1 October, 2020

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There Is No Right Of Self-Determination

By Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

In theory the post-General Elections situation looks very propitious for a political solution of the Tamil ethnic problem. There has been a note of moderation on the Tamil side, both on the part of the TNA and the GTF. On the Sinhalese side the new Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe has been famously a soft-liner on the ethnic problem, and his political record shows that he could be expected to show a reasonable pragmatic accommodativeness in approaching the problem. That is the situation in theory, but in practice our unconscionably protracted ethnic imbroglio could well continue into the indefinite future. There are two reasons for this. One is that there are ambiguities about the outcome of the recent General Elections. The other is that the Tamil insistence on a fundamental that has stood in the way of a solution up to now has not changed at all.

As I have argued in my last article the UNP-led coalition won with a comfortable majority. It was not an outright victory but one that enables the UNP to run a stable Government with the help of cross-overs mainly from the SLFP. Therefore the new Government will not have to depend on the TNA for its survival and consequently it will be under no pressure to be particularly accommodative to Tamil demands. We must also bear in mind that the SLFP won in 1994 with just one seat less than the present UNP and formed a stable Government but lost at the next round of General Elections. It may be that that defeat was due to complex factors and not just due to Chandrika Kumaratunga’s accommodativeness towards Tamil demands. But obviously, with its long-term survival in mind, the new Government has to be wary about being seen as too accommodative towards the Tamils.

JaffnaI come now to the ambiguities about the outcome of the recent General Elections. It can be seen as a comfortable victory for the UNP in the sense that I have defined above. But it can also be seen as a narrow victory for the UNP, with 95 seats for the UPFA against the UNP’s 106. It was not an outright victory and certainly not an overwhelming one, but one that showed the formidable strength of the opposition to the UNP. A substantial number of SLFP Parliamentarians may cross over to the Government, but that does not diminish the strength of the opposition to it among the people. That strength came basically from the Sinhalese Buddhist majority, and the appeal behind that strength was racist neo-Fascism. It is expected that Mahinda Rajapaksa will remain a formidable force in our politics, and it has to be expected that he will tap that racist neo-Fascist appeal to counter anything that might seem excessively accommodative to the Tamils. Racist neo-Fascism may not be the wave of the future but its present strength should not be under-estimated.

The other reason why the ethnic imbroglio might continue is that the Tamil side continues to insist on what it regards as a fundamental, which in fact is the fundamental reason why there has been no political solution up to now. This fundamental is the right of self-determination. The argument is that the Tamils are not just another minority like recent immigrants in the West but a national minority. They are a nation in Sri Lanka because they are indigenous to a particularly territory consisting of the North and part of the Eastern Province, a concept that implies much more than an area of traditional habitation. Consequently the argument is that the Tamils have the right of self-determination. That right includes the right to set up a separate state, and also the right to internal self-determination meaning the right to a wide measure of devolution. Therefore the TNA, which is today the representative of the Tamil moderates, is asking not for a separate state but for a federal system.

The core of the ethnic imbroglio is that on the whole the Sinhalese have been allergic o the idea of federalism because of an unshakeable conviction that it will lead by an ineluctable linear progression to a separate state. The right of self-determination does after all include the right to a separate state. I have argued in the past that fears about the danger posed by federalism are unrealistic. The problem is that fears may be unrealistic but they could be real all the same. On the Tamil side, the notion that they are a national minority is not a new-fangled one but something that goes back to the ‘twenties or even earlier. They can argue that the right of self-determination is inherent in their being a national minority, something that is inalienable and not something that they can jettison at will.

How do we find a way out of this imbroglio? I believe that the first essential is that we recognize that there is no such thing as a right of self-determination in the contemporary world. Therefore, all the historical controversies in which we have been indulging for decades, about the duration of the Jaffna kingdom and the extent of its territory, are entirely beside the point. Let us assume that historians have established beyond dispute that the Tamils are even more indigenous to Sri Lankan territory than the Sinhalese because they have been here even longer, and let us also assume that the Jaffna kingdom lasted a thousand years and covered the entirety of the North and the East – none of that strengthens one whit the case for self-determination. The reason is that a case can be strengthened only if in the first place the case exists. My argument is that the case for the right of self-determination does not exist.

When Woodrow Wilson first propounded the theory of self-determination during the First World War, the question quickly arose as to who were the “people” who were entitled to self-determination. There was a widespread view that Wilson was being wildly idealistic. After the Second World War the international consensus was that the “people” referred to the colonized peoples of the world. The principle of self-determination was seen as having validity only in a colonial context, and the reason for that limitation was not far to seek. If “people” is defined as an ethnic group and language is the criterion for determining ethnicity, there will be around 6,000 nation states in the world. If “people” is defined as an ethnic group with a valid claim to a homeland, in the sense that it is indigenous to a particular territory, there will still be hundreds of nation states. It is not necessary to labour the point that all that is simply not in the realm of practical politics. As for the right of internal self-determination, meaning devolution to the extent desired by an ethnic group, commonsense dictates that there can be no hard and fast rule about it, and that the extent of devolution has to depend on local contingencies.

The right of self-determination might be defined as a “notional right”, something that exists in the heads of people as a notion but has little or no correspondence with realities on the ground. It is a significant fact, surely, that no Government has been arraigned at Geneva or elsewhere for failing to allow self-determination as a right, not as something that has become desirable due to circumstances. Likewise no Government has been arraigned for failing to allow a wide measure of devolution. And it is for this non-existent right that the Tamil side has been jeopardizing the prospects for a political solution. When the Tamil side asks for federalism, it is understood that it is asking only for a second-best alternative to outright separation, to which it claims it has a right on the principle of self-determination. Therefore the Sinhalese side in agreeing to federalism would arguably be acknowledging a Tamil right to set up a separate state. I am not agreeing with these arguments. I am merely noting the way the Sinhalese psyche works, and can be expected to continue working, on demands for a wide measure of devolution. I suggest that it would be best for the Tamil side to forget about the non-existent principle of self-determination, and ask for a wide measure of devolution only on the grounds of equity and nothing else.

