Colombo, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

What is the solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka?

Any satisfactory answer to this question must examine, and consider the root causes for this problem; however, the solution must be sensitive to the numerous complexities brought about by the conflict itself. In the case of Sri Lanka, it would be naive examine this problem from a purely pre-1983 perspective.

The fundamental cause for this conflict is the perception by one race that the other race was privileged; there was a general perception racial inequality was prevalent. How did this perception arise? The origins lie in the 19th Century; the American missionaries established a wide network of schools in the Jaffna peninsula that molded an educated, English speaking group of people. The British then tapped into this ready pool of resources in order to fill posts in the Civil Service. Another reason for this was the British colonial policy of “divide and rule”; in fact, there is evidence that the British actively discriminated in favour of Tamils when allocating senior positions in the Civil Service. Hence, the Civil Service became dominated by Jaffna Tamils; their often arrogant attitude and simply the fact that this small minority held vastly disproportionate power was a cause of great resentment on the part of the Singhalese. This was amplified by the fact that Tamil’s were often able to use the administrative system more effectively; for example if a non-English speaking Tamil went to a government department the Tamil civil servants there would aid him in filling up the necessary forms etc. and explain the process in the vernacular. However since most of the Tamils did not speak Singhalese, those belonging to the Singhalese majority would not be able to do the same and hence felt resentment against the Tamils.

Economic success was another reason for the Singhalese antipathy of the Tamils. The Jaffna Tamil originated from an extremely harsh, dry environment where existence depended on careful planning and investment combined with frugal consumption. The Jaffna Tamil applied these experiences when conducting business; and was content to operate on small margins, live thriftily and ruthlessly plough back profits as investment. Therefore, a state arose where a small minority, the Jaffna Tamils, controlled a large proportion of wealth and power in Sri Lanka; the Singhalese naturally resented this modus operandi, however the power of the British Raj prevented them from actually responding.

After the bestowing of independence in 1948 the relative peace that prevailed in Sri Lanka in the preceding century was steadily eroded. The process began with the venting out of popular Singhalese umbrage against the Tamils by electing S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike for his “Sinhala Only” (a policy of making Singhalese the sole official language) policy in 1956. The treachery of S.W.R.D with regard to the Bandaranaike-Chelvanyagam Pact of 1957 amplified increasingly strained relations between the two races. These reached a boiling point in May 1958 when riots broke out in Colombo and the provinces; the most notable implication of these pogroms, besides the greater level of antagonism between the races, was that the Tamils began to lose confidence in the Government of Sri Lanka to safeguard them and treat them as equitable citizens. The primary reason was for five days the government had stood aside and had done nothing. This perception was intensified by the riots of 1977 (where the government again failed to protect Tamils from Singhalese gangs), the burning of the Jaffna Public Library (a symbol of Tamil culture and an important repository of original texts relating to the origins of the Tamils).

The role of standarisation must not be forgotten; the Jaffna Tamils depended on education for economic advancement. The introduction of standardization in 1973 meant that Jaffna Tamils would lose their niche position in the Civil Service and private sector.  In 1969, the Northern Province, which was largely populated by Tamils and compromised 7% of the population of the country, provided 27.5 percent of the entrants to science based courses in Sri Lankan universities. By 1974, this was reduced to 7%. This is repeatedly cited as evidence of State discrimination against Tamils, and hence contributed in undermining the Tamil’s confidence in the State.

In conclusion, by 1983 the Tamils were treated as second-class citizens; their language not recognized, advancement in the civil service limited, discriminated against in terms of education and not protected by their State.  Furthermore, they were considered aliens in their own land. This general perception was dominant at even the highest levels of government:

“If there is discrimination in this land which is not their (Tamil) homeland, then why try to stay here. Why not go back home (India) where there would be no discrimination. There are your kovils and Gods. There you have your culture, education, universities etc. There you are masters of your own fate”

– Mr.W.J.M. Lokubandara, M.P. in Sri Lanka’s Parliament, July 1981

This can be considered with ease as a lucid breach of the social contract; the Tamils then felt it their right to rebel and restore their rights. The Vaddukoddai Resolution of 1976 had firmly placed this restoration in terms of a separate sate. A guerilla movement emerged from those dissatisfied and brought the conflict into a new phase.

