An Allergy To Self-Criticism In Dominant Tamil Discourse

In hard science when an experiment repeatedly fails and finally blows up the lab with it, the very assumptions which form the basis of the experiment are reassessed and often abandoned.  The empirically evident track record of Tamil nationalist politics in Sri Lanka is that of repeated failure capped by defeat. However the dominant tendency in Sri Lankan Tamil nationalist politics, including in this postwar moment, has been quite other than one of critical self scrutiny.

As I explained in several articles during the CFA and at Georgetown’s CSIS in November 2005, when placed in a comparative historical context, even the dramatic military victories of the Tigers disguised a great strategic failure. First rate guerrilla movements of national liberation (Mao’s PLA, Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh, Aferwerki’s EPLF, Nasrallah’s Hezbollah, to name a few) had achieved their objectives in far shorter time frames, while Prabhakaran who commenced the armed struggle in 1972, could neither retain Jaffna (’95) nor re-take it (2000).  The broadest control he exercised over the North and East was not the product of solid military achievement i.e. a liberated zone set up through militarily vanquishing the enemy forces (e.g. Fidel in the Sierra), but precisely during and due to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s CFA. The hollowness of this achievement was evidenced by the three year roll-up of a thirty five year old armed movement.

In short, the hallmark of –and the trouble with– Tamil nationalist politics in Sri Lanka and therefore the underlying Northern Tamil social consciousness, is the sheer unwillingness to take responsibility. The responses to my pair of recent articles on Tamil politics reveal the same old narrative of blaming the Tamils travails entirely or mainly on the Sinhalese, the Indians, the international community, i.e. anyone but themselves, their attitudes and their leadership. Self awareness and self criticism seem alien to the Lankan Tamil temper.

The “best and brightest” of the Tamil Diaspora are not immune from these flaws of intellectual and ethical character. I refer to the latest report of the UTHR Jaffna ( “Let Them Speak”, Dec 13, 2009), which blithely concludes that “…the key to military dominance lay not in brilliant strategies, but in an utter disregard for the lives of civilians and combatants alike, driven by their leaders’ single-minded pursuit of personal power”. The subtext through which the pathetic racist myth of Tamil superiority is perpetuated is that “the key” to the Tigers defeat was not “brilliant strategies”– instead the Southern side won because it was more barbaric! Now unfortunately for the UTHR and its Sinhala fellow travelers, not a single military commentator with credentials anywhere in the world has said this or is likely to, whatever the criticisms they may have of the Lankan armed forces heavy handed tactics. The UTHR-J report’s own survivor testimonies prove that whenever the Tigers mounted or attempted a counter attack and breakthrough, they found themselves drastically short of ordnance, unlike in earlier campaigns. Now the UTHR-J may think absurdly that this was due to “an utter disregard for the lives of civilians and combatants alike, driven by their leaders’ single-minded pursuit of personal power”, but every sane analyst knows it was by means of a strategy which deployed Sri Lankan naval assets in unprecedented blue water operations which interdicted and destroyed the LTTE’s much vaunted logistical chain, sustained by its shipping network and guarded by the Sea Tigers. Secondly, this report asks the Lankan people and the world community to believe that the Sri Lankan armed forces were more barbaric than Velupillai Prabhakaran and its Tigers. Thirdly it ignores the great number of states whose far better armed militaries would have as little or less compunction in using massive force against separatist terrorists, but haven’t yet succeeded in eliminating them militarily. Fourthly it ignores the actual ongoing use of firepower with a ghastly rate of collateral damage by some of the world’s superpower/major power militaries (98% civilian casualties in drone strikes), without achieving anything like the success of the Sri Lankan security forces.

The UTHR-J report also argues that after the liberation of Kilinochchi, the Sri Lankan state should have resorted to a political solution. This begs the question of what political solution short of immediate, unconditional and total surrender, would have been acceptable to any state and any army in that situation, and which state would not press home its advantage and maneuver to militarily crush and destroy an enemy as fanatical as the Tigers after thirty years of war studded by peace talks wrecked by that enemy.

The misplaced arrogance of narrow Northern Tamil nationalism is also manifest in the comments on websites concerning my advocacy of S Thondaman as a role model and my underscoring of his success. The remarks attribute Thondaman’s success to – unsurprisingly – the Northern Tamil struggle and depict it as a by-product of that struggle. This smug self congratulatory interpretation, once again confirmatory of the inflated self regard of the narrowly nationalist Tamil psyche, begs the question of how S Thondaman was able to achieve something out of the Northern Tamil struggle while the Northern Tamils and their leadership were not! For instance, Ceylon’s independence was a by-product of the giant struggle of the Indian masses for Independence, but that latter goal was achieved, and it was not the case that Ceylon, the by-product, succeeded, while the main struggle, of an in India, collapsed—while in Sri Lanka, the hill-country Tamils succeeded in regaining citizenship while the Northern Tamils could not get a single one of their demands, however justifiable or not, starting with “fifty: fifty” and (a bit) later, federalism, and winding up with Tamil Eelam and the ISGA! The Tamil responses to my remarks on Thondaman also focus on the continued poverty of the hill country Tamils. What these arrogant observations choose to obscure is that S Thondaman did not lead to comfortably off ethnic community to totalitarian rule and then military rule and IDP status, as did the nationalist Tamil leadership.  He did not lead a community from functioning households into shellfire devastated and mine-ridden neighborhoods without the compensation of victory or even an honorable truce. S Thondaman led a community that was disenfranchised and in semi-serf conditions, to full political citizenship. Northern Tamil nationalism led an enfranchised community to conditions on quasi-occupation, and yet its ideologues posit and foster a sense of superioriority to the achievement of S Thondaman, a great leader of his community, the working class movement and a recognized national figure.  The ideologues of Tamil nationalism would do well to regard his achievement with humility.

Contrast this with the behavior in the South, within the Sinhala social formation, in my lifetime. After the uprising of April 1971 and its brutal yet inevitable suppression, the intelligentsia went into a mode of self searching, ranging from LSSP’s theoretician Leslie Gunawardene in the Daily News to Leel Gunasekara’s short stories, originating in his experience as a public servant involved in rehabilitation. No area was insulated from this self critical gaze. Policies changed and new institutions arose.

Then again after the anti-Tamil attacks of 1958, 1977, 1979 and July 83, enlightened responses from among the Sinhalese ranged from and were reflected by Tarzie Vittachi’s Emergency 58, MIRJE, the SSA’s volume on ethnicity, Gananath Obeysekara’s ‘The Institutionalization of political Violence’ and his reflections on ‘Dutugemunu’s Conscience’, the seminal debate on Jatika Chinthanaya in the newspapers, to the huge volume of material published mainly in the Lanka Guardian, and contained in Dr Kumar Rupesinghe’s two volume bibliography.  Wilhelm Reich was mandatory reading for any discussion of the behavior of the Sinhala mob.  Mervyn de Silva kept critiquing and satirizing “the Sinhala psyche” and the “Mahavamsa mindset”. Latter day explorations into role and function of Sinhala Buddhism include the path-breaking The Work of Kings by Prof HL Seneviratne of the University of Virginia.

