Photo credit: Eranga Jayawardena / AP, taken from Christian Science Monitor

In his most famous and controversial work, Prof Samuel Huntington listed Sri Lanka’s armed conflict as an example of his key category of ‘fault line wars’. The war is over but the fault lines perhaps remain. Are the fault lines staying static, widening, narrowing, or in a dialectical sense, both widening and narrowing? Is it still too early to tell?

Ours is an uneven peace, but it is not unusual, two years after a war, especially a decades-long one. The crucial questions are whether things are better than in wartime or worse, and whether the rate of improvement is on par with the global and historical average or far below.

The answers require a comparative and evolutionary perspective.

  • Compare the post-conflict phase with wartime and remember that no lethal violence on any significant scale is taking place now.
  • Compare the fascist LTTE’s control of the North then with that of the Sri Lankan armed forces now and decide which is better from the vantage point of the whole country as well as that of parents of the area whose children are not being forcefully conscripted anymore and citizens who aren’t being illegally taxed as then.
  • Compare the gradual economic, administrative, informational, international and social connectivity and osmosis of prosperity today, with the isolation and malign neglect of the wartime decades.

What then of the phenomenon described as militarisation, and the corresponding call for de-militarisation?

Here too an evolutionary and comparative-historical approach is imperative. The prolonged hosting of a brutal hostile militia and the extension of a degree of social support to them, especially in a civil war context, does not usually result in sweetness and light on the morning after. Following the US Civil war against secession, the victorious Union (i.e. Northern) armies remained in the South for twelve years and withdrew only as a result of an electoral deal.

Even under the most liberal administrations, security considerations sometimes result in policy practices that focus on certain sociological categories and geographic areas in a manner that could be perceived as discriminatory.  A recent issue of International Herald Tribune carried photographs and a story of US troops obtaining biometric data (‘eyeball printing’) of an enormous number of men of ‘fighting age’ in Afghanistan.

The call for the de-militarization of the North must be seen in the correct, gradualistic perspective. The North is strategically vital for the security of the island. It has been the passage for invasions from across the waters over millennia. As such there can be no question of the withdrawal of the Sri Lankan military or even its downsizing and redeployment on anything other than strictly military criteria. There obviously has to be a permanent and adequate military presence in the North. What can be legitimately debated and subjected to change is the military ‘footprint’ in everyday social and civilian life. Currently this seems a function of the weakness of the machinery of civil administration in the area, and the resultant vacuum. That needs to be addressed; filled.

The critics ask why President Rajapaksa, who has a historic military victory and a two-thirds majority in Parliament, does not swiftly solve the problem by striking a deal with the TNA. Matters are not quite as unproblematic as they seem. The TNA rejects or at best (and more recently) is utterly ambivalent about the existing Constitutional provisions for devolution. This leaves the Sinhala majority quizzical about the ceiling of TNA aspirations: what would be the ‘final status’ agreement? Where is the firebreak between autonomy and creeping secessionism? The suspicions of the Sinhalese and the security establishment are fuelled by memories of Chief Minister Vardarajaperumal’s abortive putschism of 1989-90, the far more recent memories of the TNA’s role and rhetoric as fellow-traveller of the Tigers, the inflammation of anti-Lankan sentiment in Tamil Nadu, the TNA’s refusal to make any criticism whatsoever of the Tigers and their war, that party’s intemperate charges against the armed forces (“tens of thousands of Tamil civilians killed by deep penetration units”) in the course of its prolonged applause of the Darusman Report, and the increasing overlap between the more strident elements of the Tamil émigrés and the TNA.

In sum, President Rajapaksa is hardly blessed with a moderate, pragmatic peace partner.  Therefore, in a highly partisan, competitive democracy, he has to exercise political prudence, while avoiding political paralysis.

Whatever the problems and rough edges of the ongoing election campaign in the North, what is more important is that the TNA is among the legal choices open to the voters. In liberal Spain, NATO and EU member, a corresponding party, Herri Batasuna, the parliamentary representative of Basque nationalism, has been proscribed as having links with violent separatism, namely the ETA.

Is this grim realism unrelieved by any prospect of opening and reform? Hardly. There are three reform projects either running or in the offing: the LLRC report, the ongoing dialogue between the Government and the TNA and the proposed Parliamentary Select Committee.

The criticism that the Select Committee idea is dilatory ignores the reported suggestion by President Rajapaksa that it be strictly time bound and limited to three to six months. Why not build that into the terms of the committee?

