Photo by Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

“There are no more minorities” said the President after the defeat of the LTTE – a secessionist rebel group that waged a war against Sri Lanka in 2009. From now on, everyone is part of the majority. It was a nice feeling after decades of distinction between the communities in the island. I belong to one of the three recognized minorities of the island – the Burghers. A friend of mine noticed that we were the only ones not represented in the National Flag, I assumed that maybe we shared one strip in the flag with another community. This was not the least an issue for me. But with regards to the current conflict which the country went through I find this misrepresentation amusing.

As a Sri Lankan of mixed ethnicity- Burgher after my dad and Sinhala, after my mother-  I had some great deal to figure out. Aged 13, I presented myself at an acting examination of a prestigious theatre examination board in Britain, and found myself facing a strange examiner who reacted as if he was disappointed in meeting a Sri Lankan under my surname, as if to indicate that my appearance did not suit my surname. I had for the first time experienced discrimination in one’s behavior towards me.  The question was not whether or not it was a discriminatory behavior but to know whether this gentleman knew the history of his own country, a great power in the Colonization period. And that maybe had he known, he’d made the distinction and may have realized that there are British descendants all over Asia due to this wave of colonization by the British, French and the Nordic countries.  This question of proper education succeeded my question of discrimination over appearance and one’s surname. I passed the examination and later took on few exciting Shakespearian and Chekhovian characters on stage. In a way the stage allowed me to hide myself though I did not know what from.

I was parachuted between two countries since  childhood: my mother thought it best to bring up her children, my brother and I, in Sri Lanka. Every August we’d come to Sri Lanka for the summer. I loved it. It was a meeting point with my extended family.  A country with more culture, more tradition, more norms, more customs that would give us a sense in life and enable us connect with our roots, which she thought could not be accomplished in France. Alas, I was nine when she parachuted me from France to Sri Lanka.  I was to perform in the school’s ballet that I had rehearsed for so much, when she came in to school one evening to pick my brother and I and head directly to the island. I didn’t know much about this country. It all seemed so exotic to me; the beaches, the food, the people were all so different yet I felt something in common. At 9, Sri Lanka meant one word to me – holidays. And now it was a lifelong holiday.

I couldn’t speak much Sinhala and English though I perfectly understood both, I expressed myself in French. I attended a very prestigious Catholic school in the capital. It was a girls’ school; I detested it because this separated me from my brother, who was sent to a boys’ school.  Now at this new school, I learned all my prayers, I learned to worship and respect teachers, fascinatingly draped in sarees each day. I also made an amazing discovery- my ethnicity.  As I stood near a teacher’s desk, I happen to see the class register wide open. I took the liberty of checking my name in it. I found it. No. 48 – I was the 48th student to have arrived to that class, Name, Surname, Date of Birth, Race – Burgher, Nationality – Sri Lankan/French.  I gazed at the Race column for some time. Until this moment I did not know that I was Burgher. I wandered further up on the register in search for my friends;  Rushika was Sinhala, Shaika was Moor- I knew something was up since she’d always turn up with white pants under the school ‘s white dress uniform and a shawl unlike us- , Jacquelina was Burgher and Vinodhya and Kamalini – the twin- were missing.  In the school there would be a class with the letter ‘T’ that was for those students who studied in Tamil as their medium of instruction, and that was where the twins were. We were categorized according to our race. Now I knew who belonged where.

It was interesting to know that I was called a Portuguese Burgher once, because they didn’t understand where my French accent came from and to them it was ‘broken English’. I inquired as to the other types of Burghers: the real ones (British descendants), the Dutch Burghers and the Portuguese Burghers, in order of fluency in speaking English. More classifications were discovered with time: another friend who wore the pants and the shawl was a Mammon that was another type of Muslim along with the Moors and the Malays, again in order of degree of conservatism. My twin friends informed me that they were of the highest class of the Tamils – The Colombo Chetties as opposed to the other Tamils. This was the most enlightening experience during my school years.

Back home I was at caught between two cultures: to worship elders or to hug elders? The former was the norm and rule according to my mother’s mother – my Achchi Amma- who forbade hugging. This was against the wishes of my dad’s mother.  My worry was whether or not to hug or worship my parents: Who do I hug? Who do I worship? Do I worship God in the same manner? I sometimes got confused and mixed up the rules, for which I was given a good telling off and my French origins were blamed. Might have I said “Oops, excuse my French?”

I led my life happily with these minor confusions in my head.  Everything was magnified when bomb after bomb exploded in Colombo on a regular basis. I became more aware of the civil war that the country was going through much long before. Even though I was 8 when I saw the horrible destruction caused by the bombing of the Central Bank in 1996 on French TV, it never felt so real. The LTTE- Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – waged a war against Sri Lanka; their objective was to gain a separate state meant for the Tamils. It took me two real-life experiences to realize the depth of the situation. More than a war between a country and a terrorist group, many saw it as a war between two ethnic groups; Sinhalese and Tamils. One cannot deny the discrimination. Certainly not I, when I remember clearly that any dark skinned person was immediately identified as a Tamil who then immediately became a Tiger terrorist. I was made to think this way. But I was not the only one.  Two years after the end of this war, I return to France. At an orientation programme in one of the world’s prestigious universities, I presented myself as a Sri Lankan, only to be checked if I’m a Tamil or if not, belonged to those who massacre them. Dumbfounded and shocked at this question I reply and rectify the distorted representation of Sri Lanka and its communities. It deeply wounded me, to know that this is what the world thinks of Sri Lankans.

I used to write essays on my motherland when I was small. Later I heard that there was a fatherland as well. Your motherland, is the country of you birth or origin. Because then I have two motherlands. I was born in one, brought up in another and living in the former. I am more fluent in one language than the other. I am bilingual. No. Trilingual if you count Sinhala. My national identity card says one thing, but my inner self says another. I am legally this but organically that. Where do I belong?  Who am I? Questions ring in my head. Sometimes I feel I’m an –in between- person. Neither here nor there: a stranger in both lands.

Having listened to Kumar Sangakkara’s MCC Cowdrey Lecture, self-realization dawned upon on me and I came to the following conclusion:  in the end, when your country is at stake, which is the case for Sri Lanka, there is no time to think of your ethnic origin, race or caste, you put yourself forward and embrace all ethnicities and call yourself a Sri Lankan.  I may be a Sinhala-Burgher, but looking at the larger picture I am Sri Lankan, and that is all. You adapt and make your own identity out of the cultures you inherit. You are who you are and I am who I am: Sri Lankan, French, South East Asian, European and most of all a citizen of the world.

