19 October, 2017

Angels And Demons Of Democracy – In Lanka

By Suren Rāghavan

Dr. Suren Rāghavan

Dr. Suren Rāghavan

In any society that is drawn into a protracted civil war, there are three curtail conditions for the future. 1 ) How to end the war with minimum damages 2) How to make sure such war is not repeated and 3) Fast socio- economic recoveries to fill the years of lost opportunities.

In Sri Lanka, where South Asia’s longest civil war of modern history took place, one is still debating on all three frontiers, perhaps with even deeper disagreements. The regime loyalists and ultra nationalist southerners believe President Mahendra Rajapaksa solved the conflict – the best possible way by destroying world’s most text book terrorist group with the same techniques they thrived on. Tamil nationalists (separatists or otherwise) firmly argue that Mullaivaikaal produced a ‘Rajapaksa Doctrine’ on civil war which is a genocide of minority rights groups. They continue to ask justice from the International Community.  The military nature of the conflict has ceased. While peace and social justice are far from realities, one can agree that there are no urban suicide missions blowing off caught up school children. Similarly there are no indiscriminative carpet bombing on targets killing all civilians in between. In the balance of games, southerners may be bit luckier than the Tamils of the North who still painfully live in the most militarized land mass in South Asia[1] That is the reality of war. The victor has more benefits. It is up to the morale conduct of the victor to be magnanimous.

The way the conflict ended is irreversible. Future historians will write the judgment. It is on the other two remaining factors that Sri Lanka, as a collective society could still make a difference however challenging or demanding a transformative moral imagination from all actors.

Risk of Recurrent (armed) Conflict

The GoSL has sold the war theme at every election during the last 25 years. And the southerners have more or less bought such thesis and mandated the parties those  promised to bring peace by ‘defeating’ the Tamil demand more at the military front and less at the negotiating table. It is a fact that even President Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who campaigned on ‘peace’ platforms were equally ready with military options. They maintained that such strategy is fundamental for the balance of power formula. President Rajapaksa had no such doubts. Well supported by his ethno centric political partners, he campaigned on a military solution and delivered a bold – bloody end. Since then he also has successfully used war victory rhetoric to consolidate and recentralize power at all structural and intuitional level. Perhaps this president above everyone knows that peace as much as war is a political decision. William Zartman (2001)[2] assumed that ‘mutually hurting stalemate’ is the ripen conditions to end protracted wars, enabling a genuine desire to address the fundament reasons for the war and its collateral damages.

However, in the context of the Sri Lanka, such stalemate condition did not arise. While the impact of war managed to fear/damage the ordinary Sinhala society it never forced to alter the Sinhala political class or its ethnonationalist mindset. True, individuals like Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, and Ranasinha Premadasa met with brutal deaths; such departures did not make any fundamental alterations in the southern political or trading class. Instead the Sinhala politics further bunkered deep into ethnonationalist agenda mobilizing the entire state and its regional and international supporters for a total military victory and achieved it. This awards the GoSL to set the agenda purely on a victor’s justice framework. What we have witnessed so far is the absence of a visionary articulation of a wider national project for an undivided yet all inclusive post-conflict democratic Sri Lanka. On the contrary, the southern polity has architectured severe restriction and limitation for a democratic recovery. The extreme form of concentration of political, financial, militaristic and administrative control under one person and his family members, blocking the free flow of information and barring all Tamil political activism, have diminished the possibility of an early return to minimum democratic values.

However, in a comparative sense the opposite is true. Tamils not only suffered at very basic level of society, under the LTTE (more than of GoSL). The political, trading and intellectual class of the Tamil nation have been permanently altered and shattered at the end of the conflict. Except for a few imaginative diaspora activists who continue to believe that Prabaharan is still alive and will come back to fight for them, no one in the Tamil community is actively arguing for a return to war with GoSL. Such diaspora dreams are simply dismissed as despotic thinking of a few who never suffered under the war but stayed in their safe houses of ideology. In fact the multiple dynamics of the Tamil nation within and outside Lanka are in serious discussion on two issues: Immediate survival of the Tamils who had suffered unimaginable hardship and if possible a minimalist democratic recovery through negotiations. Geneva efforts and other occasional interventions ( like of David Camron) are only pressure tactics than a concrete plan to wage a war at Sri Lanka or separation by means of arbitrations. The Tamil nation at this stage, is too weak in it political morale and as always deeply divided on its collective action. Their hopes hangs on thin threads of International Community, multilateral agencies like UNHRC or regional events such as the return of BJP in India.

