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Thirty Sixth Birth Anniversary of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Hello Friends

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which determined the course of Sri Lankan politics for more than two decades is no more a functional entity today. The LTTE would have celebrated its 36th birth anniversary on May 5th if it was an active organization now.

Adverse developments on the war front in Northern Sri Lanka leading to the military debacle at Mullivaaikkaal in Mullaitheevu district in May 2009 have brought about an end to the tigers in Sri Lanka. This has caused bewilderment and disappointment to many supporters and sympathisers of the LTTE.

There were many who thought that the LTTE was going to defeat the Sri Lankan armed forces conclusively and deliver an Independent state of Tamil Eelam on a platter.

They were willing to overlook, gloss over, ignore or blatantly deny the various human rights violations perpetrated by the LTTE because they thought these were necessary evils on the path to liberation.
Anyone expressing criticism however constructive it may be was slandered and condemned as a traitor.

Even when it was pointed out that the course of action followed by the LTTE would not succeed and that decisive defeat was on the cards, such advice was rejected and spurned by the tigers and their fellow travellers.

The dominance of militarist thought within tiger circles and the belief that military victory was the only solution made them disregard well-intentioned advice

I have personally experienced cruel and degrading treatment at the hands of the LTTE and their acolytes for daring to warn the tigers that they were not going to succeed in achieving their professed goal.
I have on many occasions pointed out some grave errors made by the tigers and urged an immediate course correction.

What I wanted was for the LTTE to transform itself but this was unacceptable to those living in a world of self-delusion.

When the LTTE observed its 32nd anniversary on May 5th 2008 I wrote an article in “The Bottom Line” of May 7th 2008 outlining the progress of the tigers and implored the LTTE to abandon its impossible dream of Tamil Eelam in the larger interests of the Tamil people.

The article headed “LTTE AT 32: Whither The LTTE”? was welcomed by many readers who sent me a lot of positive e-mails.

At the same time tiger and pro-tiger elements sent a great deal of derogatory mail saying that military victory was on the cards and that Tamil Eelam was inevitable.

Subsequently I reproduced the same article on my blog on January 19th 2009 under the heading”Whither the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam”?.There were 125 comments released.

The tigers then suffering military reversals were retreating while the armed forces enjoying military successes were advancing.

By this time the writing was on the wall and the tone and tenor of many comments reflected that mood. Of course there was harsh criticism from some die-hard tiger supporters.

Barely four months later it was all over and Veluppillai Prabhakaran was lying dead on the banks of Nandhikkadal lagoon.

This marked the effective demise of the Tamil Armed struggle that led to countless deaths, immeasurable destruction and massive displacement.

Today the battered and shattered Sri Lankan Tamils reduced in numbers to being the fourth largest ethnicity in the Island are slowly struggling to pick up the pieces and get on with life.

Deep down most responsibly thinking Tamils know that life will never be the same again.

Today, many of those who criticised me bitterly then are confused and stunned by this turn of events.

I have been surprised by the volume of private e-mails I receive from readers about the current situation.

Some have pointedly referred to my earlier articles in “The Bottom Line” and “dbsjeyaraj.com” blog and remark that the wisdom of hindsight has altered their earlier perspective.

Prabhakaran and the LTTE who had the power and capability to bring about a satisfactory termination of the Tamil national question failed and in the final analysis betrayed the Tamil people.

I myself experience feelings of sorrow as I sometimes reflect on the “ what might have been “had the LTTE had gone into negotiations in good faith and evolved a negotiated settlement with Colombo that ensured Tamil equality within a united Sri Lanka

Currently the Tamil people bereft of pragmatic, unselfish leadership run about crazily like headless chickens mouthing empty rhetoric and engaging in quixotic exercises that are doomed to fail in the long run.

I know that the sadness I suffer will not go away until I die! It will only increase incrementally as I witness the Tamil people steadily declining and diminishing in Sri Lanka

But then I console myself philosophically and hark back to the memorable verse of Omar Khayyam in the Rubaiyat translated into English by Sir Edward Fitzgerald.

“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it”

It is against this backdrop that I reproduce the article on the LTTE on its 36th birth anniversary.

I know it is pointless to talk of the past unless one is willing to learn lessons that would help to understand the present and anticipate the future.

My intention in posting it here again is to gauge the responses and reactions of serious readers to it. I do hope some pertinent comments would be forthcoming.

Here it is friends and please remember it was written in May 2008 when the LTTE was still a vibrant organization - DBSJ

THIRTY-SIXTH BIRTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM

by D.B.S. Jeyaraj

Thirty-two years ago, on May 5, 1976, around 40-50 Tamils met clandestinely at a secret location in the Jaffna peninsula and formed themselves into an organisation called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Umamaheswaran became its Leader. Prabhakaran was made Military Commander. A five-member committee was appointed to control and coordinate the new movement. Both Umamaheswaran and Prabhakaran were members of this committee.

Their objective was unambiguously clear. The LTTE goal was to establish an independent state called Tamil Eelam in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka . A revolutionary armed struggle relying on guerrilla warfare was to be waged against the Sinhala-dominated Sri Lankan state.

The beginning

Nine days later, on May 14, the newly-formed Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) passed a resolution at Vaddukkoddai demanding Tamil Eelam-a separate state for the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

In July 1977, the TULF contested the Parliamentary elections on a secessionist platform. The TULF said in its manifesto that the elections were a referendum and that votes for the party meant a mandate for Tamil Eelam.

The TULF swept the polls in the Tamil majority electorates of the north east, winning 18 seats. TULF General Secretary Appapillai Amirthalingam became Leader of the Opposition.

The goals of the TULF and LTTE were the same on paper. In practice, the relatively moderate TULF was prepared to compromise and eventually agreed to the District Development Councils as an alternative to Tamil Eelam.

The militant youths referred to as ‘Boys’ did not agree with this and continued to pursue their goal of Tamil Eelam through violent methods.

The anti-Tamil pogrom of July 1983 was a watershed that brought moderate and militant Tamils together temporarily.

Meanwhile, the LTTE split in two. A large number of members broke away under the leadership of Umamaheswaran and formed the People’s Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE). Some like Nagarajah, Aiyer, etc., went their own way.

Only a handful of the original LTTE members remained loyal to Prabhakaran. A frustrated Prabhakaran went away to India and stayed there for a while. In his absence, a triad comprising Seelan, Mahathaya and Ragu ‘managed’ the LTTE in Sri Lanka

At one point the LTTE, with its depleted ranks, began working together with the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) led by Thangathurai and Kuttimani.

There was a time when Prabhakaran wanted to merge the LTTE remnants under him with the TELO and form a new organisation. This, however, did not happen.

The arrests of TELO leaders Thangathurai, Kuttimani and Jegan by the Navy in 1981 brought an end to TELO-LTTE cooperation.

Fight for Tamil Eelam

The LTTE began functioning independently under Prabhakaran, who was both its Leader and Military Commander. Later Charles Anthony, alias Seelan, became Military Chief.

By July 1983, the LTTE cadre numbered 30. There were 23 fulltime members and seven part-timers. There were also many ‘helpers’ of all ages from different walks of life.

The LTTE killed 13 soldiers through a landmine at Thirunelvely on July 23, 1983. This resulted in the 1983 anti-Tamil violence. There was a spontaneous ‘rush’ by Tamil youths to join the militant movements and fight for Tamil Eelam. India began training and arming the movements.

The struggle for Tamil Eelam itself underwent many bizarre twists and peculiar turns. There was internecine warfare among the movements. The LTTE became the dominant Tamil group.

The Indo-Lanka Agreement of July 29, 1987 caused a sea change in Tamil politics. Except for the LTTE, all other Tamil parties and organisations accepted it and opted to give up the Tamil Eelam struggle and accept devolution provided under the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

The LTTE also agreed initially, surrendered some arms and even accepted a monthly payment of money from New Delhi as an ‘incentive’ in the early stages. The Tigers, however, changed track soon and resumed hostilities, daring to take on the Indian Army.

The past years have seen many rounds of peace talks between the LTTE and different governments in Colombo . None of them succeeded and the country suffers endless war interspersed with temporary spells of no war.

In the meantime, the LTTE has achieved tremendous ‘growth’ in certain aspects. The double-digit membership of 1983 is in five digits today. The LTTE is a transnational entity today with front organisations among the widespread Tamil diaspora.

From 1990, the LTTE has succeeded in keeping under its control sizeable parts of the north east. The area of this de facto state has fluctuated periodically.

Sphere of LTTE control

Tiger territory has increased and decreased according to the fortunes of war. Yet there has always been a sphere of LTTE control.

Within this LTTE area, the Tigers have set up structures like police stations, courts, inland revenue offices, TV, radio, film unit, newspapers, banks, immigration and emigration offices, business ventures, farms, etc. The Tigers have even drafted their own laws.

Militarily, the LTTE has grown. They have infantry brigades, women’s brigades, commando units and specialised divisions for laying mines, sniping, firing mortars and artillery, resisting tanks and armoured cars, etc.

The Tigers also have a naval wing known as Sea Tigers and a fledgling air wing called Air Tigers. The LTTE has many marine vessels and a limited number of small aircraft.

The LTTE also has an elaborate overseas network with the Tamil diaspora as its base. There are multiple media organs engaging in propaganda and myriad activists raising funds. The Tigers have the capacity to organise mass demonstrations at short notice in many Western cities.

The LTTE also runs many commercial enterprises in several countries both West and East. They also have a fleet of ships transporting arms acquired overseas to the north of Sri Lanka

In short, the LTTE’s growth in the past 25 years has been phenomenal. It is perhaps the only enterprise run ‘for, of and by’ the Tamil people in Sri Lanka that has registered a ‘success’ of this magnitude after July 1983.

Scorched earth policy

This successful growth has come at immense cost to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka . Vertically the LTTE may have gone up, but horizontally the Sri Lankan Tamils have gone down. This is the unpleasant and inconvenient truth that the LTTE and acolytes often deny and do not like to hear.

World War I was only four years long, from 1914 to 1918. World War II was six years, from 1939 to 1945. This war for Tamil Eelam has gone on for decades and decades with an intensity and ferocity that has debilitated the Tamil people immensely.

The Tamil areas have undergone a staggered ‘scorched earth policy,’ cunningly implemented in phases by different regimes. Death, injury, destruction, displacement, etc., are part of daily life.

Fishing has dwindled. Agriculture has diminished. Industry is virtually nonexistent. The economy has decayed and unemployment is rampant. Single parent families, widows, orphans, etc., are widely prevalent.

Education, the mainstay of Tamils, has suffered considerably. Many schools do not function. Hospitals are run down. People are displaced from their homes under the pretext of setting up security zones.

The quality of life has gone down. Infant mortality rates, malnutrition, stunted growth, etc., are areas where Tamils in the north east are affected more.

The social fabric of Tamil society is torn badly, cultural life is shrinking, values are being brutalised, and ethical codes are crumbling. These are the effects of long-term war on a small, powerless people.

Demographical impact

The worst impact has been on demography. Tamils have left the country in very large numbers. Equally large numbers have moved to areas outside the north and east. Only 42% of Sri Lankan Tamils are said to be living in the north east now.

Some years ago at a seminar in Colombo , retired Indian Judge V. Krishna Iyer stated that Tamils be given full autonomy. Former Central Bank Governor N.U. Jayewardena wrote to the newspapers in response

N.U. made three observations. Firstly, he said the Sri Lankan population would stabilise to zero growth in 2025. Secondly, he said that the high rates of Tamils leaving the country indicated that the Tamils would only be 1.9 % in 2025. Thirdly, he said that 1. 9% was a “manageable minority that need not be given autonomy.”

Thanks to comparatively higher educational standards and social problems like dowry, late marriages, aversion to female children, etc., the Tamil birth rate has been on the decline even before 1983.

