Peace for the World

Peace for the World
First democratic leader of Justice the Godfather of the Sri Lankan Tamil Struggle: Honourable Samuel James Veluppillai Chelvanayakam

Friday, May 31, 2013

Jaffna Library burns - May 31st 1981

Remembering the Jaffna
Public Library

31 May 2013 

On 31st May 1981, 
the crucible of Tamil literature and heritage - the Jaffna Public Library - was set ablaze by state security forces and state sponsored mobs. 

Over 95,000 unique and irreplaceable Tamil palm leaves (ola), manuscripts, parchments, books, magazines and newspapers, housed within an impressive building inspired by ancient Dravidian architecture, were destroyed during the burning that continued unchecked for two nights.

Nancy Murray, a western author, wrote at the time:

"They burned to the ground certain chosen targets - including the Jaffna Public Library, with its 95,000 volumes and priceless manuscripts…no mention of this appeared in the national newspapers, not even the burning of the library, the symbol of Tamils' cultural identity. The government delayed bringing in emergency rule until 2 June, by which time the key targets had been destroyed."

The destruction took place under the rule of the UNP at a time when District Development Council elections were underway, and two notorious Sinhala chauvinist cabinet ministers - Cyril Mathew and Gamini Dissanayake - were in Jaffna. Earlier on the 31st May, three Sinhalese police officers were killed during a rally by the TULF (Tamil United Liberation Front).

Cultural Vandalism and Genocide

The term genocide is only a recent one, having been coined in 1945 by Raphael Lemkin, lecturer on comparative law at the Institute of Criminology of the Free University of Poland and Deputy Prosecutor of the District Court of Warsaw. Since then, it has become a crucial term for understanding events, particularly ethnic violence, in the world.

Lemkin defined genocide as "a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves."

He said that the objective of such a plan would be disintegration of the political
and social institutions of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.

For Lemkin, "genocide is directed against the national group as an entity, and the
actions involved are directed against individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group."

Whilst genocide has come to be associated with the concentrated killings of large numbers of people, such as in a few bloody month in Rwanda recently or during the years of the Holocuast of WW2, Lemkin's concept is just as valid if it happens over decades.

Furthermore, the destruction of a people's culture, whilst not given particular attention in the massive bloodletting which has characterised the well known instances of genocide, remains an integral part of the crime as Lemkin saw it.

"An attack targeting a collectivity can also take the form of systematic and organized destruction of the art and cultural heritage in which the unique genius and achievement of a collectivity are revealed in fields of science, arts and literature," he wrote. "The contribution of any particular collectivity to world culture as a whole forms the wealth of all of humanity, even while exhibiting unique characteristics."

"The [perpetrator] causes not only the immediate irrevocable losses of the destroyed work as property and as the culture of the collectivity directly concerned (whose unique genius contributed to the creation of this work); it is also all humanity which experiences a loss by this act of vandalism."

"In the acts of barbarity, as well as in those of vandalism, the asocial and destructive spirit of the [perpetrator] is made evident. This spirit, by definition, is the opposite of the culture and progress of humanity."

(First published in Tamil Guardian edition 06 June 2001)

