20 July, 2019

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The Tamil Homeland Question

By Rajan Hoole –

Rajan Hoole

Sri Lanka: A Haunted Nation – The Social Underpinnings Of Communal Violence– Part 7

The political significance of the Tamil Homeland question has been similarly ob- scured by a spectrum of Southerners minutely dissecting Tamil nationalist claims and arguing that they are very unreasonable. The po- litical content of Tamil claims that was not ad- dressed was the demand for security and the right to preserve their identity. The history of state inspired communal attacks in 1956, 1981 and 1983 are ample demonstration of that need. Tamil nationalist claims are again a reaction to a very partial history sponsored by the State and taught through school textbooks. This official history makes claims to the effect that the Sin- halese were the first civilised inhabitants of this land having moreover an ‘Aryan’ origin. The ‘Dravidian’ Tamils are said to have come later as invaders and destroyers.

Any attempt to question this – and many Sin- halese scholars have done so (e.g. R.A.L.H. Gunawardene and more recently, Sudharshan Seneviratne) – would be met by a host of articles in the Press, often by established scholars, bordering on abuse. Once Sinhalese nationalism became the state ideology, counter ideologies and counter myths from those who felt threatened were inevitable and became the most powerful tools for mobilisation around a nationalist cause. It is pointless to treat this in isolation of the larger context of myth-making. We are always in dan- ger of chasing after red herrings.

The Sansoni Commission, which was man- dated to go into the causes of the 1977 violence and suggest remedies, was guilty of it. By placing the main cause of the anti-Tamil violence on the Eelam (Separate State) cry, the Government of the day was largely let off the hook. Sansoni approvingly quoted Fr. Tissa Balasuriya of the Centre for Society and Religion, and later, also of the Citizens’ Committee for National Har- mony:

“The area of Eelam is about a third of the island surface… and in 1971 it was occupied by only about two million persons, or less than one-sixth of the entire population; it will have a coastline of about three-fifths of the entire coastline and about 85% of the entire popula- tion will be cramped into two-thirds of the entire surface.”

This is an unfortunate misrepresentation. The core Tamil demand has been against state-sponsored colonisation of the North-East aimed at demographic transformation. There was never objection to a gradual movement of Sinhalese to ply a trade, and many had done so and had blended into Jaffna life, lending colour to it. Like their counterparts in the South, TULF politicians too made grandiose nationalist speeches at elec- tion time, but then settled down to reality. Im- mediately after the 1977 elections Amirthalingam (the TULF leader) had tried to establish a close relationship with the UNP Government and kept on asking them through the 80s for ‘an adequate alternative to Tamil Eelam which they could place before the people’. Mr. Ronnie de Mel, then finance minister, testified in his Amirthalingam memorial address at the BMICH in 1993, that Amirthalingam’s approach to ne- gotiations had always been practical and con- structive (see also T. Sabaratnam’s The Murder of a Moderate). Ultimately, the TULF had been in 1981, even willing to try out District Development Councils as an ‘alternative to Eelam’.

Another red herring is the comparison of population with land area without taking into account carrying capacity. The North-East is in the dry zone and was before the middle of the 20th century, extremely unhealthy. Tamils living in that region comprised about 18% of the Island’s population in the British Administration’s census of 1824. By the 1901 census, they had progressively declined to14.5%, allowing for emigration from the North-East and the increase of the Island’s population resulting from the import of Indian Tamils into the plan- tations. This was mainly the result of a higher death rate in the dry-zone. Going by the ten year period covered by the 1921 census, although birth rates were fairly uniform, the annual natu- ral increase was typically 14 per 1000 in the largely Sinhalese wet-zone and 6 to 7 per 1000 among Tamils in the dry-zone. Only a few (rev- enue) divisions comprising the prosperous parts of the Jaffna peninsula had lower death rates similar to the wet-zone. Among the Tamils of the Mannar and Trincomalee districts and among Hill Country labour, death rates tended to equal birth rates or were higher. The high death rates for Sinhalese in the dry zone (i.e. Lower Uva) were similar to those for Tamils in corresponding areas. Population density is there- fore, an isolated and misleading concept in as- sessing the claims of a people to land.

With the advent of the Mahaveli River diversion scheme, there was a new argument (i.e. see Gunaratne’s For a Sovereign State) that with the North-East getting additional water resources from a huge state investment, the people of those areas cannot claim an exclusive right to settle- ment in newly irrigated lands. By 1983, as we have seen, the Ministry of Mahaveli and Lands was getting set for a huge push to establish Sin- halese settlements in the North-East. But the reality was that the Mahaveli Plan was largely a sales document. Apart from the North Central Province, it shows several areas in the north- west, north-east and east as potential beneficia- ries – thus making it look attractive to donors.