 One must not fail to note that the riots of 1983 were caused by Tamil militants viz the LTTE. Tamil militancy, by this time, had already developed to the extent where attacks of this nature ( 13 soldiers were killed) could be successfully completed; this revealed that 1983 did not instigate the ethnic conflict but was a manifestation the extent to which it had developed and that events were increasingly reaching an ever higher crescendo of violence and hatred.  The widespread backlash, the killing of thousands and the governments repeated failure to protect its citizens convinced the Tamil population that its rights would not be respected and that they would be classified as second-class citizens if they remained within the Sri Lankan state.

The next 25 years was fraught with greater violence, hatred and oppression. Both the LTTE and the government committed numerous human rights abuses. The LTTE repeatedly attacked civilians, such as the massacres at Anuradhapura in 1985 and repeatedly at border villages such as Thiripane, not to mention the bombing of busses. Government forces too have committed many violations of human rights e.g. thousands of disappearances, the killing of aid workers, and the rampages of soldiers are but a few of the many instances. The mutual animosity that existed before 1983 has deepened and matured into a state of utter mistrust and bitterness. Many, if not most, members of a certain ethnic group view the members of the other group as subhuman and not worthy of existence due to the above reasons. This psychological and sociological baggage cannot be ignored and must be dealt with if any solution is to exist today.  

In conclusion, the root cause of the ethnic issue is the feeling of inequality and oppression and for the ethnic conflict to be solved these must be dealt with; however this must be done within a framework considering the mutual hate and the deep rifts created in the last 25 years.

Today, 30th April 2008, a country deeply divided, over 60,000 dead, a generation (or two) lost, children brainwashed, hatred and above all fear. What can be done?  The solution is simple yet concurrently complex. It is that the based on the cry of the French Revolution “Liberty, Equality and Fraternity”; all ethnic groups must be treated as equals. How it is to be achieved? The solution lies in the creation of a modern liberal democratic structure that ensures the rights of all citizens are equally upheld. All citizens must be treated equally. A sense of national identity based on the principle of the nation state rather than ethnicity must be instilled and cultivated.

On a practical level this means that the government should not consider the race of a person for any purpose e.g. the indication of race on national identification is unnecessary and counterproductive. Furthermore, the use of a common non-sectarian language (such as English) should be encouraged. In addition, a culture of principle and policy, not ethnicity, politics must be encouraged. A firm independent judiciary with power to enforce its decisions must be developed. Finally, the state must be secular, in order to prevent discrimination from that direction.

For all of this to occur legislative, constitutional, administrative and sociological change must occur. The LTTE will not accept any system of plurality and hence it would be naïve to expect any change from the LTTE, or the brainwashed and oppressed people under them. The burden lies on the average Sinhala voter (the majority) to elect a government that will ensure that all these goals are achieved.  The perceptions of the Sinhala voter must be changed via education and exposure (and perhaps war weariness). Only when these goals are achieved and all ethnic groups feel they are equal citizens  the “voice of strife” be dumb and only then will “we march to a mighty purpose”, the betterment of all our citizens, united as one. 

  • GroundReality

    Istead of fighting for ever, we should become good nabours, good friends and civilised people. This is definitly possible, if you accept the ground realities. First seperate for peace and liberties. Next cooperate or unite for development.

    Seperate and Cooperate!

    All other blabla – trying to cheate others your are cheating yourself.

  • Ekcol

    Do you have anything new to say? Also, where did you learn that Sinhalese and Tamils are “Races”?

  • The Titular Republic

    Dear GroundReality,

    I agree with the “good neighbors, good friends and civilized people part”. However I believe separation to be impractical. Eg Colombo is home to hundreds of thousands of Tamils who wish to have nothing to do with a Tamil homeland. What to do with them? Or the plantation Tamils for that matter. There will be no need for a separate state if all have “Liberty, Eqality and Fraternity”

    Anyway, thank you for opinion and interesting concept.

  • The Titular Republic

    Dear Ekcol,

    Well I am merely arguing the case for equal rights as the solution to the ethnic problem. I believe this is necessary as discrimination on the basis of ethnicity is widespread eg the lodgers fiasco. Therefore, the solution may not be new but it publicizing is relevant at this point in time.

