23 October, 2020

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A Scary Part Of The Crimean Precedent And The IPKF Incident In Jaffna

By Charitha Ratwatte –

Charitha Ratwatte

Charitha Ratwatte

A sequel to Finlandisation and Bhutanisation?

On Monday 17 March 2014, Vladimir Putin, ex of the KGB, Communist Russia’s autocrat, recognised Crimea as an independent state. A referendum had been held in Crimea, condemned as contrary to international law by the world community, at which an overwhelming majority of Crimean’s had allegedly voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia.

In the UN Security Council, Russia vetoed a resolution condemning Russia’s actions. Interestingly China abstained at this vote, breaking ranks with its erstwhile Russian ally. Both the European Union and the United States of America have urged Russia not to absorb Crimea into Russia, a step that undermines the principles of respect for national boundaries and sovereignty that has been the cornerstone of Europe’s and the rest of the world’s post-World War II security structure. Both the European Union and the USA have imposed sanctions on Russian and Ukrainian officials.

Ukraine was at one time an entity on its own. It was absorbed into the USSR after World War II by Stalin, and after the USSR broke up, Ukraine, together with a number of other satellite states of the USSR, broke free from the Soviets. In terms of the Budapest memorandum of 1994, Russia, the USA and Britain guaranteed Ukraine’s integrity in exchange for the Ukraine giving up the nuclear weapons, which the USSR had based on Ukrainian soil.

Crimea was a part of Russia, until 1954, when the then Soviet Communist autocrat, Nikita Khrushchev, ‘gifted’ Crimea to Ukraine. Khrushchev enjoyed his Vodka, and Russians allege that he was under the influence, at the time of bestowing the gift! Crimea is of great strategic importance to Russia. The Black Sea Fleet is based at Sebastopol in Crimea, and there is a naval air base at Kacha and air base at Belbek, also in the peninsular.

Russia’s concern

Democratic tendencies in their former Soviet satellite states are a matter of major concern to Russia. Russia, analysts say, is ruled by a clique of ex-KGB men, who dream of restoring the old USSR’s power and influence in world affairs.

The pro-Russian ruler of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych was ousted by a popular uprising, starting on the Maidan or independence square in Ukraine’s capital Kiev. Yanukovych tried to suppress the disturbances with force, but failed. According to Russian propagandists, Ukrainian fascists, neo Nazis and nationalists sponsored by the CIA seized power in Kiev, overthrowing Yanukovych.

Russian speakers were allegedly humiliated, an inadvisable attempt was made to demean the status of the Russian language within Ukraine (later dropped) and these elements were poised to attack the Russian naval base in Sebastopol. The ethnic Russians in Ukraine, including eastern Ukraine, adjacent to Russia and Crimea, appealed to Vladimir Putin of Russia for protection, and Russia was obliged to do something.

Armed men in Russian type of camouflage uniforms and Russian weapons and Russian military vehicles, with no markings or insignia, formation, regimental, unit or whatever, moved into Crimea, faces covered with ski masks, days after the Sochi Winter Olympics were over. Apparently jeopardising the subsequent Para-Olympics did not matter to Russia. These armed men seized airports, government buildings and broadcasting institutions, blockaded Ukrainian military bases. Thousand of Russian troops massed for exercises just east of Ukraine.

Everyone who is pro-Russian in Crimea and eastern Ukraine talks about Ukraine’s fascists who are up to all this anti Russian mischief. But no one has actually seen them! Even an aide to a local pro-Russian self-defence force chief, in Sebastopol, Crimea says: “We have not seen them here, yet, but we have seen them on television.”

Propaganda campaign

Russian television has unleashed a propaganda campaign both intensive and cynical, giving prominence to historical ethnic hatreds, resurrecting ancient historical divides between Russian, Ukrainians and the Tartars, an indigenous Turkic people of Crimea.
Stalin, when ruling the USSR, committed virtual genocide against the Tartars, by exiling the whole community from Crimea to Siberia, by force. Thousands died in the process of being forcibly moved. The Tartars have started to return to Crimea, only after the USSR disintegrated.

The Upper House of Russia’s Parliament granted authority to the Russian Government to use military force in Ukraine to protect Russian interests. Ukrainian troops in Crimea were put under enormous pressure to defect to the Russian side. Their officers were blackmailed with threats of retribution to their families if they did not surrender. Thugs surrounded a Ukrainian naval base cutting off its power and water. But the Ukrainian forces stood firm. Later the bases were invaded. Russia flag raised the Ukrainian flag brought down. A Ukrainian Admiral was placed under arrest.

With Crimea voting to join Russia, the focus now shifts to eastern Ukraine, where there is a large group of Russian speakers. Thousands of demonstrators demonstrate for the right to hold a referendum, as held in Crimea. Germany’s Chancellor Merkel said that in a telephone call with Vladimir Putin, Putin claimed that the Crimean referendum complied with the law and Russia would ‘respect the choice of the Crimean people’. Merkel observed that Putin seems in another world!

History

Historically, the issue arose recently with Ukraine wanting to join the European Union and maybe later NATO. Russia enticed Yanukovych away from this step with economic concessions. But the Ukrainian people in Kiev and other cities revolted and ousted Yanukovych, in a series of demonstrations centred on Kiev’ Maidan or Independence Square.

