Rajapaksrized Chauvinism in Flowery prose: Sri Lankan Diplomat’s outright humiliation of Sri Lankan Tamils

This article concerns an article entitled “Tamils must sell something Sinhalese will be willing to buy at affordable price”, by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, an eminent Sri Lankan scholar, who is currently the Permanent Representative of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva. The position occupied by Dr.Jayatilleka is one of the highest-ranking diplomatic postings, and many may concur that he has been rendering valuable services to his country since he was appointed to the high office. Dr. Jayatilleka is also a highly skilled writer and analyst, and his writings on Sri Lankan and international affairs published internationally have proven to be extremely insightful. In many of his contributions, notably to websites such as Groundviews and Transcurrents, Dr. Jayathilleka has made it clear that the views expressed in his writings are strictly his own. But given the high office he occupies in Sri Lankan diplomacy, his ‘personal’ views regarding Sri Lankan affairs (especially the ethnic question) carries added weight, and can certainly provide insights into the policies of the government he represents. If one is to compare his views on the ethnic question with those of President Rajapakse, Prof. R. Wijesinha (Head, Peace Secretariat) and Dr. P. Kohona (Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs) for example, more convergences than divergences can be observed. In other words, he quintessentially represents the perfect diplomatic representative of the present government’s stance on the ethnic conflict. Dr. Jayathilleka will be hereinafter referred to as ‘the Ambassador’. 

As a Sri Lankan, and like a good few of my countrymen, I do have a high regard for the Ambassador. Yet, reading the article mentioned above, (available online at http://transcurrents.com/tc/2009/02/post_309.html – accessed 5 February 2009) I was left in shock, disbelief and a deep sense of disgust. The Ambassador makes several remarks that any Sri Lankan Tamil political leader and/or activist, and any Sri Lankan (of any ethnic group or religious confession) for that matter, (who respects equality and justice to all citizens) should take into account extremely seriously. As a Sri Lankan diplomat, one can presume that the Ambassador’s personal views are guided by a deep understanding of the reality surrounding the Sri Lankan government’s recent military victories, and the Rajapakse administration’s perceptions and strategies for a political settlement once the LTTE is completely defeated. As a liberal-minded and ‘thinking’ Sinhalese, I take total offense against several remarks made by the Ambassador, which I may now proceed to explain. 

As the very title of the article indicates, it appears that the Ambassador is of the view that after a quarter-century of civil war, and over sixty-one years of uphill struggle against majoritarian politics, the Tamils should now give in, and accept the political leftovers thrown at them. The Ambassador notes that: 

‘The Sri Lankan side must be realistic enough to recognize that the political price for cooperation with India cannot but be the full implementation of the 13th amendment’. 

The 13th Constitutional Amendment, as it has been explained crystal-clearly by a large number of academics and political activists, is thoroughly insufficient to redress the political problems of Sri Lankan Tamils. It is as simple as that. Both the Ambassador, the Rajapakse administration and the Indian diplomatic machine must understand that reality. 

It is further noted that the recent military victories leave no space for Tamil nationalism, i.e. a federal solution to the Tamil question. Then, the Ambassador goes hors sujet: 

‘The inability of the old Federalism to stand up to armed separatism, indeed the continuum of Tamil federalism and separatism (Vadukkodai, the TULF), means that there is no life for the federalist project after the failure of the Tigers. It has to be recognized that not only has Tamil separatism failed, so have almost six decades of Tamil federalism’. 

Here, discerning readers will notice the venom of Sinhala nationalism going nuts. Federalism is THE miscarriage of post-1948 Sri Lankan politics, and the annual Independence Day celebrations held every year are a painful reminder of that loss of hope. It was something strongly requested, but it is common knowledge that Sinhala nationalist forces repeatedly blocked all routes to a federal settlement. Therefore, the Ambassador is talking about something that never existed in Sri Lankan politics. If a the idea of a federal solution was overpowered by separatist discourses, and since 1983,if those strongly upholding a federal solution maintained a pro-separatist stance, then that’s the consequence of blindfolded post-1948 Sinhala nationalism. It was the ultimate product of narrow-minded political leaders who played with Sinhala nationalist sentiments whenever a near-federal option was brought to limelight. Past failures, and the failure of the separatist movement (namely the LTTE) that we are witnessing today, should in no way mean that the federal idea is no longer valid. A federal solution is the only viable path ahead, and convincing the Sinhala nationalists, obtaining two-thirds majority in parliament to enact required constitutional reforms and implement a project of asymmetrical devolution to the northern and eastern provinces, with the delegation of substantial powers and prerogatives is the one and only way in which a consistent solution to the ethnic conflict can be elaborated. 

In today’s context, where Sinhala nationalist politicians such as Champika Ranawaka and Wimal Weerawansa have developed a strong Sinhala lobby against any further devolution beyond the 13th constitutional amendment, the ideas on a federal option expressed above may sound not so realistic, and rather utopian. It is clear enough that the Rajapakse regime is bound to bluntly reduce Sri Lankan Tamils to the position of ‘second class citizens’ (an interest strongly affirmed by the Army Commander during a recent visit to the United States). Concerning this situation, the government and its Sinhala nationalist allies must understand one crucial factor: as long as Colombo disagrees to extensive devolution, the Tamil nationalist struggle will continue, and every moderate Sri Lankan embracing liberal democratic values ought to support such a venture. 

