Empowerment of Sri Lankan Tamils without the 13th Amendment (13A)

“Douglas Devananda and Anandasangaaree are still hanging on to the dying SJVC paradigm and it was Col. Karuna who made the revolutionary break-away. Karuna left LTTE in 2004 but only in 2006 he took the oxygen out of SJVC paradigm. The race/language-based SJVC-P got derailed with just five words from Col. Karuna—Give us what Colombo gets. Thus Karuna killed both the SJVC-P as well as the black-white controlled Colombo paradigm with one shot.”

by C. Wijeyawickrema, LL.B., Ph.D.

Why rock the “devolution” boat at this critical juncture?

(August 25, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) GG Ponnambalam and SJV Chelvanayagam jointly handled the Tamil separatist paradigm for nearly 70 years. Operating under the larger Colombo paradigm they were interested in getting power “devolved” to Tamil leaders and not in getting the Tamil people empowered. On the Sinhala side, as a reaction to Tamil separatism and DMK activities in the tea estates (due to proscribing of secessionist activities in India in 1963 by the 16th Amendment) there was the JVP of KMP and Kusuma Rajaratne for a short period of time.

Tamil separatism was first raised in 1918 (just one year after it was raised in South India in 1917 influenced by the colonial support of two-nation theory, Hindus and Muslims) and it went through different phases historically, but it became official in 1949 with the formation of the Tamil state party by SJVC.

Towards the end of his long life at age 77, by garlanding the statute of Siva Kumar (who committed suicide while under arrest for the murder of a police officer) in 1975, SJVC impliedly gave his consent to terrorism deployed later by Prabakaran. In May 1975, SJVC said, “…There is no other alternative for the Tamils to live with self-respect other than fight to the end for a Tamil Nad” (A. J. Wilson, “S.J.V. Chelvanayakam and the crisis of Sri Lankan Tamil Nationalism, 1947-1977,” University of Hawaii Press, 2000, p. 127). In July 1975 Prabakaran had his first killing, Alfred Duraiyappa, the SLFP Mayor of Jaffna.

SJVC followed a rigid policy in his dealings with the Colombo Sinhala politicians. Not only he insisted on pre-conditions but also emphasized that those would be interim steps toward an ultimate goal. This left little room for political flexibility on the part of at least some Sinhlala politicians. In the words of SWRD “He [SJVC] is surely one of the most dangerous types of human beings in the world, quite in his own way sincere, in his own way an idealist, but having no idea whatsoever of reality and the practical side of things. Very dangerous people, such people! ….people of this kind are capable of deluding themselves completely, capable of deluding others too” (Hansard, vol.31 (May-June 1958) cols. 244-5) (Wilson, p. 9).

The SJVC-Prabakaran paradigm is finally nearing its end in 2008 under a non-Colombo rural Buddhist leader as the head of the state. Already ethnic wounds are healing in the East under a new language-blind paradigm enunciated by Co. Karuna in 2006 (Give us what Colombo gets) who escaped from Prabakaran’s grip in 2004. The EP Chief Minister’s confession on why he gave up terrorism is a balm on the ethnic wound. In 10-15 years a new generation of Sri Lankans will be fluent in both Sinhala and Tamil. In this new ethnic climate what is the reason for a few Colombo ministers to start a campaign to get police and land powers to PCs? (TamilNet, 7/25/2008). This is an issue 21 year’s too late in case of the seven southern PCs.


(1) 13A as continuation of SJVC paradigm

SJVC was considered an extremist because he wanted an “F” set up with right to self-determination within a Tamil homeland. Because of this the late Colombo Bishop Rev. Lakshman Wickremasinghe identified SJVC as the Moses of Ceylon who came to deliver Tamils there Israel not in Tamil Nadu but in Sri Lanka (Wilson, pp. 73, 101). Indian government in 1987 forced GOSL to accept the traditional Tamil homeland concept and created an “F” set up. This was what SJVC wanted as the first step. Tamil “moderates” are in agreement with this arrangement.

