30 September, 2020

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Regaining National Unity Five Years On

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The government has made plans to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the end of the war with a “Victory Day” celebration in Matara in the Southern Province.  But at the opposite side of the country  there will be no such celebration.  The government has prohibited any public commemoration of the war’s end in the Northern Province.   Speaking on behalf of the government, the military spokesperson has said that “Individuals may have religious services to commemorate their loved ones killed in the fighting, but there cannot be any public events.”  The government has been concerned that public events could be used to praise the LTTE in the guise of remembering the war dead.

While the government’s concerns may be real, the contrasting manner in which the May 18 events will be remembered in the two extremes of the country will highlight the polarization that continues to exist in post-war Sri Lanka.   It is likely that only the government and its political allies will be present at the Victory Day celebrations, which include a victory parade by the military in Matara.  The rest of Sri Lanka’s political plural and multi-ethnic polity will be missing.  The failure of national reconciliation will be manifest in the government’s celebration and victory parade.  It makes it seem as if five years after the war, the war victory over the LTTE was the only real thing that happened.

The disparity between the government’s treatment of the North and South shows that the ethnic and political conflict remains, despite the end of the war.  The country is geographically and administratively unified but remains politically and ethnically divided and in a state of conflict.  In recent weeks there also appears to be some signs of opposition appearing from within the ranks of the government itself.  This might be seen as signs of a coming implosion, which is a scenario that has been speculated upon for several years, due to the increasing concentration of power within the government.  The danger for the government is that there will come a point where the forces of fragmentation, which is indicated by the growing internal opposition, will grow too strong to keep the government coalition together.

Muslim Community

With presidential elections widely anticipated by early next year, both the government and opposition are trying to attract support to themselves from as wide a constituency as possible.   The war victory celebration in Matara could be seen as an effort to remind the people of the government’s most important achievement, and consolidate their support for the electoral challenges that lie ahead.  However, an overemphasis on the nationalism of one ethnic community can prove to be a double edged sword.  An important constituency that the government seems to have lost in recent times is the Muslim community.   The attacks on them by Sinhalese nationalist groups, such as the BBS, have alienated them from the government.

There is a perception that these Sinhalese groups are supported by sections within the government.  It would be in the interests of the government to distance itself from these attacks in a manner that would restore the balance.   In a noteworthy development Minister Rishard Bathiudeen has filed action in the courts against one of these groups.  He has taken this action when the entire Muslim community feels helpless and vulnerable in the face of anti-Muslim sentiment which is being spread by these groups, and even against the violence perpetrated against the community.   Members of the BBS not only entered his ministry premises by force, they have also denounced him for allegedly resettling Muslims who were displaced during the war in an illegal manner in the Wilpattu wildlife park.  Minister Bathiudeen has rejected these allegations and has demanded either an apology or a legal judgment in his favour.

There is no doubt that Minister Bathiudeen’s actions will obtain for him the support of many within the Muslim community.  This could have positive results to him and his political party which is a coalition partner of the government.   However, his implicit critique of the government’s inaction in regard to the attacks on the Muslim population is likely to be undermined by what is happening on the ground.  In Aluthgama a Muslim shop was torched by a mob, the latest in a series of attacks against  the Muslims.  At the same time, the concerns of the Sinhalese nationalist groups which have been targeted against the Muslims are also matters of concern to the larger Sinhalese population.  Many Sinhalese who do not support the methods and actions of the Sinhalese nationalist groups, nevertheless share their concerns.

Government Difficulties

The problem facing the government is the opposite of what is facing the opposition.  If the government is perceived to be too much of a monolith, and too centralized, it can risk losing support from sections of the population who are not in favour with some parts of current government policy.  This can range from its policy on casinos to its attitude to the rise in anti-minority activities.  The drastic reduction in the ethnic and religious minority vote going to the government at the provincial council elections held in March has been a matter of concern to the government.  It cannot risk losing the minority vote in a similar manner at a presidential election, in which every vote will count.

The government needs to maintain a social and political balance without going to one extreme.  The present weakness in the opposition parties provides the possibility for the government to indeed go to the extreme.  There are countervailing forces within the government itself are serving to keep its tendency to go to the extreme in check.  In the absence of a strong opposition those countervailing forces within the government will tend to remain with the government rather than spin off to the opposition. This suggests that those who seek policy change in the government at this time could do more to work with sympathetic and like-minded government members to ensure constructive change from within.

