13 December, 2017

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The Maha Sangha’s Opposition, Tamils & Mobilizing Support For Devolution

By Mahendran Thiruvarangan –

Mahendran Thiruvarangan

While constitutional reforms are being discussed by the Steering Committee, there are forces like the Joint Opposition led by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa that have started to whip up anti-devolution sentiments in the South. Adding strength to these forces, the Mahanayakas recently declared that the country does not need a new constitution. We will get to know in the referendum, if and when it takes place, how the Buddhists in this country perceive the Mahanayakas’ position on the new constitution. We do not need to jump to conclusions about this now. We know that a large number of Sinhala-Buddhists voted against Mahinda Rajapaksa in 2015 when he was widely perceived as the invincible leader of Sinhala-Buddhists. Let’s not be too optimistic either. The government that is spearheading the constitutional reforms has failed miserably on the economic front. Privatization of basic services such as health and education and the neo-liberalization of the country’s economy have accelerated under this regime. The Tamil National Alliance, the opposition in Parliament and the major Tamil party involved in drafting the constitution, has also failed to participate in the struggles led by the poor, the landless, the dispossessed, workers and students against the neo-liberalization of Sri Lanka’s economy and thereby alienated itself from the Southern constituency. The party also did not rise to the occasion swiftly when floods hit the South recently and during the Meethotamulla tragedy.

In a context where the Joint Opposition is trying to stoke ethnic passions while projecting itself as a crusader against neo-liberalism, the Southern people’s opposition to the economic failures of the government may easily translate into a protest vote against devolution in the referendum. Between 2002 and 2004, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government initiated peace talks with the LTTE along with a set of neo-liberal reforms. The UNP government was defeated in the next general elections held in 2004.

While the economic and political problems that plague the country are intertwined and the latter are sometimes seen as an outcome or expression of the former, one cannot deny that ethno-religious chauvinism has its own force too and that such chauvinism exists among minorities as well. To defeat the chauvinist forces that are against devolution, progressive forces in the country should immediately inaugurate a vigorous campaign for a constitution that ensures devolution of powers to the provinces and makes the state one that respects pluralism and diversity at all its levels including in the peripheries. There are some crucial questions about the constitution that we need to discuss forthrightly as part of this campaign: Will those who are involved in drafting the new constitution come up with proposals that ensure the devolution of important powers like land and police to the provinces? Will they also ensure that such powers cannot be taken back by the center unilaterally without the consent of the provinces, especially the two provinces where the Tamil-speaking people form the majority and have demanded regional autonomy for many decades? Will there be mechanisms or clauses in the constitution that guarantee that the judiciary cannot interpret the constitution as one that favors a centrist or unitary state even if the word unitary (ekiya rajya) is going to appear in the constitution in Sinhala as we are told? Will the state be secular? Will there be mechanisms to protect the rights and freedoms of the country’s ethnic and religious minorities and non-territorial minorities such as Muslims in the Northern Province or Buddhists in the Eastern Province? How would devolution benefit the minorities within a province, the working classes, the landless populations, students, women, oppressed caste communities? These questions revolve around what we generally consider as the national question or the minority question or devolution. These questions led to a 30-year civil war in this country and we lost thousands of precious lives because of our failure to resolve these questions in a just manner.

There are many other issues and questions that the constitution should address including the executive presidency, electoral reforms, socio-economic rights, the rights of women and sexual minorities and disabled populations. I have excluded them from this post because there seems to be a general consensus on many of these issues across religious, ethnic, cultural and regional divides. The political leaders should act on them now in a fair manner as asked by the people during the public consultation sessions held last year.

It appears very clearly that the Tamil political leadership is not going to insist on the repeal of the constitutional clause that offers Buddhism the foremost place (a major concession on the part of the Tamils and other minorities in my view); nor is it going to demand the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces although it will maintain merger as its stated position. Will the Parliament of Sri Lanka offer a constitution that is federalist in practice and spirit as I mentioned above even if it is unitary in paper? And will the Sinhala-Buddhist community ratify such a constitution in the referendum? Here is an opportunity for us to move forward as a single political community that respects pluralism and self-rule in the peripheries. Hope we will not throw it away as we did several times in the past.

