Ilankai Tamil Sangam

28th Year on the Web

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Super Duper Sri Lanka

Part II

by Sanmuga Suntharam

Mr Gunatilleke quotes the definition of "Terrorism" by the US, which as I pointed out above, is necessarily self-serving. I do not know why the US, or for that matter any country, bothers to define terrorism. Just call any group, if it is politically expedient, as the US routinely does, a "terrorist" or whatever.

Political Fatwa

It is so convenient for Sri Lanka, as Mr Gunatilleke does, and self-righteous for the Indian rulers in the recent past to accuse the LTTE in the suicide killing of Rajiv Gandhi. Tamils wish it had never happened. But consider the existential circumstances and imperatives leading to the tragedy.

The Indian army that occupied Tamil North Eelam killed more than 7000 Tamil civilians (seven doctors, several nurses and patients in the Jaffna Hospital among them) and raped many a woman. No action was taken against any of the soldiers by Rajiv Gandhi. The girl who killed herself must have witnessed some of these attrocities and had enough indignation and anger towards Rajiv Gandhi to wish that he would die along with her. To drag in the LTTE, as Mr Gunatilleke does, is unnecessary and superfluous.

Khannahi, the great heroine of SILAPPATHIKARAM, forcefully demonstrated that the king had erred grievously in executing her husband. The girl, who took Khannahi as her paragon, chose her own path to make her point to suit the times and an unrepentant ‘king’.

Mr Gunatilleke is on thin ice when he imputes verities to totally politically motivated decisions. When the US, the most powerful nation with a declared intention to maintain its hegemonic status in the world, makes a political pronouncement it is simplistic to say that it is out of moral considerations of right and wrong. The appellation "terrorist" is an offensive political epithet, as used by the US, and it is like one calling a man SOB because the one who is calling is sleeping with that man’s despisable wife!

Just consider this: the Taliban and Al Queda were friends of the US and were given $1 billion in arms when they were fighting the Russians; South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela was declared a terrorist and the Apartheid regime was supported by the US; the Kurdish freedom fighters against the oppressive Turkish government are designated "terrorists," but the Kurdish fighters against Saddam Hussain’s regime in Iraq were supported and now are installed as rulers of autonomous Kurdistan! When a third world country like Sri Lanka thinks that it has politically identical views with an avowedly superpower, there is something pathetically foolish about it. If freedom fighters are deterred by these insulting epithets, there would not be a free South Africa, a free Kenya, a free France, a free United States of America, or a free ----. The LTTE is fighting an inevitable war - a righteous war- imposed on them.

Mr Gunatilleke quotes the definition of "Terrorism" by the US, which as I pointed out above, is necessarily self-serving. I do not know why the US, or for that matter any country, bothers to define terrorism. Just call any group, if it is politically expedient, as the US routinely does, a "terrorist" or whatever.

However, the definition quoted is "----premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by SUB NATIONAL groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience." Does the reader notice the insidious phrase "sub national," thus conveniently excluding all the horrendous acts of devastation, terror, wholesale slaughter which were and are perpetrated for political reasons or as an "extension of politics" planned and approved at the highest levels of governments of the US and UK against Iraq and by the GOSL against the hapless Tamils!

No wonder Mr Gunatilleke is making common cause with the US, as if "quoting the Devil." As the old saying goes, "A lie goes round half the world before truth can put on its boots."


Mr Gunatilleke makes reference to the UN General Assembly Resolution, the Charter of UN, as well as the International Covenant on Human Rights, palpably as a prelude to making a pre-emptive strike against the Tamil freedom movement, to suggest that - of the people who struggle to be free - Tamils are specifically unqualified, because they choose to stand up against decades of senseless criminality against them. He states on his own authority, deliberately confounding cause with the consequences: "However, it must be emphasized that none of these international instruments provide for or support the recourse to terrorism in pursuit of self-determination, and to secede to form a state-----".

