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'Taste of Humbug, Risk of Danger'

June 20, 1987

For the first time, a foreign journalist has focused on the fear of extinction in the Sinhalese without also pooh-poohing that fear.

In every century, the Sinhalese have had to struggle against Indian and other foreign aggressors to retain their ethnic identity. That, as the Sinhalese say, is their karma.

I am not a Sinhalese, but I am married to one and have encountered the anguish of that karma: "Will we one day, like some extinct animals, be reduced to mere pictures in National Geographic?"

In the context of the current conflict in Sri Lanka, Johnson's article is 6,000 lives and 250,000 refugees too late. But it is reassuring that in addition to the worries over the bald eagle and the condor someone out there is showing some concern over the future of a 3,000-year-old civilization.

HASSINA LEELARATHNA

Los Angeles

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