Tale of Tamils tortured in totalitarian Terroristan of Jaffna
Posted on June 30th, 2012

 H. L. D. Mahindapala

 Beneath the serene veneer of the haunting landscape of Jaffna lurked the perennial political culture of unrelenting Tamil  violence and oppression that deprived a segment of  its disadvantaged human beings  — euphemistically labelled as “minorities” by the Vellahla overlords  — the basic right to walk the earth with dignity. The denial of the basic rights to the Tamils is an immoral tale of Jaffna politics hidden by an overwhelming propaganda to blame “the Sinhala governments” for all their systemic failures. This culture of violence and oppression dominated all three phases of the history of Jaffna beginning with Sangkili, the first mass murderer of Tamils, second by the fascist regime of the Vellahlas oppressing the low-castes, and third by the unmitigated and naked terror of Prabhakaran.  It is a culture that mutated from phase to phase,  under different ideologies,  and evolved into one destructive force that climaxed in the Vadukoddai Resolution of 1976 — the beginning of the bloody road to Nandikadal.

 Initially, this violent cult was a subterranean force that surfaced from time to time and turned inward to oppress, devour and destroy its denizens. But after the Vadukoddai Resolution which endorsed a military solution, abandoning the non-violent democratic process, this cult of violence crossed the peninsular borders to target the external bugbear (the Sinhalese) they perceived to be a threat to their universe. Under the reign of this perennial political culture it can be verily averred that the mass of men in Jaffna lived lives of quiet desperation (Thoreau) with their tyrannical leaders oppressing with force the disadvantaged  Tamil slaves, low-castes and submissive populace purely to retain their power, privileges and positions.

 After subjecting their people to humiliating submission under the Hindu casteist ideology the  Vellahlas switched over to communalism  as casteism was running out of steam under the democratic forces introduced by the Donoughmore  Commission in 1930. Casteism and communalism were two political ideologies wielded, one after the other, by the Vellahla elite  (1) to maintain their supremacy at all times in Jaffna and,  (2) with some extra mobilisation of violence, to dictate of their political agenda to the rest of the island. The Vadukoddai Resolution was designed to achieve both. It was  also aimed at destroying through military means the Sinhalese, their closest and intimate neighbour with whom they had shared the country from the beginning. In the thirties, however, the northern leadership, under the command of G. G. Ponnambalam, broke the bonds of peaceful co-existence that served both communities for centuries and took the tur decisively to pursue mono-ethnic extremism, first through provocative hate propaganda and then through Vadukoddai violence. But the violence of the Vadukoddians boomeranged and  pushed them to the deep end where they drowned  in their own blood rising with the tide in Nandikadal.

 The sudden turn towards irreversible communalism in the thirties has its roots in political culture of Jaffna. It was a culture nurtured by the Jaffna leadership to preserve their casteist privileges and power of feudal times and colonial perks and positions in the public service. Jaffna was a region obsessed with the “insane fury” of preserving and protecting the power of the Vellahla elite though they talked stridently and glibly about the rights and the dignity of the Tamils. This rhetoric about the rights and the dignity of the Tamils never included the basic human rights of the non-Vellahla low-castes to walk with dignity in the midst of the Vellahlas. On the contrary,  the rights they claimed was the right to maintain their casteist superiority which gave them the legitimacy to suppress and oppress their low-caste victims ruthlessly. The rights and the dignity they fought were of the priviligentsia in the English-educated Vellahla caste/class.  

 Under their hegemony Jaffna became the last fortress of feudal fanaticism where the upper-caste Vellahlas could rule the roost without external interventions. Behind the cadjan curtain they fought in every forum to retain their casteist power and privileges. Casteism was embedded in their minds as a necessary force to maintain their supremacy that a special trip was made by Sir. Ponnambalam Arunachalam to London to argue the case for the preservation of the caste system. Jaffna consistently looked to the outside world to retain their power within the borders of the peninsula. They resented and resisted any intrusions or interventions in their conservative way of life.

