19 October, 2017

Reconciliation And The Role Of India

By Rajiva Wijesinha – 

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha MP

I must admit to being deeply worried about the current state of relations between India and Sri Lanka. I contrast this with the excellent situation that obtained in 2009, when India was the chief component of the protective barrier against efforts to stop us eradicating terrorism from our shores. One might have thought that this was a goal the whole world would have supported, but sadly this is not an ideal world and countries will naturally put their own self interest first. Fortunately, not only did India’s interests coincide with our own at that stage, but given the terrible toll terrorism funded by external sources was taking on both our countries, I think it is also true to say that we worked in accordance with the highest moral perspectives.

But the aim we shared then, of eradicating terrorism on our shores, went hand in hand with another commitment, which was the promotion of pluralism in Sri Lanka. This again is a moral goal, but it also has a practical dimension, in that the full incorporation of the Tamil people in the body politic in Sri Lanka would have reduced the potential for future terrorism.

Sadly Sri Lanka has not pursued the Reconciliation process with the commitment it requires. Given its urgency I believe we should try to understand the reasons for this, and try to overcome them. In this process India has a significant role to play.

The first reason is myopia. Major decision makers in government, or rather the only decision maker in this regard, the Minister of Economic Development, believed that material development would ensure integration of conflict affected areas in the national economy and hence promote reconciliation. He was wrong, and it is a pity that he does not understand the need for consultation of potential beneficiaries as well as professionals when planning benefits for some sectors. But in mitigation it should be said that the strategy had worked to a great extent in the East, and he did not have established institutions to which to turn when making plans for the North. The absence of think tanks in Sri Lanka, the abolishing of the Ministry of Policy and Plan Implementation, as well as the Ministry of Human Rights, left a vacuum which sheer energy cannot fill.

While India has always tried to adopt a government to government strategy in its relations with other countries, and in particular with regard to aid programmes, this was a mistake. It should have engaged more actively with thinkers. I believe it has excellent relations with the Institute of Policy Studies, which had done its best to develop a coherent economic policy for the Sri Lankan government, albeit with limited success. But it should also have worked together with political thinkers, even if informally, and developed an aid strategy that also concentrated on human resource development, and putting in place consultative mechanisms.

This is where institutions like the Indo-Lanka Foundation can play a greater role, but it needs modernization and a more coherent agenda. If government cannot move, the Indian High Commission should develop its own think tank. I had suggested this a couple of years back, at a time when several Embassies were assisting with the development of ideas on Reconciliation, but unfortunately the hidebound traditions of Indian diplomacy, either totally working with government or else working on a confidential basis with select individuals, prevented the systemic interventions that were desirable.

The second reason for the failure of the reconciliation process is diffidence. While I believe Sri Lanka should have moved quickly on the actions it had promised in the joint communiqué signed by the President and the Secretary General of the United Nations, there was from the beginning a fear of unfair persecution. Given the lack of professionalism, and understanding of the international psyche, in the agencies which should have dealt with charges, namely the Ministries of External Affairs and Defence, there were blanket denials, whereas we should have worked closely with those international agencies that work to a professional rather than a political agenda.

I realized what was happening when I was rebuked by the then Attorney General for having given an estimate of the number of civilian casualties, in an interview in the middle of 2009. He informed me that the Secretary of Defence was angry with me, and asked why I had said what I did. My answer was that it was true, which threw him for a minute, but his response was significant. He told me that people would take advantage of what I had said, and I realized then that, given the paucity of people able to put forward a consistent and credible position, even someone as sophisticated as a senior lawyer thought blanket denial the best defence.

This I think explains the failure to deal with the few aberrations in the course of a war that by and large we fought more decently than any of the other exercises against terror now privileged by the powerful. I think that some decision makers in government are convinced that, if we move, we will be pushed further. And while I think this is wrong, and we owe it to our own people to fulfil our commitments and in particular the recommendations of our own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, I can see why there is diffidence. The manner in which the United States responded to the LLRC report, which all other interlocutors were positive about, suggested that they were determined to go further.

