By K. Anaga –
Sri lanka/Ceylon has gone through various betrayals from time immemorial, during the rule of Sinhala/Tamil Kings. Betrayals were essentially due to their own seeking and infighting among the Kings and their subjects. I do not wish to look back at the past prior to 1948, but at the Betrayals, mostly of the Tamils, thereafter. During the rule of Sinhala Kings, killing of fathers, siblings and wives were rather common.
A section of the population of Ceylon, the Sinhalese, got their so called freedom from the British Rule in 1948. Betrayals against the Tamils, geminated slowly but steadily from there onwards. Although, the seeds of hatred and betrayals were sown during the latter part of the lives of Sir Ponnambalam and Arunachalam, long before the independence, despite their services to the nation in general and to the Sinhalese in particular. Mass killing of Tamils by the Sinhalese, periodically, was the political philosophy to subjugate them, commencing from Bandarnaike’s regime in 1956.
Change of Rulers
But, as far as the Tamils and Muslims were concerned their British rulers were simply replaced by the Sinhalese Rulers, due to the folly of Tamils and Muslims. Tamils and Muslims trusted the British Colonialists and there after the Sinhalese. Personal friendship with the Tamil and Muslim leaders led to the initial subtle betrayals led by DS Senanayake and his political party UNP.
The betrayals are not listed by me in chronological order, but at random.
Disenfranchisement of the Upcountry Tamils
The first betrayal against the Tamils was by the ‘Father of the Nation’ DS who disenfranchised plantation Tamils under the guise of calling them Indians, despite the fact they have been living in Srilanka for over 100 years and contributed their share for the development of Ceylon much more than what the Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims put together had done, though under British Rule. The question arises here as to what would have happened if the so called Indians were Sinhala Buddhists?
Trade Unions of the Plantation Workers.
Hitherto the plantation workers were taken for a ride by the employers and the governments. Now leaders of the plantation workers are riding on them by promising wage increases and improved housing units. Immediately after the independence and disenfranchisement there were only two trade unions to my knowledge representing the workers and the agitations for their betterment was far and few between. With the passage of time trade unions have increased promising the sun and the moon and the earth. Each trade union leaders wants to out beat the other in offering salary increases and single unit houses. But the promises are seldom or never implemented to the satisfaction of the workers. Despite the fact they pretend to fight for the workers’ rights, they fail to get together to achieve the needs of the workers. How-ever they get their share of contribution from the workers and lead a luxury life. Because of the illiteracy prevailing among the workers, the promises made by the leaders are taken as gospel truth only to realize later that they have been betrayed. The betrayals may not last long as the plantation workers are attending schools and Medias have made them knowledgeable of the world affairs. Slowly but steadily they are coming out of their ‘cubicles’ to see the world in its true perspective, much to the dislike of the Trade Unions.
Thereafter DS decided to formulate a colonization scheme for the Sinhalese in the Tamil areas particularly in the Eastern province to reduce the representation of the Tamils in the parliament and increase the representatives of the Sinhalese. This is another betrayal, against the Tamils by the so called ‘Father of the Nation’. He refused even to consider himself as a ‘step father’ for the plantation Tamils. The Tamil leaders Like GG Ponnambalam and his Tamil Congress Party too were responsible for this betrayal by their ineffective action. Mr. GGP was keen on being appointed as a minister rather than to fight for the rights of the Tamils thus betraying the Tamils.
Betrayal by the Eastern province Muslims.
In 1956, the Tamils and the Muslims who considered Tamil as their mother tong, got together with the Tamils in the eastern province and contested the Elections as a part and parcel of the IlankaiTamil Arasu Kadchi to fight the Sinhala only policy of the Sinhala parties. But, after a couple of years the Muslim MP’s of the ITAK switched side and joined the ‘Sinhala Only Party’ government for their personal benefits and not for the welfare of the Muslim population. From there on words the political betrayal by the Muslims against the Tamils continued unabated to the detriment of both communities.
