Colombo, Human Rights, Human Security, Peace and Conflict

I am an enemy of the State

The full title should have read, “I am an enemy of the State as defined by the Rajapaksa administration”. Truncation was not meant for sensational optics alone. The accusation is increasingly made by those in government that civil society and rights activists who question its bona fides are enemies of the State. Branded traitors and pariahs, activists have over the past year alone faced not just a hostile government, but an increasingly hostile public in the South, who starved of information in the public domain on the actions of this government that have seriously eroded the democratic fabric, do not understand why we stand in opposition to it. To be an enemy of the State is clearly not the easiest case to advocate. However, the more this government uses a regressive Chintanaya to define and control the limits of what we should believe and how we should think and act, the more vital it becomes to resist self-serving narratives and definitions that defy democracy, fundamental rights and constitutional governance.

“Terrorism anywhere is terrorism”, said our glib President recently. Unsurprisingly, he failed to go on to articulate his belief that human rights anywhere are human rights. That the timbre of democracy under his watch has deteriorated so dramatically in Sri Lanka, and continues to deteriorate briskly, significantly colours our appreciation of his sapient statement on terrorism. The question, larger than Sri Lanka, is to what extent, and how, a democratically elected government can address terrorism. That our President is inspired by the significantly flawed US war on terrorism is regrettable, but enlightening. Both incumbents holding the office of President articulate a process to address terrorism using a simplistic binary language – Us vs. Them, Good vs. Evil, Patriots vs. Traitors, Al Qaeda vs. Freedom, LTTE vs. the common man. Both incumbents believe that eradicating terrorism is quite simply linked to the killing of all known terrorists – kill the head, and the serpent dies. Both incumbents deride any suggestion that terrorism is an out-growth of fermented grievances, oftentimes given rise to by the actions of successive predecessors and their parochial interests whilst in power. Finally, both are passionate advocates of war. Justice, peace and human rights can, they believe, only blossom once terrorists are ultimately silenced by the only language they (are perceived to) understand – violence.

Tragically, this is a diminished humanity. For both Rajapaksa and Bush, addressing terrorism is informed by a particular religious dogma and in the case of Rajapaksa, also an ethno-political foundation that denies legitimacy to anyone who is seen to be opposed to, or outside of, the established, majoritarian canon. In Sri Lanka, Rajapaksa’s soi-disant war on terror cannot be questioned or held up to public scrutiny and critique. To do so is to vitiate the self-proclaimed legitimacy of the entire exercise, clearly untenable to those in power. Accordingly, for most of us interested in peace with justice and founded on the recognition of the rights of all citizens, to openly question whether Rajapaksa’s war contributes to either is to open the sluice-gates of vicious diatribes and the very real threat of violence against oneself, from the highest levels of government to fellow citizens in the South who remain beguiled by the propaganda this Government doles out in a surprisingly sophisticated manner. Chris Hedges’s in War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning writes of a polity and society defined and sustained by war and that without war, loses its identity and raison d’etre. The Rajapaksa administration is a chillingly real expression of Hedge’s thesis. Without war, the obscenity of corruption, nepotism and the gross economic mismanagement of this government would be exposed in an instant. War fuels the willing suspension of disbelief necessary to countenance so much of what is terribly wrong in Sri Lanka today by citizens keen to be seen as patriotic and in support of any means deemed necessary to eradicate the LTTE.

As Editor of Groundviews (www.groundviews.lk) – an on-going experiment in online journalism – I am often asked why I am not more trenchant in my criticism of the LTTE and why I don’t think this war, bloody and messy though it may be, is a lesser evil than the LTTE and the best option for peace. Firstly, I am mindful that this government is increasingly becoming and promoting the very terror it is fighting against. We have today an elected government that incites hatred, threatens free media and is viciously opposed to the articulation of viewpoints contrary to its beliefs and actions – openly and with total impunity. The argument of the “lesser evil” is contextual and time-bound. The basis for the comparison today is the LTTE – an organisation not known for its adherence to human rights, or basic principles of humanity. Disturbingly, by defining its behaviour against the LTTE, this government craftily carves out a space with plenty of scope for the use of violence to further its own ends. In a simple yet compelling argument expressed through State owned vernacular media (the English face of this Government is markedly more civil) this Government promotes war as just, conducted fairly and with guaranteed success against the terrorists. Alternative narratives are simply not tolerated.

