The Archbishop and the Tamil Propagandist

Given below is an extract from a letter written to the head of the Anglican communion, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams by a well-known supporter of Tamil separatism and extremism and one of its leading propagandists in Australia Brian Senewiratne .

Archbishop Rowan recently visited Sri Lanka for three days during which he met President Rajapakse and also visited Tamil areas. At the end of his visit he told journalists in Colombo that the military solution to the problems of the country "increasingly appears to be no solution". He added: "It is undoubtedly inevitable that what you might call surgical military action against terrorism should take place", but that he hoped and prayed that that would lead to an opening of communication between the government and the Tamil Tigers. He concluded: "But we all hope and pray that that will lead not to ...victory for one, defeat for another, but to an opening of communication, a re-establishment of the possibilities for civil society to develop".

Senewiratne has selected one sentence from what Archbishop Rowan Williams said ("It is undoubtedly inevitable that what you might call surgical military action against terrorism should take place") and on the basis of this he entered into a diatribe defending the terrorists and condemning GOSL.

What the Archbishop said as "inevitable" is what should happen in any ordered society as it is an obligation of the Government of that country to eliminate terrorism so that people can live in peace. But in Sri Lanka what is inevitable in a civilized state will not necessarily take place. It is questionable if the MahindaR GOSL is equal to the task of undertaking a military action – surgical or not – so that terrorism is eliminated. The recent action in the East does not seem to have dented the capacity of the LTTE to continue with its terrorism and has not touched the heart of terrorism in Sri Lanka. Nor has it been militarily appropriate. But this is not the aspect that Senewiratne has picked on.

Senewiratne's cheap trick is imply that Rowan had taken all Tamils to be terrorists. When he implied that Government military action should target terrorists he was right, and this is what GOSL has been trying to do. But it is a fact of contemporary warfare that there is no military action that will not result in some civilian casualties. Archbishop Rowan is well aware of this from the recent experience of America and Britain in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military action there has resulted in tens of thousands of civilians being killed (compared to the dozens killed in SL). In World War II many millions of civilians were killed (e.g. in Dresden or Hiroshima). It is foolish to suggest that fascism and terrorism should be allowed to succeed simply because there are some civilian casualties. Such casualties have to be attributed to the party that stated the military conflict and in Sri Lanka it was clearly the LTTE. In SL most of the civilian casualties have been done by the terrorists but of course some civilians would have been killed by Government military action as well, especially where the terrorists have used them as human shields. Senewiratne's bias is evident as he has not once mentioned any of the many terrorist outrages where the LTTE has deliberately – not accidentally – targeted civilians.

Many Tamils have moved to the South and live amongst the Sinhalese without discrimination. But even there Tamil terrorists have killed many of them, especially their leaders. Almost the entire original leadership of the TULF, a non-terrorist Tamil party, had been liquidated by LTTE assassins. In the North where the terrorists have unfettered control – mainly due to the sanctuary given by the CFA agreed to by the Chandrika and Rajapakse administrations – many Tamil children are conscripted to the their armed groups by the terrorists. While many humanitarian groups are concerned with this violation of the human rights Senewiratne, posing as a champion of human rights of Tamils, is completely silent on this.

Another fact that Senewiratne does not mention is that there are many Tamil terrorist groups killing each other (as well as Sinhalese and Muslims). Thus most of the Tamils killed are the work of these rival Tamil terrorist groups. The split in the LTTE and the emergence of the Karuna group (TVMP) greatly increased the rate of Tamil disappearances and killings. Senewiratne simply attributes any disappearance of a Tamil to GOSL whereas the real culprit may have been a rival Tamil terrorist group. He assumes that one "para-military Tamil terrorist group" is allied to GOSL forces. This is purely a conjecture on his part. Both leading Tamil terrorist groups are the supporters of Tamil Eelaam. Besides Senewiratne does not ask for the demilitarization of the largest para-military force the LTTE. This shows clearly where his sympathies lie.

A particular example that Senewiratne quotes is the shooting of Joseph Pararajasingham MP for Batticaloa in 2005. This was done by the Tamil terrorist groups who was opposed to the terrorist group that this Tamil MP supported. Senewiratne tries to imply that this shooting was the work of GOSL. In fact this MP was given all the privileges due to an MP even though he was a terrorist supporter.

