29 February, 2024


Tamils: Broker Politics Or Democratic Action?

By S Sathananthan

Dr. S Sathananthan

The more incisive comments on my previous posting, The Meanings of Wigneswaran, raise several, inter-related issues that have been central to the Tamil Question and still bedevil action. This writing responds to and builds on them and attempts to probe further.

It is necessary at the outset to clarify an unfortunate misreading in one comment, that my arguments envisage ‘a need to fight the regime’. It’s ludicrous on my part to suggest Tamils ought to ‘fight’ the regime. That vocabulary belongs to the LTTE era.

Instead I strongly underlined, ‘the utterly desperate need today is to campaign and mobilise’ Tamils. Campaigning and mobilising are universally recognised democratic activities; they are integral to the exercise of the fundamental right of freedom of expression. It’s a pity these long established, legitimate avenues for peoples’ participation are interpreted in the LTTE idiom of ‘fight’ (5 times) and ‘force’ (twice) in that comment.

The time-tested power of the people is not our discovery. Tamil politicians paid lip service to peoples’ power during the Ilankai Tamil Arasuk Katchi’s (ITAK) 1961 Satyagraha. The new-and-improved Tamil United Liberation Front’s (TULF) 1976 Vaddukkoddai Resolution called ‘the Tamil Nation in general and the Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully into the sacred fight for freedom’. The LTTE and V.Pirapaharan took the urging to heart and, no doubt dismayed by the impotence of Tamil parliamentary politics, had launched mass armed resistance.

More recently, the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) too urged popular mobilisation. During an August 2011 public ceremony in Jaffna TNA leader R.Sampanthan, while criticising the Colombo regime, aggrandised the TNA was pondering ‘alternative ways that he characteristically dodged spelling out. A Vanni TNA parliamentarian Sivasakthi Ananthan helpfully elaborated that the Alliance intends to ‘build up from the grassroots a powerful base of civil struggle’.

However, a popular, sustained mobilisation by Tamil politicians is yet to see the light of day whether before, during or after the LTTE phenomenon!

Instead they appear fixated on mandates. After submitting nominations of TNA candidates for the Northern Provincial Council (NPC) elections, Wigneswaran firmly declared in Jaffna on 29 July he would seek Tamils’ ‘mandate’ for the 13th Amendment (13A).

That brought memories of another, more far-reaching Tamil mandate. The TULF had based its 1977 election manifesto on the Vaddukkoddai Resolution and garnered an electoral mandate (about 75%) from Tamils in the north and east to establish an independent State of Tamil Eelam. When TULF’s parliamentarians, with A.Amirthalingam in the lead, smugly strolled into parliament mandate in hand, President J.R.Jayawardene virtually spat on it! Lacking bargaining advantage since they were incapable of mobilising Tamils’ street power, they tucked tails between legs and perched on Opposition benches while meekly floating the canard that the Resolution has been shelved on the advice of friendly but unspecified ‘foreign interests’.

Memories also flow back of a 1993 conversation we had with one of those firebrand thookku-maedai-panju-meththai-type Tamil politician at his residence. His party was gearing up for the 1994 parliamentary elections in which it hoped to secure a mandate to negotiate on Tamils’ rights. Quite out of curiosity I asked him what he intended to do with the mandate. ‘We’ll take it to the Sinhalese people. They must accept it.’ ‘They won’t’, I replied. Visibly annoyed, and perhaps expecting me to wilt as his party minions do, he vigorously slapped the table for emphasis: ‘it will be the democratic mandate of the Tamil people’; and wagging a thick finger (which inevitably made me think of the subsidised parliament cafeteria), ‘they [Sinhalese] have to accept it.’ I smiled but pursued: ‘true; but they’ll not accept it.’ Lost for words, he turned on me: ‘what would you do?’ I explained Tamils should be democratically mobilised to confront President D.B.Wijetunge in the streets. The politician’s attention wavered and, with a far away look in his eyes, he muttered: ‘they are not ready’; this, ignoring the LTTE had mobilised vast sections of Tamils. I quipped, ‘you mean you are not ready.’ The conversation ended abruptly.

The mandate Wigneswaran intends to seek during the Provincial Councils (PC) election campaign is a shadow of the one secured in 1977. Yet it ran into stormy weather within 48 hours. The United Peoples Freedom Alliance (UPFA) regime delivered a resounding political slap to the TNA and its putative messiah, Justice Wigneswaran; President Mahinda Rajapakse categorically declared on 31 July police and land powers will NOT be granted to PCs under 13A. As one comment on my article noted, ‘people give bones to canines after eating all the meat. 13 amendment [sic] is same. But the foolish canine guards its bone carefully!!’

Will Wigneswaran, who we are informed is a man with ‘character and a straight, uncorrupted reputation’, stand firm on the original 13A complete with police and land powers or would his knees bend to seek Tamils’ mandate for the excoriated one, meekly deliver it to Colombo and ask the ruling Sinhalese elite for Tamils’ rights?

This business of asking for rights takes me back to a discussion in the mid-1990s with a TULF stalwart who explained: ‘we go for talks on behalf of Tamils to ask for rights.’ ‘What if their answer if no’, I probed. ‘We’ll ask again’, he responded exasperatedly as if I were too dense to grasp the political process. ‘You can ask the Sinhalese a thousand times’ I countered, ‘but the answer will be no every time’. The essence of my position is that everywhere and always rights are not given; they are taken.

The point I made, that he refused to take on board, is the following: every form of power politics has its roots in the streets; Tamil politics is no exception. The history of social change in modern nations over the past two or three centuries incontrovertibly proves the utter centrality of peoples’ power. The Chartists and Suffragettes, the civil rights, anti-war, anti-racist and women’s activism as well as revolutionary movements testify that changes come about only when victims exercise organised power in the streets – the public spaces in the broad sense. The outcomes are then formalised and institutionalised through resolutions and legislation in councils and parliaments. In other words, law follows reality; but Liberalism characteristically puts the cart before the horse: that changes in law lead to transformations in society (or reality follows law) oblivious to how evolving social forces compel subsequent modifications in the legal regime.

At no time did Tamil parties mobilise Tamils to flex street power; the 1961 Satyagraha was a promising beginning but didn’t go beyond tokenism. Instead Tamil (as well as Sinhalese) politicians from the time of the 1920s Ceylon National Congress practised petition politics: it was introduced by colonial rulers and consists of the incrementalist tactic of the powerless, of selecting ‘brokers’ who are mandated to travel to power centres of the State elite and advocate their own peoples’ cause by appealing to the ‘good sense’ of the ruling elite to kindly acknowledge the fairness of requests. The ITAK politicians fell back on the same tactic in dealings with the Sinhalese elite; on more than one occasion they appealed to the ‘good sense’ of then Prime Minister S.W.R.D Bandaranaike during parliamentary debates over the 1956 Official Language Bill; the consequence is history!

Obviously it’s in the interest of broker politicians to keep that lucrative practice alive and not encourage and if necessary prevent peoples’ empowerment through popular participation. Consequently Tamil political culture is bereft of the much-needed tradition of democratic mobilisation and that made the average Tamil feel powerless and prone to falling at the feet of supposed messiahs.

The LTTE interregnum is an exception. Its armed power was a magnet to the Tamils rendered powerless and humiliated by broker politics. They saw opportunities in armed mobilisation to establish parity of power with Colombo and joined the Organisation in droves. In a historic departure the LTTE’s popular mobilisation empowered Tamils to confidently grasp the levers of emancipation themselves and strive for a new dawn.

