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

A response to Dayan Jayatilleka’s “Mindless emotionalism and absence of thinking in Tamil politics”

I have been following Mr. Jayatilleka’s articles both on Groundviews and Tamil Week. While I do agree with some of his ideas such as a multi-ethnic Sri Lanka where citizenship is not defined by ethnicity, I disagree with his argument that mostly puts the onus on the Tamil minority to tread the line based on his definition of what constitutes a reasonable approach in their struggle to gain equal citizenship in Sri Lanka.

In his latest article essentially he claims that the 13th amendment is the best the Tamils can expect and they should not push for more because it was offered at a time (1987) when things were more favorable towards the Tamil cause. He also rightly points out that it was more external pressure (India) than internal political maturity on the part of the Sinhalese political class that lead to the 13th amendment. It must be noted that the 13thamendment was not considered as the end all/be all by even the Tamil groups that accepted the Indo-Sri Lankan accord and laid down their weapons and took part in the political process.

From my perspective, the concerns raised by the Tamil political parties including the TULF were legitimate and practical. The concerns were broadly based on the fact that this amendment did not address devolution of power between the central government and the provincial council. All power still was vested with the President and his unelected representative (Governor) had more power than the elected Chief Minister. The Governor who essentially is the agent of the President has more control over public service and distribution of funds than the Chief Minister. Furthermore the Chief Minister is forced to be subservient to the central government due to both the ability of the central authority and it’s agent (Governor) to withhold funds and dismiss the local elected body. In the end the 13th amendment neither addressed the legitimate grievance of the Tamils or clearly defined the devolution of power between the central authority (represented by Sinhalese dominated parties) and provincial authorities represented by local Tamil parties. This is clearly playing out in the Eastern Province right now. The Chief Minister Pillayan has complained repeatedly that he has no real power to perform basic government tasks. Furthermore, he has to content with a central government minister Karuna who continuously is playing the spoiler role. The central government of Mahinda Rajapaksa is playing these two against each other and ignoring both the sprit and letter of the 13th amendment.

Mr. Jayatilleka also tends to over look the fact that for most part Tamil nationalism was a reaction to the actions of the Sri Lankan State. Tamils by nature were conservative and this was reflected in their politics from post independence through 1983. During this period despite repeated provocations, the LTTE and other militant movements did not attract numbers over hundreds for their cause. It was the repeated failure of the Sri Lankan State to address legitimate grievances raised by the Tamil minority and uphold the accords signed by the Tamil Federal party with both SLFP (SWRD Bandaranaka) and the UNP (Dudley Senenayaka) that delegitimized the constitutional approach among the Tamils. Add to this the repeated anti Tamil pogroms from 1956 onwards where the state institutions did not intervene to safeguard the human and property rights of it’s minority citizens lead to the Tamils towards the path of separatist politics.

Furthermore, the Sri Lankan State has not acted on the current laws on the book whether it be fair use of the Tamil language for official purposes, protection of fundamental rights of the Tamils (from abductions, extortions, illegal detentions, executions and rape) and the rule of law (hold state and non state actors accountable when they carry out illegal actions).

I would also point out to Mr. Jayatilleka that there was a fundamental difference between the situation faced by the Indian Tamils in the central part of the country (they were a minority) and the Tamils in the North and East (they were a majority). Mr. Thondaman was astute enough to understand the pressure faced by the central government in the North and the East to negotiate basic citizenship rights for his constituents. However, his constituents still live as third class citizens within Sri Lanka and their integration will depend upon over all political reform that emphasizes the multi-ethnic nature of the Sri Lankan State and addresses the economic disparity faced by the estate workers.

If Sri Lanka is to be a viable democratic state then political reforms need to be enacted to address the root causes of the conflict. This could be done based on a two track process. The first track is to enact constitutional reforms that address issues regarding equal citizenship for all communities from the perspective of Religion, Language, Fundamental Human Rights, and Property Rights extra. The ultimate goal here is to establish both in letter and sprit that the Sri Lankan State is neutral from the perspective of ethnicity, religion and language. There should be an emphasis on individual rights while providing equal status for all major communities/ethnicities. It is also important that there be a truth and reconciliation committee such as South Africa’s where there can be an open unbiased evaluation of the actions of the state and non state actors during the conflict. Unless there is an honest examination of the past violations of human rights and political failures there will not be impetus on the part of both the political class and the public to enact real reforms.

The second track needs to address devolution of power for the North and the eastern provinces. The rationale for devolution of power as put forth by the Tamil parties was based on the fact that the Sri Lankan State monopolized resources and power for the Sinhalese while discriminating against minorities. If track number one addresses some of these issues then track two can focus more on regional autonomy that emphasizes economic development over ethic/cultural issues. However, even within this framework there needs to be more devolution than the 13th amendment offers so as to address concerns in regard to the provincial government having more independence to make decisions on economic development, law and order, taxation, education, social services, Infrastructure development and International trade.

