MIA Drops the G Word

MIA on the Tavis Smiley show

MIA on the Tavis Smiley show

In an interview on the Tavis Smiley show, British born musician MIA likened the Sri Lanka government’s targeting of its Tamil minority to be genocide. She said:

there’s been a systematic genocide which has quiet thing because no one knows where Sri Lanka is. And now it’s just escalated to the point there’s 350,000 people who are stuck in a battle zone and can’t get out, and aid’s banned and humanitarian organizations are banned, journalists are banned from telling the story.

In the interview, MIA said that one of the reasons for the global inaction on Sri Lanka was the underreporting of the crisis in Sri Lanka, something the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon echoed comments as well.

MIA said:

You don’t know more about it because due to the propaganda — when you think Tamil, you automatically thing tiger, and that is completely disproportionate. So human beings around the world have to be taught to go Tamil equals Tamil civilians first, and the Tamil Tiger is a separate thing.

But in a story in the NY Times, published the day after MIA performed at the Grammy’s on her pregnancy due date, the Times raised questions that MIA might be a supporter of the Tamil Tigers. “Frankly, she’s very lucky to get away with supporting, even indirectly, perhaps the most ruthless terrorist outfit in the world,” the Times quoted a Sinhalese musician as saying. (The Sinhalese comprise the majority in Sri Lanka as well as the government; many alledge that Tamils–which comprise a minority of the population–have been targeted unfairly in lopsided violence and attacks.)

However in numerous interviews, MIA has denied her links to Tamil Tigers and decried the manner in which all Sri Lankan Tamils are accused of being Tiger supporters if they are critical of the Sinhalese government.

But despite efforts to accuse her of being a terrorist sympathizer, MIA continues to speak up against the violence that displaced her family and continues to displace so many others right now. She says,

…we’re managing to wipe out the whole Tamil population, the civilians, and that is why you don’t hear about it, because the propaganda in the media, because if you’re a terrorist organization, you don’t have the right to speak, that is passed on to the Tamil civilians. The Tamil civilians don’t have the right to speak or right to live, they don’t have any liberties.

So that’s been the key thing, that when you think al Qaeda, you’re not thinking Afghanistan. That if you want to go and fight and kill al Qaeda, then you can, but you can’t wipe out Afghanistan. And that’s what’s happening in Sri Lanka, and I think it’s really important for America to understand that, because they set the precedent on how you fight terrorism around the world.

And it’s really important that just that sort of throwaway comment, “Oh, Tamil, she must be a Tamil Tiger,” actually, the repercussions of that is killing people back home.

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17 thoughts on “MIA Drops the G Word

  1. Oscar and Grammy-nominated artist MIA has called the current crisis “genocide” as she attempts to channel attention to this often-ignored region; many people echo her claim. Others have adopted more extreme measures to call attention to the government’s attacks on Tamils, such as journalist K Muthukumar’s self immolation suicide in Tamil Nadu, India, which has experienced an uprising of support for the LTTE’s separate state of Tamil Eelam since the crisis’s recent escalation. In the United States, 8 students and young professionals pledged to fast 10,000 meals to bring attention and action to Sri Lanka – each meal representing 30 civilians endangered by the government’s offensive. Similarly, over the last couple weeks, hundreds of thousands of expatriate Tamils in Europe, Canada, Australia, and the US have led massive protests to “stop genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka”.

    These claims of genocide are not unfounded. Two weeks ago, the Genocide Intervention Network reported on the escalating situation in Sri Lanka. James Ross, legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch said, “This ‘war’ against civilians must stop. Sri Lankan forces are shelling hospitals and so-called safe zones and slaughtering the civilians there”. UN Spokesman James Elder said that the fighting has created a “nightmarish” situation for civilians.

    Over 300 civilians have been killed inside internationally-run hospital facilities and government-designated “safe zones”. A UN official recently revealed that there have been at least 11 Sri Lankan air strikes on or near hospitals inside LTTE areas between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15. Two weeks ago, artillery shells hit a hospital in Mullaithivu; this same hospital was cluster bombed three days later. Last Friday, the top health official in the conflict area said that about 40 civilians die daily as a result of the fighting. Last week, Sri Lankan artillery fire hit the new government-designated “safe zone” killing at least 108 civilians and wounding hundreds.

