PhD in Democracy - May I ask you to Please Stand Up?

| by Gaja Lakshmi Paramasivam

(November 30, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) I write in response to the article ‘Democracy High-jacked: Neo-Colonialism on the March’ by J. Jayasundera, published in Sri Lanka Guardian.

The author says ‘More and more people are revolting against being marginalised in terms of job opportunities, etc., but hardly ever are people mindful of the real culprit, which is the predatory world economic system. Democracy is the cry falsely implying that it means equality, fair play and morality. What is needed is Genuine Democracy and Human Rights. For that the politicians must be made to be morally accountable and that has to be enforced by the leaders of moral authority, especially the religious leaders and civil society.’

As per my experiences here in Australia which enjoys higher status than Sri Lanka as a practitioner of Democracy (rightly so) majority desire Democracy. They do not work for Democracy. As I was saying recently to a Tamil preparing for a job ‘The job will not come to you because you have a degree certificate. You need to make your own job.’ To me 9/11 and the Sri Lankan civil war happened due to lack of commitment to practicing Democracy. The former happened due to ‘saying the right answer’ to get Democratic status. The latter happened due to receiving monies thus earned by the West by merely showing majority votes and without even ‘saying the right answer’ once the position was occupied.

Australian Public Service organizations are claiming to move towards ‘Business Unit’ approach. This naturally promotes measuring through money rather than hierarchical status. The greatest difficulty is experienced by academics who are used to ‘special status’ in society due to their so called Higher Education. Once they get their ‘certificates’ they are so attached to it, that they stagnate at that level. I discovered this through my simple email system, which many academics tried to block by asking ME to stop sending emails. I discovered also that Truth always has the solution/opportunity to every problem. In the case of academics – either their systems did not facilitate blocking sender or they did not know how to use such a facility. If they had power of democracy – they would have helped themselves through their Budget Proposals (which had been democratized by me at the University of NSW Medical Faculty) to buy one.

It started with my democratic ‘feedback’ to communications and actions from Central Administrators of the University of NSW under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor. By the time I joined the University, I had earned a reputation for democratizing Public Service Resource Management systems. The mistake I made was to ‘expect’ that the University would be better than the Australian Public Service. It was worse! It was worse also due to my admiration for academics, thinking they were philosophical. Most were NOT. To my mind, they were more difficult because they wanted money (strongest show was during budget time) but they claimed to be academics who did not do money-business. One who seeks money must reduce status for the same level of work as before, if the standards are not to deteriorate.

My belief is that an academic is the parallel of a Guru in the Hindu system. A guru places her/himself in the students until the two are One. Towards this, the guru became the subject through which such sharing happened. The parallel of this in the University system is Research. Which academic has carried out Research in Democracy until s/he is that Democracy? When a true friend of mine who is also a graduate of the University of New South Wales, first heard about my bitter experience at the University - his first reaction was ‘John Niland is an ‘Industrial Relations Expert’. But Professor Niland as per my knowledge did not claim to be democratic. The problem with our Universities is that Academics refuse to accept Administrators with actual experience – as their Equal partners. Like men with higher education certificates looking for brides with higher education certificates, these academics also seek academics with higher education certificates in Administration or continue with their old Administrators/wives who would do their bidding during first half of the relationship and then start dictating them during the second half. UN does it all the time, calling for custodians of higher education certificates to work in Sri Lanka and other third world countries. Local workers pretend to be obedient first and then they start dictating to the UN workers! This is also the case with expatriate Tamils and academics of the University of Jaffna.

The University hierarchy ‘told’ me to stop my emails all of which were due to my experience at the University –i.e. confirming my actual practices. They threatened to sue me. Like with most migrants I did not know whether there were laws against sending emails. I knew that the substance of my emails were lawful and I was in fact criticizing their conduct which to me was not lawful. Unlike most migrants – I was driven by my Truth more than the threat of punishment. To me, receiving at least the lawful benefits (money and status) of my work – would have upheld the fact that I had done my job as per the lawful requirements of my position. To be obedient to my supervisors – despite my disagreement with what they wanted me to do – would have been unlawful. This I did not know consciously when I refused to blindly obey. But now that I have cleared myself of false expectations and am able to identify with the Truth more quickly than previously, I know/believe that they were the ones acting unlawfully.

Even recently, a few academics – who actively sponsor Sri Lankan academics – asked me to stop my emails to them. I declined and asked them to take legal action against me. They are yet to do so. In the process, I learnt from one of the nicer ones that his system did not have

‘block sender’ facility. But he could have pressed the delete button himself – as per ‘DIY’ – Do It Yourself method. But he did not. Likewise, other academics. One migrant academic from Sri Lanka, of Sinhalese origin, said to me ‘he would list the names of those to whom I should send emails!!!!’. That migrant spoke against the Government of Sri Lanka – claiming they were undemocratic and acted in breach of Human Rights!!!!! Democracy is a Human Right of every member of minority who is not believed by a member of majority.

The way to change over to Democracy – without losing the value of our work in the past is to match theory with experience. Each one of us needs to have 50% theory and 50% experience to be democratic, when we are following a regulated path. Democracy has allowed those from lower positions to express themselves and also to ‘show and tell’ as per their work/experience. But often, young ones ‘tell’ equally as their seniors and hence the claim. This is what happened with the LTTE also. Had the LTTE shown only its practice of Democratic Governance and not matched eye for eye and tooth for tooth – the unlawful and undemocratic practices of the Government, it would have been supported by true practitioners of democracy. Even one such practitioner would have been enough for LTTE to have the moral authority to rebel against the Government.

The problem often with migration is that the migrant is considered naturally to be of a lower status than the citizen of the country that the migrant is migrating to, until seen or known otherwise. Immigration is big business these days. Managed cleverly, Immigration could be profitable money business. When migrants accept without protest – lesser pay than their real entitlements – at that place at that time – they contribute to a profitable migration business. This is ok – so long as they do not claim that that is democracy. What usually happens through the autocratic systems is – migrants accept meekly and then they expect later migrants to give them higher status. Once we migrate – we are of Equal status in the new country except for those with whom we migrated as a group – for example if we migrated as a family or through family sponsorship.

Today I received news-report from the UN about the UN’s Human Rights Chief ‘“I am pleased to see this latest shift in policy, bringing in individual assessments of asylum seekers for release into the community,” Ms. Pillay said. “I welcome these steps towards a more human approach to asylum-seekers in Australia which can only help to strengthen the tolerance and understanding necessary in a modern multicultural society,” she said.’

