24 May, 2022


Five Years After May 2009: Blues For Sri Lanka

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

I. “And mine is the sling of David” (Jose Marti)

If Germany can celebrate its Reunification Day, when the Berlin Wall fell and the two halves of Germany were reunited, why should Sri Lanka not celebrate the day when the LTTE’s Iron Curtain was destroyed, a radical evil defeated, a monster (a South Asian Hitler) slain and the island reunified after decades?

Not every reunification is peaceful. In most cases the unification or reunification of the national territory and state required civil wars, as we know from Italy’s Risorgimento and the history of Europe, not to mention the military campaigns of Sun Yat Sen and the Kuomintang which reunified China.

Which collective political formation/entity, be it state, nation, community, or peoples, would not celebrate a mere half a decade later, the reunification of its territory; the return and repair of its borders so that its sovereign territory is coextensive with its natural boundaries?

Those who argue that civil wars are not commemorated are ignorant of the historical fact that when there is a liberating aspect to a civil war and when a civil war has ended in victory, it almost always is commemorated. Every revolution including the French and Russian is celebrated and every victorious revolution was preceded or followed by civil war. The defeat of the Tigers was felt to be an emancipation; an authentic liberation from decades-old terror.

As Regis Debray, philosopher Louis Althusser’s student, Fidel Castro’s acolyte, Che Guevara’s comrade, Francois Mitterrand’s advisor and one of Europe’s most renowned thinkers says:

“‘In the beginning was War’. The demand for security (of people, property, and ideas) constitutes political ‘need’, for the state of war is the horizon of the social and societies can never see beyond it except in terms of juridical mirages of humanitarian pacifism…War is a universal and recurrent fact of history of societies because…it is inherent in the existence of social groups and actually conditions their constitution and dissolution…Everyone knows that war is waged so that we can have peace, but that we cannot have peace without making war.” (Regis Debray: ‘Critique of Political Reason’ 1981: 276)

I am glad we won the war. I am proud of it. If as Nietzsche says, there is a pattern of eternal recurrence in existence, I would gladly do it all over again. If the only choices available were the victory of the Tigers, or a return to negotiations with them or the outcome that we had with all the horrors that are coming to light, I would support that final offensive all over again.

The LTTE was a racist and fascistic force which had dismembered sleeping women and children and child monks, exploded bombs against wholly civilian targets in the South and serially murdered many leaders of the Sinhalese and Tamils. It is hardly surprising that in the last stage of the war, the motivating spirit of the Sri Lankan soldiers, some of whom would have come from villages which experienced atrocities, would have been a blood lust to exterminate the leadership and hard core of such an enemy which had engaged in a decades-long orgy of unbridled Nazi-like exterminism against the Sinhalese nation. When one fights radical evil, one is tempted to eliminate any chance of its revival. It is “human, all too human” to borrow Nietzsche’s phrase. It happens to the most rational and literate of us: who after all, has not heard of the Jacobin Terror after the French revolution and the elimination of the Tzar’s family— which Regi Siriwardhana termed the Original Sin of the Bolshevik Revolution?

MahindaIt is a testament to the humanity of our armed forces that specialised units lost men and limbs in penetrating the bunker-bund complexes, engaging in bitter trench warfare, to rescue two hundred thousand Tamil civilians who were with the Tigers. It is evidence of their humanity that 11,000 Tiger fighters were taken into captivity unharmed.

As Nietzsche cautioned, when one looks for too long into the abyss, the abyss looks into you. We, my generation, had to look into the abyss for three decades (four if you date it from the April ’71 insurrection) and the abyss has looked into us. We are the products of that two-way gaze. Someday, we as a society, Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, shall settle accounts with our traumatic, terror filled past. We shall decide when that is. That choice and timing will not be imposed upon us by Western governments driven, among other things by the same elements of the Tamil Diaspora who supported the Tigers and materially contributed to the carnage they inflicted.

To open an inquiry prematurely would cause a psychological eruption among three hundred thousand armed men, veterans of a bitter and victorious war. Who are we to judge them? That is the task of another generation or other generations. Certainly Western states and societies have no right to judge them, or us, who experienced these harsh and bloody decades. This is why I remain as unalterably opposed to an international inquiry into the war as I did in 2009 and before. We shall not permit it; we must and shall resist.

It is ludicrous of soi disant liberals and radicals to advocate or excuse an intrusive, lacerating external inquiry into the war while at the same time lamenting the closure, as I do, of the Sri Lankan state, society and mentality. These academics, commentators and critics lament the consequence while supporting the cause! As Regis Debray points out: “the besieger creates the ramparts…There would be no circumscription if there were no encirclement.” (Debray 1981: 276)

Thus only among those who oppose the external siege are consistent opponents of closure, paranoia and the siege mentality, to be found.

To leave the last philosophical word to Regis Debray: “The political world is a world in which there are always two of us; the enemy and me…War itself is a principle of delineation. There can be no really open society, no society whose essence or identity (or both) is not to some extent threatened by a neighbouring or more distant society. Enclosure is the basic category of the political world, since the opposition between inside and outside establishes both its identity and its necessity.”(Debray, 1981: 277)

Let no one repeat the mistake of underestimating the resolve of a people-nation which did not surrender to decades of terrorism but decided instead to fight and win.

II.  “ Crash Landing”/ “Cryin’ Blue Rain” ( Jimi Hendrix)

Five years after a Thirty Years war we are in a time of transition to a termination. It can go either way: tenuous equilibrium and a modus vivendi or a bloody tragedy as finale.

The foreseeable future of Sri Lanka will depend on the Mahinda-Modi equation.

