– Pro LTTE Diaspora do not give up using foreign media to bash Sri Lanka.
Response to an article appearing in the Washington Post of January 12, 2012 in the Style Section pages C1 and C4 titled “Unpeaceful Coexistence” with a reference to Sri Lanka among other countries. The link to the original article appears below.
| by A Sri Lankan American in the Washington
( January 30, Washington DC, Sri Lanka Guardian) This response is being submitted to the Washington Post one of the largest newspapers in the nation’s capital. However, Washington Post and particularly the journalist Emily Wax has a history of relying only on one side with flawed information about Sri Lanka as narrated by the supporters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) a proscribed organization in the USA and 32 countries throughout the world. The word of a group on the side of terrorism is hardly credible considering the struggle in many countries of the world including the USA to whose doorstep it has found its way. The tone of this article encourages a reversal of the hard fought peace from terrorism that Sri Lanka is trying to enjoy. We continue to have trouble setting the record straight. Submitting this article to the Washington Post may also suffer the same fate.
Those who express views as stated in this article are contributors to the separatist war in Sri Lanka that has caused suffering to the powerless Tamil people living in Sri Lanka. They were used as bait for a cause not for their benefit but for political brutal power over the innocent, helpless and low caste ordinary peace loving citizens of the north of Sri Lanka. Some members of the diaspora financed the supply of lethal weapons to the LTTE for the destruction of their own people. Today, two years after the end of the war, reconciliation and reconstruction both in the physical development of the devastated areas and relationships between people have progressed in a positive direction to a visible level of harmony among the Sinhalese and Tamils who have put peace before separation for their future lives in Sri Lanka. The views of those on Sri Lankan soil should be the focus in determining the aspirations of all communities in Sri Lanka and not that of a group of supporters bent on separating a peaceful country with guaranteed border disputes and unsolved issues for chaos in the longer term.
Statistics prove that no other terror organization in the world has killed as many prominent Tamil and Sinhalese politicians, Heads of State and of neighboring countries as done by the Sri Lankan terrorists. This group the LTTE occupies a place among the top three terror organizations in the world and stand at the head in the company of Hezbollah and the Al-Qaida that follow in order of brutality and expanse of their ability to raise funds for keeping the separation dream alive. In doing so, they are among the largest group that resort to credit card fraud, bank and check fraud, narcotics smuggling and human trafficking for amassing coffers. This is a group that acquired a naval fleet through piracy with a record of moving large amounts of weapons from enemies of the USA such as North Korea. With the demise of the LTTE leader in May of 2009, less than 10% of the expatriate Tamils continue to raise funds with a face lift for legitimacy under cover of legitimate businesses financed by laundered money. This is the group that has voiced their opinion about the situation of Sri Lanka in this article. What about the other 90% of the expatriate Americans in the USA who do not condone separatism? There are expatriate Tamils who wish to live in peace and there are many in the current population living in the US that obtained their professional education at Government expense in Sri Lanka with absolutely no discrimination to obstruct their path to success. The remaining 90% of non-participating Tamil expatriates that live in fear of intimidation keep a low profile while their counterparts who continue to believe that violence and an armed struggle to separate the country are the solution.
They have expressed their relief at the end of the war but the author of this article fails to cover this group of majority Tamil immigrants in America in a deliberate attempt to discredit Sri Lanka that has made a concerted effort to bring its communities together both within the country and through their missions overseas. The peace profile in Sri Lanka should not be determined by misinformation and deception that is propagated by those who do not speak for the majority. The voice of a few should not drown the voice of the majority.
Although the references made in this article are directed at the Government of Sri Lanka and its representatives in Washington DC through the Embassy of Sri Lanka in Washington, the ideals of those interviewed in this article will only lead to damaging the hard fought peace that Sri Lanka is enjoying for the benefit of not only the majority community and the Government but also the innocent Tamil population of Sri Lanka whose priority is peace over separation of the nation. A Tamil homeland means nothing to the average Tamil citizen living in Sri Lanka. In the northern region of the country that is predominantly Tamil the caste system is the dominating factor within the Tamil communities. Some have left the north and settled in the south where they feel removed from the cloud of caste discrimination within the Tamil community. All they look for is to live in peace and conduct their business, educate their children and live without fear of intimidation for extortion of funds or conscription of children not excluding senseless killing of dissidents and suicide bombings throughout the country.Many of those displaced are slowly returning to their homes in the north. They are assisted by the government and many non-Tamil individuals and organizations to facilitate the reconstruction and resettlement.
