Siva is no more_ - Tamil Guardian

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					Tamil Guardian Wednesday May 04, 2005                                                                                                                                  EDITORIAL AND COMMENT                                                             5

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      W E D N E S DAY M AY 0 4 , 2 0 0 5 E D I T I O N 2 9 8

                          Game of Bluff
     Donors must forcibly alter Sri Lanka's priorities
    In ten days time, many of Sri La-    were during the LTTE's abortive
nka's key aid donors will be meet-       talks with Kumaratunga's 1995 gov-
ing to discuss assistance for the        ernment. The massive expansion
war-torn, tsunami-devastated isl-        undertaken thus far is, going by cre-
and. Yet, even now, there is no sign     dible press reports, to be matched by
of the joint mechanism for aid dis-      other imminent military procure-
tribution between the Sri Lankan         ments. The shadow war smoulderi-
government and the Liberation            ng in the island's restive east - which
Tigers which major donors, includ-       has now come to Colombo also - is
ing the European Union and the           fraying the ceasefire and the stalled
United States, have - quite rightly -    Norwegian peace process. But,
made a condition of their assis-         more importantly, the big picture
tance. We have heard the arguments       reveals Colombo's strategy: for
repeatedly: the ultra-nationalist-       three years, large rehabilitation and
                                                                                                                                                                                         The best interpreter
cum-Marxist Janatha Vimukthi
Perumana will exit President
Chandrika Kumaratunga's ruling
coalition if the joint mechanism is
signed. The Tamil community has
                                         reconstruction work in Tamil areas
                                         has been thwarted by Sri Lanka's
                                         obstructions, even as a major new
                                         war machine was being assembled.
                                         The game continues to date. This
                                                                                   Siva is no more!
                                                                                   Chandana Keerthi Bandara, Senior producer                          touch with the ground situa-
                                                                                                                                                                                        of the ground realities
had to put up with this threat for       week President Kumaratunga has                                                                                                                 Marwaan Macan-Markar of IPS hails Sivaram
                                                                                   with the BBC Sinhala, recalls his despair dur-                     tion?"
several years now. Earlier, in 2003,     been defiantly saying she will sign                                                                              That is what made him a       as a symbol of courage in the face of the
                                                                                   ing the final hours of Sivaram, a close friend.                    glowing beacon among mili-        threats facing Sri Lanka's media.
the then ruling United National          the joint mechanism, irrespective of
Front prevaricated on entering into      the JVP's threat. We shall see. She       I WAS visiting friends with       Tamil Homeland. He was           tary analysts. He knew the        FOR Sri Lanka's reporters,        Tamil politics in the island
                                                                                   my family when the call           going ahead for a separate       land; He knew the terrain;        World Press Freedom Day           also flowed in the website he
shared development structure with        has demonstrated her duplicity            came through. It was around       Tamil identity in a united       He knew why battles are                                             helped set up in the mid-
                                                                                                                                                                                        on Tuesday took on added
the LTTE for fear President              many times in the past eight years.       10pm in London. We had to         North and East.                  won or lost.                      poignancy this year due to        1990s, 'TamilNet.'
Kumaratunga would dismiss its            And with the LTTE agreeing to the         cut short the visit and rush           The man who braved ba-          Therefore, when Siva          one name, Dharmeratnam                 Such achievements will,
government. That happened any-           latest Norwegian proposals, the ball      home.                             ttle fields, the man who wro-    said that he was threatened,      Sivaram - the South Asian         undoubtedly, make his abse-
way. Now, the stability of her           is in her court.                              My 11 year old son was        te from government held ter-     it was serious.                   island nation's best journalist   nce excessively painful for
United People's Freedom Alli-ance            In short, President Kumaratunga,      not happy to go home as he        ritory highlighting the Tamil        But, he was never con-        on Tamil affairs.                 his following among Sri
                                                                                   had to leave his playmates.       Liberation Struggle in inim-     cerned about his safety even          The implications of his       Lankan Tamils living over-
is apparently a greater considera-       whose 'good governance' credentia-            "What is going on?"           itable English and Tamil wi-     while in hostile territory. It    murder cut across the broad       seas and those who have fol-
tion than the misery of hundreds of      ls were - belatedly - called into que-        I gave him the unpalat-       thout losing life or limb at     could well be a reason how        spectrum of that island's tro-    lowed his views on the con-
thousands of Tamils, Muslims and,        stion in 2000, must be obligated to       able information. He was          the height of the civil war,     he managed to command             ubled political landscape.        flict or the current peace
now, Sinhalese displaced.                prioritise the island's people above      thoughtful on the way home.       felt that his life was now in    such a presence in a relative-    For one, it places the Sri La-    process, at home.