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  • 7
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    Hey Man The Tamil basher again…..

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      Yet another outburst from an anti-Tamil lunatic fringe Islamic racist giving lies, half truths and idiotic inferences. The root cause of the problem in Srilanka is Sinhala racism, which he is shamelessly trying to hide. When he says that Tamil stand on their demand for legitimate rights is the one that has stood in the way of a solution in the past, he becomes a blatant liar, and a person without any sense of honesty.

      Adressing a gathering in London four months ago I said, “Change of government will not bring any tangible result in the dignity and livelihood of Tamils without a change in attitude of sinhalese. But this change of government has given an opportunity to demonstrate to the world that it is the government that is intransigent in arriving at a fair solution to the ethnic problem in Srilanka according to international norms. If the government is going to deny the truth about what they had done to Tamils in the past, there is no hope of reconciliation, and if the government is going to pamper to the whims and fanccies of the Sinhalese, there is no hope for compromise.”

      Look at what happened at the time of independence. British assured Tamils that Sinhalese are gentlemen and the constitution with section 29 in it, will prevent any discrimination against Tamils. But soon after independence, first legislation to be made was to disenfranchise Tamils of Indian origin, contravening section 29. In 1956 Sinhala only act was passed also contravening section 29. Tamils had successfully challenged both in the privy council, but in the appeal, Srilankan courts turned down both on flimsy grounds. What the government did subsequently was to get rid of privy council as well as section 29, and not to address the injustice done to Tamils.

      When he says that Tamils have been always intransigent hanging on to extreme demands is not true. Tamil leaders had tried to strike a reasonable solution in the past as the B-C pact of 1957 and D-C pact of 1966 will prove. It is the Sinhalese who opposed even these meagre concessions which led them to be abrogated. The district councils of 1981, with very minimal devolution to a small area, was accepted by Tamils to try out, but was sabotaged by Sinhalese. What Parbaharan did from 1983 to 2009 has to be taken as intransigence of one man and not the entire Tamil race. In 1987, Tamil people advised Prabaharan to accept Indo-lanka accord and bulid on it, but he refused. If Tamils had been given a chance to decide, history would have been different.

      Now Prabaharan is gone and Tamils will decide correctly as shown in the last two elections. Government had been going round the world that they are prepared to grant the rights to Tamils, but Prabaharan is not willing for anything other than Eelam. Now Prabaharan is gone and Srilanka government is being exposed, unable to apportion the blame on Tamils for not being able to arrive at a soution. Federalism may be anathema to Sinhalese, but it is not an unfair demand, and why should Tamils continue to suffer for the atavistic fears of Sinhala racists.

      Right to self determnination is guaranteed in the UN charter to which Srilanka is a signatory. Tamils as an oppressed and defenceless community subjected to racial discrimination, state sponsored violence and ethnic cleansing has a right to excercise self determination even to secede. Just because there is no country in the world which is supporting this does not mean that Tamils are wrong or they do not have that right. What is the difference between Turks in Cyprus and Albanians in Kosovo, both having excercised their right with the help of Turkey and NATO respectively, and Tamils in Srilanka. Is it because of his racist views that they are Muslims and Tamils are not.

      The rightful owners of eastern province are the Tamilised descendents of the ancient Veddhas who are living along the coast and not the Sinhalese, Muslims or even Tamils like Mukkuwas. These people have outrightly voted for TNA endorsing their stand for a merger of eastern and northern provinces. In modern times you cannot claim lands by virtue of ethnic cleansing or alteration of demographic pattern by planned settlement. In Bosnia,the international mediators did not grant any lands to Serbs which was ethnically cleansed by them, but reinstated them to the Muslims. Is it because of his racist views that he is advocating different solution to Tamils with same problem.

      Unfortunately Tamils are being used as pawns in this geo-political game, though the internatinal community in their conscience feel that Tamil cause is right. The future of Srilanka remaining as one country solely depends on India. At present India is against any division and therefore federalism is not going to divide Srilanka. However if Sinhalese refuse to allow Tamils to live in dignity as equal citizens, with continuing unrest and India decides to do otherwise, the unitary constitution is not going to prevent division. You need not call it federalism by word, but by deed it has to be so, as what is happening to Scottish devolution in UK. There is no point in talking about peace and reconciliation if there is no justice granted to Tamils.

      • 4
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        The established Tamil-hater Izeth Hussain is in his mischievous “best” again – after a brief spell of hibernation. As the poor senior’s faculties weaken with the passage of time, he seems to yield to inconsistencies in his thinking capacity. Note he is unable to describe the UNP’s performance on August 17 consistently. He inititally insists it is “a comfortable victory” and then switches to state it is not an “outright victory” Then later on goes on to say, correctly this time, it is a “narrow victory” For the love of me, how can 95/106 be a comfortable victory in a Parliament where one should have a minimum of about 126 to be barely safe.