Census figures of 1963, 1971 and 1981 show gradual decrease percentage wise. If a proper census is taken now, the Tamil population percentage would be much less. It may not be 1.9 % as N.U. said, but it could certainly be less than 5%.

The Tamils may have proved a point by taking up arms against the state dominated by the numerically larger Sinhala people. But ultimately, demography would defeat the Tamils.

The LTTE and its supporters often assert that a guerrilla movement fighting for the goal of national liberation cannot be defeated militarily. This may or may not be true but the point to be taken note of is something else.

If the prolonged armed struggle for Tamil Eelam is leading to a gradual decline of the Tamil population in Sri Lanka , then the ultimate losers will be the Tamils themselves.

A minority would be made a microscopic minority and therefore made easily manageable by the numerical majority.

It does not matter then whether the LTTE is defeated or not because the Tamils will be weakened quantitatively and qualitatively.

Numbers game

To put it bluntly, the so-called ‘Sinhala state’ need not win this war. All it has to do is prolong the war and sustain the pressure. The Tamils would be drastically reduced in numbers. This is already happening in the island. It is against this backdrop that the LTTE turned 32 on May 5.

Through the sacrifices and dedication of its cadre on the one hand and the ruthless violence and authoritative intolerance on the other hand, the LTTE has become the dominant politico-military force of the Sri Lankan Tamils today.

The Tigers have become the self-appointed sole representatives of the Tamil people. This columnist does not accept the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamils. Not merely the LTTE, but no entity on earth can claim to be the sole representatives of a nation or people.

The reality, however, is that the LTTE remains today the dominant entity among Sri Lankan Tamils. It is the single-most powerful non-state actor among Tamils.

Along with such power should come a sense of responsibility. As former British Premier Stanley Baldwin once observed, “Power without responsibility has been the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.”

The LTTE has been the determining force in Sri Lankan politics for many years. Tragically, the Tigers have been the sole arbiters of Tamil destiny in Sri Lanka

The LTTE asserts that creating Tamil Eelam is the only solution and that Tamils must suffer and sacrifice in order to achieve it.

According to Tiger acolytes, Velupillai Prabhakaran is the only Tamil leader steadfastly advocating the cause of Tamil Eelam. All others have abandoned it and are therefore traitors. But the multi-crore question is, at what cost?

The Bible queries whether it is worth gaining the whole world and yet losing one’s soul. There is a Tamil proverb, ‘Suvar irunthaal thaan sithiram varaiyalaam’ (one can draw a fresco only if a wall exists). Can Tamil Eelam be established in the island while the Tamil people reduce in number?

There is also the question of whether the LTTE can achieve Tamil Eelam. The real estate it controlled once has shrunk. Can it recapture these areas militarily?

Question of viability

The Tigers have alienated the Muslims living in the north and east and also the Sinhalese. In recent times, due to the Karuna revolt, a large number of eastern Tamils have spurned the quest for Tamil Eelam.

There is also the case of Tamils living outside the north east. Unless there is violence like in India during the time of partition, most of them would not like to return to Tamil Eelam.

The expatriate Tamils of an older generation may say emotionally that they would return but very few would actually do so.

As for the second generation, they are-as Prabhakaran himself once commented-a “lost generation” (tholainthu pona santhathi). At best they may come for extended vacations.

Apart from the desirability and attainability of Tamil Eelam, there is also the question of viability and the situation within Tamil Eelam if it materialises. Given the tenacity of the Sri Lankan state in resisting separation, there is little chance of Colombo accepting Tamil Eelam.

Assuming that Tamil Eelam comprises the present Northern and Eastern Provinces , the land and sea borders would be very long and large. There would be constant friction and strife.

Even if the Sinhala people accept Tamil Eelam, India would not. Thus India would move in quickly and crush it.

Given the current geo-strategic configuration, there is no chance that New Delhi would ever countenance an independent Tamil state in the Indian Ocean unless the Sinhala government does something incredibly stupid.

Even if that happens (highly unlikely) the Tamil areas of Sri Lanka may be attached to India as a union territory or protectorate. There would be no independent Tamil Eelam.

If and when Tamil Eelam evolves, notwithstanding these factors, the resources of the nascent state would be devoted mainly for military purposes. In a climate of war, very little foreign investment could be expected. The Tamil Eelam state will be an economic basket case.

The focus on national security will result in a negation of democracy, pluralism and human rights. All these would be denied under the pretext that an external enemy is at the gates.

The despotic rule of the LTTE in the regions under its control would be replicated on a much larger and institutionalised scale.

Even though the LTTE boasts about its parallel state administration, the reality is that food and fuel have to come from outside. Besides, the salaries and expenses of government employees, school teachers, medical staff, etc., are all being currently paid by Colombo .

Negative image

The LTTE may have made a name for itself through its armed struggle. But its strength is basically its destructive capacity and not constructive capability.

In recent times, the LTTE has acquired a negative image internationally. The conscription of child soldiers, suicide killer attacks and the adoption of terrorist modes at times have given it a terrible reputation.

Despite its impressive feats on the battlefront, the LTTE is isolated internationally. Some of the most powerful nations of the world, including the USA, India, Britain, Canada and the EU countries, have proscribed it as a terrorist organisation.

Significantly, the LTTE does not enjoy support on a large scale even among the Tamils of India. There is sympathy for the Tamil plight but very little regard for the LTTE. The support of Tiger sympathisers like Nedumaran, Vaiko, etc., is negligible.

It is in such a situation that the LTTE reaches 32 years in age. After decades of fighting that has debilitated and diminished the Tamil people, what are the concrete gains made by the LTTE in winning back the lost rights of the Tamil people?

Death, displacement and destruction have enveloped the Tamil areas for many years. Despite all this suffering and sorrow undergone by the Tamil people, what has the LTTE achieved in its perennial quest for Tamil Eelam?

Their redressing of valid Tamil grievances and the accommodation of legitimate Tamil aspirations is possible in two ways. One is through the arduous route of secession and the other is through equitable power sharing arrangements within a united but not necessarily unitary Sri Lanka

The LTTE, while paying lip service to the concept of a political solution, has sabotaged any worthwhile effort aimed at meaningful negotiations. It would have the Tamils believe that only Tamil Eelam can achieve results and that only the Tigers can quench this thirst for Tamil Eelam.

The truth, however, is that the LTTE has many, many miles to go before it can ever hope to attain Tamil Eelam. Even then the quest is elusive as the odds are stacked effectively against it.

It is like the search of a blind man for a black cat in a dark room. Only in this case, the cat is not there. Also, the Tamil people are made to pay a heavy price.

All or nothing gamble

Like a compulsive gambler, Prabhakaran has risked the entire existence of the Tamil people as a vibrant ethnicity in Sri Lanka for the elusive goal of Tamil Eelam. It is an all or nothing gamble for him.

He is like an invading military general who burns his boats so that his soldiers have no choice other than to fight on for victory or face death. There is no turning back. If the soldiers win the war, the general will be praised for his steely determination. If they lose, there won’t be anyone left to tell the tale.

Ultimately the success or failure of the LTTE cannot be gauged by the size of its military assets or the destruction and losses inflicted upon the enemy. The proper criteria is to see how far the LTTE has progressed on its journey towards Tamil Eelam.

In terms of a cost benefit ratio assessment, is the progress (if any) achieved commensurate to the heavy price being paid by the Tamil people?

The ultimate political destination of the Tamil people can only be the full restoration of lost rights. The important question is whether the LTTE is on the right track.

How long will the LTTE persist with its unrealistic quest for Tamil Eelam? How long must the powerless Tamil people suffer due to this protracted war?

It is time for the 32-year-old LTTE to do some soul-searching

91 Comments

  1. Safa says:

    Sad how a community has been misled by its leaders to fight a suicidal battle. It seems that the leaders had failed to grasp the realities and been hijacked by blind power and militarism. What could have been achieved through visionary and principled leadership has been lost.

    A lesson for all who advocate the use of violence and force. It is self defeating and cannot be sustained. It leads only to prolonged suffering and loss for all those concerned on both sides. The boundaries of the conflict now seem to have shifted to the international arena. Who will win or lose is not clear but as it proceeds we are all losers.

    It is not too late for leaders on both sides to call a truce and make peace for the future of this country and future generations.

  2. Hettie Archie says:

    The sad fact is that people including intelligent people from both the left and right have for periods supported the LTTE albeit with reservations.

  3. Aus Lankan says:

    ……happy bday?

  4. sjoseph says:

    Without LTTE, srilanka is overall in peace- and there are no bloodshed and violent confrontations.
    However, SL Tamils in North & east have not attained peace, as they lost their protecting arm and are vulnerable now to the Srilankan armed forces.

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    If the LTTE was really the protecting arm how did so many Tamil civilians die? If Tamils are vulnerable to the Army without LTTE could you tell us how many Tamils were killed by army after the war ended?

  5. sjoseph says:

    In srilankan context, LTTE is a necessary evil.

  6. tamilan says:

    armed struggle of brave vp and ltte was not defeated by racist sla.the whole world hands together and able to succeed with the innocent and very poor sinhala soldier how died for salary and house ha..ha..ha

  7. Giri says:

    I read this article on both earlier times you posted it Jeyaraj annai. I agreed with it then fully. Sadly no one listened and all what you said has come true in a big way

  8. Sam sab says:

    On an occasion in London, in 1989, at a discussion with Sathasivam Krishnakumar (for whom the struggle for Tamil Eelam was his life) the conversation turned to the Gita Upadesam. Kittu, as he was affectionately known, commented:

    “Annai, in the Maha Bharatham, it was Karnan who truly knew his duty. He was stead fast in his commitment to his friend Duryodhana – he had no doubts about his ‘Nanri Kadan’ and in the end Karnan willingly gave away all his ‘punyam’, knowing that by doing so, he would die. Karnan knew well his dharma – he did not need a ‘Upadesam’ to clarify his doubts – and so, in the Maha Bharatham, there is no ‘Gita Upadesam’ for Karnan.”

    Again, unlike Arujna at Kurushetra, the Buddha simply walked out of his palace one night. He did not seek anybody’s advice, neither did he awaken his sleeping wife and child and seek to explain his conduct. He was not in doubt as to his immediate step. On the contrary, he would have been in conflict if he had not walked out – and so to ‘renounce’ was his dharma.

    However Arujna is by no means alone in his confusion. The search for harmony is elusive. It is said that the long journey ends with coming to the beginning and truly knowing it for the first time. It was Annie Besant, translating the Gita, who remarked that it is better to act in accordance with one’s own dharma rather than try ‘to act out some one else’s dharma better’.

    Each of us have our dharma – ‘our way’ which is in harmony with our being. At the same time, no human is an island unto himself. We will not be what we are if not for our interaction with others. Life is relationship. Today Tamils who live in many lands and across distant seas are inevitably drawn to examine their relationship with the world in which they live.

    Unsurprisingly, the sense of their own identity as Tamils, quickly emerges within them as they comes across the lines that are drawn by an outside which often regards them as ‘not quite us’.

    The struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam for self determination, then assumes a special significance to the expatriate Tamil whether he traces his origins to Tamil Eelam, or to Tamil Nadu or to Malaysia or to some other land. The struggle in Tamil Eelam becomes not simply a struggle of a people ‘out there’.

    It is not only a matter of caring for that which is happening to one’s kith and kin, or to one brothers and sisters back in Tamil Eelam or to one’s ‘udan pirapukal’. Nor is it simply a matter of a naive nostalgic search for a receding past.

    The struggle becomes linked with the expatriate Tamil’s own present need to live with dignity (in Tamil we say ‘thanmaanam’). Our past becomes relevant to our present and in this way, has something to do with our future.

    It is true that a time will come when the separate national identities of the peoples of the world will be transcended by a greater unity. But it will be romantic to imagine that we have reached that stage today. We cannot live in a world which has not yet arrived – though we can certainly work towards it.