To provide one last example, the hideous carnage practiced by (and later, on) the JVP’s during its second insurrection, led to excavations of violence in the Sinhala heritage. While London based Australian Bruce Kapferer’s was the most sophisticated of the genre, a young Sinhalese radical, CA Chandraprema got there first with a racy polemic that picked up on the sadistic scenes of Yama in Buddhist temple art. (Chandraprema’s immediately following book on the Sinhala South was both precursor of and indispensable background reading for the understanding of the Southern resurgence in its Rajapakse-ist and now Fonsekan variants).

Where are the Sri Lankan Tamil equivalents? Where are the explorations of Tamil culture and the collective Tamil psyche that have attempted to explain the justifications of the burning of TELO youth on the streets of Jaffna, the social marginalization of the Eelam Left which sought links with the Sinhala south, the cult of Prabhakaran and the suicide bombers, the reviling of the IPKF and the cheering on of Tigers’ war against it, the excuses made for every escalation of demands, shift of goalposts and unilateral walkout from negotiations,  the subordination and subservience to tyranny, the arrogant dismissal of the murdered Tamil leaders and learned victims of Tiger violence — such as, but not only Amirthalingam, Tiruchelvam, Yogeswaran, Kadirgamar, Dr Rajani Thiranagama, Mrs Sarojini Yogeswaran, K Pathmanabha and L. Ketheeshwaran? I can recall one lecture by Prof Ratnajeevan Hoole, which scratched the surface, never constituted a beginning but remained a splendidly isolated instance.

Throughout the war, Tamil nationalism displayed two alternating mentalities: one of false superiority or over-lordship and the other of eternal victimhood. “Over-lordship” manifested itself in the Tigers’ conduct during the anti-IPKF war, CFA, the demand for the ISGA, the themes of the Pongu Tamil demonstrations, the various Mahaveera celebrations all over the world, and the demand (voiced in Tamil Nadu itself) that India intervene to stop the war notwithstanding the unapologetic stance of the pro-Tiger Tamils regarding the murder on Indian soil, of Rajiv Gandhi.  “Eternal Victimhood” manifested itself even after the brusque sequestering of the Sri Lankan armed forces in the North and East by the Indian peacekeeping force in pursuance of the Indo-Lanka accord which empowered the Tamil people of that area. It continues shrilly in the dominant Tamil discourse in the West from MIA to Vany Kumar, and this day in the Lankan Tamil nationalist mainstream: all failures and defeats are the fault of the Sinhalese, those who supported them and those who have failed to support the Tamils sufficiently (as if India didn’t pay the price in Perumpudur, for such support and trust, with most Tamils justifying the war against the IPKF and the assassination itself). Sometimes aspirations of over-lordship and protestations of victimhood fuse in the bombast of ideologues writing and speaking from London, the belly of the neo-colonial beast.

In the dominant Tamil discourse, no minority is as oppressed, self sacrificial and deserving as it is. While any politically literate person would remember the policies and practice of mass internment without trial and the dirty protest “death fasts” of Bobby Sands and his comrades in Northern Ireland, for most Tamils, a Good Friday type settlement which is good enough for Northern Ireland’s Catholic minority (devolution within a unitary state) somehow wasn’t and isn’t good enough for them.

Northern Ireland’s Catholic church and its priests condemned the terrorist use of violence (violence against noncombatants and unarmed civilians) by the Provisional IRA but Sri Lanka’s Catholic and Protestant Churches (and priests and nuns) in the North never went on the record doing the equivalent. Instead, the correct postulates of liberation theology were distorted to justify terrorism and opt for Barabbas.  As a Christian, I trust that the moral failure of collective Tamil nationalism in worshipping evil, not in the form of the Golden Calf but of the Black Tiger, is understood to have resulted in a classically Old Testament outcome in Nandikadal.  In fact the trust of the community was placed in the collection of colossal amounts of money and the supposed superiority of the suicide terrorism: thus in laying the Golden calf before the Black Tiger (until the lions came along and ate them both).

The critique I have mounted in what has turned into a triptych of recent pieces was preceded a few months ago by a series in similar vein in The Island, by Victor Ivan, yet another Sri Lankan Sinhalese progressive (of a Christian background) who had stuck his neck out supporting the Tamil struggle at the same time I began to, the late 1970s, in the pages of the Lanka Guardian newly launched by Mervyn de Silva. Mine pertains solely to the nationalist/ultranationalist tendency of Tamil politics in Sri Lanka; that tendency which has long been dominant.  It does not extend to the Tamil Left from the 1940s onwards, except when it fell under the ideological force field of and became a fellow traveler of Tamil nationalism (the EPRLF during the NEPC). The abiding errors of the Tamil Eelam Left were, in the case of one main organization, internal violence, and generically speaking, sectarianism which prevented it from forming a countervailing bloc to Tamil nationalism and divided its Sinhala allies as well.  That apart, the Eelam Left or the Tamil New Left has contributed two of the most able personalities and survivors of the Thirty Years war: Douglas Devananda and D. Siddharthan. The former is the only Tamil leader with the potential of becoming, someday, a Northern Saumyamoorthy Thondaman.

Devananda’s is a story that any community or movement anywhere in the world can be proud of: that of an uncompromising opponent of Prabhakaran who consistently cautioned the Tamil people of the consequences of following his evil path; a survivor of both Sinhala racist violence and Tiger violence; a veteran, according to the US State Dept, of 11 assassination attempts by the Tigers; a politician who has nursed his constituency and worked for the people’s welfare under harsh wartime conditions, having made the transition from guerrilla commander to a Minister under successive administrations.

Having talked substantively to Martin MacGuinness more than once, and having known Devananda and Siddharthan for decades, I’d say that this latter pair is the closest that Northern Tamil politics comes to the cannily tough-minded Northern Irish republicans. In the final analysis, the test of serious politics is that of survival, success or failure in the realm of power. So far, the result of that test has been the repeated and sustained defeat and failure of the Tamil nationalist political project, capped by the extinction of one phenomenon. The trajectory and success of Tamil politics in the crucial postwar decade depends considerably on whether or not the Tamil voters recognize and reward the role and potential of this duo of strong minded survivors.

  • Heshan

    “First rate guerrilla movements of national liberation (Mao’s PLA, Ho Chi Minh’s Viet Minh, Aferwerki’s EPLF, Nasrallah’s Hezbollah, to name a few) had achieved their objectives in far shorter time frames”

    The LTTE did not enjoy the advantage of terrain which the above groups took for granted. For example, the Viet Minh could travel between Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, while the Americans were confined to Vietnam. Hezbollah didn’t stick around in Israel after launching missile attacks; they snuck back into Lebanon. Similarly, the PLA had the entire expanse of China at their disposal. One of the main reasons for the downfall of the LTTE was the destruction of their supply lines. This was due to satellite intelligence provided by India as well as the efforts of the Indian Navy. Once the supply lines became defunct, it came down to simply wearing the LTTE out. Here the deciding factor was manpower and superior firepower. Without adequate replenishment of weaponry, the LTTE could afford few heavy battles (else they risked heavy casualties) and thus were forced into a defensive battle. But the defensive battle was also flawed as it could not hold the terrain. Gradually the LTTE became boxed into smaller and smaller territory and of course, their casualty rate increased in direct proportion, to the point of their ultimate decimation. In contrast, it was impossible to box in the Vietminh or Hezbollah. As I said, they operated from a much more expansive terrain than anything in SL. Without this boxing in, it was impossible to cut off their supply lines. Even today, Israel cannot finish off Hamas because Hamas has kept its supply lines (from Iran, Egypt, etc.) largely intact through covert smuggling operations.

