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Is “Howdy Modi” Event Much Hyped Indian Media Noise?

What is even more surprising is that section of the Indian media, particularly visual media, have been focusing on this event as if Mr. Modi has won the hearts of citizens of the USA .

by N.S.Venkataraman

It is well recognized that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a man with enviable personal discipline and high level of determination to succeed in whatever job he undertakes. Such quality is rare in a politician and therefore ,Mr. Modi is much admired by most people in India and to some extent abroad. He is admired silently even by most of his pledged critics in India.

Modi with Trump
During his first term of office as Prime Minister and his ongoing second term of another five years, he has introduced several innovative and much relevant plans in variety of fields including anti corruption drive,clean India campaign, promotion of yoga culture etc. The latest cause he has taken is population control.

Even the pledged admirers of Mr. Modi cannot deny that most of the schemes he has initiated are still in the formative stage or in the stage of work in progress. The country is yet to see the full benefits of the schemes and measures that he has introduced. But, any inadequate progress is not due to want of his personal efforts but in spite of that , since the problems of India are complex and ground realities are inter related in several ways. However, the fact that he has been trying hard is itself adequate for the huge support that he enjoys amongst cross section of Indians.

A senior leader of Mr. Modi’s own party , sometime back , said that Mr. Modi is an event manager par excellence. Several of Mr. Modi’s methods indicate that this could be largely true and give an impression that Mr. Modi enjoys publicity and fanfare.

This is not a bad aspect of his methods by itself. But, sometimes , this approach look to be not in tune with several social problems faced by people of India, where 25% of the population (around 300 million people) still live below poverty line without even minimum social and economic security. This is particularly so , since Mr. Modi is the Prime Minister of a developing country like India , which still has a long way to go.

In such circumstances,huge hype in India about Howdy Modi event in Houston in USA has certainly raised eyebrows, since the event seems to be more focused on Mr. Modi rather than India. Again, this event is organized by Indian origin people living in USA, most of whom have become full fledged citizens of USA and quite a number of them living in USA for generations and some of them may not have even visited India and understand in first hand manner the traditions, problems, stresses and strains in the country. Obviously, this event is not organized by representative gathering of Indian people who are the event organisers and the event attendees . There is something unreal about these people eulogizing Mr. Modi to sky high level.

What is even more surprising is that section of the Indian media, particularly visual media, have been focusing on this event as if Mr. Modi has won the hearts of citizens of USA . The fact is that non Indian origin US citizens are not participating in organizing this event but only citizens of Indian origin who form a small fraction of overall US population.

Of course, US President Donald Trump sharing stage with Mr. Modi gives a striking message , which should be recognized and should not be ignored. But, every discerning observer knows at the heart of hearts that there is an element of politics in Mr. Trump’s gesture at this stage , which may be due to some problems faced by US in geo politics. US needs India’s support in extricating itself from Afghan problem and in containing China’s expanding influence in the global sphere. Keeping Mr. Modi in good humour at this stage, perhaps, is part of the political and diplomatic strategy of USA.

Further, one has to note that while Indian media is going over board in applauding the Howdy Modi event , the same enthusiasm is not shared by US media.

As far as Mr. Modi is concerned, this Howdy Modi publicity will do a lot of good to boost his image ; perhaps, more in India than in USA.

While this Howdy Modi event is significant as far as it goes , one cannot but conclude that it is a hyped media noise , as far as India is concerned where little assessment is made by Indian media regarding the long term significance of this event to US India relationships.

Thirty Years After: Rajani’s Lasting Impact

For Rajani, in solving the problems of peoples there could be no half measures, no escape from getting down to brass tacks. 

by Rajan Hoole

Ever since Rajani was killed on 21stSeptember 1989, many around the world have seen her as a heroic figure that stood for human values, not in a legalistic sense, but in the full-blooded sense that evokes an emotional and intellectual response; that moves those around her to commitment and action that is contagious. Accepting that we are living in a world that is not pacifist, her activism was towards solutions that avoided violence. The other view of Rajani was simply that she is a traitor. For those who felt helpless when the Tigers carried all before them, she inspired them as a symbol of resistance to the emerging fascist order, where to dissent was to court death.

