Monday, July 31, 2006

where the f**k were ngo peaceniks hiding?

as i wrote earlier, for the last 10 days ltte was holding water hostage. government which cannot and should not give in to ransom demands started air raids last week to give cover to ground troops, which were expected to launch an operation to open the sluice-gates of mawilaru anicut. that ground operation seems to have started yesterday (rather belatedly imo) though it is expected to move slowly given the anticipated booby traps and mines. with ltte promising to retaliate this could very well escalate to full scale war.

during whole of this time peaceniks were conspicuously silent on the issue. these are people who usually start issuing statements to the media at the drop of a hat.

if they really want peace that benefits the ordinary people in north east, and want to been seen as impartial, this was a time when they could have done something tangible. they could have pointed out to ltte that they are committing a war crime and tried to persuade them to release the water thus preventing a potential escalation of violence. failing that, they could have condemned ltte action. instead they chose to stay silent.

they do not stay silent when it comes to anything that can potentially adversely affect ltte, for example with regard to e.u. ban when they embraced the ltte line. they do not stay silent when it comes to any incident that can be blamed on the sri lankan military based on flimsiest (if that) evidence. however they chose to stay silent when thousands of people were deprived of water, leaving the government with no other choice but to use force.

question is, will they start condemning the military once civilians die accidentally as a result of this military operation (almost inevitable given that ltte is reportedly forcing civilians to gather around their positions to act as human shields). if they do, ask where the fuck were they hiding during the last 10 days?

deliberate silence of the peaceniks when it came to condemning this terrorist act, also allowed jhu warmongers to appear as champions of ordinary people in northeast deprived of water with some credibility. as everyone saw jhu organized marches in the area, aimed at getting the government to hurry up with the operation, were attended by thousands of people of all communities (sinhalese, muslims, and tamils) and some of the meetings were held in buildings and grounds belonging to hindu kovils with priests attending.

bbc's dumeetha luthra does it again

biased reporting of bbc reporter dumeetha luthra continues. her latest report on the sri lankan military operation to free the water that is being held hostage by ltte terrorists is entitled "sri lanka advances against tamils". in other words she is equating terrorists with tamils.

she reported extremely exaggerated figures about the number of people displaced, when after months of restraint governments started limited operations against selected ltte positions after the terrorist tried to kill army commander in april. this was noted and widely criticized at the time. almost all her reports contain biased statements as a matter of course. one such was pointed out here.

some bias in reporting by western media is understandable and can be excused as i wrote earlier. however when they deal with sri lanka specifically they should be more careful if they want to retain any credibility.

or are we going to see bbc headlines like 'israel bombs muslims/lebanese/arabs', instead of 'isreal bombs the hezbollah strongholds', or 'tamils blow up bus', instead of 'suspected tiger rebels blow up bus', in the future ?

if you want to let bbc know that this kind of reporting is unacceptable, you can do so using the online form available here. i have.

report's title has been changed to 'sri Lanka ground offensive begins' now . see here for google news search results for old title which links to the same story(url) . i also have screen capture of cache copy of this if anyone needs more proof that the title was changed.

update 2
now the whole story has been changed completely. and title has changed yet again to 'sri lanka offensive intensifies' and dumeetha luthra's name which appeared at the top has disappeared. there is no acknowledgment of any changes.

original story (
that appeared on the same url) :

Sri Lanka advances against Tamils
By Dumeetha Luthra
BBC News, Colombo

Sri Lankan soldiers near Trincomalee.Troops have moved forward to capture the land
Sri Lankan forces have launched a ground offensive against the Tamil Tiger rebels to free a canal.

The advancement follows four days of air strikes, and comes after Finland and Denmark said they would withdraw their ceasefire monitors in the state.

The government said the offensive aims to free the waterway, which they say the rebels have blocked, in the north-eastern district of Trincomalee.

It is the first such advance since a ceasefire was signed in 2002.

The government has called the offensive a humanitarian intervention to open the sluice gates.

Over-stretched mission

Thousands of farmers around the Mavilaru waterway in Trincomalee have been affected by the blockade.

The area stands along the ill-defined border between rebel-held and government-controlled territory.

This latest skirmish comes as the international ceasefire monitoring mission faces severe problems.

Denmark and Finland are pulling out because the Tigers refuse to provide safety guarantees for individual monitors from EU countries.

The rebels say those observers can no longer be neutral because the EU has listed the Tigers as a terrorist organisation.

