24 November, 2020

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Gimmicks & Lack Of Accountability: Yahapālana Hallmarks

By Chamindra Weerawardhana

Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana

Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana

The historic public library of Jaffna, with the totality of its content, was set fire upon on 1 June 1981, by an armed group directly commanded by a cabinet minister of the Jayewardene administration. It was an act of horrendous cultural and intellectual genocide. The library was home to irreplaceable manuscripts and collections, that were all burnt in that ruthless night, fuelled by the fires of Sinhala majoritarian nationalism and the petty arrogance of political egos.

Thirty five years later, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, whose only qualification to enter politics was being a nephew of President Jayewardene, and who himself is known to have been personally associated in brutally suppressing the youth revolts in the ‘Tamil’ north/east as well as in what is loosely termed the ‘Sinhalese south’, made a passing remark in parliament, in the middle of a speech he was delivering in Sinhala (his Sinhala, needless to reiterate, is of a sorry level, and the speech was also being interrupted by the opposition benches), that himself (and consequently his party – implied in the emphatic අපි) apologises for torching the Jaffna Library in 1981.

The Sri Lankan media reported this as a formal apology extended by the prime minister about the role of his party and his (then) ministerial colleagues in burning down the library. This is simply inaccurate and wrong. He was simply making a passing comment, in order to counter allegations and accusations being thrown at him by the opposition benches. It was only a petty exit strategy to claim ‘we apologise for our past deeds, including the Jaffna Library’.

Let’s be crystal-clear – this was not a formal, solemn apology. This was all but a mere political gimmick by a petty politico from the Colombo elite, so far removed from the general public and the lived experiences of ethno-national hatred that the political class he represents is historically responsible for propagating.

It is very important for the media to be more accurate in their reporting and hold politicians into account, especially those who share substantive guilt on highly divisive issues. This is a case of giving a two-penny politico carte blanche, and of portraying him as some kind of a gentlemanly politician (which he may like to present himself as, but he is clearly not).

PS: To evoke another issue that shows the current government’s duplicitous approach to policy issues on a parallel note, it also needs to be said that the inclination among some LGBTQI activists and human rights advocates in Sri Lanka to laud the present Sri Lankan government as LGBTQI-friendly is erroneous. It is a government with LGB people, especially cis gay men, in powerful positions, but are not so willing to raise a finger for fellow LGBTQI citizens. There’s also no need to get too excited about the proposed equality clause, as it is a clause to be included in a NEW constitution, which will replace the Constitution of the 2nd Republic. The ratification of the new constitution is a long process, and there lies a long route ahead – a route replete with obstacles (which can be overcome with foresight – and whether the current government has such foresight at its helm is a different question). If those in power were keen to stand for the fundamental rights of ALL citizens, they should be working to repeal the Victorian sodomy laws NOW, and to complement the existing equality-related clauses of the current Constitution with a clear mentioning of gender identity and sexual orientation. The fact that these two vital issues are relegated to a ‘future’ constitution is itself proof that the political class, despite having powerful cis gay men in power, has next to no interest in the fundamental rights of the Sri Lankan LGBTQI community.

A long way lies ahead, for all of us. 
#LGBTQISriLanka #TransSriLanka #lka #fundamentalrights

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Latest comments

  • 4
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    “Let’s be crystal-clear – this was not a formal, solemn apology. This was all but a mere political gimmick by a petty politico from the Colombo elite, so far removed from the general public and the lived experiences of ethno-national hatred that the political class he represents is historically responsible for propagating.”

    Even Rajapakse suporters expected better than this: take a look at the headlines on CT.

    Admiral attacks protestors – Is all life Dukka – On Human rights day – Anarchy – corruption.

    In years it will all be solved.

  • 2
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    /*

    The historic public library of Jaffna, with the totality of its content, was set fire upon on 1 June 1981, by an armed group directly commanded by a cabinet minister of the Jayewardene administration. It was an act of horrendous cultural and intellectual genocide. The library was home to irreplaceable manuscripts and collections,

    */

    Well, if you can name 5 irreplaceable manuscripts and collections that was lost in the Jaffna library fire I will wear a wig just like you for a week.

    So the challenge I give to you is as follows.

    List 5 historical books that was lost in the fire. The titles must have been refereed to by notable non-Tamil historians in their work.

    • 5
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      “Well, if you can name 5 irreplaceable manuscripts and collections that was lost in the Jaffna library fire ….
      “…I will wear a wig just like you for a week. “

      For that reason I am not going to name the 5 books. It will be an insult and degrading to the irreplaceable manuscripts.

      • 2
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        Well, the Tamil violence has cost Sri Lanka over US$ 200 Billion and countless opportunities.

        Surely, you need to explain yourselves why. Your children will say to you, Dadda … Dadda … what books did the naughty Sinhala uncles burnt that we ran amok for 30 years!

        What are you going to tell your child? You are not going to con even your children surely!

        • 1
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          “Surely, you need to explain yourselves why”

          I don’t need to explain MYSELF why.

          I need to explain why oh why Tamils resorted to taking up “arms” if that’s what you mean.

          The racist Sinhala politics, you are right, has cost over US$ 200 Billion and countless opportunities and you failed to add more than 100,000 of thousands of lives

        • 1
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          De Silva:

          I sometimes gasp for breath at the sheer ignorance and stupidity of people like you. What about the Sinhala violence that cost more than 70,000 lives?

          Now, seven years after the war, the Sinhala politicians are still fighting and at times even murdering each other. Of course, the Tamils are happy that a wedge has been driven and the stupid Sinhalese will continue to jostle for position and power and in the process continue on the destructive path. Do you see any light anywhere in the near future? So, don’t worry about the Jaffna Library. Try your luck to drive some sense into your Sinhala politicians. They have become a laughing stock.

          Do you think that the Tamils kicked the butt of Mahinda and decided for the Sinhalese who should be the President? Is there such a thing that the Sinhalese with their majority can decide on this on their own but what to do my dear friend, you all are nothing but stupid and allow the minorities to be the king-maker? So, don’t go around with an empty boast?

  • 3
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    Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana

    RE: Gimmicks & Lack Of Accountability: Yahapālana Hallmarks

    “The historic public library of Jaffna, with the totality of its content, was set fire upon on 1 June 1981, by an armed group directly commanded by a cabinet minister of the Jayewardene administration. It was an act of horrendous cultural and intellectual genocide. The library was home to irreplaceable manuscripts and collections, that were all burnt in that ruthless night, fuelled by the fires of Sinhala majoritarian nationalism and the petty arrogance of political egos.”

    At its core, the Para-Sinhala, Paradeshi-Sinhala, wanted to erase any vestige of Para-Tamils, in that, the Para-Sinhala can claim that they are the True Natives of the Land of Native Veddah Aethho.

    However, the facts are that the Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils and the other Paras are Paras who came to the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, bu Hora-Oru, Kalla-Thoni and Illegal-Boats.

    Were they able to erase the fact that they are Para-Sinhala by burning the Jaffna Public Library? No.

    Mitochondrial DNA history of Sri Lankan ethnic people: their relations within the island and with the Indian subcontinental populations.

    Through a comparison with the mtDNA HVS-1 and part of HVS-2 of Indian database, both Tamils and Sinhalese clusters were affiliated with Indian subcontinent populations than Vedda people who are believed to be the native population of the island of Sri Lanka.

    http://www.nature.com/jhg/journal/v59/n1/full/jhg2013112a.html

    This is what the Native Veddah Aethho Tribe says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f89NuukY32U&t=27s

    Tamil-speaking Veddas of Vaharai await war recovery support

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeFCuZwexRw

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

  • 7
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    A person’s sexual orientation or a persons gender is that person’s business. It is neither the government’s nor anyone else’s business. The rights of Homosexuals should be the same as heterosexual including marriage. If someone wants to change their gender, that is also that person’s right. What is so controversial about that?

