THE DOUBLE STANDARDS
Shenali D Waduge
The very organizations and individuals ever ready to pull out the red card of international human rights and laws have been chanting the chorus of a “sinhalization” of “historical Tamil areas” totally ignoring that it is the right of any citizen to live within the territory of the State in addition to the inability to even prove of anything called a “historical homeland”. With more Tamils living outside a fictitious “Homeland” and amongst the Sinhalese further nullifying claims of discrimination the Sri Lankan Authorities should not allow political pressures to deny the right of every citizen to live where they like while also delaying resettling all Sinhalese and Muslims who had been chased out by LTTE and the families of those who had been ethnically cleansed in the North. If the Tamils can live with the Sinhalese in the South why can’t Sinhalese live with Tamils in the North of Sri Lanka and if Navi Pillai is bringing up this item on her agenda this question needs to be posed directly to her to answer.
What do those professing the theory of “Sinhalization” of the North have to say about the
· RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT enshrined in Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?
· RIGHT TO RESIDENCE enshrined in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which reads “everyone lawfully within the territory of a State shall, within that territory, have the right to liberty of movement and freedom to choose his residence”
· RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT under the Sri Lankan Constitution (Chapter 3- Fundamental Rights) (h) the freedom of movement and of choosing his residence within Sri Lanka.
The Tamils are exercising their right to freedom of movement and residence, if so why are the majority Sinhalese that comprise 14.8million of a 20million population being denied this right? Why have the Sinhalese been chased out of their homes in the North and why are they not been allowed to resettle while other Sinhalese who now wish to start life in the North are also being denied their Constitutional right? What right does a party like the TNA sitting in Parliament thanks to the LTTE have to make objections to any citizen of Sri Lanka wanting to own land, run business and live in the North? Who gave them any right to declare the North as their own even if they have managed to put a retired Supreme Court judge to making the eviction calls?
Many of the Sinhalese living in the North were removed from their original dwellings during the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement for which the UNP Government and the present Foreign Minister must be held accountable.
Many of these Sinhalese families have deeds to prove their land ownership but it appears malpractices taking place are purposely attempting to deny them their right to live in the North. Even without the deed it is a right of every citizen to live wherever they like in the territory of Sri Lanka. Therefore it is not just a question of resettling Sinhalese (who speak Tamil having lived there for decades) and Muslims displaced ever since the outbreak of terror and defacto rule of LTTE but it is for the Government to make a public ruling that EVERY CITIZEN IS ENTITLED TO LIVE WHERE THEY LIKE and no one can object to it. While resettling the 165,000 Sinhalese evicted from the North and East as well as the Muslims, the Sri Lankan Government must put its foot down and say that TNA, Western Governments, Tamil Diaspora, India, Tamil Nadu, its Chief Minister or humanitarian agencies have no right to use slogans of “sinhalization” to put pressure on the Sri Lankan Government to not allow Sinhalese or Muslims to settle in the North.
Politics and political decisions cannot be determined on submission of myths just as foreign nations and international organizations cannot put pressures upon a legitimate government based on those unsubstantiated myths. Moreso, the Tamils finds the origins of its culture continuing unabated across the Palk Straits in Tamil Nadu. It is in Tamil Nadu that the Tamil ethnic cultural originates and where the real Tamil Homeland is found, why is it that the parties claiming to help Tamils find their original homeland do not look where it is already running as a state, Tamil is official language and where virtually all are Tamils.
The myths have gained false credibility in the light of Sri Lankan Tamil political parties, some Tamil intellectuals putting their qualifications on line to falsify history and media ever ready to publish anything for money.
Some of the lies are obvious:
· Why has the number of Tamils leaving the North to settle amongst the Sinhalese in the South throughout LTTE reign increased if we are to accept the notion of “ethnic discrimination by Sinhalese against the much publicized version that LTTE was the savior of Tamils?” – statistical evidence can prove this.
· It is also proved by the fact that the Tamil politicians themselves live amongst the Sinhalese and not amongst their own people especially during the LTTE reign where TNA claimed LTTE was the sole representative of the Tamil people.
· This is also proved by the increase in Tamil businesses, land ownership by Tamils, increase in Tamil schoolgoing children and number of Tamils in employment in Sinhalese majority areas.
· In contrast, while the elite Tamils nicely made their way out of the North the ordinary people who were left behind became the guinea pigs of the LTTE to be used as suicide bombers, combatants, child soldiers, civilian messengers and to serve in LTTE’s administration and other logistics units.
No Tamil Nation in Sri Lanka – Tamil Nation is in India
· There is and was NO Tamil nation in Sri Lanka – that Tamil nation exists in Tamil Nadu where Kaweri valley is the center of Tamil civilization. Sri Lanka’s North or East were never a center of Tamil civilization.
