Part III — continuing the series on Tamil politics and culture -Ponnambalam rips apart centuries of communal harmony
Posted on June 9th, 2012

H. L. D. Mahindapala

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The battle lines of coming events in the north and the south were drawn clearly in the thirties.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ By mid-thirties Ponnambalam had emerged as the leading champion of Tamil communalism in the north. It was Bandaranaike who led the counter-movement against Ponnambalam in the south in the latter half of the thirties. These two key actors in the political arena crossed swords publicly over the provocative hate speech of Ponnambalam targeting the Sinhalese at Nawalapitiya. The Hindu Organ (p. 4 — June 22, 1939), the voice of Jaffna Hindus in the first decades of the 20th century, headlined this politically significant story featuring the two key protagonists of the Nawalapitiya incident. The headline said: “Mr. Ponnambalam’s N’pitiya speech” followed by the strapline beneath it: “Mr. Bandaranaike’s challenge.”

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ponnambalam’s provocative, confrontational, derisive, divisive, communal politics came under heavy fire not only from the Sinhalese but also from Jaffna which, in the twenties and thirties, was constructively promoting national unity by decrying anti-communal politics. In its prophetic editorial titled, THE WRITING ON THE WALL, The Hindu Organ, (Ibid) said: “….A verbal bombshell dropped unwittingly by a Tamil politician at Nawalapitiya appears to have set the South on fire……..A slander against a community by an individual, though unintended, is inexcusable…. “

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ In a preceding paragraph it said: “Communal differences, though there existed hardly any during the time of the last generation of leaders, have now been multiplied and intensified, thanks to the hot-heads and irresponsible talkers in the country who care more for the plaudits of the mob than for the welfare of the people. Ceylon today is seething with petty problems which have been created by thoughtless gas-bags, and which threaten to poison the peaceful conditions in the country….” It concluded by saying: “Let us hope that wise statesmanship will prevail among leaders who should realize the imperative need for the welding of the communities into a Ceylonese Community for the political and economic salvation of the country. The writing on the wall is too clear to be ignored.”

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ This editorial predicted the future accurately. After Ponnambalam launched his hate speeches and anti-Sinhala campaigns, loaded with the “insane fury” (Yalpana Vaipa Malai) of communalism, in the thirties, Jaffna politics never regained its balance. Instead it proceeded relentlessly rejecting multi-ethnic co-existence that was the only means for building lasting peace. The responsibility of steering Jaffna into irreversible and intransigent communalism that led to confrontations with the Sinhalese from time to time and finally to the Vadukoddai War should be placed squarely on the communal politics fathered by Ponnambalam. The rise of Ponnambalam on the wave of communalism he whipped up marks the beginning of the end of communal harmony that prevailed in Sri Lanka throughout millennia.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Bandaranaike who grasped the hidden realities of Ponnambalam’s racist political agenda said, in inaugurating the branch of the Sinhala Maha Sabaha in Nawalapitiya shortly afterwards, that a statute of Ponnambalam should be erected in Nawalapitiya for helping him to open the branch of the Sinhala Maha Sabha.(ibid). In other words, he was saying that it was the provocative extremism of Ponnambalam that prompted the Sinhala people of Nawalapitiya to rally behind him. Clearly, one communalism was promoting the other. The Sinhala Maha Sabha which was established by Bandaranaike in 1936 did gather momentum in the thirties as a reaction to Ponnambalam’s virulent anti-Sinhala hate speeches.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Apart from recognizing the legitimacy of the suppressed grass root forces to regain their lost heritage the politics of Bandaranaike was shaped by what he called “the more and more rapacious demands of the Tamils” (p.240 — Jane Russell.) Here it should be noted that though the Tamil Mahajana Sabhai was established in 1921 the Sinhala Maha Jana Sabaha was not formed until 1936. This again contradicts the popular notion that it was Bandaranaike who was exploiting Sinhala communalism. On the contrary, his movement was a logical reaction to the rising waves of anti-Sinhala communalism from the north that was exacerbating the north-south relations. The offensive launched by Ponnambalam was aggressive and virulent. Bandaranaike was the most prominent leader of the southern elite to pick up the challenge of Ponnambalam with a counter Sinhala movement.

Bandaranaike’s response, however, was measured and targeted the historical inaccuracies. He said: “It is not my intention to speak against the Tamils. I am only replying to Mr. Ponnamabalam.” Unlike Ponnambalam he was careful not to offend the Tamil community. And proceeded to analyse the hidden agenda of Ponnambalam. He said: “There is more in Mr. Ponnampalam’s (sic) speech than an ill-considered and thoughtless insult. It was an attempt to prove that the Tamils had the chief claim to Ceylon, by saying that they (the Tamils) were the original settlers, that there was no pure race, such as the Sinhalese, and the Tamils were responsible for this culture, literature, etc.”

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ He added: “Mr. Ponnambalam had said that the Sinhalese could not be trusted and they were unfair. He had forgotten that with the help of the Sinhalese he had obtained a scholarship and gone to England; that the Sinhalese majority had voted him to be an acting Minister and the pan-Sinhalese Board of Ministers had elected him to represent Ceylon at Singapore. Was this gross injustice the Sinhalese had done him?” Bandaranaike’s riposte put the finger on the central issue that bedevilled Jaffna Tamil politics and, consequently, national politics: blaming the Sinhalese for the corrosive communalism of Jaffna.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Besides, Ponnambalam’s communalism distorted historical perspectives and dragged peninsula to the extreme point of no return. Ponnambalam’s interpretation of history made them believe that the Jaffna Tamils were the founders, the makers and the breakers of Sri Lakan history. This was leading them into an “insane fury”, injected by an unwarranted dose of superiority. The distorted and arrogant version of history was partly the reason that boosted their mono-ethnic politics demanding “50-50” and finally to a separate state. This also explains why the other two Tamil-speaking communities did not go down this hubristic path of history which claimed that Sri Lanka came out of the womb of the Tamils in Jaffna. The Muslims and the Indian Tamils did not concoct history to reinforce their past in myths.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Challenging Ponnambalam “to point out the nation that was free from mixture (“hybrids”) Bandaranaike said: “A large part of Sinhalese history had been created in their fight against Tamils.” Bandaranaike was focusing on accuracy compared to the farrago of historical inexactitudes uttered by Ponnambalam in his “insane fury”. Some modern states would categorize Ponnambalam’s hate speech as Group Slander. In most Western democracies hate speech is banned, particularly if it leads to violence. Ponnambalam got away with his hate speech that led to violence.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ponnambalam was bent on pursuing rabid racism and a ruthless casteism. He would not hesitate to exploit any issue to further his career with racist politics. For instance, when the thirties and the forties were still under the British colonial regime he never failed to blame everything that happened on “the Sinhala government” and not the British masters who were in overall command.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Example 1: The Marxists who led the General Strike of 1947 — the biggest in colonial times — started marching from Kolonnawa to Colombo on June 5, 1947. Gov. Henry Monck-Mason Moore (Dr. Colvin R. de Silva called him ” Monkey ” Mason Moore at a Galle Face meeting) rushed down from Kandy to deal with the emergency situation. Admiral Sir. Geoffrey Layton, Commander-in-Chief of the island, too was in Colombo. The State Council passed the controversial Public Security Act hurriedly to meet the challenge of the biggest ever strike. The march ended with Police opening fire and killing V. Kandasamy, a clerical servant in the pubic service. Kandasamy’s body was sent by the night mail to his relatives in Jaffna. When the body arrived at the Jaffna station next morning Ponnambalam was there to denounce it as an act of the Sinhala government killing a Tamil. The Marxists organisers of the strike were blaming the British and their “comprador bourgeoisie agents” for the death of Kandasamy. Ponnambalam was blaming “the Sinhala government” at the Jaffna station.

Example 2: During the World War II the British introduced the cooperative system to control the distribution of food and essentials in the market place. Every suburb in the cities and villages had these cooperatives. The main objective of the cooperative movement was to prevent the black marketeers from cornering the scarce food stocks and exploiting the consumers. People were issued with coupons to collect their rations weekly and it worked effectively in delivering the essentials to the people. Ponnambalam, however, went before the Soulbury Commissioners and complained that it was a plot by the Sinhala government to undercut the Tamil traders.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ponnambalam was unrelenting and implacable. Besides, anti-Sinhala politics was a tool he devised and honed to advance his career. With the decline of the Jaffna Tamil Youth leading anti-communal campaigns he had a field day with no opposition from the north. In the south Bandaranaike was reacting to Ponnambalam’s new wave of communal politics. Bandaranaike’s role was to unite the Sinhalese and champion the rights of the oppressed masses who were denied their political and cultural right under centuries of colonialism. He was not going to stop at the transfer of power from the foreign colonial elite to the local elite. The White Sahibs were leaving and the Brown Sahibs were taking over with no meaningful empowerment of the grassroots. There was an urgent need for correcting the historical imbalances left behind by centuries of colonialism. It was for opposing the mono-ethnic extremism of the north and also for empowering the grassroot forces that he was labelled as an “opportunistic chauvinist.” Besides, in opposing Ponnambalam he had foreseen the threats of the rabid communal forces that were rising in the peninsular political culture — a violent force that would undermine the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The rise of Ponnambalam coincided with the launch of the Donoughmore Constitution which, in a unique experiment, introduced, for the first time, universal franchise. This was a direct blow to the casteist power of the elitist Vellahlas. It empowered the low-castes with the right to vote and the Vellahlas, for the first time in their history, was forced to go down to them to win their votes to retain their power. Cateism deified by Hinduism was no longer the valid criterion that would legitimize the power of the Vellahlas. They had to find a marketable secular ideology to replace the outdated Hindu casteism and they took to communalism, painting the Sinhalese as the demon that threatened the identity, culture, society and security of the Jaffna Tamils.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Ponnambalam, like his successors, had nothing else to offer — no liberalism, no socialism, no multi-culturalism etc., — to the Tamil electorates except anti-Sinhala racism to win Tamil votes. Anti-Sinhala bashing became the norm in peninsular politics ever since Ponnambalam uncorked the communal genie. Rival Tamil parties demonized the Sinhalese of the south as the bogey man for all their ills and failures. When the Tamil Congress of Ponnambalam joined the Cabinet of D. S. Senanayake government he was labelled as a “collaborator” by the Federal Party and Ponnambalam paid back in the same coin when the Federal Party formed a part of the Dudley Senanayake coalition. The Tamil parties were bidding against each other to claim victory over the Sinhalese by extracting more and more from the Sinhalese. This rivalry to beat the Sinhalese every step of the way led Jaffna deeper into mono-ethnic extremism. The rival parties escalating their demand to beat other in the northern electorates increased communal tensions and exacerbated north-south relations until the mono-ethnic forces peaked aggressively and violently in the Vadukoddai Resolution.

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ The incremental steps advancing logically to mono-ethnic extremism was described by Chelvanayakam’s son-in-law, A. J. Wilson when he wrote : “The torch passed (from Ponnambalam) to Chelvanayakam….” (p.133 — Wilson). Chelvanayakam passed the torch to Prabhakaran. It was a torch of “insane fury” that was relayed from leader to leader until it came into the hands of Prabhakaran who did not hesitate to use it like Hanuman, the legendary Indian figure from the epic Mahabharata who set fire to the whole of Sri Lanka. Most of the victims of the “insane fury” of Jaffna, sadly, were the Tamils of Jaffna. Ironically, all the Tamil leaders came in the name of liberating the Tamils from the Sinhalese. But after the “insane fury” unleashed by Ponnambalam and Chelvanayakam in the Vadukoddai War what can they claim to have delivered to the Jaffna Tamils? In what ways have “the sole representatives of the Tamils” liberated the Tamils? Isn’t the history of Jaffna also a vicious tale of Tamil “insane fury ” turning against the Jaffna Tamils “longing for more (Tamil) victims”? (p.33 — Yalpana Vaipa Malai)

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Has any Sinhala leader committed crimes against the Tamils as those committed by Sankilli in the beginning or Prabhakaran in the end? Without condoning the violence of 1983 and other mob violence of the Sinhala lunatic fringe against the Tamils it can argued convincingly that not all the violence committed by the Sinhalese can add up to a total anywhere near the crimes committed by the Tamil leaders against their own oppressed people. Which other community has treated the Tamils as “pariahs” — a corruption of the Tamil word “parayar” (the outcasts) that has crept into the English vocabulary?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Despite what history has taught the Tamil leadership they are attempting to kick-start their “insane fury” against the Sinhalese again. After Vadukoddai War they should know what it would cost in human lives. But disregarding the suffering entailed in going back to the failed peninsular politics the TNA is revving up the same rhetoric of their “insane fury” that led them to Nandikadal. Is this another atavistic throw back to their “longing for more (Tamil) victims” which they inherited from Sankili — the first mass murderer of unarmed Tamil civilians known in Sri Lankan history?

