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Out in the Wilderness — Dayan Jayatilleka on Pleading the 13th, Being a Hippy, and Getting Sacked by Boggles

Out in the wilderness. DJ in the Alps, soon after his dismissal was announced

Sri Lanka’s soon-to-be-ex-Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva took time off from his busy schedule of sipping martinis, getting up the Americans’ noses, and fighting on the Western Front, to have a little chat with us. This is his first interview since the Foreign Ministry announced that he has been recalled from Geneva, effective August 20th.

David Blacker: First off, there seem too be two opinions on your sacking. One, that you were too pushy about the 13th Amendment. Two, that you pissed off the Israelis. Which is it?

Dayan Jayatilleka: It could be either, both or neither. The editorials in The Island and the Daily Mirror on July 20th, indicate that it could have a personal aspect. Let’s unpack the other opinions. If I were ‘pushy’ about the 13th amendment I was only pushing a line that was the official stance of the government of Sri Lanka as contained in two post-war joint statements, of May 21st and 23rd. I was doing so in the English language, trying to convince the international community and the Tamil Diaspora of the sincerity of the Government’s commitment to devolution and a political solution, in a context where there was and is a powerful campaign calling for international intervention of one or other sort on the grounds that the Government will not implement such reforms. I was also waging an ideological struggle against those hard-line fringe elements who were opposed to the 13th amendment and playing into the hands of Sri Lanka’s enemies. I was not instructed to do otherwise.

As for the charge that I should not write to the papers or express my views in the media, I have always done so with the disclaimer that these are strictly my personal views. There are other diplomats who have done the same. The controversial articles in the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, by Dimitri Rogozin, Russia’s serving ambassador to NATO in Brussels, and a political appointee, not a professional diplomat. The respected diplomat, Kishore Mahbubani of Singapore was a star speaker in New York’s seminar circuit where he would preface his remarks by saying ‘these are not the views of the permanent representative of Singapore but simply of Mahbubani’. In our own diplomatic history, there is the example of Ambassador Ernest Corea, the former editor of the Daily News who was posted by President Jayawardene to Washington DC, precisely so he could use his journalistic skills.

The Israeli story is old hat. That issue came and went, and I was sent a letter signed by the Secretary to the Foreign Ministry which said that H.E. the President wished me to stay on in my post until May 31st 2010. Furthermore, after I received instructions, I have stayed off the Israeli issue. Therefore, that is probably just an excuse.

DB: For months, there have been ominous warnings of your head being on the block — particularly over the Israeli issue, but these seemed to come to nothing, and you say you were personally assured of your position by The Man himself. So is this sacking in deed a personal vendetta by the Foreign Minister? The Island suggests he feels upstaged by you. What do you have to say about that?

Dayan Jayatilleka: What I have is a letter dated March 26th, signed by the Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which says that H.E. the President has decided that I should stay on until May 2010. This was after the initial controversy involving Israel. Even if some one had a personal vendetta against me, I am not naive enough to think that this sort of decision, in the wake of an earlier unsuccessful effort to remove me and in the aftermath of the successful Special Session of the Human Rights Council, would have been implemented without some semblance of a green light, however fleeting and flickering, from the top political leadership. So it was probably a confluence of factors.

DB: Many people feel you’d make a better Foreign Minister than Rohitha Bogollagama, and he knows it. Do you agree?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Is that meant to be some kind of a compliment?

DB: Maybe. Were you seen as such a threat to the Foreign Minister?

Dayan Jayatilleka: That’s insane. I am neither a cabinet minister nor even a parliamentarian, nor have I displayed any interest in contesting an election. How could I be a threat to any minister?

DB: Oh, come off it. Lakshman Kadirgama himself came in via the National List, and if they can bring Karuna in as a minister, is it such a stretch to consider Sri Lanka’s pointman in Europe as Foreign Minister?

Dayan Jayatilleka: I have never shown interest in entering parliament, or in becoming a member of one of the two major political parties. In any case, given the evolution of Sri Lanka’s political culture, isn’t this speculation irrelevant?

DB: OK, moving along, the more right wing elements in parliament such as the JVP and the JHU are rabidly against the 13th. Has your vocal defense of this amendment lost you influential friends within the GoSL?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Oh dear, you forgot the NFF — though Nandana Goonetilleke is rather more pragmatic on devolution and the ethnic question than his comrade. They and the elements you mention weren’t my friends to lose. What is a little sad is that I seem to have lost the confidence of the President.

