19 May, 2021

Blog

Whence Sri Lankan Tamils And Whither Sri Lankan Tamils

By C.V. Wigneswaran –

Justice C.V.Wigneswaran

Ajnaana Timiraamdhasya Gnaanaanjana Shalaakayaa
Chakshuru Miilitam Yena Tasmai Shrii Gurave Namah

Honourable Chairman, Distinguished Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Honourable Parliamentarians, my dear Brothers and Sisters!

Recently, I was called upon on different occasions to address different groups of the legal fraternity. The present period, as you know, is the most perilous in the history of our justice system, and to date the crisis remains unresolved. The future of an independent judicial system seems bleak, and despite the immense courage shown by some of its members, the community seems to feel despondent and desolate.

Delivering an Oration on the topic of “Whither Sri Lankan Tamils?” today, I address a community that is in an exponentially worse situation. The precarious position in which the Tamil speaking community is placed today is highlighted by the aftermath of my recent speeches.

Whilst many had sent me messages of congratulations on the occasion of one of my speeches, a State sponsored Newspaper thought it fit to print the most unprofessional epithets. Worse still, the newspaper had no compunction in casting Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayake and the speaker today as essentially LTTE proxies. A tenuous link was drawn to cast a discourse on judicial independence as an “Eelam Project” thus seeking to demonise the entire discourse. If the legal community cannot escape being cast as LTTE proxies for pointing out severe shortcomings in the working of the judicial system, what hope does the Tamil community have? Is it possible for Tamils to discuss frankly the problems faced by them without being labeled as LTTE?

The habit of this type of labeling reminds me of a passage in Animal Farm. Even though Snowball had been driven out of the farm, his spectre was raised whenever convenient. As Orwell narrates

He stole the corn, he upset the milk-pails, he broke the eggs, he trampled the seedbeds, he gnawed the bark off the fruit trees. Whenever anything went wrong it became usual to attribute it to Snowball. If a window was broken or a drain was blocked up, someone was certain to say that Snowball had come in the night and done it, and when the key of the store-shed was lost, the whole farm was convinced that Snowball had thrown it down the well. Curiously enough, they went on believing this even after the mislaid key was found under a sack of meal. The cows declared unanimously that Snowball crept into their stalls and milked them in their sleep. The rats, which had been troublesome that winter, were also said to be in league with Snowball.

This is typical in any sort of fascist society. The tactic is simple – you identify a vilified group and attribute all ills to it. As the regime is against that group, any voice of dissent must be in league with that vilified group – or so the logic runs.

Therefore let me start this lecture by stating initially that Tamils were discriminated and victimised almost from the beginning of the last century, long before the phrase Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was ever coined and long before its leader saw the light of day. Those belonging to the majority community of this Country must not fall for this diabolical habit of referring to all who profess minority rights as LTTEers or LTTE sympathizers.

Bandaranaike and Chelvanayagam

The term LTTE has become the bogey man behind whom many cover up their naked aggression and dictatorial demeanour. I do understand it as a ploy adopted to silence minorities from articulating their miseries and misgivings. But the pernicious tendency must be done away with.

It must be remembered that none of us have condoned violence of any sort whether it be by the State sponsored hoodlums, the Military forces or by youngsters of whichever community. At most we have stated that the violence of the youth among the minorities as well as the down trodden among the Sinhalese, have been direct results of the violence of the State and its handmaids, its discriminations and diabolical deportment. Identifying the cause of a reaction is not the same as espousing such reactionary behaviour.

It is useful to bear in mind the causes for our recent unfortunate history. The members of the majority community must not forget the pogroms and riots of the past against the minorities directly referable to State sponsorship. They should not forget the loss of nearly a lakh of books, including rare manuscripts that were offered as oblations to the Fire God in one night, with a senior Cabinet Minister staying a stone’s throw away from the Jaffna Library, at that time said to be the best Library in the Eastern Hemisphere. Let them not forget or ignore the hardships Muslims are today put into, thanks to the lethargy and indifference of the Police Force and powers that be who could have prevented such hardships if they so desired.

Before dealing with “Whither Sri Lankan Tamils” let me start with “Whence Sri Lankan Tamils”.

We Sri Lankan Tamils, it must be noted, were never a minority. We were made a minority. It is not essential to go into the question of whether Tamils were here a thousand years ago, two thousand years ago or were the original inhabitants. The recent revisionist historians should note that, as recently as ninety years ago, the then Sinhalese leaders Sir James Peiris and E.J.Samarawickreme having promised Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam, that they would support the demand for a Tamil Seat for the City of Colombo, repudiated their pledge after winning the election.

They directed the Sinhalese Electorates created under the 1921 Constitution, drafted almost entirely by Sir P. Arunachalam, to nominate only Sinhalese candidates for election. The ground on which they objected to the provision of any safeguards for the Tamils, was that (I quote)

“the Tamils like the Sinhalese and unlike any other people of the Island were in themselves a majority community and as such had no reason to be classed with the minorities nor to stand in need of any safeguards”.

 This gives credence to the fact that

“the Sri Lankan Tamils far from being a minority have from remote ages been and continued to be a full blooded majority in their ancient homelands where their own kings and potentates had held unquestioned sway”.

Mr.M.Vythilingam, former Principal of Hindu College, Chavakachcheri states in his Book entitled “The Life of Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan” at page 534 of Volume II published in 1977 as follows –

“ It was when the evil genius of a foreign conqueror subdued the whole Island with its separate and sovereign people , pulled down age-old national frontiers and for no other reason than his own ‘supervisory convenience’ made the Island a single political and administrative unit, that the Tamils became a minority in the conglomerate mass of the Island’s population”.

The Tamils of the North under the leadership of Hon’Sabapathy were reluctant to accept Territorial representation under the British, preferring the Community based representation, for fear that in a unified Ceylon due to the excess of Sinhalese held Territories, the latter would outnumber others and Laws detrimental to the minorities would be passed. It was Sir P.Arunachalam who spoke to Hon’ Sabapathy and convinced him that Territorial Representation would not be detrimental to the Tamils since the Sinhalese leaders had solemnly promised him a Seat for the Tamils in Colombo to prove their goodwill and genuineness towards the creation of a truly National State of Ceylon. But once the Sinhalese leaders got the consent of the Tamil leaders for the passing of Territorial Representation vis-à-vis the 1921 Constitution, they went back on their words.

