Friday, June 8, 2007


It's ethnic cleansing, it's barbaric, it's simple.

When I started blogging I had no intention of ever posting about the Sri Lankan political situation.

This is terrible though. Whether it's 376 people or not, whatever is going on in the Country, this is simply a gross violation of Human rights.

Comment, post, blog, talk, just voice your opinion about it.



Excelsoir said...

IMO - and don't shoot me - it was the right thing to do. The reason is that almost all suicide bombers in Sri Lanka have stayed at these lodges and I'm sure you're aware of how many innocent people have died as a result of their strikes. While it may seem unfair for those 300 people who were evicted, it is not for the 600 000+ others who call Colombo home and want to be safe from bomb attacks. It is completely wrong to call it ethnic cleansing considering that there are around 120 000 Tamils in Colombo - around 30% of the population of Colombo. Sinhalese are actually a minority in the city. That 300 Tamils were evicted but none the other 120 000 were touched does not even remotely suggest ethnic cleansing. Please stop spreading misinformation.

Anonymous said...

This is the the Justification for Tamil Eelam. Thing will never change in Sri Lanka. Lets stop everyones suffering and go for a split.

ravana said...

I can't believe a sane sounding person like Excelsior just said that. These are innocent people, until proven guilty.

What the government did was WRONG and illegal under the constitution of Sri Lanka. It is a clear violation of the human rights of a person as guaranteed by the constitution. The law exists to offer clarity when a call has to be made, and to protect the innocent. This action was illegal and is morally wrong.

It is also a stupid action. These people are now going to go back to the North East. Disillusioned, jobless, angry. How long do you think it will be before they are recruited by the LTTE, forcible or otherwise. As, Aadhavan said, "you do the math."

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

excelsoir - I shan't shoot you, you sound intelligent and you are perfectly entitled to your opinion. However I think your opinion is total bollocks actually. If it's true that "almost all suicide bombers in Sri Lanka have stayed at these lodges" (something I am prepared to accept although I don't know it to be true), then it is not necessarily the case that all occupants of the lodges are potential suicide bombers. Surely you remember venn diagrams from school.

And yes, I think it is ethnic cleansing, the removal of people or persons based on ethnicity. It may have only been 300 or so people but if the Supreme Court hadn't stopped it how many more would this have happened to?

Surely the GOSL has scored a massive own goal by effectively acknowledging that the North East is a separately controlled territory too. It has maintained its stance that it wants a unified Sri Lanka yet given a clear signal to all that it considers the North East to be different to Colombo.

"Misinformation" - yeah right.

Ravana - I fully agree with you. Incredible that people can hold such views!

Excelsoir said...

I would like the opportunity to reply to "Ravana." Unfortunately I do not agree with him at all. You see, despite a 'ceasefire,' Sri Lanka is at war. The LTTE has been and is infiltrating Colombo. Thanks to the liberal policies practiced by the previous adminstration under Ranil, the LTTE was given a free reign to roam anywhere it wanted. Colombo is probably teeming with LTTE cadres, and they have successfully carried out numerous attacks in the capital city of the country. Isn't it about time a stop was put to this? I certainly think so.

While not all Tamils are LTTE cadres, all LTTE cadres are Tamil (leave aside one or two Sinhalese and Muslims). Thus it may be unfortunate and unfair, but the Tamil community IS under suspicion just like Muslims are in the USA and Europe. This is nothing personal I think, but since there has been to outcry against the activities of the LTTE by the Tamil community at large, it leaves the rest of Sri Lankans with deep seated suspicions towards the Tamil community. This can certainly be argued to be unjustified but what I am pointing out is that it exists and it is real.

Colombo is the biggest city in the country. It is the defacto capital and terror attacks take place here they have severe and deleterious effects on the economy. This is where tourists first step off, this is where the Colombo port is, and this is where all the big businesses are situated. The government, IMO, should take all means necessary to stop terror attacks from taking place, and if this means closing down these suspicious lodges (which have a HORRENDOUS record when it comes to suicide bombers) then so be it. I am not going to complain.