Thus the hypothesis of risk of return to war is a construction that is well serving the southern elites and newly hired service men from Rohan Gunarathna to DBS Jeyaraj. All what possibly happening is that GoSL, very successfully detecting and destroying many former LTTE activists whom they could not kill in the battle field and using the knowledge they have from former LTTE hardcore leaders such as KP and Karuna to strategically expose to gain political and electoral mileage. The news of Malaysian government arresting and deporting Tiger activists comes in a timely manner at an election, possibly will decide the fate of this regime or at least send strong signals that started transmitting since the Southern Province election.

Sinhala nation has a great capacity to memorialize their memories – even if it is mythological. They still recite the great war of Elara and Gamunu as if it happened few years back. They will remember the brutalities of the LTTE and always believe and justify the annihilation of anyone even falsely accused of being an LTTEer. In that context recurrence of war is a long shadow that fears the Sinhala mind to build any  trust in the Tamils or moderates who argue for a democratic recovery. There is only one political game that GoSL is engaged in. Reconcretized the centralized unitary rule under extended military mechanisms. In fact, if there is any possibility of return to war  scenario it may due to  weight of such dismantling of democracy  leading  to some regional up rise – not  in the north – but in the far south where the ordinary Sinhala family is waiting to see the actual direct benefit of the ‘end of war’. It is in this backdrop that regime will force the Sinhalas to remember that a known devil is better than an unknown angel especially when it comes to electoral politics.

*Suren Rāghavan PhD is a visiting professor at St Paul University – Ottawa and a Senior Research Fellow at Center for Buddhist Studies- University of Oxford. raghavansuren@gmail.com



[1] The Global Militarized Index (GMI) 2013 shows Sri Lanka at the highest place in South Asia with a score of 564 while Pakistan 528, India 459, and Afghanistan 429.

[2] Zartman, William ‘The timing of peace initiatives: Hurting stalemates and ripe moments’ Global Review of Ethnopolitics Volume 1, Issue 1, 2001pgs 8-18 DOI:10.1080/14718800108405087

 

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Latest comments

  • 11
    5

    .
    If Tamil rebels (or terrorists) or Srilankan Army attacks or kills people, it is understandable. Because they follow orders and were trained to kill.

    But from 1983 anti-tamil riots to 2014 anti-muslim attacks, what we see is Buddhists Monks attacking or killing people.

    If Srilanka to move forward, this has to be stopped, and only Sinhalese can stop this.

    :-)

    • 2
      1

      Suren Rāghavan –

      RE: Angels And Demons Of Democracy – In Lanka

      Angels and Demons are just myths.

      What is not myth are the Paras. They are real. They live in Lanka, the Land of Native Veddah. The kill each other, even though those Paras, the Para-Sinhala, the Para-Tamils came from South India a few years ago in modern times.

      “In any society that is drawn into a protracted civil war, there are three curtail conditions for the future. 1 ) How to end the war with minimum damages 2) How to make sure such war is not repeated and 3) Fast socio- economic recoveries to fill the years of lost opportunities.”

      This is the Para- war. The curse of Lanka, and the Demons are the paras…

    • 3
      1

      “But from 1983 anti-tamil riots to 2014 anti-muslim attacks, what we see is Buddhists Monks attacking or killing people:

      you fuuuking barbarian Muslim , post any evidence that Muslims were
      killed in Sri lanka ??

      See the world news at least once a week, you will realize how cannibal Muslims are around the world.. Killing immense number of men,women, children, elders name of a mythical believe and a mythical god who never existed..

      • 3
        3

        Baboon has become angry, when baboon becomes angry their backside swells and becomes bright red !