        Meanwhile, whereas the wise man tells us “it is expected that Mahinda Rajapaksa will remain a formidable force in our politics” Rajapakse himself tells the country, at the instance of his sisters, he is quitting in three months time. How did this important piece of news escape our good friend. Of course, the country is far too well aware of Mahinda Rajapakses “promises and assurances” reminding one of Lenin’s famous dictum “promises are like biscuits – they are made to be broken”

        Hussain does not hesitate to make subtle efforts to inflame the wider Sinhala readership in reminding them “Tamils have the right of self-determination. That right includes the right to set up a SEPARATE STATE” Now this incendiary dis-information alone is sufficient to inflame an insufficiently informed Sinhala audience in the subject in today’s context when the two major communities are sharply divided. But what is the truth – and the position of the TNA here? Hussain knows fully well the Tamil Nation and its political leadership have told Parliament and the country they are now for “internal rule (in their areas) within an undivided country” This major shift has been widely welcome by the Sinhala side. Even the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobita Thero – reputed to be the main force that brought in the political changes this year – has publicly acknowledged this development in terms of appreciation. But Hussain would rather set up one people against the other, while all the time pretending to promote peace and goodwill – a feature running in the blood-stream.

        And then we come to Hussain’s main thrust in this current piece. I further believe, the entire article is constructed mischievously and perfidiously to feed the fears and vulnerabilities of the majority Sinhala electorate. He spends much time on the semantics of self-determination and, once again, boastfully proclaims his omniscience “that there is no such thing as a right of self-determination in the contemporary world” Ban Ki Moon and his UN expert staff will be in stitches reading this. Surely, in an evolving world, the possibility of the coming in of further new States is always a possibility.

        For the purpose of debate let me take Hussain’s next gem “The principle of self-determination was seen as having validity only in a colonial context,..” Is he not aware when the Tamil militants were in control they called their land “occupied land by a Colonial power” – an argument, many believe, still holds validity interpreted in a different context.

        In support of my position, shared by many others in these pages, Hussain is anti-Tamil here is further proof “The Tamil side has been jeopardizing the prospects for a political solution” It is only a jaundiced anti-Tamil who would make such an outrageous statement such as this. Beginning from the B-C Pact, to be followed by the Dudley-Selva Pact – and, to the 13th Amendment the Tamil side has always come forward for a settlement. This, I understand, is a fact underlined by the American official Nisha Biswal and her team in their current discussions with GoSL. It is Sinhala extremism – and not all Sinhala political leaders – who have sabotaged this so far. Sadly for them, the days of trouble-makers like Izeth Hussain appears to be coming to an end.

        Kettikaran

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          Kettie – they continue to publish me. How come? – IH

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            Izeth H,

            That is because the media, hungry for circulation and sales, believes in that old saying “When dog bites man it is not news.
            But when man bites dog, it is” Scruples, ethics, morals and those finer features in the human condition take a back seat when the media goes hell for leather to increate their sales.

            BTW, further to my comment “Surely, in an evolving world, the possibility of the coming in of further new States is always a possibility” Please add “For example, the coming of new States
            East Timor and South Sudan in recent decades” There will be many more in the future. As to your argument “there will be as many as 6,000 States” As usual, you are being disingenuous. You just don’t go or write to the UNO and say “we want to be a new State/country” You know all too well, there is established criteria and a long and time-consuming procedure to successfully canvass the claim for Statehood.

            Cheers. Here’s to a nice week-end.

            Kettikaran

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              Kettie – you haven’t understood the argument in my article at all.I have just finished re-reading Kipling’s Kim and intend to write on him again. Earlier I wrote on Buddhism in Kim. The Kipling Society invited me to write an article on that subject for their journal. I have their letter with me still.How does that make you feel, Kettie? I am sure that you will be interested to hear that I think that a few of Elizabeth Jennings’ poems will survive.Also that I find the slow movement of Schumann’s A minor concerto absolutely enchanting. Incidentally, re your brilliantly original view that newspapers publish articles on the principle that dog bites man – does that apply to the CT also? – IH
              To the reader – this poor Kettie is far gone. The reason for my cultural showmanship is this – What the Tamil racists hate about me is that I don’t fit their stereotype of the Muslim. – IH

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        Our Dr Gna has not understood the case I have made out at all.- IH

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        Dr Gna – please see the erudite and intellectually sophisticated comment of Naga, and also my reply to him. Can you understand any of it? Bet you can’t. That goes for Kettie too – IH

        • 3
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          Izeth,
          It is no surprise that you are calling Naga, a fellow traveller in anti-Tamil racism with praise. What he has written is half truth which I have exposed in my reply to him appearing below. By suppressing facts he becomes intellectually dishonest, typical of all Sinhala racists. It is well clear that your writings are to please Sinhala racists and be their darling. The international community for resons better known to them are not going to allow Tamils to exercise the right of self determination externally to secede, but they will not object for Tamils to excercise the right of self determination internally on a federal basis, which was accepted by the international community in the agreement of 2002 reached between Anton Balasingham representing LTTE and Ranil Wickremasinghe representing Srilanka governemnt, which was refused to be accepted by Prabaharan and rest is history. I have always stood for what is right stating the facts correctly.

  • 0
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    The crafty jackal Ranil would have preferred a majority government solely of the UNP. Yet he knew that his party will not get a majority and have to depend on the TNA to form a government which will be very hard to accommodate . Hence even before the elections he declared the he would form a National Government taking in the supporters of Sirisena, the President. On the other hand the TNA wanted at least 20 seats so that they would bargain with the UNP to align with them to form a Government. The TNA’s thinking did not materalise. According to democratic principles, the TNA must get the position of the Leadership of the opposition, which too they are not going to get. Their demand for an International investigation into the war crimes is not at all feasible as America has agreed for an internal investigation. The party that committed the crimes are going to investigate. The TNA’s demand for a federal form of power distribution to the Tamils has already been rejected by Ranil. Army occupation of private lands in the North and East is going to continue. So what are they going to achieve. NOTHING.