In this regard I believe India had a significant role to play, though perhaps that is more difficult now. There should have been confidence building to make it clear that fulfilling the LLRC recommendations was all that was needed, and there would be strong support provided against any further demands. I believe some such understanding early in 2012 would have prevented the debacle that occurred in Geneva in March.

That debacle was due to our not having done anything significant after the LLRC report was published, and that lack of action was inexcusable. Trying to understand it, I realized it related to the third problem we face, which is that many of those around the President are not concerned with his interests, let alone those of the country, but rather pursue their own ambitions. These are tied to others with influence, rather in the manner of the old Roman clientela, and therefore the wishes of the President become secondary. Thus those tasked with producing an Action Plan did nothing, just as nothing significant was done with regard to the LLRC interim recommendations. Some measures I should note were taken, but those in charge did not think it necessary to report on these and consult more widely on the best way forward, because they were keen to safeguard their own absolute authority.

This is where I believe India should have worked more consistently with the Secretary to the President under whom these mechanisms were meant to function. Though he has not been as effective in recent years as when he was part of the team that worked together with India during the conflict period, he clearly has no agenda of his own, except support for the President, and it would have made sense to have supported areas under his purview and enabled him to function more effectively. This can be done even now with regard to the Task Force on implementing the LLRC, and through confidence building the Secretary could be encouraged to ensure that that Task Force works through a distinct Ministry, without its personnel being hampered as now by a lack of clear authority.

While this would help I should however note that the fourth reason for government failure may still prove too strong, unless firmly countered. This is what I can only describe as fear of the Sarath Fonseka phenomenon. Once the government decided, in 2009, that it had to compete for the hardline vote, it cut itself off from dealing firmly with abuse. The decision to react to allegations Fonseka made by calling him a traitor, rather than a liar, suggested that there was something to hide. Worse, it made it difficult for government to take action against abuses since that would lay it open to charges of treachery. Unfortunately elements in the Ministry of Defence have adopted this mentality wholesale, which explains the critique of the LLRC that has appeared on its website, in a shocking example of how the authority of the President can be undermined.

This is an approach that can destroy the country, and in particular the military leaders who did so well in the war, and proved so humane afterwards, when there were efforts to keep the displaced in welfare centres for a protracted period. The recent refusal of a visa to one of the most accomplished of our officers, and that by Australia which government is confident is a strong supporter, shows clearly how insensitive we are to realities.

But at the same time it must be granted that these realities are monstrously unfair. As the Indian government knew well in 2009, it was ironic that countries which had been loudest in alleging war crimes and the complicity of the army commander at the time, saw him as a hero afterwards, when he became the chosen instrument of regime change. That certainly contributed to the neurosis that has oppressed our defence establishment since then, though typically they have reacted in a manner that can only make the neurosis worse.

Again this is where India can help build confidence, by affirming its support for the Sri Lankan military. But that should be in terms of its military role, and unfortunately this has been made difficult by the forces seeming to take on civilian functions. This brings me to the fifth and perhaps most important reason for government failure to move on reconciliation, namely its incapacity to work positively with moderate Tamil forces.

There are many reasons for this last, most obviously the pervasive distrust engendered by thirty years of conflict in which Tamil politicians were often in thrall to the LTTE. This has however to be understood in context, and we must learn to work together with those who from our point of view behaved badly because they were under threat. We have however failed to do this, and have spent more time attacking moderates, in the belief that their final goals are separatist, without trying to win them over.

I should add that they have to some extent contributed to this, by flirting with the Sarath Fonseka candidacy, by continuing to talk in terms of a merger (which suggests commitment to the concept of a homeland rather than devolution for greater responsiveness to the needs of the people) and also by following the American lead (as with Sarath Fonseka) in criticizing the LLRC and thus creating the impression that they too wanted blood.

