23 September, 2019

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The Sinhala Alt-Right & The Tamil Question 

By Dayan Jayatilleka –

Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara asks “Simply show us how the Tamils are being discriminated against and where.” Answer: 1958 (read Tarzie Vittachi’s book ‘Emergency 58’) and Black July’83. The experience does not leave the collective memory of a community, easily. The first massacres of Sinhala civilians at Naiaru and Kokilai, Dollar and Kent farms, and Anuradhapura, came later, in late ’83, 1984 and 1985.

Sarath Weerasekara declares the Tamil question “a problem non-existent”. He goes on to say “The main argument of the separatist elements is that the Tamils in Sri Lanka are gravely discriminated against and not given their proper place in the society because they are Tamils”. Admiral Weerasekara does not know that the separatist Tamils have long since stopped basing their argument on the place they have in our society and the issue of discrimination. They base themselves primarily on the “right of national self-determination”.

This has been so from the Vadukkodai resolution of 1976 onwards, through the so-called Thimpu principles. Indeed the claim of distinct nationhood was contained several decades ago in the founding document of the Federal Party. It is the non-separatist Tamils and moderate Sinhalese who still talk mainly about discrimination and the place of Tamils in our society. Even Mr. Sampanthan and Mr. Sumanthiran, who aren’t exactly separatist, have moved on and talk about the “right of internal self-determination of the Tamil people”.

Admiral Weerasekara says “We are yet to receive an answer to the Tamil “problem”, except getting a barrage of terminologies such as Alienation, Aspirations, Submission etc.” The good admiral must brush up his reading or simply ask former President Mahinda Rajapaksa what was in the Report of the LLRC that he appointed and officially accepted.

So what did the LLRC appointed by President Rajapaksa have to conclude about the Tamil Question? The LLRC Report is its clear and unambiguous identification of the causes of the Sri Lankan conflict and crisis and answered the questions as to what the grievances of the Tamil community are, which of them are genuine and legitimate, and how they differ from the grievances of the Sinhala community. The relevant segments were entitled ‘Grievances of the Tamil Community’ ‘The Historical Background relating to Majority-Minority relationships in Sri Lanka’ and ‘The Different Phases in the Narrative of Tamil Grievances’ (pp. 291-294, 369-370). The LLRC made a diagnosis and provided a prescription:

“The Commission takes the view that the root cause of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka lies in the failure of successive Governments to address the genuine grievances of the Tamil people. The country may not have been confronted with a violent separatist agenda, if the political consensus at the time of independence had been sustained and if policies had been implemented to build up and strengthen the confidence of the minorities around the system which had gained a reasonable measure of acceptance. A political solution is imperative to address the causes of the conflict…” (p 291, articles 8.150, 8.151)

“…the success of ending armed conflict must be invested in an all-inclusive political process of dialogue and accommodation so that the conflict by other means will not continue… However, if these expectations were to become a reality in the form of a multi-ethnic nation at peace with itself in a democratic Sri Lanka, the Government and all political leaders must manifest political will and sincerity of purpose…” (Preamble, pp.1-2)

Any National Question anywhere (e.g. Quebec, Catalonia, Kurdistan) is NOT primarily about discrimination. If it were, the struggle would be for equal rights and integration, as was the Civil Rights movement of the US Blacks. So if Admiral Weerasekara wants to fight against Tamil secession or federalism or even autonomy of any sort within a unitary state, he must know what he is fighting against.

The basic point is that communities that collectively perceive themselves a nation or a nationality or a distinct people, ask for autonomy or self-determination in the geographic area that they form a compact mass and are in a majority. That may not be a good thing, and I think it is not in most cases except in those of colonial/foreign occupation (e.g. Palestine), but that’s beside the point. The issue is that the question of autonomy or self-rule is rooted in a geographic area and not defined by the percentage of people of that ethnicity who live outside the area. That is the National Question or the Nationalities Question or the Ethno-national Question.