        This is used to attract female/male baboons for sex. Perhaps Baboon is playing a trick on “Aratai”

        Whether it’s Singhala/Muslims or Tamils life is a life.
        For your information Muslims were killed after ’83 in Sri Lanka
        2001 in Mawanella, maybe u were a baby Baboon or not have seen light of day at that time.

        • 0
          2

          There was not a single death in Mawanella 2001.If you say there was then that is a damned lie. There were assaults and arson attacks but the reason was that a Sinhalese man was attacked by young Muslims alleging that he had tried to steal a packet of cigarettes.
          All that damage for a packet of cigarettes.
          By the way Suren Ragvan [Edited out]

          Part of this comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

      • 0
        0

        Athiest dont believe GOD!!! that’s the truth!!!

      • 0
        2

        This is the type of rubbish that makes a lot of people annoyed. There never ever was a murder committed by the Buddhist monks. Muslims all over the world are getting a bad name because they invade non Muslim countries and then try to impose their ways of life. In England for example the people are up and against the Islamic people: take Egypt: a Muslim country who have ousted the legal President because they a large minority don’t want to be shackled by the rigors of Islam. If they build their own schools instead of Mosques and study more about evolution the world will be a better place.
        By the way I am pro Palestine and anti Israel but the truth is that conflict is being made an excuse to create havoc around the world. Every man has the right to defend his own faith. Muslims please remember that.

        • 3
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          Peter Casie Chetty

          “There never ever was a murder committed by the Buddhist monks.”

          Old chap factcheck before you start typing.

          I will give you a clue, how did SWRD Banda die?

          Buddhist monks incite Muslim killings in Myanmar

          Mon Apr 8, 2013

          http://uk.reuters.com/

          The Lankan Monks That Believe In Violence
          Peace remains elusive as Muslims become the target of Sinhala-Buddhist extremism

          SUBHA WIJESIRIWARDENA
          2013-04-27 , Issue 17 Volume 10

          http://www.tehelka.com/the-lankan-monks-that-believe-in-violence/

    • 1
      1

      Aratai,
      “If Srilanka to move forward, this has to be stopped, and only Sinhalese can stop this.”:
      Yes, only Sinhalese can stop this and they (we) should stop this. If Tamils were 80% of the population, I would say Tamils should stop it..
      I am just wondering why Sinhalese majority can not think What if Sinhalese-Buddhists are 20% of the country and Tamils-Muslims are 80%, Sinhalese would be begging for justice through world body like UN.. $#@?@# Ha Ha … This is quite possible historical event…

      • 0
        1

        What about others in SL. Specially Sinhala- catholics, Burghers,
        Malays, etc……. Who will give passports? who will offer refuge?
        That time they only seek help from GOD that they truly believe.
        Hope you agree with.

  • 1
    4

    Suren,

    There are many truths in what you say.

    The situation in the north is not going to be solved in the short or longer term. The only mediator with a clout who can force the present regime to permit a semblance of respectability for the Sri Lankan Tamils, is the Indian government. However having burnt their fingers once before, they are in no rush to force anything down Sri Lanka’s throat. Furthermore the Chinese are so well entrenched in the Sri Lankan political and economic fabric; it will be now very difficult for India to assert any influence on the Rajapaksa regime. Tamil Nadu with such a huge Tamil population could only watch wringing their hands in despair while their Sri Lankan cousins were being subjected to the most horrific acts of bestiality. With no respite in sight for the hapless Tamils they have no choice but to live by the rules of the Rajapaksas.

    The fate of the Muslims is no better. They are just lambs waiting for the slaughter. When the carnage, rape and pillage are over the Rajapaksa brothers will rise up even more powerful.

    It is possible the disaffected Sinhala youth may rise again however it is a certainty that if they do they will be crushed again.

    Basically the country and its people are doomed.

    (Suren, You must get your articles edited prior to publishing – too many language errors my friend.)

