28 October, 2020

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Crude Triumphalism

By Lewis Garland

 Lewis Garland

Lewis Garland

In May 2009, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa greeted his victory over the Tamil Tigers with the chilling announcement: ‘We have removed the word “minorities” from our vocabulary.’ This statement has proved something of a blueprint for Rajapaksa’s post-war presidency, which has heralded an era of rampant ethnic-chauvinism.

Sri Lanka’s minority communities have seen political power and rights systematically removed, and none more so than the defeated Tamils.

Human rights violations and ethnic discrimination are rife. The mistreatment and torture of returned Tamil asylum seekers, the destruction of Tamil memorials and graveyards and the rise of Sinhalese-nationalist vigilante groups have all received attention in the international press.

But perhaps the most damaging of trends has passed all but unremarked: the insidious disempowerment of the Tamil community in their historic homelands, the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Government-sponsored initiatives to alter the demographic composition of this region have seen a major uptick in recent years. The state has annexed and placed under military control vast areas of land under the shady premise of ‘national security’. These land grabs have displaced longstanding Tamil communities. Scarcely any compensation or resettlement options have been offered, which has seriously undermined livelihoods and food security.

The land seizures have gone hand in hand with a process known as ‘Sinhalization’ – the state-facilitated settlement of Sinhalese people and imposition of Sinhalese culture in traditional Tamil areas. Thousands of Sinhalese are reported to have been settled in the North and Eastern Provinces in 2013 alone and there is evidence of the regime using employment and housing opportunities to incentivize these moves. This has been accompanied by changing the names of streets and villages and the destruction of Hindu temples and shrines where Tamils worshipped – as well as churches and mosques. The government is erecting Buddhist temples and monuments in their place.

Parallel to this ethno-religious colonization, Sri Lanka’s central government has shifted control over policing, land and economics away from the provincial councils. By doing this, it is actively reneging on its constitutional obligation to devolve power to the provinces, and denying Tamils even the slightest autonomy.

Given that Tamil self-determination lay at the very core of Sri Lanka’s quarter-century civil war, the significance of this move cannot be overstated. This is the Rajapaksa regime revelling in the most crude and cruel triumphalism.

*First published in New Internationalist 

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Latest comments

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    Yes, it is crude and cruel triumphalism and nothing else. Anyway Rajapakses have to pay for these sins over a period of time. There is no escape!

    Sengodan. M

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      The sungod is in hell. Never mind, pray five time daily to the devil till you die.

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      Mr Garland , Do you know what you are talking about . Prior to 1983 there were 140,000 Sinhala and Muslims in the North East of Sri Lanka. 26,000 Sinhala were in Jaffna alone .This demography was changed by ethnic cleansing by the LTTE either by killing them or driving them away . There is no Sinhalisation as you call it , as it is about time these Sinhala and Muslims were re-settled . What would you call when Tamils are settled in Wellawatte in Colombo . ?? Would you call this Tamilisation ?

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    Same old agony story.The defeated Tamil terrorists had their chances,but blew everything.First Rajiv Ghandi tried to accommodate the terrorists.The ever grateful Tamil terrorists murdered Rajiv Ghandi in cold blood.Then Premadasa tried his best to apiece the Tamil terrorists.As usual murdered Premadas.Then CBK tried the same.As usual tried to bump off her,and CBK got lucky ending up with one eye.Finally the Tamil terrorists met their Waterloo at Nandikadal.Now what?Blackmail in the form of human rights.When these cold blooded Tamil terrorists were terrorizing the country the word “Human rights”was not in their lexicon.With plenty of money in possession in the form of credit card fraud,human and drug trafficking,extortion and murder,blakcmail,prostitution,etc,the defeated Tamil terrorists have hired foreigners to help them in achieving their pipe dream! A bunch of clowns!

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      Rajiv Gandi was a butcher who sent in the Indian army that raped, indiscriminately killed and stole from Tamils. After they were sent back to India without defeating Tamil militans. The same Rajiv Gandi was part of the North Indian and Brahmin dominated Indian elite who tried repeatedly to wipe out Dravdian languages in India, a clear cut case of genocide.

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      Max silva
      why not try o find out who your real father is. How long are you going to keep licking the backside of your master. You moronic slave wake up and have a life.

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    you idiot white clown have you even been to sri lanka ? how much time have you spent there . I cant believe the nonsense these idiots write .

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      CT knows you are the MaRayas paid cksucker.

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      Moron AKA max silva go hunt your father. Don’t sell your mother.

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      I have never been to South Africa during its Apartheid years so would I be wrong in stating that Whites treated Blacks horribly .
      I was not alive when the American South had segregation so would I be wrong in stating that Black Americans were under the boot of White power.

      One does not necessarily have to come to SL or even live in SL for a long time to know what is going on in the grand scheme of things.

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    This is a another regurgitation of allegations with no real substance but phrases like ‘major uptik, ‘vast areas’,’scarcely any’ ‘reported to have been resettled’.

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    You see Lewis, we are dealing with some strange sub human entities as you can see from the way that they think.

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    Like our President said the other day, Sri Lanka is a democracy. There is an established legal system here. Instead of gossip mongering the complaints by faceless people, go with them to the police or directly to Judiciary and take action against ‘torture of returned Tamil asylum seekers’ that you’re have written here.

