6 April, 2020

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The UN’s Plan For Making White People Feel Better

By Kath Noble

Kath Noble

Last week I felt like I had been transported back in time. We were back in those awful first six months of 2009, when I was by turns horrified at the plight of the people caught up in the fighting in the Vanni and disgusted with the way in which the international community was responding.

Of course we all wanted to stop the war. I hate violence. But as I argued then and continue to believe, at that point, the only way the war was going to stop was with the defeat of the LTTE. Prabhakaran would not give up on Eelam. He was going to continue his vicious campaign against the Sri Lankan state and all its communities until he was caught or killed. Our task, therefore, was to minimise the damage. We had to try to ensure that it was done with as little death and destruction as possible.

The UN has inadvertently confirmed this hypothesis. In the report of the Internal Review Panel into its actions in Sri Lanka in the final stages of the war, which was released by Ban Ki-Moon last week, it says that it had realised by the end of January that the LTTE was going to lose. And it did the right thing. It worked out a plan for a surrender.

This could have saved a lot of lives.

Some people are very keen to find out how many. The UN count, according to the quite reasonable criteria that they employed in what were very difficult circumstances, is 7,737. I think that even a tiny fraction of that number would have been too many.

The surrender plan was put to the LTTE at the beginning of February, but it was rejected. The LTTE had lost both Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu by then, but Prabhakaran would not relent. He rejected it again in April, even after having lost most of his senior commanders at the Battle of Anandapuram. He was trapped inside the No Fire Zone, but still he would not accept the inevitable.

Some people no doubt consider that heroic. But it was the biggest crime in the history of the conflict.

Prabhakaran wanted a massacre.

His strategy was to create a humanitarian disaster so extraordinary that the international community would feel compelled to intervene. He must have known long before it dawned on the UN that he would not be able to hold out against the Sri Lankan forces. He was no idiot when it came to war.

He wasn’t so stupid when it came to international politics either.

I said at the time that the international community was not going to get involved in Sri Lanka. But many people thought otherwise.

The West had by then established a pattern of ‘humanitarian wars’. It had dropped enough bombs on Serbia in 1999 to make Slobodan Milosevic withdraw from Kosovo. Then in 2001 it had set about trying to wipe out the Taliban in Afghanistan, and in 2003 it had invaded Iraq and finished off Saddam Hussein. The attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan were part of the post-9/11 War on Terror, but they were sold to the Western public as struggles against governments that not only posed a danger to the rest of the world but also suppressed their own people. Those wars were still going on when Prabhakaran was holed up in the No Fire Zone, but they had already achieved regime change. And Kosovo was his dream come true. In 2008, it was declared an independent nation.

Western politicians had other motives for intervening, but they always talked about fighting to save the world from a repeat of Rwanda. Prabhakaran thought that Western forces might be persuaded to come to Sri Lanka too.

For this, somebody somewhere certainly deserves blame.

The UN contributed to the misconception, but the really guilty parties are of course those in the West who started these ‘humanitarian wars’.

It would be comforting to believe that we can always prevent killings if only we try hard enough. Nobody likes to feel powerless. However, in Iraq, Afghanistan and even Kosovo, ‘humanitarian wars’ killed more people than they saved. If Western forces had set foot in Sri Lanka, the result would have been exactly the same.

That is why when I said that the West would not intervene in Sri Lanka, I said it with relief. Rwanda was a very special case.

If the West had not abused the memory of Rwanda so often, Prabhakaran might have chosen a different tactic. He might have abandoned the idea of holding onto territory. Instead of retreating into ever smaller areas of land, dragging with him at gunpoint those 300,000 plus civilians, conscripting more and more of them with every passing day and sending them to the frontlines to die, while compelling the rest to cower in bunkers with too little to eat and limited medial supplies as his cadres fired from among them at the Sri Lankan forces, bringing down on their heads such a devastating rain of bullets and bombs, he might have gone back to the jungles and waged a guerilla war. (Of course, he might still have done exactly the same thing, on the basis that there’s nothing like a massacre to mobilise future generations. He clearly didn’t care as much about human life as the rest of us do.)

