Views From The Diaspora: Meena Serendib

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Meena Serendib is a filmmaker, actress, dancer, and spoken word poet-born in the UK and raised in Northern California. Meena talks to YaTv ‘Connections’ about her visits to Sri Lanka and her work particularly in relation to the Sri Lankan experience and situation.

Connections | September 17, 2012
http://connections.youngasia.tv

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23 Responses to Views From The Diaspora: Meena Serendib

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    The word “serendib” is a the Arab version of Sinhala Deep.Why did you chose thisxas your pseudonym?

    CINCINATTUS
    September 23, 2012 at 2:19 pm
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      do we have time to look at the name? pl look at the contents.

      eureka
      September 24, 2012 at 10:42 am
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      Serandib is not an Arabised version of Sinhala island. Deep is derived from Theevu Or Deevu, the word for island in Tamil It has a definite Tamil origin, just like the vast majority of those who have now carved a distinct ‘Sinhala’ Ethnicity for themselves.

      AKP
      October 25, 2012 at 11:51 am
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    Glad young people like Meena whose Grand Father was brutally murdered in May 1958 by Sinhala racist-chauvinist terrorist are finally speaking up. She is knowledgeable of the Tamil ground situation but not too much of the diaspora, which she rightly pointed out is very diverse.. But she needs to come into the mainstream of the Tamil diaspora when she will really understand the “Game Plan”. But the diaspora has “too many chiefs and very few Indians” The Sinhala LIARS foolishly attempt to hoodwink the international community and India that building roads, railways, military airport/port is development. New roads are all for connecting the 100 odd military camps and their oversize vehicles to travel fast, Sinhala buses to bring tens of thousands of Looky Loo Sinhala visitors and relatives/friends of over 100,000 Soldiers based in the North. They also have to go back, and soldiers need to be replaced and travel home on leave/holidays. So there is a huge traffic including various supplies for the military and the construction of new camps and brand new houses for the military. Meanwhile, 500,000 Tamils who just 4 years ago had nice homes and household goods are homeless, and even their land are being regularly stolen. The beaches are occupied by the Navy and Sinhala fisherman from the West and South… USG makes a big song and dance presenting 10 fishing boats in 4 years (10 years after the Tsunami and the War)… Devananda and military decide who gets the boats as well as Daya and George master who have joined the govt. from the LTTE and KP from the LTTE/TGTE -Founder. When people have lost their land, homes, cattle, fishing boats and vehicles the new roads and railways, airport and ports are not the priority…. Homes, and their right to live in their own land land with pride and dignity is their priority.. These interviews by YA TV is rather misleading talking about reconciliation and development both of which are simply non existent…

    Donald J Gnanakone
    September 23, 2012 at 10:08 pm
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      Tell us, Donald, Learned Sage, what exactly is ” the mainstream of the Tamil diaspora’? And this top secret “Game Plan” must be very exciting. Does it involve getting more donations to pursue MR & GoSL through various international courts, increasing Bruce Fein’s bank account? :) :) This comment from an Indian blog predicts the future for the Eelam-obssesed diaspora. Eternal frustration. “It is mainly the elderly and ageing zeroes of the expat Eelam crowd who’re frantically trying to keep alive the flame. The vast majority of kids of the Tamil expats don’t care two hoots about Eelam and speak a new mother tongue, that of the state in which they reside. Most speak only a smattering of Tamil. As they integrate further into Western society, the dream of Eelam will further fade as it doing so even in Jaffna…” Do you honestly believe that the third generation pro-Eelam youth will leave the West to endure a life without air-conditioning in Sri Lanka?

      Mango
      September 24, 2012 at 1:07 am
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        Mango pl listen to what Meena says and pass it on to the Sinhala youth. AND to their parents.

        eureka
        September 24, 2012 at 10:45 am
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          Actually Eureka I agree with a lot of what Meena says – especially about the reasons for the insurgency etc. Extremists expats on both sides only inflame the situation. e.g. Donald’s posturing.

          Mango
          September 24, 2012 at 11:06 am
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        ”Do you honestly believe that the third generation pro-Eelam youth will leave the West to endure a life without air-conditioning in Sri Lanka?” What they are leaving behind is not the question. What they are leaving for is: ‘’Military density in the North of Sri Lanka in ”peace time” is much higher than the peak conflict time in Iraq, Northern Ireland, Kashmir or French occupation of Algeria’’ – Notes on the Military Presence in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, Vol XLVII No 28, 14 July 2012, http://epw.epw.in/epw/uploads/articles/17622.pdf ”But that truth cannot excuse human rights violations that currently afflict the nation as a whole; or for that matter obscure the looming threat of the cultural and political colonisation of the north by the Sinhala Buddhist majority” - Biased and Prejudiced Collection on Sri Lanka, *Gananath Obeyesekere, Economic & Political Weekly, VOL 47 No. 04, 28 January-03 February 2012 (*a Sinhalese Buddhist and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University), http://www.scribd.com/doc/82525102/Biased-and-Prejudiced-Collection-on-Sri-Lanka

        eureka
        September 24, 2012 at 10:50 am
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          Not only Tamils, but Sinhalese and other ‘ethnicities’ are leaving (legally and illegally) for a whole range of reasons including escaping political corruption, lack of rule of law, poor economic outlook etc. http://tinyurl.com/9xhbc5f