The Ambassador’s digression into Tamil progressivism and leftist discourses simply does not make any sense at all. All that would have been absolutely timely five decades ago, and it’s unarguably way too late. Today, Sri Lankan Tamils are a displaced community, who have to deal with internal displacement, political refuge, poverty, sexual exploitation of women, underage girls and boys by the Sri Lankan state military forces, harassment, violence, death, bloodshed and trauma. Needless to put all the blame on the LTTE, as the LTTE came to being precisely due to Colombo’s foul and overtly anti Tamil policies. If anyone is to be accused for Tamil separatist violence, do accuse those (Sinhala) ‘national leaders’ who transformed energetic, dynamic and ambitious young men from northern Sri Lanka into cruel murderers and suicide bombers. 

The Ambassador is bold enough to affirm that ‘…Tamils must recognize the extent of the defeat sustained’. The defeat sustained is that of the armed struggle for a separate state, and not of the Tamil nationalist cause and the Tamil struggle for self-determination. These two will not be defeated nor undermined by any Sinhala chauvinist forces, and are strong enough to prevail against Sinhala majoritarian politics. As long as the need be, these two forces will thrive, and pose a major challenge to successive Sri Lankan governments with nationalist agendas.  

It is also noted that the Sri Lankan state has ‘not yet beaten the soft power of Tamil separatism’. The method of doing so is then explained, and will hopefully provide food for thought to those in power:

‘The only way in which the Sri Lankan state can beat the soft power of the Tamil separatist cause is by repairing its international profile as a law-governed model pluralist democracy, restructuring itself so as to offer the Tamils a political space regarded as fair by the bulk of the Tamil community as well as the outside world, especially India, while restoring economic growth throughout the island and for all social classes’. 

Now that sounds like a very meaningful, positive hope-inspiring sentence. But the obvious problem is that this is all but an old and heavily outdated tape Sri Lankans have heard long enough. Despite military successes, the Rajapakse administration has been one of the most corrupt, violent and dictatorial, with little regard for the management of public finances, human rights and equality. The Ambassador is suggesting strategies for dealing with ‘soft Tamil nationalism’ to such a government, a perpetrator of cold-blooded crimes against anyone opposed to it. It is extremely unlikely that the current administration will implement the type of policies the Ambassador mentions. Therefore, the proposition quoted above is a most deplorably unconvincing argument, and will not impress any moderate thinking Sri Lankans. 

The Ambassador most shamelessly affirms that Tamils should remain as second-class citizens in post-2009 Sri Lanka. This is bound to be the destiny of Tamils. No Sir, This is definitely not on, and I call for massive opposition and condemnation of the following remark:

‘…Tamil political leaders [must] identify the political space actually open to them; understand its contours and boundaries’. 

This, together with the Ambassador’s constant insistence on the 13th amendment, further demonstrate his (and the Rajapakse administration’s) project to reduce Tamils into a category of second class citizens in their own land, and deny them the right for self-determination, and the right to manage their affairs with dignity. This shows that the Tamils cannot count on the Rajapakse administration, and that the present-day Sri Lankan government only stands for the Sinhalese (and more precisely Sinhala Buddhist) community. The Muslims are trapped in between, and given the specificity of their sub-culture, and factors including the lack of linguistic barriers (i.e. being equally proficient in Tamil and Sinhala)does not come across as a challenge (similar to Tamil nationalism) to the Sinhala nationalist enterprise of te MR administration. 

The article is surely among the writings of the good Ambassador that has been most vehemently criticized. The large number of comments (some of them quite lengthy) published as of 7 February 2009 provides ample proof of the contempt it has generated among Sri Lankans of all ethnic and religious groups. I may conclude with a reference to the Ambassador’s last paragraph, which hints at all remaining Tamil political leaders to take the road Karuna and Pillyan took. It is noted that: 

‘If they (Tamil politicians in post-2009 Sri Lankan parliamentary politics) opt wisely to form a coalition with Mahinda Rajapakse, they can neutralize and even outweigh the influence of the Sinhala hard-line parties, ensure the full implementation of the 13th amendment, prevent any unjust legislation, push for the elimination of all forms of discrimination, and accelerate the economic development of their areas’. 

Discerning readers may be inclined to confuse this with the ending of a Grimm’s fairy tale. That say’s it all. This is an invitation to all Tamil politicians to pay lip service to the current Colombo administration, and in the common parlance of many Tamils, be ‘puppets’ of the government, and keep their mouths shut about Tamils and self-determination. However, the good Ambassador is very well placed to make such a plea, as this is what he has been doing best all through his successful career. In the name of pluralism, diversity and equality to all Sri Lankans, let us hope there will be strong men and women among Tamil political leaders who will regard this remark for what it is. Concerning the Ambassador, the article surely received much appreciation from the Colombo, and as a Sri Lankan embracing the diversity of my land, I wish the good Ambassador the same wish I have to those heroic leaders currently reigning over Sri Lanka: 

Hitanta nidahasa liyanta kiyanta nidahasa 
Baninta nidahasa ethi rata mé uttama rata
Baila kiya pudademu ape sweiri sirilaka 
Nivan dakithva apagé jananayaka kela!
(Nanda Malini, Pavana) 

  • suren

    Dear Maithree

    thank you for your long review. I was the first to comment on DJ on transcurrent
    But he comes out with his usual dismissal and ruthless anger to mock individuals than to address the issue.