    There are numerous tv and radio channels in Sri Lanka as well as daily journals of all colours and shades. That means, media freedom is very much alive here. Moreover, many a neocon sponsored NGOs are working in tandem with the opposition. If ‘human rights violations and ethnic discrimination’ are rife as you say you could pinpoint it and highlight it to the public at large with the assistance of those media and press houses, NGOs and the opposition. We see none coming out. Why?

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      Your president does not understand as to what Democracy is; this is why other world leaders are trying to educate him! What “established legal system” you have talked about? You mean the one that is being headed by the president’s puppet?

      It is a pity that, one time Sri Lankan politicians could educate other world leaders about the nuances of democracy. For example, see what DR N.M Perera said about Democracy during Sinhala Only debate; if only the then leaders had the wisdom to heed his advice:

      DR NM Perera; 1955 October 19 Hansard during the Language debate:

      “If democracy is to be treated as an arithmetical concept
      that whatever the majority decides must be accepted that if
      the majority decides that the majority religion must prevail
      it must be accepted merely because they have got
      superiority in members, that is not democracy. Where you
      have different religions, the sovereignty of the majority is
      automatically checked by those inalienable rights that the
      minorities have which cannot be overridden by the mere
      whim and fancy of a majority. The test of a democratic
      decision is the morality of the law. It is not merely a
      counting of heads but whether in point of fact the minorities
      are given full consideration of their points of view.

      Democracy means an adjustment of different points of
      view, it means giving full weight to the rights of minority
      communities. That is what democracy means, it is not
      merely a counting of heads.’ (613)”

      It will do good to you to study the above and understand and respect the diversity in Sri Lanka. Give space to the Tamils and Muslims along with the Christians. Respect democracy as outlined by DR Perera. This is all what is expected of the Majority Sinhala Buddhist; is it too much to ask?

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    I will pick just one of many wrong intimations. You wrote on the state-facilitated settlement of Sinhalese people and imposition of Sinhalese culture in traditional Tamil areas.

    There lives at least one million Tamils in the central hills of Sri Lanka. They are not natives there. British Raj brought them during the later part of their rule here for two reasons. 1) To alter the demographic composition of this region. 2) To turn the land that they have grabbed from natives by force with something called Wastelands Ordinance to tea plantations. All for the benefit of the British.

    Now change the word ‘Sinhalese’ to ‘Tamil’ in your write-up and rewrite your sentence. viz: ‘the state-facilitated settlement of Sinhalese people and imposition of Sinhalese culture in traditional Tamil areas.’

    Now, you being a British are you not ashamed of your ancestor’s colonisation of our central hills with aliens. I bet you have excuse and I like to hear it.

    unlike your ancestors herded Tamils to Sri Lanka, you should know that Sinhalas not aliens to the North and East. If you wanted learn a bit of it then you may read Dharshani Ratnawalli’s article ‘The Secret History Of Jaffna And The Vanni’ in CT dated 10th Nov.

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      “If you wanted learn a bit of it then you may read Dharshani Ratnawalli’s article ‘The Secret History Of Jaffna And The Vanni’ in CT dated 10th Nov”

      You will do yourself a great deal justice if you ignore completely the Kid called Dharshani Ratnawalli!

      You need to learn history objectively and ignore specious attempt by the bigoted writers. The Tamils of Sri Lanka should not be blamed for British settling the Indian Tamils in the upcountry. Though the upcountry Tamils have done more than their fair share of deeds to the economy of Sri Lanka.

      How would you feel, if you are a Tamil; soon after the end of the war, the government of Sri Lanka, even before the IDPs are settled in their own places, has been endeavouring to settle exclusively Sinhala within the North and East. What would that do to the already festering wounds? You exhibited total triumphalism over the war victory. You paid scant regard for the Tamil sentiments then you emboldened by the victory subjecting the Tamils with organised Sinhala only settlements. Why? Why do the Sinhala need a special treatment; why not allow the all Sri Lankans to move freely based on economic conditions. After all, no other community in Sri Lanka is helped by the state in this regard. Why subject the minorities with such institutionalised discrimination?

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    What nonsense are you talking about man?

    According to 2012 statistics, total population in the North is 1,058,762 million. Of that, only 65,000 are Sinhala and Muslims. All others 993,000 are Tamil. However, total Tamil population in Sri Lanka is about three million. That means, less than a third of all Tamils live in the North and all other Tamils live in the South with Sinhalas. Even the Chief Minister of the North, Wigneshwaran is a resident of Colombo.

    And you want the North reserved as a Tamil homeland or homogeneous Bantu land for just about 3% of Sri Lanka population of Sri Lanka. If Tamils can live outside the North, so can the Sinhala. We know what Velu wanted for he wasn’t hanky panky. Get it right white man; we hadn’t drowned LTTE in Nanthikadal for its proxies to get it by law what LTTE couldn’t by war.

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    The arrogance and hypocrisy of some(I hope it is a fringe minority) of these Brits are beyond belief. Does he know how the British crushed the upcountry rebellions in Sri Lanka? That these rebellions didn’t go on for decades yet they were swift and brutal in crushing the rebellions?

    After centuries of colonialism and decades of war we have a lot to catch up. Please don’t deny us our right for that by trying to destabilize the country.

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