Thursday, April 1, 2010

Sri Lanka's traitorous politics

By Savitri Hensman

"A murderer is less to fear. The traitor is the plague," declared Roman statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero over 2,000 years ago. Accusations of treachery still sting. But in Sri Lanka in recent decades, the term "traitor" has been flung about with wild abandon, raising questions about what loyalty people might owe to a nation and what this might mean in practice.

Last year, a civil war ended with the crushing defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), but this has not brought national harmony and reconciliation. Instead, an authoritarian culture has taken hold in which disagreement with the powers that be is labelled as disloyalty to the nation. The general who led the successful military campaign against the LTTE, Sarath Fonseka, became highly critical of the current president, Mahinda Rajapakse, who with his brother Gotabhaya, the defence secretary, also claimed credit for the victory.

Fonseka unsuccessfully stood as an opposition candidate in this year's presidential elections. Some government supporters labelled him as a traitor, and he was arrested. In the runup to parliamentary elections, he is facing trial by a military court.

A political culture built on mistrust of diversity and disagreement took hold 30 years ago. The government tried to tap into fear of and rivalry towards Tamils among the Sinhalese majority. In the world view promoted by industries minister, Cyril Mathew, in his 1979 work Diabolical Conspiracy, those not Sinhalese Buddhists were particularly prone to be treacherous. In the days of British rule "a very special partiality was shown to the minorities and they were given valuable and privileged opportunities. In this crafty way the British rulers were able to obtain all the information regarding the efforts of the majority people for a united stand, from the beholden and grateful minority communities". This was a gross distortion of history, but helped to fuel suspicion and supposedly justify abuses of power. Harsh repression alienated many Tamil youth, swelling the ranks of an initially tiny militant movement fighting for a separate state.

It was not just ethnic and religious minorities who came under attack: anyone who questioned the regime risked arrest or death. After unleashing violence against Tamil civilians in 1983, the government banned much of the opposition including the main Tamil party and Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP), supported largely by discontented Sinhalese youth, supposedly for undermining national security.

This fuelled support for the Tamil nationalist movement as well as a JVP rebellion. Soon the JVP, too, was labelling those its leaders disapproved of as traitors and violently targeting them The LTTE also set out to stamp its authority over the Tamil people, detaining or killing "traitors" – rival Tamil nationalists, moderates and anyone suspected of being critical of its policies, which included terrorist attacks, ethnic cleansing and child conscription.

Meanwhile, human rights activists such as idealistic young opposition MP Rajapakse risked their safety to publicise the regime's injustices internationally and try to restore a less violent and divisive political culture.

Now in power, it is ironic that Rajapakse is promoting the kind of repression he once opposed so strongly, further dividing rather than reconciling Sri Lankans. Critics of the government are labelled as traitors, human rights and democracy undermined.

In any country where quasi-religious adoration of "the nation" takes hold, there is a risk this may tip over into unquestioning obedience to its leaders. Ironically, this may harm rather than protect its people and what is best in its heritage. The kind of patriotism needed by Sri Lanka and other countries today is that described by human rights defender Clarence Darrow: "True patriotism hates injustice in its own land more than anywhere else."


Bhairav said...

For the original contents of this article, please see the link below:

Tamil Kovil said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tamil Kovil said...

Sri Lankan government sold prostitutes from China and Russia to pass budget

During the past years the government auctioned prostitutes from China and Russia in Parliament to get the budget proposals passed, then the Parliament was similar to a ‘New Year sale joint’ and he would not be embarrassed to reveal it now said Minister Dulles Alahapperuma.

Speaking at a press conference held today (1st) Minister Alahapperuma said, “As Parliamentarians we are not embarrassed to reveal these things. During months of November in past several years the Parliament was like a ‘sale place.’ Like New Year sale or Christmas sale we had ‘Diyawanna sale.’ Everything was on sale there. Dollars were traded. Agents from embassies went to and from. Everything happened there.

Prostitutes from China and Russia too have been sold at ‘Diyawanna sale’ during 2008 budget. That is how we had to protect our power,” said Minister Dulles Alahapperuma.

Bhairav said...

Bhairav said...

They're getting their own medicines now.

Published: April 6, 2010

NEW DELHI — India’s campaign against the country’s Maoist insurgency suffered a major setback on Tuesday when rebel fighters ambushed a paramilitary unit on patrol in an isolated forest region, killing at least 73 officers.

The authorities described a carefully executed surprise attack in which the Maoists opened fire as the patrol entered an area seeded with booby-trap bombs. When officers fell to the ground to take cover from gunfire, they detonated the explosives.

“I am deeply shocked at the loss of lives,” said Indian Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, according to the news agency Press Trust of India. He said the Maoist attack showed the “brutality and the savagery they are capable of.”

