Colombo, Long Reads, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance, Reconciliation

Reconciling Sri Lanka

Due to Sri Lanka’s geographically strategic location coupled with its natural and economic resources the absence of war will give us a chance to move in the direction of a vibrant South Asian economy based on a fiscal program concentrating on exports, tourism, self sufficiency and Post War infrastructural development. However, this cannot be achieved by one section of Sri Lankan citizens alone and it will take inter community cooperation and coordination for Sri Lanka to emerge into its true potential. Hence, it is essential that we are sensitive to ethno political and social grievances when we work towards a climate in which all Sri Lankans can share the benefits of economic and infrastructural development.

The real question we should be asking ourselves right now is whether we can create more opportunities for ourselves to establish a sustainable peace with the end of war in Sri Lanka by creating a culture of inclusiveness, equality and respect for all communities in the motherland. A broader, stronger and longer homegrown reconciliation process will be a good ‘first step’ in this direction.

Two ‘universal’ theoretical underpinnings should be taken into account in any Sri Lankan post war reconciliation process. Firstly, learning our lessons from the last 30 years of war and 60 years of conflict must be based upon the twin reconciliation principles of promoting historical revisionism over denial and minimizing cultural dissonance. For the stability of our country and future of our children it would bode well for all Sri Lankan citizens to work towards upholding and utilizing these two principles as a basis for learning lessons from the past during a reconciliation process. Secondly, there must be a focus on improving social cohesion during a post war reconciliation process. Hence positive and negative social cohesion trends could be used as indicators to monitor the health of a reconciliation process. If we take these concepts into account when designing a practical and inclusive truth and reconciliation process we may be able to build a more stable peace in Sri Lanka. This is no simple matter and it will have to be examined in greater detail then what is presented in this article. However, it is important that all citizens exchange our ideas on how we can live together peacefully in this country and this article attempts to get the ball rolling on this discourse. Hence, let us start with the two basic principles.

Two Reconciliation Principles

If we only look at one side of the past or if we look at the past from only one perspective, chances are high that we will miss critical aspects through which we could learn lessons for the future. Historical revisionism entails the refinement of existing knowledge about a historical event without denying that the event itself took place. Refinement comes through the examination of all empirical evidence by accounting for all knowledge about a particular historical event in a ‘better light’. We must be able to acknowledge a body of convergent indisputable knowledge in a manner that helps us to understand whether a historical event did occur in the manner that it did. This form of legitimacy is essential in a post war reconciliation context. Denying historical events and the manner in which they occurred rejects the entire foundation of historical evidence and is thus detrimental towards building social cohesion on the long term. Hence, we must promote historical revisionism over denying what happened in the past. The Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission is a step in this direction, but it must be made stronger and allowed to operate for a longer period of time.

Cultural dissonance is an uncomfortable sense of discord, disharmony, confusion and conflict experienced by people in the midst of a changing cultural environment. There are three root causes for cultural dissonance to increase and they are all best on ‘change’. Firstly, to a particular community social, political or economic changes could be seen as unexplained. Secondly, these changes could be seen as unexpected. And thirdly, these changes may be perceived to be not understandable. Hence, everyone must be given the opportunity to explain, understand and then expect ‘change’. Hence, it is essential to have a reconciliation process that will minimize cultural dissonance by giving all people the opportunity and access to present their own perspectives on critical reconciliation related issues. Furthermore, such an opportunity will also give people the right to experience different perspectives thus creating a chance for people to build a more socially cohesive configuration. In the present context, only the Sri Lankan State has the capacity to evolve strong mechanisms that will create the space and legitimize the right of its own citizens to present their perspectives on a reconciliation based issues. What it lacks is the will to move forward on genuine reconciliation and only the people can foster such a ‘will’ in the Sri Lankan state.

Taking these principles in tandem will ensure that a reconciliation process based on learning lessons from the past will aid us to understand the ‘truth’ about what happened in the past in a more practical sense. It will be a painful process but if we really want sustainable peace we will have to face the violent demons of Sri Lanka’s past.

Social Cohesion as an Indicator of a Reconciliation Process

In a situation of cultural diversity, social cohesion is a term used to describe socio dynamics that increase positive social interactivity between people in society. The definition of social cohesion is broad because it is a multifaceted notion covering different types of social phenomenon. While the definition is broad the indicators that are used to monitor basic human needs in relation to social cohesion are much clearer.  Hence, positive or negative trends in relation to social cohesion can be utilized as indicators of whether socio – political relations between different groups are good or bad. There are five different dimensions of social cohesion:

Material conditions: Are fundamental to social cohesion, particularly employment, income, health, education and housing. Relations between and within communities suffer when people lack work and endure hardship, debt, anxiety, low self-esteem, ill-health, poor skills and bad living conditions. These basic necessities of life are the foundations of a strong social fabric. They are also indicators of social progress.

Social Order:  Is mainly in relation to safety and freedom from fear, or “passive social relationships”. Tolerance and respect for other people, along with peace and security, are hallmarks of a stable and harmonious society.

Positive interactions, exchanges and networks between individuals and communities: Is mainly in relation to the quantity and quality of contacts and connections between individuals and communities which become potential resources for places since they offer people and organizations mutual support, information, trust and credit of various kinds.

The extent of social inclusion or integration of people into the mainstream institutions of civil society: Including people’s sense of belonging to a state that is based upon the strength of shared experiences, identities and values between those from different backgrounds.

Social equality: Is in reference to the level of fairness or disparity in access to opportunities or material circumstances, such as income, health or quality of life, or in future life chances. It is possible to utilize material conditions indicators for this purpose but the emphasis here is upon any form of disparity in material conditions between different community groups.

In addition to these 5 dimensions there are an additional number of sub dimensions in each of these 5 dimensions which are indicators in relation to the positive or negative dynamic of each trend. These 5 dimensions and their sub dimensions can be utilized as a basic framework to monitor or promote social cohesion in a reconciliation process. I could not include them here because it would have elongated this article, but they can be discussed and researched further if it is needed. When taken as a ‘whole’ these social cohesion dimensions can be used as a Social Cohesion Matrix, reverse engineered to suit the Sri Lankan context. We could then adopt this framework to design and monitor social cohesion during Sri Lanka’s reconciliation process. However, it must be very humbly said that this is only a basic framework which must be expanded through dialogue.

