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Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Curse Of Kuweni

From the Editorial, The Sunday Leader, 15 January 2006

The Curse Of Kuweni
The legend of Kuweni, her betrayal by Vijaya and her subsequent curse on him and his progeny make for a cheerless genesis of the Sinhala race. Twenty-five centuries hence, it seems the jinx lingers on: the people of this tiny island are more divided than ever before in their history, immersed to eyeballs in hate and paranoia.

The Sinhalese are yet to come to terms with the fact that Tamil militancy was born only after the minority realised, after decades of trying, that there were no political options left open to it. Indeed, the rebellion reflects the frustration all minorities face in Sri Lanka in the face of dictatorship by the Sinhala Buddhist majority. Political means having exhausted themselves, the resort to arms has been inevitable.

We need to come to terms with the fact that rebellion is the result of political failure. When all other methods exhaust themselves, it is inevitable. However, rather than address the causes of rebellion, the remedies we have sought are merely palliative, at best serving to suppress the symptoms.
Then again, frustration over landlessness and employment have been simmering in the hill-country ever since Independence: yet, nothing has been done to address the frustrations of Tamils of Indian origin. There was Sinhala hysteria recently when Arumugam Thondaman made an overt overture to the LTTE: yet, no one seemed to reflect for a moment on why hill-country Tamils may want to link their lot to that of the Tigers. Apart from criticising them, there is little we have done to promote land ownership, employment, industry, education and social welfare in the hills. The Sinhala attitude is that the coolies-come-lately should take their rightful place: at the end of the queue.
It is a decade now since the central government wrested control of Jaffna from the LTTE. Yet, both SLFP- and UNP-led governments failed to generate meaningful development in the peninsula, especially given the three-year truce. If a Sinhala government cannot deliver in these limited environments, how can it make a believable claim to be able to bring prosperity to the whole of the north and east? Like the Israelites under Moses, the Tamils ask only to be set free of domination by the Sinhalese incompetence: that is the cause of Tamil militancy.
Sad it is that it has been left to the LTTE, a terrorist organisation, to give expression to Tamil frustrations.

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