by Shenali Waduge
by Shenali Waduge
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Commission,
I am honored and privileged to be invited to give evidence before this Commission and lengthy historical events of our time and I thank the Commission for giving me this opportunity.
Before I go any further I must congratulate the Commission for the progress made so far, especially in giving the lie to its critics dismissed it as fantastic as that of an international inquiry. The wonderful and fantastic commission scheme again debunked the cynical attitude common in some Sri Lankans who believe that local products are not so good as that imported goods and services. I can not see how three foreign gentlemen, sitting far away New York, with a predetermined attitude towards Sri Lanka, may investigate and report on the conditions in Sri Lanka based on the accounts presented suspicious sources which has a notorious record of reporting adversely and negatively in Sri Lanka. It is predictable that the UN Panel appointed by UN Secretary General, ban Ki Moon, – you know especially the problem of attitude of the UN panellists – is just rubber stamp the prevailing judgment of the West denigrating the largest historic movement in living memory Sri Lankans.
I want to say with certainty that the alliance of the World for Peace, which I represent, with the implicit trust and faith in the integrity and the ability of the distinguished Commissioners to fulfill their mandates to honor. I can, therefore, begin by congratulating the Commission for his outstanding performance as another successful attempt in telling the critics and doubting Thomases that we – yes, we can – manage our problems ourselves, in our own way, without intrusive foreigners trying to teach grandmothers how to suck eggs. The irony in all this is that foreigners preaching and elegant universal behavioral standards to us in no uncertainty principle that we should do what they say and not what they do.
Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Panel We value and appreciate the advances made so far and we trust and hope that you will continue to do so to serve the country which requires the user to make the laudable and very purpose of reconciliation.
I am here today as representatives of the World Alliance for Peace in Sri Lanka (WAPs). It is a global net work, spread from Toronto to Melbourne, dedicated to fighting the horrible anti-Sri Lankan forces damaging the image of Sri Lanka abroad. It is composed of volunteers committed to the forefront of an international movement to protect, preserve and promote the good name of Sri Lanka. WAPs are an independent organization that does not rely for funds, or direction from any government, either Sri Lanka or elsewhere. WAPs runs itself raised funds collected from the patriotic Sri Lankans in the diaspora and I’m proud to represent the WAPs which is probably the only NGO consisting of Sri Lankans without any links to any government in Sri Lanka or any other country or foreign funding agencies. It does not pretend to be a non-governmental organizations like the National Council For Peace, OR THE CENTRE FOR POLICY alternative that, in fact, linked either directly or indirectly to the Western governments or their agencies funding.
Works of Western governments and private funding agencies hand in hand to finance the local NGOs that received agents to do their dirty work in crisis-torn or less developed countries like Sri Lanka. To the West it is cheaper to outsource their foreign policy objective of the hired hands of the local NGOs because they proved highly sophisticated agents that can push the Western political purposes at a cheaper rate than their expensive career diplomats posted to Addis Ababa, Islamabad or Colombo. Western governments have openly admitted that NGOs have their “soft power” used effectively to advance their political agenda. It is, therefore, a misnomer to consider the National Council for Peace or the Centre for Alternative Policies or International Centre for Ethnic Studies, to mention only a few, such as NGOs because they are, directly or indirectly, may owe the government abroad. The NGO is also working closely with the diplomatic mission of the West where the local arm of Western governments. To whether the NGO is funded by Western sources, directly or indirectly linked to Western governments, and if they also work closely with the diplomats of foreign governments, how they are called non-a government organization? They act as the local arms of foreign governments. They dance to their tune because that is the only way in which they can continue running their funds from Western sources. If the local NGOs that fail to promote a political purpose useful to Western sources they go after business.
One of the main goals of WAPs is to take the same NGO in Sri Lanka and other countries which are, by and large, anti-Sri Lankan political fronts of the West. Distinguished members of the Commission, it is my intention to focus exclusively on the conflict for several reasons.
1) became the national reconciliation agenda from colonial times where communities compete with each vying for power and territory and it continues to be the national aim of this day almost in the same format.
2) It has been prioritized as the prime need of the day for us to move forward.
3) International and national pressures have mounted on the issue of conflict.
4) I believe reconciliation is also the main purpose of this Commission.
When we talk of reconciliation we mean essentially the reconciliation of the Sinhalese in the Tamil-speaking community took up arms demanding a separate state. A notable – but mostly ignored – political reality is that the relationship with the other two Tamil-speaking community, the Muslims and the Indian Tamils, remained undisturbed normal levels without either of them going the extreme of demanding a separate state or taking up arms against the majority Sinhalese. A single barrel statistics are revealing because that is denigrated as Sinhalese extremists, chauvinists, anti-Tamil racists will never be overcome peacefully co-exist with two other Tamil-speaking community if they are bad as they are painted to be.
