Colombo, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance


“The political moment is always connected with changes to borders”
– Jacques Ranciere (2006)

The Sinhalese and Tamils are in a Mexican standoff. Locally, the Sri Lankan armed forces have surrounded the Tigers who have embedded themselves among the civilians (some of whom are the Tigers’ extended families and trained “Makkal Padai” militia, as well as those who chose to follow the Tigers as they evacuated Jaffna in 1995, all constituting the LTTE’s social support base or the Tiger tribe). Meanwhile, globally, from the US Senate to the UN Security Council, from Ottawa to London, from Brussels to Pretoria, from Delhi to Dili, Sri Lanka is under pressure and scrutiny as never before. Are we being encircled globally just as we have encircled the Tigers locally?  The Sinhalese are the majority on the island and the Tamils the minority, but the Tamils are the majority off the island and the Sinhalese are the minority. These realities of demography reinforce each community’s sense of entitlement based on the dualism of simultaneous victimhood and superiority. They also make for the growing grand strategic deadlock where the ‘external’ and the ‘internal’ countervail each other. The Tigers have no exit from military defeat, but do the State and society have an exit from the crisis?

A ceasefire is not an option. The first ceasefire in 1985 resulted in Sri Lankan army camps in Jaffna being ringed by landmines (by Kittu), another in April 1987 saw the Habarana and Pettah massacres, and the last 48 hour “pause’ allowed the Tigers to mount an (abortive) offensive spearheaded by three suicide trucks, to retake Mullaitivu, on Feb 1st this year.

The global mobilization of the Tamil Diaspora, the displays of fanaticism from self immolation in Geneva to Chennai, the hatred on the websites and emails, the lobbying in all the capitals of the world, the psychological and physical pressure against Sri Lankan  associations and student events in London, all of these add up to a scenario of a globalized Tamil tribalism mobilized against Sri Lanka, with hints and portents of a worldwide racial or civic conflict; the globalization of the Sri Lankan conflict, which could have a local blowback masquerading as payback.

This Escape from New York/Mad Max scenario is due primarily to the double standards and tolerance of pro or proto-Tiger fanaticism in the West. If the open fanaticism of these Diaspora organizations were displayed within an Islamic community in any Western country they would be branded “radical Islamist”, “Islamofascist” or “jihadist” and subject to intense policing and suppression.  Not so the Tamil Diaspora.

This apocalyptic scenario is secondarily due to the weakness of the democrats within the Tamil Diaspora in generating a non-fanatical alternative. If these were the Palestinians the West would be decrying the weakness of a moderate alternative as peace partner, but in the case of the Tamil Diaspora there is no such critique.

Our military has valiantly and cleverly fought and just about won a war for the reunification of our territory. The historic import of this achievement is not to be underestimated, and is utterly central, as the quote I have used from French philosopher Jacques Ranciere (‘Hatred of Democracy’, Verso 2006, p.84) indicates. While a unified nation could have prevented territorial division, there can be no united nation without and prior to territorial unification. Before the victory over secessionism in the US Civil war, it used to be said “the United States are“, but after the Civil war and the triumph over secession, the usage changed to “the United States is“.

Having won the war for territory, fought with Third Generation War strategy and tactics, Sri Lanka now faces a new security and strategic challenge. From offshore (Tamil Nadu) and transnational (Diaspora-funded) terrorism to internet driven insurgency, Sri Lanka is facing the potential threat of Fourth Generation Warfare (a concept of William S. Lind) waged by an international terrorist network in a globalised battle-space. How do we prevent it or prevail in it?

There are two possible responses. One is that of tribalism, of circling the wagons, mirroring the pro-Tiger Tamil behavior.   The other is to break out of the LTTE’s attempted encirclement of Sri Lanka by getting our message across to the international community, both states and societies.  Some may think that Sri Lanka can do without world opinion but if any country could have survived without world opinion it is the USA, except that the Americans are smart enough to know that it is necessary even for the sole superpower, not to go it alone; it is necessary to build broad coalitions, to take many others – not just one or two “tough” friends– along with you; to win over world opinion, to be liked and respected not just feared.  To do that, the US realized it is necessary to talk differently, to speak a different language than that which had been spoken so far, during the preceding 8 years.  It is in this spirit that President Obama said, and was quoted by both Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton, that US-Russian relations need a pressing of “the re-set button”.

The successful deployment of hard power (military power) is inextricably linked with and depends upon the successful exercise of politics, diplomacy, culture, information and above all ideas (soft power). The combination of “hard” and “soft” power is what the Obama administration’s policy intellectuals and top practitioners, most notably Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, call “smart power”.

If the “global Tigers” are to be beaten in the Fourth Generation War, or better still, if such a 4GW is to be prevented, Sri Lanka too has to press the re-set button and get the world on board. This requires the accumulation of soft power and deployment of ‘smart power’. Related to this, we have to get the Sri Lankan intellectual, scientific and literary elite, especially the youth, on the island and overseas – such as the Ruwanthi Seneviratne Freemans and DeLons-on board. Can all this be done, and done in a manner that does not jeopardize our hard won military achievement but actually safeguards it? Yes, it can.

