‘SINHALA TRIUMPHALISM’
Posted on June 2nd, 2016

KAMALIKA PIERIS

 The Government of Sri Lanka defeated the LTTE in Eelam war IV on 18th May 2009.  There was a spontaneous outpouring of joy  at the crushing defeat of the ‘invincible army’. People showed their joy island wide. The entire island erupted in jubilation.  On 22nd May an estimated 150,000 people converged on Colombo for a mass celebration. They came from all parts of the country, including remote villages. Senior citizens, toddlers and   disabled persons took part in the celebrations.

President Rajapakse held a banquet for the officers of the armed forces. Journalists who had reported on the war were felicitated by the Thunhela National Movement. There was all night pirit at Sri Lanka embassy in Moscow, to invoke blessings on President, government, citizens and the war heroes. Monks were conducted to the venue in a colorful perahera.

The victory celebrations had started well before the war ended in May 2009.  The public watched the war closely on the website run by the Defence ministry. When Kilinochchi, the headquarters of the LTTE fell on 2nd January, the website received 13 million hits within a few hours, the highest number of hits ever received by a locally hosted website. The public knew the importance of Kilinochchi.There were firecrackers throughout the country. The loudest crackers I heard at my home were for Kilinochchi.

Three days later, citizens across the country hoisted national flags and observed two minutes silence for the fallen heroes of Kilinochchi. A large crowd including Buddhist monks, gathered as the entrance to Parliament to praise the security forces for taking Kilinochchi. In Akuressa town, they celebrated with kiribath made of 500 kilos of rice.

In Nuwara Eliya they gathered in the town, chanted slogans praising the soldiers, let off a 150 meter line of fire crackers and listened to the Maha sangha at the Post Office. In all state schools pupils observed two minutes silence.  In Kandy, teachers and pupils went in procession along Dalada veediya and gathered before the Dalada Maligawa. Academic and non academic staff of University of Peradeniya observed two minutes silence. Unichela garment factory workers at Pannala   sang the national anthem and observed two minutes silence for Kilinochchi.

Durand Appuhamy observed that the victory celebrations in May 2009 were spontaneous.  The sense of liberation and gratitude was so overwhelming that it needed spontaneous celebrations, with dansalas and kiribath at street parties, he said. It was an instinctive appreciation of the work of the armed forces. Why should one restrain such joy?  Why cannot people give vent to their emotions in a positive way? he asked.  N.A. de S Amaratunga said Sinhala nationalism has a history of self preservation rather than aggression.  It is this sense of nationalism that is on display in the celebrations, ‘resisting successfully everything that Tami separatism could throw at it locally and internationally’.

Sinharaja Tammita Delgoda says one of the most strking things about Eelam War IV was the chorus of derision and condemnation in which the operation was conducted. No other fighting force had faced this kind of ridicule during a campaign. Bogollagama noted that the war was fought in an unhelpful and hostile background.  The army was winning, but it was publicly ridiculed by a section of the political elite.  But this did not deter the armed forces. They were determined to win.

Certain sections of the media  supported Eelam. They said that LTTE could not be militarily defeated, the army could not hold liberated areas, and the ‘international community’ would not allow the government to defeat the LTTE. The media protested when INGOs, NGOs, and UN agencies were asked to leave LTTE held territory and alleged that the Sri Lanka Air Force had used cluster ammunition and had targeted civilians including schools.  ‘It was a shock to all that the LTTE was defeated on its own territory,’ said Shenali Waduge. The Eelam war was categorized as an unwinnable war.  It was always the Sri Lanka government that had to offer compromises, the LTTE got away with countless crimes.

The victory celebrations  in 2009 and after were criticised as ‘triumphalism’. Kumar David titled his weekly essay ‘Sinhala nationalism’s triumphal moment.’’  Sri Lanka was asked not to engage in triumphalism. Those opposing Tamil separatism pointed out that the Eelamists had also shown ‘triumphalism’ whenever the LTTE won. Eelamists were upset about Sinhala ‘triumphalism’ because the LTTE lost.  ‘In their despair, they are arbitrarily pinning on the Sinhalese a non-existent ‘triumphalism’. ‘Victory Day’ celebrations were also  opposed by those who supported the LTTE. They questioned the annual Victory Parade. Anti-Eelamists replied that  Russia  annually celebrates its victory over Nazi Germany. No one speaks of triumphalism.  World War II  Victory Day was  still celebrated in Europe.

Tamil National Alliance wanted the Tamils to mourn Victory day, May 17, 2010 as a day of catastrophe.”  Dayan Jayatilleke said that victory day was just that, it was ‘victory day’. It cannot be also a day of mourning. It commemorates a historically significant triumph over a cruel foe. The heroism the armed forces and our citizens who did not capitulate to terrorism and separatism. It celebrates the spirit of resistance of our nation. It salutes the memory of the service of the soldier sailors and airmen and their families. It was a glorious day of liberation and reunification of a divide state. It must stand alone.