    We, like the rest of the Tamil co-   her political ambitions. To begin wi-         Before getting into bed       danger.                          ly short life span of 46 years.   nkan government of Pre-                His murder brought to an
                                                                                   he looked at the small pile of         Earlier, in 2000 a clan-        "They found the body!"        sident Chandrika Kumara-          end the best interpreter of
mmunity and, no doubt, the LTTE,         th, she must be compelled to call the     clothes kept in a side of the     destine organisation issued a        My restless sleep was         tunga under pressure to find      the ground realities in the
see a different dynamic at play. In      Marxists' bluff. The international        room.                             threatning statement calling     broken early in the morning.      Sivaram's killers as a mark       war-torn northern and east-
three years after the ceasefire agree-   donor community has been involved             "I hope Siva Mama will        four journalists including           I called Siva's home. His     of its commitment to upho-        ern Sri Lanka. What helped
ment, the Sinhala military has been      in Sri Lanka since the late 70's. Yet,    come back soon."                  Sivaram "traitors" and "spi-     daughter Vaishnavy answer-        lding press freedom.              him become one was the fact
substantially strengthened while         it has been unable to coax succes-            The clothes were of Si-       es". Three of them fled the      ed the phone. She knew alre-          But there is little reason    that Sivaram was, literally, a
arguments varying from precau-           sive Sinhala leaderships to adopt an      va's. Before leaving London       country and found refuge in      ady and was taking it all wi-     for the island's media to feel    rebel with a cause before he
                                                                                   a couple of months ago Siva       developed countries. Siv-        th great courage that I have      sanguine, since the Kumara-       took up the pen. In the
tionary preparation to post-conflict     enlightened approach to ethnic poli-      left these at our place: "It is   aram opted to stay back.         only seen in the likes of         tunga administration has fai-     1980s, as a young man in his
military requirements, have been         tics. Donors must remain resolute         easy than carrying it around.          When the journalist A       Dharmeratnam Sivaram.             led to arrest and put on trial    twenties, he trained as a mil-
put forward as rationale. The plain      on the principle that aid given to Sri    I can wear them if I return to    Nadesan was killed in Batt-          Justifying the slaying of     suspects linked to the mur-       itant for the People's Libera-
truth is, major preparations for war     Lanka must be shared equitably            London in future."                icaloa last May, two other       Vijaya Kumaratunge, father        ders of journalists before        tion Organisation of Tamil
are well under way - just as they        with the people of the Northeast.             He talked about increas-      journalists from the East fled   of Vimukthi and Yasodara in       Sivaram's.                        Eelam (PLOTE), one of the
                                                                                   ing death threats since the       the country after receiving      Colombo, the Deshapremi               That comes on top of          many rebel groups that spr-
                                                                                   LTTE Eastern commander            death threats. Sivaram hel-      Janatha Viyaparaya (Patri-        Colombo's record of harass-       ang up to advance the Tamil
                          Fallen Fighter                                           Karuna broke away from the
                                                                                   Tamil Tigers in March last
                                                                                                                     ped them reach Europe and
                                                                                                                     chose to stay back.
                                                                                                                                                      otic Peoples Movement)
                                                                                                                                                      called him a traitor.
