23 October, 2017

There Are No “Pro-Tamil” Sinhalese

By Charles Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

Many may stand apart from the general current (because they are distracted, bored, indifferent or disdainful) but few actually have the independence of mind and courage of spirit to go against the powerful and destructive torrent.

Neville Jayaweera recently sent me his tribute to Adrian Wijemanne who died in July 2008 at the age of 81, and it serves as a kind of prolegomenon to what follows. Jayaweera takes note both of Wijemanne’s distinguished public career, and lauds him as a person who was “remarkably modest and devoid of ego, neither talking about himself nor ever deliberately seeking public profile or visibility”.  He was one who lived modestly, “never accepting payment either for lecturing or for writing” and having only his pension for an income. Yet, Jayaweera observes, such a human being was distanced by former colleagues, by most former close friends, and by some relations. Why? Because of his stance on Sri Lanka’s ethnic question: he was seen as a Sinhalese who was pro-Tamil. If colleagues, friends and relations did not understand him, then it’s not surprising that others heaped abuse, often intense and vulgar, on him; threatened and futilely tried to intimidate him with dire physical consequence.  (In another communication to me, and with reference to Wijemanne, Neville Jayaweera writes of “closet racists”: seemingly cultivated, liberal-minded and progressive in public but “troglodyte in private”.) Jayaweera, employing a Biblical reference, describes Wijemanne as a voice in the wilderness. One may add that it was, by and large, an unheard and certainly unheeded voice. But lines from Robert Frost’s poem, ‘Bereft’, come to mind: “Word I was in the house alone / Somehow must have gotten abroad / Word I was in my life alone / Word I had no one left but God.” The last would have more than sufficed for Adrian Wijemanne because he was a deeply religious man whose ethics and morals (they are not the same) were drawn from, and based on, his religion. But would it be accurate and correct to say that the few Adrian Wijemannes of Sri Lanka, both male and female, are pro-Tamil? This is what I seek to address here.

I used to suggest to students that there are three kinds of protest. The first is where I am unjustly treated and protest against it. The reaction is natural, quite understandable and to be expected. “If I am not for myself, who will be for me?” is a Talmudic saying used by Erich Fromm as an epigraph in his classic study, ‘Escape From Freedom’ (1941).

The second is if I protest at the treatment meted out to, say, a group living in the Amazon forest or to the occupation of Tibet. That would be disinterested protest on my part, ‘disinterested’ being differentiated from ‘uninterested’ and defined as action, verbal or otherwise, not influenced by considerations of personal or group advantage.

The third type is when I protest against injustice, even though I and the group to which I belong profit by that injustice, be it in terms of material advantage or status. Such a stance – noble, brave and unselfish – is rare and met with incomprehension by the majority. It carries a heavy and painful price, one which Wijemanne paid. Doris Lessing, Nobel-Prize winner who died recently, comes to mind because she strongly and publicly opposed the government of Ian Smith in what was then Rhodesia, even though members of her family were serving in the armed forces of the regime. Similarly, some whites in America joined the African-American Civil Rights movement. White supremacists hated them even more than they disliked African Americans, branding them “Nigger lovers”. (In a situation where blanket group-superiority is assumed and asserted, every member of the group can believe he or she is superior to all who do not belong, irrespective of intelligence, character, conduct or contribution to society: “I may be ignorant, crude and brutal, but I belong to the master group and, therefore, am superior to you”.) But those white Americans were not fighting for blacks but for the recognition of a common humanity which, in turn, leads to inclusion and full equality. South African apartheid was sold internationally as separate but equal development. (Western powers knew full well that it was separate and grossly and cruelly unequal but pretended to believe in the claim.) Of the several whites who fought against the injustice of apartheid, I would mention Bram Fischer. He was not only white but came from a prominent Afrikaner family: his father was a Judge President of the Orange Free State; his grandfather, a prime minister of the Orange River Colony. (Imagine the son of a Sinhalese ‘racist’ becoming a champion of equality.) Imprisoned for supporting The African National Congress and Nelson Mandela, terminally-ill Fischer was released and allowed to spend his last days under house arrest entirely because of international publicity and outcry. Looking elsewhere, Gandhi fought against the inhumane caste system even though, presumably, he being a Brahmin, stood to gain by the continuation of that pernicious belief and system, one that the Compassionate Buddha rejected. Some of the most forceful criticisms of Israel policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians I have read have been written by Jews. Apropos, it is a Jewish professor, Shlomo Sand, living and teaching in Israel, who wrote a book, ‘The Invention of the Jewish People’, questioning Jewish identity: see, Sarvan, Groundviews, 3 July 2013.  A simple couple in Germany, having decided to oppose Nazism, wrote anonymous cards and left them where they would be picked up and read. They were not pro English; they were not traitors working against ‘race’ and country. They knew their action would have no impact at all; they knew they would soon end in the hands of the dreadful and dreaded Gestapo, and be killed. It was suicidal, yet they felt they had no moral choice but to act: see, Hans Fallada, ‘Alone in Berlin’. Such individuals, though few in number, restore hope both in, and for, humanity. The world seems to be a better place because of them – whether the cause they espoused succeeded or failed. They may be voices in the desert largely unheard and, when heard, unheeded but they are not entirely alone.