    What is strange is a heterosexual man can have countless sexual encounters without being married and other men will be cheering him as “DA MAAN!”, but if a loving, committed, Homosexuals couple wants to get married, they are labeled as disgusting, filthy, unnatural things. It is a very hypocritical world.

  • 3
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    Dr. Chamindra Weerawardhana,
    1931, under British constitutional expert Earl Donoughmore schemes, Ceylon became a universal franchised country.

    Here something: “The Donoughmore Commissioners had been appointed by the socialist Sydney Webb. Webb was briefly the Secretary of State for the Colonies in the Lib-Lab coalition government of 1927. He appointed Commissioners whom he knew shared his desire for an equitable and socialist British empire and they in turn came up with a Constitutional arrangement for Sri Lanka, which would ensure that every community in the island had a chance of for power and prosperity.”

    It seems to an unbelievable and amazing start. It is said Ceylon was first non-white country (in fact other than few Western countries)to introduce Universal Franchise.

    But this is what felt by Tamils as a in a summary of a Tamil News paper: The Donoughmore constitution was seen as a debate subject matter up to the independence of Sri Lanka. This constitution did not satisfy any society. Especially its recommendations affected the minorities. For these reasons the Eelakesari had not accepted this constitution. This constitution had an aim to eradicate the political racialism but it seemed to induce the racialism disputes. This constitution was considered as a prototype to create the independence state in Sri Lanka. But this plan deceived the groups of the Donoughmore constitution. Further it indirectly affected the political parties’ development and the uniqueness of representatives.

    Beyond this old newspapers opinion we saw a lot have taken place. 1948 This universal franchised government disenfranchised the upcountry Tamils and made them slave as coolies. 1951 MMDA was passed and Muslims women were reduced to the level of farm cattles, can be owned, sold and disposed of as per the men’s will. Then Sinhala Only came and made 25% of the citizens as 2nd class citizens.

    Further, it said Lankawe has signed to many UN related accords in fundamental rights issues. The trick on those is none of them are implementable unless they are explicitly made as laws in the parliament. Goverment has not done that. It created 13A to resolve Minority problem. It is not implementable. It singed to UNHRC resolution of September 2015. Goverment has appealed to America to repeal it.

    Then why this government is saying a half hearted sorry to Jaffna Library torturing? It is one of its another cheating it has been doing from the time it adopted the Universal franchising. Will it pass it as resolution in the Parliament? Will it be at least the UNP Party’ private resolution? This technique Ranil using is only to borrow further from IMF and Europe. It is not a heartfelt message for its own citizens. The universal Franchise of Lankawe has been tricked into a minority elites’ rule by the Lankawe’s Royals.

    It has all its independent commissions, but what it do when IGP authorized on the microphone impunity for a criminal? Why a Navy commander got down to floor level to squeeze the neck of a Reporter-Photographer? How it is using the PTA against the minorities?If any weaker community is attacked by influential thugs, the thugs receive impunity. That is an unwritten law of culture in Lankawe. The Lankawe government is only for the rulers, all others are subject to it. In fact, though it is elected by people, by culture, it is only Elite Minority Government and rules the rest of the majority.

    To evoke another issue that shows the current government’s duplicitous approach to policy issues on a parallel note, it also needs to be said that the inclination among some LGBTQI activists and human rights advocates in Sri Lanka to laud the present Sri Lankan government as LGBTQI-friendly is erroneous. TNA is weakest opposition in the parliament. It will not talk about MMDA or LGBT like matters where prejudice practiced in the parliament. Even for the Tamils’ solution, it does not openly question the government. It is waiting for secret solution to materialise.

    Voting using universal franchise does not work in Lankawe. Protesting in the street does not work. Taking arms and rebelling does not work. Complaining to IC, UN, UNHRC ….does not work. Publishing its frauds, campaigning against its crime does not make it to correct. At this desperate condition, unless all the affected parties get together and bring the Elite Minority rulers to kneel down, all majority population will be suffering.

    • 0
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      See this news report by Malla aran expose the real reason for the so called conflict.
      When universal suffrage was introduced tamil leaders ( vellala actually) objected it. They even went to London to campaign against giving one vote for one person.

