Distorting history to  promote Tamil politics
Posted on June 14th, 2016

H. L. D. Mahindapala

One of the main obstacles standing in the way reconciliation, based on a reasonable and lasting solution, is the refusal of the Jaffna Tamils to face the realities of their history. By and large, the average Tamil knows  only two kinds of history : 1. a distorted view of the Mahavamsa – the main target of the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist propaganda campaign launched by G. G. Ponnambalam in the thirties and 2. glorified tales of a Tamil kingdom and Tamil culture, which they claim preceded that of  the Sinhala-Buddhists, and, therefore, entitled to a homeland consisting of the  north and  the east. Tamils know more about  the demonised Mahavamsa than their own  history. Hardly any of  them had even  heard of Yalapana Vaipava Malai, written  by poet Mylvaganam. They are also surprised that there was a Vellahla betel seller called Moddeley Tambi, the Father of Vellahlas, who led a revolt against the Dutch.  They believe in the Tesawalamai only because it is the Jaffna-centric Bible that protects the casteist rights  of  the Vellahlas.

They are also very sensitive about their history. It  is partly because they don’t have a respectable history which can bring glory to them, despite their claim to antiquity. When  the Jaffna Tamils boast of the Tamil culture they don’t mean a home-grown  culture produced creatively by the migrant settlers who came from S. India in and around the 13th century. No. They mean the rich culture of S. India – the only historical homeland of the Tamils.  Culturally, Jaffna is as dry as its land. Nor did they create a humane political culture. From Sankilli who killed 600 innocent Catholics in 1544 to Velupillai Prabhakaran their historical icons have been the worst killers and oppressors  of Tamils. They hate to be  reminded of their history that denied the basic human rights to their fellow-Tamils. After all, at the end of their so-called great Tamil history they are left with only one great hero : Velupillai Prabhakaran, the Tamil Pol Pot who killed more Tamils than all the others put  together. He inherited and  executed with ruthless commitment  the  fascist culture  of Vellahlas, his political  fathers, who never hesitated to kill their disobedient slaves. His DNA runs way back into the blood stream  of Sankilli, the first mass killer of dissident Tamils. Hopefully, he will be the last Tamil to kill Tamils on a mass scale.

They are also sensitive about their history because they have mounted their claim for a separate state based on a fictitious geography and concocted history. They detest any counter-narratives as they tend to tear apart  their political claims for a separate state. For instance, during the 33 years of the Vadukoddai War they put the lid on the war crimes and crimes against the Tamils by the Tamils claiming that it would undermine the war effort. They would kill (Mrs. Ragini Thiranagama) or beat within an  inch of the last breath (D.B.S. Jeyaraj) anyone who dared to challenge their version of events. Now they rush to censor counter-narratives saying that it would hinder the current political process in which they are hoping to go beyond of 13A to a federal state, or  to the nearest point  of a separate state. However, in the  post-Prabhakaran period new winds are blowing, opening up vistas for counter-narratives challenging the conventional and populist version of blaming the Sinhala-Buddhists.

If the current political process of  the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government  is to go anywhere near peace then it has to go beyond the history manufactured by G. G. Ponnambalam and S. J. V. Chelvanayakam in the latter’s Vadukoddai Resolution. The hidden history of  Jaffna must be revealed to the Tamils, warts and all. So far the Tamils have been taught a Talibanised history, sanitised to glorify its fascist past and demonise the Sinhala-Buddhists. That is a recipe for hate, not reconciliation. The latest chapter was written by Chief Minister, C. V. Wigneswaran who condemned all the Sinhala leaders, from the day of Independence, as genocidal killers of Tamils. When such hysteria is spewed out by a former Supreme Court judge it is difficult to understand how he managed to the balance the evidence before him and delivered an objective  judgement. This is  hate politics designed to take the Tamils down the road  to Nandikadal.