    As for race, I would advise you to visit the following:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_(classification_of_human_beings)

    Furthermore, the race/ethnicity is mentioned on one’s birth certificate/national identification eg Sri Lankan Tamil (although it is called nationality!)

  • JJ

    Excellent analysis of the problem and spot on the answer. You’re a true Sri Lankan, one of those rare gems.

  • sham

    another one of the root cause titled articles (one of so many, but a better one with a eay to understand approach)

    i for one are looking for solutions.
    1. united country -one country, one flag, one anthem.
    2. english the main language – all 3 languages compulsory from grades 1-10. tertiary education in english only.
    3. non -single ethinc schools – e,g. no muslim ladies school.
    4. all forms/ announcements/ adresses in 3 langagues.

    if we do as such for 10 years , by then we would have set the foundation for a new generation of comunal peace.

  • V

    Eliminate the checkpoints, the ID checks, the ‘visa’ to enter/exit the north; open all access roads to the north without any security checks whatsoever; invest like crazy in building infrastructure in the north; hire translators for every government organization especially police; hire tamils as police officers in tamil dominant areas; get rid of the state of emergency; no arresting/questioning anyone without a court warrant; cease offensive military operations, withdraw the military from urban areas (Jaffna high security zone for eg.), and set up camp in strategically defendable areas. Before you know it, the LTTE would have fractured many times over and will cease to be a threat. It happened once before (Karuna faction), so why not again?

  • I agree with alot of Sham’s propositions. Language and uniting under a common flag is essential. I hate to be a pessimist but I don’t see that happening anytime soon with the level of prejudice on either side.

    I do not see a seperated nation being feasible at all. I think ultimately a federal system, most likely based on district level autonomy would probably be the most realistic as far as I see.

    1) English needs to be uniting language as its neutral and very necessary for an island nation like SL in terms of global trade and tourism. Also, making the other languages compulsory would be an excellent step and make understanding far easier. Essentially the creation of a Sri Lankan identity that is “race” inclusive and not biased. This will ultimately benefit everyone.

    2) Perhaps even a new national anthem!

    3) Children need to be taught from now ! About the perils of prejudice and the destrution it has and continues to bring about. Much like German students are educated about the holocaust…this is a pivotal piece of training that all high school kids ought to be made aware of. They need to be presented with the reasons for the problem from both perspectives (idealistic I know).

    4) Massive amounts of development are required in the North and East but this should be managed carefully as there are many regions in the South that are under-developed and this may create another complex. Providing the people in these impoverished, war battered provinces will drastically decrease the likelihood of extremism gaining ground again.

    An improved road network would be essential as increased accessibility would reduce isolation and increase mingling.

    5) Remove ALL Executive Powers!

    6) A swift Judicial system that delivers sentences to all the big honchos in the LTTE and the Govt who has grossly manipulated the people of Sri Lanka. I think this sort of public spectacle will bring some discipline back into SL society as currently leaders of the nation get away with EVERYTHING.

    7) Reducing barriers to minorities in the Public Service. It’s already bloated and inefficient but steps need to be taken to be more inclusive. Not a blatantly imposed quota system but an informal one that allows the public service to reflect the country’s population composition.

    8) Secular status with no religion protected or given special treatment in the constitution. Every man to his own. Religious freedom. A revision of the stance on Poya Days would be very beneficial to the economy as a whole. We are terribly inefficient as it is.

    These are some thoughts…but essentially I feel we need to have regional autonomy, unite under one language and embrace all cultures…this is what OUGHT to happen. But well I don’t think the population wants this…and for them to realize it all they need to be educated and that in itself is a real challenge…and it takes alot of time..

  • V

    To Shanil:
    Good luck on establishing a secular state with no religion protected. There’ll be riots in the streets if anyone touches that. I whole heartedly agree with you though. Would also like to see Buddhism return to Sri Lanka…real Buddhism.

  • Raj

    T,

    Never mind the LTTE, the government of Sri Lanka will not accept any system that embraces plurality.

    The legislative, constitutional, and administrative structures you speak of all lie with the Singhalese. The Tamils have no power over their own affairs or lives.

    What you and several others have proposed is anathema to the vast majority of Singhalese who would rather see the country split than share meaningful power with the Tamils.