· To define an area as a homeland there has to be a distinct civilization emerging from that region, a politically autonomous entity has to exist over a length of time, a long continued habitation of the same people, concept of homeland must prevail in the minds of the people, the cultural landscape must reflect the culture of the people with credible evidence – none of these criterions can be proved in the North or East of Sri Lanka except perhaps the last but Tamil Nadu meets all these criteria for a Tamil Homeland and given that 65million of the world’s 72million Tamils already live in Tamil Nadu it is the Homeland of the Tamils.
No independent Tamil Kingdom in Sri Lanka or Traditional Tamil Homeland in North or East
· If such a kingdom existed on its own where is evidence of such when in comparison to Sinhalese-Buddhist hydraulic civilization binding these two provinces?
· The British demarcated provinces based on easy access to coast, administrative convenience and cartographic convenience. The British did not demarcate provinces based on any Tamil Homeland! If so there should be separate agreements/treaties signed between the colonials and Tamils.
· While no distinctive Tamil civilization existed in Sri Lanka the Sinhala Buddhist civilization spread throughout the island and never was the North and East ONLY inhabited by Tamils.
· Toponymy (place names) indicate that original Sinhalese names have been translated to Tamil (not the other way round). Refer Prof. Chandre Dharmawardana – http://dh-web.org/place.names/ The Government of Sri Lanka must ensure that these original names continue to prevail.
· Records of Portuguese, Dutch and English amply proves that the North and East were under the Sinhalese Kings.
Tamils were not the original inhabitants of Sri Lanka to claim inheritance
· While Tamils accept the existence of the tribes Yaksha, Naga and Deva they also claim to be original inhabitants of Sri Lanka but are at a loss when asked to prove their historical continuity with archeological, documentary or even oral-tradition evidence.
· However there are over 600 ancient Buddhist shrines all over the North and East provinces (most of these evidences have been destroyed by TULF and LTTE). People continue to worship sacred Buddhist places in North – Nagadipa, Seruwila, Dighawapi, numerous stone inscriptions of Sinhalese-Buddhist kings are found in the 2 provinces.
· Tamils did arrive when South Indians invaded Sri Lanka – which makes them invading immigrants. Tamil settlements started only in the 12th century – but there was no distinct Tamil-Hindu civilization different to that of Tamil Nadu. The Sinhalese have however formed a distinct language-culture-civilization which does not exist anywhere else in the world.
Tamils have Freedom of Movement but Sinhalese do not
· Tamils were always moving throughout the country even at the height of LTTE terror but the Sinhalese could not
Tamils have political freedom proved by
· Registration of Tamil political parties
· Tamil political parties contesting elections
· Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka’s Parliament/Tamil MPs/Tamils in Cabinet/Tamil Deputy Ministers/Tamil Provincial Councilors/Tamils in local government bodies
· Tamils voting throughout the country
· Thus there are no Sinhalese Governments proved by minorities holding Government portfolios.
· Both the 2 main political parties in Sri Lanka are multi-ethnic parties whereas Tamils and Muslims have mono-ethnic political parties. The 2 multi-ethnic parties have even nominated minorities for electorates where Sinhalese Buddhists are majorities.
· Sinhalese have grievances is proved by the appointment of a Sinhala Commission to look into the grievances of the Sinhalese.
· No Government has supported the Sinhalese, promoted or protected Buddhism, the Sinhalese language or the Sinhalese culture since post-independence. This is proved by the fact that Sinhalese are economically below minorities, traditional Buddhist sites are not protected or given exclusivity and minorities would not be allowed to bargain with Sinhala Buddhist ethos – in France, the majority are called French so why is Sri Lanka not referred to as Sinhaladesa
Have we forgotten the Sinhalese who lost their lands/lost their lives?
· Did the Accelerated Mahaweli Development project not result in over 200,000 Sinhalese losing the ancestral lands in the prosperous valleys of Teldeniya and Kotmale Oya and were settled in System C and B of Mahawelia?
· Did the British after the Uva Rebellion in mid 1800s selectively kill Sinhalese in the central highlands and converted them to plantations and settled Tamils brought from India as slave labors?
· While Tamils live in Sinhalese areas no Sinhalese or Muslims were allowed to live in LTTE controlled areas.
· Over 400 Buddhist monks had been killed by LTTE terrorists.
· Over 300 Sinhalese babies were killed in their villagers by LTTE terrorists
Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims go to the same restaurants, travel in the same buses, use the same public utilities and live and work amongst each other. However both Tamils and Muslims demand separate schools, separate mediums in schools and universities, no sooner an area becomes populated with more Tamils or Muslims the area is turned into an exclusive area where only their Kovils/Mosques, eating places etc must prevail. How just is this if they claim to be integrating with communities and desiring peaceful co-existence?
The lies being promoted are many : from a mythical homeland, to being treated as second class citizens, Sinhala extremism and intolerance, discrimination. oppression under “Sinhalese” governments, “Sinhalese” army occupying “Tamil Homeland” are all stories being used to facilitate the goal of creating a separate state.