It is easy to get disheartened by the continuing emphasis on the divisions that exist within Sri Lankan society instead of on factors that could genuinely unify the polity.  It was all of Sri Lanka that went through a thirty year war that saw large scale civilian casualties through military offensives, bomb attacks and assassinations.  There is a need to remember all who died in the hope that this bloodletting will never occur again.  This indeed is the message and recommendation of the Lessons Learn and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the President, which is yet to be implemented in full.  Hopefully, the South African initiative at promoting reconciliation within the country at the invitation of the government will  soon bear fruit.  At the present time, the actions of the government and of its nationalist allies on the ground defy hope.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    “This indeed is the message and recommendation of the Lessons Learn and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the President, which is yet to be implemented in full.”

    What percentage of LLRC recommendations is implemented????
    What happened to all the evidence provided?

    “Testifying to the LLRC in 2010 (like all LLRC testimony, it has now been removed from the internet by the government) the Bishop of Trincomalee Kingsley Swampillai described the vanishing of Father Jim Brown, referred to above, and of another Catholic priest, Father Joseph Francis, who the bishop said was in his late 70s and had “got involved with” the Tamil Tiger militants while living in their heartland.” – http://groundviews.org/2014/05/12/the-hunt-for-the-missing/

    • 0
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      I was surprised to read the following new this morning…

      – if a larger number of cases related to injustice being on a rise would end up to the fair manner, the stance of the people (average) towards the govt will surely grow positively

      ——–

      Sarath Kumara will serve a further sentence of 6 months if he fails to pay the fine and another 1 year if he fails to pay the compensation to the victim.

      The ex-Councillor was arrested on June 15 last year for allegedly punishing a school teacher at a school in Nawagattegama by making her kneel down after she reportedly warned Kumara’s daughter regarding her uniform.

      The teacher had later lodged a complaint with the police over the incident.

      Sarath Kumara was expelled from the SLFP and barred from contesting future polls on June 18, 2013.

  • 3
    9

    victory day celebrations should be in mega scale to remind the tamil terrorists not to mess with us…

    army should make necessary measures to stop any sort of attempts taken by tamil terrorists to commemerate tamil terrorists in north.

    jehan can light a candle in his house and pray for tamil terrorists…para amASSiri the altar boy, para vedda, para leelawathie and other hoodoos can join hands with jehan

    • 1
      5

      Jehan has to write anti SL articles. If not he will not get his USDs and so called “Projects” from INGOs.

      • 2
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        Mahipala

        “Jehan has to write anti SL articles. If not he will not get his USDs and so called “Projects” from INGOs.”

        Would you like to replace him at those NGOS for a fistful of dollars?

        • 0
          0

          Native,
          Even if I say yes, you aren’t influential enough to get me the job. Do you?

          First find a decent opposition leader, If your intention is to defeat Rajapaksas at next election. Writing garbage on web news papers will not get you anywhere. Only 0.1 % of voters read online news papers. How on earth you can beat MR if you don’t even have an opposition? All these years 12% of Colombo people told the country that they are the experts and they are the best. Then destroyed the country for 50 years. Now these people do lot of work and showed everyone mistakes made by other leaders. Cost of living, corruption are issues facing even developed countries, not just Sri Lanka. Thank god Rajapaksas have talented brothers. I remember Bandaranike family. They were average.

          • 1
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            Mahipala

            “First find a decent opposition leader, If your intention is to defeat Rajapaksas at next election.”

            Sorry I am not contesting, leave me alone.

            Found your own opposition party.

      • 2
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        Mahipala:

        Don’t be an ignorant and stupid fool. Do you know how much money the regime has received from foreigners, including the USA, UK and Canada?

        • 0
          0

          Even ignorant fools know the difference between “Foreign aid” and “foreign paid”.

          • 0
            0

            Mahipala:

            Pray tell us the difference, between the aid/paid to the govt and the aid/paid to the NGOs?

            • 0
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              jansee,
              Don’t rely on strangers to teach you basics. Use google or do your own research pls. Next you will ask me why dogs have 4 legs.

              • 1
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                Mahipala:

                Would it be even surprising that the majority in SL would believe that why dog has two legs? The aid from USAID apprently went into the pockets of the politicians, if it is not aid?? So, don’t be such a dumber.

    • 2
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      ela kolla:

      Are you talking about the tamil terrorists or all tamils?

      • 0
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        jansee…not all tamils maybe terrorists….but 99.99999999% terrorists are tamils.

        • 0
          0

          Hey Kolla,
          What about 1971 & 1988~89 terrorists? Are they Tamils too?

          • 0
            0

            avb fool, there are tamils among them…but should not have been killed

            • 0
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              ela kolla

              “avb fool, there are tamils among them…but should not have been killed”

              How many Tamils are in JVP. You don’t need more than five fingers to count all of them.