A Homegrown Sri Lankan Reconciliation Process

Utilizing historical revisionism over denial and the minimization of cultural dissonance as a principles in the design of a reconciliation process for Sri Lanka would increase the chances of sustaining such a process and reduce the chances of long term conflict re escalation. By monitoring any aspect of the reconciliation process utilizing social cohesion as an indicator we would at least be given the opportunity to asses, compensate and reorient different aspects of the process. However, the most important issue in a homegrown Sri Lankan reconciliation process would be whether the process itself can synergize with contextual factors, actors and dynamics in the Sri Lankan socio political environment. Therefore there should be five contextual areas of importance in relation to such a process: (1) All Internal Actors, (2) Internal Mechanisms for Reconciliation, (3) Internal Reconciliatory Attitudes, (4) Internal outcomes from the Reconciliation process and (5) All External Actors. None of these areas are ‘set in stone’ they are fluid and interchanging at many levels. They represent only a proto stage set of proposals for a broader, stronger and longer Sri Lankan reconciliation process which must be designed through the interaction and participation of all Sri Lankan citizens. A very basic representative diagram is available in order to visualize what it could look like.

However, the real fact of the matter lies in the hearts and minds of our people. Do we really want to reach out our hands to people who believe to be our significant ‘other’? Can we really get over years of bloodshed and violence? Can we really forgive ourselves and the people who committed violence against us? The answers to these questions lie in the future. But the course of action we take depends upon you and how you can influence our leaders, our state and our beloved motherland towards a greater and brighter future. My appeal is that we do not let this opportunity slide away from us. No war, no peace nor end of war is perfect. It is only in the purity of thought in pursuing peace, respect and harmony between communities that we can reach perfection. This article represents the tip of an iceberg representing a younger generation battered and scarred by years of war. The chains of communal ignorance will not bind us further. One day, we will rise together by not only respecting our differences but enjoying them in a deeper respect for each other. Our future is already written. It is inevitable and the only choice left to us is whether we wish to start the true process of reconciliation now or later.

  • Punitham

    Kanishka

    Thank you for the loveliest gift all Sri Lankans can get.
    What a wonderful start for the New Year.
    Thank you again.

  • luxmy

    What a pleasant surprise – let’s make the most of it, folks.
    Kanishka, how can we thank you enough for this on this New Year’s Day?

  • eureka

    An excellent beginning for 2011.
    Thanks, Kanishka.

  • Vino Gamage

    Kanishka, thank you for beginning the New Year with such positive thoughts.

  • renu

    Kanishka, you are an angel bringing heaps of hopes.
    Thank you.

  • wijayapala

    Dear Kanishka,

    Your intent might be good, you haven’t really addressed any of the challenges in implementing reconciliation specific to Sri Lanka. It seemed that you just had a model, maybe the same cookie-cutter sort of idea touted by the iNGOs, and believe that you can apply this model to Sri Lanka without taking much else into consideration.

    I was particularly struck by the lack of addressing any specific issue. How will you handle the cries for war crimes investigation and the opposition to it? Or the issue of devolution? Or the role of “flag-wavers” in foreign countries?

  • Heshan

    The current view holds that the war was a “humanitarian operation”, that there were “zero civilian casualties”, and that there are no “races” on the island, only “those who love the motherland.” Surely, this is revisionism of a different sort – albeit, one backed by regularly renewable Emergency Regulations. These myths need to be shattered, if the type of social cohesion that KR speaks about is to be realized. You cannot bury deep wounds with hollow words and the barrel of a gun – I have met American Blacks in the 21st century who are still upset over 19th century slavery. Ask the Jews of today if they are willing to forget the Holocaust. The LLRC, like the APRC Committee is a farce – if it had any mandate worth mentioning, it would not have been allowed to convene in the first place. The LLRC will not promote social cohesion. Ultimately, social cohesion will not come from the top, but spread upwards from the bottom, as KR has suggested. It is up to the people to exert pressure on their leaders to institute viable reforms. The Tamil diaspora’s recent victory at the OU should be a wake-up call to the complacent Sinhalese. Peaceful protest does indeed work – bullets, tanks, entire armies cannot stop a whole nation in revolt. The day that Tamils get justice is when all Lankans get justice – on that day, you may burn your national identity card and walk from North to South of the island, without crossing a checkpoint. Hearts and minds indeed…may I end by mentioning what the greatest expositor of a certain philosophy (that needs no mentioning here) once said, “It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles.”

  • Davidson

    Kanishka,
    Thank you for a clear explanation.
    I’ve been very saddened to find some commentators on GV unable to see the difference between causes and consequences. When you have an intractable problem you look at the causes and see how they can be changed. Cursing the consequences won’t change the causes. Tackling the causes will.
    As long as a pot has a hole, water is going to drip out of it.
    As long as we don’t mend the hole, we’re going to need an endless supply of containers to catch the dripping water.

  • Bhoor

    As Wijapala said, this article hasn’t addressed the core issue that is political solution to the Tamils. Even the enhanced version of 13A solutions that Tamils think less than satisfactory while GoSL proposes the home-grown solution that is a total joke.

  • yapa

    Dear Kanishka Ratnapriya

    “Two ‘universal’ theoretical underpinnings should be taken into account in any Sri Lankan post war reconciliation process. Firstly, learning our lessons from the last 30 years of war and 60 years of conflict must be based upon the twin reconciliation principles of promoting historical revisionism over denial and minimizing cultural dissonance.”

    Can you please explain how you arrived at this “Two ‘universal’ theoretical underpinnings?

    Please also tell us why those two numbers you mentioned should not /cannot be replaced by some other two numbers suggested by somebody else? Give us the reasons why those two numbers are the most fitting numbers for those slots?

    (I have heard that arbitrary and authoritarian ideas and decisions are the most harming to good governance and administration of any society or an organisation. It is said that such notions should be abolished for justifiable society. A person should be able to justify his opinions or claims especially when it is offer or applied to common forum or broad society. That is ideas brought forward related to common interests have to be rational. The progammes/projects based on arbitrary or authoritative ideas,are immoral and bring only chaos at the end.)

    I think you have to justify “foundation” of the article.

    Thanks!

  • The Mervyn Silva

    The Kanishka,

    I am very ipressed by your thoughts and the diagram also all of which I am thinking are your own. I am showing the diagram to my wife and she is going, “Shaaaaa! Very nice. Just like the wonderland!”

    I am thinking, if you are giving this to big INGO they are also going to be impressed very very much. Might be even giving the money to draw another diagram. Maybe even two. There is nothing wrong with that. Even Our Majesty is doing that, growing solutions in the home and showing it to the outside people so that he can be getting something even if solution is goig in the bucket. I am thinking we are all the same at the end of the day, whether we are king, INGO person, politican, manager or just everyday working class man. We are all trying to get somthing from somebody by showing the trick.

    Please not be thinking that I am making your effort looking small or being sarcastic. I am the Mervyn Silva, I am never sarcastic. I am admiring your thoughts very much and also the graphic skills. I am much older than you and I am never getting good thought, sometimes no toughts at all and my graphic skills are toally in the wrongside. I cannot even make the face smile on the screen even after getting the tip from the Wijayapala and the Travelling Academic. So I am always admiring good drawing people. But I am also wanting you, as young man having good thoughts and drawing skills to be remembering that we are living in the Lankaland, not the wonderland. Let me be giving you example.