###

Celina Cramer is a French born Sri Lankan studying Economic and Social Administration at the Université Panthéon-Sorbonne – Paris 1.

  • myil selvan

    Dear Celina Cramer,

    You said:
    “I presented myself as a Sri Lankan, only to be checked if I’m a Tamil or if not, belonged to those who massacre them. Dumbfounded and shocked at this question I reply and rectify the distorted representation of Sri Lanka and its communities. It deeply wounded me, to know that this is what the world thinks of Sri Lankans.”

    My response:
    Since you were probably born in 1988, as you say you were 8 in 1996, you probably did not ‘feel’ the impact of the 1983 riots. Just by looking at the TV you say ” it never felt more real” about the Central Bank bombing. If that is the case, how much more would you have felt if you were to see the 1983 riots? Where Thamil guys were stripped naked and beaten to death by Sinhalese youth.

    While it is wrong to stereotype, the sad reality is -there is a majority(NOT ALL) segment of the sinhala people who have racist feelings. So if the French were to think of Sinhalese as those who massacred Thamils, it wouldn’t be entirely distorted. At the same time it is also not entirely true. But when things like the 83 riots take place these unfortunate stereotyping will occur.

    While it is good to rectify distortions. You should also rectify the distortion that the LTTE is only Terrorist and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is NOT. GoSL is also a terrorist outfit, whether it forms the government of a country or not. The LTTE and GoSL are two sides of the same coin.

    As for many who think it is a war between Thamils and Sinhalese. At least for Sri Lanka, that is the sad reality. Almost all the SL Armed forces are Sinhalese and all the LTTE were Thamil. So you can’t blame those who think of it in such a way. Besides that, the question of genocide is not really a question at all when it concerns a majority of the Sinhalese. What the majority of the sinhalese are asking is – whether the Thamils deserved it or not. In such a culture what do we do?
    When the Sri Lankan Armed Forces/Police rape a Thamil woman and shove a grenade into her vagina and blow her up. What are the Thamil people to do?
    When a Sri Lankan commanding officer forces a Thamil woman to marry one of 10 sinhalese soldiers, shown in a parade, and she refuses. Then all 10 soldiers rape her one by one (this case came before the UNHCHR,1998). Then what are the Thamil people to do??

    When the Sri Lankan State moves in Sihalese people for the purpose of changing the demography of Thamil majority areas, what are the Thamil people to do?

    We have tried going to courts but no redress. When racism is endemic and deep seated in a society it is very hard to find justice.

    The sad reality is that the Sri Lankan government only pushes the Sinhala-Buddhist identity as Sri Lankan. This alienates the minorities. A true sri lankan identity needs to be forged but I doubt the Sri Lankan government will allow it.

    As for tying to identify Thamils as dark skinned. The sinhala-buddhist mindset is based probably on a Myth. They say sinhalese came from North India (Vijaya story) but is this true? Thamil Nadu is the closest place on earth to this island. Don’t you think that the people who came 2,500 years ago to this island, would most likely be from here? Hence, I believe the Sinhalese are descended from Thamils and other South Indians. But they try to distinguish themselves as if though they are a superior (Aryan) race and that this land is theirs and others are foreigners. The Sinhalese case is like the English and Scottish. The English are not from England but Germany. They have named the country they now inhabit after them and the English language that formed over centuries from German. So it is with the Sinhalese. The Scots on the other hand came from Ireland and over the years took over from the Picts (pictland) and now the place is called Scotland. Just because the name of a particular country is named after the majority group that doesn’t always mean they are the first to come or the natives. Just because the language is unique to a particular place that doesn’t mean that language speakers are natives. This is the case with the English and Sinhalese.
    This Vijaya myth (Sinhalese from North India and came first)is being shoved down the throats of children studying in Sri Lanka. They are taught that Sinhalese are natives with others being foreigners. In such an environment how do we forge a national identity that values are differences?

    It is not about your country being at stake. If you take that view it becomes Nationalistic and will tend to divide, in the Sri Lankan context. Because sri lanka as a country is being promoted as Sinhalese. Instead what we need to look at is -being human at stake. Are our people willing to look at it from a human perspective? We are all humans and we are citizens of this earth and we depend on each other, interdependence. In the end you are right in saying you are a citizen of this world. But Sri Lankan that right now denotes sinhalese from the Sri Lankan government’s point of view, which is tragic.
    Just because Kumar Sangakkara said something idealistic does that translate on the ground? Sangakkara is in a better position than most to say the things he has. But unfortunately not everyone in SL is in that position. Sangakkara’s speech was good but he needs to translate it on the ground. He probably could start by talking to the President about genuine reconciliation instead of pseudo reconciliation. He and other influential members of the sinhala community need to push the GoSL to treat every citizen of SL with equality and implement genuine reconciliation. A speech is good, that is the first step. What’s next?

    In the same way I urge you as part sinhalese to urge your sinhala side relatives to push SL government officials to implement genuine reconciliation and to push for an inclusive sri Lankan identity. Any small gesture would do.

    Thank you for your article.

    • CWije

      Hi Myil,

      I read your reply with interest and i thought of giving my perspective as well. I agree with you on certain comments but feel that i might have a different way of thinking regarding the others.

      Thought I’l first list my profile, so that what i say is taken in context. If i were to tag myself, i’m a Sinhalese Buddhist who even studied at a Buddhist school. I was 23 years old when the war ended, which means i was around for most of it, but missed the critical starting point.

      Remarkably, i have never had any racist thoughts against Tamils or any other race in SL (NOT because i was born a super-good person or something like that!!)but thanks to my parents who ensured that me and siblings learn that Thamils and terrorists are not the same and also the fact that people are not born terrorists, but are made in to terrorist due to circumstance.

      Based on my experience with friends and family, i don’t think that the majority of Sinhalese are racist, but definitely there is a minority of them who are racist. And i think that this is common across all races. there’ll definitely be some narrow-minded person who thinks others races are dirt; i’m sure you would have come across Thamils who are racist. I can remember how me and my friends in University who were from all backgrounds and ethnicity used to tell each other how their grand-uncle or some relative used abusive language when referring to other races. And we all called each other by those names (its too indecent to publish here!) and had a good laugh!! So that’s why i think there are a minority of racists in all races, but on the bright-side i think these minorities of racists in all races are declining, what do you think?