This reflects the thinking of the Tamils at the apex. It is also aimed at bringing out of the poisonous venom that warps the narrow minds of bigoted Tamils. How has  Wigneswaran’s distortion helped  the understanding history? How has it helped  reconciliation and peace? Wigneswaran is  carrying  on the hate politics promoted by Ponnambalams and Chelvanayakams.It is this pattern of distorting history for immediate political gain that contributed significantly to exacerbate the North – of South relations. Future reconciliation depends on revisiting the Tamil past and evaluating the pros and cons more  rationally, objectively, based on historical evidence rather than mono-ethnic extremism that can  lead to another bloody crawl to Nandikadal. .

They live in perpetual fear of their known/mythical universe crumbling under the scrutiny of testable evidence. Knowing the fallacies on which their politics is based, they give as much gas as they could to convince the world that they have been the victims  of Sinhala-Buddhist majority. Simultaneously, they use every far-fetched strand of history to push their mono-ethnic political agenda. As stated by the brothers, Ratnajeevan and Rajan Hoole, the Vellahla intellectuals who dominate the Tamil ideology would not open up space for a counter-narrative. It is quite  plain now that they would  go to extreme lengths to cover-up their past like the way the cats claw the ground to cover-up their smelly stuff. They would come charging in, baring their claws, if anyone  dared to put out a counter-narrative to the conventional one which blames only the Sinhala-Buddhists. They would exert maximum pressure to silence those presenting a counter-narrative.

Right now their political mythology is  facing  a  challenge from the narrative  of Mrs. Subramanium Sivagami, alias ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s. Her book Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil  is exposing the lies propagated by the Prabhakaranists. Ben Bavinck’s diaries too are a severe blow to the sanitised account  of the Tamil Pol Potist  history. The pioneers in this field like the Hoole brothers, Rajan and Ratnajeevan,  had to pay a heavy price for their beliefs. Others like Prof. K. Indrapala, who began his career in historiography by presenting the known facts, recanted under intense pressure, and went back to rewrite his own history to suit the Vadukoddai political agenda. So did Prof. A. J. Wilson, the son-in-law of the father of Tamil separatism. His first explanation for the success of democracy in Sri Lanka, despite all its infirmities, was the impact of Buddhism. Later, as he drew closer to his father-in-law’s separatist  ideology, he veered to the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist ideology. Politicising history and sociology to serve the Tamil separatist agenda has been one  of the primary causes that worsened the inter-ethnic relations.

Whenever these re-writers  of  history reach a point beyond which they can’t go to cook the books, they withdraw into a conspiracy of  silence, particularly when it comes to hiding the seamy side of their  past. However, a new trend is emerging to expose this cover-up. A more convincing counter-narrative is gaining momentum questioning the mono-causal theory of blaming the Sinhala-Buddhist. Bit by  bit the one-sided Ponnambalam-Chelvanayakam  narrative  is coming apart at the seams. The political advantages they gained by maintaining  a silence about  their  crimes against their  own people are being  demolished under the weight of the new evidence. Having washed their hands off any guilt by passing the buck to the Sinhala-Buddhists, the Tamil elite was sitting pretty as if they had noting to do with the events that dragged  their people  all the way to Nandikadal. But those who took refuge behind  their calculated silence, knowing what happened in history, can no  longer wash their  hands off their guilt. There is no piety in silence any more. Their role  is no longer  tenable. Foreign-funded research centres which never dared to peep over  the cadjan curtain into the dark recesses of Jaffna  society will have to invest more  money to dig  up new excuses to cover-up the  brutal crimes of the  Tamil leadership and their political failures. Blaming  the Sinhala south for  the historical failures of the Tamil leadership has run out of steam. No one is buying Wigneswaran’s resolution passed  in the Northern Provincial Council like the way they bought the Vadukoddai Resolution.

International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) and Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA) headed by Tamil political activists will have to revisit the  past and revise the distortions of  history they deliberately manufactured to promote the Tamil political agenda as defined in the Vadukoddai Resolution. Though they claimed to be human rights activists they did not actively pursue programmes to combat the fascist tyranny of the one-man regime run by Tamil Pol Pot. Their agenda was aimed at appeasing mono-ethnic Tamil extremism  disguised as minority rights. They manufactured a political vocabulary, ideology and a doxology to praise and justify the evil Genie that came out of the Vadukoddai bottle. A remarkable coincidence is that the political agendas of ICES, CPA, National Peace Council etc., each scratching each other’s back except when  they were fighting for the donor’s foreign funds, did not deviate one millimetre from the prescribed agenda in the Vadukoddai Resolution. On the contrary, they engaged in research to rewrite history in accordance with the claims of  the Vadukoddai Resolution.

