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Tamil Politics And The Quest For A Political Solution

By International Crisis Group

Rajavayothi Sampanthan - The Leader TNA

Asia Report N°239 20 Nov 2012 International Crisis Group

Executive Summary And Recommendation –    

The Sri Lankan government’s refusal to negotiate seriously with Tamil leaders or otherwise address legitimate Tamil and Muslim grievances is increasing ethnic tensions and damaging prospects for lasting peace. The administration, led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party of Mahinda Rajapaksa, has refused to honour agreements with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), broken promises to world leaders and not implemented constitutional provisions for minimal devolution of power to Tamil-speaking areas of the north and east. Militarisation and discriminatory economic development in Tamil and Muslim areas are breeding anger and increasing pressure on moderate Tamil leaders. Tamil political parties need to remain patient and keep to their moderate course, while reaching out more directly to Muslims, Upcountry Tamils and Sinhalese. International actors should press the government more effectively for speedy establishment of an elected provincial council and full restoration of civilian government in the north, while insisting that it commence serious negotiations with elected Tamil representatives from the north and east.

Many believed that the end of the war and elimination of the separatist Tamil Tigers (LTTE) would open space for greater political debate and moderation among Tamils, while encouraging the government to abandon the hardline Sinhalese nationalism it had cultivated to support its war efforts and agree to devolve meaningful power to the majority Tamil-speaking northern and eastern provinces. While there has been an increase in democratic and moderate voices among Tamils, the government has failed to respond in kind.

Instead, it has adopted a policy of promising negotiations and expanded devolution in discussions with India, the U.S., and the UN Secretary-General, while denying these same things when addressing its Sinhala voting base. It has refused to negotiate seriously with TNA representatives, repeatedly failing to honour promises and ultimately breaking off talks in January 2012. Since then it has demanded that the TNA join the government’s preferred vehicle, a parliamentary select committee (PSC), a process clearly designed to dilute responsibility and buy time. Three-and-a-half years after the end of the war, President Rajapaksa continues to delay the long-promised election to the northern provincial council – elections the TNA would be nearly certain to win. Despite repeated public promises, the president has refused to grant even the limited powers ostensibly given to provincial councils under the constitution’s thirteenth amendment. Instead, he and other senior officials have begun to discuss the amendment’s possible repeal or replacement by even weaker forms of devolution.

Even as the government refuses to respond to longstanding demands for power sharing, Tamil political power and identity are under sustained assault in the north and east. While Tamil leaders and nationalist intellectuals base their demands for political autonomy on the idea that these regions are the traditional areas of Tamil habitation, government figures, including the president’s powerful brother and defence secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, follow a long line of Sinhala nationalist thinking and explicitly reject that the north has any privileged Tamil character. Military and economic policies have been institutionalising this ideological position with vigour.

The de facto military occupation of the northern province and biased economic development policies appear designed to undermine Tamils’ ability to claim the north and east as their homeland. For many Tamils, this confirms their long-held belief that it was only the LTTE’s guns that placed their concerns and need for power sharing on the political agenda. In the face of the government’s resistance to a fair and negotiated settlement, TNA leaders have come under increasing pressure from their constituencies to adopt more confrontational language and tactics. Growing demands for the right to self-determination for the Tamil nation and hints that separatist goals have not been permanently abandoned have, in turn, provoked harsh reactions and expressions of distrust from Sinhala leaders.

The situation is likely to remain difficult, with major negotiating breakthroughs unlikely in the near term. Nonetheless, the international community – especially India and the U.S. – should increase pressure on President Raja­paksa to significantly reduce the numbers and influence of the military in the north and hold credible northern provincial council elections in advance of the March 2013 meeting of the UN Human Rights Council. The president should also be pressed to agree to the TNA’s reasonable terms for joining the PSC and begin implementing the thirteenth amendment meaningfully. Effective and lasting power sharing will almost certainly require forms of devolution that go beyond the current unitary definition of the state. Yet if skilfully handled, the current political conjuncture, both domestic and international, holds out possibilities to convince the government to concede greater space and ratchet back some of the worst abuses.

