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Kohona says it’s best for MIA to stay with music

In an exclusive conversation, via satellite from Colombo, Sri Lanka, Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona responds to comments about the Sri Lankan government made by Oscar- and Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist M.I.A. during her recent appearance on the Tavis Smiley show.

[Aired on PBS stations on Feb 18, 2009]

Before talking to Sri Lanka's, Foreign Secretary Dr. Palitha Kohona, Tavis Smiley talked with Ravi Nessman:

Ravi Nessman has been covering events there for the Associated Press. He is the Colombo bureau chief for the AP

Tavis: Let me start by asking, for those here who do not understand what this civil war is all about, what's going on with regard to the back story of this civil war, take a minute or two just to explain to me what this civil war's all about.

Nessman: Sure. There's been ethnic tension in this country for a very long time - since independence, in fact, between the Sinhalese majority and the Tamil minority, who make up less than 20 percent of the population. After independence, there were quite a few laws passed by the Sinhalese majority that the Tamil minority felt marginalized - their culture, their language, their religion.

Basically, it created a situation where, by the 1970s, a lot of independence movements rose up. And right now what we're seeing is the culmination of a 25-year civil war between a militant faction that rose up in this foment of independence in the '70s called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, or the Tamil Tigers, and the government.

And what the Tamil Tigers have been fighting for is an independent Tamil state in the north and the east of this island.

Tavis: So what's the state of the civil war as we speak? You referred to the culmination of this ongoing war that we are witnessing now, but what's the status of the civil war as we speak?

Nessman: As soon as a couple months ago they used to control quite a large area of the north. They had a basically conventional army with artillery guns, with soldiers, with a small air force and navy. In the past couple of months, though, the government forces have overrun nearly all of that territory, so right now what's left of the Tamil Tigers are sort of boxed into a very, very small area on the northeast coast. It's about 100 square kilometers. Along with them, there are tens of thousands of civilians also trapped in that area.

Tavis: So does that mean that the civil war is about to come to an end?

Nessman: It looks like the conventional phase of this war is pretty close to over. It's hard, though, to write off the Tamil Tigers. This is a group that began as a guerilla group. They've carried out suicide bombings, hundreds of suicide attacks they've been blamed for across the country. They assassinated former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

So even if they lose their artillery pieces, they lose their conventional component, they still will be pretty likely able to carry out suicide bombings and other guerilla attacks for at least months, maybe years, to come.

Tavis: And what's the government's response going to be once they, beyond having them boxed in, have succeeded to the point where the civil war is over? What will the government do then?

Nessman: They want a political resolution to the ethnic tension in the country, meaning - traditionally what that's meant is that they devolve some of power down to the provinces, which would let Tamil majority provinces have some form of self-rule within the framework of Sri Lanka.

How that compromise comes about, whether it's enough to satisfy the Tamil people, remains to be seen. You have to remember that these people were angry enough 25 years ago to begin a civil war, and they haven't gotten less angry over the past 25 years.

Tavis: They haven't, Ravi, got any less angry, but to the earlier point you made, they're, in terms of the war, at least, boxed in, to your earlier point, in such a way where it appears, at least, that they can't win this militarily. So if they can't win it militarily, why not accept some sort of power-sharing arrangement?

Nessman: One thing that a lot of people don't recognize is that the Tamil Tigers themselves are not the only representatives of the Tamil community. There are political voices that are not this militant group, and it remains to be seen whether the government, being victorious on the battlefield, will be able to be magnanimous and to give what the Tamil community would see as a legitimate compromise, or will say, well, we've just crushed you on the battlefield; we'll give you the absolute bare minimum, and the Tamil community will find that objectionable.

Or perhaps they'll accept it and, another generation down the road, another conflict like this could flare up.

Tavis: The government there has been accused of targeting civilians. The U.N., in fact, has had something to say about the strategy of the government in Sri Lanka. What's your sense as a journalist of how that part of the story is being covered with regard to these accusations against the government?

Nessman: This is a very difficult story to cover as a journalist. The war zone is a black hole, Tavis. We're barred from going in, most aid workers are barred from going in. So all of these accusations that fly back and forth, a lot of it is based on scattered reports that we're getting - the very few reports we're able to get.

And from what we're able to get from doctors up there who are the very few people with telephones that still work, from some of the witnesses who've fled, some civilians who've left, is that the government appears to be shelling in this very small area with tens of thousands of civilians, and that seems to be causing a lot of civilian casualties.

On the other hand, the Tamil Tigers have been accused by some of the civilians who've fled of shooting at the fleeing civilians. The government says that they're being used as human shields to prevent the government offensive from taking that last bit of land. Both sides deny all the accusations against them, but what seems clear from the reports is that civilians are being killed, and they're being killed by both sides.

Tavis: So given, again, that the Tamil people, at least those who are fighting, are boxed in now to this area in the northeast part of the country, do you have any sense of how much longer it will be before at least the official, if I can use that word, the civil war that's underway, how long before this part of this story is over?

Nessman: We can't get up there, and the information is so scattered that we're getting. We hear reports of battles that are rumored that may or may not even be happening, massive casualties on one side, massive casualties on the other. I can't tell you if the Tamil Tigers even retain a conventional fighting component right now or still maintain a massive army up there. We have absolutely no idea.

