Sri Lankan exiles and emigrants: Some thoughts

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Still from the movie Silenced Voices

But when you arrive in Ithaca, don’t expect to find jewels… Without Ithaca, you would not have set out… And through this journey… Such things have you learned.
(Cavafy. Translated from the Greek)

By way of a preface, I mention the perception in some religions that we all are exiles, sojourning through a foreign land, amidst a people more or less alien to us. I recall taking my mother to the British High Commission in Lusaka (she had come to us consequent of the savage anti-Tamil pogrom of July 1983) in order to get her a visa to visit my sister in London. The official at the Commission studied her application and said, “I fear once you are in London, you will apply for permanent residence.” My mother smiled gently at him and replied, looking upward, “Young man, my permanent residence is elsewhere.” He signed the papers. (Mother died in Sri Lanka, 1988.)

The dictionary defines “emigrants” as those who leave their own country to settle permanently in another, and “exile” as the state of being banned from one’s native country, typically for political or punitive reasons. While “exile” implies compulsion, “emigration” suggests choice, but the instance of Frederica Jansz illustrates that the distinction is not always clear.

In an interview (‘The Seattle Times’, 24 June 2013) Ms Jansz is quoted as saying she can never return to Sri Lanka. In other words, she’s an exile, banned and barred. (One is reminded of Ovid, BCE 43 – CE 17, and his work, ‘Sorrows of an Exile’.) However, neither by Presidential decree nor by legal process was Ms Jansz expelled from Sri Lanka, “the Island of the Compassionate and Moral Doctrine of the Buddha”. So it can be argued she’s an emigrant and not an exile. But the offices of the ‘Sunday Leader’ of which she was the Editor had been set on fire more than once; death-threats had been made against her and, according to the interview, she was followed, harassed and threatened in various ways, including by one at the very highest level of government. Rejecting the usual options (silence, self-censorship, acquiescence, collaboration, sycophancy and its rewards etc.); fearing for her two children and what would become of them if something happened to her (she is a single-parent), Frederica Jansz felt compelled to flee the Island. After all, the previous editor, Lasantha Wickrematunga, having been warned and threatened, was murdered in broad daylight. (Anticipating his murder, Wickrematunga wrote a “J’accuse!” letter which was published posthumously by the ‘Sunday Leader’;  a perceptive, passionate and moving voice from the grave.) Though Ms Jansz is not de jure an exile she, like several other individuals in History, is de facto one. I know that her sorrow at never again being able to see the country in which she was born and lived; the country she loved and loves, is shared by other exiles, both Tamil and Sinhalese. If “extinction is for ever”, so it seems is exile.

But this is to take too despondent a view. Later, if not sooner, there could be a change of government and of those wielding power. The culture of individuals and groups, not to mention the government itself, acting outside the law, violently and with impunity, may change and “decency” ushered in. (“Decency” is a crucial word when estimating any society: see, Avishai Margalit, ‘The Decent Society’, Harvard University, 1996.) History provides instances of those driven into the desert of exile returning in “green” triumph, on the alliterative lines of “from prison to the Presidential palace”. Lesser mortals too can then return, though without fanfare and public notice, and try to pick up something of the pieces of their previous life.

