By M. M. Janapriya –
I am a lone ranger and not ‘a barons orderly’. Being a political sceptic sing no songs of praise for any political party. I understand that the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States Senate is in the process of studying a resolution to recognize “a Traditional Tamil Homeland” in Sri Lanka and hope you would be kind enough to read my article giving it the attention it deserves before making any irrevocable decisions on the matter. It is sad that the Sri Lankan government and its diplomats seem to be in a state of ‘slumber of convenience’ on this very serious matter which may well decide the fate of a united Sri Lanka adversely. I am a Sri Lankan belonging to the ethnic group Singhalese (the category often referred to as aggressors by the Tamils), am proud to be that, consider myself to be the last man standing in support of the Sri Lankan cause and hence am writing this appeal to you. To me it appears as if we the helpless and hapless majority are getting discriminated against by the powerful countries who ironically though, vehemently denounce terrorism locally and globally. It is very concerning that the architects of the resolution very likely the powerful Tamil diaspora have conveniently ignored their own unpleasant past spanning decades from early 1970s when Tamil Terrorists with the blessings and backing of the Tamils domiciled in Sri Lanka and the diaspora itself indiscriminately stabbed, slashed and hacked to death innocent civilians including women children and Buddhist monks by storming border villages and waylaying buses carrying passengers. They also planted bombs in many parts of the capital city as well as in other parts of the country targeting civilians and killed thousands. Hence they have no moral justification whatsoever to talk about human rights violations. Need of the hour is not tit for tat or an eye for an eye or grind one’s axe on the ‘offender’ but forgive forget and move on towards a one nation country from where, together, we can build a free and fair society and a prosperous country. My essay would include a brief history of Sri Lanka in general, the history of the Tamil separatist mindset, birth and progress of the LTTE, southern insurrection of the early 1970s, defeat of the LTTE and the aftermath and occult unwillingness of the Tamils to join main stream politics. A summary with a short analysis would follow.
Succinct Sri Lankan History
Ours was a sovereign country ruled almost exclusively by Singhalese kings for around two thousand years. Tamils from South India specially the Cholas had been invading Sri Lanka from time to time for centuries and also ruling parts of the country off and on but never had an unchallenged kingdom as such. Four Singhalese kings re-established sovereignty of Sri Lanka and brought the country under one flag by chasing away the Tamils back to South India. In chronological order they are Dutugemunu (164 BC-140BC), Vijayabahu I 1055-1100), Parakramabahu (I) the Great (1153-1186) and Parakramabahu IV (1410-1467). Parts of the country fell under the Portuguese in 1505 and pushing Tamils back to South India itself got pushed to the back burner. Then the country fell to the Dutch in 1640 and lastly to the British we fell in 1796. We were a dominion state for 442 years till we were given independence by the British in 1948.
Tamil Separatist Mindset
British rule of Ceylon spanned from 1796 to 1948. Legislative council of Ceylon (LC) established by the Colebrook-Cameron Commission was indeed the harbinger of a representative government in British Ceylon. It had 16 members of whom 10 were ex-officio British starting with the British Governor etc. and 6 were appointed unofficial members who had no voting rights at council meetings. The 6 unofficial members comprised of 3 Europeans, 1 Singhalese, 1 Tamil and 1 Muslim. Tamils representation remained on par with the Singhalese. The unofficial members got the right to initiate legislation that did not deal with finances in 1860. The number of members of the Legislative Council kept on increasing with multiple reforms, the last reform leading to a number of 49 but the balance of power always weighed heavily towards the British, the rulers.
The Donoughmore Commission (DC) was responsible in effect, for the creation of the Donoughmore Constitution in Ceylon. In 1931 there were approximately 12% Ceylonese Tamils, 12% Indian Tamils (migrant and immigrant workers employed in the Tea plantations established in the late 19th century), 65% Sinhalese, and ~3% Ceylon Moors. The British government had introduced a form of communal representation with a strong Tamil representation, out of proportion to the population of the Tamil community. The Sinhalese had been divided into up-country and low-country Sinhalese. The majority Sinhalese MPs worked hard to replace the DC by a cabinet model. They finally managed to get rid of it in 1947 when the Soulbury constitution came into being with independence granted in 1948.