A single political statistic also goes against the general accusation that the Sinhala majority is the oppressor of the Tamil-speaking community. This makes it abundantly clear that, despite the differences and tensions, both Sinhala majority have been successful in maintaining compatible and peaceful relations with two of the Tamil-speaking community and had only one problem with Tamil -speaking community. This single political truth should talk more about the political culture of peninsular with mono-ethnic extremism than about the Sinhalese who had grown Co-exist as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi- cultural and pluralistic entity.
The topics that dominate the political landscape turned reality on its head. For example, the multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural and pluralistic society is denigrated as Sinhala racist or chauvinistic as the mono-culture of Jaffna which was fought strenuously to preserve its mono-ethnic hegemony is projected as an exclusive haven of cultural superiority. The anti-Sinhala lobbying manufactured an ideology as Sinhalese extremists paint and paint the mono-ethnic extremism of the Jaffna Tamils ??as the Sinhala victims of bullying. If, as they say, the Sinhala majority is oppressing the Tamil-speaking minority in the scale described by NGOs and related propagandists of Jaffna Tamil separatist lobby, not all the other Tamil-speaking community There are basically due to gang up against the Sinhalese? Besides, why is the leadership of Jaffna Tamil not move the other two Tamil-speaking communities in their political and military campaign against their so-called “Sinhala oppressors”? Serious attempt was made by the SJV Chelvanayakam to develop a pan-Tamil-speaking peoples’ front against the Sinhalese but he failed to get them in a common front against the Sinhalese.
If the mathematics seen in convincing rational political analysts, the majority Sinhala has maintained consistent relationship with two of the Tamil-speaking communities, resolving differences without violence, why is the Jaffna Tamil leadership alone fail to keep non-violent, harmonious relationships with other communities? Why did they drag their own people by a senseless war in abysmal depths of Nandikadal? What they achieve? They went to destroy the Sinhalese whom they demonized globally and in the end it boomeranged on them. Their violence turned inwards and they lost their entire leadership, they lost their friends and relatives, and they lose their self respect and dignity when they were forced to surrender to fascist terror of a pathological serial killer. Now that we have gone through the worst part time has come for the Jaffna Tamil leadership to consider how the other two Tamil-speaking community leaders succeeded in guiding their communities in constructive and reliable end and why only the Jaffna Tamil leadership fails? Why is it that reconciliation is possible with other two-Tamil speaking community and a community not only in Jaffna?
The answer is found in the intricacies and complexities of the unique political culture of peninsular which dragged the Jaffna people from colonial times to the mono-ethnic extremism. In summary it is shown that according to the northern leadership is doomed to fail because of their intransigence and extremist mono-ethnic ideology that refuses to compromise on anything short of their fancy state of Eelam.
Jaffna jingoism is the most destructive and counter-productive to all the political culture of the Tamil-speaking community. Their ideologues and intellectuals who rationalized mono-ethnic extremism of Jaffna demanded reconciliation should be based only on terms dictated by the purpose of extremist of Jaffna-centric politics. This intransigence is one of the main causes that led to the failure of any moves towards reconciliation.
Reconciliation is viewed, argued and expected as a one way process – ie, the government of the day should provide the needs of only one Tamil-speaking community of disregarding or marginalizing the aspirations, the historical grievances, and needs of others other minority and majority communities whose primary purpose is co-exist in harmony with each other, sharing common ground with all those that consider the entire 25,000 square miles, from Point Pedro to Dondra, their homeland without any division.
Successive governments have lost this one-way track without any success. Each national, regional and global endeavor to bring about reconciliation failed because each move is aimed at appeasing intransigent leadership of Jaffna. The Indian move to bring about reconciliation completed by assassinating Rajiv Gandhi. Moves to harmonize the Premadasa finished assassinating Premadasa. The Chandrika-Neelan transition to produce a charter for reconciliation ended in assassinating Neelan and almost getting Chandrika. The last major one-way attempt at reconciliation Ranil Wickremesinghe when the Prabhakaran signed the CFA that conceding almost the next best thing to Eelam. It failed because the Jaffna Tamil leadership, as usual, refused to accept it as the route to reconciliation.
Furthermore, the undeniable fact is that the reconciliatory moves, signed the Tamil leadership, was approved by the Tamil people and their fellow travelers in the circuit NGOs. So what is the logic in saying that the Sinhala leadership has not made real moves in harmony? The Sinhala leadership has even gone as far as dismissing or marginalizing of the aspirations and needs of other Sinhala and Tamil-speaking community. Ranil Wickremesinghe, for example, crimes committed against the country when he authorized the supply of arms and ammunition, duty free, the Tamil Tigers. Even put him in the Navy Commander, Wasantha Karannagoda, the mat for the disappearance of Tamil Tiger boat smuggling arms and ammunition. Should he go to the Guinness Book of Records for being the first prime minister in any part of the world that pulled up his Navy commander for the defense of territorial integrity and security of the country. It is the innocent children in the Security Forces had to pay with their lives to repair the damage done to the CFA.