      The reason is tamil leaders realised if people were given voting rights the political power balance would go to a more equitable position where Sinhalese would get more power than they had due to numberical majority. Were Sinhalese wrong in getting their due rights using voting system? No. They had every right to do that.

      But that will undermine the efforts of the Tamil politicians to retain their political power which they enjoyed even more than their numerical strengnth entitle them to. That is the whole reason for this so called conflict.

      Tamil politicians had more power than they should have under the British, practically minority rule over majority. And with Donoughmore and universal suffrage it was challenged…

      Then all these eelam concepts, persecution of tamils bla bla came up. in reality sinhalese were taking steps to get and consolidate their due political rights while tamil leaders did want to continue minority rule over majority

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

  • 4
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    God, is this the way to apologise for such a great crime? This dirty crook not only insulted the Tamils but all of us who feel utterly ashamed of this most shameful event in our history.

    He has a lot to apologise for:

    1982. That ultimate crime, the utmost shameful event that ever took place on this soil – burning down the Jafna library. Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    1983. Watershed event in race relations. Innocent Tamils were butchered, property looted and burnt, hundreds of thousands fled to India (still languishing in refugee camps) Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    1989. Deadly “bheeshanaya” . Nearly 60, 000 Sinhala youth (who cares?) caught and killed some burnt alive (including Wijeweera). Did he demand that culprits be brought before the law?

    He was a great proponent of many evil things that shaped the landscape of this country. Politicisatin of Civil service, Abolishing civil rights of Sirimavo, Cursed 1978 JR constitution, the referendum etc. etc. And the list goes on and on.

    His contributions to the present pathetic state of race relations and the polity are unmatched.

    Finally gods saved this country from his deadly agreement with Prabakaran.
    What would have been the level of blood letting and race relations in this country if that was in place today – if Rajapaksha did not appear in the scene?

    During the war he ridiculed the armed forces, celebrated when the soldiers were massacred in thousands. He led the only opposition in the world, ever in history, that openly prayed for their own armed forces to lose. Upon gaining power in 2001 he passed on the names of all intelligence officers to LTTE – famous Millenium city maasccre. Upon gaining power in 2005 he ensured that all those who were engaged in defeating terrorism are brought before the public in handcuffs.

    He engineered a number of parliamentary coups including the present one – creating internal divisions is his modus operandi. He approached Sarath Fonseka while he was in uniform.

    The major thrust in his regime change agenda was creating hatred in the minds of minorities against Rajapaksha.

    Anton Balasinghaam dubbed him as ’20th Century Fox’
    In some sense even Prabakaran was a principled man than this dirty crook.

    His anti Chinese propaganda was his shrewdest plan to permanently disable our only support base in the international arena and keep the country away from receiving any considerations in loan repayments. We paid dearly for their anti India propaganda before 1977 elections and anti Indian policies following the 77 victory.

    His suspension of post city entailed one U$ million a day compensation claim which was set off against additional land to the Chinese.

    Here we are talking about reconciliation, impunity, rule of law etc. with Ranil Wickramasinghe piloting the plane. (WITH FULL BLESSINGS OF OUR TAMIL AND MUSLIM BROTHERN)

    Let us wait and see where this plane is going to land.

    Soma
    (Irony of the whole thing is Tamils always voted for him and is the new messiah of the Tamils to deliver their mythical homeland – he will not deliver anything to anybody)

  • 3
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    sad but true.

  • 3
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    Chaminda,

    Agreed, a long way ahead for all of us, the Tamils, Muslims and the Christians included. However knowing the depth of bias that ravages the hearts of our brothers ably manipulated by the savage Buddhist monks I for one am not going to hold my breath for any change for the better in the long run.

  • 0
    3

    I don’t think that Sri lanka has a problem of gay rights violations. If you identify that Sri lanka also should respect the LGBT rigths, the way the Western countries who are mostly following the christian Ideology then there is a problem. As caholic ideology does not allow gays in their society. So, there is heavy gay bashing. Because of that, govt has to have legislation to protect gays. but, Sri lanka does not have gay bashing or even if a girl wears as a man, no one cares. Actually, in Sri lanka most girls look like men the way they wear cloths.