Soulbury commission was appointed in 1944 by the British rulers to study how self-governance could be granted to the Ceylonese. The Tamil leadership had by then fallen into the hands of G. G. Ponnambalam who had rejected the “Ceylonese identity”. Ponnambalam opposed universal franchise, supported the caste system, and claimed that the protection of Tamil rights required the Tamils having an equal number of seats in parliament to that of the Sinhalese even though the population of Ceylon at that time comprised of 74% Singhalese, 18% Tamils, 7% Muslims and 1% other ethnicities. This “50-50” or “balanced representation” policy became the hall mark of Tamil politics of the time and in a hidden way ever since. This essentially meant each Tamil being entitled to 4 votes while a single Singhalese could cast only 1 vote. The Soulbury Commission rejected these submissions by Ponnambalam, and even noted their unacceptable communal character. Every Tamil political leader that followed sang from the same hymn sheet. Outwardly they appeared as if they were following mainstream politics but covertly they appeared to be the mouth piece of the emerging terrorist organization the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
How Tamils Justified this Mindset
Ponnambalam sentiment of rejecting Ceylonese identity and universal franchise with Tamils wanting a disproportionately high representation in Ceylon (later Sri Lanka) parliament is something Tamils specially the leaders of political parties seemed to have found difficult shed long after Ponnambalam himself seemed to have abandoned it either for good or for convenience. At the parliamentary elections held in 1947 the United National Party (UNP), a predominantly Singhalese party, won with a slim majority but cobbled up a government with two Nationalist parties, Sinhala Maha Saba of Banadaranaike and the Tamil Congress of G.G. Ponnambalam. The void created by Ponnambalam’s `transformation to a moderate’ was taken by a party called Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (Ceylon Federal Party or just FP) founded by a dissident from Ponnambalam’s All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), a London educated lawyer by the name S.J.V. Chevanayakam. This party advocated federalism as a means of power sharing. All the Tamil political parties that followed were ultranationalist and sectarian.
In 1956 the Bandaranayake government made Singhalese the official language and as a result communal riots broke out. All Tamil parties, FP, the ACTC and Ceylon Workers Congress (CWC), the latter comprising of the labour force imported from South India by the ruling British, joined and formed the Tamil United Front (TUF) in 1972. This party became increasingly nationalistic, in 1976 rebranded themselves Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) and asked for a separate Tamil state. CWC disagreeing with the new stance of the union left at this juncture and went on as a stand-alone party.
Birth and Progress of the LTTE
Is it just coincidental that just a few months earlier in July 1975 the terrorist organization called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) announced its birth by gunning down the Mayor of Jaffna named Alfred Duraiappah who happened to be a member of the ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) which was enough reason for the precursors of the LTTE to consider him a traitor? LTTE was considered by many the armed wing of the TULF. The communist insurrection of the south of the country launched in April 1971 (which is being discussed further down the essay) very likely positively influenced the birth of the LTTE. The latter probably realized that they (unlike the JVP their southern counterpart) could keep their organization going longer as they could ‘hit and run’ to South India if `waters became too hot’ for their survival. This is indeed exactly what they did, not infrequently.
At the time of British leaving the country and handing over power of self-governance to the Ceylonese (Ceylon was renamed Sri Lanka in 1972) the systemic malady of the whole country was weighing heavily in favour of the minority Tamils in practically all spheres. English was the official language. Jaffna had the largest number of good schools quite a few set up by American missionaries and has been producing a staggeringly greater number of public servants and professionals. Even the University admissions were highly incongruent with the percentage population. In my batch of Medical students at The Faculty of Medicine, University of Ceylon, Peradeniya one of the only two medical schools in the country, in 1967, there were a total of 76 out of which 54 were Tamils. In the previous year’s batch out of 76 the astounding majority of 68 were Tamils whilst the population of the Tamils in the country as a whole was only 18%. (The authenticity of these can be verified from the university senate) This was too good to be true and something needed to be done. The government of the day brought in reforms to the admission criteria to the universities. It was standardization of university admissions on the basis of numbers sitting the GCE Advanced Level Examination in the two main media Singhalese and Tamil at first. A district quota