This brings me back to what I term the Adrian Wijemannes of Sri Lanka, and to words in Neville Jayaweera’s tribute: “I believe that what motivated Wijemanne was a total dedication to justice and righteousness”. This is the essence: dedication not to a group but to justice. The Wijemannes of Sri Lanka are not pro-Tamil but pro humanity; pro such concepts as equality, justice, decency and kindness. If the Sinhalese had been discriminated against; if the Sinhalese had been oppressed, the Adrian Wijemannes would fight with equal courage and self-sacrifice. One can draw a parallel with Nelson Mandela’s declaration during his trial (1964): “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities” (emphasis added).

The fundamental beliefs and resulting conduct of  “the Adrian Wijemannes of Sri Lanka” are incomprehensible to others. Not being able to appreciate their commitment to lofty abstractions, they simply see it as being pro-Tamil. The syllogism seems to run as follows: She (or he) is pro-Tamil. Anyone who is pro-Tamil is, ipso facto, anti-Sinhalese. Therefore, she or he is a traitor. That the Wijemannes are not pro a group but are strongly “pro” ideals of equality, decency and fair-play is beyond their comprehension. Besides, for them to accept that the Wijemannes of this world stand for justice for all irrespective of skin-colour, religion or ethnic group is to admit that they themselves are ‘racist’ and unjust.

I hope it is clear this is not about Adrian Wijemanne the individual but about Adrian Wijemannes in the plural, male and female. To label them “pro-Tamil” is to avoid, through calumny, facing fundamental political and moral issues. It is easier to damn the Adrian Wijemannes than to examine the truth about oneself. The surface manifestation may be “pro Tamil” but the struggle, at root and as ever, is for justice; for a common and equal humanity.

There are, I suggest, no “pro-Tamil” Sinhalese but only some Sinhalese who never forget that every “you” is also an “I”.

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Latest comments

  • 2
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    “There Are No “Pro-Tamil” Sinhalese”: I agree but it is more appropriate to say; most Sinhalese are anti-Tamil.

    That is why one day this wretched country will become rump state of Sri Lanka catering to Sinhala Buddhist aspirations of supremacy over others.

    • 0
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      I am not anti-Tamil, I am anti-separatists period

      • 1
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        Banda

        “I am not anti-Tamil, I am anti-separatists period”

        You do not know who you are hence you could not fathom out the differences between being anti-Tamil and anti-separatists.

        For an Aryan/Sinhala/land grabbing/Buddhist even those differences do not matter.

        Have you finished reading Prof Gunawardana’s papers?

      • 1
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        Banda,

        Dont talk rubbish. We were not born Seperatist or Terrorists ( We call Freedom Fighters ). We were turned into those by your atrocities over 63 years which is still continuing and MR is a born RACIST.

  • 0
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    Prof. Charles Sarvan,

    There are many ‘Adrian Wijemannes’ amongst the Sinhalese you may never have met nor heard of, BUT they do exist.

    • 0
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      Yes, Peace Dove. Certainly.
      But too few to be a collective Voice that could be heard.

