Colombo, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

Have we faltered in Sri Lanka?

‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing’. Edmund Burke

Pictures of Sri Lankans mourning the victims of the bomb blasts in the past few months have occupied local and international press agencies; the former to a greater degree. What were once political assassinations by the LTTE of strategic military targets has now culminated in the overt attack of the Sri Lankan public. More than ever before the public is instilled with insecurity and the once safe Colombo suburbs are rattled with the sound of the LTTE suicide bombers. In studies of international security, terrorist structures are viewed by theorists as entities that evolve to adapt to counter-terrorism efforts. The LTTE has evolved, and its new structures can be seen in the nature and frequency of attacks this year: the target of politicians and now the Sri Lankan public was hoped to have shaken the policy of victory at all costs by the government. However, the regime seems unthawed in its resolve and the war has become a ‘necessary evil’ for the public. Numerous journalists and theorists have covered the inadequacies of governmental action and the evils of the LTTE, however, have we as Sri Lankans faltered?

Political choices during voting should be made on what is beneficial for the country; the island requires pragmatic policies that at least hasten the cogs of development. Clearly, the past few years have not been beneficial for Sri Lanka, as numerous political and economic blunders have been made- hopefully this has changed the minds of citizens who will be more politically educated when casting ballots and not just follow the hype of the moment, or make short term decisions based on political promises that have an equally short life span. Political decision-making that exudes nationalism has contributed to the difficulties towards development. Surviving in an interdependent world requires a political and economic adjustment that facilitates the new world system; so far, Sri Lanka has made little progress towards such forward-looking policies, partly due to the cost of war.

The concern for the mounting trend of impunity in Sri Lanka cannot be understated. The attack of journalists and peace activists has shown that efforts at peace building, in a conflict situation, does not benefit from political and social support. This bodes much sorrow for the future of Sri Lanka, as peace seems to be a distant dream for the civil society that has actively struggled for conflict resolution and mediation. According to rational choice theory applied to war, the benefit from war is greater than the benefit from peace, thus with greed being the inclination of the so-called ‘political elite’, it only seems rational that these mighty politicians should bleed the country, with little concern for those who struggle and barely hang onto some semblance of life. Maybe the war against the LTTE is necessary and the cost of increasing consumer prices and a fall in living standards are a price to pay for victory. However, everyone should agree that the plot has been twisted, and the sidelines congruent with corruption. This war should have been over a long time ago.

For those who have irresponsibly cast their ballot for some futile passion for nationalism; the current position of the country is a testament to their ‘preferences’. Perhaps a more ‘educated’ choice was necessary. Perhaps a concern for the future should have crossed the minds of those who abused the electoral system. The regime has successfully implemented its repressive agenda, and every time a piece of its monolithic machine works, a knife cuts through the nation, a mouth is gagged and an innocent imprisoned. The consolidation of authoritarian government supported by draconian laws will be cause for concern in the future, as the zenith of a repressive social and political milieu will be inevitable. A majority of individuals are apathetic to a clearly visible injustice that has not yet affected them, without realising that it is shaping the future of every individual in the country. The final nail in the coffin will be so disastrous, and unfortunately an anagnorisis of a lost chance for change will sweep the minds of those who writ the destiny of Sri Lanka by their very actions.

Mapping out those at fault cannot be done under one category. Firstly, there are those individuals that, without the ‘faculty of reason’ for consequence, are supporting a regime that seeps repressive nationalism in every action it has taken to date. As mentioned above, the nationalism witnessed in Sri Lanka is one that impedes the development of the island and is the harbinger of injustice. Secondly, those that twirl in their world of apathy, pull off the blindfold, listen and give your voice to what is happening in the country and take informed political action, because believe it or not, your interest, your voice and finally your vote is vital for the advancement of the country. The development of the national economy nurtured by the global economy, the focus on wages, living standards and employment should be part of any political plan. We might be making some progress towards quelling the obvious evil of the LTTE, but we have to consider the costs and realise that another evil is growing, and what is terrifying is that this ‘malaise’ is closer to us, it governs us.

Maybe one day, a vibrant and purposeful leader will be able to say that the ‘winds of change’ are blowing across Sri Lanka.

There is always hope.

  • Ekcol

    Democracy in Sri Lanka has failed. In places like Sri Lanka where one linguistic community is more than two-thirds if the whole, and communities that vote on ethnic lines, a constitution approved by a two third majority is in reality is a constitution of the majority community. Sri Lanka’s 1972 and 1978 constitutions and its amendments are examples. Communities that are less in number in such a state become second class citizen in the process of assimilation.

