Photo courtesy: Steve Chao /Al Jazeera via JDS

With our Government busy defending itself from war crime allegations, protecting the sovereignty of the country and advising the common man to say ‘no’ to Google, the Tamil leadership and, of course, the Tamil Diaspora dreaming of some mode of foreign intervention and drooling over the latest Channel 4 documentary, the Muslim Community deeply wounded by the recent developments in Dambulla, and the common man constantly worried over the ever increasing fuel price, it’s understandable why the journey towards achieving true and authentic reconciliation has become such  a tricky business in our country. With so many external factors coming into the equation (of achieving reconciliation) even Albert Einstein would have had trouble sorting things out and moving forward.

The intention of this article is to look at reconciliation from a different angle; an angle that helps simplify the equation – eliminate as many external factors and make the concept as practically attainable as possible. The important thing to realize is that there is no clear road map to a perfect reconciliation process, different people will have different opinions and the balance between the importance of transformation at personal level and systemic level will always be debated. This makes the road to reconciliation, essentially, an adventure, in which we experiment and learn. And intentions matter most.

A search query on Google for ‘definitions of reconciliation’ will give you 25.1 million hits, which means that the answer is not straightforward and has multiple dimensions. In his widely acclaimed book, Overcoming Apartheid, James L. Gibson puts the problem in correct perspective,  ‘the problem with reconciliation is not that it is devoid of content; the problem is that reconciliation is such an intuitively accessible concept that everyone is able to imbue it with her or his own distinct understanding.’ The Greek word for reconciliation is tikkum olam, meaning to heal, to repair and to transform, and this can be treated as the meaning of reconciliation in a nutshell.

Why Reconciliation?

Unless we come up with healthy answers to this question, there is no point in discussing further, even if we do, there won’t be much difference between us and the old uncles who muse over cricket after washing out their day’s sins with a glass of whiskey. Reasons such as we are all human beings and we have the same colored blood running in our veins may serve as good starting points, but take us no further. Such points aid, mostly, towards answering the question ‘why should we be divided?’ rather than ‘why should we unite?’ –  Which is, in fact, the question to ask and answer.  Answers to the question, ‘why reconciliation?’ Should not, entirely, be emotional; there should be a fair quota of logical reasoning involved.

There are two ways of approaching the question: one, looking back at our history, two, thinking of the future.

Historically, in Sri Lanka, Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims did co-exist for centuries. The way of life was such that Hinduism and Buddhism, during Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa Dynasties, had much in common. The Muslims of Mannar had such good relationships with the Tamil people – before the LTTE chased them away – that they even opened their doors and protected the Tamils when Government Forces attacked the Island in 1990. Countless number of such examples can be generated. The state of affairs at the end of four-and-a-half centuries of colonialism – the lack of a common Sri Lankan identity (or Ceylon back then) – is largely to be blamed for what followed in the sixty–four years of independence. The politicians, at the time of independence and those who followed, instead of trying to resolve the divisions and working towards building that much needed common identity either continued to use the divisions for their own vested interests or resorted to an indifferent approach; at the time of independence the potential to build a common identity was very much present before the then rulers blew it with the Citizenship Act. At almost all crucial junctures in our short history of independence we have somehow managed to contribute to the exacerbation of divisions which, ultimately, resulted in bloody violence. History was rewritten, by both parties involved, to better suite their cause and arguments, hatred and racism became the cog wheel of the national cart, and elections were won, solely, based on the better ‘kill ‘em all’ rhetoric. The results of the thirty year long war – deaths, loss of property, a violent culture that tolerates injustices to deplorable levels, innumerable underage marriages, pregnant teenagers, corruption of humanity, fear, frustration, autocratic mindset, intolerance of alternative ideas or perspectives and all other related consequences – serve as good reminders why we, as a country, should never allow hatred to control us, ever again. Unwillingness to learn from our past will prove to be a greater sin than all that we have already committed.