Sri Lanka: Jaffna Public Library destroyed by Sinhala Police -

The Loosening Of Discipline Within The Judiciary

By AHRC -May 31, 2013 
Colombo TelegraphThe District Court Judge of Homagama, Sunil Abeysinghe and his guard Constable were arrested yesterday (May 30, 2013) allegedly while receiving a bribe of Rs. 300,000/= in order to return a favourable judgement to the bribe giver.
Judge Aravinda Perera
Immediately after the illegal removal of Chief Justice Shirani Bandaranayke and the appointment of Mohan Peiris as the CJ, one of the earliest steps taken was the reinstatement of Aravinda Perera who was suspended from service by the Judicial Service Commission after their inquiries into allegations of bribery and corruption. This sent a clear signal of the loosening of discipline within the judiciary. Therefore, the Homagama District Judge being caught allegedly accepting a bribe comes as no surprise. The overall framework of the breakdown of discipline within the judiciary as a result of favouring those who are openly loyal to the Rajapaksa regime has created an environment suitable for the increase of bribery and corruption.
Added to this the new CJ, by his many statements from the bench, is discouraging litigation and encouraging outside court settlements. What is being called ‘justice at the market place’ is now encouraged in Sri Lanka. What this means is the encouragement of litigants to seek the assistance of various authorities in the hope of getting their favour. Litigation on the basis of rights and the reliance on law and legal procedure is now openly discouraged.
Sunil Abyesinghe
Driving the judiciary away from its traditional role as impartial arbiters who base their judgements entirely on the basis of law appears to be the ideological orientation now being pursued under the new administration. The arbitrary transfers of large numbers of judges and the removal of some of the officers of the Judicial Service Commission were moves aimed at bringing about the overall control of judges, not on the basis of judicial norms and standards but on the basis of political loyalties and the willingness to bend rules to suit the political aims of the government.
This overall approach will necessarily increase bribery and corruption and undermine the moral of the judiciary. The causing of such demoralisation is a policy line required to encourage the greater loss of confidence in judicial institutions and the rule of law. Such demoralisation and the people’s loss of faith act in favour of subduing resistance to the government.
In terms of these overall changes some may cynically blame the District Judge of Homagama, not for taking bribes but for getting caught. Perhaps this District Court Judge may also receive pardon in due course despite the fact that at the moment he is in remand custody. Interference with the due process of law being a common feature by now, it will come as no surprise if ways are found to return this judicial officer to the judiciary.
Earlier this week the opposition United National Party declared their aim to replace the present constitutionand some proposals for reforms have been submitted. In discussions on constitutional reform what is required is to deal with the complete derailing of the administration of justice and the rule of law in general. The implementation of a constitution depends on a functioning system of the administration of justice and the confidence that the people have in such systems. Given the level of the collapse of all the public institutions involved in the administration of justice, the making of a workable constitution for Sri Lanka will prove to be a herculean task. One of the hydra-like monsters that need to be beheaded would be corruption at all levels, including corruption in the judiciary itself.
Whether sufficient political will could be harnessed to achieve such comprehensive reforms is the test that will decide the destiny of Sri Lankans.

Geneva basing on LLRC unfortunate, 13A never a starting point: Guruparan

[TamilNet, Thursday, 30 May 2013, 19:25 GMT]
TamilNet“The Geneva resolutions premising their programme of action or their indicated programme of action on the basis of the LLRC is very unfortunate in that they fail to understand that the LLRC is merely a time buying process,” said Jaffna University law academic and civil society activist Guruparan Kumaravadivel in an exclusive interview to TamilNet this week. Answering a question on the 13th Amendment, he said, “it is not a starting point; it is not a reference point; it is not a basis.” The views coming from a prominent activist based in the island gains much significance against the backdrop of orchestrations in the diaspora defending the US-tabled, India-fine-tuned Geneva resolution, and renewed efforts of New Delhi in invoking the zombie of the 13th Amendment. 

Guruparan Kumaravadivel
Guruparan Kumaravadivel
The starting point is a pre-constitutional issue, in which the Sinhala nation has to recognise that Tamils are a nation entitled to the Right to Self-Determination within their traditional homeland. This recognition should have an international underwriting, as otherwise the Sinhala-majority State could always abrogate it, Mr Guruparan explained.

LLRC was conceived not to resolve the problems faced by Tamils, but to delay international action and to preserve the status quo of the State in international arena, Guruparan said. 

“Now the reason why 13th Amendment might be talked about as a starting point is because of the failure of the international community — failure on the part of India and the US in particular — in their ability of extracting from this government, from the Southern polity in general, anything furthermore,” the civil society activist observed. 

If there are people who are looking at the 13th Amendment as a starting point, it is because of the pressure of India and the USA on Tamils both inside and outside of the island to be satisfied with the 13th Amendment. Particularly India may have indicated to the Tamil political leadership in the country that the 13th Amendment is the highest benchmark in terms of what a political solution should look like, he said.

Commenting on the so-called ‘internal self-determination’, the law academic said, “My understanding of the Right to Self-Determination is that it cannot be split into its internal and external forms. There is only one Right to Self-Determination.” 

Guruparan Kumaravadivel“If a particular nation or a people are recognised as having the Right of Self-Determination, it is their choice as to how they exercise it,” he said, adding that “let the Tamil people decide whether that right can be exercised internally.” 

On expectations about ‘regime change’ bringing in solutions, Guruparan said that in that case solutions should have taken place long back when there were so many regime changes in the past. What is needed is a change in the stance of the Sinhala nation as a whole in accepting Tamils as a nation in the island, he said.

Full text of the interview:

Mass protest against placing Buddha statue
By Our Batticaloa Correspondent

A mass protest urging those concerned to desist from using the statue of The Buddha as a symbol of anarchy, was held in Batticaloa on Wednesday (29), with the participation of TNA Parliamentarians from the Batticaloa District, Eastern Provincial Councillors, members of local bodies and civilians.

The protest was staged to prevent the erection of a statue of The Buddha at the gateway to the Batticaloa District, in front of a temple of the Hindu deity, Lord Ganesha.