Scenario I: Soft Landing/ ‘Back on the Block’

The Sinhala/Southern Establishment seizes the opening provided by an incoming Modi administration with a shared or compatible ideological morphology, comprehends that a strategic rapprochement with Delhi represents the last chance of stopping an externally driven or backed separation of the North and East, and pays the minimum price for such a rapprochement in the form of the full implementation of the 13th amendment within a compressed time frame. Colombo is back under the umbrella of a Delhi-Beijing condominium (as May 2009 in Geneva), instead of being a target of a Washington-London-Delhi axis. Intrusive accountability is warded off in March 2015, the crisis is managed, the conflict pre-empted. Sri Lanka is out of the bunker and back in the world.

Scenario 2: Big Bang/‘Sons of Anarchy’

The non-implementation of 13A within a limited time horizon and the continuing institutional siege of the Northern Provincial Council leave a political vacuum in which non-violent agitation by civil society led by the youth cause a confrontation with and a crackdown by the state. Delhi supports a hard-line resolution in the UNHRC, Geneva in March 2015, which commences the countdown. Tamil Nadu attempts to get back in the main political game through a surge of agitation. Chennai unrest tempts Mr Modi into playing Indira Gandhi, who was dubbed the Empress of India after she created Bangladesh. Sri Lanka is truncated by external power projection with sufficient back-up from world opinion. The boundaries of the Sri Lankan state are no longer co-extensive with the natural boundaries of the island, and may never be again. Anti-minority pogroms in the South cause external military intervention and the installation of a puppet Sinhala administration (Ranil-CBK-Mangala, with SF as nationalist fig-leaf). A permanent civil war rages in the south between the anarcho-nihilistic Sinhala insurgency and the puppet administration. Eventually the Sinhala-Buddhist Taliban prevails. After a Kosovo-like period as a protectorate, Sri Lanka’s Tamil North and part of its East go independent.

III.  “Look Back in Anger” (John Osborne)

The Greek educated St. Paul released the Jesus movement and message from its confines as a radical faction within Judaism and turned into a universal doctrine, faith and community. For Christianity to flourish it had to be liberated from the specific destiny of the Jewish race. The author/s of the Mahavamsa inverted the role of St Paul: he/they took the universal doctrine of the Buddha and identified it with the destiny of an ethno-linguistic group on one small island. St Paul turned Christianity into a transcendent and overarching doctrine and project. The Mahawamsa de-universalized and diminished Buddhism, Sinhalising it and marooning it on the island, while elsewhere it was being enriched and enlarged by transmission through the great ancient metropolitan civilizations of Asia: India, China and Japan. The de-universalised and ethnicized Buddhism of the Mahawamsa was revived in the 20th century as an ideology by Anagarika Dharmapala, and his ideological progeny.

Those who wish to see the speedy implementation of the LLRC report must ask the question as to what is blocking it: ‘what is the main impediment?’ To my mind, that obstacle, which is far older than the Rajapaksa administration, is the ghost of an earlier Commission and its report which had been perhaps the single most influential in the history of independent Sri Lanka.

The elements and later the forces pushing for that Commission were those whose ideological father figure was Anagarika Dharmapala. His project was defeated in a crossfire: on one flank was the integrationist liberal-conservatism of the Ceylon National Congress and its breakaway successor the United National Party of the strategically sagacious DS Senanayake (supported by DR Wijewardena and his powerful Lake House press) and on the other flank, the anti-imperialist Left.

At the General Election of 1947 which was the antechamber of Independence, the UNP and the Left emerged as two powerful contending blocs, with independent progressives and moderates coming third. Of enormous significance was that at this high point of anti-colonial consciousness, there was no representation of the Sinhala-Buddhist hegemonic project for which there was no political space in the country. In less than a decade that would change dramatically.

The 60th anniversary of the commencement of the ideologico-institutional process which produced the Report of that Commission falls this year. It is the Report of the Buddhist Commission convened by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress under the leadership of Prof Gunapala Malalasekara and LH Mettananda in 1954, which launched its final product early in that most decisive of years, 1956.

This report preceded the victory of SWRD Bandaranaike. Though it was ostensibly about Buddhist “grievances”, it was not animated by the Buddhist spirit of tolerance and universality. It was a strident and truculent Report, much more about the Sinhala-Buddhist project of hegemony over the state, the educational system and the shape of post-colonial Ceylon than about the upliftment of Buddhism. It was the birth or re-birth in independent Ceylon, of Ethno-political Buddhism.

The report called for the adoption of ‘Sinhala Only’ i.e. of Sinhala as the sole Official language (a slogan unrelated to the Buddha Dhamma), advocated the takeover of private schools and many more policies which shaped Sri Lanka in the decades that followed, changing the ethos of independent Ceylon, creating the crucible that scorched and cracked open Ceylonese society along ethno-lingual and ethno-religious lines, alienated the ethnic and religious minorities, dismantled the English-educated high quality human resource base that put the country ahead of much of Asia, constricted the prospects for sustainable economic growth and employment creation, set off a flood of emigration, levelled down standards in the name of affirmative action, and cumulatively created the slaughterhouse that consumed hundreds of thousands of Sinhala and Tamil youth in civil wars, North and South.

Prime Minister DS Senanayake who knew that electoral democracy guaranteed the Sinhalese a built-in leadership role which should not be jeopardised by religious or linguistic sectarianism, refused to be persuaded to set up a Buddhist Commission of Inquiry.

With the death of DS Senanayake the project of familial succession within the UNP drove SWRD Bandaranaike into forming his own party.

The parallel error on the Left was the failure of the LSSP-CP to unite under its leadership and on a broad national-democratic electoral platform, all the forces, Sinhala and Tamil, South and North, that had participated in and supported the Hartal of August 1953.

These vast strategic mistakes by the Right and Left enabled the Sinhala Buddhist hegemonic project to make a comeback. By 1954, the neo-Dharmapalist project successfully re-emerged and gained strength with its adoption in 1955 by SWRD Bandaranaike (who at an earlier election in 1952, stood for Sinhala and Tamil as official languages).