    His argument that with the LTTE the Thamil federalism should be defeated is the worse (so far) I have read. What a metamorphose, one time Eelam revolutionary

    I could say only this:
    Dayan has arrived where he always wanted
    But ‘‘though an eagle could come as lower as a chick
    Never can a chick fly as an eagle''

    I mourn that my motherland has lost many valuables that
    Including one time intellectual Sinhala revolutionaries like Dayan
    Our hope remains not with internationalist intellectuals who appear to have transformed their minds and souls. But with the rural Buddhist of Sri Lanka who still recognizes the needs of Thamil nation and willing to live with them in dignity
    Like my friend Korale Piyadasa-the bee keeper in Paanama

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear,

    Maitree de Silva writes, among other things that "…and keep their mouths shut about Tamils and self-determination. However, the good Ambassador is very well placed to make such a plea, as this is what he has been doing best all through his successful career."

    This is about someone who was the first accused and indicted on 14 counts under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency, together with K Padmanabha founder-leader of the EPRLF, for "conspiracy to overthrow the state through violence" in the years following July 83. I don't know where this writer was at the time – and I have never come across the name– but his/her article is as badly researched and ill founded on fact as is that single judgement.

    With friends like Maithree the Tamils do not need enemies. With 95% of 2/3rds of the populace opposed to federalism, and the might of India as well as the ferocious terror campaign of the Tigers unable to obtain it from Sri Lanka, who and how can federalism be a serious proposition? And why is a solution good enough for Irish Catholics and Filipino Moro Muslims , that of autonomy wthin a unitary state, not good enough for Sri Lankan Tamils?

    By the way, I'm an Aretha Franklin and Tracy Chapman type, and last listened to Nanda Malini like thirty years ago….

    • sabesion

      on what basis ur come to conclusion that 95% of 2/3 oppose federlalism???
      pls explain with proper supporting material. i hope this is good example of who you use ur skill and tallent to advocate to others and brain wash poor singhala peoples.

    • Df/

      I can’t believe what Dayan is saying. Sir, regarding 95% of the 66.66% or whatever the figures you mention, when was that referendum on federalism held? The IRA and Moros have nothing to do with SL problems. God bless you Dr. DJ and God Bless SL!

      • wijayapala

        Dear sabesion & Df/

        That referendum was held in November 2005, when the electorate opted for Mahinda Chintanaya vs Ranil "federal solution will tame the Tigers."

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear,

    Maitree de Silva writes, among other things that "…and keep their mouths shut about Tamils and self-determination. However, the good Ambassador is very well placed to make such a plea, as this is what he has been doing best all through his successful career."

    This is about someone who was the first accused and indicted on 14 counts under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency, together with K Padmanabha founder-leader of the EPRLF, for "conspiracy to overthrow the state through violence" in the years following July 83. I don't know where this writer was at the time – and I have never come across the name– but his/her article is as badly researched and ill founded on fact as is that single judgement.

    With friends like Maithree the Tamils do not need enemies. With 95% of 2/3rds of the populace opposed to federalism, and the might of India as well as the ferocious terror campaign of the Tigers unable to obtain it from Sri Lanka, who and how can federalism be a serious proposition? And why is a solution good enough for Irish Catholics and Filipino Moro Muslims , that of autonomy wthin a unitary state, not good enough for Sri Lankan Tamils?

    By the way, I'm an Aretha Franklin and Tracy Chapman type, and last listened to Nanda Malini like thirty years ago….

  • Suren

    .Now it is clear
    Dayan's knowledge of Federalism and Federal form of governance could only equal to Wimal Weerawangha's knowledge of political economics.
    Thank you Dayan
    Now I can without reconsiderations shelve you in the same ruins as Nalin and Gunadasa Amaraseka- the minor difference is their fathers were not english journalist, so could not market themselves well in the international forums

    like in all cases history will decided which side of the page you will appear

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      Suren , if I didn't know about federalism I could hardly have had a first class honours degree and the CL Wickremesinghe prize for best results in political science ( breaking a decades long record) , plus an MPhil, plus a Phd in the same subject, be a Senior Lecturer in Politics, be published by the University of Michigan press, and have a book favourably reviewed by an Emeritus Professor at the London School of Economics, now could I? By the way, what precisely are your scholarly credentials which make you an expert on federalism? So, do yourself a favour and don't expose yourself as a moron.

  • Aliya

    what is the connection?How can the number of degrees (even if they are in political science) explain one's knowledge on Federalism?

  • suren

    Thank you Dayan,
    For your respectful way of decent political engagement.
    I never claimed that I an expert on Federalism except to say, a student of the science. Neither have I needed to list my qualifications on an online broadcast like you have done.
    Where it matters I have published and working with world class academic of on the subject and the philosophy of Federalism
    Beyond your childish name calling I invite you to list 5 key reasons why Federalism is not going to work for SL and what other options you have in dialectical theory cupboard for the two nations of this land to live in harmony
    Then the readers of this column can decide the normative value of your PhDs
    I regret I had you as a political hero in my young days

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      Hey Suren, you quoted a line about "eagles and chicks". Can you kindly tell us who it was who said it , when, where and about whom? And do you have degree from a recognised university?