The withdrawal will reduce an already over-stretched mission by a third.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

holding water hostage

that it seems is the latest pussy trick.

on 20th ltte closed the sluice-gate of the mawilaru anicut that provides water to seruwila, muttur and ichalampattu in the trincomalee district. this was confirmed by sri lanka monitoring mission (slmm). ltte's trinco political head said that 'the people of the area' blocked it 'to spotlight the grave injustice meted out to the tamil people'. ltte also prevented engineers from entering the area to open the sluice-gates. a home guard was killed in the area on sunday.

there were protests (including hunger strikes) by the people deprived of their water, which they used for drinking in addition to irrigation.

ltte in effect holding the water hostage, made several (undisclosed) demands through the slmm. government pointed out that depriving civilians of water is against the ceasefire agreement and geneva conventions (which specifically prohibits this).

on 26th evening government launched limited air strikes against ltte positions in the area to give cover to ground troops conveying the engineers to open the gates.

imo government did the right thing here. ltte should not be allowed to dictate demands through the use of force. let us hope government will continue to hold the same strong defensive stance in the future.

news coverage and statements
asian tribune, bbc, lbo (afp), mod,, scopp, tamilnet.

given the time that elapsed, this would have been a case in which peacenik ngos if they really cared about peace could have done some good and prevented violence by getting ltte to open the sluice-gates. instead there wasn't any sort of sound from them. may be they consider this beneath them?
however, now that the violence has started will they come out of their cocoons to denounce government and excuse terrorists as usual? let us wait and see.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

economic statistics, mahoshada, and spin

recent post in sunday island columnist mahoshada's blog analyzes sri lanka's fiscal situation. i agree with most his conclusions: government is acting irresponsibly and 'obfuscate and spin the economic information'. unfortunately last ailment seems to be catching and mahoshada has fallen victim to it.

i left a comment regarding the errors in his post on sunday night. moderator it seems has not approved it so far. you can see the full comment below this post.

this is the relevant passage from his post ( report referred here is mid year fiscal position report 2006 issued by the government)
The major news from the Report is the sharp, 31 percent, increase in the budget deficit during the first four months of this year, going from Rs 67.9 billion for the corresponding period last year to 88.8 billion. The budget deficit for the entire year last year was 8.7 percent of GDP (according to the Central Bank Annual Report). If the deficit for the rest of the year was to show the same 31 percent increase as it did for the first four months – the total deficit for 2006 would be 11.4 percent. This would be the highest budget deficit for more than a quarter of a century.

intentionally or not, mahoshada makes a stupid mistake about the 'major news'. he compares nominal money value of first four months' budget deficit (rs. 88.8 billion) with last years first four months deficit (rs 67.9 billion) and arrives at a 31% increase. then he increases last years full year budget deficit expressed as a percentage of real gdp - 8.7% (not as the nominal money value) - by 31% and speculate that this years budget deficit will be 11.4%. this is simply the wrong way to go about this, because real gdp for this year is different from last year.

if he wanted to speculate about this year's deficit from first four months data (which itself is not right but maybe allowable) he should have obtained the numbers for this and last year's first four months budget deficit in gdp percentage terms (not nominal money value) and used the increase (or decrease) to calculate this year’s deficit.

as it happens in the report relevant passage reads,
The overall deficit increased to Rs. 88.8 billion compared to Rs. 67.9 billion due to increased public investments. Budget deficit including Post-Tsunami expenditure in relation to GDP during the first four months was 3.2 percent in comparison with 2.9 percent during the corresponding period of last year.

so the numbers (3.2% and 2.9%) were clearly available. doing the calculation we get an increase of 10.34% in budget deficit for the first four months. increasing last year's full year budget deficit ( 8.7 %) by that gives a speculative full year budget deficit for this year of 9.6% of gdp. ( not the 11.4 % 'highest budget deficit for more than a quarter of a century' mahoshada arrived at)

9.6% is still too high and as i said, i agree with mahoshada that government is fiscally irresponsible, but let us use statistics correctly when pointing that out, if we want to remain credible.
i also commented on another minor point in his post.

here is relevant section from mahoshada's post
For 2005, total public debt is estimated to be equal to about 94 percent of GDP – in other words, the government owes to foreign and domestic lenders almost as much as the total income generated by the country during the course of an entire year.

this is correct, however he fails to mention that public debt at the end of 2004 was 106% of gdp according to central bank. in other words it has come down (mainly because of the appreciation of the currency after the tsunami according to central bank)
94% is still too high and unsustainable in the long run, i agree but hiding facts do not help to make a credible case.

let us hope mahoshada will make more honest use of statistics in the future. correct statistics are damning enough.

