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The proposal (decision?) made by President Mahinda Rajapaksa to repeal the Emergency Regulations (ER) was a hopeful one. It was a significant proposal (decision?) which marked a significant moment in Sri Lanka’s post-war history. One’s heart swelled with joy; the rain had ceased, it was bright and sunny, there was a rainbow somewhere in the distance too.

But then, the real news strikes you: there is what is known as ‘The Emergency Consequential Provisional Bill’ which is to be presented to Parliament soon. Until then, new regulations have been introduced to the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) to legalize the continuation, for instance, of the High Security Zones (HSZ). The ER was repealed, but there were provisions which couldn’t be repealed too. So, the proposal (decision?) not to extend the ER was, in the end, not so problematic, not so praiseworthy, for there was a rush, unknown to many, to re-introduce some of those provisions which were repealed. In short then, what was told in Parliament was not entirely accurate: perhaps, greater honesty would have earned more applause. A question: Have the ER been repealed? An answer: ‘Yes-No’.

There are, of course, other questions too.

One question that had to be asked (and the JVP did ask that question) was how the Prime Minister, as well as the Government, thought a couple of weeks ago that there were credible reasons to believe that the extension of the ER was indeed necessary. The JVP might have missed it, but the Defence Secretary provided an answer to that question when addressing some representatives from the Muslim community regarding the ‘Grease Devil’ saga: If the President wants to extend emergency he can do it anytime, anyway, and there was no need to create a ‘Grease Devil’.

External pressure
But there is that other question we need to ask too: why, really, did the Government decide to ‘repeal’ (the word now comes within inverted commas) the ER so suddenly, so hastily, if other legislative instruments were being drafted to reintroduce provisions which had to be retained? Why this rush? Was it due to the pressure exerted by India? Was it also due to the forthcoming sessions at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva? The answer is somewhat clear.

This, of course, brings one to a rather serious issue, a rather serious question: Should there be some measure of external pressure exerted on the Government to ensure that some progress is made on issues pertaining to human rights protection, accountability, and so on? Considering the manner in which things have been progressing for quite some time now, ever since the end of the armed conflict in May 2009, this Government seems to be, unwittingly, unfortunately, giving us a clear answer.

There is a fine balance that needs to be struck here, which is easier said than done. There are no clear answers, no textbooks, manuals or guidelines, concerning the kind, form or nature of pressure that needs to be exerted in the realm of politics. In broad terms, though, it needs to be acknowledged that there will always be a certain degree of pressure exerted when a Government does not act and act swiftly regarding matters on which swift action can and should be taken. And interestingly (even ironically) it is the Government which proves that pressure was indeed necessary (and is necessary): for one observes the Government doing that which it would not have done had it not been for external pressure. There are many such examples: from the establishment of the LLRC to the release of the report titled ‘Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis’ and now the ‘repeal’ of the ER. The question that all responsible citizens should ask themselves here is: why did the Government have to wait until pressure was brought upon it to do the things it did? Couldn’t the Government have done all this before the sanctimonious West, for instance, told us what to do?

Here, without digressing too much, it needs to be pointed out that while one critiques the ‘West’ as one should, as regards some of its horrendous policies and practices, one should not only appreciate that which should be appreciated of the ‘West’, but also be able to critique the ‘Rest’ when and where necessary. The inability to do this has been one of the greatest weaknesses of Sri Lankan leaders and some of its policy makers. The problem of being attached to this or that camp – ‘West’, ‘Rest’, ‘Third World’, ‘Communist’, etc, etc – is that one turns out to be a ‘puppet’ of any one of them: one does not only become a puppet of the West, but can easily be a puppet of any other block of States too. As Judge CG Weeramantry so correctly pointed out way back in 1976, when writing about equality and freedom concerning the Third World:

“Western World, Communist World, and Third World, each with its most grievous shortcomings in this area, tend, all too often, to see the mote in the other’s eye rather than the beam in their own. The result has been a plethora of emotionally charged outpourings from all sides and at the highest levels. These have tended to obscure rather than clarify the issues involved, at a time when the underlying problems demand attention more urgently than ever before.” [CG Weeramantry, Equality and Freedom: Some Third World Perspectives, 1976, p. vii]

All this brings us, then, to another important issue: can we, without being so emotionally charged up, appreciate the problems confronting us and resolve them, being mindful of our responsibility (first and foremost) as a member of the community of States belonging to the UN? The Government, today, seems to imagine at most times that the survival of the State is at stake if it were to meet some of the demands made by other States concerning human rights protection and accountability, etc.

It sees Egypt, Syria and then Libya, and is shaken, shaken to the core. And when it is unable to take bold and principled decisions, fear sets in. It develops fear, unreasonable fear, about all things and concepts, such as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) for instance. That there are serious questions concerning the real intentions of some of those who were involved in developing the concept is undoubtedly a serious concern, as well as the fact that attempts are being made by certain elements to misinterpret its purpose, its objectives. Yet, the more critical issue today for Sri Lanka and its politicians – in this post-war phase, in the absence of armed violence – is whether we are able to appreciate the positives of the concept which is gaining immense popularity [that R2P is a serious concept is easily realized today when considering the fact that even basic textbooks on international law now dedicate a separate chapter to the topic: see, for example, the third edition of Malcolm Evans (ed.), International Law (Oxford University Press, 2010, and Chapter 17 by Spencer Zifcak therein)]. How can we act responsibly, for instance, by acknowledging R2P as a ‘means of broadening the scope of international obligations than merely as a vehicle for intervention’?

Armed intervention and armed training
When a government cannot appreciate this, external pressure, all of a sudden, threatens the regime: too much for the stomach, too much to stomach, too much. It begins to see most and many out there, beyond our shores, as elements ready and willing to intervene, not just diplomatically, not just politically, but militarily too. It begins to see power slipping away, and the safest thing to hang on to becomes the weapon. There is then a call for vigilance and to be armed too: be vigilant, be armed, be ready. Things will not be bloodless. The worst-case scenario is not far away.

One is suddenly struck and disturbed by the more alarming and even horrifying passages in contemporary interventions in the press! One wonders: is it time to be armed, ready to shoot, if necessary?

One such passage, in an otherwise excellent analysis, comes to us from Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka. It reads as follows:

“Our deterrent capacity cannot depend upon a vastly expanded army of almost half a million, as a former commander mistakenly called for, because the economic costs would sink the country. Nor should anyone envisage compulsory national service in the form of a draft because the USA itself learnt to its bitter social cost that the best army is an all-volunteer army. However, a recent successful experiment has been conducted in Sri Lanka with the armed forces’ support, for an orientation course of university entrants. In preparation for a worst case scenario, that model could be expanded to provide a huge youth/student populace, including women, trained in the use of weapons, and which could make any invader, secessionist or irredentist puppet regime (and its ‘rebel army’) bleed from death by a thousand cuts. As Fidel Castro once said when Cuba was under threat of intervention, “we shall arm even the cats!” (Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka, ‘Libyan lessons for Lanka’, The Island, 31 August, 2011).

Before getting to the issue of arming the ‘cats’, the question that springs to mind initially (springs like a cat) is this: is the cat out of the bag?

To be sure, if one reads the article carefully, the author clearly argues (and this point has always been appreciated) that intervention is to be avoided through the creation of modern democracy (not ethnocracy). The author has been an advocate of the implementation of the 13th Amendment, and has been, in that respect, almost a lone voice within the Government at a time when no one would dream of talking about the 13th Amendment.