              “jansee…not all tamils maybe terrorists….but 99.99999999% terrorists are tamils.”

              It seems your 0.000000001% > 99.99999999%. My Elders didn’t teach me percentages the way you have stated here. I think I am lost.

              • 0
                0

                vedda, you fool…..have you ever been to a school to understand even basic maths?

        • 1
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          ela kolla and avatars,

          Did you return to Habaraduwa? Did you take Bus 134?

          A Monk in Habaraduwa gives proper education, including math and proper treatment.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I

          • 0
            0

            amASSiri the altar boy, pope will please you next year

        • 1
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          ela kolla:

          Who were then the “terrorists” who “magically” made more than 70,000 99.99999999% Sinhalese vanish from this earth? Even Prabhakaran’s score could not have reached that number in a hundred years. How come you idiots never even open your mouths on such terrorists acts?

          • 0
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            jansee, your numbers sound like that you are a NGO junkie

            • 0
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              ela kolla:

              And does that frighten you?

    • 1
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      ela kolla and avatars,

      Did you return to Habaraduwa? Did you take Bus 134?

      A Monk in Habaraduwa gives proper education and proper treatment.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I

      • 0
        0

        amASSiri the altar boy, you’ll get your pope treatment next year

    • 0
      0

      ela kolla and avatars,

      Did you return to Habaraduwa? Did you take Bus 134?

      A Monk in Habaraduwa gives proper education.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I

      Child Education by a Monk in Habaraduwa

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I

    • 0
      1

      Kela Kolla,

      Thank me for including the missing first letter in your first name. Your genes are corrupted. At the time you were being made, that place was dry. No natural lubrication. Spit (kela) was used. Vaseline could not be bought due to lack of money. You must know what dog spit can produce.

      • 0
        0

        navin, it’s hard to describe your ugly miserable face and only a pariah dog can create an animal like you…you are a ugly tamil

  • 3
    1

    Jehan Perera,

    goes on like a broken record talking about LLRC and the South African initiative.

    Things on ground don’t support such initiatives.

    By the way I ask this guy whether there is any governance in Sri Lanka or thuggery going on? Tisaranee aptly calls it Thugistan!

    Sixty six years didn’t bring about any nation building: It has brought about the most racist regime since independence and thuggery masquerading as government. War victory celebrations remind us that there is no nation building or even a nation to talk about: In fact these celebrations confirm that there are two nations in the island.

    The notorious Sri Lankan regime can learn a valuable lesson from Ukraine’s plight today: But I doubt, they will.

  • 1
    0

    National unity will remain a distant dream so will economic prosperity until there are changes to the leadership and the system of governance. A con artist may fool some of the people all the time but not all the people, all the time. The 5 year celebration is more of a retrogressing, sort of one step forward, 3 steps back. The jealous, greedy and the power hungry will never learn from their past folly.

    • 0
      0

      What national unity for Salafi Maghribi? Maghribis want ‘world peace’ with Muhammadanism only. And that is also as per Salafis’ interpretation.

  • 4
    1

    Unity is only possible with proper devolution of North East. It is undoubtedly proved that the unitary system failed. It was a disaster!

  • 1
    2

    Wasn’t Jehan Perera on a counselling mission for the ex LTTErs in Mullative, before Gopi clan tried to expedite the launch of Eelaam MK 11?.

    Shouldn’t Jehan and his NGO mates be happy if the Govt is facing an imminent implosion?.

    Shouldn’t he be encouraging Rajapksa to go even further to the extreme, if it brings even Sinhalese to his grand coalition of Tamils and Muslims to
    change regime?.

    But the problem according to the intelligentsia in Colombo is finding a gun common candidate to represent this coalition.

    The only heavy name which came up among the Lilliputians apparently is Ms Sisson, who even does shramadana these days, in Galle Face collecting rubbish with her BASL buddies.

    Jehan’s buddy Kusul Perera has suggested the new CM in the North.

    He would have been okay if he didn’t pay homage to Mr Prabakaran and called hm his Hero..

    Jehan and his other NGO outfits have their work cut out if they want to roll Rajapaksa and please Cameron, Harper, Ms Pillai and the Diaspora…

  • 2
    0

    While triumphalism has to be rubbed into the psyche of the Tamil speaking peoples, with the presidential election coming on soon it is also important to revive the declining euphoria of the extremist Sinhala polity. The Rajapaksas, besides the defeat of the Tamil militants and the massacre of the Tamil civilians have nothing else to show except the infrastructure development helped by Chinese credit for which they are being personally rewarded. Bensen

  • 1
    0

    I have decided to observe May 18 as a day of mourning. The mourning will be observed by fasting from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on ‘Enslavement Day’. I will end the fast with a simple vegetarian meal and will partake of plain water only during fasting hours but not cool or hot beverages.

