12 July 2018
My History or Yours?
My Airlanka experience includes a sharing with our Advertising Executive who said that he had responded as follows to an Indian in Maldives where both were on holiday:
Indian (Sikh) – Are you from Motherland?
Airlanka Executive: ‘Yours or Mine?’
I was reminded of the above when reading Sasanka Perera’s article ‘Politics of Selective Memory’ – published by the Island. Professor Perera quotes as follows in regards to Mrs Vijayakala Maheswaran’s outburst in Jaffna:
[Reading Ms Vijayakala Maheswaran’s statement at a public meeting in Jaffna on 2nd July 2018 reminded me of two popular aphorisms on history and the past. They deal with humanity’s propensity to not learn from the past. In the first of these, Margaret MacMillan observes, "we can learn from history, but we can also deceive ourselves when we selectively take evidence from the past to justify what we have already made up our minds to do." The second, often attributed to George Santayana notes, "those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it."]
The question here is whose history are we talking about? Jaffna Tamil history or Colombo Tamil history or Common Sri Lankan history? Events alone do not make history. Why something happened has to be part of the record to qualify as history. One writing the history has to have had the experience – directly and/or through inherited values. Jaffna’s history cannot be written by someone to whom Jaffna is NOT home. Mrs Maheswaran who did not grow up as a child in Jaffna lacks the authority to project on behalf of Jaffna’s Common citizen in the issue of ‘child safety’ unless she first pays her respects to someone like me who developed and maintained that heritage.
It was that heritage that directed me to the current divisions surfacing in the Seniors responsible for writing the Common History of Sri Lanka. This happened through an email from within the Tamil Diaspora under the heading:
[Statement condemning attacks against NHRC chairperson, Dr. Deepika Udagama]
As per my experience, Dr. Deepika Udagama had enough Common Energy to bring Mr Shiva Pasupati – a former Attorney General of Sri Lanka and of Tamil origin and his successor Mr Sunil de Silva of Sinhalese origin together to sit next to each other at the Sri Lanka Reconciliation Forum, Sydney where Dr. Deepika Udagama shared her views with us. Their investment in common professionalism was strong enough to override other differences.
As per the above mentioned email “The attack by Sarath Weerasekera was published by the Maubima newspaper on 29th June 2018, and is linked to the NHRC's position on the vetting process for the deployment of military personnel for UN peacekeeping missions.”
I could not find that article but I did find the one headed ‘PM agrees to TNA conditions to please Tamil Diaspora: Sarath Weerasekera’ As per this report:
[Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe has given his consent to ten conditions proposed by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), to apparently please the Tamil Diaspora, former MP and retired Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera alleged yesterday.
He told the Daily Mirror that one of the main conditions was to draft a new constitution which would make Sri Lanka a federal State.
“The tactics of the PM would divide the country and Mr. Wickremesinghe is betraying the country by giving priority to condition put forward by the TNA. It became evident how strong the relationship between the TNA and Premier Wickremesinghe when the TNA voted against the no-faith Motion against him,” Mr. Weerasekera claimed.
“It is a shame to say that TNA being the official opposition party in Parliament, is voting in favour of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremsinghe against whom several allegations have been levelled pertaining to the controversial Central Bank bond scam,” he added.]
Mr Weerassekera’s statements at the UN in June last year also confirmed to me that he considers Sinhalese history as Sri Lankan history and that according to him UN was an outsider. One who accuses another is an outsider. One who shares from the opposite side is an insider. TNA being that insider is the Common history of Sri Lanka. In terms of Commonness therefore the groups that identify with Mr Weerasekera’s history or LTTE’s history rank behind the groups that identify with the Government structures which include the TNA.
The Hon Ranil Wickremesinghe has the greater right to write the history of Sri Lanka on behalf of the People, than Mr. Weerasekera who is reported to have been in the Navy for most of his career. Had he retired as a Navy person – he would have qualified to write the history of Navy during his lifetime. But he gave up that right by becoming a politician in 2010. As a politician he profited from his war time experience – including through the film Gamani which was about his opposition in combat. The more we point the finger and the other side – the less our common ownership.
Mrs Vijayakala Maheswaran is the Tamil parallel of Mr Sarath Weerasekera. The former does not qualify to write the history of Jaffna and the latter does not qualify to write the history of Common Sri Lanka – in Sri Lanka or in the UN where he is a foreigner by pointing the finger at the UN. One who is true Sri Lankan would take responsibility for the whole war. By blaming the UN – Mr Weerasekera confirmed lack of authority to be present in that forum as a Sri Lankan. Like the LTTE supporters he was there to support armed Sinhalese who did not represent the Common People they claimed to be representing.
Recently a member of the Tamil Diaspora wrote to me ‘I am no custodian of LTTE, who were ready to sacrifice their rights for people like you and me sitting commenting on others.’
If he was not the custodian of LTTE power – then he is not an heir of the LTTE heritage. There are no rights without heritage. Heritage is the source of Rights.
Ownership by the contribution of a group with different heritage needs to be observed as diversity and not included above or below our own. This is the reason why we have Equal Opportunity Laws in Democracy. One who ‘takes’ / ‘shows’ more ownership than s/he is entitled to confirms disorder of the mind which is an infectious disease – as confirmed by these two personalities who are ‘foreigners’ to Common Sri Lankans.
Truth is a naturally merging force and hence there two groups are more likely to merge than Common Sri Lankan citizens with common Sri Lankan politicians – as LTTE leadership merged with SLFP leadership to suppress Tamil voting rights. Truth prevailed to establish the true history – that the foreigners abusing common resources killed each other.