ƒÆ’-¡ƒ”š‚ Since there is no Bandaranaike to blame this time will the TNA take total responsibility for leading their people to Nandikadal for the second time? Are the Jaffna Tamils fated to suffer the verdict passed by the philosopher George Santayana who wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Right now it seems that the TNA is heading in the direction of the other saying of Santayana: “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

24 Responses to “Part III — continuing the series on Tamil politics and culture -Ponnambalam rips apart centuries of communal harmony”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    This is the best news in weeks.

    “Somali Islamists offer 10 camels as bounty for Obama

    (CNN) — The United States offers millions for information leading to the capture of the world’s most wanted terrorists.
    A Somali militant group has purportedly countered with an offer of camels for U.S. officials.

    Al-Shabaab has placed a bounty of 10 camels for President Barack Obama and two camels for information on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.”

    Never knew one American ASS is worth 2 African camels!!

  2. AnuD Says:

    Tamils scream so much saying that they lived in Sri Lanka for so long. But, is it only this Yalpana Vaipa Malai the only book which talk about their history in Sinhale ?

  3. myopinion24 Says:

    Very deep analysis leads to even deeper questions at the end well done mr mahindapala i await with anticipation for the next extraordinary revelation and series of questions that will help us step down the right future path. very intense and deep hmmm…

  4. Sri Rohana Says:

    Dear Mr Mahindapala
    You are doing a wonderful work. Sinhala patriots always grateful to you for your talents, knowledge, time and efforts to defend Sinhala nation from tamil racist propagandists. It is our duty of the day to expose tamil racism and tamil expansionism against Sri Lanka. As far as we know tamil racism, tamil expansionism and tamil invasions are three faced cobras that always waiting to suck Sinhala blood.
    Most tamil racist to cover their racism against Sinhala nation try to put the blame on 1983 riots as a starting point. But truth is as Mr Mahindapala exposed tamil racism runs to several hundred years or several hundred centuries. We have to accept the fact that Sri Lanka had only one enemy throughout the history. Answer is very simple, that is tamil country (tamil nadu).
    Continuously tamil invaders destroyed our civilizations and tried their best to eliminate Sinhala nation from this world. But thanks to Buddhism we survived yet as a nation. But tamil racist never give up their core agenda against Sri Lanka. It came with tamil nadian Elara, it came with tamil nadian Ponnambalam, then developed by Malaysian born tamil nadian Velupillai Chelavanayakam, then terrorised by tamil nadian second generation fascists terrorist Velupillai Prabakaran.
    Unless otherwise tamil country ready to take tamils to tamil homeland tamil nadu, Sinhala nation has to live with this problem for ever. Our leaders have to demand from India and tamil nadu to take tamils back and leave us peacefully.

  5. myopinion24 Says:

    Whilst people are focussed on the north there is a very tacit economic takeover of Sri Lanka occurring down the depths of the south in a place none other than Habantota. The $1.5 billion Chinese funded port opened for business last week. One of the first shipments was Indian produced cars on the way to Africa via SL’s own Chinese backed enterprise. The Chinese are on tap to invest up to a further $50B in hard currency in SL. Sri Lanka if we do not focus our activity on what is happening right now under the very noses of the elite politicians. We are going to miss the next wave of colonisation. The next wave of colonisation is less likely to be defined in a historically familiar paradigm rather more economically disguised and well resourced. This sort of activity whilst potentially of significant economic benefit poses the greatest threat to existing culture if not managed properly. The existing culture of Sri Lanka is more under threat from these sorts of development than from a rag bag group of Tamils living in an economically backward northern Sri Lanka. The next wave of dominance to the country will come through the commercial channels (from India, China, USA, Indonesia etc) with such economic momentum that will see Sri Lanka at least in a cultural sense change dramatically over next two decades. Continually looking at a familiar history book within context of environment that changing at warp speed for a revelation is a waste of time.