    Last week, Sri Lanka released plans to house hundreds of thousands of Tamil IDPs in barbed-wire “welfare camps”. Labour MEP Robert Evans, chairman of the European Parliament Delegation of Relations with South Asia commented saying “These are not welfare camps, they are prisoner-of-war cum concentration camps.” Human Rights Watch labeled the camps “detention centres” that violated UN guidelines on IDPs. Unfortunately, there is no way to monitor this humanitarian catastrophe.

    Earlier this year, Sri Lanka banned the UN and NGOs from the conflict zone, citing that they couldn’t guarantee their safety. Sri Lanka also has a history of intimidation of the media, such as when the Sri Lankan army threw a grenade at British journalist Marie Colvin, causing her to lose one of her eyes. Most recently, there was an uproar when a controversial journalist, Lasantha Wickramatunge was murdered. Following his death, his newspaper, The Sunday Leader published his final editorial, in which he predicted his assassination at the hands of the government. Two weeks ago, Reporters Without Borders called the killing of a Tamil journalist during an Army bombardment a “war crime”.

    Legal action is being taken-Last week, Bruce Fein, legal representative for Tamils Against Genocide delivered a 1000-page model 12-count genocide indictment against two top ranking Sri Lankan officials to US Attorney General Eric H. Holder, charging violations of the US Genocide Accountability Act of 2007. Last week, Secretary of State Clinton urged Sri Lanka and the LTTE to agree to a temporary “no-fire” period. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on Sri Lanka during which a former U.S. Ambassador, Human Rights Watch representative, and Committee to Protect Journalists all gave scathing remarks on the Sri Lankan government’s conduct of the war and its crimes against Tamils.

    Prem Jayanthan

    Outreach Director, People for Equality and Relief in Lanka

    Sri Lanka Coordinator, STAND

  2. Oscar and Grammy-nominated artist MIA has called the current crisis “genocide” as she attempts to channel attention to this often-ignored region; many people echo her claim. Others have adopted more extreme measures to call attention to the government’s attacks on Tamils, such as journalist K Muthukumar’s self immolation suicide in Tamil Nadu, India, which has experienced an uprising of support for the LTTE’s separate state of Tamil Eelam since the crisis’s recent escalation. In the United States, 8 students and young professionals pledged to fast 10,000 meals to bring attention and action to Sri Lanka – each meal representing 30 civilians endangered by the government’s offensive. Similarly, over the last couple weeks, hundreds of thousands of expatriate Tamils in Europe, Canada, Australia, and the US have led massive protests to “stop genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka”.

    These claims of genocide are not unfounded. Two weeks ago, the Genocide Intervention Network reported on the escalating situation in Sri Lanka. James Ross, legal and policy director at Human Rights Watch said, “This ‘war’ against civilians must stop. Sri Lankan forces are shelling hospitals and so-called safe zones and slaughtering the civilians there”. UN Spokesman James Elder said that the fighting has created a “nightmarish” situation for civilians.

    Over 300 civilians have been killed inside internationally-run hospital facilities and government-designated “safe zones”. A UN official recently revealed that there have been at least 11 Sri Lankan air strikes on or near hospitals inside LTTE areas between Dec. 15 and Jan. 15. Two weeks ago, artillery shells hit a hospital in Mullaithivu; this same hospital was cluster bombed three days later. Last Friday, the top health official in the conflict area said that about 40 civilians die daily as a result of the fighting. Last week, Sri Lankan artillery fire hit the new government-designated “safe zone” killing at least 108 civilians and wounding hundreds.

    Last week, Sri Lanka released plans to house hundreds of thousands of Tamil IDPs in barbed-wire “welfare camps”. Labour MEP Robert Evans, chairman of the European Parliament Delegation of Relations with South Asia commented saying “These are not welfare camps, they are prisoner-of-war cum concentration camps.” Human Rights Watch labeled the camps “detention centres” that violated UN guidelines on IDPs. Unfortunately, there is no way to monitor this humanitarian catastrophe.

    Earlier this year, Sri Lanka banned the UN and NGOs from the conflict zone, citing that they couldn’t guarantee their safety. Sri Lanka also has a history of intimidation of the media, such as when the Sri Lankan army threw a grenade at British journalist Marie Colvin, causing her to lose one of her eyes. Most recently, there was an uproar when a controversial journalist, Lasantha Wickramatunge was murdered. Following his death, his newspaper, The Sunday Leader published his final editorial, in which he predicted his assassination at the hands of the government. Two weeks ago, Reporters Without Borders called the killing of a Tamil journalist during an Army bombardment a “war crime”.

