16 October, 2019

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Measures To Reverse Northern Feeling Of Losing Ground

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The political opposition is on the offensive in the North. They are going to the people and highlighting the many failures of the government and its broken promises. However, while they point to the government’s failings, they do not give their own solutions to the problems that the North has. It appears that they have no answers either or they fear that the answers they have will not be to the satisfaction of the Northern people. Chief amongst these are the unresolved issues of the war, which are more and more distant from the minds of people elsewhere in the country, with the exception of the East, which was also a theatre of war. Especially in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings, the attention of most people at this time is to contain potential Muslim extremism. For them the war is a rapidly receding memory, especially for those of the younger generation.

But in the North, the emphasis is on the war, which ended ten years ago. Relatives of those missing still continue with their public protests even as their numbers get less due to the vicissitudes of time and age. The fate of the missing persons is an emblematic issue to the northern people. The numbers who went missing was large, one of the largest in the world at that time, and memories of those beloved do not fade for those who living. The hope that the establishment of an office of missing persons would bring a solution has ebbed as no one who disappeared has yet been found either amongst the living or the dead. There is data being collected more systematically than before, but the results are not out yet.

The government has released most of the land that was taken over by the military to be high security zones during the war. But there still remain significant parcels of land that have not been returned as they are considered to be of long term strategic value. It is alleged that Buddhist temples are being built on these lands. The dispossessed people continue to live in welfare centres which is a constant reminder of the price that the ordinary civilians have had to pay as a result of the war. Those arrested and held without charge many years, even a decade or more ago, on strong but legally unverified suspicion that they had a connection with the LTTE, continue to languish in prisons, again a reminder of the unresolved problems of the war.

Activist’s Question 

The civic activist asked me, when will our problems be resolved. She said with despondency, we are losing all the time. Together with her compatriots she proceeded to enumerate those losses. The ones that have become emblems of the war came first. The recent release by the courts of those accused of the murder of five schoolboys on the beach in Trincomalee amplified the loss of confidence in the Sri Lankan system of justice. Most people are inclined to believe that the courts are on the right track, more independent under the 19th Amendment than they have been in the past, and capable of manifesting the higher values of civilization in their judgments. But here was the evidence of the breakdown of the system of justice when it came to tackling the security forces for an action that amounted to a war crime.

As the meeting I had come to attend in Jaffna was an inter-religious one, there was a focus on inter-religious conflict. On the one hand, there was appreciation of the freedom of expression possible in the present period as compared to the past. In particular, the freedom to protest in public without fear of being made to disappear was acknowledged. However, the existence of this freedom without a strong policy with regard to the rights of one religion to encroach on the space of another, has given rise to a series of conflicts between those of different religions. One such problem that was highlighted was the Hindu-Buddhist conflict in Trincomalee over the building of a temple in the vicinity of the Kinniya hot wells, which according to legend was used by King Ravana.

Another similar flashpoint is in Mullaitivu, again between Hindus and Buddhists, over the rights to land and to build temples. Both of these conflicts have led to the local mobilization of hundreds of people to protest. This is where both the criticism and appreciation of the government comes, as the people feel secure enough to protest against the government, but one that they feel is neglecting their interests and permitting an injustice to happen. It is not only Hindus and Buddhists who are in conflict in the North. In the Mannar district the conflict is between Hindus and Christians over the construction of big arches in front of each other’s places of worship that would signify the dominance of one over the other. In this context, the sense of the people of the North is that they are being left to fend for themselves in situations of conflict, and that the institutions of state are not with them to protect and nurture them.

Devolving Power

The failure of the government to protect the interests of people who feel themselves to be disempowered, means that there continues to be strong support in the North for the increased devolution of power, which is a promise that has not yet been kept. The main rationale for devolution of power is that those who are elected from the province, and who represent the people of that province, can make the decisions, rather than people who are elected by the country-at-large, as in the case of the central government. The main reason for devolution is not economic efficiency but is the ownership of provincial government by the provincial electors. In most of the country, people see the provincial councils as white elephants and as economically inefficient. The political opposition is in favour of getting rid of the provincial council system entirely.

In the North of the country too, the people see the provincial councils as white elephants, bereft of resources and power. But unlike in the rest of the country, the people of the North want the provincial councils to be empowered with more resources and power so that they can make decisions on behalf of the people living there. The Northern Governor Suren Raghaven gives an indication of what might be possible with the provincial councils in terms of addressing the needs of the people. Instead of seeking to confront the central government, as was done in the past, the governor, who is an appointee of the president and hence of the central government, is trying to make the provincial administration work in cooperation with both the local community as well as the central government in dealing with the problems facing the people.

