The mad rush to defend Ms. Vijayakala defending LTTE
Among those apologists who rushed to defend Ms. Vijakala Maheswaran is Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana, who describes herself as a political analyst in her website. She has rushed to the defence of the former State Minister of the UNP who resigned after sounding a clarion call for the revival and return of the LTTE to protect Tamil women and girls. She has justified Ms. Vijayakala Maheswaran’s call for the resuscitation of the LTTE, an internationally banned terrorist organisation, on the excuse that there was no sexual violence against women when the LTTE ran its repressive regime in the North and the East – a questionable assertion that will be examined later. In her website she raises a rather provocative question: “What is it about “fuck off” that you don’t understand?” I didn’t bother to read it because the text diverts to other aspects which are not relevant to this article. I shall, therefore, confine myself to the theme/s of her latest essay which appeared in the Colombo Telegraph titled Vilification of Vijayakala.
Her article is typical of the Sri Lankan-born theoretical kattadiyas who unrelentingly chant the pro-Tamil separatist propaganda, blaming “the Sinhala state”, its institutions and its agents, particularly the Security Force, for all the casteist, fascist, repressive, Prabhakaranist evils that came out of Jaffna jingoism and took the misguided Jaffnaites all the way to Nandikadal. The Jaffna political class has survived and thrived only on demonising the Sinhala-Buddhists of the south. The mainstream politics of Jaffna never initiated or promoted a progressive or liberal political agenda that would lead to the peaceful co-existence of multi-ethnic communities. This mono-ethnic extremism was launched by G. G. Ponnambalam in the late thirties and it snowballed into a massive destructive force throughout the rest of the 20th century. It spilled over to the first decades of the 21st,until it was decimated by the triumphant forces of President, Mahinda Rajapakse – a historic victory which restored peace and democracy, and above all, freedom from the Tamil Boko Haram who abducted Tamil girls on their way to school.
Ms. Maheswaran’s latest outburst blaming the Sinhala-Buddhist for everything that is happening in Jaffna, including the sexual violence that had taken place in the North and the East, is nothing new. It is a predictable throwback to the racist politics of Ponnambalam. In fact, Ponnambalam never gave up his racism despite him being the first Tamil Minister in the first Cabinet of the independent nation, led by the UNP leader, D. S. Senanayake, who is better known as the Father of the Nation. Clearly, it is apparent that Ms. Maheswaran, who was a State Minister in the UNP government of Ranil Wickremesinghe, is exhibiting the political genes she inherited from the Father of Tamil racism, Ponnambalam.
Ms. Weerawarhana’s defence of her heroine” comes from the feminist angle, portraying Ms. Maheswaran as the Tamil Joan of Arc who had risen to defend the Tamil girls and women victimised by the Sinhala forces. The remedy she recommends is the revival of the LTTE – a cure which is worse than the disease, as any rational political scientist would agree. But Ms. Weerawardhana bends over backwards to contextualise” (read justify) the call to revive the LTTE. She argues her case on the basis of gender justice” as if sexual violence has been the sole monopoly of priapic, testosterone-driven men in the war zone.
But a recent study of sexual violence in war zones has blown this myth sky-high and provided evidence of females committing gruesome sexual violence against women. The US Institute of Peace (www.usip.org) in its Special Report, Wartime Sexual Violence, Misconceptions, Implications and Way Forward has highlighted the latest results of their research. Remarking that Women sexually abused men during wartime”, it says:
- In Haiti women in armed criminal group gangs, paramilitary groups, and self-defense groups are reported to have committed several forms of sexual violence, including gang rape against other group women and members of enemy groups.
- In the Democratic Republic of Congo women were victimised by female perpetrators.
- In 1994 Rwanda women were active perpetrators of both killing and sexual violence, including rape.
- In Abu Gharib prison camp run by USA male Arab prisoners were sexually abused by American women during wartime. – (Ibid – p. 5)
- When I visited the Manik Camp in July 1995 Tamil women complained that the Tamil female officers persecuted, exploited and abused them, punishing them for minor offences and alleged disloyalties to the LTTE. I was told that one of the LTTE female junior officers even opened fire on Tamil refugees fleeing the LTTE gulag and running into the open arms of the Security Forces in the last stages of the war.
- In her biography, Ms. Subramaniam Sivakami, alias Thamilini, leader of the women’s political wing of the LTTE, repents, shedding tears for the suffering caused by her role in the LTTE. She blames her leader, the Tamil Pol Pot, who ruthlessly led the Tamil children and people to slaughter. She wrote: “My stand is that the most important among the worst decisions taken by leader Prabhakaran was the one to conscript youth by force,” When the organisation arrived at the decision to conscript in order to increase the man power, people began to see another devilish face of
the organisation.” (Daily Mirror – 9/2/2016). But in her days in the LTTE she served Prabhakaran loyally, aiding and abetting him to commit war crimes and the crimes against humanity. So did her women’s brigades who showed no mercy to the Tamil dissidents.
- Adele Balasingham, the nurse from Australia, who married Anton Balasingham, the Tamil ideologue, was the leading force recruiting, brain-washing, and training the young Tamil girls abducted by the Tamil cadres of Prabhakaran. Both women were enablers and enforcers acting loyally on behalf of the Tamil Boko Haram who was committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.
This is a part of the bigger picture which debunks the finger-pointing at men by Ms. Weerawardhana, a feminist who labours obsessively to accuse the men in uniform in particular of being brutal perpetrators of sexual violence against women. The under-reported evidence portrays the women as virtuous and innocent victims of the twisted male libido. In the pop culture of feminist theorists it is fashionable to rush to the conclusion that only men are perpetrators of sexual violence against women.
