The Politics of Winning in the Vanni

Fascists launch a final surge before they lose wars. The Kamikaze pilots were a last card against the US fleet. The Nazis developed the Tiger tank, launched the V-1 and V-2 rockets and fought the Battle of the Bulge in the closing stages of the war, when they had already lost in the strategic sense. The battle of Iwo Jima is the classic model of a fanatical, suicidal, dug-in fighting force defending its home turf against a final onslaught. It was the toughest possible going but the US Marines won.

It is only to be expected that the Tigers would offer the stiffest possible resistance in their Ithiyabhoomi or ‘heartland’. In their best case scenario they would turn Kilinochchi-Mullaitivu into a meat-grinder and then launch tactical counteroffensives which could develop into strategic ones, reversing their losses. In a more modest scenario, they would simply hold on until the combination of casualties, propaganda about IDPs, international and regional political developments (USA and India), and economic pressures would cumulate in Colombo agreeing to negotiations.  

The Tigers strategy containing these two scenarios can be defeated by a combination of superior thinking and planning, strategy and tactics, resources and performance, and political and military will. Finally it comes down to a clash of wills: whose “will to power” shall prevail? That of the side that strives to re-unify the country, defeating those who want to divide it? Or that of those who seek to retain their shrinking tyranny, the despotic kingdom they have carved out on this island?

While the LTTE’s resistance and the ensuing SLA casualties are only to be expected, every single SLA casualty and every single day the Tigers gain, have four sources of causation. These are:

  1. The LTTE’s own intrinsic motivation, efforts and strength. Some of this strength derives from collective emotions that are “pathological” to use Professor Richard Falk’s term to classify certain extremist insurgencies.
  2. The policies of unilateral appeasement of the UNP administration during the CFA which permitted the Tiger buildup and accumulation of assets including their air arm, and enabled the LTTE to eliminate the SLA’s intelligence gathering Tamil assets in the Wanni.
  3. The policies of the SLFP’s liberal Rightwing which cut into military recruitment by a unilateral peace drive at a time the war was on – the Sudu Nelum campaign. The plans for excessive devolution such as the “union of regions packages” of 1995 and 1997 provided the space for a Sinhala chauvinist backlash, which would otherwise not have taken off since the UF government was fighting the Tigers and had liberated Jaffna. The SLFP’s Rightwing liberals tilted against Karuna during the split, permitting the Tigers to make a sea landing in the rear of the Karuna rebels. They picked up where the UNP’s CFA and the LTTE’s ISGA left off and agreed on the PTOMS which was to be headquartered in Kilinochchi and gave the Tigers more representatives than the GOSL in its operationally vital second tier.
  4. The Sinhala chauvinist caucuses which have prevented the reforms which would have secured the necessary military assistance for us from the regional power, and helped us avoid the soft sanctions on military equipment from other quarters. The Tigers’ Wanni resistance could be more swiftly overcome with force multipliers such as real time satellite intelligence and sophisticated firepower. The Sinhala racists have given and are giving the Sri Lankan state, government and worst of all our war effort, a certain profile, or to put it plainly, a bad name. Their policies bring no external support from any quarters or corner of the globe, but impede support from almost everywhere. Our soldiers in the waterlogged Wanni pay the ultimate – arguably avoidable–price.

We have been fighting this war for over a quarter century. It has been hampered by two opposing compulsions typified in two sets of lobbies. On the one hand, the liberals, NGOs, and INGOs who de-motivated the military through programmes such as Sudu Nelum, sustained policies of appeasement and provided the loopholes that enabled the Tigers to strengthen themselves with the support of the Tamil Diaspora. On the other hand the Sinhala cultural conservatives, religious fundamentalists and majoritarian chauvinists who have cost the Sri Lankan state and military a very considerable degree of external economic and material support.

Had the chauvinists (KMP Rajaratne’s JVP, LH Mettananda’s BJB and the EBP), not succeeded in imposing Sinhala Only in 1955-56 and frustrating the Bandaranaike -Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957, and their successors (VW Kularatne, Nath Amarakone and the Sinhala Tharuna Sanvidanaya) not succeeded in pushing for district and media-wise standardization at university entrance in the early 1970s, there would have been no powerful Tamil separatism, we would not be fighting for the Wanni today, and would instead be players, sharing in the Asian economic renaissance. 

Had the Sinhala chauvinists in President Jayewardene’s Cabinet (Cyril Mathew) not contributed the ideological fuel for the conflagration of 1983 (see the SCOPP’s new book Lest We Forget: The Tragedy of July 83), India would not have tilted against us and the fanatical Tigers would not have greatly surpassed the more flexible and political groups such as the PLOTE and EPRLF.

Had the chauvinists not insisted on the inclusion of the religious lobbies in the All Parties Conference of 1984 and had those lobbies not objected to Annexure C proposed by Indira Gandhi’s Special envoy G Parthasarathy, we would not have had to pay the huge price three years down the road, of Indian intervention aborting Operation Liberation, the presence of 70,000 peacekeepers on Sri Lankan soil, and a Southern Civil war. (My 1982 lecture at Fr Balasuriya’s Centre for Society and Religion, published in the 1984 volume by the Committee for Rational Development [CRD] entitled ‘Sri Lanka’s Ethnic Conflict: Myths, Realities and Perspectives’ clearly predicted such an external intervention by the regional power).    

Had the violent Southern chauvinists of the late 1980s, who are the leaders of today’s parliamentary chauvinist vanguards, not retarded the implementation of Indo-Lanka Accord (the 13th amendment went before the legislature a year after the signing of the Accord), Delhi would have felt less constrained by the Tamil Nadu factor in unleashing the full power of the IPKF against the Tigers. That unleashing took place only in late 1988, precisely to create the environment for Provincial council and later the presidential elections. 

After 9/11, Sri Lanka lost out because of both the ultra-liberals and their polar opposite the hard-line racists. President Kumaratunga opined to audiences in London and Delhi that terrorism cannot be dealt with by military means but that the root causes had to be addressed instead. She should of course have said “by military means alone” or “by purely military means”, and argued for a twin track policy which addressed the root causes — but she didn’t. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesingha did worse, using platforms in Washington DC and New York to draw a distinction between “local terrorism” and “internationalism terrorism” and exempting the Tigers from the latter category and charge.

Similarly and simultaneously, had the Southern chauvinists not blocked President Chandrika’s Equal Opportunities Bill and the Draft Constitution of August 2000 (the latter was a great improvement on the ultraliberal 1995-97 packages), Sri Lanka’s international profile would have been infinitely better as we faced the LTTE.

In my 1995 book Sri Lanka – the Travails of a Democracy, pertinently subtitled Unfinished War, Protracted Crisis, I pointed out that the Tigers fight a total war while all their opponents -Sri Lanka and India-fight a limited war. That book was written out of the gratification and frustration of working for and with President Premadasa, in the worthy cause of his project of patriotism and growth with equity. The Tigers fight to win, while we, their enemies fought to drive the Tigers to the negotiating table. It is this asymmetry which was the principal reason that forestalled victory. (That book was culled out of a mountain of memoranda in which I had argued against such a strategy and in favor of a war-winning one).

Presidents Premadasa and Kumaratunga didn’t fight to win because they did not believe that victory was possible. That weakness of perspective damaged the credibility of the enlightened multiethnic multicultural discourse of the two presidents. President Jayewardene did want to win the war but could not have, because he had de-legitimized his government by holding a referendum instead of a parliamentary election, strengthened Tamil separatism by permitting the July ’83 pogrom to go unchecked, and isolated Sri Lanka by deviating from its Non-aligned foreign policy and alienating its great neighbor India. 

