25 June, 2021

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“Mlechcha Yuddahaya” Or “Shreshta Yuddaya”? Barbaric War Or Great Patriotic War?

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Deconstructing Independence Day Discourse 2015

Independence Day 2015 had several key texts and speeches, all of which constitute a single discourse. There was President Sirisena’s written message and that of the PM. The President’s message was fine but the PM’s failed to mention the armed services even once. More important was the multilingual Peace Message, which was a good gesture. There too however, certain terms were conspicuous by their absence, the most crucial of which was separatism or secessionism. Terrorism was denounced, but the war used terrorism in the service of secessionism. Is the message then that terrorism is bad but secessionism is OK or not bad enough to warrant critical mention on Independence Day? Is this not exactly the perspective of the TNA, namely that it criticizes the methods of the LTTE but not its politics and goal?

Missing in the Peace Message—and not only in—was any mention of the term ‘unitary’. That term was not present at any point of the Independence Day discourse including in the well-delivered speech of President Sirisena. The signal—and the deal—are very clear, at least to me. The new administration will, most certainly after the parliamentary election, make a qualitative shift from the unitary state to one that is federal in all but name. Given that we have already experienced the travesty of the unconstitutional installation of an unelected Prime Minister and Government, the shift to de-facto federalism will probably be without recourse to a referendum.

To some this may seem a risk worth taking, but there are sound historical and geo-political reasons why many countries with an internal, or more correctly, an internal-external ethnic or ethno-religious problem refuse to shift to a federal system (Philippines and Indonesia being examples). It is also not purely coincidental that most islands situated next to a larger (or large) mass of historically hostile co-ethnic or co-religionists of one of its component communities, tend to cleave to unitary systems.

While President Sirisena made many good points in his speech about the need for reconciliation, and struck a note that President Rajapaksa should have but failed to strike in the postwar period, he saddened and alarmed me when he used a certain term twice, not just the once, in his speech: “mlechcha yuddhaya”, which means “ barbaric war”. Now it is true that war is at one level barbaric (with the only modern exceptions being those fought by Cuba) but it is wrong to characterize a war as barbaric when it crushed a barbaric enemy and reunified the country. What President Sirisena should have referred to as barbaric was the LTTE, its leader, its terrorism and its terroristic war: “mlechcha koti sanvidhanaya”, “mlechcha thrasthavaadaya”, “thrashavaadeenge mlechcha yuddhaya”, “mlechcha thrasthavaadee yuddhaya”. He did not use any of these terms. Instead he twice referred to the war as barbaric.

So, logically, it would seem that our armed forces fought a war that was barbaric! In President Sirisena’s Independence Day discourse, this war was not a great patriotic one; not a Just War of resistance that was imposed upon us that we should be proud to have won, and that our armed forces won. According to the new discourse, this is not a Just War whose victory and victors must be celebrated!

Of course we have heard this before. The term “mlechcha yuddhaya” (‘barbaric war’) comes from the author of “bahubootha vyavasthava” (‘nonsensical Constitution’), namely President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and it dates back quite precisely to the Sudu Nelum Movement of Chandrika and Mangala Samaraweera.

It is hardly surprising that with such an ambivalent attitude Chandrika failed to win the war. It is also hardly surprising that without such ambivalence, Mahinda Rajapaksa did.

What is surprising is that it was ex-President Chandrika who was seated next to unelected Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, the co-signatory of the appalling document of appeasement, the Ceasefire Agreement. What makes it shocking was that Chandrika and Ranil who failed their nation in its darkest hour in the face of its most dangerous foe—dangerous by any global standard—were present in the front row, while ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa, who did not fail that most crucial test, was absent.

Let us be honest enough to look the phenomenon in the face. The brave new values, ideology and doctrine, are the old ones of Chandrika and the Sudu Nelum Movement, the union of regions package, the Norwegian mediation and the PTOMS, now allied with Ranil and the attitude of the CFA. This of course should be no surprise as these enterprises were all on a continuum.