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      You want five points? I've tossed in one extra.
      1.The balance of social forces does not permit it. By all independent public opinion polls, the overwhelming majority of the overwhelming majority (95% of the Sinhalese) are against it.
      2.The balance of political forces does not permit it. The Federal party could not get federalism. Even CBK could not push through a quasi federal “package’, let alone a federal transformation, and had to water it down to the 1997 and 2000 drafts, which themselves could not be pushed through.
      3. There is no internal political force which can propel federalism successfully. If any mainstream party advocates it, it will lose the majority of the majority and thus the election. No minority party or parties can come up with the numbers. And even if they do, it will lose massively at a referendum.

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      I hope gv carries the first three points on federalism. Here are the rest:
      4.No military struggle can push it through: the Tigers, “the most lethal” guerrilla movement in Asia according to Barbara Crossette, couldn’t get anything from the Sinhala state, beyond the 13th amendment, and that too was thanks to India. Any one else will meet the same fate. The Sinhalese will always be the overwhelming majority on the island and the massive attendance at Deyata Kirula shows that the Sri Lankan army will always have a huge, motivated recruitment base.
      5.No external force can implement federalism: 70, 000 Indian troops could only push through provincial autonomy.
      6.There is no logic for a federal slogan: 50 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu have only quasi-federalism, not full federalism as in Canada, so why should a small fraction of that number of Tamils get federalism in Sri Lanka? And if the IRA representing the Irish Catholics of Northern Ireland can settle for the devolution of power within a unitary state, why are the Tamils of Sri Lanka entitled to more?

      • M.govintharajah

        Dayan

        You have not said why the Federalism will not work in Sri Lanka. Your reply , in essence, is that why Federalism cannot be introduced or accepted. Can you give a reply, from you political and economic expertise, why Federalism will not work in Sri Lanka,
        Govi

        • Dayan Jayatilleka

          Dear Govi,
          It won't work because it cannot make it to first base; it cannot be introduced. Parliamentarians are sensitive to public opinion, and will not vote in favour, therefore it will not obtain a twothirds in Parliament. If the courts refer it to the people ata referendum it will be shot down in flames. Why don't you try to understand why countries as diverse as Britain, China, Turkey, France and the Philippines are totally opposed to a conversion to federalism?

      • M.govintharajah

        Dayan

        You have not said why the Federalism will not work in Sri Lanka. Your reply , in essence, is that why Federalism cannot be introduced or accepted. Can you give a reply, from you political and economic expertise, why Federalism will not work in Sri Lanka,
        Govi

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      1.The balance of social forces does not permit it. By all independent public opinion polls, the overwhelming majority of the overwhelming majority (95% of the Sinhalese) are against it.
      2.The balance of political forces does not permit it. The Federal party could not get federalism. Even CBK could not push through a quasi federal “package’, let alone a federal transformation, and had to water it down to the 1997 and 2000 drafts, which themselves could not be pushed through.
      3. There is no internal political force which can propel federalism successfully. If any mainstream party advocates it, it will lose the majority of the majority and thus the election. No minority party or parties can come up with the numbers. And even if they do, it will lose massively at a referendum.

      • One

        all this does not explain why you think Sinhalese people will oppose a federal solution? What do they have to loose by it? what do you think they are afraid of or threatened by?

        • wijayapala

          dayan pointed out that the Sinhalese oppose federalism. What he left out is that they don't support any sort of devolution which creates another level of useless government, as proven by the very low support for the Provincial Councils. The 13th Amendment is remarkable in the sense that neither the Sinhalese nor the Tamils consider it as a solution. The only people who really supported it were the Indians.

  • suren

    Dear Dayan
    How pathetic (or successful) is the power of the Rajapakse version of Sinhala hegemony? Or your desire to be an international figure at any cost? It has converted one time radicals like you to be so subservient, where you cannot rest and enter a dialogue before one shows a degree credential. The fear of the other side is always greater than one’s own knowledge.

    Those who are close to me knows that I am qualified enough to be a faculty researcher at a leading university in Europe and that was a post internationally competed (not appointed by a corrupt and racist government) my qualifications are enough for me to be the first Asian to win this post with a full international scholarship.
    Beyond this I don’t have to display my graduation photographs to you – We have not forgotten that you once belonged to a murderous group and even now will not hesitate to eliminate those who oppose you. Unlike you, I don’t have the CIA coverage. so hope you will not try to probe my location- because it is bit far for a white van.

