Enough is Enough - Sri Lanka Guardian

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Friday, October 31, 2008

Enough is Enough



by Nadodi

(October 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) For the last 25 years many countries and organizations have been repeatedly saying that there is no military solution, and that there should be a political solution. The Sinhala majority governments in power have ignored such advice, at times pretending to want a political solution, but not coming up with an acceptable one for over 25 years!! Those who have preached about the need for a political solution have done nothing more than repeat it like a parrot, while taking no substantive action.

Enough is enough. It is about time that the carnage and destruction taking place in the island, now called Sri Lanka, is stopped. All Sinhala majority governments that have carried out genocidal attacks against the Tamils say that they are going to 'liberate' the Tamil people from the Liberation fighters, as if any Tamil had requested them to do so, other than a few bootlickers who are doing so for personal benefit...

In 1976 all Tamil political parties joined together and passed a resolution asking their representatives to request separation to get back to the position on the island prior to the colonial conquests more than four centuries ago. All Sinhala majority governments want to rule over the Tamils just as the colonial powers did. The Tamil party (TULF) with the mandate to separate won all but two parliamentary seats from the Tamil Homelands. Tamils have been robbed of the use of their language, educational and employment opportunities, and development of their areas. Sinhala armies were sent as occupying forces to Tamil areas after the vote for separation, and Tamils have been ruled under emergency law and curfews for most of the time since then.


Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranayke once said, "Yes. There is an army of occupation in Tamil areas." Later President Jayewardene said, "If the Tamils are attacked, my Sinhala people will be happy. Why should I worry about Tamils?"

Tamil leaders signed pacts with two different Sinhala parties to solve the national problem in 1957 and 1965. Both pacts were abrogated unilaterally by the Sinhalese leaders. Had either of those pacts been implemented, much agony and destruction, and many deaths, rapes, acts of torture, abductions and extrajudicial killings could have been avoided. Money spent on the war could have been used for development of the whole island.

Figures for each type of abuse vary, with the government downplaying the numbers. As an example, for years the number of people killed according to the government stood at 60,000, then went up to 70,000 and got stuck at that figure for the last several years. Some organizations state that more than 200,000 civilians have died. About 90% of civilian deaths are of Tamils.

Tamils first tried non-violent Satyagraha and parliamentary methods to redress their grievances, to no avail. Repeated pogroms against Tamils were part of life, and lasted till the genocidal attacks of 1983, after which the war started. It should be noted that ever since liberation fighters started fighting, the pogroms, as such, have stopped.

Whenever a new Sinhala majority government has come to power (which was all the time), it promised to solve the issue, but never got down to it. Some times, they point to the constitutions, saying that they do not permit action. Constitutions, which are man-made, can be amended. It is a well known fact that Tamils did not participate in the drafting or approval of either of the two new constitutions implemented after independence. Protections provided in the original constitution for minorities were omitted in the latter ones... The 13th and 17th amendments to the constitution have not yet been implemented in full.

For the last 25 years many countries and organizations have been repeatedly saying that there is no military solution, and that there should be a political solution. The Sinhala majority governments in power have ignored such advice, at times pretending to want a political solution, but not coming up with an acceptable one for over 25 years!! Those who have preached about the need for a political solution have done nothing more than repeat it like a parrot, while taking no substantive action.

The Sinhala majority governments have been doing everything possible to make the Tamil homelands their colony. They decide when and where the Tamils can stay or carry out their vocations, they rename places or streets with Sinhalese names, they decide where Buddhist temples should be built, they determine when and for what duration there should be curfews, and they decide which roads or bridges may be closed or opened.

In order to arrive at a solution , the background should be looked at. From ancient times there have been three independent Kingdoms in the island , each with their own territorial integrity and sovereignty which were lost to the European colonial powers at different times. The Maritime Kingdom lost sovereignty to the Portuguese in 1505, the Tamil kingdom 104 years later, also to the Portuguese. The Dutch took over from the Portuguese and the British took over from the Dutch. The Kandyan Kingdom was taken control of by the British only in 1815. The British brought all three Kingdoms under one administration for convenience in 1833. When the last colonial power, Britain gave independence to the island, the three ex-kingdoms should have been restored to their status quo ante. That this was not done should be blamed on the British.

Lord Soulbury, the architect of the first constitution, said, in his later years, that had he known what would happen, he would have made a different arrangement for government on the island.
The first person to suggest a federal type of constitution was an Oxford-educated Sinhalese by the name of SWRD Bandaranaike in 1926. He later became prime minister and unleashed the communal frenzy by making Sinhalese the only official language of the country. Though four decades later Tamil was also made an official language, this provision has not been fully implemented.

