19 September, 2020

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British Tamil Forum Whistling In The Dark

By Kumar David

Prof Kumar David

13A or the Right to Self-Determination?

Although Tamils in Lanka pretty clearly know what they want, and more important, what they don’t want (Colombo hegemony and the military jackboot), many but not all in the diaspora still live in the BP-era (before Prabaharan, or pre-May 2009). Some call for secession (Thamil Eelam); they ask that Tamils be allowed to exercise the right to self-determination and explicitly call on the people to opt for secession. Of course this is theoretical because I cannot see in-country Tamils demanding a referendum in the foreseeable future, or a Sinhalese government (ever) holding one. Millennial terms like “ever” are faulty; but I think you get my drift.

I don’t take these people seriously in political work because in-country Tamils ignore them; it would be appropriate to call them cloud cuckoo land Eelamists. The funny thing is that only the JHU, BSS and Gota pretend to take them seriously because it is a peg on which to hang anti-13A, anti-Tamil postures with fairy tales of separatists crouching behind every palmyra tree. The nursery tale would be amusing if the said palmyras were in London and Toronto!

There is another tendency in the diaspora, a fairly influential one, which expressly roots for self-determination, but does not explicitly call for Eelam; the British Tamil Forum or BTF (not to be confused with the Global Tamil Forum or GTF about whom I wrote in this column on 24 February and 17 March). I am not such a suckling babe to be unaware that many in the BTF prefer secession, but it does not nail that demand to its masthead. The BTF’s position seems to be that Tamils must be consulted on whether they wish to secede, but will bow before a free and fair referendum. Anyone who grants that the Tamil people are a nation (I cannot here discuss what nation means in a globalised world) cannot theoretically disagree in the abstract. However, I have a different problem with the BTF; at this time it is baying at the moon, chasing rainbows and separating itself from the real struggle on the ground. It is cockeyed in aligning de facto with JHU, Rajapakse and Wimal Weerwansa, in attacking and demeaning the Thirteenth Amendment at this moment. It resides not inBritain but on the planet Mars.

What the BTF says

To be perfectly fair I quote at length from the BTF statement of 16 June.

QUOTE: The 13th  Amendment has several flaws: executive power will be exercised by a Provincial Governor appointed by the President; public services in the province will be controlled by the Governor; the President has the power to dissolve the Provincial Council; the Governor is not duty bound to the advice or instructions of the Chief Minister; the executive power of the Governor is subject to the control of the President; the Provincial Council cannot access the Provincial Fund without the sanction of the Governor; power over the police and public order is retained by the President; and the Disposition of State Land is also in the hands of the President; among many others.

In contrast (to the chauvinists), certain external actors (presumably BTF is even more scornful of internal actors!) who aspire to play the role of ‘saviour’ in the Tamil-Sinhalese political arena are pushing for implementation of the 13th Amendment in its entirety, in the pretext of rescuing the Tamils inSri Lanka. On these grounds, the British Tamils Forum stands in solidarity with our people in our Tamil Homeland and state that any political initiatives grounded in the 13th Amendment cannot be feasible and will not create an enduring peace inSri Lanka.

The British Tamils Forum insists that any political solution to the Tamil National Question has to be conducted through an internationally mediated referendum – only this can lay the foundation for a lasting peace and satisfy the socio-political and economic aspirations of the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka”: END QUOTE. (My comments are italicised).

The opening paragraph is faultless but the next two are wrong. What contempt for those outside the august body of know-all Tamils, such as foreign governments, progressives, and parties in the South, who stand against Rajapakse-JHU-Weerawansa’s machinations to reset political balances prior to the NPC elections! What is the inner thesis encapsulated in BTF’s ill thought out statement? Reflection exposes its impact, if any and I hope none, on struggles in streets and parliaments in Lanka; lovely ladies and brave gentlemen warming their arses in armchairs in London are not exposed to any of this reality.

(a) Message 1: Don’t worry about the power struggle between chauvinists and those, however imperfect, compared to the aforesaid lily livered ladies and gentlemen, on the ground. We on the ground know that victory for the chauvinists will be no pyrrhic victory; it will tilt the balance against minorities and erode democracy further. The BTF cares for none of this.

