3 years on, a hurting stalemate in Sri Lanka

Picture courtesy JDS

Last month saw the official marking of three years after the end of the 28 year old war that plagued Sri Lanka, killing thousands and setting the country back in terms of development and prosperity.  Yet three years on, it seems that not much has changed.

Whilst Sri Lanka has tried to portray that there has been progress made on the ground largely in infrastructural development, critics have been quick to highlight the lack of tangible progress on reconciliation, in effect  the inertia on implementing internal recommendations for reconciliation, coupled with an ever weakening space for human rights, media expression and democratic freedom.   The recent resolutions at the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva on Sri Lanka have been testimony to this type of thinking where analysts have not only been critical that progress has been slow on the ground amidst a decline in general rights that are deemed to be core to a functioning democracy, but they have also pointed to the need to keep this on the international agenda.

This is a debatable fact and the Government is not really willing to engage on any real discussion on the issue despite the occurrences as reported in the media of kidnappings and killings. A recent interview between the defence secretary and the BBC is testimony to the extremely sensitive nature of such discussions and criticisms.

It is also not helped by the ongoing international distractions that have prevented it from addressing some of the real pressing issues. Since the end of the war, there has been pressure from parts of the international community, supported largely by many Tamil  Diaspora organizations (some of them aligned with the former LTTE rump) for ‘accountability’ on the conduct of the end of the war and the ‘alleged’ deliberate killing of  Tamil civilians by the Sri Lankan army.

This vociferous call for ‘justice’ from one section of the Tamil Diaspora community which is blatantly anti State and only interested in one thing, which at the surface is not  any  comprehensive reconciliation solution for Sri Lanka,  has been unfortunately conflated with criticisms of the country’s current status.  This lack of subtle differentiation is convenient and means that any discussions critical of the state and its governance is immediately treated with suspicion that it is being done in support of the LTTE.  It doesn’t help as well that those who are often the loudest critics of the country and the government, themselves share platforms publicly with supporters of the LTTE and the creation of a separate Tamil state.

This suspicion from the government’s perspective of any criticism of its actions is somewhat unhealthy as it views with distrust anyone who disagrees with them.  It has also become unhealthy because the real pressing issues of reconciliation, good governance and so on, are overshadowed by trying to react to these allegations and calls for ‘accountability’.

A recent discussion in London at the Frontline club, bears testimony to this ‘Push Me – Pull You’ scenario affecting Sri Lanka.  Pitting the director of the Infamous Channel 4 documentary, with someone from Amnesty International and a representative for Tamils against Genocide,  against  a Government MP and advisor, the stormy discussion ended up rehashing old ground with no actual consensus of how things can move forward and two sides clearly polarised and reacting to one another.    As a consequence, we have a hurting stalemate with no real progress.

There needs to be a change of narrative that seeks a 3rd alternative to the one that is currently being offered by both sides. The 3rd alternative has to be one that starts to look at how the country (with all its constituent communities) can move forward.

The days of looking for black cat in the dark room is over because we now know that there is no cat there

In the past, the war was a powerful unifying force, giving radical parties a platform for populist agitation and established politicians a diversion from their failure to address economic weakness, social concerns and pervasive corruption.  This shield is no longer there and the government will have to realize that there are some fundamental structural weaknesses affecting the country (in terms of bad governance, corruption and so on) which criticism off, doesn’t make one anti state.  Whilst the task of ensuring a political solution to the grievances of the minorities in a way that ensures that the country moves forward after more than 20 years of conflict, the government

will also have to realize that true reconciliation is a bottom up approach that requires acknowledgement of and engagement with all communities and their concerns.  This in particular means that there is a need to contain the extreme Sinhala Buddhist elements that seem intent on hammering the Sinhala nationalist identity home whilst playing into the hands of the detractors by affirming their criticisms of the country.  Recent incidents in Dambulla with no official reaction from the government have done little to dispel the perception of an erosion of rights for minorities in Sri Lanka.