A group of mostly Colombo-living Tamils became “moderates” in the eyes of some foreign diplomats and the IC by “default”—by omission and not commission. It was similar to Aerial Sharon who pioneered Israeli settlements in the Palestine occupied territory 40 years ago later falling into the “moderate” category because angry settlers (extremists) who are forced to evacuate wanted to kill Sharon! Thus some Tamils enjoy “moderate status” today for two reasons. (1) Prabakaran wants to kill them for not supporting his Eelam, and more importantly (2) unlike SJVC they are presently silent on the issue of the right to self determination who can change their position at a future date since they operate within the frame-work of a Tamil homeland. For now they emphasize that they consider 13A a good fist step on the path towards “maximum devolution.”

(2) 13A as path to an ethnic nirvana

Those who believe in a federal marriage think 13A is a blessing in disguise because the word “F” is not in the picture anymore. They think 13A creates a system of maximum devolution within a united or even a unitary Sri Lanka. They think by giving PCs more powers including police, land and education Tamil political leaders will forget about a future Eelam and will live co-habiting happily ever after. This group includes a few minister-level agitators, marginalized Marxist groups, majority report-writers of the APRC, NGOs, most Colombo intellectuals and most of Colombo diplomatic missions and the IC. Because they ignore facts, geopolitical realities and history, one cannot help but doubt whether they are genuine 13A believers or have hidden agendas. Mr. Jehan Perera, for example, according to a statement by Prof. Michael Roberts, did not know that the Eastern Province was under the Kandyan King!

(3) 13A as a ladder to a home-grown Tamil empowerment movement

With the crisis created by the Colombo-based majority report (2006) of the APRC, taking Sri Lanka back to Thimpu (1985)-ISGA (2003) and P-toms (2005) days, suggesting to set up Tamil police posts to protect Tamils living in Sinhala villages, and the need to have some kind of “trust building” with Tamils and Muslims in the newly liberated Eastern Province, President Rajapakse (MR) found in13A a quick stop-gap and pragmatic solution. 13A was discarded by Prabakaran and 13A is rightly ridiculed by the majority people in the south as a white elephant. Its utility at this stage is to provide sufficient time and space to heal the wounds of mutual mistrust as well as to offer an opportunity for local Tamils in the two provinces of N and E to experiment with local self government. Under the Mahinda Chinthanaya approach a home-grown constitution is to be developed after the war is over. The SLFP proposal to APRC in April 2007 to empower people (not province-level devolution of power to a new set of politicians) at the Grama Rajya-level is an example of this approach which is in agreement with the new paradigm of Col. Karuna, ecology and geography of Sri Lanka.

Col. Karuna paradigm

The SJVC paradigm continued under Prabakaran with cyanide pills and suicide cats. Those who did not give up the paradigm but willing to adjust it for now (without giving up the homeland goal) such as Amirthalingam and Neelan Thiruchelvam had to be eliminated for spoiling the paradigm. The remaining Tamil politicians became “moderates” not because they gave up the homeland concept. They became moderates because, Prabakaran began to eliminate them. This is true with UTHR (J)’s Rajan Hoole, TULF’s Anandasangaaree (who was offered a seat in the parliament by JHU), EPDP’s Douglas Devananda or with the journalist DBS Jeyaraj. They all operate within the SJVC separatist paradigm. Therefore, in the eyes of the majority Sinhalese they are still “extremists.”

During the days of Neelan-GLP package, Neelan wanted 13A in a merged N-E but he was against accommodating the Pondicherry sub-model (enclaves of Sinhala and Muslim areas inside N-E region) within the Indian “F” model. He thought it would make a moth-eaten like holes in the contiguous N-E Tamil homeland! Tamils in Sri Lanka enjoy more rights than the Tamils in Tamil Nadu but the late Kumar Ponnambalam thought Tamils needed a homeland to achieve their aspirations. But he, his father and his son all achieved their “aspirations” while living in Colombo. The only Tamil of significance who gave up SJVC paradigm is Col. Karuna. Even last week he said he is not taking the police powers path. He already started forming village-level Tamil development committees because devolution must be to villagers and not to Tamil politicians.

Douglas Devananda and Anandasangaaree are still hanging on to the dying SJVC paradigm and it was Col. Karuna who made the revolutionary break-away. Karuna left LTTE in 2004 but only in 2006 he took the oxygen out of SJVC paradigm. The race/language-based SJVC-P got derailed with just five words from Col. Karuna—Give us what Colombo gets. Thus Karuna killed both the SJVC-P as well as the black-white controlled Colombo paradigm with one shot.