(b) Message 2: Rajapakse’s motive in undermining the truncated residual powers of 13A prior to the NPC elections is not significant, thinks BTF. He is getting into this fight since the cricket matches are washed out and he has nothing to do in the evenings! That an anti-Rajapakse NPC will factor in curtailing his monopoly of state power does not figure in BTF thinking.

(c) Message 3:  Yesterday was Midsummer Night, so it’s time for Madness. In BTF’s apparition the pertinent issue is to demand a referendum on secession, oblivious to the plain fact that it does not flicker in local Tamil radar screens. Mobilising to counter the chauvinist and religious extremist menace is irrelevant, in BTF’s grand scheme of things. On midsummer night, shoot at the moon with a catapult, never mind impending peril on terra firma.

(d) Message 4: Don’t get into real world battles; leave that to others so BTF skulls won’t get cracked. Where was BTF when hundreds of leftists, democrats and progressives died withstanding the storm unleashed by JVP extremists when 13A was enacted? Why did Sinhala chauvinism unleash it? Unlike dim-witted Prabaharan and the LTTE, chauvinists knew what they loathed – concessions to Tamils. How does the BTF evaluate past endorsement of LTTE folly and the latter’s paradoxical, murderous yet suicidal, rejection of compromise with India, Chandrika, the West and every Sinhalese?

Gathering storm

I spent all the last weekend at a study camp for trade union leaders and young people, about 40 in all, that Mahinda Ratnayake, Sumanasiri Liyanage and I organised on the national question and how to stem the racist rot in trade unions. Participants said the camp good, but that’s not or me to judge as co-organiser. What is relevant to this piece is that an afternoon was devoted to energetic and astute discussion of the most urgent issue of the moment – NPC elections, attacks on 13A, crisis in government, extremist monks and Muslims, polarisation in UNP and JVP, and related issues.

Unsurprisingly for participants at this level (that is with plenty of political experience and a grasp of the significance of the deadly struggle now in progress) the conclusion was that defeating Rajapakse’s new strategy is crucial. What will defeating the regime look like? Forcing it to hold NPC polls, preventing repeal 13A, and pushing back 13A changes to nil, or to minimal cosmetic provisions that Rajapakse grudgingly settles for to save face and appease the JHU. Can all this be achieved; well there were a range of assessments but on one thing there was absolute resolve. It is of the utmost importance to mobilise politically and in the trade union movement to take on and push back the monster. People with their feet planted the ground and a perception of the needs the times and the BTF do not live on the same planet.

In closing I must say that the fight is not an easy one. The government is throwing ample resources into the campaign. Is the budgetary allocation for Wimal’s Ministry earmarked for public purposes or is it a grant of tens of millions for an anti-13A, anti-NPC dirt campaign? If an auditor gets down to the job he will soon conclude the latter. The Sinhala electronic and print media is saturated with a hate campaign with the same objective. Still, it is possible to force a setback on the regime and its chauvinist allies if the unity of liberal democrats (including about 30 government parliamentary group MPs and some SLFP Ministers), progressives and leftists holds, and if international support remains steadfast. In counting up 30 I have in mind Rajitha Senaratne and a determined group around him, the SLMC, five LSSP-CP-DLF members mobilised through a charge led by DEW in Cabinet, and Thonda’s people. It’s doable, but no thanks to the BTF.

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Latest comments

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    Kumar David:

    You have ideology and greed. Yet,there are many facts that you don’t know.

    Understand one thing, even here Tamils cannot agree.

    Think, after so much bickering you got TAMILNADU from South india. did the south Indian tamils get a better life. Only thing happened was It created filthy rich Tamil politicians.

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      Actually jimsofty you are wrong. Tamilnadu is one of india’s success stories. The per capita income levels and living standards of tamilnadu are actually much above the rest of india.

      Yes there are issues regarding corruption but which part of india doesn’t have these issues. Infact it’s the north of india which lags behind in terms of living standards.

