AFTER A LONG JOURNEY HOME: SOLITUDE IN JAFFNA AND THE SILENCE OF A CITY

[Editors note: Dr. Rajini Thiranagama (née Rajasingham), was a Tamil human rights activist and feminist murdered in 1989 by the LTTE. She was one of the founding members of the University Teachers for Human Rights, Jaffna, which during the war, published some of the most hard hitting critiques and exposes of Government as well as LTTE atrocities and human rights violations. Since 2009, Dayapala Thiranagama's insightful articles to Groundviews have been amongst the site's most read and shared].

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This summer, after 23 long years, I drove to Jaffna from Galle with my eldest daughter. We travelled through the heart of Sri Lanka on the A9 road, passing Kandy, Matale, Dambulla and Kekirawa. We drove past areas where I had worked in 1986 as a member of the Vikalpa Kandayama (Alternative Group), laying down an underground political structure. At the time, I had left my academic job in the university to do fulltime political work and was confronted by two great dangers: increasing political repression from the UNP government on the one hand and the JVP’s second insurrection on the other. In my journey from the place of my birth, Galle, to Jaffna in the north, I retraced my own political journey in Sri Lanka to its conclusion, the grave of my wife Rajani.

Starting a family in Jaffna with Rajani, in the midst of the Tamil community was a life enriching experience. Having two young daughters added happiness and an extra stability for us. However, the apparent tranquillity in Jaffna could not be taken for granted. The subsequent years the situation began to change from bad to worse.  We never expected that the life was going to be smooth but we never envisaged what was to follow. The war and its horrors that tore apart so many family lives made a lasting impact on the whole community.  Returning to Jaffna again to painfully revisit the past was a difficult experience.

The Jaffna I returned to this year after long 23 years has been marked by war and atrocity, not just in its crumbling infrastructure and its bombed out buildings but also its social fabric. Our old neighbourhood has completely disappeared and the buildings that remain empty have walls marked by the bullets. New owners occupy some houses but my local friends have simply disappeared. The middle classes who were once so dominant in Jaffna society are no longer visible. It is as if two or three generations of people have simply gone missing. The city itself looks subdued and grim, showing the effects of decades of stagnation in comparison with the cities we were passing on the A9 from Kandy onwards. Even Killinochi appears to be developing faster, powered perhaps by behind the scenes political patronage, and could soon be outbidding Jaffna as a commercial centre.

Jaffna as a living city, a centre of economic, political and social activity was destroyed from within, and without, conquered repeatedly by those who claimed to be its liberators. The city I knew as Jaffna started losing its soul and its pluralistic character in that violent moment when the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) forcibly evicted its Muslim population within 24 hours in October 1990.  This tragedy for Jaffna and the Tamil people cannot solely be attributed to the LTTE’s political ruthlessness. It was an aggressive statement of intent about the LTTE’s vision of Tamil Eelam, the annexation of Tamil nationalism into the personal project of the LTTE and its leader, Prabhakharan. In an almost parallel development they expelled Muslims from Jaffna, destroyed all other militant groups, assassinated the Tamil political leaders in the Tamil Liberation United Front (TULF) as well as the members of Left parties, forcibly recruited children to carry out their political crimes and gunned down its vocal critics without any mercy.

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the silent partner of the LTTE political criminality was fully behind this process. There was no one who was able to stand up for the rights of the Tamil community against the LTTE’s extreme political violence and political suppression that had been confounded by the despair and darkness of the Tamil community’s plight. Within the climate of fear that settled over Jaffna, the LTTE were able to intimidate many people into remaining silent, using the public executions of dissenters as a terrifying warning.

My daughter told me that during the late 1980s, people in Jaffna joked that when a knock came on the door at midnight, families would inquire carefully, “who is it?” only to be asked in return “who do you want it to be?”