But the author also argues clearly that the inability to build or rebuild ‘regional and neighbourhood solidarity’ will result in the opening up of space for intervention for which the youth should be trained in the use of weapons so that the enemy can be made to ‘bleed from death by a thousand cuts’.

One broad question that arises is whether this – this issue about training the youth – was actually an ulterior motive of the Government’s plan to give ‘leadership training’ to those selected to University. The Government argued that it has no such intentions. But then, if the above author is to claim that the ‘recent successful experiment’ could be expanded in a way that encapsulates an element of armed training, the question that we are made to mull over today is: how much more seriously would the Government have considered that option? Isn’t it considering that option, already, and if so, what of the future of the programme? Wouldn’t the Government be willing to accept the above suggestion?

The other question is: is the Sri Lankan situation so bad as to make one argue that the ‘worst-case’ scenario is to be expected? If it’s not the case, then why this serious suggestion re. the need to train the youth?

Thirdly, and more pointedly, what if the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment in the North, for instance, results in some form of external/military intervention?

The reason why this latter question in particular is raised is because it has been argued by others that if the 13th Amendment is implemented, then, there could be a bloodbath. I am referring here to the views of Malinda Seneviratne, who wrote in June this year:

“India has aspirations. India has problems… If they are planning to prey on Mahinda Rajapaksa’s anxieties and Mahinda Rajapaksa thinks that Manmohan Singh is his friend-in-need and dumps his constituency, the constituency can very well think along the following lines: ‘All this war-crimes stuff is rubbish, we know this. Mahinda should know that those who benefit from these moves will not thank him with a single vote anyway. He is free to choose his friends, but he cannot expect us to fall in love with the enemies of our country. If he wants to hang himself, fine. He cannot hang us.’ The last time India ‘helped’, we lost 60,000 people… This time around if this dhal-without-dhal deal goes through, it will not be bloodless either.” (Malinda Seneviratne, ‘How many cauldrons of blood for a fistful of dhal, bhaiya?’, Sunday Lakbima News, June 2011)

The case Malinda Seneviratne is making here is very clear: the full implementation of the 13th Amendment for instance would lead to another bloodbath, for the 13th Amendment will, according to the opinion of the writer, ‘legitimate the lines of the Eelam map’. According to this view, one believes that violence would be directed on the Indian Forces.

If then, the point that Dr. Jayatilleka might need to clarify is this: Would Dr. Jayatilleka be able to critique the Government if armed intervention takes place due to the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment (in other words, due to the inability of the Government to do what Dr. Jayatilleka has been advocating for quite a long time)? Where does the Government stand: closer to Seneviratne? Closer to Jayatilleka? Neatly in the middle? But isn’t the distance between Seneviratne and Jayatilleka, in an odd little way, close too, closer than we think?

Dr. Jayatilleka writes, however:

“The most durable defence against interventionism is by simultaneously changing our ‘target profile’ and ‘target hardening’. This can be done only by repairing our internal fragility; removing the discontent and disaffection of the minority at our strategically sensitive Northern periphery.”

Yet, it is not clear whether the inability to do the above (‘removing the discontent and disaffection of the minority’) would still justify the rush to argue that training of the youth may be necessary. There would be many who would undoubtedly be willing and ready to confront armed intervention with the use of armed force, and I do not think there is a need to train the youth in this regard. But is Dr. Jayatilleka suggesting that the youth should take part in this (hitherto hypothetical) confrontation irrespective of the inability or unwillingness of the Government to implement the 13th Amendment for instance?

From the above, a very strange, curious and dangerous message seems to be emanating: Be Ready! Should Sri Lanka then get ready to counter armed intervention? Should her youth be ready too, be ready with arms? All this talk of getting ready for the ‘worst-case’ scenario, of killing and injuring if Constitutional provisions are implemented, sounds amusing. But they are not meant to be so, and that’s what one should realize sooner, rather than later. They have the effect of driving in unnecessary fear into the minds of the youth, and that is a very dangerous thing to do.

External pressure, if stretched beyond a point, could certainly end up in violence. That considerable pressure is brought to bear upon the Government by numerous external forces should not be forgotten too. But then, is Sri Lanka – are we – so helpless, so hopeless, to be thinking about armed intervention so soon after the end of the armed conflict in 2009? Should we be frightened to read (in the articles written by numerous international writers) ‘Sri Lanka’ and ‘Libya’ in a single paragraph? What has led to so much pressure in the first place?

I do not think that there is a threat of any armed intervention, especially when it did not come during the last stages of the war. It is this belief that makes one seriously question whether all this talk about the need to train university students how to confront intervention with the use of arms is a tad too serious given the post-war context we are in right now.

The situation, so soon after the war in May 2009, cannot get more hopeless than this; if, as they say, we are to think seriously about the worst-case scenario too. How sad, how sorry.

It is dangerous, but suddenly, dream-like too. In that state, in that dream-like state, our student reaches out screaming, gasping: Mother Lanka! What would Mother Lanka, observing all this from somewhere, say: How stupid, child, to be dreaming about armed intervention? How sad and frightened you look? Now go back to sleep, it’s a dream my child! Is she correct, this Mother Lanka? Or is Mother Lanka, unknown to the student (stupid little child), armed too, armed to the teeth, getting ready to arm the student even before s/he enters the classroom?

  • Ravana

    Oops! Looks like “the cat’s out of the bag”. Hik Hik.

  • Dessert Fox

    Very Impressive post by Kalana (May I call him ‘Hony.Weeramanthree’s Side Kick?) Kalana has done all of us a favour once more by helping us identify the devil in disguise: you know who

    At this point, it remind me of an appropriate fable by Aesop. Let me share it for the benefit of all.

    The Ass in the Lion’s Skin

    An Ass, having put on the Lion’s skin, roamed about in the forest and amused himself by frightening all the foolish animals he met in his wanderings. At last coming upon a Fox, he tried to frighten him too, but the Fox no sooner heard the sound of his voice than he exclaimed, “I might possibly have been frightened myself, if I had not heard your bray.”

    The Moral: You cant change your Character as easily as your coat

    The Ass played by…. (Ahh we all know who )

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Hi Kalana,

    To answer your very interesting points, especially those posed to me or emanating from my own ‘intervention’ in the discussion:

    1. ‘External scrutiny’ is different from ‘external pressure’ which in turn is different from ‘external intervention’. I have no problem with the first, and even think it helpful.

    As for the second, there is pressure exerted behind the scenes and there are deadlines verging on threats made in public; just as there is pressure from those who helped us in the war and from those who did not. I have little problem in benign, constructive, behind the scenes pressure from those who helped us in the war. I reject deadlines and coercive pressures especially from those who were not our allies.

    2. The problem is not R2P as such, but its infinite elasticisation, and one must recognise that dangerous phenomenon. This has been criticised in the case of Libya, by the BRICS. South Africa for instance sperheads the African Union refusal to recognise the new regime, at least for now. This has nothing to do with Sri Lanka.

