23 September, 2020

Blog

Include All, Tap All Resources For Reconciliation 

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Sections of the polity that feel themselves to be excluded from the government’s decision making process and alliances are seeking to gain attention. In the North the Tamil People’s Council organized a largely successful protest march and rally against the failure of the government to adequately address the problems of the war affected Tamil people and also larger political issues of concern to the Tamil polity. In the south the Bodu Bala Sena or Buddhist Power Force (BBS) has been organizing protests against the dangers posed by Tamil nationalism including the event organized by the Tamil People’s Council under the name Ezhuga Thamizh (Tamils arise) and the government’s inaction to face down this challenge. However, it is important to distinguish between these two organizations. The BBS is a fringe group without mainstream Sinhalese backing whereas the Tamil People’s Council has substantial public support in the Tamil majority north.

I was in Jaffna two days before the Ezhuga Thamizh protest event took place. When I went to the university to meet with faculty members about conducting an awareness seminar on the government’s reconciliation process, they were busy and in a hurry as they were helping in the organizing of the protest event. I had come to meet with civil society groups, and it seemed that they too were supporters of this event. One of them showed me a map of some land taken over near Palali airport. He took me there to show it. The peculiarity was that land closer to the airport had been given back to the people. But land further away from the airport was still retained in a spacious military camp, which had a play ground for recreation and some fruit and vegetable cultivation too. Military sources say that this land belonged to the Agriculture Department. But the map that was given to me shows where a large number of houses once existed (see map).peace-land-map1-240916

The indication I got was that the intelligentsia of the North, at least in Jaffna, was supportive of the Ezhuga Thamizh event. They were not anti Tamil or anti Sinhalese. They were prepared to collaborate with us who had come from the South to organize the seminar on the government’s reconciliation process. However, it was also evident that they felt the need for pressure to be applied to the government to do more for the Tamil people and to do it without more delay. This is understandable. The Tamil people of the North were the main victims in the last phase of the war. Those who were victims and lost their loved ones, lost their lands, lost their livelihoods and lost their neighbours, cannot wait. They want their problems solved immediately if they were not solved yesterday. On the other hand, those who were not direct victims of the war would not have such urgency in getting their needs attended to.

Slow Pace 

Those who live outside the North and East are, by and large, able to take a more detached and long term view of what happened and what needs to be done. Most of the intelligentsia in the country outside of the North and East perhaps see that a solution to problems that have festered for over six decades cannot be solved in one year on in two. It is a fact that the greatest leaders this country produced in the past tried to solve the problem but they failed in their endeavours. S W R D Bandaranaike, Dudley Senanayake, S J V Chelvanayakam, J R Jayewardene, Ranasinghe Premadasa, A Amirthalingam and Chandrika Kumaratunga tried to resolve it but could not in their periods of leadership. It may therefore require the passage of another generation after the end of the war for a mutually acceptable political solution to be found.

There is satisfaction in liberal sections of society and the international community that the present course that the government is steering is in the direction of a political solution. On other other hand, the Ezhuga Thamizh demonstration had slogans that called for the return of land, finding of missing persons, release of those detained without trial, the resettlement of displaced people, and demilitarization and restoration of full civilian rule. These are urgent needs of the people. Each one of these matters is being addressed today by the government, though the pace of change may be slower than necessary, and is much too slow to the victims who are denied their right to live in dignity. At the same time it is also necessary to take into consideration the positive changes that have taken place in each one of these areas, and continues to take place. The government is often criticized even by its supporters of not communicating its messages to the people.

The Ezhuga Thamizh event also had political demands to make of the government especially in the formulation of the new constitution. There were demands for the unitary state to be replaced by a federal one, and for the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces into one large Tamil-controlled province. However it also necessary to realise that the government can only go as far as the majority of people are prepared to go. No government that is elected, and whose mandate has democratic legitimacy, can make political decisions that do not have majority electoral backing. The majority of the electorate is waiting to be educated and convinced about the need for change, and for the change proposed by the government, as this is what is desired by the Tamil people.

Champion Rehabilitation

It is unfortunate that the manner in which the Ezhuga Thamizh protest has been articulated is unlikely to win the support of the either the majority of the Sinhalese or Muslim people. There are many Muslims in the East who say they are not for merger. There are even Tamils from the East, who say that they prefer the merger not to take place. In the case of a merger, the administrative power centre would probably shift to the North, which is farther away for many of those living in the East than is Colombo. The stridency with which the Tamil demands are being articulated is also not designed to convince the unconvinced. On the contrary, it serves to bolster the stridency of the ethnic nationalist parties.