Similarly the policies of appeasement of the LTTE of the Ranil-Chandrika years saw a powerful Sinhala Buddhist backlash, with the Soma Thero phenomenon, the JHU rise, attacks on Christian churches, the grenade attack on the Shah Rukh Khan show, the anti-conversion bill, and the Weerawansa-ist JVP surging in strength. Chandrika coquetted with and accommodated some of these forces to wrest back power in 2004, while Mahinda Rajapaksa did an SWRD ’56 in positioning himself in 2005 to surf this wave. Today, five years after the Thirty Years War and sixty years after the Buddhist Commission commenced sittings, the Rajapaksa regime is riding on its ideology and strategic program while it is also their vulnerable hostage.

The sectarian Sinhala Buddhist nationalists of the post-independence generation took over a country and systems that constituted a shining jewel in Asia— indeed in the decolonized world—and distorted and wrecked it with their social resentments, reducing it to the shape and size of their own limitations and primitive parochial prejudices. They handed down to us a toxic smouldering wreck, which significant swathes of world opinion that once applauded this country as a model of democracy and social welfare, now abhor.  That post-independence generation of majoritarian nationalists is morally responsible for the decades-long funeral pyre that consumed a cluster of subsequent generations: my own (Kethesh Loganathan, Rajini Tiranagama, K Pathmanabha) and that just before (Vijaya Kumaratunga, Neelan Tiruchelvam) and after it (Daya Pathirana, KL Dharmasiri); the generations of our elder and younger brothers and sisters.

The least guilty and only heroic ones among that post-independence generation are the brave and brilliant handful, the products of Jennings-Ludowyk tutelage, who were to make their mark in the world, putting Ceylon/Sri Lanka on the map in many fields.  In his Foreword to his slender anthology of poetry ‘Time’s Confluence and other poems’, Godfrey Gunatilleke, an iconic member of that generation defines it slightly ruefully as the “small English educated class, a large part of whose emotional and intellectual life had been shaped by the culture in which that language had grown and developed”. He later refers to it as “the Sri Lankan English-educated community”. Though they were the ‘golden generation’ which maintained universal standards and competed internationally, the very title of the University of Ceylon magazine of the early 1950s— “Krisis”— demonstrates that they were acutely possessed of a critical sensibility and a sense of crisis, eschewing a detached smugness that their talents, performance and socio-professional prospects warranted. They remained honourably dissentient down the decades while unambiguously committed to Sri Lanka, its national interest and its people.

And yet, this brilliant humanist and cosmopolitan intellectual elite lost the ‘culture wars’— unlike their counterparts in India and Singapore. Perhaps their defeat was inevitable given our social matrix or perhaps the defeat was precisely because they, unlike their Indian, Egyptian, Syrian and Singaporean counterparts, never fought back in the Culture Wars, in the cause of modernity—which would have required the elaboration of a popular modernity while preserving elite modernity.

The aim of the Buddhist Commission and those who drove it was to ‘re-found’ Sri Lanka, unravelling the negotiated compact contained in the Soulbury Commission. The real target of the Buddhist Commission was the Soulbury Commission, itself the product of the interface of the post WW II British progressive ethos of a labour Government and the Ceylonese elite led by DS Senanayaka. It was the Buddhist Commission report that hollowed the foundations of the Soulbury Commission’s product, the Constitution.

The two reports, the LLRC and the Buddhist Commission are utterly incompatible with each other. The logic of the LLRC Report is one of integration on the basis of the elimination of discrimination, while the logic of the Buddhist Commission report of 1954 is one of domination based on discrimination.  It is the shadow of that earlier report and its vision of and for the country that has dwarfed the LLRC Report and invisibly blocks its implementation. It is the ideology and project that issued from the Buddhist Commission Report and the persistence of that ideology— the refusal or inability to break from or transcend it— that has blocked the country’s post-war transition to a sustainable peace.

The post-Independence Sinhala Buddhist petty bourgeoisie which grew into the patriarchal Sinhala establishment with its rigid, ossified ideology of authoritarian hierarchy, inherited a flourishing oasis of a country and turned it into a wasteland. In the most bitter of ironies, it has created a Tamil Diaspora which is integrated into and influential in the First World, while the Sinhalese have been rendered incapable of contention by half a century of cultural, linguistic and religious in-breeding.

Despite the bold step taken by Mahinda Rajapaksa to hold the election to the NPC, it is the dominant ethos of counterreformation and the doctrine of ‘de-stabilize and roll back’, originating at least sixty years ago in that ‘re-founding moment’ of 1954-1956, that has frozen the Northern Provincial Council and stalled the LLRC reforms. The contemporary project of the National Security State is but the militarized, militaristic son of that earlier agenda.

IV. Re-designing the State and Sri Lankan Nationhood

The Sinhalese handled victory badly. The Tamils handled defeat badly. The Sinhalese did not grasp the limits of victory in war nor the Tamils the fact of defeat in war. The Sinhalese followed up victory not with sagacity but with an attempt at over-lordship. They did not and do not realise that the full reintegration of Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese in the world community/system is contingent upon the integration of the Tamils as fully equal citizens of Sri Lanka.

The Tamils took defeat and the earlier diminution of their numbers on the island through migration, not in the spirit of self-criticism and realism but with a global tantrum of revanchisme masquerading as a cry for accountability and justice. That campaign has made significant headway precisely because of the project of Sinhala Buddhist over-lordship in place of reconciliation and a viable new political compact.