The president himself said on February 4th we were just days away, the government was just days away from victory over the Tamil Tigers. But this is more than two weeks later, and there's still fighting going on. So it's very difficult to know what's exactly going on in the north, how long it's going to go on for, what kind of fighting is actually happening, what the capabilities are of both sides.

Tavis: Ravi Nessman is the bureau chief for the Associated Press in Sri Lanka. He's in Colombo, has been there since 2007. Ravi, nice to have you on. Thanks for sharing your insights of a very difficult and tricky story to get your arms around, but thank you for your time, I appreciate it.

Nessman: No problem, Tavis, thank you.

45 Comments

Dr. Kohona,
You have to answer many more MIAs. THIS IS THE BEGINNING! Save your ammunition!

"Tamil people are our brothers, our sisters they are our people". "In Srilanka there is a complex political situation, LTTE terrorists ...."

Mmmm.... You are a joker. I don't know how old you are in 1958 - when hundreds of innocent tamils killed by Sinhala govt supporetd thugs.

1977 - Thousands of innocent tamils again killed by Sinhala govt supported thugs

1983 - Several thousands of innocent tamils again killed by Sinhala govt supported thugs

Tamils never choose violent path, it was forced on them by state terrorism. What do you expect tamils to keep watching until the whole race is wiped out by Sinhala state.

1948-1983 For 35 years tamils chose democratic way to protest against attrocities by sinhala governments.

In 1983 tamil youths including LTTE took arms to protect tamils after patiently waited for 35 years. LTTE is one of the by-product of sinhala chauvinism. Identify the root cause of the problem and solve it. Don't bluff "This is the complex problem because LTTE has Airforce, Navy bla bla ,,,,,". History tells, tamils have no basic right in Srilanka. They are treated as second class citizens. First address tamils plea through constitutional reform, accept pluralism, multi-culturalism, maintain law and order. Every problem will be settled overnight, including LTTE. It is not a complex problem as you claimed, a high schooler can simply understand, even with a doctorate you have difficulty understanding or pretending to be.

This is the curse on Srilakan society, at one point one of the highest literacy rate (92%) in the region this problem is dragging for the last 61 years! SHAME ON YOU!

Posted by: Thayaparan, T | February 19, 2009 01:09 AM

The unsolicited advice given by Dr Kohone to MIA, to mind her own music is typical of the undemocratic and intolerant attitude of the government of Sri Lanka. Fortunately for MIA she is not in Sri Lanka, otherwise she would run the risk of getting bumped off by unknown ‘patriots’. Dr K says that she doesn’t know the true situation in the North, if so why all this censorship, why not open up to the foreign media.
Recently the President himself stated at a public function that, he did not wish to showcase what was happening in Sri Lanka to the world. At the same event he said “why doesn’t the Commissioner General of UN or ‘who is it’ Secretary, come and see for himself”. These were his words delivered in a very sarcastic manner. Later this statement was reported as an invitation to Mr Banki Moon to visit Sri Lanka. Fortunately the UN has taken him to his word and Mr John Holmes is now visiting Sri Lanka.
The Government wants to ‘eat the cake and have the cake’. Get as much foreign aid in the name of the victims of war but not allow the aid giving agencies to involve in divesting it. Much caution must be exercised by the aid givers to ensure that aid reaches the victims of the conflict and not be diverted by the Government to fund its other activities. A good example is Tsunami aid which was diverted to the ‘Helping Hambantota fund’.

Posted by: Truth | February 19, 2009 02:11 AM

What does Palitha Kohona know about the denial of legitimate rights and genocide that is being presently faced by Tamils? Nothing. His state knows only to kill Tamils and defend the brutality and tell others "shut up".

Musicians are with emotions. They can understand the feelings of people better than defiant politicians!

Kohona should learn the truth from M.I.A

Posted by: Justin | February 19, 2009 05:57 AM

Well, Mr Kohana,
Tamils are your sisters & brothers!!! Thatswhy your forces removed 190 youths and 120 girls & young mothers from the Nazi model internment camp,youths are killed and buried in down south to hide to the world. all women are gang raped and buried.
Who are you to comment on M.I.A ? How long can you cheat whole world by your properganda under banners of "war on terror" & "war for peace".Your Day time dreaming of military solution to the cause of "Self determination of Tamils" will come end soon.

Posted by: nket | February 19, 2009 06:58 AM

MIA EXPRESSED HER CONCERN ABOUT THE GENOCIDAL WAR CONDUCTED AGAINST THE TAMIL MINORITY IN SRI LANKA THROUGH HER MUSIC TO THE WORLD. SRI LANKA IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THAT USES CLUSTER BOMBS AGAINST ITS OWN CITIZENS. SRI LANKA IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THAT BOMBARD REFUGEE CAMPS AND KILL THE TAMIL REFUGEES. SRI LANKA IS THE ONLY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD THAT BANNED THE INTERNATION RED CROSS, MEDIAS AND OTHER UN RELIEF ORGANISATIONS IN THE WAR EFFECTED AREAS.

Posted by: T.Douglas | February 19, 2009 08:06 AM

Kohona is ignoring the realities of the tamil peoples' suffering since independence - the neumerous arrests, assaults & killings - merely because they wanted equality in every sphere of life. MIA is like any other international observer and has a right to express her views.

