Attitudinal change, and not constitutional bickering, is what we need for ethnic harmony
Posted on July 5th, 2012

by Sebastian Rasalingam

Please permit me to comment on the article published in your columns on 2 July 2012 by Mr. Hemantha Warnakulasuriya (HW), entitled “The systemic denial of Justice to Tamils in the judicial sphere”.

Mr HW recounts the harrowing story of 15 estate Tamils who had come to the capital in search of avenues of foreign employment, and hauled before the courts for lack of identifying documents on them.

This was a short time before February 2008, when an LTTE suicidee blew up the D. S. Senanayake schoolboy team at the Fort railway station. As I recount below, there were LTTE attacks on the capital virtually daily during that period.

Let me extract the gist of Mr HW’s account (full accounthttp://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/7649).

“The three suspects who did not have Identity card and were trying to say something to the Court had left their ID cards with the Job Agent along with their Passport. This is what they were trying to explain.

The Magistrate “¦ questioned every surety and “¦ a few who did not stand up to the scrutiny “¦ were remanded again. The men and women “¦ from Welimada were howling and crying. The Police Sergeant promptly arrested them “¦ charged with contempt of Court and fined.

I found that the main reason for this imbroglio was that no one understood what ..(they)..were trying to say, as there was no competent Mudaliyar. I was petrified by the horrendous justice imparted on those destitutes, who had come to Colombo in search of green pastures.”

Based on this event, Mr. HW pushes the point of view, expressed through the mouth of a “Tamil lawyer friend” that `there were many Tamils who were opposed to LTTE Terrorism and expected that with the implementation of the 13th Amendment, the problems of the Tamils could be solved to a great extent.

We believed that Rajiv Gandhi would ensure that JRJ would not renege on the undertaking given by him to India at the behest of the Sinhala Chauvinist’. His lawyer friend also seems to be a Tamil chauvinist as he claims that Tamils problems could be understood only by a Tamil “”‚ i.e., there is no point in talking further explaining all that to a Sinhalese. Far from “sinhala chauvinists” reneging anything, Premadasa even joined the LTTE against the Indian Force, and it was Premadasa who was reneged by the LTTE.

I believe that national reconciliation arises from the changing the attitudes of people, and not from constitutional arrangements. The 13th amendment, further compartmentalizing the Tamils into “Tamil speaking regions” etc., would make it even less conducive to each other learning their languages or cultures.

Even under the `13th plus’, Tamils who know no Sinhala would come to the capital for various needs and there is no guarantee that similar injustices, based on mutual suspicion would not arise.

In fact, the 13th plus compartmentalization would make such suspicion even more acute, and there would not even be a strong basis for providing any translation services what so ever. How can HW, a lawyer trained in analyzing the short-comings of a brief, make such unreasoned claims as he has done in his article?

I know estate Tamils and their problems very well. I married a “ƒ”¹…”low-caste’ estate-Tamil woman from Hatton in the 1950s. I myself come from the so-called “ƒ”¹…”lower caste strata’ of the Jaffna peninsula.

It is only when I and my wife moved to Colombo and began to live in the impoverished Malay street region that we at last understood the meaning of social justice; some degree of personal dignity was accorded to us by the Sinhalese people. Even in the 1950s, most “estate Tamils” knew enough Sinhalese to get by, while the Sinhalese and the Jaffna Tamils did not know each others language.

If the Tamils in court could not communicate with the police, why didn’t Mr HW, or his pro-Bono Junior lawyer help out? Could it be that neither of them, nor any one in their team knew Tamil? How can educated people be so unrespectful of the language and culture of their fellow citizens? If Sinhalese lawyers practicing in a city like Colombo with a vast population of Tamils and Muslims do not even know basic Tamil, is it surprising that Sinhalese policemen, coming from a lower level of education would be even less likely to know Tamil?

HW is implying that the Government should have ensured that there were enough cerrtfied translators every where.

