Winds of change in Jaffna
Posted on April 6th, 2014

By Dr Noel Nadesan Courtesy COLOMBO_TELEGRAPH

 The war radicalized Jaffna and it was inevitable that we could never again return to the good old Jaffna we knew.  There were signs of a new Jaffna emerging imperceptibly even during the war years. I have visited Jaffna 13 times in the last five years.  But nothing signified the change better than  the international symbol I saw in Jaffna when I visited the place last in January 2014. For the first time ever I saw one of the best international symbols in the heart of Jaffna. It was the face of the bearded Colonel of Kentucky Fried Chicken. It was a giant leap for Jaffna to abandon the traditional  “porichci koli”  and go for KFC. To me it was like our people abandoning betel and opting for chewing gum. This to me is the ultimate symbol of Jaffna breaking away from the feudal past and arriving at last in the 21st century.

Talking of climate change one cannot feel it better than in Sri Lanka. We travelled from north to south and east to west. There is a palpable change that you can feel and see. Just not the roads but the attitude and the new spirit that is visible in the faces.

One bright evening, as I was walking with my wife on a narrow street in Wellawatta, Colombo, ”” a predominantly Tamil suburb ”  I received a mobile call from a young widow in Kilinochchi. I have sponsored her for last three years. I was to meet her on the way to Jaffna. She rang to regret that she would not able to meet us at Kilinochchi as she had begun teaching voluntarily at a local school. She thanked me profusely for the financial help given to raise her family.  She informed me that her children were doing well at school. I was happy to learn of her progress which I took as a general indicator of the progress made by the twelve other widows who had lost their husbands during the war.  I have been helping them for the last three years.

The widow who spoke to me was Lakshmi.  She has two children below the age of ten.  Just a year after the war I saw her in a rebuilt house, which was built with government assistance, but did not have any door. She did not have any money to install a door. Nor was any financial support forthcoming.  With the backing  of a local friend I was able to organize some help to  her family and I was happy to learn that the domestic situation had improved.

In March 2009, I went to Colombo with likeminded 25 expatriate Tamils from Europe and North America on the invitation of the government. It was a critical time when the war had reached a climactic moment. The goal was to engage the Lankan government to help the Tamil people who were taken by LTTE as human shields for the protection of LTTE leaders.  We were in discussions for two days with some of the key government officials, though our mission was a failure due to LTTE obstructions and obstinacy. We were not involved in the politics of the time. We were continuously engaged with the government in rehabilitation of post-war situation such us regularly visiting refugee camps and submitting our observations to the government for improvement.

There are many important facts that need to be put on record.

Thirty years of terror and violence perpetrated by LTTE were brought to an end by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Whether we like him or not we have to concede to this hard fact.The  ending of a war is a defining moment which opens up new possibilities.  This is not a small achievement. Ending a war proved to be as difficult as waging a war. The frustrated Tamil Diaspora who financed Prabhakaran‘s  futile war decided  to pursue the war through other means. They went on the war path from abroad. They decided to fight from the safe shores.

After financing all the violations of international humanitarian law committed by LTTE , they became human rights champions overnight.   It was the war in which more Tamils were killed by our “liberators” than all others put together.

Considering the suffering, the deaths and destruction caused by the futile war of Prabhaharan and his “liberators” the attempt of Diaspora to carry on as if nothing has changed is as futile as the war. We have to recognise the gains of peace if we are to move forward. Politics can cloud the issues and make us easily forget the bloody past.

LTTE was not a small outfit. It claimed that it had defeated the world’s fourth largest army when it forced the IPKF out of Sri Lanka. LTTE claimed that it had a state with an army, navy and air force not only to threaten the Government of Sri Lanka but even to kill Indian prime minister as well. But in the end they lost everything. During the last days of war, knowing the inevitable military defeat, the LTTE took cover behind 400, 000 Tamil civilians hoping  to raise an international cry. Taking cover behind unarmed civilians is a shameful act not worthy of our so-called heroes. It was a cowardly act. The “liberators” gave cyanide pills to the brain-washed youth and they took cover behind the civilians. They shot the Tamil civilians running away from them.  In addition, they killed all the captured army personnel. The Sri Lankan army not only defeated LTTE but also rescued all these captured people. Of the displaced people 95% were able to resettle within three years and infrastructures were rebuilt in the Northern Province. Almost 95 % of active LTTE cadres were rehabilitated and released in the society.

I agree there are a few areas that still need remedial measures that could speed up the process of reconciliation among the communities. But our political Tamil leadership is bankrupt. For this the entire blame is to borne by LTTE for eliminating not only political leaders but also potential social leaders in last thirty years.

What we need is a new leadership that can read the sign of KFC in Jaffna and move with the times. Going back to confrontational politics can only lead us tortuously to political turmoil again. What we need is a pragmatic leadership that brings relief to the war-weary people of the north and east. Our people cannot live on a diet of politics forever. We need economics to raise our heads from the depths of misery. We have to postpone politics for the time being. With politics we will be forced to spill only blood. With economics we can move forward to regain what we lost during the past 30 years in useless politics.

The choice before us is simple: it’s either politics or economics. If we opt for politics  we are going back to Eelam which we lost. If we opt for economics we have a chance of regaining the future we lost in May 2009 Historical examples justify this. Take, for instance, the case of the Germans. If after losing the war, had they returned Hitler’s fascist politics where would Germany be today? It was because the pragmatic Germans opted for economics and buried their politics for good they were able to rise from the ashes of defeat.

