The Hong Kong Standard Editorial.

On 10 September 1997, the Hong Kong Standard published an editorial titled 'Time to smoke out the Tamil Tigers'.
This was in response to a very specific military intervention by the LTTE within the Tamil Eelam territorial waters, to prevent the Sri Lankan government from exploiting Tamil resources to aid its genocidal war against the Tamil people.
The Sri Lankan government uses foreign owned cargo ships in its war against the Tamil people (to transport troops, military supplies etc., and to pilfer the natural resources of Tamil Eelam), while falsely claiming to help Tamil refugees, created by its own military actions.
This time a Chinese owned cargo ship got caught in this genocidal war.
The Hong Kong Standard editor, having no regard for the 70,000 (or more) Tamil civilians killed in this genocidal war, wrote an editorial about the FOUR Chinese sailors who lost their lives in this operation.
The following is a response from an academic in the US.

Dear Editor:
I am saddened by the death of four Hong Kong sailors in Sri Lanka.

The deaths are particularly painful to me, who is able to share the grief to the fullest extent as one who has lost several relatives in the civil war, all of them at the hands of the Sri Lankan soldiers. Disturbingly, some of them lost their lives after being tortured and/or raped by the soldiers.

Having been born in Sri Lanka, I want peace to both the communities who are engaged in the civil war. In this respect, I regret the tone of your editorial and its superficiality in viewing the events in Sri Lanka, although understandable to some extent given your grief.

The situation in Sri Lanka today is far more complex, one that transcends the role played by the Tigers and their 'misread' mission of seeking salvation for Sri Lanka.

According to Amnesty International, Sri Lanka is second only to Iraq in the number of disappearances. The American State department delegation left Sri Lanka last week after calling for a better human rights record in that country. Above all, there are hundreds and thousands of living witnesses like myself to the atrocities perpetrated on innocent people by the Sri Lankan government.

Your emotional editorial is a disservice to all communities in Sri Lanka who are battling the current regime controlled by a handful of self-serving family members.

The Prime Minister is the mother of the President. The defense minister who is waging the war against the people is the uncle of the same President. The only independent newspaper group is owned by another uncle while the brother of the President is a prominent member of the opposition that again is lead by the nephew of the former president. The current president is the daughter of a former Prime Minister who again is the wife of yet another former Prime Minister. As for the late president Jayawardena, he was a nephew of an earlier Prime Minister.

The Sri Lankan people of all races are battling the grip held by these people in power and their personal agendas thrust upon the average Sri Lankan at a deadly cost to them in terms of lives and living conditions. Myself including, many want to see a Sri Lanka in peace -- that is in peace with a greater Asia at peace.

The oversees Tamil community's objective is for a Sri Lanka that is free and fair, in the same manner that millions of people in Hong Kong expressed it through a mid-night vigil -- their yearning for a democratic Hong Kong. In this respect, we share the passions of Hong Kong's democratic crusader Martin Lee.

For the fundamental freedom of human beings, we are not afraid to identify ourselves with Chandrel Rinpoche who is on a hunger strike in a Chinese prison protesting the inhuman conditions of the prison and the day-to-day human necessities denied to him. We understand the Prime Minister of Taiwan Vincent Siew when he unequivocally expresses his belief in the basic principle of sovereignty of a group of people who chose to govern themselves on their own terms.

Seeking an end to oppression and deception is a prerequisite to seeking an end to all other forms of immorality that has kept the otherwise intelligent Asians from seeking peace and prosperity. We invite you to join us in seeking a better life for all Asians.

From Hong Kong you could contribute to this greater goal of peace for Asia by writing an editorial, such as one on the sale of arms by the arms dealer Norinco in Hong Kong. Norinco is the largest arms supplier to the government of Sri Lanka whose supply has resulted in the death of tens of thousands of civilians including my cousins, nephews and nieces.

Regrettably, the continued supply of arms by Norinco to many Asian countries will eventually lead to the death of many more innocent sailors from Hong Kong. In the irony of events, the very tone of your editorial may indirectly contribute to the death of many not simply in a far away place such as Sri Lanka but closer to your heart as well.

Professor Nanda Ganesan
California State University,
Los Angeles
California, USA

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