I am sure Mr. HW knows that the LTTE threatened every Tamil police officer or public servant that they could get their hands on, demanding them to quit the service to enhance the LTTE claim of discrimination and the need for separation. In fact, in the early 1960s, the Ilanaki Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) launched court cases claiming that Tamil officers have no need to learn Sinhala.

Some of them went all the way up to the Privy council where they were thrown out. But all that, and the “Sathyagarahas” on the GalleFace Green set the stage for the ITAK to claim political blood in the hands of Sinhala hooligans who came out to manhandle them. They viewed such attacks with satisfaction. More recently, when the government sent police officers to be trained in Tamil Nadu, the TNA made representations and scuttled that effort. The lack of tamil services in the public service was largely engineered by the Tamil Eelamists themselves.

In fact, Mr. HW needs to understand that most Tamils living in Colombo in the 1960s WANTED to learn Sinhala and get on with it. I learned Sinhala in Colombo. Today, Tamil immigrants arriving in Poland or Norway learn those difficult languages in months and get employment.

In fact, Tamils can quite easily learn Sinhala, and indeed Sinhalese can learn Tamil equally easily too, as the two languages are very similar, and contain many common words derived from Sanskrit and other early languages. But there was tremendous political pressure launched by the ITAK that had already stated in 1949 that the `invaders’ (Moslems and Sinhalese) should be driven out of the `traditional homelands’.

It is this “ƒ”¹…”exclusive-Tamil’ mindset that still prevents the TNA from doing what is best for the Tamil people. This is why they even object to the Sinhalese visiting the North, with Messers Sritharan and Sampanthan talking of Eelam being their final objective even today.

If the estate Tamils discussed by Mr HW could come to Colombo with their families, manage to get about in the city, get their work done at passport offices and at the job-agents offices, it would seem that they could cope with Sinhala? The period in question was when the Foreign Minister Kadirgamar had been assassinated some months previously.

The NGO leaders and the foreign powers made token codemnations but demanded “ƒ”¹…”continued talks’ with the Tigers as if nothing had happened. On 3rd January 2008 the LTTE attacked a bus in Narahenpita. On the 8th January Claymore attcks killed Minister D. M.Dissanayake and his entrouge. On the 15th January the LTTE bombed the Buttala bound bus and killed 14 women, children and even some Tamils. On the 18th January the LTTE killed villagers in Tambalagamuwa.

On the 1st of February a time bomb exploded in the Dehiwala zoo. Thus there were attacks on a daily basis when this Estate-Tamil party of Mr. HW had encountered the harsh treatment in the hands of the police. And yet Mr. HW only mention the suicide attack at the Fort railway station on the 3rd of February, and failed to have registered the daily carnage that was going on.

Is it surprising that the police and the Magistrate were very suspicious? In the London underground (tube) suspicious people were simply shot at sight after 9/11 although nothing similar to what was happening in Colombo in 2008 occurred in London. In the USA and Canada people are detained indefinitely on a `security certificate’ under the national security act, with the reasons for detention not declared for `security reasons’.

What would have happened if a Muslim group had strayed into LTTE territory during that period? Their fate would not be a mere remand prison until suretees are found. They would have languished in the Puthukudiruppu LTTE prisons till May 2009.

I have watched with intense dismay, the deliberate destruction of our traditional humane values as will as the goodwill that existed in this country among the ethnic groups in the “ƒ”¹…”old days’. I have written many articles, (mainly in English, a few in Tamil) explaining my understanding of how it all happened. I will not repeat them
again here. Briefly, the Sinahlese and Tamil upper classes used the most deprived sectors to keep themselves in power.

Finally, it became a battle between the two groups, leading up to the Arasu doctrine of 1949 Maradana Manefesto, and the re-affirmation of Arasu as Eelam in Vaddukkoddai, 1976.

The solution to the problem will NOT occur via any type of constitutional tinkering that would create regional bosses who would in all likelihood be the most corrupt of the regional politicians.