There is more than a little hypocrisy involved in the Opposition’s political responses. The TNA has called the Select Committee a waste of time. However, these potential peace partners had wasted time over the years, by refusing to accept the existing Constitutional arrangements on devolution even as a starting point for discussion, backing out at the last minute of signing potential agreements (with the Muslim Congress) negotiated by President, Premadasa, rejecting the Mangala Moonesinghe Select Committee Report, and GL Peiris/Sirisena Cooray compromise proposal of linkage through an Apex Council.

Having thus wasted no less than 20 years indulging in the rhetoric of rejectionism, the TNA is oblivious to the irony of currently complaining that the proposed a PSC would be a waste of time.

As for the UNP General Secretary Mr Tissa Attanayake who makes a similar complaint of a prospective waste of time, he has doubtless forgotten—the burning by the UNP in parliament, of President Kumaratunga’s draft Constitution of August 2000 ( a draft which was strongly argued for on the floor of the House by Messrs Kadirgamar and Ashraff).

The jaded cynicism which greets the reform initiatives and ideas also overlooks two other factors. Firstly, the GoSL-TNA dialogue, if successful, requires a safety net of broad consensus and anchorage in the legislature –which should therefore not feel by-passed, reduced to a mere rubber stamp. Secondly, the PSC provides the drawing together of the UPFA and UNP in a moderate consensus which would permit a healthy enhancement of public consciousness and render the reforms far less susceptible to radical or extremist nationalism.

Sri Lanka’s critics expect a ‘big bang’ of post-war improvement. This is the same advice they urged on post-socialist Russia, which under Yeltsin, paid a heavy price for going along with this Western wisdom 20 years ago. It took President Putin’s strongly statist leadership and Sergei Lavrov’s stewardship of foreign policy for Russia to recover from that adventurist experiment.

An accurate appreciation of post-war Sri Lankan prospects for peace-building requires a gradualist, evolutionary perspective in which the reform openings (LLRC, talks with the TNA, the PSC) are not seen as isolated initiatives. When taken together, they are capable of cumulatively catalysing constructive change.


  • veedhur


    I agree with the gradualist approach to de-militarisation and political solution. I also can understand political expediency in a competitive democracy.

    My worry though is that trends appear otherwise.

    If the President is sincere, why not take the APRC finding to TNA for negotiations instead of reconvening the same political parties to go through the issues afresh? Does he think the balance achieved during war times is no longer tenable?

    Painting TNA black (without giving them too a ‘gradualist’ benefit of doubt) seems unhelpful at best and disingenuous at worst. To denounce their endorsement of the Darusman Report is questionable both in your framework (political prudence ) as well as in other objective frameworks.

    What would be a credible ‘firebreak’ between autonomy and creeping secessionism?

    If North is the gate through which 21st century invaders would come, why is East still stuck with a military governor, military GA and a weak civil administration?

    • Dr Dayan jayatilleka

      Trinco, Veedhur, Trinco…is in the Eastern province.

  • Velu Balendran

    To start with it is not post-conflict; it is only post-war.

    The conflict is more palpable now than ever before.

    “The crucial questions are whether things are better….” One with a PhD (some say ‘Pingan hodana Doctors’ of the govt) should substantiate such claims with stats from surveys. However:

    “No lethal violence…” Eerie silence of the graveyard post-war does not guarantee peace.
    “facist LTTE” vs SLA: The LG election results in the NE today proves the writer is totally out of touch with ground realities.
    “Compare gradual economic … osmosis of prosperity today…” Where? In the NE? Involving Tamils? Jobs? (This column is not a place for jokes).

    On militarisation: Thanks for accepting the presence of the military jackboot in NE. The ICG has stated that the NE must be urgently demilitarised – which incidentally is the demand of the Tamils too. The argument of the writer would lead to conclude that the Sinhalese regime with its mono-ethnic military want to oppress the Tamils (much like what Gaddafi wanted to do).

    “biometric data (‘eyeball printing’)…” Heard this standard argument many times these days from GoSL sources: they did it first in Iraq, Afgh…. No one is impressed by these arguments anymore.

    “It has been the passage for invasions from across the waters over millennia…..” Where from Orissa? What is the evidence… say in the last 100 years? If there has to be a permanent military presence needed in the North, then to be acceptable, it must be a predominantly Tamil military presence; not a mono-ethnic Sinhala military presence.

