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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2961

Lalins Column: Buglers then, fiddlers now

By Major General (Retd.) Lalin Fernando

Then they were the TNA. Now they are also ITAK. Then it was about the racial divide. Now is it about religion too? Then it was being a LTTE mouth piece for Eelam. Now it is about their own survival, being UNP toads and praying for federalism. Then the North voted for them. Now some of them are providing shooting practice for the same voters.

They talked about reconciliation when peace came but are flying kites that will stir the pot again. They were and are incorrigible hypocrites.

The TNA is now the flank guard of those collaborating with the US sponsored effort to set fire to the 1978 constitution. They say with their usual guile it is to prevent ’you know what happened before’. They support efforts to produce a ‘Federal’ replacement with a greater intensity than they supported the LTTE to attempt to have ‘Eelam (separate state). There is much affection between them and those who ridiculed the Forces covertly from Grandpass, Madawachchi, Thoppigala and cattle farms. Naturally.

The present ageing TNA leaders fighting senility, (their Chief Minister in the North wants them retired), say they want federalism. This many believe. They also say they are for ‘a united, undivided and indivisible country in the future’. That is rubbish. Who has forgotten their almost lifelong cheek to cheek flirtations with the terrorists and their call for a separate state - Eelam? They are devious past masters in pious verbiage and grand, empty gestures. Sampanthan in the role of a self appointed shepherd of a minority opposition in parliament may have forgotten that in 2012 he told his sheep that with terrorism failed they should now bide their time as the international community would give them what the terrorists failed to give. Within 3 years it appears it is being offered on a plate for services rendered. However the sheep no longer believe him. His support base has been usurped by his battling Chief Minister and is collapsing. The manipulating NGOs in Colombo are distressed.

‘We are promoting catastrophic policies, for only catastrophe- that is, the collapse of the ….. System- will clear the way for the new social order… every weakening of the system is good, very good for us and our … revolution (Gregor Strasser –Nazi Party radical 1929)

These calls come not from statesmen but politicians long known for playing to the gallery using any ethno religious differences for self preservation and selfish ends. It had cost 100,000 lives and has already attracted a new generation of criminally violent people. These politicians love to shadow box with invisible Southern devils to impress naïve white eyed foreigners. Their Chief Minister Wigneswaran appears to curse them. Neither does the EPRLF leader or Douglas Devananda (EPDP) trust them. TULF leader Anandasangaree who courageously and almost single handedly opposed the LTTE excoriates them. He is the one Northern leader who can lead marginalized people and whose efforts at reconciliation will have the support of Southerners. He has won their trust absolutely.

Were not the TNA members who avowed that the LTTE were the ‘sole representatives of the Tamils’ as culpable in the deaths of innocent Tamils including suicide cadres of the baby brigades led by death’s angel Adele Balasingham? There were over 50 executions of Tamil politicians like Alfred Duraiappa (1975), Armithalingam (1989), and Tiruchelvam (1999) Kadirigamar (2005). Did the TNA show remorse or regret?

The assassination (terrorist hand grenade attack) of A Thangathurai TULF MP in Trincomalie town when leaving after a party meeting needs recall. Was he not killed as he was for reconciliation? His rival until then was Sambandan who did not hesitate to step into the dead man’s sandals in 1997 and become an MP.

It followed as night by day that the TNA ‘subalterns’ naturally did nothing to persuade the LTTE to release the 300,000 Tamil hostages who were being forcibly kept as human shields in Mullativu. The hostages were for many months corralled in the Tiger’s den at Nandikadal in a non binding ‘No Fire Zone’ in 2008-9. Did the TNA coalesce, coordinate, conspire with or encourage the LTTE evil?

Whatever figure for conflict deaths is given by conjurers Sooka, Darusman and circus or contradicted with compelling proof by Lord Naseby, the TNA by proclaiming their total allegiance to the LTTE, share the responsibility for every single Tamil killed or wounded in Mullativu too.

We must be ruthless. We must regain our clear conscience as to ruthlessness (Hitler -speech 1932)

M Abraham Sumanthiran (Sum) TNA MP has laments that ‘our people’ overseas do not like to say they are Sri Lankan Tamils. Is this a tragedy or comedy? Who wants them to? That lot prefers to join baying and braying mobs in London and other places. He may suppress knowledge of ‘our people’ who fled the LTTE killer squads then. The latter came back happily as soon as peace dawned. Thousands of ‘unhappy’ people also came back to claim land and property and even fuel what is going on in the North now.

