11 August, 2022

Blog

July 1983 Pogrom: The Black Week That Devastatingly Impacted Sri Lanka Forever

By Lionel Bopage –

Dr. Lionel Bopage

The political leadership of Sri Lanka has yet again demonstrated that even in the midst of the worst socio-economic and political crisis the country has faced since independence, they do not wish to follow a path of honesty and fairness to end the suffering of the people who put them in power. The leaders who were previously acting like political foes have come together once more in solidarity to safeguard their interests and privileges, rather than working in unison in the interest of the nation. Otherwise, how could the election of a political stooge like Ranil Wickremesinghe as President be explained?

Just as worrying, the protestors have no unified leadership or a concrete set of demands. The groups and individuals in such a decentralised and dispersed movement have competing interests. Historically it is hard to find such a disunited movement achieving success in either winning their demands or being brought to power via elections.

If we do not critically look at the issues that led Sri Lanka into this crisis situation, we cannot have any realistic hope of coming up with credible and lasting solutions the country desperately need. We as a nation also need to understand that the economic issues besetting us cannot be separated from the social and governance issues that perpetuated the crisis in the first place.

There will be no exit strategy unless we build a bridge to genuine reconciliation among the communities across the ethnic, social and religious divide. Otherwise, we will only be moving from one crisis to another with the country even more mired in debt.

Hence, it is worthwhile to see how we as a country got into this mess. The 1983 pogrom was the culmination of a series of violent riots against the Tamils. Two of the more notable ones were in 1958 and 1977 in which hundreds of Tamils lost their lives and property. In each instance the perpetrators of the riots and their political backers were granted impunity for their crimes by the increasingly authoritarian, corrupt and unaccountable political elite who used the poor as scapegoats for their felonies.

Prior to the July 83 riot was the brutal August 77 riot, just a month after the UNP regime was elected in a ‘landslide’ victory with only 51 per cent of the vote. Many Tamils voted for the UNP, especially in the South. Mr. A. Amirthalingam became the Leader of the Opposition as TULF won the second largest number of seats in the parliament. Although the TULF had a solid mandate from the people of the north and east for the formation of a separate state, Amirthalingam was prepared for a negotiated settlement with the government for the Tamil people’s quest for self-determination. However, their optimism was rewarded with a riot, which also targeted the Malaiyaha Tamil workers. Over 300 hundred Tamils were killed and thousands were forced to flee to the north and east. How did the guardians of the law act? They set up a Commission and then nullified its findings by the Indemnity Act of 1982, which gave anybody from Ministers down to security personnel immunity for their actions during the disturbances! Lack of transparency and impunity was the response while the guilty parties got off scot-free, emboldening them, even more, when it came to the 1983 riots 6 years later.

The lessons of 1983 is very clear: a corrupt, inequitable and underdeveloped economic structure of colonial origin is at the heart of most of the crises that have beset the nation of Sri Lanka. Attention is diverted to various ‘scapegoats’, the system’s fundamental flaws unacknowledged, and cultural, linguistic and religious differences take centre stage. The ruling elite, in particular the Rajapaksa clan are experts in this black art of deception. If serious long-lasting change is to occur, then the emphasis should be on the need for radical institutional and economic change to resolve these pressing and festering issues. That is what the protest movement from Galle Face Greens to many other rural protest centres is demanding today.

It is in this light we need to examine what happened during the July 1983 riots.

The July 83 pogrom was the culmination of a series of increasing violent riots against Tamils and it was not simply an ethnic, linguistic or religious issue. These were issues that were created for sustaining the interests and privileges of the ruling elite since 1948 to whose hands the British colonial governance system was handed over. You may see the prevalent system of governance still comprises the socio-economic, political and judiciary constructs and frameworks that the colonialists used.

One of the first acts of the post-independent regime was to disenfranchise almost one million Malaiyaha Tamils (estate workers), effectively making them stateless under The Ceylon Citizen Act of 1948. The Parliamentary Elections Act of 1949 denied them citizenship and voting rights. For the first time a Sinhala majoritarian government took the basic human rights of the Tamil workers away. This step had limitless political ramifications among the non-Sinhala people, and strengthened the trend towards ethnic and racialist politics.

The bourgeois leaders made use of it not only to challenge the growing working-class influence, but also to divert their attention away from the growing socio-economic crisis. This gave an outward expression to the class interests of the “national” bourgeoisie. Harmonised feelings of national awakening against colonial subjugation started unfolding with streams of discordance emanating from diverse ethno-linguistic and religious viewpoints.

Nevertheless, my recollections about the riots targeting Tamils take me back to 1956. The first riots targeting Tamils were reported in Gal Oya, a new settlement in the Eastern Province with 150 reported dead. Then came the 1958 riots that led to an estimated 300 dead, mostly Tamils. With the riots against Tamils becoming more repetitive, the ethnic relations became increasingly inflamed. In 1963, 1977, 1981 and1983, many hundreds of Tamils tortured and killed, thousands of their properties looted and set on fire, and many Tamil women were raped. In each instance, the perpetrators and their political backers were granted impunity for their crimes by the increasingly authoritarian, corrupt and unaccountable political elite, who used the poor as scapegoats for their felonies.

