The Sunday Leader

The Sinhalese: Blasé!

By Charles Sarvan

A recognised and accepted evil

When Mahinda Rajapaksa came to power, the existence of an ethnic problem was an accepted fact; five years later its non-existence has become an accepted fact. The ethnic problem not only perished, it freed the Sinhala psyche from memories of past errors and crimes, from the Sinhala Only Language Act to the Black July massacres. After all, if the only problem was Tiger terrorism, then what we did or did not do would be irrelevant.
The Rajapaksas saved the Sinhalese from the burden of regret and guilt – and not having any responsibility for the plight of the Tamils, rendered pity and sympathy over their condition unnecessary. This mindset enabled us to look on with indifference not only at the suffering of civilian Tamils during the war but even afterwards, when more than 300,000 Tamils were kept in camps. Our perception, and therefore our definition, of these camps could have been various and contentious, but that need not have been a bar to sympathy, to a sense of human solidarity. The absence of any empathy was particularly outstanding in the South’s reaction to the plight of the Northern displaced. There was a wild rush [...] to visit the North, but not to help the homeless in the North. We worshipped and sea bathed and engaged in sightseeing but failed to be touched by the human misery around us. The regime’s very effective propaganda about happy welfare villages and rich Tamil refugees may have contributed to this near total absence of human solidarity – but that does not explain it. The blasé attitude came primarily from the belief of our own sinlessness, not just in the conduct of the war but also in creating conditions for it. We are the innocent; they are the guilty. And the guilty must bear the pain of retribution unalloyed by the balm of sympathy or pity. That is their karma.”
(Tisaranee Gunasekara, The Anatomy Of Rajapaksa Rule, in Dissenting Dialogue, Issue No. 1 November 2010. dissentingdialogues@gmail.com)
The above words reminded me of von Stauffenberg, and the German Resistance Memorial Centre, Berlin: for a few years, I happened to live in the continuation of the road now named after him. (Stauffenberg attempted to kill Hitler, failed and was executed the next day, 21 July 1944. A terrible revenge was exacted not only on the “conspirators” but on their families.)
There’s no doubt that, particularly at the start, the majority of Germans were supporters of Hitler, with an enthusiasm that passed into adulation. But there were a few who thought independently, and recognised Nazi fascism for what it was: an evil  based on racism and a callous contempt for what one would see as human and humane decencies  –  in short, as civilised conduct. Having recognised the true nature of the state and its political leaders; having grasped the terrible and tragic consequences on others,  they refused to look the other way; declined to be afraid and silent, resigned and passive.
Reading the testimony of these individuals (most written shortly before they went to their death) one of their concerns becomes clear, namely, that when in the future German history comes to be read and spoken about, it will also be acknowledged that at least a few Germans stood up and opposed injustice and cruelty; that not all were callous; that not in all Germans was consideration for others swept aside; that some were ashamed, rather than proud, to be racists. They acted despite danger and obloquy; though the chance of success was very slim. The witness they bore is remembered and honoured. The courage and integrity of those few redeem today (albeit to a small degree) the reputation of an entire people. Only Germans could attempt to wash away some of the stain of German cruelty, and the resulting shame on Germany.  Only a Sinhalese like Tisaranee Gunasekara (and a rare individual at that) could have written the lines quoted above.

39 Comments for “The Sinhalese: Blasé!”

  1. raymond

    The picture depicted above says it all!!!!!!

    • Nalaka

      Charles Sarvan, Tisaranee all are NGO paid people. They earn money by writing like this.
      This is the real truth you all must know.

  2. Panduka Dasanayake

    Thank you Dr Sarvan.
    This must surely prick the collective conscience of all Lankans – Sinhalese and Tamils.
    The blase` attitude that Thisaranee Gunasekera is cited having written, makes one lot forget that the others’ kamma, for which oneself is responsible in one way or another, affects oneself, too. None can escape this cycle. For the indifference shown by one side, they will also experience indifference at various stages, and so on.

    This should open the collective socio-political eye, to, at least now, enact the parity of English, SInhalese and Tamil languages as national languages.
    Isn’t it pathetic to see some Sinhalese and Tamils unable to communcate in an acceptable standard of English in international fora? This is pathetic for those who know what the standard of English education was in the 1950s. It is only very myopic people who would say that the non-English speaking elite were at the receiving end of jokes for their mistakes in English, so we must revert to a Sinahlese only social administration. Every nation makes fun of malapropism!

    But if this is made use of to reject an international language from the public school curriculum, and to promote a short-sighted, aberration of ‘nationalism,’ that is like throwing the baby with the bath water! For, the state of human development with an internationally relevant curriculum was indeed high when this nation gained indeoendence in 1948! Instead of using that as a platform to build on, we indeed threw out all that was foreign indiscriminately.