DB: The GoSL has resolutely maintained that it is committed to the 13th Amendment, and indeed it’s probable that a lot of India’s support during the war was conditional to this. However, now that the war is over, the JVP and JHU — and the NFF — seem keen to have the 13th removed from the table. Do you think they could be successful, and is this sacking an instrumental step down that road?

Dayan Jayatilleka: I sincerely hope not. If they are successful in such an endeavour, it would automatically mean that the balance of social, political and ideological forces is such that there would be no improved or even equivalent replacement, and that would mean a renewed cycle of ethnic polarisation and conflict, though not in the form of a war. It would also mean greater political space for the Tamil separatists especially in the Diaspora, and international pressure on and erosion of support for Sri Lanka. As for my sacking, I really do not know how the minorities and the international community will interpret my removal, though I have seen some Indian newspaper reports. They know that I have a track record of staunch opposition to Prabhakaran, the LTTE and Tamil separatism, have been a critic of centrifugal ethno-federalism and Western ‘liberal humanitarian’ interventionism, but have also stood for the implementation of the limited autonomy provisions of the Sri Lankan Constitution.

DB: In addition to the right-wing, there has been some celebration in the pro-LTTE circles over your sacking. Isn’t this embarrassing for the President, and would a reinstatement or promotion seem inconceivable at this stage?

Dayan Jayatilleka: I’m not in the least surprised to hear from you that the pro-LTTE circles are celebrating. As for your question, it isn’t my call to answer, but it is clear from the decision that this is not thought to be the case.

“The atrocities committed on the innocent people of Gaza should not be permitted to be obscured, obfuscated by lies, deception, half-truths and selective reordering of facts and chronology.”

DB: These were your words when addressing the UN Human Rights Council Special Session on Gaza. But they could very well have been used by critics of the GoSL’s anti-LTTE war. Given that the Israelis have remained a staunch ally – if not a friend – to SL over the years, don’t you think your speech was ill-timed?

Dayan Jayatilleka: They have indeed been used by critics of GOSL’s anti-LTTE war, but used unsuccessfully! Had they been successful they would have won the vote at the UNHRC, not lost it so badly. They were unsuccessful because the charge is not credible or accurate, which is why those who have strong views on Gaza and are thoroughly familiar with all its details are among our strongest political and diplomatic supporters.

What is unsaid by my critics is that in every one of my speeches, I have underscored the right of the state of Israel to exist behind secure borders and to combat terrorism. I have opposed the rocket attacks on civilian targets in Israel. I have even defended the policy of selective liquidation of terrorist leaders. I was one of the few Third World ambassadors to attend the 60th anniversary celebrations here in Geneva, of the founding of the state of Israel. Furthermore, the only time that I held a position at variance with that of Cuba as Non-Aligned Movement chair here was when I spoke up in support of the abortive effort by the Special Rapporteur on Occupied Palestinian Territories, Emeritus Professor Richard Falk, to re-define his mandate to include the acts of terrorism committed against Israel!

Was my speech ill-timed? Hardly — it was within traditional pro-Palestinian GoSL — and SLFP, I might add — policy. Furthermore, I had, in the speech, pre-emptively demarcated the contrast between the wars in Sri Lanka and Israel/Gaza; I had already made the case for the battle I knew was to come, because I knew — and advocated — that we would have to go in for a military endgame, and that there would be a international campaign against us.

Israel has been a source of sales of military equipment to us. So too have they to many others, who spoke and voted against Israel in the Gaza special session at the UN HRC.

DB: Sri Lanka has often been compared to Israel of late whenever a hardline stance against terrorism is discussed. You, however, in your speeches, have often gone to great lengths to distance the two conflicts. Why?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Some try to divert attention from Gaza by pointing the finger at Sri Lanka. We must not allow ourselves to be used as a red herring. Sri Lanka has never invaded any other country and occupied the lands of others. We are not in violation of any UN Security Council resolutions. Ours is a strictly internal conflict. Under international law, Israel and Sri Lanka are two very different cases. It is also because I have successfully argued this at the UN HRC that while there is a UN HRC mandated probe headed by Justice Richard Goldstone currently holding public hearings in Gaza, there isn’t one gearing to go to Sri Lanka, which was the aim of the Special session!

DB: Was there really a single moment when world opinion turned against the LTTE? Was it really the aftermath of 9/11 or the killing of Lakshaman Kadirgama? Or was it more a collection of trickles that became a river?