While I do believe the Tamil political class will need to re-examine their approach based on global, regional and local realities by no way should they accept a subservient role for the Tamil community as the basis of a permanent solution. This would spell long term doom for both the Tamils and Sinhalese because it does not address the reasons for the ethnic conflict and the failure of the Sri Lankan State to create a common Sri Lankan identity. The thirteenth amendment can be a starting point but it cannot be the framework for a permanent solution.

Finally Mr. Jayatilleka draws some broad comparisons between the Palestinian and the Northern Irish conflict with what he describes as an unrealistic approach by the Tamil political parties. Firstly the Palestinian’s did receive an interim state/entity that was the Palestinian National Authority (Based on the Oslo accord) which was envisioned as one of the steps towards a final settlement that included a separate state for the Palestinians. Hence Mr. Arafat was able to negotiate with Israel understanding that the interim agreement was a stepping stone for a separate state. This is not the case in Sri Lanka. As for the Northern Irish conflict, the British were willing to negotiate with the political arm (Sinn Fein) of the IRA and did not insist on immediate disarmament. Again due to regional developments (European Union) and political developments in UK and the Irish Republic, there was a very different political/economic climate than what existed/exits in Sri Lanka or in the South Asian region.

Both Tamils and Sinhalese nationalist will have to make compromises on their maximalist views concerning the political process. The onus must be on the leaders of both communities to reach a compromise that lays the groundwork for a viable united Sri Lanka where the next fifty years will be defined by economic/social aspirations vs. the ethnic conflict that has been the dominant theme for the last 50 years.

  • Dayan Jayatilaka was at the UN and supported the genocide of Tamils.

    He and the UN chief Ban-Ki Moon are probably also in this whole game of the genocide of Tamils in Tamil Eelam.

    This. I think, is the reason for inaction by the UN body upto now.

    We must understand that Ban Ki Moon is from Asia and calls himself a “Buddhist” following the utter abstractness of unattainable “Nirvana” preached in Buddhism. Genuinity and truth is not in that culture.

    He, probably sided Sri Lanka, kept quiet against genocide and even advised the government of Sri Lanka to go ahead with a view to establish a totalitarian “Bhuudist state” for the entire island of former Ceylon.

    It is foolish to expect any member of a gang of criminals to bring justice on the whole gang. It is a waste of time and human effort. And Sri Lanka is cunningly deceptive in its ways.

    I suggest something legal the world body could do against Ban Ki Moon for failing to carry out his responsibility and to protect humanity?

  • Nibras Bawa

    Interesting points to say the least.

    As for Governor Vs Chief Minister, and who should be calling the shots, i’d like to think it is due to Pillayan’s intellectual capacity to hold that high office. No disrespect meant to him or anyone, but the reality is Pillayan isn’t the man for a CM post, and we all know that. So naturally the governor (a more sane, educated person) has the upper hand, and its bound to happen when you have a guy like Pillayan.

    I’ve always believed one’s status is no influence, rather one’s influence leads to one’s status. In some companies the most influential person is the CEO’s secetary, at times even more powerful than the CEO himself. Similar logic applies here.

    I guess what i wanted to say was, it just boils down to Pillayan’s capacity, or the lack of it.

  • Ravi

    In a proper setup Pillayan would have advisors and permanent secretary ….etc.

  • Kannan

    Hi Mr. Bawa,

    Thank you for your response. You may be right in regards to Mr. Pillayan’s lack of skills/education for the post. This is not new to Sri Lankan politics. However, the key point I was trying to make is the disparity of power between the post of a elected CM and a unelected Governor. In the case of Pillayan, I am not sure if the process by which he was elected reflected the will of the people. It was process that was gerrymandered by the MR government to prove a point. The process of election and then the disparity of power proves the flaws of the 13th amendment.

  • Nibras Bawa

    Hi Kannan,

    I Agree on disparity of power between the post of an elected CM and an unelected Governor. Traditionally “governor” is an honorary role meant for retired cronies and henchmen of the ruling types. Its how they reward their old buddies. Take Alavi Moulana for instance. His only qualification is that he’s been attending (and sometimes leading) all SLFP rallies from Sirimavo’s period, but whether that entitles him / qualifies him to be the governor is a big question mark. But then loyalty pays in Srilankan politics.

    Like i said earlier its not your official title, it has very little or no relevance and reverence. Official titles don’t mean a thing in SL, rather its your unofficial clout. In this case the governor has it, Pillayan doesn’t.

    Thanks for this balanced article. I am enlightened 🙂

  • Native Vedda

    Former Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka should spend reasonable time on reading other reports on Sri Lanka’s arrangement to devolve powers to the provincial councils.

    One such report was published by CPA last year. He will learn some thing about the Provincial Council system in action or lack of it if he cares to read the 128 pages report.