The provincial council of Batticaloa was handed over to the Muslims by Sampanthar on a platter to express the solidarity of the Tamils with Muslims despite the Tamils having more members. (Eleven to Seven). But true to their mentality they did not care for the welfare of the Tamils
But carried on as if they were the ‘monarch of all they survey’.
Sambuddha Jayanthi at Galle Face Green.
While the Sinhala only bill was to be passed in Parliament, the ITAK, originally arranged to carry on a ‘sit out’ sathiyagraha on the steps of the parliament to prevent the MP’s Going in, but, was thrown out from there by the army. Thereafter they assembled at the Galle Face green, where they were manhandled by the thugs organized by SWRD. A number of sathiyagrahis were injured badly including Amirthalingam and Dr. Naganathan. Dr. Naganathan had to run into the Galle Face Hotel in his underwear, where he was greeted by some ladies with surprise. On seeing them Naganathan has supposed to have said “This is Sambuddha Jayanthi madam Sambudda Jayanthi”. This is because,Buddha Jayanthi was celebrated on a large scale, after SWRD assumed power. Commencement of the betrayal of democratic peaceful agitations
Banda- Chelva Pact.
When the ITAK announced a full-fledged non violent campaign against the Sinhala only act, the Prime Minister SWRD entered into pact with SJV Chelvanayakam to give Tamil language an official status and stop State Aided Colonization of the Tamil areas with the Sinhalese to change the texture of the population. Although this agreement fell short of the original demand, as matter of initial understanding, the agreement was signed with the hope of bettering the position in the future. But the future never came and the pact was unilaterally abrogated by SWRD, thus betraying the Tamils once again. The hamudurwas played an important role in abrogating the pact as SWRD became a prisoner of the schemes/activities of the hamauduruwas, whom he brought into limelight. The betrayed SWRD was later shot at by one of his favorite hamuduruwas in 1959. He died at the hospital. A rumor was set in motion to state that Some Tamil has killed him. Fortunately this rumor was nipped in the bud and the Tamils escaped the wrath of the Sinhalese.
The first major riots after the independence against the Tamils were in 1958. (There was, of course, a smaller riot in Galoya in 1956 with sporadic incidents elsewhere). It is said that the said riots were instigated by SWRD, proved by his inaction against it, after the Sinhala Only Act was passed in the parliament in1956. The Tamils carried out various non violent agitations against this act which caused grave concern to SWRD, the architect of Sinhala Only. His ‘Silver Tong oratory’ punctured the brains of the Sinhala Masses and the resulting ‘hemorrhage’ lead to this riots, satisfying the ego of SWRD, with no concern for the suffering of the Tamils. Sir Oliver Goonatilleka, the then Governor General intervened to stop the riots. The Tamil refugees were accommodated in various schools with no proper sanitary facilities or food. Thereby ships were commandeered by Sir Oliver and the Tamils were loaded on to cargo vessels and sailed to Jaffna. Even in the ships, food was in short Supply, but refugees were happy to get out of refugee camps. My parents and siblings also sailed with me, in the said Cargo Boat named ‘CEYBANK’. Thanks to SWRD’s betrayal.
The sending of the Tamils refugees to Jaffna, not once, but three times, to be safe, proves that a homeland of their own is a must. Though the homeland is now inundated by the Army and safety does not exist anymore.
Sir Ivor Jenning’s Constitution.
The Constitution of Ceylon drafted by Sir Ivor Jennings, did not pay heed to the request of the Tamils to provide adequate safe guards for minorities in general and the Tamils in particular. The ‘infamous’ section 29 of the constitution was the only safeguard provided, which was violated by the governments in power unashamedly commencing with the Sinhala only Act in 1956. After a few years, Sir Ivor Jennings appears to have confessed that he had made a big mistake in not providing meaningful safeguards for the minorities. A great betrayal of the Tamils, who served the Britishers honestly and sincerely- May have been for selfish reasons.
