Wigneswaran Damanaya (taming the shrew!) – Part II
Posted on February 16th, 2015

C. Wijeyawickrema

Given below is an essay printed in the Island newspaper on May 23/25, 2009, a few days after the defeat of Prabakaran, which now appears to me as a waste of my time and energy, playing violin to a deaf elephant. However, I find the two parts of this essay and several others written by me then have relevance in tackling the Wigneswaran genocide document of Feb 10, 2015, by ignoring it!

This Wigneswaran thing is nothing but a rehash of the 1976 Vaddukoddei thing or the Thimpu-Oslo thing or 2003-4 ISGA-PTOM things or the 2009 GCTCSL thing, mentioned below.  Freed from Ranil-Managala-CBK-Raajitha, black-white federal influence, president Maithreepala, could solve this so-called Tamil separatist issue, once and for all, if he takes the Buddhist Middle Path. When two ex-Indian presidents, not born as Buddhists, recently declared that the solutions to world’s problems could be found via Buddhism” they must have meant the application of the formula, 4NT+8NP, in a secular setting.

Digging from the past writings (I am tired of writing anew), an attempt will be made to present that solution, which, if followed then, would have made Sri Lanka, a model state for the world by now. It was a national tragedy that one or two individuals took a decision to cancel the Jana Sabha Director General’s Office, and to derail the successful Gami Diriya Village Development Program, reminiscent of the Rural Development and Crime Eradication Society Program floated by the late Ven. Kalukondayawe Panngasekara MahaThero in the 1940s, with the support of ASP Osmand de Silva (police) and Justice Akbar (Muslim supreme court judge).


Concerned Tamil citizens and the ‘Karuna paradigm’
Give us what Colombo gets – Karuna

by C. Wijeyawickrema

Continued from Monday [5/23/2009]

A moderates’ dilemma

Karuna Amman

One does not become a ‘moderate’ because there are or there were ‘extremists’. These labels (definitions) are relative terms. They are contextual and time and space dependent. Israel’s Arial Sharon is a good example. The Jews in the settlements that he helped to create for decades later wanted to kill him for asking them to leave the settlements. But the objective-reasonable definition, then and now, is that the Jews settlements are illegal acts of invading and robbing Palestinian lands. The reasonableness test is not just a dilemma affecting only the Tamil moderates (ref. Prof. Rajan Hoole’s human rights award, The Island, 10/16/2007). It affects all other Colombo-based English-speaking Sinhala folks too. For example, recently another eminent citizens’ group totally ignored the bahubootha nature of the present constitution and pleaded for the implementation of its 17th Amendment to save democracy in Sri Lanka (The Island, 3/7/2009).

Separatist paradigm

The world-wide expat Tamils cry based on the fact that “There is no state without a Tamil, but there is no state for the Tamils” (World Confederation of Tamils, www.tamilnation.org, 2006) could be a reasonable cry, but it gets in to trouble when the question of where it should be located is raised. It could not be established in the Fiji Islands or in Malaysia or even in the Tamil homeland of Tamil Nadu. In the case of the Jews, prior to the selection of the present location, there was a proposal to establish a Jews country somewhere in Canada. Liberia was created for the black slaves in America who wanted to leave USA. Was the tiny island of Sri Lanka a prized target because of the unavailability of another location? Unfortunately, geography, history and geopolitics do not support this plan. The attempt to implement it by cyanide pills and by children and pregnant women wearing bras and underwear laden with suicide explosives ended up in disaster. “You cannot legislate against geography” (The Island, 2/22/2006).

The Tamil separatist prison

GCTCSL [group of concerned Tamil citizens of Sri Lanka, The Island, 5/18/2009], statement does not give the impression that it has come out of the separatist prison that a former C.J., M.C. Sansoni had clearly identified—if the Tamils’ cry for separatism is given up, the two communities could solve their problems and continue to live in amity and dignity (Sessional Paper No. 7 of 1980). The prison was created by two Tamil Christians living in Colombo, GG Ponnambalam and SJV Chelvanayakam. SWRD once gave an honest description of the prisoner SJVC. SWRD said (Hansard vol. 31 (June 3, 1958) cols. 244-5) ” [he is surely] one of the most dangerous types of human beings in the world, quite in his own way sincere, in his own way an idealist, but having no idea whatsoever of reality and the practical side of things. Very dangerous people, such people are capable of deluding themselves completely, capable of deluding others too” ((“S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and the crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism, 1947-77: a political biography” written by the late A. J. Wilson (1994), son-in-law of SJVC, page 10). This assessment applies to Prabakaran’s character as well.