Admiral Weerasekara says “We don’t agree with anybody justifying maximum devolution of power to North to address the artificially created “alienation” and “aspiration” issues, because they are non-existent.” Well, he had better take that up with his former Commander-in Chief, President Rajapaksa, whom I agree with, who declared in his speech at the commencement of the APRC (and the beginning of the war), that his formula is “maximum devolution within a unitary state”.

Sarath Weerasekara says the “UK is a United/Federal country and in that federation anyone can be elected as the PM.” I wonder whether he can quote a credentialed source which says that “the UK is a federal country and…a federation”. Even at the UPR at the UNHRC (Geneva), the UK defines itself in formal documents as a unitary state.

None of Sarath Weerasekara’s numerous postwar examples are from civil conflicts or internal wars. All his examples are of wars between/against countries. Why does he think the JVP was “allowed to continue” after the state militarily crushed its barbaric terrorist uprising?

In the post war period, President Rajapaksa was blocked from implementing his sincere efforts at implementing a political solution, including those commitments he made to India during wartime and to both India and the UN Secretary-General in the immediate aftermath of the victory. These commitments DID NOT include an accountability component with any international ingredient whatsoever, but it DID include a commitment by his handpicked troika (GR-BR-Lalith) during the war and by him in the two postwar joint communiques of May 21st and 23rd 2009, to implement the 13th amendment (NOT “fully” implement) and proceed to open a political dialogue with the representatives of the Tamil people.

President Rajapaksa did not renege on his commitment. It was he who held a free and fair election to the Northern Provincial Council in 2013, at a time when the massive military presence there could have been used to distort the result. Instead, the election resulted in Mr. Wigneswaran as Chief Minister, and he was sworn in by President Rajapaksa (on an occasion at which I too was an invitee).

What was almost irreparably damaging though was that the implementation of President Rajapaksa’s commitment was blocked from 2009 until 2013, causing him, the Govt. and the State to lose valuable time and space. By the time he held the election in 2013 the game had drastically changed in our disfavor. Nationally, our allies, the anti-Tiger Tamils (Douglas Devananda, D. Siddharthan, and Anandasangaree) had been weakened and the TNA had bounced back. Internationally, we had lost India, which had voted against us in Geneva in 2012 having been a strong ally in 2009.

What was the problem? It was the delay in implementing the 13th amendment as promised, and that delay was because the Sinhala Far Right was not merely against Tamil terrorism and separatism but against any form of territorial autonomy for the Tamils, and furthermore, it was not only against federalism—which is entirely laudable—but also against devolution within a unitary state in the concrete form of the 13th amendment which we had solemnly and repeatedly promised India, would be soon implemented!     

As we began losing India, we had to tilt more and more to China until finally, almost all our eggs were in the Chinese basket, except for one economic egg that was in the Japanese basket and allowed Japan to successfully nudge President Rajapaksa into the belated holding of the Northern Provincial Council election in 2013.

Some of the sentiments of the Hard Right (both the pro-Tiger ‘Mahaveera’ element of Northern society and the Tamil Diaspora as well as the Sinhala Alt-Right) remind me of an extensive definition I recently read which I would like to share with the admirable Admiral, his fellow travelers and the readers in general: 

“Political ideology stressing nationalism, militarism, centrally regulated private enterprise, the subordination of the individual to the state, and single party totalitarian government, usually under the dictatorial rule of a charismatic leader…The theorists who inspired fascist doctrine…tended to share a belief in the nation as a sacred entity in which individual interests must yield to national goals…In the fascist state, the individual is seen as subordinate to the community; rigid discipline and unquestioning acceptance of the state’s authority become an ethic of self-sacrifice and patriotic loyalty….While most fascist movements have espoused an extreme nationalism, German fascism was distinguished by racist ideals that transcended national boundaries…”

This is extracted from the entry on FASCISM in the large volume entitled ‘A World of Ideas: a Dictionary of Important Theories, Concepts, Beliefs, and Thinkers’, Ballantine Books, Random House, New York 1999 (p 132).

