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TAMIL NATIONAL FORUM - 2005
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From: Sara Ananthan, Sydney, Australia, 13 December 2005
Practical implications of diplomacy and statecraft - We learnt that up amongst the heavenly bodies, a blazing super star which turns into an omnipotent sun leaves behind a trail of failed stars all around it which eventually end up as satellites of that super star. It appears even down below at our earthly level, we are to witness such heavenly spectacle when it comes to international power play or statecraft played out between nation states where the blazing super states and the aspiring super states also appear to leave behind a trail of failed states which are forced to end up as satellites of these super states if they wish to have any chance of survival. But the stakes are much higher in this worldly power game as the survivals of whole societies are placed at colossal risk.
In this article, “The ouster of democracy“, published in “The Guardian”, Gary Younge writes about the plight of hapless citizens of Haiti who are enduring grinding poverty and crippling chaotic state administration in their unforgiving struggle for survival for the past 200 years. http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1164195,00.html This is an excerpt from that article.
"All books about all revolutions begin with a chapter that describes the decay of tottering authority or the misery and sufferings of people," wrote Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski in his book, Shah of Shahs, about the Iranian revolution.
"They should begin with a psychological chapter, one that shows how a harassed man breaks his terror and stops being afraid. This unusual process demands illuminating."
From the dawn of human history, when people started to live in societies, it has always been a challenge for rulers and statesmen to create an orderly society so that each and every member of that society will eternally strive for the mutual benefit of both society and also its individual members. The purpose of all laws ever invented by humankind and even all the religious teachings were only meant to uphold popular justice in order to ultimately create an orderly society. But the application of statecraft and diplomacy by nation states seem to defy all these hallowed principles as the ultimate aim of statecraft is only meant to benefit that particular state. This abnormality found in statecraft may be a hangover from ancient times where a defeated state’s rulers and its people may have had to even pay with their own lives. Therefore statecraft was devised in such a way that the interest of that state was deemed paramount and always upheld even at the cost of any moral or ethical concerns for affected people.
It appears that this tendency continues even today in this age of globalizing world where we are incessantly reminded that we are all equal stake holders of a global market for our own mutual benefits. If nation states strive to use statecraft only to exploit each other amorally for supremacy what kind of societies do they hope to create as this moral degradation at the highest level of state power will ultimately pervade down to the very roots and eventually tear apart the moral fabric of all those societies that have become part of this sordid game.
Highly placed policy makers, learned advisers from all these multitudes of think tanks and unscrupulous lobby groups are the ones that are ultimately instrumental in shaping these amoral policies who are blind to these stark realities as they are only preoccupied with their own survival rather than the welfare of the wider global society.
From: A Visitor from USA - Subject: Heard in Internet Circles - 25 November 2005
From: Dulan To: Sumane
First of all Ana Pararajasingham is an old Royalist few years younger to us. He was totally non racist and came from a good Christian family. He is a FCMA. He used to work as an accountant in Zambia and got immigration to Australia. He came back with his wife of one year, on-route to Australia. He chose July 1983 to make this journey. Both his house in Borella and his wives house in Wellawatte was torched and they lost most of their stuff but escaped with their lives. He was in a camp in Methodist College in Colpetty before he flew off. He really is a very nice regular guy. Of course now he knows that living under a Sinhala government under any circumstances is not a feasible option.
Today any Tamil anywhere can live with dignity due to LTTE's ability with whatever tactic to keep the Sinhalese at bay! Tamils were attacked in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1966 before they took arms. Someone makes 4 key points:
1.LTTE is now weak
2.Muslims were not included in the struggle
3.Why was there no election boycott in East
4. LTTE did this only to hide the true numbers of Tamils in NE
1.My response is that the hypothesis of LTTE being weak has been the theme of Sinhalese forever! When Mahttaya the deputy of Pirabakaran was killed this was the story, when Indians came this was the story, when Rajiv was killed this was the hope, when Tsunami came the story was Praba died from Tsunami. Just forget it. A mere 10,00 to 15,000 15 yr -18 year olds have shown the door to a country's 150,000+ strong army, navy, airforce and a National government. For God sake if LTTE is weak go after them - kill Praba all over again and take control. This is just a dream
2.In a freedom struggle to occupy your land you have to be strategic. First thing is you want is absolute loyalty and trust. Obviously LTTE cannot trust Muslims who did not feel the need for a separate State as they stayed on the fence. Once a separate State is established the Tamil state will have the confidence to call back Muslims and even Sinhalese to live and work in North , but not yet.
3. It is not true to say that there is no election boycott in East. Only around 50-60% have voted. Thus probably significant number of Tamils have not voted. (Also remember it was after 1948 that DS Senanayake and other Sinhala leaders shifted the demography of the East by sending Sinhalese. On the other hand when Mahavali was done it was not diverted to Tamil areas though the Master Plan had it. )
4. LTTE pressurized Tamil people to vote in 2004 election and they elected 21 members. Surely if they want to hide 'any numbers' why did they create a political party that supports them (TNA) and ask people to vote!
LTTE did not want Ranil to come back as they did not trust him. He was trying to corner them with a joint SLFP_UNP platform to give a 'Federal' State. With India too supporting this and the West supporting this solution they would have been pressurized to accept. They are not interested in such limited autonomy, they have struggled too long and sacrificed too much for a separate state. This is what the Tamil people need even if some of them do not do not know it! It is up to a few leaders to show the way.
Before the Portuguese came we had 3 Kings including a King in Jaffna , our last so called Sinhala King in Kandy was a Tamil. Now 50 years of stupid Sinhala rule has shown how they have driven the country from being one of best in Asia in 50's to been one of the worst. When Lincoln fought for liberation of slaves he had to kill. This may not have been the wish of most Americans. They would have preferred the statues quo. It is the same with Tamils.
There can be many Tamils all over who prefers a Federal solution but it is up to the leadership to do what is right. If some uneducated stupid Tamil villager cannot understand the big picture that is his problem. No one can please them all. It was not stupid democracy that made the biggest changes in the World. It was war and clear leadership by a few. The rise of China, the rise of USA, etc etc was all done in this fashion. Does anyone talk of how poor Chinese peasants had to suffer due to Mao's struggle and even subsequent mistakes? What matters is historically he made the decision to unite China.
Even Praba and LTTE is temporary. As far as I am concerned let him be dead even now. Over time if Tamils have a separate State, democracy will come and Tamils will show the Sinhalese how good they are. We must look at things not with our sense of time but with an historical sense of time. What happened in our subjective experience and our life time is nothing. We are talking of building a new country, obviously some have to suffer, many have to die, many injustices happen, this is not a picnic it is liberation from stupid Sinhalese. Please let me have Ana's email as I have lost touch with him for about 2 years. Send this to all you have copied the mail. Regards, Dulan
From: Ivan Pedropillai, Editor, Tamil Writers Guild, 18 November 2005
Sri Lankan Presidential Election result
- Tweedledee or Tweedledum; it does not matter a jot or a tittle to the Tamils
The Sri Lankan presidential election that was held on Thursday, 17th November 2005 has produced a result that is of supreme irrelevance to the Tamils of the country. The Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse of the UPFA has won the race receiving 4.88 million votes or 50.3% of the total cast to become the Sinhala nation’s fifth President. He has beaten the former Prime Minister and UNP candidate Ranil Wickremesinghe who received 4.70 million votes or 48.4% in a close-run race . It is reported that most Tamils did not cast their votes in this election. The Election Commissioner has put the voter turnout at some 75%.
