Sri Lanka's Secrets: How the Rajapaksa regime gets away with murder

Sometimes you come across a book that kicks so hard in the stomach that you simply become numb.

‘Sri Lanka’s Secrets’ is such a book.

Although travel agencies depict the tropical island country to be one of Asia's most exciting new destinations with wondrous secrets for visiting tourists to discover, this book is a different kind of eye opener.

Sri Lanka’s secrets solely refers to the systematic and unspeakable war crimes as well as the ongoing genocide committed by the current Rajapaksa regime towards its ethnic Tamil population.

These are horrible crimes that have been committed by an elected government. This leaves the reader totally perplexed and shocked as to why and how such serious crimes can be kept in the dark.

There is a saying that the murder of one person is a news story, but when thousands and thousands are butchered and there is no end to the butchery, a blanket of silence is spread. This is exactly what happens in Sri Lanka while the world is looking the other way and tourist agencies simply praise the island’s ‘wonderful beaches’ and ‘luxurious hotels.’

Through sobering photos and 15 well-documented chapters, Trevor Grant takes the reader through a typhoon of madness that is the only way to describe the recent history for Sri Lanka’s ethnic minority, the Eelam Tamils.

As you read through the chapters, one understands how war crimes and Genocidal plans were carefully designed and put into action - and also how this is possible today, less than 15 years after the UN gave it’s solemn ‘Never Again’ promise – with reference to Rwanda.

For nearly 3 decades, there was a civil war between the Sri Lankan government and theTamil Tigers (LTTE), firstly described as freedom fighters but later to be branded as a terrorist organization threatening the very existence of the unitary state structure in the island. The combat was an unequal one, for the Sinhalese with their numerical superiority was in possession of all political power and the exclusive control of the State. The Tamils had primarily the justice of their cause on their side and a formidable guerrilla force to sustain the struggle.

The government forces were operating within the framework of the global “war on terror” which also meant that evidence of LTTE actions towards the end of the war were tarred with the same brush as the government-directed bombing and shelling of tens of thousands of innocent civilians who were lured to their deaths by the promise of safety in a no fire zone. The qualitative distinction between the atrocities committed by the State and those committed by the LTTE were rarely drawn.

In this climate, it was seemingly easy for the Rajapakse regime to get away with mass murder. When crimes begin to pile up, they seem to become invisible and when sufferings become unendurable, the cries are no longer heard.

This is why Trevor Grant’s book is so important – and a must read for those who want to know how vulnerable a people and in particular minority groups can be.

Trevor Grants writes with extraordinary elegance and force when he takes the reader through the island’s recent colonial history until today through many excruciating accounts from surviving witnesses. These are stories and testimonies from those who basically try to survive within the country and from those who have fled through the open sea in small insecure vessels in an attempt to carve out a better future for themselves and their loved ones.

Once again the reader is left ashamed when realizing how the Western countries and Australia in particular systematically rejects people fleeing for their lives.

The UN High Commissioner Navi Pillay has stated that Rwanda’s: “Never Again” lessons were not implemented in Sri Lanka. Western countries seem to have forgotten their duty to protect and the demand for justice.

The only way this makes sense of this is by recognizing the complicity of the world’s superpower. Too many have blood on their hands: and this seems to explain why Sri Lanka is allowed to keep its secrets.

Trevor Grant shatters the glorified misconceptions and reminds us of the fact that what distinguishes genocide from other kinds of mass killings is the specific ‘intent’: The crime of “wanting” to make a people extinct. This idea itself is a crime.

And this is why genocide is the responsibility of the entire world. 