Similarly what the government did to the JVP was "illegal" and "morally wrong" too. I don't know about you but killing so many Sri Lankan youth doesn't sit well with me. But the end result was that the JVP uprising was crushed and the JVP's reign of terror was ended. Few will really complain about what the government did today.

I do feel sorry for those evicted people, but would I feel the same if I knew that, say, 20 of them were hardcore LTTE cadres, suicide bombers whom the lodge owners knowingly provided refuge to? I don't think so.

There are many in the "Sinhala south" who are "disillusioned, jobless and angry" too. Spare a thought for them also. It is only fair.

drac said...

Excelsior, accomplishes what, precisely?

a) If Colombo is chockful of the LTTE as you say (and I have no reason to disbelieve you), then removing transients from their lodging will not solve the problem of randomly exploding suicide bombers.

b) The Tamil community may be under suspicion as you say but suspicion and proven guilt are two entirely different things. I may secretly suspect you are Santa Claus, but asking you for presents in December probably isn't going to work :)

c) Colombo is the defacto capital but the attacks on Galle and the bus bombings outside Colombo had a similar depressing effect on the economy and tourism. Tourists don't stay in Colombo, mate. They travel around, down south and other places.

d) If the lodges have a horrendous record for housing suicide bombers, (sheesh. I've seen some of those places. You'd think the LTTE can afford something a bit better for someone exploding in their name, wouldn't you?) then by all means have people register with the police (wait. that already happens?!). This was just randomly picking people because they were Tamil and busing them outside the city.

Accomplishing what? I don't think they wanted the free bus ride.

I'm trying to be pragmatic here. Assuming I buy into all your other arguments... The only reason people don't complain as much about the actions during the JVP era was because the burning tire necklace shite ultimately worked. Do you have any such guarantee that shipping random people out of Colombo will stop suicide bombing?

Are you trying to say that if we keep shipping Tamils out of the city often enough, eventually we'll get all of those pesky suicide bombers? With the fallout from this little stunt, a bomb in Colombo now will be doubly embarassing for everyone concerned.

On the other hand, do you see the irreparable damage an action like this has on the elected government? Last time I checked, we were still the liberal democracy fighting the terrorists. When did that change?

I'm not a security expert. Perhaps someone looked at this from that viewpoint and thought it was a fair tradeoff. I personally disagree. For me, this sort of price for some (probably imaginary) security from suicide bombers is too high.

Beatrice Hannah said...

As an outsider living in Sri Lanka I came with no knowledge or preconceptions about the situation here.

Having spent more than a year living with a muslim landlady, sharing quarters with a sinhala Dr and working with mixed Sinahala and Tamil colleagues I have seen how Sri Lanka can be, people living and working together peacefully.

Then I start to see how unequal society is from the consitution down through to staffing of the local government offices, and education offered in schools.

I have seen the fear on my colleagues faces as they wait to find out if relatives have managed to get out of Colombo safely, and have seen children lying on the ground with guns pointed at their heads at a checkpoint.

I have also seen how the families of those with loved ones in the forces live from news bulletin to news bulletin, in a state of fear, and the sister of a bus driver wondering if he was the one who died doing his job that morning.

Surely the people of Sri Lanka need to decide if they want to treat everyone equally or live in a divided state. Treating one group of people as secondary to another (for example removing people from their capital city because of their ethnicity) within the country will never lead to any kind of solution.

And until everyone in Sri Lanka recognises the reallity of the situation as far as I can see everyone suffers. (sorry if this is too long)

Darwin said...