The word ‘tolerance’ reveals that Ms Pillay is not a Guru in Democratic Management of Refugees. The Australian Government needs to show its investment in theory of asylum-seekers. The refugee applicants and their families and their community – together need to show Equal experience that would match the practice of that theory. In terms of the Tamil community, we have demonstrated such Equal value from our side. Hence there is no need for tolerance. If we do not show such value – we need to be sent back or risk the consequences of mere tolerance to get a good name for Australia and the proponent which in this instance is the UN. In terms of the law, we have earned migration to any UN member country which has signed the relevant convention. In terms of Truth – we have earned migration to any country where the community we feel a part of – feels a part of that nation – in this instance Australia. Given that I feel Australian – every refugee who feels Tamil and/or Sri Lankan is entitled to come here as an Equal to those who are already here – until known otherwise through their own conduct. It is similar to us being assessed as per our surnames until known otherwise.

When we share our status with others in a group – we are seen to be a part of that group. When our sharing is more than the sharing of another – and yet we treat that person as an Equal and/or as a part of us – we lose consciousness of ‘I’ and ‘Mine’ and therefore the ‘form’ of our benefits – as in PhD. This helps us travel to the root – which caused the problems – pain and losses. At that root – those who has share benefits and opportunities find the higher bliss of Oneness through such sharing which is called Love and Truth. If one is sharing opportunities and the other problems and the former would identify with the solution at the root for the latter if the former had had previous experience. If this is our first time having the experience – we would recognize the opportunity to derive the solution once WE own the problem.

Truth is the Universal Power and has all the solutions for all of us who live in Truth. Realizing this is the ultimate goal of all systems – including autocracy and democracy. Once we become part of the environment – we naturally lose consciousness of the system because no system is of greater value than its parents.

Falsehood and Statehood

( November 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Our sincere support for the just struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable rights, including the right to statehood, the President Rajapakse said recently.

Why this principle cannot be applied to the Tamils? Are the Tamils undesirables, therefore not entitled to the very same rights? Judgements cannot be made whilst stampeding the very same inalienable rights principle at home.Will now Israel recognise the inalienable rights of statehood of the Tamils? The President speaks for the oil and oil money and not with the heart of sincere feeling.

Independent Palestinian state, Lanka’s wish - President

“On this solemn occasion to commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I wish to reaffirm, on behalf of my government and the people of Sri Lanka, our sincere support for the just struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve their inalienable rights, including the right to statehood,” states President Mahinda Rajapaksa in a message to mark International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People which falls today.

The message adds: “Peace ensures security and that fundamental factor underscores the urgency of resolving the Middle-East conflict. This long standing unresolved conflict is a challenge to the values and aspirations of humanity.

“Having personally associated myself with the cause of Palestine for nearly forty years, I reiterate that the Palestinians have been denied their basic human rights for far too long and renew the consistent call of my government for the realization of a two-state solution.

“This year’s International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People comes at a fundamentally changed time with noteworthy developments.

“The Palestinian Authority leadership has submitted an application for admission of the State of Palestine to full membership in the United Nations. Palestine has been successfully completing its state-building programme, which has been widely endorsed by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the United Nations and others, as well as by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in Brussels in June, and in New York in September. There is emerging internal reconciliation between the relevant local political stakeholders.

“Therefore now is the time for collective resolve and action, to usher in an independent and viable Palestine State within secure borders, in peace and security. As I said in my address to the Sixty-Sixth United Nations General Assembly, it is a matter of profound disappointment that this has not yet happened.

We have a window of opportunity now and must make best use of it before it is too late.

It is time for decisive action rather than more desultory discussion. This will be in the interest of the security and the wellbeing of the entire region.

“It is the earnest hope and wish of Sri Lanka, to see the dawn of a Palestinian State flourishing in peace, harmony and prosperity in the near future,” the message adds.

Questions for the Sri Lanka Ambassador of your country

| by Brian Senewiratne

( November 30, Brisbane - Australia, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia, ex-Admiral Thissara Samarasinghe, is visiting Brisbane on 1 December 2011. I will, of course, not be invited to attend, and even if I am, I will certainly not be ‘allowed’ to ask the necessary questions by the more ‘patriotic’ members of my ethnic group, the Sinhalese, whose prime responsibility is to see that awkward questions are not asked from the Rajapaksa junta, and it’s ex-military (and others) who have a case to answer, now being posted as ‘Ambassadors’. That is the ‘duty’ of a patriot’ – to stand close to the Sri Lankan flag, however soaked it is in the blood of innocent Tamils.

Take us to New Zealand ... Sri Lankan asylum seekers wave signs after Indonesian authorities intercepted their boat near Bintan Island.Image courtesy:  Sydney Morning Herald
As such, I have encouraged non-Sri Lankans, or at least non-Tamils, to ask the necessary questions. Since many of them have no idea what to ask, I have formulated some questions.

Given the possibility of the same thing happening in your country, I thought that to put these questions on the net would be helpful.

Time is the critical factor and to ramble on will not be allowed. Here are my suggested questions.

“Ambassador (High Commissioner),

I draw your attention to 6 Reports, all of them released this year, all, but one, from internationally credible groups. The exception is the Report tabled in the Sri Lankan parliament on 21 No 2011 by the elected representatives of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.

I will take up these Reports and our concerns, but before I do so, can I ask you three questions.

If the war is over and the Tamil people have been ‘rehabilitated’ and are thrilled at being freed from ‘the terrorists’, why does your government still refuse to allow internationally credible groups such a Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group free access to the Tamil areas?. What is there for your Government to hide?

During the war there were 175,000 members of the Armed Forces. After the war was over, this has increased to 230,000. Why increase the Armed Forces after the ‘enemy’ has been crushed? Who is the ‘enemy’

The Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) continues (in fact has been even expanded) after the ‘terrorists’ were crushed. May I ask why the PTA continues?

Let me turn to the disturbing Reports I have referred to:-

The UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka released 31 March 2011.

It repeatedly accuses the Sri Lankan government of lying. Let me quote: “The Panel’s determination of credible allegations reveals a very different version of the final stages of the war than that maintained to this day by the Government of Sri Lanka.” Is this not a serious indictment of your Government’s credibility?

It recommends an international independent inquiry. The Secretary General, “should immediately proceed to establish an independent international mechanism whose mandate should be to collect and safeguard for future use, information provided to it…”.

Is your Government prepared to do this, or is it your position that your Government has already set up its own Commission, the “Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC)?

If it is, are you aware of the response of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch (HRW) and International Crisis Group, when invited to appear before the Commission? Let me quote from a joint letter sent to your Govt. by Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, HRW, “There is little to be gained by appearing before such a fundamentally flawed commission. Accountability for war crimes in Sri Lanka demands an independent international investigation. Thousands of civilians were killed in the last few months of the war as a result of gross violations of international law by both the government and the LTTE forces. The Commission is nothing more than a cynical attempt by Sri Lanka to avoid serious inquiry that would bring genuine accountability”.

Is it your position that all these internationally credible groups, one a Nobel Prize winner, are wrong and that your Government is right? Do you not agree that this will be hard to sell however expensive the PR company hired by your government? The problem is not with the PR company but with the product it has to sell – to deny the serious crimes against humanity committed by your Government troops and those in charge, including your President and his brother, the Defense Secretary?

