the point is it not?????? I am not even an LTTE sympathiser/supporter but we are not dealing with the criminals and bringing them to justice?

        It is all too easy for us to blame the Army forces for all our blunders on what basis???

        It is a weird discussion that the killers blame the GOSL and the armed forces for what is wrong with the country??? All the articles are based on the same basis??? are we normalising something in our own head? are we being honest to ourselves??

        If you thing only Mr P killed the political opponents please consult TULF/TNA?? Mr P actions came much later after the political vacuum was created by the TELO/PLOTE who cloned up the place of any opposition overnight on behalf off the TULOF Then they sought sanctuary with the GOSL and now they charge the same with the war crime and demand a separate ghetto for their connivance??? We Tamils were buttered/raped by this criminals now GOSL and UN want to sit and negotiate our future in SL??? kidding me.

        What is wrong with our Nation is this scenario where GOSL pushes the Tamils to have ghetto politics with the mafia running them as mercenaries.?????

    • 2
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      Saadhu,

      I am not completely opposed to the Hartal but I have questions about it. But there is a conversation about the viability of Hartals as a mode of protest happening in the North. A former student of the University of Jaffna wrote a perceptive commentary on this issue two years ago when he was a student. The title of the piece is “Hartal – Vidumurayai Kalithapadi Poaraadal.” I will post the link to the article as a separate comment in case comments with links are not allowed by CT. A link to the video about the Cobbler mentioned in the comment here appears in that piece.

      I sent this piece to CT for publication the night before the Hartal so I would not know how successful the Hartal would be and whether farmers, fishermen and workers would participate in it (I don’t know if everyone participated in the Hartal did so wholeheartedly – since you make a bold claim about it I hope you have spoken to at least a few of them). But the Hartal was a success.

      I don’t consider the LTTE a revolutionary organization. Creating a Tamil state in response to a Sinhala-Buddhist state is not revolutionary at all. Mahmood Mamdani has written about how the Left by accepting and promoting Leninist and Stalinist notions of nationhood blindly supported non-revolutionary causes like the one that the LTTE spearheaded that did not lead to any paradigmatic changes. Creating another nation-state in response to the violence by a nation-state is not progressive in my view.

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        Mahendran,

        “I sent this piece to CT for publication the night before the Hartal so I would not know how successful the Hartal would be and whether farmers, fishermen and workers would participate in it (I don’t know if everyone participated in the Hartal did so wholeheartedly – since you make a bold claim about it I hope you have spoken to at least a few of them). But the Hartal was a success. “

        I disagree. In the villages I visited many shops, restaurants and at least one market were open. Many construction and agricultural workers went to work. Nobody was blocking the roads. Some government servants went to work and had meetings. I rate the hartal as 60% of the previous ones but can only comment on one rural area.

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          Victor,

          Thanks for your comment. It is very possible that the Hartal received varying degrees of support in different parts of the North.

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        Mahendran

        Brother, I do not like to hurt you but I am compelled to say that your opinion on LTTE and Tamil State stated above in the last para is totally incorrect as if it comes from a person completely new to Tamils’ history and their struggle since 1920s. I would like to ask you to read particularly A J Wilson’s books and Satyendra’s articles in Tamil Nation website. This site is closed now but access to old articles is still possible.

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          Sadhu,

          I have read two of Wilson’s books: The Break-up of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism. I have issues with his arguments. I found Qadri Ismail’s critique of A J Wilson’s work in Abiding by Sri Lanka more convincing (it does not mean I agree with everything Qadri states in his work). I am in favor of a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual self-determination project in the North-East of Sri Lanka. That is why I wanted to bring in the disappearance of Silva in the article above. For me it is a strategic position, not a given. I am uncomfortable with the territory-ethnic nation-state paradigm (branding the North-East as Tamil and the South as Sinhala-Buddhist). I consider it genocidal. As Mamdani says in his work such an alternative does not lead to any paradigmatic changes in the idea of the state. We will end up re-creating the problem (the nation-state) with a difference in identity – in structural terms, the state we are trying to create is not going to be different from the state we are seeking to liberate ourselves from. The eviction of the Muslims in 1990 is ample proof why such a project is undesirable.

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            You are ” in favour of a multi ethnic multi lingual self determination project in N&E of Srilanka” . Well done. Forget about separate state for Tamils for the time being. But haven’t you come across in your readings, that the sole intention of several Sinhalese political leaders and major parties and Buddhist monks was to assimilate the Tamils into Sinhalese ethnicity. Since 1950s Sinhalese politicians Buddhist monks Sinhalese administrators and state armed forces are working towards this assimilation jointly. During LTTEs period this was slowed down but it is in full swing now. Army funded indirectly by State is playing an active role now by involving in every aspect of civilian matters. Don’t you think this is on the road to assimilation.