    3. If external military intervention takes place because of, or on the pretext of the non-implementation of the 13th amendment, I would think that a cricitism of the state/government is certainly warranted, but resistance to external intervention is morally, historically and politically necessary. Even in colonial times, the sins of omission and commission of rulers and societies permitted or were utilised for external intervention and occupation. This did not mean that occupation should not be resisted. Nor does it mean that the domestic weaknesses should be placed on the same footing as the external intervention/annexation/oppression. It does certainly mean that rectification of domestic backwardness must be part of the programmne and project of national resistance to external threat, while the external threat remains the ‘primary contradiction’and the domestic drawbacks the ‘secondary’ one. To concretise: I reject Noriega but denounce the invasion of Panama, and likewise reject Milosevic but believe that the Serbs should have drawn NATO in on the ground and fought on in Kosovo. The Sinhala chauvinists ( such as Malinda Seneviratne, whom you mention) are OPPOSED to devolution. I am, on the contrary, decidedly FOR it, and would fold it into and fuse it with a resistance strategy (as the May 2009 UN HRC Resolution shows), BUT when push comes to shove, I regard the resistance against imperialism and hegemonistic intervention, and for national sovereignty, territorial integrity and unity as more important. Devolution, still less the implementation of the 13th amendment, should not be the yardstick of or sine qua non for the defence of sovereignty.

    4. This does not mean that sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity ( which I regard in a universalist sense, not in an ethnocentric one) are the highest values. On the contrary, human values are higher. Thus, the (only) circumstance in which I would be less critical of external intervention, is not if it takes place due to the failure to implement the 13th amendment, but if it takes place due to or in the wake of a July ’83 — and here again, not as a manufactured or embellished Kosovo type crisis, but a Bosnia scenario. In short if it accurately fits the World Leaders Summit 2005 critieria for R2P, including Security Council endorsement.

    5. You seem to question whether a threat perception of external intervention is warranted as even a worst case scenario. In today’s world in which (i) new states are carved out by dismembering existing ones (Kosovo to South Sudan) and (ii) de-stabilisation and military intervention are rife, I believe it is prudent not to rule out such a threat to Sri Lanka, especially when so much threatening rhetoric abounds from across the waters and from ex-colonial powers. I have, as you note, always held that assertive, enlightened diplomacy should be our frontline of defence (and I have demonstrated its efficacy in Geneva in May 2009), and that the alienation of the Tamils should be addressed through devolution, BUT I would not advocate placing all our eggs in that basket. That would be sinning against Realism, a perspective going back to Thucydides! Take countries which have had far more modernist and ideologically enlightened leaderships than we have: in the final analysis, be it Cuba or Vietnam, any country, any people, any society, need the resolve and the capacity for resistance, including by what Marx called ‘the critique by arms’. The material aspect of resistance is the will and capacity for protracted patriotic peoples war.

    PS: I thought I had made all this clear almost a year ago in my reviews of the movies ‘Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame’ and ‘Robin Hood’ ( directed by Ridley Scott, with Russell Crowe in the leading role)…:))

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Kalana, positing a ‘closer distance than one thinks’ between me and Mr Seneviratne, sympathiser of the JHU and/or NFF, would be as accurate as saying the same thing about the positions of Tito and Milosevic or Ho Chi Minh and Pol Pot!

    • veedhur


    • justitia

      Dear Ward,
      The link you show is useful.
      The Buddha’s teachings are well explained by ambassader Dayan Jyatilleke.
      But little is known about the Buddha’s teachings on the duties of a soldier, the army etc – he explains why a soldier should kill in battle.
      These are well explined by former Brigadier Ananda Weerasekera, of the SLArmy, who is now a buddhist monk.
      These are very revealing and not found elsewhere.
      The west should learn this too.

    • Al Neri


      Don’t you think its not very appropriate to view Malinda in such black and white terms. Also hard to think a guy of his caliber (Harvard,Cornell) mixing up with the 3rd rate crowd in the NFF. Also let those who castigate Malinda as a chauvinist compare his writings with those of JS Thissainayam et al circa 2002-2003 (Sunday Leader archives) and arrive at conclusion of who the real racists and fundamentalists are. Certainly Malinda’s views are unpalatable to some,but hardly deserves to be called chauvinistic

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Dear Al Neri,

        If the company Malinda Seneviratne keeps is difficult to comprehend given his academic background, that’s his problem, not mine, and you should pose the query to him. What I do know is that he once contested Jaffna on the Sihala Urumaya ticket, and just a week or two back was billed with Gunadasa Amarasekara et al at the launch of an ultranationalist website, which stated among other things, that Ministers and Diplomats who advocate or have advocated the 13th amendment should be removed! The fact that Tissanaiyagam was/is/became a Tamil ultranationalist does not mean that Malinda is not a Sinhala (or is it Sihala?) Buddhist ultranationalist. The former does not contradict the latter. What has the former fact to do with the latter classification?

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Hi again Al,

        Continuing to denounce Vijaya Kumaratunga years after his death, Malinda also wrote many a paen of praise for Champika Ranawake, in which he made clear that the said gentleman was his very favourite Sri Lankan politician. That helps him qualify as a Sinhala chauvinist, in my book.

  • justitia

    It is a mystery as to from where is this “armed intervention” will come from.
    Will Kalana Senaratne and Dayan Jayatilleke tell us.
    Certainly not from India.
    Not from UN/NATO – like in Libya.
    Before thinking of such “armed intervention” from outside,should we not think about ‘armed intervention’ on unarmed citizens by the state’s Armed Forces.
    State Terror is being unleashed on citizens who are reacting/retaliating to so-called ‘grease devils’.
    This is happening in many areas,not only in the north.

    • Ward

      State terror(structural violence) has been there for more thn 63 yrs.

      Do we yet have International law on internal colonialism(oppression of a section of citizenry by the State)?

    • Ward

      Thank you.
      Hope you’ve seen this:

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka


      Not “will come from”, but ” may/could/might/possibly” come from.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    As for Kalana’s Postscript, it would rather depend on whether Mother Lanka were like Vihara Devi, and the child, like Gemunu or Puran Appu…or Ravana…or Ranil, in which case/s the dialogue would go differently, right?

  • georgethebushpig

    Someone needs to take a chill pill. The last thing we need right now is a bunch of skinny Sri Lankan kids running around with red bandanas around their neck and wooden guns shouting Patria o Muerte! Venceremos!

    • billy
    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      George, George, George, a (large) bunch of (once) skinny Sri Lankan kids, went deep into enemy territory and obliterated one of the biggest, best organised and fiercest irregular armies in the world.

      Skinny Sri Lankan kids also rocked their own Establishment to the very foundations, twice…until another bunch of similarly skinny Sri Lankan kids in uniform took them down.

      Moral of the story: don’t underestimate Skinny Sri Lankan kids…and imagine a (patria o muerte) struggle which unites the ones in uniform with the ones in red, green and blue bandanas.

      PS: Er…who said anything about WOODEN guns?

      • georgethebushpig

        The war is over; it’s time to build the peace. Stop beating the drums over some hypothetical invasion. Kalana is right… and I would add that there is equal probability of an alien invasion from Mars… we are not preparing for that now are we?

        What we should be talking about is demilitarization and channeling the peace dividend to more productive uses. Our children have suffered enough because of the madness of incompetent leaders; please don’t subject them to further madness. You maybe gung ho to send your kids to military training but certainly not I, Sir!

        And for what purpose? In defense of national sovereignty? Phuleez, more like in defense of the corrupt family corporation that is using the state as a vehicle for self aggrandizement.

        You are beginning to sounds more and more like those nutcase Neo-Conservatives in the USA. Take a pill dude!

