15 November, 2019

Blog

Democratising Laws & Minds

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“No questioning

arises from subservient lips.”

Andrée Chedid (For Salman Rushdie)

In a recent satirical column, American humorist Andy Borowitz reported the discovery of a new strain of fact-resistant humans. “These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information… And yet somehow they have developed defences that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those facilities totally inactive… As facts have multiplied their defences against those facts have grown more powerful…”[i]

Mr. Borowitz is writing about American climate change deniers. But his ‘new discovery’ is a perfect for the (mercifully) small group of Lankan politicians who dream of restoring Rajapaksa power.

MahindaLankan fact-resisters are no less delusional than their American counterparts. Their starting point is a refusal to admit the outcome of the January 9th presidential election. They perform amazing feats of contortionisms in order to reject the simple fact that Mahinda Rajapaksa lost an election he himself called, even though he contested as the incumbent and abused state power and resources with unprecedented liberality.

The former president himself heads the fact-resisters. In his message to the ‘Bring back Mahinda’ meeting in Kurunegala, Mr. Rajapaksa defined his electoral defeat, yet again, as a conspiracy. He also alleged that “Western imperialists divisonists may have snatched” his life without the love and protection of his supporters!

Other fact-resisters try to evade the election results by claiming that the outcome is not legitimate because more Sinhalese voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa than for Maithripala Sirisena. A direct line is visible between that Apartheid-type argument and the national flag fiasco. The Rajapaksa-patriots who demonstrated outside the Bribery Commission office, in violation of a court order, were caught on camera waving a distorted national flag. Though some of them claimed that this too was an international conspiracy, the truth is that they were waving the ‘national flag’ of their Sri Lanka – a country in which minorities do not count, politically or electorally.

Another favourite delusion of the fact-resisters is that they live in a police state sans freedom or rights. In his Kurunegala speech, former minister Dinesh Gunawardena vowed that the ‘Bring back Mahinda’ struggle will not be abandoned even if they ‘fall dead, one on top of the other’. Since Rajapaksa supporters enjoy the full benefits of restored democracy and are not being treated like the hapless protestors of Weliveriya, there is no reason for any of them to fall dead, except from some natural cause, including a fit of apoplexy.

The nature of the political project of the fact-resisters can be understood by the five demands they presented, as the basis for Sirisena-Rajapaksa talks. They wanted Mr. Rajapaksa to be declared the UPFA prime ministerial candidate and given a decisive role in picking candidates for the next parliamentary election. They wanted to lengthen the lifespan of local government bodies (dominated by Rajapaksa supporters). They wanted the FCID to be scrapped so that corruption investigations will cease. And they wanted the UPFA to form a government of its own. In other words they wanted what they lost – total power, total control and total impunity.

The fact-resisters persist in regarding Maithripala Sirisena as a man of negligible quantity, a mere puppet who can be forced or manipulated into compliance. They obviously believed Mr. Sirisena could be threatened and bamboozled into building an expressway back to power for the defeated Rajapaksas. In the end, not a single one of the demands were conceded (according to some reports when Mr. Rajapaksa threatened to walkout, Mr. Sirisena, instead of falling over backwards to prevent him, bade him a polite goodbye!).

Since President Sirisena cannot be duped or forced into re-enthroning the ancien régime, Mahinda Rajapkasa has two realistic options. He can stop being a fact-resister and retire from politics, at least for the time being. Or he can forge ahead along the only path open to him, and slice the largest possible chunk off the SLFP, thereby giving the UNP a free run. As the Central Bank bond issue demonstrated, no ruling party can be trusted too much. A spirited opposition is a democratic necessity. That is precisely what the fact-resisters will destroy with their harebrained schemes.

Marx and Engels described feudal socialism as “….half echo of the past, half menace of the future……but always ludicrous in its effect, through total incapacity to comprehend the march of modern history.”[ii] This definition is an ideal-fit for the Rajapaksa restorationist project. The best way to deal with this retrogressive project is by changing the socio-political and psychological soil which created it. Change the system and change the minds; let democracy and rule of law take root, so that Rajapaksas become passé, and fade away into a barely remembered and hardly lamented past.

Paring down the Political Caste

Sri Lanka is a world-leader in ‘legislature burden’ (the ratio of parliamentarians to populace)[iii]. Lankan parliamentarians constitute a privileged caste. Most are addicted to publicly funded high-life and this renders them extraordinary corruptible and extraordinary manipulable. They have no commitment either to the people they claim to represent or to democracy. Their main – perhaps sole – concern is to retain their privileged positions and to increase their perks. This insalubrious situation is reproduced in provincial and local councils.

A single example would suffice to illustrate the extortionate freebies Lankan parliamentarians are entitled to – a large portion of our workforce is not entitled to a pension, even after labouring for a lifetime; but parliamentarians get a pension after being in parliament for just five years!

And like any privileged caste, our parliamentarians too are infused with a sense of entitlement. This sense of being a breed apart has reached such ludicrous levels that some parliamentarians even think that the law of the land should not apply to them. (Recently former minister Bandula Gunwardane argued that by issuing notice on him for violating a court order, the judiciary breached his parliamentary privileges!). The Rajapaksas deliberately used this situation to their advantage. In return for slavish obedience, acolyte parliamentarians, provincial and local councillors were guaranteed innumerable benefits, from financial perks to de facto impunity .This strata cannot exist without the corrupt and corruptive lifestyle they have become addicted to; and to maintain that lifestyle they need the Rajapaksas back in power. It is not ordinary people but these parasitic politicians with a world to lose who drive and sustain the Rajapaksa restorationist project.