The Tamil community mainly in the Diaspora have to also learn that by continuously appearing to repeat the narrative of organizations associated with the LTTE or even flying LTTE flags at protests and events such as what happened during the recent visit of the president to the UK,   they will do nothing apart from harden the opposition to them and the perception that they represent ‘ an LTTE rump’.  By flying the LTTE flags, these protestors show that they not only support an organisation that killed many of their own leaders and people, but was also responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers and the ethnic cleansing in the north.  This not bode well for any future discussion of reconciliation, accountability and justice for Sri Lanka.

There will also have to be a realisation that the narrative of the end of the war is not as clear cut as it seems.  If recent media reports are to be believed, a large part of the Tamil Diaspora are themselves responsible for the deaths of civilians in the conclusion of the war, when they refused to put pressure on the LTTE to release the human shields that they were holding.

So the narrative on Sri Lanka and about Sri Lanka has to change.  The Tamils genuinely believed that they were fighting for an identity and to take pride in their ability controlling their own affairs.  Though the LTTE ultimately betrayed their own people on what Tamil autonomy would entail, these

feelings cannot be blotted out by simply eliminating the LTTE but, they can be made irrelevant by the treatment Tamils (and other minorities) receive in the new Sri Lanka.  More importantly it cannot just be done by institutional measures to use Tamil language or to suggest some political autonomy but it will have to be done parallel at the grass roots level where communities need to start trusting one another and accepting them for their differences.

The building of relations of trust is important. By building these relations it is about forswearing the need for revenge and hatred but understanding that there has to be a way of stopping the cycle of unfair pain turning in one’s memory.  In order for this to happen, we have to acknowledge each other’s narrative and hear the other’s stories.  This iintellectual empathy ensures that people who are in conflict with each other will have to acknowledge that everyone has justified grievances and will also allow the disagreement of someone’s view, analysis or policy without doubting their sincerity and loyalty.

This is what we call restorative justice that does not punish nor does it condone evil and absolve the perpetrator of responsibility.  What it does is that it acknowledges that the past is the past and though it has to be honoured must not be allowed to become a ball and chain for the future.

As Ian Paisley said, ‘We must not allow our justified loathing of the horrors and tragedies of the past to become a barrier to creating a better and more stable future.  in looking to that future, we must never forget those who have suffered during the dark  period from which we are emerging’

Restorative Justice is needed not only on the ground but also with  the Diaspora of all communities, who have a lot of interest in what goes on in Sri Lanka and can be used to support post conflict community reconciliation.

Circumstances have now changed  and there is a real opportunity for great advances to be made for the country, not only in laying to rest the ghosts of the past, but to work towards a new political system and era.  Everyone is advocating for a change, tired of the cost that the conflict has inflicted upon the nation, tired of the corruption of the political system, tired of how Sri Lanka has become as a nation and society.

The question is whether communities and stakeholders will develop that 3rd alternative to go beyond the hurting stalemate or whether we will be resigned to wishful dreams of what might have been.

  • Shaun F

    “This vociferous call for ‘justice’ from one section of the Tamil Diaspora community which is blatantly anti State and only interested in one thing, which at the surface is not any comprehensive reconciliation solution for Sri Lanka, has been unfortunately conflated with criticisms of the country’s current status.”

    “By flying the LTTE flags, these protestors show that they not only support an organisation that killed many of their own leaders and people, but was also responsible for the recruitment of child soldiers and the ethnic cleansing in the north.”

    Spot on. I’m frustrated that legitimate criticism of the Government is conflated with pro-LTTE sentiment. Unfortunately, Western liberal media get duped into believing that the LTTE was a freedom struggle in the same vein as the Egyptian and Syrian opposition. As a result, the ‘rehabilitation’ of the LTTE is more successful abroad than it is at home. This is a dangerous game of the history revision.

    Diaspora Tamils need to *feel* that they have a stake in a united and plural Sri Lanka. This is difficult because of the triumphalism of the GOSL, but if they fail to rise above that they will continue to perpetuate a hardline fallacy against Sri Lankan Tamils. Simultaneously, we need to do more at home to develop and enfranchise the Tamil community – political representation by Tamils is desperately needed in order to mainstream the community within Sri Lanka. Eventually, ethnic lines should be blurred – a Tamil parliamentarian standing for all Sri Lankans for a particular political affiliation is better than a Tamil parliamentarian standing just for Tamils (the same is true for all ethnicities) – but let’s start with one step at a time. A unifying national leader is needed along the lines of the late Lakshman Kadirgama.