The protestors including women shouted slogans, requesting those concerned not to fan religious unrest in the Batticaloa District and to remove the Buddha statue, which has been erected in an area where Buddhists hardly live.
The placards carried by the protestors read: 'What is the need for a Buddha statue where Buddhists hardly live;' 'Don't make the 'great teacher to mankind as a symbol of anarchy.'

The management of the Ganesha Temple, opposite which the Buddha statue has been erected, accompanied by the Rural Development Society, handed over a memorandum to the Government Agent of the Batticaloa District, P.S.M. Charles, through TNA Parliamentarian, P. Selvaraja, demanding the removal of the Buddha statue at the entrance to the District.

A memorandum was also handed over to the senior military officials, requesting them to prevent steps being taken put up the Buddha statue in the said area.
Batticaloa District TNA Parliamentarians, P. Selvarajah, P. Ariyanethiran and C. Yogeswaran along with the EPC Councillors, K. Thurairajasingham, R. Thurairatnam, Jana Karunakaran, Prasanna Indrakumar, Nadarajah and Krishnapillai Vellimalai were at the forefront of Wednesday's protest.

The TNA Parliamentarians said the protest was peaceful. However, they lamented the presence of officers of the military establishment who were filming and taking photographs of the demonstration and those who had participated in the same.
TNA Parliamentarians added they too took pictures of the military officers who had been videoing them and the demonstration.

Congress parliamentarian invokes zombie of Indo-Lanka Accord

[TamilNet, Friday, 31 May 2013, 09:16 GMT]
TamilNet“We believe that discussing the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord (1987) to be a proper solution to the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka will be beneficial to the Sri Lankan Tamil People,” says Sonia-led Congress parliamentarian from Tamil Nadu, Dr E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan, who convenes ‘Sri Lankan Tamil Leaders’ Conference 2013 in New Delhi, from 5th to 6th June. Saying that the conference is a follow up of the 2011 New Delhi meet of 8 Tamil political parties, including 5 parliamentarians from the island, Natchiappan this time has also invited “leaders from the diaspora Tamil community and the leaders from the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India […] to discuss strengthening and fully implementing the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord (1987).” Natchiappan recently visited London. 

The conference is convened by Natchiappan, as President of the Parliamentarian Forum on Human Rights for Global Development. Mr Seevaratnam Vaseekaran is named in the invitation as Event Secretary.

A former militant outfit ENDLF, created by New Delhi’s intelligence and is operating in India, fully backs the conference, informed sources said. 

The outfit is critical of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) for not fully cooperating in proclaiming acceptance of the 13th Amendment during the 2011 Natchiappan conference, the sources further said.

Sudarsana Natchiappan
Sudarsana Natchiappan
During the 2011 conference, the convenor Dr Natchiappan was seen insinuating the participants to resolve acceptance of the 13th Amendment. The move failed as TNPF delegates Mr. Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Mr. S. Kajendren were firm in not falling into the trap and the TNA had to follow suit.

Dr Natchiappan painted a success story of the 2011 “Agony and Solace” conference, in the present invitation to the 2013 deliberations. He said the earlier conference followed India voting in favour [at Geneva] to implement the LLRC report, the 13th Amendment of the Sri Lankan constitution and equal rights of ethnic Tamils living in Sri Lanka and rehabilitation of IDP and refugees accommodated in various countries.”

Claiming that his earlier conference showed to the world that the Tamil parties are united, Natchiappan twisted the national cause of Eezham Tamils as the participants “impressed upon the Indian political parties on their struggle to achieve equal rights.”

An Indian parliamentary debate, visit of parliamentary delegation to IDP camps, dialogue in the SL parliament and direct meeting of the Indian delegation with the SL President were made on the basis of the 2011 conference, claimed the Sonia Congress parliamentarian.
* * *

In an unprecedented uprising of youth, independent of political parties, nearly 600,000 people took to streets in Tamil Nadu earlier this year against an empty US-India resolution at Geneva that didn’t recognize the nation of Eezham Tamils and the genocide faced by them, but was talking of LLRC implementation, provincial elections etc., in a unitary Sri Lankan State.

The uprising made the Tamil Nadu State Assembly to unanimously resolve on 27 March, urging the UN to conduct a referendum among Eezham Tamils in the island as well as in the diaspora on the question of Separate Eezham.