20th Amendment is a necessity. The preference vote system has created a vicious cycle of electoral overspending and political über-corruption. The need for a new electoral system, which is an optimum combination of the PR system and the first-past-the-post system, is undeniable. But if this change requires an increase in the number of parliamentarians, it must be balanced by a substantial reduction in the unconscionably massive privileges the legislators currently enjoy.

Democracies cannot survive without democrats. Most of our current crop of parliamentarians are not democrats, as became obvious during the debates and discussions over the 19th Amendment; a de facto monarchy rather than a restored democracy is to their taste. If this slavish political culture is not changed, it can become a serious hindrance to the ongoing re-democratisation project. An important step in this direction would be to reduce some of the completely unjust perks and privileges of parliamentarians and other elected officials which make them easy prey for leaders with monarchical/dictatorial longings. (Incidentally, if extortionate freebies are pared down to a decent normal, a career in electoral politics will become less attractive to human parasites who love a strong leader they can latch onto.)

Jean Paul Sartre talks about the “existence of different ethics in different epochs”[iv]. The Rajapaksa era created its own brand of ethics, a noxious brew of quasi-tribal and semi-feudal, with infallible leaders and unquestioning acolytes, the whole masked behind a virulent form of majoritarian supremacism. The post-Rajapaksa era needs a different commonsense, something less unfair and unjust, less parasitic and servile, which values reason, justice, compassion and ordinary decency.

Neither Saviours Nor Censors

The Fourth Eelam War (like the Second and the Third) was unavoidable given the nature of Vellupillai Pirapaharan. But as President Sirisena stated in his Independence Day Speech, it was also a particularly barbaric war, a no-holds-barred conflict in which neither side cared a tuppence for the civilians caught in the middle.

Had the Rajapaksas responded to the victory with humanity and humility, many of the national and international problems the country encountered in the subsequent years could have been avoided. Instead the Rajapaksas succumbed to Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism and wallowed in merciless triumphalism. Even something as basic and time-immemorial as mourning one’s personal dead was branded an act of treachery, for Tamils.

The democratisation project requires the replacement of this violently intolerant ethos with a different commonsense which places a premium on compassion, justice and tolerance. The new government’s decision to transform May 18th from a day of triumphalism to a day of commemoration is a necessary step in this direction. As Minister Karu Jayasuriya pointed out, allowing Tamils to personally mourn their personal dead is a basic act of civility. But much more needs to be done, in order to create a new morality which does not venerate physical strength or see violence as the best – and first – solution to any problem.

Fact resisters are also myth creators. The abuse of history to exacerbate ethno-religious divisions became an officially mandated/assisted endeavour during the Rajapaksa years. Of particular efficacy was a series of popular movies which disseminated the Host and Guest concept – the depiction of Lanka as the chosen land of Sinhala-Buddhists and all minorities as perennially untrustworthy enemy aliens.

For myths to flourish, facts must be banished. For example, the myth that only Sinhala-Buddhists fought European invaders is being maintained by completely ignoring well-documented historical facts. For centuries, Wanni “was divided into several independent principalities, over each of which a Malabar prince of princess, under the title of Wanniya or Waninchi presided. Soon after the Dutch became masters of Jaffna, they prevailed on some of the Wanniyas to pay them an annual tribute of elephants, and when this was withheld, they invaded their territory, which they ultimately subjected to their government, after making MARIA SEMBATTE, the chief of the Waninchis, a prisoner, and banishing her to Colombo, where she died. The English took possession of the country on the expulsion of the Dutch from the Island, and the Wanniyas and their dependents remained quite till 1803, when PANDARA WANNIYA, (one of the original Wanniyas) raised a formidable insurrection against the British government; and being assisted by the Kandyans, they at once overran all the Northern districts, and had the temerity to penetrate even into the province of Jaffna, as far as the Elephant’s Pass. His object was to recover the independence of Wanny, and to render himself as head of all its principalities; but he failed entirely, for, though he possessed uncommon bravery, his undisciplined troops did not equal him”[v].

Here is proof contrary to the ‘only Sinhala-Buddhists fought European invaders’ myth. The story of Pandara Wanniya is particularly important because it not only provides an example of Tamil resistance to the British but also of Sinhala-Tamil cooperation in resisting colonial rule. Muslims too often came to the aid of Sinhala rulers in their struggles against European invaders. Such stories of inter-racial/religious cooperation against a common enemy should be highlighted in the media and taught in our schools, because they can become important building blocks of a future Lankan identity. Unfortunately the history taught in our schools is a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist Only’ history, which deliberately ignores any facts contrary to dominant majoritarian supremacist myths.

Democracy in this country can flourish only if the various ethnic and religious groups living in it develop a democratic modus vivendi. An important precondition for this is an end to the habit of looking at everything always via an ethnic/religious lens. The Wilppattu controversy is an excellent example. Deforestation is not a Muslim crime (or Tamil or Sinhala crime). It is a human crime. And it is a crime irrespective of the primordial (or political) identity of the perpetrators. Opposing deforestation or defending it on the basis of primordial identity is equally unacceptable. According to a recent news report, 75 acres of Yala Sanctuary have been occupied illegally for sugar cane cultivation. The ethnic/religious identity of the perpetrators is not mentioned in the story. And rightly so, because it is as irrelevant as the ethnic/religious identity of Wilpattu deforesters. A democratic commonsense will be impossible, if we insist on using the distorting lens of primordial identity to analyse the past, report the present and shape the future.

