futile attempt at weakening the LTTE in the first
place means not only continuing to sacrifice the
lives of thousands of innocent civilians and forces
personnel, but also causing untold human suffering
and irreparable destruction to the economy and the
It must be noted that never
has there been an instance when the LTTE has come to
the negotiating table in a militarily debilitated
state. Notwithstanding all this, the fact remains
that even if the LTTE is brought to the negotiating
table someday in a militarily debilitated state, the
solution that has to be offered to the Tamil
community cannot be watered down as expected by the
government, on the basis that the LTTE is now
weakened and must accept what is on offer to them.
Whether the LTTE is in a
state of military weakness or not, the final
solution to be offered to the Tamil community will
have to be within the framework of a federal
solution, as otherwise the Tamil community will
refuse to accept anything else and they will have
the backing of India and the international
community, resulting in government’s plans only
ending in failure.
The government has made the
issue of weakening the LTTE an excuse to dilly-dally
and delay a viable solution being formulated and
made public even by the APRC.
To further complicate
matters, the JVP and JHU the powerful government
allies, have ruled out a federal solution. The
government is now caught between the devil and the
deep blue sea and is merely biding its time on the
pretext of trying to weaken the LTTE and is getting
nowhere in the process except being party to causing
immense human suffering, loss of human lives and
destruction of the economy and the country.
open letter to the President
I listened in dismay to a
part of your interview given to Al Jazeera
highlighted on News 1st on May 31. I am sorry
that you are so ill-advised by those close to you to
take up such a confrontational stance vis-a-vis
the super powers.
Did you read the recent Leader
Editorial titled Rajapakse Versus The World?
If not, you should do so however distasteful it may
be to you. In fact, you must listen to severe
criticism if you wish to be a better, if not, a
I wish to repeat that your
confrontational stance against the Western world may
well lead to the downfall of the nation, as Sri
Lanka is totally dependent on them for trade,
investment and technology not forgetting aid (Japan
being counted as an ally of the West).
Even if you are surrounded
by sycophants, your gut feeling should warn you that
you are headed in the wrong direction.
I agree with you that the
super powers can be hypocrites, but so can we. If
the super powers are requesting you to investigate
human rights violations which I am sure you will
agree is a valid and just request, I do not see a
problem in agreeing to do so. In fact, you should
have initiated it in the first place so as to avoid
One cannot deny that
violation of human rights in conflict situations is
inevitable due to the aberrations of war. A
legitimate government is morally and legally
responsible to safeguard its citizens or anyone
under its jurisdiction from such violations through
punitive action against the violators, whoever they
A standing example of this
is the Iraq Abu Ghareb prisoner-abuse case by the US
armed forces. When exposed, the US government
succumbed to pressure and gradually assumed full
responsibility leading to the eventual prosecution
of the guilty officers.
In the case of the massacre
of 17 aid workers in Trincomalee, the armed forces
are the prime suspects. Why do you fear allowing the
course of justice to prevail in a transparent and
accountable manner? If found guilty, it will not
only act as a deterrent against escalating abuses by
the armed forces, but also elevate your credibility
and standing in the eyes of the international
The second appeal by the
international community is that you do not resort to
offensive action against the LTTE as it will reduce
the chances of a negotiated solution. The entire
world is undoubtedly in agreement with you that you
are obliged to protect the nation against terrorism
and thereby take all possible defensive action
against rebel attacks.
There is really no need to
take up a defensive posture against both these
appeals by the international community which are the
stated policies and principles of governance upheld
by you and your party concerning protection of human
rights and a negotiated solution with the LTTE.
I would suggest that you
obtain the advice of highly respected professionals
in the field of human rights such as Justice
Weeramantry and conflict resolution experts who can
give you a balanced view of how to handle the crisis
you have been led into. Do not rely on the advice of
non professionals, family and friends just because
they are trustworthy. Keep them at your side only to
safeguard your interests.
I speak as a citizen of
this country who cares for its future irrespective
of party affiliations. I can call myself a true Sri
Lankan as I have a mix of both ethnic and religious
lineage comprising Tamil, Sinhalese, Hindu,
Christian and Buddhist ancestry. Hence, I think I
possess little or no racial or religious bias.
