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

Taking a page from Chechnya: Sri Lanka’s insincere constitutional reform and its apologists

[Editors note: This post which first came to me through Facebook was forwarded to Dayan for comment. His response follows. The emphasis at the end of the article is mine. It is hoped that Aacharya and Dayan will continue this debate along with others on this site, which is more open than Facebook to this type of exchange.]

The soon to come back home UN Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to Geneva, Dayan Jayatilleke has repeatedly wrote about the Chechen (Chechnya) model (yes he loves Russia) for conflict resolution in Sri Lanka:

In a recent interview with David Blacker Dayan noted:

I have long advocated the Chechen solution — an all-out, combined arms war to destroy the terrorist militia, followed by the implementation of some form of autonomy and self-governance for the area and stabilization through the rule of an elected local ally. Our military victory has to be politically conserved and socially stabilised. That’s what my advocacy of the 13th amendment is about.

Earlier this year he wrote:

Do we attempt to imitate the Israelis and practice a policy of occupation, settlements and discrimination, triggering endless cycles of conflict, or do we follow the no less tough-minded but much smarter Russian leaders, who having had to smash the Chechen terrorist insurgency with untrammeled force, have since ensured a high degree of stability by devolving power to their Chechen ally the tough young Ramzan Kadyrov, and transferring enough economic autonomy to guarantee a surge of prosperity in Grozhny?

I excerpt this paragraph from the Times topic introduction to the Chechen issue from the New York Times:

Vladimir Putin anointed Ramzan A. Kadyrov as the region’s president; his father had held the post before being killed by rebels in 2004. Mr. Kadyrov crushed the rebel movement. He has strong support in Moscow, where he is praised for quelling the insurgency, rebuilding areas devastated by the war and rejuvenating the local economy. But he has also been the focus of widespread accusations of human rights violations.

Mr. Kadyrov has sought increased autonomy for Chechnya. That goal may be helped by the official end to Russian counterinsurgency operations, announced in April 2009, a move of at least symbolic value to Mr. Kadyrov.

The announcement also underscored his success in establishing a stability that has, among other things, allowed rebuilding to begin in the obliterated capital city of Grozny. But critics charge that the peace has been achieved through campaigns of unsparing brutality that have included widespread human rights violations.

The announcement did not mention troop withdrawals, though Russian officials said they would now have more legal leeway to scale down the number of federal military and security forces. While the violence in Chechnya has declined, however, the insurgents have not been completely routed, and it seems likely that many troops and security forces will remain there for some time.

I will leave it to my readers to draw the parallels to how GOSL is positioning its local allies in the East and now in the North. It does look like the Chechen solution is taking shape except that President Rajapaksha is trying to do it without giving away anything, not even as basic as the 13th Amendment. So Dayan who presses for it is sent home. Now at least Dayan should come out and say that he was wrong to have expected from this regime anything like even the 13th Amendment and hence that his support for the regime right from the beginning was wrong. He won’t.

  • Response sent to Groundviews by Dayan (who does not use Facebook!):

    Aacharya is wrong on three counts, meaning on all three points he has made. A Chechen solution without even the 13th amendment is no Chechen solution.

    There is no need for me to “admit” I was wrong in my support of this regime from the get-go, just because the administration looks like it is opposed to the 13th amendment.

    As is obvious from the most cursory perusal of my writing, my support for the administration was primarily on the issue of and for the purpose of overcoming the main challenge faced by the country and society; of defeating the main threat, the Tigers and destroying the main enemy, Prabhakaran. The fact that this was indeed achieved demonstrates that far from being wrong, I was correct in my assessment and choice.

    Finally, as I told the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, in 2007, in a discussion at Temple Trees in the presence of President Rajapakse, several Cabinet Ministers, Bishops ( including Bishop De Chickera) and GOSL officials, that veered into Just War theory and a “just outcome” as criteria of a just war, the implementation of the 13th amendment or an adequate political solution will not depend primarily on the wishes, stated intentions, sincerity or goodwill of the President, but on the post-war, post-election political balance in which enhanced Tamil parliamentary representation on the basis of PR, will be a significant factor.

  • Let me try to understand Dayan’s point. This new articulation through his comment to my post here (which is something he claims to have maintained from 2007) is that the new political balance achieved through “enhanced political representation” by Tamils will be the most significant factor and not the president’s wishes, regarding a political solution to the ethnic conflict.

    Dayan has a first class in Political Science from the Colombo University. (I by the way studied Law from the same place) and I am alarmed and in a way sadly amused by the level of political naivety in his statement.

    Dayan is in a way right. He started talking about the 13th amendment more so only after the war ended and specifically was drawn out and called to defend it in his debate with Malinda S (otherwise i doubt he would have done it) His defence of the 13th amendment then has to be seen in the heat of the debate with Malinda. And also if one reads through the debate the reason for his defence of the 13th amendment was more that such an approach would appease India rather than it being what the South should at the minimum give the Tamils.

    In an interview he gave Sanjana in Jan 2009 he makes this point about using proportional representation as a means of solving the problems to which i, under the name ‘Yarlpanathan’ responded in length here on GV.
    I for example referred to the failure of Muslim politics to make any headway through proportional representation after the death of Ashroff. I said “Unless the minorities remain as a voting bloc behind one single party (which is not going to be possible) influencing policies in a proportionally elected central legislature.. would be impossible”. And even with the proportional representation the minorities will find it difficult to break a 2/3rds. With the UNP now having explicitly come out with a statement in the support of retaining a unitary system for Sri Lanka this becomes even more evident.

    So i think we are unnecessarily feeling sorry for Dayan with his removal from the UN Permanent Representative post for supporting the 13th amendment. In fact he never did actually believe in a political solution vis a vis the implementation of the 13th amendment though he might have believed in its strategic usage. Did Dayan have any condition for supporting this regime at all? The answer seems to be no. He was very happy to just support it even if the only thing it achieves is the destruction of the LTTE. I concede then. I was wrong.