After returning to Jaffna in Nallur for more than two decades, I feel ‘free’ but the happy family home I had known now resounds with silence. At each turning of this empty house now, I exist in an illusion of a few seconds trying hear Rajani’s voice until my body is enveloped with the renewed knowledge of her death. The family we had tried to create together with our young daughters was a place where ethnic, linguistic religious and cultural differences were acknowledged and respected, where our common and deep humanity could be expressed. The war the LTTE conducted for nearly three decades, in fact, was fought against such fundamental ideals, destroying a vision that belonged to the humanity of evolving social relationships. In the fate of its most tragic victims, Sri Lanka’s civil war ultimately became one fought between two contrasting ideas, between those who were willing to commit any kind of atrocity for their own goals and the other, which affirmed the sanctity of life. In the frontlines of this war, guerrillas and soldiers were confronted by students, children, housewives, doctors, teachers, ordinary men and women from all walks of life who were suddenly thrust into the front line of a battle they had never signed up for and which they could not escape even in their own homes or their minds.

In today’s Jaffna, keeping the city under political and military strangulation appears to be a key political objective. Even after three years of comprehensively defeating the LTTE, you suddenly bump into armed patrols from nowhere when you are going around, that shows who is in charge. This kind of tight grip on the city appears to serve twin military and political objectives: Firstly, the view of the UPFA government is that any military revival of the LTTE could be nipped in the bud. Secondly, the devolution of power to the Tami community could be postponed to satisfy the Sinhala Buddhist supremacist fears that it would pave the way for separation. We have reached a stage where such military and political fears could be reasonably dealt only with the implementation of the 13th Amendment without further delay. The Sinhalese leadership has never been able to understand in strategic terms that not all the Tamils are Tiger supporters or sympathetic to their demand for a separate state but yet, there are genuine grievances that need to be resolved. This failure has cost the country politically in the past and will be further damaged ethnic harmony leading to dangerous political polarization, if the current impasse continues. The hopelessness of the Tamil community is facing at present after the war shows when hundreds of people attempting to flee the country every day even with young children by impoverish fishing boats to Australia. The economic development is important but the issues arsing from national oppression will not be resolved only by economic development alone.

The best course of action is both the government and the TNA to return to the negotiating table and resume negotiation. If the TNA expects to make alliances with other political parties in the South and negotiate with them when they come to power that will be a non-starter. The possibility of the UPFA’s electoral defeat in the immediate future or at the next election is remote. Their electoral base remains stable. The UNP, the main opposition party is hopelessly divided and bickering at present and they look like a hopeless coalition that is trying survive rather than a united political party. Their electoral base is severally restricted due to numerous internal divisions. Other opposition parties, like the JVP and their splinter group, the FSP (Frontline Socialist Party) have lost their electoral base and are unable to make any influence in a regime change. Even if they have any political clout, it should be noted that they are the sworn enemies of the devolution of power to the Tamil community. Despite the UPFA’s government’s right abuses, the culture of impunity, corruption and authoritarian tendencies, any replication of an Arab spring type regime change would not be possible because the people still have faith in parliamentary elections for a change of government. At present, any such expectation emanates from incredible political naivety on the pat of the political opposition and their lack of ideas to forge a joint political programme. Therefore, the TNA’s best bet is to return to the negotiation table.

The TNA has a responsibility to renounce political violence as they had associated with the LTTE. When the LTTE began to use the brute force against their unarmed critics and murdered them, when they recruited child soldiers by force, and when they expelled Muslims from Jaffna in pursuit of ethnic cleansing within 24 hours, the TNA’s silence was unforgiveable. It is a profound political mistake on our part to let the TNA get away with this. This is very important to heal wounds within the Tamil community or to achieve internal reconciliation. This also would ensure that they would not support any kind of murderous violent politics in the community in the future. It would have been more significant, and politically worthwhile and brave for the TNA to make a public apology for all the political mistakes they have done rather than to show the national flag on the stage when they had the May Day rally in Jaffna with Rail Wickramasinghe, the UNP leader. But this is not forth coming.

After the war particularly during peacetime, the Sri Lanka needs leaders who are able rise above the tribal politics in both communities and resolve the issues because further polarizations of the community divide will not pave the way for the durable peace. Unfortunately, there are no such great leaders in the country today. Vijaya Kumaratunga would have been such a leader if he was alive today but the JVP assassinated him because of his support for the devolution of power to the Tamil community.