Posted by: Nathan | February 19, 2009 09:16 AM

Dr Palitha Kohona - the articulate, debonair, gentleman ex-Aussie diplomat (I believe he still holds an Aussie passport) speaks soothingly and accomodatively - "Tamils are our people; our brothers and sisters" etc This is the tone and content of language and outlook needed in an environment where the Govt attempts to repair the damage done to its fabric of unity. The talented Maya Arulampalam (MIA) refers to the "sufferings of the Tamil people in the Wanni" something which the Foreign Secy will not deny. She has, in no way, used unacceptable or undue invective on the Sinhala people in the global stage in which she is now a recognised player.
One can only hope the sentiments of both the good diplomat and singer will result in the remedy we are all seek to heal Sri Lankas
deep wounds.

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | February 19, 2009 10:19 AM

Excellent reply by Dr Kohonne . This MIA has to be put in her place . She talks as if she is her "Miss know all" . when in fact she knowa next to nothing of the ground situation in SL . These words " Genocide " Humanitarian Crisis " "Grievances " have all been used very liberally to mislead the whole world . Tamils and Sinhalese co-existed peacefully long before MIA was born !

Posted by: Anoma | February 19, 2009 12:23 PM

Sinhalese are trying to subjugate Tamils, and labeling anyone who resists this subjugation as a terrorist. It is a freedom of expression to say what is going on in Sri Lanka. M.I.A has every right to say what is going on in Sri Lanka.

Posted by: raj | February 19, 2009 12:29 PM

How rude he is making this comment.
I am surprised this coming from a well educated person holding a high profile foreign affairs office.

Posted by: Ravi | February 19, 2009 01:36 PM

alance assessment of what is going on in Sri Lanka, readers including MIA and these commentators should read what moderate Tamil leaders say about LTTE. Just type these names and do a search in the internet; leaders like Karuna, devananda and Ananda Sangaree etc. are in the view that the Tamils have to be liberated from the Tamil Tigers, they support the government to do so and that's what happening in Sri Lanka.

Posted by: Saliya | February 19, 2009 01:48 PM

Mr K should is another money eating puppet of the Mahinda regime. What else is he going to say? Where was he when innocent Tamils and Muslims were brutally killed and raped? All he can do is discredit anyone who talks the truth. Tamils never wanted violence. Its pushed towards them in a plate by the racist Buddhist governments. What do you expect the Tamils to sit and take your abuse? Its time the world looks at the true color of the SL Gov and makes the judgment. We need many more MIAs to take this to the international stage. I am sure MIA will win a(many) Grammy in her lifetime. But its sad she didn't win at this crucial juncture as she would have definitely said something on the stage when she accepted the award. Another Sad luck to the Tamils..!

Posted by: Ramarajan | February 19, 2009 02:11 PM

Anoma, Can you read Thayaparan's comment

Posted by: Dan | February 19, 2009 02:19 PM

Well said Mr.Kohona.
MIA should know the ethnic cleansing acts of LTTE against Sinhalese and Muslims too if she is really working to prevent genocide. Could a number of Tamil politicians work with the Government of Sri Lanka if there is really a genocide.
JEYAM

Posted by: Jeyam | February 19, 2009 02:36 PM

Well done Mr. Kohhona, let them to do their business, well do our business!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 19, 2009 03:20 PM

Well said Mr. Palitha Kohona.

MIA should stick to Music. No to politics. I don't think she even knows where Jaffa or Mullative in Sri Lanka is.
She's just a typical brain washed young mother by
Tamil Diaspora using her career for Propaganda tactics
That's all!!

Posted by: Nihara | February 19, 2009 04:09 PM

Great comment from Dr. Kohona. It is very easy to cultivate hatred and mislead people which LTTE and it's supporters have been doing ever since.I wonder why poeple who really love tamil civilians are reluctant to comment on how the Sri Lankan government is trying to rescue civilians from LTTE's human shield giving food, shelter, medical...etc. If this is a racial problem, why should the government bother so much about these civilians. What is happenning in Sri Lanka is totally eradicating terrorism.

Posted by: arundathi shanmugasundaram | February 19, 2009 04:13 PM

Within the 25 year civil war in Sri Lanka, there were two ceasefires. During this time, there were several development projects by the government and UN agencies in the LTTE held areas. While the highly debated reasons for the failure of the ceasefires is now history, one uncontested factor is the fact that the tamil population in the LTTE held areas did not increase although the war had stopped. This is a hard fact proven by statistics. The tamils like MIA and her family who lead very comfortable lives outside the LTTE held areas, and the tamil people comprising 15% of the population of Sri Lanka who are living under the rule of law of the government of sri lanka outside of the LTTE controlled areas, both did not move back to the LTTE held areas, nor did they invest in these areas. That was the time that all these tamils should have put their emotions in to action and shown Sri Lanka and the world their confidence in the LTTE as rulers and representatives of the Tamil people by going to live in LTTE controlled areas. This kind of responsible support more than anything else would have helped create peace in the north and east of Sri Lanka. At least now, the Tamils who live outside the country should join the United Nations and other Sri Lankans by asking the LTTE lay down their arms, to stop brainwashing young children to go and blow themselves up, and to come out as a serious political force that can successfully stop the war in Sri Lanka. Honestly, there is no fun for the government of Sri Lanka or for other Sri Lankans to engage in a war where both soldiers and civilians are all dying.

