By C.V. Wigneswaran –
It is indeed ironic that we are remembering a stalwart among our Majority Community Parliamentarians of yesteryears at this citadel of Tamil Letters and Literature on his hundredth birthday. In fact we live at a time when a mere 57th Lane cannot be renamed as Tamil Sangam Lane in Colombo because the word ‘Tamil’ appears to be anathema to some of our governing elites. I am wondering whether calling this Lane as Thamil Sangam Mawatha might be acceptable to those who oppose the renaming. There could be a fusion of Thamil Sangam with Sinhala Mawatha!
The very ground on which this Tamil Sangam Hall is constructed was the venue of our pre-teenage cricketing combats in the late 1940s. Each of us then would consider ourselves the local incarnations of the three Ws who played for West Indies then – Frank Worrel, Clyde Walcott and Everton Weekes apart from the bowling duo Ramaddin & Valentine! Almost all who lived here at 57th lane at that time -both Muslims and Tamils understood the Tamil Language. I believe even today majority of the residents down this very short lane are Tamil speaking. I wonder why there is so much opposition to this road being renamed carrying the Tamil Sangam name.
Such parochial considerations were anathema to Brother Bernard. I prefer to call him Brother Bernard rather than Comrade Bernard since comradeship with those of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party got excised with the passing of the 1972 constitution which took away the plural nature of the citizenry of this country replacing it with a mono lingual, mono religious and mono cultural ambience in Sri Lanka.
Speaking of Brother Bernard one is reminded of the spirit of pre-1972 Sama Samajism, which he so thoroughly effused in his life and conduct. To me pre-1972 Sama Samajism taught us two important lessons. The lesson of empathizing and the lesson of united effort. It is a fact of our recent history among the leftists of this country that learned men and women who could have shone so eminently in their respective fields and lived their lives in the comfortable company of the elite, preferred to identify themselves with the common man, empathising with their feelings, needs and wants. They would sit, talk and eat together with the common man. It was they who taught our common masses that power lies in their united efforts. It was they who remained by the side of the unlettered and the rudderless people goading them to action, which ultimately registered their trade union rights in no uncertain terms. Our working class today are beholden to the pioneering efforts of the Sama Samajists and the Communists. Their parties have no doubt lost the charisma they enjoyed in the past, but their spirit is pervasive among our people specially the working class despite the opportunistic course followed by the Party after 1970.
Bernard was a gentleman to his fingertips. A politician others could emulate without hesitation. His reputation as an honest politician was illustrated by his being returned for the Colombo South electorate even though many voters disagreed with his socialist politics. Another quality about Brother Bernard was that he never harboured grudges against anyone. He was never the vindictive type. It stands to Brother Bernard’s credit that he was Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament from 1964 to 1977 a period of 13 years during which U.N.P held sway from 1965 to 1970. Even his detractors respected his honesty and integrity. Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam said of Brother Bernard as follows. “He refined the principles of financial accountability and made an enormous contribution to improving the quality and accuracy of our public accounts”.
I am indeed privileged to be called upon to speak in his memory. The subject that Brother Tissa gave me, I hope he does not mind my calling him so, because I no more refer to my dear brothers as comrades, is the National Question. Generally the audience would think that National Question means the question that perturbs the Nation. But I do not look at it that way. To me it is a question that deals with the Nations in Sri Lanka- the question that has arisen on account of the non-recognition of Nations in Sri Lanka.
Let me explain.
While the terms ‘country’, ‘state’ and ‘nation’ are often used interchangeably there is some sort of consensus on the different implications of each of these words, especially the words ‘state’ and ‘nation’. A “State” with a capital ‘S’ may mean a self governing political entity recognized by the international community as a distinct state or a division of a federal entity. In the first sense it can be used interchangeably with ‘Country’. But a ‘Nation’ is a tightly knit group of people who share a common culture and perceive themselves as such. A ‘Nation State’ is a Nation, which is coterminous with the borders of a State. Nations are groups of people having relatively greater cultural homogeneity, and perceive themselves to be distinctive. They are generally larger than a single tribe or community, and share a common language, institutions or religion or religions, and historical experiences. There are some States that have two Nations such as Canada and Belgium. There could be Nations without States. Prime examples of these are the Kurds in Iraq. South Ossetians in Georgia are considered by a large majority of the countries in the world to be members of a nation, though Russia and a few other countries have recognized them as belonging to a Nation State.
The Tamil speaking people of the North and East of Sri Lanka are a Nation without a State. They have a number of characteristics which qualify them to such a description – a long history in Sri Lanka which goes to pre-Buddhistic times, a language, probably the oldest living language, which binds them all and distinct cultural practices. The areas of residence of this group of people were delineated even from the time of the Dutch and the British, though certain tinkering was done after independence to change the demographic base of these areas of residence. And the tinkering continues up to date.
There was a time when the Hindus of yore centuries ago became votaries of Gautama the Buddha. But Hinduism had embraced Jainism and Buddhism as part of it and therefore Buddhism is not regarded as foreign to the Hindus. In fact, the five great epics in ancient Tamil literature have Buddhist and Jain theme. The fact that many Tamils practiced Buddhism for two or three centuries accounts for the Buddhist remains in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. I refer to this due to wrong perceptions of history being circulated with ulterior motives in recent times.
The Tamil Speaking Peoples of Sri Lanka constitute a Nation from an objective standpoint and consider themselves to constitute a Nation. They are conscious of the Tamil Speaking Muslim People and recognise and celebrate their aspirations and identity as well.
It was on the 5th of June 1956 that Dr. Colvin R. de Silva said in the Parliament of Ceylon as follows- ‘Parity, Mr.Speaker, we believe is the road to the freedom of our Nation and the unity of its components. Otherwise two torn bleeding states may yet arise of one little State which has compelled a large section of itself to treason, ready for the imperialists to mop up that which imperialism only recently disgorged’.
Dr. de Silva had used the word ‘Nation’ in a larger sense as the Ceylonese Nation, which was co-terminous with the word ‘State’ with a capital ‘S’ and its components as states with simple ‘s’. But his idea remains valid until today. Those who allege that imperialism coming to the aid of those affected by the War should marvel at Dr.de Silva’s foresight and sense of history, for it would appear that such intervention has arisen due to the abject failure on the part of the State to give parity to the nations.
The National Question has arisen on account of our inability to understand the reality of the existence of two nations, or two states as Dr. de Silva said, in this fair Island of ours. Some say it is not that there is inability in understanding on the part of powers that be, but a spirit of aggrandizement has taken control of them in dealing with the minorities in this Country. Some attribute it to the fear of India and Tamil Nadu just a few nautical miles away.
When I was very young we were all British Citizens. That was before Independence. Under the British one felt equal to whom so ever he or she met in this Island of ours. Until 1956 it was so. In fact I started studying the Sinhala Language in the year 1955under Mr.Ellawela who was a teacher at Royal who later became the Vice Chancellor of a University. But in 1956 the Sinhala Only Act had a tremendous negative effect on me. I no more felt the same. I became the aggrieved, a victim of political manoeuvering. In fact I refused to study Sinhala thereafter – a decision I regret now for my Sinhala is imperfect. If I was amply educated in Sinhala I could have gone to every nook and corner of this Island and explained the plight of the Tamils to my Sinhala brethren. I could have laid bare the conspiracy hatched by Politicians to keep the Sinhalese away from the Tamils and to create a rift, which never existed for almost 2000 years. Our history had been a history of kings fighting against each other not Tamils fighting against Sinhalese. Let us not forget that Dutugemunu having been highly impressed by the old King Elara, who at 77 years not wanting to get his subjects involved in a war, fought so valiantly against him, the young man of 28 years that he was, for three days and losing the battle only due to the difference in the height and weight of their respective Elephants Kandula and Parvatham, decided to build a Monument in his remembrance called the Elala Sohana which when built was venerated for centuries even until as recently as in the late 1940s when I resided quite close to it in Anuradhapura.