There are many more questions that can be raised arising from this 200 page Report which is one of the most damning documents ever published on your country. However, because of the constraints of time, I will move on.

2. The International Crisis Group (ICG), “Sri Lanka: Post-War Progress Report” of 15 Sept 2011.

It states: “There are strong grounds to question the government’s claim of progress on crucial post-war issues such as the state of emergency and repressive anti-terrorism laws, militarisation and insecurity, resettlement of internally displaced persons (IDP), reintegration of alleged ex-combatants and a political settlement on devolution and minority rights”

Is it your position that the ICG does not know what it is talking about, or do you claim that the ICG are a bunch of Tamil Tigers? If so, do you seriously expect that this will be believed?

3. Let me turn to the Amnesty International Report “When will they get Justice?” September 2011

I will take up just two points in this extensive 67 page Report.

The Report is subtitled, “Failures of Sri Lanka’s Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC”) and deals with the deeply flawed LLRC) and Sri Lanka’s abysmal track record of Commissions of Inquiry.

Let me quote, . “….in the face of domestic and international pressure, including from such allies as India, the Sri Lankan government has still refused to make a credible effort to seek accountability. Instead, as it has done often in the past two decades, the Sri Lankan government has established an ad hoc special commission, ostensibly to investigate and address wrongdoings, but in fact to deflect international pressure and silence internal critics”.

2, It goes on to draw attention to your country’s abysmal track record:, “Amnesty International urges the international community not to be deceived that the LLRC – the latest of a long line of failed domestic mechanisms in Sri Lanka – will deliver justice, truth and reparations”.

It calls for the UN to immediately establish an independent, international investigation and goes on to state why this is needed.

Is it your position that AI, a Nobel Prize winning organisation, has got it all wrong? If so, do you seriously expect this to be believed?

4. I will move on to yet another Amnesty International Report, “Sri Lanka: Briefing to Committee Against Torture. Amnesty International of October 2011

This was submitted to the “Convention against Torture, other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” in October 2011.

It documents the ongoing torture by Sri Lankan Government bodies (Police, and paramilitary groups working with the Government), the fabrication of evidence by the Police, and the complete failure of the Judicial system to address these.

Let me quote,: “Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the criminal justice system is the overwhelmingly large number of charges which are fabricated by the police on a daily basis”.

Ambassador, is this not a damnation of your criminal justice system?

5. I will turn to the UK Channel 4 News video.

This was a ground-breaking video that has established the war crimes committed by both sides, especially the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, in the closing stages of the war.

Your Government continues to claim that this was a fake. However, it was shown at a special screening in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) meeting in June 2011. Is it your position that this internationally credible body (UNHRC) was airing a faked document? Do you expect that to be believed?

Are you aware of the internationally accepted ‘Command Responsibility’, that all those all the way to the top, be they military leaders or civilians (such as your President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, and his brother, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the Secretary of Defence,. and some of these military men including yourself, could be held responsible?

Are you aware that one of your former colleagues Major General Jagath Dias, Sri Lanka’s Deputy Ambassador to Germany, Switzerland and the Vatican, has had his diplomatic immunity withdrawn and sent back to your country?

Are you concerned that Channel 4 News is about to release another video, as more evidence of war crimes appears? Will it be your position that this too is fake? Your Government cannot seriously expect the world to believe its claim.

6. Finally, I will take up the most serious Report, the Situation Report. North and East (of Sri Lanka) tabled in the Sri Lankan Parliament on 21 October 2011 by the Tamil National Alliance

Ambassador, this 29 page Report, is the most comprehensive document that sets out the current (post-war) situation on the ground in the Tamil areas. It exposes what your Government is struggling to conceal by excluding international observers and human rights groups from the North and East. It is one of the most disturbing Reports on the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, and explodes the myth propagated by your Government that the Tamil people have been ‘liberated’ from the ‘clutches of terrorists’ and have now been ‘rehabilitated’.

What have you to say about this Report? Is it your position that the elected representatives of the Tamil people in the North and East of your country are lying? If so, why do you not allow Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and International Crisis Group, free access to the Tamil areas so that they can confirm or refute what has been tabled in your parliament by your parliamentarians? Is it the fear that these groups will confirm, and even document a worse situation that what has been tabled?

Accuracy / credibility.

I hope that the responses given by you are correct, unlike those of your Government in Colombo which are patently incorrect, and even absurd. I remind you again that the Report of the UN Secretary General’s Panel of Experts has repeatedly pointed this out. I also draw your attention again to the Report of the International Crisis Group, “Sri Lanka: Post-War Progress Report”, which has refuted a number of claims made by your Government, and has convincingly shown that many, if not all, of them are completely false.

Your Government seems to be facing a range of crises – an unresolved ethnic crisis (yes, Ambassador, it is unresolved and even aggravated), a crisis of democracy and free speech, a crisis of law and order, a crisis of corruption now described as ‘mega-corruption’ going all the way to the top, a crisis in transparency, and above all, a crisis of deception and blatant dishonesty. While truth is the first casualty of war, it should not be in peacetime which your Government claims is the situation now in your country.

You might like to respond to these questions in writing so that I can out them on the net in the public domain so that the world will know the position of your Government which calls itself the “Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”. ‘Democratic’ it certainly is not, ‘Socialist’ it is not, and has never been. From all the Repots coming out to date (25.11.2011), it would seem more like a Totalitarian State, with the Tamil areas in the North and East under permanent military/police control and repression”.

Thank you for the interview. More will follow because these questions will not go away – they never do.”.

Two in One: conflict and resolution

International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People

On the 64th Anniversary of UN Resolution 181 Lebanon’s Palestinians Continue Their Descent

| by Franklin Lamb

(November 30, Tripoli- Libya, Sri Lanka Guardian) Every year on November 29, approximately a quarter million Palestinian refugees who were forced into Lebanon, along with those in more than 130 countries where they have sought refuge following their ethnic cleansing from their land, commemorate the infamous United Nations Resolution 181.

The Palestinians’ drive for statehood will be a key issue at an upcoming U.N. meeting. | AP Photo
Between Nov. 29, 1947, and Jan. 1, 1949, Zionist terrorists depopulated and destroyed more than 530 Palestinian villages and towns, killing more than 13,000 Palestinians and expelling 750,000, approximately half the population.

UN General Assembly resolution 181, adopted on November 29, 1947, purported to divide Palestine between the indigenous inhabitants and European colonists who arrived seeking to occupy and exploit Palestine and create an exclusive Jewish homeland.

Under the UN plan, European Jews were granted more than fifty six per cent of historical Palestine while the native Palestinians, who owned ninety three per cent of the territory, were offered less than forty four percent of their own land.

The partition vote was based on a UN Special Committee (UNSCOP) recommendation to divide the country into three parts: a Palestinian state with a population of 735,000, of which 725,000 were Palestinians and 10,000 Jews; a new Jewish state comprised of 499,000 Jews and 407,000 Palestinians, creating a new state with roughly less than sixty per cent Jewish majority.