* this is the comment i left in mahoshada's blog on sunday night (which is still to get moderator approval).
i agree with most of your analysis that government is fiscally irresponsible. i also agree that government 'obfuscate and spin the economic information'.

however when we bring out the statistics to support our arguments we should make sure we do not 'spin' them erroneously ourselves. in your post your compare the nominal value of first four months' budget deficit with last years first four months and gets a 31% increase. then you add 31% to last year's whole year budget deficit expressed in gdp percentage terms (not in nominal money value) and speculate that this year will be 11.4%. this is wrong maths. you ignore the fact that real gdp in last year and this year will be different. what you should do is find the difference between this and last year's first four months budget deficit in gdp percentage terms and then use that (instead of nominal money value ) to speculate about this years full year deficit .

same way you say 2005 public debt is estimated to be equal to about 94 percent of gdp. you do not give the figure for 2004. is it because that percentage has been coming down?

as i said i agree that budget deficit and public debt are irresponsibly high, but let us argue for responsibility with correct statistics. they are damming as they are.

internet censorship - what does that mean?

after the recent indian internet blocking incident (still continuing against specific 17 sites and blogs - here is the list -, though the blanket blocks, which were the result of isps blocking the whole domain of the blocked site or blog- most notably in the case of blogspot blogs - due to implementation problems, have been reportedly lifted), there was a fear that it will spread south of palk strait. while it is prudent to be vigilant, it is also sensible to be clear about what is meant by internet censorship, given the exaggerated claims of censorship that were made after a levy on imported tv content was imposed in sri lanka. (levy was stupid imo but for other reasons.)

for my part i will consider any action that goes against the recommendations for governments and corporations to ensure a free internet compiled by reporters without borders, censorship.

here are the recommendations

  1. any law about the flow of information online must be anchored in the right to freedom of expression as defined in article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights (see below for the article 19).
  2. in a democratic and open society it is up to the citizens to decide what they wish to access and view on the internet. filtering or rating of online content by governments is unacceptable. filters should only be installed by internet users themselves. any policy of filtering, be it at a national or local level, conflicts with the principle of free flow of information.
  3. any requirement to register websites with governmental authorities is not acceptable. unlike licensing scarce resources such as broadcasting frequencies, an abundant infrastructure like the Internet does not justify official assignment of licenses. on the contrary, mandatory registration of online publications might stifle the free exchange of ideas, opinions, and information on the internet.
  4. a technical service provider must not be held responsible for the mere conduit or hosting of content unless the hosting provider refuses to obey a court ruling. a decision on whether a website is legal or illegal can only be taken by a judge, not by a service provider. such proceedings should guarantee transparency, accountability and the right to appeal.
  5. all internet content should be subject to the legislation of the country of its origin (”upload rule”) and not to the legislation of the country where it is downloaded.
  6. the internet combines various types of media, and new publishing tools such as blogging are developing. Internet writers and online journalists should be legally protected under the basic principle of the right to freedom of expression and the complementary rights of privacy and protection of sources.

here is the article 19 of the universal declaration of human rights:
  • everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

foreigners in lebanon and media

i referred to this subject in a post script to an earlier post, but i think it deserves a post of its own. if one gets news about lebanon from main western media outlets ranging from wire services to television, one can be forgiven for thinking that most foreigners in lebanon are westerners. when they are not covering the actual attacks and political developments, they focus on evacuations of foreigners from an exclusively western viewpoint.

what will come as a surprise to dependents of such sources is the fact that there are 93,000 sri lankan nationals stranded there, more than any other foreign nationals in fact. most of them single women working as housemaids. i am yet to see a report on their (and other migrant's, from philippines, bangladesh etc.) plight on any one of the major western media outlets.

in the web at least some coverage of their plight has begun to appear during last two days. reuter's alertnet has a story (significantly not from their own sources but taken whole from irin news- a project of united nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs), while bbc and even time (rather poorly sourced in this case) have recent (rather general) posts on their websites.

even in the internet that's about it however, other than sri lankan sources and some indian newspapers. when it comes to actual wire stories widely syndicated by newspapers, web news sites, etc., there is no mention of such migrants. this afp story is a good example.

this is as it should be
this bias on the part of western media is perfectly understandable and excusable. they cater to a specific market and they should cover the interests of that market. covering the plight of our people is the duty of our media. (most are in fact doing what they can, given the limited resources)

let us remember that always.

bias in media is common to all. it is up to us to seek out the well sourced and the substantiated, in order to obtain correct information. instead of dismissing or accepting any media outlet just because it is sri lankan or foreign, as some people here are all too easily prone to do.