This election should have been Ranil Wickremesinghe’s opportunity to build bridges with the disenfranchised Tamil community by pursuing a programme for equality, justice and peace for all citizens of the country. It is obvious from the figures of votes reported that he had a significant proportion of the Sinhala electorate supporting his policies for economic development and racial harmony and that he lost by a wafer thin margin. When considering that his rival Rajapakse by his virulent anti-Tamil stance had forfeited the right to Tamil votes, Wickremesinghe could have harvested the votes of all reasonable and moderate Sinhalese and as well as those of a majority of the Tamils and other minorities, if he had only shown some statesmanship and political fortitude.
But he and his senior cohorts like Moragoda and Dissanayake tried to outbid the devil himself by claiming during the hustings the dubious battle credits for sinking Tiger supply ships and for turning over the treacherous Karuna and his brigands. Sinhala triumphalism was to be his path to electoral glory. They also paraded the hoary chant that they had got the LTTE in the vice of Western governments and international public opinion. Wickremesinghe had still to learn the lesson that prosperity and leadership need courage and vision, and he has now paid the price for feebleness and chicanery. He has once again lost his chance to become President of the country and there is no doubt that he will now be cast on the scrap-heap of politics where he will be remembered as a good but weak man who was always out- manoeuvred by his old contemporary in politics, Chandrika Bandaranaike.
The new president Rajapakse took a hardline against the Tamils by entering into a pre-election agreement with the extreme Sinhala racist party, JVP, which has consistently advocated no political compromise with the Tamil parties and supported a military campaign for the annexation of the traditional Tamil homelands within a unitary Sri Lanka. He also allied himself with the chauvinistic party of the Buddhist monks, JHU, which has campaigned relentlessly for the domination of the Buddhist religion and the Sinhala race in the fabric and politics of Sri Lanka.
Mahinda Rajapakse, on the other hand, as the outgoing Prime Minister in the government of President Chandrika Bandaranaike had previously supported the continuation of the Cease Fire Agreement with the Liberation Tigers. He had also been a vocal supporter of the P-TOMS agreement with the LTTE to deal with the administration of foreign funds for tsunami relief in the north and east. But the principles and consciences of Sinhala leaders are like those of Faust, available to trade with the devil of Sinhalese racism and political opportunism. Rajapakse saw no dilemma in shedding his previous support for these watershed agreements for communal amity and constitutional progress.
He has now won the prize that he has always wanted and is an undeserving second-rater for the position.... He had feared that because of his lowcountry birth and his undistinguished background, the more sophisticated Bandaranaikes would keep him out on this plum position.
The Tamils have to view these events with circumspection. The madhouse of politics in Sri Lanka is once again in the hands of the inmates of the asylum. Rajapakse along with the JVP and the JHU have got the time bomb in their hands and can summon the roll of the war drums. It is up to them to engage in racist war cry and to shatter the fragile peace that has prevailed in that blighted country for nearly three years. Or, it is up to Rajapakse to abandon his ill-gotten friends of the extreme racist fringes and go forward in peace to implementing the Oslo accord and to restart peace talks.
The Tamils have been but innocent bystanders in the national politics of Sri Lanka since independence. There will not be a single Tamil in government this time again except for a few quislings. The Tamils will not want to be marginalised for ever and it is up to Rajapakse to grasp this opportunity to pursue peace with justice and prosperity or to reap the harvest of dragon's teeth that he and the country will inevitably sow if he is hell-bent on a destructive Sinhala majoritarian and anti-Tamil course.
From: Vigna Tharmarajah, USA,15 November 2005
Need for A Cyber Memorial : "Only Man is Vile - the Tragedy of Sri Lanka" is a book written by William McGowan, an American who spent time in Ceylon during IPKF battles. I was browsing a few pages last night and I was reminded - once again - of the horrors of 1983. The horrors that McGowan did not witness, of course, but were "borrowed" from Shiva Naipaul's Unfinished Journey, a book I never heard of before. The horrors in gory detail made me reflect on the plight of us in Sri Lanka.
The victims of 1958 and of 1983, many of whom were toddlers and children, were burnt and raped and mutilated by Sinhalese thugs, aided and encouraged by the government of the day. Do we at least know the names of the victims? Do we have a memorial or website that lists them? We as Tamils should do at least that to remember them as victims for they were killed and burnt and robbed of their what-may-have-been Arunasalam's-like lives merely because they were Tamils and were vulnerable. A stronger, secure and more prosperous Tamil nation in whatever way, shape or form is still the best way to pay tribute to their lives and to those others who chose to give their lives for a better future for the Tamils.
From: An Expatriate Australian Tamil, Sydney , 12 November 2005
A Piece of Advice to Prof. Dayan Jayatilleke: Holier-than-thou attitude serves no peace - It is not too late for a National Soul Search.
Dear Prof. Jayatilleke,
I am not a Professor or any kind of intellect. I am an ordinary Tamil living in a corner of the world. I long for peace in my country of birth just as you do. On reading the news item: ‘Realignment of Sinhala Nationalist forces spells trouble for Sri Lanka Peace – Gajendrakumar’ [TamilNet, November 05, 2005], my heart urges me to share with you some candid thoughts that came to my mind. And I have elected to convey them to you as well as to other ‘serious’ peace seekers via the helpful cyber press.
Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnampalamm MP, who made the above observations at the Washington forum on ‘The Sri Lanka Peace Process: Dead end or is there hope?’[ Summary ][Audio ] – organised by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in association with East-West Centre on 4 November 2005 lamented the imminent collapse of the peace process. Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the US, Bernard Goonatilleke, attributed the deadlock in the peace process to Norway, Ceasefire Agreement, Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission and LTTE but predictably not the Government of Sri Lanka!
What caught my attention the most was the following news:
"Dayan Jayatilleke said LTTE was the cause for the collapse of the past four peace efforts. He said LTTE will not be satisfied by federalism as evidenced by its assassination of several eminent Tamil federalists including Neelan Thiruchelvam and Appapillai Amirthalingam. He said International community [US and India] should first send a strong message to the Liberation Tigers to shun violence, and if this fails, they should be prepared to augment the Sri Lanka military to subdue the LTTE!!! "
Professor Jayatilleke, peace is a product of goodness. Peace is an outcome of truth and justice. And peace is about the future. If we do not want to look forward, but forever harp on the past, there is no hope for peace or future. But since you have chosen to dwell on the LTTE’s past at the forum, I wish to rekindle your thoughts on the State and its terrorism of the 70’s and 80’s, let alone the 50’s, 60’s, 90’s & 2000’s.
I left my country Illankai (Sri Lanka in Sinhala) in the mid eighties when I was 31, so I have sound memories of the political events in the island before the assassinations of Amirthalingam (1989) and Thiruchelvam (1999). For the most part of the 70’s and 80’s there was no press freedom or judicial independence in the country, and civil liberties were severely curbed.
