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Ranil Wickremesinghe and Rajavarothyam Sampanthan break 30 year communal barrier

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Ranil Wickremesinghe and Rajavarothyam Sampanthan at May Day procession in Jaffna, May 1, 2012-TamilWin pic

by Gamini Weerakoon

National Unity receives the backing of one and all—saints, sinners, racist killers, communal lovers, fanatics, rationalists and of course all types of politicians including those of the UPFA and UNP.

During and after the ’War’ every person who climbed a public platform did not fail to call for national unity. But amidst all this cacophony for national unity we failed to see any advocate pushing for it.

Everyone called for it but none did anything about it.Surprisingly Ranil Wickremesinghe and Rajavarothyam Sampanthan decided to hold a common May Day Rally in Jaffna and although May Day rallies are not held for purposes of national unity, this move did signify an attempt at initiating it.

The UNP of course was split on the move from the very beginning, as usual, its rump finding the death anniversary of late President Premadasa falling on the same day a valid excuse.

The Young Turks missed the bus in boycotting the Jaffna rally because what better opportunity could they have had in demonstrating their commitment to national unity than by going to Jaffna and holding a rally with Tamil leaders on the anniversary of the horrendous killing of their beloved leader?

To Sinhalese of most other political parties the call for national unity was a mere political shibboleth. It was a subject to be ignored or viewed cynically because their pet hate since Ranil Wickremesinghe was giving leadership to it. This indicated that petty politics took precedence over a vital issue concerning the future of the nation.

Some government leaders resorted to their latest reflex action on the Jaffna rally. ‘They can go to Jaffna and hold rallies because we won the ‘War’ was their stupid contention.

Who won the ‘War” ? Whether it was the tens of thousands of poor boys who died n the sands of the Vanni, Batticaloa and Jaffna for 30 years or whether it was General Sarath Fonseka who led them into battle?

Let history decide. Mahinda Rajapaksa did give the political leadership in the final years of the ‘ War’. But for nincompoops in government ranks who had not stepped into a battlefield to claim that they won the ‘War’ is a preposterous claim. The history of a 30 year ‘war ‘will have its heroes, villains and cardboard generals. History will decide who was responsible for victory.

For government politicians to claim responsibility for victory and then say that every other move made after the war is feather in their cap makes them the stupid fools they are turning out to be in the eyes of the public. It is like a a doctor who saves the life of a patient or a lawyer who saves the neck of a client claiming credit for every subsequent creditable action of their clients or patients.

Holding a political rally in Jaffna and making Sinhalese supporters to travel there is by no means and easy task. State owned buses at hiring rates on the payment of a ‘never-never basis’ as is the privilege of ruling parties and not of the opposition parties. Yet the rally turned out to be a success even though some government owned TV channels showed some of the participants carrying LTTE flags. Perhaps some Sri Lankan TV channels may have learnt some camera tricks from BBC’s Channel 4.

The crowning moment came when the Leader of the Tamil National Alliance Sampanthan together with Ranil Wickremesinghe carryng the national flag. It was certainly a momentous occasion which could turn out to be a historic occasion if moves towards national unity progresses, as it did that day.

Here was the leader of the largest Tamil party who has for years supported the LTTE as being the sole representatives of the Tamil carrying the National Flag and declaring that he stood for a United Sri Lanka

Sampanthan clarified the stand of the TNA in parliament. He said: ‘Give us equality to our people, make our people as equals, give them political power everywhere. We are prepared to be integrated into the nation but not be assimilated’.

These are actions and words that some Tamil and Ranil baiters cannot bear to see and hear.

Some saw this joint rally as one of political opportunism. Indeed all such open public demonstrations of unity for honourable causes are of mutual political benefits for both parties. The history of political coalitions in Sri Lanka be it the MEP with the SLFP under S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike, the LSSP ntellectuals swinging on the Saree ‘pota’ of Sirima, the Chelvanayakam-Dudley Senanayake Agreement or Philip Gunwardene teaming up with Dudley Senanayake have certain elements of mutual political opportunism and Wickremesinghe and Samanpthan too would have seen immediate political benefits for both parties. But selling out of birth rights etc which endangered political interests speculate on need not be there.

The manner in which the SLFP under Chandrika and under Mahinda coalesced with the JVP has enough evidence of political opportunism which critics of the Jaffna rally prefer not to see.

The question has been asked whether Sampanthan would shed away all his previous political agreements and commitments when he declares he is for a united Sri Lanka. That need not be. There are enough examples of revolutionaries or supporters of revolutions reaching agreements with bitter enemies such as the IRA and the Ulster Unionists where participants did not declare forsaking the beliefs they fought for but declared their commitments the said agreements.

Do the critics sincerely want Sampanthan to declare his contriteness publicly and forsake his past beliefs? Such demands were not made of JVP leaders when the SLFP and UPFA merged despite the ghastly murders of those near and ear to leaders of both sides.

Sampanthan has declared his support for a United Sri lanka. But the President Rajapaksa is stutterimg about the alleviatin of grievances of the Tamils.