I'd just like to butt in because of the 'it's only 300' comment I saw. How many people do you need to forcibly evict for it to be called ethnic cleansing? Even one is bad. Only 300 is hardly justification for saying it's not ethnic cleansing.

galleblogger said...

stay a bit more beatrice, you ain't seen nuffin yet! more shite will come don't worry and every time it gets worse and worse. paradise for some, hell for the majority (especially if u r tamil). disgusting, i feel like vomiting/what a fucked up place, in all aspects: social (castes, discrimination, racism etc), religious (monks in parliament, fake buddhism, intolerance etc.), political (list is too long here...), economical (a joke of an economy really), national (war), international (what kind of reputation?!!?), ecological (airport in weerawila, ports in rumassala etc), security (another joke) and now? deportation, refugee camps, idps (in hundreds of thousands), killings, abductions.
solutions? zilch.
action? zilch.
what to do? loads.
this last thing has pissed me off so much it's unbelievable to the point that after 7 yrs here i've really had enough. there is a limit, they have passed it. they can all go to hell, sayonara, adios.

sittingnut said...

curious how some ppl get into hysterical exaggerations when dealing with this.
sri lanka is at war, accumulation of large number of ppl without identification or a reason for their stay is a security risk. they may not be terrorists, but they are a good cover under which ltte can infiltrate the city, to deny that is to live in a fantasy world.

its is duty of the police to prevent terrorist attacks, and prevent loss of life . as such they have to deal with above situation according to law

as this is a new measure, law will have to be determined by the court ( as it is now in the process of doing )

this sort of pushing the boundary of law is common with security apparatus in most democratic countries ( whether it be wire tapping , period of detention, cc tv etc ). so is the appeal to courts to clarify the law.

to go from this not so extraordinary situation, to hysterical exaggerations ( including claims of ethnic cleansing) is simply absurd .

this is after all not the first time this happened. as far as blogs go april 2006 was just such a period. too bad most of the exaggerating bloggers have dropped from the view.

hopefully present lot will be available for ridicule when their claims prove false

ravana said...

So, Excelsior, if I understand your last comment correctly, you are saying that because the innocent unemployed Tamil youths in Colombo lodges fit the profile of suicide bombers their fundamental rights should be violated in the interest of security in the capital.

That is a disastrous position to take for many reasons. Some of them are listed below.

1. Suicide bombers are the symptom, not the disease. The disease is the feeling of alienation that Tamil Sri Lankans feel, which is why some of them want a separate state. Discriminating in this manner will only fuel that feeling of not being Sri Lankan, which translates into more suicide bombers in the long run. It's like the US going into Iraq and fucking things up because they want to stop Islamist terrorism. It's only going to fuel the fire.

2. Racial profiling while discriminatory, is arguably effective. However, it should be only used to ascertain the most likely candidates. However, in no way can those candidates' rights be violated outside of the judicial process, and until proven guilty they must be afforded the rights given to every other citizen. The government ignored due process.

3. Your suggested action breaks the law. Do you believe in the rule of law? If you don't, we can get into reams of discussion about why the rule of law is important. It's a fascinating new discovery, you know. About the same time as civilization. All the kids are using it.

The government action to suspend the fundamental rights of these citizens in this case was not proportional to the security risk that they posed. Hence, the Supreme Court interim order. When Premadasa violated human rights in 87-89, he did so because the situation was pretty fucked when he came into power and if he did not do something drastic, the country would have disintegrated. There were TWO wars when he came into power. One in the North, and one in the South. When Mahinda Rajapaksa came into power, there was no war. In fact, he came into power after three years of peace. The only three years of peace this country has had in over 25 years. His government's human rights violations are not proportional to the situation at all.

And as for your last paragraph, what does the unemployed Sinhala youth have to do with anything?

