Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The dilemma of a moderate view, the Sri Lankan ethnic issue attitudes

To a Tamil, I am branded as a Sinhala chauvinist, and to a Sinhala person I am branded as an LTTE sympathizer, so therein lies the problem of growing up from the polarized issues. Having lived in the US and UK most of my growing up life, I have become used to this. As it appears to be normal, when it comes to expatriates of different religious or ethnic groupings, the issues get polarized and completely out of control. Reasoning and truth become the first casualty, and warped logic and unfounded ideas prevail.

Undoubtedly to some, my reasoning will also appear to be warped, based on my personal prejudices, but I am sincerely trying or attempting to find some common ground where we can find an acceptable arrangement to the current crisis. So let me first try and lay down my personal angle to this, knowing I can be persuaded to change my mind, if the arguments are persuasive.

I am Sinhala, with my paternal side hailing from a village in the Wanni, the true Wanni that is, in the Kurunegala District and not the made up one in the north. That is why my ancestors had a ge name of Wanninayaka. One of my ancestors represented the Kandyan people, or Udarata in the Legislative Council under the British rule, and further up the ladder, one was executed by the British, but I hasten to add, after more than 18 years of living in the UK, I bear no malice now to the descendents of the British for that act. One lesson I have learnt in life is that one should not hold descendents, be it families or nations responsible for the ills of their forefathers as then there is no limit to and end to hatred.

With regard to the LTTE, I understand the reasons for its formation, and I also, have concerns for the difficulty of its destruction, due to Diaspora, that cannot see reason. I just hope that time will see sense and a new order return. I also believe that genuine attempts were made by successive Sri Lankan governments and international intermediaries to find a solution, and cease their terror, and the ball was completely on the LTTE court, and they thrashed it outside the grounds. This left only one option for the Sri Lankan state, namely fighting and winning all the ground under LTTE control.

Due to the ferocity of the fighting and the ruthlessness of the LTTE psyche towards Tamils and Sinhala, and the barbarity of its actions in suicide bombings, and callous murders of dissenters, there was no option, but to fight to win, with no ceasefire. I must add that I DO NOT equate LTTE with Tamil citizens of this country, nor do I accept that they represent the will of the Tamil people living in Sri Lanka, but I do acknowledge that there is some element of sympathy for the bravado and fighting capability of the LTTE to take on the whole of the SL forces being completely out numbered and outgunned 100 to 1. I also hold the Diaspora directly responsible for the suffering of both the Sinhala and Tamil people throughout this conflict. I also hold the LTTE responsible for ethnic cleansing and genocide, as people of other races have been chased out like animals from the LTTE areas.

Now the war is over bar the shouting, I would sincerely want this state to be a responsible and participatory member of the United Nations, that can hold its own against larger states with respect, and it is that Moral Standard that I am holding the current administration to in my view.

All citizens must have equal rights under the law, the emergency should be lifted, a freer responsible press freedom permitted, and open dissent tolerated without fear of incarceration or death. That means the Police force requires more balance in how it deals with the citizenry both Sinhala and Tamil, and of course all races, and the Judiciary should not just be seen to be impartial, but also act in that way as well. I have not read the constitution, but if such rights are not enshrined, then they should.

I am sick and tired of people always pointing fingers at the wrongs of others when accused of some crime or wrong doing, so justifying their wrongdoing. Something is either right or wrong, but the attitude that somehow you are with the LTTE if you oppose the government, that is anathema to me. To have representatives of the government say things like that demeans their credibility and therefore the country’s credibility as they represent the views of an elected Government of a democracy.

I want a permanent solution, so that our descendents do not have to undergo the same trauma we have. I believe it will work, and I believe compromise is the art of the deal. I know many Sinhala friends who always say that the Sinhala people’s rights need to be protected and Buddhism preserved first and foremost, and anyone one can live here under that regime. However how would you feel if you are not one of them? If you say that’s tough, then you don’t want a permanent solution. You just want all non Sinhala and/or non Buddhist to own most of the assets of the country, but few other rights of belonging to a nation state. Representation in state jobs and a voice in administration should not be just for show. It has to be real and effective.


sittingnut said...

good post .
i don't agree with everything you said but most of it . and i have (vehemently )disagreed with you in the past on specific issues some of which you have indirectly addressed here. some not. good.

moderate is a relative term, depends on how you define the extremes, which are not fixed and then the middle.

quite part from that,
problem i have with some ppl's self styled "moderate" stand is that they do not articulate what their stand is clearly (unlike you here), even when prompted to do so.
a person cannot be "moderate" if he/she does not say where they stand on certain fundamental questions ( such as what to do with ltte? fight it, or appease it, or something else but clearly stated).
so when they criticize ppl who have taken a stand (say by actually fighting ltte or supporting fighting ) , they are being intellectually dishonest.

most ( almost all ) self styled "moderates" in sl blogosphere engage in this sort of cowardly dishonesty. "moderate", they certainly aren't .

so it is good to see a person taking a very defined stand.

DeeCee said...

good post!

Anonymous said...

Curious side questions - what makes one wanni real and one wanni artificial? are the two names related? is the inference that the one in the northeast is a copy of the one in kandy?

Anonymous said...

first the word Kandyan(covered by the kingdom) is a misnomer, as they refer to people even in Polonnaruwa.So Udarata is more appropriate. However North of the old Wanni that spread up to Puttlam was as far as people lived in large numbers. So I suppose the new basis was to refer to people up north beyond large clusters as the Wanni. I am not certain. Also remember that 100+ years ago few people lived North of Dambulla, except in Trinco and Jaffna. All of Polonnaruwa district had only 6 villages, with more elephants than humans.

Ratmale,Minneriya,Sri Lanka said...

I agree, the northwestern edge of the Kurunegala district, where the village was located, was probably referred to as the Wanni in those days, as there was little habitation in the kingdom beyond that.