This is where I believe India should have made greater use of its influence. After all, allowing Tamil political parties to emerge that have a greater commitment to Western nations rather than the sub-continent itself would be a greater disaster for India than for anyone else. The future of South Asia requires a strong and prosperous India, with positive relations with all its neighbours, and to sacrifice this for temporary gains would be a disaster all round.

I am not one of those who advocates continuing patience when there is no sign of movement. But I believe a clear message of support for Sri Lanka and the work of its armed forces during the conflict is essential, albeit combined with stronger mechanisms for providing advice and assistance that leads to greater cooperation between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil populations that suffered so much in the last few decades. We do not want the seeds of further conflict to be sown, either in Sri Lanka or in India, which means we need to work together urgently to ensure reconciliation and both dignity and prosperity for all our people.

*Presentation by Prof Rajiva Wijesinha, MP – At the Observatory Research Foundation, Delhi, December 13th 2013

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Sorry Professor lost me again on the first sentence.. “I must admit to being deeply worried about the current state of relations between India and Sri Lanka.”… This should say “I must admit to being deeply worried about the current state of relations between the Sri Lankas/Humanity and the Rajapaksa Regime”.. Then I will start reading your shite, what are you a professor of anyway man?? Did you delve into the dog food prices of the twentieth century and the relationship to the inflation fluctuations of the Uzbekistans economy????? You [Edited out]! All you should get out of a University..

  • 1
    7

    Same nonsense Dayan J says.

    Who benefits from reconciliation? Only Tamilians. I don’t care as no benefits for me.

    First resettle 150,000 displaced Muslim IDPs in bloody Jaffna if you want reconciliation.

    Otherwise just forget it!

    • 3
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      Oi Muslims are from Middle East Fuckshit not the subcontinant go back under the stone you came from fucknation.

      • 0
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        My buddy Javi,
        Whats the meaning of fuckshit?By the way i have had some great reports about you.I am made to understand that you are doing a wonderful job in cleaning that public toilet at the Pettah bus stand.Keep it up Javi.We are proud of you.
        PS-A bird whispers that you don’t issue tickets(Rs10).No doubt you are pocketing the dough.I am sure that your wife is thrilled with you.

    • 0
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      All Muslims belong to low caste Tamils who ,migrated to Lanka from Tamil Nadu,South India viz, Devipattnam, Kelaikarai etc. This is a well known historical fact. Don’t sell your ancient heritage for a mess of pottage. Do not try to truncate history as you do with certain part of your anatomy.

    • 0
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      Fat “Mama” Fuk U Shima:

      Reconciliation is meeting of Minds not Bodies. Just resettling 150,000 Muslims in the absence of Accountability will not Achieve anything. Accountability can be achieved In two ways .
      1) The perpetrator admitting his guilt. Like in South Africa to some extent.
      2) The perpetrator being forced to admit which is about to happen in Sinhala Lanka when we have change at the top in India.

  • 1
    0

    It is very difficult for anybody in Prof Rajiva’s situation to go further into all details of lapses as such. He even is not in a position to say why LTTE came into existence in the first place. How all attempts in reconciliation fail in Sri Lanka? How it is not possible for any think tank to counter the big think tank that is formed to make Sri Lanka only a Sinhalese Buddhist Country. Please let him try his best as he has good intentions for Sri Lanka to make an effort in reconciliation.

    • 1
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      Thiruchit- Ampalam:

      You don’t know the real Rajiva. He was a defender ( I think he still is) of MR and GOSL. Leopards never change their spots.

  • 1
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    Buddhist Sinhala Racism ———— Tamil call for Equality———State sponsored terrorism & genocide – Tamil armed struggle for political rights of self determination _———– Sinhala terror against Tamils with International support – end of the armed struggle of Tamils ——- genocide of Tamils, war crimes and crimes against humanity – international support for political rights of Tamils and continued oppression of Tamils.