Admiral Weerasekara refers to this country as “Sinhale”. That archaic name was used before our demography, history, consciousness, and the world itself, had undergone a tectonic shift with an accompanying paradigm shift. The name is certainly light years away from the LLRC’s definition of this country as “a multiethnic nation”.

Since 1984 I have consistently supported provincial devolution and called for a political pincer move that would link the North and South. To this end, for three decades I have called for the South to implement the 13th amendment and the North and East to work the 13th amendment. That is the only viable political solution to the Tamil question in this, our time.        

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Latest comments

  • 8
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    All these donkey years, Dr.Dayan Jayatilleka gave the impression he is for devolution but only at district level. For the first time I am hearing him saying that “Since 1984 I have consistently supported provincial devolution and called for a political pincer move that would link the North and South. To this end, for three decades I have called for the South to implement the 13th Amendment and the North and East to work the 13th Amendment. That is the only viable political solution to the Tamil question in this, (our) time.” This is exactly what Tamil moderate leaders like R.Sampanthan and M.A.Sumanthiran have been articulating even at the risk of being dubbed as traitors by Tamil extremists and LTTE remnants. For too long -almost 70 years – the country has mired into communal and racist politics. The result is Sri Lanka is limping economically and crawling politically and way behind the tiny city state of Singapore.
    Singapore’s success as a mini-economic super power is entirely due to the vision of Lee Kuan Yew. Right from day one he wanted Singapore to be a secular state. He declared all 4 languages (Chinese, Malay, Tamil and English) official including Tamil. Tamil is spoken by only about 5% of the population. If he wanted he would have made Chinese Only as the official language. Chinese is spoken by 75% of the population.
    The people of Sri Lanka deserve better. Let us turn a new leaf and a new path to progress and prosperity. Dr. Jayatilleka should now come openly in support of the current constitutional process.

    • 1
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      Dear Thanam!

      Your request is: “Dr. Jayatilleka should now come openly in support of the current constitutional process.”

      But ‘the ROOT CAUSE’ of all the problems that we have been facing in our country is the imaginary and false doctrine of the Siňhala nation, the ‘ĀRYAN’ – SIŇHALA – SIŇHALESE – ‘THĒRAVĀDA’ BUDDHISM – LAŇKĀ Doctrine with one – to – one correspondence and the successive governments of SrīLaňkā dominated by the Siňhala Buddhists formulating their policies based on this imaginary and false doctrine and unilaterally implementing them.

      Thanam! Do you think that the present Government, Sinhala political parties and the Sinhala Theeravaada Buddhist nationalist “intellectuals” like Dayan and others would work for and formulate a new Constitution of Lanka that eradicates “the Root Cause” of the problem?

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        No the problem is the tamils tendency to invent myths as history and venerate these myths as fundamental truth without any proof to back them up.
        If you are referring to Mvmsa, please consult S.pathmanadan history professor of Jaffna Uni and learn about Mahavamsa

    • 3
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      As Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka has put it nice and clear,

      Even though Tamil grievances/discrimination existed and still exists in Sri Lanka, the National Question or the Tamil Question is NOT primarily about discrimination. The issue is that the question of federalism/maximum devolution or self-determination/autonomy is rooted in the geographic area (North & East) where the Tamils are the majority (very similar to Quebec, Catalonia, Kurdistan, and so on) and it is not defined by the percentage of Tamils who live outside the North & East (due to economic and other reasons).

      Since its inception in 1949, the Tamil party ITAK had been accused of being attempting to divide the country by espousing Federalism. This has led to the growth of an erroneous impression among the Sinhalese that Federalism amounts to Separatism. However, the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka delivered a landmark judgment of profound importance that has gone against the grain of this “Federalism is Separatism” fallacy. Federalism is not separation and it is the rights of North & East Tamils. Only its denial will force the Tamils to seek separation. Unfortunately, even 8 years after the war ended, the Sinhalese are still not willing to give the Tamils their due rights.