    You are talking about the five contextual areas:

    (1) All Internal Actors, (2) Internal Mechanisms for Reconciliation, (3) Internal Reconciliatory Attitudes, (4) Internal outcomes from the Reconciliation process and (5) All External Actors.

    Very nice. Now you come to my area and see if you are able to be putting this into practice, talking to the people about internal actors and external actors.In my area I am big internal actor. In fact I am acting most of the time. You are coming to my area and telling my people how to be reconiciling I am going to be tying you to not one but two coconut trees which is on the very very painful side. And just to be showing you that things can be setting in the stone I might just set you in the stone also. That is my internal mechanism for reconciliation and my internal attitude to reconciliation also. Internal outcome is going to be that you are never going to be coming to my area again with your diagram. And just what do you thik the extrernal actors are going to be saying? They are going to be standing there, laughing like idiots and clapping the hand, maybe even filming the whole thing. And if some extrenal actors are going to be making the noise I will be getting you to write nice letter, maybe with the diagram saying that it was you who is tying yourself to the trees and setting yourself in the stone. And please be believeing me you will be writing it!

    What I am trying to be saying is something similar to what the Wijayapala is saying. Nice thoughts are nice but pratical thoughts are nicer. Practical diagrams are even better even if in just the black and the white.

    There is no point in criticising other peoples if I cannot be offering my own solution. Again let me be giving example of the practical reconcilliation. In my kitchen there are two boys who are doing the cooking, one is the Tamil the other the Sinhalese. They are always having the go at each other saying your peoples are doing this to our peoples and so on and the so forth also. One day when the food is getting delayed by all this racket I am telling the two of them, alright, here is the deal, hereafter if you are wanting to be talking about the war you are only going to be talking about the nasty things your own side did, not what the other side did. If I am hearing you talking about the other side you are both set in the stone for ever! What you are thinking is happening? They are not talking to each other after that! Maybe there is not much reconciliatin there but I am getting the food in time and there is the peace and the quiet in the kitchen now. I am not thinking they are not going to be talking to each other forever but if they are wanting to talk now they are knowing the rules. So when they are finally talking to each other I am hoping it is about the cricket, not about the war.

    • Travelling Academic

      “Hear, Hear!” to the Mervyn’s kitchen solution. And wishing
      you the HNY also.

    • wijayapala

      Dear The Mervyn Silva,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am thinking you are much better than me in presenting them.

      I liked kitchen boys story but I am concerned. Kitchen boys might not be saying angry things but they may be having angry thoughts. Maybe there is peace in the kitchen but what kind of peace is that and how long will it last. One boy is not aware of suffering of other boy. How else can they learn other than by talking with each other?

      Kitchen boy today may not be kitchen boy tomorrow. He can even becoming the Cabinet Minister. I am thinking you are knowing the firsthand experience in this. Today there are Ministers like John Seneviratne and Wimal who have this kitchen boy mentality. So even the thoughts of kitchen boys are important for the future.

      • The Mervyn Silva

        Dear the Wijayapala,

        Thanking you for your commentings. Yes, I am also tinking it is important to be expressing the thoughts but you know our peoples, only way they are knowing to be expressing is by shouting. I am thinking, by getting them to talk about their own side the kitchen boys will get into some kind of reconcilliation in two ways; On the one side, they can be looking on the inside and realising what their own side is doing and on the otherside, they may also see the other kitchen boy as less of a demon because he is not putting your side down anymore but talking about his own side. This is a bit like what I am seeing happening on the Groundviews sometimes. Some Sinhalese and Tamil peoples being critical of the extremities of postings from peoples in their own sides.

        On the other hand we can be putting an end to all the nonsense by stopping them from thinkig also. Do not be thinking that this is impossible. In the cabinet we are already having this. Only listening and nodding. No talking, no thinking.

  • Heshan

    The Mervyn Silva & Others,

    It was not KR’s intention to offer a comprehensive resolution to all outstanding issues. He has simply put forth an outline. The main point is that any successful solution will, invariably, implement some/all of KR’s proposals. The outline is intentionally vague for a reason!

    • wijayapala

      The outline is intentionally vague for a
      reason!
      ” Prof Heshan, what is the reason? “The
      main point is that any successful solution will, invariably,
      implement some/all of KR’s proposals.
      ” If ANY solution
      will INVARIABLY implement these proposals, then what is so special
      about the proposals? Shouldn’t we focus on the solution
      itself?

  • niranjan

    Kanishka Ratnapriya,

    Your article was interesting. However, I wish to point out that there will never be reconciliation in this country. It is an interesting concept. But a western one.
    It is not understood very well in an Eastern country such as Sri Lanka.
    One area where Sri Lankans have failed miserably is when it comes to race relations. Building bridges is impossible in this country. It may take us a thousand years to live peacefully. Relations between the two main races in this country is worse today than it ever was(some thought the end of the war will help build bridges). Issues such as dropping the Tamil National anthem has widened this chasm further. Such discriminatory practises must stop.
    “The Sinhalese have mistakenly identified Sinhaleseness with Sri Lanka.” Prof Michael Roberts said this in a recent interview on YATV. Prof Roberts also said that it was a similar in the UK some years ago but now things have changed.
    I am in agreement with him. The Sinhala mindset has to change to accomodate minority aspirations. The full implementation of the 13 amendment to the Constitution will help along with a more enlightened education system.

  • Davidson

    To give a brief corollary of this elaboration:

    The aim should be peace and prosperity for ALL.
    One of the possible pathways is untary government.
    What is the logical process of trying the pathway?

    We’ve been having the problem for six decades because the people who have power have been saying the aim is unitary government.
    What are the possible pathways?

    May 2011 help people cultivate the aim of peace and prosperity for ALL and brainstorm all possible pathways, have democratic debates, eliminate those that are too arduous, …..

    Oops, I’m going into the scientific method of problem-solving.

    That brings us to the education system.

  • Davidson

    ”…But a western one. It is not understood very well in
    an Eastern country such as Sri Lanka. ….” This is the problem.
    All these Eastern countries understandaid UN peacekeeping Force,
    western aid, GSP, Loan from IMF, etc. They don’t understand ”human
    rights of OTHERS”??

