Archive for June 5th, 2006


Is it at all possible to restructure the Sinhala state?: Opinion

June 5, 2006

By: Dr. S Sathananthan

What is the political implication of a full-fledged armed conflict between the Tamil National Movement and the Sinhala state? It means above all the movement’s cutting edge, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has decisively broken the Sinhala state’s monopoly of armed power. The state launched several military campaigns from 1979 onwards to annihilate LTTE’s armed forces and turn the clock back. In this military power struggle the state dismally failed to re-establish its monopoly control of the instruments of force. This is underlined by the movement’s control of most of the territory within the majority Tamil-speaking North East Province (NEP) where the state’s authority simply does not run.

The Sinhala state complemented its military operations with key political manoeuvres – ranging from multi-party conferences to direct ‘talks’ with the LTTE – lumped together as the so-called ‘peace process.’ The ‘peace process’ is the power struggle in the political arena. Here the state makes two important tactical moves. First, it feints interest in formulating a political solution to the armed conflict; second, it projects the LTTE as the principal obstacle to a negotiated settlement.

The state and its backers, the Co-chairs (US, Norway, EU and Japan) of the Sri Lanka Donor Consortium, have strained every nerve to inveigle the Tamil people to swallow these two canards. That, they calculated, would undermine Tamils’ support for the LTTE-led armed resistance and politically emasculate the organisation; then, the plot goes, they could corner and compel the LTTE to decommission weapons.

What is the alternative path to a negotiated settlement from the Tamil perspective?

President Mahinda Rajapkse should honour the commitment made at the February 2006 Geneva talks. Then he could begin genuine negotiations with the LTTE, based on the agreement reached at the December 2002 Oslo talks, towards “a solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka.” The stages of implementation of a solution by the state would be linked to phased decommissioning of weapons by the LTTE. That procedure was followed with respect to the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord and is the only humane and non-violent path to peace.

What alternative do the Sinhala peaceniks who profess liberalism offer?

They have a fascinating take on the state’s attempts to blunt LTTE’s military capacity. Their assertions go something like this:

1. Sinhala polity feels threatened by the LTTE’s military power.

2. Sinhala extremism feeds and grows on this threat and opposes any political solution.

3. If the Sinhala state decimates LTTE’s military power, two things will happen. First, the threat level from the LTTE would quickly subside. Second, Rajapakse will secure cast iron credentials as an indisputable Sinhala warrior and win the unqualified trust of the Sinhala people.

4. Starved of the threat perception, soon Sinhala extremism would rapidly wither away.

5. With the Sinhala nation solidly behind him and Sinhala extremists too weak to oppose him, Rajapakse would be emboldened to push through constitutional reforms to end the armed conflict.

6. Rajapakse – no doubt ably assisted by Sinhala peaceniks – could then begin to demilitarise society and usher in liberal democracy.

Cul de sac of Sinhala liberalism

The above scenario with the apparent happy ending is underpinned by three key assumptions.

The first assumption – which puts the cart before the horse – is that Sinhala extremism is largely a response to, and is conditioned by, the perceived threat posed by the armed power of the LTTE-led Tamil National Movement. However, that is refuted by recent history. The LTTE arrived on the political stage in 1974; Sinhala extremism surfaced long before.

The organisation was not around when Sinhala Prime Minister D. S. Senanayake disenfranchised Up-Country or Kandyan Tamils in 1948, when Sinhala Prime Minister S. W. R. D. Bandaranike fuelled Sinhala chauvinism by legislating Sinhala the sole official language in 1956; or when Sinhala politician J. R. Jayewardene invigorated Sinhala extremists on the infamous anti-Tamil Kandy march a couple of years later; and the then non-existent LTTE could not possibly have provoked the 1958 pogrom or the subsequent state terrorism and ethnic cleansing of Tamils in the south through the 1960s; and the organisation simply cannot have catalysed the 1972 Constitution, in which the Sinhala oligarchy enshrined and institutionalised Sinhala-Buddhist extremism by declaring Buddhism as the virtual state religion. In short, Sinhala society brought forth, nurtured and strengthened its own extremists independent of and prior to the LTTE. The LTTE emerged later as the inevitable armed Tamil response to Sinhala extremism and state terrorism.

The second and utterly bizarre assumption is that Rajapakse should go to war, and kill, maim and rape Tamil civilians in the NEP, to prove his loyalty to the Sinhala nation. Some casually explain away the death and destruction Tamils would suffer, though regrettable, as ‘acceptable’ in the lofty search for peace. ‘Acceptable’ to whom?