    On the other hand, heterosexuals as a whole do not ask rights to engage in romance in open and along the streets. What ever they do, whether it is normal heterosexual sex or any other deviation or version, they do it inside rooms or in covered places.

    India like countries because of HIndu Philosophy has ponnaihs in the Hindu Temple. their men wear like women and behave like women and no one oppose it. Sri lanka is buddhist, does not promote crushing balls of men to produce gays or ponnaihs.

    I think, Instead fighting for rights to wear women cloths by a man, kiss a man or squeeze the but of a man in the open, then that becomes absurd as that does not go with the Asian culture. Because children does not understand the adult requirement.

    Besides west screwed up their cultures. Now, they want easterners also to consume Narcotics, behave uncultures in open.

    I think, this individual is simply Selfish and not grown up mentally.

    • 1
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      When the Tamil students were gunned down by the police, you justified the shooting by pointing out that that kind of shooting are common in western countries.

      Guess what? Respecting LGBT rights are common in the west too. So what is your problem, Mr hypocrite?

  • 1
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    I do not understand your saying
    “It is a government with LGB people, especially cis gay men, in powerful positions.”

    A powerful guy above all the ministers is widely alleged to be gay with a marriage of convenience to project himself as CIS Gender (Cis from the Latin prefix meaning “on this side of” as opposed to “trans” on the other side of gender.)

    How do you explain the term cis gay? It seems an oxymoron. What does it mean?

  • 2
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    Hey dude I am proud of you. You have realized sissy gay boys in power has no gumption. It is time to hitch the MR wagon. We respect all irrespective of their caste, creed and gender affiliation.

  • 3
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    Sodomy! What sodomy?

    SWRD’s godfather, governor West Ridgeway (the WR in SWRD) had to, in the words of Wikipedia, bring, ‘ charges of sodomy and pederasty against Hector MacDonald, commander of the troops in Ceylon. Ridgeway advised MacDonald to return to London, his main concern being to avoid a massive scandal: “Some, indeed most, of his victims … are the sons of the best-known men in the Colony, English and native”, he wrote, noting that he had persuaded the local press to keep quiet in hopes that “no more mud” would be stirred up.[5]’.

    So, truth to tell, from olden times, sodomisation has been rife in our sunny island.

    Behind tea bushes. Under mango trees. Beneath coconut trees (beware of falling nuts). At the beach. In the cool blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Behind the bicyle shed (at Royal?). In Peradeniya gardens. In Dehiwela zoo. Enough!

    These days everybody is at it! The masquerading trouble makers in saffron robes are shafting the Sangha. The Sangha is shafting the ministers. The ministers are shafting the constitution. The government is shafting the people.

    Officers shafted privates, and now the war heroes are shafting civilian trouble makers, especially journalists.

    So, nobody gave two shakes for ‘our Victorian Sodomy Laws’.

    Anyway, for thirty long years our Tamil brethren shafted us for the hateful way in which we goaded them (including the shameful burning of the Jaffna Library). The only apology worth anything would have been one from the cowardly bastards who committed that despicable act. No chance of that now.

  • 0
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    [Edited out]

    • 0
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      I like to say I dont agree with you, on this

  • 0
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    While agreeing with the sentiments expressed by the writer, I would like to add the addendum that what differentiates our current rulers from their predecessors is pretence. Of purity. The previous regime displayed an array of arrogance and boastfulness about their conduct that was without historical precedent.
    The LARGE question is, “Why are they not being appropriately charged and punished by the current regime and forces of law and order such as exist?” All we see is an endless parade of the privileged of the previous regime marching in and out of this or that “investigative commission” on the earth-shaking offences of “misuse of (this or that) government vehicle!”
    This pattern is beyond ludicrous and brings to mind the JVP assessment of “six of one and half a dozen” of the other or “Unuth ekai, munuth ekai!”

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