system was added later in 1972. Students in the Singhalese medium science stream were given a lower target too considering poor educational facilities available in the vast majority of the schools in the rest of the country. All these were construed by the Tamils as giving an undue advantage to the Singhalese whereas this was in fact righting a historical wrong. (With the change of Government in 1977 the admission system was revised again to just a fixed percentage (30%) on merit alone, fixed district quotas and a quota for underprivileged areas.) With this system some of the Jaffna GCE Advanced levelers failed to enter their preferred faculties of the university and naturally felt left behind though this was indeed the case in the rest of the island too. These disgruntled GCE Advanced level students became a good nidus for LTTE radicalism to be nurtured. For the Tamil politicians who were virtually a proxy of the LTTE this group seemed to give a ready supply of cadres. This might have acted as one of the key reasons for all Tamil parties to join and form TUF in 1972. By 1976 however the Nationalism of the Tamil community has reached a level that made the TUF change its name to Tamil United Liberation Front or TULF which started to battle for a separate state, Eelam. LTTE killed 13 government soldiers in Jaffna in July 1983 and in the riots that ensued a few Tamils died and a large number lost livelihood and property. These riots made the frustrated Tamil youth more militant and LTTE cadre numbers increased in leaps and bounds. The Terrorist organization grew in confidence too. By this time the LTTE was a significant force which saw the hands that fed them as not radical enough for their liking. They eventually annihilated all other Tamil armed groups such as EROS, PLOTE, EPDP, and EPRLF by killing their hierarchy and then turned their guns towards the TULF. They killed the Leader of the TULF Mr. Amirthalingam in 1989. All in all in the ensuing two and a half decades from 1975 or so they had killed a total of 44 Tamil politicians whom they thought were obstructive in some way. This is the link to the list of those victims 44 Prominent Sinhala/Tamil Leaders killed by LTTE Talibans – InfoLanka Forum. LTTE also killed Rajiv Gandhi, Prime Minister of India in May 1991 by suicide bombing. President of Sri Lanka R. Premadasa was killed at the May Day rally of 1993 by LTTE suicide bomber Babu. Ranjan Wijeratne Defence Minister was killed in a LTTE car bomb explosion in March 1993, Former Defense Minister and Head of DUNF Lalith Athulathmudali was killed in April 1993 by a lone LTTE gunman, Senior Cabinet Minister and Presidential candidate Gamini Dissanayake was killed in April 1994 in a bomb blast at an election rally and Laksman Kadirgarmar Minister of Foreign affairs was killed in August 2005 by a LTTE sniper. Amongst the other Singhalese Ministers and MPs who were killed by the LTTE are Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi Former Cabinet Minister (1994) G.M. Premachandra r (1994), Ossie Abeygoonasekera (1994) C.V.Goonaratne Minister of Industrial Development (2000), D.M.Dissanayake Minister of Nation Building (2008), Jeyaraj Fernandopulle Minister of Highways & Road development (2008), Apart from these there is a large number of others belonging to categories like politics, academia, journalism, civil service, clergy, three forces and the police etc. who became victims of LTTE brutality. These individuals belonged almost exclusively to the majority ethnic group Singhalese.
Southern Ceylonese Insurrection of 1971
After the assassination of her husband SWRD Bandaranaike in late 1959 his widow Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the Prime minister of Ceylon in July 1960. In fact she became the first ever woman Prime Minister in the whole wide world. She had an intermission of 5 years from 1965 to 70 after losing to the UNP and regained Premiership of the country in 1970 through a coalition with two left leaning parties the Lanka Samasamaja Party or LSSP and the Communist Party of CP. This government championed austerity, encouraged local production and restricted imports. People did have to face some hardship but they were not insurmountable being not too hard and the country was slowly heading towards self-sufficiency.
An outcast Ceylonese scholar of the Lumumba University of Soviet Russia Rohana Wijeweera (RW) returned to the island and launched an armed uprising against the government in April 1971. He led a group almost exclusively consisting of Singhalese unemployed university graduates, undergraduates who were staring down the employment barrel and rural youth who could easily be indoctrinated that they have been left behind by the Colombo led government. Their grouse was Colombo and bigger cities were being looked after well but those of them in the periphery had been left behind. Their slogan “All for Colombo and None for the Periphery” which went down well with the southern youth was pretty much similar to the winge of the youth in the north who later were to launch a rebellion on similar grounds. This was a leftist insurrection built on the lines of Argentinian freedom fighter Ernesto Che Guevara and in fact these rebels initially called themselves Che Gueverists.