The Sinhalese elite, threatened by Tamil empowerment, reacted in predictable ways. A majority bluntly accused Tamils of ‘dividing’ the country. A minority, who fancied themselves to be intellectuals, stridently slandered the LTTE as ‘undemocratic’, ‘fascist’, even ‘pol pot-like’ that is robbing Tamils of their rights (about which they have little to say in the ongoing post-LTTE war against Tamils)!

The LTTE-led empowerment of Tamils and the 6th Amendment (6A), which criminalised thought, word and deed aimed at promoting and building an independent Tamil State, together made the parliamentary politics of ‘brokers’ paying lip service to the Vaddukkoddai Resolution virtually redundant. They moved fast. They jettisoned the Resolution, took oath under 6A and contested national and local elections to claw back lost political space. Their parliamentary politics dovetailed with the Sinhalese elite’s evolving anti-Tamil counter-insurgency. In fact TULF MPs joined Chandrika Kumaratunge’s Peoples Alliance (PA) minority government and propped it up through the 1995-96 military campaigns, which culminated in the occupation of most of the Jaffna peninsula and expulsion of the LTTE.

Had the TULF withdrawn support, the PA minority regime will have collapsed and its occupation of Jaffna would not have come to pass. The TULF politicians – most of them are in the TNA – directly share responsibility for the violence Tamils suffered in 1995/96/97 and the horrendous Chemmani Mass Graves.

The TULF added insult to injury. The broker politicians insisted their abject collaboration must also be acknowledged during the armed forces victory celebrations in Jaffna in 1995 December. The party, through Neelan Tiruchelvam, dredged up a supposed Tamil pennant – a Nandi Flag – and had it raised to signal Tamils [read: TULF] too rejoiced the ‘victory’ over the LTTE!!

On the political front, the TULF and, later, TNA politicians were and still are an ineffective parliamentary minority that has not the remotest chance to stymie or deflect the Sinhalese nationalist juggernaut within parliament. The best they may do is make inconsequential speeches to the open derision of those blatantly chauvinist Sinhalese MPs. But they repeatedly conjured up the mirage of a constitutional path to Tamils’ emancipation and contested elections to reinforce the delusion, which they insidiously manipulated to undermine Tamils’ identification with LTTE-led empowerment; they poured their share of counter-insurgency poison into the Organisation’s popular base in the north and east. All this and more merely to cling to their electoral seats.

That’s not all. The TULF/TNA politicians collaborated with New Delhi; some were mercenaries hand-in-glove with the Indian and Sri Lankan armies against the LTTE.

To contain the TNA’s treachery, the LTTE needed a clutch of its own political figures to rival the party’s politicians. But during its three-decade long history the Organisation committed the strategic error of failing to produce even a single political figure who could credibly take to the hustings. So the LTTE leadership compounded the first error with a second; it recruited TNA MPs to serve as its proxies, who, it hoped, could be closely monitored. That disastrous move exposed LTTE’s political immaturity. TNA politicians turned their role as LTTE proxies around to garner greater support among Tamils, claiming with LTTE’s backing they could deliver more through their brand of parliamentary politics, and simultaneously threw the LTTE’s armed resistance into increasing disrepute. So, as one comment correctly noted, the slide in Tamils’ backing for the LTTE ‘occurred long before the end of the war in 2009’. And the Organisation’s mishandling of the contradictions with the people as well as internal splits further vitiated its mass base.

With the LTTE gone, the TNA is resurrecting its bankrupt broker politics. In his parliamentary address on 21 May 2013, Sampanthan sought duplicitously to bury the unique history of the LTTE’s State formation in the Vanni and Tamils’ empowerment under its leadership. Tamils, he claimed, ‘never had before and do not have now a sense of economic or political empowerment’; and he feigned regret: ‘the Tamil people do not have the ability to take control of their lives.’ He is rewriting history, to paper over TNA’s collaboration in the anti-Tamil counter-insurgency precisely to crush Tamils’ empowerment. In Sampanthan’s self-serving mindset, what Tamils need is more of the pre-LTTE brand of impotent politics!

A reader, Aaranya (my niece, as it happens) perceptively picked on the point about democratic mass mobilisation. She queried, ‘how do you mobilise a defeated population?’ That’s difficult, I agreed, but not impossible though it seems a daunting task after the literally bloody message delivered at Weliweriya. But we must not underestimate the lessons of the Arab Spring or the sea change being brought about, for example, by women’s popular mobilisation against Rape in India. After Weliweriya and similar military operations in the south, ‘is there a chance’, she persisted, ‘of a platform emerging where Tamils and Sinhalese can campaign and mobilise together?’ That, I replied, would depend on whether or not the south can generate a critical mass of activists – a tall order at present.

On the other hand, there is a glimmer of hope. TNA’s Batticaloa leader Selvarasa organised the Tamil residents of Maangkaadu and Kurukka’l-madam for a march to protest the desecration of Hindu Kovils. When the military reportedly strode up to virtually every household and warned protestors they would face the same fate as the Sinhalese residents of Weliweriya, he understandably hastened to add: ‘the TNA had held the protest march not against the police and the army but against the persons who carried out the desecration.’ Perhaps we could hope younger, vertebrate Tamils politicians not infected by broker politics would make a difference in the near future.

In the meantime, if elected, Wigneswaran may become the most recent in a long line of broker politicians. Apparently Sampanthan considers Wigneswaran’s legal background a definite advantage to present a cast iron argument for Tamil rights and a man who could stand upright and firmly ask Sinhalese nationalists to see reason. Before doing that, Wigneswaran may find it edifying to examine the emerging divide-chase-rule governance over Muslims allegedly guided by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). Evidently unsettled by the BBS, another comment on my article is confident Wigneswaran has the ‘ability [to] calm the fires of hatred’, which feat the Lord Buddha of course has yet to achieve. We fervently hope for the sake of the long-suffering Tamil people Justice Wigneswaran succeeds.

* The author read for the Ph D degree at the University of Cambridge. He was Visiting Research Scholar at the Jawaharlal Nehru University School of International Studies and is an international award-winning filmmaker.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Hello there,

    The TULF had based its 1977 election manifesto on the Vaddukkoddai Resolution and garnered an electoral mandate (about 75%) from Tamils in the north and east to establish an independent State of Tamil Eelam.

    There was never a mandate for “Tamil Eelam”. How does 47% combined vote for TULF represent a mandate for any thing?

    Following this resolution, the TULF went further and contested the 1977 election for the very specific purpose of obtaining a mandate from the electorates in the Northern and Eastern Provinces to establishment a separate state. The TULF did not get the mandate they sought, because only 47% of the combined electorate voted for them. Although the TULF received a mandate from the electorate in the Northern Province, ONLY 27% of the electorate in the Eastern Province supported them. Of the 12 members of Parliament representing the Eastern province, ONLY 2 were from the TULF. None of this has deterred their unlawful and undemocratic claim for the Eastern Province. However, the TULF must surely have been surprised and disappointed by the fact that ONLY 32.5% of the electorate in the Batticaloa district, with its 71% Tamil majority, voted for the TULF agenda at this election.


  • 0

    Mobilisation? Mobilise whom? The war widows numbering over 80,000? The paraplegics? The quadriplegics? The young and tender orphans? The IDPs who have no roof over their heads and no land to put up even a small shed? The fishers who have been deprived of everything?

    It is easy to pontificate from the cool climes overseas, living in comfort!

