Most of us approved “military activity” against Prabhakaran – Radhika Coomaraswamy Part 1
Posted on May 12th, 2010

H. L. D. Mahindapala

In commemorating the 88th birthday of late Regi Siriwardena, an icon of the foreign-funded, West-leaning NGOs, Radhika Coomaraswamy, the former head of the International Center for Ethnic Studies (ICES), says: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Regi Siriwardena and Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam made ICES a special place where the best minds discarded old truths and searched for new answers together.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ (The Island, May 9, 2010)

The two subjects mentioned in this sentence and every phrase in the predicate deserves close scrutiny because she talks of these ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚, ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-discarding old truthsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-searching for new answers.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ She wants us to believe that these two were the beacons of light that illuminated the path in the dark days when the menacing and destructive forces of violence released by the Vadukoddai Resolution haunted the nation night and day, relentlessly. Besides, her statement is supposed to be an intellectual contribution to the on-going post-mortem on the national crisis. So this statement elevating the ICES and its ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ to a ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-special placeƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ in the intellectual firmament deserves close examination.

Of course, no one can miss the self-congratulatory tone of Radhika where she gloats over ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ (including hers) that flocked together like birds of a feather at the ICES. Every word in this statement leads to a few inescapable questions:ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  When these ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ congregated at the ICES ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the last refuge of Regi ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” did they ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-find new answer togetherƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚? She claims that these minds discarded ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-old truthsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. If so what are the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-old truthsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ that they discarded and what are ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the new answersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ that replaced them? Finally, if these ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ worked on finding ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-new answersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ why was the nation in such a mess since the declaration of war in the Vadukoddai Resolution on May 14, 1976? Did the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ find any viable or pragmatic ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-new answersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ or did they stoke the fires lit by the Jaffna leadership in Vadukoddai?

Obviously she is gushing over ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ hoping to impress that they also provided the best answers. The superlative also implies that there were no better minds outside the ICES. In writing self-promoting advertisements for the ICES she has also claimed elsewhere that the ICES is the best research center in South Asia. Well, if it was such an illuminating center providing ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-new answersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ discarding ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-old truthsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ how come it failed to produce one single beacon of light to end the darkness cast by the 33-year-old Vadukoddai War which was launched by the collective decision of the Jaffna Tamils leadership of which Neelan and his father were leading members? Eventually Neelan shed his veneer of objectivity required to maintain even a semblance of integrity, credibility and honesty of an independent research institute when he revealed his true self as a member of the leading political party campaigning for separatism. He officially declared his hand when he entered parliament as the MP of the TNA.

There is, no doubt, that Neelan was one of the best brains among the Tamil separatists. He contributed ideologically to internationalize the Tamil separatist cause in the name of minority rights ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a theme that was readily marketable in the West. His contribution to clothe Tamil separatism in respectable theories was far superior to the wild instincts of Prabhakaran which had oodles of emotional substance but lacked the intellectual contents. Neelan was a suave and sophisticated operator at the intellectual plane whereas the other child of the Vadukoddai Resolution, Prabhakaran, was nothing more than a village thug who ran berserk. All of NeelanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s moral theorizing was undercut by PrabhakaranƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s immoral violence.

NeelanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s strength was in promoting Jaffna Tamil politics. Period. He did not find viable solutions, as claimed by his pet protƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚©gƒÆ’†’ƒ”š‚©, Radhika. If the ICES was a center of excellence, as claimed by Radhika, why did it fail to produce a single theory or strategy to end the misery of the Vadukoddai War? The answer can be summed up in the earthy Sinhala saying: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Horagay ammagen payner ahhanna wagaiƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ (Asking for solutions and predictions about lost goods from the thiefƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s mother.) The nation lost its people, property, children and territory to a bunch of political criminals that came out of the Vadukoddai Resolution and how could the intellectuals at the ICES, who also came out of the Vadukoddai agenda, provide solutions and predictions to solve the problem created by their political fathers?

The ICES was aligned ethnically, ideologically, biologically, filially, to the fundamentals of the Vadukoddai Resolution. One cannot expect it to be otherwise when NeelanƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s father was one of the leading architects of the Vadukoddai Resolution. This Resolution urging the Tamil youth to take up arms until they achieve the separate state of Tamil Eelam became the Bible for all Tamil separatists/activists at both ends: at the very bottom level it produced Velupillai Prabhakaran who found legitimacy for his brutalities based on the violence endorsed in the Resolution and at the top end it produced Neelan Tiruchelvams, Radhika Coomaraswamys and their assorted allies in the NGOs, who excused the violence of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the boysƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ by manufacturing indefatigably theoretical justifications and political models to suit the separatist cause.