    Wearing black arm bands, flying black flags, lighting candles or oil lamps and congregating in public are only symbolic and physically undemanding acts, which only serve to get the mourners arrested or harassed.

    Fasting however, is a more profound and tangible way to mourn because it involves sacrifice and physical discomfort. It is also 100% risk free as no one can arrest a citizen for fasting; but of course it must be done privately and not ostentatiously in a public setting.

    • 0
      0

      Hey Rama, Hope you will not end the fast till May 2015.

  • 2
    1

    Unity with terrorists?

    NO WAY!

  • 0
    1

    In the North there are 3000 cases of land grabbings has been file. No result. The newswest is, the Brother Prince too is looking for a good land for summer house for him. I do not know what building is going to come down. The Governor grabbed the Old Part, Jaffna. The Tamils’ heritages associated with it are gone. They have knocked deon one of famous school, Nadeswara College, to build a summer house for the King. Why can Jegan visit to that school and bring the new Summer house photos. He wouldn’t, that is not peacemaking from the part of Tamils with the King. That, according to his assumption, setting Tamils against the King. If so, then what kind of “case filing” going to improve the situation?

    He knows for 100%, Kings government is preparing to swindle, not just the Nadeswara College, but the whole government as complete one full unit and with that, make the Temple Tree Building as their private property.

    Instead of writing these nonsenses, Jegan should become an honest person like Kusal Perera. First thing to peacemaking is removing the King. For that, you have to have reliable candidate. The NPC should start to canvas within Sinhalese masses for CV as the National Common Candidate. CV is not just a reliable candidate, this will bring the racial harmony in SL for the first time the day since it received freedom.

    Jehan please drop these down and start to support Kusal Perera.

  • 0
    1

    Jehan,
    For the time being, let me comment only on one count of your write-up that I consider important.

    You should know that France has celebrated WW11 victory every year since Charles de Gaulle, announced the official end of World War II to the French people on May 8, 1945. Thursday May 8th has been the WW11 victory day and a national holiday for France for some time. And this year (2014) too French celebrated the WW11 war victory after sixty nine years to mark the end of a six-year war and the Nazi oppression in France and millions of deaths. But NONE complains about French continuing WW11 victory celebrations for sixty nine years or upsetting Germans by such continual WW11 celebrations or not allowing Germans to celebrate their dead.

    In the UK, 1995 May Day Bank Holiday was moved from May 1st, to Monday 8 May, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ending of the WW 11 War. NONE complained about that celebrations after fifty years either.

    After Sri Lanka had ended a 33 year terrorist war that maimed and killed tens of thousands of Sri Lankans every year we started to celebrate the end of the 33 year war. And you guys who were paid to back the Tamil Tigers throughout that 33 years condemned the celebrations for ending the war and interpreted it as an insult against Tamils.

    But the so-called epitome of democracy, (the US, the UK and France) does not allow Nazis or even ordinary German citizen to commemorate their dead even after sixty nine years. If there is a remembrance to commemorate their 5.3 million dead, I am sure German priest would say; “We are here today to represent the German people that has learnt its lesson from history and is now looking to the future.”

    How about you guys and LTTE? Instead of taking a leaf from the Germans, surviving LTTE cadres and the backers like you seems to be doing everything within their power to restart a new war with Sri Lanka government.

    Tell us Jehan, do you see a difference between Hitler’s ‘Nazis’ and Pirapakaran’s ‘Tamil Tigers’ for their savagery? I do not. Nazis are banned all over the world. And LTTE is also banned all over the world. Need I say LTTE means Tamil Tigers? Tell us Jehan, why should Sri Lanka follow a different set of rules and let Tamil Tigers commemorate their dead?

    • 0
      0

      It is okay to celebrate a war victory in the case of a war between two or more countries. But as the National Peace Council says, it is inappropriate to celebrate a ‘victory’ in an internal war between different communities or races to avoid permanent polarization.

      • 2
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        Ramasamy

        “It is okay to celebrate a war victory in the case of a war between two or more countries.”

        Are you implying that the war was between two countries, Tamil Eelam and Sinhala Eelam?

        • 0
          0

          When I talk about countries, I refer to those that are marked on an atlas, not about hypothetical ‘countries’ that exist only in your imagination.

          • 0
            0

            ” National Peace Council says, it is inappropriate to celebrate a ‘victory’ in an internal war between different communities or races ”

            France, Ireland and few other countries do celebrate such events.

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