Murali steps in where angels fear to tread
Muthaiyaa Muralidharan, Sri Lanka’s star cricketer, stepped into the Commonwealth political fray, as he commented on the conditions in the North that there is "1000% improvement in facilities," as the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) was in progress in Colombo. Muralidharan was responding to British Prime Minister David Cameron that Britain would call for an international independent inquiry through the U.N. if the Rajapakse regime fails to conduct an impartial inquiry before March into the war-crimes committed by its troops. Muralidharan, who was reported to have played cricket with Cameron said that the British Prime Minister had been "misled about the situation in the north of Sri Lanka," according to UK’s Guardian. Muralidharan is routinely used by Colombo as a propaganda symbol of a "race-blind Sri Lanka."
Muralidharan had praises for the Sri Lanka Army, and commented that the Northern Tamils are getting too much of attention.
The cricketer said: "My opinion is, there were problems in the last 30 years in those areas. Nobody could move there. In wartime I went with the UN, I saw the place, how it was.
"Cricket is the main game to narrow the bridge between the people. But facilities-wise, schools are built, roads are built. Businesses are started. So many things have happened. It is improving. Thanks to the Sri Lankan army, they are putting a lot of effort there.
"This country is 20-odd million people. In the north there are only one million people. They are getting more attention than the south at the moment," the cricketer said according to UK’s Mirror.
Tamil political observers noted the naivety of Muralidharan’s statement and commented, "the Cricketer appears ignorant of the fundamentals of Tamil struggle. The struggle is for justice and equality, and not for development and crumbs of handout by the State viewed as oppressive and genocidal by the majority of Tamils."
While Cameron’s visit to Jaffna was touted as the being the first visit by a foreign head of state to Jaffna, Rajapakse administration had prevented aggrieved Tamil families, who came in large numbers to protest the disappearance of family members, from meeting the British Prime Minister.
Channel-4, the British TV station which exposed the war-crimes in a series of video documentaries commented that "[t]he normally sedate event [CHOGM] has been shaken by the intensifying row over atrocities during the final months of the war and ongoing abuses ever since."