    • Ward

      Kadirgamar was not elected by voters. He had to satisfy Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga who chose him. He did his part very well. If only the investigation into his murder is made public …….

      • Ward

        If the President serves all the citizens justice, the Tamil diaspora will simply evaporate. But the President is only interested in:

        “If I make any devolutionary concessions to the Tamils, 13A Plus, Minus, Divided or Subtracted, it will be curtains for me” – Sri Lanka: Indian Delegates go Home Empty Handed, Kumar David, 15 June 2011, http://www.southasiaanalysis.org/papers46/paper4558.html

  • Dan Herath

    ”28 year old war that plagued Sri Lanka” …. ”after more than 20 years of conflict” ??????

    Mmmhhhh ……….

    We cannot resolve the ”conflict” unless we know what it is:

    Jayantha Dhanapala’s submission to Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission(LLRC), August 2010: ‘’Each and every Government which held office from 1948 till the present bear culpability for the failure to achieve good governance, national unity and a framework of peace, stability and economic development in which all ethnic, religious and other groups could live in security and equality. Our inability to manage our own internal affairs has led to foreign intervention but more seriously has led to the taking of arms by a desperate group of our citizens. we need to rectify this bad governance. We have already missed several opportunities in the past. We need to have State reform; we need to have rule of law established; we need to ensure non discrimination amongst our citizens; we need to have devolution of power and a tolerance of dissent and a strengthening of democratic institutions.’’

  • Peace

    The formula of 3 C’s, Consultation, Compromise and Consensus as proposed by the late President Ranasinha Premadasa is the need of the hour. President Rajapakse needs to reach out to and involve all stakeholders and facilitate a solution.
    Time is slipping away and if he does not take the initiative the opportunity will be lost. Leaving the wound to fester and heal on its own is not possible in this complicated Scenario.
    Many initiatives have already been made like APC, LLRC and swept under the carpet or consigned to the WPB. We require a more statesmanly role from the President not merely to dance to the tune of extremist elements.

  • Isha Ismail

    From the time the war was over in May 2009, this government has not been behaving the way a decent government is expected to behave(leaving alone all what happened in the previous 40 months):
    ‘’….
    IDP’s being denied access to their former places of residence
    Challenging the right to title of the properties traditionally owned and /or occupied persons living in conflict affected areas
    Large tracts of previously occupied lands being demarcated as high security zones
    Unjustified land acquisitions on security considerations but allocated for non security related purposes
    The publicly announced resettlement benefits to internally displaced persons not being distributed equitably and in line with the announced scheme
    Lack of basic amenities like water, sanitation, power and proper housing for the newly resettled families
    Resource allocation not determined on community priorities and allocated without consultation and outside the need base and at times missing the most vulnerable and in need, possibly due to identity based biases
    Some areas like Jaffna receiving more than necessary resource allocations and peripheral areas lacking in even basic allocations
    Preventing willing and capable NGO’s/INGO’s, international community and Diaspora from helping people in need at their most vulnerable moment of need
    Building of new permanent military cantonments with residential facilities for military personnel and their families
    Plans to settle majority community families in order to change the traditional area demography otherwise than by natural development oriented migration
    Arbitrary arrests and detention in the post war period as well
    Continuing active engagement of unauthorized armed groups
    Continuing disappearances of civilians
    List of persons in custody, camps and detention centres not being made public
    Failure to assist families in tracing missing persons
    Negative impact on civilians during the conflict due military excesses
    Unease of single women headed families fearing for their safety in the presence of large number of armed personnel of the forces
    Removal of burial sites of persons affected by the conflict
    Some important cultural, religious and remembrance sites being damaged and destroyed
    Disrespect shown by visitors to holy sites and sites held in high esteem by resident communities
    Free availability of liquor, cigarettes and narcotics
    Emerging consumerism promoted by business houses who fail to participate in adding value to the civilian communities
    Savings of the region being channelled to other areas whilst unmet needs of area community remain
    Decision making in the hands of the military or officials from the Central Government. .…’’ – Submission before Lessons Learnt & Reconciliation Committee (LLRC) by Chandra Jayaratne, 23 September 2010

    Things have only been worsening in the Northeast up to now.

    Is there any room/reason for the oppressed to trust the government?

    • http://--- punchinilame

      Did you forget the National Anthem in Sinhala only as opposed to
      what it was despite the LLRC mentioning it?

    • Shiva

      Thanks Isha Ismail for your analysis.

      Tamils and other minorities are dealing with an alleged war criminal Rajapaske regime and not a democratic government.

      Mosques, Hindu temples and Churches will be destroyed to build Buddhist temples. What does it show?

      It is the failure of the International Community and more importantly Indian UPA regime that allows the Rajapakse regime continue to commit crimes against humanity.

  • Isha Ismail

    Destruction of temples and mosques, putting up Buddha statues all over the country, even in areas where there are no Buddhists, military administration and control of association and expression, occupation army barging into ALL private functions, vandalising the environment in all possible ways, lawlessness created and tolerated, ….

    Asking the people under the crushing boots for TRUST-building is itself oppressive.

    Good governance will move the diaspora to some other pastime.

    • Isha Ismail

      Relegation of ”reconciliation” left to concrete structures and not the tender hearts of Buddhists????

      http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=13&artid=35294
      Muslims, Christinas and Hindus in this area don’t disrespect Buddha but they want the Buddhism principles in governance of the government !!

  • Leela

    Though a resolution has been passed in HR commission Geneva, voting was not based on reality check but power politics. The resolution insists Sri Lanka implement its own commission report. There were 280 or so recommendations. How many countries would have time to go through all those 280 LLRC recommendations and have bothered to understand which ones are already or are being implemented before they voted? Most countries have just followed the bullies. That’s how the US won.

    Anyway, that resolution was no HR issue; it’s a clear the US bully tactic to undermine our sovereign keep China out and and get us under. Just read various write ups on Hambantota harbour during the last few years. If the US and its accomplices wanted to investigate true Human Rights violations of Sri Lanka war with LTTE why is it that they wanted to investigate only the end days? Clearly the US never wanted to investigate from the day that ITAK publicly declared the war, 14th May 1976 though its boys, LTTE had blasted 384 human bombs in our buses, trains and public places killing and maiming thousands of civilians since.

    Leave out India voting against its own stated principal and supporting the resolution for its Tamil Nadu partners would have otherwise toppled the government, one can understand from the voting pattern of each and every country whether this resolution is about HR issue or political principles.

    All the white, ex or neo-colonialists, their lap dogs and countries that were under their duress had supported the resolution. But all the nearby Asian countries and countries that were against the US and the countries that have close relation with Sri Lanka had not backed it. Meaning the resolution is a political issue and not a Human Right issue.

    LTTE wasn’t ambiguous on Tamils autonomy; it clearly articulated what it wants in its ISGA proposal. TNA was formed with many Tamil parties joining together. And, Tamils had elected the TNA after submitting that proposal. And TNA declared that LTTE were the sole representatives of Tamils. So, I agree with writer’s intimation that “The Tamils genuinely believed that they were fighting for an identity and to take pride in their ability controlling their own affairs.” Tamils wanted ISGA then and TNA want it (soaring aspirations) now. No point writer trying to pull other minorities to it for we never hear them talk about their ‘soaring aspirations’.

    Then the writer writes some jargon and tries to confuse the reader. “… LTTE ultimately betrayed their own people on what Tamil autonomy would entail ….” Truth is; LTTE never change its goal. LTTE hanged on to it until it was buried in Nanthikadal. Tamils never wanted LTTE to change it either. Just read comments in jayaraj’s sites before it was closed for comments. Tamil Diaspora only wanted to save LTTE for them to fight for it on another day. I noticed that even Jayaraj backed LTTE at hart.