Under this new paradigm Karuna became an anti-separatist Tamil and won support of the Sinhalese majority. Under the SJVC paradigm everything and anything done by the Colombo government was branded as one more example of “Sinhalization” (citizenship qualifications, schools, estates and Trino harbor nationalization). For the separatists Duraiyappa and the Postal minister Kumarasuriyar were traitors working with (for) the Colombo government.

K-paradigm is not in conflict with the new aspirations demand. In fact, in 1971 JVP rebels in the south demanded the same thing that Col. K asked in 2006. The Youth Commission Report in 1990 repeated what the JVP said in 1971 and what Karuna said in 2006. The Mahinda Chinthanaya Program prepared in September/October 2005 dismisses the Colombo paradigm. It is important to note that the MC Program was based on thousands of comments obtained via an island-wide survey.

Unlike the secret “love affair” between President Premadasa and Prabakaran, the merger of the Karuna paradigm and the MC Program is based on public principles. The SLFP proposal in April 2007 to empower people at the Grama Rajya level is in a way a response after nearly 25 years to the 1971 JVP rebellion and recognition of the Rural Reconstruction and Crime Eradication Movement started by the late Ven. Kalukondayawe Pragnarama Mahanayaka Thero in the 1940s. Most of his 99 point program is still valid today (Autobiography by him in 1970 pages 245-281). MCP is based on the Middle Path (reasonableness doctrine) in Buddhism—Ask things reasonable; do not deny things reasonable. Give us what Colombo gets is a reasonable non-racial demand.

Sri Lanka can finally think of a paradigm of Buddhist politics! The former Indian President who went to the Rastrapathy Bawan with two suit cases and left it with the same two suit cases once said “Buddhism provides solutions to world’s problems.” Buddhism preaches individual freedom and empowerment. The Buddhist principles based on the individual and his relationship with his community is higher than the western HR (R2P?) movement which tries to deal with issues of state aggression against the individual (Robert Thurman, Inner revolution: life. liberty, and the pursuit of real happiness, 1998, pp. 115, 120). The Christian West deals with human life as linear (no death) while in Buddhism life is cyclical.

A paradigm of Buddhist politics

Based on the Buddhist concept of the Middle Path (compromise-reasonableness), the MC Program promotes village-centered development of Sri Lankan society. While under the Colombo-P and SJVC-P Sinhala Buddhists can be labeled as SB chauvinists, both under MC Program and Karuna-P there is room for the village Tamils to understand reasonable Buddhist wishes. Despite wild propaganda against them there was not a single sentence in the writings of Anagarika Dharmapala or of the late Professor Tennakoon Vimalananda promoting discrimination against Sri Lankan Tamils, Sri Lankan Muslims or Christians. Instead, the Buddhist position in this regard was well summarized by the following quote from the late Professor Gunapala Malalsekera.

“The Buddhists wish—and quite rightly—that in this country where they form 70 percent of the population, Buddhism should be recognized as the predominant religion of the people. In the rest of the world, Ceylon is regarded as essentially a Buddhist country, and they want this claim established here as well…They will not be content to remain in the position of inferiority to which they have been reduced by 450 years of foreign occupation… They have no desire to make Buddhism the State religion—in spite of the cry raised by self-seeking politicians— but they want the State to help them rehabilitate themselves and undo some, at least, of the injustices perpetrated against them during the days of their subjection.” (quoted from a speech by Professor Gunapala Malalasekera, President of ACBC reproduced in Times of Ceylon, January 15, 1956, and referenced on page 196 of the book, “Ceylon: Dilemmas of a New Nation,” by W. H. Wriggins, Princeton Univ. Press, 1960)

The new diplomat Dayan Jayatilleka speaks of “fault line wars” and how “the clash of peoples” becomes narrow chauvinism when it is taken to excess (Island, 7/27/2008). The above quote was not based on a fault-line but on 450 years of systematic discrimination by western Christian rulers against the majority Sinhala Buddhists. Starting in the 1840s with several Crown Lands Ordinances their land was robbed and given to outsiders for investments (and denudation and soil erosion) in growing coffee and tea. Finally, freedom was handed over to Colombo families with a 29 (2-4) Clause which prevented legal redress of Sinhala grievances. To the contrary, in India, “protective discrimination” and “capacity endowment” were introduced by the Indian constitution to help the disadvantaged majority of backward castes and tribes (Akhtar Majeed (editor), Constitutional nation building, 2001, pp. 98, 110).