Immediately after independence in 1948, thousands of Up-country Tamils were disenfranchised and sent to India. I do not say “returned” to India because most of them had lived in ‘Ceylon’ for generations and knew no other home. These poor, mostly illiterate, folk were not “repatriated” but unkindly “expatriated”. (Unfortunately, there’s much in post-independence Sri Lankan history to deplore and deeply regret.) About a decade later, the Burghers felt no longer “at home” in what had been their home, and most took flight, leaving the remainder either to assimilate and lose original identity or to cling to a fast fading way of life (see, Charles Sarvan, ‘Sri Lanka: Literary Essays & Sketches’, 2011, pages 25 – 39). The ‘Sinhala-only’ bill passed by Parliament, the anti-Tamil riots beginning in the 1950s (that of 1958 had much to do with my own departure) and the introduction of an ethnic-quota system for university entrance began the Tamil flight from Sri Lanka. The war against the Tamil Tigers, and worst of all, government policy and conduct in its aftermath, have driven many Tamils to despair of life in Sri Lanka. Many in the North and East are desperate to get out of “the Paradise Isle” – largely for the sake of their children and the latter’s future. In grammatical terms, “greener” is a comparative but Tamils who pay heavily and cram into precarious boats to undertake a dangerous voyage with an uncertain end are not seeking “greener pastures”: the pasture at home is not green. On the contrary, it has become harsh and barren to them, with no prospect on the horizon of rain, and the growth and happiness it can bring. There is a similarity with the instance of Frederica Jansz, and one can ask whether the exit of Tamils isn’t really exile, enforced by the state and its military, rather emigration.

Turning again to the dictionary, a “refugee” is defined as a person who has been forced (emphasised) to leave her or his country in order to escape calamities such as war and persecution. Refugees, therefore, are exiles but with the important difference that the former, unlike the latter, can return, be it temporarily or permanently.

Emigrants, unlike the exile, can hope to visit, and many indeed do, and that too, on a regular basis – Tamils far less, for evident reasons. Some with dual citizenship enjoy “the best of two worlds”. Though emigrants may leave with the intention of returning permanently, many finally do not because their children settle in their host-country, and parents don’t wish to part from their children and, years later, from their grandchildren. No doubt, exiles and emigrants suffer, to differing degree, a sense of loss, one that the passage of time may sharpen rather than heal, but there’s a good chance their children grow up to feel at home in their host country –  even more “at home”, more secure in the present and more confident about the future than they did in blessed Sri Lanka. The age at which one becomes an exile or emigrant plays an important role: the younger, the better the chance of adjusting, coming to terms, and succeeding.

The tendency when on the subject of exile and emigration is to have in mind writers, intellectuals, academics, individuals with achievement in some field or other, and members of the middle-class. Those ‘below’ though far greater in number remain unseen. This latter group suffers the handicap of not knowing the language of their host country and, if beyond a certain age on arrival, never quite master it:  employment prospects, social ease and status are tied to linguistic competence. As Heidegger noted, language is the house of Being, and it is language that lets Being appear.

“It is the genius of Shakespeare that when Mowbray is sent into exile, he doesn’t identify and lament the loss of relations and friends, or a familiar and loved physical and social environment, but language: his “tongue” is of no more use to him, doubly “portcullised” behind his teeth and lips. He is too old to learn a new language, and feels condemned to “speechlessness,” which is a living death (Richard 11, Act 1, Scene 3, lines 147-167). For Mowbray, exile from home means exile from language; exile from language is exile from home”

(Sarvan, ‘Literary Essays & Sketches’, page 84)

The exile / emigrant who arrives in a foreign country past middle-age may or may not suffer irreparable loss, and emotional and psychological damage but, most likely, not her or his children. Children are linguistic chameleons and remarkably adaptable to a new geographic and cultural environment. Soon most of them become not Australian or Canadian Sinhalese or Tamil but Australians or Canadians who happen to be of Sinhalese or Tamil origin. Marriage or long-term partnership with individuals from other ethnic groups further distances Sri Lanka. If there’s loss on the part of parents, there’s  gain on the part of succeeding generations, many of whom grow up to fulfil their potential and to enjoy a far better life – “better” in several, and not only in the material senses – than they would have had in present-day Sri Lanka. I wonder if parents who remain in Sri Lanka but have children abroad will, however reluctantly and sadly, acknowledge this.

  • Dev

    Beautiful Prof. Sarvan !
    I see my cousins (and sometimes their children) living abroad and doing well, and it is true that they are doing better than they would have living here in Sri Lanka not just financially but in every way as you say.

  • Dilan Wikremasinghe

    Thanks Prof. Sarvn for the excellent article.

