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PROUD TO BE SINHALA - A POINT OF VIEW OF A SINHALA PERSON ABOUT JULY 13, 1983, RIOTS

Forrest Gump

We often wonder what the Tamils people would have done in the place of the Sinhala people, if they had been subjugated to 500 years of foreign rule, where their language, religion and culture were made 'pariah' and battered, and minorities favored.

We read with interest the article from the Uthayam (Australia) reprinted in the Lanka Academic of July 18, 2002. The author of this article has tried to write about the riots of July 13, 1983, in a dramatic manner giving authenticity to the article by quoting from foreign journals. But the writer has omitted the MOST IMPORTANT hidden factor : The writer has NOT touched on the CAUSE of the riots in Sri Lanka.

The cause of the riots of 1983 was due to the demand for a separate state for Tamils only, which started as far back as the 1920's. At the time of independence in 1948 in Sri Lanka, a request was made to Lord Soulbury for a separate state for Tamils. It was rejected after study by him as there was no just cause for a separate state.

After independence, the Tamils dominated the Civil Service, the wholesale markets and the professional fields since the Sinhalese had refused to be lackeys to the British and did not go to the Missionary schools set up by them. This dominance slowly began to erode as the Sinhala majority began to exercise their DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS.

The Tamils found this very unbearable. They hatched every conceivable plan to create a separate state. There was cheat and deceit by Tamils at every level. People such as Prof. Mylvaganam O.B.E., used to openly favor Tamil students at examinations at the University. It was a well known fact that Tamil students would put the secret symbol on the exam papers which was the Om sign and that was enough to tell the Tamil examiners to give them high marks.

In government departments which had heads as Tamils they started filling up all positions with Tamils. At one point the C.G.R, the Electricity Board, and the Income Tax department were almost 100% Tamils. All this while the Sinhalese were without jobs in their own country.

WHAT REALLY HAPPENED DURING JULY 1983, IN RETROSPECT : Was that the Jayawardene Government which was re-building the country after Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike's sorry experiment with the Marxists, made the fatal mistake of tying in with US economics. This worried Russia very much, as this was the time of the cold war between US and USSR. Russia wanted India to stop this, as it was very likely that the Jayawardene Govt. would likely give Trincomalee as a base to US in return for economic favors.

RAW, the Indian intelligence agency advised India on how to deal with the order from Russia. Elections were pending in India, and the South Indian vote was important for Indira Gandhi (the then PM of India in 1983).

South Indian leadership at that time was on the side of the LTTE which was still a small armed group. Mrs. Gandhi allowed LTTE training camps to be set up in Tamil Nadu. Sri Lanka Tamils of Jaffna were after a separate state within Sri Lanka since the 1920's and this made all Tamils (in the eyes of the poorer sector of Sinhala people) enemies of the State. Having enjoyed a HUGE disproportionate slice of the job market, commodity market etc. during the British rule of Sri Lanka, all the Tamils wanted this state of affairs to continue.

They also felt marginalized regarding language. Under British rule, the language of the majority community, the Sinhala (approximately 72% at that time) was sadly neglected and made to feel a 'pariah language'. During Mr. SWRD Bandaranaike's time as PM, this was rectified. This made the Tamil people feel more marginalized.

The Jaffna Tamil customs and caste issues added to the tensions. Trouble started brewing in Jaffna and the government of JRJ found it very difficult to control the situation there. When 13 government soldiers were murdered in Jaffna by the LTTE, and their bodies brought to Colombo in July 1983, tensions broke loose and riots followed.

We do not condone the July 1983 riots. It was the style of those times, like in India, to settle unbearable political matters through riots. Sri Lankans imitated Indian politics in many ways, and rather unfortunately continue to do so.

The LTTE has over some 20 years of its existence killed and maimed thousands of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim civilians. The largest numbers killed are Sinhala people. The LTTE has managed to ruin the economy of Sri Lanka.

The LTTE has extracted enough revenge on behalf of the Tamils of Sri Lanka. It is time for sanity to prevail and all killing all over the island stop forever. It is time for a true democracy to be born to a united, undivided Sri Lanka. The LTTE carried out a policy of genocide against the Sinhalese and Muslims in east and north of Sri Lanka.

The unmitigated consistent cruelty with which the LTTE has operated makes it the most murderous terrorist group in the world which is what the US state department says. Can we ever trust the LTTE as a democratic party?

The author of the Uthayan article is entitled to his/her opinion of JRJ and the times he governed. As a Sinhala person, we are proud of his leadership under very difficult times with extremely difficult people he had to contend with.

We still believe he did marvels to the economy of Sri Lanka, and had he not turned to the United States of America for economic help, and had he not such a large number of political foes, his times would have gone in the annals of history as that of another King Parakrambahu.

The Tamils of Sri Lanka would have prospered too, if they had thought themselves as Sri Lankans first and Tamils second. We would like to add that, as Sinhala/Buddhists of Sri Lanka, if we ever again face a similar situation to that of July 13, 1983, (God forbid), we would simply do the same acts of kindness towards Tamils caught in the political machinations of the Tamil leaders. Would Tamil people do the same for us ?

The Tamils always had a good deal from the Sinhalese even after independence. It was because they had a better deal in Sri Lanka than in South India that they kept coming in droves to Sri Lanka. Prabhakaran calls India the "Fatherland" in Hitler fashion yet instead to going back to the fatherland he insists on staying in Sri Lanka and causing havoc in Sri Lanka.

The Tamils have not tried to build the country at all. While the Sinhalese have always tried to build up the country for the good of the many the Tamils have only destroyed everything they could lay their hands on. Sinhalese are willing to accommodate the Tamils and live in peace if the Tamils are also willing to do the same.

However when they have grandiose plans to take over the island on the pretext of wanting a separate state since Tamils "cannot live with the Sinhalese", then the Sinhalese have to protect themselves. Todate the Tamils have not been able to give a valid list of grievances to justify their actions. Even today 90% of the Tamils are living in the South.

They are dependent on the good will and patronage of the Sinhalese who buy good and services from them. Even the Tamil refugees in India are waiting to come back to Sri Lanka because they prefer it in Sri Lanka to India. The Tamils must realize that if they are to build a nation, the foundation has be based on truth and integrity. Just as Goebbels propaganda machine ultimately collapsed so will Prabhakaran's lies catch up with him.

The Tamils have seduced our leaders and some other foreign politicians to get what they want. However all the people who have come in touch with them have got corrupted and defamed. Eric Solzheim who was their great friend who received a solid gold medallion from Prabhakaran is not heard of any more. Paul Martin and Maria Minna who were in the Canadian cabinet and backing the LTTE to the hilt are no more in the government. Thus the wheel of dharma turns and in the end truth must triumph. Such are the laws of the Universe.


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