If the Sonia-led Congress Party parliamentarian from Tamils Nadu is still bent on thrusting the Indo-Lanka Accord and the 13th Amendment that maintains the unitary character of the genocidal Sinhala State, on Tamil leaders in the island, in the diaspora and in the Tamil Nadu refugee camps (which are strictly under the grip of New Delhi’s intelligence), with the backing of Indian intelligence operated outfits, then it has to be viewed very seriously by Tamils all over the world, commented Eezham Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

Many Tamils have started believing that the on-going structural genocide, accelerated militarization, Sinhala colonization and overnight demographic genocide in the North and East are conducted, not only by the Sinhala State but also by New Delhi and Washington.

New Delhi particularly backs the process of Colombo’s structural genocide of the Tamil nation, and from time to time weakens further any other international efforts such as the Geneva resolutions, in order to make Eezham Tamils helpless and to intimidate them to accept the 13th Amendment, the Tamil activists in the island said.

If the Congress party continues to be adamant in upholding the genocidal unity of State in the island, Tamil Nadu polity may have to work in unison towards initiating war crimes investigation in India itself, against all those who were responsible in the New Delhi Establishment for the genocidal crimes committed in the island. Such a move, if possible with a change of government in New Delhi, would inspire the entire world and humanity. Only such efforts would stop erring Establishments treading on humanity, the Tamil activists in the island further said.

An Independent University – A Free Student

By Jayantha Dehiaththage/ Lakmali Hemachandra/ Ramindu Perera/ Ravi Tissera -May 31, 2013 
Colombo TelegraphSri Lankan university system is confronting many problems in the present day. Autonomy of the universities is threatened by undue influence and university education has degenerated both intellectually and culturally. As a group of concerned final year students, who has been in the university for four years, we are publishing a manifesto on how we see this problems and the stand we take for a better culture with in the university.
Democracy in the University
Democracy is a value system and a life style. Democracy is the force that every law derives its power from. Therefore we believe that relationships between,
- the administration and the students
- students and students
- lecturers and lecturers
must adhere to values of democracy.
Administrative decision in the university should be taken with the participation and agreement of the student body, giving priority to the needs of the students’ needs and an open and a transparent procedure should be adopted in taking these decisions. In the absence of such participation administrative decisions are imposed on students violating democratic values. Similarly the student body must practice democracy by listening to the opinions of the administration and decisions must be made with the agreement of both parties.
The decision making process within the student body must be fully transparent while ensuring the participation of all student groups. The decision making process should be enriched with the participation of students from different ethnic and religious communities as well as with female participation. The student union as the decision making body for the students must include representation of all groups mentioned because the responsibility and the consequences of the decisions taken by the student representative are shared by the entire student community.
Students’ Autonomy
University students are citizens above the age of eighteen. Therefore they have the right to autonomy in decision making and the right to be treated as adults. The students have the right and the freedom to engage in their own activity and that must not be infringed through unnecessary control of student activism by the administration. There exists a clear contradiction in regarding students to be independent and capable in their academic studies while adopting a patronizing attitude towards student activism outside of academics.
Academic Culture
The academic culture in the university is different from a school or a tuition class. A university is a place where lecturers along with students engage in exploring knowledge, not an institution that follows the teacher-student relationship that existed in the feudal society. Feudal traditions of standing up at the sight of the teacher entering the class and chastising the students and belittling them are not suitable for a modern university. While we believe that students must respect lecturers for the value of respecting human dignity, we do not think it should be in the nature of a feudal worship of the teacher.
The student in return is qualified to receive that same respect by virtue of being a human being. From the time before the renaissances universities were the birth places of fresh ideas and ideologies that changed the world. However Sri Lankan universities today have been reduced to vocational training institutes where students memorize the notes in order to get jobs. The existing academic culture does not encourage the student to think independently. Instead of a student who mechanically engages in academics fearing the year end exams the academic culture within the campus must be conducive to create scholars with critical and analytical views. The fact that the current academic culture has substituted the role of the scholar who seeks knowledge with a student who seeks attendance is truly a tragedy. It is futile to hope that an academic environment that has minimum facilities in lecture halls and hostels will create great scholars with strong personalities.
Student Politics
The word ‘politics’ has become a profanity inside universities. However the scholars, who denounce politics publicly, engage in it secretly as it happens with all things considered obscene. To insist that universities must be apolitical when everything about the world is political shows lack of perception among scholars. University students must be political, they must engage in critical political activism.
Student politics should move beyond the petty politics of eating and drinking at parties with ministers to a more meaningful, principle based political activism. Opinions must not be suppressed in the university. There should be a space for political discourse and debate. Universities, throughout the history, have
played an important role in creating and nurturing great political ideologies. The result of this imposition of an apolitical character on universities is apparent today with the reign of thugs, who have forgotten their memories, in our current mainstream political space.
The Role of the Scholars
We believe that the role of the lecturers and the students in the university should not be limited to academics. Today, the place of the student in universities is narrowed down to the four walls of lecture halls and libraries. The least possible participation in a cultural activity inside the university too is done with a lackluster attitude. Matters of social, cultural and political importance are not debated and discussed in the university among scholars and when such rare discussions do happen there seems to be no interest to join them. The university in its current form is producing scholars lacking the ability to be visionary, intellectual or critical. Is it not this intellectual deterioration that is reflected in the national level as well? We believe that this situation should change and that a thousand ideas should clash from the lecture halls to the canteens without the students who hold that opinions clashing with each other.
Universities are maintained by the tax money collected from not only engineers and cooperation chiefs but also from farmers and labourers. Therefore university students and lecturers have a social responsibility of standing up for common problems. Although there are lecturers and students who are trying to make changes in attitudes of the university community towards representing and striving for public good, most scholars remain apathetic to the problems of the masses.To pursue private advantage, career and petty individuality, ignoring the social responsibility the scholars are trusted with, is indeed a tragedy. Especially in the recent times we see a breakdown of democracy in the country and the enactment of the 18th Amendment, politicization of the judiciary and amending the criminal procedure code with adding oppressive provisions are a few examples of the said breakdown of democracy. The role of the true scholar when faced with such injustice is not to approve them or to be silent in front of them, willingly or unwillingly, but to stand up against them actively and vivaciously.
Free education and freedom in education
We believe education to be a right and not a privilege. Education is a quintessential factor in human development and every citizen has an equal right to education. This equal right can only be achieved through an education that is free at the point of delivery or as well call it, free education. Market forces are not successful in performing that function of education as a necessary tool of civilization. However in the recent times we have seen privatization of education being adopted as the government policy on education.
We condemn such policy and believe that a thought provoking debate should exist within the universities about the importance of free education and freedom in education. Empowerment of free education and the force it will have are decisive in establishing all the other good practices that we discussed from the beginning of the manifesto (democracy in the university, autonomy of students, a good academic culture and the role of the scholars). During these times when most have forgotten this empowering role of free education we believe that defending the right to free education is a duty that we cannot cast aside.
The purpose of this manifesto is to document the main principles and values that we believe are essential to build a better culture in the university. Instead of a university where we follow a meaningless routine with mechanical precision without giving any second thought, our hope is too see a university community that acts on principles with critical intelligence, following higher values of democracy and human freedom. Some might think this hope is utopian and impossible to achieve but let us remind you that in the medieval time when a few dreamt of democracy instead of a feudal society ruled by a monarch, the same allegation of being utopian was thrown at them as well. Every step the world has taken towards development and advancement has been a result of the continuous struggle to achieve a goal that was once utopian. We request from you to discuss and debate the ideas presented here. A university with a greater cause and a culture will only be possible if such debates and discussions ultimately lead to vivacious and unending activism.
*JayanthaDehiaththage/ LakmaliHemachandra/ RaminduPerera/ Ravi Tissera - Final year- Faculty of Law, University of Colombo