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        ABCD is that why Tamil Nadu is so filthy and dirty. No proper sanitation where the sides of the road and rail tracks are the loos!
        See the living conditions of Tamil asylum seekers for the past 20/30 years! See those camping areas and those in Sri Lanka where they were kept for a short time and sheltered thereafter.

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    KR

    I don’t think you can write off Thamil Eelam completely. Mahinda’s madness can still bring about Thamil Eelam. It all depends on how mad he could become. Remember Northern Cyprus still prevails.

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      Does any one remember Biafra? That is another scenario that should not be conveniently ignored.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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        RN

        Is there any similarity between Biafra & Northern Cyprus? Are you confused?

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        Biafra problem took place 50 years ago. At that time only states which were under colonial rule were gaining independence. There was no chance of splitting any internationally accepted borders. Also Biafra problem was over economic injustice where Ibos felt that the revenue from their petrol fields were being channeled to outside their areas. After crushing the resistance by starving the people and military suppression, the government of Nigeria corrected the anomalies. Now the world has changed and new states are being born from existing independent states. The first such one was Bangladesh and Turkish Cyprus the next, but both were liberated by foreign armies, and not by the freedom fighters. If the Srilanka state supported by majority of the Sinhalese refuse to grant justice to Tamils to live in one country as equals and ruling their lands of historic habitation, what do you expect the Tamils in particular and international community in general to do.
        If the current state of affairs continue with Srilanka government continuing their racist actions, birth of Ealam with foreign diplomatic and/or military intervention is inevitable.

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        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        “Does any one remember Biafra? That is another scenario that should not be conveniently ignored.”

        The IC has recognised 60 new state over the past 40 years since 1970.

        In principle you cannot prevent another new state emerging.

        Geo politics and Geo economics determine the outcome of any new arrangements.

        The following Hindu report prove the point:

        Union Minister Sudarsana Natchiappan on Sri Lankan ties

        CHENNAI, June 24, 2013

        “A peaceful neighbourhood is necessary for industrial development”

        Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry E.M. Sudarsana Natchiappan on Sunday said any decision against Sri Lanka should be made after considering the far-reaching consequences on the strategic relationship between the two countries and the interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

        “I appreciate the feelings of those who have organised demonstrations against providing training to Sri Lankan Army officials [in Indian military facilities]. But you should not forget that they have the option of approaching China if India turned its back on them. It will not augur well for India, a close neighbour of Sri Lanka,” Mr Natchiappan told The-Hindu.

        Mr Natchiappan said India already had problems along the borders it shared with Pakistan and it could not afford to create a situation that would disturb peace along the Palk Straits. The Minister said any decision against Sri Lankan government would have a direct bearing on the Tamils in Sri Lanka and Tamil refugees living in India.

        He argued that war conditions in Sri Lanka had an adverse impact in the past on the growth of industry in the Southern districts of Tamil Nadu despite existence of adequate infrastructure.
        He said a peaceful neighbourhood was necessary for industrial development.

        “Fear prevented industrialists from making investments in the southern districts. There is a harbour in Tuticorin, an international airport in Madurai and another airport in Tuticorin. Still we cannot attract investment,” he said.

        Hindu – CHENNAI, June 24, 2013

        Please note all strategic decisions and outcomes are made outside the island.

        Stupid Tamils and stupid Sinhalese are merely cannon fodder in IC’s Great Games. Tamils learned it the hard way and Sinhalese too.

        Another round of changes in strategic decisions backed by force or otherwise would make it clear to the Sinhalese/Buddhists the end game is played by outside forces not by their stupid soldiers and leaders.

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          Raja & RN
          Thanks for this healthy debate. Without india’s blessing TE should not be and will not be born. Stupid Mahinda, Gota et al are pushing India, I’m glad, to go down the path of northern Cyprus formula. If a future Indian PM decides to go down this path I have no doubt there will be massive international endorsement for India.
          Knowing what happened in Biafra, Rudrakumar & Balasinghams donkeys collaborated with Prabaharan donkey to resurrect Biafra in TE. I will never forgive these donkeys.

