Post Colonial Ethnic Seperatism in Sri Lanka


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This presentation will address the key components of the research study submitted by the author of Independence to Freedom.

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Post Colonial Ethnic Seperatism in Sri Lanka

  1. 1. Independence to Freedom A Historical Country Study on Sri Lanka, its Pre and Post Colonial Socioeconomic, Ethnic and Leadership Constitutions By : Samanga Prasanajith Amarasinghe
  2. 2. Introduction May 18th 2009, marked the ending to a long lasted battled between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Government which erupted in 1983 due to the lack of proper leadership by the post colonial leaders of Sri Lanka. However, as Dr. Y. Ranjith Amarasinghe a pioneer in the Sri Lankan political arena stated, “The lack of war doesn’t necessarily mean the existence of peace”. Therefore with the ending of the Sri Lanka’s civil war the nation must seek for answers in fixing the problems which caused the eruption of 1983. This study based on the Sri Lanka’s historical backdrop was conducted in finding the answers for sustaining the post was developments of Sri Lanka furthermore in proving that the answers to Sri Lanka’s post war development lies in its own past. 2
  3. 3. Introduction (Cont) This presentation will address the key components of the research study submitted by the author, hence it consist of the following segments. ◦ The Nature of the Project ◦ The Scope of the Project ◦ The Limitations of the Project ◦ The level of Assumptions in the project ◦ The research Mythology utilized in the Project ◦ The Findings ◦ Conclusion 3
  4. 4. The Research Mythology The study of post war development of Sri Lanka via its influential leader’s form the 6th century BC to present with a focus on their impact on the history and socioeconomic of the nation consist of multidisciplinary research thus the methodology utilized in the research was Qualitative research method.  According to Thomas-Murray (2003): The qualitative method involves an interpretive naturalistic approach to its subject matter where the researcher study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of them or interpret phenomena in terms of the meaning the people bring to them. (p. 1) 4
  5. 5. The Nature of the Project  This qualitative research observes the history of Sri Lanka from 6th century BC to post war era of 2009 AD highlighting the socioeconomic changes that influenced the nation throughout the centuries due to its geography, ethnicities, history, and colonization via eight decisive stages of the nation’s history.  After which, the study has the causes for postcolonial insecurities along with the violent era. Following which present indicative methods of post war redevelopment through the history of Sri Lanka in comparison to the nations is past. 5
  6. 6. The Limitations of the Project This study was limited due to the time periods being summarized from 6th century BC to present covers a vast array of events which cannot be captured as a whole in every aspect. This study was limited due to the scholarly works obtained for the purpose as there are so many books and study materials deriving through the centuries of Sri Lankan history only a limited amount of materials were chosen to suit the needs of the research. This study was also limited due to the time frame granted in presenting all the materials from 6th century BC to 2009 AD. 6
  7. 7. The levels of Assumptions  There a three assumptions made on this thesis, first being the literature selected for the research assessed by the writer to be of validity in the research proceeding, such as the information used based on the Mahawansa the great chronology of Sri Lanka.  The second assumption is the researcher’s conviction that the possibility of the finding the answers to the Sri Lankan future is hidden in its past socioeconomic infrastructure.  Third assumption made by the researcher is that the results of the findings through this study will be of great impact on all ethnicities of Sri Lanka alike, in which despite being a good finding there will be some or many who will not agree with the results. 7
  8. 8. The Scope of the Project  In standing with the thesis statement of the project, an array of literatures as Sannas, Rock carving, Engraves, Survey reports, Colonial gazettes, Memoirs, additionally.  Eyewitness accounts,  Personal journals  Scholarly journals  Research from pre colonial to post war eras of Sri Lanka has been also used.  Through these literatures, the eight crucial stages of Sri Lanka’s history that decided the outcome of the nation’s current standing as a war, toned nation despite the past days of great socio-economic stability was observed. 8
  9. 9. The Problem at Hand  Sri Lanka we engulfed in a 26 year conflict with a sect of freedom fighters known as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.  Their Goal was to obtain a independentSri Lankan Army, SF Unit Passingout Ceremony Eelam or a Tamil nation within Northern Sri Lanka under their control.  Reason for this need, is founded by insensitivity, towards the needs of the Sri Lankan minorities on behalf of the post LTTE , Anti Armor Unit Parade colonial Leaders. 9