Anonymous said...

this is not ethnic cleansing this is preventative measures to ensure there is no massive scale bombing like the central bank bombing. If such a bombing were to occur again you all would be the first to say the govt failed to safeguard the masses. So the govt is damned if they do and damned if they do not. When the LTTE gave the hundrends of thousands of muslims just 24 hours to clear the area and vacate their homes no one raised a mumur of protest at that ethnic cleansing. When the muslims were praying at a mosque in Katankudy were brutally annihilated by the LTTE where were the voices against that act of ethnic cleansing by the LTTE. When the buddhists at prayer in Anuradhapura were massaccred by the LTTE why were there no accusations of ethnic cleansing. These were all unprovoked incidents by the lTTE to ethnically cleanse those areas. This time the GOVT has taken preventative action and there is so much drama.

Anonymous said...

"Forceful eviction of lodgers" - a deliberate misinterpretation of the truth- IGP
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Victor Perera yesterday (08th) rejected the allegations made by certain political elements that the police had forcibly evicted Tamil people from Colombo lodges on Thursday (07th).

After a special discussion held with the Colombo police chiefs at the Police headquarters, IGP told media that people who are making these allegations have either misunderstood the process or deliberately misinterpreting the truth. The IGP further said that he had summoned all the inspectors in charge of Colombo police stations and inquired into the matter; but found no evidence on such forceful expulsion.

The government on Thursday (07th) provided safe transportation to 376 people out of over 20,000 Tamil lodgers living in Colombo to their homes in North and East. The IGP explained that these people had expressed consent to go home if free transportation was provided. Some lodgers have indicated that they would have to pocket out at least Rs. 15000 as transport cost for them and for their belongings.

Explaining the backdrop of the situation the IGP told that the government had to take this decision for the safety of millions of innocent people living in Colombo and its suburbs. The Island Capital has been targeted for terrorist attacks since the LTTE began its bloody campaign in 1983. Thousands of innocent civilians were killed and tens of thousands were injured in many indiscriminate attacks using vehicle bombs, suicide bombers and roadside mines. Further, such attacks have had devastating effect on the country's economy at large.

IGP Victor Perera said that recent events have shown that the LTTE terrorists are operating without much difficulty with in the Colombo. On going police investigations into many terrorist activities have also shown that the perpetrators of such attacks had been operating from lodges. Thus, the growing security concerns have compelled the police to focus its attention on lodgers who are having extended stay for no valid reason and those who could not prove their identity. learnt that Police taking similar security measures to reduce potential terrorist threats to a country's capital is nothing uncommon or unusual for any country. Particularly, after the two bomb attacks at Pettah and Rathmalana that killed seven innocent civilians and three security forces' personnel, no government can be expected to further delay stringent defensive action against terrorism.

The shocking discovery of the lorry bomb carrying over 1000Kg of high explosive at Nikawaratiya last week shown the extent of brutality that the LTTE was planning to bring in to the South. One explosive expert told that the bomb was five times larger than the one exploded near the Central Bank in 1996. The LTTE killed 186 civilians and injured over 300 people in that particular attack.

The IGP told that the police have the authority to arrest any person under the Public Security Ordnance who cannot prove his /her identity. Earlier, the police have conducted many search and arrest operations without harassing any of the Tamil civilians permanently living in the Colombo city. The suspects were detained and questioned at Booosa camp and those who found innocent were later released. learnt that the earlier practice was also highly criticised by some of the "rights" groups as discriminatory. However, these "rights" groups who rarely speak about the rights of the terror victims, blamed the government for 'ethnic cleansing"; when such people on their request, were given free transportation to their homes.

The Supreme Court responding to a petition filed by a "right" group named "Centre for Policy Alternatives and Independent Think Tank" on Friday (08th) ordered the government to immediately stop the process.

Meanwhile, on the same day (08th ) President's office in a statement said that President Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered a detail report on the issue. The president has given his directions to the relevant authorities to find out any irregularities happened during the process.

drac said...

RD and Darwin, I would respectfully disagree with your use of the term "ethnic cleansing" in this context.

It in no way detracts my opposition to the now overturned decision to evict those people; but I think the phrase is being inappropriately used in an inflammatory sense.

For starters, see if any if the definitions and examples given in [1] fit. As far as I can see, they do not.