In October 1972 Mr S J V Chelvanayagam, the revered Tamil Leader of the Federal Party, resigned his seat in Parliament and challenged the government to contest him on the validity of the 1972 Republican Constitution. Prime Minister Srimao Bandaranaike refused to hold a by-election until February 1975! When Chelvanayagam won back his seat in the by-election held 2 Ż years later with a crushing majority, he said this in his victory speech:
“…. We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon. It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people. … I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free.”
In January 1974 the ‘Fourth International Conference Seminar of Tamil Studies’ was held in Jaffna and Tamil scholars from all over the world attended this week long conference. This greatest international conference ever held in Jaffna was marred by tragedy on the final day. The town was in a festive mood and an unprecedented crowd of over 50,000 people had gathered at the esplanade opposite the hall where the Conference was being held. It was after 8.00 pm when armed Sinhalese policemen arrived in a truck and jeep made a relentless attack on the people. Tear gas and gun shots added to the terror and overhead electric wires were brought down by gun shots. Seven people died in the resultant stampede and thousands were injured. My sister, a brother and a cousin narrowly survived the stampede. I went and saw the carnage the following morning.
In the July 1977 General Elections, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) won a resounding victory in the north and east on a mandate to establish an independent state of Tamil Eelam. Mr Amirthalingam, who was the leader of the TULF, also became the Leader of the Opposition by a strange quirk of fate. The Sinhala people’s sense of fury at this development led to the mob attacks on Tamils which in August ballooned into island-wide anti-Tamil riots. One half of Jaffna Super Market, the adjoining central bus station and scores of wholesale and retail shops were burnt down by the police. I have vivid memories of showing around the gutted bazaar to family friends from Bandarawella who had made their first ever visit to Jaffna on August 16, following a pilgrimage to the holy shrine of Madhu. Elsewhere in the country hundreds of Tamils lost their lives, thousands sought refuge in the Tamil areas in the north. The police and army were on the side of the Sinhalese thugs, looters and murderers. Did the government of the day do enough to quell the riots?
1981, May 31- June 1: Two nights of anarchy, arson and terror. Sinhalese policemen and a set of Sinhala hoodlums imported into Jaffna by the government went about burning down everything: the TULF office; the house and jeep of V. Yogesvaran, MP for Jaffna; the office of the only Jaffna daily Elanadu; and to cap it all the Public Library – the soul of Jaffna’s pride – with its 97,000 volumes, precious tomes and rare ola manuscripts. Statues of Tamil scholars in the bazaar were beheaded. All these outrages went on while two senior cabinet ministers, Defence Secretary, Inspector General of Police and security forces were in the town to ensure law and order at the impending District Development Council elections on June 4.
July 1983: The worst ever island-wide anti-Tamil rioting of July 24-29 saw hundreds of Tamils massacred, thousands of Tamil homes and shops looted and burnt, and over 75,000 Tamil refugees lingering for weeks in several camps in Colombo alone. My wife and I, like hundreds of others, had the divine protection to stay alive. Fifty four Tamil political detainees, some held from 1981 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, were massacred in Colombo gaol by Sinhalese prisoners, aided and abetted by prison officers. Murder and torching in Nuwara Eliya and other up-country areas caused large numbers of plantation Tamils flee their line rooms to the relative safety of the northern towns. The active participation of the police and armed forces was evident – yet President Jayawarderne remained indifferent through it all.
What I have mentioned so far, Prof. Jayatilleke, is only the tip of the iceberg of the State violence. And I wished that in 1983 the International Community (India & US) sent a strong warning to the Sri Lankan Government and its military machinery to shun violence in favour of a political solution, and when it failed, assisted the Tamils to realise their legitimate political aspirations! Wishful thinking indeed. But, had it done so, Amirthalingam, Thiruchelvam and thousands more Tamils and Sinhalese would have been alive today!
For the past five decades, use of repressive force and prevention of political change taking place through constitutionalist and political channels had been the order of the day. The ‘Round Table Conference’ of the 80’s, the ‘Devolution Package(s)’ of the 90’s and ‘Constitutional Reform’ of the 2000’s are all nothing but long tedious deceptive dramas of the Sinhala polities. Suppressing Tamils had been their underlying scheme. But let’s face it. The draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act, insidious War for Peace, Chemmani Mass Graves and Bindunuwewa Massacres – all have failed to stifle the psyche of the Tamil Nation.
So, looking for scapegoats in the peace process (eg. LTTE violence) is not an option for Sri Lankan government anymore. We need a ‘new order’ and ‘real solution’ here and now. Tamil Homeland is real, Tamils right to self-determination is real, and Tamils are oppressed in the Sri Lankan unitary state is also real. Burying your head in the sand or joining the chorus of democracy in the north won’t provide solution. George Washington or Nelson Mandela or even Mahatma Gandhi didn’t insist on democracy first for their people – they all wanted freedom first!
If you really care, it is not difficult to understand where Mr Pirabhakaran is coming from:
• Respect for Tamil Rights
• Creation of a Tamil state in complete equality with the Sinhalese state so that both nations can live happily side by side.
In fact, these are ‘goal posts’ set by the Tamil leaders since the 50’s into which the LTTE has been kicking into since the 70’s. Ambassador Gunatilleke, career diplomat for nearly 3 decades and former Director General of the Peace Secretariat in Colombo, seems to be unaware of this 'unfeigned' cause of the Tamils. How can peace become a reality in the northeast with security forces trotting guns on the streets, occupy people’s homes, farms, schools and places of worship even after 3 Ż years of signing the Ceasefire Agreement?
At the International Conference on the Sri Lankan Conflict held in Canberra in 1996, Justice Marcus Einfield, Federal Court of Australia and member of the International Commission of Jurists, said:
“… … After all, if the majority was not willing to embrace the minority and grant them due recognition, a dignified status and an equal opportunity to a fair chance, they must set them free. Oppressing and terrorising them are not options.
“The plea by the Tamils for self-determination should be respected by the community of states. It is true that self-determination does imply some erosion of sovereignty and in some places it may so liberate national minorities as to give them separate statehood, and membership of the United Nations. However, the existing list of UN members and non-member states is not inviolate, and there are, and there will be cases when the price of untrammelled sovereignty, calculated as it is in human misery and suffering, is too high. … …The enjoyment of Human Rights can be increased in many cases by recognising the right of peoples to some form of autonomy, even independence – this much is evident from the UN charter.”
Also spoke at the same conference was Mr Kumar Ponnambalam, Barrister, human rights advocate and courageous Tamil leader, himself a victim of pro-government gunmen for exposing the hypocrisy of the Sinhala state. I wish to conclude my reflections with his forthright opening remarks:
“As the minutes roll by, the intransigence of the vast majority of the Sinhalese on the Tamil Problem is getting stronger or worse. Indeed, in some quarters, and surprisingly at the higher echelons of society, one could perceive today, marked and naked hatred of the Tamils displayed by the Sinhalese. … … This must be clearly understood by the international community, if they are to play some part in helping to sort the crisis in Sri Lanka. And, it is this same intransigence of the Sinhalese that is preventing ‘Peace with Justice’ in Sri Lanka even at the moment.”
It is not too late for a National Soul Search.
From: G.Amirthalingam, London, United Kingdom, 12 November 2005
It is exactly 500 years since the Portuguese came to Sri Lanka in 1505 AD. To commemorate this event and to briefly revisit the period when Sri Lanka was colonised by western powers, I have written an article ...