The Internal Review Panel report criticises the UN’s Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka for his lack of political understanding in dealing with the Sri Lankan state, but it fails to recognise that it still hasn’t answered the question of how to deal with Prabhakaran. Yet this was the million dollar question!

The UN knew that the LTTE was going to use civilians as a human shield in 2008. The report admits that the LTTE repeatedly tried to use the UN’s presence in Kilinochchi as protection for its activities, positioning its facilities next to UN offices despite agreements to the contrary. It also acknowledges that the UN had to leave behind its 17 national staff when it officially withdrew from the Vanni in September because the LTTE was holding their 86 dependants hostage. In 2008, the UN knew what an impossible situation the Sri Lankan forces were facing.

What could it have done better, then, in 2009?

How about persuading David Miliband and all the other Western politicians who stuck their noses into Sri Lanka that the responsible course of action was to tell Prabhakaran that he had no option but to surrender?

No, that isn’t even mentioned as a possibility.

The ‘master plan’ that the UN’s experts have come up with after six months of work makes exactly the same mistakes the international community did at the time. It ignores the LTTE.

Instead of making it clear to Prabhakaran that he was on his own, which at least might have encouraged him to think again, the Internal Review Panel report proposes that the UN should have increased its pressure on the Sri Lankan forces.

It argues that the UN should have publicised the casualty figures that it was gathering via sms and highlighted its belief that most of the deaths were occurring in shelling by the Sri Lankan forces. It says that the UN should have been more forceful in warning the Sri Lankan state against committing war crimes. This would have saved lives, the report claims. But how? No doubt people like Gordon Weiss would have felt better if they had done so. But what would it actually have changed? At the beginning of February, the UN was sure that about 1,000 civilians had been killed in a period of three weeks. This had increased by a little more than 1,500 in another four weeks to the beginning of March.

By this stage, as we surely all remember, there was already tremendous pressure on the Sri Lankan forces. The LTTE’s propaganda machine had its genocide bumper stickers out, and it was stage managing protests around the Western world.

In the next six weeks to late April, the UN’s body count had gone up by another 5,000.

Of course I agree that this is appalling. But stopping people getting killed is not just a matter of being very upset about it.

Pressure is only a good thing if it is pushing in the right direction. What the international community did was to give the Sri Lankan forces every reason to think that the West was about to try to stop them ending a generation long conflict. I simply don’t see how intensifying this effort could possibly have encouraged them to adopt a more careful approach. Logically, it could only have made them think that they had better hurry up and find Prabhakaran before he could be offered yet another chance to escape.

If we have to relive those miserable days, let us at least come up with some genuinely useful insights.

*Kath Noble’s column may be accessed online at http://kathnoble.wordpress.com. She may be contacted at kathnoble99@gmail.com.

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    This is more like the Kath Noble we knew of the past . Well said and congratulations. A brilliant article . It takes intellegience and logic to be able to reason out facts .

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    The death of VP was marketed by the MR Govt. long, long before this incident of the massacre took place which announced the end of the War in May 2009. Then what is this writer speaking of VP’s intransigency? Why VP got all the LTTE weaponry buried, without using them and presenting the War to MR, indicates that there was another plan known by the Americans and the Indians where they together assured VP a way out. When one looks back why VP helped MR to become the President is obviously with some kind alternate arrangement plan. The only thing is that VP did not know was that he and his LTTE cadre, were to be annihilated in the end. This Human Shields are all facades to cover the plot. Did not the majority, if not all except the ones who were massacred freed themselves?

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    Therefore is it any wonder the powers that be wanted this War without witnesses and allowed MR to close the doors even to the UN and the funny part is VP even did not resist? Such was the trust VP had, as the assurances came from the most powerful that helped VP to carry this war for the thirty years? So can one blame VP not to have trusted them? This writer is doing overtime to damage control lest the real culprits get exposed.

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      When the Ox crosses the Ford it becomes Oxford.

      Oxford Nehru had the Aryan Dravidian jinx, like Oxford SWRD Bandaranayke had the Sinhala Tamil to hang on to power.