    What i did not directly comment in my post is how Chechnya is still ruled by Putin’s representative under a climate of gross fear and repression. See for example Dayan could not have prescribed this model without knowing present day Chechnya. Is he comfortable with what it is today and does he wish the same for the North and East of this country? If so it is very pathetic.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Man, I am already tired of this guy and this “debate'”, when the most cursory Google search would show that I have been advocating the implementation of the 13th amendment for the past months, years and decades, having risked my skin in its defense, from Tiger and JVP killers from 1987-88, having attended too many funerals of my friends, Tamil and Sinhala, who died in support of the cause of devolution.

    My articles “Defense and Devolution and Tamil Nadu”, and the “Indian Model and Devolution” appeared on Groundviews in August last year, 2008. “Mahinda Chinthana and Maximum Devolution” appeared in the Sunday Observer appeared in 2006. “De-merger Dilemmas, Devolution Dialectics” in The Lanka Academic in August 2006. “Devolve or Die” appeared in the Sunday Observer and The Lanka Academic in July 2006.

    So, Aacharya can play with himself and keep on lying in his teeth. He’s probably missing Prabhakaran. Me, I’m outta here.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Correction in Para two. That should read “Defense and Devolution” and “Tamil Nadu, the Indian Model and devolution”…

  • Vinoshka

    The question of the 13th Amendment should not arise, since it is part of the constitution of Sri Lanka. It is the baseline for implementing a political solution. The Government has not actually said that it will not implement the 13th Amendment.

    As for Dayan’s recall, it probably has less to do with any statements he made and everything to do with the fact that the figure he cut internationally put others in the shade.

    For all his faults, Dayan does mean what he says. Furthermore, he generally knows what he is talking about. Unfortunately there are very few people of his calibre left in political circles.

  • The Chechnya situation is vastly different. It is a republic in the Russian federation with its own president Ramzan Kadyrov who is protected by the Russian military as a loyal supporter of the Russian central administration and an opponent of the separatist rebels. President Kadyrov’s survival is dependent on the Russian military and his own ruthless oppression within Chechnya. And the Chechnya’s separatist movement is still alive and kicking.

    In Sri Lanka, Pillayan, Karuna or Devananda will never become the President of a Tamil federal republic. They’ll have to remain puppets or stooges of the central government if they want to ‘survive’ at all. The 13th Amendment will effectively be trap to cover the naked ‘military rule’ in the north and east. This means: the powerful re-emergence of separatism will only be a matter of time.

    But can the Tamils gain a separate state without war. I don’t think so. Remember: keeping Sri Lanka in one piece is an unwavering RELIGIOUS aspiration of the Sinhala majority. Thus, “two states” and “peace” are irreconcilable ingredients. If, through some miracle, two states are established both regimes will have no democracy for a very long time.

    Spreading of illusions about the 13 Amendment is utterly criminal, to say the least. Instead, a united front of all progressive Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim political parties must be formed – with a mutually agreed agenda to democratically transform the centre. Any regional decentralization should be part of that Big Change.

  • Dayan,

    “So, Aacharya can play with himself and keep on lying in his teeth. He’s probably missing Prabhakaran. Me, I’m outta here.”

    I dont know whether that was necessary. You can ask the editor of GV whether i am missing P or not. (sorry to put you on the spot Sanjana but i thought you said Dayan wanted to engage and debate on this topic. Not call names)

    Dayan, you probably didnt want to answer my question on how ‘enhanced proportional representation’ of the Tamils will be the key factor towards achieving a political solution or my question regarding whats happening in Chechnya right now and its relevance for SL. Your escape route was to brand me. Great politics. I am out of here too.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Sanjana/groundviews,

    One of your participants/contributors categorically writes of me that “He started talking about the 13th amendment more so only after the war ended and specifically was drawn out and called to defend it in his debate with Malinda S (otherwise i doubt he would have done it) His defence of the 13th amendment then has to be seen in the heat of the debate with Malinda”.

    When shown that this was nothing less than an easily disprovable lie, the guy shifts goalposts, and complains of being “branded” as an escape route.

    I would suggest that debate requires a basic standard of truth, and integrity and more so on a website such as yours.

    By the way, I didn’t graduate from the University of Colombo; I teach there. More evidence of lousy use of search engines.

  • ShriLankan

    HE Dr Dayan jayatillake,

    Could you please answer to the following questions

    (1) While you are serving as a Diplomat of Sri Lanka Government, have you communicated with RAW or any other foreign intelligence organisation, by telephone, emails or by any other means?

    (2) While you are serving as a Diplomat of Sri Lanka Government, have you communicated with your former master, former Chielf Minister of East, Wartharaj Perumal, telephone, emails or by any other means?

    (2) Were you flown by an Indian military plane and made a Minister of the Indian puppet provincial regime in the North-East which was later to declare unilateral independence, Eelam ?

    (4) Were you given pardon under the indo-Sri Lanka accord ?

    (5) Were you working as a journalist of Sunday Observer writing on anti-Sinhalese and anti-Buddhist articles under the pseudonym ‘Anuruddha Thilaksiri ” during the late R Premadasa administration?

    (6) Did angry mobs stripped you naked at the funeral of General Denzil Kobbekduwa because of those articles referred in in item (5) above.

    This email has been copied to media and Sri Lankan consulates.

    I challenge you to reply to the above questions (1) to (6).

    Yours Sincerely


  • Rose

    Vasantha Raja makes the most sense here. The political culture of the centre needs to change, to shift from the racialist thinking that is at the core of the state, which consequently has structured citizens’ mindset and expectations. The Tigers and the issue of Tamil representation are not SL’s only problem; the centre is also a problem. I have yet to hear any discourse from the state about a multicultural Sri Lankan identity.

  • Sanjana,

    I probably have been proved wrong that Dayan has been supportive of the 13th amendment only recently. That comment was basically irked because he said that his support for this regime was to accomplish the main challenge of defeating the LTTE and nothing more. I primarily took issue in my response to his statement that the implementation of the 13th amendment will not depend so much on the Presidents wishes and intentions but with the ‘enhanced proportional representations of the Tamils’. So for this i deserved a response of being called a P mourner?

    However i also said this about Dayan vide his debate with Malinda: “the reason for his defence of the 13th amendment was more that such an approach would appease India rather than it being what the South should at the minimum give the Tamils”. Am I wrong on this? If it is Dayan i am sorry again i am mistaken. I am perhaps poorly read, as you suggest Ambassador.

