Sri Lanka: Revolutionary turned democrats playing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Sun Apr 22 11:10:22 UTC 2007

Revolutionary turned democrats playing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?

Created 2007-04-22 01:50
By Quintus Perera  Asian Tribune

Colombo, 22 April, ( A Tamil from Baticoloa pointed out
that late JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera addressing a meeting accepted that
the minorities were being suppressed by the majority race in Sri Lanka,
therefore the minorities should be given the opportunity for
self-determination. He further added that a book written by JVP member
Bopage, has supported that view. But Wimal Weerawansa, JVP Propaganda
Secretary and MP rejected it and said the policy has been changed since
then and a new comprehensive policy is being drafted now.

Weerawansa was speaking as the guest speaker on the theme Maintaining the
Balance of Peace Building and Economic Growth; The JVP Standpoint at the
5th Business For Peace Forum organized by the Business for Peace
Initiative of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri
Lanka at the JAIC Hilton Hotel Colombo. Wimal Weerawansa, the vociferous
red-shirted blaster, apparently tamed by the circumstances and the
political trend was in a smart white shirt with thin strips came to the
five star hotel to deliver his speech.

Weerawansa who elaborated earlier in his speech that democracy should be
established in the North and east, when a senior journalist from The
Leader newspaper fired some questions including whether the JVP was
involved in the 83 disturbances, but Weerawansa rebuffed the Journalist
saying that he was not prepared to speak to that jungle paper Keke
Paththare and when few laughed at the answer, Weerasansa appeared to have
not only ridiculed the voice of the people the media - but also ridiculed
democracy as the media has a definite role to play under a proper
democratic set up.

A Tamil from Trincomalee said that military or war solution only
annihilates the ordinary Tamil People and in a situation that the majority
Sinhala community appears to have opted for a military solution to bring
about peace and the LTTE calling to carve out a portion of the country for
the Tamils; whether there should be a dialogue, an alternative to stop
prolonging the war. He also pointed out that in the South, there is a
legally elected government and under that the people in the South are
safeguarded and whether it was the primary responsibility of the
government to see to extension of that administration in all the trouble
stricken areas.

In reply Weerawansa said that the war is a part of the process to
re-establish law and order in those areas. He said that nobody opposes to
the establishment of democracy in those areas. He said that war is one
solution but there are also other peaceful solutions. Weerawansa in some
occasions rather than answering particular questions tried to generalize
the issues to drive home his contentions. He said that those who speak of
trying to establish peace in these trouble stricken areas are not genuine
and instead if they have campaigned to establish the language policy, it
would benefit more and work towards peace.

Samantha Abeywickrama, Secretary General, FCCISL welcoming guests said
that he was grateful to all those present including the representatives
from embassies, NGOs, and civil society organizations. He said that their
organizations were not affiliated to any political party or any other
differentiation. He said that the business community has been eagerly
awaiting for peace, so that the business community could make major
strides of contributions to the economy and to the country as a whole.

He said that such meetings are held once a month so that they could
exchange ideas as to how peace could be realized in the shortest possible
time and they are trying to make this forum to be the platform to
inculcate lasting peace and the strategies to build in the peace and to
improve the economy. Weerawansa continuing said that peace cannot be
obtained within a short period of time. There should be continuous
discussions as to how a lasting peace could be obtained for the country.

Though the war has some impact on the economic development of the country,
it is minimal when compared to the processes adopted by the developed
countries to make serious inroads to hamper Sri Lankas economy, he said.
He said that these negative economic processes have been introduced to our
economic system by these powerful states since a long time and they are
thus deep-rooted and cannot be pulled out completely overnight. He said
that these countries creep into the conflict stricken countries on the
pretext of solving the conflicts, but in fact on the one hand the
retardation of the economy was the cause of their involvement in the
system that also contributed to a conflict situation and on the other,
they come to reap some economic benefits, on the pretext of help solve the

As an example he said that in 1970s when Sri Lanka sought assistance in
small ways those countries supplied enormous amounts over and above what
the country has requested, but failing to understand the grave
repercussions that would arise later. Sri Lanka also grabbed the extras
and expended them. He said It was like giving Rs 1,000 to a person who
request only Rs 100. Weerawansa said that due to the obtaining of such
enormous loans, the country is paying a huge chunk of its income as
interest and thus without funds for essential economic development in the
country. Therefore the country is compelled to go begging further loans
from those first world countries and then those countries understanding
Sri Lankas desperation for investment and foreign funds, these powers
started to dictate terms and various conditions to be adhered to be
eligible for any further funding.

He said that there are other countries facing similar conflicting issues,
such as war, but the economic stability has not affected that seriously in
those countries and similarly the impact of war on the economy is not that
serious, compared to the deep rooted external interferences. He said in
most conflict ridden countries these major powers have barged in as
conflict menders, but the main reason could be that there is oil in those
countries. The issue of oil deposits too affects Sri Lanka as there is
proof about oil deposits along the Mannar Sea. Weerawansa said that unless
this concept of deep-rooted economic ills introduced by the powerful
states is removed, there cannot be any economic development in the

Making reference to the internal conflict and war, Weerawansa said that
the division of the country and the terrorism must have to be stopped and
there should be a process to feel the requirements of the affected Tamil
people and without knowing their requirements, it is pointless to plan
solutions. He said that while suppressing terrorism, democracy and law and
order have to be restored in those conflict stricken areas. He said that
this is a must to restore lasting peace in this country and vehemently
advocated that there would have no compromise to this issue. Weerawansa
said that there are a number of people living on harping on the conflict.
He said that the sovereignty of the country and the escalation of
terrorism cannot be bartered for peace, but peace must have to be achieved
while being a one country and after eradicating terrorism.

The programme was moderated by Nimal Perera, Chairman, Joint Business
Forum (JBIZ) and Raja Hewabowala, Chairman/managing director, Nipolac
Group of Companies.


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