Monday, May 25, 2009

To the Diaspora..

Disclaimer: Throughout this article who I refer to as members of Diaspora are the minority of extremists amongst them. I fully understand that there are moderate, equal minded people and I don't wish to offend them at all! 


I came across this comment made by an individual on the 23rd April 2009 dated article of the Economist titled 'Sri Lanka's war: To the bitter end'.

Muttiah wrote:

May 6, 2009 16:00

Dear Author,
Tamils are convinced already that the war against the Tigers is on behalf of all Sri Lankans, including Tamils.

However, reading some comments here substantiates how LTTE disappointed their global network of propagandists, financial donors who fuelled this misery, and specially those who funded this war with selfish expectations for major favours in their future Eelam.
Those who are fabricating stories and twisting the truth, should see for themselves, these safe heavens created for our very own brothers and sisters who have crossed the line with hope.
Despite their own financial problems, knowing that there is quite a number of ex-LTTE cadres who surrendered, Sri-Lankan civilians, mostly Sinhalese who have been the target of LTTE terrorism, keep collecting contributions for the Tamil refugees in North. But what have the expatriate pro-LTTE Tamils done for their own community?

My dear brothers,
We Tamils need to realize the truth that Eelam was just a mirage and that LTTE was the most horrible thing that ever happened to us. If you are enjoying a comfy life in west you will never realize, but if you come to Sri-Lanka and visit the IDP camps you will comprehend what our own Tamils in North & East went through with your treasured freedom fighters.
We dont need an Eelam. We are Tamils in Sri-Lanka, where great Tamils like Murali, Lakshman Kadiragamar and Dr.Neelan Thiruchelvam were born.


I'm not Tamil, I'm Sinhalese. I'm not Hindu, I am Buddhist. I'm not living abroad, I live in Sri Lanka. But I am liberal minded. I believe in living equally with all ethnicities for I feel that this whole argument is so pointless. We are only different by which language we learnt to speak from birth. Nothing else. To quote a notable quote 'when we are cut, we all bleed'. Out of all the people I know in Sri Lanka of my age, I can only name one person who I see as an extremist. And I don't particularly care much for that person. 

As per my previous post, as someone who has lived in this country, I have witnessed a lot. As people of this country, our population has been through a LOT. They have ALL felt fear. They have ALL felt anger. and they have ALL felt sympathy. 

As the author in the above comment states, people in the South and notably Colombo (I am just extrapolating this to the other parts of the country) are doing everything in their power to collect food, clothing, medicines and other essential items to send to the persons in the North. Until I read this statement from Mr. Muttiah it didn't strike me that we were Sinhalese sending things to Tamils. I just don't process things like that. And I'm sure a majority of the Sri Lankans I know, who were born and bred in Sri Lanka, don't think of things like that either.

This is why, when I went to uni in London, and I met this girl who was Sri Lankan but bred in London and she asked me 'Are you Sinhalese or Tamil?', I was actually offended. Not to mention shocked. Thats sort of taboo where I come from. And ill-mannered. Needless to say, i got asked this a lot when I said I'm from Sri Lanka. Some foreigners even asked me whether I was a Tiger. I was like 'WHAT are you smoking?!' but wa-hey, they are foreigners, let them think what they want. Anyway, back to our expat Sri Lankans. 

I can't help but feel that these Sri Lankan diaspora members - be they Sinhalese or Tamil -  are living in the '80s. That can be the only reason why the Sinhalese members supported the war so vehemently in the face of so much anguish for Tamil civilians and the Tamil members are so angry that the LTTE was wiped out. Furthermore, some of the Tamil diaspora members behaving so vilely as to throw acid on innocent Sinhalese students in Australia - that is just despicable. When us, who are in Sri Lanka, who have lived through fear and terror and war for the past 26 years just want this 'nadagama' (shabang) to just STOP. Here are people, far away in the safety of their adopted nations, acting like vicious hooligans. 