The political issues of federalism and the merger of the North and East will most probably require more time in which to work out a mutually acceptable solution. There will be a need for educational campaigns so that the Sinhalese do not automatically equate federalism with separation. Likewise where the merger of the North and East is concerned, there may be a need for a referendum to ascertain the views of the people. At the present time there is a danger of holding a referendum, as wounds are still too fresh and a negative vote by the electoral majority is a possibility. The setback to the peace process in Colombia, where the peace accord signed by the government and FARC rebels has been defeated at a referendum is a warning to Sri Lanka that what is designed and negotiated at the top needs to be accepted by the people. On the other hand, the humanitarian issues of the victims need to be attended to without further delay.

In this context there is a need for the government to prioritise the release of land, resettlement of displaced persons, provision of livelihood assistance, demilitarization of the North and East and finding of missing persons. In doing so, the government can draw upon the passion and goodwill of the Tamil People’s Council and also of the Tamil Diaspora. There was a time when the Diaspora contributed large sums of money for the purpose of waging military war. Now there is an opportunity to demonstrate similar commitment to assist the victims of war. Instead of feeling excluded by the government the Tamil People’s Council and Northern Provincial Council, both of which are led by former Justice of the Supreme Court, C V Wigneswaran who is currently chief minister of the Northern Provincial Council and also convenor of the Tamil People’s Council, could play a leading role as champions of the humanitarian effort. They do not need to wait for others to do the right thing by the victims of war but could start right away.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    Delayed justice is denied justice too !! Our leader never wanted settle the problems !! Tamils da ce !! They did everything to build their power base (vote banks) settled people’s from majority’s in north n east !! (Mostly convicts )In the name of development !! This till today continuing !! Don’t say that Tamils are living in the south !! Yes true we are living on our own !! We welcome any one to do the same in the north n east too !! Only we oppose the state or armed forces sponsored settlements!! Also ilegaly building bhuddist temples amongst Tamils in public lands !! Where there no bhuddist !!

    • 2
      0

      Jehan Perera

      RE: Include All, Tap All Resources For Reconciliation

      Yes.

      Expose All the Paradeshis, Paras, for what they are, Paras, in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho. Then reconciliation among the Paras is possible, as they understand that they All are Paras.

      The Paras are Para-Sinhala, Para-Tamils ( Para-Demala), Para-Muslims, Para-Portuguese (Parangios), Para-Dutch, Para-English, Para-Malays Para-Burgers , Para-Indians etc.

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

      Journal of Human Genetics (2014) 59, 28–36; doi:10.1038/jhg.2013.112; published online 7 November 2013

      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

  • 4
    8

    I am continually surprised how Jehan who should have more insight particularly given the nature of work involved.

    The Tamils in Jaffna are hysterical about non-Tamils settling in Jaffna. I think its called xenophobia. This is the dynamic that resulted in Moslems getting ethnic cleansed from Jaffna. Its the same dynamic that is involved in the land issues there presently.

    The Tamils are an insular and introverted culture. They kind of believe in strength in numbers. Its similar to the animal kingdom where certain species have herd mentality.

    I think a number of factors govern Tamil xenophobia. The first and foremost is their caste system. Non-Tamils spoils the soup because non-Tamils will get to see the dirty laundry.

    Secondly, its Tamil nationalist politics. There was a time when slogans such as “we will make slippers from Sinahala skins” on political platforms were quite common. The Tamil politicians peddle nationalism because that is the most easy and lazy way to get elected. Tamil nationalist politics gets harder when the population is multi-cultural.

    So whether the Tamil xenophobia is caste oriented nor Tamil nationalist politics oriented – neither is healthy for anyone concerned. The Tamils in Jaffna will need to learn to co-exist with other ethnicities. The Tamil nationalist politics should also be discouraged.

    • 4
      2

      Vibhushana,

      “The Tamils in Jaffna are hysterical about non-Tamils settling in Jaffna.”

      Can you prove the above statement of yours with deeds?

      You need to show Tamil objection to those outsiders wanting to settle in Jaffna by their own free-will purchasing their own properties. Can you do that?

      • 0
        2

        burning Issue:

        Can you prove the above statement of yours with deeds?

        So, it is good news.

        Govt does not dance eaxtly the way Tamil need.

      • 1
        0

        Are you asking proof from an ingnorant who does not know a word of Tamil, but only quote from Jaffnahistory.com?

