Letters to the Editor

4th November 2001

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Let us respect each other's diversity

We do have an ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. Some people debate and fight over it without knowing the root causes for it. Some quote history to support their arguments.

We know there was an ancient kingdom in Sri Lanka which did trade and had other dealings with foreign countries. This is evident from the fact that even foreign writers called us the Granary of the East. As to who was responsible for such international links I will not venture to say, but leave it to the scholars. 

We do, however, know that Tamils are a distinct population in Sri Lanka and a powerful minority. We also know that they live mainly in that part of Sri Lanka which is just 30 miles from Madras or Tamil Nadu, India. They closely guard their culture which is similar to that of the Tamils in Madras. We must respect this rich cultural discipline and character of these Sri Lankans. The Sinhalese live in the south with distinct characteristics of their own, sans any affinity to a population outside Sri Lanka.

Thousands of Tamils mingle with and do business with the Sinhalese in the south but only a handful or no Sinhalese at all do so in Jaffna.

Whatever history may tell us, we have to live or learn to live with the Tamil community. We also have to cope with a Sinhalese majority who lives with a minority complex. Here is my perspective on the ethnic problem. 

Just grievances of the Tamils over the years

* Having to pass the 7th standard test in Sinhala for promotions in the public sector.

* Facing the standardization principle of selection to enter the universities.

* Not being able to read letters in Sinhala from the public sector nor being able to read a verdict given against them by court.

* Many more grievances especially due to the Sinhala Only policy.

How the Sinhalese treated the Tamils

* The Sinhalese did not treat the Tamils the way some world communities treated the Jews, that is with hatred. Jews were beaten up and killed whenever or wherever they were seen in public.

* Do not our Tamil brothers and sisters walk the streets of Colombo or even in the deep south with ash and pottus prominently displayed on their foreheads (no offence meant, only to distinguish Tamils from Sinhalese) without being harmed by the Sinhalese?

* Do not Tamils from the north build houses in the heart of Colombo, engaging Tamil labourers from Jaffna, who cannot speak a word of Sinhalese, without being harmed? This happened then, and this happens now. Can the average Sinhalese do the same today?

* Western countries are told fabricated stories of atrocities committed by the Sinhalese on Tamils. 

Pre- 1983 Black July - 

There were sporadic ethnic uprisings that erupted spontaneously in various parts of the country against Tamils. These were promoted by extremist elements. No one could or should condone them. 

Black July 1983- 

1983 July is a shameful black mark for the Sinhalese. They will have to carry this shame for years to come.

Can anyone deny that this onslaught against the Tamils was from a well-organized group of people? A group who carried out the command of the hierarchy. This group had a different agenda. But the killing of 13 Sinhala soldiers triggered an onslaught on the Tamils who were innocent. This group thought they did it for a good cause and spurred the Sinhala extremist element against the Tamils.

1983 July stands out in Sri Lanka's history as an isolated incident which has had no parallel.

July 1983 is used by a section of the Tamils as a cause which is very clear. Several incidents designed to provoke Sinhalese have been without success. 

There were no major Sinhala- Tamil riots after July 1983. Why? Fear of the Tamil suicide bomber? No. People go on with their business as usual. Sinhalese travel to their workplaces all over the country. They throng to public meetings, to places of worship with no fear, but always alert for cowardly and brainwashed suicide bombers. Terror and untruth will not succeed. Truth will succeed in the end.

Oscar E.V. Fernando
Colombo 6.

Damn the blessed!

* Blessed are those who secure power through false promises, for they shall amass wealth and riches that neither the common folk can hardly notice nor the tax officials can lay hands on.

* Blessed are the ignorant for they shall inherit the right to govern and suppress the wise and the learned.

* Blessed are you when you take the law into your hands, court the underworld to achieve your objectives, for your rise to the top of the political ladder is swift and trouble- free.

* Blessed are the blind and lame in spirit and in intellect for ye shall lead the masses up the garden path. 

* Blessed are those who bury their past misdeeds and pose as paragons of virtue for theirs is this earthly kingdom to plunder and pillage. 

* Blessed are you when you character assassinate and vilify your rivals for you shall be hero-worshipped by the fools who bloat your ego. 

* Blessed are you when your followers dump you at the earliest opportunity they get for a better reward awaits you in the guise of a fat pension and "fringe" benefits you would have put to good use during your fateful reign. 

Ananda Perera 

More please?

Many goodies have been handed over by the government recently. There is an allowance to public servants and pensioners, removal of diesel tax, casual labour being made permanent and farmer debts being cancelled. 

President Chandrika Kumaratunga is one for surprises. In the last budget the licence fees for radios and TVs too were waived. 

However the hardship of the people is overwhelming now. This is an earnest request to take off the GST on the water tax. After all water is essential for people. The government should also consider removing the GST on electricity and telephones. 


Who is accountable for this account?