    Details of the reports are as follows:

    Strengthening the Provincial Council System
    Report of Workshop Deliberations
    Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA)
    May 2008

    He only thrives on writting and not reading other works. Therefore I don’t expect him to learn what the 13th amendmends is all about.

    May be the former ambassador has other ambitions, a potential presidential candidate for election, one after this. As an ambitious member of Sri Lankan establishment he is expected to say no more than 13th Amendmend.

    Good luck Ambassador.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    The Good Friday agreement had as a centre piece, the decommissioning of weapons under international auspices ( Gen de Chastelain). When the IRA-Sinn Fein was founf to have engaged in espionage and lifted some secret files, PM Blair suspended the process and told the Sinn Fein to make a choice. In the case of the LTTE, the violations included the murder and adabduction of police officers from Colombo and its suburbs. Anyway, the Brit army never managed to do to the IRA that which the sri lankan armed forces succeeded in doing to the Tigers, which as the US Senate report states was one of the few instances of the defeat of a terrorist movement by military means in modern history.

    Truth Commission as in South Africa? Man, that struggle was for majority rule against minority domination, not for a separate state carved out by a minority. The last i looked the sinhalese were the majority. The ANC under Mandela even refused ( rightly) to have a federal constitution.

    The Oslo accords were with the PLO which represented the inhabitants of an area which was taken over by immigrants from Europe who later expelled them. I didn’t know that the Sinhalese migrated to the island in the 20th century, under British colonial patronage.

    My basic point is, you can go on with this narrative, and you may even be right, but it isn’t realistic. The result can only go one of two ways: 13th amendment and Northern Ireland at best/Chechnya at worst, or… NATO member Turkey’s Kurds and the illegalisation of Herri Batasuna in EU Spain. Take your pick. i suppose that’s “self determination”!

  • Groundtruth

    What is Dayan Jayatilleke talking about “mindless emotionalism and absence of thinking in Tamil politics” ? Surely the boot is on the other foot! Is he so mindless that he cannot comprehend yet what the country and the people have been throgh these last 60 years ending in a genocial war, war crimes, gross human, political and civil rights violations and criminality of all sorts as a result of a so-called “majoritarian state” gone off the rails? Surely, without serious introspection within all communities, especially within the Sinhala Buddhist community the future is bound to seed more of the past.

    As Kannan has pointed out how can you get into details of the so-called 13th Amendment when a simple and straight forward constitutional provision such as the use of Tamil as an official language enacted as far back, even under its own unilateral 1972 Constitution, is yet to be implemented in respect of the Tamil speaking people even in the north and east ? 37 long years have passed and the affected prople are yet awaiting its implementation UNLIKE Sinhala language which was implemented from day 1 from the time of its enactment in 1956! Dayan Jayatilleke simply can’t be that serious. Governments have always trotted out excuses. For instance as late as 2001 then Minister of Justice, a very,very highly educated academic, said they had only 40 Tamil typewriters which was hampering the implementation of Tamil langauge! The bottom line is that if there is no will all the talking and scoring of points are to no avail. YOu can’t win with political rogues..

    Had the Pacts and Agreements entered into at the political level between the Sinhala and Tamil peoples been implemented Sri Lanka would not have seen so much blood spilt mostly of innocent civilians from both sides. That is why it was a shame that Dayan Jayetillke supported the motion in the Human Rights Council calling for international investigations into human rights. Does anyone seriously believe it can be handled at the national level? It is likely to be a sure repeat of the IIEE disaster. This must not be allowed to go away no matter how many people are put behind bars. But why was he sacked from his job in Geneva despite tamely following government policy?

    The bottom line is that governance mode has to change. Without justice and the rule of law (which implies scrapping of the draconian PTA) and restoring habeas corpus no decent citizen can talk freely and openly without serious risk of white van abductions, torure or even death. Until then one can talk and talk until the cows come home but nothing tangible will happen. That is the reality. Such a shame. Isn’t it funny that even Sarath Fonseka’s Chief of Security got a taste of such an abduction and early threat?

    Due to wreched governance there is little point talking about 13th Amendment. It’s all about maintaining the status quo of politics to power and maintaining the stalemate. The reality is that citizens have no rights under the present governance regime. So do Chief Ministers who can be simply sacked by the President who is answerable to none! Did we not see that when former President CBK SACK the electd Prime Minister RW in 2003by a gazette notification! Surely something is rotten about such a state of affairs, quite unworthy of a state calling itself democratic. Checks and balances to power in a democracy are quite absent. Hence it is more worthy of a despotic state.

  • Burning_Issue

    It must be said that VP through his intransigent approach severely damaged the Tamils’ legitimate political aspirations. Dayan Jayatilleka pointed out at various junctures, the Tamils could have settled for substantially more than what is possible now. This assertion could have been put to test, if VP had allowed a political process; that wasn’t to be!