    Sri Lanka is not the country to live and prosper.

    Even last year, 6400 Sinhalese got smuggled into Australia as economic
    refugees by corrupt high level regime family members for $10,000/person.

    Sadly, Sri Lanka is a dictatorship with a fake democracy cover with no economic future.

    Tourism sector is not helping at all. There are 40,000 children used
    in prostitution and tourists have been killed and raped by regime members.

    Myself and my family have no intention of going back
    to Sri Lanka.

    We should’ve listened to the Tamils 30 years ago but it is too late.
    We have a family regime with 500,000 armed militia.

  • Ramzeen Azeez

    It’s easy to leave a country you love, if it doesn’t love you back. After all, what is a country if not its people? People find success in the ME and return home to settle with a few taking off to the West or Europe with the money earned. Those who didn’t return did very much better than those who did.
    The difference in those countries and ours is their magnanimity and decency. They’ll offer scholarships for the kids and every other facility right from the word go. Over here, school admission is a horror story and the job market is a tale by itself.
    Our leaders right from Independence have been anything but. SWRD, albeit his exposure in UK and Oxford epitomized this. Although being an ex-Catholic, he was painted with the same political brush. They were extremely reluctant to do the decent thing by the minorities even though in their heart of hearts that was the decent thing to do. What we have is a string of broken promises regarding self-determination and autonomy in designated areas. Although the Christians and Muslims never sought a separate “homeland” they are being hounded by another motley crew supposedly aided and abetted by high-ups. Their bravado and scant respect for the law bears testimony to this charge. The utter meekness of the custodians of the law and their ineptitude in the midst of scenes of mob violence further adds weight to this.
    When one’s heart is broken it remains. So much so that when one steps into another country that has accepted you with open arms, one does it with a deep sense of freedom contentment.
    When they find success on foreign soil, the locals will crow in delight as if they were a catalyst in the process; like in the case of Australian cricketer Ashton Agar.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Prof Charles Sarwan,

    Are you not using the case of Ms Janz to sneak in a whole lot of untruths?

    The missives you are writing about is like the beggar’s wound. Never allowed to heal. Are the descendants of slaves in USA still whining about the Jim Crow Laws, the Ku Klux gangs, the Segregation and denial of basic human rights by the whites?

    You say “Immediately after independence in 1948, thousands of Up-country Tamils were disenfranchised and sent to India. I do not say “returned” to India because most of them had lived in ‘Ceylon’ for generations and knew no other home”

    Are you relating the truth here?

    The Citizenship Act was tested in the Privy Council UK and was deemed to be fair. Was the Apex Court of Justice, in the UK, colluding with the Ceylon govt to disenfranchise the Indian Tamils and cause them to be stateless?

    Here is part of the Privy Council judgement which I hope will dissuade you from propagating canards of this nature in the future.

    Extract
    ……. Is it in the present case legislation on citizenship or is it legislation intended to make and making Indian Tamils liable to disabilities to which other communities are not liable ? It is as the Supreme Court observed a perfectly natural and legitimate function of the legislature of a country to determine the composition of its nationals. Standards of literacy, of property, of birth or of residence are as it seems to their Lordships standards which a legislature may think it right to adopt in legislation on citizenship and it is clear that such standards though they may operate to exclude the illiterate, the poor and the immigrant to a greater degree than they exclude other people do not create disabilities in a community as such since the community is not bound together as a community by its illiteracy, its poverty or its migratory character but by its face or its religion. The migratory habits of the Indian Tamils (see paragraphs 123 and 203 Soulbury Report) are facts which in their Lordships’ opinion are directly relevant to the question of their suitability as citizens of Ceylon and have nothing to do with them as a community. For all these reasons their Lordships have come to the conclusion that the Citizenship and Franchise Acts are intra vires of the Ceylon legislature and they therefore humbly advise Her Majesty that this appeal ought to be dismissed. The appellant must pay the costs of the appeal.
    http://www.lawnet.lk/docs/case_law/nlr/common/html/NLR54V433.htm

    Those who were repatriated were those who could not meet the conditions for citizenship. Mostly the condition of continued residence in Ceylon. Are these the people that you describe as having lived for generations in Ceylon and knew no other home?