  • Kalana Senaratne

    Dr. Jayatilleka,

    Many thanks. Much appreciated.

    My main concern has been re. Point 5. You now write the following about the worst-case scenario: “…I believe it is prudent not to rule out such a threat to Sri Lanka…” (i.e. the threat of armed intervention, given the kind of dismemberment/de-stabilization and military intervention that takes place in the world).

    Now, one can certainly be ‘prudent’ and ‘not rule out such a threat’, but here’s my simple question: does being ‘prudent’ amount to thinking about giving military training to a ‘huge student/youth populace, including women’? Is it really a case of being ‘prudent’ or a case of being somewhat ‘imprudent’? – given the fact that Sri Lanka is not in (and has indeed escaped) that ‘Jan-May 2009’ historical phase? Isn’t the kind of measure you are suggesting gravely disproportionate to the kind of threat we are facing?

    One understands, of course, the kind of pressure exerted concerning ‘accountability’. But do you really think that the West (led by the US), for instance, would intervene militarily just because Sri Lanka does not hold an internal inquiry? I don’t think so. Why? Not because the West would simply forgive and forget, but simply because the issue of accountability is tackled in many other ways: 1) through their (mostly European) domestic courts via the issuance of arrest warrants (based on ‘universal jurisdiction’); 2) through a referral to the ICC by the UNSC (since we are on the topic of ‘worst-case’ scenarios, lets imagine for a moment that Russia/China abstained from voting), etc.

    So, where then is the threat of armed intervention? One may cite this deadline/ultimatum issued by the US as evidence of some serious threat: but threat of what? Armed intervention in March?

    No, I guess there is something more serious here, which brings me to my final question (perhaps not raised clearly in the article): is this talk about an armed intervention, really, a manifestation of some deeper fear that not much progress will be made re ‘accountability’ or ‘devolution’ in Sri Lanka? In other words, is it already clear to some that many of Sri Lanka’s ‘friends’ in the UNHRC do not believe in Sri Lanka’s case? (and if they believe as they did in May 2009, why worry, one may ask) In other words, are we about to witness ‘Genevagate’? In other words, is Sri Lanka tottering, tottering and about to fall?

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Dear Kalana,

      Having criticized GoSL for failing to appreciate the positives and popularity (or the popularity of the positives) of R2P, you wrote that “Thirdly, and more pointedly, what if the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment in the North, for instance, results in some form of external/military intervention?”

      You went on to raise a question: “If then, the point that Dr. Jayatilleka might need to clarify is this: Would Dr. Jayatilleka be able to critique the Government if armed intervention takes place due to the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment (in other words, due to the inability of the Government to do what Dr. Jayatilleka has been advocating for quite a long time)?”

      Kalana, surely you know (there are chapters dedicated to it in textbooks) that R2P is deemed to kick in certain specific situations, involving genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing i.e., mass atrocities and the unwillingness or inability of the state to protect its citizens from them. R2P simply does not kick in when a state fails to implement domestic reforms such as devolution, the 13th amendment etc! Therefore, however uncritical a votary one may be of R2P, any intervention that takes place because or utilizing the non-implementation of the 13th amendment, cannot be defended on the basis of ‘the positives’ of R2P. It would either have to be outside and irrespective of R2P or under cover of an unrecognizable elasticisation of it.

      Therefore I would be under no moral or political obligation to support it; nor would anyone else. Indeed we must all oppose and resist such incursion. This is also why I have introduced as a caveat, the one scenario in which a criticism of external intervention WOULD NOT occupy the moral high ground, i.e. an actual (not media hyped) July ’83 type situation, which is arguably an R2P case.

      The core issues on which you and I seem to disagree are national (and popular) sovereignty and the right of resistance including most importantly, national resistance.

      As a small island state with i) a long history of incursions and colonial occupation, ii) located in a dangerous neighborhood (even columnists critical of GoSL have noted the assertiveness of Western statements on Sri Lanka and the militancy of the anti-SL sentiment in Tamil Nadu) iii) living in a dangerous period of history in which new states are being carved out an external military intervention is frequent and iv) subject to deadlines and threats by ex-colonial powers and their powerful allies, Sri Lanka must be alert and prepared. No state or nation can rely PURELY on diplomacy, but must supplement this with the capacity for deterrence and if that fails, for credible resistance which will make aggression and occupation far too expensive. That is not paranoia, it is Realism, as you will see in a far greater number of textbooks than those mentioning R2P!

      While I reiterate my opposition to mandatory military service, I must also point out that advanced societies with far less manifest a threat against them than Sri Lanka, do have such service. Singapore for instance has three years of mandatory military service! The new model of orientation provided to university students by the Sri Lankan state, provides a possible middle path.

      You raise your eyebrows at the thought (and the argument) that Sri Lanka could possibly face a threat of external intervention now, two years after the war, when it avoided such a danger in 2009. That is as logical as saying that France, Russia, China, Vietnam, Cuba or Nicaragua could not possibly have faced a greater threat of external intervention AFTER their revolutions than they did during them…which we know was the opposite of what actually happened in history.

      I am afraid that I have to indulge in the sin of self-quotation and refer you to my article in the immediate aftermath of the diplomatic victory of May 2009 in Geneva; a victory which Sri Lanka’s enemies have been trying to reverse since. The VERY FIRST sentence of my June 1st 2009 piece on Groundviews (‘Battleground Geneva: the Special session’), and in The Island (‘With a little Help from my Friends’) was:

      “Was Geneva the last battle of the Thirty Years (hot) war, the first battle of the next war – a global Cold War against Sri Lanka — or was it a combination? Only future history will tell.”

      Kalana, you query pertinently as to whether we are headed for a Genevagate? We might well have been, but not anymore, with the appointment by President Rajapaksa of Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam, with whom, by the way, I have a complete correlation of perspectives on world politics and Sri Lankan sovereignty. This is no guarantee of victory, but I can assure that (if she is not hamstrung, sabotaged) there will be a resolute struggle with every chance of victory for the principle of sovereignty.

  • Kalana Senaratne

    Dear Dr. Jayatilleka (re. post on 3 Sep, 1.45 pm)

    The point about what gives rise a classic R2P case is pretty basic, and I never argued that non-implementation of the 13th Amendment would/should amount to an R2P case scenario (and here may I just mention that I do note your CAVEAT about the July ’83 type situation, but I also note a CAVEAT within a CAVEAT too when you make that distinction between ‘actual’ and ‘media hyped’ situations!). Furthermore, I do understand the point about being prudent and so on regarding the threats Sri Lanka is facing (and of course about learning lessons from world history). And I never dismissed the idea about military intervention as rubbish.

    But, to return to the basic issue here: my questions were not related to R2P. I wouldn’t even think they were specifically related to the core issue of disagreement you have identified, because given past debates on this broader topic of sovereignty, I think I (like many others) know what your position is about national sovereignty and the right to resistance.

    Rather, my questions were linked to this most (to my mind) astounding argument you made, i.e. that it is perhaps time to think about possible military training for the youth and women.

    First I thought you were just being a bit overzealous when you proposed that. But now, with your latest comment, I believe you are seriously advocating some form of mandatory military service; and you have begun to make the case, by quoting Singapore too. You say you are opposed to it, but is that so? What’s worse is (or have I misunderstood?): you now seem to think that that could be a ‘possible middle path’. A possible ‘middle path’? Seriously? This is pretty disturbing stuff.