The Tamil nationalists seem to want to replicate the separate and independent existence they had during the years of the war and LTTE control. They don’t want the Tigers back but they retain and nurture the spirit of prideful separation from the rest of Sri Lanka. As for the Tamil Diaspora, not having been on the terrain that was wrested from Tiger control by the Sri Lankan armed forces, they wish to maintain the same state of mind that they did during the reign of the Tigers and are unable to cope with losing that status. The sublimation of the sense of defeat is through the drive for a punishment of the Sri Lankan state through a war crimes probe, combined with a mythical genocide narrative. “Our boys, the Tigers— we —could have won fair and square if not for the world having ganged up against them/us and helped perpetrate a holocaust. We in the Diaspora are guilty for having let it happen so we are locked in an endless blood feud with the Sri Lankan state, while you, the rest of the world must make reparations for your crime of letting the Sinhalese win, by punishing them.” That seems to me the narrative running through the Tamil collective unconscious.

Ironically Sri Lanka’s is a tale of two Zionisms. The continuing crisis is the clash of contending Zionisms: Sinhala and Tamil. Both communities of (self) ‘chosen people’ look in the mirror and see Israel.

The Sinhalese, who won the war, are losing the peace and the Cold War because of the absence of a vision of peace that takes into account the best interests of the state and its citizens rather than the narrower, exclusivist interests of the ethno-religious majority. Such a vision was not forthcoming because of the character of the Sinhala political elite as well as the Sinhala political class itself.

The intense and deep rooted ethno nationalism of the Sinhala political elite made it possible to tap the energies that enabled military victory. That political elite could not make the transition from a strategic Sinhala nationalism to a strategic Sri Lankan nationalism— a transition which would have been similar either to that achieved by Nehru and Mandela (drawn from the majority) or that from the ethno-tribal to an inclusive nationalism which a victorious Paul Kagame (belonging to a minority) was able to inculcate in the RPF.

Is there another —third—perspective which could accommodate the principles of democracy, non-discrimination and non-domination, reconciling realism with fair play in a new, post-war Social Contract? Perhaps the inspiration could come from common corporate practices, those of shareholding and partnerships, or Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff’s concept of ‘multi-stakeholderism’.

The Sri Lankan state and society must be re-envisioned, not as Sinhala Buddhist or Sinhala Buddhist dominated, but as a multi-stakeholder partnership between all of the island’s constituent communities. The Sinhala nationalist notion of monopoly of power and decision making must be eschewed in favour of the recognition that there are stakeholders and they are multiple, with the Sinhala Buddhist being one such. These multiple stakeholders are placed on the same plane and an equal footing, but it does not mean that each has equally-sized stake in state power.

A majority shareholder and a minority shareholder are neither equals nor in a hierarchical relationship of domination and subordination. A minority shareholder cannot expect to be equal to the majority shareholder in terms of decision making, but the fact that there are minority shareholders does not place them on a lower plane. The majority and minority shareholders are treated with equal respect but have unequal decision-making weight around a common, shared table.  Inequality in a horizontal relationship does not mean the relationship is a vertical one.

Partnerships are often unequal but that does not mean a partnership is between a super-ordinate and a subordinate.

In the first place inequality is not at the level of the individual: neither the majority shareholder/partner nor the minority shareholder/junior partners are superior or inferior as citizens, still less human beings. Sinhalese and Tamils must have equal rights and equal treatment as individual citizens.

In the second place, even in a collective sense i.e. as communities, political inequality does not necessarily mean and must therefore not be taken to mean political or social domination and subordination.

The nationalist Sinhalese, especially the Sinhala Buddhists, seem to believe that their superiority in numbers entitles them not merely to a larger share in decision making around the table but to a two tiered structure in which the Tamils either hold inferior shares or none at all.

The Tamils feel that mere admission of the reality of minority shareholding will doom them to an inferior status. Therefore, irrespective of the vast asymmetry of numbers they should wield an equal share of power and decision-making as the majority shareholders.

The Tamils are willing to be partners only on the basis of complete equality while the Sinhalese Buddhists believe themselves to be entitled due to their arithmetical superiority to a superiority of status which Tamils, Muslims and Christians must reconcile and subordinate themselves to.

Both the Sinhalese and Tamils conflate majority with superiority and minority with inferiority. Both confuse the horizontal and the vertical, the social with the political. Neither has a democratic notion of partnership. A co-pilot is not the absolute equal of the pilot in his role and function, but is in no way dominated or discriminated against by virtue of the role and status. A minority shareholder is not by any definition marginalised by that status; nor must she be made to feel so or feel herself to be so. Similarly, the struggle against marginality and marginalization cannot be a project to equalise the unequal; to regard a minority as a majority, or a majority as a minority. The South African whites cannot as a community regard themselves as the political equal of South African blacks (the post-apartheid South African Constitution-makers rejected federalism), while they are certainly equal citizens of the new South Africa. As in the case of the US Civil Rights movement, the fight against discrimination and marginality is a fight for integration as equal citizens— not ‘back to Africa’ or ‘self determination for the Black Belt’ (the contiguous states in the US with a black majority).

Imagine the Sri Lankan state as a circle. That circle has a centre. The Sinhalese Buddhists, by virtue of being the arithmetical majority, must not be placed closer to the centre of the circle than the Tamils, Muslims or Christians, simply because they are minorities. The problem has been that the Sinhalese nationalists conceive of the state not as a single circle with a single centre, but as a series of concentric circles in which they are closer the centre than the ethnic and religious minorities. It must also be recognised that though there must be equidistance between the centre of state power and policy making and all the communities of Sri Lanka, i.e. while the radius remains constant, the size of the slice or share of seats that each community occupies will be proportional to their democratic electoral representation and ultimately their demographic weight. Thus equidistance from power/to power there must be, but equidistance does not mean equal shares of power, just as an unequal share of power does not mean difference in distance from the System’s centre.

Historical realism indicates that after a Thirty Years War which culminated in a dramatic and decisive victory, the Sri Lankan military has also to be recognised as a legitimate stakeholder in the state and the decision-making process. The danger which must be resisted and rolled-back, is the granting of a golden share to the military, thereby encroaching on and shrinking the sphere of sovereignty of the democratically elected civilian leadership.