The Presidential election of January 8th was not just a contestation between two political camps but also a contestation of ideas, including between two readings of Lankan present and two visions of Lankan future. The victory won on January 9th cannot be safeguarded unless the battle of ideas continue, not just against those who seek to monopolise political and economic power but also against those who seek to limit rights and freedoms of others on various ruses including religion. There is nothing much to choose between Bodu Bala Sena and those Islamic fundamentalists who are threatening the life of social activist and writer Sharmila Seyyid for exercising her constitutional right to express her opinion[vi]. Fundamental rights are universal; they cannot be compartmentalised. The Rajapaksas deserve every right guaranteed to Lankans constitutionally, no less and no more. Ms. Seyyid has the right to express her opinion about any matter; others have the right to disagree and debate with her but not to threaten her. The era in which ideas were opposed with censorship, threats, imprisonment, abduction and death came to an end on January 9th. No one must be allowed to resurrect it, in any form or under any banner.


[i] http://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/scientists-earth-endangered-by-new-strain-of-fact-resistant-humans

[ii] The Manifesto of the Communist Party

[iii] http://www.economynext.com/Legislator_burden_on_Sri_Lanka_citizens_to_climb_to_19_times_that_of_India-3-1724-10.html

[iv] Between Existentialism and Marxism

[v] The Ceylon Gazetteer – 1834; italics/capitals in the original

[vi] http://rethinkingislam-sultanshahin.blogspot.com/2015/04/hounded-by-mullahs-muslim-woman-writer.html

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Latest comments

  • 27
    5

    Another brilliant analysis from Tissaranee!

    When she says that “This strata cannot exist without the corrupt and corruptive lifestyle they have become addicted to; and to maintain that lifestyle they need the Rajapaksas back in power. It is not ordinary people but these parasitic politicians with a world to lose who drive and sustain the Rajapaksa restorationist project”, she forgets to mention the non-politicians like Mahindapala and Dayan J who are in the same boat.

    I wonder how these two “parasites’ (and the other MR hangers-on) will respond to this excellent piece?

    • 4
      21

      C’mon Jango, you can do better than leading this TG accolades idiot parade, TG is quoting “history” from a Ceylon Gazateer 1834..what she is not saying is that most Portuguese who mixed in with the native Sri Lankans fought both Dutch and English with the Sinhala administration at that time.

      • 8
        4

        InconvenientTruth – C’mon man, I know it’s “inconvenient” for you and your buddy to be exposed for all to see, but it’s too late for you guys.

        And speaking of the “idiot parade”, take a good look at those “parasitic politicians with a world to lose who drive and sustain the Rajapaksa restorationist project” to rectify your selectively myopic view.

        Anyway, you should know Tissaranee better than most, so it must be disheartening to see how well she is supported by readers of CT, unlike you and your pal.

        • 12
          4

          Excellent Madam Thisaranee!

          I like your term “political caste” of the corrupt politicians of Paradise lost. Sri Lanka politicians are also are a parasitic class.
          You forgot to mention that the majority of the POLITICAL PARASITES in the Parliament of Modayas headed by Ranil who thinks that parliament is Paradise on Earth, are singularly UNEDUCATED and need tuition classes in civics, ethics and politics. So too do ALL voters who vote in fools, thieves, thugs, murderers criminals into the Diyawenna parliament.

          Sinhala Modayas due to lack of VOTER EDUCATION think that democracy is all about PATRONAGE politics and not checks and balances. This is because the Political class and its sycophants like Dayan J mislead rather than EDUCATING THEM. So, hope you will translate and publish your brilliant piece in the Sinhala Bahasa!

    • 7
      3

      Tisaranee Gunasekara –

      RE: Democratising Laws & Minds

      Thank you on the new evolutionary strain of humans from Medamulana, Sri Lanka. Welcome Back.

      “In a recent satirical column, American humorist Andy Borowitz reported the discovery of a new strain of fact-resistant humans. “These humans appear to have all the faculties necessary to receive and process information… And yet somehow they have developed defences that, for all intents and purposes, have rendered those facilities totally inactive… As facts have multiplied their defences against those facts have grown more powerful…”[i]”

      “Lankan fact-resisters are no less delusional than their American counterparts. Their starting point is a refusal to admit the outcome of the January 9th presidential election.”

      They remind me of the ancients and the Church’s refusal to accept the fact that it is the Earth that moves and rotates on its own axis, and not the Sun. Still 25% of the Americans, 34% of the Europeans and 48% of sri Lankans ( those who voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa ) believe that.

      Tissaranee, ask them about the Geocentric and Heliocentric models.

      We also have another Issue Double standards, Can You write a Column on that. Right Now We have an environmental double standard issue, where the Environmentalists are fooled by the extremists, and they are getting Naked.

      Wilpattu: Environmentalists Prostitute With Extremists

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/wilpattu-environmentalists-prostitute-with-extremists/

      Alien Sinahalese Re-Settlers From Hambantota Given Three Acres In Wilpattu… But Half Acre To Muslims Is An Environmental Disaster!

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/alien-sinahalese-re-settlers-from-hambantota-given-three-acres-in-wilpattu-but-half-acre-to-muslims-is-an-environmental-disaster/

  • 24
    3

    Brilliant stuff.

    MARA is going to contest from another party and wants to be opposition leader.

  • 27
    5

    Welcome back Thisaranee. You helped us to defeat him. Now we need you again for the exorcism of his ghost.