                                                                                                                                                                                        ing sections of the media,
                                                                                                                                                                                        the worst year of which was
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          nationalist cause.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               And when he drifted out
                                                                                   year.                                  Under the present regime        After gunning down Siv-       2000, when there 29 assaults      of that movement, having
             Taraki died defending the Tamil cause                                     Sivaram or Taraki as he       his house was raided twice       aram, father of Vaishnavy,        on journalists, states the        served as head of PLOTE's
                                                                                   was known to some readers         by government security for-      Vaitheky and Seralathan in        Paris-based media freedom         political wing, Sivaram tur-
    Even those inured to Sri Lanka's     columnists. In a field laden with         did not support the Karuna        ces in search of "weapons".      Colombo, the same evil for-       watchdog Reporters sans           ned his attention to writing,
brutal political violence and vicious    hyperbole and zeal, Taraki's writing      faction espousing an "Easte-           Yet, Sivaram preferred      ces denounce him as a 'ter-       Frontiers (RSF).                  including filing dispatches
ethnic conflict would have been          compelled prevailing understand-          rn Eelam" although Siva was       staying back.                    rorist'.                              Sivaram, in fact, was a       for IPS in the late 1980s
                                                                                   a man from Batticaloa.                 But, the man who could          The Sinhala Vijaya and        victim of such heavy-hand-        from Sri Lanka.
shocked by the murder last week of       ings to be questioned rather than             He saw the separation of      quote from the Tamil epic        the Tamil Siva were both          edness on, of all days, Press          But as a friend and col-
Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki).           simply foist his own views on read-       the North and the East as the     Manimehalai as well as Art       good friends who laid down        Freedom Day last year. Poli-      league Rajpal Abeynayake
The political columnist and military     ers. That is why his column was           downfall of the whole Tamil       of War by Sun Tzu with equ-      their lives as unrelenting        ce visited his house in a sub-    recalled, it was the weekly
analyst was arguably one of Sri          eagerly awaited by all sides of Sri       Liberation struggle.              al ease and who was counted      campaigners on the path to a      urb south of the Sri Lankan       columns Sivaram began wri-
Lanka's best known media figures.        Lanka's political divides. Caught up          The concept of a Tamil        as an authority on military      harmonious land that digni-       capital to conduct a search       ting on the Tamil militancy
                                                                                   Homeland, the rallying call       analysis felt threatened a       fies the right of Tamils.         based on questionable rea-        in a Sunday English langua-
His brazen abduction and execu-          in an activist mentality, the plethora    of Tamil militancy is based       couple of months ago. But,           My son was walking            sons. A similar act of police     ge newspaper that annou-
tion, as CPJ quite rightly put it,       of writing on Sri Lanka's conflict        on a united North and East.       he wanted to carry on with       with me to school.                intrusion, without a search       nced his arrival as a unique
must surely challenge the self-delu-     has, over the years, consistently fail-   Sinhala Nationalists have         the work at home.                    "They won't kill Siva         warrant, happened again to        journalist among the local
sive optimism of those who believe       ed to explain the escalation of vio-      called for the de-merger of            We urged him to stay in     Mama, will they?"                 Sivaram in late July.             crowd.
that Sri Lanka can be reformed into      lence or growth of the Tamil indepe-      the North and East that was       London and carry on with             I had no courage to               Yet such intimidation fr-          It was a writing that also
                                                                                   temporarily merged in 1987.       publishing his website.          divulge the truth. But, I have    om the state failed to deter      catered to those with a keen
a pluralist democracy. There can be      ndence struggle. In particular, amid          Taraki was not prepared            "How can I write the        to tell him. He should know       him from his trenchant ana-       eye for military strategy, ph-
no doubt Sri Lankan military intel-      the nationalist fervour with which        to go for the separation of       story properly if I am not in    what Vaishnavy knows.             lysis of Sri Lanka's political    ilosophy, Tamil culture and
ligence is responsible for the mur-      much of Sri Lanka's Sinhala-domi-                                                                                                              developments. Nor did he          the history of Batticaloa, the
der, even if hairs are split as to       nated media hailed the military ons-                                                                                                           waver in his writings follow-     town in eastern Sri Lankan
whether the trigger was pulled by a
Sinhala trooper or a Tamil paramil-
itary. The question is not simply
                                         laughts of the 90's against the Tig-
                                         ers, Taraki mockingly questioned
                                         the reality they presented with coun-
                                                                                    Resolve, conviction                                                                                 ing threats levelled by a
                                                                                                                                                                                        break-away faction of the
                                                                                                                                                                                        Tamil Tigers against the li-
                                                                                                                                                                                        ves of Tamil journalists from
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          where Sivaram was born.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Yet that paper trail creat-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ed a list of enemies among
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          sections of Sri Lanka's Sinh-
whether anyone at the top of the
state authorised the killing, but
where in the machinery is the logic
                                         terarguments that came, no doubt
                                         without design, given who his pub-
                                         lishers were, to boost Tamil morale
                                                                                   and brilliance silenced                                                                              the country's eastern prov-
                                                                                                                                                                                        ince, where Sivaram hails
                                                                                                                                                                                            His courage to stand for
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          alese majority in the coun-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          try's south. To them he was a
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ''terrorist,'' as articulated rec-
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ently by Omalpe Sobitha Th-
that will ensure Taraki's extra-judi-    at critical lows. He earned the wide-     The Liberation Tigers' Political Wing hails                        Sivaram's pursuit of excel-
                                                                                                                                                                                        what he believed in was best      era, general secretary of a
cial killing will not be the last and,   spread respect he came to receive.        courageous and articulate defender of                              lence in his journalistic work.
