Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Post-War

13th Amendment: Why non-implementation is a non-option

The warning about the risk of triumphalism came days before the 65th anniversary celebration of D Day, by the leaders of the US, UK and France. In the USA there are annual re-enactments of the battles of the American Revolution – the War of Independence against Britain —and of the Civil War against the Secessionist Confederacy. While the risk of triumphalism does indeed exist and must be cautioned against, I think there is yet another risk, an opposite one, which we must avoid. The USSR which triumphed over the bulk of the Nazi fascist army, collapsed without a shot being fired, and that collapse was preceded by an ideological surrender in which everything positive in its history was turned upside down and held up for derision. In the recovery of its self-respect under President Putin, one of the first steps was to restore pride in the wartime achievements of the Red Army. Sri Lanka must learn this lesson. We have nothing to be ashamed of in our martial feats throughout our long history, whether successful (Dutugemunu) or valiant failures against stupendous odds (Puran Appu). All we have to be ashamed of are periods of division, appeasement, surrender and occupation such as the Kandyan Convention of 1815, 450 years of colonialism in parts of the island, a century without armed resistance after the uprising of 1848, or the period of the CFA during which Prabhakaran built up a state within a state with the support or tacit approval of our elected government.

My own view is that we should not only declare 2009 The Year of Victory and have celebrations at a provincial level, since every province (including Jaffna) contributed to the victory and benefited from the liberation from fascist terror and tyranny, but that we should also declare May 19th as Victory Day, to be commemorated by future generations down the ages.

External, extra-regional pressure, channeled through the international system and its multilateral institutions, is focusing on two issues: “full, rapid and unimpeded humanitarian access” to the IDPs, accountability and an independent/impartial international inquiry and a UN role (“a central role” in the words of some dignitaries) domestic political reconciliation between the communities. The agenda is clear: while access is desirable, unimpeded, i.e. unregulated access would allow a swarm of international personnel who would encyst the IDP camps and turn into a semi-colonial antibody within Sri Lankan territory, reporting to their international headquarters which themselves are penetrated by covert metropolitan agencies of one sort or another. It is not paranoid to speculate that some would entice the IDPs with promises of refugee status in the West in exchange for false testimony of so-called war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan military, many of whom lie dead or disabled because we deliberately and rightly desisted from using airpower extensively in the final offensive against an deadly enemy entrenched among civilians. Having eliminated one separatist political entity that was not under the control of the Sri Lankan state, we would be permitting yet another space which is not subject to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty.

This does not mean that the IDPs must not be treated as decently, humanely, equitably and generously as possible and processed out as fast as possible. Even from a counter-terrorism perspective, it is unwise to have large numbers concentrated in any one place under difficult circumstances. Under the US military’s new counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine designed mainly by warrior-scholar Gen David Petraeus, PhD, the policy of “clear, hold and build” eschews long term internment or resettlement in fortified villages of large numbers, in favor of early re-settlement in their original domains. Our IDPs must be relocated in their own homes or villages, and the joint communiqué of Governments of Sri Lanka and India as well as that of the Govt of Sri Lanka and the UN Secy Gen commits us to so resettling the bulk of the IDPs within 180 days. But this must be by primarily local efforts, involving the state, the local government authorities, the private sector, the civic associations and NGOs.

Ours is not a stalemated war with a negotiated outcome, still less an internationally mediated outcome – which is the endgame that was sought by some Western sources as the war drew to a close. We warded off such attempts at abortion. Ours was an outright victory for the democratic forces against the tyrannical and totalitarian; the forces of national re-unification against the forces of secessionism and dismemberment. Whether and when accountability and transitional justice issues will be addressed, and how, with what combination of local and foreign expertise, must and can only be a sovereign decision.

While we are on the subject of independent impartial international inquiries, why not appoint one into the activities of the Tamil Tigers, which includes how they succeeded in building a state within a state, with the help of which collaborationist personalities and agencies, elected and unelected, local and foreign? Now that we are besieged by calls for rapid, full and unimpeded access, the Sri Lankan people surely deserve to know what took place — and especially the degree of international involvement with the Tigers, naming the external agencies and personalities involved in buttressing the LTTE.

It is absurd and unthinkable that there should be any role for the UN in domestic political reconciliation. We know what happened in Kosovo with UN involvement, and in any case the Serbian army lost the Kosovo war, we did not. Elements in the West, allied with the pro-Tiger Tamil Diaspora seek a role for the UN in political reconciliation in order to secure for the Diaspora based Tiger political network (though they would claim it is for the Tamil minority) the kind of political role in the postwar settlement that is ruled out by the outcome of the war. Some could not obtain for the Tigers or rather the Tamil Diaspora, or for the Tigers on behalf of the Tamil Diaspora, a stalemate on the battlefield. They are now trying to obtain a stalemate at the negotiating table. This will not work either. We have nothing to negotiate with the pro-Tiger Diaspora. Any negotiations will be with the Tamil democrats, i.e. the non Tiger Tamils. This too will probably be fuelled by the new parliamentary balance that results from the holding of elections. None of this provides political space or a political role for any extra-regional entity or elements.

I for one am for a General Fonseka’s idea of 300,000 strong military, though it should be as balanced between the three services and as multiethnic as possible. Sri Lanka is being subject to intense external pressure and these could turn coercive in one form or another. We must have a capacity to deter them from which ever quarter they emanate, and the sole way of doing this is to have a trained military which is capable of imposing unacceptably heavy casualties on any hostile force that steps on our soil, whatever its technological advantages. We must, if needed, merge our own successful strategy, tactics and weapons systems with those that are valuable of the defeated Tigers, creating a deadly Sri Lankan military synthesis. Of course, the cost of maintaining a 300,000 strong military must not be at the expense of investment in education and social services, or else we’ll doom ourselves to stagnation as a nation that simply cannot compete in the world, not least with its enemy, Tamil separatism.