For the TNA to improve Tamils’ chances of receiving a fair deal from the state and, ultimately, some significant degree of power sharing, it will need to articulate grievances and the value of devolved powers more clearly and in ways that larger numbers of the other main communities – in particular Sinhalese and Muslims – can understand and accept as reasonable. In particular, the demand for autonomy needs to be framed in ways that can reassure at least some large minority of Sinhalese that the threat of secession is no longer there. It is also important for Tamil political leaders of all parties to begin mending relations with Muslims, so badly damaged by LTTE killings and the expulsion of all Muslims from the northern province in 1990. The TNA should insist that Muslim representatives be given a central role in negotiations on expanded devolution of power.

Finally, the Tamil leadership needs to find both practical and rhetorical ways of building links between its struggle for rights and power sharing and the growing unease among Sinhalese at the corruption and abuse of power characteristic of the Rajapaksa government. The Tamil struggle for rights and freedom is likely to succeed only when the broader national struggle for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, including the depoliticisation of the judiciary and the police, has made substantial progress. Joining together efforts to solve the two different forms of the “national question” should become an imperative part of the struggle for Tamil rights.

RECOMMENDATIONS

To the Tamil National Alliance (TNA):

1.  Maintain commitment to bilateral negotiations with the government to achieve substantial autonomy for the north and east within a united Sri Lanka; work to strengthen ties with other communities and broaden its reform agenda, by:

a) acknowledging LTTE crimes, particularly the expulsion of northern Muslims, apologising for not speaking out then, and setting up truth and reconciliation committees with Muslim and Sinhalese representatives;

b) speaking clearly to Sinhalese about the nature of Tamil grievances, why these require devolution – but not independence – and how the TNA would use devolved powers;

c) cooperating with the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and other Muslim organisations to resolve land and resource conflicts in the north and east and on constitutional negotiations and devolution;

d) reaching out to Upcountry Tamil organisations to work jointly on shared concerns, particularly with regard to language discrimination and other problems facing Tamils outside the north and east; and

e) building alliances with non-Tamil parties and organisations, including those in the Sinhala community that share concerns about corruption and abuse of power, for governance reforms outside the north and east, including implementation of core Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission recommendations.

2.  Prioritise developing the capacity of local TNA politicians and building a stronger community-level party organisation, better able to address local needs in the north and east, particularly on land and livelihood issues.

To Tamil Civil Society Organisations and Leaders:

3.  Acknowledge Muslim and Sinhalese suffering from the war and LTTE actions; welcome and facilitate Muslim returns to the north by cooperating to resolve land and resource disputes; and establish or revive inter-ethnic peace committees able to counter politicians and vested interests who seek to divide and control communities.

To Organisations in the Tamil Diaspora and in Tamil Nadu:

4.  Support the TNA strategy for a negotiated power-sharing agreement within a united Sri Lanka, including by sharing professional skills needed to strengthen the TNA’s organisational capacity.

5.  Acknowledge the LTTE’s role in deepening ethnic tensions and its shared responsibility for the suffering and massive loss of Tamil life in the final stages of the conflict and support inclusion of the LTTE’s actions in any independent international investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity.

To the Government of Sri Lanka:

6.  Recommit publicly, before domestic and international audiences, to a political solution based on maximum devolution within a united Sri Lanka with significant autonomy for the north and east, including by:

a) restarting bilateral negotiations with the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) immediately, with the aim of reaching a basic consensus to take to the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) for consideration;

b) agreeing that the PSC will be a time-bound process, with a formal agenda building upon discussions with the TNA; PSC deliberations will not delay elections to the northern provincial council; and its outcomes are to pave the way for further devolution or other forms of power sharing;

c) holding free and fair elections for the Northern Provincial Council by early 2013;

d) implementing the thirteenth amendment so as to maximise powers granted to all provinces, beginning by appointing civilian governors in the north and east with the confidence of their councils; introducing legislation to reduce governors’ powers; giving the northern and eastern councils adequate financial resources and new powers to raise revenue; and consulting meaningfully with them on development projects; and

e) withdrawing the Divineguma bill and instead decentralising decision-making on economic development to give local government significant input into and control over resources and projects.

7.  Begin rapid demilitarisation and return to civilian administration in the north and east by reducing significantly the numbers and public presence of troops, removing troops from all influence over development and humanitarian work and other civilian activities, and placing the police fully in charge of law enforcement.

8.  Acknowledge and take concrete steps to respect the traditionally Tamil and Tamil-speaking character of the northern province and much of the eastern province, including by:

a) promising publicly that there will be no state-spon­sored demographic change leading to the Sinhalisation of traditionally Tamil and Muslim areas in the north and east;

b) protecting land rights, ensuring transparent processes for land policies and transactions, returning real property seized by the military and offering compensation when private land is used or taken; and

c) protecting the cultural and religious rights of Tamils, both Hindu and Christian, as well as Muslims, including by ending the military-supported construction of Buddhist statues and temples in the north and preventing and punishing damage to or destruction of holy sites.

