20 May, 2024


Himalaya Declaration: Is It Worthy Of National Discussion? A Community’s Journey From Arunachalam To Prabhakaran To Sumanthiran

By Vishwamithra

“And yet to every bad, there is a worse.” ~Thomas Hardy

Local Tamil leadership doesn’t trust a single Sinhalese political leader. At every juncture and every decisive moment of our history, when their rights and privileges were on line, Tamil leadership insists that they were disenchanted with successive Sinhalese politicians. In a long line of disappointments and abandonment, the maiden culprits were the collective leadership of the then Ceylon National Congress in 1921.

Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, in 1875 became the first Ceylonese to enter the Ceylon Civil Service. After a very lucrative career as a Civil Servant, Arunachalam entered politics and was instrumental in the formation of Ceylon National Congress (CNC) and as its founder President, was held in highest esteem by all Ceylonese leaders irrespective of ethnicity, caste or religion. Hailing from the so-called ‘Royal Family’ of Jaffna, Arunachalam and his elder brother Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan could be credited for many an initiative in then pre-independent Ceylon and her Sinhalese-dominated leadership; they worked with hand-in-glove understanding and cooperation with Sinhalese leaders. The Ponnambalam brothers’ engagement in nationally significant issues has never been matched by the successive generations of Tamil leaders.

However, Arunachalam left the CNC in 1921 following disputes about communal representation in the Legislative Council, which Arunachalam opposed, and the connivance of Sinhalese politicians which resulted in no Tamils being elected from Western Province at the 1921 legislative council election. He founded the Ceylon Tamil League in 1923. 

All those Sinhalese ‘giants’, including FR and DS Senanayake and Sir James Peiris must bear the brunt of responsibility for reneging on the pledges they collectively gave Arunachalam at the time. Yet when Ceylon gained Independence in 1948, Tamil leadership has changed hands and GG Ponnambalam, the leading lawyer at the Hulftsdorp was the leader of Ceylon’s Tamils and he was part of DS Senanayake’s second Cabinet of Ministers. After the introduction of the Ceylon Citizenship Act of 1948 whereby disenfranchisement of Indian Tamils who worked and lived in the Hill Country and other tea plantation areas came into effect, the national political landscape changed. The distrust that occurred in 1921 was unmistakably justified; after two abortive pacts (Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact and Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Pact) between the leaderships of the Sinhalese-dominated governments of SWRD Bandaranaike and Dudley Senanayake and SJV Chelvanayakam had rendered much hope for the Tamil community also served to dim the dreams of domination by the Sinhalese community.

A thirty-year war ensued and many lives were lost on both sides. Instead of undertaking serious reconciliation efforts, the Sinhalese majority resumed their indulgence in abject triumphalism. The Rajapaksa brothers displayed infinite tendency to dominate the minority and the then Opposition led by Ranil Wickremesinghe kept aloof of these radical bureaucratic machinations and political intrigues.       

Tamil’s disillusion with the Sinhalese-led Ceylon National Congress after the departure of Arunachalam has continued to date. Even after the cessation of hostilities between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (LTTE) led by Velupillai Prabhakaran and Sri Lankan military forces, the distrust and the feel of suspicion between the two communities have not advanced towards reconciliation. The savagery of racial mistrust has taken its murderous toll. Consequently, either within the Halls of Parliament or outside of it, discussion or propensity for propitiation is outright cast-off by both communities as it is portrayed as appeasement. In the context of the National Question of Tamils, no political leader, either of Sinhalese or Tamil origin, would be willing and ready to be called by their respective electorate as an appeaser.

This is the context within which the Himalaya Declaration has been presented as an initiative, a first of so many initiatives to follow the end of the ‘war’ for the electorate to consider and reconsider as a stimulation for the forthcoming Presidential or Parliamentary Elections. In the midst of economic chaos and near-financial collapse, reintroduction of such a polarizing issue could be either destructive or even more meaningful for the eager voter to consider- the issue of reconciliation between the two main communities in the country. It’s such a double-edged knife and its user may cut the fruit in half or injure himself the wounds of which may ultimately cost his life.

The writer has been reliably informed that this initiative, Himalaya Declaration, is a first step towards reconciliation. At the very outset it calls for: “A Sri Lanka where every individual can live peacefully with dignity, trust, and no fear or suspicion, enjoying equal rights.” However, towards the establishment of such a society and such objective conditions, the Declaration spells out in six (6) separate Statements, a basic modus operandi (MO). These Statements may be already embedded in our present Constitution; substitution of some different words with a more non-legal sense may serve a purpose in that legalistic verbiage of a typical Constitution may not be understandable to the ordinary man. Nevertheless, the repetition of what is already existent in our Constitution might be considered redundant at best.