We are fortunate in that today, at last, we have a President and a Prime Minister who are determined to win the war, to defeat the Tigers. A war however cannot be won by military means alone. Had the Sinhala chauvinist pressures not reinforced Tamil maximalist conspiracies, more countries would have got off the fence and helped us in this decisive battle for the Wanni.

Unfortunately we have been unable to capitalize fully on the LTTE’s dreadful reputation as one of the world’s worst terrorist organizations, and our own reality as a durable if flawed democracy and market economy of long standing. This is because our own image — not least in the neighboring capital– has been tarnished for decades, by the Sinhala chauvinist fringe. Our ethical and moral standing as a state and society have been damaged by the fundamentalists. The unfolding and outcome of the recent challenge to the higher judiciary may decide whether Sri Lanka will be perceived as a de-facto theocracy, in which activists or activist clergy of one religion enjoy impunity. 

What will be the outcome of this war? What is the post war deal we are offering the Tamils? What are the guarantees against discrimination that we are willing to put in place? The best we can do for our military fighting in the Wanni is for our political leadership to be supported in maintaining the resolute political will need to push on to victory whatever the difficulties, and also be socially and politically permitted to answer the above questions in an enlightened manner, loud and clear, before regional and international audiences. 

Had Abraham Lincoln not been determined to win the war against the secessionists-not propel them to the negotiating table — he would have been unable to push through the emancipation of the slaves. Conversely, it must be understood that had he not emancipated the slaves, he would not have been able to cut the ground from under the Southern confederacy and hasten the victory over secessionism.  Sri Lanka has been unable to strike that balance and arrive at that dialectical synthesis.

Thus the cumulative efforts of the lobbies-the appeasers who facilitated the  LTTE’s strengthening and those who forestalled the devolutionary and anti-discriminatory reforms which would have secured us more firepower from our friends and neighbors- are helping the Tigers in their lair and making our military’s job that much more difficult where it could have been made easier. 

The strength of the opposing lobbies of unpatriotic appeasement on the one hand and chauvinism and fundamentalism on the other; the fact that these lobbies succeed in blackmailing or hijacking the mainstream parties and administrations, point to a basic weakness in our political system and underlying society. Ranil Wickremesinha organizationally affiliated his party with the global Right, the International Democratic Union headed by the US Republicans and UK Conservatives. The real question is why– given especially the moderate pragmatic nature of public opinion as reflected in polls – has our social and political mainstream been unable to produce a mass based liberal-democratic party such as the US Democrats? Why have we been unable to produce a mass based social democratic party such the British Labour Party? Why is there no progressive, secular-centrist mass party such as the Congress Party of India? Why is there no Marxist Left such as that on the subcontinent (India, Nepal) and why was there never such a Left? 

Why are our modernist cosmopolitans unpatriotic and unconcerned about national security, while our patriots are parochial and chauvinist? In a recent book which he was kind enough to mail me, Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus at Princeton, draws a distinction between “tribal patriotism” – which he condemns– and “cosmopolitan patriotism”-which he commends. As our thoughts are with our troops on the dark night before the final bitter battles, we should commit ourselves to the construction of such a “cosmopolitan patriotism” or “internationalist nationalism” (as I prefer to call it), on the morning after victory.

(These are the personal views of the author)

  • Darren Sinclaire

    I agree with the author. While the hard line image of our current government has helped in driving the war effort, as the business end of the war is coming near an end we need to re brand the government as one that is reaching out to the crashed and burned civilians of the North.
    The tipping point of this war won’t necessarily come with a “shock and awe” type invasion into the Wanni or even a guerrilla/commando type infiltration by the Army but by offering an incentive that is good enough to say this is enough!
    Yes we need the military to take out the hardliners that won’t budge – the Kamikazis. But there is a significant demographic within the Wanni that will abandon the LTTE (defection) if we offer the right “pie” – I am yet note sure of the secret formula for this. Let’s just hope we can achieve this and minimise casualties.

  • Sen

    It is wise to have two federal states in one island.

    United States of Ceylon ( USC )


    United States of Srilanka ( USS )

    * Tamil state and Sinhala state wil have their Prime Ministers and Only one Single President.

    Each PM is elected by their state people.

  • poojitha

    Good idea, this must be implemented after thwarting terrorists

  • http://- Sarwan

    The author of this article fails to realise that they are terribly and quickly losing their war with LTTE tha expected. Casualties on the army side and injured were about a 1000 for the month of August says the Prime minister.

    When South Africa lost the battle at Cuite Cuandavale in Angola and saw the number of their white soldiers dead and injured, the president of South Africa felt for his people. He decided that none of his people should die any more and called for an end to the War.

    But the president of Sri Lanka is enjoying the blood bath of his soldiers. He does not care for the lives of these poor soldiers. Let them die in large numbers but let me continue with the war till I lose, is his horrible attitude.

    This is a type of genocide of the Sinhalese by the president himself. When he carries out genocide of Tamil civilians the Sinhalese keep quiet. But now it has come to their doors.

    Pride and arrogance destroys a people. Sinhalese will face more humiliation by way of defeats and deaths as time passes by. But the war mongers like the writer of this article will bloow the trumpet to destry more Sinhalese and Tamils.

    Very soon the Sinhalese soldiers will refuse to fight. Sinhalese civilians will rise up against these distasteful genociders and throw them away fom power. I am waiting for that day !!!

  • realskullzero

    Couldnt agree more…the two extremes that prevail..or influence our politics prevents us from taking the necessary full measure against the war..or for that matter the whole ethnic problem…..

  • The Under Dog

    It is unjust and cynical to point the finger at peace-loving liberals and accuse them of being responsible for SLA casualties, while at the same time absolving the warmongers who ask our troops to fight (and that includes fight-the-war-to-win Dayan). “There was never a good war or a bad peace” said Ben Franklin. This is especially true when our ‘enemy’ is made up in large part of pre-pubescent and adolescent forced-conscripts. And spare a thought too for the 300,000 civilians caught in the crossfire. Fighting this war is akin to shooting hostages. At some point we have to put the politics aside and agree that this is morally wrong. Is their suffering the fault of Prabhakaran and the hard core LTTE? Absolutely yes. Is it the fault of the Sinhala war mongers (Dayan included)? Absolutely yes. Is it the fault of the peace-loving liberals? Absolutely NOT! Please stop wiping your bloodied hands on us.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    Dear sarwan,
    Its Cuito Cuenevale, not Cuite Cuandavale. its on the angola -namibia border. the battle took place in 1988. the south african were defeated by a combined force of the angolan MPLA and the Cuban volunteers, commanded from across the seas by Fidel himself. the Cubans used their MiGs and tanks to excellent effect. the Tigers have no Migs, no Cubans and no Fidel. i have studied Fidel and his battles in every detail. my book on Fidel has been given by him for translation into spanish by the Council of state. there is not the slightest comparison with the LTTE. prabhakaran is no Fidel. he’s fought since 1972 and could not even retain jaffna! Fidel fought for 2 1/2 years and liberated cuba which is much larger than sri lanka! when prabhakaran addressed the media conference in the wanni in 2002 the world saw how inarticulate, how bankrupt of ideas, how utterly unread and illiterate he was. Fidel would have held the audience spellbound.