    Does your suggestion reflect the policy of the Government? If it does not already, one is justified in feeling that it surely would, in the near future. I think now there’s a greater need to revisit and critically question the Government’s true intentions of providing ‘leadership training’ to university students (because it’s never too late as the programme is supposed to continue). When one saw the manner in which girls and boys were neatly lined up and were made to jog early morning inside the army camps (left, right, left, right…), one knew that this couldn’t be very simply to inculcate in the minds of the youth the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, of keeping fit, of exercises and so forth; one sensed that there was something more to this business of jogging, something ‘militaristic’, something ‘Guevarist’ too!
    In conclusion, I would very simply state my position: I am opposed to any form of military training, anytime in the future, and especially in the near future. The youth and women should not be dragged into training in the use of arms simply because their Government feels threatened by military intervention. And I simply fail to understand how military training would provide a possible ‘middle path’ especially if that is a political path you wish the progressive youth to adopt in this post-war phase of Sri Lankan history. There are far more important issues to think about at this moment rather than intervention. What we also need to remember is that even if one defeats this hypothetical interventionist and chases it out, we will return to the same place we are in, today. And because we are bound to come back to a post-revolution phase (like this post-war phase we are in right now), one hopes that one’s energies are better directed at putting this house in order. Otherwise we will, very soon, be left with two things only: military interventions and guns in the backyard.

    • Kalana Senaratne

      Correction: it should be ‘post-intervention’ phase (not ‘post-revolution’)…

  • ama

    I am a Sri Lankan of Tamil decent. Tamils were heavily targeted by the LTTE in the 1980’s when LTTE did not get their support. LTTE finally got their support after LTTE managed to inflame communal riots in 1983 leading to a mass exodus of Tamils out of Sri Lanka. LTTE took part in relocating these Tamils in key positions in western countries. It was not until Rajapkasa administration a proper war to eliminate was carried out. LTTE use of peasant Tamils who could not leave Sri Lanka as Human shields against Sri Lankan army was openly advocated by the diaspora. If not for the Sri Lanka army, my in-laws would be dead, my nephews would be dead, and at least another 300 indirect relatives would be dead. LTTE even used Tamil boys age 8 to carry remote detonated bombs during the war. God ridden Velupillai is dead; I am sad who could not suffer the suffering inflicted on at least 90,000 Sri Lankans. At worst LTTE front line soldiers may have been killed or executed. LTTE did the same too.

    • Neville Perera

      ”LTTE finally got their support after LTTE managed to inflame communal riots in 1983”

      This has been said several times here – most of the time by people who say ”I’m a Tamil”. Those who don’t know what Cyril Matthew was doing in 1981/2/3 only say so. In June/July 1983 he was preparing voters’ list and booking government dept vehicles, buying cans and tubing, etc. All these were even in the newspapers.

      J.R.Jayawardene, Former President of Sri Lanka interviewed by Ian Ward, Daily Telegraph, 11th July 1983: “I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people… now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion… the more you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be here… Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be happy.”

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Dear Kalana,

    1. In your latest rebuttal you write:

    “The point about what gives rise a classic R2P case is pretty basic, and I never argued that non-implementation of the 13th Amendment would/should amount to an R2P case scenario…”

    However, this leaves me at something of a loss to understand that which you had written in your opening article:

    “Thirdly, and more pointedly, what if the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment in the North, for instance, results in some form of external/military intervention?…the point that Dr. Jayatilleka might need to clarify is this: Would Dr. Jayatilleka be able to critique the Government if armed intervention takes place due to the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment (in other words, due to the inability of the Government to do what Dr. Jayatilleka has been advocating for quite a long time)?”

    There seems to be a confusion or contradiction between this opening position and the current one.

    2. You note my “CAVEAT about the July ’83 type situation, but also note a CAVEAT within a CAVEAT too” in my “distinction between ‘actual’ and ‘media hyped’ situations!”. Yes, but what’s the problem there? I have already illustrated my point in my first response, namely the difference between Bosnia and Kosovo. Many scholars, from Chomsky to Tveztan Todorov have de-constructed Kosovo as , to put it colloquially, a set-up. For clarity I would give yet another example. Gulf war 1 was legitimate, because of the ACTUAL invasion of Kuwait by Iraq; Gulf war 2 was not, because WMD was ‘media hyped’.

    3. You write: “But now, with your latest comment, I believe you are seriously advocating some form of mandatory military service; and you have begun to make the case, by quoting Singapore too. You say you are opposed to it, but is that so? What’s worse is (or have I misunderstood?): you now seem to think that that could be a ‘possible middle path’. A possible ‘middle path’? Seriously? This is pretty disturbing stuff.”

    Kalana, in my original article to which you responded I clearly wrote: “Nor should anyone envisage compulsory national service in the form of a draft because the USA itself learnt to its bitter social cost that the best army is an all-volunteer army.” In my response to you I mentioned Singapore’s mandatory three year military training to rebut the charge that such preparation was the product of paranoia( it is difficult to think of a more coldly trational policy process than Singapore’s).

    Here too I had re-stated my oppsition to mandatory national service, thus: “While I reiterate my opposition to mandatory military service, I must also point out that advanced societies with far less manifest a threat against them than Sri Lanka, do have such service. Singapore for instance has three years of mandatory military service!”

    4. A middle path is always possible and must be searched for, surely. An interesting eye-witness essay on Groundviews by Harini Weerasekara, who was a participant in the new programme, provides a very different evaluation from your nightmarish vision of it. My parents’ generation grew up with Cadet and Ranger Corps, with training on .22 rifles, which were scrapped for the most part by the SLFP administration of Mrs Bandaranaike after 1971 ( though there were no rebels from the schools that had such training!). I propose that this be re-introduced and expanded as a possible ‘middle path’ in the matter of national defence. The expansion of the SLA’s Volunteer Corps, and the US National Guard provide other models.

    5. You say “There are far more important issues to think about at this moment rather than intervention.”

    Such as? And why do you consider these as antinomies? Why ‘either/or’, rather than ‘and/and’? If you look around you you will see that China,Vietnam and the successfiul states of East Asia give equal priority to economic development, social and educational advance and national defence.

    You proceed to say “What we also need to remember is that even if one defeats this hypothetical interventionist and chases it out, we will return to the same place we are in, today.”

    So where does that leave us, hypothetically, in the event of a hypothetical intervention? Do not resist? Resist hypothetically? For my part I would suggest the examples of Fidel, Tito, Mao, Ho Chi Minh et al. Uncle Ho said ” Nothing is more precious than Independence and freedom”, adding poetically that “today the grasshopper fights the elephant/tomorrow the elephant will be disembowelled” ( a line I quoted in Geneva, by the way). The patriotic resistance has to be on the basis of an enlightened, progressive, modern, moderate, multiethnic, social-democratic programme — which is the essential difference between my stance and that of the ethno-religious tribalism of Malinda S et al.

    Finally, I fail to see the contradiction between an enlightened policy of reforms and modernisation (including autonomy/devolution/13th amendment) making for inclusionary and equal citizenship and preparation for deterring any external intervention by enhanced capacity for national defence and resistance. Some of the most rational states and leading personalities I can think of, combine these two aspects.