Nalin de Silva observed that Eelam War IV was undoubtedly a great victory. The government of a small country had defeated a terrorist outfit supported and sponsored by the western powers. Col. C.R.Hariharan said LTTE has been outwitted, out-gunned and out-strategized by the Sri Lanka army, this must be accepted. Dayan Jayatilleke said that by defeating the Tigers so completely and utterly, Sri Lanka and its armed forces made a contribution to regional and global security. ‘We have got precious little thanks for making the region a little safer’ he added. Gotabhaya Rajapakse suggested that other countries facing terrorism should follow Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka had shown that terrorism could be defeated.

The  victory  against Eelam   was due also to  the  patriotism of the general public. Two minor employees of Sri Lanka Ports Authority detected two frogmen carrying explosives near the Jaya container Terminal. They alerted authorities and prevented an attack on Colombo Port in 1996. .

Christians, Moors, Malays and Tamils  played a very valuable role in the victory. Roshan Goonetilleke, Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force was a staunch Christian. Rear Admiral A.H.M. Razeek, Northern Naval area commander  was appointed  Chief of staff in 2000. The Pabbatha operation of 1990 was under Captain Razeek. He had recommended the Pabbatha crew for a very high gallantry medal. The commanding officer of Deep Penetration intelligence Unit at Batticaloa was Captain S. H. Nilam supported by Major T. N. Muthalif. Helicopter squadron no 4 included Faizal Cazeer.

Parama Veera Vibhushana, the highest gallantry award was awarded posthumously to Colonel Fazly Laphir. He has been the commanding officer of the first Special Forces regiment and played a major role in developing this regiment from the original Combat Tracker team. He was killed in 1996 during a rescue mission he led when Mullaitivu army base was attacked by LTTE. An auditorium at Diyatalawa Military Academy was named after Colonel Fazly Laphir.

Lt.   Travis Sinniah, who is Tamil  and Christian, was instrumental in the detection of the LTTE boat Kadalpura in 1987. It had 18 LTTE leaders on board and was proceeding towards India. Trawler was fitted with radar, modern equipment and a range of weapons. When challenged they got ready to shoot. They were not going to stop.  Sinniah and leading seaman Prematilleke leaped into the boat, commandeered it and brought it back to Kankesanturai.

Travis Sinniah is described as one of the finest officers produced by the Sri Lanka Navy. He led the naval task force responsible for hunting down and blasting all but one of the seven LTTE arms carrying ships, an achievement which was crucial to the country’s victory. Sinniah retired after the war, with the rank of Commodore.  Sinniah’s valuable contribution is now in the public domain.

8 Responses to “‘SINHALA TRIUMPHALISM’”

  1. Chula Rajapakse Says:

    Excerpt from Address of Dr. Chula Rajapakse MNZM Spokesperson USLA, at 2016 May 19th Ranaviru comommeration in Tawa Wellington,:

    Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that it s our sacred duty to counter any allegation that would detract from the honor and glory of the Ranaviru ‘s achievements.

    Another such allegation that comes to mind is the Tiger diaspora response to the spontaneous joyous celebrations that erupted seven years ago to the day today when the news of the end of the war was announced. Immediately , the Tiger Diaspora was denigrating this spontaneous expression as Triumphalism , causing aspersions on the outcome of the Ranaviru’ s sacrifices. The media too lapped this up with glee.

    The absurdity and fallacy of this claim was driven home to me strongly, when a few months ago I viewed the film, Royal night out. This showed similar spontaneous joyous celebrations in the streets of London by some half a million people who similarly took to the streets to celebrate , on the day the Second World War ended. A day when Buckingham palace took the unprecedented step of allowing Princess Elizabeth the present queen, and sister Margaret to mingle with these celebrating people un announced.

    No one accused them of Triumphalism or of being offensive to the defeated Germans. But when little Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans do the same this is triumphalism! It is a pity that neither media nor politician was there to point this out then. But we know now, how to respond if the charge resurfaces.

  2. Ananda-USA Says:

    Absolutely Chula!

    Double Standards by Neocolonialists!

    What is good for the British Goose
    Is denied the Sri Lankan Gander!

    As the Native Americans say
    White man speaks with Forked Tounge!

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    Oops! ” tongue” not “tounge”

    Many a slip between the cup and the lip ………

  4. ranjit Says:

    It was a day of triumph which nobody can forget. As a Sinhalese and a Srilankan I am very, very proud about the whole thing. Most happiest day in my life was the day we eliminated the most ruthless barbarian murderer Prabakaran. The full credit should go to then President Mahinda Rajapaksa, if not for his brave decisions we wouldn’t have won the war. All past Presidents failed to take bold decisiond what MR took. They were simply playng ball games with Prabakaran to satisfy Indian parasites and the white west. Our war heroes stood firm for their leaders call and they did what no other armed forces have done beating and crushing the most dreadful terrorist organization in the world.
    We should not allow any Indian or white people to come back again and meddle with our affiars or destroy our freedom. If anthing happens now It is because of the two weak leaders we have today. Peopke should rally unitedly to save our homeland from these coup plotters. We must identify our enemies and tell them to go and mind their own business same like MR did if not we have to cry again soon.