      Next, i’ll move on to your point that the Sinhalese also probably came from Tamil Nadu. As much as i wish that this was the case (because then there would have been no civil war!!!) I believe, as the historical records indicate, that the first ‘Sinhalese’ came, NOT from North India, but Northeast India (current West Bengal/ Bangaladesh etc.) but please do not think that i say this because i think i’m from some superior Aryan cast (I don’t think those historical casts mean anything to modern day people, because even the more recent cast systems are being rejected by the new generations)or because of skin-color (there are plenty of Sinhalese who are dark and plenty of Thamils who are fair!) I only believe this, because of the two languages we speak. If the Sinhalese also came from Tamil-Nadu they would speak Tamil or a dialect of Tamil, but as you may know already, Sinhalese language is derived from Sanskrit which was the ancient language of North and Northeast India and is the root language of modern Indian Languages Hindi, Bengali etc. and probably (not sure) the root language of Bangla as well (Language of Bangaldesh which is close to Bengali). Most Sinhalese words resemble Sanskrit words. And another fact is that if the Sinhalese came from Tamil Nadu, they wouldn’t have perceived the first Tamil migration to be an Invasion and there wouldn’t have been those Historical battles fought in order to conquer the land. However, all this is history and fighting for land was common across the globe those days, but the two important things that i would like to state is that firstly, Sinhalese are not the natives of Lanka, the natives are the present day Veddhas. Sinhalese just happened to come to Lanka around 250-300 years before Tamils and during that time established a culture of their own. Although at that time 300 years was a long time, which helps us to understand the hostility between the two races, now however, those 300 years are insignificant now that its been over 2200 years since the Sinhalese, Thamils and Muslims started living together in SL. This brings to my second point; i came across this study sometime back, which provided facts/analysis that the present day Sri Lankan Tamils and present day Sinhalese had genes in common with each other, than they have with any other race in India (even the Indian Tamils). So that just proves that even biologically all these races Sri Lankan in every sense. I think now its high time we keep our association with different parts of India on the side(just only respect the fact that they are indeed our ancestors, but that’s all) because its just been too long!! (If we still try to associate ourselves with India after 2200 years, what will happen to Australians??! its been only just over 200 years since they came down under! Just to put things in context!)

      I agree with you that there have been many sinhalese who have discriminated and hurt many Tamils (I have asked my father who was in the forces him-self, and he said there have been incidents where soldiers have raped and hurt or killed just because they are Tamils)But i hope you understand that the majority of them are not like that. As to the Anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka, from the day i heard about them for the first time, it has been one of the major problems in my head, and i’m still trying to get to the bottom of it, as to how it happened. I have read many publications, websites and spoken to people (Tamil & Sinhala both) about what happened. You have mentioned above that the GOSL is also like a Terrorist Group, and i think i agree with you. If not for the selfish objectives of President Jayawardena who sought personal victory by creating this hate between Tamils and Sinhalese, i think we would not have had to go through this bloody civil war. All the publications mention that the sinhalese who attacked the tamils were thugs/goons hired by the GOSL. I was relieved to find out that normal Sinhala people didnt start attacking there own neighbors (that was the picture i got when i was first told about this) I believe according to your comments above, that you were there at the time of the riots so you would know better i guess, I say this by reading/researching on this matter, but maybe i’m wrong (i sincerely hope not). This was when the Sinhalese and Thamils stopped trusting each other (Tamils saw hatred/death when they saw Sinhalese and Sinhalese saw terrorists when they saw Thamils) This was the sad situation which prevailed in this country for a long time, but i think we have been given a chance to forget all that and rebuild our trust. we can keep blaming each other and government, but there will be no solution. I don’t expect any government to give a complete solution because they are just corrupt and power-hungry people who work only for their selfish reasons (most of them). If we progressed in terms of our economy and education i guarantee you that these ethnic problems will disappear. What we need are good institutions and systems. An institution which says that, yes we are from different ethnic backgrounds and that’s good because that’s the rich cultural diversity we have, but however, every one is Sri Lankan. You know, i sometimes hear Sinhalese people say, Tamils should go back to their home, India; I feel embarrassed and angry (i keep quiet if they are elders, try to reason out if there are peers). Then i have come across Sri Lankan Tamils (overseas), who say they are not Sri Lankan and but Tamil Eelam; I feel sad and a strange feeling of loneliness (i keep quiet again). I don’t Judge them (these Tamils or Sinhalese) because in their minds, these comments are valid/justified due to circumstances and the way things have been told to them. That’s why we need good, honest, straightforward, unselfish institutions and proper / balanced education (general and also specific to these issues) so that no one will say anything like what i mentioned above. I dream of that day, and hopefully i’l be able to do something to contribute rather than dreaming! 🙂 Welcome your thoughts on this.

    • Ravana

      Myil Selvan,

      If I say I am Sri Lankan, people ask “Are you sinhalese or Tamil” and when I reluctantly say the former, there is relief in their eyes (“He’s not s terrorist”).

      Unfortunately, that is also a stereotype. That does not mean that it is right. In fact the word is used to emphasise that the person using it is prejudiced.

      “While it is wrong to stereotype, the sad reality is -there is a majority(NOT ALL) segment of the sinhala people who have racist feelings”- Now that is an Oxymoron!

      In the same sentence you have given an example of typical bigotry associated with stereotype. It is like saying that a majority of Germans hated jews or that a majority of Israelis kill Palestinians. I would suggest that just like the innocent but beautiful artiste who has written this essay, you were really not on the ground in July 1983 to see the majority of Sinhalas come to the aid of Tamils.

      C’mon man! The girl is only 23. She has written a beautiful essay outlining her experience of sense of self. All you can bring to it is your hatred and take the opportunity to vent your grief. You don’t have to be Tamil to grieve what happened in 1983. By attacking every innocent you come across you are not going to find peace.

      All you have demonstrated in the end is your envy of her free spirit.

      • myil selvan

        Dear Ravana,
        Thank you for your response.

        I guess, to a certain degree you are right in saying oxymoron. But what I was getting at in this context, is not to generalize or to say all are like that. That’s why I explicitly said majority (NOT ALL).

        You said:
        “I would suggest that just like the innocent but beautiful artiste who has written this essay, you were really not on the ground in July 1983 to see the majority of Sinhalas come to the aid of Tamils.”