  • suren

    Above all, do any of your postcolonial recognitions make you better qualified for a dialogue on Sri Lanka and its future? Your mind set is a mirror reflection of ‘’from nobody to somebody’’ I always suspected that for you politics is a business and a one that you have pathological addictions for power and hegemony. The records of your chameleon like color change from Perumaal to Premadasa and now to this regime show that clearly.
    We discuss politics not because we want to get our next post or the system pays our wine bills in Geneva through the money earned by young rural Sinhala girls who are exported as housemaids to Arabs. We engage in dialogue to listen, learn and if possible contribute to a constructive solution to the land and the peoples we love so dearly

  • suren

    Your six points are a written evidence of your abysmal ignorance of the basics of the Federal Principals. I shall respond to that shortly because unlike you, I have not had the courage to become a parasite of the SL economy and have not got all the free time at once.
    Finally eagles and chicks, lions and tigers this is the zoo constructed by last 60 years of politics led by the south. I respected you for defending Sivaram, but had an iota of a thought that you will behave like a chick…

  • suren

    thanks Sanjana,

    for the moment, I will only place one of my earlier writtings on federalism
    for the benefit of the argument ( if there is one)

    whttp://www.groundviews.org/2007/10/02/federalism-

    regards

    Suren

  • Ethirveerasingam

    Maitree, I would like to have you as an enemy or as a friend, as you are, based on my understanding of your expression, a fair minded just person. As for Amb Dayan J, I will have nightmares if I accept him as a friend, or the de facto President Gota R. as a saviour!

    Suren, thank you for challenging Dayan J. to make him give five points why federalism will not work in SL. He has given the reasons why Tamils will not get any just and dignified solution, and that we and the International Community have no alternative but to establish a separate state. I can anticipate vituperative expressions for my comments and he may also call me, as he did you, a moron. The dogs will bark, but the caravan moves along.

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      The Tamil ultranationalists have lost both the war and the NE merger; Russia and THE UK are blocking your cause being taken up at the Security Council; Mother India is simply allowing fringe Tamil groups to yell and some folk to turn themselves into toast in Chennai; the Tamil Diaspora demonstrates the world over with no tangible result while three countries in Latin America broke DPL relations with Israel over the Gaza crisis…. and you say " we and the International Community have no alternative but to establish a separate state". On which planet do you guys live?

  • Jay Chambers

    When the Nazis were defeated the Allies helped rebuild Germany but only with a clear and decisive "denazification" process. And it worked wonders and Germany was an economic miracle in less than 10 years after the war. The SL government has to come up with a "de-lttefication" process for those Tamils in the Wanni and other affected areas under 40 years of age who probably know nothing but the LTTE and its vicious, barbaric ways. Only those Tamils living in the comfort of the Western societies would say otherwise. This is a total defeat for Tamil extremism and hopefully folks like Anandasagaree are smart enough to work with the government to ensure a peaceful future.

  • Austin Fernando

    Sanjana
    I do not know Maitree de Silva or Suren but am a friend of Dayan but I hasten to say that I am no expert in political science or federalism.

    I have four questions to ask Suren and Dayan.

    1. After the military victories what do they suggest as a political solution? Is it the 13th Amendment and no more or less? Is it 13th Amendment plus some more? What is the some more, if offered? Will the JHU and JVP positively support if some more is to be offered?
    2. Will inclusivity of Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese political groups / sentiments be the principle of dialogue on deciding what would be offered? What do they think of the LTTE as a party for any dialogue?____3 Will the APRC hoodwink the country as it did last year by endorsing what the government required its Chairman to endorse?
    4 Will the UNP and TNA be ready to cooperate which is the greatest need of the day? Can our politicians in the Government and Opposition go above unscruplous petty mindedness and hit a chord of national interest?

    Let Suren and Dayan reach out to discuss these issues, project potentials and enlighten the readers. It will do more good to Sri Lanka!

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Austin,
      1. In the immediate aftermath of military victory I suggest the 13th amendment, neither plus not minus. Minus will be unfair by the tamils and ineffective. it will alianate Indiaas wll. Plus will take time and may not gain acceptance from the two parties you mentioned. Plus can be tried after a general election.
      2. Inclusivity yes, but let that not be an excuse for delay. the 13th amendment is part of our Constitution. let us implement it. No dialogue with the LTTE.
      3. I don't think it hoodwinked the country, though i would have preferred Comittee A with Dr. Rohan Perera's caveats.
      4. No they won't , so long as the UNP has the present leadership which is pro-Tiger. Under Rukman , Karu or Sajith, perhaps, yes. The TNA under Sampanthan, perhaps, but not with the Tiger proxies still in it.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Sanjana,

    Beyond this point, this should be a Tamil on Tamil debate, conducted in Tamil – because it is about the post-prabhakaran political project of Tamil sub-nationalism. So I leave Suren and Ethirveerasingham to debate this in Tamil with Douglas Devananda, D Siddharthan, Karuna and Chief Minister Chandrakanthan.

  • Cedric

    I am sorry for going off the topic but I consider this relevent. I think it is now time for the Tamils to ditch Prabakaran and the LTTE and find another way to achieve their aspirations . It is not rocket science to understand that after 30 years of armed struggle the guy has not delivered. Lets face it he is no messiah he can be likened to a glorified Somali pirate , it's plain and simple as that.
    I am sure they can come up with a more effective non violent movement to achieve their goals. For goodness sake !The Tamil diaspora is packed with brilliant minds and intelectuals , they are highly resourceful and mighty intelligent , surely with the support of India and the international community they are bound to succeed.!

  • Austin Fernando

    Dear Dayan

    Thanks for the prompt response.