At the time of the July 1983 pogrom, I was General Secretary of the JVP. I saw firsthand the violence and terror that were being unleashed. I was helping out our publications at ‘Shakthi’ Press at Kohilawatta, when I noticed the people on the road and in the vicinity running away saying Tigers have attacked Colombo. I did not have a clue as to what was going on. From the press, I proceeded to the party head office and then home in Kadawatha. On my way, I witnessed many properties that had been already set ablaze and several mobs were attempting to set many more buildings on fire. Some groups were assaulting and torturing individuals. Security forces on the streets did not try to prevent the violence and arson attacks. Following the riots, with a pre-planned script, the regime proscribed the JVP, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka (CPSL) and the Nava Sama Samaja Party (NSSP).

The 1983 pogrom was a methodical attempt by a major section of the UNP and its supporters to destroy the economic, cultural and physical presence of Tamils in the Sinhala majority areas. In every area the attack was carried out with precision. The attackers had been supplied in advance with the details and addresses of the Tamils. The mobs stole the possessions, money and jewellery and burnt the houses of any Tamil they knew of, in many cases incinerating or beating to death the inhabitants of the household. How many died and how many fled this holocaust, the real figures we do not know. Around 150,000 fled from the South to the North and Tamil Nadu.

While the riots were instigated, between 300 and 400 armed Sinhala prisoners massacred 35 Tamil political prisoners who were being held under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in Welikada Prison, Colombo. Two days later on 27 July, this horror was repeated, with another 18 Tamil prisoners being butchered. The inability or unwillingness of President Jayewardene and the UNP to forge a workable settlement for the National Question, mainly due to his eccentric views on the power balance during the peak of the cold war between the West and the East, brought India to the centre of the crisis.

On news media, several leaders of the JVP, including myself, were named as ‘wanted’ as the masterminds behind the riots. In early August, I was detained under Emergency Regulations based on an order made by the Colonel C A Dharmapala, the then Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. After thoroughly searching my house, the security forces took into custody a copy of the Constitution of Sri Lanka, several magazines on foreign trade and philosophy, and an audio cassette of Sangeetha Visharada Nanda Malini’s lullabies. I was held incommunicado at the fourth floor of the CID in the New Secretariat Building in Colombo.

It is claimed that the catalyst of July 1983 pogrom was the ambush of a patrol of Sinhalese troops by the LTTE, resulting in the death of 13 soldiers. The army retaliated by killing around sixty civilians of which nobody talks about. It was never investigated. The dead bodies of the Sinhalese soldiers were publicly displayed in Colombo that initiated rioting. The next day, the guardian angels of the law were strangely absent while armed mobs, equipped with voting lists, were ferried frequently by government lorries. They went systematically to the households and shops of Tamils in Colombo.

I resigned in 1984 from the JVP due to the reversal of their policy on the National Question in July 1983. Until then, the JVP opposed autocratic separation or centralisation as a solution to the national problem. Our solution was based on establishing a constitutional, judicial and political framework that ensure equality, fairness, justice and dignity of everyone resident in the country. As an individual I accept the right of Tamil people to determine their own political destiny. However, this does not necessarily imply advocating for a separate state.

Despite the problems I had with JVP policy and the leadership, I did not desert the party and become a turncoat. It was my responsibility and duty to defend all that we stood for and the membership and followers. I insisted that the CID should arrest the Ministers, Buddhist monks and others who according to the information I had, was responsible and or led the riots. I was detained and kept incommunicado.

Detained with me were many well-known comrades: Dr Nihal Abeysinghe, the current General Secretary of the National People’s Power (NPP), comrade Vijitha Ranaweera, former JVP MP for Tangalle and Prof Athula Sumathipala, whose political views I do not want to discuss here. The investigation of the CID concluded that the JVP was not involved in the July 1983 riots. My wife, Chitra, filed an application for orders in the nature of writs of certiorari quashing detention orders, and Habeas Corpus directing that I be produced before the Court of Appeal. I express my gratitude to late Mr Nimal Senanayake, the then President of the Bar Association and his team of lawyers who appeared for me pro bono.

The unbelievably horrifying Sinhala fanaticism drew more and more Tamil youth to the LTTE. After the riots, an amendment to the Constitution enacted in August 1983 outlawed the advocacy of separatism. As a result, all TULF MPs were expelled from Parliament. This autocratic move of the Jayawardene regime not only deprived Tamils of their democratic right to political representation but reinforced the views of the Tamil youth that the only way forward was an all-out armed struggle for a separate state.

The reaction of the government of the day was revealing. Before the pogrom, President Jayewardene, in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, had this to say:

“I have tried to be effective for some time but cannot. I am not worried about the opinion of the Jaffna people now… Now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion.”

At the end of the day, 2,000 to 3,000 Tamils were killed; nearly 200,000 were made refugees; and over 5,000 properties belonging to the Tamils were destroyed.

While the memory of the riots was still raw, the government, through the Minister of State, stated that all property affected by the pogrom would be vested in the state. In an explanatory speech, he made it known that as the government had spent so much on reconstruction, it would be unjust to hand back the property to its previous owners!

Dr Rajan Hoole, in his meticulous account of who was behind the pogrom (The Arrogance of Power: Myths, Decadence and Murder), singles out a number of UNP luminaries. Foremost amongst them was Cyril Mathew. The trucks used to ferry the goons and the petrol used to ignite Tamil businesses came from the public corporations under the jurisdiction of his Ministry. Others who either participated or turned a blind eye to the use of government property and employees under their control included R. Premadasa, who was Prime Minister at the time; he probably was not physically involved, but his power base was the lumpen elements in Pettah and its environs. Siresena Cooray, Mayor of Colombo and a protégé of Premadasa who filled the Ceylon Transport Board with his thugs; and while there is no direct evidence of involvement of Ranil Wickremesinghe, then Minister of Education and Youth Affairs, his right-hand person Gonawela Sunil and members of his gang did participate in the riots. The result was a tragedy for the country. A bloody thirty-year civil war ensued in which tens of thousands lost their lives.