Sthiyagraha campaign organized and carried out, by the Tamil Arasu Kadchi (Federal Party) in the 1960’s, went on for weeks as a mass movement with thousands taking part every day of the month. Some Women handed over their jewelry as their contribution towards the sathiyagraha fund. At one, stage, postal service was organized and stamps were sold/issued by SJV Chelvanayakam in defiance of the law. This was brought to an end by deploying the army to crush it. Sathiyagrahis, ladies including pregnant women and young children were bundled up into army trucks / Lorries and dumped in various places, far from the site of Sathiyagraha which took place in front of the Jaffna Kachcheri. The leaders of the Tamil Arasu Kadchi Including SJV Chelvanayakam, Amirthalingam, Dr. Naganathan and other prominent participants were arrested and taken to Panagoda Army Camp. Even after crushing the non-violent movement, the Sinhala Government headed by Srimavo and supported by Felix Dias Bandaranayake did not want to come to terms with the Tamils. Arrogance of Felix and Vengeance of Srimavo, were the political philosophy of the SLFP government at that time and even thereafter. Our Democracy Mutilated and Betrayed.
Dudely Chelva Pact
In 1965, the UNP came into power with the help of the ITAK. The UNP signed an agreement with ITAK in similar terms of the agreement with SWRD, referred to as ‘Dudley Chelva Pact’. Mr. Murugesu Thiruchelvam QC, an appointed MP of the ITAK was inaugurated as a Minister of Local Government to oversee the implementation of the Pact. But the UNP government was postponing the implementation indefinitely, which was consistent with UNP’s continuous practice of being a snake under the grass. Dudley gay Bade Masala Vade was the theme song of Colvin. Thus the pact was packed up. This was another betrayal.
Srimavo’s Land Slide
In 1970, the SLFP government led by Srimavo, came into rule with absolute power. This led SJV to comment, that ‘only god can save the Tamils’ as the need for the Tamil parties to form the government did not arise. A comment made in desperation, but unworthy of a Senior Tamil Politician, criticized by many. Kumarasooriyar as Minister and Alfred Thuraiappa as mayor of Jaffna associated themselves with Srimavo’s government in their activities against the Tamils.
In 1972, a new constitution was drafted by the Srimavo’s government under the leadership of Colvin R de Silva an LSSP stalwart. Colvin was hailed as a person who fought for the equal rights of the Tamils with his famous saying “one language two nations and two language one nation”. But Colvin betrayed the Tamils by his double tong and included various obnoxious clauses in his constitution against the Tamils, including district wise standardization for the university entrance examination. Thus, Colvin laid the foundation for the Tamil students’ vehement agitations against the obnoxious clauses in the constitution, including the commencement of the armed struggle thereafter. This constitution was not accepted by the Tamils and therefore they were not a party to the drafting of the constitution.
International Tamil Conference.
Arrangements were afoot to hold the International Tamil Conference at the Jaffna esplanade in 1974, where Tamil scholars, from all over the world were to participate. However, due to the strained feelings between the Tamils and the government, Srimavo, with the support of Alfred Thuraiappa tried their best to abort it being held in Jaffna and suggested that the Conference be held at the BMICH and offered to defray the cost. But after various struggles, the conference was held in Jaffna Veerasingham hall and at the esplanade. Of course the government tried to stop the foreign scholars attending the conference by delaying their visas. But at the last minute, saner counsel prevailed, due to fear of bad publicity for the government and the conference got on to a ‘windy’ start.
But the prevailing ‘windy’ atmosphere turned cyclonic on the last day of the conference, where an Indian speaker a Muslim Tamil scholar (Nina Mohamed) was scheduled to address the crowd which was overflowing from the hall spilling over to the grounds nearby. Hence, a make-shift stage was arranged to accommodate the speakers outside the hall and speeches were going on with thousands peacefully listening. But when Niana Mohamed commenced his speech, police fired a couple of gun shots, which brought down the overhead electrical wires resulting in 9 men falling dead on the spot. Government refused an inquiry as Tamil lives were considered cheap. Thuriappah’s support to the government betrayed the Tamils, resulting in death of nine. I was also associated in organizing the cultural activities at this conference.