  6. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Historic changes occurred in 1931: the reformed legislative council was eliminated, and the Donoughmore Commission, which rejected communal representation, was formed. Instead, the Commission introduced universal franchise, in which representation was proportionate to percentage of population. The Tamil leadership strongly opposed this plan, realizing that they would be reduced to a minority in parliament. Many Sinhalese were also against the idea of universal franchise for all castes.
    G. G. Ponnambalam publicly protested the Donooughmore Commission and proposed to the Soulbury Commission, which had replaced the Donooughmore Commission, that roughly equal numbers of congressional seats be assigned to Tamils and to Sinhalese in the new independent Ceylon being planned, but his proposal was rejected. From the introduction of the advisory council, through the Donoughmore Commission in 1931, to the Soulbury Commission in 1947, the primary dispute between the elite of the Sinhalese and Tamils was over the question of representation, not the structure of the government. This issue of power-sharing was used by the nationalists of both communities to create an escalating inter-ethnic rivalry which has been gaining momentum ever since.
    G.G.Ponnambalam’s advocacy of Tamil nationalism was paralleled by a similar Sinhala nationalism of Sinhala Maha Sabha, led by future Prime Minister Solomon Bandaranaike. This created tension between the two leaders and caused the exchange of verbal attacks, with G.G.Ponnampalam calling himself a “proud Dravidian”. This interethnic and political stress led to the first Sinhala-Tamil riot in 1939.
    Fifty-fifty policy was opposed by a Muslim minority and sections of the Tamil community. D. S. Senanayake allowed Ponnambalam full control over presentations before the Soulbury Commission, prevented Sinhalese nationalists such as Solomon Bandaranaike from taking the stage, and avoided the eruption of acrimonious arguments. But the Soulbury commission rejected the charges of discrimination against the Tamils, and also rejected the fifty-fifty formula as subverting democracy.
    Prior to about 1935, the politics of caste was more important than the politics of race, and there was little race animosity. Racial representation was begun by the British, who appointed reprentatives to the Legislative council, based on race. The Sinhalese were further split into Low-country and Kandyan, to weaken their power. The Donoughmore commission (1927) brought in the possibility of Universal Franchise, which gave a vote to every one, irrespective of Caste, creed ot ethnicity. The strong political position of the Tamil community was thus threatened. At first the opposition to the Donoughmore commission, esp. from the Colombo Tamils, was based on caste elitism. This was rapidly replaced by ethnic parring between the Tamil and Sinhala leaders.
    The 1930s were the seed bed of the racist politics that plague Sri Lanka today. It was also the period when world politics was dominated by the rise of racism (Nazism) and Marxism (Stalinism in the Soviet Union). These influenced the young Ceylonese intellectuals as well as their Indian counterparts.
    The Tamil Vellalas realized that they would loose their dominant position if universal franchise was upheld. G,G.Ponnampalam began a full campaign against Universal Franchise and the historical position of the Sinhalese. The Ceylon Tamils had no written document on the lines of the Mahavamsa to authenticate their singular and separate historical authority in Sri Lanka, a fact which Ceylon Tamil communalists found very irksome. Because of this, Tamil writers,and budding politicians like G.G.Ponnambalam began to attack the Mahavamsa. He went to political meeting claiming that the Tamils have always ruled the Sinhalese, and that the Sinhalese were “a race of hybrids” and an offshoot of the Tamils. The Dutugamunu-Elara story was used by “Ceylon Tamil agitators as an historical justification for the sense of grievance which they were so carefully nursing, and it was used to suggest that Sinhalese perfidy in the name of Sinhalese Buddhism would be the accepted practice in the future as well as in the past. Meanwhile, the Tamils continued to insist that they are effectively a majority community (Morning Star, January 2, 1934). The famous Peradeniya historian, Prof. K. M. de Silva has cited this fact as a main cause of the failure of the Ceylon National Congress and the concept of a united Sri Lanka (University of Ceylon History of Ceylon , page 401).
    At a meeting in Nawalapitiya in 1939, G.G.Ponnambalam attacked the Mahavamsa and the Sinhalese in such extreme terms that the people attacked him, and the first Sinhala-Tamil riots began, with clashes in Nawalapitiya, Passara, Maskeliya and even in Jaffna (reported in full in the newspaper, Hindu Organ November 1, 1939. The British government rapidly put down the clashes and so they did not become extensive as in the post-1950s clashes.
    G. G. Ponnambalam held that universal franchise was a mistake. There were roughly equal numbers of “educated upper-caste Tamils” and “educated upper-caste Sinhalese”. So the vote should be restricted and the chamber should be 50%-50% between the two communities (“balanced representation”). Basically, low-caste Tamils and Indian Tamils, and also most Sinhalese should not count!
    G.G.Pnnampalam upheld the caste system, and agreed with Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, who went several times to London in the 1930s to ask the British government to uphold the caste system.
    G.G.Ponnnamblam held that the Tamils had always ruled the Sinhalese, and that Vijaya was ” Vijayan”, Kasyapa was “Kasi-appan”, and Parakramabahu was a Tamil whose actual name was Pandya-Parakrama. His favorite attack theme was to begin by bashing the Mahavamsa.
    Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan, and also G. G. Ponnambalam and others REFUSED to accept that the Tamils are a minority in a democratic government, and did not attempt to create a political strategy that accepted the reality of being a minority.
    G.G.Ponnampalam visited Germany several times, accompanied by his right-wing British friends, in the mid 1930s, and probably copied the racist nationalism of Europe, just as N. M. Perera, Philip Gunawardena, Colvin R de Silva and other intellectuals copied the equally leftist ideology of Marxism. Racism was fashionable in Europe in the 1930s and G.G.Ponnampalam imported it to Sri Lanka .
    When D. S. Senanayake managed to get both SWRD Bandaranaike and G.G. Ponnampalam into his cabinet by his adroit political manipulations, a vacuum was created in the Tamil extremist space, and this was filled by the Tamil Sovereign party (Tamil Arasu Kachchi), falsely translated as “The Federal party”, as every one knows the real meaning of the Tamil word “Arasu”. The name came from the “League of Tamil federations”, which had published a book in 1942 claiming to show that the Tamils were the main inhabitants of Sri Lanka, and that the Mahavamsa was a recent (16th century), false fabrication.
    SWRD Bandaranaike had no option but to oppose the forces unleashed by G.G. Ponnampalam, by setting up the Sinhala Maha Sabha etc. The national dress and other things came with the temperance movement and the Sinhala and Tamil nationalist movements. These were in turn influenced by the Indian nationalist movements. The early life of SWRD Bandaranaike shows that he was influenced by the Indian nationalist movements in Oxford. He was a sincere, sensitive politician who overestimated his capacity to control the nationalist forces and the intrigues of the anti-nationalist forces that were unleashed within the racist politics of the 1930s. The rank communalism of the Tamils was made respectable, socially acceptable and nourished by the Tamil Congress in the 1930-40s. That is why the idea of a Ceylonese nation failed, already by 1939. The continued program launched by the Federal party was based on a separate Tamil identity for the Tamils, fully denying the Ceylonese concept of D. S. Senanayake and Sir Oliver Goonetilleke. The Federal party began to invent grievances and organize provocative “Sathyagrahas” instead of building bridges between the two communities. E. M. V. Naganathan enjoyed claiming that he was a descendent of a Chola aristocrat. The Federal party leaders wanted to carve out a North-Eastern fiefdom for themselves, governing it from the comfort of Colombo. In time to come the local militants in the north realized this and eliminated the Federal Party-TULF leadership. There was no way of preventing a final show down as long as the Federal party continued on its path, towards the TULF and BataKotte (Vadukkoddei), and then to the active support of the armed militancy of the LTTE and Giranikke (Killinochchi).

  7. myopinion24 Says:

    reposted with amendments …… Whilst people are focussed on the north there is a very tacit economic takeover of Sri Lanka occurring down the depths of the south in a place none other than Habantota. The $1.5 billion Chinese funded port opened for business last week. One of the first shipments was Indian produced cars on the way to Africa via SL’s own Chinese backed enterprise. The Chinese are on tap to invest up to a further $50B in hard currency in SL. Sri Lanka if we do not focus our activity on what is happening right now under the very noses of the elite politicians, we are going to miss the next wave of colonisation. The next wave of colonisation is less likely to be defined in a historically familiar paradigm rather more economically disguised and well resourced. This sort of activity whilst potentially of significant economic benefit poses the greatest threat to existing culture if not managed properly. The existing culture of Sri Lanka is more under threat from these sorts of development than from a rag bag group of Tamils living in an economically backward northern Sri Lanka. The next wave of dominance to the country will come through the commercial channels (from India, China, USA, Indonesia etc) with such economic momentum that will see Sri Lanka at least in a cultural sense change dramatically over the next two decades. Potentially these developments have more significance for the future than the continu0us review of history outside the context of an environment that is changing at warp speed for a revelation is a waste of time.

  8. myopinion24 Says:

    Nalliah Thayabharan

    Thank you for contributing to my understanding of history through a well articulated opinon of the facts . This is better than a myopic rant based around a preformed opinion

  9. Dilrook Says:

    Tamil Mahajana Saba was formed in 1918.