Anandasangaree’s call for a meeting between the Maha Sangha and Tamil leaders

In the wake of the Maha Sangha’s opposition to the new constitution, V. Anandasangaree, the General Secretary of TULF, has urged the Leader of the Opposition R. Sampanthan to form a team of representatives from different Tamil political parties for a meeting with the Maha Sangha. Selvam Adaikalanathan of TELO has also made a similar request. The Federal Party under the leadership of R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran has repeatedly expressed its commitment to an undivided Sri Lanka since 2009. Breaking with a long-held tradition of protest, the two leaders even attended the Independence Day celebrations in February 2015 as a gesture towards reconciliation (not to mention all the attacks they faced from other Tamil nationalist camps). This change of approach did not weaken them politically among the Tamils; instead, both of them emerged victorious in the general elections held after six months.

TNA leaders R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran have also urged the Tamil community in public – both in Sri Lanka and at expatriate gatherings – to self-introspect about the crimes committed in their name against other communities in the past, especially during the years of militancy. But the reciprocation from Southern political leaders was not remarkable, to put it mildly. Some of them continued to claim that there was zero casualty during the last stages of the war in May 2009. Only a few leaders from the South acknowledge openly that an ethnic conflict exists in the country or that the state needs to be secular. One needs to admit that the TNA’s interactions with the people in the South has been inadequate. The party could have campaigned with more earnestness among the Sinhala communities in the different provinces to win their trust. Its engagement with the South was too Colombo-centric. But there is still time left and the party should activate its campaign without delay.

The Maha Sangha’s opposition to a new constitution that would devolve powers to the provinces shows that they continue to ignore the genuine grievances and legitimate aspirations of the minority communities. At the same time, we should understand that the Maha Sangha may have concerns about the place of Buddhists, their religion and culture in the Northern and Eastern provinces where the Buddhists are minority. They may also have anxieties about the security and safety of Buddhists in these regions post-devolution when certain executive decisions, hitherto made by the central government, will be made by the provincial governments. It is important that Tamil leaders try their best to allay these fears and concerns. As Anandasangaree has suggested, Tamil political parties should meet the Maha Sangha and share with them their political vision for the Northern and Eastern Provinces and the steps they will take in order to ensure the peaceful coexistence of the different communities in the two provinces. More importantly, the TNA and other political parties representing the minority communities should engage the people in the South on a regular basis not just on devolution but also on economic and social issues that blight them.

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Latest comments

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    Thank you!

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      Dr Hoole

      How on earth did any one with right mind and conscious of ground realities in Sri Lanka assume that Sangha order would AGREE for anything smelling federalism? How come did Tamil leaders always assume that bartering Tamil votes for one side of a 50/50 viciously divided, corrupt Sinhala polity in elections in achieving a solution to a ‘national problem’. Did they think our Sinhala political chiefs were dumb? No, they are bigger crooks. They KNOW when comes to delivery they don’t have to – at the back of their minds they KNOW that they are promising things they are not empowered to deliver. You are recognised as a prominent , respected academic. Now what do you think of the present 2/3 majority in the parliament? You think RW is a great brain? Which individual in this country doesn’t know how they are bribed with Ministerial portfolios/perks in an unimaginably crafty manner to sit on this side? Do you think the vote of SB Disanayake morally valid ? You definitely can’t achieve a solution to a ‘national problem’ in this manner.———————–
      Soma

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    1) Write down a list of benefits of federalism.——————-

    2) Sketch geographical map of proposed federal units ———————–

    3) Demonstrate that at least 90% of the Tamils (Tamil speaking people) in the island are benefitted—————–

    Soma

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      somass hi ——-Why do Malaysia, USA, Germany…. have federal government? You may think it’s for fun.———1. It is for the people to decide when, where, how, how often , in what.position to have sex? It is not the responsibility of the faceless little people behind the desk nor for the saffron clad thugs to decide on behalf participant in the art and science of love making.

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        All the three countries you have mentioned are once collection of native independent regions or kingdoms. Overtime they have collaborated to produce an political entity powerful enough to protect their mutual interests. But, in Sri Lanka people are advocating to separate a unitary state into 9 separate political entities which are loosely bound to one another. World’s first example of such. It’s nothing more than separatism.

