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Give war a chance: the peace road to Eelam

C. Wijeyawickrema, LL.B., Ph.D.

"All human progress has depended on 'new questions' rather than on 'new answers' to the old questions." Alfred North White - Science and the Modern World

During the time of the November 2005 presidential election and even before that when he was "fighting" for his "SLFP-right" to be the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, I was often a lonely internet debater supporting Mahinda Rajapakse (MR) as the future hope of Sri Lanka. Writing about the dowry left by the late Ven. Gangodawila Soma in bringing back self-respect to the Sinhala Buddhists, I proposed then a coalition of MR faction of the SLFP, MEP, JHU, JVP (when they were wearing pirith nuul) and the Karu Jayasuriya group of UNP.

It is a known fact that after MR became the President he "accommodated" so many groups and persons who voted against him at the election. In order to maintain a majority in the parliament MR had to "bribe" his opponents by donating them ministerial posts. In this regard his case was different from that of Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) who voluntarily packed his cabinet with his political enemies. They troubled him so much and praised him as a great statesman after he was murdered!

MR also got the sick Sri Lankan diplomatic service full of black-whites jolted by appointing a few men who could tell a spade a spade and not afraid to pierce the veil of western diplomatic manners (manipulations?). One such new diplomat is Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka who was in the "war was not winnable" camp until recently and is still an ardent supporter of the Indian "F" solution. With his "fault line" and the "clash of peoples" theory (Island, 7/27/2008) he must definitely be a believer in SJVC's traditional Tamil homeland myth. After watching what he has been writing to the Island newspaper recently, a question that comes to my mind is, is he or is he not a supporter of the Mahinda Chinthanaya Program? Dayan's writings have the danger of taking MR for a ride and making MR a prisoner of his (Dayan's) 13A Classic (Island, 8/11/2008).

Dayan's 13A Classic, according to his own words, is a way station on the road to 13A Plus and to the Indian "F" model. Is this a rare case of the cat jumping out of the (Dayan's) bag? Dayan's writings in the Island newspaper, one by one, indicate a pattern reminiscent of the villagers' saying, diya-redden bella kapanawa (cutting the neck using the bathrobe of a woman).

Vietnam War took perhaps a million lives plus decades of fighting, but when it was about to be ended it took months for the parties to agree on the shape of the table that they will sit at and discuss the peace plan. Similarly, so many people can now discuss and offer all kinds of suggestions from air-conditioned rooms or from NGO-funded offices in Colombo because the village soldiers who do not speak English did the job for them by ending a terrorist war. Unlike the Vietnam War or Americans in Afghanistan or Iraq or the IPKF in Jaffna, Prabakaran is losing because the Sinhala soldier is not working just for a monthly salary. For them it is a moral war to protect their motherland from disintegration due to stupid acts of the Colombo politicians.

But would it be possible that Colombo politicians and people like Dayan J make soldiers' sacrifice a gangata ini kapeemak? (throwing wood harvested into running water). This was what happened with Abraham Lincoln. After winning the war he ordered the confederate army men to go home with their guns. But soon the American blacks came under a system of semi-slavery and suffered for nearly 100 years until Martin L. King Jr., began the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Sri Lanka's heroic soldiers do not expect to win the war to pave a road to Eealm by peace!

Dayan's Island piece on 8/11/2008 is an example of answering the old question-how to accommodate the SJVC-Prabakaran separatist paradigm. The answer he gets to this old question is "devolution" and then he has had to engage in successive rounds of writing sessions to impress upon others the value of "classical" devolution. If on the other hand Dayan is willing to ask a new question, "How can we empower Sri Lankan Tamil villagers?" he will see that there is already one straightforward answer. The answer is the paradigm of Col. Karuna-Give us what Colombo gets.

The late Chief Justice, M. C. Sansoni once said, "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). SJVC on the other hand felt that "the Sinhala leaders were not big enough to rule the Tamils." (1958). GGPonnambalam felt like that as far back as in 1939. Col. Karuna was the first significant Tamil to reject GGP-SJVC-Prabakaran separatist paradigm by rejecting the Tamil homeland myth. Hence Karuna is not interested in joining an agitation for police powers.

When one rejects the Tamil homeland myth, 13A falls flat as 13A was nothing but an Indian design to recognize a Tamil homeland in the Eastern Province. In this regard Karuna and the CM of EP are more anti-separatist and pro-Sinhala than Dayan or Dayan's hero Douglas Devananda because, to use Dayan's own "test" at the interface of the Sinhala-Tamil opinion (Island, 8/11/2008), Col. Karuna became a new or even a better Kadiragamar or a Jeyaraj Fernando Pullai among the Sinhalese.

Karuna's paradigm is in agreement with what JVP said in 1971 (or in1988/89?) "Give us what Colombo gets" which was later copied by the Youth Commission Report (kolambata kiri apita kakiri -Youth Commission Report, March, 1990, p. xvii). In addition Karuna is following the Mahinda Chinthanaya Program (MCP) enunciated in November 2005, a program prepared after inviting input from people all over the island because Karuna is for village level empowerment of people.

The devolution answer under the SJVC homeland myth expects giving power to a new set of Tamil politicians. On the other hand an answer to a question on how to empower people takes one to the village-level development stressed in the MCP. If people are empowered beginning with the village-level then an upward hierarchy of political units is a possibility to celebrate "aspirations" at the district or a larger River Basin-level. It is imperative that countries select ecological units of governance to face global warming and other environmental threats.

India followed the 13A path since 1935 and did a big mistake in 1956 by demarcating states on linguistic lines. The original 14 states are now at 28 and another 35 are on the "waiting list." No day passes in India without an ethnic/language clash. Indians did not get empowered by these methods. In 1993, India finally accepted that empowerment of people can only be done by empowering people at the Panchyathi Raj level and not by creating new sets of regional politicians at the state level. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka's APRC dominated by Colombo politicians and officers cannot see these new developments. So was DayanJ.

13A has not a single good thing to talk about. Not only it was forced upon Sri Lanka by India, but it has an illegitimate birth. The all powerful President had to apply a dirty trick to get it passed. He asked MPs to sign an undated letter of resignation. The Supreme Court decided the deal legal by 5-4 votes. Sri Lanka is a tiny island and it does not need nine PCs, nine white elephants. There can be a Second Chamber and other ways to give minorities a say in governmental affairs in Colombo but decentralization of power must be to villages and not to white elephants.

I do not have to talk about the dangers of 13A as a ladder to Eelam because Dayan J himself has hinted at it in his latest essay in the Island newspaper on 8/11/2008. Let's hope that Dayan start asking new questions and begin receiving new answers.

 

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