A recent report by AFP’s Amal Jayasinghe furnishes evidence as to why the Sri Lankan armed forces have prevailed over the LTTE under this administration and no other. It also demonstrates that there is a clear and correct perspective with regard to the next phases of military operations.

“Rajapakse, a retired army colonel and main figure spearheading the campaign, said the first stage of military operations would end after all rebel territory was seized. “I would not say we have defeated the Tigers completely until we have completed all three phases of our operation,” he said, adding the next would be to mop up remaining resistance and seize all guerrilla weaponry. The final phase would be to ensure stability. “We’re not going to leave any room for them to come back,” he said…”The main reason for the success is from day one, we maintained a clear mission,” the defense secretary said. “We maintained it without ambiguity: that is to finish off the LTTE.” (‘Civilians slowing Sri Lanka advance: Defense chief‘ Wednesday, February 25)

We must develop similar clarity in other realms.  The military factor can be the leading factor during a period of conventional or quasi conventional war, and we have been fortunate that Sri Lanka has enjoyed under this present administration, a clear military perspective. When the conflict shifts back into the low intensity phase, the political and other aspects come to the fore. In point of fact the success of phase two and three of the military effort as outlined by the Secretary of Defense depends increasingly upon these non-military factors. We must develop the political corollary that facilitates and permits the achievement of the security objectives set out. More concretely, we must identify the political accompaniment or “superstructure” of each of the three phases.

Interestingly enough, I find the necessary political accompaniment of the three phase military programme, in the recent speech at the Foundation of Coexistence by Robert Blake, the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka. The speech also contains the formula for restoring Sri Lanka’s soft power, and preempting (or prevailing in) any Fourth Generation War.

“…I think there are three particularly important steps.  First it is critical to hold free and fair provincial council elections as soon as possible to restore democracy to the North for the first time in more than two decades…Second, the government should actively support the implementation of the 13th Amendment by overcoming the obstacles that have prevented implementation for 20 years…Finally, an important third step is a successful completion of the All Parties Representative Committee (APRC) process and implementation of its recommendations…”

This three step programme can quite easily be superimposed on the three stage devolution roadmap of Douglas Devananda, the senior-most Tamil Cabinet Minister.

Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat and Chairman of the important Senate Subcommittee on Near Eastern, South and Central Asian affairs, does not urge a ceasefire, talks with the Tigers, federalism or even the Indian model, but his remarks at the powerful US Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Hearings sum up the Sri Lankan conundrum as he and most liberal minded Americans probably see it. His remarks identified, not entirely accurately, the problem that both the Sinhalese and Tamils have to address:

“So far, there are few indications that a political deal is imminent. Sri Lanka will not negotiate directly with the LTTE. But it does not appear as though the government has much interest in finding alternative Tamil interlocutors nor have the Tamils presented a credible alternative to the LTTE.”

So the problem for the liberal democratic Western mind is not that Sri Lanka does not wish to negotiate with the Tigers, but rather that there appears to be a political and policy vacuum in that the alternative to talks with the Tigers  – a “political deal” with “alternative Tamil interlocutors”- does not seem in sight either. This is compounded by the perception that the Tamils for their part have not presented a credible alternative to the Tigers.

Is it true that the Sinhalese and the state are unwilling to do a deal with the moderate Tamils? I do not think so, but that is irrelevant. We must convince not ourselves but world opinion and decision making circles worldwide. What are the contours of the political deal with alternative, anti-Tiger/non-Tiger Tamil interlocutors and what is the timeline for its implementation? Are the Tamils capable of throwing up and sustaining a credible alternative to the Tigers or do they wish to continue to support the LTTE and Tiger proxies or sympathizers who will continue to find Sinhala public opinion hostile and the doors of the Sri Lankan political system shut to them?

The way out and forward has also been indicated by Vinayagamoorthy Muralidaran, the erstwhile Colonel Karuna, who is transforming himself rapidly into a savvy, bilingual, mainstream political personality (not to mention a sharp-ish dresser). Addressing the 20th Business for Peace Forum of the Business for Peace Initiative of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) held at Hotel Ceylon Continental, (Feb 19th) he said that “it would be desirable to implement the 13th Amendment to penetrate the present impasse to settle the conflict in the North and East.” (Asian Tribune)

  • southindian

    Srilankans are now check and mate, India hesitated to Interfere actively becos that would lead to direct LTTE support. which India donot want after Her Prime Ministers death. After LTTE vanquished, any atrocity towards minortiy will directly Impact India and India capable of putting all kind of pressure on this tiny nation.
    Only way out for Srilanka is befriendly with Tamils there and with India, however they are already surrendered to Indian might by using Indian weapons to fight LTTE. Next they have to do is give civil rights to the minorities and donot Kill them as they did earlier.

  • worf

    "Our military has valiantly and cleverly fought and just about won a war for the reunification of our territory."

    While a lot of Tamils overseas have fell prey to fantasies of a quick blitzkrieg final war from the cooler climes of the developed world, I have urged caution and restraint.