For instance, pundits like Pakia” Saravanamuttu (PS) who boasts of running a leading research center for good governance has never dared to look at the evil staring in his face. His labours have been to demonise the elected governments of the south ( a variation of the theme of Wigneswaran blaming all Sinhala leaders) and not the fascist regime / culture of the north.. He is the one-eyed jack who  claims to hold a Ph.D from a Western university. He seems to be acting on the assumption that he is a latter day Moses who has gone up the mountain in the American embassy and brought down the commandments dictated to him by his Yankee Yahweh for the good of the natives. Besides, licking Western boots has made him act like the proverbial monkeys who never see any evil, hear no evil, or speak no evil about the thing  happening  on the other side of the cadjan curtain. After such knowledge, what forgiveness”? Turning a blind eye to the side he favours politically and focusing  sharply on the side he demonises  is not  the best  route to find the truth. His partisan politics is demonstrated amply and shamefully in legal suits. He  has repeatedly sued the Government of Sri Lanka and boasts of his successes. (Good on him!). But he never took Prabhakaran to court, not even to the kangaroo courts in the Vanni. Why?

Taking on the elected government is another way of accusing them publicly in the eyes of the international court of public opinion. But Prabhakaran was allowed to go scot  free. Why? Was it because he considered Prabhakaran to be a  milk-white baby that had to be protected from public scrutiny? Or was it because it was politically disadvantageous to expose the crimes of the Tamil Pol Pot in the Vannni? Of course, he could not plead ignorance of what was happening behind the cadjan curtain because the intrepid University Teachers for  Human Rights (Jaffna) was in the forefront exposing the grim realities on the ground. So what excuse was there for PS and his  hired gangs to be silent? Their vociferous anger was directed only at the elected state and not at the unelected fascist regime of the Tamil Tigers. The total effect of their silence was to be the unacknowledged partners of Prabhakaran’s one-man  regime pursuing inhuman rights. Their sham courage was in challenging the democratic state. But where was their courage in challenging Prabhakaran, committing war  crimes  and crimes  against  humanity?

Tamils massacring Tamils in the name of Tamils is the equivalent of Hitlerism, Stalinism and Pol Potism rolled into one. PS and  his gang maintained a grim silence. They did not  shed even crocodile  tears for the victims  of  the Tamil tyranny. According  to Shamindra Ferdinando, Deputy Editor of The Island. the Pakias” in NGOs had collected 28 million  dollars over the years. They were paid by their foreign masters to be the watchdogs of political morality. With $28 million all the Pakias” could  have monitored  even the quality of the water in Velupillai’s swimming pool in the Vanni? They had the resources, they had the right, they had the ability. But they did nothing. Are they not guilt of Goebbelsian crimes when they  fabricated excuses /  arguments which amounted to justifying the violence of the Tamil Pol Pot? What was their morality worth if  it could  not identify the evil that was destroying  the Tamils?

The hired human  rights activists, serving the interests of the American Embassy more  than the victims of the Tamil tyranny, knew the agony and the misery of the Tamils under the Tamil Pol Pot. The following snippet from Bavinck’s diary recorded on December 12, 1990 reveals the plight of the Tamils under Tamil fascism: ”In a long conversation with my friend Daya (Somasunderam), he remarked that there was increasing thought control by the Tigers. All news, which the people hear or read, is totally biased: for example, that it was the government which started the fighting in June, or that the attack on the mosque in Kattankudi was carried out by the army…..

On October 5, 1990, Bavinck wrote : The attitude of the Tigers to people with different points of view is implacable. The whole of society is being watched by a network, composed of confidential committees in the villages, called sittooravai. These committees report on anyone who expresses himself carelessly or acts suspiciously. Complete families have been arrested. The Tigers’ torture practice, reportedly, is terrible. Many detainees have been killed. I heard a story where a Tiger cadre read out a list of 200 victims, after which, he himself burst into tears.”