    • 12
      3

      Edwin Rodrigo:
      Thanks for that. I couldn’t have expressed my own sentiments better than that.
      We need every person of decency in this country to raise their voice in support of the Tisaranee Gunasekeras and what they stand for and keep the monsters from the door!

    • 1
      0

      EDWIN RODRIGO
      Thank you so much for confirming that it was Tisaranee who single handedly defeated him and the Tamil vote was a waste of time.

  • 29
    5

    Tisarannee,
    you are a gifted writer with such intellect, I wish I could meet you someday in person to congratulate you and say how much I admire and respect you, your views and the inimitable mastery you have with your pen. The views you expouse are so refreshing compared to the ramblings of Dayan J, Rajeev W and the barkings of modawansas and gamanpolas of this world.

    It is essential your articles are translated to Sinhalese and tamil and even the mainstream English media carry them for the benefit of the masses.

    What a beautiful SL would be if people of your calibre were in politics leading (and advising) our country.

  • 21
    5

    “Lankan fact-resisters are no less delusional than their American counterparts.”

    King of the ‘intellectual’ fact resisters is Dayan Jayatilake!

    Mahinda, Gota, Gnanasara, Mahanayakes and hundreds more in this list of notorious fact-resisters.

  • 20
    5

    I am glad that Tisaranee let Dayan, the falsifier of history know that Pandara Vanniyan fought the British but lost.

    There were several insurgencies against the colonial rulers by the Tamils: The forts in the North-east stand testimony to that. Read truthful history and find it out.

    We must not let Dayan get away from propagating lies and poisoning the minds of readers, especially the Sinhalese.

    • 5
      2

      Thiru

      Here is something that you and your Sinhala brethren would have blissfully ignored:

      Colonial Histories and Vädda Primitivism

      by Prof. Gananath Obeyesekere

      Part Four: Väddas and the Resistance (1817-18)

      Vädda loyalty to the Kandyan king is seen with extreme clarity and detail when the Sinhalas and Väddas of Vellassa and Viyaluya began their revolt against the British in 1817 and which soon spread all over the Kandyan provinces in the most serious challenge to British rule ever mounted in Sri Lanka.57 The rebellion itself began over local issues related to the district of Vellassa in and around the region near the modern town of Bibile.58 The Muslim traders who were loyal to the British lived in three villages in this area but they were as always under the control of Sinhala chiefs. When Governor Brownrigg in a tactical move to control local chiefs gave the Muslims their own chief or Muhandiram the Sinhala nobility in the area harassed them. This anti-Muslim movement later lead to resistance against British rule itself when there emerged a claimant to the throne, Dorai Svami, who was believed to be in the direct line of descent from the Nayakkar kings. He wore the robe of a Buddhist monk and proclaimed himself king in the Kataragama devāle, demanding the sword and regalia left by the deposed king and when these were granted he toured the area of Vellassa in royal style.59 At Pubbare he was received as royalty and he exchanged his robe “for a white and a colored cloth, a fine shawl, and a red turban embroidered with gold which Kivulegedera [a Vädda chief] produced.”60 Soon the notorious D’Oyly, the government resident in Kandy and master spy for the British, found that Dorai Svami was in Kokagala, the sacred peak for the Väddas in the Bintanna area, under the protection of Kivulegedera Mohottala. “There the Prince proclaimed that Kataragama Deviyo had given him the Kingdom which foreigners had seized, and that he was the third in line in descent from Raja Sinha, imprecating on himself the God’s vengeance if what he stated was untrue.”61 The Rate Rala of Maha Badulugama prostrated himself before the Prince and swore allegiance while Kivulegedera Mohottala was proclaimed Disava of Valapana, the area west of his own division of Viyaluva.

      Who was Kivulegedera? He belonged to a distinguished line of Bandara Väddas and he was also a Mohottala, that is, an important Kandyan official. Kivulegedera itself is a village in Viyaluya, a district adjacent to both Vellassa and Valapane. It is one of the most beautiful villages I have seen in the dry zone, ringed by mountains on one side and fed by a perennial stream (kivula). What is striking from the point of view of this paper is that throughout the rebellion the Prince sought refuge in this wild country under the protection of the Väddas and was escorted by them. During the height of the rebellion when D’Oyly sent his stooge, Udugama Unnanse, a Buddhist monk and spy for the British, to seek the Prince, the latter not only gave this monk permission to visit him but he even “furnished him with an escort of Väddo.” The claimant’s palace itself was a makeshift affair but it was still considered a temporary capital or a “gamanmāligāva” or “circuit palace” with much of the symbolic meanings attached to the “city” of the king.

      The next phase in the British search for Dorai Svami was when D’Oyly ordered John Sylvester Wilson, the Resident of Badulla and a thoroughly decent colonial officer, to seek information about him. Wilson dispatched a party of Muslims who proceeded to Dankumbura in Bintanna only to learn that the “stranger,” as the claimant to the throne was called, was eight miles north in Keheulla with an armed guard of two hundred Väddas. But the British force was confronted at Bakinigaha by a large force of Sinhalas who captured the Muslim chief. He was taken to the Prince and sentenced to death. When Wilson was informed of this disaster he himself went into this area and once again had to deal with armed Sinhala villagers under local chiefs. Wilson tried to negotiate with them but they would have none of it. He sent his force back and retired into the stream nearby in order to defecate. There he was killed by Sinhala arrows: a not very-glorious way of dying, a not-very-glorious way of killing. Yet, who shot Douglas Sylvester Wilson is as much of a point of honor for Sinhala people in this area just as who killed Captain Cook was for Hawaiians.62 To this day various Sinhala families in Vellassa vie with each other for that somewhat dubious honor.63 A week after Wilson’s death the Prince “assumed the name Viravikrama Śrī Kirti and appointed the Household officials whom court etiquette rendered necessary.”64

      Simon Sawers, D’Oyly’s trusted second in command, was sent to Badulla on 27 October, 1817 to oversee matters. The well-known Kandyan chief Kappitipola Nilame was also sent by D’Oyly to Badulla and another chief Dulvava was sent to Valapane, the region which was given to Kivulegedera by the Prince. Kivulegedera’s people chased Dulvava away and tore his banner to shreds and destroyed the mail station that connected this region with Kandy.

      The British strategy was to isolate the region and this was done by the infamous Major Macdonald who with four detachments moved from Badulla, Kandy and Bintanna and met on the 31st at Haunsanvella, near the place of Wilson’s death. He engaged in a massive destruction of villages and their crops. There was only one casualty on the British side, a man who was shot when Kivulegedara’s house in Viyaluva was being burnt down.65

      As Pieris rightly pointed out scorched earth tactics, though well-known in Europe and practiced in colonial warfare, were unthinkable for Kandyans for whom destroying crops were almost acts of sacrilege. On November 1st Molligoda and Millava joined the British troops under Macdonald and marched from Bintanna with no opposition, “crowds appearing before the Adikar to claim protection from him.” Yet the Prince eluded capture. In a proclamation dated 1 November 1817, Brownrigg urged the punishment of those “acting, aiding, or in any manner assisting in the rebellion which now exists in the Provinces of Oowa, Walapona, Wellassa and Bintanna … according to Martial Law either by death or otherwise, as to them shall seem right and expedient.”66

      Kappitipola’s fate was different from Dulvava’s. He left Badulla as an emissary of the British to deal with the situation in Vellassa but he was captured by Väddas at Alupota, a Muslim village, on November 1, 1817. According to one local history I gathered in the field it was again Kivulegedera who headed the Väddas. Apparently Kappitipola was effectively surrounded by a force of Sinhalas and Väddas and they refused to let him leave. The details of the negotiations between Kappitipola and those who captured him are not clear; what is clear is that Kappitipola, from being the agent of the British government, now became the leader of the rebellion. With Kappitipola’s involvement the rebellion ceased to be a local one and became a national movement in 1818.

      For our purposes I want to deal with the arrival of Dorai Svami with Kappitipola near Alutvela (where a temporary palace was erected). Dorai Svami appeared in full panoply just as was the case with any Sinhala monarch. Paul E. Pieris has a vivid description of this event but let me refer to his discussion of the ceremonial role of the Väddas in this formal portrayal of the official structure of the Kandyan state. “The royal parasol, headdresses, and other insignia were brought out and arranged after which a hundred and fifty armed Väddo came swiftly and silently out of the woods and took up their station. The horanava sounded again and a procession emerged with the arms of the Gods… The Chiefs now ranged themselves according to precedence, and out of the forest the King [Dorai Svami] appeared covered in white draperies from head to foot and guarded by a hundred Väddo, crossing the threshold of the building at eight paya [Sinhala “hours”] before dark, which was probably the auspicious nakata, while the Väddo stationed themselves around it. Five paya later the Chiefs assembled again before the Sarasvati Mandapa and on the Prince showing himself at a window prostrated themselves in homage before him.”67

      The details of the suppression of the rebellion are not germane for the present argument except to mention the extraordinary show of force and brutality by which it was crushed. As late as 1896 the British judge Archibald Lawrie could give some details on the ruined temples and devales in the Central Province during this fateful period and write about the event itself: “The story of the English rule in the Kandyan country during 1817 and 1818 cannot be related without shame. In 1819 hardly a member of the leading families, the heads of the people, remained alive; those whom the sword and the gun had spared, cholera and smallpox and privations had slain by hundreds.”68 The pax britannica that followed the rebellion was erected on this terrifying base.

      Kivulegedera himself, along with the other leaders, was captured and executed while large numbers of lesser leaders were deported, sometimes without trial, to Mauritius, the penal colony of the time. After his death he was deified as Kivulegedera Punci Alut Deviyo (“the younger new god of Kivulegedera”). According to Paul E. Pieris, Kivulegedera Mohottala was the last and seventh of a distinguished line of deified Bandara Väddas.69 Both this deity and his father, also a deity, are to this day propitiated in communal rituals among the Sinhalas and Väddas in the Bintanna, Vellassa and Viyaluya region. However, few today seem to think that Kivulegedera was a Vädda at all; he has been transformed into a fully Sinhalized hero of the resistance.