    Ponnambalam Arunachalam formed the Ceylon Tamil Congress after he broke away from the Ceylon National Congress in 1922.

    Sinhala Maha Sabha was formed only in 1936.

    Therefore it is obvious who started racist politics.

    Although Sinhala Maha Sabha gathered publicity, soon it was absorbed into multi ethnic UNP and SLFP and the Sinhala Maha Sabha didn’t continue its political identity thereafter. This was not the case with the Tamil Congress. Until this date it contests elections and wins from time to time parliamentary seats.

    This is the second comparative culpability of Tamil racism than Sinhala racism.

    On one hand Tamil racism was the beginning of ethno-politics and on the other Tamil racism still continues to haunt in elections as they still failed to assimilate into multi ethnic parties.

    What is worse is Ponnambalam, Chelvanayagam and Arunachalam broke away from three excellent chances to continue multi-ethnic politics.

    Blaming both Sinhala and Tamil leaders equally for the current predicament is therefore not correct. Tamil politicians must take 90% of the blame on three counts. As they always were, they will not take any blame making it an impossible ailment to cure.

  10. Dilrook Says:

    Another excellent analysis by Mr Mahindapala.

  11. Dham Says:

    HE the king Lorenzo ,
    What is point you are making ?
    What is camels and Obama got to do with Tamil racism ?

  12. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    The Jaffna Students’ Congress, the precursor of the Jaffna Youth Congress, came into being in 1924 . Hector Abhayavardhana in his perceptive essay titled Tamil Nationalism and the Sinhalese (see his Selected Writings, Colombo: 2001, pp.350 – 368) suggests that the break up of the Ceylon National Congress with the departure of its influential Tamil members around 1924 may have had something to do with the formation of the Jaffna Students’ Congress in that year which later metamorphosed into the Jaffna Youth Congress. Here’s how Abhayavardhana puts it:

    In these bleak times we are passing through, the ever fragrant memory of the Jaffna Youth Congress serves to lift the spirit of those of us who yet pursue that seemingly elusive brand of Sri Lankan nationalism – – as opposed to the narrow and harmful sectarian nationalism that some of our misguided citizens appear determined to pursue – and helps sustain the hope for a better and meaningful future for us all.

    Though Sir Ponnampalam Arunachalam and his followers had no visible connection with the formation of the Students Congress (later the Youth Congress) in Jaffna, it is possible to conjecture that the breakup of the Ceylon National Congress and the formation of the Students Congress in Jaffna were not completely unrelated.

    Abahayavardhana goes on to make a key point about the Jaffna Students’ Congress in that it was a national and not a mere regional movement confined to the peninsular of Jaffna or the Northern and Eastern provinces. Its perspective, notes Abhayavardhana, an all-island one and its goal was explicitly announced to be independence, national unity, secularism, and the overcoming of all caste barriers. It contributed the first manifestation of genuine nationalism in the country’. We thus see that notable Sinhala Sri Lankans such as D.B. Dhanapala, P. de S. Kularatne, G.K.W. Perera, once a Principal of Nalanda Vidyalaya and later a State Councillor, A.E. Goonesinha the labour leader, the father of Marxism in Ceylon Philip Gunawardene (even though based in London at the time), D.S. Senanyake, George. E. de Silva, E.W. Perera, D. B. Jayatilaka, Francis de Zoysa, S. W. Dassanaike, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, N. M. Perera, Leslie Gunewardene, S. A. Wickremasinghe, W. Dahanayake , J. R. Jayewardene, Colvin R. de Silva and Selina Perera joined forces with the Jaffna Youth Congress. So also did up country Tamil leaders such as Peri Sunderam, Malay leaders such as T. B. Jayah. Not only was the Jaffna Youth Congress able to transcend ethnic limitations by having under its umbrella a diversity of Ceylonese, it was thereby also able to overcome the limitations of its peninsular base (Cheran 2009).

    The spirit of sturdy independence its members extolled is evident from the very first session of the JYC held at the Ridgeway Hall, Jaffna (later the site of the Jaffna Town Hall) on 29-31 December 1924. In the beginning, leading members included educationalists and others who commanded respect and regard among Tamils, such as Handy Perinpanayagam, J V Chelliah, “Kalai-Pulavar” C S Navaratnam, A E Tambar, “Orator” Subramaniam, I P Thurairatnam, attorneys at law, M S Ilayathamby and T M Suppiah, Bishop S Kulendran and P Nagalingham (later a Senator). The Congress displayed its national consciousness by electing P G S Kularatne as President, a Sinhalese principal of Ananda College, Colombo, at its second Annual General Meeting.

    The Jaffna Youth Congress was the first organization to openly declare that the people of Ceylon do not want to remain under British colonial rule and they agitated for full independence, publicly burning the Union Jack. They did yeoman service in attempting to eradicate caste discrimination and social injustices across the Jaffna peninsula. They invited Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who was later the Prime Minister of India, C Rajagopalachary, later the first Governor- General of India and Mahatma Gandhi, who still remains the Father of the Indian nation, for public lectures.

    Handy Perinbanayagam was the chief organiser and he was assisted by several Jaffna youth, prominent among them being M. Balasunderam and S. Durai Raja Singham. The JYC was the first organisation in that era made up of members from the English-educated class, in Jaffna or elsewhere in the country, to use one of the indigenous languages together with English in the conduct of its business. One of those present at the 1924 Sessions in his speech highlighted the national awakening taking place at that time in the country. He called upon those present to alleviate the suffering of the economically weak, the unemployed, and the oppressed men and women. These laudable objectives, he stressed, may be achieved through a sincere desire to serve the motherland (Kadirgamar 1980; 2012). The emphasis thus was very much on national unity, social justice, and sectarianism. The JYC may be considered as perhaps the earliest true nation builders of Ceylon. They were nationalists of a very special kind as distinct from the narrower type exemplified by G. G. Ponnambalam, S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, the Liberation Tigers of Thamil Eelam, the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna and the Jathika Hela Urumaya and like-minded groups of non-political actors in the country.
    Handy Perinbanayagam (1899–1977) pioneered the movement in Ceylon for total national independence (‘Purna Swaraj’). Inspired by and imbued with the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, he was an educationist of the highest calibre. He fought for the right of a child to be educated in her own native language and for a people’s right to be governed in their own. Handy Perinbanayagam was a remarkable Sri Lankan and citizen of the world.

