26 May, 2022

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Betel Leaf Of Invitation, Olive Branch Of Reconciliation

By Ruwan Laknath Jayakody

Ruwan Jayakody

For some cuckolds, the predicament of humiliation also affords them a virile source of power.

For the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) to complain about the local, elected Tamil political leadership that represents the North and the East of the country, requesting the assistance of the Government of India led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi – specifically seeking the latter’s intervention on pressuring and assisting the GoSL for the purpose of achieving certain political aspirations of the Tamil speaking people of the two said Provinces, in particular those pertaining to the implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the holding of the Provincial Councils Polls – claiming instead that any related concerns these political parties have should be raised with President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, is akin to playing the political cuckold, when in actuality, it is engaged in a shrewd act of political cuckolding.

A total of seven political parties representing the Tamil speaking people in the North and the East, including among others, the Thamil Makkal Thesiya Kuttani (TMTK), the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), the Illankai Tamil Arasu Kadchi/Kachchi (ITAK), the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation, the Democratic People’s Liberation Front and the Eelam People’s Revolutionary Liberation Front, have, through a delegation led by TNA Leader and ITAK Parliamentarian R. Sampanthan, handed over a jointly signed letter addressed to Modi and the Indian Government, to the Indian High Commission, outlining certain concerns and the interventions sought. The leaders of these parties, it is reported, are to be afforded a meeting with the High Commissioner of India to Sri Lanka, Gopal Baglay soon.

The concerns raised in the letter pertain to seeking the full implementation of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the conduct of the Provincial Councils Elections (calls for which are also supported by the Tamil Progressive Alliance {TPA} which represents mostly Tamils of Indian origin in the upcountry areas); the implementation of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution on language rights, in both word and spirit; putting an end to the alleged systematic attempts made through acts of land grabbing to change the regional demographic patterns of the predominantly Tamil speaking North and East in a manner that is contrary to the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact (1957), the Dudley-Chelvanayakam Pact (1965), and the Indo-Lanka Accord (1987) {which the letter further alleges is taking place through the appropriation of Tamil border villages in the North and the East to Sinhala areas and vice versa, thereby altering the ethnic composition and making Tamils minorities in their own areas}; halting activities and attempts by the Archaeology Department, the Mahaweli Authority, the Forest Department, the Wildlife Conservation Department, the Tourist Board, and the Defence Ministry to allegedly destroy and/or pervert historical evidences that confirm the historical habitation of the North and the East as the traditional homelands of the Tamils; granting full citizenship status to Sri Lankan Tamils of Indian origin; the immediate repeal of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 48 of 1979; the implementation of the proportional representation electoral system; and the dissolution of the ‘One Country, One Law’ Presidential Task Force.

On the reasons for these minority parties turning to India through the submission of this set of common proposals, this is what the TPA Leader, MP Mano Ganesan had to say publicly: “India also has a responsibility towards the 13th Amendment to the Constitution. Do not criticize us by saying that we are taking Sri Lankan problems to the international community. It was Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who first took Sri Lankan problems to the international community in 1989. Yes – we need a united Sri Lanka; but, we also need a diverse Sri Lanka. We must stop the division and extremism in Sri Lanka. Our hope is to live equally in a united Sri Lanka. But the 13th Amendment to the Constitution is not our final hope. It is a Constitutional right and it is not a new thing. We demand that the Government enforce the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and challenge them to win the hearts of the Tamil speaking people”. The TMTK Leader, MP C.V. Wigneswaran said of the same that “the removal of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution by the proposed new Constitution would invalidate the Indo-Sri Lanka peace Accord which would in turn prevent India from being able to intervene in the issues of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka”.

In response, Cabinet Co-Spokesman Udaya Gammanpila has opined that if the parties representing the Tamil speaking population in the country have any concerns or worries, they must raise such with President Rajapaksa, instead of seeking the assistance of Modi, as Sri Lanka is a sovereign nation and as such, is not a part of the Union of India, while fellow Cabinet Co-Spokesman Dr. Ramesh Pathirana has claimed that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution has been fully implemented. Both statements by the Government Spokesmen are disingenuous to say the least, not to mention, factually, legally speaking, wholly erroneous in the case of Pathirana’s claim, when it was Premier Mahinda Rajapaksa who when he was the President, called for “13th plus (a reference to going beyond the 13th Amendment to the Constitution)”. Moreover, it is mighty white of Gammanpila and his cohorts to consider it acceptable to cherry pick national causes and to therefore run after India whenever it seeks aid for economic woes and to promote bilateral religious ties of meaning to the Sinhala Buddhists, but to decry the same as anathema, when a major segment of the country’s population – the Tamils, who with as much or perhaps more historical links to India, reach out to its neighbour on matters that the GoSL should equally be concerned with, yet, to much national detriment, is not – and instead declaiming such as conspiratorial attempts at bringing about meddlesome foreign and treacherous international intervention.