This trait of the Political Leaders has been visible right throughout the last ninety years. The non-implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, whether beneficial or not as far as the Tamils are concerned, is hardly surprising when it is viewed in the context of the abrogation of the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact and the abrogation of the Dudley Senanayake- Chelvanayagam Pact. Unfortunately the political leaders of the majority community have declined to forego the advantage they obtained by the passing of the 1921 Constitution which gave them the whip hand against the minorities. In recent times having got the help of various countries, mainly India, to overcome the insurgency of the Tamil Youth, promising to solve minority problems in return, the slogan is that minorities must not ask for too much! The Muslims are the latest group of minorities taught that lesson.

So from our recent past history we perceive an important issue. The Sinhalese political leaders, having admitted the individuality of the Tamil speaking areas with their distinct culture, language, religions and defined areas of habitation, are now refuting all that since it had been possible for them to use their majority in Parliament to intrude into such areas, colonise them and in recent times to dominate all aspects of civil life of the local inhabitants through their armed battalions. This trait has been prevalent in the majority community political leaders from whichever party they come from. It is a trait in their leadership to speak with forked tongues. I am puzzled by this fact, given that the Sinhalese with whom I have lived all my life, having been born, bred and educated in Colombo, are not given to this kind of duplicity.

But the reality of the situation today when we are examining the question “Whither Sri Lankan Tamils” is that lands traditionally owned or occupied by Tamil speaking people are being forcibly inhabited by outsiders. Many temples, churches and mosques at which local inhabitants worshipped for long periods of time have been destroyed or are in danger of being destroyed and new places of worship whose votaries are not locals but armed military men and their cohorts have been established with the might of the State.

Cultural degradation and social degeneration are being surreptitiously engineered. History is being distorted to find the necessary excuses to embark upon such pre-planned adventures. New antique nomenclatures have been found for recent constructions in the North and East. Demography is consciously and continually being intermeddled with. The fundamental differences that existed between two Nations for centuries, which were appreciated and adjusted upon by and among such National Groups until recent times, are now being consciously erased and effaced to make way for a single Nation in the image of the Sinhala majority.

In a Memorandum Mr.S.J.V.Chelvanayagam submitted on behalf of the Tamils to all the Delegates attending the 20th Commonwealth Conference in Sri Lanka in 1974, he referred to this tendency in the following words which appear very relevant and topical in relation to the circumstances today too, when we are again going to host another Commonwealth Conference soon in our Country nearly forty years later. He said-

“The Sinhalese leaders have one objective of converting the bi-national, bi- lingual, multi religious state of Ceylon into a uni-national state with one Nation –the Sinhalese, a uni-lingual state with Sinhala only and with one religion Buddhism – involving genocide against the Tamils. This is substantiated by the following statement to the Press by a Cabinet Minister of the present Government and reported in the Ceylon Daily News of 27th August 1974- “In fact one of the things happening now is that many Indian Tamils who were earlier isolated are now learning Sinhala and even adopting our names and religion. This is part of the social assimilation”.

May be nowadays Ministers are more discreet and do not openly say so. But the pernicious attempts are continuing.

The information gleaned from several reputed news sources is that 16 out of 19 Divisions of the Sri Lankan Army are stationed at present in the Northern Province. The ratio of soldiers to civilians in Vavunia is said to be 1 is to 3.Further, I am informed that Sri Lankan Military owns a Ferry Service, a 180 acre Farm, owns several Hotels and Resorts and also innumerable Restaurants and Cafes. They are in charge of Whale Watching Trips undertaken by Tourists, they run two Airlines, they manage three Cricket Stadiums, one Golf Course among many other undertakings, which local Civilians should be involved in.

It is possible that the powers that be could deny all this as they have been denying every crime committed by their armed forces or for that matter even a single civilian casualty in International Fora. Recently a Member of Parliament from the North was taken to the Fourth Floor to question him as to how he got similar such information. What cannot be denied are that a Military Man, who is not from the North, is the Governor of the Northern Province, that there is Military presence everywhere in the Northern Province even after four years almost have passed since the end of the War, and that there has been no election to the Northern Provincial Council even though promises were made that it would be held.

It appears that the powers that be are reluctant to allow a democratically elected local administration to function lest the tremendous powers wielded by the Central Government presently, might get affected. It is possible that a democratically elected Provincial Council might want the recall of the Military Man from the Office of Governor and the immediate garrisoning of Troops who are interfering with the day to day life of the people of the Northern Province. Whatever the powers available to the Provincial Council under the Thirteenth Amendment might be, such a situation will not be conducive towards the Centre’s Subjugation Project.

What prevents the powers that be from granting the legitimate political and civil rights of the traditional inhabitants of the Northern Province? I have spoken to well meaning Sinhalese to find out their point of view. They say a Sinhala majority Government fears that if you grant the Tamils their legitimate rights they would make that as a springboard for separation. The idea is to keep the Tamils well under control, commit even crimes against humanity, but nip any attempt to organise themselves into a political force.

The idea is to assimilate them with the Sinhalese by colonising their areas with Sinhalese whether Civilian or Military, convert them to Buddhism by constructing Buddhist places of worship with the help of the armed might of the Military, make them learn Sinhalese and Buddhism, lure them and condition them to look upon the Sinhalese as their saviours, employ outsiders in any economic undertakings in the North and East, create dissensions among their political leaders and by many other means. The construction of carpeted roads to the North and East is said to be an auxiliary measure undertaken to help achieve such diabolical results.

In other words the very modus operandi adopted is what the International Covenants say should not be undertaken by States. If undertaken such activities would give the affected community the moral right to secede.