Yearly the Sinhalese became more communalized, adopting ever more strongly what is called a 'Mahavamsa mentality,' referring to the legend written by Buddhist priests in the ancient Pali language centuries after the events. The 'Mahavamsa' contains stories of a princess co-habiting with a lion and a brother and sister marrying each other... Politicians have encouraged this ethnonationlist mentality and have said that the island belongs to the Sinhalese, since it get them more votes. Now, more than 90 % of the Sinhalese believe these legends. Small wonder that recently Army commander Fonseka said that the island belongs to the Sinhalese and the minorities should not make any unreasonable demands on the majority, without any politicians contradicting him. In 1996 after the army took over the Jaffna Peninsula from the liberation fighters, the Deputy Defence Minister, an uncle of President Kumaratunga, flew to Jaffna, had a victory ceremony and raised the Sinhalese lion flag. Following that, a big ceremony was held in Colombo during which the uncle presented a "golden scroll" to the niece similar to that given to Sinhalese kings of the Middle Ages celebrating victories!!

Communalism has gone very deep, and - left to themselves - Sinhalese and Tamils will never, ever, find a solution unless one is imposed on them, either by a colonial Sinhala State or by an external power. Minister Gunasekara in a recent interview quoted Lenin as saying "Ethnicity is second nature, it so close to the heart."

Where do we go from here?

Most Tamils want democracy and want to retunr to live in their original homes. If an amicable settlement is arrived at, they should be able to live in any part of He Island without let or hindrance, and be treated as Equal in all respects with all other persons living in the island and with Dignity and Justice. They will never accept that the island does not belong to them or that they do not belong on the island.

Sometimes something, which may have looked reasonable at a particular time, may look too little too late at another time.

1. Before the Tamils asked for separation, the Tamils asked for a fully federal type of government. Fully federal does not mean like the Indian type of quasi- federalism. In India the Central government is very powerful. It appoints and removes Governors of states. Under sec.356, it can dismiss Chief Ministers for almost any reason. Tamils want federalism similar that in the US, Canada, Australia and most countries of the world who have a federal type of government.

2. During peace talks in Oslo, the UNP agreed to explore a Federal type of solution with internal self-determination. The latest statement made by the UNP leader is that he will support a 'clear-cut political solution,' whatever that means.

President Rajapakse says that he will think of a political solution only after defeating the LTTE or they surrender their arms. That means, "Till the cow comes home." What naivety to think that the freedom fighters will lay down arms.

3. At the Thimpu talks facilitated by India in 1985, all Tamil parties and groups of liberation fighters put forward a joint list of aspirations.

(a) Recognize Tamils as a nation.
(b) Recognize the concept of a Tamil homeland and
(c) Recognize the right of self-determination of Tamils.


(a) and (b) are matters of fact and (b) is expressly mentioned in the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord. (c) is the right of a People or Nation. According to the Covenants of the United Nations, Tamils satisfy all attributes of a Nation or people.

4. A senior Minister of the Indian Government, Mr. Parthasarathy shortly thereafter came up with a proposal called Proposal C which was not accepted.

5. After discussions between President Jayewardene of Sri Lanka and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India (with no participation by Tamils or their representatives) in 1987, an Indo-Sri Lanka Accord was signed recognizing the Tamil homelands as the "Historical habitat of the Tamil Speaking people of Sri Lanka."

6.. Madam Teresita Schaffer, one time Ambassador for the USA, has proposed a con-federal type of solution.

7. Mrs .Chandrika Kumaratunga came up with a suggested solution of a quasi–federal type of government, not accepted by the liberation fighters.

8. I believe Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe also came up with an informal solution not accepted by the liberation fighters.

9. The liberation fighters themselves came up with an Interim Self-Governing Authority proposal to be implemented pending a final solution.

If no proposal has been agreed to over the period of 60 years since independence, even after 25 years of war, no proposal is going to be accepted now.

