By Paul Newman –
The whole discussion between Kusaliah arguing on the side of the Sinhalese, Ms.Usha arguing on the side of the Diaspora, Pon.Chandran and me on the side of the Human Rights fraternity in India (thanks to Kusaliah who branded both of us as Tamil activists from his earlier stand of Human Rights activists) centered around the main theme of “Referendum” Call For “Thamil Eezham” Could It Serve SL Tamils in Sri Lanka ? The whole phrase was coined by Kusaliah who had circulated his ideas to me in Bangalore, Chandran in Tamilnadu and other friends. After many years of intellectual friendship he has realized that all of us here on the other side of the Palk straits are emotional, till we responded we were all intellectual, I presume!
The two articles I wrote in response to Kusaliah were focused on the words he had used to describe the students movement as ‘riffraff’s’ and the mainstream political parties as ‘fringe groups’.
The principle laid down by Kusaliah is that we should not talk about kingdoms of the past, if that is agreed upon and if the Sinhalese have accepted the British set up of amalgamating the Tamil homeland into the Sinhalese, they should also accept that the Indian Tamils who came to enrich Sri Lanka and boost its economy are its citizens and take back those who have been ‘returned to India’ after the Sastry-Sirimavo agreement of 1964. Is Kusaliah ready to accept that proposition?
To him the Tamil diaspora is a non-entity and only the TNA should voice its concern. Without giving the context in which Mr.Sampanthan spoke Kusaliah just quoted him as saying. ‘Diaspora should not dictate to us’. All of us recognize that the TNA is the genuine voice of the Tamils and I have asserted that in my previous article. Today TNA has started support groups in London and Toronto, when TNA as the genuine representatives of the Tamils want the involvement of the Diaspora who are also daughters and sons of the soil, who is Kusaliah to snatch that right from them?
To all the Sinhalese who have a mindset that the world should not interfere in their affairs, let me tell you that just last week you sent the barbaric Sri Lankan army as part of the UN peace keeping force to Haiti. Let me also tell you friends that ‘Human Rights have no boundaries’, it is the new religion of the world. We have to raise it even when mass graves are found at Matale or any place in the south.
Chandran and I have raised the issues of Referendum and Self Determination of Tamils in the North and East. We never imagined that Kusaliah would be such a conservative thinker confining his thinking to only the solutions put forward by the Sinhala rulers. The proposals for the solution to the ethnic problem should come from the victimized Tamils rather than the Sinhala perpetrators.
Kusaliah cleverly deviates by equating Prabhakaran and Mahinda Rajapakse. I would say it is absurd to bring in Prabhakaran and equate him with Mahinda which is nothing but justifying the great deeds of a democratically elected leader of a state to that of a leader of a non-state actor. In the name of ‘war against terror’, the sovereign state of Sri Lanka with International help wiped out the Tamils at Mullivaikal and later we have Kusaliah justifying it saying Prabhakaran is equally responsible for it!
One must remember that the large scale blood bath took place after LTTE had no control over the Tamil civilians during the last few days of the war and more than 150,000 Tamils had already crossed over and the rest were trapped in the so called ‘No Fire Zones’, where the Sri Lankan armed forces had a field day. All along I thought it was the duty of the state to protect its citizens whatever be the provocations.
I must remind him that International law is applicable to States as they are signatories to International Covenants and Instruments and are part of the UN structure and non-state actors are tried according to the constitution of the law and that is how you have many Tamils still elusive on the pretext of being part of the LTTE. We must realize that Prabhakaran is no more where as Mahinda and his family is still at the helm of affairs.
Easily Kusaliah plays into the hands of the Chauvinistic Sinhalese by saying, “Prabhakaran failed to deliver and instead left them without houses, without land, without proper income and most of all, without justice to their loved ones gone missing and dead.” Who destroyed the 160,000 homes of the Tamils? Who has taken over 7,000 sq kms of their land? Who is getting employed in the north and east? Who is not rendering them justice? Who is not accounting for the 146,679 missing and dead?
It is also wrong to say that Tamilnadu, keeps your hand off the Eelam issue, the Tamils in the North and East of Sri Lanka have had relationship with us for thousands of years, where as it was a forced wedding with the Sinhalese since 1948, which never took off, if divorce is inevitable the decision of one of the partners is more than enough in a court of law. It is here that political reasoning has a lot to do with ancestral rights of the Tamils as defined by Kusaliah. I wonder where there is fiction in my previous article as stated by Kusaliah?
A couple of stray incidents against Buddhist monks by hooligans who have ashamed the Tamils in Tamilnadu should not be generalized. Everyday hundreds of Sinhalese land in Chennai, Trichy and Madurai. We should also remember that no Tamil leader justified these attacks like the way Rajiv Gandhi justified the attacks on the Sikhs after the death of Indira Gandhi and JRJ during the 1983 genocide.
It is a pity that Kusaliah compares the democracy of India with that of a banana republic and compares the out of context impeachment of the Chief Justice of SL. We are a democracy that is the reason even the two most condemnable attacks on the Buddhist monks were telecast on the Television unlike the bags of denial of rape of Tamil women, shockingly exposed by the Channel 4.
Kusaliah also had the luxury of getting his article published in ‘The Hindu’, in India, a Newspaper known for its pro-Sinhala stand, a former Editor N.Ram, being a recipient of the ‘Sri Lanka Rathna’. This is the only Newspaper which has a ‘policy’ to give space to Dr.Subramaniam Swamy who’s help was solicited by the ruling regime in Sri Lanka to talk to the Indian Government and the US.
If Kusaliah only wanted a discussion with ‘Sri Lankan citizens’, he should call for a discussion of the likes of Mervyn Silva and Wimal Weerawansa for they would be the only people who can be assured of living another day!
Let me remind Kusaliah that the Tamils had not accepted the constitution of 1972 nor were they part of the constitution of 1978. The APRC too did not have any Tamils from the TNA, if that is the case why should they accept it? The Tamil representatives in the APRC were from the para-military forces of EPDP and TMVP, interestingly the LLRC wants them disbanded, so how can you take the opinion of groups which are recommended to be disbanded as the voice of the Tamils? You cannot push the APRC through the throat of the Tamils.
If at all an iota of fairplay left among the Sinhalese intellectuals, they should allow the Tamils of North and East to decide their future rather than trying to push their agendas.
« Building Peace In Sri Lanka: A Personal Story
“The Silent Majority”: Sharing Some Thoughts »