The truth at least for the moment is that Chandrika and Ranil won. Che Guevara once said of Rosa Luxemburg that “she was a great revolutionary who made mistakes and died as a consequence of them”. We may say that Mahinda Rajapaksa was a great President, a great leader who made mistakes and fell as a consequence of them. In that precise and strictly limited sense his loss was deserved. That is very much in the tradition of the tragic hero who falls because of his tragic flaw; Hubris meeting Nemesis. This evokes ‘fear and pity’ in the Aristotelian sense. However, there is no real sense of catharsis, or there is an aborted or at best, incomplete one. That is not because the tragic hero fell, which they almost always do, but because the utterly un-heroic characters in the drama won. Chandrika and Ranil have undeservedly won, but won they have. They have won with the help and in the company of those who were fellow travellers of the fascist Prabhakaran, the TNA. Those who heroically resisted the siren song of terrorist separatism, Douglas Devananda and the EPDP, and those who rebelled against it no less heroically, Karuna and Pillayan, have lost.

It is the Chandrika-Ranil project of the dark disgraceful decade 1994-2004, the decade of national retreat and humiliation that is now enthroned, together with the political project of those Tamil nationalists who paved the way for and politically accompanied the Tigers.

Society will be divided for a long time between those for whom it was a “mlechcha yuddhaya”, a barbaric war, and for those of us for whom it was a “saadharana yuddhaya”, a “shreshta yuddhaya”, a Just War; a great patriotic war of liberation and reunification.

It is no accident that Independence Day this year lacked the stirring, slightly spectacular quality of those on Galle Face in previous years. The whole affair was downgraded, devalued, and the crowd was quite small and unenthusiastic. I particularly recall by contrast February 4th 2006, when the Tigers had unilaterally recommenced their war of aggression and annexation, launching what their propaganda called The Final War. Followed by a strong military display, President Rajapaksa warned them not to mistake his forbearance born of Buddhism, for weakness. That marked the beginning of the end of Prabhakaran’s own “Independence Day” celebrations, the Mahaveera Day, which used to be televised nationally by the mainstream media and even uploaded via state media (Rupavahini). Such was the degree of divided sovereignty, the diminution of the Sri Lankan State and the erosion of our collective self-respect as a nation.

These were precisely the years of Chandrika and Ranil. And they have won. Those who won the war have lost to those who sold out. This is not the way things should be. There is something unnatural, ethically wrong, about this state of affairs. This is a state of moral disequilibrium. Natural justice must be restored.

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    Tamils have strong memories about pre 1983 racial riots unleashed against innocent people because we were Tamils, Those barbaric acts perpetuated by Srilankan state since 1948 will not leave our psychic forever. Barbarism was unleashed against Tamils not vice versa. How many articles you have written about ethnic problem in Srilanka since 1948, you have not got any idea about how Tamils feel living under the boot of sinhala race.

  • 5
    21

    Dr. Jayathilleka

    I always read your articles with great interest. I agree with you that justice should be restored. The traitors that tried to sell our country are back at it again to repeat the treacherous acts a second time around after President Rajapaksa, whatever his faults may be, did one thing no body can deny. He kicked the terrorists asses in to ‘heaven to enjoy the 1000 vergins’. We must make sure that they stay there and enjoy their hard earned gains. From the comments below we see that the terrorists are beginning to stirr again.
    Did you ever think of Leading a political party in Sri Lanka. You will have many followers

    • 7
      1

      Navaratne

      “He kicked the terrorists asses in to ‘heaven to enjoy the 1000 vergins’.”

      I am not sure whether the terrorists were Jihadhis. By the UNP during 1987 – 1990 too kicked a lot of terrorists asses. Are those terrorist in heaven enjoying the 1000 virgins?

      “Did you ever think of Leading a political party in Sri Lanka. You will have many followers”

      He too had a party in 1988 and was elected to North East Provincial Council, it was widely alleged by ballot rigging, helped by then comrades in arms Eelam Separatists EPRLF and IPKF.

      “Did you ever think of Leading a political party in Sri Lanka. You will have many followers”

      When he has supporters like you he doesn’t need critics.

      • 8
        0

        how can wars be great patriotic knowing innocient had to sacrific the lives as is the case in every war in general ?

        This man’s is making every effort to twist the words and encourage the readers to make thinking the other way around – how can we be that malicious in national issues if we bear healthy mind sets ?

      • 4
        0

        Assume – DJ would be appointed as high profile man for the ministry of EA – offering the role of Sajin Vaas but in an another dimension ? Can anybody please explain – how would DJ react ?

