When Justin Trudeau issued a brief statement on the 18th May 2020 expressing sympathy for all the victims of Eelam War IV in the course of his request for an accountability purpose, he was clever. There was no slant towards Tamil victims. But there was a reference to “the last phase of the war at Mullivaikal” …. and this, together with the focus on accountability, implied that he was supporting Sri Lankan Tamil and HR claims alleging mass killings.
This presentation, doubtless, is artful and thus good constituency politics in the Canadian context. However, he has been rapped on the knuckles by two well-read Sinhalese commentators within the diaspora — both personnel who cannot be dismissed as chauvinist. In the process both have failed to criticize the strains of “Orientalism” in Trudeau’s vote-seeking intervention. It was the Egyptian scholar residing in the West, Edward Said, who coined this critical concept to mark the manner in which the dominant Western powers of the 19th and 20th centuries supplemented their material exploitative imperial economic activities with supposedly scholarly work on the “East” which depicted the people and places within that arena in inferior tones and thereby tied Western scholarship to power (see the Note at the end of this collection)….. Michael Roberts
ONE: Chandre Dharmawardana’s Criticism from Ottawa, 21 May 2020
Prime Minister Trudeau, issuing a statement on the anniversary of the end of the armed conflict in Sri Lanka (which happened on May 19th 2009), has called for Sri Lanka “to pursue a meaningful accountability process”. He further stated that “ Canada continues to offer its support to the Sri Lankan government and all those working toward justice, reconciliationand inclusion, all of which underpin long-term peace and prosperity in the country”.
However, the actions of successive Canadian governments do not match the words. Sri Lankan authorities say that Canada has refused to cooperate with Lankan judicial authorities in their attempts to find “missing persons” who have taken new identities in Canada. They claim that many perpetrators of atrocities, especially those of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), have found refuge in Canada with impunity.
Canada, together with Britain and the US moved the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) against Sri Lanka but the UN itself rejected the motion three times,viz., 2012, 2013, and 2014. However, in 2015 the Lankan Government did not oppose the resolution, and indeed endorsed it, in the hope of resolving the allegations against Sri Lanka that it is not moving against perpetrators of terror. However, These allegations are by unnamed persons who the UN shields from interrogation. The allegations themselves are not sufficiently specific to initiate investigations, and yet, Canada and other sponsors follow a Kafkaesque policy of not providing case details. Meanwhile, it is well known that many leading Tiger operatives, e.g., some who trained and nurtured young children to become suicide killers, live in impunity in the UK and other Western countries. These nations who sponsored the UN resolution have not moved to clean their own Augean stables, even though the LTTE is a banned organization in the UK, USA and Canada.
Lord Naseby of the British House of Lords has come forward using diplomatic dispatches available to the UK government, Wikileaks and other sources to point out that the claim by the UNHCR that the Lankan army wilfully massacred some 40,000 Tamil civilians in the last months of the conflict is incorrect, and that some 7000 deaths, mostly LTTE fighters, had died.
Many academics had also come to identical conclusions.
Interestingly, while these countries recognized that the LTTE has been one of the most barbaric and ruthless terror organizations ever, they have failed to congratulate the Sri Lankan government in successfully putting it down, and stopping the almost daily carnage of civilians by the LTTE that occurred for three decades, irrespective of ethnicity.
Meanwhile, the US has walked out of the UNHRC, while Canada and UK continue to hold thebaby. So, why do the Canadian politicians make a show of baiting the Lankan government and calling for “a meaningful accountability process”, (implying that Sri Lanka has done nothing) while in practice they refuse to cooperate in the “meaningful process”?
It seems that this is good local politics, given the strong, well-organized voter strength of pro-LTTE diaspora groups in some of Canada’s electorates where the two main parties are neck to neck! But taking sides with parts of the Sri Lankan diaspora against the Sri Lankan government does not help “reconciliation”.
TWO: George Rupesinghe from Sydney, 20 May 2020
I have addressed the appended email to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada inresponse to his message to Sri Lanka on the anniversary of the victory over the LTTE for a “meaningful accountability process” of the closing stages of the war. Please add your voice to this [in order] to drive the point that it is high time the Canadian Government stopped kowtowing to LTTE terrorist elements for their own narrow electoral purposes.