The governor and his team have plans to have an inter-religious conference in the North in which the people will have an opportunity to contribute their ideas as to how should the problem of inter religious conflict be best addressed. At the present time when the powers and resources of the central government are much more than available to the provincial councils it is important that the central authorities should always take steps to consult with the provincial authorities and bring in provincial insights into the planning and implementation processes. This could be the start point to the asymmetric devolution that the North and East wants, and needs, so that their problems may be addressed in a manner that makes the provincial councils a part of the solution.

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Latest comments

  • 15
    2

    No one can deny the mass murders of Tamil civilians or the systematic, deliberate genocide. The war was with the LTTE and local forces, not the civilians. Yet the ultra-racist majority crown the mass murderers with the title ‘war hero’. The vote-begging government doesn’t give a shit about what’s going on in the north or give the protesters an answer. Tamils shouldn’t expect anything positive from any future governments too, unless the president is Mr.Mangala Samaraweera who has quite some sense regarding this matter.

    • 0
      7

      SL K,
      Your frustration is not unique & is easily understandable. Even though the most commonly proposed solution to this frustration is political reforms of various types including devolution of power in order to strengthen political power of minorities, I strongly believe that the most practical solution lies in improving economic independence of families and not by isolation of ethnic groups via regional distribution of political power.

      I’m against the 13 A for following reasons: 1. SL is too small & too poor to adopt a federal type system; 2. SL cultural system is still too bias towards ethnic minorities within any federal body. Minorities will have to face the danger of discrimination as exhibited by Dr Shafi’s case. What is the guarantee for such an unfairness against a Sinhalese Dr in a Tamil or Muslim majority PC & so on? 3. Instead of encouraging social amalgamation in order to cultivate trust among different cultures, seclusion may encourage mistrust, instead. This should be one of the important lesson lesson we all must learn from the Easter Sunday bombing. I’m not advocating to ignore the cultural identity altogether but trying so hard to resist to cultural change can stand as a strong barrier to ethnic harmony. Instead, all social & economic programs must encourage working/living together.

      I believe that SL can achieve less expensive & much more lasting practical solution to the issue of ethnic reconciliation by : 1. Eliminate 13 A altogether. Since 13 A & the Presidency are tied together, this will also eliminate the need for the position of Presidency. 2. Since the language is the biggest sticking point in administrative issues, make it compulsory for all public employees to learn both Sinhalese & Tamil at least until English become the common language – an inevitability in not so distant future! 3. Strengthen/expedite the existing Gvt plans to extend economic opportunities to all corners of the island.

  • 10
    0

    if the provincial councils are t be developed ,first you have to reduce the numbers in parliament of the central government from the current 225 to maximum 100 and cut out all that cafeteria nonsense.The people can’t afford to pay so much for the administration of the country.You have to decide whether you want too much central administration as now,or reasonable central administration coupled with reasonable provincial administration.Provincial administration is very important because you can make quick decisions and implement them by people who are close to the ground situation and the people and not far away in sri jayawardenepura kotte and battaramulla.

  • 10
    1

    The writer ignores the erection of hundreds of Buddha statues even on vacant unused land, along sides of highways and along with Buddhist temples, and a promise of one thousand and more chaityas by one of the presidential candidates.
    Pasture domesticated & agricultural lands are still ‘occupied’ by the armed forces – in the northeast and, ‘identification’ by the Archaeological Department of ‘areas’ of ancient Buddhist civilisation, and the many members of Buddhist clergy who are ‘converting’ sites of Hindu shrines into Buddhist places of worship though there are no Buddhists in those areas. Most livelihoods – agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry, trade etc. have been taken over by the armed forces who have also erected hotels & are running them.
    There is antagonism to ‘remembrance events’ to the many massacres of civilians by police & army in the past..
    The Provincial Councils were foisted on the country by a former PM of India on our President J.R.Jayawardena who ‘invented’ the provincial councils under the Thirteenth Amendment and foisted a whole new horde of local politicians who arrogated more & more privileges on themselves and now exist as unwanted permanent ‘white elephants’ – including ‘Governors’.
    Inter racial, not religious, conferences are necessary.

    • 9
      1

      justice

      “The writer ignores the erection of hundreds of Buddha statues even on vacant unused land, along sides of highways and along with Buddhist temples, and a promise of one thousand and more chaityas by one of the presidential candidates.”

      The London return US congress intern (not Monica Lewinsky) Sajith Premadasa has promised the Mahanayakas he wants to build 1125 Chaitya in the North and East.

      Wimal Sangili Karuppan might chose to build another 1112,500 Chaityas in Jaffna Peninsula alone as service to Buddha. It seems there is no end to the competitive racism which was started by the public racist Banda.