This rebellion was ill timed, ill planned and a leftist or a communist one. Government was young and not that unpopular either. Western countries are supposed to have helped the Ceylonese government to quell the uprising it was told at that time. With all these factors in the background the rebellion came under control in about a month and a half or so. The exact numbers were not known but it is reckoned that about 60,000 young men and women (I personally feel the numbers were much less) paid the ultimate prize dying in combat and being summarily executed on capture and in custody. For the first time in our history we the Ceylonese saw the burning roadside ‘tyre pyres’ and breathed the pungent air of incinerating human flesh, where motionless bodies of some of the insurgents were cremated in ‘public’ as a deterrent to, the would be rebels. A large number who were connected but not heavily involved were put in concentration camps and later rehabilitated. I guess these are tactics most democratically elected governments would deploy to quell a rebellion of this nature and even though a large number of insurgents were summarily executed the international community was silent probably because this was a left leaning rebellion of the same ethnicity as the governing party. What is important to note is the frightful similarity of the insurgencies of the north and south as per the cause, the way they were quelled and how some in custody allegedly disappeared. The important difference is Singhalese accepting the government response and moving on and the Tamils asking for an `eye for and eye’ and refusing to move on.
The Che Gueverists later became a democratic party under the name of Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna or the JVP the leader of which contested the Presidential elections of 1982 and was placed the third just behind the two main parties polling something like 300,000 votes. Very soon afterwards the JVP was proscribed (in a way scapegoated for the 1983 riots, the infamous black July) and made to disappear` underground’ from where they regrouped and launched a second armed struggle, this time against a very strong autocratic government of President J.R. Jayewardene. This proved suicidal and similar tactics to what were deployed against the 1971 insurrection were instituted to get the situation under control. Leaders including the main man Rohana Wijeweera were apprehended and summarily executed while some others were arrested and released years later. JVP remains a mainstream political party to date albeit much progress though.
Rise and Fall of the LTTE
LTTE grew from strength to strength because of their own stealth wealth (thanks to some rich local Tamils and of course the Diaspora) and perseverance and the boundless general support they received from the Tamil diaspora scattered all over the world. Tamil diaspora worked round the clock to justify in the eyes of the international community, the atrocities the LTTE unleashed on innocent civilians, by portraying them as liberation fighters of an oppressed community and not as a bunch of terrorists, in which endeavor they succeeded for the most part. However the Chandrika Bandaranaike government appointed the charismatic statesman Lakshman Kadirgamar, an erudite Oxford Graduate and a Barrister at law as the Minister of Foreign Affairs and his job was to try and negate the massive propaganda campaign of the Tamil diaspora which was indeed a herculean task. Herculean or not he was up to it and managed to get the world’s most ruthless terrorist outfit of the time the LTTE banned in 32 countries that mattered, most being from the west including Canada and USA. UK followed suit later. Diaspora and the LTTE were not amused. Kadirgamar was assassinated by a LTTE sniper in August 2005 while taking a swim in his home swimming pool down Cinnamon Gardens in Colombo 7.
Support of the Tamils world over for the LTTE and the growth of the latter as a consequence were almost relentless and exponential. They procured cargo liners which transported sophisticated communication equipment, arms and ammunition and indeed long life food from far flung countries. They kept on unleashing their atrocities on innocent civilians and ethnically cleansed the north and east `their so called traditional homeland’ of Singhalese and Muslims and then turned to border villagers massacring them in cold blood. This video I made as a response to the unconditional support John MacDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, Labour Party, England exhibited towards proscribed LTTE enumerates some of the atrocities perpetrated by the LTTE on Singhalese civilians. The list is between 6.50 minutes and 9.30 minutes but please take the time to watch the whole video if possible.
LTTE signed many ceasefire agreements with Sri Lanka government through the intervention of foreign countries like Norway but they were very short lived. LTTE were not sincere in any of these negotiations and made use of such opportunity to regroup and re-arm themselves in situations they felt weakened. The 13th Amendment to the Sri Lanka constitution that was passed to establish provincial councils through which power could be devolved was rejected by the LTTE at the 11th hour and fighting resumed. Government and other Singhalese political parties were getting sick and tired of the tactics of the LTTE when they closed the sluice gates of a reservoir at Mavil Aru depriving water to many parts of the eastern province during one such ceasefire agreement in July 2006.
Government tried to come to a negotiated settlement but failed. With the backing of almost the whole of the parliament the Government decided to fight the war to a finish and declared the ceasefire agreement null and void. They then launched a full blooded attack on the LTTE and after nearly one year of fierce fighting they declared in July 2007 the whole of the east as liberated from the clutches of the LTTE. Thereafter the government pressed on with the offensive in the north till one after another LTTE strongholds fell. The last and the decisive onslaught happened at Mullaithivu, the last of the terrorist strongholds. Fierce fighting continued for nearly 5 months since the government forces entered the Mullaithivu town in January 2009.
