By Dushy Ranetunge in London
The Sinhalese and Tamil Diaspora periodically launch protests in their host countries galvanised by events that affect their particular tribe. Often they are financed, organised or encouraged by their political formations. The ones perceived as “Tamil” protests are often organised/encouraged by the LTTE or organisations which are affiliated/sympathetic to the Tamil cause.
The ones perceived as “Sri Lankan” protests are organised/encouraged by the Sri Lankan government and they represent interests that are perceived by them of representing “Sinhalese” ethnic interests.
It is often comical to observe the two sides, the tribes of Lanka, protesting for their narrow sectarian interests and against perceived and real injustices.
During the final stages of the war in May 2009, it was the “Tamils” who were protesting in force outside Westminster, some launching death fasts. They were aggrieved that their perceived interests were being compromised by the silence of Westminster in support of the Sri Lankan state, hence their protest outside. As the Tamils agitated outside Westminster, the Sinhalese grinned with satisfaction as their tribe was on the ascendant.
Now the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction.
The Sinhalese are aggrieved that their perceived interests are bring compromised by the Channel 4 TV station exposing alleged war crimes by the Sri Lankan state.
So, on Sunday, the “Sinhalese”, most probably encouraged by the High Commission in London, protested outside Channel 4, braving abusive weather conditions. As the Sinhalese protested outside the Channel 4 TV station, the Tamils would have grinned with satisfaction, as it was now their side, which was on the ascendant.
British law enforcement authorities are aware of all these Sinhalese/Tamil tribal games and who are behind them. They view it as an inconvenience, resulting in having to make allocations from their law enforcement budget for policing the circus.
Both sides generally exaggerate figures, to impress upon their tribe that they had a large protest. In this instance the numbers were said to be 3000.
If a standing human being occupied a space of 3 feet by 2 feet, then 3000 standing humans would be expected to occupy an area of 18,000 square feet. Given that they were packed onto a 10 feet wide space on the pavement, then you would expect 3000 humans to occupy more than half a kilometer of pavement. The readers can look at the photographs and decide if the protest was more than half a km long.
Many of the photographs of the Sinhalese protest circulating are attributed to Sudath Silva. He is the Sri Lankan President’s official photographer. The LTTE also used their photographers to cover their events.
It is also normal practice for law enforcement authorities to discretely obtain film and photographs of protestors in order to identify them.
I was informed that food had been organised for the protestors. The British law enforcement authorities also usually know who paid for the food as it indicates who was funding the event.
Attempts will be made to screen TV footage of the protest in Sri Lanka and for articles to be placed in the Sri Lankan press.
It will not say that the Sri Lankan government organised and paid for the protest which was 99% Sinhalese. It will inform Sri Lankans in Sri Lanka that the “Sri Lankan community” protested.
But the British law enforcement and the Tamils know the identity of those who encouraged from the sidelines.
It was the same in May 2009 outside Westminster. The protesters and the death fast were, we were told, “Tamils” protesting. But the Sinhalese/Sri Lankan government and the British authorities knew the identity of those encouraging from the sidelines.
The “officials” of the LTTE encouraging the May 2009 protest outside Westminster and the Sri Lankan government “officials” encouraging the protest outside Channel 4 on Sunday will have patted themselves on the back and sent a report to Sri Lanka about their handy work. They would have gone to sleep all excited and happy at the success of their protest. There might even be some friction as to who should get the credit. The authorities in Colombo will be happy. A job well done.
Some protestors would have listened to “pirith” as well, since a part of the mobilisation came from Buddhist temples in London. One wonders what Lord Buddha will have to say about all this protesting????
Observing all the excitement from North London, it seems to me, that the LTTE “officials” were in effect misleading their supporters back home. As the May 2009 protest gathered momentum around the world, Prabakaran waited to be “rescued” by the “world”.
The Sri Lankan “officials” in London are also misleading their supporters back home, the ordinary Sri Lankan, in not disclosing to the Sri Lankan public the truth behind all this protesting. They too are waiting to be rescued by China and Russia. They are at present, uncertain of being rescued by India, as Delhi seems to be vacillating.
I was annoyed that my good tax money was being spent to police this tribal circus. But, then I am thankful for small mercies. We didn’t have a “death fast” this time. Consider the policing cost of that.
Our government pays off web sites and community newspapers and places various articles in them and then pretends that these articles are independent. Sinhalese read them and quote from them to defend their cause, without realising that they are planted. The LTTE does the same thing.
Our government pays and organises protests in London, New York, etc., and pretends that “British”, ”American” or “Sri Lankans” are protesting. The LTTE does the same thing.
Millions of dollars and Sterling Pounds are paid to various dubious public relations firms in New York and London, to white wash the dirty linen of the Sri Lankan state, so that they will be whiter than the spotless white “dress” that they like to adorn themselves in, to fool the peasants.
But what does all this achieve?
The International community, and the British law enforcement authorities who advise the British government in this instance, are aware of all these games, so they are not fooled. They are also not fooling Channel 4 or the United Nations.
The “experts” the Sri Lankan state are parading to discredit the Channel 4 video are all “Sinhalese”. The arguments the Sri Lankan state is forwarding to discredit the Channel 4 video is only convincing the converted, the Sinhalese.
The world is appalled and remains unconvinced by the arguments emanating from Colombo.
The shame it all brings to the republic is worse than the events of 1983 as state connivance and cover up seem colossal.
Perhaps the protest outside Channel 4 last Sunday was some kind of psychological therapy for the participants, to cope with the guilt and to support their team. It was the same for those outside Westminster in May 2009.
There are rumours that some of the soldiers shown on the Channel 4 video have been identified by the Sri Lankan defense establishment. There are indications that the Sri Lankan state will give assurances of prosecutions before the next full session of the UN in Geneva in February 2012. Our Diplomats around the world are privately hoping that these will materialise sooner, rather than later.
Until then, the circus continues.