Rajini (File Photo)
Between these ways of seeing her, something crucial is lost. That is her role as a public intellectual, a word she viewed with deep reservation. She was an academic extraordinary, not one whose fame owed to a numerical count of obscure papers. She wrote in the Broken Palmyra:

“In this sketch an encompassing view is attempted, within the framework of historical analysis. …[It] rather breaks into emotional and descriptive scenarios. This has been inevitable for us, as we are participants in the pain and agony of a nation. This sketch is attempted principally to bring out into the open the little known side of our nation (already people are adapting themselves to living with reality, pushing and smothering the pain into the recesses of memory) and the underlying causative processes and forces.”

As ‘pain and agony’ in the passage suggests, for Rajani, intellectual activity was entwined with our emotions and feelings, and flowing with these it gives direction to our actions. This is evident in everything she wrote, but within a rigorous discipline that demanded truth and accuracy. Everything had to be properly reasoned out and the reader should not be taxed with obscurities and ambiguities.

When she got the co-authors together and edited the first typed scripts of the Broken Palmyra, in 1988, one had to put up with passages from one’s writing being pencilled out or being asked to redraft certain portions. One was made to take one’s ego less seriously and the pain was ameliorated by her kindness and charm. Finally the book was improved tremendously by the pains she took and our coauthor Sritharan’s quick, sharp and unfailing analysis.

The key to understanding Rajani as an intellectual is her compassion for the downtrodden, and those ridiculed and oppressed because of their birth. She was in spirit and action part of their struggle to emancipate themselves and was harshly critical of leaders who misguided and misused them. This comes through in her section ‘No More Tears Sister -The Experiences of Women’:

“Unlike in the other groups, however, in the E.P.R.L.F., women were taking a more assertive role and putting forward clear, honest political positions in times of crisis. For instance, after the massacre of the T.E.L.O. cadre by the L.T.T.E., the E.P.R.L.F. was the sole movement in the E.N.L.F. (the United Front of the E.P.R.L.F., the E.R.O.S., the T.E.L.O. and the L.T.T.E.) that protested and organised demonstrations and other protests. This campaign was led by their women members. This position contrasts with that of the other members of the E.N.L.F., such as the E.R.O.S. who tactically decided to keep quiet and co-exist with the L.T.T.E.. Later when the E.P.R.L.F. was crushed by the L.T.T.E., many E.P.R.L.F. women were beaten-up by the L.T.T.E.. One prominent member of the L.T.T.E. had said while beating some women:

"What, liberation for you all. Go and wait in the kitchen. That is the correct place for you."

She adds, “Therefore the armed women's sections developed either in terms of "use" as in the case of the L.T.T.E. or in a mechanical fashion, as a graft of an idea borrowed from other liberation struggles as with the E.P.R.L.F.. Thus the passive stand by the L.T.T.E. women can be understood, as the movement approved of them exactly as their society did. The fact that the E.P.R.L.F., possessing an advanced consciousness, was unable to transplant it in the community, is a general phenomenon in all E.P.R.L.F. activities - in the armed struggle, the mobilisation of people and the construction of people's structures, among others. In every major aspect, the E.P.R.L.F. exhibited estrangement between its theory and practice. Therefore neither our material reality nor our history had the basis to support a fully blown women's section in the armed movements. It is tragic that these women's sections themselves did not make any attempt to grasp their reality; an analysis of the position of women, the crucial social issues confronting them in Tamil society and women's history, would have enlightened them and cleared the way to laying down the fundamental tasks and priorities.”

Her compassion extended no less to the children forced to bear arms cynically and die horribly, and the Indian soldier sent to fight and die in a war that was completely beyond his ken. Rajani laid emphasis on what is largely lost in Tamil politics today, as integral to the liberation struggle, to keep in view and support the aspirations of other Tamil speaking minorities. She saw India historically as a would-be superpower, whose limits were defined by other actors:

“The Indian Tamil labour who built up the plantation sector … were simply grafted on to Sri Lankan society by their colonial masters and were rejected as aliens by the local population. …[Post independence] they were disenfranchised and became the most exploited and oppressed social group within the country … the growing contradiction between the local subsistence agriculture and the plantation sector manifested itself in the most fierce antagonism towards this under privileged group. Unscrupulous political elements used this contradiction to their advantage by portraying this dispossessed poverty stricken group as an arm of Indian expansionism. Even opposition to Indian supremacy in the region was expressed by victimising this minority group.”