    Though you are vilifying Sri Lanka, here is proof of how the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka protected those Indian Origin Tamils who Actually had a Claim for Citizenship.

    Please read up the case of K. DURAISAMY, an Indian Tamil whose appeal for citizenship was UPHELD by the Supreme Court of Lanka in case number S. C. 517-Application No. J 514
    http://www.lawnet.lk/docs/case_law/nlr/common/html/NLR56V313.htm

    You say “….and the introduction of an ethnic-quota system for university entrance began the Tamil flight from Sri Lanka”

    Here is a short history of Standardisation

    1970 – Standardisation by media introduced. Students to science-based courses were admitted on the basis of separate pre-determined minimum mark levels applicable to each of the three language media.

    1971 – The principle of standardisation of marks was extended from language medium to subjects as well.

    1974 – The principle of district quotas was introduced for the first time. Eligible students were classified according to the administrative districts from which they had taken the GCE (A/L) examination. Students were selected in the order of merit of standardised marks. The number of places available for each course of study was allocated to the districts in proportion to their general population.

    The period 1970 to 1973 was unjust. Because it had a LINGUISTIC base.

    The above injustice ceased to exist from 1974 onwards.

    From 1974 to date, a period of 40 years, standardisation had no Ethnic base. Yet like the beggars wound that never heals, you cry foul about Uni Standardisation.

    Here is something for you to ponder.

    In 1981 there was a proposal to eliminate the 15% special allocation for educationally backward areas. It was opposed by Sinhalese from rural areas who led the campaign and Tamils from the districts of Mannar, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Ampara—in short, all Tamils except those from the Jaffna district—and the Muslims as a whole. Please read Prof K. M. de Silva, an authority and a strong critic of University Standardisation.

    The Majority of Tamils and ALL the Muslims wanted Standardisation to remain. Why does the overwhelming majority of the Sri Lankan Minority want Standardisation to stay? Because it is an injustice perpetrated on them!

    The collective view of the Tamils is NOT the view of a minuscule grouping of Jaffna Tamils. It is disgusting to observe how you are trying to project the view of the Jaffna Tamils as the collective view of the Tamils. Within the LARGER grouping of the Sri Lankan Minorities, the Jaffna Tamils are a very small part. This is the type of misinformation that fans ethnic tensions and has become the Blight of this country.

    You wrote “In grammatical terms, “greener” is a comparative but Tamils who pay heavily and cram into precarious boats to undertake a dangerous voyage with an uncertain end are not seeking “greener pastures”: the pasture at home is not green.”

    What are they seeking then, safety?
    Isn’t that available just a couple of hours boat ride away in India, amongst a culturally, linguistically and ethnically identical people? Why skip India and risk Life and Limb to go to affluent countries?
    The grass is not as green in India as in Australia, Canada and the West?

    Isn’t it high time that intellectuals like you, beneficiaries of Free Education (grade 1 to University) that Sri Lanka offers, jettison the propaganda in favour of Nation building?

    I have tried to be brief. But the scope covered by you cannot be effectively refuted without authoritative references.

  • Rossana Karunaratna

    Nyra Yuval Davis, Professor of the School of Law and Social Sciences of the University of East London and Director of the research center on Migration, refugees and Belonging looking at the intersection of citizenships, identities and power, differentiates between “belonging” and the “politics of belonging” describing the first one as the emotional feeling of being home or “safe”. Definitely this is a very emotional area where not only the ones who left are involved but the ones who came from other lands and while deciding to settle down they are still being seen as temporary migrants and subjected to stereotypes. The issue of belonging is very crucial in the present post war scenario and is a big wound that remains unhealed.