Our actions today will have consequences tomorrow; we all know that. Would you like your children to see what you have seen in your life? Would you like your child grow up in the same hate filled environment? Would you like your child to think of guns and grenades when he/she should rather be thinking of bat, ball and dolls? Would you like your child to hear the same lies your parents told you? That is what the future has in store for us if we do not re-think and act now. It will take decades; it may even take centuries, before we fully pay the price for the wrongdoings of the past generation. And a divided, polarized and suspicious community will certainly not help the future generations. With resources getting scarcer with each passing day, it will not help the future generations if we fight over what little we have, and end up destroying all that we have.  We can choose to learn, forgive, ask for forgiveness and reconcile, and in doing so do the groundwork for a better future for our children or dwell in the same hatred, the same attitudes and the same actions of the past generation, and later, possibly in our death beds, share the sentiments of Rudyard Kipling who, after losing his son to World War I, wrote in his Epitaphs of War ‘any question why we died, tell them because our fathers lied.’

A (More) Practical Solution

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than it’s opposite,” – Nelson Mandela, Autobiography.

For most people, the word reconciliation brings to mind a round table, couple of glasses of water, some files and men in neat suits. Even though there is no denying the fact that the systemic aspect – political solution, constitutional changes, parliamentary representation etc. – is a vital component in the overall success of any national reconciliation process, it’s not the only element. A viable political solution does not necessarily solve all the issues related to inter-ethnic conflict – just like the conclusion of war did not. Politicians will change and so will the policies. The story of the 17th Amendment is a wonderful example. Unless relationships are restored there will never be lasting peace; peace will become dependent on ballot counts, every six years.

As noted right at the beginning, the situation that prevails in the country is not ideal for anything good; certainly not for reconciliation. In the three years following the end of war the Government has done very little to promote reconciliation or to win the hearts of the Tamil people or, in the light of recent developments, the Muslim people as well. And you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out. The question is what do we do till the Government changes its attitude or there is a new regime? Do we sleep? Do we just complain? Do we just criticize the Government and repeat the accusations? Or do we act to bring about a change in the attitudes of the people? People from the bottom have to get their rulers to listen, was the cry of respected journalist Namini Wijedasa, in her recent keynote address at the Annual General Meeting of the Citizens Movement for Good Governance. If we want reconciliation, the common man should start desiring it. When there is a powerful unified voice from the masses  demanding a national reconciliation process, this Government, the next Government or any Government will have to come up with viable a solution.

This leaves us with just about one option: to work towards building or rather restoring inter-ethnic relationships and making people care for each other. Teach people to love, as Nelson Mandela said. Opportunities should be created for people to meet in safe environments – where there is no fear and equal treatment for everyone – and identify their common links and learn to appreciate their differences. The idea should be to give people a firsthand experience of what it would be to live in a reconciled nation, where equal rights, justice and appreciation of diversity prevail, where people work for the good of each other rather than just for their own. The whole mindset of ‘Us against Them’ should be shattered. People should be directed to build on the common links and explore the various aspects of a common Sri Lankan identity – one that can be embraced by all communities and has equality at its heart. Once friendships are established there, spaces should be created for people to discuss their issues and understand each others’ struggles. We live in a country where terrible things have become so normalized we don’t even recognize it. Slowly but surely these bonds, if nurtured properly, will become stronger.  The more friendships that are created the stronger the unified voice will be.

One notable similarity in all the reconciliation related materials available is that words such as process, journey and path make regular appearances along with the key word, meaning that it’s a time consuming practice and requires a long term vision. Hence, any effort to bring reconciliation and thus sustainable peace will have to focus on the youth; the new generation. The youth, naturally, are more receptive. They are always willing to experiment with new ideas. Give them the opportunity – there is no harm in trying. What this country needs is bit of fresh air and young blood.

  • Buddhika

    Thank you.

    If you look at the comments on these pages, one should say that the first requirement for reconciliation is that a critical number of people should desire it. Then only they will work for it.

    Hatred of the ‘other’ should be erased from the school textbooks.