Allen Buchanan in his book “Secession –The Morality of Political Divorce” (1991) at page 154 states thus-

“ Thus to say that under certain conditions a Group’s need to protect itself from unjust threats to the existence of its members or to escape the continued perpetration of injustices against it by the State can generate a valid claim or right to territory on the part of the Group, is simply to say that circumstances have come into existence which supply adequate moral grounds for according the Group this protected freedom to control the territory. In other words, even if it were the case until now that the Group did not have a right to the territory, a sound moral case can now be made for concluding that it is permissible for the Group to exercise control over the territory and that others have a very weighty obligation to respect its efforts to do so.”

Thus the type of activity which the State is embarking upon seems to be the very basis for a Group of people to clamour for secession and an antithesis to reconciliation and peace. This is a vicious circle, which the State does not seem to be taking into consideration, may be due to the political ambitions of individual politicians. It is therefore in the best interests of the State to grant civil and political rights in conformity with domestic and International Law relating to every Group of persons living in this Island.

The very repression adopted to prevent a clamour for separation, might give rise to the International Community becoming convinced that separation is the only solution to the Group affected. The ground situation could convince them that external self determination is to be preferred to internal self determination in the light of what they observe.

While educating the powers that be of the dangers that lie on the path they are treading it is our duty to re-examine the manner in which we should deal with the situation that has arisen.

There are those of us who believe that if you gain the confidence of the Sinhalese leaders, if you could convince them that the Tamils would not want to separate, then they would grant their legitimate rights. Is that correct? There was a time when many of the Muslim leaders from the East, including my friends M.H.M.Ashraf and Mashoor Mowlana, cut their teeth on the Federal Party platforms under the tutelage of Thanthai Chelva.

But when they found that the Bandaranaike – Chelvanayagam Pact was abrogated and even the Dudley Senanayake –Chelvanayagam Pact was thrown to the winds they became convinced that discretion was the better part of valour. They did everything to please the Sinhalese leaders. They more or less distanced themselves from the Tamils. There was considerable annoyance consequently among the Tamil youngsters due to this. But did such activities help our Muslim brethren in the long run? What they are undergoing today is only too well known. The wrath of rogue elements among the Buddhist Clergy which forced the abrogation of the Bandaranaike -Chelvanayagam Pact has now turned on the Muslims.

Thus it would be seen that ultimately it depends on how the members of the majority community view each community in relation to their day to day activities. Soon after Independence they felt the Tamils had more than their share of Government Jobs, were filling the higher educational institutions and that they were buying up lands in the South and prospering at their expense.

So the first step taken mainly against the Sri Lankan Tamils was to introduce the Sinhala Only Act. The introduction of Sinhala as sole State language had its adverse effect on the continuance of Tamils in Public Service. There was exodus of those in service and intake of Tamils into Public Service became lesser and lesser not to mention the initially direct and subsequently disguised restrictions on Tamils entering Univeristy.

Then as follow- through there were pogroms and riots starting from 1958 and culminating in the 1983 riots. The result was that the houses and lands of Tamils in the South were either destroyed or taken over by force by locals or abandoned or sold off for a pittance by the Tamils. There was a time when around half the paddy lands in Tissamaharama in the South were owned by Tamils. My father at that time was a Government Public Officer working in Tangalle.

After the riots and pogroms the Tamils left those areas in large numbers. Kathirgamam was a place of Hindu worship when I was a young boy where persons of other religions too came. Now most Hindus are occasional visitors to Katharagama.

Now the feeling of the members of the more vocal sections of the majority community is that the Muslims are flourishing. Hence the attack on the Muslim community. Successive Sinhalese political leaders have conveniently turned the frustrations of the Sinhala people towards successful communities, in order to deflect those frustrations targeting their mismanagement and corruption.

So you will see that the tactic of gaining the confidence of the majority community has not worked. Ultimately it is the viewpoint of the majority community at a given period of time which would prevail. When that happens there is nothing in Law to protect us. Even the Judiciary consisting of members of the majority community in large numbers sometimes allows extraneous considerations to colour its judgments.

Then there are Tamils who ask the question why not we consent to attend the Parliamentary Select Committee. I am not a member nor spokesman for the TNA in Parliament. But I fully endorse their view and share their apprehension to joining the bandwagon in a Parliamentary Select Committee. So many Committees of assorted names have burned the midnight oil to bring forth many useful suggestions to solve the Tamil Problem. None of them have been accepted nor acted upon.

All that the TNA asks if I understood them correct, is that there must be working documents to start with which take into account what had been discussed hitherto. Any discussion must proceed from the point of progress already reached. I believe the Government is reluctant to fix on any working documents in order to deliberately deny the progress already made and to start everything right from the beginning. For example after driving away the locals from certain areas in the North and East and bringing in outsiders and planting them there, the Government in a fresh round of deliberations could formulate new statistics and put forward new proposals erasing off boundaries earlier reached.

It would also give the more articulate minority Sinhala parties who are dear to the current leadership an opportunity to torpedo the talks and tarry progress. But let me state this. With its two third majority in Parliament the present Government is in a powerful position to solve the problems of the Tamils legally and legitimately if only it has the will and willingness to do so. Mr.J.R.Jayewardene had that opportunity. But he preferred to aid and abet the 1983 Riots and extend the life of Parliament.

This Government preferred to abolish term limits on the Presidency and do away with independent public institutions. If only half the propaganda that is expended in sustaining a Dynastic Project is expended on educating the Sinhalese, popular support for devolution would be easily forthcoming.

There are also those among Sri Lankan Tamils who advocate the close liaison with the Diaspora Tamils to embarrass the Sinhala majority Governments in Sri Lanka. They feel they must prepare for another war. If King Walagambahu could have fought eight times to get back his kingdom they feel why not again. It was India which stood in the way of the Tamil Youth making any progress in the war and therefore if the widow of Rajiv Gandhi leaves politics or forced to leave politics, India would not be so virulent they feel. They are emboldened by the feelings presently prevailing in Tamil Nadu in South India. They hope and pray that the next Government in India would not be Congress led.