    • Ravana

      You once said I am a naughty man. I guess that makes two of us! Hik Hik. 😉

      BTW, good response to the closet chauvinist Al Neri. I guess, as long as there are guys like that I appreciate guys like you. Keep up the good work. I will enjoy watching TV… and surfing the Net. As far as “stepping up to the plate” goes. Just leave it for us (yes, we who are amused) to choose the time … and the place.

      • Al Neri

        Dear Ravana

        Can you please elaborate on what makes me a closet chauvinist ???

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Georgethebushpig, neither you nor your kids probably ever stepped up to the plate and said or did anything against the LTTE either, so your absence and abstinence won’t mean a darn thing. Stay home, wherever in the world that is, and watch TV.

    Prabhakaran and the Tigers were obviously quite blase at the thought of being encircled, but it was too late when they figured out that they were.

    There is a manifest attempt to encircle Sri Lanka. Those of us who can figure it out — and we do consult better experienced and endowed friends in the world community– will alert the people and resist wherever we can, however we can, starting with our new Ambassador Tamara Kunanayakam’s impending fightback in Geneva.

    • georgethebushpig

      Hey Don Quixote, I got a better idea, why wait for the invasion to happen? Let’s take it to them instead? Maybe a little pre-emptive strike against Tamilnadu might ready the youth for the grand battle?

      Recipe for chickenhawk salad:
      2 parts freshly harvested gullibility
      1 part cognitive dissonance
      1/2 a bag of vainglory
      And a healthy sprinkling of fermented paranoia

      When you are back home from where ever in the world you are, I can invite you over for some chickenhawk salad. It’s soooo good, it’s to die for!

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        George, or should I call you Bush Pig, or Bush or just…Pig,

        I’m out here on what is an international frontline for Sri Lanka, in an increasingly activist Security Council P5 member state. I’m also backing up, as we all are in Europe, our PR in Geneva which is where our international foes are striving to roll back our victory of the may 2009 Special session of the UNHRC (on my watch).

        Where are you at, GTBPig?

        Home you say. Well, yeah, this little piggy stayed at home, huh?

        How does it feel to be at home and take a view that only 1 out of 10 Sri Lankans do and 9 out of 10 do not, going by the latest Gallup poll? 91% of Sri Lankans approve of the guy you despise, don’t they? You can’t feel very much at home, can ya? No wonder you hide behind that silly-ass pseudonym :))

      • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

        Oh Piggy, I forgot: ‘ chickenhawk’ you say? That’s funny coming from you, a supporter of the current Opposition leadership…:))

  • Neville Perera

    College students in different parts of the world who have never known about the history of post-independence Sri Lanka have been horrified by what the successive governments have been doing for 6+ decades much more than by what the LTTE have been doing.

    But then that’s what conscientious Sinhalese have been telling LLRC.

    Instead of simply saying we have to be true to the basic precepts of Buddhism or we have to follow the UN Charter or our constitution or International Law, Dayan is drenching the young readers with poison. He shouldn’t be working at the UN at all. But of course Rajapakses are trying their best to cling on to power and Jayatillekas and Wijesinhes and Pierises are serving the Rajapakses very well.

    He pitted the South against the North in 2007/8. He is doing it again at UNESCO: his speech on Symposium on Press freedom(26 January 2011) and that on Symposium on Buddhism(20 May 2011) are pitting the East against the West and the South against the North respectively.

    There are no ”enemies” for Sri Lanka – there are only those who criticise the wrongdoings of Sri Lanka. It is natural for human beings to point out others’ mistakes though all keep making mistakes at different times and different situations. It’s utter nonsense to say ”who are they to tell us?”

    Sri Lanka gets all the modern technology and IT from the outside world. In this world cultures have been influencing each other more and more exponentially and the individual thinking is the total sum of all what we see hear and read. We want more and more international trade and tourism. All countries do. There can’t be actually anything that can be ”homegrown” in ideas.

    • Hela


      It is one thing to point out mistakes. However it is quite another to impose economic sanctions (GSP+) or threatening deadlines (Robert Blake and US spokeswoman).

      The actions related to development, reconciliation, national defense etc do not need to be sequential. They can be parallel processes.

      However as Barak Obama currently reviewing (all options of interventions), Sri Lanka also needs to review all options related to it’s strategic national defense, whether it is in far away Geneva or accross the ditch in India/Tamil Nadu or much closer in North and East of the country.

      No option should be disregarded in it’s preparation and readiness.

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    Neville, ok, here’s the deal: Why don’t you show us how it should be done when you represent Sri Lanka — or ‘work ‘ as you put it — at the UN?

    In the meanwhile may I correct you?

    You wrote of me: ‘He pitted the South against the North in 2007/8.’

    That is SO unfair.

    It should be 2007/9, not 8.

    So it should read ‘He pitted the South against the North in 2007-9’.

    Got it?

    As Tommy Lee Jones said in Under Seige,”Can we agree on that?”

    • Bundoora

      how about an impartial investigation by a few neutral countries, and clear our good name & save 20 million peoples lives rather than trying to safe guard few corrupt individual and their interests !
      though you attempted to portray the whole western block is against SL , as a matter of fact they are against this junta regime , it is simple as that , nothing more , nothing less , so shall we cut the crap of this “SL is gonna be invaded “stuff , to me it is very much like “storm in a tea cup”.

      • Hela


        Why does the West against the current govt? Who elect the govt? Is this an elected govt?

    • Neville Perera

      You did the groundwork in 2007/8 and got the votes in 2009.

    • @georgethebushpig

      Good Ambassadors may fade away…but arrogant sycophants aka “Useful Idiots” aka “Bought priesthood” will stay on and on and on…

  • In an article titled ‘Was the Libyan Intervention Really an Intervention?’ published on The Atlantic by Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University, Anne-Marie Slaughter, asks an interesting question that modernists and internationalists should consider worth contemplating. She writes;

    ‘If we really do look at the world in terms of governments and societies and the relationship between them, and do recognize that both governments and their citizens have rights as subjects of international law and have agency as actors in international politics, then what exactly is the international community “intervening” in?’

    She goes on to answers her own question in the concluding paragraph, where she notes;

    ‘The most compelling reason for the doctrine of non-intervention in the first place was that it protected weaker states from stronger states, on the assumption that the worst thing that could happen to a state and its population was invasion or some other use of force by another state. That made sense in the 19th century and much of the 20th century. But in the 21st century populations are often at equal or greater risk from their own governments as they are from other states. In a world of governments and societies, the responsibility to protect is the foundation of a new way to think about them both and the relationship between them’

    Is she wrong? How?

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Hi Thilina,

      Anne-Marie Slaughter is, together with Samantha Power, one of the best known ideologues of the New Interventionism, so quoting her is not exactly citing an objective scholar.

      Her argument as quoted by you is virtually an echo of the justifications used by colonialism in centuries past.

      The opening line is ‘…If we really do look at the world in terms of governments and societies and the relationship between them…’

      Why? Is that the only way to ‘ really see the world’? Why not as states and nations? Or nations and peoples? Or systems and sub-systems? or regions and sub-regions? The list could go on.

      As far as the international order goes, the fundamental unit remains the state. That is different from ‘governments’ and ‘societies’. How does one define ‘society’ in international law or international politics? The Sri Lankan government has changed many a time as has its society, but the Sri Lankan state remains. We vote in the UN not as a government or society but as a sovereign state.