    “The subtext through which the pathetic racist myth of Tamil superiority is perpetuated is that “the key” to the Tigers defeat was not “brilliant strategies”– instead the Southern side won because it was more barbaric!”

    In another vein, if the Southern side truly had a brilliant strategy for winning the war, it would not have taken 30 years to implement it. Suddenly Sonia Gandhi decided to take revenge or whatever – lending unlimited support to SL – MR and Gothayaba (two hard-core fascists) took power, and the opportunity arose to execute total war against the Northern Tamils. Now, it should be asked, which political leader in the civilized world would agree to total war, much less total war against his own citizens. MR, unfortunately, fits that mold exactly. The rest is history.

    “The UTHR-J report also argues that after the liberation of Kilinochchi, the Sri Lankan state should have resorted to a political solution. This begs the question of what political solution short of immediate, unconditional and total surrender, would have been acceptable to any state and any army in that situation,”

    In retrospect, a political solution would have been far more favorable than foreign funded detention camps where conditions were so deplorable that inmates were practically swimming in their own feces at times.

  • Amber

    I have seen many articles in Groundviews that critique SL government policies and actions. However they never do so in a racist manner by simplistically attributing Sinhalese nationalism or Sinhalese politics to a Sinhalese racial mindset. I do have to wonder about this and the previous piece by Dayan Jayatilleke though He talks of a Lankan Tamil “temper” that apparently is not given to self-criticism or reflection. The title of the article itself uses a biological metaphor of an “allergy” to speak of this seeming Tamilian inability for self-criticism. In another article he speaks of the “mindless emotionalism” of the SL Tamil psyche. Quite aside from the issue of whether such attacks on SL Tamil character and mindset are appropriate material for publication in groundviews, it confuses me that somebody who represents himself as a leftist intellectual would speak of a community’s collective psyche in characterological terms. Wouldn’t it be more consistent for someone coming from a leftist perspective to analyse the historicity of the contemporary collective SL Tamil psyche, linking the psyche to the events and political-economic forces that have shaped it or even to show how it offers ideological screens than to focus on coming up with as many insulting terms to describe contemporary Tamil social consciousness as one can?

    Is there anything intellectually sound in this so-called critique of the UTHR-J report? Who decided that there were only two alternating “mentalities” of SL Tamil nationalism? Why is only one type of Tamil politics chosen to stand in for a “collective” SL Tamil psyche? If even individuals find it difficult to be psychically coherent and consistent, on what basis do we speak of an entire community as having one definite psyche?

    “Mindless emotionalism” is a descriptor that might just as well be applied to this article as to Tamil politics or the SL Tamil psyche.

  • jansee

    This is a classic example of the pot calling the kettle black. Emotions and allergy – well, Dayan has tried all his tricks but too bad that however hard he tries to poke fun at the “other” side, the spit only falls on his face.

    “The Tamil responses to my remarks on Thondaman also focus on the continued poverty of the hill country Tamils. What these arrogant observations choose to obscure is that S Thondaman did not lead to comfortably off ethnic community to totalitarian rule and then military rule and IDP status, as did the nationalist Tamil leadership”

    Both Thondaman and Prabhakaran are the two extremes. One chose, for his personal comfort, to keep his group in the “stone-age” while the other went for the blood and the people paid the price. While I am comforted at Dayan’s philandering cry that the Tamils have still not got it, let us for argument sake assume that the Tamil’s comfort themselves to Dayan’s “novel” philosophy, and for being good boys, the SL regime will throw the 13thA minus-minus and hallelujah, the Tamils can then rejoice.

    Dayan, the SL regime can continue to deny the Tamils what they have been asking for for another century, as much as the Tamils are not going to live in peace, so would the Sinhalese. There are ways and means to achieve that> it is not that the Tamils adored Prabhakaran’s ways but that seemed to be the only choice when guys like you throw the 13thA and as arrogant as you would say take it or leave it? Telangana in India laboured for years and now they are going to get their own state. Simply telling the Tamils to forget the past and accept what the SL regime is going to throw at them, well, my gauge is just to state “wishful thinking” Unless serious efforts are made to address the genuine grievances of the Tamils, peace will be a pipe-dream.

  • Burning_Issue

    I would like to quote from Mr. T Sabaratnam’s Biography of Prabhakaran:

    Thondaman’s reaction to the LTTE attack on the Kent & Dollar farm:

    “Some people think the State is supreme. There are others more powerful” he said and added, “Pirapaharan had taught them a lesson.”

    I do not support any form of killings but pointing out the mindset that Thondaman was in during the JR regime!

    Mr Jayatelleka thinks that the Sinhala hegemony has come up with the 13th amendment as a process of progression! It was pushed into by India and to date, no government has bothered to implement it! Why do they need the Tamil participation for implementation?

    TNA and other Tamil leaders who are working with SF have based their demands on the basis of APRC proposals and Banda Chelva pact; isn’t that progression?

    Mr Jeyatellka assumes that all Tamils are LTTE supporters except those who accept the 13th Amendment; all his arguments transpire in this fashion. He has helped to defeat the LTTE, whether one is a LTTE supporter or not, the Tamil bargaining platform was defeated along with LTTE; Mr Jetatellka knows this very well and this is why he is able to come up with take or leave it attitude. In my books, if anything is arrogant, it is this!

  • anapayan

    DJ,
    Please mention one reason why someone should not regard your comments as racist? You are showing your frustration due to an uncompromising stand taken by the majority of Tamils in not accepting the 13th amendment. Hence the threshold for the Tamil racism has come down further to accommodate the UTHR-J. In your view, who ever advocating for Tamil rights is a racist, then what kind of democracy you are preaching? During 1950s and 1960s, the space for peaceful agitations was restricted by successive governments and that led to the emergence of Tamil militancy. Its look like you are doing exactly same thing by calling UTHR-J as Tamil racist, ironically some Tamil nationalists still regard them as ‘traitors’. Good luck with your 13A!!

  • Agnos

    The more DJ writes, the more he exposes his own racism, proving that racism is so widespread among Sinhalese; so much so that an inversion of reality has occurred. And the Tamils become more alienated and implacable. How amusing for a war criminal like him to pontificate on self-criticism and talk about Christianity! The plight of the IDPs and the condition of the victims of war are hardly laughing matters. Their plight requires immediate focus, but the elimination of the ruling Mafia, of which DJ is an extension, appears only a matter of time.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Amber,

    I have seen many articles in Groundviews that critique SL government policies and actions. However they never do so in a racist manner by simplistically attributing Sinhalese nationalism or Sinhalese politics to a Sinhalese racial mindset.