Be that as it may, if only the stand taken by the L.S.S.P in 1956 to promote parity of status to both Sinhala and Tamil Languages was appreciated and applied the National Question engendering violence would never have seen the light of day. The short sighted but deliberate act of the so-called Sinhala Nationalists contributed to the antipathy between the Sinhala Speaking Nation and the Tamil Speaking Nation which has now found collaborators for both Nations abroad.
At the time when S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike, losing sight of the fact that Northern and Eastern Provinces were always for centuries Tamil speaking, decided to make Sinhala the sole State language he was not only going against the caution laid before him by the L.S.S.P but even decided to refuse taking advise from a leader like Lee Kwan Yew who at that time said that S.W.R.D was making a colossal mistake. Lee Kwan decided to make all four languages, English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil as State languages in Singapore and we see the correctness of his decision as opposed to that of S.W.R.D.
You might think I have oversimplified the National Question to one of languages. The point is that the enthronement of a single language was the most significant attempt to deny the existence of the Tamil Speaking Nation. Please observe that all later developments were either a reaction to the installing of one language over the whole of Ceylon when there was clear cut areas of usage of two different languages which were spoken by two Nations or a reaction to the continued enactment of similar laws with regard to State Colonisation, Standardisation, change of demography, and more recently militarization of the North and East. All these actions stem from the failure or refusal to recognise the existence of two nations. Violence emerged as a response to the persistent and pernicious refusal to recognise the existence of distinct nations. However, the violence took the form of espousing the formation of distinct States. This led to a violent and brutal war that ravaged this country and particularly and overwhelmingly, the Tamils.
The reason I stress on the reason for the violence is because we cannot answer the National Question, without knowing what spawned it. It has to be understood that the National Question is founded in the inability or unwillingness to recognise the plural nature of Sri Lanka’s peoples. The idea of separation was only a reaction to the attempts to destroy the Tamil Speaking Nation. The Tamil Speaking Peoples remain committed to the idea of a single and united State. As a judge I have seen this phenomenon play out in private disputes. The refusal to acknowledge co-ownership of land often leads to partition actions, sometimes to the detriment of both parties, who are left with economically unviable plots of land at the end of the partition action.
How then should we answer the National Question? The short answer is by the simple recognition of the existence of distinct nations. In other words by the celebration of diversity or the entrenchment of pluralism. All this requires is political will. Unfortunately, history has shown that every time there has been some attempt at recognition of the distinct nations in Sri Lanka, subversive forces take control. One is reminded of a comment made in the context of another international conflict – we never seem to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity! Most recently, at the end of the War, the President appeared to be keen on rectifying this problem and his commitment to do so was found to be reasonable by the International Community. In fact the joint communiqué issued by the Secretary–General of the United Nations Mr. Ban Ki-moon and our President on 26th of May 2009 inter alia had these to say –
The President and UNSG agreed that addressing the aspirations and grievances of all communities and working towards a lasting political solution was fundamental to ensuring long term socio economic development;
The President expressed his firm resolve to proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment and begin broader dialogue with all parties including Tamil parties in the new circumstances to further enhance this process to bring about lasting peace and development in SL;
The GOSL will expedite the necessary basic and civil infrastructure as well as means of livelihood necessary for IDPs to resume their normal lives at the earliest;
The SG welcomes announcement by GOSL expressing its intention to dismantle the welfare villages at the earliest as outlined in the plan to resettle the bulk of IDPs and call for its early implementation;
The GOSL reiterated its strongest commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and keeping with international human rights standards and Sri Lanka’s International obligations ;and
The UNSG underlined the importance of an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law. The Government will take measures to address those grievances.
This Joint Communiqué underscores the three areas necessary to answer the National Question. An understanding of the problem, the establishment of necessary supporting conditions and having the political will to solve the issue. Such enlightened viewpoints were short lived. Within a short time, all interest in taking these steps was lost. Instead of taking steps to implement a lasting solution to the National Question steps were taken to implement lasting rule through the implementation of the 18thAmendment. Instead of taking steps to strengthen democratic rule, steps were taken to strengthen autocratic rule through the abolishing of the 17thAmendment. Instead of taking steps to include Tamil Speakers steps were taken to exclude them by banning the singing of the national anthem in Tamil. Instead of building a Sri Lankan identity that is plural in nature, steps were taken to build a Sinhala-Buddhist identity which viewed other identities as subordinate.
Let me examine the specific undertakings given in the communiqué I referred to earlier. It consisted of the following:
1. Working towards a lasting political solution
2. To proceed with the implementation of the 13th Amendment and begin broader dialogue
3. To expedite the necessary basic and civil infrastructure as well as means of livelihood necessary for IDPs to resume their normal lives at the earliest;
4. To resettle the bulk of IDPs;
5. To promote and protect human rights and keep up with international human rights’ standards and Sri Lanka’s International obligations ;and
6. To set up an accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law
Items 1 & 2 deal with the identification and addressing the problem. Items 3-6 deal with establishing the conditions conducive towards addressing the problem. The implementation of these will be evidence of political will. Let us now look at these briefly, for such an examination would reveal the marked lack of will that lies at the heart of our inability to answer the National Question.
There seems to be no attempts made by the Executive to work towards a lasting political solution except to blame the TNA for not coming forward to participate in the Parliamentary Select Committee process. As explained by our leader Mr.Sambandan the earlier discussions between the TNA and the Government were abandoned by the Government not by the TNA. Not to lay down in advance the basics of the Parliamentary Select Committee deliberations would lead the Committee towards the same abortive end the earlier deliberations faced. If we lay down on the table the Reports and Recommendations of various Committees which had gone into these matters earlier, especially those during the time of Madame Chandrika Bandaranaike as well as those during the stewardship of the present President and instruct the Parliamentary Select Committee to take forward their deliberations from where the earlier Committees have left, I see no reason for the TNA to keep out of the Parliamentary Select Committee deliberations.
It is my view that there is no interest in finding a bilateral or multilateral solution. The only interest is in a unilateral solution facilitated by the military. The extra quick forcible colonisation of areas with people from the South with the help of the Army in Vavuniya, Mullaitivu and Mannar areas is a step in that direction. I was given copies of Notices pasted in many parts of the South calling for Sinhalese to apply for lands in the Vanni to be given free of charge. In fact my friends in Vavuniya know the identities of some who have managed to get such free land. So the lasting political solution mentioned by the President seems to mean one brought about by cannibalisation of the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
The next promise was the full implementation of the 13th Amendment. The elections to the Northern Province were promised in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. It finally took place in 2013 only due to the intervention of India. The Election in September last year was marred by the interference of the Army. All resources at the disposal of the Government were made use of in favour of the Government candidates. Yet the people voted in full strength against the Government. Despite the overwhelming mandate of the people, steps have been taken to stymie the progress of the Northern Provincial Council – undermining the already insufficient 13th Amendment even further. At one time it appeared that legal steps would be taken to abolish the 13th Amendment.
