Aborting the hard won peace to placate the implacable – II
Posted on November 5th, 2016

By Rohana R. Wasala

Continued from Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN, Draper reminds the reader, praised President Sirisena for the government’s ‘extraordinary progress’ in working towards ‘a durable peace, an accountable democracy, a new relationship with the outside world, and expanded opportunities for all’. Actually, Power’s alleged observation is only hollow-ringing diplomatic rhetoric. However, she was not all wrong. The president was associated with the really extraordinary progress made towards achieving durable peace, restoring democracy to those who had been denied it under terrorism,  expanded opportunities for all , and  effective and  independent relationships with the outside world, all of which were achievements of the previous government of which he was a prominent member. That is the factual situation that is being obscured by the West and its supportive media.

One of the very few valid observations that Draper makes in his essay is that it’s not Power or other foreign officials whom the government needs to win over, but the Tamil minority. But it is a truism as stale as old beer. Our national leaders realized this even before the end of British occupation. To stop  the minorities, particularly the Tamils, feeling alienated has been a genuine concern of all post-independence governments. That is exactly what the previous administration focused on, and was in the process of doing everything possible to that end. This is evident in the fact that, during its tenure, while Sri Lanka’s overall economic growth rate reached 7%, Jaffna’s growth rate reached 22%! As soon as the conditions were settled enough there, the government held provincial council elections in the north in the full knowledge that the Tamil National Alliance, proxies of the defeated LTTE, would win, and that the government allies would lose despite all that it did for the region unconditionally as a national responsibility. Former Tamil Eelamist rebels like Douglas Devananda (EPDP) and Karuna Amman (LTTE), the latter Prabhakaran’s erstwhile right-hand man, were included in the cabinet; and various peace building activities among young people of the north and south were organized, accelerated infrastructure development work was initiated even before the war ended, and so on. There is no space here to write more about the subject.

Draper’s assertion that Tamils have been left behind by the country’s postwar progress and that they feel embittered by ‘the Sinhalese majority’s seeming indifference to their plight’ is completely false, as borne out by the aforementioned facts. The people in the southern districts knew that the previous government allocated extra funds for the development of the north and east provinces, at their expense to some extent; but the southerners never grudged it. They understood that the government had to pay more attention to those provinces than to others because they were the worst hit by the separatist terrorism that had ravaged the country. Isn’t that one reason less for the international community to worry about ethnic ‘reconciliation’ in our country?

Draper’s research on Sri Lanka has been perfunctory at best. That is because, apparently, truth is not an essential part of his epic purpose of rationalizing Western bullying of hapless Sri Lanka. That could be why he tries to put the political and military leaders of the government that rescued the country from terrorism in such a bad light. But, occasionally, he pays them unintentional tributes. For when he says that the ‘well-groomed, galloping metropolis that bears no visible scars of war’, he is mentioning something achieved under the able management of the former president’s brother Gotabhaya, who headed the Urban Development Authority, in addition to playing a number of other roles, after the successful end of the war.

As Draper has observed, roughly equal numbers of Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims populate Colombo and they have been living there in complete harmony. However, he adds an unnecessary reservation by saying that they do so with ‘only occasional displays of hostility’. It is only a figment of biased Draper’s warped imagination. To suggest that there has been a tradition of ‘occasional displays of hostility’ among the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim communities in Colombo is entirely wrong. Unfortunate, treacherously instigated clashes between Sinhalese and Tamils in 1958 and 1983 (where the latter suffered more) were isolated incidents (in which Muslims were left unharmed); the Sinhalese as a community totally and sincerely condemned those violent incidents. Both Buddhist and Hindu cultures abhor violence in any form.

Draper writes: The city maintained a surprising  show of composure on the night of January 8, 2015, when Sri Lanka astonished the world by ousting the autocratic regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa through a largely peaceful and untainted election.” It was actually the outgoing government’s achievement. Rajapaksa used periodically due elections to test public approval of his policies. He was not unusually authoritarian. But he or anyone else in the same position, must be sufficiently firm as a leader in order to rule effectively.

In a sweeping observation that pays little regard to facts, Draper claims that the Sirisena administration has begun to reform the ‘corrupt judiciary system’, privatize ‘bloated agencies’, and reckon with immense debts incurred from ‘dubious’ infrastructure contracts awarded to Chinese companies. Any fair-minded observer will not fail to see that allegations of ‘a corrupt judiciary’, ‘bloated agencies’ (by which Draper probably means public corporations allegedly filled with too many cronies of politicians in power), and ‘dubious infrastructure contracts awarded to Chinese companies’ reflect a deliberate misrepresentation of what actually happened under the government that was later ousted. These things are for competent Sri Lankans to decide. Can any outsider, least of all a stooge of a manipulative external power, make derogatory statements that reflect on mutual relations between two sovereign nations that he knows nothing about, and has no connection whatsoever with?.