Furthermore, previous attempts by the TNA to meet President Rajapaksa have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed by Rajapaksa himself. Therefore, it is not as if they have not tried or for the lack of trying on the TNA’s part, as the President and the Government have consistently not shown any inclination to engage with the elected Tamil political representatives, let alone meet them halfway on the issue; instead, the latter, at best, have been stonewalled, and at worst, been greeted with a cold shoulder.

Also, the TNA, together with the Global Tamil Forum, the latter which has been proscribed by the Rajapaksa Government, despite occupying a moderate position within the Diaspora political space as far as the Sri Lankan situation is concerned, recently embarked on a high profile international tour which culminated in meetings with the United States State Department, where they requested the latter to be more involved, proactively engaged, together with India, to bring about change in conditions within Sri Lanka, by promoting a holistic approach to reconciliation, which would include addressing the root cause of the conflict, human rights violations, and the denial of political rights to the Tamil people, as addressing the legitimate aspirations of the Tamil people for equality, justice, peace, dignity, and meaningful power devolution is critical in guaranteeing non-recurrence. It is unlikely that the Government is oblivious to the said visit as it received media publicity. In this context, the letter to Modi is a last resort of sorts, having exhausted all options.

President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s idea of modern day reconciliation, per his recent policy statement speech, involves, setting aside the dark memories of the past and building a secure country where all sections of the community can coexist in peace, where all, irrespective of ethnic, religious, or political differences, must unite for this purpose, with the Government’s prime responsibility towards the reconciliation of the people in the North and the East being to provide facilities for economic security, sans discrimination. Specifically, he has urged MPs representing the Northern and Eastern areas to set aside various political ideologies, and to support the Government’s efforts to improve the living conditions of the people in the said areas.

TNA’s Spokesman and ITAK MP, President’s Counsel M.A. Sumanthiran has already criticized the absence of anything meaningful in this statement, as for as the national question is concerned.

A political solution to the national question, for these parties, involves meaningful power sharing in the form of power devolution under a federal structure, within the framework of a united Constitution. This is a serious concern to be dealt with seriously and in this regard, the President and the Government are duty bound to deal with such with the solemnity required for the task of negotiating a solution regarding the vexatious matter. As the President reminded in his maiden post-Election speech, he is the President for the entire country even though he did not receive the bulk of the votes of the North and the East.

President Rajapaksa has noted that a key policy from his Vistas of Prosperity and Splendour policy statement is to introduce a new Constitution that fulfils the people’s wishes, in short, a people friendly Constitution. Broad public consultation that is a requisite of any attempt at framing a people friendly Constitution requires earnest engagement which is yet to been seen a la the treatment meted out to the elected Tamil political leadership by the Government which seems more in line with a sense of enforced alienation or outright rejection. Perhaps, the Government could learn a lesson by running with the hare and hunting with the hounds instead of making foes out of potential allies, one’s own countrymen for that matter.

It is not the extension of the olive branch of reconciliation that is missing from the debate regarding a political solution for the national question but the offering of the betel leaf of invitation for the purpose of the practical commerce of intellectual discourse towards the path of genuine and organic reconciliation.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    2

    Economic development is important, but that alone (only bread!) will not meet the aspirations of the Tamil people. There are so many other grievances too that must be addressed and rectified at the same time. Is that too much to ask for?
    Unfortunately, it seems impossible to drum this into the head of any Sinhala politician at all. In this respect, there is hardly any difference between the monolingual Sinhala politicians and the Sinhala politicians who are also highly conversant in English and might be expected to know better – e.g. Dr. Ramesh Pathirana.

  • 5
    1

    When an army deserter becomes the President of a country with his family support enjoy the plums of power and privileges as if Sri Lanka is their grandfather’s kingdom: this presidential system that was promulgated by old-fox J.R.J to remain in power until his life, has failed since then for all minorities (including religious communities ) the problem they are faced within Sri Lanka. Even 225 elected M.PP have no power under this system. ” Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts further”.

    • 0
      2

      Pon Lanka
      “Even 225 elected M.PP have no power under this system. ”
      Elected MPs have no power under any system. They HAVE to vote along the party line. This so called Westminster model is a shared dictatorship among party leaders. MPs are mere pawns.
      Ask for confidential voting in the Parliament if you desire true representation.
      The system with or without a President has never been any obstacle for embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism, favoritism, impunity and irresponsibility.
      It is the Parliament that enacted, 18A and 20A not all powerful Presidents.
      In fact all powerful Presidents are created by Parliament most ‘democratically’
      Cheers.

      Soma

  • 5
    1

    Ruwan Jayakody,
    There is no issue the Sinhalese people, including their politicians, are not aware of. But, they are not concerned about those, because they are not affected by the pain and suffering of the Tamils.
    .
    Is India concerned about Sri Lanka not implementing 13A. No. For, that leaves them the opportunity to interfere into the affairs of Sri Lanka at an hour of their choosing.

  • 1
    4

    TNA is seeking a political solution for Hindu/Christian community in Jaffna.
    India should not get involved in religious/caste divisions among the Tamils.
    In favoring Hindu/Christian community in Jaffna India puting the East under the North AND consolidating a second class status for all other Tamils presently occupying Sinhala majority provinces.

