1 October, 2020

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The Tale Of Two Women

By V. Kanthaiya –

Sri Lanka is rich in culture. We have a history over 5000 years. Majority of the people in the country practice the teachings of Buddha which itself is rich moral principles.

Fine! This is the typical introduction a “true” Sri Lankan would give about his/her country. Interesting irony is that We Sri Lankans talk quite a lot about our 5000 years long history and the heritage, but hardly discuss about the past fifty year history of the country. Perhaps there is nothing to be proud about the period.

ManamperiIsaipiriyaIt is said Sri Lanka gained sovereignty from the British without shedding a single drop of blood. But an objective version would be that British didn’t need any drop of Blood to give the sovereignty back to the Sri Lankans. But later, the same so called sovereignty needed a gruesome bloodbath of Sri Lankans.

This column is not about the Sri Lankan history. This is about two women whom the Sri Lankan state has barbarically massacred in the name of protecting its sovereignty. The women share more similarities than their differences, yet the present Sri Lankan society conceive the fate of these women in two completely different perspectives.

First one is Premawathi Manamperi, from the southern tip of the island. In 1971, she was arrested by the Sri Lanka armed forces for her alleged participation in the JVP insurgency (not terrorism??). Her torturers stripped her naked and paraded her along the streets of Kataragama. She was shot and buried alive that night. Later her tormentors returned to finish off their “duty” with a bullet through the skull. Mannamperi was just 22 years old when she met her gruesome death.

38 years later, another woman met the same gruesome death at the hands of the Sri Lanka armed forces. Her name was Shoba a.k.a Isaipriya. She was born in 1982 and attended Manippai Green Memorial School till her fifth grade and later attended Veampadi Girls High School. She joined “Nitharsanam”, the media division of LTTE in 1996 where she mainly worked as a news reader and took part in the movement’s propaganda activities.

Soon after the end of the “humanitarian operation” in May 2009 conducted by the state armed forces which caused the complete wipeout of the LTTE, the Nitharsanam news reader herself became the news. The horrific photos released by channel 4 showed her murdered in a cold blooded manner with signs of sexual assault. The Sri Lankan state was amazingly fast to deny the allegations and say that all the photos were fabricated, even without conducting a proper investigation. Later in 2013, channel 4 released footage of Shoba surrendering to the security forces who mistook her for the daughter of the LTTE supremo. The footage also shows Shoba denying that. Channel 4 has stated that Shoba’s siblings have positively identified the visuals and the voice.

Despite the graphic evidences and the widespread condemnation they have made all over the world, tarnishing the image of the country, Sri Lanka never attempted to investigate the incident through a transparent impartial inquiry. The State’s stance is clear, as always. The videos and photos are fabricated, part of a conspiracy by the remnants of LTTE and the Tamil Diaspora to tarnish the image of the security forces. The State also doesn’t reveal how it has arrived at this conclusion. In 1972, Sri Lanka Government prosecuted the perpetrators of Manamperi’s death and later one was killed by the JVP in 1988, thus the barbaric torturers faced both the Sri Lanka legal system and the “natural justice”.

Both Manamperi and Shoba share the same association and the same end. Manamperi was alleged to be a JVP activist, which led an armed struggle as the Sri Lanka government continuously failed to address the grievances of the rural Sinhalese people. The movement was on its own was ruthless, massacred a large number of civilians whom it considered pro government.

LTTE is more or less a Tamil version of the JVP, which emerged to fight for an independent Tamil state, after the failure of the non-violent protests led by the popular Tamil leaders demanding the ethnic sinhalese majoritarian government to address the legitimate grievances of the Tamils. Unlike the JVP, with the experience curve effect, the LTTE specialized large scale military operations and also in child recruitment, suicide bomb attacks and targeting civilians. This eventually led the organization banned by over 30 countries.

One common element in the last 50 year history of Sri Lanka is that all the parties of the armed conflict, the government, LTTE, other Tamil militant groups, JVP, and also Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) carried out same atrocities against the civilians in the name of liberating them from the other party. They all killed the civilians in the name of punishing perceived traitors, spies, and informers, because it was much easier to kill someone who doesn’t possess any weapon, than someone carrying a firearm. They abducted children and forcibly engaged them in their violence. They raped the women. They carried out shelling and ariel attacks even on Kovils, mosques and churches killing thousands indiscriminately. The stark irony is that even the IPKF (also interpreted as the “Innocent People Killing Force” by the Tamils) which landed in the country to protect the civilians, engaged in large scale atrocities against the civilians in the name of wiping out LTTE. One such was at the Jaffna Teaching hospital where 60 innocent civilians including doctors and patients were massacred on October 21st and 22nd,1987.

Following the end of the war, many of the atrocities carried out by the LTTE are investigated and the perpetrators are being prosecuted in the court of law. But how many atrocities against the Tamils are being investigated? The state effectively gave the impunity and adequate protection to the racist elements which committed atrocities against the Tamils. For instance, does anybody remember how many were prosecuted by the Attorney General Office and brought to justice for the 1083 Black July pogrom?

