Impact of Ranil’s apology
Posted on December 15th, 2016

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his regret for the Jaffna Library’s destruction in 1982. Though many misconstrued his expressed regret as an apology, very few commended him for it. This is because the list of wrongs done during the UNP tenures, especially since the 1977 Constitution, is long. Instead, he is buried under an avalanche of reminders of all these depravities, demanding he apologies for these as well. However, the fact is, he did not apologize for the Jaffna Library either.
He was speaking on the third reading stage debate on Budget 2017. The Joint Opposition (JO) heckled him for his remarks that the government had created employment opportunities and restored industrial development in the North. In reaction, he expressed his regret thus, and challenged the JO to do the same.

His challenging the JO and even sharing his sentiments with them is curious. JO is not the injured party. For that matter, neither is the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). The injured party is the Jaffna community.

Injured party

Expressing regret to a party who is not the injured party is not an apology. Furthermore, he failed to explain the circumstances that led to the destruction, the challenges the government failed to prevent it or pledge to prevent a recurrence.
The previous administration (the present JO), took decisive steps to end the terrors that culminated in setting fire to the Jaffna Library and other greater atrocities. Until then, the most victimized was the Northern community than any other in Sri Lanka. In these events, the TNA played a role uglier than any other political party. Therefore, Wickremesinghe should have challenged the TNA and not the JO.

Tendering an apology should not be taken lightly, nor done on impulse. While apologizing for a wrong is the decent thing to do, the other party too must be gracious – especially on national matters. If the apology was used as fodder to browbeat the apologizing party, further exacerbating the circumstances that led to the unfortunate incident in the first place, then conditions are not ripe for an apology.

Strange silence

Whether the Jaffna community is ready to accept the apology is questionable. As a community, they are strangely silent. A signature of a free society is its cacophony of voices, expressing a wide spectrum of opinions. This is not heard from the North. The only voice heard is hailing separatism, portraying terrorists as heroes and political prisoners, when the world has proscribed them as terrorists. It is obvious that the power is back in the hands of the separatists, and the Northern man is again their hostage.

Even in the best of circumstances, merits and demerits of apologizing must be carefully weighed. US President Obama drew much flak from political analysts for his stance that US must atone for its past policies. American leadership is not a popularity contest and Obama should not seek to improve his personal ratings across the world by undermining the world’s superpower, argues Dr. Nile Gardiner, Director Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom and Morgan Roach, Researchers at the Douglas and Sarah Allison Centre for Foreign and National Security Policy.

Obama apologized on behalf of his country to US allies, but not without regard to these concerns. The underlining theme of his apologies is, “we made some mistakes, but we are not bad guys; our intention had always been good, we just messed up a bit on the execution; we’ve had good relations before and there’s nothing to stop us resuming it.”

Obamas top 10 apologies

This is evidenced in the list ‘Obama’s top 10 apologies’ by Dr. Gardiner and Roach:
To France and Europe, speech at Strasbourg, France, 3 April 2009: “America has shown arrogance.”
To the Muslim world, interview with Al Arabiya, 27 January 2009: “We have not been perfect.”
To the Summit of the Americas, opening ceremony address, 17 April 2009: “At times we sought to dictate our terms.”
At the G-20 Summit of World Leaders, London, 2 April 2009: “Some restoration of America’s standing in the world.”
For the War on Terror, speech at the National Archives, Washington DC, 21 May 2009: “We went off course.”
For Guantanamo in France, at Strasbourg speech: “Sacrificing your values.”

Before the Turkish Parliament, 6 April 2009: “Our own darker periods in our history.”
For US policy towards the Americas, 16 April 2009: “The US has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbours.”
For the mistakes of CIA, CIA Headquarters, 20 April 2009: “Potentially we’ve made some mistakes.”
For Guantanamo in Washington, 21 May 2009: “Instead of serving as a tool to counter terrorism, it is a rallying cry for our enemies.”

Expert opinion

Before his visit to Hiroshima, the expert opinion was that he must not apologize for the atomic bombing. This, despite the horrific consequences Hiroshima still experiences with high rates of cancer, abnormal births and other birth defects. This, despite the good relations America is currently enjoying with Japan.
Dr. Peter Kuznick, Professor of History, Director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at American University and co-author of The Untold History of the United States says, “Imagine, if the Nazi Germany had developed the bomb first and used it. The world would look upon the atomic bomb, nuclear weapons with appropriate horror. We’d say that this is the kind of weapon that a fascist country would use.”

America is the only country to have used atomic bombs and to continue to threaten the world with nuclear weapons. Yet, their stance is that the victimized party was ‘smacked’ for its own good. Even in Hiroshima, Obama’s message was, “It was tragic in some ways, but at least it ended the war.” True, it did save half a million American lives, but what about the Japanese lives, asks Dr. Kuznick.