  • 0

    I am not sure this article is factually accurate:

    1. “In fact TULF MPs joined Chandrika Kumaratunge’s Peoples Alliance (PA) minority government and propped it up through the 1995-96 military campaigns. Had the TULF withdrawn support, the PA minority regime will have collapsed and its occupation of Jaffna would not have come to pass” – that government was not a minority government. The TULF worked with it on a new constitution but was never a part of the government
    2. “The broker politicians insisted their abject collaboration must also be acknowledged during the armed forces victory celebrations in Jaffna in 1995 December. The party, through Neelan Tiruchelvam, dredged up a supposed Tamil pennant – a Nandi Flag – and had it raised to signal Tamils [read: TULF] too rejoiced the ‘victory’ over the LTTE!!” – Neelan did not join any victory celebrations with a Nandi Flag.

    3. “That’s not all. The TULF/TNA politicians collaborated with New Delhi; some were mercenaries hand-in-glove with the Indian and Sri Lankan armies against the LTTE.” –untrue again. Name them if they exist.

    • 0

      To Old-Timer:

      Response to query no.1.

      About 20 years ago D Sithardthan of PLOTE, then pro-UNP, had advised the then UNP government to work towards a “political solution”; because, he advised, “then only the LTTE can be alienated from the masses and then only LTTE can be defeated or weakened”. (The Island, 10/Apr/94). So, the so-called “political solution” Sinhalese nationalist would offer without being compelled had little to do with Tamils’ rights; it was pristine counter-insurgency. The following year, the ITAK/TULF was more pro-active to decimate the LTTE. The party, with M Sivasithamparam in the lead, did not vote with the Opposition and bring down the rabidly anti-Tamil PA regime that unleashed the Dharama Yudhthaya (Buddhist Holy War) replete with the Sudu Nelum (White Lotus), the Buddhist symbol of worship. Instead they assisted its war budget through parliament to release funds for the Sinhalese army, which was barrelling towards the Jaffna peninsula in mid-1995.

      So propping up a regime does not always mean joining it. There are other ways. One way is to sit on Opposition benches but vote with the regime, to have the cake and eat it as well – a Tamil politicians’ trademark operation.

      Another way is to educate Sinhalese nationalists on the virtues of anti-Tamil counter-insurgency. When we (critical Tamils), including the late Kumar Ponnambalam, roundly condemned their abject collaboration in the war against Tamils, the ITAK/TULF parliamentarians and other quisling Tamil MPs met at a five-star hotel in Colombo to review “progress”; they brazenly concluded: “it was necessary for the Government to counter the LTTE” and parroted the counter-insurgency propaganda that the Tamil people are separate from the LTTE: they pleaded Kumaratunga must ensure that “Tamil civilians were not unduly affected by any Government action”. (Sunday Observer, 1/Sep/95)

      In the same treacherous vein the party extended assistance in early 2008 to neutralise the LTTE. Its leader Sampanthan , the Parliamentary Group Leader of TNA, pleaded: “Governments have to…come up with a proposal which constitutes a challenge to the LTTE. And if they are not ready to accept them [sic] then it becomes our duty to take it up on behalf of the people. We will not fail in that.” (Sampanthan, R, “India could back Tamil people against the 13th Amendment”, Daily Mirror, 26/Jan/08) In other words, as Sithardthan and Sivasithamparam had done earlier, Sampanthan too sought to educate and assist the Sinhalese nationalists to recognise their own enlightened self-interest – to divide and rule Tamils – by (a) accommodating the “moderate” ITAK/TULF/TNA politicians and (b) marginalising the radical LTTE.

      By late 1998, he was emboldened by the regime’s claim that the long awaited military victory is imminent. Sampanthan no longer conceded leadership to Pirapaharan; “the twenty-two [ITAK members] in parliament”, he declared categorically, “are unquestionably the representatives of the Tamil people of the North-East.” (“Tamils still want safety, security and a future in this country”, transcurrents.com, 24/Nov/08). This is hardly surprising since Tamil politicians have patiently perched in the wings to take centre stage after the Sinhalese army demolished the LTTE.

      Response to query no. 2

      I did not say Neelan joined the ‘victory’ celebrations. Instead I said Neelan was the prime mover behind the raising of the alleged Tamil pennant – the Nandi Flag – at that event. In fact Neelan is said to have been virtually on his knees supplicating President Kumaratunge since the army was opposed to the idea. On the President’s intervention the army did raise the standard but reluctantly: it hoisted the rag contemptuously well behind and at a non-polluting distance from the Lion flag! And TULF politicians were proud of their ‘achievement’!!

      Response to query no. 3

      The Tamil parliamentarians served as cat’s paws to New Delhi to cajole/coerce Colombo to offer a proposal, any proposal however duplicitous, that can be show-cased back in the constituencies and convince Tamils the LTTE is redundant. Their regular “pilgrimages” to New Delhi to receive “advice” are well know. Anyone who lived through the Indian occupation would have witnessed the “patriotic” work of the mercenary militants-turned-politicians whose camps were located cheek-by-jowl adjoining IPKF camps. One very close to the Jaffna university earned iconic status because a round-faced child soldier, not more than 12 years old and the brother of a mercenary, was often put on sentry duty at the check point opposite the camp and acquired dubious glory as “the cow and gate sentry”. In 1996/97 the same mercenaries accompanied the Sinhalese army from village to village identifying covert LTTE members and sympathisers. Today Wigneswaran is expected to lead this unprincipled mob for the benefit of Tamils!!!

      Below is the summary of a note received from Jaffna today (11 Aug):

      “I was surprised to see in Jaffna a lot of opposition from ordinary people to the candidature of Wigneswaran…they are asking who is he and on what basis he was brought… People are angry that Suresh [Premachandran] put his brother Sarves as a candidate and also made a deal for a [provincial] ministership [for brother] with Sampanthan [in return] for his support of Wigneswaran’s candidature… “

  • 0

    Leave alone Police and Land Powers..Can Mr.Vigneswaran survive as Chief Minister?Afterall Mr.Rajapakse can’t initiate any decision on his own.He
    will have to go before the Sinhale masses.We all know they will be shot down.
    The governor and the E.P.D.P. will be the real powers.
    I propose a separate provincial council for the entire Vanni with limited police and Land power for both Northern an Vanni provincial councils.This will take off the suspicion among the Sinhalese.After all it was the Vanni masses who faced the brunt of the war.They desperately need their own leadership,and safeguard from Jaffna agression.A practical solution isn’t it?

  • 0

    //The LTTE and V.Pirapaharan took the urging to heart and, no doubt dismayed by the impotence of Tamil parliamentary politics, had launched mass armed resistance.//

    Prabhakaran was a grade seven drop-out and a petty criminal allied with the Valvettithurai smugglers. He was an asst. to Kuttimani who was a “full time” smuggler. Smugglers’ grievances also a Tamil problem?

    But this same criminal also joined the UNP in 1987 to scuttle every thing.

    Killing Tamils or anti-Tamil riots is always a political capital for UNP and its TAMIL allies.

    This foolish doctor must explain why the Tamil parties always align with UNP! Now Sambanthan &co too do the same and holding the lion flag with UNP!

    Whenever SLFP and its allies come to power only, the so called “TAMIL PROBLEM” surface.

    • 0

      You bloody Sinkalam firmly embedded in the Sinhala Jungle headed by MR and his cronies. You cant fool us as to your identity. You are a coward hiding behind a Tamil Name.

  • 0

    this is one of the most interesting arguments advanced with regard to the current plight of Tamil people (and the population at large as the Weliveriya incident proves.

    Rather than generate the abuse that seems inevitable from those disagreeing with the views expressed by Mr. Sathananthan, I hope more informed and sane voices will prevail because the issues that he raises are more than relevant to every person living in this now-benighted land.