The general mindset of most of the people in the south is that Shoba was subjected to this unimaginable brutality mainly due to “being at the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, the LTTE”. Perhaps Most of them also may just shrug off this question citing the number of teenage children sexually abused in our society. Does that justify her rape and murder? What about the other women who were subjected to the same even though they did not associate with the LTTE. Shoba a.k.a Isaipriya is not the first to be sexually assaulted and murdered in Sri Lanka’s ethnic conflict, and obviously not the last. She is just a single victim in a long list which also includes Krishanthi Kumarasamy, Ida Camalita, Koneswary, Sarathampaal ,Tharshini Muruguppilai and the list continues to go on. Only the army personnel, who were involved in Krishanthi Kumarasamy and her family’s murder, were prosecuted who later revealed the world about the “Semmani mass grave”. This could also be a reason why the State is hesitant to prosecute the perpetrators of these horrid acts. Once they are prosecuted there is a greater chance they may blow the whistle about the other large scale atrocities by the state itself. These incidents of sexual violence cannot be brushed away as isolated incidents. From the case of Mannamperi, it is evident that the state use rape as an effective counter insurgency measure, which would spread the fear psychosis among revolting population.

It’s not only the Tamils who face the injustice, now the Muslims in the country also face the same bitter treatment. The recent trend is that instead of prosecuting the suspects of mob violence (no need to mention the BBS and the Aluthgama Violence) the Sri Lanka police are actively engaged to “amicably solve the issues” through talks between the alleged perpetrators and the victims rather than taking legal action. This is a clear message to the victims from the state.”No action would be taken against the ones who destroy your business, loot your belongings and kill your beloved ones”.

This writer has a question for the so called patriots who say that all the allegations about the atrocities against the minority communities are fabricated.  If it can happen to Premawathi Mannamperi at the southern coast of the island, Couldn’t it have happened to Shoba at the eastern coast? If it can happen in Sooriyakanda, Couldn’t it have happened in Mulliwaikkal? If all Tamils who were killed by the Sri Lanka armed forces were terrorists, would you say that the school children and the family man who were killed in Weliweriya are also terrorists, just because they were killed by armed forces? If people of Weliweriya can have legitimate grievances which the state ignored, and if the people of Weliweriya were right to take it to the streets, Shouldn’t Tamils have the right to do that?

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Latest comments

  • 10
    8

    Dear V. Kanthaiya –

    “Sri Lanka is rich in culture. We have a history over 5000 years. Majority of the people in the country practice the teachings of Buddha which itself is rich moral principles.”

    Corrections.

    Sri Lanka has a varied culture. We have a history over 30,000 years, 27,000 years of it belongs to Native Veddah Aethho, People, until about 3,000 years ago Illegal Boatmen, called Kallathonis or Hora Oru arrived from South and East India. They added their culture beliefs, agriculture etc. along with Hinduism, and later Buddhism, 2.300 years ago that was introduced gradually, to establish the King-Monk Hegemony.

    Yes, it is this “rich” culture that has resulted in 20% inbreeding rate and low I.Q.of 79.

    The Vedda Tribe

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f89NuukY32U

    “but hardly discuss about the past fifty year history of the country. Perhaps there is nothing to be proud about the period.”

    This was the culmination of this “rich” Sinhala “Buddhist” Monk Mahanama culture, that resulted in Sinhala “Buddhist” Racism and Chauvinism and the current “culture”.

    Do You know the average I.Q. of a Sri Lankan with this rich culture of 3,000 years is only 79. Are you surprised? Why? There is some truth to the saying Sinhalaya, Sri Lanakan, modaya after all despite the so-called rich culture that was imported from India.

    National IQ Scores – Country Rankings

    http://www.photius.com/rankings/national_iq_scores_country_ranks.html

    Rank
    ——– Country
    ———————– %
    ————-
    1 Singapore 108
    2 South Korea 106
    3 Japan 105
    4 Italy 102

    27 Kenya 80
    28 Guatemala 79
    28 Sri Lanka 79
    28 Zambia 79
    29 Congo, Democratic Republic of the 78
    29 Nepal 78
    29 Qatar 78

  • 16
    2

    Fighting the state with force is not the answer. If you take the the three major conflicts following Independence, the state won all three; JVP 1971, JVP 1987-89, and the LTTE 2009. All that was needed was the political resolve of the government. Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, is a sign of madness. There are other ways of bringing about change.Think!

    • 4
      5

      In all three wars India, Russia played a key role in creating the trouble, and finishing the trouble. Here you talk about wars a against state. Another important fact is that the nation had several bloodbaths where the state sponsored in a cycle since 1958. The blood sucking culture is a common feature whether there is a war or not. I don’t know whether it is something to do with Buddha or Sinhalese or it is a combination of both. I don’t see any signs that this cycle will be broken in the near future.

  • 8
    8

    Interesting questions raised, await attacks from the patriots.

    • 5
      7

      What do you think about the article?

  • 6
    4

    only kind of a good terrorist is a dead one .