  • 2
    7

    Justice you have ignored something. The erection of hundreds of madrassses and religious schools and the planting of small churches in every Buddhist village by the evangelists. This is simply not right.

    • 5
      1

      @Another July83 victim – is the government erecting all these so called madarasses and small churches? Please enlighten us from your eternal wisdom?

      Also how did you end up naming yourself as a victim of 1983?

      • 1
        1

        TFTN don’t try to be sarcastic, you are not articulate enough. The Government erects nothing but as it is corrupt, it turns a blind eye to those who do.
        Also, how I got my name is none of your business.

  • 3
    7

    “However, the existence of this freedom without a strong policy with regard to the rights of one religion to encroach on the space of another, has given rise to a series of conflicts between those of different religions. “

    North East of the country was the cradle of Sinhala civilization which was destroyed by invading ‘Para Demalu’ from Hindusthan. The problem is Hindus, Muslims and Christians are encroaching into land once belonged to Sinhala Buddhists. Demalu (Hindu and Muslim) are ruining the heritage of Sinhalayo in North and East. Our dumb politicians are turning a blind eye to these things in the name of ‘Sanhidiyawa’.

    • 6
      1

      Eagle Eye,
      The language you speak clearly illustraes truth about Sinhala civilization in the North East. It is the same Sinhala civilzation tell us that Buddhism came from Hindusthan. Buddhism came first Sinhalam came first to this island a mystery. Are you not ashamed of your Buddhism which invaded to this by a rowdy & murderer King Vijaya and his followers. Tamils are happy to welcome Buddhist Temples in the North East but they don’t like the violent Monks who speak vulgar and animalism, Buddhism is far different to the civilization that practiced by Sinhala Monks. The recent video release by a Sinhala minister is an eye opener to the true picture of civilization followed by violent creatures.

      • 0
        1

        Ajith,
        According to latest archeological research findings Buddhism as well as Jainism have existed in Sinhale by the time Vijaya came. King Asoka officially introduced Buddhism to Sinhale.
        We Sinhalayo know that Buddhist temples or Buddha statues are not an issue for ordinary Demala people. It is an issue only for the racist fascist Wellala bigot politicians who thrive by spreading racism among ordinary Demala people. If Demala people want to live in peace with Sinhalayo get rid of racist Wellala politicians.

    • 3
      1

      Wait till the Chinese kick your ASS out of Sinhala Buddhist Territory and you will be eating snakes !!!

    • 4
      0

      Eagle Eye,

      Not only North East but the whole country was the cradle of Dravidian Tamil civilization which was destroyed by invading Kallathoni Vijaya from Hindusthan who came with 700 thugs & criminals from Orissa/Bengal and created a Sinhala race in the Dravidian Tamil Island called Lanka (note that Kallathoni is a Tamil word for illegal immigrants). There is an old Tamil saying “Vijayan odu Vadakil irrindu vanda Paradesi Chingalam” meaning Paradesi Chingalam (Para Sinhalese) who came from North India along with Vijaya.

    • 1
      0

      Eagle Eye,
      Please see:-
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaffna_Kingdom

  • 4
    6

    It is high time to scrap Provincial Councils. If the Northern Provincial Council did a magnificient job to solve the problems of Demala people they should be demonstrating in streets demanding elections. But no one is bothered about NPC elections. Wellala politicians who dominate the NPC spend most of their time in Colombo with Sinhalayo.

    There should be an independent cost-effectiveness analysis on Provincial Councils. Ordinary people think this is an utter wastage of public funds.

  • 6
    0

    Moda Blind Eagle, you moron never tired of writing bogus history like many other liars to legitimise a non existent race. This fear, phobia, uncertainty and inferiority complex is eroding into the psyche of many morons like you. More and more you fantasise and more ground you lose. Ha….your cradle of Sinhala Buddhism in N. & E. What an idiot. Look at the cradle enclosed in your amudey and that is the only truth. The rest are all your fabrication. What a shame. What a disgrace.

    • 0
      5

      Nathan,
      Descendants of slaves brought to this country illegally by Portuguese, Dutch and British are trying to tell the history of Sinhale to Native Sinhalayo.
      Demalu who do not have a history in Sinhale are a ‘LOST TRIBE’. They are neither here (Sri Lanka) nor there (South India). That is the reason why Demalu are trying to grab a piece of land from this country so that they can claim they have a ‘HOMELAND’.

      • 3
        0

        Eagle Eye,

        “Descendants of slaves brought to this country illegally by Portuguese, Dutch and British”

        None of the above what you have written is from any authentic source. Can you please cite some reliable/authentic reference to all what you have written above? Do you have any authentic evidence to prove what you are saying? You are simply hallucinating. Please try to educate yourself from authentic academic sources like reputed historians, research papers, etc. without repeating (like parrots) the blatant lies that some racist Sinhala organizations propagate.