 The dead hand of the past was lying heavily on its back paralysing, and also misleading, the mass of Jaffnaites who have had no choice in any alternative politics determined by liberalism, socialism, pluralism or multi-culturalism. In feudal times the Vellahla elite legitimized their rule under the Hindu ideology with which they claimed the divine right to be on top of everyone and using force whenever it was necessary to impose their political will. In colonial times they retained their legitimacy for slavery under the Tesawalamai. It was only in the dying days of the British raj that they switched to communalism as a defensive mechanism. They offered only two choices to the Jaffna electorate: 1. mono-ethnic extremism that escalated from the thirties under G. G. Ponnambalam’s leadership and 2. extremism of mono-ethnic politics encapsulated in the Vadukoddai Resolution of 1976 which deliberately decided to go down the path of a military solution.

 The tragic trajectory of the history of Jaffna ran across the post-independence period, leaping from one ethnic extreme to the other until, weighed down by the burdens of its own “insane fury” and mythohistory, it sank in the bloodied waters of Nandikadal. It can be argued that if by any chance the Sri Lankan forces failed to advance as far as Nandikadal in May 2009 Jaffna would have imploded from within, like the Soviet Union, because Prabhakaran could not have sustained his neo-fascist one-man rule by erecting neat and manicured graveyards for the mounting corpses that he laid low. The fascist fury of Jaffna, rooted in its political culture, knew no limits. The essence of the fascist culture was moulded by the ruthless Vellahlas who rose to power under the Dutch after defeating the rival caste Madapallis and consecrated by Arumuka Navalar as a substitute to the Brahmins of India who refused to cross the seas to Sri Lanka. (More of this later). The pervasive power of the Vellahlas and their fascist culture comprehensively blanketed Jaffna society with no room left for any rival competitor to even cast their shadow on the political landscape.

 A critical analysis of the Jaffna political culture dominated by the Vellahlas will reveal that it was  marked distinctly by the following characteristics that define fascism: 1. adherence to a rigid definition of “purity” inherent in its casteist ideology; 2.the hierarchical order that comes out of “purity” calibrating the superior from the inferior; 3. the creation of an external bugbear/enemy as a raision d’etre for its own survival and to divert attention from to its own internal infirmities; 4.re-writing of a mythohistory to suit the political needs, particularly to target the “other”;5. the fixation on the ideology of superiority downgrading all others, particularly the non-Vellahla Tamils; 6. worshipping of a cult figure as a superhero (example: Hitler) ; 7. the penetration of the casteist supremacists into every nook and corner of the community under the Vellahla regime and by the Tiger cadres under Prabhakaran; 8. the overall social control of the behaviour of every individual, from entry into temples and schools to funerary rituals; 9. demanding absolute conformity without dissent; 10. dependency on violence to maintain and impose its ideology; 11. emphasis on militarism; 12. contempt of any liberal/democratic norms; 13. parading of flags, songs and other symbols; 14. anti-intellectualism leading to exclusion (the Hoole brothers in academia )  or elimination of intellectuals (Ragini Thiranagama); 15. glorification of a supremacist order/state (run by Vellahlas and Prabhakaran) at the cost of individualism; 16. promoting populist racism as a bond to unite divided forces and to demand total obedience; 17. abandoning democratic norms to embrace militaristic authoritarianism (TULF at Vadukoddai like the way Hitler dumped the Weimar constitution which Dr. N. M. Perera praised in his thesis) as the final and/or instant solution; 18. intolerance; 19. ethno-centric nationalism and 20. the “insane fury” of the political forces seeking supremacy.

 Practically every aspect of the peninsular political culture reflects one or the other facet of fascism defined above. The Jaffna political culture, evolving through Sangkili and Vellahla phases to Prabhakaran, was immersed in these fascist characteristics. What was marketed as Tamil “nationalism” was this fascist culture. The likeness of Tamil “nationalism” to the Nazi nationalism in Germany is  remarkable. Hitler blended nationalism with fascism to make one indistinguishable from the other. So did Prabhakaran. All Nazis took an oath of allegiance to Hitler. So did the blind followers of Prabhakaran without any other higher ideal. Hitler’s insane fury identified the Jews as the blood-sucking bugbear of Germany. Prabhakaran and his hero-worshipping followers, particularly those in the Tamil diaspora, demonized the Sinhalese. The indiscriminate killings of gypsies, the physically impaired, the incurably sick, the non-Aryans, dissidents, intellectuals and mass murders of Hitler were repeated by Prabhakaran who basked in the glory of his power to kill. They both calculated their success on the number of those killed and destroyed. Hitler’s last days were defended by kids recruited from the streets. So did Prabhakaran though he began his recruitment of under-aged children earlier to fill his depleted cadres. Hitler never spared those who dared to defect. Prabhakaran shot men, women and children who dared to cross over to safe havens. Prabhakaran dragged the Jaffna Tamils to Nandikadal exactly the way Hitler dragged Germany to ruin. Both could have saved lives if they surrendered at the time they knew that their days were numbered. Prabhakaran is the ultimate symbol of the fascist culture of Jaffna. There isn’t a more triumphant example of fascism in Sri Lanka other than Prabhakaran. But he is not alone in this. He combines in him all the preceding forces of Vellahla fascism that gave birth to him. A political monster of this proportions could come only from the fascist womb of Jaffna.

 Though a few Tamil analysts have categorized the LTTE as fascistic (Prof.. Rajang Hole, head of the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) is one of them) the Vellahlas have escaped this label by disguising themselves as non-violent Gandhians, or as “moderates”, or as “nationalists” etc. However, the proclivity of Jaffna to lean towards fascism is demonstrated in the visits of G. G. Ponnambalam in the thirties to Germany with his right-wing British allies. It was a time when nationalism was raging in Asia and Europe. But nationalism had its own political colouration in each country. In Asia the two big waves of nationalism were led by non-violent Gandhi in India and Mao Tse-tung in China whose movement was characterised as a Marxist revolution. In Afro-Asia Marxism was merely an ideological tool to resist colonial masters. But basically they were all nationalist movements. Mao’s movement was aimed primarily at overthrowing the Japanese in Manchuria and the Western collaborators of Chiang-Kai -shek exploiting China. Marxism was an additional and viable ideological force of the time to energize the nationalist fervour. Both Mao and Ho-Chi Min of Vietnam were first and foremost nationalists fighting the imperialists armed with the ideological tool of Marxism.

 So was it in Sri Lanka. In the thirties Philip Gunawardena, the father of Sri Lankan Marxism, N. M. Perera, Colvin R. de Silva, were returnees from Western universities  who brought home the ideological baggage of Marxism with them. Though they wore the cloak of Marxism they were at heart nationalists and that is how the people at the grassroot level perceived them. Their anti-British activities — particularly their jail break from the colonial Bogambara prisons, Kandy, during the World War II (April 7, 1942) and subsequent flight to India — fired the imagination of the masses more than the abstract theories of Marxism. There is, however, a striking difference between the southern returnees from the West and that of the north. The southerners came back fired with the Marxist ideology to create a society of equals (sama samajya). But Ponnambalam returned from the West obsessed with the racist  ideology of Hitler, the right-wing fascist who rose to power by propagating elitism and purity of the Aryan race, denouncing the Jews. So what echoed in Nawalapitiya and the race riots that were sparked by the anti-Sinhala hate speech, denouncing the Mahavamsa, were repetitions of the Nazi racism that was setting fire to Europe. The Sinhala returnees in the south imported Marxism and Ponnambalam imported fascism which suited the innate culture of fascism in Jaffna.(See comments by Nalliah Thyabaran in: http://www.lakbimanews.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5783:-by-hld-mahindapala-qponnambalam-rips-apart-centuries-of-communal-harmonyq&catid=46:columns&Itemid=50).

 The violence and the oppression of the Tamil people in all phases of its history  — pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial — question the competence and the capacity of the Jaffna leadership to wield power for the good of the Tamils. The violence inherent in the casteist and communal ideologies have thrown the Tamil people into a hell hole of suffering caused primarily by their “stupid leaders” (Prof. Kumar David). They even crafted and passed the Vadukoddai Resolution legitimizing violence without realizing that it would boomerang on them. It is the children born out of the Vadukoddai Resolution that turned the guns on their political fathers who passed it. S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, the father of separatism, escaped the death at the hands of Prabhakaran, because he died before his Vadukoddai Resolution could find the bullets to fire the guns which he endorsed  as  necessary  tools to break up Sri Lanka. However, his deputy, Appapilli Amirthalingam, and partners in the crime of passing the Vadukoddai Resolution fell as victims of the Vadukoddai violence.

It is this cult of excessive and indiscriminate violence that  turned the tide against the Tamils, particularly after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. It is this cult of violence that compelled the international community to ban the Tamils as  terrorists. It is this Tamil violence that forced Radhika Coomaraswamy, a Tamil from Jaffna, to name and shame the Tamil leader, Prabhakaran, for his cruelty to Tamil children. The violence endorsed in the Vadukoddai Resolution seemed to be a good idea at the time to those obsessed with “the insane fury” of anti-Sinhala racism. It was, of course, their strength and weakness. It succeeded for a while but in the end they did not know when to stop it. The criminal leadership of the Tamils dragged the Tamils all the way Nandikadal  even when  they knew that they were doomed to  fail. If they had the slightest compassion for the Tamil people the Tamil leadership would never have allowed the Vadukoddai War to go as far as Nandikadal, particularly when the international community was urging them to lay down arms. But the cult of violence was ingrained in their minds that not even the Tamil Christian clerics had the guts to intervene on behalf of the suffering Tamil victims. On the contrary, they were proposing grandiosely to theologize as if God was on their side exclusively .

 When Fr. S. J. Emmanuel, the former Vicar of Jaffna, proclaimed that he was working on a new praise-the Lord-and-pass-the-ammunition theology he  meant that he was willing to turn a blind eye to the victims of the Vadukoddai violence. When under the authority of Bishop Joseph Ryappah of Mannar  the Catholic priests grabbed the image of Holy Mary and ran into the territory controlled by the Tigers the Tamil wing of the Catholic Church was endorsing uninhibitedly the violence of their hero Prabhakaran. The most disappointing shock was when Bishop S. Jebanesan, the co-author of The Bible Trembled, a brilliant bit of scholarship analysing Jaffna society from a Christian angle, told Prof. Ratnajeevan Hoole that he was planning a theological thesis on the plight of the Tamils as if the Tamils of Jaffna were the only children of God and not the other Christians in Sri Lanka.  In their own way each one of them was conforming to the political culture of violence that determined their history.  

 In direct and indirect ways they were all a part of the violent juggernaut of Vadukoddai violence driven by Prabhakaran. It is  the possibility of this cult of violence rearing its head again, with the consent and advice of  the political criminals jockeying for power in the North and the East, that is currently inhibiting progress for reconciliation. Considering their criminal past — the TNA was a part of this criminal bandwagon of Prabhakaran — it is necessary to ask whether the Tamil leadership can handle police powers and land powers without going back to their fascist past. Pillaiyan is a terrifying example. He is restrained only because he doesn’t have the police and the land powers. Besides, what is there to prevent the secular political priests in the TNA following  in the footsteps of Bishop Ryappah and run away with police powers to create another Prabhakaranistan?

 The living links  in the chain of Jaffna  history, running from one phase to another, have exposed them as vile villains of violence against their own people. The essential thrust of R. Sampanthan’s speech at Batticoloa is  in  the appeal to the Tamils to be patient  till they get organized to go down that path of  Vadukoddai  Resolution again. The ultimate goal as defined by him is to achieve the goal locked in the Vadukoddai Resolution. Which means separatism. He knows from  his past experience that separatism and violence are inseparable.  So is another round of Vadukoddai violence the only solution TNA has to offer their people who are struggling  to recover from an exhausting 33-year-old war ? Is the TNA promising a return to Vadukoddai to save the people or to retain their parliamentary privileges, perks and protection given by “the Sinhala-government” they never fail to blame?

 As a part of the on-going healing process it is vital at this stage for the Sinhalese to erect a monument to the long suffering Jaffna Tamils who have been forced endure every conceivable humiliation under their so-called Tamil  leaders and “liberators”. The Sinhalese must do it because the Tamils will not do it for them. The criminal conduct of Tamils against Tamils is unpardonable. It is their guilt that makes their racist politicians in Christian garb  to  grab the holy images and run into Tamil Terroristan where children, the sick and the old were thrown into a futile war. Some say that it is curse in the tears of Tamil mothers that drowned the Tamil Tigers in the waters of Nandikadal.

