Posted by: lrrp | June 1, 2008

Peace: Facts, myths and history repeating

Sri Lanka has a recorded history going back to many thousands of years. The inhabitants of the island were known as “hela” who were subsequently titled as Sinhalese. A land mark in our history is the arrival of Arahat Mahinda in the reign of Devanampiyatissa (250-210 BC). It was a visit that changed the destiny of the entire island with the king becoming a Buddhist followed by his ministers and the entire population of the island. This country remained a Sinhala Buddhist state until the arrival of Portuguese on I5/11/1505. The Portuguese landed accidentally in Ceylon as a result of the rough sea due to a gale. The king was Dharmaparakramabahu IX in Kotte while in the Senkadagala kingdom a sub king Thunayama Hiskannehe (1497-1505) a grand son of Dedigama Parakrama Bahu ruled from Keulgama Pallepitiya then known as Dumbara. There was absolute peace and tranquility in the kingdom. The Moors and Tamils from Coramendal coast were in the sea coast, engaged in trading in spices, collecting and exporting them to European destinations and the Far East. In course of time the Portuguese too ventured into spice trade and gained a foot hold in the island. Their aim was trade and propagation of Catholicism. This they did with the Bible and sword in hand. They brought to the notice of the king in Kotte that the duties due to the Royal Treasury were not paid by the other traders and they even promised to pay duties and also help the king with their powerful Naval power. When the Portuguese landed in the island there were two other sub kingdoms. Jaffna and Senkadagala. By 1543 Dharmapala the king of Kotte was baptized as Don Juan. The king gave permission to build a church in Kotte. This was the first instance where a church was built with royal patronage after Buddhism became the religion of the state during the rule of Devanampiyatissa. Thus we had a few Sinhalese who were non Buddhists in the coastal regions to begin with. The Portuguese under their commanders Don Jeronimo de Azavedo and Diogo de Mello plundered the wealth of Muslims and for the first time in our history launched An ethnic cleansing. In 1614 they burnt the mosque in Jaffna. In 1620 Azavedo launched his ethnic cleansing campaign and drew away the Muslims from the sea coast areas and De Mello cleansed the Sabaragamuwa, Ratnapura, Kalutara and Nivitigala areas. In 1621 Jaffna was captured by the Portuguese and they burnt the Nallur Kovil. Our king Senerath of Kandy settled all these displaced Muslims in the Eastern Province. By their natural increase they dominated the Eastern areas of the country. The Sinhala community influenced by the teachings of Buddha were a tolerant, kind and compassionate lot who enjoyed co-existence with other ethnic groups. They never obstructed the practice of other religions. In fact when the Christian missionaries were preaching their religion the Buddhists never obstructed them. It is recorded history that the Dutch who came here by their law enacted in 1958 September made it an offence punishable with death for any one to give protection to the Catholic Priests. They burnt the churches and introduced reforms and encouraged the natives to become Protestants. High posts to those who changed their religion was offered. The first divide and rule policy was adopted by the Dutch, Governors Fun Hoons, father and son at the end of 1664. They held office upto 675. Their policy was to divide the population as upcountry and low country Sinhalese.

JAFFNA PENINSULA

The most authentic historical evidence is written in the golden sheets found in the reign of King Vasaba (1l1-67 B.C.) from a Buddhist temple in Vallipura village Tamilised today as Vallipuram. This village is in Kaputota which is known as Point Pedro. All the islands in the Jaffna peninsula ending with the name “thiu” such as Punguduthivu, Analathivu, Nainathivu etc. were settled by the Sinhalese and Minister known as Isagiri alias Piyangutissa was the ruler on behalf of the king. He was like the present day Chief Ministers of a Province Jaffna then known as Dambakolapatuna was a seaport. Even Sangamitta Therani landed here. King Devanampiyatissa from Anuradhapura went to Jaffna to receive the delegation. The long history and the people and their religion in the Jaffna peninsula cannot be written in detail in an article like this. Coming down to the Kotte period, Buvaneka Bahu V1 (1470-78) and his sub king Sapumal ruled from Nallur. Jaffna belong to Pihitirata in the then Three Sinhale. Jaffna was under the Kandyan kings and infact King Senerath with the two sons of Wimaladharmasuriya, Prince Wijepala of Matale and Prince Kumarasinghe of Uva waged a war against the sub king of Jaffna over a matrimonial dispute of the two princess. In the Kandyan Convention of 1815 Jaffna peninsula was included in the Kandyan territory. Those districts were Jaffna Patnam, Chettikulam Patthu, Mannar and the adjoining islands upto Kalpitiya, adjoining districts of Colombo, Galle, Matara Disawa, Puliyanduwa (Baticoloa), Trincomalee and suburbs. The capitals were Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa. The main seaports were Dambakolapatuna (present Sambilthurai), Matota (Manner) Uratota (Kyts) and Gokanna (Trincomalee). Our kings preserved and developed all the places of religious worship in the North and East and endowed this heritage to the present generation. Present day politicians have the audacity even to question over TV channels the use of history is (‘Can you eat history?’ etc). They do not wag eloquence to dispel the untruth. This shows the depth to which our Sinhala politicians have fallen to enjoy the plums of office and remain in power. The politicians of other communities on the other hand build up a history of their own on myth and fiction. These are facts that are forgotten by present day rulers for their convenience. On the other hand it was a calculated blow on the Sinhalese to throw the history of the nation to the dustbin. This long drawn plan was initially introduced by withdrawing history of the land from the school curriculum by successive governments for nearly three decades. As a result the present generation is engrossed in myth and fallacy. It is easy to perpetuate diabolic myth and fiction than to enlighten on facts and truth.