Why did Mr Gunatilleke fail to mention the years of peaceful struggle before and after independence to get a fair deal for the Tamil nation, the Gandhian protests, the police brutality against them, the 1956, 1958, 1971, 1977, 1983 pogroms against Tamils by the Sinhalese (until 1983 not a single Sinhalese was attacked or killed by a Tamil, all violence was by the Sinhalese against the Tamils), the Hitlerite unilateral dishonoring of pacts entered into with Tamil leaders and all the other hundreds of acts of violence and bad faith against the Tamil nation? Does he expect us to hold placards passively at street corners as the Sinhalese murder and maim us and confiscate our land and everything else?

When in 1958 a Hindu priest was burnt alive inside a temple by the Sinhala mob (another example of Sinhala Buddhist practice), Prapaharan was a little boy and the incident made an indelible impression on him. Some refer to that as a defining moment in his life. The Sinhalese are so insensitive to the point of being stupid, and grow callous and indifferent to the rights of non-Sinhalese, and to their own lack of humanity that no civilized method can make them see reason. The Sinhala leaders’ political imbecility and their racially fundamentalist mentality will forever foreclose peaceful co-existence with the Tamil Nation in any politically interdependent relationship.

Let me quote two presidents, both Sinhala of course, one in 1983 and the current president:

I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people ------ now we cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion ---- really if I starve the Tamil people out the Sinhala people will be happy. President J R Jayawardene, quoted in the Daily Telegraph, London, July 11, 1983.

"-------No Norway (Monitoring Commission), no federal constitution, no right to homeland, no self-determination, no nationhood for Tamils, no P-toms (Rehabilitation for Tsunami victims), no recognition as sole partner in negotiations and no Oslo (Norwegian capital) as venue for talks" - Mahinda Percy Rajapakse - current President from his electoral platform, the 'Mahinda Chintinaya'

Can any Tamil with an ounce of sense contemplate the likelihood of the Sinhala negotiating a mutually satisfactory political solution, and more importantly, honoring such an agreed solution?

Homeland Issue

When Mr Gunatilleke was talking about Self-determination he used equivocation and legal quibbles, but about the homeland issue he talks the language of the Sinhala majoritarian nationalist.

Does Mr Gunatilleke imply that the various nationalities in the world occupy land in proportion to their population, from Sudan to Hong Kong? The land area argument is so ridiculous it is not worth commenting upon.

About the coastline, as I alluded to in an earlier part, when Eritrea separated from Ethiopia, the latter lost its access to the sea. It is not as if Sri Lanka is without a coastline; it is simply the unavoidable shape of our homeland and the relational land/sea configuration. This is a testimony to the maritime nature of Tamil settlements, as contrasted with the pastoral life of the Sinhalese. The breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls, spectacular mountains, the vast extent of tea gardens, both mystically scenic and sustainer of the economy, are all outside the Tamil Homeland. Tamils have no complaints about it.

Do not forget that the Tsunami devastation was almost all along the Tamil homeland coastline!

Quite insincerely and sanctimoniously, Mr Gunatilleke talks about "ethnic cleansing" by the Tigers of Muslims and Sinhalese from the Tamil Homeland.

I would like to point out to Mr Gunatilleke that not a single Muslim or a Sinhalese lost his life in the process of relocation, whereas the Sinhalese "ethnically cleansed" by murdering 4000 Tamils in 1983 alone!!

In the Eastern Tamil homeland, the GOSL has systematically "cleansed" the Tamils of their land and habitation AND populated the land with Sinhala! This ethnic cleansing of Tamils goes on as I write this.

The Muslims were asked to leave Jaffna in the very early days of the insurgency for the safety of the Muslims themselves. Besides, the GOSL was planning to kill a few Muslims and place the blame on the LTTE and thereby cause ethnic conflict as it is doing now in the East of the homeland. Muslims would have nothing to do with the freedom movement and, unlike the non-Muslim Tamils, were not expected to bear the brunt of the crossfire between the freedom fighters and the GOSL. Even in hindsight, relocation was the best ‘move’ for the Muslims. Once our homeland is secure, it is only fair that the Muslims be invited back. As for the Sinhalese, the handful of them in the north decided that it was wise to "go south"; with excellent economic sense.