    From there, there was no stopping the nationalists! Undermine the English language, and undermine the language rights of a minority group within the country! What Sinhalese could be proud with this? Similarly, for Tamils to take up the cry for a separatist state because the Sinhalese have acted irresponsibly, was equally, myopic.

    If these acts led to a virtual hegemony of the Sinhalese within the Lankan nation, and a militant Tamil opposition, and these led to the brutal military conflict of 30+ years, it is a sad indictment on the whole nation for their inability to rise above themselves, in the interest of peace, law and order, mutual prosperity, and harmony.

    Tom Cruise plays the part of Von Stauffenberg in the cinematic expression of ‘Valkyrie,’ which was the German word for the provision of an operation to use the National Reserve Army to ake controlof the country, and Colonel Von Stauffenberg and other high ranking officers plot to use this provision to rid the country of Nazism and Hitler and Himmler and other SS officers, and introduce a post-Nazi Germany of greater peace and decency. Bill Nighy plays the part of General Olbricht.
    As much as Operation Valkyrie failed, an Von Sueffenberg and others were executed, Hitler and the SS came to be decimated too, in due course, and Germany freed of its Nazi regime, the Lankan nation can learn much to take matters of facing their past mistakes by themselves, seriously.

    Instead of denying the existence of an ethnic issue, work out its modes of settlement/resolution with mutual acceptance of one another. No side wins in a militarised conflict… And the Lankan nation can do much to admit its past mistakes, and look afresh at remedying their causes in the present, for a brighter, more harmonious future. And as this article portrays, the present remedy must be based on forgivance, asking and giving it, in a spirit of facing our sins to neutralise their malefic effects and move on in a meaningful way. May the rare Sinhalese become more common and so, may the Tamils reciprocate!

    May all be safe and well!

    • jayasena

      I think the comparison made by Tisaranee Gunasekara about Sinhala people and Nazi germans, Hitler and MR really show her ignorance. She would do well to read the policies and rhetoric of Hitler and their out and out racism.

      Had this women bothered to read the president’s speeches, his policies, his manifesto, such and outrageous and ignorant comparison could not be made.

      I think what is also noticeable is the hatred and racism of Miss Gunasekara towards Sinhala and bhuddists people. her willingness to categorise and generalise an entire race of people an entire religion, entire political parties, nations as racist in itself is an obvious bias on her part a negative bias towards that race of people.

      • samare

        Mr.Jinasena, it is you who have eyes and cannot see and there were an entire nation of Germans like you who believed that Hitler stood for all good and righteous. Everyone knows it is the Sinhala Bhuddist card that all politicians and the mahasanga play to get the support of the majority Sihalalese. We have seen how the budhist monks staged a protest when Harry J bought the controlling stake in Sampath Bank, votes. we have seen their presence when churches are stoned and when MTV station was stoned. These were Sinhala Bhuddist racist actions. By and large the Sinhala bhuddist historically willingly or not have lent its support to politicians, maha sanga and others who have played the Sinhala Bhuddist card.
        Then also see other similarities of the two persons politics, like politicizing the military and judiciary, political victimization, abuse of power using the emergency, censorship, self portrayal of MR as “God King’, control of persons behaviour, what they eat and drink, what one speaks, etc, use of CID and informants (secret police ), impunity, corruption, etc,etc.
        I am sorry if you cannot see the similarities as many Germans didn’t until whole of Germany was raised to the ground for supporting one megalomaniac to believe that he was God.

    • marcus fernando

      a very good article by the writer. Sir , I honour you for the gutty suggestions you have made. Hope our policy makers realise or foesee the the future crises and take some good decions, instead of making a fast buck on the present situation.

  3. Creator

    Sarvan,
    You are talking as if all Singhalese are bad and all Tamils are good. Why compare Singhalese to Hitler. Compare Prabakaran to Hitler. He did ethnic cleansing and chased killed all Singhalese and Muslims in that area.
    There were so many who tried to kill hitler and Perished.
    Heil Hitlre

    • Puravi

      Past 60 yrs more than two lakhs tamils are killed. Who is the responsible for that?
      Just think. Can you tell me how many of singalease are killed by prabhakaran?
      Did you know what singalease prisoner did in the velikada prison?

  4. Ram

    Charles Sarvan, we can understand who is the evil !.
    You are a shameless man to publish this Hitlers photo to compare Mahinda,

  5. kevin

    who cares. lol.

  6. kugan

    excellent article, hope the sinhalease read it n understand the suffering of our people.
    “a nation can never develop when a part of ur citizens r unhappy”- singapore president.

    • billy

      what a pitty, why the singahale should be responsible for the communal and tribal thinking of racist tamils and their so called leaders since the chelva and ponnambalam..it not singhalse fault that tamls are unable to integrate in to the common society!