‘Unity with power-sharing’ Answer to national problem

By Dr. Vickramabahu Karunaratne-WEDNESDAY, 29 MAY 2013 

The cry for devolution is not a new phenomenon to Lanka. In ancient times too, Lanka was divided into three provinces though it was united under one umbrella. With the rise of Lankan bourgeoisie the federal idea was originated among the Sinhalese. In 1925 S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was prepared to come out with that suggestion. The young Bandaranaike was a brilliant student of Oxford; he returned to the island in 1925 with a firm resolution to serve his motherland as a national liberal politician. In the same year he founded a political party known as ‘Progressive National Party’ to achieve national emancipation. He was the leader of that Party while the Secretary was C. Ponnambalam.

" Indian leaders cannot give any more concessions to Mahinda and lose their vote base in southern India. On the other hand if Mahinda does not comply with the request of global powers then they may use instruments of destabilisation against his regime "

At that time, most of the Tamil leaders preferred a unitary system of government to that of a federal form. While the Sinhala leaders propagated the concept of a federal formula the Tamils strongly opposed it. The latter wanted a balanced representation on the basis of communal interests within a unitary state. In that manner they expected to counter the Sinhala majoritist tendency in the state assembly. Today, the irony is that the Tamils want self-rule for the Tamil homeland in the NE while the Sinhala chauvinists arouse the suspicion that federation may be a ploy to separation. In these circumstances the national problem must be resolved by ‘unity with power-sharing’ that could satisfy the suffering Tamil people, while defeating the chauvinist Sinhala elements. It is interesting to note that despite the political trend of that time, Bandaranaike introduced the federal concept for the first time into the mainstream of political life of Lanka. He stated emphatically in the Constitution of the Progressive National Party, that the only solution to the problem would be the adoption of a federal system of government. He further declared that -“the majority of us feel that in view of the local conditions, particularly racial differences, the most satisfactory method to minimize and gradually remove such differences is a federal system of Government. Such a system of Government has in other countries particularly in Switzerland, tended national unity. We feel that the present arrangements of nine provinces should remain and be the basis of the Federal System”. Unfortunately he later aroused the very forces he feared would cause difficulties. Today, President Mahinda has to control the new generation of these trouble makers.