Dayan Jayatilleka: No, there wasn’t a single moment. World opinion didn’t turn against the LTTE to the point that it would have opposed the evacuation option for the Tiger leadership that some seemed to have had in mind following a so-called humanitarian pause, but it had turned to the extent that there was indifference to the fate of the Tigers as distinct from the Tamils, and that those who wanted such an “honorable exit” couldn’t mainstream it. It was really a cumulative affair — one had to remind audiences of the litany of Tiger crimes and the track record of repeatedly sabotaging chances for a negotiated settlement. If you want a turning point, it was the murder of Rajiv Gandhi, which pretty much ensured that a Sonia-led Congress administration would not save the Tigers nor join the West in pressurizing to stop the final offensive. If India had been on the other side of this, we would have been in a fix.

DB: What’s your view of the IDP camps? Do you think they are the necessary evil that the GoSL claims they are?

Dayan Jayatilleka: When an 18-person Task force was set up to manage the IDPs, it was originally pan-Sinhala. There was not a single Tamil to handle the fate of a purely Tamil populace of IDPs! Later, two Tamils were inducted, but not at the very top. There should be someone in charge who can speak to the IDPs in their own language and is sensitive to their predicament as a member of the same community — someone who would be motivated at least because these are his potential constituents. This would fast-track things. The sole Tamil Minister in the Cabinet, Douglas Devananda, should be co-chair of the Task Force set up for the IDPs and the North.

DB: The LTTE’s aggression – the boycotting of elections, the throwing out of the EU members of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission – created a lot of sympathy for the GoSL overseas. This sympathy possibly was justified with the victory against the LTTE. Is the GoSL in danger of squandering this goodwill over the IDP camps issue in a similar way that the Bush administration did by invading Iraq, creating Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Any administration and any society, would do well to be mindful of the lessons of History, which is that one can win a war but lose the peace and that winning the war is different from a successful and sustainable occupation of the ground which requires the winning of hearts and minds. The Six Day War was one of the most stellar military victories of the 20th century, but look at the endless quagmire that has resulted from the policies of occupation. I have long advocated the Chechen solution — an all-out, combined arms war to destroy the terrorist militia, followed by the implementation of some form of autonomy and self-governance for the area and stabilization through the rule of an elected local ally. Our military victory has to be politically conserved and socially stabilised. That’s what my advocacy of the 13th amendment is about. As for the IDP camps, I think I made clear that our Tamil partner, Minister Devananda, Minister of Social Services, should be mandated to co-manage the problem.

DB: While INGOs and certain groups within international bodies such as the UN have been heavily critical of the GoSL, during the war and since, the latter have managed to keep the head of the UN and most heads of state more or less onside. Given this, don’t you think that the GoSL’s siege mentality over certain issues such as the IDPs is an overreaction – and even bordering on paranoia?

Dayan Jayatilleka: The world has given us six months, which is the period of time within which we said we hoped to re-settle the bulk of the IDPs, though that was, as the president said, a target rather than a pledge. We will be evaluated by how much progress we have made towards that target. Conditions are better than made out in the Western media, but I guess the real moral test is whether we would like our grandmothers, mothers or kid cousins to be in these same conditions. Even from a counter-insurgency point of view, having large numbers in camps for a prolonged period is counterproductive.

DB: The loss of Lakshman Kadirgamar was a great blow to the GoSL’s fight against pro-LTTE international opinion. However, do you think that the GoSL would have been able to conduct the war in a similar manner had Kadirgamar been the Foreign Minister?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Kadirgamar would not have interfered in the conduct of the war. What he would have done was to provide, on the international front, a diplomatic and policy leadership parallel to and as good as the defence and military leadership was this time around.

DB: Velupillai Prabakharans’s death remains shrouded in mystery. Do you agree with the GoSL’s version of events – in effect, that he was ambushed by chance and killed, or do you have your own theory?

Dayan Jayatilleka: No theory of my own. The man is dead, that’s for sure and that’s all that counts. I lost just too many friends and acquaintances because of that predator. Kethesh, Neelan, Lakshman Kadir, Pathmanabha, Ossie Abeygoonesekara, Premadasa. I’ve been for too many funerals and know more dead people than live ones because of that man.

