History rejects Tamil-NGO politics of Jehan Perera
Hate speech comes in various shades of lies. It is the curse that haunts current of global politics. It runs from white supremacists in America to the boot-end of New Zealand. On the way to New Zealand it has linked up with Tamil supremacists and their NGO agents in Sri Lanka. Some lies are blunt like the Tamil extremists who passed a resolution in the Northern Provincial Council branding the democratically elected states since independence (1948) as instruments of Sinhala genocidal criminals. This is not only a lie that contradicts historical facts but also hate speech coming from the highest level of Tamil politics. It is a prime example of distorting history to demonise the Sinhala-Buddhists as the implacable and inveterate enemies of the Tamils.
History, however, tells a different tale. History says that (1) practically all elected states, with one or two exceptions, consisted of Cabinet ministers drawn from the minority communities and were supported by one or the other leaders of minority parties, including G. G. Ponnambalam and S. J. V. Chelvanayakam and (2) of the 71 years of independence, Jaffna and some adjacent parts of the nation were under Tamil Pol Potist gun of Velupillai Prabhakaran for 34 years. So on the norm of collective responsibility, if the democratically elected states were guilty of genocidal acts then the responsibility should be shared by a collective of all community leaders and just not the Sinhala leaders.
History also tells us that “the Sinhala state” (Tamil terminology to denigrate the democratically elected state as a racist instrument) cannot be held responsible for the genocidal killings of Tamils by Tamils when North was under the rule of Velupillai Prabhakaran. He began his career by assassinating an unarmed Tamil civilian, Alfred Duraiyappah, the Mayor of Jaffna, on July 27, 1975 for not toeing the mono-ethnic extremism that rejected pluralism, liberalism and democratic politics. Duraiyappah was also the Jaffna organiser of the SLFP. Tamils who advocated diversity, pluralism and liberalism were gunned down without mercy. This was the only way that Prabhakaran could maintain his myth of being “the sole representative of the Tamils”. His Pol Potist cult was based on mono-ethnic extremism rejecting peaceful co-existence with the “other”.
Hating the “other” –- even a dissident Tamil –- was the unrelenting tactic that determined and sustained the intransigent politics of Prabhakaran. It was his bitter anti-“other” politics, legitimised by the Tamil supremacist ideology contained in the Vadukoddai Resolution (1976) , that satiated the Tamil appetite for violence against the “other” – i.e, Sinhalese, Muslims, Tamil dissidents etc. His ruthless tactic of killing the “other” made him the most hero-worshipped icon in the Tamil culture of hate. He like Sankili, who massacred 600 Tamil Catholics on the Christmas’ eve of 1544 for owing allegiance to the King of Portugal, demanded total obedience to his will. Prabhakaran inherited the Sankili culture of killing dissident Tamils and the “other”. And he took to the Sankili culture as if it was his mother’s milk. His sole weapon to impose his fascist will was to kill Tamils who refused to pay homage to him. And the more he killed the more the elated Tamils rushed to fund his violence.
He never stopped killing as long as he was alive. It stopped only on May 19, 2009 when his body was found floating in Nandikadal. He ended his futile war by shooting and bombing the Tamil civilians running away from him seeking shelter in the camps opened up by the Security Forces. So for 34 years – from the first shot fired by Prabhakaran to assassinate Alfred Duraiyappah (1975) to the last shots fired at Tamil civilians fleeing the futile Vadukoddai War (2009) – peninsular politics slipped from the hands of the traditional leaders which consisted exclusively of Saivite Jaffna Vellalas (SJVs) and fell into the grip of gun-toting Tamil Pol Potists. The elitist SJVs embraced the new breed of Pol Potists lovingly as their “boys”. Reason: the SJVs had pushed mono-ethnic politics to the extreme end and they had nowhere to go except to the “boys” who were urged to take the guns to achieve the elusive Eelam. The “boys” were the SJVs last hope. They were waiting in the wings hoping that the children of their Vadukoddai Resolution would wrest Tamil Eelam from the hated Sinhalese and deliver it into their hands,
Hate politics inculcated into the minds of the Tamils took an unexpected turn when the “boys” first turned their guns against the fathers of the Vadukoddai Resolution. “Thanthai” (Father) S. J. V. Chelvanayakam, who went through every word of the Resolution and endorsed it, escaped the wrath of Prabhakaran only because he died before the “boys” got fully organised with the power of the gun. But “Thanthai’s” successor, Appapillai Amirthalingam was gunned down in his home in Colombo. The militarised gun culture of Jaffna reduced the Tamils to be obedient worshippers of Prabhakaran. His killings surpassed even that of his guru Sankili. S. C. Chandrahasan, son of S.J. V. Chelvanayakam, is on record saying that Prabhakaran had killed more Tamils than the others put together.