Posted by: Sita | February 19, 2009 04:23 PM

Anoma is talking about the "ground situation". I'm sorry but unless you are reporting from vanni there is no way you yourself know what the ground situation is. We get news filtered and altered from both sides. Propaganda galore. According the GOSL they are saving civilians from the crutches of evil. According to sources close to LTTE, GOSL is murdering and raping. All half-truths. LTTE should lay down their arms and surrender to stop any further bloodshed. But why would they do that unless there are no overseeing entities to make sure the GOSL doesn't break any internationally established laws on prisoners and warfare? For their sake and the sake of the civilians trapped inside. Lets not kid ourselves we know that bar the infants and seniors coming out of the region all others will not be potential LTTE in the GOSL's eyes. Why wouldn't GOSL have UN or other such organizations be responsible for overseeing the welfare of these individuals? Yes LTTE did this, yes the GOSL did that... Too bad that neither side wants to take meaningful steps towards ensuring civilian safety but rather driven by self-serving and self-preserving motives.

Posted by: Dinesh | February 19, 2009 04:24 PM

Maya Arulpragasam did extremely well to bring to the attention of the world the genecide of Tamil people that has been going on for decades. Sinhala Political Establishment had genocide of Tamils in the heart right from days of independence in 1948, probably even earlier. This genocidal intent on the part of Sinhala Political Establishment has been played out on numerous occasions particularly in the east of the country where Tamil people have been murdered, slaughtered and otherwise driven out to settle Sinhalese who are mostly ex-convicts, and ex-servicemen. This type of creeping genocide of Tamils is culminating now in mass murders while the world funds murderous State terrorists and watch on occasionally making admonishing statements against the government of Sri Lanka.

Dr Kohona is a key member of the clique that carries out thesee genocidal murders. His attempt to call Tamils his brothers and sisters is not borne out by his governments actions. There is only one source of terrorism in Sri Lanka. And, that source of terrorism is the State terrorism of which Dr Kohona is a smooth talking but lying Foreign Secretary, who is trying to hide the blatant genocide of Tamils!

Posted by: P Shantikumar | February 19, 2009 04:28 PM

i think we need a diplomats like dr kohona.not leaders like ranil. by reading above comments i think most of the tamil people hate not only kohona all sinhalese people.forget the past.forget who kohana is .what matters today is unity.we all come from one country.if tamils know that they will never get their dream which is elam take all other political powers that gov.is wiiling to give

Posted by: pradeep edirisinghe | February 19, 2009 05:11 PM

Whoever voices for Tamils are branded as terrorists by Sri Lankan government. Finally, even Hillary Clinton couldn't escape from this brutal culture. It is absolutely a genocide against Tamils on the name of War on Terrorism going on in the North now. All the sinhalese are backing the government and all the Tamils are against the goverment. Obviously, Tamils don't want to live under sinhalese rule.

Posted by: Malini Robins | February 19, 2009 06:17 PM

mmm who is this Dr. someone has to chech the credential to see if he is infact a Dr. It is war of USA and India, using srilanka to play it to their tune for that using some modayas like Palitha and Rajapakse families.

Now, I will say LTTE, you refrained attacking civilians, but when the world is not bothered if the civilians are killed and they are Tamils, you have to rethink of your future actions, war is only painful if it comes to your own door, bring it to the doors of people who sit in colombo and promote war, time is running out

Posted by: Roshan Gunawardene | February 19, 2009 06:28 PM

How many thousands of Tamils and Muslims are sharing a very peaceful life in the south with Sinhalese?
People who left the country in 1970s and early 1980s should come to Sri Lanka and see the real situations of the country. You can’t just imagine things from Switzerland, Canada, and Germany or from France.
Yes, the Sinhalese dominated governments have done some unacceptable wrong doings, some time back in our history. However as many viewers commented, after 1983, in last 26 years, we haven’t had any those kinds of unfortunate incidents. So no point of talking things in past like 50years ago.

Posted by: Naresh | February 19, 2009 07:04 PM

I think as an experienced diplomat, Mr Kohona is right of what he is saying. Many lankans happy to see MIA's popularity but her political and social knowledge can't be the same as her talents in music.
Tamil Diaspora send millions of dollars each year to LTTE but the LTTE haven't done any social and cultural developments in the North and East parts of Sri Lanka. How many thousands of innocent civilians, Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims have been killed by the LTTE? So how you can stand for LTTE?