  • Ajith

    Sarwan is a typical keyboard warrior, LTTE propagandist who does not really feel for or understands “his?” people. Yet alone understand the ground reality. I admit I don’t know it accurately either but to make the statement in first paragraph – I don’t think he is qualified. Thus simply echoing pro LTTE biased media and extremist attitudes. Most independent media claim that the ball is currently in the SLA side – including military analysts.

    Cannot compare our situation to South Africa. We’re not invading another country. We’re going after terrorists – extreme elements. LTTE is fighting a war with mostly force recruits and soon as their hierarchy is dissolved they’re more likely to stop fighting than the SLA soldiers. Either way Sarwans comments had nothing to do with the topic. Just another frustrated LTTE doner with the current situation. I hate to make assumptions but it’s written all over him.

    Now read below and think for your self what makes more sense.

    But the president of Sri Lanka Prabakaran is enjoying the blood bath of his soldiers cadres. He does not care for the lives of these poor soldiers forced conscripts. Let them die in large numbers but let me continue with the war till I lose, is his horrible attitude.
    This is a type of genocide of the Sinhalese LTTE by the president self pro-claimed leader himself. When he carries out genocide of Tamil Sinhalese and Muslim civilians the Sinhalese international community keep quiet. But now it has come to their doors.
    Pride and arrogance destroys a people. Sinhalese LTTE will face more humiliation by way of defeats and deaths as time passes by. But the war mongers lik

  • Ajith

    So no html posting.. Sorry the last bit of the previous post is meant to read like this.

    But [the president of Sri Lanka] Prabakaran is enjoying the blood bath of his [soldiers] cadres. He does not care for the lives of these poor [soldiers] forced conscripts. Let them die in large numbers but let me continue with the war till I lose, is his horrible attitude.

    This is a type of genocide of the [Sinhalese] LTTE by the [president] self pro-claimed leader himself. When he carries out genocide of Tamil Sinhalese and Muslim civilians the Sinhalese international community keep quiet. But now it has come to their doors.

    Pride and arrogance destroys a people. [Sinhalese] LTTE will face more humiliation by way of defeats and deaths as time passes by. [But the war mongers like the writer of this article will bloow the trumpet to destry more Sinhalese and Tamils.]

  • David Blacker

    Also, there seems to be this distinct habit of LTTE apologists to constantly compare the LTTE, its leadership, the GoSL leadership, and the ethnic conflict to historical organizations, characters, and incidents. So every civilian death is a “holocaust”, or a “genocide”, or a “Rwanda”. Prabha is comparable to Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat, Nelson Mandela, or Mother Theresa. MR is Adolf Hitler, Slobodan Milosovic, or George Bush. The LTTE is the Civil Rights Movement, the ANC, the Twelve Disciples, and so on.

    Is there not enough substance to stand alone. No one compared Hitler to anyone, or the Holocaust to anything else. Mandela didn’t have to stand on the shoulders of anyone either to be recognized for what he was.

    With each inane comparison, these apologists belittle both the great achievements and horrible crimes of these historical figures. To call Sri Lanka’s war a genocide is an insult to the millions of innocents killed in the Holocaust, and in Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, and Darfur, victims of a slaughter most Sri Lankan Tamils cannot even comprehend. It is also an insult to the NE Tamils themselves, who’s sufferings shouldn’t be made into a laughing point with such silly parallels.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    what do you expect any sri lankan administration to do when attacked? what do you expect any administration anywhere in the world to do when attacked? no bad peace? what do you call neville chamberlain and munich? no good war? what do you call the US war of independence, the civil war led by abraham lincoln, World War 2 against the fascists, the Vietnamese liberation war against US imperialism?

  • http://Nil nathan

    Why the ethnic conflict is so far unsolved is simple
    Unlike in other nations, in sri lanka, politicians come to power by any mens only to benefit themselves, their kith and kin, henchmen and bootlickers.
    So far sri lanka has not produced any statesman who stood for morality, social justice and equality of all citizens in deed not by mere word.
    Those who attempted this fell by the wayside, eliminated by the corrupt self serving polticians who always attempted to stay in power at any cost.
    This goes on even now.
    The corrupt formed governments, and their like migrated to join them to thwart any attempt to unveil their nakedness.
    People who shield them and try to justify their existence in power do so, so that their own existence is not threatened.
    The present head of state along with his brothers, relatives sidekicks & UNP migrants, has planned to enjoy power at any cost for another term at least.
    How the nation’s wealth is being squandered is known to all citizens.
    How the corrupt are being shielded is known by the people who dare not utter a word. The independent media are live in fear.
    The rank and file of the armed forces have been deserting in their thousands unwilling to die for their corrupt masters in the forces and in the polity.. Else the war would have been won long ago by the state.
    LTTE will fight to the last man to avoid the grim fate of being slaughtered in toto
    if it loses the war. If this happens, the fate of tamil civilians will be similar.

  • soosai

    Sure, sinhalese will feel proud when SLA has an upper hand. But do they care for Tamil civilians. Absoultely NOT. Will it affect the sinhalese in any way. You bet it will. Sinhalese concern or the lack of it towards Tamil civilians as of today will give birth to an Eelam state/nation. Just imagine, if LTTE has India/Chnia/Pakistan on their side. If that happens sinhalese will go, as we say in Tamil, Thundai kaanoam, thuniya kaanoam, meaning the sinhalese will go nuts.

    It is sad the Tamils are divided or i should should say, the sinhalese are clever in dividing the Tamils that way. But once the war is over by hook or crook, nakedness of sinhalese politicians will be exposed and eelam will be born for the miserable generation of tamils left behind. May God be with the suffering Tamils.

    If India continues to behave unconcerned for the sufferings of tamils at the hands of SLA’s merciless shelling of civilians, inidian tamils may never forget the injustice done to eelam tamils by the Narayanans, Dixits, and Menons. I wish Karunanidhi has the wisdom to fight for the suffering eelam tamils.

  • nandasena

    Nathan has said in plain English the state of affairs in Sri Lanka. Every body can see through Dayan’s “sugar coated english” his inner feelings. He simply wants the Tamils to be annihilated from this earth!! He is a war monger.

  • Ajith

    soosai is already declaring war on northern india in his subtle way! this is why i always believed deep down india doesn’t want to see the eelam. eelam will be a massive threat to indian sovereignty as the south indian tamils will definitely feel the eelam in them sleves. since rajiv ghandi – if they do, well.. they deserve what’s coming for them!
    also pakistan will never never suport the ltte as they see it as supported by southern india in a certain clandestine way. and u know pakistan hates anything india fuelled – in fact they have no hesitation arming sla. now that the ltte had a stab at their diplomats, they made another enemy for life. we all know anyway hindu/muslim mix is like well…leave u to ponder on it.
    china is too selfish to get involved. of course in future they would love to have bases in sri lankan depending on how the power balance may shift in asia, but ltte won’t be in the picture in a significant way by then.
    so soosai’s statement are just good for his own imagination.
    sinhalese didn’t do anything to divide tamils. it’s a known fact tamils are entrenched in their cast system so deeply and they see their own eastern brothers and sisters as second class (low cast) tamils. fairly enough eastern tamils gave the big FU to to prabakaran’s club.
    i just can;t understand whether some people are really this ignorant or just lack common sense.

