To counter your argument that history is something best left to historians and shouldn’t be mixed with politics I produce the following CARD. To say that this is a CARD is played by only Tamil Nationalists is misleading. This is a very popular CARD played by almost everyone wanting to position themselves as intelligent moderates. In the 30 year card party that went on while the non elite were killing each other this CARD was played over and over. Even now its popularity shows no sign of dropping.
The CARD was first introduced by Chelvanayagam and Co. It gave the LTTE its fabled ideological core which enabled many to say even though the apple is definitely rotten, there is a core worth preserving. This CARD was baptized in 1985 in Thimpu as the only framework within which any dialog aimed at the resolution of the ethnic conflict should be attempted.
Any deviation would henceforth be considered blasphemy and sacrilege.
Here is the CARD
Tamils in Sri Lanka constitute a separate nation
The north and the eastern provinces are the historical homelands /habitat of this nation
And they have the right of self determination which includes but is not limited to the right to agitate for cessation through non violent means.
The people the region and the spiritual dimension created by people identifying the land as theirs formed a trinity which will henceforth be referred to in this comment as THE UNIT. Because of the spiritual dimension involved the UNIT will be the natural, spiritual, cultural home of any Tamil living in any part of Sri Lanka or abroad even if not born there or with no ties.
THE UNIT is NOT an integral inalienable part of the entity called Sri Lanka.
It only became part of Sri Lanka by default when the British left
THE UNIT has a choice whether to remain part of Sri Lanka or not
It has such a choice because THE UNIT is special.
This specialness is not conferred on THE UNIT due to mere numerical majority for it’s not argued that Wattale or Colombo or Negombo or Hatton or Nuwara Eliya or Thalawakele, etc should enjoy self determination or a choice in whether to remain with SL or separate.
THE UNIT has a specialness which makes it unlike Wattale or Colombo or Negombo or Hatton or Thalawakele or any other area in Sri Lanka which only has a numerical majority
What confers that specialness on THE UNIT? It’s history. So you see Watson how history is the heart of the argument.
Meanwhile in another part of the forest …
People who like to call themselves people of Sri Lanka had another unit in mind. This unit henceforth to be referred as UNITm (m for Mother) was also made up of three dimensions; the land the people and the spiritual dimension created when people live on the land identifying it as theirs.
In order to deconstruct the holy cow called THE UNIT and to prove that THE UNIT is the myth while UNITm was the absolute shining reality people like Nalin De Silva was driven to analyze the history of Sri Lanka.
Anonymous asked “And would THEY be entitled to rights only if they were able to establish a historical presence?”
So ironic Watson. Change the question slightly to mean a different THEY and the answer is indeed yes.
In the Dudley Chelvanayagam pact there is a condition about the distribution of state land in the North and the Eastern provinces that preference should be given first to people living within the district (fine) second to people living within the province (also fine) and third to people of the Tamil ethnicity living outside the province (not fine and one of the many reasons people were not content to leave history to historians and felt driven to analyze it).
In fact An International Crisis Group report makes the following recommendation to the SL Government.
“Ensure economic development in the East is equitable and inclusive and perceived as such by all communities by ….Wait for it dahlings……"by making a public commitment not to allow development to alter significantly the existing ethnic balance of the province”.
Now it’s next to impossible not to allow development to alter significantly the existing ethnic balance of anywhere. See what happened to Colombo, to London, France. So the question arises what’s so sacred about the ethnic balance/demography of the North and the East? Why is it so inviolate? Why is everybody going on about it? The answer is the historical habitats, THE UNIT again amen.
So various people who were no historians were driven to analyze history because a life and death need was felt by them to establish a Historical Presence in order to become entitled to various rights that THE UNIT concept was denying them.
Why history shouldn’t be left only to historians in SL is because history helps us to place demography in its proper place. It shows us no demography is sacred that is right and natural and desirable and inevitable that demography should change. That it can enrich a land.
Finally a proper analysis into the history of Sri Lanka is vital because it will help us reaffirm the right of the people of this country to keep their UNITm whole and intact.
Only it should be done in such a way that no people are swept under the carpet.