However, all schemes in this country have run short of water, leaving tail-enders in the lurch. Water is lost by dams silting up, changes in rainfall and by the water demands of politically influential encroachers. Leaders of the DUNF which broke away from the UNP, including Gamini Dissanayake and Lalith Athulathmudali, had discussions with the TULF before the latter’s death in April 1993. On the question of colonisation, they assured the TULF leaders that it was no longer an issue. There was no water for the Mahaveli scheme to go much further than it had. Had Gunaratne and his friends settled a large number of Sinhalese in the Yan Oya basin, there was no prospect of their farming with Mahaveli water. They would have been given shot guns and paid to do home guard duty, protecting the local army camp. This was the fate of settlers in System L – Weli Oya (see 14.3).

To be continued..

*From Rajan Hoole‘s “Sri Lanka: Arrogance of Power  – Myth, Decadence and Murder”. Thanks to Rajan for giving us permission to republish. To read earlier parts click here

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    Rajan Hoole, I would like you to answer one question:-

    “The po- litical content of Tamil claims that was not ad- dressed was the demand for security and the right to preserve their identity.”

    Although agreeing with the above statement, do you think that the Diaspora in the Western Countries are given “the right to preserve their identity”

    Will the Diaspora integrate with their Host Countries, or will more ‘Prabhakarans’ arise in these Countries in a hundred years’ time?

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      What a nonsensical question you ask? You need get it into your head that the Sri Lankan Tamils are as much Sri Lankans as the Sinhala. They are Tamil Sri Lankans; do you understand it? Post independence Sri Lanka failed to build a common Sri Lankan identity. The majority Sinhala Buddhists wanted to assert their identity projecting the Sinhala language and Buddhism nationally; this gave rise to the minority consciousness of their identity. If they do not, they fear of being compulsorily assimilated.

      The Tamils in the western countries and their identities are irrelevant in this context. Unless you are a Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinist who regard all the minorities as outsiders!

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        Burning Issue, you have got it all wrong.
        The question I am asking is whether it is better to seek Asylum in Foreign Countries, or stay in Sri Lanka and try to negotiate a Common Sri Lankan Identity.

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          Rationalist

          “stay in Sri Lanka and try to negotiate a Common Sri Lankan Identity.”

          Negotiate with whom?

          You mean with

          BBS, Ravana, Wimal Weerawansa, Sobitha, Kamalika Pieris, Champika, Jimsofty, Hela, Abhaya, Ella Kola, Vibhushana, Irathina Valli, Malinda, Jegath Dias, all the Silvas, Fonsekas, Pereras, Gota, Basil, Duminda, Mohan Pieris, Nalin de Silva, Karuna, KP, war criminals, thieves, child molesters, rapists, Sangha, Mervyn Silvas, Dayan, …………………20 million of them?

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        In India, the country consists of various communities like Bengalies,Punjabis,Gujeraties,Andraites,Keralites,Goans,Tamilians etc.,etc., all consisting of 28 states and seven Union Territories.There 27 states do not combine to arrogate an exclusive identity of being a majority and treat one state as minority.

        Whereas in SL there is a Sinhalese majority community and other minorities who have lived for centuries as native in the island as the Sinhalese majority.The Tamil community comes second in the list followed by others, but that reality is denied now by the Sinhalese majority saying there are no minorities in the island.
        Rationalist should understand that difference,otherwise he is not one.

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        The Burning Issue that I can not understand is why Tamils consider Tamilnadu as their MOTHER LAND, while SINHALA PEOPLE DON’T HAVE ANY WHERE ELSE to consider as MOTHER LAND ?

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    The core Tamil demand has been against state-sponsored colonisation of the North-East aimed at demographic transformation.

    Cecil Dharmasena of the Mahaweli authority had already responded to Hoole before on this subject. I am not sure why this Hoole fella keeps going in circles like a mad hatter when he was proven to be false.

    The Gal Oya scheme started in 1950s by D.S. Senanayake. This was the scheme that allegedly prompted the Federal Party to declare a “Tamil Homeland” in 1952. I think Chelvanayagam and Hoole has no clue of Geography because the Gal Oya scheme is in the Monaragala district of the Uva province – Not in North or East provinces.

    Furhtremore, the Gal Oya scheme accommodated more Tamil and Muslim settlers (i.e., 28.2% and 46.6% respectively) than Sinhala settlers (only 25.2%). And all Sinhalese were settled only in the fully Sinhala Wewagain Pattu of Ampara districts Thus, not a single Tamil was displaced, On the contrary, far more Tamils and Muslims (together 74.8% of the settlers) benefited from the Gal Oya project.

    Another little known fact was that the Gal-Oya reservoir (Senanayake Samudra) lies fully in the Moneragala district and its waters inundated hundreds of ancient Sinhala villages while this water benefited mostly Tamils and Muslims downstream.