    And yes i was also wrong then about your undergraduate degree. But am i wrong still about how Chechnya is a dangerous prescription for a CR model for Sri Lanka?

    And so yes let truth triumph. Truth seems such a straight forward idea anyway.

  • President Bean

    Everybody seems to be missing the woods for the trees…AS LONG AS THERE IS ONE FAMILY RUNNING THIS COUNTRY…there will be no devolution of power…neither Chechniyan or Eritrean or any other! This family is there with the blessings of the vocal majority…as long as they worship these ‘BIG Brothers’ the silent majority will have to put up with whatever is dished out to them…BUT REMEMBER…the worm will turn…like it did in the 1970s under the leadership of Prabahakaran! Some people never learn from the past…

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Shri Lankan,

    1. What are you smoking? or popping?

    2. Ditto.

    3. As was reported openly in the papers at the time, in late 1988 EPRLF leader Pathmanabha, spokesman Kethesh Loganathan and I were among those flown in by the IPKF, as we had agreed to support the provicial councils while Prabhakaran had opposed it and the Tigers were on a killing spree.

    4. In April 1988, those indicted and in custody in two parallel and identical cases, including Indika Gunawardena and present Daily News editor Jayatilaka de Silva, were amnestied under the amnesty provisions of the Indo-Lanka Accord. Those of us who had evaded capture such as myself and Dayapala Tiranagama, were amnestied in Nov or December that same year 1988, under the same clause.

    5. No. In the first place I didn’t know that HLD Mahindapala, the editor of the Sunday Observer and Ranasinghe Premadasa, a staunchly Buddhist President with a deep love of and mastery of the Sinhala language, would permit anti-Sinhala or anti-Buddhist articles. The original writer was Surath Ambalangoda of the Aththa, and the writer who took over from him, disclosed it on the front page of the Lakbima some years back.

    6. I was lynched by a mob which was determined to spread the lie that Gen Kobbekaduwe was murdered by President Premadasa, which is the precisely the kind of psychological warfare that divided our officer corps and people, and crippled the progress of our military in the war against the LTTE, enabling the enemy to survive until recently. The attackers made references to my television appearences in defense of President Premadasa during the impeachment motion. all public opinion polls show that the bulk of sri lankns today, of all communities, share the views on President Premadasa that I defended then and now.

    You need to see someone about both your hallucinations and your lousy use of the English language.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Sanjana,

    ” That comment was basically irked because he said that his support for this regime was to accomplish the main challenge of defeating the LTTE and nothing more.”

    Have you heard of a “comment” that “was irked”? Has anyone actually seen a basically irked comment? I haven’t.

    And what does supporting the regime using the sole criterion of defeating the Tigers got to do with a short lived or long standing support of and commitment to the 13th amendment? I find this illogic….irksome.

    Would someone please refer this guy to the 1998 February special issue of the Lanka Guardian on the 50th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence, the last under my editorship, which contains a lengthy essay by me, criticizing the Tigers, Tamil separatism, ethno-federalism and CBK’s centrifugal ‘packages’, while strongly arguing for the 13th amendment and a possible improvement regarding the concurrent list (13 plus) modest enough not to require a divisive referendum.

  • Sanjana,

    Nice. Dayan’s long standing support for the 13th amendment is what will be his towering achievement indeed. (I have already conceded that i was wrong to have thought that this history was short). And the Ambassador continues to ignore my other two questions.

    The inadequacy and sham that the 13th amendment is, as we understand it from the writings of his former colleagues Kethesh Loganathan and Varatharaja Perumal and now from the mouths of ‘local allies’ Pillayan and Hisbullah of course has to be ignored. After all who are all of them in front of the Ambassador’s unblemished scholarship in this area?. Mere constitutional tinkering with the 13th amendment should be satisfactory as a political solution to the Ambassador i suppose. Please pass on to the Ambassador my sincere gratitude for his English lessons. If my lowly English bothers him i offer my sincere apologies.

  • Hari Narendran

    Completely agree with Vasantha Raja. The debate about the 13th Amendment or any other form is devolution is almost pointless. The problem in Sri Lanka from the time of independence has been one of good governance. The centre has become a beast with a life of its own, corrupting all the institutions and arms of the state that are supposed to function in support of the constitution. Any political reform must first and foremost deal with the issue of freeing the judiciary, police, central bank and other such institutions from political interference, making them accountable solely to the constitution and the law of the land. Regardless of ethnicity, this is an agenda all Sri Lankans can agree on. The next step would be to explore what options are best to deliver government that is more accountable to the people at a local level – and perhaps the answer there is to devolve power at the provincial level, to better reflect the economic/political needs of the population mix within the different regions of the country,

  • Dayan Jayatilleka


    As the old anti-war song went “when will they ever learn”? I mean when will all these pundits ever learn the following:

    1. Ain’t no change at the centre so long as the main Opposition is led by someone who will be remembered asa Chamberlain-like appeaser for generations if not centuries to come. If that’s the alternative in a presidential system, the status quo remains.

    Even if that changes under another leadership, there is no guarantee that the Constituion will become a secular one: that requires a majority at a referendum. Are the Tamils supposed to forget provincial autonomy until then?

    2. The best must not be the enemy of the good, nor the good the enemy of the feasible. 70, 000 Indian troops could not deliver anything more than 13A, and some idiots think that Prabhakaran’s ghost can do better?

    Even the implementation of 13A is an uphill task as recent events show. Its either 13 ( or an enhancement which is a variant) or nothing. That’s the balance of forces, politically, militarily, socially and ideologically. Deal with it.

    3. The only internal leverage there is for such implementation is the future electoral strength of the Tamil parties, starting with August 8th and peaking with next year’s parliamentary election. That gives bargaining power. If they hit it right, they can improve on 13 (13 plus) but if they overshoot the mark ( the old 50:50 or federalist mindset) there will be a referendum and they’ll be bereft of even 13, just as they lost the merger in courts and nobody did a thing.

  • Manushi


    What’s next? Alien abductions?

    Please don’t assault us with any more conspiracy theories. Save them for the National Enquirer.