The third one is that Rajapakse is a ‘moderate,’ unlike most chauvinist politicians in his government. His image promoted by the peaceniks is one in which he is walking a political tightrope between the LTTE on the one side and Sinhala extremist parties on the other. After the LTTE is vanquished, it is claimed he would marginalise the Sinhala extremists and voluntarily promote a political settlement out of sheer altruism.

The scenario and its assumptions are not new. Sinhala peaceniks had used almost identical arguments to support President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s ‘war for peace’ in 1995. ‘Moderate’ Kumaratunga – after all, they asserted, she is a ‘woman and a mother’ – was ‘compelled’ to ‘take’ Jaffna to strengthen her hand against Sinhala extremists so that she could confidently go ahead and formulate a political solution. Immediately after the so-called ‘fall’ of Jaffna city in December a prominent Sinhala peacenik, attached to a well-known ‘peace’ council in Colombo, took immense pride in the NGOs’ war contribution. In fact he demanded “the human rights NGOs have to be given their share of ‘credit’ for the governmental victory in Jaffna” (The Island, 10/dec/95); and, one may add, for the unprecedented humanitarian tragedy – including disappearances and mass graves – that later unfolded in the Jaffna peninsula.

And what are the contours of Rajapakse’s sought after political solution?

After militarily defeating the LTTE, his second step is to dismantle the de facto Tamil state covering most of the NEP that took root under the protective umbrella of LTTE’s armed forces. Otherwise, peaceniks helpfully explained, the Sinhala people regretfully would not support the president, and Sinhala extremism will resurge. Once the de facto Tamil state is out of the way then, they insisted, Rajapakse could begin the ‘historic’ task of ‘restructuring’ the state.

Restructuring the state

Lately some Sinhala peaceniks allege that through ‘talks’ it is possible to politically ‘restructure’ the unitary state, to facilitate ‘democratisation,’ ‘power-sharing,’ ‘pluralism,’ ‘inclusiveness’ and so on. As usual they are dangling the succulent political bait in front of war-ravaged Tamils while being deliberately vague about the exact contours of this restructuring.

Tamils raised the obvious practical issue. Is it at all possible to restructure the Sinhala state?

It is not an accident that the Sinhala oligarchy centralised state power. The semi-feudalistic oligarchy, ignorant of liberalism, is made up of a motley crowd of plantation owners, export-import merchants, arrack tavern owners many of whom masquerade as parliamentarians, casino operators and their underworld enforcers, Buddhist monks trapped in medieval mindsets, and so on. Centralisation of power is the oligarchy’s logical response to contain challenges to its rule.

From the mid-1950s class contradictions and caste antagonisms in Sinhala society deepened in direct relation to the decline of the moribund colonial plantation economy. These social forces dramatically crystallised in the 1971 insurrection by the Sinhala-extremist Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP). The oligarchy brutally put down the rebellion, slaughtering an estimated 20,000 Sinhala men and women, and almost immediately paid attention to transforming the largely ceremonial army into a professional military machine rather than indigenous economic development.

On the political front, the 1972 Republican Constitution entrenched the primacy of Sinhala-Buddhists and fortified the unitary state. The Sinhala oligarchy created the executive presidency under the 1978 Constitution and further centralised power in that office. It strove to neutralise the traditional threat to its power from within Sinhala society and to eliminate the new one posed by the emerging armed Tamil National Movement in the NEP.

The class contradictions and caste antagonisms intensified over the next two decades. Economic ‘liberalisation’ imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the late 1970s and through the 1980s widened economic disparities and caused further social dislocations. Sinhala working class organisations rose up in protest in the south and culminated in the second JVP uprising in 1988/89.The oligarchy armed the state with a cluster of repressive legislation and ruthlessly eliminated an estimated 60,000 Sinhala men and women to crush the uprising. The oligarchy also rapidly militarised the state. It Sinhalised the armed forces and bureaucracy and enacted the 1979 Prevention of Terrorism Act, under cover of which it unleashed widespread state terror against the Tamil people. But it could not arrest the fast-growing armed power of the LTTE-led Tamil National Movement.

Far from abating, precipitous economic decline and the maturing Tamil National Question energised the opponents in the 1990s. The politically bankrupt Sinhala oligarchy did what it does best; it expanded, strengthened and further empowered the armed forces.

