29 October, 2020

Blog

Sri Lanka: Moving From ‘Tamil Eelam’ To ‘Eelam Tamil’

By R Hariharan

Col. R. Hariharan

Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) leader M Karunanidhi seems to have quietly acquiesced toNew Delhi’s pressure to shift the focus of his widely publicized “Eelam Tamils’ Rights Protection Conference” on August 12 from ‘Tamil Eelam’ to ‘Eelam Tamil.’ The exercise was more than semantics; except for two – Thol Thirumavalavan of the Viduthalai Chiruthai Katchi (VCK) and Veeramani of the Dravida Kazagham (DK) – other mainline speakers hardly made a reference to an independent Tamil Eelam. Even Thiruma’s speech was mostly devoted to redeem Karunanidhi’s reputation damaged during the Eelam War-4.

Apart from representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, delegates from a number of European countries,Australia and Mozambique, Sweden, Nigeriawere also present. Some of the overseas speakers (i.e. representatives from Sweden and Malaysia) devoted most of the speech to praise the ‘Kalaignar’ (artiste) Karunanidhi. However, Dr Wickramabahu Karunaratne, the firebrand leftist leader from Sri Lanka, did not disappoint the participants; he came out hammer and tongs at the callous attitude of Sri Lankain handling Tamils in the postwar period. Abdul Razak Momoh, member of Nigerian parliament, raised the question “If UN sanctions can be imposed on Iran for taking a nuclear route, why can’t they be imposed onSri Lankafor indulging in human rights violations?”

At a preliminary meeting organized at a city hotel before the conference, Karunanidhi said thelong-term solution to ensure the rights of Tamils was a political one, which had been discussed and debated for long. The medium term solution involved reconstruction of infrastructural and civic facilities in Tamil-majority areas in north and east to ensure a decent living for the people including the right to property, education, employment and other democratic rights. Immediate solution was to be found for resettlement, relief and rehabilitation for the war affected Tamils.

Conference resolutions

Though the 14 resolutions passed at the conference (given in annexure) cover the long, medium and short term issues, they lack logical coherence and continuity. No effort appears to have been made to structure or prioritise them to monitor action on them in a time bound manner.  Broadly the resolutions seek action from either the UN or India on the following aspects:

  • Those relating to protecting the concept of Tamil nation, identity, language and culture; restoration of democratic rights denied to Tamils; removal of Sinhala settlements in Tamil areas leading to deprivation of opportunities for Tamils; Sinhala exploitation of natural resources in Tamil areas; and on improvement of quality of life of Tamils.
  • Those relating to war crimes and violation of human rights by Sri Lanka and seeking the withdrawal of Sri Lankaa rmy from Tamil areas.
  • Other issues relating toIndia– status of Sri Lanka Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu, fishermen issue, restoration of Katchtivu toIndiaand Indian assistance to rebuild Tamil lives shattered by war. The resolution added as a tailpiece condemning the All India Anna DMK (AIADMK) for its ‘hostility to Sri Lanka Tamils and their problems’ is totally out of place. It confirmed that AIADMK-bashing was a subsidiary agenda of the conference.

It is evident that Diaspora Tamil interest groups have played an important role in shaping the resolutions. For instance, the Global Tamil Forum has been demanding the appointment of an international committee on behalf of the UN Human Rights Council to go into the war crimes allegations and punish those found guilty. Sri Lanka Tamil leaders and civil society have also raised many of the issues contained in the resolutions on the floor of Sri Lanka parliament as well as in public forums.

The objective of the DMK in rallying India’s solidarity to the Diaspora Tamil campaign against Rajapaksa and taking Sri Lanka to task for the plight of Tamils in post-war period was only partly served as major political parties from India and Sri Lanka had avoided it.  The political polemics over the theme of the conference was probably the reason for this.

Thus the conference missed a good opportunity to provide in-depth analyses of problems and come up original ideas on resolving them. It also did not recommend best options for producing the long, medium and immediate results that would impact Sri Lanka Tamils. As a result, the conference has provided only limited value addition.

