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War in Sri Lanka
February 13, 2009 7:44 AM   Subscribe

If you didn't know, there is a war going on in Sri Lanka. Jailed journalist Jayampathy Wickramaratne discusses what a political solution to the conflict might entail. Noam Chomsky offers up his opinions on the war and its eventual aftermath. Want to hear from some Tamils? MIA offers up her take on the situation. And in a very precient article from May of last year, D.B.S Jeyaraj discusses the LTTE at 32.

The editorial on the war was written by Canadian politician Bob Rae, who has been to Sri Lanka to help with discussions on a federal solution to the countries problems. The first two interviews were posted online in the past couple days. Jayampathy Wickramaratne is in jail now, and has been for some time. The MIA post is from a week or so back. She's been bringing up the war a lot in interviews about her Grammy and Oscar nominations. The D.B.S. Jeyaraj article is a little older, but very interesting.
posted by chunking express (18 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
The war is all but over, isn't it? I hope the Sri Lankan government behaves decently, but realistically they're not going to offer a bunch of vicious terrorists a negotiated political solution when they've just achieved a military one.

Chomsky: Well, I don’t feel that I have a profound enough knowledge of the details to offer a confident opinion.

If only he'd stopped there.
posted by Phanx at 8:36 AM on February 13, 2009


Tamil rights? They have the same rights as any Sri Lankan citizen. What they dont get is their own homeland. People dont have a right to a homeland, and killing 70,000 people in a civil war didnt help.

Oh, a pop star and Noam Chomsky approve! The cult of personality here is sickening.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:45 AM on February 13, 2009


Tamil rights? They have the same rights as any Sri Lankan citizen

Shit. Someone better let them know!
posted by chunking express at 8:57 AM on February 13, 2009


Tamil rights? They have the same rights as any Sri Lankan citizen.

Horse shit. The Sinhalese government oppresses the shit out of the Tamils. From university admission policies to display of language, etc.
posted by gman at 8:59 AM on February 13, 2009


What they dont get is their own homeland. People dont have a right to a homeland, and killing 70,000 people in a civil war didnt help.

Sorry, all that reading you did about Israel isn't really transferable.
posted by phrontist at 9:05 AM on February 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


They have the same rights as any Sri Lankan citizen.

Except in reality the Tamils are second-class citizens. Many Sinhalese, including influential Buddhist monks, believe that Sri Lanka, as a supremely important site in the origin and conservation of Theravada Buddhism, ought to be reserved strictly for Buddhists, and that the Hindu Tamils are foreign contaminants whose presence sullies the "holy land". The island needs a good ethnic cleansing to restore its Buddha-blessed glory, the idea goes.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 9:07 AM on February 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Aren't the Sinhalese like the only Buddhists to have completely lost the plot and adhere to a caste system?
posted by gman at 9:10 AM on February 13, 2009


The war is all but over, isn't it?

I think the government is going to take the rest of Jaffna within the next couple months. I sincerely doubt that will mark the end of the war. Chances are we'll see a return to the way things were in the late 70s early 80s. The government needs to address the grievances of the Tamil people, otherwise you won't have a viable solution to the conflict. And even if you don't think they have anything to complain about, so long as they do, there isn't going to be an end to the war.
posted by chunking express at 9:18 AM on February 13, 2009


I personally haven't run into any Sinhalese people who are anti-Tamil or who support systemic oppression of the Tamil people. In Colombo, many Tamil and Sinhalese communities exist in harmony and frequently intermarry. Most of my parents' friends are Tamil. Many of my relatives are married to Tamils. Tamil people held many important posts in government and industry. Were many Sinhalese complicit or directly involved in oppression? Absolutely. Both sides were incited by populist rhetoric that was wielded by their leaders in a cynical attempt to grab and keep power. Prabhakaran is/was just as bad as Mahinda or any other corrupt Sinhalese leader. This is a war with no good guys, except for those people who risked their lives to question their leaders, and those others who continued to quietly live their lives without giving in to communal prejudice.
posted by sid at 9:24 AM on February 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


sid, if you read the Jeyaraj article, it's basically all about how the LTTE fucked up, how Prabhakaran has been a horrible leader, etc.
posted by chunking express at 9:33 AM on February 13, 2009


Thanks for the excellent post, chunking express. I've been hoping to make a good Sri Lanka post since so much is going on and the mainstream media hasn't really been paying attention. Unfortunately I haven't really been keeping up, as the situation in the country seems to be getting worse rather than better and it's just too depressing. We've even made it onto the list of failed states. It used to be such a promising little island.
posted by sid at 9:40 AM on February 13, 2009


M.I.A. has a personal interest in this, since her father is a member of the Tamil Tigers.
posted by mike3k at 10:35 AM on February 13, 2009


mike3k, her father was a founding member of EROS, which doesn't exist anymore. And was more about marxism then shooting people. Don't get all your news from pitchfork dude.
posted by chunking express at 11:32 AM on February 13, 2009


... The Sinhalese community – the majority population – took power after the departure of the British in 1949 and over a long period made a series of disastrous decisions...

Interesting way to put it - on one hand the term "disastrous decisions" tries not to offend and makes it seem like innocent mistakes made by some bumbling bureaucrats, but on the other hand it prevents the reader from realizing that these decisions weren't innocent but rather very deliberate.

But I guess Bob Rae has to watch his words, whether it be for his political aspirations or whether he wants to avoid sabotaging his work and the work of his peers and colleagues by appearing to be one-sided.
posted by bitteroldman at 12:38 PM on February 13, 2009


Horse shit. The Sinhalese government oppresses the shit out of the Tamils. From university admission policies to display of language, etc.

Yes, they treat the Tamils almost as badly as the LTTE.
posted by mobunited at 3:19 PM on February 13, 2009


I've been interested in how this had been seen from afar. The media I look at have uniformly reported on an impending victory, a Sinhalese win, with large attendant civilian casualties. I'm in Ireland, and so there is little local need to filter or even care very much for most people. Why have we not been hearing anything of the Tamils? Its looked like a carefully managed atrocity from the outside.
posted by stonepharisee at 3:44 PM on February 13, 2009


People dont have a right to a homeland....

A bold answer to a rather tricky question in political philosophy. Does a people have a right to self-determination? Answering that question, and even defining the bolded terms, is not as straightforward as you seem to imply it might be.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:50 PM on February 13, 2009


US Senate discusses Sri Lanka right now.

HRW report on Sri Lanka.
posted by chunking express at 12:06 PM on February 24, 2009


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