    • 4
      1

      BBS rep,
      I usually like to read yours comments. But your comment about Suren’s language skills is ugly.. very old kind of South Asian Curry thinking… Please take back your comments. My knowledge on Newtons laws, Maxwell laws or Space-time relativity are much better than my English language & grammar, but none of my native English teachers ever complained about my English(I am not good with my first language either) .. Please note, Suren discuss about social issues which are more complex and difficult to comprehend than Newtons or Maxwell scientific laws.

      • 0
        0

        Ok AVB,

        Error of judgement.I take back my comment about Suren’s Language skills. I agree it could upset people including Suren.

      • 0
        0

        AVB,

        It is true that Ragavan discusses social issues in some depth. But because he gives out his bio as a visiting professor and a researcher, BBS Rep’s feedback on “editing” before “publishing” is valid. Suppose you publish a book and someone is asked to review it. Then the reviewer will comment on the language, including any stylistic and grammatical errors.

    • 3
      3

      BBS:

      I agree with you that the only Nation which can change the Tamil fortune is India. But I disagree that India will think twice to get involved and the reason why Rajiv paid a terrible price was because the IPKF simply replaced the Sri Lankan army and carried on the killing.
      Where as under Modi it wont happen.
      By the way there is no China Card Sri Lanka can play which is a Red herring. Chinese influence is limited and India has the luxury of pulling the plug any time under the pretext of her security as Sri Lankas sovereignty is limited to Indias Security. I know that the vast majority of Sinhalese will not accept this but it is a reality.
      Just to give you one recent example as you know the Chinese navy sought Indias permission to send Ships to search for the missing Malaysian Airline near Sri Lanka but India refused to allow.

  • 4
    3

    “in Sri Lanka, where South Asia’s longest civil war”
    To:Suren Rāghavan –
    Dont write craps , it wasn’t a civil war , indeed it was a rebellion formed by group of Tamils who were supported by Tamils who living in Sri lanka and abroad. Also, powerful Indian RAW behind the wall, They had created the master plan.

    It was defeated some how by Sinhalese Army.

    • 2
      4

      Bebon

      “It was defeated some how by Sinhalese Army.”

      Please add this to your Mahawamsa myth.

      • 1
        0

        Native Vedda ,

        Can you provide any valid proof to justify your claim? I would love to read it

        • 3
          1

          bebon

          “Can you provide any valid proof to justify your claim? I would love to read it”

          It was stated by the clan chief on TV and interviews given to media after the war had ended. His brother the Sinhala/Buddhist butcher in chief too thanked Hindia for their support.

          Please refer to NDTV and related media for evidence.

          NDTV Walk the talk: Rajapaksa “I was fighting India’s battle” part

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cl67mP0rcdo

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8mXorA0kwY

  • 3
    0

    Angels And Demons Of Democracy are the VOTE seeking politicians of the West and the Tamil Diaspora & the Catholic Church who have created Martyers of misleading the innocent Tamil Youth & Children of Sri Lanka.

  • 5
    0

    “Except for a few imaginative diaspora activists who continue to believe that Prabaharan is still alive and will come back to fight for them, “

    Risen from the dead Prabakaran brought to the level of Jesus Christ by S.J.Emmanuel who equated the suicide cadres to that of Martyrs.

    Eelam war was all about the Catholic Church instigation to expand the Holy Roman Empire at the expence of Prabakaran & the LTTE.
    The New World Order where where Vaticam spies for the CIA through priests, clergy religious and nuns.
    We the catholics the followers are the expendable suckers and I am one of them but will not buy their ideology anymore..

  • 3
    5

    Here is a scholar!A very balanced article taking in to consideration the ground realities.

    Dr. Suren Rāghavan should write more often and educate all of us.
    Angels and Demons will not and cannot work together, unless they come out of their invisible, imaginary cloaks.

  • 2
    2

    Vedda,

    You are a Tamil and not a veddah right ?

    • 3
      0

      Ravi Perera

      Sinhala speaking Demela

      “You are a Tamil and not a veddah right ?”

      You are Sinhala speaking Demela and not a descendant of Ravana, aren’t you?

  • 2
    2

    Ragavan,

    Smarting from defeat aren’t you ?