        It was R.M.B. Senanayake’s speech. He was Anagarika number 2. I did not come to know even even Cyril Mathew, Weerawansa, Mervin silva speaking like.

        You heard CM’s speech how a Sinhala Fernando was but and put and sent to Colombo to create 1958 pogroms. This guy Vibhusha is doing that again.

    • 0
      2

      Any form of extremism should NOT be acceptable be it from Tamils of southern sinhalese SRILANKENS:

      May be a tiny fraction among Notherners do behave so, as not many behave in the southern areas respecting those ultra nationalistic thoughts fertilized by those fanatic men. Udaya Gonthadipila, Wimal Buruwanse or anyone who would give fire should fully be banned in srilanka.

  • 2
    5

    “The Tamil Diaspora” supported the ‘killers’ through gratitude for enabling them to secure greener pastures in the West; most of them were forced to contribute. It is stark futile to expect them to assist the ‘victims of war’, despite the fact that these ‘victims’ were those used by the ‘killers’ as a human shield during the last phase of the war referred to. Besides everything else this NGO wallah, while mentioning his list of those who tried and failed in their endeavour to solve the problem of North and East avoids the crucial significance of Mahinda Rajapakse’s role not only in his decisive success in ending terrorism and also his attempt to develop the war ravaged North and East, re-opening schools etc. and above all enabling peaceful and democratic Provincial Council elections.

  • 3
    5

    Jehan, did you check whether that map is one from the land registry or a fake one?

    Tamils talk about colonization of Tamil areas by Sinhalese. They forget the fact that during British colonial rule Tamils colonized Sinhala areas, particularly in Colombo. British provided land for the Tamils who were brought to Colombo to serve them. These Tamils built Hindu Kovils in Sinhala areas. British brought Tamils from India for plantations and settled them in Sinhala areas. Now the government is allocating land and providing houses for these Tamils in Sinhala areas. Yet, Tamils do not want settling Sinhala people in land owned by the Government in the North and Buddhists in that area building temples. Jehan should tell the truth to ordinary Tamils who are brainwashed by Wellala politicians with distorted history.

    If the Wellala Tamil politicians want to keep one third of the country under their control, though Tamils are only 11% of the total population and expect rest of the country to be multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-religion, multi-cultural; reconciliation is going to be a far-fetched thing. Jehan and Chandrika get loads of $$$$s to do the donkey work for their pay masters and deliver goods. Jehan’s writings shows that he is getting jittery about this.

    I think the best thing is to give Eelam and settle the matter once and for all. Out of the total population in the country 11% are Tamils. Moors 5%. Moors also speak Tamil. So give 16% of the land in the North to Tamil speaking people, draw the boarder as a straight line from East to West and put up a wall. Keep only one boarder crossing. Then tell all the Tamil speaking people (Tamils and moors) to move to Eelam and live happily ever after. This should be given as a non-negotiable offer. Take it or leave it.

    • 5
      2

      SLCitizen,

      I suggest you go and fly a kite; you are only good for that! It is better than being a bigot based on complete lies!

      • 1
        8

        I suggest you go hang yourself. It is better than being a supporter of Tamil Nazis.

        • 1
          1

          Taraki,

          You dropped in because the bigot-hat fits you well! Thanks for confirming your bigotry.

          The Tamils will fight for their rights and they are not oppressing anyone. All oppressing is being done by the community you belong. The Nazis label fits you well!

          • 5
            1

            Burning Issue

            The chauvinist types:

            “I suggest you go hang yourself.”

            Think, think carefully.

            Had she been given a command in the Sri Lankan armed forces what would have happened to the rest of the civilians who escaped war?

            Next time around, watch out this could be the person who would torch the first business premises or house if and when there is another organised riots in this island.

            If you don’t hang yourself she will be after you.

            • 3
              1

              NV,

              It is indeed absolutely staggering to see how well the Sinhala people have been inculcated into believing their superiority! There are those who are ignorant and there are those who are devious and unscrupulous in subverting the truth i.e. Vibhushana!

        • 4
          1

          Taraki the male chauvinist

          ” It is better than being a supporter of Tamil Nazis.”

          Can you define Nazis and theoretically explain your analogy to Tamil Nazis.

          Hope you won’t hide behind your grandma/grandchild.

          • 0
            1

            It is better than being a supporter of Tamil Nazis.”

            He should have used Tamil Barbarians.

  • 4
    0

    “………….demilitarisation of the North and East………….”
    This should be a priority, but will not happen, as the Military does not take orders from anyone, even the Commander in Chief.