However he lost Wickremesinghe actions prove that he was bent over backwards to appease the Tamil leadership – a task that is doomed to fail. Successive Sri Lankan leaders have lost their way – sometimes under international pressure – to harmonize with the Tamil separatists. But they succeeded. Although the evidence is loaded against the Jaffna Tamil leadership for deliberately pursuing a military solution, reject a negotiated settlement, it is the “Sinhala state” to be blamed for every failure to harmonize the Jaffna Tamil leadership.
The Nordic peace-makers are on record saying that 95% of the terms and conditions of the CFA was violated by the LTTE. So who should take responsibility for failing to bring about reconciliation?
That is the leadership of the Tamil who decided to seek a military solution when they passed the Vadukoddai Resolution on May 14, 1976. It is known Resolution unanimously endorsed the decision to wage war against other parts of the country. Prof. AJ Wilson, son-in-law of Chelvanayakam, the father of separatism and the man who posed as Gandhi, states in his memoir that Chelvanayakam went through every word of Vadukoddai Resolution. Specifically urged the Tamil youth to take up arms and not REST until they achieve their goal of Eelam.
So it is not the “Sinhala state” adopted by the military solution. Historical documents record that it is the Tamil leadership to deliberately and consciously decided to go down the path of violence. That is the leadership provided by the ideology Tamil instigate the Tamil youth to take up arms. That is the leadership of the Tamil who financed the bullets, the guns, landmines, hand grenades, boats and all other firearms when the door is open to them to negotiate as the other two Tamil-speaking communities. That is the leadership of the Tamil who gave silent acquiescence in the killings of Tamil leaders.
Reneged on the national, regional and international agreements, which rejected all reasonable offers for reconciliation, even though the offer came with international guarantees, the Tamil leadership and their fellow travelers in academia, media, NGOs etc refused to accept political responsibility for the horrendous crimes committed in the name of the people in Tamil. Not surprisingly, the intellectuals, academics, NGO pundits made rationalizing their volumes dividing Tamil politics and justifying violence by blaming the Sinhalese.
Blaming the Sinhalese are the most common features of the Jaffna Tamil political culture. Jaffna-centric politics has thrived in targeting the Sinhalese. Ultimately it turned into a cult of hatred. The true expression of this anti-Sinhala politics is encapsulated in Resolution Vadukoddai. This is the most specific document to produce Jaffna determining their political goals, the violent approach and the cult of hatred. Made it a core ideology based not actually concocted history and geography.
A whole new industry grew round the ideological Vadukoddai Resolution. The pro-separatist seminars, lectures, researches, publications aimed at blaming only the Sinhala-Buddhists. The Vadukoddai ideology designed to justify the Jaffna Tamil leadership from all blame and any subsequent review of studies reveal that academics and public intellectuals are not deviated one inch from the fictions and laid down in Resolution Vadukoddai concoctions. In the end they blamed Prabhakaran also as a creation of the Sinhalese. If Prabhakaran is a creation of the Sinhalese his bullets should be directed only to the Sinhalese. But why did he turn his gun first at the father of Tamil Vadukoddai Resolution that endorsed violence? Is the Sinhalese teach him to target the entire Tamil leadership? If, as claimed, he came of Sinhala violence, why is he targeting innocent Muslims? What they have done to him? Why did he pluck the children in Tamil from Tamil breasts of mothers? It was the Sinhalese who prompted him to commit crimes against humanity?
Sinhala-Buddhists demonizing is a necessary strategy to justify Tamil violence and the needs of extremist. The root of the Tamil violence and the needs of extremist ideology Vadukoddai this is where specified and laid the road map to Eelam which, contrary to their expectations, completed in Nandikadal.
The Vadukoddai Resolution made the Vadukoddai War which lasted 33 years and four days. It has a definite beginning (May 14, 1976) and it has a definite conclusion on May 18, 2009. I consider it as an ongoing war and not as four Eelam Wars. The fact that Vadukoddai see-sawed in the War between the low-intensity and high-intensity phases does not add up to four war. This is just one ongoing war led by the war-mongers Jaffna specifically declared war on the rest of the country Vadukoddai Resolution.
This Commission and the major countries are now committed to working out the modalities for reconciliation. There are many roads to reconciliation, up from state initiatives in organized activities at grass root level. Reconciliation is not one-way traffic. It takes two came into conflict. Reconciliation, it must be mentioned, is a process that begins in the mind. Leading down the mental barriers, misperceptions, prejudices and fear-mongering some of the essentials needed to bring about reconciliation. More importantly, no reconciliation is possible if the ideology that led to the War Vadukoddai is left unchallenged.