        My response:
        You are right, I was not on the ground but I was around, on earth, that is. But do you really think a Majority of Sinhalese aided Thamils? While it is true that SOME Sinhalese helped Thamils, do you really think it was a majority? While it is true that a minority of the sinhalese went out on the attack. There were others who conveniently sat at home doing nothing. Probably because they didn’t want to get their hands dirty. The dirty work was being done by the unruly mob. There would have been other sinhalese who sat back and were satisfied with the proceedings and were happy the Thamils were being taught a lesson. Hence I still think a majority of the sinhalese may have been satisfied or indifferent about the incidents of 1983. But not all of them went on the attack. That was definitely a minority. But then again that’s how it is in most such situations, where a minority start and carryout such commotions. The GoSL tragically aided this mob with electoral lists, etc, etc.

        You said:
        C’mon man! The girl is only 23. She has written a beautiful essay outlining her experience of sense of self. All you can bring to it is your hatred and take the opportunity to vent your grief. You don’t have to be Tamil to grieve what happened in 1983. By attacking every innocent you come across you are not going to find peace.

        My response:
        No hatred to her at all. Only trying to enlighten her and make it known to her that seeing something through the TV and saying it felt so real could be a slight exaggeration. Although I understand her feelings at that age can be traumatic. But I was just trying to let her know about the sufferings of the people who really experienced it on the ground would be a whole lot more. Unfortunately I haven’t heard many of their stories.

        “All you have demonstrated in the end is your envy of her free spirit.”

        My response:
        No envy at all. But have tried to demonstrate that people need to open up and research and get a broader understanding of the subject on which they write, instead of just going by their feelings or experiences.

    • yapa

      “While it is good to rectify distortions. You should also rectify the distortion that the LTTE is only Terrorist and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) is NOT. GoSL is also a terrorist outfit, whether it forms the government of a country or not. The LTTE and GoSL are two sides of the same coin.”

      That is how some people want to paint the picture.

      Thanks!

  • Tony

    1.”Post-conflict” ?

    This is the first time I’ve seen it on these pages or on the pages of major Sri Lankan newspapers and even in many foreign news outlets.
    They all talk about ”post-war” and even go to say they wish it were post-conflict.

    2.”From now on, everyone is part of the majority. It was a nice feeling after decades of distinction between the communities in the island.”

    Madam, you have no idea what life has been in the last two years in the Northeast. Have some good time and education in Sorbonne.

    • Ravana

      If you read the author’s original title for this essay in Sri Lanka Guardian, you would see that it was “I am..”
      The part about post-conflict is an addendum.

      Have you heard of metaphor? I suspect you just didn’t get the thesis of her essay. Your response says more about you rather than the beautiful mind of the author.

      • renu

        ”the beautiful mind of the author” will be really beautiful if she can give a thought to the Northeast of her motherland when it has been going through such hellish time.

  • Rita

    ”whether this gentleman knew the history of his own country, a great power in the Colonization period”

    Madam
    This may come handy at Sorbonne – Sri Lankan history of the last 63 yrs:

    Jayantha Dhanapala to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC), 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.Our inability to manage our own internal affairs has led to foreign intervention but more seriously has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group of our citizens.’’
    (Dhanapala was formerly UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament and a candidate for UNSG in 2006)

    • Ravana

      Madam,
      All you seem to do is to reiterate the same cut and paste habit. Bashing anyone who identifies themselves as Sri Lankan ain’t gonna make you any friends! Just like the other two commentators on this you woman’s essay you are off on a tangent espousing a political agenda where there is a discourse on selfhood.

      I don’t know whether to pity you or scold you!

      • Rita

        ”…. a Tamil who then immediately became a Tiger terrorist …
        …………..
        …. only to be checked if I’m a Tamil or if not, belonged to those who massacre them …..”

        Mhhhhhhhh…………

        How do you get the truth??

        Search for an authentic source ….

  • silva

    Some journalists have been attacked for saying things similar to what was said by Sangakkara. He is tolerated by the government because the government will not be able to stand the wrath of millions of Sangakkara’s fans.

  • I can’t help admiring how lucidly Ms. Cramer lets her thoughts and feelings flow across the page. Her perspective adds a new dimension to others I have read, both on this site and elsewhere. I wish her well on her journey of self discovery and self actualization.

  • Rita

    ”when your country is at stake, which is the case for Sri Lanka, there is no time to think of your ethnic origin, race or caste, you put yourself forward and embrace all ethnicities and call yourself a Sri Lankan”

    I would like to see a comment from anyone in the Northeast to comment on this – they are very much under the military administration and the North is actually under the boots of the army.

    • sr

      If many well-respected people have been telling LLRC(an opportunity to speak up whatever has been itching to come out for decades)that successive governments have been discriminating against the ethnic minorities, then the country and its people have been ”at stake” for a long time. But it has intensified in the last two years with real occupation and administration of a region by the ARMED FORCES.

  • renu

    When the author speaks of ”when your country is at stake, which is the case for Sri Lanka” what is she actually referring to?

    • renu

      Does ”at stake” refer to the report by the UN Expert Panel?
      The recommendations in it are not very different from the those in the last 30/40 yrs by UN Human Rights Committee, Amnesty International, International Commission of Jurists, etc. In those days successive governments have been doing expert damage control at the UN and the Comonwealth and the conflict has been going on for 63+ years.

      Now the international community has come to know that the ethnic minorities are not enjoying the basic rights found in international instruments. But human rights violating states are going to gang up together at intergovernmental bodies preventing them from upholding the principles for which they were established in the first place.
      Fast-growing East-West rivalry and North-South rivalry are in favour of ”sovereignty of states” whether they adopt internationally accepted principles or not.

      ICC cannot do much with human rights violators because they won’t sign up for it.

      • renu

        Ethnic minorities have been ”at stake” from the time of independence amply said in the various submissions to LLRC by ”authentic” Sinhalese.

  • renu

    ”a stranger in both lands”

    Mhhhh……

    I have heard people in refugee camps in a few countries say: ”why were we born”

  • Observer

    Race is not a very accurate tag to hang on to. Blood lines get mixed and people blindly believe what they want to believe. You can believe you’re a 200% Sinhalese but just because you speak it, how can you prove it? Very silly concept this race thing. That is why identifying your self with a nation as opposed to a race makes much more sense. If you believe in evolution, you’d already know the futility of race.