It is here that “war as the best option for peace” argument breaks down. Blair’s legacy may be peace and political cohabitation between former combatants in Northern Ireland. Bush seems to be trying hard to leave behind Israel – Palestinian relations qualitatively stronger than when he took up office. Rajapaksa does not show any demonstrable capacity for a similar legacy. History already records the ignoble constitutional proposals of his government that ridicules even the lowest expectations of his closest allies amongst Tamil political parties in parliament. In constricting vital public dialogue, within communities and between citizens and government on why war is necessary, what it’s human cost is, what its financial implications for future generations are and how it is being fought and what avenues always exist for strengthening a peace process, this government shows as much an intolerance of democracy as does the LTTE. In spirit, there is in my mind no real difference anymore between the two fighting parties – they are both, in equal measure, reprehensible, illiberal and undemocratic. This is why we must be angrier with this government than with the LTTE – after all, the former is an elected servant of the public while the latter is not. Public legitimacy for this war is based on the ignorance of its real costs – political, social, financial. For sure, with its single-minded, tenacious pursuit of victory and an LTTE that’s looking increasingly fragile and cornered, this government may well bring about a significant revision in militant Tamil separatism.

The real danger is that Tamil nationalism is also seen as terrorism, and dealt with accordingly. Legitimate Tamil grievances are not even acknowledged by this government. As articulated tellingly by Minister Champika Ranawaka recently, Sri Lanka is, essentially and overwhelmingly, Sinhala. Such a worldview resonates with that of the patron philosopher of the Nazi party, Carl Schmitt, who suggested that the State has one essential function: distinguishing friends from enemies. This friend-enemy dichotomy has two vital functions: friends make up the members of a national body (government) who in turn define what is and is not, while enemies are targeted for destruction in an effort to rid the State of their inconvenient truths. It was this pluralism that Schmitt blamed for the weakening of the German state in the 1930s. The Federal Idea to the SLFP today, what pluralism was to the Nazi’s in the 1930s.

We should simply cease to be timidly defensive about being branded as enemies of the State by those in the current administration. Silence is not an option, as it tacitly supports a Government morally, financially and intellectually bankrupt. To allow such a government to define who is and isn’t a patriot, what is and isn’t national security, and what should and should not be our approach to and understanding of violent conflict and its resolution, is manifestly untenable for all citizens interested in securing and strengthening democratic governance.

We have a clear responsibility, and that is to stem the deterioration of democracy in Sri Lanka. Clearly, the proliferation of patriots doesn’t seem to help much in this regard. Labelled as pariahs and traitors, peace activists today live in fear of their lives, but are the last bulwark against an increasingly despotic regime in the South. Quite simply, to be branded as an enemy of the State by this government must be seen as and taken to be a compliment.

I am Sinhala, Buddhist and proud of my Southern roots.

However, this government does not represent me and this war is not in my name.

This article was first published in the Daily Mirror of 23.5.2007.

  • jayanta wijeratne

    thank u for articulating the thoughts of many of the silent majority…..how can i send this via email to my friends???

  • Jayanta,

    You can either point them to http://www.groundviews.lk or directly to the article itself http://www.groundviews.org/2007/05/23/i-am-an-enemy-of-the-state

    And thank you. I myself remain suspicious of the term “silent majority” (who are they? where are they? How do we know they are a majority? And why, for pete’s sake, do they remain silent?!) but am glad you found this useful.

    Best,

    Sanjana

  • SJayewardene

    I too wonder about the ‘majority’; how many Sri Lankans feel the immediacy of the moral, intellectual & financial bankruptcy?
    And if we do… where’s our forum?

    sadly, the only forums I’ve found`to date are these isolated websites… accessed by a minute fraction of Sri Lankans!

  • naz

    well I am certainly glad that you are writing Sanjana and are able to so aptly express what a few of us think and feel, However what are we going to do about it? what can we do? why is the business community not “up in arms” ? I personally feel the average joe just does not give a F… as long as they are making money, they are fine. I feel guilty for having such views in company, I turn into a spoil sport, or no one likes being reminded. The people I can sit and discuss politics with, in my attempt to just try and understand it all, are all in their late 60’s and 70’s. I am desperate. not for me, but for my children. We really need to do something, the question is what and how?

  • SH

    I just think there are people out there. And I am shocked speaking to a number of Sri Lankans who are completely uninformed. What makes me even more shocked is how little effort it takes to convince them that what is happening is not right by showing them the facts.

    So its scary….there is a large mass that is uninformed and how it happened to a country that has boasted a high literacy rate compared to India for instance.

  • naz

    it’s the end of civil society as I know it.

