War-mongering Chelvanayakam piloted the declaration of Vadukoddai War – Part II
Posted on November 27th, 2021

H. L. D. Mahindapala

On May 14, 1976 the Vellala Tamil leadership – there was no other dominant political leadership in Jaffna – declared war on the democratically elected state of Sri Lanka. The Vellala Tamil leadership consisted of the descendants of the  Malabaris who invaded Jaffna in 1215. The invasion was led by an obscure terror called Magha of Kalinga,” ( p.37 – Learing Politics from Sivaram, Mark P. Whitaker). Whitaker, an American anthropologist,  adds that Magha was brutal. He consolidated his rule with relentless violence. Citing a Tamil chronicle, Whitaker states on the same page that Magha was a conqueror very fond of stomping about, laying waste to Buddhist shrines, smashing non-Saivite temples and plucking the eyes out of opposing  heretics.” As the first king of Jaffna he set the template for the culture of violence that ruled Jaffna from 1215. Sankili followed him by killing 600 Tamil Catholics for not owing allegiance to him. The ruling powers of Jaffna—from Magha to Prabhakaran  —  has consistently exerted excessive power, reaching inhuman levels, to survive in politics. The  culture of political violence made oppression or killing of Tamils the norm in Jaffna.

The political legacy left behind by Magha opened the pathways for his successors to go on the rampage, oppressing and killing Tamils, or ethnically cleansing Jaffna of Buddhists and Muslims. The Magha- Sankili-Vellala-Prabhakaran culture denied the basic human rights to the Jaffnaites. There are many Ph.Ds awaiting those who dare to explore the roots of Tamil violent culture. Research studies on Tamil violence will not come from the Jaffna University because  its academic culture is to hide the dark side of Jaffna history, particularly its violent casteist history. Those who dared to reveal the hidden truth had to flee Jaffna in search of safe havens. Prof. K. Indrapala, the first professor of histoy of the Jaffna University, had to run for his life because he said that the history of Jaffna began in 12th century. Prof. Rajan Hoole had to go into hiding because he asked too many questions about Tamil violence, Ms. Rajini Tiranagama, an academic in the Medical Faculty of Jaffna, was shot dead as she was cycling home, because she was a Tamil dissident. The Tamil tendency, however, has been to deify Tamil violence. They elevated Prabhakaran, the unrepentant killer of Tamils, to the level of  Surya Devan” (Sun God). .

The history of Jaffna has been the history of the triumph of the violent and casteist Vellalas. They ruled Jaffna with an iron-fist. Others were forced to obey. The Sudra Vellalas, the lowest caste in India, flooded the peninsula in the post-1215 period. The waves of Sudra Vellala migrants that came after Magha stabilised Vellala supremacy. Some of these waves are recorded in detail in the Yalpana Vaipa Malai (historical garland), the mini-Mahavamsa of Jaffna. Because they came from Malabar they were known as the Malabaris during the Dutch and the British in the 19th century. It was in the 20th century that the Malabaris were designated as Tamils. The Tamil identity was resuscitated by Arumuka Navalar, the Hindu religious reformist, who revived the forgotten Tamil classics. In the absence of the Brahmins in the Hindu society of Jaffna it was Navalar, the religious guru of  the Vellalas,  who elevated the Vellalas to the highest peak  in the caste hierarchy. The Northern leadership that declared war consisted of the Vellala Tamil MPs elected democratically by the Tamils of Jaffna. The declaration of war which was adopted unanimously by the first National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) held in Vadukoddai was a crime against peace, according to international law. The Convention that passd the Resolution  was chaired by S. J. V. Chelvanaykam, leader of the Tamil separatist movement.  Before sitting down to steer the declaration of war he had gone through every word of the Resolution with a fine comb, according to his son-in-law, Prof. A. Jeyaratnam Wilson. (p. 128 – S.J. V. Chelvanayakam and the Crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947 – 1977, A Political Biography, A. J. Wilson).  In other words, Chelvanayakam, the war-mongering Gandhi of Jaffna, piloted the declaration of war from the beginning to the end. Parenthetically, it is necessary to note that the Nazi leaders of World War II were tried and sentenced at the Nuremberg Trials, inter alia, on this charge of committing crimes against peace. After the Vadukoddai Resolution legitimized violence, it is logical for the inherent Magha-Sankili-Vellala culture to produce Velupillai Prabhakaran, the Tamil leader who killed more Tamils than the others. When the university students of Jaffna celebrate Maaveerar Day” they are hero-worshipping the worst killer of Tamils next to Sankili. It is  the equivalent of neo-Nazis celebrating Hitler’s birthday.