Verticality does come in, but not between the communities. Verticality is pertinent as a power relationship between the centre and the periphery. While the periphery must have irreducible autonomous political space, the autonomous periphery cannot be placed on the same level of equality as the centre. There are two reasons for this.

Firstly the centre represents the whole while the periphery represents the part, and the latter must not be placed on the same plane as the former. This is especially so when there is an executive president elected directly by the citizens of the country as a whole, which gives the office a more inclusive and representative mandate, a much broader degree of popular consent of the citizenry and therefore a higher degree of legitimacy than an elected regional or provincial assembly.

Secondly the centre is the seat, the engine and the guarantee of the centripetal, which must take precedence over the centrifugal.  The geopolitical realities are that the Scottish, the Quebecois and the Catalans do not have vast numbers of co-ethnics next door (unlike the Tamils of Sri Lanka’s North and East) while English and Spanish are spoken not only by ethnic natives in their mother countries (as is Sinhala)!  Furthermore the Sinhalese cannot afford to abolish the strong executive presidency, convert to de jure or de facto federal arrangements, recognise ‘internal self determination’, permit referenda on separation and live in a permanent state of collective angst.

The New (Post-war) Social Contract must be based on the following platform or pillars: (A) zero tolerance not merely of terrorism but also secessionism (B) the complete elimination of discrimination by the legal and constitutional implementation of the UN Durban Declaration and Programme of Action against Racism, Racial Intolerance, Xenophobia and Related Forms of Intolerance (C) a horizontal relationship between the constituent communities of Sri Lanka; one of democratic multi-stakeholder partnership (D) an irreducible measure of provincial autonomy.

In terms of the classification of political ideas, the New Deal I propose may be said to contain a “communitarian-consociationalist” synthesis, within a Realist and democratic framework.

V.  Midway between Mandela and Mugabe?

Mahinda Rajapaksa is decidedly no Nelson Mandela and may arguably be located on a midpoint between Mandela and Mugabe, but in his eyes and those of the vast Sinhala majority, they are far more the equivalent of the ANC than are the TNA. To the majority of the Sinhala electorate (if they knew the lexicon and the coordinates), the LTTE and its one time fellow traveller the TNA would seem a cross between the Inkatha Freedom party and the displaced White minority, while Ranil Wickremesinghe’s UNP is akin to the Democratic Party and the JVP to Julius Mwalema’s Economic Freedom Fighters. Though all these are caricatures, some are closer the reality than others, with the furthest from reality being the idea that the minoritarian-separatist LTTE and the minoritarian-federalist, ‘internal self-determinationist’ TNA are moral or political equivalents of the ANC which fought precisely for democratic majority rule; for the self-determination and sovereignty of the larger whole not the part.

I have long been a fan of Cyril Ramaphosa and have been awaiting his political comeback for years. I am also aware that he is a member of the board of the International Crisis Group (ICG) which has not been entirely even-handed on Sri Lanka, if I may put it mildly. When Cyril Ramaphosa turns up in Colombo it would be most apposite were he to cut the Gordian knot by securing the agreement of the Government and the TNA to effectively and verifiably implement within a compressed time frame, Point (C) listed above: the UN Durban Declaration, to which Sri Lanka has long been a signatory.

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Latest comments

  • 14

    Making logic out of the illogical Sinhalese nationalistic sense! DJ compares the reunification of the East and West Germany to the Tamils that are forced to live with the oppressive Sinhalese domination. What a logic! The Tamil people can’t even mourn their dead, and that’s the condition they are in. Sinhalese can celebrate all they want, but the International Community is waking up to the fact, and the oppression can’t last too long. Until people get their rights and feel equals the fight will go on. The oppressed will be freed.

    • 11

      When Berlin wall came down, how many innocents were killed?

      DJ, I know you need (medical) help, but now I feel that maybe too late.

      Now I can imagine what you may have promised to IC in 2009 to get votes, and now MaRa is unable to keep your promises.


      • 4

        DJ is the reincarnation of Mahanama thero.

        • 4

          He is hypocrite. He himself is christ.
          This chaemliean nature is no secret to people. But so long Rajapakshe controls local media, people will have no access to get to the facts and figures of the Raja regime.

      • 1

        He actually need some moral and spiritual help to get the compass back

      • 3


        This is what Modi said earlier:

        “Modi himself had said that with Tamils living all over the world, including in Malayasia, Sri Lanka and Fiji, it should be a priority of the Indian government to take care of their well being and he promised to do so if a BJP-led Government assumed power after the elections. (Colombo Gazette)


        This is what Rahul said in 2009:

        He also said Tamils have a special and large place in the hearts of his family members and it is important to protect “our brothers” in Sri Lanka.

        “Tamils living all over the world – in the US, Europe and Sri Lanka – have a special place in our hearts.”

        Hindustan Times
        Tiruchirapalli (Tamil Nadu), May 08, 2009

        Aratai man always think

        make up your mind after reading this quote below:

        “Vote for the man who promises least; he’ll be the least disappointing.” – Bernard Baruch

    • 0

      Five Years After May 2009: Blues For Sri Lanka

      Sixty Seven Years After August 1947 Blues For Jammu and Kashmir

    • 0

      Will Germany or any other western country allow to hold a memorial for Hitler… then .. no way for demon Prabakharan and his fellow devils

    • 0

      Dr. Dayan Jayatillaka,,

      RE: This Race-War after 5 years.

      This is the Para-War between the Para-Sinhala and Para-Tamils. They both are South Indians.

      Let’s call a spade a spade. That is good. Let’s call a Para-a Para.

      1. Dr. Jayatillaka Yes, Let’s call a spade a spade.

      2. This was a race war, between the so-called Para-Sinhala and Para-Tamils. The Para-Sinhala believe because they came AFTER the Native Veddha only they have a right to be in the Land of Native Vedda, Lanka, as per the Lies and Imaginations of para-monk Mahanama as written in the Mahawansa.

      3. The Para-Tamils believe, they were there even before the lies of Para-Monk Mahanama, in the Land of Native Vedda, and they were Hindus like Ravana and his bandits.

      4. Biologically, analyzing the DNA of Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils and the people of South India, there is very little difference between them, ans the so-called Para-racist was is really a Para-language war.

      5. The Para-Sinhala have their roots in Tamils and the Para-Tamils are mixed up with Para-Sinhala. The Westerners and many others cannot tell a Para-Tamil from a Para-Sinhala and from a South Indian.

      So, the Native Veddha, requests the Paras to leave for their Native land, South India.

      Please, go! Yanna!, Poittu!, Goodbye!

      ගිහිල්ලා (gihillā ) –

      Say මම යනවා (mama yanawā) = ‘I’m going’ හා (hā)

      போயிட்டு (poittu )

  • 12

    This is yet another essay from Dayan that is detached from reality. No matter how many soldiers you march past the president on “Victory Day”, it’s not going to change the outcome of the international investigation at the UNHRC. The US has essentially served the GOSL a notice of eviction from the NE. The outcome is now inevitable; the GOSL will be evicted; and everybody knows this (except Dayan apparently).
    At this point, the Tamil people could not care less whether you celebrate victory day or not. As can be seen from Janani Jananayagam’s recent essay on CT, they are more focused on the economic/cultural and societal needs of the people of the NE. They have incredible challenges in front of them: How to lift people out of poverty; How to build world class roads, ports, airports and other infrastructure in a brand new state; How to create a financial and regulatory system and system of governance from scratch. Frankly, the Tamil people have bigger fish to fry than the GOSL and its childish ideas of “Victory”.

  • 12

    You have destroyed the LTTE’s iron curtain but we need to destroy the iron curtain of Sinhala racism and cruelty of a carnivorous race that enjoys the blood of Tamils.

    • 1

      and the sinhala race that supplied food, medicine and every other thing send to us when we bomb almost everywhere in the island. Without the sinhala race, our tamils would have gone missing becoming child soldiers.

  • 4

    The caption should have read “Something to spoil your weekend”. LOL

  • 6

    DJ says…
    “It is hardly surprising that in the last stage of the war, the motivating spirit of the Sri Lankan soldiers, some of whom would have come from villages which experienced atrocities, would have been a blood lust to exterminate the leadership and hard core of such an enemy which had engaged in a decades-long orgy of unbridled Nazi-like exterminism against the Sinhalese nation.”

    Does DJ accept the fact that there are two nations within Sri Lanka.. namely “Sinhalese nation” and “Tamil Nation”?

    Because he says “Sinhalese nation??

  • 6

    It is not a matter of acting within compressed time. It is a matter of changing course. But how can that happen? You have been driving on reverse gear for five full years. How can you suddenly change to forward gear? If you try that, only the gear box will crash. So, you will have to first STOP the reverse motion. But, there is no sign of stopping as yet!

    So, a collapse is inevitable. Whether it will happen by implosion or external intervention, is to be seen.

    Sengodan. M

  • 11

    The comment of Pandit DJ “The LTTE was a racist and fascistic force which had dismembered sleeping women and children and child monks, exploded bombs against wholly civilian targets in the South and serially murdered many leaders of the Sinhalese and Tamils”.

    What did the armed forces do during the war? Bombing hospitals, civilian’s no fire zone, schools etc., how is it different from LTTE actions? LTTE a terrorist organization and did all the atrocities mentioned by Pandit DJ, how can a legitimate government do the same to its own people who were victims?

    Pandit DJ’s comment “It is hardly surprising that in the last stage of the war, the motivating spirit of the Sri Lankan soldiers, some of whom would have come from villages which experienced atrocities, would have been a blood lust to exterminate the leadership and hard core of such an enemy which had engaged in a decades-long orgy of unbridled Nazi-like exterminism against the Sinhalese nation”.

    Well Pandit if you look back the LTTE actions started after the successive governments did not give equal rights to the minorities and it became worst only after the 1983 riots where the Sinhalese killed the Tamils, so if the Pandit argues that the soldiers were ok in committing atrocities, does he mean if the Tamils tomorrow start killing the Sinhalese for 1983 riots, it would be OK. What a stupid argument is this, especially from a so called EDUCATED DIPLOMAT.

    DJ’s comment “Delhi supports a hard-line resolution in the UNHRC”…..

    I suppose he is commenting on Modi’s Delhi. Modi is a Nationalist and he is a person who will take very stern actions to make sure that the lost face of India is restored back as a leader in the South Asian region. He is not going to allow Sri Lanka to bully India by running behind China and Pakistan. Unlike Manmohan Singh, Modi is not going to sit back and suck his thumb, he is going to be head on with Sri Lanka. Modi does not need the support of Jayalalitha to rule the country. The real reason for Jayalalitha getting so many seats is her support to the Sri Lankan Tamil’s issue. So, more than ever, Jayalalitha who will not be part of the Modi’s official government, can create more trouble for Modi internally than being part of the cabinet member. Further the strong relationship between Modi and Jayalalitha will be a strong force to be reckoned with. Jayalalitha having won so many seats on Sri Lankan Tamil’s issue as it was one of her platform issues can now make a bigger noise as she need not follow the Modi cabinet mood.

    DJ’s comment “The Sinhalese handled victory badly. The Tamils handled defeat badly”.

    How can he say Tamils handled the defeat badly. The only group that had to be at peace are the Tamils in Sri Lanka and not the Diaspora. If the Tamils in Sri Lanka come out in the open and say we are satisfied with the Governement of Sri Lanka, no Diaspora can do anything. But unfortunately this is not the case. Tamils in Sri Lanka showed their good faith and expected the Government to give them equal status which is available under the constitution and the Government did not provide it. They actively took part in the Provincial Council voting expecting a positive result from the Govt, unlike Rajapakse getting Prabaharan to ask Tamils not to vote at the Presidential election. How dare the Pandit DJ says that Tamils handled the defeat badly. In fact most of the Tamils on the ground were happy that LTTE was destroyed.

    How dare DJ says “Rajapaksa is decidedly no Nelson Mandela and may arguably be located on a midpoint between Mandela and Mugabe”.

    Let us see who is Mandela, he forgave his attackers and presented a platform for the oppressors and the oppressed to face each other and accept the actions and forgiveness under the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What did Rajapakse do? He made sure that this did not happen, but used every opportunity to treat the oppressed as the cause of Terrorism in the country and continues to call “”wolf… wolf… LTTE.. LTTE”.. Even the weak LLRC Commissions report has not been implemented.

    Mid point is where either sides of the mid point are equal, but in the case of Rajapakse he is not in the mid point, not even on the extreme negative side , he is off the scale on the negative side. Rajapakse has not done anything to bring the oppressors and oppressed to resolve the issues, the result is the UN Human Rights Council resolution.

    Now coming to Mugabe, one of the bad things Mugabe did was forcible dispossession of White farmers by means of a rag-tag terrorist-like group, who used violence to literally throw people off their land.

    Well Rajapakse is taking over the ancestral lands of the Tamils for Military use. Is a hotel a military necessity?

    Conclusion Rajapakse is more a Mugabe and not even a bit of Mandela.

    Pandit DJ, its time for you to rest your pen and stop trying to be a smart person. More you write you prove that you are an idiot and not an educated diplomat!

    • 6

      Yes, Mahinda is more a Mugabe than a Mandella!

      Sengodan. M

      • 4

        More? Come on Sengodan.
        Look at the picture of this dumb nitwit. He is worse than Mugabe.
        Please don’t compare Late hero Mandela with this mantle guys.

        • 0

          why the folks stay dead silent ?

          Why the stupid folks repeatedly voted for him and his schnanigans ?

          why senior professionals stay mum ?

          Why Victor Ivan´s demeanour is made silent as no times in the history ?

          Why Malwathu chapter and other other regligious stay blind folded ?

          Why ?

  • 6

    “The LTTE was a racist and fascistic force…………………….”
    “…………………..veterans of a bitter and victorious war. Who are we to judge them.”

    The vital difference is that one was a group of armed civilians fighting for existence and the other was a supposedly disciplined army …. Sri Lankan soldiers……………………… ‘carrying a gun in one hand and the Geneva Convention in the other’ according to the head of state.
    The latter group, even five years after the war ended, carries on the repression and atrocities.

    Therefore the international probe is very necessary.

    Dayan or the MR regime certainly cannot judge them.
    This should be done by the UN.

  • 1

    Good post.

  • 0

    Problem with Dayan is his penchant to always please the foreigners.

    Isn’t Ranil more important than Ramoposa ?..

    How come the Opposition doesn’t get a mention in a any of these reconciliation hogwash?.

    Isn’t the Opposition UNP strategy to wait until the Foreigners do the their ” Investigation” and hope that the Rajapaksas can be forced out or shipped to the Hague?

    It will be worthwhile for Dr Dayan to read that bit from the Vellala CM’s interview in Ceylon Today about the “Opposition” and the LTTE proxy TNA leader Sambandan’s wish list which has been submitted to the Srilankan President.

  • 0

    Have you noticed that DJ is getting less TV time from Sirasa since S.M Marikkar was elected through the UNP ticket in Colombo by Ranil?
    Ranil is getting more TV time on Sirasa these days. Is Sirasa dumping Dayan since Ranil made up with Sirasa?

    Is Dayan’s pro-ultra Sinhala stance being dumped by Sirasa? Was Dayan just a tool that Sirasa used to sling mud at Ranil when Sirasa was against Ranil? Now that Sirasa made up with Ranil, is Dayan dumped?

  • 3


    While selectively saying the LTTE was ‘racist and ‘fascist,’ which has an element of truth, you try to suppress the deeper truth: that the LTTE’s rise was facilitated by state racism and terrorism.
    It is that very state that seeks to celebrate ‘victory.’ So your analogies to Germany and other countries are invalid.

    Secondly, your writing no longer maintains even the pretense of making any distinction between Tamils as a society and the LTTE.

    So I say, go ahead and celebrate; it will show the world that beneath all your progressive sounding rhetoric, you are just another chauvinist.

  • 1

    – Everyone knows that war is waged so that we can have peace, but that we cannot have peace without making war.

    – The demand for security (of people, property, and ideas) constitutes political ‘need’, for the state of war.

    DJ, You have used the quote to embellish your thoughts; but, you refuse to permit the same rationale for Tamils to have their peace.

  • 0

    This continued focus on the past to drive the future is fatal. What is required is fresh thinking and a new approach. Nothing good can happen with these senile war mongers and racist at the helm. It is upto the youth of the country to turn a new page of unity and reconcilliation. Learn from what happened in India where the corrupt dynasty was discarded.

    “The rise of the young is dramatic. Around half of India’s 1.2 billion people are under 26, with no memories from before the first liberalising reforms of 1991 but aware that development still lags. These “born frees” are the vanguard of a huge number who will come of age in the next two decades. Over 100m voters have been added to the electorate since 2009. Turnout is usually about 60%, but could be higher—recent state elections show people unusually eager to vote.

    Shrewder politicians are taking advantage. Swapan Dasgupta, a political analyst close to Narendra Modi, the BJP prime-ministerial candidate, describes a campaign strategy focused on the young. He thinks 40% of voters are under 35, and care most about jobs. “They ask what their future is likely to be, that is more important than their local identity,” he says.”


  • 1

    The war victory has not contributed to reconciliation and hence there is no legitimacy for celebrating it. Liberating real estate is not a good enough a reason.