This was confirmed by V. Ananadasangaree, Leader of the TULF, who repeated Chandrahasan’s statement and added that the Tamils were given the democratic right to protest when Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike opened the Jaffna University but he can’t even step into Jaffna under their “liberator” Prabhakaran. He wiped out the entire Tamil leadership of Jaffna to make him “the sole representative of the Tamils”. So who has been the genocidal killer of Tamils? Clearly history debunks the toxic anti-Sinhala-Buddhist propagandists who are bent on deifying the most bestial killer of Tamils, beating even Sankili.
Coincidentally, with the rise of Tamil Pol Potism came the Vadukoddai Resolution which was passed unanimously by the Jaffna Tamil leadership aimed at three main objectives: (1). declaring war to achieve Eelam by denouncing non-violent politics in the democratic mainstream; (2) endorsing the weaponising of peninsular politics and (3) the militarisation of Tamil youth, mostly the poor low-castes as the privileged SJV youth were sent overseas. The new breed of low-castes tasted power for the first time with the kalashnikov in their hands. The rest, of course, is history.
The war-mongering Vadukoddai Resolution provided the necessary ideological justifications to accelerate and sustain Prabhakaran’s brutal violence which was waged against anyone who opposed him, including the Tamils and the Indians who gave him succour. He never stopped killing Tamils even in his last days. He ended his futile war by shooting and bombing the Tamil civilians running away from him seeking shelter with the Security Forces. In short, he began and ended his career by killing Tamils. The guns fell silent on May 19, 2009 when his body was found floating in the Nandikadal Lagoon.
So for 34 years – from the first shot fired at Alfred Duraiyappah to the last shots fired at Tamil civilians fleeing from his failed state – the gun-culture of Prabhakaran ruled Jaffna and the Tamils in general. He rejected the international and national peace deals without providing any alternative to restore peace, security or Eelam to the Tamils. He, along with the Tamil leadership that legitimised violence in the Vadukoddai Resolution, has to bear the responsibility of waging a war that took the Tamils only into the muddy depths of Nandikadal. It was futile war driven by his bloated and insane ego that led the Tamils into a dead-end. So who has been the genocidal killer of Tamils?
It is against this background that Jehan Perera’s statement accusing the “majority” (he means Sinhala-Buddhists) of not creating a culture of pluralism, diversity and liberalism should be tested. The acid test is recorded in history. It says that the “majority” fought the longest war in Asia within a democratic framework, however fragile it may have been. The “Sinhala state” provided security to the Tamil MPs and other Tamils hunted by Prabhakaran. The Tamil MPs were given the democratic right to oppose the “Sinhala state”. David Feng, an official of the UNICEF, commented that Sri Lanka is the only state that supplied medicine, food, welfare and non-military essentials, including payments to pensioners and government servants, to those living in a territory held by the enemies of the state. Besides, President Chandrika Kumaratunga offered the North and the East to Prabhakaran for him to run it for ten years without an election. Ranil Wickremesinghe signed the notorious Ceasefire Agreement virtually handing over the North and the East to Prabhakaran. The list is unending. Despite this historical evidence Jehan Perera joins the Tamil hate-mongers to demonise the South.
The North and the South consist of two distinct cultures. The Northern culture consisted of a closed society ruled by a feudalistic Hindu casteist hierarchy which first morphed into anti-Sinhala-Buddhist racism, and later, in the post-Vadukoddai period, into Pol Potist fascism. The Southern culture consists of an open society that embraced the diverse ideologies shipped from the West. Both cultures were staring in the face of Jehan Perera for him to evaluate fairly. And yet he writes that there is no diversity, pluralism, liberalism in the South. There are two possible explanations that could account for this conclusion: either 1. he is nuts or 2. he is lying through his teeth.
