This article was printed initially in the Lanka Monthly Digest, Special Millennium Issue, 27 January 2000.
In sending a letter to John D’Oyly as the British representative on 29 June 1812 on behalf of the King of Trisinhalaya (the Kingdom of Kandy) Pusvälla Rālahāmy began thus: “From the great King Vijaya born of noble exceeding pure race of the sun.” This was a conventional feature in several Kandyan letters of the time. That is several letters began with a reference to Vijaya. Conscious as he was of history, it was Junius Richard Jayewardene’s practice to refer to himself as the umpteenth head of state, the count including Vijaya as Number One in the line and, in effect, founding father. This was part of a manipulation of supposed history towards Jayewardene’s own ends. But such usages also raised the honour of the Sri Lankan state in general and the Sinhala people in particular. It placed a premium on antiquity. When Chandrika Kumaratunga, speaking in South Africa referred to the Sinhala people as “the original inhabitants” of the island she was also placing a value on time and emphasizing the strengths of the Sinhala claims to the island in, say, roughly similar ways to the value that Jews place on Palestine.
CRUDE REASONING, FALSE IMAGES: SRI LANKA’S REFUGEE CAMPS
This article was presented under a shortened title in ABC UNLEASHED on 7 November 2009 and is reproduced here with acknowledgement of this privilege. There were 36 COMMENTS entered in response to this article and I myself responded to four.I append a selection of these comments at theend of the article, dividing them into twosegments, those deemed Dinkum Australians and those deemed Migratnt Australians.
For the original set of comments, see http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2736651
Ever since the war in Sri Lanka moved towards a devastating climax early this year the propaganda war hotted up. With many arms all over the world the pro-Tiger elements have easily bested the government of Sri Lanka in this rhetorical game. If one spins lies, it is wise to take up half-truths, and then embellish and mix them with a couple of enormous fabrications. Then repeat these tales ad nauseam. Reiteration is the modus vivendi of sharp advertisement.
by Michael Roberts
This essay was also presented by the LANKA GUARDIAN web site: see http://www.srilankaguardian.org/ on 19 November 2009. The Editor of that site chose to highlight the following segment within: “Some Tamil people were caught in a pincer between the Sinhala-dominatedgovernment devil on the one hand and the Tiger demon on the other. Significantly, whether fleeing from one or the other, or, more generally,the crucible of war, many chose Tamil-speaking Tamilnadu as their destination. This critical pool of migrants has not been consideredseriously within the present debate in Australia.”
In recent months illegal migrants from Sri Lanka have been at the centre of turbulent debate in Australia. While the main focus has been on Sri Lankan Tamils that of a few Sinhalese boat people has gone under the radar. Among them were 12 Karava Catholic fishermen from the Negombo area who landed on the West Australian coast in November 2008. They expressed fears of bodily harm from both the government and the Tigers, a claim accepted blithely by human rights advocates (Weekend Australian 17-18 Oct. 2009). This tale together with that of little Brindha, the little Tamil girl highlighted on Australian television, informed my conviction that some migrants from all ethnic groups who take the illegal path indulge in “white lies”. But note this verdict did not lead me to the conclusion that they should automatically be rejected by Australia.
Filed under IDP camps, Indian Ocean politics, island economy, life stories, LTTE, Rajapaksa regime, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, Tamil civilians, Tamil migration, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes