(1999 July 14)

The latest report (?) of the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna) that was serialised in "The Island" from 1st to 6th July, as their previous reports, reveals the bankruptcy and the hypocrisy of the authors. At the end of the present report they have added few paragraphs to say that the public activities of the UTHR (J) as a constituent part of the university life has come to a standstill and that the members who had openly identified with it were forced to leave Yapanaya and that it is not at present functioning in the manner it did in its early life. Now while I am of the opinion that they should not have been issued with notice of vacation of post by the University of Yapanaya, I am also of the view that the UTHR (J) is now a defunct body, whatever the reasons may be for such an outcome. (The parent body ceased to exist long time ago). Thus the continued practise of the authors instead of writing in their personal capacities to use the name of a defunct body to publish so-called reports can be interpreted as hypocrisy and amounts to misleading the general public. There is no UTHR(J) officially and the views expressed in these so-called reports have to be considered as those of the authors alone.

The hypocrisy of the authors does not end there. In their serialised article they pretend to be very objective ,when nobody can be objective, and give the impression that they are for peace, and against the Tamil racists. We will discuss in Part II, what they mean by peace. They appear to criticise the Tamil racists as well as those whom they call the Sinhala Chauvinists but it is clear that their criticism of Tamil racism is only a camouflage to prevent the Sinhala people, their language, history and culture being given the rightful place in the country. They pronounce that the LTTE has to be defeated politically but they have nowhere said that it has to be defeated militarily. They seem to give the impression that there is no point in having talks with the LTTE but they are for mediators and all the paraphernalia wanted by the LTTE.

How do the authors view the present problem? Now before I come to that I have to briefly state how I understand the problem as the authors have misrepresented me. They claim that in my articles in both Sinhala and English, which are incidentally publicised in the LTTE controlled media according to the authors, I "maintain that there is no Tamil problem, but only a terrorist problem" and that "there are just abut two kinds of Tamils who occur" in my articles, they being "both racists, with supposedly fictitious political grievances", one the "moderate kind who seek a separate state through first getting federalism", the other kind seeking it directly through violence.

I must say that nowhere I have said that there is no Tamil problem in Sri Lanka. It is true that I do not subscribe to the view that there is an ethnic problem in this country but I have always maintained that the problem is due to Tamil racism, implying, of course, that there is a Tamil problem though not an ethnic problem. There may be others who have said that there is only a terrorist problem but it is nothing but the bankruptcy of the authors that has made them to attribute that view to me. The LTTE may be giving various interpretations to my articles for obvious reasons, but why should our learned authors also do the same? My position has been that the problem is due to Tamil racism and that terrorism is one of the methods used by a section of the Tamil racists to achieve their objective. Now one does not have to be a university teacher to understand that this is not the same as saying that there is no Tamil problem but only a terrorist problem. In my articles I refer to the Tamil racists and not to the Tamils in general. Reference to two kinds of Tamil racists does not imply there are only two kinds of Tamils. It appears that the authors have learned their logic from the LTTE leadership.

It is unfortunate that the political parties, the opinion makers etc., in the Tamil community are racists and naturally these people and organisations have to be referred to as Tamil racists. It is not difficult to define what is meant by Tamil racism in this country. Tamil racism in Sri Lanka in general work in such a way to prevent the rightful place being given to the Sinhala people, Sinhala history, Sinhala culture and Sinhala language. Tamil racists interpret any attempt to give the rightful place to Sinhala people their language, culture and history as an effort to establish Sinhala hegemony.

I have briefly outlined the origin and evolution of Tamil racism in "Prabhakaran, Ohuge Seeyala, Baappala ha Massinala" translated into English as "An Introduction to Tamil Racism in Sri Lanka" published a few years ago. Tamil racism has an origin going back to the previous century and in the first phase the Tamil racist leaders attempted to make sure that the Tamils controlled power in the centre by trying to equate the Sinhala representation in the legislative assembly and the state council to the Tamil representation. In other words they tried to prevent the Sinhala people and their history being given the rightful place. After the elections in 1947 the Tamil racists like Mr. Chelvanayakam having realised that it was impossible to make the number of Tamil MPs in the parliament equal to that of the Sinhala MPs and started the second phase of Tamil racism. In the second phase the Tamil racists wanted to form a separate state in the northern and the eastern provinces first by having a federal state. In order to justify a federal state Tamil racism has depended on a mythical history and the so-called grievances were cooked up based on this mythology. For example as I have explained in a recent article "The flag and the song" the Tamil racists are against the lion symbol in the national flag, as viewed from the mythical history that they have created, the lion symbolises the Sinhala hegemony over the ethnic groups in the country. The political party that was formed to achieve a separate state was called the Ilankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi or the Lanka Tamil State Party, which was called in English the Federal Party in order to deceive the Sinhala people. The third phase, in which Tamil racism want to establish a separate state without going through the intermediate Federal state was begun with the generation of Prabhakaran. The LTTE as well as some other armed groups have adopted terrorism to achieve this objective.