Sri Lanka - 500 years ago……!
It was exactly 500 years ago the first Europeans set foot on Sri Lankan soil. According to historical records, in earlier times, Roman, Greek, Persian, Egyptian and Arab travellers and tradesmen had visited this island purely for commercial purpose but the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505 AD set forth a series of events that changed the destiny and history of Sri Lanka.
At the time of the arrival of the Portuguese, Sri Lanka had over 2000 years of history behind it. The Island was divided into three kingdoms: Kotte Kingdom was ruled by Vira Parakrama Bahu, Kandyan Kingdom was ruled by Senasammata Vikrama Bahu and Pararajasekeran was the king of Jaffna Kingdom. There was an organized community system, religions and traditions, legal laws and moral codes, art and architecture, customs and calendar. The end of Sri Lankan sovereignty, for over 430 years, began with the arrival of the Portuguese followed by the Dutch and the British, depriving Sri Lankans of their freedom. They lost their rights and the experience of self-governance and the gradual progression which would have evolved into a stable system.
The Portuguese embarked on a journey to the East, mainly for the purpose of capturing the spice trade from the Arabs, who were controlling the lucrative Western Spice market. Another reason was to propagate Catholicism to the East. Their initial contact with Sri Lanka was only a token gesture. They made acquaintance with the king of Kotte and exchanged gifts. But when they came back in 1517 AD, their intentions were serious. They built a fort near Colombo with the reluctant permission of the King of Kotte.
From then onwards, the Portuguese took control of the spice trade by destroying the Muslim’s monopoly in the market.
They went into religious conversions and local administration with alarming ruthlessness. People in the coastal areas were subjected to Roman Catholicism through force and fear. By 1620 AD, about 100 years since their arrival, Portuguese controlled almost all the coastal regions of the Island. Their many attempts to capture the Kandyan kingdom never materialized. By this time The Dutch were in Indian waters, with the same intention that the Portuguese had when they arrived. The Dutch were in contact with the Kandyan king who was in favour of inviting the Dutch in order to oust the Portuguese. The Dutch also wished to defeat the Portuguese in order to take full control of the spice trade. With this in mind The Dutch stepped in officially and routed the Portuguese by 1658.
Intermarriages that took place between the Portuguese and the natives resulted in a new race known as the Portuguese Burghers who became part of the Sri Lankan community.
The Dutch administration of the coastal areas was more orderly and with an iron fist. The Dutch also brought in Calvinism, a new religion to the island. Calvinism is a term that refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed Church or Reformed Protestantism.
Many Catholics were converted to Calvinism along with followers of Buddhism and Hinduism. The Roman Dutch Law was introduced to Sri Lanka by the Dutch which is applied in the legal system to this day. Furthermore, they built many churches and schools to propagate their religion. The Dutch also introduced water-ways in the form of canals to transport heavy goods to the ports. Some of these canals are in usage even today. Descendents of the Dutch who are known as the Dutch Burghers became a race of some distinction.
In 1794, France was at war with Holland and defeated them. The ruler of Holland, Prince of Orange, took refuge in England. This was an opportunity for the British to annex all the Dutch colonies to their empire. They obtained a written instruction from the Prince of Orange to allow the British ships to enter and take control of all the Dutch colonies in order to prevent a French invasion. British forces moved quickly into Sri Lanka crushing resistance from the Dutch forces who were unaware of the agreement. By 1796, The British had established full control of the Dutch controlled areas.
The Kandyan kingdom was resisting capture by the Portuguese and The Dutch successfully, likewise many attempts of the British failed to capture Kandy. They manipulated the internal feud between the Kandyan King Sri Wickrama Raja Singha and his disgruntled chieftains to achieve their aim. The British saw the King as a despot and a ruthless tyrant. Kandyan King’s method of punishment by impaling, crushing by elephants, dismembering his opponents and traitors were horrific in the eyes of the British and cited them as insensate and cruel. Ironically, the same method of punishments that was meted out to the convicts was common in Britain and other western countries at that time. Ultimately with the help of the chieftains of Kandy the king was captured and banished to India. Kandy was surrendered by a convention to the British on the 2nd of March 1815.
When the British took over the Maritime Provinces from The Dutch these areas were divided into three Commanderies, namely: Colombo, Jaffna and Galle but it was the British who merged these three regions along with Kandy and brought the island under one authority without the consent of the people. This undemocratic merger eroded long-held rights of the people as citizens of their own land. It was this political stigma that has hung over the island ever since. British rule in Sri Lanka ended on the 4th of February 1948 when Sri Lanka was granted independence.
Sri Lanka was subdued by every colonizer with their military might and was made to accept their demands and command in order to achieve their commercial, religious and political ambitions. Even though Sri Lanka benefited from colonisation it should not be forgotten that the colonizers too were reluctant to relax their grip as they saw the island as a profitable concern. In spite of colonial rule over 430 years, Sri Lanka has not lost its religious rituals, cultural traditions and social customs.
For further information visit website: http://www.asbooks.com
From: Sara Ananthan, Sydney, Australia, 23 August 2005
State Craft & Diplomacy - I read 18 August 2005 tamilnation.org – Reflections, with interest especially the statement - “ ..Small states survive only in the interstices created by the major powers ..”
May be a little reflection on three well known historical figures (statesmen ?) who have written about state craft or diplomacy may provide some additional insights into the way statecraft is being practiced even today.
1. Machiavelli, Niccolo (1469-1527) is the Italian statesman and writer who many people consider the father of modern political science. Machiavelli explained most of his ideas in his treatise “ The Prince “, in which Machiavelli called for a leader to use any means necessary to preserve the state, resorting to cruelty, deception, and force if nothing else worked. As a result, many people thought that he supported the use of cruelty and deceit in politics. Even the word Machiavellian came to mean, cunning and unscrupulous. It appears, he was viciously unscrupulous and appears to support the western notion that “ All is fair in Love and War “.
2. Kautilya (300 B.C.) born a member of the Brahmin caste and advisor to Chandra Gupta Maurya (321-298 B.C) was the Indian political philosopher. He wrote the treatise Arthashastra. These are some relevant excerpts from An Examination of Kautilya's Arthaśāstra -
“ All but unknown in the West, the Artha˙Ôstra by Kautilya (Chanakya), is considered one of the greatest political works of the ancient world. Written nearly three centuries before the birth of Christ, the famous Nineteenth Century sociologist Max Weber said of it, “compared to it, Machiavelli’s The Prince is harmless.” In it, Kautilya expressed the desire for his king to conquer the world and to aid in that goal he offered an analysis of which kingdoms he considered natural allies and which inevitable enemies, gave advice on who should be attacked and when, how to treat defeated enemy soldiers and citizens, when to make and break treaties, and even described a calculated willingness to make use of assassination, which he called “silent war”, as a legitimate means to achieve victory. He advocated the use of secret agents, not only for assassinations, but to sow discord among enemy leaders; he viewed women as one of the most effective weapons of war — especially in the role of secret agent; believed in the use of either religion or superstition to inspire his own troops and demoralize the enemy’s, and heartily approved of the spread of disinformation...The fact that countries act in their own self-interest was a timeless principle of Kautilya’s Artha˙Ôstra..”