    It is not the fault of the Sinhala community. It is the fault of those who spread one person one vote democracy as the best form of government in all circumstances. It is said, “Give a kid a hammer and he will hit everything in site.” That is exactly what Britain did to Sri Lanka. It worked in countries where ethnic communities were many and more or less in equal proportion. They did include the Section 29 and the law that put the Privy Council as the final judicial process. But there were no external coerceive force to enforce the violation of the Section 29 protection or the recourse to the Privy Council.

    Tamils are paying for the fault of the British, who have washed their hands off. Tamils have no option but to take up arms to regain their independence they lost. This is the heart of the problem. Any solution should empower Tamils with the coerceive force to prevent the majority repeating 1956 and 1972, and to stop the 1958, 1977 and 1983 Genocide. Tamils will never ever put their safety in the hands of another. This has nothing to do with whether the LTTE is evil or not.

  • Sie.Kathieravaelu

    Having all these memories, it is humbly requested that action has to be taken by the people themselves to see that things of this nature are not repeated.

    We have to move towards solutions rather than continue to express or analyze the problem. Taking note that the happenings cannot be reversed we will have to devise ways that will not allow such things happening again.

    So let us move towards constructive common action.

    to start with, lets aim for a change of heart, not just change of mind. Lets us start a dialogue within a group of nearly self minded people to agree on suggestions for a change in the system of governance that would safeguard against such disasters and then allow the group to grow further beyond sharing and understanding to transforming participants.

    While the process begins with the individual it eventually involves groups and institutions. Ultimately, dialogues can affect how policies are made.

    A search for solutions focuses on the common good, as participants are encouraged to broaden their horizons and build relationships outside their comfort zones.

    Anyone willing to part-take in this idea can start a group on their own either in the Yahoo or Google and allow others to join.

    I will be a willing participant and enthusiast.

    you can contact me at

    Sie.Kathieravaelu

  • Surely, the government of Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese have failed to run this island and it is now a miserably failed state.

    Post colonial history of our island has unambiguously recorded that Colombo had been the symbol of deception, dishonesty, trickery and unwillingness to implement agreements and legislations to grant rights to Tamils.

    Appropriate attitude and actions are vital for successful completion of any peace talks anywhere in the world. Because of three main political reasons it would be impossible for any sensible person to believe that an appropriate climate now exists in Sri Lanka(SL) for succesful peace talks leding to peace.

    Firstly, the majority of Sinhala politicos and the populace are not yet educated enough to respect the legitimate right of Tamils to rule themselves in the North East (NE).

    Secondly, Most of the Sinhalese have arrogantly fallen in a collective swoon for war in the NE. Trapped in the war, they have defiantly turned their back on the UN and the International Community, instead of partnering with them to obtain valuable expertise, to successfully hold peace talks to completion and implementation.

    Thirdly, rather than regard the TNA and the LTTE as threat to the island, the present GOSL should have recognised that working with them would solve the Tamil problem. Such realisation was absent before trumpeting for war in the NE and abrogating the CFA with flimsy excuses.

    All these happened because true political leadership, visualising the future good of all the citizens ceased to exist in 1956. To this day, there is no leader capable of solving any islandwide political problem affecting the rights and freedoms of all the citizens. All peace talks failed since 1956 for this reason.

    On the other side of the continuum, for the majority of Tamils and the UN, peace talks is a less appealing proposal than justice for human rights violations and war crimes.

    Under Mahinda Rajapakse’s watch, his soldiers were beating, bombing, raping, torturing, arresting, disappearing, displacing and murdering Tamils in the NE.

    The nature of rights violations and the techniques employed by the soldiers in the NE make Radovan Karadzic of Bosnia look like a good guy.

    For Tamils in the NE, the human rights violations represent dead loved ones and nightmares that will always haunt them. The incidents are leaving irreparable scar in their minds, preventing them from seeing ahead anything other than Tamil Eelam.

    Though the underlying philosophy of democracy is justice, state interference in favour of the crimes of soldiers has made judicial process non existent for war crimes in the NE.

    Peace and reconciliation are possible only through the filter of justice. As internal justice is impossible in the NE, we should request the UN to send Human Rights Monitors to report incidents of “no justice”, if we desire human dignity and peace to all in our island.

  • Chaminda

    Firstly, the majority of Sinhala politicos and the populace don’t believe in the concept of a mono-ethnic state within the Island encompassing more than a third of the country ruled by a murdering cult god claiming to represent 10% of the population. The majority, unlike the thugs who perpetrate ethnic violence, want to live with their neighbors of may races like they do in Kandy and Colombo. They are not ready to hand over a large part of the country to a small sect of the Tamils while the majority of Tamils live with them happily in the rest of the country

    Secondly, Most of the Sinhalese have meekly realized that the only option is to eliminate the LTTE and open a window for a negotiated settlement. After a series of attempts at negotiations, the Sinhala and their democratically elected representatives have realized that the LTTE a. does not represent the people they claim to, and b. don’t give a hoot about anything else but war. There can never be peace as long as the LTTE exists in its current form with its current leader.