    To work for the flowering of the Tamil nation is to bring forward the emergence of a true trans nationalism. A true trans nationalism will come only from nationalisms that have flowered and matured – it will not come by the suppression of one nation by another. Today, many who deny the national identity of the Tamil people are rarely prepared to give up their own.

    Tamils have no cause, to be apologetic about their togetherness as a people – and the Tamil nation is not simply the addition of its separate parts. A nation is a deep and horizontal togetherness which cuts across the vertical divisions which exist amongst a people.

    Each Tamil wherever he lives is a part of that Tamil nation and even if he should forget his national identity, the environment around him will conspire to remind him from time to time, of that which he has forgotten. Yes, every inside has an outside and every outside has an inside – and the two go together.

    Man can affect his own development and that of his surroundings only so far as he has a clear view of what the possibilities of action open to him are. To do this he has to understand the historical situation in which he finds himself: and once he does this, then he can play an active part in modifying that situation. The man of action is the true philosopher: and the philosopher must of necessity be a man of action:

  9. Sharmila says:

    Wow, I was in tears reading your post DBSJ. What a superb piece!
    This is the first time I had read this article and I’m gobsmacked at your foresight and intuition. You accurately predicted the future. While the self appointed sole representatives of Tamils, steered the ship of Tamil Ealam into a wreck, many continued to hail them as heroes. It’s this hero worship of many diaspora Tamils that lead to the so called Leader to his hubris.
    While The Tigers had real grievance to pick up arms, For decades they gradually destroyed the Tamil cause by their violence (Within the community they were meant to be fighting for) and ultimately all Tamils paid the price.
    While the Tamils rightfully ask the GoSL for an apology, will the Tiger sympathizers apologize to the innocent Tamils and the Sinhalese wronged by their heroes?

  10. Salliyan says:

    When you first wrote this article I read it and endorsed it with my friends who supported LTTE. They refused to accept and called you thuroki. I had many arguments and fights with them. With some I stopped talking. Now those LTTE supporters are keeping quiet. Some are now shouting for human rights

  11. TRN says:

    Thank God the protracted unwanted war is over. I pray there wont be another war in this country. Too many innocent blood was shed due to the war of assholes.

    Yet an unanswered prayer, that we need leaders with wisdom to bring about true peace and freedom to all citizens of Sri Lanka.

    Lets persevere in the quest to find a better place on earth for all the victims of war and destruction in this land.

    God bless you DBSJ, keep writing to enlighten the people until they unite and forget their differences.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I would say a very good assesment, all Tamils who want to set up a seperate state should take heed. Writer has presented the reality of things probably with minimum bias. Also those who want Elam must come to SL and fight for the cause rather than putting the Tamils in SL onto the cross road. Thats real life stuff.

  13. Mahesh says:

    This article makes me sad.

    DBSJ Sir,

    Military solution is not possible now. Political solution, the Sinhalese will not want, meaningful solution I mean.

    India and the world powers will not do anything for the Tamils. They will only raise their voices, now and then.

    Then what can these battered people expect so that this problem is solved in its entirety.

    Should these people be extirpated and made to suffer and die for the selfish interests of the India and the world powers.

    Do you think that the Sinhalese were sincere in their approach for the political solution.

    Can you write elaborately on all these matters, Sir.

    It pains me as an Indian and also as a human being to see these people go down and down in their life.

    WHILE VP WAS ALIVE I THOUGHT THAT HE WAS THE SPOILER AND THE SINHALESE WILL GIVE A JUST SOLUTION.

    But I see there is no hope on that count.

    While VP was there I thought that he was a terrorist. Now I see him as a necessary kind of protection against the institutionalized state terror.

    I FEEL THERE IS NO HOPE FOR THE TAMILS IN THE SRI LANKA. PLEASE CLARIFY ME ON THIS, SIR.

    PLEASE DON’T PAUSE THIS QUESTION WITHOUT YOUR COMMENTS. I NEED TO HEAR YOUR VIEWS ON THIS.

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    Dear Mahesh

    I have written extensively on this and also revealed my thoughts through replies to comments.Do I need to keep repeating myself?

    Just a few points though.

    1.The bulk of Sri Lankan Tamils are living in Sri Lanka and have to live in Sri Lanka.

    2.They have to live as equals with the Sinhalese and other ethnicities in Sri Lanka.It will take time but there is no choice.

    3.Ilangai Thamizhar population percentage is only 5%. Of this around 40% are living outside the Northern and Eastern provinces.This reality has to be taken into account.

    4.The need of the hour is to rehabilitate affected people, reconstruct destroyed dwellings and revive the economy on the one hand and cooperate with Colombo to bring about meaningful devolution on the other.

    5.Conciliatory and not confrontational politics is necessary.War was an extension of confrontational politics. Now the war is over and should not be allowed to influence politics.

    6. Concliatory politics does not mean submission or surrender. It only means a change of approach and realistic appraisal of what is possible.

    7.Tamils must pragmatically distinguish between professed positions and perceived interests. They should pursue that which is attainable instead of demanding the desirable

    8.Empty sloganeering like”Nationalism, self -determination, homeland” (thesiyam, suya nirnayam, thayagam)etc should be abandoned. These are nothing but manifestations of separatist ideology in camouflaged form in the present context.

    9.Restoration of lost rights and redressing of grievances is possible incrementally.

    10.The Tamil Diaspora and Tamil Nadu people must play a constructive and not destructive role.They must help Sri Lankan Tamils to live as equals with full rights in a united,undivided Sri Lanka and not urge separation or a confrontational course with Colombo.

    11.What Tamils need now in Sri Lanka is a social, cultural and economic renaissance(marumalarchi)

    12.The destiny of Sri Lankan Tamils is inextricably inter-twined with that of the Sinhala people.Reconciliation is of utmost importance for the Tamil people more than the Sinhalese.

  14. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:

    DBSJ,
    Thanks for reproducing this article and the preceding introduction. There are many forces working to repeat the unfortunate history you have outlined. I hope and pray it reminds these elements, of the past, its failures and the tragic consequences.

    I have heard many Tamils, who understood the errors in the ways of the LTTE say that once the LTTE delivered the Eelam they craved for, the group would be discarded. They were like the Brahmin who chose to ride the tiger! The LTTE disposed many of the old Tamil leaders, because they believed in a similar scenario. They thought the Tigers were stupid! The Tiger paranoia was partly because they understood this mindset and reacted offensively. The paranoia was also partly due to their poor educational attainments, in a society that placed high value on education. This led to the habit of ruling the roost using violence. One cannnot deny the fact that the LTTE had intelligent and commited men/ women sensitive to the plight of the Tamils at the beginning. This sensitivity was lost with time and the LTTE started tp feed on its own people- canibalism.

    Timidity, fear, selfishness, self seeking and lack of a social conciousness among the Tamils, and their reflection on the nature of Tamil society as whole, particularly in Jaffna, contributed immensely to making the LTTE the monster it became. Karuna once said that when he questioned VP on why he wanted to retake Jaffna, the answer was, ” Anga thaan karakkalaam” ( We can only milk there), meaning garnering more money from a timid people! Tamil society by its very nature was incapable of exerting any moral control or restraint on the LTTE. The Tamil leaders like Amirthalingam, nurtured a poisonous snake with milk, lost control and paid the ultimate price.

    The ‘ Podiyal’ became ‘Thalaivars’ (Boys became leaders) without any societal controls or the wisdom of education. When a few tried to tell them- the LTTE- they were wrong, they were called traitors and humiliated in the LTTE media. Many were killed and many like you were injured as a result.

    The same mentality made a large number of Tamil address ordinary soldiers and policemen as ‘Sir’ even in Colombo, while bending in two! These Tamils were great proponents of Eelam and impressive vocal warriors within the confines of their homes! Most took great pains, bordering on criminality to take themselves and their kith and kin out of harms way, while egging others to die for their cause. How many will now admit that they left the north and east or migranted to save their children from LTTE conscription? We were indeed despicable hypocrites. We continue to be hypocrites in ignoring the plight of our fellow men and women, who are where they are now, because of us.

    The men who orchestrated the Vattukottai resoltion and the events preceding it, subsequently accepted the DDC scheme proposed by JRJ. The Jeanny they released in the form of the LTTE could not be put back in the bottle. The Tamil youth who had been aroused by the TULF rhetoric had been cheated! I remember Amirthalingam and Prof. A.J Wilson visiting Toronto in the 1970s to sell the DDC scheme. I was in the audience and asked Amirthalingam whether the DDCs had powers of taxation. Amirthalingam was embarrsed. I continued to tell him that the DDCs had power to only catch stray dogs and build public toilets, a job the local councils were doing already.

    Ultimately, we are where we are now, worse off than we were at the birth of the LTTE. We have not only become a manageable minority, but one that is to be pittied as well! The time for regrets is gone. We have to truthfully evaluate our position and work to become a vibrant, productive and respected community of people within Sri Lanka. We have to become better Tamils qualitatively, to make up for the drastic decline in numbers. There is no alternative. Pride is our curse now. This pride should be converted to a positive force to build a better future within Sri Lanka. We can do this.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  15. Anuradha says:

    The way for reconciliation..

  16. Kala says:

    Thank you DBS annan for this article. I can feel your pain and share your anguish.God bless you.

  17. Don Ariyaratne says:

    Mr Jeyaraj, Once again you are showing your true colours with this article.

  18. Raj Ponnambalam says:

    Dear DBSJ you said in 2009,

    “Given the current geo-strategic configuration, there is no chance that New Delhi would ever countenance an independent Tamil state in the Indian Ocean unless the Sinhala government does something incredibly stupid.”

    The geo political configuration is begining to change and SL government is behaving and keep behaving stupidly given the experience of last 3 years and current Tamil political philosophy seems to be diplomatic,democratic ,and non violent ‘pooradum’. It is possible to achieve Eelam but not an out right Independent but a confereral state for Tamils with UN,Indian bleesings in my view.
    If at the hight of their militory victory or even during the peace proces When CBK did U turn on Ranil LTTE should have decleared a UDI, It was a mistake/blunder by LTTE.

  19. JAMES CHELVA says:

    THIS ARTICLE HAS FULL OF SUBSTANCE. I AM ONE OF THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE FULL AUTONOMY OR EELAM FOR THAT MATTER.THE BIGGEST FOLLY OF PRABAHARAN WAS TO PROVOKE THE INDIAN ARMY AND FIGHT THEM.ONE S.L ARMY COMMANDER EVEN SAID THAT IF LTTE DID’NT FIGHT THE INDIANS . TAMILS WOULD HAVE GOT EELAM BY NOW. WHY HE SAID THAT WAS BECAUSE INDIA HAD A FIRM GRIP ON S.L UNDER RAJIV AND PREMADASA WAS TREATED LIKE A PUPPET.GRADUALLY RAJIV REALISED THE SINHALA MOTIVES OF NOT GRANTING ANY RIGHTS TO THE TAMILS AND WENT TO THE EXTENT OF CREATING TAMIL NATIONAL ARMY.( THIS HOW IN INDO PAK WAR ,IN CREATION OF BANGLADESH THE INDIANS CREATED MUKTHI BAHINI -THE LIBERATION ARMY OF THE BENGALIS TO FIGHT THE PAKS.)FOR THE TAMILS MISFORTUNE LTTE JOINED RANKS WITH PREMADAS AND KICKED INDIANS OUT WHAT A SAD DAY FOR THE TAMILS. WITHOUT ANY LOSS OF TAMILS LIVES EELAM WOULD HAVE BEEN A REALITY

    NOW THE SAME DIASPORA AND LTTE SYMPATHISERS WANT INDIAN HELP

  20. Selva says:

    Who said the LTTE is finished? Who said Thalaiver is dead? Wait and see

  21. Native Vedda says:

    So the Month May has a prominent place in Sri Lanka for Buddha was born, enlightened and attained Nibbana and the arrival of Kallthonies to the island starting with Vijaya and his gang on the day of Buddha’s Parinirvaana and the birth of LTTE.