    However, I find DJ’s analysis especially about the Buddhist Commission report and LLRC and the mind set of the nationalist Buddhists.

    The way we are heading right now is towards separation.

  • 1

    Dr. Dayan and Dr. Mervin have many similarities. This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Don’t you agree, D A Y A N?

    • 3

      Now Mervin is made silent by unknown forces excercised by Rajapakshes.
      That is the reason why we dont get anything related to him these days.
      But DJ is a so called – doctor – mostly, self proclaimed by him and his so called DJ fans – anyway, CT readership would NEVER hold him as number one analyst. Latter is becoming clear to everyone to this day.

  • 3

    DR.DJ now the correct time to attend civilized school to learn politics.

  • 1

    If the army says that there can be no victory celebrations in the North or even any signs of mourning/commemoration, does that not indicate that something is seriously wrong somewhere?

  • 2

    Dayan Jayatilleka – BIG LIAR

    “This is the story of the killing or disappearance of several groups of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) who surrendered to the Sri Lankan army on or about 18 May 2009 at the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war. They were told by the government if they carried a while flag they would be safe crossing the frontline. But when they surrendered it became apparent they had been lured into a trap.Several were executed in cold blood – others have never been seen since.” http://white-flags.org/

    • 1

      DR. D A Y A N, why don’t you write to the “Daily Noise”? Your articles will be well received by Raj Kattapal Abeynayake!

  • 0

    When sinhala and Tamil fascists learn to accept human rights and ensure that every human being enjoys those human rights then there will be peace and not till then. When there is freedom of speech to call piraphakaran and mahinda both assholes without getting white vanned or a bullet to the brain then we can talk of civilization. When the state favors no religion or ideology and all the flags can be burned in public – including that bloody green and white one – then we can speak of freedom. When impunity is a thing of the past and when rapists and tortures can be certain of punishment then there will be security. None of this bluff and bluster can be a substitute.

  • 2

    Just tell this idiot to shut up. Enough of lying and bullshit. As more evidence surfaces it more of looks like this idiot and the Kohona chap are the real culprits. I have never wished this but I simply hope that one day this guy’s wife is raped in front of him and her body completely mutiliated. May be then, he would start feeling what this all means instead of bullshitting with his dumb theories. I would be a far more satisfied person even if there is no international investigation.

  • 2


    “Just tell this idiot to shut up.”

    If you don’t like don’t read.

    Dayan is making fun of himself. Why stop him?

  • 1


    Why not make your free advice brief ?

    It is time to suck up to Modi.

    And don’t forget to throw in the bonus to MR – I can also help you with it.

  • 0

    Only DJ would but Mandela and Rakapakse in the same sentence … what a joker.

  • 0

    Though from India and not connected with the events of Seilanka, I am a regular reader of CT. What I understand from Dayan’s article is this: ‘We, the majority community inhabiting Srilanka have a right to commit atrocities on you who refused to be servile minorities in this island. Forget about what happened, accept 13th amendment and just be contended with your servile status, because we won the war with you and we are magnanimous enough to not slaughter you all. Failing to obey this advice would force us to perpetuate the same atrocitiesj which were committed by our goons in 2009 or even worse than 2009’.

    We have seen this before in India. This magnanimous gesture reminds me of the decisions of feudal lords or caste panchayats (in olden days in general and in some remote villages even now). Such ‘magnanimity’ Is shown when the goons from upper castes (or so called martial castes) are caught raping Dalit(lower caste) women.

    Dayan is presenting the same feudal justice in a new packing with his wonderful language, insightful examples and appealing logic. While MR or GR is brash and straight to the point behaving like slave traders during the middle/islamic age, Dayan is playing the role of a Sufi master well versed in Shariah law, presenting the same view couched in a presentable language.

    You are admitting the crimes but say that Tamils should reconcile to it and move ahead as Srilankans with perpetual minority tag forgetting the crimes and servile status.

    Dayan, just imagine what would have been your arguments if Srilanka was part of India? Had the British left Sinhalese with other Indian States, would you render the same advice to Sinhalese community? By accident British left Srilanka without partitioning it. Had they partitioned it, just like what they did with India & Pakistan, what would have been the situation now?

    While you accept the past blunders of Sinhalese, you refuse to accept the present blunders of your community. I suspect that this is due to the fact that you were part of the same machinery which committed the blunder/crimes. Or, you are also a racist who refuse to accept that someone not following the Buddhist dharma is not worthy of being treated as a human(mahavamsa logic).

  • 0

    I am a Tamil from India and regular reader of CT. What I understand from Dayan’s article is this: ‘We, the majority community inhabiting Srilanka have a right to commit atrocities on you who refused to be servile minorities in this island. Forget about what happened, accept 13th amendment and just be contended with your servile status, because we won the war with you and we are magnanimous enough to not slaughter you all. Failing to obey this advice would force us to perpetuate the same atrocities which were committed by our goons in 2009 or even worse than 2009’.

    We have seen this before in India. This magnanimous gesture reminds me of the decisions of feudal lords or caste panchayats (in olden days in general and in some remote villages even now). Such ‘magnanimity’ Is shown when the goons from upper castes (or so called martial castes) are caught raping Dalit women.

    Dayan is presenting this feudal idea in a new packing with his wonderful language, insightful examples and appealing logic. While MR or GR is brash and straight to the point behaving like slave traders during the middle/islamic age, Dayan is playing the role of a Sufi master well versed in Shariah law, presenting the same view couched in a presentable language.

    Dayan, just imagine what would have been your arguments if Srilanka was part of India? Had the British left Sinhalese with other Indian States, would you render the same advice to Sinhalese community? By accident British left Srilanka without partitioning it. Had they partitioned it, just like what they did with India & Pakistan, what would have been the situation now?

    While you accept the past blunders of Sinhalese, you refuse to accept the present blunders of your community, may be because you were part of the machinery which committed the blunder.

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