The Jaffna and its suburbs looks a city that has been conquered and its gloom is epitomised by the helplessness of the Tamil community. It has suffered from two conquering forces: the LTTE and the government armed forces. After three decades of the brutal war the Sinhala leadership has not shown any appetite for a political solution. It appears that the party, which defeated the Tamil Tigers, are not likely to be the party that will work to win the peace. Similarly, the TNA being a proxy to the Tamil Tigers, even after the defeat, have not shown their ability to work for compromises and throw away the ambiguous political rhetoric and the language of separation. Both parties should understand that their inflexibility and the sticking to the tribal loyalties would cost the both communities dearly. They have a primary responsibility to do whatever possible to stop repeating the horrors of personal tragedies that will cost the lives of innocent people. That requires a political solution that is acceptable to both communities as a positive start. The grandiose economic projects alone will not give a community their dignity and political rights.

I had undertaken this journey to visit Rajani’s grave for the first time. Engraved on the tombstone were the words chosen by her mother Mahila Ruppiam, a devout Christian: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. She outlived her daughter by nearly two decades and her ashes are now buried with her.  I wondered, when I read those words, whether she had chosen those words as a rebuke to the LTTE and their fervent supporters who had denounced her daughter as a ‘traitor’ to the Tamil people, declared her as an outcast from Tamil Eelam and then brutally murdered her.

My personal experience of the war and the unbearable loss my family had to undergo is no way unique. The war has brought unspeakable horrors, destruction and death to hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children in both communities over three decades including the final days of the war. We will never know their stories particularly those innocent civilians who perished at Vellimullaivikkal.  At least, I know where Rajani was buried. I had a home to return to. When we left Jaffna after a short stay those were the selfish thoughts that gave me some comfort.

  • Pro Bono Publico

    Well written and i can only listen to your grief as a fellow Lankan and hope for a better tommorow where all are equal and religion and race ceases to tools to dominate others

    • Amaraweera

      BZ an excellent report we Sri Lankans greatly appreciate your views. I have sacrifice my best part of my life in the conflict. We should act collectively to overcome this unwarranted conflict which both parties had abundance to share in this lovely country. Both Tamil and Sinhala leadership should forget the past and reunite to develop our country.If not both parties may disintegrate from this country.

    • jangi hora

      This is a beautiful read. However I felt that this particular para, starting with “kind of tight grip on the city appears to serve twin military and political objectives: ” was a little bit simplistic in its analysis. The situation in Sri Lanka is far more complex.

      But loved this piece nevertheless

  • Citizen

    Good analysis of the present situation. TNA should take heed and adopt a more concilliatory attitude and negotiate with the Govt. Dont depend on Ranil and Hakeem to solve your problems.

    • Naman

      Can a Sinhalese enumerate the problems the Tamils face in Sri Lanka and give their ways of solving it?
      What is most important is to find what is in the mind of Gota!

  • Concerned

    Excellent. Rewarding to know that their are still a few Sri lankans left that see the bigger picture.

  • Usha S Sri-Skanda-Rajah

    As a Tamil I say sorry to Dayapala Thiranagama. I can feel his pain and this comes from the bottom of my heart. But I am convinced more than ever of the case for Tamil Eelam.

    • Realist

      Convinced more than ever that should in Tamil Nadu.

    • Anpu

      I too feel very sorry for Dayapala’s family. Supportive materials for Usha’s “..But I am convinced more than ever of the case for Tamil Eelam.” http://tamilnation.co/saty/061026gettingtoyes.htm Perhaps it needs updating.

  • Chanuka

    From one army to another. Well balanced-touching story.being a sinhalese i’d be lying if i say i understand your grief.atleast i try to..

  • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

    A balanced, realistic, mature, independent, but by no means uncommitted perspective. The most thoughtful contemporary political report available. Deserves the widest dissemination and reading.

    • Anpu

      I beg to differ. It is not a balanced article – it did not attack the the successive govts (including the current one which murdered many thousands of Tamils) as much as it did TNA. http://www.sangam.org/2011/04/Track_Record.pdf.crdownload

    • Lanka Liar

      Yea well balanced because he blames the government then to balance it blames the TNA. That is not balancing, it is eccentric balancing pretty difficult act.