The following is an excerpt from Kautilya's Arthasastra on War and Diplomacy in Ancient India by Roger Boesche under the section “ Using Secret Agents, Assassins, Disinformation, and Propaganda “-
“ Much of this disinformation made use of religion. Placed strategically, astrologers "should fill [the king's] side with enthusiasm by proclaiming his omniscience and association with divine agencies, and should fill the enemy's side with terror."
Once more the needs of the state are primary and the king commands religion to serve the state: "He should make (Brahmins) recite blessings invoking victory and securing heaven." Singers and poets should "describe the attainment of heaven by the brave and the absence of heaven for cowards." Secret agents who have infiltrated the enemy side should use animal blood in order to "cause an excessive flow (of blood) from honored images of deities," and then interpret that as a sure sign of future defeat for the enemy.
Kautilya wanted anyone associated with religion or superstition—"soothsayers, interpreters of omens, astrologers, reciters of Puranas" and so on —to proclaim to his own troops and to the enemy the king's "association with divinities" or "his meeting with divinities, "creating confidence on his own side and simultaneously terror and misgivings among enemy soldiers. Those priests in charge of interpreting omens must make certain that dreams and other signs are always favorable to the king's efforts and unfavorable to the enemy. Every kind of superstition can be useful. And for Kautilya, religious authorities must be for hire“.
3. Sun Tzu (400 BC) the Chinese military strategist, in his treatise “Art of War" has also advocated the use of spies and other unscrupulous methods to win a war.
A read of the treatises by these three learned men appear to support the notion that the “ End Justifies the Means “ when it comes to applying statecraft or diplomacy. In that sense, there appears to be no morality when it comes to statecraft and the principles applied appear to be amoral. The fact is that countries act only in their own self-interest. It appears to be even more amoral as countries act not in the self interests of their entire population but in the interests of vested self interests groups and various lobby groups who can make use of powerful mind altering media methods to hoodwink the ordinary people and to advance their goals using state power.
But of those above three, Kautilya appears to be the wiliest and most dangerous. He is the first in the history of humankind to have advocated that state and religion should be separated but at the sametime commandeered religion to serve the state. He advocated exploiting human weakness (human nature and its corruptibility) using the target people’s belief system such as religion, astrology and superstition to advance statecraft under the section (The Science of Punishment “ in the Arthashastra). This is most amoral as the belief in almighty or spirituality is one of the noblest things that separates humans from animals and provides succor for many people in their day to day lives. All religions in their purest forms emphasis that god is nothing but love. It is this realization, trancending the divisions in humanity, that will alone save our planet from annihilation.
We need to look at the current issues that confront our globe, such as Global Warming and Global Dimming. David Sington concluded recently in "Why the Sun seems to be 'dimming' ….
“Even the most pessimistic forecasts of global warming may now have to be drastically revised upwards.That means a temperature rise of 10 degrees Celsius by 2100 could be on the cards, giving the UK a climate like that of North Africa, and rendering many parts of the world uninhabitable. That is unless we act urgently to curb our emissions of greenhouse gases...”
All this calls for urgent attention across the artificial borders of nation states. It is time that countries stop their self destructive unscrupulous methods and work for the betterment of the entire humanity as we do not have any other planet to call our home yet.
From: Erajh S Gunaratne, BA(Hons)Arch(Lon), BArch(Hons), M Arch, Australia, 21 June 2005
I respect the response and agree with almost everything it says, unfortunately my knowledge on what happened in the past is very limited, whether views expressed by Sara Ananthan are biased or not is unknown to me. I would appreciate if my email address is not put on public display. Thank you.
Response by tamilnation.org: As requested we have removed your email address.
From: Sara Ananthan, Sydney, Australia 13 June 2005
Re: Letter to Tamil Nation by Erajh S Gunaratne We are eternally thankful for your response - especially those wonderful links. That’s the beauty of our tamilnation.org. This is my response to Erajh S Gunaratne -
I have been deeply touched by your letter especially the spin "...I was very impressed with the remaining Hindu architecture in Jaffna...”
This begs an equally important question. So what happened to the rest of the Hindu (?) (No, the Tamils do not discriminate by religion) Tamil or Dravidian architecture in Jaffna (No, in our beloved Tamil Home land - the so called North East provinces of Sri Lanka).
Who bombed those buildings out of existence? Was not that due to Sri Lanka’s genocidal war? Who burnt the Jaffna Library, who bombed the Navaly Church, Madu Church and killed and injured those pour souls who took refuge there? This is only just the tip of an ice berg. Please read the rest of the atrocities. It’s an impressive testimony to the modern Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism of Sri Lanka.
To be fair, please note that the plunder and destruction was a joint effort by Sinhalese armed forces and the IPKF thanks to our mother India who also has an amoral unholy alliance with this Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism due to their own vested self interest in our 'beautiful little gem of a country'.
We note your sadness regarding the taxes that local businesses in Jaffna pay to the LTTE and your joy at the 'efficiency of the LTTE checkpoint and the friendly staff (even though some did carry guns)'. Your remark about guns makes one wonder whether you had failed to notice the forty thousand or so of your Sinhalese kinsmen who are armed to their teeth and holed up in Jaffna. What are they doing there? Who is paying the taxes for their upkeep in an alien land? Isn’t it a huge burden on the collective shoulders of the people of this 'beautiful little gem of a country of ours'?
Instead of writing to tamilnation.org, please consider writing a moving letter to that impressive array of Sinhalese owned Newspapers in Sri Lanka or even some like minded Newspapers of mother India to appeal to those Sinhala Buddhists monks who are on that farcical relay fast unto death, to prevent aid reaching the Tsunami survivors.
These Tsunami victims have no permanent residence to live even after six long months. Isn’t that an impressive record for the gem of a little country of ours? Imagine the psychological trauma that these poor souls will be undergoing. The least we can do is to give them material help and support so that they can lead a normal life as best as they can.
We hear daily those unfortunate mothers, fathers and children weeping in BBC Tamil and other Tamil Radios complaining that they could not sleep in the temporary tin sheds even in the middle of the night, due to the absorbed heat.
Their surviving little ones are becoming even sicker due that heat. So they sleep on the open, on the same beach without any shelter facing the elements - and mind you, more than two thirds of these Tsunami victims are our Tamils. So they cry and weep in Tamil, a language, you or those Sinhala Buddhists monks cannot understand - and you may not comprehend even a single syllable of their cry or plea. Their cry for help may not move you, but it moves us and even more powerfully our Tamil National Leader Pirabakaran and his valiant soldiers who rescued and helped their brethren even before those killer Tsunami waves had receded from the shores of our Tamil homeland. In the initial days, they tended to those Tsunami victims without any outside help because there was a complete black out on this tragedy.
Please note that therein remains the eternal truth that we are different to you. Even though we may look the same, contrary to what you say, we Singhalese and Tamils are different. We are culturally and socially two distinct nations brought together by the folly of our colonial master Britain and the vision less forefathers of yours and ours. We the present generation, are collectively paying that price now. We note what you say about your Jaffna uncle, but as a role model, you may want to consider following the true Sinhalese kinsmen of yours, such as Adrian Wijemanne and Brian Senewiratne.