Posted by: Francis Jayerathnam | February 19, 2009 07:07 PM

The accusations of genocide in Sri Lanka are getting annoying… and not in the usual ways. Anybody who takes the charge seriously betrays a highly annoying ignorance about the state of affairs between Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
Genocide is not happening in Sri Lanka. Plenty of other nasty things are; but genocide is not one of them.
The LTTE and its supporters in the international Tamil Diaspora they dominate would like us to slap the label of ‘genocide’ onto the Sri Lankan government. Ignore this campaign.
Forget the ‘black hat’ vs. ‘white hat’ morality play. In fact, forget this when looking at any civil war in any country. Where human beings are involved, nothing is ever simple.
It seems that everyone knows that in Sri Lanka, some 75% or so of the population are Sinhalese and therefore mostly Buddhist; some 15% are Tamil and mostly Hindu; and the rest are Muslim, Burghers, Malays, etc. But things still aren’t that simple.
The Tamils alone have numerous cleavages based on the antiquity of their community in Sri Lanka, their caste, the main local occupation; etc. Moreover, in many rural communities, telling these Dravidian people apart is impossible, especially as intermarriage and all the other little human connections come into play.
Yet the LTTE claims to represent all Tamils on the Island; and murdered tens of thousands of them to underscore the point. They’ve killed Tamils from rival insurgent movements, from federalist parties, schoolteachers who wouldn’t let them recruit children from their classrooms, people who wouldn’t pay extorted ‘war taxes’, and many more.
When engaged in ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ (a favorite LTTE activity a few years back), it was hard to segregate Sinhalese from Tamils from Muslims when walloping machetes into panicked villagers in the middle of the night. Grenades tossed in crowded cellars aren’t discriminating either. Truck bombs rammed into an office tower and time bombs on crowded buses also couldn’t differentiate between Sinhalese and Tamils.
Many observers who pay close attention to the 35 year history of the LTTE believe that the Tigers have killed more Tamils than the government. It’s also true that the government has killed more Sinhalese than the Tamil Tigers ever managed: In the past 40 years two uprisings by Maoist Sinhalese were suppressed with extreme ruthlessness and tens of thousands died. Sri Lanka has been far more discriminating in fighting the Tamil Tigers.
The Sri Lankan government is certainly guilty of human rights abuses, and the current government’s behavior can be very troubling. Yet genocide is one crime that they cannot be accused of; no matter how shrill the wailing from Tiger’s propaganda outlets.
Lately, those outlets have been shrill indeed. After 25 years of guerrilla warfare and 35 years of terrorism, the Tigers are finally being crushed. Whole regions of the country have been quiet for months, the Tiger air force has vanished, their artillery has been captured, and their founder and leader has apparently deserted his remaining forces.
But like Hitler or Saddam Hussein; Vellupillai Prabhakaran is not above sacrificing anybody his followers can compel into service. As the last guerrilla forces retreated into their final sanctuary, they dragged in every Tamil civilian they could find as a human shield.
Now, the Tigers are screaming that genocide is being perpetrated on their human shields… Well, this could be easily solved by laying down their arms and surrendering; but instead they seem determined to fight to the death.
The Tigers under siege are screaming for food and medical aid to be sent to their hostages. The Sri Lankan Army doesn’t share this misplaced compassion.

The Tigers are screaming for a cease-fire. Every ceasefire that occurred in the past 25 years was used as an opportunity to re-arm and re-fit, before the Tigers ended it with a new offensive. The Sri Lankan government can be forgiven for preferring surrender to a cease-fire.
Wars are terrible things, and it is best that they be ended – not be prolonged. The Sri Lankan Civil War, after over 70,000 dead and 25 years of ruin and expense, is finally coming to an end. Let it end.
Canada should retract its call for a ceasefire in Sri Lanka, and instead call on the Tigers to surrender. As for those people busy pressing the ‘genocide’ button; leave it alone. It won’t work if it keeps being misused.
John C Thompson is the President of The Mackenzie Institute in Toronto Canada

Posted by: vinivida | February 19, 2009 07:09 PM

Yes, in the past some mistakes have happened from both sides but still do we want the war for another 35 years???? I don't think so. Why nobody talks about what Tamil Tigers did to Sri Lanka? They also killed and still killing innocent Srilankans. I don’t think we have an ethnic problem in Sri Lanka but we have terrorist problem. Recently, Tamil Tigers used suicide bomber to killed innocent Tamil people as well as tried to threaten Tamil people to not to come to SL government area. (They already killed so many leaders including Tamils). Why can’t you people talk about that. Now, this government is trying to wipe the terrorist and build the country for our future kids. I think we should support to that idea instead fighting for a “Day Dream”. Other day when I talked with one of my Tamil colleague, we both agreed that if we didn’t have this terrorist war, our beautiful Sri Lanka would be a develop country by now. Please let us stand together and make that dream come true.

Posted by: A True SriLankan | February 19, 2009 07:10 PM

Well said, Dr. Kohona! You were very articulate and candid. MIA should not mix Music with Politics....as the two don't compliment each other. Unless MIA wants to get ahead in Music by throwing in the "Tamil" connection which is a very primitive way of expressing her opinion. In addition, MIA is totally mistaken. There are several other Tamil musicians/artists round the world who have made a name for themselves. Take Derrick J in Australia for instance. Maybe what MIA said was that she is the only "Tamil" with LTTE or terrorist connections who is in the spotlight in music. The she has a point. But who supports terrist sympathizers today. Only those who wish to fool others for their own gain.

Posted by: CANTO | February 19, 2009 07:38 PM

Mia has the freedom of speech to say anything she wants as and individual, but not in the public media where she was granted air time to talk about her music career. After all every Tamil who talks about genocide knows truly in their heart there is no such thing happening in Sri Lanka. But why not use it to attack every possible way the GOSL with hate, anger and frustration as their blind belief on LTTE terrorists is about to collapse. Be responsible people. If you guys truly care for the citizens caught in the war, ask your so called rebel leader to let the people go. UN had confirmed LTTE is shooting the civilians trying to escape. Leave the past history behind. In retaliation with Sinhalese, LTTE had killed innocent Sinhalese , and done destruction to the economic, religious places in major scale. So if you want to start counting who had killed more, I think this issue will never end.