Likewise she says of the Muslims: “Though the slogans and programmes of all movements paid lip service to the rights of Muslims, there has never been a concrete programme to realise their goals, or the articulation of their needs and objectives during the process of the struggle. What has been proclaimed is a programme designed by the Tamils for the Muslims. There are immense contradictions and prejudices between Tamils and Muslims, which should have been handled during the years of struggle, a common basis built and an organic cohesion produced.” What we have is tokenism, some tenuous slogans, a token presence of Muslims in the movements and the imposition of the hegemony of the Tamils (especially peninsula Tamils) which led to increasing contradictions.”

For Rajani, in solving the problems of peoples there could be no half measures, no escape from getting down to brass tacks. In this light we say a few words on the historical role of the Tamil leadership. The Donoughmore Commission proposals of 1928 formed a singularly progressive document to come from a colonial power. In proposing universal adult franchise, their main motive was the emancipation of the socially oppressed and underprivileged by the exercise of the franchise.

It was the Ceylon Labour Union which originated in the activism of PonnambalamArunachalam and led by A.E. Goonesinha that had urged universal adult franchise before the Commissioners, to which other leaders were fervently opposed. Opposition unavailing, the main Sinhalese leaders concentrated their energies on denying the franchise to the Plantation Tamils. To this end they played with the words ‘abiding interest’ used as the criterion for the vote by the Commission and argued that the illiteracy and low birth of Plantation Tamils precluded their having an abiding interest in public affairs of the country, whereas the Donoughmore Commissioners saw franchise as the process by which the oppressed further their rights and access to education.

The Sinhalese leaders saw an opportunity to concentrate power in themselves and refused to let go. This was also their way of attacking the Trade Union Movement. This movement which was then the bulwark against communalism, was founded on the idea of Empire citizenship, where British subjects would enjoy equal civic rights throughout colonial lands of the Empire, with the exception of self-governing Dominions. Thus the trade union movement in Ceylon had in its ranks Indian Tamils, Sinhalese and Malayalees working shoulder to shoulder.

The challenge to this order came in the early 1920s from British settlers in Kenya excluding the Indians from colonial privileges. This was about the time the Indian National Congress sought independence from the British Empire. The Sinhalese leaders took these developments as the cue to exclude the Indian labour from the franchise.

Francis Molamure who led the franchise debate in the Legislative Council said (Hansard 15 Nov.1928): “… it is not a question of foresight; it is a question of self-preservation. We know it for a fact, Sir, that the Sinhalese form the largest section of the people of this country. Among the brotherhood of communities, the Sinhalese community, as I say, is the eldest child of this mother Ceylon. Therefore if the younger children are going astray, is it not up to the eldest child to point out their waywardness, to point out that they are treading the wrong path? The younger children should respect the views of the eldest child, especially on a matter which has come up for the first time in the Council, a matter which affects the preservation and safety of this country.”

This was the cue for brazen majoritarianism that has plagued this country’s political life and discourse for the past ninety years and laid the foundations for today’s National Security State. There were able Tamil leaders in the Legislative Council. ArunachalamMahadeva protested, “… at the very first opportunity they get in the Council they get up and shout the loudest … that they will not have the Indians in their midst.” He was ridiculed by C.W.W. Kannangara, who was Mahadeva’s fellow committee member on the All Ceylon Trade Union Congress. For the Trade Union Movement it heralded the move from internationalism to parochialism.

Among those who protested aloud were T.B. Jayah, NatesaIyer and A. Balasingham, perhaps the greatest among intellectuals we had as our representatives.Balasingham said, “If we realize the rights of men; if we realize that men are entitled to be treated as human beings, to have some voice in the administration, to have some voice in righting the wrongs under which they are groaning … we cannot with any sense of propriety refuse [the vote] to these British subjects who are toiling and moiling for us in this country.”

Molamure’s motion, seconded by D.S. Senanayake, which began the process of exclusion of Plantation Tamils by introducing a literacy test as a condition for the vote, was passed with several Tamils supporting it, including Balasingham. One could understand Balasingham’s action by his close association with the Jaffna Youth Congress, and many of us grew up hero-worshipping its leaders for their contribution to education, their opposition to caste oppression and their commitment to secularism.

