by Albert J. Fernando, Canada
Phil Miller, author of “Keenie Meenie,” a book about the activities of British ex-SAS private security firm KMS (KM refers to “Keenie Meenie”) seems to have completely got carried away by the propaganda of Tamil Eelam terrorists that he feels utterly disappointed that LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) could not win the war to establish their own country taking out the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka. The subtitle of the book is “The British Mercenaries Who Got Away with War Crimes.”
One popular explanation of “Keenie Meenie” is that it refers to ‘snakes moving under grass’ in Swahili. In other words, covert operations.
The book narrates the activities of this British mercenary company in several countries such as Oman, Yemen, Lebanon, Nicaragua (remember Col. Oliver North?) and of course, Sri Lanka in the eighties.
Miller’s extreme bias can be explained in several ways:
1. Why so much about Sri Lanka? He writes extensively about Sri Lanka reproducing eyewitness accounts of torture and killing of Tamils by Sri Lanka Army with the help of KMS pilots in the North. As far as the Eastern Province is concerned, especially in Batticaloa, such killings of Tamils were carried out by the Special Task Force, trained by KMS. However, Phil Miller does not give any detailed accounts but merely narrates what KMS did in the other countries. So why provide so many details about the war situation in Sri Lanka? Tamil propaganda is well-known for exaggerating what goes on Sri Lanka, but Miller reproduces that as if all such horror stories are genuine. The readers will be shocked by such horror accounts about the plight of Tamils. This is not to say that some of these incidents did not happen. In any war, there are casualties on both sides including civilians.
2. Attacks on Sinhalese villages and Buddhist places of worship ignored. As a reputed investigative reporter, Miller has failed miserably to point out the attacks carried out by Tamil Eelam terrorists on innocent Sinhalese civilians in villages and places of Buddhist worship. For example, why is he so silent about the cold-blooded massacre of Sinhalese in Dollar Farm (total deaths: 33) and Kent Farm (deaths: 29) on November 30, 1984? Both farms were located in the Northern Province. Has he forgotten the LTTE attack on the Sinhalese fishing villages Nayaru and Kokilai in the Northeast (11 killed) on December 1, 1984? Also, no one told him (of course, LTTE propaganda outfits will never tell him) or he simply did not bother to find out (which is worse) the two LTTE attacks on Buddhist places of worship: The attack on the sacred city of Anuradhapura including the sacred Bo-tree on May 14, 1985 (146 killed) and the attack on the Buddhist Temple of the Tooth in central province city of Kandy with a truck bomb on January 24, 1998 (eight killed and dozens injured, part of the temple destroyed).
3. LTTE killing of Tamils ignored. Third, the reputed investigative reporter did not bother to find out that Tamil Eelamists killed hundreds of Tamils in Sri Lanka, mainly in Northern and Eastern provinces for not supporting their cause. Just a rumor is good enough for them to arrest them, tie them to a lamp post and shoot them dead. Probably Miller had never heard of them. Tamil Tigers also murdered a Tamil academic and human rights activist Dr. Rajani Rajasingham Thiranagama, in Jaffna on September 21, 1989. At the time of her death, she was Head, Department of Anatomy, University of Jaffna. They also assassinated another academic, Harvard- and Yale-educated human rights activist Neelan Tiruchelvam on July 29, 1999. Among the Tamil politicians assassinated by Tamil Tigers are A. Amirthalingam M.P. and Leader of the Opposition and V. Yogeswaran M.P. killed together on July 13, 1989, and Lakshman Kadirgamar, M.P. and Minister of Foreign Affairs, shot dead on August 12, 2005.
4. Extortion of money from Tamil diaspora. Phil Miller has conveniently forgotten that LTTE amassed a lot of wealth by harassing and extortion of Tamil refugees in Britain, USA, Canada and European countries. In this connection details can be found in the 2006 Human Rights Watch Report. To quote one of the recommendations: “To the LTTE and organizations linked to LTTE: Immediately stop all use of violence, threats, intimidation and harassment to solicit funds from the Tamil community, including among the diaspora and from members of diaspora communities making return visits to Sri Lanka.” HRW also quotes an inspector with the London Metropolitan Police: “We know that extortion is going on, but this is not a priority for the British government. When we look at what we need to concentrate our resources on, in terms of terrorist groups, we are focusing on Islamic groups.” Tamil Tigers also raised funds through various illegal activities. TIME magazine says in issue dated January 04, 2009, “Through their history, the Tigers have financed their operations with bank robberies and drug smuggling, among other illegal acts. They are also believed to get much of their support from ethnic Tamils living in Western Europe and Canada. Some estimates say the LTTE raises more than $200 million a year.”
5. LTTE recruitment of child soldiers. Another important matter that Phil Miller has ignored is the LTTE’s recruitment of children to fight the Sri Lanka Army. Some were as young as 11-years. These children did not join LTTE willingly but were taken by force from their parents. At least one child from each family was the LTTE’s directive. UNICEF has criticized this inhuman activity on several occasions; but thanked the LTTE whenever child soldiers were released.