Zionist leaders have never concealed their intentions especially when holding political gatherings. In addressing the Central Committee of the Histadrut (the Eretz Israel Workers Party) days after the UN vote to partition Palestine, David Ben-Gurion expressed apprehension and told the party leadership:

“…the total population of the Jewish State at the time of its establishment will be about one million, including almost 40 per cent non-Jews. Such a [population] composition does not provide a stable basis for a Jewish State. This [demographic] fact must be viewed in all its clarity and acuteness. With such a [population] composition, there cannot even be absolute certainty that control will remain in the hands of the Jewish majority… There can be no stable and strong Jewish state so long as it has a Jewish majority of only 60 per cent.”

Ben Gurion, told Zionist leaders in December of 1947, “I don’t care if half the Jews in Europe have to die so the other half come to Palestine,” and ” Chaim Weizmann would later say: ‘With regard to the Arab question – the British told us that there are several hundred thousand Negroes there but this is a matter of no consequence.’”

To ensure an absolute Jewish majority, the Zionists’ “Transfer [Expulsion] Committee” waged a terror campaign to cleanse their part of the non-Jewish population. The “War [Expulsion] Committee” under the leadership of Ben Gurion, assigned ethnic cleansing language to its military operations, from Hebrew names such as Matateh (broom), Tihur (cleansing), Biur (a Passover quasi-religious expression meaning “to cleanse the leaven”) and Niku (cleaning up).

Following Israel’s unilateral declaration of independence in 1948, it accelerated the land grab strategy to secure an absolute Jewish majority. The Zionists assailed, depopulated, and occupied an additional thirty per cent of the land which had been designated for the future Palestinian state under the UN plan.

Since 1967, Israeli Occupation Forces have demolished more than 24,000 Palestinian homes, while more than 600,000 Jews currently are colonizing the West Bank and Jerusalem. Also since 1967, the Israeli military has detained more than 700,000 Palestinians – 20 per cent of the population – according to statistics released at the First International Conference on the Rights of Palestinian Prisoners and Detainees held in Geneva in March 2011. Approximately 5,700 Palestinians are currently being detained in prisons within Israel, a direct violation of international law. In addition, the siege on Gaza and the Apartheid Wall in the West Bank and Jerusalem have severely restricted or denied Palestinians’ freedom of movement.

Sixty four years since the November 29, 1947 UN Resolution 181, and after twenty years of negotiating with Israel, the international community allows the status quo while Israel encroaches on the remaining twenty two per cent with ever more illegal Jewish only settlements.

Sixty four years later in Lebanon, where 129,000 Palestinian refugees fled during the 1947-48 Nakba, approximately 250,000 remain in Lebanon with approximately 130,000 squeezed into twelve fetid refugee camps. Each new study of Palestine refugees in Lebanon documents a steepening, descending economic, social, and humanitarian slope as this largest and oldest refugee population skids and descends into more degradation. Today in Lebanon, Palestinian refugees continue to live in conditions more inhumane than anywhere on earth including, the six decades of suffering endured by their sisters and brothers, under the Zionist occupation of their own country, Palestine.

Six decades since UN GA Resolution 181, Lebanon continues to forbid, impliedly on penalty of arrest and imprisonment, Palestinian refugees from working in more than 50 jobs and professions. This prohibition is in direct contravention of a large and condemnatory body of international law, specifically, numerous UN Resolutions, multilateral agreements, international customary law and even the Lebanese Constitution, as well as the UN Declaration of Universal Rights, which some of Lebanon’s leaders helped draft in 1949,

Since 2001, the government of Lebanon has also outlawed Palestinian refugees who lost their homes to Zionist colonialists, from purchasing even a sliver of property for a one room shack or tent home, even though most Palestinians might be willing to agree that their ownership of Lebanese real estate would vest only until such time as they are able to return to Palestine.

For this failure to uphold the law, Lebanon increasingly faces the prospects of international sanctions as well as civil unrest. What Palestinian refugees in Lebanon seek and have the right to enjoy, just as every refugee in any country, is to live in dignity, to be able to apply for a job and to care of their families. Living in dignity includes the right to live outside the teeming, squalid camps and to purchase better housing if they are able.

An additional troubling violation of the rights of Palestinians in Lebanon is the fact that increasingly, the Lebanese Armed Forces are sealing off the Palestinian refugee camps which increase the perception and reality of illegal governmental harassment and yet more pressure on the everyday lives of these unwanted guests.

Today, 64 years after UNGA Resolution 181, virtually every political party and every religious authority in Lebanon boldly and regularly pays insincere lip service to the “sacred cause of Palestine”, as “the bloodstream issue for every Arab and every Muslim.” Each avers that in Lebanon “our brothers must live in dignity until they are able to return to Palestine” and that “for us Lebanese, as their hosts, to refuse them fewer human rights than even their Zionist oppressors allow them violates our religious duty for which certainly Allah (Christians typically insert “Jesus” or “God Almighty”) will justly condemn us to Hell on judgment day”.

Lebanese political parties and movements that have truly sacrificed for Palestine and seek to liberate it and Lebanese political parties whose militias have massacred Palestinian civilians, women, children and the elderly in refugee camps, have a special obligation to act now and give meaning to their words.

And most certainly those Lebanese politicians whose words and ubiquitous photo-shopped posters identifying with the cause of Palestine but who, in the service of foreign governments, have conducted massacres in Palestinian camps mislabeling them “camp wars” should do immediate penitence and use their political power and politically acquired financial wealth to do justice.

Neither Lebanese politicians, political parties, nor religious enterprises have a legitimate excuse not to devote an afternoon in Parliament, currently in session, and rid the country of its self-imposed debasement by repealing the racist 2001 law forbidding home ownership for Palestinian refugees. As part of the same Parliamentary action Palestinians must be granted the same right to work that every other refugees enjoys in Lebanon and which is mandated by international law, religious doctrine and belief, and common morality to which all people of good will are committed.

To do less, condemns all of us and makes a mockery of Lebanon as a supposedly civilized society.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Libya and Lebanon and reachable c/o

Movements for change, ethics of resistance – I

| by Dr. Dayan Jayatilleka

[World Philosophy Day is a UNESCO initiative to make philosophical reflection and spaces for the stimulation of critical thinking and debate, accessible to all. As part of a series of events organized throughout the day at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on November 17, 2011, the Democracy and Philosophy section of UNESCO, invited Dr Dayan Jayatilleka, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate of Sri Lanka to moderate a discussion at an event designated Café Philo (philosophical café) on the topic of "Political Movements for Change: What Ethics?" and introduce his book "Fidel’s Ethics of Violence" in support of his presentation. Msgr. Francesco Follo, Professor of the History of Philosophy and Permanent Observer of the Vatican to UNESCO, presented a critical response as co-moderator.]