The Youth Congress supported the Donoghmore proposals under the rubric of national unity and as a door to independence. They had little, if anything, to say about the Plantation Tamils. This question and the future of minorities, raised by Mahadeva, should have been sorted out then and there. Answers to these questions were fudged on our move towards independence and we have paid for it ever since. The questions however would not go away. G.G.Ponnambalam put forward the entirely unrealistic 50 – 50 proposals in 1937, Chelvanayakam proposed Federalism in 1949, separatism in 1975 and then we were plunged into a destructive war.

This is not to say that matters were hopeless. Two Sinhalese trade unionists Victor Corea and C.H.Z. Fernando voted against Molamure’s bill. Others like Kannangara, whose communalism was not of the crude variety, could have been challenged. He was a leading advocate of the social upliftment of poor, underprivileged youth through free education, while supporting an order that denied the same to the plantation youth. The opposition to the 1948 Citizenship Act by the Left may have clinched the matter but for the ambivalence of the Tamil Congress, the bulk of whose MPs abstained.

For Rajani, there was no question of fudging issues by avoiding a thorough examination of thorny questions. Without this conviction many of our Tamil leaders continue to get lost. Mahadeva and Ponnambalam accepted portfolios from Senanayake. Somersaults got worse as politics became increasingly divorced from reality. We are no longer horrified when former liberators ally with GotabhayaRajapaksa. Rajani repeatedly reminded us that the sins of the young are not more than the sins of the fathers who passed off as gentlemen.

As evident in her writing on women fighters, Rajaniwas part of their struggle and shared in their aspirations, and in their humiliation. Academic aspirations were empty for her without the corresponding social commitment in the struggles of her people. For her, the place for a committed intellectual was home, even when assassination threatened her. It is nowhere but at home that one could realise the fullness of humanity. The EPRLF leadership did not understand her, and if they had done, the young LTTE assassins would not have killed her.

Looking back at what Rajani has written, words are economical and not one out of place. Her relation of facts was clinical. After the passage of thirty years there is hardly anything one could disagree with. Rajani can no longer pencil out paragraphs I have written, but I have had the joy of her daughter Sharika doing that for me in her place.

‘Last Letter’ (2018): Fate, Love and Messaging in Chinese Society

Zhihua is now married with a daughter named Saran. That cannot, however, be an obstacle for little cheating! It is justified because she actually loved Yin, although Yin instead loved her sister Zhinan.

by Laksiri Fernando

This Chinese drama-film written and directed by Shunji Iwai (a Japanese), reminds me of Rukmani Devi sung song, Adarayai Karunawi (love and affection) in S. K. Ojha’s Sinhala film (1959), based on W. A. Silva’s Daiwayogaya (1936). There is a love-triangle or split-love, but quite ironic and hilarious in this case. Both the background and the message are also modern in ‘Last Letter’ unlike in Daiwayogaya (meaning Fate). The connection perhaps is the deep-seated beliefs in Asian cultures and societies about fate and irony. The film is produced by Peter Chan, particularly for a modern Chinese audience with humor and comedy.

The Story

The story unfolds in modern China, in 2018 to be exact, but going back to a generation of 30 years behind, and even beyond. The symbols of modern China in the film are Mumu, Saran and Chenchen. They are largely rational, easy going and fun loving youngsters, but I cannot say that is the case of all millennials in China. That is perhaps not the message of the Director either. Chenchen is also different to Mumu or Saran, grumpy and introvert.

 A scene from the movie, Last Letter
Mumu’s mother, Zhinan has committed suicide and the ‘old generation’ hide the fact. They pretend that she died of terrible illness, but Mumu has nothing to hide or to be ashamed of mothers suicide. Why did she commit suicide? That is the story. The story is related mainly through the character of Zhinan’s sister Zhihua, quite a smart, discreet, carefree but a sensitive sole. She is rather a ‘cheater’ in her middle school days, or even now, but on the question of love. I am not saying this is an Asian character, even after seeing similar cheating in the Indian (Hindi) film ‘Lunch Box’ (2013)!

After her sister’s funeral, Zhihua decides to attend the school reunion of sister’s batch mates, meeting after 30 years. She apparently wants to tell them her loving sister has passed away. All mistake her for Zhinan, and invites her to speak as she was the acclaimed ‘goddess’ of the batch. Zhihua pretends, but uneasily. After the event, she meets Yin Chuan who always aspired her sister Zhinan and they exchange contacts on WeChat.