Does this mean that the Tamil people will be under the Sinhala jackboot? This is the scenario that is painted in order to justify the slogan of “unfettered access”, “international inquiry” and a “central role for the UN in political reconciliation”. There are only two types who think that this is a likely scenario: the bloc of Tamil separatists/ultranationalist, the UNP leaders, the Sinhala liberals and their Western allies on the one hand, who fear this outcome or thrive on it, and on the other hand the Sinhala chauvinists and supremacists who fantasize along the same lines; one person’s nightmare being another’s fantasy. The Tamil ultra-nationalists think that the 13th amendment is too little, too late and in any case will never be implemented by the Rajapakse administration due to its own ideological predispositions as well as the pressure of the Sinhala chauvinists. For their part the Sinhala chauvinists think that the 13th amendment is too much, and in any case they can prevail over the Rajapakse administration not to implement it. In their dark fantasies both these extremist camps have forgotten one “tiny” factor: India.

The full, if reasonably graduated implementation of the 13th amendment is the cornerstone of our postwar relationship with India, the relationship with which is the cornerstone of our international relations. As the paradigmatic victory in Geneva showed, we can win against the Tiger Diaspora and the Western European bloc influenced by it, when we are supported by our neighbors, our continent and our natural constituency the developing world plus Russia. In this strategy the support of India is critical. Without India’s support, the rest will distance itself from us, leaving us wide open to Western pressure and coercion. China alone cannot carry the weight: it is too far away and cannot be expected to risk its relationships with important powers for the sake of Sri Lanka.

Contrary to the nonsense of Sinhala racist propaganda, the implementation of the 13th amendment is not the tithe or “protection money” (kappan) paid by the Sri Lankan state to Tamil separatism and/or our Western critics and adversaries. It is the minimum cost of accommodation between the Sinhalese who are the majority on the island and the Tamils who dwarf the Sinhalese outside it. It is the only way to balance the two aspects of Sinhala collective existence: a majority on the island and minority worldwide, as well as the dual character of Tamil collective existence- a majority outside the island and a minority within it. The implementation of the 13th amendment, and the equitable expeditious treatment of the IDPs, constitutes the minimum requirement for Sri Lanka to retain its friends and allies in the face of a hostile Western project. It is also  the sole realistic option  by which the Sri Lankan state, the Government, the Sri Lankan military and the Sinhalese can retain the support of the anti-Tiger Tamil democrats and through them the moderate Tamils on the island with whom coexistence and partnership are imperative.

(These are the strictly personal views of the writer).

  • Heshan

    “I for one am for a General Fonseka’s idea of 300,000 strong military, though it should be as balanced between the three services and as multiethnic as possible.”

    Dayan J. wants to infuse the 99.9% Sinhala-Buddhist Army with a Tamil or two. How amusing!

  • Anonymous

    Sri Lanka shoould get tghe other Stable Democracies as example and accordingly should organize Sri Lankan Political system. 13th Amendment or the Indian system do not suit Sri Lanka at all for the simple reason because India is not a stable country politically.

    Since the Colonial time, Sri Lanka politicians neglected priorities for Sri Lanka. What is going in Sri Lanka is all other majority populations, whether ethnic or religious, are trying to overpower and subjugate Sinhala-Buddhist civlization which is found only in Sri Lanka.

    That should be changed.

  • Anonymous

    13th amendment is not Democratic at all.

    IT is something that installed by the weak Sri Lankan politicians because of Indian bullying.

    Sri Lankan govt did not inform people or did not ask people about it.

    Even, LTTE did not like it and even most Tamils did not like it.

  • Wasantha Ranagala

    A chameleon from an unknown variety. You must be still dreaming of a ministerial post in a Varadharaja type Eelam. Only obstacle is the Anagarika tribe Chauvinists, extremists and Buddhists. Regrettably you have become a castaway in a desert where you can only talk about 13th and plus to a group of your own kind in a sideshow.

    Did you listen to MR.Did you listen to Gota. Did you listen to Sarath F. Did you listen to Sarath W. All in unison said only one thing. That’s indigenous solution. NO 13th which Rajiv the rogue imposed on us by twisting the arm of another rogue JRJ. That too for the time being. More clarity to come. Your theorems are like the ones written on the sand. Obama the Gonibilla haunting over Sinhalese that you wrote at the time of US election is still fresh in mind. Now from an outpost scribbling nonsensical ideas to a great nation that stood the test of time with people like you. The day will not be far that you will be categorized with the bunch of traitors who are awaiting the death knell.

    Our battle plan against the western imperialists at Geneva was drawn up by MR and a ring of patriots, in reminiscent of great warrior Dutugemunu, from the day one they took office in December 2005. Strengthening relations with our friendly nations proved its validity at the right time. India defended us to the hilt because MR fought her battle against the clowns in Tamil Nadu. Has India got any choice? Betray SL at your own peril was for India. Be aware that India did not support us nor it wanted us to win. Maximum, a stalemate India and the west expected.

    By playing doubletalk to suit the occasion you have lost the support of the Tamil separatist who come in various forms as moderates. It’s a forgone conclusion that you have an unrelenting hate against this nation because after 1948 this nation could not be converted to a society similar to Philippines, a pariah nation, that was Christianised according to your Cross believers. Its hurting isn’t it? So you may put forward all the gibberish until the kingdom come.