  • 1
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    “non-existent principle of self-determination”

    http://tamilnation.co/selfdetermination/01leichenstein.htm
    “I am convinced that if the international community accepts the principle of democracy and the right of self-determination, we will be able to eliminate wars and to a large extent the oppression of minorities. We will not be able to create paradise here on earth but at least improve the political and economical situation of most people here on our planet.”

    This might be interest to the readers and the author
    http://tamilnation.co/selfdetermination/

  • 1
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    “Chapter I: Purposes and Principles

    Article 1

    2. To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace;”
    http://tamilnation.co/humanrights/instruments/uncharter.html

  • 0
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    1.”The core of the ethnic imbroglio is that on the whole the Sinhalese have been allergic o the idea of federalism because of an unshakeable conviction that it will lead by an ineluctable linear progression to a separate state. The right of self-determination does after all include the right to a separate state.”

    Very true.

    “I have argued in the past that fears about the danger posed by federalism are unrealistic.”

    This contradicts “The right of self-determination does after all include the right to a separate state.”

    If I were to choose between a federal unit for North and East and a separate state I would vote for the latter. For it is only 2 weeks away from the former. Why bother. THE GREATEST LESSON THE SINHALESE SHOULD REMEMBER FOR ETERNITY IS EVEN AFTER RW-VP PACT TAMILS DID NOT PAUSE FOR A MOMENT BUT WENT AHEAD FOR THEIR FINAL GOAL AT WHATEVER THE COST IN BLOOD.

    Dear mr Hussian, you have failed to mention the significance and ramifications of 50+% of Tamil speaking people living outside North and East which is of fundamentally importance in the discourse on Tamil ethnic question and the consequences on any “solution” achieved through arm twisting of “some” of the leaders of the fiercely divided Sinhala polity. Perhaps you may devote a future installment on this crucial aspect of this issue, I hope.

    Soma

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      somass-kantha

      “If I were to choose between a federal unit for North and East and a separate state I would vote for the latter.”

      Federalism is for the entire island and not just for North East. The whole island is entitled to more devolved powers under Federalism which hopefully removes the monopoly over state power which enjoyed by only a few politicians and few faceless dimwits behind the desk and democratizes the power balance between people and the corrupt power crazed rulers.

      Rebalancing state power is urgently needed as part of restructuring and democratising the state.

      “For it is only 2 weeks away from the former.”

      Its up to the Hindians to stop or approve it. You have no role in the creation or prevention of a separate state emerging from this little island. Leave the worrying to the Hindians, as Gota and MR acknowledged on the record that without the Hinidian support they would not have won the war.

      Even Pakistan could not prevent Independent state rising out of the east though it had a few powerful all weather friends, USA, UK, China, France, Turkey and some middle east medieval states.

      You should read and educate yourself with Indian Ocean Real politics:

      1971 War: How Russia sank Nixon’s gunboat diplomacy

      20 December 2011 RAKESH KRISHNAN SIMHA, SPECIALLY FOR RIR

      http://in.rbth.com/articles/
      2011/12/20/1971_war_how_russia
      _sank_nixons_gunboat_diplomacy_14041.html

      Note it was not the Sinhala/Buddhist armed forces which kicked the IPKF out of the island back to New Delhi but the Boys in Bata foolishly took on the Hindians made sure they didn’t prolong their stay in this island.

      The boys in Bata for the first time saved the supposed sovereignty of this island in the last 515 years and Premadasa’s honour as the head of a free sovereign country.

      Remember on 8th January this year the minorities put their neck out to protect this island from despot and his cronies.

      Please

      It was

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      Dear Soma,
      Your statement that more than 50% of Tamils live outside north and east is only half truth. The absolute truth is that out of the Tamils who live ouside north and east 90% are Indian Tamils.
      90% of ceylon Tamils live in north and east. The fact all MPs from Ceylon Tamil community who have been elected are from north and east goes to prove my point. So please stop repeating this.
      In two recent genetic studies, it has been reported that core genetic material found in Indian Tamils and Ceylon Tamils are different and therefore they should not be brought into the picture.

  • 2
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    Why are the old like Izeth refusing to let the young decide the future of the country? Your time is gone, now let us deal with our future.

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    Mr. Hussain, a real good article in that it is pragmatic, when you consider the options as well as what is just and fair. However, because of the hard core Sinhala-Buddhist extremists, we need to make haste ‘slowly’.

    My simple analysis of the recent General Elections is that the ‘hard-core’ voted for MR and Co., despite the many charges of corruption and murder brought against them is because they trust MR more than RW NOT to give in to the extreme Tamil sentiment.

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      “My simple analysis of the recent General Elections is that the ‘hard-core’ voted for MR and Co., despite the many charges of corruption and murder brought against them is because they trust MR more than RW NOT to give in to the extreme Tamil sentiment.”

      I voted for MR precisely for that reason.

      The day we “give in to the extreme Tamil sentiment.” we are kapothi.

      Soma

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    Do you want Tamils to accept Ranil!s grama rajiya!! Or take some ministerial post and develop themselves !!

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    “I suggest that it would be best for the Tamil side to forget about the non-existent principle of self-determination, and ask for a wide measure of devolution only on the grounds of equity and nothing else.”

    Good idea, but will it work or be seen as backing down?

    That is why I believe the extremists have to sit down and agree on a roadmap – 10 – 25 -50 100 years. Guarantee it does not end in separation.