Flimsy apology

It is because of this justification that the world hears a flimsy apology, without seeing a change in the US foreign policy. America continues to “show arrogance” as they interfere with our Constitution, “seek to dictate terms” as they insist on war crime tribunals against our military, and “go off course” as they support terrorism to manipulate legitimate governments perceived unfriendly as seen during the final days of our war against terrorism and now in Aleppo. Indeed, if a nation needs to be ‘smacked’ again, the US would not hesitate to do so. One would be mistaken to think that Wickremesinghe’s regret would pressurize the TNA to return the sentiment. TNA had never apologized for anything. They had inflicted much injury to our country, but cleverly had always maintained to be the injured party.

Their portrayal of the 1983 riots is a case in point. They have milked it for maximum effect, without once acknowledging the true facts of the case.

Prof. Gerald Peiris writes to this writer, “I happen to be an eye-witness to a few incidents of violence in both Colombo as well as Kandy. I think the overwhelming majority of all ethnic groups were horrified at what was happening. Those who had the capacity to avert or mitigate did what they could. Many remained impotent.

Refugee camp

“For instance, the rioting broke out in Kandy on the third day. Immediately, the university campus was converted to a refugee camp, and at the initiative of the academic community here, with the help of key government officers (senior officers of the Sinha Regiment stationed in Kandy, Frank de Silva – the DIG Central Province and quite a few of whom were Peradeniya alumnae), thousands of likely victims were transported to the halls of residence, provided with security and other basic needs.”
His answer to whether this was an attack against the Tamils by the Sinhalese was, “The violence was perpetuated by mobs that consisted almost entirely of Sinhalese (although numerically the mobs could not have totalled up to more than a microscopic segment of the Sinhalese population), and the victims were almost entirely those of the two Tamil ethnic groups living in some of the Sinhalese-majority areas of the island.


“Here in Kandy (Colombo Street and Primrose Road) where I saw some of the rioting, the main impulse appeared to be looting. The eastern end of Colombo Street – a locality of retail trade outlets in textile and clothing, jewellery, domestic utensils, electronic goods, and hardware; owned for the most part by ‘Indian’ Tamils and Muslims – (most of which had evidently been emptied the previous night by their owners in anticipation of the riots) the sole objective appeared to be looting whatever was left.

“There were large crowds which made it difficult to separate the rioters from the onlookers and those who happened to be in town for various legitimate reasons. Two or three buildings were damaged by arson. At some point the fire brigade arrived, but I did not see any policemen. According to Frank, no riot-related deaths were reported from Kandy.

“Primrose Road – one of the residential localities of mixed ethnicity – was invaded by a mob of about 50 early morning of the third day. Two Tamil residences were looted, and fittings and furniture smashed, prior to the entire structures being burnt down. One of the families – an old woman, her ageing servant and their ageing German Shepherd – were hiding in our home. The other house, a few doors next, the residence of the owner of a confectionery factory in Kandy, was burnt down.

“Our (i.e. Dr. Ismail – a popular General Practitioner, Rev. Harold Fernando of the Methodist Church, Dissanayake the president of a Dyaka Sabhaā in a temple close-by, and I) efforts to persuade the crowd to abandon their attack, and to contact the fire brigade and the Police were unsuccessful. Frank, when phoned, told me “You can’t even imagine what I have in my hands, but I’ll try to do something”.


“The mob consisted of formidable looking ruffians, some in a state of drunkenness (or pretended to be so), and a whole lot of youth (including a few from “respectable” homes in our neighbourhood who were enjoying the fun) – all of them Sinhalese, as far as I was able to identify. Some of them were armed with metal rods and clubs; there were a few swords and make-shift weapons, and petrol cans. There were no personal injuries among the victims in both these riot scenes. The mob departed at about 10.30 or 11.

“My cousin, who knows Colombo very well says that in the low-income areas of Colombo North some Muslims participated in the attacks on Tamils. That part of the city and the Slave Island area are localities where underworld gangs operate. The gangs (some of whom are of mixed ethnicity) usually have links with politicians and the Police.
“A somewhat different perspective is provided by the following extracts from a monograph authored by two Peradeniya sociologists (Silva and Athukorala, 1991: 124-125):

“The watta dwellers, now comprising a bulk of the population of Colombo and other cities (sic.), appear to have been in the forefront of the riots (anti-Tamil violence of July 1983). Despite the fact that the ethnic minorities themselves are widely present within the wattas, sections of the urban poor made use of this opportunity to attack segments of the upper classes. To a large extent, the urban riots of July 1983 may be seen as an occasion where the gang activities of the watta-dwellers spread over most cities of Sri Lanka. (However) one important but hitherto neglected aspect of the riots was the attitude of the rioters towards their fellow watta-dwellers who were Tamils.

