Teaching Tamil Tigers

Asoka Girihagama
Med J Aust 2008; 188 (9): 544. || doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2008.tb01774.x
Published online: 5 May 2008

To the Editor: In his article “Teaching Tamil Tigers”,1 Whitehall gives the grossly false impression that the Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority are fighting with each other in Sri Lanka. It is not a conflict between Tamil and Sinhalese communities, but a terrorist issue. The terrorist organisation that calls itself the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is fighting the elected government of Sri Lanka in an attempt to carve out a separate monoethnic state in areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka. The LTTE’s terrorist approach is denounced by most of the democracies of the world.

The LTTE claim that the Tamils in Sri Lanka are discriminated against by the majority Sinhalese. This claim is contradicted by the fact that the 54% of Tamils who live in the southern part of Sri Lanka live in harmony with the Sinhala and Muslim communities. In the south, Tamil businessmen perform better than their Sinhala counterparts in Colombo; Tamil students continue their university studies undisturbed; and the Tamil language is treated as one of the official languages, on a par with the Sinhalese language. These are facts publicly available for all.

Whitehall claimed that “the conduct and cost of the conflict is obscured by suppression of the press on the government side and lack of access of the press to the other” — an unfounded statement that is deliberately crafted to tarnish the image of the Sri Lankan Government. Perhaps Whitehall is unaware of the numerous newspapers and other publications available in Sri Lanka that openly criticise the government and its conduct, and of the many international journalists and press organisations that report on the current situation in Sri Lanka on a daily basis to the rest of the world without any hindrance.

Whitehall referred to Kilinochchi as the administrative centre of the “Tamil” land. He appears ignorant of the fact that there are no separate lands for Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities on the island. There is only one territory in Sri Lanka, and that territory belongs to all its people.

Whitehall describes the poor conditions at Kilinochchi Hospital. Kilinochchi was predominantly controlled by the LTTE terrorists, against whom the government forces are fighting to liberate the civilians. The LTTE requisitions whatever provisions are sent to the region by the government and utilises them for their cadres. Unfortunately, the outside world seems unaware of this situation.

Perhaps Whitehall’s opinion would be different if he was aware that the LTTE has been proscribed in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union and India because of its atrocities against innocent civilians, politicians and moderate Tamils who disagree with the LTTE philosophy, and because of the assassinations of the former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the former Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa. The former Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, Lakshman Kadirgamar, an ethnic Tamil, was also assassinated by the LTTE.

Terrorism should be condemned wherever and whenever it manifests. The Sri Lankan Government is democratically elected and reserves the right to protect its citizens and the sovereignty and integrity of the state against a terrorist organisation. While using military forces to eliminate terrorism on its soil, the government of Sri Lanka is continuing its efforts to find a lasting solution to the conflict.

  • Asoka Girihagama

  • High Commission of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Canberra, ACT.


  • 1. Whitehall JS. Teaching Tamil Tigers. Med J Aust 2007; 187: 703-705. <MJA full text>


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