(November 30, Paris, Sri Lanka Guardian) The book that I wrote entails reflections on the ethics of violence as part of political transformation. It did not come entirely out of an academic exercise. It came as the result of an attempt to apply ideas and also to reflect on action and the deflection of those ideas by reality. Sri Lanka as you know has been a very violent place and in 1989 when the civil war in El Salvador was at its peak, the prestigious periodical, The Economist (London) referred to Sri Lanka as the bloodiest place in the world. We in Sri Lanka have experienced all possible forms of political violence except — and this is an important exception — for the replacement of elected civilian government by the military; that has never happened. But we have had an ethnic or secessionist civil war for thirty years and we have had two ultra-left or far left insurrections in the southern part of the country which is dominated by the ethnic majority. The latest Norwegian study of the ethno-secessionist war gives the casualty figure of 80,000 and the casualty figures for the other two insurrections vary. So Sri Lanka has been a crucible to test political ideas; all the ideas were thrown into the vessel: the ideas of national liberation, socialism, self-determination, sovereignty, democracy. As somebody who was an observer- participant or participant-observer and an analyst of the crisis, I could not but help try to squeeze something theoretical, something conceptual, out of it. My reflections were informed by my training of choice as a political scientist, a field which I studied and which I teach. I am not, in that sense, a philosopher, unlike Msgr. Follo. But my reflections as a political scientist have brought me back into political philosophy and therefore also to philosophy itself. That is the background.

Kautilya, also known as Chanakya, the author of the famous Indian book on state-craft, the Arthashastra, a very ancient text, says that "Philosophy above all else teaches the correct and incorrect use of force." Now force is used either by those who want to preserve the status quo and resist change or those who want to change the status quo. Force in the form of violence, legal or illegal, is sometimes used by those who resist repression; by those who visit repression on others; and by those who seek to transform that which exists in one way or the other- either turn the clock back or push it forward (as they see it). So we cannot escape the ubiquity or force, by which I include violence. Does this ubiquity mean, do the horrors of violence mean, that philosophically, ethically, the discussion is inexorably polarized along one of two lines? At one end would be a position that is identified (not entirely correctly) as a realist position or a hard-nosed position, or as Henry James would call it, a tough-minded attitude. This attitude runs along the lines of "well if that is what it takes to get it done, whether it is to put down a rebellion or to take a rebellion to success, whatever it takes is necessary, and if it is necessary it is justifiable". This is one point of view. The latest incarnation of that was the so-called Global War on Terror on one hand, and on the other, 9/11, the methods and modes of struggle of Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and the LTTE (the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) of Sri Lanka.

At the other point of the spectrum is the philosophical position of absolute non-violence that is associated mostly with Mahatma Gandhi. There is also an intermediate position, a third position, identified perhaps with the ANC, and that is tactical violence; not violence as a strategy for transformation but selective violence as armed propaganda. These are been the positions that are been available in the field.

But sixty years ago, here in this great city of Paris, the most significant debate on the subject took place between two friends whose friendship would not survive the debate. One was a practicing philosopher, the other a writer, respectively Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. Though it was not a part of that debate, precisely in that same year, 1951, and precisely here at UNESCO, Jean-Paul Sartre made the point that what we must object to is "unnecessary violence", not violence as such, and that if one were to oppose violence as such, one really justifies the violence of the capitalist status quo (i.e. what Slavoj Zizek currently terms "structural violence"). Camus for his part made another vital distinction. His conclusion was that violence is justified when it is part of rebellion, but the moment that its objectives are more globally transformational or revolutionary, the moment it shifts from rebellion to revolution, it entails the widening of the scale and scope of violence and leads to its ‘permanentizing’ in the form of a post-revolutionary regime.

In my book, I have attempted to intervene in that debate to say that there is another position that is possible apart from these three. To recapitulate the three positions are, firstly, the ‘absolutising’ of violence or the refusal to entertain ethical considerations in the use of violence; secondly, the Gandhian counter-position in which the moral high ground is permanently occupied because one does not resort to violence whatever and however violent the provocation; thirdly, the intermediate or sub-position of the tactical, as distinct from strategic, use of violence. I have argued that there is a way to transcend the limitations imposed by Camus who maintained that a revolt or rebellion can remain within the bounds of humanism but that if it moves to the more ambitious objective of revolution it then risks and almost certainly entails a brutalizing violence with no ethical bounds.

Having lived through, and in a way participated peripherally in the Sri Lankan turmoil, and having compared and contrasted the political behavior of the Sri Lankan actors with those in other parts of the world, I have been always brought back to the example of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, the Cuban revolution and to a certain extent, to the Nicaraguan Sandinista revolution.

Today, when you look at Latin America, what you would find is that those movements for transformation which succeeded are ones which have not transgressed the ethical bounds of humanism. Furthermore, even those movements which failed quite utterly in a military sense, such as the Tupamaros in Uruguay, made a tremendous political come-back because they did not violate humanist ethics or made a subsequent self-criticism of any transgressions from the moral high ground.

The moral high ground is the most valuable of political territory and it is possible to hold this territory even if one has to engage in violence as resistance to repression or as a mode of overall transformation. It is an exception, but it is possible. It is possible because the proof exists in the example, the practice, the consistent practice of Fidel Castro, of Che. They demonstrate that it is possible to be, precisely, revolutionaries, and practice a higher ethics be it as guerillas requesting the assistance of ICRC to tend to captive soldiers, or as a State fighting a counter revolution backed by a gigantic power, or as a doomed guerilla force (Che noted in his Diary that in the course of an ambush he could have shot a Bolivian army soldier who was at the back of a truck but desisted because the soldier looked like he was 14 years old) or as a State engaged in a major war, twelve years in Angola, deploying 300,000 troops from 1976 to 1988 without one accusation of an atrocity even by the United States at the Human Rights Commission in Geneva. So it is possible, while deploying all forms of violence as a State and/or an anti-state movement, to remain within the bounds of ethics and a radical humanism. This has been my point: it has been done and therefore it is possible to do it, and if you do it, it is not only correct ethically, but it is also a key to success and survival.

So in that sense one is able to transform or transcend the divide between realism and idealism because Fidel Castro remained in power and the revolution has defended itself from all forms of counter-revolutionary projects. This is consonant with Lenin’s notion of power, especially State power. Therefore it has been possible to transcend the divide between realism –where the central question is the retention or acquisition of power- and idealism, where the central question has been that of right or wrong. If one is able to combine the two, then it is possible, whether as human being or as project, to present a different way of being in the world, a way of being that corresponds in the final analysis, to a notion that has been very important to me, the notion of the hero.

(To be continued)

A zoological safari down Diyawanna Oya

… in search of Homo sapiens, Homo politicus, and a new sub-species.

| by A. N. Suranimala
(November 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A human – animal connection has many ramifications, from the zenith of the intellectual discourse on evolutionary biology which the venerable Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace initiated, to theoretical zoology, philosophy, anthropology, and then down to the nadir, or the pits as it is more crudely, but descriptively and accurately called - Sri Lankan politics. I’m not referring to the man-pet animal connection where a dog is man’s best friend, but to a more philosophical consideration of Man’s place among the animals. It is essentially a theoretical discussion that might find a place in A-level text-books on zoology, but with no practical applications what-so-ever, except for instance, in stimulating the boss of the Dehiwela Zoo to collect this new sub-species to cage it in the zoo where it properly belongs.