      End Notes

      The account of the rebellion is available in Paul E. Pieris, Sinhale and the Patriots, New Delhi: Nawrang, 1995 [1950], pp.276ff, and much of the relevant documents are found in Tennakoon Vimalananda, The Great Rebellion of 1818 (Colombo: M.D. Gunasena and Co., 1970). I have collected many oral narratives on this event from Vellassa and the adjoining regions but for present purposes I will present Pieris’s account.
      Of Vellassa itself Pieris says: “Vellassa is nearly a thousand miles in extent, and there the Prince’s chief adherents were the Väddo, who always ranked among the most loyal and trusted servants of the King; probably they had not forgotten that they had fought in Parakrama Bahu’s armies with distinction.”
      The British later found out that the claimant was not Dorai Svami at all but an ex-Buddhist monk named Vilbave. However, the British did not know this till very late; neither did the Väddas nor the Sinhalas who all recognized him as Dorai Svami. In my mind whether or not Dorai Svami was Vilbave is not yet conclusively proved.
      Paul E Pieris, Sinhale and the Patriots, p.188.
      Ibid., p. 189.
      See Gananath Obeyesekere, The Apotheosis of Captain Cook: European mythmaking in the Pacific, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.
      Wilson had suffered greatly when his young wife died on May 24th 1817, a few months before his own death.
      Ibid., p.196.
      Ibid., pp.201-02.
      Ibid., p.203.
      Ibid., pp.277-78.
      Lawrie’s Gazetteer, vol., 1, p.203
      These were, according to the information given to Pieris, as follows:
      Ihala Walawwe Alut Deviyo
      Pahala Walawwe Deviyo
      Dissa Bandara Deviyo
      Patabendi Alut Deviyo
      Kadavata Alut Deviyo
      Punchi Alut Bandara Deviyo.

      http://vedda.org/obeyesekere5.htm

  • 16
    5

    This [Edited out], Mahinda’s menace is growing day by day.

    He still has kept his racist and rabid dogs out in the field to attack the minorities and this time its Muslims again with the Wilpattu case.

    There is only but one solution….Mahinda should not be in the living world. He must be in the afterlife.

    The major mistake on the part of RANIL and MAITHREE is the line they took still in protecting the SINHALA ONLY project. They have no plans to take action on the RACIST DOGS who caused immenesed damage to the minorities. This trend is going on for years. The Monk-ey Elley Gunawangsa brought about a 30 year war with his contribution of the 1983 riots. HE IS STILL ALIVE and patronised by almost all the Political Heads in the Sinhala camp including Chandrika at one time.

    They will not JUSTICE a JUSTICE.

    Now, even after the hard won battle against the Roba-King Mahinda on Jan 08th, his multi-pronged attack on the government and the UNP and the minorities are going on very, very strong.

    Maithree will soon become a BIG DISSAPOINTMENT to the people who loved the country and voted for him.

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    Keep them coming Tisaranee, in English, Sinhala and Thamil!

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    Another great write up Ms.Tisaranee. If I may add, the scientifically lacking and factually incorrect climate deniers and nay sayers in the US are delusional no doubt when it comes to global warming. I was thinking along the same lines as you highlighted by comparing the Rajapaskha camp who are in constant denial with this same analogy in mind. However, I too seem to have got this equation wrong. The right wing communal agenda of the Rajapsksha’s have proven that they are not “delusional” but totally RETARDED. If Sinahala we cal this “Pissuwatta Beheth Naha” meaning that insanity has no medicine.

  • 12
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    Tisaranee’s writing is always a delight to read.
    As she has rightly stated no amount of logic and reason can penetrate the thick skulls of our unfortunate lot. Lets call such people ‘shit heads’ for convenience.
    Its not just the handful of leaders that have this mental handicap or shit headedness , which in their case we can At least attribute to selfishness and blatant greed. What excuse are we going to make for the substantial populace who have the same problem?
    I can’t imagine how we can begin to get through to this unfortunate lot that have practically cut themselves off from the human race.
    Obviously its not just the Sinhalese-Bhuddist that I’m talking about, such people are in their numbers amongst other ethnic or religious groups as well.

  • 2
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    Tisaranee

    All bull.. What happened to your socialist views? How can you support MS who was a Brutus and went over to the UNP camp ? Do you agree that it is good to be pro western at the expense of SL being controlled by the U.S. and other western powers? MR is the greatest patriotic leader SL has ever produced. May he return to politics and save this country. Country will go to the dogs otherwise.

    • 8
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      Saumya, How did they manage to Brainwash you into believing that:-

      “MR is the greatest patriotic leader SL has ever produced. May he return to politics and save this country. Country will go to the dogs otherwise.”

      Let us know the Secret of the Brainwash. Was it drugs from Kudu Lal, or Wele Sudha?

  • 19
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    Well Said!!! The Corrupt need MR and MR needs the Corrupt. Thats the only way for the two to survive.

    Just because you can get a few thousand illiterate village idiots to go and shout for MR doesn’t mean he has mass support. This is what clowns like Dayan want you to believe. I dont think the people of SL are that stupid.

  • 5
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    I wish that Tisaranee could become president.
    Then, we will have a ‘just’ society in Sri Lanka.

  • 5
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    OH SO HOW? Tissaranee…. All these armchair bloggers changing the SRILANKAN politics? Never in my lifetime nor in my grand children’s time as long as the layback attitude remains In the Srilankan mentality.

    The Lankans are a generation guided partly by the Religion and partly by the deceitful crafty politicians. Have we ever heard of any Revolution in the 2000 years of History of SRILANKA?

    Layback attitude will never change anything . ” Not in my back yard mate “.Srilankans are selfish and greedy as same as the politicians.
    So nothing is going to change overnight. This is my Analysis.

  • 2
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    We have no grudge on any one. But a set of people having illusion MR concept is real is everywhere in the system in all levels . They are really aggressive and want to collapse the ongoing improvements silently. There fore unbearable difficulty is faced by good people unduely. Because for several years people’s normal concept is you cannot do good and most of the people resist good people who talk openly.There is unseen real barrier in the system.

  • 5
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    First of all, hats off to Tisaranee for a great article. Please continue writing.

    Regarding the myth that only Sinhala-Buddhists fought European invaders and it is due to Sinhala-Buddhists that Sri Lanka achieved independence was very well addressed by Tisaranee.