            For your ease reference:
            ” look at me. Four hundread years ago my forefathers were Tamils who came from India. I am now a Sinhalese.What is wrong with me? – CPde Silva.

            We want to absorb you. Why do you resent that. Because there are 40 million Tamils across the Palk strait you people give up the Tamil language and get absorbed, get assimilated. – Sahara Palansuriya MP

            We want to absorb you into our community –IMRA Iriyagolla MP

            Thiruvarangan, I am not a racist or an extremist. Not a supporter of FP/ TNA too. I think of reality and express my views. I expect you to keep your mind open and analyse the current situation taking into the past history, internal as well as external.

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              Sadhu,

              I am against all these claims demanding and supporting assimilation. I see militarization, Buddhisization and Sinhalization as a challenge to the plurality of the N&E, whereas Tamil nationalists see it as a threat to the Tamilness of the region. That is where I differ from Tamil nationalists. The two narratives are different in their understanding of the cultural landscape of N&E- but the goal is the same: challenging Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony. I recently came across a powerful poem by Ashraff where he portrays how the declaration of the Digavapi region as a Buddhist scared zone led to the dispossession of the Muslim communities that used the land in that region for agrarian purposes. In Panama, there is a Tamil-Veddha-Sinhala mixed community. There are purana villages of the Sinhalese in some parts of today’s Eastern Province. Sinhalization and Buddhisization are against the identities of these Sinhalese and Buddhists too. For me all these communities are facing threats from the Sinhala-Buddhist project of the state. That is why I see this issue as a threat to the multi-cultural, pluralist, multi-religious ethos of the North-East. I believe the hegemony of the SL state in the N&E can be resisted without branding the N&E as Tamil. Thank you for your thoughts and comments.

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        Thanks for the link and your views.

        When protests on the road side, meeting President and PM and seeking redress, appealing to NGOs and foreign embassy staff who visits protest sites, collecting signatures, protesting opposite Fort railway station, going to Geneva, failed to achieve any fruitful results what else these poor souls could do? They were a neglected lot by Tamil MPs administrators and people in power. They had no alternative but to continue to show their protest one way or another. They have to keep their demands alive. ONE way of doing it by way of hartal. Hartal is not new in this country. We had it all over the country exercised by all communities. We could find fault in anything. It is very easy as student Yatharthan writes. But he has failed to show an alternative way that brings relief. A critic should show the alternative too, if not mere criticism becomes worthless.

        Could you remember the satyagraha held in February 1961 when kachcheries in North and East came to an standstill for nearly a month or two. No one complained that public were inconvenienced or lost income. Everyone willingly participated in spite of their loss or inconvenience. Their aim was to achieve the aim and objectivesof the struggle for which they wanted to pay their contribution.

        Let us contribute our part to bring relief to our brothers and sisters, neglecting the loss or inconvenience.

        I beg to differ with your views in the second para. Hope I will find time to express my views, soon.

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          Saadhu,

          Hartals and Satyagrahas may make our opposition visible. No doubt. But those of us who have permanent jobs (we did not lose a single cent when we did not turn up to work on Monday) must be aware of our privileges. Like ethnicity, our class position matters a lot when we relate ourselves to others. We take many of our comforts for granted. Some might say I am giving a lame excuse here – but I take self-reflexivity seriously. I find the movie an important artistic creation in that regard. It urged me to look at things from a different vantage point.

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    I am Tamil, but I talk what going in Sri Lanka, when Srilanka Government want show, their parliament, ( then Tamil Party, backing the government): now what is going in Srilankan parliament every one knew, when Tamils ( North & East) had lost their children, normal each family Look for their children ¡? So they have right to ask the Government? ( when Government need to show it‘s power in Parliment, it need Tamil party) The Tamils / Muslims / Sinhalese vote for their(M.P,) if the —( M.P) not answering the people’s problems, they need to ask, government, ? So now the Government must answer, thanks,

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    Mothers and Fathers:

    All the disappeared ones are safe. They are having Tea & Buscuits at Temple Trees( The House Of Horrors) and a longterm rest. Some died of natural causes and their Skeletons & Ashes ( because of lack of space) were scattered over MANNAR.