Global powers including India want the government to hold Northern Provincial Council elections according to the present Constitution and they dismiss any support to reducing powers of the PC setup. Holding elections, it is generally assumed, has to be done before the Commonwealth Conference. The President cannot postponeelections and hold the Commonwealth Conference. Already steps have been taken to reduce high security zones and to hand over agricultural land to Tamil claimers. Weerawansa and the JHU will have to be satisfied with gimmicks within the Parliament. They will avoid mixing with JVP campaigns in the streets. India with Global powers will use the conference to press for complete implementation of the LLRC recommendations. Indian leaders cannot give any more concessions to Mahinda and lose their vote base in southern India. On the other hand if Mahinda does not comply with the request of global powers then they may use instruments of destabilisation against his regime. They will of course argue that some international pressure is necessary to resolve the national problem in Lanka. First they supported and promoted the war against the Tamil rebels, now they demand implementation of the LLRC recommendations.

If the Northern Provincial Council elections are held then the TNA is sure to win, provided it contests as an anti government united front. Will that anger the Sinhala chauvinists and will they create trouble in the south? So far the government has taken no action against chauvinist trouble makers; but the state cannot allow communal unrest to develop without taking steps to arrest such forces.

Sri Lanka at a critical crossroad: JHU and the 13th Amendment

Udaya Gammanpila, Senior Member of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), courtesy
Groundviews-30 May, 2013
The country stands at a crossroad. A parliamentary victory for the JHU bill will complete the negative process which commenced with Sinhala Only in 1956 and the distortion in 1972 of the laudable shift to a Republic with mono-linguistic and mono-religious hegemony. If ’56 and ’72 were paving stones for the Tamil Eelam project, the passage of the JHU bill to abolish the 13thamendment will complete the process of the legitimisation of secessionism.
A victory for the JHU will also cast a pall over the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and guarantee Sri Lanka’s defeat at the UN Human Rights Council in March 2014. It will embarrass our allies Russia and China and drive South Africa and much of the Non-Aligned Movement away from us. It will irreversibly discredit and radically isolate the country and the Sinhalese, regionally and internationally. In short, in terms of Sri Lanka’s national interest, it will be the single most self-destructive act this Parliament could perform.
Conversely, a defeat of the JHU bill will enable Sri Lanka to put the stigma of majoritarian extremism behind it. Such a victory will be the necessary complement of the military victory of May 18th 2009 and the diplomatic victory of May 27-28, 2009.  Having militarily defeated the secessionist minoritarian fascism of the LTTE, Sri Lanka has a chance to defeat majoritarian extremism of the JHU-NFF-BBS politically.
In the run-up to the parliamentary battle, is a dual debate in Sri Lankan politics. The Sinhala polity is divided between on the one hand, those who wish to abolish the 13th amendment or delete land and police powers from it and on the other, those who see fit to proceed, however reluctantly, with elections to the Northern Provincial Council without attempting any drastic truncation of the powers devolved upon it. The Tamil polity is divided between, on the one hand, those who are keen to contest the Northern PC election and regard the 13th amendment as worthy of defence, and on the other, those who regard the 13th amendment as hardly worth the paper it is written on.
What is missing in the picture is any drawing together and mutual reinforcement between the moderates or pragmatists on both sides of the ethnic divide who defend, however reluctantly, the provincial council and the prospect of elections to it in September.
What is also missing is the engagement of the intelligentsia, especially civil society intelligentsia, in either supporting the Sinhala moderates in this important battle or in building a bridge between the Sinhala and Tamil moderates in defence of the existing system of devolution of power to the provinces.
The lack of a structured dialogue between the Sinhala and Tamil parliamentary moderates across Government and Opposition lines, deprives each other of vital support and partnership.
That, taken together with the absence of engagement in the ongoing battle by the intelligentsia prevents the construction or reconstitution of a zone of moderate opinion in polity and society.
The battle over the 13th amendment provides an enormous opportunity in the battle of ideas, because the arguments adduced in favour of abolition or gutting are symptomatic of the most retrogressive notions within our society ranging from the conservative to the militarist, the neoconservative to the racist. Grappling with and combating these ideas provides a fine opportunity for asserting the values of reason, democracy and pluralism.