Draper’s contradictory characterization of the Northern Province as the (exclusive, as he implies) ‘homeland’ of the ‘Sri Lankan Tamils’ is wrong because of many reasons, of which I am going to mention only one or two here. One is that the whole of the island is the homeland of all Sri Lankans; there cannot be an exclusive homeland in it for each community. Another reason is that more than 50% of all Tamils in the country live outside the north and east provinces; these include Indian Tamils brought to Ceylon (Sri Lanka), which was then a part of the British empire like India itself, to work on coffee and later tea estates owned by British planters. If a particular region of the island is assigned to one ethnic community as its homeland on the basis of population size, then there must be at least three homelands in this country: one for the Tamils, one for the Muslims, and another for the Sinhalese majority. The majority of ordinary Sri Lankans are not asking for such fragmentation of the country, but it could be forced on them by the powers that be.

Historically, however, Sri Lanka is the only homeland of the Sinhalese; they have no identity without reference to this their country of origin. Tamil Nadu means Tamil country. That is their historical homeland. That is where the Tamil Hindu culture developed.  This does not mean that only the Sinhalese must live in this country, or that the others must go elsewhere. Draper says ‘Eelam’ is the Tamil name for Sri Lanka. That is not right unless it happens to have derived from ‘Hela’ (an ancient Sinhalese name of the island). However, as well known, ‘Eelam’ is the name of the Tamil state the separatists want to create in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Draper may not have been told by his Tamil informants that the Sinhalese call this island just ‘Lanka’, the same name that Tamils pronounce as ‘Ilankei’. In other words, Ilankei is the Tamil version of ‘Lanka’. Sinhale (from which ‘Ceylon’ comes) was also known as ‘Hela’ or ‘Heladiva’ (the island of Hela). ‘Eelam’ could have derived from Hela. But there is no historical or archaeological evidence to show that Tamil Hindu culture evolved in Heladiva (It evolved in Tamil Nadu, India). Instead, there is overwhelming historical and archaeological evidence to prove that the island civilization has been fashioned by the Sinhalese over at least 2600 years of recorded history. It was always the Sinhalese who defended the country against invaders. They fought the European invaders of the past five hundred years just as they fought off 17 South Indian incursions from time to time before. (To be concluded)

2 Responses to “Aborting the hard won peace to placate the implacable – II”

  1. plumblossom Says:

    The LTTE massacred over 35,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members and Civil Defense Force members over 6000-7000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians, 1,253 Indian Peacekeeping Forces (IPKF) members, over 2,000 Tamil Armed Group members who supported the Government of Sri Lanka and who were against the LTTE, around 3,000 Tamil civilians and all this add upto 47,000. Around 35,000 LTTE terrorists are estimated to have perished too. In all around 84,000 in total have perished on both sides in the war.

    As you can see it is the brutal LTTE terrorists who massacred over 47,000 mainly Sri Lankan Armed Forces members, Police Force members, Civil Defense Force members in over 26 years of war. Over 23,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are today both temporarily and permanently disabled due to the war. Over 13,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members are permanently disabled due to the war. Over 156,000 Sri Lankan Armed Forces members have been injured due to the war. Over 6,000-7,000 overwhelmingly Sinhala but also Muslim civilians have been massacred by the LTTE terrorists in the war of over 26 years.

    The LTTE terrorist group also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala and Muslim population of the Northern Province, of over 65,000 Sinhala people and over 75,000 Muslim people of the Northern Province in the 1980s and the 1990s. The LTTE also ethnically cleansed the entire Sinhala population of the Batticaloa District in the East of over 25,000 Sinhala people.

    Today, the Sinhala people and their descendants of over 135,000 are yet to be resettled in the North and in the Batticaloa District and Muslims of over 115,000 are yet to be resettled in the North. Uptil 2012, of the above number, around 32,000 Sinhala people and around 32,000 Muslims has been resettled in the North.

    The LTTE terrorist group recruited over 20,000 child soldiers, all Tamil youth, as attested by UNICEF itself which stated in 2007 that perhaps the LTTE has recruited over 20,000 young persons under the age of 18 years into its cadre between 1983-2007 inclusive.

    The LTTE was notorious for its horrific terror tactics such as large scale bomb attacks and the use of suicide bombers in carrying out hundreds of attacks against mainly Sinhala civilians and the country’s leadership, horrific attacks against Sinhala civilians using IED devices, claymore mines and bombs, the massacre of Sinhala villagers in their villages in the North Central, Eastern, Northern and North Western Provinces, the coerced recruitment or abduction of Tamil youth and children for recruitment as child soldiers, forced money collection from Tamils with threats to life in case of non-compliance, attacks on Sri Lanka’s economic infrastructure such as the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), Sri Lanka’s the then only international airport, oil storage facilities, hotels, planes, buses, trains etc. ethnic cleansing of Sinhalese and Muslims from the North and East of Sri Lanka, the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the systematic assassination of over 120 noteworthy Sri Lankan politicians, civil servants, senior military and police officers, prelates, activists, academics, journalists and other professionals who were assassinated by the LTTE who were but a few of the hundreds of assassinations carried out by the LTTE, including the former Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.

  2. plumblossom Says:

    The countries out to destabilize Sri Lanka and create an Eelam are the US, EU, UK, Norway, Sweden, Canada and India alongside the TNA, other separatists and the LTTE terrorists. It has been extremely obvious this has been the case for the past almost two and a half decades not just now. Therefore it is quite good for all Sri Lankans to be informed about this fact and be very vary of this fact.

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