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      Vanguard

      “Guarantee it does not end in separation.”

      Rest assured, Hindians are not for separation therefore I advice you not to entertain any notion of building a Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto. Hindians do not like ghettos in this island as VP learnt it through his back.

      Internal Self Determination or Federalism do not mean separatism. Therefore you need lot of learning. If people felt that they were part of an ethnie or a nation why should it worry other ethnies or nations? Does it mean separate country or leading to separation?

      If you believe the feeling of belonging to a ethnie or nation eventually might lead to separation then its because you suffer from paranoia or fear of losing the Sinhala/Buddhist ghetto or from both.

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    Izeth Hussain

    will do well to incorporate some new ideas that is relevant to his discussion. As usual he is stuck in the past and not being receptive to new ways of thinking in the context of globalised world where all forms of existing and established barriers are being broken down by the second.

    Even the ideas of sovereignty is being challenged by the those see the world as flat earth, due to discovery and use of new science, technology, management, ……… in manufacturing, communication, social media, … the barriers between countries and “peoples” are being torn down.

    One example, several Europeans died in 2004 when tsunami struck, not in Europe but in Thailand. Cost effective and efficient mass transport enabled them to travel to South East Asia.

    The question is can a country protect its people from disasters man made or natural with its supposed sovereignty. A country can no longer insulate itself from outside forces, including nature, economic, political, social, ……… technological.

    In that rapidly changing world one has to ask whether states could still protect their “imaginary” and dated concept of sovereignty and self determination, and how long?

    There is an alternative way of preserving the “peoples” right of self determination, in case one is ignorant of new ideas, internal self determination.

    I wonder as to why the author deliberately avoided a discussion on the right of internal self determination and aghast by mere mention of Federalism, plurality of sovereignty. He needs to explain what consumer sovereignty means to the people in order to kick start a healthy and fearless discussion.

    We no longer live in a kingdom, though we are conditioned to believe in the colonial notion of subject.

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      Have I not been saying the same thing, these old people have to let new ones with new ideas take over.

      Particularly Izeth loves the limelight and never fails to do some del praise.

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      Native V,

      I just saw Fareed Zakaria’s GPS via CNN. Featured in it was Singapore’s Deputy PM Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who claimed the phenomenal success of Singapore from 3rd world to 1st – within a few decades – was because LKY/Singapore believed in PEOPLE and created an
      INCLUSIVE society out of Singapore’s ethnic diversity. Everyone (Chinese, Malay, Tamil, European and others) were made to feel part of the whole – word and deed. That, more than anything else, Tharman S said was the secret of their success.

      We failed because we inflicted exclusiveness. Why? Because it wins votes. And, you know the result.

      Kettikaran

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    N.V.

    “I wonder as to why the author deliberately avoided a discussion on the right of internal self determination … “

    Your enlightened, egalitarian, modernistic outlook seem to have craftily accommodated the concept of political self determination based on narrow ethnic, religious and caste differences, demarcating narrower and narrower boundaries within small territories in a ever contracting world of your marvelous technological advancements and universal education.

    Thambi, you can’t see the picture when you are inside the frame.

    Soma

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      somass-kantha

      “Thambi, you can’t see the picture when you are inside the frame.”

      Please re-read my comment:

      He needs to explain what consumer sovereignty means to the people in order to kick start a healthy and fearless discussion.

      We no longer live in a kingdom, though we are conditioned to believe in the colonial notion of subject.

      I suggest you read my comments thoroughly before you start typing.

  • 0
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    Izeth

    I agree with your views that “… that there is no such thing as a right of self-determination in the contemporary world” and that “the right of self-determination might be defined as a “notional right”, something that exists in the heads of people as a notion but has little or no correspondence with realities on the ground.”
    You are not far from the truth when you say that “the principle of self-determination was seen as having validity only in a colonial context.”

    Antonio Cassese, a leading authority in International Law in his seminal work “Self Determination of Peoples: A Legal Reappraisal” says “there is this strange absence of a comprehensive account of the concept of self-determination” and tha “there is confusing state practice, deceptively complex or contradictory resolutions from international organizations and scant and reticent views of court.”

    In Cassese’s view the concept of self-determination is both radical, progressive, alluring and at the same time subversive and threatening. He goes on to say that “this Janus like quality brought about a deep ambivalence towards self-determination, which, in turn, may explain the difficulties the international community experiences in trying to articulate the idea in a palatable way, transforming it – in an acceptable manner – into a set of legally binding standards and dealing with its limits and dangers in a consistent fashion.”

    You are also right when you say that “the principle of self-determination was seen as having validity only in a colonial context, and the reason for that limitation was not far to seek.”

    Legal scholars trace the origin of the concept of self-determination to the American Declaration of Independence in 1776 and to the French Revolution in 1789. Though Woodrow Wilson first propounded the theory of self-determination during the First World War, it was Lenin, the founder of Soviet Union, who expressed the idea that the right of self-determination should be the criterion for the liberation of people. Stalin further expounded this principle and formulated a definition that a nation constitutes the combination of national character, language and territory. Stalin said the right to self-determination means that a nation can arrange its life according to its own will, has the right to arrange its life on the basis of autonomy and has the right to complete secession. Cassese notes that this Soviet concept of self-determination was to further the ideological and political objectives than to safeguard peoples. He says it was championed only in so far as it furthered the class struggle and that the philosophical ideal was employed as a strategic tool. He contends that the Soviet leaders were more interested in the self-determination of the working class in each state than in the self-determination of the population of their entirety.

