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Home > Tamil National Forum > Selected Writings - Victor Rajakulendran >An open letter to Mr. K.H.J. Wijayadasa former Secretary to Sri Lanka Prime Minister and Secretary to the President (1984-1994)

Selected Writings - Dr. Victor Rajakulendran

An open letter to Mr. K.H.J. Wijayadasa
former Secretary to the Prime Minister
and Secretary to the President (1984-1994) on

Stop distorting history

2 September 2000

Dear Mr. Wijayadasa

MonkI read your article titled "Tamil Eelam: A myth founded on a fictitious homeland concept" which appeared in the Internet version of "The Island" (29/08/2000). It appears that you have sought  to convince your audience, at the Symposium on the Causes and Consequences of Terrorism, with your own re-written history of Sri Lanka. It is interesting to note that you have chosen the 23rd of July, considered by the Tamil community as the Black July Day, to make your divisive utterances.

The only truth in your article that I could find,was that the Sinhalese constitute 74% of Sri Lanka's population.You say in your article that

"there is overwhelming historical, archaeological, epigraphical, cartographic, anthropological and literary evidence to prove that the entirety of Sri Lanka, including the Jaffna peninsula, was inhabited by the Sinhalese for well over 1800 years, from the 6th century B.C to the end of the 12th century AD".

Mr. Wijayadasa, are you aware of the following:

Sathasivam Krishnakumar, (Kittu) a founding member of the LTTE speaking in Zurich, on Maha Veerar Naal, in November 1990:

''I was once asked by an Englishman connected with the British Refugee Council: 'You say Tamil Eelam, but where are the boundaries of this Tamil Eelam that you talk about? Show me.' I was taken aback by the directness of the question. I thought for a while, searching for an appropriate response. Then I replied: 'Take a map of the island. Take a paint brush and paint all the areas where Sri Lanka has bombed and launched artillery attacks during these past several years. When you have finished, the painted area that you see - that is Tamil Eelam.'''

1. The island of Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) was ceded to the British Crown in 1802 by a treaty known as the Treaty of Amiens. The map of Ceylon attached to this treaty depicts the Island of Ceylon as two different countries - a Tamil country composed of the Northeast and a Sinhala country composed of the South West and central parts.

2. The Englishmen, Sir Hugh Cleghorn, wrote in June 1799 to the then UK government, within 3 years of British set foot in Ceylon�."Two different nations from a very ancient period have divided between them the possession of the Island. First the Sinhalese, inhabiting the interior of the country in its Southern and Western parts, and secondly the Malabars (Malabar meaning Tamil) who possess the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religion, language and manners."

3. A Chief Justice in the British Government, Sir Alexander Johnston wrote on 01.07.1827 to the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland as follows�."�I think it may safely be concluded both from them and all the different histories which I have in my possession, that the race of people who inhabited the whole of the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the Island of Ceylon, at the period of their greatest agricultural prosperity spoke the same language, used the same written character, and had the same origin, religion, castes, laws and manners, as the race of people who at the same period inhabited the southern peninsula of India�."

Mr. Wijayadasa, if you are not aware of these documents, please pay a visit to the British Council Library in Colombo and ask for these documents and educate yourself. Can you quote any non-Sri Lankan, who has documented any evidence to substantiate your claim that the entirety of Sri Lanka including the Jaffna peninsula was inhabited by the Sinhalese for well over 1800 years from the 6th Century B.C to the end of the 12th Century AD?

You have quoted Professor Karthigesu Indrapala, who was a Professor of History at the Jaffna University at one time, to have stated that the colonisation of the Jaffna peninsula by Tamil settlers from South India commenced in the latter half of the 13th Century resulting in the emergence of a sub-kingdom called Jaffnapatnam under a Tamil sub-ruler who at all times ruled under the overall control and direction of the Sinhalese kings.

Mr. Wijayadasa, Professor Indrapala now lives in Australia and his house is situated only 3 km away from my house. I have spoken to him about your mischief before I started to write this open letter. He only laughed at your mischief and was keen on having a copy of your article.

The historical truth is that the entire island of Ceylon was under the sway of Tamil kings at times and the Sinhalese kings at other times. The entire island of Ceylon came under Chola rule (Indian Tamil king Raja Raja Cholan) in 1017 and the Tamil king of the Jaffna Kingdom has served under Chola dynasty. But, a Jaffna king has never served a Sinhala king.

The only period the Yalpana Kingdom was under Sinhala dominion was for 15 years from 1450-1467. In 1450, Sempaha Perumal, on behalf of Sinhala King Parakrama Bahu IV, captured Jaffna. Sempaha Perumal, called Sapumal Kumaraya by the Sinhalese, too was a Tamil (the son of Pannikkan), was raised by Parakrama Bahu IV. The ousted Jaffna king Kanagasuria withdrew to Thamil Nadu but returned with an army in 1467 and retook Jaffna.