It must be understood by these people that embarrassing the Government of a Country and taking up arms against it only aggravate feelings. The death, damage and destruction caused by feelings of animosity in the recent past have been colossal. If we understand the fear, distrust and consequent hatred, feelings of insecurity and complex feelings of inferiority complex and motives of selfishness and self aggrandizement that drive the leaderships among States to act in the most brutal manner towards their brethren in the same Country, we would pity them rather than hate them.

Mahatma Gandhi and Thanthai Chelva in their days had understood this background. Hence they have in effect said –

Do not hate the enemy. But do not cow down to the wrongs perpetrated by them. Even at the expense of your pain and predicament try to educate the wrongdoers of the right course of action so that they will change their views.

It must be remembered that violence gives opportunity to the State to destroy the lives and properties of those seeking justice. They are able to justify their actions by referring to such violence on the part of those clamouring for justice. Therefore a path of Ahimsa and Satyagraha was recommended by them.

Hence it appears the Sri Lankan Tamils have reached a critical stage in their life where they need to assess the present situation properly. The plus point we have is the fact that International Community appears to have realised what had been taking place and more particularly what is taking place in Sri Lanka.

They have realized the diabolical double-tongued display of those who are at the helm of affairs in this Country. But merely by Internationalising our predicament we could not possibly bring favourable results. Our agitations for internal self determination must proceed simultaneously.

But for that, our minus point is that the Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka are disunited. We still continue to think selfishly and are bent on continuing to tread the beaten path. The path of parochialism; the path of exclusivism; the path of separatism; the path of chauvinism; has been our way.

It is time to remember that our spirit of exclusivism which relegated an inferior and insulting position to a section of our people, in its Karmic boomerang gave power and weight to individuals hailing from various stratas of our society to whip us with, in recent times. What has taken place has forced more and more of our people to leave our shores and seek solace elsewhere. The schism created in our society and its adverse effects on account of two charismatic political leaders of the past G.G. and Thanthai Chelva, even several years after their demise,had been humourous if not disgraceful.

We Tamils must realize that sooner we achieve a reconciliation of our diverse views the better it is for us. Let us disagree by all means but let us not allow those disagreements to spoil our unity. This applies to the unity we maintained with the Muslims during Thanthai Chelva’s time which needs to be renewed. We need them and they need us.

We must accept the fact that injustice was caused to the Muslims when they were forcibly sent out of their places of residence in the North. We need to stand with the Muslims now when they are being shabbily treated by the powers that be. I am glad the leader of the TNA spoke up for the suffering Muslims recently.

What prevents unity is self oriented thinking, and the machinations of the scheming. Our people must stand firm against not only their personal biases but also the inevitable and insidious means by which divisions would be brought upon them – they will appeal to your religion, region, caste and tempt you with bribes. But we should stand firm.

Can anyone deny the fact that it is the desire to retain their individual importance as a Party and thereby themselves that has presently given rise to differences of opinion among the constituent Parties of the TNA?

While talking of Tamil rights and Tamil aspirations, retaining personal or Party benefits is what drives us. But we could learn from our past. Did the Militants who had carefully built and nurtured monuments for their dead brethren only a few years ago ever dream what might happen to them and to the monuments in a few years’ time?

We must realise we reap what we sow. And this is a universal principle articulated in the Holy Bible. Therefore it is my view that we must purify our means and have pure thoughts about our ends too. Tainted means would usher in tainted ends. Though the youngsters tried violence as a means for their ends it was put down by violence – may be greater violence!

Our future lies in the salvaging of what is left after the massive destruction that overtook us, and protecting them for the future. What has gone is gone. But we have got to face up to the marginalisation that is rapidly taking place -the hurried social assimilation that is being foisted on us. We have to look at the situation in all its dimensions and perspectives and ask ourselves the question what should be our individual and collective contribution thereto.

All of us, individuals or Political Parties, have a part to play. We have got to formulate a collective approach. We have to think pragmatically and strategically as to the multi dimensional approach needed. We should focus on the most vulnerable among us – those who have no homes, those who have no access to their properties and those without livelihoods.

Legal challenges, despite the slim chance of success in the current environment, to illegal State ventures should be mounted. It is vital that the education of the Tamil children shackled by the so-called standardisation and brutalised by the war, are restored to its former glory. Justice for those who lost all during the war and accountability for those who caused it must be pursued.

As it is clear that the State will not do anything to curb the repression and violence unleashed on all those who show dissent, these issues must be Internationalised. We should endeavour to get members of our Diaspora to contribute to the development, ensuring of course that their respective governments guarantee their security when they visit here.

The revisionist history project must be countered –to do this archaeological finds must be preserved, newer methods such as DNA evidence used, careful record of current modifications maintained and formal Research Centres established. It is imperative that we engage with the Sinhalese people and educate them about our shared history and make them aware of the injustices meted out to the Tamils.

May be the publishing of English and Sinhala language daily Newspapers in the North might be an option to be pursued. But our manner of approach must be with love and understanding. We need not tread the path of combative hostility. We should make them realise that we love the red fertile sands of the North as much as they love the verdant green of the West, that we love the white sands of the East as much as they love the golden sands of the South and that the Tamil Speaking people of this country are co-owners of this land, not tenants.

Even in an atmosphere of hopelessness what could give us courage is that we are to rearrange and reassert our means in a non violent manner. We shall hold no enmity towards those who are attempting to destroy an ancient civilization and its universally acclaimed Classical Language, due to their ignorance and inability to understand life and its ways. Let us follow a path of non-violence, but firmly convinced that our struggle for emancipation is a just cause.

We owe it to the millions of our forefathers who lived in the Northern and Eastern provinces for centuries with their own culture, religions and language, indeed even before the Sinhala language saw the light of day in the sixth century after Christ, that we continue their way of life devoid of the negative effects that have been introduced among us in recent times but taking confidence in the credo set forth in the Purananooru, a product of the Sangam Literature period, two thousand years ago –Yaathum Oore;Yaawarum kelir;Theethum nandrum pirarthara Vaara- which meant All villages are ours; All of humanity our brethren; What happens to us is the consequence of our own actions!