  • Dr Mahesh Nirmalan

    Dear Daya, thank you very much for this personal account. Developing a true Sri lankan identity – which is inclusive and trilingual is the only way forwards. I was in Sri Lanka very recently and I must confess that – contrary to what we read, the government does seem to be moving in the right direction…….The official languages act seemed to be implemented wherever one goes- road signs, airports etc…… The rise of commercialism and consumerism seemed to be marginalising the “Sinhala right” and the “Glorious past” slowly but surely……. People who vowed to destroy the Dambulla Mosque within a few days have not been able to do so……I and a group of my Tamil/Muslim friends spent an evening at the SSC chatting away in Tamil and no one seemed to bother……..visual symbols of Sri Lanka (in tourist promotion sites) seemed to include images that the Tamils could identify with…….the list was endless. The Sri Lankan Airlines had even done an article on “Mavattapuram Kandasamy Temple” in its August issue and another piece on the “Elephants of Minneriya” in pristine Tamil. Most of my childhood friends from Bandarawela have risen from the ashes of 83 to become leading businessmen in Colombo…..at least the system has allowed/ enabled them to do so.

    Injustice was evident at several levels and in such a mileu the more vulnerable groups bear the brunt, but that cannot be seen as an ethnic issue. Of course I am a person who sees the glass half full always and hence has the tendency to see the positive sides only…..a sort of wishful thinker. I live in eternal hope!!

    But thanks again for your vision and thanks for what you and Rajini stood for.
    Mahesh Nirmalan
    Manchester

    • Lanka Liar

      Glass can be full or empty. But when your purse get full because of your comment it is business worth doing. Many Tamils are in this business and they do very well. If you want to see the real problem just speak to a mother who is waiting to know whether her son is alive or not. To a father who is unable to find out his sons grave yard. To a young widow who had been raped. To a farmer whose land has been taken away. Some people refuse to see the truth. they are not blind but they are in business. Pretty pathetic. Please keep away from Daya – a sincere human being trying to find answers and yearning for help to the people among who he lived.

      • Pacha Epa

        Lanka Liar:
        Thanks for speaking from your heart and from your head as well. Your comments had the unmistakeable ring of truth and we all owe you for that.

    • Agnos

      Nirmalan,

      “…contrary to what we read, the government does seem to be moving in the right direction.”

      Of course, the regime’s white vans unerringly move toward their targets in the “right direction.”

      You talk about the success of businessmen who were your childhood friends. So where did the white vans take businessman Ramasamy Prabhakaran?

  • Dev

    So many proposals have come and gone, the 13th amendment is part of our constitution yet it is not properly implemented.

    The LLRC document sits and gathers dust, even its zero cost (politically and financially) recommendations remain just that.

    Now the PSC, this is another cycle of talks, leading to nowhere, right now they are stalled, I suspect they might get activated in time for the periodic review at the UN only to go back to sleep till next years commonwealth summit.

    • Anpu

      I agree with Dev.

  • LankTy

    Daya I agree with you mostly. For one reason or the other LTTE was able to silence the whole Tamil community including the TNA. They even eliminated many TNA leaders and the TNA remained silent because of fear.So you cannot blame them for not speaking out. Well after the war if they spoke out against the LTTE it would be seen as supporting the other murderers ie the government. As most of the Sinhalese do – when a wrong thing happen you try to balance it with another how unreasonable it may be. But I owe you an apology for what happened to your family because I am a Tamil. Has the other party exhibited any such feeling for the thousand of innocent Tamils who were slaughtered. Instead they have recruited all the thugs and criminals in the Tamil community and call them leaders. That is why you don’t see the Tamilness in Jaffna – that too is because of fear. If they are removed the fear in Tamils too will vanish.

    • Dev

      eloquently put LankTy !

    • Anpu

      Well said LankTy and I would like to add
      “…The LTTE did not come into being or grow into a world-class terror outfit in a vacuum. Without the Sinhala Only, the Tiger may have remained unborn. Without the Black July, the Tiger may not have grown exponentially. If the B-C Pact and the D-C Pact did not miscarry (thanks to the midwifery of Sinhala extremism), the LTTE, even if it was born, would have remained a fringe group…” http://www.thesundayleader.lk/2011/10/30/oppressed-north-lawless-south/

  • truth

    What LankTy said is 100% true! Sorry about the type error.