    Cheers

    Abhaya

  • 11
    4

    Karma has to find its way back to the Rajpakse’s. When this happens I would like to see all the corrupters, all the business magnates in Colombo, all the people who call them Gods standing by them now, standing by him when he falls. If they all do then I will call our nation a patriotic country. MR is covered in pseudo patriotism or else he would not have robbed his people of Tsunami funds. He robbed the people twice from the legitimacy of a democratic government when he bribed the LTTE to let him defeat RW, then again checkmated his former General SF through systematic rigging of the poles.

    The above article cannot find respite from the government, neither from its flawed legal processes nor from the UN. The people must decide and they will do so. May not at the next election but soon. MR & Co will be stripped naked and dragged on the streets. Sri Lanka is the wrong hands and certainly with the wrong family.

  • 7
    4

    Thank you author.

    “Majority of the people in the country practice the teachings of Buddha ….”

    Do they?

    I am not trying to offend BUDDHISM.

    • 6
      4

      Anpu

      “I am not trying to offend BUDDHISM.”

      However you are free to offend Sinhala/Buddhism as much as you want perhaps 24/7/52 basis.

  • 3
    6

    There are 2 sets of laws one for sinhalese buddists
    another for Minority.

    “Fighting the state with force is not the answer. If you take the the three major conflicts following Independence, the state won all three; JVP 1971, JVP 1987-89, and the LTTE 2009. All that was needed was the political resolve of the government. Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, is a sign of madness. There are other ways of bringing about change.Think!”

    Spring Koha
    What happens when the state doesn’t listen
    The African National Congress didn’t start as a fighting force only after the White Grovernment refused to listen they turned into fighting force as well.

    How long do the minorities have to listen before fighting when they’re rights are trampled on

    Now look the Sinhala buddist attacking the Muslims what action has the state taken. MR only commented on th Hartal the muslims launched and not the main violence so how can the muslims trust the forces.

    How many muslims have to be killed before they have the right to fight back.

    How long did the tamils take to start violence what other avenue were they left with

    as the saying goes it takes 2 to TANGO

    On a personnel note how many Christian churches have been burnt and Pastors killed and the state just watches as best and is coluding at worst.

    How many of these do I have to wait, tell me Spring Koha
    till 1000 churches are burnt
    10000 churches
    You tell me a appropriate number and I will wait and if you tell that I have to what till all my family friends are killed. I will wait till then since you in your infinite wisdom says ” Fighting the state with force is not the answer.”

  • 1
    2

    The tale of two women – Mathivathani and Dwarka.

    • 0
      2

      Thalai;
      You For got to mention these Tales of two women like;

      Shira Anthi and Pathi-Apavithra.

      Anrakali and AKse-nuska.

      Aariya wathi and Satalite.

  • 3
    2

    A great article which carries all the essence to the society ,though patriots will come fighting. Forced military training a girl who entered university went for training gets raped, of course patriots will defend that too.( THis happened a couple of days ago ) .

    The Saying goes ‘ When they came for the people in the streets you kept quiet and defended the offenders , When they came for the neighbor you kept quiet and defended the neighbor, Finally when they came for you no one was there to defend you .

    hope people will move in the right direction before its too late.

  • 4
    3

    TWo misguided women.

    • 5
      7

      Nuisance

      “TWo misguided women.”

      As your Sinhala/Buddhist tradition demands, blame the victims.

      • 6
        4

        “Victims” of what? Stupidity?

        • 4
          4

          Nuisance

          ““Victims” of what?”

          It is all too clear to see.

          “Stupidity?”

          Here we are not discussing about you.

  • 4
    3

    Premawathie Manamperi is an innocent girl. that is well known.

    But, why this Sobha had a different name and a Colonel title in front of that Isapriya name ?

  • 3
    1

    All this shows is that the State treated it’s citizens irrespective of ethnicity in the same manner. There was NO discrimination as widely alleged, both within and outside the country. The problems faced by the Sinhala youth were no different from those of the Tamil youth.

    Those who used to grin standing beside the wag who said “stuff happens” after the illegal Iraq invasion are today pointing fingers at all others.

    • 3
      2

      Ramu

      “All this shows is that the State treated it’s citizens irrespective of ethnicity in the same manner.”

      Very skillfully argued, LTTE treated all people irrespective of ethnicity in the same manner.

      What is the difference between LTTE and the State?

  • 1
    2

    This article shows that political violence is no respecter of community. It is foolish to attack each others community but it will be much forceful if the communities join to demand justice. The perpetrators of this violence are the politicians be it sinhalese or Tamils or muslims . If they have had no direct involvement it is through their proxies be it the local thug or more organised LTTE.

    • 0
      0

      The State has the obligation to PROTECT it’s citizens even when the threat arises from within the state. The government of the day took care of the terrorists (Sinhala and Tamil) without prejudice, and will no doubt do so in the future should it be necessary.

      • 2
        1

        Ramu

        “The government of the day took care of the terrorists (Sinhala and Tamil) without prejudice”

        Mostly innocent people (Tamil and Sinhalese) without prejudice.

      • 2
        1

        Ramu

        “The government of the day took care of the terrorists (Sinhala and Tamil) without prejudice”

        Mostly innocent people (Tamil and Sinhalese) without prejudice. Therefore lets have an independent investigation covering the period from 5th April 1971 to date.

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