      • billy

        and by the way , since the start of tribal and comunal politics of chelva and ponnambalam, tamils created all this and now why cry for the consequences…im sure u were quite happy during the time the sun goat was herding ur people all over as the human shield!

        • Puravi

          Can u list out any one good singalease leader from the past SRILANKA ERA?

          who at least tried to give the equal priority to tamils….

  7. R.M.B Senanayake

    Instead of mutual recrimination let us at least watch whether the path of Hitler will be followed or not. Let us at least do our best to point out the similarities to caution the present regime following the same path. What did this path involve: the suppression of the media; the use of the secret police or an equivalent Intelligence Squad under any other name; the centralization of power; the elimination of rival political parties;intimidating the Religious Establishment – the majority religion and cowing them into submission if not servile obedience; the undermining of the independence of the Judiciary by appointing place seekers who can be bought over for perks, the dismantling of all checks & balances. Our ancient kings ruled some justly and some unjustly but none built institutions, except perhaps the Gam Sabhawas which dealt with parochial issues- a necessity at a time when transport and communications were difficult. Without healthy institutions which act independently there can be no truth or justice. We are already known as a country where there is no justice, even apart from the ethnic problem.

  8. A majority of the majority have been living in the past for the past 62 years…which is a fast lane to NOWHERE! Where will this country be in another 62 years? My guess is, a hermit kingdom like North Korea!

  9. Appuhamy

    I think Saravan means that Hitler is to Rajapakse as Mahatma Gandhi is to Prabhakaran! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ……….

  10. ranbanda

    Sarvan, you praise Thisaranee uncritically because what she says fits your agenda. Stop demonising the Sinhalese even if demonising the Sinhalese is what your Goebelsians (Eelam propgandists) have been doing for a long time and continue to do. Instead of pointing an accusing finger at the Sinhalese, take a good, hard look at yourselves. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll see your hypocrisy and the crimes against humanity perpetrated by your heroes.

  11. Lucky

    I like the way Charles Sarvan refers to ‘what WE did or did not do’ and ‘OUR perception’. This gives the impression that the writer is a Sinhalese and not the Thomian old boy Charles S. Ponnuthurai.

  12. Puravi

    Dear Sir,
    First Mahinda should admit his mistakes. Then only the rehabilitation is possible one. Past 60 yrs tamils are suppressed by the singalease chauvinist like mahinda. In mahinda regime good journalist and common people are suffered.

    • billy

      what on earth, mahinda should be admit as mistakes…destroying the tamil terrorism for good,..thats a good one…..why dont u look at ur past mistakes starting from the forefathers of tamil racism since 1920s…

      • Puravi

        1. For Srilanka Development, Tamilnadu tamils are contributed more. But Sirimavo Pandaranayake simply eliminated them as a refuge in 1960′s. Still they are not good in terms of their economy.
        2. In Lanka, tamils are not possible to get the president post or prime minister post. This is biggest discrimination in the world. Then where is equality in srilanka?.

        Dear Billy,
        Past 60 years tamils are suffered. Genocide happened. War Crimes Happened. Its only your regime. But you are simply blaming tamils when British was ruling lanka.

        • Rangi

          Can we use this opportunity for a progressive discussion.

          What are the most important thing we can discuss here… (just my ideas)
          1) Do we have a problem here.
          2) Then specifically identify issues.(I believe most of the Sinhalese are not clear of these as there is less communication between these two communities)
          3) What causes those.
          4) Can we fix those.
          5) How can we fix those

          Rather than wasting words to blame each other, shall we start some useful discussion as such…

          For a start we have two points that Puravi is pointing as issues…

  13. Puravi

    I deeply expressed my condoles to LASANTHA WIKRAMASINGE. Who has a guts to express his views against the facist mahinda.

    • Ram

      Puravi ,Yes we can understand why you like him ? he was a kind of LTTE supporter , that is why you like him .

  14. mercator

    Comparing Tissaranee Gunasekera to Stauffenberg and Germans with a conscience ? What a laugh – TG is nothing but a vitriol-spewing, Rajapakse-hatinng anti Sri Lankan. Sarvan has clearly forgotten the paeans she sang to the Invincible and undefeatable LTTE in her past… One can only assume she truly misses the carnage they created in Sri Lanka and would dealry love to have those ‘gold-old-days’ back..

  15. Peter

    I have to respond to the author with my own perspective. Hitler became a bad guy in the eyes of westerners because he was acting on his own soil instead of like other eastern countries did, killing thousands in the colored world. Many people seemed to like as usual, anything come from the west is correct and we the third world ready to welcome them with open arms. The truth is that Hitler was acting against a shrewd minority that was cheating on the majority Germans without any decency while going to the edges of the laws. Today same things happen in the American Wall Street where these people make millions in a week at the expense of the others. Once in a blue moon they get caught like what happened to Bernard Madoff. He acted all these years pretended to be a gentleman but, he stole billions from ordinary people. He will die in jail after convicted for his illegal acts but, his family still enjoys part of his loot. Isn’t that worse than blood diamond? Hitler was protecting his people from the outsiders who had know decency.