  • suraj

    There’s sadness in the narrative. There is sadness at the loss of life, and sadness at the lost opportunities for dialog. How can we payback for the loss of Dayapala who supported Rajini as she chose death over life so that the voiceless could be heard. Hers was a singular sacrifice that the sands of time will never erase.
    I see no better way than by celebrating the life of Rajini, who refused to quit in a hopelessly divided conflict, despite living with the imminent knowledge that the final call could come from either side

  • Dev

    GV staff,

    What happened to University Teachers for Human Rights, Jaffna? Has it been shut down?
    I have not seen a report from them in ages.

    • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

      Not officially, to our knowledge. Their website is still active, though it says it was last updated in Jan 2010.

      • Dev

        Thank you GV-I did see the website but no new reports, just curious why they have been silent that’s all.

        Hopefully not for the same reason Iqbal Athas went quiet !

  • MV

    I can understand the author’s pain toward his loss. However, I disagree with rest of the politics here. When the author has decided that the unitary state is next to the noblest thing that should be defended, the balance is lost. I can see why the pseudo-liberal of the ilk of Dayan Jayatileka are cheering up.

    “We have reached a stage where such military and political fears could be reasonably dealt only with the implementation of the 13th Amendment without further delay.”

    The merits of the 13th amendment had already been brought up by many on its failures. In fact, one wonders why the Sinhala rulers are hesitating to implement something that means nothing.

    “The Sinhalese leadership has never been able to understand in strategic terms that not all the Tamils are Tiger supporters or sympathetic to their demand for a separate state but yet, there are genuine grievances that need to be resolved.”

    I don’t think the idea of separate state is a brainchild of the LTTE.
    The best thing to do is to scrap the 6th amendment to the constitution so that the Tamil people can freely articulate their political aspirations through the democratic process w/o resorting to violence. So, that those demanding ‘separate state’ can be marginalized.

    I think this piece demonstrates whats problematic of the liberal view in Sri Lanka – that as soon as the Tamil militancy is defeated, the Sinhala regime will deliver up on the ‘genuine’ grievances of Tamil people and that some reforms can change this ethnocratic state. And of course that Mahinda Rajapakse is a liberal.

  • Joe

    I also apologize to Dayapala & his daughters. I feel your pain. Because army killed my innocent brother-in-law and cousins for no reason other than being born as tamils. My sister, uncles and aunts are still tormented with pain and agony. I suggest to you Mr. Dayapala to write to the Sinhala government to honour the committments made to Tamils and to the international community to avoid giving birth to another LTTE. Peace is a two way street. There will not be any peace with no justice. The absence of war shouldn’t be mistaken for peace. There is a difference between absence of war and peace.

  • truth

    The author is repeatedly blaming TNA for not voicing against the Tigers. He fails to understand that Tamils can blame the Sinhalese side for being silent when all the violence heaped on the innocent Tamil community from the mid 1950s up to this minute!!!

    What did they do when there were organised pogroms against the Tamil community during the SLFP majority government as well as during the UNP time. Both had absolute majority and could have delivered justice to the Tamil grievances!! Even now the present “war criminals” have absolute majority to deliver justice!! At least to give the war affected people sustenance, a roof over their head. At least they should give the refugees their homes and farm lands back.

    At least they should refrain from robbing their livelihood and their traditional fishing areas. For a start let them publish a list of Tamils they wantonly killed while in custody, deliberately “disappeared” keeping in custody without any charges and without informing their loved ones.

    Blaming the victims for the evils of the “people in power” will not do any good for Sri Lanka!!!

    • Lanka Liar

      Yea you are right. Cant we blame the Sri Lanka government for failing to protect the Tamils from the LTTE from the Sinhalese thugs from para paramilitaries from the kidnappers… . Daya your story touched my heart but your argument to blame TNA sounds very skewed.

  • justitia

    TNA was not fully behind the process of LTTE’s recruitment and elimination of perceived opponents.
    TNA kept quiet in order to survive.
    Many TULF/TNA MPs were killed by the LTTE.
    Tamil civilians too kept quiet in order to survive.
    Before any ‘negotiation process’ the Rule of Law has to be established, and, Free and Fair elections have to be ensured in future – the recent provincial polls were NOT free and fair.
    Only then can/will the people freely state what they want – not only in the northeast, but in all electorates.