    Sources :
    http://www.island.lk/2005/05/06/features1.html
    http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20060720_06

  • 0
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    Hoole,
    Why waste your and our time?Don’t you know that Taml Nadu is your homeland?

    • 0
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      Half Lion x Half North Indian x Half Tamil x Half kalla thoni x Half Portugese… Pot calling kettle black!!

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      Is it figment of your imagination? pro- Tamils such as Ravanas’s people have lived on the Island Of Eelam long before the birth of the Sinhala race.Further more, according to geological,archiological,historical and genetic evidence the Island of Eelam is an integral part of Thamilaakkam.

      Tamilnadu is not the homeland of The Eelam Tamils. Bangaladesh is the homeland of the Sinhalese.Don’t waste your time just piss off there.

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    its fine to transform the deemographic of Colombo or Kandy but not Jaffna . what freaking idiocy . how did this [Edited out]

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      Tamil racists living in Colombo should be sent to hell like in 1983. Then only they will realize the value of letting Sinhalese and Muslims live in Jaffna. Until then they will parasite on Sinhala homelands.

      Look at Muslims. Do we demand such nonsense? No.

      But some FOOLSIH Sinhalese attack Muslims and spare Tamils!!

      Kill the friend and embrace the enemy is the way of the modayas.

      Get together and get rid of Tamil Homeland believers.

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    Vibushana,

    Well said man. These Tamils go on talking about mythical homelands based on the boundaries drawn by British for administrative purposes. Embassies in Colombo know the real history

    • 0
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      Really, can you elaborate on the British drawn administrative areas?

    • 0
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      Adoi Sinhala modaya, when you going to use head…

      • 0
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        head ? does he have a head?

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        J.Muthu

        “Adoi Sinhala modaya, when you going to use head…”

        Like you he is never going to use his Nano brain.

  • 0
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    The demographics changed gradually under colonial occupation lasting 450 years. The last battle in Jaffna was led by Atapattu, and was lost with half (5000) the ill-equipped troops losing their lives.
    King Senerath in the capital Kandy, moved the Muslims (who had lost their homes in the western province under Portuguese rule)) to the eastern province. The king’s influence diminished in Jaffna peninsula and the Sinhala population in the main was evicted from there (giving rise to the Sinhala idiom ‘Don’t do Sankili/Sakkili deeds). Sinhala place names were Tamilised. Weligama became Velikammam)
    The Dutch broke a treaty and deprived the King of a port to trade with the outside world. He moved the Sinhala population away from the coast, and during the late Dutch period there was considerable Tamil movement into the eastern province making up a third of the population there today.
    The ‘traditional homeland’ canard can ONLY be sold to the bearded Chinese as the saying goes. The racist concept forwarded is that the Tamils DO NOT want Sinhala and Muslims (as evidenced by their eviction from the north) living in these areas in order to CREATE an apartheid Tamil ONLY entity there. The pleading to the South African ANC to create such an entity is laughable when the latter fought for years to reverse the apartheid regime that ruled over them..

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    The Tamil homeland is Tamil Nadu. Period.

    • 0
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      Absolutely!

      Tamil Nadu means Tamil homeland.

      Tamil Madu can’t understand it.

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    What Tamil homeland?? We first need a place for us, the humans.. That includes everyone.. The greatest thing the devil did was convince the world he din’t exist!! Lets keep talking shite and pretending we belong to some shit category or some race of people.. Go Team.. Go… Yeaah.. We are the best.. YOU FOOLS..

  • 0
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    Tamil homeland is obviously Tamil Nadu.

    There is no question about it.

    What has been SORTED OUT in the battle field is not up to negotiation!!

    • 0
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      ADaI muddal( fool), Pray To Allah that the mud in your head must be transformed into atleast a pea sized brain so that you also like other human beings of this world can understand the right from wrong.

      You are the most hated person on this forum.

    • 0
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      Dear Allah, Give this moron atleast a pea sized brain so that he can think and talk normally.He knows not what he is saying and he is talking through his rear end all the time. Oh allah help him and redeem him from his spastic creation.

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      I pray to God Allah (PBUH) please erase all Tamil presence from the resplendent island of Sri Lanka. May only Muslims and Sinhalese live in the island of Sri Lanka. God is Great!

      Ameen.

      • 0
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        You are a disgrace to the noble religion of Islam. You are committing haram by using evil language. You will be most certainly punished by Allah the almighty. You are doomed to self distruct as you are not walking on the path of the Holy prophet Mohamed . You are evil you are a non believer in your actions and you are there fore a kaffar.mend your ways or you will face eternal damnation.