    I find it difficult to reconcile all three events. Is it a kind of continuum that is “anything that goes through a gradual transition from one condition, to a different condition, without any abrupt changes”. The gradual change was from Buddha to Vijaya to Thiruvengadam Vellupillai Prabaharan via Rohana, an evolution from Good, Bad to Ugly Sinhala/Buddhist/Aryans (I see no difference between VP and MR, By the way VP was inspired by Clint Eastwood).

    Could any political book keepers do the reconciliation for me.

  22. Noel says:

    Like you DBS I am also sad at the road not taken

  23. Muhunth says:

    The LTTE has finished off the Tamils. No bright future because of their madness

  24. Rasah says:

    “This successful growth has come at immense cost to the Tamil people of Sri Lanka . Vertically the LTTE may have gone up, but horizontally the Sri Lankan Tamils have gone down. This is the unpleasant and inconvenient truth that the LTTE and acolytes often deny and do not like to hear.”

    DBS,

    the above lines are very very true. You hae summed it up. Tamils are down but LTTE went up. Now LTTE is down and Tamils are further down

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  28. Chinthaka says:

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    If the LTTE was really the protecting arm how did so many Tamil civilians die? If Tamils are vulnerable to the Army without LTTE could you tell us how many Tamils were killed by army after the war ended?
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Well said DBSJ. That two lined para it self can answer hundreds of miles long questions that might be popping up in some Tamils and International community… So simple and sweet.

  29. Don Ariyaratne says:

    I was right..

  30. DilshanF says:

    Dear DBSJ,

    I am responding not to your article but your thoughts of sadness as mentioned by you.
    I do not know whether the actions of One person would be of any consolation to you. I can sense your pain.

    Whithin what I do I would always respect tamils and treat them as my equal brother in this land of ours. Within my reach I would not allow them to be felt as a minority or a lesser person in ownership of our land.

    I have many times put myself in the shoes of tamils in the North during the war and have felt the pain. I am positive that the future will be brighter. I cannot change the political structure of the tamils or the sinhalese of this county. I can do what I can within my reach and will continue to do so.

    Do not be sad.

    Thank You Dilshan…………DBSJ

  31. Jay Pathbey says:

    Dear DBSJ, I read your articles and I also read transcurrents. I have done this regularly for a very long time. I respect you as a very dedicated journalist and as a realist. I am a citizen of Sri Lanka and of USA. I am also a sinhalese.

    The reality is no Sri Lankan politician will ever allow any Eelam in Sri Lanka. Provincial Councils with land, police and financial powers to any province, especially to the East and North will never happen. There will never, never be a North-East as a whole.

    Sampanthan will be dead and gone in a few years. The next tamil who steps in too will be pulled in different directions by tamils in Tamil Nadu, tamils living overseas and by a few voiciferous tamils in Sri Lanka asking for what the majority considers impossible. He or she will be gone in a few more years. Just like, Shelva, Amirthalingam did.

    So what is the solution? My suggestion is to try to live in Sri Lanka as a Sri Lankan.

    All through the LTTE years the GoSL was expected to pay and maintain the infrastructure while Prabhakaran waged war. It should not and will not work that way.

    I remember as a twelve year old I rebelled against my father. But he was father the bread winner who fed us all. That time he slapped me and told me to grow up. I did. Now I am in my sixties.

    My father passed away in 1983 at 62. But with great difficulties he brought up eight of us, all engineers doing so well today. We cry for him who is not here anymore to witness what we have achieved in life.

    Mr. C Sivasubramanium the orator was one of his best friends. At his insistance I was sent to Skandavarodaya College in Chunnakam for a few weeks. I was the only Sinhalese in the school and it was miserable. Just to make a point.

    But all those in present Sri Lanka have to learn Sinhalese, Tamil and English. There will be a different Sri Lanka in ten years or so I hope. Singapore, Malaysia to name two countries have multi ethnic communities. But the majority rules irrespective of who came there when. Australia and USA are two prominent cases in point.

    The GoSL is gradually opening up North and East for all of us to live in every piece of land in Sri Lanka, not just for the tamils. The mass investment by the GoSL in North is not for fun. The South Africa type Apartheid does not work in Sri Lanka. Sinhalese believe that, that is what the diaspora tamils and the Tamil Nadu tamils want in Sri Lanka.

    We Sinhalese believe and we know that Eelam is just a dream.

    Earlier those who live in Sri Lanka learn to accept it the better. The nearest the tamils ever came to having some sort of leadership in controlling their destiny was when an olive brach was extended to the LTTE to come to the negotiating tables which was squandered.

    One can go on and on. But the reality is what it is. The present GoSL and TNA leaderships should come out to the open and admit it without beating around the bush.

    JP / USA

  32. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:

    Sam Sab,

    I enjoyed reading your comment, because of its philosophical dimension. It made me think and re-read twice. Unfortunately, you have tried to enoble and universalize the ‘Tamil Nation’ concept that exists as a genuine conciousness among a few, a malignant political disease among many and non-existent among the majority. Great thoughts and well presented.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  33. Aj says:

    While i agreemwith everything that is said i disagree on one point that is the LTTE was the onlyone against peace and compromise. The singhalese are never for a negotiated settlement. They too will have the same fate of living in a failed nation and sri lanka will be the africa of asia in the era of globalisation. The world is moving towards multi culturalism not mono ethinic societies. This week what the muslims went through in dambulla and the intolerance exhibited by the singhales towards their minorities will bring their fown fall just like the way the tamils displayed their racist tendencies of not wanting to assimilate with a majority. Both are doomed and they deserve to perish. The world does not need these type of races in this era of globalisation that lives in the dark ages of racist biggotry.

    Good analyses dbsj.

    Regards

    Ajith

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    This article written four years ago is NOT an analysis.

    I have not said that the LTTE was the ONLY entity against peace and compromise.But since you have raised it and condemn the Sinhalese in their entirety I want to point out this

    The Indo-Lanka accord,Talks with the Governments of Premadasa, Kumaratunga, Wickremasinghe were all broken off by the LTTE.

    The last round of talks with Ranil saw a path breaking agreement in Oslo to explore federalism. That was aborted. The Tokyo donor conference was to pledge massive amounts of money for North – Eastern development.It was boycotted by LTTE.

    In the 2005 Presidential elections the LTTE sabotaged Ranil the man who lifted its proscription and signed the ceasefire agreement through its enforced boycott.

    It brought Mahinda to power and provoked the new Govt through attacks in the name of the peoples force. It roke off talks conclusively by walking out of talks saying Thamilselvan is of a higher status than Kohona.

    The LTTE also undermined the Scandinavian ceasefire monitoring mission by demanding withdrawal of monitors from Sweden,Denmark&Finland because of the EU ban

    When International efforts were made to bring about a ceasefire and save the civilians the LTTE refused to comply and continued to fight and court utter destruction.

    The argument that the Sinhalese are not willing to compromise does not hold when facts on ground stubbornly prove that it was the LTTE which roke off talks,resorted to war and resisted compromise even on the brink of destruction.

    The only way to demonstrate that the Sinhala Govts were against a compromise would have been to stay the course at the negotiating table

    Today the LTTE supporters of yesterday have become human rights activists seeking justice for the Mullivaaikkal massacres

    But what of the LTTE which brought the people to that area and held them as hostages and even cruelly suppressed attemts by the people to escape?

    It was the greatest betrayal of the Tamil people by the LTTE

  34. Naga says:

    I did not previously read your ariticle written on the 32nd anniversary of LTTE. Very few Tamils openly raised alarm at the unrealistic pursuit of Tamil Eelam by LTTE and its leader Pirabaharan and the danger it posed to the Tamils in Sri Lanka. LTTE stooges broke your legs for telling the simple truth. I did the same here in Australia and the local LTTE goons threatened me with death.

    You mentioned that the writing was on the wall in January 2009.It was there long before that. In fact the Former Indian National Security Adviser M.K.Narayanan told me on the 13th April 2009 that the writing was on the wall for LTTE to see when Karuna broke away. He said this when I met him along with the ENDLF leader Rajan at his New Delhi office on that day to plead for Indian intervention to end the war and to save the thousands of Tamils trapped in Mullivaikal. In response Narayanan said if LTTE comes forward to lay down arms, India will intervene and will seek an end to the war. He said at least a token surrender of arms would suffice. He mentioned that he had passsed this message to the LTTE leadership through LTTE channels but the LTTE leader was yet to respond. Narayanan told us that if we are keen on saving the lives of the Tamils trapped in Mullivaikal we should ask the LTTE to come forward and surrender. ENDLF leader Rajan passed this message to the LTTE leadership. Do you know what Pirapaharan did? He consulted Vaiko and we later learnt that Vaiko had told Pirapaharan that it was a ploy by the Indian government to ensure that Congress Party and its allies win the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu. We also learnt that Vaikio had advised Pirapaharan to hold on until the election results are announced as Jayalalitha would win in Tamil Nadu and would be in a position to determine who formed the next government in New Delhi. That was not to be. LTTE’se counter attack to hold off the Sri Lankan Army failed and the Sri Lankan Army finished off the LTTE and its leader on 18th May 2009. The rest is history.

    The curse of the Tamils is that there is no united Tamil leadership in Sri Lanka. Tamils voted for TNA at the last general elections not because they liked it but because there was no viable alternative. They cannot claim to be the sole respresentatives of the Tamils. I was behind the moves to convene a conference all Sri Lankan Tamil parties in New Delhi. My first attempt in December 2009 to organise such a meeting through former Congress Parliamentarian Anbarasu failed because ENDLF leader Rajan hijacked it in order to organise his own Tamil diasporas conference. I later chaired the New Delhi meeting of Sri Lankan Tamil parties organised by Congress Parliamentarian Natchiappan. All North East based Tamil parties except EPDP and Pillaiyan’s party attended this conference. I tried hard to get them to agree on a set ofproposals to resolve the Tamil problem. It failed because Kajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Kajendran who were seen to be working to the dictats of Nediyavan sabotaged the conference by insisting on their demand for “Thesiayam, Thayagam and Suyanirnayam”. Saner counselling on the part of Anandasangari, Rajan,Suresh Premachandran, Sugu and Sumanthiran failed to break the deadlock on this issue.

    The need of the hour is unity of all Sri Lankan Tamil parties. Douglas and Pillaiyan are working with the government, TNA is on its own, and TULF, PLOTE, EPRLF (Pathmanabha) are in another Tamil alliance working on their own. There is no one voice. Tamils are in the same sad plight that existed before LTTE’s total domination.

  35. Senathi says:

    The war we fought in the last 30 years is only a fraction of the war we fought in the last 2500 years. We still survive and continue to survive. The war fought inside the country may be over but there may be war outside of the country and only that will determine the future of Sri Lanka. When Ronald Reagan was talking about “Star wars” defence and attack system USSR warned him about keeping submarines around America. Then America realized that the “Star Wars” wouldn’t help against the Submarines (according to the technologies of that time). India has achieved their goal in their air defence system. When they initiated this missile developments they must have thought when they achieve the goal they could relax but now they are fearful of the sea surrounded them. So there are more to come.

    “Vaai chol Veerar”(vocal warrior)…………DBSJ

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  39. Native Vedda says:

    Naga

    The writing was on the wall since the LTTE’s brutal attack on innocent people on pilgrimage to Anuradhapura and subsequent annihilation of TELO in 1986.

    In fact by 2005 India had decided to put a full stop to LTTE’s mad military machine.

    By August 2008 India had roped in almost all important actors in the IC to finish off LTTE lock, stock and barrel.