The depressing picture drawn by Bavinck reveals that the chances of peace were remote because the necessary conditions for peace were not pursued by the Pol Potist state. The NGOs were holding seminars in the  south to change the  opinion of the Sinhala-Buddhist. But what programmes were they running to inform the Tamil electorate to change their mono-ethnic extremism? Blaming the Sinhala government” or the Sinhala-Buddhist culture was the standard excuse of intellectual humbugs from H. L. Seneviratne in USA or Paki” Saravanumuttus in Sri Lanka and it is their clapping with one hand that helped Prabhakaran  to shoot his way through with both hands.

What shines through Bavinck’s account is his moral clarity, his ability to cut out the theoretical cant and assess events as objectively as possible to  reflect the grim realities faced by the Tamil people caught  in the cross-fire. It  is the Tamils of Jaffna who had to face the brunt of the exploding violence. On top of the violence the people of Jaffna also had live under the most trying conditions imposed b by the one-man regime of Prabhakaran. They even  siphoned off the food  and  medicine sent by the Sri Lankan government – the only government that supplied  essentials to a rebel-held territory, according  to David Feng of UN – to the Tamil civilians. Their lack of honesty and integrity make them the intellectual scums bags thriving on the misery of the Tamil people.  Bavinck, on the contrary, displays consistently a genuine concern for the victims of a needless war. He  doesn’t hide behind hypocritical morality of saving peace by saving Prabhakaran. That was totally unrealistic.

Peace was unattainable as long as Prabhakaran was allowed to hold the kalashnikov in one hand and a hand grenade in the other.  Prabhakaran was committed to fight until death to achieve his Eelam. He has told his lieutenants to kill him if he settles for anything less. So how was PS going to establish peace with a megalomaniac like Prabhakaran who  was using violence as a bargaining chip at the negotiating table? PS knew that the final outcome of stopping the war would result only in saving Prabhakaran to fight another day. Besides, Prabhakaran had killed all the peace-makers – Rajiv Gandhi, President Ranasinghe Premadasa, Neelan Tiruchelvam, and nearly got Chandrika Kumaratunga. He had also shot to pieces all peace formulas, from Indo-Lanka Agreement, Norway brokered international agreement  signed  in 2002, the subsequent P-TOMS, etc.

As stated by Bavinck,  Prabhakaran  had missed all the opportunities that came his way. So how was  PS going to  get a solution that would usher in lasting peace through talks? For all practical purpose,  there was only one morality available for peace-lovers : get rid of Prabhakaran. It was immoral to stop the war in the last stage when Prabhakaran was on his last legs. Would the Allies have stopped the World War II when they were at the gates of Berlin? Where is the morality in that? It was when the Vadukoddai War had reached the last stage that PS staged a comic  drama of trying  to stop the war. He was jumping from one Western capital to another hoping  to stop the war. What was PS hoping to save by stopping the war? It couldn’t have been peace because Prabhakaran had killed all the peace-makers. PS’s argument of saving lives by stopping the war was a figment of  his sick imagination. He knew that Prabhakaran used all ceasefire deals to recoup, recruit, rearm, and renew his fire-power to kill more and more.

Besides, PS never ran around to stop the war and the killing when Prabhakaran was winning in the early stages – a military exercise achieved at the cost of thousands of lives. He discovered the morality of saving  lives by stopping  the war only when Prabhakaran was losing. In any case, common sense would have dictated to him that the  only beneficiary of  the stopping  the war would be Prabhakaran and if PS did not know  that he should not be in the business of peace-making.

2 Responses to “Distorting history to  promote Tamil politics”

  1. SA Kumar Says:

    H. L. D. Mahindapala

    All OK My Chinkala brother is any think Sinhala-Buddhists done 1956/3 to 1983 ???

  2. Christie Says:

    Tamils are Indian who came as colonial parasites on the back of the British.

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