The result is the military-bureaucratic unitary state, loosely described in Sri Lanka as the ‘national-security state.’ The economic and political conditions are infinitely worse today and continue to deteriorate with each passing day. Incapable of formulating effective economic programmes, the oligarchy is driven to further centralise power; and it crucially relies on the authoritarian state to protect its interests and power in an increasingly hostile environment.

Democratic restructuring would reverse the trend, weaken the oligarchy’s direct hold on power and make it more vulnerable to opposition within the Sinhala polity and to the Tamil armed resistance. Not surprisingly the oligarchy is extremely wary of such reforms. In fact, it has implacably opposed democratisation tooth and nail from 1971 to the present.

In short, there is no scope at all for a positive restructuring of the state. The oligarchy will continue to centralise power. The next probable step is the draconian Patriot law that is being dredged up by Rajapakse’s government.

The utopian musing of the handful of Sinhala liberals about restructuring to facilitate devolution of power imputes a non-existent democratic potential to the military-bureaucratic state; by extension it also masks the state’s grotesque authoritarianism. At the very least that is dangerously misleading.

Source: Northeastern Monthly – June 2006


Toddy-starved Jayantha Gnanakone suffers mental aberrations

June 5, 2006

Catapult Thangavelu on the Kappang Highway

Jayantha Gnanakone has returned from his Galapagos exile rather prematurely because he is concerned Eelam is going to be divided into three parts, one for the USA, the other for the European Union and India will take the lion share. The north and east has such resources as oil, gas, mineral sands and of course there are the Palaly airport and Trincomalee harbour and these powerful nations on earth are now totally focused on Sri Lanka. In Galapagos he was counting tortoises.

Talking to local pressman in his home in the US, Jayantha Gnanakone said: “LTTE has never been, nor ever will be a terrorist organization and a threat to the other nations except for Sri Lanka. Even the Rajiv Gandhi incident even if it was the LTTE being responsible, is related to an internal matter of 10,000 Indian troops raping and killing in the north and east for several years.

And he goes on and on like a little boy who has lost his marbles; and this is not for the first time he lost his marbles. He has been doing this for so long that even his family has now got in touch with Zoo-Paa for the services of Chief Uluththankali, the African witch doctor from the Republic of Chad for his services.

Evidently this witch doctor has done a great job with Zoo-Paa because he was able to take flight to Oslo under the pretext of talking something there but mainly to bring back to the Wanni Bandit Zone some weapons of destruction. It appears the Colombo customs will not check his baggage on his return.

Chief Uluththankali, however, has stated that Jayantha Gnanakone suffers a certain illness that surfaces only periodically and is classified as “Kumblichan Kumblikoodu” which in an African tongue means “Random aberrations” caused by a tongue that twists and turns much more than for a normal person. The chief indicated regrettably that this is beyond cure and generally it is hereditary.

Chief Uluththankali said it could be controlled to some extent by a certain food that involves eating three times a day a pasty mix of semi-roasted black gram flour mixed with coconut milk. He should not eat anything else. He also felt sorry for Jayantha Gnanakone for his inability to help him for the extreme nature of his condition is unique medical science. He said: “If it is beyond African traditional medicine, then there is no chance for a cure anywhere.”

In the meantime, Jayantha Gnanakone unable to control his tongue has predicted that a sleeping giant is going to wake up and give a thundering clout to President Mahinda Rajapakse. The sleeping giant is the size of one million people of the Tamil Diaspora put together and only just a few parts of this monster are non-functional.

Random aberrations cause all sorts of illusions and delusions and in the case of Jayantha Gnanakone, George Washington has come back to earth and is residing in a hole in Wanni waiting for an opportune moment to drive all the people of Sri Lanka opposed to his line of thinking – that is Jayantha Gnanakone’s – into the Indian Ocean at somewhere near Tissamaharama. It is only then Sri Lanka will be fit for habitation for the Gnanakone family returning from wherever they are now widely scattered and obviously where they feel uncomfortable and starved for all the goodies that they were used to before they fled the country for fear of their lives from the Tamil Tigers.

They never liked Tamil and they never liked the Tigers. But they loved the palmyrah toddy and all the delicacies that went with it under the palmyrah palm.

A wise man once said that milk served in an unclean cup makes it unfit for human consumption.



June 5, 2006

LTTE Fire At Troops Repulsed

JAFFNA: SUNDAY (04) around 12.15 p.m. troops at NAVAKKULI junction, JAFFNA were fired upon by LTTE however LTTE attackers withdrew when troops began retaliation.
Later, troops recovered two T-56 magazines, 27 ammunition and 07 electric detonators left behind by fleeing terrorists.
Again around 1.00 p.m. troops conducted a search in UDUVIL area JAFFNA on information received from civilians.
During the search troops recovered one T-56 weapon, two magazines, 56 ammunition and two hand grenades from the area.