      She says ‘…recognize that both governments and their citizens have rights as subjects of international law and have agency as actors in international politics…’

      That’s a little slippery isn’t it? Recognise? Who does? To what extent? Who recognises that citizens have EQUAL rights and agency in international law and politics as states? Which citizens? Individuals? Groups? What if one citizen’s or one’s group’s, view is at variance with the other? At what point does the collective view of the citizenry subordinate to that of the individual citizen?

      ‘…But in the 21st century populations are often at equal or greater risk from their own governments as they are from other states…’

      Now, WHO decides this and by what legitimate authority?

      What I do not see in any of these lines is the term ‘sovereignty’– national, state or popular. Popular sovereignty of course, pertains to the citizenry as collective, and does not regard the individual citizen as having an unmediated relationship with a fuzzy ‘international law’ and ‘international politics’.

      • Dear Dr Jayatilleke. Thank you kindly for your response.

        On a pursuit to explore what would be ‘communitarian’ than being individual/isolated in the international normative arena, and to develop a well informed conscience, whilst being true to the idea of who we are and what we stand for both as citizens of a Nation state, and also, as members of an orderly collective sub group within that state and as an individual, (ideologicaly/politicaly/culturaly/religious belif etc) let me politely ask away my next questions, arising from your valid and noteworthy ‘realistic’ response to my earlier question.

        Why would Slaughter’s argument’s seem to resonate colonial historical interactions of the centuries past as you indicate and not current and normative events? Is it not because Sri Lanka is really carrying with her the illusive anachronistic relics of Fanatical Xenophobia from colonial/pre-colonial era that we look at the west as intimidating and deceitful? Why shouldn’t we consider ourselves to be equal in our membership in international agencies and institutions such as UN/Asian/SAARC/non-aligned/WTO etc than allowing us to be isolated like North Korea or Iran and alike? I fail to see how it would be a better option than being part of the ‘normative’ collective group which has shared values. I have noted your valid points of not allowing interventions based on principles, but since the government is so confident that we have not breached any international humanitarian laws, wouldn’t allowing an investigation by an agreed independent commission by both GoSL and UN, save the country from undue sanctions and earn a reputation for our honesty and transparency?

        Also I am unable to grasp the difference between the concept of ‘popular sovereignty’ and ‘people sovereignty’. To me your notion of ‘popular sovereignty’ could be argued as ‘Tyranny of the Majority’ too. My belief is that ‘Popular sovereignty’ should not suppress the ‘National sovereignty’ (which includes all citizens and societies of the state). If the ‘Nation Sate’ is represented in international fora only by the elected government of the time, there arises a democratic vacuum in the concept of popular sovereignty (on issues pertaining to deliberative democracy). That is, it only represents a limited group of people (the majority) in the state. How then would or could any affected party of a state that is not party to a government be represented in an international body such as UN, UNHCR or UNSC? In this context, shouldn’t sovereignty be a responsibility than a privilege of the state (since it represents only a group of people in the state)?

        On the question of legitimacy, as you and I may both very well know, intervention could be and has been argued as both legitimate and illegitimate. But to me it is more of an ethical or a moral issue and that is perhaps where we may differ. It is understandable, considering the paradigm of strong realists like yourself that you would disparage the use of normative power in international relations, instead focusing on power politics (economic or military). But on the other hand we ought to remember that there are strong idealists who accord a high importance to the power of normative moral principles, which many of them would consider as key/significant rationale in determining legitimacy.

      • PS: ‘How do you define ‘society’ in IR theory?’

        Refer to International Society Theory (British School of IR theory: a “tamer” variant of realism)

        To quote a couple of related popular IR discourses would include the works of Hedley Bull’s The Anarchical Society (1977) & Nicholas Wheeler’s ‘Pluralist and solidarist conceptions of international society (1992)etc

  • ordinary lankan

    Weak leadership
    Internal disunity

    we have struggled with these issues since the last king of Anuradhapura was taken a prisoner to South India.

    We have had no century of peace (or even 50 years)in the last 9 centuries. WHY?

    External facts are just one side of the coin. We have screwed ourselves over and over internally. This seems the point to ponder…

  • georgethebushpig

    Dear Dr. Jayatilleke [edited out],

    Since you’ve decided to divert your attention to try and figure out where I am located and what my real name is, I am beginning to see your point about encirclement and the need to be prepared, albeit, with regard to my own personal security. Following “Uncle Ho’s” strategy my kids are digging a network of underground tunnels and chirping like little grasshoppers while sharpening wooden stakes in our Battaramulla neighbourhood.

    BTW, I don’t know where you got it that I am a supporter of the opposition, considering that I see them as a bunch of eunchs in the Rajapakse kingdom.


    W(h)ither Sri Lankan diplomacy?

    I have generally avoided commenting on this, but since you took yet another opportunity to refer to “our victory of the may 2009 Special session of the UNHRC (on my watch)” let us examine this a little bit… 2-years down the road.

    Diplomacy is about achieving strategic objectives through the art of tactful negotiation and strategic compromise. In this regard, what exactly was the strategic objective achieved in 2009?

    I would assume that the strategic objective should have been to facilitate a face-saving way for all parties to bring the discussion on alleged war crimes in Sri Lanka towards a principled and favorable outcome for Sri Lanka. The “principled” being putting in place a credible process for verifying the allegations and charging anyone found guilty, and the “favorable” would be in relation to bringing the discussion to a rapid closure with no international censure. Did we achieve this?

    Over the last 2 years it is clear that what we have achieved is far from this strategic objective. There’s increased polarization between several Western countries and Sri Lanka over this issue, and it seems like it is about to spill over (if not already) to our developing world friends such as India.

    Furthermore, it could be argued that the international human rights community has coalesced around this issue largely in response to the GOSL’s unwillingness to deal with the allegations of war crimes in a serious and genuine manner.

    Why are the “Great Powers” pissed off with Sri Lanka? Is it really because of the “rump LTTE’s” political influence in the capitals of those countries or is it something less intriguing? Such as maybe injured pride caused by some middling diplomat with a belligerent attitude from a small island developing state?

    Here’s something that has really confounded me over the last 2 years, how does a self proclaimed Realist from a small island developing state get so confused with relation to the international balance of powers that he thinks he can take on the Great Powers in the international arena (in the process putting the rest in peril)? How much of the current pressure for war crimes investigations do you think can be attributed to this failed “diplomatic” strategy?

    In hindsight would a more tactful approach rather than a belligerent stance have proven more effective in achieving Sri Lanka’s strategic objectives? That’s a difficult one to quantify but let’s just say that the belligerence certainly didn’t help soften up those with real power (and here’s the realist in me coming out). If you were scientific, honest and objective in your analysis over your conduct in Geneva you should be able to come to the conclusion that your belligerence, bolstered by a handful of states that have in recent times overthrown their own leaders, was actually counter productive, as the pressure for war crimes investigations has only increased since 2009.

    Not only that but here you are now even saying that there could be an invasion of hostile forces and that we should be preparing ourselves by sending our kids to military training! If this is indeed true, is it not a clear indication of the complete failure of a diplomatic strategy that you have been at the forefront of?

    If I were you I would simply fade into the background and allow Ambassador Kunanayakam to adopt a new approach and to exorcise the belligerent stench that unfortunately permeates that position since your term. The exuberance on your part to try and cast her as being the heavy duty artillery that is going to carry on with your agenda is a blatant set up, and I hope she is wise enough to see that and to distance herself from your failed approach. So what about the self proclaimed victory of 2009? Well, that’s all that it is, in’it? I guess it is up to the rest of us to pick up the pieces on the frontline back home.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Kalana Senaratne

    You stated “Thirdly, and more pointedly, what if the non-implementation of the 13th Amendment in the North, for instance, results in some form of external/military intervention?”