    Perhaps not on Groundviews (although I haven’t checked each and every article), but there have been plenty of talking heads over the last 20 years who have blamed everything on a Sinhala racial mindset. Google the term “Mahavamsa mindset,” which Prabakaran himself invoked in his last Heroes’ Day Speech, and you’ll see what I mean (although, Dayan has just revealed that it was his own father who coined the term!!!).

    Dayan’s problem is not so much his substance (although there are some problems there) as his delivery; he’s coming across as smarmy and unempathetic as the worthless Colombo NGO “civil society” types whom he used to criticize years ago when he was a political outsider.

    My greatest disagreement in this regard is his statement that Sinhalese have had a greater capacity for self-analysis. As a Sinhala who has interacted with Tamils both in the northeast and abroad, I am convinced that Sinhalese and “Sri Lankan” (N-E) Tamils have a highly similar capacity for self-delusion and sense of entitlement (which the upcountry Tamils and to a lesser extent the Muslims do NOT have). If things were reversed and it was the Sinhalese who were the minority, I am 100% that the Tamil majority would have made the same mistakes and the Sinhala minority would have reacted in the same way (with a different outcome though, as there is no sympathetic Sinhala community in neighboring India).

    I agree with Dayan that UTHR-J’s analysis (though not their testimony) was not only second-rate but even contradicted itself. As one of UTHR’s “Sinhala fellow travelers,” I am disappointed that UTHR bent its analysis to support its ideals (nonviolence, federalism) which as admirable as they may be would not have solved the problem of the LTTE. In the process it could have turned off many potentially future Sinhala fellow travelers who otherwise would be drawn to UTHR’s painstakingly-gathered facts (which have been far far more credible than the idiotic “we didn’t kill a single civilian” garbage spewed by the government).

    Dayan truly is flapping in ignorance when he bleats, “Where are the explorations of Tamil culture and the collective Tamil psyche?” Clearly he did not read the “Historical Background” volume of Broken Palmyra, one of the most incisive and out-of-the box analyses of post-independence SL history I have ever come across, which has a chapter entitled “Some Milestones in the Development of Tamil Political Consciousness.” Here is a quote from the preceding section “The Tamils”:

    “From the 1940s the Tamil leadership had, as we have seen, largely shown a preference for doing what appears clever in the interests of preserving material gains rather than what is principled…Where the Tamil leadership went wrong is that, having failed to obtain the unreasonable 50-50 representation, they agreed to independence under a highly centralized constitution with its brand of communal politics…the failure of the Tamils to adopt a form of national level politics enabled Sinhalese racists to build up stereotype images of Tamils and exploit them to foment racial hatred.”

    I would ask Dayan where is the “false superiority” or “over-lordship” in these kinds of statements??? Maybe he thinks Noam Chomsky is a crazed Zionist supremacist?

    Forget Broken Palmyra, look at what Dayan had missed in his selective reading of Special Report No. 34:

    “In reality, for more than a decade most Tamils on the ground had been thoroughly disillusioned with the LTTE’s politics. Its commencement of forcible conscription of children in the East in 2001, and the resulting agony of families (sadly covered up by Tamil publicists and intellectuals in Colombo and abroad) was a glaring sign of terminal cancer that many Tamil elites just did not want to see.
    “The Tamil elite became deeply divided. Through the agency of a few key expatriate intellectuals, the LTTE had captured most of the public space among the Tamil expatriate community by the early 1990s and its propaganda went largely unchallenged. It infiltrated their churches, temples and social organisations, Tamil societies and Tamil schools; it made it respectable to collect funds for military purposes in the name of charity for the victims of state aggression. It was horrifying to see well educated professionals behaving like some fanatical religious group, impervious to reason and humanity.
    “The expatriates’ role in making life hell for the Vanni folk was more subtle. They had swallowed the LTTE’s rhetoric that it would somehow carve out a separate state, and for various reasons blindly invested in the project. The LTTE had itself become a lopsided organisation, which had only a tenuous political base among the people and had come to rely heavily on its overseas mafia-like operations. Changing course would have meant pricking the balloon of its Eelam project and letting go its only source of material support. ”

    It would be nice for Dayan to address these glaring oversights, as opposed to hiding behind his Ph.D and Ambassadorship.

  • Heshan

    UTHR is probably the most neutral, objective source out there, as far as the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is concerned. In addition, its reports are based on eyewitness accounts, as opposed to “leaks” or second hand hearsay. As far as depth and scope are concerned, again, UTHR is unparalleled. I have followed UTHR since my childhood days and cannot vouch enough for it. I only wish they would put out more, but then, they spend a lot of time putting out what they do put out.

  • Heshan

    “If things were reversed and it was the Sinhalese who were the minority, I am 100% that the Tamil majority would have made the same mistakes and the Sinhala minority would have reacted in the same way (with a different outcome though, as there is no sympathetic Sinhala community in neighboring India).”

    I disagree with that statement. In particular, I would ask you to look at the manner in which Tamils have gone about executing their “Eelam struggle”, and the manner in which the Sinhalese have defended the supposed “territorial integrity” of Sri Lanka. Until Mahinda Rajapakse came along and left everything to sheer brutality, the Sinhalese approach was extremely lacksadasical. How many politicians after JR were more concerned with staying in power than actually finding a resolution to the conflict (either militarily or diplomatically). Which group of Sinhalese actually contributed *physically* to the war effort, other than the ones from the village? For the rest, it was mere verbal diarrhea. While it was agreed that the island should never be divided, I don’t think there was a consensus in the majority community as to how this should occur. The actual threat posed by the LTTE was vastly over-exaggerated by the media and the like… in the process, the notion of unity became hopelessly intertwined with the legend of the terrorist. Instead of carefully deconstructing “unity”, “terrorism”, etc. the Sinhalese approach was to make the two inseparable. Now what has happened is that the territorial “unity” is there, but the nation is divided, not just across SL, but all over the globe. The war victory has not induced even 100 Sinhalese expatriates to come back and live on the island. What does that say about unity (within this community)?

    On the other hand, I would say that the “Eelam” struggle was executed with more precise planning and care. Certainly, the figurehead of Prabhakaran as the singular point-man helped this along splendidly. Also, for the Tamils, it was essentially do-or-die. Either fight or be subjugated. Artillery shells, grenades, and air raids were raging across Tamil land, not Sinhalese. In general, the Tamils had a much greater reason to be active participants, as opposed to the passive spectators that their brethren in the South became. Much of the “Eelam” struggle relied on innovation and improvisation. Much of this was a necessity. Finally, the “Eelam” struggle had a global flavor. While many Tamils were experiencing the total freedom of the West, they were well aware of the discrimination going on in their homeland. No doubt, there was a natural compulsion to do something, to participate in some way (after all, this was their kith and kin).

    So no, I don’t think role-reversal is possible here. Tamils were always the underdog; the day the war stopped, the Tamils of SL would forever be relegated to 2nd class status. Sinhalese never had anything to lose; for them, it was mere conquest. Whatever sacrifices they made, at the end of the day, they would never be totally displaced as Tamils have been and still are today.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Wijayapala,

    I have referred to a whole corpus of work, a continuing body of dissent and alternative scholarship, emanting from the South…and you can point to one chapter of a book which appeared over twenty years ago? C’mon!