After thirty years of death, destruction and extra judicial killing of dissidents among Tamils on the orders of their ruthless leader Prabhakaran who was eventually killed by the conventional military, the north and the east of Sri Lanka is finally free of the brutal terror bringing peace to all people. No part of Sri Lanka before or after the war is exclusively reserved for one ethnic group. Although in some areas of the north the predominant ethnic group includes Tamils, there were other ethnic groups among them and the ordinary people outside of the extremist separatists lived together peacefully for decades until the idea of separation of the country for a single ethnic group became a “homeland struggle” for the dominant ethnic group in the north led to ethnic cleansing in the north and east. In truth, 60% of the Tamil ethnic group lived outside of the area demarcated for a homeland distributing them in the south or overseas.
Reference to “the one thing that Tamils and Sinhalese enjoy as being TEA” is a petty and simplistic uninformed deceptive opinion while the real situation is very different. If one is to visit Sri Lanka, the Tamils and Sinhalese living there enjoy more than just tea. They can choose to live anywhere in the country, enjoy job opportunities at all levels including holding high office in the Government, head up large private corporations and banks, get admission to universities that offer free education including medical, engineering and other fields and enjoy privileges far above the ethnic proportions especially among Tamils who are a minority. One difference from the US that is never highlighted is that in official documents that are usually provided in one of three languages or all three languages, race is never a question that is asked of individuals in any working documents. It has no bearing on admission to schools or in obtaining free healthcare or employment. The only criterion that may raise suspicion against an individual is involvement in crime or support rendered to terrorist activities.
Education in Sri Lanka is competitive and occupies a position of high priority regardless of race. An example of the open opportunities is that the Tamil minority which makes up approximately 12% of the 20 million people of the country gains 22% of the slots in medical schools at government expense. The same could be said for engineering schools where 24% of the places are occupied by the Tamil minority. In the areas of liberal arts it is estimated that 17% of the government paid slots for higher education is made use of by the Tamil minority. There is a false claim that standardization in university admissions was introduced to keep out the Tamil minority. Standardization was not for ethnic discrimination. However, university admission figures proves otherwise that by standardization, those in the remote parts of the country from schools with less science and technical educational facilities than those in cities, stood to gain by standardization that was not introduced to discriminate against language or race. This gain was particularly seen from the Northern region that accounted for the high percentage of admissions of the minorities into the professional arena at government expense. At no time was this taken up by anyone in the majority community as an unfair practice. The majority community was aware of the disparity but was tolerant and accepting of the fact that they get the places on merit while the Tamil Diaspora abroad by deception painted a different picture. Deceptive propaganda with ulterior motives is made believable as the truth.
The Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington DC has been portrayed as the “Arch enemies” of the Tamil people who are targeting Tamils in the area to the extent that they have to be in disguise. This is a diabolical lie because the Embassy is open to all ethnic groups and as recently as January 14th 2012, the embassy hosted an event honoring one of the important Tamil Hindu festivals with a Tamil Hindu service at the embassy attended by many Tamil American families in the area. One begs the question why these people who attend embassy functions do not have to disguise themselves and fearlessly visit the embassy for events and mingle with all other ethnic and religious groups of Sri Lankan origin. Any visitor to the embassy experiences the hospitality that reflects the mood in Sri Lanka as a gracious nation. Those who provided interviews for this article are notable absentees at these functions and we have never noted any disguised Tamil Americans as those who attend events are known by their real names.
It is an accepted fact that this article is not about Tamils being marginalized or targeted but about Tamil Diaspora who advocates the separation of Sri Lanka through violent means which is implied by the term “struggle” that is frequently used. In such cases, not only should those guilty of such offences be fearful of the Sri Lankan authorities but also the US authorities. Tamil Americans who advocate the struggle referred to in this article are referring to an armed struggle with terrorist undertones. The US Government does not tolerate involvement of immigrants or others in acts of terrorism and consider it a violation of the US Patriot Act signed by President George Bush on October 26, 2001 which was later extended for a further four year period on May 26, 2011 by President Barak Obama. This group has by deception disseminated information via radio stations, about 20 newspapers and multiple websites and infiltrated the political system in Washington and other countries buying legislators with political donations and their vote in exchange for believing and acting on deceptive information.