The LTTE is a force to
reckon with as we all know only too well. It is a
monster created as a consequence of a need for
Sinhalese Buddhist nationhood which transfers the
onus of responsibility for their actions onto the
creators. Thus it makes the government responsible
for extending the hand of peace towards them at
every opportunity with a genuine desire to share
power and resultant peace and progress.
You, as the leader, are
morally responsible for developing the trust and
confidence necessary for resuming a dialogue with
the LTTE. Do not allow shallow men to lead you away
from this objective by abrogating the tattered
Ceasefire Agreement. It can be resurrected with the
correct attitude and will to do so. The Co-Chairs
can be of much value if and when a deal is struck
with the LTTE, in making it stick via international
pressure, aid and also the big stick on your behalf
if and when needed.
You will never regret this
course of action as it will surely bring you acclaim
as a leader with great foresight and fortitude.
TNA MP, K. Thangeswary
speaking from the floor of the house of parliament
has stated "Tamils have gone to India due to
What the learned MP has
said is the reality in conflict areas all over the
world. Recently on TV we saw people fleeing from
their homes due to the conflict in Lebanon.
However the moot point is;
what is the government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) doing to
help these Tamils of Sri Lanka?
From the media it is very
clear that the GOSL is supposed to be fighting
terrorism. In this matter the GOSL is doing what
Bush, Blair, Howard and Company are doing all over
But that only helps the
GOSL to feel with all those who want this war, that
the GOSL is winning. This however is a ‘no win’
war. The victims are those who have to flee from
In this context can sanity
prevail? Isn’t the GOSL also for these Tamils?
So the only sane way to
handle this is to stop the war, create the ethos for
talks, and begin the process of settling our
problem, by working out a negotiated and lasting
It can be done. If Northern
Ireland can do it why cannot Sri Lanka?
In the former, the conflict
was between two branches of the ‘same faith’
community. In Sri Lanka it is thankfully not a
And we have four of the
world’s living faiths. Can’t we all for the sake
of these fleeing Tamils and all others affected,
settle this problem? I am sure we can.
do we have to fight terrorism?
Sydney Knight’s letter
titled "Fighting terrorism — why have we to
do so" complaining at finding name boards and
newspapers in English and Sinhala only in public
places is surprising.
Tamils inhabit the entire
globe, and can they hope to find name boards in
Tamil in public places wherever they exist? Which
country in this world paints name boards in the
language of its minorities, comprising only around
10% of its population?
The Tamils in France learn
French, in Thailand they learn Thai, in Myanmar,
they learn Burmese and everywhere they learn the
language of the majority population, to survive.
It is only here that they
demand language rights, one third of the land
belonging to the majority Sinhalese, and 60% of the
Let the Sinhalese assert
their rights and like in every other country, ask
their minorities who cannot pay allegiance to the
language, national anthem and national flag to
leave. And if these Tamils leave for India they will
be forced to learn Hindi, the language of the
majority Indians to survive!
benefits — an act of treason?
The Supreme Court recently
ruled that the benefits approved by the cabinet of
Chandrika Kumaratunga, for the former President was
in violation of the constitution. In fact, it had
named Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Prime Minister
Ratnasiri Wickremanayake in particular, and rapped
them both for misleading the public.
If both of them had acted
against the constitution, are they not guilty of
treason? And if that is so, how come they are still
holding office and not been arrested for these acts?
The entire cabinet at the time should be punished
for its part in this massive scam!
They are nothing but
disgraceful, shameless politicians.
R. de Silva
bus fares to benefit the suburban traveller
It is the holidaymaker,
businessmen, those who attend religious festivals,
weddings and funerals, land and estate owners, and
tourists who travel long distances. These categories
of persons will not feel the pinch on their purses
if an increase of Rs.2.50 or Rs.5.00 is added on for
every 10 mile multiple over 40 miles.
So why not let the hard
pressed suburban commuters most of whom are office
workers and others who come to the city daily to
attend offices to get their things done or attend to
their other needs, enjoy a reduction of fare
commensurate with the above increase charged from
those who travel over 40 miles? Generally a majority
of daily bus commuters to the city travel from a
distance of about 20 miles and their plight needs to
be considered when fixing bus fares.