Even a glance at the ICES hierarchy and its ideology will reveal that the ethnic studies could not have gone in any other direction other than the Vadukoddai Resolution. All its research and studies were strategized and directed by the ICES to promote the over-exaggerated political claims of the Jaffna Tamils declared in the Vadukoddai Resolution. It was a disguised political base for Neelan and Radhika to promote the mono-ethnic extremism encapsulated in the Vadukoddai Resolution. Their activities and ideologies were directed against the majority Sinhalese for not giving into the demands laid down in the Vadukoddai Resolution. ICES produced books, conducted seminars, invited foreign speakers, wrote reams to the newspapers, networked internationally with other INGOs and NGOs with the sole purpose of promoting the agenda of the Vadukoddai Resolution. Its overall political objective was captured in one of its publications titled ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Reimagining Sri Lanka/ Northern Ireland insightsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. This title encapsulates its mission and vision. It meant ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-reimaginingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and recasting the nation in accordance with the fictitious history and the concocted geography and politics contained in the Vadukoddai Resolution. .

This is also the meaning of RadhikaƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s statement that they discarded the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-old truthsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and replaced it with ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-new answersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. The ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-old truthsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ were based on one nation, one flag, one army, one police, one navy, one Church (whatever the denomination) and peaceful co-existence in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. The ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-new answersƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ that Radhika refers to were aimed at promoting two nations, or political and constitutional rearrangements near enough to two nations, two armies, two police forces, two navies, two Churches for each denomination, and two constitutionally institutionalized communal identities, one multicultural in the south where the Tamils would have their language, culture, political say and economic place and another in a mono-ethnic enclave in the north and the east dominated exclusively by the Tamils of Jaffna.

This ideological format was strictly within the political parameters defined in the Vadukoddai Resolution. There was a variation which came later. It came after Appapillai Amirthalingam was made the Leader of the Opposition by the Machiavellian manipulations of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-JRJƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ to prevent his opponent, Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, from returning to the seats of power. Amirthalingam took the opportunity to go round the world capitals with the diplomatic passport issued by ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-JRJƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ peddling the separate state solution as the answer to the Sri Lankan crisis.ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚  According to M. Sivasithamparam, the president of TULF, Amirthalingam returned empty handed with the message that the international community was not for a separate state.

This message, however, was kept within the rank and file but not broadcast widely to the Tamil electorate. A disappointing and frustrating political message like that would undermine their separatist platform based on the Vadukoddai Resolution. But Neelan and Radhika adjusted their political agenda slightly to claim that the Tamils should opt for a state near enough to a separate state within the framework of the Sri Lankan constitution. This was partly based on the new global realities and partly on S. J. V. ChelvanayakamƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s doctrine of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-little now and more later.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ Their goal was still the same: a separate Tamil enclave within the Sri Lankan constitution. Another anti-Sri Lankan pundit of the NGO, Dr. Michael Roberts, openly canvassed for confederalism in his series published by the MARGA. He even went round the NGO circuit singing hosannas to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Ponku ThamilƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and the cult of death epitomized in the graves dug by PrabhakaranƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s fascist violence.

This then was the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-new answerƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ that failed to think outside the fundamentals contained in the Vadukoddai box. The Resolution was aimed solely at grabbing power and territory and Neelan and Radhika provided sophisticated theories and imported models from the West to justify the grab for power and territory in the constitutional arrangements they advocated. Their main target was to weaken the centre and hand over power of a state to the periphery in the north and the east. To grab power and territory ICES, and other allied NGOs, launched a concerted campaign to demonize the centre as ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-majoritarian ruleƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ riding roughshod over the rights of the minorities.

The ICES turned its resources, talents and powers to propagandize the myths of the Vadukoddai Resolution which was aimed solely at blaming the Sinhala-Buddhist south. A remarkable feature of the NGO propaganda is that they never deviated from the main plank of the Vadukoddai Resolution. ICES, for instance, focused exclusively on probing the south without ever looking over the cadjan curtain into the inner social structures and the mono-ethnic extremism bred in the peninsular political culture. Exposing the communalism of the Jaffna political class, would have undermined their political platform of blaming only the Sinhala-Buddhist south. Jane Russell who exposed the corrosive communalism evolving in Jaffna was sidelined. (See Communal Politics under the Donoughmore Constitution, 1931 ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” 1947). Prof. Bryan Pfaffenberger who exposed the horripilating and dehumanizing casteism of the Vellahalas never came into their political calculations.

The fascist brutalities of Prabhakaran were nothing new. He was merely repeating the fascist brutalities of the Vellahla caste which showed no mercy for the oppressed Tamil castes. Focusing on Vellahla oppression and discrimination against their people would undermine their claim to be victims of Sinhala oppression and discrimination of the Tamils. How could the most vicious and criminal oppressors of the Tamils of Jaffna accuse the Sinhalese of oppressing the Tamils? The Sinhalese could hold their heads high and claim justifiably that they had never oppressed any community or class the way the Vellahlas kept the Tamil lower castes under their jackboot. So the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ swept it under the ICES carpets.