  40. Native Vedda says:

    Senathi says:

    “The war we fought in the last 30 years is only a fraction of the war we fought in the last 2500 years”.

    Could you elaborate on your above comment.

  41. RajasH says:

    I agree with many of the postings here that Eelam is a dream and a separate state for Tamils is not practical etc etc.
    However we need to distinguish between Eelam and Tamil identity and Tamil culture.What is happening now is in the name of one nation one country etc etc the Tamil culture and Tamil history is slowly but surely being destroyed may be next 30 years will see to this. Any one fighting to preserve Tamil identity and the Tamil culture is branded an LTTE rump.

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    I dont think anyone is making that kind of charge because no one will believe that the LTTE rump is fighting to preserve Tamil identity and Tamil culture

  42. Noam says:

    I understand Mr. DBS Jeyaraj’s disdain for individuals who preach human rights today while ignoring the LTTE’s horrendous crimes, but many others who call for investigations didn’t turn a blind eye to the LTTE’s record in the past. There will probably be no investigations and convictions, but there is value in rejecting the abuses of the military and calling for investigations. What happened was wrong. No doubt the LTTE’s hostage taking tactics was their greatest betrayal against a population they claimed to protect but have you ever heard of a hostage rescue operation where the rescuers fire all their ammo into the area where the hostages are being held? The truth is the military didn’t care about civilians as long as the LTTE was wiped out. That is not becoming of an institution that is charged with protecting Sri Lanka. The civilians were the responsibility of the government and the military.

    However, after all the suffering, SL Tamils need to acknowledge the destruction caused by Tamil nationalism and the charlatans who utilize its deceptive power. Nationalism, regardless of its various colors, will always be game of power. Those who espouse nationalism seek power, that has always been the case. It was no different with the LTTE. If they really cared about the future of SL Tamils, the LTTE would have settled for autonomy instead of pursuing a separate state, an outcome that unsurprisingly would have ensured that they alone ruled the roost.

  43. Aj says:

    Hi dbsj,

    As i said i agree with you about the ltte’s lack of sincerity. But sri lankans as a whole are insincere whether they are singhalese or tamils. What is preventing the govt and opposition parties to propose a package that is acceptable to all to change the constitution ? look at canada, australia, usa when it comes to national issues they have bipartisan support and work.

    Ltte’s failure came about because they made everyone an enemey and no one as friends. The tamils are better off they are gone. Just thatmi wished it happened in 1987 when the indians were in sri lanka. Not so many years later. They have completely ruined the tamil community and are now close to extinct.

    However i dont believe sri lanka as a nation will succeed either and should not. As a country it lacks any form of decency to value human life, human rights and basic principles of equality for all. Increasingly more despot leaders come to power and from the frying pan they move to the fire with every election. Electing leaders who are dramatically sending them to become a failed state. What sri lanka needs now is a nelson mandela from the tami.side and lee kuwan yew from the singhalese side. I dont see it happening but you can hope for all you want. Good luck. Some nations are destined to fail and they deserve to fail. People get the politicians they deserve not what they should.

  44. AiA says:

    Excellent article DBS J, thanks for reproducing. Your responses to some comments above were also frank and spot on. Sadly everyone preferred to swim with LTTE flow whether liked it or not as, not doing so was an option for those who lived in Vanni.

    I do share your sadness with a great deal of sorrow.

    There is no one to blame for other than VP and his cohorts that were adamant in protecting the business empire than caring for the need of an ordinary man, who was squeezed to extent had not been able to afford to buy a panadol even.

    It was almost all over from the time Tamils started fear for this gang. Then on, it was only a matter of time.

  45. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:

    This is what I wrote in 2006 about the LTTE and why it will fail. I hope DBSJ will permit it to appear as a comment. I think it is relevant and adds weight to the DBSJ main article and his reply to comments and queries here.

    The sacred, mundane, profane and obscene

    March 25, 2006 at 12:11 am · ~ Commentary, TW Reader Commented

    By Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

    “ Marathil Marainthathu Maa Matha Yaanai- Parathil Marainthathu Paar Muthat Pootham—-” – Thirumoolar ( in Tamil)

    Wood carved into the form of an elephant, ceases to be called wood-

    The Universal Spirit (God) is similarly lost sight of in the details of this universe.
    (Translation)

    In Saivite Hindu philosophy (Sithantham), Mayai/ Maya (Where the appearance belies the facts or truth- an illusion of sorts), is a central theme. A child given a wooden toy in the form of an elephant and asked what it is will definitely answer that it is an elephant. The same answer could be expected of most adults. It is very unlikely that anyone would describe the toy as a piece of wood. Any one who would say it is a piece of wood is a rare individual and is likely to be a critical thinker and a possible philosopher. The uncritical and reflex acceptance of a deception or illusion is Mayai. The inability to see beyond superficialities and seek the core or underlying facts- the truth, is also Mayai. It is akin to a person within a forest who sees the individual trees, shrubs, creepers and animals, but is unable to perceive the whole as a forest or a person flying in a helicopter, who sees the forest but is unable to visualize the details that make up the forest. While the Mayai in Saiva philosophy refers to matters spiritual, the concept equally applies to our mundane life. The word for God in Tamil is ‘Kadawul’, meaning that which is beyond (Kada) and within (Ul) one self. We have to learn to seek the truth in all its many facets, both within and beyond us, if we are solve our problems as a cultured, intelligent and wise people. Seeking the truth is seeking God.

    The Tamils of Sri Lanka are either Hindus or Christian by religion. The Tamil Christians have been described as Hindu Christians by some of their thoughtful leaders. There are several Hindus and Christians of Hindu –Christian parentage. The original Christians were Hindu converts and though devout Christians now, yet carry the essence of Hinduism (Saivaism) within them. We the Tamils of Sri Lanka, whether Hindu or Christian have been entrapped in a Mayai, expertly spun by the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam). An independent state of Tamil Ealam is this Mayai. The desire to escape from the indignities, insults, pain, suffering and death heaped on the Tamils by the GOSL (Government of Sri Lanka), in the three decades post-independence, gave birth to the Tamil militancy. This militancy has been personified by the LTTE today and is set on achieving an independent state of Tamil Ealam carved out of Sri Lanka for the Tamils. This anti-GOSL militancy has become a discernible burden for the Tamil people over time. The story of the ‘Maya Maan (Magic Deer)’ in the Ramayana is relevant to us today. Ravana, who wants to make Sitha his own, sends his uncle Maarisan in the form of a beautiful deer to frolic in front of her. Enchanted by the beauty and antics of the deer, Sitha demands that Rama capture it to be her pet. Rama, suspicious that this may be a ploy of the Asuras- his enemies versed in magic, tries to dissuade her. Her stubborn insistence on having the deer forces a reluctant Rama to leave her in the care of Luxshmanan and give chase to the deer. Having run deep into the forest, the Magic Deer utters a loud cry of anguish and pain mimicking Rama’s voice. On hearing this Sitha becomes distraught and insists that Luxshmanan go in search of Rama. The wise brother-in- law, Luxshmanan, refuses and explains that this is a trick by some one. An angry Sitha accuses Luxshmanan of coveting her and wanting Rama- his older brother, dead. The insulted Luxshmanan leaves Sitha alone, after drawing a line on the ground that he forbids her to cross (the Luxshmanan rekai/reka) and seeks Rama. This opens the way for Ravana to kidnap Sitha to Lanka.

    Are there parallels for us Tamils in this sub-story in the Ramayana? Tamil Ealam is the beautiful magic deer frolicking in front of us. Sitha is our manifold rights as a people. Rama personifies us- the Tamils, while Luxshmanan is our conscience. Everyone knows that at this point in our history, the LTTE is the Ravana, while the GOSL may be called Surpanahai- Ravana’s sister, who had harassed Rama and Luxshmanan in the past. The utopia of an independent Tamil Ealam is being used to distract us from the evils that have come to personify the LTTE. Propaganda through a captive and pliant media, strong-arm tactics (thuggery, murder, kidnap, torture, character assassinations, etc.,), Hero’s day and Pongu Thamil events and the associated drama, and cyber terrorism ( Spy ware intrusions, criminal misuse of the web and internet), are the tools that the LTTE deploys to deny us our rights as a people. It is this Sitha- our rights as a people- that our Ravana wants to take away. We (The Ramas) with the help of our conscience (Luxshmanan), and the assistance of Hanuman’s tribe – the other peoples of Sri Lanka and the international community- should fight the menace that the LTTE has become now, while pursuing solutions to our problems vis-à-vis the GOSL. The antics of the LTTE have become patently hysterical and obscene in the past few months, and a major embarrassment to Tamils. If the LTTE is yet sensitive to voices of reasons and the present plight of the Tamils, it should reform and we need not throw it out with the dirty bath water. If the LTTE is unwilling to reform, it should be thrown along with the dirty bath water and the bathtub!

    While the grievances of the Tamils are genuine and unforgettable, the perpetrators are forgivable, if there is a genuine desire for reform in the GOSL and there are indications pointing to this. Forgiveness is the essence of love, which is at the core of our religions and culture. To the Hindus, “Anbey Sivam “(Love is God) is an important philosophical concept, as much as love, compassion and forgiveness are the themes of Christianity. The Buddhism practiced by the majority of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka also emphasizes kindness, compassion, meditation- deep, concentrated and focused thinking, and rational thought to a great extent. The concept of ‘Anbey Sivam’ has wide implications in Saivaism as the ‘Sivam’ is supposed to be found within us, every life around us and everything around us. The following true story based in Jaffna, I heard as a child illustrates this. ‘Kadai Swamy’ was one of the Saivaite savants of Jaffna, of the generation before Yoga Swamy of Kolumbuthurai. If I remember correctly, Yoga Swamy was a disciple of Kadai Swamy. Kadai Swamy while visiting Jaffna town happened to witness a fight between two individuals and was later called upon to relate what he saw to the Magistrate, who was presiding over the case in Court. In his evidence he said, “This Sivam Siva that Sivam, that Sivam Siva – Siva this Sivam, this Sivam Siva- Siva- Siva that Sivam”. To Kadai Swamy, both individuals involved were Sivams and even the physical violence and assaulting was Sivam. One Siva was a single punch, the Siva- Siva were two punches and the Siva- Siva- Siva were three punches. I am sure the magistrate and other court officials were bewildered and thought he was mad and his evidence maddening. What ever their thoughts and perceptions were, what Kadai Swamy was expounding was the essence of Saivaism- the form of Hinduism practiced by the Tamils of the North and East from times immemorial. It is also the essence of all religions, although it may be expressed differently. It is sad that we have lost this essence in our life to a very large extent and have been engulfed by a Mayai that is destroying us as individuals, our society and a land of culture, philosophy and substance bequeathed by our predecessors. The destruction has been both spiritual and mundane – matters pertaining to the physical realities of human life. It is essential that we retrieve our humanity and recover our capacity to forgive, if we are to regain our rationality and sanity as a people.

    We as a people, who are largely Hindus, believe in the concept of Karma. Karma is a theory of action and reaction/ cause and effect that governs several life spans and involves an evolutionary process based on one’s actions, in Hindu beliefs. The Buddhists too believe in Karma. “Pullaahi, Poondaahi, Puluvaahi, Maramaahi, pal Miruhamaahi, Paravaiyaai, Paampaahi—- (We were grass, weeds, worms, animals, birds, snakes etc., etc— )”, the hymn in Tamil taught to every Tamil-Hindu child, emphasizes this concept. It is our Karma that we have to undergo, what we have and are now, as a people. What others have inflicted on us is their karma. What we have inflicted on the other peoples in Sri Lanka is also our Karma and their Karma. Karma is not a concept of fatalism or passivity. It is dynamic and has its own dynamics. Karma literally means work. It is a concept to overcome our present limitations to seek a higher plane of thinking and action.