  • Jayalath

    It is worth to review what Pro. Charles is assuming on the run of Sri lankan emigrants . The exiles and emigration is entirely different factors , thus I would prefere to have a few word about the emigration .as I’m an emigrant in Europe and know much about the emigration life .
    Pro , has carefully analysed and described the negative and positive effects of emigration which is absolutely right .
    I would not try to speak any thing about the reasons why the people are emigrated and exiled from Sri Lanka , however I would mine to speak little about how the families and emigrated people feel away from their native countries .

    As far as I concern the emigration is a killer to some people , but the reason would come far important . Some of the families concern over the children than their lives , therefore some parents are sacrificed themselves for the future .
    The children are the main beneficiaries of this journey . As they are adaptable and better learners .

    Mainly people emigrate to Europe , Australia , America ,and Canada . Why people emigrate to only those countries ,especially as refugees , one is by law that they must accept people who come from the conflict areas which is a conventional law has been accepted in GENEVA , therefore people around the world make various reasons to come and settle down in Europe of using the human right law.

    However , after all , they are settling down and trying to begin new life , as the time is gone by that refugee parent find difficulties with language and FISH AND CHIPS CULTURES , because these refugees parents are coming here in their mid age , they are not use to any thing in Europe , but had no choice .
    Those children who emigrated now begin to school and enjoy the new life in host countries with new friends . The education and freedom play a major role in their lives , And both will be gained by them regardless who are they or where they come from , this is the benifit .
    Therefore they are thriving in new life , they forget now where they come from and why , as they do not want to know , this is the system .
    If you are in England and if you raise here , then you are british . This is the place of worrying majority refugee parents . I know a Tamil family living in Harrow in London , they have two girls and a boy . I must say the parents are not happy the way the way children behave , they have become hopeless . Children refuse to eat what mother is cooking instead they go to McDonald or KFC . these parents make mistakes of not understanding where do they live .

    Their children are living in a developed country , They are British and they are not bother what their parents had been through . The parents are begining to worry now . Parents expect them to go to temple and Kovil or church and spend the time like they did before moving here . However children are having here almost different life which has been failed to realise the refugee parents . And it is sad .
    This situation is not faced by only one or two families ,there are many . However their children are having every thing they would dream of having if they back in their home country .
    And next one I realised the recognition .
    ONCE I was playing cricket with few guys and we came home to watch a cricket match which was between England . When Nazar Hussain was on the commentary and who was known once captain in English team . He was brilliant cricketer in one point , so , I was with few few English guys whom with played cricket and we began to talk about Nazar Hussain’ cricket life , but I strongly felt they did not much bother to admire him although he was a brilliant British cricketer , because he wasn’t an original English , therefore I feel what ever we scored and gained in another country we are second class citizens .
    However ,when it come to a situation where to save your life is first than thinking of second class is worth to consider .
    Never the less it is worth to regard what that mother told ” young man my permanant Residance is else where ”
    Therefore , it is important to review to grant dual CITIZEN ship to fellow country men AS WE all are responsible for what we had been through.

  • http://www.groundviews.org Groundviews

    [POSTED ON BEHALF OF AUTHOR]