    “the TNA’s refusal to make any criticism whatsoever of the Tigers and their war, that party’s intemperate charges against the armed forces (“tens of thousands of Tamil civilians killed by deep penetration units”) in the course of its prolonged applause of the Darusman Report, and the increasing overlap between the more strident elements of the Tamil emigres and the TNA”. All Tamils applaud this stand of the TNA. The charges are true. Their stand on UN expert report and C4 video are much appreciated by their electorate and Diaspora.

    “…TNA is among the legal choices open to the voters…. Herri Batasuna…ETA” Up until recently wasn’t LTTE the legitimate choice for GoSL to have talks with on the all important national question?

    “…wasted no less than 20 years…” What have been the Sinhala regimes doing over the past 60 years in addition to that abomination of a Constitution and 128 APRC meetings?

    “big bang” Why not try the APRC recommendations? Should have discussed long time ago if gradualist approach was desired. (But then the President was promising a home grown solution! When was that and what happened?) After 60 years of slumber it will all look a big bang when war crimes charges are breathing down the neck!

    • Off the Cuff

      Velu Balendran,

      You say All Tamils applaud this stand of the TNA. The charges are true. Their stand on UN expert report and C4 video are much appreciated by their electorate and Diaspora.

      Apparently there are Tamils who have the backbone to call a Spade a Spade.
      I am referring to Dr. Noel Nadesan, The Editor of 14 years of the Australian Tamil Newspaper “The Uthayam”. His views are not the same as yours, unfortunately.

      In an Open Letter addressed to Alan Sunderland, Head of Policy, ABC , Sydney

      ABC is an acronym for Australia Broadcasting Corporation, which is the Public Broadcaster in Australia.