The resolutions asked ‘the international community’, Government of India or the UN, ignoring the responsibility of primary stakeholders – Sri Lanka government, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim population and political parties – in finding solutions to their problems. This  marginalizes the efforts of Tamil leaders locked in eye-ball to eye-ball political confrontation in the island.

Similarly the resolutions have not addressed what Tamil Nadu should do to help improve the situation except to castigate the AIADMK which is in power.  Action plan to rally support for taking follow up actions on the resolutions have not been made public. Now the DMK is reported to be planning to take the conference message to the people. This would indicate that despite the lofty rhetoric on Tamil unity, Sri Lanka Tamil issue will continue to be a victim of polemics of Tamil Nadu politics.

So it is not surprising the resolutions provide no out of the box ideas to break the political impasse in the reconciliation process. Thus they are likely to appeal to the converted, which was apparently the limited purpose of the conference. No wonder the conference evoked only lukewarm response the conference both in the media (which had Olympic Games as priority No 1 on August 12) and among Tamils everywhere.

 Pointers to the future

The fate of the conference was decided by judicial intervention after both the Centre and the AIADMK-ruled state, in a rare convergence of goals, did not want it to be held for their own reasons. The Centre dropped its reservation after Karunanidhi relented on using the “E-word” (Tamil Eelam). Karunanidhi’s back pedaling shows the DMK’s overriding desire to stay in the Congress-led coalition as it battles for political survival in the state. So we can expect the aging Dravidian leader to defer his “lifetime desire” to see the rise of an independent Tamil Eelam perhaps forever.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms Jayalalitha indulged in no political rhetoric on the conference; but used the more effective police bureaucracy to try and scuttle the conference. While speaking at the Independence Day flag hoisting ceremony three days later, she urged the Centre to pressurise Sri Lankato ensure rehabilitation of internally displaced Tamils back in their original settlement and also devolve equal powers on par with the Sinhalese. This clearly indicates that Kalaignar would not a have free run to exploit the Tamil issue to his political advantage.

The Centre has sent a clear message “thus far and no more” on its stand on Tamil Eelam to Tamil Diaspora by not allowing some of the de-striped Tamil Tigers and pro-Eelam lobbyists to participate in the conference. This was done not only to maintain India’s objection to Tamil separatism but also to act upon Sri Lankan concern on Diaspora Tamil separatists gaining a foothold in India. When pushed,New Delhiwould probably take action to crack down on LTTE supporters in Tamil Nadu.

New Delhidid not allow a few others fromSri Lankato attend the conference. This showed that despiteIndia’s sympathies for Tamils, it was averse to allow the Tamil issue to eclipse its larger in interest in Sri Lanka.

The whole political mess stirred up by New Delhiand Tamil Nadu about the conference must have discouraged the more vociferous Tamil leaders from participation. Tamil Nadu leaders should understand that Sri Lanka Tamil leaders’ priority will continue to be to maintain working links with New Delhirather than get entangled in partisan politics of Tamil Nadu.

Tailpiece: The DMK would do well to listen to Ram Vilas Paswan, president of Lok Janshakti Party, suggestion at the conference to make people in the rest of India aware of the sufferings of Lankan Tamils to mobilise mass support for their cause. He said people in North India mistake Lankan Tamil issue as an LTTE problem. Hopefully that will educate the rest of India on the Sri Lanka Tamil issue.

[Col R Hariharan a retired Military Intelligence specialist on South Asia, served with the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka as Head of Intelligence. E-mail:colhari@yahoo.com Blog: www.colhariharan.org ]

 

 

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Latest comments

  • 0
    0

    How long more will it take the Rajapakses to admit the Lankan Tamil Question is gathering both speed and space in the whole of India, while until recently, it was confined largely to the State of Tamilnadu? Sushma Swaraj’s visit proved the Hindu-belt centric BJP is now ready to place the Lankan issue in their Agenda – if the Rajapakses continue to ignore the Tamil Question.

    The visit scheduled for next week from the National Defence Minister and a large and strong military contingent from China will raise the suspicion in Delhi. This in no way will endear the Rajapakses to the South Bloc. Even if Rajapakse wants it he cannot stop the Chinese from coming. That is the crux of the matter now.