It will take one more generation, and more inter-mingling of the people of the South and the North to bring about attitudinal changes that are needed. Such inter-mingling would removed the caste-ism of Tamil society and also the current ethnic polarization of Lankan society. The biggest danger to that is the enthroning and re-entrenchment of politicians like Sampanthan and Sritharan in their own exclusive power-bases, complete with police and land powers, and coated with the innocuous name of the poison pill call the “13th plus” administered to Sri Lanka by a rookie politician, viz., Rajeeve-Gandhi, without realizing the patent folly of his medicament.

28 Responses to “Attitudinal change, and not constitutional bickering, is what we need for ethnic harmony”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    WELL SAID SIR!

  2. AnuD Says:

    Title says every thing. The best way is to mix everybody. So, every body learns each other’s language.

  3. Hasthi Says:

    Sad that our so called ‘educated’ people in high positions did not understand the basic truth as well documneted here. To me it is not lack of understanding but the self interests that keep the two communities continuously doubting each other.

  4. lingamAndy Says:

    Today, Tamil immigrants arriving in Poland or Norway learn those difficult languages in months and get employment.In fact, Tamils can quite easily learn Sinhala, and indeed Sinhalese can learn Tamil equally easily too, as the two languages are very similar, and contain many common words derived from Sanskrit and other early languages.- Fully agrred ! Tamil can learn chinhalam with in 3 months (gurantee) .

    “13th plus” or even separate Thamil Eelam satisfy most of tamil (including me) but it won’t solve our hundred or thousand years Tamil Sinhala ethenic problm!

    Open Free Chinhala & Bhuddhis education centre in every coner ( Village , Town) of North & East , with in 6 month you get result !!!

    any way ……. Mr Sebastian Rasalingam- Nampunkal, Naalai pirakkum Thamil Eelam (Believe , Tomorrow We will get Tamil Eelam ) !

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    “Nampunkal, Naalai pirakkum Thamil Eelam”

    Poda mutta kaluthei.

    Thamileela makkal Naalai pirakkum Thamil Nai Punde!!

  6. lingamAndy Says:

    Lorenzo
    take it easy mate , that was joke with Rasalingam …………. We know very well another thousand years We tamil won’t get not even get a piece of land as Thamil eelam in Chinhal Lanka ( Hela Nation) !!!

    Naalai ( Tomorrow ) was fooling word , Why they LTTE/TNA never said Inru (Today) We will get Thamil eelam !
    they keep on say Naalai , than Naalai ( Tomorrow , Tomorrow)

    You Chinhala peoples are good human (like in your language modayas – very tolerance people in this planat ) !!!

    So you think Naalai pirakum Thamil Eelam or Not ? …………….
    Are We friend My chinhala sakotharaya ?

  7. AnuD Says:

    I think Tamil Tribalist politicians and Hindia block anything that SL govt does. That is the major problem Iunderstand when various comments and news are read.

    One way is people get organized leaving the govt behind.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    Well said, Mr Rasalingam ! Thank you for common sense writing.

    I would add that Eelam is an IDEA of happiness, peace, plenty and prosperity, just like Camelot, Valhalla, etc. This feeling exists in every human HEART and has nothing to do with politics or economics.

    As for Eelam on land, Tamil Nadu ought to be Eelam by now, as it is more than 90% Tamil folk only.

    Learning Tamil language by all is not necessary. English can be the link language. However, anyone who wants to learn Tamil is free to do so. No one is stopping them.

    Tamil leaders have led Tamil people to war with the rest in Sri Lanka. That is the nasty cracking point. Tamil leaders who have misled the Tamil people to terrorism and war have to reform or depart politics.

  9. lingamAndy Says:

    Fran Diaz
    Learning Tamil language by all is not necessary.( English can be the link language) Agreed not majority of Sinhalase never meet a Tamil person so not All sinhalese to learn Tamil is not necessary but should be given opportunity to learn Tamil & English to All sinhalise !
    But All Tamil should learn Sinhalese -ok should be given to learn Sinhalam & english !It will benefit Tamils as well as Sinhalese ( win win situation) !

    Ok just for 6 month open every coner of chinhalam & Bhuddish free education centre in North & East & Estate !