      Now we have Kate who has shelled out bait after Dayan made a comment a week ago of how great she was working for Rajiva at the UN sessions and that they are missing her.In her own words she is very political more than anything else. A politician is one who speaks the truth and sandwiches them with lies.Bernard Shaw and he also says that woman is gods second mistake. Lets not make any mistake of judgement for now as she is still a student.

      Looks like Kate is turning out to be like Ashton the face of a caravan site lets wait for the centre piece/face in the next article to fill the Picasso face to complete the piece of art ;)

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    May be the writer herself feels that many would be interested in her articles if she would change her style of writing to this manner. I have also read articles written by her that were totally opposite views :((

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      Kumudini:
      Considering it takes “intelligence and logic to reason out facts” that’s something you, obviously, will never be able to do. I hope you didn’t throw away the rock from under which you obviously crawled to sing the hosannas to your Lord and his minions (like Kath Noble) because you REALLY should get back under it!

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        Anti Boru . Good on you if you can do that . I wonder what it takes to do what you say !!

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      Right on target!

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    Your one before the last article was the north and now it’s the south very Freudian let’s see the hidden middle face where the truth lies.

    1. Experts- “quite reasonable criteria that they employed in what were very difficult circumstances, is 7,737”.
    Ex is a “has been” with a spurt in the mud. You know even kids can count and Zero comes from the Tamils while most of us know the meaning of factor of safety and don’t consider ourselves as experts.
    2. “How about persuading David Miliband (June 2007 –May 2010) and all the other Western politicians who stuck their noses into Sri Lanka?”
    You are aware that David was a Blairite he was new to a position and that the government was going to collapse soon. How could this man have convinced the seasoned operators American, Norwegian and Indian Raul to stop? Now that you are in the loud mouth pseudo city New Delhi (that’s what Indians living there call it) please try to find out who and why they assassinated the former President Premadasa from Chanakyapuri. You could also ask Bradman Weerakoon who was his secretary and his daughter is still an ambassador. Premadasa who was born in the slums of Colombo was felicitated by her majesty. This could give you a clue to the beginning of the end game.
    3. The West had by then established a pattern of ‘humanitarian wars’. “And Kosovo was his dream comes true. In 2008, it was declared an independent nation.”
    Any kid who has read comics pertaining to the last 2 great European wars widely called WW1 & WW11 are aware that it all started in the Balkan Valley. The EU was envisaged to stop that from happening again therefore we have free travel throughout. The rest like single currency is applied ornamentation. Unfortunately, the US/UK is misusing the concept- The then Gravy Train President Jose Maria Aznar was promised The Rock and Marshall of Texas (Spanish name) by Shrub and bLair and all that the folk of Madrid was a big bomb at Madrid. The Spaniards still laugh at this stiff collared Franquista.

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    “The UN’s Plan For Making White People Feel Better” is the title of the writer’s article. Yet, she does not make any direct references to this ‘concept’. Some readers more familiar with her articles over time, have expressed incredulity about her credentials, agendas and motivations. I am not surprised.

    “Of course we all wanted to stop the war. I hate violence…” I would like to ask who this “we” refers to. The US/UK military murdered two million innocent Iraqis between 2003 and 2010 after invading and occupying that country on false pretexts, blatant lies, deception, double standards and duplicity that now seem unprecendented, even after Hiroshima/Nagasaki and Vietnam/Cambodia/Laos.

    Despite the apparent fairness in some of her present assertions, I cannot trust her to be sincere.

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      Lasantha Pethiyagoda:
      You are right on the money: this woman is totally intellectually dishonest and that dishonesty is patently obvious when one reads what she has to say. While she might come across, initially, as a journalistic chameleon, the evil is more deep-rooted than her prose suggests!

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      Her article “Making White People Feel Better” is expected because she is a student of Jawaharlal Nehru University.
      Kashmiri Brahmin Jawaharlal Nehru had a major problem with colour and race not really religion and you would see that in his letters to his daughter Indira whilst he was in jail. He says we must get the south where the “coloured folk” live and the island beyond that which was Ceylon- most educated Indians living in the north are aware of it.

