I fled Sri Lanka first under LTTE death threats in March 2006 and a second time in August 2011 after detailing election malpractices in Pitfalls in the President’s Alliance with the EPDP – A Visit to Kayts on Elections Day (Leader 24.07.2011). If I had been untruthful, the EPDP’s Minister Devananda had recourse to defamation charges; instead he abused his powers and got the police to collude on trumping up criminal charges. This is not uncommon in a country where the police are mere tools of the state, used even to murder opponents. The law is frivolously used. [For example, writer R. Tharmaratnam of London recently reported how EPDP Lawyer Rengan Devarajan filed a case against building supervisor Mr. G. Yogaratnam at the BARNET Courts in the UK. On 7 May 2013 when the case was called at great cost to Yoganathan, Devarajan faxed from Jaffna at the last minute claiming he had mistakenly thought the case to be fixed for June. No explanation having been proffered for suddenly remembering, the perceptive judge dismissed the case. That is how the EPDP uses the law against opponents].
Being Attacked in Exile
I presently teach at Michigan State University as a professor. I keep up my interest in Sri Lanka and write regularly of the government’s and its Tamil stooges’ work against Tamils. My articles usually appear in the Lankan print media so that they are subject to the legal system, however eviscerated and in its death throes.
I recently commented on Devananda’s weak commitment to devolution and his willingness to work with Sinhalese extremists in withdrawing the powers of the Provincial Councils prior to the Northern elections. I have commented on his friend K.T. Rajasingham who has been reported (Leader, 25.11.2007) as asking the President for funds to run a propaganda TV station and news portal for him. I have also commented on the government fomenting Buddhist fundamentalism through sham outcries against beef stalls and liquor shops, while allowing Tamil paramilitary stooges to run liquor stalls in the Vanni, keeping them open even on Full Moon Poya Days.
These articles have angered the Devananda-Rajasingam duo. K.T. Rajasingham went so far as to call up my friends after my article on his Asian Tribune as a propaganda sheet. He claimed that I am interested in the University of Jaffna Vice Chancellor’s post coming vacant in March 2014, and have therefore apologized to Devananda and asked for his blessings to return for the position.
I emphatically deny this. I have not communicated once with him over 2 years. In my eagerness to serve my beleaguered Tamil people, I once thought that I could do some good by leading the university. But that experience diminished me. To hold even the most minimal administrative position in a Sri Lankan university one has to submit to the murderers in authority. An engineer cannot function ethically in a job where the political authorities are implicated in murder and corruption of all sorts. Though I may still wish I could do some good for the University of Jaffna, I cannot compromise my personal integrity by dealing with the unsavory characters who control appointments. I will return to Jaffna when I am ready to retire.
Devananda’s Demand that I be Sacked
With Rajasingham’s intrigues failing, on 07.06.2013 Devananda lengthily wrote a complaint with strategic untruths to Prof. T.H. Curry, the Associate Provost of Michigan State University. Devananda introduced himself as MP and longstanding Cabinet Minister for four terms, Secretary General of the EPDP and continuously [sic.] elected as MP. He alleged that I was appointed VC on his recommendation despite coming third in the Council elections; that after my appointment, I made a deal with LTTE terrorists and on LTTE instructions fled without assuming my duties; and that I later, returned and applied again, but this time he refused to interfere because “such interference would be ultra vires [sic.] and undemocratic.”
Devananda continued, after the person with the highest votes was appointed, I wrote articles “containing fabricated and concocted facts attributed to [him] and [his] party … for the purpose of tarnishing [his] image and [his] party’s popularity;” that in “one unsubstantiated, baseless, defamatory piece of writing” I had insulted a section of the society supportive of him “in an obscene language [sic.] instigating social disharmony.” He went on that “such provocative writing that would cause to break the public peace [sic.] is a criminal offence punishable under section 484 and 485 [sic.] of the penal code. Accordingly the law enforcement authorities filed a lawsuit against him in the magistrate’s court of Kayts, Jaffna. … On being served with the notice to appear before the court … he fled the country [sneakily] and sought sanctuary in the US.”
Devananda ended his letter saying “I respectfully request you to reconsider your decision to continue employing a person who has been issued with an open warrant for a criminal offence. …Further by allowing him to use the office of your university [sic.] as a protective cover to carry out malevolent activities against others is in violation of the moral code of conduct and ethics of a high ranking institution like Michigan State University.” The letter, he says, was copied to “all Board of Trustees [sic.]”, Vice President and Secretary of the Board of Trustees, President [sic.],” my Dean and Department Chairperson, and numerous others, including the US Embassy and the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington DC.
Michigan State University Responds
The letter was replied by Attorney Michael Kiley, Associate General Counsel for the university on 10.06.2014:
“Secretary General Devananda: I write regarding the commentary about Dr. Hoole that you addressed to associate Provost T. Curry in an email that was copied to scores of other persons.
“The essence of your long complaint is that Dr Hoole is the subject of a criminal warrant because he authored a “writing [that] insulted a section of the society supportive of [you] in an obscene language instigating social disharmony. Such provocative writing . . . is a criminal offense. . . .”. You offered no factual support for your characterization of Dr. Hoole’s language as “obscene”. More salient, the asserted bad conduct would in this country implicate the exercise of “free speech”. Such is protected, not criminalized. Dr Hoole may or may not have published offensive comments at your expense, but such would have no bearing on his status at MSU.
“You asserted that Dr Hoole fled the jurisdiction. (Some would make a similar claim directed at you in connection with kidnapping and other unlawful conduct affecting Stanley and Mary Allen in 1984, the Choolaimedu incident in 1986, and the allegations stemming from Kilpaul, Madras in 1990. Michigan State University will not presume to sort through the particulars of personal and/or political differences between you and Dr. Hoole. There is no properly issued court order emanating from a tribunal recognized as having jurisdiction here. We decline to credit assertions having an adjudicative character.
“I wish you well in your work as Minister of Traditional Industries & Small Enterprise Development.”
Advertising their Own Evils
It is a sorry state of affairs when a minister claiming lengthy experience does not understand democracy. I did not see these letters until after Mr. Kiley replied. As expected of those behind a strong research institution, Counselor Kiley quickly researched facts and found out who the Minister is. By his behaviour when Sri Lankan freedoms are under scrutiny by the UNHRC, and by involving the State Department, Devananda has attracted attention to the evil nature of our government, leading to wider knowledge of his skullduggery in the Allen couple kidnapping and the Choolaimedu and Kilpaul incidents. When such a person is a longstanding cabinet minister, what is the world to think of the genocide allegations pending inquiry?
Minister Devananda has now written again, asking the university’s legal counsel by what authority he had replied the letter to the Associate Provost. That is excellent advertisement for President Rajapaksa and his arrogant cabinet – that the Rajapaksa cabinet includes men wanted for murder and kidnapping as senior ministers who are associated even with the kidnapping of two US citizens.
I welcome you to this lecture under the National Interest Module of the inaugural MPhil/PhD Programme of the Kotelawala Defence University. The topic of this lecture is “Sri Lanka’s National Security Concerns”. As we all know, Sri Lanka is one of the most peaceful and stable countries in the world today. Our citizens are enjoying the benefits of peace and have complete freedom and countless opportunities to build better futures for themselves. At the same time, it must be understood that as with any other sovereign nation, Sri Lanka faces potential threats from various sources. Guarding against these threats and ensuring the safety of the nation is the first duty of the Government, because National Security is the foundation of our freedom and our prosperity. As such, the Government needs to be fully aware of all the issues that impact the country in areas such as Defence, Foreign Policy, Economic Affairs and internal Law & Order. It must formulate a comprehensive National Security strategy to deal with them.
A viable National Security strategy must constantly align ends with means, goals with resources, and objectives with the tools required to accomplish them. The strategy needs to be aligned with the aspirations of the people, and it must have public support. Ideally, if comprehensive security is to be ensured, it requires the achievement of national cohesion, political and economic stability, the elimination of terrorism, the countering of extremism, and the formulation of effective responses to external challenges. The Government must make every effort to keep aware of a continually changing situation and take appropriate action in response to new developments and challenges. It is only then that the safety of the nation can be assured.
In the course of this lecture on Sri Lanka’s National Security Concerns, I will examine the following areas:
Sri Lanka’s overall National Security context
The primary threats to our National Security at present; and,
The strategies that are being formulated in response to these threats.
The Context of National Security in Sri Lanka
In the first several years after the achievement of Independence, National Security did not need to be a primary concern of the Government of Ceylon. As an independent Dominion of Great Britain, and as a non-aligned nation with excellent relationships within and outside the region, there were few pressing threats that the Government had to deal with. As a result, the attention given to National Security was minimal, as was the emphasis placed on the country’s Defence apparatus. The military was largely ceremonial. It only had to assist the Government on occasions when there were issues such as public sector work stoppages or riots. The need to strengthen law enforcement and the Armed Forces to protect the nation against internal or external threats was not seen as a pressing concern. The attempted coup d’‚tat in 1962 further reduced the attention given to the Defence apparatus by the Government. Due to fears that a strong military would be a threat to democracy, as had been the case in some neighbouring countries during this period, funding for the Armed Forces was drastically reduced and recruitments curtailed.
As a result of the weakening of the military, the country was not in the best position to deal with the first major threat to its National Security when it erupted in 1971. This was the first JVP Insurrection. Although investigations into JVP activities had been going on for some time, cutbacks to intelligence services, including the closure of the Special Branch of the Police in 1970, had left the Government largely unaware of the scale of the insurrection it was facing. The nation’s military was overstretched. In response to the Government’s appeals for help, India and Pakistan sent in troops to secure critical installations while essential equipment and ammunition was provided by Britain and the Soviet Union. Although the insurrection was successfully suppressed within a short time, it had many consequences. One of the most crucial from a historical perspective was that National Security became a much greater concern both for the Government and for the general public. As Ceylon became Sri Lanka in 1972, upholding National Security was one of its foremost priorities.
In the late 1970s, Sri Lanka saw the emergence of the greatest ever threat to its sovereignty in the form of the terrorism of the Tamil separatist groups in the North and East. As the conflict worsened in the early 1980s, particularly after the riots of 1983, the threat of terrorism loomed large not only in the North and East but effectively all over the country. The rise of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the likelihood of its attacks in public places fostered a deep insecurity amongst the people. There was significant loss of life, loss of property, and countless lost opportunities to achieve economic development. The law and order situation deteriorated as arms and ammunition started to flow to criminal elements in the underworld. By the late 1980s, the second JVP insurrection caused the further deterioration of the security situation throughout Sri Lanka. As a result of the increasing instability and violence, people began to lose some of their freedoms as more and more intensive measures had to be taken by the state in trying to uphold public security.
As the terrorism situation worsened, there was also an increasing involvement of foreign powers and the international community in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs. During the early stages of the terrorist conflict, India trained LTTE cadres in training bases established in Tamil Nadu. Many of the leaders of other separatist groups also frequented that state. It is also important to note that several international Non Governmental Organisations that were based in the North and East first started to cooperate with the terrorist groups active in those areas during this period. In 1985, India facilitated talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the separatist groups in Thimpu, Bhutan. The talks collapsed due to the unrealistic demands made by the separatists. These demands would have gravely affected Sri Lanka’s sovereignty if granted, and the Government had no choice but to refuse them. Fighting soon resumed. By this time, the conflict transformed into one between the state and the LTTE, which had used the ceasefire granted for the Thimpu talks to destroy rival separatist groups.
As the fighting gained momentum, the emphasis given to National Security by the Government also increased. For the first time, the appointment of a Minister of National Security was seen as necessary. The strength of the military was also significantly enhanced, with larger recruitment drives, the acquisition of better assets, and improved training to counter the growing threats. With its improved capabilities, the military was able to make more and more progress in fighting the terrorism of the LTTE. For the first time, we also saw changes within the structure of the military. The need for a coordinated effort to combat terrorism led to the establishment of a Joint Operation Command to coordinate the three Armed Services, Police and Intelligence Services in counter terrorism operations. The military used battle formations for the first time, and the requirement for a National Intelligence Bureau to coordinate the intelligence services at a national level was also understood and subsequently brought into being.
In 1987, the very successful Vadamarachchi Operation enabled the Government to regain control of much of the North, leaving the LTTE on the brink of defeat. At this point, India intervened directly in the conflict by air dropping humanitarian relief supplies over Jaffna. This led to the abandonment of the Vadamarachchi operation, and the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed in July of that year. This led to the induction of the Indian Peacekeeping Force (IPKF) to the North of Sri Lanka, where it got embroiled in conflict with the LTTE. After more than two years of fighting, the IPKF withdrew from Sri Lanka in October 1990, and fighting resumed between the LTTE and Government Forces.
Although there were several periodic attempts at peace talks, the intensity of the war grew during the 1990s and in the early 2000s, with several major battles being fought and much hardship suffered throughout the country. The military was strengthened significantly to deal with this threat. Specialised units such as the Commando Regiment and the Special Forces Regiment of the Army, as well as the Special Boat Squadron of the Navy were developed to deal with the increasing military challenge posed by the LTTE in the North and East. However, in addition to its battles with the military, the LTTE also frequently carried out attacks against civilians in the rest of the country. Large bombings took place in public locations in Colombo, killing thousands. Hundreds more were massacred in vulnerable villages near LTTE dominated territory. Critical installations and economic targets such as the International Airport, Central Bank and the Kolonnawa Oil Refinery were also ruthlessly attacked. In order to contain this very serious threat to national security, precautionary measures had to be greatly increased throughout the country. This led to the visible presence of soldiers on the streets, the widespread use of checkpoints, frequent cordon and search operations, and the constant upholding of the Emergency Regulations, which gave wide-ranging powers to the military and law enforcement agencies. The entire country was effectively on a war footing.
In 2002, the next major development in the conflict was the signing of the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE under mediation of Norway. This event can also be viewed as the next major phase in the internationalisation of Sri Lankan affairs as a result of the conflict. The Peace Process that was entered into by the Government of the time was facilitated by Norway, with the support of the representatives of major donor countries, namely the European Union, the United States of America and Japan. Together with Norway, they comprised the four Co-Chairs of the Sri Lankan Peace Process. A Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission was also established, comprising members from Nordic countries, to supervise the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement. Despite their presence, the LTTE continued to create instability in the country; assassinating its key opponents including Hon. Lakshman Kadirgamar, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, and carrying out occasional attacks against civilians.
In 2006, increasing provocations by the LTTE culminated in its threatening of a humanitarian crisis by closing the vital Maavilaru Sluice Gate. This was a crisis that affected the right to water of thousands of households, and even affected national food security by preventing the flow of water to many thousands of acres of agricultural land. The Government intervened with a limited operation to reopen the sluice gate, but was met with large-scale attacks by the LTTE on several fronts. This led to the widening of the military campaign into the Humanitarian Operation that ultimately freed Sri Lanka from terrorism.
The Humanitarian Operation required significant strengthening of the military to enable its success. During the ceasefire period, the LTTE had managed to strengthen its offensive capabilities significantly. It had approximately 30,000 cadres in its ranks and a vast arsenal of weapons and equipment that included heavy artillery, mortar, missiles, rocket propelled grenades, and light aircraft. Combating such an enemy that employed guerrilla tactics required the Sri Lankan Armed Forces to grow significantly. Between the end of 2005 and the end of 2009, the number of Army personnel grew from 120,000 to over 200,000; its 9 Divisions were increased to 20; its 44 Brigades expanded to 71; and its 149 Battalions increased to 284. The Navy and the Air Force were also expanded significantly, and given tasks beyond their classic role. The upholding of security throughout the country also required the Police and Special Task Force to be strengthened, and the Civil Defence Force was revamped and significantly expanded.
Because of the internationalisation of the Sri Lankan situation during the previous decades, there was a great deal of foreign scrutiny on the progress of the Humanitarian Operation. By keeping the Indian leaders constantly informed about what was happening on ground, and by skilfully managing our relationships with other nations, it was possible for the war effort to continue unimpeded. Nevertheless, towards the end of the war in 2009, the Foreign Ministers of France and the United Kingdom arrived in Sri Lanka and attempted to intervene in the military campaign, although they did not succeed. Efforts by such parties to end the Humanitarian Operation reflect the tremendous influence that the LTTE’s international network had on foreign capitals. Many in the international community wilfully ignored the fact that the Government of Sri Lanka was duty-bound to protect its citizens from the aggression of the LTTE terrorists. Even after the war ended and peace dawned in 2009, this bias against the Government led to Sri Lanka being taken up at the United Nations Human Rights Council. Although the initial Resolution against Sri Lanka was defeated that year, two more were sponsored by the United States in 2012 and 2013, and successfully passed.
Today, Sri Lanka is a country enjoying the full benefits of peace, and it is engaged in a concerted push to accelerate its economic development and bring prosperity to its citizens. The country has much to catch up on. Three decades of conflict lost us countless opportunities for growth: foreign and local investment suffered due to fears about the war; tourists did not visit the country, and many of our best and brightest went overseas to build better futures for themselves. Countries such as Singapore, which were in a similar economic position to Sri Lanka when we reached Independence in 1948, developed at a tremendous rate during this period. This is because they did not have a major conflict to contend with. Sri Lanka’s prospects on the other hand were greatly curtailed as a result of the war. This is why the biggest responsibility of the Government of Sri Lanka even today, in the post war situation, is to ensure the continued security of the country. Without security and stability, there will be no economic development. The maintenance of National Security is therefore of the utmost importance.
The National Security of Sri Lanka needs to be addressed in context of the history of this country and the realities of its present situation, and most critically from the perspective of several responsibilities of the state. The state must ensure that the Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity of the nation is maintained, and that there are no threats to the safety of our population. Ensuring economic growth so that the people of the country can uplift their standard of living is also critical in order to prevent internal problems recurring in the future. Creating a favourable environment for Sri Lanka internationally is similarly of the utmost importance in keeping adverse external influence at bay. Securing the safety of our physical assets and safeguarding the nation’s democracy are also critical. Considering this overall context, it is clear that National Security must be understood within a unified, single framework that integrates the nation’s Defence, Law and Order, Foreign Policy and Economic Policy. These four areas need to come together in the creation of a comprehensive National Security Strategy. This is essential if Sri Lanka is to consolidate its present peace and stability and fulfil its potential.
Present National Security Concerns
There are several potential threats in today’s context that Sri Lanka needs to be concerned about. These include:
The possible re-emergence of terrorism
The emergence of other extremist groups
The creation of ethnic divisions and communal violence
The challenges of maritime security and border control
The growth of organised crime
Foreign interference in domestic affairs
Non-traditional threats through technology driven new media, including social media.
In discussing terrorism, it is first of all important to appreciate the sheer scale of the problem that the Government of Sri Lanka was confronted with as a result of the LTTE over the past three decades. Since the 1970s, the LTTE grew from a small organisation of armed individuals to a large, sophisticated terrorist outfit with very advanced combat capabilities. At its height, the LTTE had more than 30,000 battle-hardened cadres; access to large stockpiles of modern armaments, ammunition and equipment; a sophisticated naval wing and a fledgling air wing. For a considerable period of the conflict, the LTTE was able to maintain the illusion of a functional state apparatus in the territories it dominated. It also had significant influence in foreign capitals as a result of its extensive international network. Defeating the LTTE required a concerted effort on the part of the Sri Lankan Government. As a result of the unwavering leadership of His Excellency the President Mahinda Rajapaksa, this task was achieved in May of 2009.
In the immediate aftermath of the war, there were a number of issues that needed to be dealt with. First was the problem of nearly 300,000 internally displaced people who had been used as the LTTE’s human shield during the last phases of the war. Then there was the need to demine the North and East so that those areas would be safe for human habitation. This resulted in the recovery of hundreds of thousands of mines and improvised explosive devices laid by the LTTE during its retreat. Infrastructure development and reconstruction of those areas after years of neglect under the LTTE’s dominance was another significant issue that had to be dealt with, after which it was possible to resettle the IDPs in their places of origin. One of the most important issues was dealing with the nearly twelve thousand surrendered LTTE cadres and four thousand detained cadres. The Government took the bold step of rehabilitating nearly all of them so that they could become productive citizens in future. The vast majority of them have already been reintegrated with society.
Amongst other post war achievements has been the disarming of other armed groups that used to operate in the North and East, and the encouragement these groups have been given to contribute to society through democratic processes. The restrictions that used to be in force on movement, fishing, high security zones etc., have all been removed. Democracy has been completely restored, with free and fair elections taking place. Economic growth in the North and East has been truly remarkable in the recent past, and it is clear beyond doubt that normalcy has been restored to the people.
Despite all of these very positive developments, however, the threat of terrorism re-emerging still persists. One of the main reasons for the LTTE’s success during its heyday was its extensive international network, which has been in operation for many decades. Following the ambush and massacre of 13 soldiers in the North by the LTTE in 1983, there was a major communal backlash against the Tamils in the rest of the country. As a result of the July 1983 riots, a large number of Tamil people left Sri Lanka and travelled to countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia and parts of Europe. These countries granted asylum to these immigrants, and later granted them citizenship. As such, there is a large population of immigrant Sri Lankan Tamils in other countries. A small minority of this population supports the LTTE even to this day. Extremist elements within this community, together with LTTE agents and operatives, including trained terrorists who fled Sri Lanka at various times during the war, comprise the LTTE’s international network.
After the demise of Prabhakaran, the LTTE’s former procurement chief Kumaran Pathmanadan, better known as KP, took control over this network and indicated that it would continue to work for the separatist cause through peaceful means. However, a breakaway faction emerged almost immediately, led by Nediyawan, who wanted to continue Prabhakaran’s ideology of violence. Nediyawan’s group, was previously known as The Tamil Eelam People’s Assembly or the Tamil National Council and is now known as the Tamil Coordinating Committee, Based in Norway, this group has been working with other international groups to promote the LTTE’s separatist cause in many parts of the world. The Tamil Coordinating Committee has control over most of the assets of the LTTE’s international organisation, including its media networks such as Tamil Net.
Following the arrest of KP in August 2009, Rudrakumaran took over the leadership of the main network and began working towards establishing a “Government in Exile”. This group now fashions itself as The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam. In the guise of fighting for Tamil rights, its primary objective is to lobby foreign Governments for the establishment of a separate state in the North and East of Sri Lanka. The so-called “Transnational Government” has about twenty “Ministers” and “Deputy Ministers”, and was formed with assistance of an advisory committee comprising prominent pro LTTE activists, including foreigners who have been helping the LTTE for many years. There has recently been a revolt within the TGTE, where one third of its members loyal to Nediyawan, went against the leadership of Rudrakumaran because they wished to engage in more radical action.
Another prominent LTTE-linked group emerged out of the British Tamils Association, which was active since 2001 in supporting the terrorism of the LTTE in Sri Lanka. In 2006, the leader of the BTA, Arunachalam Krishanthakumar, alias Shanthan, was investigated on suspicion of supporting terrorist activities. As a result of these suspicions about the BTA, the British Tamils Forum was formed in 2006 to carry on the same activities in a new guise. The BTF acted as an umbrella organisation that mustered support from the immigrant Tamil community and local British politicians for dividing Sri Lanka. With Shanthan’s arrest by British authorities in June 2007 for providing material support to terrorism and his conviction in April 2009, as well as the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009, the role played by the BTF needed to be changed to suit the post-war environment.
As a result of this, the Global Tamils Forum emerged in February 2010, with many of the same members as the BTF. The head of the GTF is the so-called Father Emmanuel, a Priest who was once hailed by Prabhakaran as “a freedom fighter who has given leadership to a movement committed to setting up the homeland to Tamil Eelam”. Father Emmanuel has been engaged in a propaganda campaign against Sri Lanka for many years, targeting Tamil expatriates, Foreign Governments and International Organisations. He is known to have visited LTTE strongholds in Sri Lanka in mid-2000 to conduct training for selected youth who were earmarked to take up overseas appointments for fundraising and propaganda for the LTTE.
Under Father Emmanuel’s guidance, the GTF has successfully influenced a number of politicians from various political parties in European countries as well as the United States, Australia, Canada, and India to support the separatist cause. In addition, the GTF has courted officials within international organisations such as the United Nations, the European Union and various international non-governmental organisations to obtain their support. Part of the success of the GTF in these activities can be attributed to the involvement of influential pro-LTTE foreigners in it. These include Mrs. Joan Ryan, a former British Parliamentarian who has become the Head of the GTF’s Secretariat.
Yet another group that is active internationally in supporting the separatist cause is the LTTE Headquarter Group, which is based in France and headed by Vinayagam, a senior intelligence cadre who managed to escape during the final stages of the war in Sri Lanka. This is a group that is known to engage in Human Smuggling, with some of its past operations including the sending of the “Sun Sea” and “Ocean Lady” vessels from South East Asia to Canada in 2009 and 2010. The members of this group generally maintain a low profile and their movements are kept to a minimum as most of them have been issued Red Notices by Interpol for their involvement in criminal activities. They also keep their distance from both Nediyawan’s and Rudrakumaran’s groups, but maintain links with the GTF.
All of the LTTE-linked groups are coordinated by the GTF and united by one overarching objective. Their unwavering intent is the division of Sri Lanka and the establishment of a separate state for Tamil Eelam. There are several strategies through which they will try to achieve their objective. These include:
The winning of international opinion for the separatist cause,
Increasing international pressure on Sri Lanka in various areas; including pushing for international investigations into war crimes and claims of genocide, and by encouraging international monitoring of the national reconciliation process,
Undermining all efforts of the democratically elected Government of Sri Lanka to create a better future for its citizens through reconciliation and economic development, and
Continuing to push for the resumption of conflict through reorganizing local pro-LTTE elements within Sri Lanka.
Some of the efforts of these LTTE-linked groups have been successful to a certain extent in that despite the war having ended four years ago, the internal affairs of Sri Lanka have been kept at the forefront of the UNHRC’s Sessions as well as at the top of the agenda of several prominent international NGOs even in the recent past. It has to be noted that many of those who create this pressure by claiming to be human rights activists and victims of state repression are actually trained LTTE cadres and operatives who are now fully engaged in propaganda activities. It is very important to understand that their attempts to put pressure on the Government through international bodies such as the UNHRC and non state actors such as international NGOs is designed to strengthen those who work against Sri Lanka’s interests.
In this context it is important to realise that there are groups even within the democratic mainstream in Sri Lanka that obtain funding from the LTTE’s international network and pro-LTTE elements overseas, which more or less openly talk about achieving the very same objectives that the LTTE had. Though they appear to have a democratic face, their actions and remarks clearly show that the extremist separatist ideology has not yet disappeared. Their ultimate objective is achieving the division of Sri Lanka. As a result of their actions and statements, it is very much a possibility that certain radical elements will feel empowered to once again attempt to take up arms in the name of separation. This is a major National Security threat that needs to be taken with the utmost seriousness.
In addition to the threat of terrorism, Sri Lanka also faces a potential threat from other extremist groups. These are the remnants of the radical groups that were involved in previous insurgencies. Some of these groups are trying to reorganise within Sri Lanka and mobilise people to once again take up their extreme left wing causes. There is information that some of these groups have started to link up with the LTTE-linked groups to create further problems in Sri Lanka. Some of their activities include radicalising students and encouraging them to take to the streets in various protests. Though such activities are still in their early stages, they pose another serious National Security concern that we need to be vigilant of.
Another growing concern in the post-war environment is the increasing communalism amongst ethnic groups, which if left unaddressed, could result in the rise of ethnic tensions in the future. During the period of the war, it was not only the Sinhalese and Tamil communities that were affected by the terrorist separatism of the LTTE, but also the Muslims. After the LTTE started engaging in ethnic cleansing in the North in the early 1980s, it expelled the Sinhalese community from Jaffna and soon after turned its attention to the Muslims. Several massacres were carried out at Mosques in the East, and in October 1990, the LTTE expelled more than 75,000 Muslim residents from the North. This was followed by further brutal attacks on Muslims in vulnerable villages near the territory dominated by the LTTE. In this environment, the Muslims also started to organise themselves for their own protection against the LTTE. After the LTTE’s defeat, some of these groups have begun to engage in activities that stem far beyond self-protection. There is some information that some of these groups have even tried to link up with the global Islamic terrorist movement. This is a situation that requires careful monitoring.
On a broader scale, it also has to be acknowledged that one of the consequences of the terrorist conflict Sri Lanka endured for thirty years has been the increased insularity of ethnic groups. Rather than identifying themselves on the basis of nationality, the communities of Sri Lanka have begun to identify themselves on the basis of their ethnicity or their religion. Instead of calling themselves Sri Lankan, they identify themselves as Sinhalese or Tamils or Muslims or Buddhists or Christians. This fragmentation of the Sri Lankan identity is most unfortunate, because activists within these communal groups seek minority rights or ethnic rights rather than working within the framework of a common national identity.
The cross-border links that can arise as a result of such insular ethnic or religious identification is also very troublesome. It is clear that there are some in the Tamil community who identify themselves more with the Tamil community of Tamil Nadu than with their fellow Sri Lankans. This has been encouraged by some parties overseas who wish to promote the idea of a greater Tamil Nation. Similarly, it has been observed that there are some foreign groups that wish to encourage Sri Lankan Muslims to identify themselves more with the global Muslim community, thereby reducing their integration within Sri Lanka. This trend has been particularly prevalent in the post September 11 world, in which there has been a tendency among certain groups to try and influence the global Muslim community towards religious extremism has become visible.
The increasing insularity and cohesion amongst minority ethnic groups has also led to the emergence of hard line groups from the majority community: the popularity of certain political groups and movements can be viewed as being largely a response to this trend. In turn, the emergence of hard line groups in the majority community causes further tensions amongst other communities, which leads to a vicious cycle of greater fragmentation of the Sri Lankan identity. Sri Lanka had enough divisions in the past that ultimately led to conflict; we must learn the lessons from our past and ensure that history is not repeated. This is therefore a very serious National Security concern at the present moment.
The maintenance of maritime security is another serious National Security Concern that the Government needs to be vigilant about. As an island, Sri Lanka does not have land borders to worry about, but maintaining maritime security is a serious challenge. In the past, the only maritime security issues that had to be dealt with was the illegal movement of Indians into Sri Lanka and the smuggling that took place between Sri Lanka and South India. Preventing these threats was one of the foremost duties of the military in the 1950s and the 1960s. However, with the development of the LTTE and other terrorist groups in the 1970s and beyond, maritime security became a major concern to Sri Lanka.
For example, it is a well-known fact that the LTTE acquired a vast arsenal of weapons and equipment including artillery, missiles, mortars, armoured vehicles and even light aircraft. None of these items were produced in Sri Lanka, but were brought into Sri Lanka through the sea. In addition to military supplies, the LTTE’s cadres were initially trained at bases in Tamil Nadu. Given the recent activities of LTTE-linked organisations outside Sri Lanka and particularly in Tamil Nadu, this is very much a current threat even today.
The organised trafficking of persons or human smuggling is another significant maritime security issue. Organised groups, some of which are connected to LTTE-linked organisations, have lured many people seeking better economic prospects into this lucrative illegal operation. During this year alone, more than 440 such people have attempted to leave Sri Lanka illegally. Having sold their properties and handed over all their wealth to the operators of these schemes, the victims of human trafficking find themselves trapped on board unsafe vessels along with hundreds of others, travelling to countries that will most often refuse them entry. In order to make a compelling case for their acceptance by border control authorities abroad, such economic refugees often concoct stories about being persecuted in Sri Lanka, thereby damaging the country’s reputation. Furthermore, the mechanisms of human trafficking have enabled trained terrorists to escape justice in Sri Lanka and flee abroad to safe havens, from which they may once again attempt to cause problems to the country through other means.
A further consideration with regard to maritime security is the protection of our maritime assets. One of the problems Sri Lanka has faced in the maritime domain after the defeat of the LTTE has been the increasing incidence of pirate fishing in Sri Lankan waters by South Indian fishermen. These fishermen use illegal practices such as bottom trawling to maximise their catch. This causes serious damage to the healthy fish stocks in Sri Lankan waters, and also adversely affects the livelihoods of our own fishermen. These fishing boats that enter Sri Lankan waters illegally have also been known to engage in other criminal activities including drug smuggling. Protecting our waters from these fishermen, as well as from others who might seek to exploit our other oceanic resources including oil and gas, will be one of the key maritime security challenges for Sri Lanka in the future.
Somewhat farther afield, the threat of international piracy is also a concern for Sri Lanka’s maritime security. Many of the world’s most important Sea Lanes of Communications are located in close proximity to Sri Lanka, and both the newly built Hambantota Port as well as the Colombo port are ideally situated to service the hundreds of vessels that cross these lanes on a daily basis. The reach and sophistication of the pirates originating mostly from East Africa has been increasing in recent years. This factor undermines the security of these Sea Lanes and could pose a serious problem to shipping in the region in the future. This will have an impact on the country’s economic security as well, and is therefore another challenge that needs to be monitored.
With regard to border security, one of the concerns Sri Lanka has is the possibility of the country being used as a transit point for transnational crime. The arrest of certain elements connected with extremist regional terrorist groups in India and Pakistan have shown that they have used Sri Lanka as a transit point from which to coordinate their activities. Some who are known to have been temporarily sheltered in Sri Lanka by an International Organisation after claiming refugee status in the west, are known criminals who engaged in illegal activities such as credit card fraud, drug smuggling and counterfeit currency printing abroad.
Organised crime in Sri Lanka is another issue that needs to be addressed. As a result of the rise of terrorism and the insurrections Sri Lanka experienced over the last forty years, and the response required from the state, a considerable amount of arms and ammunition inadvertently fell into the hands of criminals. This led to the rise of the underworld, which is now engaged in a number of organised criminal activities including drugs, armed robberies, kidnappings for ransom and financial frauds. There are also groups that engage in seizing land illegally. Tackling the challenges posed by organised criminal groups is another priority for the state.
In today’s environment, the possibility of foreign interference in our internal affairs remains a significant National Security concern. With the involvement of countries like India, Norway, and the United States of America in Sri Lanka as a result of the terrorist conflict, matters relating to this country’s internal affairs have gained increased visibility within the international community. India in particular is very sensitive to what is going on in Sri Lanka because of the large Tamil population in its influential southern state of Tamil Nadu. Especially during the elections cycle, Sri Lanka figures large in its power politics. In the recent past, we have seen even the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu attempting to pressurise the central government into opposing Sri Lanka internationally. This is a serious threat to Sri Lanka’s security, and perhaps even its sovereignty.
Furthermore, as a result of the rapid economic and military development of countries like India and China in recent decades, the entire Asian region has become increasingly important in global affairs. Because of Sri Lanka’s important geostrategic position within the Indian Ocean region, a great deal of attention is therefore placed upon it in the present era. There is a possibility that some western powers wish to have a Sri Lankan Government that is closely aligned with their interests, and will seek to influence Sri Lanka’s destiny so that it cannot pursue the independent course it is following at present.
A third factor that has led to Sri Lanka’s increasing importance in the international arena involves regional power politics. The issues between India and Pakistan, and the issues between India and China are particularly sensitive in this regard. With the rise of China as a world economic leader, there is a widespread belief that India feels insecure and is seeking to align itself with the other powers that seem similarly threatened by China’s ascendancy. The likelihood of the United States showing more interest in the region and aligning more with India is a factor that may affect Sri Lanka. Further, its establishment of a base in the Maldives is also changing the complexion of the region. These are developments that need to be monitored from the point of view of Sri Lanka’s national security.
The final threat to Sri Lanka’s National Security that I will highlight during this lecture is the emergence of technology driven new media including social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other websites on the Internet. We have seen the potential of this new media to destabilise nations and affect serious change in the case of countries like Tunisia, Libya, Egypt etc. Although the likelihood of events such as the Arab spring transpiring in Sri Lanka is minimal as a result of it being a democratic nation with an extremely popular political leadership that enjoys a very large electoral majority, this is yet another threat that needs to be monitored. Particularly due to increasing Internet penetration and computer literacy in Sri Lanka, many of our youth are familiar with social media and use it as a tool to gather information as well as propagate ideas. Those with vested interests can exploit social media to cause problems in Sri Lanka by propagating certain ideologies online and mobilising and organising people. This can be done with a minimal physical presence, and therefore forms a threat that is difficult to contain through the traditional tools of national defence.
National Security Response
Considering the foregoing threat assessment, it is clear that despite Sri Lanka being in a post-war situation in which most people are only concerned about economic development, National Security remains very much a core concern for the Government. In addressing the challenges discussed above and developing a comprehensive National Security Strategy, it is important for the Government to take a holistic view and incorporate many of its elements into a single policy framework.
In terms of internal security, the best response to most of the threats that we face is the development of the Intelligence Services. Sri Lanka has two primary intelligence arms: the State Intelligence Service and the Defence Intelligence, which comprises the Directorate of Military Intelligence, Directorate of Naval Intelligence, and Air Intelligence. In addition, the Police maintains the Special Branch, while the Special Task Force also has its own Intelligence Division. Furthermore, the Terrorist Investigation Department and Criminal Investigation Department of the Police also work closely with the other Intelligence agencies on matters relating to National Security.
In the past, the lack of strength and coordination amongst these various intelligence services used to be a serious issue. It is essential that they work together under a unified command structure in order to improve coordination and enhance capabilities. Towards this effect, one of the efforts undertaken by the present Government has been to bring these intelligence services under the Chief of National Intelligence, who reports directly to the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence. This has streamlined coordination and improved cooperation amongst the intelligence agencies.
Another important development in this regard has been the augmenting of resources allocated for the Intelligence function. After the war, the number of military intelligence units have been increased and each Security Force Head quarters now has its own Intelligence Unit. The Intelligence personnel are being afforded more and more training in order to enhance their capabilities and capacities, and as Sri Lanka moves forward, it is hoped that the Intelligence agencies will be able to keep track of and contain domestic National Security concerns.
Furthermore, although the requirement for offensive military operations no longer exists in Sri Lanka, it is of the utmost importance that our security measures are not relaxed. Although the military is not engaged in law enforcement activities, and although their visible presence has been greatly reduced, it is essential for the military to be placed in strategic locations throughout Sri Lanka. Particularly in the North and East, where we know that there are still potential threats to National Security, it is essential to have a significant though unobtrusive military presence. Some recent efforts of international elements to reorganise pro-LTTE elements in the North underscores the need for this. For example, the recent arrest of some youth in Jaffna and Chennai who had been recruited by a Chennai based LTTE-linked group funded by the LTTE’s Europe based network, shows the utmost need to remain vigilant in this regard.
It must also be underscored that as a Sovereign nation, Sri Lanka has every right to place its security elements in any part of the country it so chooses. While some in the international community talk about the so-called militarisation of the North and East, and some political parties in Sri Lanka decry the presence of the military in these areas, it must also be understood that the people of the North and East mostly have a very cordial relationship with the military. Since the end of the war, the military has been involved in a great deal of reconstruction work, and they have also supported the people of the area to resume their livelihoods. They have provided equipment and material for agriculture, fishing and various types of assistance for small business development. The increased attention given to Civic-Military affairs also helps National Security because it helps the Armed Forces to win the hearts and minds of the people in the former conflict areas.
With regard to the work of the Defence services in the post-war environment, it is also essential to expand the responsibilities of the Navy and the Coast Guard. The protection of Sri Lanka’s maritime borders is of the utmost importance, and there is a great deal of responsibility on these two institutions to safeguard our seas. The Exclusive Economic Zone Sri Lanka enjoys needs to be protected, as it is a vital economic asset. The Navy needs to get more naval assets so that it has the ability to patrol or dominate the blue seas. It is also important to improve the Navy’s surveillance capabilities through augmenting its Radars and adding a new air surveillance capability. The Air Force, too, needs to improve it capabilities with regard to surveillance operations.
Another aspect of internal security that needs to be mentioned is the rectification of weaknesses that we used to have with regard to the national identity system. Because it was a manual, paper-based system, criminal and terrorist elements could very easily obtain forged identity cards. This enabled the terrorists to operate throughout Sri Lanka under various names and aliases; this is why the threat of suicide bombings and other attacks in the rest of Sri Lanka was such a pressing problem during the period of the war. To address this critical weakness, the Registrar of Persons Department was brought under the Ministry of Defence & Urban Development, and a new identity card system that uses biometric information will be introduced shortly. Similarly, the problem of people coming into Sri Lanka and staying here illegally under false pretences will be addressed through the introduction of a proper border control system in which biometric information will be incorporated into the passport and international standards used for identity verification.
From the point of view of domestic security, perhaps the most critical aspect will be the achievement of national reconciliation and the forging of a common Sri Lankan identity. Economic development is an absolute necessity in this regard. The fact remains that unless people enjoy a reasonable standard of living, peace and reconciliation are very difficult to achieve. This is why the Government has spared no expense or effort to develop infrastructure and build up the North and East to a high standard. This will enable the benefits of peace to flow down to the people of those areas. When people know that they have the opportunity to achieve a better future for themselves, it is highly unlikely that they will waste their time on violent ideologies. The achievement of economic development and national reconciliation are therefore two of the key areas of focus of the Government in the present national context.
Finally, with regard to external threats, it is of the utmost importance that Sri Lanka maintains cordial relationships with its allies. Despite the present pressure from Tamil Nadu, it is essential to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with India. Relations with the many countries that helped us in the past, both in economic terms and through political support, should be strengthened further through skilful diplomacy and further development of mutual ties. It essential to further strengthen the existing cordial relationships with powerful nations such as China and Russia, which have permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council and can influence any international action on Sri Lanka more significantly than other nations. In this overall context, it is very important that the foreign policy of Sri Lanka needs to be realistic. It is essential for Sri Lanka to have close ties with certain powerful nations in the international community in order to safeguard its National Security interests.
During the course of this lecture I have outlined the overall context of Sri Lanka’s National Security concerns; identified our most pressing threats and discussed the broad outlines of the Government’s strategy to deal with all these issues. Ultimately, the best way to ensure that Sri Lanka remains safe and strong in the future is for all of us to put aside the differences of the past; unite as Sri Lankans, and work towards a better future for ourselves and for each other.
The government’s decision to celebrate May 19 as a day of victory and the country’s second Independence is another one of its actions that has polarised the Sri Lankan people. Whether by accident or design, it is ironic that through its continuing actions the government that reunified the territory of the country should also be the one that fosters the divisions between the people. I was in Mannar on that day that marked a watershed in the modern history of the country, and saw that the Sri Lankan people were divided in their attitudes. There was no collective remembrance of loss, but a reinforcement of the separation that has overshadowed the post-Independence era.
While the government was celebrating with military march pasts and air and sea shows in Colombo, in Mannar there was real action that was reminiscent of what happened during the war. A group of people who had gathered to commemorate those who died in the last battle, were prevented from doing so by armed military personnel and police with guns pointing. It is reported that 15 of them were arrested and only released on bail late at night. Earlier the state media had reported that such commemorative meetings were illegal and warned anyone commemorating the defeated Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was liable to be arrested.
However, the Tamil political parties in the opposition said they staged the remembrance for those who died in the final battle. This was where the top LTTE leadership were killed. In this charged context, the decision of the Catholic Church in Mannar to commemorate all victims of the war was pragmatic. Whenever Tamils have tried to commemorate the death of their loved ones, the government has taken steps to prevent this. The military in particular is sensitive to commemorations of the LTTE being held in the guise of commemorating the civilians who lost their lives. However, the reality is that the two groups of LTTE and civilians were often mixed. Especially in the last days of the war, the LTTE forcibly recruited children, some as young as 12, and this included the children of Mannar.
Mannar is the only one of Sri Lanka’s 25 districts that has a Catholic majority. With its unique cultural attributes, it is a celebration of the country’s cultural and religious diversity which must not be made into a weakness when it is a strength. Unlike the Tamil political parties who had called on the people to commemorate the war dead amongst the Tamil population, the Bishop of Mannar requested the clergy in the area to commemorate all victims of the war, and not just those who were Tamil. By implication, this would have included those of all three ethnic groups, the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, and also the fighting personnel on the two sides, the government and LTTE. It is a testament to the strength of Sri Lanka’s diversity, that it was a minority group that decided to commemorate all who lost their lives as recommended by the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission appointed by the President.
This year’s victory celebration by the government was focused on the valour of the armed forces and the comprehensive defeat of the LTTE. President Mahinda Rajapakse viewed the military parade and pledged that there will be no room for those who tried to divide the country. He said, “We will not allow a single inch of the land that you won by the sacrifice of your life to be taken away.” The past fortnight saw a build up in the mass media to remind the people of those days of blood and bombs and how it all has ended. The contrast with the peaceful situation of the present will continue to bring in the votes of a grateful nation.
But the unfortunate reality is that the support of the Sinhalese majority for the war victory and the government’s celebrations has not been matched by any kind of equivalent support from the Tamil minority. They too have been beneficiaries of the peaceful situation that has followed the end of the war. They are now safe from the ravages of child recruitment and terror tactics that the LTTE brought to bear upon them. But they also wish to mourn their loved ones who are no more with them, to find out what happened to them, and also to regain their dream of enjoying equal rights in which they also have the right to decide. These are all matters on which the government appointed LLRC has made recommendations on but are not being followed by the government.
Four years after the war’s end the political solution that the leaders of government promised during the time of the war has yet to materialize. The LTTE has been replaced by the Sri Lankan military who govern them in conjunction with the civilian administration. The Northern Province, where the first gunshots of the war were fired and where the last of the rebel fighters fell, has still to enjoy the right of elected provincial governance even to as limited an extent as the other eight provinces do. A government ally has filed action in the Supreme Court calling on it to abolish the system of devolution of power for the entire country. In this context, there is increasing skepticism whether the promised Northern Provincial Council elections in September this year will actually take place.
The civil war ended in 2009 but four years later the country has yet to find its path of reconciliation and to heal the wounds of war. At the present time it also appears that Sri Lanka is moving backwards, and not forwards, in terms of securing the Rule of Law. The impeachment of the Chief Justice process eroded the rule of law and usurped the pre-eminence of the Supreme Court in its role of interpreting the constitution. This has impacted negatively on the rule of law and by extension the protection of human rights and political accountability. There is also the rise of inter-religious tensions fanned by government allies. A new dimension of inter-communal unrest is the rise of Buddhist extremism that has targeted the Muslim community and taken on an open and frontal confrontational approach.
Sri Lanka could have been a very different country today. There is a need to recognize that although the civil war ended in 2009 the country has yet to find its path of reconciliation through an inclusive process of political negotiations and a sincere effort to heal the wounds of war. If the recommendations of the LLRC appointed by the President had been followed, the government could have changed course last year. Government leaders would have ceased to further engage in ethnic triumphalism and instead focused on commemorating all victims who lost their lives in the senseless conflict. They could have utilized the occasion of May 19 to resolve that never again would such bloodletting be permitted to take place. This would have been a commemoration that all Sri Lankans, respecting multi ethnicity, equal rights, and the safety and dignity of all, could have taken part in as a united Sri Lankan nation.
In midst of the noise of populist political posturing on the electricity tariff increase, there has also been, as always, a considerable amount substantial discussion on the issue. While a number of OpEds have been edifying, and of our legislators, Harsha de Silva‘s lone, yet richly informed analytical voice has been most stimulating, I do feel there is an aspect of the matter that has still not drawn attention. In the paragraphs below, I will attempt to delineate this.
I will not go over all the numbers here, yet suffice to say that simply throwing out percentages of the increase does not paint a worthwhile picture. For example telling us that a 30 unit consumer’s bill will rise, 52% is a great, factually correct but misleading headline – that may allow the reader to miss, the fact that for nearly half the electrified households in Sri Lanka (0-30), this increase will amount to Rs. 75/=. Consider at this point that a loaf of bread is 60/=, a packet of milk powder 400/=, and the cost of mobile telecommunication perhaps 400/=, to say nothing of other utilities. Tub thumping about a 75/= increase of one utility is neither here nor there. On the other hand, electricity subsidies, unlike many others are beautiful and elegant since they are not easily transferable to an affluent consumer. Comparing this to the old style ration books, which were, and the new style car permits that are, would clinch the case. In any event this small increase comes in at some thing like Rs. 575 million, which again given the CEB short fall of nearly 60 Billion, is neither here nor there.
The brunt of the increase in rupee terms is borne by the lower-middle band 90-180 consumers. A 150 unit household will see its bill rise, from 2850/= to 4515/=. That’s not just 58%, its also Rs. 1,670/= or so. A 180 unit household will see its bill go up to 5130/= an increase of only 33% and rupee addition of 1275/= ( Yes, the rate of increase decreases with consumption. All figures have been rounded off, and are rough).
That’s a lot. For a family of four, in the urban service sector, living on some thing like 40,000/= a month, spending some thing like 12% of its income on one utility is a heavy burden, given others like cooking gas, water and telecommunications. Transportation while not a household utility is another thicken slice of the families budget.
So what should be done? Indeed one can agitate for a reduction; but unless this cost is recovered, those very households will see price inflation in other segments of their monthly basket of goods.
Promoting energy efficiency is the other way to go. Indeed if we are to accept and live with the form capitalism we have, it seems rather contrary to suggest as some do that the answer is to discourage consumption. That may be one model of using resources, but its silly to impose it in electricity consumption and promote it in other areas.
For example are we to have a sliding scale of pricing for personal miles flown each year? In this model, if you’ve flown 10,000 miles this year your next ticket would be twice the price of your old one. On the contrary, airlines encourage frequent fliers, by giving them perks. At the bottom of this system of capitalism – which is flawed but still viable – is the idea that flying becomes more energy efficient each year. So its not that you fly less. You fly more, at lower energy cost.
Returning to the lower-middle band of 90-180 customers of the CEB, we can make the same kind of argument, which a false, child like populism is masking. What does that mean? Well, we only speak of light blubs when we speak of energy efficiency. Since lighting is so basic, it seems safely populist to speak of moving from incandescent lighting to CFL or LED lighting. Yet is it unclear, if these well known new technologies are supported by duty waivers.
But once we leave lighting behind we will find that a household in the 90-120 band has both a refrigerator and a television. 40% of Sri Lankan households have a fridge, 80% a TV. But in the lower-middle band I speak of ownership of these appliances has to be pretty universal. It stands to reason; or else where would the units go? What is the average energy efficiency of these appliances as used in the lower middle band? I am not sure any one knows – but we can guess estimate that the turnover cycle among this consumer is long – unlike with the affluent who may turn over their appliances every 3-5 years. Older appliances are far more inefficient than new ones.
Let us look at some numbers. Switching from a 17” CRT TV to a 15” LCD TV (which has the equivalent viewing area), will save 13+ units a month, if daily viewing is set at an avarage 8 hours a day. With a refrigerator, switching from a 8 CF model that’s 20-10 years old to a fresh model, will save more than 50 units a month.
Lets say a savings of 59 units a month. Our 150 unit household is down to 91, and their bill is back down to, 2,225/= or from 4,500/=. A reduction of huge proportions. Our 180 unit household is down to 121 in this simple calculation (the reductions could be higher if the TV and/or fridge was bigger); and their bill is now 3,500 down from 5130. (If 60 units were used as the savings, the drop would even larger, but perhaps misleading, because of the quantum jump at the pricing bands).
No doubt its not that simple; new appliances do have a considerable capital cost. Yet, there is little doubt that home appliance chains sell new low end TVs and fridges by the truck load; the question is how does a consumer learn about her choices?
Shouldn’t we be rating household appliances on an efficiency scale? Shouldn’t such rating be regulated, just as the ingredient listing on a can of fish or packet of sausages is regulated? Shouldn’t there be huge duty concessions for the highest energy band? Shouldn’t consumers be told at the point of purchase, this model will cost you so much a month to run, the other one more?
We don’t seem to doing any of this. At the very top end of things, several retailers advertize energy efficient air conditions. But even they do not actually tell us what the power consumption of the model is. If you walk into one of the large home appliances chains in Sri Lanka – there are three big ones – and ask casually or other wise (I’ve tried both) – what the power consumption of the reverent appliance is, you will find that the sales staff are clueless. In fact, when recently at the service center to pick up an appliance, I asked the technician in front of me, at the testing table, what was the power consumption of a LCD TV he was testing. He looked blank. I rephrased the question a number of ways; he looked about the back of the TV and said, ’220.’ Yes he did. He was pointing to a white sticker that said, the appliance was rated for 220-240 A/C. For the uninitiated, the rated voltage of an appliance has nothing to do with its power consumption; if a trained repairmen is as clueless as a sales person on these matters, I am very much afraid the consumer may be quite lost. We really need to do better.
My numbers are rough, and I am skeptical, to say the least, about the great project of consumer capitalism. But that’s where we are. Populist protests mask this because consumer capitalism seems dirty, and unworthy of street protests. I think we need to grow up, and for the time being at least, simply consume smarter.
While denying reports that the Sri Lankan Navy had fired on Indian fishermen, President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he instructed the Navy to carry out a detailed investigation into the incident, the Hindu reported today.
Talking over breakfast to foreign correspondents at his Temple Trees residence in Colombo this morning, he said that the Sri Lankan Navy was not involved in the incident.
Asked if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had spoken to him about the incident, he said that the Prime Minister had not. Asked if the Sri Lankan government would take action in the event of the firing being committed by its security forces, he said that despite the preliminary investigation – which established that the Navy was not involved — he had asked the Navy Commander to conduct a detailed investigation.
The Sri Lankan Navy’s chief of operations, said that the incident occurred well within the Indian waters. “The sea is very shallow in these areas and the position of all our ships’ locations are monitored by land-based and other equipment. This is in the open and anyone can check,” he told The Hindu, denying that the Sri Lankan Navy had anything to do with the incident. >> Full Story
An excellent piece in the New York Times today talks about ‘Monks Gone Bad’, describing a corrupt and violent Sangha that uses hate speech and abuse against minorities and is helmed by leaders who resemble fatuous politicians and not the ‘birds of the wing’ that the Buddha wanted his mendicant followers to be. I am not here to point out the contradictions between Buddhism as taught and Buddhism as practiced, the ingloriousness of Buddhist praxis nowadays is evident for all to see. I just wanted to point out that at every instance in that article where I saw Myanmar, I could have easily inserted Sri Lanka. For every instance where I read about 969 in the news, I can insert ‘Bodu Bala Sena’. About the only words that do not require replacing are ‘anti-Muslim’, ‘minority’ and ‘hate’.
As we all know, the police, together with the Bodu Bala Sena soon disbursed the vigil, arresting some, manhandling others, and collecting the names and pictures of most of the attendees.
The Bodu Bala Sena and its kindred run amok in Sri Lanka, like bullies in a school playground, and with not much more in the way of finesse. They hurl offensive invective towards religious minorities, and their words have resulted in quite a few violent incidents against Muslims ,and at least one against Christians, re-opening wounds in the country that are still struggling to heal after the 30 year war. They seem to operate in a space where Sri Lanka has not just lost so many lives, its economic development, and so much of its natural beauty to a long, long war. In order, perhaps, to call their attention to this, a peaceful vigil was held outside the headquarters of the Bodu Bala Sena. As we all know, the police, together with the Bodu Bala Sena soon disbursed the vigil, arresting some, manhandling others, and collecting the names and pictures of most of the attendees. Not only this, the Facebook page of the Bodu Bala Sena decided to ‘name and shame’ these attendees, causing their supporters to enact the most disgraceful bout of name-calling, verbal harassment and racist trolling that I have ever seen on social media.
One of the ‘points of order’ from the Bodu Bala Sena, its supporters and some of the media who covered the incident, was that the legitimacy of the vigil was in question because the attendees did not represent the Buddhist population, that many Muslims, Christians and Hindus were present. On Facebook, attendees are called out as ‘demalek’ ‘muslimayek’ ‘jathiyak nathe’. Indeed, an attendee tweeted that he overheard someone saying that the vigil was convened due to a ‘conspiracy of Muslims and Catholics’. So much for a critical understanding of religious history- perhaps the speaker would be better served from devoting his time to education rather than racist troublemaking! To each his own, however. It is altogether more worrying thing that this misrepresentation of the attendees was not only picked up by the media, but that it was also the feature of an article by Malinda Seneviratne, writing in the Colombo Telegraph. The good gentleman, from his considerable experience, no doubt, is able to discern a Buddhist from a non-Buddhist, and therefore writes an entirely unnecessary article that serves only to distance himself from standing with those who attended the vigil. In response, Dr Dayan Jayatileka – who is experiencing some changes to his tune- quite rightly pointed out the flaws in Mr Seneviratne’s argument, but did it in a manner that entirely calls attention to his own accomplishments and ‘stake’ in the manner. The riposte from Mr Seneviratne was then, to accuse the good Doctor of ‘throwing his CV’ at him. I ask you, gentlemen, is this really the response to what is happening in Sri Lanka? The actions of the Bodu Bala Sena, and the complicity of the government in them are grotesque enough without the debate being reduced to puerile attacks on each other’s logic.
If you have a voice that can be heard and that has gravitas, and you both have the great privilege of this, why not turn it more fully toward more constructive dialogue? Why not ask that the rights of those who attended the vigil be defended? Countless women- because the body of the woman is so carelessly mangled in these cases- are facing vile, misogynistic abuse via Facebook from the supporters of the Bodu Bala Sena. These men direct all their perverted, violent fantasies at these girls who really do not have much in the way of legal succour. After all, the AG has instructed victims of social media attack to file complaints with the police. Yes, the very same police who put the kybosh in the vigil. Why not direct more energy into rousing the non-English speaking Buddhists to speak out against the Bodu Bala Sena with less articles in places like the Telegraph which are read by the diaspora and the English speakers? Yes, the handicap at the vigil was that there were many who attended who were ‘English speaking’- but that does not make them any less Sri Lankan, any less Buddhist, any less angry, or any less valid in their protesting attacks on minorities. Give out your voice in solidarity with each other, with those who will question the validity of the Bodu Bala Sena, and in solidarity with what must be a better tomorrow.
*Anupama Ranawana is a wishful academic and a practicing activist. She can be reached for comment via Twitter @MsAMR25
Hazardous milk powder sneaks into SL market
However, Chairman of Pelawatte Dairy Industries (Pvt) Ltd., and Mawbima Lanka Foundation, Ariyaseela Wickramanayake claimed these tainted milk powder products may have found their way to the Sri Lankan market. Among milk powder available in the … Read more on Nation on Sunday
(SLBC) Sri Lanka is to provide support to enhance legal section in Fiji Island. Visiting Fijian Chief Justice Anthony Harold met President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees this morning. At the discussion he pointed out that many Sri Lankan legal experts are engaged in state and private legal activities in the Fiji Island. President Mahinda Rajapaksa stressed that service of the Sri Lankan legal experts should be obtained in more efficient manner and pledged necessary support and advice to streamline legal activities in the Fiji island.
Southern China has its assembly plants. India has customer support centers, research laboratories and low-cost lawyers.
And Sri Lanka’s contribution to global outsourcing? Accountants — thousands of them, standing ready to crunch the world’s numbers.
As this tiny island nation staggers back from a bloody, decades-long civil war, one of its brightest business prospects was born from a surprising side effect of that conflict. Many Sri Lankans, for various reasons, studied accounting in such numbers during the war that this nation of about 20 million people now has an estimated 10,000 certified accountants.
An additional 30,000 students are currently enrolled in accounting programs, according to the Sri Lankan Institute of Chartered Accountants. While that ratio is lower than in developed economies like the United States, it is much greater than in Sri Lanka’s neighboring outsourcing giant, India.
Offices in Sri Lanka are doing financial work for some of the world’s biggest companies, including the international bank HSBC and the insurer Aviva. And it is not simply payroll and bookkeeping. The outsourced work includes derivatives pricing and risk management for money managers and hedge funds, stock research for investment banks and underwriting for insurance companies.
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.