The public offices were closed and all government servants and civilians were asked to leave the area to government controlled areas in view of the planned military action on the 25th January 2009. However `civilians’ were seen moving north towards the same places in to which LTTE was seen to withdraw. The civilians either seemed to have felt more secure with the LTTE on their own volition or the LTTE’s threats of bodily harm to self or family made them move away from the government forces. In this last stage of the war it is possible that the LTTE had the civilians in front of them as a shield and this may have resulted in a significant number of civilian casualties. It is hard to believe that the security forces deliberately targeted the civilians. The body of the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was later found floating in the Nandikadal lagoon and the Government forces declared victory on the 18th May 2009.
The Aftermath and Unwillingness of Tamil Leaders to Move on
Sri Lankans breathed a long sigh of relief at the conclusion of the 30 years of gruesome terrorism that cost hundreds of thousands of lives, many due to indiscriminate remote controlled bombings by the LTTE in thickly populated Singhalese areas, ethnic cleansing by the LTTE of Singhalese and Muslims in areas Tamils believed to be their `traditional homeland’ and of course at `face to face’ fighting in the final 18 months or so. I am certain that at least some of the innocent Tamils albeit a few, who may have got dragged in to the conflict due to no fault of theirs would have breathed a sigh of relief too. The country was being dragged down in to economic craters by this 30 year war and it was time to forgive, forget and move on. This was the last thing that happened. People at large in Jaffna Seemed ready to move on but the so called educated people and the TNA which was the democratic façade of the LTTE by Dr.S.I. Keethaponcalan which says “The Tamil National Alliance TNA was formed in 2001. At its inception it was an umbrella organization consisting of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), the All Ceylon Tamil Congress (ACTC), the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO), and the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front IEPRLF). The organization was a Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) creation. Since it was a LTTE creation the party supported the LTTE and took orders from the LTTE”] had not finished yet. They hung on to civilian deaths, the so called involuntary disappearances and `war crime’s to keep the `glow on the cinders’ of the Tamil issue. One can see from the unrelenting protests in front of Embassies, representations to the UN, UK and the US congress that the Tamils who can be described as `Tigers prowling and growling on the fringes’ while their blood thirsty stronger kin were at work, have taken over from where the latter had left albeit in a different way but what is crystal clear is what they want is a renewal and revival of the battle for a separate state even if it meant fighting unto death not of theirs of course but of the unsuspecting Jaffna simpleton.
Some ‘democratic fronts’ have declared openly that they were prepared to launch even an armed struggle if deemed necessary at any point. This is the link the article that critiqued his speech Dr. Keethaponcalan who critiqued the said speech supposedly made at the 16th Annual Convention of the TNA held in Jaffna on the 30th June 2019 has quoted “Recently Mr. R. Sambanthan the leader of the Tamil National Alliance asserted that there is a need to think about an arms struggle if it is the only way to get a political solution” The author analyses this mindset of the Tamil leaders with surgical precision. The author has been a fierce critic of the Tamil leadership as per many stands they have taken and dishonesty shown towards the Jaffna public. He has also noted a visible sea change in the attitude of the emerging Tamil leadership in the form of Mr. A. Sumanthiran whom he calls de facto leader of TNA. His tone seems to have mellowed recently in to a subdued one in which he had shown willingness to go along with the mainstream of Sri Lankan politics. Dr. Keethaponcalan talks in his article to Colombo Telegraph about Sumanthiran as having said “Nothing could be predicted now. We cannot just say we are joining the government and accepting ministries… But I am not saying we will not do that” This is indeed good news to all right thinking people and hope Sri Lanka would remain a country devoid of any armed ethnic conflict in the future and indeed it would now be possible for the two main ethnicities to do the hither to impossible thing, joining hands and working together to build a one nation country which for sure would gallop towards development. Dr. S.I.Keethaponcalan being an authority on ethnic conflict would I am sure see his assertions being regarded by the international community as credible and unbiased.
Dr. S.I. Keethaponcalan is a Professor of Conflict Resolution at Salisbury University, Maryland USA. He was the chair of the Conflict Analysis and Dispute Resolution Department from 2011-2018. Prior to joining Salisbury University he was a Professor of Political Science and chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. Dr. Keethaponcalan has also served as a researcher in several international institutions including the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) in Geneva and the United Nations University in Tokyo.
