Ethnic Problem is a Beggar’s Wound That Never Heals
Posted on November 30th, 2022

Dilrook Kannangara

Amidst the economic crisis racist politics has raised its ugly head once again. Instead of addressing the problems of 22 million people, tribal politicians want special treatment for their tribe of 3.5 million people. In order to perform their extortion racket, they are still using the ethnic problem begging bowl. The so-called ethnic problem is a beggar’s wound and it will never heal. Scientific evidence proves it and Sri Lanka’s historical evidence on the matter also proves it. The more the monster is fed, the more demanding it becomes.

Greed Was the Root Cause of Tamil Struggle, Not Grievances

A renowned research project for the World Bank undertaken by Sir Paul Collier (Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford) and Anke Hoeffler (Professor of Development Research) investigated the possible root causes of internal wars from 1945 to the late 20th century including Sri Lanka’s war with Tamil rebels and concluded that greed instead of grievances is the root cause of most internal conflicts. Their model is known as the Collier-Hoeffler Model.

When the cat jumped out of the bag, a Tamil politician in Sri Lanka was quick to point out that Tamils had graduated from grievances to aspirations!

There is also other evidence to prove it. Since 1957 successive governments tried to appease Tamils by showering them with special privileges unavailable to minorities in most nations in an attempt to fix their grievances. Little that they knew it was greed that was driving the so-called ethnic problem, not grievances. This only bred more greed. If grievances were the root cause, there won’t be any ethnic problem today. However, it still exists. Greed has no boundaries. Greed breeds more greed and so the ethnic problem continues.

Unfortunately, many still hold on to the wrong belief that Tamil grievances (which still remains according to those who make the claim) were the root cause of the war. They keep appeasing Tamils hoping to heal the ethnic problem beggar’s wound. However, Tamils are not keen to heal it as keeping the wound bleeding is more profitable and helps them in extortion.

Appeasing Tamils at the expense of others only worsens Sri Lanka’s economic, social and military problems. The beggar’s wound (ethnic problem) will never heal.

Every Community is Entitled to Ethnic Aspirations

On the other hand, every community has aspirations and it is their right to pursue their national aspirations. The UN and its members uphold the right of self determination of communities. Going by Sri Lanka’s own commitments to the UN, Tamils do have the right of self-determination. Similarly, Sinhalese and Muslims also have their own and each right of self-determination.

It is an international crime to suppress or otherwise scuttle the right of self-determination of a community which should be accommodated as much as possible within the framework of the nation state.

This is the real problem that needs a resolution. Instead of resolving it, Sri Lanka has made many failed and one-sided trade-offs between Tamils’ right of self-determination and Tamil grievances. Unfortunately, naïve Sri Lankan leaders have believed that appeasing Tamils will somehow by magic dispel their right of self-determination. That is not possible. Instead of looking at Tamil grievances, Sri Lanka must look into Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim right of self-determination. Once these problems are fixed, others will automatically fall into place. The national journey cannot be safely and successfully travelled with unwilling travelers. They may be better off going their own way and we will certainly be better off going our own way. Until then the ethnic problem beggar’s wound will keep bleeding Sri Lanka

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