  10. lingamAndy Says:

    Also it is ideal English can be the link language- but We Third world country can not afford to reach all to English !
    but definitly We have enough people (eg : War finished 3 year so We can train enough Sinhala & Bhudiss teachers from 330,000 forces ).
    Also from former LTTE fighters (terrarist -Lorenzo to make him happy) We can get enough Tamil teachers !

    hope is this???

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Andy,

    I would like to leave the finer points on the ‘how to teach languages’ to the GoSL. In present times, with computers we can teach ourselves many things. May be GoSL should open many libraries all over Lanka with computer facilities made available too (under supervision).

  12. lingamAndy Says:

    Fran Diaz
    Good idea , Our mother lanka is not western wolrd these moden idea is not workable for majority people .

    Eg: after runaway from Srilanka 1983 , I gone back to Sri lanka 2010 , I decided to travel by CTB ( SLTB now) bus in Sinhala town & villages (I know myself mad idea but I was confident my dikka, dikka sinhalan & my Western country passport will help me), I come a cross a 7 or 8 years boy selling peanut ( packed in home) & suger can in middle of sinhala village , I bought few think from him & ask him vaththuru dikka ( water) He run into his house to brought me cool water ( in sand jab) & his mother follwed him , i ask him mother (kolla scoloka yan netha ) why he did not go to school , she said he stop going to school as he does not like it !!!!
    (similar incitent i came cross in Tamil area too )

    Fran all these Hambantoda economic growing to sky is not real !!!

    What else I can say …………..

  13. Fran Diaz Says:

    Andy,

    The development of the infrastructure such as roads, ports also have to happen. Foreign funds are given for such projects only. As for education needs, we have to generate our own funds from within Lanka.

    Lots of little boys (more than girls) like to do ‘big guy work’ like help running a family business or work in a garage rather than going to school. They feel comfortable and loved at home, and feel important when needed by their grown up family members. Out in the west, some families have started teaching their kids at home, with supervision. In some States in USA, classes are taught through various tv stations. Lanka has a long way to go in this regard. May be GoSL should look into computerised & tv classes and that way cut costs in education.

    One really good thing about going to school is that children make lasting friendships in schools. They get better adjusted and accustomed to living with different types of people. They make better balanced adults, accepting and understanding different types of personalities. They are able to adjust to their adult workplaces better too, whether in Lanka or outside.

  14. Lorenzo Says:

    Andy the Muliyawaikkal loser, you will get more Muliyawaikkals with your attitude.

    Can’t wait to hear the sweet music of multi barrel rocket launchers!!

  15. Dham Says:

    Andy Ayya,
    Can you please stop insulting both Sinhala and English by using proper language, before talking about your love to “anything” except Tamil culture. Don;t behave like a bloody racist PundeLingum.

    Look at you purposely written words.

    dikka, dikka sinhalan
    Sinhalam & english
    You Chinhala
    Chinhala peoples
    Bhudiss
    vaththuru dikka
    (like in your language modayas – very tolerance people in this planat )
    it won’t solve our hundred or thousand years Tamil Sinhala ethenic problm!

    Remember, it is people like you with very shortLingams created this proble.

  16. lingamAndy Says:

    Fran Diaz
    education needs, we have to generate – agreed

    Lorenzo – Can’t wait to hear the sweet music of multi barrel rocket launchers
    yes , our thesiya thalaivar also had dream last 33 years in similer way until 19/05/2009.
    good luck my chinhala sakotharam !

    Dham Anna
    I am not oxford or harverd educated man , sorry for my poor english !
    I agrred I love my culture more than anything else but please do not use bad language in world wide web !

  17. Dham Says:

    Andy Ayya,
    Now you say “chinhala sakotharam “. This has nothing to do with Oxford. You prefer to convert Sinhala to Demala.
    You are a LTTE escaped to Canada before 1983. Don’t cheat.

