29 July 2023
LESSON FROM BLACK JULY
Truth is the protective armour against future conflicts. Forty years after Black July in Sri Lanka, we continue to use ‘what happened’, to blame the apparent custodians of power for our pain. We are yet to identify with the national Truth. As citizens, when we know why we and our loved ones suffered, we are naturally protected by the truth, against future pain. Blaming others confirms dependence on others. The person who has transcended body consciousness is immune to body-pain. One who continues to recognise body pain more than mind pain, contributes to rebirth of that pain. One who finds the truth of why it happened to her/him, as if s/he caused it, finds the truth. That is the way of ownership.
Caste or Race based discrimination have positive as well as negative effects. They are positive when they improve our intelligence and v.v. Positive discrimination is promoted largely through merit basis at the individual level. The risk of unjust discrimination becomes high when certain groups are ‘seen’ to be enjoying more benefits than other groups.
On 25 July 2023, BBC published a report on caste in Jaffna Tamil schools. https://www.bbc.com/tamil/articles/ckdn2vqjejno
I already knew about caste based discrimination in Vaddukoddai area, where most of our post-war development work happens. Except for the time, some youth played cinema songs that disturbed our temple activities, I have not encountered any major problems due to Reverse Discrimination. I believe that desire and fear are Equal & Opposite natural forces that satisfy Newton’s third law. This is nature, when both happen within the same person/group. The problem begins when one person/group has the desire and another, the fear.
The Black July pogrom in Sri Lanka is blamed solely on the UNP government. But as per the events, the LTTE also made its contribution to it:
‘On 23 July 1983 at around 11:30 pm, the rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE; also known as the Tamil Tigers) ambushed the Four Four Bravo military patrol in Thirunelveli, near Jaffna in northern Sri Lanka. A roadside bomb was detonated beneath a jeep that was leading the convoy, injuring at least two soldiers on board. Soldiers travelling in the truck behind the jeep then dismounted to help their fellow soldiers. Subsequently, they were ambushed by a group of Tamil Tiger fighters who fired at them with automatic weapons and hurled grenades. In the ensuing clash, one officer and twelve soldiers were killed, with two more fatally wounded, for a total of fifteen dead. A number of the rebels were also killed. Col. Kittu, a regional commander of the LTTE, would later admit to planning and carrying out the ambush. This attack has been described as retaliation for the killing of one of the LTTE's founding member, Charles Anthony, by Sri Lankan forces and for the allegation of abducting three Tamil school girls in Jaffna, raping them in their military camp.’
The problem within the Tamil community at that time was that the political leadership was overridden by armed rebels led by the LTTE. This had the effect of reducing the value of our investment in higher education despite the Standardisation policy of 1971, which moved us away from merit based allocations to University entrance through which high percentage of Jaffna Tamils entered Universities. In other words, we Tamils adjusted to the Standardisation policy of 1971. By effect, it seems to have catered to JVP – the Sinhalese armed group which uprose in 1971, seeking a socialist state. The LTTE chose similar pathway, in which they were the leaders.
The above mentioned actions and reactions in 1983,were between the two armed groups. One was remotely controlled from Colombo the other appointed themselves as leaders. If school girls were raped, the responsibility to make the decision rested with their parents. Such a decision would then have been positive discrimination. When it became an army matter, it was bound to unleash criminal energies in all sides. The LTTE took over the authority of the parents. That was confirmation of dictatorship. This demotes the power to Asura/animal power.
When the bodies of the 13 soldiers came to Colombo, these uncleared animal energies also came with them. As per Wikipedia:
The Army—including its commander, Tissa Weeratunga—decided that the soldiers' funerals should not be held in Jaffna because of the high likelihood of disturbances at multiple locations. The decision was made to hold the funerals, with full military honours, at Kanatte
Cemetery, Colombo's main burial ground, instead. Prime Minister Ranasinghe Premadasa, fearing violence, was against holding the funeral in Colombo, but was overruled by President J. R. Jayewardene The president, the prime minister, and the rest of the cabinet were to attend the funeral, which was to take place at 5 pm on 24 July. This arrangement went against the standard procedure of handing over fallen soldiers to their families for burial in their home villages
Mr Premadasa who also had junior caste origin, but rose through due political pathway to highest political leadership positions. When we say junior-senior, it confirms relationship within the same energy circle. When we say high and low, it confirms high circle and low circle and therefore separation of energies. Journalists contributed to this separatism, confirmed as follows at https://sangam.org/premadasas-saber-rattling-with-rajiv/
If in 1983, President Jayawardene had used the positive caste based discrimination, he would have asked PM Premadasa who was by painful experience, an elder in caste issues. Then the bodies would have been sent to the homes of the soldiers, in different villages, which was standard procedure. Sri Lanka is a religion-driven country and this home burial would have satisfied the junior groups to whom State-funeral was ‘foreign’. In a Buddhist nation, secular State funeral was/is the parallel of LTTE taking over the authority from the parents of the ‘raped girls’.
Thus both sides usurped their respective position powers. Their energies thus merged to result in the carnage. Discipline of junior in autocracy, becomes equal and opposite force in democracy. That is the truth I identify with as a member minority group in Sri Lanka as well as in Australia, because I used discipline as power to oppose non-violently.