Feature Article

Whether history is different to Tamils and Sinhalese, asks Jaffna academic

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 30 November 2011, 06:38 GMT]
A single event that took place in the University of Jaffna on the Heroes Day, Sunday, has captivated the minds of Tamils all over the world, more than the diaspora functions marked by ever increasing participation of people but in some instances showing hijack aimed at dividing, capturing and ‘softening’ the struggle by the very forces against whom the spirit of the Day was meant for. Amidst all the oppression against the Day, by genocidal Sri Lanka backed by imperialism especially the Indian one, unidentified people lit the Heroes Day flame atop a tall building in the Jaffna University to shine like a star of hope. The Sinhala brethren should understand the event in the same vein of they take pride in Sri Sumangala hoisting the lion flag in Dalada Maligawa even after the British conquest of Kandy, an academic in Jaffna said.

Heroes Day torch
Heroes Day torch lit atop the terrace of the Balasingham hostel in the University of Jaffna on Sunday, 06:05 p.m.

Further comments from the academic in Jaffna:

Wariyapola Sri Sumangala
Wariyapola Sri Sumangala Thera [Image courtesy: sinhale.wordpress.com]
Wariyapola Sri Sumangala Thera, the Anunayaka (deputy chief) of the Asgiriya Chapter of Buddhist monks, removed the Union Jack hoisted by a British soldier at the Paththirippuwa (the octagonal pavilion) of the Dalada Maligawa in 1815 and re-raised the lion flag of the Kandyan state, even though there was a military conquest and the king was captured.

The Kandyan Convention between the British and the chieftains of Kandy was being discussed at the time, and Sri Sumangala insisted to the military conquerors that unless the convention was signed deciding on the transfer of sovereignty, Union Jack could not replace the Lion Flag.

Three years later, when a rebellion took place in Kandy against the British rule, Sri Sumangala removed the Tooth Relic of Buddha (regarded by the Sinhalese as the symbol, the possession of which gives the right to any one to rule over them) from Dalada Maligawa, went into hiding, and later handed it over to the chieftain, Keppetipola Disawe, who was leading the rebellion.

The British captured the relic and Sri Sumangala in 1818, and after convicted for ‘treason’, Sumangala was imprisoned in Jaffna.

British imperialism eventually bowing down from the island and hoisting the lion flag at Paththirippuwa becoming an annual ritual ever since the independence of Sinhalese are matters of history.

The Kandyan Convention never satisfied the Sinhalese.

Rather than remembering the Kandyan Convention, an elite decision to collaborate with the conquerors, today’s Sinhalese take pride only in the resistance shown by Sri Sumangala.

If the Sinhalese could apply their sentiments in an enlightened way in understanding the Eezham Tamils – their sibling nation for centuries in the island – they could see why the Eezham Tamils have to regain their sovereignty by struggling against agent-imperialists in Colombo backed by imperialists.

Bringing in foxes, apes and donkeys to replace the tigers and showing those as leaders willing to collaborate, is the age-old tactic of imperialism re-enacted in the case of Eezham Tamils. But as history shows, that will not last long.

If the Sinhala masses and their elite think that they have a ‘common history’ for Sinhalese and Eezham Tamils in the island, then rather than being carried away by the agent-imperialists, they should help restoring the sovereignty of Eezham Tamils for peaceful co-existence and for partnership in facing the threats of imperialism in the island.

If they don’t see it, then they only concede that ‘history is different’ to Eezham Tamils and Sinhalese, and thus everything else too are different.

* * *

The following is a feedback received from a Sinhala reader:

A short while ago I read the TN article titled "Whether history is different to Tamils and Sinhalese". Just a small suggestion to make the argument more clearer.

I think there is even a much powerful and classic case which exemplifies the vicious dividing line between the ethnic meanings of "heroism", call it "the right to martyrdom" if you like.

While the sinhalese do enjoy an absolute right to pay tribute to their martyrs, the Tamils aren't.

The dividing line is not whether they rose up in arms against the state or not, but to which ethnicity they belonged.

On the November 27, the people in Tamil Eelam were prevented from commemorating the heroic generations who fought and died for national emancipation.

Heroes Day observed by JVP dissidents
Heroes Day observed by JVP dissidents
Heroes Day observed by JVP
Heroes Day observed by JVP
But just two weeks before, on the 13th of November in the heart of Colombo, the JVP commemorated in a grand scale (both the 'official party' and the dissident faction) the Sinhalese youth who fought against the state and died in the late '80s.

That's not all, the absurdity goes even further: during the war against the Tamils, the JVP (both factions together) backed the State armed forces to the fullest extent and justified their brutality.

It was they who pioneered and initiated the "Manel Mal Movement" which organized the strongest countrywide propaganda campaign to glorify the state armed forces.

But once the mission was accomplished by slaughtering hundreds and thousands of Tamils, the same JVP returns to commemorate their dead comrades who were slaughtered by the same armed forces, and the state does not obstruct it.

They have their "the right to martyrdom" because the Tamils don't!

Related Articles:
28.11.11   University student missing in Jaffna
27.11.11   Heroes Day Torch was lit in University of Jaffna


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