Video: A moderate Sri Lankan Tamil speaks. Hear Ye! Hear Ye!

Lenin Benedict, with the Canadian Democratic Tamil Cultural Association, talks about how he went to Canada from Sri Lanka for a more peaceful life, and how much he's learned from being there.



Lenin Benedict appears here with Ms. Nancy Wilson of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, on 17 April 2009.



Lenin Benedict was also featured on the Micheal Coren Show.



Lenin Benedict has been called all kinds of names by Tamils who are sympathetic to the Tamil Tigers (LTTE).

They call him a traitor, a Sinhalese c**k sucker, and Rajpakse's b**ch amongst other things.

What garlic is to Vampires, Lenin Benedict is to some Tamils.

Just 24 months ago Lenin would not have dared voice his views this openly. With the fall of the Tamil Tigers moderate voices from within the Tamil community appear to become louder.

The Tamil Tigers silenced all moderates who presented an opposing view.

According to the Tigers, they could not live with the Sinhalese. Only Eelam would bring them independence. Prabhakaran was their only undisputed leader. Any Tamil who is courageous enough to oppose that view becomes a traitor.

So they hurl abuse at him.

Neelan Tiruchelvam wasn't as lucky as Benedict. After months of public insults he was killed.

National Post


Tiruchelvam was a Sri Lankan Tamil, but not the kind that makes excuses for terrorism, or for the nihilistic death cult led by Tigers chief Velupillai Pirapaharan. Instead, he sought to bring justice and self-determination for Sri Lanka's Tamil minority through negotiation and constitutional reform. In Sri Lanka, he was an elected parliamentarian and the founder of two major think tanks. In the United States, he taught at Harvard University, enlightening Western students about human-rights abuses committed in Sri Lanka - by the nation's military and the Tigers alike.

He was a moderate, in other words - the Tamils' answer to Yitzhak Rabin or Nelson Mandela. And that's why he was assassinated: The Tigers despise any Tamil who does not share their commitment to war and terrorism. Tiger propaganda - including the terrorist group's own "poet laureate" - spent years vilifying Tiruchelvam as a traitor prior to his assassination. Muzhakkam, a Tiger-controlled newspaper here in Canada joined in the campaign.

The act serves as a grim metaphor for the war itself. Much as many Tamil-Canadians claim that the Sri Lankan government is engineering a "genocide," the greatest threat to the country's Tamils has been their professed protectors.


Lakshman Kadirgamar too suffered the same fate.

The Independent
Lakshman Kadirgamar was born in Jaffna in 1932. A Tamil and a Christian, he came to be regarded as a renegade by the zealots of the LTTE who now control the town of his birth, but he pointed out, with impeccable logic, that the Tamils are not arranged tidily, but are intermingled with Sinhalese, Muslims and others on the map of Sri Lanka - so the attempt to set up a separatist state by force is a threat to them as much as to the other communities.

In speech after speech, he emphasized the need to maintain civil liberties while also acting decisively; the importance of understanding the political context in which terrorism arises; and the need to focus on the wrongfulness of terrorist acts. As he put it, with characteristic clarity:

Terrorism is a method - a particularly heinous one - rather than a set of adversaries or the causes they pursue. Terrorism is a problem of what people (or groups or states) do, rather than who they are or what they are trying to achieve.

As a young man growing up in post-independence Sri Lanka, he excelled at cricket, rugby and athletics. Coming to Balliol College, Oxford for graduate studies in law, he became President of the Oxford Union in 1959, and obtained a BLitt in 1960 for a thesis on "Strict Liability in English and Roman-Dutch Law". In 2004 his connection with Oxford was renewed when he was elected an Honorary Fellow of Balliol, and earlier this year he spoke at the Oxford Union with characteristic elegance at the unveiling of a portrait showing him addressing that equally significant debating chamber, the UN General Assembly, which he did at least eight times.

In his long and distinguished legal career, he became a noted expert on intellectual property law, and for 12 years (1976-88) worked in Geneva in senior positions in the World Intellectual Property Organization. His most notable achievement as a lawyer, however, is much less well known. When in 1963 he was asked to investigate the treatment of Buddhists in South Vietnam, he became the first person to conduct a formal investigation in a country on behalf of Amnesty International. His report, which I obtained from him at the time, was unashamedly sympathetic to the Buddhists: "I feel that the memory of their achievements cannot be allowed to fade without it being brought to the notice of the world that men of such calibre and integrity are still amongst us." Over 40 years later, the same might well be said about him.

Related:
Moderate Sri Lankan Tamils have no representation in the international media

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