The late Ven. Balangoda Anandamaithreeya Mahanayaka Thero once said “if Sir DB Jayatilaka became the first PM of Ceylon the history of the island would have been different.” Instead, Colombo black-whites as new rulers mismanaged everything including ethnic relations. Colombo-black-whites included Marxists who played a significant part in destroying Ceylon. They did not understand the value of combining their own malaria control work with the late Ven. Kalukondayawe Pragnasekera Maha Thero’s Rural Development Movement. Ven. KP enlisted the support of Justice Akbar and Tamils. He obtained the help a young ASP Osmond de Silva. The Colombo black-whites and their CCS officer-agents did everything to derail Ven. KP’s work. To remove police-farmer collaboration Osmond Silva was transferred to different places and finally to the police training school at Bambalapitiya where he had no farmers to meet with.

Devolution versus empowerment

The distribution of political power to a new set of regional politicians is devolution. This is what 13A has done. Thus in India in 1956 this distribution was effected using linguistic demarcation of state boundaries. Sri Lanka’s political elites in Colombo, after mismanaging ethnic relations for fifty years, embraced the word “devolution” in the 1990s as an escape valve when their lives were threatened by black cats waiting for them at street junctions (the Duraiyappa syndrome). “Devolution” is thus an arrangement between politicians to divide the pie or create new mini-pies. The Indian experience of this arrangement has been (1) further demands for more regional units (initial 14 states are now grown to 28 and at least another 35 are in the pipe line) (Federal India: a design for change, Rasheeduddin Khan, 1992) and (2) the taking of Delhi politicians as hostages by regional politicians (the phenomenon of coalitional politics). Indian devolution did not help the average Indian.

Empowerment on the other hand is a genuine attempt to provide means for economic and social justice to all people. This cannot happen with 13A. While devolution creates new levels of political ruling classes empowerment takes social and economic democracy to households or to the village-level. Gandhi wanted this happen via the Panchayath system. It was derailed by an argument that with severe caste divisions at the village level higher castes will take control of the Panchayaths and would further aggravate the oppression of disadvantaged people. Despite ten five-year plans and protective discrimination and capacity endowment (to help backward castes and tribes) the Indian constitutional framework failed to deliver the trinity of equality-liberty-fraternity to Indian masses. Therefore, after giving it step-motherly treatment for 40 years, the Indian ruling elites took a decision to resurrect the old Panchayath system in 1993 as Panchayathi Raj Institutions (constitutional amendments 73 and 74).

“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely,” is a universal truth. The separation of powers doctrine of Montesquieu was considered as one solution to this problem. However, according to the new interpretation given to this doctrine, what Montesquieu intended was not a strict separation of governmental power (legislative, judicial and executive), but distribution of governmental power to a maximum possible number of units. Villages form the lowest spatial unit. The devolution of power can become empowerment of people only if it is done at the level of lowest possible spatial unit. Not only this level of empowerment is in agreement with Montesquieu, but there is another universal truth about human organizations. The history of human society is a history of a tiny class of people manipulating the rest (95% of people) using law as the weapon of control. This history became worse after colonialism created a class of local black-whites (coconuts, brown outside, white inside) in former colonies.

In Sri Lanka this class followed a policy of milk to Colombo and forage to villages while paying lip service to rural development and decentralization of political power. In 1971, Sinhalese youth reacted to this policy with guns which was later copied by Tamil youth with instigation (our boys!) by mostly Christian Colombo-living separatist Tamil politicians. If genuine, Colombo politicians had all what was required to decentralize power and empower people. There has been a village council system dating back to the 1850s-1870s.