          Mango
          September 24, 2012 at 11:13 am
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    Meena points out how the Tamils were pushed into the 1976 resolution. But some Sri Lankans have been asking if what has been happening in the last 40 months alone is not enough to yearn for separation by those who have never yearned for it.

    eureka
    September 24, 2012 at 11:01 am
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      @Eureka -Totally agree with what you have said. This fellow Mango simply does not understand a damn thing. @Mango… Re read what I have written. I do not mention a single word about separation or Eelam. I am happy to GO FOR ELLAM… Eelam is a smaller market as well as there is a severe shortage of labor and housemaids. If you check what is going on in the North, Sinhalese contractors building roads and other buildings are forced to bring Sinhalese women to work on the roads and buildings. Other labor like carpenters and masons are also Sinhala-Buddhist from the South. There are thousands of traders and furniture salesman going from house to house and setting up pavement stalls are all Sinhalese. The Jaffna market also holds many Sinhalese and Tamils are speaking perfect Sinhalese shouting “Labai, Labai” catering to the thousands of Sinhalese tourist.. Similarly, Fort, Pettah, Slave Island, Maradana, Kotahena, and Wellawatte are dominated by the Tamil traders and most of them speaking Sinhalese very well. Cities like Hatton, Nuwara Eliya, Badulla, and Kandy there are plenty of Tamils including Muralidharan’s father having a biscuit factory.. The 282 Publicly listed companies in the CSE there is a heavy leaning and share of Tamils. For your bloody information, when I did business in Sri Lanka until 1983 the main company was Majullah Agencies, and the MD for over 10 years were 2 Sinhalese. I did not care a F…..k about a name 30-40 years ago. The Port and shipping ministry was also blissfully freaking happy that some Muslims were in shipping, transport, construction and CFS business. Donkeys.. However, if there are race riots, like in 1958, 1977, 1983 and this military oppression, suppression, and repression continues with 100,000 Sinhala soldiers terrorizing the Tamils in the North, the worm will turn again.. It won’t be teenagers both boys and girls hiding bushes and shooting or throwing grenades bare footed. Wars can be fought with high tech sophistication and non violently. ANC in South Africa forced the whites to give up power. Tamils only want to DEVELOP the North and East with the Tamil speaking Muslims and the colonist from 1948 who are Sinhalese. There is no animosity towards the Sinhalese except the racist rapist and torturers who happened to be the young soldiers, although some of them are used to clean the roads, public lavatories, operated barber shops, cafes, construction sites, and clear land mines etc Also remember there are 1 Million Tamils in the diaspora, another 2 million other Tamils and 70 million Tamils in India who are very much interested in the welfare of the Tamils in the NE province…. No name has been yet given for that province and there the Tamils demand their self respect, dignity to live proudly. there is 2 Billion inward remittances for the Tamils from the Tamils and foreign NGO’s and governments are ready, willing and able to provide a multitude of assistance… The Grand Plan and Game Plan, cannot be discussed. Go F…… yourselves… We are after the War Criminals for ever. And the HR violators… Thank You….

      Donald Gnanakone
      September 25, 2012 at 7:11 am
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        Gnanakone, When separatist Tamils with wonky mindsets like you disseminate lies and plan for their pet project – Eelam – by poking their noses from afar, I doubt very much ordinary Tamils could ever be at peace in Sri Lanka. Get it right; 70 million Tamils have no country in not our concern. Our endevour is to keep this country as one just like for 2500 years. True, skilled labour is in very short supply in the North, especially to get a quality job done in any field. I know that for even the pusri of Hindu kovil in Dehiwala had to fetch some Sinhala basses to refurbish his dilapidated house in the North. Why? All able bodied men and women were either trained as suicide bombers, sentries or kept as cannon fodder etc by your ‘sun goat’ or egotistic people like you have shipped them illegally by boatloads to the so-called greener pastures but in reality and mostly to clean toilets of the white man. So don’t you ever think we suffer from Alzheimer disease? What you racists Tamils dream for is a homogeneous Tamil land. Your saying “only want to DEVELOP the North and East with the Tamil speaking Muslims ….” is a crap. How could that be true when your popularly elected TNA leadership acted as the proxy for the sungoat and declared him as the sole representative of Tamils that chased away the few Muslims and Sinhalas in the North in just 24 hours. You keep your road-map where ever you are, we’ll implement ours here. Leela

        Leela
        September 28, 2012 at 12:32 am
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    It is very encouraging to listen to Meena. It is the Successive Sinhala governments that had faultered by not building a nation but bent on dismantaling. Even the good relationship that was built between various ethnic groups during the British colonial period has come to nothing. A beutiful country just ruined by the mythological Mind set of the majority. I too yean; when will there be an understanding between these two major races for establishing peace with equality and dignity. Dear comment writers please stop this hatred and spilling poison.Please learn to ‘Love thy neighbour’ and follow the true teaching of Buddhism. Stop being radicals become rationalists by using your sixth sense which only the humans have been gifted.

