Future of Tamil Politics in Sri Lanka

By Udara Soysa

(May 18, Atlanta, Sri Lanka Guardian) The civil war in Sri Lanka is coming to a decisive conclusion. Irrespective of the desires of the pro-LTTE Tamil Diaspora, the LTTE and its cohorts will cease to be key power players in Sri Lankan politics for the next five years (unless the Sri Lankan administration and authorities make colossal military blunders and give rebirth blessings to LTTE militants in the North-East jungles). In post-LTTE Sri Lanka, what then will decide the future of Tamil political development? Now as the LTTE is eradicated from the Sri Lankan political scene, who would set the path for Tamil politics and lead the Tamil people? These are some fascinating questions.

The future of the Tamil political process is undeniably in the hands of Tamils living inside and outside Sri Lanka. Tamils living inside and outside Sri Lanka must come out of their ‘self pity’ mentalities to unite themselves to challenge the government with a constructive and pragmatic political solution for the grievance of Tamils. For decades, the LTTE’s hardliner stance on the ethnic conflict precluded the possibilities of democratic Tamil leaders coming to a realistic approach to resolving the “Tamil problem”. This can be noticeably exemplified when one glances at the fate of Tamil moderates at the hands of the LTTE during the last twenty years. The callous Tiger assassins exterminated political moderates such as Mr and Mrs Yogesharan, Thiruchelvan and Thagathurai in cold blood. The demise of these grand experienced moderates is no doubt the cause of the immense absence of any Tamil leadership to bargain with majority Sinhalese governments for a political solution. However, despite shortcomings, Tamil leaders inside and outside Sri Lanka must unite and strive to unite on a pragmatic platform on the ethnic question, which is acceptable to all communities in Sri Lanka(Tamils, Sinhalese, Muslims, Burgers, etc).

"The Tamil leadership must have strong faith in non-violent protests and political action. Rather than chewing the wounds of Sinhalese attacks on Thanthai Chelva’s “non-violent” Satyagraha protests and anti-Tamil riots in the 70’s and 80’s, the Tamil leadership must develop an optimistic outlook on the Sri Lankan political process and the power of justice in the universe"

Although more easy to be said than done, this task probably will require several changes of approach.

1) Unite

Tamil Tigers had been a uniting force among many in the Diaspora. However, due to the viciousness and authoritarianism of Tigers, this unity of Tamils in the Diaspora was used for negative purposes - namely, to perpetuate the existence of Tiger Terrorism in Sri Lanka and eliminate any opposing moderate voices. However, it will be very important for Tamils inside Sri lanka and within the Diaspora to unite under a non-Tiger banner in order to find a solution for Tamil grievances in Sri Lanka.

2) Distance

The Tamils inside and outside Sri Lanka must distance themselves from the Tamil Tiger brand name. Both internationally and locally, the Tamil Tiger identity has a great stigma attached. As long as any Tamil group is attached to the Tamil Tigers, the international community will not recognize them as legitimate entities. Most significantly, pro-Tiger groups will have larger problems being accepted by various communities living in Sri Lanka.

3) Pragmatism

The Tamil leadership must be pragmatic. If the Tamil leadership is fixed on concepts such as unitary, united or federalism, it is unfeasible for the Tamil leadership to be seen as having a pragmatic approach. Rather than being fixed to abstract concepts of political science, the Tamil leadership must explore all possibilities that can bring short term and long-term political devolution for Tamils.

4) Reconcile

The Tamil leadership must reconcile with the Muslim and Sinhalese communities. During the civil rights campaign in the United States during the 60’s, it was an essential breakthrough when African Americans won the support of majority White Americans . Without winning the support of moderates in the Sinhalese and Muslim communities, it will be a mammoth task for Tamils to attain political devolution Sri Lanka.