After Yanukovych disappeared from Kiev and remerged in Russia, Crimea’s Parliament installed an allegedly ex-gangster, nicknamed the Goblin as Prime Minister of Crimea, who called a referendum on joining the Russian Federation.

In Russian mythology Crimea has a historical and emotional place as is it where the Tsar Vladimir the First adopted Christianity as the State religion of the ancient kingdom of Rus. The principle that Putin and the powers in the Kremlin have invoked to interfere in Crimea and Ukraine that they have a duty to protect Russians and Russian speakers wherever they may be is scary. It is the same logic that Adolf Hitler used when he seized parts of Europe in the 1930s, the annexation of Austria and Sudetenland by the German Nazis.

Finland

What is happening in Ukraine and Crimea is being watched with concern by all small states, with a big neighbour next door – especially where there are ethnic or linguistic ties to a minority in the small state and the majority in the larger neighbouring state.
Finland suffered and still suffers this influence from the USSR and now Russia. A new word was coined in the lexicon of international relations – Finlandisation – to describe this phenomenon. The powerful neighbour extends economic, social, linguistic and even influence over sports and culture over the smaller neighbour. Finnish politicians had to toe a very careful line in order not to fall foul of the USSR’s rulers.

While overtly docile, covertly the Finns resented this influence. When the USSR collapsed, the Finns were relieved. They thought that would be treated better by a ‘democratic’ Russian entity. But current events have seen Russia’s autocratic rulers giving the Finns a hard time.

When the USSR collapsed, the Finnish economy went into a tailspin, a massive economic recession. This memory has resulted in the Finnish economy welcoming foreign investment, even from Russia. Today with the Finnish forest products industry in the doldrums and even Finland’s leading brand Nokia, sold to a US company, the Finns are putting a positive spin on the Russian bear-hug of their economy.

The Finnish PM has gone on record saying that “I would not say that they are tightening their grip. We are very satisfied if there is more Russian investment into Finland. We need foreign investment into Finland.” Even one of the leading Finnish ice hockey clubs has been bought by a Russian business group. Russian tourists are swamping Finland. More and more Finns now learn and speak Russian, it is predicted that it will displace Swedish as the most spoken foreign language within a few years. The Russi-fication of Finland rolls inexorably on.

Bhutan

A similar situation has overcome a South Asian country, Bhutan. The symptom has been described as Bhutaisation. This Himalayan Kigdom is wrapped in a blanket hug by its big neighbour India.

Bhutan is a virtual hydropower factory for India. India managed Bhutan external relations until recently, and still has an overwhelming influence. There is an Indian Army Brigade garrisoned in Thimpu, the capital city of Bhutan. All imports to Bhutan come through India. India provides a fuel oil subsidy to Bhutan.

When a former Government of Bhutan was trying to get friendlier with Bhutan’s other big neighbour – the People’s Republic of China – in the recent past, just before a general election, the fuel oil subsidy was inexplicably removed, the price of fuel oil sky rocketed, and the sitting government was defeated. New Delhi has not given a rational explanation for the turn of events. The subsidy has been restored with some vague mumblings about some confusion among ministries in Delhi!

India treats all its smaller neighbours with equal disdain, Nepal is another example. There are many other examples. Indian expansionism is a recurring theme in the South Asian region.

Any such small country sited next to a big powerful neighbour will be worried about Russia’s expansionism into Crimea and the threat to Eastern Ukraine. If Russia holds itself out as the protector of the rights of Russian speakers within other sovereign nations, where will it end? Will there be similar ‘imperialistic’ defenders of French speakers, English speakers, Tamil speakers, Hebrew speakers, Mandarin speakers, or Arabic and Persian speakers or people with ethnic connections? This is the first annexation of another European country’s territory since World War II.

Putin’s strategy

Russia has signed a treaty with the newly-installed pro-Russian Prime Minster of Crimea, on joining the Russian Federation. In an hour-long speech before both Houses of the Russian Parliament, President Putin of Russia has said: “Crimea is a symbol of Russian war glory, of Russian traditions, language, beliefs.”

Vice President Joe Biden of the USA called it “a blatant land grab” violating international law.

Putin’s strategy seems to be to stop Ukraine joining the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, like some other former USSR satellite states. According to Putin, the referendum on independence for Crimea was conducted in strict accordance with democratic principles and international law.

On the contrary international law does not recognise a right by any community to secede per se; however it steers clear of prohibiting unilateral declarations of independence. Russia vetoed the UN Security Council resolution that would have declared the Crimean referendum invalid. It is important to note the China, pointedly abstained, in this vote. China has its own concerns over minority unrest among the Tibetans and Uighurs and other minorities who oppose Han domination.

The Russians try to justify the Crimean scenario by claiming that a similar event happened in Kosovo, which broke off from the rest of Serbia in 2008. But the facts differ; analysts point out in 1999 Kosovo was ethnically cleansed by the Serbians led by Milosevic, Serbia’s President, who was later hauled before the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The argument supporting Kosovo’s separation was that due to the mistreatment of the Kosovo population, Serbia had forfeited its legitimacy to rule over Kosovo. As a result in 1990 the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1244 which placed Kosovo under international supervision. This is totally different from sending men in unmarked uniforms carrying traceable weapons to invade a neighbouring country!