Thank You.

C.V. Wigneswaran

*S.J.V.Chelvanayagam memorial lecture delivered on April 26, 2013 at New Kathiresan Hall, Colombo 4 to mark the 36th death anniversary of S.J.V.Chelvanayagam, Q.C

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    First class speech by By Justice C.V. Wigneswaran. Conflict begins when rights of each other are violated, The root cause that created the tigers are once again on the prowl to create another set of animals to ruin life and property. Will History does repeat itself?

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    Beautiful….Well Said Sir,it is heartening to note we have still such high calibre personalities left in Sri Lanka

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    I have a question for Justice Wigneswaran.He writes,and I qoute:
    “There was a time when around half the paddy lands in Tissamaharama in the South were owned by Tamils. My father at that time was a Government Public Officer working in Tangalle”

    Is this true? Were they Jaffna Tamils or Batticaloa Tamils or Hill country Tamils?What is the evidence for this?.

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      This is not a straight answer to your question. But should help in
      some way.

      “According to Hugh Neville the oli of the Southern Province seen in the villages of Bope, Tiranagama, Madawatte and Bandattara are descendants of the Tamils of south India. They function as astrologers and ritual priests, conducting exorcism – tovil, bali and gara yakka (Matara suniam).”

      “Nallathanni in Tamil is, ‘good (fresh) water.’ A village on the road to Adam’s Peak is called ‘Nalla thanni.’ This is evidence that the earliest pilgrims to Adam’s Peak were Tamil-speaking Hindus. At Devol Devale, Seenigama, among other rituals devotees also walk on embers or red-hot cinders. The Buddha denounced selfimmolation. This is evidence that the present Buddhists inherited these practices from their Hindu ancestors who embraced Buddhim in 246 B.C”
      srilankaguardian.org/2013/01/origin-of-sinhala-language-and-sinhalese.html

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      karl singham

      Kallthoni Tamils were everywhere.

      Please refer to
      Ancient Sri Lanka and Tamil Nadu: Maritime Trade
      by Osmund Bopearachchi
      South Indian Horizons, Felicitation Volume for Francois Gros

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    A speech like no other to make the citizens feel proud. Should be the undisputed choice for the office of Chief Minister.

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    Brilliant! Brilliant! Well said Sir!

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    AS LONG AS WE HAVE MEN OF THIS CALIBRE,WE STILL HAVE HOPE

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    A supremely splendid choice for CM/NP if TNA were to offer this to him and he agrees. Despite the expected violence from the expected quarters and the proxies, the Tamil Nation will surely vote for him overwhelmingly.

    As to the speech – a characteristically brilliant one; well-researched, excellent prose containing data and nuances hitherto unknown.

    Senguttuvan

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      He is a man of no non sense. With all respect to him he should consider if he is been asked to run for the chief minister for NP. Then again he will only agree as he has mentioned there should be unity among the people who nominate him. Tamils immensely needs his service.

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    Justice Vigneswaran has painted a clear picture of the predicament of the country in general and the tamils in particular and laid out some solutions to remedy it. As usual an excellent and informative speech. Without a doubt the best candidate to be the Chief Minister of the North.

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    Former Justice has pointed out the importance of unity among the people to win the democracy for their well being and save the country from the corrupt and good for nothing politicians.

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    Excellent.!

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    A correct reading of the strategy of the regime. Tamils must unite with one voice and reject the govt policy of divide and rule. We now see the spectacle of the govt using ex LTTE cadres held under duress to prop up its image in the North. Indicates the desperation of the regime. The UN and CGN are now closely monitoring the actions taken by the regime to fullfill the promises made. So we can expect some movement on the ground.

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    The poignant difference of a cultured educated speaking, compared to the verbose Synthetic mediocrity Sinhala type found a plenty in the system today who believe they are the erudite.

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    Excellent Sir.

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    THANK YOU SIR, FOR YOUR INCISIVE SPEECH, OF PAST,PRESENT AND A FUTURE
    DEMOCRATICALLY RULED SRI LANKA, IF THE POWERS THAT BE, ARE COGNITIVE ENOUGH TO A NATION,STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE AND CO-EXIST.

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    Hope so called sinhala progrssive people like Ben hurly wurly accept him. Sorry to say who ever settle by raja pakse in north east must leave including sinhala brutal forces, choice is yours..dont ignore me…hope you all get the message…

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    There is a lot more unity here than in Prof. Hoole’s rant. He quotes the Bible, refers to the need to stand by the Muslims in our hour of need and is unafraid to invoke his own religion. This embodies the Sri Lankan spirit.

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    Leadership of a people is not judged by a few speeches. There are young men who have identified with our people and were prepared to take the risks. We need to work with them .The Tamil people are wise enough to make their own judgments. I hope they are not straddled by stage-managed leaders. . A Supreme Court judge can never make a good politician. They have a cultivated job hazard. They believe in their own opinion and may turn out to be dictators of the caliber of Nero the disastrous emperor of Rome.

    Dr. N. Satchi UK

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      Your comment is your right of opinion but,look at those who bought misery and continue to create human instilled calamities in the country,what leadership qualities do they have except destruction of the civil socieyt,we still have a ray of hope with such quality personalities such as justice Wigneswaran….People of his calibre should become the Prime minister…It is high time that communal forces are shredded and credible and able are appointed void of their race or religion

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      Dr.N.Satchi,

      “There are young men who have identified with our people and were prepared to take the risks.”

      Well, such young men deserve appreciation of their sacrifices and can try their chances for some positions by contesting elections; but they are not automatically entitled to top leadership positions.

      Look at other countries like the US. Military men who sacrifice a lot don’t become top political leaders, unless they are highly educated, good public speakers and have leadership abilities as well.

      It was because of the failure by Tamil society to recognize the need for civilian control ( i.e, militant leaderships should have listened to elected Tamil leadership, rather than carrying themselves off as paramount leaders) that has brought Tamils to the current predicament. Tamils shouldn’t make the same mistakes again and again.