  • Thiruchelvam

    Hello everyone, Firstly British divided the country by ethnic origins for their administration purpose. During that period small number of Tamils and Sinhalese worked with British and supported them to rule the county and lot benefited back from British. After the freedom in 1948, ruling power has changed to Tamils and Sinhalese leader who were working with British for ages. Tamil leaders realised that with majority of sinhala voted they never come to the power in Srilanka. They never tried to become national leaders with the support of majority Sinhalese but raised the issue of discrimination only because of Tamils. No such discrimination actually happened in the country. This deceased to Tamil youths in northern and eastern parts of the country and started to use arms against sinhala majority government. Unfortunately president Jayewardene’s foreign policy helped those Tamil groups to build up with the well planed help from India. We lost our golden opportunity to solve this problem during his ruling period because of his wrong foreign policy. Then LTTE came as an entire military organisation under it’s current leader by killing his very closed political friend like Uma Maheshwaran, Mahaththaya etc. LTTE has been used Tamil grievances to become a Terrorist organisation with large network in the world. Now LTTE is no more a Tamil political organisation but a brutal terrorist organisation killing all brilliant Tamil political heads, leaders and civilians without a reason.

    In this situation what is the best solution which can be implemented by the government? No government can go for negotiation talks with LTTE military power with well known past experience. They always used negotiations for killings, reorganise and equipped with new arms and technology. So the only temporary solution is dis-arm LTTE first and then go for a political solution.

    The biggest lie or misunderstanding is LTTE living with majority of Tamils. Today majority of Tamils live in south especially around Colombo with Sinhalese. Most of wholesale businesses are running by them in heart of the country. So who can say that Tamils can not live with Sinhalese?? If they face any security difficulty in the south, it is entirely because of LTTE activities. Today this terror group contains not only Tamils but also Sinhalese and Muslims giving big money to get terror activities done.

    India has a very good idea about current situation about Srilanka and they also support even with heavy resistance from Tamilnadu. India waiting for LTTE’s funeral and arms giving to start their investments in North and East. Then Pork street will be a very busy business port and fruitful for both countries specially for the people live in North.

  • wijayapala

    Dear The Under Dog,

    It is unjust and cynical to point the finger at peace-loving liberals and accuse them of being responsible for SLA casualties,

    I both agree and disagree. Dayan was quite clueless in blaming Sudu Nelum for the LTTE’s victory in Eelam War III. That blame falls squarely on the extraordinarily incompetent and corrupt Deputy Defense Minister Anuruddha Ratwatte and the President Chandrika Kumaratunge who placed him in that position. For Ratwatte and his ilk, the war was simply a money-making and political enterprise and it made no difference whether 1000s of soldiers got killed to feed his pockets. He blamed Sudu Nelum for his lack of leadership and it is a shame that Dayan has rather gullibly sucked it up. Chandrika made things worse by creating a command structure which encouraged dissension among the generals: OOC/CDS Daluwatte vs. Army Commander Gerry de Silva vs. Maj. Gen. Janaka Perera vs. Ratwatte etc.

    It is not enough to want to win. You have to be willing to establish priorities and make sacrifices. Mahinda must be aware that once the LTTE is destroyed, the fickle public will easily turn to the next important issue- the economy- where he has been a failure. Yet he is still determined to see this through to the end.

    Is their suffering the fault of Prabhakaran and the hard core LTTE? Absolutely yes. Is it the fault of the Sinhala war mongers (Dayan included)? Absolutely yes.

    This is the part where I totally disagree, to the extent that I would argue that the above line of thinking explains why the “peace-loving liberals” have no credibility among the Sri Lankan public and have been able to accomplish absolutely nothing. The “liberals” have a bizarre inability to distinguish between what the SL govt. is and what the LTTE is- ironically enough to make that “moral” distinction. An inability to comprehend that the main threat to the CFA and peace came not from the “Sinhala war mongers” but from the LTTE and its mindless supporters which contributed the overwhelming majority of the ceasefire violations.

    After the Karuna split it was clear to the LTTE that there would be no ISGA. The LTTE saw that it would gain nothing from P-TOMS after the Supreme Court ruled that certain parts of it were unconstitutional. From that time onward, it was the LTTE which wanted war even though the Tamils wanted peace. The LTTE got its war by making sure the creampuff Ranil did not win the presidential election, and then by pushing Mahinda into a corner through the Jaffna “shadow war” and then seizing the Mavil Aru anicut.

    For all the bleating of the “liberals,” the sad reality is that ***there would be no Sri Lanka without people willing to stand up to the LTTE*** If the “peace-loving liberals” demonstrated their utter impotency and cluelessness by twiddling their thumbs during the CFA, when the LTTE continued conscripting children and murdering dissidents like T. Subathiran in 2003 and K. Loganathan in 2006, can they really blame the “war mongers” for stepping into the void which they created?????

    A word of advice to the “liberals” out there, from a Spanish diplomat I had the pleasure of listening to: It is not impartiality that resolves conflict, but **credibility**.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Sarwan, nathan, soosai, and nandasena,

    You all have glaringly missed that Dayan has singled out Sinhala chauvinism as a barrier to peace in Sri Lanka. Like many other anti-LTTE activists out there, he is willing to acknowledge the problems within the Sinhala polity.

    Can you say the same for yourselves?? Do you have the ability to admit that the LTTE has made some very terrible decisions that have resulted in the mass suffering of Tamils and other Sri Lankans? That the Tamils would be much better off if Prabakaran or Pottu Amman tripped over a landmine one day?

  • http://- Sarwan

    The war that is being carried out by the GOSL is a genocidal war. This is being done to massage the anti Tamilism of the Sinhalese. This war is not a war on terrorism. It is a genocidal war.

    Dayan and his cohorts will continue to write.. write ,,, and write not realisisng what the truth is

    The truth is, that the GOSL is losing this war because it is no longer a war on terrorism but a war to exterminate Tamils. The UN knows it and the world knows it very well. It is only the “frogs inside the wells” in SL who do not know what this war is.

    The soldiers do not want to fight a genocidal war. They can never be motivated to do that. Therefore GOSL will lose this war with disgrace and Tamil Eelam will be formed soon.

  • The Under Dog


    ***there would be no Sri Lanka without people willing to stand up to the LTTE***

    Lovers of peace are often accused of being do-nothings and passive. The same accusation was thrown at Gandhi whose critics felt the British had to be overthrown violently; same was directed at Martin Luther King Jr., for discouraging tit for tat strikes at whites. Both were very successful in their peaceful resistance (in spite of massacres at the hands of the British in India, and killings by white politicians and police in Alabama)

    No one in their right minds would say don’t stand up to the LTTE. Peace lovers say stand up to them NON-VIOLENTLY. Big difference. In the SL context, that means treating Tamil citizens with respect, presenting real power devolution to the provinces, allowing free flow of goods to and from LTTE controlled areas, and marginalizing them internationally (meaning engaging the Tamil disapora in real conversation, extending an apology from the gosl for 60 years of post-independence racism, and showing that we are sincere about rectifying past mistakes, followed up by a request to please stop funding the LTTE; in addition, the IC can be persuaded to prevent funds from reaching the LTTE). Remember that Karuna parted company from the LTTE during peace time, not during war. There were rumours that Tamilselvam was also considering a split from Prabhakaran. Give the young Tamils in the north and east real opportunity and the temptation to join extremism has a much bigger cost. The above could have been done even as they struck us with claymore mines and took Mavil Aru. Our refusal to be tempted into a violent response would have strengthened our case with the Tamil diaspora and with the IC (we failed this test). Prabhakaran absolutely needed the war to unite his organization (it was falling apart ideologically during peacetime even as he became more powerfu militarily). Ultimately we can only really win when we win the ideological battle, not the military battle. We are fast losing the former because of the latter. It is still not too late to put the guns down. Hundreds of thousands of civilians will thank us for it. That is victory.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    Gandhi succeeded because British imperialism had a parliamentary democracy in its heartland, the UK. he wouldn’t have lasted day if he had tried the same tactics against the Nazis. The same goes for Martin Luther King: JFK supported him, as did LBJ. Prabhakaran will not support any peacful dissent, unless its against Colombo and the war effort!