    Similarly I think the above quoted passage speaks of a war won that has yet to be won. While the Sinhalese forces have gained "vast amounts of territory" and the LTTE's ability to wage war is limited to a "small area", this does not however imply that total territorial unification has been achieved or that the LTTE has no territorial base, however small, within the island.

    Although the Sinhalese forces "may" win the battle for territorial reunification in the near future, they have yet to win it "now". This distinction is crucial.

    • dayan jayatilleka

      worf, but not worf, worf!

      worf is right and yet, hasn't quite grasped it or isn't ready to acknowledge the truth. As the International Crisis Group has said "The Sri Lankan military must not pursue a strategy of annihilation since it has already achieved its military objectives and essentially won the war. "

  • Agnos

    Mr. "Evil"tilleka's inversion of reality is amusing—it is th Sinhala nationalists who are tribal, not the Tamil diaspora which simply wants to resist oppression. Such resistance is ethical as Dr. ismail has articulated perfectly in a Transcurrents article, Of course, one doesn't expect this running dog of Sinhala chauvinism, performing services to his masters,to recognize that.

  • Agnos, surely it was possible to say what you wanted to say without sounding like the regime you so abhor? Be the change you want to see. I have allowed this comment through, but please take note of the submission guidelines when you post to this site in the future. See

    I have noted earlier that:

    "Dayan has published a number of articles on this site since July 2008 and all of them have been pro-war. Groundviews is the ONLY website where a senior diplomat of the Rajapakse administration can be interrogated. Further, Dayan himself, unlike others in government and the foreign service today, is open to serious and sustained questioning on a range of issues, including the war, as can be seen by the long comment threads on any one of his articles here.

    If we believe in and are to promote peace through peaceful means, we must continuously engage with and be prepared to accept the merits of counter-arguments. Sadly, the pro-peace movement and the pro-war movement in Sri Lanka operate in self-referential spheres. Dayan's articles are published here to break that trend. His sustained engagement with interlocutors on this site is appreciated also for this reason."


  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    If Agnos, or anyone for that matter wants to see what's truly tribal he/she should recall the burning alive of hundreds of TELO youth by the Tigers in Jaffna on April 30th 1986, or look up the photos of Pongu Thamil in Trinco, where barebodied Tamil youth rolled on hot tarred roads behind a portrait of Prabhakaran drawn in a chariot. And No Sinhalese would call any leader a Surya Theivan or Sun God.

    More recently, the fumeral ceremonies in the UK for the youngster who immolated himself in Geneva , looked distinctly regimented and 1930s Nuremburgesque. All this is why Sri Lanka is known in the US State Dept report as a multiparty constitutional democracy, while Bob Casey noted that the Tamils have yet to throw up a viable democratic alternative.

  • Agnos

    Mr. Jayatilleka,

    Do you think we have forgotten the burning alive of Tamil men and women in 1958, 1977 and 1983 by Sinhalese mobs, or the way the SLA raped and disemboweled the bodies of a Mannar family?

    The burning alive of TELO cadre by the LTTE and calling its leader as 'Sun God' were limited to a small number of ignorant people. That was not condoned or encouraged by educated Tamil people. However self-immolation is on a different plane, which you with you slaving for your masters can never understand. To the extent there is tribalism among Tamils, it was instigated by the tribalism and bestiality of the Sinhalese chauvinists and thugs, whom you tend to have an affinity for these days.

  • Agnos


    There are still democratic Tamil leaders in the persons of Sampanthan, Mavai Senathirajah, Sri Kantha or Gajen Ponnambalam. The TNA was forced to kowtow to the LTTE under physical amd military pressure, but it is they, not Sangaree, not Karuna, not Devananda, not Siddharthan, with their blood-stained hands or collusion with Southern chauvinists, who can form any new democratic leadership. Despite accusations of vote-rigging, it is clear that Sampanthan and Senathairajah had a history of being elected and would have been easily elected without any LTTE influence. Bob Casey is not fully aware of Tamil politics, but your selective picking of his words and phrases to suit your propoganda is so transparently Goebbelsian.

  • Saliya

    Arguing with extremists is important because the debate helps people in the center to broaden their understanding. So please go ahead.
    Coming back to the crux of the problem, as you suggest we need a solid strategy and plan to upgrade Sri Lanka into the “developed” category. The initiation should come from the top. The intellectual body, which you suggest to form with brilliant Sri Lankans all over the world, is an excellent idea. But it should not get interruptions from the corrupt culture of Sri Lankan politics. Also once the strategy, plans, policies and procedures are finalized the top should extend his full commitment (Premadasa type) for implementation and monitoring process.