  • 0
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    Tell me, Mr Sarvan. Are there really any Pro-Sinhalese Tamils?

    • 0
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      Good one man!!!!!!!!!!! :-)

      • 0
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        It seems Goofy and Perali Murali both have commented just by looking at the title without reading the full article.
        Prof Sarvan says that “the Wijemannes of Sri Lanka are not pro-Tamil but pro humanity; pro such concepts as equality, justice, decency and kindness”. I do agree with comments of Peace Dove and Davidson Panabokke. We can have pro Sinhalese Tamils if the majority Sinhalese treat the Tamils equally. Always the majority should treat the minority well to be fair. This article should be translated and sent to Wimal Weera(gon)wansa,Hela Uru(Karu)maya,BBS, Nalin De Silva , Gunadasa Amarasekara and the Rajapaksas.

    • 0
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      All Tamils will be pro-Sinhala, if they are convinced that the Sinhalese who matter in this country are not anti-Tamil. The problem is that a part is being confused with the whole. This is a problem in both communities. The part is noisier , aggressive , has the abilty to express itself in many ways, rides the political saddle and has an ever ready media to amplify its noise. This is the calmitous flaw in the so-called democracy we practice. There are also a sizeable number of Tamils who are pro-Sinharese, because they can differentiate between the rotten part and the wholesome rest. They are also the Tamils who consider themselves a part of the Sri Lankan whole.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      • 0
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        Tamils can not be Pro-Sinhala ever.

        See for hundred years, Tamils in Sri Lanka, say Tamils and Sinhalas are from one stock, yet they promote Tamilness.

        See how Indian Tamils do. they are anti-aryan, anti-hindu, anti-hindi. Indian tamils instead of hindi mixed Tamil talk english mixed Tamil and they love to imitate British Europeans.

        Tell me If I am wrong.

        • 0
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          JimSofty

          “Tell me If I am wrong.”

          I was hoping to watch a home grown thriller when your Master Cameron visited this island to tell MR off on the sidelines of Commonwealth Thamasas.

          There were no shoot out, arrest, commotion, everything was very quiet in the Galface front.

          There were no attempted citizen arrest of this western war criminal, no punch up with British security forces, no diplomatic incident, no Weerawansa’s farce onto death threat, Mervyn was nowhere to be seen, ….Dayan didn’t recycle his “all positions at the same” position, Whats wrong with you brave hearts?

          Where were you, hiding behind your women folks? VP was not around to help you either.

          You Sinhala/Buddhists are a useless lot. You have disappointed me.

        • 0
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          When Sinhala people were in trouble, Sir Pon Ramanathan went all the way to UK to sort that.

        • 0
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          Jim Softy,

          Do Tamilness and Sinhalaness preclude both communities being Sri Lankans? Are you suggesting that Tamils have to adopt Sinhalaness to be Sri Lankans? Why cannot the Tamils then demand the reverse process?

          What happens in Tamil Nadu on the political front is not our- Tamils- concern. The Tamils there are citizens of another country and are natives of the land they live in. We are Sri Lankans and are rooted in this land. Even the hill country Tamils have been in this country for hundreds of years and by right belong to this land now.

          Let us move forward in this 21st century by adopting values that have made the world a global village.

          Dr.RN

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          Dear Jim Softy

          I would like to answer your points one by one.Firstly yes Tamils and Sinhalese are from the same stock recent genetic testing and research shows that the sinhalese are very closely related to south indian groups and the physical appearance of most sinhalese proves. secondly it was largely the sinhalese leaders who fell for the british created aryan theories and started calling themselves aryans eventhough the majority of sinhalese are more similar to south indian or australoid.

          As for your point about the Indian tamils again it was the north indian leaders who again fell for the british created aryan theory and tried to potray north indians as aryans in order to make them feel superior. This eventhough the vast majority of North Indians are NOT aryans infact the vast majority of north indians(70%) are more similar to dravidian than aryan. Only the ruling classes amongst the North Indians are aryans or indo european the rest are no different from south indians.

          Finally can you really blame south indians for shunning north indian culture. If you read about india you will find out that the most poorest backwards and illiterate parts of india are in the north of india. So of course given the choice they would rather follow british europeans. Also you have to remember that it was because of the mastery of the english language that tamilnadu and the south of india are ahead of the north of india. Whatever you say about the indian tamils you have to say they got it right in terms of development and education.