Vadukoddai Resolution is not intended for reconciliation. It is intended to demonize the Sinhalese, they rewrite history to fit the purpose of Jaffna-centric politics and whip up anti-Sinhala sentiments Vadukoddai violence to keep the boiling point. In fact, when the Tamil separatists decided to go down the path laid down in Resolution Vadukoddai they opened two fronts: 1. The military front in the soil where the Tamil youth took up arms as stipulated in the Vadukoddai Resolution and 2. the ideological front where justified and fueled Vadukoddai War for 33 years. We won the war on the ground. But we have yet to win the second front – the ideological front which was heavily defeated by the military as before.
The Vadukoddai ideology hangs like a sword of Damocles over the heads of the country. The Tamil diaspora is primarily driven by Vadukoddai ideology. That is their one and only reference point. The Interim Government of Tamil Eelam Transnational is designed to achieve the objectives of Resolution Vadukoddai. Although the Tamil Tigers – the misled children Vadukoddai Resolution – is dead ideology is still alive.
Resistance to the ideology that it is a sine qua non for countries to move towards reconciliation. The main task of the second front, where the government has not been opened in any effective way, is to abolish the political topics and fictions woven round Vadukoddai Resolution. No amount of legislation can win this ideological battle. It’s going to be a battle for hearts and minds of people. Reconciliation is only possible when the mind is liberated from the subject of divisive and violent politics embedded in the Vadukoddai Resolution. The removal of the Tamil Tiger terrorists from the political equation helps. But the ideology that fired them to continue to linger on in various shades and manifestations.
This is why the ideological battle has to be taken seriously and fought relentlessly as the recently concluded war on the ground. The common thrust of anti-Sinhala ideology was based on allegations of discrimination against Tamils. Besides the concocted historical and geographical fictions, Jaffna-centric politics has always been accused what they called “Sinhala state” in the areas of discrimination. This is the rationale which took Jaffna-centric politics of violence. This accusation has been accepted uncritically by various pundits who found it very useful to toe the line.
It has become an integral part of conventional wisdom that hardly anyone dares to challenge it. I do not have time to cover all the issues of discrimination raised by Jaffna Tamil lobby. But let me deal with the main charge based on the Sinhala Only Act. As a result of massive brainwashing the world will know it as a symbol of discrimination against the Tamil-speaking people. But the other two Tamil-speaking communities – the Muslims and the Indians – is not consider it as an issue which could take up arms or demand a separate state. What should be mentioned that all issues of discrimination are raised and pursued relentlessly, ending up with the War in Vadukoddai, only by Jaffna Tamils. Almost every one of the issues of discrimination raised by the Jaffna Tamil political caste / class – except for the issue of citizenship of the Indians – has nothing to do with the other two Tamil-speaking community. This is one reason why the issue of discrimination that is so hollow. If two out of three Tamil-speaking community always pursued a political program of peaceful co-existence while having their rights through non-violent politics what is the justification of the Jaffna political caste / class to go all the way from Vadukoddai to Nandikadal?
Take the example of Sinhala only Act that were mentioned as the mother of all evil in Sri Lankan politics. It is not only the Jaffna Tamils ??but the whole Westernized, English-educated ruling class of all communities, including the Sinhalese, who rebelled against it. Although the language of the Tamils ??issue was confined essentially to the English-educated professionals, especially those in public service. The majority of the Tamils ??who lived in the Sinhalese have no problem with Sinhala as the language of commerce. When I grow my barber, my corner grocer store, my people thosai boutique, my rickshaw man took me to school, botal karaya, – you name it – all
Tamils ??and they have no problem with the Sinhalese. My mother shopped for her jewelry on Sea Street is no problem with bargaining in Tamil jewelers in Sinhalese. In fact, this is a problem confined only 6% of the English educated elite who resented and resisted their power and privileges taken away by enthroning the language of most people. They Hooked on retaining the colonial privileges which are going to 94% of people to communicate in the language of their elected government in the mother tongue. Which democratic, or even dictatorship, continue to unfair practice of running a government in a foreign language? France is run in English? England provided the Welsh? China is run in Japan? Why is it right for all other countries to run their government in the language of most but not Sri Lanka?
But let me hasten to add that the Tamils ??also have the right to communicate with their elected governments in their mother tongue. And provision is made for it by SW In RD Bandaranaike, the largest liberal Sinhala leaders who demonized the Tamil lobby as the sole author who deprived them of their rights. Bandaranaike will not overthrow the Tamil language. The dethroned him only English. Its mission is to correcting the imbalances left by centuries of colonialism. The pendulum swung in the West under colonialism is swinging in the East in all ex-colonies. One of the first human rights are managed in their own language.