To claim that Russian speakers living in Crimea have a right to secede on the grounds of discrimination by Ukraine is in the teeth of all evidence. The referendum in Crimea was held which armed men in unmarked uniforms wearing ski masks controlled the ground! On the other hand Kosovo’s declaration of independence came after nine years of diplomatic negotiation, in which every effort was made to secure an international agreement on the process.

On any objective analysis, Russia is on an expansionist extravaganza – a strategy to claw back the influence the former USSR had over its satellite states. The Russians have watched with dismay countries like Poland, Hungary and Rumania coming under the influence of the old enemies of NATO and the EU.

When addressing the Russian Parliament Putin said Russia “had been cornered for centuries. It was only when Crimea ended up as a part of a different country that Russia realised that it was not simply robbed, it was plundered.” He said the breakup of the USSR had left Russia one of the biggest, if not the biggest nation, to be divided by borders. Putin spelt out in concrete terms that that at heart of Russia’s move was keeping NATO at bay.

Indian stance

While China saw the dangers of this Russian strategy in crossing established international borders claiming to protect minorities with ethnic or linguistic ties with a neighbouring nation, India has not taken a strong stand. The Indian stand seems pro-Russian, an old ally.

India purports to practice non-alignment in its foreign policy; it procures around 75% of its arms from Russia. But India has its own domestic concerns on referendums to divide countries. On Kashmir, a majority Muslim state, India made some vague, since not honoured, promises on holding a referendum many moons ago, when the Hindu ruler of the Muslim majority princely state on the border of India and Pakistan was wavering whether to join India or Pakistan.

India has said that it will refrain from backing sanctions against Russia over Crimea. India’s National Security Advisor, one time High Commissioner in Colombo and Secretary to the Ministry Foreign Affairs, has gone on record acknowledging that Russia has ‘legitimate interests’ in Crimea.

India’s track record in this area is also patchy. The Nizam of Hyderabad, a Muslim ruler of a majority Hindu princely state in the heart of India was ousted, by force, when he was wavering on choosing between India and Pakistan and indicating a preference to be independent – contrary to the principle that the rulers of princely states should decide on joining the Indian Union or not, when the British finally quit India.

Later Goa was invaded by India. Sikkim was annexed. Readers well know the Bangladesh story. The IPKF got a bloodied nose in Sri Lanka, even after the ‘parippu’ air drops and even more RAW and Directorate of Intelligence machinations. Today the Nepalis and Maldivians claim there is a hidden hand in their travails.

Pakistan’s ISI and India’s RAW are contesting each other in Afghanistan. Bhutanisation is an established concept in international relations. India is just going in for a general election. Analysts point out that Indian expansionism is a historical phenomenon. The candidate for prime minister put up by the BJP, the party which leads the opinion polls, Narendra Modi, popularly referred to as ‘Na-Mo’ former right wing Hindutva RSS cadre, has gone on record lamenting the lack of ‘respect’ India’s small neighbours show to the great ‘Bharat’.

A possible coalition king maker, who also thinks herself as a potential prime minister in Delhi, Jayalalithaa, Chief Minister of the Tamil Nadu state, separated from Sri Lanka by that narrow strip of water, the Palk Strait, has lamented at the treatment of Sri Lanka’s Tamilians by the Colombo regime. She has also gone on record saying that a referendum should be held on the future of Sri Lanka’s north east – in the Northern and Eastern Provinces of Sri Lanka, to determine their future. Jayalalitha must be watching the Russian, Indian, Sri Lanka and other international reactions to the Crimean referendum with great interest.

Crimea and Sebastopol

Crimea and Sebastopol are being absorbed into the Russian Federation in double-quick time, as the 84th and 85th Federal subjects. They have adopted Moscow standard time. The Russian Rouble will be the main currency from April. Crimean mobile and fixed line telephone users will get the Russian country code prefix, replacing the Ukrainian one. Some Crimean residents have already been issued with Russian passports. The Russian legal code has been decreed as law of the land. Crimean drivers have to switch their Ukrainian licenses for Russian ones. They will face higher fines for illegal parking, speeding and drunk driving- but with a higher legal limit of alcohol in their blood, for driving under the influence! Consumer prices are expected to go up 30% with the introduction of the Rouble.
This reminds me of an incident when the IPKF was in Jaffna. There was a large crowd at a bus stand, near to a Madras Light Infantry regiment check point. A crowded bus pulled up. There was simply no room for anyone to board inside the bus. The IPKF Jawans tried to force the people at the stand to climb on to the roof of the bus, Tamil Nadu style. This was resented and a heated argument broke out. Weapons were primed, bayonets were fixed. A colleague, travelling with me, who spoke Tamil, had to go and explain to the Lance Naik in charge that in Lanka people do not travel on the roof of the bus to diffuse the situation!

This is a scary part of the Crimean precedent. That might is right. That a sham referendum can be held under the influence of Kalashnikovs (AK 47) with fixed bayonets, a treaty signed with an unelected leader and a part of a small independent nation annexed by a powerful neighbour by force in double-quick time, on the pretext of protecting minorities from alleged depredations of the majority, in the neighbouring country. This does not bode well for international relations in the future. It is a dangerous sequel to Finlandisation and Bhutanisation.