  • Athula

    This writer is an agent of Tamil Diaspora that has not given up their wish to get the island to set up a state run by criminals next door to India that they could use its easily penetrable market for contraband. He/she starts as if saying Sri Lanka ought to do things on its won and ends by saying she has to do the bidding of India and those who oppose splitting up the country are chauvinists.

  • Ram2009

    Dayan J. has done an excellent job in protecting Sri Lanka from the verbal assaults of the neocolonial western-sponsored “human rights” industry. However, there may not be many Sri Lankans who are keen on the 13th A. which was signed under duress and without parliamentary approval, and hence is illegal.
    Equal rights also demand equal responsibility, and this what we must demand of those who,preached and practiced racial politics in the past. The disappearance of “ethnic” political parties would be a good start. There are many of us who would love to see politics played in pure economic terms.

  • aadhavan

    “The day will not be far that you will be categorized with the bunch of traitors who are awaiting the death knell. ” –

    Ambassador, surely you must have known that the monster that you were feeding will turn inwards at some point. Perhaps not right now, but the writing is on the wall ain’t it?

  • dayan jayatilleka

    Wasantha Ranagala not only cannot write a grammatically in Emglish, he obviously cannot read the language either, because if he could he would have read the following passages which clearly state the position of Presdent rajapakse and his Govt on the matter of the 13th amendment:

    “Both sides also emphasized the urgent necessity of arriving at a lasting political settlement in Sri Lanka. To this, the Government of Sri Lanka indicated that it will proceed with implementation of the 13th Amendment.

    Further, the Government of Sri Lanka also intends to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil parties, in the new circumstances, for further enhancement of political arrangements to bring about lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.”

    –Joint press statement issued after India’s National Security Adviser M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon met President Mahinda Rajapaksa in Colombo on 20th and 21st May 2009.

    “President Rajapaksa expressed his firm resolve to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, as well as to begin a broader dialogue with all parties, including the Tamil parties in the new circumstances, to further enhance this process and to bring about lasting peace and development in Sri Lanka.”

    — joint statement by UN Secretary-General and the Government of Sri Lanka

    I have read nothing by Secy Defense Gotabhaya Rajapakse or any of the Service Chiefs including Gen Sarath Fonseka which is against or critical of the 13th amendment or which says that GOSL will not or should not implement it. If Ranagala can find something which says otherwise, he should quote it, instead of hallucinating.

    As for Aadhavan, there was and always is the danger of chauvinism within a broad antifascist struggle which necessarily has to tap into nationalist sentiments ( Russia, WW2, The Great patriotic war). No one even remotely aware of my political history would think i am unaware of the dangers of Sinhal chauvinism. But that does not mean one should not , or should not have singles out the primary contradiction at any given phase of history. Prabhakaran was a Monster, and Wijeweera was a Monster. Sri Lankan democracy and the Sri Lankan people dealt with them both.

  • A.Hettiarachchi

    Are we a nation of ungrateful people. Earlier it was Israel, now according to Rannagala it is Piliphines. Didn’t Britten help us for Mahaveli?

  • A.Hettiarachchi

    Sorry, Britain

  • Bruno Umbato

    I think Dayan’s ‘forgotten one -tiny- factor: India” has now begun to undestand the problem of having strong tamil power in Sri Lanka. This ‘tiny factor India’ has now in the process of understanding that any strong tamil power will have detrimental effect to the unity of India. Look at the Menon’s approval of the SL president’s remark that SL fought India’s war. So I feel that India is open for new thinking in regards to 13 amendment and other old thinking. For sensible srilankans, they should think very very hard before experimenting with any amendments in the view of the srilankans tamil diospora’s extreme/ugly/hard behaviour towards Sri Lanka.

  • Any other large modern military can quickly impose its will on the smaller less advanced military in a conventional war. 300K or 200K won’t make a huge difference given the high desertion rate.

  • Dayan John

    Dear Dayan Jayatileke

    1. It was the understanding of many Sri Lankans, that the GOSL made an undertaking to resettle all IDPs in 180 days, and not “Bulk” of the IDPs as you say. Please Dayan, I beg of you to clarify.

    2. I think the state should go ahead and name the NGOs and other agencies that Collaborated with the tigers. But when this is done, the definition of “Collaboration” will be key.

    3. Dayan, while we are engaged in this all important dialogue in post conflict Sri Lanka, what you , me, the President and the rest of the world, should agree is that, while the polarization between the Sinhala and Tamil communities has intensified, there is a trend of unification between the pro-tiger tamil diaspora and the moderate tamil community, who hope for tamil liberation.

    So all actions now should be taken bearing this undeniable truth. We need to win
    over the Leaderless Tamils now. This window of opportunity will not last for long.

    4. Well said Dayan, I,m in total agreement with the following statement “The full, if reasonably graduated implementation of the 13th amendment is the cornerstone of our postwar relationship with India , the relationship with which is the cornerstone of our international relations.”

    5. However, I,m surprised to hear this from you : “….have a trained military which is capable of imposing unacceptably heavy casualties on any hostile force that steps on our soil….”
    Remember Dayan, this was the thinking of the Pre world war II policy of Japan.

    6. Again, the following statement is the type of critical analysis that we expect from someone like you, Well said indeed. “The implementation of the 13th amendment, and the equitable expeditious treatment of the IDPs, constitutes the minimum requirement for Sri Lanka to retain its friends and allies in the face of a hostile Western project.”