let us remember that too.

government's responsibility to sri lankan migrant workers is of course another post. we will see how the government handles this.

sri lankan embassy in beirut has started a 24 hour hot line service. numbers are
00-961-5468808, 00-961-5920585, 00-961-5924762, 00-961-5453172, 00-961-5920527, 00-961-5920532, 00-961-5451512.

foreign ministry in colombo has also started a hot line service for lebanon inquiries.
2385625, 5362527, 4718972, 4719592, 2437635.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

india blocks blogs

it seems indian government has asked internet service providers (isps) to block certain websites, including blogspot and some other blog providers. the world's largest democracy should hang its head in shame. let’s hope this does not spread south of palk strait

it is possible that this is a temporary operation limited to certain parts of india.

some indian bloggers have organized a bloggers against censorship collective with a google group and a wiki to 'collate information and influence opinion'. wiki has a list of isps that seem to have blocked sites and a short list of methods that can be used to access blocked sites.

we in sri lanka may learn a thing or two from their experience if same thing happens here in the future

wiki moved so changed the links.
see here for an actively updated sequence of events relating to the blocking.

Monday, July 17, 2006

perils of tolerating terrorists

lebanon is learning at a huge cost the consequences of tolerating a terrorist group. after hezbollah kidnapped two israeli solders (after killing three) in a cross border raid on 12th (last wednesday), israel started attacking lebanese infrastructure (including power stations, fuel storage, bridges, and air port). about 100 people (almost all civilians) have died in lebanon so far. continuing hezbollah rocket attacks have killed about 12 civilians in israel.

while israel's actions may be disproportionate (peaceniks in sri lanka should do well to compare that with sri lankan government's restraint in the face of far greater provocations), they are also understandable. even if this crisis is resolved, as long as an armed terrorist group like hezbollah controls southern lebanon future flare ups are inevitable. terrorists who refuse to give up violence will always prefer violence to get what they want. their lip service to democracy, freedom, human rights, and justice, will always remain suspect as long as they do not explicitly give up armed struggle. all those who believe that they can buy peace by appeasement should be ready to suffer the same fate as the lebanese.

if this is true about hezbollah- a group that engaged in normal politics, contested elections, tolerated opposition to an extent, and maintained an extensive social service infrastructure for the benefit of population under its control - how much more will it be true about liberation tigers of tamil ealam? ltte does not tolerate any opposition, it annihilates them and it insists on being the sole representative. its idea of politics is preventing people voting by force. and whatever welfare services people under its control have access to ( from education to heath ) are in fact maintained and paid for by the government, with ngos (mostly ingos like unhcr, not the peacenik ones) pitching in a little bit.

terrorists and peace
appeasing terrorists will not result in peace here anymore than in lebanon. as long as ltte remains what it is, peace wont dawn here. no peace agreement will work if there isn't any effective way to control breaches by ltte. make no mistake, like hezbollah it will choose violence to get what it wants, when it wants, agreement or no agreement. after all, for an organization that routinely kills innocents as a policy, breaking a clause or two in an agreement is nothing.

it is only by facing down the terrorists and not giving in to their violence that we can effectively defeat or contain them. that does not mean we should try to defeat them militarily in an all out war. given the limited resources of the country (sri lanka is not israel) that would not work. rather it means refusing to bow down to ltte demands as long as it engages in violence, and deny people freedom, democracy, human rights, and justice. we should make that clear to them at all times, whether they are actively engaged in violence as they are now, or they are engaged in negotiations. while we should try to keep ltte at the table as long as possible if they come, we should also refuse to appease them.

it is up to them to decide, whether to continue with violence that will not bring any results (since we will face them down if they go down that path), to stagnate in a truce (that will progressively weaken them) while refusing to change, or to change fundamentally giving up terrorism permanently.

it is only when there are legitimate democratically elected representatives who are willing to work peacefully that sri lanka can satisfactorily address the very real and legitimate tamil grievances. trying to address them trough the self styled sole representative who believes in terrorism will only postpone (if that) violence, as in lebanon.

. its interesting to observe the bias in western media at times like these. i am not referring to the normal and understandable pro israeli bias, which they sometimes consciously try to avoid. rather i am referring to west centric world view. for instance, when reporting on evacuations of foreigners from lebanon all reports concentrate exclusively on western tourists and expatriates. even though statistics indicate that sri lankans alone (about 80,000) outnumber the reported number of western foreigners in lebanon. i am sure there are larger numbers from other third world countries. of course this is as it should be, main consumers of western media are western public and when it come to cnn international and bbc world the same sort of people as those being evacuated. it is our fault to believe that they cater to a wider audience.

