The Uphill Road

The winners in Sri Lanka’s civil war continue to make life hard for the losers

OFTEN, when Sri Lanka’s ethnic-Sinhalese-dominated government appears to be offering a hand in friendship to the Tamil minority, it turns out to be a slap in the face. For example, in 2010 it appointed a Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the final phase of the 26-year civil war. But many Tamils saw it as a whitewash, because it absolved the Sri Lankan army of charges that it had deliberately attacked civilians during the war’s apocalyptic final battles in 2009, and many of its confidence-building recommendations have not been implemented. Or take the election scheduled for this September in the north of the country when (mostly Tamil) voters are for the first time to elect a provincial council. The government is now moving to neuter the council, depriving the region of much of the autonomy it had been promised.

The election would honour the letter of a 1987 amendment to the constitution, the 13th. This was a legacy of India’s disastrous intervention in the civil war with the Tamil Tigers, who had been fighting for a separate Tamil homeland, or “eelam”. Written at India’s behest, the amendment devolved political power to the provinces, including, in theory, to the Tamil-majority north. In eight other provinces councils have been elected. Holding the election now will fulfil promises to India, Japan and others that want to see a genuine effort at national reconciliation after the rout of the Tigers. The government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa has itself long promised greater autonomy for the Tamils.

The government would lose a fair provincial election. Demoralised after the defeat of the Tigers in 2009, resentful of the large numbers of soldiers in their province, and suspicious that the government is planning large-scale Sinhalese immigration, Tamils in the north are likely to vote for their own parties, in the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) coalition. The government has pushed through changes that would enable those displaced from the region during the war to come back to vote. But the Tamil parties have welcomed the changes, calculating that more Tamils than Sinhalese or Muslims would make the trip home.

The government also wants to amend the 13th amendment, diluting it in two ways. One is to remove the right that adjacent provinces have to merge. It fears that the Northern Province would rejoin its neighbour, the Eastern Province, which has a mixed population of Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese. Combined, the two provinces would cover about 30% of Sri Lanka—and have a Tamil majority. In 1990 a local leader declared independence for this region as a Tamil eelam. Sinhalese nationalists are convinced that the TNA has similar plans. The president’s brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the defence secretary, has said that a TNA win would “jeopardise national security and integrity”. Less cautious coalition partners warn luridly of another bloodbath.

The second set of changes is more controversial. They would weaken the provinces’ power to block laws and constitutional changes that affect them. This power can be irksome for the centre. Last year, for example, a national bill on rural development was held up by the courts on the ground that many of its provisions were provincial issues. The government is not alone in thinking that the two-tier system introduced by the 13th amendment is cumbersome and inefficient. But to Tamils in the north, it looks as if the bar is closing just as they are being let into the party.

The 13th-amendment dust-up shows three things about the Rajapaksas (President Mahinda heads a clan that sits atop the Sri Lankan polity). The first is their readiness to use their healthy parliamentary majority to drive through controversial measures with a minimum of democratic process. In 2010 the 18th amendment to the constitution was adopted by means of an “urgent” parliamentary bill. It was a mystery what the urgency was in lifting Mr Rajapaksa’s term limit and according him the final say in the most important civil-service, judicial and police appointments. In January this year, after the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the government-inspired impeachment of the chief justice, the president and parliament simply overruled it. Now the merger-banning part of the 13th amendment may again be introduced as an “urgent” bill.

Second is the Rajapaksas’ centralising tendency. The two themes of their rule are to take power back to the central government and to make the central government ever more of a family-run conglomerate. And they have an authoritarian streak. This week their government produced a draft media code that Human Rights Watch, a New York-based watchdog, said, “could have a severe and chilling effect on free speech.” Third is their willingness to sacrifice national reconciliation for enhanced “security”—however far-fetched it now seems that the cowed Tamil population might again take up arms.

These tendencies have costs. Sri Lanka is still the butt of criticism from Western governments for failing to provide any proper accounting of the horrors at the end of the war and for continuing to discriminate against minorities. The Tamil diaspora remains influential in heaping international opprobrium on the government. And Sri Lanka’s relations with India remain fraught because of the sympathies of Indian Tamils for their ethnic kin.

Homeland security

Yet the government can shrug off foreign carping, pointing out that China is ever ready to help. A jamboree later this year, when Sri Lanka plays host to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, is unlikely to be much disrupted by boycotts. Even if it is, it would only boost the Rajapaksas’ popularity with the Sinhalese. Yet continuing Tamil alienation does matter. Drastically under-represented in the civil service and the army, for example, many Tamils want not their own homeland so much as simple equality. In refusing to grant them that, the government is fostering the separatism which it so fears.