    God Bless Sri Lanka

  • Leon

    What no one seems to want to comment on is Dayan’s increasingly unashamed Putinolatry, itself a thin veil for the real thing – good old-fashioned Stalinism. There were some spectacular examples of this in his Geneva days. Let’s hail the return to celebrating the great achievements of the Red Army, not least in Chechnya, let’s hail the murder of irritating journalists and human rights activists, and let’s remember the really great achievements of the October Revolution! I mean of course the Gulags, the purges, oh and the recurrent paranoid anti-Semitism that infested the ruling circles of the USSR and is of course increasingly visible in Putin’s Moscow.

    By their heroes shall ye know them.

  • Manushi

    I am in total agreement with Dayan. People, what’s will all this bitterness and jealousy ?

  • //I for one am for a General Fonseka’s idea of 300,000 strong military

    //Of course, the cost of maintaining a 300,000 strong military must not be at the expense of investment in education and social services

    How is this possible when maintaining the 200,000 military was also at the expense of education and social services. It is about time for colombo based intellectuals to venture pass Moratuwa and Kelaniya once in a while.

  • dayan jayatilleka

    Dear Dayan John,

    “bulk of” comes from the two improtant joint statements: GOSL-GOI and GOSL- UNSG.

    Japan maybe, but it has sure worked for Cuba, Vietnam and Tito’s Yugoslavia. Any nation faced with a hostile external environment and manifest threats must be able to defend itself.

    Dear Leon,

    Or should I call you Lev? It is a pleasure to read a literate critic, especially after the Ranagalas of the world. However, your aside about “hailing the murder of journalists” is quite unfair as any reader of my signed pieces on the murders of lasantha Wickrematunga and DP Sivaram would concede.

  • Heshan

    “300,000 strong military”

    More than 99% will come from the villages, as usual. I doubt a single Minister will send their son. And what will these 300,000 do? So far the only incentive that GOSL is offering are a few acres of land with a wood hut. The salary of the average soldier is laughable, especially when u consider the exchange rate of the rupee. GOSL is simply robbing more futures away to uphold its silly agenda of Tamil suppression.

  • Heshan

    “Any other large modern military can quickly impose its will on the smaller less advanced military in a conventional war.”

    Well said, The Chinese military is more than a million strong but much of its weaponry is outdated.

  • Bruno Umbato

    dayan jayatilleka’s criticism about Wasantha Ranagala’s ideas based on srilankan president’s comments/statements in various times. I also can quote president’s comments to the opposite effect. Look at president statement of “home grown” solutions which i think he meant was different to already existing solutions including 13th amendment.
    Professor Nalin de Silva wrote in his very recent articles that the Tamils in Sri Lanka do not and did not have a problem as being Tamils except for their unwillingness to recognise the Sinhala Buddhist culture as the significant culture in Sri Lanka.
    Eventhough Dayan might not like this idea, he will surely back the Nalin’s thinking about west. Here it is – “We know that the British and the west have never loved our country and that they would not have paid the NGO and INGO peace mongers and others if the latter loved the country.”
    I whole heartedly salute Dayan for his brave actions against LTTE/terrorism/separatism but his soft spot for ‘fedaralism/13th amendment’ for idealogical reasons would not play good for Sri Lanka’s future. We need new thinking. People should drop the Idealogical baggages they carry for decades and should start fresh thinking. Sticking hard to old thinking only make these people irrelevant which is not good for Sri Lanka – because these experienced people has lot to offer in navigating the country out of these trouble times.

  • Manushi

    I was in Sri-Lanka three years ago with my Dad, and we travelled almost everwhere in the island without any problem. To me, Sri-Lanka is truly multicultural, as I heard people speaking in Tamil, Sinhala and English wherever I went. No one batted an eyelash at the different ways in which people were dressed, and, or, spoke. Having lived in Canada most of my life, I am sad to say that we have been bombarded by LTTE propaganda; the media here constantly tries to vilify Sri-Lanka as a brutal regime.

    Although my Dad and I have Tamil surnames, we were not harrassed at any of the checkpoints during out three month stay. Even my sister who travelled to Sri-Lanka on her own at a very young age never faced any harrassement.
    My mother, too, went there alone last year. Things may have happend to other Tamil people at check points or wherever, but it is highly disingenuous to return to Canada and give a false report.

    I am only stating my experience.

  • Wasantha Ranagala

    Glib mouthing about a forced amendment to a constitution of a nation would not win the day for you Dr.No. Eelam if not by war lets have it by duplicity. That’s what Chief Minister Varadharaja Perumal in the company of Hon Minister for Deception Dr.Dayan-anda- de Silva alias Jayathilake tried and failed miserably. It seems that the bunch of generals you promoted with a view to downsize the armed forces when Chauvinists (Buddhists) were down and almost out has now been distanced. So you think that MR, Gota, SF, SW, et al have fallen for your trap. Just look beyond your long nose buddy. A language 2500 years old, rich in culture and folklore is not easily understood by Dr.da Silva, an ardent member of the 1505 clan.

    In retrospect there is no whatsoever doubt now that you must be the architect of those hilarious 3 Cs that Sucharitha Slum Dog preached from every podium. Thank you for the fun enjoyed. By any chance that mobile Throne is also a novel imagination of yours?

    Except you, rest of the nation -Tamils included- has understood the policy that the above Chauvinists/Buddhists declared in unanimity. You must be pissing in your pajamas in your nightmares when you see what the Chauvinists/Buddhists generals would do to you the day they get you -at the right venue- for your UD of Eelam with VP. You missed the opportunity to take a good look at the All Mighty from the edge of Nandikadal lagoon in Amude thanks to Perumal who made his UDI only from overseas.