The lessons are stark and simple. The current crisis and the huge popular protests have made business as usual untenable. The executive presidency that is currently reinforced with extra power needs to be abolished and parliament needs to play the key role in safeguarding people’s sovereignty as their representative body. In addition, all transactions of the political representatives and the bureaucracy at all levels of government need to be made more transparent and accountable, ensure arm’s length operations, and be subject to the rule of law.

Different wings of the government – the judiciary, executive and legislature – need to be separated, with clear defining laws and regulations governing their behaviour. Such separation can be achieved only via adopting a new constitution that is people-centred and would bury the unitarist state and the executive presidency with its base – the 1978 constitution. These are the morals of Black July. Otherwise, they will yet again cover their culpability and venality.

The disparate protest organisations must unite, organise and civilly negotiate their demands for a better, fairer and more inclusive and equitable Sri Lanka. It is time for us to start this monumental national rebuilding political exercise. Otherwise, horrors of the past like the July 1983 pogrom will come back to haunt us again.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 1
    10

    Forget about 83, Tamil lost hope that they will have a justice for your grandpa generation( may be in grave now) raped tamil women who had grown children n 77( sansony commission report)

    • 15
      1

      The govt did not compensate for property, life or pain and suffering. It is the politicians that created these unfortunate situations and the pain, suffering and loss was created by the incompetency of the govt. Still there was no real compensation or recognition.
      Today politicians who cannot really account how they accumulated wealth want govt to compensate for losses suffered on May 9th.
      If you cannot really account how you actually accumulated wealth, can you really say that you lost anything??????

    • 7
      0

      Lankan 100,
      “FORGET about 83, Tamil lost hope that they will have a justice for your grandpa generation (may be in grave now) raped Tamil women who had grown children n 77”
      VERY CONVENIENT FOR YOUR PROGRESS AND EGO??!!
      Therefore. Suggest:
      FORGET that you had 3 meals a day in the past (until now) instead of 1 meal nowadays or none??
      FORGET, that “Petrol and Gas for cooking”, were readily available, when you sought them at Ceypetco Station without queuing for hours and nights, getting ‘heart attacks and dying whilst in the queue’??!!??
      FORGET that Medicine and Baby foods (Milk Powder specially) in plenty to feed your new born baby and is a day dream now?!!
      One must not FORGET the past, but remember it and seek the reasons for the malaise truthfully and correct them for prosperity in the future and move forward??
      What a wonderful resolution to the complex problem or conundrum caused by illiterate, backward few of a larger, decent educated community??!!
      CONTINUE TO BURY THE HEAD IN THE SAND AND GO TO DEEP SLEEP AND SLUMBER!!
      FORGET not Sri Lankan minorities are to be annihilated?!!

    • 4
      0

      “Forget about 83, Tamil lost hope that they will have a justice for your grandpa generation (may be in grave now) raped Tamil women who had grown children n 77” – Justice Sansoni Report
      What an elitist thought of a highly esteemed Buddhist country and community?!!
      Very Noble thought!!!
      ‘BUDDHAM SARANAM GACHCHAMI’

      • 2
        0

        M
        You are picking on someone who never indulged in racist talk.
        The occasion is that of the July ’83 carnage.

    • 5
      1

      1983 riots took place in two stages. It started on Sunday evening from Kanatte. Prior to that bodies of dead soldiers were sent to their homes separately. On this occasion 13 dead bodies were deliberately brought to Kanatte. Inflammatory speeches were made at the funeral instigating people to take revenge. As pre-arranged people went on the rampage after the funeral concluded. But this carnage was confined to Borella along Kanatte Road, Maradana Road and top part of Cotta Road. Only premises were set ablaze, but as it was poya, no killing took place. This was the plan of the government to send a message to Tamils, that if similar incidents occur in the future worse things will happen. When I drove past Borella to work on Monday morning, people were on the road surprised at what happened, but things were quiet. Had JR declared curfew on Monday morning, nothing more would have happened. But Cyril Mathew and others had their plans. At 10 am it erupted again with people carrying steel rods and petrol cans committing arson and murder. Only at 2 pm, JR reluctantly declared curfew.

      • 4
        1

        Curfew was lifted on Wednesday morning, and when I got on to the road, I found it quiet. Next stage of riots took place on Friday, where government was not involved. JVP is guilty for this round of violence. They spread rumour that LTTE fighters have landed in Pettah and are killing Sinhalese., instigating them to violence. People panicked and started running home, even as far as Panadura and Jaela. Most of the murders took place on this day, and Tamils who got on to the road, thinking everything is over, got caught unawares and were killed. Interestingly, Gamini Disanayake went to Nuwara Eliya in a helicopter and released thugs who were in remand instigating them to violence. These thugs were taken into custody by police on the order of Renuka Herath, and Nuwara Eliya did not record any
        atrocities until then. So those who try to paint a picture of Gamini Disanayake as innocent
        please correct it. Worse it every night UNP politicians came on TV and never uttered a word of condolence to affected Tamils.