JR’s Land Slide
In the 1977 General Elections, UNP was returned to power with a 5/6th. Majority in the south and The Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) was returned with a very large majority in the North/East. These elections were held soon after passing of the Vaddukkoddai resolutions in 1976, demanding Independence for a Tamil state in the North/East, where Tamils were in a majority from time immemorial and even when Ceylon received its freedom from the British in 1948.
SLFP lost heavily in that they were returned with only 8 seats. Thus the TULF leader Mr. Appapillai Amirthalingam was appointed as the leader of the opposition in his own right/merit, unlike Mr. Rajavarothayam Sampanthan who was ‘appointed’ by the government as the leader of the opposition in 2015 under fortuitous circumstances, with sixteen seats comprising of various Tamil parties.
Immediately after the UNP government was formed in July 1977, an organized riot against the Tamil population was set in motion with the blessing of the government in general and JR in Particular. I too was a victim of these riots. But as I was way in Jaffna along with my family I escaped without physical harm, though my house was damaged badly. My sister and family who were living next door to my house escaped miraculously due to her neighbor’s intervention. Most of the Tamils as in the past voted for the UNP and this how they were betrayed. We had to sell our properties for a song and vanish from the area.
To satisfy the world JR appointed a one man commission referred to as the Sansoni Commission, to inquire into the riots, the damages caused and suggestions for prevention of Such Riots in the future .Written submissions were made by many including me, but the outcome was another betrayal, with nothing coming out of it. Of course there were no riots thereafter, but a pogrom in 1983. Naturally our suggestions could not prevent the requirements of a pogrom of that magnitude. After all it was a war declared By JR over the media thus: ‘If you want war I will give you war and if you want peace I will give you peace,’ a brave declaration by a great ‘Commander in Chief’ on unarmed Civilian Tamil population.
Notwithstanding, the Tiger Cubs took up the challenge, ‘walked the straight and narrow path’, with determination to find a just/fair solution with arms. In fact JR was responsible for the Creation of LTTE. But unfortunately, India, Britain, USA and China betrayed the Tamils in supporting the government in the civil war. Britain, who was responsible for bringing the Tamils under their rule by merging them with the south, should have restored the status quo of the Tamils as prior to their takeover of the North and East. Instead they deliberately failed and betrayed the Tamils when they left Ceylon.
Britain’s support to the government during the civil war was the second and most deadly betrayal by Britain which resulted in thousands of death of Tamil civilians.
Britain’s betrayal of the Wind Rush population living there for years on end without adequate Citizenship Rights rushes to my mind.
Cremation of the Jaffna Public library.
One of Asia’s finest library was “burnt alive” with its soul of over 97,000 books.
This Cremation was not done by ordinary hooligans but by educated politicians, allegedly by Gamini Dissanyake, who happened to be Ministers of the UNP government. No inquiry was held for fear of exposing the parties who were involved. A betrayal coupled with arrogance.
When you look back, it is evident that the UNP has done more harm to Tamils than any other Sinhala parties over the years. Despite various crimes committed by UNP, the savior of the Tamils (TNA) seems to derive great pleasure in licking the boots that kick the Tamils. Of course the other Sinhala parties trample the Tamils, with their heavy boots to death. Thus they have no time to lick.
A Hobson Choice for the Tamils and what Prabkaran had predicted has come to right. No Sinhalese government will treat the Tamils with respect unless they are equally powerful, with arms like the government.
Disenfranchisement of Srimavo.
JRJ, despite the fact he defeated Srimavo very convincingly, wanted to ensure that she never came back to power politics. A psychological fear of Srimavo gripped JR. Hence, he charged Srimavo under special laws, made her lose her seat and disenfranchised her. Mr.Amirthalingam as the leader of the opposition brilliantly defended her in the parliament but it did not bring any desired results. It must be said that Srimavo was one of the Sinhala leaders who cared less for the Tamils. Because she was left at lurch, by the most of the Sinhala political parties, she was invited by the Tamil population and given a rousing reception in Jaffna to impress upon her the need for understanding and appreciation of underdogs. She was one of the underdogs, due to the betrayal of JR.