    Madam / Sir,

    I am sorry if my contribution has infuriated you. Certainly, my intention is not to roil further already turbulent waters. To alter the metaphor, what’s needed is not more heat (there’s too much of it already) but light. Nor did I try to “sneak in a whole lot of untruths”. “Sneak” is unworthy, as is the implication that I knowingly expressed “untruths”. It would also be unjust of an individual of courage and integrity such as Frederica Jansz. I had thought that the positive of a site such as ‘Groundviews’ is that individuals, coming from different disciplines and having varying experience, share and discuss their perspectives – not to argue, much less to insult, but to discuss. In short, I saw ‘Groundviews’ as a site for learning through sharing.
    Your area appears to be the law, and I’m confident you’ll acknowledge that one cannot always equate “law” (and judicial rulings) with “justice”. A friend of mine sent me the following: “She or he is confusing 29C with the Citizenship Acts. The injustice of 29C was well illustrated in the Kodeeswaran Case where the latter-named convinced Judge O.L. de Kretser and later the higher Courts – including the Privy Council – the Treasury Circular violated his Contract with the State was Ultra Vires his constitutional rights.”
    I confess I’m left “completely at sea”: the subject is beyond me. There is much in your letter that deserves engagement but I’ll confine myself to one point, the Upcountry Tamils. I’m a retired teacher of Literature, and in that field, what dominates is the human predicament and experience. So, when it came to them, my thought – empathy, if you will – was not with legal niceties but with the poor workers brought by British imperialism to labour on their estates; working hard and going back at the end of the day to crowded ‘Coolie lines’: “See how squalid they are!” As elsewhere, the result of exploitation was used to justify contemptuous attitude and callous treatment. As Shakespeare writes, those who haven’t endured wounds can lightly pass off the scars on others. In my Sri Lanka: Literary Essays & Sketches, there are three relevant articles: (a) ‘Indian plantation experiences overseas’, (b)‘Fiction as social text: short stories from the Sri Lankan plantations’ and (c) ‘Plantation love songs’. In all of them, I try to reach out to the workers; understand something of the experience of women and men whose crime was and is to be guilty of being poor and helpless.
    My main, intended, focus was on a few of the causes, and human consequence, of exile and emigration. There is much more that could be written, for example, the “loss” sometimes by parents of children who take to different cultural ways, resulting in generational estrangement, incomprehension and hurt. On the subject of language, I know of a very old couple who lived all their life in a remote village in the North. Now they are shuttled between Norway, Germany and England – without speaking a word of any of these languages. (A powerful work on total linguistic “lost-ness” is a novella by Stefan Zweig, translated into English as ‘Episode at Lake Genfer’:)
    Finally, it’s not legality but humanity; the humane and decent treatment of all human beings, irrespective of group, religion, skin-colour, sex etc. (Many in fervently Buddhist, and therefore vegetarian, Sri Lanka will protest this is “species-ism”, a form of “racism”, and that all animals too should be treated with compassion.)
    But if my chief interest as a ‘literature person’ didn’t come through in my “sharing”, of course the fault and failure are mine.

    Sarvan

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Prof Charles Sarwan,

      I thank you for your response.

      Your article was built around Fredrica Janz’s plight (with which I sympathise) and used it to discuss many other things including University Standardisation, Economic refugees, Citizenship Act, Language Bill, Departure of Burghers etc. non of which presented a balanced picture, that is the reason that prompted me to call them ‘sneaked in’.

      Your main intent has been to justify the Exodus by boat of Sri Lankan’s to affluent countries where the ‘grass is greener’ arguing that it was not the ‘greenery’ that attracted them.

      Sri Lankan’s who had the means have left her shores looking for greener pastures for donkeys years. It has been a phenomenon that existed long before the perceived ‘injustices’ that you have written about.

      The Burghers left because they had easy access to Australia due to the White Australia policy. Going out on Govt Scholarships for Post Graduate studies and defaulting was another popular method. Those who had the means, went to UK, on the guise of studies and took advantage of the social security system to stay there. This is one reason why such social security schemes have tighter rules today.

      Are these boat people seeking safety or economic refuge?

      Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who lived in India through the war, are moving to affluent nations. Hence their movement is for economic reasons.

      Sri Lankan Tamils who leave Lanka are bypassing India’s Tamil Nadu, the home of 60 million other Tamils, their closest refuge, if seeking safety. Hence they are also moving for economic reasons.

      Fredrica Janz left out of fear for her children and herself though she lived with that situation for more than a decade (she ran her own politically critical program on TNL TV long ago). She did not bypass millions of her Ethnic relations next door. You used Fredrica’s justified flight as a cover.

