Underreported: Government Abuses in Sri Lanka

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Unlawful killings, disappearances, and crackdowns on press freedom have been intensifying in Sri Lanka over the last year, as major conflicts between Sri Lanka's government and Tamil separatists have resumed. On today's Underreported, we'll find out more about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka. Joining Leonard are Kavita Menon, of the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Charu Hogg, of Human Rights Watch.


Charu Hogg and Kavita Menon

Comments [18]


Tamilselvam, I know you are a Sinhala person under the disguise of a Tamil name, but the way you have spelled your name tells it all.

Here is one statement from a Sinhala historian

"In 1619 the Portuguese succeeded in taking over the Kingdom of Jaffna in the North, although they never held control over Kandy (De Silva 1981)".

This tells you all.


Sep. 01 2007 01:16 PM
Tamilselvam from Wanni

Ramya, you are truly one of our Tigresses. But let me tell the truth to the world.

There was no Tamil Kingdom in Sri Lanka before British came here. We came from South Indian many years ago and settled in the parts closest to South India.

We had no King and we have no Palaces or any ruins to prove our case. Let us be truthful.

Sep. 01 2007 12:01 AM
Kannan from Brooklyn NY

The idea that the entire Tamil community is brainwashed by the Tigers is hogwash. The greatest supporters for the Tamil Tigers have been the Sinhalese hardliners who through their blind policies de-legitimized the parliamentary struggle and the civil disobedience struggle lead by the Tamil Federal party during the 1950's, 1960's and 1970's. The leaders of the Tamil Federal party followed the non violent struggle philosophy of Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King. Even after the Sinhalese leaders such as Bandaranayke and Dudley Senenayaka signed treaties with the Federal party the Sinhalese reneged on it because of the fundamentalist Buddhist monk opposition.

As for terrorism let me remind the Sinhalese commentators and the rest of the commentators that state terrorism flourished in Sri Lanka even before the birth and growth of the Tamil Tigers. The anti Tamil programs of 1956, 1962, 1977 1981 and 1983 are clear examples of the state allowing thugs and scum to act with impunity. Countless Tamils were killed raped and their properties were looted. No different than the discrimination faced by the blacks in the old south before the civil rights legislation and the Jews in Europe. However, the Sinhalese community has never officially acknowledged the failure of the state to safeguard the minorities.

Aug. 31 2007 09:45 PM

What we rarely hear is how the LTTE has been able to brainwash an entire Tamil diaspora, including its brightest minds, while carrying out the most despicable kinds of discrimination on their own, using death as the solution to every problem it sees. Their very dedicated followers know how to exploit the liberal sympathies of the West. Most journalists don't know the real LTTE and how they have successfully distort the democratic system in Sri Lanka at every level. Sri Lankan government is incredibly inefficient, though less corrupt than some other places, is still a government available to the highest bidder. Vast majority of the Sinhalese have no hand in the conflict even today, but the Tamil minority has become unfortunately exploited by this ruthless group with hate-mongering, even while LTTE has killed the creme of the Tamil intelligentia who didn't join their 'freedom struggle'.

Journalists forget that a few wolves can control thousands of sheep, specially if the wolf can also crossdress like sheep. So in a democracy, extreme terrorism by one group changes everything. There is no moral highground for anyone here.

Aug. 31 2007 07:37 PM
Lucky from Australia

It is the Tamils who killed most of the Tamils in Sri Lanka. This started after killing Alfred Duraiyappa, MP. It is the Sinhalese Police that provide protection for most of the Tamils politicians in Paliament.There is no Sinhalese ethnic cleansing. Over 66% of Tamils are co-habiting with Sinhalese. Colombo, considered by Tamils as South has over 40% Tamil. There are searches to protect residents from getting killed by Tamil Terrorists. Last month, there were two 1000 kg bombs planted in Colombo by Tamil Terrorists. Another two claymore bombs were discivered 2 weeks ago in Wellawatta, a 99% Tamil residential area of Colombo. Last week, a bomb was planted by Tamil terrorists in Kandy, where a Buddhist religious festival was taking place. Government saved a large number of lives by uncovering these criminal acts before the bombs exploded. Let us talk facts, Tamils have their origins in India. This is recognised by Indian Goverment too. That is why Indian Government has no support for this lying Tamils.They even killed a President of Sri lanka and blinded another President. They Killed Rajiv Gandhi by going all the way to India. Now all Tamils and their NGO stooges are talking about Human Rights. Who is killing? Tamils, stop Human Rights abuses yourselves. You all are mostly Hindus. You are going to end up in HELL for lying and conspiring against your beloved country Sri Lanka, that gave you free education free medicine, and a passport to live abroad.

Aug. 31 2007 06:34 PM
Nagulan from USA

Our dear sinhala friends,

We know LTTE is dangerous- we support them- we have no other option- Because, we know SL government is more dangerous.
one day LTTE may change- or we will fight against them- that is our problem.

If you people can support for a reasonable solution, we do not need to support LTTE.


