An open letter to Mr. K.H.J. Wijayadasa, former Secretary to the Prime Minister and Secretary to the President (1984-1994)
[ TamilCanadian ] [ 13:05 GMT, Sep. 6, 2000 ]
By: Dr. Victor Rajakulendran
Dear Mr. Wijayadasa
I read your article titled “Tamil Eelam: A myth founded on a fictitious homeland concept” appeared in the Internet version of “The Island” (29/08/2000) via http://www.island.lk/2000/08/27/politi01.html . While reading it, most of the time I felt laughing at you because of your foolishness in trying to convince your audience, at the Symposium on the Causes and Consequences of Terrorism where you were suppose to have presented this article as a Paper, with your own re-written history of Sri Lanka to support your argument. At times I got angry too, when you misquoted others and distorted the history to legitimize your blatant lies.
The organizers of the symposium, the Council of Liberal Democracy, must be either too liberal or too ignorant to let a liar like you to present this rubbish in their symposium. The International Centre for Ethnic Studies must be regretting for letting you utter this nonsense at their centre and thus aided to further polarize the two major ethnic communities of Sri Lanka. It is interesting to note that you have chosen the 23rd of July, considered by the Tamil community as the Black July Day, to make your divisive utterances.
The only truth in your article I could find is that the Sinhalese constitute 74% of Sri Lanka’s population. The rest is all-full of lies and distortion of facts. You have said in your article that “there is overwhelming historical, archaeological, epigraphical, cartographic, anthropological and literary evidence to prove that the entirety of Sri Lanka, including the Jaffna peninsula, was inhabited by the Sinhalese for well over 1800 years, from the 6th century B.C to the end of the 12th century AD”. Mr. Wijayadasa, are you aware of the following:
1. The island of Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) was ceded to the British Crown in 1802 by a treaty known as the Treaty of Amiens. The map of Ceylon attached to this treaty depicts the Island of Ceylon as two different countries – a Tamil country composed of the Northeast and a Sinhala country composed of the South West and central parts.
2. The Englishmen, Sir Hugh Cleghorn, wrote in June 1799 to the then UK government, within 3 years of British set foot in Ceylon….”Two different nations from a very ancient period have divided between them the possession of the Island. First the Sinhalese, inhabiting the interior of the country in its Southern and Western parts, and secondly the Malabars (Malabar meaning Tamil) who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners.”
3. A Chief Justice in the British Government, Sir Alexander Johnston wrote on 01.07.1827 to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland as follows….”…I think it may safely be concluded both from them and all the different histories which I have in my possession, that the race of people who inhabited the whole of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the Island of Ceylon, at the period of their greatest agricultural prosperity spoke the same language, used the same written character, and had the same origin, religion, castes, laws and manners, as the race of people who at the same period inhabited the southern peninsula of India….”
Mr. Wijayadasa, if you are not aware of these documents, please pay a visit to the British Council Library and ask for these documents and educate yourself. Can you quote any non-Sri Lankan, who has documented any evidence to substantiate your claim that the entirety of Sri Lanka including the Jaffna peninsula was inhabited by the Sinhalese for well over 1800 years from the 6th Century B.C to the end of the 12th Century AD.
Mr. Wijayadasa, you have quoted Professor Karthigesu Indrapala, who was a Professor of History at the Jaffna University at one time, to have stated that the colonization of the Jaffna peninsula by Tamil settlers from South India commenced in the latter half of the 13th Century resulting in the emergence of a sub-kingdom called Jaffnapatnam under a Tamil sub-ruler who at all times ruled under the overall control and direction of the Sinhalese kings. Mr. Wijayadasa, Professor Indrapala now lives in Australia and his house is situated only 3 km away from my house. I have spoken to him about your mischief before I started to write this open letter. He only laughed at your mischief and was keen on having a copy of your article.
Mr. Wijayadasa, the historical truth is that the entire island of Ceylon was under the sway of Tamil kings at times and the Sinhalese kings at other times. The entire island of Ceylon came under Chola rule (Indian Tamil king Raja Raja Cholan) in 1017 and the Tamil king of the Jaffna Kingdom has served under Chola dynasty. But, a Jaffna king has never served a Sinhala king. The only period the Yalpana Kingdom was under Sinhala dominion was for 15 years from 1450-1467. In 1450, Sempaha Perumal, on behalf of Sinhala King Parakrama Bahu IV, captured Jaffna. Sempaha Perumal, called Sapumal Kumaraya by the Sinhalese, too was a Tamil (the son of Pannikkan), was raised by Parakrama Bahu IV. The ousted Jaffna king Kanagasuria withdrew to Thamil Nadu but returned with an army in 1467 and retook Jaffna.