Good Governess- Yahapalanaya- Nalladchi
The ‘yahapalanaya’ which came into power with the support of the Tamils, to mitigate their sufferings after war, did nothing about it. Even the promises made to the Sinhala electorates to bring to book the alleged murderers of the former government did not materialize. Though Ranil and Maithre are at logger heads now, they were apparently united in allowing the perpetrators of crimes during the former regime to slip through their hands. Some of the accused belonging to the armed forces have been given promotions to eclipse their misdeeds. This betrayal will never be forgiven, as human lives are involved, unlike the Bond Scam.
Betrayal of the Betrayed
TNA who called themselves the savior of the Tamils, failed completely in not only solving the political problems of the Tamils but even the day to day sufferings of their problems. Sampanthar and his clique gave a blank cheque book, rather a Blank Cheque with sufficient leaves to the Ranil government to write any number of of cheques and carry on regardless of the sufferings of the Tamil mothers looking for their children handed over to the army, political prisoners who are under arrest without charges, release of private lands, continuous colonization of Tamil areas with Sinhalese and Buddhist Vihares in the Hindu temple premises, destroying the Hindu temples without any cause, appointment of Sinhalese laborers in the Tamil areas when unemployment is rampant for the Tamils. ‘Sam Sum’ (Sampanther/Sumanthiran) appears to have feathered their nests to their liking. Allegedly, Luxury Cars /house for Sam were given? The title of President Counsel was conferred on Sumanthiran without much fanfare for fear of antagonizing the Tamils. The title P.C will be carried by him until his death, while the Tamil Mothers will carry the agony of losing their off springs until their death.
As I write this a News flash came on the screen to say that Sumanthiran met Gotha and had a chat for a couple of hours. Perhaps another betrayal is in the offing?
Chinese Influence and Other Foreign Interventions.
It is generally accepted that Mahinda’s government was responsible for handing over Hambantota and the Port City Project on a 99 year lease to China. But my contention is not only Mahinda but also most of the Sinhala Politicians, Maithree and Ranil too are responsible for the sell out. Sinhala population carries out various agitations on insignificant matters, on drop of a hat, but their deafening silence on important matters of this nature is baffling. GMOA, who opposed/opposes the establishment of foreign universities, never commented on this sell out. However they did not hesitate to betrayed the poor students by delaying their registrations.
Tamils have been demanding a Federal State for the North/East from 1949 on words, but the successive Sinhala Governments never even considered it. But foreign governments are welcome with open arms to take whatever they need/want from us.
Why not lease out the north/east to the Tamils at least on a 50 year lease with a reasonable safeguards to continue as a United States of Srilanka. Unlike the Sinhalese, who have betrayed the Tamils on numerous occasions, I am sure Tamils will not betray the Sinhalese or the Tamils by selling out part of their properties to Tamil Nadu or Maldives, USA or Britain. There is no proof of Tamils betraying the Sinhalese. They only fought for their rights.
Every single political party in Srilanka is running round in circles to get a grip of the political situation to nominate a president and the Tamil political parties are running behind them to get the best out of the worst, so that they may not get into a swamp.
All the Tamil parties apparent intention is to get the best power sharing possible, but every Sinhala parties intention is to give the least and get the best support from the Tamils. They know very well, because of the infighting among the Tamil parties, all of them, without exception, will be satisfied with fallen crump of the masters table as long as the leaders are given some bones to chew on till the next elections.
The Greatest Betrayers of the Tamils.
The greatest betrayers of the Tamils are Tamil leaders themselves. Tamil Arasu Kadchi and its allys cries foul and refer to the other Tamils parties who have not aligned with them as betrayers– may be, but Sam/Sum and their clan by their actions and inactions proved beyond reasonable doubt, that nobody can beat them in the game of betrayal, despite the fact they are relatively new to this game.
The Tamils are not communal in their outlook but selfish and self centred. Thereby they cannot look beyond their nose. There is a popular Tamil saying “Enakku Mooku Poanlum Paruvai Illai Ehirikku Sakunapilai Enil” meaning, ‘Even if I lose My Nose, it Matters Not, As Long as it is a Bad Omen for My Enemy’. Preferably a Tamil Enemy- is it?