      As a Tamil domiciled in Australia I served the Tamil community by editing the only Tamil community newspaper, UTHAYAM. I ran it for 14 years My experiences in dealing with the Tamil community, both in Australia and in Sri Lanka, make me feel sad about the callous way in which the media is exploiting the suffering of our Tamil people for self-serving ends. I think I could speak as an independent voice with no allegiances to the politics of either community or political parties. My main concern has been to help our Tamils in Sri Lanka who had to face the brunt of all attacks from the Indians soldiers, Sri Lankan forces and, above all, the so-called Tamil liberators, the LTTE. I have just completed building a small hospital in the island of Eluvaitivu, in which I grew up and, sooner or later, I plan to go back to serve our Tamil people who are desperately in need of help.
      It is against this background that I thought of forwarding my comments to you after viewing the re-broadcast of Channel 4 programme, The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka. I must confess I felt depressed and I could not sleep that night. I have recovered since then and I feel I must send you my comments for your consideration because I feel that you aired it to exploit the suffering of our people whose need of the hour is not to rake up the bloody past but to find a way out of the past.
      I fail to see how your programme could help the victims of the war – if that was your intention – when their immediate and long-term needs are to regain a future free from these. The sensationalism certainly may help the ratings of Channel 4 and ABC but how will it help our people?
      Our people who lived through the horrors of the futile war know that this is only one side of the story. Our Tamil leaders have informed the world that the LTTE has killed more Tamils than all the other forces – Indian, Sri Lankan and rival Tamil parties – put together. The moralizings of the media lacks credibility because our people who lived through the horrors of the war know who killed whom in what manner. Leaving aside the die-hard partisans, our people know that the LTTE was a cruel and beastly outfit they had never encountered in living memory – and do not want to encounter in all their lives to come.
      Undoubtedly, there are Tamils who are jubilant about this broadcast because they are aligned politically to the side (i.e., the LTTE) that perpetrated the worst crimes against the Tamils. If Channel 4 produced a film of the atrocities committed by the LTTE against their own people and the other communities throughout the 33-year-old war – the longest running in Asia – it would shock the world beyond belief.
      Then there is the documented story of Velupillai Prabhakaran herding nearly 300,000 Tamil civilians to serve as his human shield when he was retreating. In the last stages he shot the Tamils who were running away from him into the arms of the Sri Lankan forces who were commended or their humanitarian services by the Ban Ki-moon’s expert panel and even by Gordon Weiss. Any Tamil who was in Prabhakaran’s human shield will tell you that the Sri Lankan force treated them humanely than the LTTE cadres. 
      The atrocities committed by the LTTE are numerous. Why didn’t Channel 4 balance their story with the other side? Yes, there were passing references to LTTE atrocities but you will agree that the blame was put entirely on the Sri Lankan government. Is this fair journalism? 
      It was a controversial document in which the best of experts disagreed on the authenticity and the accuracy of the contents. For instance, Channel 4 showed images of a young man who was tied to a tree, threatened with a knife and subsequently killed. I was told by sources in the Wanni that this was an LTTE operation and pictures were taken for propaganda purposes by LTTE. Have a close look and you will find among the so-called soldiers a man in slippers. Sri Lankan soldiers never go about in slippers when they go out on operations.
      Those who know both sides of the story were appalled by your decision to air a partisan video. Despite occasional references to the LTTE the main thrust of the video was to blame the Sri Lankan government. You were aware of this gross distortion and you went ahead because it fitted into your biased political agenda. As stated by the London Sunday Times, it was shoddy journalism unworthy of a reputed media institution like the ABC.
      Take the case of Suthanthirapuram which was declared as the first No-Fire Zone for the civilians. The LTTE moved their radio station and artillery unit to fire at Army points from NFZ. They were also firing at the advancing army from close proximity to the hospital or make-shift hospital. The AGA Parthipan and Dr Shanmugaraja can confirm this. I will quote another incident. When former EROS leader Balakumar and his family , who worked with LTTE for many years, tried to flee in a boat in Mullaitivu in 29th April   2009, the LTTE, knowing very well who he was, fired at them. His young daughter was critically injured and the bullets tore her forearm. Her hand is yet to heal.
      These are facts
      How do I know all this? I travelled Sri Lanka seven times last two years widely in war zones in Wanni and talked to the victims who were trapped in the war zones. They knew that they were targeted both sides and they could not comprehend why the LTTE should expose to retaliatory fire in the NFZ. They could not understand why the LTTE turned the NFZ into a war zone.
      The agents of LTTE in the Tamil diaspora also shed a lot of crocodile tears about the 300,000 IDPs. They described the IDP camps as concentration camps. Knowing the general conditions under which Sri Lankans live I can assure you that the conditions of the Tamils, particularly in the in the IDP camps, were far superior to the slums of Colombo or even the conditions of the Sinhala villagers and hill country Tamils in remote areas.
      Even the Tamil MPs of Tamil Nadu and Indian journalists who visited the camps were convinced that the Sri Lankan authorities had done a very good job under trying conditions. Besides a comparison with the manner in which the government treated the Sinhala JVP rebels who took up arms in 1971 will reveal that the LTTErs received far better treatment than the JVPers. Most of them were incarcerated for more than four years. 
      However, I wish to emphasize that at this stage the government has to accept responsibility for their share of the civilian casualties and apologise for that and compensate the next of kin. In calling for justice it is fair and just to hold the leaders in the Tamil expatriate groups who financed, lobbied, and gave moral and material support to the LTTE to prolong their futile war. They too are liable for aiding and abetting a banned terrorist group. Justice demands that these leaders, posing as human rights activists in Western bases, too should be tried  for the crimes committed by the LTTE against their own people.
      On balance, it must be conceded that the elimination of the ruthless LTTE outfit was commendable. What Prabhakaran did to Sri Lanka was 100 time worse that Al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden did to America. Like America any democratic country had the right to eliminate threats to its sovereignty, peace and stability, transgressing, if necessary, international humanitarian law and international law.
      India did it in Punjab and continues to do so in Kashmir. Russians did it in Chechnya. NATO allies are doing the same thing in Libya. America has done it in their war against Al Quaeda since 9/11.
      At the end of it all Sri Lankan Tamils now realise that their destiny is inextricably linked with Sri Lanka and Sinhala people. Violence is not the way out. It was the LTTE who sought the military solution and started the war- they have reaped the bloody harvest they sowed. Now we must genuinely commit themselves to the paths of peace, reconstruction and rehabilitation because violence will not lead anywhere except to the destruction of the remaining Tamils in the north and the east.
      Dr. Noel Nadesan
      End Extract
      Courtesy Dr Nadeson’s Blog
      You ask Up until recently wasn’t LTTE the legitimate choice for GoSL to have talks with on the all important national question?

      Rip Van Winkle?
      What was the TNA when Prabhakaran was living?
      Was it not just Prabhakaran’s puppet, towing his views?
      What purpose would it have served talking to the TNA when Prabhakaran could Veto them in a snap?
      LTTE was not a legitimate choice but a forced one. Be real Velu.