  • Davidson

    How do we go about implementing social order, social
    cohesion, social inclusion, social equality ….. ? Starters: i.The
    South raise their opposition to what has been happening in the
    Northeast in the last eighteen months(leave alone the previous 61
    years): ‘’…. 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. .…’’ ii. When you go to
    the Northeast, turn off main roads and go into villages and jungles
    where IDPs are dumped. iii. Bring the following into the attention
    of Environment Agency:
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=33311
    Killed Tamil youth of postal department was an environmentalist, 1
    January 2011: ”Media sources in Jaffna confirmed that Mr.
    Ketheeswaran has been actively engaged in the protests against sand
    excavation and was instrumental in the protests held in
    Kudaththanai. He has also provided in-depth reports to local media
    on the environmental damage inflicted on his village.”
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=33302 Pigs
    of HSZ harm crops, youth electrocuted in Jaffna, 30 December 2010:
    ”Pigs, never heard of in the densely populated Jaffna peninsula
    before, now breed in the thickets of Sri Lanka military occupied
    High Security Zone in Valikaamam and they infiltrate into
    neighbouring villages seriously damaging crops and causing severe
    economic hardship to farmers. On Thursday, a family man,
    25-year-old Chandrasekaran Packiyaraja of Kadduvan West, died of
    electrocution on the spot when he came into contact with live wires
    placed by a farmer to prevent HSZ pigs.” iv. Question the police
    and the occupation army:
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=33314
    Mobile phone saves 5 abductees in Vanni from being taken to South
    v. GoSL gave a pledge to UNHRC 2006 in its application for
    membership. Has it fulfilled it?

  • Kanishka Ratnapriya

    Punitham, Luxmy, eureka, vino, renu thank you the positive
    comments. You guys are my inspiration. But, can I also say that
    your thanks will not be enough. Please get involved in more
    discourses about reconciliation in Sri Lanka, write, edit, engage
    and maybe one day we can all put something together. This is a open
    invitation, and maybe ground views can be our forum for dialog?

    Dear Wijayapala and Bhoor,thank you for your input, please refer to
    Heshan’s reply. In addition to what he has to say, i would also
    like to emphasize that the issues in Sri Lanka must be dealt with
    internally, so it is up to us to address the real issues. And I
    would like to propose that you start to highlight some of the real
    issues. If you look at my diagram, I have done my best to identify
    issues using the people who will be involved and the dynamics. But
    I’m no genius and I cannot identify everything. It would be great
    if we could help each other on this.

    Heshan, your brilliant,conquer your self and there will be no battles. Humility and the elimination of pride is my own personal quest as well. In this day, when the teachings of the enlightened one have been forgotten, it is up to us to re find his path again.

    Davidson, thank you. I agree, we must tackle the causes, but we must have a method, involve everyone for their input and a clear plan on how we can tackle the causes. The article was a very humble attempt at doing so, you are welcome to suggest more please. Dear Yapa, thank you
    for your comments. Although there are a number of academics who
    have propounded these two principles, I will avoid them all because
    I don’t believe in ‘ivory tower’ theorists. On the ground, if we
    don’t understand the ‘truth’ and the perspective of our neighbor,
    we are going to have a problem living together. Its going to get
    uncomfortable if we have past issues, and present issues. So whats
    goo is for us to all to sit together and talk to each other and
    resolve our problems. Thats my very basic logic to the two
    principles in my article.

    Dear Niranjan, thank you for your comment. It is not only the Sinhala mindset that has to change, but also the tamil mindset. In fact, it will be harder to change the Tamil mindset then the Sinhala mindset because of the way the war ended. But what we must understand is that ‘we’ must all change our mindsets. If we hold onto the past and let our hatred build without sitting down together and talking to each other about it. It will grow again and slowly destroy our society. Dear The

    Mervyn Silva, first of all thank you and a very happy new year to you sir, jaya weiwa and might I add that it is always good to have a celebrity commenting on your article, so a big thank you to you. Firstly, sir might I very humbly say that the diagram is a very minimal drawing compared to the graphics that can be used on computers these days. We all live and learn, so might I say that if you wish I could
    share my knowledge on how to draw graphics on computers with you or
    one of your helpers. Secondly, the last people I would give this to
    are INGO’s, I have nothing against them, they do help people in the
    country at times, but this is our country and hence our issue. The
    problems of the motherland are the motherland’s alone. Thirdly,
    there is no such thing called ‘your area’ this is the kind of
    thinking that led to separatism and the LTTE. Plus if its going to
    create problems for you if I come to your area with the diagram, I
    would not do that to you sir. Most respectfully. Fourthly, your
    kitchen solution will not succeed, if the boys don’t talk about
    their problems, and you force them to not talk, one day when they
    do grow older, both of them will not only hate each other, but they
    will also hate you. Then we have 2 problems instead of one. Thats
    my opinion on it. Lastly, his excellency the president has
    appointed the best people he could to this cabinet, there may be
    some listening and nodding, but thats because power politics and
    ability is firmly rooted in the hands of his excellency.

    Davidson, thank your for your very theoretical and constructive feedback, I agree that education is the key here, but the history in our books and the manner in which we have single language classes has also created division among us. So how do we go about changing this,
    instead of only talking about it. Its a area where everyone knows
    the problem but no one has done anything about it.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Kanishka

      Fourthly, your kitchen solution will not succeed, if the boys don’t talk about their problems, and you force them to not talk, one day when they do grow older, both of them will not only hate each other, but they will also hate you.

      I also interpreted the Mervyn Silva’s post that way, but he later clarified his views and I now see that I was mistaken. The boys ARE talking about their problems, only they are not phrasing them in terms of what the other community did to theirs.

      For example, it is one thing to say that one has lost his home and finds it difficult to rebuild and make a living, and quite another thing to blame YOU for losing one’s home. You could listen to the first but you will tune out the second.

      Whenever Prof Heshan or Belle rant about how evil the Sinhala Buddhists are, nobody except their fellow travelers pay any heed. Unfortunately the entire message gets tuned out, even the non-hysterical parts. And that makes them even more hysterical!

      Dear Wijayapala and Bhoor,thank you for your input, please refer to
      Heshan’s reply.

      Prof Heshan told me before that Buddhism and Islam had to be exterminated from Sri Lanka for there to be peace, so I’m afraid that I cannot refer to him.

      If you look at my diagram, I have done my best to identify issues using the people who will be involved and the dynamics.

      But shouldn’t the issues be identified first and then the stakeholders? You seem to be saying that there is a problem, but you don’t know what the problem is!

      • kanishka

        Dear Wijaya,

        I feel that we must all be given the opportunity to express our sentiments on whether someone hurt us or not. Including the Sinhala baudda community that has undergone immense hardships as well. Wijaya we have all suffered and we must be allowed to say that we have suffered and tell someone that they have given us pain. Another person will only understand what he or she did wrong if we tell them, sometimes, unless your hyper sensitive and you can figure things out yourself.

        I did not know there was bad blood between you and heshan, so I apologize for my ignorance, might I suggest that you two forgive each other and start a more friendly dialog with each other for the future, in this new year?

        One cannot identify issues before stakeholders or stakeholders before issues, both are intricately interconnected. You must identify both at once. There’s already a large body of work identifying issues in Sri Lanka, for and against. What we need are solutions now. Its a new decade, a new generation with new solutions.

      • Belle

        “Whenever Prof Heshan or Belle rant about how evil the Sinhala Buddhists are, nobody except their fellow travelers pay any heed. Unfortunately the entire message gets tuned out, even the non-hysterical parts. And that makes them even more hysterical!”