When Sinhala only act was passed Chelvanayakam went from kachcheri kachcheri urging Tamil public servants do not know Sinhala. This is typical of the narrow-minded, divisive politics of Jaffna-centric politics that took it late in Nandikadal. It is the duty of all public servants to serve the public and it is the duty of all public servants to deliver 75% of the population in Sinhala. Chelvanayakam and the English-educated ruling class does not want to change the colonial practices. They are for retaining the status quo. In other words, you Chelvanayakam public to learn the language of public servants rather than public servants to study the language of the public. How fair it public? In fairness to Bandaranaike, it must be noted that he made it compulsory for public servants burgher Sinhala and Tamil to learn and even provided free classes in the department for public servants to learn the language of the public. That is the policy of this administration and democratizing the administration publicly accessible without any barriers of language that is vilified as a racist act by “Sinhala state” against the Tamils.
Let us also not forget that it is Sinhala youth took up arms first to yell discrimination. They too raised the issue of language but on the basis of a class. They said that English is the language of the ruling class who declined the opportunity to lower class. The Jaffna Tamils ??took the same issue on an ethnic basis and accused the Sinhalese pursuing racist politics. Although the late Marxist leader came to the conclusion that it is a class issue and not an ethnic issue. And despite all the allegations of discrimination in a base language of the country is still run in English. The judiciary, the executive and the legislature is ruled by and large in English. Although the bulk of the evidence recorded in the commission that it is in English. So where is the discrimination if all three languages ??are used in operations management today?
Let me highlight some key aspects to debunk this myth of discrimination. There are 192 members of the distinguished flying UN flags. Flags of all this is only the flag of Sri Lankan Tamils ??gave a place of respect, dignity and honor. The flag is the highest symbol of any country. When the President salutes the national flag as he salutes the Tamils ??and Muslims also. So with “the Sinhala state” excluded the Tamils ??and gave them a lower status nationally or internationally? Take the case of money – another symbol of national recognition. Remember every penny because it gives Tamil recognition as an equal partner. So where is this discrimination? This place of honor is not there for Tamils ??even in India – the ONLY homeland of Tamils.
In what way the unique symbol of the Tamils ??are denied their rights, their culture, their identity? On the contrary, in developing countries is not “successive” Sinhala government “put minorities on equal footing to every critical level? This is confirmed by the fact that two Tamil-speaking community has refused to join the Jaffna Tamils ??in their violent campaign against Sri Lanka. They had no reason to join hands because the issues of discrimination and other allegations are not valid. If the allegations of discrimination and oppression of minorities is valid it will be felt across the board with the minorities. But it is not. They all spoke in Tamil language, all of them are faced with the same majority Sinhala and they live in the same political space. Their refusal to join hands with the Tamils ??in Jaffna that the allegations of discrimination and oppression conclusively refutes the allegations of the Jaffna Tamils ??concocted.
As a result of distorted ideologies political culture of peninsular country was put through the most traumatic period in its history. The Jaffna Tamil political parties have survived past the culture of blaming the Sinhalese. If they are to learn from the history of one outstanding lesson that they must accept that there is no future in ideologically wild past. They pushed their mono-ethnic politics in the extreme and they are gone. Now is their task to re-think their place in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious state.
But to summarize, their mono-ethnic politics of extremism does not expire as long as their second front – the ideological front – is left wide open. Reconciliation can be built only by abandoning the Vadukoddai ideology which has no future. Those still are committed to the ideology that is not grasped the geo-political facts that went against Vadukoddai ideology. The Tamil leaders are aware that the international community is against a separate state but they said that the Tamil people. They kept the illusion of the Eelam alive for their own self-interest without any consideration for the suffering of people in Tamil.
Let us not forget that all this is the Jaffna Tamil people who suffered most. The Jaffna Tamil leadership should apologize to their knees in Jaffna people for leading them to Nandikadal. Jaffna deserves a more enlightened leadership that can save them from going to the same old route from Vadukoddai to Nandikadal on. Blaming the Sinhalese are not going to pay them any dividends any more. They should be responsible for manufacturing the Vadukoddai ideology that took them nowhere. No one asked them to pass the Vadukoddai Resolution. They did it themselves. No one asked them to drag the people of Tamil, using it as a human shield, to Nandikadal. They alone must take full responsibility for what happened to the Tamil people. They should not only apologize but promised their people not to take them down the path to another Nandikadal.
Bruce Fein labours to Justify contractual payments of $30,000 each month from the Tamil Tiger Terrorist Front called the Tamils For Justice
Bruce Fein a Harvard Graduate and a Reagan era Deputy Attorney General of Justice attached to The Lichfield Group who in an article published in the Washington Times dated February 3, 2004 fully endorsed the banning of terrorists including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), also known as the Tamil Tigers. He subsequently offered his services effective October 1, 2006 to lobby on behalf of the Friends of Sri Lanka to have the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran brought before an appropriate tribunal for war crimes, and to bring criminal charges against supporters and sympathisers of the LTTE in the US Courts amongst other services at a fee of $25,000 per month. He renewed his offer in February 2007 to defend the listing of the LTTE for a fee of $40,000.