      You say “On militarisation: Thanks for accepting the presence of the military jackboot in NE.”

      Did you write anything about the Fascist Jackboot of the LTTE that was responsible for more Tamil deaths (Our Tamil leaders have informed the world that the LTTE has killed more Tamils than all the other forces – Indian, Sri Lankan and rival Tamil parties – put together.vide Dr Noel Nadesan ) ? If not why not?

      Please remember that the SL Armed forces was headed by a Tamil at one time and there were officers of the Minority serving the Forces even during the war. Do not overlook the role played by the LTTE in preventing members of the Minority serving the armed forces.

      • Velu Balendran

        So the new find is this obscure Dr Noel Nadesan?

        And have Doug Devananda, Karuna Ammaan, Kumaran Pathmanathan, Pillaian etc fallen out of favour?

        FYI Tamils don’t care two hoots for these personalities.

    • Off the Cuff

      Velu Balendran,

      Some people who have a lot to say when they write from a righteous pedestal playing the victim card, are bereft of arguments when faced with the truth.

      Velu, Dr Noel Nadesan is the Editor of the ONLY Tamil Newspaper Uthayam in Australia. Having held the position of Editor for 14 years he would be very well known and respected within the Tamil community both in Australia and the World. Do you read only Tamilnet?

      You say “FYI Tamils don’t care two hoots for these personalities”

      I ask, who is a “Tamil” for you?

      Those who have at least one Tamil parent or those who cowardly sent the Wanni Tamil Children to fight a Man’s battle while keeping their own siblings safe in the West? (BTW, were you one of them?)

      Or Adelle Balasingham and the Terrorist flag waving crowd?

      I am sure Dr Noel Nadesan has TWO Tamil Parents and unlike you, have the guts to tell the Truth even if that exposes himself and his Family to LTTE Terrorist goons that are still active within the Diaspora.

      Velu, if you have what it takes, without excreting nauseating phrases like “some say ‘Pingan hodana Doctors’ of the govt” (from you know where) respond to what Dr Noel Nadesan had stated.

      Is there a Man wearing SLIPPERS posing as a Lankan Soldier in the CH4 film?

      Lankan soldiers NEVER wear slippers in uniform but the LTTE does.

      Then who killed the Tamil Youth that was tied to a Tree and featured in the CH4 film, unless it was the LTTE?

      Pulls the rug from under you, Gordon Wies, CH4 and its supporters regarding who the perpetrators of the killings shown in that film are.

      Velu, you had verbal diarrhoea hitting back at Dr Dayan Jayatilake.
      Are you constipated now?

    • silva

      Title: post-conflict
      Last para: post-war

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Velu, I’ll take your bottom line threat/wish seriously, the day you can mention a single Asian state, i.e. a single state on the world’s most populous continent, its rising economic power, and the continent which is our home, which has raised issues of ‘war crimes’…:))

  • Sankaran

    For Rajapakse, power flows from the barrel of a gun. Elections are held at gunpoint under emergency with the misuse of Executive Powers and State Resources. Considering the violations stated in this report it is significant that Kayts has been won by DD as against the trend of the TNA winning throughout most of the North.It is quite incomprehensible that 77% voted for DD at Kayts. No doubt it is a result of the vote rigging as reported.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Yep Sankaran, they sure forgot to use the power of the gun barrel and the Emergency to rig every place in the North and East, other than Kayts, eh? Funny that…

  • niranjan

    How impartial is the LLRC?

  • jansee


    “The call for the de-militarization of the North must be seen in the correct, gradualistic perspective. The North is strategically vital for the security of the island. It has been the passage for invasions from across the waters over millennia. As such there can be no question of the withdrawal of the Sri Lankan military or even its downsizing and redeployment on anything other than strictly military criteria…”

    Well, let us look at this way, even for argument sake, India does one day invade militarily SL, what then – use the flottilas to stop their submarines or their warships, their squadron of airforce planes. Lest you have forgotten, when the parippu was dropped, violating SL airspace, all that could be done was just to watch. So, this talk of invasions or aggressions by you is only either imaginary or laughable.

    The gradual and/or cumulative build-up, based on the history of his years as President, MR has almost NIL credibility. This deficit, of his own making anyway, requires him to come clean rather than talking about a PSC which obviously and for valid reasons is seen as another of his tricks and delaying tactics. What was he doing for two years after the war? More or less, people not only know what is he up to, but also what his mind is – that is the crux of the problem. It has nothing to do with the Sinhalese majority nor anyone else, the stumbling block is MR and his brothers and with a “advisors” like you.

