26 June, 2019

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Repeal ‘Genocide’ Resolution Before Devolution Talks, Troop Moves

By Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

A man or woman must have the courage of his or her convictions. If you do something, do so because you think it is right. If you oppose something, do so because you think it is wrong. If you’ve done something because you think it is right, say so, defend your choice, and give reasons why you thought it was right, if only at that time. If you’ve opposed something, explain that opposition, giving reasons why, at the time, you thought it was wrong. If you’ve remained silent, give the reasons for so doing. If you’ve broken your silence, explain why. That’s the way to remain an essentially moral man or woman, to ascend the high ground, even if your reasons may be wrong.

Mr. Wigneswaran has sought to explain why the Northern Provincial Council passed the noxious ‘Genocide’ Resolution. In his attempt at explanation he gives the game away. His explanation is that the resolution was a reaction to State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardena’s statement that the Sri Lankan armed forces will not be withdrawn from the North. He says: “Recent public pronouncements that even a single Army Camp would not be withdrawn even if it was for the consumption of the Southern Electorate could have been avoided. It had the effect of our response by passing a Resolution on Genocide.” (‘We Feel Very Strongly Against the Continued Stay of Armed Forces’, by CV Wigneswaran, Colombo Telegraph, March 1st 2015)

However, in the course of another explanation given to Mr. Lakshman Piyasena the new editor of the state’s flagship Sinhala language newspaper, the Silumina, the Chief Minister reveals that the Genocide resolution was being mulled over for seven months, and had merely been ‘expedited’ by the remarks on non-withdrawal of troops.

“Question: When you were appointed Chief Minister of the Northern Province there was a general impression in the country that a moderate Tamil intellectual who was different from politicians who arouse communalism had entered politics. But the recent Council resolution adopted under your leadership seems to have turned that impression upside down. That resolution said Tamils in Sri Lanka had been subjected to genocide under the government for a long time. Why did you bring in such a resolution as soon as President Maithripala Sirisena who pledged to foster national harmony and reconciliation came to power? What was the need for such a resolution?

Answer: First of all I must say that this was not a spontaneous resolution. For seven months the Provincial Council had discussions about bringing such a resolution. Every member supported it including even the Sinhala members. It was thereafter adopted unanimously…

Q: Shouldn’t you have given the new government a time limit to work towards harmony and reconciliation?

A: Two weeks before the adoption of the resolution the Deputy Minister of Defence visited the North and said Army camps would not be withdrawn from the North. This caused immense pain of mind and grief to the Tamil people. Tamils consider these camps as an obstruction to their normal daily routine. This had been a longstanding problem. Just think the pressure the Sinhalese in the South would have suffered if they had to continue living in such a situation. It is the suspicion caused among the ordinary Tamil public by this talk about camps which motivated Provincial Council members to expedite this resolution.” (Chief Minister Wigneswaran on Tamil aspirations: ‘Independence and corresponding power within a united country’, Sunday Observer, March 1st 2015)

Now Mr. Wijewardene had not made the allegedly provocative statement seven months ago. Mr. Wijewardene was not the State Minister of Defence seven months ago. President Sirisena was not the President seven months ago. Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was not the PM seven months ago. So, we have to arrive at one of two conclusions. Either the Chief Minister is not telling the truth when he says the resolution was in retaliation for the statement made by Mr. Ruwan Wijewardene, or it was, and the resolution was not in the pipeline for seven months. Either way, he is not telling the truth.

That’s not the only untruth that the Chief Minister has uttered on the subject. He assured President Sirisena that the Genocide Resolution was not directed at the new Government but the previous one. If so, it cannot be true that the resolution was in retaliation for State Minister Wijewardene’s statement on the non-withdrawal of the Sri Lankan military from the North, for the obvious reason that Mr. Wijewardene belongs to the new government. If on the other hand, the resolution was aimed at the previous administration, then it should have been fired at it and not at the new one. So that’s the second lie that the Chief Minister has uttered in the recent past on this single issue.

If one is to be charitable and accepts Mr Wigneswaran’s composite explanation, the Genocide resolution was in the pipeline for seven months and was triggered, not by some remark uttered by the ‘hawkish’ Rajapaksa administration but rather a remark uttered by the ‘dovish’ Sirisena-Wickremesinghe one. So we all sound alike to them. What does this say about Tamil nationalist political behavior and the collective Tamil nationalist political mindset?

Another explanation by the Chief Minister’s camp followers is that the Genocide Resolution was the by-product of rivalry within the Northern Council and the TNA; rivalry between the so-called moderates led by Messrs. Sampanthan and Sumanthiran and unnamed radicals who were specifically critical of the presence of the former pair at the independence day celebrations. Here too, one cannot have it both ways. Either the Resolution was because Ruwan Wijewardene piqued Northern sentiments with his ‘no withdrawal’ statement or because intra-TNA/NPC rivalry peaked with Sampanthan and Sumanthiran’s attendance on Feb 4th.

Now let’s move from the manifest lies and contradictions to what lies beneath. What do those lies and contradictions reveal about the substance of things?

This year’s Independence Day parade was dismayingly downsized, with no fly past, no parachute drops and no patrol boats. President Sirisena spoke of a “barbaric war”. There was no mention in the entire discourse of the day, against secessionism/separatism (“bedum vaadaya”). A message of peace and reconciliation was read out. Now, that was the nature of the Independence Day celebration that Messrs. Sampanthan and Sumanthiran attended. If it was a political betrayal in the eyes of a school of Tamil nationalist politics, just how radical must that school of thought be? If Messrs. Sampanthan and Sumanthiran did not defend their attendance robustly and prevail within Tamil nationalism, how powerful must that radical current actually be? If it was necessary to compensate for that attendance on this downsized February 4th with a resolution that accused Sri Lanka of genocide, how supine must the moderates be and how extreme and extremely strong, the opposing current in Tamil politics must be?

Let me move on to the Chief Minister’s explicit excuse, namely the statement by State Minister Wijewardene. The State Minister had to win the confidence of the armed forces for the new administration. For this purpose he made some reassuring remarks. In any country on the planet, armed forces are stationed in border areas. This is more so, if there has been political hostility across those borders. If there are co-ethnics/ethnic kin across the borders of an area of the country which has witnessed a separatist struggle, then there is almost never a question of the withdrawal of the armed forces, and certainly not a mere five years after the end of the war. It took twelve years after the US Civil War for the Union armies (of the North) to leave the ex-Confederate states of the South.

This does not mean there is nothing to be negotiated. What remains to be discussed and resolved is the footprint of the armed forces in the North; their role and function. Their very presence cannot be the subject of debate, but that is exactly what Chief Minister Wigneswaran has signaled is the issue.

Furthermore, if the very presence of the armed forces in the North, a legitimate security need in any ex-separatist border zone anywhere on the planet, can be the subject, not of serious negotiation, but can trigger an 11-page resolution calling on courts throughout the world to try Sri Lanka under universal jurisdiction, on the charge of genocide, then we have a problem. If this can happen one month into a new, liberal administration which has engaged in serious confidence building measures, (downscaling Independence Day, appointing a dovish civilian governor) then we have a serious problem. If we have Tamil moderates such as Sampanthan and Sumanthiran who cannot robustly defend themselves from the radicals and actually go on to justify the Genocide resolution, then we have a very serious problem. That problem is the dogmatic, politically fundamentalist nature of Tamil nationalism.

Chief Minister Wigneswaran’s stated reason, namely that Ruwan Wijewardena’s remarks triggered the Genocide resolution clearly implies that hurling in a formal political manner, the very worst kind of accusation that can be made against a state – that of genocide—is, in the Chief Minister view, a perfectly understandable and acceptable reaction and way of being. So, Ruwan Wijewardene says something that ruffles the fine Northern feathers and we must all be sympathetic and understanding when the formal political reaction is to accuse our founding Prime minister and all others elected after him, of perpetrating genocide on the Tamils, and to call upon the world to haul Sri Lanka up before every possible tribunal on the charge of genocide. Who does the Chief Minister think he is? What does he think the Northern Provincial Council is? Where on the planet does he think he and the NPC are? And who does he think the rest of us are?

Given the recent exhibition of Tamil truculence in the Northern Province resolution, it is utterly unwise to downsize beyond a point, the strong Executive presidency and level the playing field between the parliament and the Northern Provincial Council. Thus the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) is correct in its proposals to reform rather than drastically dispense with the executive powers of the Presidency. These are in line with the MoU signed by candidate Sirisena and the JHU.

The UNP, JVP, Ven. Sobitha, Dr. Jayampathy Wickremaratne and sundry civil society progressives are dangerously wrong. Constitutions are not made and unmade with a specific incumbent and the next five years in mind. Constitutions are the basic political architecture of the state; of a political community.

The Ancient Greeks were right as (almost) always: conduct is the expression of character. Given this character and complexion of Tamil nationalism, the Sri Lankan armed forces have to remain in the North for the foreseeable future, albeit with a smaller footprint. Someday, with the mellowing of Tamil nationalism as manifested in the election of a Northern Provincial Council that will repeal the genocide resolution, we may consider the graduated downsizing of our military presence. The NPC is lucky that President Sirisena is not the sort who would dissolve the Council, but it mustn’t push its luck. There should be a freeze on any discussion of enhanced devolution and/or troop shifts unless and until the Genocide Resolution is repealed. As the Sinhala saying goes ‘never give a monkey a razor”.

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Latest comments

  • 4
    1

    DJ,

    Withdraw the genocide resolution?

    Disprove it first and then call for its withdrawal.

    • 1
      1

      what is to withdraw in a claim the CM himself had invalidated?

  • 1
    1

    Mr van der Poorten, you have been around long enough, so you will appreciate the dilemma facing the current Presidency. When it was clearly evident that the election results were going against them, the Rajapakse brothers made what can only be called a ‘strategic withdrawal; in fact all the moves had been choreographed earlier, and the plan more or less firmed up, at what-if meetings, in the days before. If the proverbial fly on the wall could speak it would tell us that the signal for that ‘withdrawal’ came from GR himself. A knowing brotherly smile in the bowels of the midnight bunker silently said to Big Brother, let us handover, retire ‘gracefully’, and live to fight another day. RanilW was then called in to confirm what had already been tacitly agreed in the earlier horse trading.

    The dilemma? That the highest echelons of the Sri Lankan body politic is so corrupt that there is not one senior politician who can confidently stand up and cast the first stone. The (very) few who can are hamstrung and haven’t the clout to do what WE the people have clearly demanded. Of course the apologist will tell you that in these times of good governance not only must we do the right thing, we must do it properly. Putting together protracted, and believe you me, complicated cases relating to cleaning out state coffers, and other creative asset stripping, will take years. If our judiciary revert to making properly considered judgements, any case brought to court half-cocked will be thrown out, and celebrated by the crooks and their circus with public gloating and cheena-pattas. There lies the rub.
    The day will come when the younger generation will do our beloved country proud and rid us of the crooked, self serving politicians of today, and their army of anti social elements.

    Alas, WE the people have to be patient. Now is just a turning point in our battle; the fight for a truly compassionate and clean country has only just begun. The road will be long and winding.

    • 0
      0

      Apologies to DJ and other readers for this mis-post of a reply to an article by Mr Emil van der Poorten. The pitfalls of multi-tasking!

  • 1
    0

    Many of these fake “doctors” like Dayan, robbed genuine intellectuals the opportunity to further their abilities. A big chunk of these recent “Docs” are created by political cronyism and blatant misuse of state power to distribute western educational grants and quotas meant for true intellectuals. The result is obvious in the forms of Dayans, Rohan gunaratnas, etc who helped SL to go down this current precipice.
    SL politicians have robbed intellects too, which thus far considered safe from thieves.
    Dayan must be badly missing his French and Swiss luxuries and dreaming for future luxuries, to own palaces in Western capitals and 40 car STF escort in a future racist government. Good try Dayan, keep it up. Doc Dayan should read this.
    http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-31679475

  • 1
    0

    There is only one group of politicians worse than the Sri Lankan government, and that group is the Tamil political leadership.
    So rest assured, in the end the average Sri lankan Tamil will suffer again. They have their leaders to blame. The rest of the country can blame corruption…

  • 3
    1

    To all of you who have made comments either way – the fact is that the minority Tamils have been discriminated just less than 6 years of Ceylon getting Independence by imposing Singhala only. That was the beginning. When there were 4 different ethnic people living in a country shouldn’t there be consideration given to others. Why do you say to withdraw genocide. What did Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali do in the late 70’s in burning down the Jaffna library. Has DJ forgotten history? I am not being racist but putting forward facts.

    • 1
      1

      Tamils should be discriminated. They are anti Sri Lanka…they hate the country they were born into and they have no right to this country. They are some racist tribals that are a willing tool of outside powers that seek to destabilize SL.

    • 1
      0

      Genocide is not burning and destroying properties. It is systematic annihilation of a National, Racial, Religious or Ethnic group completely or a substantial part of that group.

  • 2
    3

    As long as this country has people, especially Singhalese who will bend backwards, lean forward and slant side ways to appease these extremists and separatists thereby giving legitimacy to their claims, this nation will never be strong, this nation will never progress and this nation will never be united and free of extremists and separatists!

    These people who want this nation to be a fairy land, a dream land, a heaven of sorts, ignoring actual ground realities are a bane and a curse upon this blessed land!

  • 1
    2

    We are struggling for a dead pound of flesh.
    What we need is reconcilation and not inquiries.
    are we to summon Anton Balasinghams wife for recruiting and hanging cianide caps round child soldiers and the diaspora leaders for the killing of the sinhalese women and children.

    Oh Vignesh ,! Are you trying to maintain the turbun wearing vellala domination over the lover caste of jaffna again by bringing up racialism.

    You want to be land owners and rulers and for us to do the dirty work.
    first stop your cast agression before we start rising against the vellalas against the cast system

  • 2
    6

    Last night’s TV news reported and actually showed Wigneswaran handing over the Genocide resolution to visiting UN official Feltman.

  • 6
    2

    Dyan the “Sooran”

    Repeal ‘Genocide’ Resolution Before Devolution Talks, Troop Moves:

    I havent bothered to read your rubbish but will just comment on the above. You are no longer in CHARGE and what you say is worthless.

    But I have some bad news for you.

    I am told that the Tsunami ( Tamil ) that hit on the 8th has completely wiped out the Rajapaksa family. But one body was washed away in Hambanthotta and attempt to resuscitate ( Nugegoda) failed and the man was pronounced DEAD. Another body was washed ashore in California and rescuers found Millions of Dollars in his belly during post mortem. The third body was washed ashore in Dubai believed to be MRs son.
    Another Tsunami is about to hit in September ( UNHCR) and the troops will be washed away if they dont seek refuge in the South.
    This is Natures answer.

  • 0
    0

    The question is whether CM, northern Province Council discussed the
    ‘genocide’ resolution at length with TNA executive committee and if
    so, it should be acceptable by the Tamils and if not so, it is a high handed act by the CM as this matter concerns the Tamils of Sri Lanka and TNA should have brought the resolution at the proper time and not the NPC.
    It is a good piece of resolution but brought it at the wrong time,
    as most major parties are striving hard for unity of all citizen at
    present time.

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