Strangely, the same Bruce Fein offers his services in 2008 to a front organization of the LTTE called the Tamils For Justice to seek de-proscription of the LTTE and win US support for establishment of a separate Tamil State in the north and east of Sri Lanka, this time seeking $30,000 each month for a contractual term of nine months. He certainly appears to know that the Tamil Tiger coffers are stacked with illicitly earned green backs from trading in narcotics, smuggling of humans, extortion, credit card fraud, and every conceivable crime, and are desperately in need of whitewashing or laundering of their dirt in the western capitals to stall the fast receding boundaries of their usurped territory in Sri Lanka.
Despite his highly acknowledged credentials as a lawyer, what we saw as mere laymen was that Bruce Fein’s strategy is partial disclosure of events and historical data that he highlights to support his case, with his very subtle spin aimed at misleading the reader or listener into reaching conclusions that are far removed from the truth. In other words, he is not truthful and does not state facts as they are, but distorts the real position to mislead persons in the US who are far removed from the history, politics and everyday issues of Sri Lanka. It is not surprising to understand that Americans know little of the outside world and especially a tiny island such as Sri Lanka. In fact, a Canadian Broadcasting Corporation program called “This Hour Has 22 Minutes” found that a good proportion of US citizens did not know that their neighbour Canada was an independent country. Bruce certainly lacks knowledge of Sri Lanka, and obviously puts out the doctored separatist propaganda provided by the LTTE front, the Tamils For Justice group that he represents.
Having read his article in the Washington Times of January 29, 2008 and his subsequent address at the Brookings Institute, it is necessary to bring out some of the inaccurate statements that he relies on to make a case for de-proscription of the LTTE and break up Sri Lanka into two separate states to be dominated by the Tamils and Sinhalese instead of the multi-ethnic whole:
The fact is that the Tamils of Indian origin who were brought in by the British colonial regime as indentured labour from Tamilnadu for work on newly established plantations set up on lands confiscated from the indigenous Sinhalese land owners without a penny in compensation, did not qualify for citizenship in terms of the seven year residency stipulated in the Citizenship Act. These Indian Tamils were migrant workers who considered Tamilnadu their home, often returned to India with their earned wages. The Citizenship Act was passed in parliament by the elected members from the Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Tamil, Muslim, Malay and Burgher communities, and not just by the Sinhalese as stated by the lawyer Bruce Fein. The case of the stateless Indian Tamils was amicably resolved in 1963 with Prime Minister Shastri agreeing to take those opting for Indian citizenship, and Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike undertaking to absorb the rest. A balance of 94,000 who did not proceed to India as earlier decided were also granted Sri Lankan citizenship in the 1980’s.
Bruce is merely parroting Tamil separatist propaganda without studying the underlying facts. The Tamil minority of 11 percent in pre-independent Ceylon (Sri Lanka) were a privileged minority community that benefited immensely during the 145 years of British colonial rule under the latter’s divide and rule policy. The new Christian Missionary Schools were established in Tamil areas such as Jaffna for the dual purpose of propping up the minority against the majority and also with an eye to converting the Tamils who suffered indignities due to a strict caste system prevailing under the dominant Hindu culture. Fewer schools were started in the rest of the country to cater to the multicultural communities outside Jaffna, creating a serious imbalance in access to education. As a result, the Tamil minority came to dominate the majority in almost every field of economic activity, in that they demanded balanced representation for the 11 percent Tamils with the 78 percent Sinhalese in the new parliament popularly called the 50:50 cry, which the Commission set up by the British under Lord Soulbury rejected as an insidious attempt to make a minority of a majority, and instead recommended the grant of universal franchise to all citizens over 21.
It is not oppression of the minority, but a minority that wanted to retain their dominance over the majority even after the departure of their British colonial fairy godmother following independence. Instead of adopting a cooperative approach they decided on a confrontational stance on ethnic lines, which naturally caused friction and hostility giving rise to serious clashes on certain occasions. It is unfortunate that the Tamils have always organised themselves on communal lines and avoided joining mainstream national political parties. The cry for balanced representation later turned to a separatist cry adopting the infamous Vadukkodai Resolution of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) in 1976, based on myth and fantasy of a traditional Tamil homeland in the north and east of Sri Lanka which they could not substantiate. This false claim was used by the TULF to mislead the Tamil youth and encourage them to take up arms against the Sinhalese to gain their separate state of “Eelam”. (Ref. Justice Sansoni Commission Report)
The Sinhala Official Language Act and not the ‘Sinhalese Only Act’ was introduced in 1956 to recognize the language spoken by 78 percent of the people, and to replace the alien language of English spoken by just about 5 percent of the population, due to the limited access to English education in spite of 145 years of British colonial administration. It was a measure adopted to give redress to the vast majority of the population that had been marginalized throughout colonial rule. In India, Hindi spoken by 44 percent was made the official language as a unifying measure, just as much as the USA keeps English as the official language even though it has become a mixing bowl of a multitude of languages and cultures.
