29 October, 2020

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War Victory Celebrations Hinder Rather Than Promote Reconciliation

 By R.M.B Senanayake –

R.M.B. Senanayake

The Government celebrated last week the victory of the Armed Forces over the LTTE with an impressive display of weaponry. If Sri Lanka is one country and the Tamils and Sinhalese are brothers should the victor celebrate the war victory?

The American leaders during the Civil War between the North and the South in 1961-65, did not think so. The American Civil War was to prove one of the most ferocious wars ever fought”. Without geographic objectives, the only target for each side was the enemy’s soldier.  750,000 soldiers died.

General Lee of the Confederate Army surrendered with his Army on April 9, 1865. In an untraditional gesture and as a sign of (Unionist) General Grant’s respect and anticipation of peacefully restoring Confederate states to the Union, General Lee was permitted to keep his sword and his horse, President Lincoln had earlier treated the Confederate states with respect and appealed to them to restore  allegiance to the Union. He was prepared to compromise on all other issues of the South if they agreed to do this one thing. He was shot by, a Southern sympathizer and Andrew Johnson became president. The leniency showed by both Presidents made reconciliation possible.  Confederate nationalism died a natural death and American nationalism triumphed. It was the conciliatory attitude of Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson that led the South to surrender.  Similar attempts were made by Church leaders in the north in the final phase of our civil war but they were branded as LTTE sympathizers by Sinhalese chauvinists.

Should not Sri Lanka follow this noble example of the American Presidents? Should the majority community gloat over the victory? Will that help reconciliation? Will it not strengthen Tamil nationalism instead?

The Sinhalese are currently in a state of relief that the civil war has ended, a point repeatedly emphasized by the government.  On the other hand, there is uncertainty, confusion and anxious expectation among the Tamils as to how their living together with the Sinhalese in the country will go on. One would like to believe the government that the era of reconciliation and a new beginning has started. But events like the celebration of the war victory do not convey such message.   It is not the presence of the Army that is resented but their intrusion into civilian life and the suspicion that they are behind the several attacks on the Tamil press and the Tamil political parties. The military’s  claim to be a national army is somewhat vitiated since it consists almost entirely of Sinhalese. So they  are seen as “foreign” occupiers. The soldiers for their part continue to see the majority of Tamils as disguised terrorists. The restored civil administration is manned mainly by Sinhalese officials who neither speak Tamil nor understand the mentality of the population. It is absolutely necessary to restore civil administration in the North and give the Tamil politicians a voice in the affairs of State at the provincial level. Failure to do so will only revive the demand for Eelam.

The years of civil war have left deep scars. The mistrust between the two ethnic groups of Sinhalese and Tamils is deeply rooted, and many wounds are still open and will remain so for a long time. The Prevention of Terrorist Acts (PTA),  gives the Security authorities special powers that allow them, without a court order, to arrest, interrogate, torture, without fear of having to stand trial, because the law guarantees them immunity.

This state of affairs is first of all not the fault of the government. It was Prabakaran who refused to accept any compromise during the peace talks and insisted on Eelam. The LTTE systematically eliminated Tamil leaders and intellectuals who wanted to compromise. But the Government must still   accept the fact that the Tamil people will vote for their regional parties rather than for the two national parties- the UNP and the SLFP. The Tamil people are unlikely to barter their right to be represented by their leaders merely because of government largesse.  It is therefore unfortunate that the talks between the government and the Tamil National Alliance broke down.

The Church having members of both communities in its ranks welcomes the restoration of a single unified State of Sri Lanka. But this unity must be borne of the freely given consent of the Tamil people and not achieved through any form of coercion. It also does not remove the need for devolution of power. In fact the ethnic issue was resolved in 1987 with the acceptance of the 13th Amendment by both the Sinhalese and Tamil leaders although Prabakaran did not give his free consent but was pressurized to do so. So the 13th Amendment should be the basis for a resolution of the problem and any amendments should be to remove any ambiguities or short comings rather than to do away with the powers already envisaged.

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    and people like u dont help reconciliation of any kind either…

    what about when u try to put fire to the flames..

    jsut go and read a book if watching the war victory gives u pain of mind…
    people who dont like to watch the victory are generally those who supported the enemy – openly and secretly…. their spots are also showing

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    Thanks RMBS. Sri lanka had a history before Prabaharan. We had Prabaharan because of that history. History repeats ….