  • walter

    Like millions of Sri Lankans, I too was a silent spectator of this civil war, of our own creation.
    However, I always, again silently, wished that if I was younger, I would have made a contribution in defending these unfortunate brethren.

  • walter

    Doctor, D.D.
    Please elaborate your statement.
    I sense that that there are hidden connotations.
    Thanks

  • luxmy

    We’ve had B-C pact, D-C pact, 13A, APRC, many articles on GV, etc etc …………….

    Will the South take the next step on this tomorrow please:

    http://allafrica.com/stories/201209110908.html

    The world has been eager to help.

    Bring out the missing peace: political will of a critical mass in the South.

    • Davidson

      Luxmy and others

      Pl note the difference in the statements made by Sri Lankan Minister and South African Minister on the meeting they had when our Minister visited South Africa in March this year:

      http://www.sundaytimes.lk/120311/Columns/political.html

      This government minister doesn’t want the South to know that South Africa is willing to help us? This is one step further than burning Norwegian flag against peace process of 2001/2.

      How do we get the South to realise that Tamils have the right to determine how they develop economically, socio-culturally and environmentally which is accepted by international organisations of which Sri Lanka is a member?

  • Austin Fernando

    Excellent write up. Let it be heard in all corners- I mean in the government, especially in the TNA and other Tamil political groups.

    • Dev

      Especially the TNA and other Tamil parties ?? I beg your pardon…..
      who is dragging their feet in implementing the LLRC report?
      who is dragging the implementation of the 13th amendment including holding of the provincial council elections in the north in spite being able to conduct local/presidential/parliamentary elections ?

      Who has the 2/3 majority in parliament that passed the 18th amendment in double quick time??

      The TNA??? I think not……..

    • Lanka Liar

      Excellent write up. Let it be heard in all corners- I mean in the government. There is no need to drag the in the TNA and other Tamil political groups. By doing so you are only trying to divide the blame. Be genuine and approach the Tamils they will oblique even accept blame for thing they haven’t done.

  • rita

    Dayapala has missed out on one thousand and one wrong things done to the Tamils in the last 64yrs but how can he miss out on what has been happening in the last 20 months:

    True State of Affairs Regarding Govt-TNA Talks and the Parliamentary Select Committee Invitation, 2 September 2012, http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/10183

  • MALLIKARJUNA SHARMA

    If India with more than 14 main languages and umpteen more number of spoken or written linguistic communities can remain a sort of quasi-federation with a strong centre, why can’t SL with just two linguistic communities achieve more harmony and understanding between the two communities. English can always be the link language and also the most sought for international language but both Sinhalese and Tamil can be made (if not already made) official languages and a sort of 3-language formula be worked out to solve the linguistic problem. Other socio-economic problems, and power-sharing problems can be solved by opting for a quasi-federal setup. Past is past, at least in the present work for a better understanding and harmony. Nothing is impossible.

  • Neville Perera

    After all the unspeakable things successive governments have been doing to the Tamils till today a Sinhalese is asking some Tamils to apologize ??? That alone shows what the Sinhalese have been doing to the Tamils and is the worst thing that has happened to the Tamils in 64 yrs.

    • sach

      @Neville Perera,

      Daya here is not asking for anybody’s apology. It is more like a personal account. if anybody is to apologize it is the LTTE supporters who murdered his wife. Didnt u read the article…And another thing, do u really think Tamils are morally higher when it comes to the ethnic conflict in SL? If there was no LTTE or even after 1983 one could have said that. But the terrorist outfit, LTTE made things different.

      After all why do u hide behind a sinhala name, dont have the ‘guts’?..u people are sooo pathetic…

  • Mohan

    We never forget at that year Big loss of Tamil Nation

    youtube video:

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Rajini+Thiranagama+%28No+more+tears&oq=Rajini+Thiranagama+%28No+more+tears&gs_l=youtube.12…42348.42348.0.44143.1.1.0.0.0.0.60.60.1.1.0…0.0…1ac.1j2.4pmuMJRh0Hw

    • Dan Herath

      Austin Fernando? Dayan Jayatilleke?
      We had such people in powerful positions in our institutions?
      Pitting an eloquently written story against the millions affected by
      ”decades of internecine conflict, almost from the time of our independence from colonial rule” – http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/5148 ??

