By Dayan Jayatilleka –
Mr Jayantha Gunasekara PC has sought to refute my criticism of his recent piece which appeared in the Features page of the Daily News, of Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 under the caption ‘TNA! POLICE POWERS A WAY TO HURT WESTERN PROVINCE TAMILS’ and bore the subheading ‘Catering to LTTE Diaspora’. In his reply, Mr Gunasekara PC has helpfully provided his bio-data too.
Having read his original article I had raised two questions. They were and are:
- Are the Tamils of the Western Province regarded as potential hostages in the event of a TNA victory in the Northern Provincial Council and a legitimate assertion of Constitutional rights by that Council?
- Is a veiled threat being issued through the state media that Tamils in the Western Province will be targeted if the TNA and the Northern Provincial Council do not behave with due obsequiousness?
In that article Mr Gunasekara PC, wrote: “…Tamils who live in the Western province will have to exert pressure on the TNA, not to endanger their businesses, their properties and their liberty by the TNA catering to the LTTE diaspora agenda, for a mess of pottage.
It is common knowledge that the TNA do not represent the Sri Lanka Tamils…
…They are instructed as to the manner in which they should act, to achieve a SEPARATE STATE OF TAMIL EELAM, through Police and Land Powers. This is High Treason.”
These allegations are utterly unsubstantiated. While I have been on more occasions than not, a critic of the TNA (most recently about their possible interface with the TGTE), it cannot be said that the TNA which creditably won a popular vote in the army controlled North and parts of the East, “does not represent the Sri Lanka Tamils.” While it may not represent the Tamils outside the North and East, it is certainly the pre-eminent democratic representative of the Tamil people of those areas. Nor can it be proved that the TNA members “are instructed” by anyone, leave alone to “act to achieve a separate state of Tamil Eelam”. Surely Mr Gunasekara PC should know that some shred of evidence must be provided for such drastic accusations. Still less can it be proved that this is achievable or that the TNA strives to achieve “a separate state of Tamil Eelam through land and police powers”.
Let us return to the original article of Jayantha Gunasekara PC. He wrote:
“Let them not endanger the lives of and property of Colombo Tamils and the peace-loving Northern Tamils, who have heaved a sigh of relief, that at long last they have been released from under the jackboots of the LTTE, with the end of the war in 2009.Statistics indicate that of the 11 per cent Tamils of Sri Lankan origin, 4 per cent are scattered mainly in the Western countries. Of the balance 7 per cent, one half are living in Colombo and the WP. Only a MINISCULAR live in the North and East!
Among those who live in the South are professionals – lawyers, doctors, engineers, accountants. Many are in the corporate sector occupying high positions as chairmen of conglomerates. Quite a number are in business. Most of the imports such as sugar, potatoes, dhal, onions etc are in the hands of Tamil businessmen. All these Tamils function without any hindrance from the Central Government or the majority community. We wish to tell the TNA, do not draw hatred towards all Tamils by your communal minded attitude.”
Let us focus closely: “… All these Tamils function without any hindrance from the Central Government or the majority community. We wish to tell the TNA, do not draw hatred towards all Tamils by your communal minded attitude.”
Is this a warning that a Western PC with land and police powers may make inroads into the property of Tamils in the province? Hardly! It is explicit and blood curdling: “do not draw hatred towards all Tamils by your communal minded attitude…” And who is referred to in the immediately preceding sentence as holding the destiny of “all Tamils” – or perhaps Western Province Tamils—in their palm? Precisely “the Central Government or the majority community.”
The message is clear and it is a two pronged threat. The TNA is The Enemy. Far more Tamils live outside the North. Their “lives and property” stand in jeopardy and are actually or potentially hostage to good behaviour as perceived by the state and Sinhala society. What is on display here is a hysterical demonization—an ‘ Othering’ – which is the same sort of thing that Cyril Mathew used to do in the parliament and through his publications distributed through direct mail with a Ministry of Industries seal.
Jayantha Gunasekara, PC wants an island-wide Referendum. It does not seem to have occurred to him that such a referendum would clearly reveal a split between the North and east and the rest of the country. The North and east would vote one way, the Southern two thirds another. This would reconstitute the political map of the merged North-East at the very least. It would also be a reconstitution of the map of Tamil Eelam. Mr Gunasekara’s referendum on the 13th amendment could also be a referendum in the North and East for a re-merger and even Tamil Eelam.