  • 1
    0

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

    • 1
      1

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

      • 3
        0

        Peter Casie Chetty

        Old chap

        Are you suffering from writer’s block? Please try writing the usual “bo****ks” it might cure you.

  • 3
    5

    Dr.Raghavan:

    You sound as if the Tamil Nation has disappeared but on the contrary we are back from the Brink thanks to divine intervention in the form of Modi & Jeya. The Sinhalese will never destroy 2500 years old Tamil history and heritage. MR is the head of the Axis of evil and his tyrannical regime has come to an end. The first warning shots were fired by Mr.Modi during the 20 minutes meeting MR had with him. There is no way back for MR and it is COMPLY or DIE.

    • 1
      2

      Kali, Neither Modi nor Jayalalitha or any other divine power can save the tamil nation. Only Tamils themselves can. If you think Modi will save you then you are highly mistaken. Remember, Rajiv Gandhi?

    • 4
      1

      kalistani

      “The Sinhalese will never destroy 2500 years old Tamil history and heritage.”

      Be serious how come your history of 3,000 years has been now reduced to 2,500 years?

      Countdown: 65 days.

  • 0
    0

    Dr Raghavan

    Sure, the victor has more benefits but if he was reversed hypothetically for a moment then you would have to say that the victor has all the benefits. I am no Rajapaksa fan but one has to agree that at least there is an opportunity for parties such as TNA which has the same ethno-nationalist mindset of the other mob to express their views. Previously, they could only say what they were told or keep mum otherwise there was no option other than facing the bullet. The extreme form of concentration of political, financial, militaristic and administrative control under one person and his family members is an issue faced by all the communities not just tamil.
    Your claim of Sinhala nation has a great capacity to memorialize their memories is probably a myth. Complete contrast to what the LTTE leader thought of the Sinhala nation. Which nation would imprison the Army Commander who saved them from the terrorists within a few years?

    • 3
      0

      Liyanage

      “Your claim of Sinhala nation has a great capacity to memorialize their memories is probably a myth.”

      Probably a myth, however one has to look back how this island’s manufactured history is told and retold in books, drama, music, orally,…… from Vijaya, Duttu Gamini,…………….. to MR and Gota. Memorialising myth is not new and not going to stop, the history is proliferated with such myth old and new.

      “Which nation would imprison the Army Commander who saved them from the terrorists within a few years?”

      Fonseka “saving” the nation is another myth, please make sure you add it to Mahawamsa.

      Here is something that you would have chose to miss when you start typing your comment:

      Excerpts

      Near site of LTTE’s last stand, a victory memorial that Tamils don’t visit

      Hindu
      October 24, 2012 23:29 IST

      In the heart of northern Sri Lanka, near the place where thousands of Tamil civilians are believed to have been killed during the military’s last successful push against the LTTE, stands a powerful assertion of that victory.

      On a sandy patch of land that saw the most fighting in the final stages of the war in 2009, a victory memorial has come up: rising from a base of large granite rocks, a jubilant soldier, in one hand holding a gun with a pigeon hovering over it, in the other hand the Sri Lankan national flag.

      A sculpted stone lion, Sri Lanka’s national animal, stands at each corner of the square base. In what was once Tamil Tiger territory, the symbolism is hard to miss.

      Busloads of Sinhalese tourists from southern Sri Lanka are streaming to the memorial, and to the ‘war museum’ located next to it, where an assortment of LTTE artillery, guns and Sea Tiger suicide boats are on display.

      Also on the war tourism circuit: an LTTE prison; a bunker four storeys deep, said to have been used by LTTE leader Prabakaran; and a swimming pool in which Sea Tigers practised diving. Visitors also stop at one-exhibit open air sites displaying an armoured vehicle here, a submarine there, and Farah, a Jordanian ship that was seized by the LTTE in 2006.

      Smartly turned out military police direct visitors to the sites from the Puthukudiyiruppu junction.

      About 4.5 km from the junction, on the road to Mullaithivu, a small board announces the War Museum. A soldier guides visitors around the exhibits, loudly reciting the story behind each in Sinhalese.

