Democratic Debates in 2011

I am not aware of another county in the UN’s 200 odd membership that debates on its national anthem some 62 years after independence from colonial rule. Since we all agree that Sri Lanka is a unique state in many ways this is not a surprising development. What creates an abysmal level of inquisitive disappointment is that the decisions the country’s top executive body makes on this issue and the rationale put forward for such. This brief note is not on the latest saga around our national anthem but the subterranean political dynamic that governs such outcome.

The notion of Political Power Sharing in Sri Lanka, however symbolic or tokenism it appears is antithetical and a dynamic centrifugal force that clashes head-on with the centripetal ethnoreligious political structure of the state. This is so deep and wide especially in the postcolonial setting. Postcolonial democratization, may it be at civic centered transparent governance or a Federal form of power sharing with the minorities has met with repeated formidable often-violent oppositions. Almost at every juncture a new and renewed set of actors and the forces behind them have held fort,  pushed back the liberal potential of Sri Lanka’s multiethnic ( if not plurinational) socio-political development. Thus from a promising postcolonial state, we have arrived at where we are. I try to ask the reason for such development (or lack of it) and find that this historical struggle for liberal democracy had been always a mismatched diagnosis, recommendation and attempt of implementations either by accepted institutional mechanisms such as multiparty elections or radical non- state actor rebellions.  Looking at the counter forces and their repeated success there are few inalienable facts that govern the fundamental structure of the political psychology of Sri Lanka. Ignoring these given realities had produced repeated waves of resistance and destructive irreversible impacts.

  1. Sinhalese are a (approximately) mere 16 million in population compared to their competing minorities.  The Tamil are at least a 100 million across the globe and the Muslims are even larger in size and strength. Therefore, the Sinhalas are in every sense a regional and global minority in its true sense.
  2. Sri Lanka’s is one of the smallest states in the world. True she is twice bigger than Belgium or Switzerland. But the regional reality  is that she is only about three percent of a her immediate neighbour India and the Indian ocean is eroding this limited landmass relentlessly.
  3. The popularly accepted narrative of the history of Sri Lanka ( however ethnic biased or religiously flavored that may be)  is a written record of repeated invasions and attempts to conquer this land by almost always by non- Buddhist forces.
  4. The class/caste and regional struggle amongst the Sinhalas has prevented them to develop a cohesive identity within, They are unable to unite without having an oppositional reference to an enemy from out side. An ontologically securitized insecurity
  5. The post 1983 Tigerish separatist bloody war by the LTTE reinforced those Mahavamsica imaginations of a threat to the identity and integrity of this island as a unitary state that would be the abode of Theravada Buddhism.

Against these ground realities that naïve Norwegian attempt to bring a negotiated permanent political settlement , Colombo ( 3, 5 and 7) based ‘civic’ society cry for democracy and lamentably dysfunctional ‘left’ has not been able to make any noteworthy dent on the democracy debate. Instead, it is Wimal Weerawanse’s ‘foul-fish’ nationalism and Champika Ranawaka’s structural hegemonic racism that have become defining guidelines for the modern politics of this island. This political culture of course is, further flavored by the indigestible Mervin Silva politics that are either backed or protected by the top executive. This brings questions on not just political, but anthropological nature of the modern socio-politics of my motherland. The politics we have created in a Post-Prabha context led by a true Bhoomiputra of the south is yet top synchronize with the state as a whole and the multiple ethnic identities within.  If we are happy with this status, then we all can relax and look foreword to more political fun in the next year. In case you belong to the odd category of questing citizenship then the politically valid intellectual challenge in Sri Lanka at least in the coming year is to find a path we can navigate ourselves through these tsunamic tidal waves frustrating us. Whatever position one is willing to adopt there are few options available:

  1. Strengthen the hand and activities of the present regime by providing some (often pseudo) intellectual legitimization for (personal and) potential public benefit. It is simply because this is the regime that defeated the LTTE. Dr Dayan Jayatilleke leads this camp.
  2. Oppose the regime with all your available means to bring change (actually replace) with new faces and personalities. Sarath Fonseka and Mangala Samaraweera represent this school
  3. In between are the forces waiting without much directions or waiting for better opportunities to either oppose or support the regime, Rauf Hakim and Sampanthan led largely defused traditional  minority parties are in such category.
  4. All others, be they I/NGOs, popular artists, para- militaries groups are merely surviving for their own tomorrow.

Then, very urgently an honest intellectual and academic debate should formulate a common ground and context in which the subterranean forces will foster and emerge to direct the destiny of democracy in our island motherland of Sri Lanka.

How shall we then generate such debate individually and collectively? How shall we construct such context in the year/s ahead?

  • Davidson

    ”Federal form of power sharing with the minorities” ????

    1.Even the tiny grain of power given to provincial councils is taken back by the government-appointed ”governor”:
    http://www.thestar.com/news/world/dalailama/article/880196–amid-sri-lanka-s-boom-life-for-tamils-remains-bleak
    ”In 2008, the governor nixed a new law that would have introduced motor vehicle licensing fees, a venture that could have raised as much as 1 billion rupees ($100 million) a year for the province, said Dr. K. Vigneswaran, a former member of Sri Lanka’s parliament who is now an adviser to Pillayan. More recently, the governor killed an effort to pass a bill that would have allowed the provincial government to formally collect contributions from the Sri Lankan diaspora.”

    2. Emergency ’58, Tarzi Vittachi(1958):
    ”…..
    Lakshman Rajapakse, MP for Hambantota: ”Destroy them”
    Premier: Who said that? Are you seriously thinking that the Tamils must be destroyed?
    …..”

    3. http://www.srilankaguardian.org/2010/10/rajapak-istan-is-in-making.html
    Percy Mahendra Rajapakse’s son Namal Rajapakse forcefully grabbed the 400 odd handheld tractors to be distributed to the resettled people by the ICRC in the Vanni and Vavuniya area.

    Mmmmhhhh….

    CEYLON : A DIVIDED NATION, B H Farmer(1963):
    Since those saddening days of 1958 Ceylon has had its share of trouble…..The truth, though unpalatable may be to some, is simply that nobody unacceptable to the present Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism has any chance of constitutional power in contemporary Ceylon.

  • longus

    It’s quite humourous to have ‘figures’ like Sarath Fonseka
    and Samaraweera spearheading the campaign against the present Sri
    Lankan regime! The island mentality you talk about is not peculiar
    to Sri Lanka but many other countries as well.It is true that Sri
    Lanka was invaded many times by the South Indian Kings and you
    can’t find fault with the Sinhalese for thinking like that; as a
    minority in the regional demography.

  • yapa

    “How shall we then generate such debate individually and
    collectively? How shall we construct such context in the year/s
    ahead?” Throw all wrongs on Sinhalese.Insult history, religion,
    culture and try to pull their legs. Plot against them with
    colonials and imperialists. Tarnish them as the cruelest people of
    the world. Mould them as the most uncivilized people. Try to punish
    them at any cost. Try to break their morale by writing beautiful
    verses and narrations. Use all sorts of popular theories for their
    destruction.All in all try your best to see their end. That is the
    way to live happy and gay. Thanks!

  • Vino Gamage

    Yapa

    That’s the ”democratic” choice Sinhalese have been making from the time of independence!!
    Even a function in a village has to be opened by the Army Commander of the occupation army:
    Parliamentarian Vijayakala(as her parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents,…) hails from Karainagar and she couldn’t be there because she is NOT on the government side:

    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=33284
    Jaffna Sri Lanka Army (SLA), Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri ceremonially opened the new Education Department building in Kaarainagar Monday in the presence of EPDP member of parliament, Chandrakumar and other officials of the Education Department, sources in Jaffna said. The opening ceremony which was to be held earlier with Jaffna MP from the United National Party (UNP), Ms Vijayakala Maheswaran, as the Chief Guest, was abruptly cancelled earlier after the Jaffna Commander was informed that EPDP Minister in the ruling government, Douglas Devananda, was not invited to the earlier ceremony.

    Following the local news media coverage of the story related to earlier cancellation of the opening ceremony, Commander Chandrasri told local news media that the cancellation was due to on-going repair activities to the building and that the building will be opened once the repairs were complete.

    Tamil National Alliance (TNA) members of parliament, and the UNP MP were conspicuously absent during the opening ceremony.

    The building which was painted in green was changed to blue when the building was opened on Monday.

    Further, Colombo issued a directive to Government Departments that for events including opening ceremonies to new buildings only SLA Commanders and politicians of the ruling government should be invited.

  • eureka

    Academics in Social Sciences and National Institute of Education must take note of Yapa’s comments.
    Is there a textbook that tells the school children what has been happening in the last 62 years?
    We won’t see an end to this conflict as long as many citizens are i.ignorant of this section of our history and ii.making wrong choices.

    Yapa, please note:

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/08/outline_of_submission_made_to.html
    Jayantha Dhanapala’s written submission to Lessons Learnt Reconciliation Commission, 30 August 2010:
    ‘’Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality.’’ (Dhanapala was formerly UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament).

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/09/23/submissions-before-lessons-learnt-reconciliation-committee-llrc-by-chandra-jayaratne/
    Submission before Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Commission(LLRC) by Chandra Jayaratne, 23 September 2010:
    ‘’Inequitable allocation of national resources and consequential disparities in regional economic development, infrastructure development and public service delivery have sown the seeds of discontent and disillusionment leading to conflict, insurrections of the South and the North and even the armed struggle towards a separate administration.’’

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/10/17/an-allergy-to-analysis-and-historical-amnesia-in-sri-lanka/#comments
    Allergy to analysis and historical amnesia in Sri Lanka, Dayan Jayatilleka, 17 October 2010:
    ”… The Bandaranaike administration sowed the dragon’s teeth and it took Mahinda Rajapakse to slay the marauding dragon, with all the corollaries and consequences that entailed. … Dozens of Tamil youth were imprisoned under Emergency for years, for the crime of hoisting black flags against the promulgation of the ’72 Constitution. …” (Jayatilleka was former Sri Lankan Representative to the UN.)

    NOW, with aid agents being prevented from helping the Tamils and their villages and towns ravaged by war of 30yrs and neglect of 62 years, the government is prepared to spend millions on PR.

    What exactly did the President want to tell inside the Oxford Union building? He can tell it here at Temple Trees and that will go round the world instantaneously by modern technology.

    Really speaking people take actions seriously and not words, eg.
    he refuses to publish the reports by APRC and CoI and says he is going to appoint another committee.

    Why ? Oh why ??

    Till all the Tamils degenerate enough to beg for only some water and one meal a day???

    That’s already happening:

    http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=9787
    Challenge to good governance posed by budget, Jehan Perera, Chairman, National Peace Council, 25 October 2010:

    The government’s second budget after the end of the war has seen proposed appropriations that give the first place to the defence, and that by a very wide margin. By way of comparison, the defence appropriation of Rs. 215 billion dwarfs the resettlement appropriation of Rs 1.7 billion. It also dwarfs the second largest component of the budget which is Economic Development, which obtained Rs. 75 billion.
    This was the case in the last budget as well. On the last occasion it was Rs. 201 to defence versus Rs. 3 billion for resettlement with the amount allocated to Economic Development about the same. The budget appropriation bill demonstrates how the government’s priorities have got consolidated in favour of defence and a national security state. ….
    When people are taken back and put into the midst of land in which all buildings and infrastructure is destroyed, and the jungle has grown, it is not resettlement where the government can wash its hands, and say that it has done its duty, and now the people must fend for themselves. It is indeed tragic that the government is prepared to devote so much of resources to satisfy the needs of its defence budget and so little to satisfy its war displaced people….’’

  • Mary Tony

    Yapa: ”That is the way to live happy and gay.”

    Eh?

    The occupation army try to make the Tamils happy and gay:

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/10/young_religious_visit_their_ow.html#more
    Young religious visit their own suffering brothers and sisters in Northern Sri Lanka, Rev.Fr.Lasantha de Abrew, 25 October 2010:

    ”… The high military presence in these areas makes the resettled persons more tensed, uncomfortable and uneasy. The regular visits of the soldiers to their half built houses and temporary sheds, frequent arrests of the young males on various justified and unjustified charges, and inviting the children to the camps to watch films make them uneasy.
    ….Some teachers of the area noted, “They have lost interest in studies’’ … Easy availability of DVD shops, liquor, smoking even promoted by the soldiers could be the causes for such lack of interest.”

    • longus

      I would love to live in a place like you describe in your last paragraph! Not bad after all!

  • yapa

    Dear Vino Gamage;

    You say

    “Yapa

    That’s the ”democratic” choice Sinhalese have been making from the time of independence!!”

    Then all of us will have the results of our “democratic” choices,why bother to discuss? You have your own choices, we will have ours, if that is the attitude you all want to continue with.

    By trying to teach us lessons,using all sorts of foul tactics, don’t think you will gain anything. Shed your awful attitude at least now, thinking of your brothers and sisters living in Sri Lanka, let them live in peace.

    Thanks!

  • Vino Gamage

    Pointing out injustice is ”teaching lessons by foul tactics” ??

    What has been happening in the last eighteen months, leave alone the 61yrs before that, amply says ”don’t think you will gain anything”.

  • Mary Tony

    Some oppressors accuse the victims.

  • yapa

    Dear eureka;

    ’Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality.’’

    These factors are commonly affected to all communities,not just to Tamils in particular.So, what is your rationale for separating Sinhalese from others and holding them alone responsible for these blunders? Why are you trying to manipulate this commonly bad situation for your advantage?

    ‘’Inequitable allocation of national resources and consequential disparities in regional economic development, infrastructure development and public service delivery have sown the seeds of discontent and disillusionment leading to conflict, insurrections of the South and the North and even the armed struggle towards a separate administration.’’

    These disparities were advantageous to Tamils.In terms of land, coastal belt, sea area, government employments, educational opportunities in all primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, all were in favour of Tamils. Can anybody say “NO”, with some evidence?

    “Allergy to analysis and historical amnesia in Sri Lanka, Dayan Jayatilleka, 17 October 2010:
    ”… The Bandaranaike administration sowed the dragon’s teeth and it took Mahinda Rajapakse to slay the marauding dragon, with all the corollaries and consequences that entailed. … Dozens of Tamil youth were imprisoned under Emergency for years, for the crime of hoisting black flags against the promulgation of the ’72 Constitution. …” (Jayatilleka was former Sri Lankan Representative to the UN.)”

    Do you appreciate “Jayatilleka’s” Writings of today, just as your appreciation of the past? I think he must be a more matured person now, Isn’t it?

    “What exactly did the President want to tell inside the Oxford Union building? He can tell it here at Temple Trees and that will go round the world instantaneously by modern technology.”

    You could have listened to him if you really wanted to. Are you going to say you destroyed the its happening just because the way it was arranged was wrong? As a protest against the misappropriation of public money?

    “The government’s second budget after the end of the war has seen proposed appropriations that give the first place to the defence, and that by a very wide margin.”

    Do you think it is not reasonable, in a situation a mighty threat posed by you all, even in a public forum like this? He must have pre-seen that your ulterior motive had not been changed, though the evil armed gang was destroyed.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    Dear Mary Tony;

    ”… The high military presence in these areas makes the resettled persons more tensed, uncomfortable and uneasy. The regular visits of the soldiers to their half built houses and temporary sheds, frequent arrests of the young males on various justified and unjustified charges, and inviting the children to the camps to watch films make them uneasy.
    ….Some teachers of the area noted, “They have lost interest in studies’’ … Easy availability of DVD shops, liquor, smoking even promoted by the soldiers could be the causes for such lack of interest.”

    You all aggravate this situation. Until the government feels that Tamils are no more a threat to the National Security, the situation has to prevail. You also have a responsibly to ease the situation. If you throw “bombs” at security forces, they will remain their for some more time and the military presence will continue for the purpose of national security. That is unavoidable.

    Thanks!

  • yapa

    I think this article also will help.

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/author/praveenswami/

    Thanks!

    • Suren Raghavan

      To all those who have commented so far, and to Mr/s Yapa very especially,

      We all know the history, except for a pathologically paralyzed few, the commonly held view is that the 1956 language act and the subsequent opportunity politics governed by hegemonic Sinhala ethnic identity construct drove the moderate Tamil politics into the extremes ending in tigerish separatist terror.
      Equally all local and international commentators agree that after 2009 May, in a post Praba context, the Sinhala rulers of Sri Lanka could /should have acted toward wider democracy with a victor’s magnanimity. A fact Dr Dayan Jayatileke a harden supporter of the this government has argued for and for which he lost his appointment at the UNHRC.

      Mr. Yapa and his Telegraph writer Praveen Swami, who compared the US bombing, comfortably forget what and how the Allied Forces treated Germany after the war. UK and USA continued to help Germany to become a modern and one of the most powerful states in the EU. In the same manner, will the victorious Sinhalas help the North and East and its people to regain their lost self-respect and full democratic citizenship with cultural and economic independence? So that the ruling Sinhalas can proudly legitimize their historical claim as ‘the Majority’ and the true owners of the total island?

      If yes, how do they propose to achieve the same? If not why?
      That is the debate we should enter, a debate that is futuristic not rhetorically retrospective

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “Mr. Yapa and his Telegraph writer Praveen Swami, who compared the US bombing, comfortably forget what and how the Allied Forces treated Germany after the war.”

        And you, sir, are comfortably forgetting how the population of Germany behaved towards the western Allies after the war. They didn’t behave like spoiled children, picking out every fault and mistake of the Allies; they didn’t wave Nazi flags and accuse Roosevelt and Churchill of war crimes like the bombing of Dresden and Hamburg; they didn’t attempt to undermine the US and UK in revenge; they didn’t demand that the Allies dismantle their military bases and hand back the land, in spite of the fact that they were foreign occupiers. Instead, they swallowed their pride, accepted their defeat like adults, condemned the Nazis in one voice, weeded out the war criminals amongst them, and set about rebuilding their nation. In other words, they convinced the western Allies that they were no longer enemies. In return, the Allies gradually reduced military occupation (it still took four full years, btw, before West Germany became sovereign again, and it took Japan seven) and poured in money and investment.

        Year after year, people like DBS Jeyaraj tried to tell the Tamils that the Tiger gun could get them only so far, that other ways had to be found. Nobody listened. Every time the Tamils were at a crucial fork — the Indo-Lanka Accord, the P-TOMs offer — they made the wrong choice and let the Tigers lead them down into Gotterdammerung. Today, the SL Tamils stand at just such a crucial fork again, and yet again idiots bent by bitterness and intent on revenge will have you turn back into the darkness instead of up into the future. I hope the intelligent voices here in SL will be heard over the mob across the sea.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The Yapa,

    “By trying to teach us lessons,using all sorts of foul tactics, don’t think you will gain anything. Shed your awful attitude at least now, thinking of your brothers and sisters living in Sri Lanka, let them live in peace.”

    This is very true. Peoples like the Vinos and the Eureka’s are telling us what to be doing and what to be thinking. We must be standing up to them, just like you are saying in the above, telling them where to be going. One little problem though. There was this big, fat man who is also saying similar things only he is saying Ealam not Sri Lanka. And the fat man ending up with big hole in head and his people in camps like water hole.

    Sometimes when I am thinking of this I am getting scared and telling to Our Majesty, Oh the conqueror of the Universe esxcept Oxfrod, please be careful when you are opening your mouth and telling the rest of the world where to be going. Please be remembering the fat man with big hole in head. Our Majesty is only laughing and patting me on the backside and saying, machan Mervyn, not to be worrying,to be having hole in head one must first be having head. You show me my head and I will show you yours.

    That is the kind of hole we are in right now at the moment. But it is none of nobody else’s hole but our own so please leave us alone!

  • Vino Gamage

    International Law hasn’t evolved enough to deal with internal colonialism yet. Hence some Indians and some Sinhalese will definitely agree with each other.

  • Davidson

    The President has been telling the world he would solve the problems by what the APRC and CoI come up with. They have handed him the reports. Let’s see if the recommendations in the reports will solve our problems.
    The President must be ashamed to be sitting on the reports. Oxford Union Presidents work hard to get a CV to high posts. Every Tom, Dick and Harry is invited by them. But Oxford Sri lanka Society is made to work overtime by Sri lankan government to subsidise Bell Pottinger. Perhaps the President should be ashamed of employing Bell Pottinger because they are employed by Sudan and the like too.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The Blacker,

    How very true! I am agreeing fully and one hundred percent. Tamils are spoilt very much these days, always doing the winging and the crying, like little children not getting enough. But I am also thinking this is our own faulting. We are spoliing them too much. Spoiling them with the bomb, the bullet and a litle masscare here and a tiny bit of the torture there and the destruction everywhere. After all that who is not going to be spoilt? But I am also thinking if they are asking for more spoilation we can always be getting our highly grown up boys in the army to be going around giving some more of the same. After all our boys are now having nothing to be doing and no war to be fighting. A little more spoiling is not going to be hurting nobody.

    If you are not knowing we are already spoiling one idiot of a education director in the Jaffna side recently for not picking up he right fork. They must be now getting the message we are giving: please be choosing the fork we are giving or you will all be well and truly forked!

    • SD

      The Mervyn,

      Methinks the Blacker is agreeing with what you are saying. The Blacker is never denying that the Tamils were forked in the past, only that they will be well and truly forked (if that is even possible) if they continue with this rage against the machine. Perhaps the Blacker is suggesting that the Tamils ally themselves with the oppressed in all communities, rather than a generally misguided fury against the rest of the Sri Lankans who are poor, manipulated and enslaved themselves. Are you disagreeing the Mervyn or should I be tied to a coconut tree?

      • The Mervyn Silva

        The SD,

        Aday! Is this what the Balcker is saying?? Why cannot he be writing in the good English like I am doing? If that is what he is saying how can I be agreeing? You are probably not knowing there is nobody opressed in the Sri Lanka nomore, not after the last glorious and victroiuos war we are fighting. If there is anybody in the oppressed that is Our Majesty specially after Oxford trip and now after recent budget wars in the local councils. If the Tamils are wanting to be allying themselves with the opressed they should be allying themselves with Our Majesty like we are all doing. That is also called a-lying, to everybody but most of all to oneself.

        I will not be tying you to tree for misleading me. Cannot be finding proper tree with right fork.

        The Blacker, very often I am also laughing at myself, even though I am not really myself. I am also thinking it is far better to be making people laugh when you are wanting to rather than when you are not wanting to.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Thanks for the standup, Mervyn. I noticed some time ago that aside from laughing at others here you don’t really have much to add. That’s cool. Every court needs a clown, and you do a great job at making every discussion on the conflict a joke. I also think there’s nothing as funny as a war, unless of course you’ve lost. Keep it up. You’re the only commentator here that I never fail to read :D Thanks again.

      • Burning_Issue

        David Blacker,

        If you are incapable of reading between lines of Mervyn’s satirical writing, it is not Mervyn’s fault! I think that Mervyn has been doing a Sterling Job exposing ignorance.

    • SD

      Dear The Mervyn, You are attacking the straw-man
      mercilessly no? A-lying yourself with the Majesty might be a better
      option that trying to blow his coconut head to smithereens no? That
      latter choice has not yielded any tangible benefits so far no?
      Better to go for the former option and work with the rest of his
      majesty’s vassals no? Now that I’m putting it in good English like
      you, you are agreeing with me no? You are offended that the Majesty
      is not being mentioned no? Now that I’m mentioning his name in
      right way, you have no objections no? If not, let me be hearing
      reply to the point soon, so that I can be pro-actively tying myself
      to tree no?

  • yapa

    “We all know the history, except for a pathologically paralyzed few, the commonly held view is that the 1956 language act and the subsequent opportunity politics governed by hegemonic Sinhala ethnic identity construct drove the moderate Tamil politics into the extremes ending in tigerish separatist terror.”

    Please prove your statement. I think its the misguided Tamil opinion only.

    “Equally all local and international commentators agree that after 2009 May, in a post Praba context, the Sinhala rulers of Sri Lanka could /should have acted toward wider democracy with a victor’s magnanimity. A fact Dr Dayan Jayatileke a harden supporter of the this government has argued for and for which he lost his appointment at the UNHRC.”

    “Mr. Yapa and his Telegraph writer Praveen Swami, who compared the US bombing, comfortably forget what and how the Allied Forces treated Germany after the war. UK and USA continued to help Germany to become a modern and one of the most powerful states in the EU.”

    Germany must have been a very weak and old aged ruin before the Uk and the USA helped them after WW. On the other hand I don’t think devastated and ruined UK was in a position to help Germany. It had to get help from the USA under Marshal Plan to come up from the debris. Please be sure about your facts before posting in a public forum.

    What evidence do you have to say that the opinion of the such commentators are correct and the version of Sri Lanks is wrong? By the way you say “all” local and international commentators……., are you sure you are not exaggerating?

    “In the same manner, will the victorious Sinhalas help the North and East and its people to regain their lost self-respect and full democratic citizenship with cultural and economic independence?”

    You want Sinhalese to help build the Tamil Eelam after you all lost in your exercise, armed battle? You think we are that much foolish?

    “So that the ruling Sinhalas can proudly legitimize their historical claim as ‘the Majority’ and the true owners of the total island?”

    I think we can look after our own business, without the kind of advice of fox to fowls.

    “If yes, how do they propose to achieve the same? If not why?
    That is the debate we should enter, a debate that is futuristic not rhetorically retrospective”

    Please honestly try to create a situation conducive for a debate. All sort of cursing, insulting, cutting throats and treachery won’t make such a situation. Honesty is the best policy, I think.

    Thanks!

    Thanks!

  • Suren Raghavan

    Dear (Colonel?) Blacker,

    Thank you for your comments. I do not know you except through your comments here and as an active blogger on current affairs. What I have learnt is that you were in the active services of the SL Army, son of an evangelical Rev. of Eurasian background and a Tamil mother originally from Jaffna. I hope these are correct background information. Then, I am simply impressed. Because while your diversity, you appear to strive to engage in an indigenous debate. An example all should learn from

    I am not sure of the reasons why DBS – often changes his camp. His zigzag liberal Tamil nationalism has had its own militant to sober extremes. I am surprised you do not consider the UTHR (J) http://www.uthr.org/, as one body that stood for democratic values amongst the Tamil even while the Tiger as well as the SLA were hunting them. I suppose you consider them too critical of the South. There has been always a minority of the Tamil moderate voice opposing the Tigers and arguing for greater democracy from the Sinhala regimes. I had always been there. The Sinhala power politics ignored them. Instead, as records shows from JRJ to Mahinda preferred to work with the Tigers when it suited them best.

    You are eager to show the empty ½ glass about the German-Allied relationship. Should the Tamils (as you suggest) further and fully surrender all their democratic spirit and activisms, without a single question asked simply because the LTTE is defeated? I do not think even the worst in the Mahinda camp think that way. The democratic demands for the Tamils in Sri Lanka were a pre tiger political issue and they will remain in the post tiger context too.

    My essay (if you had the time to read) is to ask both the Sinhalas and the Tamils how we could cultivate a democratic debate in decomposing illiberal regime context. How we could guide ourselves through this passage of history avoiding the extremists of both sides?
    Why is that the president Rajapakse, his rule and the judiciary under him was so eager to change the constitution in light speed to make him term-less president? Why the regime and those who protect/promote are not eager to bring simple and marginal changes like the full implementation of the 13th amendment and, many other democratic trends already within the constitutional transformation? Simply why there is no mass mobilization for democracy for the Sinhala society- even if one dismiss all other minorities as mere trouble making political parasites.

    I am interested in that debate

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Dear Suren — I was never a colonel in the Army, and in fact, I wasn’t even an officer :D But as we in the rank and file like to say “I worked for a living”.

      I certainly consider the UTHR(J) to be all that you say it is, and I have often quoted their reports in my blog, particularly those that came out in 2009 and earlier this year on the concluding months of the war. I mentioned DBS Jeyaraj because I feel that what he’s been saying over the past year is directly relevant to both your post and the comment that I responded to.

      I did read your post, and do find the debate just as interesting as you do. However, I disagreed with your comment in the thread, and it was to this that I was responding. I am not suggesting that the Tamils surrender anything further or give up any of their spirit, democratic or otherwise. What I am suggesting, is that the NE Tamils concentrate on rebuilding themselves from the abject prostration that the end of the war found them in. To do this certain compromises and hard choices must be made, particularly since the Tamils find themselves in such a steeply disadvantageous situation today. Isn’t it better to discard the fluff in favour of the nutrition that will enable the Tamils to someday regain a position at least equal to that of the pre-war years? While that position is hardly ideal, it is at least a goal to strive for in comparison to the position they suffer in today. Pride must be swallowed in order to savour dignity; trappings must be discarded so that reality can be built on. This is more or less what DBSJ is saying too. In the early ’80s, JRJ said, “You can preach ahimsa after the war is over,”, and that is something worth remembering in today’s context — there will be time for Tamil pride and nationalism once your children are fed and educated, once your people are sheltered and secure, and earning a living. Not now. What use is a flag if you’re starving? What use is nationalism or pride if you have no dignity? These trappings are useful to the Tamils in the diaspora who are well fed, sheltered, their children in universities, warming their toes and sipping Scotch. They have time for these trappings. But will these impotent trappings give the Tamils back their dignity? The German people divested themselves of their trappings, held onto what was essential for regrowth, and moved onwards and upwards. That’s what I’m talking about.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Also, one reason that moderate voices within the GoSL are being drowned out by hardliners is that their stand is made so untenable when the hardliners can still point to those Tiger flags and protesters, the threat of UN investigations, etc as grounds for reinforcing undemocratic practices. There needs to be a cooling off period if the moderates are to have a voice. That is why in so many ways the diaspora actions are detrimental to the well-being of ordinary Sri Lankans as well as a prop for the hardliners in the GoSL. Do read Tisaranee Gunasekara’s piece on this on Transcurrents.

  • Heshan

    And you, sir, are comfortably forgetting how the population of Germany behaved towards the western Allies after the war.

    Very interesting that Mr.Blacker only mentions the “Western Allies.” The “Eastern” Allies, aka Soviet Union, raped 96,000 German women after invading Berlin. The funny thing is that this same Soviet Union – now Russia – was instrumental in helping SL block a UN resolution into investigation of SL war crimes. As the saying goes, “birds of a common feather flock together.” :) By the way, when it came to the Soviet occupiers, the Germans didn’t behave like spoiled children, picking out every fault and mistake of the Soviets; they didn’t wave Nazi flags and accuse Stalin of war crimes like the Rape of Berlin; they didn’t attempt to undermine the Soviet Union revenge; they didn’t demand that the Soviets dismantle their military bases and hand back the land, in spite of the fact that they were foreign occupiers. Amazing how in one swift stroke, Mr. Blacker’s logic falls to pieces. Finally, I would point out that the Germans did not condemn the Nazis in unison, nor did they hand over any Nazi officials. The top Nazi officials either turned themselves in or were captured. Mr. Blacker’s attempts to cleverly portray the SLA as equivalent to the Western Allies is indeed pathetic, when in fact, the SLA behaved much closer to the Soviets (no real code of conduct).

  • Heshan

    I would also point out that the Western Allies did not go after every ex-Nazi who came their way. The one’s they went after were accused of crimes against humanity, e.g. Nuremberg Trials. It was a different story with the Soviets, however. Good luck coming out alive if you surrendered to them. Didn’t I say the parallels with the SLA were numerous. :) Here are a just a few statistics to give you an idea about being a POW under the Soviets:

    Secret Order 7161 (December 1944) issued by USSR State Defense Committee made possible the internment of all adult Germans from Romania, Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. In January 1945, 100,000 ethnic Germans, women aged 18–30 and men aged 17–45, were sent to the Soviet Union from Romania. 10% died in the camps or in the train transports.[1] (See also Flight and expulsion of Germans from Romania during and after World War II.)

    After Christmas 1944, between 27,000 to 30,000 ethnic Germans (aged 18–40) were sent to the USSR from Yugoslavia. Women made up 90% of the group. Most were sent to labor camps in the Donbass (Donets basin) where 16% of them died.[2]

    The later Order 7467 (February 3, 1945) of the State Defense Committee called for the mobilization of able-bodied male Germans aged 17–50 from Upper Silesia and East Prussia, “to prevent terrorist acts and diversions” in the rear of active Soviet fronts. Those who served in the regular army or in Volkssturm were considered POWs and deported to NKVD POW camps. The rest had to form labor battalions which were transferred to the Soviet Union for reconstruction works, primarily in the Ukrainian SSR and Byelorussian SSR. Implementation was under the control of the commanders of the corresponding Soviet Army Fronts, with further processing by the NKVD.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_labor_of_Germans_in_the_Soviet_Union

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The Burning_Issue,

    Thanking you for your support. Not many peoples can be understanding even the lines these days let alone what is in between the lines. Maybe when the Sri Lanka is the hub of all education they will be getting these skills but by then you and I will be dead and gone also!

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Actually, Mervyn the, I quite enjoy laughter, and a lot of the commentators on this site give me a daily laugh. But as you say, they don’t do it on purpose. I’m also very good at going between the lines, especially when they’re long lines of bullshit. If you look at my comments, you’ll find that they very often sit between such lines ;)

      • The Mervyn Silva

        The Blacker,

        Really?

        I will be taking your words for it, even if I am always very amused how hard peoples are trying in these forums to show what they are able to be doing and what and who they are knowing!

        Please be keeping it in the up!

    • longus

      To Mervyn Sir,

      I am angry at some peoples calling you a commentator! Actually Sir, you are servicing the nation and waking the sleeping peoples. How dare someone call you a ‘commentator’? It is like Sir, the famous commentators like Epasinghe and Palitha Perera being insulted! And the new commentators we get now are not good, Sir. They are trying to imitate those Epasinghes but can’t do their job properly! Because most of the commentary is done by the Tony Cozier, Tony Greig, Ian Chappel and Sanjey Manjekar and Ravi Shastri etc and our commentators are given a small chance in the lunch break only. If you can change this barbaric practice it is good!Those days commentators are even better Sir. I remember the commenttor called Brian Jonston and another famous commentator called Henry Blofeld and another commentator called Allen McGure and another commentator called John Arlot who lived a long time ago. My late grand father were tolding that Brian Jonston was the best commentator, but both are dead now! But nobody should call a people’s minister a commentator because you are not commentating on any game of cricket or football or running or racing or swimming. But you can give a commentary on any running match if you want. You gave that commentory on singing recently, no?

  • Belle

    The Mervyn Silva,
    “I am also thinking it is far better to be making people laugh when you are wanting to rather than when you are not wanting to.”

    Indeed! The Blacker doesn’t like laughter. Actually, he won’t even admit that he doesn’t like laughter. Who was it who said totalitarian regimes are very anti-laughter?

  • Observer

    Oh Heshan, you and your unashamed whitewashing! Here is another video for you to watch.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C-vmlh48xY

    Watch it along with Frontline’s Wounded Platoon which I told you about earlier. Conveniently kept mum about the soldiers’ own admission how they looked at the civilians!
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/woundedplatoon/

    Watch both to the end. You will understand the value of human life to the super best cool never kill innocent civilians the most awesome army you’re defending here with weak arguments in your bucket full of holes!

    War is ugly bloody war. No matter who wages it! It’s fruitless trying to make angels out of the West only here.. There are no saints in war. Just scared warriors.

  • Heshan

    Observer,

    I am referring to general standards of accountability/responsibility, not isolated incidents. You cannot condemn an entire organization, such as the American military, because of a few miscreants. On the other hand, when Gothabaya Rajapakse publicly declares that there will be no war crimes investigations under any circumstances, then the integrity of the entire organization (Sri Lankan military) does indeed come into question. He is saying that not only will past incidents be covered up, but so too will all future ones. He is sending a very dangerous signal which no American military would dare do!

  • Heshan

    *He is sending a very dangerous signal which no American military commander would dare do!

