By 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?
It 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.