DB: While your use of blogging and other online media has made you one of the most accessible members of the Sri Lankan administration – at least to the IT generation – it has been counterbalanced by your often archaic ‘60s revolutionary stance – quoting Lenin and Castro for example in your writings. Deep inside, do you see yourself as a Commie hippy?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Ok, I’m a modernist, not a post-modernist, but Che is never archaic, anymore than Jimi Hendrix is or will be. And hey, check out Slavoj Zizek, the trendiest of philosophers in Europe today. He’s hardly archaic and he uses Marx and Lenin extensively. Commie hippy I don’t know, but I dig Lenin and Leonard Cohen. Lenin, not as Commie ideologue but as political thinker, Mao as philosopher, but I’m heavily into Nietzsche as well, at least after my parents died within 18 months of each other and I found myself a middle-aged orphan. I am more a Social Democrat or on the liberal-progressive wing of the US Democrats than a Commie, but I used to be one and a dedicated revolutionary too. So then, an ex-Commie who is a big fan of Barack Obama and one who predicted his victory and the dawn of an Obama Age, in print, while he was still behind in the primaries. Plenty ex-revo Commies who are pro-Obama, in nationalist, progressive and leftwing Latin American governments today – most of whom voted with Sri Lanka at the UN HRC special session — but unfortunately not a mix or profile you find in Sri Lanka!

DB: It’s rumored that you wear a Che T-shirt around the house, and that your ringtone is La Marseillaise. True?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Nope, I have a Che T-shirt, a gift from Havana, but I hardly get the right occasion to wear it and my phone has a standard nondescript ring tone. If I had a moment to change my ring tone it would be either to blues guitar prodigy Derek Trucks’ So Close, So far Away or Richie Havens’ Hands of Time. Around the house I do have, let’s see, an op-art Che poster (also a gift from Havana), a Sri Lankan woodcut of Christ with a crown of thorns, both books by Barack Obama, a picture of my parents with Indira Gandhi, one of me at age seven with my dad at the second Non-Aligned Movement conference in Cairo, CDs of Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tom Waits and John Maclaughlin, and a small stack of DVDs of Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Lou Reed, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield, Carlos Santana, all in concert. I also stay up late to watch BBC 2 re-runs of my favorite TV series The Wire — It used to be The Sopranos, Millennium and NYPD Blue, and in the 1980s, Miami Vice.

So what’s next ? Some of your more vocal critics have suggested you be made ambassador to Havana. What do you see in your immediate future?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Our current ambassador to Havana, Ms Tamara Kunanayakam, is a literate, multi-lingual, well educated intellectual and researcher whose views on foreign and domestic policy I share. She is perhaps the most intelligent of our DPLs and is doing an excellent job in Havana.

DB: OK, OK, I get it. So, before I let you go, who do you think is hotter — Arundhati Roy or MIA?

Dayan Jayatilleka: Man that is easily the easiest question I have been asked in quite a while. Arundhati Roy, for sure, though her political writing has declined from a superb initial critique of the Iraq war to an all points of the compass loony left nihilism.

NOTE: No part of this interview may be copied or published without the written permission of the blog owner.

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July 23, 2009 - Posted by | government, Politics, Security, War | , , , , , , , , , ,

39 Comments »

  1. Brilliant interview David. I know I should probably follow up with an intellectual comment about it, but the only thing I can think of is that Dayan sounds awesome! Lol.

    Comment by thebohemiangypsy | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  2. OH that is just awesome! I didnt think my respect for the man could go any higher, but this just did. Awesome.

    Comment by Dili | දිලින | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  3. my hats off to you! loved the way u asked the questions,:)

    Comment by Vann | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  4. It seems the leadership of the country is becoming over confident. I hope the Rajapaksa family will think they can be the Magnum Force. Sri Lanka has a long road ahead.
    Good one David!

    Comment by Sanjay | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  5. A hippy on left
    A gypsy on right
    Both looking happy & GAY Yay..

    Comment by Sad Human | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  6. Sanjay, that’s a “yes” on your FB question, but just provide a link for now. The interview might be carried on a couple of other sites soon, so I’ll give ‘em first bite.

    Comment by David Blacker | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  7. Awesome. I agree.

    Comment by sam | July 23, 2009 | Reply

  8. Nice one David. Wasn’t Dayan also involved with a militant Tamil group that demanded separatism? If so, that part would also have been very interesting.

    Comment by javajones | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  9. Mr.Dayan Jayatilleka does not seem to have any permanant opinion on any subject. He is a progressive – adjusting himself to the situation. He advocated the 13th amendment not that he believed in it but because the government said so. So there is nothing to crow about the statements made by him.

    Comment by Sie.Kathieravealu | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  10. [...] note: This interview was first published on David Blacker's blog. It is reproduced on Groundviews with his permission and at the request of Amb. Jayatilleka.] [...]