  • Ravi Shankar

    Thank you Dayan for saying “13 or nothing”. If you would say preciously “nothing” will come from any Sinhala leader. The Tamils have been telling this all these time and no one, especially the west, agreed to this.

    It is the liberal west, their followers and the so called leftists have been preaching us the Tamils’ struggle for independence was wrong. Alas, with the direct help of rough states and indirect support of the west, Sinhala state has crushed the Tamil struggle. I agree it is a major set back for the Tamils, but it is not the end.

    The creation of an independent state of Tamils has become inevitable more than any time before.

  • Hari Narendran


    I think history will be kinder to the Opposition leader than current sentiment seems to be. I would argue he set the stage for the MR to rout the Tigers.

    A few key things happened in my mind during the 5 year period of appeasement:
    1) Flush with money from the taxes they were levying on goods/people passing through the Wanni, exposure to the wider world through traveling, the LTTE leadership got complacent, soft and increasingly corrupt, driving further disenchantment among the populace
    2) Setting up all their structures of government, the LTTE took themselves away from their strength as a guerilla group into deluding themselves that they could operate effectively as a conventional force.
    3) Most importantly, the people in the Wanni for the first time in many many years got a taste for what life without constant warfare, shelling, bombardment was. It was not a perfect peace, but it was peace nonetheless. The moment the Tigers made the decision to provoke the gov’t into conflict, they lost a very significant segment of the popular support they had left.

    Ranil’s actions may have seemed like appeasement to the Sinhala south, but I think to the citizens of the North/East, it was a period of time that opened a window to what life in a war-free Sri Lanka could be like, pretty much dooming the Tigers subsequent delusional attempts to gain a separate state through the gun.

    I must also point out the election that brought MR to power, despite all the accusations of appeasement, was an extremely close one, with MR winning only because of the boycott by the Wanni Tamils enforced by the LTTE. Clearly the country was more split on that verdict that many pundits think.

    All that said, your comments on the right solution are fair. The political climate in the country is such that realistically the only option on the table at the moment is full implementation of the 13th amendment and the governments willingness to deliver even that is questionable.

    What the country needs more than any political solution is good governance, equal opportunity and a climate where merit not ethnicity or political affiliation is the guiding principle.

    How we get there is the problem. One doesn’t need to look very long across the spectrum of our political leadership to realize we are cursed with a coterie of cads and hoodlums, to whom change that threatens their power is not to be tolerated.

  • Grim Hope

    @Dayan Jayatilleka

    The conversation between you two through feels like a fight between two kids and they are complaining to dad, Sanjana! You are a good father! You are listening to both of them!!

    @Hari Narendran
    Like i said elsewhere, implementation of 17th amendment is more important than 13th amendment right now. This will ensure that we come to a better solution to all these problems. I also agree on your assessment of Ranil as well. Assessing all the activities which are going in the country, Ranil would have been way better than Mahinda Maharajano as a post-war leader.

  • Dayan Jayathilaka seems to think that 13A, if implemented, can gently be manipulated so that the Tamils can eventually have autonomous rule in the north and east. This can be done, he says, through “the future electoral strength of the Tamil parties.”

    Dayan believes that “starting with August 8th and peaking with next year’s parliamentary election” the situation will gradually improve. That, he thinks, will give Tamils “the bargaining power.”

    But, history tells a different story: There’ve been far stronger Tamil parliamentarians before in substantial numbers who were powerful enough to be even king-makers. And, many Sinhala leaders have been far more sympathetic to Tamil autonomy then than now.

    Today, Sri Lanka’s all-powerful executive president is of the opinion that there’re no minorities…we’re all Sri Lankans. MR wants to build a country where all citizens are equal in a unitary state. [So, whose ‘autonomy’ is Dayan talking about?] Also, today Sinhala majority’s self-confidence is at an all time high. Their mood won’t be conducive for any kind of autonomy. Pillayan, Karuna or Douglas will only be tolerable to the extent they abide by the Centre’s command. That’s the reality.

    So, it’s high time we all learn the real lessons: Without wasting time, all communities should unite to democratically transform the centre. A United Front of all progressive Sinhala/Tamil/Muslim political parties must be formed on a mutually agreed agenda to structurally transform the Centre. Regional democracy can only be part of that change. Sinhala majority will happily participate in such a project, because that won’t threaten their most venerated aspiration i.e. making sure the country is in one piece for the protection of authentic Buddhism – which they firmly believe Lord Buddha expected them to do. This, they see as their historic duty that cannot be compromised under any circumstances. And, they’re not in the mood to take any risk.

    13A will not only be a timewaster, it’ll be a recipe for disharmony and conflict – probably leading to more war & misery in the future, not autonomy. So, let’s be realistic and build an effective platform to do just that – which will be far more beneficial to Tamils in the South & tea-estates, and also to Muslims and other minorities.

    But, as the old anti-war song says: “When will they ever learn?”

  • the optimist

    @ Dayan

    “The best must not be the enemy of the good, nor the good the enemy of the feasible” but the question remains sir is the feasible what is actually needed? The flaws of the 13th amendment go beyond the division of power in the lists. The underlying problem is the unwillingness of central government to share power with the peripheries. This manifests itself in the allocation powers between the governor and the board of ministers, the financial powers and through. For there to be any sort of devolution (not necessarily to extent of federalism) mere “tinkering with the constitution”. We saw what happened when we opted for “piece meal constitutional amendments” and enacted the 17th Amendment. The result the constitutional councils have been defunct for the past 4 years.
    I guess what I’m trying to say Mr. Ambassador is that if one believes there is a problem one should advocate for the best possible solution. Asking the Tamils and Muslims to compromise just because the Sinhalese are numerically superior is not a solution to the problem on the contrary that is the problem itself.
    Any sort of constitutional arrangement will need the support of the Sinhala masses. And the only person at present who is in a position to garner such support is the president himself. The president has the power to alleviate the misconceptions on devolution amongst the masses. And it is only listening to the Tamil people and involving them in the process of constitutional reform can you make them feel included in the future sri lankan state.
    Telling them go for the 13th amendment or nothing, or go for the 13th amendment coz india wants it. Is not going to cut it.

