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Don’t poke the Lion – setting the context

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The UNHRC intervention is justified on universal values, which don’t seem to make sense from a identity driven local perspective.

UNHRC recently suggested that Sri Lanka cooperate itself into an international-domestic hybrid Human Rights Violation inquiry committee, Ada Derana News Sri Lanka reported at 18.30 news bulletin.

Clearly this shows how the West has its interests in providing a sustainable resolution to the so called allegations against the Sri Lankan military on its military expedition that defeated the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) on May 19th 2009.

Considering this suggestion by the UNHRC, one must inquire into the history of the 30 year deadly war that obstructed the progress of the Sri Lankan ethnic friendship.
From the ancient times, Tamils had been residents in the North of Sri Lanka while the Sinhalese have been in the rest of the island. Several times there were clashes between Tamils and Sinhalese but the standout story was that these clashes were not with Northern Sri Lankan Tamils but with the Tamil invaders from South Indian Kingdoms such as Chola and Soli.

There are few crackheads who seem to suggest that Sinhalese have always dreaded the Northern Tamil community which seems ridiculous when considering the facts. These two kingdoms have remained happy with each other for a long time with minimum conflicts. Of course you can have conflicts over minor border skirmishes and other negligible factors but the Sino-Indian rivalry remain in the same state; cold inside and not that cold outside. The real clash between the two ethnic groups began when the then colonial hegemons started meddling with the Island politics.

In the first place, Sinhalese were poor estate workers, they had no intention to work in the European plantation because of a fact that they prided themselves in being traditional agrarians and the low pay with long hours of hard work which lasted throughout the entire year was not the forte of Sri Lankan traditional farmers who spend only few hard months labor on their cultivations and spend the rest with their family and the village temple. It took the British (the major cultivation freaks in Sri Lanka) few decades to understand that this was never going to work out.Thereby they chugged along a shipload of Tamil Nadu peasants into Sri Lankan plantations as estate workers.

But this wasn’t a befriending these two nationalities in any way. Sinhalese did not like to see a huge population of aliens in their traditional territory and they hated the fact that they were helpless.

Meanwhile the growing estate working Tamil factions started getting attention from Northern Sri Lankan Tamil erudite class who were jobless because they had no part in politics. The jobless Northern Tamil erudite needed to use their education and knowledge to do something. You can’t contain a storm in a teacup. Thereby some decided to help the liberation struggle against the colonialist while some chose to speak for the estate workers’ rights.

British knew that the Sinhalese erudite posed a smaller threat than the Tamil erudite did because for a fact, Tamil erudite had foreign connections. Any imperialist has its fears that the subjects shall rise up in a united struggle, thereby they must be clever enough to distract them from the root cause and create a large amount of minor issues that would occupy the minds of the subjects. That’s exactly where “Divide and Rule” comes into play.

The Crew-McCallum Reforms of 1910 used the ethnic representation at its peak even delegating seats in the legislative council such as one for Kandyan Sinhalese, two for Low Country Sinhalese, two for Tamils and one for Muslims. Fair enough they said, but it was in no way fair. Tamil erudite were given places in higher diplomatic positions; don’t blame them, they might have been cleverer than the Sinhalese but hey, come on, Sinhalese are the majority. There were seats called Educated Ceylonese but unfortunately Tamil erudite were given these seats which was the reason many Sinhalese cringed their faces at Tamil commoners.

You can consolidate a land, but you can never consolidate the pride of a nation. Sinhalese prided their history and held their heads high every time they overlooked the giant water reservoirs and colossal Stupas.

You can whip the Lion but you ain’t gonna take the Lion out of him.
British knew exactly what they were doing, they knew that one day not far away, they’d be leaving the island nation in the hands of the inhabitants but they had no intention to seeing it stand up against them united. They had to tame the Lion before letting it out of the cage. And the Lion needed to have issues with its cubs.

They did just that. Appointment of a Muslim Muhandhiram to govern over the 99% Sinhalese in Uva-Wellassa showed that they enjoyed dividing the peaceful civilians. Finally the 1915 Sinhala-Muslim clash showed the volcanic outcome of a sequence of such actions.
“House divided against itself cannot stand” – Abraham Lincoln

So this divided house started having problems when the overwhelming British took their hands out of the mess and said “hey, this is not our problem”. It’s not new for the West to do this. Hundreds of British troops in India watched inside their barracks when the huge genocide of Indian and Pakistani (then Indian Muslims) took place. They had orders “not to involve in foreign ethnic wars”

Awesome. Who started it? Who ushered into Jinnah’s ear that there can be a Pakistan? Maybe Nehru mumbled in his sleep.

Thus, the clash between Sinhalese and Tamils began. When S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike came in as Prime Minister, he saw a bunch of English-speaking Tamils handling affairs of the South. Come on, how can a person who couldn’t greet “good morning” in Sinhala matter out Sinhalese problems?

So Bandaranaike brought his poorly advised and rapidly implemented language policy which threw out a huge number of Tamil government workers which was reported to the Tamil Diaspora in Britain.

Henceforth began the silent episodes. Insurgencies arose from the North and died down. But even the baby in the cradle knew that the storm was coming, and it was coming hard.

Click here for Part 2

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