To evoke Christian sympathy Senewiratne claims that GOSL forces have attacked Christian churches. The LTTE is large a Christian terrorist group and many Christian priests are active supporters. They allow their churches to be used as attack posts for the LTTE terrorists. In the course of action against these terrorists some churches may have been damaged. But the fault is clearly with the priests allowing their churches to be used by terrorists. The implication that GOSL is anti-Christian is completely wrong. The present President convened the Christian bishops to a meeting soon after he was elected to office and concluded a concordat with them according to which he is said to have agreed to many things including not supporting a Draft Bill in Parliament to outlaw unethical conversion. More recently he made a pilgrimage to the Vatican to see the Pope. The present regime is not anti-Christian as Senewiratne implies but is in fact pro-Christian. The leader of the Opposition is also a baptized Christian.

The letter to Archbishop Rowan carries all the hallmarks of Senewiratne's writing. He usually starts by stating that he is a Sinhalese. He seems to thinks that this give credibility for his pro-Tamil propaganda. But the fact is that there are plenty of Sinhalese who are in the service and the pay of the Tamil terrorists. In fact a particular Sinhala group called the Revolutionary Liberation Front has been trained by the LTTE at their camp in Elephant Pass for terrorist work in the South. Other Sinhalese have been bought over for espionage or propaganda. So Senewiratne calling himself a Sinhalese does not give him additional credibility. He normally conceals his Christian religion. This time he has openly declared it as he is writing to Archbishop Rowan Williams who heads his Church. As a Christian it is not surprising that he is sympathetic to his fellow Christians in the LTTE and the Christian priests who openly or tacitly support the separatists. It also explains his vehement antipathy to the Buddhist monks.

This letter has completely exposed the mendacious propaganda of this separatist sympathizer. I hope Archbishop Rowan Williams will dismiss this letter with the contempt it deserves.


From: Brian Senewiratne
To: Rt Rev Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
Date: 21 May 2007
Subject: Your recent comments on Sri Lanka

Dear Archbishop,

I am a Sinhalese from the majority community, not a member of the brutalised Tamil community in Sri Lanka. I am an Anglican Christian whose father's family were not only Christians but actually built Churches. I was educated in a British Christian missionary school, and later in Selwyn College, Cambridge - founded by Bishop Selwyn - where the emphasis is on theology, not medicine. In Sri Lanka, I have been invited to address the congregation in St Paul's Church, Kandy, and in the University campus church in Peradeniya (Kandy). I write all this to stress my commitment to the Church.

I quit Sri Lanka some 30 years ago and who runs that country, whether it be Rajapakse or anyone else, is of no concern to me as long as it is run without bloodshed, chaos and the extensive violation of human rights of its people. My concerns are humanitarian - as should be yours.

I refer to your recent visit to that war-torn country. There have been doubts expressed as to whether you actually made the remarks attributed to you. Some of the Christian clergy in Sri Lanka (and other apologists) have claimed that the media deliberately misreported what you said and gave it a pro-government twist. That is arrant nonsense since I actually heard what you said, and have a recording of it. Those who doubt me can still get on to the BBC website, and hear that shocking interview. ( I will be publishing my recording of what you said in the next DVD I release. The world must know where the Christian Establishment stands.

This is what you said: "It is undoubtedly inevitable that what you might call surgical military action against terrorism should take place".

Archbishop, are you implying that the Tamil and Muslim people in the North and East as 'terrorists', since they are the recipients of what you irresponsibly call "surgical military action"? Do you, as a human being, let alone a Church leader, think that this is "absolutely inevitable", and do you really think it " should take place?" If you do, it is, to put it mildly, disgraceful.

You owe the Tamil and Muslim people in the North and East an unqualified apology. They are being brutalised by the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and its Armed Forces, they do not need to be insulted too. They are sufficiently traumatised already. They are my people who happen to live in a different part of Sri Lanka, but are nonetheless also my people whom who have thought it fit to insult. I strongly object to this.

What your absolutely outrageous and inflammatory comments have done is to legitimise the brutality unleashed on the Tamil civilian population (many of them Christians), by the Sinhalese-dominated Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) and its barbaric Armed Forces.

US lawyer Karen Parker, who is not even a Sri Lankan but whose commitment to the Tamil struggle against tyranny and oppression I am well aware of, has already put you straight on what is, and what is not, terrorism. I cannot add to, or improve on, what she has said.