For what? I hear them ask for another uprising of the LTTE - I ask them, is your youth going to come to a country they barely know and they have barely visited and fight against an elected government? Or are you suggesting that the Tamil youth in Sri Lanka take up arms again for some sort of strange dream of yours? And WHY do you want Eelam so badly? So that you have some place to vacation? So that when things go badly in your adopted countries, you can still glorify the legitimate struggles of the people who actually stayed on here? And the Sinhalese members, please don't bring your outdated racism back into this game. It has no place here. I say, read the news, read our blogs, read our online newspapers (Sunday Leader is an ubiased view) and get to know the reality of this country as it is and teach your children that. Not what you experienced 30 years ago. Find the good in our people and do what you can from your much developed nations to enhance that. 

You have a choice to support us, Sri Lankans, in going ahead and re-building this nation. But to stir up hate, draw boundaries, initiate terrorism -you really don't have a say in it. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Sri Lanka Without War

On Monday, when I first woke up and heard about the complete end to the war and cessation of fighting, I honestly did not know what to feel. In a population which erupted into a cry of joy, there were a few such as I, who remained quiet. I felt this victory was not ours on that day. It was that of the brave men and women who left their homes to fight a war that has never in 30 years been won. 

Over the past couple of months, the war fervour had intensified in Colombo. Those that previously had no opinion, suddenly developed one and partitions were created between people who had never before had cause for argument due to this war. 

I was born in 1984. Apparently, when the riots erupted in 1983, my mother was pregnant with me and she helped her Tamil neighbours seek refuge in 'our' house. Brave. I can't remember when I first heard of the L.T.T.E but I do remember one day we were driving somewhere, and on a wall some sentence was graffitied and it contained the word 'L.T.T.E'. This was as soon as I learned to read so for the first time I remember becoming aware that there was an E at the end of that 'word'. All that while I had called it L.T.T. To get an idea of the timeline, I believe the then Prime Minister Premadasa was speaking at a rally close by to that wall. So let's say 1988/89. 

Which means my entire life, I have been aware of the LTTE.

I was approximately 9/10 years old when the Orugodawatte Oil Refinery LTTE attack took place. I vividly remember waking up in the middle of the night and facing an orange flaming sky. People were on the roads and I remember hearing of stories where people had run for their lives in the neighbouring areas. The next few days motorcyclists white shirts were black when it rained. Because it rained oil. 

I was 9 years old when my mother and I went to the Book Exhibition and Sale near Independent Square on May 1st, 1993 and on our way home, there was a huge traffic and this gentleman stopped our car and told us to take another route home. Because a suicide cadre had just killed President Premadasa as he took part in the UNP May Day rally. Of course, there is still speculation as to who really committed that murder. But popular belief was the LTTE. 

I was 11/12 when one day in school we heard a noise and thought that someone had dropped a massive aluminium sheet on to the ground (don't ask, we were young). Then we learnt that the Central Bank had been bombed by a truck laden with explosive driven by suicide LTTE cadres. My friend's father walked all the way to school to pick us up and made us walk back home because there was too much traffic to go by car. Over a 100 people died that day. I made it a habit to look at the obituary page in the newspaper every January 31st after that. But with time, even that practice was forgotten.

I was 15 when I got a call from a friend who said that as President Kumaratunga was leaving a rally (for the Presidential Elections in 1999) that a suicide bomber had exploded. The President was lucky enough to escape but lost an eye. 

As part of the generation of war, this is just a handful of experiences I have had to live through in Sri Lanka over the past 26 years. With the passing of time, you become immune to hearing about deaths on tv. As a nation, we don't shout out in horror that there was a bomb on a bus that killed two people and injured 30 others. We have become apathetic. The LTTE has time and again invented new ways to overcome this apathy. 

I was 23 when all our friends gathered together to watch the Cricket World Cup where after 11 years Sri Lanka was finally playing in a Final. The LTTE flies jets over the city and sparks off anti aircraft fire, power cuts, search lights heralding in a new era of fear. Since then the LTTE flew aircraft twice more over our city. The last time which was this year, we were on the road and had the closest experience to war that I have seen in my life.