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The SD,

    I am on my two knees thanking God. Earlier when you are talking about the oppressed and depressed peoples of all the communities getting together I am thinking, my god, this is going to be the end of Our Majesty and us also, all these depressed and oppressede bastards getting together finally and at long last. But now you are talking like the vassal telling it is better for the Tamils to be vassal than trying to blow the head of Our Majesty, oppressed and depressed linkng up and fighting together going through the window side. This is big relief to all of us in the governments and the cabinet also. Just the way we are wanting our ‘progressive’ peoples to be; looking progresive on the outside but downright vassal on the inside.

  • Belle

    Blacker,
    I see nothing in your very many suggestions about what the Sinhalese people, as the ones with political power in the country, can do for the minorities. Why is this responsibility elided in your catalogue of responsibilities? Why do you think it is your responsibility to critique what the Tamil diaspora does instead of thinking what should be done about minority rights in your country? The Germans had one thing the SL Tamils do not have–they had a country they were in charge of, so they could make decisions about their future.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Belle, why are you waiting for the GoSL or the Sinhalese or whoever else it is to give you things? Have the Tamils not waited long enough for others to do things? First you waited for your political leaders to deliver, but they didn’t. Then you waited for Prabakharan to deliver and he didn’t. Now you want to wait for the Sinhalese to deliver? Isn’t it time to start being the change you want to see?

      The Sinhalese will not give you anything very easily now, not after you tried to take it all by force. That is the price you pay when you try with the gun and fail. The Sinhalese will need to be convinced that you’re not the enemy anymore. So let them see that you care about rebuilding yourselves rather than tearing them down. All those Tiger flags and demands for investigations are not convincing them, believe me.

      The German people didn’t have their country back for four long years, and even then it was only half of it. The rest remained under an iron curtain for decades. In spite of this they didn’t complain about flags and anthems. They got on with rebuilding. This is not your country alone; it belongs to us all, so stop demanding and start working.

      I have as much right to criticise the Tamil diaspora as you have to criticise the GoSL. But who do you think will gain the most from change? Isn’t it those who now have the least? Change yourselves before you try to change others.

      • MV

        @Blacker haha buddy, earlier it was the racist demands of
        the Tamil politicians then it was the LTTE and now it is the Tamil
        diaspora that is to blame – please tell us how can we ever please
        the Sinhalese? never mind the war crimes but what were the reasons
        for the various anti-tamil pogroms and the destruction of cultural
        symbolic places such as the jaffna library – which have all led to
        the strong expatriate community? Don’t you find any faults with the
        consecutive governments that have used the Tamil issue to fill up
        their vote bank, to which Rajapakse is no exception (who claims to
        be the modern day incarnation of king Dutugemunu)? Thanks to
        wikileaks, it is clearly evident that the Sinhalese government was
        never genuine about power sharing but rather plans to keep their
        lackeys (paramilitary-cum-political parties) in control of the
        North-East in the long-term even if some form of devolution is
        offered. It may be easier to fool those residing in Sri Lanka with
        the Tiger bogey but not those outside, who can assert their
        democratic rights.

  • longus

    Some seem to think that the Sinhalese are responsible for the lost national pride-or whatever- of the Tamil people after the war and it is up to them (the Sinhalese) to resurrect it! Whatever the Tamils lost is a consequence of their collective action. When you lose a battle you have to bear up the consequences.

    The Sinhalese can’t possibly be expected to be the proverbial traveller who released the tiger from the trap, to be pounced upon. The liberated areas in the North and East should be kept under tight survalience in order to keep possible militancy in check. That is quite understandable and it is the result of the defeat of an ideology that is dangerous to the unitary nature of the country. The Sinhalese can’t be expected to help the Tamils to build their national pride so that they can hoist the Tiger flag again! The duty of the government is to nip such ideologies off the bud, not to nurture them.

    The duty of the Tamils may be to find a way out of the debris now, in whatever way they can. Maybe compromise, it’s up to them! The Sinhalese can’t help them do that.

    • Burning_Issue

      “The duty of the Tamils may be to find a way out of the debris now, in whatever way they can. Maybe compromise, it’s up to them! The Sinhalese can’t help them do that.”

      What a tragedy; such arrogant standpoint will ultimately be the downfall of the majoritarian hegemony! The Sinhalese do not have to do anything for the Tamils; they need to build a country and not a Sinhala Buddhist State. By removing racism and instilling equality with ethnic accommodation, Sri Lanka will project Sri Lankaness. This is what is required. If such wisdoms are manifested and fostered, I cannot blame anyone pointing their fingers at the LTTE flag waving Diasporas.

      What I see from many Sinhala is inherent weakness to the core; a majority that behaves like a minority!

      • longus

        Yes, and a minority that behaves like a majority..! You may
        be a moderate thinker, but most of the others are stinkers to the
        core. What Sri Lankanness do they have? Even with the existing
        equal status in every respect (languade, education, employment)
        most of them have nothing but utter disdain for Sri Lanka,
        readiness to do anything to harm her. What can you do about such
        traits in some minorities?

      • wijayapala

        Hi Burning_Issue, great to see you again!

        What I see from many Sinhala is inherent weakness to the core; a majority that behaves like a minority!

        An inherent weakness of the Tamils might be a minority that behaves like a majority! At least that it was K.M. de Silva said about the Sinhalese and Tamils.

      • Burning_Issue

        “Even with the existing
        equal status in every respect (languade, education, employment)
        most of them have nothing but utter disdain for Sri Lanka,
        readiness to do anything to harm her.”

        Wow! Equal Status! Tamil National Anthem comes to mind…
        Why don’t you become a Tamil for a week and see what it feels like being a Tamil in Sri Lanka? You can test out the so called equal status in every discipline! Alienated often feel unwanted thus project disdain at those responsible!

      • Burning_Issue

        Wijayapala,

        “An inherent weakness of the Tamils might be a minority that behaves like a majority! At least that it was K.M. de Silva said about the Sinhalese and Tamils.”

        There is truth in what you said; you cannot say that the Tamils behave as a majority throughout the country! Of course, they moved to project majorityism within N&E; this is to do with divisive politics and failure in the quest of nation building. The truth is that, the majority Sinhala can make this country peaceful and fair, if they realise that they have the platform and strength to do just that!

  • Belle

    Longus and Blacker,
    If the Sinhalese will not allow the Tamils the option of being non-citizens of Sri Lanka, then they jolly well need to provide the basics of equal opportunities to them and other facilities of citizenship. Why does GOSL go about trying to prevent desperate refugees from seeking other shores when it has neither the inclination nor the wherewithal to feed them? And what do you mean by the Tamils doing nothing to help themselves? About a million of them fled their homeland to seek new futures for themselves on strange shores, taking the only option available to them.

    You guys keep insisting that the Tamils must learn something. What have YOU learned in the 60 years of independence, not to mention the several other millenia you claim to have been around scrabbling on the Sri Lankan soil? You’ve learned nothing. Even in peacetime, being the majority and having political ownership of the island, you still attract nothing but tyranny. In no other country do you get even educated people from a majority community cheering on the dispossession of minorities by a national government, jeering at a minority because they don’t know how to survive against a fascistic majority. You expect the minority to placate the majority community, prove to them that they are worth helping? What a shameless lot you are.

    • longus

      Yes, the economic refugees are leaving. I personally think
      if they really want, they can rebuild their lives in Vanni, but on
      the pretext of persecution they prefer to seek the refugee ststus
      of the rich countries. No government would promote illegal
      emmigration. Some of them at least are fleeing because of their
      links with the terrorist activities. Even their compassionate hosts
      are realizing this now, and that is why most of them are still in
      detention in Vancouver! There are so many of them in Toronto that
      they can even ask for their Eelam there! Anyway that matter is upto
      the Canadian government and Sri Lanka is out of it. Do the
      benovelent Australia treat them well? They are being kept in the
      Christmas Island camp under detention. Oh! If they are as innocent
      as they claim and their rich hosts acknowledge it why not grant
      them refugee status straight away? Where is the inequality or
      discrimination in Sri Lanka in an organized form? Some minor
      language issues like some government forms are only in Sinhala are
      no reason to unleash terror for thirty years. Such issues exist
      even in ‘bilingual’ Canada as well. Is poverty in certain areas in
      North and East confined to Tamils only? The same applies to rich
      Tamils in Colombo;aren’t there poor slum dwelling Sinhalese in
      Colombo. As I said earlier the unsatiable mentality is something
      inherent in some minorities!

      • Belle

        See what I mean? You guys can’t even let the Tamils leave in peace. If you can’t and won’t care for them, why do you need to spread lies that they are being rejected because of links to terrorist groups? You expect these host countries to be happy about taking on the burden that should be shouldered by their own country?

        They are not “economic refugees”. They are minorities fleeing race-based state discrimination and violence. That’s why they don’t mind going to other countries, where they know they won’t find the proverbial pot of gold, but which will at least give them a fair chance to survive through hard work, where they won’t suddenly find their homes occupied by the privileged race, or suffer arbitrary abductions and rape.

        The “terrorists” are still in Sri Lanka, working for GOSL. Some other “terrorists” left the IDP camps and Sri Lanka very early on, with army protection, having paid big bribes.

        Rich Tamils in Colombo? The only ones still around are those with government connections.

        “aren’t there poor slum dwelling Sinhalese in
        Colombo.”

        That’s not a race issue–that’s a class issue. Why do the Sinhalese who should know better keep voting for people who won’t take care of their poor?

  • Davidson

    ”When you lose a battle you have to bear up the
    consequences.” 1.Tamil parliamentarians were put on house arrest
    after 1958 riots. 2.After 1983 riots JR jayawardene went on the
    radio to say how Sinhalese have let up their vent for all the
    injustice tamils had been heaping on the Sinhalese. 3. Post-May
    2009: militarisation of Northeast, restriction of aid agents,
    restriction of journalists, …. These are all very very consistent
    with Mahavamsa mindset. But just contrary to what is considered
    ”good human nature”(leave alone Buddhist precepts, the
    international law, UN charter, etc): Chapter5: Ethnic Co-operation
    in Sri Lanka by Norman T.Uphoff in Carrots, Sticks and Ethnic
    Conflict(Ed MJ Esman and RJ Herring 2003): ”The farmer who objected
    to this generosity was persuaded to support the plan after a young
    farmer, Narangoda, took him by bicycle down the long and bumpy
    canal road to see what conditions were like at the end. The
    dissenting individual came back quite moved by what he had seen,
    reporting that the tail-end farmers did not have enough water even
    for drinking and bathing, let alone for growing a crop of rice. The
    Gonagolla farmers tried to save donate two and even three days’ of
    their five days water allotment once they became more conscious of
    how the drought was affecting othersothers down stream….. Several
    Sinhalese farmer groups told me that they had an informal
    understanding with Tamil communities downstream: if the tigers were
    making a raid upstream, Tamils would try to warn Sinhalese
    communities so that they could try to protect themselves; if the
    Sri Lankan army was moving downstream, Sinhalese would try to warn
    the Tamil communities so that they would try to get out of the
    way…. When I met with Sinhalese farmers in Gonagolla and asked
    whether the Tamil engineer living among them was safe, Narangoda,
    the local leader said: ”Yes, I regard him as my brother and if
    someone comes to get him, they will have to get me first”

    • longus

      Yes, Davidson your account speaks volumes of what I said,
      but I’m sure won’t open the eyes of those commentators who live in
      rich countries and write here and who see the Sinhalese as their
      enemies!

  • eureka

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2010/12/101231_jaffna_abductions.shtml
    ‘Fear still prevails’ in Jaffna, 31 December Hope 2011 brings a lot
    of democratic debates to dispel all that cause the fear.

  • The Mervyn Silva

    Happy 2011 to all of you backward peoples who are still thinking the year is starting on January 1st. In the Sri Lanka it is only the second year of Our Lord, time starting only after May 19th 2009.

    • longus

      Very many happy returns of the First year after year Zero!
      “Esema Wewa”!

  • Davidson

    ”War-on-terror” author helps bring Year Zero UN panel,
    investigate the author first Come to us later This is geopolitics
    ”Sovereignty” oppresses citizens rewards outsiders This is
    geopolitics Democratic debates wait longer

  • Davidson

    Groundviews,
    I tried to put this in stanzas but it has come out as one para.:

    ”War-on-terror” author/ helps bring Year Zero.//
    UN panel, investigate/ the author first and/come to us later./ This is geopolitics.//
    ”Sovereignty”/ oppresses citizens/ rewards outsiders./ This is
    geopolitics.//
    Democratic debates,/ wait longer//

    ”War-on-terror” author
    helps bring Year Zero.

    UN panel,investigate
    the author first and
    come to us later.
    This is geopolitics.

    ”Sovereignty”
    oppresses citizens
    rewards outsiders.
    This is geopolitics.

    Democratic debates,
    wait longer.

  • Sabes

    Hi Suren,

    I was interested in your proposal for intellectual and academic debate to formulate a common ground and context in which the subterranean forces can foster and emerge to direct the destiny of democracy in Sri Lanka.

    Having read through most of the subsequesnt contributions I cannot see a dialogue developing through these contributions. They are entertaining and informative but still have not progressed your proposal. Blogging I feel has its own limitations as it is also a way of life for some!

    I certainly agree that an academic dialogue for democracy is one of the (0nly one of the ) requsites for Sri Lanka.

    I am sure you may be floating your proposal in other arenas. Have you experinced much progress in other forums you aired these views?

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear Sabes,

      Thank you. At last, Do I see someone writing to guide this forum? I am, like you, increasingly surprised or even frustrated at the depth (actually lack) of any democratic debate in contemporary English speaking/writing community in urban SL. If the quality, manner and the issues dealt by the commentators here represent the rest of SL situation, then as one of my dear Sinhala Buddhist friends – A Professor of Archeology at Uni of Kelaniya- puts it, we are in a long haul of a hovering darkness over our social landscape.

      This political myopia is increasing at the speed of tsunami tidal waves.

      So what does this indicate? I suppose we are, in many ways not only a lost tribal islander nations in politics, but also a lot stubbornly refusing to accept that reality and avoiding any attempt in find our way out. The popular slogan is -Kole Uthum Rata Lankawai- now according some scholars we have become even better than ‘Uthum’ because we defeated the worst political terrorist in the the world. We are even happier because he and his team were ‘para demalas who demanded a piece of this Damma Deepa.
      Two equally illiberal competing nationalisms: The ethnoreligious nationalism of the Sinhalas and the increasingly narrowing ethnolinguistic nationalism of the Thamils have now formulated a self-defeating force that can be cured only by an honest internal ideological paradigm shift.

      I am sad to be a member of the generation that witnesses the abysmal snow boarding of the political civic culture of my motherland and its nations. I simply not hope that we will not have to work another 1000 years to reverse this like Professor Mahesan Niranjan who had replied above and predicted. Future historians will write with sadness the epical transition of Sri Lanka

      As you may notice, I am an academic but confess we have failed to mobilize our society. Instead, the thugs and their profiteering politics have influenced our faculties. I just hope one day soon there will be a positive change before the remaining flame of the candle is out. And all of us will have the strength to remain in hope till.
      Because this small island is the only place I will call my home.

  • Vino Gamage

    I agree with Sabes.

    I would like this to be sent to university academics to begin with.

  • ward

    Sabes and Suren

    I am not an academic – I’m a person on the street.

    I’m simply looking at what has been happening:

    Ethnolinguistic nationalism of the Northeast has been a reaction to ethnoreligious nationalism of the South.

    A.61 years up to May 2009: we’ll oppress you and don’t even think of challenging us.
    B.After May 2009 till today: we’ll oppress you much more to make sure that you don’t challenge our oppression in the future.

    It has been found that intractable ethnic conflicts need third parties to help resolve them. Is there any other recent ethnic conflict that is as vicious as this conflict – internal colonialism in an island(with a virulent combination of history and geography) in a geopolitically significant location?

    The current global situation will try not to hurt the South. So what is the fate of the Northeast?

    Please publish this article in all the main media and take it to the whole academia. Then there will be a flicker of hope.

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    “@Blacker haha buddy, earlier it was the racist demands of
    the Tamil politicians then it was the LTTE and now it is the Tamil
    diaspora that is to blame – please tell us how can we ever please
    the Sinhalese? never mind the war crimes but what were the reasons
    for the various anti-tamil pogroms and the destruction of cultural
    symbolic places such as the jaffna library – which have all led to
    the strong expatriate community? Don’t you find any faults with the
    consecutive governments blah blah”

    MV, where did I call Tamil politicians racist? Please don’t try to put words in my mouth that suit you; instead read what I’m actually saying. My comment to Belle (and others here) is the unrealistic expectation that someone other than yourselves must provide you with an acceptable situation before you will put your foot forward and walk. And your comments are a good example of what I mean about looking backwards while trying to walk forwards. How long are we to discuss, debate, and point fingers at what has happened thirty, forty, and fifty years ago? The GoSL and the Sinhalese are largely to blame for the pogroms and discriminatory laws of the period between independence and the early ’80s. In return, the Tigers bombed, shot, and massacred thousands and thousands of Sinhalese (as well as other Tamils, Muslims, and smaller minorities). I think they have shed more than enough blood to balance the books. It’s time to move forward.

    “It may be easier to fool those residing in Sri Lanka with
    the Tiger bogey but not those outside, who can assert their
    democratic rights.”

    What democratic right? Those rights are for the people of Sri Lanka, of all communities, not for you who sit in the comfy west and try to create disharmony here in SL.

    • MV

      @ Blacker,
      Buddy I hope you are not reading in between lines. I did not imply that you said the Tamil politicians were racist but what I meant was that was/is the general perception with the Sinhalese civil society and intelligentsia – that the Tamil demands for power devolution (i.e. 50/50, federalism, banda-chelva pact) by the pre-LTTE politicians all were thought to have some hidden agenda of separatism. Similarly, it was the same case with Ranil in the 2002 ceasefire talks, that he was seen as ‘appeasing’ some separatist agenda of LTTE and now with the TNA to dub some illegitimacy on them. I am not writing this to point fingers but all this is relevant to the post-independence Sri Lankan politics.

      Unfortunately, for you the dead are just numbers who could just be canceled out but do not wish to question the way the so called “war on terrorism” was conducted or whether such butchering was even justified. As The Mervyn has rightly put, you could all be like the nodding gang that accompanies this regime (Dayan J inclusive).

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        MV, there was racism on both sides in the post-independence era. Some of the Sinhalese politicians were racist, some of the Tamil ones were too. The Tamils got the worst of it because they are a minority; if the tables were reversed, the Sinhalese would have suffered (we all saw what Tamil racism did to the Muslims of the NE). The Tamils were also disadvantaged by their own politicians who bartered Tamil rights for personal power. That was what I meant by the Tamils waiting for politicians who didn’t deliver. Then the Tigers said “enough” and tried the gun. And the Tamils waited while nothing was delivered. Isn’t it now time for the Tamils who matter the most, the ones in SL (not the politicians, not the militants, not the diaspora) to work towards getting what they need?

        “Unfortunately, for you the dead are just numbers who could just be canceled out but do not wish to question the way the so called “war on terrorism” was conducted or whether such butchering was even justified.”

        I am all for questioning. That is why I question the fact that you in the diaspora didn’t question when the Tigers broke the ’87 accord, when they continued terror attacks while Ranil was working towards the P-TOMs and a federal devolution, when they forced the NE Tamils to boycott the presidential elections, when they forced the Wanni Tamils to retreat with them beyond Kilinochchi to be held as human shields. But what is the point of this questioning if it does nothing for the NE Tamils of today? I am all for remembering the dead; but what use is that if we don’t remember the living?

    • MV

      @ Blacker,
      “What democratic right?”
      Simple!
      The right to not be “disappeared” or the right to enjoy freedom and dignity.
      This has nothing to do with the Tamil diaspora (who fortunately do not have to worry about death squads).

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        That’s not a democratic right, that’s a human right. And for all these rights to be restored SL must return to a state of peace. And for that to happen, you in the diaspora must stop your aggression against the GoSL, your attempts to embarrass and humiliate us, your support for your nonsensical multi-national government which vows to keep alive the demand for Eelam. You can’t tame a lion by throwing stones at it. Remove the threat and the GoSL will step down from its defences. Only then will we see the removal of the PTA, the heavy military presence, the Army camps in the NE. You cannot bulldoze this regime as you did with past ones.

    • wijayapala

      David Blacker,

      In return, the Tigers bombed, shot, and massacred thousands and thousands of Sinhalese (as well as other Tamils, Muslims, and smaller minorities).

      Actually the LTTE killed far more Tamils than Sinhalese, just as over the years the various govts killed more Sinhalese than Tamils.

      I think the Sinhalese have learned that they can’t treat Tamils as second-class citizens, and that they cannot be persecuted with impunity. Isn’t the fact that there hasn’t been a pogrom in almost three decades a sign of that at least? Whereas in the past, there’s been at least one race riot per decade.

      Disagree- there was an anti-Tamil riot in Trincomalee in April 2006. Also there were no anti-Tamil riots in the 1960s.

      The common explanation that these riots were spontaneous and represented Sinhala fury or something is pure BS. A lot of the experts out there have missed the fact that all of the major episodes of anti-Tamil violence before the war took place under just two leaders: SWRD Bandaranaike and JR Jayawardene. SWRD managed two riots within only 3 years of being in power, but JR pulled off the biggest riot of all that started the war (in addition to burning the Jaffna Library). Mrs. B on the other hand was openly and probably genuinely a Sinhala chauvinist and she was in power for 14 years- where were the riots during her time, even after the beginning of Tamil militancy in the early 1970s?

      Therefore there was no “learning experience” for the Sinhalese but rather by their leadership, although that’s open to doubt too given Mahinda’s initial reaction to the 2006 riots (the Indian Prime Minister had to give a call to rouse him out of his slumber).

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Wijayapala, if you’re saying that it was the Sinhalese leadership that was responsible for persecution of the Tamils, and not the Sinhalese population, and that said leadership has learned its lesson, it’s still more or less what I’m saying; that those responsible for racist persecution of the Tamils have learned that they can no longer do so. Personally, I don’t think it’s possible for the leadership to engineer such pogroms if there doesn’t already exist within their constituency an inclination towards racism, just as it would have been impossible for the Nazis to engineer the Holocaust if there had not been widespread anti-Semitic sentiment in 1930s Germany in particular, and Europe in general.

        The 2006 riot in Trinco was hardly a pogrom, Wijayapala; it was a minor outbreak of violence that was quickly quelled by the authorities. There have been similar outbreaks in the east between Muslims and Tamils in the ’90s, but these too were hardly pogroms.

        The point of my comment was that both sides have enough guilt, and it’s useless to keep pointing fingers and trying to blame the other. It’s time to make up for the past with positive action.

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    “If the Sinhalese will not allow the Tamils the option of being non-citizens of Sri Lanka, then they jolly well need to provide the basics of equal opportunities to them and other facilities of citizenship.”

    No one is preventing the Tamils from being non-citizens of SL, just from being non-citizens in SL. The opportunities and facilities due to the NE Tamils are being gradually provided. Don’t forget that it is less than two years after the war, and we’re a 3rd world nation. We’re doing our best. If you want to help, you in the diaspora need to stop instigating tension with these demands for investigations by Tiger flag-waving mobs. You need to stop calling for the deposing of the GoSL. As long as that threat remains, the Sinhalese will see all the Tamils as enemies, and not just the Tiger supporters in the west. And they’re not gonna feel too kindly towards people who are out to depose the elected government. This makes it harder for INGOs to operate in the north, it makes it harder for journalists to get in there, it makes so many things harder, and the people who suffer the most are those same Tamils. Why not wait ’til the Tamils are back on their feet and then call for investigations? What’s the hurry?

    “Why does GOSL go about trying to prevent desperate refugees from seeking other shores when it has neither the inclination nor the wherewithal to feed them?”

    For the same reason that it prevents Sinhalese from leaving illegally — because it’s illegal. Why don’t the governments in the west then suggest that they will grant entry to all SL Tamils who apply? That’ll make it legal, and the GoSL won’t be able to stop ‘em.

    “And what do you mean by the Tamils doing nothing to help themselves? About a million of them fled their homeland to seek new futures for themselves on strange shores, taking the only option available to them.”

    I’m talking about the Tamils living here in SL. I couldn’t care less about the ones who have gone; I wish them the best, but they’re no longer a part of this country.

    “You guys keep insisting that the Tamils must learn something. What have YOU learned in the 60 years of independence, not to mention the several other millenia you claim to have been around scrabbling on the Sri Lankan soil? You’ve learned nothing.”

    I think the Sinhalese have learned that they can’t treat Tamils as second-class citizens, and that they cannot be persecuted with impunity. Isn’t the fact that there hasn’t been a pogrom in almost three decades a sign of that at least? Whereas in the past, there’s been at least one race riot per decade. It is true that things are not back on a normal footing in the north, but this isn’t because the Sinhalese don’t want it to be. We’re still recovering from the war, and there’s a long way to go. The best thing you in the diaspora can do is cease your agitation. Allow things to return to normal.

    “In no other country do you get even educated people from a majority community cheering on the dispossession of minorities by a national government, jeering at a minority because they don’t know how to survive against a fascistic majority. You expect the minority to placate the majority community, prove to them that they are worth helping? What a shameless lot you are.”

    Where is this jeering that you speak of? We’re doing our best to get the country back to normal. If we’re jeering, we’re jeering the bitter and vengeful attempts by the diaspora to depose this government, attempts that endanger ethnic harmony and prevent the Tamils of the north from getting back on their feet. We aren’t asking that the Tamils prove their worthiness, just their trustworthiness. You cannot ignore the fact that we in the south were forced back to war by the LTTE, which did so with the moral backing and financial support of you in the diaspora. At the beginning of this century, we were ready to talk to the Tigers, to devolve power to the Tamils, but you chose war — you destabilised a liberal government and ultimately deposed it with your terror tactics and election boycott. You chose war. Once you choose war, you can’t pretend it never happened and expect things on a platter. We lost friends and relatives because of your choice — thousands of servicemen and innocent Sinhalese civilians died too. Did we choose that? No, we didn’t. But now that it’s over, we’re trying to move forward, while you in the diaspora continue the LTTE’s stupidity by trying to drag us all back to ethnic conflict. Stop this blind hatred at least now.

    • MV

      “At the beginning of this century, we were ready to talk to the Tigers, to devolve power to the Tamils, but you chose war — you destabilised a liberal government and ultimately deposed it with your terror tactics and election boycott. You chose war.”
      Sorry to go off topic but buddy you say some interesting stuff. I am curious to know what was this liberal government and what happened to it now? Can you substantiate your claim? The wikileaks revealations seem to rather suggest that the Rajapakse regime was trying to provoke LTTE into war – http://www.wsws.org/articles/2010/dec2010/slwi-d29.shtml

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        I am talking about Ranil W’s UNP, which was the government at the beginning of this century (2001-2004), which came to power on a platform of peace and economic change. The Sinhalese were tired of war and willing to give in to certain demands. But instead of working with RW, the Tigers continuously broke the CFA, goading the Sinhalese by flying their flag in areas where it had no right to be and firing on GoSL positions, killing soldiers, murdering political rivals and Tamil activists, and even assassinating people like Kadirgama. All of this in the end made the Sinhalese feel that it was no use talking to the Tigers, that they would stop at nothing short of Eelam — and this was correct. The mood in the south changed and CBK dissolved parliament. MR promised a solution that would not lose the Sinhalese their dignity, and they voted in the SLFP/JVP coalition. The Tigers knew very well what MR’s view was, and yet when the presidential election came they all but placed him on the throne by forcing the NE Tamils to boycott the election. The Tigers wanted war, and they knew MR was the perfect partner to dance with — where they went wrong was in not realising who was going to lead the dance. Even with MR and his government in power, the Tigers didn’t relent — the goading and aggression continued until even the EU couldn’t accept it, and when they banned the LTTE, the latter expelled almost all of the UN monitors, thereby removing one more safeguard against war. With no one to monitor, the Tigers increased their aggression, attempting to instigate an Intifada-type uprising in Jaffna in a vain hope that the soldiers would snap and massacre some Tamils, giving the LTTE the excuse to attack. Fortunately, the Jaffna Tamils — having got a taste of peace during the CFA — refused to be inflamed, and the uprising failed. The Tigers were desperate for war; peace was breaking them, the rank and file were deserting, Karuna was being seduced. But the GoSL refused to attack, retraining the military to fight as it never had before, sending its diplomats (yes the DJs and the Palithas and the Rajivas) out to gather our allies. And then when GR and SF told MR that we were good and goddamned ready, he attacked with everything he had both foreign and domestic. And the rest, as they say, is history.

        MV, you’re so familiar with the history that comforts and nourishes your hatred of the GoSL; why are you not familiar with this most crucial part of the Tamils struggle? They say that those who do not learn by their mistakes are doomed to repeat them. Should we also say that one thing Tamils never learn from history is that Tamils never learn from history? I hope it’s not too late for you to learn, MV.

    • Belle

      “I think the Sinhalese have learned that they can’t treat Tamils as second-class citizens, and that they cannot be persecuted with impunity. Isn’t the fact that there hasn’t been a pogrom in almost three decades a sign of that at least? Whereas in the past, there’s been at least one race riot per decade”

      So, there hasn’t been a pogrom for three decades? Are these the very same decades the LTTE was around? What the Sinhalese have learned is that they cannot treat Tamils as second-class citizens as long as the LTTE is around.

      “We aren’t asking that the Tamils prove their worthiness, just their trustworthiness.”

      Do you as a citizen have to prove your trustworthiness as a condition to be given your rights?

      “You chose war. Once you choose war, you can’t pretend it never happened and expect things on a platter. We lost friends and relatives because of your choice — thousands of servicemen and innocent Sinhalese civilians died too. Did we choose that? No, we didn’t.”

      The Tamils didn’t choose war. The LTTE did. But it’s real convenient to confuse the two, isn’t it? And, yes, the Sinhalese did choose war. When there was time to negotiate, they had other fish to fry. They thought pogroms were a solution. What do you expect pogroms to deliver if not violence from the other side?

      You said to MV: “Fortunately, the Jaffna Tamils — having got a taste of peace during the CFA — refused to be inflamed, and the uprising failed.”

      Didn’t you just finish telling me that the Tamils chose war? Might help to stop with the long stories–sooner or later, you will contradict yourself.

      • Travelling Academic

        @Belle
        “So, there hasn’t been a pogrom for three decades? Are these the very same decades the LTTE was around? What the Sinhalese have learned is that they cannot treat Tamils as second-class citizens as long as the LTTE is around.”

        Correlation (or coincidence, in this case) does not imply causality, Belle!

        The racists amongst the Sinhalese were able to take a holiday during these three decades because the job of inflicting cruelty upon the Tamil population — torture, murder, extortion, burning them alive and using little kids as cannon fodder and suicide bombers — were all very effectively being executed by your LTTE, would you not agree, Belle? Why did we need the racists amongst the Sinhalese to harm us when we the Tamils could do it so much better? Remember Belle, Tigers tortured and killed Tamil kids in cold blood using guns given to them by the Premadasa government? Do you not know this? Which planet are you writing from?

        Belle, I am travelling in Jaffna right now and my heart bleeds. The damage inflicted upon this population by Sinhala racism, then efficiently amplified by Tamil nationalism and implemented with surgical precision by your LTTE, is collosal. What I see in Jaffna is tip of the iceberg — I haven’t been to Vanni yet.

        The one and only thing expatriates like yourself can do at this stage to help these poor people is to first disown anything and everything to do with the memory of Tamil nationalism and the LTTE, and give them a chance to re-build their lives by working with the Sinhalese. Please don’t glorify the irresponsible evil simply to score points in a web exchange. Right now, the Tamil people could do without the likes of you, and the memory of the gangsters you hero-worship. Please give my people a chance.

      • wijayapala

        Hi Belle,

        So, there hasn’t been a pogrom for three decades? Are these the very same decades the LTTE was around? What the Sinhalese have learned is that they cannot treat Tamils as second-class citizens as long as the LTTE is around.

        We’ve already demolished this notion of yours. It doesn’t explained why the same Sinhalese who were cowed by fear of the LTTE from mistreating Tamils were the same Sinhalese who elected a government that steamrolled the LTTE. Your theory also puts the LTTE in very bad light since it seems they utterly failed to protect the civilians at Mullivaikkal (you know, the same civilians they were using as human shields that somehow did not merit your outrage).

        The Tamils of Sri Lanka were brought to ruin not through the riots but because of the war that was enthusiastically supported and funded by a part of the diaspora enthralled by the LTTE’s victories. There would have been no war and no inevitable bloody end to that war without that support and without your silence.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “So, there hasn’t been a pogrom for three decades? Are these the very same decades the LTTE was around? What the Sinhalese have learned is that they cannot treat Tamils as second-class citizens as long as the LTTE is around.”

        Certainly the growth of the Tigers and other terrorist groups in the months after Black July taught the Sinhalese that pogroms were counter-productive and only nourished the terrorist ranks, so yes, it was a secondary byproduct of the militants. However, it wasn’t fear of the Tigers that prevented further pogroms; if that were true, there would have been pogroms when the Tigers were at their weakest (post-Vadamarachchi in ’87, and post-2008), but there weren’t. There aren’t any today either when it would be so easy for the Sinhalese to do so. If you had been in SL in the months after the tsunami and seen the amount of help sent to the Tamils of the east by Sinhalese, you would understand how sentiment has changed. FYI a lot of that aid sent was stolen by the Tigers. I saw this personally on a visit to Batti.

        “Do you as a citizen have to prove your trustworthiness as a condition to be given your rights?”

        No, I don’t. But if I had done something to earn distrust, then yes, it is incumbent of me to re-earn that trust. It is still not a condition for rights, but it will certainly speed things up.

        “The Tamils didn’t choose war. The LTTE did. But it’s real convenient to confuse the two, isn’t it?”

        Yeah, yeah, and the Germans didn’t kill the Jews either, it was the Nazis, right? The fact is that the majority of the NE Tamils and the diaspora supported the LTTE in its fight until it started to get hammered. The Tigers claimed to speak for the NE Tamils (as you in the diaspora claim to do today), and neither the diaspora nor the SL Tamils (except for a few individuals) spoke out against the LTTE’s stupid and violent decisions. It’s a bit too late to sing Wasn’t Me.

        “And, yes, the Sinhalese did choose war. When there was time to negotiate, they had other fish to fry. They thought pogroms were a solution. What do you expect pogroms to deliver if not violence from the other side?”

        Which pogroms are you talking about? Was it pogroms in 1987 that made the LTTE break the Indo-Lanka Accord and attack India? Was it pogroms in 1990 that made the Tigers break off negotiations with Premadasa and attack? Was it in answer to pogroms in 2004 that the LTTE with its aggression deposed the only government capable of pushing through a federal solution? Was it pogroms that prevented the NE Tamils from voting for RW in the presidential elections? Was it pogroms in 2006 that made the Tigers attack and capture the Mavil Aru anicut? Are you lying to us or to yourself?

        “Didn’t you just finish telling me that the Tamils chose war?”

        Lol I said the Tamils chose war, I didn’t say they chose to fight. They preferred the Tigers do the fighting and killing and dying. Which is what I said at the beginning, that the Tamils have been waiting for decades for others to deliver them.

        “Might help to stop with the long stories–sooner or later, you will contradict yourself.”

        Instead I should stick to trite cliches, as you do? :D It seems contradictory to you only because you prefer to see things in black and white, Belle.

      • wijayapala

        David,

        The fact is that the majority of the NE Tamils and the diaspora supported the LTTE in its fight until it started to get hammered. The Tigers claimed to speak for the NE Tamils (as you in the diaspora claim to do today), and neither the diaspora nor the SL Tamils (except for a few individuals) spoke out against the LTTE’s stupid and violent decisions.

        That may be true for the diaspora but it would be a tougher call for the NE Tamils who lived under LTTE domination. Why the hell would they speak out against the LTTE when they would get a bullet in their heads for the effort?

        From my own experiences travelling in the NE, I would say that the #1 priority of the local Tamils was survival, whether it meant sucking up to whoever was in control. You mentioned before that the Jaffna Tamils strongly supported the CFA and didn’t want the war to return (quite unlike the LTTE supporters in the diaspora who were screaming for it in 2006). This image does not jive with the notion that they were active LTTE supporters.

  • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

    Sabes & Suren — I think it’s the extreme positions taken in the comments threads right from the outset. If you look at each post here on GV or on Transcurrents, every comments thread is more or less interchangeable. The diaspora piles in with demands for investigations of war crimes and removal of the Rajapakses, regardless of what the topic is, and even us moderates are instantly alienated and polarised. You cannot counter a polar or extreme demand except with the opposite polar or extreme.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “That may be true for the diaspora but it would be a tougher call for the NE Tamils who lived under LTTE domination. Why the hell would they speak out against the LTTE when they would get a bullet in their heads for the effort?”

      To some extent you’re right, and the bigger portion of the blame must fall on the diaspora; however, just as the Tamils rose up against the discrimination of the Sinhalese in the ’70s, they should have been willing to rise up against LTTE tyranny — there certainly were options, as we’ve seen circa Karuna, Pilliyan, Devananda, etc. If the diaspora had voiced some protest at least, it would have made it easier for the Tamils in the NE to also dissent. But my point is that the common Tamil washed his hands off of responsibility for the future of his people, preferring (like Belle) to wait passively for deliverance by those with the will.

      I think to some extent, the diaspora feels the weight of this guilt, though they refuse to admit it or even publicly acknowledge it, and it is this weight that makes them so misguidedly vociferous today as they were mistakenly silent before.

  • eeurekaa

    ”The diaspora piles in with demands for investigations of war crimes and removal of the Rajapakses” – some see this all the time?

    Some others long to see reference to the plight of those in the Northeast instead of reference to the LTTE and the diaspora all the time killing off the last bit of life in the people ravaged by 62+ years of internal colonialism – LTTE is gone and the diaspora are outside the shores. Those who rule the country determine the plight of those in the Northeast:

    ‘’…. IDP’s being denied access to their former places of residence
    Challenging the right to title of the properties traditionally owned and /or occupied persons living in conflict affected areas
    Large tracts of previously occupied lands being demarcated as high security zones
    Unjustified land acquisitions on security considerations but allocated for non security related purposes
    The publicly announced resettlement benefits to internally displaced persons not being distributed equitably and in line with the announced scheme
    Lack of basic amenities like water, sanitation, power and proper housing for the newly resettled families
    Resource allocation not determined on community priorities and allocated without consultation and outside the need base and at times missing the most vulnerable and in need, possibly due to identity based biases
    Some areas like Jaffna receiving more than necessary resource allocations and peripheral areas lacking in even basic allocations
    Preventing willing and capable NGO’s/INGO’s, international community and Diaspora from helping people in need at their most vulnerable moment of need
    Building of new permanent military cantonments with residential facilities for military personnel and their families
    Plans to settle majority community families in order to change the traditional area demography otherwise than by natural development oriented migration
    Arbitrary arrests and detention in the post war period as well
    Continuing active engagement of unauthorized armed groups
    Continuing disappearances of civilians
    List of persons in custody, camps and detention centres not being made public
    Failure to assist families in tracing missing persons
    Negative impact on civilians during the conflict due military excesses
    Unease of single women headed families fearing for their safety in the presence of large number of armed personnel of the forces
    Removal of burial sites of persons affected by the conflict
    Some important cultural, religious and remembrance sites being damaged and destroyed
    Disrespect shown by visitors to holy sites and sites held in high esteem by resident communities
    Free availability of liquor, cigarettes and narcotics
    Emerging consumerism promoted by business houses who fail to participate in adding value to the civilian communities
    Savings of the region being channelled to other areas whilst unmet needs of area community remain
    Decision making in the hands of the military or officials from the Central Government. .…’’

    Some say it’s NOT even two years since May 2009. But this is not anything new, it’s simply an escalation of the first 61 years and there is no reason to continue it except absolute heartlessness.

    What is urgent is a fact-finding mission of ”moderates” to go to the nooks and corners (get off A9) to come and tell the South what exactly is there in the Northeast. (”Development” consists of building roads for Sinhalese and foreigners to see a few places in Jaffna and tourist spots in Batticaloa and Trincomalee.)

    Then a lot of grit on the road to reconciliation will be removed. Otherwise Surens, Chandras and Kanishkas will be knocking their heads against rocks.

    Lessons Learnt from 2002/3 peace workshops:
    many from the South were shocked to find out what has been happening in the North for decades.

    Press censorship on news from the Northeast has been there on and off, esp. at crucial times, from 1958.

  • eeurekaa

    As administration of the Northeast has been in the hands of the military in the last three decades, it’s VERY URGENT to form an expert panel (possibly of academics, retired civil servants and diplomats) to oversee/advise the work of the current administration of the Northeast.

  • Suren Raghavan

    Dear David and MV

    Again, it seems you two are (unwillingly or unknowingly) representing the microcosm of the wider context. Macro analysis of words and the negativity of history will not lead us out of this wilderness.
    Conflict Resolution needs to have a way out of the prisoner’s dilemma. I take you both as Concerned (and moderate?) Citizens, the fundamental ingredient for any mobilized social contract. So, may I suggest that you both put forward a simple formula – say a 5-point strategy how you wish to see the present condition changed?

    We all know the fundamental disagreements/preconditions. The Thamils demand a War Crime Investigation, Demilitarizing the North and East, implementation of the 13th amendment. The Sinhalas demand a powerful socio–political support and agreement from the Tamils towards the present regime (because MR defeated the terror regime of the LTTE) and a total and clear denouncing of the separatist ideology from the diasporas.

    These are big chips on the bargaining table. No resolution that produced any success ever started with the big demands but only with simple gestures of Confidence Building Measures

    (It is a famous human story among the Political Science students how Mikhail Gorbachev broke the Cold War curtain with Ronald Reagan. He did not start with demands for nuclear disarmament but shared his personal sadness of his wife who was fighting cancer and her request to see a peaceful world. It is recorded that RR responded immediately very humanely because he was a cancer suffer too. This common human bond laid the foundation for greater compromise. There are other similar stories in the history. Cyril Ramaphosa then duty of ANC was moved by the way how the defense minister of apartheid regime and his wife treated Ramaphosa’s son over an accident. That created a bond, dialogue, greater trust facilitating resolution)

    Since you two have spent considerable time here displaying your desire for normative justice and resolution, may I suggest that you present such a plan of action. Be honest and say what you would like to see from each side as a minimum gesture of CBM
    Further, few steps you will commit to demand from you own respective community and colleagues.

    Political Peace is a result of collective action that begins at individual level. It is Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous line. ‘The crime of our time is not the bad deeds of bad people but the silence of the good people’. So may ask you Pl put forward a list of things you like to see and especially you would start doing amongst your colleagues.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      OK, Suren, here goes:

      From the GoSL/Sinhalese side

      1. Demilitarization of the NE through
      (a) Demining and removal of weapons caches
      (b) Resettlement of IDPs
      (c) Gradual reduction of military bases in both size and quantity to eventual peacetime readiness, including a transfer of presence from the Regular Force to the National Guard — clear timetable for this
      (d) Rehabilitation of former Tiger combatants
      (e) Recruitment of Tamils to the police and National Guard battalions, including the officer corps
      2. Gradual access of the NE to INGOs, media, and foreign observers
      3. Transparent development plan for the Northern and Eastern Provinces to include
      (a) Infrastructure development — with a timetable
      (b) Economic development at all levels — to include investment, industry, tourism, small business, resources, and manpower areas, amongst others
      4. Full implementation of the 13th Amendment
      5. Removal of official patronage for warlords such as Pilliyan, Devananda, etc in order to provide a level political playing field

      Much of the above can run concurrently, but not necessarily.

      In order to avoid making demands, and in the interest of reconciliation ;) I will not list out what I think the Tamils should do. Perhaps MV or someone else can do that.

    • MV

      Blacker,
      Resettlement, demining, demilitarization, development, etc do little to address reconciliation or the underlying issues behind the conflict. Development also has little to do with democracy but to do with corruption and stability that will attract investors. Implementation of 13A could be a first step but not the final settlement – it was an Indian solution.
      On the Tamil side:
      1) Provide economic assistance to help rebuild the lives
      2) The elected representatives to work with those in Sri Lanka to address human rights and democratic rights

      I doubt the Tamil diaspora has much influence over Sri Lanka, except for some economic clout and lobbying power.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “Resettlement, demining, demilitarization, development, etc do little to address reconciliation or the underlying issues behind the conflict.”

        Don’t be foolish, MV. Resettlement, demining, demilitarization and development are the immediate needs of the NE, before anything political can be addressed. Democracy will not feed the children or educate them or clothe them, neither will it provide their parents with jobs. You, in the west, do not require any of these, and therefore all you can selfishly focus on is reconciliation; the latter applies to both communities, and simply addressing the diaspora demands will not give this. Your satisfaction does not equal national reconciliation :) I have put down five points, and the implementation of all of them by the Sinhalese will begin the process of reconciliation. It seems you haven’t even bothered to read through these five points, and it is this sort of arrogance that prevents reconciliation. Similarly, you were asked to provide five points that the TAMILS must implement. Which part of this do you not comprehend? The two lame points you’ve managed to come up with both are focused on providing something to the Tamils once more. What do the TAMILS need to do vis a vis the SINHALESE with whom they must reconcile? Hellooo? Anybody at home?

        “Implementation of 13A could be a first step but not the final settlement – it was an Indian solution.”

        Regardless of whether it came from India or Timbuktoo, it is an acceptable compromise — provincial devolution and bilingual administration of all areas. If you’re unhappy with an Indian solution, why are you in the diaspora calling for international involvement?

  • Mary Tony

    1.”At the beginning of this century, we were ready to talk to the Tigers, to devolve power to the Tamils”

    What did the President do to that? Ranil was stripped of some ministries !!

    http://www.groundviews.org/2010/09/30/llrc-evidence-given-by-mr-austin-fernando-former-secretary-of-defense-on-18th-august-2010/#more-4274
    LLRC: Evidence given by Mr. Austin Fernando, Former Secretary of Defence, 18 August 2010:
    ‘’When I look at the responsibilities, some of those government senior politicians were very silent. On the other hand the Opposition politicians were sabotaging the thing(peace talks).

    After stripping the average man of his sense of justice to his fellow human being by decades of ethnic outbidding, peace constituency must have been built actively.

    2. No pogroms after 1983?
    Prevention of Terrorism Act and politicised judiciary gave limitless impunity to the armed forces – perennial pogrom.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Mary Tony,

      What did the President do to that? Ranil was stripped of some ministries !!

      That was in November 2003, almost two years after Ranil came to power. Chandrika stripped those ministries after the LTTE released its “Interim Self-Governing Authority” demand which destroyed any claim that the LTTE was willing to compromise for a federal solution. Ranil’s credibility was shredded and a few months later he lost the election.

      http://groundviews.org/2008/11/02/interview-with-austin-fernando-a-peacetime-secretary-of-defence-in-sri-lanka/

      As Sanjana demonstrated during the above interview, Mr Fernando had quite a bit of holes in his version about the ceasefire period. He didn’t appear to have the ability to see the larger picture, and he gave the impression that he really didn’t grasp the situation as it was unfolding.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “Prevention of Terrorism Act and politicised judiciary gave limitless impunity to the armed forces – perennial pogrom.”

      :D Aren’t you committing intellectual genocide here? Which btw isn’t really genocide. Making up phrases to suit one’s argument doesn’t really make one any more credible.

  • Heshan

    But instead of working with RW, the Tigers continuously broke the CFA, goading the Sinhalese by flying their flag in areas where it had no right to be and firing on GoSL positions, killing soldiers, murdering political rivals and Tamil activists, and even assassinating people like Kadirgama. All of this in the end made the Sinhalese feel that it was no use talking to the Tigers, that they would stop at nothing short of Eelam — and this was correct.

    Excellent job, rewriting history there, Blacker. You conveniently leave out the fact that Ranil is considered the biggest traitor in Sinhalese history (by the Sinhalese) for even negotiating with the LTTE. There is a reason why the UNP let Sarath Fonseka contest the last election as opposed to [Edited out] Ranil. The CFA did not fail because of Ranil or the Tigers. It failed because the South felt that Ranil was giving away too many concessions to the LTTE. Then again, as I have described in this forum, this mindset is understandable considering that there was never any anti-war movement in the South (unless you count the few, largely isolated Jehan Perera types) that sought a peaceful end to the conflict. The (Southern) media dehumanized the LTTE as barbaric terrorists day after day, and that is the impression left in the minds of the average Sinhalese – even to this day. The few Sinhalese intellectuals who attempted a more objective analysis have been largely isolated, or even killed, e.g. Wickramabahu, Tissaranee Gunasekara, Lasantha W.

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan

      this mindset is understandable considering that there was never any anti-war movement in the South (unless you count the few, largely isolated Jehan Perera types) that sought a peaceful end to the conflict.

      Then how did Ranil win the 2001 election? Did he rig it?

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      You seem to have not understood what I said, [Edited out] Heshan. Do try again. [Edited out.]

  • yapa

    Dear Bele;

    “The Tamils didn’t choose war. The LTTE did. But it’s real convenient to confuse the two, isn’t it?”

    Then, why didn’t they oppose the war like other communities? Are you going to say Tamil reaction is no different from other communities towards the war? Are you going to say origination of LTTE is from other communities as well? Is it your notion that Tamils are innocent as other communities in producing LTTE?

    You cannot cover up all wuth beautiful words. I think your washing skills will invariably help you to start a profitable laundry chain.

    Activists are not the need of the day. Topics too relates to reconciliation.

    Thanks!

  • Heshan

    Then how did Ranil win the 2001 election? Did he rig it?

    I know you have great difficulty with common sense, so let me inform you that after 1978 the Prime Minister is chosen by the President. The election you speak of did not take place.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      The UNP easily came to power in the 2001 election in a platform of peace with LTTE and economic resurgence, and won all but one district in the country. Wickremasinghe became the Prime Minister for the second time following the election and began a “co-habitational” government with President Kumaratunga. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_National_Party#Opposition_again)

      [Edited out.]

    • renu

      Heshan
      You’re wasting your time arguing against untruths.

      • longus

        Who needs treatment here for amnesia? This man says the election in 2001 did not take place! Please note!

  • Heshan

    I fully agree with you, renu. However, I must admit that I find it rather shocking that those who have been born and bred in the country are ignorant of the political process.

    The Prime Minister is appointed by the President as head of the cabinet of ministers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Minister_of_Sri_Lanka

    On May 7, 1993, Wickramasinghe was sworn in as Prime Minister after President Ranasinghe Premadasa was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers and Prime Minister D. B. Wijetunga was appointed acting president.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranil_Wickremasinghe

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Ha ha I must say GV seems to attract the best and the brightest. The PM is appointed by the president only when they are both from the same party or coalition, Einstein. :D When Premadasa was assassinated, DB Wijetunge who was PM at the time took over, appointing RW to take over as PM in turn. All three were from the ruling UNP, genius. CBK was in the UPFA and her government lost the election in 2001 to RW’s UNP. Didn’t you know that CBK and RW are in different parties? I must say Prof Heshan your in depth and intricate knowledge of SL current affairs and politics puts us all to shame. CBK remained prez, at loggerheads with parliament until 2004 when she dissolved it and called for a general election which the SLFP and JVP won. She then appointed MR as PM. I have read some amazingly ignorant stuff on this blog, not to mention the most creative of lies, but this is the first time I’ve seen anyone actually deny that one of the most important elections of the last decade, and the first of the 21st century never actually happened! It would be hilarious if it wasn’t so sad.

    • longus

      “I know you have great difficulty with common sense, so let me inform you that after 1978 the Prime Minister is chosen by the President. The election you speak of did not take place”

      The above statement by Prof. Heshan is a case in point of the extent of the knowledge some of the pundits have regarding the recent history of Sri Lanka! These self appointed ream writers show their pathetic ignorance and continue to mislead the public. The irony is that theirs is a selective amnesia and when it suits them they can easily forget anything contrary to their argument. As an answer to what Blacker asks Heshen says that Ranil W’singhe was never elected by the people in 2001 and quotes the instance where he was appoined as the Prime Minister after President Premadasa’s death! I think this person is either a school kid who wastes his time by portraying a different picture on the net,or doesn’t know how to read. I don’t know whether there are any other possibilities!

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan, so are you standing by your claim that there was no election in December 2001 that the UNP won to come to power?

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Prof Heshan is a true expounder of Stephen Colbert’s “Truthiness”, or to use its original Latin form, Veritasiness, in which truth is not based on fact, but on what feels true. So when the US tells us that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, it feels true; or when Belle tells us that the SL Army killed 40,000 Tamils, it feels true; or when Heshan tells us that the dropping of nukes on Hiroshima & Nagasaki made the Japanese surrender, it feels true.

  • Belle

    Travelling Academic,
    We all know what the LTTE did–it received a lot of media coverage. On the other hand, what GOSL and SLA did has tended to be extremely fuzzy. As an academic, you should be interested in finding out the unknown, as opposed to almost literally beating a dead horse.

    Since you are very free in pointing out gaps in my discourse, perhaps I can address gaps in yours. Why do you think the LTTE emerged and took the form it did? You seem to be a self-proclaimed expert on causality, and know how to distinguish between correlation and causality, so I look forward to your answering that question credibly.

    By the way, you refuted my suggestion of a causal link between the LTTE and the absence of pogroms by offering LTTE behavior as the cause of the restraint in Sinhalese racism. And I’m the one who needs a lesson in logic?

    Back again to that causality issue—does asking people to talk to Tiger flag wavers necessarily and exclusively point to one’s being an LTTE supporter?

    As for the overcharged emotion exhibited in the rest of your post, you’re beginning to remind me more than a little of the excesses of LTTE fundamentalism.

    Your people? You’re not the only one with people in the north. Nobody died and made you king, so cut it with the possessiveness. The Tamils are their own people.

    • wijayapala

      Belle,

      We all know what the LTTE did–it received a lot of media coverage.

      Then why are there STILL people who deny that the LTTE used child soldiers in combat??????????

      http://groundviews.org/2010/12/01/whose-reality-in-sri-lanka/

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “Back again to that causality issue—does asking people to talk to Tiger flag wavers necessarily and exclusively point to one’s being an LTTE supporter?”

      [Edited out] What do the Tiger flag-wavers have to offer us that requires us to talk to them? The only thing these mobs have are their threats — threats of investigations, threats of violence, threats of a renewed struggle for Eelam. Are you telling us that we must talk to you if we don’t want to be threatened? Isn’t that more or less what the Tigers said too?

      • Belle

        David Blacker,
        This is really dumb. I was not asking the Sri Lankan Sinhalese to talk to the Tiger flag wavers, but diaspora Tamils who are working on projects that help SL Tamils to persuade and show the Tiger flag wavers that there are other options than separatism and clinging to the memory of the LTTE. You need to examine your knee-jerk reactions. Seems you yourself have fallen into the black/white trap of LTTE vs GOSL that you have accused me of, fallen so deep that you are talking gibberish.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Belle, my apologies. How was I to know that by “talk to Tiger flag wavers”, you didn’t actually mean “talking to Tiger flag wavers”, but really “talking to non-Tiger non-flag wavers in order to convince the Tiger flag wavers to stop being Tigers and/or flag wavers” as you now claim ;) Perhaps you should be a bit more succinct in your comments to avoid such misunderstandings in future.

  • Belle

    Wijayapala,

    “We’ve already demolished this notion of yours. It doesn’t explained why the same Sinhalese who were cowed by fear of the LTTE from mistreating Tamils were the same Sinhalese who elected a government that steamrolled the LTTE.”

    No “we” here, just yourself and your deluded thinking. Many people tend to deal with their fears by getting someone to rid them of its cause.

    “Your theory also puts the LTTE in very bad light since it seems they utterly failed to protect the civilians at Mullivaikkal (you know, the same civilians they were using as human shields that somehow did not merit your outrage).”

    The LTTE were terrorists. I tend to get more outraged by what the state does because they are supposed to look after civilians. I also get outraged at states for creating situations for terrorism to emerge.

    “The Tamils of Sri Lanka were brought to ruin not through the riots but because of the war that was enthusiastically supported and funded by a part of the diaspora enthralled by the LTTE’s victories.”

    Research has shown that diaspora contributions were a miniscule part of LTTE finances. When people are forced to leave their homes involuntarily due to state and other racism, many of them tend to act on their hatred and look for triumphs where they can find them. That’s why racism is not to be recommended.

    “There would have been no war and no inevitable bloody end to that war without that support and without your silence.”

    What was the choice? To raise our voices in support of your treacherous governments?

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Belle, why is it that you can only see things in the black and white of the LTTE vs the GoSL? Why is that you think you had to throw your support behind one or the other exclusively? When Ranil W and the UNP were offering a federal solution between 2001 and 2003, why didn’t you in the diaspora call for the Tigers to accept this proposal? What was treacherous about that?

      Diaspora contributions to the Tiger coffers averaged around 10-15% of the total take in the mid-2000s, and that is hardly miniscule. More to the point, the diaspora’s access to western governments and media was — and is — tremendous (as can be seen today), and you could very well have used that power to leverage the LTTE into taking a moderate stance. Instead you remained silent and even supported their violent strategy, not even protecting those among you, like DBS Jeyaraj, who were forlornly predicting the approaching catastrophe. Have you yet not learned from these lessons?

      • Observer

        Very well said Blacker. According to some diaspora it is always the GOSL to blame – though it is only partially. They never acknowledge their failure in trying to stop the LTTE by using their influence when civilians were being killed on both sides by the LTTE. Just watched with gleaming eyes and poured even more money into the blood bath. Now some of them write poems and try to be satirical. Seriously I just shake my head when I see posts like that. Are we [Edited out] retarded?? Is that what they think? They don’t seem to understand where their failures lie. Until they realise what they contributed to – the pain, the suffering, they will never understand what the hell happened in the past couple of years and how it came to this eventuality. We can keep playing this zero sum game to infinity. It will all come down to endurance… who will say I’ve just about had enough? I think now that we’ve raised the stakes all in and played this game to a bitter (temporary?) end, I think both sides are just about ready to hang up the guns and move on to other things in life that matter – other than killing each other. It’s just the bitter, spiteful diaspora trying to stir [Edited out] something up that is making things very difficult. Hate, like alcohol has a way of destroying you, the more you consume it, so I have hope…

      • Belle

        David Blacker,
        Why are you focused on what the diaspora did and what it is doing? Shouldn’t you, as a Sri Lankan, be more concerned about what is to be done for your Tamil minority? You rejected that opportunity years ago. Should you not take it up now, at least?

        “More to the point, the diaspora’s access to western governments and media was — and is — tremendous (as can be seen today), and you could very well have used that power to leverage the LTTE into taking a moderate stance.”

        How has the diaspora been successful in anything it wanted to do? How is it successful today, what exactly has it achieved, that it makes you think it could even have persuaded a terrorist organization to act against its inclinations? It seems even Karuna, who was in his proximity, could not make Prabhakaran do his bidding. Prabhakaran was crazed for power. Why would he want peace late in his life and listen obediently to recommendations of peace and compromise when all he knew and had cultivated in his life was violence?

        Also, why do you expect such extremely noble, moral behaviour from the diaspora when you guys made life non-viable for them in their homeland, and had not lifted a finger to rectify the minority situation in your country, not before LTTE came on the scene and certainly not now when it is in your power to do so? On what moral grounds do you expect from the diaspora better behaviour than you ever imposed on yourselves?

        It’s easy to see your strategy, and that of some others here: keep the focus on the LTTE, and the diaspora; don’t let anyone talk about the fate of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Goal: not to share Sinhalese power with anyone. Same goal it has been since independence.

        My black and white vision is not LTTE against GOSL. It is GOSL and the majority Sinhalese community who has the voting power versus the rights of minorities to equal facilities and opportunities in their homeland.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “Why are you focused on what the diaspora did and what it is doing? Shouldn’t you, as a Sri Lankan, be more concerned about what is to be done for your Tamil minority?”

        Belle, I have already answered this, but I’ll do it again since focus doesn’t seem to be your strong point. In answer to the first part of your question, the reason our focus is drawn by the diaspora is because you are the guys waving those Tiger flags; you are the guys calling for investigations, sanctions, and arrests; you are the guys setting up a government in exile. You in the diaspora are threatening the stability and newly won peace in SL and jeopardizing any possibility of ethnic harmony in the future. Which part of this do you not comprehend, Belle? As for the second part of your question, I’ve already submitted my 5-point plan as requested by Suren. Why don’t you read it first without batting blindly on.

        “How is it successful today, what exactly has it achieved, that it makes you think it could even have persuaded a terrorist organization to act against its inclinations?”

        Why didn’t you at least try? Why don’t you try even now to have one protest without those Tiger flags? How about just one? Just to prove a point.

        “Also, why do you expect such extremely noble, moral behaviour from the diaspora when you guys made life non-viable for them in their homeland, and had not lifted a finger to rectify the minority situation in your country, not before LTTE came on the scene and certainly not now when it is in your power to do so? On what moral grounds do you expect from the diaspora better behaviour than you ever imposed on yourselves?”

        First of all, Belle, what’s with this “you” business? I’m not a Sinhalese. I too am part of the minority. Second, I don’t expect morality or nobility or any such thing. I expect intelligence and commonsense, something the Tamils pride themselves on possessing. I expect you to see the damage you’re doing to the chances of the Tamils in SL who want to rebuild their lives not wave Tiger flags.

        “It’s easy to see your strategy, and that of some others here: keep the focus on the LTTE, and the diaspora; don’t let anyone talk about the fate of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Goal: not to share Sinhalese power with anyone.”

        What rubbish. What we’re trying to do is talk about the SL Tamils TODAY and what they’re going to do tomorrow and day after and next year. And we’ll be heard if you guys will just stop the constant screaming about war crimes and sanctions. All you do is give the hardliners within the GoSL who do want to keep the Tamils down just the opportunity to do so by providing them with a convenient threat.

        “My black and white vision is not LTTE against GOSL. It is GOSL and the majority Sinhalese community who has the voting power versus the rights of minorities to equal facilities and opportunities in their homeland.”

        First of all, Belle, try not to lose the thread here. I was responding to your comment that to remove support for the Tigers was to support the GoSL. Why are you sidestepping this point? Second, when the Tamils did in fact have the voting power to put Ranil W into Temple Trees and secure a federal solution, the Tigers disenfranchised them! And you in the diaspora said and did nothing. Didn’t you care about what was hasppening? How can you forgive yourselves for that?

  • Suren Raghavan

    Dear Friends

    I believe there is no democracy without debates, but also there cannot be any good debate without democracy.

    Sadly, in a collective sense, after 100 comments most of us are still playing the no-win child game: blame shifting and encircling the same rotten history of both sides of the divide that needs to be buried.
    No wound will be cured by digging it further. no dead will come alive by venerating the corpse. Let us live beyond the political thugs that we condemn so much.

    I thank David Blacker for his response to my humble request. He has put forward 5 points, those he thinks the ruling Sinhala should act on immediately. That is a simple yet a good turn. I have few questions for David. However, that can wait until we manage the debate in a positive direction. I hope MV will respond to David

    If we are to convert our active energy away from the blaming and point scoring game, I suggest that we put forward concrete action plans, the solutions we wish to see ( let’s say 5 points) from each community and what we would individually do to move this darkening paradigm of decomposing debates on political forensic. Our wounds are still deep and wet they only promise to ooze emotional hurt.

    Reconciliation can come only when we are able to be a part of the healing process-the solution we wish. Not by any hurting/hating project. There is only a very thin line between justice and vengeance. We can argue for justice while in actual terms seeking vengeance. One of the best ways to avoid this is to look at solutions and avoid berry our minds in the depth of the problem alone.

    so who among us have the courage to propose some creative solutions?

    • MV

      Dear Suren,

      It is an irony that the same elements, JVP, who helped to establish and nurture the Rajapakse dynasty on the Sinhala nationlistic platform, find it backfiring on themselves. Anyway, here’s what’s possible:
      External pressure (however, the geopolitical reality is working in favor of this oppressive regime)
      Mobilization at the grassroots level: those who are concerned about democracy rather seem to be rallying around another nationalistic icon, Fonseka, as if his release will secure democracy.

      Demilitarization, as Blacker had suggested, will eventually have to happen as it is costly for the Sri Lankan state to maintain such a large military in the long run. That is why Rajapakse’s home grown solution will involve some demographic engineering in the North as it was in the East. As the Economist had pointed out, both India and China (Kashmir and Tibet) have shown how to keep resisting populations at check in the long-term.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        MV, the request was for a 5-point plan, preferably for one’s own side to act on, not an airy-fairy wish for the other side. Hasn’t there been enough of that?

      • Suren Raghavan

        Dear MV,
        I saw you debating (at least with David Blacker) at a very committed level for postwar justice for the Thamils. Great! then my request was to see few points that would you desire to see the present Sinhala rulers do towards the Thamils and other minorities in a process of democraticing the state. I am sad to note that you have either not understood or willfully ignoring that.

        Is this a kind microcosm of the widely divided Thamil diaspora? No proper vision. No clear political ideology to lead the already brutalized Thamils of NE? I simply hope not. What we need is a dialogue based on clear articulation of the political desires of the Thamils of NE

        It is indeed a pathetic condition that many who are eager to blame the Sinhala regimes for their historiography of illiberal governance. But when asked ( especially in the post LTTE context) what do they collectively see as a way forward there is only a confused contradiction. This why I have argued for an urgent and open dialogue between the Thamils and Sinhalas beginning perhaps with the academic and activists.

        I think there are at least 5 key points I would demand from the South

        1. Total Demilitarization of the NE on an agreed time table

        2. Honest and urgent measures to implement the 13th amendment

        3. Increase the institutional capacity for the bi-lingual public administration (that is if one desires to have public services in Thamil in Matara or Hambanthota that should be possible. Equally the public service should be delivered in Sinhala in NE)

        4. Provide employment in state sectors in proposition to the minority population ( of course with qualified personnel)

        5 Introduce an accelerated development program designed and participated by the citizens of NE ( I ask all those Sinhala intelligentsia and activists including David- why cant they push this?)

        from the Thamil side

        1. A clear and complete denouncement of violent as a political dialogue

        2. A clear declaration that there is no desire (or hidden agenda) to carve an ethnic Thamil state ( I dont deny the right to self determination. It is a universal right. But the regional and ground realities are such there can not be a separate state as Thamil Eelam I said this even during the golden days of the LTTE)

        3. Mobilize the NE Thamils to articulate their development desires

        4. Continue to work with the Sinhala, Muslim, Up Country and all other forces to demand the total and complete implementation of the 13th amendment and other common democratic issues such as corruption, environment, and wider Human Rights

        ( I ask, urge and often debate with my diaspora Thamil friends for this)

  • Heshan

    Ahh, the three stooges: Longus, Wijayapala, and Blacker. Where did I say there was no election in 2001? I merely said there was no direct election, by the people of Sri Lanka to choose Ranil Wickremasinghe as Prime Minister. Dear stooges, let me define the main point of a election for you. An election by the people involves at least two candidates. If less than two candidates are there, then it is not an election .

    • longus

      Lord Heshan,

      “Ahh, the three stooges: Longus, Wijayapala, and Blacker. Where did I say there was no election in 2001?”

      This is where you said it my Lord:

      “Then how did Ranil win the 2001 election? Did he rig it?
      I know you have great difficulty with common sense, so let me inform you that after 1978 the Prime Minister is chosen by the President. The election you speak of did not take place.”

      This could be a case of the cat trying to cover its excreta on a rock, isn’t it Lord Heshan?

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      [Edited out] In fact the general elections of 2001 weren’t contested by two individuals as you claim is the requirement :D but by several hundred in 12 parties, for the 225 seats of the parliament at the time. 76% of voters turned out and 45% of them voted for the UNP and only 37% for th incumbent PA.

      Here are a couple of links to that election which you claim (and I quote) “never took place”:

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_parliamentary_election%2C_2001?wasRedirected=true
      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_2001_Sri_Lankan_general_election_by_province?wasRedirected=true

      Do read them and educate yourself, Heshan [edited out]

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan

      An election by the people involves at least two candidates. If less than two candidates are there, then it is not an election.

      Except in a proportional representation system where the election primarily involves parties and coalitions more than individual candidates. Ranil Wickremasinghe as the leader of the UNF coalition won the 2001 election and became the head of government as a result. The PA coalition lost the election and its leader Chandrika Kumaratunge had to relinquish that function although she continued as head of state.

      2001 parliamentary election:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_parliamentary_election,_2001

      As the chart clearly shows, the UNF received 45.6% of the vote while the PA only got 37%. Also the UNF won 96 district seats compared to the PA’s 66. That clearly proves that the UNF and its leader Ranil were able to win an election on a platform of a ceasefire and a peace process with the LTTE.

      Are you still in denial? Take a look at Ranil’s own Facebook page:
      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Ranil-Wickremesinghe/111586318855867

      “Ranil the Leader of the United National Party and the United National Front was sworn in as the 12th Prime Minister of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on 9th December 2001, ***after having convincingly won the Parliamentary General Elections***.”

  • Heshan

    in which truth is not based on fact, but on what feels true. So when the US tells us that Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11, it feels true; or when Belle tells us that the SL Army killed 40,000 Tamils, it feels true; or when Heshan tells us that the dropping of nukes on Hiroshima & Nagasaki made the Japanese surrender, it feels true.

    This is from the guy who admitted on a different thread that there will never be any war crimes investigations in S. Lanka, but still tries to accuse the American military of being as equally guilty/misbehaved as the S. Lankan military. I have asked the same individual for a list of detainees held at Boosa, but he is unable to provide such statistics. Yet he persists in his contention that Guantanamo Bay is a “concentration camp” (his own words!), despite the fact that, by his own admission, only 6 individuals have died there in 10 years. Regarding the other points, I never said Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11. 40,000 is probably an understatement; apparently thousands of wounded LTTE were massacred in one day alone, and the atom bombs were indeed a factor in Japan’s surrender.

    • longus

      Why are you quoting other posts? Why don’t you answer the point raised?

    • longus

      If the atomic bomb was needed to make Japan surrender-which killed around 300,000 civilians according to some estimates- don’t you think the final assault on the LTTE-which might have caused some civilian casualties as the civilians were held as a human shield-was also needed to make the LTTE surrender?

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “This is from the guy who admitted on a different thread that there will never be any war crimes investigations in S. Lanka, but still tries to accuse the American military of being as equally guilty/misbehaved as the S. Lankan military.”

      Actually, the US military is far more guilty of war crimes than that of SL. The US armed forces have killed millions of innocent civilians over the years. For instance, in a single bombing raid on Tokyo on the 9th of March 1945, the USAAF killed 100,000 civilians (to put that in perspective, the number of civilians killed in seven years in Iraq, and the total number of people killed in 30 years in SL were killed in a single night) and made a million homeless. And that was just one night. After such raids, and those on Hamburg and Dresden, US Army General Leslie Groves said that the American civil and military leadership “were generally inured to the mass killing of civilians.” In addition, the United States Strategic Bombing Survey (issued in 1946) stated in its official report: “Hiroshima and Nagasaki were chosen as targets because of their concentration of activities and population.” (http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html). The USAAF admitted its target was civilian.

      “I have asked the same individual for a list of detainees held at Boosa, but he is unable to provide such statistics.”

      Of course. Just as I am unable to provide statistics of little green men on Mars or samples of moon cheese. Are you suggesting I provide evidence for your theories; evidence you yourself cannot provide? Ha ha

      “Yet he persists in his contention that Guantanamo Bay is a “concentration camp” (his own words!), despite the fact that, by his own admission, only 6 individuals have died there in 10 years.”

      As does the US Supreme Court. On the other hand little Heshan has no evidence of any deaths at Boosa lol.

      “Regarding the other points, I never said Saddam Hussein was connected to 9/11.”

      Who said you did? Surely you’re not suggesting that you speak for the US? :D

      ” 40,000 is probably an understatement; apparently thousands of wounded LTTE were massacred in one day alone”

      Another truthiness that feels true, eh, prof?