    What nonsense this writer is talking about. “… it cannot just be done by institutional measures to use Tamil language or to suggest some political autonomy ….” I thought Tamils said they have grievances and that is what it led to develop aspiration – Eelam. All this time I thought we have redress Tamil grievances. If trusting one another and accepting them for their differences is what Tamils want then aspirations shouldn’t have arisen at all for we have been trusting Tamils all along.
    Leela.

    • rita

      Leela
      Are you following what has been happening in Sri Lanka in the last 64+ years?
      For example, for decades successive governments have been controlling damage at the UN by ”appointing commissions” whenever they have been questioned on their violations of human rights of ethnic minorities.
      In the last six years alone 8 commissions and 7 committees have been appointed the reports of which the President is refusing to make public:
      http://www.scribd.com/doc/85007346/A-List-of-Commissions-of-Inquiry-and-Committees-Appointed-by-the-Government-of-Sri-Lanka-2006-%E2%80%93-2012

      • Leela

        rita: Tell me one country that had implemented every recommendation of commissions that it appointed.

        Just look at the promise made by the captain of the epitome of the democracy, Mr. Obama to close Guantanamo Bay prison not only at his campaign trail but also at his inauguration ceremony. After three years that incarcerating place is still there and inmates are still being tortured.

        Not just that, look at Israel; it hadn’t implemented its own commission findings with the US backing. I too do not disagree with them for it is the business of the government to accept or reject commission reports. Only the US forked tong I hate.
        Leela

    • silva

      Leela
      I’ve seen children get together and build ledo structures or other structures from ”building blocks” and a bully comes along and knocks down everything.

      ”All this time I thought we have redress Tamil grievances” ?

      That’s the one thing all the successive governments have been working against – ”behind the scenes”:

      We’ve Tamil Special Provisions Act, Official Languages Dept, Foreign Aid to implement Official Languages, etc. But we DO NOT implement anything to do with Tamil as Official Language: one of many examples:
      explaining it:
      Reflections on Issues of Language in Sri Lanka: Power, Exclusion and Inclusion, 24 October 2011,
      http://groundviews.org/2011/10/24/reflections-on-issues-of-language-in-sri-lanka-power-exclusion-and-inclusion/

      Many retired civil servants went and told LLRC about how they never implemented Tamil as Official Language Act.

      Checking Prof Sasanka Perera’s research isn’t difficult for ordinary citizens coming in contact with Tamils.

      This is only one grievance.

      • Leela

        silva,
        “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” I fully agree with what prof. Perera wrote.

        My question is; Tamils accepted English as their official language for one hundred and fifty years without a single revolt, and for another one hundred and fifty years before that they accepted Dutch as their official language, and before that portuguese as their official language for another hundred years or so. Expecting to implement ‘Tamil Special Provisions Act’ in a fraction of that time is not realistic if not practical.

        Besides, without resorting to satyagraha and violence, Tamils of the north should have joined the government of the day and help themselves to solve their problems just like the way Thondaman senior did about citizenship and other issues of his people.
        Leela

      • wijayapala

        Dear Leela

        My question is; Tamils accepted English as their official language for one hundred and fifty years without a single revolt,

        They accepted it for the same reason why the Sinhalese accepted it during the colonial era. The “revolt” occurred because the Tamils were being excluded from their language rights while the Sinhalese received theirs.

        Besides, without resorting to satyagraha and violence, Tamils of the north should have joined the government of the day

        ITAK did join Dudley Senanayake’s government in the late 1960s. And before asking the Tamils why they chose violence, you should first answer why Sinhala thugs attacked Tamils without provocation in 1956, 1958, and 1977.

      • Leela

        wijayapala,
        I accept that Sinhala thugs attacked innocent Tamils in 1958 but I never heard of a riot in 1956. Do you know the Mother of all riots and who started it all.

        Let me explain it like this: DBS Jayaraj wrote an unknown man named Visvalingam had first mooted for the division of Sri Lanka which he called ‘Elom’ in the 1920s. That was the time, Tamils were favourites of the British Raj and held most government jobs and Ramanathans and Ponnambalams were thinking that Vellalahs were the intelligent and the ruling class of future and Sinhalas the ‘modayas’ – fools.