Mr. Wijayadasa, when referring to the traditional homeland of the Tamils you are trying to establish that this is a concept originated at the Federal Party convention held in Tricomalee in 1951. You are also trying to say that it was further elaborated in the TULF, 1977 Election Manifesto. In attempting to convince your audience with your falsehood, you have once again misquoted something to support your version of the story you are trying to create. This time you have modified the portion of the TULF Election Manifesto. What you have quoted from the TULF Election Manifesto in your article reads as follows:
“The entire island of Ceylon was ruled by the Tamil King Ellalan or Elara (2nd Century B.C). Thereafter, the island was ruled by Tamil Kings at times; and by Sinhalese Kings at the other times; for over a thousand years. As a result of these alternating fortunes a Tamil sovereign kingdom called Tamil Eelam emerged as a clear and stable political fact at the beginning of the 13th century. The territory from Chillow through Puttalam to Mannar and thence to the North and from there covering the East stretching to Kumana in the South through Trincomalee and Batticaloa was firmly established as the exclusive homeland of the Tamils. This is the territory of Tamil Eelam. The Portugese, the Dutch and the British captured it in turn and each power ruled it as a separate country till 1833. The British amalgamated it with Sinhala land for administrative convenience. In 1948, the British granted independence to the Sinhala land and the Sinhalese but not the Tamil Eelam and the Tamils”
Mr. Wijeyadasa, I am giving bellow the portion of the TULF Manifesto from where you have extracted and distorted the portion you have quoted in your article. This is what I found in the official copy of the TULF 1977 Election Manifesto. In trying to prove that the present republic of Sri Lanka is in reality a union of “Sinhala Land” and “Tamil Eelam” the TULF has given the following account in their 1977 Manifesto:
“The fact that the Tamil nation has been living in this country from pre-historic times enjoying its sovereign rights under a state of its own is recorded in no less an authority than the great work of Sinhalese history – Mahawamsa.
Even before the Christian era, the entire Island of Ceylon was ruled by Tamil Kings, Senan, Kuddikan and Elara (Ellalan) and thereafter for over thousand years, as a result of struggle for supremacy between the Tamil Kings and the Sinhalese Kings the capital of the Sinhalese Kings was gradually shifted southwards away from Tamil Centers. These are facts of recorded history.
It is also a fact that the entire island was under the sway of Tamil Kings at times and the Sinhalese Kings at other times. From this background of alternating fortunes, emerged, at the beginning of the 13th century a clear stable political fact.
At this time, the territory stretching in the western sea-board from Chilaw through Puttalam to Mannar and thence to the Northern regions and in the East, Trincomalee and also the Baticaloa Regions that extended southwards up to Kumana or to the northern banks of the river Kumbukkana Oya were firmly established as the exclusive homeland of the Tamils. This is the territory of Tamil Eelam.
For several centuries before the advent of Europeans to Ceylon in the 16th century, the Tamils have been living in this territory under their own Kingdom. Tamils reigned supreme in this country with their own national colors and their own military forces…
…The Portuguese who subdued the State of Tamil Eelam continued to govern it as a separate state. So did the Dutch who captured it, in turn from the Portuguese. The Cleghorn Minute clearly establishes that even under the Dutch, the judicial district of Jaffnapatnam that covered the northern and eastern parts of the Island extended, in the west coast of the Island, from Puttalam to Mannar and in the east, southwards up to the limits of Kumana or the river Kumbukkan Oya that separated Batticaloa from the southern Sinhalese district of Matara.
This Tamil State was captured from the Dutch by the British who too continued to retain its separate status till 1833 when, for convenience of administration, it was brought under one all island authority, the Government of Ceylon…
Mr. Wijayadasa, by comparing your distorted version and the original version of the TULF Election Manifesto, it becomes very clear to any one that all what TULF has done is to, give all the historical evidences to prove that the Traditional Homeland of the Tamils existed even before the Christian era, and more certainly before the advent of Europeans. It is also very clear that you have miserably failed in your attempt to disprove historical evidence by distorting others’ writings.