    There were those who dissented peacefully from the LTTE or simply took another path politically, and they are all dead: Amir, Neelan, Rajini. So much for standing up to the Tigers pecafully.

    As for Karuna, his dissent was backed up with his guns and men and women under arms.

  • wijayapala

    Dear The Under Dog,

    Once again I should remind you that the name of the game is credibility. The problem with the “peace lovers” is **not that they loved peace** but rather that they lacked credibility. And they lacked the courage to act on their convictions (which says a little about how much they really “loved peace”).

    The same accusation was thrown at Gandhi whose critics felt the British had to be overthrown violently; same was directed at Martin Luther King Jr., for discouraging tit for tat strikes at whites. Both were very successful in their peaceful resistance (in spite of massacres at the hands of the British in India, and killings by white politicians and police in Alabama)

    Surely you’re not equating “Salt March” Gandhi or “Selma March” MLK Jr. with the seminar-sahib “lovers of peace” in Colombo????

    No one in their right minds would say don’t stand up to the LTTE. Peace lovers say stand up to them NON-VIOLENTLY.

    Then kindly tell us how the “peace lovers” had NON-VIOLENTLY stood up to the LTTE over the last several years?

    and marginalizing them internationally (meaning engaging the Tamil disapora in real conversation

    Far from marginalization, the ceasefire actually legitimized the LTTE right up through the Karuna rebellion (more on that below). The LTTE would kill people and conscript children, and European diplomats would mutter nervously that confronting the LTTE would threaten the peace process. Thanks to the cowardly posture of the “peace lovers,” the LTTE had successfully held the peace process hostage.

    You have to remember that unlike Tamils who actually live in Sri Lanka, the diaspora Tamils (and Sinhalese) do not have a great incentive to halt the war because they do not have the bear the costs of the war. The war is sufficiently far away that it can be treated like a cricket match.

    There was a highly similar phenomenon with the Irish-American supporters of the IRA. IRA members have actually admitted that Irish-Americans would not give financial support if the IRA did not kill someone. Attempts to engage this “Irish diaspora” were ineffective, and their negative influence was nullified only after the US govt began taking punitive steps to halt Irish-American fundraising.

    The EU banned the LTTE not because of the child soldiers or murders, but because the Tigers actually had the gall to fire on vessels carrying EU monitors. And even then, the Tigers are still fundraising in Europe and EU parliamentarians are still talking about “engaging” the LTTE even with the ban.

    The moral of the story is that no country can afford to place its security in the hands of other countries.

    Remember that Karuna parted company from the LTTE during peace time, not during war. There were rumours that Tamilselvam was also considering a split from Prabhakaran.

    I also remember that also Karuna parted company, Chandrika stood by while the LTTE decimated his forces and allowed the LTTE to reestablish itself in the east. The LTTE was still in the process of rebuilding itself by the Nov 2005 election, but it was strong enough to hold on for nearly a year thanks to the leeway provided by the “peace lovers.”

    The point is that only a “war mongering” govt could take advantage of something like the Karuna split. And the rumors about Thamilselvan defecting are totally false.

    Give the young Tamils in the north and east real opportunity and the temptation to join extremism has a much bigger cost. The above could have been done even as they struck us with claymore mines and took Mavil Aru.

    Is this some kind of joke?? The Mavil Aru incident was a **crisis**– something that demanded an IMMEDIATE response. Can you really explain any kind of “opportunity” that would’ve defused the Mavil Aru crisis or would’ve stopped the claymore mine attacks IMMEDIATELY??????

    The point I’m making is that by the time the Jaffna shadow war and Mavil Aru erupted, it was TOO LATE to resort to any “confidence-building measures” or other half-baked conflict resolution notions. These events marked the real death of the peace process and the **credibility of the peace lovers.**

    Ultimately we can only really win when we win the ideological battle, not the military battle.

    I suggest you read a book called “Children At War” by P.W. Singer. One of Singer’s arguments is that a benefit of using child soldiers is that you don’t need ideology.

  • wijayapala


    The war that is being carried out by the GOSL is a genocidal war.

    So you place due blame on the LTTE for starting this war, right?

  • nayad

    dayan, you example of gandhi is also useful to describe why the 30+ years of peaceful satyagraha protest by tamils got them nowhere.

    it is only when you have an “enlightened” oppressor that peaceful forms of protest are effective… an oppressor that is able to look inward and see the errors of its ways.

    the GoSL and the majority of the sinhala “south” are not enlightened and thus no form of peaceful protests, electoral political machinations, pork barrel politics or resorting to the corrupt sri lankan courts will result in a the political aspirations o the tamils being fulfilled.

    and as far as the various tamil “dissenters” – rajini was most likely the IPKF – she was highly critical of them and the rest. well, in war if you side with the enemy… well, you know what happened to the vichy french collaborators. i don/t approve, but war is hell…

  • punitham

    One would expect any UN representative to have the mindset of UDHR. Ooops, UDHR needs reform … even the international law has woken up to the reality of internal colonialism only in the last ten years or so. UN General Assembly has been dragging its feet in adopting the Convention on State Responsibility. But then turkeys don’t vote for Christmas?
    The bottomline is ethnic minorities around the world are simply at the mercy of their ethnic majorities.

  • punitham

    We should never havestopped pursuing satyagraha even after the 1961 satyagraha was squashed by the armed forces or at least after 1968 abrogation of Dudley-Chelva pact.

  • wijayapala


    We should never havestopped pursuing satyagraha even after the 1961 satyagraha was squashed by the armed forces or at least after 1968 abrogation of Dudley-Chelva pact.

    It seems you’ve noticed something that most of the Eelamists have missed. The Tamil leadership did NOT undertake a constant stream of nonviolent action from 1956 onwards, the way that Mahatma Gandhi or MLK Jr. did. The 1961 Satyagraha was more or less a one shot deal.

    Most Sinhalese don’t know that far from being united, the Tamils were highly divided between the federalists/separatists and those who had interests in Colombo and were therefore opposed to separatism. “Federalism” or at least a vague notion of it was something that could bring the Tamils together; for the separatists it was a halfway point, and for the Colombo Tamils it could serve as leverage to bargain for more power-sharing.

    That all ended in 1983 when the Colombo Tamils were brutalized, and the only option left available by the UNP govt. was separation.


    Operation Barbarossa and how not to count your chickens before they are hatched!

    Germany 1941

    The victory music was chosen in advance. “You’ll hear that often in the near future,” Adolf Hitler boasted to dinner guests one night in 1941 after playing on the Gramophone a passage from Liszt’s Les preludes. Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was optimistic as well.

    “The Fuhrer estimates that the operation will take four months,” he wrote in his diary. “I reckon on fewer.” At 5.30 on the morning of June 22, 1941, Goebbels had Les preludes played over the radio before announcing Germany’s surprise invasion of the Soviet Union that had begun two hours earlier. “A glorious, wonderful hour has struck, when a new empire is born,” he wrote in that day’s diary entry. “Our nation is making her way up into the light.”