    I think at this point in the ethnic conflict, a two-state solution is the best viable alternative.

    Lastly, if you don’t mind sharing –What are the sources of the information you used to sketch the Jaffna Tamil community and its’ mentality?

  • Fair Mind

    The comment from the Singhalese MP that “if there is discrimination in this land which is not their (Tamil) homeland, then ……………” is in itself a discrimination. The Tamils can also throw back the same sentiments at the Singhalese as the land is not Singhalese homeland as well as both races are inhabitants of the land which was originally occupied by the Vedas. This speaks of the low Singhalese mentality.

    The marginalization of the Tamils and deprivation of their rights by the Singhalese governments had existed for the last 60 years and the governments had been all the while turning a deaf ear to the legitimate grievances of the Tamils. Even now, the government is reluctant to address the core issues nor want to put forward a credible solution to resolve the matter. In the circumstances and considering the government’s insincerity to resolve the issues, the best answer would be granting the Tamils their own state (the North & East), their own self determination, where they can choose to live the way they want and to preserve their cultures. The moment this happens, there will be peace.
    The question is why are the Singhalese governments not willing to allow the Tamils determine their destiny – is it for fear of their own security, is it for fear that the hardworking Tamils due to their association with the Tamils all over the world and with the international community will progress economically and they will be left behind. Why can’t the government see that having two states, both communities will be able to progress simultaneously and no one will be left behind.

  • Fair Mind

    Violence to the nation is the result of the successive Singhalese governments who refused and reluctant address the root causes of the minority race. The conflict is the result of no solutions being provided to the Tamils’ 30 years non-violent struggle for their due fundamental rights. Had all citizens been treated equal, irrespective of race or religion, then the conflict would not have come to the current situation. It is simple as that.

    The best solution is two states, the other nearest solution is credible self determination package which satisfies the aspirations of the Tamils where they can determine their lives without any interference. And the best way of finding out the best possible solution is to implement a UN supervised referendum in the North and East areas to find out what the people residing in these areas actually want. The referendum can give three choices to the people 1. whether they want to continue with the current set up, 2. whether they will opt for a two governments under a unitary centre like China and Hong Kong; 3. whether they prefer to go for an independent state like East Timor or Kosovo. Whatever the majority Tamils decide, let it be so. Is this not the right way to resolve an issue instead of dragging the conflict without an end. Other countries have done it; the UN has sanctioned it and countries have endorsed it. Why not the same method be applied here.

  • JJ

    Fair Mind, separate state is what the LTTE want. No way that’s going to happen. This article is not prejudice, it confronts the very demons in the Sri Lankan society who are the cause of this ethnic conflict and the cause of the continuation of it. The real deamons, if you permit me to use metaphors, are just two sides of the same coin.

  • I have read all the articles, and now I would like to comment on this issue.
    Who liberated Sri-Lanka from the British? Was it not the singhalese & tamils together, in those days we fought together side by side for the love of OUR land so now what has happened? Where has the unity gone?If another war or if any other alien force wants to invade our land wont we fight together again? Will the I.D card be necessary? Our lord Jesus said “WHAT SHALL IT PROFIT A MAN IF HE SHLL GAIN THIS WHOLE WORLD & LOSE HIS OWN SOUL” So I pray that all sri-Lankans will be united in saving our small Island.
    In God we trust.

  • Deepal

    Terrorists is a cancer for the whole peace loving people.
    Tamils & Muslims are still living together in all parts of SL ( Except in North )
    Dont foget that LTTE has killed more Tamils than any other nationality.
    And its not the end of killing there own people.
    So lets support to wipe out LTTE terriorism before it become a threat to India.

  • Lover of Serendipity

    I found some interesting insights into the history of the current SL conflict. I am an American and have lived thru our own history of discrimination to the black race. Fortunately, most of the struggle to rid our society of this ill was non-violent in nature. It was only thru the brave and courageous leadership (in both the white and black communities) that we made the fundemental changes necessary. Our country still is not perfect and we have progress to be made. Fortunately, we still have leaders today that believe in the UNITED States of America and promote racial reconciliation on a daily basis.