    Dear Heshan,
    Terrain? Ok, how about Cyprus, an island without much cover, out of which Grivas’s guerrillas threw out the British colonial forces…! Terrain , my foot!

    Dear Amber ,
    A little learning is a dangerous thing. “Psyche” as a non- leftist explanation? Stalin’s classic definition of nationhood speaks of ” a common psychological make-up manifested in a community of culture”. Meaning each nation or nationality has a common psychological makeup that is distinct to it and is manifested in its culture. And as for ‘ political economy’, Stalin’s Marxism and Linguistics’ which is still taught in US univesrities, explicitly states that in matters such as language, political economy doesn’t count. These issues are ” superstructural”.

    Dear Jansee,

    You may well be right. Given that in the past half century, its not the Sinhalese who repeatedly wound up in refugee camps, and whose numbers on the island have dropped drastically in absolute and relative terms, I’d do a bit of a re-think and projection of the consequences of being determined to “not leave the Sinhalese in peace”…or even appearing to threaten to do so.

    Dear Anapayan,

    Didn’t the 1950s and ’60s come BEFORE the Accord /IPKF of 1987? Why did the tamil nationalists reject the 13th amendment, and CBK’s 1995, 97 and 2000 draft?

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Agnos,

    “War criminal”? A UK search committee interviewed me for the Secy Genship of Amnesty International …not a post I had applied for, but had been recommended for by a highly distinguished . So, get your head, sorry, definitions, examined…

    Dear Anapayan and Agnos,

    If I am racist, what does that say of the majority of states of the UN, which appointed me Chairperson of the Inter-Governmental Working Group on the Effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, i.e. the UN’s flagship anti-racism programme launched under Nelson mandela’s chairing?

    And in the Sri lankan context, if I am racist what does that make Dougl;as Devamada, Siddharthan, sugu ( Sritharan) and Tamil intellectuals in India such as N Ram, Malini Parthasarthy and the Hindu editorialist, whose critique of Tamil nationlism, and proposals and programme on the Tamil question are the same as the views I hold?

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Sorry I didn’t complete that sentence …” a highly distinguished non Third World human rights scholar”

  • aadhavan

    Was Dayan;s interview with Amnesty anything like SF’s interview with ICE?

  • Observer

    “The actual threat posed by the LTTE was vastly over-exaggerated by the media and the like… in the process”

    haha spoken like a true eelamist! so what after so many terrorist attacks against civilians, a counter offensive was unjustified? care to explain why the FBI reckons LTTE is the most ruthless terror outfit? care to explain why they were banned in so many countries including your own host country?

    but you will vehemently defend your host nation invading 2 countries and ruining them (repercussions of which will haunt generations in those countries) over one terror attack – the infamous 9/11? ya, only nato nations are allowed to defend against terror! get outa here.. ur agenda is soo transparent.

  • Intellectual

    Dear Dayan Jayatillake

    As an intellectual, can you support a government that burned the Jaffna Public Library down?

    90,000 thanks in advance

  • Observer

    “I would say that the “Eelam” struggle was executed with more precise planning and care.”
    btw, towards the end, the eelam struggle had morphed into something entirely different from what it started as. it started as a protest. ended as a business. why do most tamils purposely live in denial about this fact? towards the end it was the global henchmen that made good money at the expense of their brethren dying in vain. indeed a supreme effort!

    “Tamils of SL would forever be relegated to 2nd class status”
    BS, some of my good friends that i dine with at lavish restaurants are indeed well to do tamils. i’d actually invite you to join us if u lived here. i’m quite sure they’d have a different opinion.
    like i always say discrimination in sri lanka is always to do with your status – aka wealth and power!

    Heshan, you keep banging on about this distorted reality that you your self has constructed in your head. fact is people who live here can’t buy it. because we actually see what’s going on! it’s only good for the international audience to push your agenda.

  • Jansee

    Dayan says:

    “If I am racist, what does that say of the majority of states of the UN, which appointed me Chairperson of the Inter-Governmental Working Group on the Effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, i.e. the UN’s flagship anti-racism programme launched under Nelson mandela’s chairing?”

    Feathers of a bird flock together. Many don’t care or even bother who holds what positions. They just pat on their own backs to cover-up their own misdeeds. When Navi Pillay insisted on an investigation into the possible war crimes in SL, all these stooges held their arms together. That is the sad state of affairs, not the high pedestal you seem to claim. If you can sleep with the conscience that battered and bruised common folks were bombed and shredded to pieces by both parties, then fine.

    “You may well be right. Given that in the past half century, its not the Sinhalese who repeatedly wound up in refugee camps, and whose numbers on the island have dropped drastically in absolute and relative terms, I’d do a bit of a re-think and projection of the consequences of being determined to “not leave the Sinhalese in peace”…or even appearing to threaten to do so.”

    This is what I wrote:

    “Dayan, the SL regime can continue to deny the Tamils what they have been asking for for another century, as much as the Tamils are not going to live in peace, so would the Sinhalese.”

    It is clear that when there is animosity among the races, induced or otherwise, then both the races are going to suffer as one would try to drag the other down. Well, what is happening in SL? What happened in SL even before Prabhakaran entered the scene? This is what I meant. If you have not realised it, and if you believe that war has pacified the Tamils then you are sorely wrong. Try throwing the 13thA to them, as you are so keenly bent on forcing down the throats of the Tamils in a disguised argument that this is as far as the Sinhalese will go (which they have not anyway), and it is not the likes of Ram, Malini or Parthasarathy who will decide the fate or destiny of Tamils as Tamils sadly found out when the civilians were butchered during the war. Their contempt for Prabhakaran and the LTTE is understandable but their unstated view, as is yours, that innocent civilians are collateral damage, especially in such large numbers, then the Tamils contempt for such figures is understandable, too.

    Beneath me, it was my fervent hope that immediately after the war there would be reprieve and peace for the hapless people, who got battered from both sides. However, the MR regime was mean and cruel in the way the idps were caged and pointed guns at them. What was then the difference between the LTTE and the rogue MR regime? These are the citizens of this country. From the UN to EU and many other countries and leaders pleaded with the regime to free them. Enough of the suffering they went through but the MR regime did not move even an inch. The reprieve came through in a very unexpected way, though not a pleasant one. The moment Sarath Fonseka started his moves in challenging MR, suddenly the mines in the North vanished and everyone can go home. Today both are rushing to Jaffna to fish for votes. The TNA is now being scouted by MR enthusiastically. See how it all changed all of a sudden. It is not Ram, Malini or Parthasarathy who will decide the fate of Tamils. May be you should read in-between the lines.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Dayan,

    Thank you for responding without hiding behind your Ph.D and Ambassadorship. I retract my earlier statement.

    I have referred to a whole corpus of work, a continuing body of dissent and alternative scholarship, emanting from the South…and you can point to one chapter of a book which appeared over twenty years ago?