We tried our best to help the Government to implement the 13th Amendment despite its shortcomings. Ironically, it appears that the Government is doing its level best to prove the inadequacies of the 13thAmendment, long pointed out by the TNA, by its espousal of the view that the overall administration of the province is outside the purview of the Provincial Councils in legal proceedings. The Government is not interested in devolving powers to the periphery and most certainly to the North and East. After certain so called procedural shortcomings the Northern and Eastern Provinces were divided by the Supreme Court. No steps have been taken so far politically to rejoin the Provinces in terms of the 13th Amendment.
Even though our President undertook to expedite the necessary basic and civil infrastructure as well as means of livelihood necessary for IDPs to resume their normal lives at the earliest the lives of IDPs continues to be pathetic. No proper assessment of their needs and requirements let alone their numbers and identities have been prepared so far. No attempts have been made to undertake such research in a scientific manner. Ad hoc politically activated processes seem to be in place but do not seem to solve the problems of the IDPs in any significant manner.
The other undertaking given by our President to the Secretary General of the United Nations was the resettlement of the bulk of IDPs. In Valigamam North on the North Western side of the Peninsula over six thousand acres of prime agricultural land has been taken over forcibly by the Army under the pretext of setting up a High Security Zone and is being cultivated by the Army. Palatial buildings are being put up to house top Army Officers as well as Political figures coming mainly from the South. The legal occupants entitled to reside in those six thousand acres are in about 32 or more welfare centres in other areas unable to go back to their lands. They have become a problem to the owners of lands and houses, where these IDPs presently reside. There are other areas in the Peninsula as well as the Vanni where the Army has taken control of large acreages of lands and are refusing to hand over them to the legitimate owners. The Army cultivates, does fishing, do trade and business and interfere in the daily lives of the people. In other words an Occupational Army has laid claim to the enemy’s land and properties. They have deprived the IDPs of their livelihood. There are nearly 150,000 soldiers stationed in the Northern Province. If anyone disbelieves this number he or she is most welcome to arrange for an International inquiry into that matter. There are very large Army Camps in the midst of thick jungles apart from the Army camps lining your way visibly wherever you travel in the Northern Province. In recent times they are making applications to vest agricultural lands taken over by them in the name of the Army. All these lands belong to our people. They are deprived into IDP hood while the Army lives a luxury life. So much for the resettlement of the IDPs.
To promote and protect human rights and keep up with international human rights’ standards and Sri Lanka’s International obligations was one of the promises our President made to the UN Secretary General. Under the pretext of making out that the Tigers have started regrouping in the North of Sri Lanka at a time when our case was before the Human Rights’ Council in Geneva, we have begun to re-enact what was done earlier to our people to bring them under the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act. People in large numbers are now being taken into custody consequent to an unfortunate witch hunting which was started for political reasons. No one believes that there is any such Tiger re grouping. What is worse is that the people oriented useful steps that were taken by the energetic Commander of the Northern Province since he took over recently, have now come to naught. He is himself forced to peddle a Tiger regrouping story, which is disbelieved by many Sinhalese in the South also. With several Military Check points in place and constant checking of our people I am sure the President has given up thinking of his obligations to the Secretary General of the United Nations! No wonder the International Community has started taking steps to curb and question the activities of the present regime, which certainly is not people friendly in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.
It is because the Government did not set up a proper accountability process for addressing violations of international humanitarian and human rights law that the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has passed a Resolution against Sri Lanka last week. I do not want to expatiate too much since it has been the talk of the Country and elsewhere in the past so many months now. If you strip the discourse of its emotion and rhetoric, the issue is simply that crimes committed whether during a war or during peace time, whether by a soldier or a civilian, whether by a Government official or private citizen, should be investigated and tried. Can anybody here honestly expect crimes that may implicate powerful people to be genuinely investigated or tried in Sri Lanka? If there were even half a chance that such genuine investigation or trial could be carried out in Sri Lanka, do you think that the Resolution would have passed? What does it say about us when we seem to be more concerned about the slight on our so called sovereignty, than the complete erosion of the rule of law? To me the greatest tragedy is that many people are more keen on stating that we will solve our problems ourselves instead of solving our problems.
Thus there is a lack of will and possibly a lack of understanding on the part of those that matter in Sri Lanka with regard to the National Question. In summary let me say that the National Question arises from the refusal to accept the presence of distinct Nations in Sri Lanka. A solution could be worked out only if the majority community is prepared to accept this fact. All recent activities on the part of the Government are geared to deny the existence of such a reality. In fact the deliberate activities undertaken by the Government in power today are in the opposite direction. They want the dismantling of the other Nation and the enthroning of a single Sinhala-Buddhist Nation in this Island from Point Pedro to Dondra. It is not too late to realise our mistakes. The Tamils have unequivocally committed themselves to the State of Sri Lanka. We only seek recognition of our status as brothers in this beautiful but bloodied land. Let us hope that there emerges political will to take positive steps in the direction of real reconciliation based on trust and understanding to solve our National Question.
*Justice C.V.Wigneswaran, Chief Minister, Northern Province – Speech delivered at Bernard Soysa Centenary Commemoration Meeting at Tamil Sangam Hall, 57th lane, Colombo
Ajith / March 31, 2014
It is an excellent speech of a cultured, well educated a person who has the understanding of the importance of rule of law and justice for long lasting peace in this beautiful island. Unfortunately, the land is being covered by blood since 1958 when the racism took over the governance of this island. There is no peace, no unity, no justice, no democracy anywhere in this island. Rule of law has become law of jungle.
Rationalist / April 1, 2014
Wish we had more Sinhalese Sri Lankans of this calibre among our Politicians!
rationalist / April 1, 2014
I mean, both Bernard Soysa and Vignesvaran.
The Professional / April 1, 2014
It will be good for the country to invite all CMs to serve as panelists in a panel discussion on the National Issue of 13th Amendment and Provincial Councils.
sach / April 9, 2014
The problem is most sinhala politicians are of the caliber of wiggie.
ragavan / April 1, 2014
It is sad that whatever he said won’t be understood by most Sinhalese masses. I do not think his thoughts will even get press coverage.Unless a Sinhalese speaking reformer starts addressing the masses, this country will go to dogs.one day we will be subjects of a foreign power.
There are no Sinhalese leader today with education, culture and magnanimity equal to former LSSP and Communist leaders.
Rajan Walpola / April 1, 2014
You said in your comment above “There are no Sinhalese leader today with education, culture and magnanimity equal to former LSSP and Communist leaders”.
What you implied that current Tamil generation does have leaders like such standards. You are quite right my friend – Vegie himself, Sampanthan, Velu Prebakaran, Manner Bis-hope a few to name among your wise and intelligent Thamil community. Except Podian Preba which already in the best place for the merits that he collected for 30 odd years, God bless and long live your wise and intelligent Thamil community that never believe in co-existence. Because they always want the whole piece rather than real peace in this country.
Native Vedda / April 1, 2014
“What you implied that current Tamil generation does have leaders like such standards.”
Ragavan hasn’t implied anything at all.
You are hearing voices in your head.
This is a serious condition, you ought to see a good doctor.
Maveeran / April 2, 2014
Ranjan [Edited out]
Native Vedda / April 2, 2014
“Ranjan [Edited out]”
This Rajan Walpola is not the grandson of Rahula Walpola the scholar monk.