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    First let me tell the sour thing before we go further. We are no longer with SJV style Ahimsa struggle. As far as we are concerned, Sinhala leaders defeated SJV 100%. We theoretically agreed with going for arm struggled. We may be wrong on that; we may be right on that. We don’t know the mistakes happened on that or the reason for mishap happened. Those are matters for sincere International Investigation. But it failed. We don’t know about Yatharthan’s stand. Anyhow, nobody wants to go back to that anymore. Tamils now unitedly have to go for the diplomatic agitation. This hartal and protest shouldn’t be aimed at Appe Aanduwa (It was not; Parents were trying to take it out of Lankawe by calling America’s involvement in finding the missing ones). Lankawe will never pay attention to Ahimsa or Hartal. So this Hartal has to be used to get the international attention. People must know Tamil political parties will only aim the election there. They won’t have the gut to talk to Sinhala leaders in Colombo. People should appeal to Colombo diplomats and International Governments to talk on their behalf.
    We know about 20 internal commissions’ reports gathering dust in Lankawe about Tamils’ right violations. But UNSG Ban Ki Moon told to Ranil not to expect the Expert Panel’s report vanish in thin air in UN office building. We want UN and UHRC to follow up on UNSG’s Expert Panel report and OHCHR’s OISL report. We want America, Britain, France, Canada, Australia, Japan, Norway, Germany…… to go to the next stage on their Resolution 30/1. We want democratic countries and UN to honor Ex. UNSG word. We want the Tamils’ issue resolved outside of Lankawe. We have no faith in resolving it inside, as the way Resolution 30/1 is requesting. If that ever happens, that is the modern days’ miracle, UN did.

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    Having said that, I don’t have a lot to debate with Thiruvarangan on his revival of the failed and abandoned, 1950s, 1960s Satyagraha methods. Thiruvarangan can join with Sinhala Buddhists and rise up and ask Appe Aanduwa to reveal how Kathirgamar was killed. But Aanduwa never will answer to the question of missing persons, whether Thiruvarangan ask for it alone or he jointly rise up with the Sinhala Buddhists.
    Thiruvarangan, as usual, misunderstands the Yathartham. So he did misunderstand Yatharthan too. Yatharthan is not advocating Ahimsa path. Neither us. But, for last ten years we have switched over to diplomatic agitation. But this is not a standardized struggle, unlike Ahimsa or Armed Struggle. Everybody has their ways, advocated. Further, according to their own political ideology, each one try to associate with his/her favorite countries and organizations. But calling for the international interference is the unification of all those follow this way. Thiruvarangan has his own doubts about IC solving any problems, including Israel and Palestine. Apparently, Yatharthan has not mentioned anything about this.
    “I am not completely opposed to the Hartal but I have questions about it. “ Here we have a practical problem and people wants to use Hartal to inform International Countries about their problem. Can Thiruvarangan say if people should go for that or no? If he says no, how he propose the people to communicate with IC? What kinds of effort he will take those ways give some success to the people?

    “I don’t consider the LTTE a revolutionary organization. Creating a Tamil state in response to a Sinhala-Buddhist state (after killing 150,000 in five months) is not revolutionary at all. Mahmood Mamdani has written about how the Left by accepting and promoting Leninist and Stalinist notions of nationhood blindly supported non-revolutionary causes like the one that the LTTE spearheaded that did not lead to any paradigmatic changes. Creating another nation-state in response to the violence by a nation-state is not progressive in my view. “

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    All rebelling are not revolution. Liberation or freedom seeking from a foreign government is not revolution. We are not aware if there is any wide spread claim of LTTE as revolutionary movement, (either left oriented or right oriented) though it was claimed by JVP. Thiruvarangan can assign anything in his mind as progressive. But other than few Sinhala Buddhist ever designated Kathirgamar was progressive, nobody ever claimed he had a policy other seeking posts from CBK. That man never stood for an election in Sinhala Buddhist South or in his community, North East, to start to talk about a solution to Tamils’ plight. He never advocated any philosophy. No schools of thought ever discuss his paths as capable of winning freedom to Tamils. Chandrika, who employed him for her personal use, just forgot about him as soon as he was wiped out by Old Royals. Whether Thiruvarangan prepared to accept or not, a nation faced Genocide by its own government is entitled to claim back its sovereignty and self-rule. This is recognized by UN. A nation willingly surrender to its oppressive government to wiped out may be progress to Thiruvarangan, but it is not in the history books.
    LTTE didn’t win. SJV didn’t win. Sampanthar-Sumanthiran’s Innaka Arasiyial so far did not bringing the Secret Solution. Kathirgamar did win the war for Sinhala Buddhists, but did not solve Tamils problem, either. But the difference between Kathirgamar and others is he destroyed his race until he was destroyed by his masters. Other believed their enemies and made peace, gave up their struggle and thus got destroyed. If I get chance to read Mahmood Mamdani’s “When Victims Become Killers “ , I bring here how much Thiruvarangan misunderstand Mahmood Mamdani too, like his misunderstanding of Yatharthan.

