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DateLine Tuesday, 11 November 2008

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ANOTHER TIGER TACTIC

The latest LTTE offer for a ceasefire was treated with the disdain it deserved by Minister Maithripala Sirisena who reiterated the Government’s condition of an arms surrender and a repudiation of terrorism by the outfit for such an offer to be considered. The very same sentiments had earlier been expressed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, the Defence Affairs Spokesman.

Pro-LTTE TamilNet has quoted LTTE political head B.Nadesan as saying that the outfit had no hesitation to a ceasefire in response to Tamil Nadu leaders seeking a clarification on the LTTE’s stand.

The long history of deception by the LTTE be it at the negotiating table or ceasefire agreements have only served to question the outfit’s bonafides, making any Government wary of plunging into accepting LTTE offers.

Besides with the Government successfully forging ahead with its humanitarian operations to rid the Tamil people from the grip of the terrorists it is an obvious ploy by the LTTE to earn some breathing space, as past events demonstrate.

The LTTE, which says it is the Government that pulled out of the ceasefire, has conveniently forgotten that it perpetrated thousands of ceasefire violations during the five years it was in force. The ceasefire was confined only to paper due to these actions of the LTTE. It was therefore not surprising that the Government saw no need to continue a farcical ceasefire.

But the Government has not closed the doors to the LTTE if it wants to reform itself, however unlikely that may seem. The LTTE has not been banned, for instance. This time, the Government has firmly announced several conditions such as a laying down of weapons and talks within a set time frame. We recall how the LTTE pulled out of talks earlier on the flimsiest of excuses. It has also never shown a willingness to discuss core issues within a given time frame.

Perhaps its ceasefire offer may have been timed to buttress the campaign of Tamil Nadu film artistes who were staging a hunger strike to force the Indian Government to intervene on behalf of the Tiger which is on its last legs.

A group of Lankan artistes are preparing to send an open letter to their protesting South Indian counterparts explaining the true situation in the North. The letter is to be sent through the Indian High Commission in Colombo.

The Sri Lankan film industry’s links with South India goes back to the inception of the Sinhala cinema. Then, all films were shot in Tamil Nadu Studios. Not only that our stars were even made caricatures of South Indian actors and most of our films were heavily influenced by the South Indian genre.

Today the Sinhala cinema has come a long way since those early days and have even surpassed the South Indian cinema for originality and quality. Still there has always been a residue of the South Indian influence on the Sinhala film industry and even today we see artistes from both sides undertaking visits.

In fact there has been a turnaround in that Tamil films are today shot in Sri Lanka in abundance with industry persons forging a close relationship. That Tamil films are still instant hits in Sri Lanka also cemented these links further bringing the two film industries close to each other.

It is in this context that one should view the present situation where artistes from both sides are poised to cross swords off screen over purely a domestic situation in Sri Lanka. True, artistes in South India may claim a kinship with their brethren across the palk strait and may be genuinely concerned about their welfare. But responding the way they do with hunger strikes and violent demos are clearly uncalled for in the wake of the assurance by the Lankan Government that no harm would visit the Tamil population.

They should be careful not to perform to the script of vested interests who are all out to exploit the prevailing situation for sinister purposes. The Lankan artistes have acted wisely in not resorting to counter demonstrations and settled for merely writing to their counterparts.

Through their conduct our artistes have shown their South Indian counterparts that their deep links with each other going down to the beginning of the Sinhala cinema could be harnessed to bring about a rapproachment that would douse the flames of extremism. Artistes on both sides of the divide should therefore strive to forge a unity that could lead to a better understanding of the situation and act as a catalyst for rapproachment and reconciliation.


 

Polygamy and polyandry in Ceylon

Just as Robert Knox read his Bible unfailingly during the time he was a captive here, I never fail to dip into the book he wrote about Zeilone whenever I have the time. He is, as we know, a cute observer using a cuter language - English, based, according to Robert Boyle (Knox’s Words), on the style of the Bible, the source that taught him, says Boyle, how to write the English language. His cute observations were generally right, but sometimes, of course, he went wrong and this article is about a few such places.

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The U.N. Convention - ‘A Winning Road’

For two reasons 2008 is very significant. (i). It is the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. (ii). May 3, saw the first comprehensive human rights treaty of this 21st century - the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) come into force.

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UN and New Multilateralism under Obama

With the election of Democratic Senator Barack Obama as the next President of the United States, many observers and diplomats believe the United Nations can look forward to stronger cooperation with Washington — after eight years of often contentious relations with the George W. Bush administration.

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