The attack comes as the government is mobilizing security forces against the Maoists in a multistate campaign known as Operation Green Hunt. The Maoists, also known as Naxalites, have existed in India for four decades and claim to represent the interests of the rural dispossessed who have not shared in India’s economic progress. Once lightly regarded by the government, the Maoists have expanded across a large rural corridor and now exercise outright control over some isolated, mountain regions. Maoist propaganda calls for overthrowing the Indian state.

The goal of the government operation is to push the Maoists out of more populated rural areas and isolate them in certain remote mountain regions. Maoist sympathizers have accused the government of brutalizing and killing innocent villagers as security forces sweep through rural areas to root out rebel fighters.

Officials say the Maoists are the brutalizers, having disrupted schools and hospitals and destroyed roads in many areas; the security campaign calls for clearing areas of rebels so that government services can be restored.

By some unofficial estimates, roughly 200 security officers have been killed by Maoists during the past 12 months. The operation involves multiple federal and state security agencies, and some analysts have questioned whether poor coordination and training is exposing officers to danger. On Sunday, Maoists detonated a land mine in the state of Orissa, killing 10 officers and injuring 16 others. Last month, the Maoists blew up a railroad track, forcing the minor derailment of a passenger train. And in February, about 100 Maoists on motorcycles stormed a police outpost in the state of West Bengal, killing 24 security officers.

The attack on Tuesday occurred in the Dantewada region in the state of Chhattisgarh, in an area known as Chintalnar, considered a major Maoist stronghold. The officers were members of the Central Reserve Police Force, a paramilitary unit, who entered the forest on Sunday night for a two-day mission related to the government operation.

T. J. Longkumar, the Chhattisgarh police inspector general for the larger region, said the officers were returning to camp after an early morning patrol when the Maoists struck around 6:30 a.m. Officer Longkumar said he did not know how many fighters had attacked, but Indian news outlets reported that as many as 1,000 Maoists were involved.

“They were blasted,” Officer Longkumar said. “Most of the casualties were from the explosives.”

He said the attack was likely a response to the fact that security forces have been pressing deeper into isolated areas once completely controlled by the Maoists. “They have regrouped,” he said. “They feel we are entering their core area.”

Ashok Kumar said...

மனோகரன்: புதுமாத்தளனுக்குப் பின் போராட்டத்தின் அடுத்த கட்டம் என்ன ? எம்மை நம்பிய தமிழீழ மக்களுக்கு நாம் சொல்ல வேண்டிய பதில் என்ன ? ஆகிய கேள்விகளுக்கு உரிய பதில் இல்லாமல் பிரபாகரன் தன் வாழ்வை ஒரு போதும் வெற்றிடமாக்கியிருக்க மாட்டார். புதுமாத்தளன் நிகழ்விற்கு சில நாட்கள் முன்னதாக நடேசனிடம் ஒரு செய்தியை தெரிவித்தார்… அது புலிகளுக்கு பிறகு வெற்றிடம் என்பது இல்லை என்ற செய்திதான்… அதற்குப் பிறகு பிரபாகரனின் கருத்துக்கள் எதுவும் வெளியாகவில்லை.. எனவே அன்று வெற்றிடமில்லை என்று கூறியவர் அதற்கான பதிலைத் தராமல் தன் பணியை ஒருபோதும் முடித்திருக்க மாட்டார். ஒன்றுமில்லாத வாய்ப்பேச்சு வீரரின் வெற்றிடத்தில் விடுதலைப் புலிகளை உருவாக்கியவர் பிரபாகரன். புலிகளின் தாகம் தமிழீழ தாயகம் என்ற முடிவுரையை எழுதிவிட்டே போராட்டம் என்ற முதல் அத்தியாயத்திற்குள் போனவர் பிரபாகரன்.. இப்போது அவர் நேதாஜிபோல ஒரு வெற்றிடத்தை தன் வாழ்வில் எழுதியுள்ளார் என்று முன்னர் கூறியிருந்தேன். இப்போது மறுபடியும் அந்த இடத்திற்கே திரும்பி வருகிறேன்.. அன்று நேதாஜி ஒரு வெற்றிட நிலையை உருவாக்கி, அதன் மூலம் இந்திய சுதந்திரத்தை ஏற்படுத்தினார் என்பதுதான் நேதாஜி கதையின் வெற்றிடத்தில் நிற்கும் மர்மமான உண்மை. பிரபாகரனும் அதே முடிவுரையைத்தான் எழுதியுள்ளார். தமிழ் மக்களின் கனவுகளை நினைவாக்க அவர் இருந்தும் போராடுவார் இல்லாமலும் போராடுவார்..