These US legislators may not be aware that at the height of the war in Sri Lanka, the supply of weapons procured by the LTTE since 1999 to the end of the war in 2009 against a free sovereign nation came from an enemy of the US namely North Korea. If the US legislators are offering their support to this group as was done by the Massachusetts Congressman James McGovern in promoting the Channel 4 video footage that was analyzed by world experts as doctored to discredit the Sri Lankan Army they need to be aware of their indirect support for terrorist groups with ties to their enemies, North Korea. The author of this article should also interview some Tamil families that have left Sri Lanka to save their sons from being conscripted by the LTTE. Some, who carried out clandestine fund raising did not want to sacrifice their sons but didn’t show sensitivity to the children of poor parents who sacrificed their children. It was okay to finance lethal weapons for use by the sons and daughters of the poor who couldn’t leave the country paying human smugglers that had to sacrifice their children under threat and intimidation. The expat children were indoctrinated on their visits to Sri Lanka in propagating more and more unhealthy hatred. This continued in their attempt to influence even second generation immigrant Tamil Americans who returned to Sri Lanka for visits. Hatred through deception continues as their way.
With The Patriot Act in place, the strongest measures are taken by the US Government in cracking down on offenders. By all accounts, the US authorities have the power to detain and deport immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. The disguise necessary for those who continue to do so have a reason as they are probably on the radar screen of the authorities since a raid of the FBI in Cumberland MD took place followed by closing down fund raising operations that keep emerging with innocuous names for the same cause.
During this raid some medical professionals who were Tamil Americans of Sri Lankan origin were arrested by the US authorities for funding terrorism. The Tamil American Physician mentioned in the article has been described as living in Cumberland MD. The name of the medical associates of Vimala Ranjithan has come up in fundraising efforts for the LTTE in the Cumberland MD area. It will be interesting to note where this doctor obtained her medical degree. It is very likely that she had her medical education at government expense in Sri Lanka while accusing Sri Lanka of discrimination against Tamils and “Genocide” the deception craftily presented with incomplete details.
The Cumberland group is also mentioned in the findings of the FBI investigation and was a source of funds for the huge insider trading scandal in Wall Street where the Sri Lankan Tamil – Raj Rajaratnam was contacted to invest over $10 million being funds raised by the pro LTTE factions under the guise of charities. The FBI cracked the case using an undercover ex LTTE heroin smuggler with an assumed name called Rudra who was serving a prison sentence at the end of which he cooperated with the FBI by penetrating LTTE organizations as a tradeoff for deportation.
The description of the interaction between the immigrant population of Sri Lankan Americans coming to verbal blows and run-ins is another deceptive interpretation provided not only by the above named spokesperson who was interviewed for this article and others who fall into the same category of Tamil Americans. We are fortunate not to have the run-ins and verbal blows experienced in Canada, UK and some parts of Australia and even Norway. These run-ins are between rivals and pro LTTE Tamil gangs that have become a huge problem for some countries. These incidents are amply described by other Tamil victims in the written and visual media. This does not happen in the Washington area. The immigrant community of Sri Lankans of all ethnicities in Washington come together socially at events organized by community associations and the Sri Lanka embassy crossing ethnic and religious lines. The information conveyed in this article is further from the truth than the distance between the two countries. Also, the associates of those interviewed for this article are notable absentees at Sri Lankan community events as they choose to separate themselves even on American soil.
As a premier newspaper, the sample of Tamil Americans selected for interview is a poor reflection of fair and unbiased journalism. The Tamil American Diaspora do not all share the sentiments expressed in this article. There are plane loads of Sri Lankan Tamils converging on the country since the end of the war and some have purchased property among the majority Sinhalese communities without hesitation. One needs to visit Sri Lanka to witness the level of small business operators from the Tamil community who are making it in the south and are patronized by the majority community that lives among them amicably. Similarly, the northern areas of the country is thriving and developing with rebuilding and developing businesses moving into the area.
The Washington Post has not followed some of the salient principles of journalism. The Society of Professional Journalists believes in public enlightenment and not misleading the public. The duty of every responsible journalist should be to seek the truth and they should test the accuracy of the sources and investigate motives of such sources especially in cases where democratic nations are denigrated. If the ground situation in Sri Lanka was checked and if a larger sample of Tamil Americans were interviewed from among those who visit the country regularly, the caption of the article “Unpeaceful Coexistence” will be proved to be completely the converse of the real situation. As a recent returnee from the country and a regular visitor annually for the past many years, it is appalling that the Washington Post has published such inaccurate information exhibiting irresponsible journalism. Emily Wax has never been known to write accurate or favorable reports of the positive aspects about Sri Lanka. This is an opinion shared by many who know the real facts. This article supports a faction that is in connivance with enemies of the US and Sri Lanka as supporters of terrorism. The influence of this group is an obstacle causing doubt in many western governments that are fighting terrorism on the one hand, and being exploited by refugees from Sri Lanka that are benefiting by deception. Sri Lanka is strategic in the Indian Ocean but the negative image that has tainted relations between the US and Sri Lanka is at the instigation of the deception of this group that Emily Wax has chosen to bring to the forefront.