    Thirdly, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission recorded 3006 violations of the ceasefire by the LTTE compared to the 174 violations by the government. So who abrogated what ceasefire?

    So Mr. Thambipillai your western rhetoric based on your key board antics in Sydney don’t really hold water in the reality of war in Sri Lanka. Don’t be under the illusion that you or your second generation Monash educated Tamil brethren have a clue as to the real suffering your extended family has endured in the north and east. Your university discussion groups and your bar room politics are just that, nothing more. You are looking for a Mandela amongst your people, but, any Mandela that ever was among the Tamils was unfortunately killed by your friends the LTTE.

  • Chaminda,

    I can see that you are one of the strongly brainwashed products of the Sinhala cult, unwilling to accept reality, believing that Sinhalese can continue with the imperial behaviour, treating the Tamils as subjects, in this world of freedom justice and democracy !!

    Coming back to your points;

    Firstly, you base your demand for the NE on percentage population. According to your argument, China can occupy Sri Lanka saying that their land is not enough for their population !!

    Tamils had NE as their homeland when Britain colonised the island in 1815. What Tamils demand now is their legitimate land at the time of colonisation, which will not be a monoethnic state as you falsely portray, which the Sinhalese have forcibly grabbed from them and are occupying militarily. The whole world accepts this truth except the Sinhalese, whose brains have not yet grown to grasp this principle. We are not expecting anybody to give us our land and our rights, which we know people like you will never like to give up but enjoy. We want the world to do it looking at decolonisational justice.

    Ask the Tamils in Colombo and Kandy in confidence as to whether they enjoy life there. They live their out of necessity not out of love for the area and the Sinhalese living around them.

    Even if a single Tamil asks for Tamil Eelam, his right to his legitimate land should be recognised. This will appear as philosophy to your small thinking. Whether he wants to be ruled by a cult god or a Mandela is his choice. This is political science, which I hope you comprehend.

    Secondly, the Sinhalese are foolishly believing that the LTTE could be eliminated by military means. IPKP thought of the same thing and they even said that LTTE was eliminated when they left Sri Lanka in 1980’s. What is the reality?

    Sinhalese contradict themselves when they say that LTTE has no support and when they brand TNA as a proxy of the LTTE. When you say that, don’t you realise that the masses who voted TNA to power are LTTE supporters?

    Yesterday I realised that LTTE also has massive support in Tamil Nadu. It is time you wake up to reality.

    Thirdly, if Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission recorded each of the Tamil houses occupied by the army as a single violation of the CFA, Sri Lanka would be the worst violator. But that truth is not considered by you in your argument.

    It would be better for you to do more research, if you can, to know where the Sinhalese stand in violations. Above all seek the truth and do justice.

    .

  • nihal pathirana

    Tamils never had their home land in the NE when british captured ceylon in 1815 for information of sam he should read Robert Knox who was captured by the soldiers of kandy king at koddiyar bay in the present Trincomalle district which i visited this location as a surveyor. Had their been a tamil kindom in the NE surely he would have been taken to Jaffna not to kandy.The LTTE in their rat holes started new tactic with fellows like you uttering biggest load of incomprehensible lies against the Sinhalese it will never going to be better for their cause in the eyes of the whole world but would exposed their duplicities and mendacities.Srilnkans are not responsible for world Tamils not having a country thanks to Sri Jawahar Lal Nehru outlawed the Tamil seperatism in South
    India and its tentacles moved into jaffna even before independence. July 1947 SJV Chelvanayagam at Trincomalle proposed the merger of Tamilnadu to Tamil state in ceyoln to india from the Sinhala enemies.

  • Nihal Pathirana

    I can understand your view as a surveyor, who probably studied in Sinhala medium. Surely, you were taught politics to see it with Sinhala bias. No one will ever be able to take out “Sinhala logic” from anybody who has faced such a situation..

    Your logic is absolutely wrong. If a person did an offence against Kandyan Kingdom, he would be sought by the Kandyan king and his men, not others.You and I do not know what verbal treaties the Kandyan king had in using the Trincomalee Port, belonging to another kingdom. The offender was captured and returned where he was wanted, is the truth.

