Should Tamils be Loyal Sri Lankans?

By Prof S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole

It is important for Sri Lankans to see that Jaffna attack in the context of an indeciplined military

Minorities are easy targets in a Sinhalese polity believing that no one else belongs. As Tisaranee Gunasekara has noted, UPFA ministers have attacked the Chief Justice for having Tamil lawyers – although Neelakandan voted for the BASL resolution against the Ban Ki Moon Report, it did not help him.
Thrishantha Nanayakkara has drawn our attention to an ITN programme where Minister Wimal Weerawansa makes much of the Court of Appeal bench ruling on the CJ matter consisting of two Tamils and a Muslim (whereas it really had one of each community, including a Sinhalese).
The Muslims too are caught up as hate campaigns are launched against halal food (ignoring that the rest of us have Poya food imposed on us by closing meat stalls on full moon days) and Muslims being successful at Law College entrance exams (ignoring that Muslims have preserved multilingualism, giving them an edge in English medium exams and those requiring wide reading).

Jaffna University

As Jaffna University is attacked and Douglas Devananda’s appointees manage it, the President has complained privately that Douglas with his thuggery is costing him support and he is looking for other Tamils to join him. The President is play-acting: his brothers speak against the 13th Amendment in general; he for it in India; and Douglas for it among Tamils. They are as thick as thieves and cannot afford to let go of each other because of each other’s dark secrets they carry.
Unfortunately some Tamils believe this charade. When Douglas’ VC was caught between army orders to reopen the university and adamant students who refused to resume classes before their arrested colleagues are released, she was desperate as her reputation among Tamils sank low. Believing that Douglas had lost clout, it was to the SLFP’s Jaffna organizer Angajan Ramanathan and Mr. Ramachandran (I believe from Germany) who runs ‘Tamil Buddhists’ that she turned. The meeting they arranged through Gotabaya with Jaffna Commander Hathurusinghe resulted only in her eating his Palahaarams (viands) as noted last week.
By-passed, an angry Douglas issued orders at his Pre-Council Meeting. At Saturday 29th University Council his appointees thundered: “Douglas can deliver. You should have called an emergency meeting.” Douglas then attended a meeting on Thursday with the Minister for Higher Education where the VC was asked to reopen after Thaipongal and bring the arrestees’ parents to Douglas who would ask his friend the President to release them. Will the President countermand his brother Gotabaya for Douglas? Is it a game to enhance Douglas?
Giving hope that Sri Lanka is still a viable nation, southern students Wednesday distributed posters in Colombo in support of their Jaffna colleagues, even as the Federation of University Teachers’ Associations planned a delegation of 20-30 members at January’s end to Jaffna, joined by the Inter-University Student Federation. As I feared that the government may use the IUSF presence to launch another attack, the IUSF president Sanjeeva Bandara himself was attacked in Kelaniya on the 30th. He has blamed the army.

Tamils Helpless

In the meantime Tamils without access to the law and order machinery or to the administrative apparatus in a Sinhalese state, continue to suffer. Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar was questioned by the CID in an attempt to silence outspoken Tamils. Thuwarakeswaran, the brother of UNP MP Maheswaran who was shot dead in Colombo, had acid thrown on him at the Nallur Temple. Uthayan reports that in his police complaint he has identified the assailant as Governor G. A. Chandrasiri’s personal secretary and former military officer Jayakody who had fled the scene with four others and stated that Jayakody had been following him. The poor terrified fellow is in hiding.
Striking terror among Tamils, four-year-old Surendren Sudanththini was raped and her body recovered on the 28th from a well in Mandaithivu, controlled by Douglas and the Navy. Elsewhere, Dr E. Shivashankar, who went with a Tamil girl tricked into the army and her parents from Kilinochchi (Rudrapuram) after her OL exam, was detained on a certificate declaring the doctor insane! ENT Surgeon Dr Thirumaaran, who earlier had his arm slashed, has fled Jaffna.
Today as schools reopened there are reports that soldiers will compulsorily teach Sinhalese to Tamils in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. TNA MP Sritharan has questioned how Grade 6 qualified soldiers can teach. Education officials ran away from reporters pleading ignorance. The gimmick was sanctioned by a Presidential Working Group.

Paranoid Government

A young man, who placed flowers on his mother’s grave in Northeast Jaffna on Dec. 26, the anniversary of her perishing in the tsunami, was arrested, accusing him of celebrating the LTTE although it was December not November. I was invited to a Christmas party by Tamils from Windsor Canada and Detroit Michigan. As the meeting began a person suddenly called for 2 minutes’ silence for all who had died in May 2009. I saw no harm. Of the 70,000 estimated to have been killed by government forces in the UN Petrie Report, there were hardly 10,000 LTTE, the majority being children and the uncommitted forced to bear arms. It can therefore be safely surmised that most of the 70,000 killed by our army (whether in cold blood or by asking them to shelter in protected areas and then bombing them) were innocents. Those standing up continued to talk and were disengaged as at Tamil functions.
A general attack on Tamil university students by the army is, in my mind, as absurd as if the Canadian Government had decided to bomb that hall where we stood up to commemorate the dead in the name of fighting a banned terrorist organization. It is important for Sri Lankans to see that Jaffna attack in the context of a berserk military continuing its genocide.