    Nope- you did not read the last part of my post (or for that matter anything else the UTHR had produced over the last 20 years):
    “Forget Broken Palmyra, look at what Dayan had missed in his selective reading of **Special Report No. 34**:

    In reality, for more than a decade most Tamils on the ground had been thoroughly disillusioned with the LTTE’s politics. Its commencement of forcible conscription of children in the East in 2001, and the resulting agony of families (sadly covered up by Tamil publicists and intellectuals in Colombo and abroad) was a glaring sign of terminal cancer that many Tamil elites just did not want to see.
    “The Tamil elite became deeply divided. Through the agency of a few key expatriate intellectuals, the LTTE had captured most of the public space among the Tamil expatriate community by the early 1990s and its propaganda went largely unchallenged. It infiltrated their churches, temples and social organisations, Tamil societies and Tamil schools; it made it respectable to collect funds for military purposes in the name of charity for the victims of state aggression. It was horrifying to see well educated professionals behaving like some fanatical religious group, impervious to reason and humanity.
    “The expatriates’ role in making life hell for the Vanni folk was more subtle. They had swallowed the LTTE’s rhetoric that it would somehow carve out a separate state, and for various reasons blindly invested in the project. The LTTE had itself become a lopsided organisation, which had only a tenuous political base among the people and had come to rely heavily on its overseas mafia-like operations. Changing course would have meant pricking the balloon of its Eelam project and letting go its only source of material support.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Intellectual,

    can you support a government that burned the Jaffna Public Library down?

    Mahinda Rajapakse did not burn Jaffna Library- the credit for that goes to JR Jayawardene. Yo got the two mixed up.

  • Vanangamanithan

    As I have previously posted several times, the sinhala ruling class now have the chance to show us poor defeated tamils what they are willing to give, and then prove their bona fides by implementing it honestly. Will they? . The track record so far in the eastern province is not helping to build our confidence. So Jayathileke continues to flog the tamils, while absolving his masters of all blame There is nothing to stop the sinhalese unilaterally imposing a solutions, even while negotiations are taking place. If it is seen to be just, the tamils will come to support it,. Our bitter experince of the last 60 years is they will not. The various skeletons falling out of the closets will ensure whoever gains power in the next elections will go on a witch hunt ( thankfully it will be the sinhalese who will suffer this time). Good governance will be as usual relegated to the back of the list. Sri Lanka will slip further in the list of countries with good governenace. The LTTE is history, and arguing about their merits or blame is not going to get either community any where. Why does Dr J not use his considerable eloquence to persuade the sinhala side to come up with and implement their solutions? 13,13 minus,13 plus, unitary state, federal state, confedaration, union of states, etc are just names. at the end of the day what the common man ( tamil or sinhalese) wants is to have a square meal and the means to put it on the table, and the freedom to do that without being discriminated . Is that too much to ask?. In sri lanka it seems to be easier to spend billions and ignore this fundamental question.

  • Amber

    DJ,
    No doubt, Stalin of totalitarian state fame, had no difficulty speaking of a national psyche in monolithic terms. But in a contemporary pluralistic democratic state and a post-modern globalizing context to boot, any claims for a homogenuous national psyche would involve an imagined construct that deliberately cuts out social realities in its reckoning. This so-called SL Tamil psyche you talk about is merely a fiction you have constructed to support your political agenda. It would not take too much work to expose the ideological nature of your last two articles, the contradictions and splits in your discourse, the intensity of effort you make at repressing alternative perspectives of the situation. The need to resort to verbally abusing a people is itself a symptom of the lack of tenability of your argument.

    You must be seriously kidding to claim that language and culture are not a part of political economy. Are economic and political practices not mediated by language? Perhaps Stalin’s Marxism and Linguistics is studied in US universities, but so too are the Frankfurt School theorists, Althusser, Macherey, Deleuze and Guattari, Jameson and Zizek, to name just a few of other alternative takes on the issue or relations between base and superstructure.

    The limits of my learning? Doesn’t everyone’s learning have limits in terms of our inbility to read everything that has ever been written? What is that–a rhetorical strategy you often turn to when stumped on how to defend your position?

    It would seem from your articles and your responses that you think there are no limites to your learning, that you have arrived at the apex of intellectual development and have nothing further to know. As an academic myself, I hope someone will take me out and shoot me if I ever arrive at that stage.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Jansee, the states which supported SL, which you dismiss include models of pluralism and ethics such as India, Brazil, Uruguay and South Africa. Go figure.

    Amber, speaking as one whose work is treated in the International Journal of Zizek studies, and in the latest December edition of the Journal of Latin American studies ( cambridge Univ Press), anytime you want to debate any of those theorists with me on TV, let’s do it. Just go find a station, huh?

    As for the rest of you folk, if you want to understand how your weird, ‘standing on your head’ take differs from a rational independent critic, just read world affairs commentator Gwynne Dyer, whose negative comments on MR I totally agree with. I quote from his ‘Sri Lanka’s Future’, which was syndicated worldwide on Dec 24:

    “All the well-meaning foreign pleas last May for a cease-fire to protect the Tamil civilians trapped with the Tigers were quite rightly ignored by the Sri Lankan forces. The Tigers always made sure that they had lots of innocent civilians around when they fought. The civilians absorbed a lot of the enemy fire, their deaths served to radicalise other Tamils–and cease-fires to protect civilians had frequently allowed the Tiger fighters to escape in the past.
    Nor was Colombo wrong to round up all 300,000 Tamil civilians who were caught up in the Tigers’ last stand. Any surviving fighters were bound to try to hide themselves among the civilians, so a protracted sorting-out process was needed. But the Sri Lankan government promised that everybody except suspected fighters would be released within six months–and it has kept its word, more or less.
    The camps have been emptying out fast over the past couple of months, and Colombo promises that everybody will have gone home by the end of January. There are justifiable complaints that not enough is being done to help former detainees resettle, but there have been much uglier ends to long and brutal wars like this one. ”

    And more, this time on the elections:

    “The trouble is that it took an ultranationalist Sinhalese regime to create the army that defeated the Tigers, and it is still in power. It does not want to welcome the Tamils back into equal citizenship, nor does it feel that it needs to. The Rajapaksa government has called an early election for January 26 to exploit its victory and consolidate its hold on power–and if it should happen lose the election, then things may just get worse.
    The Rajapaksas’ challenger is none other than General Sarath Fonseka, who commanded the army that finally defeated the Tigers. The main opposition group in the Sinhala community, the United National Party, has banded together with nine smaller parties and put Fonseka up as their presidential candidate.
    Fonseka could actually win, for his role in the defeat of the Tigers was just as large as that of the Rajapaksas. But he is also just as uncompromising a Sinhalese nationalist: as the war was nearing a conclusion, he was heard to say that Sri Lanka “belongs to the Sinhalese…(Minorities) can live in this country with us, but they must not try to demand undue things.” Like equality, perhaps?
    That is the attitude that drove the Tamils into insurrection in the first place. The next time it wouldn’t take the same form, but it could guarantee another generation of misery, insecurity (and perhaps also tyranny) for the long-suffering people of Sri Lanka.”