 Anyway, if history is any guide,  handing over police and land powers to the province councils — not only in the north but to the political thugs in the south as well — should be abandoned to protect the security and liberty of all Sri Lankans. Right now there are eight centres of corruption, mismanagement, lawlessness and disorder without police and land powers. Do we need a ninth centre of the same kind with police and land powers? Can we trust the Tamils linked to Tamil criminal gangs to use 13+ powers vested in them to act any differently from that of their fascist ancestors, simply because they pose as democrats now?  

 To be continued 

8 Responses to “Tale of Tamils tortured in totalitarian Terroristan of Jaffna”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    This is why it is highly dangerous to share power with Tamils. High caste Tamils will grab all the powers and use low caste Tamils as cannon fodder.

    All this devolution madness started in 1957 after the Prevention of Social Disabilities act that tried to stop severe caste discrimination. Had the Chelva and the crowd assumed power over other Tamils, that would have created an African tribal enclave here.

    Tamils are not ready for 13A let alone 13P.

  2. AnuD Says:

    Good history lessons Mr. Mahindapala. I think these articles should be read by those who can not speak English, should be available in a book format to be kept in libraries as well as in the Sinhala newspaper.

    Anyway, Sri Lanka is now very much like Saudi Arabia when you here five time a day Muslims are preaching from Loud speakers, Look like Vatican and people are christian fanatics when you see big churches and when you here once every year one youngster get nailed onto a cross as rural phillipinos are doing one of theirs festivals and, then look like Tamilnadu as Tamil music is played in the radio after every Sinhala song. Finally do not forget the influence of polluted English culture, language and music.

    SLBC is also spreading MITHYA-DRUSHTi in the morning saying that it is SATHYA-AVALOKAYANA.

    What ever left over from the Sinhala – Buddhist culture of Sri Lanka is destroyed by the FOOLISH and RAPID (without any planning or thinking just for political reasons) development brought about by politicians.

    Then it is said that all these, It is already happening in Japan as they are trying to use robots to cover for humans, that once the birthrate falls below 1% that particular society will disappear. Now the society is reaching over 55 or over 65 very fast.

    All these things are happening in Sri Lanka too.

  3. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE ENLIGHTEN ME ON WHAT HAPPENED ON THE 28th JUNE 2012, AT THE SUPREME COURT LITIGATION WITH THE TNA ? I DID NOT SEE ANY NEWS ON THAT SUBJECT IN THE NEWS MEDIA. THANKS.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    SW,

    Jayantha asked court to allow him 2 weeks to amend the petition because he filed it on April 27th. On May 28th TNA added a few more “evidence”. Jayantha wanted to include them. Supreme court gave him 2 months and 2 weeks until September 14th!!

    As you know the provincial election in eastern province will be held on September 7th. That means TNA survives to contest the election!

    Opportunity to handle TNA PEACEFULLY is slipping away from us.

  5. Fran Diaz Says:

    Whilst our sympathies are with the low caste Tamil people of Jaffna, when Sinhala people or Others go to solve these Jaffna Tamil caste problems, the people who go to help become the ‘fall guys’ and blame gets pasted on them as joint enemies of the Tamil people ! This cannot be as the so called ‘Sinhala govt.’ has given ALL Tamil people free education & health care, etc. Sinhala people cannot solve 3,000 yr old caste problems. It is best that all Tamil people live among others in Lanka to dilute ancient caste problems and let all live in some relative peace.

    The best solution is to make the North & East as multi ethnic as possible.

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    “The best solution is to make the North & East as multi ethnic as possible.”

    Until then, pit high caste Tamils against low caste Tamils and help the low caste ones.

  7. myopinion24 Says:

    After labouring through 16 paragraphs of rehash (excuse me if I have got the count wrong) I must congratulate you on arriving at a valid set of questions and issues. Yes I think almost all Sri Lankans would agree that the issues identified in your last para are challenges that need to be overcome.

  8. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Nationalism is the cancer of human race. It doesn’t make nationalism right any more than slavery or genocide or oppression based on gender, all of which have been rationalized by their practitioners. We have learned to swim as fish and fly as birds but we have not yet learned to walk as brothers and sisters. The real welfare of human race is to share love, peace, and prosper.

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