  18. lingamAndy Says:

    Dham
    You are a LTTE escaped to Canada before 1983. Don’t cheat- Yes I agrred , to whom I want cheat my Dham ayye !
    “chinhala sakotharam “. – I called Lorenzo not you !
    You three are so different peoples
    Fran Diaz- Real Bhuddist Chinhalar!
    Lorenzo – still he is in Nanthikatal celiberation !
    Dham – you confused with our Two Comminity who lived last 2500 in Motherlanka !
    Ana , Ayana ,
    Avanna , Ayana ,
    Ena, Eyana ,
    Una ,Uyana ,
    Sathotharam, Sokotharaya
    Akka, Akke
    Amma, Amme
    is it enough or You want more teaching ………..

    I am no converting to anythink already what we have……

    Om , shanthy , shanthy !!!!

  19. Leela Says:

    Andy,
    I feel sad for you have visited the wrong Sinhala town to understand us. Next time around give me a shout through this blog, and I shall arrange you to spend a day at the village hamlet where I live and on my account for you to experience the warmth of real Sinhala folks.
    Leela

  20. Lorenzo Says:

    Leela,

    No point.

    This bloody terrorist will make use of that to BOMB that place and blame on Chingalam chauvinism.

    Let the outsiders remain outsiders. Don’t bring them to SL.

  21. lingamAndy Says:

    thanks Leela, I hope & pray I will near future !
    Leela this is only one small incitent I meantion here not to insult my mother lanka or anythink else but to explin Mr Fran Diaz We need workable method for teaching Chinhalam & Bhussism to Tamils (ie tv , PC ,high tech , etc We are not ready yet ) but I may be totaly wrong Leela I do not know ….
    but in two week in Sri lanka I meet many ( almost 99% no i can say 100%) real Chinhala peoples ( from auto driver to deputy officers in Govt department ) , All the helps I got from these unknow people( I went for my personal matter) I can not forget in my life time !

    Lorenzo- Let the outsiders remain outsiders !
    This is the chinhala mentality only one reasion TNA able get almost 100% (majorty)Tamil votes !

  22. Lorenzo Says:

    Outsiders include you!

    Go look for Tamil homelands in Thalaivar’s backside.

    TNA has no power. They will be banned soon. Then they too will be outsiders.

  23. lingamAndy Says:

    Lorenzo Sakotharam you need Yoga !
    1) TNA always outsiders of Sri Lanka any way .
    2) TNA will be banned soon from Jayawarthanapuram parliment – That what their dream any way.
    3) Thesiya Thalaivar’s backside – is NW of Sri Lanka !
    4) include you(me) – Yes ,I lost mother Lanka citizenship to get Western passport !

    Om Shanthy , Oh Shanthy !!!

  24. Lorenzo Says:

    “Sri Lanka’s leadership should now go through each and every dual citizenship holding tamil or sinhalese and evaluate them for suitability to be Sri Lankans. This way those who want to critisize Sri Lanka while owning land and property in Sri Lanka can be got rid of for the benefit of Sri Lanka. Every tamil who protest overseas against Sri Lanka shold be photographed, video filmed, identified and kicked out of Sri Lanka. Every dual citizenship holding tamil should be made to re-take a pledge of alegiance to Sri Lankan flag and Sri Lanka. Refusal should be reason for immediate expulsion.”

  25. Lorenzo Says:

    These disgusting Tamil illegal immigrants should be DEPORTED ASAP.

    That will relieve the economy and give the locals enough resources to go by.

  26. Lorenzo Says:

    Tamil illegal immigrants who came ILLEGALLY to SL are now ILLEGALLY going to Australia.

    http://www.adaderana.lk/news.php?nid=18739

    This is today’s boat.

    Yesterday a similar boat of Tamil illegals were caught in Australia.

    Disgraceful. If they were no welcomed in SL initially, they will be going to Australia from India, no SL.

  27. lingamAndy Says:

    Lorenzo
    FYI, Yoga / Meditation very populer in western world now , How you every try !!!
    Om shanthy !!!

  28. Lorenzo Says:

    DEPORT ALL Tamil illegals and ELIMINATE all Tamil nationalists.

    That’s the ONLY way to lasting peace.

    I hope the govt will do this soon or suffer the consequences.

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