    There are Sinhalese & Tamils as well that don’t feel blonged in Sri Lanka. On the other hand there are former Sri Lankans now living in other countires who have pledged their allegiance to those nations, even serving in armed forces of those nations. Then there are foreigners who settle in Sri Lanka and call Sri Lanka home.

  • sr

    Sangakkara made you aware that the country is at stake.

    What would these visitors to the North make you aware?

    http://transcurrents.com/tc/2010/04/four_new_sinhala_doctors_condu.html
    Four “New” Sinhala Doctors Conduct a Medical Camp in Mandaitheevu, Fr.Lasantha de Abrew, 18 April 2010:
    ‘’….. We could see Army sentry points every two hundred meters, some are newly done. Kilinochchi town seems to be an Army village, so many personnel, army run shops, army vehicles, and army men playing cricket leisurely. Rarely did we see Tamil people as we drove on the A9.
    ……..For the past twenty years, the Sri Lankan Navy has captured the Mandaitivu village with these peoples’ houses and made it a High Security Zone. The people were displaced several times in different places and have last come back but they are staying outside of the naval camp in huts just gazing at their own homes occupied by the Navy. The doctors spoke to the people and observed their utter poverty. ….’’

  • Vino Gamage

    ”I am: Sri Lankan, French, South East Asian, European and most of all a citizen of the world.”

    A lot of things are at stake here(material for more lucid theses:

    http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article474824.ece

    ”Sinnaiyah, who was unmarried, came to the Kingdom in 2008 from Maskeliya, a town in the tea-growing region of central Sri Lanka.

    “We negotiated the blood money on behalf of Sinnaiyah’s family. The father of the killer agreed to a sum of SR50,000 as an out-of-court settlement,” an embassy official told Arab News on Tuesday.

    The diplomat said the mission was given power of attorney by the victim’s relatives to pursue the case on their behalf.”

    SR50,000 ”negotitated” by Embassy Official !!!!!

    • KamSan

      Out-of-court settlement for a murder?
      Negotiated by a diplomat of Sri Lankan embassy ??

      A pittance of SR50,000 is another matter.

      All Sri Lankan embassies are at stake now.

      What would the Sri Lankan judiciary say to this?

      What would the Sri Lankan legislators say to this?

  • georgethebushpig

    Dear Ms. Cramer,

    I read your piece with interest as it highlights the ephemeral nature of “identity”. Your article echoes some elements of Amin Maalouf’s essay titled, “In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong” (friends say that reading it in the original French is much better). Maalouf being Maronite/Christian/Lebanese/French argues that identity is something fluid, an amalgamation of at many times conflicting composites and defined most easily in opposition to something.

    He argues that the inability to recognize the multi-dimensionality of identity allows the dehumanization of the “other”. This imposition of a singular projection of ones own perception onto the other, causes a reaction for the other to want to assert his/her identity and this is how ordinary men are “transformed into butchers”. It is the denial of the others identity that elicits the greatest anger.

    The denial of someones identity initiates a process of “imagining” an identity in opposition to the other. This seems to radiate in all directions. So we have the Mahavamsa crew, the Hela dudes and the Thamilar cultural revivalists all furiously resurrecting “identities” that were long dead and pushing up the daisies. It is this inability to grasp that identity is fluid and multidimensional and that one should in fact welcome progressive change rather than try to stick to some archaic artefact best left in the museum that fuels the fires of rabid ethnic nationalism.

    I think we would be hard pressed to find even among the hardcore LTTE cadre someone who didn’t rejoice in Sri Lanka’s victory over Australia in the 1996 Cricket Worldcup. Sri Lankan Tamils in Toronto were apparently driving around tooting their horns with the Sri Lankan flag flying from one window and the LTTE flag from the other. Here was a moment when we could collectively define ourselves as Sri Lankans and actually feel good about it. Alas, that was short lived as we quickly returned to defining ourselves against the other, this time within our own borders.

    It is most probable that if the Tamil people of Sri Lanka had been treated equally, felt equal and were able to express their identity in its full splendor, their need to want to brandish another flag may never have arisen. This is where reconciliation must naturally focus its energies. It ain’t too late to begin to “imagine” a progressive collective identity that transcends parochial interests and provides space for all to achieve their highest aspirations.

    Pardon the digression; loved the article.

    Cheers

    • Vino Gamage

      georgethebushpig

      I like the whole of your comment.

      May I please elaborate with what I have read on violence(by a psychologist):

      ”It is the denial of the other’s identity that elicits the greatest anger” = denial of identity is humiliation and humiliation elicits the the greatest anger(which leads to violence)

      • sr

        http://www.llrc.lk/images/stories/docs/Kumar_Rupasinghe.pdf
        Submission to LLRC, Kumar Rupasinghe, Chairman, Foundation for Co-existance, 20 October 2010:
        ”….. These are the simple day to day interactions that humiliate the Tamils, fuel their resentment and anger. …..”

      • georgethebushpig

        Couldn’t agree with you more.

      • georgethebushpig

        Absolutely!

    • renu

      ”Sri Lankan Tamils in Toronto were apparently driving around tooting their horns with the Sri Lankan flag flying from one window and the LTTE flag from the other.”

      That’s the sweetest I’ve heard for a long time. Didn’t SJV Chelvanayagam ask the Tamils in 1970 elections to ignore the lone tamil voices for separation and didn’t the Tamils respond overwhelmingly to SJV’s call?
      Sirimavo Bandaranaike couldn’t understand it.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Georgethebushpig,

      So at last we find ourselves in agreement! Says something (good) about the article.

      • georgethebushpig

        Dear Dr. Jayatilleke,

        You do eh? That’s interesting. Let’s see if we can also come around to agreeing that a collective identity should be grounded in pluralism unshaken by no exigency that is bound to arise.

  • niranjan

    Ravana,

    I have certainly met Sinhalese people who harbour racist feelings towards Tamils. These feelings were there before the war, during the war and after the war. It maybe the same on the Tamil side. Some of those feelings is due to ignorance, but not all are ignorant.
    Racism lurks in the minds of people. It comes out when they speak.

  • KamSan

    ”From now on, everyone is part of the majority. It was a nice feeling after decades of distinction between the communities in the island” hurts a lot of people who are under the boots of the army in the Northeast.