        Firstly, I have never linked anyone’s evil to their religion. I don’t see any evidence that Sinhalese Christians or Hindu Tamils are any less evil than Sinhalese Buddhists.

        As for hysteria, do you not know the history of hysteria as a concept? In the past, hysteria had been identified and treated as a ‘female’ condition, supposedly caused by their anatomy. The root word “hystere” itself means “womb”. These days, however, we know that hysteria is symptomatic of powerlessness. That’s why it was women who tended to be afflicted with this in patriarchal culture.

        Could it be that my “hysteria” is caused by a similar feeling of powerlessness? What I see here is that the people who are in a position to do something to rectify the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka do not perceive that it is their duty as a national majority to provide equal opportunities to a minority population; they do not perceive that the “nation” is a modern polity that is based on equal citizenship rights, i.e. beyond race. As long as they do not come around to this point of view, the situation in Sri Lanka will continue. Formal education cannot be a solution because the curricula and its delivery is controlled by people who perceive their own interests to lie in inequity, who are themselves ‘uneducated’.

        With all due respect to Kanishka, whose good intentions and effort are to be admired, I agree with the Mervyn Silva that the solution lies in laying down the law. I would take that further: the law must be laid down by someone other than the parties involved in the conflict (i.e. the two kitchen boys and the master). The law cannot be laid down by the two kitchen boys because they cannot see past their personal situation and the master would only exploit the situation to assure his own comfort. An entirely “home-grown” solution is unlikely to work because there is something structurally and perceptually wrong in the “home”. (Otherwise, there wouldn’t have been a conflict in the first place, a conflict that has itself deepened this wrongness in the home.) Of course, there are people in Sri Lanka who can see and rectify this wrongness, but who will give them the chance to sit in the driver’s seat (or even speak from the back seat)? Some third-party international consultation/intervention is required to deliver a just and enduring solution. Why is there a resistance to benefiting from the experience of other nations in multicultural living?

        If I tend to focus on the Sinhalese mindset rather than the Tamil mindset, it is not because I see the latter as being blameless. It is just that having been a minority person all my life (and not only racially), I know that when a majority community recognizes the equal rights of a minority community, the floodgates of self-reflection will automatically open for the minority community. Until that happens, the minority will focus either on cowering in fear or in denying their fear and powerlessness by pretending to be powerful (i.e. waving Tiger flags, forming ‘transnational’ governments in exile, deluding themselves that they can work with racist states, etc). And really, the majority community should need no prompting about their duties because the equal rights of minorities as citizens are an inalienable right–without it, you are not a nation but a feudal entity illegitimately formed through a constitutional process offered by the British, grabbing territory from other communities under the pretext of being a ‘democratic’ nation.

        “For example, it is one thing to say that one has lost his home and finds it difficult to rebuild and make a living, and quite another thing to blame YOU for losing one’s home. You could listen to the first but you will tune out the second.”

        You state as a general and evident truth what may be purely a personal predilection. Whenever someone accuses me of something, especially if they accuse me of doing wrong from my own enabled position of privilege or power, I listen, take heed, and try to rectify my own behaviour. My sense of social justice will not allow me to “tune out” their accusation. I am sorry that you and YOUR “fellow travellers” find this so easy to do.

      • Kanishka Ratnapriya

        Dear Bella, not state can ever have a totally internal political process. Geo politics especially in this, the wikileaks decade!, is such that any internal political or reconciliation process will be influenced by external actors and factors, no matter how much any internal actor resists. Even in the current context the Sri Lankan government can maintain its positions because it has external support. You know who right? The only point I wish to reiterate here is that, since it is the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities living in Sri Lanka that will experience any recon process, their ideas must be incorporated into the design of such a process.

      • wijayapala

        Dear Belle,

        Could it be that my “hysteria” is caused by a similar feeling of powerlessness?

        Did you feel similarly powerless when the LTTE was running around?

        What I see here is that the people who are in a position to do something to rectify the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka do not perceive that it is their duty as a national majority to provide equal opportunities to a minority population;

        And what you don’t see is the history of the last 30 years, when the minority was making demands for the majority and sending suicide bombers when they weren’t met. We’ve also discussed this notion of “majority” and “minority” of yours. The Sinhalese don’t see themselves as a “majority” when there have been tens of millions more Tamils worldwide who have lobbied against them and harbored terrorists.

        Whenever someone accuses me of something, especially if they accuse me of doing wrong from my own enabled position of privilege or power, I listen, take heed, and try to rectify my own behaviour.

        I have yet to see you do that here.

      • kanishka

        Dear Belle, sorry I could not finish my response and that I could not do it any quicker, I was hijacked by work! In relation to the majority ‘giving the minority a solution. I have two principles – (1) firstly no majority community should be “giving” a minority community something, all communities should be working on a solution together, however, in the current real political Srilankan climate, this is easier said then done. (2) secondly, my 2nd principle is in relation to how we can respond and address the ‘minority fear mentality of the majority sinhala community’, I feel that this has been addressed to a certain degree with the end of war against the LTTE, but when analyzing any ethno political issue in Sri Lanka, you must take this into account. And if we dig a little deeper, you will understand that it is difficult to enforce the first principle because of the second issue. What is important as a initial step, is that we talk about these issues openly, in this post war situation.

    • The Mervyn Silva

      Dear Kanishka,

      Thanking you for your responsing. You are showing you are having a lot of patience and the civilitiy also even though I am still thinking you are a little bit on the naive side. But I am wishing you all the best for your works.

      Please be trusting me, getting the peoples to look at themselves is working often and kitchen boy type peoples are often far better at that than most ‘educated’ and ‘intelectual’ peoples who have lost all their intelligence and the decency also in the proces of getting their degres and the PhDs.

      In the meantime we are happy to be ffering you position in the cabinet side – minister for diagrammatics and home grown solutions. You are not having office but we are giving you the laptop to be drawing diagrams in the home.

      • kanishka

        Dear Mervyn, thank you, so we have found two points to agree on. That we must get people to look at themselves first, I will go further and say, after that, they must also be given the opportunity to look at the ‘other’s’ perspective. The second is that, on the way to getting a degree or a phd, people do lost touch with reality, what is important is that academics or ‘ivory tower’ [political and sociological] theorists immerse themselves in political networks or at the bare minimum at the ‘village level’ to get in touch with reality.