From: Erajh S Gunaratne, BA(Hons)Arch(Lon), BArch(Hons), M Arch, Australia, 12 June 2005
Dear Tamil Nation,
I have read the article by Dr. Rajasingham Narendran, and being a Singhalese Buddhist I am very impressed with his views. I do read other articles at tamilnation.org but this article on the Buddha statue has had a very good effect on everybody including myself. Other articles I have read have sometimes astonished me or deeply saddened me.
Even though I am a Singhalese Buddhist, I come from a family that is very mixed racially and of an open and liberated mind. My uncle for one is a Jaffna Tamil who believes in peace above all, and my thoughts and heart are very much with him. I am only 25 years of age and ever since my birth I have watched our beautiful little gem of a country torn apart by different political beliefs and the greed and vanity of a few has become the end of many innocent lives. In my belief I will never consider Prabakaran as a hero, only as a murderer of his own people, the only recognition he deserves is in hell. We Singhalese and Tamils are not different.
We are all Sri Lankans. I can understand the plight of the Tamil people...but I do not think it is the plight of the Tamil people.. I think it is the plight of all Sri Lankans. We have peace at last. For the first time in my life, I travelled to Jaffna, I was overjoyed at the efficiency of the LTTE checkpoint and the friendly staff (even though some did carry guns). I was saddened to look at a once great city, slowly picking up. I was further saddened to hear how the LTTE taxes the local businesses. Some might say they are happy to pay for their comrades in arms...but is all this necessary.. people already on the floor with heavy burdens on their shoulders do not need any more difficulty do they? I am an architecture student and I was very impressed with the remaining Hindu architecture in Jaffna. I would like to change this differentiation between the Singhalese and Tamils. We are one, we are Sri Lankans. Thank You
Response by tamilnation.org: From time to time, we receive letters such as yours from Sinhala Buddhists concerned with the prevailing situation in the island of Sri Lanka. One such letter was one that we received more than five years ago in November 1999 and you may find our response on that occasion of interest.
We note the belief that you have chosen to express in particularly strong terms -
"I will never consider Prabakaran as a hero, only as a murderer of his own people, the only recognition he deserves is in hell".
You will not be surprised if many Tamils feel that the way in which you have couched your belief is gratuitously offensive. Be that as it may, you are right to point out that the LTTE has, from time to time, taken action against those who have been shown to be informers and collaborators of the enemy. Unfortunately, an armed struggle for freedom from alien rule is no afternoon tea party. Here you may find the article on Tamil Informers of interest.
Having said that, if the Sinhala people and the Tamil people are ever to have some understanding of each other, it may be helpful for the Sinhala people to address seriously the question as to why it is that hundreds of thousands of Tamils living in Tamil Eelam and in many lands recognise Pirabakaran as the leader of Tamil Eelam. The Maha Veera Thinams and Pongu Thamizh rallies give visible and poignant expression of the feelings of the Tamil people, both young and old. Is it that these Tamils are brainwashed? Or are they simply stupid? Or is that decades of discrimination have led them to learn in the crucible of harsh experience that the practise of democracy within the confines of a unitary state has had the inevitable result of rule by a permanent ethnic Sinhala majority, who speak a language different to that of the Tamils and who trace their heritage to origins different to that of the Tamils.
Yes, the Tamil people, like the Sinhala people do yearn for peace - and an independent Tamil state can and will live in peace with an independent Sri Lanka. The real question today is to negotiate the associate structures which will encourage this process. We find the views expressed by Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein on Self Determination & the Future of Democracy, persuasive
"...Let us accept the fact that states have lifecycles similar to those of human beings who created them... hardly any Member State of the United Nations has existed within its present borders for longer than five generations.... Restrictions on self-determination threaten not only democracy itself but the state which seeks its legitimation in democracy..."
Dr. Rajasingham Narendran is ofcourse entitled to express his views on the way forward. Many Tamils may however wonder as to 'who is to bell' Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism - and, indeed how. The 50 year record of broken pacts and impotent pleas for justice lend credence to Professor Marshall Singer's remarks at the US Congress Committee on International Relations, some ten years ago -
"...One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government - regardless of which party was in power - the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much. In almost every case - sometimes within days - the party in power backed down on the agreement..."
The recent fast by the Buddhist monk Sobita Thero, and the assurance given by Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga that she will not sign any Joint Mechanism Agreement without consulting the Maha Sangha shows that nothing much has changed since her father Prime Minister S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike tore up the B-C pact at the instance of the Buddhist monks in 1957. There may be a need for Sinhala Buddhists genuinely concerned with the suffering and the destruction in the island of Sri Lanka, to address in a meaningful manner the continuing threat posed by Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism. A useful starting point may be a study of Prof.H.L.Seneviratne's Buddhist Monks and Ethnic Politics: A War Zone in an Island Paradise and Professor S.J.Tambiah's Buddhism Betrayed?
From: Brian Senewiratne Brisbane, Australia, 22 May 2005
Good wishes for Adrian Wijemanne’s 80th birthday
In March 2005, I called for worldwide prayers for Adrian desperately ill from a serious chest infection complicating myeloma (a type of bone cancer). Whoever looks after things on this globe seems to have listened. Adrian recovered and is now on his way to celebrate his 80th birthday on 29 May 2005. I am now calling for worldwide good wishes to be sent to this extraordinary man ( firstname.lastname@example.org ).
Adrian is one of very few Sinhalese (others being the late Bishop Lakshman Wickremesinghe and my uncle the late Edmund Samarakkody) to have freed themselves from the shackles of Sinhala chauvinism to campaign for the right of Thamil people to live with equality, dignity and safety in the country of their birth. This is not a fight between the Sinhalese and the Thamils. It is a fight between injustice and justice. It is not a question of who wins the war between Sinhala chauvinism and justice for the Thamil people. What is important is where we stand. It is a tragedy that there are fewer and fewer Sinhalese who can see the entirely justifiable cause of the Thamil people struggling, not for a separate state or even a federal state, but for the basic human right to exist as equals in a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious country. I pray that the eyes of the Sinhalese will be opened. Unlike my prayers for Adrian’s survival, this prayer has not been answered.
If prayers are not going to be answered, then it has to be the pressure of the international community, in particular the crucial aid-givers. They must be convinced that the racist bigoted regime in Colombo (there is not much difference between the government and the opposition) must be brought to book, as was the equally repressive and unjust regime in apartheid South Africa. If the entrenched racism in that powerful country has been dismantled, it beggars belief that a poverty-stricken 3rd world country, out with a begging bowl for survival, cannot be compelled to change its utterly intolerant policy.
The ammunition for this international ‘attack’ has been supplied by people like Adrian Wijemanne who has written more sense than any Sinhalese I know of. That is why his survival and function are so important.
The December 2004 tsunami was the defining event. If a major national catastrophe, where the Thamil areas suffered more than 70% of the damage could not generate the compassion and action of the Sinhala government in Colombo, what hope is there for a united, undivided Sri Lanka? Yesterday I met the MP for Batticaloa. He says that despite all the hype, not a single house has been built by the government in this devastated area where half the population has been rendered homeless. The damage in the South (both in areas that were damage and even not damaged (!), is proceeding at full pace With the tsunami damage, we are not talking of restoring damage from a civil war. We are talking of a humanitarian crisis from a national catastrophe. If a calamity of such proportions cannot get the Sinhala regime in Colombo to rise above its entrenched ethnic and religious chauvinism, what hope is there for an undivided country? If there was any doubt that a separate Thamil state was necessary, the post-tsunami handling of the situation in the Thamil areas has surely provided the answer.