Riding high on the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist hate politics – it had  reached boiling point in Jaffna by 1976 — the Vellala Tamil leaders declared war to achieve their elusive Eelam. Declaring war was the ultimate offensive that was left for the the Tamil extremist to pursue Eelam. But no democratically elected government would agree to divide Sri Lanka into two separate states. After committing themselves to pursue the Vadukaddai War (a.k.a. Eelam War) — there was no strategic goal higher than declaring war for the Tamil leaders to pursue Eelam — the Tamil leaders were trapped in a war they never expected to drag so long. Appapillai Amirthalingam, was  one of the Fathers of the Vadukoddai Resolution. He hailed the gun-toting children that came out of the Vadukoddai Resolution as our boys”. He and other lawyers who rallied behind the violent Vadukoddai Resolution rushed to defend the boys” in courts and told them not to be afraid of killing Tamil traitors”. After all, the Vadukoddai Resolution had legitimized violence and urged the boys” to take up the gun and never to flinch until they achieve Eelam. The Sansoni Commission report records how the Vellala leadership egged the boys” to pursue violence without fear. One day the boys” walked into Amirthalingam’s house and shot him dead at point blank range. The children of the Vadukoddai Resolution had no compunction in killing their fathers. The violence in the Vadukoddai Resolution was directed primarily at the Sinhalese who were demonised as the enemy”. But, as it often happens, history does not run on premeditated lines. Tamil violence took off on a logic of its own. The unintended consequence of the Vadukoddai Resolution was to release the bottled genie of Magha-Sankili-Vellala cult of violence.  Once Tamil violence was released it ran amok killing  indiscriminately. Tamil violence first turned against the Tamils. The bullets that were aimed at the Sinhalese ricocheted  and killed the Tamils. Tamils killed more Tamils than the Sinhalese in the Vadukoddai War

The Vadukoddai War ended on May 19, 2009 in the brackish waters of Nandikadal Lagoon in Jaffna. It lasted 33 years and five days, to be precise. It was a futile war. The consequences of the brutal violence unleashed by the Vadukoddai War impacted on all communities. The Tamils of the North suffered the most. V. Ananadsangaree, the leader of the TULF, said that the Tamils had the freedom to protest when Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Prime Minister, opened the Jaffna University but could not even step into Jaffna which was under a Tamil Thalaivar” (Leader). S. C. Chandrahasan, son  of the father of the Vadukoddai declaration of war, Chelvanayakam, mourned that more Tamils were killed by the Tamil killing machines of Prabhakaran – the first-born child of the Vadukoddai Resolution — than any other force. The Vellala Tamil elite who fled to greener pastures abroad continued to finance the war that was killing more Tamils than the other communities. The Vellala Tamils invested all their collective resources, both from abroad and at home, into the war chest of Prabhakaran. The best of Tamil intellectuals invested their knowledge, skills and expertise to win the war. When they ran out of cadres to fight their war they even forcibly recruited under-aged children to save invincible” Prabhakaran, their Surya Devan”. In the end the Tamils lost the war.

In short, it was an unnecessary, senseless and immoral war that ended with the Vellala Tamils, who launched it, achieving nothing. Now that the gruesome and painful episode is over it is the moral duty of the Tamil leadership and the intellectuals who went along with the war-mongers of the Tamil killing machine, to consider what went wrong. Instead the intellectuals are deliberately turning a blind eye to the political forces and the ideological justifications that contributed to the prolongation of the war for 33 years. Wars are not fought with bullets alone. The finger that pulls the trigger to fire the bullet is motivated by ideology. In manufacturing theoretical and ideological justifications for the violence that flowed from the declaration of the Vadukoddai War the intellectuals were complicit in the war crimes and the crimes against humanity committed in the name of Tamil Eelam. Judge C. G. Weeramantry, Vice-President of the International Court of Justice, who in his celebrated  dissenting judgement declared that nuclear weapons were unlawful under any circumstances, also held the view that the scientists and the technicians should be held responsible for the intellectual input they contribute to make weapons of mass destruction. He went beyond the political decision-makers to pin moral responsibility on the scientific community that contributed their knowledge for construction of WMDs. The primary function of intellectuals is to produce knowledge. The knowledges” that intellectuals produce are not mere abstract theories that remain as dead letters between covers of a book. Their knowledges” have serious consequences and they should be held responsible for the impact of their ideologies on humanity. In Sri Lanka the intellectuals who gathered in seminars, produced books, manufactured theories and ideologies, lobbied and influenced decisions-makers and propagandized their knowledges” without telling the truth to centres of power should be held responsible for the part they played in prolonging the fascist terror unleased by the Northern leadership.