Were they when in SL like Sum and Sam deprived of anything that other Sri Lankans did not have? Did they who didn’t want to call themselves Sri Lankan not benefit from having free education from nursery to university and totally free health care and government jobs among other welfare benefits unmatched even in the West? ‘Sum’ from Vadamarchchi in Jaffna despite residential rules went to the premier government totally free Royal College in the elite Colombo 7 ward.

Many Tamils sadly left SL after 1983 ‘because of violence’. Most Tamils whatever they call themselves in the West, do come back regularly to visit relations , claim property, do business, invest, some even to rob the Central Bank ( by invitation) and the EPF(by bribing). A few did carry back incredible horror stories to periodically shock and entertain the gullible, cheap thrill seeking West, especially to counter Lord Naseby.

Sum has ignored those who went to India. Was it because they were poor or out caste?

Significantly those who would now lead ‘our people’ post ‘violence’ and in times of complete peace brought about by the Armed Forces, have shamelessly allied themselves with the top rungs of those very people who violated them mercilessly having declared ‘war’ on the Tamils during the communal riots in 1977 followed by 1981 and 1983. What price survival and outrageous hypocrisy?

TNA‘s history has been about playing mouth organs for anyone they thought they could hitch their wagons to. They now want a made in US factory fresh new constitution to make Sumanthiran (Sum) at least ‘first’ class. Sum, a Christian (Methodist) says ‘I am not a Buddhist and can’t be told that I am second class’. Who in SL ever said this before about anyone even little known Sum who rakes coals but declaims he is for reconciliation? Did anyone even in his church back his delayed revival? Did any Bishop? Sum continued that he is therefore against ‘a constitution that provides a particular religion with the foremost place’ and it therefore ‘can’t be a Constitution that treats all of its citizens as equals’.

Sum and Sam, both lawyers to boot, must know that it is the politicians and not the constitution that decides on ‘treatment’ of citizens- every time - from North to South. The ‘foremost place’ given to Buddhism was and is certainly not connected to any religious bigotry or power base. It was something guaranteed by the British in the Kandyan Convention in 1815. The British it was that deposed the last Tamil King of Kandy. How many countries post 2009 have more harmony among diverse religions and races than SL despite aberrations?

Did S&S who have done exceedingly well in life ever suffer a 2nd class encounter because of their faith? That doesn’t stop them from pussy footing with the GTF and Emmy or Emmanuel, the reincarnated false messiah stalking alleyways in Germany and worshipping the LTTE.

Have S&S and RW read Champika Ranawaka’s ‘Charge of the Lion Brigade’ published in 2009? They will see clearly that it is not the constitution but politicians who use race and religion to further their personal goals and create mischief. According to Ranawaka RW ‘showed his inherent hatred towards the Sinhalese and especially Sinhala Buddhists.Anti Buddhist elements around him were making hay while the sun was shining’ (pg 16).! Like all politicians, the two however gaily tripped along to temple on Wesak day 2017.

Buddhism like Hinduism is inclusive but it does not recognize class or caste or even race. Which class are Buddhists supposed to be? Surely it’s the Buddhists whether ‘first or no class’ or ‘foremost’ that are at the butt end of the majority of all government violence, virulently so, especially after elections. Who has heard of anyone, even a Buddhist being excused for any villainy and given privileges because of religion? Has lawyer Sum? Look at the prisons. What more could starkly show that by law there is no first class gets out of jail pass for anyone, far less Buddhists? Are Buddhists not like African Americans in being disproportionate government guests in prisons? Have Buddhists protested?

In 1988-9, 60,000 Buddhists were killed during the JVP rebellion. Were they 2nd or even 3rd class to the UNP government in power? There is no First, 2nd or 3rd class for any one in SL whatever his religion or race, however much anyone wishes to manufacture claims that excite the ‘white eyes’ community, mislead himself, or suddenly in old age hump imaginary crosses while in the South. Was Sum’s self awarded invisible 2nd class religious badge aimed at SL’s date with Geneva, visiting westerners or just another cheap political trick? There is nothing first, 2nd or 3rd class in SL except when travelling by train. Did Sum mistake the SLGR carriages for SL’s constitution?

Sum should have a look at the caste system that ‘our people’ in the North follow. Is there no high, middle, lower and out castes there? Are there no separate caste based wells, bathing spots, dress codes, bus seats and even burial grounds in the North? The caste factor weighs in the RC church as only Vellalas become Bishops. However blood donors in the North are predominantly soldiers who are mostly Buddhists. Here is one instance (blood donation) of the existence of a ‘foremost place’ given by Jaffna hospitals to Buddhists. Do S&S object?