      Indira was very different once she grew up so she married a parse like Jinnah did to solve the border dispute but it was too late.

      Meanwhile just for the record when her heir to be Sanjay died in the air accident while flying low at Delhi she simply came over picked up the bunch of keys tucked it in the waist of her sari “did not shed a tear” and walked away to become the greatest hero of all time- objective “I” am “I”.

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    It takes Kath Noble to finally shred the UN’s ridiculous report. Why did the UN report omit these critical truths?
    • That VP rejected all offers of surrender, including through the UN
    • That the pressure on GoSL was not matched by a similar pressure on VP and his followers in the West.

    And what have the peons in the Foreign Ministry doing since this report was published? Practising their English or planning their shopping in Geneva?

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    A well argued piece of writing by Kath Noble. Towards the end it seemed that VP was running out of options but he always had a plan. Finally, when it was all looking hopeless, the best fighters dead, defections from within the ranks, ammunition stocks and morale running low He had but two options. Fight to the end or surrender and save his own skin (after having sacrificed hundreds of his people). Not surprisingly, he chose the latter it seems, with 60 other top ranking LTTEers. A vanguard of fighters had earlier broken through the SLA defences and were launching diversionary attacks in the Buttala area. I think the plan was pretty obvious. To launch a Beslan style attack on a soft target. To take a school or hospital hostage, or kidnap some kids of Political or Army big wigs and to hold them to ransom against the release of the 60 senior LTTEers (perhaps to a 3rd country) from where they could relaunch the struggle. Ofcourse Gota was not taking any chances and what transpired can be seen vividly in the CH 4 videos. I never doubted their authenticity. It happened in Vietnam, Korea, Kenya, Iraq and Afghanistan and our soldiers are no more saintly than British, American ones.
    Technically, it is a war crime. But as we all know these things are prosecuted very selectively by the UN and those who own the UN. Thankfully there are Russia and China to counterbalance. The only two super powers not to have bombed another nation since the 80’s.

    For David Miliband, Sri Lanka’s war was someone else’s war. He was only thinking of votes back in the UK. If the LTTE had won and ethnically cleansed the N&E it wouldnt have bothered him one jot as only the Sinhalese and Moslems would have had to contend a country that was suddenly 3 times as overcrowded. He therefore chose to call for a ceasefire to placate the demonstrators outside parliament and issue ultimatums to Sri Lanka. After warning the Sri Lankan government about using too much force he stopped by Pakistan on his way home and warned the Pak govt that they should in fact use MORE force against the Pakistani Taliban (enemies of the UK) which the Pak army was struggling to contain in the Swat Valley.

    Having ignored a 2 million strong demonstration in Hyde Park against the bombing of Iraq, he embraced the demands of the 50,000 strong demonstrators at Westminster like a crusade, maintaining that the Sri Lankan war should be ended on Prabakaran’s terms rather than in a surrender of VP to save the lives of his women and children.

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    I wonder why white people adopted a ‘let us know when it’s over’ attitude?. The Tamil Diaspora is certainly much bigger, more vocal and perhaps more focused than any other Diaspora’s affected by conflict. Tamil activists in the thousands were camped outside the house of commons at Westminster, immolating themselves in Geneva, shutting down highways on mothers day in Canada. So why didn’t they care? I think;

    (1)The Tamil Diaspora presents them with an impossible Dilemma. The regional superpower India wants to be the arbiter vis-a-vis the ethnic conflict in SL. India wanted the LTTE taken out at any cost, western nations have to grin and bear it regardless of tens of thousands of voters protesting. Just like Tibetan protesters.

    (2) Just as the line, between tiger and civilian during the last stages of the conflict, was blurred. The line between regular Diaspora Tamils and Tamil tiger activists were blurred. Politician in the west were not sure if these were genuine or orchestrated. In either instance they were powerless against dictates of India.

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    (3)The 900 pound Gorilla in the room is India. The tragedy at Mullaivaikkal is the worst manifestation of India’s mishandling of its interventions in SL. From arming militant groups to covering up the massacre in the last stages. The UN has no choice but to follow the dicatates of the western bloc of the security council. That western block has decided to follow India’s lead in south Asia.