  • Saliya

    Establishment of law and order and efficient surveillance system is a prerequisite and that will provide the needy flat form for any government to perform. This is not a big task (this can be done in 12 months), the problem is that it might affect the ‘hard-power’ of the powerful individuals and, therefore never allowed unless the top get into the matter by heart, genuinely. Is he ready for that? Will his relatives and friends allow him to do that?
    Dayan, I am the Saliya who was in the ISU of Colombo Uni. Please contact me; at gmail dot com
    (The mail Sanjana forwarded was mine)

  • Dayan Jayatilleka


    When the JVP attempted to straitjacket the majority community and impose totalitarian rule, the Sinhalese found forces and elements within their social formation to fight back and defeat this threat. The Tamils didn’t. They succumbed to tribalism; standing by and applauding, making excuses as the more progressive elements were butchered by the Tigers. Well , the Tamil people will soon have a chance, thanks to the sri lankan state and armed forces- not the Tigers – to elect the democratic leadership of their choice. As for Bob Casey, why don’t you give us your alternative interpretation of his words? I did use his own…

  • Nicolai

    Interesting point by Saliya. Debates like this do help people like me (Colombo Tamil probably considered elite, who left aged 11 for Canada 37 years ago and now returned to Colombo) who has very little historical understanding of the hatred clearly being demonstrated by Agnos.
    I must say I am learning more and more from these types of debates and Agnos’s point of view is very much welcomed as long as they avoid the being emotionally charged and confrontational.
    I very much agree with Groundsview’s guidelines for submission. Those of us (I am sure I am speaking for others) who really want to understand, want to read clear and thoughtful commentary. If I wanted to be entertained by “name calling” tactics which use standard words such as Chauvinist, genocidal murderer, racist thug etc. I can go onto scores of other websites and learn nothing. Thanks Groundviews for maintaining your standards.

  • Lal

    Are the intellectuals really willing to use this opportunity and come up with a strategy? Will the extremists, nationalists; corrupted politicians let them come up with a solution / let them implement the solution?

    The problem is who is ready to fight the battles against extremism, nationalism and etc…? Masses are controlled by these corrupted people and what’s the strategy to convince the masses on any solution to implement…

  • Observer

    Mr. Jayatilleka, I don’t believe Tamils, Muslims, Burghers , Senator Casey, or open-minded Singhalese would learn much from your tarring by association of the unfortunate Tamil civilians who happen to live in the Vanni…nor will they support your celebration of a murderer named Karuna as the paragon of hope for the new Tamils. Your allusions would be amusing if the reality you discuss does not involve real people dying. What do you mean by a Mexican standoff, for example? A gunfight? Two Mexicans standing across from each other in a bar? And how many Tamils form part of the Tigers’ extended family? What exactly is the Tiger tribe?

    These terms are imprecise, thrown out as if they carry some meaning. And you say that “we” are being encircled globally “just as we have encircled the Tigers locally.” I must say that is a disarming statement if I take it to mean that this is a war of Singhalese against Tamils. The last I read the Sri Lankan Army represents all Sri Lankans….As for self-immolation you may wish to have a bit of sympathy for the poor, misguided fellow who chose death over life in Geneva. He did not try to burn you or anyone else. And please, your method of guilt by association should not extend to suppositions such as “if the open fanaticism of these Diaspora organizations were displayed within an islamic community in any Western country they would be branded “radical Islamist”, “Islamofascist” or “jihadist” and subject to intense policiing and suppression. ” Are you privy to the policing methods of Western countries? Do you have some inside knowledge of how the police see Tamil organizations? Are you suggesting that the police should devote their resources to monitoring “free” Tamils living in the West?

    Perhaps you would like the Sri Lankan state practice of insisting on id cards for Tamils to be extended to the streets of Geneva.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Observer,

    If you think a moment you may wonder why the self-immolation in Geneva has had aboslutely no effect on the UN Human Rights Council, in which member-state criticism of Sri Lanka was even less this time than at the last session. Perhaps you will ponder the possibility that the self-immolation was actually…counterproductive? As for the “Tiger tribe”, re-read Prof Michael Roberts, please.

  • Nicolai

    I think this author has a positive message, which is good. I actually agree with some of his points and disagree with some as well, particularly in the last paragraph where he glorifies Karuna.
    We should all try to be positive in the hopes that a small Island with a measly population of 20 million or so can work things out and collectively coexist. If we can’t work it out, particularly since neither side is motivated by religious Dogma, how can anyone else in conflict?
    However, the very corrupt politicians in government right now which also includes an ex-terrorist (er I mean freedom fighting) leader, along with a megalomaniacal leader of the LTTE, combined with a large number of extremist members of the expat diasposa, do certainly smell of self interest from all sides when it comes to finding any kind of agreement to end the war.
    It is very difficult to take sides really because neither side appears to show real goodness of the heart. Maybe it is a naive desire to expect any political or rebel leader to possess that simple virtue. Really though, it is that simple, after all we are just a bunch of humans in the end trying to exist in this world for a short period of time, aren’t we?
    The absolute irony to me is that the group that really catalyzed the Sinhalese Nationalist movement in 1956, the results of which I am assuming, was everything that Karuna was fighting against, resulting in the ruthless deaths of many innocent people, is the very same party now that Karuna has joined. Definitely a case where fact is way stranger than fiction.

  • Whether the military “has valiantly defeated the LTTE” will be known only after a few years. Already the tide appears to be turning.

    Thee truth trhat is covered up by the Sinhales media and the Sinhala public is that there is Tamil genocide.