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            Native Veddah and Real Peace,

            I had a fellow- post graduate student from Biafra , while working for my doctorate. I had first hand. Information on the tragedy that was unfolding in Biafra from him. What happened in the Vanni during the last war was not dissimilar. In many ways it was our Biafra. We have to learn lessons from failures more. There have been as many or more failures in various parts of the world, as were the successes that are touted. Where there were successes there were vested interests involved, which had something to gain commercially or strategically. The US got involved in the newly independent Pakistam through SEATO. See where Pakistan is today! Where is SEATO?

            In whose pocket are East Timor and North Sudan, and for what reasons? Was any altruism involved in the motives of those helped create these states?

            Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

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          The foreign power-brokers are said to ensure that decisions and outcomes are made outside the island as stated by my foolish cousin “Native veddha” (who actually landed here recently).

          They had a chance in 2013. Milbrand and Couchnere and Mary Colvin, and Nambia and others came at the crucial hour. Solheim was doing his best.
          It did not work. In the middle-east Bush-Blair–Rumsfeld et al tried to bring the arabs under their heel — and it did not work. In Syria, Egypt and Libya the `arab springs’ are now in the hands of the Muslim fundamentalists.
          Go back to even the Vietnam era, and the `big external powers’ failed to hold against the locals. Anyway veddhas should’t know history!
          So, unless the resolve of the Sinhalese could be fractured, there is not much chance of what the `Native Veddha’ is dreaming — this comes from drinking too much fermented `honey’ that the now commercialized Veddhas get from Dankotuwa, before they retreat to the Vanni to claim that they are true native Veddhas.

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        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        Tamilnadu commendator Manisekaran Thangavelu has offered to help the young widows and children.

        Would like to help him.

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          Native Veddah,

          He should first visit Sri Lanka and see the north , east and the rest of the island. I appreciate his interest in Sri Lanka and the Tamils. However, he does not know enough about affairs as they stand today to even volunteer to help the young widows and orphans. Further, why not the older widows, how old should the orphans be, to be helped.

          Dr. Rajasingham Narendran.

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    It’s interesting to see how far the British Tamils Forum and it’s precursors have declined in the UK since the heady days of the LTTE’s last stand just over 4 years ago. Then they had the UK Labour Party’s Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, dancing to their tune and some months later the new Conservative Foreign Secretary, William Hague, grovelling in front of them.

    Now that is gone and they are left with only a handful of British MPs with Tamil-British voters in their constituencies plus the support of the small UK Trotskyist sect the UK Socialist Party.

    All this due to the BTF’s deluded thinking about the nature of their influence and their failure to appreciate the British people’s deep abhorrence of terrorism and political extremism, particularly from immigrant communities.

    It’s pretty obvious that many Tamil-British people realise this and are walking away from the British Tamils Forum in large numbers and leaving it to the extremists to take over what’s left of it. Given the nature of fundamentalist and extremist thinking, further disintegration in the BTF is inevitable. That will give mainstream Tamils in the West the opportunity to regain their social and political culture from the criminals and terrorists who hijacked it 30 years ago.

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    Kumar, your analysis of Gota, BBS, JHU fighting wind mills by whipping up anti Tamil Diaspora Sinhala nationalism to gain political mileage rather than because the diaspora present any clear and present danger in Lanka is spot on..
    If at all the diaspora presents a danger to the Rajapassa brother’s military dictatorship and land grab.

    Gota and JHU whip up the anti diaspora rhetoric to justify the massive military budget and Gota’s militarization slush funds (which should rather be spent on Health and education).
    Militarization and the Diaspora is an EXCUSE prepare to fight the next war against the Sinhalaya modayas of the opposition who want to get rid of the Rajapassa military dictatorship – whose days are numbered.

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      Kapila
      Another dimension to your perspective is that the vociferous BTF which consists of a few Tamil refugee layabouts living off benefits is that it works hand in glove with the Rajapakse sibling military regime.It is a mirror image of the JHU and Buddo Balu Sangamaya.