No Responses to “The Uphill Road”

  1. Vibhushana

    It does seem that way, doesn’t it? Although being the devils advocate I feel a vital pre-requisite for normalisation or “genuine reconciliation” is missing.

    In many ways the Voddokkodai resolution is akin to the Perl Harbour incident where the Jaffanese declares war on the Sinhalese. Hiroshima and Nagasaki is comparable to the final stand taken at Mulliavalikkal. The Japanese formally Surrender on board USS Missouri to USA. However, this final comparable action of the formal surrender is missing as far as the Jaffanese are concerned. The state of war is still in many ways is active. I believe a genuine “hand of friendship” will forth come with a formal surrender of the Voddokkadai resolution.

    • meikandan

      I see Vibhushana’s writing is akin to the speaking of Hitler. Only a devil can compare the destruction Hiroshima and Nakasaki to the genocide in Mullivaikal. The genocidal devils are speaking about ‘Vaddukoddai Resolution’ as being ‘Pearl Harbour’. This suggests there is no ‘genuine reconciliation’ possible with the genocidal state as they are looking for ‘complete surrender’.

      Vibhushan forgets that with the current international system, it is very possible to turn some world powers against the genocidal state of Sri Lanka. The example is Libya which was run by Gadaffi family very much like the MR family. We all know many sinhalese do not approve the Mahinda ways, and given proper ‘assistance’ will wipe out the MR gang and their ‘blood thirsty side-kicks’.

      Not too long ago, Gadaffi was dragged out of Sewage duct by his own people and ‘beaten’ to death.

      Also Vibhushana, remember, the majority of the tamils live outside of Sri Lanka. So, even if MR wipes out all SL tamils, there are plenty left to cause havoc for SL. But, if majority of the sinhalese live in SL with a handful left elsewhere….. You got to be careful what you wish for.

  2. Vibhushana

    Well gee, that would be the first time someone compared me to Hitler! There is always a first I guess. First of all I do not bat for any team. If people decide to drag MR to a sewage duct, so be it.

    Seriously though, how can there be peace until threat of session remains? The declaration for dividing the country must be formally withdrawn If Tamil leadership wants full normalisation. I thought that was the sensible thing to do. Don’t get me wrong, If secession is still the end goal, its fine by me too.

    Genocide in Mullivaikal? I think you must be confused there – “genocide” entails intentional destruction of a culture. I don’t think Sri Lanka can afford to commit genocide on Tamils. I mean who is going to harvest tea and tobacco afterwards? Isn’t the Cricket captain a Tamil? How did he escape this genocide? If you must know, this Mullivaikal genocide thing always generate a quiet chuckle in many parts of the world.

    • Meikandan

      First of all, check your spelling before posting comments. It is not ‘session’ as you mentioned, but ‘secession’.

      Second, there is no need to withdraw the resolution. The ball is on Sorry GOSL’s court to initiate proper measures of reconciliation. First the, threat of forcible colonization, forcible land grab, forcible abductions and undue interference of the ‘rapists’ ridden SL army in tamil, muslim areas need to come to a complete stop. Then ‘true’ reconciliation has to begin. If these things are assured there could be consideration in dropping the demand.

      Contrary to what you say, even after the Mullivaikal, the GOSL is hell bent on destroying tamil hindu and muslim places of worship, they are hell bent on rewriting history book with lies, plus the SLA is interfering and purposefully obstructing tamil related events whenever they get an opportunity, plus they want to prevent tamils from building their economy the way they want —- all these actions are tools of structural and cultural genocide.

      The whole world is waking up to this. But, some people pretending to be ‘as sleep’ have not. Mahinda has sold Sri Lanka to China in the name of tamil hatred. The Sri Lanka does not belong to Sri Lankans any more. It belongs to the super power China. The Chinese can take anything they want from Sri Lanka. SO MUCH FOR THE “MOTHER LANKA” rhetoric…. This is downright laughable when Sinhalese speak of ‘buddhism only’ when Chinese call the shots in the island.

      • Meikandan


        Tamils are only doing legal work, including high ranking professional jobs to ‘tea harvesting’ etc.

        However, we all know the ‘sinhala’ sri lanka economy runs mainly on ‘selling the sinhala boys and girls’ of the down south to the foreign pedophiles for their desires.

        In a nutshell, there is only one race that makes a sizeable income through prostitution, which is the ‘Mahavansa’ loving majority in Sri Lanka.