Denying realities and distorting history is another form of hate speech. Jehan Perera’s career in the NGOs has been quite transparent. His mission has been to give respectability and validity to the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist propaganda manufactured by the Tamil lobby. In his article in The Island (11/2/2019) he recycles the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist narrative of the Chief Minister of Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, dressed up in NGO clichés. Though the NGOs and the Tamil extremists come from two different ends of the political spectrum they both have one common aim: demonise the Sinhala-Buddhists to gain maximum political mileage both at home and abroad.
In the case of the Chief Minister of Northern Province, C.V. Wigneswaran, it is predictable that he would engage in crude anti-Sinhala-Buddhist narratives because he has to survive in an electorate that responds only to mono-ethnic extremism that is structured to exclude non-Tamils. But Jehan Perera claims that he is working for “a plural vision of society”. If so, why is he regurgitating the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist narrative that was first launched by G. G. Ponnambalam in 1939 in Navalapitiya with the sole intention of promoting divisive mono-ethnic extremism of peninsular politics? Ponnambalam’s attack on Sinhala-Buddhists and the Mahavamsa sparked off the first North-South communal riots. The anti-Sinhala-Buddhist narrative of Northern politics has not deviated one micro-mini atom from the anti-Sinhala-Buddhist version manufactured by Ponnambalam in 1939. In fact, it intensified in the subsequent decades to meet the demands of increased anti-Sinhala-Buddhist propaganda pushing federalism in the forties, separatism in the fifties and finally Tamil Pol Potism in the seventies.
To check whether the “majority” (Sinhala-Buddhists) is what Jehan Perera says they are I double-checked with Malinda Seneviratne, a leading political commentator, to find out whether any of the Southern Provincial Councils – institutions of the “majority” whom Jehan Perera loves to hate — has passed a similar resolution branding the Tamil Pol Potists as “genocidal killers”. He said “NO”. This is one simple example of the differences between the two polities of the North and the South. Though the lunatic fringe in the South did run berserk from time to time, provoked by the irrational extremism of Northern bigots, the Sinhala-Buddhists, by and large, had maintained a tolerant, pluralistic and diverse culture throughout their history.
Fake theorists like Jehan Perera blame the “Mahavamsa mentality” without knowing that nowhere in the Mahavamsa is it stated that our island is for the Sinhala ethnics only. It states categorically that “our island is (to be made) a fit dwelling place for men”(MV -1:43) – i.e., for all men irrespective of race, caste or creed. The “Mahavamsa mentality” is inclusive, pluralistic, diverse and liberal for peaceful coexistence – all of which are fundamental principles which flow from the compassionate teachings of the Buddha. It is this “Mahavamsa mentality” that made the South a democratic and open society.
There isn’t a better political text in Sri Lanka to pursue the “vision of pluralism” (JP’s phrase) than the Mahavamsa which has defined “pluralism” and “diversity” by stating clearly that the mission of the state is to “make our island a fit dwelling for men.” The “Mahavamsa mentality”, in its essence, is an unambiguous concept defined to create a benevolent, tolerant, and liberal state, with justice to foe and friend alike. But to Jehan Perera there is no pluralism, diversity and liberalism in the South, implying in the same breath that the Tamils could find these values only in the haven of Jaffna, if they are given their exaggerated political demands. He ignores the historical fact that the casteist SJVs and subsequently Pol Potist Prabhkaran never gave the Tamil Thurumbars, the lowest caste, their God-given right to walk in sunlight (by the SJVs), or the democratic right to dissent (by Prabhakaran).
Denying the visible historical realities, Jehan Perera continues to operate on the basis of delusional and fake theories. He continues to regurgitate Wigneswaran’s hate politics in NGO patois. Isn’t the hate-mongering, mono-ethnic extremism and consistent intransigence of Jaffna politics, refusing to accept pluralism, diversity, liberalism and peaceful co-existence the root cause of evil since independence?
He claims to be a product of the Harvard University. But one thing that the Harvard University has not taught him is that in a conflict in which two or more parties are involved there is no validity in blaming only one party. Blaming one party (in this instance the Sinhala-Buddhist alone) is like listening intently for the missing sound of a clap with one hand. The Zen Buddhist disciple who was asked to explore the meaning of this koan by his Master would have been awakened by the emptiness and the meaninglessness of the sound of one hand. I hope that one day Jehan Perera too would wake up to the enlightened reality of knowing that he can’t attain the political nirvana he hopes to achieve if he keeps blaming only the Sinhala-Buddhists with politicised accusations manufactured by tendentious Tamils.
(To be continued).
H. L. D. Mahindapala