Brigadier Ravi Ratnasingam

Ravi Ratnasingam has received headlines after his visit to North America during Christmas. Reports suddenly allege that he played a part in the massacre of 70,000 as the commander of Vavuniya from 2001.
From Royal College, he is one of few Tamils in the army and had a good reputation – especially in rehabilitation work in the Wanni after the war. His wife is an old girl of CMS Chundikuli and from Somasundaram Avenue. They are both extremely well-liked.
But to a private party thrown to him in New York, Major General Shavendra de Silva who is accused of war crimes flew all the way from Geneva. This association does no good for a Tamil who has helped many people get released from detention.
A pattern is emerging where the army is trying to find scapegoats for its criminal activity. Is the Tamil Ratnasingam being set up to take the fall for de Silva? We see the same thing in Jaffa where Hathurusinghe has suddenly said that about “1,000 ex-LTTE cadres have evaded rehabilitation and are currently engaged in criminal activities in the North.” This runs counter to his statement two years ago that the EPDP is responsible for criminal activities in Jaffna at a time when it was said that with so many checkpoints no robber can move about without army connivance, and he was trying to extricate the army.

Canada

In Canada for Christmas as Sri Lanka goes downhill, I must confess to second thoughts about having returned home. A few of us who had been happy in Sri Lanka returned. Today many of us have gone abroad again; at least our children have. I am pained for our failed dreams of home.
That pain and regret were underscored when the Rector of St. Paul’s l’Amoreaux in Scarborough, the Rev. Canon Dean Mercer, before pronouncing the benediction at the Tamil New Year Service conducted by Jaffna’s Rev. Isaac Selvaratnam and Batticaloa’s Mr. Vivekanandan, said this:
“The Canadian tradition at New Year was to make merry. After Tamils and West Indians came, I am glad it is now to be present in the House of God as the New Year dawns.”
Our talents and culture, so rudely rejected in Sri Lanka, are welcomed and used with appreciation, making me ask “Where is home?”

20 Comments for “Should Tamils be Loyal Sri Lankans?”

  1. jazeel

    Wonderful submission. I appreciate your style of writing more than anything else. I am learning a lot from your good language, which systematically construct a good presentation.
    How you have collected all these information which a journalist find difficult?. You have prove to be one of the best researcher. We salute for your brave writing which is an important part to give a relief to the suffering minorities and corrupt officials

  2. Edward

    This issues comes from politician nothing wanna to have any separated so called sinhalese ,tamils muslims etc… in sri lanka , We we meet any sri lankan people overseas we never talk about races , as long as we all Sri lankan we share all what we are . Coming to the land we still do have good understanding , they never talk about dividing the country ,
    politician to gain votes and power they talk that they are the people who can resuse there nationalities , they come and go we suffer .

    What a country is sri lanka now ……!!!!!

  3. Vichara

    70,000 Tamil civilian deaths.?

    Could the writer please reveal the number of Tamil civilian deaths as reported fastidiously in 2008 and 2009 by the pro LTTE TamilNet?

  4. das

    The problem is that it is not just the sinhala majority who are racist. The minorities are equally guilty.

  5. Siva

    Be loyal to the flag. Make money and show how lazy the Sinhalese are!

  6. Shaik Anwar Ahamath

    Should Tamils be Loyal Sri Lankans? The alternative is unthinkable. We are forever grateful for a great many true sons of Sri Lanka who tirelessy and selflessly fought the British for our independence that we cherish and enjoy today. Before that there were wicked rulers running riot against the whole community comprising of many races. Equally there were also Muslims and Burghers standing shoulder to shoulder with the Sinhalese in these fights and I hate to think they made the sacrifices in vain.

  7. Richard

    How can Tamils be expected to be loyal Sri Lankans when majority of Sri Lankans believe Tamils do not belong to Sri Lanka?

  8. Living the dream in the mighty west

    I left SL many years ago and now living a paradise dream in the west. SL is still under developed, no future for anyone especially children. SL lacks basic facilities like shelter, clean water and air. There is so much poverty and decease, murders, rapes and killings. How can you even come on a holiday? I am living my dream in a country where there is freedom to express my views, clean air, roads, high standard of living and the list goes on.