When referring to the traditional homeland of the Tamils, you seek to establish that this is a concept which originated at the Federal Party convention held in Trincomalee in 1951. You  try to show that it was further elaborated in the TULF, 1977 Election Manifesto. What you have quoted from the TULF Election Manifesto, in your article, reads as follows:

"The entire island of Ceylon was ruled by the Tamil King Ellalan or Elara (2nd Century B.C). Thereafter, the island was ruled by Tamil Kings at times; and by Sinhalese Kings at the other times; for over a thousand years. As a result of these alternating fortunes a Tamil sovereign kingdom called Tamil Eelam emerged as a clear and stable political fact at the beginning of the 13th century. The territory from Chilaw through Puttalam to Mannar and thence to the North and from there covering the East stretching to Kumana in the South through Trincomalee and Batticaloa was firmly established as the exclusive homeland of the Tamils. This is the territory of Tamil Eelam. The Portuguese, the Dutch and the British captured it in turn and each power ruled it as a separate country till 1833. The British amalgamated it with Sinhala land for administrative convenience. In 1948, the British granted independence to the Sinhala land and the Sinhalese but not the Tamil Eelam and the Tamils"

Mr. Wijeyadasa, I am giving below the portion of the TULF Manifesto, from where you have extracted and distorted the portion you have quoted in your article. This is what I found in the official copy of the TULF 1977 Election Manifesto.

"The fact that the Tamil nation has been living in this country from pre-historic times enjoying its sovereign rights under a state of its own is recorded in no less an authority than the great work of Sinhalese history - Mahawamsa.

Even before the Christian era, the entire Island of Ceylon was ruled by Tamil Kings, Senan, Kuddikan and Elara (Ellalan) and thereafter for over thousand years, as a result of struggle for supremacy between the Tamil Kings and the Sinhalese Kings the capital of the Sinhalese Kings was gradually shifted southwards away from Tamil Centres. These are facts of recorded history.

It is also a fact that the entire island was under the sway of Tamil Kings at times and the Sinhalese Kings at other times. From this background of alternating fortunes, emerged, at the beginning of the 13th century a clear stable political fact.

At this time, the territory stretching in the western sea-board from Chilaw through Puttalam to Mannar and thence to the Northern regions and in the East, Trincomalee and also the Batticaloa Regions that extended southwards up to Kumana or to the northern banks of the river Kumbukkana Oya were firmly established as the exclusive homeland of the Tamils. This is the territory of Tamil Eelam.

For several centuries before the advent of Europeans to Ceylon in the 16th century, the Tamils have been living in this territory under their own Kingdom. Tamils reigned supreme in this country with their own national colours and their own military forces�

�The Portuguese who subdued the State of Tamil Eelam continued to govern it as a separate state. So did the Dutch who captured it, in turn from the Portuguese. The Cleghorn Minute clearly establishes that even under the Dutch, the judicial district of Jaffnapatnam that covered the northern and eastern parts of the Island extended, in the west coast of the Island, from Puttalam to Mannar and in the east, southwards up to the limits of Kumana or the river Kumbukkan Oya that separated Batticaloa from the southern Sinhalese district of Matara.

This Tamil State was captured from the Dutch by the British who too continued to retain its separate status till 1833 when, for convenience of administration, it was brought under one all island authority, the Government of Ceylon� "

A comparison of your distorted version with  the original TULF Election Manifesto, makes it very clear to any one that all that the TULF had done was to, give all the historical evidence to prove that the traditional homeland of the Tamils existed even before the Christian era, and most certainly, before the advent of the Europeans...

You also state:

"The first Tamil settlements in the Eastern province date back to about 150 years when excess tobacco labour from Jaffna and the Tamil estate labour engaged by the British, army to quell the 1848 Kandyan rebellion were settled in the coastal areas of Trincomalee and Batticaloa districts. Thereafter, the state aided Tamilisation and colonisation of the Eastern province took place vigorously as a part of the British policy of divide and rule."

I have given enough evidence to show that the Tamils occupied the Eastern Province from ancient time and what the British found when they invaded Sri Lanka. You have accused the British of  colonising and Tamilising the Eastern Province. Can you show any evidence for this? If so why was it that you could not give any in your article?

Mr. Wijayadasa, you know very well the British brought the Indian Tamils to work their plantations, but they settled them only in the estates in the Central Province. These people were disenfranchised by the first Sinhala government and the Eastern Province was systematically colonised by Sinhalese through state sponsored colonisation scheme.

Robert Kilroy-Silk, M.P. and Roger Sims, M.P United Kingdom Parliamentary Human Rights Group Report, February 1985 -

"Witnesses also confirmed allegations made to us that whole villages have been emptied and neighbourhoods have been driven by the army from their homes and occupations and turned into refugees dependent on the government for dry rations... The human rights transgressed in such a course of action do not need to be detailed here...