  • M.Kumar

    My sincere thanks to Sanjana for articulating your views without inhibition or fear. I wish to state that there is a silent majority among the Tamil Diaspora in North America who totally reject LTTE’s dictatorial ways, racism, and gung-ho violence and rabble rhetoric.

    But then, the successive ruling elites in SL had disregarded and thwarted minority rights and denied their peaceful survival. The monstrous LTTE was created by Sinhala –Buddhist chauvinism and is nurtured by top-dog racist Tamil professionals in the US and the UK who had bid adieu to North-East long ago. A good % of their siblings and relatives are more comfortable with their salon-type celebrities and glitterati than Prabhakaran or Tamilselvan. The poor Kandiahs and Maniams in North-East prefer and like to co-exist with their Sinhala brothers and sisters.

    {Edited out content written in a manner unsuitable for this forum – Editor}

    Now and it is now for the saner elements to unite without any pre-conditions and unite the people of SL and make them thoughtful human beings seeking the truth.

  • Java Jones

    Brilliant exposition, Sanjana. Have you had this translated in the press for the benefit of the Sinhala readership in the country ?

    And I can’t help but wonder what Sittingnut’s response would be!!!

    Cheers!

  • SH

    I know it would be ideal if the business community could be more pro-active. But for some of them, it may be in their interests to pepetuate this cycle of corruption and violence. I don’t know if the answer lies just in the business community. But maybe if there was some leadership within the community it may help.

    I think for something to be more effective it has to cut across social and community lines. And…well in Sri Lanka, that has yet to happen I think?

    Maybe the business community could contribute by funding such projects.

    I hope people are just not desperate to get rid of Mahinda or the LTTE like a bad smell. The system itself is inherently flawed. It has to be an ongoing commitment to change.

  • SJayewardene

    everyone I fwd your article to responds with, ‘what do we do?’.
    As Java J says, this should reach the sinhala & tamil press too… perhaps that silent majority is out there!!

    Mr.kumar certainly cheered me up… it’s so easy to forget the Kandiahs & manikams as they’re so silent!

    so again… any ideas on what we could do?

  • sinhalapeaceman

    We abroad know what is happening because of journalist such as yourself – we know how corrupt the president is but the rest of the country don’t. Keep writing as we who seek peace fairly are with you.

  • sam

    Thanks Sanjana – it’s really inspiring to read this kind of writing.

    I wonder if it’s worthwhile starting up a NOT IN OUR NAME type campaign for Sri Lanka.
    http://www.notinourname.net/ was started up in New York as a response to the US Government’s response to 9/11.

    There is also http://www.nimn.org/ – this one is from members of the Jewish community – NOT IN MY NAME – that seeks justice for and peace with the Palestinians.

    It would be a symbolic act – but could also be an effective way of communicating opposition to the GOSL’s current strategy.

  • SH

    Yes, Sam,

    I hope I didn’t sound cynical. People have to take the first step. Each step, even small ones, including a symbolic gesture, moves you closer to what you want to achieve.

    Sounds like a very good idea.

  • hilmy

    Thanks Sanjana. You are not alone, and the silent minority may not be a minority for long. We cannot give up.

    H

  • Singam

    Sanjana, I have read your articles in the papers since 2 or 3 yrs back. Your voice and approach to our problem is unique. Keep it up. My son referred me to “groundview”. I hope you, uyangoda, sumanasiri, edrisinghe, Jeyampathy can formulate a set of principles, independent of the slg politicians, that would lead to constructive discussions to find a solution. I agree that there is no silent majority or silent minority. Those who think there is, don’t “hear” them. The SM are the ones who act not shout. At my twilight years (I call it Bonus Years) I think that our problem needs an approach and thoughts that have not been expressed yet. I think that Pericles who said that only a few can create ideas but everyone has the ability to judge it. (Karl Popper quotes him in his book, “Enemies of the State – Plato Vol I). It is the best rationale there is for democracy. But feudal Sri Lanka is the best example of majoritarian democracy! Blaming Chelvanayagam or Ponnambalam did not solve the problem. Blaming the LTTE will not solve the problem. LTTE is not the cause, it is the effect of the problem. Without them there is no solution. That is reality on the ground.

  • Faaiz

    Sanjana have been reading your writings although not been speaking o you of late. But this is just great. I sincerely admire your courage given the circumstances. Given the circumstances and with the experiences of the recent past that is all I can say in this space.