    The 13th is already Law.
    Yet is it Just?
    If it is not just can it be implemented?

    Is the per capita entitlement to PUBLIC Land of a N & E resident greater than that of another province?

    Over 80% of Land in Lanka are Publicly owned.
    At least half of that land is situated in the N and E Provinces.
    The demarcation of the Provinces is arbitrary and occupation density very low. Hence the per capita land within these two provinces is very high compared to the rest of Lanka.

    Consider the following provisions in Appendix 2.

    2. Inter-Provincial Irrigation and Land Development Projects.

    2:1  Such projects would comprise irrigation and land development schemes-
    (a) within the Province initiated by the State and which utilize water from rivers flowing through more than one Province; a Provincial Council however, may also initiate irrigation and land development schemes within its Province utilizing water from such rivers ;
    (b) within the Province which utilize water through diversions from water systems from outside the Province ; and
    (c) all schemes where the command area falls within two or more Provinces such as the Mahaweli Development Project.
    2:2  These projects will be the responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka.

    According to 2.2 the funding for the project would be by the Central Govt. Hence the Major part of those funds would be contributed by the ethnic majority.

    2:3  The principals and criteria regarding the size of holdings of agricultural and homestead lands arising out of these projects will be determined by the Government of Sri Lanka in consultation with the Provincial Councils.

    2:4 The selection of allotees for such lands will be determined by the Government of Sri Lanka having regard to settler selection criteria including degree of landlessness, income level, size of family and agricultural background of the applicants. The actual application of these principles, selection of allottees and other incidental matters connected thereto will be within the powers of the Provincial Councils.

    2:5 The distribution of all allotments of such land in such projects will be on the basis of national ethnic ratio. In the distribution of allotments according to such ratios, priority will be given to persons who are displaced by the project, landless of the District in which the project is situated and thereafter the landless of the Province.

    According to 2.5 the National Ethnic ratios are recognised.
    However the lowest priority of allotees mentioned in 2.5 is residents in the Province. No mention is made of LANDLESS in other provinces.
    Could this clause be used to shut them out?
    Why were they not included at the lowest level of ranking?

    2:6 Where the members of any community do not, or are unable to take their entitlements of allotments from any such project, they would be entitled to receive an equivalent number of allotments in another Inter-Provincial Irrigation or Land Development Scheme. This unused quota should be utilized within a given time-frame.

    2:7 The distribution of allotments in such projects on the basis of the aforesaid principles would be done as far as possible so as not to disturb very significantly the demographic pattern of the Province and in accordance with the principle of ensuring community cohesiveness in human settlements.

    The National Ethnic Ratios recognised by 2.5 is over ridden by 2.7 an REPLACED by the Provincial Ethnic Ratios. Thus the per capita distribution of Public Resources has been circumvented. If the concerns are about Parliamentary representation such representation could be ensured by a re demarcation of the boundaries.

    2:8 The administration and management of such projects will be done by the Government of Sri Lanka.

    Here again the costs are passed on by way of the National Budget to the ethnic majority.

    The British enacted the Crown Land Enforcement Ordinance in 1840 to claim the unoccupied and uncultivated land in the Kandyan kingdom (Farmer 1957:90- 91). As a result of this ordinance, 90% of the land in the Kandyan highlands was designated as land belonging to the British Crown (Herath et al, 1995:77).

    The Waste Land Ordinance Act of 1897 (and the Crown Land Encroachment Ordinance in 1840), annexed more lands as crown lands where villagers could no longer claim them according to the new British- imposed rules (Roberts 1979:233, Obeysekara 1967: 98-100).

    The majority of the Sinhalese villages effectively lost the structural prerequisite of land tenure systems (Obeysekara 1967:101). These ordinances also created a large number of landless peasants in the former Kandyan kingdom, which had held land through customary means but without legal proof. Furthermore, the ‘Land Settlement Ordinance of 1889’ allowed the colonial authorities to sell crown lands at will.

    The impact of these land ordinances were uneven, because they were largely limited to the former Kandyan Kingdom (Mendis 1951:166).

    Many villagers in the Kandyan area were deprived of their high lands formally used for chena cultivation or grazing the cattle (Mendis 1951:85).

    These changes to the Kandyan land and service tenure systems disintegrated the old Sinhalese systems (Codrington 1938:63).

    According to the 1946 census on population in the agricultural sector of the island, 40% of the agricultural peasant families found in the former Kandyan Kingdom were landless while there were 26% landless agricultural families recorded in the wet zone (Herath 1995: 79).

    The Demography of the Hill country was changed PERMANENTLY by the settlement of Indian Tamils but Appendix 2 section 2.7 prevents Sinhalese being settled in Development projects Funded mainly by the Sinhalese themselves.

    Over 50% of the Tamil Population live OUTSIDE the North & East
    About 70% of the Muslim population live OUTSIDE the North & East

    How can Appendix 2 section 2.7 be justified?

    Should this not be rescinded and the Per Capita method of allotment already recognised by 2.5 in Appendix 2 allowed to stand?

    Appreciate Dr Jayatileke’s views on this matter too.

  • wijayapala


    Why would Slaughter’s argument’s seem to resonate colonial historical interactions of the centuries past as you indicate and not current and normative events?

    The British in the early 1800s justified the conquest of Kandy on grounds of human rights.

    • Oh really? Thank you so much. Until now, I was under the impression that the British were on a ‘zero civilian casualty policy based humanitarian intervention’. Nice!

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Thilina,

    You say “but since the government is so confident that we have not breached any international humanitarian laws, wouldn’t allowing an investigation by an agreed independent commission by both GoSL and UN,”

    Investigations have already been acceded to but under an investigative regime that can deliver Justice. Please do keep that in mind. The proviso is to make sure that Sri Lanka is not “Singled out”.

    No investigation can be Just if the rules cannot be applied evenly across the board.
    Justice is blind to anything other than the Law.
    The size, economic power, military power, emotions etc are not considered if the intent is the delivery of “Justice”. This also means that there are no exemptions and no vetoes.

    This is the only way to ensure that “Investigations” do not become a club, in the hands of the powerful, with which the weak, can be pummelled in to submission.

    So far the World does not have such a regime. Asking for investigations without first establishing a system by which JUSTICE can be delivered is putting the cart before the horse.

    The question that needs and answer is, why such an investigative regime capable of delivering JUSTICE has not been established yet?

    • Dear Off the Cuff

      Sorry for the late response,

      I have been contemplating on your statement ‘So far the World does not have such a regime. Asking for investigations without first establishing a system by which JUSTICE can be delivered is putting the cart before the horse’ for sometime.

      It does make sense. However the same principle should be applied to the Sri Lankan Judiciary. To what extent could we agree that there is such an established system in Sri Lanka after the 18th Amendment?

      I found an LLRC submission where this point has been highlighted, wonder if you were familiar with it.

      ‘6. The objection to outside investigation is a question of sovereignty, for it assumes that all allegations leveled against a state, include petty pilfering from the Treasury, needs to be appraised by a neutral umpire. On the other hand the absence of adequate and reliable independence in arbitration can and does give strength to the call for such interference.’ p.6