        Thank you, I accept the cabinet portfolio of diagrammatic’s and home grown solutions, can I also have a office in “Vishramapaya” with the senior minister’s? I can then make a record of being the youngest minister to be retired 🙂

  • Davidson

    Kanishka,
    Thank you, esp. for responding to individual comments – that shows you do care about the whole issue so much and you want others to put forward their ideas too. Your response to The Mervyn to helphim with diagrams is a good indicator of how seriously you want to sit down with others to talk through all the bits on the ground.
    Thank you for your opeenness to ”democratic debates”.
    As a practical step, the National Institute of Education(NIE) has to tackle ”the history in our books”:

    http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EDUCATION/Resources/278200-1121703274255/1439264-1126807073059/Paper_Final.pdf
    Respect for Diversity in Educational Publication – The Sri Lankan Experience, Ariya Wickrema and Peter Colenso, 2003:
    ‘’…The Government dominates the educational publications sector in Sri Lanka through its provision of free textbooks to all students from grade 1 to 11 ….
    Tamils not involved in writing the textbooks – Textbooks written in Sinhala, and then translated into Tamil ….
    full of spelling, grammatical and factual errors ….
    distortion of history ….
    the history of Sri Lanka is confined to a few selected Sinhala kings ….
    the textbooks do not educate the child about the various characteristics of a multi-religious and a multi- racial society; the majority of Sinhala medium textbooks emphasize Sinhalese Buddhist attitudes; distorted maps under-represent North and Eastern Provinces; “geographical, social, economical or cultural features” of Tamil communities (including the plantation sector) are not adequately discussed or presented; in studying art, the Tamil student only studies Sinhalese Buddhist aspects of art; the textbooks encourage children to develop “apartheid attitudes” …..
    Tamils are portrayed as “aggressors”; forces of the Tamil kings are “mercenaries’ , whereas forces of the Sinhala kings are “soldiers” ….
    the majority of Sinhala medium textbooks emphasize Sinhalese Buddhist attitudes; distorted maps under-represent North and Eastern Provinces;
    War is shown as patriotic while peace is portrayed as cowardice.’’

    Those who are engaged in peace education have to work with NIE on this.

    Please note how hatred has been propogated through textbooks:
    i.The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children – Kenneth D Bush and Diana Saltarelli(2000) – published by Innocenti Research Centre, UNICEF:
    ”Ethnic intolerance makes it appearance in the classroom in many ways…… Textbooks have often been shown to contain negative ethnic stereotypes….. A review of the textbooks used in the segregated schools of Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, found Sinhalese textbooks scattered with images of Tamils as the historical enemies of the Sinhalese, while celebrating ethnic heroes who had vanquished Tamils in ethnic wars. Ignoring historical fact, these textbooks tended to portray Sinhalese Buddhists as the only true Sri Lankans, with Tamils, Muslims and Christians as non- indigenous and extraneous to Sri Lankan history. This version of national history according to one commentator, has been deeply divisive in the context of the wider state.”

    ii. Reggie Siriwardene, a well-respected Sinhalese writer, in a well-­documented analysis of the effects of school textbooks on ethnic relations in Sri Lanka(1984):
    “Millions of school children are taught, in the name of social studies, through text-books published by the state, the myths of divergent racial origins which will help to divide the Sinhalese and Tamils for more generations to come… What this lesson does is to evoke the child’s memories of being frightened by his parents with threats of the mysterious and fearful `billo’ to identify these bogeymen as Tamil agents, and thus to enlist the deep-seated irrational fears of early childhood for the purpose of creating apprehension and hatred of Tamils.”

    iii. In the 1950s and 1960s Tamil and Sinhalese scholars vehemently protested the distorted history in textbooks but the Education Department that produces the textbooks dismissed their concern.

    • kanishka

      Davidison, in total agreement with you, having experienced the history books in public schools in Sri Lanka, I think its time for a rewrite of them with a more true sense of history. By the way, I hope you have read Howarz Zinn’s A People’s History of America, its a amazing book on how america’s history really was, from the perspective of slaves, red indian’s, frontiersmen etc. A more inclusive history would go a long way to building a more inclusive society in Sri Lanka for the future.

      Its not only the history books, but the entire education system that needs a re haul, although the government is trying its best to change things, things are not pretty in the south either, just google education system in Sri Lanka and you will see why!

  • Vino Gamage

    ”It is not only the Sinhala mindset that has to change, but also the tamil mindset.”

    Mmmhhh….

    But the Tamil mindset has always been a reaction to the Sinhala mindset – from 1948 to this day.

    Who has been having the ‘sovereign’ monopoly of structural violence?

    • kanishka

      Dear Vino, thank you for your comment. They are a reaction to each other. There is no, ‘we’ reacted first or ‘they’ reacted first. Its ‘we all’ reacted together. Its time to stop pointing the finger at others and point the finger at ourselves. Start talking with the man in the mirror.

  • Mary Tony

    Kanishka,
    You have given an interesting perspective to the old(which has become ”perennial”) problem.

    Folks,
    We have no excuse to delay discussions at all possible levels.
    Discussions – put forward your ideas and listen to others’ ideas.

    • kanishka

      Thank you mary tony, lets do this!

  • Heshan

    Wijayapala,

    Shouldn’t we focus on the solution itself?

    Is a law meant to account for every possible scenario? Certainly not. Only the most general case is mentioned; all other cases are evaluated with respect to their own merits. The same logic applies here. No single “solution” exists to the ethnic conflict; different obstacles require different approaches. Each approach must be modified with respect to the particular constraints imposed by the situation at hand. That is why an outline is good – it can be readily modified, should the need arise.

  • Heshan

    Kanishka,

    I commend you for thinking out of the box. Indeed, only we the people can address the real issues. IMF loans, foreign investment, private universities, low-cost Chinese reconstruction – these are merely window dressing, as far as reconciliation is concerned. When will the checkpoints be removed and the high security zones dismantled? When will national identification cards become redundant? All of these reek of a climate of suspicion, paranoia, prejudice, and distrust.

    • kanishka

      Dear Heshan, thank you, checkpoints are disappearing in the south. They have been substantially reduced in the North and East in comparison to 2009. There are some changes, but the militarization of the state is still high. We must start a constructive dialog avoiding paranoia and suspicion with our state and our leaders. Maneuvering around issues and positioning yourself ‘neutrally’ will not work here. It must be a direct dialog between the ‘rulers’, ‘ruled’ and ‘changers’.

  • ward

    Kanishka

    Thanks for your good intentions.

    Hope you have seen these:

    http://groundviews.org/2010/09/23/submissions-before-lessons-learnt-reconciliation-committee-llrc-by-chandra-jayaratne/

    http://groundviews.org/2010/10/06/amber-light-signals-requiring-pro-active-action-by-the-lessons-learnt-and-reconciliation-commission/

    http://groundviews.org/2010/10/01/llrc-submission-by-the-friday-forum/

    It has been found that intractable ethnic conflicts need third parties to help resolve them (Sri Lankans are into the 63rd year of their own conflict). What has been happening in Sri Lanka in the last eighteen months proves that beyond doubt.

    The geographic location of Sri Lanka in the current global plight doesn’t lend much hope for the ethnic minorities. Unless the South changes its heart.

    Dear South,

    Please let us have a miracle.