    This piece of writing opens the door to some enlightened debate and I hope that those who lived through the times that the writer describes will take advantage of the opportunity to indicate what they think are the lessons that should have been learned rather than descend into the trap set by those who used that terminology in the fraudulent exercise recently performed by the current regime.

  • 0

    dreams for afar ..

  • 0

    Though roundly condemned and soundly defeated, the writer can argue still. He seems to advance the thesis that an ‘epithet coiner’ can succeed where ‘broker politicians’ have failed. Let the deliverer try.

    If facts are wanting, weave out fiction. From 1994 November to the end of its term the government had 130 seats or more and never was in danger of defeat. There was never an occasion for the TULF to prop up a collapsing regime. Why trot out the pernicious argument that the TULF played the traitor?

    Can the writer with his venomous vendetta take the Tamils to anywhere other than bottomless perdition?

    • 0

      Please see my response to Old Timer above.

  • 0

    As your article refers to my comments, albeit without crediting them to me, I thought it is only right I respond to it. Firstly, I see you take offence to me saying that you are instigating a ” fight”. The point is this, whether you call it a fight, mobilisation or red mercury, what you are instigating is for a revolution of some sort, for the people of the northeast to come on to the street and protest. My point is there is no appetite for any of this mobilisation amongst Tamils of SL. Tamils of SL have come a full circle and they now realise what is possible and what is not possible. How do you want the people to mobilise? Do civil disobidience? As the experiments during SJV’s time show that will never work for SL Tamils. Mobilisation and civil disobidience can only work when a majority of people struggle against the establishment. That’s why it worked in India and South Africa. By definition the Tamil problem is a minority problem and civil disobidience will never be an answer. Secondly, what if the govt decides to ignore your mobilisation and civil disobidience ? For how long can you boycott work, school and day to day life? As I said in my comments to your other article, what you are suggesting is something that has no takers in SL. The people of the northeast now want a breathing space where they can have some of their basic demands met. 13A is not capable of even fulfilling this basic requirement in its current form. All Tamils know this. But it will be a starting point. A point from which we can start to convince our fellow Sinhala and Muslim citizens of our commitment to a united Sri Lanka while pressing them to understand the fairness of our request for more devolution of powers. This is the reality. This is the current Tamil mandate. The resounding electoral annihilation of TNPF is the evidence to support this assertion. Thankfully TNA and CVW are alive to this fact and are representing the true , current Tamil mandate.

    Like many had pointed out above you got your proverbial underpants in a massive twist when it came to describing the CBK govt as being a minority govt. And your allegation that the TULF propped up the CBK govt is bordering on the ludicrous. They worked with CBK in order to give effect to constitutional reform, on the lines prescribed by Neelan T. To make an error is one thing, we all do it from time to time, but to make vicious attack on a political party on the basis of something that is a figment of your imagination is something else. Please refrain from rewriting SL history erroneously, if you can.

    • 0

      To Goshan Che:

      I cannot agree with you more. As you so succinctly put it, “the people of the northeast now want a breathing space where they can have some of their basic demands met.” Very correct. But my point is: how do Tamils carve out the “breathing space” in the face of the triumphalist Sinhalese regime that will not yield an inch, that has the north and east under the jackboot? Already, well before the NPC elections the regime has slapped down police and land powers under 13A. The best Sampanthan could do is to issue vacuous threats: in an interview to Thinakkural, he threatened to retaliate (pathil adi) at the appropriate time (thakka tharunaththil). Retaliation by Tamil politicians is akin to being savaged by dead sheep!
      Thank you for confirming “13A is not capable of even fulfilling this basic requirement in its current form.” But you seem to think “it will be a starting point. A point from which we can start to convince our fellow Sinhala and Muslim citizens of our commitment to a united Sri Lanka while pressing them to understand the fairness of our request for more devolution of powers. This is the reality. This is the current Tamil mandate.” From where on earth did that so-called “mandate” materialise? As will be evident from the note from Jaffna in my response to Old Timer above, there is not a glimmer of it in Jaffna. As for the assumed “reality”, I am afraid that is several galaxies away from the ground situation. The TNA has been purveying Disneyland politics: that accepting 13A in whatever mutilated form would convince the hard line and triumphalist south of Tamils “commitment to a united Sri Lanka”. On the contrary, the agenda of Sinhalese nationalism is to impose the national demographic ratio on the north and east. This has been explicitly stated by the regime. In short, the NP and EP must have an overriding Sinhalese majority and so should the NPC and EPC, which then will be headed by Sinhalese Chief Ministers. Accepting or rejecting 13A will not make an aorta of difference to the eventual outcome.
      The circus over 13A is TNA’s game of smoke-and-mirrors to mask their impotence to arrest that not-so-secret agenda. That agenda is totally backed by New Delhi and western powers.
      As for TULF’s collaboration with PA regime, please see my response to Old Timer above. And thank you for confirming TULF’s counter-insurgency tactic: “They worked with CBK in order to give effect to constitutional reform, on the lines prescribed by Neelan T.”

      Your second comment evidently approves “The third option” which “is to go the TNA/ CVW way and work with moderate Sri Lankans.” I heard this for the first time more than five decades ago, in the late 1950s. From that time to now those proposing the option never specifically identified a convincing group of “moderates”. The Left-wing (LSSP/CP) held themselves up as “moderates” but their wheels came off in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Perhaps you could inform the Tamil people who the much vaunted “moderate Sri Lankans” are and assess their political weight vis-à-vis the triumphalist, Sinhala-Buddhist juggernaut.

      • 0

        Dr Satha,
        1) The mandate is found in all the election results since 2009. Every electrotechnical in the northeast has voted heavily for the TNA. On the hand, the TNPF which is the closest thing to your “mobilisation/ intifada” option uh

        • 0

          Continuation. . . .
          The people of northeast have spoken before. They will speak again in this election too. Their mandate is with the TNA, for what TNA is advocating now. If you dispute this assertion and think this is not the ground reality then you must adduce evidence to establish that the Tamil mandate is for an intifada of some sort. I have travelled for months to all parts of the country especially to the northeast since the end if the war. I have spoken to people at levels of the society. I detected overwhelming approval of the TNA stand and a wholesome rejection if the TNPF stand. This anecdotal evidence coupled with the objective evidence of the election results is what I have to backup my claim that the people’s mandate is with the TNA. What is your evidence to say that the people of northeast want an intifada? You might think it is the right course of action, but your will is not the people’s will. Unlike you TNA are the representatives of th masses. It is only right that they represent the will of the people.

          • 0

            You make some valid points about how nothing fruitful has come from the last 50 years from the moderates in the south. But I am sure that is also partly because us Tamils never made any efforts to build consensus at national level. Our leaders paid lipservice to the idea but never actually formed any formidable alliance with the progressive elements in the south. Hopefully TNA and more specifically CVW and Sumanthiran will be able to make some progress in this regard. There are good signs of change. There has been an absence of large scale mob violence against Tamils since 1983. The southern society of today has less to complain about the northern domination under the British rule. We have all tasted war and want to avoid another one. There is at least some effort towards language parity. Unlike pre 83 era, when the hardliners want to attack another minority ( Muslims) now they find it hard to get the masses behind them. Even when they do, they face public demonstrations by opposing right minded Sinhala people. And also don’t forget that for every Tamil who got hit by Sinhala goons, ten others were protected by right minded Sinhala people. So moderates have always been in the majority in both communities. Times move on. It took 200 years for the blacks of America to go from being slaves to the occupants of the White House. I am optimistic that SL too could once and for all be purged of this evil, racial politics. For that we need leaders like Sumanthiran and CVW. Don’t get me wrong. I am not naive to think this will all happen overnight. I do appreciate the difficulties in realising this vision. But one has to try. And trying is what TNA and CVW are doing.