Colombo politicians (their local government ministers) abused the local government system, and after 1977 totally ruined it. The Abhayewardhana Report on Local Government Reforms (Sessional Paper No. 1 of 1999) which is now dusting in some government office provided in detail a fact-based justification on why the country needs to go back to the pre-1980 village council system. Sri Lankan civilization was based on a trinity of village-tank-temple (gama-vawa-dagoba). In some areas temple was replaced by kovil, mosque or church. This model fits ideally in meeting the concerns of global warming and water management, flooding, drought and landslides. Each village unit was an ecological unit based on a watershed or a hydrologic basin. Only in New Zealand one finds this approach officially recognized, nation-wide.

This approach is language-blind and do not promote ethnic conflicts. An aspiration is a subjective affair and a private matter. Yet, under this model private aspirations can become publicly manifested or celebrated in an ethnically non-threatening manner. Smaller spatial units (enclaves) are not perceived as threats unlike a mammoth N-E merger. Growing up in Panadura I have seen three Muslim enclaves (Totawatta, Sarikkammulla, Eluvila) where Muslims enjoyed full freedom to engage in whatever aspirations they had. But poverty was widespread in both Sinhala and Muslim localities.

Because of physical geography, climatology and hydrology of Sri Lanka river basins provide the best solution to spatial decentralization of power. This could be done by re-arranging the 15,000 GSN units to fit in with the ecology of the area. This means that a pyramid going upward from village-level to larger river basin-level is possible allowing several Muslim and Tamil regional units demarcated not by language but by economic and environmental geography. With this approach, if a province-level unit is needed, then the river basin-based seven-unit demarcation proposed by the geographer Madduma Bandara in 1987 provides an ideal solution (Chapter 4 in Fifty years of Sri Lanka’s Independence: a socio economic review, edited by A.V. de S. Indraratna, 1998, p.83).

“Empowerment attempts”

Greek and Roman “city states” had a kind of direct democracy (governance without a middleman politician) and the Buddhist India in the 5th Century B.C. had such democracy in smaller kingdoms. On October 26, 1959, President Ayub Khan proposed for Pakistan an empowerment plan which was similar to the Soviet people’s councils. He was talking about “basic democracies” with units of 800-1000 people each electing a candidate to a union council of ten members as the first tier of a new constitutional structure (Pakistan: old country/new nation, Ian Stephens, 1964, p. 314).

In Sri Lanka during the SLFP-LSSP-CP coalition time in the 1970s the idea of People’s Committees (and Workers’ Councils) was introduced but with the appointment of political stooges to these committees the idea became a joke. In the 1970s in Bangladesh, Muhammad Yunus (who in 2006 won a Nobel Prize) proposed a village government program (Gram Sarkar). In 2003, the government formed 40,392 village governments as a fourth layer of government. But in 2005 the High Court declared this arrangement illegal and unconstitutional. Under the Bolivarian revolution of President Hugo Chavez a new law on Communal Councils came into effect in Venezuela on April 10, 2006. Based on 200-400 families in urban areas or 20 in rural areas (an over kill?) the principal decision making body of a CC is the citizens’ assembly (www.venezuelanalysis.com, 4/26/2006). SLFP proposal to APRC in April 2007, presented Sri Lanka’s home-grown devolution solution based on the Grama Rajya concept. Recently, Professor C.G. Weeramantry also presented Grama Rajya as a model suitable for Sri Lanka (Island, 5/20/2007). In a global village one thinks globally, but acts locally. Or as the former U.S House Speaker Tip O’Neil once said “all politics is local.”

What are Sri Lanka’s problems?

We now know that the “war” had been a beggar’s wound for Colombo’s English-speaking political party leaders. In November 2005 MR inherited a Sri Lanka with following other problems:

(1) Destruction of structural democracy by UNP, SLFP, LSSP, CP, FP, TULF, PA and UNF Colombo-living political leaders (examples: abolition of the Senate, disrespect for the rule of law, destruction of the separation of powers doctrine, politicalization of the public service and judiciary);

(2) Destruction of territorial/representative democracy (this happened with the 1977 bahubootha viyawasthawa; only crooks and criminals can think of becoming MPs under the new electoral method, voters do not know to whom they are voting for!);

(3) Introduction of a culture of death and destruction by JVP since 1971 and 1988-89 (a hard-core of 1988-89 began the old path again after 2008 split of JVP);

(4) The SJVChelvanayagam paradigm of separatism (significant years-1918, 1922-24, 1928, 1944, 1949 and 1976), which copied the JVP model first by killing the SLFP Jaffna Mayor Duraiappah on July 27, 1975).