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      Mallaiyuran,

      From the comments you have posted here, I can safely conclude that you will never be able to understand Mamdani. But try. Maybe you should start with simple articles by high school students and then try more sophisticated ones. But Good Luck with Mamdani!

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    Thank you for the article.

    Immediate removal of Language/Religious/Race parties from our Mother Lanka will bring answers to all our problems for the past/current and the future scenarios we are discussing.

    No uneducated trashes as politician a ‘bunch of lawyers’ not allowed in the Parliament and any other elected offices in the country ever. Only those who has knowledge in economics/political science/world affairs/administrative qualifications/city planners/rural planners/environmentalist/scientists will ever be allowed to be elected by any parties with National Policies by law of the land. We need a generate Technocrats just like teachers training colleges so need educational institutions.

    We should join all the families of Sri Lanka to grief together (not as a separate entity) be it JVP/Tamil Militants/Civilians/Armed Forces who were made to kill each other by our unqualified politician to destroy the Nation hood and committed Treason. This traitors will never be forgiven should be eliminated and put away for good. No place in Sri Lanka and can be moved to TN with the permission of GOI to start the next phase of destruction for the Indian Ocean based in TN and never to step foot again in SL.

    Why we are always looking at the GOSL for all the missing people is a mystery when for example FP/TULF can point to the training camps in TN for some of the missing?? Planners/Trainers/executioners who used our children as mercenaries for their life style/regional politics.

    University children be educated to serve the Nation in the respective specialities for Nation Building Activities not as next training camps for more killings? There is no one left to take the blame except ourselves for our blunders has to be understood.

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    TV
    “Immediate removal of Language/Religious/Race parties from our Mother Lanka will bring answers to all our problems for the past/current and the future scenarios we are discussing.”
    *
    Banda called his party Sinhala Mahasabha.
    DS managed to firm an all-Sinhalese cabinet, without using such name.
    When identity is deep in one’s mind, what one calls himself is secondary to what one does.
    *
    The problem is too deep-rooted to solve with simple prescriptions.

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      Desr SJ

      Two wrongs does not make anything right is what we have learned at the expense of our children life???

      I never disputed the problems….just the solution offered by those have compounded the problems beyond our reach.

      The again we killed all those who choose to work with the GOSL too who seem to deliver things is a journey one may need to take based on the circumstances. Nothing in my life anywhere in the world is perfect and people have du diligently worked around them……..just as the caste oppressed manage to survive the ordeal we yet to address in our own back yard………is a journey. I am dealing with millions of crime to date around the world and keep working to make it better……..yet to kill anyone else because it does not suit me.

      we have to start somewhere is the point and the lessons learned too

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        TV
        It is not about any wrong making another right.
        Nor is it is about killing.
        When society is structured in a given way where a political majority oppresses minorities, the oppressed need mechanisms to protect themselves.
        Ethnic and other identities will lose significance if the basis for asserting them disappears.

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          Dear SJ

          I was born and brought up in SL.

          – The language issue was resolved as Hon SWRD paid a price with his life for this parity.
          – The standardisation did good to oppressed Tamils too. This has also given an opportunity for Tamils to diversify but there were not enough elected politicians worked with the GOSL to do simple economical development work such opportunities were created.

          The structure was put in place for a ‘reason’ and it did not kill the Tamils…………..the impact of not all the Tamil elite ending up in University should not mean end life. Structures are suppose to help disparity…….when the few Tamils & Sinhalese elite enjoyed colonial life then and after others accepted it but when we get a chance to deliver justice we moved to ghetto spaces.

          As I said Mr P should have been the head of fishers and the coast guard head the entire nation could be employed in the sea doing fishing/tourism/pollution management……..then again we did not have anyone to guide our children…

          From some of the comments I read I wonder if we are talking about the same country??? 197719832009 are all invited by the TULF for their survival with foreign help……..does not justify the violence on innocent Tamils by the thugs cause I agree. Now is a different story also I agree. Hard to fix this blunder…

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    Simple prescription was to speak about the language all ones political life and made a living.
    Simple prescription was to turn our children to be mercenaries.
    Simple prescription was to not to understand the needs of the low caste people/indian plantation workers/Rural Sinhalese.
    Simple prescription was to not to work with the government and killed all those did just that and delivered ample amount of much needed work to help their people.
    Simple prescription was to assume i own the Language and create causes when the language/culture/inheritance/right to shape a future belongs to us all.
    Simple prescription was to crate death rate systamatically over time to obtain their ghettos
    Simple prescription was to assume we are the only people with problems in the world.
    Simple prescription was to obtain mandate through violence……….the list goes on Sir

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