There are some enthusiastic people who postulate that Man is a special creation and the Jesuit priest-paleontologist Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin even hypothesized in his The Future of Man, and The phenomenon of Man, that Man’s ultimate destination is to wind up in what he calls the Noosphere, at The Omega point (whatever and wherever that is). But the Nobel laureate Peter Medawar has shredded Chardin’s view as being very far-fetched while Chardin didn’t tell us ignoramuses where his Noosphere is, that is, how far away. James Thurber, the US humorist-writer was certainly in no jocular mood but was dead serious when he wrote so perceptively (in I believe, 1947): "Before we can pronounce any judgement on Man’s destiny, we must take a look at the dilemma into which he has got himself. We must examine his nature before we can measure his hope of Heaven. For some curious reason Man has always assumed that his is the highest form of life in the Universe. There is, of course, nothing at all with which to sustain this view. Man is simply the highest form of life on his own planet. His superiority rests on a thin and chancy basis; he had the trick of articulate speech and out of this, slowly and laboriously he developed the capacity of abstract reasoning. Abstract reasoning in itself, has not benefited Man so much as instinct has benefited the lower animals. On the contrary, it has moved in the opposite direction" (my emphasis), and if Mr. Thurber would kindly allow me to add, probably in the direction of Diyawanna Oya. Other zoologists are more down-to-earth and clearly see an intimate link between humans and animals. This could be so because, for one thing, humans have at the bottom of their spine on their backside near the exit of their gas-works, a little set of bones called the coccyx that evolutionary biologists regard as the vestiges of a tail; this coccyx (pronounced koksiks, by virtue of its neighbourhood) is apparently concealed by human underwear to prevent embarrassment in case the coccyx causes any resemblance of the wearer to animals, (or more likely embarrassment to animals to have human compared with them), until medical students start dissecting their human corpses for the 2nd medical examination to expose and demonstrate the coccyx to their examiner. I can imagine the glee with which tailed-animals who will undoubtedly evolve, and will some day overtake humans at the rate humans are destroying themselves, and be able to dissect human bodies in their efforts to discover how Darwin got misled and Evolution got derailed on its grand multibillion-year journey, and discover the human coccyx that will be enough evidence to hang a cat, that humans have some resemblance to, and are really glorified animals. Here I tender my apologies to conventional animals.

But other zoologists doubt a human – animal link. They base their theory on baldness, that while some humans are bald on their heads and sometimes in their thinking, no animal has ever been discovered to be bald on their heads. The fact that there are degrees of baldness in humans won’t invalidate their theory. There is however a diversionary link between the degree of baldness and the sexuality cum intellect of the human, a feature that has not yet been established in animals, obviously because they have no baldness. Humans who are bald in front are the thinkers, those who are bald behind are the sexy ones while those who are totally bald are those who think they are sexy. This theorem is universally valid and has entered the Sinhala lexicon as when they say issarahin thattaya – kattaya [bald in front – brainy, shrewd], passen thattaya – mottya [bald behind – stupid]. But let that baldness-debate rest as the poor animals have no power of speech or the opportunity to write letters or articles competing with Suranimala, to the editor of The Island, explaining their status on the absence of baldness.

The view of a substantial human – animal link was identified some

years ago, by a Bambalapitiya teacher of zoology to repeatedly-failed A-level students, who even named the species of human – animal hybrid that he discovered, as Homo politicus, not to be confused with an entirely different species called Homo sapiens, because H. politicus has only one percent of human genes. Homo politicus is really a creature that wallows in the mud in Diyawanna Oya and periodically migrates to that august building on the banks of that oya, to collect its pay and hear its own voice, although the mud is where it rightly belongs.

For the uninitiated, let me explain the derivations of those two names Homo sapiens. Homo, has little to do with gay people; it comes from Latin, meaning Man. sapiens is what egg-head zoologists call the species name, which means wise (Latin sapio) Wise Man, which is almost extinct from the earth. Now, for Heaven’s sake, Homo sapiens has nothing to do with the Diyawanna Oya aquatic species of animal Homo politicus that has never been known to display Wisdom, and on which therefore this creature does not qualify or deserve to be named Homo sapiens. It is for that reason that the simple Bambalapitiya teacher of zoology to failed A-level students termed the Diyawanna species Homo politicus, in view of the game of politics that these animals play at the citizens’ expense.

There is another, more interesting sub-species or variant (as taxonomists call it) of H. politicus which also enters this building, popularly called the parliament, frequented by H. politicus itself. Unfortunately good old Charles Darwin is now on the other side so he cannot study and classify this sub-species, though if re-incarnationists are right and we are lucky, then he might soon be with us. This odd, aberrant creature has yet defied any zoological name being given to it; it is probably not Homo sapiens because sapiens (sapio Latin, be wise) denotes wisdom whereas this sub-species has no sapience. Will any reader please help out with an appropriate name? Or I could resort to the category of "anomalous creatures" that biologists place odd species that cannot be pigeon-holed into existing classifications. This sub-species is characterized by having the intriguing habit of tethering members of the species H. sapiens to trees and beating them, a habit that Head-Shrinks (also known as psychiatrists) call sadism, after the late Marquis de Sade; this sub-species (I mean of H. politicus) should be proud of itself to be named after royalty. Let me enlighten readers on Head-Shrinks, so-called affectionately by patients who have their bloated or neurotic and psychotic Ego-bearing heads shrunk by this category of medicine-men. Animals do not suffer bloated Ego’s, neuroses or psychoses, and thus have no animal psychiatrists, thank Heaven and bless their souls, so the term Head-Shrink refers only to the medicine man who tinkers with humans. The plot thickens when humans that have psychoses, neuroses and bloated egos are evolutionarily yet regarded as being higher than animals who do not have these ailments; could anyone resolve this taxonomical quandary for me? This sub-species of Homo politicus, also has a loud voice that conveys just foul air but no discernible meaning, especially when newscasters’ television cameras are focused on it for the entertainment of dumb citizens, and lots are being drawn for entry tickets to that large building on the Diyawanna Oya, and for teaching of zoology to school-kids. The reason, raison d’etre – (Suranimala just finished his French tuition class), for the existence of this sub-species (oops, I nearly wrote sub-human species is unknown and unfathomable; it is a clear example of where Darwin-Wallace’s Evolution got derailed during its multibillion-years journey.