      “and the atom bombs were indeed a factor in Japan’s surrender”

      Apparently not according to Japanese prime minister Fumimaro Konoye, who said: “Fundamentally, the thing that brought about the determination to make peace was the prolonged bombing by the B-29s.” And not according to Gen Douglas MacArthur who, in January 1945, seven months before Hiroshima, sent Roosevelt a 40-page memo outlining five separate surrender overtures from high-level Japanese officials. The US went ahead and dropped the nukes and suppressed the news report on MacArthur’s memo until after the war. In April and May, three months before Hiroshima, the Japanese made three more attempts to surrender but were ignored. Not only was Japan willing to surrender, it had made that willingness clear to the Allies. In his 1963 memoir, Gen Dwight D Eisenhower said that he knew at the time that the dropping of the atom bombs was “completely unnecessary”. Just after VJ Day, Brig General Bonnie Fellers summed up in a memo for General MacArthur: “Neither the atomic bombing nor the entry of the Soviet Union into the war forced Japan’s unconditional surrender.” Admiral Leahy, Chief of Staff to presidents Roosevelt and Truman, later commented:“the use of the barbarous weapon at Hiroshima and Nagasaki was of no material assistance in our war against Japan.” In its authoritative 1946 report, the US Strategic Bombing Survey concluded: “The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs did not defeat Japan, nor by the testimony of the enemy leaders who ended the war did they persuade Japan to accept unconditional surrender. The Emperor, the Lord Privy Seal, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, and the Navy Minister had decided as early as May of 1945 that the war should be ended even if it meant acceptance of defeat on allied terms. Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war, and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”Gen Curtis LeMay, head of US Strategic Command said, “”The atomic bomb had nothing to do with the end of the war.” In a 1986 study, historian Edwin Hoyt said, “The atomic bomb is indeed a fearsome weapon, but it was not the cause of Japan’s surrender, even though the myth persists even to this day.” (http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html)

      [Edited out]

  • Heshan

    longus,

    Ranil win the 2001 election?

    Show me where it says in the Sri Lankan Constitution that a Prime Minister is elected by the people. [Edited out]

    don’t you think the final assault on the LTTE-which might have caused some civilian casualties as the civilians were held as a human shield-was also needed to make the LTTE surrender?

    Whatever happened cannot be undone… however, the motivations, consequences, and future implications can still be evaluated. The difference between the USA and SL is that the US will never use an atomic weapon again, except under the most dire of circumstances, whereas Wimal & the JHU friends will dance all night to “crush” the Tamils using all means necessary should there be another Eelam war. Without punishment, some people do not learn well. That logic applies to governments as well, hence the loss of GSP+ concessions.

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan

      Show me where it says in the Sri Lankan Constitution that a Prime Minister is elected by the people. [Edited out]

      I would humbly suggest controlling your anger and avoiding offensive words that are sadly being edited out. Personally I would much rather see them!

      Chapter Eight, 43(3)
      The President shall appoint as Prime Minister the Member of Parliament who in his opinions is ***most likely to command the confidence of Parliament.***

      If the people elect a parliament which is not controlled by the President’s party, the President no longer is the head of government and relinquishes that to the elected Prime Minister. Sorry Heshan, but the people voted for Ranil Wickremasinghe in the December 2001 election. Now don’t be sour because they won’t make that same mistake again! ;-)

    • longus

      Hon.Heshan

      By your ingenious argument there are some conclusions I can arrive at:

      A British Prime Minister was never elected by the people!
      No Prime-Minister in post-independent Sri Lanka was elected by the people!
      Even the American President is not elected by the people as they only vote for the members of the electoral college!

      It seems only Sarcosy and Rajapakse(any more?) were elected by the people! The rest of the countries must be despotic regimes!
      Anyway I like that idea! Excellent work, your Honour!

  • Agnos

    Travelling Academic,

    You said you are traveling in Jaffna. I would like to hear what you think is happening with the current abductions and murders? Who do you think is responsible?

    • Travelling Academic

      @Agnos

      Being in Jaffna doesn’t help answer this any better than guessing from far away — there is a culture of fear and people don’t want to talk about these too much, particularly with someone like me who can later report on what they said in a public forum like this. I think you know the old Tamil proverb about Veli (fence) and payir (the plants the fence is supposed to protect). There is an urgent need for the government to remove all guns held by those outside the armed forces and strengthen the role of the military police to high standards. The politicians seem to be pre-occupied with other things was the impression I got.

      • Agnos

        Travelling Academic,

        ” Veli (fence) and payir (the plants the fence is supposed to protect).”

        Or, the fox and the henhouse.

        “There is an urgent need for the government to remove all guns held by those outside the armed forces and strengthen the role of the military police to high standards. The politicians seem to be pre-occupied with other things was the impression I got.”

        Here I think you are either being very careful out of fear–of the consequences of telling the truth, or being a bit naive. The Rajapaksa family, especially Mahinda and Gotabhaya, are in absolute control of all armed forces and paramilitaries. That they knowingly allow such abductions and murders to be carried out has never been a secret; it has been recently brought out by WikiLeaks via Robert Blake, but something that we always knew. Nobody can pussyfoot around such issues.

        Do you see the outrage from your progressive friends in the South? Are they fearful as well?

        The Hindu is reporting ‘concern!’ As if the taking away of innocent human lives by a regime that claims to be democratically elected, is just something that can be dismissed with mere “concern,” not something that demands moral outrage.

        With all the “erectitude” and arrogance of a rapist-murderer who has just finished raping and killing his victim, but wants to brag about the blood on his hands and add insult to the victim’s injury– the Rajapaksa supporters, fellow thugs who served in the armed forces and like minded “evilians,” are lecturing the Tamil Diaspora on what they should and shouldn’t do, while saying nary a word against the continuing atrocities by the regime they have elected to power and seek to defend.

        The inordinate focus on the minor nuisance of some people waving LTTE flags in a faraway country, at a time when the LTTE is finished and gone, while the current regime has co-opted [Edited out] Gunadasa Amarasekara, Nalin de Silva and Weerawansa to Kotakadeniya (of the Trinco 5 /ACF murders and Colombo expulsions fame) to Gomin Dayasri and S.L. Gunasekara—is testament to this “erectitude.”

        (By the way, I agree with you that the Tiger flags have no place in protests; I don’t remember seeing it among the few US-based protests, but I have seen the flags in pictures of some protests in Canada and UK. I just feel that this is fairly trivial issue when there are far more important issues coming from the other side.)

        It is true that Tamils in SL are too fearful to tell the truth, devastated by war and cowed down by the brutality of the regime, to do anything about it. They simply have no choice but to be pragmatic about it.

        But as someone who doesn’t have the same constraints, let me speak the truth. The Rajapaksas, Devananda, Karuna, and their hangers-on are pure evil and need to be held to account one way or another, no matter how long it takes, for there to be any chance for real peace; these people are even worse than VP because there was at least some method to the latter’s madness, at least in the early stages of the LTTE; after all, he told his cadres to shoot himself dead if he ever deviated from the path of fighting for a separate state.

  • Heshan

    Why are you focused on what the diaspora did and what it is doing? Shouldn’t you, as a Sri Lankan, be more concerned about what is to be done for your Tamil minority? You rejected that opportunity years ago. Should you not take it up now, at least?

    Apologies for intruding, but I second Belle on this. Now that the Lion flag is flying on all four corners of the island as Dharmapala and Cyril Matthew wished, SL should become a Singapore in no time. A long time ago, I was informed by some Sinhalese that SL was on the way to becoming a Singapore, and then the LTTE ruined the party! Well, the rowdy guest has been kicked out, but the DJ is still playing bad music! Yapa, Blacker, Longus, Observer, and all other patriots need to knock their heads together and actually show the world that the country is worth something. The LTTE is gone – it was gone in 2009, that’s almost 2 yrs since their departure – where are all the miracles? Please do Bodhi Pooja, white van pooja, and whatever else is necessary, else people like me forever mutter that rather unpatriotic of verses: “it was better to let the Tamils go their own way.”

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan

      Apologies for intruding, but I second Belle on this.

      Good move. Hopefully it will distract Blacker and longus from your “The election you speak of did not take place” goof.

  • Heshan

    [Edited out],

    I asked one of you to show me where it says in the Sri Lankan Constitution that the Prime Minister is elected by the people. If the Prime Minister is not elected by the people, then there are only one of three possibilities: (I) the PM is “elected” exclusively by the Parliament, (II) the PM is appointed exclusively by the President, and (III) the PM is chosen via consultation between the President and Parliament. The 2001 scenario is a case of (III):

    “Also, despite being the Executive PM in the pre-1987 constitution, the PM was not directly elected by the general public, but based only on votes of Parliament MPs. The new hybrid ‘Executive PM’ will be combination of both –an executive PM directly elected by popular votes.”

    http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/07/19/sri-lanka-re-designs-its-executive-presidency-israeli-style-%E2%80%98executive-pm%E2%80%99

    There is no reason why the UNP , which had the majority in the Parliament following the 2001 elections, could not have chosen someone besides Ranil to be the Prime Minister. Once again, I repeat, Ranil Wickremasinghe was not elected Prime Minister by the people of Sri Lanka. Enjoy the kasipu (it may come with a Chinese label soon). :)

    • rajivmw

      Dear Heshan.

      I think by this point you’re even embarrassing your supporters, who are notably silent on this matter.

      By your standard, no leader of any parliamentary democracy is elected by the people. Not David Cameron, not Angela Merkel, not Manmohan Singh, not anyone. In fact, according to you, the events that saw these people ascend to office cannot be considered elections at all!

      Even in the US presidential system, Obama was elected (in theory at least) not by the people but by the electoral college. This – together with some questionable intervention by the Supreme Court – is why George W. Bush became President in 2001, despite Al Gore having received far more popular votes.

      In 2001, the entire electorate (except maybe you) knew that Ranil Wickramesinghe would become the Prime Minister if the UNP won the general election. Just like Britain knew that David Cameron would become PM if the Conservatives won, Germany knew Angela Merkel would be chancellor if the CDU coalition won, etc.

      In short, Ranil Wickramesinghe was indeed elected to power by the people, who voted for the UNP with full knowledge that he would be the PM.

      • longus

        Rajiv, that’s what the famous Sinhalese saying is about: If you sleep with dogs you have to get up with their ticks!

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      [edited out] heshan, the question wasn’t whether the RW was directly elected by vote or whether he was appointed by parliament or any other of your schoolboy stories. The question by wijayapala was whether RW rigged the 2001 gen elections. You claimed there were no 2001 gen elections. Do you still stand by that claim? Also do you have any evidence (yes links) that prove RW was appointed by CBK, parliament, or anyone else?

      Clearly prof you don’t know the difference between a gen election and a pres one :D The executive appoints the head of the legislature only when the head of the executive is also the head of government. When the majority party in the legislature isn’t that of the executive, the latter cannot decide who the head of the legislature will be as the majority party isn’t obliged to listen to a member of the opposition. Therefore the head of the legislature usually will be the head of the majority party in that body. If you wish to believe that the head of an SL party needs to wait for his acolytes to appoint him to the head of government, that’s upto you. :D However, none of this changes the fact that RW stood for elections for his seat and won said elections by a majority of 46%. So do you still insist there was no election? :D

  • Belle

    David Blacker,
    So, to summarize your post, you want the diaspora Tamils to shut up. Then all will be hunky-dory and the SL Tamils will get their rights? That’s bull. Whether the diaspora is silent or active, Tamils will not get their rights as citizens. It’s not just GOSL that will stop that, but all the voting masses who put MR and his band of brothers in charge will be there to support it. A silent diaspora will just make it that much easier to screw the Tamils once again.

    And why shouldn’t the war crimes be investigated? Why shouldn’t there be sanctions against a rogue government? Historically, sanctions have worked against rogue governments.

    “And we’ll be heard if you guys will just stop the constant screaming about war crimes and sanctions. All you do is give the hardliners within the GoSL who do want to keep the Tamils down just the opportunity to do so by providing them with a convenient threat.”

    You must be joking. MR is as likely to listen to you as Prabhakaran was likely to listen to the diaspora.

    “Second, when the Tamils did in fact have the voting power to put Ranil W into Temple Trees and secure a federal solution, the Tigers disenfranchised them! And you in the diaspora said and did nothing. Didn’t you care about what was happening? How can you forgive yourselves for that?”

    So now it’s the diaspora’s fault that MR got elected and the federal solution was not on the table? You talk as if the Tigers were a government. They weren’t. They were terrorists. Terrorists don’t listen to what they don’t want to hear. Nor do the Sinhalese listen to the Tamil diaspora. By the way, diaspora intellectuals did write in support of RW at the time but it seems nobody listened to them. At any rate, when did anyone know that the Tamils had the voting power to put RW into Temple Trees? After the election, no, when you saw how close the results were? Looks like you’ll come up with any ridiculous argument to put the diaspora in the wrong.

    • yapa

      Dear Belle;

      “And why shouldn’t the war crimes be investigated?”

      Why should?

      Many explained why it shouldn’t, I think you are purposely avoiding such clarifications. I think you accept that it is time for reconciliation, not for fighting.

      You want both egg and the omelet?

      Thanks!

      • Belle

        Reconciliation can’t be based on a cover up of the truth.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “So, to summarize your post, you want the diaspora Tamils to shut up. Then all will be hunky-dory and the SL Tamils will get their rights? That’s bull. Whether the diaspora is silent or active, Tamils will not get their rights as citizens.”

      So, Belle, if you feel that whether you shout or stay silent, there will be no difference, why are you shouting? ‘Cos it makes you feel better? However, I am not telling you to shut up; I am telling you to shut up about stuff that is pointless and nonconstructive. I am telling you to speak out about the things that will actually make life better for the SL Tamils; not the things that make you feel better.

      “And why shouldn’t the war crimes be investigated?”

      I am not against war crimes being investigated in principle. I just don’t see it ever happening because it isn’t in the interests of the country. Over on Transcurrents, I was having a similar discussion some weeks ago, and Dayan Jayatillake quoted what I said there over here on GV. I don’t know whether you recall what I said, so I’ll repeat it:

      Any investigation that probes crimes committed by either side will, in the event that evidence is found, prosecute only the GoSL side, given that 99% of the LTTE leadership is dead, and the remaining 1% is in the GoSL, or poised to be. Therefore calls for investigations by the diaspora isn’t as unbiased and fair as it is made out. The GoSL obviously doesn’t want investigations, ‘cos it will not want high-ranking members of the civil or military leadership charged, nor people such as Karuna and Pilliyan and Devananda who are now part of the GoSL, nor KP who will very likely have a role in the future SL Tamil leadership. The Sinhalese population accepts that war crimes might have been committed, but that it was necessary in order to defeat the Tigers who they believe committed far greater crimes, so they’re not interested in the military or GoSL officials being investigated and charged; they have also accepted that war criminals such as Karuna and Pilliyan must be forgiven in order to incorporate former separatists into the GoSL. Unfortunately, this does a great injustice to the people who might have lost life, limb, or family in atrocities by one side or the other (the Trinco students, the 600 policemen, etc), but this cannot be helped. It will have to be accepted for the sake of a united nation and future ethnic harmony. The people of Germany and Japan too suffered horrendous war crimes by the Allies, particularly late in WW2, and these injustices have never been addressed; however, these peoples accepted that and instead concentrated on rebuilding, which they did successfully. Alternately, it is possible for the GoSL to make scapegoats of certain individuals in the military (eg: identifiable soldiers in the Channel 4 video), and charge them as criminals as has been done in the past (eg: the Krishanthi Kumaraswamy case). This too is unlikely given that the Sinhalese population will then also demand that individual ex-Tigers be also charged, opening the whole can of worms. So there it is.

      “Why shouldn’t there be sanctions against a rogue government? Historically, sanctions have worked against rogue governments.”

      Actually, they haven’t. In both Iraq and Serbia, it merely caused hardship and death to innocents, hardened the resolve of the population, and in fact made the leadership even stronger.

      “You must be joking. MR is as likely to listen to you as Prabhakaran was likely to listen to the diaspora.”

      If that is so, then all protest is useless, and you might as well give up now. But it isn’t. I strongly believe that moderate voices amongst the population and the administration will be heard if their stand is not undermined by extremists on the far right and far left. Let me give you a clear example of how this works, right here on this blog, Belle:

      There are issues in SL that need to be addressed, real, solid issues that moderates from both sides of the divide (people like Suren Ragavan, Dyan Jayatillake, Rationalman, Wijayapala, Rajivmw etc) wish to discuss, and we attempt to do so on sites such as this one and Transcurrents and others. Posts are written and discussion begins. Then, into this forum the Heshans and Santas come, dropping in explosive absurdities such as claims that the Tigers never used child combatants or that there were no election/s in 2001 or that the SL Army killed hundreds of thousands of civilians, and instantly the debate is derailed; drawn away from reasonable and constructive discussion into that of farce. If you look up the comments widget, you’ll see that most of such debate has been on this sort of foolishness rather than reality. My point is this is exactly what the flag waving and calls for investigations are doing too, they are diverting attention away from the real important issues into abstract ones that have no connection to the ground realities in the country.

      However, these subjects click well with the narrative within which they appear; by “narrative” I mean the agenda or trend of world opinion which is never unbiased. Just as Heshan’s and Santa’s foolishness is a caricature in extremis of the diaspora’s actions, so the narrative here on this blog is also a comparable reflection of how world opinion sees it. So within this narrative, Heshan can call me a war criminal, a rapist, a murderer, he can lie, misquote other commentators, and be generally deceitful with impunity and even be protected on this blog. Within this narrative, people such as Wijayapala, Rajivmw and myself are not allowed to openly ridicule Heshan, but must engage him only within the narrative of the blog; in other words, a claim that there was no 2001 elections must be treated as a credible claim and countered with credible counter-claims rather than open laughter (at the risk of censor), thereby giving the original claim credence. Even now it is not entirely sure that this comment of mine will appear uncensored. The world narrative works the same way: giving voice to claims that fit within that narrative and not those that don’t. You know how it works, Belle — Israel can have nukes, Iran can’t; the US can kill civilians, SL can’t, etc.

      “So now it’s the diaspora’s fault that MR got elected and the federal solution was not on the table? You talk as if the Tigers were a government. They weren’t. They were terrorists. Terrorists don’t listen to what they don’t want to hear. Nor do the Sinhalese listen to the Tamil diaspora. By the way, diaspora intellectuals did write in support of RW at the time but it seems nobody listened to them.”

      It is the LTTE’s fault that MR got elected. Their continued acts of terror throughout the CFA, and their introduction of the ISGA undermined RW’s attempts and convinced the Sinhalese population that the LTTE wasn’t interested in negotiation. I have explained this to you several times, Belle; why do you ignore my answers and repeat the question? Are you hoping that if you ask the same dumb questions over and over, I’ll give up on answering? You say terrorists don’t listen, but where was even an attempt to convince them? Except for DBSJ and a couple of others, no one spoke out; and those that did in SL, like Neelan Tiruchchelvam, were killed by the Tigers, while you in the diaspora remained silent, paying your taxes to them to buy more guns and more bullets. Why didn’t you march onto the streets of Ottawa and London back then? Why did you do absolutely nothing? The LTTE had declared themselves the “sole voice of the Tamils” (just as you in the diaspora do now with your so-called transnational government), and functioned as a government, gathering taxes, maintaining courts and a police force. Why didn’t you picket their countries in the west, why didn’t you stop paying them, why didn’t you call for them to be stopped?

      “At any rate, when did anyone know that the Tamils had the voting power to put RW into Temple Trees? After the election, no, when you saw how close the results were? Looks like you’ll come up with any ridiculous argument to put the diaspora in the wrong.”

      Of course we knew during the campaigning that it was the Western Province and the NE that would swing the result. These were the only constituencies that weren’t swayed by the LTTE aggression, by the JVP and JHU war-drumming. The Tamils were solidly behind RW, because it was the best chance of peace and devolution. MR had made it clear that neither devolution nor negotiation were in his manifesto. Were you living in a cave, Belle? Every commentator since then has acknowledged that VP’s disenfranchisement of the NE Tamils was to enable MR to be elected as president. Why was their not a word of protest from the diaspora?

      • SD

        Dear David, Belle,

        David, another well articulated reply. Belle, I hope you will provide your own reply to it. In fact, I think this deserves to be an article in its own right.

        I suspect that the new threaded interface on groundviews is to blame for some replies being missed. In fact, I’ve more or less fallen back to using RSS feeds so I don’t miss anything.

  • Heshan

    Blacker

    I only claimed there were was no 2001 election by the people of Sri Lanka to elect Ranil, based on anti-war sentiments. You can twist the words all you want, but the original text is there on page 1.

    This is what I wrote:

    “this mindset is understandable considering that there was never any anti-war movement in the South (unless you count the few, largely isolated Jehan Perera types) that sought a peaceful end to the conflict.”

    This is Wijayapala’s response:

    Then how did Ranil win the 2001 election? Did he rig it?

    This is my response:

    I know you have great difficulty with common sense, so let me inform you that after 1978 the Prime Minister is chosen by the President. The election you speak of did not take place.

    Obviously, Wijayapala thinks Ranil was elected because of the anti-war types in the South – in other words, Wujayapala thinks the people elected Ranil. As far as denying whether an election or elections occurred, I only referred to an election , not elections . I’m not sure which government school you went to Blacker, but in 2001, there were elections , not an election .

    Also do you have any evidence (yes links) that prove RW was appointed by CBK, parliament, or anyone else?

    I’ve already provided the Asian Tribune link which states that the PM is chosen by a majority of members in Parliament. If you don’t know how to click on a link, it’s not my problem. Th3 46% you speak of was for the UNP, not for Ranil. I’ve already mentioned the fallacy in assuming UNP = Ranil = PM, because it was perfectly possible for the UNP to choose any member of their party as PM.

    When the majority party in the legislature isn’t that of the executive, the latter cannot decide who the head of the legislature will be as the majority party isn’t obliged to listen to a member of the opposition.

    If by head of legislature you’re referring to the PM, the rest of your statement misses the forest for the trees. By the way, in admitting that the legislature chooses the PM, you’ve also contradicted your earlier absurd claim of Ranil winning 46% of the people’s vote. The Executive can indeed to a certain extent decide who the Prime Minister should be – via the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of new elections, as CBK did to Ranil. The 1978 Constitution turns the PM post into a ceremonial one, whereby the PM is essentially a deputy to the President. There is no way to trump the power of the EP – that is the great folly of the 78′ Constitution. The fact that in 2001 the majority in Parliament was different from the party of the President is an anomaly ; it should not happen with the EP. That’s why even the 1978 Constitution suggests that the PM should be subordinate to the President.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “I’m not sure which government school you went to Blacker, but in 2001, there were elections , not an election . “

      But there was an election, Heshan:

      Wikipedia — “Sri Lankan parliamentary election, 2001″ (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Lankan_parliamentary_election,_2001).
      Manthree.com — <em"2001 – Parliamentary General Election" (http://www.manthree.com/elections/results/?id=2)
      Wordiq — “Sri Lankan legislative election, 2001″ (http://www.wordiq.com/definition/Sri_Lankan_legislative_election,_2001)
      Lankanewspapers — “2001 General Election Results” (http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/election/general_election2001.jsp)

      See? :D There are many more such articles which refer to it as a general election and not elections. [Edited out.] So it can be “A general election result” or “SL held general elections”, it can be “RW’s UNP won the general election of 2001″ or “RW’s UNP won the 2001 general elections”. Do you still want to claim that election and elections have two different meanings? :D

      “Wujayapala thinks the people elected Ranil.”

      So does the rest of the sane world, I’m afraid. Please explain how RW entered parliament if he wasn’t voted there by the people? Did he enter via the national list like Kadirgama?

      “I’ve already provided the Asian Tribune link which states that the PM is chosen by a majority of members in Parliament. If you don’t know how to click on a link, it’s not my problem.”

      No, that isn’t your problem, Heshan; but what is your problem is that that article is dated July 2010! Oops :D The article says “In the latest personification of the future head of state of Sri Lanka in its ongoing constitutional reform saga, the country has now decided to do away with the Executive Presidency altogether and to introduce a hybrid Executive Prime Minister.” Ha ha, they’re not talking about the 2001 elections or the 1978 constitution, [Edited out] but about ongoing reforms of today.

      “If by head of legislature you’re referring to the PM”

      The head of legislature is always the PM, Heshan; no ifs about it.

      “the rest of your statement misses the forest for the trees”

      Only if you don’t know the difference between the legislature and the executive :D

      “By the way, in admitting that the legislature chooses the PM”

      Where did I say that? You claimed that by misquoting that article. Lying again, Heshan? Not very Christian of you, is it. [Edited out.]

      “The Executive can indeed to a certain extent decide who the Prime Minister should be – via the dissolution of Parliament and the calling of new elections, as CBK did to Ranil.”

      Wrong again, Heshan. The president may summon, suspend, or end a legislative session and dissolve Parliament any time after it has served for one year (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Sri_Lanka#Legislative_branch). So if an opposition executive doesn’t like the head of the legislature, he/she can do nothing about it than have a little sulk. Within that impotent year, the legislature which is constitutionally empowered to make all laws could amend the constitution to remove the executive. The executive can pick the head of the legislature only if the majority in the latter is of the same party as the former.

      “There is no way to trump the power of the EP – that is the great folly of the 78? Constitution. The fact that in 2001 the majority in Parliament was different from the party of the President is an anomaly ; it should not happen with the EP. That’s why even the 1978 Constitution suggests that the PM should be subordinate to the President.”

      Wrong yet again, Heshan :D For one year after election of the legislature, it is all powerful, if it chooses to oppose the executive. After one year, the executive has the power to dissolve the legislature and can therefore block laws. The executive can only reign supreme if the legislature is controlled by his/her party which, it is assumed, will stay loyal to the executive. You still know nothing about the SL political system, do you, Heshan?

  • Heshan

    One more point:

    If someone actually thinks that the people elected a majority of UNP into the legislature, just so Ranil could be PM, all I can say is, this is an exercise in futility. The real power still lies with the Executive President.

    • longus

      F-l-a-b-b-e-r-g-a-s-t-i-n-g-…!

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan

      I would first like to say how relieved I am that you ignored rajivmw’s post. Clearly he is jealous of your intellectual prowess. It is true that your friends like renu and Belle have abandoned you but I am always your devoted supporter always encouraging you to write whatever crosses your fancy, regardless of how disconnected with reality it is. I especially enjoy when you get angry and start calling names, although it is a travesty that they get edited out.

      I’m not sure which government school you went to Blacker, but in 2001, there were elections , not an election .

      The official website of the Department of Elections claims that it was an “election”:

      http://www.slelections.gov.lk/composition2001.html

      Apparently in the UK and Singapore it is also referred to as “election”:

      http://www.manchestertoday.com/__n1295912__UK_Parliamentary_General_Election_2010.html
      http://www.elections.gov.sg/elections_past_parliamentary2001.html

      Th3 46% you speak of was for the UNP, not for Ranil.

      But the UNP backed Ranil’s elections platform of holding a ceasefire and entering peace talks with the LTTE. The 46% voted for that platform and that is how Ranil became PM.

      So if the Sinhalese were pro-war, why did they vote the UNP into power in December 2001? You have yet to answer that question.

      The fact that in 2001 the majority in Parliament was different from the party of the President is an anomaly

      Because it proved that the Sinhalese were not pro-war?

      Given that this had happened twice in the history of the 30+ year Constitution, it would be safe to say that it was not an anomaly.

      I’ve already mentioned the fallacy in assuming UNP = Ranil = PM, because it was perfectly possible for the UNP to choose any member of their party as PM.

      Why would the UNP pick anyone else but their leader as the PM? When was the last time they did that?

      There is no way to trump the power of the EP – that is the great folly of the 78? Constitution.

      But that Constitution was created by your hero JR Jayawardene with the backing of nephew Ranil, with the benefit of their Anglican backgrounds. That must mean there is nothing wrong with it.

      The real power still lies with the Executive President.

      Then why were both Chandrika and Ranil so desperate to win the 2001 election, with 1300 incidents of election violence and 60 people killed? It sounds like the stakes had been high, contrary to what you claim.

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    [Edited out.] I see you are very excited about rajivmw’s post. The same rajivmw seems to think the USA is having a prime minister, and the post of prime minister is only a ceremonial one in the UK and India. Therefore, with this logic, all comparisons to Lion Lanka are 100% valid. Unfortunately, I have not yet reached such a state of enlightenment. Though I have been in the USA more than 15 years and the electoral college did not oppose the popular vote even once, no doubt rajivmw is “correct.” Furthermore, I humbly request rajivmw, with his extensive knowledge of all world politics [Edited out] to inform us when the Queen of England will dissolve the UK Parliament.

    But the UNP backed Ranil’s elections platform of holding a ceasefire and entering peace talks with the LTTE. The 46% voted for that platform and that is how Ranil became PM.

    Not only peace, but also the economy was in crisis. RW promised an economic revival. Peace does not mean acceptance! The masses simply gave the UNP a mandate to stop the war for some time and fix the economy. If Ranil had tried to negotiate a federal solution with the LTTE, the kiribath crowd would have taken to the streets in protest.

    Because it proved that the Sinhalese were not pro-war?

    Is that why every President since Independence has been a Sinhala-Buddhist? Could it be because the Sinhalese are not comfortable with a non-Buddhist as President? A President who has the powers of a dictator? Imagine a Christian President with EP backing… it would be colonialism all over again! Wimal would have to fast every day of the year!

    Given that this had happened twice in the history of the 30+ year Constitution, it would be safe to say that it was not an anomaly.

    What is the other occasion in which it happened? I am 99.9% sure you are ignoring the context, as usual.

    But that Constitution was created by your hero JR Jayawardene with the backing of nephew Ranil, with the benefit of their Anglican backgrounds. That must mean there is nothing wrong with it.

    But it took a Sinhala-Buddhist, a true Son of The Soil from Hambantota, to remove the term limits on the Presidency.

    Then why were both Chandrika and Ranil so desperate to win the 2001 election, with 1300 incidents of election violence and 60 people killed? It sounds like the stakes had been high, contrary to what you claim.

    Then why did CBK dissolve the Parliament, with total backing from the Sinhalese side? What happened to Ranil’s CFA… did it annoy the 100% peaceful Sinhalese you mentioned earlier? :)

    • rajivmw

      Dear Heshan,

      “The same rajivmw seems to think the USA is having a prime minister, and the post of prime minister is only a ceremonial one in the UK and India.”

      Please show us where I have stated, or even implied, any such thing.

      “Though I have been in the USA more than 15 years and the electoral college did not oppose the popular vote even once, no doubt rajivmw is ‘correct’.”

      Perhaps you slept through the 2000 US Presidential Election, which is fine, but I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t take the time to read the 3rd para of my post.

      Let me restate the facts for your convenience.

      The Popular Vote:
      Al Gore: 50,999,897 votes
      George W. Bush: 50,456,002 votes

      So Gore beat Bush by over 500,000 votes, correct? And yet, here are the results in the Electoral College:

      George W. Bush: 271 votes
      Al Gore: 266 votes

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2000_US_presidential_election#Results

      It seems clear to me, and to anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of numbers, that in this instance, the electoral college did indeed oppose the popular vote, and that it did indeed occur during your domicile in the US, where presumably you live in an isolated cave.

      “Furthermore, I humbly request rajivmw, with his extensive knowledge of all world politics [Edited out] to inform us when the Queen of England will dissolve the UK Parliament.”

      I have never claimed to be a mindreader Heshan, but what I can tell you is that Her Majesty can dissolve Parliament at a moment of her choosing.

      “One of the monarch’s prerogatives is the dissolution of Parliament, which is ‘perhaps the most important residual prerogative exercised personally be the sovereign, and represents the greatest potential for controversy’.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Prerogative_(United_Kingdom)

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan

      Since you remained silent on my points that Ranil won the 2001 election(s) with the help of Sinhalese who supported a ceasefire and peace talks over war, one can conclude that you wholeheartedly agree with them.

      I see you are very excited about rajivmw’s post.

      Please believe me when I say I am far far more enthralled with your posts. This rajivmw is a nobody.

      The same rajivmw seems to think the USA is having a prime minister, and the post of prime minister is only a ceremonial one in the UK and India.

      I found it far far more unbearable to hear him claim that you are embarrassing your supporters. I am your #1 supporter and am not embarrassed one bit!

      The masses simply gave the UNP a mandate to stop the war for some time and fix the economy.

      So you are agreeing that the masses did not support the war- there were more important things.

      If Ranil had tried to negotiate a federal solution with the LTTE, the kiribath crowd would have taken to the streets in protest.

      Ranil actually did try to negotiate a federal solution and got Balasingham to support it. It was the LTTE who rejected it.

      Is that why every President since Independence has been a Sinhala-Buddhist? Could it be because the Sinhalese are not comfortable with a non-Buddhist as President?

      There have only been five Executive Presidents: JR, Premadasa, Wijetunge, Chandrika, and Mahinda. On the other hand there have been forty-four US Presidents and only one has been non-white and only one other has been non-Protestant. How would you explain that?

      Imagine a Christian President with EP backing… it would be colonialism all over again!

      Can you name a single Christian who contested for the Presidency and lost?

      A President who has the powers of a dictator?

      Are you saying that JR Jayawardene was a dictator? Why did he establish these powers?

      “Given that this had happened twice in the history of the 30+ year Constitution, it would be safe to say that it was not an anomaly.
      What is the other occasion in which it happened?

      1994 when Chandrika won the parliamentary election and became PM while UNP Wijetunge was President. It can happen again if the UNP wins the parliamentary election.

      But it took a Sinhala-Buddhist, a true Son of The Soil from Hambantota, to remove the term limits on the Presidency.

      Does the US Constitution have term limits? How did FDR have four terms?

      Then why did CBK dissolve the Parliament, with total backing from the Sinhalese side?

      Because Ranil utterly failed to hold his election commitment of getting the LTTE to embrace peace.

      • rajivmw

        Dear Wijeyapala,

        In fairness to Heshan, the 22nd Amendment to the US constitution, passed post-FDR in 1951, limits the president to two terms.

  • MV

    Dear Suren,
    I was hoping to get back to you and Blacker on that at some later date.

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear Mv
      thank you for the commitment,

      It is not who wins in a debate but how and for what reason we debate.
      No human can be right at all times. As we progress some things we thoughts as great will be mere child-play foolishness. For this reason I am not shy to say what i think is fair and common ground. If some one convince I am wrong then I edit myself and move on.

      Ego is a self destructing mechanism for the endeavorer of knowledge search as you may have seen in this forum. I am glad you have not joined that, but humble enough to ask more time.

      I have written my ‘minimum common currency’ to restart a democratization process. Will continue to argue for this with both my Sinhala and Thamil friends in Colombo and elsewhere

      I hope you will engage with your Thamil and Sinhala friends to build strong bridges of reconciliation

      best
      SR

  • Heshan

    rajivmw,

    So the electoral college opposed the popular vote by 5 votes? Sounds like a major opposition!:) Apparently, this has occurred only twice in American history:

    The last time the president won the electoral vote without winning the popular vote was in 1888.

    http://americanhistory.about.com/od/elections/p/election2000.htm

    I have never claimed to be a mindreader Heshan, but what I can tell you is that Her Majesty can dissolve Parliament at a moment of her choosing.

    It’s not as simple as that. The Queen is not a dictator, unlike our red-scarfed Majesty.

    “There is no “law” that prevents the Queen from dissolving Parliament. But there is an important constitutional convention that enables the Prime Minister alone to decide the timing of a dissolution and general election and to advise the Queen.

    However, since 1834 there has been no exercise of the personal prerogative in relation to dissolving Parliament. The prevailing view is, therefore, that a constitutional convention now prevents it. The question is whether or not the Queen could act in defiance of that convention. This, in turn, raises the issue — rarely addressed — of the effect of a constitutional convention.

