A ‘shot on the ear’ gone wrong
Posted on August 26th, 2018

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

The Office of National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), has launched a radio drama series with the objective of contributing ‘towards a positive dialogue in the society.’ It is unclear whether five out of a 15 episode series is titled, ‘Kanata Parak’ or if the 15-episode series is titled ‘Kanata Parak’ altogether, as the brief ONUR announcement states both.

Some of the titles as Chief Sanga Nayaka of the Southern Province Venerable Omalpe Sobitha Thera has noted, are a distortion of Buddhist phrases.

It is the venerable Thera’s opinion that the intent is to insult Buddhism. The title ‘Nihon Sepalebewa’, is a distortion of ‘Nivan Sepa Labewa’. While the Buddhist phrase refers to enlightenment of the mind, the meaning of the distorted title is ‘May you get Nihon’s comfort’. The other title is ‘Tharuwan Saranai’, which is a distortion of ‘Theruwan Saranai’.

While the original phrase is invoking the blessings of the Buddha, the Buddhist philosophy and the Buddha Sasanaya, the distorted version means the blessings of the stars.

However, the title ‘Nirwasthran Paraman Sukhan’, which the venerable Thera translates as ‘Nudity is the great policy’, is no longer listed on the ONUR homepage, which was created on 14 August and updated four days later.

Chaired by Chandrika

The venerable Thera further points out, that ONUR is a State organization, chaired by former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga (CBK). It is thus worth revisiting the memorial speech CBK delivered at the SJV Chelvanayakam memorial lecture in April 2015.

She stated that it was after de-colonization that problems arose between the three major communities that had lived in harmony and peace for many centuries…the majority community in Sri Lanka established itself within the political power structures, claiming their rights in the economical, social and cultural spheres, setting up laws, institutions and practices to guarantee their privileges to the exclusion of the ‘other’ that are the minorities. The ruling elite comprised mainly of the majority community, arrogated an unequal share of opportunities to itself while excluding the others.”

She claimed it was this apportioning the best and most of the public benefits to the Sinhalese majority community that led to the frustration and anger among the minority communities who had, during the colonial administration, enjoyed many privileges.

In her view, Tamil leaders had done no wrong, but only their best to resolve. However, it was torpedoed by a small minority of the elite ruling class politicians and clergy and others closely linked to them”. She assures The masses, in their vast majority were not committed to extremist political views of any type”.

Yet, she admitted a Gallup poll conducted in 1994 when she assumed office showed that only 23 per cent of Sinhalese opted for a negotiated settlement of the conflict”.

Therefore extensive programmes, with the message of peace and shared societies” were taken to the entire country, through seminars, workshops, street theatre and the media, used widely.

At the end of two years, another survey showed that the number of people opting not only for peace, but this time also for devolution of power had increased to 68 per cent.”

She went on to claim that for the first time in the history of independent Sri Lanka, my Government offered a comprehensive solution to the minorities’ problem”.

As a result, it was possible to demonstrate to the Tamil civilians that there could exist, Sri Lankan Governments with honest intensions of including the Tamils and all other citizens equitably in the development process. Empirical evidence showed that the numbers of youth joining LTTE armies were somewhat reduced, since we adopted these policies.

However, it was during CBK’s tenure that Operation Jaya Sikurui was launched on 13 May 1997. The objective was to link Vavuniya and Kilinochchi to clear the land supply route to the Jaffna Peninsula disrupted by terrorists. It was the largest military operation undertaken at the time.

It took the military two years to capture the vast areas of land and to force the terrorists out of Kilinochchi. However, in 1999, within days the LTTE’s brutal counter-attack reversed the past two years’ successes. Major General Kamal Gunaratne’s Road to Nandikadaal deals with this disgraceful episode in detail.

In the memorial lecture, CBK goes on to state that economic development alone could not succeed in creating a society where all our people would feel they were fairly and equitably included.

For this, it was required to share political power which we the Sinhalese had jealously guarded for ourselves since Independence, marginalizing all others not only in practice but also by law, by means of various legal enactments of Constitutions and laws.

As a solution she spoke of, a new Constitution, containing extensive devolution of power to the minorities, together with various other measures adopted to guarantee their rights. This draft Constitution also contained measures to abolish the Executive Presidency which accords excessive power to the President.”

The Tamil National Alliance, the political proxy of the LTTE, as a main stakeholder in this new Constitution-making has failed to attract former LTTE cadres to their efforts. Thus their rejection of the TNA is significant. Instead, they are on a different stance.

On 25 April 2017, hundreds of male and female ex-cadres carried placards and chanted slogans as they went in procession from the depot junction to the Kilinochchi District Secretariat to hand over the petition to be absorbed by the Civil Defence Force to work at military managed agricultural farms and pre-schools.

They alleged that if these were handed over to the TNA-dominated Northern Provincial Council their livelihoods would be destroyed.
In June this year, the tearful farewell bided to Lt. Colonel Ratnapriya Bandula at Vishwamadu caught the media›s attention and astounded many. It is noteworthy, that the final fierce battles, during the war’s last stages were fought in this area.

Rehabilitated cadres

Instead of joining the TNA, the rehabilitated cadres have formed their own political party, Rehabilitated Tamil Liberation Tiger Party.

The party’s chairman Kandasamy Inbarasa claims that they have the membership of the 12,000 rehabilitated cadres. In a press briefing in June 2017 held in Sampur, Trincomalee (TNA leader R Sampanthan’s electorate), he accused the TNA of ignoring their issues. We believed in them and now have been deceived by them,” he stated.

At a recent press conference held in Colombo, they stated, After the war in 2009, a large number of LTTE cadres who were with Karuna Amman left the country.” Their weapons, exceeding 5,000 are with the Muslim extremist politicians, he alleged.

It is on that strength that Hizbullah and Bathiudeen are saying they will destroy mosques to build kovils. Why is the Government silent? We have information that these weapons are in areas like Kattankudy, Kinniya and Muttur. This is a problem not only to the Tamils, but also to the Sinhalese.”

Any minister can state that there should be a resurgence of the LTTE. But, as former LTTE members, only we know that there will never be resurgence. We willingly or unwillingly joined the LTTE. However, if war broke out tomorrow, in this country, the entire 12,000 of us will fight to protect this country.

We don’t need a separate country. But, the Tamil politicians do not agree to it. What they want is another confrontation.”

It is interesting that it was a United National Party minister who called for LTTE resurgence. UNP is another key driver in the new Constitution-making process. The views of the ex-LTTE, which were once claimed to be the sole voice of the Tamil community, are now falling on deaf ears.

A statement that Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekara made with regard to the existing penal code on the punishment meted out to traitors was taken out of context.

The misrepresentation received wide and undue publicity. He, however, stood his ground and refused to back down despite the barrage of ill-informed criticism. His repeated explanations too fell on deaf ears.

Venerable Omalpe SobithaThera has sounded that ‘Kanata Parak’ is insulting to Buddhism. It thus behoves on the artistes and their audiences to reject it.

If the ONUR’s intentions are indeed sincere, then they must ensue such insults are never repeated from their good office. Furthermore, they need to study in detail the emerging and all voices, even if it disagrees with their agenda.

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