  • Ward

    ‘‘any question why we died, tell them because our fathers lied’’

    ”Commissions” in the last 3/4 decades as damage control(=lies):



    • silva

      ‘‘any question why we died, tell them because our fathers lied’’:

      “Asked if she or the delegation brought up with the President the fact that he had made promises of devolution and a political solution in May 2009 (to U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon), in July 2010 (to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh), in January 2012 (to External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna), she said: ‘We emphasised this point in every meeting. Even today with Mahinda Rajapaksaji and, as you rightly said, we also reminded them that you have given assurance to the Prime Minister of India, the Hon. External Affairs Minister of India and even to me, as the Leader of Opposition [in the Lok Sabha] when I called on him” –

  • Ward

    “No one is born hating another person”:
    Respect for Diversity in Educational Publication – The Sri Lankan Experience, Ariya Wickrema and Peter Colenso, 2003:
    ‘’It is necessary to trace briefly the historical links between the development of the education system and the development of an ethnic -based politics, leading to armed conflict. ….
    The Government dominates the educational publications sector in Sri Lanka through its provision of free textbooks to all students from grade 1 to 11 … War is shown as patriotic while peace is portrayed as cowardice’’
    The Two Faces of Education in Ethnic Conflict: Towards a Peacebuilding Education for Children – Kenneth D Bush and Diana Saltarelli(2000) – published by Innocenti Research Centre(UNICEF):
    ”… A review of the textbooks used in the segregated schools of Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s, for example, found Sinhalese textbooks scattered with images of Tamils as the historical enemies of the Sinhalese…”

    Reggie Siriwardene, a well-respected Sinhalese writer, in a well-¬documented analysis of the effects of school textbooks on ethnic relations in Sri Lanka(1984):
    “Millions of school children are taught, in the name of social studies, through text-books published by the state, the myths of divergent racial origins which will help to divide the Sinhalese and Tamils for more generations to come… ”

  • Keynes!

    You’re talking to the hand Mr. Hoole. Many members of the Tamil community don’t want reconciliation. They just want to be left alone.

    Quoting Namini Wijedasa is like quoting Sarah Palin for purposes other than a joke. This gravy train chugs along because some fool at the European Union gave her the Lorenzo Natali Prize. Indeed, that prize should have gone to a more courageous person like Lasantha or Weliamuna. The gravy in her pussyfooting keynote speech she delivered at CIMOGG was so watered down that one begins to think if it was drafted by her boss Thilanga Sumathipala.

    People from the bottom have already got their rulers to listen. Doctrine doctored by intellectuals from movements such as the National Patriotic Movement has filtered through to public opinion and has been converted into political action. How else can Champika Ranawaka, Wimal Weerawansa and their ilk get elected? Think about it yaar.

    • Piranha

      “Watered down speech”?

      Namini Wijedasa is a courageous journalist but under the present climate of fear of abduction, assault and death she had no choice but to temper her criticism of the regime. Lasantha paid with his life and Weliamuna’s life is in danger. So please give credit to the voices that are still brave enough to criticise, even if is mild, against the murderous madmen ruling the country.

      • Keynes!


        The devouring illocution of your pseudonym had me believing that you can strip my point to the bone in under a minute. I remain intact, nevertheless, to take you on and die on another day.

        Let me point out the incongruity in your argument. You accuse me of accusing Wijedasa of watering down her speech. Then you-yourself claim that she had no choice but to temper her criticism of the regime!

        When a person on the pay of Sumathipala begins to voice eloquence on good governance, I have no other option but to align the message with the messenger.Indeed, this messenger is running with the fox and hunting with the hound. I’d rather trust a coyote like Mervin Silva… it can run faster than a fox and makes no pretensions of good governance.

        And last, but not least, can I make a humble request?

  • Alex F

    Reconciliation Rajapakse style starts at the end of the barrel of a gun. Youthful or not, no one is buying it.

  • soosai

    Eelam Tamils dont trust the common sinhalese can stand up to Rajapakse’s command and control. That is why they are seeking international help, because the International players helped to eliminate LTTE. Sinhalese must prove that they can deliver justice to Tamils without LTTE; otherwise they will prove that LTTE is indeed correct. Sinhalese cannot hide the massacre of 40000 Tamils in a 2 day period. It is the worst genocide in 21st century and International players know it all too well.

    • silva

      B-C Pact came and went
      D-C Pact came and went

      APRC come and go.
      LLRC come and go

      Burn UNHRC
      Bring on PSC.