9.  Revise immediately policies that are exacerbating grievances of Tamils in the north and east, including by:

a) giving family members the names and locations of all individuals detained by any government agency for suspected LTTE involvement; allowing open mourning of the dead; and assisting recovery of remains;

b) acknowledging credible evidence of extensive enforced disappearances of Tamils in the final stages of the war and initiating an independent investigation;

c) allow the Sri Lankan national anthem to be sung in Tamil at public events in Tamil-speaking areas and in both Sinhala and Tamil at national events;

d) ending harassment of Tamil political activists and allowing all citizens in the north and east to freely protest and criticise the government and military without risk of violence or disappearance; and

e) reducing restrictions on and harassment of humanitarian workers and community groups, allowing them to determine priorities, with input from local communities, and increase assistance, including in housing, livelihoods, and gender-based violence and psycho-social programming.

10.  Act immediately on other longstanding and legitimate grievances of Tamils throughout the island by:

a) guaranteeing their physical security and respecting their basic human rights; disarming illegal armed groups; ending abduction, disappearance and arbitrary detention as means of political control and ceasing harassment of Tamil women by military personnel; ensuring credible, independent investigations of past abuses; and establishing local and regional control and accountability mechanisms for all security forces;

b) guaranteeing the right to use their language, especially when doing business with state officials; and

c) ending all forms of discrimination, including with regard to government assistance, state jobs, courts and the police, and by increasing the percentage of Tamil-speakers in the security and public services.

11.  Expedite implementation of the core recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, in particular reversing consolidation of power in the presidency and military by repealing the eighteenth amendment to the constitution and restoring constitutional limits on presidential power over the attorney general and judiciary; reestablishing independent commissions on human rights, police, elections, bribery, finance and public service; removing the police from the defence ministry; and ceasing intimidation of the judiciary, beginning with the withdrawal of impeachment proceedings against the Supreme Court chief justice.

12.  Cooperate fully with UN and other international agencies, including in implementing the March 2012 Human Rights Council resolution; invite all relevant special procedure mandate holders to visit before the March 2013 session.

To the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress, other Muslim Parties and the United National Party:

13.  Reaffirm support for devolution of power, beginning with rapid, expansive implementation of the thirteenth amendment, followed by reforms designed to increase, not reduce, effective devolution of power.

To Sri Lanka’s International Partners, including China, India, Japan, the U.S., UK, EU, UN, Australia, and the International Financial Institutions:

14.  Press the government for quick, irreversible, and genuine action to address Tamil grievances and pave the way for a lasting political solution, including most urgently:

a) public recommitment by the president to implement the thirteenth amendment fully, followed by immediate return to bilateral talks with the TNA, prior to activation of the PSC;

b) elections to the northern provincial council by early 2013, accompanied by demilitarisation of the north, its full return to civilian administration and a range of other policy changes to foster reconciliation;

c) allowing all UN special procedure mandate holders who desire to visit Sri Lanka to do so in time to report to the March 2013 Human Rights Council session; and

d) fulfilment of the March 2012 Human Rights Council resolution, including rapid implementation of the core Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Com­mis­sion recommendations to establish independent bodies to hold presidential and military power to account and credible, independent investigations of alleged war crimes.

15.  Ensure that development aid does not further consolidate an undemocratic, ultimately volatile political regime in the north and east; insist on transparency, external monitoring and non-discriminatory community participation in setting its priorities; and condition all loans and development aid, including from the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and International Monetary Fund, on demilitarisation and democratisation of the north and east.

To the Secretariat and Member States of the Commonwealth:

16.  Insist that the Sri Lankan government take the actions listed in recommendation 14 above, and agree that in the event it fails to do so, the October 2013 Commonwealth heads of government meeting will be moved from Colombo to an alternative location.

Brussels/Colombo, 20 November 2012

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Latest comments

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    ”To the Sinhala Votebank” is most unfortunaterly missing – for 64yrs they’ve not been demanding fairness to their fellow citizens and have been ”dancing” to the tunes of politicians seeking POWER.

