Terrorists can be killed; can terrorism be killed?
By M.S. Shah Jahan
Is the Democratic Socialistic Republic of Sri Lanka at war with Tamileelam? No not at all. The (central) Government of Sri Lanka is presently engaged in an armed conflict with a guerilla group or a separatist group or a terrorist group called Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam known as LTTE that calls for cession from the rest of the country to form a separate state.”The Heavens do not create people above people, nor do they create people below people” — a Japanese saying
Can this conflict be defined as a war? Fighting with the people you feed. What Russia did in Georgia — that was war.
Is it a civil war? No. There is no civil disobedience movement and it is the central government that supplies essentials and consumer goods, not entirely at their cost but with foreign aid to people living in ‘enemy’ territory. Whether it is done with sincerity or the supplies reach regularly is neither here nor there. In a conflict torn zone, disruption to normal life and distribution are common and an acceptable fact. Education and travel abroad are on par with the rest of the state. In brief, whatever the separatist movement cannot provide the people, the state tends to provide.
Their grievances for the fight are based on their rights. Issues on deprivation in education, employment, usage of their own language, development in their area, etc. Since passive demands of their forefathers were met with violence and brutal attacks the younger generation has taken up arms to pay back the offenders with the same coin. In the beginning it was like a child pricking an elderly person but its prowess grew in time to a mammoth level with many mistakes committed on both sides.
Before we go further, let us take a look at Malaysia, formerly Malaya. Like Lanka this country too is defined as a multi ethnic community, chiefly of Malays, Chinese and Indians. Malaya was predominantly inhabited by Malays and aborigines before the advent of the colonialists, primarily the British, who brought Indian labour to work in dockyards and plantations.
On the other hand, to escape famine in the mainland, Chinese also migrated to the Malay Peninsula in search of jobs which were available in plenty under the British as the local indigenous Malays of Muslim stock stayed away, preserving their self pride, from the new Christian rulers. I extensively use below the blog presented by Dr. Mahathir Mohamed, ex prime minister on July 12, 2008.
“Through treaties signed by the Rulers of the Malay States of the Peninsula the British acquired the right to rule the Malay States. There was no citizenship or documents about citizenship status as in most countries. The foreign “guests” prospered in the British ruled Malay States and in the British colonies of Penang, Malacca and Singapore. The Malay subjects of the rulers and the rulers themselves did not feel threatened by the numbers of these non-Malays and the disparities between the general wealth and progress of the foreign guests and the subjects of the rulers. They did not think that the foreigners who had settled in the country would ever demand citizenship rights.
“When Japan conquered the Malay States and the colonies of the Straits Settlements, the Chinese felt insecure as the Japanese were their historical enemies. Many Chinese formed and joined guerilla forces and disappeared into the jungle. When Japan surrendered, the Chinese guerillas came out and seized many police stations in the interior and declared that they were the rulers of the country. They seized many people, Chinese and Malays and executed a number of them.
“Malay villagers retaliated by killing the Chinese in rural areas. Tension rose and a Sino-Malay war was only averted because of the arrival of the British forces. But the ill feeling and animosity between the two races remained high. It was in this tense situation that the British proposed the Malayan Union which would give the “guests” the right of citizenship as indistinguishable from that of the Malays.
“The Malays rejected the Malayan Union and its citizenship proposal. They forced the British to return to the status quo ante in a new Federation of Malaya. Only Chinese who were British subjects in the colonies of the Straits Settlements were eligible to become citizens in this new Federation. Naturally the Malay citizens far outnumbered the Chinese Malayan citizens.
“Chinese leaders appealed to the British, who then persuaded the UMNO President, Dato Onn Jaafar to propose to open UMNO to all races. This proposal was rejected by the other UMNO leaders and Dato Onn had to resign. The British kept up the pressure for the Malays to be more liberal with citizenship for non-Malays.