But the ethnic cleansing and marginalization of Tamils in the eastern homeland had been meticulously planned and systematically carried out by the Sinhalese for a long time. One example: from 1880 to 1920 the ratio of Tamil population to Sinhalese in Trincomalee was 20:1. The Sinhala Maha Jana Sabha declared in 1920 that the Sinhalese should move into choice Tamil land. According to the 1980 census, the Tamil-speaking population was 160,000 and the Sinhala population 86,000. "Demography is destiny" said Comte. Aware of this reality, the Sinhalese both insidiously and openly, by legislation and brute force displaced Tamils from their ancestral land and populated those lands with Sinhalese. While Tamil leaders were doing their usual betrayal of their people, the Sinhala were stealing Tamil land. "Douglas" and "Sangaree" had predecessors, though shameful.


After so much palter and cant at every step of his talk, as I have tried to show above, Mr Gunatilleke’s reading of history is equally tendentious. To imply that our homeland was just a fictitious creation of a fellow called Cleghorn is insulting the Tamils. I cannot tutor Mr Gunatilleke history when I know he will refuse to be convinced. But still I would tell him to read more history than the Mahavamsa, at least for his own good.

Mr Gunatilleke’s contention that in the agreement between India and Sri Lanka, paragraph 1.4 recognized that "the Northern and Eastern Provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speaking peoples, who have at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethnic groups" and, therefore, "cannot be the sole preserve of the Tamils" is intentionally flawed. "Sole preserve" is a phrase that is a mischievous invention by Mr. Gunatilleke. The concept of homeland by the Tamils - or by any other nation in the world - neither excludes other nationalities from its territory nor does it mean, as a contrary, the presence of other communities within itself precludes a nation the right to a homeland. What is now Poland, contiguous to Germany, always had Germans living there. Newer nations such as Kosovo has a substantial number of Serbs, while Kurdistan has Arabs. One does not need to labor this universal fact to a diplomat.

And how revealing it is when Mr Gunatilleke poses the question "Should the rights of the Sinhalese and the Moors living in the Eastern Province be sacrificed in fulfilling the aspirations of Tamil Tigers to have a traditional homeland?"! The revelation is his tacit recognition by implication that the rights of Tamils have been sacrificed and continue to be sacrificed under Sinhala hegemony. Of course, this fact has been obvious for a long time; but the Sinhalese leaders, like career criminals, have not only become inured to the inequities perpetrated by them, but also invent alibi and dubious arguments to escape condemnation.

When all the Tamils palpably suffer extreme discrimination resulting in ethnicide, frequently, the rights of Tamils are not considered sacrificed, but when a few Sinhalese come under a Tamil government Mr. Gunatilleke conjures up visions of sacrifice by them!

In the same paragraph as the hypothetical sacrifice is mooted, Mr Gunatilleke makes the astonishing statement: If, for a moment, we forget about the recent history, that is when Tamils came to populate the Eastern Province in significant numbers and look at the current population distribution in that province we see that non-Tamils surpass the Tamils by a ratio of 6 to 4." The mention of this statistic by Mr Gunatilleke, as the famed saying goes, qualifies as worse than a damn lie. The recent history is that the Sinhala governments created many government-funded, government-sponsored Sinhala ethnic enclaves to radically transform the existing ethnic demographic configuration - to change the relative strength of the ethnic groups vastly in favor of the Sinhalese. History, or prehistory, unequivocally, is that the East was entirely a Tamil people’s territory with profuse evidence of Dravidian culture above ground and below ground!


When Mr Gunatilleke insults the Tigers as "fascist dictators," it is as when all insults are hurled more often a manifestation of the distraught state of mind of the perpetrator than a factual description.

For the record, there is great deal more probity in the administration of the Tigers than one could find in the Sri Lankan government, if it exists at all. Furthermore, let us not forget that the Tiger administration is in great peril from the continuing attacks from Mr Gunatilleke’s government with its avowed resolve to destroy the Tigers, and it is to the great credit of the Tigers that they are able to have such an efficient and corruption-free administration in such as environment.

Is it not despicably hypocritical of a government that has ruled the Tamil nation under emergency laws since the 1970's and now rules it under the even more oppressive "PTA" laws, and does not even allow the hundreds of thousands of Tamil refugees to return to their lands (the homes have been destroyed) because the army decided that it needs them to keep its soldiers, to speak of undemocratic Tigers! Every day scores of ethnic Tamils are rounded up by the Sinhala government and locked up under the draconian laws, making it transparently clear that these laws were enacted with the Tamils in mind. The Tigers, on the contrary, have no such laws in the territory under their administration.