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Latest comments

  • 5
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    All Sinhalese will now have to think wisely and act sensibly before it is too late! Nobody, not even the Tamils would want to be subject to alien domination again. It is best that we sort out our problems ourselves before it is too late!

    Sengodan. M

    • 3
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      Sinhala ruling elite have always been of the opinion that with the might of the state in their hands they can do anything to Tamils and others: They still hold this opinion.

      They went around the world with false propaganda of terrorism and roped in 23 countries to arm them to the teeth, unfairly prevented Tamils from getting arms, and then defeated Tigers with their might.

      Now, the mighty of the world are asking them questions that they don’t want to answer. If you are just in your rule why can’t you answer?

      Might is right, that is the law that prevails in this world whether it is Hiroshima or Crimea, with the proviso that if you are just, might may not have the right to get you. To be on the safe side for all be just!

      • 0
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        What were the Tamil Ruling Elite doing for Centuries?

        Running Slave Camps in the North? Of course they did that didn’t they?

        You try to tar the Sinhalese when it was you the Tamil Ruling Elites that had no Humanity and oppressing the majority Tamil Polity under your Jack Boot of Slavery.

        If you want to discuss state facts instead of innuendo.

        Kind Regards,
        OTC

    • 1
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      On the contrary, why don’t we agree that not merely the North and East but the whole of Sri Lanka should join the Union of India and to become Indian citizens. There are many political and economic advantages for both Tamils and Sinhalese to accept such a merger. One day a Sinhalese can become the Prime Minister of India. After all the Buddhists should be happy to claim the ownership of the the land Lord Buddha was born. Anagagarika Dharamapala,s, last wish was to reborn in Jabudweepa?

    • 0
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      On the contrary, why don’t we agree that not merely the North and East but the whole of Sri Lanka should join the Union of India and thereby to become Indian citizens. There are many political and economic advantages for both Tamils and Sinhalese to accept such a merger. One day a Sinhalese can become the Prime Minister of India. After all the Buddhists should be happy to claim the ownership of the the land Lord Buddha was born. Anagagarika Dharamapala,s, last wish was to reborn in Jabudweepa?

      • 2
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        Jinadasa Waduge

        “On the contrary, why don’t we agree that not merely the North and East but the whole of Sri Lanka should join the Union of India and thereby to become Indian citizens.”

        Its a good idea.

        However Sinhalese and Tamils can become Indian citizen by relocating to their mother country and leaving this island exclusively to our people.

  • 3
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    ” This does not bode well for international relations in the future.” laments another Sinhalese intellectual.

    When the Sinhalese got the power from Britain, what did they do? They started and continuing everything possible to dismantle the Tamil nation that exists in the island for more than 3 millenniums.

    Sinhalese are doing the same thing the big Imperial powers do in dramatic fashion, while Sri Lanka is doing it over 66 years and craftily asking the UN for more time to completely destroy the Tamil nation.

    Historically Big imperial powers grab small nations and this has been the natural law of the world from time immemorial.

    Sinhalese can’t eat the cake and have it too!

    Sinhalese ruling elite failed to understand this law of international politics, and persecuted the Tamil nation, without realizing that bigger powers with imperial intent like the Sinhala nation can do the same to them, by trying to destroy in the island the several millennium old Tamil nation.

    An intelligent reader would have noticed it is the Sinhala “intellectuals” who are lamenting of the violation of territorial integrity and that kind of crap; nobody else just like what the Serbs did.

    No amount of logical arguments will wish away the operating law; It is the premise that you start with that matters – genocidal intent – to destroy the Tamil nation.

    It is still no too late to swallow the pride and grant substantial autonomy to the Tamil nation and save the skin.

    • 1
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      Dear Thiru,

      Are you relating facts or Separatist Propaganda?

      You wrote “Tamil nation that exists in the island for more than 3 millenniums.”

      Please trace that history with factual evidence. Will it exceed 5 centuries let alone a millennium?

      You wrote “When the Sinhalese got the power from Britain, what did they do?”

      1. They together with the Lanka Tamils enacted the Citizenship Act which was UPHELD by the HIGHEST COURT in the British Empire.

      2. They also enacted the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act of 1957

      3. They then amended the 1957 Act by enacting The Prevention of Social Disabilities (Amendment) Act No. 18 of 1971 as some slave drivers were subjecting a section of the Sri Lankan citizenry to Slavery with IMPUNITY not withstanding the 1957 PSDA.

      4. A certain prominent Lawyer was prosecuted and convicted under that act for restricting the Religious freedom of the majority citizens of the North. He appealed up to the Privy Council where the conviction was upheld.

      5. Education that was denied a certain majority population in the North was made available to them.

      6. Public transport which was Taboo to the majority population of the North became available to them.

      7. Equal seating that was Taboo to the majority population of the North became available to them.

      Many more can be detailed but I suppose the above will suffice for now.

      More to the point lets see what they did not do

      1. The British enacted the Crown Land Enforcement Ordinance in 1840 to claim the unoccupied and uncultivated land in the Kandyan kingdom (Farmer 1957:90- 91). As a result of this ordinance, 90% of the land in the Kandyan highlands was designated as land belonging to the British Crown (Herath et al, 1995:77).