  10. 10. The Problem at Hand Cont.  Additionally the foundation to the insensitivity towards the Sri Lankan minorities during the post colonial era was a result of the Separatist Mentality, that was instilled among the natives by the colonists.  According to S.J Tambiah (1986):“The Boss”, the two British over see the  The administrative needs of the British Raj for a certainbuilding of a railroad, while the natives number of local English educated white collar workers andbecome slaves in their own country. Author professionals, along with the activities of the Christianobtained this from his private collection missionaries, who established a great number of schools dispensing English and vernacular education, determined the absolute numbers of Sri Lankans who were educated in government and mission schools, and, even more importantly, determined which segment of the local population would be the primary beneficiaries. (p. 65) 10
  11. 11. The Findings 11
  12. 12. Pre 6 th Century BC  There were Two Clans in Sri Lanka ◦ Naga : The Snake Worshipers ◦ Yaksha : Demon Worshipers, famous known Yaksha is Ravana from the epic Ramayana.  Around 6th Century BC a Tribe of North IndianTemple drawing of Ravana, settlers arrive in Sri Lankathe King of Yakshas in Srilanka ( Ramayana)  Their leader named Vijaya, who marries a Yaksha woman, claim the throne to the Yaksha clan and establish their own, tribe named the Sinhalese. 12
  13. 13. Yaksha Tribe ◦ Yakshas were a popular tribe in North India who migrated to Sri Lanka at one time or the another.  According to Upinder Singh (2009): It is difficult to estimate the antiquity of the Yakshas and Yakshis. However, during 300 BCE- 200 BCE, they were still an important part of the religious landscape. These cults are often described as minor,YAKSHA STELE. CENTRAL INDIASource : Author obtain the Image from rural folk cults, but the evidence indicates website The many imposing stone images of Yakshas and Yakshis from Matura and elsewhere were evidently products of urban workshops produced for urban clients. (p. 430) 13
  14. 14. Naga Tribe  Like the Yaksha, the Nagas were also a North Indian tribe that migrated to Sri Lanka. But they were more sophisticated and civilized than the Yaksha Tribe.  In his text the Return of the Serpents of Wisdom,Naga Idols from India, still beingworshiped : Author obtain the Mark Amaru Pinkhan reveals that Naga people’sImage from Anubimb,com website origins can be traced to the kingdom of Kashi on the Ganges and Nagpur or the city of the Nagas (Pinkham, 1996, p. 110). 14
  15. 15. Sinhala Tribe  The Sinhala Tribe which settled in Sri Lanka around 6th century BC, established by their leader named Vijaya who is said to have been the prince of Lala country in India.  His father being known as Sinhabahu, ( Hand of the Lion) and his grand father to be known as a Lion or a nobleman of the Lion tribe, he calledAncient Lion Flag of Sri Lanka:Author obtained the image from the new and the then dominant tribe Sinhalese ( website People of the Lion). 15
  16. 16. Finding 1:We are all One  Sinhalese being named as the ruling ethnic group, by the British colonist, made one the boss over the others. However, Sinhalese clan has the same background as the Tamils, proven through the study. ◦ Naga ( Linked with the Tamils) were from India ◦ Sinhalese, founder Vijaya is from India, Lala region.  Hence, both the Majority and the Large minority was from India.Aborigines of Sri Lanka:Obtained from the authors Privatecollection  Yakshas were the oldest settlers in the island proven through the Ramayana, and Mahawansa, and works of Pliny, Ptolemy. ◦ Yaksha being the oldest tribe in Sri Lanka are Linked with the modern day native jungle people or aborigines, known as the Veddas of Sri Lanka were also from India. 16
  17. 17. Three ancient Tribes, Three ways of life what happened? Pre 6th century BC and Post North Indian era, there were three tribes, but through the studies conducted for the research despite wars fought for territory, kingship and no ethnic violence was found. Instead the focal point of the Sri Lankan ancients was ethnic assimilation.  According to R.B Herath (2002):  The mass migration of North Indians to the island had a big impact on its aboriginal culture. The North Indian new comers were relatively more sophisticated people, with iron tools, advanced agriculture, trading, and communication techniques. They started to use iron ploughs in preparing the land for paddy cultivation. The indigenous community of Balangoda culture had to adapt to the new ways or relocate inland to the forests. The migrants did, however, integrated with some of the indigenous people of the island. The indigenous people who refused to assimilate the new comers retreated to forests and continued to live as before. (pp. 12-13) 17
  18. 18. Ancient unity in three religions  Ancient Ethnic unity exampled through Architecture.  The ancient Guard stone a common architectural component found in all Buddhist edifies wide spread throughout ancient kingdoms.  Observing these statues, one can see Buddhist, Yaksha, Naga beliefs combined. The image is a image of a Naga King, symbolized by the seven headed snake behind the statue. He is holding a stock of grain and a filled jug, which symbolizes prosperity. However, to his left foot is small status of what we call a Bhairava, a semi evil sprit that guards treasures, which comes from Yaksha beliefs.  The Purpose of these guard stones is to provide protection to the Buddhist stupa, and temple complexes which holds treasures.A Guard Stone at Anuradhapura ◦ According to Willian Crooke (1896), “the Jainas worship Bhairavabuilt in 8 Century BC, Authors Private collection as the protector or agent of the Jaina church and community” (p.108). 18