    The short answer to whether the Queen would ever do the unthinkable and dissolve Parliament contrary to the Government’s wishes is that there is, almost certainly, no legal impediment to her doing so. But the constitutional objections against such a course would be likely to prove overwhelming unless there were some constitutional crisis.”

    http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article6329207.ece

    I know you patriots like to excuse the misbehavior of Sri Lankan politicians by pointing to similar examples in the West. But 19th century examples really don’t help your case. Try harder. :)

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “So the electoral college opposed the popular vote by 5 votes? Sounds like a major opposition!:) Apparently, this has occurred only twice in American history:”

      Good golly, Heshan, I thought you simply didn’t understand SL politics, but it looks like you don’t understand American politics either, in spite of the fact that you claim to have lived there your whole life. Don’t you know the difference between the popular vote and the electoral college? :D The electoral college didn’t oppose the popular vote by 5 votes as you claim; George W’s electoral college votes topped Al Gore’s by just 5 votes. That piddly number was “major” enough to turn the popular winner (by over 500,000 actual votes) into the loser. Pretty major isn’t it?

      “I know you patriots like to excuse the misbehavior of Sri Lankan politicians by pointing to similar examples in the West. But 19th century examples really don’t help your case.”

      But Rajivmw brought up a 21st Century example, Heshan — Bush vs Gore; it’s you that brought up the 19th Century One :D Why, Heshan?

      “It’s not as simple as that. The Queen is not a dictator, unlike our red-scarfed Majesty.”

      No one said she was, Heshan, but it was you that suggested the Queen hadn’t the power to dissolve parliament. Besides, MR has never dissolved parliament against its wishes; CBK has.

  • Travelling Academic

    @Agnos,

    You say Tamils in SL have to be pragmatic, but yourself from a safe distance wants to run a campaign against MR, DD and KA. Fine. But shouldn’t some calculations be done on the effect your campaign will have on their pragmatism?
    Why not ask what we can do to help strengthen the pragmatism by which they can build better lives? Why not give their pragmatism a chance?

  • Heshan

    Please explain how RW entered parliament if he wasn’t voted there by the people?

    He was chosen by his own party, as I have explained numerous times already. If you disagree, show me a picture of a 2001 ballet with the words “Ranil Wickremasinghe” on thwm.

    but what is your problem is that that article is dated July 2010!

    Having reading comprehension difficulties, Blacker? I did suggest a remedy for one of your compatriots, but this website was not too fond of it. The date of the article doesn’t really matter as it is talking about a Constitution that was equally relevant in 2001 and 2010, as far as the Prime Minister is concerned. The article clearly says that the PM is not elected by the general public.


    Also, despite being the Executive PM in the pre-1987 constitution, the PM was not directly elected by the general public, but based only on votes of Parliament MPs. ”

    http://wwwbahnhof.asiantribune.com/news/2010/07/19/sri-lanka-re-designs-its-executive-presidency-israeli-style-%E2%80%98executive-pm%E2%80%99

    IF the Prime Minister was already directly elected by the people, there would be no need to have an Executive Prime Minister. The whole point of having an Exec Prime Minister is for the people to choose the PM.

    The head of legislature is always the PM, Heshan; no ifs about it.

    The PM is actually the head of the cabinet. Show me where in the SL Constitution it says the PM is head of the legislature.

    Only if you don’t know the difference between the legislature and the executive

    Or else if you don’t know the difference between a ceremonial post and the powers of the Executive Presidency. :)

    Wrong yet again, Heshan

    Use some common sense, Blacker. What is the probability that given the powers of the EP, the Executive will be from a different party than the majority of the MP’s? With the removal of the term limits on the Presidency, one can easily infer that the Presidency and the top notches of the civil service will be a family business… e.g. the most powerful ministerial portfolios will be shared among a single family/close associates for decades to come, corresponding to the reign of the same President for several decades. So if you are a Minister from the Opposition and you want to implement a public project, good luck with getting funding, as Praba Ganesan mentioned in an interview recently. In simple terms, the Executive is so powerful that an MP has very little incentive to be from the Opposition. The 1 yr window you suggested, if true, is laughable, considering that a President can now stick around for 50 years.

    The electoral college didn’t oppose the popular vote by 5 votes as you claim;

    Actually it did, Blacker. If Gore had won both the popular vote and the electoral vote, then there wouldn’t be any “conflict”, so to speak. On the other hand, the situation is more complicated than simply saying a candidate wins or loses because of the popular vote:


    Currently, the popular vote in each state directs the electors of that state how to cast their vote for president. In most states, whichever candidate wins the popular vote in that state wins all of that state’s electors; but since the manner of choosing a state’s electors is left by the Constitution to each state, different states have different rules. For example, in Maine and Nebraska, the winner does not take all; rather, the candidate who wins the popular vote in each congressional district wins the electoral vote from that congressional district, and the candidate who wins the entire state receives the state’s two remaining electoral votes.

    http://www.chronwatch-america.com/blogs/904/The-Electoral-College-vs-the-Popular-Vote.html

    But Rajivmw brought up a 21st Century example, Heshan — Bush vs Gore; it’s you that brought up the 19th Century

    rajivm seems to be good at finding exotic cases; e.g. the electoral vote and the popular vote have been at odds with each other 4 times in 55 US elections. The problem with exotic cases is that they defy the norm – you cannot use them to define the norm.

    No one said she was, Heshan, but it was you that suggested the Queen hadn’t the power to dissolve parliament.

    The Queen had the power to do a lot more a few hundred years ago; most of those powers have been removed. The remaning ones, such as dissolving Parliament, belong to the “exotic category”; she will never utilize that power – so the question becomes, why talk about something that will never occur? Might as well consider it non-existant .

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “He was chosen by his own party, as I have explained numerous times already. If you disagree, show me a picture of a 2001 ballet with the words “Ranil Wickremasinghe” on thwm.”

      So you’re saying that RW entered parliament not by vote and not by the national list, but by some miraculous appointment by his party? :D This is not constitutionally possible in SL, Heshan. Can you show me a link that states that an individual can enter parliament simply through appointment by his part. All parliamentarians must be elected or enter via the national list. There is no third option. I repeat, please explain how RW entered parliament in 2001 if he wasn’t elected.

      “The date of the article doesn’t really matter as it is talking about a Constitution that was equally relevant in 2001 and 2010″

      But there is no Executive PM in the ’78 constitution nor in any amendments since, Heshan. The only executive post is that of the president. So how can that 2010 article be discussing 2001 events? The article says the country has now decided to do away with the Executive Presidency altogether and to introduce a hybrid “Executive Prime Minister. Does “now” mean back in 2001, Heshan? :D How much deeper are you going to dig this hole, Heshan? Are you now claiming that SL has had an executive PM all these years? Ha ha.

      “IF the Prime Minister was already directly elected by the people, there would be no need to have an Executive Prime Minister. The whole point of having an Exec Prime Minister is for the people to choose the PM.”

      But there isn’t an executive PM in SL, Heshan :D and no one has said that the PM was directly elected to that post, Heshan :D What Rajivmw, Wijayapala, myself, and every other sane person maintains is that RW was elected to parliament, at the head of his party, by the vote of the public, in the full knowledge that he would, as the head of the UNP, be the PM. As Rajivmw has pointed out to you, Tony Blair didn’t run for the office of PM either, but he was voted for as a candidate by the British public, with the full knowledge that as the head of the Labour Party, he would be PM. None of this changes the fact that it was a general election. Do you still deny that there was an election in 2001, Heshan?

      “The PM is actually the head of the cabinet. Show me where in the SL Constitution it says the PM is head of the legislature.”

      Please show me where in the SL constitution it says that the cabinet and the legislature are two different things :D

      “Or else if you don’t know the difference between a ceremonial post and the powers of the Executive Presidency”

      But the PM’s post is ceremonial only if both the PM and the president are of the same party :D I have already shown you where the power balance is in the first year of parliament.

      “What is the probability that given the powers of the EP, the Executive will be from a different party than the majority of the MP’s?”

      Well, kid, there have been only four general elections since the introduction of the executive in 1978. 1989 — UNP won, 1994 — PA won, 2001 — UNP won, and 2010 UPFA won; and of those four legislatures, two of them have faced an executive who was from the opposition, so 2/4 = 1/2 = 50% of the time, dear Heshan, which makes it a very high probability. There have been five executives since 1978, over seven terms, and in two of those terms, the executive has faced a legislature not under its control 2/7 = 1/3.5 = just under 30%. Again, a pretty high probability :D

      “the most powerful ministerial portfolios will be shared among a single family/close associates for decades to come, corresponding to the reign of the same President for several decades.”

      Regardless of portfolios, all parliamentarians will have to stand for election at the next general elections, just as they did last year. The presidential terms have no bearing on the election of the legislature, and if the UNP were to win a majority in the legislature, it would have the option of removing the executive. Still don’t understand how it works, do you? :D

      “The 1 yr window you suggested, if true, is laughable, considering that a President can now stick around for 50 years.”

      Still don’t understand how the SL political structure works, Heshan? :D Jesus. The executive can hang around forever if he likes, but since the legislative term hasn’t been changed, the power of the latter will remain supreme for a year after every general election. Whether that power is exercised will depend on whether the majority in the legislature is of the executive’s party or not. Do you need a another shot at it, Heshan?

      “Actually it did, Blacker.”

      Really? How do you work that out, Heshan? Al Gore’s popular vote was 50,999,897 and ol’ Dubbeyoo’s electoral college was 271 votes. The first thing is that the popular vote isn’t judged against the electoral college, the second is that if it was, the popular would beat the electoral by over 50 million votes. Do explain how the electoral successfully opposed the popular in vote numbers, Heshan :D

      “If Gore had won both the popular vote and the electoral vote, then there wouldn’t be any “conflict”, so to speak. On the other hand, the situation is more complicated than simply saying a candidate wins or loses because of the popular vote”

      But he didn’t did he? He won the popular vote; in other words, he was the people’s choice; George Dubbeyoo wasn’t. So the latter wasn’t elected to the presidency, technically. Of course it’s more complicated than that, which is what you fail to see when you demand that the SL PM must be directly elected into office for it to be termed an election, and which was Rajivmw’s point. Under your logic, Dubbeyoo wasn’t elected either. Have you understood now, or should I draw you a cartoon?

      “rajivm seems to be good at finding exotic cases; e.g. the electoral vote and the popular vote have been at odds with each other 4 times in 55 US elections. The problem with exotic cases is that they defy the norm – you cannot use them to define the norm.”

      The point isn’t how common it is, but whether the law allows it to happen, and in the US case, the law allows that a presidential candidate can be the people’s choice and yet lose the elections! This isn’t some ancient elections but one that happened less than a decade ago. In SL, I have shown you that it is not at all rare (or exotic, as you term it) for the legislature and the executive to be of two opposing parties.

      “The Queen had the power to do a lot more a few hundred years ago. so the question becomes, why talk about something that will never occur? Might as well consider it non-existant.”

      But we’re not talking about a hundred years ago, Heshan :D we’re talking about today, and it was you that brought up the Queen, not Rajivmw, so if it doesn’t matter, why bring it up?

  • Heshan

    *of a 2001 ballot with the words “Ranil Wickremasinghe” on it

  • Heshan

    Blacker logic at its best:


    The Sinhalese population accepts that war crimes might have been committed, but that it was necessary in order to defeat the Tigers who they believe committed far greater crimes

    What were these “far greater crimes..?” Suicide bombing? The number of aerial attacks carried out by the SLAF, that resulted in civilian casualties (whether intentionally or not) far exceeds the number of LTTE suicide attacks. If you took all the LTTE suicide attacks and tried to fit them sequentially into a whole year, there wouldn’t be enough days. :) Or my favorite analogy: one had a better chance of getting hit by a vehicle, while crossing a poorly constructed Colombo intersection, than getting caught to an LTTE suicide bomb. Many months ago, I actually posted traffic data on this forum that backs up my point. Child conscription? That’s a Tamil problem. No Sinhalese children were recruited by the Tigers. Giving the Sinhalese and Muslims in Jaffna 48 hours to leave? Much better than roasting them alive, as in 83.’ Assassinating various politicians? A Buddhist monk did the same thing.. does that give me the right to call the Maha Sangha a terrorist organization.


    The people of Germany and Japan too suffered horrendous war crimes by the Allies, particularly late in WW2, and these injustices have never been addressed

    A little research shows that the majority of these “horrendous Allied war crimes” were committed by the Soviets, currently a good friend of SL’s. The German civilians knew which way to run when Berlin was under siege at the end of the war. :) But I do find it amusing that you would cover up both SL’s and Russia’s war crimes simultaneously. If Russia allowed SL to be investigated, then Chechnya would be on the table. Similarly, China (another good friend of SL) could be investigated for war crimes in Tibet. Similarly, India for its excesses in Kashmir. As I’ve always maintained, if we do a relative comparison, the East outdoes the West 10 to 1, when it comes to bad behavior. Which is why SL always knows who its friends are at the UN.

    • yapa

      Dear Heshan;

      “Or my favorite analogy: one had a better chance of getting hit by a vehicle, while crossing a poorly constructed Colombo intersection, than getting caught to an LTTE suicide bomb.”

      A very good and clever invention for justification of brutal mass killing. This shows that what a clever philosopher you are, just as your favourite Nietzsche. It is said that Hitler could justify killing Jews using Nietzsche, and you are now justifying killing of Sinhalese by Suicide LTTE bombing by diluting it and comparing it with road accidents.

      This is an example for thinking model of “diaspora Tamils” who are looking for justice, expecting justice by justifying brutal killing of civilians of the other party?

      You will get your expected justice going in this path. Ohoma yun! Ohoma yun!!

      Thanks!

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “Blacker logic at its best”

      It’s not about logic, kid, it’s about opinion. And this is neither a new opinion, nor a unique one, in the world. The population of the USA was willing to accept that its armed forces killed as many as a million civilians in the three and a half years that it was involved in WW2, because they felt it was justified in the cause of defeating the far greater perceived evil of Germany and Japan. The fact is the only countries that killed more civilians than the USA in WW2 was Germany and the USSR (both totalitarian regimes), and that is not an enviable bronze medal to hold, but such is the power of propaganda.

      <em"What were these “far greater crimes..?” Suicide bombing? The number of aerial attacks carried out by the SLAF, that resulted in civilian casualties"

      Ah, “Heshan Logic” :D The intentional targeting of civilians is what I’m talking about — the bombings of buses, trains, public places; the attacks on religious sites with the intention of killing clergy and worshipers; the attacks on Sinhalese and Muslim villagers and the driving out of these ethnic groups from the north in order to affect an ethnic cleansing, the use of the Tamil population of the NE as human shields, conscripts, and slave labour, thereby intentionally endangering them, etc. The reasons the LTTE has been classed a terrorist group throughout the world — including the USA — are well documented. Are you ignorant of these reasons, Heshan? In contrast, the GoSL has never intentionally targeted civilians (though there have been occasional criminal acts by the armed forces, as happens in all wars), and any death or injury has been accidental. It is the intentional targeting of civilians as part of its strategy that sets the Tigers apart from the GoSL.

      “Or my favorite analogy: one had a better chance of getting hit by a vehicle, while crossing a poorly constructed Colombo intersection, than getting caught to an LTTE suicide bomb”

      Ah, we finally get down to Heshan’s real agenda — apologizing for the Tigers ;) So what you’re saying is, suicide bombing didn’t kill as many as traffic did, so suicide bombing can’t be really that bad, right? Well in 2002, 145,000 Sri Lankans died of disease, while in the 30 years of the war, “only” 100,000 died (if we’re generous); and of that roughly 50,000 were combatants from one side or the other; leaving a civilian death toll of approximately 50,000. If the 2002 death by disease number of 145,000 is multiplied by 30, we find the non-war-related deaths for the war years to be 4,350,000 or 87 times as much as the war-related deaths for civilians. Heart disease alone killed 28 times as many civilians as the war did! And that’s without even taking into account your “favourite” traffic deaths. So by your “logic”, as stated above, the war really didn’t kill many people, no? Brilliant :D So what’s the fuss?

      “Child conscription? That’s a Tamil problem. No Sinhalese children were recruited by the Tigers.”

      And Tamils don’t matter right? 300,000 Japanese were killed at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but that’s a Japanese problem, right? Were the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust also a Jewish problem? [Edited out.] Do you think you have to just kill Sinhalese to qualify? :D

      “Assassinating various politicians? A Buddhist monk did the same thing.. does that give me the right to call the Maha Sangha a terrorist organization.”

      It would, if the Sanga had ordered the killing of SWRD and hundreds of other individuals, as the LTTE has.

      “A little research shows that the majority of these “horrendous Allied war crimes” were committed by the Soviets, currently a good friend of SL’s.”

      Another sample of the use of Truthiness, which disregards any of the “little research” that you claim to have done ;) [Edited out.] The fact is, in numbers of civilians killed, there isn’t much difference between the numbers killed by the Soviets and those killed by the Americans. The USSR killed 1.2 million German civilians, while
      the US killed 1 million German and Japanese civilians. This is the nation you hold up as a shining example of human rights, Heshan? ROFLMAO.

      “As I’ve always maintained, if we do a relative comparison, the East outdoes the West 10 to 1, when it comes to bad behavior.”

      Oh, I look forward to that comparison, Heshan. Please do include numbers and percentages ;)

    • rajivmw

      Dear Heshan,

      There’s no reason to carry on with this. It is abundantly clear that, contrary to your startling assertion (‘the election you speak of did not take place’), there WAS a general election in 2001, and that Ranil Wickramesinghe WAS elected as Prime Minister by the people, in much the same way as were David Cameron, Angela Merkel, and Manmohan Singh.

      All these feeble attempts at goalpost moving (‘you cannot use exotic cases’), ludicrous splitting of hairs (‘I only referred to an election , not elections’), and absurd non-sequiturs (‘the queen is not a dictator’) only provide further proof that you were WRONG, and you – as always – refuse to admit it.

      Heshan, I feel I must let you in on something which you seem not to have realized. Just because you are English-speaking, a Christian, and living in America, it does not automatically make you wiser or more knowledgeable or morally superior to anybody else. It does not exempt you from the rules of logic in your arguments, from the need for accuracy in your proclamations, or from just plain decent manners. You may think you’re being witty with your snide asides about government schools, for example, but it actually paints a rather unbecoming portrait of your character.

      As far I can see, your contributions on groundviews amount to little more than an airing of quaint missionary-school prejudices and simple-minded snobbery, made all the more amusing by howling factual errors (no election in 2001, Japan doesn’t have a military, North Korea is not a member of the UN, etc, etc.), delivered with the straight-faced conviction of a stand-up comedian. Except that a comedian knows full well that he’s just playing the fool.

  • Agnos

    TA,

    Pragmatism doesn’t mean appeasement of evil. It simply means that sometimes you have to shake hands with evil and work with it, fully knowing that circumstances have forced you to deal with evil, but that one day the evil will face justice.

    It does not mean misrepresenting pure evil as good, or simply hoping that if you don’t make the evil angry and don’t say anything even as it devours your kith and kin, it will somehow suddenly transform into good.

    Do you think the kind of pragmatism you advocate, being silent about evil and sucking up to it, has prevented the evil from murdering more lives? Do you think the current murders in Jaffna have anything to do with Diaspora activism? When I call some people “pure evil” they are just that; they will continue to abduct and murder people, no matter what the Diaspora does, until they are stopped somehow.

    Though there is no sure way of stopping such evil right now, Diaspora activism can hasten the process of their self-destruction, if not destruction. Sooner or later, such activism will indeed help the people.

    That you, an academic, expect free people in faraway countries to stop telling the truth or campaigning for justice, in order to appease pure evil, shows what the brutal regime and its apologists in forums such as this, have done to the psyche of the Tamil people within SL.

    • Travelling Academic

      Agnos,

      We have seen these arguments before: “you appease, I want to get justice, sooner or later”, is precisely what the Tiger fund-raiser told me in London in 1985. And where did that get us? I do think that the chances of the Tamils in Sri Lanka rebuilding their lives — starting from shaking hands and working together — are diminished by the Diaspora actions I have seen.

      I also believe that a more productive path is to work with progressives amongst the Sinhalese, who are also affected by the current trends of heavily centralized power, systematic removal of democratic institutions, violence, corruption etc. In my travels I have met many of them, and know that their political stance is made weaker by all this flag-waving and remote-government-forming. Working towards a common goal might even increase the chances of a government change in SL.

      Disowning everything that the Tigers stood for, building bridges with Sinhala people as a bottom up process and talking about common issues that need to be addressed, are likely to give Tamils in Sri Lanka a better life than the idiotic noises I hear from the Diaspora — most, if not all, of their ideas have been tried and failed. 25 years of “you appease, I am after justice” and what do we have? A speech in favour of the Tamils from David Milliband??

    • Krish

      Agnos

      My question to you is,

      1. What exactly are the Tamils supposed to do now that LTTE is history?
      2. Should the Tamil people engage in good relations with SL Government (and by extension the majority Sinhala people) and rebuild North? If not, what do you propose. Rather, how exactly should Tamil people in the north move from here?

      I am interested in your perspectives as to what should happen in the future more than what has happened so far. What has happened has happened. But how do you overcome that? Please let us hear your view point. TA’s thoughts are clear to me. That’s why!

      best wishes
      Krish

      • Suren Raghavan

        @ Krish & Agnos,

        Just to add to your worthy comments, I have put forward simple 5 points (in reply to David Blaker and MV)for both Sinhalas and Thamils. 5 minimum common ground requests for meaningful reconciliations.

        Would like to ask you thoughts. Do you think they are feasible?
        if yes, how shall we proceed? if not, why and what are other alternatives?

        that is the basic nature and aim of my essay here. A healthy debate on how shall we work for a tomorrow where all our nations could live with respect,dignity and peace? or as some suggest and advocate a plurination democracy is not possible in modern SL?

        best

  • wijayapala

    Dear yapa,

    What do you think about Dushiyanthini’s articles on Tamils in Jaffna- Thenuja Tharmeshwaran, Velupillai Yesupalan, and Arumugam Varatharajan? We can discuss it in one of those threads instead of here.

    • yapa

      Dear wijayapala/Groundviews;

      I was thinking about the present trend of of publishing articles in the Groundviews. Rather than paying attention towards individual articles, I feel like to draw concerns towards this new pattern and the whole is more important. Please go through the recent articles, I may be wrong, but I feel like the trend is a bit biased towards Tamils and against the interests of Sinhalese and Buddhists. Giving a place to Kusal Perera’s “Nihilistic” article and banning longus from writing to the forum, I think some of the indicators of the trend. I think the present trend is making a advantageous platform for those who want to crush the interests of Sinhalese and Buddhists in an unfair manner. Those articles themselves lifts Tamil side to a higher place so that even to match them in a debate, others have to spend and waste a lot of energy and in this created situation Tamil ideologies can fight easily. I feel like Groundviews is making a biased advantageous ground (may be unknowingly)for one party to easily fight out the other.

      Preparation of pitch can make a lot of differences in a cricket match. I think Groundview will give a thought to this.

      Thanks!

      • Krish

        Dear Yapa,

        Just a response to your post. I haven’t interacted with you before I guess, but in any case, if you are interested to answer my questions, here is my observation and then questions to you to answer. Please respond if you can!

        First of all, I don’t agree with banning longus. His views may not be very centric or neutral but if this is a forum of discussion, then his views should be heard as well. Frankly, if anyone is provocative, it is Heshan. He uses strong words both in describing Sinhalese, Buddhists or most SL leaders. I am not sure if you should polarise every debate by using words like “Sinhalese chauvinists”, “Kiribath fellows” etc etc. And some folks tend to use “Tamils” and “Tigers” interchangeably, which is a thin line to cross in SL context but makes a big difference.

        If I may ask you, why do you feel that groundviews is giving more space to Tamils or their viewpoints than those of Sinhalese? Can you give us more details of your concerns, say for example, the tone or the content itself. I am interested in your viewpoints.

      • yapa

        Dear Krish;

        Though we have not interacted directly, I enjoy your incisive, informative and argument packed posts very much. You do an incomparable contribution especially giving us the Indian perspective of the issues and providing with subtle, valid and relevant details. Your contribution in other aspects too are immense, I should say.

        With regard to your questions, I also cannot agree with banning longus from the forum, though it was I who used to rigorously fight against him in a debate. I don’t think anybody fought that hard with him, where we used to call various names to each other. However,I would again like to request the Groundviews to let him too contribute in his own style, may be at least with some limitations in the part of some discipline in using words.

        Really I am not very sure Groundviews is biased to Tamils, it was just a guess of mine. In the recent past I felt so and I expressed my honest concerns about it. There may not be such a thing and I may be wrong or it may have taken place (if happened so) due to some mistakes, I really cannot say it is a purposeful or calculated thing even if it took place. I think it is not fair to say so. I think I did my duty by informing what I felt to the authority and I think it is their duty to take remedial action, if they think some deficiency is there. I think it is more suitable not to guess the cause, especially when the appropriate person/authority is available.

        Thanks for your response and I always enjoy your writing.

        Thanks!

  • Heshan

    Blacker,


    So you’re saying that RW entered parliament not by vote and not by the national list, but by some miraculous appointment by his party? :D This is not constitutionally possible in SL, Heshan. Can you show me a link that states that an individual can enter parliament simply through appointment by his part.

    I’ve asked you to show me a ballot with the words “Ranil Wickremasinghe” on it, if you think Ranil was elected by the people of SL.


    All parliamentarians must be elected or enter via the national list. There is no third option. I repeat, please explain how RW entered parliament in 2001 if he wasn’t elected.

    I repeat, show me a ballot with the words “Ranil Wickremasinghe” on it, if you think Ranil was elected by the people of SL.

    But there is no Executive PM in the ’78 constitution nor in any amendments since, Heshan. The only executive post is that of the president. So how can that 2010 article be discussing 2001 events? The article says the country has now decided to do away with the Executive Presidency altogether and to introduce a hybrid “Executive Prime Minister. Does “now” mean back in 2001, Heshan? :D How much deeper are you going to dig this hole, Heshan? Are you now claiming that SL has had an executive PM all these years? Ha ha.

    Where did I say there is an Executive PM? The article talks about a need for an Executive PM. The Executive PM is elected directly by the people, as opposed to being appointed by his party.


    But there isn’t an executive PM in SL, Heshan…

    Go back and read… you missed the word “IF.”

    Please show me where in the SL constitution it says that the cabinet and the legislature are two different things :D

    First show me where it says the PM is head of the legislature, as you claimed.

    “Or else if you don’t know the difference between a ceremonial post and the powers of the Executive Presidency”


    But the PM’s post is ceremonial only if both the PM and the president are of the same party :D I have already shown you where the power balance is in the first year of parliament.

    Nonsense. The PM post is ceremonial from start to finish. If you disagree, show me in the Sri Lankan Constitution where it says the Executive has to wait one year to overrule the PM. That is total hogwash.

    “What is the probability that given the powers of the EP, the Executive will be from a different party than the majority of the MP’s?”

    Well, kid, there have been only four general elections since the introduction of the executive in 1978. 1989 — UNP won, 1994 — PA won, 2001 — UNP won, and 2010 UPFA won; and of those four legislatures, two of them have faced an executive who was from the opposition, so 2/4 = 1/2 = 50% of the time, dear Heshan, which makes it a very high probability. There have been five executives since 1978, over seven terms, and in two of those terms, the executive has faced a legislature not under its control 2/7 = 1/3.5 = just under 30%. Again, a pretty high probability :D

    I am not inclined to believe your statistics unless you can provide links.


    Regardless of portfolios, all parliamentarians will have to stand for election at the next general elections, just as they did last year. The presidential terms have no bearing on the election of the legislature, and if the UNP were to win a majority in the legislature, it would have the option of removing the executive. Still don’t understand how it works, do you? :D

    You’re actually suggesting the legislature can keep the Executive in check… hahaha, then why are there 70 Rajapakse’s in the civil service? Why do the Rajapakse’s control 70% of the nation’s budget between themselves and their portfolios?

    Still don’t understand how the SL political structure works, Heshan? :D Jesus. The executive can hang around forever if he likes, but since the legislative term hasn’t been changed, the power of the latter will remain supreme for a year after every general election. Whether that power is exercised will depend on whether the majority in the legislature is of the executive’s party or not. Do you need a another shot at it, Heshan?

    No idea where you came up with this 1 yr nonsense. Link?

    “Actually it did, Blacker.”

    Really? How do you work that out, Heshan? Al Gore’s popular vote was 50,999,897 and ol’ Dubbeyoo’s electoral college was 271 votes. The first thing is that the popular vote isn’t judged against the electoral college, the second is that if it was, the popular would beat the electoral by over 50 million votes. Do explain how the electoral successfully opposed the popular in vote numbers, Heshan :D

    You missed the part that said the “electoral vote usually follows the popular vote.” So you can’t make the claim that Gore lost the election just because he got 500K more popular votes but not enough electoral votes. That may be superficially true, but its not the whole story.


    But he didn’t did he? He won the popular vote; in other words, he was the people’s choice; George Dubbeyoo wasn’t. So the latter wasn’t elected to the presidency, technically. Of course it’s more complicated than that,

    Contradicting yourself again. Good job.

    The point isn’t how common it is, but whether the law allows it to happen, and in the US case, the law allows that a presidential candidate can be the people’s choice and yet lose the elections!

    Once again, that’s only if you assume the popular vote and the electoral vote are opposed. If you took the electoral vote away, the election would be easily decided by the states with the largest populations. The electoral vote simply corrects this imbalance.


    This isn’t some ancient elections but one that happened less than a decade ago. In SL, I have shown you that it is not at all rare (or exotic, as you term it) for the legislature and the executive to be of two opposing parties.

    Yes, with your rather absurd claim of a 1 yr window. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that any major proposal like the CFA would require 2 or 3 years of just negotiations, excluding any implementations.


    But we’re not talking about a hundred years ago, Heshan :D we’re talking about today, and it was you that brought up the Queen, not Rajivmw, so if it doesn’t matter, why bring it up?

    If the Queen tries to dissolve Parliament, there is a 100% chance she will fail. Get it? Got it? Good.

    • rajivmw

      Dear Heshan,

      The Executive PM is elected directly by the people, as opposed to being appointed by his party.

      Can you name me a single major Parliamentary democracy where the Prime Minister is directly elected by the people?

      I’ve asked you to show me a ballot with the words “Ranil Wickremasinghe” on it, if you think Ranil was elected by the people of SL.

      Ranil Wickremasinghe’s name was on the ballot in the Colombo district. I know this because (a) I voted for him, and (b) he received the highest number of preferential votes in the Colombo district.

      http://www.slelections.gov.lk/pdf/preference2001GE.pdf

      I would show you the ballot Heshan, but I carelessly tossed it into the ballot box on my way out.

      The PM post is ceremonial from start to finish.

      If that’s the case Heshan, then how did Ranil negotiate and sign the CFA?

      “Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was able to appoint his own cabinet and he had the actual control over the government. President Chandrika Kumaratunga also chaired cabinet meetings as de facto head, but her influence over decision making was strictly limited.”

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranil_Wickremasinghe

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “I repeat, show me a ballot with the words “Ranil Wickremasinghe” on it, if you think Ranil was elected by the people of SL.”

      :D Repeating delusions won’t make them real, Heshan. I told you that there are only two ways an individual can enter parliament: by election or via the national list. RW entered parliament in 2001, that is fact (or do you deny this happened too, as you deny there was an election?). If you claim he did not enter parliament by the only two constitutional (read legal) methods available, you need to explain how he did so, by suggesting a third method, and proving it, not by asking me to prove what is already known. Can you for example show a ballot with any of the other UNP cabinet ministers and MPs? If you can’t, that must mean they were not elected either. Lol. So I repeat, how did RW enter parliament if you say he wasn’t elected and there was no election? How did the UNP form a government without an election? Did they stage a coup? :D

      “Where did I say there is an Executive PM? The article talks about a need for an Executive PM. The Executive PM is elected directly by the people, as opposed to being appointed by his party.”

      :D Getting tangled up again, Heshan? No one denied that an exec PM might be directly elected (though that too has never been confirmed and now never will be), nor that RW stood for a PM election. What all of the sane commentators on this blog know is that RW stood for election in 2001 with all the other candidates in a general election. You deny this but cannot suggest any alternate method of entering parliament :D You also first claimed that CBK appointed RW, but again cannot show any evidence of that :D Then you claimed that his cabinet elected him, but again can’t show any evidence of it :D

      “Go back and read… you missed the word “IF.””

      But we’re not interested in ifs, Heshan; only the facts. So do you claim there was no general election in 2001? Ha ha!

      “First show me where it says the PM is head of the legislature, as you claimed.”

      Here you go: The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka is the functional head of the Cabinet of Sri Lanka. (http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Minister_of_Sri_Lanka?wasRedirected=true). So if you claim the PM isn’t the head of the legislature, prove to us that the cabinet is separate from the legislature. Now Heshan while this is all very interesting, how does it back up your claim that there was no general election in 2001 and that RW was never elected to parliament?

      “Nonsense. The PM post is ceremonial from start to finish. If you disagree, show me in the Sri Lankan Constitution where it says the Executive has to wait one year to overrule the PM. That is total hogwash.”

      :D Here you go: the President shall not thereafter dissolve Parliament until the expiration of a period of one year from the date of such General Election, unless Parliament by resolution requests the President to dissolve Parliament. Also, subject to the provisions of sub-paragraph (d), the President shall not dissolve Parliament after the Speaker has entertained a resolution complying with the requirements of sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph (2) of Article 38 (http://www.priu.gov.lk/Cons/1978Constitution/Chapter_11_Amd.html). In other words, the executive cannot dissolve the legislature in the face of an impeachment or no confidence motion. Any other things you need proof of, Heshan, like the law of gravity perhaps? :D

      “I am not inclined to believe your statistics unless you can provide links.”

      Whoops, my apologies, kid, I forgot the 2000 and 2004 elections. So there’ve been six general elections since the introduction of the executive. So in fact the legislature has been opposed by an executive 1/3 or 33% of the time, but what’s really interesting is that there has been a change in the ruling party only thrice since ’78 (1994, 2001, and 2004) and on all three occasions the executive has faced a hostile cabinet before or after the elections. So according to stats the chances of an executive presiding over a change of government being faced with a hostile legislature in his or her term is 100%. Pretty compelling, eh, Heshan?

      Now what do you want links for; the fact that there have been six general elections; three changes of government; five executives; or seven executive terms since ’78? :D What’s the matter, cat got your google?

      “You’re actually suggesting the legislature can keep the Executive in check… hahaha, then why are there 70 Rajapakse’s in the civil service? Why do the Rajapakse’s control 70% of the nation’s budget between themselves and their portfolios?”

      On the first part of your question, yes, and I’ve provided you with the evidence in the constitution. For a hostile legislature to depose or control the executive, it must impeach, or change the constitution to remove or weaken the executive. After one year, the chance is lost. In answer to the second part, peabrain, it’s because one party controls both the executive and the legislature.

      “You missed the part that said the “electoral vote usually follows the popular vote.” So you can’t make the claim that Gore lost the election just because he got 500K more popular votes but not enough electoral votes.”

      Usually doesn’t matter, Heshan; what matters is what happened. Gore was elected by the people but Dubbeyoo became president. So was it an election, Heshan, or wasn’t it?

      “Contradicting yourself again. Good job.”

      Only if you misqoute me.

      “Once again, that’s only if you assume the popular vote and the electoral vote are opposed.”

      There’s no need to assume anything, Heshan, that’s exactly what happened in Bush vs Gore.

      “If you took the electoral vote away, the election would be easily decided by the states with the largest populations. The electoral vote simply corrects this imbalance.”

      So you admit that the US doesn’t have a one person = one vote system? Do you now see that it is questionable whether that is really democratic?

      “Yes, with your rather absurd claim of a 1 yr window. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that any major proposal like the CFA would require 2 or 3 years of just negotiations, excluding any implementations.”