  • 2
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    CT should indicate the location of those who comment to this forum as most of them live in foreign countries as third class citizens and give their opinion to strengthen their position in the foreign land! To those who have left the country I say please mind your own business so that we who are living in this country can sort out our problems..

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      Good Idea. I live in the Middle East and I have objection for CT publishing my location with my comments. However, there is no way of verifying whether the information given by the commentator is correct or not.

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        Sorry. Correction. I live in the Middle East and I have NO objection for CT publishing my location with my comments.

    • 1
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      Ruwan,
      Are you living in our motherland? or Are you an American citizen like duplicate Gotapaya & Basil who robbed our money and bank it in Swiss? Who are you? can you prove yourself you born to a real Sinhala Buddhist parents? Did your ancestors are related to King Vijaya from south India?
      Our Srilanka is much cultured than you. Peace and love is our great gift of our buddhist culture, not brutal, murderous nasty culture. Be quite, don’t speak for people of this island.

  • 3
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    Sarath Weerasekara father Mendis Weerasekera soccer player.

  • 3
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    Lately, the third power, the most strongest in Lanakwe’s politics, Ayatollahs’ commission has denied possibilities of showing grace or doing any favor in the matter of Secret Solution to Tamils. But in the opposite direction, Ranil fired at the Media personnel for reporting whatever the Ayatollahs’ said. He did not say any one of these:
    1). I am the elected person; it will be my decision.
    2). If Ayatollahs had told that, it is wrong.
    3). Time to recognize the Tamils rights, Sinhala Mass cannot heed to these talks.
    Whether it is stated in the constitution or not, but Buddhism is ruling. Buddhism ruling the country is the main problem of Tamils.
    It is in that circumstances Thero de Silva is putting up this petty quarrel drama with his new colleague, The Rear Admirable and posing him as a person of Friend of Tamils. I do not know Thero’s that colleague is a one is rear admirable or front admirable. But other than Thero, no political personality has paid attention and replied to that petty one. Thero has a lot gain on giving importance to him. He is srite in own name in Mahavamsa.

    Tamils fought for 70 years against losing their rights. But the history was a day an inch of loss. There aren’t any single years Tamils weren’t humiliated or robbed their rights for the past 70 years. At the government level, not one Sinhala leader is ready to speak for Tamils rights.

  • 3
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    Tamils have come to self-determination as having seen unstoppable losing. Thero had mentioned in his preambles of the Petty Quarrel that Tamil would not have gone to Self-Determination if the SWRD- Chelva pact was not torn off. But, after that, he is telling to the Rear Admirable that if he is asking what Tamils problem is, “Tamils are not talking about problem, they are asking for equal status like other states asking for self Determination.” But Ireland, Scotland, Kurdistan, Catalonia or Quebec is not Tamil Eelam. Tamil Eelam is like South Sudan or East Timor. Even under Saddam Kurds may not have met what Tamils met under JR, Richard. P, Old King or Yahapalanaya. There was never a historical parallel between Tamil and Quebecois.
    The LLRC report was written to challenge UN SG’s Expert Panels’ report. Thero, a UN diplomat refused to accept the UN SG’s Expert Panels’ report and condemned it as Darusman Report. So the other UN Diplomat who wrote that report, Yasmin Sooka has been Thero worst enemy and nightmare, too. But now, as “after the eyes are lost Thero wants to pray the Sun”, so he has dusted the LLRC report and presenting it to Rear Admirable. Un Internal investigation report was leaked by BBC. American Resolution 30/1 is based on OISL report of September 2015. But Tamils accepts OISL report of March, 2015 where 42 Lankawe heads are accused of war crime. Thero does not want to talk to Rear Admirable about the report Wimal talked.