        • 2
          0

          GS
          “Next stage of riots took place on Friday, where government was not involved. JVP is guilty for this round of violence. They spread rumour that LTTE fighters have landed in Pettah and are killing Sinhalese., instigating them to violence.”
          Some more of your figments of imagination?
          The JVP among others was falsely accused by the government for obvious reasons.
          *
          Can you please cite your source of information, and that will expose the lie.

    • 2
      0

      L 100
      You are picking on someone who never indulged in racist talk.
      The occasion is that of the July ’83 carnage.

  • 7
    4

    The economic issues besetting us cannot be separated from the social and governance issues that perpetuated the crisis in the first place. – Lionel Bopage.
    No, it is not Lionel Bopage who has identified the cause of the present crisis. He is offering his approval to the many who have pointed that out previously.
    The National question should be resolved simultaneously for any redemption.
    … it is worthwhile to see how we as a country got into this mess, recommends Lionel Bopage.
    I differ, for many reasons.
    We know that there is a problem. We have identified the problem. We understand that it needs to be tackled. What good is achieved in spending time on studying how we got into it. Time must be spent on getting out of it, at the earliest.
    (We must know how we got into it to arrive at an answer how to get out of it, may be an argument. But, that is not very profitable. In fact, stirring up old wounds is counterproductive.)

    • 1
      19

      Nathan,
      “The National question should be resolved simultaneously for any redemption.”
      ====
      What is the so called ‘NATIONAL QUESTION’ that should be resolved?

      • 3
        0

        Eagle Eye,
        I am honoured to know that you read what I write also. Thank you.
        Have you read the article? Read the article. That helps.
        Dr. Lionel Bopage has said, “I resigned in 1984 from the JVP due to the reversal of their policy on the National Question in July 1983”.
        See. He speaks on the very subject you are asking about. Properly speaking, it is better answered by him.

      • 1
        0

        Silliness of a fool!!?? Senile decay

  • 15
    1

    I totally agree with the last para of this essay highlighted in bold. Dr.Lionel Bopage is one who has consistently taken a principled stand on the National Question.

    The Veerakesari head quarters at Grandpass was untouched during the Pogrom.
    Reason: JRJ was negotiating to purchase this property; Apparently, his family owned it earlier and he wanted to buy it intact.
    The July 1983 pogrom was planned and executed by JRJ, to satisfy a long felt desire.
    At the end of the day it is the people of this country who are paying for his terror.
    He fancied himself to be a Historian; No doubt his place in History is assured as a man who unleashed the Government machinery on unarmed, defenseless Tamils living amongst the Sinhalese.
    At the same time a good many Sinhalese did their civic duty of protecting the Tamils much to their disadvantage.

  • 4
    23

    “July 83 pogrom was the culmination of a series of increasingly violent riots against the Tamils.”
    —-
    No. July 83 clash between Tamils and UNP thugs was the culmination of anti-Sinhala Buddhist activities carried out by racist separatist Tamil politicians in Yapanaya from 1930s.
    The first riot between Sinhala Buddhists and Tamils were ignited by GG Ponnambalam in 1939 by delivering a racially charged speech at Nawalapitiya ridiculing Mahawansha and denigrating the Sinhala-Buddhist culture, its history and the people. SJV Chelvanayakam started the separatist campaign officially in 1949 by forming a racist political party called Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi (toned down as Federal Party in English but the real meaning was Tamil State Party) which had as its hidden agenda the establishment of a separate state.
    1958 clash was ignited by Tamils attacking Sinhalayo who lived in Yapanaya after the Government changed the English letters in car number plates to a Sinhala letter ‘Sri’. Tamils who had no problem with English letters did not want a Sinhala letter.
    July 83 clash was ignited by Tamils killing 13 members of the Sri Lanka Army using mines.

    • 17
      1

      1983 was a culmination of uneducated Sinhala ignorance ( the educated Sinhalese tried to protect as much Tamils as possible without getting into trouble) but their numbers were low and far between. Sinhala Buddhist greed and welfare culture that they think they are entitled to what others have worked hard to earn gave rise to looting and their inherent jealousy gave rise it the destruction.

      With all this the Sinhala Buddhist only royally screwed themselves. Look at the pathetic state the country is in. I don’t need to tell about the people that left as most know. Today their next generation are professionals with financial and political clout around the worls.

      • 7
        1

        Bert

        “1983 was a culmination of uneducated Sinhala ignorance ( the educated Sinhalese tried to protect as much Tamils as possible without getting into trouble) but their numbers were low and far between.”

        I beg to differ.
        I personally knew those who saved Tamils were a mixed bag of Sinhalese. Education has nothing to do with humanity.
        Those most atrocious massacres and genocide were committed or instigated by the so called Educated or Middle class members of the society.

        For example do you consider Dutta Gamani Nayakka an educated gentleman? For that matter Chana Jayasumana, Dhinesh, ……. Banda Nayakka, …

        Please don’t fall into the traditional trap.

        “Today their next generation are professionals with financial and political clout around the worls.”

        You are right.
        However you cannot make those Tamil Diaspora to agree on anything. That would be an asset for the Sinhala/Buddhists. Keep the Tamil Diaspora divided, …….

        By the way let Sinhala/Buddhists keep digging, the country will never return to normalcy. As a consequence it appears Hindian High Commissioner will be re-designated as the Governor of Sri Lanka.