        • 0
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          Allaho Akbar

  • 0
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    The tragedy of this country is that in politics, sport, education, and in almost all of its other civil associations, race, community and religion are the basis of association. A divisive policy implanted by the Colonial occupants of this land, still very much part of our psyche.
    Despite the fact that the old community based based cricket clubs are well and truly diluted the communal tag is retained in their title (eg SSC; Tamil Union; Moors; Malay, BRC.) Schools continue to be labelled Tamil Vidyalam & Hindu Colleges are spread across the land although they are State administered ones.Christian schools are identified by having names of Apostles and Saints.
    Interestingly, I know of no Schools bearing the title of Singhalese or Singhala.
    there may well be some.
    The communal basis of Politics are well known and essentially divisive.
    Whether it is the Rajan Hooles of Today or Professor Wilsons of Yesterday the Tamil Academics continue to demand some form of Self rule, in areas where they claim is their homeland.So do various Tamil political leaders.
    There is no reason for any one to claim autonomy over sections of this land if all the citizens of this country are treated equally, with out discrimination and the rule of law is applied universally.
    This must be the aim of all political parties especially the large so called national parties.
    This is what we as a nation must pursue to achieve a truly national identity.
    The divide and rule methodology of the colonials must be laid to rest once and for all.This includes the demand for a separate home land. The majority community in reciprocation must ensure that the minority enjoys the same rights and privileges that they enjoy and demand from a just society.
    There are amazing examples/models which have been tried,tested and proven in various parts of the world. One example of a unitary state is that of the United Kingdom where the absorption and assimilation of numerous ethnic minorities have been achieved by strengthening of the democratic institutions.

    • 0
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      Ranmal de Mel

      “A divisive policy implanted by the Colonial occupants of this land, still very much part of our psyche.”

      No,

      A divisive policy is very much part of your psyche. The colonialists used them to their advantage.

      The saying goes like this

      Kill the Veddah
      Rob the Buddha
      Blame the Sudda

      It is unbelievable that you are still blaming the Sudda for all the ills of this island even after 65 years of exclusive Sinhala/Buddhist rule.

      You need scapegoats, LTTE gone still you have plenty of choices, Tamils, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Veddhas, Tamilnadu Tamils, India, the entire west,Navi Pillai, UN, Karunanithy, Jayalalitha, Seeman, BJP, ……

      You can chose one of them when you are bored with the other.

      “There is no reason for any one to claim autonomy over sections of this land if all the citizens of this country are treated equally,”

      Fantastic idea. I never heard of it before.

      However I have my reasons to claim the entire land as ours – simply because this land once belonged to my ancestors, until the Kalllthonies from North/South India stole it from my people.

      You can go back to your motherland in India and preach your brethren what you have just told us

      “There is no reason for any one to claim autonomy over sections of this land if all the citizens of this country are treated equally, with out discrimination and the rule of law is applied universally.”

      Please go away we need our land and lively hood back.

    • 0
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      The tragedy of SL is TAMILS.

      They have a country in Tamil Nadu. Why the hell they want to crawl into SL and live in SL? No need.

      IF Tamils have dignity after 1939, 1956, 1959, 1977, 1983 and 2009 they should ALL be leaving SL. The problem is Tamils DON’T HAVE DIGNITY.

      Riot after riot, war after war, rape after rape they still booty lick the SL people and live in SL.

  • 0
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    Burning issue,

    I don’t have to elaborate on British drawn Administrative boundaries.
    It is up to you Tamils to convince the international community about your mythical homeland. Or start a a new war and try to get our country by force. Never give up just because you lost in 2009

  • 0
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    Ado Muthu,

    “Adoi Sinhala modaya, when you going to use head…”

    Waiting for your next VP to arrive on the scene. Then will use the head and plan another Nanthikaddal
    bye Kalu Ketha muthu

    • 0
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      Ravi Perera

      “Waiting for your next VP to arrive on the scene. Then will use the head and plan another Nanthikaddal”

      Don’t you have any other useful thing to do?

      You are an irredeemably stupid man, wasting your time waiting for VP’s second coming. India does not need VP mark 11.

      Go find a job worth doing and stop sending your women folk to Middle East.

    • 0
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      But wasn’t his head smashed with a gaping hole the size of Isaipiriya’s hole?

  • 0
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    pissa…..bloody tamil is writing crap all day long…stupid [Edited out]

    • 0
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      ela kolla

      “pissa…..bloody tamil is writing crap all day long…stupid [Edited out]”

      I am sorry I thought you are a Tamil and a secret admirer of VP.

    • 0
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      Doesn’t pissa mean lunatic in SL language?

      Pissa gotuwa is 134 bus if I remember right.

  • 0
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    There is no question about the Tamil homeland.

    Tamil homeland is Tamil Nadu!

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