The Vadukoddai War spawned research centres specifically to manufacture knowledge” to produce peace. Centres like the National Council for Peace, International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Centre for Policy Alternative and MARGA are some of the intellectual factories set up purportedly to produce knowledge for peace. They laboured for 33 years without producing a single theory/formula to end the war. They were a miserable failure. It was plainly because they were going along in devious ways with concocted histories of the past that fitted into Tamil separatist agenda of the present. They, imported theories to justify the violence that were running  berserk. They hatched formulae arguing that more power should be devolved to the moderates” knowing that they had pledged their loyalty to Prabhakaran. The intellectuals were hoping to wean the moderates” away from Prabhakaran by giving in to all their demands. But moderates” had surrendered their powers to Prabhakaran, whom they had acknowledged as the sole representatives of the Tamils”. So what was the point in giving  more powers to the moderates”? Even their well-meaning theories went to reinforce the powers of the invincible Surya Devan”. Clearly, the intellectuals had no viable solution to end the war. They operated on the misguided belief that minority rights”, claimed by a fascist tyrant, who was oppressing and killing the very minority he was supposed to liberate, should be appeased to end the war. Their theories were designed to appease the political agenda outlined in the Vadukoddai Resolution. In other words, they acted as stake holders in a peace process that was going nowhere.

Stuck with an anti-Sinhala-Buddhist bias they never understood the intrinsic dynamics that were driving the war into a dead end. It was Prabhakaran who was in the driver’s seat of the war. The war could end only either (1)  by appeasing him – i.e., agreeing to the establishment of a Tamil separate state—or (2) by eliminating him from the political equation. As the first option failed with several appeasements (CFA with international guarantees was one) the military option was the only way out. For instance, Prabhakaran shot to pieces the much-vaunted Cease-Fire Agreement, signed with much fanfare by the international community, Ranil Wickremesinghe, the then Prime Minister, and the NGOs. Did it end the war? The logic of evolving  events proved that only a decisive military offensive could end the war. Our intellectuals, their research centres in the NGOs, their theories and formulae were doomed to fail because none could appease Prabhakaran. His intransigence was immoveable. His arrogance arising particularly from his military successes, his fixed blinkers that prevented him from seeing the possibilities with flexible diplomacy, his instructions to his aides kill him if he fails to achieve Eelam, his ideological fixations, his tearing up of peace agreements and offers of power-sharing to coexist within a democratic state (CBK’s offer), his statements categorically asserting his commitment to Eelam or nothing, confirmed that there was no way of arriving at a negotiated settlement. He offered no alternative to his mono-ethnic extremism. He relied essentially and doggedly on his gun held at the head of the nation. He was depending on a military success.  He believed he could dictate terms to the world with his Kalashnikov. Consequently, the problem had to be finally settled with the gun. And that is what happened in the end with the minimum of fuss. Lord Naseby’s figures of casualties proved it.

Our intellectuals manufacturing peace formulae in NGOs refused to recognise these realities. To them the war was a gold mine funding their high life-style. Funded by foreign governments and allied agencies the centres manufacturing partisan knowledge” were run by peace mudalalais” with enough cash to buy some of the best intellectuals in academia and civil society. It is common knowledge that intellectuals are wont  to hawk their knowledge” to the highest bidders in the market. By and large, the Sri Lankan intellectuals formed an English-speaking, theory-spouting, anti-Sinhala-Buddhist, pro-Tamil  mafia guzzling free booze in the diplomatic cocktail circuit. Though they scratched their eyes out, fighting for the last dollar available in the pockets of the foreign-funders, they closed ranks to form a solid front against the democratically elected state. Simultaneously, they manufactured knowledges” to justify the violence of the Vadukoddai War. Playing footsy with  the fascist quasi-state in the North, they wrapped the Vadukoddian knuckles with a wet tissue paper occasionally to show that they were objective. They played with the power/knowledge relationship to manufacture the required quantum of knowledge” to influence the peace process – a role that financed their whisky-guzzling  life-style. Knowledge was manipulated to denigrate, demean and devalue the state and, thereby, to weaken its power. Simultaneously, another chunk of knowledge” was manufactured to glorify the Tamil mono-ethnic extremists on the basis of minority rights. Jehan Perera once claimed that Prabhakaran’s regime was democratic because it gave him permission to run just one seminar on the periphery of Vanni.