  • 1
    1

    I agree with you on many of the points mentioned in your article with some reservations and some of the points which I disagree.
    While agreeing with you about the merger of the North and East, what are your views on the secret policy of the government to colonise North and East with Sinhalese and make the Tamils a minority class, so the claim for Federalism by the Tamil would never be raised. The government is using its military to carry out this agenda by building Buddhist viharas and colonising the Sinhalese.If the government had a will to reconcile and to resettle the Tamil people , the army would have left the lands occupied by them under the guise of High Security zones long ago.
    The chief Minister Mr.Vigneswaran of the Northern Province is the first citizen of the Northern Province and he has every right to point out the lapses of the government and the demands of the Tamil people.

  • 1
    2

    Jehan,

    Thanks for a well articulated article.

    It is really a well balanced realistic view.

    If only the moderates on both sides of the ethnic divide
    strengthens the initiative of Jehan!a peaceful resolution is a
    possibility in the short run.

    But from the comments,it seems that this prospect is highly
    unlikely.

  • 0
    1

    [Edited out]

  • 2
    1

    “However it also necessary to realise that the government can only go as far as the majority of people are prepared to go. No government that is elected, and whose mandate has democratic legitimacy, can make political decisions that do not have majority electoral backing.”

    The above sentence clearly illustrates that this government cannot go beyond unitary system because the current govt president and Prime ministers gave promise to the Sinhalese people that any solution should be only under unitary concept.So, Tamils cannot expect more than what we have got. However, Tamils can be satisfied that they saved Sinhalese people from a dictator though they will finally loose their identity, loose their land and there may be some reference in the history books in few decades. It is time for Tamils to go with Sinhalese or convert into Buddhism, learn Sinhala and become Sinhalese or go anywhere in the world rather than being bulldosed in this land.

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

    • 3
      0

      Kasmaalam KA Sumanasekera

      “[Edited out]”

      Excellent

      Thanks for keeping it brief.

      • 1
        1

        Dear Native,

        70 Percent of our inhabitant population are in dire straights.
        But Yahapalana only worry about you guys..

        May be we will have to do a Faarrrq like the Colombians..

  • 0
    0

    [Edited out]

    • 2
      1

      KASmaalam KA Sumanasekera

      “[Edited out]”

      Excellent. How cool on your part.

      Thanks for keeping it brief.

      Do you still suffer from castration anxiety?

  • 0
    2

    After reading the main article and all of the comments contributed, I was unable to regain my composure for a little while. However, in an overview analysis of the subject matter and the perceptions that have crept into the mainstream of Public Opinion shaping, it is a compelling conclusion to state that there is “NO SOLUTION” even in sight. The main STUMBLING BLOCK to even to arrive at the beginning of a pathway, as I see and perceive is: THE PILLAR OF “IDENTITY”; that which has come into being as a result of (1) BELIEFS ( convictions ,principles, and morels) (2) RITUALS (customs, ceremonies etc.) (3) ALLEGIANCES (Loyalty etc.) (4) VALUES and (5) EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCES. All these have blanketed all of us to SEGREGATION and SEPERATISM, leading to TRIBLISM of all sorts viz. “Ethnicity”; “Religion”; “Caste”; “Politics” etc. So unless and until, these “Stumbling Block of Pillars” are MANAGED, this – RECONCILIATION will remain UNMANAGABLE. Therefore the BEGINNING must be to “Manage” that “Unmanageable”. Have we ever given our thoughts to that aspect? Not yet. How about trying that?

    • 3
      1

      Douglas

      Your analysis of the current state of affairs in this island can form the basis for further exploration. I welcome a detail analysis on your short summary.

      By the way in a globalised fast changing world identities are thought to be fluid and moving away from the traditional ones. We can only go back to humanity as our one and only identity, which we should retain at all costs.

      However, you missed one point, which is far more important than any other. The tribalism of the parties and feudal mentality (or arrested development) of its supporters.

      Are the leaders of this island leading the people by example? Lets forget the politicians for a while, the leaders of the community, such as teachers, professors, state functionaries, police, professionals, monks, priests, … above all the parents and the Elders have bigger role to play in the immediate community than the crooks.

      The politicians are being allowed to enjoy absolute destructive powers than necessary. It is time the people claim back their individual sovereignty from the crooks, murderers,…. If we are to have some confidence in democracy politicians must be told in no uncertain terms that they are servants of the people and not the other way round.

  • 0
    1

    Ajith

    Why you are being so pessimistic?