“In 1955, when Tunku Abdul Rahman, as chief minister of a self-governing British Federation of Malaya with the alliance of Chinese and Indians in his cabinet who were mainly elected on UMNO’s Malay votes, asked for independence, the British continued to insist on citizenship rights for the Chinese and Indians as a condition. Tunku decided to give one million citizenship to the two communities based purely on residence. It was at this stage that the leaders of the three communal parties discussed and reached agreement on the relationship between the three communities in an independent Federation of Malaya.
“It was to be a quid pro quo arrangement. In exchange for the one million citizenships the non-Malays must recognise the special position of the Malays as the indigenous people. Certain laws such as the pre-eminence of Islam as the state religion, the preservation of Malay reserve land, the position of the Malay rulers and Malay customs and the distribution of government jobs were included in the understanding.”
“This was called ‘Social Contract’ and in plain language, under this agreement the minorities of Chinese and Indians including Ceylonese agreed to be second class citizens of Malaysia for the price or prize of citizenship. Today Malaysia is simmering with the third and fourth generation demanding equal rights in education, employment and usage of their language. While the ruling UMNO wanted to maintain the status quo, the political alliance headed by Anwar Ibrahim that agreed to amend the ‘Social Contract’ gained remarkable seats in the general election.”
Now let us come back to Sri Lanka with 2500 years of heritage. Lanka’s position is quite different from that of Malaya. In the south, there were many ancient Sinhala kingdoms and in the north Tamil regimes ruled too. Otherwise we would not talk about Duttagemunu and Elara. Never was there one Lanka under a single ruler from Kataragama to Kankesanthurai. Though King Buwanekabahu IV is described as the sole ruler of the whole country, the north had been a separate, independent state.
The British who ‘amalgamated’ the island, like in Malaya before giving independence should have insisted on making all races, religions and languages constitutionally equal. But they failed. They grabbed Singapore from the Sultan of Johore without a legal deal to return it, and after 150 years left it in the hands of the Chinese immigrants under the name of democracy. Thus the Malays of Singapore have become second class citizens in the land where their ancestors ruled.
Therefore the Tamils of the north have all the right to ask for equality from the central government to which their parental state is incorporated. If you disagree they should be left to mind their own business. Now they demand to be left to mind their own business. If the disgruntled southern youths had a reason for an armed insurrection, the Tamil youth have much more valid reasons for their struggle even though it may be a David vs Goliath fight.
Therefore whether they win or perish is a different question. Not all the armed struggles in the world were victorious. Because sovereign states always have the edge to crush such rebellions — kill terrorists, but to kill terrorism, the issues must be addressed to the satisfaction of the people. As long as that remains dormant the people would not be favourable and terrorists will be reborn like cockroaches. Therefore Lord Narayanan — an avatar of Lord Vishnu cannot be wrong.
The ancient classical document states, “The one who treats me well is my leader, the one who treats me cruelly is my enemy.” The question is which side has a human government and which side has a cruel government — Ho Yanxi from the Art Of War. On which side the Lankan government is towards the Tamils is well known to the Tamils themselves. Those who adamantly wanted to banish them from the capital, today say their good intentions were not propagated. Good wine needs no bush. The hapless Tamils certainly are aware of their intention.
Racism in this country was cemented by the descendents of Nilaperumal aka Kalukapuge. Who was he? When S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was the prime minister, Dr. James Thevathasan Rutnam wrote in the Colombo Tribune weekly of July 19, 1957, that Nilaperumal, a Hindu Tamil from South India who arrived in Ceylon in the late 15th or early 16th century was the direct ancestor of the Bandaranaikes. He was the high priest of the Temple of God Saman, and commanded to take the name of Nayaka Pandaram (Chief Record Keeper) which in time adopted Pandara Nayaka that had turned into the Sinhalese Bandaranaike. Hinduism of its bearers had been replaced by Buddhism and later the family became Catholics and then changed to Protestants with the change of colonial masters.
Lankan politicians always maintain dubious positions without guilt. This world renowned anti Tamil, anti Indian, pro Buddhist patriotic politician was proved to be a descendent of an Indian Tamil, born an baptised a Christian, whose ancestors were subservient to foreign invaders. Some who show themselves as ardent Buddhists during the day are great lovers of Christianity at night. (The Morning Leader – August 20,2008)