                                                                                                                                                          Sivaram has threats from      demonstrated in the line he       political party of Buddhist
like that of every single murdered       Through his columns and, perhaps          Tamil nationalism.                                                 Sri Lanka military intelli-       took on Sri Lanka's ethnic        monks. That spark of enligh-
journalist - not to mention tens of      most tellingly, through the TamilNet      THE brilliant Tamil journal-      strengthening, Tamil Natio-      gence several times in the        conflict that has pit govern-     tenment has also been evide-
thousands of other unknown indi-         website, Taraki drove home another        ist Taraki D Sivaram has                                           past. Security forces have        ment troops against the sep-      nt when Sivaram ran into tr-
                                                                                                                     nalism.                                                            aratist Tamil Tiger rebels. He    ouble in the mid-1990s,
viduals, will never be investigated      point: accuracy is more important         been abducted and murdered.            Articulating that to be     forced entry and have
                                                                                   Sri Lanka military intelli-                                        searched his residence in the     was unequivocally behind          including being thrown into
or punished.                             for credible media than objectivity.                                        successful, Tamil Nationali-
                                                                                                                                                      past. Murder was carried out      the Tigers' cause to create a     jail for a brief period, due to
    Why was Taraki killed? For           All of us, after all, have valid opin-    gence and para-militaries         sm has to grow from strength
                                                                                   collaborating with the securi-                                     inside the high security zone.    separate state of Tamil Eel-      his writings.
                                                                                                                     to strength, Sivaram gave his
many, the answer seems obvious:          ions. His death will sadden those on      ty forces are responsible for     unstinting support to the        Therefore, the Sri Lanka          am in the north and east of            Where others may have
he was a Tamil Tiger supporter. Yes,     all sides prepared to listen to ratio-    this murder which has                                              Government and its security       the country for Sri Lanka's       chosen to flee Sri Lanka or
                                                                                                                     leadership of Tamil National                                       Tamil minority.                   hide due to such threatening
he was a Tamil patriot. He carried a     nal, even if contrary, arguments.         shocked and angered the           leader V Pirap-aharan.           forces bear responsibility for
                                                                                   Tamil people and journalists.                                      this murder.                          He brought a level of ins-    conditions, Sivaram did not.
rifle for the freedom struggle before    Our feelings over his killing are                                                He vehemently criticized
                                                                                                                                                          Forces that cannot stand      ight about the political agen-    He opted instead to live life
he picked up a pen. But he was not       reflected in Taraki's own words,              Mr Dharmeratnam Siv-          the Tamil media when the
                                                                                   aram is a courageous writer                                        up to his resoluteness, his       da of the Tamil Tigers that       fully with his wife, Herly
                                                                                                                     analyses attempted to breed
always a backer of the Tigers.           penned fifteen years ago, after his       who was able to fearlessly        complacency towards a            firm conviction on issues,        was without peer. These acc-      Yogaranjini, and his three
Indeed he once stood opposed to          close friend, Richard de Soyza, was       express his opinions and pre-                                      and depth and brilliance in       ounts, written under the nom      children, Vaishnavi, Vaitheki
                                                                                                                     faulty peace process. He                                           de plume 'Taraki' in the 'Dai-    and Seralaathan.