    Pingback by groundviews » Out in the Wilderness — Dayan Jayatilleka on 13th Amendment and getting sacked by Boggles | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  11. Java Jones, nope, I was never associated with a separatist group. I was indicted in the Colombo High Courts , toegther with 23 others, on 14 counts under the Prevention of terrorism Act and the Emergency. I was the first accused. the EPRLF leader was the 8th. NONE OF THE CHARGES RELATED TO SEPARATISM, WHICH WAS A SERIOUS OFFENSE THEN AS NOW, perhaps even more so. THIS IS BECAUSE WE WERE NOT SEPARATIST. THE PROJECT WAS A JOINT NORTH-SOUTH, ETHNICITY TRANSCENDING SYSTEMIC CHANGE, I.E. REVOLUTION. hence the main charge was “conspiracy to overthrow the state through violence”. Overthrow, NOT breaking away(cessation).

    Kaitheravelu, my friend, where have you been? I supported the Accord and the 13th amendment in 1987-88 and was a Provincial Minister.We anti-racist Southern leftists who supported it were targeted by the JVP, just as the Tamil supporters of it, the EPRLF were slaughtered by the Tigers. I have never opposed the 13th amendment nor supported anything else(ethnofederalism, Chandrika’s package, the ISGA, PTOMS).

    Comment by Dayan Jayatilleka | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  12. Dear Dayan – ‘Karapincha Policy’ is the fundamental strategy of any regime anywhere in the world. You have just become a victim of that phenomenon – but after creating a landmark sign in Geneva. Just get back to academia, a better way to serve mother Lanka.

    Comment by Ranga Kalansooriya | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  13. Interesting interview and interesting responses from DJ. But then that is to be expected with someone as educated and as articulate as him. But I cannot understand these people who still cling to the old Marx/Lenin theories as if they were immutable laws set in stone. Their theories have beeen found to be impractical. They are outdated and irrelevant. They were written in circumstances since vastly changed and for a society which also has changed beyond recognition. That said, DJ has served Sri Lanka well in Geneva (he might have shown some restraint in some areas, though) and deserves the country’s thanks for the contribution he has made.

    Comment by cassandra | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  14. Great interview David!
    Glad to hear that I share the same views about “The Wire” and Arundhati!
    http://chandare.blogspot.com/2009/07/dayan-jthe-wire-and-arundhati.html

    Comment by k.chandrasoma | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  15. Mr.Dayan Jayatilleka, Currently the need of the country/nation is good governance coupled with real democracy in its real sense. It is NOT 13+/-. We must make alterations in the present Constitution. People are still NOT AWARE that they have no representatives in the Parliament. The MP’s in Parliament are not representative of the people. MP’s are representative of a political party.

    The “people” must be able to rule themselves. They must have the power to make decisions as regards their lifestyle that does not adversely affect the freedom of the other persons. There should not be “professional” politicians and “politics” must not be made a “profession” The mindset of the people of the old “Gan Sabah” or “Village Committees” must be brought back. Serving the people must not be a means to “make” money. Then and only then we will have good governance in the country. Everyone must work towards this end.

    The best political solution to address the problems faced by various sections of the Sri Lankan society – particularly the poor, the politically weak and the “minorities” who do not carry any “political weight” – would be to DILUTE the powers of all elected representatives of the people by separating the various powers of the Parliament and by horizontally empowering different sets of people’s representatives elected on different area basis to administer the different sets of the separated powers at different locations.

    It has to be devolution HORIZONTALLY where each and every set of representatives would be in the SAME LEVEL as equals and in par and NOT VERTICALLY, where one set of representatives would be above (more powerful than) the other, which is the normal adopted practice when talking of devolution, in this power-hungry world. It is because “devolution of power” has been evolved “vertically”, we have all the trouble in this power-hungry world. So, for sustainable peace it should not be the present form of “devolution of power” but “dilution of powers” or “sharing or distribution of powers” in such a way that no single person or single set of people’s representatives be “superior” to another. That is the system with Prime Minister or President as Chief Executive must be replaced with a different system where a good number of people collectively would be responsible for the good governance of the country.

    Mr.Dayan Jayatilleka, your comments would be greatly appreciated.

    Comment by Sie.Kathieravealu | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  16. Ireally enjoyed reading the comments and answers by DYAN to the complex questions fired by DAVID .It was truly exillarating stuff The GOSL IS LOSING A VERY STAUNCH ALLY by sacking him,considering the putrid material that they have.Sad times are ahead.

    Comment by lucky | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  17. An adroitly handled interview, Mr Jayatillake is sharp, articulate and delivers with humour and wit. Alas, if only there were a few more like this in the corridors of power we might actually be going somewhere as opposed to no where

    Comment by Sigma | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  18. Dear Cassandra, I do not and never have clung to the old Marx Lenin theories as if they were immutable laws set in stone, as you put it. I think that while their experiment failed and they got much wrong, they also contributed mightily to political thought, especially the political and social thought of the modern age. I respect them as thinkers of a radical modernity, with whom we have yet to catch up in some areas; and as “master” conflict theorists and strategists. I am gratified that a recent critical essay in the latest issue of the International Journal of Zizek Studies classed my ideas (as contained in my Fidel book) with those of Slavoj Zizek and Alain Badiou, neither of whom are ossified Marxists or Leninists.