5) Internationalism

If utilized correctly, the Tamil Diaspora can become one of the most dominant forces in global lobbying. Due to the pro-LTTE leanings of the Tamil Diaspora, most governments in the world currently lack a favorable outlook on it. However, if the Tamil Diaspora can introduce new young moderates who can build themselves as non-violent leaders who understand the global realities, the Tamil Diaspora could become a major force that could facilitate a political solution in Sri Lanka.

6) Faith

The Tamil leadership must have strong faith in non-violent protests and political action. Rather than chewing the wounds of Sinhalese attacks on Thanthai Chelva’s “non-violent” Satyagraha protests and anti-Tamil riots in the 70’s and 80’s, the Tamil leadership must develop an optimistic outlook on the Sri Lankan political process and the power of justice in the universe.

In conclusion, Tamils should not view the downfall of the LTTE as a tragedy. The LTTE, viewed as a freedom force during its inception, became a self destructive and self-deluded band of terrorists who precluded the growth of Tamil politics in Sri Lanka. The Tamils must transform the death of the LTTE into a new dawn for their political rights in Sri Lanka. The choice is now with any emerging Tamil leadership. Can the Tamil leadership take its course to a constructive path or will it allow the old wounds to take over the common rationality and lead the future Tamil generations to further destruction? Only time will tell.

Udara Soysa is a graduate from Oglethorpe University, Atlanta with specialization in Politics and International Relations. He is also an experienced journalist and a published author who is well-travelled in NorthEast Sri Lanka.
-Sri Lanka Guardian
Sie.Kathieravealu said...