The Germans and the Japanese won all what they lost in their futile wars. We can do better than them if we can get our politics right.

11 Responses to “Winds of change in Jaffna”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    It should come within Tamilians. Now we have KFC eating Tamil racists in Jaffna.

    Germans did NOT just give up Nazism. They were arrested, tortured, punished, even starved, HUNG, DENAZIFIED, DIVIDED for 44 years and robbed their resources by the WINNERS. That’s how Germans came to the RIGHT path.

    Without DENAZIFICATION of the Tamilian community there will be NO progress.

    DO DENAZIFICATION of Tamils now. Economics can wait.

  2. Senevirath Says:

    tamils are misguided by the Christian church RAYAPPU JOSEPH is another Prabhakaran

    Lorenzo knows the truth. Tamils should be spread out all over sri lanka. settle down more Sinhalese in the north

  3. Nanda Says:

    Now the Tamil fools are waiting for big Colonel, fooled by a prostitute, to come and give the Eelam.
    They voted for a General in hope of the Colonel.
    Jaffna is a symbol of illogical hopes.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    As a Tamil from Jaffna let me tell you HOW to SEPERATE a good Tamil from a bad/cunning Tamil.

    Not everyone can be a SL patriot. One has to PASS 3 filters to become a patriot. BUT there are USEFUL IDIOTS among all 4 levels.

    Please ALWAYS use this decision tree.

    Do you think SL army did war crimes in 2009 ——>YES —–> Tamil Tiger Terrorist. You DESERVE it.
    ..|
    ..|
    .NO
    ..|
    ..|
    .\ /
    Do you want a UNITARY SL ——>NO —–> Tamil SEPARATIST coward. Curse you.
    ..|
    ..|
    .YES
    ..|
    ..|
    .\ /
    Do you support settling Sinhalese in north in LARGE numbers ——>NO —–> Tamil RACIST. Go BACK to TN.
    ..|
    ..|
    .YES
    ..|
    ..|
    .\ /
    You are a TRUE SL patriot! May there be MORE like you.

  5. Nanda Says:

    “We need economics to raise our heads from the depths of misery. We have to postpone politics for the time being. With politics we will be forced to spill only blood. With economics we can move forward to regain what we lost during the past 30 years in useless politics.”

    Good , but POSTPONE until Tamils catch up and then restart ?

    Before the RESTART our fools have to make sure settling Sinhalese in north in LARGE numbers !
    At the moment zero plan for that, spending valuable time on useless(useful to Tamils) PC elections and answering Nazi Peeilley.

  6. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    One of the methods of de radicalization of the Jaffna peninsula is an aggressive campaign to convert those who are at the bottom rung of the Tamil Hindu society to Buddhism. Introduce Buddhism not by simply transferring Sinhalese Buddhists into that area but cut the fundamental caste system by converting Tamil Dalits in Sri Lanka to the Buddhist Doctrine. Even if a few accept that alone would pave the way for others and be a tangible victory.

  7. Nanda Says:

    Bw,
    Good idea but do a significant number of dalits exist ? I doubt.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    No “Dalits” in north SL. No Tamil is discriminated today to send them away from Hinduism. So it doesn’t work.

    But STATE SPONSORED Buddhism spreading operations in the north targeting ALL Tamilians is a good thing.

    In the past SL rulers allowed kovils ONLY WITHIN Buddhist temples. This way Tamilians were forced to FIRST WORSHIP, etc. the Buddhist temple and then creep into the SMALL Hindu kovils within the temple. As time went by the next generations became Buddhist.

    (My theory).

    A super massive Buddhist temple should be constructed to overlook the Nallur kovil. These are the things that Tamils look for. The GRAND SHOW it is they pay attention.

    e.g. The kovil with the LONGEST and THICKEST lingam is the most popular.

  9. Nanda Says:

    Lorenzo,
    I think proper Buddhism should be taught rather than Grand Temples.
    Attraction of Buddhism is not temples but 4 noble truth and the doctrine.

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    Nanda,

    Absolutely!

    But FIRST we have to ATTRACT Tamils for it. Tamils get attracted to GRAND EMPTY things. Some form of OUTWARD attraction is ESSENTIAL for the initial interest.

    e.g. Hindusim has NO in depth philosophy. It is ALL about GRAND alien worship.

    You have to FIRST find common ground to make an initial connection.

  11. NAK Says:

    Dr.Nadesan,
    This truth needs to be told to the western world. The US,UK UNHRC etc are behaving as if none of these are taking place.
    Please make sure you send a copy of this to Ms.Michelle Sisson who is so determined to achieve reconciliation in Sri Lanka by questionable means. It is also important that this be told by a Tamil because otherwise they simply dismiss calling it government propaganda.
    The diaspora would never have taken up the war against the government of Sri Lanka if not for the prodding and support from the US. Robert O’ Blake with Hillary Clinton amply demonstrated that and UK moron and Canadian harper are simply poodles of the US doing what they are told to do.
    The Banning of LTTE fronts and its supporters is a good move but appears as a reaction to the Geneva vote.
    From now on at least, Sri Lanka must take proactive stance and let the LTTE diaspora asses know in no uncertain terms that their ambitions will not see the light of day within Sri Lanka.

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