        By the way Wimal Sangili Karuppan Weerawansa is up to his old failed Sinhala/Buddhists tricks again, he has found evidence that Tamil Diaspora is sending an bunch of armed men to divide the country. Desperate people (including the Educated ones) might buy what he is trying to sell now.

  • 2
    23

    Dr. Bopage,
    You are making a desperate attempt to clean blood-soaked hands of racist separatist Tamil politicians in Yapanaya who are responsible for all the clashes between indigenous Sinhalayo and Tamils starting from 1939, passing the Vaddukoddai Resolution with a totally distorted history of Sinhale/Sri Lanka to create a separate State for Tamils in the North grabbing land belong to Sinhalayo in NE, declaring war against the Government of Sri Lanka and Sinhala Nation, urging Tamils to take up arms and fight until their objective is achieved and promoting Tamil terrorists who massacred Sinhala Buddhists for three decades by putting the blame on successive Governments after independence and Sinhalayo.

  • 8
    2

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

  • 19
    5

    Lanka has never been the same after 83 pogrom. It just went from bad, worse to real ugly. ( what we see now).. Will the nephew finish off , what his
    A. Hole uncle started?.

    • 2
      0

      How do you forgive or forget this?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOWCojXohk0

      People or Tamils around the world are still rightfully cursing the Sinhalese and Sri Lanka. The country which Lord Buddha Visited is cursed and it gets politicians it deserves.

  • 9
    1

    “The disparate protest organisations must unite, organise and civilly negotiate their demands for a better, fairer and more inclusive and equitable Sri Lanka. It is time for us to start this monumental national rebuilding political exercise. Otherwise, horrors of the past like the July 1983 pogrom will come back to haunt us again.”

    Amen to that!

    Have to get rid of the current lot of politicians: the utterly morally corrupt 225 and then some hangers on

    Start with a clean slate.

    As Ranil and the 225 showed in the recent parliamentary election for president …….. no change of the “system” will come from them. They will always safeguard the status quo that is beneficial/advantageous to them.

    The argument that the “new” do not have experience is ridiculous beyond belief! ……… Look what the “experienced” pols did: bankrupted the blooming country! ……. Can the “new” do any worse than that?

    • 4
      0

      There is a saying, ” What goes around will come around. ” That’s what happening now in Sri Lanka. Ranil’s party is responsible for the 1983 riots against Tamils. However, many who have left since then (over one million Tamils) are happily settled abroad. J.R., at that time, was also encouraging airport officials to allow people to go abroad, thinking he could solve the minority problem to some extent. Today, to the contrary, mostly Sinhala youths are being harassed, beaten, jailed, and to be prosecuted by his nephew Ranil for asking for justice, fair play, food, and all other necessities

  • 2
    3

    they do not wish to follow a path of honesty and fairness
    —————–
    Because they are tares (serpent seeds of cain) and/or freemasons

  • 4
    2

    This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

    For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

    • 4
      2

      TUCO Eagle Eye

      Whats your take on Aragalaya?
      Are they a bunch of terrorists bent on dividing the island?
      What are doing to stop the division.
      Do you think another mother of all riots against Tamils and Muslims might help to stop the division?
      Wimal Sangili Karuppan Weerawansa is working on it.
      Won’t you give him a helping hand?

  • 14
    1

    As Lionel Bopage points out that no community suffered, and still suffering, in Sri Lanka since independence than the Tamils. This has caused immense damage to Sri Lanka as we witness today.

    Will the political writers like Tisaranee, Kumar David, or Dayan Jayatilake go into these basic factors that brought about bankruptcy and social unrest instead of bringing quotes, Marxism Leninism and all the rest?

    Sinhala Sri Lankan rulers brought the country on its knees by their cruelty to Tamils: They drove out more than a million intellectual capital, financial capital, competitiveness, entrepreneurship and hard work of Tamils who are now thriving in the West. Killing Tamils, driving them out and grabbing Tamils’ wealth will never bring prosperity to the Sinhalese, if that is what they want.

    • 7
      2

      It started with the disenfranchisement of the Indian origin estate Tamils and the settlement of Sinhalese in Tamil areas( Gal Oya, Kantalai in the east) by DS Senanayake soon after independence, then came SWRD Bandaranaike followed by his weeping widow with their Sinhalese onlyto deny Tamils employment in the public service, standardisation of marks, and regional basis, to deliberately prevent Tamils from entering universities and the Sinhalese Buddhist only constitution. The deliberate burning of the Jaffna library the oldest and one of the most significant in Asia in 1981 followed by the planned July 1983 anti-Tamil state pogrom by the then president JR Jayawardene government, the uncle of the current president, who was also a cabinet minister, during that government and also part of the DS Senanayake family and everything that followed, laid the foundation for the formation of the LTTE and other Tamil militant groups, Indian intervention and also the foundation for what happened in Mullivaikal and NandiKaddal.