      Absurd or not it’s in the constitution. So have a little sob. Constitutions aren’t created to fit party agendas such as CFAs etc. If RW wanted control for longer he should have managed CBK better, the media, and the Tigers, all of whom ensured negotiations dragged on. CBK herslf didn’t oppose negotiations or a federal system, but Tiger terrorism changed the mood of the population against RW and she acted.

      “If the Queen tries to dissolve Parliament, there is a 100% chance she will fail. Get it? Got it? Good.”

      Since she has never tried it’s a moot point. Which is why I asked you why you brought it up.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Also, though it would be impractical for the legislature to attempt punitive constitutional change against the executive after the one year window, it can still take action via an impeachment as long as it does so well within its term. In addition, even if one party controls both executive and legislature, the opposition can force a dissolution of the latter by enticing ruling party parliamentarians to cross over, creating a hung parliament as happened in 2000.

  • Heshan

    Dear rajivmw, The problem with your three examples is that
    neither England nor Germany nor India have a President. The Prime
    Minister – in these three nations – is indeed the head of state. In
    other words, the Prime Minister doesn’t campaign for a ceremonial
    post – he/she campaigns to be the leader of given nation, with
    actual powers. Indeed, your exotic cases
    amount to nothing. Exotic cases don’t indicate any pattern of
    significance. Ever seen a bell-curve? The exotic cases would lie at
    the end points (fringes) of the curve. You cannot use them to infer
    any characteristics about the average (mean). Heshan, I
    feel I must let you in on something which you seem not to have
    realized. Just because you are English-speaking, a Christian, and
    living in America, it does not automatically make you wiser or more
    knowledgeable or morally superior to anybody else. It does not
    exempt you from the rules of logic in your arguments, from the need
    for accuracy in your proclamations, or from just plain decent
    manners. You may think you’re being witty with your snide asides
    about government schools, for example, but it actually paints a
    rather unbecoming portrait of your character.
    No doubt
    you believe in Jathika Chinthanaya, Mahinda Chinthanaya, home-grown
    solutions, 10% commissions, and Meryvn Silva type justice. I am
    sure all of the previous are far far superior to English,
    Christianity, and America… that is why, elsewhere in this forum,
    I have thrown out the challenge to all Sons of The Soil. Now that
    the world’s most brutal terrorist organization has been defeated in
    a “humanitarian operation” carried out by the Sons of The Soil,
    with ZERO civilian casualties, Sri Lanka should move to the next
    level. Whether that means Sri Lanka becomes a global superpower and
    HE Mahinda becomes Emperor of the World, I know not… but PLEASE
    PLEASE demonstrate your capabilities to the world. Please take a
    few of the Blessed Ones to Oxford Union and stage a fast… it
    worked in 56′ when that Christian scoundrel SWRD was about to give
    in to the demalas. It worked when the Norwegians were in bed with
    traitor Ranil. Take the war to the sudda’s! May the Tripe Gem guide
    you. :)

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan

      As you did not respond to my post on Jan 8 @4:19am, I take that as you conceding defeat. I graciously accept.

      The problem with your three examples is that neither England nor Germany nor India have a President. The Prime Minister – in these three nations – is indeed the head of state.

      Wrong. In the UK the king or queen is the head of state.

      Here’s the German President (again head of state):
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_President

      and the Indian (also head of state):
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_president

      Should we treat all your posts in the category of “elections” vs “election”? ;-)

    • rajivmw

      Dear Heshan,

      Please, I beg of you, stop doing this to yourself.

      Dear rajivmw, The problem with your three examples is that
      neither England nor Germany nor India have a President.

      Germany has a President. His name is Christian Wulff.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Wulff

      India has a President. Her name is Pratibha Patel.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pratibha_Devisingh_Patil

      The Prime Minister – in these three nations – is indeed the head of state.

      The Prime Minister is NOT the Head of State in ANY of these nations.

      “Elizabeth II (Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, born 21 April 1926)[N 1] is the reigning queen and head of state of…the United Kingdom”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_elizabeth_ii

      “The President of Germany is Germany’s head of state.”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_Germany

      “The President of India… is the head of state and first citizen of India”
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_India

      This and the rest of your comment pretty much confirm what I previously said about your logic, accuracy and manners. In addition to being deficient in all of these things, you also seem to be lacking a sense of irony! God bless.

  • Heshan

    Blacker,

    The population of the USA was willing to accept that its armed forces killed as many as a million civilians in the three and a half years that it was involved in WW2, because they felt it was justified in the cause of defeating the far greater perceived evil of Germany and Japan. The fact is the only countries that killed more civilians than the USA in WW2 was Germany and the USSR (both totalitarian regimes), and that is not an enviable bronze medal to hold, but such is the power of propaganda.

    Hahaha. Didn’t I say I don’t trust your statistics, unless you can provide links? The above paragraph provides ample enough evidence. The JAPANESE alone killed 23 million Chinese civilians. I have no idea how many Vietnamese, Burmese, Filipinos, Laotians, and Koreans they killed. Other than the bombing of Dresden, what evidence do you have that the Americans indiscriminately killed civilians during WWII? As for your Holy Grail, the atom bomb, it was only dropped after the Japanese REFUSED to surrender. Also, the atom bomb was simply financed by the USA; the actual construction was done by dozens of foreign scientists. Also, I have read Hitler’s architect Speer – who was in charge of armaments production – say that if Germany had had an atom bomb, Hitler would not have hesitated to use it. Let’s imagine a scenario where Germany lent such a bomb to its partner, Japan. That’s right, you would be speaking Japanese today and a good portion of your female relations would likely be comfort women for the Japanese military.

    Ah, “Heshan Logic” :D The intentional targeting of civilians is what I’m talking about — the bombings of buses, trains, public places; the attacks on religious sites with the intention of killing clergy and worshipers; the attacks on Sinhalese and Muslim villagers and the driving out of these ethnic groups from the north in order to affect an ethnic cleansing, the use of the Tamil population of the NE as human shields, conscripts, and slave labour, thereby intentionally endangering them, etc. The reasons the LTTE has been classed a terrorist group throughout the world — including the USA — are well documented.

    The Sri Lankan military was also (and still is) able to intentionally target civilians. Why else would there be a press censorship? Read the latest Wikileaks cables on SL, Blacker? Apparently, the EPDP as well as Karuna’s gang were given a free hand by Gothabaya Rajapakse to recruit children, run brothels, and engage in kidnappings. I can’t verify the accuracy of the following, but it demonstrates the collusion between criminal paramilitaries and the Sri Lankan military:


    At the High Security Mannaar city entrance to the bridge linking, the armed men in the white van were stopped by the military and police around 7:40 p.m. Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy and Police personnel were manning the post. Four three-wheelers, in which the relatives of Jazeel were chasing the white van also reached the post. But, the military, navy and police who surrounded the vehicle of the abductors withdrew from the site after seeing a piece of paper which was shown to them by the abductors. Chaos prevailed as relatives and men who followed the white-van started to protest at the site, which is opposite the Court complex in the city. The abductors then chose to take the mother of Jazeel with them and crossed over the bridge to the mainland.

    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=33340

    So what you’re saying is, suicide bombing didn’t kill as many as traffic did, so suicide bombing can’t be really that bad, right?

    What I’m saying is that the Sri Lankan Government brainwashed the Sinhalese, via a censored press, into thinking that the Tigers were subhumans. Unsurprisingly, the Tamils also became associated with the Tigers. This is why there was never any anti-war movement worth speaking of, in SL. This is why no political solution has been found for the Tamil Question, despite a two-yearlapse since the end of the war. Basically, the Sinhalese answer to the Tamil request for fair play has been: “we will give you nothing” for 60 years. Suicide bombs are a direct result of the failure of the democratic process, whereby Tamils can express their grievances peacefully, to materialize.

    And Tamils don’t matter right?

    Why don’t you tell the Sri Lankan Army to stop occupying schools.. how about pulling the high security zones out of the tens of thousands of prime farmland in Wanni and Jaffna? Ever stop to imagine how a schoolgirl must feel having to stop at a checkpoint everyday and show an identity card to people who neither understand her language nor culture, nor have any viable stake in her future, save perhaps to potentially murder her friends and family in cold blood, should the occassion arise? You act as if GOSL has given these people a future… we saw what GOSL REALLY thinks of them – throw them in tin shacks behind barbed wire, let the UN feed them, and throw kiribath parties in the South! I mentioned the cemeteries in the other thread – these people are not allowed to let a simple temple bell ring on Heroes Day.

    The USSR killed 1.2 million German civilians, while
    the US killed 1 million German and Japanese civilians

    Once again, your stats are way off the margin. 2 million German civilians were killed after the war alone, by the Soviets. 90,000 German women were raped when the Soviets invaded Berlin. To give another example of Soviet brutality, 91,000 men of Sixth Army surrendered at Stalingrad, but only 6,000 ever returned home. Trying to say that the Americans were more brutal than the Soviets is totally laughable. Do you have any idea who Stalin was, Blacker? He was a dictator. More than 60 million people died because of him, and he was no fan of the Germans.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Lol more of Prof Heshans “statistics”: “Hahaha. Didn’t I say I don’t trust your statistics, unless you can provide links? The above paragraph provides ample enough evidence. The JAPANESE alone killed 23 million Chinese civilians.”

      Really, Heshan? Do provide a link to prove the above claim :D I on the other hand already given you links. Didn’t check them did you? Lol. In fact the Japanese killed 4 million Chinese, not 23 million as you claim. Here’s the link again since you missed it in your…er… “research”: http://users.erols.com/mwhite28/warstat1.htm

      “I have no idea how many Vietnamese, Burmese, Filipinos, Laotians, and Koreans they killed.”

      Yes we know :D You also have no idea how many Chinese they killed either lol. Fyi they killed 4 million East Indians and 2 million Indochinese. Of other nationalities, they didn’t kill more than 200,000. So congratulations, Heshan, the only countries to kill more civilians than the US were totalitarian regimes; the enemy.

      “Other than the bombing of Dresden, what evidence do you have that the Americans indiscriminately killed civilians during WWII?”

      Lol I’ve already linked you to evidence that the USAAF killed 100,000 civilians and displaced a million in just one bombing raid on Tokyo. I’ve quoted US generals who point out that the American leadership was “innured to the mass killing of civilians”. I’ve also provided you with the sources. Do read my responses before dumbly repeating the same questions, Heshan. It makes you look foolish.

      “As for your Holy Grail, the atom bomb, it was only dropped after the Japanese REFUSED to surrender.”

      Heshan, I’ve already provided you with links that show that Japan attempted to surrender EIGHT TIMES in 1945, many months before the atom bombs. I’ve quoted both MacArthur and Eisenhower as saying the atom bombs were unnecessary. Why do you persist in displaying your stupidity, kid?

      “Also, the atom bomb was simply financed by the USA; the actual construction was done by dozens of foreign scientists.”

      Ha ha ha one more Heshanism to join the long lineup: North Korea isn’t in the UN, Japan doesn’t have a military, no election in 2001, and now this :D Are you sure you wanna stand by that? Cos in the next few days, cruel guys like myself and Wijayapala are gonna have a lot of fun with you! The atom bombs, Prof Heshan were developed by the US government, who employed a team of scientists headed by American Oppenheimer. Any foreign scientists were in the employ of the US. And when the bombs had been tested, they were dropped by Americans of the USAAF, flying American planes :) Do you really wanna go down this new tunnel now that your theory about there not being any elections in 2001 has been buried along with your credibility?

      “The Sri Lankan military was also (and still is) able to intentionally target civilians.”

      Ability isn’t proof of guilt. You are able to rape a woman. Are you a rapist? Wikileaks isn’t proof; it’s just a person’s opinion voiced in a cable. And you’re quoting Tamilnet? :D Should I quote Tamilnet.tv?

      “What I’m saying is that the Sri Lankan Government brainwashed the Sinhalese, via a censored press, into thinking that the Tigers were subhumans.”

      As do all governments in wartime. The US made the Japanese into Japs, Nips, and Slopes; the Germans into Krauts; so that a million of their women and children could be killed without a word of protest. They made the Vietnamese into Gooks and Zipperheads, so that hundreds of thousands of them could be napalmed, bombed, and simply machine-gunned into ditches. And even today, the Iraqis are Ragheads and Sand Niggers so that as many as a hundred thousand could be killed without worry; their countries are called “dumps” (your words, Heshan) so that no one will care that they are being looted and raped. That’s war.

      “This is why there was never any anti-war movement worth speaking of, in SL.”

      Wrong again, Heshan. The Sudu Nelum movement and other groups have been active in SL. In contrast there has been no similar anti-war movement either in the NE or amongst the Tamil diaspora.

      “This is why no political solution has been found for the Tamil Question, despite a two-yearlapse since the end of the war.”

      The political solution is already there: the 13th Amendment. Implementation is what’s needed, and this needs to be done.

      “Suicide bombs are a direct result of the failure of the democratic process, whereby Tamils can blah blah”

      Yes, yes, and Hitler was a direct result of the Versailles Treaty, but the Nazis were still wrong.

      “Why don’t you tell the Sri Lankan Army to stop occupying schools blah blah”

      Oh boo hoo. When you go to war, you shouldn’t lose. Losing means things get tough for awhile until it gets better.

      “2 million German civilians were killed after the war alone, by the Soviets. 90,000 German women were raped when the Soviets invaded Berlin. To give another example of Soviet brutality blah blah”

      First of all, we were comparing what happened during the war here to what happened during WW2; so what happened after doesn’t count, so it’s still 1 million to 1.2 million. Second, please do show me proof of these 2 million German civilians killed after the war. Third, the only justification you have of America’s mass murder is to point to a totalitarian state and say “ooh, they were worse”. Bit pathetic, no?

      “Do you have any idea who Stalin was, Blacker? “

      Do you have any idea who Roosevelt was, Heshan? He killed a million civilians. Do you know who LBJ was? He killed a million more. Ever heard of George Dubbeyoo? He killed over 100,000. And Obama? We’re still counting, Heshan.

  • Heshan

    rajivmw,

    Thanks for posting the data regarding the 2001 election. However, the data presents a new dilemma. It seems as if Ranil only ran for office from the Colombo district. When you ask if the majority of people of Sri Lanka voted for Ranil Wickremasinghe, what is the weight carried by a single district? Is a single district representative of the country as a whole? Let’s look at this another way:

    1999 Presidential Election: RANIL WICKREMASINGHE, LOSS

    2005 Presidential Election: RANIL WICKREMASINGHE, LOSS

    So, let me rephrase my question: why can’t Ranil Wickremasinghe win a Presidential election? Which is the same as asking, why can’t Ranil win the majority of votes in the country? Of course, if you think the Colombo district is inclusive of the whole country – from Tangalle to Jaffna – then its a different story. If you also think a Parliamentary election is equivalent to a Presidential election, whereby the leader of said party is chosen to be PM in the former – then its a different story. Let me summarize by point: you cannot use a parliamentary election to evaluate the aspirations of an entire nation. So my original point stands: the majority of people in Sri Lanka did not elect Ranil W to be PM . Ranil simply won the Colombo district, and for some reason or another (most likely because he was leader of the Party), was chosen to be PM by his own party.

    P.S: I will answer your other questions another time.

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan,

      you cannot use a parliamentary election to evaluate the aspirations of an entire nation, in regards to a single candidate.

      But the original question that you seem to have forgotten is how the UNP and its leader Ranil won the 2001 election(s) on a platform of ceasefire and peace talks. Your answer was that people were more interested in the economy than the war, thus proving that the war held secondary if any importance. You thus acknowledged our point that the Sinhalese were not pro-war.

      P.S: I will answer your other questions another time.

      Translation: Heshan cannot find a way to spin the answers yet, so he will quietly disappear and hope nobody notices that I lost the debate.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Heshan: “Thanks for posting the data regarding the 2001 election.”

      So you finally admit that there was an election in 2001?

      Great. Could you explain why you lied about it earlier? Are the superior western morals such as Christianity and liberal democracy you claim to hold dear the reason behind your lies — ie being liberal with the truth? Given your example of deceitfulness and bigotry combined with pseudo-Christian zeal, perhaps you’ll now understand why Sri Lankans view Christian evangelists with such deep suspicion.

      “It seems as if Ranil only ran for office from the Colombo district. When you ask if the majority of people of Sri Lanka voted for Ranil Wickremasinghe, what is the weight carried by a single district?”

      Tony Blair and Angela Merkel also “only” ran for office from their local constituencies. Are you claiming that they too, therefore, were not elected by the majority of their respective countries? Given that in both these cases, the PM and the Chancellor are the heads of government, doesn’t your “logic” cast doubt on whether these nations are even democracies? We have already established that even in the US where in a presidential election the candidate is directly voted for, George Dubbeyoo wasn’t voted for by the majority of Americans, casting into doubt the basis of democracy in the US. At least, according to “Heshan logic” ;)

      “So, let me rephrase my question: why can’t Ranil Wickremasinghe win a Presidential election?”

      Well, in ’99, he wanted to negotiate with the Tigers, and CBK wanted to continue military action, and the people voted for her. But by 2001, said action had failed, and when the RW-led UNP contested the general elections on a platform of economic change and a negotiated settlement (coupled with a Sudu Nelum movement that had dried up Army recruitment), the people gave him a landslide victory. Over the next few years, Tiger terror changed the mood of the people, and CBK and the SLFP/JVP commenced a smear campaign against RW that lost the UNP the 2004 general elections. By the 2005 presidential elections, opinion in the south was divided between RW and MR, with the NE Tamils being the swing vote. VP disenfranchised the NE Tamils who’d likely have voted for RW en masse and MR won.

      The point is that at times the Sinhalese have opted for negotiation, and at times for war. This wasn’t whimsical, but based on the actions of the Tigers and the ability of the military.

      “If you also think a Parliamentary election is equivalent to a Presidential election, whereby the leader of said party is chosen to be PM in the former – then its a different story.”

      But has anyone here claimed that a parliamentary election was equivalent to a presidential election? No. You, on the other hand have claimed that one of the most crucial general elections of recent years never even took place! However, the public is full well aware that in a parliamentary election the head of the winning party will be the PM if he isn’t already the president. So a vote for the UNP was a vote for Ranil. Which brings us back to the question Wijayapala originally asked, which was: if the Sinhalese have always wanted war, how did RW manage to win the 2001 election on a platform of economic change and a negotiated peace?

  • Heshan

    Slight correction: you cannot use a parliamentary election to evaluate the aspirations of an entire nation, in regards to a single candidate.

  • yapa

    “A move by Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) made a gunrunning vessel belonging to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), escape from Wikileaks reveals.

    The highly confidential cable sent by Colombo US Embassy to Washington, dated October 23, 2003 was classified by Colombo’s Charge´ d´Affaires James F. Entwistle.

    Entwistle reports that this series of events led to then President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga requesting the Norwegian government to remove the then incumbent SLMM chief Tryggve Teleffsen.”

    How about investigating this crime? This shows what western gentlemen wanted to do to us.

    http://www.dailymirror.lk/news/8897-slmm-tipped-off-ltte.html

    Thanks!

  • amodha

    one by one wikileaks is letting the cats out of the bag, SLMM’s partiality, communication equipment by then UNP… lets wait and see.. atleast chandrika has the guts to [Edited] ask for this guys head unlike the limp leader ………

  • Heshan

    rajivmw,

    Here are the answers to your other questions:

    Germany has a parliamentary system of government and so the position of President is largely ceremonial.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_Germany

    India: Despite Article 53 of the Constitution stating the President can exercise their powers directly[2], with few exceptions, all of the authority vested in the President is in practice exercised by the Council of Ministers, headed by the Prime Minister.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_India

    England:

    Authority

    As the “Head of Her Majesty’s Government”, the modern Prime Minister is the highest political authority in the United Kingdom: he leads a major political party, generally commands a majority in the House of Commons (the lower house of the Legislature), and is the leader of the Cabinet (the Executive). As such, the incumbent wields both legislative and executive powers. In the House of Commons, the Prime Minister guides the law-making process with the goal of enacting the legislative agenda of the political party he leads. In his executive capacity, the Prime Minister appoints (and may dismiss) all other cabinet members and ministers, and co-ordinates the policies and activities of all government departments, and the staff of the Civil Service. He or She acts as the public “face” and “voice” of Her Majesty’s Government, both at home and abroad. Solely upon the advice of the Prime Minister, the Sovereign exercises many of her statutory and prerogative powers: they include the dissolution of Parliament; high judicial, political, official and Church of England ecclesiastical appointments; and the conferral of peerages, knighthoods, decorations and other honours.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prime_Minister_of_the_United_Kingdom

    So, while you are correct that the President is the head of state in India and Germany, and the Queen is the head of state in England, these are ceremonial posts. The PM is much more powerful in all three cases. In simple terms, the UK could survive without a Queen (or any Monarchy) and India and Germany could easily survive without Presidents. That is why I said there is no comparison to SL.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      The comparison, peabrain, is with a parliamentary system in which the party not of the executive holds a majority, thereby placing the true reigns of power in the hands of the PM and the cabinet, and not with the executive. The executive is only all-powerful if he controls the legislature, and he/she can only do that if his/her party holds the majority therein. In 2001, CBK’s PA did not; RW’s UNP did. In that situation, RW did not function as CBK’s deputy, but as the de facto head of government as well as the legislature; and the public who were voting for the UNP knew full well that this would be the situation. Still don’t understand the system? :D I can just picture you sitting there, scratching your head.

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    You thus acknowledged our point that the Sinhalese were not pro-war.

    When a career criminal goes to prison for 25 odd years, does that mean he is no longer a criminal, because of the difficulty of committing crimes in said environment? The motivation is still there, and that is what matters. It is the same way with the Sinhalese. Thanks to the media, the vast majority were always pro-war. The CFA was doomed from the beginning, and it is not the fault of Ranil W.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      So, Heshan, you’re saying that even if the Sinhalese voted for RW’s platform of peace, they still wanted war? :D Under that “logic” doesn’t it also run true that when the Sinhalese voted for CBK’s policy of continued military action in ’99 and MR’s platform of tough action against the Tigers, they actually wanted peace?

      “Thanks to the media, the vast majority were always pro-war. The CFA was doomed from the beginning, and it is not the fault of Ranil W.”

      You mean thanks to the Tigers, don’t you? It wasn’t the media that assassinated Kadirgama and dozens of military officers. It wasn’t the media that murdered Tamil activists and placed bombs on buses. It wasn’t the media that expelled the Scandinavian monitoring mission. The media merely told us about it (as they should in a free and fair press). Where RW was at fault is in his inability to sell the idea of federalism to the Sinhalese as an acceptable solution; the JVP and SLFP walked all over him, and he responded by further alienating himself from the Sinhalese. He lost touch with the people of SL and it seems he just can’t find his way back, which is definitely his own fault — even people like me who once voted for him will not do so easily again.

  • Heshan

    Dear yapa,

    A very good and clever invention for justification of brutal mass killing.

    Is it brutal because of the pictures you saw? Is it brutal because you yourself were a victim? Or is it brutal of the fear psychosis you may have had, e.g. because you thought you will be the next victim? All of these are subjective measures. That is why I prefer to rely on cold data. No one can dispute the numbers. Look at this list:

    * 2.1 2003: 25 suicide bombings
    * 2.2 2004: 140 suicide bombings
    * 2.3 2005: 478 suicide bombings
    * 2.4 2006: 297 suicide bombings
    * 2.5 2007: 442 Suicide Bombings
    * 2.6 2008: 257 Suicide Bombings
    * 2.7 2009: 76 Suicide Bombings
    * 2.8 2010: 44 Suicide Bombings

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_bombings_in_Iraq_since_2003

    The Sri Lankan list can be found here:

    http://www.spur.asn.au/chronology_of_suicide_bomb_attacks_by_Tamil_Tigers_in_sri_Lanka.htm

    I am not sure if the Sri Lankan figure even reaches 100.

    • yapa

      Dear Heshan;

      Do you say this is not a significant number to take it as “brutal mass killing, and therefore it is no problem”? What is your minimum “objective number” to suit your classification? Tell me your “critical value”, where “just numbers” become human lives.

      I know objectivity is a good character in Mathematics. Mathematics should not have subjectivity. But subjectivity is an essential character in human sciences. When the subjectivity is taken away from them, they will whithered away or they would become cruel subjects.

      These are subjects with a heart. You must have a good heart to understand them, material brain alone won’t suffice. Hard logic, Mathematics cannot touch that space. You must inculcate virtues such as loving kindness and compassion to understand them. Please try to expose into this area, and you will realize the change take place in you. However, the fault cannot be attributed totally on you. This is how the materialistic world view see the world. Human life is only just another piece of material, or a factor of production or human capital. That is the value of human life for them. However, you have degraded it further more, to a valueless number.

      Dear Heshan you deserve the next Nobel Prize for Economics. No economist has ever simplified human life just to a quantified economic factor, not leaving any value behind.

      I wish you all the best!

      Thanks!

    • allen

      dear [edited out] heshan

      in you reply u say’ I am not sure if the Sri Lankan figure even reaches 100.” – which country do you live in man? we should seariously take u out !!!!!!!!

      here is a list of all the events which ur LTTE killed innocent civilinams

      http://www.defence.lk/LTTE%20Attrocities/LTTE_Atrocities14june.pdf

      On 14 May 1985, LTTE terrorists shot and killed 120 devotees, (over 100 in one shot!!!)

      On 17 April 1987, LTTE terrorists shot dead 122 civilians including women and children

      LTTE terrorists massacred and brutally mutilated 33 young monks

      On Friday, 4 August 1990, LTTE terrorists opened fire and killed 103 Muslims and injured 70 others while they were praying at the MeeraJummaMosque in Kattankudy.

      etc

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Why are you comparing Tiger suicide bombing numbers to those of Iraqi ones? Iraq is a bigger war, where 100,000 civilians have been killed in seven years in comparison to 50,000 in 30 years here. To follow “Heshan Logic”, the Tamils hardly had any losses.

  • Agnos

    TA:
    “We have seen these arguments before.”

    And I have seen you make this tune ad nauseam.

    You fail to make any distinction between an armed movement headed by an insane leader who brook no dissent, and young people who were raised in Western democracies and who work within the international system.

    “In my travels I have met many of them, and know that their political stance is made weaker by all this flag-waving and remote-government-forming.”

    Leave aside Tamil victims; your progressives wouldn’t even speak out against the murder of Lasantha Wickrematunga, at least in sufficient numbers to make a difference. Instead, plenty of people made subtle justifications for the murder. DBS Jeyaraj—of whom you are a fan I believe, says that only Lasantha had the guts to publish his writing on the Trinco 5 massacre by SLA/STF, who were directed by Gotabhaya on the advice of Kotakadeniya. Isn’t that saying a lot?

    I am not in any way involved with the TGTE, but as free people they are entitled to lobby for what they believe in, as long as they do it in a non-violent way, respecting the laws of the countries they live in. Maybe after the brutal war, they need an outlet for their energies like that.

    Your Southern “progressives,” if they are real, will ignore the TGTE as a pie-in-the-sky structure that has no impact on the ground, and focus on working within Sinhalese society to rid them of the evil that governs them. The fact is they can’t or wouldn’t do anything like that, and so, many find a convenient scapegoat in the Diaspora.

    I lived in the South during the mid to late 1980’s, and I know from experience the Sinhalese polity wouldn’t do much even in the face of terror directed by the then regime against fellow Sinhalese. I think you simply need someone to blame for your inability to show any tangible results working with your so-called “progressives.”

    What is coming through loud and clear from your arguments is that the Sinhalese, being the majority, are entitled to do whatever they deem fit and Tamils should simply suck up and bear with it. That is the argument of a mind that has been taken hostage. I recall that you called Dayan Jayatilleka, a lowly, evil sycophant who long ago mortgaged his soul for some positions, as “His Excellency,” and that while he was not holding any diplomatic position. I have enough evidence of your “Stockholm syndrome.”

    Regardless, I wish you good luck in your attempts to build relationships with Sinhalese progressives. Let us do an experiment.

    There are reports that in the Vanni many women who have lost their bread-winners have been forced into prostitution. Such sad stories are everywhere, and they need help from everyone. I know that some of us in the Diaspora are helping such people, but there are too many such cases for us to handle it alone. Also, many in the Diaspora have no interest in the goings on in SL, deciding that they would simply enjoy their lives in their adopted countries. They are far more interested in dancing at New Year parties than hearing sad stories about people back home, let alone helping them—thus harping on the “Diaspora” as an excuse for inaction on the ground, is ridiculous.

    The GoSL won’t help them either, preferring to spend a large share of its budget on the military than on resettlement and redevelopment. Tell your progressive friends in the South about it and have them exert pressure on the regime to spend more on resettlement and development, helping these people, without any excuses pointing to the Diaspora. Let us find some way of measuring how much progress there is within the next 6 months.

    Krish/Suren,

    I advocate a two-pronged approach—

    1. Limited cooperation with the regime for resettlement, development, rehabilitation, political solution, etc. , by Tamils within SL as well as segments of the Diaspora who may be so inclined.

    Tamils have again elected the TNA in their parliamentary elections, so let the TNA leaders like Sampanthan and Sumanthiran work with the regime pragmatically. I think Mano Ganeshan will be a good leader as well; North-Eastern Tamils should let go of their insularity and accept people like Ganeshan as a national level leader who can work with either major party of the Sinhalese.

    2. Another segment of the Diaspora makes concerted efforts at exerting pressure on the GoSL by working within the international system, lobbying for sanctions where possible, prosecuting war criminals and bringing them to justice, etc.

    Some argue that the latter conflicts with the former. I say that is nonsense. The latter is an essential component of any non-violent approach.

    Let me explain. For about 25 years, the LTTE seemed invincible to many people. But within a matter of a few years, it was eliminated. How did it happen? Sycophantic “analysts” would say the credit should go to the regime and/or Sarath Fonseka. But the fact is there were a few “black swan” events that they merely exploited. These events are—
    1. The 9/11 attack in the US by Al Qaeda, which made it tough for non-state actors to seek legitimacy
    2. The Karuna split within the LTTE
    3. The tsunami.

    In addition, the regime’s resolve to exterminate a large number of civilian lives, which in turn was made possible by the post 9/11 global environment, again the first black swan, made it possible.

    Likewise, everyone who wants the pure evil that has taken over Sri Lanka to be vanquished needs to be prepared to take action when another black swan event that favors him/her occurs. The probability of such events will be higher if the pressure on the regime is high and constant—it will play with the evil’s psyche and force it to make mistakes that can be exploited. The Fonseka falling out was one such event, but it has not been exploited fully because the opposition was in disarray.

    Where might another such event come from? A split within the SLFP? Another Sothern insurrection as the cost of living skyrockets? Some unexpected success in war crimes prosecutions leading to the evil falling like dominoes? A new dispensation in Delhi that is less sympathetic to the current regime? Coming out of new evidence, such as real-time satellite imagery, from a country that was previously sympathetic to the regime?

    My guess is as good as yours, but a non-violent struggle against an evil regime should plan for and be prepared to exploit such events if they occur. And I would venture to say that the chances of such an approach succeeding before the next presidential elections are due, are fairly high. Such an approach eventually will merge with the approach that TA has in mind, which might work in the longer term but not in the near term.

    OK, that is all the time I have for this thread.

    • Travelling Academic

      Agnos,
      Please read your post again. You are wishing for a rare “black swan” event to bring down this regime as part of your solution, and go on to predict that it will happen with high chance in the next six years. Nice one!

      • Agnos

        TA,

        The term “black swan” is often loosely used, and not really an unknowable event. It is often used to mean what the average public thinks of as a rare and unknowable event, but in many cases not really so to those who are in the know. For instance, the Karuna split was “induced” by someone in military intelligence.

        So I stand by what I said.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Agnos,

      Some argue that the latter conflicts with the former. I say that is nonsense.

      Ok, but you did not explain to us how the latter does not conflict with the former. Instead you explored how option #2 might actually come to pass. You did not share with us the effect of this campaign on the Tamils in SL.

      • Agnos

        wijayapala,

        The onus is on you to show why you think it will conflict.
        Just a few quick facts–
        I have framed the regime as evil. Fighting evil is an essential part of life. Just as in any other population, the Tamil Diaspora is not a monolith. The US has Republicans and Democrats and they work together when possible. Sinhalese have the SLFP and UNP. Likewise, Tamil Diaspora has those who think they would work with the Rajapaksa regime and ignore its evils, as well as those who think this evil should be fought This is a fact that you cannot wish away. As long the group that cooperates has nothing to do with the group that wants to apply pressure, there is no conflict.

    • Suren Raghavan

      @Agnos

      Thank you for your thoughts
      But my appeal was clear. I was asking what would you like to see happening in the other community and What would you argue and work for within your community as steps of the path for reconciliation and democratic recovery even while contempprary prospects are in the opposing direction.

      few steps as proposal and few steps as self activism.

      As you may agree we have theories and enough experts who are willing to split hair and remove yarn from a stone
      after 197 comments I am still to see any concrete/forward looking proposal. If this is the situation with the urbanite Englsih writing elites then what are we to think of the rural/agitated JVP/JHU activists?
      Am I to fear that I am forced to conclude that our democracy is even unable to hold a progressive debate on any nuances of democracy?

      • Agnos

        Suren,

        Though I have some slight reservations, let us say I agree with your list of points. Now what? I think it is an exercise in futility.

        Focus on a more immediate issue, something I brought up earlier with TA–the GoSL declared a long time ago that the LTTE was finished and gone; why is there any more violence by the State? Ask the Sinhalese polity that has the power to change it, to acknowledge that the current regime is responsible for the current violence, and as the majority that elected the regime, what they plan to do about it. That will be a start. Not doing anything about it, and then talking about reconciliation, having allowed more and more innocents to die, is a diabolical game. It will make any reconciliation impossible in the near term.

        BTW, I think you mistook the comments by niranjan (some Colombo-based Sinhalese liberal) as coming from Mahesan Niranjan, who always writes using his full name and rarely posts in the comments. I think he would use his real name or the fictional name Sivapuranam Thevaram in comments if he ever posts.

      • Belle

        Agnos,
        Well said. And thank you for saying it.

  • Krish

    Dear Yapa,

    I am unable to reply to your post, as the “reply” button/link doesn’t appear on my browser. That’s why I am writing this post separately.

    First of all, thanks a lot for your good words. You are being very kind. Glad that we agree on longus and that Sanjana would reconsider his decision. :)

    Thanks for your perspective as well, Yapa. This forum provides plenty of opportunity and scope for great discussions. And coming back to Sri Lanka, it might take a while for things to come back to normalcy, but 10 years from now, I am hopeful life would be better for everyone in your wonderful country. And I am looking forward to your discussion with Wijayapala as well.

    best wishes,
    Krish

  • Heshan

    The executive is only all-powerful if he controls the legislature, and he/she can only do that if his/her party holds the majority therein.

    The Executive President is powerful because of the Executive Presidency clause. The nepotism that is part and parcel of Sri Lankan politics triples the power of the President. The President need not control Parliament alone to be all-powerful:

    They can place the country in a state of emergency, under which they can override any law passed by Parliament and promulgate any regulation without needing legislative approval.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/President_of_Sri_Lanka#Sri_Lanka.27s_executive_presidency

    What is important in the Sri Lankan case is that he controls the budget, has control over certain key portfolios (finance, defense), is able to intimidate the media, and can intimidate the judiciary with little regard to consequences. The Executive Presidency makes this a seamless process, which is why Rajapakse was able to do away with the 17th Amendment, as well as remove term limits on the Presidency. Removing the term limits and the Sarath Fonseka fiasco showed once and for all that the Supreme Court (and by extension all lower courts, aka judiciary) is worthless in SL. In theory, CBK or even J.R. himself could have done all this; J.R. however, was actually honest, and CBK was more corrupt than anything else.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      None of the above is possible if the party of the executive doesn’t control the legislature :D All this has been explained to you in detail, Heshan, with references, but you still persist with your stupid and ignorant theories. All members of the legislature must be elected or enter via the national list. Nepotism by the executive can’t overcome this if its party doesn’t hold a majority in the legislature.