    Dear Kathieravealu, while you may be right, that programme is going to take much time and constitutional change, referenda etc. Let’s start with actualizing the positive potentials of what we have; our existing Constitution. If we don’t implement our own Constitution, and issue “fatwah” about advocating the implementation of its existing provisions, we are surely a long way from home.

    Comment by Dayan Jayatilleka | July 24, 2009 | Reply

  19. The Blacklight Arrow
    of
    David Blacker’s prediction undoutably will come true,You will be our next Foreign Minister.
    With best wishes from two ordinary citizens

    Gamini & Chirassree Udugampola

    Comment by Udugampola | July 25, 2009 | Reply

  20. Great interview DB Intelligent questions and answers.
    GOSL would be utterly stupid to recall one of the very few people that could stand up for the country abroad. Especially at this crucial period.
    Mr President, it is Bogoll…who should go and many of your compatriots would welcome that.

    Comment by S..Bailey | July 25, 2009 | Reply

  21. Thank you, Mr and Mrs Udugampola.

    Comment by dayan jayatilleka | July 25, 2009 | Reply

  22. Hi Dayan,

    Great interview !! cant keep a good man down [for too long]!!!

    Regards
    Eric

    Comment by Eric Fernando | July 25, 2009 | Reply

  23. After what was undoubtedly a good interview I was really surprised at the last question … was it really necessary? What’s the point.

    Arundhathi Roy is a brilliant dedicated grass roots level activist who has used her fame to fight for the rights of the most marginalised in Indian society. Loony left nihilism v Dayan J – progressive wing of the US democrats. Some how the loony left is coming out on top for me.

    Comment by dhamalanka | July 25, 2009 | Reply

  24. Dayan is the best we have had in Geneva and should not be recalled. We all owe a great deal to DJ…

    Comment by Gerald Simon | July 25, 2009 | Reply

  25. I wonder if Dayan feels any measure of guilt or regret at having papered over the GoSL’s excesses in prosecuting the war to foreigners only to see his anticipated result – sustained, fair peace – becoming increasingly unlikely.

    Do you reget what you’ve done? Do you feel responsible for aiding and abetting what’s turned out to be a very shortsighted conception of ‘peace’?

    There are a few hundred thousand people wasting away in camps, and you helped justify that on the promise of something better. Do you have any responsibility to them, Dayan?

    Comment by Anip | July 26, 2009 | Reply

  26. In my opinion, Dayan’s removal is not timely. DJ worked well in what he was tasked to do, and setup the diplomatic defence against the concerted international attack against Sri Lanka just 3 months ago. I think the top leadership wanted to keep him on (at least till end 2010) but the pressure to remove him was too great. I guess DJ dug his own grave in a way, when he aired his strong views about the 13 Amdt and Gaza at a time he was riding the wave of local and international popularity. It’s a shame because we desperately need talent like DJ to keep the international vultures at bay, until Sri Lanka rebuilds itself, as they will continue to create obstacles for the GOSL. We need local talent from all races supporting the rebuilding of our nation and therefore, let’s hope that pettiness is replaced by good reason all round, and we continue to see DJ and other patriots facilitating a revival after 26 years of stagnation.

    Comment by Chandri Gunawardhana | July 26, 2009 | Reply

  27. Dear Chandri,

    Thanks, but just a clarification. The airing of views on Gaza was way back, during the Gaza assault…NOT after the Sri Lanka Special session and the 13th amendment debate. I wrote on the 13th amendment despite the fact that i was riding a wave and the awareness that it might dissipate as a result, because riding a wave, while gratifying, is essentially meaningless or secondary to me, and worth the risk, because the re-building and revival that you and I wish for requires settling this issue between the communities as quickly as possible through the implementation of 13A. The best time is in the immediate aftermath of a great victory, because it goes downhill after that.

    Dear Anip, I didn’t do one part of what I did, namely, defending the Sri lankan state and war effort, for a “fair, sustainable peace”. That — a fair and sustainable peace– is what I wrote on behalf of the 13th amendment for, risking my popularity and job. However, the reason I defended the state and the war effort and helped hold back Western pressure to halt it and imediately after to probe and punish those who bravely won the war for us, is not for “peace” but for VICTORY, without which peace with the fascist Tigers had repeatedly proven impossible! I did it because I wanted Prabhakaran dead, and the fascist Tigers to be defeated and destroyed. I have helped contribute in some modest way to that. I tried to do so under Premadasa and ( from the outside, from late 1999) Chandrika as well. That has been achieved by Sri Lanka! I have no regrets at all and am very proud of being able to contribute.