Friday, July 14, 2006

terrorists say thank you

as other bloggers have noted, on 12th government allowed ltte spokesman daya master to travel to and receive medical treatment in colombo with state security.
on 13th night (this night) claymore mines were discovered near defense spokesman minister keheliya rambukwella's kandy home. (not yet in any web news source)

some thank you, huh?

this was of course true to form.
after all, pussies continued with their daily attacks on military and others (killing at least 2 soldiers and plote's vauniya leader yesterday). and let us not forget that ltte has been holding hostage a police officer who went to arrest a convicted british pedophile for months.

i am curious as to how peacenik appeasers will spin this. will they follow the example of ltte propagandists like tamilnet and keep their mouths shut and not speak of this at all? or will they construct a conspiracy theory? after all their beloved justice seeking peace loving freedom fighters cannot be doing this. this must be a government conspiracy. i am all ears.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

terror in mumbai

seven bombs (another was defused) exploded in trains in mumbai during yesterday's rush hour killing hundreds. it was a shameful act of terrorism that should be universally condemned.

in addition to similar london and madrid bombings, this reminded me of dehiwela train bomb blast on july 24, 1996, just under 10 years ago. i was in close proximity when that happened. several colleagues and friends of mine were killed on that day.

it is time people(especially in sri lankan blogs) come down to earth and face the facts, and realize that terrorism is not a subjective term, that nothing justify deliberate killing of civilians as a policy, and that appeasement never works. if we talk with them it should only be because we are better able to defeat or contain them effectively that way, given the limited resources of the country (we are after all not india). we should not talk in order to buy peace at any price.

the legitimate grievances of tamils can satisfactorily be addressed only through democratically elected representatives of tamils not through the self styled 'sole representative'. such representatives can emerge only if ltte terrorists are effectively marginalized.

anyway i am sure that the great dynamic city of mumbai is getting back to work as i write this, with a calm resilience that will dash the hopes of those cowards who thought they can break the human spirit by terror.

see mumbai help blog if you are seeking information.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

got what he deserved

shamil salmanovich basayev (the beast) was killed (decapitated according to news) yesterday in ingushetia. he was the chechen terrorist responsible for beslan school massacre among other atrocities. he like the big pussy believed that civilians were legitimate targets. he too eliminated alternative moderate chechen leaders.

like in sri lanka there were people, so out of touch with reality, who were only too happy to justify all that and claim that there are no 'terrorists' or even 'civilians' and to equate him with all chechens.

president putin rightly said he got what he deserved. let's hope more and more terrorists get what they deserve.

what was fifa thinking?

head butting zinedine zidane was given the fifa golden ball (in effect the most outstanding player award in the world cup). a person who cannot control his head is not worthy of such honor imo, whatever the provocation, and whatever his past achievements. this award is for this tournament only, not past ones. that most votes were cast before half time does not excuse such lack of judgment on fifa's part.

great defender fabio cannavaro who certainly knows how to use his head deserved the golden ball not the silver one he received.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

black pussy day orgies

yearly black pussy day was held yesterday and big pussy himself looking fat (from the usual pussy feed washed down with the free flowing red drink no doubt) was seen lighting yet another cooking pot. see the tamilnet itself for the pic.

big pussy limited himself to the lighting and reportedly hurriedly withdrew to his hole in the ground dragging what looked like a body of a 12 year old with him. meanwhile other pussies praised black pussies (all 273 of them) in several cooking ceremonies and other related orgies. more from reuters and ap (from cnn site). sorry, no bbc. it is allergic to black pussy stories.

no pussy could confirm the rumor that big pussy let the black pussies smell his backside night before they set out to gorge themselves to death, and that it is this act that make them eat till they die. no doubt that is false anti pussy propaganda spread by extremists.

meanwhile a highly researched, fully sourced, several times fact checked (by several 'fact finding' missions, no less), blog post is about to appear which claims that black pussies behave that way because they were abused as kittens and are merely seeking justice. as everyone knows pussies abused as kittens should be allowed to do anything they wish with impunity. this is but rational fair minded justice.

according to some...

Saturday, July 01, 2006


sri lankan cricket team with sanath jayasuriya and upul tharanga leading the charge, chase down england, by scoring 324 for 2 in 37.3 overs at a rate of 8.64 per over. breaking records. winning odi series 5-0. (after leveling test series 1-1 and winning the only twenty20)

england get booted out of football world up by portugal

now what else can make this saturday night even better? :-)