    It takes the very people who benefit from the status quo to take a stand and say, no, this is not right. It also takes individuals who are being oppressed to recognize violence is not the answer. How does the killing of innocent people justify a cause? It will take strong leaders who put the SL country ahead of their own self-interest. Together as one united country you stand and move forward but devided you fall and do not develop your full potential as a country.

    I’m not naive to think SL can forget the past and individuals can just simply turn the page and all will be well. It will take time and patience for sure. There will be doubt and mistrust when this dialogue commences. But it starts with strong leaders, who seek out a discussion with the opposite view, which leads to forgiveness, which leads to common ground, which leads to…

    I have been fortunate to visit your lovely island. I have traveled around the globe and I find SL one of the most beautiful places on earth. I love her scenic sites and tasty food but, most importantly, I love her people. Be a leader, find a leader, support a leader and help a united SL live up to it’s full potential!

    God bless.

  • Ekcol

    The recognition of the right to self determination of the Tamil people and negotiating a solution within that right for both peoples to live peacefully is the only option available. The alternative is war that will never end.

    The divide in the comments from all sides in all the postings in groundviews is approximately found in the general population of all sides. Although groundviews is a sample of internet savy, English speaking lot, in my experience, it is about the same proportion in non English speaking population of all sides. What a useless exercise such postings and comments are. It leads no where except to the deep primitive recesses of our being.

  • sham

    i think based on the above situation , we can deem why this fight will go on till one party is dead,

    on the comments above u see that 5 people for a unitary state and a about 4 people for seperate state and about 3-4 people in confused state.

    this is the starting point of any discussion. any CPA or NGO analysis going back to root casue or what ever doesnt add value as you see from aboce comments that this will never be achived.

    however , when you take in the population %,’s, the majority will never allow a referandum to seperate the country , hence we will never have that elusive peace until one side is defeated.

    long like Sri lanka

  • Ekcol, you cannot say that discussions we have been having on forums such as groundviews is a useless exercise, despite the fact that there is a lot of truth in your statement that it is being dominated by the English speaking population. Nevertheless, it is an important fact that these English Speakers have a powerful presence in many elements that influence the conflict, from the international sphere to influencing popular politics in SL. Also, it is important that we have a dialogue in the first place, we need to start somewhere. There was a point when people were just indifferent, there were no opportunities such as this forum for people to come forward and voice their frustrations. You must also not forget the climate of impunity that is present in SL and if not for forums such as this there will not be any expression of opinion at all. Furthermore, this forum attracts a lot of the Sri Lankan Diaspora who have a very important part to play in fueling or extinguishing the ethnic conflict. We have been ignoring this for a long time and it is now time to take this into serious consideration. You will be absolutely appalled at the mindsets that govern these Diaspora mainly the Tamil Diaspora. We must put our efforts in breaking down the fanaticism of Diaspora nationalism and attempt at neutralising opinions through dialogue. Stimulating individual political conscience is a first step towards initiating a progressive process on exploring a suitable and democratic way towards ending this bloodshed.

    SahaSamvada

  • The Titular Republic

    Dear all (especially Sham),

    I would like to clarify a point that I have not sufficiently elucidated. The article comes to the following conclusion. The reason for Tamils perceiving the need for a separate state is because they feel their rights will not be respected, and they will be treated as second-class citizens. ie they cannot achieve their goal of “Liberty, Egality and Fraternity” within a united Sri Lanka. However, if “Liberty, Egality and Fraternity” are ensured the need for Eelam, for the average Tamil, I believe, will be made redundant. The only way that can be achieved is via a drastic change in the judiciary and government policy and its implementation. For that to occur the views of the average Sinhala voter, who decides the fate of elections, must also change. How this is to be achieved is the question? Perhaps education.

    One may argue that that will never happen while suicide attacks, bombing etc. occur. The same argument can be reversed for the Tamil side. The point however is the LTTE will never give up their cry “The thirst of the Tigers is Tamil Eelam”, but that is not the view of the average Tamil living under their oppressive hegemony. The only person who can save Sri Lanka is the average Sinhala voter.