Now let us see what the authors of the reports of the UTHR (J) have to say on the origin and the evolution of the Tamil racist problem. " The rapid internal changes within the Tamil community in the four years from July 1983, in a symbiotic engagement with state-inspired and state articulated violence has created a novel situation." ..... "We also raised the issue of state-sponsored colonisation- the largest single factor behind alienation in the east." ...."when the British colonial power left our shores, implanting a modern state in its infancy, it soon became a tool of leading sections of the majority community, leading to communal politics on both sides....". The authors very innocently refer to communal politics on both sides to create the impression that they are impartial, having said first that the state became a tool of leading sections of the majority community. In other words the communal politics on both sides arose as a result of sections of the majority community using state as a tool! How clever our authors have been. More along the same theme: "Thus Sri Lanka had failed dismally in its endeavour to build a national identity following independence and the state has alienated the minorities and made them insecure on several fronts. This is self evident to anyone who seriously thinks about the future generation and its well-being." What are these self-evident truths the authors are talking about? They must be referring to myths like state colonisation of the so-called Tamil homeland created by people like Mr. Chelvanayakam, that they have referred to earlier. The authors talk about grievances and remedies. "On that basis what we have consistently advocated is for all those concerned with peace and democracy to prevail on the Government to strictly enforce observance of basic human rights even under the trying conditions of war, and to move decisively to remedy the underlying causes of political grievances among the Tamils." It is well known that the remedy proposed by Tamil racism to the so-called grievances is a federal state. A federal state will in effect deprive the Sinhala people the present east, that was part of the Ruhuna and part of the Sinhala kingdom up to 1815, and the north, which amounts to not giving the rightful place to the Sinhala people.

Our authors slip in statements, which put the blame on the Sinhala people without batting an eyelid. They are very good at it and do it so innocently that many people would accept them again without batting an eyelid. For example consider the following statement. "we had to raise issues with individuals and organisations who, although raising issues regarding negative aspects of Sinhala polity are sometimes unable to understand, or when they do, try to avoid implications arising out of the singular nature of the LTTE. This arises from two reasons. Being Sinhalese and feeling guilty for what had happened in the past they feel shy to question the Tamil side. This is understandable." So the Sinhala people do not question the LTTE because they are guilty of the past. The blame for not questioning the LTTE is also put on the Sinhala people, probably meaning the NGO variety here, but the authors are magnanimous enough to understand it as arising due to the guilty consciousness of the Sinhala people! Thank heavens that we have such generous people among us. While on the task of the Sinhala people our authors state: "We certainly do not underestimate the huge task in the south resulting from partisan state ideology, reinforced by playing on the fears of the Sinhalese." They are using the word south only in one sense. Instead of saying the Sinhala people they prefer to use the word south not because that would include the Tamils living in the south but to imply that there is a Sinhala south and a Tamil north. The terminology of the authors does not hide what they are after. They have used these terms for sometime so that the others will also get used to the terminology. The words, unless one is very conscious affect one's thinking and even before one realises it one is brainwashed to think in terms of a federal state comprising a Sinhala south and a Tamil north. Here they have also talked of a partisan state ideology. There cannot be any ambiguity on what they imply by partisan state ideology. Earlier they had qualified the state by saying that the state after independence had become a tool used by leading sections of the majority community. So it is the partisan state ideology of a state used by sections of the Sinhala people that the authors point their fingers at.

While commenting on a myth of Mr. E. A. V. Naganathan, the authors state: " An analysis to the effect that the communalism of the Sri Lankan State caused the problem and that there is little hope in the Southern polity solving the problem is defensible. Few would contest the first proposition. The second may be treated as a debatable proposition or a challenge for political action. But from this one cannot jump to the conclusion that the LTTE is the answer or that any responsible Tamil could take a morally neutral position as regards the LTTE." There may be some non-NGO Sinhala people who would think that the authors of the UTHR(J) reports are impartial observers as they state that the LTTE is not the answer. But what is their stand on the origin of the problem? Is it very much different from the LTTE position? The authors are even prepared to say that the proposition that there is little hope in the Southern (again the word south) polity solving the problem is defensible meaning that the government may not "solve" the problem the way they want. They are only against concluding that the LTTE is the only answer. In other words they are only thinking of other ways through which the "solution" can be reached. As they have said they want the LTTE to be defeated politically but not ideologically or militarily, they want some group other than the LTTE to reap the harvest. The people who pretend to be the moderates, impartial intellectuals are the most dangerous. In the case of people like Mr. Kumar Ponnambalam even a political naivete would know where he stands with respect to Tamil racism, but in the case of our authors one could be deceived to conclude that they are unbiased and unprejudiced.

The authors of the UTHR (J) reports, however skilful they may be, cannot hide their true feelings. Let us listen to them on the LTTE and the liberation struggle. "To treat the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamils in manner would be counterproductive, both to the Tamils as well as to the cause of peace..... The liberation struggle was over in 1986." In other words up to 1986 there was a liberation struggle. Wasn't the LTTE functioning then? Our authors have had nothing against the LTTE until 1986. After 1986 the LTTE has changed not ideologically but politically. The authors state: "We certainly believe that the LTTE as a totalitarian phenomenon in a context where the remnants of civil society have abdicated, must be exposed and decisively defeated politically." If the LTTE did not become totalitarian, presumably after 1986, what would have been the position of the authors? As far as we are concerned totalitarianism or terrorism of the LTTE is not the main problem. They are only aspects of Tamil racism. Tamil racism has to be defeated ideologically and politically. At the same time we insist that terrorism and the associated armed insurrection of the LTTE to establish a separate state should be defeated militarily.