    Mr. Jayatilleka said that there is no support for Tamil Nationalism in the western quarters; ok, is there any support for Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism?
    Mr. Jayatilleka has asked the Tamils not to be emotional and embrace the 13th amendment. It is pretty easy for a Sinhala to say that especially one who defended the post-war triumphalism in the South, and one who is not overly critical of Sinhala Buddhist Hegemony; of course, it is very easy to point the finger at the perceived weakened Tamils!

    On the contrary, I do not think that, the Tamil course has weakened to the extent as some would like to make out. What has been defeated is that, the VP’s ideology that he stood and fought for at enormous consequences, but not the Tamils’ political aspirations. In fact, it is now far more internationalized than before – the world is watching the Sinhala regime for a promised political reconciliation. The LTTE in defeat is causing far more damage to the MR regime than when they were active! The war crime cloud hangs ever so closely around fuelled by some Western Press and Sinhala/Tamil voices.

    It is laughable that Mr. Jayatilleka has not even mentioned about the APRC; is he as weak as the Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinists? According to the Chairmen of APRC, a solution has been deliberated and it is now ready for perusal and why not Mr. Jayatilleka talk about this? It is by it’s virtue a representative consensus based proposal – why no mention of that in his erudite article? Is it because, anything more than bare minimum of the 13th amendment will be detrimental to the Sinhala Buddhist Hegemony? I charge Mr. Jayatelleka is an avid supporter of subjugation of the Tamils to the core. What is his view about Buddhist statues being placed all over the North without any due clearances from local authorities? Is Sri Lanka a secular country with Buddhism is at foremost place as per the constitution? Where does it leave the minorities including the Sinhala Christians?

  • Reader

    Not even the 13th Amendment will be passed by the present Mahinda Rajapakse administration. Those who watched the interview with Somawamsa Amarasinghe on this website will understand the JVP’s objections. Similar objections can be expected from other Sinhalese parties in the “coalition.” There is simply no consensus on this issue; without a consensus, it is folly to presume the 13th Amendment will see the light of day. Dayan Jayatillake is assuming a hypothetical scenario, albeit one which he is fully aware will never materialize. On the other hand, it is preposterous for him to presume Tamils should “accept” what will never be given to them in the first place.

  • Undaya

    Ever since the 1978 Constitution participatory politics is not possible in Sri Lanka. How can Sinhalese and Tamils find a way to work together, when possibility of participation does not exist? [Edited out] He is talking about 13th Amendment to that same constitution which is fundamentally flawed—this is like trying get some clean water out of a polluted river. [Edited out]

  • wijayapala

    Dear Groundtruth,

    As Kannan has pointed out how can you get into details of the so-called 13th Amendment when a simple and straight forward constitutional provision such as the use of Tamil as an official language enacted as far back, even under its own unilateral 1972 Constitution, is yet to be implemented in respect of the Tamil speaking people even in the north and east ?

    That’s a very good point. So are you saying that if the Tamil language policy is implemented, then there will be no need for 13th Amendment, devolution etc?

    37 long years have passed and the affected prople are yet awaiting its implementation UNLIKE Sinhala language which was implemented from day 1 from the time of its enactment in 1956!

    Sinhala was NOT implemented from day 1 or even decade 1. I refer you to the book “National language policy in Sri Lanka, 1956 to 1996: Three studies in its implementation” to get a better idea how slow it took for Sinhala to be implemented as a government langauge. The mere fact that there is no comprehensive Sinhala-to-English dictionary out there further disproves your argument.

  • wijayapala


    What has been defeated is that, the VP’s ideology that he stood and fought for at enormous consequences, but not the Tamils’ political aspirations.

    What exactly are these political aspirations, and how are they distinct from VP’s ideology?

    According to the Chairmen of APRC, a solution has been deliberated and it is now ready for perusal and why not Mr. Jayatilleka talk about this?

    He isn’t talking about the APRC report because it would take a 2/3rds majority in Parliament and a national referendum to enact it (a near impossibility), whereas the 13th Amendment simply (relatively) requires the President to implement it.

    It is by it’s virtue a representative consensus based proposal – why no mention of that in his erudite article? Is it because, anything more than bare minimum of the 13th amendment will be detrimental to the Sinhala Buddhist Hegemony?

    Nope- it’s because the APRC report is NOT a “consensus based proposal.” A number of Sinhala representatives dissented and produced “minority reports.” The Majority Report itself contains a great deal of unresolved issues, including really basic stuff like the unit of devolution and the exact powers to be devolved!

  • Aravinda

    One of the first changes Sri Lnkan government has to do to prevent future ethnic conflicts in Sri Lanka is to change the way “Birth certificate” is issued. A child should be regarded as a ‘Sri Lankan” and not by his or her ethinicity. The removal of caste from the “Birth certificate” too will be most welcomed. The caste is identified by the so called “Ge names”. It will be a very strong and a just leader who would do this, and this action will have long lasting repercussions in the country. If this proposal comes up in the parliment, we could expect massive backlash from those who would feel threatned by equality to all citizens. Only people who are sure to support this will be the Muslims, because of the inbuild equality embedded in their religion.

