Colombo attempts to resurrect bogey of suicide terror

Palitha Kohona, Sri Lanka’s Permanent Representative to the UN, and the International Center for the Study of Terrorism at Penn State University co-sponsored "a dialogue" Friday on suicide bombers in New York, and how the Government of Sri Lanka eliminated the menace and successfully prosecuted the war on terror, sources attending the event told TamilNet. The belated attempt to rekindle the "suicide terror" factor, four years after the Mu’l’livaaykaal massacre and the death of LTTE leadership, was a desperate diversionary measure to shift the increasing focus from Sri Lanka’s human rights violations and alleged complicity in mass atrocities, Tamil circles commented.

The event labeled "Dying to kill: the allure of female suicide bombers," with the use of a plagiarized title, and included a group of academics and authors of articles on "suicide terrorism" according to the attendees.

"Sri Lanka appears very eager to identify an issue that will force the active Tamil diaspora on the defensive mode, but has clearly chosen an ill-conceived topic. The publicity glow on suicide-terrorism has diminished, and its shock value has waned dramatically," Tamil activists in New York commented.

A CCTV video of the attempt by a female cadre to kill the leader of a paramilitary group and a minister in the ruling government of Rajapakse, Mr Douglas Devananda, was screened at the event.

Ms Rosemarie Skaine, author of Suicide warfare culture, discussed how government policies drive violence leading to formation of suicide phenomenon. Skaine added when Sri Lanka changed its constitution in 1972 and implemented the Prevention of Terrorism Act [PTA], the Tamils began arming themselves.

Mr Kohona expressed his disagreement with this premise, according to attendees.

PDF: Goodwin article in Marie Claire magazine

Ms Skaine, also drew heavily from the article by Jan Goodwin in the Marie Claire Magazine.

Two field researchers who have worked on suicide phenomenon provided regional overviews on the topic.

Dr. Mia Bloom, author of Bombshell: women and terror, currently attached to Penn State University, discussed the changing nature of women’s involvement in armed movements looking at both secular groups and religiously inspired groups.

While Kohona claimed that the 2009 campaign was a complete success, Bloom referred to May 2009 as indiscriminate collective punishment and aerial bombardment resulting in tens of thousands of civilian deaths.

Farhana Qazi, author of the forthcoming book, From mothers to martyrs, discussed how and why women joined radical groups in Kashmir, and argued that most Kashmiris want Independence.

Lorenzo Omo Aligbe discussed the rise of Boko Haram in Nigeria. Peter Smith from Australia and Dr Manju Varma of Punjab university also participated.

While the focus of the international community on Sri Lanka has shifted from "war on terror" and "suicide bombings" to accountability to killing of tens of thousands of civilians by the Sri Lankan state, the event is unlikely to provide any propaganda mileage to Colombo, and would end up as an unwitting and costly exercise to fly academics from around the world to flog a dead horse, Tamil political observers commented.

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