    The world has identified the hidden agenda of genocide of Taamils in SL.. Therefore, there is pressure and there will be more pressure from the world community as this world is for all humans to live and not for the Sinhalese only !!

    To say that Tamil diaspora is so powerful to change the world opinion to result in pressure to SL is ludicrous, self decieving and naive. It is the brutal genocidal events by the military that have made human beings all over the world to realise the truth.

    The South fails to realise this because they view everything with a “Tamil glass” on their eyes !!

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Nicolai has stumbled onto something interesting, and not just ironic. Consider the number of former Southern insurrectionists of two upheavals (Nandana Goonetilleke being a prime example of the armed activists of the second insurrection) who are now members of the Govt, and some, of the cabinet. Consider also the presence of Lebanon-trained ex-militant Minister Devananda and now, Col Karuna. That tells us something about democracy in general and the flexibility of the Sri Lankan democratic state and party system.

  • I didn’t know that you could get this low Ambassador – calling people who chose to remain in Vanni as being part of the Tiger ‘tribe’. Michael Roberts decided to put these citizens in inverted commas. The Ambassador is more explicit.

    “there can be no united nation without and prior to territorial unification”
    So since the democratic process of ‘nation building’ has failed your theory now is lets browbeat the Tamils into accepting this unified nation?? Wasn’t there territorial unification between 1948 and the late 70s? where was a united nation then? I mean what kind of logic if this Amabassador. I recall your “Tamil politics of tomorrow” article where you don’t mince your words in characterizing the war as between two nationalist projects and between its people.

    Oh there it comes out: two more phases of the war are yet to even start: the third one is serious: “ensuring stability” aka intense militarization of the North and East and wiping out not only the rebels but also those who might have rebel ideas (in Dayan’s words ‘the low intensity conflict phase’). Perfecto.

    And yes the Tamil people’s alternative voices are Karuna and Douglas! The ‘sole’ alternative voices being pushed down the throats of the Tamil people. Indeed how democratic these alternatives are. Mr Ambassador, its been three days since Karuna became a Minister. Still keeps his arms. Its been more than a decade and a half since Mr Devananda became Minister. Still keeps his arms.

  • Agnos

    Mr. Jayatilleka,
    You keep evading real issues and changing the goalposts. It is impossible to stay on point and continue any debate with you. So I will just say something before stopping.

    First you argued that Tamil diaspora’s current actions are tribalist; I rebutted that and you brought up years old action by the LTTE in killing TELO cadre. When I rebutted that, you go onto distorting Senator Casey’s words… then you bring up the JVP.
    The way the JVP insurrection was suppressed, far from being reflecting positively on the Sinhalese society, is a blot on them. I was in Kandy at that time and witnessed the barbarism of the State as well as the JVP–the beheadings, the bodies dumped on the roads, etc. It reflected something fundamental in Sinhalese society. Willingness to indulge in or tolerate extreme violence and brutality by the State; willingness to murder people in the thousands and discard basic tenets of democracy– individual rights, the rule of law, due process. It was a tribalist war if there ever was one.
    The JVP’s totalitarianism could have been easily handled by strengthening democratic institutions while taking proper counter-insurgency actions defensively and offensively.
    Indeed, the brutality of that conflict only reinforced my view that Tamils could never integrate with the Sinhalese society or get any justice from the State. That someone with an academic background and in a diplomatic position would hold the no-holds barred campaign of killings as reflecting positively on the Sinhalese society tells me only that, by indulging for so long in propaganda, that person has become ugly and lost his sanity.

  • Agnos

    Even taking your assertion at face value, Tamils had several reasons why they could not have defeated the LTTE. Firstly, Tamil society did not control any state, with all the power it entails. Secondly, India’s intervention and aid to the LTTE was beyond their control. Thirdly, the Sinhalese polity never agreed even to the basic demands of moderate Tamil leaders, and was increasingly racist and brutal. That gave the LTTE a chance to argue, with some justification, that only their military power would provide some leverage against the brutality of the State. Tamil dissidents who could have opposed the LTTE were lost between the totalitarian LTTE on one side and a lawless, racist State on the other. Such a State never could have provided any motivation for them to join forces with it, except perhaps in the early days of CBK presidency. It was in that environment that LTTE’s totalitarianism thrived.

    Now let me take Bob Casey’s words:
    “The Government of Sri Lanka will not negotiate directly with the LTTE. But it does not appear as though the government has much interest in finding alternative Tamil interlocutors, nor have the Tamils presented a credible alternative to the LTTE.”
    You phrased it only as “the Tamils have yet to throw up a viable democratic alternative.”
    Nor did you address the harsh criticism leveled against your government at the Senate hearing by many people. Even yesterday, 35 congressmen wrote to Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, saying that Sri Lanka is currently on “Red Alert” for genocide. You will hide when that is mentioned.
    You have had a history of distorting other people’s words out of context to put yourself, your State and the Sinhalese in a favorable light.