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    WONDERFUL! The British Tamil Forum is one of the main Eelamist Tamil Diaspora organizations. If they don’t want Power Devolved under the 13th Amendment, then the GOSL will NEVER satisfy the Eelamist Tamil DEMANDS with it, because it is the Eelamist Tamil Diaspora that is driving the pressure brought to bear on Sri Lanka by Western countries to devolve power.

    It is JUST AS WE HAVE SAID ALL ALONG: No reasonable accommodation can be achieved with the Eelamists that does not give them a base and the power to proceed towards Eelam. Even now they want what amounts to outright secession, just as the late unlamented Velupillai Prabhakaran wanted all along. He fought when he felt powerful, and talked when he was on the ropes, but NEVER BUDGED from his goal of an INDEPENDENT EELAM STATE. So it is with the Eelamists of today.

    Therefore, AT LEAST NOW, dear Mr. President, TAKE A STAND and set an EARLY DATE for a NATIONWIDE REFERENDUM (NOT a REFERENDUM in the Northern and/or Eastern Provinces only) to REPEAL the 13th Amendment and DISSOLVE the Provincial Council System, and LET ALL OF THE SOVEREIGN PEOPLE OF Sri Lanka DECIDE the ISSUE!

    The RIGHT TO ELECT one’s candidates to the National Parliament is FRANCHISE ENOUGH for any Law Abiding Citizen. Only SEPARATISTS and Provincial Council BUREAUCRATS trying to hang on to their with CUSHY JOBS paid by the Sri Lankan Taxpayer want Provincial Councils.

    GET RID OF ALL Provincial Councils, they are a source of ABUSE & WASTE, and are a GRAVE THREAT to the INTEGRITY OF THE COUNTRY. Tiny Sri Lanka DOES NOT NEED another layer of EXPENSIVE & UNNECESSARY BUREAUCRACY to harass the people …. it makes Sri Lanka NON_COMPETITIVE in the Global Marketplace!

    NEVER …. NEVER ….. NEVER let the UNREPENTANT SEPARATISTS Control Provincial Councils, or we will have COMMUNAL WARFARE AGAIN in Sri Lanka!

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      Ananda, please change your name as you don’t seem to be a ananda (happy) man..!!

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        Actually, I think I attained much happiness, perhaps equivalent to the Sakrudagami stage of enlightenment, on May 19, 2009, when Sri Lanka was finally liberated from Eelamist Tamil terrorism; something I had prayed everyday for 30 long years.

        If Sri Lanka gets RID of the 13th Amendment this year, and shakes it self free of that Indian Ball & Chain, and resumes her journey on a stable path to communal peace and harmony as ONE Nation, I think I will attain happiness at an even higher level, perhaps equivalent to the Anagami stage of enlightenment.

        My concern for the survival of ALL of our People in Sri Lanka, no matter what race, reliogion, language, or caste, compels me to write the TRUTH as I see it, with justice and fairness towards the DESERVING, but none at all for the WICKED. Perhaps that separates me from those Buddhists who listen to our enemies and wait passively to be ANNIHILATED practicing their “Panchaseela” rigorously to the very end.

        This essential difference, I suppose, will prevent me from attaining further happiness at the Arahat level, and Nirvana upon my passing. No matter what multivarious theories of happiness predict, I think love of others motivating the desire to defend and protect, must somewhere trump the self-serving love of oneself.

        I will strive with the assistance of the Noble Triple Gem, the all knowing Lord Buddha, his immortal message of The Dhamma, with the aid and advice of The Clergy, to end my life on an even happier note having tried my very best to help the living in Sri Lanka.

        Thank you ever so much for your concern about my happiness. May you attain Nibbana!

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        ‘Real peace’ what a load of rubbish.Go and preach your peace to the hungry malnourished people on this planet! How many poor nations produce arms and ammunition? The biggest income from exports are earned by the rich western nations + a few others. To attain peace in this world you will have to stop them from producing and selling weapons. Will they do it – never.

        Attain peace when you depart from this earth!