The APRC is a boneless eye-wash to hoodwink the world. To start with, it is not an 'all party conference,' although its purpose is to find a solution to the ethnic conflict. The major Tamil party, with 22 parliamentary seats, was not even invited to participate. The Sinhala-majority government probably thought that they could dictate a solution to the Tamils. Some parties have boycotted the meetings after a few sessions. After three years of meeting, the committee has not come up with any proposal. The President pressurized the Chairman of the APRC to come up with an "interim proposal"( which was the President's own), but even that has not been implemented. Now the President has rushed to set up an All Party Committee which is examining more proposals. Again, the largest Tamil party has not been invited, but a breakaway paramilitary group from the liberation fighters, encouraged to split away by the government, and which helped the current government to " liberate the East," has been invited. That group still carries arms and one of its leaders, who was imprisoned by the UK government for traveling on a false diplomatic passport arranged for him by the President's brother, has been nominated by the President's party to parliament to take the seat of a pliant parliamentarian of the government's party who resigned.

Recently Mr. Blake , ambassador for the US in Sri Lanka, said at a meeting in Chennai said that a military solution is difficult. Army Commander Fonseka has said that Sri Lanka (he means the island) belongs to the Sinhalese and the minorities cannot make unreasonable demands. To date, no one has corrected him. Fonseka has also said that even if the liberation fighters are defeated, it may take two decades for Tamil nationalism to vanish. Future generations will continue the fight. Ex-Prime Minister Wickramasinghe has said that he will back a clear-cut political solution. Of course, most countries including India have hoped for a political solution for more than25 years and are still waiting.

Without outside intermediation, the problem will never be solved.

Any solution that comes from the APRC, and for that matter the APC, if any , will be a Southern consensus at best.

It is suggested that the only basis on which this matter can be solved is for the International Community or the United Nations to –

Impose an immediate cease-fire supervised by the United Nations with monitors to supervise
Allow the UN Human Rights Commission to establish an office in the island with authority to prosecute

Appoint a Commission made of some of the following countries :-

India, USA, Norway, Japan, United Kingdom, South Africa, and appraise them fully of the history of the conflict and give the proposals which have been mentioned under 1 to 9 above and ask them to come up with a 'road map' which will take into account all of the nine items mentioned above, and come up with a solution within a reasonable period of time, which could make all occupants of the island live as absolute equals in every sense, and with justice and dignity.

If the two sides do not agree, so be it, and it will be clear that Tamils would not get justice and equality and let the two ex-Kingdoms separate with guarantees by the UN and major countries.
I appeal in the name of humanity, human rights and justice to stop this carnage and genocide in the name of sovereignty and unity of the Sri Lankan state.

During the deliberations, the internally displaced should be permitted to go back to their original homes, if they want to or to any another part of the island. Residences taken over by the army should be vacated, the armed forces should be strictly confined to barracks and no armaments should be imported by either side. The two provinces merged under the 13th Amendment and subsequently de-merged should be re-merged.

Finally, a referendum should be held amongst the Tamils who left the country after 1983, and those Tamils still living in the island, under international supervision, to find out whether they accept the proposals and would like to return to the island.

If this is not possible, then action should be taken, knowing that the Sinhalese do not want to live in one country, to enable the Tamils to revert to their separate country.

As we all know there was some agitation in Tamil Nadu of India about the situation in Sri Lanka and the plight of Tamils. The DMK, an ally of the current coalition government in power, threatened to withdraw its members. If that had happened, the Indian government would have fallen. The Prime Minister of India expressed his concern.

President Rajapakse of Sri Lanka sent his sibling and Defence Secretary Basil to meet the Indian Prime Minister. According to the press, he went to India with some officials and several documents. This is like the dog asking the cat who was having mice under his control as to how the mice are and the cat telling the dog "Oh they are very well and I can assure you that they are being looked after!'. The Indian politicians accepted those statements and the Prime Minister sent his Defence Minister Pranab Mukerjee to meet the Chief Minister (CM) of Tamil Nadu and pacify him. A statement that the Minister of Defence made to the CM is interesting. He said "The Prime Minister and I have repeatedly told Sri Lanka that the ethnic crisis can be solved only politically," and that he cannot order a cease-fire. Please note the word 'repeatedly,' which proves my point mentioned earlier, that everyone talks but there is no action.

The CM, who had shown videos and CDs of the suffering of the IDPs in Sri Lanka at the meetings held and attended by unprecedented crowds in Tamil Nadu, accepted the answer meekly. Now there will be no resignations. Surely, politicians should know politicians. They do not come from near Arichandran's (man who never told a lie ) house. They have their own schemes.

Karunanithi, C.M. of Tamil Nadu, has proved his point to the Prime Minister. The P.M thinks he has done his part. The only concession that they got was Sri Lanka's agreement for India to send medical help to the IDPs, that is if such help reaches the IDPs and is not taken by the army.
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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