    Your mom, as you mentioned once, should be still praying for Virgin Mary from dawn to dusk for her son to win a cabinet portfolio. If not in an Eelam cabinet let it be in a Chauvinists (Buddhists) one. I genuinely feel sorry for that poor woman. Nonetheless, I should appreciate your never say die attitude to reach that goal by hook or by crook. So keep on trying –hoodwinking- both Tamils and Sinhalese with Gobblesian mantra. The negative response you have received so far from both communities is a clear indication that they have read and read damn well all the twisting you make with contempt. Amen.

  • Manushi

    Ranagala says: “The negative response you have received so far from both communities is a clear indication that they have read and read damn well all the twisting you make with contempt”.

    I think Dayan has received a lot of positive response from all free thinking individuals throughout the world. To be hated by racists – no matter the community – only goes to show that he is on the right track !

  • The Underdog

    Sri Lanka has often been a playground for the conflicts of other nations (most disastrously for us during the Cold War when JR sided with the US against an irritable, non-aligned–and yet aligned with the USSR–India, who promptly armed and fed the Tamil militant movement). So in this light, I see DJ’s point in calling for a larger military that can resist meddlesome external forces. We have been a pawn in someone else’s game for too long, and a part of the triumphalism in SL today is a belief that we will never allow that to happen again. And yet again we seem to have become a playground for the new cold war between the West and China. China is rapidly expanding its navy, and is accelerating development of the Hambantota port so that it can refuel there, thereby gaining a solid footing in the Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. The West’s ‘concern’ for human rights in SL while it commits far worse in Pakistan/Afghanistan could also be seen as kicking and screaming while this region is pulled out of their hands and the balance of power shifts inexorably east. So are we not again becoming a pawn in someone else’s game? Could it be that the expansion of our military will be funded by the Chinese to counteract Indian (now aligned with the US) influence? Is it not possible that we are moving toward a Putin-type regime that is more monarchy than democracy? And lastly, are we not leaving the door open for a ‘General’ to save us from the ‘ignominy’ of the 13th amendment that is being viewed traitorously by the sinhala chauvinists?

  • Dayan John

    Thank you Dayan Jayatileke,
    for responding to me. I feel honoured.

    1. The” Bulk of the IDPs” may be in the joint statements you mentioned, but it definitely is not what Sri Lankans were led to believe.

    2. See, where post war, demilitarized Japan is in contrast to Vietnam, Cuba and Yugoslavia. We need to systematically demobilise,to avoid major social issues.

    3. Keep writing Dayan, although i don’t agree with 80% of what you say, I think this dialogue absolutely Key for a New Sri Lanka.
    God bless Sri Lanka

  • Realist

    Daya has forgotten our history which commenced with the deception and treachery to Kuveni. Since then lies, deception treachery are the bywords of Sinhalese governance and rule.the British realized it and called it ‘native cunning’. Foreigners are fools who should be deceived. If Dayan is really playing an independent role he better look sharp.

  • Realist

    Dayan has forgotten that peace can arise only out of a shared humanity. The ordinay people among the Sinhalese still have this shared human fellow feeling as shown after the tsunami and even the more recent sufferings of the IDPs. But triumphalism promotes the opposite of fellow feeling and it is the stuff of tyrants who hope to ride to power on a fascist type patriotism which in this case cannot but be confined to the Sinhalese.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    This guy Ranagala has been unable to contradict the quotes from official statements made by the President, pledging to implement the 13th amendment and even consider going further. He has also been unable to come up with a single quote from any member of the ruling elite , which contradicts this assertion. And now, he ‘s really lost it.

    dayananda who?

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Realist,

    There is peace in Chechnya but as for “shared humanity”…well I’ll take your word for it. I think you are getting peace mixed up with something else…like harmony or happiness.

  • Realist

    Dear Dayan
    No I am not mixing up peace with harmony. There was shared humanity feeling among the Sinhalese in the South after the tsunami.Tehre was some fellow feeling after the recent war victory when the Southern Sinhalese despatched goods to the IDPs but most of it was artificial. It is only by cultivatting such shared humanity feelings that there can be peace.
    You have mixed up the warr victory celebrations in Europe after the World War II with our own trriumph in a civil war against people we like to claim as our own. these were not civil wars but wars of nations against outsdie enemy nations that occupied their lands and bombed them. The American Civil War was not celebrated with such triumphalism. Abe Lincoln had always bent backwards to accommodate the South and negotiated for peace while the war was on. He refused to torture the soldiers who had been captured and did not lay waste southern territory. His word was accepted by Southern Generals who urged their followers to surrender because an honourable peace had been secured. He was assassinated before the end of the war but his lessons had been learnt and even deserters of the southern armies were allowed to roam for a time plundering the civilians. Historians agree that it is this magnanimity in victory that healed the wounds of war and led to a perrmanent United States of America.

  • Heshan

    No one should kid themselves that the 13th Amendment will be fully implemented. Look at what Basil Rajapakse said in an interview with “The Nation.”

    Q: While elections to the provinces are considered important why not also consider devolving powers to the peripheries essential by the government?

    Basil Rajapakse : You see, it is only the newspapers and some rich people in Colombo who are concerned about devolving powers to the provinces. People at the grassroots are very happy with what they have.

  • SomeOne

    Dear Dayan J,

    As long as we are in the “mind set” of the two persons in the boxing ring NONE of the amendments will work.

    My view is that, no one has the right to hold the people in the so called IDP camps. It is the people’s basic right to live in the place where they born. Holding the people against their will in itself is violation of human right.

    The term “resettlement” doesn’t mean any thing because these people are wanni people mind you (NOT city people who depend on out side world).