  • The “law of those who rule” is applied more than the “rule of law” to the people in the North and East(NE) of Sri Lanka(SL).

    The rule of law anywhere, is the legal dimension of the democratic process, which seeks to ensure that government decisions are impersonal and subject to legal restraint. It also guarantees individual freedoms from arbitrary government, and entitles the individual to due process of law.

    The constitution of any country is the foundation for its rule of law.

    But the document called the “constitution” of SL, prepared first in 1972, did not coform to the definition of a democratic constitution in its formation. It was simply a docment for the Sinhalese to administer the island, which SL wrongly called as its “constitution”.

    Violating the rule of law, the government decisions are not kept impersonal but are based on ethnicity. Lack of legal restraint on Tamils is the reason for gross violation of Human rights and military repression leading to genocide.

    Also, there is no guarantee of individual freedoms for the people of NE of the island, and the due process of law is postponed indefinitely for those in custody.

    Sarath De Silva, the former Chief Justice of SL, made this observation lamentfully, when he visited the IDP camps in 1979.

    This week, the US has asked for justice and speedy trial for LTTE suspects, but was rebuked by a cabinet minister of the GOSL.

    To correct the fundamental error, the US may have to ask the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to adjudicate on the validity of the first republic “constitution” of SL of 1972.


    A very useful article on a currently important and urgent topic, duly illustrated by a symbolic picture which also makes one think a lot. I love the smiling image of the strong and young soldier standing more- than-at-ease guarding the ONE-NATION-ONE-COUNTRY structure. But sadly and ironically, he is only guarding a white-washed hut with a roof in danger of being blown off by the wind, and two very small windows that are even obstructed from letting in fresh air. The hut is presumably in Jaffna and the Motto, sponsored by Yarl Hospital treating all types of the sick. Is the hut really symbolic of our country as it is today?

    Writer Elija Hoole has asked three questions and tried to answer them:
    RECONCILIATION — WHAT? WHY? HOW? I like to add a fourth one: WHEN?…
    and also provide my brief answers to all four of them from my heart. By
    Reconciliation, we mean: People of Sri Lanka who are living on after our recent and brutal war has ended, mending broken relationships, and finding new paths and means of continuing to live together with mutual respect, support, tolerance, and harmony –with justice and fair-play. WHY should we reconcile? Since that is the only sensible and civilised way forward. There is no other alternative. No one really wanted the war that ended. It somehow started, due to our own faults on all sides and could have ended much earlier in much less ruinous circumstances, but it dragged on and on. Now it is somehow over. Those who brought it to an end have to be thanked at least for the fact of having ended it. They did their best, in the circumstances in which they were placed. Now we must forget the victories-and-defeats and look only on the road ahead. This GOSL that ended the war has a great and unprecedented task and responsibility ahead of them. They have a talented leader in the form of the current President. He is a good manager of diverse views and factions, and has a vision of a united Sri Lanka and a united Sri Lankan Nation of the future, with varied ethnic and religious peoples. The Reconciliation that we are seeking, has to be and I feel confident could be, successfully brought about by him — if he has the fullest co-operation from all sections of his government, and the opposition, as well as of all the peoples themselves. HOW to do it? Well, in all possible ways, at all possible levels, in all walks and spheres of our life in the country — and abroad. All we need are the desire and the willingness to reconcile. But these are now mostly non-existent. And they are the most difficult aspects to be created by force. They can’t be created by begging, either. They have to arise naturally in the hearts of people of all sides. And that brings out my last question: WHEN? Well, we need Reconciliation NOW, at least beginning FROM NOW. Otherwise the rest of the work-flow will not take place. THE SINGLE FACTOR THAT WOULD ACCELERATE RECONCILIATION IS A NEGOTIATED SOLUTION TO BASIC GRIEVANCES OF ALL MINORITIES BY GOSL VIA A NEW CONSTITUTION. THE GOSL IS PROMISING A SOLUTION WITHIN 6-MONTHS. LET US GIVE IT A GO.

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    RECONCILIATION: is needed when there is a PROBLEM and where there is a PROBLEM. First find out what the problem is. Then find out the cause of the PROBLEM. Then start the treatment – RECONCILIATION.