You are increasingly becoming crazier by the second.
lal / April 2, 2014
Aptly put in a nutshell; “Because they always want the whole piece rather than real peace in this country”.
Best ignore distractions and distractors and get on with Mhinda Chintanaya!
Mr Wiggie, how would Jaffna residents react a road in Jaffna is renamed “Sinhala Sangama Mawatha”? How would they react to a lane in Jaffna whose majority community is Sinhala? Sinhala community has been very accommodating of encroachment of their land by Tamils.
There is no equal to peace loving Brother Bernard in your community. Do not pursue with provocation!
Spark / April 3, 2014
No body is asking for large piece or small piece, this is about providing autonomy to govern predominantly Tamil populated areas by the Tamils under a united Sri Lanka. Would you be happy if Matara or Galle Police stations and Government departments are filled with Tamils who can only converse and work in Tamil? A road in Jaffna with a Sinhala name is possible with reasoning. The reason for naming 55th Lane to Tamil Sangam Lane is bcos the Tamil Sangam which is their since independence is located down this lane. In the same manner if their is a street in Jaffna that needs to be named with a Sinhala name, then their needs to be a logic and historic reason for that and not arrogance of power and racism. Where have Tamils encroached on “Sinhala land”? If you mean Wellawatte and areas around Colombo, then these are locations where Tamils have freely purchased property and are living. They are not living on government sponsored grants or benevolence of the Sinhala population. If Sinhalese wish to live in the north, their is no restriction whatsoever, but it should not be through sinister government sponsored activity where free land is provided to change the demographic nature of the population. Sinhalese have all the right to purchase land on their own initiative and live in the north as much as the way the Tamils are found in Colombo.
lal / April 4, 2014
You know very well Sinhalese and Muslims will not be allowed by Tamils to settle in Jaffna. They will be and have evicted by Tamils with murderous/violent means. This has happened, the whole world knows. Jaffna and the entire Northern Province was once the home to a thriving Sinhala community until the Dravidian invasions. The rest is history. The Sinhalese, be they individuals or military assisted have every right to settle in their historical habitations in Jaffna and parts of Northern and Eastern parts. Military assistance is essential for their protection. A large Sinhala presence in the above parts of Sri Lanka is essential for peaceful coexistence of all communities. The reluctance of Tamils of Jaffna to accept Sinhala people and the language is the impediment now. The sooner the Tamils of Jaffna accept the Sinhalese without conditions, the better.
One more thing, refer to a dictionary, the word ‘encroachment’ is apt for Tamil presence in Wellawatte, Mattakkuliya, Hendala. And broadly, to Tamil presence in Lanka in entirety!
bodhi / April 6, 2014
You and Wigneswaran should just walk around Dehiwala or Welalwatta, Kotahena etc and then you will see sign boards with “Dehivalai” or Vellavattai” Kottachennai written on them. The sinhalese don’t object. But when the railway station signs “OmmanthaI’ was written correctly in sinhales as “Omandtha”, while leaving the tamil in its Tamil form, there were many articles by tamils, and Tamil fellow travellers like Ann Abesekera, denouncing it. I remember writing against it in the Island newspaper and elsewhere. See my article entitled “more on naming streets”, Island, 10th Set. 2011:
Vaddukkkoddai was called Batakotte (garison fort) even in 1900; Many tamil commentators did not know it, and claimed it to be sinhalization!!!.
Killinochchi was called “Giraanikke” in ancient times and probably well into medieval times. What an out cry would come about, claiming “sinhalization of Tamil land”, if these traditional names were to be revived. Many of these place names were studied by Paul E Peries, Horsburg, Karthigesu Indrapala, Nicholas, Dharmawardana, Kalansuriya, Medhananda and many others who have made compilations of these place names.
What is problematic is the refusal of the Tamil leaders to recognize that the Sinhalese have allowed the “Tamil nation” to move to the south, ever since 1905 when the railway was built, while allowing the absentee landlords who led the TULF while living in Colombo to talk of the “exclusive” tamil homeland in the North. Every sign board on buses and railway stations carry Tamil names (e.g., Kalutarai களுத்துறை etc) and not the sinhala name (Kalutara) in the south, but NOT North of Vavniya where the Sinhala name is suppressed and the Tamil form (e.g., Iranamadu instead of Ranamaduwa) is written even in Sinhala.
How about beginning with owning up to the ethnic cleansing of the North by driving out the Sinhalese, Muslims, while the TULF said nothing about it or silently abetted it? How about accountability for the actions of the TULF leaders who supported the assassinations of the LTTE ,by hauling them up in court? Look at the TULF manefesto in the elections held during the time of the LTTE and see what Sampanthan said? Shouldn’t there be accountability?
BBS Rep / April 1, 2014
You talk eloquently about the need of the hour, pluralism, the ‘sama samaja’ society etc. Yet you take slight that the ’57th Lane’ is not allowed to be named the ‘Tamil Sangam Lane’. You can’t have it both ways Ayyah. Choose the plural path or descend to the hell of parochial politics, that Sri Lanka is today.
In my view calling a street ’57th Lane’ denotes commonality, non distinguishing of one community or another and in consequence more suited to a ‘sama samaja’ society. Better still that it has still not been named after one rogue politician or another.
Navin / April 1, 2014
During Q & A, I wonder whether anyone asked the good judge why he proclaimed LTTE leader as a great hero during his election campaign and also during his first address to NPC! How different is that from SWRD’s Sinhala Only Act?
Piranha / April 1, 2014
Ask Rajapaksa also why he said Prabhakran was a great leader. Ok?
Navin / April 1, 2014
Are you saying the good judge is of the same caliber as Rajapassa?Well if so, “Ok” — NO problem.
Native Vedda / April 1, 2014
“Are you saying the good judge is of the same caliber as Rajapassa?Well if so, “Ok” — NO problem.”
Remember he was not a politician before he was elected as Chief Minister. He is only fitting in with the crowd.
It shows how politicians can drag the good judge down to their level and beat him up. Don’t blame the good judge, blame the political class which has its own unique and powerful culture even the good judged couldn’t help but follow the lead.
Javi / April 2, 2014
They the living,- Impostors`|”
VOMIT- Victim Of Modern Incest Tribes.
That is all they know;minority cake`|”
lal / April 4, 2014
It is customary to pay a tribute to the the fallen. Dutu Gemunu too paid a tribute to Elara after he snuffed him. There are others in the diaspora deserving such tributes for the contributions made to the terrorist cause.
I think Rajapakse called VP a great leader because not only VP was killed (seen the photo of the fellow staring at the sky, and hole in the head), but also the idiot made thousands of his fellow terrorists die with him. Isn’t that worthy of a tribute?
Had Rajapakse known the tough talking VP ran away abandoning his fat 12 yr old son Balalingham, then he would have called VP a coward.
How do you describe VP?
Ram / April 1, 2014
‘Brother’ Bernard would certainly NOT want to be herded with the likes of the terrorist Prabhakaran.
Mallaiyuran / April 1, 2014
Is too hard to understand?A Diamond can be cut only with another Diamond. Whatever SWRD saw can only be removed by the same method. If a thorn has gone deep cutting through the skin, one has to bring a surgical blade to operate it. Neither SV not UNHRC can do anything about the 150,000 army raping the Tamil women in the daylight stealing their property in the night time with name of spreading peace to North. This will be stopped only after bringing UN peacekeepers.