Posted by: Thila | February 19, 2009 08:33 PM

Every LTTE Terrorist is a Tamil, but not every Tamil an LTTE terrorist. Sinhalese know this fact and hence a huge Tamil population live in the southern Sri Lanka together with Sinhalese, Muslims, Burghers and Malays in peace and harmony.

SInhalese and Tamils always lived together in Sri Lanka for centuries, until the hatred and racism was injected into their blood by the psychopath Prabakaran and his psychodrama LTTE.

I still have fond memories of a Tamil family friend of my father (a teacher) who invited us to his home to share the joys and join the their traditions of Sinhala/Tamil New Year in 1979 in Jaffna. Such warm people, just like their counterparts in the south. All we talked about was what game toplay in the beach, while the ladies of the house together with my mother had prepared the meals... I miss them. Like wise, we invited them over to Colombo during Vesak and took good care of them for two weeks while staying at our place.

To all the Tamil Brothers and Sisters, we all need to UNITE against a common enemy - the LTTE terrorists, who have robbed all of us of our future, our families, our loved ones, our education, our peace and harmony, our togetherness, our oneness, our friendship, our fellowship, our mutual respects and our integrity and the right to be happy.

It is time... NOW. Let us shed any hatred like a snake sheds the old skin. Let us take care of one another, share the joy of reuniting. We Sinhalese do not hate you, we do not look down upon you. We all have the same problems: we all feel the pain, sorrow, sadness, hunger and rejection. Let us all join hands and work toward feelng calm, peace, harmony, joy, love and understanding. Let us construct the trust and respect we lost over three decades.

We all can learn from one another. We all can look out for each other. We all can look after one another. We all can share our feelings and the whole country together. We can recostruct years of progress denied or deprived to us. Let us not support destruction any longer.

We do not need Foreigners to tell us how to or what to do in our own country. We never told them that. Let us invite all Tamil brothers and sisters living on other lands to come visit us and show them around.

Let us wash their illusions away. Through our unity and the beauty of our Mother Lanka or Illankai. We are all chindren of this one mother, whether you like it or not.

Posted by: Nuke77 | February 19, 2009 08:57 PM

Most probable reason in Sri Lanka we all act stupid and dumb. when we get up in the morning Tamil people go read LTTE news propaganda and count how many army soldiers killed and same the Sinhala people, they count how many tigers killed.
We need to realize, who kill who. We killed here same people.It is time build united Sri lanka.
LTTE been terrorising Tamils people for long time. They have been spreading racism for decays. Take a five minute and think weather you ever think these problems independently.

Posted by: Ian silva | February 19, 2009 08:59 PM

listen up ltte patrons,
days of (what you may call) GLORY are getting faded as the troops advancing. it reveals the TRUTH which MR.VP and the gang of goons tried to hide from the whole world by misleading propaganda is getting no more a secret to nybody who has a bit of brains. torture chambers/forced slavery/shooting at fleeing innocent people/suicide attacks.......they are the chapters of the whole dilemma which is a total disaster to me. going few steps back to the history people been treated as slaves or animals(its kindda pathetic expression though).im trying to reason out with ma 1st hand experience in north and east before all these HUMANITARIAN OPERATIONS.. where are the houses LTTE had built for its pple,social welfare??? hospitals??? schools???? its a disgrace........ mallavi and many more hospitals was built by MSF...not LTTE!!!
then again a question may be raise "what absorbed the money which was sent by the tamil diaspora???"
i bow down my head and expect about the incidents oocured in 77 / 83 .it really is a disgrace.....all sinhalese should apologize through out their heart and soul.....BUT, for all the damage caused by the ltte in the name of war or revenge during the recent past will push its side down if you scale both the elements together.... dont get me wrong,,,,my pure intention was not to justify or rectify any wrong doing.....bad if always bad!!!

back to MIA-
you are such a talented,hip n sexy and spirit artist of our time.trust me you have already built a strong fan base in SL.we are so much happy for that.BUT (theres always a but)the focal points you bring in have already lost its grip. TN CM mr.karunanidhi tossed the same coin but it ended up stand still without falling to either way. earlier people had faith for not knowing what goes inside the tiger den.but now its nomore a mystery.... im not patronizing any of the sides.but my faith falls for the good of the people . listen to ya heart and say whether u stand by what you sing or state. people need peace.....let them live the life!

peace to all the sri lankan brothers and sisters!!!!!!!

may god bless ya'll!

Posted by: charminda rodrigo | February 19, 2009 09:39 PM

Yes, in the past some mistakes have happened from both sides but still do we want the war for another 35 years???? I don't think so. Why nobody talks about what Tamil Tigers did to Sri Lanka? They also killed and still killing innocent Srilankans. I don’t think we have an ethnic problem in Sri Lanka but we have terrorist problem. Recently, Tamil Tigers used suicide bomber to killed innocent Tamil people as well as tried to threaten Tamil people to not to come to SL government area. (They already killed so many leaders including Tamils). Why can’t you people talk about that. Now, this government is trying to wipe the terrorist and build the country for our future kids. I think we should support to that idea instead fighting for a “Day Dream”. Other day when I talked with one of my Tamil colleague, we both agreed that if we didn’t have this terrorist war, our beautiful Sri Lanka would be a develop country by now. Please let us stand together and make that dream come true.