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          Shenal– This island too is a collection of shifting native’s land and kingdoms until the white man made it into a country without a purpose. The three countries didn’t come together voluntarily but were forced to form a federal state. In the case of this island the kallathonies mostly from South India who not only grabbed large chunks of land but they have destroyed the environment as well. This land belongs to my people however it seems the kallathonie descendants are fighting over my ancestral land and believe they knew what is best for the people. The land grabbing thieves now tell us they have constitutional arrangement which they believe is the only best way to rule the country. Isn’t it bit rich? There are many ways you can look at the issues, however paranoia is not one of them.

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            This island too is a collection of shifting native’s land and kingdoms until the white man made it into a country without a purpose. ///

            What a lie, strange that it came from a ‘vaddha’.
            The island is NOT a collection of shifting natives land and kingdoms, what happened was the native capital was shifted to south ( Polonnaruwa, dambadeni, Kurunegala, Yapahuwa and kotte) due to invasions from South India and a South Indian vassal state created in Jaffna.

            Due to unstable politics, the native kingdom lost its north and when it became weak, the land fragmented along regional rulers where one region became powerful each time, which were Seethawaka and finally Kandy!

            It is this ugly motive of yours in acknowledging sinhala peoples’ history that has resulted all the mayhem and blood bath

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            You are terribly mistaken my dear sir. However, Sri Lanka was fragmented into smaller regional kingdoms when the western colonizers fist arrived; there was one imperial de-jure sazuranity over the entire island produced by one powerful kingdom over the others. No one dared to question it, not even the Western imperialists.

            When they signed the accord of accession of the island of Sri Lanka in 1815 they signed it with the Kandyan kingdom who had the sazurenity over the entire island at that time. Not with each individual kingdoms that had existed before. Not even the portuguese signed any treat with the Tamil kingdom when Jaffna was taken over. They directly went to the Kandyans.

            Both native vaddhas and the indigionus people who intergrated to the great Sinhalese culture has the ownership of this island. Besides that, Veddha’s were simply forest dwellers who has not created any kind of civilization on this island.

            The civilization is created by the Sinhalese. Therefore the right of the land belong to Sinhalese.

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              Where am I mistaken? After Kotte was ruled by a weak ruler, Seethawaka became powerful under regional king, Mayadunne and did not listen to Kotte king after that. Same thing happened to Kandy where Kandy became powerful at the end.

              Whenever Kotte becomes weak, Jaffna was the first to be lost due to external intervention.

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                Oh no I wasn’t targeting you. I was targeting the Native Veddha guy.

                However, I would like to add my two cents here. Whatever happened to Jaffna didn’t make it a independent Tamil kingdom. It was always regarded as part of Kotte or simply part of Sinhalese country.

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                  “”It was always regarded as part of Kotte or simply part of Sinhalese country.””
                  by small states of cochin and colombo setting their katcheries on fire and changing their family names you may fool most europeans but not all at VOC Amsterdam who have only 5% of the invoices from these 2 places and over 90% of invoices from madras presidency. Remember the `De` fashion mode adopted in the 1970??
                  and the last king of kotte’s only descendant was a fair looking tamil who was alive in 1970 Its not for nava kolamba malasanya to know or to hide but the ancient kurunduwatta guys and gals to know and even ranil should know that. kuruduwatte was owned by tamil before the portuguese came to cochin in 1497. you are not a DNA product of órfãs d’el-rei for sure. but passe hittan patch.

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                    Do you read what you type? Or suffering from tamil mytho mania?

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              Shenal————-Here we go again. Please review what you have just typed. I am not into Shenali Waduge’s cartoon her story. Nor am I interested in Kamalika Pieris’ s heroic exploits.

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            “”however paranoia is not one of them.””
            that bit of excrete has touched you from the outset because you are original baddu not an engineered gemstone.
            Its the goni billa that keeps both candles politico and the priest at the helm of it all. so abusing the priest only draws the wrath of the majority who need to hug them when in trouble. village boy scholar there is more in city life than your dream land take over.
            Who provides the lighting to malwatte on poson poya? goni billa and no sinhalese can keep the colombo city clean even if goni billa takes a break – its called monopoly in everything they touch. See Bill was forced to open up and we have google search engine and facebook and twitter etc.