    However, it was due to the efforts of the Soviet Union, the principle of self-determination was included in the UN Charter and thereafter developed into a general principle of international law. The UN Charter stopped short of defining the concept but the principle enabled many former colonies to become independent states. The concept of self-determination was later included in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Civil Rights but its implementation has remained controversial. Even in these international covenants, some countries, for example India, have imposed restricted interpretation of the principle. India made a reservation that the right of self-determination apply only to the peoples under foreign domination and not to apply to sovereign independent States.

    Apart from the liberation of many former colonies after the Second World War under the principle of self-determination, there have been only a couple of instances of creation of new states through secession on the basis of self-determination. In almost all cases, the creation of self- governing autonomous territories or new states had been made possible only through military interventions. The two cases in point are the creation of an autonomous Turkish Cypriot territory in Cyprus and the creation of Bangladesh. The former was caused by Turkish military intervention and the latter was accomplished mainly through Indian military intervention.

    I agree with your further suggestion that “it would be best for the Tamil side to forget about the non-existent principle of self-determination, and ask for a wide measure of devolution only on the grounds of equity and nothing else.”

    I hope TNA which was returned by the North East Tamils to Parliament with an overwhelming support be more realistic in finding a reasonable solution rather than insisting that the Tamils have an inherent right to self-determination.

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      Yoga – thanks for your very informative comment. Our Tamils must accept the fact that the international community does not recognize self-determination as a right in the contemporary world.That was something that pertained to the colonial context.Today a state can break up only for one of two reasons – either the dominant ethnic group agrees to it or cannot prevent it.Of the two cases you cite – Bangladesh and the Turkish Republic of Cyprus – the latter is very interesting. After 41 years it is recognized only by Turkey. It points to the fact that the international community not only refuses to accept self-determination as a right but is actually allergic to it.
      I have in mind a further article in which I want to argue that there is not only no right of self-determination in the contemporary world but that there will be no such right in the future either. Minority interests can be best safeguarded not through the non-existent principle of self-determination but through the erosion of state sovereignty. The very rationale of the nation state has to be questioned. – IH

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        Izeth H,

        It was with some trepidation I had to refer to your failing faculties due to advancing age. Here Naga writes and while
        responding to him you refer to him as Yoga. The classic koide yanne – malle pol answer. It is trivia but
        my point is, in many instances, you make mistakes but are, nonetheless, adamant and obstinate you are nothing but right.
        That is where you come into conflict with many serious readers – Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and others. Mend your ways, old pal,
        you have much to offer.

        Kettikaran

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          Even Homer nods. So goes the proverb.Add – So does Hussain. These are slips that frequently occur and certainly don’t by themselves betoken any weakening of the mental faculties. But the racist Kettie prefers to believe that it does. Freud wrote a whole book about it.The manuscripts of Evelyn Waugh, writing at the height of his powers, were full of spelling mistakes. I recall that Robert Graves, an exceptionally scholarly poet, referred in a letter to the New Statesman several decades ago to the Incas of Mexico. It should have been Peru of course. He was in very advanced age at the time but he was writing his best poems. His slip was pointed out by readers of course, but none responded with the sneering jeering nastiness of our Kettie. The likes of Kettie, Dr Gna and other Tamil racists are given no place in the British media. – IH

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        Izeth Hussain

        “It points to the fact that the international community not only refuses to accept self-determination as a right but is actually allergic to it.”

        It is more to do with other things than self-determination, will you look at it from other perspectives,

        Turkey (mostly with Muslim population) and Greece (mostly non Muslims) are members of NATO.

        Republic of Cyprus and Greece are members of EU, Turkey or Northern Cyprus are not.

        Greece and Cyprus are part of The European Economic Area while Turkey and Northern Cyprus are not.

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      Dear Naga,
      Your comments have been described by your co-traveller in anti-Tamil racism, Izeth Hussain as erudite and intellectually sophisticated. In my opinion you are an outright racist who is coming out with half truths to make your point. Just because there is no support to right of self determination for Tamils partly because of double standards and partly because of geo-political interests, does not neceesarily mean that right is non-existent to Tamils. You seem to be a coward in not exposing your name and therefore cannot be termed an intellectual.

      You are correct that the concept of right to self etermination was mooted after end of second world war with colonial people in mind. Despite this facility, some african countries could not exercise it peacefully and had to fight for their independence. This status remained for next 45 years and the liberation of Bangladesh and Northern Cyprus though not recognised were two exceptions. But this position has changed now and about 30 countries have been born.

      Since 1990 this has changed and you are wilfully suppressing this fact in order to support your argument denying Tamils their right. All new countries that have been born after 1990, have been on the basis of this right of self determination, few peacefull and most violently supported by foreign countries. With collapse of Soviet Union in 1990, Gorbachev allowed the constituent states to execise their right to self determination and secedde, and since then others have followed.

      Bosnia, East Timor, South Sudan and even Kosovo have used this right to secede. Fortunately they had international backers in the form of USA and NATO. In all thesde cases the secession took place due to oppression and ethnic cleansing carried out by the majority race in their countries. What is the difference between these people in those countries and Tamils in Srilanka who experienced the same atrocity.

      TNA has obtained a mandate from Tamils to negotiate for a federal solution in the merged north and east, which is a realistic demand and will be acceptable to fair minded international communities. Please give up your racist mindset and grant justice to Tamils to live as equal citizens in the areas where they have lived for several years, enjoying the same rights and privilege as Sinhalese.

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    Gnana

    Though you have put a Dr before your name you must be an idiot to call myself and Izeth racists simply on the basis of our opinion on the principle of self-determination.