      Justice Wigneswaran is an excellent candidate for the CM position, but he should include CVK Sivagnanam and Prof.S.K.Sittampalam in his top level leadership since those who stayed in the North all through war and devastation deserve to assume some leadership positions as well. The young men you speak of, if they are elected and popular with the people, will also play key roles in the council, but they are not necessarily entitled to the top positions.

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      I do not think your fears are justified about Justice Vigneswaran. I had what I consider the very good fortune to meet this great man for a short time and I was impressed, very impressed, by his humility, his intellect and wisdom. Truly a Sage of our times!

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      Dr. Sarchi
      It was exactly the same was told when sumanthiran was brought in by sambanthar,

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    Justice Wigneswaran,

    Well Said Sir!

    “The Tamils are hardworking, the Muslims are doing good business. They are both flourishing. This should not be allowed because the Sinhala-Buddhists are numerically large (majority). They (minorities) should be attacked (taught a lesson) so that they will not go above us (majority)”.

    The Sinhala race is very violent, racist, hateful, jealous and mean spirited.

    There was a time when even in the remote Sinhala villages in the extreme South, the Doctor in the dispensary, the postmaster, the PWD overseer, and so on were all Ceylon Tamils of North and East and the Sinhalese (usually lazy) working under them as drivers and peons.

    There were two reasons why a large number of the Ceylon Tamils of North and East were doing White Collar jobs in the Ceylon Civil Service during the colonial period. They were CLEVER, HARD WORKING (the Tamil work ethics – work is worship) and HONEST.

    When it came to white color jobs the colonials gave preference to Ceylon Tamils during their period only because they (Tamils) were NOT lazy but hard working and honest.

    Similarly, the Muslims were dominating the trade/business right from the early days. The early spice traders were Muslims, they brought plenty of wealth to the country and the early rulers/kings were pleased with them.

    Today, every mean-spirited racist act of Rajapaksa brothers against the minorities are collectively endorsed and welcomed by the majority Sinhala-Buddhist masses.

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      Re m Rasvi’s Comments:
      CT censors offensive comments from appearing in its pages.Shouldn’t it censor stupid comments
      and ignorant comments like this one too?
      His comments about the Sinhalese were almost exactly what the White racists were saying about black people at one time.
      Shame on people who malign a whole group with these unfounded slanders.Unfortunately it is all too common among some Tamil zealots.

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    To CVW on Dr. N Satchi’s comment

    “Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you”. Christ

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    MR says there are no minorities in SL and now CM of North says Tamils were never a minority but a full fledged majority. I guess after all these years we are finally in agreement.

    Anyways, nice speech. I wonder whether Dr. RN thinks this guy too transcends parochial identities! He has already told us that Sinhala language is inferior to Tamil. I was told M.A. Sumanthiran of TNA is trying to build bridges with Sinhala south. I’m pretty sure this man will build an elevated highway from Jaffna all the way to Tissamaharama with his speeches alone. How can we blame him, after all Tissamaharama surely must be part of a future Tamil province for majority of paddy land there were once owned by Tamils no eh!

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      Navin

      “CM of North”, I wonder who that is???

      You may have to read over and over (several times) to understand what justice Wigneswaran has written.

      He says the Tamils were never a minority but a fully fledged majority. The British made us a minority only in 1948 by uniting the Tamil North to the Sinhala South and handing over the whole country to the Sinhalese on a platter without the consent of the Tamils. The moment the Sinhalese took the whole country (including the Tamil land) from the British in 1948, they started grabing the Tamil lands by colonizing their (Sinhala) people. You cannot find a single Sinhala person or family claiming NorthEast province as habitancy or origin? All those Sinhalese who live in the NE province today are those settled by the government after the independence under the colonization scheme. If you ask them, each one of them will say that their grandfather or great grandfather is from down south, where as the Sri Lankan Tamils hail from the NE province and proudly proclaim their habitancy.

      The Sri Lankan Tamils had a clearly defined (Tamil speaking) territory, their historic habitat in the North & East of Sri Lanka as their traditional homeland where they lived for several centuries as a majority with their own independent Kingdom until the European colonials arrived. The British united the two separate regions (Tamil North and Sinhala South) into a unitary state and gave it to one ethnic group (Sinhalese) by creating a single majority and making a total mess.

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    Unfortunatly in Sri Lanka the current opposition is not a govt in waiting and it never might be until they make some serious changes at the top.
    The current govt does not want educated and people of intergrity from the Tamil community as they will not be compatiable with the current team supporting Raja Inc. So they look to people like Karuna,Pilliyan,Douglas, Daya Master, KP etc. Look at these guys have they done a honest days work in their life?
    Sadly Tamils can stand-up and try to hold the govt accountable, its a lot to ask as its going to be a self sacrifice because they will be demonized and their life will be at risk with no chance of holding power or having any personal gain fro them or their family.

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    Re. Dr Satchi’s comments, allow me to say our Parliament has had members from the judiciary who came out well as politicians and served the proceedings of the House well. C.X. Martyn from Jaffna and a Fernando from Negombo were MPs whose speeches were listed to with apt attention in Parliament in the late 60s/70s. Those were Parliaments that had highly educated men, classic leftist leaders and so forth.
    Only these two come to my mind. There could have been very much more.

    As I wrote earlier us Justice Wigneswaren shows much promise as a future political leader. Who knows he might even be able to produce the unity the country badly needs with his Colombo secular and liberal upbringing and the fact he has Sinhalese in his family as well.

    Senguttuvan

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      Dear Senguttuvan,

      I have read your comments, and through those comments developed a great deal of regards to you.

      I was a strong supporter of the LTTE at least up to 2003. We all know the problem and that need not be repeated. What we need is a practical road map.

      Are we to depend on the external actors to solve our problems? Have we not experienced the havoc it unleashed?

      Don’t you think however difficult it may be we need to build trust between all communities that inhabit this splendid land of ours? Can we ignore the community that forms the bulk of the population?