    The seagull Jonathan, in the book ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull (By: Richard Bach) beautifully and very concisely, illustrated this concept of striving to evolve, seek perfection and make Karma a life force. Richard Bach dedicates his story, “To the real Jonathan Seagull, who lives within us all”. In this story, Jonathan, the seagull in his quest to overcome the limitations to flight imposed by nature on him as a seagull says,” Instead of our drab slogging, forth and back to fishing boats, there is a reason to live! We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill. We can be free! We can learn to fly”! Jonathan Seagull, instead of fighting and screeching and diving for fish like other sea gulls, spends his time practicing to improve his flying skills. He refuses to live like an ordinary sea gull engaged in monotonous practicality of day- to- day life. Eventually he becomes the first sea gull to fly higher and faster than the others. We have to emulate Jonathan Livingston Sea Gull as a people.

    If we strive to become a better people in word, deed and thought, we will over come our present problems. We need righteousness (Dharma) and goodness to be on our side. When Dharman (Yudhishtran) and Dhuriyodanan were asked to choose between Lord Krishna and his army, Dharman chose Krishna while Dhuryodhanan chose the army (Mahabharatha). In the Kurukshetra war, Lord Krishna, was on the Pandava side while his Yadava army was with the Khourawas. Truth, dharma and moral superiority were with the Pandavas. Dhuriyodhanan only had the armies and weapons, but did not have truth, dharma and morality on his side. The victory at Kurukshetra was with the Pandavas, despite the mistreatment and misfortunes that were their lot in the past. If the GOSL was wrong and is wrong, we have to fight it with every means and tactic at our disposal. This is our undeniable right and there can be no dispute about this. But, two wrongs do not make a right. We have to be right, if the GOSL is wrong. We cannot do wrong, if our complaint is that the GOSL is wrong. There is a deep logic in this. Dharma, truth and moral superiority have to be our major weapons. These must be our weapons as a people and that of our leaders. Guns, bombs, war ships, war planes, spies, suicide bombers, assassinations, murders and other tactics will not win us the war, if we do not cultivate and value the above attributes. These attributes have to assume primacy in our struggle for justice and rights. The Tamil militancy has crushed the above attributes in our cause and has come to rely only on material weapons of war, violence, guile and deception. These weapons and tactics have been deployed against the Tamil people themselves now. War is a necessary evil and it should be recognized as such. It should be a phenomenon of last resort and should not be something we should fall in love with. It is only a means to an end and cannot be pursued ad-infinitum. War should be resorted when necessary and discarded as fast as possible, lest it becomes a bad habit. The IRA and ETA have foreclosed war as an option in Europe and the liberation movement in Aceh has done so in Indonesia. If we fail to do this soon, it will consume us faster than it does the enemy, and destroy us. This is what is happening to the Tamils now in every plane of life- both spiritual and mundane. What is worse is that profanity is fast replacing the spiritual values that have been our hallmark as a people, under the prevailing conditions and the lumpen leadership we are tolerating. This would be a damage that will be very hard to correct, even if peace returns to our land.

    Ill educated and half educated, unwise, short sighted, power hungry, money hungry, merciless and trigger happy men have been permitted to become our leaders. These men may have been idealistic and honest in their youth. But these traits have been long lost in the decadence that has overwhelmed them, since. They are destroying us from within, both as individuals and as a society. This insidious process has been at work for a long time and the results are beginning to surface now. This has to be recognized and dealt with by the Tamil people, as a matter of urgency. All Tamils –you, he, she- and I are responsible for the present state of affairs and we have to bow our heads in shame. Are we capable of facing the truth at least now or are we going to be lost in the Mayai of an independent Tamil Ealam, until doomsday? [TamilWeek, Mar 26, 2006]

  46. afool says:

    Mahesh says to DBSJ:
    May 5, 2012 at 9:21 am

    This article makes me sad.

    Can you write elaborately on all these matters, Sir.

    It pains me as an Indian and also as a human being to see these people go down and down in their life.

    WHILE VP WAS ALIVE I THOUGHT THAT HE WAS THE SPOILER AND THE SINHALESE WILL GIVE A JUST SOLUTION.

    But I see there is no hope on that count.

    While VP was there I thought that he was a terrorist. Now I see him as a necessary kind of protection against the institutionalized state terror.

    I FEEL THERE IS NO HOPE FOR THE TAMILS IN THE SRI LANKA. PLEASE CLARIFY ME ON THIS, SIR.

    PLEASE DON’T PAUSE THIS QUESTION WITHOUT YOUR COMMENTS. I NEED TO HEAR YOUR VIEWS ON THIS.
    ___________________________________________________________________________________

    Dear Mahesh!
    Though I read and understand the pain of DBSJ through this article and several if his other articles, I am completely disagree with him in his suggestions to Tamils, how to get their solutions. Since you are a Tamil from India, I do not blame you, when you said above;

  47. Senathi says:

    “Vaaichollil Veeraradi”

    Hi DBSJ, You didn’t get what I was trying to say. When I said war outside Sri Lanka I didn’t meant that the LTTEers are going to comeback with Air craft carriers and fight in the sea. If the LTTE has to come back the ban on them in the West and in India has to be lifted. If that will never happen their coming back also will never happen because what is important to them is not Tamileelam but the Flag, the name and their leaders name. They will never think of changing flag or name.

    There could be a war soon between two major powers over the island Andaman. Very soon the Kra Canal dream of Thailand could become a reality. When that Camal become the most busiest international shipping lane the Andaman will become the new Singapore. The people who spent trillans to dig the Canal will never allow the Andaman to pick the fruit of the Canal.

  48. Gavin says:

    1. Ilangai Thamizhar population percentage is only 5%. Of this around 40% are living outside the Northern and Eastern provinces. This reality has to be taken into account.

    2. The destiny of Sri Lankan Tamils is inextricably inter-twined with that of the Sinhala people. Reconciliation is of utmost importance for the Tamil people more than the Sinhalese.

    The writer has stated some of the most important aspects of this debate in these above lines. The last sentence is truly significant but I don’t think many Tamils are convinced that that’s the way to go and that is a great pity.

    The 40% living outside are living with other races in harmony and many are well respected. It is some of the 5% , probably about 2% who are muddying the waters for Sri Lanka and do they expect the balance 95% to give into their requests?

  49. San says:

    “There were many who thought that the LTTE was going to defeat the Sri Lankan armed forces conclusively and deliver an Independent state of Tamil Eelam on a platter.

    They were willing to overlook, gloss over, ignore or blatantly deny the various human rights violations perpetrated by the LTTE because they thought these were necessary evils on the path to liberation.
    Anyone expressing criticism however constructive it may be was slandered and condemned as a traitor.”

    Couldn’t have said it better DBS. Excellent article.

  50. sjoseph says:

    DBSJ RESPONDS:

    If the LTTE was really the protecting arm how did so many Tamil civilians die? If Tamils are vulnerable to the Army without LTTE could you tell us how many Tamils were killed by army after the war ended?

    —-

    DBS,

    People are vulnerable (even to death) if they protest (even by democratic way) against the Govt/Army and ask for a separate country. people dont express out due to fear psychosis. LTTE was were expressing people’s desire(though by violent means)

    If GOSL dares and if it is TRUE that GOSL rule is better than LTTE rule, then Govt should ask people to vote by democratic means (with international observers), if they want to have a separate country of their own or live as an integrated srilanka. The results should settle the dust.

    If 3 years of Govt rule has satisfied the majority of Tamil people in North & East, why there is a hesitation?

    If the SL Govt could not bring the Tamil people closer to them, even after 3 years of peace, it is doubtful , even 30 more years of Govt rule will bring them closer.

    DBSJ RESPONDS AGAIN:

    Kindly answer the two questions I raised in response to your assertin that the LTTE was the Protective Arm of the Tamil People and that they are vulnerable to the army , will you please?

    If the LTTE was really the protecting arm how did so many Tamil civilians die?

    If Tamils are vulnerable to the Army without LTTE could you tell us how many Tamils were killed by army after the war ended?

  51. Anonymous says:

    I studied in Sinhalese medium Buddist school and i know GATHA, Schools teach them to be racist but there many good guys out there who are not racist but they are majourly out numbered by racist elements.. You cannot change that thats why may be Prabakaran might have understood that factor and fought the war to the end..

  52. sach says:

    Tears went down my eyes when reading your post though i am a sinhalese. I dont think SL Tamil culture and and community would disappear in SL. At least I hope it wont. Mass scale immigration of Tamils out of the country should stop and those who went abroad can return and they can buy land, start businesses, do good jobs in corporate sector and governmental sector. I dont think Mahinda would go for a Power devolution, but Mahinda wont be able to stay forever. Until that time Tamils can build their community again in SL. They have to mix with the mainstream SLn society, go to higher levels of the administerial services. Produce leaders who will win the hearts of not only Tamils but of all SLns. That will be the way for success.

    I still have hope in RW. He should be helped by others to come into power. I think the understanding between sampanthan and RW is a new beginning. All is not lost… Have faith.

  53. Noel says:

    Thank You DBSJ for the article.

    From all the comments, The issues you raise and thoughts you provoke in us Sri Lankans are truly wonderful.

    I believe, You are reaching Sri Lankans in every corner of the globe and it is rare.

    Just one thought.

    How would a Tamil from Tamil Nadu living in New Delhi be any different from a Tamil from Jaffna living in Galle or Matara?

    Would Prime Minister Singh be any more sympathetic to “His” minortiy than Rajapakse to his?

    Every Tamil from India that I meet in the US also speak some Hindi. Every Tamil person from Sri Lanka I meet here in the US also speak some Sinhalese as well as English.

    Most of the issues faced by Tamils in Sri Lanka are no different than issues faced by minorities everywhere on the face of this planet.

    Sri Lankans are not racist. At least, Not racism as practiced by westerners (death camps).

    We Sri Lankans, all of us, are unique and are all culturally Sri Lankan and as such, a little bit Budhist. We Can’t help it. I believe that and it gives me hope.!

  54. Nalitha says:

    When reached to your annivery 40 all of butchers of LTTE and its’ supporters will wanishing from the universe. That is the reality, not only that who are supporting specialy western countries thay also getting consiquences.

  55. Appuhamy says:

    Prabhakaran and the other LTTE criminals must be celebrating it in hell – with no shortage of fireworks.

  56. Athula says:

    Let’s celebrate the Very Happy Birthday… on 19 May!!!

  57. Jeewaka says:

    nice article!

  58. Dissanayake says:

    Dear DSBSJ

    Thanks for the article.

    30 years’ war was fought and nothings have been achieved except a calamity. As a nation, we have been dragged back in many generations especially our helpless and poor Tamil brothers and sisters in this country. The futile war has resulted loosing so many lives especially helpless young sons ans daughters from poor parents both Sinhalese and Tamils.

    It is high time to think very carefully and wisely. Do we wants to carry on this further? In order to have a peaceful Sri Lanka for all of us to live together, we all have to sacrifice many things – our pride, inferiority, division between race, caste and other useless thoughts that hinder bringing all of us together.

    As in this article, authors like you could do more and more to bring hearts and minds of these two communities together. Keep the good work on Brother.

  59. Ranjit Leanage says:

    Srilankan people have stood the onslaught by the tamils for decades yet they tried to live with everyone including tamils. Why dont the tamils now try to live with the rest of the Srilankans.

  60. [...] like 4%, and if you assume double in the uncounted north it’s still only 8%. Which is crazy. Read DBS for some more background and insight, but that’s just some food for [...]

  61. Indian says:

    Dear DBSJ,

    The article is an eye opener for me. Thanks.

    If reconciliation is delayed, SL would be weak from inside. Real strength comes from taking all people together and moving forward instead of looking back.