After the July 1970 General Elections SJVC felt “only God can help the Tamils” (Wilson, page 114). Ironically, SJVC lost that status in 1975, when he garlanded a statute of Sivakumaran, who committed suicide after trying to assassinate a superintendent of police. By then SJVC was convinced that the only alternative was to fight to the end for a Tamil Nad (Wilson, page 127). SJVC followed a rigid policy to become the Ali Jinna of Sri Lankan Tamils. The Ilankai Thamil [Kosovo?] plan was floated first by SJV Chelvanayakam in Dec 1949. In 1952 SJVC talked about the Yugoslav model aiming at “another Pakistan in Ceylon” (Wilson, p. 42). At SJVC’s funeral, Rt. Rev. Lakshman Wickremasinghe identified SJVC (who belonged to the Church of South India) as a Tamil Moses (Wilson, page 73). Wilson also thought that SJVC was hailed as the “prophet-seer of the Tamil people” (Wilson, page 82).

The Sinhala prisoners in Colombo

Prabakaran became heir to SJVC’s baggage until Col. Karuna and Daya Master went and identified P’s dead body yesterday (5/18/2009?). Until and unless the Tamil moderates in Colombo abandon the separatist path and come out of the box they will fail again for another 33 years in bringing peace to themselves and peace and prosperity to the poor Tamils in villages. Almost all of the Sinhala politicians in Colombo had no genuine desire to help either the Tamil or the Sinhala villagers other than paying lip service. They wanted to maintain their benefits and privileges under a Colombo paradigm which in turn helped sustain the separatist sub-paradigm.

These Sinhala politicians became prisoners to SJVC’s paradigm since 1924 and behaved reacting to it either in an opportunistic political power mode or a life-saving fear mode. For example, when black cats came to Colombo 7 waiting at road junctions they hurriedly started offering devolution packages, offering the Northern Province to P for 15 years, providing arms to P, feeding them in five-star hotels in Colombo, PTOMS, and finally the nefarious CFA 2002. They even addressed the terrorist agent Anton Balasingham “His Excellency!” Only after the closure of the Marvil Aru anicut by P, a president who came from a different background decided to come out of the mental prison of reacting to separatism by feeding it. The B-C and D-C pacts were attempts to cure a cancer by feeding it. God Vishnu saved Sri Lanka by derailing those attempts. Giving land powers to a group claiming a Tamil homeland is like ‘providing ladders to monkeys’!

The Karuna paradigm

In 2007 Col. Karuna effectively killed the separatist paradigm using just five words—”give us what Colombo gets.” This was what the JVP said in 1971 and the Youth Commission repeated in 1990, in the aftermath of the 1988-89 mass killings. Sri Lanka did not have an ethnic problem but a socio-economic mismanagement problem. Col. Karuna is learning both English and Sinhala, and he did not get a western education. He was an ordinary village Tamil from Batticaloa, who is a minister of the government at present. But this former rebel who was once part of the Prabakaran killing machine has shown more wisdom than GG Ponnambalam-SJV Chelvanayakam duo in the past or Lakshman Kadirargama-Jeyaraj Fernandopulle twins of the more recent times. The last two became so popular among the Sinhala people (Sinhala-Tamils just like the Sinhala-Marikkar in 1956), yet they thought that Sri Lanka needed a federal system. Karuna’s position is in agreement with the pragmatic approach stated in the Mahinda Chinthanaya Programme. The President’s victory speech to the Parliament on 5/19/2009 promised a home-grown political solution and not an Indian-type solution envisaged by Karu Jayasuriya (as reported in The Island, 5/20/2009).

Col. Karuna – a Tamil traitor?

While even one or two cabinet ministers are promoting a plan to give police and land powers to PCs under the 13-A, Col. Karuna presented the reasonable and workable approach to help the Tamil people (not Colombo-living Tamil leaders) by declaring that police and land powers were not needed for PC’s to serve the region. This approach of Col. Karuna also derails the demand for Tamil homelands. Just like in the past any Tamil politician who tried to work in collaboration with Sinhala politicians were branded and even killed as traitors (Alfred Duraiyappa, SLFP Mayor of Jaffna in 1975), Colombo District MP Mano Ganeshan recently branded Karuna as a traitor for not demanding a 13-A plus formula (Colombo politics vs. Col. Karuna, The island, 4/20/2009).

The scenes of Jaffna Tamils demonstrating carrying the lion flag, the horror stories we see from the IDPs clearly indicate that the average Tamil is not asking for any kind of devolution of powers or PCs just like the average Sinhala person in the South did not ask for PCs. At this stage all what they want is infrastructure to meet with their basic human needs, and then leave them alone. These Tamils do not ask for a Tamil king. For all of them PCs are white elephants imposed upon them by a Colombo politician humiliated by Dixit and Rajiv Gandhi. 13-A is nothing but an introduction of the communal system (Hindu-Muslim) implemented in India by the Government of India Act of 1935. Hence, continuation of a 13-A system, other than for a short time until a home-grown solution is invented will be a sure method of allowing the cancer of separatism to raise its head again sooner or later. Tamil diaspora with vested interests and the Tamil separatists in Tamil Nadu will exploit this situation with the direct and indirect support of white politicians in the West who want conflicts and instability to make profit and sell weapons.