I think my comment is fair and true. Therefore, publish the comment.(otherwise, how Tamils can say that the majority don't treat them if you are a Tamil)

Posted by: A True Srilankan | February 19, 2009 10:36 PM

Tamils are talking about violance against tamils in 1956, 1977,1983, etc.. ; Sinhalese can also talk of suicide bombings of civilian targets, massacres in north in early 1980s, etc.. & Muslims can talk of ethnic cleansing in Jaffna, massacres in Batticaloa,etc... In the end what all three communities should understand that they have committed grave mistakes in the past and our past is tainted with blood & painful memories. Hanging on to past will not make our lifes any better as you could see when you visit North & East in particular.

I dont know how many of you visited those areas and when did you go there last; but if you go there you would realise those communities are easily three decades behind from the rest of the country. You really feel for all those people who lived in wanni & are now coming to vuniya. They have suffered immensly due to the actions of the army and their so called liberator, LTTE.

As citizens its our duty now to provide them education, health care, livelyhood & other amenities. Once we start development in North & east and when basic economic & social needs are fulfilled 80% of the problem is solved. The rest can be solved through a political process.

May be some daispora tamils need war & would want to hang on with the bloody past. Its easy for them to insist on it while enjoying the perks & facilities in foreing countries. Their children are safe & their immediate families are not vulnerable. In a war innocent people die thats why we dont like war. Even a more sophisticated USA army bombs civilian targets in Iraq & afganistan but none call that as genocide. If their is genocide in this country at the moment it should start in Western province where majority of the tamils live among sinhalese & muslims.

Posted by: AsiriJ | February 19, 2009 10:46 PM

Kohona,
I am a Tamil lived in Sri Lanka among Sinhalese and faced 1983 riots against Tamils. I know how many Tamils got killed in Colombo and how many got raped. MIA has every riot to speak about Tamils. If anybody speak out please do not mark them as LTTE. This is a dirty tactic. We are living in UK with full of freedom. All Tamils are enjoing the full freedom all over the world except in Sri Lanka.

Why do not your Govt. of Sri Lanka allow any foreign journalists to Mullathivu to find out the actual story. Everybody it is genocide against to Tamils happening in Mullathivu. Your Govt. wanted hide this spreading to other countries. Yesterday 30 families wiped out by shelling in Mullathivu. You need to speak whatever Gothapaya told you to tell to the media, otherwise you may get the same cosequence as what happened to the reporter Lasantha.

Posted by: Rajah | February 19, 2009 11:30 PM

Great/ well balanced reply Mr.Kohona...you are a great son of our motherland..first of all Tamils in the world should understand the difference between Tamils and terrorists/LTTE.World shoulld know how many innocent peoples killed by this MIA's relatives (I'm wondering why she is so reluctant to use her own name/ Tamil identity?). Sri Lanka is a Sihalese Buddhist country, but MIA doesn't want to tell that there are Muslims, Bergurs, Maly's..Christians..Hindus minorities are living peacefully/happly for long time. They attacked the countries heart of Temple of Tooth Relick, Sri Maha Bhodi and they killed 100s of Buddhist Monks & Hindu Preasts (but they never killed/hurt eaven touched any catholic preast..its up to you all...). The Point is despite the fact that some of tamils are peacefully surviving in Sri Lanka, they don't have their own country/terrortery in this world and the countries like Canada,Norway,UK,swis,India..etc are now scared whether these ter'st will ask a peice from them too. Truth is MIA and most of other tamils, migrated to said countries as refugees and once the SL Govt. end this bloody war completly, these countries might ask them to go back to SL. MIA is only a part of shameless tamil ter. properganda. There are very good/tallented girls whose can sing better than mia in S'Lankan Tamil community..MIA if you hate/hurt you own mother, the similar repercussions will get you from your own son/daughter soon.That is the nature which culdn't be change any mighty God..so be realistic..be a good singer for the whole Universe not for Tamil Terroriets...being real Sinhalese buddhists one fine day we'l welcome to our/your wonderful motherland. MAY THE NOBLE TRIPPLE GEM BLESS YOU! -Shyamendra.

Posted by: SHYAMENDRA | February 19, 2009 11:58 PM

Dr. Palitha, very good answer. At least you have given a good answer to these LTTE mouth peices. MIA is doing a business. TAmils always say they are not well treated. In Colombo city 60% of the well riched people are Tamils. I done see these logics and arguments are working.

Posted by: Answer | February 20, 2009 12:07 AM

To all those 'good' Sinhalese including Palitha Kohona who speak of "Our Tamil brothers and sisters":

How about marching in the streets of Colombo or wherever to stop the killing of "Your Tamil brothers and sisters" that is going on right now?

If your real brothers or sisters were for example taken hostage by someone (as you say the LTTE is doing with "Your Tamil brothers and sisters") would you simply bomb them all to bits whatever the cost to your brothers or sisters?