    It is, therefore, in the Rajapakse interest to call early PC elections this year itself for the Northern Province – instead of waiting till 2014. Such an exercise will remove a great deal of doubt and suspicion the region and the world have on the credibility of the Rajapakse on this score. It is understood the Rajapakses calculate by 2014 when infra-structure development and investment gestate their own candidates in the region will win. But I would not bet on this. The injury on the Tamil psyche post-May 2009 is so deep as they live totally dissappointed with the lack of economic opportunities, suspect security, poor facilities they are likely to vote en bloc for Opposition candidates despite threat, intimidation and bribery.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
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      Senguttuvan says:

      “Even if Rajapakse wants it he cannot stop the Chinese from coming. “

      This may be so however the only permanent deciding feature regarding Chino Sri Lanka relation is India is only 30 miles from the island and China is 4,500 miles away from this country.

      As far as the South Block is concerned Sri Lanka is the Sinhala state of India. The North East is part of Tamilnadu.

      You and I may not like this political union but the writing is already on the wall, Sri Lanka’s domestic policies(?) are not only weakening its independence but driving the country closure to becoming an autonamous region of Imperial India.

      If China could have Tibet as an autonomous region why should not India have its own autonomous region modelled on Tibet?

      You see Tibet and Sri Lanka are Buddhist countries. Sinhala language is clasified as Indo European family of languages. The majority of the Sinhalese are genetically related to Tamils of Tamilnadu. They had had close relations with Kerala. In fact most wars were fought by Tamil, Telungu and Malayali Velleikkara Padei (mecerneries)in ancient and medieval Sri Lanka. There are more reasons as to why Sri Lanka aptly fit the bill to be part and partial of greater Bharat.

      I don’t see any problem in Sri Lanka becoming part of Indian union.

      As usual I am bit confused.

      • 0
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        But Vedda you complained when I said the same thing about Lanka becoming a part of India, you rejected it and called me a stupid..Also Sinhalese are genetically linked to the people of Bengal, staggering 83% match..

        • 0
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          Jegath

          please read these lines again:

          “As far as the South Block is concerned Sri Lanka is the Sinhala state of India. The North East is part of Tamilnadu.

          You and I may not like this political union but the writing is already on the wall”

          I don’t like it but this is what India is striving to achieve.

          I said in my previous comment:

          “I don’t see any problem in Sri Lanka becoming part of Indian union.”

          This line was exclusively aimed at Sinhala/Buddhist nationalists as they have no clue about what has been taking place in and around the island.

          By now you would have learned that my people are not interested in Indian (Tamils, Sinhalese, Hindians)rule. We want to get rid of all forms of hegemony including cultural imperialism.

          You say:

          “Also Sinhalese are genetically linked to the people of Bengal, staggering 83% match”

          This is not true.

          Please refer to Peoples and Culture of Early Sri Lanka By Dr Siva Thiagarajah for a detailed analysis of genetical affinity among the Tamils and Sinhalese.

          Please also refer to Peopling of Sri Lanka An Outline Based on Genetic (DNA) Studies by Subramaniyam Visahan.

          These books cite no less than six DNA studies. You will be surprised to know that Tamils are more closely related to Bengalis than the Sinhalese to Bengalies.

          It is common among the stupid Sinhalese and stupid Tamils to state uninformed, unscientific quotes and lies as facts. We have witnessed this trend in the field of history and now it is creeping into Genetic studies as well.

          Once you have done your home work we can discuss as to why Sinhalese and Tamils remain stupid, of course both share M20 Marker.

  • 0
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    TESO was about CEPA, CEPA and CEPA only, look at the timing, TESO is announced two weeks before the finance minister is due in Colombo, then postponed while he is there and finally when he returns to Delhi,Congress shows the green light for TESO..

    Col.Hariharan tries all his efforts to paint a picture that all this is politics and foreign policy stuff, but the truth is far from it.Corporations influence policies made by men in Delhi, India is just another America.

    If it was about foreign policy who in the right mind would believe Rajapakse?Foreign minister of India now President, is a major share holder of a corporation in India and are good friends with MR, soon after war ends Airtel enters Lankan market,coincidence?

  • 0
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    Col.Hariharan tries all his efforts to paint a picture that all this is politics and foreign policy stuff, but the truth is far from it.Corporations influence policies made by men in Delhi, India is just another America.