    You are no different from the other Tamils who write stupid comments in response to anything that is critical of the demand for self-determination, separate state, self- rule etc. etc.

    I do not know whether you are a medical doctor or one with a PhD. Certainly your stupid comments clearly indicate that, whatever education you had, had not equipped you with a fair analytical mind or the ability to meet arguments with arguments.

    There is a wrong notion that Jaffna people are educated. In most cases, their education is limited to their particular discipline or profession be it medicine, engineering or any other discipline or profession. They might have excelled in their particular field and would have even gone on to get a PhD. On matters outside their professional discipline, they are mostly illiterate and uneducated. If Jaffna people are really educated and wise, they will not find themselves in their present plight.

    The fact that you give your full name when you write comments for Colombo Telegraph articles does not mean that you are a brave guy. Many analysts and commentators use pseudonyms. That well known Tamil journalist Sivaram used the pseudonym “Taraki” and many journalists and authors do the same. What is important is not the person who writes comments but what he or she writes.

    In my case, I am not using a pseudonym but using an abbreviated version of my real name. That does not mean I am a coward.

    You are wrong to say that Bosnia, East Timor, South Sudan and even Kosovo have used their right to self-determination to secede.

    What happened in the Soviet Union and in the former Yugoslav Republic was simply that those former constituent republics were either allowed to become independent states or the Americans intervened to get their independence. Bosnia and Kosovo were part of the former Yugoslav Republic and though its successor Serbia tried to hold on to these two former Yugoslav regions, American intervention helped them to become independent states. Bosnia and Kosovo were really cases of dissolution and not self-determination.

    South Sudan became an independent state after many years of existence as an autonomous region following a civil war. It became an independent state on the basis of a peace agreement and after a referendum. It was a case of de jure recognition following many years of de facto autonomous existence. South Sudan attaining independence is a unique case.

    In the case of East Timor, it became independent from Portugal in 1975. Then, it was invaded by Indonesia and the Jakarta government illegally occupied it for over two decades. An armed struggle and loss of lives led to UN intervention and the illegal occupiers of East Timor had to go when the people of East Timor overwhelmingly voted for independence at a referendum.

    Bosnia and Kosovo existed as autonomous regions and always had the right to secede. In the case of East Timor, it was illegally occupied by Indonesia and after an armed rebellion it became independent state with the support of countries like Australia. South Sudan after civil war remained an autonomous region and a peace conference enabled its evolution as an independent de jure state.

    The community of nations has yet to accept the right to secession under the principle of self-determination to any people who claim to qualify for that right. A group of people has no right to secede just because it possesses land and other criteria and wants political independence. They must establish extreme harm being inflicted by the state of which they are part of. Secession is not an automatic right but can only be a last resort. In that situation too that group of people has to be supported by powerful nation or nations as it happened in the case of Bosnians and Kosovars. United States was able to intervene in the cases of Bosnia and Kosovo because those people were faced with torture, war, genocide and other crimes.

    It must be mentioned here that Canadian Supreme Court dismissed outright the right of Quebec province to secede from the Canadian Federation and said it would be illegal for Quebec to secede.

    What applied in the cases of East Timor, South Sudan, Bosnia and Kosovo cannot be applied in the case of Sri Lankan Tamils. Sri Lankan Tamils are not faced with an extreme situation as in the cases of Bosnians and Kosavars to call for secession under the principle of self-determination.

    As of today no country, not even India or the United States has recognised the right of self-determination for the Sri Lankan Tamils. And it will never be recognised unless the Sri Lankan government engages in wholesale murder and genocide of the Tamils.

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      Naga,
      Tamils are people with self respect and will never accept Sinhala rule on them. Any solution that is not accetable to Tamils will have to be forced on them at gun point. If the Sinhalese want to settle the problem honestly, they must come down from their supremacist mindset and agree to Tamil self rule where no Sinhala interference takes place.
      Please stop talking about peace and reconciliation if Sinhalese are not prepared to grant justice to Tamils and accept the truth. Please refer to the resolution passed by Northern provincial council about an international investigation of war crimes. If Srilanka with the help of America and other countries are going to force this on Tamils, then forget about the culprits being brought to justice. I have exercised patience all these years and I have decided to take Sinhala racists head on. I wish to let you know that some Sinhala racists who tried to be funny with me in UK two years ago got it back from me well and truly and they are now like dogs with their tails between their legs.

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        Naga,
        Further to my previous one, there is ample evidence to prove that you are dishonest, probably to propagate Sinhala racist ideology. You have stated that Bosnia, Kosovo etc were autonomous states and therefore had the right to secede, but Tamils do not. This is a blatant misinformation. Prior to the Potugese conquest, Tamils were a sovereign nation and after that during Portugese, Dutch and early part of British rule Tamils were ruled as an autonomous entity separate from rest of the Island. It is only in 1933 British amalgamated Tamil region with rest of the Island for their administrative convenience without the consent of Tamils. In 1948 when British left, they did not return the soverignty to Tamils. Also they failed to provide an autonomous arrangement to Tamils which was in place when they took over from Dutch. Sinhalese who were vociferous in correcting injustices done by British to them, refused to correct this injustice done by British to Tamils, and when they protested let loose violence.
        You have stated that Tamils did not face extreme situation faced in South Sudan, East Timor, Bosnia or Kosovo. This is again a blatant lie. Only in South Sudan one million people were killed, but in other three instances it was less than 10,000, because international community intervened and provided security. In Srilanka Tamils were allowed to be at the mercy of the murderous racist government. You have conveniently omitted the worst ethnic cleansing that took place in Srilanka, when one million Indian Tamils were disenfranchised and deported to please the racist request of Sinhalese. Also another one million Tamils have been driven out in the pretext of fighting the war with LTTE and some are still languishing in refugee camps in Tamil Nadu. Is the reduction of Tamil population by these methods not a crime. Also in these countries, what their governments did to alter the demographic pattern has been corrected and the lands given back and the boundaries maintained as before. In Srilnaka eastern province has been subjected to demographic change by successive governments by planned settlement of Sinhalese annexation of areas from Uva to East and forced eviction of Tamils by murder and ethnic cleansing. Census conducted since 1881 show that Sinhalese who were 2% in Trincomalee district and 10% in the entire eastern province has risen to 30% in Trincomalee district and 25% in the entire eastern province. Will you agree to correct this injustice and reinstate the Tamil majority in eastern province. When Kandyan objected to their majotiy status in upcountry was lost due to the pressence of Indian Tamils, the government agreed with them and disenfranchised and deported half of them. If some thing was fair to Kandyans then, the same thing has to be fair to Tamils now. So please give the facts correctly because half truth is worse than a lie. Are these not enough to prove that you are intellectually dishonest. Please stop your attacks on me for pointing out the truth and behave decently.