    The above chronology summarises the political events in Sri lanka since the Sinhala Nation and Tamil Nation of island of Ceylon brought under unitary rule of Sinhala. The fundamental to all problems is the Sinhala Buddhist racism and its policies towards genocide of Tamils through militarization, occupation of lands, and state terror against Tamils. Tamils continued to express their willingness to live with equal rights, sharing the power with Sinhalese whereas the motive of Sinhala Nation is destroying and eliminating Tamils from their homeland (within the island of Ceylon). Brutality is a continued feature of the Sinhala Nation before, during and after the war between Tamils and Sinhalese.

    Reconciliation has no meaning in the politics of Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalist principle. You don’t need to talk about reconciliation if you don’t understand the real substance of reconciliation. Reconciliation is about understanding each other and respecting each others right.

  • 2
    1

    Rajiva,

    Can you tell us what steps you took, when your buddy Dayan did the following:

    (a) Argued that the Sinhala society “does not care a damn about the truth,” ridiculing and shutting out the civil society who proposed measures to ensure that Tamils were treated fairly.

    (b) Drum-beated the need for victory celebrations to satisfy the gallery, with callous disregard for the sentiments of those defeated, knowing very well that such actions would undermine reconciliation efforts. Mandela showed the right way. While giving mere lip-service to Mandela’s virtues, Dayan advocated the exact opposite. To add insult to injury, Dayan also advocated aspirations of Sinhala Majoritarianism suggesting that the protest against apartheid was indeed rooted in the desire for Majoritarianism. This, from a political scientist?!
    (c) Cried crocodile tears after Weliveraya and goaded MR teasing him as an emasculated figurehead, only because that seemed an ideal opportunity to get back at Gota. In return, MR announced in the global media that Dayan would prostitute his talents.

    If you remained silent as your partner-in-crime did all the above, then are you not complicit in this whole fiasco that is presently “deeply worrying you”?

  • 3
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    Shitty Sinhala majoritarian ‘professor’ is condoning, pretending not to know about it, the genocide of Tamils in Sri Lanka.

    He is worried about the Buddha Ariya Sinhala state of Shit Lanka.

    • 2
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      “Reconciliation And The Role Of India” Simply the role of Congress government of India was aiding and abetting the genocide of Tamils.

      Now our friend Rajivaiah wants India to help consolidate the genocide.

  • 0
    1

    Well, I can assure you it will get tougher for 2 reasons.

    1 – The impression even “menial powers” agreed upon 13 amendment has not been enforced.
    2 – The TNA under the direction of NPC Chief Minstrer has begun to beat a “hindu” drum obviously to look appealing to BJP fundametalists lead by Modi.

    Well, this will be the challenge.

    • 0
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      Because Sin-hella have stolen the Vedanta robes.(@_@)|(@_@)

      like you bounty hunter living with thieves down under.

      Sinhala Buddhist==Wahhabi in practice- no womens rights just pedophiles with begging bowl.

    • 0
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      “|”BJP fundametalists lead by Modi.”|”

      Your free education never helps you.

      Its the land of Zero concept NaMo will send the
      blooming lot in smelly SL to stone age- ground zero.

  • 1
    0

    What Rajiva attacking a Rajapaksa?

    • 0
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      Two, B and G.

  • 2
    1

    Sure Shakespeare is dead and I don’t feel well either.
    It’s the age of reason not sandwiching the truth with lies moron.
    ______
    Contaminated Bihari Bandits with no recognised faith that received independence by a mere accident are the ¬cause¬ of terrorism within the island and exporting it to murder RajivG who gave economic hope to a poor intelligentsia.

    Sinhala fascist tried murdering him first with solider Silva then ordered it through slum boy Premadasa. Either you accept that you Sinhalese are responsible for being adminis¬trators¬ for 64 years or be bombed to stone age- both Sinhalese (cause +symptom) Tamil (symptom) are the terrorist of the neighbourhood.