6. Author’s Tamil Eelam bias. Author Miller exposes his bias when at least in three occasions he shows his anger and frustration because he feels that if the KMS mercenaries did not help the Government of Sri Lanka, LTTE would have won the war. On page 222 he writes referring to the battles fought in May, June and July 1986, “Without air cover and fast casualty evacuations, it seems likely that the army would have been routed that summer.” On page 229 he writes, “Again, without the KMS pilots, it is highly likely the Sri Lankan army have had to abandon the north, effectively giving the Tamils a de facto state of their own.” Miller is still not satisfied, because he repeats the same claim on page 262. He is so angry with KMS that yet again on page 276, he still maintains, “From my research, it seems likely that had KMS not supported the Sri Lanka government from 1984 to 1988, then the Tamil liberation movement may have achieved its military objectives as early as 1986…” It is, therefore, abundantly clear that Miller has been fully supportive of LTTE victory. Further, he has even gone to the extent of helping a Tamil youth who had been tortured by STF and had fled to UK in 2014 to get asylum there. Says Miller, “although it took another four years and considerable evidence from me and my colleagues about STF activities, before an immigration judge finally overruled the Home Office and said he could stay in the UK.” (page 279).
7. Author’s tie-up with Tamil Information and their help. Here is the coup de grace: Miller has dedicated the book, “In memory of Vairamuttu Varadakumar. 1949-2019.” Perhaps one may ask why Miller dedicated the book to him? Answer is simple: It is Varadakumar who helped the author to write the book! In an appreciation published in the socialist publication called The Morning Star about Varadakumar, the founder of the Tamil Information Centre in London, Miller states, ” We began collaborating in March 2015, after I published a report outlining the British complicity in Sri Lanka’s assaults on the Tamil struggle…Although most Tamil groups were focused on lobbying the UN, he approached me quietly after the launch and said the British state had to be held to account for its actions in Sri Lanka….He offered his help to expand my research and over the last four years he stayed true to his word, guiding me to sources and contacts.” In short, Tamil Eelamists fed him with truck loads of misinformation and half truths justifying their campaign to set up a separate Tamil state. No wonder he hates the Keenie Meenie company of British mercenaries.
Mindset changes and the dangerous ‘Religious War’ rhetoric
Nothing could be more vital at present in the conflict and war zones of the world than positive mindset changes and the wish of the humanist is likely to be that such momentous developments would quickly come to pass in particularly the Middle East. Because in the latter theatre almost every passing hour surfaces problems that call for more than average peace-making capabilities for their resolution.
For instance, the Islamic Supreme Fatwa Council in Palestine has reportedly warned of a ‘Religious War’ in the wake of recent allegations that Israel is planning to prevent the Muslim community from having access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem in the month of Ramadan. If true, this development is likely to further compound the Gaza violence and take it along an even more treacherous track. This is on account of the fact that religious passions, if not managed effectively, could prove most volatile and destructive.
As pointed out in this column previously, peace movements on both sides of the main divide in the region would need to quickly activate themselves, link-up and work as one towards the de-escalation of the conflict. What the Middle East and the world’s other war zones urgently need are persons and groups who are endowed with a pro-peace mind set who could work towards an elimination of the destructive attitudes that are instrumental in keeping the conflicts concerned raging.
This could prove an uphill task in the Middle East in particular. For, every passing minute in the region is seeing a hardening of attitudes on both sides in the wake of issues growing out of the violence. Accordingly, if peace-making is to be contemplated by the more moderate sections in the conflict, first, we need to see a lull in the violence. Achieving such a de-escalation in the violence has emerged as a foremost need for the region.
Right now, the Israeli state is showing no signs of climbing down from its position of seeing a decisive end to the Hamas militants and their support bases and going forward this policy stance could get in the way of de-escalating the violence even to a degree.
On the other hand, it would not be realistic on the part of the world community to expect a mindset change among Israeli government quarters and their supporters unless and until the security of the Israeli state is ensured on a permanent basis. Ideally, the world should be united on the position that Israel’s security is non-negotiable; this could be considered a veritable cornerstone of Middle East peace.
Interestingly, the Sri Lankan state seems to have come round to the above view on a Middle East peace settlement. Prior to the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime taking this stance, this columnist called repeatedly over the past few months in this commentary, in fact since October 7th last year, for the adoption of such a policy. That is, a peace settlement that accords priority to also the security needs of the Israelis. It was indicated that ensuring the security and stability of the Palestinians only would fall short of a comprehensive settlement of the Middle East imbroglio.
However, in the case of the Ranil Wickremesinghe regime, the above change in policy seems to be dictated almost wholly by economic survival considerations rather than by any well thought out principle or a sense of fairness to all relevant stakeholders.
For example, close on the heels of the regime playing host to the Israeli Transport Minister recently, it accorded a reverential welcome to the Iranian Foreign Minister as well. From the viewpoint of a small country struggling to survive, this is the way to go, since it needs every morsel of economic assistance and succour.
However, if permanent peace is to have a chance in the Middle East it would need to be based on the principle of justice to all the main parties to the conflict. Seen from this point of view, justice and fairness should be accorded to the Palestinians as well as the Israelis. Both parties, that is, should live within stable states.