Aug. 31 2007 02:12 PM
Lionel Fernando MD from USA

Posted by: LIonel. USA
There is only partial truth in many of the comments seen above.Sunami relief to the northern and eastern provinces was interfered by the ruthless terrorists-LTTE.They stole almost everything that was sent there , donated by people of the world.Some of the NGOs worked for the terrorists.Srilankan poiticians and their henchmen got part of their share.

We must understand no one really knows what is going on behind the LTTE -iron curtain.

Aug. 31 2007 11:31 AM
Nagulan from USA

Mage Sushan and Kushan,

If you are a sinhalesh, just tell your name as Kannan or Mohan to your SL Police and just see----, I will meet you in Weligada or Boosa camp (if you are lucky), otherwise on the road-- killed.

Not even Douglous Thevanandha or Karuna cannot go outside without guards- they could be killed by those for whom they wash (after).


Aug. 31 2007 11:11 AM
Shan from USA

Very good discussion, thanks for those who participated in the discussion and the Radio station that bring the issue to American public.

Thanks for telling the truth about the deprived Tamil people in Sri Lanka.


Aug. 31 2007 11:01 AM

I am supprised that Kannan would suggest that Indian model would work for Sri Lanka. In India there is no dominant group i.e. no one group has absolute majority. The solution to Sri Lanka should be based on atleast a model similar to Canadian model if not for Kosovo or East Timor model.

Aug. 31 2007 11:01 AM
Kannan from Brooklyn NY

I am amazed by the comments of Sushan and Kushan. I returned to Sri Lanka two years ago and it was the first time since my family left due to the anti Tamil pogrom in 1983.

Unfortunately peace will always be elusive in Sri Lanka because there are segments within majority ethnic group who see Sri Lanka as an exclusive country for the Sinhalese while the minorities are seen as the "other". This concept will not work since the Tamils of Sri Lanka have a long historical presence in the island and they did have self governance until the Europeans colonized Sri Lanka. The only way for Sri Lanka to work is to follow the Indian model of a multi ethnic state that defines citizenship not by ethnicity and grants regional devolution to the Tamil areas.

The Sinhalese chauvinist created the Tamil tigers due to their unwillingness to negotiate a fair deal with the Tamil moderate parties in the 1950's, 1960's and the 1970's. Instead they took peaceful protest as a sign of weakness and brutalized the Tamils. In this process they created an equally nationalistic Tamil Tiger movement whose politics/policies mirrors Sinhalese nationalism.

It is time for the Sinhalese to stop blaming NGO's/foreign conspiracies and start taking responsibility for their actions. The US governments needs to stop blindly supporting the Sri Lankan government and hold them accountable for their brutality towards the minorities

Aug. 31 2007 10:45 AM

For the most part I agree with Kavitha & Charu. Also I would like to further add few things.

1. Before British came to the Island, there were Tamil & Sinhala kingdoms. British annexed the Tamil kingdom to Sinhala kingdom for administative reasons but when they gave independence to the Island they ignored Tamils request to give back their freedom.

2. Way before the arms conflict started in 1970s, two agreements were signed by Tamils with Sinhala governments for some autonomy but in both cases the Sinhala governments unilaterally broke the agreements & refused to give any automony to Tamils

3. The East of the Island was 66% Tamil at the time British left but with there state sponsored colonization programs & forced displacement of Tamils, Tamils have been reduced to less than 33%.

4. More than 800,000 Tamil were driven out of the Island & have settled in other countries.

5. With past 1 year, more than 5,000 Tamils were killed by government military & its paramilitary groups.

Aug. 31 2007 09:44 AM

The ethinc cleansing and genocide by the 99% sinhalese army is beeing noticed by the International Community. The tamils want a solution similar to Kosovo. The tamils are different in religion and langauge from the sinkalese and having nothing in common witht e srilankan government.

Aug. 31 2007 07:29 AM
Mohan from UK

Dear Stephen

Couldn't agree with you more.



Aug. 31 2007 07:22 AM
Stephen Jones

A very reasonable overview.

As the speakers said, those who live in Colombo and the South can live quite well totally ignoring the war.

It is doubtful is Sushan and Kushan have even listened to the piece. Repeating Mugabe like propaganda about the hidden plans of NGOs is simply pretending that if you lie long enough the problem will go away.

Aug. 31 2007 06:55 AM
Kushan from Colombo

please don't believe everything you hear and read blindly. as a person living in sri lanka i can tell you there is nothing so evil happening here.
unfortunately though we a stuck with the most brutal terrorist group in the world.and of cause we are in war with them.
the only problem Srilanka has other than the terrorist are the corruption, inflation (Mainly due to war effort)and the biggest of them all NGO's with there hidden agendas.

Aug. 31 2007 02:22 AM
sushan from colombo

This is nothing but utter rubbish , as sri lankan who is living in sri lanka i am amzazed and suprised here such stories ,,,These stories made up the NGO who operate in sri lanka to milk thier forgein donors , so they are nothing more than milking stories called jopurnalists , peace activits ..if only every body knew the truth ...

Aug. 30 2007 11:05 PM
Alan Bitwith from Bronx

Sri Lankans are dealing with the same issues we have to deal with in the states.

Our government hides people and the media walks blindly foward.

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and the people are the heart of it. All the people.

Aug. 30 2007 12:38 PM

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