Victimology was played to the hilt. Seminars, publications, lectures, media, films etc, were organised and exploited to manipulate knowledge” to serve their political agenda. In Sri Lanka, the NGOs trawled every nook and corner in the South fishing for knowledge” that could demonise  the Sinhala-Buddhists. The ICES, for instance, produced research” on the Kalutara Maha Bodhiya and Vihara Maha Devi Park. But it never bothered to even peep behind the cadjan curtain in Jaffna to unearth the forces that were driving  Jaffna into irreversible extremism. Jaffna, the centre of Northern politics, was never explored in depth to expose the horrors of the inherent Sankili-Vellala culture of violence. To me ICES was the Incestuous Cabal for Eelamist Sycophants producing knowledge” to justify the violent Tamil political culture while denigrating the Sinhala-Buddhist society in the South. A typical example is that of three intellectuals from the South who sat at the feet of Velupillai Prabhakaran in the Vanni and returned home to inform the media at a press conference that he is humane”. It was ridiculous.

All three of them were left-leaning intellectuals. Fr. Kenneth Fernando, Bishop of the Anglican Church, Charles Abeysekera, an ex-civil servant who left government service under a cloud, and Prof. Jayadeva Uyangoda, a committed Marxist who hero-worshipped the Southern fascist killer, Rohana Wijeweera, leader of the JVP., were public intellectuals involved in the political discourse.  When they proclaimed that Prabhakaran was humane” they reached the giddy limit of morality. Take the case of Prof. Uyangoda, a cock-eyed Marxist, if ever there was one. He knew that Karl Marx, his revered guru, earned some pocket money, by contributing the New York Herald Tribune. If he was reporting on Sri Lanka would he have ever categorised Prabhakaran as humane”? Besides, it was a despicable lie. In his famous  essay on The Responsibility of Intellectuals, Noam Chomsky decried the failure of the intellectuals to tell the truth to centres of power. The anger in Noam Chomsky‘s article was mainly against the intellectuals like Arthur Schlesinger, the Harvard historian, who lied to justify Kennedy invasion of the Bay of Pigs. Colin Powell is another who lied through his teeth when he accused Saddam Hussein of possessing WMDS.  Powell lied to wage war. Uyangoda lied to boost the image of a beastly killer who had no compassion even to the live insects he pinned on the pages of his books when he was young. Apart from the moral considerations, their statement that Prabhakaran was humane” actually questions the sanity of these three intellectuals. A lie of that magnitude is unpardonable. The only possible explanation is that it was not difficult for Prof. Uyangoda to shift his political loyalties from the Southern fascist killer, Rohana Wijeweera, to the Northern fascist killer, Prabhakaran!

He is typical of the twisted intellectuals produced by the Vadukoddai War. Jehan Perera too proved to be a shameless liar when he conferred arbitrarily a doctorate on Anton Balasingham, the Goebbels of the Eelamists. The immorality of these intellectuals is in the fact that they knew they were lying on behalf of Prabhakaran – a Pol Potist killer. If a choice had to be made it should have been on the side of the democratic state. A victory for Prabhakaran would never have brought dignity, equality or justice to the Tamils, nor peace to the  rest of the nation. As a one-man regime he could survive only in a permanent state of war. Dictators need wars as a scapegoat to justify their fascist oppression. Besides, a democracy and a dictatorship could never co-exist in peace within an island. The tensions between the two systems make wars inevitable. What is worse, Prabhakaran could never deliver dignity, equality or justice to the Tamils in his fascist regime. Peace could be won only by eliminating him from the political equation. History has proved it: there is peace because the Security Forces definitively put an end to Prabhakaran killing Tamils. 

Our intellectuals refused to recognise the realities. They continued to believe in their theoretical fictions because it sustained their life-style, or advanced their careers in academia, or gained glory as new knowledge-makers in partisan research centres. They, however, bragged that they possessed the alternative to war. The Centre for Policy Alternative was supposed to provide alternatives to the likes of Prabhakaran. That is a tragi-comic saga that should be explored in the next article.

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