Ranil wickremesinghe and Sampanthan has broken through a 30 year old communal barrier. Do others have the the wisdom and the guts to follow through? courtesy: The Sunday Leader

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  1. It is so true that Rajapakshe regime ( brothers and relatives monopolized the high position is only worrying about making money. Never proposed the solution to the minority.

    After the LTTE era ( claimed victory) they failed to capitalise the political climate. Poor people cannot survive due to the price hike in essential items .

    demotion of UN representative, Jaffna GA ( virtual high position)

    bringing people like Mervyn De Silva ( Public relation minister!!)

    Former terrorist and murderer and the rapist Karuna ( deputy Rehabilitation minister)

    Pillian ( does not know experienced the shadow of the school!)

    and the minister like Douglus Devananda and co ( killing of school girls and innocent tamil people and blamed as LTTE)

    Now using 150 tigers in Trinco ( Ghost story !!) and using Buddhist monks to teach Muslims a lesson ( since Muslims are success in business after post war scenario ).

    killing the people who returned back to Sri Lanka to invest money and rebuild the country ( recent killing in Killinochchi showed )

    Despite of censorship , people are well educated now. more and more people will immigrate to other countries. Brian drain to continue and becoming Somalia soon.

  2. It was Un-equal war by the numbers and firepower. ten’s of thousands rebels fighting
    against over 100,000 conventional army. Finaly 30 years after killed over 40,000
    innocent civilians and claiming ‘War has been won’ is laughable.Breaking International Peace accord with Norway and systematically attacked hospitals,
    risticting Food ,Medicine and distroyed Tamil community now classified as ‘Criminal War’. Honesty Civil War never had been won by GOSL.All illusion that Mahintha or Sarath cheating Sinhalese by “War victory” .

  3. Sampanthan waving national flag would not make national unity .
    That is a TOP to BOTTOM social theory.
    It never works.
    It will only lead to elimination of not only Sampanthan but also TNA too from political arena which would lead to more hard line leadership in to success.

    What should happen is
    BOTTOM to TOP process .
    Educating Sinhala and Tamil masses should happen.
    Ranil should talk about it among Sinhala masses.

    Tamil people SHOULD be made to feel they are equal.
    Current events on the ground are doing the right opposite .
    IF this trend continues UNITY will only become a day dream

  4. This by Gamini Weerakoon is by far a better article towards unity in this island than the one wrote by Mr SL Gunasekara. His attempt to distort the significance of such gesture that Mr Sampanthan waving Lions flag prompted me to make a comment about southerners lack of understanding about the real problem the Tamils have been facing. However, I should have said , it was not to mean every one but onlt those hardliners and others who pretends to be moderate but harder than the honest hardliners.

    Mr Weerakoon thank you for providing the significance this gesture deserves, and writing. To promote unity, every one needs to share their contributions towards. One way to do is to educate people who are prepared to learn. It is a collective voice we are after here. To move forward, it is imperative that we find a lasting resolution for the long standing standing issue within the united SL.

  5. ”30-year” communal barrier ?

    The ”barrier” was created from within months of the independence.

    Some may have forgotten the pogroms unleashed on the Tamils in the 50s/60s/70s.

    Some people are obviously referring to the reaction of the LTTE in the ”30 years” and conveniently forget/hide the previous 30 years that created the ”30 years”.

    The conflict has gone on for more than 64 years and has not yet ended: army of occupation controlling all aspects of life of the occupied: civil adminstration, freedom of association, freedom of expression, oppression of political freedom by NOT holding NP Council elections, NO power to elected EP council, economic progress curtailed by military-run businesses, HSZ farming by Sinhalese, control on fishing, coastal areas encroached by Sinhalese with the help of army camps, Presidential Task Force carrying out unsustainable development, killing people claiming their land from occupying army, ….

  6. Tamil Tiger propagandas still hold a “40,000”. What is that? Is it include the number of dead LTTE?

    If the UNP celebrate next May Day in the South with Sambanthan, we can believe some change!

  7. Top to bottom of Bottom Top, it is the duty of leaders to lead with vision breaking all barriers of race, language and religon. A country disunited with players pulling in different directions can never succeed whilst a nation united in vision and mission can succeed. The agent of change plays a crucial role in breaking through taboos, paradigms and obstacles.
    It is creditable that Ranil and Sampanthan have chosen the path of a united Sri Lanka. The Govt of Mahinda Rajapakse would do well to take the cue and step together to forge a united Sri Lanka. Throw all those notions of superior race and religon into the dustbin where it belongs.

  8. HA this unholy pact is similar to the … NAZI – SOVIET PACK….. AND WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT ENDED..

  9. Unfortunately, the majority sri lankans know that this is only a political stunt. The only way for TNA to convince the Sinhala majority that they are genuinely interested in a united sri lanka is to make a open resolution denouncing Ealam, the LTTE, and proposing genuine devolution within a united sri lanka. As long as the TNA thinks “OK let’s do 13+ for now, and hit Ealam someday”, remember that the Sinhalese will also think that and will oppose any devolution and kick out any party (Ranil or MR )which attempts it through the back door. To think that any one of them (MR or Ranil) will commit political suicide for the Tamil cause is daydreaming.