    @ all those who want good governance

    I completely agree with you that we need more accountability in our governance structure but I would like to urge you to look at devolution of power as means by which this could be achieved. Of course devolution by itself will not be sufficient but if “power corrupts” then wouldn’t limiting the amount of power in the hands of politicians (by dividing it amongst the center and the provinces) be way in which such corruption/abuse could be minimize.
    Further by brining government closer to the people you increase the power the people have over their elected representatives thus limiting the ability of such representatives to abuse the power vested in them.
    But I do admit that there is need for initiatives like the 17th amendment and improving the independence of the judiciary amongst other things are pressing needs I just don’t see how this is mutually exclusive from devolving power.

  • Siva Lingam

    Prompted by Vasantha Rajah’s comment on king-makers:

    Tamils ARE king-makers! In the the most recent election to the throne, Tamil vote (or the absence of it, because several Tamils who went to cast theirs were beaten until their bones broke and/or shot by our –Tamil — heroes who took a bribe from one of the candidates) had a significant role.

    So when we — all Sri Lankans — mature enough to a point where thuggery and bribery go away from the system, Tamils WILL have a significant say via the ballot. In peace, this is bound to happen (may be slowly — but then, Rome wasn’t built in one day). All we have to do in the meantime is to be responsible and not glorify the thugs and the corrupt. Quite simple!

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Friends, I have to srat packing so am going to keep this short.

    I don’t know about how history will judge Ranil, but I have a shrewd idea about how the electorate will…. the same way it has done so far, but perhaps a little more so. All arguments about the CFA’s benefits cannot get past the fact that the Tigers were reeling from the LRRP hits when it was signed, and that the global war on terror had commenced. Many a decorated military officer or soldier will come on TV during an election campaign and tell the public of what it was like for them during the CFA. As for History, it certainly won’t be the History of the Sinhalese, because even my father’s ex-class mates living in Washington DC (hardly blue collar Sinhala Buddhist fanatics) refer to Ranil as “Ehelepola”.

    As for another commentator, his article on groundviews just a few months back reveals just how good an analyst he is and how safe it is for Tamils to take his advice. Did he think that some huge international Tamil tsunami was going to prevent an SLA military victory? All those ( esp civil society/conflict resolution types) who thought that the Tigers could not be military defeated, so crushingly and so soon, by the Sri Lankan state, would do better to spend time figuring out how dumb they were and are, before making fresh prognosis and recommendations.

    my bottom line is fourfold:

    1. Tamil politicians have held out for “the best possible solution” from 50.50, through federalism and CBK’s packages (which were deemed insufficient!), all the way upto the ISGA and PTOMS, and the only result is a de-meged North and east and a quarter million civilians behind the wire. You want to keep on this path and keep on with this habit? Does this seem smart to you?

    2. 13A , use it or lose it.

    3. You think the Chechen model is bad, watch out for the only other alternative on display, the Occupied palestinian territories ( west Bank)

    4. Luckily for the Tamils and Sri Lanka, this will be decided by the Tamil voters on the ground, (not Diaspora ideologues), and by courageous , tough pragmatists like Douglas Devananda whom the Tamil voters wll probably opt for.

  • Hari Narendran

    Courageous, tough pragmatists like Douglas Devananda? Wow. I sincerely hope that is not who the Tamils opt for. He is the epitome of everything that is wrong with Sri Lankan politics – a democrat in name only. The sorry record of the EPDP in intimidating the press in Jaffna, suppressing dissenting voices, engaging in violence against political opponents is well-established. Let us hope the elections to be held in the North soon are held in a free, fair manner (ideally independently observed), with none of the parties permitted to carry weapons & intimidate the populace. The government forces are more than capable of providing the likes of the EPDP/TVMP security.

    If one were able to poll the Tamil masses of the North/East, I would wager they would not be interested in the arguments over what devolution/13th amendment/etc.

    Their concerns are more existential – how do I rebuild my life in an environment free of political thuggery, intimidation, corruption, in a society built on merit. These are issues that concern citizens from Hambantota to Jaffna. It is irrelevant whether this happens in a ‘united’ Sri Lanka as the JVP defines it or in one with provincial governments.

    One would hope as citizens we vote for candidates that represent these values.

  • Pearl Thevanayagam

    The exchange of comments taught me at least one thing. Sanjana of CPA who is now doing post-grad studies in Australia is the owner of this website.

    But I also see a bigger picture. We are seeing future politicians in the govt. (hopefully) exchange ideas.

    Time is ripe for some educated and broad-minded young middle-aged people to govern Sri Lanka since for the last five years we had half-baked and egocentric politicians who clearly have no idea what it is to be leaders.

    Nor do they have the diplomacy nor education needed to run a country.

    I know standard of education started to go downhill with the introduction of Swabasha in schools in 1972. If with all the facilities available then they did not educate themselves to talk on any given subject without being ridiculed clearly Sri Lanka has failed in producing statesmen.

    The brain drain which began with Tamils and Burghers migrating due to the govt.’s increasing Sinhala chauvisim was Sri Lanka’s loss.

    And we have not recovered yet.

    However, we have our commentators in this forum who need to be taken seriously.

    Dayan, I hope you enter politics once more and hopefully we would have some sanity back . I wish you well.

  • Grim Hope

    Seems like Dayan has an inherent hatred for UNP and Ranil. That’s why he even pulled a story from his personnel life to illustrate this point. I don’t see how much some guy in Washington DC says about Ranil is so important in the making of history. Yes, Ranil is not the best leader or the best PR person but he has some positives as well. If not for Prabhakaran, he would have been the president of the country and not Mahinda! Since Sinhalese people think that those votes from the North don’t count, they feel like Mahinda won outright.

    Ranil and CFA was instrumental in breaking up Praba and Karuna. I don’t see anything better in Karuna compared to Praba. Both were ruthless in mass murdering innocent people during their peak times and same way I see MR government during their last war was no different. I doubt if Mahinda R. was elected president in the pre-CFA era, he would have had this success in the military front.

    Anyway, at least, he is better than the Maharajano and Rajapakse clan just because I have access to him on groundview!