    • 9
      2

      Omg – man you are fallen from the sky ?

      Had you been in touch with the set of DJ archives that are filled with all inconsistencies – not handful of people would support the man. Anyways, what matters is the thoughts and minds of the majority. Just taking it an example – not even 5 on this platform would respect Dj’S to this day – I really dont think the many add their two cents to this are all sick. Latter should be the proof you and the guys permanently stay in slumber mode to at least help thinking about.
      Besides, the views passed by Mahindapala and DJ are so dichotomous compared to those of average thinkers. That alone send the message across, this man DJ is became the joker of CT poodium to this day. Applause applause

      • 3
        10

        Why so annoyed – very few commentators are not supporting Dr D’s valid arguments because they are not willing to hear or see the truth – because the truth is bitter for many – but of course there are many who are silent but see the truth

        • 5
          0

          Rabok,

          What is the truth? Please share with the forum. DR DJ has appealed to the Sinhala masses alone with his scare stories! He deemed that the election did not produce the correct outcome because the majority of the majority did not vote for MS! He argues for a unitary state and then he shamelessly writes that majority must decide; isn’t it amounts to utter hypocrisy?

  • 1
    16

    You bloody terrorists. Mahinda kicked your asses to heaven to enjoy the 1000 vergins. We will do that to you again. You have no place in our country. Keep dreaming about Elam. It is in hell.

  • 2
    10

    If Sira gives Sambandan the mini Eelaam,Venerable Rstmne will have to do a Somarama,if Rathne is fairdinkum about his MOU with Sira.

    That is why Sira has carefully drafted his spiel to highlight the One Nation, Living as equals and Lifting the living standards , although he missed to emphasize that it is the Dalits who need better living standards.

    Ranil on the other hand, has gone on a tangent, implying that he is all for offering his ISGA again to Sambandan.

    Ranil in fact was talking about taking his Elite, and Anglicans to ancient Kashmir where Maharaja was the king and the Tribal Heads were the Ministers.

    Ranil will have to settle for the ex Tribal Head from Beliatta,

    Muttettuwa from Galle,Amaratunga from Wattala and Thevarapperuma from where ever.

    It will ne a nice supplement to Galleon Ravi, Kiriella and Keselwatta Kid if Ranil tolerates him.

    Vellalas on the other hand wouldn’t want to have a bar of this Kingdom of Kasmir as they will have their Eelaam, with the LTTE Diaspora becoming the ruling class with their dosh.

    One similarity though will be the Holy ash on the foreheads of the Anglicans in Ranil’s Kingdom of Kasmir, and the Vellalas in Eelaam.

  • 10
    1

    Jayantha Dhanapala is doing a much better job than DJ in dealing with UNHRC.

    Dayan claiming the war as patriotinobodyar will not work in the South of SL as it used to be.
    Since 9 th January , Majority of the Southern Voters too are becoming more aware of how they were decieved by the MR regime.

    Dayan playing the supremacist or racial or religious card is unpatriotic. It is a matter of time he will be discarded .

  • 10
    2

    DJ
    You only makes people laugh with your racist arguments wrapped in Unitary State and all other jargon that has little value other than a vote catching exercise. V Prbakaran days are gone and real Tamil people in this country do want to live in peace and with dignity. This type of divisive propaganda went with MR. Take a rest. Do not try to justify your irrationality of supporting MR with all this nonsense.

    • 1
      8

      People who prefer to sits on their brains cannot see that the argument of Dr D is the reality

  • 7
    0

    Omg, ! How the mighty has fallen. Dayan has become cheap.

  • 5
    0

    What people expect from DJ and Mahindapala et al is unbiased views heading to peace and harmony among all folks ? I really dont trust their reprobate mind sets would ever allow them the job. But these senior men undoubtely possess other talents- having faced the life over the years -may the malicious thinkers be healed paving the way to the permanent peace of our mother land – Greetings from Switzerland

  • 3
    0

    DJ,
    Your repetition of “our” so many times obviously implies there is an “Other”. What is in your pot comes out in your spoon though in many of your articles you were careful not to make that distinction.

    You have unconciously expressed what most Sinhalese and Tamil think of each other as “Other”. I have noticed this since I began traveling out of Jaffna in 1948. Most Tamils and Sinhalese refer to each other as the “Other” among themselves. Such reference, I notice, even after 66 years, has got more following especially since the end of the war.

