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‘Reconciliation comes by accepting nations are different’

[TamilNet, Sunday, 2 October 2011 22:57 No Comment]

The South and its Sinhala polity talked of themselves as Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans. Those who opposed the war, but still wanted to be part of the warring Sinhala ideology, thus said the common meeting point of all Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people is the ‘Sri Lankan’ identity. But this ‘Sri Lankan’ identity is essentially a Southern Sinhala identity, points out veteran Sinhala journalist Kusal Perera. Sinhala political parties in the opposition cannot and does not want to leave their Sinhala identity in challenging this regime [of Rajapaksa]. Challenging this regime with a Sinhala identity is impossible, with a State that is now wholly Sinhalised and is firmly controlled with the defence establishment entrenched in politics and economics, he further said, writing in The Sunday Leader, last Sunday.

In contrast to the ‘reconciliation’ originating from the US State Department, the real ‘home grown’ reconciliation begins from accepting the practical existence of different nations in the island, commented a social activist in the ‘North’.Within his limitations, Kusal Perera suggests that a further strengthened and a better implemented 13th Amendment, a new 17th Amendment repealing the 18th Amendment and demilitarisation cum democracy for the North and East would in effect democratise the South as well.

But, Kusal Perera in his article has come out with every reason why the Eezham Tamils have justification in calling for their right to self-determination, independence and sovereignty. Why shouldn’t we think of ‘separation’ as an eye-opening and inspiring factor for search of better democracy and eventual unity, was the question of the social activist in the ‘North’.

The monster in the ‘South’ that sets genocide of Tamils as means to keep the ‘South’ controlled can never be get rid of in any other way. Kusal Perera himself indirectly agrees on that point when he writes on the inability of Sinhala identity in challenging the present regime and on the need to empower Tamils for democratising the ‘South’.

But assurances, agreements, amendments and constitutions of the ‘politics of deceit’ in the past didn’t work in the equal empowerment of the Tamil nation. The paradigm set by the genocidal war has worsened the situation, making invocation of the right to self-determination as the last resort to save democracy in the island, the social activist further said.

According to the social activist in the island, Kusal Perera’s article has to be read by every one in the Tamil diaspora.

Kusal Perera refers to the ‘Ceypetco Man’ (Pantham) of the ‘South’. But the Sri Lankan monster’s creators and patrons in the West try nowadays to imbibe a thinking in the ‘Ceypetco’ counterparts among the Tamil diaspora that asserting to one’s liberation or the right to self-determination is ‘extremism’ (equivalent to terrorism) but compromising with the ‘Sri Lankanism’ of the kind Kusal Perera exposes is ‘moderation’ – and Eezham Tamils have their own ‘Ceypetco Men’ to jump on the bandwagon.

The dangers Kusal Perera envisages for ‘democracy’ in the island are not confined to the island alone. That’s why we need a ‘home grown’ consensus about ‘separation for unity’, the social activist in the ‘north’ commented.

Full text of the article by Mr. Kusal Perera, published in The Sunday Leader on 25 September 2011, follows:

The Irony Of A Putrefied “South” In Patriotic Garb

Some one asked, what the Ceypetco brand logo means. Another said, in school, they used to show that logo in a big, white, circular plate hung on a tall post in the petrol shed opposite college, to those classmates who used to go behind teachers expecting favour and say, “that’s what you are…” A nude person, running with a torch. The other said, “well, I wouldn’t comment about the South then.”

“South” in Sri Lankan politics have come to denote the Sinhala society, as against that of the North and  the Tamil people. For over three decades, Sri Lanka was basically that “South”. Politics in the South was “national” politics. Trade unions became wholly Sinhala sans the plantations and all national State functions in content, was Sinhala. Traders’ associations in big cities and towns turned out as Sinhala traders’ associations, though without the adjective “Sinhala”. In fact there emerged a business chamber of young men, who very consciously kept their COYLE, restricted to “Lankans”, but Sinhalese.

Most surveys, most data collected and most projections were based on figures and statistics limited to that part of the country, which left out the North and a good part of the East. In most tables of data and statistics, it is the footnote that said, “North and East not included”. Yet they were “national” for this bifurcated Sri Lanka. The South and its Sinhala polity talked of themselves as Sri Lanka and Sri Lankans. Those who opposed the war, but still wanted to be part of the warring Sinhala ideology, thus said the common meeting point of all Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people is the “Sri Lankan” identity.

This “Sri Lankan” identity, which is essentially a Southern Sinhala identity, was what the JVP and the UNP was comfortable with, when this Rajapaksa regime raised the Sinhala identity,  against LTTE “terrorism” that in its extension was and still is, anti Tamil. The succumbing of all “national” political parties, but rooted only in the South, therefore chipped in with their political impotency for what this post war South is now facing and would have to live through in the future.

First is that, with no Opposition ready to socialise a dissenting view, the war was accepted whole heartedly and allowed by this South, with the sterile slogan “terrorism first – poverty next” forced on society with Sinhala patriotism. That was explained as essential for post-war Sri Lanka to be “developed” as a democratic country, after “terrorism” is eliminated. The war over for two years, what is the Sinhala balance sheet like, in the South for the South?

What is the present scale of promised development? Is this, what was promised for Sri Lanka, when the President addressed the nation on May 19, 2009? Whatever was said is still believed by the South, while Sri Lanka is turned into a “paradise of plunder”. Everyone’s robbing in this government, say almost everyone. But, not the Rajapaksas. They simply loot and plunder, making all corruption, SME’s. Land has become their most sought after deals. Thus the hyped publicity for “tourism promotion”. With an economy that is greedily tied and knotted to China, there can be no tourism development here, other than mega frauds that China is known to have taken everywhere they went.