Uthungan / April 1, 2014
The 1956 Sinhala Only act of SWRD midwifed the eventuality of the 1972 constitution of Dr.Colvin R de Silva who at one time stood for parity of status for Sinhalese and Tamil saying ‘One language TWO nations,two languages ONE nation’ that same year.
He later back tracked sixteen years later in 1972 to prepare a constitution devoid of any status to the Tamil Language.
I am prepared to concede as a former supporter of his as a member of the LSSP youth league in the 1960’s to give him the benefit of the doubt that when he formulated the said 1972 constitution he must have had many sleepless nights over the injustice he was instrumental to.
But it is JRJ authoritarian constitution of 1978 that created the way for an all powerful single centre of executive power as the present one under which the incumbent president now holds Executive power.
Irrespective of who holds power now we have no choice but fated to live our lives in an untrammeled dictatorship cloaked in the guise of a parliamentary democracy..
Bensen Burner / April 1, 2014
it is most appropriate that the appreciation of Bernard on the commemoration of his hundredth birthday should come from Wigneswaran. Some readers would recall the excellent appreciation by Bernard of Pieter Keuneman upon his passing away.Bensen
Dr Laksiri Fernando / April 1, 2014
I was delighted and partly amused to read the NPC CM Wigneswaran asking whether a combined Tamil Sinhala name, Tamil Sangam Mawatha, is acceptable to rename the 57th Lane, after commenting on rather the obnoxious opposition to any Tamil word in street names in Colombo by some of the governing elite. I was equally amused to note his explanation of how Comrade Bernard became Brother Bernard! I had not noticed, at least this sharply, this side of Wigneswaran before.
Apart from his fitting wit on both matters, there is some insight at least in the first suggestion if ‘Comrade’ Nanayakkara wants to implement for ‘national integration.’ That is to combine the Sinhala Tamil words and usages as much as possible. A step in this direction would be to have a Sinhala-Tamil and Tamil-Sinhala translation software program with sounds through which anyone could understand and learn each other’s language easily. I made the suggestion to one of the previous ministers in charge of the subject sometime back and don’t know whether it was taken seriously at all or not.
The above is not to deviate from the political tasks ahead on the national question but in addition or to supplement them. In this respect, the perspective that Wigneswaran has put forward should be taken for broader discussion.
R. Varathan / April 2, 2014
Has our contentious and acerbic multi-racial relations developed to that sublime level when the CMC may be persuaded to name Wellawatta’s 57th Lane as Thamil Sangam Lane – or even Mawatha. The equation dropped so low during the Rajapakse reign even that highly respected Ananda Coomaraswamy’s name was desecrated when half of the street named after this great Asian scholar was changed by extreme Sinhala Buddhist interests to a Pokuna when there was no reason for this. I can understand, considering the known educational levels of the Rajapakses, they may not know who Coomaraswamy was. Even less the great work he did to successfully create consciousness of the rich cultural heritage of Asia among the elite American academics in pre-WW2 times – notably in the New England States. Will such enlightened men like the Ven. Sobitha Thero and the JVP – now in a changed secular avatar – offer public support to this matter in the interests of better Sinhala-Tamil ties?
sach / April 9, 2014
what sinhalese should do for reconciliation list No 2
1. Renaming lanes and roads in the Sinhala nation into tamil nations.
2. Strict adherence to tamil names in Tamil nation
3. Accomodating multi culturalism in sinhala nation and accepting the mono ethnic tamilness in tamil nation
4. Accepting that Sinhalese have been the most racist people in SL and accepting that everything bad had happened because of sinhala leaders and that tamil leaders are innocent like flowers.
5. Sinhalese should join wiggie in celebrating Praba the hero who killed thousands of sinhala people in friendly and peaceful suicide bombs.
The day sinhala people do these things tamils will be ready for reconciliation.
daya.thevi / April 1, 2014
Bravo! All Kudos for C.W!
There is a famous quote in the based on true historical events movie ‘Braveheart’:-
“Uncompromising men are easy to admire. He(William Bruce)has courage; But it is exactly the ability to *compromise* that makes a man noble. And understand this: Edward Longshanks is the most ruthless king ever to sit on the throne of England. And none of us, and nothing of Scotland will remain, unless *we* are as ruthless.”
Perhaps you can interpret this quote to the present context as history always repeat itself.
That is exactly the point C.W is trying to make. If there is Sama Samaja Society then Tamil Sangam Road is the most appropriate name so that people recognise the location easily like College Road, Temple Road etc. If there is pluralism this name would not provoke any negative emotions. He also mentions about celebrating the multi- culturalism. Hope now it makes sense.
sach / April 9, 2014
wow tamil culture, tamil food, tamil lanuague, tamil toilets everything tamil in tamil nation and lets practice multi culturism in Sinhala nation!
R. Varathan / April 1, 2014
CM Justice Wigneswaren rightly emphasises on the prospects of a lasting solution on the acceptance of the “2 Nations in one undivided Island” theory. This is, in point of fact, restoration to the Status Quo prior to the arrival of the Portugese (1505) There is nothing sinister there. But this device is engineered by Sinhala chauvinism to be misunderstood so that a rational discussion on the subject is discouraged. Fortunately, thinking in the Sinhala South is changing. The JVP now accepts the position and so does Ven. Sobitha Thero. Others may follow in due course. The Sinhala South may well remember this is a better alternative to VPs “Eelam or nothing”
Unfortunately, majority opinion continues to be hijacked by chauvinists in their ranks. Sinhala extremism also divided Muslim opinion by misleading the late Ashraf to lay claim to a part of the East as his own – a move calculated the weaken the strengthening Tamil voice in the early 1980s.
Sadly the Rajapakses lack the backbone to lead the Sinhala nation to reconciliation. They are caught to the Frankenstein monster they created to come to power – Deja Vu 1956.
Bebon / April 1, 2014
“The Tamil speaking people of the North and East of Sri Lanka are a Nation without a State”
“The Tamil speaking peoples (Not People) of the North and East of Sri Lanka are a race not a nationality so they cannot claim State status”
There are\were tanils existing in north and east , but they hadn’t built the Sri Lanka civilization , that was done by Hella and latter Sinhalaya and Sinhalese Buddhists.. What Tamil ethnic group did was claiming the land ownership of North & east where the land owned by Sinhalese Buddhist Nation. Made the big noise and started rebellion.
Elara was a Chola king from the Chola Kingdom, in present day South India, who ruled a part of Sri Lanka from 205 BC to 161 BC including the ancient capital of Anuradhapura.. So his ruling nearly
44 year , in other words he came power age at 33
“Let us not forget that Dutugemunu having been highly impressed by the old King Elara, who at 77 years not wanting to get his subjects involved in a war, fought so valiantly against him, the young man of 28 years that he was”
“Ellara was an Invader Chola king from the Chola Kingdom, in present day South India, who ruled a part of Sri Lanka from 205 BC to 161 BC including the ancient capital of Anuradhapura”
Ellara was Invader there is no question that he must punish and crushed out from Sri Lanka, Like 2009.
His old age doesn’t matter here as war started to drive out Ellara from this land.