  • Nicolai

    I little off topic, but in response to some of the comments here. I am frankly sick and tired of the ‘Genocide Talk’. I can certainly speculate that there are several, if not a lot of rogue members of the SLA that do commit atrocities against the civilians and have over the years, just the the Indian army did and just like the US army did and continue to do to the Iraqis, or the Russians did to just about everyone. As far as collateral damage towards the civilians, that happens everywhere. Iraq, Afghanistan, Gaza to name a few.
    But none of the States these armies represented had any Genocide mandate to seek out and wipe out a race, simply because they are members of that race.
    The Sri Lankan government may be guilty of a lot of things, but genocide is not one of them.
    If you are talking about the pogrom of 1983, yes, that was an instance where they searched for Tamils and killed them and the then government (probably) turned a blind eye to it. That was a terrible thing that changed all of our lives forever and one could define those acts as Genocide. Time to let it go guys. I live in Colombo and I do not fear for my life at all. Do I think that one day a big government truck is going to come by my house and drag me and my family off the death camps? No! Now they may drag me off in a white van and threaten to kill me unless I take back what I am saying about the government. Or they may want all my money. Well that is criminal activity plain and simple. It is not Genocide.
    Can the pogrom happen again? I actually don’t think so. Lessons were learned and I am sure many regrets and it will not be allowed to happen by this government. Corrupt they may be. Power hungry they may be. A soon to be dictatorship may be in the works. But genocide? Absolutely not.
    This is what I mean about the disapora extremists and their desire to spread these kinds of negative propaganda amongst each other. Keep the hate going and keep passing it down to your children who have never set foo tin this country. For what? Why?
    Please come back to Sri Lanka and see for yourselves like I have. The perceptive here is much different from the perspective in Canada and the UK. All you have is each other’s one-sided viewpoint and nobody else’s. That is just plain dangerous.
    I used to frequent the Hopper Hut in Toronto’s Scarborough area. The entire strip mall was dominated by Tamil merchants and Tamil people. Many in the community stick together like glue in Toronto. If I ordered take-away food at the hopper hut, they would speak to me first in Tamil, not English. While I waited, I would listen to the conversations around me. I have to admit I totally believed everything they said. How could I not?

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Agnos says, “Firstly, Tamil society did not control any state, with all the power it entails. Secondly, India’s intervention and aid to the LTTE was beyond their control. Thirdly, the Sinhalese polity never agreed even to the basic demands of moderate Tamil leaders, and was increasingly racist and brutal.” He is wrong on all three: the Tamils could have used the Indian state instead of cheering the LTTE on as it fought the IPKF and later , killed Rajiv Gandhi. In short the Tamils could have leveraged the support of the most powerful state in the region, but they chose not to, out of a misplaced sense of superiority even over North India ( one recalls the anti-IPKF slogans of the day). Let me remind Agnos that these anti-Indian sentiments were unveiled during the slaughter of the TELO, a year before the IPKF landing! The Sinhalese polity did agree to a decent reform when segments of it – the State and the democratic Left- supported the Indo Lanka Accord. These segments shed their blood ( Vijaya Kumaratunga) and that of fellow Sinhalese, in a civil war to defend devolution. The dominant stream of Tamil society did not support a parallel struggle, but supported the LTTE against the IPKF. And now they are at a dead end with the Sri Lankan armed forces all around, and not a single state on the planet in support. Good luck.

  • Agnos

    Hello Nicholai,

    The ‘Red Alert’ for genocide was issued by a neutral international group, which looked at the evidence and made a decision. So your getting ‘sick and tired’ has to do with your own ignorance of what has been happening in the North-East for decades, rather than any propaganda by ‘diaspora extremists’.

    So you can continue to stay ‘sick and tired’ and stew in your own ignorance.

  • worf

    worf is right and yet, hasn’t quite grasped it or isn’t ready to acknowledge the truth. As the International Crisis Group has said “The Sri Lankan military must not pursue a strategy of annihilation since it has already achieved its military objectives and essentially won the war. ”

    Are you trying to imply that because the ICG, a think tank, is certain the SL forces have achieved their objectives the war is over? I am not saying the LTTE is going to come back with guns blazing and the turn the tables… no I am trying to remind you of the many premature obituaries the LTTE has had in the past. You have just pulled a serious Fukuyama.

  • Nicolai

    Sorry Groundview. My last off topic comment.

    I just want to say to Agnos. Yes of course I am ignorant of what is truly going on. Red Alert, Fein and many more are convinced there is genocide being praciticed by the Sri Lankan govt. Many say they are committing war crimes, which by the way should not be confused with Genocide. Genocide is a war crime, but war crimes may not include Genocide.
    Also how does Fein learn anything about the conflict, while he sits in his comfortable office in Boston.
    Then there are other non profit groups such as HRW, where some members of the group imply Genocide and others such as Charu Hogg, also of HRW who says the the govt. is not committing genocide, but rather it is the LTTE.
    Anyway Agnos, I know nothing about you. I am unsure whether, you are a member of the Tamil Diaspora or not? My guess is at the very least, you are living abroad given the time of submission. Whoever you are, unless you are really Gotabhaya or Sarath Fonseka, the ones who would be directly issuing the ‘Genocide’ orders, I doubt you would really be any less ignorant than I.
    The best we an do is to speculate based on whatever information we can get, biased as it is from either side.
    I really don’t take too many comments made by the NGOs very seriously. Most of them are just as self serving as the two sides here and the diaspora elements abroad. How many times have the opinions of the UN and Red Cross flip flopped like a yoyo? I have witnessed simple examples of basic human kindness violations being committed by Red Cross personnel right in front of my eyes. Just last week I saw two Red Cross guys, having dinner in a fancy hotel in Nuwara Eliya, absolutely humiliate and bully the waiter for everyone to see, just because he got the order wrong. I have seen repeated simple bad behavior of this kind by many other NGO groups here, the very ones who are supposed to be monitoring human rights at the macro level? Please!!
    Anyway Agnos, I will continue to be ignorant but I will talk to everyone I can from every side and opinion, and then try to speculate the best way possible.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear worf,