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      The white politicians took a different line from the ordinary white voter. I couldn’t believe their stupidity in displaying acres of LTTE flags in their demos, allowing most white voters to dismiss them as another bunch of annoying immigrants (“credit card scammers, gangs and drugs”) importing the quarrels of their native country and openly displaying the paraphernalia of a banned terror group.

      India had no choice but to allow the LTTE to be crushed, despite VP’s failed strategy of pushing civilians in front to prevent a final assault. I don’t blame India for arming and supporting a nascent LTTE. After Black July, JR’s machinations with the US, Trinco being used against Indian interests etc, India was letting SL know that it could be punished.

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        Absolutely the overseas tigers sullied the name of the Tamil diaspora. Not entirely, but extremists tend to be the most vocal and noticed.

        Yankee Dickey did more to foster militancy and provoke India than anyone else. Yet of all options available, history has shown that, India took the worst.

        Arming frustrated Tamil youth to cause violence but not committing to Ealam. They played both sides for suckers. The were duplicitous with Tamil militants and the GOSL alike. The result of this duplicitous behaviour was visible on the banks of the Nandikaddal. As the most populous nation with largest economy and regional leader the course that they followed was for lack of a better word “thradda”.

        Getting back to Kath Noble. The UN security council calls the shots in the UN. Has been so since WW2. A nod from them precedes all interventions. China and Russia were solidly behind the GOSL. The other 3 looked to India’s lead in the final stages.

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    A rational piece of writing.

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    This provides a detailed-look into the final days of the conflict. By then, the ltte diaspora had effectively bought Milliband with ‘campaign donations’ and promised votes:and all he wanted was for Prabhakaran to escape. Sri Lanka did not bow-down to these hypocrites’ efforts to stop the war, which would have meant another period for the terrorists to re-arm and regroup. Hence this current harassment of Sri Lanka by the West, to avenge the rejection.

    The US and NATO handle the ‘human shields’ in Afganistan and Pakistan by attacking with unmanned-drones, killing many innocents in the process. The UN is silent. They killed 1 million children and innocents in three weeks in Iraq: this, the UN approved. Banki Moon and the UN is are puppets to their Western masters, and you are spot on with your title.

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      What really scared the pants off the Labour Party was an event during the European Elections of June 2009. In late 2008 and early 2009, before the defeat of Tigers, Tamil apologists for the Tigers had been threatening to stand their own candidates in both the upcoming European and the UK parliamentary elections unless the British Labour Party intervened to prevent the defeat of the Tigers. This threatened the precarious state of the Labour Party as most Tamils traditionally voted Labour and Labour popularity had plummeted under the leadership of the manic Gordon Brown.

      As others have pointed out, David Miliban’s visit to Sri Lanka at the end of April 2009 had far more to do with appeasing Tamil separatist suppoeters in key London constituencies than with sympathy for the casualties of the war. As we know, Miliband failed in his attempt to force the Sri Lankan government to give in to Tamil Tigers’ tactics which were centred on using Tamil civilians as a human shield to try to save the lives of the Tiger leadership.

      In response to Miliband’s failure in Sri Lanka Tamil separatists in London then put up their own candidate in the London region in the election for the European parliament in early June 2009 after the decisive defeat of the Tigers in May. That candidate, Jan Jananayagam, obtained just over 50,000 votes in London, and added to the panic in the British Labour Party facing defeat in the UK general election in 2010. To prevent Tamils putting up candidates in the the UK general election it was agreed by Labour that they would pursue what seemed to be an aggressive policy against the Sri Lankan government for war crimes and would use their friends in Channel 4 to assist them.

      Of course the whole thing was a sham (Britain had too much to lose if any sort of investigation into war crimes took place), but British Tamils fell for it and agreed to refrain from putting up their own candidates in the 2010 UK general election.

      Well Labour still lost power in the UK 2010 general election and the rest, as they say, is history.