What economic growth is it that Sri Lankans can devour, regardless of what Cabraal wishes to taste? The minimum monthly salary in the private sector is just Rs. 7,750 and a graduate teacher who starts with only Rs. 14,300 this year,  will have to slog till 2041 to top Rs. 30,000.  Average per capita income per month in the rural sector, according to the 2009/2010 Household Income and Expenditure Survey of the Census and Statistics Department, is Rs. 8,916, while it is only Rs. 5,782 in the Estate sector. Their mean expenditure, or what they actually need to live a human life, is 29,423 for the rural sector and Rs. 23,988 for the Estate sector. This is post-war Rajapaksa development in Sri Lanka.

Looting that makes midgets out of corruption, keeps grabing land in Colombo around and along Beira lake, Galle face sea front and military headquarters, while plans are afoot to clear as much land as possible in the city with relocation of “under served settlers” and cleaning up “unauthorised” structures in Fort and Pettah areas. The irony is, its not the Colombo Municipal Council nor the Urban Development Authority that talk of city development. It’s the Defence Secretary. He unveiled his own “plan” to develop Colombo as the government’s plan, addressing a group of US businessmen, end March, this year. And he promises, no evictions would be done, with the Colombo mayoral candidate from the UPFA openly canvassed as his favourite.

There is also looting of land in Kalpitiya, Katana, Mirijjawila and Arugambay, for supposed tourism development. There are tracks of large land wasted over fancy, projects in Sinharaja, at the cost of devastating a world heritage. Knuckles, another environmentally sensitive habitat and the Somawathiya national park are already under threat of being logged and ruined for big money.

Where is law and order? Where is justice? There is no sense of shame in what they do, no independence of the judiciary allowed. Duminda and Kathriarachchi who were implicated in two different criminal cases, were cleansed with such ease, the former Chief Justice was compelled to note there was an error in how they were dealt with. Duminda is now the supervisory MP for the Defence Ministry, regardless of all that and much more. The former CJ ended up as the latest “consultant” to the President. Mervyn continues as a minister after all his thuggery, still goes about with his goons, claims he is doling out justice by resorting to the most crudest and ugliest violations of law, but is blessed by Buddhist monks as well.

What is “democracy” here now? Emergency is replaced with more teeth given to continued repression with a PTA that in a democracy would not be a law. The Rajapaksa regime is to enact more legal provisions to continue with the all repressive powers it had under emergency regulations, with State politicising in plenty. This is anyway a police that is always threatened for life when escorting “notorious, under world thugs” to search for hidden weapons and grenades and then turn up in courts to say the “notorious thug” was killed in self defence. The Courts would have heard this same story over and over again, but sees nothing wrong in it. So is this South, happy a “thug” is no more, never mind the law.

While the law is such, a gazette notification on August 29, allows establishment of STF camps in every district, adding onto police stations there is, any way. There is also the 18th Amendment to the Constitution that repealed the 17th Amendment, which allowed some form of independence to important appointments to State positions and departments, that have to be outside politics. Family politics and nepotism has turned all State affairs, quite alien to society and even the major political party in the UPFA that provided the rural base for this regime to continue in power, the SLFP, is now a total outsider in the Rajapaksa government. A government voted by the people and hijacked by a family.

Its not only politics, but also economics that is tampered with, by the defence establishment.  While most land in Colombo are looted with the strength of the military kept on the streets and with new tales about a “LTTE rump”, running the North-East under the security forces is not mere “occupation” as TNA would wish to say. Its also getting into business, as most who travel up North would say.

The military getting into business was no safe transformation in Pakistan. There the civilian government has no say over most what happens even within their own borders. While PM Gilani was unaware Osama bin Laden was in Pakistan close to one of the top defence centres, the Pakistani ISI is accused of keeping Osama there, on their own terms. It is a fact in Pakistan that no elected government could have the freedom to run the country, without military dictates and often approvals. They have their own money to run their own vehicles the way they wish and thus the power that no elected government could veto.

Here the defence Sec promises stability for the business community, promises to restore the Muslim mosque raised to the ground by a Sinhala mob led by a Buddhist monk with no police inquiry or arrest for such a dastardly criminal act, sends over the navy with shooting orders to disperse the protesting Negambo fisher families over seaplanes landing in the lagoon from which they eke out their living and deploys the military in the FTZ after the workers protested against a forced pension fund on them. The South also accepts former security forces commanders replacing foreign service personnel in most diplomatic postings.

Is this what the Sinhala South asked for, in accepting a war that eliminated the LTTE? Is this the democracy and development the Sinhala South wants and is happy about? Obvious it is they don’t have the will to see and accept anything different and better. This is the crisis both the UNP and the JVP is presently facing. Both these political parties, very strictly Sinhala political parties, can not and does not want to leave their Sinhala identity in challenging this regime. Challenging this regime with a Sinhala identity is impossible, with a State that is now wholly Sinhalised and is firmly controlled with the defence establishment entrenched in politics and economics.

What the UNP and the JVP that are falling apart with internal rivalry do not want to accept is in fact the only alternate platform for the South as well. The South, even in a selfish attempt in getting out of this socio political putrefaction, has only one option and that is to stand for total accountability of governance and re democratising of society. That needs a further strengthened and a better implemented 13th Amendment and a new 17th Amendment that would repeal the 18th Amendment to begin with. It needs to accept that de-militarising of and democracy for  the North and East, would in effect democratise the South as well. Will the South stand up to it, or will it continue to run like the “Ceypetco” man?

[Full Coverage]

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