      When I ask my Tamil friends about the Sinhalese, they say individually they are better than our people, but collectively they are against us. Why? Is there any underlying reason for it? Was it not the map of the homeland that formed the central platform for Bandaranayke’s 1956 campaign?

      It is unfortunately the Colombo personalities who brought the great calamities that were to cause havoc on this blessed Island. It was the Tamil leader from a village Mr. Amirthalingham who attempted to bridge the divide and paid the price.

      Dr. N. Satchi UK

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    Dear Mr. Abdullah,

    It is personality politics which led us where we are today. I share your anxieties as one from the minority community. We have lost our home, our beloved village is in the high security zone. Our kith and Kin were refugees in our own land – yes not under this regime.

    The learned judge is not the only one. If you are speaking about civil society there are excellent people who have put their neck to the block to protect such a society. Very brave educated and articulate men.

    The members of the Friday Forum come to mind. They have been at it. What about Dhanabala, he is a one with experience and poses a variety of administrative skills to the post of Prime Minister. There is Parkiyasorthy Sarawannamuttu a person who has the capacity to build bridges across the divide.

    If we are talking about leaders among Tamils, there are many, they may not have the stature but they will quickly grow into it as we saw in Mr. Sumanthiran

    Dr. N. Satchi UK

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    I agree with Dr Satchi. Justice Vigneswaran might have been a good judge and a good person, but will he be a good leader for the Tamils at this time of their history? He is advocating non violence to win over the rights of the Tamils. Many Tamil leaders in the past starting from Ramanathan brothers, GG Ponnambalam, Chelvanayagam, Amirthalingam and Sivasithamparan also believed in ‘Ahimsa’ and in non-violent struggle but they all miserably failed which led to the arm revolt by the Tamil youths. Justice Vigneswaran should remember that the so-called Sathiyagraha campaign led by Chelvanayagam fizzled out in the face of military action unleashed by the then SL Government. Chelvanayagam and the then Federal Party leaders did not have the stomach to continue with their non-violent campaigns. The armed struggle started by the Tamil youths did in fact make some impact and the Sinhala governments took notice that the Tamil problem has to be settled. Unfortunately the intransigence of Velupillai Prabaharan put an end to any hopes of a reasonable settlement of the Tamil problem within a united Sri Lanka.

    All these years we never heard Justice Vigneswaran showing his concerns publicly for the plight of the Tamils. Where was he at the height of the Eelam war when over three hundred thousand Tamils faced death and destruction? Perhaps he was sipping wine with the Colombo socialites.

    Most of those who have commented here except Dr Satchi are in praise of this gentleman for his speech, but they forget that speech making is not the only qualification that is required of a leader. Even in his speech he is not saying anything new. He has just repeated what TNA leaders have been saying – things like two nations, failed agreements, standardization, commercial enterprises run by the military in the North, building of Buddhist shrines in Tamil areas, Sinhala settlements in the North, Sinhala Military Governors in the Northern and Eastern Provinces etc. etc. The only new thing is his call to the Muslims to align with Tamils for a joint struggle. Muslims are in no mood to team up with the Tamils because they know very well that their plight will be worse off if they join hands with the Tamils. Vigneswaran should realize that the issues and problems of the Muslims are different to those of the Tamils. Muslims never wanted a separate state and they have always cooperated with the governments in power to win their demands. They always got what they wanted. The present antagonism against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka that comes from some sections of the Buddhists is being blown out of proportion by interested parties including the TNA leadership. Most of the Muslims know that. Muslim leadership will never join hands with TNA on account of the present campaign against Muslims conducted by Bodu Bala Sena.

    Justice Vigneswaran has not put forward any concrete proposals to win over the lost rights of the Tamils. He only makes a general statement about non-violent struggle. He, like the TNA, is not in favour of the Select Committee proposal. He talks about the need for unity of the Tamils. Is there no unity now with all the main Tamil parties represented in the TNA? If there is now a problem in TNA that problem is caused by Ilankai Thamil Arasu Katchi which does not want to register TNA as a political party. Sampanthan, Mavai, Sumanthiran & Co. must be blamed for the crack that is appearing in the TNA.

    There is this talk of drafting Justice Vigneswaran as the Chief Ministerial candidate at the promised Northern Provincial Election on behalf of TNA. What can he achieve as the CM of Northern Province? Is it a powerful position that will enable the Tamils to win their rights? Look at the Chief Ministers of the other eight provinces. Are they making wonders? Many people including some international actors think that conducting the Northern Provincial Council election will be great for the Tamils. These provincial councils are nothing but glorified Municipal Councils. Even the few powers they are given can be strangled by the Governors appointed by the President. The governors hold the purse strings of the provincial councils. Is Najib Majeed able to do anything as Chief Minister of the Eastern Province? Or for that matter was Pillaiyan able to do any wonders for the Eastern Province and for the Tamils who elected him when he became the first CM of the Eastern Province?
    The call for the nomination of Justice Vigneswaran as the TNA CM candidate is a desperate move from some sections of TNA knowing well that they will face a tough election in Northern Province given the crack appearing in the TNA. Another added reason for the TNA to look for a new face with impeccable integrity is that TNA knows well that the government has done a good work in quickly rebuilding the infrastructure in the North and in rehabilitating the refugees including former LTTE cadres. This good work had won praise from the general public of Northern Province.

    It is better for Justice Vigneswaran to continue to do what he had been doing in his retirement all these days.

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      Naga,

      Our Satyagraha campaigns of the past were charades! They were an attempt mimic Mahatma Gandhi’s without understanding its deeper meaning. It was symbolic without substance. This why they failed.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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        Dr RN,

        “It was symbolic without substance.” – Could you please explain?
        Thanks in advance.

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          Anpu,
          I quote Joan V.Bondurant from her book, ‘ Conquest of violence:The Gandhian Philosophy of Conflict’ ( University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles, London- 1971), to provide a concise answer.