Instead the ICES and its allied NGOs beat the tom-toms of their mono-causal theory ad infinitum, blaming only the Sinhala-Buddhists for the Vadukoddai War. It was a warped theory which refused to take into consideration the multi-factorial causes that led to the rise of Prabhakaran and his brutal violence which in the end affected the Tamils most. The Vadukoddai War was a futile exercise that led the Tamils eventually into the dead end of Nanthikadal.

After Nanthikadal, and after failing to stop the final offensive against Prabhakaran, Radhika Coomaraswamy is now saying: ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-Then of course we had the LTTE a really ruthless, fascist organisation and most of us did believe in a military activity against them- though with caution for the protection of civilians.ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ (E-mail sent by Radhika to Society for Peace Unity and Human Rights (SPUR), Australia, May 3, 2010) This indeed would be news to many. If they (ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-most of usƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚) did say it then it must have been the loudest whisper in town, hardly audible to keen listeners of NGO activists. Besides, who are ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-the most of usƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ in the NGOs who were for ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-military activityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚? Was it Jehan Perera, Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu, or Godfrey Goonetillke? Only UTHR (Jaffna) was daring enough to take the Tamil Tigers head-on condemning them for human rights violations. In fact, UTHR condemned the Colombo-based NGOs, for ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-pussyfootingƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ around the issues of war and peace and violations of human rights of the Tamil Tigers.

On the contrary, the general thrust of the NGO offensive was to tie the hands of Security Forces accusing them of human rights violations. The Ceasefire Agreement was hailed by the entire NGO community because it tied the hands of the Security Forces ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” a commitment adhered to strictly by Ranil Wickremesinghe but not by his counter-signatory Prabhakaran. On the whole, the NGOs ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” or ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-most of usƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚, as claimed by Radhika — never came out openly, as a common front, to support vehemently any military activity against the Tamil Tigers. It would have been an unforgettable landmark event if they did. Besides, the Vadukoddai war would not have been prolonged for so long if they did.

However, in the end the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-new answerƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ to end the Vadukoddai War came not from the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-best mindsƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ at the ICES but from the village lads of the south and this includes President Mahinda Rajapakse. They provided the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-military activityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ endorsed by Radhika. But her post-Prabhakaran statements and actions bring out an irreconcilable contradiction: how could she be an advocate of ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-military activityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ and, at the same time, invite Gareth Evans to preach R2P at the ICES? Radhika ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” the war-mongering ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-military activistƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢¢”š¬…” has also sent Alan Rock and Philip Alston from UN to question the ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-military activityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ which she endorsed. On the balance of consequences, she would agree that ending the war has saved more lives than those who would have been killed in prolonging the war. So whatƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ¢-¾‚¢s her beef now, now that her recommended ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-military activityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚ has restored normalcy to the north and south without discrimination?

The war had to end and there was no alternative to ƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ…-military activityƒÆ’‚¢ƒ¢-¡‚¬ƒ”š‚. Events have proved that to be the only viable option to end the Vadukoddai War. For this Radhika Coomaraswamy must thank not Regi Siriwardena or Neelan Tiruchelvam but the self-sacrificing lads and lasses from the south whose brawns have proved superior to the best brains of the ICES.

Part II on Regi Siriwardena next

5 Responses to “Most of us approved “military activity” against Prabhakaran – Radhika Coomaraswamy Part 1”

  1. c.wije Says:

    I did not know that Gananath Obeysekera (son of a local vedamahattaya from Galle) also played a part in this fraud called ICES. I saw this on Rajiva Wijesinghe’s blog.

    So this second Marga (Mara) Inst called ICES has had all the jokers-Godfrey Gunatilaka, Bradman Weerakoon, Gananath Obeyesekera working behind the seen getting paid in Dollars… They all, these old goats, perhaps enjoyed the brain-power of the Indian beauty Rama Mani. But she did not ware/paste a big pottu.


  2. Claude1045 Says:

    Great article ! Sir, Mahindapala, you should write a book and include all your articles which will be included in the annals of history of Sri Lanka. All these NGOs who receive and paid in Dollars will sing to any ‘tune’ to fill their pockets. These very same people will NOT speak if there was no money involved. Disgraceful lot !!

  3. Ram2009 Says:

    “They discarded the old truths and replaced them with neofantasy”. The truth however unpalatable cannot be discarded. An attempt was made to replace it with a fabrication called Tamil Eelam.

  4. helaya Says:

    Gananath Obeyesekera and one SEnivirathna are the bastards who supported the separatist Tamil movement in the US. They confortably fuded by ant-Sri Lankan organizatios.

  5. cassandra Says:

    Wow! what a remarkably long response to two lines in an article!
    Ram 2009, I also cannot see how you can toss away truths. To my mind, truths old or new have an abiding validity.

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