  5. Ananda-USA Says:

    Patriotic people urged to unite against govt. as talks on MR’s security fail
    Island.lk
    June 2, 2016, 10:12 pm

    By Shamindra Ferdinando

    Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka and National Freedom Front MP Jayantha Samaraweera yesterday warned of dire consequences unless patriotic forces compelled the ruling UNP-SLFP coalition to reverse its agenda meant to appease Western powers and the government of India.

    They urged members of all political parties represented in parliament as well as the masses to be vigilant of the Yahapalana leadership’s strategy. Ven Nalaka thera and MP Samaraweera declared that they represented the interests of all those who recognized the heavy sacrifices made by the armed forces during the war.

    The army alone lost nearly 24,000 officers and men during the conflict. Of them nearly 6,000 died during the final eelam war IV (Aug 2006-May 2009).

    Addressing the media at Sammbuddaloka viharaya on Lotus Road, Ven. Nalaka thera alleged that a group of officers and men of the country’s premier intelligence service, the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) had been in remand custody on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations pertaining to the disappearance of media personality Prageeth Ekneligoda on the eve of January 26, 2010 presidential polls. Of the nine personnel, one was recently given bail by the Homagama Magistrate.

    The monk alleged that some police officers and the Attorney General’s Department had facilitated the government project meant to humiliate those who had served the country at the risk of their lives. The monk alleged that a particular police officer who had been spearheading the investigation into Ekneligoda’s disappearance recently received a special promotion to the rank of SP. The monk accused the government of giving special favoured treatment to selected officers to do its dirty work.

    An irate Ven Nalaka thera said that contrary to government propaganda, the G7 (US, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan) had invited President Maithripala Sirisena for its recently concluded summit in Japan because he toed the Western line. On the other hand, former President Mahinda Rajapaksa had earned the wrath of Western powers and India for not dancing to their tune.

    Ven. Nalaka thera said that those who couldn’t bear the eradication of the LTTE were working overtime to bring in a Constitution at the expense of the unitary character of the country. The thera declared that what the separatist LTTE couldn’t achieve through its conventional military power was now being offered on a platter. Members of the Joint Opposition as well as those representing other political parties should oppose the move.

    A country re-united at a tremendous cost in terms of men and material couldn’t be divided again on ethnic lines, Ven Nalaka thera said, warning that political turmoil caused by separatist project was inimical to all communities. “We are not talking only on behalf of Sinhalese,” the monk declared.

    Ven. Nalaka thera bitterly complained about President Maithripala Sirisena refusal to allow his predecessor to retain elite army commando bodyguards. The monk said that the threat faced by former President Rajapaksa couldn’t be compared with challenges experienced by others. Whatever his critics might say, the former President ensured political leadership to sustain the war effort in spite of heavy Western and Indian pressure.

    The monk revealed that a special discussion held with President Maithripala Sirisena on Wednesday had failed to convince the President to ensure army protection to his predecessor. Ven. Nalaka thera had been in the delegation involved in talks with the President. The President had emphasized that he couldn’t take a unilateral decision regarding the former President’s security and the National Security Council was needed to be consulted. The President had further argued that the army weren’t involved in providing security to political leaders in any part of the world, hence the decision to follow the international standards, the monk said.

    MP Samaraweera alleged that the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government had allowed the UN a free hand in Sri Lanka. Referring to a recent visit undertaken by two UN representatives, the MP claimed that they had been given free access to security forces bases and police stations both in former operational areas as well as south. No other country would have given such access to the international community, the MP said.

  6. anura seneviratna Says:

    Grateful thanks to Kamalika for your flowing description of the events past.

    Why triumph not for the Sinhela Nation? Is it only loss and suffering for us? WHY? Something radically and congenitally wrong with those who think so! Can it be jealousy of the Sinhela Nation, although tiny in mass compared with other nations and countries? Of course, those who know mostly of pre-history as well as 2,500 history we were world’s unique nation, so ever trying hard to suppress. Doesn’t it not demonstrate their utter unrefined humanity though dressed in human frame?

  7. RohanJay Says:

    Triumphalism is completely natural, after a long devastating war after much suffering and hardship by millions of people against a seemingly evil invincible enemy. Sinhalese Triumphalism was fully justified. Sinhalese people and others fully deserved their moment in the sun after long years of pain and suffering.
    Look at the Triumphalism in the western world by millions of people in western cities such as London, New York, Melbourne, Toronto, Paris etc in 1945. Google the pictures of those cities at the end of second world war as proof. As spontaneous joy by millions of people on the streets of those western cities. At the total defeat of Nazi Germany and the Axis powers in 1945 after a long global war. Similarly Sinhala Triumphalism in May 2009 was completely natural and expected and justified. Sometimes though you wonder, if such great victories many years after the event, if it was worth it. Did all those servicemen and women sacrifice their lives in vein, so that future generations may live in peace, prosperity, stability and freedom. Wether it was WWII in 1945 or the victory in Sri lanka in 2009.

  8. SA Kumar Says:

    Sinhalese Triumphalism was fully justified- Fully agreed also you have to agreed Tamil is defeatism.

    machang why this kolaveri ??? do we need Eelam war V?

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