    The divide is getting wider and wider. The question is whether in the mind of both communities the connective tissue -Corpus Collousom- has already snapped.

  • 0
    5

    Well said Dr Dayan Jayatilleka. More team for Three Cheers to you. The Best ‘Independence’ Day Speech!!
    Those who spoke or said unspoken words pale in comparison as they wouldn’t be on that platform for their’Independence’ Day ‘celebrations’ hadn’t it been for the “Shreshta Yuddhaya”. You guys who speak in dissent too may not have been around to utter these “Mleccha” words had it not been for the “Shreshta Yaddhaya”. Yes, sadly human memory is utterly and absolutely short lived and also biased to their very detriment.

  • 5
    0

    you only have to read the article by Dharisha Bastians on a similar topic to really understand the depth DJ has descended to.in an article penned by DJ after the sirisena defection he claimed to be undecided on whom to supprot(though it was obvious to the rest of us)and a few days before election day he claimed to not only support MR but also hoped that MR would be triumphant.Even on a talk show on ITN prior to the election DJ claimed that since CBK was elected twice despite a despicable record,what was wrong in electing MR a third time considering he had won the war.Ofcourse lack of good governance & rule of law,nepotism,erosion of democracy,politicisation of the judiciary,CoL and corruption doesn’t rank high as far as DJ is concerned.here’s a man whose loyalty lies with MR,whose principles and thinking are fashioned by the length of MR’s satakaya and whose patriotism extends to medamoolana and not beyond and quite unable to accept the verdict of the people so convincingly delivered on the 8th january 2015 and still smarting from the humiliation of defeat.DJ, your article is filled with childish jealousy,racism,and an obsession for living in the past and beating the victory drums.and much like your master and his fellow racist travellers you chose to glorify the war victory instead of focusing on peace building…and you call yourself a political scientist????

  • 4
    1

    Suggest DJ stop writing to CT as promised by him earlier at least as a response to all criticism by the readers.

  • 3
    1

    DJ is now a very unhappy man as MR failed at his third attempt. MR had promised to make him the Foreign Minister replacing that third grade Professor Peiris. DJ of course would have done a better job than that charlatan Peiris.

  • 1
    0

    Its all crap DJ. Why don’t you think tamils are part of our country and there is a shameful history behind causes of tamil terrorism evolution. Why cant we think they also have sri lanka as their mother land and should be treated as sri lankans not as slaves of Sinhalese?

  • 0
    0

    I am also one of many readers have great interest on DJ’s views but recently the views are drastically changed. His expected political change is not happened and frustration is surfaced. He is picking up negatives and construct arguments around it. The above article is clear illustration of that reflection. He picked up certain words absence in the independence day speech is pathetic approach. Why he is going towards that path? Missing words like unitary, separatism, secessionism is his great discovery. Why he is looking for those words? These words has used by previous rulers very often to hide their true acts.
    DJ also needs those words to interpret his theory. As many identified that DJ is Singhala nationalist with leftist clothing.

    The new government moving towards new paradigm and try to change its mode of operation too, but so called progressives thought it has to be done by themselves not by UNP. Mahinda rulers took the country in a disastrous path and people halted with a great heart. President Maithiri got unanimous support from all the communities in the country but people like DJ not endorsed it. He identified that support with TNA and started to argue federal solutions. The Srilankan communities want to resolve this crisis in an amicable way. They participated in the election in a great way but he is nitpicking to justify his crude politics. He lost his way and submerging into reactionary nationalism. Sorry, there are many other academics marching to change the system.

  • 0
    0

    I think DJ is wrong, a babaric war is not necessary to win a war. Rajapakse was lucky to be president when the was was a success. Orginal plan was set-up long time ago, before Rajapakse’s time.

    As far as not giving the equal share and integrity all minorities will oppose in the modern socity. What a curse we have in our country to create people with race based idealogy. Even geting a doctorate being unable to think humanity.

    What about JVP boys were crashed and killed in mass, are they also deserve to go to heven and all the nonsence.

    We need to grow beyond devisional Lines. Those who are afraid about India, see that India consist of several races, tamils are less than 10%, Why India going to support only tamils, Singelease are also from India.

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