Love Cheating

Zhihua is now married with a daughter named Saran. That cannot however be an obstacle for little cheating! It is justified because she actually loved Yin, although Yin instead loved her sister Zhinan. That was the love-triangle during the middle-school days. After she came home after the reunion party, there was a message from Yin: ‘I have always liked you,’ which is seen by Zhihua’s husband. There were lot of explaining to be done, but her mobile phone is smashed by the husband.

This does not stop Zhihua’s enjoyment or fun. She goes back to traditional messaging through letters, instead of modern technology. She also informs Yin that her husband is a computer expert and he can intercept their messages or hack. But she does not know that the letters are also intercepted by the new generation, Saran and Mumu. Saran does not know the replies sent by Yin are to her mother, because they are addressed to the deceased aunty, or Mumu’s mother, Zhinan.

There is a flashback to the middle-school love triangle. Zhihua approaches Yin, but no positive response. After realizing that Yin likes her elder sister Zhinan, she agrees to be the ‘go between.’ Instead of giving Yin’s letters to Zhinan, she writes back declining the love. The episodes are wonderfully hilarious.

Present day Zhihua, now again cheating, does not know that Yin and Zhinan had met at the same university later, and have had an intimate love affair for some years. That had been tragic and fateful, another man dragging her away. Yin has written a novel based on the story, and even had won a prize for that. It is not that he has now completely mistaken Zhihua for Zhinan, but allows the discreet to go on, enjoying himself of the irony as a writer. He is planning another book!

Unknown Story

Living in Shanghai after graduation, Yin was unaware Zhinan’s marriage to a drunkard and a brute, Zhang Chao. He had left Zhinan with two kids now for some time. Yin feels guilty now. That is another story within the story. The main story unfolds in a remote Chinese town/city and those who want to know about culture, mannerisms and housing conditions in some parts of China this is a good film to watch, although everything may not be representative. I thought these are very much similar to Japan. Almost in every house there is a small space for the deceased, and in this case Zhinan’s ashes are placed in a ceramic pot. There are then joss sticks. Many also preserve important letters in shoe boxes.

Even in modern Chinese society, the old are well respected but the new generation do not have any hesitation to sneak into their affairs. Chenchen finds his ‘grandmother’ meeting with an old man secretly! But finally it reveals, it is perhaps to learn English from Professor Hu. Love for learning is appreciated in society.

Yin now investigates the secrets of the unknown story, meets the new generation of Mumu and Saran and also meets Chao, the husband who abandoned Zhinan. Chao is with a new woman, but the behavior is the same. Most heartrending is the story he unfolds to Yin - his disturbed childhood in poverty, unsuccessful education and career, and unmatched marriage to Zhinan. This shows that everything for the people in China is not hunky-dory today, not yet. There is poverty.

Fate or Daiwayogaya

This film is perhaps written and directed strongly believing in fate. Another motivation could be the irony of life, both happy and sad. Although the English title of the film refers to the ‘Last Letter’ the Chinese title is ‘Hello, Zhihua’ or ‘Ni hao Zhihua’ (你好 之华 ). Perhaps the English title is more appropriate as it has a message. It is similar to Adarayai Karunawai (love and affection).

I found the Sinhala lyrics of Rukmani Devi song thanks to and an appropriate translation of the first verse might be:

“Love and affection, loyalty to husband, pains my heart. A stream of sorrow, turning into a river of anxiety, looks for the ocean of remorse.”

The verse is really like reading the mind of Zhihua at the end. The message in the actual last letter of Zhinan to Mumu (daughter) and Chenchen (son) however is more positive. It says something of the following: “Future of everyone brings limitless possibilities. Some achieve them and some don’t. We all are equal in our dreams and passion. Don’t repent too much.”