This one-sided conclusion does not take into consideration that the women are not seen as war criminals only because they have not been in positions of command to go down the path of men who have been invariably in the forefront of war zones in large contingents. As seen in the cases cited above, the women are equally capable of committing crimes against women on the same scale as men, if they are placed in the same circumstances. In fact, they have been willing partners of men committing crimes against women.
Take also the cases of women holding political power in the highest commanding positions of their respective states. Practically, every one of them – Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher to mention only a few – has been ruthless in meeting the challenges of their time and place. Consider also our own case. Women were stripped naked and forced to walk in the streets of the Wyamba Province when Ms. Chandrika Bandaranaike, another pretentious preacher of human rights, was Sri Lanka’s Commander-in-Chief of the three Forces.
Most of all, Ms. Chamindra Weerawardhana paints Ms. Vijayakala Maheswaran, the ex-Minister, as the heroine” who stood up for the women’s rights, when she knows very well that her heroine” was instrumental in providing protection to the main suspect of the brutal abuse and murder of Sivaloganathan Vithya,” an 18-year-old school girl in Jaffna in May 2015. Ms. Maheswaran unabashedly used her political power to protect the main suspect, ‘Swiss Kumar’, a Tamil expat who arrived in Sri Lanka with the intention of video recording the rape and murder of the girl. The girl had been abducted by one of nine suspects, arrested over the incident, before being raped and killed.
The three judge bench was told that ‘Swiss Kumar’ had wanted to sell the video of the rape and murder to a contact in Switzerland.” (Sunday Leader — July, 9, 2018). So when Ms. Maheswaran rushed to defend and protect Swiss Kumar” who had come to rape, murder and video another Tamil mother’s daughter, was she moved by the suffering of the Tamil people, or was she a willing partner of the gang of Tamil men sexually abusing a Tamil girl? Was she after a political/financial gain by being a partner in the gang of Swiss Kumar”? Could it be because ‘Swiss Kumar’ is one of the Tiger flag-carrying Tamil nationalist protest(ors),” who is a full-time screamer of anti-Sri Lankan slogans across the West?
Knowing all this, with what moral conviction can Ms.Weerawardhana, present her heroine”, Ms. Maheswaran as a tireless advocate, if not the only political voice that openly stands for the rights of Tamil women and girls in post-war Sri Lanka”?
Ms. Weerwardhana, Ms. Maheswaran and Swiss” Kumar stand out as an obscene combination unacceptable to decent moral standards. Consider the overall picture: Swiss Kumar”, a Tiger-flag carrying Tamil nationalist from the Tamil diaspora, arrives in Sri Lanka to take a video of a Tamil school girl being raped and killed. His sole aim is to sell the video to one of his clients in Switzerland. He is caught by the Sri Lankan Police and who runs to his protection : Minister Vijayakala Maheswaran. And who runs to the defence of the Minister? Why, it’s our feminists, Ms. Weerawardhana, who hails her “heroine’s” calls to revive the LTTE as an act that has raised her political capital to a level much higher than occupying an obscure state minister position in the Joint Government.”
More than the feminist mumbo-jumbo of Ms. Weerawardhana what is more convincing is her common sense conclusion that her heroine” was trying to catch a free ride fishing away for political advantage, à la Vijayakala Maheswaran”.
So to be fair, the feminist argument against men should be amended to take into consideration the realities of the universal human condition: the male and the female are both capable of committing crimes and that no one in particular holds the monopolistic superiority over the other in committing crimes. The women are projected as superior moralists, governed by humane principles of love and compassion, only because they haven’t had the mass scale necessity / opportunity as men to commit crimes in the war zones.
It is on this basis that Ms. Weerawardhana downplays the LTTE crimes and legitimises the claim of Ms. Vijayakala Maheswaran to revive the LTTE as a means of saving the women from sexual violence. Ms. Maheswaran argues as if LTTE is a desirable, viable and acceptable force because they did not abuse women sexually. This claim is worse than cutting the leg to save the toe.
Besides, this claim is not correct. LTTE cadres did commit sexual crimes against women. They are given a clean certificate because their crimes were under-reported. This is what the US report cited above states about the LTTE crimes: A classic setting for widespread rape during war is an ethnic conflict driven by an armed secessionist campaign. However, Sri Lanka’s civil war was a case of secessionist ethnic conflict, and neither side appears to have engaged in sexual violence as a strategy of war…….”
Members of the state military and police committed some rape against Tamil girls and women during military operations and at checkpoints. It is difficult to evaluate the frequency of such assaults, but it is clear that they occurred less often than in some other ethnic conflicts, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Darfur.”
In contrast, the secessionist insurgent group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, appears to have perpetrated very little rape of civilians…….” – (Ibid – p.4).
This makes it clear that both sides committed rape but the difference is in the scale. The fact that the number of rapes is less under LTTE does not make them defenders and protectors of girls. If Ms. Maheswaran can go all out, using her ministerial powers, to protect Swiss Kumar” the possibilities were there even under the LTTE to protect sexual abusers. It should also be remembered that the Chief Minister of Northern Province, C. V. Wigneswaran, is a notorious defender of a Tamil rapist and a murder whom he worships as a saint. He even wrote to the Indian Prime Minister pleading on this rapist’s behalf.
Putting all this evidence together I find it difficult to understand how Ms. Weerawardhana can rush to provide theoretical defences to Ms. Maheswaran. However, I can now relate to the provocative question Ms. Weerawardhana raised in her website: What is it about fuck off” that you don’t understand?”