Finally, Majority of Tamils live in southern part of Sri Lanka, majority of the well-educated compare to Tamils live in north and east. So enjoy better living standard compare to Tamils live in north and east. We (Sinhalese) don’t see any issue work & live with them but we all having a common problem that economical aidless created by dirty politics and TNA tried to muddle Sinhalese & Tamils by accusing Sinhalese that the problems face by Tamils today are created by Sinhalese instead of accusing Sinhalese politicians as well as Tamil politics + LTTE rebellion
You know the reality better, if you were discriminated by Sinhalese you might “Nattami” at Pettah , avoid TNA,India, International community they wont help Tamils
Join with Sinhalese , Tamils in North & east will get better life as tamils in south
Davidson Panabokke / April 1, 2014
”Join with Sinhalese” while we Sinhalese are trampling them?
There are Tamils in Sri Lanka in a smaller number than the Sinhalese. It is incumbent on us Sinhalese to treat them properly. Words won’t do, only action will. President Rajapakse has been telling all the foreign visitors for 7/8 yrs that he will be fair to the Tamils. How long will they have to wait for fairness?
Ravi / April 1, 2014
Tamils are the Majority in the Tamil (Speaking) homeland (North & East). The Sri Lankan Tamils had and still have a clearly defined (Tamil speaking) territory, their historic habitat in the North & East of Sri Lanka as their traditional homeland (Tamil Eelam) where they lived and defended for several centuries.
Tamil nation existed and still exists in South India (Tamil Nadu) and North-East Sri Lanka (Tamil Eelam). The Tamils were the sole occupants (natives) of both N&E Sri Lanka (Tamil Eelam) and South India (Tamil Nadu) when the colonials left. Just like the Arab nation has several countries in the Middle-East and North Africa, the Tamil Nation had several countries (Chola Nadu, Pandya Nadu, Chera Nadu and Eela Nadu) in India and Sri Lanka and still has two regions/states in South Asia (Tamil Eelam and Tamil Nadu). Tamil Nadu belongs (Homeland) to the Tamils of India and Tamil Eelam belongs (Homeland) to the Tamils of Sri Lanka. There was a natural bridge known as Rama Setu that existed during the ancient period from Tamil Nadu to Tamil Eelam (now submerged by the rising sea but still visible in the satellite pictures taken by NASA).
Right from ancient history, Tamils are from both India and Sri Lanka. There was nothing called Tamil Nadu until the British created it. What existed as the Tamil countries in South India and Sri Lanka were known as Chola/Sola Nadu, Pandya/Pandu Nadu, Chera/Sera Nadu and Eela Nadu/Eelam Mandalam. In the 9th century AD, under Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola, Sri Lanka became one of the nine provinces of the Chola Empire and was called Eelam Mandalam. This Chola rule was the longest and the most far-reaching in terms of surface area by the Tamil power. Sri Lanka remained a South Indian (Chola) colony under the rule of Rajaraja Chola and his son Rajendra Chola. After the Chola rule of Anuradhapura and then Polonawara (kingdom created by Rajendra Chola) kingdoms ended, the people who spoke Sinhala and practiced Buddhism moved to the South and created their Kingdoms in Kandy, Kotte, and many other places. On the other hand, the people who spoke Tamil and practiced Hinduism moved to the North & East and created their Kingdom in Jaffna. A separate Jaffna kingdom (1215-1624 CE) was established for the Tamils. Unfortunately, the Jaffna kingdom came under Portuguese domination in 1624 after the last Tamil king of Jaffna Cankli Kumaran was defeated in the battle. This was how the Tamils lost their sovereignty, independence and their traditional homeland.
The invasion theory that was mentioned in the Mahavamsa was wrongly interpreted by the European (colonial) Orientalist scholars. Even today the majority including some historians wrongly believe that the NE Tamils are invaders from Tamil Nadu. The so called invasion was only the replacement of the king at the Anuradapura kingdom by either a Chola or a Pandya king. In the recorded history of Sri Lanka, it is NOT known or mentioned anywhere that there was a mass influx/settlement of Tamils from South India to Sri Lanka during the Chola/Pandya rule. At the same time, in the recorded history of Sri Lanka, it is NOT known or mentioned anywhere that there was a mass exodus of Sinhalese from the North to the South. (Do you think the Sinhalese in the North simply packed their bags and went to the South leaving all their lands to the newly arrived Tamils without any protest/rebellion?).
If Tamils like Elara are called invaders, then the Sinhalas like Vijay and his 700 men were also invaders. Whether you call them invaders or invitees or whatever, Sinhala came from India and Buddhism also came from India. Both Tamil and Sinhala kings ruled the Island alternatively right from the beginning of history and the civilization was created by both. It is not mentioned anywhere that the Sri Lankan civilization is a Sinhala civilization or Tamil civilization. They both contributed, the Tamils starting from the kings Sena and Guttika (as per the Mahavamsa). The Sri Lankan constitution does not say Sri Lanka is a Sinhala country, the so called SL ‘history’ book Mahavamsa does not say SL is a Sinhala country and the Sri Lankan people (except Sinhala racists) do not say so either. Just because the Sinhala Buddhists are more in number/majority (how they became a majority is not a secret) that does not mean that the whole country is exclusively for Sinhalese. A part of the country belonged to the Tamils before the British united the Tamil North (formerly Jaffna Kingdom) and the Sinhala South (formally Kotte & Kandy kingdoms) into one unitary state and gave it to the Sinhalese in 1948. The Sinhalese is the ONLY race in this entire world that foolishly believes that the majority race in a country is the sole owner of that country and all others (minorities) are aliens.
R. Varathan / April 1, 2014
Ravi’s passionate comments need deeper and scholarly study.
Well done! But don’t expect sudden submission to wisdom or
rationality with violent creatures like BBS and Ravana Ravaya dominating the streets – whereas their appointed place is the calm sorroundings of the Monastery. This will never become the land of the great Greek philosophers despite the mass following in Buddhism. But wisdom, like International Investigation into
5/09, will come in due course.
Native Vedda / April 2, 2014
“This will never become the land of the great Greek philosophers despite the mass following in Buddhism.”
Mass follows Sinhala/Buddhism, not Buddha’s teaching.
dingiri / April 1, 2014
If the Sinhalese were to hand back the Jaffna kingdom and only the Jaffna kingdom, would you be happy? In extent it covered the Jaffna peninsula and a thin strip of coastal land upto Mannar. About a sixth of the Entire British defined Northern and Eastern provinces claimed by Tamil Nationalists today.
My question to Tamil Nationalists here is would they be prepared to accept an area proportionate to the Tamil population around Jaffna and Batticaloa? It would be very interesting to know.
Native Vedda / April 1, 2014
“If the Sinhalese were to hand back the Jaffna kingdom and only the Jaffna kingdom, would you be happy?”
Please just hand back the entire island to my people and go away.
sach / April 9, 2014
Who are my people? There is no my people for you. Sinhalese are the vaddhas who started a civilisation.
R. Varathan / April 3, 2014
“If the Sinhalese were to hand back the Jaffna kingdom and only the Jaffna kingdom, would you be happy?..” I know many elite Sinhalese, if you like, today think along these lines. This can include, in the coming months, those at other levels too. I cannot speak for all the Tamils but there are many Tamils who think like me what we want today is not territory all to our exclusive use. For 200 years and more we are used to be part of greater Ceylon/Sri Lanka.
We like an arrangement within that reality.