  • gita

    I have recently been feeling that i am a lone enemy of the state and the views expressed in your article are exactly what I have been trying to put forward in many arguments I have had with those who side the GOSL and call themselves patriots. Its good to know I am not alone judging by the comments you have received.

    someone asked, what do we do?

    I think we should not stop expressing our opinions for fear of being classed as traitors,

    I hope your article will be translated into sinhala so it can enlighten the sinhala speaking people who are fed GOSL propaganda and into tamil so that the tamil speaking people realise that all sinhalese are not rascist.

    I also like the not in our name idea.. your article made me want to DO SOMETHING – I think it’ll have the same effect on other people too. Thank you and well done.

  • cyberviews

    Thanks Sanjana. Brilliantly articualted. Articles such as yours must be given as wide a publicity as possible, in all 3 languages, else it will end up as a sermon to the converted. (Important nevertheless as it helps keep up our spirits up!)

    Remember in a polity that supposedly supports the war, an article by Dr Nalin Silva in the Divaina, or the demogoguery of a Wimal Weerewansa is equal to a thousand postings like yours. In most parts of the country the only TV that is viewable is Rupavahini or ITN. A staged interview with Rev Elle Gunawansa, on ITN, is a call to arms to the patriots to save the Buddhist religion and the Sinhala race. Why should they listen to you or me, whom they are told are Sama Kotiyas/NGO Kotiyas/Madhya Kotiyas etc. To bring about an attitudinal shift of someone who is provided a view of the conflict through the lens of a Nalin Silva article, a fiery Wimal Weerawansa speech or a Rupavahini interview and who is trapped into that thinking by being told that any other view is heresy, is akin to a tectonic shift. While this may sound defeatist, I agree with the other commentators that we cannot give up.

    But then in order to deal with the problem, have we understood it? For us among the English eduacted elite, with our well paid jobs, we have had most of our problems resolved, with or without democracy. Therefore we have the luxury of spending time on the finer aspects of democracy and justice which mean a lot to us. This is not true for the majority, and here I refer to an ecomonic class who are deprived of even the basic necessities of life. Still in a semi-feudal, patronage driven political system, the politician and his or her party is seen as the source of one’s livelihood. Those who offer more will get the vote, and it is this relationship that is leveraged by the kleptocratic poltician to come into power by hook or by crook. However as soon as the poltician and his party fail to deliver the largesse, he or she and the party are ousted. The Sinhala Buddhist factor and saving the mother land is secondary. This was amply demonstrated when the UNP, under Ranil, was voted into power with a mandate to share power. The chief reason for the failure of that government lay, not so much in the flaws in the peace process (of which there were many), as in its failure to meet the economic aspirations of the rural periphery. Therefore I would like to sound optimistic in saying that the Rajapakse government will be brought down by its sheer failure on the economic front and one does not even have to wait until another election! Therefore, while one needs to take action on the Governance, Human Rights, Corruption fronts, the real chink in the government’s armour is the rapidly deteriorating economy. It is at this that one must keep hammering in order to dislodge this incompetent and failed government. A new government can go to the people with a political programme that offers the widest of power sharing schemes, and one could be sure of the people’s support, provided they have an economic programme that delivers the goods and a war weary LTTE is ready to talk under pressure from the International Community. Remember with all the demagoguery of the JVP and JHU, their vote base has been very small. The people know what they want, it is just that the major parties are so politically bankrupt that they cannot deliver. The revamping of the electoral system is another area one must work on, to ensure a clean up of the party system of unworthy politicians.

  • Sundaram

    I am a young Tamil from Jaffna living outside north and east but in Sri Lanka. Although I did not understand the hi fi English, I could understand the basic idea of the article. You might not believe me if I tell you that the article and the comments moved me to tears. Just to know that there are sinhalese people who understand the Tamils’ “present” mindset was so very encouraging. I see this article itself as a sign of Hope for Sri Lanka. Thank you Sanjaya.
    This is the first time I came to this site. I got it from the daily mirror.

  • SH

    “To bring about an attitudinal shift of someone who is provided a view of the conflict through the lens of a Nalin Silva article, a fiery Wimal Weerawansa speech or a Rupavahini interview and who is trapped into that thinking by being told that any other view is heresy, is akin to a tectonic shift.”

    I disagree. From my personal experience I suspect there is a vast untapped source of change. However, this is probably more suitable for a long term perspective.

    Finally as sinhalapeaceman has said people overseas will definitely play a significant role in supporting whats happening on the ground.

    Best wishes

  • SH

    PS. The attitudinal shift mentioned above has to work both ways.