      2. The Waste Land Ordinance Act of 1897 (and the Crown Land Encroachment Ordinance in 1840), annexed more lands as crown lands where villagers could no longer claim them according to the new British imposed rules (Roberts 1979:233, Obeysekara 1967: 98-100).
      The majority of the Sinhalese villages effectively lost the structural prerequisite of land tenure systems (Obeysekara 1967:101).

      3. The ‘Land Settlement Ordinance of 1889’ allowed the colonial authorities to sell these STOLEN lands at will. “Many villagers in the Kandyan area were deprived of their high lands formally used for chena cultivation or grazing the cattle” (Mendis 1951:85).

      The Sinhalese hence lost their lands, livelihood and means of farming.

      In 1881 there were 345,000 indigenous Lanka Tamils (approx) and 345,000 Malaiyaha workers (Alien foreign Indian Tamils).

      These ALIEN Indian Tamils were not domiciled in the North amongst the Lanka Tamil population but were domiciled in the Lands Stolen from the Sinhalese in the Sinhalese Hinterland. They are still occupying those lands.

      The Sinhalese did not ask for these Alien Tamils to be evicted and the Lands Stolen from them returned to the rightful owners.

      The Lanka Tamils however treated these Aliens as dirt and non entities. If the situation was reversed and the Indian Tamils were domiciled in the North in numbers greater than their population what would have ensured can be gauged from the Fact that Even the Social Disabilities Act could not prevent the impunity with which the minority of Ruling class Tamils treated their own Tamil polity (who were the majority).

      We can discuss these maters further if you wish.

      Kind Regards
      OTC

  • 3
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    Charitha Ratwatte

    is testing our patience with his long winded article.

    Hindian policy makers always considered Sri Lanka as its Sinhala state of India.

    For India there is no room for a Tamil Eelam or for a Sinhala Eelam in this island but a Hindian Eelam as claimed by Subramania Swamy when he said Sinhalese were also his people.

    Tamils also believe India is their mother country while Mahinda publicly claimed that this island was the little sister of India.

  • 2
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    Wailing of the Sinhalese is like the barking noises of piranhas, while eating the sardines alive in the island waters seeing big sharks circling around on smelling blood.

    It is a big fish eating small fish world: Each fish has its day!

    Sharks will swallow piranhas, sardines and them all.

    • 0
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      The noise of the Tamil Separatists is designed to cover their brutality.

      Thiru have you forgotten the Vanni Tamil children that you murdered by Proxy?

      Kind Regards
      OTC

  • 0
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    At last someone has said it out loud….India can invade and create Eelam for the tamils, specially if Jayalalitha becomes the Prime Minister !

    The last days of Pompei ?

  • 2
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    This piece has excessive anti-Russian bias. The illegality of kicking out Yanukovich (who is, admittedly, a kleptocrat) is not emphasised. Neo-fascist sharp-shooters stirring up mayhem, is only said to be “alleged”. Many other side and snide comments take away the balance in this peice.

    However, it is true that Putin’s annexation at break-neck speed is ultra vires international norms (not law; there is no law prohibiting a people from declaring independence – vide the Kosovo ruling). And once they are independent, a people can do what they wish – eg join another state.

    It is also a fact that the people of Crimea overwhelmingly wanted to quit Ukraine and join Russia. International observers have not said the referrendum results were rigged.

    If the Crimean Parliament and Putin had delayed there would have been civil war and bloodshed. But the eventual outcome would have been the same anyway. So I don’t think the case is as clear cut as the author tries to make out.

    The most important fact that the author does not mention is this: There was a credible threat to the security of Russia developing; NATO was creeping too cloase. Putin had to act; like Kennedy did when missiles were placed in Cuba in 1962. Now the game has changed, NATO, Merkel and Obama will be more careful, they know Putin is determined.

  • 3
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    Sri Lanka is like the Malaysian airline flight MH370 commandeered by the pilot(s) and/or others and crashed in the south of the Indian Ocean:

    Rajapakse clan with a gang of henchmen has hijacked Sri Lanka and it is flying at high speed to its impending crash taking the innocent citizens with them.

    God save Sri Lanka.

  • 2
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    When you talk of the IPKF incident, please compare with the treatment of our own people right in the middle of Colombo by the MOD / UDA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86eyCKs8Xms&feature=player_embedded

    The people of Mews Street are still in the mud hole at Thotalanga and their properties are now part of anl elite school for children of military families. This incident may not be similiar to Crimea and Ukrain but there are similiar precedents in history.

  • 0
    1

    Thanks Charitha – another good one! As Karl Marx one worte – History repeats itself – as tragedy and then as farce.

    What’s the difference for Tamils who live in the northeast between the LAND GRAB of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Military dictatorship or the GoI and its military machine? Not a lot!

    Time for the Tamils themselves to DE-ESCALATE their rhetoric and chose between the occupying forces of the GoSL or GOI – it seems…

  • 2
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    It is natural for ethnic minority groups to place their ethnic loyalty above that of their country. Especially so if the ethnic minority is perceived to be discriminated or persecuted by the majority.This was seen in Kosovo, Cypress etc.
    Any reasonable majority ethnic group will try to accomodate the minority aspirations. Also assure them the freedom to practice their culture and religion.If the majority community fails to do this they will face the same fate as in Kosovo and Ukraine.
    In SriLanka the minority ethnic group has suffered from discriminative legislations such as Disenfranchisement,Sinhalese Only Act which excluded minorities from govt.jobs,Standardization which was based on ethnicity and later changed to territorial quota,Multiple anti-Tamil pograms,State sponsored colonisation,Army occupation of minority provinces about 20 years before the LTTE insurgency, burning of churches and mosques and finally war crimes amounting to genocide.
    How can we talk about a UNITED SRILANKA?