(5) Creation of an unprofessional and incompetent GSN (grama sevaka niladharee) cadre who have become politicians’ cats-paws (during 1988-90 GSN number was increased to 15,000);

(6) Black-whites becoming NGO agents and free trade- globalization linking local NGOs with corporate-INGOs;

(7) Rajiv Gandhi’s decision to force the 1935 Government of India Act and the 1956 Nehru mistake (Nehru did not want it but forced to implement) of linguistic state boundaries method on Sri Lanka as the 13th Amendment (Rajiv plan would help Tamil politicians to carve out a separate country one day out of the traditional Tamil home land in the Eastern Province);

(8) All the problems above created a breeding ground for an unholy-trinity all over the country of MP-Officer-NGO (or politician-government officer-NGO dollars) encompassing anything and everything in Sri Lanka. Politics of corruption, criminalization, loss of self-respect and a mentality of survival of the fittest is rampant;

(9) All the problems above ruined school and university educational system; created political teachers and tuition teachers; created a business called the international school catering for the old rich and the new rich;

(10) The agony of innocent Jaffna Tamils suffering under a Tamil Eelam killing machine; and

(11) How to empower Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people (not sets of new politicians) so that devolution becomes meaningful in the long run.

None of these antho-jata-bahi-jata problems can be solved by giving police and land powers to PCs. They require a new front of civil war enveloping the entire country. Removal of corruption and crime can become complicated if separatist demand raises its head again especially armed with police and land powers. India’s recent experience in this regard should not be forgotten.

The Indian experience in dealing with state police

“…The decision to wage a war against the LTTE was not an easy one for Rajiv Gandhi. No was he oblivious to the cruel irony in being forced to crush the very elements he and Indira had nurtured with care and money…Rajiv could abandon neither the Tamils nor could he support its chief representative, i.e., the LTTE…

…Confrontation with the LTTE had followed from the need to maintain relational control and to restore balance of forces between the various actors in Indo-Lanka relations. That the balance was in danger is clear from the account of the IPKF operations by field Commander Sardeshpande:

‘We gathered credible intelligence through smugglers, boatman… about exact bungalows, lanes, hospitals, beds, towns, cities and helpers of the LTTE cadres, convalescing Tigers, gunrunners and manufacturers of explosive devices and grenades and gave it to the Tamil Nadu police, only to be told that there were no such individuals, no such activities! We told them that the LTTE cadres after enjoying India’s shelter and medical treatment were returning to Sri Lanka and killing IPKF soldiers… All this made no impression on the Tamil Nadu government and the police….This was the tragicomedy played out on our own country.’
…Facing an impasse in Tamil Nadu and fearing its deleterious impact on the IPKF role in Sri Lanka, the central government on January 1988 imposed President’s Rule in the state.”

Ethnicity, security and separatism in India by Maya Chadda, 1997, p. 169

The extract above is not from a book written by a Sinhala Buddhist chauvinist. Yet, it looks as if the Indian author was writing it for the “education” of those who are now spearheading a campaign to give police and land powers to the white elephant called the PC. PC or no PC, giving land and police powers to a set of politicians who believe in a traditional Tamil homeland in the East is not an act of giving a razor blade to a monkey, but erecting ladders to monkeys.

By giving exclusive police and education powers to linguistic states India got into lot of trouble. Hindi as official language faced problems in Tamil Nadu because it did not want to teach Hindi in the schools as if learning Hindi is going to kill the Tamil language! Recently, the central government unsuccessfully tried to create a federal police force to overcome the sabotaging work of state police personnel. Just a few days ago Delhi informed Sri Lankan embassy office in Chennai not to deal directly with the state police. Imagine what could happen in Sri Lanka if politicians in charge of a hostile Eastern or Northern PC decide to support or entertain anti-Sri Lankan or anti-Sinhala Buddhist activities within its territory?