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        Native, as usual you are shooting all directions except the target – Yanne koheda?Malle pol. For once let us be serious.—————-

        1) Write down a list of benefits of federalism.——————-
        2) Sketch a geographical map of proposed federal units ———————–
        3) Demonstrate that at least 90% of the Tamils (Tamil speaking people) in the island are benefitted—————–
        Soma

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          somass ji —- I do not know if there is any known cure for your paranoia. We in this forum have in the past adequately addressed your paranoia and public racism. Please do get on with your mundane life. It’s been a long time you have enjoyed a good riot. Go organize one.

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        Why should we worry about what others have? What matters is the condition of the country. All countries that had separatist issues did ultimately lose to the separatists when they became federal.
        And federal structure does not satisfy the grievances and the aspirations of the sinhala people. We have to consider sinhala poeples’ grievances and aspirations as well not only that of Tamils. :)

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    The monks as usual will put a spoke in the wheel like they did with the bandaranayake – chelvanayagam pact.Though we had a 25 year war after that they were not affected at all and lived a comfortable life while rest of the population suffered.

    They can give their opinion just like any other citizen,but if they want to block it they must take over the country and run it too without trying to be the puppeteers from shadows.Then only they will be held accountable by the people for the resulting consequences of their actions.The government should just tell them we will not go to parliament,you can go and run the country.

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    As a Sinhalese who is very much keen on the proposed constitution, I would like to respond to several key points.

    1. The Federal Party under the leadership of R. Sampanthan and M.A. Sumanthiran has repeatedly expressed its commitment to an undivided Sri Lanka since 2009.
    ///////
    I do not know anywhere R.Sampanthan had expressed any serious commitments to an undivided Sri Lanka since 2009. After all he cannot stand for Eelam publicly after 2009 even if he did not want to give up separatism. I know Sumanthiran had expressed that publicly though I do strongly question the honesty of it. Hence if we are to have any trust on TNA ( LTTE proxy as we remember) I would like to see the whole party DUMP the Vadukkodai resolution in a public event in Jaffna. Then I can see if they are real.

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    2. The Maha Sangha’s opposition to a new constitution that would devolve powers to the provinces shows that they continue to ignore the genuine grievances and legitimate aspirations of the minority communities.

    Do you think only the grievances and aspirations of minorities should be considered? After having Tamil as an official language and having no impediment for upward mobilization in the society for minorities, what else do the minorities have as grievances? It is the aspirations they have, not grievances. Should not the grievances and the aspirations of the Sinhalese matter? Only Tamils’ ideas must be taken into consideration and we prepare a constitution? Do you think that is fair?

    Sri Lanka is the homeland of the Sinhala people and where the Sinhala language evolved. It did not come here from India like Tamil. If we do not give the first place to Sinhala, can Sinhala survive in its own mother land?

    Do not you feel that it is unfair and ugly to ask for a foreign language to have the same status as the language that created the civilization in the island to have? Do you think Sinhala language can survive with three rabbit like growing Tamil speaking communities? So we have concerns.

    If ever a constitution change is done, in the rest of the country ( except N and E) Sinhala should be the ONLY official language. ( If anyone thinks I am being racist just read into what the Tamils in TN and Kannadigas in Karnataka do to preserve their mother tongue). I know Tamils consider the Sinhalese to be an inferior people to them, but remember they too have the right to preserve their language as much as Tamils in TN have.

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    3. Will those who are involved in drafting the new constitution come up with proposals that ensure the devolution of important powers like land and police to the provinces?
    /////////
    It is not even a month after the quarrel between Wiggie section and Sumanthiran section in TNA. When catholic fathers went to meet Wiggie, what did he say? He said he will subjugate the protesters using police and if he wants will use army as well. Now are you suggesting giving police powers to these people? If police powers are given to a chief minister, that will turn into chief minister’s private police.

    And east will see Islamic extremism rising like nothing without police check. And Tamils in east will be in the most difficult place.
    Even without land powers, ancient Sinhala places of worship are not safe in East. Temples and even stone pillars become some centuries old Arabic or Persian man’s burial ground suddenly. And the government with police powers can’t do anything to protect it.
    Are you suggesting us Sinhalese to give these men, police powers and dig our grave?

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    4. Will there be mechanisms or clauses in the constitution that guarantee that the judiciary cannot interpret the constitution as one that favors a centrist or unitary state even if the word unitary (ekiya rajya) is going to appear in the constitution in Sinhala as we are told?
    //////
    Now this clearly shows this is an attempt to hoodwink the Sinhala people. If you do not want the constitution to be unitary( ekeeya) why are you agreeing to have the word ‘ekeeya’ in Sinhala translation? Does your yahapalana government and TNA in constitution making team think Sinhala people are fools not to understand this?

    In fact the current constitution is NOT unitary. If you need just remove the word, as we already do not live in a unitary country.

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    5. Will the state be secular?
    I personally have no problem in secularism. I do not need that sentence put up to deceive the Buddhists as it has no constitutional power.

    6. Will there be mechanisms to protect the rights and freedoms of the country’s ethnic and religious minorities and non-territorial minorities such as Muslims in the Northern Province or Buddhists in the Eastern Province? ??
    Looking at the Northen CM who is even allergic to the idea of returning muslim and Sinhalese to north I hardly think so.

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      Could any one stop the Sinhala/Buddhist bigots rampaging through out the island with murderous rage claiming to be compassionate Buddhists? ——— The public racist senile HLDM needs someone to carry his clanking b***s and hold a spittoon right under his mouth. The fellow racist should consider helping him rather than spewing most stupidous utterences here.

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        But you were completely fine when Tamil bigots were rampaging through out the country with murderous rage claiming to be the victim of discrimination for 30 years? You have a government. The current government headed by RW has nothing to do with Sinhala people. ask them to act whenever any Sinhalese break the law.

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    You know what is the most laughable thing for me?
    Tamils wants Sinhala people to vote for a federal constitution as Tamils demand while they expect Sinhala people to prosecute its war winning army and political leadership…..man what do you smoke?

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    Please no more devolution and definitely no federal state. Enough is enough. We don’t have the money or resources to administer all this. There is no country in the world where what multi-cultural chauvinists preach is practiced, because its simply not practically possible. Even when you say “ensures devolution of power” it presupposes that an all-powerful central power exists, and is devolving power and therefore the equality you seek cannot be achieved. I hope you understand it. The goal of any solution should be to solve problems, and have a permanent solution, not to create more or continue the same problems. Devolution or a federal state will not solve the Tamil problem, because Tamils will never ever stop complaining. Its in their nature. They just want to cultivate their imagined victim-hood on one side and on the other side cultivate their superiority complex by saying stuff like they are the most cleverest etc etc. The Sinhalese people cannot cater to all the needs of the Tamils. Therefore there should be a separate country for Tamils. Its just not possible to administer and finance all the Tamil needs. As it is now the administration of the two language policies are costing a hell of a lot and the Tamils are still not happy. Its not possible to do anything more. There should be no more devolution. The ONLY solution is separation.

    Contd below

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      Punchi brain/Willi pointless—– Let us not waste time finding a solution for the “Tamil Problem”. Let the Hindians deal with it as they seem to have thousands of solutions , one tempting option among them is the division of the island. You are helping the Hindians to speed up the process. Are you an agent of Hindian 5th column?

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    Contd

    Also, from the Tamil perspective, its actually ridiculous and so totally unjust that they should accept to be subjugated and made to live in a military state. When the govt cannot remove the military 8 years after the war, it should be signal that something is terribly wrong. How can people live like that? They should be free to do what they want without been suspected of that this and the other. Get the UN to come and put all the Tamil speaking people in their TamilPeelam and build a huge wall and let them live in their Tamil state doing their Tamil things. The Sinhalese people have enough problems to solve, than feed this ungrateful minority. Let them make their own country and see how they solve their issues. Lets see how they are going to give university education to numbers equivalent to what the socalled Sinhalese govts have provided for them. When it comes to solving the Sinhalese people’s problems, first thing to do is to put the Sangha in place – if they want to be Buddhist monks they must be in temples doing temple things. No more politics for monks. Enough damage have been done by these free loaders, who are nothing but trouble makers. All the criminals and lazy donkeys go and put on robes and we have to feed them. Enoughhhh. When the Tamils get their own country, lets see who the Sangha are going to pick on. Really this nonsense must stop. With the Sangha on one side and the Tamil speaking communities on the other, no amount of devolution is going to bring lasting peace. First step => Let the Tamils create their own separate state.

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      Dear Punchi Point—————-

      “Let the Tamils create their own separate state.” ——————–

      I am one Sinhalese who has been promoting this idea on this column. Without exception all the responses demand the right to live anywhere even after formation of a separate unit for all Tamils (Tamil speaking people) showing how hypocritical Tamils are. Where do you stand? Do you think the Sinhalese can agree to this? In order to implement this proposal we must have a referendum among all Tamil speaking people in the island irrespective of their religion or the date of arrival. We can obtain international assistance for the necessary relocations. Await your response.————-
      Soma

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      LOL

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    The Maha Sangha is being manipulated by the State-behind-the-state. This State-behind-the-state is powerful enough to thwart criminal cases, bail out criminals, protect fugitives and so on. It will take several 08 January 2015 election results to stifle this State-behind-the-state but it will happen.

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    The tragedy of nationalist politics of any kind is its unwillingness to take a multi-faceted view of issues.
    One can make all manner of claims to gather support among one’s community, but what impact it will have on others is critically decisive.
    The FP/TNA has lost its credibility with the Tamils long ago. Placing its faith in the UNP led the FP to disaster only too often in history. What Sampanthan & Sumanthiran say or do will have no impact on the unfolding of events.
    Over-reliance on foreigners has made the Tamil leadership totally impotent.

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    The article is an admirable and thoughtful statement of what the Tamils should be doing, despite a pessimistic outlook for which the Tamils too are much to blame. I need not elaborate on this. I was at a meeting at the Managers’ Forum in Jaffna, where Prof. Tissa Vitharana spoke. He conveyed strong pessimism about the prospect of a constitution acceptable to all. Disturbingly he pointed to the role of a government minister in standing by extreme caricatures of Muslims and their alleged pursuit of a local Jihad at high level committee meetings, without being contradicted by other senior leaders present. His speech, Vitharana said, even pushed persons like Mahinda Rajapakse to backtrack after appearing to support strong measures to uphold the law against attacks on Muslims. Vitharana feared the real prospect of an outbreak against Muslims, similar to that against Tamils in 1983.

    Vitharana also said that in the absence of a leadership to counter mischievous propaganda, the prospect of a constitution with greater devolution is being grotesquely affirmed by Buddhist Clergy, Ranawaka, Weerawansa and their ilk as a fraud perpetrated on the Sinhalese and thereby to fan hate.

    In the light of this grim eventuality facing the country, the article is timely. Perhaps it is best for Tamils to accept that a political settlement is a long term aspiration and concentrate on educational and economic measures to safeguard the interests of the community. It needs to be pursued in alliance with the Muslims and Hill-Country Tamils, along with enlightened segments of the Sinhalese. The pressing issue as I see it is the rule of law rather than devolution.

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      Dr Hoole
      Any proposal for a solution which leaves the Tamil speaking people outside North East as they are is bound to generate greatest bloodshed. Present proposals on the table encompasses only Hindu and Christian Tamils in the North excluding those who prsctise Islam and those arrived during the British. Sinhalese should not and will not accept this. Either it is Tamil Homeland OR right to live anyehere , definely not Tamil Homeland AND right to live anywhere. ———–
      Soma

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    RH
    What was Tissa Vitharana’s performance like when he was yes-man to CBK and later MR?
    None of the present political leaders of the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Hill Country Tamils can deliver.
    More than them, it is the system in they operate.

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      SJ ——– Let us urge the peacefully rising middle kingdom to own, occupy and restructure this island. They can feed this island with plastic rice if necessary. The question of inviting Dalai Lama can be put to rest.

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    “The article is an admirable and thoughtful statement of what the Tamils should be doing, despite a pessimistic outlook for which the Tamils too are much to blame.”

    The article is just another of the ‘must be done’ and ‘should be done’ and ‘we want, we want’ .. no end to these demands and plans. Nothing is happening. Things are getting worse by the day. Jaffna is practically under military occupation, and nobody seems to care from their comfy homes in the western world.

    Time to take a decision and move on. The Tamils should press the UN for a separate state. No amount of devolution is going to bring any solutions. There is not even the slightest shadow that the Sinhalese will ever change their ways or the Tamils changing. If any solution other than two states is to be successful then both people must change. But that will not happen. This kind of writings is good to read. It is well written, and all honour to the author for that. But multicultural countries exist only in the fantasy world. To avoid another war, when the opportunity is there, Tamils should press the UN for a two state solution.

    Even Mr. Hoole’s post shows how polarized this country is when u say ‘….. concentrate on educational and economic measures to safeguard the interests of the community’. It is always ‘us vs them’ for the Tamils, even when they are being nice and planning for a peaceful co-existence. Tamils are simply not capable of thinking Sri Lanka as one community, but they have to break the population down into Tamil speaking people and the others, to plan anything. This where things went wrong in the first place, and it will not change.

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      Do you understand that this issue has nothing to do with TWO communities living together? In fact what you say about militarisation in Jaffna is a huge lie. Jaffna is not militarised as you want it to be.

      The conflict in SL is Tamils want to claim N and E of the country was exclusive tamil homeland while Sinhalese says they are not Tamil homeland.
      So one community is talking about an exclusive right to two provinces which two communities are saying there own. There is no doubt rest of the island is exclusive sinhala homeland while NE has a shared ownership.

      This is the issue and hence why separation cannot solve it.

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    This article asks the right questions however I am pessimistic that the Sinhala political establishment, irrespective of who is in government, will reduce their political hegemony of the island with the new constitution. The need to have full dominance over Tamils and other minorities in inherent within the Sinhala establishment and will not change in the foreseeable future. Tamils are going to be disappointed again.

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      Dear Richard, I agree with you that Tamils are not going to get anything substantial or for that matter nothing new from this government. Like all previous governments, all Sinhala governments will either be racists or pampering to racists. I have been saying in these columns that International intervention is absolutely necessary to grant justice to Tamils. This is exactly what happened in other countries with similar problem. Tamils have to go along with international community to get their legitimate rights to live in Srilanka with dignity and honour. Tamil leaders have been told to show goodwill and to compromise some of their demands to arrive at a compromise with Sinhalese. This is why Sampanthan attended independence celebration and raised the Srilanka flag. This is the reason why he had agreed to consider a solution in a united Srilanka and even accept unitary character of the state provided that substantial powers are devolved to North and east and that there will not be any interference from Sinhala dominated centre. Despite this Sinhalese and even Muslims are not willing to move forward clinging on to their entrenched position. For all purposes the current process of constitutional changes to grant Tamils legitimate rights will not go anywhere. Also other matters necessary for reconciliation such as settling displaced Tamils, releasing political prisoners especially those in custody for more than ten years without any charge and bringing war crimes to justice is woefully slow to the annoyance of foreign observers. Please not this tolerance of international community is not going to last long for Srilanka government to keep on hoodwinking them. This is the last chance and very soon decisive action will be taken against Srilanka to grant justice to Tamils.

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    Sach wrote: ‘Jaffna is not militarised as you want it to be ‘

    In my humble view, I think Jaffna has been under military control of one form or another since the late 1970’s. (This is true for most of the time for the rest of the country too, but not to thesame degree and intensity). Ofcourse it is not run as a military state, as I had stated, but thats how the military presence and involvement is understood by the general public. The not so unwarranted distrust of Tamils is too strong for the military activities ( inclusive surveillance), to cease. When you yourself say ‘Jaffna is not militarized as you want it to be ‘ I think you pretty much admit yourself that Jaffna is militarized, not to the degree of a military state as I had stated, but nevertheless militarized. Let us at least be honest about the situation, so that solutions can be found.

    In my view, more devolution or a federal state is not a solution, because Tamils will never stop complaining. Tamils do not see a way to develop the country as a whole, but always trying to make an ethnic issue of everything, and just looking after Tamil interest, regardless of the cost to the country. Ref. R Hoole’s way of living in a multicultural society ‘…concentrate on educational and economic measures to safeguard the interests of the community. ‘

    I think separation will solve alot of problems, because first of all the whining and complaining from the Tamil side will stop, and all their whining will have to be done to the ears of the likes of Wigneshwaran. Let’s see how these corrupt talentless Tamil politicians do some real politics, than making political careers of whining and complaining about ethnic issues.

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    ‘The conflict in SL is Tamils want to claim N and E of the country was exclusive tamil homeland while Sinhalese says they are not Tamil homeland….This is the issue and hence why separation cannot solve it’.

    As I see it, the homeland issue and the separate state issue are two different problems, but almost always perceived by all of us as a single issue. A homeland or an urheimat is where a people or a nation is born and formed, and they do not have any history outside that territory.

    The homeland issue should be settled with the help of the UN and international law. According to the proven history of the island and the region, this island is the island of the Sinhalese and the Tamil homeland is in Tamilnadu. Tamils have absolutely no valid historical claims to any part of this island as an exclusive homeland. Sinhalese should try to engage the UN and use international laws to get this island declared as the urheimat/homeland of the Sinhaelse.

    Even with such a declaration, a separate Tamil state could be made here, as creating a separate Tamil state here, does not require the Tamils being indigenous or that they have had a homeland here. There are a lot of states created on the graveyards of the indigenous people – USA, Canada. Everybody knows that these countries are not the original countries of the English or the French. Same way even if a separate Tamil state is created here, Tamils will not have a homeland here. Tamils in this island are basically a diaspora of Tamilakam (Tamilnadu). There’s no denying this fact. It goes without saying that the same people can’t have two homelands.

    Contd below….

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    Contd…

    It is the Sinhalese people who have the legitimate irrevocable historical and cultural claim to this island – the Sinhalese nation was born here and the Sinhalese state formation was here. Tamils cannot match this in anyway. Tamil nation was born in Tamilakam and the Tamil state formation was there. Its documented in the Tamil literature itself. The socalled Jaffna kingdom, was not an indigenous formation, but was a Pandyan occupation, which happened in the aftermath of a series invasions in the 13th century. In the relatively short time the Jaffna kingdom existed it was never really independent and was first under the Pandyans and then under the Vijayanagar empire, until the Portuguese put an end to it in 1620.

    Taking the proven history of the region, and the history of the Tamils, there cannot be any good arguments for a Tamil homeland/urheimat. A separate state is ofcourse is another question – there are very good reasons for a separate Tamil state, however unfair and unjust the Sinhalese might think it is.

    Therefore the unsolvable problem you are referring to, namely Tamils claiming that they have an exclusive homeland here, actually does not exist, but with the help of international laws, even such claims could be made invalid. In a legal claim the odds of Tamils winning such a case, is as great as the odds that they can prove that the Sinhalese king Devanampiyatissa was infact a Tamil named Thevanai Nambiya Thessan (LMAO). In other words, the odds are zero. I hope you get my point.

    Contd below….

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    Contd….

    The Tamils can engage in nonsensical (and illegal) historical revisionism, negation and falsifications as they wish, but they cannot convince anybody that their homeland/urheimat is here. The first time Tamils heard of king Devanampiyatissa is probably in the late 19th century when the British translated the Sinhalese people’s chronicles into English.

    The area they claim as their homeland and try to restrict Sinhalese settling down has historical, cultural and sentimental value for the Sinhalese. The whole area, has Sinhala Brahmi inscriptions from pre-Christian times. There is not a single Tamil brahmi inscription on rocks or caves found anywhere in the island upto this day. There are some potsherds with Tamil Brahmi found.

    A lot has been written about the Tamil claims to a homeland, everyone having their own views, it is high time this gets settled in an international arena, the UN or where ever such cases can be tried. With or without a separate Tamil state here, the Tamil homeland/urheimat will forever be in Tamilnadu, and this island will always be the island of the Sinhalese.

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