    Here lies the shortcoming of the ”third party”

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    Copies of this reported, translated into Sinhala, should be made available to all MPs and Provincial Councillors in the country.
    The Sinhala and Tamil media should carry it prominently to generate
    a fresh discussion in the country. The Sinhala people should at least now understand what the world thinks of the National Question and of the regime. It is far too different to what the Rajapakses and the Sinhala extremists try to project.

    The perfidious double-speak of the regime is legendary and will only
    fool the Sinhala South. See the comment in the Report “Instead, it has adopted a policy of promising negotiations and expanded devolution in discussions with India, the U.S., and the UN Secretary-General, while denying these same things when addressing its Sinhala voting base”
    This is just one critical comment in the Report. There are many.
    The Tamil Nation and its main political representatives are aware of this although the State has hired a few Tamils to function as their pliable proxies.

    In as much as we left room for the arrival of a foreign army to settle the Sinhala obstinacy of 30/40 years re. the Language and Citizenship issues, we may open room for the repeat of the same by other forces if we do not solve our differences via the much heralded “home-grown solutions” – and that too soon.

    Senguttuvan

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      Is ICG the world to you Mr Senguttuvan?

  • 0
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    Nothing new here. Recycling is going on. The theme of the advise to the TNA is bridge-building, co-operation and reaching out. The recent election rhetoric of the TNA is the polar opposite, but effective in terms of votes received. The TNA will use return to this tested and proven method at the next election. That’s the end of that story. One more set of recommendations relegated to the dustbin of history.

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    Recommendations are quite comprehensive and sensible. More focus can be made on constituencies in the South (political and civil society) (1) to pressure the government to implement a reasonable solution and (2) to build solidarity with the moderate Tamil and Muslim constituencies i.e. TNA.

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    International Crisis Group is asking the Sri Lankan government to hold election to the northen provincial council. It has not explained why this has become necessary. Holding election to the NPC and thereby getting the TNA elected as suggested by ICG will not solve the Tamil problem. Pillaiyan’s Eastern Provincial Council demonstrated that the PC is a glorified village council. The elected councillors do not have any real power. The real power under the provincial council system asit is now set up remained in the hands of the Governor, who has the power to block the implementation of resolutions passed by the PC.

    ICG suggests the appointment of civilians as governors. That is not going to change anything. Whether the governor is a civilian or a military officer they are the agents of the President and chosen by him. They cannot refuse to follow the instructions of the President.

    What is needed is full devolution of power to the provincial councils or any other unit of devolution permitting them to function independently.

    ICG says TNA leaders have come under increasing pressure from their constituencies to adopt more confrontational language and tactics. The constituencis in the North and East Sri Lanka are not pressurising the TNA leaders. The real pressure is coming from the Tamil Diaspora who have no business to interfere in the affairs of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Having decided to leave the country and seek their fortunes in the western world, Tamil Diaspora have renounced their right to be Sri Lankan citizens. TNA leaders need not listen to them.

    ICG is very correct in its analysis that “Growing demands for the right to self-determination for the Tamil nation and hints that separatist goals have not been permanently abandoned have, in turn, provoked harsh reactions and expressions of distrust from Sinhala leaders”. ICG’s advice that “For the TNA to improve Tamils’ chances of receiving a fair deal from the state and, ultimately, some significant degree of power sharing, it will need to articulate grievances and the value of devolved powers more clearly and in ways that larger numbers of the other main communities – in particular Sinhalese and Muslims – can understand and accept as reasonable”, should be acted upon by the TNA. The problem is that TNA has so far not publicly anounced a set of proposals for the devolution of power. They do not have any concrete proposals. If they do not have a devolution package of their own, how can they approach the Sinhalese or Muslims and ask them to support it. If indeed TNA has presented any proposals to the government in their talks with the government,they should publicly announce them so that there can be an informed debate about it. In my personal opinion the TNA leaders are not interested in finding a solution to the Tamil problem. They only want to be MPs and Provincial Councilors.

    ICG is making a sensible suggestion that “The Tamil struggle for rights and freedom is likely to succeed only when the broader national struggle for the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, including the depoliticisation of the judiciary and the police, has made substantial progress”. What I wish to say here is that if we can do away with communal politics on the part of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, there will be no need for devolution of power. If our politicians can follow the example of Singapore in treating all citizens equal and allowing them equal opportunities to compete in all fields, be it employment, education or industry or commerce, we will not have a Tamil or Muslim problem in Sri Lanka.