        It was evident from what GG Ponnambalam said in Nawalapitiya. He boasted; “The great Sinhala kings are Tamils. The Sinhalese were a nation from the hybridization of small class of people from the north India. They were a nation of hybrids without history.” It is that racist statement by Ponnambalam that caused to start the first Tamil-Sinhala riots in Nawalapitiya in 1939.

        We all know who and what started riots in 1983. It was by LTTE killing 13 soldiers. They tried to provoke us with same tactics many a times like killing pilgrims in Anuradhapura, attacking Dalada Maligawa and killing and maiming many civilians at very many places. But they failed to provoke us for over thirty years.

        What I meant by revolt is unlike Sinhalese Tamils never rebelled against Portuguese colonisers to chase them out or tried to take back their Ariya Chakrawarthi kingdom seriously once they lost it in 1619. Tamils only did the pakkili service or yes sir, no sir tee back full to all three colonisers. Why?
        Leela

  • Ravana

    Great article and great comments. Hope this bodes well. How about a Sri Lankan Spring. Sinhala leaders (even the moderates) have failed to mobilise the Sinhala masses to do the right thing. Thirty percent of Sri Lankans are “minorities”. How about some of them providing “Sri Lankan” leadership rather than a communal one?

    If so, you would only need 40% of the Sinhala Buddhist majority to make up the required national majority. I am optimistic that this is achievable. Imagine! A Muslim or Christian leader of a secular Sri Lanka!!

    (BTW, I am neither from a Muslim nor Christian background. I simply don’t care who the leader is as long as s/he has limited power and is not a nepotist/communalist).

  • Ward

    It’s precisely geopolitics that has been blocking the UN and the Commonwealth from serving justice to the oppressed (including those in Sri Lanka) around the world for decades.
    Even in a case like 1983 Black July, Geopolitics protected Sri Lanka:

    UN SUB COMMISSION ON PREVENTION OF DISCRIMINATION AND PROTECTION OF MINORITIES – 35TH SESSIONS, AUGUST 1983: “….there were also political currents observable in the alignment of members, though I could not altogether fathom the geo political considerations involved. In the end a very mild resolution was passed calling for *information from the Sri Lanka government and recommending that the commission examine the situation at the next meeting in the light of the information available. There was, however, only a bare majority for the resolution (10 for, 8 against and 4 abstaining). It is unfortunate that the United Nations did not take a firm stand at this stage…” Leo Kuper in his book, Prevention of Genocide (1985)

    • Ward

      This is a reply to Leela.

    • Bira

      That is because J.R.’s Govt was friendly with the West. Now it is the other way around. You can see how the West can influence the UN and it’s Organisations as they wish.

      I think it was Mr. Boutros-Ghali who went against the USA, and his re-election bid for UNSG’s post was vetoed by the USA.

  • Bira

    ” The Government will also have to realize that true reconciliation is a bottom up approach that requires acknowledgement of and engagement with all communities and their concerns”

    “Circumstances have now changed and there is a real opportunity for great advances to be made for the country, not only in laying to rest the ghosts of the past, but to work towards a new political system and era. Everyone is advocating for a change, tired of the cost that the conflict has inflicted upon the nation, tired of the corruption of the political system, tired of how Sri Lanka has become as a nation and society.”

    I have written a couple of posts before on this. It should start with people-to-people contact upwards; the govt. has failed in this. Now we, the citizens have to take the lead in burying the past and working for reconcilliation, mindful of grievances of everyone. Sinhalese and Muslims too have deep rooted grievances.

    First, we have to identify the problems-some are very complex in nature. If we don’t know what the problems are, we can never even begin to put them right.

    Lets start at the beginning without just blogging and rehashing what we know already. We can start by cataloging the problems. If not, we are just wasting our time, while the Country is screaming away like a runaway train.

    Thank you for the well written Comment Dr. Saleem.

  • silva

    Bira
    I cannot agree with you enough.
    Instead of forming new groups, people like Friday Forum should take more action involving many more at the grassroots.
    ”Not in my name” signature campaign is only a token – that must be followed with more practical action now.
    Possible starting point could be demanding the release of reports of the last six years mentioned by rita.