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              The moderates that come to mind are Dr Bahu, Vasu, Jayalath (late), DEW and Rajitha. I agree most politicians in the south can not be termed as moderates at present ( unlike the southern public who are mostly moderates). However that is the nature of politics. One needs to awaken the silent majority in the south and make being a moderate more politically desirable. Then everyone would want to project himself as a moderate. Such a change will have to come from within the Sinhala people. What we can do is elect leaders like CVW, who will play a small part in making such an eventuality, reality.

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              Goshan Che,

              It is true pogroms – state sponsored violence – by civilian mobs against Tamils has subsided after 1983. But I wonder whether that means, as you put it, “there are good signs of change”. Post-1986, anti-Tamil violence was taken over by uniformed mobs and unleashed during so-called “security operations” and military campaigns to “liberate” north and east, again directed and protected by the State. What’s worse, most of the “right minded Sinhalese” you refer to turned patriots and cheered their “patriotic”. They don’t seem to be cheering after Weliweriya!

              You may have your reasons that the south is changing for the better. From my perspective, Sinhalese-Buddhist chauvinism has got an intra-venous boost of triumphalism post-Mullivaaikkal. And there is no effort whatsoever towards language parity (as argued in my previous response to your comment); in fact it’s the very opposite, evident from the imposition exclusively of Sinhalese in most of the northern and eastern administrations.

              If TNA is claiming it’s making progress on the language front, that’s undiluted bilge! They won’t get anywhere till Art 18 is amended to make Tamil also an official language of the whole country. That is utterly beyond their ken!!

              As for the southern moderates, let me briefly say that any Sinhalese politician who seeks votes in elections in the south invariably has to pander to the Sinhalese-Buddhist common denominator. The consequences are obvious.

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            Goshan Che,

            You are indeed correct in saying “The people of northeast have spoken before. They will speak again in this election too.” There is no dispute about that.

            From my perspective what matters at the end of the day is results.

            Tamils have “spoken” innumerable times in every election from Independence onwards. And they have granted “mandates” to ACTC, ITAK, TULF, TNA, Independents and the cow across the road, as it were.

            What have the Tamil politicians in these parties delivered?
            Have they rolled back or at least stopped a single land colonisation scheme? NO!
            Have they succeeded in making Tamil also the official language of the country? NO!
            Have they managed to repeal or amend a single anti-Tamil legislation? NO!
            Have they helped to bring to book a single Sinhalese person for the countless crimes committed during the plethora of pogroms? NO!
            Have they compelled investigations into the burning of the Jaffna Library, Chemmani Mass Graves and torture, rape and disappearances among Tamils? NO!
            What have the Tamil politicians done to deserve the peoples’ votes?

            Take the official language law. The 1987 13th Amendment altered Art 18 of the Constitution to read as follows:
            “(1) The official language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala.
            (2) Tamil shall also be an official language.
            (3) English shall be the link language.”
            Any lawyer worth his salt can see that Sinhala remains “The” official language of the whole of “Sri Lanka”!
            The Indian-inspired Amendment cunningly does NOT state in Clause (2) Tamil is the official language OF SRI LANKA. There are reasons why lawyers use or avoid a word; it’s not an accident. Tamil is simply an official language NOT of Sri Lanka but of nebulous status. It’s a deliberate deception New Delhi and Colombo foisted on Tamils.

            By accepting 13A, TULF shot down Tamils’ national right to have their language as an official language of the WHOLE COUNTRY. In other words they duplicitously jettisoned parity of language WITHOUT obtaining the much-flogged mandate from Tamils to do so.

            When questioned, what was the reaction of TULF’s legal eagles who accepted 13A? They agreed it’s not perfect but embraced it as a useful “starting point”! They kept Tamils in the dark about this much-lauded “starting point”. Worse still, how far have they come from that so-called “starting point”? Not one inch!!
            In fact TULF/TNA is pathetically incapable of enforcing implementation even of the jaundiced Clause (2) as Tamils who are compelled to record statements exclusively in Sinhalese at any police station know very well.

            Now Wigneswaran and TNA are blabbering about 13A minus land and police powers is a “starting point”. This “starting point” is shameless admission that Tamils’ rights have been surrendered, hardly ever to be retrieved.

            Whether or not Tamils have given their mandate to the TNA is frankly irrelevent. What Tamil intelligentsia has failed to do so far and must do starting today is to educate the people on how TNA politicians, like their predecessors, are taking the Tamils for an awful ride.

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          Goshan Che,

          Do you seriously believe that the war-ravaged, traumatised, defeated people are in any fit state of mind – mental or emotional – to grant anyone any considered “mandate” while the war is continuing post-2009? If the TNA claims it has a mandate, it is preying on a defenceless people and is an unconscionable fraud.

          Have you stopped to wonder why the rapacious powers – New Delhi, Washington, London and other hangers-on, who ruthlessly prosecuted the genocidal war against Tamils, are now falling over each other demanding the NPC elections must be held forthwith? Are they doing this out of goodness of heart??

          They are scheming to railroad a “mandate” to suit their interests before Tamils recover their senses and gather their wits. As usual, TNA is spinelessly collaborating in the anti-Tamil counter-insurgency and drooling at elections for their parochial ends.

          If the TNA has a shred of loyalty to Tamils, it would insist not on elections but on a viable interim administrations of some kind strictly for reconstructing the north and east.

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    excellent analysis. rights cannot be won through mere party politics, such as that followed by TNA. tamil people need leaders with backbones if they are to win their rights.

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    tamil nadu student uprising gives a glimmer of hope amidst all this party politics

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    Goshan Che

    For the second time you are seeking to drive home sense with a very sensible comment. Your effort is laudable

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      Thanks. I think most of us here including you and me, are trying to get the author to see how nonsensical his views are. I am afraid the good doc is not budging.

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    Your continuing failure to acknowledge that the LTTE was a colossal failure, and the role played in that by its staunchest supporters like you, leaves me no choice but to tell some hard truths.

    You mention your Cambridge PhD and all that; I even remember seeing your Pakistani wife and you in a documentary interviewing Musharaff when he was President . So, why shouldn’t the poor Tamil kids in the North-East get a chance to accomplish similar things for themselves and dream about a better life?

    30 years of armed agitation left the people maimed, widowed, blinded, orphaned, etc. What good will taking to the streets again achieve for them?

    It is true that the LTTE never had a political party of its own, like the Sinn Fein, but that was a result of fundamental problems with the character of the LTTE and its leadership. Without becoming a humane group and a humane leadership that genuinely cared for the people, there was no way the LTTE was going to trust the democratic will of the people. They coerced the TULF and other parties into forming the TNA , forced the TNA to say the LTTE was the sole representatives, and called the TNA their proxy, but doing so under duress didn’t make them LTTE proxies.

    It was not just during the final war in the Vanni that the LTTE showed its utter lack of concern for the people; all through the armed struggle, LTTE secured a ring around its leadership in rural areas to protect the leadership, leaving the people in the urban areas, whether in Jaffna, Trinco or Batticaloa, under the mercy of SL armed forces. A humane group that valued life and loved the people would not send thousands of children in waves to their death in a quest to capture Elephant Pass so that its leadership in Mullaithivu or Puthukudiyiruppu would feel safer from SLA attacks.

    When Tamil militants started the armed struggle way back in the late 1970’s, nobody — and I include myself — thought through the consequences to the economic life of the people, and of the unintended consequences– the massive exodus to the South and foreign lands, of the people voting with their feet by running away, leaving the impoverished, the elderly and the infirm in the homeland; and without being able to find enough able-bodied men to join them, the LTTE conscripted children and used them as cannon fodder.