13A: dead-rope or death-trap?

13A is constitution-based racism imposed by India following its own history of communalistic 1935 Government of India Act and the 1956 linguistic demarcation of state boundaries. Sri Lanka should soon find its own home-grown solutions as there will be no market for separatism in Sri Lanka when Tamils and Sinhalese become fluent in both Tamil and Sinhala within the next 10-15 years. Even as a temporary mechanism13A must be clarified to indicate that there are no ethnic homelands in Sri Lanka. The 13A road with a Tamil homeland myth is a deadly road.

It is not enough to burry the Tamil homeland myth; it must be killed in the sense that it is not promoted by any Tamil as racist political propaganda. 13A has created seven white elephants in the south. Did they become white elephants because they did not have police and land powers? At least four dangers are inherent and embedded in the 13A.

(1) 13A was an Indian recognition of the SJVC separatist paradigm that ruined Sri Lanka and poisoned Sri Lankan minds for 70 years.

(2) 13A recognized a traditional Tamil homeland despite historical, geographical and archeological evidence against it; SJVC paradigm with a Tamil traditional homeland faced problems from the findings in Prof. K Indrapala’s doctoral thesis and as reported by Professor Michael Roberts his thesis was stolen from the London University library. But after forty years of archaeological field work Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thero produced evidence contradictory to SJVC paradigm. The history of Sri Lanka and its North and East that he has painstakingly constructed (Our heritage of the North and East of Sri Lanka, 2003) is radically different from a Tamil rooted ethnic origin of its settlers. The scripts found on hundreds of rock caves that he was able to trace and record did not support a Tamil homeland theory. Some donors of these cave dwellings (to Buddhist priests) had Tamil names. If all donors at that time had a common Tamil origin, then all of them must have had Tamil names. These cave donations span from the 3rd century B.C to 5th century A.D. Under a Karuna paradigm there is no need to destroy these Buddhist archeological ruins (to remove evidence against a Tamil homeland) because they are not a threat to the empowerment of Tamil villagers.

(3) There is the world Tamil Federation eyeing for a quick Tamil country in Sri Lanka because it failed to get one in the Fiji Islands and knows that it is difficult to fight for a separate country in Tamil Nadu in the present political climate.

(4) Separatism in Tamil Nadu is live and thriving (a recent opinion poll showed 55% supporting Eelam in Sri Lanka (TamilNet, 8/2/2008). The demand to take back Kachchativu is a political sacred cow in this regard. Thus, if 13A is accepted as the path to ethnic nirvana in Sri Lanka, as agitated, there is no way to stop a NGO-INGO-IC-backed demand by a future Tamil politician on the necessity to create an ISGA or to take the final UDI path.

Armed with police and land powers it is not difficult to start a protracted conflict with Colombo over any number of old issues or new issues. Any domestic rivalry between two Tamil political leaders in the Province can become an IC issue involving foreign agents with vested interests and hidden agenda taking sides. A river for Jaffna is a good example of the potential of shortage of Mahavali water becoming an issue that could be raised as an international-human rights dispute by a separatist-prone Tamil politician. Take the case of re-opening of the KKS cement factory. Cement dust falling on farmers’ vegetable plots was known for a long time in the past. But this will be considered a serious health hazard now in 2008. Quarrying limestone next to the factory doors which the cement chairman gave as a plus is actually a new hazard of seawater encroaching inland and polluting the groundwater table (TamilNet, 8/3/2008). Increasing links between Muslim radical groups in the EP and foreign Muslim groups or radical Tamil groups in the tea-growing area wanting to establish links with EP or NP are potential issues of conflict that Colombo politicians must not ignore.

Belgium, Scotland and South Ossetia (Georgia) are three current examples that should open the eyes of Sri Lankan politicians on the need to promote and create language-blind village-level political units as vehicles for the empowerment of multi-ethnic communities. In Sri Lanka, over 50% of Tamils live in the South and there is the headache of Tamil Nadu Tamils supporting an Eelam in the island which they cannot get in South India. Scotland got what is comparable to 13A but the story is not over. It is perhaps only one election away from gaining independence as a separate country escaping from London’s control. The nationalist party which advocates separation is gaining rapidly at each election.

