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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings by Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki) > On the psyche of the Sinhala Nation

Selected Writings by Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki)

On the psyche of the Sinhala Nation

10 October 2004, Virakesari
English Version of Tamil Original - Courtesy Tamil Canadian

"..By allowing my friends and me to stay in their house in Colombo, Chandrika and her husband helped us to do our work in Southern Sri Lanka. During that time Chandrika used to tell me, "Do not speak to anyone who does not accept the rights of the Tamils for self-determination." ( Her husband, Vijaya Kumaratunge, was kind and supportive of our people and our liberation struggle, but he was assassinated by the JVP).What happened to this kind of Chandrika, the President? Why did she unleash the horror of the "War for Peace" on Tamils? If we have to find explanations for all these, then we have to do an in-depth analysis of the psyche of the Sinhala Nation. Based on that alone can we firm up our approach on how to deal with the Sinhala nation..."


In response to my article last week Chandranathan has written his view.

"The Sinhalese people are kept in an illusion by their leaders and opinionmakers. Therefore, we should make a continuous effort to convince at least a few of the Sinhalese to understand our views/problems."

He sent this e-mail via the Tamilnatham website which re-posted my article from Virakesari.

I am not opposing his views. There should be no second thought about taking our reasonable views to the Sinhalese people on a regular basis. However, my genuine concern is that we should not fall into the illusion that such acts from us will result in receiving our rights from the Sri Lankan rulers. We have been experiencing massive destruction in the last 50 years because of the acts of the Sinhala supremacists. Yet how much effort we have put into scientifically analysing and comprehending such destruction? Except for a few research papers in the Sari Nihar journal, I have not seen any other effort made in our Tamil intellectual circles to analyse and comprehend Sinhala Buddhist supremacy, its history, its views and its related social and psychological dimensions. (If you know any such work, please let me know.)

Recently I went to a conference that was attended by a number of professors, writers, journalists and opinionmakers from the South. At that conference the organisers asked me to explain the political aspirations of the Tamil people. The Tamil people and their leaders, who have been fluent in English and in Sinhalese, along with reporters, and intellectuals, all have been talking and writing what our political grievances and demands are for the last 56 years.

Not only that, the Tamils have been talking with, or putting forward their demands and fighting against, the various governments by peaceful means for 28 years ( 1948 – 1976) and using armed struggle for 28 years ( 1976 – 2004). It is a known fact that bombs went off among the Sinhalese because none of the Tamils' political demands were met. Even an intellectually retarded person will definitely ask questions why bombs are going off around him and why an international airport is attacked and badly damaged.

But , even after all this, the Sinhalese are still asking what are the political aspirations of the Tamils and what are your demands? Such a situation still prevails in the Sinhala nation. "For over half a century, the Tamil people have been explaining their political aspirations and demands in and out of Parliament and in the international arena, until their jaws cannot move. Even after all this, you are still asking me what are the Tamils' aspirations and demands? It is a sin. I cannot speak about this," I told them.

The sweetest matter at the conference was that the majority of the people who attended really did not know what the political demands of the Tamils are. After all the events in the last 56 years, if they cannot comprehend what our demands are, I do not know how they are going to understand now.

With regard to our political demands, the question the Sinhala nation asks is similar to someone asking in the morning, "What is Rama’s relationship with Seetha?" after listening to the whole Ramayana epic through the night.

Those who advocate that we must make the Sinhalese people understand our political demands must analyse one issue. One has to think a little and ask, "Why is the Sinhala Nation not understanding us, even after 56 years of many talks and fights?" "How can we now convert those who have refused to understand us, and who have not cared to understand us for over a half a century?"

In this regard, we have to look at one more important point. From the beginning of the 20th Century, the Sinhalese politicians and the opinionmakers who, at one time, understood the Tamil grievances and their reasonable political demands, have changed for the worse over time and have taken complete U-turns on the Tamil issue.

Every one of you knows that, after returning from his education in England, President Chandrika’s father, SWRD Bandaranayake, advocated that Sri Lanka must be converted to a federal system with three federal regions : Kandyan region, Lower Country or Coastal region, Tamil homeland (region).

What did he do after that ?

Likewise, the Communist Party of Sri Lanka in its 1944 National Conference passed a resolution emphasizing that the Tamils should be granted self-rule. The same Communist Party, together with the SLFP, declared in 1972 that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist nation.

What did one of the veteran leftist leaders and a pillar of the LSSP, Colvin R de Silva, who prophesied " One language, two nations and two languages, one nation" on the implementation of Sinhala Only act in 1956, actually do? He was the prime mover in rewriting the Sri Lankan constitution to make Sri Lanka a unitary Sinhala Buddhist state in 1972.

The above are old stories that you all know. Let us take the period in which our struggle for our rights became an armed struggle. From the late 1970s on, the JVP emphasised that the Tamil rights for self-determination must be approved.

On this basis, many Tamil youths from Batticaloa and Jaffna joined the JVP and served the JVP. What happened after that?

(One) In 1986, Rohana Wijeyaweera, the leader of the JVP, in his long speech to the central committee of JVP, established that the Tamil liberation struggle is an imperialistic conspiracy and categorically said that it must be crushed. His speech was compiled as a book later. To date that book is the political bible of the JVP.