    Gwynne Dyer’s latest book, “Climate Wars”, was published recently in Canada by Random House and Vintage.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    An “Intellectual” who thinks that MR was President in the 1981, when the Jaffna public library was burnt? Man where do you guys come from? And how do you give youselves these exalted pseudonyms?

    By the way , I was indicted underv the PTA and the Emergency on 14 counts, for going up against the government that was responsible for that. Where were you , intellectual, and most of you?

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Aadhavan, why don’t you ask the AI?

  • Dhiraj

    Excellent write up by DJ as usual. I think the responses by Tamil writers goes to prove Dayan’s argument. The Tamil community at large find it very easy to blame everyone else under the sun for their failings.

  • Burning_Issue

    DJ,
    I do strongly believe that, we need people like you to stand up and educate the Sinhala public about the predicament of the minorities let alone the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Last think one would expect from a man like you to utter take it or leave it slogan! The Tamil polity is in disarray and it is incapable of collective rational thinking. The Tamils had no choice with VP; he destroyed the Tamil moderate polity by killing them and there was no way that any Tamil could have stood in his way without being killed. The same scenario exists with the MR regime; if one opposes it’s methods, a white van treatment is given; are you afraid of this?

    ““The trouble is that it took an ultranationalist Sinhalese regime to create the army that defeated the Tigers, and it is still in power.”

    What is the difference between the JR regime that oversaw the burning of Jaffna Library and the current MR regime in terms of Tamils? You were indicted under PTA over your stance on burning of Jaffna Library; it is all well and good; what has changed now?

    You said:
    “A UK search committee interviewed me for the Secy Genship of Amnesty International …not a post I had applied for, but had been recommended for by a highly distinguished . So, get your head, sorry, definitions, examined…”

    If you believe that you have the credentials to represent an organisation like AI, where would you stand, if the MR regime were to be found guilty of alleged Summary Executions?

  • jansee

    Dayan:

    The world stood still when Hitler gassed and murdered almost 5 million Jews. The world looked the other way when Pinochet murdered thousands of citizens. When Suharto butchered the East Timorese, he was, in fact, patted on the back by the US. Saddam was considered prime material by the US, only as long as it needed him. Sudan is another classic example where China had, for a very long time, prevented any resolution to the conflict there. What about Myanmar which has been castigated by so many but China is always there for them. You don’t have to be a political scientist to figure out why these countries support each other. Basically, it is to cover their own tracks. The talk is that even Ban does not want to be “harsh” with the Burmese for fear of antoganising the Chinese in not supporting his second-term. There is nothing to figure out here. It is just a matter of self-interest preceding anything else. The placard of displaying the humanitarian agenda is just laughable.

    I can go on and on. Quite frankly, save India, which obviously had its own agenda, most of these countries probably only know what you told them, albeit in a twisted manner and, why not they support as one day there will be a favour to return. Look at the UNHRC and the stinking comment of its inability to address genuine and serious issues had somewhat blotted its credibility.

    Dayan, have you read this piece written by Gwynne also – extracts are reproduced:

    “Like the United States under President Bush, Sri Lanka has ceased
    to respect the law in its fight against “terrorism”.

    “Within a week or two, that will be gone too, and what remains of
    the Tamil Tigers will no longer control a pseudo-state. Good riddance, for
    they were brutal extremists who killed their own Tamil people, in order to
    enforce unquestioning obedience, just as readily as their suicide bombers
    killed the majority Sinhalese population. But that doesn’t mean that Sri
    Lanka can just go back to the kind of country it was before the fighting
    began in 1983. The Tamils had a reason to revolt.”

    ” Sinhalese nationalism is as intolerant as ever, and now it is
    triumphalist to boot. Moreover, the rapid growth of a “national security
    state” under President Rajapakse has undermined democracy and largely
    silenced criticism of government policies. The forecast, therefore, is for
    a reversion to guerilla war in the north, and continuing campaigns of
    murder by both the government and Tamil extremists in the rest of the
    country.”

  • jansee

    Dayan:

    The article Gwynne wrote on May 28, 2009 entitled “Tamil Aftermath” is also a good read.

  • wijayapala

    Hi Dayan,

    if you want to understand how your weird, ‘standing on your head’ take differs from a rational independent critic, just read world affairs commentator Gwynne Dyer,

    Nowhere did Dyer ask, “Where are the explorations of Tamil culture and the collective Tamil psyche.” It seems that he’s better-read than you are!

  • Agnos

    DJ,
    >>Dear Agnos, >>

    I don’t like to be ‘dear’ to war criminals.

    “..A UK search committee interviewed me for the Secy Genship of Amnesty International …not a post I had applied for, but had been recommended for by a highly distinguished…”

    Distinguished for what? Maybe for the quantity of “useless” publications, for the quantity of incestuous awards by dimwitted fellow academics, for ill-gotten wealth, for being a spinmeister or for his ass-kissing and sycophancy. But certainly not for truth-telling, command of facts, indepedence and honesty. The dimwits at the UNHRC also chose you to chair some of their committees, didn’t they? And If they had selected you to be the AI Secy Gen, it would have been better because it is easier for me to hunt down war criminals hiding in London than in Sri Lanka.

    >>If I am racist, what does that say of the majority of states of the UN, which appointed me Chairperson of the Inter-Governmental Working Group on the Effective implementation of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, i.e. the UN’s flagship anti-racism programme launched under Nelson mandela’s chairing?>>

    I have covered this above.

    >>And in the Sri lankan context, if I am racist what does that make Dougl;as Devamada, Siddharthan, sugu ( Sritharan) and Tamil intellectuals in India such as N Ram, Malini Parthasarthy and the Hindu editorialist, whose critique of Tamil nationlism, and proposals and programme on the Tamil question are the same as the views I hold?>>

    I don’t know the exact details of Sritharan’s quisling role–he was largely invisible– but I know plenty about the dirty, blood-stained hands of Devananda and Siddharthan. The latter is possibly implicated in the murder of your erstwhile friend Taraki Sivaram. They sold out their souls a long time ago, while still carrying the word Tamil or “Eelam,” in their party names. What is more, some of them were defended by the same UTHR that you now accuse of being racist. How funny that the UTHR has suddenly become ‘;western’ and ‘racist’ when their views don’t fit in with your support for the murderous regime. That you can find only these three quislings to be in tune with your views, when not even their former supporters at UTHR don’t support your views, reveals a great deal about your racism.

    Ram and Parthasarathy as ‘intellectuals’, my foot. They are business (news business, advertisement business or whatever) people who want to maintain good relations with Delhi and Colombo. Do you think we don’t know the crisis that their family had in handling the Bofors scandal?. Do you think we don’t know the awards Sri Lanka gave Ram or his friendship with Rajapaksa? Do you think we don’t know how The Hindu, with its obsessive hatred of the LTTE, helped suppress from the Tamil Nadu public much of the info on atrocities against Tamil civilians? Do you think we don’t know how The Hindu, which regularly commented on SL affairs in support of the SL regime, was silent when Fonseka uttered his by-now-infamous comments about Sri Lanka belonging to Sinhalese and minorities couldn’t ask undue things, but editorialized about it to support Rajapaksa immediately after Fonseka announced his candidacy? That The Hindu house utterly lacks integrity has been to known to SL Tamils of all political hues for a few decades, starting with how Ram inserted himself into the Indo-Lanka accord.. As such, your running to them to justify your unjustifiable stands, far from showing your lack of racism, confirms your utter lack of integrity.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Agnos,

    N Ram EXPOSED the Bofors scandal and won an international award, you illiterate clown.