    The Titular Republic

  • Spot on! TTR

  • sham

    dear TTR

    well let me give u a view that the average sinhala voter will look at.
    – discrimination (is there in everysociety, male vs female, upperclass vs lower class, local vs foreign, colombo vs rural) its part of life and everyone everywhere go thorough this.
    -trying to obtain better rpresentation through terror is unacceptable
    – people, who carried out terror need to be punished, others need to lay down arms, wrong cannot be illegal deeds in the name of discrimination.
    -when the a minority party, who is democartically chosen among them publicallay state that they dont wish to see a seperated country , sinhal voter may decide that it should be so.

    but i wouldnt hold by breath for these

    anyway, its a bit repulsive how some people condone terror saying that discriminated people have a justifiable right to terrorise.

    wrong is wrong and never right under what ever circumstances.!

  • The Titular Republic

    Dear Sham,

    I never have or will condone violence or terrorism. The point I am trying to make is that the Tigers do not truly represent the will of the Tamil people, ie the Tigers want a separate state whilst the average Tamil wants his rights preserved and equality. Right now this , most Tamils feel, can only be provided by the creation of Eelam. The only way that perception can be changed is by actually providing equal and basic rights. For this a change in government policy and implementation is necessary, that can only be achieved by a change in the views of the average Sinhala voter.

    You seem to ask why (forgive me if i’m wrong) why the Sinhala voter whould do with the acts of terror being committed by the LTTE in the name of Eelam. What must be realized is many Tamils have no choice. The LTTE will not change, the only way to destroy them is provide equal and fundamental rights to Tamils. Only then will support for the LTTE begin to wane. Speeches such as Lokubandara’s will not do that; nor will the current governments openly discriminating policy.

    Wrong is always wrong.

    Terror is always wrong; so is discrimination on the basis of race.

  • Raj

    T,

    In order to find the answer, you have to clearly formulate the problem statement. This is more difficult than most people think.

    I would re-examine the data you used to identify the root cause and then look specifically for disconfirming evidence.

    Statements such as “Wrong is always wrong” isn’t going to lead to the deeper understanding needed to bring an end to the ethnic conflict.

    Lastly, if you would please provide the sources of the information you used to sketch the Jaffna Tamil community and its’ mentality I would appreciate it.

  • The Titular Republic

    Dear Raj,

    I was trying to bring objectivity by the statement “wrong is always wrong”.

    Well, do you feel my data is is incorrect or the analysis of it wrong? Any disconfirming evidence?

    I’m afraid I’ll have to refrain from providing my sources in order to maintain the objectivity of The Titular Republic, and to maintain anonymity. ie like the pseudonym Ashok Ferry, The Titular Republic cannot be identified as Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim etc. (although because it English and the internet I guess the social class can be assumed). Sorry.

    The Titular Republic

  • ‘What must be realized is many Tamils have no choice. The LTTE will not change, the only way to destroy them is provide equal and fundamental rights to Tamils’. – Tamils do have a choice. Tamils must struggle to ensure that their fundamental rights are achieved through a proper political process, and that isn’t to achieve Eelam. Eelam is just another word for a hell hole governed by the LTTE. If Eelam is achieved then the LTTE can never be destroyed. It will be a dictatorship with an even worse situation than what the Tamils are experiencing now. It’s high time we look at other methods of power sharing other than the option of a separate state.

  • Ekcol

    A positive move towards a solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka is simple. Let the President and/or Parliament invite the United Nations to hold a referendum of the Tamils in each of the Districts to vote whether they want
    1. A Separate State,
    2. A Federal State,
    3. A Confederal State,
    4. A fully implemented current constitution. OR
    5. Other

    Then take the first two that receives the most number of votes and have a second referendum on them.

    The outcome can be non-binding for everyone to understand what the Tamil people think. Or it can be a binding referendum that the UN can implement. After all Sovereignty of the people is supreme and it is not alienable. Let the people decide.

    A similar referendum can also be held at the same time for the Sinhlalese and Muslim voters in the various districts. The outcome will at least give a true indication of where the majority in each of the community in each of the Districts Stand. Any district that does not take part in the referendum can be assumed as for the “Other.”