    I agree with you on explanations1 and 2 as strategies because as you have said 13th Amendment is already in the constituional provisions. There is no need to ask anyone inclusive of the President, Parliament, Internationals, Co Chairs etc or LTTE as it is there in black and white. However, constraints from opposing parties with in the government should be sorted out by the Government. I need not remind that Chandashoka converted to Dharmashoka after military victories!

    Why I said that the APRC has hoodwinked was because the Chairman APRC restated the need to implement the 13th Amendmnert, as if he did not know the existence of such provisions in the Constitution.

    I prefer not to comment on your views or names in 4. But suffice to say that the country has to build consensus of all parties, as this is a national cause and not a political party cause. The weight that should be laid for acheivement of consensus is more on the Government than the others, while adjustment to this need is a responsibility of all parties in the Opposition.

    Regards.
    Austin

  • Ethirveerasingam

    "On which planets do you guys live." D.J.
    Obviously not in the same planet as you do.

  • Sumanasiri Liyanage

    Dear Sanjana,

    Having read suren-dayan argument i thought my piece published here on Groundviews would be relevant. Written in early December last year.

    Sumane

  • Maitree de Silva

    First of all, Dr. Jayatilleka, Suren, Mr. Fernando, Govi, Ethirveerasingam, Prof. Liyanagé: thanks very much for your comments and the ideas shared.

    I’m pleased that this article has led to an interesting discussion. I do appreciate Dr. Jayatilleka’s remarks- I have read an article by you on the ILA/IPKF- JRJ/RP phase and your insights into the politics of the day (esp. NEPC) available online on the ICES website, where the role of the late Mr. Padmanabha is explained in a fairly detailed manner. It’s indeed a pity that moderate elements of the Tamil polity have been assassinated by the hardline elements, and that alone shows the viciousness of Sri Lanka’s ethnic politics and the challenges that lie ahead on the path to consensus. Concerning your indictment on conspiracy charges, I sincerely did not know about it, and thanks a million for mentioning it. In the sentence you quoted in your first comment, what I wanted to convey was the way diplomats and high officials get entangled in bureaucracy, power-based affiliations and turn a blind eye to burning issues. I do understand that these things are easier said than done, and once one is within the Establishment, things work in a different order. Despite collective responsibility and other constraints, the senior officer who dares to open his/her mouth and talk out loud following his/her conscience, in an effort to transform negative circumstances, is the most precious asset (in my view at least) a government would possess.

    If I could rewrite this rendering, I would re-word that sentence.

    In the present situation, my deeply felt belief is that those within the state machinery (like yourself) ought to convince the MR administration to lobby for an extensive implementation of a political settlement. If all they can give is the 13th amendment, so be it. If implemented consistently, it will be one (albeit very, very small) step forward.

    For those like me and Suren and Ethirveerasingam and Sanjana and all other thinking Sri Lankans, who are outside the confines of the Rajapakse administration, we have a much more crucial task before us: that of making our voices heard, developing a strong case for a quintessentially federal solution; the ramblings of such an effort should reach the Sinhala Buddhist majority, and the array of misconceptions and idées reçues on the federal option should be explained and erased from peoples’ minds. An extremely tough job that’s going to take long, but we must never, ever loose hope. This is perfectly possible, and more and more Sri Lankans of all ethnic and religious groups do understand the need for extensive acceptance of the right of the Tamils for self-determination. A ‘Democratic Federal Republic of Sri Lanka’ will certainly not dawn soon except in the sweetest of our dreams, but if we work hard, we can make it happen. We Sri Lankans who warmly embrace the diversity of our motherland should always bear in mind the ever inspiring “YES, WE CAN!”

    I do agree with the fact that the article is badly researched: more than producing a well-researched and well-written piece of journalistic writing or a piece of academic writing, my objective was to express my initial reactions after reading Dr DJ’s article the way I felt them…with no alterations, no additions, no style or attention to sophistication. This is my way of expressing my patriotism, to say that those who see a ‘kokatath tailaya’ in ’13th amendment’ need to think further and strive for the endorsement of a more consistent federal solution by the people & the polity.
    The last sentence of the article should read: “Concerning the Ambassador, the article surely received much appreciation from the Colombo polity (i.e. the Rajapakse administration & its allies), and…..”.

    Ultimately, I once again quote Nanda Malini to express what your comments mean to me, and the way I view your views:

    Oba mata panasek mai – ma desé dos dakinta
    Oba mata aviek mai – é dosé mul siñdinta

    (Pavana, Lyrics: Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne)

  • punitham

    ''If any mainstream party advocates it, it will lose the majority of the majority and thus the election'' has been bringing us to the present state. Finding a way out of this should solve the problem.

  • wijayapala

    Believe me I'm no fan of Dayan's pompous name-dropping and banal "look-where-I-graduated-from" crap, but try to look past his fluff to his hidden argument. A separate state is not an option because the LTTE is finished, and neither the Tamils in Sri Lanka nor the IC is interested in starting a new war for separatism. This leaves a number of compromise solutions of which federalism is but one. The argument that Dayan (and I) makes is that there is no popular consensus to implement federalism in Sri Lanka. You cannot force an unpopular solution on a people. However, I believe that the opposition to federalism has less to do with fears of Tamil separatism than some people may believe, and more to do with the evil of creating another layer of government which is even more useless than what we have in Colombo. This has been the experience of the Provincial council system.