    People are often use the word “demining” but wanni people were living among mines for more than 30 years. To give you some idea, the wanni children and the children of children lived in heavily mined areas in wanni. Now, you guys are worrying about the wanni people safety.

    Other nasty word I heard was “screening”. Are these people like crushed metals to be segregated for building and road works?. All in all it shows the total lose of trust.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    You said:
    “My view is that, no one has the right to hold the people in the so called IDP camps. It is the people’s basic right to live in the place where they born. Holding the people against their will in itself is violation of human right.”

    An apparently evident fact and one that few people will disagree with in theory. In an ideal world, none of this should have happened should it?

    But that’s not the reality. You speak of Wanni people as if they have built-in metal detectors. The LTTE doubtless heavily mined their wake as they retreated, so it probably isn’t entirely untrue that some heavy demining needs to be done.

    But the real reason of course appears to be “screening”. Again, you speak in ideal terms as if all the people here are all normal civilians who wouldn’t hurt a fly and are being illegally held against their will by a cruel, monstrous government. It’s always nice to have a single villain, makes things black & white and easier to digest. But the reality is that there are possibly thousands of LTTE cadres mingling with the rest of the civilians. And who are the rest of the civilians? Their own families, who are duty bound to protect them.

    And there in lies the moral dilemma. The only way out is mass-rehabilitation, for a people who have lived, breathed and come to accept having “terrorists” in their midst as the norm for 30 years. Your outlook is clearly simplistic if you think this is a simple black & white case of civilians being illegally held against their will. In an ideal world, nothing will happen if you let them all go. But in the real world, these remaining cadres may likely fall back to the only way of life they’ve experienced for 30+ years. That’s why rehabilitation and efforts to improve the conditions in these camps are more important than empty moral rhetoric which seems to be flying around in abundance these days. It’s one thing to say what “ought” to be done, it’s another matter altogether to do it.

    Please read Michael Roberts’ “Dilemma at War’s End” article published on ground views a few months back.

  • Straight Talking

    Thank you to Dayan Jayatilleke for the effort in engaging with this type of forum. Your post contains some powerful ideas and insights. I agree with your sentiments but wish to comment on two issues.

    First, now is a good time to move away from espousing inquiries in to the activities of the dark forces among the INGOs who acted against the overall interests of the people of Sri Lanka. While the threat of inquiry and exposure may well act as a deterrent to some in the INGO community calling for our blood, let us emphasise the need to move forward. The misdeeds of the INGOs must be exposed but I am sure they have bad records elsewhere and let us try and encourage others to do this exposing on behalf of victims everywhere. I have no doubt there is a worthwhile story here that will eventually be picked up and run by an investigative journalist from the west. Let our local energies be directed to the imperatives of the moment and skip all inquiries for now (at least the next 20 years).

    The more important issue concern your comments on the need for devolution of powers.
    You say :
    “…the implementation of the 13th amendment … is the minimum cost of accommodation between the Sinhalese who are the majority on the island and the Tamils who dwarf the Sinhalese outside it.”

    I absolutely agree with the need for devolution of powers because any other path would be inconceivable on many fronts. If nothing else the Sinhalese would be blamed by the Tamils and the IC evermore for all the poor economic circumstances faced by Tamils – which may in practice be no different to the economic disadvantages of many Sinhalese. But the “political science” analysis you give in support of it bring forth powerful negative feelings in many Sinhalese and will turn them against the notion and feed the fires of discontent. Also the Tamil community (including the diaspora) seems to have a lot of issues to sort out among themselves and they can best do that in a “devolved environment” without holding the other communities responsible for their long standing internal issues as well.

    So why not explore what everyone may gain from the concept of devolution so long as statutory discrimination based on ethnicity is proscribed throughout the country.

    Having lived outside SL for over 30 years I appreciate I am out of touch with the ground realities. But for example why are the so called “Sinhala chauvinists” not excited by the very significant potential for regional autonomy to be a force to uplift the Sinhalese in the south of the country ?

    After all Sinhala Buddhist values will be more defendable and therefore more likely to endure and be considered as worthwhile by all when the community that most celebrate those values is better educated, better employed and more prosperous overall.

    Perhaps the country should be governed as 3 provinces. One in the north and the east, one in the south with HQ in Galle and the rest. Every Sri Lankan should then find a place best suited to them. We may well end up with a system of provincial governance where the competitive instincts of the Sri Lankan people (including the Tamil diaspora and often underestimated Sinhala diaspora) can play out for the benefit of all.

    When the Sri Lanka community is better educated and more prosperous there is a much greater likelihood people will be nicer to each other and invest in upholding civil and political institutions in the country as the failure to do so will adversely affect their achievements.

  • SomeOne

    Dear Mr/Ms SomeWhatDisgusted,

    “…Please read Michael Roberts’ “Dilemma at War’s End” article published on ground views a few months back….”

    You go and read the comments which I have written on 4th of March on the same article “Dilemma at War’s End” by Michael Roberts which you have mentioned.

    Michael Roberts’s writings are based on 2nd and 3rd hand information he received. On top of that, these people’s (Michael Roberts) system of values and thinking pattern are different from that of ours.

    End of the day, it is we who should decide our destiny.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Someone >>

    You may be right, but whether Michael Roberts heard it first hand or heard it ten times removed, doesn’t really invalidate the points he makes. I’m more interested in knowing how to address the practicalities of this situation. Just saying “let them go” is very nice in theory. What are your suggestions for dealing with the realities?

  • SomeOne

    Dear SomewhatDisgusted,

    First of all, thank you for respecting my views.