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      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before Prabakaran’s rebellion 1972, and the new Constitutions of 1972 and 1978.

      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before “Independence” 1948.
      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the English Colonialism 1796.
      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the Dutch Colonialism 1650.
      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the Portuguese Colonialism 1505.
      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the Tamil Colonialism 1000 AD.
      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the Tamil Colonialism 200 BC.
      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the Buddhism Colonialism 250 BC
      ( The Mahanama Myths traces back to this event)

      The history says Veddah Beliefs, Hindu Beliefs and Jain Beliefs

      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the Sinhala Colonialism 500 BC.

      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the Yakkka and Naga Colonialism 1,000 BC to 10,000 BC.

      The Veddahs were three

      Yes, Sri Lanka had a History before the Veddah Colonialism 15,000 BC to 20,000 BC.

      The Animals and birds were there, which the Veddah hunted.

      So Sri Lanka needs a MEMORIAL DAY for all these Natives and Newcomers.

      **************
      Americans Included the Rebel Confederate Soldiers who died as well in their Memorial Day.

      In Sri Lanka, due to the Sinhala Buddhist Racism, they include only or mostly the 25,000 Sti Lankan Soldiers, most of whom were Buddhist, and the non-Buddhist Soldiers are not included or marginalized as usual. Not included are the 100,000 odd civilians who died because of the Sinhala Buddhist Racism, but included are mostly Buddist Sinhala who were killed by the LTTE Terrorists. Not included are the victims of State Terrorism and Sinhala Buddhist Terrorism ignored by the state.

      The LTTE Defeat Day should be called the Memorial Day of Lanka, in memory of all those who died from 18,000 BC, where Separatism, Racism, Religious Intolerance and Violence and Myths were all destroyed despite the external meddling by India and the Christian West.

      Until the Mahanama Myth inspired Sinhala Buddhist Racism is expunged, there will not be peace in the country, and there will always be suspicion.

      The Enlightened Lord Buddha, where are you? The Sinhala Buddhist Racists are dismissing the Venerable Dalai Lama. They are reinventing the new Buddhism, called Mara ism or Maraism.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memorial_Day

      Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday which occurs every year on the final Monday of May.[1] Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.[2] Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service[3]. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
      Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries.

      By the early 20th century, Memorial Day was an occasion for more general expressions of memory, as people visited the graves of their deceased relatives in church cemeteries, whether they had served in the military or not. It also became a long weekend increasingly devoted to shopping, family gatherings, fireworks, trips to the beach, and national media events.

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    The Church having members of both communities in its ranks welcomes the restoration of a single unified State of Sri Lanka. But this unity must be borne of the freely given consent of the Tamil people and not achieved through any form of coercion

    I wish more christians and their leaders more Courage to speak like you.

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      I have observed that almost all the Sinhala people that talk for tamil suffering, or to revenge from Rajapakses, reconciliation, tamil homeland are christians.

      LTTE also used the Church to store weapons and as gathering places and never attacked any church.

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        well that would be expected, since your precious leaders have painted this entire ethnic issue as a “Sinhala Buddhist vs. Everyone else” picture.

        As for Buddhists who speak against the regime… Well you wouldn’t know any better, since most of the forums online dealing with such matters are blocked within Sri Lanka. Simply because one does not see something does not mean it doesnt exist.

        “and never attacked any church” Yes, Madhu church (among many other lesser-known ones) must have been attacked by the priests there themselves. Much like one Mervin Silva never tied a man to a tree- the man tied himself. Prabhakaran considered Tamil Christians as low-caste converts much like the Sinhalese do to their Sinhalese counterparts. Sleep in peace that you nationalists of both sides had at least that in common.

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    True. But whoever speaks logically and methodically will be termed a terrorist; that makes us see a bleak future for our country.

