News

Uthayan & the Tamil Alliance to Protect the Country

I just saw this article on the BBC website.

So let me just get the logic of this straight (facts are as I got them from the article by the way so correct me if they are wrong and pass that onto the BBC as well):

1) There is a Tamil language paper called the Uthayan
2) There is a group called the Tamil Alliance to Protect the Country
3) The Alliance has supposedly accused the Uthayan of being a “mouthpiece for terrorists” and aiming to destroy peace and that the Uthayan employees and all associated newsagents and such will be facing “capital punishment” if they do not resign by the 30th of June.

Now tell me do you see the fallacy there? Can you spot the mistake in this logical reasoning, assuming all facts above are true?

Because tell me how the hell can you be a Tamil Alliance to Protect the Country (from what/who exactly?) and at the same time threaten to kill people? How can you say you are safeguarding peace and accuse someone (whether it is true or not) of undermining peace in the country when you are threatening to kill people (which in itself is not a peaceful action)? But then logic and dogmatic belief don’t like to mix.

This was what I was afraid of, that even with the war ending, there is and still will be a lot of work to be done to ensure we don’t have all these odd factions of any ethnicity turning up thinking that the best way to solve these issues is to clearly intimidate, threaten, harrass or kill those who say something you do not entirely agree with. Taken to an extreme, that could very easily plunge us into another war again. We don’t need anyone fighting with anyone else for any more reasons – we have a country to rebuild and a global financial crisis to get through.

I hope there is a solution though so that people can get on with doing the work they need to do whether it is in the media or in any other industry.

– Marisa.

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is currently based in Melbourne.

4 Comments

  • KKula

    Stop being so naive Marisa. This group is clearly a front for a paramilitary group that’s probably broken away from the LTTE.

    Uthayan is a newspaper staffed by LTTE supporters, funded by the LTTE, and glorifies Tamil terrorism. I’m not surprised that this group wants to kill them, and I find it difficult to sympathise with the Uthayan people. If you do not intimidate, threaten, harrass or kill those who intimidate, threaten, harrass or kill you, what else can you do?

    • Marisa

      Hey K,

      A lot of this is a bit of a rant so don’t worry not all of it applies to your comment above.

      I don’t mind being naive, it’s somewhere to start from.

      I was merely pointing out the logic in that you cannot claim to be all for peace and then use violence as a method to attain peace.

      Uthayan may or may not be an LTTE funded and backed newspaper though if that is true then why would the TAPC (if they were a splinter group of the LTTE) want to kill them? Would the infighting between two factions be that bad? I have no idea about that. I don’t know if Uthayan is LTTE related. Can you back up your statement? Sorry, being based in Jaffna and publishing in the Tamil Language are not enough to convince me – prove that they have links of some kind – else it would be like saying since I am in Perth, my ideology therefore must consist of bowing to The Queen of England, which of course is a definite no because it would totally go against the whole point of Sri Lanka acheiving independence in the first place. If Uthayan expresses patriotic views from an LTTE perspective or a Tamil Diaspora one but does not actually incite violence then I do not see the issue with the paper – technically the paper is free of responsibility in that case and the responsiblity for using violence would rest with the reader. If Uthayan clearly did incite violence then yes, the paper is responsible but it is an extreme when it is defined as being entirely justifiable for a random vigilante group to decide to take them out.

      I was trying to point out the logical flaw (and also how stupid it makes the TAPC look) in the bit about “we are for peace – you are a terrorist – so we will now threaten you with a terrorist act ourselves if you do not stop being a terrorist” and “oooh we are going to use capital punishment even though technically we have no jurisdiction so it’s not capital punishment, it is actually unjustifiable murder but we are going to call it capital punishment so that we can pat ourselves on the back and talk about how good we are being for the country by imposing our lovely moral views on it and aren’t we so cool posing as vigilantes though we probably got the idea from a comic book or movie but we won’t admit to trying to be the Watchmen because that would be so uncool” which was what first jumped out at me (seriously that was my first impression), hence why I started questioning the facts of the story in the first place. Can a group really be that daft? Do they not realise that they may use violence and intimidation but they need some credibility as a group if they want their demands taken seriously (and I am sure there willl be demands because they probably won’t be satisfied with a number of people who supposedly aren’t doing their best to get rid of what they think is akin to a terrorist plague no doubt). Or maybe I am wrong and they understood that capital punishment means death but chose it so it looked like they were on the side of all that was good and right. Possibly they didn’t realise that a naive nerd like moi would pick up on that one.

      So now I wonder – if they aren’t that stupid, then is the TAPC really the TAPC or is it a cover for another faction that wants the blame thrown a Tamil related or supposedly LTTE related faction? I am thinking that there is a smokescreen somewhere in there now in terms of the TAPC not being exactly what they claim to be but not an LTTE faction either. The LTTE was what it was but it isn’t a catch all scapegoat for everything that goes wrong or an explanation for every terrorist faction/vigilante group in the country.