    • 0
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      Perali Murali , don’t be purali,

      When the majority of the Sinhalese are Sinhala Buddhist Supremacists how can there be a Pro-Sinhalese Tamil?

      This is like asking why are there no pro-Nazi Jews!

      • 0
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        Good one.

    • 0
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      Perali Murali….!!? The name suits you well.

      Show me anywhere on earth a Rat that’s pro Cat, A Cat that’s pro Dog, A Pigeon that’s pro vulture !!?…and the list is endless. You all have been made to be deaf, blind and idiotic over the criminal ways of life run by MaRas…….!!!

      • 1
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        Well said, you are not a Devil!

        • 0
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          Thiru ..!!?

          Tell me…Why !!?

    • 0
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      Lakshman Kadirgamar?

      • 0
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        Lakshman Pro Sri Lankan

        • 0
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          The problem is that both races have forgotten that they are the off shoot of one group that lived in Sri Lanka many moons ago. Both the present day Sinhalese and the Tamils arose from one stock. There are many papers published by Historians of Sinhala stock to this effect. It is the mean minded jokers like my brother,Walle Gunawansa,Madnasinghe ( Sec BBS)Jarawansa of the PPN sex pervert of the JHU who denies this

          • 0
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            Medalankara de Choppe

            “There are many papers published by Historians of Sinhala stock to this effect.”

            Could you let us have details of all such papers. Thanks

    • 0
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      What about those Tamils that assaulted a Sinhala monk in Tamil Nad, No Tamil there came tried to rescue the monk. Those Tamil are pro Sinhala ain’t they.

      • 0
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        I am no muslim

        “What about those Tamils that assaulted a Sinhala monk in Tamil Nad”

        What about it?

    • 0
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      Perali Murali

      “Tell me, Mr Sarvan. Are there really any Pro-Sinhalese Tamils?”

      Of course there are, Karuna, Douglas, KP, Pillayan, Daya Master, Murali, …..

      There were GG, Kathigamar, Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan, …….and many more.

      Don’t forget VP for his adventures, he fought against the IPKF and kicked the invading forces away from this island while Sinhalese leaders and their Armed forces were hiding behind their women folks.

      VP tirelessly worked for the Sinhalese since founding of his LTTE. In fact he obliterated all democratic resistance against the state among his people which helped the government to easily wipe out his LTTE.

      VP also immensely helped MR to be elected as president. The last time I checked, MR was still the Sinhala/Buddhist president of this island.

      Perali Murali

      You should be grateful to Tamils.

      • 0
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        President Premadasa once said that VP was fit to command the Sri Lankan army, becauase he fought the IPKF!

        Dr.RN

        • 0
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          LMAO .

          • 0
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            Abhaya Premawardena

            “LMAO”

            It is good for your heart, if you have one.

    • 0
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      The Tamils were NEVER anti-Sinhala. They want the Sinhala language,culture and traditions to prosper. BUT, at the same time they want to preserve their distinct identity,which unfortunately appears to be a ‘threat’ to the Sinhala identity to some Mis-informed Sinhalese, but can never be so. All that the Tamils ask is ‘Live and let Live’!

      Sengodan. M

    • 0
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      There are pro-Sinhalese Tamils by the tens of thousands. Why, I believe
      the popular CM/NPC Justice Vigneswaren is one – while being a passionate Tamil nationalist – deeply concerned with the plight what Tamils went through and determined to secure justice for them. If we are to believe President Rajapakse, he is not anti-Tamil while being stridently Sinhala nationalist. The lesson here is one can be deeply for your own while not denying due rights to the other.

      Kettikaran

    • 0
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      Yes the other Murali amman and KP

    • 0
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      Murali,

      I hope you are not the half Tamil half( soul) Sinhalese Cricketer Muralitharan who doesnt want to dig the past just in case he finds his balls buried.

      It doesnt matter as a Tamil whether you are Pro or Anti Sinhalese as a minority you dont controll anything.
      It matters if you are a Majority as you control everything from

      Leading the Country
      Control the Army, Navy, Police Force and the Navy.