    ICG is also giving a good word of advice when they say ask to “Acknowledge the LTTE’s role in deepening ethnic tensions and its shared responsibility for the suffering and massive loss of Tamil life in the final stages of the conflict and support inclusion of the LTTE’s actions in any independent international investigation into possible war crimes or crimes against humanity”. TNA has not officially criticised LTTE for the heinous crimes it committed against the whole Sri Lankan population and for holding the Tamil civilians as human shield in the days leading to the final battle in Mullivaikal.

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    Political Solution is for whom ?

    For politicians or for the minuscule minority (eg. Senguttuwan) who scream for Tamils OR HONESTLY FOR TAMILS ?

    Who will benefit the most, Politicians, low caste sufferers like senguttuwan or Tamils as a whole ?

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    It is best Jim Softy comments on matters he has personal knowledge of.
    Caste is generally agreed as one subject society in the region seeks to dismantle – for good reason. Besides class displacing caste today both in India and here, there are many other welcome features that suggest society will succeed in removing this man-made divisive barrier with the passage of time. What adds hope is the move and resolve is lead by those in the higher tiers of the caste system.

    If you must know, I come within that identified as higher castes.
    Some in the immediate family are also traditional Brahmins.

    Senguttuvan

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    I respect reader Naga’s right to doubt holding of elections in the North is not the panacea for all its ills. I would rather go with the very large number of Tamils who believe the initial exercise of a free and unfettered PC election will fall within that part of the goodwill the ruling elite is trying to impress the world with as their good intentions to be just to the long-suffering Tamils.

    He, like some others here, appears fixed more on personal scores with the TNA – that is regrettable as we are engaged in seeking finding formulaes for the future and lasting good of the Lankan Tamil people.

    The less than satisfactory role and record of Pillaiyan and the EPC is an irrelevant comparison here. Neither Pillaiyan nor Karuna are made of material for governing. They are semi-literate liberation fighters
    totally cut-away for long from civil society. They are totally wanting in the multiple demands of leading and managing the many interests of millions of people. It is common knowledge the philanderous Karuna has descended into murder, lechery and everything undesirable in civil society in the post-conflict period. Therefore, there is every likelihood, the TNA lead by senior lawyers and political leaders, will perform better.

    When the Rajapakses conspired to elevate Pillaiyan they had no intention of giving him or the Tamil-speaking people of the EP any powers. No wonder Pillaiyan was to complain to the Indians and to the public “I do not have the power to even appoint a peon” The aim of the Rajapakse was to accelerate the State-aided Colonisation in the recently-predominant Tamil EP, with Pillaiyan on the seat, a task they have achieved to levels well beyond their dreams. Today, there is not a single Tamil in the Cabinet of Ministers is an achievement the Rajapakses have good reason to sell to the Sinhala electorate in the next elections. The Rajapakse family certainly have reason to celebrate here although the fears of the Tamil people of the District continues unabated.

    I differ with Naga on the matter of a Tamil Governor. While it is true the Governor will be a Central Govt appointee a Tamil is likely to resist moves from the Centre in instances where the interest of the Tamil-speaking of the area comes to play. Whereas the situation is different now with a Sinhala non-civilian Governor. I believe if the tenure or functions of a Tamil Governor is to be made difficult by the Centre, the accompanying adverse publicity – local and foreign – will go a long way in checking the mala fide intentions of the rulers.

    Naga continues “What is needed is full devolution of power to the provincial councils or any other unit of devolution permitting them to function independently” I am in total agreement here – but does the regime, who had nearly 4 years to establish their bonafides to the Tamils, have the appetite for such a Statesman-like stance. Naga, Tambimuttu and others in the EP must impress the regime to allow this welcome facility.

    It is up to the TNA to answer why they have not announced a set of detailed proposals. If I am to hazard a guess, it may be because it is upto the Govt to lay down the formulae as to what is on the table for the TNA to come out with the nitty gritty of what they think are the minimum for the Tamil Nation.

    To state the Tamils in the NEP are not pressurizing the TNA and that they are under pressure only from the diaspora is to misread the aspirations of the Tamil people in the ground. This is language structured to conform to that of the regime’s dictate and propaganda machinery. While I agree the Tamil Nation within must make decisions of the present and future, I must add if not for the agitation and 24x7x365 pressure from the diaspora, the Lankan Tamil Nation’s struggle for survival would have long been a distant cry in the wilderness – totally forgotten by the region and the world. To that,
    no less to many other, the Lankan Tamil Nation under continous siege
    must be thankful to the diaspora.