  • 0
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    This matter has been repeatedly debated from UK,USA,FRANCE, CANADA.GENEVA but no permanent solution has been found. If you collect all the paper on which this matter has been written, the length of the paper will be enough to fly a “kite” from Geneva to Srilanka. As long as Buddhism is given the foremost place and the Hamudruwans are considered the Guardians of Srilanka by the successive governments, we don’t need a government. Why waste money on elections, appoint a President, Prime Minister, ministers and Opposition Leader etc. Close Shop and let Srilanka be taken over by China/India/ America. ‘Amen’

    • 4
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      Thero is dupe master. He is telling to IC that Tamils are asking for Self – Determination because they have looked at Quebec or Catalonia.
      When Vattakottai Convention took place in 1976, Tamils did not know about these matters. After writing two peace fact one continuous giving up on negotiations, SJV was 110% sure that the Tamils have no way to escape from the hold Lord Soulbury handed over to Sinhala Government. That is why he resigned his KKS seat in 1972. SJV was never aware of Thero’s 13-. He never thought there after Sinhalese will allow Tamils to live in next to their neighborhood, even though 1983 Black July, Tamils last determination point to vacate South, tool place well after his demise. After giving up peaceful Satyagraha in 1961 for the army’s rapes and brutalities, he never thought there after the Tamils will be left alone to live in peaceful in their Tamils’ Neighborhoods. That time he said if Mahaveli Water comes to North, the Sinhala Colonization will flow with that water. Today, 150,000 army soldiers are forcefully occupying the Tamils neighborhoods, cultivating, trading, enjoying the fruit of the land, controlling and ruling the Tamils but the Tamil youths have lost their lives. This is what he said will happen before opposing the Sinhala projects in Tamil Lands? His ability to foresee things is beyond any other Tamil lived or living.
      If one Army person has to be reduced from North, it is possible only by Self-Determination. If one Tamils peasant has to get back his land, it is only possible by Self-Determination. If child get in the morning get down to the road to walk to school can come back home in the afternoon, it can be ensure only by Self Determination of North East.

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      If a North-East woman can continue to live her life with her husband, children & family peacefully, without ever present fear, it possible only by self Determination. If Tamils can be traveling in Lankawe busses or Yarl-Devi without wiping their Pottu, with the equal feeling with the Sinhalese, it is possible only under Self Determination.
      If a Tamil Sick or elderly, in time, can be admitted to a hospital and die a peaceful death, Tamils needs self-Determination. If Nallur being not be taken over like Kathirkamam and turned into a Buddhist temple, it is possible only by Self-Determination.
      If the Tamil community, who occupied 75% the government jobs wants to go 1% above the current 1-2%, it is possible only under Self-Determination. If the entire Tamil crowd have to be protected from being accused as terrorists and drug smuggling and brought, kept in Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa courts for life time, it is possible only by Self-Determination.
      They are asking it from UN. Even yesterday the New King brought people protested in Jaffa about the political imprisonment, and told them they are not political prisoners, but terrorist, so their cases will be determined by AG.
      Tamils are asking for Self-Determination not from Appe Aanduwa.
      In 1976 Tamils stopped seeking solution from Sinhala Governments seeking it well that is never- ever going to coming forth. That is reason they took arms. When they lost in that they started to seek justice outside of Lankawe. If UN can give a solution to Tamil, it has to be based on its conventions. It cannot interfere into a governmental matters controlled by their majority’ religious leaders.
      Tamils are equal to Sinhalese. That is recognized under conventions the UN convention. Tamils are a Minority with a state. UN can investigate the Genocide and conduct a referendum to Tamils’ Self-Determination and solve the problems for ever.

  • 2
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    Mannar Archbishop showed his estimate of 146,000 deaths in that LLRC commission. Other than that there was no political representation of Tamils in LLRC. (Thero accepts at least 100,000). Hakeem used that report to fool Mrs. Clinton with his National Action Plan of 10 years. (Now 10 years are finished, but Hakeem’s empty talk also is dead). So, no Tamils whoever could it be, have not accepted the LLRC’s report.