The immediate need, though, is to at least bring a lull to the fighting. This will enable the Palestinian population in the Gaza to access humanitarian assistance and other essential needs. Besides, it could have the all-important effect of tempering hostile attitudes on both sides of the divide.
The US is currently calling for a ‘temporary ceasefire’ to the conflict, but the challenge before Washington is to get the Israeli side to agree to it. If the Israeli Prime Minister’s recent pronouncements are anything to go by, the US proposal is unlikely to make any impression on Tel Aviv. In other words, the Israeli Right is remaining an obstacle to a ceasefire or even some form of temporary relief for the affected populations, leave alone a political solution. However, changing their government is entirely a matter for the Israeli people.
Accordingly, if a stable peace is to be arrived at, hostile, dogmatic attitudes on both sides may need to be eased out permanently. Ideally, both sides should see themselves as having a common future in a peacefully shared territory.
Peace groups and moderate opinion should be at centre stage on both sides of the divide in the region for the facilitation of such envisaged positive changes. The UN and democratic opinion worldwide should take it upon themselves to raise awareness among both communities on the need for a political solution. They should consider it incumbent upon themselves to work proactively with peace groups in the region.
The world is a vast distance from the stage when both parties to the conflict could even toy with the idea of reconciliation. Because reconciliation anywhere requires the relevant antagonists to begin by saying, ‘I am sorry for harming you.’ This is unthinkable currently, considering the enmity and acrimony that have built up over the years among the volatile sections of both communities.
However, relevant UN agencies and global democratic opinion could begin by convincing the warring sections that unless they cooperate and coexist, mutual annihilation could be their lot. Mindset changes of this kind are the only guarantors of lasting peace and mindset changes need to be worked on untiringly.
As this is being written, the ICJ is hearing representations from numerous countries on the Middle East situation. The opinions aired thus far are lopsided in that they do not present the Israeli viewpoint on the conflict. If a fair solution is to be arrived at to the conflict Israel’s concerns too would need to be taken into account expeditiously.
Dubai scene brightening up for SL fashion designers
Sri Lankans are lighting up the scene in Dubai, not only as musicians, but in other fields, as well.
At the recently held Ceylon Food Festival, in Dubai, a fashion show was held, with Sri Lankan designers doing the needful.
The fashion show highlighted the creations of Pubudu Jayasinghe, Tehani Rukshika and Peshala Rasanganee Wickramasuriya, in three different segments, with each designer assigned 10 models.
The fashion show was choreographed by Shashi Kaluarachchi, who won the Miss Supermodel Globe International 2020, held in India, and was 1st runner-up at the Mr., Miss and Mrs. Sri Lanka, in Dubai.
Shashi says she was trained by Brian Karkoven and his know-how gave her a good start to her modelling career.
She has done many fashions shows in Sri Lanka, as well as in Dubai, and has worked with many pioneers in the fashion designing field.
The designers involved in the fashion show, in Dubai, were:
a 22-year-old creative and skilled makeup artist and nail technician. With a wealth of experience gained from working in various salons and participating in makeup and fashion projects in both Dubai and Sri Lanka, he has honed his talents in the beauty industry. Passionate about fashion, Pubudu has also acquired knowledge and experience in fashion designing, modelling, and choreography, showcasing his multifaceted expertise in the dynamic world of fashion.
who studied at St Joseph’s Girls School, Nugegoda, says she went to Dubai, where her mom works, and joined the Westford University in fashion designing faculty for her Masters. Her very first fashion show was a Sri Lankan cultural event, called ‘Batik’. “This was my first event, and a special one, too, as my mom was modelling an Arabic Batik dress.”
Peshala Rasanganee Wickramasuriya
has been living in Dubai for the past 21 years and has a batik shop in Dubai, called 20Step.
According to Shashi, who is on vacation in Sri Lanka, at the moment, there will be more Sri Lankan fashion shows in Dubai, highlighting the creations of Sri Lankan designers.
A mask of DATES…
Yes, another one of my favourites…dates, and they are freely available here, so you don’t need to go searching for this item. And they are reasonably priced, too.
Okay, readers, let’s do it…with dates, of course – making a mask that will leave your skin feeling refreshed, and glowing
To make this mask, you will need 03-04 dates, and 02 tablespoons of milk.
Remove the seeds and soak the dates, in warm milk, for about 20 minutes. This method will soften the dates and make them easier to blend.
After the 20 minutes is up, put the dates in a blender and blend until you have a smooth paste. Check to make sure there are no lumps, or chunks, left.
Add the 02 tablespoons of milk to the blended date paste and mix well.
Okay, now gently apply this mixture to your face, avoiding the eye area. Use your fingertips, or a clean brush, to evenly distribute the mask all over your face.
Once the mask is applied, find a comfortable place to sit, or lie down. Relax for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the mask to work its magic on your skin.
After the mentioned time has passed, rinse off the mask with lukewarm water. Gently massage your face while rinsing to exfoliate any dead skin cells.
After rinsing off the mask, pat dry your face with a soft towel, and then follow up with your favourite moisturizer to lock in the hydration and keep your skin moisturized.
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