    I am a law abiding ordinary citizen. I don’t know about you. All what I am saying is that we, simply, cannot compromise on “basic human right”. The terms ideal world, real world, practicalities, dilemma, etc, etc…cannot come in to the picture when we talk of “basic human rights”.

    We shouldn’t be in a place where we ask this regime to release this people, at the first place. Yes, here we are. What do we do next? We must understand that we are here not by an accident. We are here because of the carefully chosen method of system of governance by the regimes after the independence (or better put it, withdrawal of colonial powers).

    First, we must understand that this problem has a very deep root deeper than 2500 years. After I read your reply between lines, I see that you don’t even scratch the surface. (Probably, you don’t want to go deeper in to it). What I gather from your reply was that the way you perceive wanni and wanni people are totally wrong.

    Your words “…..And there in lies the moral dilemma. The only way out is mass-rehabilitation, for a people who have lived, breathed and come to accept having “terrorists” in their midst as the norm for 30 years. …” clearly show your ignorance. These people (wanni) are patriots and exactly same as the “sinhala budhist” people of this land. These wanni people have deeper root in this land than that of sinhala budhist. Because tamil is older than sinhala and Hindusium is older than budhism.

    In a way, it is not relevant to this discussion. How ever, if you understand that they (wanni people) are not simply terrorist and they have equal footing in this land that is all I want you to know.

    I wish to cut long story short. The change should come from inside out. i.e, the change in our heart will come to our outlook. The outlook of the current regime is not good. It is correctly said when some one say “it is a war with out witness”. There is no transparency before, during, and even after the war. See who the allies of this current regime are. That tells the whole story.

    I don’t want to clutter this web site. Therefore, if you want to discuss further get my email address from the editor and drop me a message please. Talk to you soon. Have a good day.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Someone,

    I hope you noticed that I put the word “terrorists” within quotation marks. There’s a good reason for that. Although we wish to dehumanize people by calling them “terrorists”, at the end of the day, they too are human beings. The question is not how to find and kill them, but how to rehabilitate them into ordinary citizens who will not resort to violence as a means of solving problems.

    If you’ve read my posts before this, you’ll come to realize that I’ve commented on that dimension several times. Most of these “terrorists” blow themselves up with the utter conviction that they are doing the right thing.

    But sympathizing with the situation doesn’t solve the problem does it? As far as the govt. is concerned, many of these people have aided and abetted terrorism. You talk about their basic rights. Of course we should respect any human being’s basic rights but surely, you can’t be so naive as to hide behind a statement like “the terms ideal world, real world, practicalities, dilemma, etc, etc…cannot come in to the picture when we talk of “basic human rights””. I’d like to show you that things are not as black & white as you or I would like them to be.

    There are reports of LTTE activity within the camps (read So you suggest that they be let go. Guess what’ll happen? Regroup, rearm and trigger another war which will once again subject all these people to shelling and bombing?

    Now don’t interpret my point as being that every human being in the Wanni is a “terrorist”. The problem is, you can’t tell and as has been pointed out by Michael Roberts and others, these people have been subjected to having violence as the norm for many years. I’m not placing the blame on them for that, merely observing the reality of it. How do you propose that they have a sense of normalcy restored to them without some rehabilitation program?

    That’s why I said. It’s not merely a question of freedom of movement. It’s a question of quelling a serious danger that could once again unleash untold death and destruction. That’s why hiding behind some abstract ideal with no mention whatsoever of how to solve these problems, helps no one. You’ll be more than happy to quarantine an entire city if it had a deadly disease wouldn’t you? Why? So that the problem is localized and solved. Does that not impinge on the freedom of movement of the individuals in that city? Where are your “ideals” then? What about shop lifters or serial killers. You are happy to incarcerate them so that they can be rehabilitated aren’t you? Does that not violate the felon’s basic human rights?

    Now once again, please do NOT interepret my point as being that all people in the Wanni are terrorists or felons. I merely want to highlight the fact that things are not as morally black & white as you portray them to be, so you cannot and should not hide behind some idealistic statement, ignoring or failing to address the practicalities of this situation.

    So I ask once again, what are your suggestions for dealing with this situation realistically?

  • SomeOne

    Dear SomeWhatDisgusted,

    Thank you for your reply.

    The reason why I wrote the way I wrote was that even I don’t want to hurt others feelings. If my writings annoyed you I am sorry.

    I come to your point directly. Look at what you have said.

    “…You’ll be more than happy to quarantine an entire city if it had a deadly disease wouldn’t you? Why? So that the problem is localized and solved. Does that not impinge on the freedom of movement of the individuals in that city?…”

    This analogy is totally unfit in this context. I use to adopt a philosophy “soft on people tough on problem”. I don’t want to talk on LTTE or “terrorist”. We should NOT spend our energy on them. Every thing stems from our minds. When some one is ready to blow him selves up, the small seed planted in his mind has grown up to the size of monster.

    We have two options to avoid this situation.
    1. Make sure that there is no seeds getting to his heart through his mind.

    2. Even if the seeds get his heart there shouldn’t be any fertile ground in his heart to support the growth of this monster.

    We need to have society with well educated people and proper governing system to over come this situation. Education and governing system should complement each other.

    In 83 July, the good hearted Sinhalese have to put their lives on the line and saved their Tamil friends. The law and order has utterly failed there. I have been in that situation. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here to talk to you. The other day, I was listening to one of the songs from the album of Gypsies “Kiyanne Gothala”. One of the sentence, it goes like this, “…Neethiya Ballata geeya mewage rattak atthula saamaya rajakarannenehe…”.