There is another discrepancy in this zoological puzzle of the difference between Homo sapiens, Homo politicus, and its new sub-species and that is the absence of horns in this muddy creature of H. politicus, seen around the Diyawanna Oya. If it did possess horns, it could also have aligned itself on the evolutionary tree of zoological life to other species of animals, Bubalus bubalis the water buffalo, or the commonplace bull Bos taurus, both of which have horns, but it will not be possible to examine for horns, the head of H. politicus if it has one, because it might be so small that it might escape detection. It may on the other hand be that the parliament’s beauty salon is equipped to remove horns. This author probably won’t get the great zoological privilege of examining this sub-species for the sprouting of horns, as this author might also get tied to a tree. This zoological puzzle will deepen when one begins to wonder whether this new sub-species, if it has no horns, is even more closely and biologically related to the donkey, rather than only to the bullock and bull because the real donkey (Equus africanus asinus) has no horns. This sub-species, that I’d venture to name Equus zeylanicus asinus colloquially called the Ceylon ass (asinus), should be eternally grateful for being given a scientific name and pleased to have it’s new scientific name in the zoological literature, but I offer my apologies to the vintage ass. The technical zoological name E. z. asinus is the origin of the term ‘asinine’ ( = donkey-like, stubborn, stupid [Pocket Oxford Dictionary, OUP 1996] ) given to the behavior of some members of the species H. politicus and certainly of the new sub-species described in this technical report.

I think I must stop right here, or the Sri Lankan zoology syllabus for our failed-A-level students might get overloaded, other animals such as snakes and colour-changing chameleons that are also found in Diyawanna Oya might clamour for new names and, what’s more, Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace might get restless in their graves; let them Rest In Peace.

But all this zoological mumbo-jumbo convinces me of two things, firstly that Ogden Nash said a mouthful about humans, perhaps of H. politicus and E. zeylanicus asinus, in his delightful little poem –

"My fellow man, I do not care for
I often ask me, what’s he there for
The only answer I can find
Is reproduction of his kind" - and Heaven help us

and secondly that only a little humour that Thurber and Nash have in plenty, can help us survive these species.

1st death anniversary of Courageous popular journalist

Mr Subramaniam Sivanayagam - 29th November 2011

(November 30, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) “It was very hard for all of us. It's still very hard. The anniversary of his death just passed, and every single one of his family members and friends, still, after all these years... it's unbelievable”.

It was a year ago today, 29th November 2011 that Mr Subramaniam Sivanayagam known fondly to the diaspora as “Iyah”, editor of “Saturday Review”, “Tamil Nation” and “Hot Spring” passed away.

Mr Sivanayagam worked for the ‘Ceylon Daily News’, the ‘Daily Mirror’, J. Walter Thompson and the Ceylon Tourist Board. In 1981 he worked as the founder editor of the “Saturday Review”, a newspaper started by Tamil intellectuals, the first Jaffna English newspaper. As the ‘Saturday Review’ was banned by the government and they troubled Mr. Sivanayagam, he went to India and worked there for the “Tamil Information Centre” for a few years. Then along with his friends, he started an English fortnightly newspaper, “Tamil Nation”. While he was working for Tamil Nation, he was arrested by the Indian authorities under TADA and detained for a few years in India.

As soon as he was released from prison, he came to France, sought political asylum and lived in Paris for some years. While in Paris, he started publishing the monthly magazine “Hot Spring”. During his stay there, he had a heart attack and underwent an operation. As he was also suffering from diabetes, his friends in the United Kingdom encouraged him to move to London, where he could live closer to them and some of his relatives as well. In London, he continued to publish the popular “Hot Spring” magazine.

In London, UK he published two books, “Pen and the Gun” & “Sri Lanka – Witness to History” – A journalist’s Memoirs 1930 – 200) which contain his popular articles and writings, expressing his experiences as a journalist and the effects of politics in Sri Lanka. Also in 1987 he published “Sri Lanka : 10 years of Jayewardene Rule”.

As his illness got worse, he decided to live with his family and moved to Colombo in 2005. Mr Sivanayagam passed away on 29 November 2010, leaving his wife, two daughters, grandchildren and his son-in-law.

May this courageous popular journalist who contributed his life to his people, rest in peace.

On the 1st death anniversary of Mr Sivanayagam, we, the Tamil Centre for Human Rights – TCHR, along with many other International Human Rights organisations renew our expressions of sympathy to his wife, daughters and other family members.

* * * * * * * *

For Iyah (Mr) Sivanayagam

A Lovely soul has passed today
from Earth to the next place.
Full of humour, light and
Mischievous love
of life, of laughter – of people in
the broadest sense – humanity –
and His people.
Tireless journalist – writer of truth

I feel limp with sorrow
like a leaf without water
but salt water flows from my eyes
in a wellspring of grief.

This history – this path of an
oppressed people – trod by

many – drew all of us together
attempting to speak out and
expose the injustice.

What a herculean task
He did
Over the decades.
History will recognise his feat.

-- Deirdre McConnell, 30 November 2010

China at Sea

| by Maloy Krishna Dhar

(November 39, New Delhi, Sri Lanka Guardian) The banner does not mean that the PRC has reached geopolitical wit’s end and is floating helplessly. Far from it. The PRC is the second super power in the present context of global power play. Even the giant United States lean heavily on the PRC for its economic revival. Ceaseless US war mongering, living beyond means, market debauchery and dipping GDP etc have generated economic decline. The US decline has cascaded down to European and global recession. Perhaps China and India have managed to survive the shockwave to some extent. The axis is becoming east-centric.

This newly acquired economic and military prowess is not solely responsible for China’s obsession with the South China Sea, claiming a vast segment of the Pacific Ocean as its backwater. Increased sea presence in South China Sea by Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, USA and China has prompted China to aggressively display its rights in the open seas.

In an earlier essay I had stressed on the aspects of the need for greater Indian presence in the Indian Ocean, right from the Malacca Straits to the mouths of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Hormuz. Increased collaboration between India and the US in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Thailand and South China Sea was also suggested. It was pointed out how China was Thailand to create a Panama Canal type passage from the Indian Ocean to the Gulf of Thailand to escape any future crunch on the Straits of Malacca. A Chinese effort to open up rail and road connection to the sea ports of Myanmar was also highlighted. All these are directed at greater Chinese access to the Indian Ocean and the Gulf oil routes. For the purposes of creating strategic outposts around India, China has been successful in establishing string of Pearls in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. It’s presence in Bangladesh, Maldives and Afghanistan is on the increase. So is the situation in the Central Asian Republics.

However, Chinese media often come up with undisguised warning whenever India successfully lands in forward airfields like Vijaynagar in Arunachal Pradesh, reinforces troops presence near Indo-China border, stations fighter units and missile positions in the forward border regions. China played funny game when an Indian Navy vessel made a routine call at a Vietnamese port. On a routine call at a Vietnam port, Indian naval assault vessel, INS Airavat, was harassed by the Chinese navy when it was travelling in open international waters in the South China Sea. The Chinese naval ship had warned the Indian ship for entering the territorial waters of China. The Indian Captain called the Chinese bluff by ignoring the warning and asserting that it was navigating in the international waters.