      Some of the exhibits are displayed in a shed, some in a room, others in the open: one-man suicide boats, the size of big toys, one with shark’s teeth painted around the front; an array of artillery guns, shells, rocket launchers, mortars, machine guns, assault rifles, grenades, anti-aircraft guns. Out under the sun are the Sea Tigers’ bigger boats.

      “Daily we get 500-700 visitors. At weekends, maybe even 2,000,” said a soldier running the army kiosks that sell snacks and soft drinks to tourists. Some of the visitors may have lost a soldier family member during the war.

      At the LTTE leader’s bunker complex, visitors brave the overpowering smell of bats to climb down the four levels to see for themselves Prabakaran’s elaborately designed hideout in a jungle clearing.

      “We are very proud of our army, that’s why we have come here,” said Dayani, a college student from Kurunegala (a little under 250 km from here), as her family walked around a LTTE-designed submarine.

      Predictably, few Tamils hit this trail. On the stretch of the road from the war memorial up to Mullaitivu, even so long after the war’s end, strewn around are the personal belongings of a fleeing people, a distressing jumble of clothes, pots, pans, plastic buckets and mugs.

      Our Tamil companion on the journey — he cannot be named — said the “museums” were like a finger in the eye of Tamils, and that he had never been able to bring himself to visit Prabakaran’s bunker before this.

      http://www.thehindu.com/

  • 0
    2

    Macho Native Vedda,

    Are you jobless

    • 2
      0

      Ravi Perera

      Sinhala speaking Demela

      “Are you jobless”

      I am gainfully employed.

      Do you want to grab it as well.

      I can understand your hapless situation. Why don’t you go to Middle East medieval kingdom instead of sending your women folks there to toil and die?

  • 0
    3

    Veddo,

    “I am gainfully employed.”

    Are you seated in front of the computer all day.

  • 0
    1

    Dear Native Vedda

    About 5 years ago, around 19th of May 2009, a group of settlers led by MR, GR and Fonseka won a fierce battle against another group of settlers led by VP, Pottu Amman and the gang, thus ending a 27 year long war. This is a fact and not a myth and it was witnessed by the every settler in the island, so you are most welcome to add that to your history books. But, where are they? Are they still hidden inside the jungle? Do you realise now the grave mistake your ancestors have made? Not, once they bothered to write about the history of this island. So, what did your ancestors say about the Sinhala and Tamil settlements in the island? Do you at least have any drawings or paintings inside your caves to suggest how it occurred?

    Apparently, Mahavamsa was written in the 5th century and I am puzzled as to why your ancestors did not confront the buddhist monk, Mahanama in relation to its contents. After all they are the earliest settlers of the island and they should have known the history of the land, right? Are you aware of any other publications drafted by other late settlers contradicting Mahavamsa’s stories. If yes, do you also think they are fabrications, too? If not, why not? All this time, you and your ancestors kept spending the day and night hunting meat and collecting honey and all of a sudden, you have just realised that the history of the island has been fabricated.

    Why should the tamils be concerned about a war memorial? The war was not against the tamils and it was against LTTE as MR has claimed. Do the tamils think the war was against them? Did they fight the war? In other words, did they support LTTE, a terrorist organisation which is still proscribed in over 30 countries including US, UK and India. Had VP got hold of Temple Trees, what do you think he would have built?

    Do you know who should be blamed for the current predicament? It is none other than Native Vedda. As the earliest settler of the island, you had an obligation to take charge and lead by example. You did not guide the late settlers and happily watched them fight among themselves while you enjoyed your hunting and honey. You probably thought that once they kill each other, you would be able to live happily once again. Well, you were proven wrong. But, it is not too late, if you want to come out of the jungle and I will be casting my vote for you any day and I am sure you will do a better job compared to the Rajapaksa clan.
    You do not have much time as your days are numbered but I guess you can still save the nation before you become extinct.

    Warm Regards
    Liyanage

  • 0
    0

    Liyanage,

    Don’t waste you time writing serious stuff to this vedda fellow.
    He is not to be taken seriously

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