    Yes! Tamils are nito going to get Federalism immediately or even in the short run.

    Does it mean the end of the road for Tamils to live as Tamils in Sri Lanka.

    Unitary and Federalism are at the two extreme ends of a continuum!.

    In between there are many variety of power sharing and devolution!.

    I prefer power sharing to devolution because devolution assumes a unitary center.

    Federalism at present is a dirty word, but power sharing or devolution is not!

    Why not go for a kind of power sharing arrangement closer to federalism.

    Let us be imaginative enough and be optimistic and let it be a little now and more later like what MrSJV. Chelvanayagom saidsome years back.

    Shall we join with those who are for 13 A+ and improve on it patiently and with a religious zeal!

    • 1
      1

      Sri-Krish,

      I am not pessimistic or optimistic. I am realistic. It is good that you agree that Tamils are not going to get Federalism immediately or in the short-term. I would say not only the Federalism but also what also the so called power sharing or devolution. The fundamental issue here democracy which is determined by 75% of the Sinhalese in a unitary system. Under the unitary system the overall decision makers are Sinhalese and they will have the power to change whatever coming under power sharing or devolution as it now. For example, they will have the power to settle Sinhalese colonization in the North without any approval of the power sharing or devolved units agreement. What guarantee is going to be there even if they agree now and later change it again as they removed North East merger and land and police powers. Do you think Sinhalese will agree for land and police powers in the devolution?. The fact is that it is a decision for Sinhalese, not for Tamils. Sinhalese are not going to gain anything from sharing power or devolving power to North. President Maithiri recently in a speech in Jaffna said that the Provinces are created by British and we should forget about that and we are one Nation. He didn’t mention anything about before Foreign invasion the country had different kingdoms and one of them was Jaffna Kingdom. So he is focusing one Nation as previous President. Tamils have only one option. That is keep silence and accept what is given to them by Sinhalese leadership rather than negotiating and wasting time and resources. It is up to the Sinhalese leadership to tell what is good for the country, power sharing is good for the country and ask for their support to implement those changes. SJV Selvanayagam couldn’t get even a litte at that time but Tamils lost lots after his leadership. Tamils have only little bit to loose and even no point to talk about 13A+ or 13A-. Tamils do not need to agree or disagree on what the Sinhalese leadership going to offer through the constitutional change. Tamil political leadership should give up their Tamil politics and let Sinhalese to do the politics to all.

  • 1
    2

    Native Vedda: Thank you for your very valuable input. You brought out a very valid and a relevant factor into our consideration, viz. HUMANITY. This needs a very soul searching analysis and worth doing it for the sake of that quest for a long lasting RECONCILIATION. As you said, I was very brief in my comment in looking into the aspects of “TRIBALISM”. You also brought out the Politician’s role in (of course mentioned in a different terms) in establishing Tribalism among the people. I briefly said this under the heading “Allegiance”, that which must be explained as arising from, deep loyalties you feel towards a family member, friend, authority figure, nation, tribe, ancestor, or any other person, place, or thing whether real or mythical. The question I raised now is: How far our Leaders and other Social Activists are ready to “Manage” these “Unmanageable” traits of “Tribalism” and “Negotiate” on that “Nonnegotiable”. Thank you again for your valuable in-put.

    • 3
      0

      Douglas

      Thanks for your prompt response.

      We will continue to explore on the need to put humanity back into our life.

  • 0
    1

    Ajith,

    What you say cannot be disputed, but even under federalism, the center could control the state through finance and other critical powers still with the center.

    The center could carry out colonization and other discriminatory measures as well.

    Federalism is not the ultimate panacea for non discrimination.

    When we call all Tamils to unite under one banner, we automatically encourage the Sinhalese also to unite. Then the arithmetic of numbers works against Tamil interests.

    Tamil issue was not the dominant issue in every election.

    During the 2015 elections –both Presidential as well as Parliamentary Elections other issues became decisive.

    Even rice issue become decisive as in 1970 elections.

    The country is always divided, not always on ethnic lines. The discordant issues were caste in early 20th Century, low country vs Upcountry Sinhalese during 1920s and later The 1970 and 1977 elections were fought on ideological issues and cost of living.

    Our long term strategy is to keep the Tamil questions in the background and maneuver towards winning our rights behind the scene and also help to keep the issues at the center stage.

    The defeated Rajapakse group is all out to wipe up communalism as a short cut to come to power.

    There is no doubt that rallies similar to Eluga Tamils will support their agenda and let us not fall into their trap.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.