Mr. Wijayadasa, you are trying to distort facts to the extent of calling the 60 million Tamils of Tamil Nadu as the Tamil Diaspora. If you know the meaning of the word Diaspora (according to the Oxford dictionary – The dispersion of the Jews; (situation of) any group of people similarly dispersed), where do you think this 60 million people have dispersed from? As you have suggested why they need to set up a Tamil State there? They also have a traditional homeland called Tamil Nadu but not like in Sri Lanka, this homeland has been accepted and accommodated in the greater union of India under a federal set up. This was possible because the Nehru and Ghandis were better statesmen than Senanayakas, Bandaranayakas and Jeyawardana and also there were no Wijayadasas to feed their statesmen with distorted stories.
Mr. Wijayadasa, you have stated in your article that there are many convincing arguments to prove that the Tamil separatist claim for the Eastern Province, are false and fabricated. You also have stated that;
“The first Tamil settlements in the Eastern province date back to about 150 years when excess tobacco labor from Jaffna and the Tamil estate labor engaged by the British, army to quell the 1848 Kandyan rebellion were settled in the coastal areas of Trincomalle and Batticalao districts. Thereafter, the state aided Tamilisation and colonization of the Eastern province took place vigorously as a part of the British policy of divide and rule.”
I have given enough evidence to show that the Tamils occupied the Eastern Province from ancient time and what British found when they invaded Sri Lanka. You have accused the British for colonizing and Tamilising the Eastern Province. Can you show any evidence for this? If so why you could not give any in your article to support your claim? Mr. Wijayadasa, you know very well the British brought the Indian Tamils to work their plantations, but they settled them only in the estates in the Central Province. These people were disenfranchised by the first Sinhala government and the Eastern Province was systematically colonized by Sinhalese through state sponsored colonization scheme. The census statistics of Sri Lanka will bear witness to this. I would like to quote a paragraph here, from Dr. Jehan Perera’s (Media Director, National Peace Council) article entitled, “Balanced compromise on the north-east unit” published in “The Island” Sunday issue in late 1990s.
“The fact is that in the census of 1920 only 4 percent of the population of the Eastern Province was Sinhalese. The Sinhalese settlements in the east were small and scattered, even though there is historical evidence that most of the east came under the umbrella of the Kandyan Kingdom. But while the ultimate rulers were in the Sinhalese Kingdom of Kandy, the people of the east were mostly Tamils and Muslims. It is only in the past fifty years that there has been a substantial influx of Sinhalese settlements through state intervention.”
Mr. Wijayadasa, do you need anything more than this living testimony of Dr. Jehan Perera, to prove that what you have said is a blatant lie?
Mr. Wijayadasa, you also have stated that:
” In the 1981 census, Eastern province had a population of nearly 1 million of which 25% were Sinhalese, 40% Sri Lanka Tamils and 32% moors and the rest 3% others…A comparison of the 3 ethnic groups as reflected in the 1921 census and 1981 census does not indicate any displacement of Tamils or Muslims, even though it is claimed that the Sinhalese have colonized Tamil lands.”
Mr. Wijayadasa, can you realise now that you yourself has proved to your audience on the 23rd of July, 2000, that there was a movement of Sinhalese into this area between 1921 and 1981? As you have admitted if there was no displacement of Tamils or Muslims, how could have the proportion of Sinhalese increased from 4% to 25%. Even a child will tell you that the only way would have been by an influx of Sinhalese into the area. Obviously colonization does not mean displacement of the existing people, but establishing new population among the existing population. There is nothing wrong if landless Sinhalese peasants are provided land in the Tamil homeland and let to coexist with the Tamils. However, what is wrong is to use this deliberate alteration in the demography of the region to claim now that the East was not part of the Tamil homeland.
Mr. Wijayadasa, you have presented your paper in a Symposium on the “Causes and consequences of terrorism”. You have neither discussed about the causes for any terrorism nor consequences of such terrorism. All what you have done is to valiantly try to disprove the Tamils’ claim for their traditional homeland in the North-East of the island of Sri Lanka. During this process you have misquoted others, distorted history and also lied profusely. You have also demonstrated that you did not even know the meaning of certain things you were talking about.
One could only imagine, to what extent a person with such a mentality would have contributed to the polarization of the ethnic communities in Sri Lanka, over the 10 long years while you were functioning as the Secretary to the Prime Minister and the secretary to the President, to plunge this island paradise to such a pathetic situation that is in today. Mr. Wijayadasa, if you really want to help your country and its people, please desist from attempting in the future to cultivate chauvinistic ideology among your audience as you have tried through your article. Instead, please try and work towards bringing the two major Sinhalese political parties and the Buddhist Clergy together in reaching a consensus on how to settle the burning issue of Ethnic conflict.
God bless you
Dr. Victor Rajakulendran
Courtesy : TamilCanadian