Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

When I read this article I took it as an impartial reporter's piece. Now when I read the following items in pro-Sinhala sites, I do not have the trust and the interest to read Ms. Crossette's reporting anymore.

1. Lankaweb: "Urgent - Task force needed to counter LTTE disinformation and propaganda warfare," by Ben Silva.

2. Asian Tribune: "West unaware Sri Lanka’s true story - Barbara Crossette Faults overseas diplomats & Colombo’s 'short-sightedness' ," by Dama Gamage.

For a reporter as an individual to have her own views is understandable. However, when one party related to the subject matter that she reports holds her as a friendly source with personal and passionate interest in the issue, a reader is taken back.

It is sad for the jounalistic integrity of The Nation.

Manohar Shanmugam

Augusta, GA

Feb 1 2009 - 8:27pm

Web Letter

It has become routine for the Western media to describe LTTE with boilerplate descriptions of "most ruthless," inventors of suicide bombing" etc. I am afraid there is nothing new in Ms. Crossette's description. To quote Mr. Ram of Hindu caps all of the standard lines. It is a well-known fact among the Tamils of Sri Lanka that Mr. Ram is in the pay of the Sri Lankan government and the Indian spy agency RAW.

It is sad that Ms. Crossette completely ignores the terrorizing acts of the Sri Lankan government, which is hell-bent on Tamil genocide. The most important indicator that Ms. Crossette has not done her research fully is the fact that she ignored the Nazi-style pogrom of Tamils in Colombo in July 1983. Are these the journalists who should have a say? Those who garb as news reports their partially informed opinions, formed with a hidden agenda, should be brought to justice for aiding and abetting mass killings by the Sri Lankan government.

Sri Sridharan

Dayton, OH

Jan 17 2009 - 9:26pm

Web Letter

Dear Ms. Crossette, Thank you for the article on Sri Lanka-Eelam issue. It is very rare to see articles on this in the West, especially in the United States. I thank you and The Nation for bringing it up.

I have one comment. It is unfortunate that an article that is for the most part neutral has quotations from an editor whose partiality when it comes to Sri Lankan ethnic issue is well known in Sri Lanka and India .

I am talking about Mr. N. Ram. His notorious coziness with consecutive Sri Lankan regimes has consistently earned him official recognition and government prizes. Previous president Chandrika Kumaranatunge bestowed upon him the Lanka Ratna, one of the highest state awards. Even last year, when Sri Lanka was listed near the bottom in journalistic freedom by Reporters Without Borders, a state-related organization honored Ram as "Best Journalist in Asia." He is given the first interviews by Sri Lankan presidents and government, political and military figures whenever a political change occurs in the country. For instance, recently when the LTTE's de facto capital Kilinochi was captured, he was the first granted an interview by the Sri Lankan president, over the phone across the Palk Straits. His reporter in Colombo, Mr. Muralidhar B. Reddy, was embedded with the Sri Lankan military when the army captured Kilinochi. His report was supposedly the first to give "the reality." After the Iraqi embeddedness fiasco, we all in the US know what "embedded journalism" really means.

A little search on the web can give you an idea of how the Sri Lankan ethnic issue looks to the people of Sri Lanka and in Ram's own state of Tamilnadu, India. Any researcher going through the news (read "views") presentations, opinions and even the letters to editors on Ram's Front Line and in the Hindu, run by his cousin Malini Parthasarathy will discover a striking truth about the "impartial journalism" of Mr. Ram and Ms. Parthasarathy. After all, Ram's publishing house was once mocked as "The Second Indian Embassy in Chennai" by a local Tamil magazine.

Without understanding a person's background and affliation, how can a respected journalist like you quote him as giving a balanced point of view in this issue? Of course, he may be considered an expert, but the source of his reputation for expertise should be carefully looked into before you call him impartial. As a Tamil who experienced the 1977 and '83 riots and lived for another ten years after 1983 in that island, I am not a fan of the Sri Lankan government when its military chief and president take every oportunity to state that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country. Of course, accepting the facts and the reality, I want to think rationally and act practically. But when I see 4-month-old babies die in cluster bombs, while you quote Mr. Ram as a balanced expert on Sri Lankan ethnic issues--that is, even in a trusted magazine like The Nation--it shocks me, and saddens me.