    If it was about foreign policy who in the right mind would believe Rajapakse?Foreign minister of India now President, is a major share holder of a corporation in India and are good friends with MR, soon after war ends Airtel enters Lankan market,coincidence?

    If Tamils want things to be done in their favor, influence the TN Tamils to boycott major the corporation owned by Congress Minsters, nobody wants to lose money and market.

    TESO was all about CEPA and the $5billion it is expected to generate, which will be shared by very few individuals and of course Karunanithi gets his share…

  • 0
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    Native Veddah and I travel in the same trajectory here. For sometime even some of the more academic and elitist were threatening to “bring China in to teach India a lesson” The Rajapakses have gone beyond rhetoric. Even pro-Sinhala historians like Kodikara and Kingsley de Silva regularly cautioned Sri Lankan policy makers not to ignore the warning of old Panikkar in the late 1940s Ceylon/Sri Lanka shoud not
    do anything to prejudice the wider security of the vast Sub-continent.
    Much water has flown down the Kelani since this apprehension. Now the Chinese are physically here in large numbers. Many wonder if Lankan immigration officials are aware how many Chinese workers are here presently. Besides, analysts share the view their (Chinese) huge investments in the past 3 years goes well beyond the realm of ordinary commercial interest. In the Chinese design of the String of Pearls the southern underbelly of South India has been a prime target. They now have it – thanks to the Rajapakses. That there is more anti-Indian feelings now than ever before is patently clear. The question is if this is spontaneous or the work of foreign powers out to sabotage existing Indo-Lankan relationship. Either way, the Rajapakses have taken us into choppy waters to traverse. There is no turning back.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
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      Senguttuvan

      Thanks for your comment.

      Tamils and Sinhalese are fundamentally anti Indians. Indians do not command respect. Both the Tamils and Sinhalese believe they are far superior to Indians individually or collectively.

      Yankee dick JR being the old fox tried and lost it to the Hindians. Indians taught JR and his people a bloody lesson for which the country paid a heavy price over the past thirty or so years.

      Rajabakse and his foreign policy gurus believe Lanki Chini bhai-bhai but for Chinese its always been Chini Chini bhai-bhai. This could result in another round of blood shed probably in the south.

      This time around if the price is right JVP would help India. JVP working for Indians would be consistent with its past.

      Do you think the article 73 of the UN charter is useful in the context of Sri Lankan minorities particularly my people? If so please let me have your suggestions.

      Does the Vedda people constitute a nation under article 73 of the charter? I think they do. Please cite any other UN resolutions which in your considered view is relevant to my people.

      Please see below the

      CHARTER OF THE UNITED NATIONS AND STATUTE OF THE
      INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE

      CHAPTER XI DECLARATION REGARDING NON-SELF-GOVERNING TERRITORIES

      Article 73
      Members of the United Nations which have or
      assume responsibilities for the administration of
      territories whose peoples have not yet attained
      a full measure of self-government recognize the
      principle that the interests of the inhabitants of
      these territories are paramount, and accept as a
      sacred trust the obligation to promote to the utmost,
      within the system of international peace and
      security established by the present Charter, the
      well-being of the inhabitants of these territories,
      and, to this end:
      a. to ensure, with due respect for the culture
      of the peoples concerned, their political,
      economic, social, and educational advancement,
      their just treatment, and their protection
      against abuses;
      b. to develop self-government, to take due
      account of the political aspirations of the
      peoples, and to assist them in the progressive
      development of their free political institutions,
      according to the particular circumstances of
      each territory and its peoples and their varying
      i stages of advancement;
      c. to further international peace and security;
      d. to promote constructive measures of development,
      to encourage research, and to cooperate
      with one another and, when and where
      appropriate, with specialized international bodies
      with a view to the practical achievement of
      the social, economic, and scientific purposes
      set forth in this Article; and
      e. to transmit regularly to the Secretary-
      General for information purposes, subject to
      such limitation as security and constitutional
      considerations may require, statistical and other
      information of a technical nature relating to
      economic, social, and educational conditions in
      the territories for which they are respectively
      responsible other than those territories to which

      Chapters XII and XIII apply.