    • kanishka

      Dear ward, thank you, this stuff is great, especially chandra jayaratne’s and the friday forum’s recommendations. I see so many initiatives for reconciliation in Sri Lanka. At many levels utilizing many methods. It seems the proto stages of a reconciliation drive is starting naturally. How do we put all this stuff together is the real question? Do we wait for the state to do it, or do we do it ourselves? These are the questions that need to be answered soon.

      Groundviews? What can we do about this?

  • Vino Gamage

    Any good teacher should be able to use this map for lessons on Peace Education for GCE A students.
    This should be sent to NIE, Headteachers’ and Teachers’ Associations.

  • Heshan

    Heshan told me before that Buddhism and Islam had to be exterminated from Sri Lanka for there to be peace, so I’m afraid that I cannot refer to him.

    Where did I call for the extermination of Buddhism and Islam? I challenge you to quote me directly. Readers are welcome to see my position regarding religion in this thread: “Peace and Reconciliation in Sri Lanka: Is there a way forward?.”

    It seems as if Wijayapala, unable to comprehend Kanishka’s original post, is now resorting to personal attacks. Keep in mind that despite Kanishika clearly outlining a solution in substantial detail, Wijapayala was quick to ask, “where is the solution?”

  • yapa

    “But the Tamil mindset has always been a reaction to the Sinhala mindset – from 1948 to this day.”

    This is attitude is an example why reconciliation in Sri lanka is not happening. “You change, not me”. That by force attitude has not been changed even though the “armed by force gang” was irradiated.

    “Pound of flesh” demand won’t help reconciliation.

    Thanks!

  • ward

    Kanishka

    Thanks.

    Please look at the 59th and 60th comments by Sabes and Suren on:
    http://groundviews.org/2010/12/27/democratic-debates-in-2011/

    Like-minded people should connect with each other(asap) to get support and not to lose momentum as there are not many right now.

    This artile needs a wider coverage to get serious consideration – much more than the sporadic comments seen here – some comments(of illogic) are even frightening.

    • kanishka

      Dear Ward, its time to get a proper face to face dialog going on reconciliation in this country, I will take the initiative if everyone else’s helps me.

  • Punitham

    Groundviews
    Is there a way of translating GV articles by Kanishka, Suren and Chandra into Sinhala and Tamil and posting in the local newspapers or so to reach much wider audience.
    Will any civil society help you?

    • Dear Punitham, some of these articles are translated into Sinhala and published on Vikalpa. We don’t have the capacity to translate every article into Sinhala and Tamil. Many in the past have been translated, with attribution to Groundviews, by others in Sri Lanka and in the diaspora. We too realise the need to get this content in the vernacular, but are hostage to resource constraints and rely on our readership to help promote this content wider.

  • Bhoor

    Who knows one of the kitchen boys get to see the first glimpse of Channel-4 clips and other other war-crimes evidence- some of them kept from public for obvious reasons- he or next generations of his kind would think there is some undone business. And the continuous denial of satisfactory political solutions to Tamils by GoSL won`t help it either.

  • Mary Tony

    Reconciliation not only requires repair in political and economic spheres but also in the environmental sphere:
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=33320
    Environment endangering life in Jaffna
    [TamilNet, Tuesday, 04 January 2011, 00:31 GMT]
    News reports from the south of the island, Saturday, said that Colombo government had yielded in for the protests of fishermen and Church in the south, and had dropped a project to have sea planes in the Negombo lagoon. The fishermen in and around Negombo feared affliction to fish catch by the sea plane project. But on the same day, a budding young environmentalist having concern for the sand dunes and the drinking water of his people was shot dead in Jaffna. SL military intelligence occupying Jaffna and paramilitary are suspected. An academic in Jaffna brings out the environmental background of the issue.

    • kanishka

      Thank you mary, I agree with you totally on this issue, but it is a country wide problem, as a beginning, we should all write to the Central Environment Authority, if you send me reports, I can forward them to the CEA. Failing which, we will have to resort to environmental activism like green peace!

      This problem however, is not limited to the North and the East, its just as bad in the up country and the South, its pointless to even mentioned the western province, on the enviro issue, its a lost case.

  • renu

    “But the Tamil mindset has always been a reaction to the Sinhala mindset – from 1948 to this day.”
    This is attitude is an example why reconciliation in Sri Lanka is not happening.That by force attitude has not been changed even though the “armed by force gang” was irradiated.

    What do we understand by this?

    1.We’ll do anything to you. You can’t have any reaction.
    2.Not only did we irradiate your resistance we militarise the whole area and restrict even humanitarian aid so that you won’t have even traces of the old ideas.
    3.Your questioning us is like demanding for “Pound of flesh”.
    4.That won’t help reconciliation. Understand?

    Don’t we look the symbol of illogic, cruelty and evil?

    http://jbe.gold.ac.uk/10/dhammavihari-sri-lanka-conf.html

    • yapa

      Dear renu;

      Re:Your post of January 4, 2011 • 3:17 pm

      By criticizing my opposition to Vino Gamage’s view, are you going to say his view is correct?

      Are you saying all the blunders done from the part of Tamils are just reactions, for which Tamils have no any responsibility? Please read his statement again, I think you have not gone through it attentively.

      Please read it again and please let us know whether you are holding the same notion anymore. After that shall we talk a little bit. Here is his (Vino Gamage’s)comment for your convenience please.

      “But the Tamil mindset has always been a reaction to the Sinhala mindset – from 1948 to this day.”

      Thanks!

  • renu

    Reconciliation takes a lot of changes in a lot of corners:

    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGhMIgnwZuA
    The Changing face of Wesak in Colombo and Militarizing Sri Lanka, 15 May 2009

    It’s petrifying to find
    a.a school honouring ex-soldiers in a religious event with dancers in combat dress depicting guns
    b. Vesak cards with roses on guns.

    2. GCE Advanced Level(August 2009) Sinhala question paper(prepared by the Department of Education): http://www.lankanewsweb.com/news/EN_2009_08_19_004.html
    (ii) Write an essay with your observations on the belief expressed by some that the various types of arms and ammunition recovered by the security forces after defeating the Tiger terrorists in the humanitarian operation carried out in the north indicated the LTTE’s moving away from its initial target of building a separate Eelam state.
    (iii) There are views expressed that the actions of some non government organizations in Sri Lanka has had an adverse impact on the country’s independence, peace, culture and even development. Write an essay backing your stance with reason.

    Professional associations also need to take an active part.

    • longus

      I see nothing wrong with the two questions that you have quoted. The candidate is free to answer in either way he prefers. Analysing a debatable issue is an accepted way of evaluating the critical skills of a student.

      I don’t think it’s very appropriate to have guns on a Vesak card, but once again this act is not state sponsered and it’s shows the bad taste of an individual only!