It must also be noted that the factions of the Tamil Diaspora in Western nations who have abandoned the country under the accusation of “Genocide of Tamils” have left the country with no intention of returning permanently. Their oath to new identities in foreign nations with sound social benefits programs and foreign citizenship stands to be lost without continuing deception. There are many who want to go back to their roots but are influenced by misinformation.
The LTTE supporters over the years raised funds through crimes that included drug and human smuggling proven by the FBI. The connection to the Galleon scandal and FBI findings on investment of such “dirty money” became part of the insider trading scandal.
The subterfuge referred to in this article with regard to relations between Saudi and Iran should not be compared as the same as in Sri Lanka. Fireworks referred to in the screening of “Lies Agreed Upon” never took place. It was a response to misinformation that was presented to clear the deceptive impression of a nation within the halls of the US Congress by screening the Chanel 4 video named “Killing Fields” implying that it was similar to the killing fields of Cambodia sponsored by the State of Sri Lanka. Killing fields has been challenged as doctored by world renowned video experts and video clips have been challenged even by educated Tamils confirming that the LTTE video recorded their executions and used this against the Army. The details of the video proved many discrepancies. This is furthest from the truth and the misnomer was deliberate to stir up exaggerated comparison of Pol Pot to the leader of Sri Lanka. Actions of Pol Pot against his own people can be considered akin to the actions of Prabhakaran who treated dissidents the same way.
Sri Lanka has completed a full investigation through the Lessons Learned and Reconciliation Commission with a report and recommendations through a sincere effort to correct the causes for an armed terrorist struggle. The progress of Sri Lanka does not need the interference of diaspora organizations that enjoy foreign citizenships and continue to engage in acts of subterfuge to disrupt the peace in a country that they have abandoned. It amounts to foreign citizens meddling in the affairs of a sovereign nation and Sri Lanka does not have to tolerate it through media deception as does the article in the Washington Post.
In Washington Tamil and Sinhalese families mingle and live peacefully. Some have even expressed solidarity with the peace efforts of the government as they can now live in peace. The aspirations of the ordinary peace loving and hardworking Tamil people in Sri Lanka are different from the diaspora. If so, why is there so much agitation by those who don’t even live in Sri Lanka? Tamil Americans say fight is not over. What are they fighting for? The word is “separation” although unspoken. The means is “violence” and “terror” once again by not those who live within the country but those who are meddling from outside.
Protesting against buying products made in Sri Lanka to cripple exports affects not the country but its people that include poor Tamils who have never been a priority for the diaspora who finance all forms of destruction with fundraising sometimes under the guise of charities but do not support the poor and low caste Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Their claims asking for jobs in America proves economic migration on the basis of unsubstantiated claims of discrimination and non-existent genocide. The economic hardships in Sri Lanka are not selectively directed at one particular ethnic group. It affects all people.
Following the end of the conflict, Sri Lanka has made it very clear to the world at large that includes countries that support it and also many of their critics that Sri Lanka will not be divided by diaspora designed “struggles” to create chaos.
The country spans only 25,332 square miles in a pear shaped island that is approximately 139 miles from shore to shore across and approximately 268 miles in length. Relative to the USA it is the size of the state of West Virginia and not a divisible country.
The people of Sri Lanka have lived together in harmony and are embracing the new found freedom and peace and strive to make the best of it. As a Sri Lankan American, we as an immigrant group in the USA wish to designate ourselves as such. We deplore attempts by irresponsible journalists to refer to immigrants from Sri Lanka to this great nation using divisive ethnic hyphenations (such as Tamil Americans) to designate divisions.
We are Sri Lankan Americans. We enjoy a right to a voluntary dual citizenship arrangement between the USA and Sri Lanka that many Tamil immigrants have chosen to take, and we deplore terrorism and stand for nothing short of a unified nation never to be divided by any forces that instigate hostilities and violence. The people had enough for 30 years and we are no longer an “Unpeaceful” nation. On the contrary, “Sri Lanka is one of the most peaceful nations” for any ordinary individual to live and its people wish to keep it that way. Emily Wax had better get this right.