Through all this, I have but suffered NOTHING compared to what some people who live in this country have suffered. I have merely seen the dead sprewn across streets, dismembered limbs sprawled across pavements. But these dead had families who must bear the sorrow of their loss regardless of whether the war is won or not. 

So now, you tell me that the war is over and the LTTE is no more and question me as to why I cannot dance in the street? Because I am numb. I am rendered speechless and immovable. By the horrors that I have witnessed in this country over my entire lifetime, by the number of people who have died to bring us to this point and by the immense task we have ahead of us to ensure that my children do not grow up to realise that LTT has an E at the end. 

Monday, May 18, 2009


Sounds of crackers erupted around Colombo this afternoon at around 1:45pm. Since I didn't have a dailymirror alert on my phone, I wasn't entirely sure what was going on (although I knew that the 'war was over') but later I realised this marked the end of the war and the declaration that the entire country is now under the control of the Sri Lankan government.

Readers of this blog would know that I was not a supporter of the military effort. Simply due to the fact that I did not believe that the humanitarian catastrophe would be worth the end result. The lighting of crackers in Colombo is not only reeks of lack of consideration towards the sufferings of the people who actually directly suffered in the war but it cries out injustice. 

Humility is required at this point in time. In knowing that, the Tamil people who were treated as second class citizens in their own country should not be allowed to feel that way again. When we (who sometimes forgot their was a war going on in this country whilst we drank champagne and hobnobbed with socialites late into the nights) scream out jubilations about how relieved we are that the country is finally free, should realise how ridiculous this may seem to the 300,000 IDPs not very far from us. 

We should ensure that our 'celebrations' do not trample on their sorrows. We should ensure they do not feel that they endured the hell that was the no fire zone just so that people in the South can dance on the street. This victory is as much theirs as it is ours. If not more so. We should gather together to convince our government that the victory in the war is only half the battle won. That we need it to complete its mandate fully - provide the Tamil citizens in this country their rights to live as first class citizens. If the LTTE is truly banished, there should be no need to hold these IDPs away from their homes and in famine conditions (that the government even with the best of intentions may not be able to support due to the sheer size of the requirement). 

By the lighting of crackers and hoisting of the National Flag, we should not allow anyone to forget the true casualties of this war. The people who suffered its consequences directly on a daily basis. This includes the armed forces, the families of the armed forces and the IDPs). 

You and I played no active part in this battle. Therefore, it is more important than ever that we now take up our responsibility as seriously as the armed forces took theirs. Let none of the thousands of lives that were lost and scarred over the past 3 decades have been in vain. Let us not forget to do our bit for this country. And then together, we can all proclaim the beginning of One Sri Lanka. 

Not yet.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I've become a Squid

Squidoo - Why is this thing not more popular?? Its fantastic!! Its loadsa fun and its like one big community of information! 

I've started making lenses (mini blogs about a specific theme) and the beauty of it is, is that it can be as long or as short as you want. AND IT MAKES YOU MONEY. apparently. I haven't really received anything yet but I just started today. I'm gonna try find how to link up this and that but for now my Squidoo links are:



As you can see, its pretty simple, ease of use and links up with ebay, Amazon, Cafepress and adsense to connect ads/products with your ideas. I'm not entirely sure how one makes money but I guess I'll have to read up on that. Oh and also, you can either take the money yourself or donate to charity. Which is also pretty noble.

Much fun!

Saturday, May 09, 2009


There are so many wide ranging views on the war effort, the IDP situation, the international community, Diaspora and Sri Lanka around the world and within the tiny island that you may call it information overload. From bloggers to NYTimes the issues are discussed, from Arvind Adiga to Channel 4 opinions are aired, the whole situation is controversial and as it involves so many parties, it is bound to be opinioniated.

I find the mirades of articles interesting. Enlightening. I enjoy the varying opinions. Finally however, what is of concern to me is the immeasurable grief that is being experienced by so many Sri Lankans who are DIRECTLY affected by this war. Therefore, as someone who does not think a military solution is the ultimate solution, I feel nothing but pain to all those people who are suffering right now. 

