I say 'reportedly' as all information that comes out of the
In the north, displaced Tamil civilian populations - perhaps more than 250,000 now, but it's hard to know since the international aid agencies were forced to pull out - are bearing the brunt of the fallout from the fighting.
However the effects of this dirty war are not confined to the battle zone. The attempts to crush the Tamil Tigers militarily and bring them to the negotiating table on their knees is taking a terrible toll on Sri Lankan society as a whole.
It now seems that, in the name of 'national interest' and 'war spirit'
No dissent or counter-argument to the war strategy is tolerated by President Mahinda Rajpakse, his brother Gotabhaya (the defence secretary) and chief of the army staff Gen Sarath Fonseka.
Here's what Gen Fonseka had to say in an interview posted on the SL Defence ministry website.
I quote him at some length since I can't think of a better way of showing how the SL government and its agencies thinks these days.
Q: But it is reported that the Army is behind the attack on Keith Noyair of The Nation newspaper who had written a military story criticizing the military few weeks before the attack. What do you have to say about this allegation?
A: How many other journalists write political or military columns? Why should the Army attack only on Keith Noyair. I have never seen anywhere that Keith Noyair had said that the Army had attacked him. Some people are trying to put us against him. He has never accused that the Army had assaulted him. And I think perhaps he is guilty that he has done something wrong by writing against the military.
Q: Is he tight-lipped because he is supposed to be in fear of reprisals?
A: If he has not done anything wrong, he does not have to live in fear. If he has done some damage to our organisation or to a person, especially when he has done something which he is not suppose to do, then it is natural he must be living in fear. If they think that they have done something of that nature the best thing for them is to correct themselves and rectify the mistake.
Note first the denial, then the implicit justification in language 'correct' 'rectify themselves' worthy of Mao's
As for his views on the rightful place for the Tamils in
"I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people...We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country...We are also a strong nation ... They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things."
I quote these since they shine a light into the thinking that lies behind so much of the lies and repression that is currently going on in Sri Lanka at the moment, all justified in the name of total victory over the LTTE.
There are dissenting voices, such as that by the former minister and now dissident MP Mangala Samaraweera who has set up an organization called 'Defence Watch' which, he says, is aimed to provide a more balanced view of
There's an element of politics in this, but Mr Samarweera (who once had a ferocious pop at your correspondent after I wrote a series of articles criticizing Sri Lanka's slothful tsunami relief effort), has told parliament that he's already received death threats for his troubles.
Then there is the case of Tamil journalist, JS Tissainayagam who has been in jail since March under
The SL government says Mr Tissainayagam and his publisher (also in jail) was 'inciting violence. Human Rights Watch says that
The saddest thing of all is that even if the army wins its cherished 'victory' it will, as Roland Buerk, the BBC correspondent observes, create in the process 'a legacy of fear and deep distrust' for Sri Lanka.
As a patriotic
Someone, somewhere needs to take some notice of this, particularly since the Government's relentless crushing of debate means that it's hard to see how