Along ethnic lines

The view that during the riots the watta-dwellers turned against themselves along ethnic lines is simply not supported by our data. There were no attacks whatsoever on the Tamil watta-dwellers in any of the four communities studied. On the contrary, the rioters came forward to give protection to the fellow watta-dwellers who were Tamils where the latter were under some kind of threat from those in the surrounding communities”.

The account exposes the falsehood separatists like TNA maintain to justify their dishonorable intentions. There is little doubt how they will interpret the regret Wickremesinghe so carelessly slipped out. Our tragedy is, we are so busy brandishing lists of wrongdoings of our political rivals to embarrass and gain a political mileage, we do not have time for our real enemies.
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6 Responses to “Impact of Ranil’s apology”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    A NEEDLESS apology.

    Tamils burnt it. Singhalese rebuilt it.
    Tamils use it. Singhalese cannot even go into it.

    A symbol of stupidity.

  2. Christie Says:

    Jaffna Library was burnt by the Indian Colonial Parasites themselves like what they did in 1983. The Library was set on fire by them and the blame was put on Sinhalese. The reason was simple, to portray to the world that Sinhalese are backward people and to get the Western Sympathy in particular the Baptist Church of the USA and elsewhere. Some of the documents burned were about the work of the Baptists Missionaries of Jaffna and other parts of the island, Indian Empire, Indian colonial parasites, Socialist Churches , Western Churches used this incident to show the world that Sinhalese are chauvinists and are uncivilized.

    They did the same in 1983. Gunned down unarmed officers and then burned there own shops and houses. It was timed to coincide with the World Council of Churches which Baptists are a part of and was held in Canada. How did hundreds of thousands of Indian colonial parasites end up in Canada as refugees?

    What Ranil say is what Indian Empire want to say.

    Has anyone taken up the responsibility for the Killing os Sinhalese in Jaffna in 1958?

  3. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    100,000+ Sinhalese lives in the prolonged (by the catholic-run UNPatriotic party) war
    60,000+ Sinhalese lives jvp uprising (catholic-run UNPatriotic dragged it for over 6 years in order to kill and kill)
    Millennium City intelligence officers sent to catholic tigers of tamil drealam bullet
    5585 billion daylight robbery with his catholic buddy arjun maha horandran
    Batalande Camp torture and killing Buddhist jvpers (eyes were gorged out while alive from detainees)
    2005 CFA giving half the country to his catholic buddy hitler mala paharan on a plate.

    The above are only some of his mega crimes against the Sinhalese, Sri Lanka and Buddhism. Colourful CV!
    Does he even thinking of an apology? No chance in hell. Why? Because they were all against the Sinhalese, Sri
    Lanka and Buddhism. So in his twisted mind, he owes no apology. Nobody even mentioned why he doesn’t apologise
    for his much bigger crimes. What is bigger Sinhala modayas?
    A library or
    100,000+ Sinhalese lives
    60,000+ Sinhalese lives
    5585 billion rupees
    Batalande torture and killing
    Millennium city murders.
    Sinhala modayas can’t work it out. So they never ask Wadakaya for an apology. Wadakaya knows he is never
    going to give it. Why? Because who cares about the door mat, the Sinhalese, in Sri Lanka? He knows it.

  4. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Buddhist jvp burnt in tyres, eyes gorged out while alive. 60,000+ gone.
    Half the country to his catholic buddy hitler mala paharan was given by traitor chief die hard catholic token Buddhist
    Batalande Wadakaya pol pot [email protected] wickramaSinhalakiller. Just click on these links to see why the catholic-run
    UNPatriotic party didn’t want to stop the war. Why stop it? When the catholic tigers of tamil drealam was doing the
    sterling work killing mainly Sinhalese and destroying Buddhism in the north and the east. Luckily for the UNPatriotic
    party Sinhala modayas haven’t understood it to date! 100,000+ gone.

  5. S.Gonsal Says:

    The previous administration (the present JO), took decisive steps to end the terrors that culminated in setting fire to the Jaffna Library and other greater atrocities. Until then, the most victimized was the Northern community than any other in Sri Lanka. In these events, the TNA played a role uglier than any other political party. Therefore, Wickremesinghe should have challenged the TNA and not the JO.
    -very true. HE should have apologised to parents of Batalande victims, for which he himself is directly responsible.

  6. Christie Says:

    The Batalanda victims were also Indian and Indian colonial parasite sponsored terrorists. The so called JVP victims of Batalanda killed innocent Sinhalese not Indian colonial parasites.

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