  • naz

    sam when are you back to lead this march..? “not in our name”

  • Karunai

    Sundaram, I do believe you because I too was moved to tears reading this article. And I too am a Tamil living in Sri Lanka outside of the Northeast. I have been feeling so discouraged and sometimes even on the verge of giving up (though that wasn’t likely over the long term)… Today, reading this article and all the comments which followed have revitalized me and given me so much hope. And energy to continue to work for healing of this Island and her many wounded people. Thank you all!

    To share with you a George Orwell quote:
    “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes revolutionary”

    And during times of violent repression, telling the truth takes a lot of courage. Thank you, Sanjana for paving the way with your courageous willingness to publicly share such truths.

  • Palmyrah

    Read your piece in the Daily Mirror yesterday, SH. Very well said indeed. However, I wonder whether it really is the ‘ruling elite’ and ‘southern politicians’ who are to blame for the current mess we’re in — as so many Sri Lankans, including some of those who have commented on your article, purpote to believe.

    Genuine racial animosity is the real culprit. It has a longer history — we can trace it back to at least the fifth century — than any other factor in Sri Lankan politics apart from the chronic factiousness of the latter. A review of ‘democratic’ politics in Sri Lanka since the formation of the Ceylon National Congress in 1919 certainly supports this view. So does the fact that, whenever Sri Lankan leaders seem about to make a breakthrough in the search for a solution to the ethnic conflict, they are promptly ejected from office, either democratically or by a fiat of some sort, which of course could not happen without popular support and approval.

    The racial animosity and the factiousness are, of course, intimately connected. This is the point I really want to make. The ethical and moral degeneracy of Sri Lankan society stems from just one source: shared guilt and shame regarding the racism we study so hard to conceal, but which is clearly apparent from a brief study of our history and current affairs. This guilt and shame are shared, not only by members of the majority, but among all Sri Lankans who are not its proximate victims. It compromises us morally to such an degree that further transgressions — running a traffic light, cheating on a spouse, accepting million-dollar commissions on a dodgy arms deal, hacking an entire family to death in a property dispute — can be accomplished with ease. We are already ‘in blood stepp’d in so far’, as Macbeth put it, that a little extra spatter doesn’t make much difference.

    Yet the enormity of our collective crimes still oppresses us in our secret hearts. We try to evade it through denial and blame-shifting: oh, it isn’t us, it’s the politicians! But in fact — and we know it — it isn’t the politicians. It’s us. But we daren’t admit it, even to ourselves, for then we will have to face up to the fact that we have grown into a nation of monsters.

    But monsters we shall remain, until we do face up to it.

  • SJayewardene

    Whilst acknowledging that racial animosity is not from the 5th century but as old as mankind, It is time for us to move on as a people… if we’re to share the beauty of our country with our children we should be heartened by the multi-racial response to this article alone and move on NOW!

    Sanjana, how can we help you, Groundview and any parallel organizations spread awareness islandwide?
    translations, not in my name organizations…?
    any ideas?

  • Suren Raghavan

    Those who read the well written (to an elite audience again) article above by Sanjana should also read Gajan”s (KP) interview with Tamilnet. A sustainable solution is possible only when we (those who prefer peace) aspire together.
    Sr

  • Singam

    On Feb 4, 1985, Lalith Athulathmudali was asked why doesn’t the UNP with its more than two-third majority get a federal constitution passed in parliament and in a referendum of the people. He said that SLFP (with its less than 10 MPs!!!) would oppose it! His exact words were that. “if UNP tabled a Federal constitution, that would be political suicide.”

    12 years later, the day Jeya Sikuru offensive to open the A9 started, Ranil Wickremasinghe in the presence of Mahinda Samarsinghe and Tyronne Fernando (When they were UNP MPs!) when asked about a federal or confederal constitution as a solution, said that as a political party, ” UNP would not do anything that would prevent them from getting into power or if in power unseat them from power”!!! Both well educated, schooled politicians knew the hearts and minds of the majority. They knew which side of the hopper had the egg. Check out below the the CPA Feb 2007 survey figures for the Sinhala respondents on questions relevant to political decisions:
    1. Solution through peace talks 46.3% Yes.
    2. Solutions through defeating LTTE 35.1% Yes
    3. Confidence in Pres Rajapakse 48.0% yes
    4. Disapprove Norway as a facilitator 57.0% Yes
    5. Agree with Majority (APRC) Report 41.1% Yes
    6. Disagree with the Majority Report 41.1% Yes
    7. New Emergency Regulations does not harm ordinary TAMIL civilians 67.6% Yes!