  • Malik

    A neutral but spoken from the heart, reflective piece of writing by DT.

    In my opinion it brings up a few important points.
    • The need for the government and the sinhala community to address constructively the many issues of the tamil community (political, social, security etc.). They need to truthfully look at the past and the present and accept responsibility for not only the ‘good’ but also the ‘bad’
    • The need for the TNA and the tamil community to cut the perceived link with the LTTE and its mindset. For this they too will have to accept the responsibility of providing real or perceived moral support to the LTTE.
    • The “you did it” out look will not help.
    • It is only through such a “truth and reconciliation” process that we can ever hope to step out of this mess.
    • It is a must, as we all feel the need to “go home” after a “long journey”.

    Although I cannot see the critical mass of will on either side of the ethnic divide for such an engagement at present, what is heartening is that there are more voices of sanity on either side than ever before.

    Therefore the need for some sensitive and wise cajoling of both parties.

    Let not all the suffering and death be in vain…..!

  • Marius Fernando(Alidon)

    Well written article by the author.But it is unfortunate that due to extremists in both sides the approach to peace is still far away from reality.I am domiciled in a foreign country for the past 25 years or so but well informed all things that are happening in SL.First sinhalese people should be ready to adopt a give and take policy and tamils as well.If you stick to one area of taking only forgetting the giving then there can not be a settlement to this problem.So I call upon both parties to come to a common table and start negotiating rather than blaming each other for what happened in the past.If we stick only to past we can not see the present and future.Negotiations should give first preference to fundamental rights of both parties and settle those issues and go for other issues.

    My heart goes for the author and his family for all the sorrows and hardships undergone but remember that there is a silverline in every cloud and and they will soon roll by.

  • Dagobert

    What better example for ethnic harmony than your family.
    Unfortunately the short sighted snuffed her life away.

    May there be strength with you to guide those two daughters of yours to emulate their GREAT Mother.

    This article is about Ethnic harmony lost.

  • Nandane

    The Biggest problem in SL today is: Over population

    SL shall not have more than 4/ 5 Million habitants.

    TNA: Shall be banned as a political party who promote same racial agenda on the tune of the overseas LTTE lobby.

    United SL:
    As earlier SLankans must learn to live in side by side.

    Communal Politics: All sri Lankans have pending issues. But we have to confront these as a 1 x Nation. NOT as tamils / Muslims & Sinhalese.
    We all are humans.
    It s SAD that the writer has NOT learned this lesson despite the experience

    In SL we must combat communal politics / mistake such as i.e. Hindu / sinhala / muslim schools to start with

    • luxmy

      ”TNA: Shall be banned as a political party who promote same racial agenda on the tune of the overseas LTTE lobby” ??

      CEYLON : A DIVIDED NATION, B H Farmer(1963):
      Since those saddening days of 1958 Ceylon has had its share of trouble. The truth, though unpalatable may be to some, is simply that nobody unacceptable to the present Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism has any chance of constitutional power in contemporary Ceylon.
      (referring to the 1957/8/9 Buddhist monks opposing the concessions to Tamils after introducing ”Sinhala Only”)

      ”But that truth cannot excuse human rights violations that currently afflict the nation as a whole; or for that matter obscure the looming threat of the cultural and political colonisation of the north by the Sinhala Buddhist majority” – Biased and Prejudiced Collection on Sri Lanka, *Gananath Obeyesekere, Economic & Political Weekly, VOL 47 No. 04, 28 January-03 February 2012 (*a Sinhalese Buddhist and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, Princeton University), http://www.scribd.com/doc/82525102/Biased-and-Prejudiced-Collection-on-Sri-Lanka

  • walter

    To Nandane

    It is totally agreed, that, all of us, must abandon Communal Politics.
    Most of us would agree to live side by side as Sri Lankan’s if possible

    But when you say that the T N A must be banned because it is racial, it appears that you have not evaluated the Political scenario after 1948.