      • 5
        2

        The third Sinhalese family that ruled the island after the Senanayake and Bandaranaickes, the Rajapakses completed what they had started and further increased the anti-Tamil hatred/discrimination and Sinhalese Buddhist racism and nationalism towards the minorities, especially against the Tamils for their own political and economic benefit. In the name of Sinhalese and Buddhism, they also swindled and ruined the economy in a big way, compared to previous regimes. Have the Sinhalese or even the Muslims, who are in reality ethnically Tamil but choose a different identity in the name of their religion and were their former allies in this anti-Tamil dance gained anything in the long run from this deliberate marginalization of the island’s Tamils? The answer is no. They are now repeating the evil and hardship that they had deliberately made the Tamils suffer, thinking that prosperity will come to them, on the back of marginalized Tamils. Prosperity never arrived but only severe hardship. A good lesson. Prosperity only comes through hard work and merit and not by marginalizing and denying another people, who also have lived on the island for thousands of years and had their own homeland, their just rights.

        • 2
          0

          Sorry not repeating but reaping.

      • 3
        1

        “It started with the disenfranchisement of the Indian origin estate Tamils.”
        True, but duid not Tamil MPs play an important role in that?
        By the way, nobody with any respect for Hill Country Tamils calls them “estate Tamils”.
        *
        “…and the settlement of Sinhalese in Tamil areas”
        Incidentally, Philip Gunawardane was hostile to DSS’s colonisation schemes.
        When did the Tamil political parties wake up to it, but for ritual statements by the FP.
        The first concrete step was by Gandhiam in the 1970s.
        Have you wondered why the Jaffna landless were not encouraged by the Tamil leaders to take advantage of colonization schemes, even as late as the 1960s when land was on offer in the Trincomalee and Vanni regions?

  • 4
    1

    “Hence, it is worthwhile to see how we as a country got into this mess. The 1983 pogrom was the culmination of a series of violent riots against the Tamils.”

    Variants here differ Auther sir. They begin with the killing of the 13 Soldiers and always recount history from a point of convenience not expecting the pages to be turned back further. Such intelligence !

    If you differ they will lie, dubb you a separatist and bring division even if you want to live in harmony. I just wish the 40 year July ich has not just begun. I know the soothsayers are quite concerned, while the servants simply heed the masters.

    • 0
      4

      The 40 year itch is needed to cover the defeat. Didn’t they defeat the ‘world’s fourth largest army’? I remember their boasts well. Nobody will help them after this https://twitter.com/search?q=%23OPPawan

      • 1
        0

        Your itch has just begun. Enjoy. Nobody seems to be helping. World Bank refused any help. Japan is suspending all financial assistance. German/ EU is threatening to cancel preferred trade partner status. IMF is not planning to release any dole soon. Keep looking up for “world’s fourth largest army” to drop food.

      • 1
        1

        S
        No they did not , Agree a nation being divided is not good.
        The 4th largest army retreated in their wisdom not to suppress by numbers and weaopons,which would be bullying !
        The democratic world that patrolled the seas because of VPs nonsense. Some conditions given the democratic word that were broken later.
        To win a battle and loose the war for national leadership is to lose. Countries gave UK south African experience to give example.
        Real heroism would have been take another country that ruled them and win, not kill youth ever 40 years and call it victory!!!! . Its called a pyrrhic in the devoloped world it normally causes guilt and consequences. Thats the concern but if this feels good vote for it.

  • 0
    3

    “The leaders who were previously acting like political foes have come together once more in solidarity to safeguard their interests and privileges, rather than working in unison in the interest of the nation……….

    Just as worrying, the protestors have no unified leadership or a concrete set of demands……………

    If we do not critically look at the issues that led Sri Lanka into this crisis situation, we cannot have any realistic hope of coming up with credible and lasting solutions the country desperately need……………….

    These were issues that were created for sustaining the interests and privileges of the ruling elite since 1948 to whose hands the British colonial governance system was handed over……………………

    This step had limitless political ramifications among the non-Sinhala people, and strengthened the trend towards ethnic and racialist politics………………..

    In each instance, the perpetrators and their political backers were granted impunity for their crimes by the increasingly authoritarian, corrupt and unaccountable political elite” ………….

    In my comments I cannot discuss all the points present in the essay, but I have listed a few which influenced my comment.

  • 2
    4

    While Ceylon is in a competitive, market economy, it is not viable to isolate a group like Tamils and punish them economically and/or politically. Furthermore, arguing against the maxim that democracy and market economy are interwoven, does not bear any fruit, either. Lionel wanted to talk about Black July 83. He wanted to talk about Protest July 22. That is a 3D operation of a skilled pilot who maneuvers his plane up in the sky. Black July was a premonition of Protest July 22, but not a direct cause. The birth of Sinhala Buddhism is a direct cause of Ceylon’s current problem. Protesters are more correct in calling for the change of the culture of politics to fix Ceylon, than those who suppressed the protest with the fear mongering of “Anarchy” glooming over Ceylon. Those who created the fear were the direct agents of UNP-SLFP politics. Unlike Lionel trying to interpret, Britain was born out of colonial minded Monarchy administration, which existed for centuries. Australia is also a colonial country. 1931 Universal Franchise was introduced to Ceylon by the colonialist, Britain. After having elected dictatorship for 75 years (from 1948), now blaming colonialists is only taking one down to Ranil level politicians and killing their real life’s experience and academic education worthless.

