Dayan Jayatilleka

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Dayan Jayatilleka
දයාන් ජයතිලක
Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations in Geneva
In office
June 2007 – October 2009
Preceded by Sarala Fernando
Succeeded by Kshenuka Seneviratne
Sri Lankan Ambassador to France
In office
January 2011 – January 2013
Preceded by Lionel Fernando
Succeeded by Karunaratne Hangawatte
Personal details
Born 1956 (age 60–61)
Alma mater
Profession Academic
Ethnicity Sinhalese

Dayan Jayatilleka (Sinhalese: දයාන් ජයතිලක; born 1956) is a leftist Sri Lankan academic, diplomat, writer and politician.

Early life and family[edit]

Jayatilleka was born in 1956.[1] He is the son of Mervyn de Silva and Lakshmi Sylvia Fernando.[1] He was named after the Israeli general Moshe Dayan.[2][3] Jayatilleka was educated at St. Joseph's College, Colombo.[1] After school he studied at Aquinas University College, Colombo before joining the University of Sri Lanka Peradeniya campus, graduating from its successor, the University of Peradeniya, with a first class honours B.A. degree in political science.[1] He was Fulbright Scholar at the Binghamton University between 1982 and 1983, studying for a doctorate in political sociology.[1]

Jayatilleka had become involved in radical politics at a young age and whilst studying Advanced Level at Aquinas he was "picked up" by the Intelligence Services Division and questioned at their headquarters in Longdon Place, Colombo.[4] At Peradeniya he was a member of two radical groups - the Lanka Samaja Adhyayana Kavaya (Lanka Social Studies Circle) and Samaja Adhyayana Kavaya.[4] Whilst at Binghamton he was involved with solidarity movements in support of El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.[5] He returned to Sri Lanka in 1982 to observe the presidential election but, having gotten involved in militant Sri Lankan politics, never returned to Binghamton and dropped out.[5][6]

Jayatilleka has been married three times.[5] He first married a Burgher woman called Margreet and then Pulsara Liyanage.[5] He is currently married to accountant Sanja de Silva.[1]


Jayatilleka was a visiting lecturer at the University of Colombo from 1982 to 1984. After getting involved in radical politics he and others founded the Vikalpa Kandayama (Alternative Group).[4][5] Jayatilleka had been a supporter of Tamil militancy for some time and had argued that their actions were a war of national liberation, not terrorism.[7] Vikalpa Kandayama formed a relationship with the Tamil militant Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front (EPRLF).[5] Vikalpa Kandayama was banned in 1986 and Jayatilleka was indicted, in absentia, by the Colombo High Court on 14 counts including conspiracy to overthrow the state through violence.[8] In the meantime, Jayatilleka had gone into hiding, spending two years underground in Sri Lanka and one year in India.[2][5][9] He was then pardoned by President J. R. Jayewardene.[6]

Jayatilleka joined the Sri Lanka People's Party after its leader Vijaya Kumaratunga was assassinated and became a member of the party's central committee.[5][9] Jayatilleka was Minister of Planning and Youth Affairs for the North Eastern Province between 1988 and 1989 but resigned because of policy differences.[1][9][10][11] Jayatilleka then abandoned his radical beliefs and became a prominent supporter of President Ranasinghe Premadasa, serving as his advisor from 1989 to 1993.[6][8][9] He was Director of Conflict Studies at the Institute of Policy Studies (1990–94) and executive director of the Premadasa Centre (1994-2000).[8][9] He was also editor of Lanka Guardian, the journal founded by his father, from 1996 to 1998.[6][8][9]

Jayatilleka received a M.Phil. degree from the University of Colombo in October 2002.[1] He was visiting senior fellow and adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins University between 2005 and 2006.[12] He was later appointed senior lecturer at the University of Colombo.[1][11][12] He was a member of the Council of Management of the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BCIS).[1][11] He received a PhD degree from the Griffith University in 2007 after writing a thesis titled The Moral Sierra Maestra: The Moral-Ethical Dimension of the Political Thought of Fidel Castro.[1][13]

Jayatilleka was Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva between June 2007 and October 2009.[12][14] During his tenure he was chairman of the International Labour Organization's governing body (2007–08); vice president of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) (2007–08); and co-ordinator of the Asian group on United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (2009).[1][12][15] Jayatilleka is credited with shielding Sri Lanka from censure by the UNHRC for alleged human rights violations during the final stages of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009.[16][17] Jayatilleka had been appointed for a two-year term but when his contract expired in June 2009 President Mahinda Rajapaksa extended his contract until June 2010.[17] However, on 17 July 2009 the Foreign Ministry told him by fax to "relinquish [his] duties and return to Colombo on 20 August".[16] According to Jayatilleka no reason was given for his sacking but it was suggested that Sinhalese nationalists were unhappy with support for the implementation of the 13th Amendment.[16][17]

Jayatilleka was visiting senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore's Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) in 2010.[12] He was honorary senior fellow at ISAS between 2011 and 2013.[12] He was Ambassador to France, also accredited to Portugal and Spain, and Sri Lanka’s permanent delegate to UNESCO from January 2011 to January 2013.[12][18]