Himalaya Declaration has two distinct aspects, especially if and when it is accepted by a majority of our people. One, it has to be, if final after amendments, additions and subtractions, closely scrutinized by a panel of constitutional, legal and civil experts. Two, it has to be acceptable and endorsed by our leading political parties who will be the ultimate ensurers as well an executives who would put into action and practice when and if they come to power.

I do not belong to the first category of experts on constitutional affairs and gladly leave it to the luminaries of respective subjects. However, when it comes to political interpretations and practicalities of implementations, I might have some cents to add.

In the aftermath of the 30-year War, the aforementioned polarization of the two main communities has deepened and that depth of polarization has caused immense destruction to the harmonious style of living in the first half of the twentieth century. The Ponnambalam brothers, the Senanayake brothers, Jayewardenes and the Bandaranaikes are no more. Nor is the Westminster system of governance where the Prime Minister, the first among equals in a Cabinet-run government, could gain or lose popularity and could be replaced at the next elections. The Executive Presidency has displaced commonly accepted norms and replaced the answerability of the bureaucracy to the Cabinet of Ministers and Parliament to an all-knowing President.

J R Jayewardene, our first President did not depend on a non-elected Presidential Secretariat. He did not have such a massive Secretariat. His advisors were a collection of some smart Ministers of the then Cabinet. R Premadasa who was the Prime Minister, Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, Ronnie de Mel and Nissanka Wijeratne were his advisors on governance. Cyril Mathew may have been  one of his close friends and advisors on subjects outside the governance subject, but was not part of his inner Cabinet. Amongst J R’s inner non-political advisors were such giants as NGP Panditharatne, Lal Jayawardene his brother the eminent lawyers HW Jayewardene and JAL Cooray. In fact Professor SJ Wilson, Chelvanayakam’s son-in-law was one of his closest advisors on constitutional affairs.

The advent of the Premadasa-era changed everything for good. Premadasa instituted a massive Presidential Secretariat that included among others a Lawrence Mafia to persecute his political rivals. Chandrika Bandaranaike’s (CBK) thoroughly forgettable government did not do any better and her successors, Mahinda and Gotabaya further expanded on the Presidential powers; we are now totally entrenched in that pit that was first created by JR Jayewardene as ‘Executive Presidency’.

Himalaya Declaration does not spell out a method of doing away with Executive Presidency. In such a circumstance, it is most fundamental and vital that, in order to establish and expand on reconciliation between Tamils and Sinhalese, the trustworthiness of our leaders matters and it matters most profusely. Inclusion of a sub-clause or sub-statement endorsing abolition of Executive President system from our Constitution must precede everything. In the absence of a replacement of Executive President and reintroduction of a Prime Minister-led government might arrest the attention of the masses and it was evidenced during the Aragalaya-22 period.

At every level, whether President, Prime Minister, Minster, Provincial Councilor or a Pradesheeya Sabha member and the general bureaucracy, the one who exercises executive power is at the core of all our issues. Breakdown of discipline, non-pursuit of financial and administrative goals, lethargy,  rampant tardiness, rearing and uncontrolled corruption and nepotism can all be sourced to the basic prowess or powers of the Executive.

Hence, my submission is that the Himalaya Declaration’s main thrust should be to society as a whole. Introduction of Acts, laws, legislations and various Bills need to empower and buttress the foundation of society at large. Such a society might have the chance to create conditions from which shall emerge real leaders, if not dozens at least one or two who will take the baton and run to the finish-line.

Then we will have those great sculptors and poets, those pioneering engineers and architects and above all simple men and women at whose feet one can fall without shame or fear.                           

*The writer can be contacted at vishwamithra1984@gmail.com

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Latest comments

  • 10

    “Instead of undertaking serious reconciliation efforts, the Sinhalese majority resumed their indulgence in abject triumphalism.”