    • Off the Cuff


      It is true that if the Indian Govt decides to invade Sri Lanka, we would have a difficult time defending our shores. But as the IPKF found out to it’s costs, such an invasion would not be a push over as they would then be dealing with battle hardened forces that overcame the LTTE, which the IPKF failed to do.

      The real danger is not from the Central govt of India but from Tamil Nadu and it’s hysterical govt. VVT was a smugglers’ den even before the war. There was a time when the LTTE had free reign in moving between Lanka and Tamil Nadu. Terrorism in Lanka was spawned from TN. No Lankan Govt will ever let that happen again. That’s one reason why the Military presence in the North would not go away any time soon.

      • jansee


        The IPKF’s mission failed because of Premadasa’s demand that the Indian forces leave the island. While it cannot be denied that the IPKF received a bloodied nose, it certainly had no choice but to leave and when VP Singh became the premier, he decided to pull out.

        As for the Tamilnadu factor, on the supposedly invasion, without the Indian Central Govt (ICG), Tamilnadu would not move an inch. What it can do is to influence ICG politics as the politics in India has evolved to none holding the majority and had to depend on regional parties for support. As long as Congress holds the reins in the Centre, it will be safe to say that SL can have a cosy ride. However, if Congress falls, as it now appears imminent with the multitude of scandals, then it is almost certain that the SL regime would be hauled to answer war crimes. Now, that is the reality of Indian politics and not an aggression from Tamilnadu per se.

      • Off the Cuff
    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Jansee, “it has nothing to do with the sinhala majority?” C’mon, are you afraid to look at the public opinion polling data compiled by the CPA and the NPC?

      Why do you think CBK couldn’t push through her ‘union of regions’package? Why did the UNP burn CBK’s Aug 2000 draft (which proposal I publicly supported, while having opposed the earlier ‘package’)? Public opinion, lady.

      Here’s the thing: anything beyond 13A could be held by the courts to require a referendum. At a referendum it will be shot down, and what is more, the wording could be so configured that the entirety of 13A is shot down.

      Does anyone want to run that risk?

      So, my oft-repeated bottom line: Activating 13A is as good as its gonna get.

      13A: take it or leave it.

      • jansee


        13A, 13A plus or 13A plus plus are all terms brought up MR and BR. Of course, many of knew they were lying but when India, being the architect and since Mahinda wanted to start with that, the Tamils have to go along with it. The APRC proposals were significantly and dramatically changed by MR to be in line with the 13A. Tamils have been asking for a decent devolution since independence and almost every single Sinhala admin had lied to the Tamils. Now you come with this ego talk of take it or leave it. Is it because the Sinhalese are the majority. Even then when has the SL regime implemented the 13A in full. What about the referendum to join the east with the north? Well, we have a better idea now – a separate Eelam – then the dictates of the Sinhalese need not bother the Tamils anymore. A pipe dream you think. Just watch.

  • kadphises


    I agree with you about creeping secessionism. There will always be a temptation to secede while the N&E Tamils realise that by seceding they can secure for themselves a diproportionately large chunk of Sri Lankan land. (4 times as much land per capita as what the Sinhalese and Moslems will be left with). The way around this is to insist that the extent of land that receives federal devolution should be proportionate to the population that lives within it. I am sure that this will eliminite the apetite for secession among the Eelamists as they will realise they can no longer control the large stretch of land stretching from Manar to Panama. It will also necessarily mean there will be two devolved provinces. One in the North and another around Batticaloa in the East. Trinco will inevitably fall within the “Sinhala” province. Police powers should not be an issue as long as they wont become a threat to the Army. This too can be achieved by insiting on a lightly armed police force island wide. Only the most insecure countries in the world needs to arm their regular policemen with AK-47s. So why not transform the police force into a revolver carying force? A Colt .45 is good enough to apprehend a thief or a bootlegger with but not good enough to storm the Palalai or Karainagar bases.

    Two separate Tamil provinces with federal (fiscal, police and land) powers where they decide how to educate their children, aprehend their criminals, mete out justice that does not threaten the rights of the Sinhalese cannot be a threat to unitaryness. We will still be able to travel to these places without hindrance or requirements for visas and we will also be able to freely do cross border busincess. Apart from this I do not know what rights the Sinhalese need to have in these areas.