India has several times protested China’s presence in the Northern Areas of Jammu & Kashmir now under illegal occupation of Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan), their engagement in hydro-project, road, rail and other construction matters. Reported presence of over 11,000 Chinese PLA personnel in Pakistan was also protested by India. China refused to take even diplomatic cognizance of the Indian protests.

However, China has vehemently protested against India’s ONGC exploring oil and gas in the Vietnamese territorial waters, considered a part of the so-called South China Sea. The issue came up in the recently concluded ASEAN summit in Bali. India firmly rejected China’s objections to its presence in the South China Sea, with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh telling Chinese leader Wen Jiabao that Indian interests were “purely commercial” and sovereignty claims must be settled according to international law. The same view has been reiterated by Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Sources said the PM’s response came during the interaction that saw Wen seek greater coordination between India and China on the agenda of the East Asia summit. Wen’s raising of the South China Sea issue with Singh signaled Beijing’s growing concerns particularly as it has fought hard to keep this out of the purview of both ASEAN and East Asia Summits, preferring to deal with the matter bilaterally. Other nations are not interested in Chinese approach. They prefer international adjudication.

Addressing Asean leaders during the Asean-China summit later this morning, Wen warned “outside forces” from getting embroiled in the South China Sea dispute. The Chinese uneasiness reflects increased preoccupation with neighbors like Vietnam with whom the Asian giant has not always had peaceful relations.

“The dispute which exists among relevant countries in this region over the South China Sea is an issue which has built up for several years,” Wen told Asean leaders. “It ought to be resolved through friendly consultations and discussions by countries directly involved. Outside forces should not, under any pretext, get involved,” he added.

China has reason to sweat. Not only is India exploring for oil in areas Beijing feels lie in its territory. China’s Asian neighbors and rival claimants to South China Sea want the differing perceptions to become a multilateral issue so they together have a stronger case. And now the US has jumped into the dispute as well by pushing maritime security to the forefront of the East Asia summit.

US President Barack Obama, attending his first East Asia Summit here, told PM Manmohan Singh that this forum should be the premier one to discuss maritime issues, despite China’s objections. The gathering “can be the premier arena for us to be able to work together on a wide range of issues: maritime security or nonproliferation,” Obama told Singh. India has raised China’s hackles because of an oil exploration agreement with Vietnam, signed during the Vietnamese president’s recent visit to New Delhi. A joint statement after that visit said pointedly, “disputes in the East Sea/South China Sea should be resolved by peaceful means… in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2002 Asean-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.”

The issue of South China Sea (?) is required to be understood in historical context.

South China Sea
It would be seen that the so-called South China Sea is a part of the Pacific Ocean, encompassing an area from the Singapore and Malacca Straits to the Strait of Taiwan of around 3,500,000 square kilometers (1,400,000 sq mi). The area’s importance largely results from one-third of the world’s shipping transiting through its waters, and that it is believed to hold huge oil and gas reserves beneath its seabed. This sea touches the shores of South China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Singapore and Philippines. The area is important for two reasons: vast reserve of oil and natural gas and one of the busiest shipping routes. Though historically it was named by the westerners as Mar da China, it was named Champa Sea, at the height of Hindu Champa power in Cambodia and Vietnam. In modern times the Philippines call part of the sea as West Philippines Sea.

The South China Sea contains over 250 small islands, atolls, cays, shoals, reefs, and sandbars, most of which have no indigenous people, many of which are naturally under water at high tide, and some of which are permanently submerged. The features are grouped into three archipelagos (listed by area size), Macclesfield Bank and Scarborough Shoal:
Main islands are: The Spratly Islands, The Paracel Islands, The Pratas Islands, The Macclesfield Bank and The Scarborough Shoal. There are raging disputes over the Spartly, Paracel and Pratas Islands. Countries in dispute are PRC, ROC, Japan, Philippines, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam and Singapore. It is an extremely significant body of water in a geopolitical sense. It is the second most used sea lane in the world, while in terms of world annual merchant fleet tonnage; over 50% passes through the Strait of Malacca, the Sunda Strait, and the Lombok Strait. Over 1.6 million m (10 million barrels) of crude oil a day are shipped through the Strait of Malacca, where there are regular reports of piracy, but much less frequently than before the mid-20th century.

The region has proven oil reserves of around 1.2 km³ (7.7 billion barrels), with an estimate of 4.5 km³ (28 billion barrels) in total. Natural gas reserves are estimated to total around 7,500 km³ (266 trillion cubic feet). According to studies made by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippines, this body of water holds one third of the entire world’s marine biodiversity, thereby making it a very important area for the ecosystem.

The following map will illustrate the audacious expansionist demand of China in the so called South China Sea:

Such belligerent attitude of China, as indicated by the red dotted line, indicate that recent attitude displayed by China at ASEAN + conference in Bali is confrontationist. With further growth of Chinese maritime power and indicated declining presence of the USA this part of the Pacific Ocean may turn to a virtual war zone.

Such belligerent attitude of China, as indicated by the red dotted line, indicate that recent attitude displayed by China at ASEAN + conference in Bali is confrontationist. With further growth of Chinese maritime power and indicated declining presence of the USA this part of the Pacific Ocean may turn to a virtual war zone.

In the recent meeting between Obama and Wen Jinbiao the South China Sea issue had come up. US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said the “informal meeting” between Mr. Obama and Mr. Wen focused mainly on economic issues. He said the two leaders discussed “specific issues around business practices” as well as Chinese currency controls. Mr. Donilon said the United States did not have a view on sovereignty on the South China Sea, but wanted to see shipping lanes remain open.

“We don’t have a claim, we don’t take sides in the claims, but we do as a global maritime power have an interest in seeing these principles applied broadly,” he said. On Friday, in comments which appeared directed at the US, Mr. Wen warned “external forces” not to get involved in the maritime dispute. The Philippines had asked the US to step in to help solve the row, but ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan said that ASEAN and China could resolve the issue peacefully by themselves. India, however, pointed out that it was not interested in territorial claim or permanent naval presence in South China Sea. However, India mentioned that its presence in Vietnam waters for oil and gas exploration was only commercial in nature. The ONGC has been exploring oil and natural gas in different parts of the world under bilateral contracts. As India’s look east policy gathers strength in coming years such commercial activities may extend to the waters of the Philippines, Indonesia and Brunei etc countries. India’s approaches to Myanmar for oil and gas exploration are also likely to mature in commercial activities. Bangladesh has not formally approached India. With improved relations such commercial activities cannot be ruled out.

Besides growing tensions along the land borders, diplomatic and strategic observers believe, India-China maritime confrontation is likely to increase around the countries considered as Chinese String of Pearls around India and in and around the South China Seas. Indian naval power growth is no more Pakistan specific. It is China oriented too. Confrontation with China at sea is a part of the strategic game the two countries are playing, with Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam and the USA as keen stage-players.