    As for the IDPs, you would known my views if you actually read the interview David has done with me in which he brings it up more than once.

    Comment by Dayan Jayatilleka | July 26, 2009 | Reply

  28. Thanks David for an excellent interview and forthright responses from Prof. DJ. The magnitude of Dayan’s performance in blocking the West’s attempt to crucify the GOSL through a counter-resolution still isn’t appreciated enough. Those of us who live in the ‘wonderful’ West can truly appreciate how they use ‘human rights’ as a fig leaf to further their own interests.

    Apart from his Colombo establishment enemies, Eelamists must be delighted at his removal. In fact if I was an Eelamist, I’d do my best to fund and support the JHU and other ‘patriotic’ parties. Its the best guarantee of ensuring the survival of the LTTE virus in Sri Lanka.

    I reckon Dayan’s proven effectiveness in the UN and other fora is force multiplier we’re going to miss very badly. Some of the criticism of his past allegiances I’ve read are simply ridiculous. He’s consistently opposed the racist ideology of the Eelamists.

    To quote Deng Xiaoping, “No matter if it is a white cat or a black cat; as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat. …”

    I sincerely hope that DJ’s skills are used to their best effect – not in SL, but facing down the West.

    Comment by Mango | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  29. I haven’t met this gentleman though i’ve read his inspiring, thought provoking articles. Recently saw his UN speach on Youtube. Man i tell you he is 1000 times better than those illeterate morons who sit by the river that is Diyawanna. It is sad people like him are RAPED this way. I use the word RAPE coz that’s what it is, Abuse of the lowest degree. When will Sri Lanka move forward?

    Justice is something i don’t believe in anymore. Not in SL. Its an ambitious expectation over here in SL. If the gov’t could do this to Mr.Jayatilake, then we ordinary citizens have nothing to hope for.

    As for Mr.Jayatilake, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone Sir. We know who you are and how sincerely you contributed. We know it. People know it. That’s what matters end of the day.

    If you noticed it, the daily news is not talking about this. I am not sure about other state media. They are not even giving the attention it deserves. I first saw it on daily mirror. State media is deliberately silent.

    I would urge him to move a fundamental rights violation motion or anything of the sort. Not sure if this can be done. Is there a provision or place like labour tribunal for diplomats and high ranking civil servants? If so, he should.
    He should teach them a good lesson by taking them to task, atleast to show that justice can still prevail in SL.

    End of the day these idiots forget one simple truth, people are not idiots. We can make our own judgements no matter what some idiot claims. My judgement about Mr.Jayatilake is he is way too good for SL. Fools rule. Such is the irony here.

    Comment by Mohamed Fahim | July 27, 2009 | Reply

  30. Sorry for tail end comment. Nice one Davy, nice.
    Melo saw it and read it on the Sunday Island. She was laughing so hard we were wondering WTF!
    Cool scene!

    Comment by DD | July 28, 2009 | Reply

  31. Dayan

    With RajivaW and yourself working in the current administration I had more faith in a progressive outcome to the issues at hand in the short term than I do now after reading of your ousting. With your modernist and rational voices within the regime there seemed a possibility of keeping the right-wing conservatives, of the NFF variety, at bay.

    Is this move a sign of the china faction gaining it’s ascendancy within the regime?

    Perhaps its time to write a treatise along the lines of The Politics of Civilizational Borders and Sovereign States.

    All the best in this new struggle for a sustainable outcome for the country.

    Comment by ivap | July 30, 2009 | Reply

  32. Dear Ivap,

    No way, not a China faction; an isolationist faction. China is a successful blend of the ancient and the modern, and we would be very fortunate if we had a rational model of education and modernization as they do.

    Comment by Dayan Jayatilleka | July 31, 2009 | Reply

  33. Hi Dayan, thanks for the clarification. I do agree wholeheartedly that the issue between the races that have led to distrust has to be resolved by action not not mere hollow political promises.

    Not sure whether the 13 Amdt is the answer. It could be a the means to an end, a starting point, but may not satisfy the aspirations of all concerned. We may need to revise it in order to bring this impasse to a conclusion – i.e., all races feel equal and stop bickering about State discrimination or favouring of minorities.

