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Nov-11-2011 15:33printcommentsVideo

Ode to a Humble Hero of Sri Lanka: Dr Brian Senewiratne

We all can learn from men like Dr Brian Senewiratne. It doesn't have to be about the past and what religion or culture a person is part of, it is simply about being enough of a human being to speak out and deliver the truth.

Dr Brian Senewiratne
Dr Brian Senewiratne Photo courtesy:

(SALEM) - Last week, we carried an amazing article by Dr Brian Senewiratne of Brisbane, Australia, a Sinhalese Sri Lankan, who may possess one of the most reasonable voices in this community when it comes to Lanka's history of ethnic cleansing. I was honored that this dignified humanitarian dispatched the story to our newsroom. Dr. Senewiratne does not hesitate to assess responsibility for the 2009 Genocide of Tamil people by the government of Majinda Rajapaksa.

His life and position are a portrait of and a lesson in, humility. He feels compelled to speak in bluntly honest terms about the loss that goes well beyond the uncountable number of deaths, and right to the island nation's soul.

A relative of outspoken former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, the 4th Executive president of Sri Lanka, he recalls the news of how her children reacted to the Channel 4 documentary Sri Lanka's Killing Fields.

The doctor says he feels a huge load on his back - "coming from one of the dreadful families that has taken Sri Lanka down the slide to the gutter where it currently is. As my cousin’s son told his mother (Chandrika), after watching the Ch 4 video, 'I am ashamed to be called a Sinhalese'."

But the words of Dr Brian Senewiratne are what everyone must hear; his voice may be well known but it isn't unique, in that many Sinhalese agree fully, and do not make excuses, or justify crimes of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA), in order to preserve the appearance of their government.

The long and winding road that Rajapaksa chose for this country, one that relies on things like tourism, only seems to become steeper and more slippery as time marches on.

Outright denials gave way to admissions that soldiers were out of line in some cases, then the administration led by Rajapaksa and his brothers became even less determined and

Artwork by Carlos Latuff, friend of
in Rio de Janeiro. Visit: Latuff Gallery to see far more.

boisterous in their claims that Channel 4 was 'faking it', when layer upon layer of evidence was laid down, and then the Jon Snow documentary aired and all progress the government had made in denying and deflecting the serious war crime charges seemed to weaken substantially.

Dr Brian Senewiratne's courage is surpassed by his humanity and simple desire to see Sri Lanka exist as a cohesive country without state terrorism and mass murder of its own citizens. He recalled an event that stands out perpetually in his mind.

"A real ‘Gem’ if ever there one, was Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe who said, after the 1983 massacre, “Until we (the Sinhalese, apologise to the Tamil people, there will be no peace in Sri Lanka”

Bishop Lakshman went to Jaffna and visited a refugee camp there and went ‘missing’ He was found in a room crying. When asked why, he said “Just to relaise that it was members of my family who were responsible”(he was a relative of JR Jayawardene) That’s the same with me. it is an undeniable fact that it was members of my family who were responsible for something that Rajapaksa merely took it to completion.

The real toll of the Tamil Genocide in Sri Lanka will never be known. Two of the largest reasons for that are a destruction of records, and the elimination of journalists who were willing to report the truth. They silenced the messengers.

From: Usha Sriskandarajah, Canada, 23 May 2006

An Ode to Dr Brian Senewiratne

Dear Dr Senewiratne

How can anyone stand these images? Rajapaksa's govt.
insisted they were all fake... as long as they could.

We hail you
As the voice of reason of the Sinhalese
May your tribe increase
And become the driving force
To bring real unity to the island of Sri Lanka

May your kinsmen heed your call
To bring Peace and Prosperity
Security and Safety
Equity and Equality
To all the people of the island
Sinhalese Tamil Muslim and Burgher

In your quest for Justice and Fairness
May not your critics stop you
For alas!
They do not understand the wisdom of your words
They may rant and rave
And call you names
For all they want is supremacy
Not equality

Military and civilian deaths- rampant during the Tamil Genocide.

We laud you for your courage
And for your futuristic vision
You’re not a traitor
For you love your people too much
And they must know
It’s the racists and the religious extremists
Who send Sri Lanka
To the age of savagery and destruction

If people see
That all you want
Is for the Pearl of the Indian Ocean
To regain its luster and beauty
And that freedom for the Tamil speaking
People of the NorthEast
To determine their own destiny
Does not mean doom for the Sinhalese

But rather the advent
Of a bright new horizon
Of hope and glory
Of progress and dynamism
For they would be free
Free from the shackles

From: 'Depression' - Graphic Truth of Sri Lanka Tamil Genocide

Of enmity and intolerance
Of those who spread hate
And those who cannot lead

What’s required
Are statesmen
Of the highest caliber
And of spiritual wisdom
Who are willing and able
Without procrastination
To accept the offer
Of peace and friendship
By Leader Velupillai Pirapaharan
Based on equality of status
And self determination

For both the Tamil speaking people
And the Sinhalese people
Muslim Christian Hindu and Buddhist

Free at last the people would be
Free to pursue their dreams in peace
Free to realize their full potential
Free truly to determine their destiny
And reap the rewards of freedom for all
With dignity and mutual respect
And you Sir shall become
The true emancipator of the people
And be honored as a hero
For your daring and foresight

While he never struck out at Tamils personally, Brian says it is an undeniable fact that members of his family were responsible for something that Rajapaksa merely took to completion. "That said, I am deeply touched by your description of me which I certainly don’t deserve".

As I said, his life is a portrait of humility. We all can learn from men like Dr Brian Senewiratne. It doesn't have to be about the past and what religion or culture a person is part of, it is simply about being enough of a human being to speak out and deliver the truth.

Tim King: Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 91 writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address:

Comments Leave a comment on this story.

All comments and messages are approved by people and self promotional links or unacceptable comments are denied.

Mario April 7, 2013 10:48 am (Pacific time)

Looks gorgeous, Tigress! We are getnitg slammed with a blizzard any moment now, so enjoy sunny, warm Sri Lanka and have a fab holiday. Merry merry!

george November 23, 2012 7:31 am (Pacific time)

Hikz the comment went through but instead of harping about a past pictures and issues why not talk about the ones posted here? What you talk about is a simple mistake whether or not it was actually east timor you don't say but to meit does seem like sri lanka. your comment is useless. carlo - yes there are worse photos. harping on both sides means nothing gets done because sri lanka does not want to do anything constructive and it will not. Both sides means nothing now. what would you think he should have written or should think?

Hikz November 11, 2011 10:22 pm (Pacific time)

Salem "News" Tamil Tiger propaganda is amusingly bad- still trying to pass off any old photo as evidence of a 'Tamil genocide'.

At least this time you remembered to change the file name instead of trying to say a photo named "east_timor_invasion.jpg" is actually from Sri Lanka - oh boy was that embarrassing.

Here Tim, in case you want to cover your tracks:

Let's see if this comment makes it through.

Carlo November 12, 2011 11:04 am (Pacific time)

There are far worse photos you could have dug up that depict the violence perpetrated by both sides during the AriLankan conflict. You are being taken for a ride by just one side my friend.

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