Why then isn’t the battle being joined? The answer is political and ideological sectarianism. There are important precedents. When SWRD Bandaranaike was striving to defend the pact with Chelvanayakam, the powerful, union-based left was absent from the fray. Had it thrown its weight behind SWRD, the history of this country may have been significantly different and better.
Contemporary sectarianism takes two forms. The first is that the 13th amendment doesn’t deserve defending because the Tamil people need and deserve something considerably beyond it. The second is that the hole is on Mahinda Rajapaksa’s side of the boat, or that he is patently insincere and merely playing ‘good cop’ to the far right’s ‘bad cop’.
The first argument is easily dispensed with. The TNA should contest the election even if the council is gutted of most of its powers, just as one should not abandon even the skeleton of a house that is one’s patrimony simply because someone has made off with its roof.
The second argument, even if true is irrelevant. The opportunity for a politico-ideological battle against neo-conservatism, racism and ethno-religious fascism is far too important to be contingent upon a reading of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s politics, let alone speculation about his psyche.
The JHU’s counter-reform bill constitutes a classic ‘wedge issue’. Resistance provides the only opportunity that has arisen in years, for the SLFP parliamentary group to defeat the parties of the extremist fringe which have ideologically dominated the UPFA administration and distorted its discourse.
The battle to defeat the JHU-NFF-BBS attack on provincial devolution is thus utterly decisive. Against such a backdrop, only an aficionado of black humour would appreciate as I do, an invitation I received in the mail for a conclave at which the best and the brightest of Sri Lanka’s cosmopolitan intelligentsia are scheduled to discuss and debate such exquisite irrelevancies as “Ethical Reconstruction: Primitive Accumulation in the Apparel Sector?”, “Philanthrocapitalism, Philanthronationalism: the ethics of corporate gifts in post-conflict Sri Lanka” and “On Heterophobic and Heterophilic Casteism and anti-Casteism”. Where the topic is relevant, such as “Diplomacy at the UN Human Rights Council”, the sole designated presenter is Yolanda Foster of Amnesty International (which exclusivity is no fault of either Ms Foster or AI).
No Gramscian ‘organic intellectual’ stuff or words for a Modern Prince, here. If these are the good guys and gals and this is their discourse, no wonder the bad guys are way ahead: they have the advantage of being organic and sounding ‘national popular’.
If the bad guys win, the centre of gravity of Sri Lankan politics and society will shift still further to the right. It may even impact upon the choice of candidacy. If the neo-con project with its totalitarian notion of national security succeeds, the present dispensation will appear in a roseate afterglow as an era of tolerance and democracy.

Racial And Religious Hatred That Leads To Tragic Consequences

Colombo Telegraph
By Shanie -June 1, 2013 
They had nothing to say to each other, thirty
children in a camp.
Plucked like hard green mangoes, sharp with the tang
Bishop Duleep de Chickera, the former Anglican Bnshop
of distrust; and deposited,
sweating nervous mango-milk,
into a single gunny bag-

not knowing what to expect-

But fear, of course- that was always expected,
They had been taught to expect it from their mother’s lap.
So they held their faces carefully blank, as taught;
expressionless- behind still masks
sullen suspicion lurking. Always on their guard,
what was coming next?

No solution under a unitary state: TNA

FRIDAY, 31 MAY 2013 
The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) does not believe in a power sharing arrangement under a unitary state, TNA MP Mavai Senathirajah said yesterday.

“Under a unitary rule, it is not possible to find solutions to the national question,” he told a news conference held at the Jaffna Press Institute. “Power sharing under a unitary system is questionable in today’s context of domination by Buddhist extremists.”

Mr. Senathirajah said the United National Party (UNP) had released a copy of a draft constitution for a unitary system of governance. He said Mr. Sumanthiran was reported to have accepted it but that was his own personal view.

“The TNA will meet shortly and announce its official stance with regard to the UNP-proposed draft constitution,” Mr. Senathirajah said. “We submitted a proposal regarding a power sharing arrangement about a year ago but up to now we have had no response from the Government.”

He said if war displaced people were to be resettled it was imperative for the Army to vacate the lands belonging to the Tamils.

“Government is telling the international community that the war displaced people have been fully resettled. I reject this statement. More than 100,000 people are living with relatives, friends or in welfare camps and are still to be resettled,” Mr. Senathirajah said. “More than 80,000 refugees are living in India. We are requesting the Indian government to guarantee their resettlement in their own lands.”