          “In Satyagraha, dogma gives way to an open exploration of context. The objective is not to assert propositions, but to create possibilities. In opening up new choices and in confronting an opponent with the demand that he make a choice, the Satyagrahi involves himself in acts of ‘ethical existence’. The process forces a continuing examination of one’s own motives, an examination undertaken within the context of relationships as they are changed towards a new, restructured, and reintegrated pattern.

          Satyagraha goes beyond the pressure tactics of strike, sit-in, fasting, and other limited efforts characteristic of passive resistance.”
          She also goes on to say, ” Civil disobedience without creative action may, indeed end in alienation”.

          I hope this answers your question.

          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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      Naga,

      By virtue of his charisma,stature, eloquence, influence with the international community and his relationships with other communities within SL, Justice W can elevate the CM position, despite its relative lack of power. The East and the North are not exactly the same in this respect. Once the TNA earns the respect of the majority community through principled positions, they may be able to persuade a sizable segment of the Sinhalese on the need for more powers.

      Your assertion that the TNA is fractured and faces tough elections in the North is not supported by facts.

      What exactly is the alternative you have in mind? That the TNA forget its core principles, join the MR regime and get tainted by its fascist thuggery and evil?

      There is no way that will happen. Even from a purely cold strategic viewpoint, why should they do it when the regime is facing multiple crises that have the potential to hasten its demise? The only option Tamils have is to make use of even powerless positions to work toward achieving their goals.

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      I do not think the Colombo-born-bred and educated retired Justice Wigneswaran whose ancestry is from the district of Trincomalee will be a good political leader for the Tamils of the Northern Provincial Council.

      If you carefully analyze his latter part of the lecture he sounds very similar to Dayan Jayatilleka, the Tamils should settle with the bird in the hand and not think of the two in the bush. How much do the Tamils of the North know about Justice Wigneswaran and how much does Justice Wigneswaran know about the people of the North?

      Can we trust him in the first place, what if he leans towards the regime like many other Tamils? Even GG Ponnambalam who called for 50:50 finally joined the DS government and betrayed the Tamils.

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        Kumar,

        Pls forgive me. I think we should get rid of this Trinco, Batti
        and Jaffna prejudice pronto for a future leadership of the Tamil Nation. Despite many personal shortcomings Sampanthan has done us fairly well, in the circumstances.

        Senguttuvan

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    The Tamils and Muslims must get togther with Sinhalese to defeat MR. Ven. Sobotha’s proposals offer a good starting point. Abolition of the executive presidency and bringing back 17th Amendment is slogan that can bring TNA, UNP, CBK, SLFP dissidents, SF, Muslim parties who will also join, Indian Tamils, Left (outside and inside Govt.) and JVP all together for this. Please let us have a minimum programme. The proposed minimum will not allow MR to play the Sinhala card. Tamils must understand that. Of course, there has to be a political solution and Tamils are justly worried that it will never come. So, political forces that come togther must assure the Tamils that abolition of presidency will be followed by full implementation of 13A and then by further improvements. Sinhalese also must understand the Tamil concerns. If we cannot all find a way out, we can all keep posting comments against MR for at least 6 more years, possibly 12 more and probably 18 more till Namal baby comes.

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      100% correct. But what about Ranil? Unless UNPers put enough presuure on him, he will want to contest and lose. I too agree that the broadest coalition possible msut be set up. Everybody will have to make sacrifices. Otherwise, as herbertS says, we can continue to suffer under MR, then probabaly GR (OMG!) and Namal baby! What a frightening thought! We must push all leaders to be flexible and unite to defeat just not MR but also get rid of the dreaded executive presidency.

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    I saw this event on a TV channel and was veryb happy to hear Sambandan saying that s solution to the Tamil issue must be found within a united Sri Lanka. A very clear message. I hope diaspora Tamils understand the plight of Tamils in Sri Lanka. Every time an extremist slogan is shouted from abroad, MR uses it to his advantage. Every time Tamil Nadu politicians make a noise for their own political ends, MR uses them to whip up Sinhala nationalism. For God’s sake, let us get rid of MR first. Without that no democracy, no human rights, no solution to any problem.

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    Whence Sri Lankan Tamils And Whither Sri Lankan Tamils
    Whence Humans and Whither Humans and/or animals? Where Life lives on Life for food, sex and procreation for yet untold endless cycles even more food, sex and more procreation.

    Apparently only humans kill each other for their superstitious, mythical and fictitious beliefs and belief systems that are mostly used as facades not only for the basic necessities of life to survive as well as thrive over each other.

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    Pse correct some typos or substitute this to the above.

    Response to “Whence Sri Lankan Tamils And Whither Sri Lankan Tamils” in the CT.

    Whence Humans and Whither Humans and/or animals? Where Life lives on Life for food, sex and procreation for yet untold endless cycles of even more food, sex and more procreation.

    Apparently only humans kill each other for their superstitious, mythical and fictitious beliefs and belief systems that are mostly used as facades not only for the basic necessities of life to survive but as well as thrive over each other.

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    Some Readers appear to have missed the point Justice Vigneswaran,
    until he became publicly vocal on the Tamil National issue in recent years, was serving in the Bench. In that capacity, he could not possibly have made political speeches.

    Senguttuvan

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    Naga notes “TNA knows well that the government has done a good work in quickly rebuilding the infrastructure in the North and in rehabilitating the refugees…” How I wish it were so.

    If that was the case why did the Army, clearly acting on instructions from Colombo, refuse the leader of the Opposition and former PM Ranil Wickramasinghe from seeing what he wants in Valikamam. This was after strong protests from the Tamil leadership in the area their lands were being forcibly taken by SLA interests.

    I do not accuse. I wish to learn what is the status on the ground.

    Senguttuvan

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      Senguttuwan,

      Please answer the question I asked elsewhere and you never answered. Have you been to the Northern Province in the past two years? The ,” How I wish. It was so” sentiment you express does not hold any water, in the face of the reality.

      Dr.RN

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        Narendran, my man, you had your answer on the same day you had the strange question.

        Senguttuvan

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          Senguttuwan,
          The question was after your hee-haw reply, which was neither here nor there as usual.

          Dr.RN

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