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Thanks, Pearl, but no thanks.
    Hari, well on the morning after Aug 8th we shall see whether the Tamil voter shares your views ( after all, there has been no lethal violance at this election so far).
    Grim Hope, I rather doubt Karuna sharing that assessment, let alone the Sri Lankan armed forces that fought and beat the Tigers. Never mind my personal anecdotes, just go by all public opinion polls , even by the CPA.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Grim Hope,

    If I have hatred for the UNP I could not have risked death at the handds of a mob, because of my open, televised defense of a UNP President whom public opinion polls have recently identified as most sri Lankans choice as the country’s best post Independence leader outside of DS Senanayake and barring the current incumbent.

    I have no hatred nor love for any political party as such. It is their project, policies, and performance that count.

    Indeed I have no hatred for Ranil Wickremesinghe and actively supported him after President Premadasa’s murder and during his election campaign in 1994, on the basis that he supported President Premadasa during the impeachment conspiracy. This support lasted roughly till sometime in 1997, when, with the Liam Fox agreement, he showed signs of softening towards the LTTE.

    You would notice that quite a few who supported Premadasa, have supported President Rajapakse.

    My criticism of the UNP leadership, while it does extend to a coterie, does not extend to the UNP as a whole, and has never done.

  • myil selvan

    Dr. Jayathileke,
    Come on you should know how the war was won, if it can be called that? There were two pre-requisites for this victory.
    1.The will to Kill and 2. the will to get killed.
    1. The will to Kill – this is easy since the people going to be killed were Tamils. For a racist government this is not so difficult to comprehend.
    2. The will to get killed – this is a bit more difficult because what I mean by this is taking on casualties and this is going to be mainly Sinhalese. But for our greedy selfish government leaders this may not be difficult because those going to get killed would be the poor rural sinhala youth.
    So there you have it. Other factors for victory: 1. West tracking down LTTE fundraisers and arms purchasing. 2. The climate after 2001. 3. Karuna defection to GoSL. 4. India’s help- intelligence to intercept Tiger arms shipments. 5. The usual man power and fire power strength of GoSL forces, which was always the case.
    Happy packing Dr. Jayatileke. Maybe you will be more useful towards the progress of SL in your next assignment.
    thank you.

  • Grim Hope

    @Dayan Jayatilleka

    Of course, Karuna will disagree but the facts tell a different story. Just because JVP in the Parliament doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t ruthlessly kill innocent civilians in 1980s. That facts remains the same, only difference is that they cannot use that strategy anymore. Praba, Karuna and some old JVP leaders are capable of mass murder including the SL Army which we witnessed during the recent concluded war and there are numerous documented abuses by all these groups and people. Even Ranil is accused of extrajudicial killings during JVP insurgency. No matter how much, your Government (ex-gov?) claim to have not done this, someday truth will come out. Karma has a strange way of working it’s way. I know you wouldn’t believe it, but as person who follows Dhamma closely, i strongly believe that. If this forum still exists and you are still on it, we can talk about it in another 10 years! 🙂

    On Premadasa, Ranil was just softening on LTTE vs Premadasa actually helped LTTE during the IPKF time… What do you say about that? Even the government is accused of working with LTTE during 2005 elections to turn voters away from Ranil. The person who accused Mahinda mysteriously died of a car accident.

    Morale of the story, politicians will do anything for power and money! Everyone else will do somethings for power and money! 🙂

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Myil Selvan,

    You make it sound so easy…and you sound so stupid and pathetic. You should read an essay in the International Alert Volume 2 on the Sri Lankan Conflict by D Sivaram, the finest strategic analyst produced by the Tamil intelligentsia or may I say the Tamil community, who was buried under the Tiger flag after his assassination in Colombo. Sivaram ( Taraki) wrote that the Tigers were superior to the taliban as a fighting formation. If so, and given that the world’s most advanced armies the USA and the UK , have not succeeded in beating the Taliban, one can understand the enormity of Sri Lanka’s military achievement. As ex-Indian top brass have said, not since the crushing of the Malayan insurgency has there been so complete a military victory over an unconventional force in Asia. So, Myil Selvan, get over the sour grapes, willya?

  • Grim Hope

    @Dayan Jayatilleka

    I see that you are loosing your coolness a little with saying “You make it sound so easy…and you sound so stupid and pathetic”. I even saw that reaction in your complaining about Aachcharya. Out of all these people who write here, you should know better! You are a Diplomat. You must be a little unhappy with your situation to react to things this way.

    Anyway, we all go through this type of times…best thing is not to react to thing regardless agree or not. I like the way you used to reply to everyone. Just like you are passionate about what you believe, other people might be too! right or wrong!

    I hope that everyone realize that deep inside everyone is a human. Army, Politicians, Diplomats, LTTE, JVP, Tilibans… some are misled (with “Moha” and “Ditti”). No one lives forever…so during this little time we are here, how much good have you done to yourself, and other around you when your turn comes. Killing and harming is not one of them for sure. But a person has to commit to himself that for what ever the reason, he wouldn’t cause harm to another nor will he get anyone else to cause harm to another. And believing that “Good” will always be a winner over “Bad”! This will win peace, happiness, harmony among, indivuals, family, ethnicity, religious, and countries! But the change always starts with you!!

  • ShriLankan

    The following is what exactly what is wrong with DJ.

    He is too confidant that Political vision solves problems OR he is working for some other’s interests.

    World is run by many variables. Politics is at the top and not the root cause.

    There is a flaw in the logic of those who support the 13th amendment. DJ and Prof Witharana have flawed thinking, as they assume that the world consist of ideal humans. It is important to be ale to train the brain to think critically, analyse situations looking at evidence, rather than hang on to beliefs and dogmas. -Lankaweb

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Grim Hope,
    I am not cool about fascism or whitewashing it; and I am distinctly uncool about belittling the achievement of prevailing over fascism. the great Gramsci wrote of the need for the intellectuals to feel and share the passions of the ‘national-popular’. I consider the LTTE an example of “political evil” of the sort that the political philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote about. On the issue of the Tigers and the war against them, I share the emotions of the majority of my fellow citizens and that is one thing that makes me different you civil society coffee shop types who are still probably wondering where those balmy days of Ranil, the CFA, the ISGA and PTOMS went…when the rest of the country, including dissident Tamils, felt humiliated.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Oh, i forgot, its not about the “trying times”. When my book entitled Sri Lanka- the Travails of a Democracy: Unfinished war, Protracted Crisis, was published by Vikas New Delhi in 1995 ( by the way, Aacharya, it contained a prescription of 13A with the concurrent list redistributed), the Balasinghams wrote a review ( using the penname Brahmagnanani) in ‘Jaffna -Inside Report’ published by the Tigers. This was just before they were pushed out of Jaffna by Riviresa. In it, they said, of all the anti-Tiger personalities in the South “Dayan Jayatilleka stands out as unique character because of his pathological hatred of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam”. So, “trying times” apart, I was always less than cool about the LTTE. And packing to leave Geneva is hardly “trying” for someone who spent years underground and on the run, using assumed names , ducking Lalith Athulathmudali’s NIB and the murder squads of the JVP, indicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and the Emergency, by the time he turned 30!