    How could you hunt down war criminals in London when you daren’t even use your own name? And by the way, why didn’t you try it in Geneva? Maybe you don’t want to wind up the next KP, huh?

    Try asking Perret Laver the respected Brit search firm, why I was interviewed for the Secy Gen ship of AI and who ( plural, by the way) nominated me…The “distinguished” nominator was ‘distinguished’ by being an emeritius prof of human rights law in one of the western world’s top ten universities .

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    Jansee,

    I agree totally with your extracts of Gwynne. Doesn’t your memory tell you that i wrote the same thing on GV and in the print media before , during after that period? I mean, that’s one of the reasons I am back here, right?

  • Agnos

    “N Ram EXPOSED the Bofors scandal and won an international award….”

    Of course he did. Did I say he didn’t? Kasturi and Sons Ltd is a business and Ram and Parthasarathy are among its directors. Ram’s falling out with his extended Kasturi (and Parthasarathy) family over his decision to expose the Bofors scandal at that time showed the fact that that The Hindu house was worried about losing ad revenue from the Rajiv Gandhi government and might as well have suppressed the truth. Although in that instance Ram went ahead and published the truth, the family clash EXPOSED the fact that in many other instances, they could well have made the decision to suppress the truth in the interests of their business. I am not surprised that it is hard to understand for a semi-literate Sri Lankan propagandist.

    I have my reasons for maintaining my anonymity. Why would I expose myself to racist criminals from your country? When I say ‘hunt down’ I mean it in the sense of what Simon Wiesenthal did. Of course he had more resources and state patronage. But Tamils overseas do have some support, and they will follow the law in their countries; it is just that there are aggressive and unorthodox ways of doing so, with some support from any friendly state. When war criminals hide under cover of diplomatic immunity, however, such methods won’t work.

  • Sohan Bones

    Ouch. I couldn’t finish understanding the article until now :-) Maybe I’m a slow reader.

    Hmmm; maybe we should rephrase or restate Dayan’s opinion, and so perhaps more correctly say that there are a bunch of idiots (some of who are powerful, unfortunately) in various areas of leadership in several racial groups and in several religious groups; idiots who are guilty of the kinds of things which Dayan points out about the “Tamil nationalist politics”.

    and we should also clarify that it is only SOME who are such idiots. So e.g., not all Tamils nor even Tamil “leaders” are guilty of all these lapses, but rather only a few like Prabhakaran and his immediate followers. (Let’s not talk about Karuna, past present nor future — he’s probably not guilty of any of this, never was, could that be why he is where he is today…). Even among Tamil NATIONALIST chaps, my rather vague and definitely uneducated and unintellectual impression is that there have been those Tamil leaders who held NATIONALIST views 1)only non violently and 2)only when given no other solutions by the highly humble and sweetly self-critical remainder of the country.

    Also drawing attention to a couple of phrases from Dayan’s article:
    “critical self scrutiny”
    “sheer unwillingness to take responsibility”

    Hmmm, I guess Dayan thinks the Sinhala NATIONALIST politics are and have been engaging in critical self scrutiny” and “sheer willingness to take responsibility”??? Is that why our main presidential candidates are pointing fingers at each other: Sinhala self criticism of the highest order, eh?

    And most certainly every other Sinhala leader is taking responsibility for our race’s past sins and humbly engaging in self examination? Introspection and meditation for this purpose being taught at the Buddhist temples and by our judicially qualified Buddhist elite Chiefs?

    As for, quote:
    “intelligentsia went into a mode of self searching… Leslie Gunawardene… Leel Gunasekara’s short stories…

    Mervyn de Silva kept critiquing and satirizing “the Sinhala psyche” and the “Mahavamsa mindset”….
    ,
    unquote,

    (back then I was a tiny baby, almost as uneducated as I am now, so these are only vaguely familiar names to me. But at least I know a lot about Mervyn de Silva’s self criticism and so on; oh wait, you’re NOT talking about Mervyn Silva. no?)

    But seriously: OK, so there were these few Sinhalese chaps who did all this good stuff donkey’s years ago – I mean in the Donkeys’ years… Well is Dayan gonna follow in their footsteps (not the donkeys, but Leslie and Leel and Mervyn et al) and write some Sinhala self criticism and teach our country to soul search and search its events — including military events — of the past many years, and sort out the good and the bad? Is that why Dayan gave so much support to the international community (I must have missed those headlines, I must have been too busy in soul searching I guess, good old Sinhalese that I am) when the UNHCR and others wanted such investigations? ‘Cos Dayan knows that all the non-Tamils in the country, nationalist and non nationalist alike, are all too willing to soul search and self criticize and admit the wrong that we have done in the past 40 to 50 years against minorities (and nowadays, even against the majorities!)??? That’s why the 17 aid workers massacre investigation went so well, and the Lasantha W. investigation, and countless other matters?

    Speaking of Lasantha and Leaders, hey it’s almost an year since Mr. President said he is gonna release some info about that, right?! (I guess Lasantha had searched the wrong people’s souls?) Mid February 2009 it was due, no? I guess Dayan knows that the Rajapakse brothers also are good at soul searching and critical self scrutiny and willingness to take responsibility — I wonder, did Dayan chat with them, before they kicked him away, and heard them weep and cry at any wrongs that, err, some Sinhalese have done? And of course the rest of the country — the general populace — are avidly following the brothers in this glorious quest of soul searching and humble self criticism and so on?

    Yes yes I know, DJ has cited Dyer about the ultranationalist Sinhala government and so on and so forth — OK, but so what: is DJ admitting unambiguously that SL has indeed committed crimes or whatever, and if so how come DJ took a different stance at the infamous UNHCR? C’mon; what are you saying: it was indeed ultranationalist Sinhalese but it did soul searching and therefore didn’t commit any crimes? And is DJ implying that, except for MR’s regime, the rest of the Sinhalese and other non-Tamils are good at soul searching etc.?

    Digressing, speaking of “Leslie Gunawardene in the Daily News“… I guess Leslie must be so happy to see that that’s why the Daily News today is today so self critical and soul searching about everything else it and the government does?

    Anyway, quite seriously, about what Dayan seems to be saying… I think he’s right that SOME nationalist Tamil chaps have been lacking some of these qualities and characteristics… yes, SOME have. No surprise: after all, they are Sri Lankans too, and I think such a lack is common among many Sri Lankans, across many races and many religions, including my own; I just don’t know why Dayan is singling out Tamils — talk about self criticism and soul searching.

  • Observer

    “An Allergy To Self-Criticism In Dominant Tamil Discourse”

    DJ your genius is in the comments!
    The comments to this article made the title so clear than the article it self.
    Sweetness!