  62. SS says:

    Dear DBS Jeyaraj,

    At this time of Vesak I was wondering whether you could publish this article separately on your site? I think the article is very pertinant in the current climate and it approaches the issue of reconciliation from a Buddhist perspective which is a very important issue in post war Sri Lanka, as there seems to be a rise in certain extremist groups. The article, written by a Buddhist monk, does form a very forward thinking framework to advance reconciliation in the country. According to the copyright, it can be freely published ( http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/reconciliation.html )

    Thank you.

    ===========

    Reconciliation, Right & Wrong

    by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

    “These two are fools. Which two? The one who doesn’t see his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who doesn’t rightfully pardon another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are fools.

    “These two are wise. Which two? The one who sees his/her transgression as a transgression, and the one who rightfully pardons another who has confessed his/her transgression. These two are wise.”

    — AN 2.21

    “It’s a cause of growth in the Dhamma and Vinaya of the noble ones when, seeing a transgression as such, one makes amends in accordance with the Dhamma and exercises restraint in the future.”

    — DN 2

    The Buddha succeeded in establishing a religion that has been a genuine force for peace and harmony, not only because of the high value he placed on these qualities but also because of the precise instructions he gave on how to achieve them through forgiveness and reconciliation. Central to these instructions is his insight that forgiveness is one thing, reconciliation is something else.

    The Pali word for forgiveness-khama-also means “the earth.” A mind like the earth is non-reactive and unperturbed. When you forgive me for harming you, you decide not to retaliate, to seek no revenge. You don’t have to like me. You simply unburden yourself of the weight of resentment and cut the cycle of retribution that would otherwise keep us ensnarled in an ugly samsaric wrestling match. This is a gift you can give us both, totally on your own, without my having to know or understand what you’ve done.

    Reconciliation — patisaraniya-kamma — means a return to amicability, and that requires more than forgiveness. It requires the reestablishing of trust. If I deny responsibility for my actions, or maintain that I did no wrong, there’s no way we can be reconciled. Similarly, if I insist that your feelings don’t matter, or that you have no right to hold me to your standards of right and wrong, you won’t trust me not to hurt you again. To regain your trust, I have to show my respect for you and for our mutual standards of what is and is not acceptable behavior; to admit that I hurt you and that I was wrong to do so; and to promise to exercise restraint in the future. At the same time, you have to inspire my trust, too, in the respectful way you conduct the process of reconciliation. Only then can our friendship regain a solid footing.

    Thus there are right and wrong ways of attempting reconciliation: those that skillfully meet these requirements for reestablishing trust, and those that don’t. To encourage right reconciliation among his followers, the Buddha formulated detailed methods for achieving it, along with a culture of values that encourages putting those methods to use.

    The methods are contained in the Pali Vinaya’s instructions for how monks should confess their offenses to one another, how they should seek reconciliation with lay people they have wronged, how they should settle protracted disputes, and how a full split in the Sangha should be healed. Although directed to monks, these instructions embody principles that apply to anyone seeking reconciliation of differences, whether personal or political.

    The first step in every case is an acknowledgement of wrongdoing. When a monk confesses an offense, such as having insulted another monk, he first admits to having said the insult. Then he agrees that the insult really was an offense. Finally, he promises to restrain himself from repeating the offense in the future. A monk seeking reconciliation with a lay person follows a similar pattern, with another monk, on friendly terms with the lay person, acting as mediator. If a dispute has broken the Sangha into factions that have both behaved in unseemly ways, then when the factions seek reconciliation they are advised first to clear the air in a procedure called “covering over with grass.” Both sides make a blanket confession of wrongdoing and a promise not to dig up each other’s minor offenses. This frees them to focus on the major wrongdoings, if any, that caused or exacerbated the dispute.

    To heal a full split in the Sangha, the two sides are instructed first to inquire into the root intentions on both sides that led to the split, for if those intentions were irredeemably malicious or dishonest, reconciliation is impossible. If the group tries to patch things up without getting to the root of the split, nothing has really been healed. Only when the root intentions have been shown to be reconcilable and the differences resolved can the Sangha perform the brief ceremony that reestablishes harmony.

    Pervading these instructions is the realization that genuine reconciliation cannot be based simply on the desire for harmony. It requires a mutual understanding of what actions served to create disharmony, and a promise to try to avoid those actions in the future. This in turn requires a clearly articulated agreement about — and commitment to — mutual standards of right and wrong. Even if the parties to a reconciliation agree to disagree, their agreement needs to distinguish between right and wrong ways of handling their differences.

    Yet right and wrong have gotten a bad rap in Western Buddhist circles, largely because of the ways in which we have seen right and wrong abused in our own culture — as when one person tries to impose arbitrary standards or mean-spirited punishments on others, or hypocritically demands that others obey standards that he himself does not.

    To avoid these abuses, some people have recommended living by a non-dual vision that transcends attachment to right and wrong. This vision, however, is open to abuse as well. In communities where it is espoused, irresponsible members can use the rhetoric of non-duality and non-attachment to excuse genuinely harmful behavior; their victims are left adrift, with no commonly accepted standards on which to base their appeals for redress. Even the act of forgiveness is suspect in such a context, for what right do the victims have to judge actions as requiring forgiveness or not? All too often, the victims are the ones held at fault for imposing their standards on others and not being able to rise above dualistic views.

    This means that right and wrong have not really been transcended in such a community. They’ve simply been realigned: If you can claim a non-dual perspective, you’re in the right no matter what you’ve done. If you complain about another person’s behavior, you’re in the wrong. And because this realignment is not openly acknowledged as such, it creates an atmosphere of hypocrisy in which genuine reconciliation is impossible.

    So the solution lies not in abandoning right and wrong, but in learning how to use them wisely. Thus the Buddha backed up his methods for reconciliation with a culture of values whereby right and wrong become aids rather than hindrances to reconciliation. To prevent those in the right from abusing their position, he counseled that they reflect on themselves before they accuse another of wrongdoing. The checklist of questions he recommended boils down to this: “Am I free from unreconciled offenses of my own? Am I motivated by kindness, rather than vengeance? Am I really clear on our mutual standards?” Only if they can answer “yes” to these questions should they bring up the issue. Furthermore, the Buddha recommended that they determine to speak only words that are true, timely, gentle, to the point, and prompted by kindness. Their motivation should be compassion, solicitude for the welfare of all parties involved, and the desire to see the wrong-doer rehabilitated, together with an overriding desire to hold to fair principles of right and wrong.

    To encourage a wrongdoer to see reconciliation as a winning rather than a losing proposition, the Buddha praised the honest acceptance of blame as an honorable rather than a shameful act: not just a means, but the means for progress in spiritual practice. As he told his son, Rahula, the ability to recognize one’s mistakes and admit them to others is the essential factor in achieving purity in thought, word, and deed [MN 61]. Or as he said in the Dhammapada, people who recognize their own mistakes and change their ways “illumine the world like the moon when freed from a cloud” [Dhp 173].

    In addition to providing these incentives for honestly admitting misbehavior, the Buddha blocked the paths to denial. Modern sociologists have identified five basic strategies that people use to avoid accepting blame when they’ve caused harm, and it’s noteworthy that the Pali teaching on moral responsibility serves to undercut all five. The strategies are: to deny responsibility, to deny that harm was actually done, to deny the worth of the victim, to attack the accuser, and to claim that they were acting in the service of a higher cause. The Pali responses to these strategies are:

    (1) We are always responsible for our conscious choices.
    (2) We should always put ourselves in the other person’s place.
    (3) All beings are worthy of respect.
    (4) We should regard those who point out our faults as if they were pointing out treasure. (Monks, in fact, are required not to show disrespect to people who criticize them, even if they don’t plan to abide by the criticism.)
    (5) There are no — repeat, no — higher purposes that excuse breaking the basic precepts of ethical behavior.

    In setting out these standards, the Buddha created a context of values that encourages both parties entering into a reconciliation to employ right speech and to engage in the honest, responsible self-reflection basic to all Dhamma practice. In this way, standards of right and wrong behavior, instead of being oppressive or petty, engender deep and long-lasting trust. In addition to creating the external harmony conducive to Dhamma practice, the process of reconciliation thus also becomes an opportunity for inner growth.

    The Buddha admitted that not all disputes can be reconciled. There are times when one or both parties are unwilling to exercise the honesty and restraint that true reconciliation requires. Even then, though, forgiveness is still an option. This is why the distinction between reconciliation and forgiveness is so important. It encourages us not to settle for mere forgiveness when the genuine healing of right reconciliation is possible; and it allows us to be generous with our forgiveness even when it is not.

  63. Mythili says:

    Very touching article Jeyaraj Anna.I empathise with your feelings.Please continue writing to promote reconciliation and renaissance for us Tamils.

  64. Vathsala says:

    Dear DBS annan

    Thank you so much for this article.I read it the first time you wrote this but missed it the second time

    When I read it then the importance and value of what you had written did not impress me

    But now when I read it it did so.I realised the total sense and concern for the well-being of Tamil people you have and felt very very sorry for the Tamil plight today. I cried too.

    I share your feelings Annan. Only God can save us Tamils now. May God bless us all.

    Just one thing. I am not giving advise to you but please ignore idiots like S. Joseph. Dont waste your valuable time responding to people like him

  65. Dr Upul Kumara says:

    Dear Dr.Rajasingham Narendran,

    I do not know how to start this comment, all what I have to say is that I would shake your hand if you were near by, for you speak the truth of life! The very truth that existed in this world for the last billion years and I regard that as the basis of our existence. The very simple truth that all people would easily forget irrespective of their race, color or religion. I as a Sinhalese has no pride for being one, the only pride I have is I follow Buddhism, the very simple truth. I am pretty sure it is the same simple truth the Hinduism teaches.
    There have been enough so called leaders (Rascals in my honest opinion) in both nations, to drag us to this juncture and we are responsible for this sorry state of affairs today. Apart from changing myself I am helpless, and as Dilshan F said in his comment, I would never treat a Tamil any different to me my self. And I would show my kids how to appreciate others in the community irrespective of their color race or religion.

  66. tamil says:

    poor prabakaran drawn into myth of tamil nationalism not knowing that tamils were castiest people.he had to fight castiesm through sinhala chauvinism.most of vellala caste didnt support him

  67. Administrator says:

    testing

  68. Justin says:

    Hi DBSJ

    A very thought provoking article. I can understand the brickbats and criticisms you would’ve faced when this original article was published !!

    I do want to ask you few questions on those lines: During the 80′s I think you were against the Indian intervention and the IPKF’s misdeeds and were for a separate state. Can you please tell us what event or event(s) were the turning point in changing your opinion against the tigers? Was it the Rajiv Gandhi assassination? Any specific information on this would be helpful. In some of your past articles you had mentioned that you were working with Kittu and also with Anton Balasingham in going for a negotiated settlement. Can you please throw some light on what happened to those efforts. I read elsewhere that Shankar & Tamil Selvan sabotaged and betrayed Balasingham’s efforts. Is it true? Can you please englighten on these events as well as the rivalry between Shankar/Tamil Selvan with Balasingham?

    Thankyou.

  69. afool says:

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:
    May 5, 2012 at 9:35 am

    “Karuna once said that when he questioned VP on why he wanted to retake Jaffna, the answer was, ” Anga thaan karakkalaam” (We can only milk there), meaning garnering more money from a timid people! Tamil society by its very nature was incapable of exerting any moral control or restraint on the LTTE.”
    _____________________________________________________________________________________________

    Dr Narendren!

    * Karuna said it according to his convenient, at that time, after many years working with Prabaharan without questioning, because by saying that he wanted to undermine Prabaharan?
    * You wanted to believe Karuna here at this point only, for your convenient because it will add value to you argument?

    These are people and this is their nature. This is the reason, I rarely have any slightest respect for people, (especially for Tamils) except for people like Buddha, Jesus or Gandhi, who first did self-experimentation (soul searching) before going on to advise (did they even advise other people?) other people.