      Your reply has not touched the previous subject of University Standardisation that for 40 years has had the support of the majority of the Minorities including Tamils (with only the handful of Jaffna Tamils objecting).

      You wrote “I saw ‘Groundviews’ as a site for learning through sharing”

      You are mirroring my own views. I have learnt and expanded my horizons immensely, since I commenced contributing to Groundviews several years ago. I am a layman and not of the legal profession. But I have learnt that the best counter to propaganda, is the Truth backed up by authoritative references. I am able to quote them because I have researched them.

      Your friend who wrote the following is mistaken “She or he is confusing 29C with the Citizenship Acts. The injustice of 29C was well illustrated in the Kodeeswaran Case where the latter-named convinced Judge O.L. de Kretser and later the higher Courts – including the Privy Council – the Treasury Circular violated his Contract with the State was Ultra Vires his constitutional rights.”

      Judge O. L. de Kretser is a Sri Lankan Burgher. He understood the ground situation. Is your friend trying to imply that Judge OLdeS did not know what he was doing? He cannot be accused of bias can he?

      Please ask your friend to place her/his arguments on the table without trying to pass a personal opinion as the correct one OVERRIDING the Judicial systems of both Lanka and the UK.

      Kodikan Pilai failed because he could not meet the conditions of Citizenship. Whereas K. Duraisamy succeeded as he convinced the Lankan Supreme Court that he met the required conditions. Both were Indian Tamils. You should note that K. Duraisamy did not have to appeal to the Privy Council, UK, to obtain redress. It was available to him right here in Sri Lanka. Please ask you friend to read both references that I supplied.

      You wrote “I’m confident you’ll acknowledge that one cannot always equate “law” (and judicial rulings) with “justice”.”

      Yes true, but where does subjective/sentimental assessments stop?

      You wrote “There is much in your letter that deserves engagement but I’ll confine myself to one point, the Upcountry Tamils.”

      But when you discuss so poignantly the case of the Indian Tamils in estates, who came here of their own accord and who were living in squalor and abject poverty in India before that please do not overlook why they were brought here.

      The indigenes refused to toil their own lands, for a new landlord and a suppressive and oppressive govt, who has taken those lands by force from them. You have, inadvertently perhaps, ignored the bigger and a greater Human Tragedy, that was caused to those indigenes who lived here.

      Sinhalese were evicted from 90% of the Sinhalese Hinterland Lands and over 40% of Sinhalese Agricultural Peasants lost their livelihood.

      Please read the Crown Land Enforcement Ordinance of 1840
      Crown Land Encroachment Ordinance in 1840
      Waste Land Ordinance Act of 1897
      Land Settlement Ordinance of 1889

      And the works of the following Historians to get a real understanding of the adverse effects of the plantations on the Sinhala Economy and Habitat.

      Farmer 1957:90-91
      Herath 1995:77
      Roberts 1979:233
      Obeysekara 1967: 98-100
      Obeysekara 1967:101
      Mendis 1951:166
      Mendis 1951:85.
      Codrington 1938:63
      Herath 1995:79

      You have overlooked the Human Tragedy of importing South Indian Tamils and domiciling them in Lands of the indigenes. The extent of the tragedy can be gauged by the fact that the Indian Tamils so imported EXCEEDED the total indigenous Tamil population of Lanka. It was equivalent to dispossessing the Sinhalese of their Lands and Livelihood to relocate the TOTALITY of the Indigenous Tamils in them.

      Can you truthfully say that the Indian Tamils would have been welcome if the Plantations were established dispossessing the Indigenous Tamils in the North making them Landless, Homeless and without a means to engage in a livelihood of agriculture?

      Please note that I have never advocated repossessing the lost Sinhala lands and resettling Sinhalese in them.

      We should discuss but we should avoid untruthful propaganda. I hope you will continue with the discussion and bring your friend into it as well.

      Best Regards
      OTC