    No one seems to have diagnosed the basic problem or they do not want to publish the true symptoms.

    And those who have diagnosed and found the symptoms are still finding it difficult to start treatment for some reason or other best known to them. So that is another PROBLEM.

  • SomeOne

    Dear Prof. Kopan,


    Reconciliation: Some sections of people (the very people who need reconciliation) feel that the reconciliation which we talk of is an act of “rubbing salt in their wounds”.

    Negotiated solution: Negotiation was over in May 2009.

    Basic Grievances: This term doesn’t fit well in the context of democracy. If you believe that there are grievances then this political system is NOT functioning well.

    Promising a solution: We are struggling to identify the problem (Let alone the solution). Elijah explained enough about it. Gesture is more important than spoken words and actions taken. For instant, Gesture of smiling soldier standing-at-ease with loaded high powered machine gun will not help this so called reconciliation process. Nelson Mandela emphasizes the importance of “Gesture” in one of his speech on reconciliation. Thank you.

    • Kusum

      Gesture with army of occupation controlling all aspects of life of the people !

    • Kusum

      ”They have a talented leader in the form of the current President. He is a good manager of diverse views and factions, and has a vision of a united Sri Lanka and a united Sri Lankan Nation of the future, with varied ethnic and religious peoples:

      Centre for Policy Alternatives has produced a table of seven Commissions and seven Committees appointed in the last six years whose reports the President has been refusing to publish,

    • WellSaid

      SomeOne – Agreed. Gesture is very important, this Gov has not sent any such gestures in the three years.

  • rita

    Dear Prof Mahadeva,

    Is the President a leader or a follower of his voters:
    “If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me” -

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    “God’s laws”, like “God” were/are made up by man.

    “God” and “God’s laws” were written by men to give small groups of men control over most other men, all women, and resources.

    The only true religion on the planet today is Capitalism, and Money is the only true god…no matter how religious a person claims to be.
    Constitutions, laws, decrees, ordinances, court orders, UN resolutions, international treaties &c. are made to wield power – not to establish “justice” of any kind. This truth applies strictly everywhere on earth.

    First and foremost you must have to will to ACCEPT THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM.
    Second Try sincerely to find the ACTUAL problem.
    Third You must have the “guts” to sincerely tell others the REAL problem
    Fourth Sincerely find out the causes for the creation/birth of the PROBLEM
    Fifth Make every endeavour to address the causes as a STATESMAN/STATESWOMAN.

    Sixth Since there are no PROBLEMS the NEED for RECONCILIATION does not arise.


  • Dear Hoole,

    “Reconciliation in Sri Lanka: What? Why? How?”

    “The Greek word for reconciliation is tikkum olam, meaning to heal, to repair and to transform, and this can be treated as the meaning of reconciliation in a nutshell.”

    The ‘Root Cause’ of the problems in Lanka has been the Sinhala – ‘Theravada’ Buddhist nationalism based on the false and imaginary doctrine: “Aryan” – Sinhala – Sinhalese – ‘Theravada’ Buddhism – Lanka with one to one correspondence and the successive governments of Sri Lanka dominated by the Sinhala Buddhists formulating their policies based on this imaginary and false doctrine and unilaterally implementing them.

    Thus, unless the Sinhala nation rejects in words and deeds its Sinhala – ‘Theravada’ Buddhist nationalism based on the false and imaginary doctrine: “Aryan” – Sinhala – Sinhalese – ‘Theravada’ Buddhism – Lanka with one to one correspondence, reconciliation will not be possible. As long as the Sinhala nation adheres to its Sinhala ‘Theravada’ Buddhist nationalsim based on its false and imaginary doctrine, ‘Tamil nationalism’ will continue to exist!

    Thus for reconciliation, first of all the Sinhalese should be explained with scientific evidence that their Sinhala -Theravada Buddhist nationalism is based on the imaginary and false doctrine: “Aryan” – Sinhala – Sinhalese – Theravada Buddhism – Lanka with one to one correspondence.