    If you want federalism, you'll have to convince Sri Lankans that it's in their best interest. Threatening wars or IC intervention for separatism not only will not work, but would be unrealistic- the hidden point that Dayan was not able to bring out.

  • Ethirveerasingam

    Amb DJ's claim that the Sinhala majority voters, whatever percent he says it is (80% – 95%), will not vote for federalism is a valid assessment. Chelvanayagam's appeal for federalism and later less were rejected. His last wish was, as quoted by Wilson, was that the Sinhala people will one day grant the Tamils a separate state. Wishfull thinking considering the reality he faced in his long years. I like to share conversations I had with Lalith Athulathmudali and Ranil Wickremasinghe 12 years later.

    On Feb 4th 1985, at about 9 pm at his electorate celeberations of the independence day at the Mount Lavinia park I met him by appointment. The last time I him was in 1952 when he and I ran the 120 yds hurdle at the public schools meet. He won, Neville Laduwahetty came second and I third. We discussed about a solution to our political problem. Finally I asked him why not his party with more than two-thirds of majority in parliament propose a federal constitution. He said that SLFP will oppose it. I said that as they have only 7 or 8 MPs their vote will not make any difference, especially with the TULF and CWC votes to add to the UNP. He said proposing a federal constitution, "Will be political suicide." My older brother later said that, a majority of the UNP MPs will not support, let alone the majority Sinhala voters.

    On May 13, 1997 at about 7:00PM at his Cambridge Terrace Offrice, after an hour of discussion I asked him why not the UNP propose a federal consittuion. He siad that, "We are a political party. Like any other political party, we will not do anything that will not get us into power, nor would we do anything when we are in power to loose power." A very forthright statement of reality of their electorates by two UNP stalwarts twelve years apart. The late Tyrone Fernando and the present UPFA Minister Mahinda Samarasighe took part in the discussions.

    Naturally when Balasingam offered to explore federalism, UNP panicked. It never follewed up on the Oslo proposal as it knew, it would loose power at the general election if they even discus federalism.

    Amb DJ's assessment, leaving apart the statistics, is in tune with the UNP and I am sure everyone knows, with that of the UPFA, JVP, and extremist Sinhala parities. Rajapakse administration is doing what the majority of the Sinhala voters want and may have fed on that support to go beyond what a substantial, not necessarily a majority, Sinhala population would approve.

    Tamils have did their best since 1933 to 1972 to convince the Sinhala leaders and and the people for federalism. It is now time that the Sinhala people who are for federalism, go on a "Thavalama" to every village in the South with a federal proposal, in Sinhala, and canvas in Sinhala. It is cruel of me to want you to do this. Nor do I would want you to do this "Federal Thavalama" as there will be a bigger, "Anti-Federal Thavalama.that would lead to much violence in the South" Please let the Tamils out of this, as they have been beaten up in pogroms before the armed conflict started and by war since then. I would not even ask you to campaign to stop the war as we all know what will happen to those who lead such campaign. In any case most media and the so called moderates have now concluded the war is at an end. I am not sure whether anyone has guessed that Eelam War V has started. What form it will take and what the reaction of the Rajapakse administration, the Sinhala people and the international community is anybody's guess. I see no light at the end of the tunnel.

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Mr Ethirveerasingham,
      As far as the record shows it was not the UNP that panicked but Anton Balasingham who resiled from the Oslo understanding with Prof GL Pieris, to explore a federal solution within a united Sri Lanka. When he denied that there was any such undersading, even his pals the Norwegians felt constrained to contradict him and release the relevant minutes. Balasingham later wrote a book in which he reiterated his denial of the understanding on Federalism. If the Tigers really wanted to go the federal route, they would not have sabotaged Ranil's Presidential bid, since Chandrika and he had made it very clear that in the event of victory there would be bipartisan support for federalism ( she would still have been leader of the SLFP).

      • G. S. Lincoln

        DJ,
        You wrote in your earlier post that 95% of the Sinhalese do/will oppose federalism. Then, do you honestly believe that Ranil or Chandrika would be foolish enough to talk federalism with the Tamils. We all know what happened to Chandrika's earlier proposal for a devolution. Neither UNP nor SLFP could ever propose or accept federalism – it is clear from your "95 percent" argument.

        • Ruwan

          We dont see any reason to devolution of power. As sri lankan tamil population is only 3.9%. ( Pl takeout Indian tamils from this ) . If mix community in Colombo can live happily why can't north and east. sri lanka tamils never wanted a separate state. It was Tamil Nadu people wanted a separate state for tamils . They failed in India they provked sri lankan tamils to fight. The fact is there are 2 races in the world has no Mother Land. They are palastines and tamils in the world. They are just bugs looking for a carriers. This is the reality. You have to Face the truth even it is bitter.

  • Morning Dew

    It is very educative to read all the above comments made by the intellectuals on the Sri Lankan conflict. I only wish that our politicians, both from the ruling party and the oppositon, would at least read these comments in order that they may drink in what is good and leave out what is bad. It is, to my mind, imperative that the MR administration take all these opinons of the learned poeple of both sides into consderation when chartering the course Sri Lanka should take after the war is over. The government should have the courtesy, at least, to listen to the very valuable, intelligent and considered views of this intelligentsia.