    Tamils had two chances for federalism. The first time was when the IPKF came to Sri Lanka under the the auspices of the Indo-Lanka Accord. The LTTE actively sabotaged this process by directly attacking the IPKF. The second occasion was when the LTTE assassinated Neelan Tiruchelvam (a world class lawyer) and attempted to assassinate CBK, both of whom were keen on devolution. Devolution is the first step to federalism. The reason Rajapakse came to power is because CBK negotiated from a position of weakness. Devolution is a major concession that should only be offered under stringent conditions, such as complete laying down of weapons/disarmament by the LTTE. Anyway, the point is that the LTTE was never interested in devolution, only separatism. They wanted 29% of the island, including the entire Trincomalee, Batticaloa, and Mannar, which makes no sense from an economic standpoint.

    • 8

      Best to learn from the past than dwell in it…
      Unity is best way forward…
      Fix the system and reward according to merits…
      By trying to help your group you are dividing the national spirit…
      Starting another war will help only the war mongrels and the UN

    • 8

      Himalayan declaration is nothing but hoodwinking exercise to distract international community from accountability and reconciliation. Ranil canvassed Eric Solheim and Cyril Ramaphosa to help him out and the result is this, funded by Norway and supported by South Africa. They needed people to carry forward this. Sumanthiran is lackey of Ranil and Surenthiran is agent of Sumanthiran. Sumanthiran is a crook and coward and he has put up Surenthiran to do the dirty job. I do not know about Canadian Tamil Congress, but GTF is both financially and politically bankrupt. After the betrayal of 2015, Tamils in UK have stopped funding GTF and BTF and have distanced themselves. GTF which was in doldrums, have seized this opportunity to fill their pockets and get on to limelight. Nothing is going to come out of it rather than time wasting exercise. It is sad that South Africa which has taken Israel to International criminal court, is abetting to cover up genocide by Srilanka.

    • 3

      Prabhakaran regrettably did not fight for devolution or for directly for the right of self-determination, but for independence – a solution much bigger than what is in the neighbouring country. It is difficult to fight for a particular solution in a conflict.

      It may have been won if he had fought for a wider solution open to the people by right to self determination. Let the leaders propose and let the respective people decide the optimum solution.

      A diaspora initiated idea has no particular value as it has no mechanism to effect any change inside the country except for its religious affiliation parts in Sri Lanka. It is an unacceptable idea to many to dig more deeper into theocratically than is desirable. There cannot and ought not to be a solution on theocratic basis in a modern nation. In any event, and thankfully, Ceylon did never had one such system before.

      The issues in Sri Lanka are the absence of true nature of linguistic duality since 1950s and the application of majoritarian say only on minority rights. If both aspects didn’t take foothold, the country would have beaten every country in the globe for prosperity. Sadly it did and drove the country to bankruptcy.

  • 16

    The “Himalaya declaration” was brought by an unpopular previously banned Tamil organisation called Global Tamil Forum joined by some unknown Buddhist Priests with the backing of one or few countries.The “Himalayam” is a mountain in Nepal which is difficult to claim and we know thousands of people who tried to climb or reach the top lost their lives. We have gone through various agreements, proposals, international mediation,UN resolutions, commissions etc. but only we reduced the Tamil population, reduced Tamil representations, reduced Tamil lands, but also increased Sinhalese Military and military camps, Sinhalese police and Sinhalese people in the traditional land from 1948 to 2023. I doubt that when Himalaya declaration comes into operation almost all the Tamils will be eliminated from this island.

    • 10

      “We have gone through various agreements, proposals, international mediation,UN resolutions, commissions etc. ……… “

      Is the Himalayan Declaration an agreement with government of Sri Lanka? I thought it is a declaration of understanding between two parties? Why do a section of Tamils keep lamenting about nothing?

      ” I doubt that when Himalaya declaration comes into operation almost all the Tamils will be eliminated from this island.”

      Which part of the Himalaya declaration do you believe is going to come into operation?

      • 8

        Native, I guess , reconciliation is a Himalayan task , more than declaration.

        • 6


          ” …. reconciliation is a Himalayan task …”

          True however, the Himalayan Declaration is not an end in itself. It is only a begining of a process. I am told there had been a process in early and mid 1990s in which monks who believed in democracy, equality, freedom,…. humanity went around villages and campaigned for peace, subsequently Chandrika was elected with 66% of the votes. …. you may have known the process better than me, or SJ.

          I understand a senior monk from Kurunagala, one reverent Punnyasara Thero played a key role in the 1990s, who was a member of governing body Karaka Council.

      • 6

        May be this is why they called it a Himalayan declaration, as they knew that it will be a Himalayan task to get any declaration or agreement into operation. Look what has happened to all previous promises’ declarations and pacts. The international 1987 Indo Sri Lankan agreement Sec 13A or Mahinda coming on Television after the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009 and stating he will now give everything to the Tamils even sec 13A plus and like all Sinhalese leaders from the time of independence renegaded.