The Sinhala Official Language Act merely required that official records of the state would be kept in Sinhala, and it further required those public sector employees to acquire a working knowledge of the official language assessed at the Grade 8 level within a space of 5 years, failing which, with the option of retiring from public service with full pension rights. Contrary to what BF states, every Tamil child was provided with opportunities to be educated in the Tamil medium from the kindergarten to university free of charge at state expense.
Furthermore, a Reasonable Use of Tamil Language Act of 1958 was adopted, formalizing a set of Tamil language rights which also required public servants to have a working knowledge of Tamil to be able to serve in Tamil areas. Added Tamil linguistic rights and concessions were introduced in 1965 by the government led by Dudley Senanayake. Tamil language was enhanced as a National Language by the Second Republican Constitution of 1978 enshrining an array of rights far exceeding those enjoyed by English Canadians in Quebec and French Canadians in the rest of Canada. Thus within a short space of 22 years Tamil linguistic rights gained ascendancy to meet levels acceptable to most Tamils. Tamil was again elevated as an official language in the 1990’s bringing it on par with Sinhala. It must be added that language is not a fundamental right and needs to be won through the political process by gaining support of the constituency.
It is true that Tamils suffered at the hands of a mob that ran amok in 1983 after the non-transfer of bodies of 13 Sinhalese soldiers killed by Tamil militants by a claymore mine attack and simultaneous machine gunfire, to the respective families to conduct last rites, a decision apparently taken at the time to avoid the identical situation as display of badly battered bodies in the several townships and villages had the potential to trigger similar riots in the country. It was not originated by the government though certain elements are suspected of having participated. Also, it was the government led by the United National Party and not “the Sinhalese Government” that was in power at the time, which had representatives of the Tamil and Muslim communities in the cabinet.
The number of Tamil deaths according to official sources was 400, whilst BF has given an exaggerated figure of 4,000, both of which are unreliable. Most Sinhalese took steps to protect their Tamil neighbours and friends from the mob at great personal risk, of which little is said by those so protected. The Sinhalese have acknowledged the serious crimes committed against the Tamils during the riots in 1983 and have publicly apologised, whilst the state took steps to compensate the victims and apologise to the Tamil community both at the local and international forums.
BF and most Sri Lanka observers have failed to note the prevailing situation in the period prior to 1983 which contributed to the building of communal tensions such as the forced eviction of the 27,000 Sinhalese residents in the Jaffna peninsula in the late 1970’s following the adoption of the Vadukkodai Resolution, the forced closure of the Sinhala stream at the University of Jaffna necessitating the evacuation of 400 Sinhalese students to safety in 1981, and the blatantly false propaganda carried on outside the country by the Tamils to demonize the Sinhalese. These factors have been ignored and left out in determining the causes for the unfortunate eruption that occurred in July 1983, in the aftermath of the killing of the 13 soldiers that triggered the mob violence.
The riots of 1983 involving the Sinhalese who had hitherto treated the various minorities with respect was clearly an aberration. The Sinhalese who have regretted the action of the mob have remained calm despite numerous brutal attacks carried out by the LTTE with intent to deliberately provoke them, such as the killing of 144 pilgrims at the Sacred Bodhi Shrine in Anuradhapura, killing of 33 Buddhist monks at Arantalawa, regular bombing of passenger buses and trains and targeting of civilians in public places, attack on the world renowned Sacred Temple of the Tooth Relic in Kandy, and untold massacre of thousands of Sinhalese residents and Muslims in the north and east of Sri Lanka to ethnically cleanse the region of non-Tamils, in areas sought for their mono-ethnic Tamil racist separate state comprising 1/3rd of the land and 2/3rd of the coast for residentTamils numbering less than 4 percent of the island’s total population.
Notwithstanding the riots of 1983, the temporarily displaced Tamils have been able to return to their homes and livelihoods in the City of Colombo and other places in the south, whereas the ejected Sinhalese and Muslims have not been able to get back to their former places of residence due to the danger to their lives. In fact, a larger proportion of Tamils have taken up residence in Colombo and its suburbs and other southern townships to live in mixed ethnic surroundings midst the Sinhalese majority, as they have opted to distance themselves from the influence and control of the self-declared sole representative of the Tamils, i.e. the LTTE. Today, the Tamils account for the second largest group in the capital city of Colombo following closely on the Muslims who are in the majority, whilst the Sinhalese community are in third place.