To my knowledge, of all the freedom movements around the world, the Tigers are the most disciplined, most righteous and most principled. They stand, thus, in stark contrast to the GOSL.

Tamil Aspirations & Coexistence

What about the Tamils living in other parts of the country if a Tamil homeland were to be established by the Tamil Tigers?, Mr Gunatilleke questions. Tamil Eelam will welcome them enthusiastically, is the short answer. Eelam will be stronger and prosper with the increased human resources, their talents, their investments and their other contributions. It is as simple as that. As to his dark and implied threats that the Sinhala mob will set upon the Tamils living in Sinhala areas in the event of the de jure formalization of Tamil Eelam, the Tigers should take serious note of that. As the Sinhala mob, indeed, has a great propensity for ethnic violence, that is indeed an ominously real threat.

Next, Mr Gunatilleke talks, very platitudinously and dismissively, about Tamil "aspirations" and "grievances", respectively. To him, everyone has aspirations and that’s it. I hope he did not take aspiration to mean "the act of breathing in"! There is another meaning: a strong desire to achieve something high or great; also, an object of such desire. This, at least in principle, cannot be dismissed as possibly illegitimate or unjustified. It is a contradiction in terms. Aside from that, the Tamils' "aspirations" are neither utopian, nor at the expense of another. Our yearnings are to be free, for the restitution of our rights which have been continually attrited and an insurance that they are not dependent on the vagaries of Sinhala mood and its manifestation in the form of the regular and periodic pogroms. When the Jews had similar grievances, they formed the state of Israel in their ancient land; we, understandably do not want to wait for a holocaust of such magnitude.

Mr Gunatilleke’s attitude toward coexistence with the Tamils, an attitude shared by the Sinhalese generally, is to deprive the Tamils not only of their rights, but to treat them like animals, hurting and killing them wantonly, and if they protest peacefully to fire on them indiscriminately and then tell the world that those killed were "terrorists" and make speeches in international forums that "our great president" is working on ameliorating the grievances; the Sinhalese have gone through this routine for more than fifty years. It is so simple!

A separate state, therefore, is a sine qua non; we cannot allow this steadily worsening cycle of abuse to continue as the Sinhalese have demonstrated to us that they have totally inadequate political wisdom, a negative democratic temperament and total ignorance of statecraft to make it possible for a peaceful and prosperous co-existence.

The more unitary a polity we have, the more conflict, death, destruction and instability will be the order of the day. In the last fifty years, the Sinhalese have not evinced a single spark of humane political instinct. This is no hyperbole.

In what reads like a script for a sitcom, Mr Gunatilleke says "It must be emphasized that President Mahinda Rajapakse has gone on record not once but several times that he is in favor of granting maximum possible devolution". As the Americans say, "same old, same old." Does anyone notice that Mr Gunatilleke also says that "Rajapakse has gone on record not once but several times"?! So have the other Sinhala leaders too; they go on record - like a broken record! The Sinhala leaders do not mean it seriously, the Sinhala people do not take it seriously, the Tamils wished naively it were a serious intention.

Only the Tigers realized that it was totally deceitful and fraudulent; and how right they are!

Mr Gunatilleke’s reference to "Southern Consensus" and "devolve or share administrative power" through a democratic process is like asking a pack of wolves whether the sheep in the pen should be allowed to go free! "Devolving" is an elastic word, "possible" is a weasel word; and Mr. Rajapakse is in "favor". Put these together, as Mr Gunatilleke has done in the quote above, and one has a window unto the mind and "Chinthanaya" of Mahinda. All his talk about the APRC and an MOU with UNP, ostensibly to work out a definitive solution, besides being patently an eyewash, is now seen to be deservedly fatuous, for every move was in bad faith and thus the entire enterprise is in ruins. Nothing works except corruption and human rights violations in Sri Lanka.

Negotiations with the Sinhala government of Sri Lanka is like the familiar caricature of the man riding a donkey holding a rod attached to which is a string at the end which hangs a carrot just inches from the donkey’s snout. As the donkey moves to reach for it the carrot also moves. "Structurally" therefore it is impossible for the donkey to get the carrot unless it throws the rider off his back and grabs the carrot.