  • The struggle for national liberation worldwide is incomplete and it will continue for a considerably long time to come. On the visible agenda are Palestine, Afghanistan,Eelam,Kashmir, Kurdistan and many more. Without the completion of these national liberations there will be no social progress and no peace and that is absolutely certain whatever the old imperialisms, the new imperialisms and their lackeys may say.

    Sri Lanka comprises of at least two nations and unless this fact is recognised by the Sinhalese there will never be peace in the island. As to the relationship that would prevail between the two nations will have to be decided by both nations together and never by just one of the two. It is left to them to decide to live as two separate entities or joined together in a confederation. Never shall the Tamils remain a subject nation for ever.There never was and never will be a single nation to call the Sri Lankan nation and a search for same will be absolutely futile!

  • Nayagan

    Dayan drinks Che and breathes Fidel. Ergo, he imbibes mercury and inhales nitrous oxide.

    How else could an admitted fan and abettor of fiat authority also think himself a dashing mountebank for liberal democratic values?

    Benny Morris played the revolutionary new historian role too and ended up somewhere to the right of Jabotinsky. When will Dayan next sally forth into the international arena to bravely proclaim the right to bomb civilians in the course of yet another interminable war against terror?

  • Mohan

    “I have been sacked, basically. No reasons given. I have been asked to return by August
    THERE ARE ALSO MEDIA REPORTS WHICH SUGGEST THAT THIS DECISION IS BECAUSE OF SINHALESE HARDLINERS. Some media also suggest that there were rumours that certain foreign delegations had complained against Jayatilleka when they met President Mahinda Rajapaksa on the sidelines of the Non Aligned Movement Summit in Egypt. There was also strong speculation that his stance on the implementation of the 13th Amendment — and the heated debate that ensued — caused his dismissal. There is also an Israel angle to his exit.

    Can Dayan influence the hardliners? Never!

  • jayathilaka

    Dayan jayathilaka,s article is more or less supports the separatism which is militarily defeatd by now. he reiterates that the implementation 13th amenment is the best evr solution for the ethnic problem .( this ideology was perhaps is the most of the people who who were sucpicious and had no confidence of defeating terrorism bore in their minds.But things have changed unexpectedly since the end of the war.s the writer clearly mentions that the failiure of the elected government s since the independance should take the reponsibility for the discrimination of minority in Sri lanka.As the article pointed out the a genuine approach should be made by the government to win the hearts and minds of tamils.Not only the burnig issues of tamils have not been addressed by the elected governments so far but sinhalese too. once they have been addressed to the extent of satisfaction of tamils and sinhalese perhaps devolution of power will not be not so significant significant to them.The biggest problem lies with wether the present government or the future government will have a vision and a plan to tackele the issue.

  • Kannan Selvaratnam

    Thank you all for your responses. Also, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

    I would like to respond to Mr. Jeyatillaka’s response. Having both studied the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and spoken to one of those who helped craft it, the purpose of it was not about minority vs. majority framework. It was rather an attempt to bring about reconciliation by openly addressing human rights violation on part of the state and non state actors. To narrowly define this process as a majority vs. minority framework indicates a lack of understanding of the process of reconciliation in South Africa. While South Africa is not a federal state, Nelson Mandela and the ANC were able to justify this because they were a non racial political party which ushered in a non racial constitution that did not give foremost place to any ethnic group or language. Also there was an independent judiciary within the new constitution which tends to uphold the laws both from the perspective of individual rights and political corruption.

    If anyone is interested on the workings of the committee, please go to the official site of the TRC to learn more

    As for the British not defeating the IRA and the Sri Lankan government doing so, I believe these are not similar situations. The IRA was more of an urban movement that did not resort to conventional tactics. The British could not resort to war against the civilian base of the IRA as they did in the past in the Malaya and Kenyan conflicts where they defeated the insurgent forces. This is because the British and the European public would not allow barbed wire camps and shelling of the public in the middle of Europe. The LTTE through their actions created conditions for their eventual defeat. Their actions of alienating India and the West took away the ability to resupply themselves. Their Human Rights violations took away the moral imperative of the cause they claimed to represent. Finally they overreached by building a conventional army that was bloated and collapsed on the imperative of having to hold on to ground and administer regions under their control. This in a way was the genius of the ceasefire agreement which in the end laid the groundwork for the eventual defeat of the LTTE.

    And finally my article in no way indicated the need for “self determination”. It pointed out the flaws within the 13th amendment which Mr. Jayetillaka did not address. Also as my article indicated you need constitutional reforms on the national level in order to address disparities that minorities face in Sri Lanka. There is a broad space in politics between the idea of “Self determination” and the 13th amendment. There needs to be an open and honest dialogue between the political class and civil community leaders to find this balance.