    He has said and written, “What Sinhala is to the Sinhalese, Tamil ought to be for the Tamils. A minority need not be subordinate to the majority in a free country.”

    And in 1947 he said “In spite of the reverses which the ideal of one Ceylon, Free Ceylon, has received recently we hold our faith in it. The conception of a free country where politics is free from the ideas of race and caste calls for courage and imagination and true statesmanship. We shall not subscribe to anything less than that, for nothing less will save Ceylon.” How very prophetic!

    Handy Perinbanayagam never wavered from his ideal of a united and independent Sri Lanka. He believed utterly and steadfastly in the dignity and equality of all human beings and hence rejected any form of social exclusivity. Handy Perinbanayagam was also, when the occasion demanded it, unconventional and unorthodox in his thinking.

    The educated Sri Lankans of the period around 1920 to mid-1950s — give or take a little — much like Handy Perinbanayagam and others of the JYC, were part of the bilingual intelligentsia of our country. They were not frogs in the well as most of their counterparts appear to be today. Our predecessors, for the most part, were aware of our indigenous traditions and values just as much as they were familiar with traditions and values that are universally valid. They were at home in their indigenous languages as they were with English. We then had the ability and self- confidence to let other cultural winds blow across the length and breadth of our island home and absorb from those winds what was useful and leave out what was of no use. We thus achieved a synthesis of human values which stood us in good stead. It is a pity that we do not manifest that ability and that national self-confidence today.

    To his eternal credit, Handy Perinbanayagam did not join a political party. He remained true to his ideals to the very end. Although the JYC subscribed to egalitarianism, Perinbanayagam was not a Marxist. His vision was broader, far more significant, infinitely more all-encompassing, and humane. The achievement of Handy Perinbanayagam becomes the greater when we remember that his radicalism was nurtured and preserved in an essentially conservative caste-bound feudalistic Ceylon/Sri Lanka. Men of Handy Perinbanayagam’s calibre will forever be remembered by those of us free of narrow political and social agendas for their sincerity and integrity – – qualities sadly not much in evidence today in our badly fractured society.

    The period 1925-1931 was one of significant growth and, in the latter year, the Students’ Congress became the Jaffna Youth Congress. The second Annual Sessions of the Congress were held in Keerimalai in 1925 and was addressed by P. de. S. Kularatne who, it is reported, had his audience of visionary youth spellbound; the third scheduled for April 1926 were postponed to December 1926 and held in Keerimalai, the postponement being due to an outbreak of cholera in Jaffna. The Sessions of 1927 were significant as this was the year Mahatma Gandhi was chief guest at the invitation of Handy Perinbanayagam. One of the key decisions taken at the Annual Sessions of 1928 was to establish similar student organisations in Kandy, Galle and Colombo and in other parts of the country with the eventual aim of setting up an All – Ceylon Students’ Congress. This decision became a reality in May 1931 with the holding of its inaugural meeting at The Plaza Theatre, Wellawatte. Jawaharlal Nehru, at the time holidaying in Sri Lanka, had attended the meeting in Wellawatte. In 1929, the venue for the Annual Sessions of the Jaffna Youth Congress was Kankesanturai whilst that in 1930 was Thirunelvely.

    The Sessions of 1931 are significant as it was at them that the famous or infamous (depending on one’s perspective) ‘Jaffna Boycott’ resolution was passed. This resolution called upon the members of the JYC to refrain from participating in the elections to the State Council as there was no Purna Swaraj or self-government on offer. Earlier the JYC had rejected the Donoughmore Commission’s proposals for the same reason – – for not going far enough in the direction of self-government. In 1931, as noted above, the Jaffna Students’ Congress became the Jaffna Youth Congress. The Seventh Annual Sessions were held at the Jaffna Esplanade with Srimathie Kamaladevi Chattopadhyaya, the sister-in-law of Sarojini Naidu as chief guest.

    1934 is considered to be the year when the decline of the Congress began and the movement began to diminish as a force for change. It is also around this time that leading personalities of the day began to move once more towards sectarianism, moving away from the laudable goal of an overarching Ceylonese – – as opposed to a Tamil or Sinhala nationalism with G. G. Ponnabalam the Tamil Maha Jana Sabhai – and S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike founding the Sinhala Maha Jana Sabha .

    Very little scholarly attention has been paid to the Jaffna Youth Congress by our historians and political scientists.

    Somewhat cursory references to the JYC are found in the following publications: University of Ceylon History of Ceylon Volume 3 From the beginning of 19th Century to 1948, edited by K. M. de Silva (1973), Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism Its Origins and Development in the 19th and 20th Centuries, A.J. Wilson(2000), S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947 – 1977 A Political Biography, A.J. Wilson (1994), A History of Sri Lanka, K.M. de Silva (1st Edition: 1980); (2nd Edition:2005), and Sri Lanka in the Modern Age A History of Contested Identities, Nira Wickramasinghe (2006).

    Interestingly, Murugar Gunasingham, the author of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, A Study of its Origins (Sydney : 1999) chooses to ignore the Jaffna Youth Congress altogether! He makes mention of the Jaffna Association, Jaffna Tamil Association, Jaffna Hindu Youth Society, but makes no reference whatsoever to the Jaffna Youth Congress! A.J. Wilson thought that the JHC was ‘Idealistic and impractical’. According to Wilson, although the Congress’ motives were honourable, it let opportunities pass by. He was one of those who considered the ‘Jaffna Boycott’ a tactical blunder of sorts. Here’s how he put it: “The protest movement (Jaffna Boycott) petered out after two years, but the Tamils had blundered by losing opportunities to secure places in the Board of Ministers, the elective executive under the Donoughmore Constitution.”

    The Youth Congress members performed social services in the villages, and their continual residence in the peninsula combined with such boldness, enthusiasm and almost quixotic idealism, made the Jaffna Youth Congress a very potent force indeed in the Northern Province from 1927 onwards”.

    It may well be that the Jaffna Youth Congress’s call for a boycott was politically naive, ‘quixotic’ or unwise. But, the fact remains that, that decision wise or unwise, was not arrived at on the basis of communalism. It was perhaps a hasty decision taken in an anti-imperialist fervour, but it had nothing to do with communal politics that was rearing its ugly head by this time. In this regard, it must be noted for the record, that neither G.G. Ponnambalam nor S.J.V. Chelvanayakam ever identified with the Jaffna Youth Congress.