    To do that all the pali, Sinhala, Tamil literature and archaeological finds should be re-examined scientifically and correct conclusion should be reached. The archaeological finds include ‘Brahmi,’ Tamil and Sinhala inscriptions, statues, sculptures, coins, seals, paintings, potsherds, earthen wares, flags etc. In all these we find hundreds different symbols placed in combination. Unless we study and find out correctly what these symbols severally and jointly symbolize, conclusion about the archaeological finds will be wrong and imaginary.
    Tamil words have been used for symbolization in ‘Brahmi’ inscriptions and flags. On the other hand literary symbolization also had been used in Tamil, Singala and Pali literature.

    To do this, we must have a thorough knowledge on the following:

    1) Symbolization;

    2) Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism;

    3) the word – meaning relationship of the Tamil language;

    4) the difference between ‘Theravada’ Buddhism and ‘Mahayana’ Buddhism;

    5) Saivaism.

    ‘Symbolization’ is a very vast and scientific field invented and utilized by the human society, particularly from Lanka and the Indian subcontinent. A Word, phrase, sentence, poem, music, dance, drama, iconography, painting, thus inscriptions, statues, sculptures, coins, seals,etc. etc. involve symbolization.

    Thus, the Sinhalese and Tamil academics and others have much work to do before the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim politicians talk about “Reconciliation.”

    • wijayapala

      Dear Abimanasingham (you have such a great name, why did you misspell it??)

      Thus, unless the Sinhala nation rejects in words and deeds its Sinhala – ‘Theravada’ Buddhist nationalism

      Are you able to comprehend the incredible contradiction in your words?? You want the Sinhala “nation” to abandon its “nationalism”- how is it possible for something to abandon what makes it what it is????

      To do that all the pali, Sinhala, Tamil literature and archaeological finds should be re-examined scientifically and correct conclusion should be reached. The archaeological finds include ‘Brahmi,’ Tamil and Sinhala inscriptions, statues, sculptures, coins, seals, paintings, potsherds, earthen wares, flags etc. In all these we find hundreds different symbols placed in combination. Unless we study and find out correctly what these symbols severally and jointly symbolize, conclusion about the archaeological finds will be wrong and imaginary.

      Who will do all this massive work? You?

      • Dear wijayapala!

        Please note that I have written:

        “Thus, unless the Sinhala nation rejects in words and deeds its Sinhala – ‘Theravada’ Buddhist nationalism based on the false and imaginary doctrine: “Aryan” – Sinhala – Sinhalese – ‘Theravada’ Buddhism – Lanka with one to one correspondence, reconciliation will not be possible.”

        You have asked: “Who will do all this massive work? You?”

        Though it appears as a massive work, if planed out and done scientifically, the studies on all these could be completed within 3 months. I have already done the scientific studies on all these.
        In the presentation that I made before the LLRC -Jaffna Secretariat sitting on 12th November, 2010, I explained all these. I presented a printed booklet of 52 pages (1/8 size) analyzing all these in brief to all the members of the Commission and the Journalists from the South.Also I distributed about 1000 printed copies to the MPs, Ministers, University Profs, Media, Embassies, UN Bodies, NGOs etc. also.
        If you want a soft copy, please let me know your e-mail address. My e-mail address is: [email protected].

  • Rohini Hensman

    Elijah makes the important point that even when reconciliation from above seems to be going nowhere, it is still possible for ordinary people (those who lack any political power) to work on reconciliation from below: dissolving prejudices, overcoming hatred, building up friendships. Eventually those in power will have to take notice. So long as young people like him have this perspective and act on it, I feel there is hope for our country.

  • P.L.J.B.Palipana

    We have experienced three armed strugles in SriLanka during the past 50 years.What were the root causes behind?

  • P.L.J.B.Palipana

    I accept fully Mr.Abhimanasinham.The SECULARISM is the most accepted solution today.India is an example.The Buddhist nationalism in our country was used by our politicians to steal the conscience of the COMMON people(SINHALA).The essence of BUDDHISM must be clearly specified and the constitution of the republic must be changed to suit the situation(relative).Thanks!

  • SomeOne

    Dear Rohini, You are kidding.!!!

    “..I feel there is hope for our country…”

    Of course, We all should have hope. Let alone our country.

