HOME
Rajani’s Vision for Lanka – IV

Dr. Rajani Thiranagama

"Within this tragic history there is still an attempt by concerned people to think coherently of the future. There are debates going on as to the correct path for survival, organisation and possible breakthroughs. There is, especially in the North, a limited attempt at organising at the grass-roots level, so as to handle the repressive situation and violence from all sides.

If the rulers do not trust the people, especially the Tamils, and try to impose their control, not only will they fail, but will also keep divisionary politics alive. If the Government could initiate a broader process in which all communities could reevaluate their past and work out a political arrangement which would allow the different communities political and cultural space to participate as equals in decision making, then there would be hope. If the country is to become great, it must be ruled by a broad democratic consensus. A country represented by a royal president and his hangers on would remain conflict-prone, weak and a tragic laughing stock among nations.

At this point the Tamils who have been browbeaten by decades of war need political space to manage affairs of their reconstruction and to overcome or expiate the legacies of state violence and fascist control. It would only be then that they could work with other communities without fear. We end with quotations from the Post Script to the Broken Palmyra written by Rajani in 1989 (Vol.II, Ch.9) and ‘Laying Aside Illusions’ (Appendix IV), a statement by 50 teachers of the University of Jaffna in 1988, where Rajani’s contribution comes through clearly. These give insights into Rajani’s thinking and, sadly, reveal the country’s propensity to forget the past and arrive back where we began twenty years ago, with everything in place for reenactment:

"If our earlier account had appeared to be ‘plugging a line’, as some would want to put it, it was because it was important for us to arrive at a synthesis in analysis, seek an understanding, find spaces to organise, and revitalise a community that was sinking into a state of resignation. Objectivity was not solely an academic exercise for us. Objectivity, the pursuit of truth and the propagation of critical and honest positions, was crucial for the community. But they could also cost many of us our lives. Any involvement with them was undertaken only as a survival task…

"Within this tragic history there is still an attempt by concerned people to think coherently of the future. There are debates going on as to the correct path for survival, organisation and possible breakthroughs. There is, especially in the North, a limited attempt at organising at the grass-roots level, so as to handle the repressive situation and violence from all sides. These are very small beginnings indeed…For the people, any solution to the brutal and intense violence has to come from within the communities and cannot be imposed from outside. The development of these internal structures is a long and arduous task, a process which is only just beginning to be comprehended."

Finally we quote from ‘Laying aside Illusions’, which emphasises democratic organisation and a collective response:

"Our obeisance to terror within the community, and our opportunism and lack of principles in the face of many internal killings, have made it easy for external forces to use the same weapons to control us…Thus if the people are to regain their lost self-will and dignity, they will have to move towards a principled collective response. We have to assert universal values to which we are both emotionally and intellectually committed.

It is the lack of such commitment that enabled us to come to terms with murder, when it concerned others’ sons, and then, watch helplessly in panic when the cancer, allowed to grow, threatened our own sons. We are now paying the price for our past indifference…

"As individuals or small groups in our neighbourhoods, places of work, unions or associations, we must question our past, understand where we went wrong, and rediscover our principles. We must be conscious of the message of past experience, that in standing up for others we also stand up for ourselves. This course requires courage; and, no other is open to us. We have tried to play safe in the past.

The result was mass murder from several sources. Non-combatant civilians too became unarmed front-line troops facing the wrath of advancing armies. The future looks even more bleak, with the rapid growth and consolidation in southern Sri Lanka of forces of narrow political vision. This opens the door for further involvement by external forces.

Let us not remain forever unprepared and continue trapped in the logic of passivity - hoping against hope that someone else will bring us deliverance."

(Concluded)

Google
www island.lk


Copyright©Upali Newspapers Limited.


Hosted by

 

Upali Newspapers Limited, 223, Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13, Sri Lanka, Tel +940112497500