(Two) Around 1973, some of the educated left wing non-JVP Sinhalese youths formed an organisation called the "Stalinist Education Circle." This organisation was gave importance to the Tamil liberation organisations, writing and speaking about them. This organisation also established some connections with some of the armed Tamil liberation organisations. (Pe. Muthulingam who writes for the weekend edition of Virakesari was connected to this organisation at that time.)

One of the main speakers in the Stalinist Study Circle ( STC), who spoke about the Tamil rights and their right for self determination and who justified the Tamils armed struggle, was Dayan Jayatilleke. Not only that, he and his comrades formed an armed organisation called "Vikalpa Kandayama."

With the leftist ideologies as their base, the STC joined with some of the Eelam liberation organisations, and worked for the self-determination for the Tamils. I used to meet them in Kandy and Colombo and had discussions with them. (Nobody can underestimate the impact of the analysis and sharp explanations put forward by Dayan Jayatillake on the liberation wars in the third world and on oppression by imperialists worldwide.)

Vikalpa Kandayama was banned in 1986 on the accusation that it conspired to topple the Sri Lankan government. Dayan Jayatilake went into hiding. The Sri Lankan police and the armed forces were combing the country looking for him. When he was about to be captured, he contacted me.

Even many of the good friends of Dayan Jayatilake refused to help me when he had to flee from his hiding place in Colombo. In the end, we managed to take him from his hiding place to another safe place outside Colombo. We did this after taking him to see the late Vijaya Kumaratunge, actor and husband of Chandrika Kumaratunge, at midnight. Vijay Kumaratunge helped me. (In this regard, without even asking his wife Chandrika or anybody else, he helped me immediately. He was a unique person.)

Dayan Jayatilleke later escaped to India. Then, after getting pardoned by the SL government, he came back to Sri Lanka and became a minister in a Regional Council.

What is Jayatillake, a person who moved intimately with the Tamil liberation organisations, doing today? Today, he writes without cease how the Tiger liberation struggle should be crushed.

Once an extreme opponent of American imperialism Jayatillake writes week after week emphasizing that Sri Lanka should seek collaboration with theUS to crush the military power of the Tamils.

In those days Jayatillake used to write and say that we must go beyond Sinhala-Tamil differences and fight against American imperialism and fight for the class struggle.

Such a nice friend of mine, Dayan Jayatilleke, now writes in the Island newspaper that "We [i.e. the Sinhalese and Sinhala nation] must seek the support of the US to crush the military power of the Tamils." What happened to him?

Is that all?

(Three) During the period of 1984/86, on behalf of People's Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam, I was involved in revolutionary work, a broad one in a united Sri Lanka, by forging alliances with Sinhalese Groups in the South.

At that time, the most important connection for me in Colombo was Dr. Nalin de Silva of the Mathematics Department at Colombo University. I used to go to his office to see two of his young students. They were directly helping me on our political struggle. Dr. Silva always treated me nicely. Not a single day was he scared or frightened to socialize with me. He was never shocked by me carrying a pistol.

What is he doing today?

He is the head of the think tank "Jathika Chinthanaya," which is based on the fundamentalism of Sinhala Buddhist supremacy.

What happened to him? Whenever he sees me, he is nice to me. But he continues to emphasize that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist land.

There is no point having connections only with the leftist groups in the South, if we want to take forward our struggle by justifying it to the Sinhalese people. We have to talk to the SLFP which is well rooted and spread among the Sinhalese. I put this view to PLOTE and it was accepted. I contacted Mangala Munasinghe, an important opinion maker and thinker in the SLFP. I also knew him from before.

(Four) Munasinghe told me that he would introduce me to a person who was part of the future top circle of the SLFP party. It was Thilak Karunaratne. Munasinghe introduced me to Karunaratne. The relationship between Karunaratne and our organisation became very close within a short period.

Our cadres started to stay in his residence in Colombo and in his constituency in Banadragama. They did a lot of work for him. (Some of our bullets were found in his car and the case against him was dragged for a long time). In the history of Sinhala-Tamil political relationship, the help he did at a crucial time was important. The help was the effort he made to get assistance from a foreign country to completely topple the Sri Lankan government through an armed struggle.

Karunaratne and his family always moved with my comrades and me in a friendly and kind manner, which cannot be forgotten forever. What happened to such a person like Tilak Karunaratne? Why has he started the Sinhala Buddhist extremist party "Sinhala Urumaya?"

Is that all ?

(Five) 'Only by granting the rights of self-determination for Tamils can we solve the racial problem.' This is the view Chandrika categorically said on the issue. By allowing my friends and me to stay in their house in Colombo, Chandrika and her husband helped us to do our work in Southern Sri Lanka. During that time Chandrika used to tell me, "Do not speak to anyone who does not accept the rights of the Tamils for self-determination." ( Her husband, Vijaya Kumaratunge, was kind and supportive of our people and our liberation struggle, but he was assassinated by the JVP).

What happened to this kind of Chandrika, the President? Why did she unleash the horror of the "War for Peace" on Tamils?

If we have to find explanations for all these, then we have to do an in-depth analysis of the psyche of the Sinhala Nation. Based on that alone can we firm up our approach on how to deal with the Sinhala nation.

 

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