  • KamSan

    In France you cared to remove ”misunderstanding” when you thought it was a misunderstanding:
    ”Two years after the end of this war, I return to France. At an orientation programme in one of the world’s prestigious universities, I presented myself as a Sri Lankan, only to be checked if I’m a Tamil or if not, belonged to those who massacre them. Dumbfounded and shocked at this question I reply and rectify the distorted representation of Sri Lanka and its communities.”

    In Sri Lanka you talk about discrimination and then you say that you are made to think this way and that you are not the only one. What did you do about it:

    ”One cannot deny the discrimination. Certainly not I, when I remember clearly that any dark skinned person was immediately identified as a Tamil who then immediately became a Tiger terrorist. I was made to think this way. But I was not the only one.”

  • sr

    ”“There are no more minorities” said the President after the defeat of the LTTE – a secessionist rebel group that waged a war against Sri Lanka in 2009. From now on, everyone is part of the majority. It was a nice feeling after decades of distinction between the communities in the island. ….”

    If you don’t visit the Northeast and if you want to write about it you may search for info:

    No war, no peace: the denial of minority rights and justice in Sri Lanka, Report by Minority Rights Group International, 19 January 2011:
    ”With the end of the conflict between Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam (LTTE or ‘Tamil Tigers’) in 2009, normality has returned for much of the population of Sri Lanka. But for members of the country’s two main minority groups – Tamils and Muslims – living in the north and east of the country, harsh material conditions, economic marginalisation, and militarism remain prevalent. Drawing on interviews with activists, religious and political leaders, and ordinary people living in these areas of the country, MRG found a picture very much at odds with the official image of peace ….”

  • Ravana

    Myil Selvan,

    “There were others who conveniently sat at home doing nothing. Probably because they didn’t want to get their hands dirty. The dirty work was being done by the unruly mob. There would have been other sinhalese who sat back and were satisfied with the proceedings and were happy the Thamils were being taught a lesson. Hence I still think a majority of the sinhalese may have been satisfied or indifferent about the incidents of 1983.”

    Oh Myil! How wrong you are. I know of very few sinhalas who felt happy about July 1983. Firstly, many of us do not think of “Tamils” as any different to us. Secondly, to know what happened to Tamils citizens was deeply traumatic for any Sri Lankan. In any community there are approximately 20% racists. To accuse even a majority of Sinhalas of being “satisfied” with what happened to the Tamils is utterly distasteful.

    If you read this girl’s essay can you not see the back handed slap she gives against racism and elitism?

    • Velu Balendran

      In trying to judge Sinhalese perception (leaving aside the “boru katha”), Tamils ponder:

      Us&them: Was JRJ wrong when he said something to the effect that the more he squeezes the Tamils the happier the Sinhalese will be?

      Federalism: Why does Dayan Jayathilaka say in (Sunday Leader) that “You can’t sell federalism in the South: opinion polls show less than 5% support for it”? Why are the Sinhalese so opposed to the minority (12%?) conducting their own affairs as they see fit?

      Equality: Why are the Sinhalese content with seeing the Tamils oppressed and not allowed to prosper except as 4th or 5th class citizens (in the slums of Colombo)?

      Identity: Why is it that when one Sinhalese tells “you Tamils should go back to Tamil Nadu from where you came” no other Sinhalese feels offended? Do Tamils forfeit to be Lankans if they assert their Tamil identity and fight to safeguard it (as Lankan Sinhalese Buddhists do)?

      Inclusivity: They talk about Lakshman Kadirgarmar, but are there any Tamil Colonels or even cadres in the mono-ethnic security forces? Is not discrimination in all walks of life a reality for Tamils?

      Secession: With deep rooted suspicions and disagreements, can the two races co-exist and work for the benefit of each other?

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Velu Balendran, why cannot “the minority conduct its own affairs as it sees fit”, as the Catholics of Northern Ireland do, namely as power sharing/devolution within a non-federal, at least formally, unitary state? If you wish to know why the Sinhalese oppose federalism, please ask yourself why the Chinese, Filipinos, French, British and Bolivians (to pick diverse examples)do so too. Federalism is not the only model of ensuring a measure of self-administration by the minority.

      • Velu Balendran

        Dr Jayatilleka,

        I think it is cowardly to ask a Tamil to figure out why Sinhalese oppose Federalism; quoting irrelevant examples. (The Catholics of NI wanted a united Ireland. The Tamils are not asking SL to be part of India or TN!!! I am aware that Briton is ready to grant independence to Scotland. But Alex Salmond is hesitant to call for a referendum as it is clear that the Scottish people after weighing the pros and cons are not in a mood for it. If a referendum is called in the North and East of SL for independence, I guess everyone knows what the verdict would be). I am sorry; I am not disposed to taking lessons on governance from Chinese, Filipinos and Bolivians, even if they are relevant, which I suspect they are not.

        May I venture to say that the Sinhalese people have no idea on the pros and cons of Federalism or ‘any other’ form of power sharing? My view is that Federalism is a cultivated ‘gOni billa’ shown from time to time to the Sinhalese masses to make political capital as and when required by Sinhala chauvinist regimes. (Ref: Dr. A.R.M. Imtiyaz in The Sunday Leader of 17th inst)

  • Google

    Leave alone 1948-2005.

    In the last six years what have been the Rajapkses saying and doing ?
    We won’t let the Northeast live peacefully to prosperity.

    The international community should let the Northeast develop for 5 years on its own. Then the South and the Northeast may decide to stay as one country and work on the basis of equality.

    Anyway that is the principle in UN Charter.

    But geopolitics doesn’t favour FAIRNESS at the expense of some strange notion of ”international relations”.

    The oppressor is safe in an island and the oppressed have no future in that island.

  • sr

    dayan
    Instead of harping on and on that the Sinhalese will never agree for federalism, start saying something positively or gather support for:

    http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/139
    National integration is still where it was when Prabhakaran’s body was found at Nandhikkadal, Somapala Gunadheera, 2 May 2011:
    ‘’…. If we are wise, we should first put our own house in order before we challenge the UN…. It is not yet too late to begin. The mission needs a powerful Presidential Task Force for National Reconciliation. Such a Force can cut the ground from under the feet of the ongoing controversy and many more to be expected.’’

    http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/213
    Osama and Prabhakaran: The killing of two terrorist leaders, Harim Pieris, 5 May 2011:
    ‘’…. However the West’s war on terror and specifically its war on Al Queda have been complimented by a dialogue and outreach to the Muslim world.
    Similarly Sri Lanka’s own war on terror, concluded now almost two years ago, must also be complemented and succeeded by dialogue and an outreach through friendship to the Tamil community.”