‘ Sum’ may know why Velu P’s extra ordinarily brave but eventually decimated cadres were almost exclusively ‘low’ caste. Was this why the LTTE lacked total support among ‘our people’. Some high caste politicians purred not in the jungles of the Wanni but in the ease and comfort of their Colombo homes dreaming of top appointments in that elusive separate state – Eelam- that the LTTE promised and suffered for grievously. Astoundingly the complete destruction of the LTTE and 100,000 deaths have now fortuitously given S&S a glimmer of hope of Eelam - on a government of SL plate.

Have S& S forgotten how the LTTE that the TNA supported, massacred over 120 ‘foremost Buddhists’ and wounded 85 at prayer at the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura, another 12 at the Temple of the Tooth’ in Kandy and the nearly ‘lesser most’ 100 Muslims at prayers in Kattankudy in the East ? Was the constitution or the LTTE and its proxies to blame? Can S&S recall any similar cold blooded attacks on kovils or churches? Were the Buddhists not second or lesser class for the TNA’s sole representatives of the Tamils?

How can S&S ever be reconciled, peaceful or face the truth while fertilizing such beliefs? Their opposition ‘leadership’ only inflames ethnic and religious tensions to consolidate political power.

S&S need to be reminded how the Portuguese converted many coastal people with sword, knife, pike and axe, destroying temples and kovils, bayoneting infants and committing other bloody horrors to promote their religion. Even then in the South, there was no Sankily, a Hindu usurper in the North, to massacre Tamil Christians in revenge. So was it not prudent that this clause about the ‘foremost place’ was preserved in SL’s republican constitutions? Could it not have prevented a repeat of history? Was ‘Sum’ frightened of a Sankily revival but off loading on Buddhism?

S&S should also remember that Pope Pius XII did not condemn the Nazi’s extermination of Jews and other atrocities during WW2. His organization helped Nazi war criminals flee justice after that war. Can the TNA/ITAK say there was no such organization that helped LTTE war criminals to escape after the ‘Eelam’ conflict? Is it possible that with a little bit of caution and knowledge of history that the ‘foremost place’ is not impropriate for SL? The consequences of its removal could be politically unsettling to say the least.

However unremitting streams of Southern politicians dressed in pristine white seeking blessings from the Mahanayakes may have awoken and agitated dormant Sum post 2015. He is not alone. Neither are Buddhists amused by such empty, insincere, hypocritical displays of reverence and piety.

S&S have laboured to recall other cries for federalism at desultory meetings at the Pettah (Central) bus stand etc mainly because ‘all know what happened before’. Pettah is coincidentally exactly where the LTTE murdered 113 in a car bombing in April 1987. S&S have also avoided mentioning Colombo Josephian and Cambridge (UK) scholarship winner GG Ponnambalam’s infamous demand for a 50-50 sharing of government between the 35% minorities and 65% Sinhalese in the 1930s State Council. The over one million Indian (Up Country) Tamils however were not citizens then and even if they were, would not have been considered by GG and his ilk because of their caste. But the 50-50 disease is an incurable undercurrent that surfaces regularly in some form or another.

Finally S&S should now come clean at least on the following for the sake of sincerity if not truth, permanent peace, reconciliation and non recurrence they so reverentially desire:

(1)Why after accusing General Sarath Fonseka of being a war criminal did the TNA/ITAK vote for him at the Presidential elections in 2010?

(2) Why were Northern voters encouraged to desist from voting in 2005?

(3) Does their (S&S) survival depend on religious, communal and caste politics?

From the response their sincerity, if not duplicity, can be fathomed. The chances are that ITAK/TNA will never respond.

Let there NOT be another Eelamkrieg by silly and dangerous posturing of disregarded and obsolescent politicians. One of them coincidentally has like Mugabe lasted 37 years. Creating a nation of tribes will kill the nation. “You know what happened” will not happen again and will then hopefully disintegrate. The North like the fast developing East could then be prosperous and value true peace – like the rest of SL.

As Buddhism has not been exclusive in all its 2,560 years and in SL all religions have flourished for thousand years, despite depredations mainly by the Portuguese, no one should run around calling himself ‘2nd class’. If Sum however is called 2nd class or worse it could well be from some who knows him well. It will certainly not be because of the ‘foremost place’ granted in the constitution to Buddhism. The TNA has played fiddle sticks with its last card. Its disintegration will follow.

PS:This is the revised version of the News Commentary ”The Jaffna Corporals,” by Major General (Retd.) Lalin Fernando posted in Asian Tribune dated 12 12 2017

- Asian Tribune -

 Lalins Column:   Buglers then, fiddlers now
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