    Senguttuvan

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    Some writers seem to think that people of this country have borne again or their memories have been erased somehow.

    People do not forget that not long ago, TNA declared LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil people. TNA has been the political extension of the LTTE and it’s confrontationist politics have never ceased.

    Forget about, upcountry Tamils or the Muslims, the Jaffna centric TNA politics (like LTTE) would not serve even the Eastern Tamil interests.

    ICG seems to be desparate in uniting all Tamil speaking people under the seperatism’s local political vanguard that would help in their mission of regime change.

    TNA’s agenda is still driven by the Vaddukkodai declaration of war on the rest of the country. Until that changes, TNA cannot be treated as a honest negotiating partner though some engagement has to be maintained because Northern Tamils have mandated it as such. It tells another story of Northern Tamil mind set.

    The status quo remains and the rest of the country is compelled to keep it’s guard at an elevated level which includes a heightened level of defensive preparedness in the former conflict areas. Outsiders like ICG cannot provide for country’s security and territorial integrity.

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    Senguttuvan I respect your stand that the SL government has to be pressured to come up with some kind of solution to the Tamil problem.

    You stated that if not for the agitation and pressure from the Tamil diaspora the Lankan Tamil Nation’s struggle for survival would have long been a distant cry in the wilderness – totally forgotten by the region and the world. Do you sincerely think that what the pro-LTTE Tamil diaspora’s agitation against Mahinda Rajapakse and the Sri Lankan Government is really helping the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils. Look at what they are doing. Every time Mahinda Rajapakse visits a western nation they are out with their LTTE flags calling him a murderer and terrorist forgetting that the slain LTTE leader Prabaharan should alone be blamed for the killing of innocentTamils in Mullivakal. Not just Rajapakse and his brother, but the whole Sri Lankan nation including the silent Tamils wanted an end to LTTE’s reign of terror. Prabaharan was aware at least by April 2009 that the final disastrous end of his outfit was inevitable, but despite this knowledge he refused to let go the 300,000 Tamils he kept as human sheild. He wanted those Tamils to be killed by the Sri Lankan Army so that there will be an outrage in the western world similar to the one seen in Serbia which would usher in his Tamil Eelam like the creation of Kosovo in the aftermath of Serbian atrocities. Prabaharan and his LTTE never respected the value of human lives. He willingly sacrificed those innocent Tamils he kept as human shield.

    Now coming back to the activities of the pro-LTTE diaspora, any impartial observer of Sri Lankan Tamil politics will tell you that they are working on their own agenda, namely, the revival of armed struggle aimed at creating their utopia, the Tamil Eelam Nation. They are not interested in finding a settlement within a united Sri Lanka. It is this reality that compels the Rajapakse regime to tighten their hold on the Tamils living in country.

    Rajapakse government knows well that the current crop of TNA leaders have skeletons in their cubboards and that they are not sincerely interested in the settlement of the Tamil problem. Mahinda Rajapakse knows well that all sound bites coming from the present TNA leaders about the ill treatment of the Tamils are for the consumption of the Tamil populace.

    Senguttuvan you should be knowing that all the TNA MPs who lash out at the government within and outside Parliament go behind the government Ministers seeking favours for their kith and kin as well as their supporters. Mahinda Rajapakse and his government know this well and would not mind. I have heard of a story how Mavai Senathirajah went behind Basil Rajapakse to get a big favour done for one of his close relatives. Look at the past of this guy Suresh Premachandran. He was working for Chandrika and Mahinda in varous roles. How can Suresh Premachandran go against his former master Mahinda Rajapakse. The other day Douglas Devananda during the Budget Speech vividly described the background of “Sabra” Saravanapavan MP and “Mandayan Group” Suresh Premachandran MP.

    Senguttuvan you mentioned I am fixed more on personal scores with the TNA. Now do you realise why I feel that the present set of TNA leaders and MPs except for Sumanthiran and Sampanthan are self seekers and not at all interested in the welfare of the Tamils. The present TNA leadership lack the capacity to lead the Tamils. I do not see any intellectuals or statesmen among them who can make any impression among the diplomats or foreign dignitaries. We have lost stalwarts like Amirthalingam, Sivasithanmparam and Neelan Thiruchelvam. That is the reason why a poltical novice like Sumanthiran has become the spokesman for the TNA and is being noticed by the diplomatic community.