The brave young men and women who enroll in the army, whose deaths we do not mourn on a name by name basis. Their parents and loved ones who wait listlessly till they see or hear from them again. The loved ones of the innumberable missing persons. Both in the military and civilian population. The IDPs whose loved ones have died in front of them, who have lost their dignity and are now living as paupers in what is meant to be their country. The journalists and other emboldened souls who strive to tell us the truth on a daily basis yet do not sleep soundly at night worrying what lay in store for them.

When I was living abroad, I always enjoyed the thought of home. I could endure the hardships of a foreign existance knowing full well that its solely upto me when I go home and put an end to the misery of being an immigrant per se. I always knew that wherever I go that there is a place that I belong, that I can return to and live with dignity. And that was Sri Lanka.

This Sri Lanka that affords me a life of dignity and considerable luxury, does not offer the same for these persons. That pains me. The Sri Lanka where I can enjoy a wide range of delicacies does not afford these persons three meals a day on most occassions. The Sri Lanka that waves me through checkpoints after a smile and a greeting does not allow these persons to pass through without checking every single item in their bags.

I always believed that an end to this crisis will occur once the current generation dies. That us, the younger generation, will lead the way to a better Sri Lanka. That we will understand the issues that plagued each of the ethnicities and work towards eliminating each of these issues in a responsible manner. However, now, I see that even my views which are nothing but moderate, sometimes causes worry and anger in others of my own age. Or maybe younger than me.

The solid Sinhala Buddhist mentality (which thankfully has evaded me) is present in a number of persons in Sri Lanka. This mentality is only further emboldened by the victory on the war front. Thus these persons feel that every issue that Sri Lanka currently faces is secondary to the war against the LTTE. And winning that war will automatically place us in a position to fix everyone else's smaller less important problems. And that we should not speak of anything else that is wrong in this country and nor should anyone in the international community for it is unpatriotic. 

No. It is not unpatriotic. It is realistic. Winning the war will not assist these people regain what they lost. Furthermore, the more they lose, the higher the chance that Sri Lanka will be embroiled in war again and again till perhaps global warming takes charge and we all drown. 

For that matter, the diaspora and the Indian politicians who are screaming for a seperate state and the survival of the LTTE are equally as opposed to the 'righteous middle path' as the Sinhala extremists. Our country is too small to have two seperate states. We can travel from Jaffna to Dondra Point in around 24 hours. We will be stepping on each others toes. So why step on toes when we can just live peacefully? Maybe my views are too idealistic.Either way, I have the right to air my opinion. 

Therefore, convince your friends to allow dissent. Your parents that dissent is important. Lets convince that others views are as viable as our own. That this war is not about you and me who have internet access and sit in our comfortable homes but more about the people who are suffering by being directly involved in this war. 

Monday, May 04, 2009

How Tired Must They Be?

I'm so tired. Mentally exhausted. Everywhere I turn there is talk of biased opinions, unbiased opinions, intolerance of dissent, attacks, shellings, no-heavy equipment, heavy artillery fire, deaths, camps, loss of loved ones, disappearances, displaced displaced displaced. 

We have the Tamil Diaspora holding placards and waving the LTTE flag and screaming for their adopted governments to save their 'motherland' from its impending death, we have the Sinhalese extremists/not so extremists high on the fumes of victory yelling the importance of sovereignity, we have the international community making random appeals with no significant actions being taken to show they mean business, we have the LTTE on the brink of being crushed hollering about their need for negotiations, we have Jayalalitha in India attempting to be the next Big P, we have India using the Sri Lankan cause to get ahead in the elections, we have the ruling Big Rs drunk on the victory in the war and elections and knowing they face no opposition in crushing dissent and we have the opposition, probably knitting at home, since they are doing f*** in the public arena!

IT IS EXHAUSTING. When all I can see are the dastardly unfortunate civilians (approx 200,000 persons) ripped out of their homes, being trapped with the sounds and sights of war all around them, without a bite to eat, water to drink, injured, loved ones dead, wading through neck deep water, in camps with only a bundle of clothes to call their own and to remind them that they once used to have lives that were not used to further the cause of some egotistic maniac in the North or the South. 