    A good example is Singapore: there is a national ethnic day, where all races get to wear their traditional costumes and celebrate their uniqueness. So Tamils, Chinese and Malays get to feel special and exercise their special identity. Then on 9 Aug, independence day, everyone is “Singaporean” and there’s only a single unified theme. No majority and no minorities. The national anthem is in Malay and the President (a Tamil) will preside over the occasion. All students are given equal access to education and an opportunity to excel. English is the official language of instruction but children also get to study their “Mother tongue” of choice: Mandarin, Tamil or Malay. Only Science, Maths and English will be tested at the P6 exam (equivalent to SL grade 5 entrance exam), and Science and Math are in English language.This is not impossible to adapt into Sri Lanka’s education system. In fact in the early 80s there was a similar system.

    Why can’t we appoint Douglas Devananda, Karuna, Chandrasekeran, George Master, Anandasagaree, etc into more prominent positions and give them more air time? Why can’t we aspire to a Tamil President one day? We already have a Muslim mayor of the Capital, so it is a matter of acceptability by the majority.

    Another area that we might be able to consider as a quick win would be the National Flag (as long as we have the Lion, all non-Singalese will feel alienated) and Anthem (why not in Sinhala & Tamil? If our singers can sing in all three languages and make chart hits, why cant we adopt it to our National Anthem?), the language of Govt Depts (no more “Rajaya Sevaya Pinisa” letters: but in English, or in all 3 languages) and formal recognition of all religions as equal across the land (without special elevation for Buddhism – and full protection to all religions from anti-religious activities). Although I am a Buddhist, I dont need the Govt to protect my belief by Statute that gives it special recognition, as long as my right to practice my beliefs is protected.

    If Sri Lanka is to represent a multi-ethnic mosaic, then there must be compromise on the part of ALL people of Sri Lanka for sustainable change in our nation – majority AND minorities. This includes minorities willingness to compromise as well. If all are to be truly “equal” then there cannot be anything that favours one citizen over another, notwithstanding the percentage of the population, or specific cultural observances or practices, if that impignes on the general unity of the whole. That means that all parties will have to drop their arrogance and their “special privileges”. This is most important as regards property ownership. The laws that need to be amended immediately are the Thesavalami laws pertaining to pre-emption which requires NE Tamils to offer property to other NE Tamils and offer to other races only if there are no takers, and the Land Acquisition Act which allows the Govt to take over property indiscriminately. The former should be abolished and the latter amended to include only special circumstances – national security, health, morality….and development (with specific examples). I am sure you will agree that ALL citizens of Sri Lanka should be given the opportunity to buy land and reside in any part of the island without any encumberances, unless restricted by law in the interests of national security.

    These types of steps to integrate ALL races are what Sri Lanka needs desperately…..and fast! These areas invisible in the 13A and these “quick wins” are what Sri Lanka needs to fast track the rebuilding process. Perhaps another Amendment to the Constitution? With the current majority in Parliament, now is the time to make these these sweeping changes.

    There are lots more, which the Govt needs to attend to through a special task force with a clear remit. But as with everything else, this will take time. My point is that we should be seeking to get some “quick wins” on the board asap, before the next International diplomatic siege!

    Comment by Chandri Gunawardhana | August 4, 2009 | Reply

  34. [...] Island recently published an apology for stealing David Blacker’s interview with Dayan Jayatillake, misspelling the URL from where they had purloined [...]

    Pingback by Delusions of Journalism | Nisadas | August 10, 2009 | Reply

  35. why do you keep bringing up the Israeli issue, i think the Muslim minority of this country should be represented and most of all the Israel should be condemned for their continued acts of violence.

    Comment by sanya | September 17, 2009 | Reply

  36. [...] 6. Dr. Jayatilleka contests my reading of his support for the 13th amendment as strategic positioning and not really because he thinks it adequately deals with the Tamil problem. If he does really think that it solves the Tamil people’s problem then he should demonstrate how it does. But if anyone wants more evidence that his support for the 13th amendment is indeed strategic here is one more extract from his writing: [...]

    Pingback by For Whom Is The ‘Tamil Civil Society View’ Causing Trouble? A Response To Dayan’s Rejoinder | Colombo Telegraph | April 24, 2013 | Reply

  37. [...] evidence that his support for the 13th amendment is indeed strategic here is one more extract from his writing: “I have long advocated the Chechen solution – an all-out, combined arms war to destroy the [...]

    Pingback by For Whom Is The ‘Tamil Civil Society View’ Causing Trouble? A Response To Dayan’s Rejoinder | Sri Lanka | April 25, 2013 | Reply


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