Soldier Injured In LTTE Hand Grenade Attack Dies At Hospital

COLOMBO: SOLDIER WHO WAS ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL after being injured in LTTE hand grenade explosion Saturday (03) at BMC junction, MANNAR succumbed to injuries at the COLOMBO National Hospital today (04) early morning.
The victim, Private B.A.D.U.N. DE SILVA from BADULLA was on duty at the time he sustained injuries in LTTE hand grenade explosion.
(See Situation Report 03 June 2006)

Youth Escapes LTTE Detention & Surrenders To Police

AMPARA: A 21 YEAR OLD YOUTH who escaped LTTE detention has surrendered to the POTHUVIL Police station for protection Saturday (03) around 5.30 p.m..
He had been abducted from THIRUKKOVIL area on 21 March by the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) and taken to un-cleared areas for conscription.
Later he had been detained at a place near KACHCHIKUDIYARU LTTE camp where Tamil Tigers chained and tortured him after he refused to comply the LTTE demand.
However, on 28 May the victim has managed to escape from the LTTE and reached the Police Saturday (03).
He has further told that there are 13 more persons chained by the LTTE since they have rejected to join the organization.
The SLMM was informed.
The Police investigations are on.
(Name and particulars of the surrendee are withheld for questions of Human Rights and obvious security reason)

Civilians Refused To Pay Ransom To LTTE Killed

BATTICALOA: LTTE TERRORISTS gunned down two civilians at KALUWANKERNI, BATTICALOA Saturday (03) around 9.10 p.m..
Investigations revealed that the two victims, E.SITTARAVEL (42) and NALLIAH WIMALENDRAN, were killed by LTTE since they refused paying ransom to LTTE when they were in un-cleared areas.
The SLMM was informed.

LTTE’s Illegal Timber Business revealed

BATTICALOA: ON INFORMATION RECEIVED FROM CIVILIANS, troops with the assistance of Police arrested two tractor loads of timber that were being illegally transported today (04) early morning at VANDAMAOOLAI, BATTICALOA.
Six suspects traveling in tractors were also arrested.
LTTE has been engaged in the lucrative business of felling huge trees for timber in un-cleared areas, according to the arrested persons.

Six Prisoners Escape Prison

BATTICALOA: SIX PRISONERS INCLUDING TWO LTTE CADRES escaped from the prison today (04) around 7.10 a.m..
An immediate search is being carried out to net the escapee.
Investigations into incident are under way.

LTTE Kill Bus Depot Security Officer

BATTICALOA: TWO MOTORBIKE-RIDING LTTE GUNMEN shot and killed the security guard of the VALAICHCHENAI Sri Lanka Transport Board (SLTB) depot Saturday (03) evening around 8.00 p.m..
Tamil Tigers who had gone there for some undisclosed purposes became angry when they were refused entry into the bus depot premises and wanted to enter by force.
When the security guard, VAIDYALINGAM MUJEEWARAN (26), resisted, Tamil Tigers shot him dead on the spot.
Another civilian, SIDAMBARAM MOKULAN (20), who was at the place of the incident at that time received injuries and was admitted to hospital.
The SLMM was informed.
Police investigations are on. 


A martyr Sri Lanka has forgotten

June 5, 2006

Fifty nine years ago June 5, 1947, eight months before Sri Lanka became independent as a dominion from the status of a crown colony of the British colonial empire, a young man from Vaddukoddai, NP fell dead, a martyred victim of state terror.

He was Velupillai Kandasamy, a gentle peace-loving young man, the bread-winner for his family of elderly parents, a brother and five sisters. His crime was to have demonstrated along with hundreds of his colleagues for better terms and conditions for the workers of the General Clerical Services. He was at that time employed in the Department of Medical and Sanitary Services.

While the demonstrators led by their union leaders were marching with slogans demanding certain rights that they considered appropriate, the police were ordered to break up the strike if necessary by force. And the police opened fire killing an amiable and friendly young man who had like hundreds of Tamils sought employment away from their province.

This was their plight because all development was highly centralized in Colombo. It was a time of White Hall being the masters and the local leaders were highly tuned to British interests and served them as their “obedient servants.”