  • Groundtruth

    Dear Wijeyapala
    Re the first point. I said no such thing. If there was foresight on the part of governments and proper governance all this chaos and mayhem need not have arisen. I am sure you probably know as well as I do that politics and politicians are the driving force to secure easy electoral gains and power based on emotive reasons.It costs them nothing, unlike a development oriented stance which requires considerable talent and thinking through. Taking the line of least resistance by working on the emotions of people at elections has become the brand name of so-called “majoritarian democracy” game, especially after 1956. Don’t we see it being enacted even today? One can dream about being a second Singapore and a second Japan and what not but those countries were built as you well klnow not just on dreams.

    Re your second point, the 24 hours switch over was said by none other than the late SWRD Bandaranaike himself. Anyone so minded could send /sign official letters in Sinhala Only from day 1 because it became the law on ofiicial correspondence after Sept.26, 1956. I agree in practice it took time and officials were paid bonuses to encourage switch over. I am at a loss to see the connection between lack of a complete Sinhala-English dictionary to the point I was driving at in respect of the use of the Tamil language by Tamil speaking people as the language of communication and administration. Where is the connection, if any?

  • punitham

    Absence of thinking in Tamil politics?

    Too bruised by 61+-year structural violence/genocidal pogroms/draconian PTA/expert damage control at UN/Commonwealth/denial of access for aid agencies ….. to think.

  • Native Veda

    Would former ambassador Jayatilleka care to read a media release issued by Centre for Social Democracy which argues for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)to heal the wounds of victims and a social mechanism to confess their atrocities of the instigtors. Those who committed atrocities should be given an opportunity to confess and come clean, otherwise these men will become a anti social elements in the community.

    I am sure amabassador will have more to say about TRC as a private citizen.

    Centre for Social Democracy Media Release:
    24 December, 2009
    Ethnic discord that would not be resolved through war crimes accusations
    The Centre for Social Democracy (CSD) understands the efforts of the two main candidates in using war crimes accusations raised by the international community, for political mileage against each other in their presidential election campaign, as extremely vicious and an inhuman effort. Manipulations by the very partners of this war that left thousands of Tamil people totally uprooted from their habitats, loosing their kith and kin, their children, their parents and their neighbours for mere election gains, prove that political leaders in this country are still not prepared for reconciliation of this war torn society to regain a peaceful, common future.

    The conviction of the CSD that using the brute force of war in this modern world we live in to solve
    political conflicts between ethnicities in a country is no civilised way of solving problems, is based on
    the human misery and devastation that the war has heaped in the North, adding on to the yet unsolved
    political issues, despite the war declared as over.
    The CSD also believes that while accusations and queries on war crimes raised by the United Nations
    and other international organisations are in relation to international law and human rights violations and
    therefore are lessons for the future, what ever response given to those accusations and queries would
    not suffice to alleviate the sufferings of the war affected Tamil people and help solve their long
    standing democratic political problem.
    That said, the CSD is of the opinion, any responsible government of a member country of the UN has a
    responsibility in responding to accusations of war crimes and that should not be turned into election
    campaigning to win votes.
    Using war crime accusations against each other for elections gains, would further deepen the gaps
    created between ethnicities during war. This no doubt is a political issue and could only be solved
    through political answers. The CSD thus believes, reconciliation could be achieved only by creating
    opportunities for self respect and by mutual respect for each other.
    “Truth Commissions” initiated by political leaderships in apartheid and war affected South Africa for
    purpose of reconciliation as an open social process, provide serious lessons for us, in Sri Lanka.
    This South African lesson teaches that all savagery of any unwanted war could only be washed away
    from society, by those who were collaborators of and fell victims to that war. Also that it should be a
    people’s intervention led and managed by leaders who are independent and seeks no revenge.
    The CSD is of very strong opinion that international accusations on war crimes could only be
    effectively answered by such a genuine people’s intervention. Therefore, the CSD wishes to call on all
    Sri Lankans to prevail upon all their political leaderships to reach consensus on such a democratic
    people’s initiative for reconciliation, in achieving a peaceful future with a common purpose and
    Sgd / Kusal Perera Sgd/ Mahinda Ratnayake
    On behalf of
    Centre for Social Democracy

    Company Act registration – GA 2036
    NGO registration – L 135616
    W / 2 /1, Anderson Flats, Colombo 5, Sri Lanka
    Contact + 94 11 2555282 (phone / fax)
    E-mail – [email protected]

  • Veedhur

    @ nimbras bawa – not sure if your assessment of Pillayan is correct. He may not be the statesman one would want him to be, but he is neither a fool and certainly has more brains and commitment and honesty than the Chief Minister of UVA province – Sashindra Rajapakse.