    Tamils were not just defeated in the Mullivaaikkaal, but their defeated in UNHRC too, in May, 2009. The Mullivaikkal victory was achieved by Old King and UNHRC victory was achieved by Thero. Thero used the Bush time’s anti-American feeling and Malayali crooks like, Nambiar, Narayan, Nirupamama, Shiv Shankar Menon, backed by Sonia’ India.
    Now Thero is shedding crocodile tears. Though no political leaders have opposed Buddhist Bald Heads meddling with Lankawe politics, here in CT many Sinhala writers have requested these monks to keep out their greed to political power and desire to rule. Thero has not been one of them. They have the holds but Rear Admirable has no say anywhere. If someone want to listen on Buddhist barbarisms , they have, Gnanam, Mangalarama, Athurilia Ratna, Udaya Gammanpila, Champika, Wimal…….. but not Rear Admirable.
    Then why Thero is playing this drama?

    He is opposing the Secret Solution Draft and upholding his 13-. His earnest plea is with all hearts and wills he wants the Sinhala mass to denounce the current Proposal. Then, by launching these petty quarrels he hopes to puff up the opposition to the Secret Solution in a subtle way. This, he targets to achieve by setting up an image for him as practical person. In 2009 he Thero defeated the Canadian resolution at UNHRC. Theo wants a name in 2019 as the one who defeated the Secret Solution.

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    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words. Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

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    Ruwan,
    Are you a nephew of or related in another way to one of the following :
    1. Gothapaya Rajapaksa
    2. Basil Rajapaksa
    3. Palitha Kohena
    4. Bogollagama
    5. T expert Gunaratne
    6. Vasudeva Nanayakara
    and many other politicians other readers will post soon.
    In recent history many overseas Vietnamese and Chinese contribute to the upliftment of their mother countries in political, social and economic matters.

    Lakshman Kadirgamar too was living overseas.

    Even Arat Mahinda and Bikuni Sangamitta came from overseas to enlighten the locals and convert them.

  • 2
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    Abimanasinghe,
    Do not give up. Follow “Mallaiyuran” method of “commenting in parts” to counter the smart patriot DJ’s deceptive analysis. Please expose DJ so that the readers can see whether he wears a loin cloth.

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    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words. Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

  • 0
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    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words. Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

  • 1
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    Appears as canvassing for Mahinda for next election.

  • 0
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    In reading the interesting definitions quoted by DJ it would be very curious how DJ would define the state of China………..Elaborating on Gen. Secy. Xi’s address to the 19th Congress would be a good start.

  • 0
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    DJ seems to have consciously omitted how NP was made a virtual mono ethnic province through the most successful ethic cleansing campaign in order to further the “self determination” BS. He also seems to be careful to avoid any references to the concerted efforts to enlarge the “self determined (let’s call it in it’s intended name……Eelam)” by co-opting the multi ethnic EP. What is the rationale DJ? By the way DJ also seems to want to have us forget about how the 13th amendment was enacted…….Is it now past and should we look to the future for another round of similar coercive campaigns of subjugation or is it enough’s enough and should the nation rise up? Should the rest of the nation accept whatever forced through their throat through threats, intimidation etc? It is the Tamil leadership who formed the separatist Tamil movement in the 1920s and earlier and then organised it under the Tamils State party in 1949 culminating with the political declaration of war in 1976 in Waddukkodai (this is well before 1983 mind you) that took the nation to Nandikadal in 2009. If the general Tamil population fallen for it, that’s no one else’s fault. Please don’t blame the Admiral and his support base for that (he is the only guy facing up to the Tamil separatist lobby at the moment. Not DJ with his often repeated international clout).

  • 0
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    Whenever the Sinhala right says something wrong, there are Sinhalese to correct them….but when it comes to Tamils all go behind the racists..that was what happened for 30 years and continue to do

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