    I am glad you speak of Jaffna kingdom but silent about Vanni Kingdom, Anuradhapuram kindom and Polonnaruwa kingdom where Tamil kings ruled. Further, the last king of Kandy was from India and his wife bore the Tamil name Rengamma. Even the surrender document of Kandy was signed in Tamil. So, even Kandy was ruled by Tamils !! But I do not say Kandy to be Tamil homeland !!

    Even if Tamils did not have any kingdom, Tamils lived in those areas even before Sinhalese came to the island. The British High Commissioner admitted last year that Tamils had their homeland when they captured the island.

    A homeland is what a person calls his home. Sinhalese of the South never called North East their home. Their home was always the South. They bomb and destroy NE and kill the people there now, because it is not their home, it is somebody else’s home.

    Ceylon was a dominion under Britain till 1972, when the South unilateraly declared a Sinhala Buddhist republican constitution, Tamils of NE did not participate. Tamils, in defiance, passed Vaddukoddai resolution in 1976 and by self referendum in 1977 elections, opted for a sovereign state to be created in their homeland. More than 65% Tamils of NE voted for a separate sovereign state. Britain should have helped in the formation of Tamil Eelam. If Pakistan was made a different country, Tamil Eelam should have received the same treatment. But Britain was silent probably because the Queen liked Ceylon Tea plucked by Tamils for her breakfast !!

    It is the Tamils and not the Sinhalese who were wrong for not taking timely action to have their own country. The Sinhalese used the dirty game of “buy out of Tamil leaders” and made sweet assurances for self rule and made Tamils not seek independence for their country.

    SJV was the only true Tamil leader who exposed the deceptive tactics of the Sinhala politicos. Today we realise that to be the absolute truth.

    The world knows what is justice. Let us wait till Obama of the USA wins the election followed by a change in Indian government. Let us not hurry. Let us wait and watch.

  • “Even if a single Tamil asks for Tamil Eelam, his right to his legitimate land should be recognised.”

    That is utter rubbish. I do NOT have the right to secede my property from the state just because I own said area. Property rights are removed from sovereignty.

  • nihal pathirana

    Sam my studying in sinhala or tamil medium is not the question, atleast now you talk of verbal treaties of the then kandyan kingdom had with other kindoms all over the world which you and i do not know the fact remain is
    that he was a prisner under kandyan kindom escape through mannar during the Dutch period. I have heared a Vanni kandyan Chieftian known as wanni Bandara fought with the british in the north of Madu in a battle and was killed. Iam not a historian neither have any links with politicians or politics.

    I have studied about old irrigation systems and tanks in ceylon. All what i know is buddhist civilisation is based on hydraulic civilisation the wewa dagaba the village and the temple, this is still seen where ever in srilanka from north to south and east to west. The one inch to one mile maps produced by the survey department in the north and eastern provinces still has remnents of buddhist heritage which no one cannot destroy as ground evidence,although you all have destroyed most of it.The archeological deparment has already started this work in the eastern province excavating historical sites of civlisation.

    Sinhala kings were master builders of irrigation tanks, massive tanks kaudulla, parakrama samudra, minneriya north central and kantale in the eastern province have a well recorded history, can you give us information about the irranamadu and other major history of this tanks north and northwest so that all the readers for their easy reference and information,

    Sam in our history there are many south indian invasions anuradhapura pollonnnaruwa. where they destroyed sinhala buddhist culture its only for a short time even the north was ruled by sinhala kings.The great Parakrmabhahu 1153AD united lanka into one and ruled till 1186AD. He constructed 163 major tanks 2373 minor tanks all over the country.It is the Zenith of hydraulic civilisation There were many great kingsof our country,who fostered and devolped the art science of irrigation engeeneering down the ages., the greatest were king Vasabha(65AD),Mahasen(275AD) Datusena(459AD)Moggallana(531AD)Aggabodhi(608AD). the hydaulic civilsation is link to wewa dagaba and the village temple, this is recorded history.I would like to know the hydaulic civlisation of the nothern province. well i have worked in the eastern province for nearly twenty years and knows each every inch of that land.

    I agree with Chaminda what he has said that you have killed all the Mandelas there is no one to take his place.Madela fought for justice when he became president he disolved all the homeland in his country as he knows that ethinic boundaries create more problems and formulated a constitution where people have a right to live where they like, not like the thesawalame law you all advercate in the north.

    You have killed the greatest son of india,and india will never forgive you for this crime and does not want a Tamil eelam in their back yard as Ltte is is working with the western oriented formula which India knows very well.
    V balakumaran a adviser to prabhakaren once said at the world fedrartion of tamils there is a tamil in every state but there is no state for tamils, if tamils cry for sepration is given up the two communities could solve their problems and continue live in aminity and dignity as they lived before