Jayatilleka has written articles and columns for several publications including the Daily Mirror, Daily News, The Island, Lakbima, Sunday Island, Sunday Observer and Weekend Express.[19]


Alleged racism and fear mongering[edit]

Despite his past support of the LTTE after Dayan began to support Mahinda Rajapaksa he is accused of becoming racist against Tamils and having double standards when Tamils are concerned as well not differentiating the LTTE from the Tamil people and democraticaly elected Tamil politicians.[20] In his articles Dayan attacked the Wickremesinghe-Sirisena government for "serving the minorities" and claimed that the planned new constitution will federalize and divide Sri Lanka which will cause the "Sinhala national consciousness" to be atomized and disintergrate and empower the "Tamil consciousness". Further he claimed that the agenda of the "Tamil bourgeoisie" and "Diaspora capitalists" is to use the constitution is to "rewire and reprogram" the Sinhala consciousness so they can never win another war ,divide and rule the "majority" and weaken the national state.[21] His misleading and inaccurate statements have been harshly criticized by critics as fear mongering to the benefit of Mahinda Rajapaksa and his ethnic chauvinist camp.[22]


  • Sri Lanka: The Travails of a Democracy: Unfinished War, Protracted Crisis (Vikas Publications, 1995)[1][9][23]
  • Fidel’s Ethics of Violence: The Moral Dimension of the Political Thought of Fidel Castro (Pluto Press and University of Michigan Press, 2007)[1][23][24]
  • Long War, Cold Peace: Conflict and Crisis in Sri Lanka (Vijitha Yapa, 2013)[23][25][26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Dayan elected Chairman for the ILO Governing Body". The Island (Sri Lanka). 19 June 2007. 
  2. ^ a b D. B. S. Jeyaraj, D. B. S. Jeyaraj (25 June 2012). "Mervyn de Silva: reminiscences about a journalist colossus". The Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 
  3. ^ Godage, K. (20 July 2009). "Dayan recalled". The Island (Sri Lanka). 
  4. ^ a b c Rathindra Kuruwita, Rathindra (1 November 2009). "Rebel with a cause". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Gunasekara, Naomi (26 March 2007). "The revolutionary turned public intellectual". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 
  6. ^ a b c d Sri Kantha, Sachi (14 March 2011). "Now riding the UNESCO Horse (Hoax)". Ilankai Tamil Sangam. 
  7. ^ Sri Kantha, Sachi (29 February 2008). "Dissecting Dayan Jayatilleka's Past and Present". Ilankai Tamil Sangam. 
  8. ^ a b c d Sri Kantha, Sachi (21 January 2006). "Concerning Dayan Jayatilleke, JVP and Pol Potism". Tamil Nation. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Gosh, Partha S. (17 March 1996). "Sri Lanka: the travails of a democracy...". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 
  10. ^ Christopher, Chrishanthi (27 September 2013). "UNP has no future with Ranil - Dayan". Sri Lanka Guardian. 
  11. ^ a b c "Jayatilleke apponted new ILO Governing Body Chairman". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 24 June 2007. 
  12. ^ a b c d e f g "Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka Assumes Duties In Paris". The Sunday Leader. 23 January 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Moral Sierra Maestra: The Moral-Ethical Dimension of the Political Thought of Fidel Castro". Griffith University. 
  14. ^ "List of former Ambassadors/Permanent Representatives to the United Nations in Geneva". Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka to the United Nations Geneva Switzerland. 
  15. ^ "Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka leaves Geneva". Daily News (Sri Lanka). 21 August 2009. 
  16. ^ a b c "Sri Lankan top diplomat 'sacked'". BBC Sinhala. 19 July 2009. 
  17. ^ a b c "Sri Lankan diplomat who advocated power sharing is sacked". Deccan Herald. Indo-Asian News Service. 19 July 2009. 
  18. ^ "Farewell". UNESCO. 
  19. ^ Gourevitch, Philip (1 August 2005). "Tides of War". The New Yorker. 
  20. ^ "Dayan Jayatilleka, The Incorrigible Nitpicker". Colombo Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  21. ^ "West Wants Sri Lankan Regime To Midwife a “Tamil Kurdistan “ To Serve As Permanent Proxy.". 2015-12-22. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  22. ^ "On The Concepts Of Federalism & Secularism". Colombo Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-02-18. 
  23. ^ a b c DeSilva-Ranasinghe, Sergei (16 May 2013). "In the security of Sri Lanka". Daily FT. 
  24. ^ Chambers, Paul (10 January 2010). "Ethical violence as a means to political ends". The Nation (Sri Lanka). 
  25. ^ Kurukulasuriya, Lasanda (21 April 2013). "‘Long War, Cold Peace’ -the unfinished story of an unfinished conflict". The Sunday Times (Sri Lanka). 
  26. ^ Senaratne, Kalana (24 April 2013). "'Long War, Cold Peace'". The Island (Sri Lanka).