We are doing a LOT in Colombo. We're making donations, we're collecting goods, we're obtaining permissions to transport them up to the camps. Even then, these goods may not get to those people! There are stories emerging now that the goods we send to the North are being used to create a blackmarket within the camps. With a kilo of sugar selling for 800 rs! A low income worker in the South will not be able to afford a kilo of sugar for 800 rs how are these people who are at the mercy of one fraction or another expected to fork out these exorbitant sums for what is rightly theirs??? 

There is something so innately wrong in the Sri Lankan psyche. Be you Tamil or Sinhalese, a local or a part of the diaspora. It can only be the consequence of 26 years of war and at least 62 years of insecurities amongst ethnicities. 

Else how does a Tamil Diaspora that left this country on average 25 years to go, with children who have never visited this country, now be proclaiming genocide when a terrorist organisation is being crushed militarily. Why do they not question the hostage situation in the North with their own people living the lives of the wretched? Why are they not doing more to get the international communities to provide donations so that food and shelter can be provided for the floods of people coming out of the LTTE held area to the SLA protection? Why are they not calling for the govt to provide equal rights to these people now that they have shown that they trust the govt more than the LTTE? Why cannot the Diaspora realise that it is not them who are living comparatively luxurious existences in the countries they dispersed to all those years ago who really have a say in what happens to the LTTE, but it is the people of the North who spend every day living (and dying) under the conditions of the LTTE that must have the last say?

How does a Sinhalese community have this much insecurity bred into their psyche? Its not difficult for us in the South to realise that minorities are not a threat to us. In fact, we must engage and force the govt to provide equal rights to these people so that they can live their lives with as much dignity as we have been able to live over these past few decades. Furthermore, it is pivotal that we realise the importance of the presence of an unbiased party in the camps to ensure that the IDP's are allowed access to the donations that come to them. This cannot be another 'tsunami relief effort'. The govt should allow for dissent, freedom of speech, freedom of press. They have won the war. They have in effect showed the doubters that it could be done (albeit with a level of force that was otherwise unimagineable). Now they can take this time to turn the doubters into supporters. By being more democratic. There is nothing wrong with democracy. Why fear democracy? Why fear freedom of speech? Great leaders are bred not through dictatorships but of mutual trust and respect. The Sinhalese as a people, must ensure that they are open to dissent. Opinions will be aired especially in times like these. If we are unable to tolerate dissent ourselves, we are feeding the govt the power it needs to crush dissent.

International community? Get your act together. Provide support. Understand the issues. Yes, the international community is necessary. Without it, the government is accountable to no-one. With it also it seems the govt is accountable to noone. Soveriegnity will not be encroached upon just because someone tells you something you are doing is wrong. The figures the UN projected for the trapped civilians is more or less correct as is now proved. The satellite images show that there has been shellings. Without these things, we will never know what is going on up north. However, they must speak with reason. Yes the trapped civilians must be released. The international community must exercise pressure on the LTTE to release these civilians. It is not the army that build the earth bunds. The govt cannot shut itself out from the international community. Not when our economy is shattering in front of our eyes. Thus diplomacy must still be the key. 

Jayalalitha should stop making mentally imbalanced comments in public in an effort to win an election. Politicians as a whole should stop using the plight of the people and their poverty to further thier selfish causes. Our opposition needs to wake up from its slumber. When the whole world is awake with cries regardign the North, the UNP sleeps. Or bickers amongst themselves. NOW is not the time for pettiness. Now is not the time for yourselves. Now is the time to be the Opposition. Point out the issues, petition the govt, lobby the masses, show the country what is happening, build networks in the grassroots, start helping the people to recognise their own insecurities and alleviate those issues in attempt to build for a better Sri Lanka.

The Rajapakse government has completed the first phase of their mandate. To win the war. The second step, what happens to the North now, relies on the next step each one of these parties make. I can only hope that they remember the people. The people we have lost. The people that are lost. The people that have lost. And not themselves when it comes to making that next step.