      • 2

        Tamils are lamenting about this, they just say this is an usual tactics played in favour of one candidate.
        These two parties tell us they have a program towards their declaration. They can cheat a few until 2048.

        • 7


          Did they say what does the programme contain?

          “They can cheat a few until 2048.”

          Whats wrong with cheating?
          All most all politicians elected to cheat the voters.
          The boy who took up arms cheated Tamil people, ….. tens of thousands were killed, missing, …. signed all kinds of agreements with the state then he reneged on all MOU, … and ultimately betrayed Tamil speaking people.

          Here two parties are talking, thats all, with no power to deliver, enforce, …. agreements.

          Some sections of the population are not only pessimistic but paranoid as well.

          If it is going to fail, it won’t be a surprise, then why worry.

          Unfortunately I came across Joint Statement of 13 Diaspora organisations. Again it accused the Himalayan Declaration being a betrayal of Tamil aspirations. It appears even after losing tens of thousands of people and incurring heavy destruction those VP’s b***s carriers still haven’t learned anything. Tamil Diaspora may have enriched themselves however they still remain primitive as they did under VP.

          • 2

            “Did they say what does the programme contain?”
            They said that the Buddhist Monks will go around all 25 districts and find out what the people think about their declaration.
            Do you think that over 10000 Sinhalese were massacred in 1970, over 60000 massacred in 89/90 and over 30000 military youths killed and thousands me limed and even after they brought bankruptcy to this island, Sinhalese or Natives learned anything better than Tamils?
            Are you sure that you are sophisticated or developed or civilised?

    • 3

      “The “Himalayam” is a mountain in Nepal which is difficult to claim”
      “Himalayam” is not a mountain in Nepal but a mountain range stretching from Kashmir to Assam abutting or crossing Nepal, China, Pakistan, Bhutan and India.
      Tibet holds about a quarter of the range.
      Nobody is making fresh claims to it to make claims difficult.

      • 2

        “Nobody is making fresh claims to it to make claims difficult.”

        “All the above countries belong to peacefully rising China. Further it has claimed the entire South China Sea and Indian ocean and all those littoral countries belong to it. Chinese Ambassador to UNHRC claimed Sri Lanka is China’s neighbour. …..

        Those who live in Chinese Bliss should wake up.

  • 0

    “Hailing from the so-called ‘Royal Family’ of Jaffna”
    Was the family descendants of Sankilian II or of Don Constantine?

    • 2

      Are there five members of the Royal Family here whose feelings are hurt?
      My apologies.

      • 0

        Royal class 😂…

  • 3

    Identity politics is now slowly fading away… Emerging back is the nationalism…

    When you try to draw value from your group, you forget the macro picture… If you want a country to go forward, you must think outside your comfort zone and see how we can direct the country forward as one people…

    It doesn’t matter if it’s from a minority or majority group the candidate is from… If he or she is giving a vision to the country to go forward without complaining how unfortunate is his or her group, then I believe that’s our candidate….

    Address the hardships of people without touching on victimhood…
    Victimhood card is played by the week when the hardships are addressed by the government….

    No one should get handouts for victimhood but only address their hardships and let them work hard to come up through the system at hand….
    Moment you give special considerations to a group, you are putting a label on them as weak…

    Don’t give access to these politicians again to divide our nation with identity politics

    • 2

      :Sura, nationalism too is identity politics.
      Identity has often defined nations.

      • 0

        I was talking about identity politics…
        Goal is to break the peace and unity and unite the society under various flags….
        This way easier to plunge the land with less objections…
        People care only about their group…

  • 2

    President RW. told a group of Professionals in Jaffna, just yesterday that the 13th Amendment is sufficient to address all development needs of the Northern Province. So this is in essence 13thA. minus.

    He began in 2023 upon ascending the Presidency, actually gate crashing.that he intended to Implement the 13th amendment in full.and even go beyond. This was at a meeting with Tamil political parties. Everyone knew that he was flying kites.

    Well then he has parachuted from the Himalayan region to the Hantane range.
    Would this be a clue. NO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION in the months ahead but Parliament may abolish the Presidency. This is only my wild guess!
    The Last Waltz by RW [ Ingelbert Humberdink ]. The Waltz was initiated by his uncle JRJ.