    Whatever the solution there needs to be complete equality and symetry of rights and entitlements between the two (or even three) communities so it can be acceptable to all but the supremacists and so any one community does not feel short changed.

    • Off the Cuff


      Agree with you completely about per capita distribution of Land but it should not be limited to land. It should encompass all natural resources and Publicly owned resources.

      A Province cannot make laws that transgress the Constitution. Hence meting out justice within a Province cannot encroach in to the rights of a citizen whatever ethnic group has control over governance.

      A non Tamil should not have any fear to live within a Tamil controlled Province and Vice versa. The Constitutional Right of a Tamil and that of a Non Tamil for lawful protection is identical within and without that province.

      As you point out, what has to be ensured is complete impartiality.

  • Sri

    One praiseworthy feature is that you always bring in international perspectives to local issues.

    Therefore It is justifiable for us to expect international standards on war crimes, human rights and humanitarian laws.

    A prerequisite for resolution of ethnic conflict is institutional reforms

    Do we have Good Governance, Rule of Law,Independent Judiciary or any independent institutions?

    Constitution is supposed to be the supreme law of the land.

    But how the Govt treats the provisions of the constitution.

    What had happened to the 17A until it was repealed by 18A?

    What about 13A?16A?

    Why these provisions are not implemented?

    There is one set of laws for the so called patriots?

    Could you as an academic –a political scientist please define Patriots and Traitors?

    Do anyone can have faith in LLRC, Talks with TNA or PSC?

    From the time of JR,Premadasa, Chandrica and Rajapakse political parties conferences and select committees are used for time buying exercises.

    Mahinda is better one during his first term and another during his second term.

    The country is rapidly moving towards failed state status.

    • yapa

      “One praiseworthy feature is that you always bring in international perspectives to local issues.

      Therefore It is justifiable for us to expect international standards on war crimes, human rights and humanitarian laws.”

      Think Globally, Act Locally.


    • Justitia

      Mahinda Rajapakse came to power on his promise to abolish the Executive Presidency – which he even gave in writing to the JVP.
      But soon after, when he tasted the unlimited power conferred by
      same, he forgot about it.
      He consolidated his power by poaching MPs from the opposition and with the resultant 2/3 majority, enabled the 18th amendment,and has set up a subserviant army,public service,and,judiciary+attorney general.
      He keeps the entire country under a military regime, especially the north and east. This is like the regime in Cuba where the armed forces sole function is to prevent citizens escaping from Cuba and enforce ‘army rule’. But even Castro now wants to usher in democracy.
      This is the reality.

      Now a Political Scientist is terrified of impending invasions by outside forces via the nothern ports and/or via trincomalee.

      Tamils of the northeast,only wish to live as absolute equals to all other citizens.
      They wish to get on with their lives and livelihoods without any restrictions.They wish to return to their homes, send their children to schools,worship and celebrate family events without army presence,
      travel without being suddenly arrested, without any reasons being given.They want all paramilitaries who are preying on them and terrorising them, disarmed.
      This is why they rejected the UPFA and voted for TNA.
      Is all this too much to ask for? If all this happens, they may even forget about federalism/autonomy etc.
      But why is the Emergency and PTA reimposed monthly by ‘resurrecting’ the LTTE in parliament? What purpose does this serve? How does this ensure democracy?

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        I didn’t know it was Mahinda Rajapaksa who had resurrected the Tiger flag in every Western capital, to the detriment of every other possible flag. Ain’t no TNA flags out there lady.

  • wijayapala

    Velu Balendran

    FYI Tamils don’t care two hoots for these personalities.

    Then whom do Tamils care about, even one hoot or half a hoot?

  • Sri

    Dr.Dayan, According to Dayan,”A recent issue of International Herald Tribune carried photographs and a story of US troops obtaining biometric data (‘eyeball printing’) of an enormous number of men of ‘fighting age’ in Afghanistan”.

    So What? What is the relevance? Does this means that because the US troops are doing something in Afghanistan, Sri Lankan troop also should do similar things?

    Don’t you know that the war in Afghanistan is still not over? The citizens of Afghanistan are not American citizens whereas the people of Northern Province are citizens of Sri Lanka. You mention Afghanistan just to impress about your caliber or to prove your political scientist credentials?

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Well maybe I should I have included that in my chat with Gen David Petraeus a few days back in Paris!

      My point is that so long as there is a perception of externally driven threat, the Sri Lankan state and its armed forces will use any and all preventive and pre-emptive security measures.