    Apart from the fact that i think Fukuyama was essentially right and much misunderstood by those who either vulgarized his idea or misunderstood Hegel, I have never thought the conflict was over. Nor even that this is the last war. Why on earth do you think that in this very piece on which you are commenting, I have sounded the alrm on a fourth generation war? I agree with the ICG that this war is won, though not over. WW2 was won when the Soviet Army broke the back of the Wehrmacht at Stalingrad, but the war took more time to end. Got it?

  • worf

    Dayan: WW2 was won when the Soviet Army broke the back of the Wehrmacht at Stalingrad, but the war took more time to end. Got it?

    This is my point exactly, that is a reading of the situation during the war, that was stated in the post-war period looking back. You are declaring a war’s end within the temporal confines of the war itself. Whether this particular phase or another phase was a decisive time is best determined in the post-war phase. Historically, a lasting analysis of an event is done post-event, anything prior is premature.

  • Suren

    In many ways, it is tragic and sad that Ambassador Jayathikale does not read/write or understand Thamil. Else he would have felt the pathetic apologies made by the Pillayan-the Chief Minister installed by MR regime at the recent gv interview and not wasted his otherwise intellectual energy to argue for a Global Strategy against the Thamil Diaspora.
    Pillayan with his famous subservient smile, chokes when he talks about the powers he has so far ‘’received” to solve the basic issues of daily civil life in the East. Very rightly he says his mind is small to understand why the GOSL has not implemented the minimum of the 13th amendment. This is the ‘’Neganehira Udanaya” that Dr Jayathilake is marketing internationally and wants the global community to take as a token of democratization of the Thamil areas and now support his (GWOTD) the global war on Thamil Diaspora
    If there is a terror-tribe in the Vanni and amongst the Thamils elsewhere, it is only a by product of the historic, systematic and continued terror of the Sinhala centric Sri Lankan state and its abysmal illiberal nature.
    UN Policy Definition on terrorism reads:
    ‘Any act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such an act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act’
    (UN, – Convention for the Suppression and Financing of Terrorism, 1999)

  • Suren

    Disappearances, (Mano Ganehsan has the updated list)
    Imprisonment without trial, (Ganjan Ponnambalam has the long list of youth held under PTI and other emergency regulations. One case I know of, the boy was arrested when he was 17 and last 9 years still in prison without a trail. And the cry of Tissanayagam has no response)
    – Assassinations – we have talked much about Lasantha, Assignation even under police custody goes unchecked.
    – Torture – The Asia Human Right Centre has reported 5000 cases in the past 10 years
    According to the UN convention all these are considered as acts of terrorism. Can Dr J. deny that the state of Sri Lanka has not committed these against its own people whether they are Sinhalas Thamilar or others? From the first act of the independent Ceylon to de-franchise nearly 1 million Thamilar; the Sri Lankan state has continued its oppressive policy particularly against the Thamilar. Only difference is the rules have changed as much as the watchdogs that will support them.
    ‘’Meanwhile, globally, from the US Senate to the UN Security Council, from Ottawa to London, from Brussels to Pretoria, from Delhi to Dili, Sri Lanka is under pressure and scrutiny as never before.” The most meaningful way to debase this pressure on his masters perhaps Dr J should ethnomethodologically argue for a road map to recover Sri Lanka’s long lost democracy. Instead how is it possible that SL’S PRUNHRC in Geneva is happy to follow the military strategy of his defence secretary where the three steps to annihilate terror does not even refer to any democratic nuances. If there is one such alternative, then perhaps the moderate Thamilar Dr is looking for could come forward with minimum hopes.
    History does repeat, but should not this quickly: ‘My hope is that all nations will heed our call, and eliminate the terrorist parasites who threaten their countries or our own’ (Bush 29/01/02)

  • ashan

    looking at the comments – say trailing back about 18-20 months,,, you can be quite aware of the changes happening around us (allows us the ability to see the overall trend)

    1. earlier was LTTE might, SL forces will never be able to capture..
    2. also , VP was the leader – he will make true the dream of elaam state,,

    3. LTTE are loosing the terrotary – but will come back in a unceasing wave…..
    4. armed LTTE leaders will never be caught – have planes,,,

    5.. our dream will persist – we can fight later, like gurrila’s we never wanted land…
    6. democartically we will get our state,,,

    so every one can see within a space of 20 months how things have changed,,,

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Brilliant tracking, Ashan, absolutely spot-on observation. These guys are pathetic when they aren’t hysterical or delusion.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Worf, you are echoing Hegel to the effect that the owl of Minerva takes flight only after the shades of dusk have fallen. I respect that but the Marxist in me makes me think it is possible to identify definitive turning points and preponderant tendencies. As such the war can be recognised as already having been lost by the Tigers, but is not yet over.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    This chap suren says “This is the ‘’Neganehira Udanaya” that Dr Jayathilake is marketing internationally”. He must be hallucinating because I have never used the phrase or made reference to it in my life!