As for Sri Lanka’s political leaders, Sinhala leaders to be specific, the Sinhala people can elect whomever they want. It could be Chandrika Kumaratunga with her 10 year record of ‘leadership’ (read: destruction of the Thamil area and its people), the non-performing Ranil Wickremesinghe (the LTTE called off talks during his regime), Somawansa Amaratunge and his friends whose claim to fame rests on their massacre of thousands of their own ethnic group, the Sinhalese, including intellectuals and even Buddhist monks, and the extensive destruction of Sri Lanka’s infrastructure, including agricultural equipment, in the 1988-89 insurgency, Elle Gunawansa of 1983 Thamil massacre ‘fame’ and his anti-Thamil brethren in the JHU, so be it. If the Sinhala people are comfortable with these people as ‘leaders’, that is their problem. However, the Thamil people, the Thamil nation, which has not elected these people as ‘leaders’, do not need to be saddled with them. If ever there was a case for a separate Thamil State, it is the abysmal quality of the Sinhala leadership, to say nothing of their serious corruption, gross incompetence and complete lack of vision.
If Adrian is spared for a few more years, he may see what he has campaigned for all these many years – justice for the Thamil people. It is in this spirit that I ask you to join with me in wishing him a very happy 80th birthday and many more to come.
From: Subramanian , Executive Director, Manitham, www.tamilinfoservice.com/manitham, 8 April 2005
Sub : Urgent Appeal for an International Independent Investigation on Sethusamudram Project - Public participation in Signature Campaign [see also Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project in Tamils - A Trans State Nation]
Manitham, working to promote Human Rights, Protecting Environment, has issued an Urgent Appeal for an International Independent Investigation on Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project [SSCP]. Public also can take part in this Signature Campaign by signing with Manitham web site :
http://www.tamilinfoservice.com/manitham/form/petition/2005/1.php [see also Hindu Report of 7 April 2005]
Manitham has already submitted a detailed report [http://www.tamilinfoservice.com/manitham/environment/sscp/ir.htm ] on SSCP on 30-07-2004 itself. In the report, it has raised a lot of doubts on the SSCP, which has not been cleared till today by the Union government officials and has not taken care to other environmental factors. But it is being shown interest to implement the project without proper investigation.
Manitham is totally condemning this type of proposal. Now Manitham decides for an Urgent Appeal and it has also decided for a signature campaign through public participation, urging for a full and detailed International Independent Investigation on Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project [SSCP].
Herewith we are enclosing a copy of the Urgent Appeal. As this is very important issue facing before us, we are requesting you to publish it widely in your media.
From: Brian Senewiratne, Brisbane, Australia, 26 March 2005
A Prayer for Adrian Wijemanne
As Adrian Wijemanne lies desperately ill with a serious pneumonia complicating myeloma (a type of bone marrow cancer) I am calling for world wide prayers to whoever determines these things, to spare his life. Adrian’s loss will be a major blow to the struggle of the Tamil people for justice at the hands or a brutal and irresponsible regime in Colombo.
There are those who are fighting with guns, and laying down their lives in the process, to free the Tamil people from Sinhala domination by taking on the military might of the Sri Lankan armed forces assisted and even rescued(!) by international ‘helpers’. There are others who are fighting the Government policy of Sinhala-Buddhist ethno-religious chauvinism using the equally effective pen. The two outstanding exponents of the latter are Adrian Wijemanne and Subramanium Sivanayagam who, for some strange reason, are both afflicted by the same deadly disease, myeloma. The loss of either of them will be a major blow to all of us who support the entirely justifiable struggle of the Tamil people, not just for peace, but for peace with justice.
In my (very) personal and highly biased (!) list of unsung heroes in the Tamil struggle, there are five – all but one (Siva) in their 80s and even 90s! Leading the pack is C.J.T.Thamotheram, the eminence grise of the Tamils in the UK. It was this amazing man, now in his mid 80s and with a crippling ailment, who woke me up at 4am to tell me about Adrian and to invite me to join a “Forum of Writers” he had just set up to counter the anti-Tamil activities of that Tamil Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar. Then comes Adrian, the leader of those Sinhalese who have been able to distance themselves from Sinhala ethno-religious chauvinism. Then there is the outstanding journalist, Subramaniam Sivanayagam, who has sacrificed his entire career and has lived the life of a gypsy, for the cause of the Tamil people. He was the founder-editor of the Saturday Review and several other papers, the author of “The Pen and the Gun” and the just-released “Sri Lanka: Witness to History”, the Foreword of which was written by Adrian. The latter records in minute detail the suffering of the Tamil people over the years, a remarkable work. Then there is V. Navaratnam, born 1910, now in Canada, once the veteran MP for Kayts and the author of “The fall and rise of the Tamil nation”. Last but no least, Sabapathy Thillairajah of Washington, that extraordinary octogenarian who seems to spend his life, or what is left of it, keeping us informed of what is going on in Sri Lanka.
Four have been removed from my list because they have left the planet. Prof. Christie Jeyam Eliezer, the doyen of Tamils in Australia who wrote the Foreword to my booklet on the 1983 Tamil massacre Into his shoes has stepped his extraordinary wife, Ranee, thankfully still alive! Then there was the only Anglican saint I know of, Bishop Lakshman Wickremasinghe, the Bishop of Kurenegala, an outstanding Sinhalese who was killed by the shock of the 1983 massacre of Tamils. On the other side of the ‘Christian divide’, Bishop Bastiampillai Deogupillia, the courageous Roman Catholic Bishop of Jaffna who refused to be intimidated by thugs in the Sri Lankan armed forces who thought it fit not only to drop bombs but even buckets of faeces on his home, despite which he opted to stay with his flock in their hour of need. Then there was my mother’s brother, Edmund Samarakkody, the veteran LSSP politician who fought so hard for the rights of the Tamil people and who refused to join political prostitutes in his party when they crossed over to accept ministerial positions in Sirima Bandaranaike’s Government, thereby setting new standards in political integrity.
Adrian Wijemanne is the Sinhalese “gift” to the Tamil people in atonement, if that is possible, for the terrible damage done to them by the likes of the Bandarinaikes, who have been responsible for the shedding of more Tamil (and Sinhalese!) blood than any other family, the arrogant dictator Junius Jayawardena and his hoodlums, the murderous Cyril Matthew and his villain-in-arms, Venerable Alle Gunawanse Thero whose hands are soaked with July 1983 Tamil blood, and today’s so-called Sinhalese “leaders” who are, in reality, political opportunists determined to wreck the peace process and plunge the country into yet another war, for their own political and economic gains.
Adrian and I have two things in common. We are both Sinhalese and we both believe with unshakeable faith that the Tamil people will be liberated from the Sinhala regime in Colombo. It is not a question of “if” but “when”, and at what cost in terms of human suffering. The responsibility lies with the Sri Lankan Government. It is not a question of a release of the Tamil people from a chauvinistic regime but from a chauvinistic policy, even entrenched in the Sri Lankan Constitution, that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala-Buddhist nation. If a Sinhala nation is the policy, then there is no alternative to the establishment of a Tamil nation. It is this that has been presented and argued with such force and irrefutable logic by Adrian Wijemanne.
For more than 40 years as a Physician, I have not infrequently realised that having come to the end of the road with Medicine, one has to leave the rest to a greater power. This is where we have got to with Adrian. I am a Christian but not one who believes that the billions who are non-Christians are heading for eternal damnation! I have been able to distance myself from the arrogance of the Christian establishment and have learnt to respect the beliefs of others. There are those who believe that events on this planet are “predestined”. They may be right. There are, however, others who believe differently. It is to them that I appeal for prayers, cutting across the man-made boundaries of religion, to save the life of Adrian, at least until he sees the Tamil people, who have a special place in his heart, liberated.
From: Sangarapillai Sampanthar, United Kingdom, 24 February 2005
About Benny Hinn - I had not heard of Pastor Hinn, as he is called, until I came to Bangalore. There was a lot of coverage and advertisements about his forthcoming Festival of Blessings. As the publicity material equated idol worship and prostitution as cardinal sins some Hindu organizations objected to his visit. Large numbers of police had to be deployed to ensure safety. Nevertheless on the first of the 3 days of the Festival damage was done to public transport vehicles before the police could intervene.
Nisha was able to get me a good seat so I attended on the second day. I had a good view of the platform though most people had to watch one of the 70 or so giant screens that were set up. They could not see the entire platform as the camera concentrated on the performer.
Pastor Hinn and his entourage of over 90 people traveled by private jet to India and stayed at the Lalitha Palace Hotel. (Room rate Rs 17000 plus).
He traveled to the venue by Helicopter and after circling the crowds announced that there were over two million people at the venue. I stood on a chair and on all the three sides as far as my eye could see I saw only the crowds.
On the first day Hinn announced that he will not accept donations and that his ministry will bear the cost. On the second day, when I was there, after working the audience into a frenzy, but before the healing part of the proceedings, Hinn said that his show – his word not mine - was costing millions of dollars and would they make generous contributions when the collection box was passed their way. On the final day also there was a collection.
In addition, the audience was invited to become “partners” and most people near me delivered completed cards. Being a “partner” involves making a commitment to pay regular monthly contributions of the order of Rs 500.
(When I went to Sai Baba’a ashram no one solicited any money. What is more, in the initial briefing we were told to beware of people claiming to be able to arrange a private interview with Sai Baba for a consideration. We were told not to part with our money, as interviews were not arranged that way.)
Hinn, dressed in expensive white sherwani type suit, did not exude piety or holiness (unlike the Pope or Mother Teresa or some other committed Christians that I have come across). He was a typical American brash showman. The translation of Hinn’s speech was brilliant, the translator faithfully reproducing instantly every nuance and tone of Hinn.
Some dignitaries were assembled on the platform. Hinn said the Bible asked us to respect those in authority over us. We were asked to rise up, raise our hands and pray for them. They were introduced to Hinn. Hinn did not try to push Dave Gowda, a former Prime Minister of India, his daughter, grandson or the Catholic Archbishop who were on the platform. He did push others. One or two – 20stone MLAs - did not move at all. Some took a step or two back. Others lost their balance. They were caught from behind by Hinn’s assistants, slowly laid on the ground and almost immediately picked up and had no difficulty standing. I could not fathom the reason for this display.
Many of the dignitaries on the platform were from Andhra Pradesh. They may have been there to see whether they can recommend the A.P. State Government to be as supportive of Hinn’s projected visit next year to Hyderabad as the Karnataka State Government was of Hinn’s visit to Bangalore this year.
Hinn said that Jesus tells him every day that miracles do occur. (But next day he said that when he meets up with Jesus he would ask why some are cured and others are not) He asked everyone to stand and touch with his or her hands the part of the body that was diseased. Then he said “in the name of Jesus let tumors shrink, let the blind see, the deaf hear, the dumb speak etc “, or words to that effect, and asked those who have been cured to come up to the platform and share the good news.
His assistants chose the ones to be allowed on the platform.
Hinn produced a woman who had Diabetes for twenty long years and who has now been cured. We were asked to raise our hands upward and shout, “Praise the Lord”. A person who was blind and who could see now came on stage. Hinn asked him to follow him and darted across the platform with the formerly blind man now following him. A woman who had cancer and who was now cured came up. Then there was a formerly deaf and dumb person. When Hinn asked him to say ‘Jesus’ he said so, though not in a normal voice but in the voice of deaf people speaking. A child who could not walk before came up and started running on stage when Hinn told him to do so. A newspaper reporter who had managed to convince Hinn’s assistants that he coud not walk before came up to the stage. As he was also ‘cured’ we said ‘Praise the Lord’ for him too. All these people he pushed and they fell to the ground though not the reporter who was able to write about it next day.
Some Hindu organization said, probably without any solid evidence, that Hinn should be arrested as one person, when he fell did not get up but died of a heart attack. They were worried that Hinn was bent on conversion. They need not have. Hinn himself said that he did not come to convert. He did not say that he came only to collect money though.
Hinn said that Jesus loves Hindus, Muslims etc also. Christians as well as people of other faiths were also amongst those cured. Thus it was not a case of ‘Convert and be cured’ or ‘Cure me and I will convert’. It would appear that one can believe anything provided one also believes that Christ can cure anyone who has faith that Christ can do so. Washing away one’s heritage was not a prerequisite. Neither was it a promise. However whether to be saved by Jesus one has to take a dip is an open question.
An Indian priest exuding piety sang some beautiful songs in a mellifluous voice and at the end bent down to touch Hinn’s feet. To Hinn’s credit he quickly bent down himself and they were head to head for a few minutes which masked the attempt of the Indian priest to demean himself.
Of course Jesus saves the poor, downtrodden and the sick. He seems to have had something against the wealthy though. Hence the saying about the eye of the needle and the camel.
Some people thus see a niche market and target the rich and the not so rich. If they cannot get them to Heaven by any other way they can at least make them poor so that Jesus can take over.
I have seen people making their way to the Festival walking on all fours. Others were carried. I have seen the utter despair of some of those who were not cured. To be told you do not have enough faith or that your time has not come is no consolation. Hinn is guilty of giving false hopes to some very desperate people.
Hinn says it is Jesus who cures – but at his behest (my addition). When asked, I did not touch any part of my body- I did not know which part to touch. I was almost dehydrated, as I did not drink any water for fear of having to go to the toilet, which was almost one km. away. After several hours of sitting down I had an attack of gout by the time I left. It may well be that someone had gout and for him Hinn’s prayers worked. So his gout, having to go somewhere, came to me.
One thing about prayer has always bothered me. Heaven must surely be a better place than this world and Hell a worse place, though no one to my knowledge has come back to tell us that. If that is so, why should one pray to be cured of illnesses to prolong one’s stay in this world? Should not the prayer be “Oh Lord, take me unto you as quickly as possible”? Could it be that those who pray for good health and longevity are not truly convinced that there is a better place for them to go to? Hence their desire not to want to leave the place they know for an unknown and unknowable Heaven but to want their situation here and now to be improved.
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