  • punitham

    What transpires here is that i.the Sinhalese will not agree for federalism which is the minimum of a reasonable offer to the Tamils and ii.the Sinhalese leaders who want power are not at all worried about the total decay of the Tamils.
    Ethnic-outbidding Sinhala leaders only created the federalism-opposing mindset of the Sinhala masses.

  • punitham

    ''if the IRA representing the Irish Catholics of Northern Ireland can settle for the devolution of power within a unitary state, why are the Tamils of Sri Lanka entitled to more?''
    There is a world of difference between the state of Irish Catholics and that of Sri Lankan Tamils.
    They didn't have the deadly cumulative effect of
    i.ethnic outbidding between the Labour Party and the Conservative Party to increase the opposition of the public to a reasonable settlement
    ii.abrogation of conciliatory pacts
    iii.series of state-aided pogroms to alienate the Catholics
    iv.systematic shredding of their socio-economic-environmental fabric by relentless structural violence of state institutions

  • punitham

    contd…
    Even if the Tamils forget all these what has been happening in the last three years confirm that they cannot have any faith in the Sinhala rulers:
    i. Impunity to armed forces for any crimes against the Tamils and thus no investigations/prosecutions generally
    ii.2007 May proposal brushing aside that made by APRC
    iii.2008January 'tamasha' sending a note to Prof Pathirana prescribing what(13th amendment) to 'present' in front of the camera
    iv.preventing journalists from Northeast and carrying out atrocities including implementing Sinhala colonisation
    v.the 'able and the articulate' in the Northeast are systematically eradicated that the Tamils in their destitute state may go for 'let-us-save-our-lives-now-for-our-children' or similar.

    • Dayan Jayatilleka

      Punitham, Punitham, Punitham,

      Either you do not know your facts or you think none of us do. One Sunday in 1972, in Londonderry, 13 unarmed Irish Catholic civilians were gunned down by British paratroopers belonging to 1 Para. It happened in broad daylight. the first commission that was appointed was the Widgery Commission which found no wrongdoing by the Paras. The second commission was appointed in 1998, and over ten years later, has not completed its inquiry. Meanwhile not a single soldier involved was even disciplined, while the officers involved were decorated by the Queen.

      If you think this sort of thing was isolated, please read the report of the Ombudsman ( actally Ombudsperson) for Northern Ireland who documents collusion between Protestant Paramilitaries which committed murders, and British intelligence and special counterinsurgency units. To this day, officers have refused to answer any questions.

  • punitham

    ''degree from a recognised university?'' is not necessary but a head-and-heart action has been wanting for 61 yrs.
    Several yrs ago a Sinhala farmer in Gal Oya told an official: ''there are no Sinhala farmers and Tamil farmers, but only FARMERS. Had he been in DS Senanayake's place Sri Lanka would have remained Singapore's idol.

  • punitham

    ''Oba mata panasek mai – ma desé dos dakinta
    Oba mata aviek mai – é dosé mul siñdinta''
    To those who don't know Sinhala?
    Please let meknow what it is.

  • Chami WEERAWARDHANA

    'You're an eye of wisdom to me, who
    Pinpoints my errors,
    You're a weapon to me, to
    Destroy
    Root causes of such errors'

    • punitham

      Thanks, Chami.

  • Max Headroom

    Is Suren and Maithree still blogging and living in Sri Lanka? I would tell them to hang themselves.

    Well, what happened to that Ethiri at UNHRC sessions in Geneva.

    The Tamil Diaspora has been taken by the White people to be butlers and servants and they will do anything to be like in that servile state.

    There will be no Federal State for anyone in Sri Lanka! As a citizen of Sri Lanka, I do not approve it and if Tamils are unhappy they can jump into the Indian Ocean or become servants across the Palk Strait or to any white man/woman.

    Amb. Dayan J. just don’t waste your time with this toothless, barking K9s.

  • Punitham

    Maitree I’m ashamed to find that I didn’t thank you for
    writing this before starting to comment on others’ comments. Tamils
    owe you a great deal. Much more reason to be so after what has been
    happening in the last 22/23 months.

  • http://NaamThamilar.org kUMAR

    Freedom is our birthright. We must not beg for it. We must grab it. We may be weak now. We can bring down this regime by the folowing.
    1. Boycott all Sri Lankan Products.
    2. Boycott Sri Lankan Air Lines.
    3. Stop visiting Sri Lanka unnecessarily.
    4. Bring the War Criminals to ICC
    5. Work hard to unify the TGTE – WTF, BTF & others
    6. Write to your parliamentarians about the war crimes and the need of our freedom.
    7. Explain the Sri Lankan history to other community. There was Tamil Kingdoms before the British capture Sri Lanka.

    As the Tamils are united universaly. It is possible for the Tamils to achieve this noble goal. Let the Sinhalese cry under the brutal regime. they will see the stars once the country go bankrupt.

  • eureka

    Kumar Current geopolitics favours the government of Sri
    Lanka and Tamils are too unfortunate. Yes, Tamil diaspora will
    fight the injustice to their brethren in the Northeast of the
    country. The greatest tragedy of this country is, unbelievably,
    misinterpretation of Buddhism and Federalism.