  • Sri Lanka’s identity is very much symbol of oppression for Tamils. We can’t never accept this as future. All Tamil people will fight on for justice for Tamils.

    True reconciliation have to include a way to break from past. 35,000 Tamils youth did not fight to death just for 13th amendment. 300,000 tamils civilions did not die for that. 1 milions Tamils did leave this country for no reason.

    [Edited out]

    To have peace in this Island. Their has to be Win Win situation for all part’ys involved.

    I remember that only when Rajpaksah was elected he wanted Honourable peace. Tamils expect that same now. Sinhala migh have won the war for now.. But to have peace tamils must get or win their rights.

  • Dinkiri

    Dayan states his points with confident eloquence. Others have contributed their thoughts. Harping on historical failures cannot help but only to learn lessons and rectify and move on. Its a new day and new morn. Solutions will have to be real, acceptable and give the people a new vision. Tamils do not have any credible leadership. On the Sinhalese side there are disturbing developments. The defense secretary needs to measure his conduct. He may have grown too big for his boots. These silly, childish squabbles are a disgrace yet, it shows the climate of politics in SL. Yes, MR has vanquished the tigers and KP is in the net and other “tiger hangers on” are being apprehended. MR must rise to the occasion and rise above petty politics and show both Tamil and Sinhalese that a new vision is possible.

  • jansee

    The LTTE lost not only the ground they held but also lost the moral of the war after becoming a recalcitrant outfit. Dayan Jayatilake is but a mirror of that outfit who believed and still believes that 20,000 inncoent civilians need to be massacred to win a brutal war. He has as much blood in his hands as the monsters of the LTTE.

    The SL regime has been talking about the 13thA for ages but there is no way that it would ever be implemented in full anytime. There is no point of talking about the APRC with a slime without a backbone like Vitharana, ever changing his goal posts.

    It is a new dawn – one that will define the future of possibilities. When the dust has settled and sanity returns, the reaction of the Tamils will depend on the magnanimity of the majority south but by simply saying, as Dayan says, that the Tamils have to settle for the 13thA, take it or leave it, as arrogance personified, then it would be wishful thinking that such a subjugation would not be vehemently protested by the Tamils, whatever it takes.

    The Tamils should never ever resort to violence. As much as the world changed when Bush declared war on terrorism, and rightly so, there are abundant ways and means, in the present IT era to reach the people of many countries. The UN, UNHRC and similar establishments are never going to support genuine humanitarian issues when the leaders want to pat each other on their back. for their misdeeds. It is going to be a long journey but as much as the Americans are ready to impeach their President, so should the modus of dealing with genuine issues should be taken to the people of the countries whose leaders do not give a hoot over the legitimacy and seriousness of these issues. Barring economic issues and concerns, it will work and that is the global platform that should be established. Isn’t enough of the duplicity and treachery that have worked its way through to the not-so-noble institutions and being allowed to be hijacked by names like Dayan Jayatilake?

  • Groundtruth

    Jansee said: “The Tamils should not resort to violence again”. Is this supposed to be joke, unless you are a post-1983 babe? Who created the LTTE?

    The multiplicity of views of individuals show the many possible pathways to a better future. It seems obvious that without a political renaissance the people and country are doomed to repeat the grievous and gross mistakes of the past, as has happened more than once in teh past 60 years. How is it possible to break out of the vicious circle of past political rivalries and head for a new dawn is the question? Obviously new political environment is needed. Without trained politicians who can address seriously the burning political, social, economic and environmental issues there are bound to be endless fruitelss debates given the ever increasing issues to be addressed. Can the easy path to power of the past by political parties and their Leaders be buried?

    Take the ongoing Presidential election process. There are said to be 22 candidates. NOT ONE has put out a coherent plan to solve the many burning problems except for the two main candidates MR and SF who are busy trading insults and war heroism as a means of garnering votes! What a pathetic state of affairs? Are these the issues which will help improve the people’s lot one wee bit and solve the many burning problems at people’s level? Reconciliation can come only from a win-win situation which will uplift ALL sections of the people at the citizen’s level. Only then is it possible to hold the politicians to account in an objective manner.

    And for such a process to happen can politicians rise to the occasion and be held to account? if they fail then it is also the collective faliure of voters who elected them to power.

    Just a suggestion. Should not there be a Training Institute for elected politicians at various levels, hopefully funded with foreign, or better still, UN aid. Trained political scientists are the need of the hour? Perhaps there should be minimum educational and practical qualiifications to be entitled to contest elections. Just like with every job in the Public Service every elected politicain should also have a Terms of Reference like with any other job (in the Public Service). Is it outrageous to stop freewheeling by politicians? Elections is a good time to bring about CHANGE.