  • 3
    2

    Today, a British person of Indian origin is competing for the PM position. Last few years, there four PMs resigned. Their democracy is progressing & income per capita is increasing while in Ceylon, democracy & income are regressing. They why Ceylonese are blaming the 90 years past “Colonial” administration for Ceylon’s miseries. That is the case with Australia, Italy, and few other democracies, the PMs are repeatedly resigning as they not accepted by the people. It is only in Ceylon that con artists constantly maneuver for MP, minister, PM & EP positions for money making. From 1931 to 1947 Ceylonese convulsed to turn democracy into majoritarian dictatorship. From 1953, Democracy was successfully turned into racial machinery for money making by the elites. After June 9th, Ceylon is turned into an Escobar’s camp for the criminals’ families to hide, officially, with diplomatic immunity. Not just Royals, but even Ranil’s pending cases are being canceled. There is no longer anybody in the government with a mandate to continue to rule. Ranil and Royal captured the government with a coup, not with any election after people’s protest dismantled the 2019 government.

  • 4
    3

    Unless Protectors win within a brief time in outing Ranil, International governments should have authority to invade and arrest the rogues hiding under fake, non-existing diplomatic immunity, like Gadafi, Nodriago, Sadam, … because the rogues have hijacked the Ceylon’s government.

    The protest faced another attack from unscrupulous writers like Thisaranne Gunasekara, Prof. Kumar, Thero de Silva, who changed rules in the middle of the game. Protest was started to bring a cultural change by ousting the whole government and to put an end to UNP-SLFP cycle. At the start these authors pretended to be like that they were with protesters, but on the minor victory of ousting Mahinda, they wrote that anarchy was going to set in so the protesters must withdraw so Parliament can exert its control to restore the UNP-SLFP politics. Most of these authors are only Ranil admirers or Royals admirers or opportunistically admire both. These writers helped the elites and Royal to regroup and cleverly protect them and weaken the protest. Parliamentarians hoping for IMF, India, China handouts willingly regrouped to claim their pound of flesh in the handout hoping for.

  • 3
    3

    Democracy and Capital market are never for equal opportunity, automatically. Unprotected democracy easily gives way to dictatorship and or functions as majoritarian rule. Same way, con artists and neo feudal lords make the competition into their milking cow. So, equality & justice are only present in democracy if the laws that country enacts are reflecting the purpose of democracy. We wrote here many times that a monarchy country follows the path of the king and democratic country follows the path of the people. Don Stepen showed what a low-grade birth he was by punishing the poorest people, the Malaiyaka Tamils, the only group that was earning foreign exchange for Ceylon. Then what was the reaction of the people? What happened to S29, the minority protection? Section 29 was inserted by colonial rulers. But the Ceylon Supreme Court did not want to enforce it. Same way the 13A, which was giving the land, justice and merging of North East to Tamils. 13 A was inserted by India. The successive governments are refusing to implement it but calling Tamils for fake negotiations.

  • 3
    2

    If Tamils do not have the authority for justice themselves, then how can they ever seek justice from another Citizenship act in future? That is where communal riots that took place in Lanka and the fake commissions appointed to investigate. The examples of impunity to protect Sinhala rulers from all laws are abundantly present from Don Stepen to Ranil Wickremasinghe, in the present in Ceylon. The Ceylonese, wishing to have freedom from the ruling class, have only one way, that is educating themselves. Reaching mental Maturity, advancing their education, and caring for one another are the only civilization norms that can help a multi community to reap the benefits of democracy. Authoer investigated Sinhala-Tamil pogroms took place after freedom and specifically the Black July 1983 very thoroughly, for a small essay like this. But he did not achieve any sophistication in his presentation or conclusion to connect the racial riots to the downfall of Sinhalese.

  • 4
    2

    Let us put some outlines to bring matters more obvious, because space will not allow substantiating arguments, and it is unwanted for the Crystal-clear points.

    Here they are:

    Protest did not fail; it will not fail. It is not over. There is ample time to achieve victory because people will support political protest until the economy recover. That will take another 10 years. There is already $55B must be paid and this will beyond 2035, if things get better.

    The protesters have nothing to do with all the small scale of non-interconnected or unorganized violence took place. They must be fully reprieved and exonerated from all fake accusations.

    Nevertheless, the fear of an unbearably long protest with the short object of exiting from hunger can turn into a very violent insurrection has some foundation.

    The souls of 1953 Hartal, 1970s JVP’s insurrection, 30Year Tamils’ war and 4/21 Muslims discontentment still wandering without reaching final rest. They will reappear if the Ranil’s government leaves the people hungry and caring to protect the Royals by borrowing further from China & India.

    Economy cannot be restored within 10 years. Chances are that it keeps slipping until Sinhala Intellectual politics hits a major, major, unbelieve disaster.

  • 3
    2

    International governments should not recognize that the Ranil’s government, which is without any mandate from the people, planning to borrow further from India and China and sink the Ceylon community further into debt. Ranil and Gotabaya should be investigated at Hague for July 9th incidents, with Mahinda, because they too took part in the planning of it. People failed to oust Ranil by election. They failed to get rid of him by peaceful protest. If the international community also gave them up, then violence would return, because it was nothing new for Ceylon, not something introduced by the protestors.

    Every parliamentarian whose property was damaged by the July 9th rioters must be investigated to find out specific reasons for people showing that much anger against them.

    Protestors’ path is the only Solution for long term rebuilding of Ceylon, that is vacating all 225+1 MPs from politics and barring them not to participate in any contest for political office, for a minimum of 10 years. (Leaders permanently. 19A’s halfhearted, eye Washing barring of the Royal family only created more damage but was not effective. JR’s barring of Sri Ma O was more effective, in 1980s.)