    .TNA have been using various permutations and combinations of ‘Tamils’, Tamil People , Tamil Speaking People ,Tamil Nation, Ealam Tamils, Eazam Tamils etc. etc, several in the same breadth leaving us confused all the time. Objective is to bamboozle India and International community, but in fact mean Hindu/Christian community in Jaffna.
    .
    Logically speaking Sun God was right in respect of creating an Ealam. Once a ‘solution’ is cemented with the help of India that will be there till eternity leaving no room for further manipulation – Vadukodai resolution will be buried under Jaffna sand. Sinhala supporters of full 13A have this in mind.
    .
    I am opposed to full 13A because that entails land and police powers to Sinhala majority provinces.

    Soma

  • 3
    0

    TNA is not seeking a political solution for the Hindu/Christian community. On the contrary, it is seeking a political solution based on a federal structure comprising Northeast and within a united/undivided Ceylon. This has been the demand of the Federal Party (ITAK) Tamils right after independence in 1948. A federal form of government where power will be devolved to the peripheral is the ideal solution in a country comprised of more than one ethnicity.

    Switzerland is smaller than Ceylon both in terms of population (8.5 million) and area (39,997 km2) but enjoys prosperity thanks to a blend of direct democracy and federalism. Both are hallmarks of the Swiss political system. It has four official as well as national languages viz German (63%) French (22.9%) (and English is spoken widely), Italian (8.2%) and Romansh (0.5%). In contrast, Ceylon has only 2 languages.

    Economic prosperity depends on political stability. Sri Lanka is going around the globe with begging bowls because of a lack of political stability and communal peace.

    The present economic crisis is partly due to the 30 years of war and partly due to the white elephants built by Mahinda Rajapaksa in Hambantota on borrowed loans.

  • 0
    2

    Thanga.
    TNA wants a federal unit for Northeast. Right?
    Now do Tamil Muslims in the Northeast or any Sinhalese in the East consider TNA as their representatives or does TNA claim to represent them? – let us not kid ourselves.
    This ‘Tamil Nation’ simply get reduced to Hindu/Christian community in the Northeast.
    Again Thanga the word Northeast is a non existent entity as North and East are two separate provinces.
    Now if a referendum is held to merge these two how the majority in the Eastern province will poll in your opinion?
    Are TNA fools to guess the outcome?
    That leaves only the Nothern province minus Tamils who practise Islam.
    That being the case am I unreasonable in claiming that TNA is seeking a political solution for Hindu Christian community in Jaffna?
    Haven’t TNA been maintaining a totally fraudulent posture all throughout using various permutations and combinations of ‘Tamils’, Tamil People , Tamil Speaking People ,Tamil Nation, Ealam Tamils, Eazam Tamils etc. etc when in fact their representation is confined to Hindu/Christian community in Jaffna? Obviously they cannot force their representation down other people’s throats.

    • 0
      2

      Thanga
      I skipped your entire paragraph starting with Switzerland,
      If Sri Lankans were Switzerlaners there would never have been a Vadukodai resolution and a consequent 30 year war.
      Tamil Nadu is twice as big and four times the population, yet there is no demand for further subdivision.

      Soma

    • 0
      2

      Thanga
      I repeat India should not get involved in religious/caste divisions among the Tamils.
      In favoring Hindu/Christian community in Jaffna India is puting the East under the North AND consolidating a second class status for all other Tamils ( Tamil speaking people) presently occupying Sinhala majority provinces.

      Soma

  • 3
    0

    Ruwan Jayakody
    When were you born?
    In my opinion Tamil parties should not go for a talk with this mass murder Kotabaya unless he give a list of things he is going to do with a proper road map. Otherwise it is a waste of time talking to these Sinhalese politicians. Can you trust them?
    What happened to SWRD Pact https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._J._V._Chelvanayakam#Bandaranaike%E2%80%93Chelvanayakam_Pact , DC Pact https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._J._V._Chelvanayakam#Dudley-Chelvanayakam_Pact, , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-Sri_Lanka_Accord and talk with murderers brother MR LTTE trusted him and asked tamils not to vote for UNP

    • 4
      0

      The D.S. Policy
      “ONE of the cardinal principles on which this Party was built and which attracted to its fold several leaders of minority communities was the assurance of equal rights and opportunities to all citizens of this Country regardless of race, creed, or language.
      The late Mr. D. S. Senanayake in the course of a memorandum to the Minister of Education in 1949 stated: “Nor again should it be forgotten that our essential task is to create a nation and that our people speak not one language but two or perhaps three.
      “Language distinctions must be continued because we are not prepared as a nation to lose any part of our cultural heritage, Aryan or Dravidian, but those distinctions must be kept on a cultural plane and not be allowed to create communal distinctions in spheres where they are irrelevant. Whatever be the medium of instruction we must ensure that Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and Burghers shall be able to serve in any part of Ceylon.'”

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