Hope I conveyed my point in the right note. Except for this reference, I'm happy to see an article that would speak about the sufferings of the people in the island irrespective of their ethnicity, language and religion.

Once again, thank you, to you and The Nation.

Kanaga Sivakumar

Cincinnati, OH

Jan 17 2009 - 2:46pm

Web Letter

I thank you for your attention towards the civil war in Sri Lanka.

As I am an Indian Tamil, I'd like to comment on a couple of things mentioned in this article about the Indian Tamils' clamor towards fellow Tamils in Sri Lanka and Tamil chauvinism.

I agree that Tamils in Tamil Nadu, India, are largely supportive of a separate state for Tamils in Sri Lanka and their rights to self-determination. But there is no support or mass for Tamil chauvinism. Even if there, that would be a negligible amount. But support for Tamil self-determination in Sri Lanka is more than 80 percent, which is based on a survey done by the Tamil Nadu's leading weekly magazine, Vikatan.

I welcome more articles about Tamils' struggle in Sri Lanka. As Sam George said in his web letter, the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict is more than 2,000 years old. I request you to bring international attention to Sri Lanka's civil war via your unbiased analysis and report.

Prabhu Ram

Namakkal, Tamil Nadu, India

Jan 11 2009 - 1:30am

Web Letter

Ms. Crosette's article is timely, but more must be done to stop this conflict that has rendered the Tamils refugees in their homelands. The New York-based Genocide Prevention Project listed Sri Lanka in the top eight "red alert" countries currently experiencing genocidal conflicts. Even worse, the Sinhala-dominated Sri Lankan government refuses to allow international relief agencies and reporters to visit Tamil areas to independently assess and report on the condition of the Tamils.

This thirty-plus-year "ignored war" has distressed the Tamils; a million have sought refuge in other countries, many are internally displaced and the remaining live in conditions akin to Nazi-era concentration camps. We must urge President-elect Obama to reach out to allies to promote UN intervention in Sri Lanka to implement a cease-fire and appoint a special envoy.

Similar to the resolution of past ethnic conflicts in Bosnia, East Timor and Kosovo, UN-sponsored mediation and a referendum for the Tamils to decide their future are essential to stop this conflict. A solution that is acceptable to the majority of Tamils will bring closure to Asia's longest civil war, normalcy to the Tamils and restore peace in the island.

Siva Sivalogan

Dedham, MA

Jan 10 2009 - 11:20pm

Web Letter

Your article from a neutral perspective and with the knowledge of the past, written eloquently, is refreshing. The editor of the Sunday Leader (Sri Lanka) in his last editorial before he was murdered has summarized the current status of the ethnic war.

Though I live abroad, I have been visiting the island every year for six or more months for humanitarian work since 1994. The war for liberation is not going to end soon, if ever, until a just solution is arrived at by the two parties and implemented by the international community.

It is important for both linguistic communities to virtually accept that they are sovereign and both have the right to self-determination. With that unwritten but committed understanding, both communities could negotiate to pool their sovereignties and form a new political relationship, like individuals do to form a state, in areas that would lead to mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence.

Nagalingam Ethirveerasingam

Los Angeles, CA

Jan 9 2009 - 5:19pm

Web Letter

Dear Barbara Crossette, please accept my sincere gratitude for your impartial and accurate analysis of Sri Lanka and its terrorist war. Sometimes it is painful to read biased and partial analyses that conclude that the terrorists deserve the best deal. Recently, few events have favored the Sri Lanka government and its war against the terrorists. Just as you do, I hope and pray that peace may dawn on Sri Lanka and its people of many ethnic groups and faiths!

Lalith Weerasekera

Washington, DC

Jan 7 2009 - 3:04pm

Web Letter

The conflict between the Tamils and Sinhalese is perhaps 2,000 years old, and some reasons are described well in your article. As in many enlightened approaches in countries like Spain (Catalunya), Canada (Quebec), India (many states based on language and cultural differences), South Africa (Tribal Homelands), Russian Federation, why don't the European powerbrokers (peace facilitators like Norway) work with the Sri Lanka government to create a federation with a separate, autonomous homeland for the Tamils? A military conquest of the Tamils will only prolong this centuries-old conflict and will not address the deep issues of discrimination and marginalization that the Tamils have endured. Peaceful coexistence is perhaps a dream that could be realized.

Sam George

Vancouver, Canada

Jan 7 2009 - 1:06pm