(This review is thanks to SBS World Movies, Australia)

Reading Rajani three decades after her assassination

Rajani’s protest was against all parties, irrespective of whether a state soldier or an LTTE cadre – whose actions entangled in the brutal armed conflict where the lives of ordinary civilians were placed at risk and misused as human shields for narrow political purposes.

by Anuradha Kodagoda

“Rajani did not get accustomed to grief or fear. She was heartbroken when students went missing and cried at the stories she heard. She cried from fear as well. I fell asleep so many nights, listening to her tears. The next morning she would be bright, brave, determined and hopeful. She taught me courage coexisted with vulnerability, kindness and sensitivity. She had empathy and generosity for nearly everyone she met, except powerful people who turned their face away.

“As a medical doctor, she would go and treat anyone who needed her, whether they were her enemies or not. Civilians, soldiers, militants - she was their doctor. She was also a research scientist who was fearless in her pursuit of truth and who followed where the evidence led.

“She was also a workaholic: up at dawn to prepare for classes. She kept an immaculate house. Ran her university department. She then did all the advocacy, investigation and human rights work in the evening. All this while dealing with the war and its challenges.

“My mother wanted life - for everyone. She was utterly uninterested in the politics of death and martyrdom. She helped me find joy in a cup of tea after a bombing raid, the freedom of a day or an hour of silence or peace. We found reasons to laugh and smile. Then they killed her.

“I have these clear, treasured memories - not just of events, but of her - the space she took up, her gaze, her emotions - because life felt very, very short in Jaffna. But I never thought it would be her who would die,” Narmada Thiranagama tweeted the daughter of Dr Rajani Thiranagama, in memory of her beloved mother, on her 30th death anniversary. Rajani proved an extraordinary courage and remorseless commitment in her quest for justice and human dignity against the thirty-year-long brutality of armed conflict in the country.

Rajani’s protest was against all parties, irrespective of whether a state soldier or an LTTE cadre – whose actions entangled in the brutal armed conflict where the lives of ordinary civilians were placed at risk and misused as human shields for narrow political purposes.

In the late ‘80s, the Tamil community in the Northern Province was the most affected witnesses of the vicious war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan army.

In this context, Rajani, who once was a hardcore supporter of the political ideology of the LTTE, made a revolutionary yet fatal shift as she could no longer contribute to the destructive war according to her conscious realization of her community and ethnic identity. She was a meticulously sharp-minded human rights activist who paid the price for what she believed in.

As a first year student of the medical faculty of the University of Colombo, the Student Christian Movement (SCM) was where Rajani began her political activism. The SCM was quite popular among students of the ‘70s. The shockwaves created among the student movement were felt all over the country when University of Peradeniya student Weerasoriya was gunned down by the police in 1976. For the first time in history, the Colombo Medical Faculty went on strike, condemning this action and Rajani was at the forefront of the strike. As Dayapala Thiranagama, Rajani’s beloved husband, recalls, this protest was how they came to know each other.

“Our meeting marked a new chapter in our lives and the decisions we would make from then would change not only our lives but also our families forever. We fell in love and got married on August 28, 1977 in the midst of anti-Tamil riots in Colombo. Rajani was still a medical student and I had just begun an academic career at the University. We sometimes called ourselves ‘the unity of opposites’ in relation to our social, cultural and ethnic differences,” Dayapala recalled.

As Dayapala describes, being a middle-class, Tamil woman, Rajani’s conscious decision to get married to a Sinhalese, lower middle-class man who had spent many years in prison was somewhat revolutionary. “Rajani’s courage and human understanding in accepting me as I was, bewildered even some of our political friends, whose understanding of inter-ethnic relations in both communities had serious defects at the time, as it does today,” he said.

As a human rights activist, a strong factor in her passion for justice can be understood as her firmness on human relationships and her unbiasdness for socially constructed barriers and customs.

Her constant message for the rebellious youth who took arms against the state was, “I agree with you that the actions of the State are without excuse and we care no less about liberation than you do.

Liberation must begin with questioning ourselves. But the way you are getting about it, wounding our society grievously by your actions, would weaken and humiliate us and render us servile before the State and larger powers.”

She took a conscious political decision to quit the LTTE in the mid 80s’ and merged with her new political ideology against the rule of the gun dedicating herself to organise structures that would ensure democratic freedom with human dignity. ‘Broken Palmyra’ the ground breaking literary work co- authored by Rajini and three dons from the University of Jaffna brought new hope for the Tamil community who were exhausted by the brutality of the war. During this time the University Teachers for Human Rights (UTHR) was formed, with her involvement. However, all these radical attempts created an ‘ideological shockwave’ for the LTTE which later became fatal to her life.