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    Kath Noble’s arguments are definitely the order of compliancy-“ist” & pacifist par excellence; on bending over-backward for peace at any cost; even ardent illiberal peace; true fanatical piety and passion against any form of noncompliance to status quo legitimacy; ready-made arguments to finger-point forward, backward in the firm resolve of piety towards the vision of the black and white (…not the grey). Strictly black and white, very easy and soft for the heart; requiring no intellectual vigour; nor the antipathy of compliance, independence; for a naive simplicity of vision; to give definiteness and constraint; to give an easy meaning. Backward, to foist such a simple explanation, to ease an archaic conscience (of the black and white).

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    Kath nobles articles are a breath of fresh air. They are a brilliant alternative to other regurgitations elsewhere in cyberspace

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    >”still hasn’t answered the question of how to deal with Prabhakaran. Yet this was the million dollar question!”<

    As for me, a Sri Lankan who suffered for 30 long years with the manic prabakaran's bloodthirst, it is a zillion dollar question. Why or why don't they stop calling the LTTE terrorists, rebels, and start acknowledging the fact that the LTTE was the most brutal terror group in the world. Only those who lived in SL during those terror filled 30 years can really understand the need to finish off that manic ba—-d, once and for all? If madman prabakaran had been allowed to go free, he would still be at it, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans. Don't get me wrong, the horror of humans getting killed in the war is nothing to be happy about, but, it was prabakaran who placed those people in that disastrous situation. He was such a cruel manipulator, human life was nothing to him, a Hitler reborn indeed.
    The hypocrisy of these Western leaders are mind boggling. Unfortunately, they don't pay for their hypocrisy, the young men and women of their countries do, in battles in far away lands.

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      Dosthora Nona Madam,

      It should also be mentioned that with the LTTE’s destruction, in addition to civilians in the South no longer having to endure LTTE bus and train bombs, Tamil civilians in the North & East are no longer at risk of being killed by SLA artillery, airstrikes and small arms fire (“collateral damage”) or being used as cover for LTTE attacks. Everyone gains, except for the retarded Eelamists.

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    prabhakaran was a good man. he wanted tamil people to regain their country which was lost to sinhala people. i can’t see anything wrong with that believe. north and east belong to tamil people. sinhala people have no right to annex the land which is not rightfully theirs.
    who is this Kathy. what does she know about the ethnic conflict between tamil people and sinhala people. prabhakaran didn’t go to war for the fun of it, he in fact had desires, ideals, goals and principles. he invested his time and energy to achieve the desired goal, a country called eelam. i don’t blame him for killing sinhala bikkus or sinhala people at all. he did the right thing. you can see now what’s happening after his death. northeast is occupied by an unwanted army. northeast has to accommodate an unwanted and undesirable religion. northeast has to agree unwillingly for sinhala people to become their neighbours. northeast people have been told how to run their affairs by sinhala government and sinhala army. i suppose kathy noble subscribe to the above. what’s this whiteman talk by her.
    she must be walking about with a chip on her shoulder to make a reference like that.

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    Balloons for me ;)
    Don’t know much about journalism,
    Don’t know much about giving,
    Don’t know much about algebra,

    Que se aproxime al valor??

    NOtABLE created 206 articles…. WHO THE HELL ;) WOULD BUY 108 articles leave alone reading.
    It’s our freedom not to read demagogues.

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    It is being said that Petrie read the book “The Cage” before he wrote his “report”. No wonder the “report” is more apt for a Hollywood movie than for factual enlightenment.

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    I have ambivalent feelings:very well said about the LTTE. Good analysis, I agree, but for some reason the whole argument is flawed.
    The LTTE shares a huge chunk of responsibility with the government, maybe even more. And we agree that it was a criminal organization. Fair enough.
    But aren’t your forgetting the role of the Sri Lankan state? They bombed indiscriminately areas with more than 300 000 people! Sure the Tigers were firing from hospitals and the like. Yet it is criminal the offensive moved by the Sri Lanka army. And while the LTTE was banned, the Sri Lankan government is part of the international community.
    Prabhakaran was a criminal? So president Rajapaksa and his brother.

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