If you wish to make a similar protest to the Canadian PM, this can be done through this link: Contact the Prime Minister | Prime Minister of Canada
Sincerely, George Rupesinghe ………….. Sydney, Australia
To Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
The timing of your message to the Sri Lanka Government calling for a “meaningful Accountability process” has all the hallmarks of your Government’s subservience to the vocal Tamil community in Canada who exercise a sizeable electoral clout and to whose demands you distressingly Give in. Did you also participate in Tamil Genocide Day initiated by Mayor John Tory of Toronto last year?
The stability of Sri Lanka is constantly being undermined by LTTE terrorist elements still active in Canada and elsewhere. It was their money, their direction and execution that killed thousands, including the bombing of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Government has advised Canada of the names of these culprits.
I strongly suggest you display the fortitude of advising these elements that their time and energies are more productively spent on working on the progress of their adopted country rather than continuing to fan the flames of discord in the land of their birth.
EDITOR Thuppahi’s Note on Edward Said via Wikipedia …. …………………. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orientalism_(book)
Orientalism is a 1978 book by Edward W. Said, in which the author developed the idea of “Orientalism” to define the West‘s historically patronizing representations of “The East“—the societies and peoples who inhabit the places of Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. Said argued that Orientalism, in the sense of the Western scholarship about the Eastern World, is inextricably tied to the imperialist societies who produced it, which makes much Orientalist work inherently political and servile to power.
According to Said, in the Middle East, the social, economic, and cultural practices of the ruling Arab elites indicate they are imperial satraps who have internalized the romanticized “Arab Culture” created by French, British and, later, American Orientalists; the examples include critical analyses of the colonial literature of Joseph Conrad, which conflates a people, a time, and a place into a narrative of incident and adventure in an exotic land.
The critical application of post-structuralism in the scholarship of Orientalism influenced the development of literary theory, cultural criticism, and the field of Middle Eastern studies, especially regarding how academics practice their intellectual inquiry when examining, describing, and explaining the Middle East. The scope of Said’s scholarship established Orientalism as a foundation text in the field of post-colonial culture studies, which examines the denotations and connotations of Orientalism, and the history of a country’s post-colonial period.
As a public intellectual, Edward Said debated Orientalism with historians and scholars of area studies, notably, the historian Bernard Lewis, who described the thesis of Orientalism as “anti-Western“. For subsequent editions of Orientalism, Said wrote an “Afterword” (1995) and a “Preface” (2003) addressing criticisms of the content, substance, and style of the work as cultural criticism.
Edward Said: Orientalism, 1978
C. A. Bayly: Empire and Information, Delhi: Cambridge UP, 1999
Robert Irwin: For Lust of Knowing: The Orientalists and Their Enemies, London: Allen Lane, 2006.
Bernard Lewis: “The Question of Orientalism”, Islam and the West, London, 1993
G. Prakash: “Orientalism Now,” History and Theory, 1995, VOL 34 (3): 199–200
Michael Roberts: “Ethnicity after Edward Said: Post-orientalist failures in comprehending the Kandyan period of Lankan history. Ethnic Studies Report, 19(1), 69-98.
Narendran, Rajasingham: “Harsh Ground Realities in War: Decomposing Bodies and Missing Persons and Soldiers,” 28 January 2014, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/11702/
Noble, Kath 2013b “Numbers Game reviewed by Kath Noble: The Full Monty,” 14 July 2013, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2013/07/14/numbers-game-reviewed-by-kath-noble-the-full-monty/
Paranagama 2015 Report on the Second Mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Complaints of Abductions and Disappearances, August 2015
Michael Roberts: “Generating Calamity, 2008-2014: An Overview of Tamil Nationalist Operations and Their Marvels,” 10 April 2014, http://groundviews.org/2014/04/10/generating-calamity-2
Michael Roberts: Tamil Person and State. Essays, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014
Michael Roberts: Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014
Michael Roberts: “Targeting Sri Lanka by playing ball with Tamil Extremism,”24 July 2015, https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/wpadmin/post.php?post=17127&action=edit&postpost=v2
Michael Roberts: “Ambassador Blake in Never-Never-Land: Misreading LTTE Capacity in Early 2009,” 26 August 2015,https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2015/08/26/ambassador-blake-in-never-never-land-misreading-ltte-capacity-in-early-2009/
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