    Easwaran
    September 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm
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    Meena seems to have good intentions, though she seems to be very unfamiliar with the nature of the diaspora. As Donald has stated, she is clearly unfamiliar with the ‘Game Plan’ which is not really about peace and unity (which Meena is after) rather the use of ideas such as human rights and freedoms to continue a bloody battle in Sri Lanka while the diaspora continue to live it up in the west. What we need is a Sri Lankan Spring; not a Sinhala Spring! We need all youth of Sri Lanka to stand up for their rights, and take ownership of their land, lives and futures. They must stand up against the corrupt politicians and the various diaspora populations across the world,who have a vested interest in keeping Sri Lanka divided and in conflict. Sri Lankans should say enough is enough!

    Navin Weeraratne
    September 25, 2012 at 3:25 am
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    Meena looks like beginning of another movement lead by young generation, willing to understand the situation better than the previous. Their biggest asset is the ability to connect eachother and express their views in a civilised way. They are more balanced and try to enjoy the present, please listen to them.

    Merril
    September 25, 2012 at 1:53 pm
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    see what happen to people of north and east Tamil and also like mix personals .

    randeera
    September 26, 2012 at 7:46 am
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    we need more of meena having said that I don’t know how we can succeed in reconciliation,when Sinhalese are frightened of Tamils,always ltte as excuse, Tamils suspicion of Muslims, muslims frightened of Buddhist, buddhist suspicion of Christians can we come over this with the current lot occupying the parliament above all how trust this so called diaspora when we had J.P. And days master

    yohes
    September 29, 2012 at 6:33 am
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    The YA TV site -upto now – has had decent and decorous language. Please let it not descend to the pits. There really is no need to use vituperative language and name-calling. Does YA TV not moderate the site? You will ruin its reputation, particularly that of Connections into which Jovita and her Tamil and Sinhala colleagues have put in a lot of hard work.

    InSights
    October 11, 2012 at 6:30 am
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    My apologies, I mistook this for YA TV Connections. My apologies for the comments to the moderator of YA TV.

    InSights
    October 11, 2012 at 6:34 am
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    Thanks to Meena for speaking up, I am sure we are seeing the much edited version telecasted! Ofcourse, anybody raises questions on diaspora’s integrity will have a space on the media and also will get a spot in Colombo telegraph! Next target is to spread doubts on diaspora to dilute and distract all efforts by the diaspora to bring justice to those slaughtered. Harmony will never prevail without honest respect and well wishing in heart and educating the youth to practise that and at the same time build confidence in the public protection and equal treatment on protection of lives and properties without descrimination. This initiative needs to come from those who have power to change the governing heads. Everybody wants peace of course, allow others to breath the same as well. Right now as I write this, Tamizh lands are being grabbed by all means, in the name of economic developments in the north east, new markets where south people are only allowed to open shops (Ask sources in Jaffna), through new laws now forcing overseas residents to sell lands and so on. While these distractions are being sprayed upon the international community, all will be over. Don’t waste time criticizing diaspora and the others, anybody is welcome to voice actual concern on their own and portray the real ground situation in Thamizh land right now. Work with the sweet talking Shanthi Mami and her relatives about how to share the breeze that doesn’t stink with 40, 000 Thamizh children and injured women and men’s blood that is still afresh in Mullaitivu and Mullivaikkaal. The agenda is very clear. It is a Sinhalese nation for the Sinhala and for those practicing Buddhism! Others are welsome to live by. This is the philosophy of the Government and the majority (The masterminds-The Bhuddist Clergies)! Everything is done based on this and anything will be done to those who are against this philosophy. True acceptance of euql ownership and respect and put that into practise!