the LTTE, before he subsequently         almost identically abducted, tor-         sent news stories even in dif-    urged the press to be vigilant   broad range of skills, have
                                                                                   ficult circumstances. During                                       abducted and murdered him         ly Mirror,' an English lan-            On the night he was
came to see it as the most viable        tured and murdered:                                                         and to never fail to identify
                                                                                                                                                      to silence his voice.             guage newspaper, and the          abducted he had demonstrat-
vehicle for his beloved cause (not           I salute a friend and fellow jour-    the past two decades Mr           the ruling government's
                                                                                   Sivaram, while gaining inter-                                          We express our condo-         'Virakesari,' a Tamil langu-      ed such a will to live, too. He
                                                                                                                     ploys when peace is used as a
least given his military insight). But   nalist most gruesomely murdered by        national recognition for his      trap to contain the National-    lences to his wife and chl-       age daily, were grounded in       was in a bar drinking beer
was it something he wrote or some-       those who dare not show their faces       efforts in communicating the                                       dren, and share their grief, as   facts not many had access to.     and talking politics with
                                                                                                                     istic fervour of Tamil people.                                         His grasp of the under-       friends.
thing he did that made him a             nor advance or protect their inter-       difficulties faced by Tamil            Sivaram stressed the        they mourn the loss of a hus-
                                                                                   people to the outside world,                                       band and a father.                currents within the world of           (Edited)
marked man? Had he broken any of         ests as honourable and brave men                                            importance of incorporating
Sri Lanka's repressive laws, the         do. In the land where people were         convincingly articulated the      modern technology in the
                                                                                   rights of Tamil people throu-     field of media and journal-
state wouldn't have hesitated to put     proud of the Sinhala lion, desperate      gh the media to the interna-      ism, and urged journalists to
him in the dock. He earned its ire       jackals roam, seeking out their           tional community.                 obtain training to keep their                                           Writing to
differently.                             defenceless prey. Richard and many            From the eighties Siva-       skills current. He functioned
    As many have pointed out, it         more have been brutally murdered;         ram resolutely involved him-      as a visionary and a compan-                                Tamil Guardian
was his writing that did much to         who or what is to be blamed? The          self with Tamil freedom stru-     ion to his fellow journalists
promote the Tamil struggle. (Sha-        collective psyche of the Sinhala peo-
                                                                                   ggle and fought against oppr-     as he strived to advance the      Letters for publication should contain the writer's signature,
                                                                                   ession by Sinhala chauvinist      field of Tamil journalism.
mefully, some writers in the south       ple? Enough of this silent impo-          forces. He whole heartedly             Sivaram's analyses were      name and full address. They should be brief and are subject to
have sought to rationalise his mur-      tence. The terrorists have to be resi-    devoted his thoughts and          devoid of bias. Despite con-      editing. Letters and unsolicited manuscripts are not acknowl-
der on the basis of his boldly sym-      sted. Extreme cowardice and a             writings towards advancing        stant threats to his life
pathetic writing for the Tamil cause     gnawing lack of self esteem as usual      the liberation of Tamil peo-      Sivaram fearlessly exposed        edged or returned.
                                                                                   ple.                              Sinhala chauvinism. He said
- they ought to ask themselves what      seem to be at the source of this face-        Sivaram firmly believed       repeatedly that the killers
it says of Sri Lanka that this is suf-   less terrorism. Therefore it should       that Sinhala chauvinism will      have to understand that Tamil                      Letters should be addressed o the Editor.
ficient rationale for abduction and      be collectively resisted before it sta-   always impede arriving at a       struggle cannot be blunted by
execution). Fluent and articulate in     rts to knock on every door looking        just and fair solution to the     killing [Tamil journalists]                              Email letters should be sent to
English and Tamil, Taraki was one        for victims to torture and kill, there-   Tamil National question. He       Nimalarajan, Nadesan or
of Sri Lanka's most influential          by to reassure itself of its existence.
                                                                                   argued for refining, and          Sivaram. Family or selfish                     
                                                                                   worked towards further            motives never interfered with

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