Summary and Suggestions
No country rich or poor likes to be plagued by a protracted armed struggle by a fairly or unfairly disenfranchised sect of her nation. Rich countries might have a higher degree of tolerance and also might have the wherewithal to entice the disgruntled fighters to a trusted negotiation table as happened with Northern Ireland. When it comes to developing countries like Sri Lanka however, dealing with an organization claiming a long and a strong history of almost genetic separatism as I have explained in this essay with an infinite commitment to achieve its goal no matter what, and who broke a large number of ceasefire agreements often brokered by foreign agencies they have only a Hobson’s choice left, fight the heck off the terrorists and fight they did.
It was sporadic acts of terror like gunning down an unarmed government servant, at the beginning which graduated to the position of being able to blast hundreds of civilians into smithereens, to frequent episodes of guerrilla warfare and then to a combination of all these that made LTTE one of the most feared terrorist outfits in the whole wide world. Sri Lanka kept on fighting the Guerrillas for nearly 30 years with a great deal of patience when of course the LTTE decided to take the government on by closing down the sluice gates of Mavil Aru in the Eastern province, in July 2006 in the middle of a ceasefire agreement. Unfortunately for the terrorists, their democratic arm the TNA and the unstinted supporters the diaspora, this time around the LTTE was up against a fierce opposition in the form of President Mahinda Rajapakse (remember it was in his electorate that some JR goons met with their `Waterloo’ around an election time may be of 1994) backed by almost the whole of the parliament and the rest is history.
Although it took almost 3 years for the government to draw the war to a conclusion and `call it quits’ it must have felt almost a ‘thud’ to the surviving TNA and the Tamil Diaspora all over the world for whom years immediately preceding the ‘Great Mavil Aru Debacle’ of the LTTE, Eelam dream had indeed become a real oasis within sight. For them this defeat which most countries in the world would have treasured was not only unpalatable but greatly obnoxious. They darted hither and thither and went pell mell trying to find something…just something…anything to build up a case before the international community against their `offenders’ Sri Lanka and found `war crimes’, involuntary disappearances, human right violations etc. etc. to do so on.
What is important to understand is this was not a conventional war except perhaps in the last 3 months of it in 2009 fought on any international rules by both parties. Still successive Sri Lanka governments seem to have acted with a great deal of restraint until the dying moments of the battle of Mullaithivu when some civilians may have been caught in the fire from both sides. These are not war crimes. Holding innocent civilians as human shields by the LTTE and gunning down those trying to escape of course is. I cannot vouch or not for the authenticity of the alleged involuntary disappearances and cannot justify if they did happen but I can understand why, because this is exactly what happens when deploying tactics as done by most governments of the world trying to quell insurgencies of this kind. (Cf. Communist Insurgency in Malaysia 1968-1989.) Some Singhalese suffered this fate during the Southern Insurrections 1971 and 1989 about which the international community didn’t have any sleepless nights and the country moved on.
As Dr. Keethaponcalan found out on his expedition to and travails of the North and East of Sri Lanka, the simpleton of these areas is in no mood for restaging the drama `liberating the Tamil Eelam using Tigers’ even though their leaders have been trying to drum up enthusiasm locally and internationally for a repeat performance. The ground reality has indeed dawned on the pragmatic de facto TNA leader Sumanthiran who has since mellowed into considering joining the government, accepting some ministries, start working for the country in general and for rebuilding destroyed infrastructure of the North and east and redeeming the lost dignity and pride of the Tamil people. I am repeating what Mr. Sumanthiran has said as depicted by Dr.K in one of his articles here. ““Nothing could be predicted now. We cannot just say we are joining the government and accepting ministries… But I am not saying we will not do that”.
I feel strongly this is the right attitude and the right way forward. I wish Sumanthiran well. This being the case, being shylocks asking for their pound of flesh by instituting innumerable protests, lobbying international forums and trying to get resolutions passed to recognize ‘A Traditional Tamil Homeland’ would be scratching scabs off healing wounds and to negate all the good work done by free thinking leaders like Sumanthiran towards realization of a realistic reconciliation to move on towards a one nation country. As a senior doctor under whose tutelage a lot of Tamil junior doctors blossomed I found Tamils hardworking, easy to work with and very trustworthy. I would not hesitate to vote for and to canvass votes for an honest charismatic Tamil leader with a vision towards a just and fair society over a not so good a Singhalese candidate at the next presidential election and I am certain many would follow me suit. This statement should not be construed as undermining and/or underestimating the honourabilty of my own ethnic group Singhalese.
*Dr. M.M. Janapriya MBBS (Cey), LRCP (Lon) MRCS (Eng), FRCSEd, FRCS (Eng), Retired Senior Consultant Surgeon, The National Hospital of Sri Lanka, Colombo