      In the event that legislature opposes the executive, as it did in 2001-2003, the PM can allocate all ministries without reference to the executive; as RW did. The PM can also set government policy without reference to the executive; as RW did when he set the UNP’s economic policies in motion, signed the CFA, and negotiated the PTOMs.

      The executive may declare an emergency, but it must be passed by a majority in the legislature, as is evident in this annual procedure. Are you really as clueless about the political system as you profess?

      RW was under a lot of pressure to impeach CBK in order to (a) nip any attempt at dissolution and (b) remove CBK and take over the executive himself, as is constitutionally possible, and to appoint MR in his place. In the words of MR himself to RW, in the vernacular at the time: [Edited out. David, please provide a reference for this quote. Thanks.] However, the Indians had assured RW that CBK wouldn’t dissolve parliament; unfortunately they were wrong and RW believed them.

  • Heshan

    Dear Allen,

    Thanks for the info. I did not know sea piracy was equivalent to suicide bombing. Unfortunately, your list does not equate to 100.

    P.S: Regarding your interest in “taking me out,” I am in a third-country, so you might find the task difficult. But I am glad to see that you have embraced Mahinda Chinthanaya philosophy, like a true Son of The Soil. Hopefully you will not be sharing a prison cell with SF soon (he was also a fan of “take-out” until he himself got “taken out.”) Kind regards.

  • MV

    Dear Suren $ Blacker,

    I am not sure if I could come up with 5 points but here is my take:

    As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, there has to be democratization and decentralization of power as well as demilitarization. The Tamil Tiger violent insurgency, for the most part, was due to the undemocratic practices of the State. Had they have devolved power, today they would not have taken the route to Burma, governed by one mega-family.

    As far as reconciliation between the nations is concerned, here is my thought:

    The Sri Lankan state was an artificial creation of the colonials. It never reflected the existing set-up in the island – that is of two nations and specific ethnic regions that have become homelands over the course of the island’s history – or the power balance that existed priorly. The Brits left giving little constitutional protection to the minorities, leaving them at the mercy of the majority. This post-colonial rise of internal conflicts (as opposed to interstate conflicts), such as that in Sudan, was hardly reflected in the international bodies to help resolve issues much more peacefully. While the Tamil Tiger insurgency is brutally defeated backed by geopolitical interests, the underlying issues remain unresolved. There can hardly be any reconciliation unless a political settlement is reached and justice prevails. If the State has to be broken down to smaller more governable units reflecting the interests of the locals rather than that of a mega family then be it.
    The other option is the Western type democracy rooted in capitalism or the principle of “multi-culturalism”.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      MV, so yet again you are unable to suggest a single thing that the Tamils must do to affect a reconciliation? Sitting on your high horse (which is now a dead horse) and making demands will get you nowhere.

      • MV

        @ Blacker,
        What really could or should the Tamils offer?

        You ain’t gonna have reconciliation by forcing somebody to sing the national anthem or hoisting the flag at the gun point, claiming that they have just been ‘rescued’ from the world’s most ruthless terrorist organization by the world’s best army, which had carried out the greatest hostage rescue mission.

        I am not sure what you mean by the dead horse. The only dead horse that I know of is the British invention, Sri Lanka, that had failed to transform in the post-colonial era either by creating a secular state founded on equality or through a political settlement. As I have said, the Tiger insurgency was a mere symptom. Neither the average Sinhala man on the street nor the Tamils gained anything from these governments.

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        “What really could or should the Tamils offer?”

        Only the Tamils can answer that, MV. If you, as a Tamil, feel you have nothing you can or wish to offer to SL, you should be quiet and get on with your life in your adoptive country, and allow Tamils who actually have plans and ideas for SL (like Suren for example) to take over the narrative.

        “As I have said, the Tiger insurgency was a mere symptom. Neither the average Sinhala man on the street nor the Tamils gained anything from these governments.”

        Oh, the average Sinhalese man is doing pretty OK for a citizen of a 3rd World nation, as are the Tamils in the south. It’s the average NE Tamil man who’s on his knees, thanks to the stupid policies of the LTTE and the diaspora that backed it. Sometimes symptoms themselves can kill (like a fever), and the symptom must be vanquished before the disease can be cured. Now, that this has been done, we’d like to hear what the Tamils can do to help in this cure. The Tamils always claim that on one listens to them, not the Sinhalese and not the Tigers; well here’s a heaven-sent (or rather Suren-sent) opportunity, MV. But you have no ideas?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Suren himself has put forward five steps he feels the Tamils should follow. Do you agree with those, MV, do you disagree? If you haven’t any ideas of your own, perhaps you can do what you do best and criticise the ideas of others.

    • wijayapala

      Dear MV

      As you did not provide anything along the lines of what Suren had asked for, I exercise my right to critique your statements.

      Had they have devolved power, today they would not have taken the route to Burma, governed by one mega-family.

      Would we have had 8-9 mega-families then instead, with the Prabakaran mega-family ensconced in the N-E?

      The Sri Lankan state was an artificial creation of the colonials. It never reflected the existing set-up in the island – that is of two nations and specific ethnic regions that have become homelands over the course of the island’s history – or the power balance that existed priorly.

      The Eelamists really do themselves a disservice by attempting (and failing) to use precolonial history to support their claims. I personally feel that Eelamism initially was justified simply on the anti-Tamil policies of various postindependence governments. You don’t need to bring up “two nations” or similar rubbish, especially given that hardly any Tamil used this “two nation” rhetoric before 1956.

      • MV

        @ Wijayapala

        “Would we have had 8-9 mega-families then instead, with the Prabakaran mega-family ensconced in the N-E?”

        The demand for devolution of power certainly did not start with Prabakaran. In fact, it was Banda (?) who suggested federalist states (low country, up country, and NE) first.

        “The Eelamists really do themselves a disservice by attempting (and failing) to use precolonial history to support their claims. I personally feel that Eelamism initially was justified simply on the anti-Tamil policies of various postindependence governments. You don’t need to bring up “two nations” or similar rubbish, especially given that hardly any Tamil used this “two nation” rhetoric before 1956.”

        It is because the Sri Lankan state consisted of multiple nations that it had potential for intra-state conflict. As I have clearly stated, it is the failure of this state to transform in the post-colonial era that had contributed to so much blood-shed. Just have one look at the neighbouring country or the African nations. The type of governance (feudal kingdoms) that existed in the precolonial era was not the same one that was introduced with the British and the western concept of nation-state sovereignty, I believe, is a relatively new one, hence the conflict.

      • MV

        On a second note, Wijayapala, what exactly do you suggest? That this one family rule is ok?

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear MV

      I appreciate your commitment to response. You have engaged with decency, defending the general Thamil national (separatist?) ideology as seen in SL and within the Thamil Diasporas.

      You wrote,

      ‘’ As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, there has to be democratization and decentralization of power as well as demilitarization.

      and conclude

      ”If the State has to be broken down to smaller more governable units reflecting the interests of the locals rather than that of a mega family then be it.
      The other option is the Western type democracy rooted in capitalism or the principle of “multi-culturalism…”

      In honestly your response (actually the lack of any depth and analysis) makes me sad and surprise at the level of intellectual discourse that is currently available within the Thamil polity: of course it is unfair to find fault at you personally . You were only representing and responding within you capacity

      I think we have reached the clear level of emptiness in the process of conceptualizing the future of the Thamil nation and her politics. Thamil nation is perhaps paying the historical cost of (majority of them) observing shameless silence in front of the Tiger on-slaughter against all and every possible intellectual differences. As a direct result today, the Thamil politics lacks even unable to mobilize any intellectual guidance she needs to envision a post Praba future.

      Even more importantly, the lack of wider intra debate amongst the diasporas be they in London, Toronto or elsewhere. The Thamil diasporas are a group extremely good at activism and agitation. Moreover, they do it strategically as shown in London in the MR Oxford debacle.
      However, unfortunately history shows activism or agitation alone will not lead any nation to a positive future.

      It is sad from Geneva to Toronto via London all centers of serious Thamil activism where I traveled during the last summer; I did not hear a voice of wisdom for the future of the Thamil nation.

      This is surely is the social wasteland context the LTTE ideology has left behind. A dark fog without a clear direction. That is why Thamils need to take stocks, listen to the world around them and urgently design sustainable democratic politics.

      Thamils (and all other minorities) can (and should) demand Demilitarizing, Political power sharing (not decentralization, devolving or dissolution because each of these have a very limited benefits), Development, and in final grand schema Democracy for them. That is the inalienable right of all of them

      However, the fundamental question is what are the steps/actions that the Thamils are willing to do in constructing such outcome? (of course Without becoming stooges and partners in crime as some have happy turned to be)
      How shall such path be conceived and constituted? Where shall we start the debate on that?

      I hope you start such discussion among your colleagues very honestly and urgently.

      • MV

        Dear Suren,
        To be honest, I do not have that much of a background in politics or Sri Lankan politics for that matter. What exactly do you mean by political power sharing as opposed to power devolution (such as land powers, etc) having limited benefits?

      • Suren Raghavan

        Dear MV,

        Wherever you live whatever you do, you appear to be a simply and honest person. The way you have engaged, with decency, honesty and humbleness is something of great virtue. Many supposedly learned individuals are unable to take correction/suggestions due to their unlimited ego. I am sure you have seen many such Pundits here.

        Thank you for asking. In Political Science and Constitutional Law each of these terms have a distinctly different meaning, thus provides different rights and responsibilities.
        I had written on this on GV some time ago (I think in end of 2009) which generated a healthy debate. I am sure you could find the same. However, for your benefit I say it here in summary

        Unitary:

        The term that the 1972 Colvin R D Silva constitution, for some unknown reason, forced into SL political debate. This literally means there is only one unit of governing authority with executive powers. There cannot be any other. It is noteworthy that SL was declared a unitary administrative unit by the British in 1817 after the fall of the Kandian Kingdom in 1815. Until then there were at least Kandy and Kotte kingdoms (even if we agree to deny there was a Jaffna Kingdom)

        Decentralization:

        This roughly means that largely a unitary form of governance will decide to assign certain powers on a temporary basis to recognized sub units to carry out the task dictated by the center. (Like the national budget-, the moneys come from centre for specific projects along with instructions how to spend them)

        Devolution:

        Here the unitary centre decides to handover certain powers and functions to sub units. The sub units carry out such function in a manner suitable to them. Like colleting housing taxes by local councils. However, all revenue should go to the centre and the centre has the rights to withdraw all these at any given time.

        Regionalization:

        Here the centre gathers resources and power after consulting the politically and geographically recognized regions and their needs/demands and wants. In addition, the centre agrees to work with regions and prioritize the voice of the region.

        However, Political Power Sharing is quantitatively and qualitatively different concept. It largely falls into the category of Federal (the F word in SL politics) form of governance.

        Federal:

        Here by civic and constitutional agreements, two or more equal sub units volunteerly come together to form a center largely in regulating and advisory capacity.
        The centre can never takeaway the rights /power and resources of the sub unit without the agreement of the unit. However, the centre and the sub unit agree to work together on number of key function. Most of the governance functions are with the sub units according to the civic culture, politics, population and the needs of the unit. Nevertheless, key functions such as National Defense, Central Bank, Foreign Policy, Citizenship, Supreme Courts are always with the centre. (US, Canada and India are such states). The units (Called States, Province, Landers or Cantons) cannot violate the agreed constitutional framework to act alone against any other unit or the centre

        Con-Federation

        Here, formerly few independent states, for economic, defense and other reasons form a centre and share their powers while holding the right to go away at any given time. Switzerland and the EU works under these political philosophies.
        The con-federal political arrangement is a covenant model politics almost like a modern civil marriage. Both parties are equal and agree to live together for happiness and prosperity While any one party could decided to go away, but the very recent developments shows even if one has the rights to separate that right should be exercised with consultation and the departure should be negotiated. Unfortunately this type of ‘’going away’’ happens only after protracted civil wars and external actor involvement. Like what happened in Sudan this week.

        You may appreciate the historical fact that there have been at least three waves of Federal Debate in SL.

        1. Far back in 1926, The Kandy National Assembly led by Nugawela and other Kandy elites demanded a (US model) Federal form of governance for them from the colonial office. Their basic argument was that the Kandy Sinhalas are a distinct nation different from the Thamils, Southern Sinhalas and the Muslims. Later SWRD on his way to power in 1932 advocated that the total SL becomes a Con-Federal State having common Military and Naval forces with India.

        2. The second wave came from the Federal Party led by SJV since late 50s to mid 70s. SJV was born in Malaysia and a constitutional lawyer. He may have been influenced by the progress Malaysia made under a federal rule and coupled the same with his Thamil Nationalism

        3. The third wave was in the wake of the conflict resolution with the LTTE, which culminated in their ISGA proposal

        Finally, each state and the nations, communities and peoples within have to decided what is the best form of governance for them. Especially if such state is multi-ethnic. Such negotiation and agreements are largely dependent on the Civic culture, religious ideologies and the deep fears and frustrations each of the communities’ experience

        My wish as much as yours is that SL will recognize and adopt a governance model that is best for all her nations, communities, and peoples. May all of us work towards such democratic end?

        Best

  • Heshan

    None of the above is possible if the party of the executive doesn’t control the legislature

    Controlling the legislature makes the process easier . However, not controlling the legislature does not make the process impossible. The main point point is that even with control of the legislature, the process is not effortless. If the latter were not true, then why did Mahinda Rajapakse need the support of so many UNPers to get the 18th Amendment passed? For example:

    Upeksha Swarnamali, popularly known as Paba met President Mahinda Rajapaksa a short while ago and pledged to support the 18th Amendment to the Constitution

    http://www.blogtopsites.com/outpost/70413ba6870ca3fb9e3d76c3bb8eaf00

    In fact, there were at least than a dozen UNPers who supported the 18th Amendment:

    Seventy nine year-old Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratna, tabling the Bill in Parliament this morning said that the UPFA anticipated a minimum of sixteen opposition parliamentarians to vote with the government.

    http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2010/09/09/sri-lanka%E2%80%99s-parliament-approves-18th-amendment-majority-144-votes-161-vote-favor-17-

    So, this is a clear case of one party, SLFP, controlling the legislature, but still needing the support of the opposing party to pass a piece of legislation.

    The executive may declare an emergency, but it must be passed by a majority in the legislature, as is evident in this annual procedure.

    Emergency regulations only amplify the power of the Executive. Lack of emergency regulations does not diminish in any way the powers of the Executive. For starters, the Executive is immune from prosecution. Secondly, he, the Executive is controlling the budget via his control of key portfolios (accomplished via nepotism). So for example, Rajapakse does not need the Emergency Regulations to control all the development work in the North and East; he has Basil to oversee the process.

    “Q: You won the last election contesting from the UNP ticket. How do you justify crossing to the government? Isn’t it a betrayal of the trust placed in you by your voters?
    A: I was in the provincial council for seven years before coming into parliament. I was with the opposition because during the war there were a lot of problems for Tamils in the Colombo District. There were lots of problems with police and white van abductions. At that time, I didn’t join the government. I didn’t enjoy any privileges. After the war, I contested the election under the UNF. Now, the situation is completely changed. This government is very powerful. This government will last for more than 15 years. After this year, development has started in all the areas.
    In the Colombo District, especially in the city, all the minorities, especially Tamil people, used to vote for the UNP. Now it has changed. After my crossover, I had ten meetings in Colombo with the Tamils. All these people are ready to support the government. They want development. That is the most important thing for the country now. I didn’t join the SLFP. I’m still in my own party. I’m just supporting the government for the sake of my people. If I were still in the opposition nothing will happen for the people who voted for me.”

    http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/01/02/face-off-mano-and-praba-ganesan-on-diaspora-issues/

    Notice the parts I highlighted. It shows what the Opposition has been reduced to in SL; no Opposition Parliamentarian in North America or Western Europe would make such a claim.

    What is the use of Emergency Regulations? IMO, to accelerate a process that is already inevitable. In other words, if GOSL wants to get Tamils off some land to build a HSZ, it could do so through the use of force alone. But the ER makes the process “legal.” In fact, the ER makes anything GOSL does “legal” – otherwise GR would not have tried to deport Tamils from Colombo and the Rajapakse brothers would not have subject SF to a farcical trial and corresponding imprisonment. The ER does not make any difference because GOSL simply abuses the ER regulations far beyond any established legal safeguard, whether we are talking white van abductions, or murdering journalists in broad daylight (everyone who has seen a certain BBC interview will understand who is behind LW’s murder :)). The ER is simply the first rung of a whole ladder of abuse. But one can always skip the first rung easily, when climbing.

    RW was under a lot of pressure to impeach CBK in order to (a) nip any attempt at dissolution and (b) remove CBK and take over the executive himself, as is constitutionally possible, and to appoint MR in his place.

    Actually, Blacker, a 2/3 UNP majority was no guarantee of CBK being impeached. The lack of a 2/3 Parliamentary vote would send the impeachment motion to the Supreme Court:

    Article 38 (c) goes on to state: “Where such resolution is passed by not less than two-thirds of the whole number of members (including those not present) voting in its favour, the allegation or allegations contained in such resolution shall be referred by the Speaker to the Supreme Court for inquiry and report.”

    That is why the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court become central in the whole question of impeachment of the President or his or her removal from office. And in the current controversy in Sri Lanka over the precipitate action of the President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, the information she had was that there was a collection of signatures to initiate impeachment proceedings against the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court even as he was about to deliver a significant judgment on the President’s powers as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This, it was felt, could be followed by another motion to impeach the President herself. Once that process is initiated, she cannot prorogue or dissolve Parliament.

    http://www.hinduonnet.com/2003/11/15/stories/2003111500591000.htm

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “Controlling the legislature makes the process easier . However, not controlling the legislature does not make the process impossible. The main point point is that even with control of the legislature, the process is not effortless. If the latter were not true, then why did Mahinda Rajapakse need the support of so many UNPers to get the 18th Amendment passed?”

      Lol, still struggling to grasp simple logic, Heshan? You’ve given an example of how an executive in control of the legislature needed opposition members to pass a bill. What you need to show us is that an executive not in control of the legislature is still able to pass a bill :D Have you forgotten what your original point was; that an executive opposed to the legislature still retained all power? Can you show us a bill that CBK had passed despite opposition from RW and the cabinet? All you’ve managed to prove is that the executive isn’t all powerful even it controls the legislature as MR does :D

      “So, this is a clear case of one party, SLFP, controlling the legislature, but still needing the support of the opposing party to pass a piece of legislation.”

      Of course. Bills, amendments, etc, must be passed by a majority in the legislature, and members of the legislature are not obliged to vote with the party, which is why even the majority in the legislature needs to convince individual members to vote “aye”, especially if it is as controversial as the 18th Amendment. This would be applicable regardless of whether we had an executive or not.

      “Lack of emergency regulations does not diminish in any way the powers of the Executive. For starters, the Executive is immune from prosecution. Secondly, he, the Executive is controlling the budget via his control of key portfolios (accomplished via nepotism). So for example, Rajapakse does not need the Emergency Regulations to control all the development work in the North and East; he has Basil to oversee the process.”

      Oh dear, you really are thick aren’t you? Executive immunity from prosecution has nothing to do with its powers. And I have already explained to you why the executive will control neither the budget nor key portfolios in an opposed legislature. Please read my responses instead of continuing this foolishness. MR would be unable to control any development work in the NE or anywhere else if the SLFP didn’t control the legislature, emergency or not :D Every single thing you point to is possible only because the SLFP-coalition holds a majority.

      “Notice the parts I highlighted. It shows what the Opposition has been reduced to in SL”

      Indeed ;) The opposition is a bunch of idiots who couldn’t get voted into a paper bag, never mind winning a majority. What has this got to do with executive power versus legislative power? Crossovers are a way that an opposition can usurp the majority in the legislature. This is what happened to the PA’s 2000 legislature, resulting in a hung parliament. CBK was forced to dissolve parliament and call for fresh elections (the 2001 elections, which you claim never occurred).

      “Actually, Blacker, a 2/3 UNP majority was no guarantee of CBK being impeached.”

      Indeed ;) Which is why MR and other SLFPers pledged their support to RW for such an impeachment. MR had his eye on advancement, beginning with the PM job, and if he was guaranteed that by RW, he was willing to support an impeachment. When RW chickened out, he spilled the beans to CBK on a possible impeachment, and she dissolved parliament, appointing him PM in the 2004 legislature. Such is politics.

      • Suren Raghavan

        Dear David,

        after all these abysmal and often out of context hair splitting largely nonsensical engagements do you have energy to discuss the few points you had proposed as away forward?
        I ask because while you (I assume) Asinhala, Abauddha and not considered as a Sabe Boomiputra in the greater schema, are the only commentator to put few reconciliation recovery points that the Sinhala nation ought to consider urgently.
        I think that offer a common ground for a good discussion.

        I ask this as I am not (and I see neither you) interested in scoring points but learning to contribute to a greater localized political discussion

        I have a feeling once we start such basic discussion others who have been moderate on this forum will join us?

        Best

  • Heshan

    Correction: *otherwise GR would not have tried to deport Tamils from Colombo and the Rajapakse brothers would not have subject SF to a farcical trial and corresponding imprisonment.

    Actually, they would have done those things anyway. But they would have done so in a different way.

  • wijayapala

    Dear MV

    On a second note, Wijayapala, what exactly do you suggest? That this one family rule is ok?

    I am suggesting that the focus of the Tamils should be on rebuilding the N-E and should not get distracted by other things like “political solution” or war crimes. By the time N-E is rebuilt, Mahinda might not be as popular and you will be in a better position to change things. By focusing on other things, you are making Mahinda stronger because these other things do not have traction among the Sinhalese.

    The demand for devolution of power certainly did not start with Prabakaran.

    That is true. However Prabakaran or another similar thug eventually would have taken over. What is true for the South is true for the North.

    In fact, it was Banda (?) who suggested federalist states (low country, up country, and NE) first.

    Yes you are correct that Bandaranaike first suggested federalism in 1920s. The Tamil leadership did not accept it and preferred to continue with unitary state. Why do you think they did that?

    It is because the Sri Lankan state consisted of multiple nations that it had potential for intra-state conflict…the western concept of nation-state sovereignty, I believe, is a relatively new one, hence the conflict.

    You are again correct that the notion of “nation” is relatively new. There were no “Sinhala” or “Tamil nations” in precolonial Sri Lanka. There was a Jaffna kingdom that controlled only Jaffna, Mannar, and some of the Wanni, but nevertheless the Jaffna kings considered themselves to be the legitimate rulers of the ENTIRE island (much like their southern counterparts), not a “Tamil Eelam.” Jaffna historical chronicles confirm that these kings, even though they were Tamil also indirectly traced their lineage to Vijaya. Therefore in historical terms this notion of “nation” falls flat on its face.

    Probably for most of Sri Lankan history, there were more than one kingdom. However, the high points of Sri Lankan civilisation were those times when the island was united under one ruler. Political fragmentation on the other hand was associated with degeneration and weakness.

    It should not come as a surprise that the Europeans conquered Sri Lanka during a “degenerate” and divided period.

  • MV

    Dear Suren,
    Thank you for that informative post and hopefully, as you said, there will be political power sharing.

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear MV,
      Anytime. if you read Tamil,
      En Eneeya Tahi Pongal valuththukkal. Nam Enamum Thesamum Nalam pera, Ella valla eraiwan Arul puriya.

      • MV

        Dear Suren,
        Nanri. Unkalukkum en iniya thai puththaandu vaazhththukkal.

  • Suren Raghavan

    @ Agnos,David,Heshan,MV and Wijepala (and all others)

    Thank you for the contributions you have made. While some 200 odd comments were generated, I am dissapoitned ( at least in the capacity of the wirter ) that we could not agree on simple 5 points to move forward. Does this indicate the death of democractic dialogue in SL?

    if so I may be beating the thin air at the Galeeface green

    if not may I ask you to put forward your 5 points, as I wish to discuss the same with a sample of Thamil diaspora group in Eroupe

    I thank you all of you for your commitement to engage. Hope next time around we will be able to focus and be cotextual when debating democracy in SL

    Best

    • wijayapala

      Suren, David Blacker’s 5 points are good for me too.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Hi, Suren. Sorry, but I didn’t see your previous comment to me until just now. Sure, I’d be happy to talk further with you on those 5 points. I saw the ones you’d suggested too.

      • Suren Raghavan

        Dear David and Wijepala (and in a way to MV and Krish)

        May I propose this as a follow-up;

        I will write my reflection on GV after the said meeting (very informal nothing official as I don’t represent anyone But democracy ) with the sample forum of Thamil diaspora in Europe,
        you could respond to the article, then we may come closer to the common currency of democracy between the divide

        best
        s

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        Suren, one more thing. In your 5 points, you’d said that the Tamils must denounce all forms of past violence. I think it must go a bit further. I think it’s necessary that the Tamils denounce fully the LTTE and everything it stood/stands for and everything that represents it, including a separate state, Prabakharan, and the Tiger flag. The reason I say this is because the Sinhalese see the Tiger structure abroad as a present threat, and that threat must be removed before the GoSL will calm down.

        Similarly, the Sinhalese must fully acknowledge and accept that in the period running up to the mid-’80s, policies enacted by the GoSL, and actions by the Sinhalese as a whole, were indeed persecution and oppression of the Tamil people. An unqualified joint apology from the GoSL and the Opposition must be formally made. Comments by current GoSL ministers like Patali and Wimal about the war being unwarranted cannot continue to be uttered and should be treated as holocaust denial is in Germany. I think such an acceptance by the Sinhalese and apology from the power structure past and present will go a long way to soothe the sense of injustice felt by the Tamils here and in the diaspora.

  • Krish

    Suren & MV,

    Not to go too much off-topic from this democratic debates, but quick questions to MV though!

    Why do you call it a new year? Isn’t a just new month. Rather 10th month of Tamil Calendar. What you are saying would translate to “Aluth Avuruddha subha wevva” in Sinhala (approximately). Calling Pongal day as New Year has assumed propagandistic proportions in Tamil Nadu that on April 14th (the real Tamil new year), they say “Chittirai thirunaal nal vaazhthukkal”. Another empty chauvinism that Karunanidhi has been throwing on Tamilians in India. Looks like the sentiment isn’t much different among SL Tamils as well. :)

    • Suren Raghavan

      Krish(na?)(ratna?)

      I am aware that my English is not Oxfordian. But Pl. explain to me what you are trying to address in your last comment? how is that conneted to the topic I am trying to promote and dialogue I am interested in?

      • Krish

        Dear Suren

        My response was to MV, not for you! In your mutual interaction, MV said, “puththaandu vaazhththukkal”. I thought that meant new year wishes. In neighbouring Tamil Nadu, from 2009 onwards, Pongal has been made the first day of the year by Karunanidhi. So, Tamil New Year is no longer on April 14th for TN. That was my point. I was wondering if MV (as well as some SL Tamils) consider Pongal or the month of Thai as the first day of the year in Tamil Calender. In TN, it is all propaganda, which was my original point.

        In any case, my point was a deviation from the topic and can be ignored.

        In the meanwhile, I have responded to your question on the 5 points from your article. May not make much sense, but doesn’t matter giving one’s opinion I guess. Thanks for asking my opinion though! :)

        best wishes
        Krish

  • Krish

    Dear Suren Raghavan,

    You had earlier asked me to respond to your 5 points. Here they are.

    1. Regarding Sinhalese people being a tiny minority globally as compared to Tamils and Muslims…true. That is perhaps why the Sinhalese right is worried in some sense I guess. Srilanka is the only country where Sinhala as a language and Sinhalese as a group are significantly present (let alone as a majority). I don’t see a single Sinahala man/woman right next door in Tamil Nadu. Compare this with countries like Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh, whose languages Urdu, Nepali and Bengali whose population in India are significantly present, apart from their languages being recognized as official languages in India. If the Sinhala language/people can be accomodated in India (their origins probably trace to India), Sinhala folks would be less threatened. More than anything, I am inclined to think that the disproportionate improvement of Tamils under the British followed by more Tamils coming from India made them feel a bit more insecure. Rest is history.

    2. I agree about eroding resources. Coastal India is equally bad with rising sea levels. Many fisherman folks in West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and TamilNadu are moving more and more inland given that sea water levels are rising. And India is very densely populated particularly West Bengal and Kerala. Not sure what’s going to happen.

    Just a side thought, with Maldives fast sinking, either Srilanka or India have to act fast in getting the Maldives folks into their country. Not sure what kind of headaches that would bring.

    3. You should pardon me for I don’t know much about SL history. But I tend to somehow believe that today’s problems trace more to British times than any other time earlier. It was during this time that Sinhala folks felt disadvantaged and the arrival of Tamils from South India only added to their insecurity.

    4. The lack of cohesion it true of every country. Pakistan for instance unites once they talk about Kashmir/India. Otherwise, it is always Punjabis vs Sindhis or Pashtuns vs. Mohajirs. Bangla/Bengali language unites both Bangladesh and West Bengal more than Hindu-Muslim divide. Tell me any country that is divided more on caste lines than India! :)

    5. LTTE took things very much backwards for everyone in Srilanka, especially for Tamils. That’s why I believe that the demise of tigers is good first and foremost for Tamils. LTTE has virtually destroyed the Tamil society, got rid of it’s leaders, killed all moderate voices and above all killed more Tamils than any other force. From the Sinhala perpective, how good is a terrorist organization that would terrorize them thru suicide bombs and eventually threatening their existence? So, yes, LTTE’s presence posed a real threat to Sinhala identity. But whether they went to Mahavamsa imaginations or not, I don’t know.

    Suren, that’s my perspective (given my little knowledge of SL). Thanks for discussing! I urge people to discuss no matter what the disagreements are. We need to learn a lot more from one another. For SL folks, this forum is a good place to discuss their differences and more importantly, how to move forward.

    It would also be interesting to see where Tamil leaders really went wrong in the last 40 years. How did LTTE become a reality?

    • wijayapala

      Hi Krish

      It would also be interesting to see where Tamil leaders really went wrong in the last 40 years. How did LTTE become a reality?

      Although the legitimate (elected) Tamil leadership did play a role in the rise of the LTTE, I would say that the most important role was played by Sinhala leaders namely JR Jayawardene who hands-down wins the prize for worst Sri Lankan leader (of any ethnic group).

      When it comes to making mistakes, the Tamil and Sinhala leaders were not very different. Both came from the same English-speaking elite class and had a level of disconnect from their non-English-speaking electorates (perhaps this was more true of the Sinhala leaders). The big difference though was that the Tamil leaders ruined only their own community, while the Sinhala leaders ruined the entire country.

      To answer your question about Tamil leaders (Sinhala leaders would require a separate post), it might be instructive to give a brief sketch of the pre-war leaders:

      GG Ponnambalam- Google his name and you’ll see all sorts of angry Sinhalese fuming at him for his “50-50″ proposal. Although it was not a good idea, personally I think that was a bit overrated. GG did not get angry after 50-50 was rejected and even participated in the first postcolonial govt. where he managed to get a few industries built in the N-E.

      However, GG started the tradition of picking fights with the Sinhala majority with his 1939 speech at Nawalapitiya where he said that the Sinhalese were a mongrel race subservient to the Tamils, sparking the first Sinhala-Tamil riot. GG, knowing that Nawalapitiya was a Sinhala-majority area, probably felt that the Sinhalese would not take to arms in response to his insults. Wrong!!! SWRD Bandaranaike afterwards established a branch of the Sinhala Maha Sabha (precursor to the SLFP) stating, “The Nawalapitiya Sinhala Maha Sabha should erect a statue of Mr. Ponnambalam as we should be grateful to him for provoking the formation of this Sinhala Maha Sabha.”

      S. Chelvanayakam- Also gets a lot of smack from Angry Internet Sinhalese, who felt that he was two-faced in calling his party “Federal Party” in English but “Tamil Rule Party” in Tamil. It must be said though that he did not pick fights or insult Sinhalese. However, unlike GG he did not participate in any government and thus did not really accomplish anything for the Tamils. In my view, Chelva’s big mistake was anointing Amirthalingam as his successor (see below) and remaining silent when Tamil politics took a nasty turn in the 1970s, although arguably the latter was not his fault as he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and may not have been aware of what was transpiring.

      A. Amirthalingam- When you’re looking for who really “went wrong,” the leader who really doomed the Tamils, Amir is your man! Without a doubt he rates as the worst Sri Lankan Tamil leader and maybe 2nd worst overall leader, definitely behind JR but possibly in front of SWRD (we can debate this). He tends to get whitewashed though as a moderate martyr because the LTTE killed him in 1989.

      Where to begin? Amir somewhat resembled SWRD in that both liked gimmicks. SWRD had the SInhala-Only gimmick and Amir had Vaddukkoddai Resolution gimmick to get the votes. However, I would argue that Amir had a certain level of shamelessness that even SWRD did not have. Amir reintroduced confrontation and fight-picking that had been lost after GG entered govt., starting with his campaign of tarring the Sinhala “Sri” character on license plates in the 1950s. Amir then did some bouncing around. In the late 1960s he sang Thevaram in Tamil comparing Dudley Senanayake to Lord Shiva!

      However Amir went back to picking fights in the 70s and hoped to cash in on the rising youth unrest. Tamil militancy was still rather small in those years, but Amir felt that he could simultaneously get the youth vote and use the militants as leverage against the govt by giving them legitimacy. Although it helped him in the 70s, this move led to him getting eclipsed by the militants after the war began in the 80s and he along with the rest of TULF became a nonentity. When the Tigers murdered him, there was hardly a ripple in Jaffna or anywhere else.

      It’s hard to guess if the war would have started if the Tamils had a more principled leader committed to nonviolence. After all JR would have still been in power, but a better Tamil leader may not have given fuel for the racists in his Cabinet to stoke anti-Tamil violence. Equally I could say that someone other than JR may not have been baited by Amir’s antics. This speculation is irrelevant, though. The past cannot be changed. We can only learn from it.

      • Suren Raghavan

        Krish

        there is a huge body of literature on Thamil nationalism
        from India and Sri Lanka.

        1.The fall and rice of Thmail Nationalism by V Navarathnam

        2. From boys to Guerrillas and The elusive Mind of Prapakaran
        both by Narayan Swami

        3. The Colombo Assignment by J N Dixit

        are full story records

  • Krish

    Dear Wijayapala,

    Thanks for writing in detail. Very kind of you to go to such lengths even knowing my lack of knowledge.

    Regarding googling all these leaders…one of the downsides of internet is that most of the websites and articles are written from a certain perspective. That is, either they support one side or the other.

    Yes, Appapillai Amirthalingam was the leader that I most likely thought was in a position to manage things but ended up being a colossal failure. In the early 80s I read articles in dailies (in India) about how Amirthalingam was the great Tamil leader etc. However, what I also saw was rabble-rousing speeches by him as well. And when the environment was getting bad (may be, you are right that JRJ also helped to make it worse), he failed to engage. In interviews, he always said that the gun-carrying Tamil youths always listen to him etc. etc. And yes, when he finally died many Indian dailies called him the Tamil equivalent of Gandhi.

    Continuing still further, if you have time Wijayapala, I am interested in your perspectives on these issues.

    1. How much of an opposition was there within the Tamil community in the 80s for seccession? That is, was there any leader from the Tamil side who said, “Secession is not an option. Lets’ talk with the JRJ or Ranasinghe Premadasa”?

    2. Can you tell me how exactly were the Tamils divided as a group in SL in the 80s or 70s in terms of who were desperate for secession vs. who weren’t? For example, Northern Tamils were more desperate than their eastern countterparts or soemthing like that. If I am right, Tamil society is also divided along caste lines as well. Were there any castes that totally opposed seperatism citing history for instance? My question could sound strange to you, but I tend to think of Tamil Brahmin community in Tamil Nadu. While the Brahmin community in TN is less than 3% of the population, it’s influence in TN is significant. Are there any Tamil Brahmin equivalents in SL? Rather, are there very many Brahmins in SL Tamil community?