But it is ridiculous to claim a separate state when 2/3 of the Tamils live outside of their supposed “Tamil Homeland”. BUT, we do empathize that with 72million world Tamils it is unfair that they do not have a State of their own while the 14.8million Sinhalese have a state but cannot call it a Sinhalese state because it is not politically correct! Nevertheless, it is upto India given that India became India after the British put territories and boundaries together to form it and therefore Tamil Nadu has every right to demand to separate and Sri Lankan Tamils should go there where they would be happier than feeling like “second class” citizens. If they are unhappy in Sri Lanka (but happier to be amongst the Sinhalese rather than live in the North) it is best that they go to a place where they are happier.
Sinhalese Buddhists need to be proud of their culture, heritage and civilization
· Ancient sites under excavation at Pattherajawala dates back 120,000 years
· The Pahiyangala rock findings date back 35,000 years where the people dug 35feet in stone where food was stored (depicting agriculture existed) even housing prevailed 30,000 years ago http://www.sinhalaheritage.org/Pahi yangala_caves.html
· Evidence of agriculture dating 17,000 back as well as production of barley and wheat dating 12,000 BC found in Maha Eliya (Horton Plains) – the same was found in Sumer Iraq around 6000BC only.
· Concept of Medicine initiated over 10,000 years ago – Rawana had written 7 medical books which continue to be published in India. He found 444 diseases and said that eating beef made a person vulnerable to 93 diseases.
· First hospitals (Mihintale, Medegiriya)
· Use of mircolith technology used 35,000 years ago is in par with South Africa while the Indian subcontinent was 15,000 and Europe 12,000
· American and Swiss archaeologists confirm that acupuncture was founded in Ceylon 34,000 years ago
· Necklaces and earrings dating 30,000 years back have been found in the Central province
· First and only ancient people to use wind power technology (to produce non-rusting steel) by 1500BC and exported. The technology was investigated by Jill Juleff and sites can be seen in Samanalawewa. Development of a new technique called wootz steel as far back as 300BC. The ancient steel swords made in Lanka found in the Bangalore National Museum even after 3500 years have not rusted!
· Use of pump as early as 300BC – to water the Jasmine flowers on the Maha Stupa but the West has attributed that invention to the Greeks in 100BC, shows how Eastern inventions are purposely being shunned.
· First use of hydro technology – invention of valve pit (Bisokotuwa), spray jets and spa centers in Ranmasu Uyana before the Romans
· In 1st AD the Roman tax collector Annius Piocamus was stranded at sea and was rescued by Sinhalese ships and thereafter the Sinhalese king sent a mission to Rome (Vol VI Pliny the Elder) reveals that the Romans had never seen ships as big as the Sinhala ships (also confirmed by Chinese records)
· The Great Jetawana Dagaba built by King Mahasen in 4th century was described by the Romans as the 3rd wonder of the world (400ft high – 3rd largest monument of the ancient world and biggest brick monument of the ancient world)
· Dr. Hawkeys of Arizona State University claims dental traits of Indus Valley People match the Austro-Asiatic tribes of North East India (Naga) and the Sinhala of Lanka. The DNA from both have been found on Egyptians and ancient Nubians (Ethiopia) Her findings are supported by Cornell University that the first anatomically modern humans in South Asia are from Sri Lanka (this opposes the Out of Africa theory) which can be contested with the discovery of the 35,000 year old Balangoda Man whose traits are found in both the Veddahs and the Sinhela communities (Dr. Shiran Deraniyagala) This clearly puts to rest that Sinhela’s trace their origins to arrival of King Vijaya and Sri Lanka’s Government needs to promptly change all school text books that are giving a distorted historical version to future generations of children.
These are just a handful of achievements by the Sinhalese which Sri Lankan Tamils cannot even match to prove a separate civilization existed to even justify a claim. In every aspect of life the ancient Sinhalese civilization has left remnants for us to put together how they lived. Moreover, there are no other civilization similar to the Sinhalese elsewhere in the world. Anyone visiting the recently concluded SHILPI exhibited at the BMICH would have found further evidence of why the Sinhalese refuses to give up their civilization, their culture and their heritage though a handful are willing to betray their ancestors for multicultural remunerations.
The importance of the Sinhalese civilization can best be described in the words of the Tamil philosopher Ananda Kumaraswamy who, while testifying at the Manning Commission under the British invaders in 1906, said “Take anything from this country. But please don’t corrupt or destroy that beautiful Sinhalese culture that survives in villages. Because someday when you, with your greedy and selfish policies, destroy this world both materially and spiritually, the answer to rebuild that ruined world can only be found in that beautiful Sinhalese philosophy.”
For trying to protect for future generations the Sinhala civilization, the Sinhalese are branded as racists, chauvinists, warmongers and what not by those who have a history of nothing to be proud of. What the world should ideally do is to help the Sinhalese preserve its ancient civilization not attempt to destroy it.