In 1951, Guy Gunaratne’s Sri Lankan father learned English by reading in a London bookshop. Almost 70 years later, the same shop sells his son’s novel.Guy Gunaratne considers their very different journeys.
“Tamil National Alliance(TNA)Leader Rajavarothayam Sampanthan MP and TNA National list Parliamentarian MA Sumanthiran won many hearts and minds by participating in the official Independence day ceremony held in Battaramulla on February 4th….”
“The report initially examines Thatcher’s policy on Sri Lanka during her decade in power. Her opening salvo was to dispatch former MI5 director (Jack Morton), a veteran of Malaya and Ireland. He reported back on ‘the depressing picture of apparatus and morale in the security forces tackling the Tamil problem’, at a time when the Tamil armed struggle for independence was just beginning.
Then, from 1983-1987, KMS Ltd, a British mercenary company comprised of ex-SAS soldiers (many of them Dhofar veterans), trained Sri Lankan police commandos, army officers and helicopter gunship pilots in counter-insurgency techniques. KMS became infamous in the late 1980s when its boss, David Walker, was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal. It is now one of Britain’s oldest private military contractors, trading under the name of Saladin Security.
The 1990s were no different; UK military training continued unabated. The Defence Attaché at the British High Commission even described himself as a protégé of General Frank Kitson, godfather of Britain’s colonial counter-insurgency campaigns. Then in 1997, almost 50 years after Sri Lanka became independent from the Empire, the British Army helped establish a military academy on the island for senior officers.
The Ministry of Defence attached a British Colonel to the college, where he held one of the highest positions. His first batch of students included a young Kamal Gunaratne, who would go on to command the Sri Lankan Army’s 53rd Division in the killing fields during 2009. His unit is alleged to have executed the Tamil female journalist Isaipriya. The twisted irony is that the college’s motto was, ‘To war with wisdom and knowledge’.”
“When I arrived in Sri Lanka in 2004 I saw the total destruction caused by the Boxing Day tsunami. Houses and trees had been ripped out of the ground along the eastern coast, with bodies and belongings strewn among the debris. Over 30,000 people were killed in Sri Lanka alone, not to mention India, Indonesia, Thailand and Myanmar.”
“The LTTE network outside London was the strongest in Leicester and Milton Keynes but even their participation was limited. Thanam was disappointed because he had operated from Milton Keynes, yet even those willing contributors and volunteers evaded him. Eventually, the LTTE UK was able only to organise five buses and they were operated carrying LTTE flags, banners and placards
To coincide with the inauguration of the Commonwealth Games, the LTTE in the United Kingdom gathered at Barrowfield Street in Glasgow G40 3QZ on July 23 at 3.30 pm. Although the LTTE expected between 400-500 cadres, activists, supporters and sympathizers living in the UK and overseas, they could muster less than 150 men and women, mostly rejected and pending asylum seekers, but a few residents. The event was organised by the Tamil Coordinating Committee (TCC) led by Lucien Rupert Soosaipillai a.k.a Thanam, the LTTE chief in the UK.”
“It started that first night at the police station in Colombo, with kicking, punching, slapping and beating with blunt instruments. Siva was hung upside down by his feet, his hands tied behind his back, and his head submerged in a barrel of water.
He was suffocated by having a plastic bag soaked in petrol tied over his head. He was, branded on several occasions with a hot metal rod, leaving 11 visible scars on his back, and burned with cigarettes leaving at least 17 visible scars.
An expert independent medical report subsequently obtained in the UK confirms Siva’s scars are consistent with his account of torture. He also has the arrest warrant and court documents renewing his detention to prove he was indeed held in custody.”
This is a significant error of judgement on the part of sections of the Lankan British Muslim community in London and I am both thankful and relieved by the political astuteness of the Sri Lankan Muslim civil society groups based in Sri Lanka who have swiftly distanced themselves from this sad manifestation of political myopia.
“Britain is to join the US and three other countries in pushing for a full international inquiry into alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka after the government there failed to satisfy international calls for a such an inquiry, Downing Street announced on Sunday.”
India is set to support an international investigation into alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan army in the final stages of its long civil war, government sources said on Wednesday.
Its decision to add its weight to a campaign led by Britain and the United States will be a serious blow to Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Sri Lankan president, whose government has traditionally had strong ties with India.
As the biggest regional power, India’s support will also increase the likelihood that next month’s United Nations Human Rights Committee meeting in Geneva will pass a resolution calling for an international investigation.
“The British government had “no objection” to retired SAS officers training security forces in Sri Lanka three months after India’s 1984 Golden Temple massacre, recently released government papers show. The disclosure comes days after documents emerged that an SAS officer advised India on a plan to storm the temple in Amritsar, the Sikh religion’s holiest site. It widens the debate over Britain’s role in the Golden Temple raid, revealing how Downing Street allowed former and serving special forces soldiers to help counter separatist movements across south Asia.”
“We were satisfied that there was ample evidence of a “widespread” and “systemic” attack conducted by the Sri Lankan authorities, the AI and EU reports referring in terms to the abuse of the Tamil population being part of a government “strategy,” Ruling that they “did not find it credible that, if only from his service in the police from 2003 to 2009 that the appellant did not know of the routine and serious abuse of Tamils”, the Upper Tribunal Judges said “…it is our view that the country evidence shows overwhelmingly that the Sri Lankan authorities were specifically attacking the Tamil population, the police force being agents in that attack, certainly by the way of torture and kidnapping.”
“The ringing indictment of caste-based discrimination and prejudice contained in a strongly worded resolution that the European Parliament passed last month has put this particular form of human rights abuse firmly on the international agenda. Equally importantly, the resolution has served to drag this pernicious institution out of the shadows of the South Asian migrant experience in Europe where it has long remained hidden and into the public domain of legal and institutional scrutiny.”
We are pleased to share a link to download the Master thesis of Marianne Godard which deals with “Sri Lankan Migrants and Identity in Contemporary British Fiction: Roma Tearne’s Art of Memory”. This work, headed by Professor Ruth Morse, was realized in the framework of the Master in Anglophones studies at the University Diderot Paris 7.
Référence: Godard M., 2011, “Sri Lankan Migrants and Identity in Contemporary British Fiction: Roma Tearne’s Art of Memory”, Master’s thesis in Anglophones studies, Paris, University Diderot Paris 7, p.57
David Cameron flew to the Tamil dominated north of Sri Lanka to see – and hear – for himself the allegations of human rights. Jon Snow asked him whether he thinks his presence at the summit can influence President Rajapaksa.