    • 0
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      Dear Priya Razeek

      You wrote “State sponsored colonisation”

      345,000 Indian Tamils who were COMPLETE ALIENS, were domiciled in the Sinhala Hinterlands of the upcountry exceeding the population of Lanka Tamils in 1881.

      That was State sponsored colonisation carried out by STEALING the Sinhala Lands.

      Can you provide information of anything of that magnitude anywhere in Sri Lanka?

      The Muslims persecuted by the Portuguese were given refuge and settled in the East within the Sinhala Kandyan Kingdom.

      You say “discriminative legislations such as Disenfranchisement”

      Do you mean the Citizenship Act which was upheld by the Highest Court in Britain? Please prove how that was discrimination.

      You say “Sinhalese Only Act which excluded minorities from govt.jobs”

      Please explain how the Language Act prevented a Tamil or a Muslim gaining govt employment when before that you could not get a govt job if the ONLY language you knew was either Tamil or Sinhala? That allowed only about 1% to gain govt employment and excluding at least 99%.

      You wrote “Standardization which was based on ethnicity and later changed to territorial quota”

      Standardisation was presided over by a Muslim Minister. It was first based on the Language not Ethnicity. Only Muslims could enter through the English medium. Within a short time it was changed to district quota. Please explain how the district quota that advantaged Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese from disadvantaged districts at the expense of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim students from prosperous districts like Colombo Kandy Jaffna, Galle etc was discrimination when a Tamil student from Killinochchi could enter the University with lower marks than a Sinhala student from Galle, Kandy, Colombo etc? Please explain how Standardisation today is discriminative instead of being affirmative action?

      Please also remember that there is no such thing as a minority Province. The boundary of the Sinhala Kandyan Kingdom ran through Elephant Pass even when a Tamil kingdom existed in the North.

      Today Sri Lanka is the Land of all her citizens. No one has exclusive rights to any part of it.

      My post to Thiru of March 25, 2014 at 10:29 pm, will give you more details.

      Kind Regards
      OTC

  • 1
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    Priya Razeek,

    You have summarized the Sri Lankan situation very well. Would the majority community be humble and wise enough to agree with what you say?

    • 2
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      Sinhalease People are very nice and friendly people only when they remain as individuals. As a community they have failed in accommodating the Tamils and treating the Tamils equally.
      Sinhalease as a community never did the right thing in Politics.
      They have always voted for the party which was against the Tamils’ interest, they always supported the policies of parties which openly supported the oppression; they have always opposed the party which engaged with the Tamil Political leadership and entered into an agreement.

      • 0
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        Don’t write rubbish Thiru in order to fool the uninitiated.

        The Indian Tamils are Living on Sinhala Land stolen by the British. Have they been evicted and the Land returned to the rightful owners?

        Wonder how you would have treated them if 345,000 Indian Tamils (untouchable Low Casts) were domiciled in the North overwhelming the Lankan Tamil population which was slightly less than that number in 1881.

        Keep your separatist propaganda to yourself.

        Kind Regards
        OTC

    • 0
      0

      Oh is that so Thiru?

      Then you should not have any trouble responding to my post to you of March 25, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      Kind Regards
      OTC

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    The Russian annexation of Crimea cannot be criticized by the USA and EU on grounds of a violation of sovereign boundaries when USA/EU have continuously violated sovereign states in the past decade by subterfuge, instigating violence, in a blatant endeavour to expropriate assets of other countries, because US/EU economies were in dire straits. If international laws are to be taken seriously, then they must be respected by all equally. Otherwise they are mere gratuitous warnings on paper. The Crimean action by Russia has in fact exposed the West’s hypocrisy. Charitha Ratwatte in his analysis merely reiterates the Western propaganda without critical thinking. What democratic tendencies has the West enforced in Afghanistan, Tunisia, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and now attempted in Syria, and Iran? What has become of Pakistan, a relatively peaceful country, before the Americans intervened? Ratwatte’s view that language is the prime reason for the Russian move in Crimea is bunkum. What Russia did was to pre-empt America from completing her encirclement by NATO. Any one who studies recent history will see America’s motives in disrupting the old Russian satellites in Eastern Europe and where some of the largest NATO military bases in the world are now situated. I am not at all surprised that Russia decided to take offensive action. I would say it is the American greed that has precipitated this situation bringing the world to the brink of nuclear war. The ugliest Americans on earth are Obama and Kerry. Their faces reflect their hypocrisy. Ratwatte’s article lacks credibility and he seems to be out of his depth here. There is no way one can find similarities with Findlandization and Bhutanization. Crimea is no precedent for the Sri Lankan condition.

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    Crimea is an apt example and a useful one. When most of the residents are Russians and when they decided to look after their own affairs (self determination) and to joint the Russian Federation, we should not worry much.
    What we need to worry is whether India will be happy to accept the North – East of Sri Lanka or at least the North if a Referendum, monitored by International and / Or UN observers.

