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The challenge from Tamil Diaspora

By K. Godage

(March 02, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The article in the "Sunday Island’ on the 28th of Feb under the caption "the US will not destabilize Sri Lanka", contains the following statement:"Blake started his operations on behalf of the LTTE whilst he was still here; one cannot forget how he sought to rescue the LTTE hierarchy with the use of the America’s Far East Command", had Blake who has been described as a fake rescued Prabhakaran and his cohorts Prabhakaran would today have been either presiding over or at least addressing the Global Tamil Forum being presently in London via Satellite and what a boost that would have given the Tamil Diaspora which is seeking yet to establish Eelam with the help of the West, which has already created East Timor and Kosovo and made a valiant effort to invoke the UN Resolution "Right to Protect" and stop the war and save Prabhakaran and the LTTE from decimation and create a separate state in this country. Valliant efforts were made by the Tamil Diaspora both at Geneva and New York to stop the war and put us on the rack but thanks to the efforts of Ambassadors Dayan Jayathileka and Siri Palihakkara we were able with the support of China and Russia to keep them at bay.

The ground war may be over in this country but we do have another huge war on our hands. The Tamil Diaspora who number over a million overseas, will continue their effort to establish Eelam. They will campaign on many fronts, the Diplomatic, political and economic fronts. Their propaganda campaign is also intense and they continue to retain lobbyists in a number of western countries paying huge sums of money which the Diaspora yet continues to collect (in the US they had retained a former Attorney General paying US Dollars 30,000/- per month!). They have infiltrated the three main political parties in Britain, the photos of the British PM and that man Miliband at the Global Tamil Forum tell their own story. It would be recalled that the British House of Commons held no less than five meetings to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka, this was quite unprecedented. Would they have dared to meet even once to discuss the problems of the Muslims in Gujarat or the situation in Kashmir? Or for that matter the alleged discrimination of Dalits in India, for after all they piously claim that their concern is human rights. The Dalits of course have no Diaspora or votes that may decide marginal seats in the forthcoming British elections that would most definitely see the end of Brown, Miliband and their cronies. Sri Lanka is an easy target to bully wit impunity. The Diaspora has infiltrated legislatures of a number of western countries including the EU Parliament. They are indeed a formidable force today and should not be under rated or under estimated. As to whether the government is having a strategy to counter them is another matter, whilst that is doubtful, even the Missions in these countries do not have professional manpower or the resources to counter the Diaspora at present. The situation is made worse by the attitude of the government towards the countries of the West, instead of engaging them we have responded with anger and this has not helped. We need to get our act together, the President himself should take charge of Defence and Foreign Affairs and have a an appointed MP, who has no constituency obligations, as ‘Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs’ attached to the President’s office to do the leg work. I would even suggest that the President have a permanent Cabinet Sub Committee with the Foreign Ministry serving as its Secretariate, to coordinate our Foreign Relations. We also need to set up a Foreign Relations advisory group of eminent persons to advice the government on policy. We should also have a Foreign Service Act to protect and professionalize the Foreign Service in the interest of the country.

As for the Diaspora, the principle allegation which they make and which strikes a responsive chord in the West is that there is DISCRIMINATION, discrimination against the Tamil minority in this country. In this regard let us remember that Human Rights are the rights which human beings possess with no barrier of race, language, caste, creed, religion, sex or any other barrier; let us here recall the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights". The allegation of the Tamil Diaspora is that the Tamil community which according to them number 20% (12.5 plus 7.5) of the population, have been discriminated against, that employment opportunities in the state sector are almost unavailable, admission to Universities is not based on merit but based on a system which discriminates against students from Tamil districts, further that government is so centralized and that political power is denied to them Even Attorney Gomin Dayasiri, a respected Sri Lanka nationalist, has stated in a recent article listing Tamil grievances, that Language, Security, Land and Water, HSZs, Welfare of children, Development, Re settlement and rehabilitation, Cultural advancement, Employment opportunities on merit, Speedy social progress in areas which were under terrorist control, should be addressed on an urgent basis. We must implement the provision in the Constitution under which Tamil is also an official language of the country, it must be a reality on the ground. That there is discrimination against the Tamil minority is the rallying cry of the million Tamils abroad. The Second World War was the result of Nazi discrimination against minorities; the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Human Rights Conventions and the Protocols that followed were directly related to the cause of the war. There is today, particularly in the West, an enormous conscientiousness and an antipathy against racial discrimination. Here lies the root of the problem. If we are to take the wind out of the sails of the Tamil Diaspora, we must address these issues with sincerity, we must be able to take the moral high ground. Those Sinhalese hardliners do not understand how this charge of discrimination has impacted on the country not merely on its image but the economic fall out has been huge. Discrimination is a violation of Human Rights and even if we plead that there is no such discrimination the mere perception that there is indeed discrimination in practice is adequate to put us on the rack by those powerful countries that are not well disposed towards us. The GSP plus issue is one such instrument being used against this country because of this perception, though the reasons being given are not direct. Let us not give them the excuses they seek to do us harm.

The government and the other political parties have not categorically stated that this allegation of discrimination is the principal issue that they would address if elected to power. The Sri Lanka National Congress of Minister Moragoda in its "Agenda to influence the government" has called for the reintroduction of the Equal Opportunities Bill, which was tabled in Parliament during CBK’s Presidency but subsequently withdrawn. The SLNC statement should constitute a pledge that if they are members of the next government this piece of legislation would have their highest priority. Our political parties must accept the fact that justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done; They must pledge that they stand against injustice in all its forms. The government must launch a major campaign throughout the country, at all levels, to explain the country’s international obligations and the possible consequences of their violations. We must also show to the world that the Rule of Law and due process obtains in this country, and as stated earlier, we need to be able to take the moral high ground in the interest of our country. Let us strive to project an image of our country as a true democracy where the people have right to information, where there is transparency and accountability in government, where the rule of law and due process prevails, and a country which stands for true peace, justice and fairplay.

( The writer can be reached at godagek@yahoo.com)

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