  19. 19. Finding 2 : Ancient Monarchy and the de-centralizedgovernment system held the Ethnic unity.  Ancient Sri Lankan monarchs unlike their European counterparts were more field based leaders.  They were true leaders that led by instilling inspiration, than by power. Kandyan Nobles, Author obtained the image from  According to G.C Mendis (1951): website  They believed that by fasting and paying penance a king could cause the rain to fall on a country affected by drought and thus save it from harm. But since similar deeds could be performed even by others who had attained great spiritual powers, it did not mean that kings were associated with any divine powers, merely because they were kings. (p. 29) 19
  20. 20. Ancient Governing System  Ancient governing system of Sri Lanka despite being a monarchical rule, was a true democracy.  The foundation system of government that controlled all aspects of the ancient socioeconomic system was the village council or Gansabaha the people in the frontline decided the decisions for a individual village, or collectively for a region.Kandyan Chief, in the late 1800author obtained this image from According to Lennox Mills (1964): authors Private collection  As in many primitive agricultural communities, the village had possessed an organ of self-government in the Gansabhawa, a council composed of representatives of the raiyats, which regulated the affairs of the village and enforced its ancient customary law. A very important part of this law was the binding customs, which regulated every detail of agriculture, and in particular assigned to each cultivator his share in the use and preservation of irrigation works. (p. 131) 20
  21. 21. The results of the pre-colonial system of Governing  Established harmony, and peace among the people.  According to Arnold Write (1999):  Tamil soldiers were employed as mercenaries by the native kings; alliances in marriage were repeatedly, almost regularly, made with the royal families of the continent. A succession of Tamil conquerors invaded the island and usurped its thrones. All these things, as well as the ordinary intercourse of commerce between neighboring countries, familiarized the Sinhalese with the Hinduism of the time. (p. 345)  With the sustained peace among the people, the nation was able to maintain a well developed economic stability as well.  According to James Duncan (1990):  During the early period, the system of irrigation agriculture was highly developed both technically and in terms of social organization. In many respects, it was comparable to the more widely known hydraulic civilizations Village Scene in the late 1903 such as found in the ancient Middle East and china. The Sinhalese engineerauthor obtained this image from constructed a multitude of cisterns, and were the first to invent the valve pit and authors Private collection other sophisticated irrigation techniques. (p. 28) 21
  22. 22. The results of the pre-colonial system of Governing Cont.  The village councils being the central decision maker, as well as the main trade being paddy cultivation, the people were compelled to place their differences aside and unit as a collective.  In addition it this strengthened the family unit which hold the foundation to any socioeconomic system, making Sri Lanka into a strong nation.  According to G.C Mendis (1951):  The people, therefore, organized themselves in small bodies for their own protection and for the carrying on of their activities, which needed co-operation. The families which were closely connected usually banded together in order to protect their members, and looked after those who through sickness or old age were unable to provide for themselves. (p. 28) 22
  23. 23. Colonial Occupation 23
  24. 24. Portuguese  The Portuguese rule in Sri Lanka was a militaristic regime overwhelmed by constant battles with the natives and the native rulers.  Portuguese methods of force conversations towards Christianity inflicted sizable damage to the Sri Lankan socioeconomic structure, which was founded in a Buddhist, and Hindu based structure. A Roman catholic church in  According to Colin Metcalfe Enriquez (1884): Colombo, author obtained thisimage from chest of books website The exasperated Portuguese now continued the struggle under the Villainous Jerome Azavedu, whose barbarities included the slaughter of women and babies with every appropriate refinement. It was this devil who made a pub about Galle while massacring its children “How the young Gallos (cocks) Crow.” (p. 116) 24