  10. These two parties were instrumental in taking the country down the path of death and distruction. Now that the harm done can not be undone,wonder if it is in them to atleast rectify some of the mistakes they did.

  11. [We are prepared to be integrated into the nation but not be assimilated’.]

    A significant statement by sampanthan. He is going in the right direction at last.

    Integration is the best thing for the tamils of srilanka.As DBSJ said their destiny is inexorably intertwined with that of the sinhalese.As such seperation as opposed to integration will create in the future more problems for the tamils than it will reduce.Seperation is a loss loss situation for both communities whereas integration is a win win one for both.I hope both steadfastedly and diligently work towards it.It will take time but will be worth it and the future generations of both communities will thank their elders one day for setting the country in the correct direction.

    As for assimilation,it has already happenned over 2000 years with two branches of the same people living on a small island and intermingling.One branch wanted to retain its religion and language while the other wanted to change it to bhuddhism and sinhala which is a prakrit language.The tamils are the closest relatives of the sinhalese with 55% shared DNA.If integration is pursued instead of assimilation in another 1000 years it will become 90%.

    If on the other hand impatient sinhalese like samarasekera want instant assimilation like instant noodles,it will only result in separation by a beleaguered people trying to retain their identity.

  12. shankar says:
    May 27, 2012 at 10:00 pm
    [We are prepared to be integrated into the nation but not be assimilated’.]

    A significant statement by sampanthan. He is going in the right direction at last.

    Integration is the best thing for the tamils of srilanka.As DBSJ said their destiny is inexorably intertwined with that of the sinhalese.As such seperation as opposed to integration will create in the future more problems for the tamils than it will reduce.Seperation is a loss loss situation for both communities whereas integration is a win win one for both.


    The Ilankai Tamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK), the main constituent of the Tamil National Alliance — the lone credible representative of Tamil people in the Northern Province — has refused to revisit its constitution, which seeks the establishment of a separate state, at its 14th national convention in the Eastern headquarter town of Batticaloa.


    Do you believe he walks his talk? He is a political animal …like all our political elders who destroyed our lives and our youth and our future.

    Don;t believe in politics or politicos…. they’v been deceiving us now for too long….

  13. TRN

    I agree with you that it can be quite confusing.On one hand he is waving the srilankan flag and on the other hand he is having a constitution that has seperation as one of its goals.

    I believe,sampanthan missed an opportunity to revisit the constitution and modify it.He could have changed it to”in the event of a satisfactory political solution to the ethnic issue,we would pursue the goal of a seperate state” or something to that effect,making the political solution the priority. Then he is creating an exit strategy for the tamils out of the eelam issue.

    I think he is too old and feeble to take on tamil hardliners.The photo in this article bodes no good for his longevity.The yet robust mahinda must try to help him overcome these hardliners.I noticed that recently they have one to one talks without sampanthan bringing anybody else.I don’t mind if he brings sumanthiran to help out on legal issues,but the others no.This bodes well for the future,as too many cooks will spoil the soup.I think sampanthan is finding it difficult to extricate himself out of the soup he went in to.

    Your point is very valid.As long as the ITAK has this seperation as one of its goals in their constitution,the sinhalese are going to mistrust them.As dias once said,the absence of trust seems to be vey critical.I don’t know how they are going to sort ths out.Maybe mahinda must take the initiative and help out sampanthan and coax him out of having that constitution and shooting himself in the foot.Mahinda can put a deal with him,wherein he will give a sweetener in exchange for modification to the constitution. This will help the sinhalese a lot because whenever outside forces talk of seperation,mahinda can point out that the tamils in srilanka don’t want it.For that i think he has to create the conducive environment.

  14. I made a mistake.Instead of “we would pursue the goal of a separate state” it should be “we would not pursue”

  15. Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Parliamentary Group leader Rajavarothiam Sampanthan said yesterday that the LTTE was a terrorist outfit which killed Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala leaders and its destruction was inevitable owing to the path it took.
    Participating in the committee stage debate on budget 2013, under the Defence Ministry heading, Rajavarothiam Sampanthan : “The LTTE was not created by Tamils but by successive governments in the country. There were legitimate reason for the LTTE to emerge, that was why it became a terrorist organization and started killing Tamil, Muslim and Sinhalese leaders and civilians. You call us LTTE proxies. Do you call us LTTE proxies because we did not get killed by the LTTE?
    “Nobody destroyed the LTTE. They destroyed themselves by not adhering to democracy and human rights. My late colleague Lakshman Kadirgamar was largely responsible for getting international support against the LTTE. If he was alive today, he would be horrified to see what is happening in post war Sri Lanka.
    “The 30 year war is over and the Tamil people want to put it behind them and move on with their lives.
    “There is a belief that Tamils do not want the army in the North and East. It is not right. We have never said we don’t want the army in the North and East”
    “What is wrong in a Tamil mother lighting a lamp to remember her dead son. What is wrong in remembering those who died in war? The JVP commemorates their heroes day and nobody complains about it. It is a fundamental right that one can remember.”

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