    He then asks: “Instead how is it possible that SL’S PRUNHRC in Geneva is happy to follow the military strategy of his defence secretary where the three steps to annihilate terror does not even refer to any democratic nuances.”

    However, my whole point was that the Defense Secretary’s three phase military programme could succeed only if accompanied by Ambassador Blake’s three stage political programme, which is clearly and explicitly democratic…

    I wrote: “When the conflict shifts back into the low intensity phase, the political and other aspects come to the fore. In point of fact the success of phase two and three of the military effort as outlined by the Secretary of Defense depends increasingly upon these non-military factors. We must develop the political corollary that facilitates and permits the achievement of the security objectives set out. More concretely, we must identify the political accompaniment or “superstructure” of each of the three phases.

    Interestingly enough, I find the necessary political accompaniment of the three phase military programme, in the recent speech at the Foundation of Coexistence by Robert Blake, the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka.”

    Clearly Suren either has a problem of reading or comprehension.

  • worf

    Ashan :so every one can see within a space of 20 months how things have changed,,,

    If things can change so much in 20 months, imagine how they will change in five decades 😉

  • ashan

    ehhhhhhh and ur point is?????//

    worf? you seem too scared to put down what you believe will happen.. rather than quoting the past and saying its too early to tell , go out on a limb and say what you think will happen… say upto 2 years from now? take a wild guess worf

  • Saliya


    Comming back to the topic, Following are my suggestions; the process could be as follows;
    1. First, we must get the commitment from the top, means the president.
    2. Set up a complete data-base of Sri Lankan population
    3. Every earner/worker/politicians/administrators, government or private, profit or wages should have a tax file, especially VAT and Income tax
    4. Any person is traceable, identifiable at every police station and Inland Revenue branches under proper authority to access, online. Even from the Police patrolling car.
    5. Surveillance system with cameras at all the public places

    This can be done in one year if the president permits me, and the evils will be least and developments will follow with more tamed, behaved and disciplined people.

  • Observer 2

    If you’re in the least bit globally aware by now you would have realised that fundamentally the LTTE is a force that has to go. Given the battles the power house nations are engaged in atm, do you really think they will let an organisation with the resume of LTTE will be allowed to prevail? Imagine the moral boost that will be echoed through the mountains of Afghanistan. Imagine who the role model is going to be for the suicidal jeehadists! If it already isn’t! If MR and Gen Fonseka didn’t do it, the CIA and RAW would gladly help someone else to do it.

    Ya, back in the day they used to stir and boil pots like Sri Lanka and destabilise countries just to keep them down. You know so they can import those cheap Nike shoes and clothes. Now some of those actions have had much unanticipated ramifications biting them right back on their ass.

    These politicians who echo false genocide claims all have lot of Tamils in their constituencies and they happily take money – aka election contributions and bribes. It’s as simple as that and you all know it. And seriously once they’re in power they act upon their intelligence reports, not the community hall lobbyists. Because end of the day they love America, Canada, Australia etc. Not Eelam! They couldn’t care less after grabbing the vote.

    I’m writing this because some people obtain tunnel vision in their determined hatred.

  • Suren

    Hegemony in Approach
    Hegemony in Analysis
    Hegemony in Attitude
    Hegemony in Anything
    That is what you get when dealing with Dr J.
    Sanjana, (CEO GV) often credits ambassador Jayathilake for his so neat comparative democratic values as found in none in the MR regime. OK let’s agree with that for the moment.
    But the crucial unanswered issue is where the proposal, for a democratic recovery in Sri Lanka ? Can the writer/author/diplomat/intellect/leftist/revolutionary /former rebel etc etc in Dr J give a strategic direction to his masters in Colombo how they are going to rebuild a united democratic (never mind the socialist part) Sri Lanka?
    Let him propose a recovery plan with a time bound action plan. Let us hear how Ananda Sangari, Varathan, Sidharthan, Karuna and Pillayan and Douglus – his alternative politicians are going to work with the Colombo regimes and bring peace and democracy to Thamilar… Then we could invite Wimal W and Athuraliye Rathne to give us the implementation strategies. After all Dr J is the proponent of the popular Post-Praba -prosperity thesis, I believe he also must be capable of this road map. I hope then the Thamils will have ‘’something to sell” at ‘’an affordable price”
    Political superstructures-Social Mega structures and economic infrastructures, Should not all these fine concepts lead us to some peace where democracy will be the common currency? After all thesis have no validity without an empirical execution.