        Other than the British who settled South Indians in the Tea estates (upcountry Tamils), the Portuguese and the Dutch only brought slaves and settled in the South for Cinnamon plantation. You must be one of their descendants now pretending like a full-fledged Sinhalaya.

        Dr. Paul E. Pieris has published extracts from the Portuguese tombo records which gives the original names of the present day Sinhalese with Portuguese surnames before their conversion to Christianity and Buddhism. Dr. Pieris states that the names deserve special attention, even though the majority appear to have been converted to Sinhalese, their native names were also mentioned among them and they all appear to be recent South Indian names.

        Professor K.M. de Silva in his book `A History of Sri Lanka`, refers to the migration of the Karawe, Salagama, and Durawe castes from Southern India to Sri Lanka between the 14th and 17th centuries AD.

        Professor Gananath Obeyesekere (in his book “Buddhism, Ethnicity, and Identity,”) states that “viewed in long term historical perspective Sinhalas have been for the most part South Indian migrants who have been sasanized (converted to Buddhism)”

        There is enough of evidence to prove that the Sinhalese became a majority only after assimilating with the South Indians who were brought by the Portuguese and the Dutch as slave labor.

  • 2
    0

    Ball passing is the name of the game in politics which is rampant in Sri Lanka’s context . Justice delayed is as good as Justice denied. Delay is as hateful as it is dangerous. Government’s ignorance on burning issues related war had well exceeded a decade and the whole world will know that no government in Sri Lanka would take positive initiative to find a solution. By now there are heaps of burning issues cropped up from the rest of the country some of which are quite serious which this government doesn’t seem to have the ability to find lasting solution. Arrival of containers load of dangerous waste cargo is the latest that is jeopardizing the future of the country.

  • 4
    0

    Thambapani, you have not understood who this Blind Eagle aka HDL. Don’t ask from him for facts. If you want concocted kathawas, distorted history, imaginary lion race, original locally manufactured Sinhala badu, well you could ask him and his imagination is sky high. But please don’t ask him for scientific references. He may sometime quote similar minded liars but that is all. Poor guy indeed. But yet he derives happiness so all that matters to him. Why worry about Sri Lankan history or who came first and so on. If there is a history why this man is taking refuge in down under and a burden for the tax payers. Ha…trying to grab a little bit of land in Illankai, what is there to grab, all are sold already by his handler Mahinda the menace. If cheena goes away then Thamil Diaspora May buy the whole island and Blind Eagle will be tapping palmirah toddy in Yaalpanam. There is a mad monk at Neeraviyadi, who forcibly occupied a Hindu kovil area with protection provided by army and creating a big mess there and now that bugger is admitted to Angoda mental hospital. So you can guess where Blind Eagle will end up. Hallucination is the main symptom of schizophrenia and also runs in families. Hope this clarifies the pathetic plight of Blind.

  • 3
    0

    Moda Blind Eagle, according to the hallucinating Mahanama the mythical Vijayan landed in Illankai the day Buddha attained nirvana at Buddha Gaya. Then how can you expect Buddhism to be here in Ilankai already. Buddhism originated the day Buddha allegedly attained nirvana. Moda Blind Jainism too was at the same time as Buddhism. It was even more refined and stricter than Buddhism. No killing at all, vegetarianism, and many more. Buddha asked not to kill cattle because Brahmins were eating them except calves and pregnant cows. By then Jains banned eating meat. Then only Brahmins brought in total vegans. In fact at the age of 80 Buddha apparently died of infected or poisoned pork. So blind, how on earth Buddhism and Jainism was here Ilankai even before Buddha’s time. Moda Eagle, this alone by your own stupid ignorance proves that nature worshiping, ancestors worshiping and Hinduism was in Illankai. Kathirgama kanthan was already there even before Dutte Gamini,who was a murugan worshipper. It was built by Veddas who are the adi vasi of Illankai. Even today they have the Veddas traditions of worshipping at Kathirkamam. Your stupid, blind encroachment does not make true history but used to hoodwink modayas like you and the illiterate monks. Why such modakama. No wonder Illankai in the hands of the blinds is a lost cause and a big joke. Blind Eagle nothing is going to salvage you my poor, ignorant, stupid, idiotic, hallucinating, lying, hoodwinking, misleading , pathetic soul. Neither Murugan or Thirupathiyan, or Buddha, or anyone could salvage you. You guys mislead the poor Sinhalese and then go and hide in the west or down under. Exploitation is the name of the game. Another green card US Seven Eleven Expert is going to lead you guys.

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