  13. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    The modern Northern Province (8,675 square km) is also sparsely populated with the exception of Jaffna Peninsula (approx. 1,110 square km) even today. We have seen that only Jaffna Peninsula could for historical or demographic reasons be considered a traditional homeland of the modern Sri Lanka Tamils if such a concept were to be entertained. Even here the history of Tamil settlement is comparatively recent considering the antiquity of the history of Sri Lanka. “The colonisation of Jaffna by the Tamils cannot be of extreme antiquity” writes H.W. Codrington in his work “Ancient Land Tenure and Revenue in Ceylon” (1938). “Such Sinhalese place names as exist, and they are not a few, are not pre-medival, and the Vaipavanmalai (Yalpana Vaipavanmalai composed in 1736 A.D., by Mailvagna Puravar, an inhabitant of Jaffna Peninsula on the isntructions of the contemporary Dutch administrator of Jaffna, and added to in British times) though unreliable as serious history, records the presence of the Sinhalese in the peninsula in the 15th Century”. K. Balasingham, the eminent Tamil lawyer, politician and scholar writes that “There is no proper history of Jaffna prior to the Arya Chakravartis in 13th century”

    Most of the descendents of old Tamil invaders and traders who came from time to time from the 3rd Century B.C. to the 11th Century A.D., must have settled down in areas now predominantly Sinhalese and got absorbed into the modern Sinhalese population. They could not be among the
    Tamil population of today.

    People identified in modern times as Sri Lanka Tamils are mostly descendents of Malayalees from the Malabar or Kerala coast (Magha of Kalinga-modern Orissa and part of Andhra Pradesh – invaded the country in the 13th century with an army from Kerala), Tamils from the Coromandel coast who came with the advent of the Arya Chakravarti chieftains from the 13th Century onwards, Malays from the armies of the Javaka invader Chandrabhanu (13th century), the Sinhalese who were original settlers as well as migrants from the Vanni when the Dry Zone irrigation systems collapsed, the comparatively few ancient Tamil invaders and nonmilitary immigrants who would have been both original settlers in the Peninsula as well as immigrants from the Vanni after the collapse of the irrigation systems, Paravars (the Bharatha community) who came in Portuguese and Dutch times as pearl divers, soldiers and fishermen, Kalingas (from modern Orissa and Andhra Pradesh), Mukkuvars from the Malabar coast, Arabs, Moors from South
    India, and Portuguese who were given land grants and settled in Jaffna from 1619 to 1658. In 1658, the Dutch followed the Portuguese. The Dutch codified the traditional legal system of Jaffna, but in such a way that they interpreted indigenous caste customs in line with Roman-Dutch definitions of slavery. Taking advantage of the situation, agriculturalists of the dominant Vellala caste turned to cash-crop agriculture using Pallar slaves brought from southern India, and Jaffna soon became one of the most lucrative sources of revenue in the entire Dutch Colonial empire. In 1796, the British expelled the Dutch from the island. During the first four decades of British rule, few changes were made with the exception of granting freedom of religious affiliation and worship, a move that was deeply appreciated by the Tamil population. Slavery was abolished in 1844, but the change in legal status brought few meaningful changes to the status of Pallar and other low-caste laborers.
    Mukkuvar (also Mukkuva) are originally from East coast of Tamil Nadu who then migrated to Kerala, Sri Lanka and Lakshdweep – a caste—primarily a fishing community—living in the coastal districts of Kerala and south Tamil Nadu in India and also in Sri Lanka. They are also found in Lakshadweep islands off India but are called as Melacherries.
    Although they may be an insignificant community in India, their social and numerical position makes them an important community in Sri Lanka. Mukkuva Chiefs controlled large areas of lands in the western and eastern coast of Sri Lanka. This came about due to their military raiding parties during the medieval period that was recorded in local historical records such as the Kokila Sandesya as the Mukkara Hatana or the fight of the Mukkaru.
    When Mukkuvar came from India a fishing caste called Thimilar were already living in the Eastern Sri Lanka. With the help of another group of people who came to Batticaloa from India called Pattaniar who are believed to be Muslim traders from South India, for business they defeated the Thimilar and chased them away to erugal which is a boundary village of between Batticaloa and Trincomalee districts. The name of some villages are seemed to be the monuments of this war. A village near the modern Batticaloa town called Sathurukondan which in Tamil means a place where enemies were killed. A place where the warriors who chased after the retreating Thimilar came back with victory and met together called Santhiwelli. A place where warriors rested and celebrated the victory was called Vanthaarumoolai where the Eastern University of Sri Lanka is located today.The place where the Mukkuvar settled the Muslims who assisted them to prevent the Thimilar from returning is called Eravoor (derived from Erathu= prevent re-immigrant Oor=place or village) which is today a Muslim majority town within the Batticalo district. Mukkuivars’ MAKIDY KOOTHU (dance and drama) mentions about migration from Kerala.
    Nalavar is a Sri Lankan Tamil caste of traditional agriculturalists and toddy tapers. It is a unique caste as one of the Tamil castes that is not found in India. Nalavar are derived from a Sinhalese social group speculated to be Nilavo that was left behind during the ascendancy of the Jaffna Kingdom. The caste NAADAAR in TAMIL NADU and the Nalavar in North Sri Lanka are very similar in many aspects mainly the toddy tapping, because of Nalavar majority in Jaffna town, and their bold behavior some how over come the caste issue.
    Some historians such as Mudaliar Rasanayagam have speculated that Koviar are assimilated Sinhalese belonging to the Govigama caste with the ascendancy of the Jaffna kingdom. Mudaliar Rasanayagma made the speculation based on the fact that Koviar caste was not found in South India but the census figures for 1881 lists a Koviar caste in the Madras Presidency in South India.
    The ancestry of the Sri Lanka Tamils of the present time therefore is not clear. This has been an embarrassment to modern day Tamil historians, lawyers and politicians. Hindu law has no application to Hindu Tamils (most of them Saivite) in this country. The Tamils of the Northern Province are governed with respect to certain subjects by customary rules of the locality known as Thesavalamai (codified by the Dutch in 1707) i.e., customs of the region. The Thesavalamai applied according to the codifiers to “the Malabar Inhabitants of the Province of Jaffna”. The Malabar coast is in Kerala. One of the principal features of the Thesavalamai, the right of pre-emption among co-owners, is derived from Muslim customary law personal to Mohammedans in India and unknown to Hindu customary law.
    The Tamils of the Eastern Province are not governed by the Thesavalamai. They are subject to the Roman-Dutch law. The Mukkuvars of the Eastern Province are governed by their own Mukkuva law. Whether they are Malayalees who later adopted the Tamil language or were originally Tamils is a moot point. Some Paravars are Tamil speaking, while others are Sinhalese speaking and even bilingual. That the descendants of such disparate forebears have welded themselves by the unifying force of Saivism and the Tamil language into a racial group with a distinct and distinguished culture, though divided by caste, is a remarkable cultural achievement.