    You better listen to the song from Gypsyies “I don’t know why..”

    Sunil Ayaa is one of many true patriot. I am proud of him.

    GOD save our country. Thank you

  • Dear Sie.Kathieravealu, P.L.J.B.Palipana and other friends,

    You have spoken about the ‘Root Cause’ of the problems of Lanka.

    I give below the comments that I wrote on the article: “LLRC Reommendations: Can the Rajapakse Regime Digest” written by Kusal Perara ( – 18th Dec. 2011).

    A. S. Uthayakumar
    December 18, 2011 • 5:44 pm
    Kusal Perera has touched some important emphases and recommendations made by the LLRC. But, on one hand, some very important emphases have been ignored and, on the other, Kusal Perera has failed to mention some very important matters that were not touched in the LLRC Report.
    The Commission has emphasized in the paragraph – 8.150:
    “The Commission takes the view that the Root Cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people. The country may not have been confronted with a violent separatist agenda, if the political consensus at the time of independence had been sustained and if policies had been implemented to build up and strengthen the confidence of the minorities around the system which had gained a reasonable measure of acceptance.”
    Thus the LLRC accepts that the violent separatist agenda was the outcome of the failure of the successive Governments of Sri Lanka to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people!
    Further, under “The Different Phases in the Narrative of Tamil Grievances” it has mentioned in para.8.163 of the Report:
    “The decisive rift in the inter-ethnic relationship came first with the riots of 1958, then in1977, and culminating in what is known as ‘Black July’ of 1983, and the heinous failure of the then Government to provide adequate protection to Tamil citizens. The problems pertaining to the Tamil Community and their grievances cannot be fully addressed without a fuller understanding of this culture of violence that marred the relationship between the Sinhala and Tamil communities.”
    Thus, the LLRC indirectly accepts that the “culture of violence” was introduced in the country NOT BY THE TAMILS, but by the Sinhalese and it was indirectly catalyzed by the Governments of Sri Lanka!
    At this juncture it is very important to note that the LLRC has not mentioned in its Report what actually caused the successive Governments of Sri Lanka to implement policies and actions that produced genuine grievances to the Tamils and other minorities of the country.
    Here the LLRC has either failed or conveniently got excused itself from talking about a very important question!
    Here only the Paragraph 28 of the UN Panel Report becomes very important. It states that:
    “After independence, political elites tended to prioritize short-term political gains, appealing to communal and ethnic sentiments, over long-term policies, which could have built an inclusive state that adequately represented the multicultural nature of the citizenry. Because of these dynamics and divisions, the formation of a unifying national identity has been greatly hampered. Meanwhile, SINHALA-BUDDHIST NATIONALISM GAINED TRACTION, ASSERTING A PRIVILEGED PLACE FOR THE SINHALESE AS THE PROTECTORS OF SRI LANKA,AS THE SACRED HOME OF BUDDHISM. THESE FACTORS RESULTED IN DEVASTATING AND ENDURING CONSEQUENCES FOR THE NATURE OF THE STATE, GOVERNANCE AND INTER-ETHNIC RELATIONS IN SRI LANKA.”
    The UN Panel Reports thus emphasizes that the ‘ROOT CAUSE’ of the problems of Lanka has been its Sinhala Buddhist nationalism based on SACRED DOCTRINE: Sinhala – Sinhalese – Buddhism – Lanka doctrine with one to one correspondence.
    Then, a very important question arises here.
    The Commission would have been well aware of the statement in paragraph – 28 of the UN Panel Report. Then Why it failed to find out and mention in its Report why the successive Governments of Sri Lanka formulated and implemented policies and actions that produced grievances to the Tamil minorities of the country?
    A logical analysis only would make us to come to the correct conclusion.
    Had the Commission analyzed and mentioned why the successive Governments of Sri Lanka formulated and implemented policies and actions that produced grievances only to the Tamil minorities that would become proof for the intentional violations of the humanitarian and human rights laws at the last stages of war and after the war by the Government and its forces!
    However, the recommendations made by the LLRC in its Report indirectly confirm that the Sri Lankan Governments have been basing their policies and actions under Sinhala – Buddhist nationalism based on the imaginary doctrine: Sinhala – Sinhalese – Buddhism – Lanka with one to one correspondence.
    We have to wait and see how the Sinhala – Theravada Buddhist nationalist, the Government and the armed forces react to the Report of the LLRC.

