2009-07-14

Sri Lanka: Small Miracle ii

I posted the new Sri Lanka Tourism clip and received the following comment from an anonymous reader:
“yes there is a lot to be proud of:
sri-lanka, the most dangerous place for journalists and freedom of speech.

sri-lanka, just 1 month ago, 20 000 civilians perished while the country and rest of the world watched on.

sri-lanka, happy to steal the savings of a lifetime of a 75 year old man, keep him in an IDP camp, and not allow him to return to his home and his family - b/c you see, he is obviously a threat to national security.

so much to be proud of in sri-lanka.

this ad should be overlayed in red- you can not hide the blood stains of all the lives lost.

don't stick your head in the ground like an ostrich.”

Dear Anonymous, first and foremost, thank you for your comment. I do not encourage anonymous comments, but however, since your comment deserves a reply that illustrates my point of view, I decided to publish it here.

To begin with, I too feel your pain and frustration. Trust me, my head is not buried in the ground, and nor is my vision burred with a layer of red film.

As for the freedom of speech and Reporters without Borders, please see my point of view in here and here. Compare the media freedom we exercise to other countries like Russia, North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia, Syria or Cuba. United Arab Emirates, which ranks almost 100 positions above Sri Lanka can impose fines up to about $136,000 for carrying misleading news that harms the national economy and for deliberately publishing false news. There are also fines of about $272,000 for insulting members of the ruling elite, and journalists could also end up in jail in addition. Compare that, to the Media Freedom in Sri Lanka.

In Sri Lanka, anyone of us has the freedom to express our view in any which way we want – let alone our opinion, we are even free to publish whole damn newspaper if we’d wish so. The Tamil Tigers did that, JVP does it, NGO’s do it... Same freedom is expressed over radio, television and other mediums – just look at the number of totally useless and crappy news stations that pollute our airwaves.

Sri Lankan media needs to learn about responsibility and accountability that comes with their media freedom. Unfortunately, some learn it the hard way. They pay a high price. Blame them for the sh*t they get into, don’t blame the country.

The truth is, there were news channels like Al Jazeera and BBC reporting from the front-line saying “that no independent media is allowed in the warzone” whilst they were there with the advancing forces. How did they get there if the reporters were not allowed in to the conflict zone? Should we fine them a few million rupees like the UAE, should we land them in prison or should we kick them out of the country? I’d go with kicking them out of the country, we have more than enough hungry mouths to feed in our prisons anyway.

'Iraq

As for the 20,000 people who perished (I do not know where you got the numbers, but GA’s office has maintained the true figures since they were feeding them all these years); please do not look at our country in isolation. Look at Pakistan, Afghanistan, or Iraq where 1.3 million people perished without any positive outcome and you will get a better picture of the true cost of war. That 1.3 million people died from the bullets and bombs fired by the so called “Western Powers” who took us to the UN Human Rights Council – to teach us how to conduct a civil war..!

Please wipe the red film off your eyes and look around. Sri Lankan Military was exceptionally brilliant in saving lives, the cost of war is minimal on our land. Our military casualties are higher than that of the civilians, and it only tells one simple story: we won the war while protecting the civilians.

I know you are eager to send home the civilians in welfare villages. Trust me, the whole nation, including the government, wants them to return home as soon as possible. But, don’t forget that we need to de-mine the entire region – find every piece of improvised explosive device that the tigers buried in everyone’s back yard, before anyone could return home to a safer place. No one can keep a child away from running around, no one can keep them away from danger. Also, someone has to return the roofing sheets from the old tiger-bunkers and repair their shelter too, right? And what about the basic infrastructure? Roads, drinking water, health-care, schools? If you think that we, the Sri Lankans, are keeping a 75 year old man against his wish in an IDP camp, please think again. Remember that these people are returning to a former war-zone, a battle-filed that needs a lot of work before they begin to go back.

While the pro-LTTE Tamil mobs kept attacking Sri Lankan establishments in Canada, UK, Australia, Europe and elsewhere, while they protested, while they supported the LTTE oppressors, it is us who kept feeding your 75 year-old relative in an IDP camp. It wasn’t you! For us, every Sri Lankan is a Sri Lankan – doesn’t matter if you are black or white.

And yes, we suffered, and yes, we are suffering, but I am bloody proud to be Sri Lankan. I am damn proud of my country; and no one can take it away from me.

12 comments:

  1. Bravo Bravo... some fellows still have heads full of shit which were fed to them by the "tigers"... blissful ignorance... nothing more nothing less!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amen to that! great reply!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Nicely put Serendib... although I am against the detention of the IDPs against their will... I understand they cannot return to the war zone, but people who have relatives living in the South are not allowed to leave and be with them. Why we cannot screen them and let them go is beyond me.

    But I applaud you for your through reply. And I think your last line "I am damn proud of my country; and no one can take it away from me." just hits it home! Good one SI! : )

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks guys, just couldn’t resist it.

    Chavie, I do understand your concern. But, in the game of war, everyone is a victim. How could we know who’s innocent and who’s not..? How many years did it take the US to decide ‘process’ Afghan POW’s? Abu Ghraib, Gitmo... closed to everyone, even to the governments, diplomats and human rights groups...

    Going back to Sri Lanka, I was arrested by the Army during JVP times. No mobiles, no contacts with outside, and I would have ended up in a tyre-pyre if not for a chance sighting of a senior officer who recognised me at the temporary camp in Boralesgamuwa. I was just a school kid then. The government this time is extremely cautious, they are not like the Premadasa regime.

    Yes we do understand their plight, but at the same time, there is a lot more about the terrorists that we still don’t know much about. Right? Processing individuals and releasing them is going to take time, it is made even more difficult because there are a thousand watchful eyes (NGO’s, activists, ordinary people like us) criticising every move the government makes...

    It is definitely not a win-win situation. Kinda catch 22, that’s what I think.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Yes, I understand what you mean... And that detention experience of yours is very very scary Wij! For a young kid to be in such a situation would've been unimaginably scary... :S

    ReplyDelete
  6. Well I hope your sentiments will still be the same in a couple of years time, Preme & Co are going to look pretty good compared to the present lot.

    I don't want to say any more and be labeled a traitor and hunted down, like the lawyers listed on teh def min website, so I'll remain anonymous, if you don't mind.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Every civilisation has its times of growth and struggle. And then we die. =/

    ReplyDelete
  8. "And yes, we suffered, and yes, we are suffering, but I am bloody proud to be Sri Lankan. I am damn proud of my country; and no one can take it away from me." - Well said brother! I'm 110% with you too :)
    I never deny the hard time I went living in this country, yet I know for a fact there is no better place for me than this under the Sun!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am not sure about anyone's statistics being better than anyone else's. How can you decide that one person is correct and one person is not? Sometimes if someone seems official and has impressive statistics it is easy to assume that the person is right about something.

    I am not Sri Lankan and have never been to Sri Lanka, so I really know nothing about the statistics, but your tourism video and other online information do make one want to visit such a beautiful country with beautiful people.

    Where have you gone to?

    ReplyDelete
  10. I know this is a late comment, but well said my friend... well said!

    ReplyDelete