    All that have fundamentally changed the character of Tamil society. The ease with which ex-LTTE cadres are now doing the dirty work for the Rajapaksa regime should dispel any lingering romantic illusions about the LTTE. Reciting the same old grievances and shouting the same old slogans from the past make no sense now. The diaspora wouldn’t return to the homeland even if you were somehow to achieve your dream of Eelam. So the TNA is doing the right thing by choosing people like Sumanthiran and CV Wigneswaran in charting a new course.

    If you are not happy with it, you can go back to the ground, and try to mobilize them yourself. See how many people are willing to take you up on it.

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      Great comment Angos, but when exactly did you realize the true nature of the LTTE and that it was a colossal failure? Clearly not at the beginning — you admit to not having thought through the consequences. So was it after the end in 2009, or did you wake up sometime during the 30 years??

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        Hi Rambo,

        It was clear to me when the LTTE started decimating other militant groups back in 1985/86. My disillusionment was kind of complete when LTTE started conscripting children. But I thought a transformation was still possible if there was enough pressure from within Tamil society. There is a lot to say on all that, including the implacability of the other side–state terrorism. But the issue at hand is TNA’s choice of CVW and let us stick to that.

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    Mr. Sathananthan is an old, cliched and worn figure with nothing new to say. He calls for street protests and demonstrations. That will not work. Just witness what happened in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood impotent. Or Turkey a few weeks ago. What we need is the politics of a hard bargain supported by outside powers keen to influence the outcome in a manner that is congruent to our interests for their own geo-political imperatives.

    Wigneswaran is the best candidate we have. I do fear however Mavai Senadhirajah’s attempts to undermine him repeatedly at the expense of the Tamil people. We need to turn the chapter and move to a new era to win our rights. And for that the Shanti Satchidanandans and Sathananathans are less relevant.

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      To Ananda:

      You have put on record what appears an interesting formulation: “What we need is the politics of a hard bargain supported by outside powers keen to influence the outcome in a manner that is congruent to our interests for their own geo-political imperatives.” The 16th Century Kotte King Dharmapala employed a similar “stategy” when he invited in the Portuguese traders/mercenaries assuming that his interest in defeating the challenge from Mayadunne would coincide with the Europeans’ geo-political imperatives. The rest as you know is history.
      In the mid-1980, those expatriate activists whom Dharmaratnam Sivaram (Taraki) contemptuously dismissed as “Eelam punditry” paid obeisance to the supposed “liberators” ensconced in New Delhi. At the beginning of “talks” under the 2002 CFA, I posted an essay on a North American web site outlining Washington’s geo-political stance and warning the LTTE that the US agenda is to crush Tamil resistance and deliver north and east to Colombo on a platter. Of all people, Anton Balasingam personally called the editor of the web site and peremptorily ordered it removed. The reason? He claimed it was the wrong time to post an anti-American article “when America is veering around to our side”. The rest, once again, is history.
      For the record I re-posted it as part of another article in different web site for the record. (http://tamilnation.co/forum/sathananthan/040922atoz.htm)

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    Wigneswaran is like Daw Aung San Su Kyi of Burma – a class act, a coup.

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      To Ananda:

      You claim “Wigneswaran is like Daw Aung San Su Kyi of Burma – a class act, a coup.” I trust it is a polemical statement; if not, then the only conclusion possible is that you know neither Wigneswaran nor Aung San.

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    There is a Tamil saying, “அழுதழுதும் பிள்ளையை அவள்தான் பெறவேண்டும்”. It translates as “despite her cries ( pain) it is the mother who has to deliver the child”. The masses of northeast are politically more astute than their counterparts in TN or the diaspora. Let them decide which way they want to go. There are three options in front of them now. Option one is to go with UPFA. This tantamounts to succumbing to the racial hegemony from the south. Option two is to go down the ” mobilisation ” path the author so passionately articulate from a safe distance. Even The author’s favourites, TNPF seem to be having second thoughts about this suicidal option. The third option is to go the TNA/ CVW way and work with moderate Sri Lankans, with the help of India and others to find a workable power sharing solution. Let the people decide.

    BTW, I have a question for the author. TNA is clear they have no interest in your preferred method. If you are serious about this who will lead this mobilisation ? Don’t say TNPF. No one can lead any mobilisation from either TN or diaspora. History has taught us that though the efforts of TN and diaspora have an effect, this effect is very minimal. If covil society, students and politicians all don’t want to touch your mobilisation option with a barge pole, what does it say about the appetite of the people of northeast for such a venture.

    I think you are making the same mistake VP made. Not realising that you can’t force people to mobilise for their rights. The only consolation is unlike him, you seem not to have the courage of your words, to practice what you preach ( I think it is safe to assume you won’t be flying to Jaffna any time soon to take charge of this mobilisation project). Therefore your ideas I hope will not result in more bloodshed and remain on paper, as unrealistic, unworkable rhetoric.

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      I wonder how Satha our Cecil B De Mills of would have LTTE Elam be coping with all these gratuitous remarks not unlike when I responded to an e-mail his friend one Cramer had forwarded to me on their mutual thought and feelings on anachronistic Marxist ideals. When Satha asked me for an apology for this I told him to “go to hell” and that is what I reiterate here too.

      As I am not a thick crocodile skinned survivalist on a one time American wife and now another well connected and rich textile mill owning Pakistani wife whilst trying to thrive on some dim-witted Tamils whom he and his ilk used as cannon fodder for more for their own self aggrandisements and so-called great hopes of emancipation from the Sinhala-Theravada-Buddhist harmonists’ whose outlooks are quite similar to MR driven by an underlying Buddhist theocracy.

      The counterpart Satha’s Tamil ilk was more about primarily avenging their so-called higher caste Tamil brethren for the inequalities and inequities of the past that has cost these very people more in life. limb and property and set the socio-economic clock by several decades for all denizens of the island. Is it really still called Sri Sri Lanka in the light of all that is going on overtly and covertly or should be renamed the recent Burma or the new Zimbabwe of Asia in the making.

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    dear dr s sathananthan
    surely the self-serving tamil parliamentary politics is miles apart from tamil activism. your contribution and engagement here is invaluable to us. please continue to do so.

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      Is the Singhala parlimentary politics or Satha’s so-called politics and/or activism any different from the “self-serving tamil parliamentary politics”?

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      Thank you. Much appreciated.

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      Thank you for the kind sentiments.

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    Looking in its entirety it seems to be a staright forward exchange of words between the Dr & Goshan Che so why bother to join in. But then with the likes of the cross breed M.SIVANANTHAN offering a word of advice I thought why not say Arohara and join Kumbalai Kovintha.
    The Dr seems to be offering no solution other than to criticise every thing that the minority Tamils have done as if things had been done differently somehow the Sinhalese majority could have been tamed.
    But for his information as a minority against an inherent racist Society what ever we did was doomed to fail.
    Satyagraga and what Satyagraga it was a non starter against 120 mm caliber guns and we would not have stood a chance.
    The advent of the LTTE under Prabaharan offered some hope against an overwhelmingly racist enemy who would never give the Tamils anything willingly and it is not in their vocabulary.
    But he squandered it for a variety of reasons not all his fault some were due to mismanagement and some circumstantial. But that is now history and we need to move on.
    The choice of Mr.Wigneswaran offers us a realistic hope to right the wrong as he has all the right credentials and he was the Choice of the power players. USA, Britain and India.
    If proof was needed as to the genuiness of the interest shown by these powers one has to look at the following.