  • Sabamahes

    Dayan
    The President’s hobby is appointing commissions and collecting reports.
    Your hobby is harping Simhalese will never agree for federalism while
    soldiers are tending grass(amount of water to make it look like the grass in upcountry gardens!!) in front of mammoth memorials and infants are helping exhausted parents in building huts hundreds of yards apart in Vanni:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-14229631

  • Bandara

    Dayan

    We’ve been denying the Tamils federalism for 6 decades and can we even pronounce that word after doing so much malice to them?

    They are now too weak to become even jaguars or pandas. So this is the time they should be allowed to flourish so that they will have no cause to become anything other than good Sri Lankans – identity crisis solved.
    and no more ”external interferences” !!!!!!!

    • Modaya

      Those who are trying to discuss politics with Dayan may be interested to note what Kusal Perera wrote:
      o Kusal Perera
      June 28, 2011 • 7:36 am
      Feel Sorry about you Dayan.
      Didn’t expect you to go that far, or rather that deep in getting embedded unconditionally in racist politics to say “yes the Tamils have been fooled and let down over the years since independence. So what? There’s nothing new in that, but Prabhakaran must be killed, never mind how many Tamils are killed and maimed.”
      I think I made a mistake in trying to discuss politics with you. It would have been much better to try discussing politics with WW.
      Thank you for telling who you are, for this plundering and looting regime, on the credits of war.

      • Bandara

        Thanks, Modaya.
        Yes, I agree.
        I tried to spot “yes the Tamils have been fooled and let down over the years since independence. So what? There’s nothing new in that, but Prabhakaran must be killed, never mind how many Tamils are killed and maimed” in the article proper but keep missing it. I can only see Kusal’s comment.
        Can you please tell me the exact paragraph that contains this?
        Thank you.

  • truth

    Environmentalists,

    Look, how we waste paper in the North:

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/07/21/idINIndia-58383820110721

    We are refusing to let Tamils have their due human rights but waste anything to get their votes ?

  • truth

    Environmentalists, please insist on sustainable development – attending international conferences on climate change and other matters is not enough for the government officials:

    http://in.reuters.com/article/2011/07/21/idINIndia-58383820110721
    ”President Mahinda Rajapaksa, eager to gain support in the north, toured the area this week to launch development projects and promised more of them, in a war-ravaged region that remains firmly under military control”

    Establish the identity as Buddhists who care for the environment:

    http://www.pbs.org/thebuddha/blog/2010/mar/10/buddhism-and-environmental-politics-paul-wapner/

  • truth

    Buddhists and environmentalists,

    There should be no identity crisis:

    https://www.ashgate.com/isbn/0754639096
    Buddhism, Virtue and Environment

    There wouldn’t be any more ”foreign advice”.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Velu balendran, sr et al,

    ok let’s make this simple, for the simple-minded, or should i say, the spacier in cyberspace.

    60 years of striving for federalism didn’t work.

    30 plus years striving for secession didn’t work.

    Indian intervention didn’t work.

    25 years of secessionist war and terrorism didn’t work.

    You wanna keep plugging away at federalism, be my guest. Its not my cause or life.

    I rather suggest the scientific method: if something doesn’t work repeatedly, abandon the hypothesis, especially if in the meantime there has been a deterioration.

    Contrast these failures with the public opinion polls since 1997: a plurality for provincial devolution within a unitary state.

    • Velu Balendran

      So we are all stupefied, simple-minded, drug addicts!!! All because the erudite Dr cannot explain in simple terms why the Federal ‘gOni billa’ can’t be put to work, and that without trying! Perhaps he hasn’t a coherent argument. Perhaps the billa won’t go back into the bottle!

    • sr

      ”Contrast these failures with the public opinion polls since 1997: a plurality for provincial devolution within a unitary state” ??

      http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers46/paper4558.html
      Sri Lanka: Indian Delegates go Home Empty Handed, Kumar David, 15 June 2011:
      ‘’The umpteenth Indian delegation (Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao, National Security Advisor Shiva Shankar Menon and Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar) came to Colombo and duly went back empty handed and funny as a comic strip! President Rajapakse handed them a flat ‘Nyet’ and for once in a lifetime he spoke the truth. “If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me.” The government’s parliamentary group met the evening before the esteemed visitors arrived and decided; ‘’Let’s tell them the truth straight from the shoulder and upfront; let’s tell them’’ …….’’

    • sambar

      The following observations may be of interest to some who doubt how informed Dr Dayan Jayatilleka’s arguments are:

      Induction is not scientific method – if something does not work after a few attempts a scientist does not make the general conclusion that it could never work.

      A scientific hypothesis should not be muddled with an idea such as federalism (which is not at all a scientific hypothesis).

      As Robert the Bruce might have said, try try and try again until at last you succeed

      “Provincial devolution”? How fair that is would of course depend on the details of the devolution: mere words on paper or substantial enough.

      Perhaps the doubters might also be relieved.

  • truth

    Dayan

    Please forget about negating federalism.

    Please concentrate on positives:

    Good ideas for identity for Sri Lanka(Buddhist Republic):

    http://www.buddhanet.net/budsas/ebud/ebdha006.htm
    Buddhism and Environmental Protection

    http://www.sgi-uk.org/index.php/buddhism/oneness
    Oneness of life and its environment

  • sr

    Dayan

    You did in May 2009 at UNHRC what many would have found impossible.

    You have such tenacious will-power.

    Please turn your attention to a good identity for Sri lankans:

    http://www.china.org.cn/english/2006/Apr/165629.htm
    Harmony with the Environment Through Buddhism

  • Vino Gamage

    We may not grant the ”maximum” devolution the President was talking about in 2006/7/8. But people like Dayan should prod the government to let aid agents help the returnees the minimum of capacity building which is currently being prevented.

    Easing identity crisis.