    Sri Lanka and Colombo political authorities cannot handle the minority affairs anymore and it is better for all people from south and west to north and east to decide amicably to give self determination to the Northern Province if not the merged North and East of Sri Lanka.

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      Thiru,

      You say “give self determination to the Northern Province”

      The Northern Province was an administrative division of the British. It does not reflect the boundary of the Jaffna Tamil Kingdom. The boundary of the Sinhala Kandyan Kingdom ran through “Elephant Pass”.

      Looks like you are looking for a way to Issue a Passport because NO TAMIL GOVT have the power to issue such an International Document.

      Equitable Devolution of Power – yes of course.

      Kind Regards,
      OTC

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    Western duplicity is NOT recognized above. Gorbachev , a decent man by any measure, was conned by the US/NATO alliance into dissolving the USSR (and the Warsaw alliance) with the proviso that NATO would not roll eastwards. The end of the Cold war was announced with great fanfare, but the naivity of the Russians was soon in evidence, and the western military machine kept a steady march to the east. With a drunkard like Yeltsin in power, there was no opposition, not even verbal. The state treasures were grabbed by a a few of the ‘elite’ thieves with the connivance of the Western. Russian pensioners were left to rummage in the bins for scraps of food.
    Luckily for them a saviour in the form of Putin appeared, and things changed though not dramatically. John F Kennedy had nearly taken the world into nuclear conflict because Kruschev wanted to station nuclear weapons in the vicinity of the US. When NATO wanted to do the same next to Russia, Russia had the right to respond, and respond it did. All the bling wrapped around the basic story cannot hide the truth.

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    If you can take a gift back,then kachativu also can be taken back.Jaya should have a referendum in kachativu first and depending on the result india can take it back if it wishes.The annexation of crimea is more like the kachativu gift than the north east srilanka.What Charitha said about kosovo is more like the north east because he says the legitimacy of the separation of kosovo was based on the serbs not treating the people of kosovo in a genocidal manner with ethnic cleansing.A red light flashing for the srilankan government there.What if they ignore the red light?

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    Excellent piece. The Holy Land is on notice.

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    I think The SriLankan Tamils have a more legitimate grievance than the Russians of Crimea. The North and East are occupied territories( by the army) for the last 55 years. This is against all international norms . Certainly India has the right to interfere with this kind of treatment delivered to Tamils.

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    The International Court ruled in the Kosovo Opinion that any ethnic entity can make a unilateral declaration on secession. It did not go beyond to contemplate the effects of this declaration. Presumably, it would be correct for every state to make its own response. Russia made its own response which was to absorb what was its earlier territory. The referendum was valid in that there was a legislature in Crimea which sanctioned the referendum.

    The Russians effectively re-enacted what NATO did in Kosovo. The Kosovo precedent justifies much of what the Russians did. There were no atrocities as in Kosovo but should one wait until atrocities occur? Ethnicity is going to dictate politics for a long time to come. In Africa and Asia, states were created for the convenience of imperial powers and left intact when colonialism ended, putting together disparate races, religions and tribes. Tensions have built up, resulting in violence and secession has become more accepted. Bangladesh, Eritrea, Southern Sudan were created through secession. Russia intervened in South Ossetia to rescue the people there from Georgia. International attitudes to secession are changing.

    The Tamil problem in Sri Lanka will come to be looked at differently. The entrenched Sinhala supremacist mindset does not allow a solution based on devolution. It resists even the 13th Amendment. The human rights transgressions in the NorthEast makes a case for separation more credible. THe more the army stays in there, the better is the case for saying that there is an occupation of Tamil people’s land. The competence of India is undoubted as the Indo-Sri Lanka Pact recognises India’s competence in the settlement of the ethnic dispute. It lays the ground for the argument that unless the obligations under the award are met, India must decide on what action is necessary to implement the Pact. At that juncture the making of a unilateral declaration of secession by the Northern Assembly raises interesting possibilities. The Sinhalese must observe caution and bring this chauvinistic charade of theirs to an end. It would be in their best interest to do so.

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      kabaragoya

      “The Tamil problem in Sri Lanka will come to be looked at differently.”

      What do you mean by Tamil problem?

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    As regarding India, there is something called Panicker’s Plan – a plan to expand India. It is only a matter of time, within which time Pakistan will be very weak and shattered because of the Islamic terrorists. Similarly Bangladesh too will be in shatters. Muslims may be majority in Kashmir, but with the passage of time, Kashmir will be back again as a Hindu State. There are other external factors which will have to be looked into – conditions in Iran and Afghanistan are not healthier for Pakistan to stage a claim for superiority in Asia. In China there is internal problem from the Muslims. We will have to wait for political turn of events for the next ten or fifteen years. Meanwhile Jayalalitha is gaining ground and there is a possibility that she might be offered the Primiership. Even if she is not made PM, she will have a powerful voice if Modi comes to power. One thing is certain – the neigbouring Islamic countries (including Sri Lanka) cannot wag their tails anymore. BJP & Jayaalitha are aware of how Sri Lanka is been utilized by Muslims or Sri Lanka utilizing Muslims. Apparently there will be internal problems within the ruling party and the intelligensia group may be kicked out, like how Dr.N.M.Perera was kicked out by Srimavo. Definitely the West will be on Jayalalitha’s side. India is going to be major Power which will have a strong voice.