      • kanishka

        Dear Renu and Long, thank you for your comments, guns on wesak cards are wrong, the buddha would have been horrified! But some in the Sinhalese Buddhist community decided to market our culture with militarism. This I feel was a mistake on the long term for recon in Sri Lanka. We will have to pay the price for this one day and the path to recon just became longer.

        I must agree with renu on the question papers longus, the questions reflect a militarist and ideological underpinning that was on steroids at the time. It did a lot of damage. And, might I add, I had the question paper 5 hours before it was released at the exam!

      • longus

        Kanishka

        I don’y agree with you at all! The militaristic mentality that people feel is a result of the military victory which most Sri Lankans celebrated without any reservations. It was not against theTamils in Sri Lanka. Were any Tamil houses attacked when the Sri Lankanss celebrated their victory? There is nothing wrong with analyzing a theory behind ‘massive haul of LTTE weapons’!This doesn’t mean that we should delve in it forever! Why should it prick anyone unless you are not sypathetic towards the LTTE’s cause?

        As you know some of the NGOs were packed off because of their doubious activities in the North and this is not uncommom in third world countries. Some NGOs are constantly kept under watch due to their activities harmfull to the country in the long run. There’s nothing wrong with analyzing this unless you too are patronizing to their ulterior motives.

        Guns N Roses: I’m not sure whether the Buddha would have been “infuriated” by seeing guns on a Vesak card, as you say, because by definition ‘a Buddhha’ is a person who is totally devoid of such defilments! This is a result of cultural invation of a religion. For example I can sight the “armed Hindu gods” in the Buddhist temples! Even in the Polonnaruwa era the statues of Hindu gods armed with various kinds of weapons-the best, we had at that time!-were seen in Buddhist temples, and some people might have questioned it like you do now.(…Buddha would have been infuriated etc…)And we all know how the Hinduism influenced Buddhism in this particular period. In the same way the ‘guns on the Vesak cards’ too looks like the choice of some people who have a bad taste though it is not in accordence with the Buddha’s teachings!

      • yapa

        Dear Kanishka;

        “But some in the Sinhalese Buddhist community decided to market our culture with militarism. This I feel was a mistake on the long term for recon in Sri Lanka. We will have to pay the price for this one day and the path to recon just became longer.”

        Can you explain “how some in the Sinhalese Buddhist community decided to market our culture with militarism”??????????

        Is it one of your personal views or do you have evidence to back this unheard claim?

        I don’t think it is an arbitrary statement of yours.

        Thanks!

  • eureka

    Towards reconciliation:
    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=33327
    Send all party delegation to Jaffna to assess situation, says UNP

  • yapa

    Dear renu;

    RE:Your post of January 4, 2011 • 4:04 pm

    Are you worried about the defeat of the LTTE, that fascist killer gang?????

    Thanks!

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    In a civilized society, the people must be empowered to directly participate in the governance of the country and the best way for the people to empower themselves is, a system of governance that would address the problems faced by various sections of the society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the various categories of “minorities” who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations and thus throughout the country (a small fraction of the Parliament with defined powers and duties functions in each and every village, division, district and region)” to perform the different, defined and distinct functions of one and the same institution – the Parliament – like the organs of our body – heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, nose, ear etc. – performing different and distinct functions to enable us to sustain normal life

    • kanishka

      Dear Kathi, thank you, that was good stuff. I agree with you, but this sounds like devolution. Which was supposed to be implemented through the 13th Amendment to the SL constitution. This did not happen due to a multitude of reasons including Indian intervention in Sri Lanka. The words devolution, decentralization and most of all federalism have become F words in the Sinhala polity. How does one ensure rights for all communities in Sri Lanka by increasing access to government services, minimizing corruption and promoting democratic practices right now, is the real challenge in the present context. What do you think? And how will a debate on devolution affect recon in Sri Lanka? What about starting with truth and recon and then going towards a discussion on a political solution? Or should this go together?

  • Punitham

    Kanishka
    If you rearrange your various boxes around a box with ”Peace and Prosperity for all” in a conceptmap people will easily understand.
    Cmap tool is free:
    http://cmap.ihmc.us/download/

    I can draw with my hand(I’m a newcomer to IT) – I’ve used it in my lessons in primary/secondary/tertiary classes.

    As you have spent so much of time putting so many concepts together in this article, I appeal to you to present a Cmap here – you’ll easily have a lot of ‘converts’ – I could easily convince even very naughty boys and girls in classes to get attention to the subject matter.

  • Vino Gamage

    Dear Kanishka
    Please look at how aid agents are harassed so that they will stop going to the Northeast:
    http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/VVOS-8C6L4C?

    Billions of euros flooded the South post-tsunami. We didn’t object to aid agents then.

    Now the Northeast ravaged by war of three decades and *under-development of previous three decades is denied access for aid agents – their work is made as hard as it can be so that they won’t bother to go to the Northeast. In May 2009 UN vehicles were not allowed into the detention camps and the aid agents had to carry a lot of things(there were nearly 300,000 dstitutes)

    (*Submission to LLRC by Sinhalese)

    How people react to your article is related to how people react to other things happening in the country.

    • kanishka

      Dear Vino, sadly, you are right, the context is deteriorating rapidly, my article is at best, a desperate plea of SOS on a sinking ship. But believe me vino, the speakers of sanity in our fair motherland, amidst all this lunacy, will not go down without a fight.

  • Punitham

    http://www.ifpsl.org/images/files/peoples_tribunal_on_srilanka.pdf
    Personal Appeal for Peace from Thai Buddhist Sulak Sivaraksa, January 2010:

    ‘’We would like to appeal to the Sinhala Buddhists first of all to acknowledge the crimes that they committed against their own Tamil sisters and brothers and ask for forgiveness from the Tamils. Rejoicing at the war victories, when thousands have been killed, ‘disappeared’, maimed, raped and hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced and detained, is totally against the dhamma.
    The government of Sri Lanka should follow Emperor Asoka who transformed violence into loving kindness treating all diverse ethnicities in his empire with dignity and equal respect, upholding different cultures and religions. We need to follow the great Buddhist emperor in order to uphold the world in the twenty- first century in peace, truth and compassion. The Sri Lankan state needs a transformation.”

    • kanishka

      Dear Punitham, messages such as this, within the teachings of the enlightened one, may work better, then stuff like my article.

  • Punitham

    Kanishka
    My family and my friends are amazed by the amount of HEAD and HEART you put into the detailed analysis of the whole thing. It has been the subject of a lot of discussion in my circle.
    Your diagram is excellent. Cmap just makes it easy for the man on the road to understand the stuff like yours.
    We urgently need that quality stuff. I’m thakful to you for having pushed my thinking to a higher level. Otherwise we won’t get out of the knot of knots we’ve been getting into over the last 62 years.

  • Punitham

    Kanishka
    Of course the dimension people like Sulak Sivaraksa adds to our discourse is extremely valuable.