Probably the best concept for a political solution with meaningful and just power sharing arrangement.
An earnest APPEAL to all those who strive for sustainable peace in Sri Lanka
“The lack of engagement and communication, in turn adds to the sense of estrangement. This is not in the interests of either side, particularly the Sri Lankan people who yearn for peace, a just solution to the ethnic conflict and the hope of prosperity at least for their children.” – Jehan Perera, Executive Director of the National Peace Council of Sri Lanka.
With the above end in view please spare a part of your valuable time to ABSORB the meaning of the views submitted below.
Too much of time has been wasted in discussing the origins of the problems and the paths taken by various real patriotic and peace-loving persons to solve the problems in the ways they sincerely believed as the best. The problems have grown and evolved and had been twisted by many to suit their way of thinking.
So, it is high-time we start to RETHINK in terms of a solution that would address the ASPIRATIONS ALL THE PEOPLE in the country, not just the aspirations of the Tamils, in a just and meaningful way rather than continue to criticize other people for their “faults”.
Failures are the pillars of success. We have learned a lot of things through experience. With the experiences gained we will have to work for a change of heart not just a change of mind of all the people in the country.
“People who value democracy, equality and equity, needs to pressure the Sri Lankan state to take immediate action towards a meaningful and just power sharing arrangement. That is the only way to ensure security and the dignity of the peoples of Sri Lanka.
If peaceful coexistence through power sharing is not achievable, the only other solution that would be available will be secession” – Mr. Lionel Bopage, former Secretary of the JVP.
There is a vast difference between the policy and thinking of the ORIGINAL JVP to which Mr.Lionel Bopage belongs and the policy of the present JVP.
A new concept that moves towards a meaningful and just power-sharing arrangement based on true democracy – a large number of people participating in the governance of the country based on equality, equity – is a great deviation from the usual thinking of the meaning of the word “sharing of power” is given below for the perusal and comments of concerned people.
Many, who call themselves as ‘moderates’ and advocating a “Unitary State” are not willing to consider this NEW concept of the phrase “sharing of power” that gives a certain degree of ‘power’ with ‘responsibility’ to as many as possible including the poor and voiceless silent majority in the country and not excluding the so-called “minorities” and still maintain the “character” of a “Unitary State”
Now, one word, for those who are actually and sincerely interested in fostering a unitary-state by supporting “devolution” as a means to achieve sustainable peace, please avoid thinking in terms of “devolution” and instead please try to think in terms of “sharing of powers”, rights, duties and responsibilities that cannot be taken back at any time by any government or individual by any method.
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 of powers” in such a way that no single person or single set of people’s representatives be “superior” to another.
This system would help to eradicate injustice, discrimination, bribery and corruption - the four pillars of an evil society – and help to establish the “Rule of Law” and “Rule by ALL” for sustainable peace, tranquility and prosperity and a pleasant harmonious living with dignity and respect for all the inhabitants in the country. Everyone must have “equal” powers, rights, duties and responsibilities and most importantly everyone should be deemed “equal” and treated “equally” before the law not only on paper but also practically – be it the Head of State, The Chief Justice or the voiceless poor of the poorest in the country.
Since all political and other powers flow from the sovereignty of the people, it is proposed herein that these powers be not given to any ONE set of representatives but distributed among different sets of people’s representatives (groups) elected on different area basis (village and villages grouped) to perform the different, defined and distinct functions of one and the same institution - the Parliament – like the organs of our body – heart, lungs, kidneys, eyes, nose, ear etc. – performing different and distinct functions to enable us to sustain normal life.
A detailed version of the concept, which is quite long is available for discussion by interested individuals with an aim to change the hearts not just a change of mind of the citizens of this country who aim to preserve a UNITARY form of Government with every section of people from every part of the country PRACTICALLY PARTICIPATING in the GOVERNANCE OF THE COUNTRY in a meaningful way. In a way it may be termed “participatory democracy”. In this system the COUNTRY IS NOT DIVIDED but the “powers of governance’ of the Parliament is separated and administered COLLECTIVELY by different sets of peoples representatives.
The system suggested is neither a federal state for which “Thanthai Chelva” worked hard through non-violent means for nearly thirty years nor the “Two State Solution” for which the LTTE is fighting through violent means for more than thirty years. It is a combination of both and is between both but still a “unitary” state.
The solution advocated can be compared to the policy of the EPDP - a partner in the present government - “self-governance at Regional Level and collective governance at the National Level”. Basically there are some differences between the suggestions above and that of the EPDP. First, the above suggestions are for sharing of power horizontally and EPDP’s suggestions are for sharing power vertically. Second, EPDP's suggestions are for addressing the aspirations of the Tamils while the above suggestions are for addressing the aspirations of the PEOPLE, not just that of the Tamils alone. A careful perusal of the above suggestions in FULL will enlighten the need for such an approach.
Give and Take is the best policy. Rule or control your “self” and allow everyone to rule themselves.
IF THERE IS A SINCERE WILL to treat all inhabitants of the county with dignity and as respectful citizens of this country, enjoying equal rights in all respects, then THE ABOVE IS A WAY
The above suggestions are by a voiceless member of the silent majority who wants all voice to be heard.

Anonymous said...

Dear sir,

All above Tamils want to beleive Singhala government ready to accept Tamils.

Srilanka to be united and develop if
1. Proclaim Srilanka as Secular country.
no state religion or state language.
2. Create a State of Tamil Eelam joining North and East province as Tamil Nadu of India.
3. Recruit more Tamils in Police, Army and government officials.
4.change the name of Srilanka to a common Tamil singhala name.
5.Give regional autonomy to Tamil province , not to all province.

if these all happen Tamils n Singhala will be united and country will go in developing path.
If not Tamils demand for Tamil Eelam country will go on and on. Its not the matter of LTTE or no LTTE. its the matter of Tamils and their homeland. I dont think so it will happen. as long as it happen Tamils will go close to LTTE.

Anonymous said...

Make Srilanka Secular country.
Stop branding Srilanka as budhist sinhala country.
Form linguistic states inside Srilanka for Tamil and singhala speaking areas.
Give regional autonomy to Tamil Eelam. recruit more tamils in Army and police service.
until all this happen we Tamils term us as LTTE.
if it happen we ready to work unite with singhala for prosperous country.
i dont think so it will happen untill hardline politician in singhala.