    Selvi
    October 12, 2012 at 11:44 am
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    I am so tired of people who don’t live in SL, who have never lived there and who use their status as a platform to project ideas, thoughts, advice, accusations, vituperation, etc. at those of us who have been born and bred there, who have endured the wrath of the terrorist Tigers, who have put up with all that our little nation has thrown at us, whether it has been good or bad. People like me are the people who can effect changes because we wield what is called the ballot. Tamils have never tried to be a real part of our country and those few who do, are lost in the ugliness that the majority of the Tamil diaspora represents. ALL Tamils, just like the rest of us, benefited from this nation – in the field of education, health, public service, etc. What the Tamils want is exclusivity. That they will never get, where ever they live. They need to rethink their position in SL where it has been always possible be ‘as one’ with every one else living in SL. The rich Tamils enjoy prime positions both in the private and poultice domains. There is NO difference between the poor in SL, whether they are Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim or Burgher. They have the same aspirations and the same complaints which are mostly economic. Therefore it is unfair to keep blowing the horn of discrimination. By being poor alone, the people of SL are discriminated in every sphere. That is a fact and not exclusive to the Tamils. It is time we got off this nonsensical bandwagon and united to build a strong nation. We can, with or without the Tamils. If they want to join the rest of us, they are welcome but let them lay down their constant wringing and whining, stop their cries for self-determination, stop their hard luck stories and work at being PART of our nation. They are NOT Indian. Stop crying to Tamil Nadu. The Chola invasions that brought them to SL are over. Take a leaf out of the Malaysian book. The Tamils in Malaysia who comprise 10% or so of that population, about the same as the percentage of SL Tamils, have much to gripe about but they are proud to be Malaysian and when Karunanidhi wanted to intervene on their behalf, they told him to back off, that their problems had to thing to do with India. Hats off to them! We have no Bhumiputra movement. We have no ethnic movement. We have the means to make ourselves in to a great nation. Come back from where ever you are in your comfortable, centrally heated homes and see what o can do for your people by all means but stop telling lies and drop the bullshit. SL is not a cake to be divided at will. Let’s learn to enjoy it together.

    Neloufer
    October 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm
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    A CYNICAL SOLUTION Eelam is a demand for a separate TERRITORY. The fair way to determine a territorial right is to base it on population. The population of Sri Lankan Tamils in the Northern Province according to 2011 enumeration is 934,392. This is less than 5 percent of the total population of Sri Lanka. Therefore the Eelam Tamils of the North should be on an equity basis entitled to not less than 5 percent of the 65,610 km2 of the country, which is not less than 3280 km2. Out of the 8,884 km2 of the Northern Province the Jaffna District consists of 1025 km2 and Mullaitivu of an area of 2617 Km2 which add up to a total of 3642km2, which is more than the entitlement of 3280 km2.The two Districts are adjacent and are homogeneous in the ethnic composition. The PARTITION is conditional on the Tamil population of the other Northern Districts of Vavunia, Kilinochchi and Mannar moving into the Eelam territory of Jaffna and Mullaitivu. If the total population of Sri Lankan Tamils which is 11.2 of the population opts to migrate to Eelam they would be entitled to 7348 km2 of the land area. In anticipation of some of the Tamil Diaspora returning to Eelam the territory can be expanded to cover the total area of the Northern Province i.e. 8884 km2.

    Vichara
    October 24, 2012 at 3:32 am
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    Excellent and thoughtful start Meena! Many may not agree but the realty of this island may welcome your attempt as the generations suffered with unnecessary political agendas. The political agendas wouldn’t be limited to Tamil and Sinhalese politicos, but it go beyond to the international powers including neighboring countries. This is common in today’s world due to economic and political reasons. If you study most of the ethnic issues around the world many are used by regional or world powers for their sake. Finally millions are lost their lives. It is our duty to understand and get-together to solve our burning issues like recognizing the identity of other communities and respect each other. Tamils, Muslims and other communities must recognized and respected by Sinhalese majority. With out that this problem can not be healed by any other out side powers, they definitely misused the opportunity while poor S L peoples are suffering from anger, hatred and variety of social problems. People who can do something must draw their attention to reconcile through changing the mindset of common people. That would dilute the escalating military forces in north east. We must not forget, S L has the 9th largest population density in the globe, solving social problems in such a country is very difficult. But with the present peaceful situation if all political social and religious leaders make their good efforts the island community can live peacefully for longer time. Meenas thoughtful effort should be welcome by diaspora identifying the complexity of the issue. As she is screaming we are from Jaffna, Kandy, Colombo, Baticaloa, Putlam etc. It is very true. The nature of spreading the communities in this island is in such a way and it may be unrealistic to consider slogans like self determination. AS a political demand it is simple, but the creation of the mindset could draw the peaceful community to disastrous war. Therefore, thinking out of the box is very important at this juncture. The Sinhalese majority has a huge responsibility in this concern. Present political leaders are facing a huge challenge in this regard. Tamil political leaders also must think in creative ways, not in the routine pattern. They must settle it within not begging the help from international powers. Diaspora ! please discuss with Sinhalese intellectuals spread-ed around the world and try to settle our problem, thinking beyond the so called SERENDIB !

    Don AG
    November 19, 2012 at 12:36 am
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