In as much as Galle and Matara are pre-dominantly and indisputably Sinhala-Majority areas – wherein also live a small number of Tamils, Muslims, Burghers – so is the NEP where the Tamil-speaking people are in the majority. We want that reality recognised and our inalienable right to live in our areas – within an undivided Sri Lanka – be enabled. Language, religion and culture have established beyond argument these are areas where Tamil-speaking people lived for millennia. Of course, through force much of Trincomalee has been
changed since and now a fair part of Batticoloa District too. What we
wish is a peaceful restoration of the, at least, pre-1948 reality in the North East Province/s. We do not like rigid division of the Island as much as the Sinhala people – so long as our present and future to live in peace, security and economic prosperity is
guaranteed. We ask for the right for internal rule as allowed to all other 8 provinces. In this regard, I wish to express our unhappiness in the Rajapakse regime refusing to respect the convincing mandate given by the Tamil people to the NPC, which remains deliberately and sickeningly starved of resources-power and therefore paralysed to this day.
With best wishes
Bebon / April 2, 2014
I think you took a long time to write a myth.. utter wast of time..
We consider Island as entire county , that means even if tamil’s population majority in North & East that doesn’t say homeland of tamils instead their homeland is Sri Lanka, if your theory apply on entire Island obviously its Sinhalese country as majority of population of this island are Sinhalese… Also North and east provinces were created in 1833 coll Brooke..
you last para says Sinhalease came from India, it’s a wrongly interpretation of the history..
there were four clans,
These Kings existed during the epoch times when Lanka was known as Heladiva. The ancient Sinhala were also known as Hela. According Ramayana four parts made up the Hela people( Rakcus, Yaksha, Naga & Deva)
Their is alot confusion regarding these four groups, some have gone as far as to belive them to be separate races. This is completely incorrect. To explain:
Rakcus(Cusa Rakina)-means to do Agriculture or the farmer. These not the farmers of Lanka as you find today. Remember that all Dagabas, Wevas, Oyas and all irrigation plus other great works were done by farmers. Closer to date the Kandy Lake, engineered by farmers.
Yaksha-means Industries eg Kuvera lord of the Yaksha clan was represent as been the lord of mineral wealth(gold, gems etc etc). More important is also weapons production.
Naga-means Na(Nadi)+Ga(Gaman), they represent the Navigators and Shipping corporations eg Kuveni, Gotaabaya and Vihara Maha Devi all controlled shipping fleets and this proven by sel lipi from Dr Paravitarana.
Deva-meaning the Sages, the great moral teachers are those that kept the country together and even created a world order of Deva eg Sukra.
Vijaya was deported and landed in Sri Lanaka, Latter became the king of Sri Lanka..
Dont mislead true history
Wickramasiri / April 1, 2014
A fine speech from a respected man, who should perhaps be leading the PA or UNP. There is a point however on which I disagree. That is Wigneswaran’s contention that the reason for the present polarization on ethnic lines is because we have not recognized the existence of two nations. Do nations really matter? There are a myriad nations in the world. Some have been subjugated and absorbed in to bigger and more powerful nations. Cannot we still recognize our love and loyalty to a particular language and culture without being called a distinct nation? This yearning for a distinct nation, whether Tamil or Sinhala, is an illusory emotion reaching out for happiness in a single community, sharing language and culture. Where in the world has such comfort been realized? In the present world it is more practical and logical to seek that utopia in individual rights rather than community rights for ultimately it is those rights that free the individual to seek his path. What the Americans call ‘Pursuit of Happiness’. Sri Lanka’s condition is one of deprivation of individual rights.
D.Nimal / April 1, 2014
Ex-Justice and CM of NC read same old story written by Federal Party of SVJ, Tamil United Liberation Front by Allwapilla Amrathliamgim and Tamil National Alliance of Dr Samapathan and LTTE of V.Parabaraken and other Tamil political parties was that, the Frontline Politics of Tamil in Sri lanka and else where.
There is nothing new ‘national question’ had been unveil by CM of NC and that the solutions are more orthodox, conservative and chavanist-orinted, Tamil-politics of Sri Lankan is relatively powerlessness driven of political ignorance of ‘national question’.
Tamil political class and politics are more anti-reform minded oriented, that ever-never discover or learn lessons of past 67 years of failure of policies of Tamil struggle and Armed struggle by LTTE -terrorist outfit.
I am sorry to say ‘Brother Bernard’ and ‘DR Colivn R. De Silva’
so-called PARITY was did not answer solution of Tamils greater autonomy and demand by Eelam state.
CM said his speech is essential ” the Tamil speaking people of the North and East of Sri Lankan are A NATION WITHOUT STATE…”That is key point of CM of NC said by his speech. Real demand put forwarded BY CM is ‘Nation of Tamils’ state that want ‘Separate State’ has been claim by Tamils in Island of Sri lanaka.
Core of Tamils problem IN SRI LANKA is THAT ‘SEPARTION OR SECESSION’ IS MAIN DEMAND.THIS WHAT TAMIL POLITICAL class, WANT, unforutnaly, that WE HAVE NO SOLUATION OF SUCH claim by the Infantile DISORDER few Tamils politics, who are enjoy class privilege’s Colombo; as well as Western countries Diaspora of Tamils in oversees.
That is why difficult reach or we CANNOT FIND AMICIABLE SOULATION WITHING DEMORATIC FRAME WORK of Tamil reconciliation after end of 30 War.
For shake such ‘Tamil class’ that whole Tamils in the Island has to sacrifice their life and rights and while surrender national sovereignty of People of all nationalities the an Island.
That is why delay by Sri Lankan peace, stability and security regression.
Kabaragoya / April 1, 2014
This is the most thoughtful speech made on the problems of Sri Lanka in recent times. It was the chauvinist politics of Bandaranaike merely to win power that brought this disaster upon the country. Ever since then, the Sinhala politician has beaten the same drum and never addressed issues in terms of economic development, miring the country in hatred. Now, having beaten the Tamils, he seeks fresh targets. The Sinhalese are a nation bereft of any progress for the last seventy years because all that they have been fed are myths.
One commentator, elsewhere in CT, with a doctorate from the university of banana benderland (queensland) bends the truth to characterize the problem, not as a problem between two nations, as Justice Wigneswaran does, but as a minority problem, thereby belittling the issues that confront the country. A minority problem arises in a country where ethnic and religious groups do not have a territorial base. Where they do, it is a problem that concerns self-determination. This is the analysis of the situation in Canada by the Supreme Court there and by the EC’s Badinter Commission regarding Kosovo. There are two nations in Sri Lanka. The minority group has a distinct identity and live in an identifiable territory. The Indo-Sri Lanka Accord describes the territory as constituting “the traditional homelands” of the Tamils. The Accord gives India standing to ensure that this is recognised.
The 13th Amendment may be seen by some, like Judge Wigneswaran, as a sufficient accommodation. Others, like me, see Eelam as the eventual solution given the intransigence of the Sinhala mindset which has unleashed untold violence on the Tamils. But, the Judge’s view is a reasonable one. It must be given a chance to work. The SInhala effort to alter the character of the Tamil homeland must be resisted. India has a role to play in this as does the international community. The present effort of the Sinhala government in altering the character of the land should not be allowed to work. That project in itself amounts to structural genocide of the Tamils.
Judge Wigneswaran has the wisdom to lead both the Sinhalese and the Tamils out of the present mess. He needs to be supported by good people on both sides so that the two nations can progress collectively.
D.Nimal / April 1, 2014
CM and NC Council Members of Neo-Con policy of anti-sovereignty trend of Tamil national POLITICAL issue, that has lost the new opportunity for sustainable dynamism-peace in the Island.
No matter whom they elect, no matter which party governances come into being as a result of negative choice been exercise, by CM and its members, but it willy-nilly adoptees the same OLD path comparatively disadvantage to the democratic system of Sri lanka as whole.