      As for what else can we do, I don’t have a solution and I don’t claim to have one. All I can point out is that violence leads to more violence and honestly I seriously think it’s time for the country to be able to focus on rebuilding, the economy and other matters now, though of course, we need to ensure threats, factions threatening violence and so on need to be dealt with first or at least at the same time. But the main focus seriously needs to shift to other matters – we cannot dwell on this forever but we also must have systems in place to deal with this sort of violence, threats and harrassment.

      And seriously, if you have facts, then let me know but back them up with some sort of evidence. “Everyone knows…” (well, no, I don’t know so explain the logical connection to me properly if you want to convince me), “Clearly, they are..” (Are they? Do they declare it on a T-shirt?), “They are from Jaffna/are Tamil/ etc …” (see above comment for the absurdity of that supposedly logical statement), does not work with me, sorry – that’s not evidence, that’s not logic, that’s assumption and it could be false. Official statements, websites, something straight from the horse’s mouth … but no assumptions, if you want me to accept your facts and argument. Scenarios presented logically as POSSIBLE (but not FACTUAL unless you have the above) scenarios are acceptable.

      And yes, even if you don’t want to convince me, you can still assume away in the comments as much as you want. You won’t get censored unless you swear. But you might want to think about your credibility when you comment.

  • James

    I believe what ‘KKula’ is trying to say is the so called ‘Tamil Alliance to Protect the Country’ is actually a front name being used by one of 2 or 3 factions who broke away from the LTTE and now work hand in glove with the government. It’s an open secret that these factions still maintain fully armed and trained paramilitary units.

    The ‘Uthayan’ newspaper is known to be very outspoken in a Tamil nationalistic sense, thereby making it very easy for anyone to tar them with the ‘terrorist’ brush.

    I’m certain you’ll get various people arguing the rights and wrongs of the stance taken by this group. Some will blindly swear ‘Uthayan’ is staffed, run and funded by the LTTE and others will proclaim them to be saints.

    But ultimately it comes down to the question of what has happened to law and order in Sri Lanka, when death threats can be made with such impunity.

    • Marisa

      Hi James,

      James, you say things much better than I do. Possibly, because I am very tired at the moment.

      Re: the TAPC – see that was what I was thinking when I said that the TAPC may not be the TAPC. Their use of the words “capital punishment” as if they have a right to make decisions on who they can and can’t execute is strange. If it is true that they work with the government then that makes a bit more sense – as in because they have that link, they feel they have that right. But it still makes them laughable in terms of credibility in my eyes – they make themselves sound like little boys playing at Cowboys and Indians though the threat is very real.

      And yes, the main issue is indeed the fact that someone was threatened, regardless of whether or not that person had LTTE links or not. That should be sorted but I don’t have a solution other than constantly pressuring the government to make better decisions … and we know what happens then, do we not? People get harrassed and threatened. But I don’t think that should mean we stop protesting. If we back down when bullied, the bully has won. If we ignore them and keep at it, they have no power.

      Law and order may be under attack but I hope people have a bit more hope that that can change.

      People have yelled at me for being concerned about press freedom but if you do not have several perspectives in the media, conservative, left wing, independent, whatever, you end up running the risk of being brainwashed with the government’s agenda and beliefs and you end up giving away too much power to the government. The government may be “democratically” elected but we know how that process works in our country and we also know how quickly our politicians change their minds on policies once elected. The media exists to question those in power on behalf of the people and to bring you different perspectives so that people can make up their own mind as to what the truth is. It doesn’t make anyone in the media a hero or a god, and anyone setting themselves up as one or the other should be doubted, but it does mean that freedom of speech and press freedom are important.

      Do the majority of SL journalists act as if they are deities? I don’t know. Some people seem to think that they do. No, you don’t have to read a particular paper if you don’t want to but the paper should still exist, it should still have its stance, still operate under certain rules because it gives you another angle on the subject. One outlet per media and it is too easy for you to think that everything that paper reports is true or is what is occurring and that puts the blinkers on you in terms of you experiencing the world. Independent papers will talk about things that conservative papers will not and vice versa. For the people in Jaffna, the Uthayan is important, it gives them news about their region that may not get covered in the other papers, and it gives them information that they feel pertains to them. Whether it violates rules about inciting violence or violent behaviour is another matter – I would say if so, any paper inciting violence on a continual basis would get three warnings and orders for retractions and continual offence after three warnings would get the paper shut down – not on the stance or the tone but on the actual incitement. And you would have to isolate and showcase the specific article, issue and actual words in the warnings and in front of a judge/board on media ethics and rights. And every journalist in the country should have be trained in media ethics and rights (we have a guide already) as used in Sri Lanka as decided by a board (we have one already) before they start work. And it would be their bible.

      But any such movement gets hampered when random people take it into their own hands to mete out judgement on whether a paper poses a threat because they a) do not make a judgement on ethical criterial; b) the group was not in anyway legally formed for the purpose of making such judgements and c) the group itself poses a threat and imposes on human rights because there is no legal mandate for them to kill for the purposes of “protecting” the country.

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