    Legal action is being taken-Last week, Bruce Fein, legal representative for Tamils Against Genocide delivered a 1000-page model 12-count genocide indictment against two top ranking Sri Lankan officials to US Attorney General Eric H. Holder, charging violations of the US Genocide Accountability Act of 2007. Last week, Secretary of State Clinton urged Sri Lanka and the LTTE to agree to a temporary “no-fire” period. Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations held a hearing on Sri Lanka during which a former U.S. Ambassador, Human Rights Watch representative, and Committee to Protect Journalists all gave scathing remarks on the Sri Lankan government’s conduct of the war and its crimes against Tamils.

    Prem Jayanthan

    Outreach Director, People for Equality and Relief in Lanka

    Sri Lanka Coordinator, STAND

  3. yeah, people really need to stfu and stop calling her a terrorist just because she's trying to call attention the situation her people are in right now. if they could see the terrible things happening in Sri Lanka to civilians because of BOTH sides, they'd sing a different tune. And the papers can rarely ever be trusted – journalists are afraid to speak out because the more daring ones Mysteriously dissappear or die excruciatingly painful deaths. I've seen this happen, I've lived there. Forget trying to decide which side is better. The government is absolutely pathetic – most Sri Lankan politicians are. The LTTE i don't know much about, but from what i've heard, they are corrupt as well. It's the people we should be worrying about.

  4. yeah, people really need to stfu and stop calling her a terrorist just because she’s trying to call attention the situation her people are in right now. if they could see the terrible things happening in Sri Lanka to civilians because of BOTH sides, they’d sing a different tune. And the papers can rarely ever be trusted – journalists are afraid to speak out because the more daring ones Mysteriously dissappear or die excruciatingly painful deaths. I’ve seen this happen, I’ve lived there. Forget trying to decide which side is better. The government is absolutely pathetic – most Sri Lankan politicians are. The LTTE i don’t know much about, but from what i’ve heard, they are corrupt as well. It’s the people we should be worrying about.

  5. Her father was a Tamil tiger leader.Thats exactly why she plays the same tune as the Tigers.

    As for Genocide..read this: http://www.mackenzieinstitute.com/2009/genocide-t

    Ask MIA what happened to the genocide now? The tamil tgiers were defeated and now she says the refugee camps are concentration camps..All sounds silly coming from someone who has never lived in Sri Lanka.

    Below is what a Sri Lanka blogger thinks of her.. http://bailaman.blogspot.com/2009/05/mia-maya-aru

  6. Her father was a Tamil tiger leader.Thats exactly why she plays the same tune as the Tigers.

    As for Genocide..read this: http://www.mackenzieinstitute.com/2009/genocide-t

    Ask MIA what happened to the genocide now? The tamil tgiers were defeated and now she says the refugee camps are concentration camps..All sounds silly coming from someone who has never lived in Sri Lanka.

    Below is what a Sri Lanka blogger thinks of her.. http://bailaman.blogspot.com/2009/05/mia-maya-aru

  7. Her father was a Tamil tiger leader.Thats exactly why she plays the same tune as the Tigers.

    As for Genocide..read this: http://www.mackenzieinstitute.com/2009/genocide-t

    Ask MIA what happened to the genocide now? The tamil tgiers were defeated and now she says the refugee camps are concentration camps..All sounds silly coming from someone who has never lived in Sri Lanka.

    Below is what a Sri Lanka blogger thinks of her.. http://bailaman.blogspot.com/2009/05/mia-maya-aru

  8. Her father was a Tamil tiger leader.Thats exactly why she plays the same tune as the Tigers.

    As for Genocide..read this:
    http://www.mackenzieinstitute.com/2009/genocide-talk020609.htm

    Ask MIA what happened to the genocide now? The tamil tgiers were defeated and now she says the refugee camps are concentration camps..All sounds silly coming from someone who has never lived in Sri Lanka.

    Below is what a Sri Lanka blogger thinks of her..
    http://bailaman.blogspot.com/2009/05/mia-maya-arulpragasam-has-lot-of.html

  9. Mary Mason said it best in – A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart till the day you die.

  10. Mary Mason said it best in – A baby is something you carry inside you for nine months, in your arms for three years and in your heart till the day you die.