  9. Psycho

    The LTTE shall arise soon and the mighty Tamil diaspora will take over SL soon. The writing is on the wall. SL is going down and going down the slide faster than superman.

  10. walgampola

    This is where the Tamil people got it wrong! its like asking whether you should you love your mother, Just because your auntie hurls abuse at you, your step farther beats you…. because of racist sinhala Budhists are racists and say you don’t belong, you feel marginalized, there is no signs of progress; you question your right to be part of your mother land, your country ? The African American never asked this question, the The Black South African never asked this question

  11. krishan canagasabey

    Prof, why are you writing about the difficulities faced by the “Sri Lankan” tamils, during the LTTE time you murdered them daily with the pen, they were never a good thing but they as has now been proven were better than having the singhalese army raping the land and the women.

    Know your enemy before talking about short coming of others..

  12. Thinakaran

    Whatever it is ,Tamils were still and will be opressed and eventually it will lead to the extinction of Tamils in Sri Lanka which the Sri Lankan goverment also eagerly waiting and alsp planning to see and also by the Colonisation scheme,this colonisation scheme is one of the Pillars of the Sri Lankan civil war and despite all these ethnic tensions and civil war the Sri Lankan goverment is still pursuing their colonisation ambition.Actually the Tamils should not voice out only for their rights but also for their 2 millenia years exsistence in the Ceylon island.

  13. Jesudasan

    Canada is HOME. That is where all Tamilians should be. Lets hope Canadians will take us all in. God will help us. Lanka is no good, Sinhalams are no good

  14. Asoka Jayawardane

    Where is HOME? Sri Lanka belongs to Sinhalese and Tamil Nadu belongs to Tamils. Each and every Sri Lankans dont like terrorists, seperatists and haters of Sri Lanka. Last 35 years gave bad impression to west and world about Sri Lanka and Sinhalese. Still they doing also. Who robbed Sri Lanka’s wealth last 60 years? Simple answer is Tamils. Each and every Colombo Tamil Company heavyly funded to LTTE to destroy Sri Lanka. ( Destroyed Central Bank, Airports, Aircrafts, Oil Tanks etc etc) Sinhalese Nation’s wealths robbed these Tamils and these wealth utilized out side Sri Lanka and this is well known secret also.In India
    indians are telling “if you see tamil and cobra, kill Tamil first” There are so many proverb about Tamils. All these things pefectly illatrated by Indians.

  15. gamarala

    Schools are being compelled to teach sinhala as second language in place of english.Teachers are to be armymen in uniform.

  16. If the so called TAMILS are from Sri Lanka and are Sri Lankans, yes they should be loyal to Sri Lankans. Otherwise why claim that they are from Sri Lanka

  17. Nipun

    wow did i just read this “the majority being children and the uncommitted forced to bear arms”

    Do I sense a dire attempt to put the 70,000 LTTE deaths in the last Elam war staged by the LTTE as killing of civilians?

    Who asked the dead if they ment to carry weapon for a real or for fun in the middle of the battle?

    Was the Sri Lankan army supposed to sit down and talk and try to rehabilitate quick drafted soliders or child soliders carrying weapons in the middle of the battle when there were being shot at ?

    The military doctrain of the US army in confronting a child solider shooting at them in a middle of a battle is to SHOOT TO KILL. This happened by the hands of US forces one too many times in sierra leone.

    These deaths would have been saved had the LTTE being more kind to the people they were fighting for. CONDEM THE LTTE IN YOUR NEXT ARTICLE FOR DRAFTING LTTLE KIDS. had they not carried weapons they would still be alive today. THESE ARE WAR CRIMES COMMITED BY THE LTTE not SL army.

    • Kannan

      Dear Nipun,

      Dr. Hoole was one of the key critic of the LTTE when they were at the height of their power. Unfortunately in Sri Lanka you cannot be a moderate and use constitutional means to make positive change.

      Mark my words there will be another massacre in Sri Lanka, this time carried out by the government in the South. The only way to avoid this is to build a democratic society where all citizens are treated equally.

  18. Sriram

    Home is where the heart is.
    Did the French lower-class feel less french during oppressive regime of King Louis the 14th? No.
    We need to stop dividing ourselves on ethnic lines and think of ourselves as Nationalists. Tamils are part of Sri Lanka, not apart. Yes, prosecution is appalling, but there is more to the story. As a Tamil student in Canada I will attest to the zealotism that has grown here by pro-LTTE organizations. You cannot go to any rally related to Tamils without seeing a LTTE flag. You also cannot criticize the LTTE. I know several Tamils that have denounced their ethnicity due to the appalling crimes committed by the LTTE and the complacent nature of the Tamils here not to address it.
    Tamils will not succeed under the leadership of anything related to the LTTE.
    We need to approach this intellectually; call for federalism, liberal democracies, and find rational venues of influence.

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