The east

Digamadulla was a Sinhalese settlement under king Saddatissa in 119 BC. Eastern Province was a part of the Kandyan kingdom. When king Senerath ruled in Senkadagala the sub king in the Eastern region officiating from Batticoloe was Mediwaka Kumara Bandara. Gokanna now known as Trincomalee was the main seaport. The Dutch landed through Kottiyaram bay in Batticoloe in 1602. Batticoloe and Trincomalee were our main seaports. The delegation sent to Siam by Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe of Kandy to make arrangements to reintroduce upasampada or higher ordination sailed through Trincomalee. Eastern Province had a large population of Sinhalese and so many sacred places of worship where in most pagodas the relics of the Buddha were enshrined. Evidence to show that Trincomalee was a flourishing trade centre could be traced to gold Roman coins supposed to belong to the second century found from the area. Ninety seven silver coins with the royal seal were found from Bakmeemade village in Kattakulam Pattu and 30 silver coins found from Dambagaha Ulpotha village in Hurulupalatha. Can all these established historical facts be denied and a separate independent entity be carved out to satisfy ethnic groups? In the 1817-1818 Uva Wellassa rebellion most of the Sinhalese fled to the Eastern Province where they adopted Tamil names to escape the wrath of the British. Bintenna Pattuwa, Korale Pattuwa, Wewagam Pattuwa, Panama Pattuwa are some of those areas which had a large Sinhalese population.

Separatist politics

The divisive Tamil political elements paved the way for separatism in the most surreptitious way before they came to the open. They objected to the settlement of Sinhalese in the new lands opened up for human settlement in the East. Apart from new settlements they even objected to the resettlement of displaced Sinhalese families who were affected by the 1983 riots in the Batticoloa area. Temporary homes of 5000 Sinhalese families were burnt and the people chased with the blessings of the Sinhala government. No human rights organisations or NGOs raised a hum in support of these innocent farmers. No international forum expressed their dissent to such inhuman problem solving. When the two major Sinhala parties rule they always depended on these racial elements to remain in power. They support a Sinhala majority party to the extent that their demands are met and enjoy the plums of political office and let down the government at the last moment by joining the other Sinhala majority party, staking their claims to form a government. Is this not the way their claim for separatism was nurtured? Some ministers openly violate the oath of allegiance to the Sri Lankan Constitution.

A Minister got into the platform in Tamil Nadu and addressed a LTTE meeting. A member in the Tamil Nadu State Assembly who addressed the same meeting is today in Tamil Nadu jail convicted under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. We have seen in TV channels how the Ministers sit under the LTTE flag. The Sinhalese politicians will join any separatist party to remain in power but not

come together to protect the territorial intergrity and the unitary nature of our constitution. Unitary state apart our leaders have no control over these politicians when they threaten the law enforcing authorities with their might under parliamentary privileges and run berserk. However the problem today is gangrenous and internationalized. The donor community has pledged their assistance to rebuild and reconstruct the war ravaged areas where there is a defacto rule by a terrorist group. It should be assured that their efforts in rebuilding be fruitful. The colossal amounts of dollars ploughed into the area should benefit all those who live in the area and all those who love peace. But is there a ground situation where people can live in peace devoid of death threats, murder, extortions, kidnap, violence etc. We in the south daily hear of murders eliminating political rivals and rule by the gun. The TNA which is acting as the spokesman of the LTTE who publicly announce that Prabakanran is their leade has a major role to play in this entire exercise. All the Tamil parties have the onerous responsibility of bringing the militants to the negotiating table and receiving the full quota of pledged donations and other assistance to rebuild the war ravaged North East. It is only through such foreign assistance that we can relay the rail track from Vauniya to KKS and Talaimannar pier to open these areas for passenger traffic. Balasingham should make use of this opportunity in getting an unprecedented support and co-operation from the International community rather than interpret this cordial atmosphere for talks as a move by the Prime Minister to lay an International security net over the LTTE. Whatever international feed back is sent to the donor forum it is no secret that the military intelligence sleuths are eliminated stealthily. The EPDP politicians are murdered openly.

It is time that the other Sinhala political parties should support the Prime Minister’s “Regain Sri Lanka” programme Past history has taught the Sinhala community that whenever we were weak and divided the LTTE has gained. They were able to eliminate most of our Sinhalese leaders at crucial times of political diversity. Even today we have not laid down a precondition to disarm the tigers. Neither the International donor forums have announced such preconditions. If the situation is normal and the Tigers do not go to was again as announced many a times, it is incumbent on them to voluntarily surrender arms atleast to a third party. It is regretted to note that even the other Tamil parties who are spokesman of the LTTE have so far not spoken of disarming a terrorist group. They on the other hand preach that the legitimately established security arms of a government mandated by over sixty percent of the population should be confined to barracks. Atleast the donor forum should lay a condition to disarm before the actual process of rebuilding commence. Whatever Apex body is proposed when it comes to the delivery at the grass root level the funds have to be accounted for and disbursed according to prevailing rules and regulations. When repayment of soft loans commence it is the ordinary citizen and tax payer who has to reimburse and the government is accountable.

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