  14. myopinion24 Says:

    The above provides a much broader base to form a historical perspective of issues in Sri Lanka. I think grabbing bits and pieces of historical facts to wrap a point of view and disguise it as an intelectual work of unique proportions is extremly dangerous .

  15. Dilrook Says:

    Unity in diversity must happen within the overarching Sinhala language and culture. There is no unity in diverse nationalities except for international relations. The good news is it is happening. Muslims – the new single largest minority – is fluent in Sinhala and the small niches that are still illiterate in Sinhala are catching up. Upcountry Tamils are almost entirely Sinhala fluent. This will lead to assimilation and the total dismantling of Tamil aspirations based on exclusivity.

  16. myopinion24 Says:

    Assimilation is evolutionary and not really a strategy. If one relies on assimilation to preserve an existing culture then perhaps people are being optimistic. Assimilation of the type discussed does not necessarily result in the acceptance of all the traits of the dominant culture , more likely if one is to look at various examples the dominant culture weakens and the culture/group doing the assimilation does it for more pragmatic and economic reasons than allegiance to a particular language or religion. The positive aspect of this is that the assimilating group by default does show patriotism to the country

  17. May182009 Says:

    “Depletion of the Tamil population in the north and east has given a golden opportunity to the government to create a multi ethnic north through settling people other than Tamils there. This opportunity must not be missed.”

    Exactly! We have been harping on this for a long time.

    What needs to happen is what DS Senanayake (Father of the nation) did – colonization. People will make their own relationships at their own pace. Thanks to colonization, we are now able to weaken Tamil racist political parties. I hope the government will do the same as Father of the nation did.

    Colonize the north. No need to get anyone’s approval. Just do it. Then the ethnic problem will be history as in the East compared to the Tamil only racist north.

  18. lingamAndy Says:

    End of the day these our sort sided head of leader (Ponnambalam & Bandaranaike) had good life (cinnonan garden ) & natural dead ! But Have We ? No !

    May182009, Colonize the north. No need to get anyone’s approval- fully agrred !

  19. Fran Diaz Says:

    Here is a YouTube presentation on the history of Tamil Separatism. Also shows the part played by G.G. Ponnambalam in all the sad history of the misled Tamil people of Lanka.

  20. Fran Diaz Says:

    No one can ‘colonize’ their own country. Colonists must essentially come from abroad. Illegal migrants can be classified as a type of ‘colonists’. However, as true born Sri Lankans we can ‘settle’ in any part of the country. We should settle in different parts and make the country multi-ethnic and enjoy each others different cultures in peace & progress.

    TNA politics is to boost the TNA politicians as well as Tamil Nadu leaders. Tamils of Sri Lanka do not benefit from TNA type politics. TNA type politics will only lead to Caste bound dissent and misery for all – no peace, no progress. Tamil people : Choose your future leaders wisely so that your children will live in peace.

  21. Lorenzo Says:

    USA pressing govt to hold the NPC election. They will have to do it very soon (they gave into ALL other demands).

    TNA will DEFINITELY WIN it. They ALWAYS won.

    The problem is NOT TNA. The problem is Tamil people in NPC who ALWAYS vote for Tamil or Dravida RACIST parties in BOTH SL and TN.

    Until we ACCEPT this reality this problem cannot be resolved. But banning TNA will give a huge boost to other parties in the short run until another Tamil racist party is established.


    “Tamil people : Choose your future leaders wisely so that your children will live in peace.”

    We both know they will NOT do so. They have NEVER done so since 1947 and now they will not change it.

  22. May182009 Says:

    Fran Diaz

    Colonization is the word used by the governments of DS Senanyake, Dudley Senanayake and JR Jayawardena.

    It is correct by the English meaning and those who colonize need not essentially come from abroad. They can be anyone.

    What must happen is to change the ethnic composition of the north. It is never going to happen voluntarily. State sponsorship is a must. Until then Tamils will always vote for TNA like parties. There is no real need for northern Tamils to vote for multiethnic parties until they have to work with multiethnic neighbours.

  23. Fran Diaz Says:

    May 182009,

    While I dislike to quibble over meaning of words, I must say that the word ‘colonisation’ is used too loosely by Sri Lankans. To ‘colonize’ one must essentially GO ABROAD. The dictionaries define a ‘colony’ as “a body of people who settle in a new country …”.
    This is not the case where Sri Lankans move or settle down in other parts of Lanka.

    If we say we ‘colonize’ the north, then we are admitting our people are moving to ‘another country’. D.S. and others may have used the term in a rather vague manner in those days, as was the style then. We ought to use the correct terminology now, as all this has become an international issue. Using the correct terms will ensure a good outcome in any debate.

    I agree with you that “What must happen is to change the ethnic composition of the north. It is never going to happen voluntarily. State sponsorship is a must. Until then Tamils will always vote for TNA like parties. There is no real need for northern Tamils to vote for multiethnic parties until they have to work with multiethnic neighbours”.


    The other word we tend to use liberally but inaccurately is ‘Diaspora’ when we refer to Tamils abroad.
    Strictly speaking, Tamil people abroad are ‘Tamil Economic Refugees’, (TERs), and do not fall into the meaning of the word ‘Diaspora’, where there is a scattering of people due to loss of their homeland. Tamil homeland is Tamil Nadu, and Tamil Nadu is intact. Tamil people cannot have two exclusive homelands, one in South India and another in Lanka. In Sri Lanka, they are Sri Lankan Tamils. Tamils who have fled Tamil Nadu due to Caste/poverty issues may be called Tamil Diaspora. It would be true to say that some Sri Lankan Tamils were part of the Tamil Diaspora who had fled Tamil Nadu homeland due to caste persecution.

    TERs can come back to Sri Lanka any time. Nothing prevents them coming back to Sri Lanka. People of a Diaspora are prevented from coming back to their homeland, as was the case of the Jewish people. Since Israel has been recreated and Jewish people are welcome back to their homeland, and there is no Jewish Diaspora now.

  24. Fran Diaz Says:

    Also, if we are to loosely accept the word ‘colonise’, in that case Tamils are ‘colonising’ the South and the rest of Lanka. We never say that. Why ?

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