“As far as our family was concerned, ideologically and politically, it departed from the accepted family norms of its existence and Rajani’s contribution was crucial in this transformation.

Without Rajani’s deep understanding, unhesitant approval and courage we would not have built a family unit that would withstand the political and survival tests of our times. She was honest, politically straightforward, fiercely independent and committed to her beliefs for the LTTE to handle. These were the personal qualities of a new kind of revolutionary Rajani came to represent in her personal and political journey, which resulted in the ultimate sacrifice for the right of dissent in the Tamil community,” Dayapala said.

The criticism against despotism of any section of the society must be made by the people of the same society. Dr. Rajani Thiranagama marked such a historically iconic moment through her activism against the brutality of the LTTE which she once represented ideologically.

Even thirty years later, her assassination tells us of a society with an inability to bear the opinion of the other, as well as the failure of humanity itself.

“Thanks to Rajan Hoole’s detailed investigation a few years ago we have detailed information about how her murder was planned and carried out. Now I know she remonstrated with her killer even after the first shot. My fierce mother. It was only when I heard this, that I truly knew she had been killed and not simply disappeared from my life that day, riding back to the university, wearing the elegant sari which was my favourite: a white gauze with a print of green and yellow leaves,” Narmada said in her tweet.

Sri Lanka: Et Tu, Dil?

Former anti-graft Commission head known among her friends as Dil on the hot pot over a controversial telephone conversation with an alleged criminal

Attorney General Dappula De Livera will refer the matter of a leaked telephone conversation allegedly between the chairman of the controversial private security firm Avant Garde and the former Director General of the Bribery Commission, to the Public Service Commission (PSC) tomorrow, his office told the local newspaper.

The move comes as the former Bribery Commission Director General Dilrukshi Dias Wickremasinghe finally broke her silence on her personal Facebook account last week, posing counter questions to Avant Garde Chairman Nissanka Senadhipathi who admitted he had leaked the conversation. “As a public officer I am not permitted to make public or press statements, Wickremasinghe noted, adding that Senadhipathi should reveal the entire telephone conversation without editing, doctoring and distorting the contents. “Secondly, please disclose to the public the name of the Minister whose telephone you called and the reasons why the said minister passed the telephone to me,” the post added.

"Nishshanka Senadhipathi,

As a public officer, I’m not permitted to make public or press statements.

Therefore please respond to the following.

1. Please publish the entire telephone conversation without editing, doctoring and distorting the contents.

2. Please disclose to the public the name of the minister to whose telephone you called and the reasons why the said minister passed the telephone to me," she posted on her facebook.

Senadhipathi, who was recently indicted at the Permanent High Court at Bar for money laundering and a host of other charges, was first indicted at the Magistrate’s Court in a case investigated during Wickremasinghe’s tenure as DG of the Bribery Commission. The leaked telephone conversation spread like wildfire and sent shock waves, especially given the current Solicitor General’s unimpeachable reputation as an officer of integrity and courage within the Department, and one of the most dynamic Director Generals to have ever served at the Bribery Commission.

Dilrukshi Dias Wickremasinghe currently serves as Solicitor General of Sri Lanka, the second highest ranked prosecutor at the Attorney General’s Department.

Coordinating Officer to the Attorney General State Counsel Nishara Jayaratne said the Attorney General was not empowered to conduct disciplinary inquiries since Wickremasinghe was such a senior official at the Department.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, the coordinating officer State Counsel Nishara Jayarathne said that this decision was taken since it is the PSC that has authority to conduct an inquiry.

“The PSC is our disciplinary authority. Therefore, we will request the PSC to hold a preliminary inquiry in terms of the establishment code and to appoint a suitable person to look into the matter immediately,” she said.

Meanwhile addressing a function yesterday President Maithripala Sirisena said that if the SG was coerced to speak take the call by a minister she should reveal all relevant information.

The President went on to state that the Prime Minister wrote to him few months back suggesting the SG’s name to a position of a Superior Court justice. President however said that he was not in favour of this idea.

“Given the information that has surfaced I can clearly say that she was never suitable to be appointed as a justice,” the President said.On Friday (20) after the leaked audio caused an uproar Justice Minister Thalatha Athukorale said yesterday that after the authenticity of the leak is verified, clarification would be sought from the Attorney General on the matter.