    1) Mr.Sambanthan and Mr.Sumanthiran are in America talking to State Department officials
    2) MR despite all his hawkish stand on the provisions of the 13th Amedments has now buckled under pressure and has accepted defeat. But 13th Amendment is only a starting point as it falls far short of Tamil Aspitarions.
    3) Mr.Wigneswaran is only a means to an end and he has all the right credentials and more than a match for MR.
    4) India has finally started to flex its muscles and we are seeing the results. a) Calling of the elections for the Northern Assembly b) Giving unfettered access to all the journalists including Callum McCrae c) Making it possible for Mrs.Pillai to visit the Island again with unfettered access. d) Manmohan Singh announcing that his decision to attend CHOGM will depend on the conduct of the Northern Assembley elections and the report of Mrs.Pillai.
    And many other announcements which no one could have dreamt of a few months ago.
    Just to add spice to MRs humiliation he has presided over the bombing of the Mahabhodi which has never happend before and we know who was behind it.

    Our immediate task is to achieve the basic requirement first and that is to be responsible for our own security , safeguard our language and heritage stop the destruction of our places of worship and build our shattered economy and give hope to the long suffering Tamil population and build on it. One might ask why are you so narrow minded and only worry about looking after your own and my answer to that is even if I wanted to extend my hand of friendship there are no takers as I am not born to rule Sri Lanka as the Sinhalese will never accept a Tamil as their Leader and you only have to look at Kathirgamar.

    Once that is in place we then have to spend all our energy and begin the process of Accountability and bring those responsible for the Genocuide to justice as without ACCOUNTABLITY there can be no RECONCILIATION.

    So I ask the Dr Please believe in God and Exude Confidence and it is not all Doom and Gloom.
    This is the begining and the BSET is yet to come. Together we will right the wrong.

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      To Kali,

      I share your optimism that the best is yet to come.

      If I understand your comment, there appear to be two interdependent avenues to building a better future.

      The first one is framed by, as you put it, “the power players. USA, Britain and India.” As you no doubt know, power politics is governed by interests, NOT by justice, fair play, friendship or morality. Since you expect foreign powers to play a role, it’s necessary to analyse at least two interconnected elements: (a) the national interests of the powers rooted in their home countries/economies and (b) their geo-strategic interests in South Asia/Indian ocean regions.
      Then you would have to explain how and what the powers stand to gain for themselves by intervening in the north and east and what crumbs may fall into Tamils’ laps.

      It is rather unwise to assume they would intervene in the interest of peace and justice or because they love democracy. That is disneyland politics. In this context, the four “announcements” you feel are evidence of “the genuineness of the interest” on the part of the powers unfortunately do not measure up.

      The second avenue is more the personality of Wigneswaran who, as you put it, “offers us a realistic hope to right the wrong as he has all the right credentials”. Here I can only reiterate the central motif of my argument: in the arena of power politics, Tamils must develop their own counter-veiling power. Without it Tamils have no choice but to suffer their lot. And the treachery of Tamil parties including the TNA is that they dodged building the all important counter-veiling peoples power. Worse still, they deliberately sabotaged and destroyed the counter-veiling power of the LTTE-led movement. Can Wigneswaran organise and build Tamil peoples’ power?

      Lastly, you seem perturbed that I have not offered a solution. I do not wish to add to the more than a hundred solutions/proposals for peace to be found in the archives of the meandering All Party Conferences (APCs) from 1984 onwards, the 1985 Thimpu Principles, the 1986 Political Parties Conference, Annexure C, etc, etc, etc. You may find it interesting to go through them.

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        Dear Friend,

        Thank you for clarifying some of the issues and in trying to answer some of the questions you have raised I start from the premise that a solution to the Tamil suffering is not going to come from within.
        It can only come about in two ways internally :
        1) Getting it ourself: Post LTTE we are too week to get it ourself by galvanisng all our strenth and demonstrating peacfully in the hope the majority will somehow recognise our rights.
        2) The majority granting it to us: History has taught us that this is not going to happen. It is 63 years since independance and we are still without our basic and fundamental rights and majorityof the Siunhalese are inherently racist which is in their Gene.

        So what is the alternative and that is to expect the international community to deliver Freedom , Justice and Equality to us. The Nation that holds the key to this is our big brother India for a variety of reasons.
        1) Sri Lankas sovereignty is limited to Indias Security because of its cloe proximity and there is a Cuban parallel here. All the other nations understand this.
        2) We have 7o million of our brotheren across the palk straight and we are historically, regligiously and culturally linked. This is an inevitable fact and What ever Delhi might think or not do the Tamilnadu factor is a potent one and that cannot be ignored without it having a knock on effect for the Indian Union.
        In the final analysis they are our saviours and the reason for the temporary difficulty is two fold. a) THe killing of Rajiv
        b) There is bad blood between Miss.Jeyalaitha and the centre.
        But with the General election in the offing things are begining to change both in terms of the attitude and actions . Some might argue that this politiking so what. The likelhood is that there will be a change at the top which will be to our advantage.I firmly believe that the Iron Lady will deliver in true MGR style and she made her intentiions clear as soon as she was ellected CM by passing a bill. But she is only a regional Leader and her influence is likely increase to National level after the General Election and that will have a telling effect.

        You pose the question that the Western Countries are always driven by National and Strategic interest and I disagree with that and would say that is true in some instances but not always so. I give credit to the Western countries that they might somtime be selective but they have also acted when there was a need to act on humanitarian grounnds as happened in Kosovo.
        In Sri Lanka for the west there is no Strategic interest as the only power player is India and I have given my reasons above.
        Just to explain why it is because India will not allow any country to have a military presence in Sri Lanka and that is fact.
        As I have eaxplained on number of ocassions we have one of the Natural Harbours in the world and Sri lanka could have earned billions by leasing it to the Americans but India would not alow it.
        Despite all the disinformation about the China Card, China is aware of Indias sensitivity in this area . That is why the Chinese defence Minister after visiting Sri Lanka went straight to Delhi to reassure India.
        1) India has a vested interest for reasons I have already given in resolving the Tamil grievances.
        2) America as the only super power also has a vital role at least on humanitarian grounds. I think this is amply demonstrated by a string of actions she has taken and the most recent one is the invitation to the TNA leaders for talk. This was not just for Tea and Biscuit.
        3) Britain has a moral responsibilty for our plight as the last colonial power.
        I am not naive to expect these countries to intervene militarily but they have enough leverage to bring pressure on a Tiny Nation such as Sri Lanak to make the difference and that is happening.
        The only reason why it has taken so long was because we alienated India by killing Rajiv which was a monumental error.

        As for your other doubt about Mr.Wigeswaran I take the view that he is a means to an end and his Choice as the next CM offers us a realic propspect of getting off to a good start for the folowing reasons.
        1) He has the intelect and is a more than a match to MR.
        2) He was I am told the choice of the power players
        3)) He appeals to every section of the Tamil Society and I hope he carries the can and will deliver the goods.

        Why am I optimistic and the reason is as follows.
        1) I am naturally an optimistic person.
        2) I believe in God and he has answered my prayer many times and he is starting to answer the Tamil Grievances.

        For me the treatment meted out to poor Krishanthi epitomises the Tamil Struggle ( which is still happening) and that should not be alowed to happen again .
        In order to avoid a such Inhumanity we must confine the barabaric army to the Barracks and Mr.Wigneswaran has already said that he does not have to ask the Centre for these powers as they are enshrined in the Constitution and let us wait and see what happena when he is elected as CM and carries out peoples mandate. The only reason the army are roaming tbe Street now is because there is direct rule and no elected body and this is why MR dealyed the election for the Northern Assembly but he buckled under pressure. If MR refuses to accept peoples verdict then we will be on a collision course and then the real battle will begin and that is when your theory of mass mobilisation of people and peacful agitation infront of the World will become a reality and will have the desired effect. MR cannot send the army in to quell or open 120 mm caliber guns as he would have done 30 years ago.
        That is why I said this is just the begining and the Best is Yet to come and we will reach our promised land.
        I genuinly hope that my explantion has removed any niggling doubts you had about my upbeat message.