More important is that rightly or wrongly it tends to lend credibility to the view so frequently put to us that it is the Government's objective either to drive the Tamils out of the north and east in sufficient numbers so as to reduce their majority in the north and in the east, a process that would be aided by the Government's announced policy of settling armed Sinhalese people in former Tamil areas... or to drive the Tamils out altogether.

We cannot make a judgement on this issue. We can say, without doubt, that the Government is driving Tamils from their homes and does intend to settle Sinhalese people in these areas. This, at least, lends support to the more extreme version believed by most Tamils."

The census statistics of Sri Lanka will bear witness to this. I would like to quote a paragraph here, from Dr. Jehan Perera's (Media Director, National Peace Council) article entitled, "Balanced compromise on the north-east unit" published in "The Island" Sunday issue in late 1990s.

"The fact is that in the census of 1920 only 4 percent of the population of the Eastern Province was Sinhalese. The Sinhalese settlements in the east were small and scattered, even though there is historical evidence that most of the east came under the umbrella of the Kandyan Kingdom. But while the ultimate rulers were in the Sinhalese Kingdom of Kandy, the people of the east were mostly Tamils and Muslims. It is only in the past fifty years that there has been a substantial influx of Sinhalese settlements through state intervention."

Mr. Wijayadasa, you also have stated that:

" In the 1981 census, Eastern province had a population of nearly 1 million of which 25% were Sinhalese, 40% Sri Lanka Tamils and 32% moors and the rest 3% others�A comparison of the 3 ethnic groups as reflected in the 1921 census and 1981 census does not indicate any displacement of Tamils or Muslims, even though it is claimed that the Sinhalese have colonised Tamil lands."

Virginia Leary: Ethnic Conflict and Violence in Sri Lanka - Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists, July/August 1981 -

"...Tamils have objected to State colonisation schemes which import large numbers of Sinhalese into traditional Tamil areas. The Tamil concern about colonisation is related to insecurity about their physical safety and to fears that Tamils will become a minority in their traditional homelands. The government maintains that since Sri Lanka is a single country citizens may freely move into any part of the country and that it is necessary to transplant some populations to more productive areas. The Tamils answer that they are not opposed to individual migration but only to large scale government colonisation schemes which change the ethnic composition of an area...

The government should give renewed attention to Tamil concern over government sponsored colonisation schemes which bring large numbers of Sinhalese into Tamil areas and thus change the ethnic composition in such areas. This is particularly important in view of the insecurity of Tamils due to communal violence against them in areas where they live as a minority..."

Mr. Wijayadasa, do you realise now, that you yourself have proved to your audience on the 23rd of July, 2000, that there was a movement of Sinhalese into this area between 1921 and 1981? If as you say, there was no displacement of Tamils or Muslims, how could the proportion of Sinhalese increased from 4% to 25%. Even a child will tell you that the only way that would have happened would have been by an influx of Sinhalese into the area.

Again, colonisation may not necessarily involve the displacement of an existing people. There is nothing wrong if landless Sinhalese peasants are provided land in the Tamil homeland and encouraged to coexist with the Tamils. However, what is wrong is to deliberately alter the demography of the region and then claim that the East was not part of the Tamil homeland.

The Gospel according to Anagarika Dharmapala -

"In the year 237 B.C. the Tamil invader Elala, usurped the Sinhalese throne. But for several years anterior to that event there had been a suspension of religious activities in the northern part of the island. The Tamils, fiercely antagonistic to Buddhism, committed acts of vandalism in the sacred city of Anuradhapura, and, for a time, there was none to deter them. At this crisis there arose a wonderful Prince, whose father was then reigning in Southern Ceylon. He was in his previous birth a young Bhikku (Buddhist monk, who, when dying, was solicited by the queen to be re-born in her womb...." more

Mr. Wijayadasa, you have presented your paper in a Symposium on the "Causes and consequences of terrorism". You have neither discussed  the causes for any terrorism nor the consequences of such terrorism.

All that you have done is to valiantly try to disprove the Tamils' claim for their homeland in the North-East of the island of Sri Lanka.

During this process you have misquoted others and distorted history. One can only imagine, to what extent a person such as you would have contributed to the polarisation of the ethnic communities in the island of Sri Lanka, over the 10 long years when you  functioned as the Secretary to the Sri Lanka Prime Minister and   Secretary to the Sri Lanka President. 

Mr. Wijayadasa, if you really want to help your country and its people, please desist from attempting to cultivate Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism. Instead, please try and work towards bringing the two major Sinhalese political parties and the Buddhist Clergy together in reaching a consensus on how two independent peoples may associate with one another in peace and in freedom.

God bless you

Sincerely Yours

Dr. Victor Rajakulendran


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