        I guess, that will make your day today…

  3. Vibhushana

    You sound to me like the good old days when the freedom movement called the shots. Remember, “you must clear A9 before” this and that etc etc. Unfortunately, accounts clerks of tea laboures its the Sri Lankan collective that sets the terms and conditions. Sri Lanka is implementing reconciliation as it deems fit. I suppose if the freedom movement actually won the final war then terms and conditions would have been their prerogative.

    I am surprised there is concern with the Sri Lankan collective protecting religious places of worship. If there was only a time there was a blip in history was savagery displayed with desecration of Nagadhipa, Anuradhapura, Temple of the tooth and hacking to death child monks at Arantalawa. The reason I recommend to withdraw the Vodokkodai thing was every time the Sri Lankan collective makes a decision, it remembers and the outcome coloured by these events. This is not to say, there is no forgiveness.

    85,000 ex-LTTE widows no jobs, alcoholism and depression has made some of these areas sleaze capitals. No amount of screams of ‘rape’ is going to hide the fact it has become a cottage industry there. So I would be careful pointing fingers viz-a-viz prostitution.

    • Meikandan

      Again you have proved that ‘sinhalese’ are very weak in mathematics. There was never 85000 LTTE widows, let alone the whole LTTE. LTTE in total amounted to the maximum of 30000. Then how on earth you can have 85000 LTTE widows???. Are you halucinating??.

      Plus, there is no cottage industry run by tamils for the sleaze, except your sorry ‘war heroes’ soldiers and their pathetic paramilitary sidekicks are trying to coerce the widows towards prostitution, with minimal success…. as some people desperate for money may fall for it. However, it is changing as the sorry SLA is being exposed every day.

      Violence begets violence. If sinhala thugs and their pay masters killed thousands of tamils and destroyed places of worship starting from 1958 all the way. So, Arantalawa incident was a warning to the SLA thugs and their ‘blood thirsty’ section of bhikkus that tolerance had a limit.

      Get this from us. Vaddukoddai or nothing will be withdrawn, until the SLA and GOSL thugs behave better.

      The more you harass the tamils in the island, the more we will cause pain on the economy and well being of the SL for many years to come. It is a promise. With LTTE not there to blame, you and your likes will find it hard to justify atrocities on tamils.

      You guys are in for a long haul man… We already made you become ‘slaves’ of China. By drawing you in to an unending waste of your money and energy, we will make you slaves of the whole world.

      With that the final victory is for justice.

      By the way, find a proper teacher (probably a tamil) for brushing up your math skills……

  4. Vibhushana

    Look, even I was surprised by the number. I was only quoting TNA good ol’ Samba. I just did a search its in fact 89,000. A sizable number from this must be on a lap of a soldier at one time or another. It a sad situation. We need not gloat the sorry state they must be in. So unless its similar to Mulliavakial genocide hoax there must be some truth to it.

    As far as promises go Sri Lanka is not doing what was not done even before 1958. It has consistently said no to ethnic ghettos ever since. If this is what you mean by ‘harassing Tamils’ then I fear it will continue to pursue this line. There has been political and military clashes to change the status quo before and after LTTE. What has changed? The only change I suppose has been creation of war widows – isn’t it?

    • Meikandan


      Again you proved that not only you are weak in mathematics, but also, you don’t pay attention to detail as well. Sampanthan probably said 85000 war widows, not necessarily 85000 LTTE war widows as you said in your post. You still have not got the point. That does not surprise me as most of the sinhala supremacists do not pay attention to the facts.

      Also, you are overly halucinating when you say the war widows are ending up in SLA military men’s laps. We know the SLA is looking for such opportunities and by providing the sadistic desires of people like you out in this forum, everyone in the world can know how unsuitable the sinhala race is to the global civilization.

      You are providing a comic soap opera in this forum to show how a typical hela urumaya speaks. No one should be surprised by this as the sinhalese themselves have accepted in Mahavansa that ‘half of their ancestry comes from a ‘lion’ which is an animal’. Therefore the animalistic uncivilized attitude is part of the sinhala gene, I guess. Probably the progressive sinhalese do not belong to this gene group, but the MR types and Hela Urumaya types, I guess.

  5. Angela

    Oh man, this jokester’s back eh? Still not better from your rehabilitation therapy and bowel cleansing I see, I’ll get back to you (or never) whenever you’re ready to sit up like a good big boy and talk without your bar of soap people need to keep giving you.

  6. Angela

    @Meikandan Don’t waste your time on this bimbo. He was run out of the forum a couple months ago, but somehow he thinks he will last with no spine and an empty numbskull. Someone should have paid for his grade school fees, poor fool.