  25. 25. Portuguese Changes  Mass conversion of the natives, the Portuguese build mission schools, where a strong Christian based education was provided to the natives in all three languages as Portuguese, Sinhalese, or Tamil.  A new social class was developed in the Portuguese occupied low countries of Sri Lanka. What is more, is that until the collapse of the colonial system, many of the new elite families, that held prominence in the Sri Lankan society, bore roots to this era. The portuguese building a fort, usinglocal labor author obtained this image from website  Ancient system of duties to the King or the Rajakariya, used by the ancient kings in obtaining support for the development of irrigation systems, religious edifices and cities was utilized by the Portuguese for construction and military purposes (Nubin, 2002, p. 108) 25
  26. 26. Dutch ◦ Dutch came to Sri Lanka in their attempt to obtain total control of the south Asian spice trade from the Portuguese (Dijk,2006,P.58). ◦ The King of Sri Lanka signed a treaty with the Dutch representatives to hand all Portuguese possessions in return for their support in ridding the nation of the portuguese (De Silva, 1988, P.42). ◦ But this friendship between the two nation was dissolved due to the Dutch exploiting the conditions of the agreement (Augustus, 1841,P.2).  According to Augustus De Butts (1841): The European colonists were only able to retain possession of the coast, and of a belt of land encircling the island, varying from twenty to thirty The Dutch drawing of king Rajasinha, with a Dutch official. miles in breadth. This, after many severe contests with the natives, wasauthor obtained this image from his private collection secured to the Dutch by treaties, which were, however, violated whenever the interests of either of the contending parties prompted them so to do. (P.2) 26
  27. 27. Dutch Changes  The Dutch as the Portuguese exercised a military based totalitarian rule over their subjects residing in the low lands of the Island, however unlike the Portuguese they were much placid concerning religious conversions (Ferguson,1883). ◦ According to John Ferguson (1883), “pursued a far more enlightened administrative policy; though, as regards commerce, it was selfish and oppressive” (Ferguson, 1883, p. 5)  The Dutch differing from the Portuguese encouraged and balanced the paddy cultivation, which enabled the old social structure to be maintained in some form or the other. The Dutch drawing of king  The Dutch Roman Law, Protestantism, and their attempts on assimilating withWimaladharmasuriya, with a Dutchofficial. author obtained this image the locals can be observed as the most impacting influences, which werefrom Riola Sri lanka travel website carried throughout the postcolonial history of Sri Lanka (Schrikker, 2007, P 51).  Also the Dutch education system, which focused on converting the local peoples to become Dutch loyalists, as well as the creation of the new ethnic group called the Dutch Burghers, a mix of Dutch and native people. 27
  28. 28. British  The British first established themselves in Sri Lanka with a treaty that gained them the rights for the trade and authority over the Dutch controlled areas in Sri Lanka in return for their support in ridding the Dutch out of the nation (Reddy,2003).  The British unlike their previous colonists unitized well established methods of dominion, same way they further utilized advance technology, and practices in The British Governor with theKandyan nobles author obtained this image from his private slowly taking control of the whole nation (Reddy,2003, collection pp. 61-62).  Eventually by 1815, the British replaced the once strong monarchial system of Sri lanka with the British administration, ripping the country of its uniting factors (Ferguson, 1893, pp.204-223). 28
  29. 29. British Changes  In 1815 Obtained the full dominions of the country including the kingdom of Kandy establishing the crown of England as the monarch of the Island.  Took the power away from the Sri Lanka’s ruling elites and gave it to people that favored the British.  With the power of the ruling elites given to anyone who speak English and bow to the British, paved the way to a new socialThe British Raj in Colombo early elite group.1900 author obtained this image from his private collection  The British also created various reforms which took the authority and power away from Buddhist monasteries which held the foundation to Sri Lanka’s identity and unity.  Established centralized rule doing away with the Rajakariya and the old de-centralized governing system of the village councils where everybody was part of the decision making. 29
  30. 30. British Changes Cont.  Introduced British education system, similar to the one used in England, and establishing formal schools with an education designed by the British.  The British also exploited land which they obtained through their implemented legislatures.  Introduced imbalanced modernization, where theyThe Archduke Franz Ferdinand duringhis visit to Sri Lanka, author obtained developed areas which they did business with whilethis image from his private collection abandoning other sectors.  The British also began the introduction of cash crops as Tea, Coconut, Rubber and spices which benefited the crown, and in working these began a mass migration of laborers from south India. 30