Belgium is a tiny federation to which NGOs organized several trips of Buddhist monks to see how “F” system works. Today it is the best example of how “F” has not worked even with a king. In 1830-31 it was created by the international powers as a political compromise in building one state out of two nationalities, Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia with Brussels as the capital. Now Flanders wants to separate from Wallonia because “every attempt to liberalize the Belgian economy and to reform the generous welfare system has been vetoed by the relatively poor Walloon socialists.” Flanders is no longer prepared to finance the ever increasing amount of Flemish subsidies which are flowing to Wallonia! If this happens then Wallonia will break into four or five smaller parts merging with other countries (i.e., France, Germany) or deciding to remain independent. Brussels itself will be a French-majority enclave linked with Wallonia by a land corridor. Such are the blessings of federating for 178 years!

Russian invasion of the Georgian held Russian-living region of South Ossetia (North Ossetia is already a Russian state) is an example of why India did not try to do a Bangladesh “solution” in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is an island. Georgia wanted to stop separatist work by minority Russians in SO. When it killed some Russians, Russia invaded SO. India is in a dilemma with the Tamil homeland demand in Sri Lanka. If India accepts an Eelam then later Tamil Nadu itself will demand a separate country from India against “Hindia.” Other secessionist groups in India will also get a boost. What we see today is, present-day Indian politicians trying to deal with tomorrow and day after and not with what would happen in ten years. Sri Lanka cannot afford to follow this philosophy.

What is the solution?

Ideally speaking, as soon as Kilinochchi is liberated by the army the president needs to consider seriously the feasibility of moving the capital of Sri Lanka to the Raja Rata on a 15-20 year time frame rather than further aggravating the spatial problems found in the Colombo Region. Ministry by ministry, department by department, the government should relocate in the Raja Rata with a long-term plan. There is no better way to bring Sinhala and Tamil villagers together than the abandonment of the Colombo paradigm. No need to neglect essential developments in the Colombo harbor or Colombo roads or to doubt the geopolitical value of a new harbor in Hambantota and an alternative international airport near it. Sri Lanka should not forget the developing new frontier in the Raja Rata relative to South Indian developments but also the new needs of the Pacific century. Even in the U.S.A. its Pacific face is developing so rapidly compared to the 500 year-old Atlantic (European) face. Trincomalee is Sri Lanka’s jewel in the Pacific century.

Sri Lanka is in crisis not because of the reason that its PCs do not have police and land powers. The list of problems mentioned above require two sets of actions: (1) a new constitution aimed at empowering people at the village-level, and (2) a civilian socio-economic development system aimed at eradicating corruption, poverty and social injustice. In this regard the President needs to consider taking the following actions:

1. Instruct the APRC and the Constitutional Affairs Ministry research staff to study the thousands of constitutional proposals they received by invitation and to publish a detailed analytical report. Why these proposals were totally ignored is problematic;

2. Instruct APRC and its Chairman to study the Abhayawardena Local Government Report and use it as a basis for devolution of power to Village Councils;

3. Instruct the APRC and the Constitutional Affairs Ministry research staff to study the 99 point program of action proposed by the late Ven. K.P. in the 1940s;

4. Appoint a committee with a geographer as the leader to study how GSN boundaries could be modified to fit in with Village Council and ecological boundaries;

5. Instruct the Defence Secretary to study the feasibility of deploying the army personnel in civil defence and development work at the village-level; and

6. Make arrangements to formalize the services voluntarily offered by the Sri Lankans living abroad into a village-Expatriate services system. This is where Sri Lanka’s Seventh Great Force could become a valuable vehicle.

Sri Lanka’s Sixth great force is janitors and maids toiling in Arab countries. Its Seventh force consists mostly of those who went to universities in Sri Lanka in the swabasha medium and now living in western countries holding research, teaching and managerial positions. Most Tamils in this category are now forced to give money to Prabakaran and in future they would think of helping their villages in Jaffna or Vavuniya if an opportunity is given.

The National Science Foundation was supposed to develop a project like this but time is ripe to create a separate governmental agency to coordinate this important concept. Those who are about to retire from their work are in a position to spend time in the villages helping them in different ways.
- Sri Lanka Guardian