    The assault kicked off 129 years to the day Napoleon launched his Grande Armee toward Moscow, the Germans had amassed one of the largest strike forces ever: more than 3 million troops along a 1,600 km front, supported by 3,350 tanks, 2,000 aircraft and 7,200 artillery pieces. Stalin refused to act on clear evidence of the buildup. “You can’t believe everything Intelligence says,” he chided his top generals in mid-June.

    Hitler erred as dramatically. He underestimated the Soviet Union’s resources, believing for example, that it had only 10.000 tanks, not the actual 24,000. More fatefully, Hitler’s racial delusions blinded him to the prowess of his foe. Slavs, he was convinced, were no match for Teutonic warriors, and the regime of “Jewish Bolshevism” could not withstand the coming blow. “You have only to kick in the door,” the Fuhrer explained to Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, the commander of Army Group South, “and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.”

    The fight to the death with the Soviets lasted not four months but four years – through the blood-drenched ordeals of Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad and Berlin with the ultimate defeat of the Germans.

    Sri Lanka 1995

    The Sri Lankan Governments 21,000 troops entered the Jaffna town. The Tamil capital had become a ghost town. Most of the roughly 10,000 fighters of the LTTE had melted away into the jungle. The majority Sinhalese expected the war to end with the fall of Jaffna. The LTTE relocated to the Wanni jungle and continued its fight for a separate state.

    In a survey taken before the Tigers broke the truce in April 1995, only 16 percent of Sri Lankans said they believed in a military solution to the country’s civil war. A follow-up poll taken by the same group, Mitofsky International after the capture of Jaffna found that 67 percent favoured a military solution.

    Sri Lanka 2008

    The war did not end in 1995 as predicted by Government pundits. It has raged on for more than 13 years since the capture of Jaffna. Now the Government says it is on the verge of capturing the LTTE stronghold Killinochi and ending the war. Yes, the Government might capture Killinochi in the near future, and then the Tigers will revert to hit-and-run guerrilla tactics, basing themselves in the Wanni jungle. The well known dictum of ‘War being a continuation of politics by other means,’ is been practiced to the fullest by the present government as they are unable to find a solution to the economic woes of the gullible majority. The majority, once again have been hoodwinked by the ‘War Carrot’ that the government has dangled towards them.

    What I can say to the Government of Sri Lanka, and the ‘Gullible Majority’ is, “Don’t count your chickens before their hatched!”

    The ‘Silent Minority’ of which I am one, believes that the only way there will be peace in Sri Lanka, is only if extensive power is devolved to the people living in the North and East.

    When the ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ is revoked, and there are no more ‘check points,’ and the armed forces are confined to their barracks with only the police handling the day to day law enforcement in the whole of Sri Lanka will be the day that we the ‘Silent Minority’ believe that the war has finally ended!

    Until then, “God help us all!”

  • David Blacker

    Chinthana, Operation Wacht am Rhein, and how to shoot your bolt at the last ditch.

    The Ardennes, December 1944.

    Germany’s last hope offensive against the western allies, was an attempt to capture Antwerp and bolster failing morale at home, while encircling the Allies and forcing them to a peace treaty.

    German dictator Adolf Hitler felt that his armies still might be able to defend Germany successfully in the long term, if only they could somehow neutralize the Western Front in the short term. Further, Hitler believed that he could split the Allies and persuade the Americans and British to sue for a separate peace, independent of the Soviet Union. Success in the West would give the Germans time to design and produce more advanced weapons (such as jet aircraft, new U-boat designs, and super-heavy tanks) and permit the concentration of forces in the East. This assessment is generally regarded as unrealistic, given Allied air superiority throughout Europe and the ability to intervene significantly in German offensive operations.

    Several senior German military advisors expressed their concern that favourable weather would permit Allied air power to effectively stop any offensive action. Hitler ignored or dismissed this, though the offensive was intentionally scheduled for late autumn, when northwestern Europe is often covered by heavy fog and low-lying cloud, to minimize the Allied air advantage.

    Both plans centered on attacks against the American forces; Hitler believed that the Americans were incapable of fighting effectively, and that the American home front was likely to crack upon hearing of a decisive American loss. There is no evidence that Hitler realized, or any of his military staff pointed out, that of all the major combatants, the United States was the least damaged and had the greatest restorative powers.

    After initial successes by Kampfgruppe Peiper and Otto Skorzeny’s special forces, the German offensive was stalled by fierce American resistance at Stavelot and Bastogne. Ultimately, the Germans ran out of fuel and had to abandon the offensive. German casualties are estimated at between 84,000 and 100,000. Germany lost its reserves and the Luftwaffe was irreparably broken. In less than a year, Hitler was dead and Berlin had fallen.

    A lopsided analysis of history, like a little knowledge, is a very dangerous thing, Mahinda.


    David… to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.
    Sun Tzu

    There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited.
    Sun Tzu

    You and your army might eventually capture Killinochi. Then what? The LTTE will then retreat to the jungle and continue their fight! You may have heard of the sinhala KFC pay off line, “Chicken wedda coretiyai!” There are hundreds of ways to destabilize the government…which the LTTE are past masters at.

    The fun begins after the capture of Killinochi!

    Like I said before,
    When the ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ is revoked, and there are no more ‘check points,’ and the armed forces are confined to their barracks with only the police handling the day to day law enforcement in the whole of Sri Lanka that will be the day that we the ‘Silent Minority’ believe that the war has finally ended!

    Until then, “God help us all!”

  • dayan jayatilleka

    I referred to the Ardenne in my opening para: the Battle of the Bulge. The fun wasw supposed to begin after the fall of jaffna. well the Tigers did win some impressive battles but they never re-took jaffna, the seat of their de-facto state. then the fun was supposed to begin after the liberation/capture of mavil aru. Then after the capture of the whole East. Then after the capture of Mannar. Well we’re still waiting. Mr Prabhakaran can take his stragglers and head into the jungle but the SLA has developed a fondness for jungle fighting and will keep him under pressure. The fact that it is currently quite willing to go into the jungles of the “heartland”, shows that there is no impenetrable jungle fastness for Prabhakaran to base himself in. We’ll keep on coming after him. Never forget that the Sri Lankan army, and the undergirding population base, are large enough for the state to be able to afford a long drawn, low intensity counterguerrilla war. It’ll be good on the job training for the army for as long as is necessary.

  • David Blacker

    As I said, Mahinda, lopsided analysis is a dangerous thing, of literature as much as history. The LTTE had the opportunity to have Eelam peacefully if they’d stuck to the CFA (or to subdue the enemy if you like), but they instead tried to win a hundred battles. Now they are struggling to win even one.

    No one chooses war willingly, protracted or not. But once you go to war, it’s foolishness to talk about peace. You can’t have peace AND war. The former will come after the latter, and the best you can do is to shorten the war by winning it as quickly and decisively as is possible and then get on with building a sustainable peace.

    Capturing Kili is just one goal of the war, a strategic objective. It’s not the be-all and end-all of this war. The destruction of the LTTE as an entity capable of garnering support and driving policy is the ultimate goal. There are many targets that need to be met to achieve this, and the capture of Kilinochchi is one of them. If the LTTE is broken as a cohesive force, its brass killed or driven into exile, and its troops destroyed and the remnants scattered into marauding gangs hiding in the jungle, and if the GoSL then hands over power to a Tamil led provincial administration, the LTTE will no longer be capable of destabilizing anything. Once cohesion is lost and the NE Tamils begin to rebuild, any attempt at destabilization will be met by resistance from the population itself. There will be no foreign governments to care, and the diaspora will go back to putting their kids through uni and getting on with the good life over there. The LTTE, will have to come out of the rain like the PIRA or be relegated to a fading thuggery like the Khemer Rouge. They’ll be fish out of water.