  70. Seelan says:

    This is very constructive article very relevant before 2009. Now everything gone. It will be great if you write on future of Tamils Mr.DBS. I dont think tiger supporters will like it but you can try

  71. sjoseph says:

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says:
    While the grievances of the Tamils are genuine and unforgettable,if there is a genuine desire for reform in the GOSL and there are indications pointing to this

    ——

    What are the Genuine Grievances of SL Tamils and what are the GOSL indications (actions) pointing to resolve the grievances.

    Please be specific (list out in point form) and truthful in your response.

  72. Kanthan says:

    It was very good article when you wrote it first but I remember you got scolded as traitor by tiger people. Now they know the value of your warning but dont want to give you credit. Dont worry about them just keep writing your thinking.

  73. Dr.Rajasingham narendran says:

    afool,

    Please explain the circumstances under which Karuna left the LTTE? Did this have something to do with the demand to recruit more cadres from the east and the plans to regain Jaffna? Did this have anything to do with the disaffection of the eastern cadres that their position within the LTTE did not match the sacrifices they had made.

    What Karuna did thereafter is not the issue now. When we talk of Karuna, we should take what he did for the LTTE before, why chose to quit and why he chose to do what he did, into account. Further, who knew VP more, you or Karuna? Because he joined the government and helped defeat the LTTE, he cannot be accused of lying! I remember the time, especially after he led the assault on Elephant pass and overran the entire military complex, he was a great hero to many like you!

    Joseph,

    Vidiya vidiya Ramar kathai, vidinthappolay Ramrukku Seethai enna murai ( After listening to the Rama story the whole night, someone had the temerity ask how Seetha was related to Rama, in the morning)!

    Sutriyum, sutriyum Suppanda Kollaiyilay ( Despite going round and round, yet in Suppan’s backyard)!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  74. sjoseph says:

    Dr.Rajasingham narendran,

    Srilankan Tamil conflict need matter of facts- not beating about the bush , philosophy and Kattu kadhaigal.

  75. sjoseph says:

    correction: *beating around the bush

  76. sjoseph says:

    SL Tamils conflict is conisdered by some people as a local issue between Tamils living within srilanka and GOSL. Hence their viewpoint is that as long as the basic needs (food, shelter and cloth) of local Tamils are satisfied, the conflict can be resolved once for all.

    The truth is that, this conflict has become an international issue, due to its prolonged nature (> 50 years), Liberation movement spearheaded by militants, loss of 100,000 innocent lives, killing of 40,000 in the last one year of war, forced displacements of 1,000,000 (refuges/asylum/migration) SL Tamils worldwide.

    There are 100 million non Srilankan Tamils, living worldwide including India/malaysia/Singapore/South Africa are also affected emotionally in this conflict and have become stakeholders.

    I believe, DBSJ himself was one of the victims of this conflict. DBSJ is also writing about this conflict, though he is no more living in Srilanka.

    International community like European countries, USA , China are also involved politically and on humanatarian grounds in this conflict.

    So, simplified statements such as GOSL is genuinely concerned about building houses and provide free meals to SL tamils will not end the conflict.

    The devolution of power to SL Tamils must be in fully acceptable terms to all parties concerned, (Mainly local SL Tamils and SL Tamil diaspora) and generally to all Tamils and IC community worldwide.

    The conflict will not end unless, GOSL take genuine steps in the spirit of resolving all the issues addressed by TNA now and concerns expressed by SL Tamils over the past 50 years.

    The absence of Genuine actions by GOSL, only proves that LTTE was in the right path to demand Eelam, despite its failure to achieve it due to various reasons.

  77. Dr.Rajasingham narendran says:

    Joseph,

    If what is said is different from what you believe in it is ‘Kattukathaikal (fabricated stories)’! What you believe in is clear from your sentence,”The absence of Genuine actions by GOSL, only proves that LTTE was in the right path to demand Eelam, despite its failure to achieve it due to various reasons.” You have the right to believe in what you dove, but please be receptive to at least listen to what others say and believe that the others are also honest in their intentions.

    The disease affecting the Tamils and its aetiology is well understood and has been discussed for decades from many angles. However, the medicine and the drastic surgery prescribed by the doctors at various stages of our history was wrong, including that of Dr. LTTE. The patient has been taken to the brink- almost to the point of terminal coma!

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  78. sjoseph says:

    However, the medicine and the drastic surgery prescribed by the doctors at various stages of our history was wrong, including that of Dr. LTTE. The patient has been taken to the brink- almost to the point of terminal coma!

    ———-
    Dr RN,

    The medicine and the surgery prescribed may be wrong- however the disgnosis is right.

    Indian Tamils have listened to the fabricated stories about devolution of power for the past 3 years, and SL tamils for 50+ years.

    Twice in recent times, we have seen the the denial statement by GOSL following the meeting of Indian delegates Krishna and Sushma Swaraj with Rajapakse, on their agreement on devolution of power.

    One party is telling the lies.. Whom do you trust, proves who you are..

    The condition of the patient does not affect only the patient, in this case the local SL Tamils. It affects all the 100 million Tamils worldwide.

  79. afool says:

    Dr Narendran!

    May be you did not understand my point.!

    A) The only person who will always speak the truth is a person who has integrity. Is Karuna is a person of integrity? What-ever Karuna did for the LTTE is not the debating point here. OK, let me put it this way. Douglas Devananda, Karuna and many others like them took-up arms in their hands to fight against the Srilankan injustices against us the Tamils? What-ever happened to them by the LTTE, was no way an excuse for them, to say, that the in-just Srilankan government suddenly become a just government to join the government and start praising the oppressive state. How can persons like them expect to speak the truth and you want to bring their quotes as gospel truths here?

    B) Secondly, and most importantly, when a person joins the LTTE organisation, they are asked to undertake an oath. Among many, one important undertaking is, that a cadre has the right to leave the movement, but at all time he/she is forbidden, to start another movement, join another movement or in any way work against the movement and so on. If any one found to be in breach of that most important condition is liable to be punished by death.

    C) Finally, in the begining, an 8th form leaver, who had earned the admiration of mostly educated boys and made them to follow him with-out questioning and built a strong organisation, which was recognised by any world powers, and you want to call him a joker and not a genuine person who didn’t have any consideration for the Tamils?

  80. Dr Upul Kumara says:

    afool,

    Your comments show the person you are and your kind, the LTTE kind. Admiration for a terrorist? who did nothing but killing and terrorizing the sri lankan nation; we do not need people like you now mate, what we need is reconciliation, not hatred and bragging about how a terrorist terrified a nation. Who says that LTTE is composed of ” mostly educated boys” any way?

    Sjoseph,

    As long as you think that you are not a Sri Lankan, but a Tamil, like the all the other Tamils around the world; you will always be unhappy no matter what, Until you get your so called ealam( after which you’ll keep the trouble for border fights and so on). We do not need a solution for 100 million Tamils around the world mate,( Coz they are not Sri Lankan) We do not need a solution to satisfy the so called diaspora who fed the LTTE to terrorize the entire country and run a killing spree, We need reconciliation for the Tamils affected during the war. You did not fight the war mate, you were no where to be seen, but behind a computer writing stupid comments. It was poor people who suffered the most. To feed your and the likes’ ego.

    Enough is enough and this will never end so long as people like you think like this. What we need is a some sort of paradigm shift for people like you to focus on the problems at hand rather than the never ending ealam struggle.

    Have a nice day!

  81. afool says:

    Dr Upul Kumara says:
    May 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    “We do not need people like you now mate, what we need is reconciliation, not hatred”

    Sir!

    Reconciliation without justice been served? I thought, above you said, you are Buddhist? Where there is justice, there is no need of even re-conciliation because there will be no animosity between societies. But, you are talking about peace without justice. FORGET IT.

    NB- In South-Africa, people confessed of their crimes and asked for forgiveness. Here, your people are denying any crimes and behaving like no crimes were committed. It is fun when you say, we need reconciliation only. It shows, which type of person you are.

  82. Dr Upul Kumara says:

    afool,

    Reconciliation is to compose or to settle, to bring in to agreement or harmony,

    Justice is needed for all the Sri Lankans affected by the 30 years war! I belong to the community mate, that is Sri Lankan people, I do not look their race or color or wealth when I treat them mate, I look in to the fact that what made them sick. I am sickened by your comments here. When you say “your people are denying any crimes” Who exactly are you referring to? If you are referring to the common Sri Lankan politicians( be it Thamil, Sinhalese or Muslims) You just insulted me saying they are my people. As I am not part of them. I clearly distinguish myself from thugs and I am not part of any politics. Did you just categorize me as part of common Sri Lankan Politicians because I said I am a Buddhist? My worry is innocent people, and they are the ones who suffer most in this, irrespective of what community they belong.

    Remember all the communities suffered from the war and all the crimes committed by various factions, including the LTTE. Who is apologizing for the crimes committed by the LTTE now mate? Are you or any of the diaspora hiding behind the computers and spending money to run chaos in the community?
    Are you apologizing for the killing of the tamils by LTTE mate? let alone other communities.

  83. Thamizh says:

    LTTE are not ‘cats’ but “TIGERS”

  84. sjoseph says:

    I belong to the community mate, that is Sri Lankan people, I do not look their race or color or wealth when I treat them mate, I look in to the fact that what made them sick

    -
    lol.

  85. cuttige says:

    The difference between afool, Mahesh & sjoseph with Dr RN is like cow dung to milk.

    We know even when we smell from far what is cow dung !

    They keep commenting and we keep smelling the dung and avoiding even to read their worthless 2 cents of comments.

  86. afool says:

    Cuttige!

    You have put me, Mahesh and sjoheph in one basket. That, displays your unlimited ignorance.

  87. cuttige says:

    Which basket do u belong to afool? the swine shit basket??

  88. afool says:

    “cow dung”,”swine shit”!!!!!. Good words to identify yourself. Why don’t you come out of that waste-den and become a clean decent gentleman, cuttige?

  89. cuttige says:

    afool,

    no other good words to describe you who keep insulting a decent gentleman like Dr. R. Narendran.

  90. Dr Upul Kumara says:

    Cuttige,

    I am not trying to teach you anything, but if you start huffing and puffing even before the conversation starts, it ends up in dissatisfaction and anger for both parties and there will be no solution. ( this is one of the main problems in SL politics today, too many people huffing and puffing and the poor majority suffering from all sides) I agree with afool that you could use civilized language when comments are made on a public forum. Please do not misunderstand me, but I think afool was right when he requested you to use better language, not that I approve his tone when he did it though.

    We should use these forums to discuss, not to mud sling, unfortunately some times feelings get in the way and screw everything up!

  91. shankar says:

    DBSJ,You have analysed things very well in this article.It is absolutely brilliant,but i think may 2008 was too late anyway.The LTTE’s decline had started and nothing could have stopped it even if they had belatedly listened to your advice.Fonseka was determined to kill them one by one,even if it meant only one per day,so it was too late for any negotiations.Even if you had written this article in 2003,the LTTE leaders who have a lot of pig fat in their fatheaded brains would have scoffed and ridiculed you and labelled you as a traitor.

    I don’t agree with one thing that you said,which was that only if they had changed track a bit,the tamils would have been better off today.With fat headed characters like that who suffer from a terrible inferiority complex,all the remaining educated tamils would have been finished off like what pol pot did to the intelligentisia of cambodia.You would have found doctors working as labourers.So elimination of the LTTE was the only solution for the tamils to recover and prosper again,albeit little by little.After all we are a resilient people and we will do it,like the germans and japs.When everything is flattened you can start building again with a proper foundation,whereas if the LTTE was still having influence,you can’t.

    I also liked the comments of Dr.Upul kumara who seems to be a new entrant to this blog.I hope he and dias comment more and more in future because we can all learn something from them.