      • 0
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        “Tamils and Sinhalese are fundamentally anti Indians”

        Buddha is an Indian, sinhalese are obsessed with him, VP admired Subash Chandra Bose, VP’s father had portraits of Gandhi(so did my grand father and his friends) and people of my age fancy Indian actress and are obsessed enough to call male actors “thala”(leader) and “thalapathy”(brigadier), so who are these Indians they hate?

        Is it the people or politicians and their policies towards tamils and sinhalese??

  • 0
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    I have much respect for the passion my friend Native Veddah generates while discussing Sinhala-Tamil relations and the criticism he quite rightly expresses against the lack-lustre manner in which the Rajapakses go about their business in this perfidy in their deceptive ways in trying to unite the divided nation. Allow me to comment on NV’s comments :-

    ” Tamils and Sinhalese are fundamentally anti-Indian. Indians do not command respect. Both the Tamils and Sinhalese believe they are far superior to Indians individually or collectively”

    With all due respect, most Sinhalese and Tamils are not anti-Indian. It is equally incorrect to say Indians do not command respect. If Tamils and Sinhalese believe they are superior to Indians then this grouping does not know today’s India, its strength, its multi-latgeral capacity and its growing and bottomless collecgtive talent. Why even the Rajapakse brothers hoarsely claim they love India and Indians – with one of them claiming he as an Indian in-law. Whatever anti-Indianism they come out with is for the political platform and public consumption. On the otgher hand, if you are going by dregs like Champika Ranawake, Weerawansa and the like then you are doing a massive dis-service to your own self. Exccept for the committed LTTErs, most Lankan Tamils now identify more with India than ever before.

    Lankan Tamils have not fully exhausted options in their continuing quest for their rights – a view articulated so well by my senior friend and mentor the late S. Thondaman from 1976. Even the TNA now agrees on a solution within an undivided Island – however, dissappointing the situation even today is. Although the Tamils of the NEP can satisfy all features that the UN lays down in the case of a potential member, I think we should allow the Rajapakses a little more time to
    prove their good intentions. Circumstances – not of their own initiative – such as the oncoming meetings in Geneva etc is pushing them to provide results to the Tamil Nation and I believe some of this is possible before the year is out. But that is not to say the Rajapakses are eager for reconciliation or unity. They know their future is asured in both Sinhalese and Tamils being at each others throats. But, as you know, the march of history often moves in unexpected ways. Let us hope Sri Lanka at last secures its badly needed unity and reconciliation even by default.

    Senguttuvan

  • 0
    0

    As to NV’s question of our adivasis – the Veddahs – constitute a nation, the answer has to be (1) they are numerically far too small and cannot lay claim to contiguous land, developed language, culture etc to satisfy UN minimum requirements (2) they have not articulated their desire to go on their own -although Kandyans in different ways have for quite sometime now. At least, in private conversation in addtion to what SWRD pointed out in Jaffna in the 1920s.

    On the Veddah issue Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, a contender to the post of PM and who has many Veddah class mates, can educate us far more here.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
      0

      Senguttuvan

      Thanks for your considered opinion.

      You say:

      “(1) they are numerically far too small and cannot lay claim to contiguous land, developed language, culture etc to satisfy UN minimum requirements “

      So we will wait until our population reaches the required threshold. In the mean time we will have to devise strategies to increase our population, of course it requires a lot of support from our women folks.

      Our demands can wait.

      In your opinion do you think any of the minorities (including Tamils, Upcountry Tamils, Up country Sinhalese, Tamil speaking Muslims)entitle to be a nation under UN charter?

  • 0
    0

    You Indians are very good in most things,that,s what you thing RAW.until the HINDU TERRORIST RIP OFF THE Indian primister Rajiv ghandi.be careful again mdont fuc.. with Lankan, HAri Haran.

    • 0
      0

      BAH

      complemeents:

      “You Indians are very good in most things”

      Such as …………..

      The only part which didn’t make any noise in Indian indigenously manufactured car was the horn.

      The passengers are always surprised to see Indian trains arriving at scheduled time. Because they are exactly 24 hours late.