    I do agree with you that “neither Pillaiyan nor Karuna are made of material for governing”. As you rightly said they are “semi-literate liberation fighters totally cut-away for long from civil society”. Unfortunately they are favoured by the Rajapakse government for its own reasons. Eventually they may prove a liability to the government. But remember Rajapakse government may now be using them for its immediate needs perhaps because of the lack of any other alternatives but will be prepared to throw them overboard if the necessity arises.

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    It is clear there is much more where my perceptions agree with those of the articulate commentator Naga – than otherwise. Last night I read an interesting interview in the Sri Lanka Guardian where Fr Emmanuel of GTF makes it clear much of the diaspora too are for the reduction of differences and tensions with the Rajapakse family. Father refers
    affectionately “to my Sinhala brothers” “his love of Buddhism” and the close work he did with Buddhist priests while he served in Kandy and his many years interacting with the Sinhalese in Colombo. The space thus created must be judiciously and enthusiastically handled at the earliest by the Rajapakses who are insistent they are looking for Tamils in the diaspora to work with.

    I am but one of the many Tamils agreeing the SLA did all of us a favour by removing VP, who midway of the struggle, slipped into despotic fascism. Allow me to reiterate the vast majority of the Tamil Nation today see no further need of an armed struggle – as matters stand today. All they want is the restoration of their inalienable right to carry on their lives and avocation peacefully; free of the fear of attack to their persons and property from the SLA or its proxies; the right to run their affairs in the same manner allowed to the other 7 Provinces with adequare financial provisions.

    As to the demos against President MR when he ventures to the West, my reading is this is not going to go away until the regime take early and meaningful steps to empower the Tamils to run their affairs and satisfactorily settle the many other contentious matters between the two sides. This must be sans the empty shower of shallow rhetoric one is accustomed to see/hear in the past 4 years. I must add much of the pressure in these demos come from the extremists among the radicals – generally unemployed because of their criminal records and used to living luxuriously in their earlier role as “Collectors” under the LTTE name. Tamils in the diaspora are relieved these unwelcome elements are disabled – but there is always the fear they can come back if matters do not improve in the Tamil Homeland.

    I have no contest with you the TNA frontline even today has men we can do without. As to getting favours from Govt Ministers, I must say this is not quite uncommon nor irregular. MPs, on both sides of the divide, maintain cordial relations and this has been going on for a very long. Some of them have been together in the House for a long time. It becomes an issue only if the favour done lacks credibility. After all development funds are given by the Govt to MPs in the Tamil areas too.

    As to Shabra Finance, the least mentioned the better. How the man got into Parliament – something he was working for a long time – surprises many. I think it is time the defrauded depositors went to Courts now. He may have earned sufficiently by now to pay back.

    By the way, I have heard Sumanthiran, speaking for the TNA in the Sinhala South, mentioning the LTTE shot and killed Tamil civilians during 2009. I believe he has mentioned this elsewhere too. I do not agree with you the LTTE alone should be held for killing civilians in Mullaivakkal. So it is long in coming for the “Rajapakses to loosen the hold on Tamils in the country”- to use your phraseology.

    I refer to your comment on the EP issue “remember Rajapakse government may now be using them (Pilliayan/Karuna)for its immediate needs perhaps because of the lack of any other alternatives..” Forgive me, but I think there are many educated in the Batticoloa area familiar with governance to fill in the gap. But that, as you say elsewhere, is not in the Rajapakse Agenda. I am sure you yourself will know many in your circles to fill in the gap following due process. You could well be one.

    Senguttuvan

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    I expect reader Naga has seen the comments of Anpu (25/11) in this blog where Minister Vasudeva N responds to Prof Kumar David on another issue. Anpu probably is from the Batticoloa Distrct or is well informed of current events there. His report on land grab of Tamils and Muslims in the area is disturbing and in total contrast to the
    picture Naga painted in favour of the regime where the impression sought to be conveyed is that Tamils have little to complain there.

    I certainly like to hear Naga’s contradiction here. If Anpu comments are not challenged Naga’s comments will unfortnately remain an uncharitable dis-serve to those Tamils suffering the loss of their properties in the NEP.

    Senguttuvvan

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    Hela (24/11) – No. But the regime must give sufficient weightage to the report. The Report can be ignored or rejected to one’s own peril.
    And remember, there are two sides to a story as the regime – and some in your trajectory – learnt vide the last UNHRC censure in Geneva.

    Senguttuvan

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