The oft repeated statement that Tamil students had to score higher marks than Sinhalese students to gain admission to universities is a distortion of the truth. In
1972, Sri Lanka introduced a scheme of standardization as a temporary measure to assist children in less developed areas (districts) having schools with sparse facilities in respect of teachers, libraries, science laboratories, and other extra-curricular activities, to be able to enter higher educational institutes with a lower aggregate of marks as against students in districts such as Colombo, Kandy, Matara, Kurunegala, Jaffna, etc. that had far superior facilities. This enabled students in Tamil areas such as Kayts, Vanni, Vavunia, and Sinhalese areas such as Moneragala, Hambantota, Ampara, to be admitted to universities with lower scores, while both Sinhalese and Tamil students from the better facilitated city schools requiring higher scores had to give up some places to their rural counterparts. It has been wrongly described as a measure to restrict the admission of Tamil students, whereas it was to assist the deprived students notwithstanding their ethnicity.
In fact, Jaffna earlier regarded as a district with superior facilities has deteriorated following the upheaval caused by the long drawn out separatist conflict in the north and east, is today the beneficiary of the standardization scheme, enabling Tamil students to acquire places in universities with a lower aggregate.
As regards employment, the Tamil cry of discrimination does not hold when you examine the proportion of high positions held by members of this community. In 1981, when the Tamil minority population was only 12.6%, they had 34.9% of the engineers, 29.9% surveyors, 35.1% doctors, 38.8% veterinary surgeons, 30.2% medical technicians, 41.5% life scientists, and 33.1% accountants in the public service in Sri Lanka. Tamils have held high offices such as Chief Justice, High Court Judge, Attorney General, Army Commander, Navy Commander, Inspector General of Police, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Heads of Departments, Heads of Diplomatic Missions, which is most commendable for members of a minority community. Tamil judges and other senior officials have been held in high esteem by the public.
Sri Lanka founded over 2600 years back by the indigenous Sinhala people has a pre-history still being unravelled by archaeological experts. She has never invaded others lands. Sri Lanka has welcomed friend and foe, and permitted even defeated Chola and Pandyan Tamil invaders of South India to make it their home. Amongst Sri Lanka’s ethnic mosaic are the majority Sinhalese comprising 78.5 percent, Sri Lankan Tamils roughly 7.8 percent, Muslims (Moors) making up 7.8 percent, Indian Tamils numbering 5.4 percent, whilst Malays from Indonesia and Burghers who are descendants of the Portuguese and Dutch colonialists make up the balance of approximately 0.5 percent. The Tamils who initially came as invaders to pillage and plunder came as settlers only around the 11th century. The homeland of the Tamils is Tamilnadu in South India where an estimated 61 million Tamils live.
Today, Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic country with no exclusive homeland of any single ethnic group, with the majority of the people living in mixed ethnic surroundings except for some parts of the north which were ethnically cleansed in recent times by Tamil militants who forcibly evicted the long resident Sinhala and Muslim people. The Tamils like all other citizens enjoy equal rights as enshrined in the Fundamental Rights Chapter of the Nation’s Constitution. As a result of favoured treatment meted out to Tamils by the British colonial ruler for over 145 years, they have arrived at the notion that they are more than equal and should therefore continue to dominate the other communities, or have a separate state for their exclusive domain for which they have engaged in armed warfare for the past three decades.
The people of Sri Lanka are not willing to grant the demand made by a segment of the Tamil community for a separate state, but are agreeable to devolve some power to the periphery to a unit yet to be determined such as the district council, and to share some powers at the centre to enable the minorities to participate in the day to day governance.
There are absolutely no parallels to the Kosovo situation in Sri Lanka. The UN Security Council Resolution Number 1244 of June 10, 1999 recognized that Kosovo was an integral part of Serbia and formed part of Serbia’s sovereign territory. Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence and recognition of Kosovo as an independent sovereign country by the USA, UK, France, Germany and some others is in violation of the Charter of the United Nations and Resolution adopted by the Security Council in 1999 of which the USA and UK are key members. The USA is now backtracking from its earlier position as contained in the UN Security Council Resolution, and has now claimed that the unusual combination of factors found in the Kosovo situation allows her to recognize the breakaway state of Kosovo. The USA further stated that Kosovo cannot be seen as a precedent for any other situation in the world today.
Bruce Fein’s position on the claim for Tamil statehood in Sri Lanka is untenable and lacks any legal, historical or other basis to support it. The only reason that he touched on it is probably to make some undue turbulence to justify the high fees charged to his client. If the Tamils are unwilling to live as equals within the common homeland of Sri Lanka, they are free to move back to their motherland of Tamilnadu in South India, Bruce Fein country or any other place where they would be free to become true worshippers of the ‘Sun God’, as the LTTE’s sun gradually sets in the Vanni and the separatist fires fade away.
Yours very truly,