  • Hari Narendran


    Good to see the level of discourse degenerate to petty name calling. Us coffee shop types just wonder whether the death of 9000 soldiers, and equal number if not more of Tiger cadres, plus who knows how many civilians (information deliberately suppressed cause the country likely would not have been as supportive of the war effort had it known the true cost of the final offensive) was the right tactic to take at the time to assuage the ‘humiliation’ some in the country felt.
    The LTTE was rotting from within, as you yourself said the LRRP were taking a heavy toll on them, and they were fast losing the support of the Tamils that were sympathetic to them.
    I continue to feel that economic development and money thrown at the north and east instead of into a destructive war effort would have brought down the LTTE with much less bloodshed, sparing tens of thousands of lives in the process.
    Funny how the majority of the most ardent warriors wouldn’t pick up a gun themselves at the front lines.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Hari Narendran,

    When I was indicted on 14 counts under the PTA, starting with “conspiracy to overthrow the state through violence”, dodging Tiger bullets in the North and East in 1988 with my comrade Pathmanabha of the EPRLF and in the South with my comrades of the SLMP, 117 of whom were killed by the JVP, it certainly wasn’t a laptop or coffee mug I had “picked up”!

    Your spineless collaborationist views are typical of the appeasers of Nazism in Western Europe in the interwar 1930s, which Auden called a “low dishonest decade”. They certainly aren’t shared by the Sri Lankan armed forces which contributed the 9,000 martyrs, or the majority of the Sri Lankan electorate as you will see at upcoming elections… and we shall see on the morning after August 8th, whether they aren’t shared by the majority of Jaffna and Vavuniya Tamils, which I gravely doubt. They are however, the views of the Ranil wing of the UNP which has turned its back on the party’s peasnt base and is perceived as an INGO or “peace NGO ” writ large, and is therefore structurally unelectable.

    I might add that if President Obama held your views, he would not have sent 17,000 extra troops into Afghanistan, and canvassed Europe for more, but would have stuck to economic development plus some special forces operations.

  • President Bean

    Dayan Jayatilleka…these 3 years under the rule of the Rajapaksa ‘BIG Brothers’ has been “low dishonest 3 years!” It most probably will also be a “low dishonest decade” or 2 if the ‘BIG Brothers’ continue in power!….also if the 9,000 soldiers who died are martyrs…what do you call the 20,000 who were killed in the ‘No Fire Zone?’

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Let’s get a few things out of the way. A contributor here wondered how I could support preamadas who gave guns to the Tigers and oppsoe ramil for his policies of appeasement. that’s easy, premadasa tilted to the Tigers when state and society were threatened not so much by them but by the JVP uprising which was about to overrun the South. The field force headquarters in Colombo was attacked and IEDs were exploding in narahepita ?Thimbirigasyaya. The JVP insurrection was thriving on the continued IPKF presence. Premadasa’s tactic was similar to the West giving guns to the Islamic militia against the Russian Red army in Afghanistan. Ranil allowing them to strengthen themselves through the CFA and decimate their Tamil rivals would be akin to a US government giving weapons to the same Islamic militia after the attacks of 9/11! there was no need for Ranil to do so as the state was not threatened by two armed insurgencies at the time; only one, in the North…and we were hitting them hard with the LRRP raids. Now that the war is over the SLA has enough intelligence data to prove that the real strengthening of the Tigers took place during and due to the CFA, while the real weakening of SLA morale took place at the same time. There should be 9/11 Commission type inquiry into all this.

    As for the Hari Naredran strategic recommendation, Muttukrishna saravanamuttu did a superb critique diring the CFA which proved that economic development was not taking place in the North and east precisely because of Tiger control and their taxation policies, while Sunil Bastian’s critique at the time revealed that economic inequity was growing in the South due to ranil’s neoloiberal policies during the CFA, which were undermining Sinhala support for the so-called peace process. So much for the possibilities of economic development without smashing Tiger control over territory and reunifying the national market and production structure. That cannot be done through special forces raids, when the enemy is a parallel armed force or militia. Of course, those of Hari Narendran and Grim Hope’s Clombo corporate/civil society/ minoritarian ideological persuasion would have been happy had our country continued to scratch at the Tigers for the next thirty years!

  • Hari Narendran

    If the war was so just and the majority of the populace firmly behind it then why while the war was underway did the government not release real casualty figures, which they did after completing operations? Why the continued efforts to ensure that a true accounting of the civilian casualties in the last 6 months of the war never happens? Is it perhaps because had the country known the death toll being inflicted upon our citizens they would not have been as supportive of the war? In the recent interview given to Time the President while in one sentence saying that only the Tigers caused civilian casualties in the final assault, in the next categorically rejects any need to investigate what really happened cause it “might cause problems between the north and the south”.
    That is what i most have issues with. Let there be an honest accounting of the toll the war has taken and then let the voters judge.
    Regardless, what is done is done, whether you and I agree with the tactics or not. The question and discussion really should be over how do we move fwd to build a nation that doesn’t discriminate against any of citizens, a nation where freedom of expression and political thought, justice and democracy aren’t just words but a reality of life.

