Renton de Alwis, from the Daily News where it deployed a different title
This Christmas season was indeed somewhat different. With the global financial crisis still looming and several more countries becoming unstable with battles for supremacy of ownership of resources, it certainly had a more distinct ‘back to basics’ flavour about it. We heard Pope Benedict XVI in his message on Christmas’ eve, call on humankind not to be lost in ‘superficial glitter’. “Let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped. Let us allow ourselves to be made simple by the God who reveals himself to the simple of heart,” said the leader of 1.3 billion Catholics of the world. Continue reading
Rajah Kuruppu, in the Daily News, 26 December 2011
A recent event that underlines the innate good nature of man was the great walk from Dondra in the South to Jaffna in the North covering a distance of 670kms to generate funds to build the Paediatrics Cancer Ward in the Jaffna General Hospital. The walk named Trail, a journey of 27 days was undertaken from July 1 to 27. The Trail was initiated by the Colours of Courage Trust, a nonprofit organization which from its inception in 2008 has dedicated itself to provide the infrastructure for the treatment of cancer in Sri Lanka, a noble task where early detection and care could save numerous lives.
A noteworthy feature of this walk was that numerous people, rich and poor, young and old, spontaneously supported the walk which symbolized a noble gesture providing relief to children in the North who are afflicted with cancer. Some walked a part of the distance to record their support for a noble venture. There were others contributing in cash or kind to raise the necessary funds for the Pediatric Ward. Continue reading
Filed under communal relations, cultural transmission, life stories, reconciliation, rehabilitation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, tolerance, voluntary workers, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes
UCAN, 7 December 2011 http://www.ucanews.com/2011/12/07/language-barrier-to-reconciliation/
Failure to speak the same language compounds the major challenges preventing reconciliation in the country following 30-years of civil war, according to a forum of inter-religious leaders. “Mistrust and doubt prevails among Sinhalese and Tamils when they associate,” according to Bishop Cletus Chandrasiri Perera, Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Inter-religious and Ecumenical Dialogue. He was addressing a recent conference in Colombo organized by Caritas Sri Lanka, in association with the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies. These obstacles are compounded by language barriers, but can be overcome if more efforts are made to bridge this gap and show respect and tolerance to others with help from various religious bodies, he said. Continue reading
Padraig Colman, in the Sunday Island, 17 December 2013
On 26 December 2011 it will be seven years since 36,000 to 50,000 people (the numbers of dead vary depending on the source) died inSri Lankain the 2004 tsunami. On Christmas Day 2004, we had heard news that our local government veterinarian, whom we knew well, was looking forward to going on a trip toGallewith a party of about 20 people. He and 16 others died. His wife and one child survived because they went back to the hotel for a newspaper. A strange phenomenon was noted in Yala National Park. Few of the animals seemed to have perished because they moved to higher ground before the wave hit. Was this because they sensed the tremors?
A local relief effort that got underway almost immediately is generally agreed to have been a success. Even in the poorest, most remote areas, people flocked to the roadside to hand over money, clothes, bottles of water and bags of rice and lentils.
There are complaints today about militarisation. Seven years ago, 20,000 soldiers were deployed to assist in relief operations and maintain law and order. An effective, spontaneous immediate response was organised locally, followed by the government and international agencies. Temporary shelter for the displaced was provided in schools, other public and religious buildings. Communities and groups cooperated across ethnic and religious differences.
Eye Witness: One month after the tsunami, my wife and I visited Hambantota. We visited again, to take some supplies for the three months dane. Back in 2005, just outside the town of Hambantota, plastic chairs were stranded on the banks above the stained salt in the lagoons of the Lanka Salt Company. Fishing suffered because of fear that fish were contaminated by corpses. Apparently, there was a greater danger of corpses contaminating the salt. Continue reading
From Sunday Island, 17 December 2011
As DEW Gunasekera once stated “They are also our people” we need to reach out to them. The ordinary Tamil citizen has gone through real hell since the LTTE and other militant groups started their campaign in the 70s. The Tamil people were not an aggressive people they were a God fearing passive people but Tamil youth who were deprived of opportunity by the Sinhala Only Act and later by Standardization which limited their opportunity to enter University which was a dream of every Tamil youth. We threw Dr. Naganathan and other Tamil leaders in to the Beira Lake when they protested against the Sinhala Only Bill, we attacked them in 1958, 1960, 1977 and then came the burning of the Jaffna Library in 1982 ( by persons who were expected, because of their religion, to place the highest value on learning and the development of the mind) that was followed by the horrific attack of 1983 July by UNP thugs led by Minister Matthew. Continue reading
Filed under communal relations, democratic measures, Left politics, life stories, politIcal discourse, power sharing, reconciliation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, tolerance, welfare & philanthophy
BBC with Priyath Liyanage 24 December 2011
As Sri Lanka’s civil war came to a bloody end in May 2009, the BBC’s Priyath Liyanage was struck by video footage of a boy walking through the war zone holding a violin. Two years on, can this boy be traced and why did he make such a perilous journey with only a musical instrument?