    a. Kusal Perera
    December 19, 2011 • 9:28 am
    Yes Uthayakumar,
    I did skip most that would keep us discussing the past. I do agree with what you have posted. But I was only interested in what the Report held for the future. That was why I picked on what the Report provided as recommendations for militarisation, devolution, civil life and administration issues and Channel4 as one that would lead to the issue of war crimes.
    My concern now is, will the R regime honour them, given their track record as a Sinhala power bloc. Here I have my doubts. And I feel the Tamil Diaspora would also drop the whole LLRC Report and stick to their “Hang the war criminals” shout.
    That would be what this R regime would also prefer. Because that would not hold this regime responsible in implementing what the Tamil people living here on the ground most need for their life. Here in North-East, if the R regime can be pushed to at least honour the recommendation on de-militarising, then half the problem would be over.
    So the issue now, as I see is, (while we could discuss those issues that relate to the past) can we get a good advocay campaign/lobby off the ground to compel this R regime to implement those recommendations. After all, it not us who say they are necessary solutions, but the very reliable Commissioners appointed by Rajapaksa himself.

    i. A. S. Uthayakumar
    December 20, 2011 • 6:18 am
    Dear Kusal Perera,
    Thanks for your reply.
    However, without identifying the ‘Root Cause’ of the problems that our country has been facing since its independence, it would not be possible for the LLRC to give correct and full advice on RECONCILIATION.
    On the other hand, without finding out whether the successive Governments of Sri Lanka have been basing their policies and actions with a certain doctrine or not, it would not be possible for the Commission to judge correctly whether the modes of military actions(using heavy weapons, Shelling hospitals, civilians, shelling no war zones etc causing deaths), methods of handling of the civilians, surrendered LTTE fighters with or without weapons during the war and post war mishandling of civilians and the surrendered LTTE fighters by the Government of Sri Lanka and the forces WERE INTENTIONAL OR NOT.
    The paragraphs 8.150 and 8.163 of the LLRC Report and some others confirm that the Governments of Sri Lanka have formulated and executed policies and actions based on a CERTAIN DOCTRINE.
    Thus, had there been any proven mass killings of both civilians and the surrendered LTTE fighters, and mishandling of the civilians and surrendered LTTE fighters, it would automatically confirm that they were carried out intentionally and human rights and humanitarian laws were violated intentionally. This is a war crime.

  • P.L.J.B.Palipana

    Thanks lot friends to find the root causes we have to go back to the history. I remember the 1977 riots against the TAMILS.There was not a root cause but to steal the valuables of innocent Tamils. Drunken deliquents broke into the buisiness entities of the Tamils in the City of Kandy and ruined their day today lives.The Police also kept silent for a long time until the destruction took place. The MOTIVE(root cause)was stealing the PRIVATE PROPERTIES of the Tamil people.Thats why I am telling always that we must have the right to live peacefully anywhere in the island.

  • Sie.Kathieravealu

    We can say that the most important “ROOT CAUSE” is the “Greediness of the Professional Politicians” who want to MAKE money through Political Power” at the “EXPENSE” of the people by duping the people

    Change the system of Governance to one that will PUSH OUT these Power-hungry Professional Politicians(PPP) from participating in the ‘governing system’.

    Create a UNIQUE SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE that would ultimately bring in GOOD GOVERNANCE by showing the way out for injustice, discrimination, oppression and corruption born due to and bred by the present system of governance that is mistakenly or mischievously termed as democratic by persons who call themselves political scientists.

    So, it is high-time we start to RETHINK in terms of a solution that would address the ASPIRATIONS ALL THE PEOPLE in the country, not just the aspirations of the Tamils, in a just and meaningful way rather than continue to criticize other people for their “faults”.

    The best political solution or system of governance to address the problems faced by various sections of the Sri Lankan society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the various categories of “minorities” who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations.