26 October, 2020

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The Post-War Wars

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“ The war will stop only after all the enemies who acted to the detriment of their motherland were brought to book irrespective of whether they were local or international”. –Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (Indian Express – 11.8.2009). 

If the LTTE wanted what the TNA is asking for, the Eelam War would have ended long before 2009, in a negotiated solution.

Vellupillai Pirapaharan did not want federalism or even confederation. He wanted Tiger Eelam, a state wholly owned by and totally subservient to him. His maximum programme was his only programme. Had he wanted anything less than Eelam, he would have accepted either the Oslo Declaration (federalism in a single country, supported by the SLFP and the UNP[i]) or the quasi-separationist ISGA. He rejected both as betrayals. Eventually he engineered the defeat of Ranil Wickremesinghe and the victory of Mahinda Rajapaksa, because he wanted to escape peace and re-embrace war.

Anyone who equates the TNA’s 2013 Manifesto and the Tiger agenda is either an inveterate ignoramus or a diabolical liar.

The current ‘LTTE = TNA’ cavalcade is being led by the President himself. According to him, the TNA is “taking forward the propaganda of slain LTTE Leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran…. there is no difference between what the TNA is saying today and what Prabhakaran said back then.”[ii] Brother Basil follows suit: “The election manifesto presented by the TNA is aimed…to create a conflict between the public in North and the South. The TNA tries to arouse racial feelings of the southern people and create a terror situation in the country again… (TNA Manifesto) is a representation of the opinion of Prabhakaran[iii].

Whither the Rajapaksas lead, the minions follow. Minister Dulles Alahapperuma proclaims that the TNA manifesto is a ‘cyanide capsule’, a document “prepared to ignite the fires in the South of the country”.[iv]

Lost in this inane-racist cacophony is the fact that the TNA and its Chief Ministerial candidate are equally unpalatable to the pro-Tiger Tamils of Tamil Nadu and the Diaspora. The Student Movement of Tamil Nadu is accusing Justice Wigneswaran of “joining the Sri Lankan government to set up a united Sri Lanka”[v] and fears that the TNA will try to ‘unite Sri Lanka’ if it wins the PC poll.

This shared Tiger-centrism is no accident. The Rajapaksas are the legally-begotten children of 1956 while the Tigers/pro-Tiger Tamils are the illegal offspring of that abomination. For both sides even a drop of moderation, an ounce of compromise is toxic. As children of maximalism, they need division and conflict. In peace, they will become irrelevant.

The Tigers rejected the Oslo Declaration because a North-South-International consensus on a federal solution would have presented them with two equally unappetising choices: changing radically or becoming superfluous. The Rajapaksas cannot allow ethno-religious reconciliation/solidarity for the same reason – survival and power. Sans a Tamil/Muslim/Christian bogey the Sinhalese will be free to focus on real-life issues. And if living conditions and living costs dominate the politico-electoral agenda, the Rajapaksas will find themselves bereft of slogans, arguments and a growing chunk of voters.

So permanent threats and omnipresent enemies constitute a Rajapaksa-lifeline. Their propaganda campaign against the TNA is aimed at refurbishing the image of the ‘Tamil Enemy’, for Sinhala consumption. The Muslim enemy and the Christian enemy are never far away.

The Sinhalese are not safe either, from this Rajapaksa voracity for enemies. For instance, the Weliweiya protests are being linked to a Grand Conspiracy, by Rajapaksa Spies and Rajapaksa Media: “The intelligence units have revealed that the Rathupaswala incident was the beginning of a conspiracy to shutdown factories in the country. It has become the objective of non-governmental organisations giving leadership to this conspiracy to create a crisis in the country by shutting down factories. The intelligence units reveal that another objective of these conspirators is to project that there is a labour crisis in the country. Their next step is to instigate the people in the villages against the operation of factories. The intelligence units state that the Rathupaswala incident was only the beginning of this conspiracy. They have said that these NGOs have planned to indirectly antagonise the people against the factories using environmental and moral issues.”[vi]

Thus the Rajapaksa-logic!

Enabling Anti-Minority Violence

This September 11th marked the 40th anniversary of the coup against the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende. That anti-democratic venture was enabled by the US, as newly declassified documents prove, again: In a discussion days after the coup, the then National Security Advisor, Henry Kissinger tells President Nixon, “We didn’t do it…. I mean we helped them….created the conditions as great as possible”[vii].

The Rajapaksas too are playing a similar enabling role in igniting ethno-religious conflicts. The anti-minority attacks continue, because the perpetrators are confident of Rajapaksa support and protection.

This situation is rather analogous to what happened in the North and the East in the early days of Rajapaksa Presidency. Throughout the final peace process, the LTTE tried to provoke the Lankan military into attacking civilian Tamils, unsuccessfully. But one and a half months into Rajapaksa presidency the military commenced ‘retaliatory-strikes’ against Tamil civlians. On December 23rd 2005, a Naval-bus came under a landmine attack in Pesalai, killing more than a dozen naval personnel. The Navy responded by attacking civilian Tamil residents[viii]. The state took no legal measures against the uniformed-culprits; more portentously, the incident was ignored by most of the Southern media.

Thus a new ethos, characterised by criminal-permissiveness and blanket-impunity, was born. It remains dominant post-war, creating an enabling environment for attacks on minorities and on dissenting Sinhalese (in Weliweriya, the army claimed that it fired a few shots into the air, after protestors threw homemade-bombs and shot a T56).

A core-belief of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism is the myth that Sinhala-Buddhists are never extremists per se; that they lapse into extremism, occasionally, only in reaction to minority crimes/misdemeanours. The burden of maintaining societal harmony thereby falls not on the majority but on the minorities. If the minorities do not want to be targeted, they must take care not to offend/frighten the majority.

And anything can anger the majority. It need not be a separate state. The Muslims/Christians never asked for a separate state, and the Tamils were not asking for one until the Vaddukkodai Resolution. Absolutely anything can provoke Sinhala-Buddhist anger/suspicion/fear – academic achievements/professional excellence on the part of the minorities, the way they dress, what they eat and how they live, their language or religion.

Every difference is suspect and can lead to violence.

The Rajapaksas have adopted this worldview, out of ideological conviction and political necessity.

If the Rajapaksa hate-campaign against the TNA results in an anti-Tamil explosion, they will blame and punish the TNA, in the name of racial-harmony.

A divided people in an undivided land – that is the Rajapaksa goal. Their peace is/will be characterised by a permanent cold-war between the communities, interspersed with outbursts of violence, which will be blamed on the minority-victims.

In his Nobel Lecture, Seamus Heaney referred to ‘wounded spots on the face of earth’.Sri Lanka is such a place. But while the Rajapaksas remain in power,Sri Lanka cannot heal, because they will persist in worsening old wounds and creating new ones.


[i] Even the JVP publicly expressed willingness to support negotiations based on the Oslo Declaration, as distinct from the ISGA

[v]Ceylon Today – 11.9.2013

[viii] “All residents were….lined up on the road in the scorching sun and were attacked with gun butts not sparing the women and children. Men were made to stand with their heads in a hole in the ground and were humiliated and kicked from behind…. Remains of a mother and her four year old son have been recovered from a house that was burnt by the Navy. Another parent and child are among those missing. Attacks on civilians reportedly continued into the following day. Naval personnel robbed a large quantity of gold from the residents. There was no attempt on the part of the Government to intervene promptly and reassure the civilians, leave alone acknowledge what happened. Among those admitted to hospital is a 5 year old boy with a broken skull. A naval man had rammed his gun barrel into the back of the boy’s head and penetrated it” (UTHR – Briefing No. 5 – 27.12.2005). The UTHR pointed out that if the regime took timely disciplinary action against SP Kapila Jayasekere for his role in the killing of five students in Trincomalee, the subsequent killing of aid workers in Mutur could have been avoided. Instead he was promoted to SSP, sending a clear signal to the police and the military. But perhaps the ‘original sin’ goes further; the Trinco killing may not have happened had the regime acted lawfully after the Navy’s attack on the residents of 100 Houses Housing Scheme in Mannar, in December 2005.

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Latest comments

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    The worst case scenario. If the Sinhellists (BBS/JHU/SR) succeed in their endeavour to create disharmony, then The ultimate solution for Tamils is to get an independent North and East of Sri Lanka. This is what the government should try to avoid at all costs.

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    the last para is absolutely true…

    the maggots thrieve on festering wounds..create new wounds.. that ultimately consumes the whole body….Sri Lanka is in the stage of pieces falling apart…

    “no crime on earth goes unpunished…” so said Lord Budhdha 2500 years ago…unfortunately the country is paying dearly for bearfaced action of a few….

    It is sad..

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    Tisaranee,

    “..Sans a Tamil/Muslim/Christian bogey the Sinhalese will be free to focus on real-life issues. And if living conditions and living costs dominate the politico-electoral agenda, the Rajapaksas will find themselves bereft of slogans, arguments and a growing chunk of voters…”

    Well said Tisaranee,

    but who does this, [Edited out] Always arousing patriotic feelings of Sinhala people by your one sided writings against Sinhala Buddhist nation ? , making MR/Gota s only saviors of Sinhala Buddhists ?

    How many times you wrote glorifying Christian US/West supported LTTE terrorism was decimated by Rajapakse regime ? tell me , how many times ???

    You talk about Allende .”.Salvador Allende. That anti-democratic venture was enabled by the US,..” yes we all knew US/West killed him & robbed independence of his people by US/West through NGO/INGO Mafia , but you yourself is now working for them against your country of birth, Sri Lanka, where do you stand ?? Survival from US$ from INGO/NGO mafia had taken your soul ?? isn’t it ?? now you are a dead skeleton only, no blood in it & writing nonsense. Pl. [Edited out]

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      John:
      Don’t you have enough to do pursuing the occupation after which you have been named? Do the ladies plying the oldest trade in the world give you time off to write this gibberish? Or do you practice as a p..p for one master and a whole army of mistresses?

      • 0
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        Palayang –

        Palayan Balla, F ur mother, you idiot write something worth reading, fu

  • 0
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    Its about time that the country recognized that successive regimes have relied on pitting one Ceylonese (I am avoiding Sri Lankan as the rut started after some politicians decided on this name the full version being Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka) against the other.

    We have so many young innocents called as terrorists (Sinhalese branded as JVP and Tamils branded as LTTE)and just being eliminated.

    We cannot progress as a country if we end up eliminating 10,000 to 30,000 bright young people every 15 years for no fault of theirs.

    The only way we can solve this problem is to punish the Killers, Never mind they could be in Uniforms or In Parliament or siblings of those parliamentarians. – International Help and Black listing is just one part of it.

    Thank god we have a large diaspora who are indeed displaced refugees out here everyone helps each other and the objectivity is to have accountability for these murders. Ceylon as we knew it when we were born there was far better than any country where we live now. 1 rupee was about a US Dollar then, everyone should know that.

    Its better to eliminate the cause- the total failure of the rulers, the politicians who used the democratic process to pit one community against the other to get elected and later being unable to provide for young people to live their dreams.

    Its far better to go after these Elected Elite rather than going after the young ones who have no where to go.You cannot do that by a vote as these guys know how to manipulate the voter, they have continuously done so.

    International Help is the only means to do it and any one seeking that help is not a traitor of the country but one who loves his country of birth and wants genuine progress in the country.

    I will always say that if there was no standardization there would have been no Prabaharan and of course no LTTE.

    Who was responsible for that Standardization the very one who who had the first set of murders committed calling them Terrorist JVP.

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    Rajapaksa’s speeches in the North evidently go down well with the non Vellala inhabitants.

    Rajapaksa only talks anout what they have now in just 4 years after Nanthikadal, and what he will provide more in terms of jobs , schools. hospitals recreation, housing security etc…

    Now that the TNA dressing up of the Tiger agenda as their Manifesto has come out in the open, non Vellala ex captives in particular must be wondering how Samabnadan and Sumanathiran going to achieve the Tiger agenda without the tactics and strategy used by previous separtists in the past including Prabakaran.

    One thing the inhabitants can expect is there won’t be child soldiers and suicide bombs.

    Because the elaborate security in place in the North will prevent them.

    Hartals, Mass demostrations and attacks on Security Forces with the hope of creating unrest and pogroms in the South is still possible,

    Ultimate aim there is to get the Diaspora backers Cameron Harper and Pillai to send in the peacekeepers.

    Rajapaksa hasn’t even touched on these ppossibilities to explain to the inhabitants what they are going to be in for if Sambandan and Sumanathiran get the Vellala CM to go against the Constitution.

    By the way ,has Vellala Wiggy signed the piece of paper given to him by the Election Commissiner to say he is going to abide by the 6th Ammendment.?.

    Do the Diasporians know that he has signed it?.

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      Sumanase Karava,

      Stop this verbal nonsence about your obsession with velallas.

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      Tsunamisekera:
      What is this Grimm’s Fairy Tales – “Rajapaksa’s speeches in the North evidently go down well with the non Vellala inhabitants.’
      They go down very well with his murderous foot soldiers of the north – Devananda and Co – and his bused in (under threat in the North) audiences.
      No houses to sell these days, buddy, or couldn’t find another bunch of suckers to cheat?

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    Tamils are a separate race and people that occupied the North East part of the island for millennia is a hard fact and cannot be wished away. Neither can it be denied through armed force of a combined force of 400,000 as in the ground today. The regime would like an ostrich-stance to save its skin from a crazed mob of an army of politicised
    un-Buddhist priests in the country. It must be said the thinking sections within the regime and the Sinhala side accept the reality contained in the TNA Manifesto. While Sinhala extremists within the Govt and outside claim TNA are playing the Separatist game, some sections of the Tamil diaspora and Tamilnadu charge TNA and disappointed and charge they are working with the Govt to usher in a United Sri Lanka. Interested sources on both sides are trying to capitalise in the ambiguities present.

    Like in several instances in the recent past, there is every possibility of army-inspired serious nation-wide disturbances in the country after the TNA election results are announced. The continuation of the failed Rajapakse regime in the future depends more on confusion and disorder laying the blame of non-governance outside than to accept the confusion flowing from an utterly bankrupt economy now seen in the spiralling cost of daily essentials, public transport, failure of social services in education, health etc., In as much as the July 1983 pogrom was to prevent the collapse of JRJ’s Govt then fearing legal action filed by the JVP and others, the Rajapakses will seek bloody diversion to cover their nakedness post-Sept 21.

    It is unfortunate the few enlightened intellectual constructs from the Sinhala intelligentsia seeing matters in perspective are dismissed either as traitors or anti-natinalists.

    Varathan

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      It is absolutely true that one of the the main reasons for the events of July 1983 during the JRJ regime was the state of the economy flowing from the effect of the disastrous economic policies that had been implemented ever since it took office in 1977.

      The author of this article is correct in his conclusion that the said events of July 1983 was a diversion to escape responsibility and culpability by the Old Fox flowing from those crony capitalist policies.The Tamils,trade unions, had to bear the brunt of that then.The spill over from that is now history.

      But the present regime under MR which finally put and end to the LTTE is following the same path of crony capitalism with the aid of borrowed capital as the Old Fox.The country is yet under dark clouds with majoritarian religious fundamentalism and naked racism playing the same diversionary role.

      The only difference is that the ruling family relatives,and cronies reap benefits while the rest suffer the impact of rising costs,fall in living standards,media censorship,police brutality,corruption, and official impunity.

      The minorities,trade unions, independent journalists who are true to their vocation and free from the temptation of filthy lucre, democrats,human right activists,non racists of all hues have to lead and continue to struggle on until the country emerges in the light democracy and freedom.When that happens no one need to fear about the country becoming split if TRUST is not betrayed and mutual suspicion eliminated between all sections of people who had inhabited the island over millions of years.It is that goal that must be achieved.

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    DearTG,
    Thank you for a very sensible unbiased analysis of the situation. Unfortunately the biased minds cannot see the truth on the wall.
    Hope wigneswaran the balanced man that he is, will be able to steer through the rapids and get the Northern council to improve the life of those victims of the war.

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      Mahen,
      You are correct.
      So much hype against TNA & the chief ministerial candidate is to prevent tamils achieving true status as citizens with equality in every sense of the word.

    • 0
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      In this reality, Truth has many faces.

      Who believes which one is the question and for what reason are the questions

  • 0
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    Is there a some kind of Game played here.

    TNA visited Canada and Washington to get funds and instructions how to organize their manifesto.

    Now, it is the Rajapakse’s are at fault.

    Besides, a few articles talking about the same topic.

  • 0
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    Very nice article. Federalism is not separate state. Although the Government is fear mongering, the truth is that federalism is not separate state.

    This is an excellent opportunity for Justice Wigneswaran to challenge Dulles and Gothabaya for an open debate on TV in Sinhala to make clear to the rest of Sri Lanka what Federalism means.

    If Justice Wigneswarn does not take this opportunity then he would have missed a very good chance to prove to rest of Sri Lanka and also rest of the world what people in the North really want.

  • 0
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    You ass don’t put your words in Prabakaran’s mouth what you wrote or told here is currenly going on in sri lanka with your family regime dictatorship
    and this is you want MR family did not want federalism or even confederation. we want Lion sri lanka, a state wholly owned by and totally subservient to me. my maximum program was mine only program

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      First of all it is clear that you do not know the meaning of Federal State. Federal State is not a separate state but a region within a country having administrative authority manage their own affairs. All developed countries have this system. What LTTE wanted was a separate state, which is different from Federal State. Do your home work before you attack people. Even Dulles Alahaperuma does not understand what Federalism means.

  • 0
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    Tisaranee, you say” If the LTTE wanted what the TNA is asking for, the Eelam War would have ended long before 2009, in a negotiated solution”.

    Have you got some more “JOKES” in your “LIBRARY” to issue to the media, so that we can enjoy during our spare time?

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      Douglas, she is correct and you are wrong. If LTTE asked for Federalism there would not have been this much of bloodshed.

    • 0
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      Simply TG is mourning the Death of PRAbhakaran because of his stupidity.

      Because of Stupidity Pabakaran lost his life but the CHURCH lost all they bet to build a VATICAN in JAFFNA.

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    This man does not have any other work to do. Talking always about the war it was over long time back ,let people forget war and leade peaceful life, pls you stop do war in Colombo and antoganize Muslims,Christian and Hindus.

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    Fear-mongering helped the neo-conservative Bush Jnr regime to pursue a campaign of terror in the Mid East, where ordinary Americans believed that Iraq for example had a hand in 9-11. Such is the nature of politics.

    Ego-centric majority perceptions that they can never be “wrong” is also a theme or attitude that politicians can play with, to their advantage.

    Ordinary citizens of Sri Lanka must resolve to start the healing process by extending their hand to their Tamil brothers and sisters without relying on the political will that may not really exist…

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    This man Gota Abaya does not have any other work to do. Talking always about the war it was over long time back ,let people forget war and leade peaceful life, pls you stop do war in Colombo and antoganize Muslims,Christian and Hindus.

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    TG, many thanks for a fine article. Gotabaya is a murderer who knew the art of killing from 1987/89 period as the Commander of the anti JVP unit in Matale. With him as the Defence Secratery Mahinda Rajapaksa expecting the same results. If we are going to create a United Sri Lanka we need the Tamils and Muslims to live in harmony with the Sinhalese. Rajapaksa’s should realise that Sri Lanka is not their Kingdom?

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