  • punitham


    1.Most Tamils supported federalism from 1956-1976.

    2.Most Tamils have been supporting separation from 1976.

    3.Though the pogroms of 1956,1958,1977,1981 and 1983 saw high ‘density’ destruction of Tamil lives and property, there has been continuous low-level human and material destruction at least from 1961 onwards, eg. the ‘occupying ‘ army in Jaffna – the troops travelling in trucks would throw stones into houses, would knock down pedestrians and cyclists and bump into private vehicles ”accidentally”. They routinely had iron bars sticking out in their trucks. One of my uncle’s friends got killed instantly in such an ‘accident’. If that was 60s I don’t have to go into anything later than that.

    4.Psychological ethnocide was going on in government workplaces for decades: get back to yapane, para damila, etc….

    5.When you read what Prof Johan Galatung and the like(and the federalist Sinhalese) say, you pinch yourself for even toying with the option of separation till you remember what happened even after 2002: the judges’ thuggish jokes on the last day of Bindunuwewa trial or the theatrics of APRC and CoI or the way the ministers castigate the UN officials.

    Peace talks(if you look at the ”PROCESS” of all the peace talks you can see they were done without any genuine desire for peace) come and go but there is absolutely no change in the structural violence that is at the root of the whole problem.

    When the whole government structure(as well as the parliament) is staffed mostly by racist Sinhalese what hope is there for any change in structural violence?

    Unless a true Sinhalese leader comes along.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    nayad, the whole debate about satyagraha versus armed struggle misses the point. satyagraha failed. and any audit of the situation of the tamil community after 30 years of armed struggle will show that it not only failed but was also counterproductive; retrogressive — certainly when continued after the indo-lanka accord of 1987.

    So what’s the answer? it so plain, one wonder why it is not discussed, and what that silence or absence signifies. the option was to have/is to use the sytem of proportional representation and competitive elections at all levels–parliamentary, provincial, and presidential — to secure maximum leverage and the best possible deal for the Tamils. However this presupposes an abandonment of both armed struggle and the Tamil Eelam dream.

  • amazing

    so, dayan, your answer is “the option was to have/is to use the sytem (sic) of proportional representation and competitive elections at all levels–parliamentary, provincial, and presidential — to secure maximum leverage and the best possible deal for the Tamils.”

    if it didn’t work in the past what makes you think it will work now?
    i KNOW you’re not as naive as that…
    you’re the “good cop” and gothabaya is the “bad cop”… and this allows mahinda to remain above the fray…

    but i KNOW that you KNOW that if the LTTE is finished off not even YOU will be able to contain mahinda and his crowd… look DEEP inside yourself man and i know you will know this… and they will cast you aside when they are done with you… hopefully, for you and your family, you have put some $$$ aside in a swiss bank account…


    David…”Nothing succeeds as planned!”

    Only time will tell if the rosy picture you paint about the GOSL completely defeating the LTTE succeeds!

    Until then…don’t travel by public transport, and beaware of bombs!

  • punitham

    Approaches to equity in post-Tsunami assistance. Sri Lanka: a case study(commissioned by the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery ), November 2006:
    ”Within several days of the tsunami, Trincomalee’s District Secretary echoed the practice of his counterparts in other tsunami affected districts by engaging with a range of local stakeholders to form a coordination task force. By February 2005, presidential instructions arrived, requiring the District Secretary to seek ministerial approval for each task force meeting, effectively replacing this body with a special Council for the Reconstruction of Trincomalee, which involved approximately 70 members and was headed by ministers based in Colombo.The Council’s creation compromised district coordination efforts while providing no effective alternative, with the new Council meeting fewer than three times over 2005. The example of the District Secretary, who was undermined in developing a standard coordination process that other districts were able to implement, contrasts sharply with Hambantota’s housing experience, where conventional bureaucratic norms and systems of accountability were set aside, allowing the district to respond comparatively faster in planning reconstruction.”


  • David Blacker

    Mahinda, the actual sentiment is “Not everything succeeds as planned.” There is a subtle difference that I’m sure you can grasp.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    could be true, but what’s the relevance? if the indo-lanka accord had been adhered to by prabhakaran, who had been given control of the interim council in Sept 1987, and had he not gone to war against the IPKF, none of this would have happened , becaue it could not have. what if the south ossetians had fought the russian peacekeepers, or the kosovans had fought NATO? they had the brains not to, but prabhakaran and those who cheered him on were arrogant fools.


    David read Good as Gold by Joseph Heller,

    “Nothing succeeds like failure” and … Nothing does succeed as planned and every good intention does go awry. …

    ps: So you better have a plan A, B and C…may be even a D,E and F as well! Don’t put all your eggs in the ‘war’ basket!

  • David Blacker

    Mahinda, we can both pull inane cliched quotes out of our backsides til the contextual cow comes home, but is there any point to that?

    And why do I have to have a war plan? I’m not running this war; I’m just an interested observer like you.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    funny that. I thought the guy who needed advice about not putting all his eggs in the war basket, was not david blacker but….velupillai prabhakaran.

    pity that prabhakaran ain’t into joe heller, or literature in general, unlike many guerrilla/liberation movement leaders.

  • Ajith

    “Until then…don’t travel by public transport, and beaware of bombs!” this is why i know LTTE will never succeed. Every time they resort to terrorism and killing innocent civilians they lose part of their battle. While I do not enjoy this short sightedness of the LTTE for the sake of innocent people, I rejoice in the fact that they push their ultimate goal further and further away by these actions. Fools destroy them selves.

  • wijayapala



    This is factually incorrect. Jaffna was fairly well-developed, and GG Ponnambalam had managed to build the N-E economy by participating in the first post-independence govt.- Valaichenai paper factory, KKS cement factory, and Paranthan chemical factory. Unlike the ITAK dimwits, Ponnambalam understood that the Tamil areas had to be economically developed before shrieking about self-determination (the DMK had a similar emphasis on economic development/industrialization).

    The Sinhala areas in Ruhuna, including Uva Province and many parts of Southern Province (from where the JVP got its members) were definitely more neglected than Jaffna.

  • wijayapala

    Dear amazing

    if it didn’t work in the past what makes you think it will work now?”

    There were no provincial govts before the war, and the first proportional representation election was in 1989. Neither of these had been tried before the war. You are slighly correct that PR elections would not help the N-E Tamils a great deal, since they are concentrated in that region and not spread out in the country like the Muslims.

    but i KNOW that you KNOW that if the LTTE is finished off not even YOU will be able to contain mahinda and his crowd

    There is a very bizarre notion among LTTE supporters and even among a few Sinhalese that LTTE violence is somehow preventing Sinhala violence against Tamils. As evidence they show that there haven’t been large-scale riots against Tamils for the past 25 years since 1983 (forgetting the fact that there had been no anti-Tamil riots in the 19 years between 1958 and 1977, or that there were anti-Tamil riots in Trincomalee two years ago).