  • 0
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    I have read Adrian Wijemanne’s articles: He is a noble man.

    Today I can name a few: Brian Senivaratne and Vikramabahu Karunaratne, whom I know from university days, and he has not deviated from his principles of equality and justice in 47 years since I last met him.

  • 0
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    From his writings, it has to be construed that Adrian Wjemanne was indeed “remarkably modest and devoid of ego, neither talking about himself nor ever deliberately seeking public profile or visibility”. Even for some so called Marxists who prided themselves to be progressives amongst the Sinhalese he was not only seen as a pro Tamil but even as a pro “Tiger”. They even thought that he was out of his mind. Some of his articles did reflect his justification of the rise Tamil militancy. Brian Senewiratne, Neville Jayaweera and the late Rev. Lakshman Wicremasinghe stand out as the more articulate amongst the Sinhalese of the caliber of the late Wijemanne. There are also the thousands of the others amongst the well meaning Sinhalese people who hold the same views. Unfortunately the Tamil polity have sadly failed to adequately pay their gratitude to Wijemanne and Wickremasinghe.

    • 0
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      What about Ranil Wickramasinghe.

  • 0
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    ” There Are No “Pro-Tamil” Sinhalese “

    I am not surprised, and the expectation is unrealistic. There are many a humanitarian amongst the Sinhala, but they are silenced by the Rajan Hooles who twist and turn history in their pursuit of a fantasy.

    • 0
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      Hooles dont recognize even Hindus as Tamils. CSI is a slave church and promote anti-hindu ideology!

  • 0
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    Are there any pro-Sinhala Tamils?

    • 0
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      Murali pro MR

  • 0
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    why do you need a pro Tamil-Sinhalease and vice versa and pro Musilm-Sinalease and pro Sinhala-muslim and pro burgeher that and this

    …if all treated equally by the constitution and if all political parties encourage unity and harmony

    instead of committing silly acts such as writting ayubowan in Tamil ands Sinhala during CHOGAM

  • 0
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    Prof. Charles Sarvan,

    I’m amazed that a man of your intellect holds such myopic views.

    There may not be many ‘Adrian Wijemannes’ amidst the capitalist bourgeois you mingle with.

    But I assure you that at the grass-roots where I come from ‘Adrian Wijemannes’ are dime a dime a dozen amongst the Sinhalese.

    • 0
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      This is true Muththa. The more educated one is, the more racist one finds. True of both Sinhalese and Tamil.

  • 0
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    There are no pro-Sinhala Tamils. There are Sinhala – hating Tamils, most of them.

  • 0
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    Lallu

    The fact of the matter is There are Muslim hating Tamils, all of them and there are Muslim hating Sinhalese,all of them.

  • 0
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    One thing for sure Pro-Tamil Sinhalese and Pro-Mara Sinhalese are mutually exclusive. How about the Sinhalese turned Tamils. I bet they number thousands. Can we call them pre-tamils.

  • 0
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    Profesor of what? Shit stirrers!!! For your information, I have many friends whom I associate for their good qualities. They happened to be Tamil must be a miracle, according to your warped thinking. Get lost idiot.

    • 0
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      bo

      Are you a Tamil?

  • 0
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    It is much more important to be pro-Human than to be a pro-Sinhalese or pro-Tamils etc. One who can Love and stand for the rights of one’s brothers and sisters irrespective of their caste, creed or what ever difference.

    • 0
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      Bro. Nicholas

      “One who can Love and stand for the rights of one’s brothers and sisters irrespective of their caste, creed or what ever difference.”

      For this to happen we will have to await for the second coming of Buddha, Jesus, Ghanti, Ramana Maharishi, ……………..

    • 0
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      Thank you Brother. From the day I was born I found mainly hate speeches publicized in newspapers; and none elaborates on loving but hating. Read every column,about Sri Lanka, it is as if God commanded us to hate. The phrase love your neighbor sounds too exotic to be possible for Sri Lankans. Our poor children will be less human at this rate and our grandchildren, more like beasts within.Speak brother.