Empowerment of people with Language-blind political units

What Sri Lanka needs is not devolution (division) of the power pie with a new group of Tamil politicians. The devolution in the South under the 13-A created nurseries for older politicians to train their kith and kin on how to make money in politics. What Sri Lanka needs is empowerment of people at the lowest spatial unit level possible, the village council level. In India this is done with the constitutionally resurrected Panchayathi Raj Institutes. In Sri Lanka the village unit was centered on a water reservoir or a series of reservoirs. Village unit was the lowest level of a hierarchy of larger-major reservoirs or river basins. A detailed discussion of this subject can be found in two essays printed in The Island newspaper (Language-blind regional development units, 10/25/2006; APRC and the bioregional vision, 2/25/2009).

In Sri Lanka these village councils can be readjusted using river basins as their boundaries. Within a give village, town or urban council, wards also can follow hydrologic demarcations wherever possible. Village council unit is the best approach because it is a “human scale” (Small Is Beautiful!). It is ecologically sound vis-à-vis global warming, deforestation, landslides, flood and drought). By demarcating political units on a language-blind basis people will think of their personal aspirations in a non-confrontational manner at the local level. Still, if Tamils or Muslims (or even Catholics in the Bible belt) want larger spatial units for the spatial display of their public aspirations (as demanded by the late Kumar Ponnambalam, who lived in Colombo), there is the possibility of lower units becoming members of a higher level system of hierarchy. For example, in the Northern Province there can be Tamil-majority regional, district or a provincial unit. Muslims would be able to have at least several regional and/or a district level unit in the Eastern Province.

Discrimination for 6 decades

As a Sinhala Buddhist from a village, I have no doubt that I faced caste [being a govigama!] and class discrimination in Sri Lanka much more than the 13 Tamil signatories to the statement at issue, if they ever experienced ‘discrimination’. We faced social and economic discrimination too. Only 16 miles from Colombo we did not have teachers who knew how to teach English (as a foreign language) or geography. It was this kind of discrimination and deprivation that led to the 1971 JVP rebellion. When I worked at the cement factory in Puttalam, Tamil workers and officers at KKS cement factory did not want to come on transfer to Puttalam even on promotion. Those who were forced to come went home for weekends and did not want to settle down in Puttalam.

I once proudly selected a young Tamil woman for a Sinhala typist/clerk job at KKS because she could tell me at least four meanings for the Sinhala word dada—Brahmin, flag, skin-rash, world. I asked her how she learned it. She said her brother was always urging her to learn Sinhala. By learning Sinhala she did not become Sinhalized. Apparently, she followed Rousseau’s advice—Do the opposite of what politicians say. When we wanted to learn Tamil at Peradeniya in 1963, the B Room was overflowing with students, but suddenly it was stopped (by the influence of A.J. Wilson?). Colombo-living Tamil politicians’ children learned Sinhala, but poor village Tamils were prevented from learning it. How can a Tamil teacher or a doctor work in the south if s/he does not know the language of the people in that part of the country?

In July 1983, the IGP and the six DIGs were all Tamils. GeorgeMaster escaped after drawing his pension from the post office. Paskaralingam and Siva Pasupathi must be still getting their government pension. The discrimination for six decades is a matter this simple to explain. The decision to make Sinhala the official language in 1956 must be compared with the decision to make Hindi the official language in India in 1949. Gandhi used to ridicule Tamil Leaders for not knowing Hindi. With growing Tamil Nadu separatist threats there was fear that Sinhala language was under attack (“Sinhala [language]’s survival as a clearly Indo-Aryan language can be considered a minor miracle of linguistic and cultural history” James W. Gair, Studies in South Asian Linguistics: Sinhala and other South Asian languages, 1998, Chapter 14: How Dravidanized was Sinhala phonology? Pages 185-199).

A better job could have been done in this regard but it was not aimed at humiliating Tamils. “Lower caste” Tamils entered the Peradeniya University in the 1960s because English was not the medium of instruction. Now in 2009, if Tamil and Sinhala students are taught the other’s language from grade 3, then in 10 years there will be no discussion of devolution or discrimination. The question is whether the Tamil moderates and the western white politicians with vested interests would be willing to keep their mouths shut. They would not call it Tamilization of Sinhalaese but Sinhalization of Tamils! When SJVC lost his tea estates under nationalization he branded it as Sinhalization of tea estates!



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