Beate Arnestad is an award winning Norwegian documentary filmmaker and journalist with over twenty years experience at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). Her films include, Where the Waves Sing (2002), My Daughter Terrorist (2007), Telling Truth in Arusha (2010) and Silenced Voices (2012).


varuna 24.10.2014 02:46
This is LTTE diaspora at work, Good work Beate Arnestad,you will be cursed by all peace loving people in Sri Lanka who opposed violence , Rajapaksha is not a saint he just ended a war, stopped bloodshed, sufferings. he should have handled ending the war with South African style such as by means of truth commission. But he opted Sri Lankan style as western and developed world (except Russia ) intimidated people of Sri Lanka in big way. People of Sri Lanka wanted to stop this war and Rajapaksha did it. Surprising entire world. Your politicians (Norwegian) used Sri Lankan bloodshed to gain victories in their election campaigns as they we were scoring on the votes of the LTTE supporters living in your country. One day You and your LTTE motivated cream of people will regret supporting turmoil in this country we live,but then it will be too late, by then the LTTE seed had become giant tree in your country affecting ever peaceful rights of native Norwegians. That day, remember the people of Sri Lanka will be there to help you. But you will be too old to understand what crimes you have done to your country by writing lies on Sri Lanka which would feed you today , may be few years but giving repercussions to your future generations. At that time global media will focus on Norway "what went wrong with Norway", That day i am sure your book will become a bible to find the way forward in combating terrorism. That day Rajapaksha will be in history. I am sure you all will warship him.
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Rhea 25.10.2014 02:07
Excellent work by Beate Arnestad Thank you.
A mass slaughter of Tamils has taken place in Sri Lanka the whole world knows it actually the World has been slow to react .Norway was asked to mediate by the panicking Chandirka government in 2002 after the Tamil Rebels captured Elephant Pass and the Airport Attack.The conflict has been since 1948 and the Civil War started in1983 .Norway has nothing to do with it and left after Sri Lanka asked it.USA,UK,EEC,C anada now criticizing Sri Lanka banned the LTTE and supported Sri Lanka as it was fighting an armed conflict through they had no problem there and supported Sri Lanka where as those supporting Sri Lanka today did not ban the LTTE.
Even thousands of Sinhalese were killed extra-juridical ly in the JVP uprising in 1987 to 1990 by the army ,Journalists have been killed with impunity including Lasantha Wickrematunge the Sunday Leader who even wrote a Posthumous Editorial knowing he would die.Please Norway or any other country has nothing with it 99% of the blame is on the Sri Lankans themselves.
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How 13.12.2014 01:38
How can Tamils be mass murdered when 40% of Colombo's population is tamil?
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Raja Perera 19.11.2014 00:57
Hitler couldn't escape for the Crime against Humanity. How come Mahinda Rajapaksa is shielding his crime against humanity. He and his brother(s) are still doing it, and having China and few other countries as friends to escape the genocide.
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SARA 04.12.2014 11:20
Where were the JDS pundits when LTTE carried out mass murders,genocid es of the eastern province in the 1990s and 2000s.
Why no one is speaking out those innocent people? because no one is paying you????
Who is campaigning against the people responsible for those crimes? who funded LTTE to kill innocent civilians while living comfortable lives in Canada and Europe.
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Shan 01.02.2015 02:09
This is one sided article. They alway project LTTE is godie guys. Im surprised why no one is taliking about LTTE atrocities, which was the real genocide killing hundreds of innocent people women and children
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Koshi 23.06.2015 05:36
when some one write something there should be proof to prove that. where is proof for this so called Sri Lankans are bad people. The thing Rajapaksha did was ending the brutal war. i dont talk politics but we have to give the credit to rajapaksha and other military leaders for ending the suffering as lots of people even tamils suffered from that merciless war.
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bimsara 08.10.2015 01:50
This was not a war against the tamil people. It was a war to free the tamil people who were under terrorists. In fact the tamil people lived and still live harmoniously with other communities during the war affected years in the areas not controlled by terrorists.

At last there is peace. All communities and religions have equal rights. In fact freedom is more than in the west. One can build a house to ones liking. Paint it the colour they want and express their ideas and dress the way they like. This is not so in the west.

Digging old wounds will just lead to trouble and disharmony. It is deplorable to make money out of peoples misery.
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