    I would like to say a few words on it. First of all, the Sri Lankans did not fight with the European colonial power for independence.

    Neither D. S. Senanayaka and the Congress nor any others (including Keppitipola, Puran Appu, Gongalegoda Banda, Anagarika Dharmapala and numerous Bhikkus and lay people) fought for the independence of Sri Lanka?
    Puran Appu and/or Gongalegoda Banda did not fight a national struggle (a brief uprising limited for few days, as a direct response to the introduction of new tax by the then Governor Torrington), Keppetipola fought for personal reasons and so were the others.

    Unlike the Indians (Mahatma Gandhi, Jawalhal Nehru, Mohd Ali Ginna, Subash Chandra Bose, and others) who suffered for their Independence, our leaders collaborated with the British and got Independence on a platter (without shedding a single drop of tears, sweat or blood). The Indian leaders Mohandas Gandhi along with Jawaharlal Nehru and Mohamad Ali Jinna fought for it peacefully, Subash Chandra Bose fought for it violently, and Sri Lanka got it free along with the Indians without spilling any blood, sweat or tears.

    Monarawila Keppetipola in 1818, Puran Appu in 1848, Mayadunne, Gongalegoda Banda, Kudapola Rahula thero, Wariyapola Sumangala and a few others were rebels who fought at different periods (long before independence) for different issues/reasons, it had nothing to do with the Independence. They were easily crushed and were executed very long before Sri Lanka obtained independence.

    Did anybody fight and succeed in sending the British out of the country?
    None of their struggle contributed to the Independence of Sri Lanka, it was granted in 1948, only after the British were forced to leave the region due to Gandhi’s struggle in India. When the British gave independence to India, they found that it is time to leave this region and it is pointless keeping a tiny country like Sri Lanka. In 1948, we got it free on a platter, thanks to Gandhi and the Indians. Go and listen to Nanda Malini’s song ‘Nidahas baila’, it is very well composed with the facts.

    As Tisaranee says in this article, very similar to some of the Sinhala rebellion against the British rule even the Tamils have rebelled. Pandara Vanniyan (Kulasegaram Vairamuthu Pandaravanniyan) was known as one of last native Tamil chiefs to challenge British rule. We should also not forget the service rendered by Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan at that time and the Sinhalese including Anagarika Dharmapala called him a hero.

    We should also not forget the fact that, it was Cankili Kumaran, the Tamil King of Jaffna who waged a war and fought decisively with the Portuguese forces when they tried to take the Tamil throne of the Jaffna kingdom (even though he was defeated later).

    As Tisaranee very rightly said, the majority is made to believe that the Sri Lankan history is a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist Only’ history and deliberately ignores any facts contrary to dominant majoritarian supremacist myths. Very unfortunately, not only educated but intelligent and right thinking people like Tisaranee are only a handful in Sri Lanka.

    It is also unfortunate to see some of these fellows who are believed to be ‘well educated with PhDs’ but when they talk/write, I hardly see any difference between them and those ill-advised fools; they both have the same low mentality and narrow mindedness. Sometimes I feel that the uneducated street vendors, auto-taxi drivers and coconut pluckers are much more intelligent than these so called ‘Political Scientists’.

  • 0
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    Dear TG,

    I see, in terms of modern Sinhala history, SWRDs Apey Anduwa Revolution
    as the 1st watershed. We then played our politics so badly with Mrs. B in the late 60s and early 70s and then with the swollen-headed Emperor JRJ (1977-1989) that resulted in a foreign army soiling our shores in 1987 – the 2nd watershed. JRJ foolishly believed the Americans will play ball with him against the Indians. Despite his erudition and experience the political leader remains little wept and unsung. The 3rd Watershed was when MR took over and wanted to repeat JRJ’s prejudice to teach the Indians a lesson by bringing in the Chinese – the fond wish of many Sinhalese. Of course, in the interim, MR and his many Ali Babas were indulging in their family business of thievery
    cleaning up the State’s coffers. We escaped getting into the dragon’s mouth by inches under the Rajapakses misgovernance. India will not forget that. The next – 4th – watershed – is when MR, joined by the Sinhala supremacists, the priests and a section of the armed forces – will make an attempt in the present delicate and confused political landscape to create countrywide chaos and disorder under the guise of politics when we may, very likely, see the emergence of foreign forces again to put down a political earthquake we will unleash. The Buddhist Sinhala supremacists, who are now engaged in all manner of political skulduggery, will have to hold them responsible to what happens to the island in the coming months and thereafter. I am pained I see nothing else butwe a bleak future.

    “they seek to destroy the despised present in order to recapture
    an idealised past in an imaginary future”

    What the majority Sinhala voter will eventually succeed is to help continue the destruction of the State. This process began in 1956 in that folly of the 1-man-1-vote tragedy. Unless divine help aids Ranil, Mangala, My3 and the lot we will be back to the Island of Tears from the many decades we were famed as the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.

    Kettikaran

  • 4
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    By Tisaranee Gunasekara –

    Democratising Laws & Minds

    Democratising Laws is man made.
    Democratising Minds is Genetic. You are either born with it or without.
    Take Islamic Countries. Where do you find a True Democracy. By their own admission Western Democracy is alien to them.

    The same goes for Thugs like the Paksas who grew up in Hambanthotta slums. Just by accident they were thrust into power under the pretext of fighting Terrorism and they took full advantage of the situation presented to them killing and milking the nation of its wealth. Can you blame them and whether we like it or not the Paksas have supporters who are yearning for the day the fallen King will return to the Throne.
    They are not Fact Resisters but Fact Believers.