    What have you achieved in 64 years- 1. disenfranchised the breadwinner multitasker woman tea worker- Tea the largest export thanks to the British.
    2. Exporting sinhala women to spread their legs in the middle east thereby breaking down the family life.
    3 Sinhala Women in Garments

    So what have you ponna sinhala men achieved- made the island look like a brothel for the sale of kudu and weapons.

    Go slit your own throat shameless skunks.

    • 3
      1

      The cardinal reason is the very Sri Lankan concept of Sinhala Buddhist Begging Bowl- All poppycock no work.

      The new experienced Chinese power Xi and Peng have shooed Rajaporkistan and familial away lock stock and barrel and you are now left just with your borrowed amude extended -the national.

      ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
      `DIE` `GOOO`TA , I WANT IT ALL, `GOOO`TA `DIE`!
      IM- PUSS-ABLE
      ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ஜ۩۞۩ஜ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

  • 3
    2

    The F—ing Indians should deal with the F—ing Sinhala Buddhists in the same way that the F—ing Sinhala Buddhists deal with the F—ing Tamils. That is the only way to put these torturing, murdering, raping black F—ing Sinhala Buddhists devils in their place.

  • 2
    0

    Will there be the usual Sinhala victory celebration in February 2014 before Geneva human rights meeting in March 2014?

  • 2
    0

    You inadvertently admit that many civilians were killed by the armed forces but admitting it to the victims or UN is difficult. How will the much talked about TRC be possible with half truths? The government has messed it up and it is almost impossible now to go on the offensive on those who want impartial investigation. Admitting the inevitable will have many advantages and one of them is that the people in the south will agree to a reasonable lasting solution because they will see some justice done to the victims so inhumanely treated for long. Professor forgot to mention that listening to ordinary people in the north and east as UN HRC High Commissioner did in at least one province will enable the government understand the underlying problem.

  • 5
    0

    Rajiva, Rajiva, what is the point in you telling us all this? You are part of the Government and if your proposals are not considered by your Government and you are upset over what the present regime is doing, then why are you still with them. Do not be a hypocrite! Show you are a honest dependable person by leaving the UPFA coalition. Otherwise please shut up!

  • 1
    0

    Yes Prof. You better be worried. India is not a feudal kingdom. They made a deal with our clan for all the support they got. The have been fooled. They feel that way – rightfully so. So await the vengeance.be patient.

    Dip your self in gee and marinate your self in the choicest spices. The warm heat of the Tandoori Oven awaits you and your clan.

  • 4
    0

    Please Rajeva stop beating around the bush and surreptitiously safeguarding the president. The bug stops with the president; he wanted the 18th amendment and he has got it. The president does not want reconciliation and wants complete subjugation of the minorities; this what he is getting! It is about time you start addressing the issue for what it is; please stop acting as if you do not have a backbone.

  • 0
    3

    This reconciliation that you are talking is one way. the reconciliation that Tamils want.

    With 30 years of brutal violence they could not get it and now they want it on a silver platter.

    In other words, their 30 years of violence is forgotten.

    You are one who ignores that kind of violence because of your political beliefs.

    This is all because of your tastes are aristocratic but you preach democratic.

    • 0
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      Jim Sooty you Racist Sinhalese Moron.

      The 30 years of violence which we call fight for Freedom was to be free from your Tyranny for 64 long years which is still continuing under MR and his Thugs.

  • 0
    0

    Proff:

    With your level of Intelligence I am sure deep in your heart you know you are deluding yourself. You cannot defend the un defendable which is what you are trying to do. I have seen you on TV when you tried to defend GOSL and claim that MR had an ear for you.
    If proof was ever needed as to why we are where we are it is precisely because of your refusal admit guilt over 64 long years.
    We will not accept your arrogance and pretence that you have not done anything wrong which is against the weight of evidence and you will not accept that we have any grievance.
    So we are stuck in the Mud. But help is on the way in the form of BJP and Miss.Jeyaram and you will become an extinct species and thing of the past.

  • 0
    0

    India has no say in Tamils’ affairs as they were the cohorts in murdering Tamils.

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