    This argument completely neglects the fact that the Tamil suffering before 1983 was absolutely nothing compared to Tamil suffering since then. This war has devastated the Tamil population. The CFA was welcomed by the Tamils, but the LTTE was determined to return to war after seeing that it would not get the ISGA and total control over the N-E. The LTTE simply cannot exist without being at a state of war, regardless of how many Tamils get killed. The Tamils can only move forward after the LTTE leaves the picture.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    c’mon guys, the LTTE ain’t in any shape to contain anyone. they didn’t even contain JRJ. there are two factors/forces that do any containing : Delhi (’87) and democracy ( parliamentary balance, Supreme Court). on the other hand there has been no better justification/excuse for emergency rule than ….the LTTE. containment, huh?

  • dayan jayatilleka

    neglect of the N/E:

    Indian development funds and South Indian capital were poised to pour into the NEPC after the Accord, except for the fact that the LTTE went to war against the IPKF.
    Then again, huge monies were lined up at the Tokyo donor conference in April 2003, but the LTTE boycotted it.

    So, you wanna blame someone , go blame Prabhakaran.

  • amazing

    here we go again dayan, with your piecemeal approach to history:
    “huge monies were lined up at the Tokyo donor conference in April 2003, but the LTTE boycotted it”

    and why did the LTTE not come to Tokyo?
    hmmmm, let’s see, could it be because they were excluded from the Washington meetings? by design of the GOSL/US who knew they couldn’t come due to the ban.

    for the first time ever the LTTE in Oslo said “federalism” was on the table – and what was their reward? the US & GOSL held the next meeting in Washington DC so that they could set the scene/agenda for Tokyo without the LTTE present


    Punitham, you said “Unless a true Sinhalese leader comes along.” Thats just the point…they have ‘ALL’ been “True Sinhala Racist Leaders!”

    Probably the only chance for a lasting peace is if a “True Statesman” comes along and genuinely devolves power! For a “True Statesman” to be able to devolve power…the majority, or the “Buddhimath Janathaawa,” as they are called by the Sinhala politicians have to use their ‘Buddhiya’ and give their consent to devolve power!

    Otherwise the only option the Tamils will have will be, “If at first they don’t ‘SECEDE’….TO TRY AND TRY AGAIN!”

    Millions of years ago Pangaea gradually separated during the Mesozoic period into two smaller supercontinents, Laurasia in the north and Gondawanaland in the south, separated by the Tethys Sea in the east. Today we have North and South America, Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe ect. The number of countries have increased throughout the years…not decreased! If the majority don’t agree to devolving power, the North East will someday go the way of East Timor or Kosovo! All we in Sri Lanka have to look forward to in the future is more bloodshed! SO DEVOLVE POWER NOW!

  • dayan jayatilleka

    ah, but the sort of true sinhalese leaders you wish for , did come along. i worked with one of them. according to anita pratap’s books Island of Blood, she asked prabhakaran why h went to war against Preadasa when Preaadas was willing to give him the north and east on a silver platter. his answer to her was that he didn’t want the north and easy on a silver platter. that sinhala leader was blown up by prabhakaran. then came chandrika, who pushed for radical devolution in 1995, 1997 and 2000. she’s blind in one eye, thanks to prabhakaran. never mind sinhala leaders, let’s recall what he did to an indian leader who was enlightened enough to sponsor the thimpu talks in 1985, the proximity talks in bangalore in 1986 and the accord in 1987: prabhakaran assassinated him!

    ok, if secession doesn’t succeed at first , let them try again. but before that let whoever look at the statistical results to the aspirant seceding community of this recent attempt at secession. prof ratnajeevan hoole’s recent speech sets them out. what would be the demographic cost of another attempt?

  • dayan jayatilleka

    i’m perfectly aware oh why the Tigers didn’t go to tokyo, or rather, the reason they gave. however that’s not the point is it? no other liberation movement would have been stupid enough to pass up the Tokyo platform, on which they could have denounced the washington disinvitation. participation could have also secured them the development funds. thirdly, they couldn’t afford to boycott Tokyo– as current events are proving.

    as for federalism, the truth is that balasingham wrote a tract and then a book ( war and peace) which denied that there had been any agreement to explore federalism. at which point, the royal norwegian govenment produced the minutes of the december 2002 meeting, and disproved his assertion.

    there is a reason that Prachanda is PM of nepal and prabhakaran is unsure where he’ll be on his upcoming birthday. the former is educated, well-read, articulate, politically savvy and realistic, while the other wasn’t/isn’t…and he killed off all who were.

  • suren

    When I was schooling, I heard of a Sinhala revolutionary who stood and worked for the rights of the Eelam Thamil people.

    Then later in life, I met him as an impressive intellectual, but can anyone pl. tell me why Dr Dayan Jayathilake has turned into a someone who glorifies and justifies war, especially under a regime that is infamous for its corruption?

  • wijayapala


    can anyone pl. tell me why Dr Dayan Jayathilake has turned into a someone who glorifies and justifies war, especially under a regime that is infamous for its corruption?

    Yes. The LTTE killed off just about every Tamil leader who could’ve worked with Sinhala progressives to reach a political solution, most recently his old friend Ketesh Loganathan.


    Wijayapala…WHO KILLED MP NADARAJA RAVIRAJ, Joseph Pararajasingham, Kumar Ponnamabalam ect ? Who Killed the 17 aid workers?

  • amazing

    Groundviews, why did you remove my last comment?
    i would appreciate an explanation

  • groundviews

    “Amazing”, your comment contravened the Site Guidelines. Feel free to resubmit if you rephrase what you want to say.

  • amazing

    this is in response to comment about directed at Mr. Prabakaran above, which hinted that Mr. P wasn’t “educated, well-read, articulate, politically savvy and realistic…”

    My comment back at Mr. Dayan was that his view is one that is common to the colombo, pseudo-intellectual elites, especially those from the colombo 7 tamil community such as Mr. N. Thiruchelvam, Mr. L. Kadigamma, and others, who have privately (to me in stark terms) and publicly (in more refined terms) stated that the LTTE leaders do not/did not have the intellectual capacity or educational background to really know what was “good for the tamil people” and that they were “uneducated boys from the lower castes” (envision the snooty facial expression, wrinkling of the nose etc) and it was best that now that they have made their point with the armed struggle they let the “intellectuals” negotiate the political solution.

    Whether many like to admit it or not much of the criticism over the years of the LTTE by Tamils has come from the “higher caste” and must be viewed in this context… this war is not only an ethnic conflict but also a conflict of class and caste.

    so, dayan’s criticism of Mr. P as being uneducated and not “well-read” falls into this category.

  • groundviews
  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    dear Amazing

    Its amazing that you include me among those who criticise the LTTE as ” boys from the lower castes”. i actively supported the EPRLF when it was the first to organise the so-called lower castes, and was condemned in jaffna as a movement of those castes ( though its leaders were from the so-called high castes). I was also a prominent supporter of presdent premadasa. so if anyone can be accused of caste-ism, it ain’t me. by the way my mother came from the so-called karawe caste, though my father was goigama.

    as for education and literacy, that’s another matter. it counts. just recently fidel castro made much of the fact that john mccain by his own admission, came fourth from the bottom in his class at the naval academy.

    isn’t it amazing, dear Amazing, that after 35 years of being in the liberation struggle business, mr prabhakaran and the Tigers have not achieved recognition as a fraternal movement by a single national liberation movement anywhere in the world?

    isn’t it also amayzing that the most successful guerilla leader in the south asian region, prachanda, (pushpa kumar dayal) now prime minister of nepal, said on the recod to the hidu, that his orgnasation has nothing in common with the tigers which has no “political programme”?