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    See… the connection between RMB and Father E… i knew there was a catch…

    people dont say or act without support

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    “The Church having members of both communities in its ranks welcomes the restoration of a single unified State of Sri Lanka. But this unity must be borne of the freely given consent of the Tamil people and not achieved through any form of coercion. It also does not remove the need for devolution of power. In fact the ethnic issue was resolved in 1987 with the acceptance of the 13th Amendment by both the Sinhalese and Tamil leaders although Prabakaran did not give his free consent but was pressurized to do so. So the 13th Amendment should be the basis for a resolution of the problem and any amendments should be to remove any ambiguities or short comings rather than to do away with the powers already envisaged.” (RMBS)

    The name RMB Senanayake sounds Sinhala but the reasoning between the lines sounds neither nationalist nor racist but allegiance to church. That is perfectly alright but he appears to have missed the point that the 13th Amendment to the constitution was forced on us by India thinking that the issue in question as a political problem.

    After 65-years from the British leaving the responsibility of governing the country in the hands of Sri Lankans, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim Communities are yet to understand each other without suspicion. What is this suspicion? Who suspects whom?

    Farmers, Fishers, Potters, Tappers, Weavers, Cobblers, Masons, Carpenters, Plumbers, Electricians, Painters, Tailors, Teachers and Traders and professionals etc. etc., went on and still go on producing goods and providing services to everybody regardless of ethnicity. Of course there was and still there is competition but business is conducted on TRUST. If the average persons in all communities went on and still goes on producing goods and providing services regardless of ethnicity and business among traders of all communities were and are conducted on trust, then who is responsible for sewing seeds of mistrust or distrust?

    All of us have failed to identify the real problems affecting the common man and their cause or causes. A Parliament Select Committee will never identify the real problems and therefore will never be able to resolve real issues. Under these circumstances no effective solution could be found by focusing only on devolution of power and the 13th Amendment. The better option is working towards understanding each other without the 13th Amendment.

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      The Professional

      “The better option is working towards understanding each other without the 13th Amendment.”

      I hate to agree with you.

      If you agree that this is all about concentrated power in the hands of a few then lets abolish the power structure and start from scratch.

      Let us first expunge the state, its bureaucracy, armed forces, police force, legal establishment, ……………..constitution …and start working towards understanding each other then as you say would be the better option.

      Once understanding is reached then we may be able construct the state. It may take few years, decades, centuries,…..but still worth it. In the interim people will get used to the idea of non state inference.

      Then there will be no need for a state and its constraining and corrupt institutions. In fact the institutions have been a huge drag on the people and their freedom and their potential.

      So shall we start abolishing the state?

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    Victory celebrations are not about the one ethnicity defeating another as the writer so naively thinks. It’s about Sri Lanka defeating terrorism. It has nothing to do with Sinhala or Tamil although people were divided along ethnic lines because of terrorism. The Sri Lanka Armed Forces defeated Prabakaran and the LTTE. That’s what’s celebrated – a victory over terrorism.

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      One straight question! Will those who critical of the author accept the fact that VP and his followers were the sovereign citizens of Sri Lanka or not? If they were not citizens, celebrate!!! otherwise no democratic country in the world should celebrate the victory over its own people. What MR can do? When some religious elements have been forcing him to do so.

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      How come we don’t celebrate the victory over JVP terrorism? Would you support a victory day to be assigned for celebrating the defeat of JVP?

      In fact David Blacker makes a fine argument that the victory over JVP was in fact a much superior victory.

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    How sad that people who speak the truth are called traitors.
    How can people forget the past and move forward into reconciliation and unity, when ‘Arme(y)geddon’ is celebrated each year with such boastful vanity,rubbing salt in old wounds?

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    Chaaya – Well said. This person Senanayaka must either be re-born or passing through his second child hood. Where were you for the last three decades (30 years. I converted this into numbers in case you are unable to do it in your childhood)? All Governments of Sri Lanka together with the Internaional partners tried in various ways to free the country and the nation from this “terrorist outfit” and failed. In that process,of course we knew, how some or majority of the stake holders made it a lucrative business venture and made millions if not billions of money behind the scene. So at last, at least we had the courage and conviction of one government to face the “force” head on with the valiant men and women of the Armed Forces and say enough is enough.

    In that process of regaining our freedom and right to live in peace without fear, the sacrifices made were many and everlasting. So tell me is it “WRONG” to say a “BIG THANK YOU” for those who fought for us who are amoung the living and for those vailant men and women who paid the supreme price of losing the lives?

    Also le me remind you that, it is not “War Victory Celeberations That Hinder Reconciliation”; but the “DISGRUNTLED” “LOST HOPES” “BUSINESS VULTURES” types are the people who HINDER AND PREVENT any sort reconciliation. If the cap fits you, I have no objection you putting it on.