In the last months of Sri Lanka’s civil war, nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians – driven out of their homes with the retreating Tamil rebels – were trapped in a small strip of coastal land in the north of the country. While some people were released, others escaped. There was no choice but to walk through the raging battle towards the advancing government forces. It is still unclear how many people were killed in the shelling and crossfire. This stage of the country’s prolonged war was fought without independent witnesses. The story of these civilians who reportedly became a human shield for the Tamil Tigers is largely untold. The only news of their plight was through the reports filed by embedded reporters of state media. Independent and foreign media, along with most international aid agencies, were removed from the battle zone. Continue reading
Filed under life stories, LTTE, military strategy, politIcal discourse, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, tamil refugees, truth as casualty of war, world events & processes
Michael Roberts, courtesy of www.groundviews.org, under a different title, where you will see a throbbing set of comments of varying degrees of silliness and pertinence, one I have refrained from participating in [I dislike pseudonyms and nom de plume as a matter of principle]. The repetition here enables the insertion of illuminating photographs.
Niromi de Soyza’s so-called autobiography, Tamil Tigress, has received extensive coverage in Australia and has traversed the world now because of critical reviews by several personnel and devoted defence from others. It has been described as “part memoir, part compelling reportage, part mea culpa” by Nikki Barrowclough in the Sydney Morning Herald’s weekend magazine. Gordon Weiss, the moral crusader, proclaimed it to be “incredibly moving” and considers it “a story of redemption” (as quoted by Nikki Barrowclough). This may well be one of the motifs that Robert Perinpanayagam, a perceptive commentator, sees as the potential crux of the book in his unelaborated blog comments.
Without denying that dimension of the book if one stretches a point and treats it as a “faction,” that is, a “fictional narrative based on real events,” rather than a historical account, its self-presentation as a memoir and “true story” renders Tamil Tigress liable at the same time to the charge of deception (a combination stressed in my little-noticed third article on the topic). Indeed, it is arguable that it could be subject to a legal charge for a misleading advertisement that deceives consumers. Continue reading
Filed under citizen journalism, female empowerment, historical interpretation, indian armed forces, life stories, LTTE, military strategy, politIcal discourse, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters
Walter Keller-Kirchhoff, born in the Dortmund Ruhr region of Germany in 1951, has committed himself to working and assisting the people and society within Sri Lanka for over thirty years through several German aid agencies linked to the government of Deutschland. In certain ways he is a reminder of that wonderful man, Ben Bavinck. Keller’s deep engagement with the country has also found expression through his professional photographic capacities. It is my privilege to provide the world with a glimpse of his capacities – and thus of landscape and people – through his camerawork. SEE http://www.flickr.com/photos/thuppahi/sets/72157628488122077/ for several more of his photographs of the landscapes and peoples of Sri Lanka.
A devotional act and fulfilment of a vow at a Hindu festival in the Jaffna Peninsula, late 2011
Army soldiers prepare fora devotional rite a during Poson at Tiriyaya Temple
a friendly “asala malaikum” from a Muslim gent
Michael Roberts, with Lester Carron
Following my preliminary and non-comprehensive essay of the government’s rehabilitation programme for former Tigers held in detention centres under military supervision I sought more information from one of the companies involved, namely, the David Pieris Motor Company, through a friend. Though there was a delay, Lester Carron, The Director, Service Dept, DPMC, responded. I sent him a series of questions which he has now answered. The Q and A are presented as they are because the import is clear. Let me add that this cooperation is in contrast to that of the Bureau of the Commissioner General for Rehabilitation who did not send me any information in response to my request [though I extracted data from their site]. Let me also add that a chance meeting with Richard Danziger, Head of the International Organization for Migration, at an official function in Colombo enabled me to send him my essay on “Turning Tiger Personnel into Lankan Citizens?” [note question mark at end] for his comments. His answer, dated Fri, Nov 25, 2011 at 3:21 PM, was as brief as immediate: “Dear Michael, I think its a fair article. Best regards, RICHARD.” These types of response are good for the heart and contrast with the type of pedantic negativity and mis-reading generated by blokes like “Valkyrie.”
1. Is it at all possible for you to make the documentaries you made of the training of these batches available to me? Yes we can, but at the moment the commentary is in Sinhala, also where there is a Tamil dialogue it is dubbed in Sinhala.
2. How were the ex-combatants selected for the training? We requested the Sri Lanka Air Force (who were in charge of the centre) to interview and short list candidates, thereafter on two occasions our Assistant Manager Technical Training, our Tamil training Instructor and myself personally visited the centre and selected the candidates after interview. (Mr David Pieris also was present on the first occasion). The minimum criteria required was the ability to identify basic hand tools, some special tools and identification of certain motor cycle and 3Wheeler engine components that we carried with us from Colombo. Who did the selection? Were you at all influenced by the recommendations of the military? No. Continue reading
Filed under accountability, life stories, LTTE, patriotism, reconciliation, rehabilitation, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil Tiger fighters, tolerance, welfare & philanthophy