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    1. India is not interested in annexing any territory.

    2. India doesn’t want to split any of the neighbouring countries.

    3. India just wants Lanka to treat Tamils justly. Give them what is due and bring in peace. India is primarily interested in peace there because of two reasons (i) This would dissuade other Sharks like China, USA, UK, Pakistan who want to fish in troubled waters. (ii) This would prevent extremism in Tamilnadu.

    4. Lankans should move out of their ethno-religious mindset which sees everything through a 2500 year old prism. They should open their eyes and see the ground reality. Whether British forcefully took Sinhala lands and settled Indian Tamils or whether old Sinhala Kingdom’s boundary was till elephant pass are not relevant in today’s world. There is vast difference between Tamils who lived thousand years ago. They might have invaded, looted, raped and carried Lankans as slaves to Tamilnadu. Those Tamils have gone (for good), the present day Tamils are a docile and peaceful community. Lankans need not be paranoid about them.

    5. Tamils are there in Lanka now, it is their homeland. They will remain there and they can’t be treated as aliens or second class citizens. If they are treated badly, then division of Lanka would be inevitable.

    6. The earlier these things are understood, it is better for Lankans.

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      Dear Just Like That,

      You say “Whether British forcefully took Sinhala lands and settled Indian Tamils or whether old Sinhala Kingdom’s boundary was till elephant pass are not relevant in today’s world”

      Of course it is relevant though it may not suit your agenda.

      The Land robbery dispossessing the Sinhalese of their farm lands and livelihood and State funded colonization of Indian ALIEN Tamils on these Lands has caused a landless Sinhalese peasantry of a million or more in “Today’s World”.

      The tolerance of the Sinhalese are underlined by the FACT that those who were robbed of their land did not attempt to evict the ALIENS occupying their land.

      Of course this is no concern of yours as the irrelevant Sinhalese Peasants can be kicked out.

      The Cleghorn Minute of 1799 and the British administrative boundaries are used to claim that the North and East as “Tamil Land” Please see even the recent Propaganda by Usha S Sriskander Raja the Goebbels type propagandist of the Transnational Govt of Tamil Eelam” (sic) (https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/sinhala-buddhist-bigotry-root-cause-of-strife-in-sri-lanka/)

      That claim is trashed by a Dutch National Archive record of OLDER VINTAGE proving irrefutably that the ORIGINAL Tamil Kingdom was bounded by the Sinhala Kandyan Kingdom at Elephant Pass, even before the Portuguese subjugated the Tamil Kingdom.

      NO ONE, not even the accomplished Goebbels, Usha of the TGTE has been able to counter the above fact. Try and do so if you can.

      Thus ALL Land South of Elephant Pass either to the East or to the West or Both is the HISTORICAL Land of the Sinhalese and not the Land of the Tamils as fraudulently claimed.

      The Sinhalese who were dispossessed of their farm Lands and livelihood should be settled somewhere and helped to establish a viable livelihood. Perhaps your race based humanity cannot recognize that.

      An attempt was made within the Gal Oya development scheme which was on historical Sinhala Land and the Racist Tamils shouted State aided colonization while turning a Nelsonian Eye to the greatest and ONLY State aided colonization in Sri Lanka, where numbers of ALIEN TAMILS exceeding the Lanka Tamil population were domiciled on Land ROBBED from the Sinhalese.

      Kindly propose a viable and humane alternative without ignoring the greatest problem of all time.

      My position is that Sri Lanka is the Land of All her citizens (those who hold current citizenship). There are no exclusive historical domains exclusively owned by any ethnicity. Sri Lanka’s resources should provide equal benefit to each citizen and hence should be shared equally and equitably.

      Kind Regards
      OTC

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    [Edited out]

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    There cannot be any any comparison of Crimea with North East Sri Lanka. North East Sri Lanka has never been part of India. Sri Lankan Tamils never considered themselves as part of India.

    When one looks at Crimea, it had been a part of Russia since 1783. It remained so until 1954 when Khruchev gifted it to the Ukraine Republic which of course remained an autonomous republic of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). It should also be noted that Crimea became an autonomous republic within Ukraine in 1991 albeit for a short time.

    Russia would not have engineered the annexation of Crimea if not for the US and EU machination to draw Ukraine away from Russia. As rightly pointed out by the Russian Foreign Minister, United States and the EU created the present Crimea crisis.

    No great power wants to be encircled by countries that become satellites of other powers. Why is the United States still trying to isolate Cuba and continues with its economic embargo against that country? Washington does not want a Communist neighbour. Same is true with Russia. Crimea is of great strategic importance to Russia. Russia’s Black Sea Fleet has been based in Crimea since 1783 and naturally Russia does not want it to fall into the hands of NATO.

    Though the United States and Britain are parties to the Budhapest Memorandum to protect the sovereignty of Ukraine, they cannot do much. The type of embargoes and sanctions placed by the United States will not hurt Russia.

    With over 60 per cent of Crimea’s population being Russian speaking and with an overwhelming support of the Crimeans for becoming part of Russia there is no way that Ukraine could regain Crimea.

    As for North East Sri Lanka, I do not think even the diehard LTTE supporters want their Eelam to be part of India.

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