  • 4
    3

    North East and Up-country Tamil parties must clearly and openly tell Sinhala masses and international community that a solution for the current situation is possible by a solution to the race relation in Ceylon. An open, frank dialog is possible only by Sinhalese make the protesters achieve their objective, I.e., clanging the political culture by alienating the UNP-SLFP recycling system. That is something Sinhala Masses responsibility and they should fulfill it.

    When protesters have cleaned the current political culture, Tamils should come forward to negotiate with them for a permanent solution. (That we will do). Negotiating with protestors cannot bring any changes on Tamils pursuing the war crime investigation at UNHRC. If the Sinhala Community could not change political culture by supporting the protestors, Tamils will be following UNHRC as the only means of redress for them. That means, they will not negotiate with UMP-SLFP gilmarts, but once the Genocide criminal are prosecuted, they will exercise their right to self-determination. (That is the current strategy they are following. There will be a change in that if the Sinhala masses support the protestors them to achieve victory)

  • 1
    3

    There is a saying in Tamil: “ பானையில் உள்ளதுதான் அகப்பையில் வரும்” (What’s in the pot comes in the ladle). We wrote this many times here. Sinhala masses, as they are now, can bring only what is now it is at. Blaming protesters has no relevance here. There are two things we normally do not want. 1). Doing the wrong thing. 2). While doing the right thing it is failing without generating expected results. We expected the protest to be successful. But if we are suspecting that it would fail in time, the only thing to do is to increase the support of the communities to the protesters and ensure they will be successful. Few years back (at the start of 20th century) it was noticed that the Pisa tower had started to fall. There was nothing wrong with the main engineering concept used to build the Tower. But a small part of the engineering, the land selection, had gone wrong. International teams put counterweight on the opposite side and have halted the falling. The protesters counted on the Ceylon community which failed to act right for 90 years. Even as late as 2015 election time, we wrote here for the JVP to withdraw from the election and start to educate the masses.

  • 1
    3

    But sadly, JVP followed Sampanthan Aiyya’s path, voted for Yahapalanaya candidate, sat in opposition, and voted for Defense Budgets. What an amazing decision these political parties are taking! In November 2014, when the election budget was presented by Chitanta Government, Sunil Handunnetti condemned the ugly trickiness of that election budget by describing the conversation that took place in his house. Why couldn’t JVP act on the information that they analyzed and presented? The same situation was in the 2006 Budget too. JVP voted for a wrong budget only to protect the UNP-SLFP cyclical governments.

    Ranil is showing an extremely poor understanding of the Ceylon Economy and its interconnection with the world. That Evil Modaya promised in the 2015 election campaign to make China go back on “Colombo Pong Cing” deal. For that mistake, China made him pay a $300M fine. (China made Gotabaya to pay $7M on import of China Hunu. That is not yet over, thoug). Then China confiscated the Hangbangtota Harbor and five Villages spread of land from Ranil. Compare the understanding of that of that time opposition leader, later PM and President Ranil with Hindunetti’s understanding of the country’s situation in Nov 2014. Ranil is once again working with Palitha Hohana to borrow more from China.

  • 1
    3

    Once the $4B deal with China is over, Palitha will be coming out as one of the richest men in Ceylon. Other than these hanky pankies, there is no solution with Ranil for any problem, whether it is racial relationship, or the economy or even to protect Royals from UNHRC. He was brought to power by the terrible brothers. He will not go to the IMF. He will keep fooling the masses as he is negotiating with the IMF and at the end he will borrow more from China and leave the country in China’s hands.

  • 1
    3

    We wrote here that the country will take 10 years to return back to 2019 status. The 6.9 M people who voted for Gotabaya have already forgotten what life was like in 2019. That is good for Ranil to keep fooling the masses as the country has surpassed the title of “Wonder of Asia”. Further they will never come to know it was Mangala’s Foreign Exchange Fraud Amnesty Act that started the dollar exchange rate to take rocket speed. Right or wrong, it is in CT that we predicted the Dollar to pass 300-mark at the end of 2018. The Ranil government borrowed a lot. Kept $7B in reserve. That is how they fooled the international community from starting to get alert of the Rupee value. Now the loan term has expired. No reserve in exchange account. Country defaulted on the payments. Now the people are standing in line for everything. This is going to affect the productivity and income of the people badly. That is going to turn into a vicious cycle. One possibility is Ceylon is going to be seen as one like Old Colonial Bengal, or Haiti, Ethiopia like countries that failed to come out of the famine which repeatedly attacked them for centuries.

  • 1
    0

    S
    “The 40 year itch is needed to cover the defeat. Didn’t they defeat the ‘world’s fourth largest army’ ?

    No. Do you think so ? , Agree a nation being divided is not good.
    The 4th largest army retreated in their wisdom not to suppress by numbers and weaopons,which would be bullying !
    The democratic world that patrolled the seas because of VPs nonsense. Some conditions given the democratic word to keep it together. That was broken later.
    To win a battle and loose the war for national leadership is to lose. Countries gave UK south African experience to give example.
    Real heroism would have been take another country that ruled them and win, not kill youth every 40 years and call it victory!!!! . Its called a pyrrhic in the developed world it normally causes guilt and consequences. Thats the concern but if this feels good in pride enjoy the leadership.

  • 1
    0

    BTW……..The SL army did not fight the Indian army but largely worked together to fight the LTTE . Thats the role of a peace a keeping force.(IPKF)

    False pride doese not help future generations to come in my humble view.

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 5 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.