Senadhipathi released a recorded telephone conversation with a female he purports to be Wickremasinghe, who was expressing remorse over filing action against the Avant Garde floating armoury in response to the Chairman’s complaints about problems faced by the company’s staff as a result of the legal action.

A particularly incriminating part of the leaked audio features the female voice claiming that she knew how to “break and make the law” and that she would not have filed a case against former Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Who launched that Mystery Attack?

The Saudis, like their patron in Washington, have a poor record for truthfulness. Remember the Saudi denials about the murder of journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi? More important, we have been waiting for more false flag attacks in the Gulf designed to justify a US attack on Iran.

by Eric S. Margolis

The Mideast has its own variety of crazy humor. The Saudis have been blasting and bombing wretched Yemen, one of this world’s poorest nations, since 2015.

These US-supported attacks and a naval blockade of Yemen imposed by Saudi Arabia and its sidekick ally, the United Arab Emirates, have caused mass starvation. No one knows how many Yemenis have died or are currently starving. Estimates run from 250,000 to one million.

Who attacked? 
The black humor? The Saudis just claimed they were victims of Iranian `aggression’ this past week after the kingdom’s leading oil treatment facility at Abqaiq was hit by a flight of armed drones or cruise missiles. The usual American militarists, now led by State Secretary Mike Pompeo after the demented warmonger, John Bolton, was finally fired, are calling for military retaliation against Iran even though the attack was claimed by Yemen’s Shia Houthi movement.

This drama came at roughly the same time that Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of US president Donald Trump, vowed to annex Palestine’s entire Jordan Valley if elected. Not a peep of protest came from the US, which recently blessed Netanyahu’s annexation of Syria’s Golan Heights while scourging Russia’s leader, Vladimir Putin, for annexing Crimea – a Russian possession for over 300 years.

I studied US photos of the damaged Saudi oil installations. Its oil tanks appear to be precisely hit at the same place. After the attack, the Saudis claimed half of their oil production was knocked out; but a day later, they vowed production would be resumed within a week. Parts of so-called drones were shown that appeared way beyond the technological capabilities of Yemen or even Iran. The missiles may have been supplied by Ukraine.

The Saudis, like their patron in Washington, have a poor record for truthfulness. Remember the Saudi denials about the murder of journalist and Saudi critic Jamal Khashoggi? More important, we have been waiting for more false flag attacks in the Gulf designed to justify a US attack on Iran.

The pattern of so-called drone attacks against the Saudi oil installations is just too neat and symmetrical. The Israelis have a strong interest in promoting a US-Saudi War. The attacks in Saudi came ironically right after the anniversary of 9/11 that plunged the US into war against large parts of the Muslim world.

As a long-time military observer, I find it very hard to believe that drones could be guided over such long distances and so accurately without aircraft or satellites to guide them. In Yemen, which is just creeping into the 12th century, changing a flat tire is a major technological achievement. To date, Iran’s missile arsenal has poor reliability and major guidance problems.

Adding to the questions, the Saudis have spent billions on US-made air defense systems. They failed to protect the oil installations. The Saudis would have been better off buying air defenses from the Russians, at a quarter of the US selling price.

Trump at least showed some wisdom by so far rejecting demands from the neocons that surround him to launch major attacks on Iran. Blasting Iran would not serve much purpose and would expose US forces in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Somalia, and Syria to Iranian guerilla attacks. Saudi oil installations – after what we saw last week – are vulnerable.

Attacking Iran, even if just from the air, risks a much wider Mideast war just as the Trump administration – which originally campaigned against ‘stupid’ Mideast wars – faces next year’s elections. But the administration is under intense pressure from its pro-Israel base to go after Iran.

Bombing Iran’s oil infrastructure would be relatively easy and has been intensively planned since early 2002. But what next? So-called ‘regime change’ (Washington’s favorite euphemism for overthrowing disobedient foreign governments) rarely works as planned and can get the US into horribly messy situations. The CIA overthrew Iran’s democratic government in 1953 and look where we are today.

Perhaps the attacks on Abqaiq may cause the reckless Saudi leaders to stop devastating Yemen and throttle back on their proxy war against Iran which has gone on since 1979. But don’t count on it.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 2019