It is this lying hypocrisy that will also continue the conflict for further generations to come

Posted by: N2 | February 20, 2009 02:24 AM

This is not a reply to the original post, rather a comment to the stance of many comments posted afterwards.

I am a Sri Lankan, Living in Sri Lanka, Among Sri Lankans.

in my childhood, I had been a member of a Local Softball Cricket team where I was the only Sinhala player.
During my school days, I was playing guitar for a local beat band where the lead singer was a Tamil friend.
I have been to a university where there were many Tamil friends. I was a part of an Orchestra which provided backing music for "Sangeetha Natya Sangham" festival obviously an event for Tamil Students.

In the Uni, a Tamil senior was my role model and he really helped me to take the first steps in to the career which I do for living today.

In my professional life, a Tamil manager identified me and got me the dream job.

I have many Tamil friends, who I trust and consider as ones closest to my heart.

I have read many comments from both Sinhalese and Tamils, living somewhere else in the world and worrying and writing about us (Tamils and Sinhalese) in Sri Lanka.

The real situation for one is what is really experienced by individuals. This is what I experience. I do not really believe in racial differences. All what matters to me is how genuine one is.
We all have undergone hardships, be it Sinhalese or Tamils. BUT I want my Tamil friends to be with me till the last breath I take.
I recall their warm friendliness every day.

I am not what I am, if not for all these associations.

I do not see any closer community than Tamils for us, Sinhalese. We eat, dress, worship, dance, and basically live in a manner which is extremely comfortable to each other.

whether you agree or disagree...this is my world..this what I fathom.

May Sri Lanka be a place where all the Sri Lankans live without hating each other !!!

Posted by: KCL | February 20, 2009 02:56 AM

These tamil voices dont represent tamil people . They are agressive , full of hatred and no room for reconciliation. The dicourse of you and Mia is very clear and it is guite understood why and who is it address to. You, like Ltte ,never wanted peace , never agreed on a practical solution and believed in a seperate state. So is there any room for peace talk? These attitudes justijy the military actions taken against this terror group and this time Mia want be able to save this sinking boat. You talk about your identity and independence, are we not entitled to live a peaceful life? To me MIa lost an opportunity to represent tamil people.

Posted by: vinnie jayaweera | February 20, 2009 03:20 AM


I see lot of comments where several Tamil readers have commented here about genocide & other sufferings by the Tamils.

I assume they are not living in Sri Lanka, but in other countries; If you are living here you will see lot of Tamils moving freely about, holding very higher-up & responsible jobs, having good positions even in the government sector etc, not harassed in any way.

It is true some unfair policies like Sinhala only, has come about earlier, but they are no longer there. The incidents such as July riots have been a black mark, but all happened due to this tension, and the corresponding terrorism.

So, any of you who have been talking on behalf of the LTTE; would you have come back to the Tamil Elam, if that has been established. I don't think you would have left your life abroad (you would have sent some money or paid 'kappan' and be happy that you have done your duty by the Tamil people). You are just siding with the Tamils because you are a Tamil. That is the normal response. BUT what you have to realize is that LTTE is not the sole representative of the Tamils.

If you are a true Tamil, you have to listen to the voices of other Tamil leaders as well, not the most forceful & violent. But such people were a target of the LTTE, as you are well aware (genocide by LTTE on their own people?)

What genocide are we talking about when one of the most feared LTTE commanders, 'Karuna' has now entered the democratic stream & in the government? According to genocide or even suppressing Terrorism theory, he & his followers must be dead by now.

MIA should think of herself as a former Sri Lankan, not a Tamil, just like the world famous bowler Muralitharan does. Learn from such people.

Posted by: Chandana | February 20, 2009 03:37 AM

Very good response from Dr.Kohonna. How much MIA knew about real situation in Sri Lanka other than reading and listening to LTTE propaganda. Is she aware how many civilians got killed by LTTE during this three decade period. Our country would have been one of the best in south Aisa if this blood thirst Pirabaharan not born in Sri Lanka. It is our governments duty and responsibility to save innocent civilians while defeeting and eleminating the terrorism.I think present government understand it very well.

Posted by: Renuka | February 20, 2009 03:41 AM

Well if you advice MIA, not to mix the Music with politics, then in the same band width, tell your Safron clad Bikkus that don't mix the relegion and politics.

It is this cocktail of Relegion and Politcs made the Sinhala polity drunk and commit all the violence against the Tamils from 1956.

Posted by: april | February 20, 2009 04:36 AM

Of course,we are deeply worried,it is also easy to use a word like genocide to describe the situation.Is it the same happened in Ruwanda or Kambodia in recent past? OK if it is the same in SL who helpped most for a situation like this. They are none other than tamil diaspora, they helped to dig their own peoples graves with LTTE.

Posted by: Ravi Sene | February 20, 2009 06:08 AM

Kohona is a liar.when interviewed on SBS TV in australia, he said in reposnse to the question if the sl army comitted indecent acts, that the army acted in exemplary fashion in haiti where they went as peace keepers. He also said they they would never commit indecent acts. We know what happend to women in haiti, and to the LTTE commandos at anuradhapura and to the IDP's in the internmemnt camps.gotabayas recent statements about tamil women and men, is the nadir of their buddhist culture. So any thing he could say about MIA should be judged by his record.

Posted by: student of history | February 20, 2009 08:02 AM

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