    I ask these specifically to you, not only because of your knowledge but also because of your balance. Thanks again for your previous lengthy post. :)

  • Krish

    Dear Suren, thanks for the books that you recommend. I have a long way to go understand SL. :)

  • wijayapala

    Hi Krish

    In interviews, he always said that the gun-carrying Tamil youths always listen to him etc. etc. And yes, when he finally died many Indian dailies called him the Tamil equivalent of Gandhi.

    I am not surprised. In the late 1970s people would ask him how to achieve Tamil Eelam. He would reply that he had a “secret” plan. We all know today that he had no plan. I am surprised though that those dailies would insult Mahatma Gandhi by comparing Amirthalingam to him. Because he was killed by the LTTE, today he sort of treated as a martyr even though he contributed much to the mess.

    Again I would emphasize that everything was not 100% his fault. I already mentioned JR but there were also the youth militants who were not listening to him. It is conceivable that if he had taken a principled stand against militancy, they would have killed him much earlier. Also it is untrue as some Sinhalese claim that he was a sponsor of Tamil militancy (he did encourage it though).

    This interview has some terrific info:
    http://kafila.org/2009/02/16/interview-with-ragavan-on-tamil-militancy-part-i/

    1. How much of an opposition was there within the Tamil community in the 80s for seccession? That is, was there any leader from the Tamil side who said, “Secession is not an option. Lets’ talk with the JRJ or Ranasinghe Premadasa”?

    None except for S. Thondaman who was the leader of the Upcountry “Estate” Tamils. In my view, he rates as probably the most effective Sri Lankan leader of any ethnic group. He was the only leader I know who could outsmart JR Jayawardene and uplift his downtrodden community to a certain degree. I can only imagine how differently history could have turned out if somebody like him had become Prime Minister.

    You have to understand that by the 1980s the Tamils had totally lost faith with the Sinhala leadership. The great betrayal of course was the violence unleashed by JR, but earlier events played a role. The big mistake of the Sinhala leaders was not to refuse meeting Tamil demands, but rather to agree to them and then back off later. I really have no explanation for such a foolish policy except to say that the Sinhala leaders had a very overinflated notion of their control over the Sinhala community and would underestimate the opposition’s ability to turn their mistakes against them. SWRD Bandaranaike in the 50s signed an agreement with Chelvanayakam only to tear it up later when JR led a protest into Kandy. Dudley Senanayake did the same in the 60s when the SLFP protested his agreement with Chelva.

    The effect of this was that the Tamils perceived that the Sinhalese understood their demands to be legitimate (which was untrue), but then spitefully refuse to address them. On the other hand, if the Sinhala leadership disagreed up front without making any promises, the Tamils might have been forced to think about the Sinhala perspective. By making these promises the Sinhalese leaders acknowledged the Tamil views as legitimate, and by breaking their promises they conveyed the Sinhalese as an evil race that had no sense of fair play.

    2. Can you tell me how exactly were the Tamils divided as a group in SL in the 80s or 70s in terms of who were desperate for secession vs. who weren’t?

    In the early 1970s (before ’77) Tamil separatism was mostly limited to Jaffna youth infuriated by the standardisation policy. In this way, Jaffna became the epicenter of separatism. However, by 1977 separatism had gained credence throughout the N-E, and definitely by the 80s it was entrenched. Some Sinhalese claim that the eastern Tamils were not so pro-separatist, especially after Karuna left the northern-dominated LTTE, but actually the easterners were the strongest supporters of separatism by the late 1980s. The Sinhalese were simply too ignorant of the Tamils to play a “divide and rule” game. They could not distinguish between caste, region, or religion. Hence the strength of Tamil nationalism in those years.

    Another Sinhala myth is that the Vellala caste- the highest in Tamil society- was the driving force behind separatism. However, the top leadership of the LTTE especially in its early years was dominated by Karaiyar fisherman caste. Arguably the lowest castes were less nationalistic before the war began because Tamil nationalism offered them little. In fact, even to this day many of them refer to the upper castes as “Tamils,” implying that they themselves were not Tamil even though their language was Tamil language. Rather than vote for ITAK or TULF, these castes often voted Communist. This ended after the war began, because the Sinhalese were to ignorant to discern one caste from another. They mistreated all castes more or less equally.

    Rather, are there very many Brahmins in SL Tamil community?

    No, perhaps because of the Hindu injunction against crossing the seas (I’ve heard the same argument explaining that Brahmins did not travel to East Bengal, therefore yielding that land to Muslim immigrants later). Unlike TN, the Brahmins in SL have no power. They mostly serve as temple priests and only interact with each other. Therefore, the Sri Lankan Tamils never developed an anti-Brahmin or anti-Sanskrit bent as was found in TN, and contrary to Sinhala mythology they did not really embrace Dravidianism more or less understand it (with a few exceptions).

    The Sinhalese are utterly clueless about this and have no concept whatsoever about the caste divisions in southern India. They assumed that Brahmin advisors to Indira and Rajiv such as G. Parthasarathy were pro-Eelam simply because they were southerners! They could not comprehend that these Brahmins, far from supporting separatism were very anxious to discourage separatism in TN and saw the SL govt’s irresponsible actions as strengthening TN separatism.

    In the Sinhala mind, all the Tamils everywhere are united in one great anti-Sinhala conspiracy. This is the “Mahavamsa mindset” in reality- not so much a belief in Sinhala superiority, but rather the false notion that the Tamils today are exactly the same as imperial Cholas who lived 1000 years ago.

  • Heshan

    Dear Suren Raghavan:

    Thank you for your insightful comments of the 16th. If I may put forward my own 5 points for peace, they are:

    1. The removal of all soldiers from the North and East, as well as all high security zones (this is absolutely essential).

    2. A federal model for the North and East. Basically, one that says the people in the North and East have the right to do everything except bear arms.

    3. The permanent disbanding and disarming of all paramilitary groups in the North and East.

    4. An apology from the Sri Lankan government for all atrocities committed upon the Tamils during the past 60 years.

    5. An investigation into the excesses committed during the last stages of the war, with a tribunal composed of both international and local jurists, that can offer protection to witnesses who come forward.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Heshan, since you are both anti-Sinhalese and anti-GoSL, the request wasn’t for you to make demands (those have been plentiful here), but for you to put forward a 5-point plan for the Tamils. Instead you’ve basically rehashed what I and a few others have already suggested. Do you not have any ideas of your own?

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear Heshan,

      thank you, after all these long running debates, we are focusing on the actual issue. I suppose this is the nature of any debate. First one must leave room for ventilation of ideas however invalid other side may consider them to be. and avoid demonizing the other. The exact challenge in our contemporary political space.

      I have collected a minimum set of suggestions from both sides, from the 240 odd comments made here and another 200 odd email in my in box.
      these ideas, I will share with a selected group of Thamil and Sinhala diaspora shortly and with their responses compile another essay as a basis for a further /wider discussion.

      thank you for your energy and commitment

  • Humanist

    Suren,

    I’ve been out of circulation for a while and did not see your article until today. I really want to congratulate you, both for putting forward your ideas in a clear and concise language, and for soliciting a constructive engagement. Because so many respondents have unnecessarily digressed from the topic and held forth, it is a bit hard to access all the relevant responses to your excellent piece.

    However, I wanted to say that I wholeheartedly agree with all your points for both the Sinhalese and Tamil sides. Hopefully, we can also come up with five points for the Muslims, Malays, Burghers and Veddahs so that everyone is taken into consideration. I also agree with Heshan’s five points; except, 1,2 and 5 will only be realistic after creating the right conditions by enacting your 10+ points for at least five years.

    As you well know, the fact that few of us here can reach common ground, does not mean that the entire Sri Lankan society is ready for it. So we need a road map (a manifesto for peace that “average” citizens can sign up to, perhaps in the manner “Sri Lanka First” did some years ago?) on how to get the two plus sides to think (and feel) along these lines.

    Thus, the only point I want to add is that we cannot simply expect to prevail on the state or opposition political parties to take action on the points you have put forward. We need to build the enabling conditions for it. An essential step of this road map is the role of civil society in working together with the state (especially via the education system), political parties, the media, the arts and the private sector to create a tri-lingual, multi-cultural society, based on mutual respect for both our similarities and differences.

    • Suren Raghavan

      Dear Humanist,

      thank you for your kind words.

      Like most of the commentators and writers here I am a volunteer, writing only because I intend to transform both my negative and positive experiences as a Lankan in the contemporary setting of political culture, into a healing process.

      You cannot be exact than this. the success (or failure) of social transformation depends on the ability to mobilize such debate into the wider civic society at every facet. The peace dialogue in SL has always remained as a Colombo based (foreign funded) urban debate often ignoring the actual actors.
      But you will agree that a genuine debate cannot become a national priority unless the ruling regimes encourage or let them happen. (unless they are forced like what we witness in Tunisia and Egypt these days)

      I don’e envisage such radical force on Rajapakse regime as they will sure fight back. after all MR has not ruled Lanka for 25 years yet)

      I seek new avenues how we can convince the regime that it is better and advantage for them to involve and encourage such nation wide debate for democratic recovery. I am encouraged that H E had (at least for public consumption) agreed to such ‘road map’
      My fear is that once again the unsuitable actors such as the INGOS and Erik Solhaim s will hijack such endogenous process. Because these agencies are looking for success stories to fatter their CV and they have hard currencies to throw. And beyond all these these their understanding and and perception of Sri Lanka, Buddhism, Sinhala Nationalism, Thamil National rights all lacks a positive ‘in context’disposition. Their ultra liberal approaches often backfires pushing the healing process few decades further

      but you will be encouraged that there are few humble attempts to join force to advance such genuine debate leading to healing and democratic stability.
      Please be engaged and encourage your colleges to contribute too. I simply like to see a 5 point plan from the Muslim, Malay and Burger point of view
      best

  • Humanist

    Krish,

    I think it’s brilliant that you consider that the Sinhala language and people should be accommodated in India. Strengthening their Indian roots would help overcome some of the besieged mentality that Sinhalese suffer from and the notion that somehow they fell from the sky into their little island. It would hopefully also keep at bay the geo-political leanings towards China. Unless we forget our petty ethnic differences and stand together as the South Asian region, our prospects in the new global order remain bleak.

  • SD

    Dear Suren,

    To echo Humanist’s sentiments – an excellent article. This is precisely the kind of dialogue we need, I thank you for initiating it and hope I’m not too late to pitch in my 2 cents.

    Personally, I too agree with both yours and David’s 5 points.

    I think your point 3 about bi-lingual capacity is spot on. In the interim, it may be possible to utilize telephone based translation services, which may serve to redress immediate shortcomings.

    My main suggestion would be a substantial increase in educational programs. I would also suggest more positive involvement of the diaspora in such a program. Redirection of funds formerly collected by the LTTE, towards positive ends such as island-wide language education programs, cross-cultural awareness programs and especially, Tamil cultural programs.

    Finally, I would suggest that through positive diaspora involvement and contribution, it would be possible to run daily television based awareness programs on ethnic amity as well as equal rights of citizens. I recall these were aired on a daily basis during CBKs times and had a very positive effect. Educating children, starting from a school level, is very important. Education as well as debate on the equal rights of citizens should be a priority.

    In short, the forging of a Sri Lankan identity as a multi-ethnic one, instead of an exclusively Sinhala or exclusively Tamil one.

  • Heshan

    Suren Raghavan:

    I commend you for sincere efforts. However, I must question the value of gathering 240 opinions from such a wide range of sources. While the opinions span a broad range, most of them are probably well-known, have been heard before, and can already be found in the appropriate venue. The unfortunate truth of the matter is that despite the plethora of diverse opinions out there today – and accessible through the internet – most people still hear what they want to hear, and read what they want to read The Internet is not going to educate most people. It is not going to cause a social revolution. The only way to make a certain group of majority people understand the grievances of the minority group, is via some kind of cataclysmic social turbulence. The fact that certain forms of information exists – information which might both educate and inform – does not imply by itself that such information will be put to proper use. For example, I have come across several idiots on this forum who think WWII can be compared to SL’s petty 30-yr civil war. Every battle of WWII is there on the Internet, in excruciating detail. Every war crime committed by the Japanese against the 23 million Chinese dead is there. But these idiots only see two atom bombs (which were built by foreign scientists fleeing Nazi persecutions) and think the USA is Satan. These idiots cannot understand that Hitler would have used not 1, but 1000 A-bombs a day, had the Germans made one. Anyway, my point is that education is a life-long process, and there are certain individuals for whom the process will never materialize to any worthwhile extent. You should not waste your time with them. In fact, if I were as energetic as you, I would direct my efforts towards supporting an orphanage. There is always hope with the younger generation (but not for long). Cheers!

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “Every war crime committed by the Japanese against the 23 million Chinese dead is there.”

      As is every war crime committed by the USA against the millions of German and Japanese civilians.

      “But these idiots only see two atom bombs (which were built by foreign scientists fleeing Nazi persecutions)”

      Still trying to make out that the US didn’t design and carry out the mass murder of a million people? The fact is that neither the Germans or the Japanese had any chance of dropping a bomb on the continental USA.

      You, Heshan, with your homophobia, bigotry, racism, and outright ignorance are a prime example of why the internet is no substitute either for an education or intelligence.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Suren,

    I feel that I must second Prof Heshan’s misgivings. After all, with 240 opinions involved there is a dangerous possibility that one of them might disagree with Heshan. Specifically, they might have sympathies for gays or Muslims that Heshan finds repulsive. Also it is unclear how many of the 240 had received a proper Anglican upbringing as Heshan.

    Therefore I recommend the far more straightforward solution of relying on Prof Heshan for everything. Heshan wanted to suggest this himself but he was too modest.

  • Heshan

    “However, Japanese civilians “were often surprised at the comparatively humane treatment they received from the American enemy.”[72][73] According to Islands of Discontent: Okinawan Responses to Japanese and American Power by Mark Selden, the Americans “did not pursue a policy of torture, rape, and murder of civilians as Japanese military officials had warned.”[74]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_war_crimes_during_World_War_II

    If wishes were horses, Blacker would ride!

    And that “millions of Japanese and Germans civilians killed by Americans” statistic is truly the joke of the year. Third-rate commentators like Blacker forget which way the fleeing Germans ran when Berlin was under siege – that’s right, in the directions of the Americans and British. Also interesting how Blacker never mentions Soviet atrocities which outnumbered the Allied aerial bombings (aerial bombings which Blacker considers to be some kind of cataclysmic war crime of the millenium). Then again, I would be surprised if he could even point out the (former) Soviet Union on a map.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “aerial bombings which Blacker considers to be some kind of cataclysmic war crime of the millenium”

      Well a over a million civilians killed is pretty cataclysmic to me.

      So your justification of American war crimes is that Hitler and Stalin killed more people? :D

      “Then again, I would be surprised if he could even point out the (former) Soviet Union on a map.”

      This from the guy who thinks that:

      The US didn’t create the atom bombs used on Hiroshima & Nagasaki.
      There was no general election in SL in 2001.
      North Korea is not a member of the UN.
      Obersturmbannfuhrer Bruno Geir was an American soldier.
      Ranil Wickramasinghe was not elected to parliament.
      Yapahuwa was captured by a naval force.

      Rear Admiral Heshan quotes: ““However, Japanese civilians “were often surprised at the comparatively humane treatment they received from the American enemy.””

      How come you left out this bit, admiral: “Soon after the U.S. Marines landed, all the women of a village on Motobu Peninsula fell into the hands of American soldiers. At the time, there were only women, children and old people in the village, as all the young men had been mobilized for the war. Soon after landing, the Marines “mopped up” the entire village, but found no signs of Japanese forces. Taking advantage of the situation, they started “hunting for women” in broad daylight and those who were hiding in the village or nearby air raid shelters were dragged out one after another.”

      And this bit: “There were also 1,336 reported rapes during the first 10 days of the occupation of Kanagawa prefecture after the Japanese surrender.” Since you’re not very good at arithmetic, let me tell you that that’s over 136 rapes a day just in ONE prefecture! Wow, Heshan, you’d make a great defence lawyer one day :D

  • Heshan

    *which outnumbered the Allied aerial bombings 100 to 1.

    If you look at the treatment of POWs on both sides, the point is easily brought home:

    Comparative death rates of POWs

    According to James D. Morrow, “Death rates of POWs held is one measure of adherence to the standards of the treaties because substandard treatment leads to death of prisoners.” The “democratic states generally provide good treatment of POWs”.[77]
    [edit] Death rates of POWs held by Axis powers

    * Chinese POWs held by Japan: 56 reported survivors at the end of the war[78]
    * U.S. and British Commonwealth POWs held by Germany: ~4% [77]
    * Soviet POWs held by Germany: 57.5% [79]
    * Western Allied POWs held by Japan: 27% [80] (Figures for Japan may be misleading though, as sources indicate that either 10,800 [81] or 19,000 [82] of 35,756 fatalities among Allied POW’s were from “friendly fire” at sea when their transport ships were sunk. Nonetheless, the Geneva convention required the labeling of such craft as POW ships, which the Japanese neglected to do.)

    [edit] Death rates of POWs held by the Allies

    * German POWs in East European (not including the Soviet Union) hands 32.9%[79]
    * German soldiers held by Soviet Union: 15–33% (14.7% in The Dictators by Richard Overy, 35.8% in Ferguson)[79]
    * Japanese POWs held by Soviet Union: 10%[citation needed]
    * German POWs in British hands 0.03%[79]
    * German POWs in American hands 0.15%[79]
    * German POWs in French hands 2.58%[79]
    * Japanese POWs held by U.S.: relatively low, mainly suicides according to James D. Morrow.[83]
    * Japanese POWs in Chinese hands: 24%[citation needed]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_war_crimes_during_World_War_II

    So, German POWs in British hands had a 0.03% chance of being killed, while German POWs in American hands had a 0.15% chance of being killed. On the other hand, German POWs in Soviet captivity had a 15-33% chance of being killed. Of course, it was Stalin who gave direct orders to the Soviets to behave like animals.

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    I feel that I must second Prof Heshan’s misgivings. After all, with 240 opinions involved there is a dangerous possibility that one of them might disagree with Heshan.

    Don’t worry, there is hope for you too:

    “A short rejoinder in the Time magazine (July 13, 1962), noted: “In Colombo last week, a Buddhist monk and herbalist named Talduwe Somarama mounted a prison scaffold and was hanged. Somarama’s crime: the 1959 assassination of Ceylon’s primeminister Solomon W.R.D. Bandaranaike. In a confession he later retracted, Somarama said he committed the deed because the prime minister favored western medical techniques over Oriental herb medicine. Prison officials reported that 24 hours before he was hanged, Somarama had himself baptized a Christian so that he could ask God for the forgiveness of sin that cannot be found in the Buddhist religion.

    http://www.sangam.org/2009/10/Bandaranaike_Assassination_3.php?uid=3710

  • Krish

    Wijayapala

    Thanks for the link. I read it with great interest. Plenty of observations to make (you may know many of those already) for both your post and the link that you gave. :)

    1. Yes, the Sinahala folks probably didn’t understand clearly the caste differences of Tamil society. Tamil society has been and still continues to be divided along caste lines as Ragavan says. It is very true of TN where the Vellala equivalents like Nayakars, Gounders(or Kounders), Vanniyars, Thevars (Kallar, Maravar, Agamudayors) etc literally rule TN’s lowest caste Dalits with utmost ruthlessness. Doesn’t surprise me that SL Tamils are no different. In TN, recently these upper castes have been denying entries to Dalits in their villages, or taking water from ponds or entering temples. Like the Karaiyars in SL, the Dalits rely heavily on Communist parties to come to their rescue.

    2. Coming back to SL, here is where Ragavan (from your link) makes sense to me. TULF should have taken an active role for protecting minority rights in SL in a non-violent way, which it did not. When you suddenly have a bunch of inexperienced youth to fill the gap, things get worse and that probably lead all the way up to militancy.

    Regarding the other points:

    1. Yes, the Brahmin community in TN has this strange idea of not crossing the ocean although most Hindu temples in US have Tamil Brahmin priests. People like G Parthasarathy, Cho Ramaswamy, Subramaniam Swamy, Colonel Hariharan and even Jayalalitha (contrary to the recent belief that she supported LTTE) are all Brahmin Tamils, who would never ever embrace the idea of Dravidianism let alone Tamil separatism. The 80s was about the most challenging time in Tamil Brahmins’ recent history given the rise of militance in SL preceded by Tamil separatism in India. The 3% Brahmin community was virtually kicked out of political power after DMK came to power in the 60s. But that is all beside the point I guess.

    2. I am also surprised to see an Aiyar being LTTE’s cashier or something like that in the early days.

    3. Agree with you on Thondaman. Tamils in SL need not just a smart leader, but someone who would stand up against this LTTE-type rhetoric that goes on and on. Seriously, this rhetoric has to stop and I wonder sometimes what’s so wrong that a chunk of folks embrace this idea. And I have seen some Srilankan Tamils in India who speak highly of Srilanka as a nation. But, those were older generation folks who haven the good old Srilanka when things were under control.

    If I may draw your attention on more serious issues, Wijayapala…

    1. How exactly should the Tamil community move forward in your opinion? And how should the Sinhala majority folks act?

    2. Talkiing about the Tamil equivalent of Gandhi, I had come across interviews S C Chandrahasan (son of Chelvanayakam I think). What exactly does his organization do in SL and what support does he enjoy among SL Tamils? I also read this interview 2 years ago.
    http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/mar/24inter.htm

    best wishes
    Krish

    • yapa

      Dear Krish;

      Thank you very much, specially for the interview of S C Chandrahasan.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Krish

      From a cultural, historical and religious standpoint India can allow free movement of SL folks into India, that fear might go down a little bit.

      Another Indian friend of mine had proposed the same solution. Although I applaud your intent and open mind, I’m afraid it won’t work. There are simply too few Sinhalese to make an impact. Even if all Sinhalese were to migrate to India, they would just be a drop in the bucket.

      The real problem is not so much the insecurity- which all human beings have to live with in various degrees- but really how we react to this insecurity. This is where we (Sinhalese) have failed. We allowed our ignorance of the Tamils (and others) to mesh with our insecurity in a very irrational manner that led to violence. So really, our (Sinhalese) task is to overcome our ignorance. It is our burden.

      I do think your idea will help us overcome our insularity. Learning about how our neighbors do things will give us a perspective on our own.

      I am also surprised to see an Aiyar being LTTE’s cashier or something like that in the early days.

      Very perceptive. Iyer along with many others left the LTTE in the 1980s as they became shocked with what was transpiring (I believe Iyer is somewhere in Europe). The LTTE did have a few Brahmins, like Maavaikumaran who was Thamilselvan’s bodyguard- quite interesting given that Thamilselvan was a Dalit! Although the LTTE did a decent job quashing casteism within the organisation, it never really changed Tamil society as a whole and tended to sweep discrimination under the rug.

      How exactly should the Tamil community move forward in your opinion? And how should the Sinhala majority folks act?

      The Tamils cannot do very much in the condition they are currently in, other than rebuild. Therefore my answer will focus on Sinhalese. Probably the most immediate thing we can do is to move out the thousands of soldiers in Jaffna peninsula and dismantle the High Security Zones. The police should take over security, with the Navy covering the coastal waters.

      The next step is to implement Tamil as an official language and make Sri Lanka a true trilingual state. This is much easier said than done. Perhaps India can provide some assistance here, as there are states that have English, Hindi, and the state’s majority language like Marathi, Kannada etc.

      Talkiing about the Tamil equivalent of Gandhi, I had come across interviews S C Chandrahasan (son of Chelvanayakam I think). What exactly does his organization do in SL and what support does he enjoy among SL Tamils?

      Chandrahasan’s organisation OfERR is probably the largest that works with Tamil refugees in India (not SL). He used to support Tamil militancy in the 1980s but has since become a critic of the LTTE, and he is also a supporter of the Indian government which provides protection to him. As he has been gone from Sri Lanka for so long, many Sri Lankan Tamils probably have never even heard of him. Why do you ask?

      • Krish

        Dear Wijayapala,

        Wonderful points and thanks for your good words. Here are my observations quoting your points in bold.

        Although I applaud your intent and open mind, I’m afraid it won’t work. There are simply too few Sinhalese to make an impact. Even if all Sinhalese were to migrate to India, they would just be a drop in the bucket.
        I agree that the Sinhalese are few in number (by population let alone density in SL) as to make an impact. But that alone is a great positve for it doesn’t alter demographies in India either linguistically or religiously very much, even if every single Sinhala person migrated to India (hypothetically). Besides, the presence of Sinhalese folks could help Indians in particular to discover and research a whole bunch of Buddhist history that has been lost/destroyed over the years. Imagine how Buddhism was dominating the whole cultural, political, educational landscape of India 2000 years ago! And Siddhartha Gautama was himself from India (almost…if you keep Lumbini off for a second).

        And that reminds me of Nepal as well. Nepal folks are allowed to go to most states in India as they like. Live as long as they want but cannot vote in elections or apply for certain types of Government jobs. And like SL folks, theirs is a less dense and numerically small country as well.

        And even some of my Pakistani friends keep visiting their ancestral lands in India from time to time, despite the continueed hostility between the two nations. That has helped things move forward with initiatives like “Aman ki asha” etc with folks from both sides coming together.

        With LTTE gone, even if Tamil folks wanted to move around freely in India, that is ok too. That is better than getting stuck in refugee camps in TN as many have done in the past.

        The Tamils cannot do very much in the condition they are currently in, other than rebuild. Therefore my answer will focus on Sinhalese. Probably the most immediate thing we can do is to move out the thousands of soldiers in Jaffna peninsula and dismantle the High Security Zones. The police should take over security, with the Navy covering the coastal waters.
        Good points! With tigers out of picture, it makes sense to reduce military expenditure given that Tamils are tired of war and also because India would not arm anyone in SL anymore.

        The next step is to implement Tamil as an official language and make Sri Lanka a true trilingual state. This is much easier said than done. Perhaps India can provide some assistance here, as there are states that have English, Hindi, and the state’s majority language like Marathi, Kannada etc.
        If I may ask,
        a. How do you go about it? Aren’t we just out of a war after a period of polarization? Should we rush to it or should it be gradual? I am interested in your perspectives on this issue.
        b. If I may ask, are you a good speaker of Tamil as well? I read somewhere in GV that you wanted to read some Tamil author’s book in Tamil itself. That’s why!
        c. Finally, what percentage of Tamils read/write Sinhala at the moment? Fewer than what it was 50 years ago (percentage wise)?

        So really, our (Sinhalese) task is to overcome our ignorance. It is our burden.
        You are very broad-minded and kind. Talking about ignorance, I am a Tamilian myself and the lack of any knowledge about SL frankly worries me. While most Tamilians in TN know Amitabh Bachchan or Shah rukh Khan, they don’t know who a Lester James Peiris or Gamini Fonseka is/was. So, in a way, this is a problem for both sides. I would say that Indians, particularly TN folks need to understand SL history more than what they currently know.

        Long post already! I will respond to your other points in a separate post. :)

  • Krish

    Dear Humanist,

    I think it’s brilliant that you consider that the Sinhala language and people should be accommodated in India. Strengthening their Indian roots would help overcome some of the besieged mentality that Sinhalese suffer from and the notion that somehow they fell from the sky into their little island. It would hopefully also keep at bay the geo-political leanings towards China. Unless we forget our petty ethnic differences and stand together as the South Asian region, our prospects in the new global order remain bleak.
    Yes, sure that is one thing about India that is good (in the midst of all troubles). The fundamental sense of insecurity in the minds of majority Sinhalese is the fact that SL is the only country where Sinhala/Sinhalese are significantly present, let alone a majority. From a cultural, historical and religious standpoint India can allow free movement of SL folks into India, that fear might go down a little bit. And please note that Tamils in India feel less paranoid simply because they are one of the many minorities with no majority group worrying them. And same is true of every single linguistic group. And
    Sri Lanka and India have so much in common from religion, culture, language etc. Yes, our childish sense of insecurity coupled with anger and fear makes us fight with one another. That is perhaps the biggest problem of South Asia.

    I like your name/account (humanist). We need more people like you. :)

    • http://srilankalandoftheblind.blogspot.com/ PresiDunce Bean

      Dear Krish,
      You said, “Yes, our childish sense of insecurity coupled with anger and fear makes us fight with one another. That is perhaps the biggest problem of South Asia.” I agree totally!

      Those in the majority who think that JUST because they are a numerical majority they have the right to ride rough shod over the minorities, should keep these quotes in mind:

      “I am neither an Athenian nor a Greek, but a citizen of the world.” -Scorates-

      “A nation is a society united by a delusion about its ancestry and by common hatred of its neighbours.” -William Ralph Inge-

      “Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism – how passionately I hate them!” -Albert Einstein-

      “Can anything be stupider than that a man has the right to kill me because he lives on the other side of a river and his ruler has a quarrel with mine, though I have not quarrelled with him?” -Blaise Pascal-

      “It is lamentable, that to be a good patriot one must become the enemy of the rest of mankind.” -Voltaire-

      The greater the state, the more wrong and cruel its patriotism, and the greater is the sum of suffering upon which its power is founded. -Leo Tolstoy-

      And finally…
      “Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”
      - Mark Twain –

      I wonder what those who shout the loudest, day in day out on groundviews have to say about these quotes especially the last quote?

      • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

        But Mr Dunce, the last time I checked it was you that was shouting “If at first you don’t SECEDE, TRY TRY AGAIN!”

        Shouldn’t you be reading those quotes to yourself in front of the mirror?

  • Heshan

    Although the LTTE did a decent job quashing casteism within the organisation, it never really changed Tamil society as a whole and tended to sweep discrimination under the rug.

    Another amazing revelation, unfortunately, one that is about as meaningful as [Edited out.] Do you know of any guerilla movement in South India, during any point in history, that put guns and other weapons into the hands of women? The way that the LTTE recruited and trained women to fight – even in direct combat operations – is both revolutionary and unprecedented. Not even the Western armies allow women to take on such a heavy role. So, gender equality was at least one concept embraced by the LTTE that had a sweeping impact across (Sri Lankan) Tamil society.

    P.S: I should also mention that these women fought well in battle. It would be interesting to have seen the outcome, had traditional weapons, instead of Western-imported ones been used in the war.

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan,

      Kindly list how many of the LTTE’s senior commanders/leaders were women, and please include their names. Thank you.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      “Do you know of any guerilla movement in South India, during any point in history, that put guns and other weapons into the hands of women? The way that the LTTE recruited and trained women to fight – even in direct combat operations – is both revolutionary and unprecedented.”

      You forgot to mention that no other organisation in South Asia empowered children quite the way the Tigers did either ;) putting automatic weapons and other high explosives into the hands of children and teaching them to kill. I’m sure your admiration for VP and the Tigers must cover this area too.

      The reason the Tigers used women and children as combatants wasn’t because they were proponents of gender equality and practical apprenticeships, but because they didn’t have enough men to fight effectively. No women ever commanded anything above a field unit, which while having fancy designations such as regiments and brigades, were rarely above battalion-sized, and usually of company-strength.

      “I should also mention that these women fought well in battle. It would be interesting to have seen the outcome, had traditional weapons, instead of Western-imported ones been used in the war.”

      Well, [Edited out], the women Tigers performed well in certain situations, and badly in others. And their weaknesses were often well known by the Tigers and exploited by the SL Army. The Tigers avoided, whenever possible, the use of women in situations where there might be hand-to-hand combat, because the average woman cannot overpower the average man. Similarly, Army infantry units would, whenever faced with a female Tiger unit, attempt to close with them and overrun their positions in aggressive assaults. The 6th Sinha did this several times at Elephant Pass in 1991 with great success when the Tigers had captured portions of the perimeter and were holding them with female troops. The Sinha riflemen retook the positions using fire-and-movement to get in close before overrunning them in frontal assaults.

  • Humanist

    Suren,

    I totally agree with you on your misgivings about INGOs and Solheim. By civil society I did not mean them, but a more locally-grounded movement for change. I was impressed by the moment created by Sri Lanka First, which was an initiative that came from the business community (and I don’t belong to that group) when they managed to make a human chain for peace in the streets of Colombo some years ago – ordinary people from all ethnic groups and walks of life joined. Unfortunately, they could not sustain that moment. Within the current political context, getting people together physically would be difficult but at least if we can people to agree on a set of basic points, such as yours that would be a start.

    I cannot claim to speak for the Muslims, Malays and Veddahs but from my understanding, I would say that the Muslims would want an assurance that they would never be “ethnically cleansed” from any Tamil or Sinhalese majority region, and I would assume that Malays and Veddahs would want to retain their languages and some of their other cultural traditions and be respected for these.

    Krish, thank you for appreciating my comments and for affirming that at the end of the day we are all human beings who want respect, dignity and belonging. And let’s do our part for a strong, democratic and humane South Asian region.

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala:

    Colonel Thurka † 5 April 2009(2009-04-05) Sothiya Regiment commander A female commander of the LTTE, she is the leader of the all female Sothiya Regiment.[17] Reported to have been killed during Sri Lanka Army attacks on 5 April 2009.

    Colonel Vithusha † 5 April 2009(2009-04-05) Maalathi Regiment commander A female commander of the LTTE, and the leader of the all female Maalathi Regiment.[17] Reported to have been killed during Sri Lanka Army attacks on 5 April 2009.

    Sothiya
    (Sothia) † Maria Vasanthi Michael 20 September 1963(1963-09-20) 11 January 1990(1990-01-11) (aged 26) She died of illness in 1990 and had one of the female fighting formations of the LTTE, the Sothiya Regiment, named after her.[42]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_commanders_of_the_LTTE

    What about the Malathy Brigade?

    “One of the elite battalions of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), 2nd Lt.Malathy Brigade, completed 12th Anniversary of its inauguration Tuesday. Constituted as a fully fledged military battalian within the overall organization of the LTTE,”

    http://videos.desishock.net/253065/Dedication-to-2nd-Lt.Malathy-Brigade–12th-Anniversary

    There were also women in the Sea Tigers and of course, women who functioned as intelligence operatives, and important women suicide bombers. To my knowledge, women played a combat role in every major LTTE operation – e.g. Elephant Pass I, Elephant Pass II, Mullaitivu, etc.

    The successful use of women is a testament to the superior organizational skills of Prabhakaran.

    • wijayapala

      Prof Heshan

      So you are saying that out of over 45 commanders listed on your website, Prabakaran felt that only THREE of them deserved to be female?

      You make it sound more like Prabakaran was far more skilled at using Tamil women (and children) as cannon fodder.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      As I said, no female Tiger commanded anything larger than a reinforced company or small battalion. No woman rose above the rank of colonel.

      Using women doesn’t require any special organisational skills as far as I know :D

  • Humanist

    “The successful use of women is a testament to the superior organizational skills of Prabhakaran.”

    What has this worthy effort by Suren deteriorated to?

    The problem precisely is that men who advocate and use violence manage to successfully use and abuse women. That is part of the problem – not the solution. And certainly nothing to be admired.

    I thought we were discussing how to build a just and equitable Sri Lanka for all in this thread…

    • Krish

      Humanist,

      I completely agree with you! The discussion was going fine until Heshan suddenly went off-tangent by bringing in his utterly irrelevant point of guerilla movements in South India and their ineffective/inefficient usage of women in combats. It doesn’t help anyone if someone hijacks discussions like this. But who am I to complain. :)

  • Humanist

    Nor is ab/using women anything to laugh about, David.

    • http://www.blacklightarrow.wordpress.com David Blacker

      Indeed. Which is why I prefer to laugh at Heshan.

      • Humanist

        Laughing at Heshan is pointless. Whenever you do that he gets an adrenalin rush. I used to engage with Heshan in good faith and all I got in return was his endless desire to score points. He is outside the frame of any kind of rational discourse.

        I think it’s better to stick with the discussion initiated by Suren in good faith. Heshan is not interested in buidling a better Sri Lanka, a better South Asia or a better world for that matter. He sits in the crumbling empire of USA and thinks that it has got everything from politics to culture right.