10 August, 2020

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The Choice After The War Victory

By R.M.B Senanayake –

R.M.B. Senanayake

R.M.B. Senanayake

In 1948 Hans J. Morgenthau wrote the “Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace” Morgenthau defined the status quo as “the maintenance of the distribution of power that exists at a particular moment in history.” Morgenthau also explains, “the concept of the ‘status quo’ derives from status quo ante bellum,” which, in turn, implies a return to the distribution of power before a war.

This is the choice before the President. Should he resolve the grievances of the Tamils which made them to take up arms after a prolonged period of peaceful protests? They carried out negotiations with the prevailing governments asking for a measure of devolution of power rather than a separate State. Liberal politicians like SWRD (despite his original stance in 1956 he agreed to a reasonable use of Tamil) and Dudley Senanayake signed Agreements. But due to protests by extremists these Agreements were not honored. What of the post 2009 situation of war victory. There would seem to be two camps. One camp wants to follow what Morgenthau called the ideology of the war victor. The war’s aggressor (the LTTE) shall give up his conquered territory, and everything will return to how it was before. This is the objective of this camp.The status quo also denotes the victors’ peace: a peace that may be unfair or even oppressive to the Tamils but it stands for stability. What about the Tamil demand for equal rights? They would say they no longer apply. How can a minority which never won the case for equality over the last fifty years either through satyagraha or war, now demand it when they were defeated in combat would be the logic behind such refusal. And this camp would argue it is for the good of the Sinhala Buddhists who represent 70% of the population. This camp would insist that any concessions to the Tamil people would only enable the LTTE to revive and resume war. So this camp wants the Army to remain in the North and to carry out Intelligence on the behavior of the politicians and social activists. But this would be more or less a military occupation for the Tamil people will have to look over their shoulder to avoid the gaze of the “Big Brother.” This camp feels threatened by the UN demand for the investigation of war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the last phase of the war. May be true, false or exaggerated? But can the duty to ascertain the truth be brushed aside. Yes this camp would say. Instead this camp would want to mobilize the Sinhala Buddhist majority to defeat the proposed UN Resolution. They want to establish the fact that the Sinhala Buddhist majority is behind them and rejects the allegations of war crimes etc. So the forthcoming elections must be won at any cost they would argue. In the past election campaign directed at the Sinhala Buddhist majority has involved positing the ethnic and religious minorities as a threat to the Sinhala Buddhists. It is easy from this attitude of mind to whip up animosity against them. There are groups of monks who have already resorted to attacks on mosques and churches. The perception among these minorities is that the Government is looking the other side. Some would even accuse segments of the Government of promoting or conniving with them. But this would be a serious risk to the nation which is already criticized for violations of the freedom of religion and minority oppression. The President has stated publicly that he would protect all religions.

Those who oppose this view point out that in several conflicts war resumed within ten years or so. The government and parliament need to recognize in its basic law that the island was settled by a diversity of communities with Sinhalese as the major community and that the political, legal, cultural and economic position of all its inhabitants, not just the majority, should be protected.  The end of the war did not provide the means to achieve peace, rather it provides a new set of opportunities that can be grasped or thrown away. If the 13th Amendment plus or some other political solution is implemented then there is hope for peace and stability. The Parliamentary Select Committee is sitting but the Tamil National Party is refusing to join it because they think it is another dilatory tactic of the powers that be. The lack of credibility in the Government is a serious problem. But perhaps the Tamil National party should make representations based on its current experience in the working of the Northern Provincial Council. Our politicians place too much emphasis on the legal and the constitutional aspects of devolution of power rather than the administrative aspects. It is time to look into these to make the Northern Provincial Council function and be of service to the people of the North.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    0

    Mr Senanayake,
    Very good anaylsis.
    I am sure that there are many Sri Lankans like you. People in power should leave politics and hand over the power to people like you, justice Vignewaran to sort out the mess created by successive Sinhalese PMs & Presidents.

    • 1
      0

      Mr Senanayake,

      Your analysis has merit, but I need to add something to it.

      The Big powers helped Sri Lanka defeat the LTTE which was essentially a liberation movement because it was painted as a terrorist organization.
      Without the superpowers’ help Tigers couldn’t have been defeated. Furthermore genocide of Tamils also helped win the war.

      However, the powers that helped wanted the political aspirations of Tamils accommodated.

      Instead Sri Lankan regime is acting as a state terrorist organization against Tamils, and others.

      Taking the above into account your analysis needs be modified.

  • 2
    0

    The rise of the LTTE (and other smaller Tamil factions) was the culmination of the post-independence struggle of desperate Sinhala politicians to woo the majority Sinhala-Buddhist voter with increasingly extreme, anti-Tamil policies. The rabble we have now, masquerading as the GOSL, is the very zenith of this historic struggle. Unfolding now in our new Lanka is not just about Sinhala against Tamil. What we are watching now is a slow transforming of Sinhala-Buddhist against ALL other minorities – Tamils, Muslims, Sinhala-Christian and other assorted groups. We are waiting for a hero to lead us to the promised land.

    • 1
      0

      Sumanthiran or Karunanayake?

  • 1
    0

    It is the extremist who are the most vocal and destructive although small in numbers. The decent people who are in the majority tend to mind their own business and allow these fanatics to have their say. End of the day everyone suffers. So it is better to deal with these hate mongers than to allow them a free hand to prostitute religon to achieve their obnoxious aims.

  • 1
    0

    I think the horse of good governance has bolted.

    It is almost 5 years since the end of the war. Power has been further centralised and the minorities further marginalised. The voice of bigotry has become louder and louder. There are no more camps of this or that. Only one camp, that of MR and Clan, the camp of power, greed, intolerance and persuasive violence. All other camps have been rendered dysfunctional.

  • 1
    0

    A wise and well timed analysis. But are there intelligent and wise men at the helm of the government to understand and do what is needed?

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 2
    0

    The Sinhala ruling elite is fully soaked in the Mahavamsa chinthanaya that they see the world with colored glasses.

    Enlightened Sinhalese try as they may to make them see the light of the day, but this is not going to make a dent in the Sinhala ruling elite, who brainwash the Sinhala masses with this Mahavamsa madness: Sinhala masses follow the pipers like the heard of sheep lead to slaughter.

    It is an exact parallel to the Ariyan supremacist thinking of the Nazis brainwashing the Germans with their madness, and the genocide of Jews, Poles and others that followed.

  • 0
    1

    “What about the Tamil demand for equal rights? “

    What are the rights that they are denied which RMB enjoys?.

    • 2
      0

      To be treated as an equal citizen, without ever having to feel second class, anywhere in this island. To feel secure in any part of the island. Their Tamilness being respected and recognised. Not to be told that their homeland is in Tamil Nadu. To have equal opportunities in all aspects of life, through established and trustable institutional arrangements, Be able to deal with their government in Tamil anywhere in the island. Being permitted to manage their affairs to the greatest extent possible in areas where they predominate.

      Is this too much to ask?

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  • 2
    0

    All secondary school students should have a short compulsory course on the history of Sri Lanka of the last 65yrs from Mr R.M.B. Senanayake.

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