"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
 
- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

President D.B. (What Ethnic Problem) Wijetunga

December 1993


President D.B. (What ethnic problem? No ethnic problem!) Wijetunga addressing the UNP National Convention in Nuwara Eliya in late November has unburdened himself (once again) of some of his inner feelings. He said:

''The SLFP (the Sinhala opposition party) is now trying to hold a meeting in Nuwara Eliya. Can the war in the north be stopped by holding meetings in Nuwara Eliya? Can the war be brought to an end by wrangling over the prices of ammunition? When a war is continuing there is no law. What exists is the race to kill...If we somehow or other end the war in the north we can increase salaries. Before long I will somehow or other solve this crisis... Next year there will be two elections. I won't postpone a single election.''

But apparently what is sauce for the opposition SLFP goose is not sauce for the ruling UNP gander. President Wijetunge clearly did not see the irony of addressing the question whether the SLFP can stop the war in the north by holding a meeting at Nuwara Eliya - at a political meeting held by the UNP in the same town. But then his vision may have been clouded by the UNP government's perception of war as a 'race to kill' combined ofcourse with the race to win the next elections.

In President D.B. (What ethnic problem? No ethnic problem!) Wijetunga's eyes, 'when a war is continuing, there is no law.' t is a perception which provides the ideological base for the continuing breach by the Sri Lankan armed forces of the humanitarian law of armed conflict during the past several years.

President Wijetunge's comment is at one with the equally caring comment of ex President J.R.Jayawardene to Kuldip Nayar in an interview reported in the Sri Lanka Island on 17 February 1985: ''The President conceded that 'terrible things' were happening in Sri Lanka. Asked if he would set up an inquiry commission to go into the atrocities committed by the army against the Tamils, he said: 'Did the British appoint a commission during the war?'''

Over the years, the voice of Sinhala chauvinism has always been, if nothing else, totally frank. The late Deputy Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne said cheerfully in the Sri Lanka Island on 24 August 1990: ''You must understand that in a war, civilians get killed. We are fighting a war.''

President D.B. Wijetunga's recent comments serve only to underline the truth of the assessment made by the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai Pirabaharan in November 1992:

''In spite of the fact that the enemy has suffered setbacks in the war front and faced serious economic crisis as a consequence of the war and in spite of the realisation that the LTTE cannot be defeated militarily, the Sri Lankan regime has not given up its militaristic approach. From the strategy of the Government we must be quite clear about one thing. That is, there has been no change in the hegemonic attitude of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism to dominate and rule over the Tamil nation by armed might.

monk1a.JPG (36335 bytes)As long as the Sinhala nation is buried in the mud of racist politics, we cannot expect a fair and reasonable solution from the Sinhalese rulers. We have no alternative other than to continue our struggle, to continue to intensify our struggle...We want a permanent, stable and honourable peace. It is because of this reason that in spite of this bloody war, we are keeping the doors of peace open. .. One day, when our enemy knocks at our doors for peace, we will extend the hand of friendship.''

 
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