This is a paradigm of the Tamils’ condition and the behavior of the Sinhala leadership. In the negotiating scenario with the Sinhalese, the Tamils’ position is that of the donkey’s and the deceitful rider tantalizing with the carrot (autonomy), is the Sinhala leadership. If the donkey thinks that the rider on its back is riding him on a trip in order to feed him the carrot, clearly it is going to be deceived. So with the Tamils and the peace negotiations with the Sinhala leadership. Tamils are taken for a ride!

Evolution & 'Intransigence'

Mr Gunatilleke is speculating on a "metamorphosis" of the LTTE and points to "former militants now holding cabinet portfolios." The morphing of the individual he is referring to who is holding a cabinet portfolio is from that of a common criminal to an organized paramilitary criminal in the service of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Mr Gunatilleke’s government can have him and may even crown him as they propose to do.

The LTTE’s evolution has always been in progress, from a scrappy guerilla group into a formidable fighting force into a conventional army with a political division which, as mentioned earlier, runs an enviably clean and efficient administration. Maybe the GOSL administration can metamorphose into something like the LTTE’s and emulate its probity in government.

It is standard practice in negotiating posture and parlance to portray the other side as intransigent when this other side sees through one’s slick moves and thwarts them or refuses to be wheedled into. But in the case of negotiations with the LTTE, the GOSL’s behavior is both pure chicanery and downright intransigence.

Mr Gunatilleke artfully omits to mention the pacts signed between the Tamil leaders and Sinhala Prime Ministers in 1957 and 1965 which were publicly torn up literally. The India/Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 was not honored by Sri Lanka. In '89/'90 the pact between then-President Premadasa and the LTTE collapsed because of the failure on the part of Sri Lanka to abide by the provisions of the agreement. In '94/'95the LTTE unilaterally declared a ceasefire and called for peace talks.

The one requirement that the LTTE insisted upon as a prerequisite for the viability of the peace process has been the return to normalcy in the occupied areas of Eelam and specifically the return of the homestead of refugees which have been appropriated by the army. This condition has, hitherto, not been met. The GOSL has been clearly and obdurately intransigent for nearly twelve years. The plight of Tamil refugees evicted form their homes (another case of "ethnic cleansing") is of no consequence to the heartless and morally blind rulers from the South.

Despite this intransigent behavior (to quote Mr Gunatilleke’s verbatim), the LTTE continued to participate in the GOSL’s charade hoping for a "metamorphosis." However, the LTTE cannot be taken for "suckers" like the Tamil political leaders earlier.

Sinhala leaders before Kumaratunga simply tore up the agreements, hence the Tamils knew what the status was; leaders since then just file them away as they indeed intended all the way. This practice tantamounts to daring the LTTE to make the government implement the provisions of the agreements - which is provoking the LTTE.

Mr Gunatilleke wonders why the international community, (here he quotes Mr Burn’s intemperate statement about the LTTE with approval) including the US, encourage the GOSL to engage in negotiations with the LTTE "despite their intransigent behavior." I have tried to show in the preceeding that the intransigence is almost totally in the behavior of the GOSL. Perhaps the international community is fully aware of it. What the US says, for example, for international consumption, and what it believes to be the truth quite often are at variance, as the whole world knows, when Mr Burns’ former boss, Colin Powell, so eloquently demonstrated at the UN about Iraq’s WMD!

The US has to contradict itself because it knows that designating the LTTE as "terrorists" was a political FATWA and cannot be justified. It is, according to the political manual of the Bush administration, not the actions of an organization that qualifies it to be called "terrorist" but the epithet is given first in order to condemn its actions later as terrorist behavior to suit the politics of US and its client states. Decisions to impose sanctions are made first and excuses are sought later to designate groups as terrorists.

Client 'political parties'

"How come the international community have overlooked the need to support and empower those Tamil political parties which are democratic and are at the receiving end by the Tamil Tigers?" bemoans Mr Gunatilleke. This is laced with cynicism and hypocracy through and through. Remember the more than 50 years of "democratic" politics, the endless peaceful struggles by the Tamils, bad-faith agreements meant never to be fulfilled, the brutal treatment of the Tamils and their democratically elected leaders, the betrayals by the Sinhala leaders of every trusting Tamil politician? The Sinhala leaders have shown utmost contempt for Tamils’ democracy all along, they undermined it, subverted it, made it irrelevant and destroyed it.