      Maybe we should install CCTV cameras everywhere, as in many western capitals? Or duplicate the measures in Kashmir or Turkey’s Kurdish areas?

      Would that make you happy?

    • Mahinda


      All your articles choke us with immense political philosophy.

      Please tell the President something about Good Governance.

      That will be of immense help to the country.

      • Justitia

        Dear Mahinda,
        Good Governance according to Mahinda Rajapkse will come about after another Parliamentary Select Committee, proposed by him,deliberates until the next presidential/parliamentary elections are due.
        The APRC proposals are now irrelavent.
        The LLRC meanwhile is due to render its verdict in november – this
        may not advice/suggest measures on ‘good governance’though many who appeared before it,have spoken on it.
        The Military Government in the nothern & eastern provinces will continue because tamils abroad wave ‘tiger flags’ – these guys may assemble an army and invade the sovereign republic from the north or east!
        Noone, not even MR has given this as a reason for the Military Regime in the north & east. Maybe, next month, the prime minister will mention it during his speech to justify the Emergency & PTA.
        But strangely,the Emergency & PTA are for all provinces – not only for the northeast, and will remain so,even though UPFA won a majority in the south.

  • Off the Cuff


    The IPKF mission had already failed before Premadasa asked India to quit. The point is, that India received a bloodied nose from the LTTE and would think twice before engaging on the ground, with Lankan Forces that eliminated the LTTE.

    The Tamil Nadu factor is what sustained the Terrorists through three decades and the smugglers before that. No Lankan Govt is going to take a chance on the smugglers rearming the Terrorist remnants in Lanka again.

    • jansee

      Off the Cuff:

      When Premier Indira Ghandi decided to arm and train the rebels on Indian soil, and particularly in Tamilnadu, there was nothing much SL could do. It is conceivable that if it is the SL rebels who take up arms, then they hardly have any chance against the SL army. This is where Prabhakaran made a huge mistake. If he had continued with his guerilla warfare as he did with the IPKF, then it would have been that easy to defeat him or may have taken very much longer to defeat him. But all this changes if INDIA decides to invade SL, as in then East Pakistan. In fact, a regime change in India may just push that possibility upwards.


      I have mentioned the logic of a separate Eelam a number of times before. Call it a sequel or by any other name, I would call it a struggle against a tyrannical and murderous regime. The Tamils may have been tortured, raped and murdered and even as you seem to enjoy this triumphalism, the spirit of the Tamil is not going to rest, you can be rest assured.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Jansee, many thanks. I am SO glad that you have openly stated your position: a separate Tamil Eelam.

    Er…haven’t we seen that movie before? And its ending? Is this supposed to be a sequel?

  • jansee


    Thank you for being so glad to know of my position. Was that supposed to be a classified information – after all I have known this view some time back and the reasons for holding such a view.

    Call it a sequel or even better a resurrection. Sinhalese racists like you enjoy the subjugation of the Tamils because of the numbers but despite all the odds they have faced the Tamils still didn’t fall for pumps, sarees, bicycles and sweet-talk. Indeed the spirit is still burning high in them. For all what he may have been and been called, Prabhakaran did not rape women nor cut their breasts off. In all his unwarranted actions, he still stands high when compared to the barbaric deeds of the SL regime and the soldiers. How one sees the brutal and bloody murder of more than 40,000 as compared with a few people he killed?

    Off the Cuff:

    How much of arm-twisting by India has gone into driving the SL regime to its senses. Didn’t Gotabaya acknowledge that the only country that may militarily make a difference is India? If a different Indian regime (not Congress) decides to settle this issue for good – then I doubt it would prefer to go it alone – it may go for the help of the local Tamils – as happened during the 1971 Bangladeshi war. May be you should ponder on such a possibility.

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Hey Jansee, thanks for coming all the way out of the closet and stating your moral preference for Prabhakaran over the democratically elected government of Sri Lanka, which recently held and lost elections in the North!

      As for Prabhakaran not killing babies, you obviously forget the Naiaru and Kokilai massacre, Arantalawa and many more.

      In any case, the Nazis didn’t firebomb Dresden, the Allies did. The Japanese militarists didn’t atom bomb US cities, the US did two Japanese ones. However, history stands with the Allies, not the fascists. Similarly, morality, ethics, history and the people, stand with the democratic state, not the fascist Tigers, notwithstanding any other factors.