  • Agnos

    myil selvan is right and Jayatilleka is wrong. All these social “scientists”, political “scientists”, historians, journalists, et al. misinterpret a confluence of random events, and give undue weight to someone’s prowess. That was true of the LTTE’s early “successes” as well as the GoSL’s current success. I suggest two books: “Fooled by Randomness” and “Black Swan” both by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

    Jayatilleka suggests D. Sivaram as the “finest strategic analyst produced by the Tamil intelligentsia.” That is a lot of bull. I met him briefly in the US in 2001. He had come to give a speech at the CSIS at the invitation of Teresita Schaffer and I told him that if the LTTE did not change its ways, a more ruthless, more callous regime could go all out to eliminate it; that the LTTE’s claim to be a conventional force was rather hollow without the means to defend against air power, etc. And everything I told him has become true, while most things he used to say about the LTTE have turned out to be gravely mistaken. And yet, some people extol him as the “finest strategic analyst” simply because he was a good journalist; he wrote well and had good sources in the GoSL, various rebel groups as well as the SL military.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Well Agnos, since we do not know your name and you do not express yourself except verbally at CSIS seminars, we have only your word for it. Until then, and judging by verifiable published material, Sivaram (Taraki) will remain the best strategic analyst produced by the Tamil community. That does not mean that he was right. Talking of CSIS, its website would dispaly the summary of a panel disussion in late 2005– before the election of Mahinda Rajapakse– chaired by Teresita, and addressed (as panellists and audience members) by Gajan Ponnamblam, Ambassador Bernard Goonetilleke, Neil de Votta, John Richardson, the Norwegian ambassador to the UN and myself at which I pointed out that the Tigers were a model of tactical and organizational success but strategic failure, in that 30 years of armed struggle had failed to achieve what Mao, the Vietnamese, the Cubans, Eritreans, Ethiopians and Hezbollah had achieved in much less, and that they had lost Jaffna and failed to re-take it. This is apart from a 2004 Oct article in the Sunday Island entitled “Why Prabhakaran Will Lose”. Unlike your claims, mine, like Sivaram’s are on the record. And as for your “random/Black Swan” theory ( comforting, ain’t it?), try to find a single analysis by any expert from Washington to Delhi and beyond, who agrees.

  • Myil Selvan

    Dear Dr. Jayatilleka (Dr.J),
    Thank you for your response, even though a tiny bit was somewhat unbecoming of a person of your education.

    Agnos – Thank you for accepting my basic point. It is unfortunate after all the killings in history mankind has not learnt much. Because in war a part of mankind wants to kill, and will rejoicingly when ethnic or racial differences matter.

    Dr.J, we can make many comparisons and cite different sources to butress our point, there is enough in this world for all sides to cite, compare and contrast. I agree Sivaram was good, but just because he thought highly of the LTTE’s capabilities does not mean he was all correct. Let’s not forget Sivaram’s bias towards the LTTE, in fact he tried to join them and was rejected a long time back.

    Let’s look at the Raw Facts:
    The LTTE was fighting a war with huge deficiencies in manpower and firepower. In fact this was always the case. LTTE exaggerated their power so as to keep the funds and support, while the GoSL exaggerated LTTE’s capabilities to vilify and demonise them so as to gain international support and further solidify sinhalese support. These are not surprising tactics in war.

    In this world order of Nation-States Sri Lanka being a nation-state will always have the upper hand. The LTTE being a non state actor had to always swim against this current even though India initially supported it, although not exclusively, which negated somewhat that support.

    LTTE was conscripting not only children but also adults. How far can this strategy go with the population of Tamils dwindling?? Now around 12% but in early eighties it was 18%.

    LTTE’s arms procurement was mainly of mortar shells, rocket propelled grenades (RPG), T-56 assault rifles, claymores and similar type weapons. They did not get tanks or Fighter jets or nuclear weapons or chemical weapons,etc. None of the more dangerous weapons were brought in but there was a lot of propaganda about it. They had tanks captured from SLA and ones they improvised. They had some big guns like 120mm guns but some of these were also captured from the SLA. With such armaments you can go only so far.

    As for your comparison of the LTTE with the Taliban you leave out some important facts. Taliban was a State actor controlling 90% of afghanistan something similar to the GoSL. They lost most of that and are holed up in the Mountainous caves of Afghanistan/Pakistan border. The terrain in afgha/pak is nothing like the terrain of Mullaithivu. And the Taliban has support in Muslim dominated countries as they say they are doing their God’s work. Besides the U.S. haven’t used all out force and gone about killing 20,000 to 30,000 people in the process. It is sad to note that if the U.S. were bombing mullaithivu they would have taken more precaution to avoid civilian casualties. Racism can be a powerful force in war.
    Dr. J, you say “I am not cool about fascism or whitewashing it; and I am distinctly uncool about belittling the achievement of prevailing over fascism.” I agree with you, but when one fascism overcomes another I’m not cool with it. When terrorism prevails over terrorism, I’m distinctly uncool.

    Dr. J, you say, you supported this government because it can defeat the LTTE /fascism, but what’s the point when fascism replaces fascism??
    This government you support is holding close to 300,000 people in internment camps without their basic right to freedom of movement.
    There have been a lot of disappearances from the camps, reports of rape and unusually high death rate and shameful conditions. But the GoSL says things are good in the camps but yet they don’t let independent media or other sources in. Cameras and cell phones are not allowed to be taken in, why? What’s to hide if things are good?? Why are the TNA not allowed to visit their constituents in the camps?? Now we hear no media for Jaffna and Vavuniya elections, why?? Because you want Douglas to win??

    Dr. J, you claim that I’m pathetic, but what’s pathetic is the fact that while the war was raging the Army commander, Fonseka, applied for the green card lottery to the U.S., that’s pathetic in my book! What do you call that? Pathetic or Patriotic?? The government you supported gloats about its new foreign policy focus is Asian countries such as India, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Japan, etc., but where do the country’s politicians send their children? The President’s three sons studied in the UK, Gotabhaya is a U.S. citizen, Basil a U.S. green card holder, Palitha Kohona an Australian citizen and the list goes on…. Yet the GoSL attacks the west, what hypocrisy??
    Dr.J, will you stand up and speak up on behalf of the IDPs just as much as you did for GoSL in geneva?? You claim victory in the UN HRC but what’s the point in a foregone conclusion? Did you think that HRC countries were all abiding by HR rules?? If you did? That’s pathetic!