    1) The discovery of a new strain of fact-resistant humans.

    *** This is an age old theory called ” Tolerance “.
    If the Majority ( I mean the Majority of the Majority ) are with you and what you believe in which is Sinhalamisation is in you mind right then you develop Tolerance to the trouble brewing around you.
    Internally they feel safe which is evident from the Security Cordon surrounding MR the War Criminal. MS, RW, Mangala contrary to what they promised and what they were elected to do by the Tamil Vote have not done anything.
    MR is roaming around, Gotha is free Basil is recuperating in a safe environment so that he doesn’t catch any Germs.

    2) But his ‘new discovery’ is a perfect for the (mercifully) small group of Lankan politicians who dream of restoring Rajapaksa power.

    *** Where did you get this idea from. At the last count he has the support of 98 MPs.

    3) The former president himself heads the fact-resisters. In his message to the ‘Bring back Mahinda’ meeting in Kurunegala, Mr. Rajapaksa defined his electoral defeat, yet again, as a conspiracy. He also alleged that “Western imperialists divisonists may have snatched” his life without the love and protection of his supporters!

    *** Did you see the size of crowds. The people who snatched power from him were not Western Imperialist but the Tamils. Truth lies closer to home.

    4) Other fact-resisters try to evade the election results by claiming that the outcome is not legitimate because more Sinhalese voted for Mahinda Rajapaksa than for Maithripala Sirisena.

    *** They are right and they are Fact Believers. We might not like it but a Fact.
    The 5 demands are the Aspirations of the Majority of the Majority and what is wrong with it. This is Democracy in Sinhala Lanka not Western Style but Sri Lankan style.

    5) Since President Sirisena cannot be duped or forced into re-enthroning the ancien régime, Mahinda Rajapkasa has two realistic options.

    *** The above is not up to MS but the rests on the shoulders of the subjects.

    6) Most are addicted to publicly funded high-life and this renders them extraordinary corruptible and extraordinary manipulable They have no commitment either to the people they claim to represent or to democracy. Their main – perhaps sole – concern is to retain their privileged positions and to increase their perks. This insalubrious situation is reproduced in provincial and local councils.

    *** If what you say above is correct what gives you the confidence that the current Crop of Politicians are different. Did they undergo a Gene Mutation and if so which clinic.

    7) And like any privileged caste, our parliamentarians too are infused with a sense of entitlement. This sense of being a breed apart has reached such ludicrous levels that some parliamentarians even think that the law of the land should not apply to them.

    *** Dayan the Catholic Coolie fits the Bill.

    8) Democracies cannot survive without democrats. Most of our current crop of parliamentarians are not democrats, as became obvious during the debates and discussions over the 19th Amendment; a de facto monarchy rather than a restored democracy is to their taste.

    *** Can you please separate the Believers from the Non Believers so that we can declare a ” Fatwa” on them.

    9) The Fourth Eelam War (like the Second and the Third) was unavoidable given the nature of Vellupillai Pirapaharan. But as President Sirisena stated in his Independence Day Speech, it was also a particularly barbaric war, a no-holds-barred conflict in which neither side cared a tuppence for the civilians caught in the middle.

    *** I would appreciate a Chronology and one correction.

    One side cared but found itself cornered.
    The other side didn’t care a damn.

    10) The democratisation project requires the replacement of this violently intolerant ethos with a different commonsense which places a premium on compassion, justice and tolerance. The new government’s decision to transform May 18th from a day of triumphalism to a day of commemoration is a necessary step in this direction. As Minister Karu Jayasuriya pointed out, allowing Tamils to personally mourn their personal dead is a basic act of civility. But much more needs to be done, in order to create a new morality which does not venerate physical strength or see violence as the best – and first – solution to any problem.

    *** How do you explain the appointment of the Army chief who oversaw mass murder of Tamils.

    11) Democracy in this country can flourish only if the various ethnic and religious groups living in it develop a democratic modus vivendi.

    An important precondition for this is an end to the habit of looking at everything always via an ethnic/religious lens.

    *** I agree with the first but the second is an inevitable fact of life and that is why we need separate roof over our heads.

  • 3
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    “What the majority Singhalese voter will eventually succeed is to help continue the destruction of the state”

    Then what happens to the others in such eventuality and what Is the consequence of that to the country at large which includes the Sinhalese as well?

    I do not think that a majority of Sinhalese will lie supine and remain insensitive to the danger that faces them and remain inactive and tolerate the conflict mongerimg racist politicians among them.The fact that MR and his goons were defeated on 8th January is a glaring testimony to that fact.

    That is why a constitutional mechanism should be devised to set out measures to improve the capacity of the large poorer sections of the people to deal successfully with state institutions without political interference and to make economic growth more inclusive.

    To achieve that end it is necessary to address the question of employment, social welfare, health, education and transport by enacting measures to ensure a stricter separation of the executive and legislative wing of the government
    by broad basing power through devolution of and provincial councils and local authorities.

  • 1
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    Dear Tamil Slave,

    1- I said ‘helped’ so the single handedly does not apply.

    2- When I said ‘us’ I meant all right thinking voters of Sri Lanka irrespective of the ethnicity, religion, sex, education, physical size etc. etc. For me ‘us’ means even you Tamil Slave. Thank you for your support.

    We did it together. Now we have to finish it togetehr.

  • 0
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    Congratulations, Tissaranee. Brilliant!

  • 0
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    Fact resistant humans! Thisaranee is living proof they do exist.

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