  16. SimonAiya

    Sri Lanka’s “ethnic problem” was never that, but an egoistic, supremacist-racist-separatist problem created by a minority from the minority Tamil group. Later when unbridled terrorism was added to it for good measure, as inevitable, calamity descended on the whole nation overnight.

    To illustrate, the fallacy of saying that Sri Lanka had/has an “ethnic problem” and the problem is rooted in the institutionalized discrimination of Tamils is plainly evidenced by the mere facts that In 1981, just before this so called “ethnic war” started, 12.6 % Tamils accounted for 25% of those entering University for Medical studies, 24% for Dentistry, 40% for Veterinary Science and relatedly, Tamils also accounted for 34.9% engineers; 35% doctors; 38.8% Veterinary Surgeons and 33% Accountants in Public service. One may try as hard to deny these facts, but the fact remains that the minority Tamils in Sri Lanka have always had a far disproportionate percentage of the nation’s plum positions/professions not seen anywhere else for a similar minority on this planet. Despite the high standings they enjoyed, when a minority of that minority adds separatism to their never-ceasing cry for “more,” then it not thermonuclear science to realize that a calamity should await the whole nation. Quoting a “Sinhalese” such as Tisaranee Gunasekara, a self-avowed communalist, an anti-Sinhela anti-Buddhist pro-West individual with a special agenda as evidenced by her writings, is not going to help deny these stark, soul-searching facts.

    When Mahinda Rajapakse came to power, what existed was a heinous terrorism problem and not an ethnic problem – quite plainly seen by the fact that by which time there were more than enough fellow Tamils who, after having reached a point of disgust with the separatist agenda and the violence and counter violence over nearly two decades, were cooperating with the security forces to liquidate fellow Tamils in the LTTE.

    If Sinhalese as a label should be ashamed for the July 1983 tragedy, then I believe the Tamils, especially the Tamil Diaspora, as a label must bury its head in crying-shame for supporting a heinous form of terrorism against Sri Lanka, and worse still, not lifting one finger to support the unfortunate fellow Tamils of Internally Displaced Persons category (read: LTTE’s Human Shield) when the need arose post-LTTE.

    It is the same hypocrisy as this writer’s that gave rise to this calamity and until such is brought under check, the danger of a repeat is unquestionably real.

  17. Raju

    As a Tamil I am disturbed by the comments of the writer. If the so called bias exists how come so many Tamils holding wonderful position both in the administration and private sector. There is millionaire Tamil businessman milking money as if no tomorrow. The so called un-bias Tamils in Tamil Nadu what have they done. Changing the name of Madras to Chennai is un-bias to them. In Tamil Nadu administration how many non Tamils holding positions. Then TNA has expelled the only Sinhalese MP on flimsy ground. Tamil Diaspora in Western countries thrives with their only Tamil agenda. They deliberately push other Sri Lankans away from their form. The bias the writer is talking is applied only to Sinhalese and not the Tamils who carry on regardless. The expelling of Sinhalese and Muslims from Jaffna during LTTE rule seems to be forgotten.

    • Dear Raju,
      Problems of tamils began long ago from 1956 onwards – when they were butchered periodically merely because they demanded equal rights.
      http://nesohr.org/files/Lest_We_Forget.pdf
      Tamils held positions by dint of hard work and study even during the british era, and this was held against them. Sirimavo B introduced her infamous “Mediawise Standardisation” of University Entrance Results and this was one of the causes which forced tamil youth to rebel and take up arms.

  18. Puravi

    LTTE or Tamils or Singalease???
    First be a human.
    If mahinda is not a war criminal, then why he afraid to investigate the war crimes against him and LTTE?

  19. Creator

    To me the photograph resembles Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman. Same size musto. Anyway Hitler was from a superior race not a low caste fisher folks or from a smuggler.

  20. Silmy

    Editor Saunday Leader. Really a nice article. FYI all your readers know the situation of country as u say in the article. But these should reach people who are unable to read english. 90% of the supporters of hitler (u know who) canot read english.

  21. suganthy Arumugam

    Dear Sarvan,
    you have the guts to engage with these intellectual zombies. All the best

  22. Wimalan

    I don’t want to comment on the article itself but would take exception to the comments made by ‘Ram’. Obviously a person who uses such words is not capable of intellectual debates. It is good to accommodate all views, but certain standards should be maintained.

    Ram, if you are going to reply me in the same way, I will just take it as you are referring to your mother.

Comments are closed

Photo Gallery

Log in | Designed by Gabfire themes