  • 0
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    “’m amazed that a man of your intellect holds such myopic views.”

    what intellect . they are all frustrated clowns . just because you have a phd or have prof in front of your name you are not an intellect . This is why there are so few true south asian inventors .

    • 0
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      Abhaya, you talk rubbish as usual. Are you not capable of a single intelligent comment? Donkey braying to the moon!

      • 0
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        Donkeys dont bray to the moon donkey .

        • 0
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          Abhaya Premawardena

          “Donkeys dont bray to the moon donkey”

          Its not surprising that being a Sinhala/Buddhist bigot you do everything unnatural.

  • 0
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    I would add Bishop Laksman Wickremasinghe to be another. Wijeyamanne.

  • 0
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    I find the original article to be a fine piece by Sarwan and the comments after to show who the Sinhala and Tamil racists are among us.

    I salute the moderates and the voices of sanity among those who contributed!

    Even in the middle of darkness, these voices should not be stilled.

  • 0
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    Uncle of Ranil Wickramasinghe recognize the Tamil Christians only.

  • 0
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    What strange creatures on this planet!

    The species called Humans all look the same to me as an alien, but yet they fight over being “pro” and “against” one another. Strange indeed!

  • 0
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    When will we all realise that in this little island, being pro sinhalese entails being pro tamil, pro muslim etc. also? And vice versa.

    Effective selfishness ENTAILS positive relationship with the other-s in our neighbourhood.

    Until we realise THIS the budgets of our hopelessly indebted country will continue with the wastage we see – on guns and idling hands at the service of unjust cruelty.

    And thugs will continue to occupy centre-stage.

    Not a bad piece this time by Charles P.

  • 0
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    Great essay Charles Sarvan. Totally agree with you.

  • 0
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    Prof Saravan

    No, There are many Sinhalese people like us who are with the Tamils. We believe it is we Sinhalese who created People like Prabakaran. We are still to learn the lesson, may be in a very hard way. We should apologise to the tamils for what we have done to them and still doing to gain petty political gains
    Thmara

  • 0
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    We all can be friends if we want to. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/unlikely-animal-friendships
    I will blame the Sinhalese politicians for the situation we are in. The worst are in Rajapkse Family.

  • 0
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    I would like to answer your points one by one.Firstly yes Tamils and Sinhalese are from the same stock recent genetic testing and research shows that the sinhalese are very closely related to south indian groups and the physical appearance of most sinhalese proves. secondly it was largely the sinhalese leaders who fell for the british created aryan theories and started calling themselves aryans eventhough the majority of sinhalese are more similar to south indian or australoid.

    As for your point about the Indian tamils again it was the north indian leaders who again fell for the british created aryan theory and tried to potray north indians as aryans in order to make them feel superior. This eventhough the vast majority of North Indians are NOT aryans infact the vast majority of north indians(70%) are more similar to dravidian than aryan. Only the ruling classes amongst the North Indians are aryans or indo european the rest are no different from south indians.

    Finally can you really blame south indians for shunning north indian culture. If you read about india you will find out that the most poorest backwards and illiterate parts of india are in the north of india. So of course given the choice they would rather follow british europeans. Also you have to remember that it was because of the mastery of the english language that tamilnadu and the south of india are ahead of the north of india. Whatever you say about the indian tamils you have to say they got it right in terms of development and education.

    btw i am half sinhalese so you can’t accuse me of anit sinhalese bias

    • 0
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      its not your fault , you are only half sinhalese . if you were a full sinhlese you would have gotten to Z

      • 0
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        Gotha-abhaya,

        Gotha how right you are. Sinhalese coming from the Animal Kingdom if you were a Full Sinhalese you would have got to the Z(OO).
        You are not stupid as I thought you were.

    • 0
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      ABCD,

      What you are talking is “Kilavantai Tahdi”

  • 0
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    Proff,

    You are being too kind to the Sinhalese. The question should have been the following.

    How many Sinhalese are Anti Tamils ?

    The answer is 20 Million without hesitation.

    We are not going to have any Pro Tamil Sinhalese unless we do a Gene Mutation and wait for another Generation to see the results. But why go through all this hassle come March 2014 we will wave Goodbye.

  • 0
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    Native Vedda, the LTTEer masquerading as a Vedda , has spoken!

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