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          Dear Kali,

          Thank you for the further comment. Let me respond quickly to the more important points.

          (a) “Post LTTE we are too weak”.
          The TNA purveys this shibboleth, shedding crocodile tears while smacking their lips to be in the saddle once again. When the TNA politicians say “Tamils” are weak, they are cloaking their personal incompetence within an alleged general weakness of Tamils as a whole. Secondly, they are terrified Tamils may independently organise democratic action and once again make the TNA redundant. So they are trying to brainwash Tamils into helplessness and to depend on Tamil politicians’ utterly bankrupt broker politics.

          The Tamil people (not their hapless politicians) built a formidable guerrilla movement; the peoples’ intrinsic strength has not flown away merely because the creation of their strength has been destroyed. Tamil people retain their inherent strength undiminished. That is a measure of my undying optimism.

          (b) The external factor
          There is no dispute that, as you put it, “we are historically, religiously and culturally linked” to the people of Tamil Nadu. But it does not translate into political support. How many times have Tamils (excluding Up-Country Tamils) organised to protest against violation of Tamil Nadu’s linguistic rights (imposition of Hindi) or New Delhi’s step motherly treatment of Tamil Nadu’s lower riparian rights to river waters? If we felt no loyalty to support Tamil Nadu, why should they do so for us?

          I am afraid they not our “”saviours”. We are our own saviours and we have the capacity to achieve that. If there is assistance from them, it’ll be essentially fortuitous.

          As for Rajiv Gandhi’s killing, you may find it fascinating to google news reports of Priyanka Gandhi’s visit in early 2000s to meet Nalini, convicted for the killing and incarcerated in Chennai. Priyanka had asked Nalini, “who killed my father?” To me, that indicates the Gandhi family does not believe the official story that LTTE carried out the assassination the same way Lalith Athulathmudali’s family disbelieved the government’s version of his murder.

          In any event, the belief that foreigners come all the way to our land to deliver justice to us is the perpetuation of West’s colonial myth of a so-called civilising mission, extended to current reality. In every sense it is a neo-colonial hangover! A variation of it is the claim that “Britain has a moral responsibility for our plight as the last colonial power.” The usual British response to that is: “they still want us to wipe their noses!”

          (c) Kosovo/South Sudan
          I must disagree about Kosovo. It was never a humanitarian operation. It was strategic, crafted to cut Serbia down to size for its continuing alliance with Russia and opposition to the expansion of NATO into the Balkans.

          The US similarly sliced off South Sudan to directly exploits its oil resources as well as to spite Sudan for siding with China.

          I do realise there are many see the recent visit of TNA seniors to Washington as hopeful signs that the US may perform a similar surgical operation to separate the north and east (including the Trincomalee harbour) from the pro-China south. I am unable to comment on that without further information.

          (d) As for your confidence in Wigneswaran, I have said my piece and would be glad to be proven wrong if that means a better future for Tamils. But I am constrained to add, Wigneswaran’s claim that he does not have to ask the Centre for powers already contained in the Constitution is a slippery move, which indicates he does not have the stomach to stand up to Colombo. It doesn’t auger well for Tamils.

  • 0

    Dear Dr. Sathananathan,

    I agree to most of your analysis. But do you think that an interim solution, based on an extra-constitutional mechanism can be probed by the Tamils?

    Below is an opinion piece that I had written on the issue. But I am willing to hear more views on the same!


    • 0

      Dear Karthick RM,

      I read with interest your opinion piece on TamilNet at the time it was published and re-read it today.

      An external power(s) may, as you anticipate, consider promoting an extra-constitutional interim structure that pre-supposes the sovereignty and national rights of Tamil. But why? What concrete interests of the power(s) would that serve?

      Your essay erroneously assumes that Tamils in the north and east are, at least for now, incapable of taking pro-active action. You may want to reflect on a recent incident, which is by no means an exception. At a small gathering (there are many of them) held in Jaffna last week, a group of women criticised the nomination of Wigneswaran and aggressively queried: “Would he stand with us if we take to the streets?” It was of course a rhetorical question, no prizes for guessing the answer.

      Second, you expect expatriate to play the leading role; that “the diaspora organizations engaging in negotiations and diplomacy can persuade the powers to agree to the immediate tactic of the interim solution”. Such an outcome would be welcomed by those who seek peace. But what counter-veiling power can the diaspora organisation bring to bear on the “powers”? Words and arguments have to be backed by the implicit or explicit use of credible force; as it is often said, diplomacy is calling out sweetly “doggie, doggie” till one picks up a rock!

      Numerous caveats you have attached to the “interim solution” only goes to show that it is unworkable. Consider the following five, if you will:
      “Only if the intervening powers ensure that
      (a) the genocidal Sinhala military’s stranglehold over the Tamil homeland is broken,
      (b) the 6th amendment declared null and void,
      (c) there is a pre-constitutional recognition of the Eezham Tamil nation’s sovereignty and territoriality and
      (d) an agreement to engage with the Tamils on an extra-constitutional solution, and
      (e) Tamils in the diaspora and refugees from Tamil Nadu get free and safe access to their traditional homes, can the interim solution work effectively.”
      I am afraid this is simply utopian!!!

      Coincidentally, there is concerted effort by western powers to induce/cajole/coerce diaspora organisations to funnel their initiatives and interventions through New Delhi. (see: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-08-09/community/41236707_1_sri-lankan-tamils-india-but-india-indian-government). Around June, the western powers’ Norwegian mouth piece Erik Solheim was in Australia urging the diaspora there to “lobby India”.

      Overseas Tamils connecting directly with those in Sri Lanka appears to be anathema to the powers. We ought to find out why.

      Tamils in Sri Lanka have no rosy illusions about New Delhi’s intentions and will not trust any political/cultural move that originates or comes through New Delhi.

      Obviously the same cannot be said of TNA and Wigneswaran.

      • 0

        Keep it up you are doing quite well. It somewhat puzzles me as to why you severed direct e-mail contact for that so-called gratuitous remark when you are so patiently responding to all these remarks and as none have done before to this extent. Further I really did not mean that you really go to hellI when there is no real hell other than what we make-up in our own minds. Suspect that you have matured more and have more time and less familial responsibilities.

        Should there be any to the contrary would like to know through this global FB village that the sci-fi writer Arthur Clark who spoke of quite enthusiastically in the 60’and 70’s has also been wrong about some of his predictions associated with too much leisure when the very same science and technology aids and abets GFCs as supported by the document on “earth wealth & Banking Intelligence” sheds light through some of the following URLS http://www.themoneymasters.com/ http://www.rothschild.info/start.asp http://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart.php

        As in that not so long ago “New Scientist” article I referred you to then the earth’s population blow-up seems to be a more fundamental cause for much of our human miseries with a third under-nourished and starving and another overfed and over exploiting the earth’s resources that we need many more earths in various different fields of resources to sustain some of strong, rich and wealthy inhabitants rapacious wants that go sometimes go as even desperate needs that advanced armaments production and sale for huge profits along with more productively coping with its obsolescence is not only their “bread and butter” but simultaneously their caviar and other richer main courses and desert for both their survival and thrival simultaneously.

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