  • Punitham

    ”One must not fail to note that the riots of 1983 were caused by Tamil militants viz the LTTE. ” is a myth well propogated.
    Cyril Mathew was publishing racially inflammatory literature in 1980,1981, 1982, 1983…. He was also carting around thugs and organising vicious attacks on Tamils in upcountry, Jaffna and Trincomalee in those years. Hansard speaks of the unspeakable in those years. I’d mention just two: a busload of Tamil passengers in Trinco were set on fire after the Sinhalese passengers were asked to get down in June ’83. On 11 July 1983 JRJ gave an interview to British Telegraph in which he said ” Sinhalese will be happy if Tamils are starved”.
    In the months preceding the riots government employees began to fear something terrible was going to happen and the press was reporting that the ‘air is filled with a strange sense’ that something very nasty was going to happen. The Tamil voters’ lists the thugs carried on 26 -28 July were being prepared …. The thugs and government vehicles were being allocated….
    The’13 soldiers’ brought the plan forward by a day or two.

    So many myths were created by Sinhalese politicians only to come to, and to stay in, power.

    Ethnic outbidding and hiding behind Buddhist religious activities are hallmarks of Sri Lankan politicians.

  • Punitham

    contd…
    They have brought the country to this state.
    The ball has always been n the majority ethniccity’s court and when and if they choose to be fair, by carrying out their responsibility, there will be peace. Perhaps when the country is 60 and the UDHR is 60, the people who hide behind Buddhist religious activities will come out to the open and put the essence of the religion into practice.
    The starting point is the offer of reasonable devolution of power because 1956 and 1958 riots were punishment for asking for federalism. 1977 and 1983 riots were for asking for separation. The long and the short of the structural violence of successive governments is that the socio-economic fabric of the Northeast has been pulped in the last sixty years.
    While people displaced from their homes in the areas of HSZ in the North have been languishing in camps for eitheen years(with decaying education, health and morals) the army farms their land with prison culprits taken from the South and sells them to the people trapped in Jaffna peninsula. People in the East are in no better position. Thanks to Bogus Buddhists, the North and the East have been pushed centuries back in history.

  • Punitham

    contd…
    1.Last year in an interview Chandrika said she made three mistakes and gave two of those and said that the third would be out in her forthcoming book. I wonder what that would be.
    2. A few days ago I was saddened to read the news that the UNP would spend May Day in religious activities.

  • Raj

    T,

    Both and Yes.

  • Any leader of any country who practices fairness and likes good governance should; show kindness to all its citizens and care for them; exhibit equality of citizenry; do justice to all without fear or favour; honour promises to citizens and respect agreements with other nations, and readily grant the legitimate rights of all its citizens. Such an attitude is learnt and developed over many years, from good leaders and not from a television series “Mafia” boss.

    Likewise, the people who own a country should have the right attitude and character to run it fairly, justly and equitably. Such a development requires spiritual standards that include love, forgiveness and care but exclude violence, murder and disrespect for others.

    Jimmy Carter was elected as the president of America because of his character. At his presidential inauguration he promised that he would endeavour to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God. He is remembered to this day for his high degree of honesty and integrity. Michael Gorbachov, the former president of Soviet Union is still loved for his honest kindness and justice in freedom to the former states of Soviet Union.

    A country that does not value honesty and justice is like a ship stranded in deep sea, tossed in all directions, without any ability whatsoever to reach its destination. The people of such a country become a lost people, tossed everywhere, reaching nowhere.

    The Sinhalese as a people appear “lost in deep sea” ending nowehere and Sri Lanka(SL) has become a failed violent state after 60 years of freedom. The “colombo limbo” in granting the fundamental and legitimate rights to the people of North East (NE) is dragging for long 50 years, solely because of the lack of right attitude and character in the Sinhala nation (SN)

    “As a man thinks in his heart so he is”. The Buddhist priests sit on glamorous seats but they think and preach violence and war. The Sinhala Catholics too silently support war. They both appear to have lost their “way”. Forgiveness and reconciliation are not in their vision. They are blind. About 83 perecent of SN is blind too supporting war and bloodshed. They all have created a “dog eat dog” culture in SN. The impoverished Sinhalese village boys are enticed with money by the state to “eat dog” in the North and are getting killed or maimed in numbers; a naked exploitation of the poor by the powerful.

    The universal spiritual principle is this; one reaps what he sows. If one sows violence he reaps violence. The Sinhalese started violence against Tamils in 1958. To this day, the country is full of bloody violence. If any one sows dishonesty he reaps dishonesty. The government of Sri Lanka was dishonest with “Banda-Chelva pact”. To this day, there is dishonesty, untruthfulness and trickery in agreements with Tamils.

    Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Martin Luther King and SJV Chelvanayakam provided political leadership embodying the principle of sowing and reaping. Gandhi and King succeeded but Chelvanayakam failed in SL. Buddhist clergy punditry blurred justice and vision. That was stupid.

    Without correction of its attitude and character by the SN, the state of SL will never cross the river to enter the land of fairness, justice and honesty. Indo Lanka Accord (ILA) and CFA were abrogated by the government because of the “characterlessness” of the SN. Now, SN cannot be trusted. Even after 20 years they will not hesitate to undo an agreement as it happened to ILA.

    Therefore, a solution to the problem of self rule to the people of NE cannot come from within SL because the SN has always remained a problem to the solution. The solution has to be imposed and supervised from outside.

    A right is theree to be granted. It is neither for denial nor compromise. It is not even for deceptive rhetoric as it has happened for the past 50 years. Civilised people respect the rights of others. Even the UN is estblished for that purpose.

    An unavoidable solution would be to let the people of NE go into their independent land to determine their own destiny. And then, develop a joint destiny for all the people of the island. This solution is pragmatic. Talk of any other solution is rhetoric and wasteful.

    General Peyton, the former chief of staff of USA once said “… happiness, freedom and peace of mind are always attained by giving them to someone else”
    The SN must learn to give happiness and freedon to the people of NE.

  • The only viable solution is:

    1. Revise the constitution to encompass all communities, people, religions and ethnic grooups as 100% EQUAL

    2. Invite all groups and parties to be involved in the political process

    3. Conduct new elections for the government and members of parliament, president prime minister etc.

    4. Ensure that equal opportunity prevails across the board in all vocations, appointments, school/university admissions

    5. Remove religion from politics and any mention of it in the consitution

    6. establish the right resources and tools to fight corruption

    7. Enable free enterprise and privatize all dysfunctional departments anmd corporations.

  • Ekcol

    Kadalay,
    Where have you been all these years. The constitution has been rewritten three times and amended 17+ times. There have been numerous APCs, Many elections held since 1948. Equality is guaranteed by the constitution but seldom implemented because there is no Will. To remove Buddhism from SL politics is political suicide for the party that has to Bell the Cats. Corruption – will the thieves who govern implement anti corruption laws that is already there? There has been free enterprise since at least 1977, as best as it ever will in SL. Has any of these solved the problem? The violence against the Tamil rights have only increased.

    Accept that more than two third of the Sinhala people does not have the Will and will never recognise the rights of the Tamil community. Tamils have come to this conclusion since 1976. Let the Tamil people go and live thier own lives. Why does the Sinhala people want to have the Tamils in chains? Think about it.

  • “Let the Tamils go?” – Who is forcing them to stay? I’m just dealing with the literal meaning of what you just said. I’m not for all this race business as it is what has created this debacle in the first place…but there is a minority in the minority (Tamils) that thrive and prosper as well….

    I find these generalizations about Sinhalese oppression and Tamil innocence highly misleading. There are so pure lambs in all of this…

  • CHINTHANA MAHINDA

    Very simple…Stop the killings and abductions and devolve maximum power to the minorities!

    ps: The majority should also realise that this is NOT a ‘Buddhist country’…but a country with a ‘Majority of Buddhists!’

  • It is stupid to vegetate on past hurts and live in the past. We hesitate to erase the past and move into the future for the good of everyone. Current priorities are to 1) Grow as much food as possible by dignifying and providing incentives to those who opt for Agriculture and Animal husbandry 2) Educate ourselves to enter the world of BPO (Business process oursourcing) 3) Identify our latent/natural talents and seek to be employed in professions where we can be creative and OUTSMART all others (In any Nation) as Sri Lankans are more intelligent than any other- believe me they are – I have worked in 12 countries with almost all nationalities and there are none to beat Sri Lankans 4) Completely bury our EGOs and praise everyone for the contributions they make, rather than criticize, criticize, criticize and give no alternatives, or take over and run the activities one criticizes. We should think that we only have this lifetime and the more productive we become and the more we contribute the more our young will be joyful. Let us start now!