    Now, you need solution. Not only you every one need solution, for that matter. How many years can you live in this world? Probably, 40, 50 years!!! I don’t think that I can. However, that land should be there and will be there even after 50 years.

    One of the main problems which I identified was that we don’t know what democracy means. We are still living in the medieval period. That is why Rajapaksa became king dutugemunu. I am reproducing my comments wrote under the article by Michael Roberts “Dilemma’s at war’s end”

    “….SomeOne1 said,
    March 4, 2009 @ 8:58 am

    Wijayapala,…. the real “hard reality” is that there is no such thing called “offering political solution” within the frame work of democracy. Majority rules the country. It is simple as that. There shouldn’t be any one to give and any one to take. If we are really interested in finding a solution, we must come out of the square which is the current political frame work. There is no way around it.

    It is not correct to perceive the LTTE as an entity or a group. It can’t stand alone and it is an illusive force. We may not see the LTTE today as it is in 25 years time. Because the world is evolving and changing, therefore, the nature of the conflict will also change with it. The only way to get rid of the LTTE is to get rid of the reason for the existence of LTTE….”

    I believe that we are trying to deal with the “symptoms”. Rather, we should deal with the “root cause” so that the “symptoms” will take care of them selves.

    Now days, collateral damage is accepted norm. It could be even lose of 1000s and 1000s of human life. It’s okay as long as we achieve our objectives.

    Dear SomeWhat Disgusted., I value your advice and comments. Please write direct to me @ the following address.

    [email protected] . If you are living locally, call me on 0409 249 059, alternatively, levee your contact details at this site.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Someone >>

    Thank you for your reply. I too hope I have not been strident in my tone and I only wish to exchange ideas and come to a consensus. I completely agree with you about addressing the underlying issues, but I think we also need to realize that this is once again not a simple black & white issue with a single cause. A huge number of reasons have contributed to the mess we are in today, and trying to reduce it to a single root cause is in my humble opinion, not possible.

    Things like colonial divide & conquer policies, power hungry politicians, identity loss in a post-colonial era, the all important economic factor and many other issues have had complex interplays in bringing us to where we see ourselves today. So when you say address the root cause, which one do you see as the root cause?

    We also need to understand that the problem has mutated and evolved into an all new form as well. What may have originally been justified as a struggle for equality (something I’m more than ready to support although there are many complications here as well) has turned into a violent quest for a racial Eelam, with terrorism as the preferred means to achieve it. How can we address any root cause when people are being blown to bits all around us?

    That’s why I think it’s important to restore some sense of normalcy and get people into a democratic mainstream first. This is an unimaginable mess, and we need to start unravelling it little by little. There is no question that each and every human being in Sri Lanka must have equality. The problem is how do we gradually evolve towards that state from where we are right now?

    Can we open up the cities and let people roam freely when “terrorists” use that opportunity to infiltrate and plant bombs? First, let’s solve the major problem which is preventing any form of progress, “terrorism”. You may argue about state terrorism, but I would prefer a democratically elected terrorist govt. to a crypto-fascist terrorist group any day of the week. At least we can get rid of the govt. at the next round of elections can’t we?

    Then we need to start addressing the remaining issues one by one. I’m not saying things will be solved overnight, but we have to all work together to achieve it, not pull in 10 different directions. One group can’t be asking for a “Tamil Eelam”, another for “Muslim autonomy” and Sinhalese can’t say this is “our country”. We must have a common goal for Sri Lanka, which in this 21st century, ought to be a plural society with a “Sri Lankan” identity. We must banish these primitive ethnic identities like Tamil and Sinhala to the 17th century where they belong, Otherwise, we will never see any progress.

  • The 300,000 strong Armed Forces has one purpose and its creators (GR/SF)
    the owners of white-van democracy is to “field” army garrisons all over
    NE and terrorise the people to vote for MR. This is the so-called “home-
    grown” formula for a political-solution. To hell with India – Tamil-Nadu will
    be crushed by the best army in the world!! The required legislation was
    more hurriedly done, than the Solution promised after the battle.
    Every new recruit Army has to move his/her family to the NE as Votes count.
    This is no colonisation. The Army rules will over-ride all NE regulations.
    This “democracy” will out-wit UN/EU requirements.
    Can someone analyse all the promises made by MR to-date at Overseas
    gatherings etc. and reveal the out-come of those to settle his track-record?

  • SomeOne

    Dear SomeWhatDisgusted,

    Dear SomeWhatDisgusted,

    It is hard for me to give a rock solid answer to your question. However, think about this scenario (probably a hypothetical one) which will help you to think in the right direction.

    Imagine for a while, the people haven’t moved out (willfully or forcibly) of their villages during this operation carried out by the army. The situation would have been worse then.

    How can we win the confidence of the people with out trusting them? As I said before in my previous reply, LTTE cannot stand alone. We should not see them as born terrorists.

    Veluppilai and my father-in-law have been working together in Anuradhapura kachcheri in late 50s. He (my father-in-law) used to tell about Veluppilai’s politeness and kindness. See how his son has turned out.

    Therefore we cannot draw a conclusion and say that this is black and this is white. Some times a black could turn out to be a white and white could be a black. Some ones black is other ones white. It looks funny but it is bloody true.

    Now if we come back to our question. Of course, we are in a cross road now and probably at a lowest point at the moment. For sure, we will bounce back. History repeats itself. This is the problem with the military path. No turning back.

    We are talking about one nation but we are divided into ten nations. I have plenty to talk but it is not the right place to talk. We must respect others privacy too. As I said before, drop a message at my email address.

    Thanks and Regards

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