  • Don Quixote

    This is no stalemate. A stalemate is when there is no room to move. The great pity about the current situation is that no advantage has been taken from a comprehensive victory or a chekmate !

    The Government had all the advantages in hand but not ability nor the intellect to take advantage of them.

  • Concerned

    People want peace but unfortunately we leave everything to the politicians. They make the rules and run the show. Majority of our people are rural folks who hardly know what is happening in the country except what they hear on radio, tv and read at the corner newspaper shop.
    Their lifes center on their day to day existance, working, earning a pittance and educating their kids. They dont mind spending hours waiting in a queue, bus or train travelling to work etc. There only solace may be a glass of cheers end of the day. When the elections come around they vote for whoever make the most promises.
    Few of us speak up or express our opinions but nothing that will help change the course or life styles of our [edited out] politicians. They have the thickest skins ever and think they are born and destined to rule our lives.
    So it is unlikely that anything like the arab spring is going to happen here. Nothing like a few live rounds, white vans or arrests to cure such sentiments. So maybe we are doomed to live as a backward nation plagued by uncertainity.
    Of course these are ideal conditions for corruption, fraud, nepotism, racism etc. Promoted by a few for their own benefit and prosperity.

    • Leela

      For those of us who think the west is a utopia and is the ideal model, ours is a backward nation. But there have been many from occidental cultures that have come to the orient to tag on to our way of life. I consider I too am a rural folk for I have been living in the midst of a remote village now. But I see no ignorant people or the type you have had in your mind here anymore. If they vote for the one who made most promises, then they should have voted Fonseka for he promised Rs.10,000/- hike immediately.

      Those Arabs that seek a spring didn’t know that they were in for a rude shock. They didn’t realize that their culture that has been brought about by a stiff religion and stood firm for more than one and a half millennium cannot be altered overnight. It is clear now that Arab spring is a damp squib and a bitter winter. But it is no doubt a spring for F, UK the US, the so called international clique.

      Those anglophiles who have subservient mindset to serve neo-colonialists may want to bring about pandemonium here as well. But, they should know that we are neither Arabs nor have we an aged old dictator ruling us. With white or black vans, we have an established democracy and another election is due soon. Alas and alack, you lot cannot incite Arab spring here.
      Leela

      • wijayapala

        Leela

        But I see no ignorant people or the type you have had in your mind here anymore.

        Then who voted Mervyn Silva into parliament?

      • Leela

        That of cause is a baffle for me as well wijepala.

      • Goviya

        Maybe it is OK for some people to live like hamu’s in the village and have another house in Colombo and another in London. What is really happening is that these rural people are being deceived and kept in a backward state so that a few families can plunder the country.
        All these so called rural patriots are night clubbing and roistering in Colombo and the West. Their children are being educated in international schools and in universities in the west while these people potray a saintly patriotic image to the gullible public.

  • alex fernando

    For decades progress on reconciliation was apparently on hold due to armed Tamil insurgencies (not sure what the excuse was in the decades before the insurgencies arose). Now even waving flags (Tiger or Tamil?) appears to be the latest excuse to stall reconciliation.

    Hmmm … whatever excuse next? Time for Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and IC to see the Sri lankan govt for what they really are. Only good news is that the US and allies have finally called time on the era of chauvinist procrastination.

  • http://www.nakkeran.com Nakkeeran

    It is nonsensical to claim that Thamils accepted Portuguese, Dutch and English. No one studied Portuguese or Dutch since they were not taught in schools. As for English only 10% of the Thamil population studied English and gained proficiency. So did the Sinhalese. For the information of Leela unlike Sinhalese who took Portuguese, Dutch and English names very few Thamils did. Thamils have no names like Perera, Fonseka, Silva which are foreign. While Sinhalese kingdom Kotte fell to the Portuguese or ceded to the Portuguese in 1529 while the Jaffna Kingdom which resisted Portuguese rule lasted till 1619. By the way the imaginary Vijeya was not a Sinhalese. He is a mixture of Kalinga (Orissa) and Vanga (Bengal) and what more he was a Hindu!