  • Game Kolla

    You should write a book! I AM could be the bestselling novel of all times. I wish I could write like you. I was born in far from Colombo, I went to maha vidyalaya, and we had ½ of English per day. I left Sri Lanka when I was 17 to Switzerland and now live in England. I speak, read and understand English well but my writing skills are so minimal, it’s hard to learn 3 languages at 17. Anyway I adore your passion, Hope after surborn you will bring over fair and honest journalism to Sri Lanka.
    Anyway about your book, I’m sure you have so many characters when you were in girl’s school, and after that. Don’t forget to include some jokers who were commenting on your article, especially myil selvan, he was one of those LTTE internet heroes, who wrote until end of the war everywhere that LTTE is the only god and they will protect and win the war. He is racist and now he got bit of diplomatic suit on and try to be wise. Anyway these jokers should be shot; they don’t add or bring anything to the country, to the nation, or community itself. They always live with unhappy frustrated mode. All they need is get the killing fields back and live in London, Canada, or France like kings.
    You should write about all jokers who are thinking 83 July was created by Sinhalese, i was just 7 years back then, but having spoken to many LTTE London fellas, who are still my friends, some are now invested in Sri Lanka, ( i played for LTTE Cricket league, and lucky to be one of only few Sinhalese origin players) i learnt from them that, it was planned by LTTE chief. It said that LTTE chief and prominent Tamil politician who lived in Colombo, had paid Sinhalese goons, idiots, and some police buffoons, to carry out the attracts on poor Tamil guys. Do any one knows 80s police chief is Tamil origin, any one knows 81 Colombo DIG was Tamil??? Do You know none of So called Top Tamil family’s lived in cmb7 , kota road, wellawathe wasn’t un touched, but poor chanteuse living corner shop business people or working class Tamil were targeted. Who did that? Why it’s happen? Government should investigate on that and shot them all who were responsible. Tamil community in Sri Lanka can only blame themselves, as they were blind just as Sinhalese and others, our corrupted politician, destroy this country, they did what whites wanted… except Rajapaksha, he must be making money, he must be treating all his family but he is the only president who could least say I am Sinhalese but I speak Tamil, so I’m Tamil, and after all I’m Sri Lankan.
    Sri Lankan politics, whether they were Tamil, Muslim or burgers, simply destroyed our country. That’s the bottom line, now we came out of it, where we could leave all the past behind, call our self the way you and Sanga expressed very clearly I’m Tamil, I’m Sinhalese, I’m Buddhist, I’m Hindu, I’m Muslim, I’m Catholic, I’m Christian,, after all I’m SRI LANKAN. Anyone who have any other way of thinking and try to disturb our nationality should be punished like in Arab countries. ALL THIS idiots who got hatred towards Sri Lankan should be named as, racist, selfish, spineless ltte supporting buffoons and should hang on public!!!!
    In material if they were Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, burger or any other. They all are traitors

    Good luck with your studies, looking forward to read some logical, reality of lives.
    Ps. please forgive my grammatical mistakes.

    • sambar

      Game Kolla,

      Ever thought of going into writing yourself?
      You appear to be very talented indeed at being creative with the truth!

  • sr

    ”It said that LTTE chief and prominent Tamil politician who lived in Colombo, had paid Sinhalese goons, idiots, and some police buffoons, to carry out the attracts on poor Tamil guys”

    One of those Sinhalese goons is President Jayawardene who let the cat out of the bag when he told Ian Ward, a reporter from The Telegraph(UK)two weeks previously(11 July 1983): ”I don’t worry about the Tamils. Sinhalese will be happy if I starve the Tamils”.

    Please don’t go too far and spoil the story.

  • MTY

    What a happy ending to [edited out] story:

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2285774.ece
    ”Asked about the absence of an enduring political solution 26 months after the war with the LTTE ended, the Sri Lankan President told me over a breakfast meeting at Temple Trees in Colombo: “I have asked my party and others to propose a Parliamentary Select Committee to look into a political solution, any amendments to the Constitution. Whatever the Parliamentary Committee recommends to me, I will accept – and ultimately it has to go to Parliament.”

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear sr and Vino Gamage,

    My ideas on identity are and have been totally congruent with those (in their uncensored form) of Judge Weeramantry, Kumar Sangakkara, and the author of the essay currently under discussion.

    • sambar

      If Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka’s ideas on identity are and have been totally congruent with those of Judge Weeramantry, Kumar Sangakkara, and the author of the essay currently under discussion, he is then also claiming that there is no distinction between any of these peoples ideas.

      Can that really be?

      Looks like Dr. DJ is somewhat logically challenged!

  • Mahinda

    http://transcurrents.com/news-views/archives/2444#more-2444
    Pitfalls in the President’s Alliance with the EPDP–A Visit to Kayts on Elections Day, Professor S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole, 24 July 2011

    Dayan

    Please help the President. Please get the country out of crisis – the President needs good advisors and friends.

  • Mahinda

    Dayan

    Do you only want to ward off criticism against the government?
    Do you speak so much of political philosophy and not prod the President to help the war-battered people to practise the democracy of voting?
    http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=56609
    In Sri Lanka Democracy Rides on Wheels, 25 July 2011:
    ”An offer from CaFFE to bear the costs of providing free transport in the former conflict zone, popularly known as the Vanni, and elsewhere was shot down by election officials.”

  • sambar

    Celine,

    You write entertainingly – good.

    Some factual comments that you may find useful someday:

    Colombo Chetties are only of merchant level (Vaishya), therefore they cannot possibly be higher than Tamils who are descended from Kshatriya and Brahmin levels (as are many Jaffna Tamils).

    “The LTTE – Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam – waged a war against Sri Lanka; their objective was to gain a separate state meant for the Tamils.”
    Not entirely so! Their main objective was to separate away from the Sinhala Buddhist extremists.

    “Certainly not I, when I remember clearly that any dark skinned person was immediately identified as a Tamil who then immediately became a Tiger terrorist. I was made to think this way.”

    Lots of Sinhalese do think that way.
    Some years ago, at another prestigous university in England, there was a most amusing incident where a quite dark skinned Sinhalese ranted on and on about how bad the invading dark Tamils were.
    The others present first thought that he was being admirably self critical! When questioned the Sinhalese man became very very confused. Besides, quite coincidentally, every Tamil at that university was much fairer than every Sinhalese there at the time!

    The world certainly does note differences between Sinhalese and Tamils at a political and moral level when they refer to Sri Lankans these days. In Canada Tamils are associated with terrorism but are also seen as the victims, while in most other countries it is the Sinhalese and the GOSl who are the real baddies!

    Dutch Burghers see themsleves as better and much less mixed with the local Sinhalese than the Portuguese Burghers.
    Those of British descent never refer to themselves as Burghers and see themselves as superior and quite apart.
    The matter of English fluency is of no consequence at all.