According to the Sinhala lexicon "democracy" for the island is defined as rule of the Sinhala, by the Sinhala, for the Sinhala. When Mr Gunatilleke touts "democracy" for the Tamils he means this, for that is how the island is ruled and has been ruled.

Besides, how can the international community "empower those democratic Tamil political parties"? Does he mean "those democratic Tamil parties" which failed to get any support from the people, even though much of the Tamil electorate was under Sri Lankan army occupation (or maybe because of it)? Were not the 22 Tamil MPs of the TNA elected democratically by the voters?

Mr Gunatilleke concludes his speech with a suggestion of the "steps that need be taken if we were to focus on Sri Lanka tomorrow rather than today"-

Step I: There should be a commitment on the part of parties to the conflict that the conflict can be resolved only through negotiations and that it must be a democratic solution.

Response: Does it not sound familiar? Have we not tried this for nearly 40 years? Is this not a ruse to prolong an open-ended, interminable fraudulent process as has been the practice, hitherto? What is new about this proposal? Remember what the word "democratic" means to the Sinhala leaders. Rather than saying conflict can be resolved only through negotiations (which has not happened in 50 years, in our case) we should say that negotiations should be only for resolving conflicts, and not a tactic of procrastination.

To the GOSL negotiations are not just means for resolving conflicts, but an end in themselves - an endless end until the Tamil land is "democratically" colonized and the Tamils die out.

Step II: Parties should address all issues affecting all minorities, including the Tamils.

Response: Tamils are a nation, not a minority - No thanks for "including" us even among the "minorities" as an afterthought. The Tamils have struggled so long and sacrificed so much even as the minorities continue to spurn us and take the Sinhala side and commit violence against us, not to be told that the minorities are our problem. They are your government’s minorities, Mr Gunatilleke, and your government should find a solution for their problems, if they have any. So far they seem to be happy the way you treat them; so do not attempt to thwart the negotiations with this issue if you genuinely want them to succeed.

Step III: The APRC process should be fast tracked with a view to reaching consensus on political settlement within the shortest possible period.

Response: This, as with any GOSL scheme, has already bitten the dust through perfidy and bad faith.

Step IV: The latest round of negotiations, commenced in Geneva on October 28 ,should, within a specific time frame, focus on substantive matters with a view to ending the armed conflict and achieving a political settlement.

Response: If the tears that Mr Gunatilleke so solicitously sheds for the Tamils are not crocodilian, then he would agree with the LTTE that normalcy must be restored and the suffering of the refugees alleviated first before the undefined "substantive" matters are tackled. Do not hold the half a million IDPs hostage so that the GOSL can impose a political settlement. The INTRANSIGENCE of the GOSL on this matter is so cynical, heartless and purposeful.

Step V: In the process of negotiations for a political settlement, the Government should not overlook the moderate Tamil parties and Muslims in the parliament.

Response: Here we go again. What are the "moderate" Tamil parties? The only outfit headed by a solitary Tamil MP outside the TNA is not a political party but a paramilitary organization which is part of the GOSL armed forces. This particular MP was not even directly elected by the people and is alleged to have committed through his minions unspeakable crimes including serially multiple murders of innocent Tamils, men, women and children. This guy does not need representation in any political settlement. He needs to be brought before a criminal court.

As far as the Muslims are concerned, there are Sinhala-speaking Muslims and Tamil-speaking Muslims. Among them there are Muslims who are supportive of the government violence against the Tamils, including those who are in the armed forces and those who sit on the fence and enjoy the fruits of the discomfiture of the Tamils and those who are supportive of the Tamil struggle. One cannot lump them all together and dictate a blanket political solution. Besides, the LTTE does not have to deal with or solve the problems of those who are on the side of the GOSL.

Mr Gunatilleke’s performance has been slick and plausible and tailored for an audience unaware of the realities in Sri Lanka. As Upton Sinclair is quoted as having said, "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding". One could substitute "career", "power", "income" or "position" for "salary" and the statement will still hold true.


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