Kandasamy became the first Sri Lankan martyr of recent times. The whole country was appalled by his killing and the various unions reacted by erecting a memorial monument to him near the Fort Railway Station in Colombo. And June 5 was declared a national event to be remembered with gratitude and was called Kandasamy Day.

Velupillai Kandasamy is now among the forgotten martyrs and even his monument was destroyed by racist hooligans and thugs during the anti-Tamil riots of 1958.

It is a pity no government had thought it fit not even the government in which Dr N M Perera, Dr Colvin R de Silva and Leslie Goonewardene were ministers had thought it fit to appropriately commemorate this day; not even a stamp was published in he memory of this martyr. It should be noted that one of his striking colleagues, T B Illangaratne became a minister and served in the Bandaranaike cabinets for several years. -By Satchi Sithananthan


Tigers continue their killings

June 5, 2006

Several minor incidents were reported yesterday in North and East including recovery of weapons and ammunition by the security forces.

A group of army road patrol units came under LTTE small arms firing at Navakkuli in Jaffna around 12.15pm yesterday.

No casualties were reported though army retaliated when the armed terrorists attacked. They eventually fled the area. The soldiers have found two T-56 magazines, 27 ammunition and seven detonators belonging to the cadres.

Meanwhile in Uduwil, Jaffna the security forces recovered a T-56 rifle and two magazines, ammunition and a hand grenade yesterday morning. The weapons belonging to the suspected LTTE cadres were recovered on a tip off from a civilian.

On Saturday the rebels had shot dead two civilians in Kaluwankarni in Batticaloa for allegedly not paying extortion money to the Tigers in the uncleared areas. The victims have been identified as E Sittarawel (42) and Nallaiya Wimalendran (32). Walachcheni police have reported the incident to SLMM.

Two armed cadres of the LTTE pistol gang gunned down a security guard attached to the Walachcheni Bus Depot on Saturday around 8.30pm. The victim identified as Vaidyalingam Mujeewaram (26) was killed on the spot while a bystander was also injured and had been rushed to hospital.

A 21-year-old male youth who escaped from LTTE camp in Kachchikudiaru had surrendered to Pothuvil police on Saturday. The victim who had been abducted in Tirukkovil area had fled the camp on last 28.

Two tractors transporting millions of worth timber transferring from a rebel governed area in Wanadarmulla, Batticaloa was taken into custody at a police roadblock yesterday early hours.

The transporters had revealed that the LTTE backed business had been carried out for a longtime and had earned millions of rupees.  -By Kurulu Kariyakarawana


Visiting British navy chief takes Dvora- ride, sees Tiger-held Sampoor

June 5, 2006

The visiting Chief of Naval Staff of Great Britain Admiral Sir Jonathan Band Saturday evening met President Mahinda Rajapakse, at Temple Trees, after an unprecedented visit to the Trincomalee Navy base, where he boarded an Israeli-built Dvora Fast Atack Craft (P 474) to tour the inner and outer harbour. The British Navy chief had a glimpse of LTTE held Sampoor coast, the scene of on and off confrontations between the navy and the Sea Tigers, a military official said.

Sir Band, on a high profile four-day visit, is believed to have commended the young commanding officers of fighting vessels for their exceptional performances under difficult conditions during his visit to the base, the nerve centre of naval operations in the northern and eastern waters.

Admiral Band Sunday travelled to Kandy by train to pay homage at Dalada Maligawa.

On Friday Admiral Band addressed a group of Navy officers, from the South Asian region, who had completed a British funded course on International Humanitarian and Maritime law.

"All of us fight against terrorism and it is the same challenges we all face. These are the sort of challenges that we face now and are likely to represent an even greater challenge in the future," he said.

"Globalisation is now a fundamental part of the way that we do business and its continued operation is absolutely vital to the economies of just about every country. Interrupt the free movement of products and raw materials as a result of regional conflict, terrorist attacks or conflicts over resources and the global economy will be hit hard," he added.

"So it is in all of our interests to work together as nations to strengthen international peace and stability with our Armed Forces alongside other agencies, collectively acting as a force for good around the world," Admiral Band said.

"We need an international system based on the rule of law which is better able to resolve disputes and prevent conflicts and we need to work together more closely to achieve effective and secure regional neighborhoods," he said.

The week long course was designed to highlight the role of law and to emphasize the necessity of regional cooperation in campaign planning at the operational level for joint operations and multi- national peace keeping operations.

"It is difficult for any country to stand alone and be self sufficient…even for a developed nation like the UK," he said in his address. (SF)