    It can be assumed that out of the 46.3% Sinhala potential voters 41.1% does not agree with the Majority report. So they wish to negotiate for less with those Tamils who have no bargaining powers, civil or otherwise. This is reality of Sri Lankan politics. It is obvious that no party would get two-third majority in Parliament or a majority in a referendum even for the Majoirty report which, in my estimate, a majority of Tamils, let alone LTTE, has rejected.

  • Aliya

    Collars up for you Sanjana!
    Given the circumstances this effort of yours is quiet daring. It’s high time that the civil society gets to know that ‘enemies of the state’ is not an equivalent of ‘enemies of Sri Lanka’, that all allies of the state are not necessarily the allies of Sri Lanka and that patriots are not defined by the state but by the History.
    It should also be noted that democracy is a process, not a prescription.
    Nothing is too late yet, keep on going. Good Luck!

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  • Ajith

    As someone very wise recently said ” The vocal minority is ruling the silent majority”.

  • Hakuru

    Just as it was in post 9/11 America, in Sri Lanka today, perception is everything and details are a tiresome bother. Whist Sri Lanka hurtles towards Sirerra Leone, anybody who can get out should! There is nothing romantic about our country except the memories, and they are best preserved.

  • punitham

    i’ve come to read sanjana’s articles/reviews eagerly over the last several months – we need scores of sanjanas to get out of the knotty/ugly situation that has been created over the last 60 years.
    kumar, just as the diaspora shouldn’t help make the rifts deeper, they also should console those who have been savaged by racial riots and structural violence of the policies and practice of successive governments.

  • nadia

    Why are extreme voices the ones that get heard? Its ironic that your article generated a greater audience because of its sensational heading (re Janius’ comment) because it purports to dispel the notion that polarization is not a good thing. And yet, it seems to sell. Its almost like the public is forced to pick a side and they are more comfortable doing so. Your either Sinhalese or your not. Your either with the govt or against it. The solution is military not political. The grey substances are not interesting to a public majority. Why is that and what can we do to change that?

  • Rashee

    I am a muslim (women) and married to a jaffna muslim, now living in Colombo. When there are tensions arising in the area we are very frightened, my daughter asked me one day why we are tensed and I did not know how to explain it but I briefly explained her oneday about the situation (majority vs minority etc.) at once she asked me ‘Are we not born here, are we not Sri Lankans, and where can we go in case of some problem? Actually only then it strike me “Where to from here? “Who are we?” “Where do we actually belong?”
    ‘CAN YOU ANYONE GIVE AN ANSWER TO THIS?”

  • Death by Snoo Snoo

    Interesting question Rashee. Perhaps we could ask someone from a minority group in a Muslim majority country to explain to us what the difference between minority and majority is, and how the minorities should be treated. Maldives, Malaysia, Pakistan… that’s just the countries around us.

    Anyway, aren’t Tamils and Muslims the majority in metropolitan Colombo now? That makes the whole question even more complicated. I wonder..

  • SH

    That indicates a sorry state of affairs, when people have to compare Sri Lanka to countries like Pakistan etc. We seem to have to scrape the bottom of the barrel here.

  • SH

    Whats next? Will we have to keep stating the fact that Sri Lanka is better than Burma, Zimbabwe or Saudi Arabia? There are many countries at the bottom of the barrel. You can pick and chose.

  • Singam

    Rashee. Don’t think of yourself as belonging to a Minority community. Nor should Sinhalese thing of themselves as a majority community. Such phrases connotes that the majority is right and better than the minority. Tamil and Muslim communities are numerically less than the Sinhala community. This does not mean that the community with the larger numbers has more rights or always right. The term minority and majority refers to a decision of a group, association or committee. It has no meaning when applied to a linguistic or religious community. Democracy in Sri Lanka has failed because the numerically overwhelming linguistic community uses the one-person one-vote to subjugate the numerically less communities assuming that more the numbers, more the wisdom!

    My advice to your daughter is that her family and the community are her roots. The State, Sri Lanka or others, is an artificial boundary to facilitate governance. Governments change, borders change but the family and the community is continuous. It is her identity. I am from Jaffna, I have travelled the world to compete in sports, study and work. I held a Ceylon, then a UN passport, and now hold a SL passport, but that is not my identity. It is a travel document. My outlook is international but my loyalty is to my family and community. I respect the rights of individuals and linguistic and religious communities. This is the best answer I can give you and your daughter.

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