The manager of the People's Bank, Nugegoda is reported to have confirmed that a current account had been opened in the joint names of T.G.R.P. Pradinandis and W.Weerawansha in 1994. He has explained that this account is the party account of the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna.

It has also been reported that Mr. Weerawansha has claimed that this account is financed by the salaries of the JVP's public representatives - that the cheques deposited are those received in respect of their salaries.

For the public to believe this, a number of questions have to be answered by the bank.

1. What is the document that is in the bank's possession to prove that this joint account is the account of the JVP?

2. It is not banking practice to open accounts for associations/societies/clubs etc. in the personal name of the office bearers. Such accounts must be opened and operated strictly as provided for by the constitution/rules of the association/club/society. For the bank to claim that this joint account is the JVP account, did the bank call for the constitution of the JVP and if so, what are the provisions for the management of JVP funds?

3. Will the bank confirm that the constitution of the JVP provides for T.G.R.P. Pradinandis and W. Weerawansha to open an account for the JVP in their personal names?

4. What were the operating instructions given to the bank regarding this account? To be operated by both of them jointly or either one of them?

5. If it was both of them, who signed the cheques after Pradinandis ceased to be the financial secretary?

6. If it was by either one of them, is there any account in the People's Bank where the funds of an association/club/society are handled by one person under his name?

7. Usually official cheques are drawn to "order" and crossed "A/c Payee". Were any cheques crossed "A/c Payee", drawn in favour of others, collected to this account? If so, what were the credit instructions on the cheques and by whom were such instructions given?

W.R. de Silva

Water remedy to fight sting

When I was in England recently, a Spanish friend was expressing his desire to visit Sri Lanka.

My sisters cautioned him about the mosquito menace. 

He however said Spain too had a lot of mosquitoes but it was not a problem.

All they do is hang a clear polythene bag full of water at the entrance to the house. 

Since I returned I have done this and mine is now a mosquito-free, coil-free house even during power cuts. It is amazing!

My friend will be happy to hear how his simple solution has helped us.

Seetha Wanigatunga
Mount Lavinia

A way out of violence,noise

With elections round the corner, there is no doubt that violence will be rampant. It is starting now and perhaps there will be many deaths before December 5. Even the candidates are not safe. 

The only solution seems to be to scrap all political meetings and let the candidates reach out to the people through the electronic media. They could also distribute pamphlets on party policy. Then all of us will be safe and also free of the blaring loud speakers.

Mali Fonseka
Mount Lavinia

Peace, freedom are only for Americans!

It's oppression, exploitation, injustice and death. This is about a nation that is so enraged by the killing of more than 6000 of its civilians that it expects the whole world to join in a retaliatory mission to bomb a poor nation, already devastated by war, back to the stone age. 

An unbiased person who has the ability to understand the injustice in the Middle East would realise that the attacks against the US were fuelled by the continued oppression of Muslims in the West Bank and Gaza, Iraq, Afghanistan and Chechnya. The cruelty of the men who attacked the US can be explained by the cruelty of the Americans. The US - despite its efforts to cut an image as a 'honest broker' is Israel's ally. The tragedy in the Middle East is due to continuous US support of Israel, which shoots down Palestinians in the streets of the occupied territories. Israel meets the threat of stone-throwing young men with guns, tanks and missiles. 

US President George Bush holds Bin Laden responsible for the September 11 attacks, without any concrete evidence. The other day, Bush said that Bin Laden is an 'evil man,. Bush should recall that when his country backed Israel's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 over 17,000 civilians were killed in two months. Is he not aware that as a result of the US economic sanctions against Iraq over 50,000 children have died and more continue to die? Has Bush been thinking along the lines of Madeleine Albright, former US Secretary of State, who commenting on the plight of Iraqi children said: "We think the price is worth it"? Is it part of Bush's 'peaceful' nation's policy to starve children of poor nations to death? Do children of other nations have to die to uphold the American way of life?

History tells us that on August 1945 an atomic bomb - with love from the US - was dropped in Hiroshima, leaving 130,000 dead, injured or missing and 177,000 homeless. Three days later another atomic bomb was dropped in Nagasaki which destroyed one-third of the city, leaving 66,000 dead. How can we forget what the American cowboys did in Vietnam. It is estimated that two million Vietnamese were killed, three million wounded, hundreds of thousands of children orphaned and 12 million left as refugees. Currently, Bush's 'boys' are doing a great job in Afghanistan - thanks to the spineless rulers of the Muslim world, bombarding civilian apartment blocks and calling it a mistake!

Why hasn't the US-the so called staunchest supporter of human rights- still not signed the Hague Convention? Because if it does it would have to arrest many of its own politicians and military commanders and hand them over 'unconditionally' to the International Court of Justice!

Peace and freedom are exclusively for America and its citizens. The oppressed men, women and children in Afghanistan, Palestine, Iraq and Chechnya enraged by the sheer injustice of their lot only understand violence, murder and terrorism. 

M.I. Haniffa 

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