  • 3

    Dr GS should stop using abusive language. Argue your point like a learned man. The difference between a learned man and an ignorant one is the same as that between a living man and a corpse.

    The HD is only a framework authored by the GTF/SLBL. The Buddhist monks involved are from all three Nikayas.

    Historically the Buddhist monks have scuttled all agreements signed in the past. It makes sense to neutralise their opposition.

    The HD does not prescribe any political solutions. That is left to the politicians, political parties and parliament. Their objective is to have a national discussion at the grassroot level. The country has gone bankrupt because of political instability more than corruption.

    Take a leaf from Canada a multi- national, multi-lingual and multi-cultural country. There are more than 100 languages spoken by people. Though English and French are the official languages, there is no discrimination. All are equal before the law. Unlike Sri Lanka hardly you see a policemen or a soldier on the road. Canadian diversity is celebrated not exploited by politicians like in Sri Lanka.

    The HD is another attempt by a group of expatriate Tamils and Sanga for a Better Sri Lanka. They may fail, but there is nothing like trying. A long journey starts with the first step.

    • 0

      Enathu Anpu Thangam,
      Until Dr.GS proposed and you seconded it, it was not in my dream that the “Himalayan Pact” was only a plain Evil-Suman Pact. Is that why Sumanthiran once swore during Yahapalanaya time if he is not implementing the Secret Solution in association with the Master Evil, he will quit politics? My blessing for it to meet the Immortal Glory of all other-Sinhala-Tamil- India- American-UNHRC pacts met.
      Thanks for helping me to understand the Himalayan Pact. Remember I have repeated all over here that your earnest effort to destroy the Federal Party cannot face any failure. Congratulations on your victory. Wait for the next election, if Evil ever show his heart’s grace to conduct one, to see the rest of achievement of those who toiled day and night to bring down the selfless magnificent, organization called FP, SJV built by selling his personal properties(Compare that with the man who deposited $20B at his foreign banks by fighting a $400B genocide war) and his friends propertied.
      But for the grace of God, please stay out of promoting Tamils’ enemies as the saviors of Tamils.

  • 2

    This Himalayan Declaration is one of many attempts by one of many groups to resolve the Tamil problem in SL. All know that thsi too wont work. But that does not mean people have to just idle. The diaspora Tamils need to indulge in such ACTIVITIES to keep them occupied and to draw funds from various agencies. Recently we had the hoax of VP’s daughter making a speach. It is clear that this is another such group, may be ex-LTTE crooks, or other tamil crooks, to plunder money. So now comed this GTF or whatever and they seem to be floating in money, surely funded by some agencies, to travel about, sponsoring so many including some Buddhist clergies, in this new venture. Its timing of course will naturally arouse the suspicion, as this may be an attempt to promote Ranil. Mine is only a guess. Who these Tamil guys are mostly unknown. Their credibility is unknown. But yet itis their right to do this, as long as they dont claim that they represent the Tamils. Of course building confidence among communities is the first attempt. So no harm trying this too. Tamils have so many groups and parties to prove the Tamil unity, so these oppositions too is inevitable. Anyway let them carry on and be occupied.

  • 0

    “Velikku Oonam Satchi” (Head nodding Chameleon sitting on the fence witnessed that the fence had eaten crops by nodding its head.) – A saying.
    A narcissistic author, who draws only bombastic harangues in CT, mainly to insult Tamils and Honor Don Stephan to Evil UNPyers, today wrote a different preamble and declared his usefulness in implementing the Himalayan Pact. The other day we had written a reply to Jehan PhD’s essay that “Trust established through one’s lives; not created with technically brainwashing essays.” GTF, by its own actions, discredited it. Father Emmanuel, who abused his connections with the Western diplomats to create a bogus freedom fighting organization, quit GTF not moving the Wester opinion even a hair width on the Tamils Genocide by the Sinhala Buddhist Appe Aanduwas. Because of Evil running the Yahapalanaya government swore only to safeguard the Rowdy Royal Family from International Jurisdiction, he was distrusted by the Sinhala Community and 100% rejected. Sumanthiran MP was defeated in the last election and said did voting jugglery to get a seat in the Parliament. This author is dying hard to create trust in GTF but failed to establish his trustworthiness, historically. In Turn GTF is doing that for the Evil-Sumanthiran Pact aka, Himalayan Pact. These few crowds feel no shame in people laughing at them. “Velikku Oonam Satchi”. That is the way this world delivers justice for mouth-less ones.

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