Seems to be political elites barging over all kinds of political agendas and solutions ,when we are going transitional process end of war ,but should keep in mind basic principles of DEMOCRATIC RULES.
CM & his colleagues entirely misguided by wrong choice of democrat path of history of modern politics of Sri lanka since Independence in 1948.
Even CM and member of NC in case of elites has no bottom line of Democratic political agenda before taking power in NORTH.
People in North and South disappointments towards politics of leadership given uncertain ends CM IN NORTH COUNCIAL.
Dingiri / April 1, 2014
” The fact that many Tamils practiced Buddhism for two or three centuries accounts for the Buddhist remains in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. I refer to this due to wrong perceptions of history being circulated with ulterior motives in recent times.”
It is abundantly clear from this statement that the ulterior motive is all his. i.e. To claim for his Tamil Nation everything that falls within the British defined Northern and Eastern provinces.
It seems he is trying to claim that present day Tamils are directly descended from the ancient Ruhunu kingdom in the Eastern Provnce. That the extensive Archaelogical ruins in the East were built by Tamil Buddhists and not by the Sinhalese. Nice try! But there is much that is at odds with such a revisionist history and the blatant attempt at land grabbing.
This is the History that the TNA and Justice Wigneswaran would like write and propagate. But unfortunately Histoy cannot be manufactured it can only be inferred from either archaeology and epigraphy (The Mahavamsa for example that Tamil Nationalist love to hate).
So we are now being told that it was Tamils who built the Girihaduseya, Thanthirimale, Somawathiya, Welgam Wehera, Seruwa Vila, Lanka Patuna, Lahugala, Muhudu Mahaviharaya, Kudumbi gala, Nuwara Gala, Raja Gala and hundreds of other lesser known sites. Is it not amazing then are these are built in the same archetectural style as the ruins found in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa? The Sandakada pahanas, Guard stones, Watadages etc? Did they keep the Tamil language, dance, religion and borrow just archetecture of the Sinalese?How then are all the stone inscriptions found at these sites in the Prakrit language which Sinhala is derived from and which has nothing to do with the Tamil language? Can he explain all that?
If the Tamil speaking people (ancestors of the Tamils and Moslems who live there today) lived in the Eastern Province from before buddhist times how come so many of them profess the Moslem faith? It is well known that Arab traders reached only the west coast? Is it not because they were already Moslems when they arrived in Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu. And this could only have been after the Islamic conquests in South India.
When Robert Knox landed in Tricomalee why was he taken to the King in Kandy? When Van Spilbergen landed in Batticaloa why was he conveyed to the king in Kandy? Why did the Kandian King recapture Trincomalee from the Portugese in 1638 after having lost it to them a few years before?
Seligman writes about the Coastal Veddas of Vakarai in the late 1800 s and said they had acquired the customs and langueage of the Mukkuwar settlers from India. But when he asked the oldest among them to speak their own language they spoke in a “quaint form of Sinhalese”. Which implies the people in these areas spoke Sinhala within living memory of Seligman arriving.
The Mattakalappu Maniyam an oral history of the Batticaloa Tamils written by a Tamil Nationalist historian says that when the Mukkuvars and Moslems first arrived in Batticaloa there existed an old fortress. Would this not be the old Portugese fortress that the Dutch later rebuilt?
Surely a legal luminary such as Justice Wigneswaran should realise that before proposing such a revisionist history of the Eastern Province he should offer at least a few shreds of evidence? Does he not believe that the language and culture of an Isolated branch of the Tamil people in Eastern Sri Lanka would not evolve at least a new dialect, a new music, a new danceform or any other cultural trait like most other cultures do when separated from the main body of their people? The Afrikaans language evolved from Duch withing 2 centuries! Instead, the only thing they seem to have developed that is distinct from that of the South Indian Tamils (whom they must have been long isolated from if Wigneswaran is to be believed) is their architecture and religion which rather bafflingly and co-incidently was identical to that of the Sinhalese. How very convenient Justice Wigneswaran. Just the “history” one needs to have to secede with a rather disproportionate chunk of Sri Lanka! The poor Sinhalese can now crowd into what is left!
These Nationalists are everybit as dangerous as each other. He may be educated and more polished. But he is as dangerous and divisive as Galagodtthe Gnaneswara and Nalin de Silva of the Sinhalese.
Hilmy / April 2, 2014
If you are sincere in your tribute to Bernard, you should learn from him to be cosmopolitan and be less parochial. Your wanting to name an insignificant little lane as “Tamil Sangam Lane” is needlessly provocative, meant to raise the ire of fanatics like the BBS. You should talk about how the left-oriented and other progressive Tamils let down their Sinhala brothers by succumbing to narrow ethnic nationalism. Wiggy, you are as petty minded as the Sinhala chauvinists in choosing every opportunity you get to make a public speech to regurgitate the same old spiel about injustice to Tamils. Don’t you realize it is counter-productive: it only creates more tension and distrust between communities. How is your preoccupation with Tamil ethnicity different from Sinhala-Buddhism? When you wake up in the morning everyday you should remind yourself you are only the Chief Minister of NPC under the Constitution of Sri Lanka, and not a Chola King.
shan / April 2, 2014
I was born in Sri Lanka and lived there till 2002 I still love my country but the reality is the fight is between utter fools and not so fools. think there should be a third party to solve the issue best wishes
Oriss Man / April 2, 2014
Baboon Malli – arent we all came from Orissa? Think about it.
Naga / April 4, 2014
“Be that as it may, if only the stand taken by the L.S.S.P in 1956 to promote parity of status to both Sinhala and Tamil Languages was appreciated and applied the National Question engendering violence would never have seen the light of day.”
Hold on Mr Wigneswaran! Did the leaders of your party (Thamil Arasu Katchi) appreciate and support the two language policy of LSSP and CP? Your Federal Party leaders and Ponnambalam’s party wanted English to be retained as the official language not Tamil and Sinhala.
In the 1956 election, did the North East Tamils support the LSSP and CP candidates? No.
Your Federal Party’s Tamil communal politics won the day in North East. Sinhala communal politics of the MEP led by SWRD Bandaranaike won in the South. The two parties LSSP and CP that stood for parity lost the 1956 election which was theirs to win after the labour uprising in the 1953 hartal. LSSP and CP together managed to win just 17 seats in the 95 member parliament. MEP won 51 seats and formed the government which as promised made Sinhala only as the official language. UNP was almost wiped out and managed to win just 8 seats. 1956 election was the turning point in the history of Sri Lanka. It was a decisive election that was going to bring about a sea-change. Discontent against UNP was cleverly exploited by the communal politics of that opportunist SWRD Bandaranaike.
Wigneswasran should go back and read the history of communal politics of Sri Lanka. He will find that his Federal Party is equally blameworthy. Had all the Tamils joined hands and supported LSSP and CP instead of listening to the communal cry of SJV Chelvanayagam and Ponnambalam the fate of this countrty would have been different.
Wigneswaran is calling the decision of LSSP and CP to join the coalitio as opportunistic. They gained nothing by sticking to their language parity policy. That policy was rejected both by the Sinhalaese and Tamils in the 1956 and subsequent elections. LSSP and CP joined SLFP to form a left leaning coalition in order to defeat UNP which had become the agents of the imperialist West.
Learn a bit of Sri Lanka’s history Wigneswaran.