(Also published in The Nation 18 December 2011 and The Sunday Leader 18 December 2011 and in LankaWeb)
Darshanie Ratnawalli MONDAY, DECEMBER 12, 2011
From 2009 to 2011 consistently, faithfully and in a variety of digital media which can be easily retrieved Niromi de Soyza has been making the same fundamental and monumental slip, which doesn’t bode at all well for the authenticity of her memoir ‘Tamil Tigress’.
Duped either by his willingness to be duped or through inadequate attention to what has been written on the subject, D. B. S Jeyaraj wrote this delectably provoking passage in his From Shenuka to Niromi: True tale of a ‘Tamil Tigress’,
“Moreover the charges themselves do not seem to be grounded on sound basis. Mistaking is not faking. Blunders and errors of minor detail are signs of sloppiness not fraudulence. The discrepancies and doubts pointed out do not in anyway affect the structure and content of her book. They are not basic or fundamental mistakes that drastically alter the scope and scale of what has been stated.”
Such real or affected innocence just cried out to be deflowered and I responded to that urge and sent him the following comment. All very respectful, solid and even stolid. It was sort of an experiment to find out how DBSJ would defend the indefensible. I have the answer now. He is too shrewd to try. What can’t be defended and explained away should be covered up. The comment never appeared there but here it is.
Dear Sir, allow me to express my surprise that an eminent, investigative and analytical journalist such as you has missed the most fundamental error of them all. It’s a fighter’s tale sir and what is the most fundamental pillar of any fighter’s tale? The identity of the fighter’s adversaries. If you had really done justice to your journalistic eminence and conscientiously read the material produced by Niromi’s critics you would have spotted this fundamental error. From 2009 onwards even before Niromi de Soyza got her book published, she has been consistently displaying her ignorance of who she fought during her fighting tenure. Maybe it’s just ignorance born out of not having fought or even being in the country during the relevant period. Maybe it’s the intention to mislead a non-cognoscenti Western audience, which again points to ignorance and unfamiliarity with context. With familiarity would have come the realization that the lies distort the very bedrock of the late 80s post IPKF reality and she could not get away with them even given a non research oriented Western media corps. Whatever it is sir, here are the lies with the relevant links for your journalistic perusal.
“Two days before Christmas in 1987, at the age of 17, Niromi de Soyza found herself in an ambush as part of a small platoon of militant Tamil Tigers fighting government forces in the bloody civil war that was to engulf Sri Lanka for decades…”
-Blurb Tamil Tigress- (2011)
“…when I joined, the Indian forces had arrived and the tigers had chosen to fight the Indian forces as well as the Sri Lankan forces”
-Niromi’s Margaret Throsby Interview- Thursday 21 July 2011 (between 18.45 and 19.02)-
“The war resumed, just as Prabhakaran had predicted, though now we were fighting not only the government troops but the peacekeepers, too.”
-The Telegraph. Life as a female Tamil Tiger guerilla relived by one of first female soldiers (by Niromi published in 2009 May)-
"She cries for reasons as complex and tragic as the conflict itself, even though it has been more than two decades since the former rebel put down her gun and fled the violence she'd become a part of, unable to deal any longer with the brutality of her fellow Tigers or the viciousness of the Sri Lankan armed forces."
-Tigress interrupted. By Nikki Barrowclough 09/07/2011 covering her interview with Niromi-
“She maintains that while she was involved in some combat, the very nature of guerilla warfare meant that most of her time with the Tigers was spent running and hiding from government soldiers.”
Now let me roll out that old saw. “You can fool all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time.”