Secondly, note how the Wikipedia term for ethnic cleansing has been vandalised (start here [2]). Note in particular that each of the usernames making edits is suspected to be the same person :)

If you read the paper I linked and still insist on calling the incident ethnic cleansing (as opposed to an apparent overzealous police officer who overstepped his bounds), then fair enough. We can agree to disagree.


Ami said...

Excelsoir, I don’t agree with everything you say but you do have some valid points.
To call this ethnic cleansing is simply ludicrous. Before we call it many politically correct sounding names let’s talk about some legitimate concerns.
Everyone keeps mentioning “unemployed Tamil youths from the north”
If so, how exactly did these Tamils survive in cmb? Paid rent & amenities?

Agree with some of sittingnut’s thoughts too.

It’s complete double standard by the west, in this instance by the US as usual, to pressure SL in this matter when they are harassing, detaining, & suspicious of anyone wearing a turban. Talk about hypocrisy!
The govt must have had justification in carrying out the eviction & as anonymous said we could take it on its face value & call it necessary preventative measure.
Still, I do not think its right to forcibly send a group of people to a war zone. They could have sent the people elsewhere in the country. not the war zone.

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Drac et al - On reflection perhaps "ethnic cleansing" is too harsh a term to use for this "incident". However, it does seem that people of one race, and only that race, were removed from these lodges. The basis for their selection looks to be their race and the fact that they were staying in lodges.

I cannot see that this, which in my book is a definite violation of human rights, considering none were tried let alone found guilty of any crime. As for the stories of people being "helped" to move back to the north east because they couldn't afford to do it themselves, well I am just slightly cynical.

"Preventative measures" must be taken to prevent terrorist attacks but it is where boundaries are drawn that is the area for debate. If all people, whatever race, were removed from Colombo, there would be no terrorist attacks at all, apart from those ones done by planes flying down undetected from the north, but no one is suggesting this because it's ludicrous. I just don't agree with any discriminatory act against a race, whatever the race is, under the cover of doing it for the greater good.

Ami - For the record I am fundamentally opposed to any acts involving harassment of a race, whether it's in the US, the UK or Sri Lanka. Just because it happens in Western countries doesn't make it acceptable.

poojitha said...

Hi One more thing, I couldn’t find a post in your blog about the plight faced by 30000 farmers when LTTE closed the Mavilaru reservoir,when i red your blog i see you as a person who wants to protect human rights,so i’m sure you have covered the Mavilaru incident as well,could you please post the link agaist that incident….good daY

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Poojitha - well done mate, you've well and truly sussed me out and cleverly pinpointed some tactical errors in my post. In future I'll check with you before I put posts up!

Thanks for reading.

sittingnut said...

"The basis for their selection looks to be their race and the fact that they were staying in lodges. "
this seems to be the main argument. it is false. it was clear that given there are hundreds of thousand of tamils in colombo, there are 15000+ tamils in lodges , and 5000 in lodges examined that day, there was other grounds for selection. are they secret ? no, they are lack of identification and their lack of a reason to stay here.

avoidance of that and focusing on ethnicity is not justified and smacks of exaggeration and cynicism.

as for curtailment of rights, that is common to all laws( security or otherwise)here or elsewhere . applicability and validity of laws will be determined by the courts.

i or you cannot travel down some street in colombo bc of security . is that a curtailment of my rights? yes but is that legitimate? again yes. since courts have not ruled against that. this is so even though i was not convicted of any crime.

so to argue that this incident is anything more than a security measure( stupid may be but that is a subjective judgment. and it is police that will be best qualified to judge it's efficacy and they who have to answer for bombs ) by which ppl from north east without identification and reason to stay were prevented from staying in colombo is to exaggerate.

it is novel measure as such its legality should be determined by court ( as it is doing) . such measures testing the law come before courts all the time. that is why there are specific legal processes for that here and in all democracies. and it works here. even less reason to exaggerate.