  • leon

    Pillayan like his former should be made a minister. Being CM is harder than being a Minister. Look at Karuna [edited out] and enjoying his perks. Help him Mahinda

  • jansee


    When the Tamils have been maimed and locked up in concentration camps, would then my suggestion sound like a joke? The one million strong diaspora preferred to make noise from afar but dared not come near SL, leaving the hapless Tamils within the country to literally go through hell. Does that sound like a joke, too.

    It should have dawned on the Tamils that the SL regime would never ever even consider the full implementation of the 13thA, what more the hope for federalism or autonomy similar to the one enjoyed by the Indian states is only a pipe dream. Didn’t you all read what Dayan wrote – 13thA – take it or leave it. My take is that even that piece of legislation will never be fully implemented unless the CM would just be another office-boy, just like Pillayan. The only choice left for the Tamils is to seek their own homeland.

  • Groundtruth


    The question I posed was not to recant what you hypothetically proposition but to drive the well known principle that violence begets violence. It was state violence over years unleashed against Tamil people that created the LTTE. To have missed the wood for the trees was unfortunate. Nothing to do with Diaspora or anyone else. Simply a replay of what the past in Sri lanka has done in the hope that everyone concerned can learn, if at all, for the future.

    Now to come to the raw points you raise about “maiming and conmcentration camps” these are potentially war crimes and gross crimes against humanity which are governed by laws, even international humanitarian laws. The way to deal with such dastardly crimes is independent investigation to bring the culprits to trial.

    Your second statement is even hilarious in spite of your profanity that the government does not consider that its own constitutional provision should be taken seriously. Are you really serious?

  • Heshan

    “the government does not consider that its own constitutional provision should be taken seriously”

    I think its true. The Executive Presidency clause seems to have rendered most of the rest of the Constitution redundant. What about the PTA? The burden of proof is on the victim, as opposed to the accuser. And ministers can overrule any judgment made in lieu of the PTA. Let me try to make this a little more clear:

    —- (2) Where any person connected with or concerned in or reasonably suspected to be connected with or concerned in the commission of any offence under this Act appears or is produced before any court other than in the manner referred to in subsection (1) —–

    Exactly how do you define suspicion? In civilized nations, regardless of the degree of suspicion, the relevant agency must still get a warrant from the court. No warrant is necessary as per the PTA:

    6.(1) Any police officer not below the rank of Superintendent or any other police officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector authorised in writing by him in that behalf may, without a warrant and with or without assistance and notwithstanding anything in any other law to the contrary –

    (a) arrest any person;

    (b) enter and search any premises;

    (c) stop and search any individual or any vehicle, vessel, train or aircraft; and

    (d) seize any document or thing, connected with or concerned in or reasonably suspected of being connected with or concerned in any unlawful activity.


    I mentioned that ministers can intervene. Imagine then how powerful the President must be! Anyway, here is the relevant clause in the PTA:


    9.(1) Where the Minister has reason to believe or suspect that any person is connected with or concerned in any unlawful activity, the Minister may order that such person be detained for a period not exceeding three months in the first instance, in such place and subject to such conditions as may be determined by the Minister, and any such order may be extended from time to time for a period not exceeding three months at a time: Provided, however, that the aggregate period of such detention shall not exceed a period of eighteen months.

    (2) (a) At any time after an order has been made in respect of any person under subsection (1), the Minister may direct that the operation of such order be suspended and may make an order under subsection (1) of section 11.

    (b) The Minister may revoke any such direction if he is satisfied that the person in respect of whom the direction was made has failed to observe any condition imposed or that the operation of the order can no longer remain suspended without detriment to public safety.


    Actually there is much more that ministers can do… in fact, there is nothing that ministers cannot do, as far as the PTA is concerned. You may observe the fact for yourself:

  • Observer

    Groundtruth, I do agree its a sad state of affairs in SL politics atm. But that’s the same in other countries too. Politics is just dirty by nature. Don’t just bash on SL.

    Have you forgotten the dirty mud tactics used in the last US elections? Joe the plumber ayone? If you watch Fox, you’d think SL state media is much much tame and unbiased. MSNBC vs. Fox is similar to say Rupavahini vs. Sirasa.

    Doesn’t SF reminds you of Sarah Palin? He’s gonna do to Ranil what Palin did to Mccain. Except Mccain had a fighting chance.

    Politicians come from popularity not intellectuality.

    “Just a suggestion. Should not there be a Training Institute for elected politicians at various levels, hopefully funded with foreign, or better still, UN aid.”

    You reckon Arnie would sign up for that? Maybe if its weights training.

    Long as they’re cunning, they’ll thrive!

  • SomeOne

    Dear Observer,

    “…Politics is just dirty by nature…”

    I don’t agree with this statement. The people running the politics made it dirty. In other words, politics itself is not dirty. Then again, the people running the politics are from our society.

    “…Politicians come from popularity not intellectuality…”

    If we could make intellectuals popular then the intellectuals become politicians too.

    Therefore, the society should take fair share of the blame for the dirty politics, I reckon.