  31. 31. Post Colonial Systems  In February 4th 1948 Sri Lanka obtained it’s independence, however the leadership of the nation fell to the members of the new social elites (Desilva, 1981).  The new administration had some vital question to be resolved in benefiting the nation to maintain a sustained growth mentioning few are. ◦ National language ◦ Indian Tamil citizenship concerns ◦ Rights of the minorities The second prime minister of SriLanka, S.W.R.D Bandaranaike onthe right side, author obtained this image from his private collection  The various systems of governing which followed the independence failed to address these concerns. Furthermore the leaders of post colonial Sri lanka, being lenient towards the decayed Sinhalese systems, and heritages began favoring the majority.  This led to various protests by the minorities, which resulted in the outbreak of the 1950’s riots. 31
  32. 32. Violent Stage  Anti Tamil demonstrations as 1953 Harthal, 1958 and Gal Oya, also the 1977 Anti Tamil Riots that ended in Sri Lankan Black July of 1983 killing close to 400 - 3,000 (Tambaiah, 1996).  Two of these uprisings were due to JVP (Janatha Vimukthi The Black July 1983 image ofColombo, and the burned shops in Peramuna) insurgencies, which occurred in 1971 and 1987,the background. Author obtained this image from JDS website resulting in approximately 60,000 people being killed by the year 1990 (Staff, 1992)  Between years 2000 and 2009, a total of 13,503 civilians and 27,827 soldiers on were killed by the uprising (Singh, 2009). 32
  33. 33. Results of the Violence 1982 to 1996 Sri Lanka’s defense expenditure increased from 3.1 % to 21.6% of the total government expenditure (Central, 2010). Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s review of the economy annual report a total estimated lost GDP of Rupees 615 Million to Rs. 12,045 Million was recorded between 1984 and 1996 (Central,2010). Approximately 186,935 human lives were lost within a period of 38 years from 1971 to 2007 (AFP, 2009). In 1990, 26,935 people were extra judicially killed “Disappearances” (Senanayake, 2001) 33
  34. 34. Conclusion Proven by the study, Sri Lanka the 32 year conflict inflicted much damages to the nations socio economic growth. Furthermore the study also established that the reason for the conflict was a result of the colonial and post colonial separatist mentality. Furthermore triggering reasons for the civil disruption also was due to the negligence on behalf of the post colonial leader of Sri Lanka on uniting the ethnicities of the nation. Additionally in looking back the study prove that Sri Lanka even during the ancient times maintained three ethnic groups. 34
  35. 35. Conclusion Cont. During the ancient times wars or on the basis of race was not deployed against another human being. Instead they practiced ethnic assimilation, which made Sri lanka into an glories and prosperous nation among the ancient nations of the world. Therefore in obtaining a sustained growth in the post war Sri lanka the leaders must focus on uniting the ethnicities and addressing the future concerns for the nation as a collective. 35
  36. 36. Reference Augustus, D. B. (1841). Rambles in Ceylon. London: Wm. H. Allen and Co.,. Central, B. o. (2010, March 30). International Center for Ethnic Studies. Retrieved May 7, 2010, from Sri Lanka: Cost of war: Crooke, W. (1896). The Popular Religion and Folk-lore of Northern India (Vol. I). Westminister: Archibald Constable & Co. De Silva, K. M. (1981). A history of Sri Lanka. London: C.Hurst & Co.Ltd.,. De Silva, R. K., & Beumer, W. G. (1988). Illustrations and Views of Dutch Ceylon, 1602-1796:. London: Serendib Publications. Duncan, J. S. (1990). The City as Text: The Politics of Landscape Interpretation in the Kandyan Kingdom. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press. Enriquez, C. M. (1884). Ceylon, Past and Present 1884. London: Hurst & Blackett, ltd. Ferguson, J. (1883). Ceylon in 1883: The Leading Crown Colony of the British Empire; With an Account of the Progress Made Since 1803 Under Successive British Governors, and of the Present Condition of its Agricultural and Commercial Enterprises. London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington. 36
  37. 37. Reference Cont. Mendis, G. C. (1951). The Early History of Ceylon Or The Indian Period of Ceylon. Culcutta: Y.M.C.A Publishing. Mills, L. A. (1964). Ceylon under British rule, 1795-1932: With an Account of the East India Companys Embassies to Kandy 1762-1795. Oxon: Frank Cass and Co. Ltd. Pinkham, M. A. (1996). The Return of the Serpents of Wisdom. Kempton: Adventures Unlimited Publications. Reddy, L. R. (2003). Sri Lanka: Past and Present. New Delhi: A.P.H Publishing Corporation. Schrikker, A. (2007). Dutch and British colonial intervention in Sri Lanka, 1780-1815: Expansion and Reform. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV. Senanayake, D. R. (2001). Dysfunctional Democracy and the Dirty War in Sri Lanka. East West Center Analysis on Asia Pacific Issues , 1-8. Strong, J. (2004). Relics of the Buddha. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Tambiah, J. S. (1986). Sri Lanka: ethnic fratricide and the dismantling of democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Upinder, S. (2009). A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. New Delhi: Pearson Education. Wenzlhuemer, R. (2008). From Coffee to Tea Cultivation in Ceylon, 1880-1900: An Economic and Social. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill NV. Wijewardene, W. A. (2009, February 10). Lanka Business Online. Retrieved May 14, 2010, from Ancient Lessons: 37