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    every minute we must thank our War Heroes…

    It is bcos of them we can step out of the house without bombs..

    otherwise we would have to be with the LTTE for safety – so those speaking against the war heroes are obviously under cover of LTTE influence then and possibly now too… RMB u better write on something else because u r just losing credibility galore….

    no one is going to buy this stupid reconciliation mumbo jumbo anymore…

    victory was over terrorism – if tamils feel it is against them it is their problem bcos some are guilty of aligning with ltte or making use of them..

    obviuosly u fall into this category too…

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      “every minute we must thank our War Heroes”. How exactly does a massive military parade backed up with political rhetoric “thank” the men who gave their lives and limbs to get rid of the LTTE? Isnt that money better spent on taking care of war-affected families and building a few more homes and medical facilities for, say, the disabled soldiers?

      “no one is going to buy this stupid reconciliation mumbo jumbo anymore”. So you’re for a country where there is no reconciliation between the two largest ethnic groups, where there will always be suspicion and anger (much as you, our bipolar disorder-affected Leela/Lester/Sumane, and our thrill-seeking JimS), with risk of more conflict and bloodshed? What exactly did those men die for like animals in the warzones if all we do with the peace they won is to simply ignore the problems and set the stage for yet more hate?

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    [[ Should not Sri Lanka follow this noble example of the American Presidents? ]]

    MR. RMB SENANAYAKE:

    Western Countries cdlebrate the SECOND WORLD WAR VICTORY by remembering those who lost lives.

    but, they don’t remember the GERMAN SOLDIERS WHO LOST THEIR LIVES.

    What do you say about that ?

    JAPANESE SHINTO RELIGION Is all about remembering japanese soldiers and celebrating the war advances.

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      JimSofty

      “What do you say about that ?”

      I say the war victims should be remembered. Their relatives and friends should be allowed to grieve their loss. It is the humane thing to do. Oh well who cares about humanity in this island?

      In your case you go around in circles to deny basic decency.

      If necessary state should be forced by the people.

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    It shows that we are a very primitive race to celebrate a WAR. True LTTE was a force against country and a real enemy who managed to garner lot

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    There was no civil war in SL. It was only military action against a bunch of terrorists who claimed a part of the country.
    A victory parade is primarily to bolster the morale of the military. It is essential as long as there is a threat to national security.

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    “In fact the ethnic issue was resolved in 1987 with the acceptance of the 13th Amendment by both the Sinhalese and Tamil leaders”
    This is a distortion of history. TNA rejected it. Only the UNP was forced to accept it under duress from India. It is reported that JR threatened to dissolve the Parliament if it was not passed.

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    So let me see if i get this correctly…. According to the author celebrating the victory against the LTTE is not good for reconciliation between the Sinhalese and the Tamils.. by this claim he is suggesting that all Tamils are LTTE…. The Govt of Sri Lanka is celebrating the victory over the terrorist outfit LTTE not a victory over Tamils. There is a difference… The Americans are fighting a war against Al Qaeda the terrorist organization. They are not fighting a war against Muslims though some may try to portray it as such. Same thing here!!!

    As for the authors comments on the American Civil War…. he should go and learn American history properly, not depend and quote from the sanitized propaganda versions… Let me just mention a few off the unsanitized version….
    1.Gen. Sherman on his march from Atlanta to the sea practiced a policy of scorched earth destroying everything in its wake 60 miles wide and 300 miles long to ensure the Southern population starved.
    2.The Northern armies including Black regiments (who were anathema to the southerners) occupied the South for over 10 years years and all administration came under them…
    3.The Northerners (Carpetbaggers) went in droves and with the help of the occupying forces controlled the economy and the politics for decades
    4. A loyalty oath was demanded by the Union forces of all southerners. 5.The African American though freed through the Emancipation Proclamation were never given political/civil rights equal to the whites, segregated and discriminated and this continued until around 1965 100 years later when they won their civil rights to a certain degree.
    6.The mistrust between Northerners and Southerners, took many decades to dissipate and the mistrust between Blacks and Whites took a century to dissipate if one argues it ever did.

    There are many more such I can list … Therefore, I think this is hardly the model we in Sri Lanka should follow for reconciliation. :)

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