It is time a team of
accountants specially appointed by the Transport
Ministry considers the revenues derived on each
route, work out the increase and cushion the short
Office and factory workers
who travel distances over 40 miles should also be
given a special reduction.
All good wishes for the
apparently improved bus service.
6 marks the 45th death anniversary of Charles Edward
Victor Seneviratne Corea, advocate of the Supreme
Court, member for Colombo North in the Legislative
Council of Ceylon and the first president of the
Ceylon Labour Union. Named a national hero, he
played a dominant role in the campaign to achieve
A descendant of Dominicus
Corea Edirimanasuriya Vikramasingha Bandara, General
of the Sinhala Army who was crowned King of Kotte
and Sitawaka by King Wimala Dharma Suriya, Victor
Corea was known to be a man of steel guts, a
fearless fighter who championed the cause of the
common man. Amongst his many daring exploits, one
that stands out in undying memory is his relentless
fight to abolish the iniquitous poll tax in 1921,
serving a jail term of 30 days and being subjected
to hard labour.
When orders came that
Victor Corea be offered the choice of an European or
‘native diet’ he rejected the offer and chose to
eat the diet that was given to everyone else in
jail. The food however was so badly prepared that
for the first 42 hours in jail, he starved. On his
second day in jail the doctor ordered that he be
given a pound of bread and a little sugar daily. He
spurned the sugar as a luxury and lived on a diet of
When he broke huge boulders
on the public road under the extreme heat of the
sun, the poor whose cause he championed came from
all parts of the country to see the spectacle — a
person from an affluent family, an advocate of the
Supreme Court working like a condemned criminal, all
for fighting for the cause of his countrymen.
Although his palms were full of blisters he did not
bring this to the notice of the jailors and carried
on with grim determination to labour and pay the
When the crowds coming to
see him started increasing each day, the government
observing that the people hailed him as their hero
and in order to prevent a breakdown of law and order
abolished the poll tax and released him from jail
much to the jubilation of the people.
Another daring episode that
is connected with Victor Corea is that when the
beating of hewisi at the Dalada Maligawa was
stopped by the Government Agent, Kandy, who was a
Britisher, as it was a source of disturbance to his
wife, it was Victor Corea, a Christian, who rose up
in protest. He told the Government Agent to remove
his wife to any place he liked, and insisted that
the hewisi in the Maligawa must continue in
accordance with tradition. If the Diyawadana Nilame
was not prepared to defy the order and resume the
beating of hewisi, Victor Corea vowed to come
to the Maligawa and beat the hewisi himself.
The newspapers at the time wrote: " Since
Victor Corea, by that time was known to be a man of
action who lived up to his word, the Government
Agent withdrew his order, fearing that there would
be unrest in the country." The beating of hewisi
has continued ever since.
Victor Corea and his
brother Charles Edgar Corea, were a powerful force
not easy to match. Together, they protected the
Muslims in the Chilaw area from the wrath of the
embittered Sinhalese during the Sinhala-Muslim riots
of 1915. The Corea brothers were responsible for
completely exonerating the people of Chilaw from
paying damages which was a penalty imposed on all
citizens of Ceylon. The people of Chilaw were in the
exalted position of not having to pay damages owing
to the astute leadership given to them by the Corea
A.E.Goonesinha was Victor
Corea’s trusted lieutenant and Secretary,
supporting him in all his daring deeds. When he was
planning on forming the Ceylon Labour Union, and
knew for sure that he would come up against stiff
suppression from the government, his need was for a
bold and courageous leader to be the first president
of the Ceylon Labour Union. His choice was Victor
Corea who gave the union dynamic leadership and a
The sad truth is that
despite Victor Corea’s heroic deeds, too many to
mention for want of space, he has not been honoured
as yet. During his lifetime he was vehemently
against books being written about him, roads being
named after him and memorials erected in his name.
He stood by his belief that what he did for his
country and its people was inspired from deep
within. That alone shows his sincerity. Now that he
is not amongst the living he must be honoured lest
his deeds be attributed to someone else and cause
the political history of this country to be unjustly
Sri Sangabo Corea