Mr. Senathirajah said the Tamils were badly affected by the long drawn war and now we have to struggle against the government, which is intent on wiping out the Tamils. (S. K. Prasath and Sumithy Thanagarasa)

A jumbo-sized promise


The UNP has unveiled its draft proposal for a new Constitution. Some of the main features thereof released to the media are salutary but, overall, it has chosen to leave much unsaid and, in the process, left room for ambivalence, ambiguity and polysemy.

Having blown hot and cold on the question of presidential powers, it now says the executive presidency should be abolished, but adds in the same breath that the executive powers currently vested with that institution will be divided among the Head of State (to be elected), the Prime Minister and the Speaker’s Council. This means the Head of State won’t be without executive powers.

In the event of the Prime Minister and the Head of State being elected from two different parties, there may arise a situation where they do not cooperate as we saw from 2001 to 2004 with a PM from the UNP-led United National Front (UNF) and a President from the SLFP-led People’s Alliance (PA).

The UNP’s position on devolution remains highly ambiguous. It says Sri Lanka shall remain a unitary state or, in other words, has ruled out a federal solution. Power shall be devolved to Provincial Units, but the draft proposal does not mention the degree of devolution. It, in our book, only obfuscates the issue by referring to communiqués between the UNSG and Sri Lankan government, Tissa Vitharana report etc. Interestingly, the UNP says: "The member who commands the majority of a Provincial Council shall be appointed as the Chief Minister and the Leader of the political party which has secured the next highest number of seats shall be appointed as the Deputy Chief Minister." This arrangement may look good on paper but its practicability is in doubt.

Is it that the UNP has found the Supreme Court wanting in some respects? Else, it would not have proposed the establishment of a Constitutional Court (CC) to interpret the Constitution, examine the constitutionality or otherwise of Bills and hear and determine election petitions. The CC will also have the powers to investigate charges against judges of the superior courts in the event of attempts to impeach them. But, what would happen in case of such charges being brought against the head of the CC? Will he or she be allowed to remain at the helm pending the probe thus leaving room for interference?

The proposed Council of State (CS) consisting of the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, leaders of the political parties represented in Parliament and the Chief Ministers of the Provinces to ‘decide on all political directions and national priorities’ with the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of Ministers legally bound to implement its decisions has all the trappings of a flight of fancy. This is a country where the two main parties did not cooperate even on the country’s war on terror or tsunami recovery programmes. So, it is only wishful thinking that the CS will work.

As for electoral reforms, the UNP is for a mixed system where representatives are elected on both first-past-the-post and Proportional Representation systems. It says Parliament shall consist of 225 members. But, if the German Model is adopted, the number of parliamentarians is likely to vary slightly at times and this is an area where the UNP should do some more research. The proposal to do away with the preferential voting or manape system may go down well with the public as it is widely considered the mother of all clashes. (However, if a future government could ensure that the country is ruled according to the tenets of Buddhism as the UNP promises, then the preferential vote will cease to be a problem!)

Measures proposed to ensure good governance such as the setting up of independent commissions are salutary. What is of special interest is the proposed anti-corruption law to tackle bribery and corruption in the private sector. "Anti-Corruption Agency law shall include Bribery and Corruption in the private sector and shall apply retrospectively." This has been a long felt need. But, doesn’t it go against the grain to make any law apply retrospectively? While praising the UNP for having realised the need to combat malpractices in the private sector which has become the engine of corruption, one may ask whether it will deal with its senior members responsible for mega corrupt deals declared null and void by the Supreme Court itself such as the illegal sale of Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation and the Lanka Marine Services property during the UNP-led UNF government (2001-2004).

The UNP’s draft proposal, we are afraid, reminds us of the promises political parties and their leaders made in the past while striving to capture power. J. R. Jayewardene promised to create a righteous society; R. Premadasa undertook to eradicate poverty; Chandrika Kumaratunga pledged to rid the country of bribery, corruption and political violence and Mahinda Rajapaksa vowed to abolish the executive presidency. But, we are where we are today because all of them heeded Machiavelli’s advice after being ensconced in power: "The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present."

The existing Constitution is the UNP’s own creation and among those who voted for its passage in 1978 were some of the present-day UNP bigwigs including the incumbent party leader. We thought they had no problem with their own Constitution but only took exception to the 18th Amendment which was passed without their concurrence. Will they explain why they want the JRJ Constitution scrapped now? If their vote face is due to any draconian provisions therein will they tell us why they did not campaign for the abolition of those features when their party had a five-sixth majority in Parliament?