There are numerous articles on the net written by me, and DVDs also produced by me (which are being delivered to your office), to document the atrocities committed by the Sinhalese State, especially after Mahinda Rajapakse became President. These include the targetted bombing of the Sencholai orphanage with some 400 Tamil children, the bombing and shelling of Christian churches in the North, the destruction of Christian Churches in the South, the mass slaughter of thousands of Tamil civilians, many of them members of the Christian community, the bombing of thousands of Tamil homes, businesses, schools with students inside, hospitals with patients inside, markets, and entire fishing villages. The World Food Program has just stated that there are more than 400,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) and conflict-affected people are now in need of emergency food and relief assistance in the conflict-affected areas in the north and east. In addition, more than 2,000 Hindu temples (Kovils) have been damaged or destroyed. This should be of concern to you in the "Interfaith role", which is part of the mandate of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

This outrage on the Tamil civilians, their lives and their property, and concerns even about their very survival - is this what you flippantly describe as " inevitable", "surgical military action", which "should take place". I regret having to say this, but you are getting into bed with one of the most brutal and murderous regimes ever to run Sri Lanka.

You make these irresponsible remarks at a time when the whole world has expressed serious concerns about the escalating human rights violations in Sri Lanka. These have been extensively documented by your own Nobel Laureate, Amnesty International, the US human rights group, Human Rights Watch , the UN Special Envoy Alan Rock, the International Commission of Jurists, and many other human rights groups.

You cannot be unaware that concerned parliamentarians in your own Parliament in Westminster have just formed a group, cutting across political boundaries, to see what they can do to achieve a just settlement to one of the longest and most destructive conflicts in South Asia. Why do you think the British Parliament has recently suspended some $3 million in debt-relief to the GOSL citing concerns about human rights abuses and the escalating military expenditure? I am glad that they do not think that what the GOSL is doing is " absolutely inevitable" and "surgical military action'" which " should take place".

A press release states that prior to leaving London, you were briefed by a wide selection of people. Either they did not know what they were talking about, or were picked because of their support for what the Government of Sri Lanka is doing to its Tamil people. In either case, it is a bad reflection on Lambeth Palace.

What your irresponsible comments have done are to :-

  1. Encourage even greater violation of human rights of the Tamil civilian population by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces.
  2. Give invaluable support to Sinhalese ethno-religious chauvinists who are determined to make multi-ethnic, multireligious, multilingual and multicultural Sri Lanka into a Sinhala-Buddhist nation. Today, these extremist elements in Colombo are celebrating your comment - an indication of the damage that has been done by a flippant remark.
  3. Strengthen the stance of President Rajapakse and his brothers to establish a fascist dictatorship and embark on a genocidal massacre of the Tamils in the North and East. The photograph of Rajapakse greeting you has been circulated all over the world, enhancing his flagging international image and decreasing yours.
  4. Make Tamil civilians in the North and East, who are being brutalised by the current murderous regime, feel that their suffering is of no concern to you, and that what is being done to them is inevitable 'surgical military action" which "should take place"..

Your highly damaging comments take no cognisance of the fact that

  1. The Armed Forces have bombed, shelled or damaged scores of Christian Churches in the North and East.
  2. Christian priests have been abducted and killed in the North and East.
  3. Hundreds of terrified civilians, who had taken refuge in several Churches, have been killed by bombs, shells and grenades being dropped on these Churches. Those taking refuge were not what you glibly call "terrorists".
  4. Orphanages, refugee camps, entire villages, schools and hospitals in the Tamil areas have been bombed and shelled.
  5. Tamil civilians, by the hundred, in the North and East have been arbitrarily executed without charge or trial. Hundreds of others have 'disappeared', some of whose bodies, with evidence of extensive torture, have been recovered
  6. Tamil members of Parliament have been executed. I refer in particular, to Joseph Pararajasingham MP for Batticaloa who was gunned down in Church in front of the Bishop of Trincomalee and Batticaloa on Christmas Day 2005.
  7. Tamil media people been harassed, arrested, detained without charge or trial, and some even murdered by Government Forces and Tamil paramilitaries working with them. Printing presses have been destroyed and equipment for printing blocked from reaching the Tamil area.
  8. Even Sinhalese journalists, peace activists, and members of civic society, who have questioned what is going on, have been locked up without charge or trial, and some have 'disappeared'.
  9. Churches and Christian clergy in the Sinhalese South have been destroyed by Sinhalese hoodlums. In at least some of these incidents, Buddhist clergy have been involved. "Sri Lankan Christians" , a group of concerned Christians from a variety of ethnic traditions and diverse denominations, have extensive documentation on their website

Reading the Bible

[The section which is a long lecture to Archbishop Rowan on how to read the Bible has been deleted as it is not relevant to the political matters considered here. It is simply an attempt by a black Christian to preach to a white Christian when the black Christian (or his ancestor) was converted by a white missionary!]

Yours faithfully
Brian Senewiratne