    • Leela

      What nonsense Nakkeeran is talking that “Tamils have no names like Perera, Fonseka, Silva which are foreign.” Be it few or more, how about Hoole, John Stanilouse and etc etc. Go to east you can collect a whole hoard of names to add to that list.

      Get you facts right Nakkeeran. Kotte kingdom wasn’t ceaded to Portuguese in 1529. King Dharmapala wrote a will to king of portugal in the 1560s. In fact, Mayadunne overran Kotte in 1564. Afer Mayadunne died, his son, Rajasinghe 1 became king in 1582. He laid a siege on Portuguese fort of Colombo for twenty-two months.

      What happened to Kotte kingdom was vividly illustrated in ‘Wijayaba Kollaya (spoiling)’. King Wijayabahu’s three sons killed the father and divided the kingdom in to three. Most powerful of the three Mayadunne who ruled from ‘Sitawaka’ had annexed the other two by 1582 including the entire country in east coast from Passikuda to Galle and west coast from Wilpattu coast to Negambo. So much so, Portuguese controlled only a narrow stretch from Negambo to Galle at that time and Jaffna kingdom covered only north of Vipattu, Vaunia, Passikuda axis.

      From where do you get the idea that Wijaya is a Sinhala? Sinhalas were evolved much later from descendents of Wijaya mixed with local tribes such as Yaksa, Naga, Raksa and Deva etc.
      Leela

      • Leela

        wijayapala,
        ‘Passikuda’ I have written above in third paragraph should be replaced by Mulathivu. Sorry for the mistake.

      • wijayapala

        Hi Leela, sorry I’m answering your earlier question here, I had missed it.

        I accept that Sinhala thugs attacked innocent Tamils in 1958 but I never heard of a riot in 1956.

        Sinhala mobs attacked an ITAK satyagraha in Colombo protesting the Sinhala-Only Act. Although the police clamped down on the attacks, the violence spread to Gal Oya where allegedly 100 Tamils were killed.

        It is that racist statement by Ponnambalam that caused to start the first Tamil-Sinhala riots in Nawalapitiya in 1939.

        Why do Sinhala people allow such a disgusting violent reaction when a Tamil leader says stupid things but himself did not instigate violence against Sinhalese? That is my question. Does that mean that Tamils or Muslims in Eastern Province have a right to attack ordinary Sinhalese whenever JHU says something ugly about them?

        What I meant by revolt is unlike Sinhalese Tamils never rebelled against Portuguese colonisers to chase them out or tried to take back their Ariya Chakrawarthi kingdom seriously once they lost it in 1619.

        Please correct me if I am wrong, but the low-country Sinhalese in Kotte never rose up against the Portuguese. It was only the Sinhalese living in places not occupied by the Portuguese like Sitawaka and Kandy who fought.

  • SomeOne

    Dear Wijayapala,

    “…Then who voted Mervyn Silva into parliament..”

    People have no option other than picking Mervyn Silva.

    They (People) had to choose one out of the “available-lot”

    Thank you.

  • Leela

    Perhaps you have a point wijayapala, Sinhalese shouldn’t have started riots in Nawalapitiya. I have met GGP several times in the early sixties when I was kid. I still remember he was brimming with pride and self-importance. I have this gut feeling that that utterance wasn’t a stupid move. On the contrary, it could have been a calculated move for some gain. In any case, what I have been trying project here was the intuitive superiority complex of all Vellalahs at the time.

    As for your query on whether Sinhalese in the south ever rose up against Portuguese, I say it depend on the situation. The very fact that Kotte kingdom was divided between three sons after ‘Wijayaba kollaya’ and Mayadunne eventually defeated his siblings, and Buwanekabahu and his son, Dharmapala who sought Portuguese help were defeated show Sinhalas in the south may have risen up against colonials. Also Mayadunne’s son Rajasinghe 1 couldn’t have siege Colombo fort for 22 months if Sinhalese in the south hadn’t joined forces against Portuguese.
    Leela

  • alex f

    The frightening element of this article is how little focus is given to the responsibilities of the Sri Lankan state. It places blame for the ‘failure of reconciliation’ squarely on the shoulders of a section of the Tamil community. Rajapakse himself couldn’t have written a better article.