    Around 1948 and a little after, I believe we had less than ten Political parties. We had several left parties, Communist, N S S P, L S S P, the U N P and the Federal Party, Tamil Congress, subsequently the M E P.
    Please note that even before Independence the Northern and Eastern Provinces were demanding for fifty / fifty, as they were unsure of the majority’s stand, to accept the minorities as equals.
    They were the distinct majority at that time, in these two Provinces.
    Subsequently due to Colonization their majority gradually reduced and now with Government’s manipulation, solely with the idea of making the Tamils a minority in these Provinces, the Tamils who were a majority have now been reduced, virtually to a minority.
    The Racial and Religious Politics was vibrantly started in 1956 and the Constitution was amended by S.W.R.D. for his Sinhala only policy.
    Subsequently Buddhism was added to the Constitution as a priority.

    This has alienated the minorities, and therefore expecting the minorities to swallow the Sinhala Buddhist ‘Gundu’ that the North and East are being developed, by building bridges and roads will never stand the test.
    They are demanding the restoration of dignity and equality.
    The Sinhala Buddhist’s are over 70%, and therefore it is incumbent on them, to remove the fears and obstacles, placed by their representatives, the Sinhala Buddhist Politicians.

    No amount of rhetoric about development, and bribing with Portfolios can produce a solution, against the doubts and mistrust that has grown over the years.

    DOES ANYONE BELIEVE,THAT THIS GOVERNMENT IS SEARCHING FOR TRUE RECONCILIATION? NO, with the exception of people, in the Government.

  • anbu

    1-No more tears my sister- a film about Rajni Thiranagama.
    A human rights activist- Tamil lady and her Sinhala husband standing for Human rights in Sri Lanka.

    2-Silenced Voices- Another film about Sri Lankan human rights activists Bashana Abeywardane and his Tamil wife standing for human rights in Sri lanka.This film is currently doing the circuits

    1- located in the terrain of human rights but slanted towards the state
    2-located in the terrain of human rights but higly critical of the state

    Both directed by two diffrent Western females – hey…. they are not Sri lankan..so the impartiality…
    Both cappitalising on the Tamil Sinhala relationship as a point socrer for their impartiaility

    WHAT A FARCE..WHAT HUMAN RIGHTS

  • silva

    Dayapala

    These victims fortunately have a few reporters:

    Commonwealth parliamentarians garlanded by Occupation army commander in North Sri Lanka …..

    http://www.tamilnet.com/art.html?catid=79&artid=35567

    …… while IDPs struggle against landgrab by Army and Navy:

    http://groundviews.org/2012/09/16/the-struggle-to-go-home-in-post-war-sri-lanka-manthuvil-in-the-mullativu-district/
    http://groundviews.org/2012/09/15/who-burnt-houses-of-returning-muslim-idps-in-mannar/

  • nathan

    Get killed by the LTTE, you’re a heroine.
    Get raped and killed by the SLA, you’re just another statistic.
    Oh the morality of this world!

  • truth

    I think the murder of Rajani is not yet solved. There were other suspects, besides LTTE (Indian army, Other groups, etc.)It was blamed on LTTE and conveniently confirmed and forgotten, just like all the other murders!!! There are thousands of murders which are committed by the successive governments which was conveniently credited to LTTE!!

    • Nithyananthan

      Read and learned a lot of Dr. D. Thiranagama’s, from his intermittent mementos – but at regular intervals, sharing his grief and cherished memories over the loss of his adored wife Dr. Rajani T. Having realized, learning from many other sources, Rajani’s personality and the values that she stood for in her public activities, this writer became remorseful and self-reproaching and recognized that she didn’t deserve such untimely violent … the plotters will never be known – not Rajani’s only but many other tens of brutal deaths. Deeply feeling sorry for you Dr. D Thiranagama and join the many in sharing your grief. May God bless the Children and you!

      Having said so, this writer was also provoked to denounce and rebuke truth’s above assertion – at last could not proceed – but failed. ‘Truth’ didn’t allow my conscience – consciousness chased me away. Thanks, Nithy!

    • Nithyananthan

      Dear GV & Readers,
      I regret and am feeling so sorry for having wrongly taken-up and misspelled Dr. D. Thiranagama’s wife‘s name as ‘Rajani’ instead of ‘Rajini’. Regretfully, Nithy!