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      Ananda Mahathwaya,
      You don’t like to give something you believe you have. You hate giving or releasing what you believe as yours !!!
      Think again, do you really have something, a land with boundaries surveyed and legalized by Suddas. So you are putting so much effort to maintain those Sudda defined land boundaries !!! Start to learn giving and releasing. Human lives and limited time they can live are much more important than land boundaries defined by our fathers or Suddas

      Anura.

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    //the British Tamil Forum or BTF (not to be confused with the Global Tamil Forum or GTF about whom I wrote in this column on 24 February and 17 March).//

    Hillarious to read this. GTF is an umbrella organisation of Tamil organisations around the globe and BTF is the UK arm of GTF. Just becuase GTF/BTF gave the professor free air ticket to London, he shouldn’t hide the facts.

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      Is it not a travesty to impersonate someone not only with his name but also with his initials?

      It is the meritorious that are not only invited but also paid for their time and trouble. This is standard practice among the cultured and sophisticated. I am sure this type of cheap exchange is judged, as it should be.

      Dr. N. Satchi U. K

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    The writing is on the wall for the Diaspora Deadbeats. GTF, BTF and lesser lights can pack up and resign themselves to a future of pumping gas and parking cars in Toronto, London, Melbourne and other exotic destinations. Tha sad fact is that, rather than stand and fight, they ran away from their much beloved Eelam leaving the remaining women and children to take their place. Now they raise their soiled verti’s and holler from afar much to the bemused consternation of the locals. Last week an exasperated London bobby outside the Oval cricket ground confessed ‘hell! I can’t tell one bloody lot from the other’. The future of tamils in SL rest with those, tamils, sinhalese, muslims and others living in SL. The GOSL must be unequivocal in declaring that all Pre-May 2009 plans, including 13a, died with VP and his suicidal band of losers. India had their chances to influence the LTTE/Tamil leaders – they failed. Their best hope is to make constructive proposals that will help the reconciliation and rehabilitation process that is underway in SL at this moment. Veiled threats will only end up being laughed at.

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    Divide and rule at play.

    Rev SJ Emmanuel’s BTF opposed 13 amendment while Rev Kasippu Joseph wants 13 amendment.

    Ultimately they don’t go anywhere!

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      Please do not address Emmanuel Suppiah and Kassipu Joseph as “Rev.” They are a disgrace to the religious vestments they wear. The Catholic church must ex-communicate these so called priests. Where were their leadership during 20/30 years of LTTE terrorism? Gave absolution to murderous suicide bombing terrorist vermin.

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    There is absolutely no need for the 13th Amendment. The PCs are an absolute waste of money and another layer of elected and unelected money grabbers. Those who intended to get hold of a thierd of the land mass of Sri Lanka using baseless claims must not get their way. To those who do not wish to live in Sri Lanka Canada beckons.
    The LTTE masquerades as the BTF in Britain, consisting of all the evil elements of Tamil racism. Never allow them back into Sri Lanka.

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    Professor David Kumar and Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

    These two must have their Chromosomes, Genes and DNA examined to see where did they lose their heritage.
    I am sure when thing turn around they will sway the other way. We did not lose the war we are simply advancing in another more politically acceptable direction.What these two nondescripts of unknown fatherhood don’t know is freedom is an unshakable fortress. If I am wrong ask Mahinda Rajapaksa he knows the ground realities better these two people. Let him tell these people what the realities is. We have encircled Sri Lanka and the noose is tightening slowly, the change is so tacit they have no intellectuality to comprehend.
    The Singhalese people are so concerned that the end is nearing. The umbilical code connecting to China will be severed soon.
    The Tamil people are acting in a prudent manner, not that they don’t care but they cannot care. In the presence of an unreasonable enemy prudence is the weapon of choice. Patience and Prudence are weapons not a state of defeat.

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    Prof Kumar David might be trying to take the Sri Lankans down the ‘Garden Path’ and soften the stance of those Sri Lankans’ opposing the Indian forced 13A powers to the Provinces, by projecting a false notion that the Tamil Diaspora cannot effectively interfere in Sri Lankan affairs.

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