  • 0
    0

    Elam Tamils first enemy is Col Hariharan Under the guise analyst trying to take revenge for the humuliation of defaet at the Hands of Tigers. Anyone who is anti Tigers is anti Tamils. Every Tamil in Sri Lanka knows and feels this.Therfore when people like Harihran, Traotorus and financially corrupt Ram writes rubbish how will the rest of India will know teh true story of LTTE and Tamil problems. Atleast rest o fteh India shoudl be thankful to Tigers for finishing of Rajiv. If sonia is making crores and crores in scams if teh Rajiv was alife he would have tens of hundreds of Bofors

    • 0
      0

      Raja’s

      world view:

      “Anyone who is anti Tigers is anti Tamils”

      This is another example of Tamil stupidity, need I say more?

      You gloat:

      “Atleast rest o fteh India shoudl be thankful to Tigers for finishing of Rajiv.”

      Going by the same logic, rest of the world should be thankful to the International Community and MR for finishing off VP.

      Would you agree with rest of the world?

      You say:

      ” If sonia is making crores and crores in scams if teh Rajiv was alife he would have tens of hundreds of Bofors”

      You are concerned about Indian corruption. That is Indian problem and not yours.

      You should be concerned only about why Tamils and their Sinhalese brotherens are so stupid.

  • 0
    0

    It is not clear if Native Veddah speaks for the Tamils or for our adivasi Veddah brothers.

    Other than the Tamil nation none in the country have, even remotely,
    sounded off the UN/international community for separate recognition.
    Even the leaders of the Tamil Nation have unequivocally declared in all responsibility in recent times – at the instance of India and our other friends in the world – to abandon the Separatist option. This is clearly in the hope the Rajapakses will find the good sense, courage and statesmanship to accomodate the Tamils in due manner and without further unnecessary procrastination.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
      0

      Senguttuvan

      is upset:

      “It is not clear if Native Veddah speaks for the Tamils or for our adivasi Veddah brothers.”

      Rest assured I have no intention of replacing Mr Sampanthan.

  • 0
    0

    Only international community that will be thankful to MR is Stupid Bush. Now Obama is arming Egyptians,Libyans, Sriyans. If Obama was in power he should have appreciated the initiatives of VP for the self sustaining effort of VP to free the Tamils fom the clutches of Racist Sinhala Leaders fom 1956 when state sponsored terrorists burnt Tamils alive in the Sugar cane plantations in Ampara. Read Emergency 58 by Tarzi Vitachchi.

    • 0
      0

      Raja says:

      “If Obama was in power he should have appreciated the initiatives of VP for the self sustaining effort of VP to free the Tamils fom the clutches of Racist Sinhala Leaders”

      In order to free the Tamils from racist Sinhala leaders VP imprisoned them in the North and ethnically cleansed the Muslim. Didn’t he order the killing of his fellow comrades in arms before landing in Jaffna after enjoying years of hospitality in India?

      What has VP got to do with freedom?

  • 0
    0

    Friend NV – I am not upset with you. I admire your energy to right the obvious wrongs the country has seen in recent decades. No less your eclectic interests. I am curious if you are one of the Maha Uras from the Mahiyangana jungles – an ancient people who fascinated the late Dr. Brohier and many other scholars so much.

    Senguttuvan

    • 0
      0

      Senguttuvan

      wants to know

      “an ancient people who fascinated the late Dr. Brohier and many other scholars so much”

      I am not a show Vedda but a genuine one, one hundred percent authentic and still wearing amudei at home.

      Realistically I am more of Gananth Obeysekere’s Vedda than Seligman’s.

  • 0
    0

    I am so pleased to learn of your origins, my friend Native Veddah.
    I am a great admirer of our Adivasis and will take the chance to talk to our friend Gananath next time I run into him at ICES. Gananath is genuine in his scholarly work and research unlike the lot like Manik S, who traded more in the name of the Adivasi Veddhas of Sri Lanka.

    You have travelled far and wide to Ole Blighty from the Bintenne and Mahiyangana forests. Britain has many institutions engaged in the study of old civilisations. Some of them have much funding for the purpose too. This is an area in which you will eminently fit in.

    Senmguttuvan

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