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      Naga -thanks for your lucid and entirely convincing comment to show that the international community does not recognize the so-called right of self-determination. You will note that Dr Gna’s reply of Sept 2 does not meet your arguments at all. That’s typical of the hard-core racists. They are impervious to reason.
      He is a medical practitioner in London, one of those pushful mediocrities who love to hold high office in the expatriate community. He strikes me as thoroughly eccentric – indeed more than a little mad. His idiocies are useful for my study of racism – IH

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      “You are no different from the other Tamils who write stupid comments in response to anything that is critical of the demand for self-determination…” You are better advised to be more cultured and
      tolerant of others views. You have a congenital grouse against Jaffna Tamils is far too clear but let that not be the reason to reject all other thoughts of other Tamils than you. You are, after all, the man who went behind that nondescript Dr. Natchiappan in your “hope” of solving the Tamil National Question. He is not even heard of now. That is your level of political understanding. He was a RAW plant to create confusion within SL Tamil ranks and you were suckered in. You have no known authority to speak on behalf of the Batticaloa Tamils.

      You and that mercurial and disturbed Izeth H, your fan, make a perfect Odd Couple – at the rate you compliment each other.

      Kettikaran

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    I don’t think it is meet and proper for Naga, who is capable of a high level of intellectual sophistication, to reply to the drivel of this ridiculous racist Dr Gna. He began his reply to my present article with the abusive terms “idiotic” and “blatant liar”. That’s typical of him. The reason is that as soon as he stars reading me he goes into the grip of hysterical racist hatred and mad dog rage.
    That prevents him understanding my simplest arguments.It is a plain and straightforward and incontrovertible fact that at present the international community does not recognize the so-called principle of the right of self-determination. But – as i have made plain at the conclusion of my article – self-determination could be justified on grounds of equity.Dr Gna is unable to understand that simple argument.
    Why do I bother with the likes of Kettie and Dr Gna? There are several reasons. 1)Their material furthers my understanding of racism. 2) Their material suggests that hard-core Tamil racists are among the nastiest and stinkiest in the world, much worse than the Sinhalese hard=core racists. 3) Their material suggests a peculiar genocidal hatred towards Muslims. 4) They are asking to be whacked. i enjoy whacking them.- IH

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      Izeth,
      You are an out right racist which is proved in your writings. I have never used any words to deny Sinhalese or Muslims their rights. You are coming out with all sorts of lies and half truths and when I counter your wrintings you are saying that I am a racist. Fighting for rights is not racism, but denying the right is racism and you are guilty of it. Your statement that Tamils are the worst racists than Sinhalese or Muslims is unsubstantiated. Proportionately there are more racists among Muslims than among Tamils or Sinhalese, and numerically there are more racists among Muslims than Tamils. The root cause of ethnic problem in Srilanka is Sinhala racism and not Tamil racism and as the majority of Sinhalese are racists, a fair settlement had been elusive all these years. Please note that even LTTE in their vision for future Ealam declared it to be secular. Has any Sinhala leader said that Srilanka should be a secular state up to date or has any Muslim country in the world declared it to be secular. If you want to bumsuck Sinhalese racist go ahead and do it, but do not accuse others unfairly. Muslim racists in Srilanka are dormant because of the fear of backlash, If not they will behave like the Muslim racists in other countries about which we are hearing daily. There is a god above and the cause of Tamils is forthright, and therefore Tamils will get divine assistance and the final victory is for Tamils.

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        Izeth,
        Further to my earlier posting, how can you call me a racist when I have recommended right to self determination for Muslims within the merged north-eastern province by linking Puttalam electorate which has a 75% Muslim-Tamil pressence and also been the cradle of Drvidian civilisation where urn burial sites and potteries have been found and providing them a muslim majority area in a similar arrangement like Pondichery with full devolution. This is in contrast to Sinhalese refusing to provide a Muslim majority coastal Amparai administrative district with meagre delegated powers. My recommendation about delinking of Amparai electorate and AGA divisions of Lahugala and Gomarankadawela from eastern province where 90% of Sinhalese will not come under Tamil majority rule is also a fair one. In contrast you are denying this right of both power and territory to Tamils who have a better claim. Are you a racist or am I a racist. Please stop your rants and see reason if you have any honour left.

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    Your logic is that the Sinhala are a majority and therefore the Tamils will simply have to accept what the Sinhala majority determine? I.e. there is no third force – the International community won’t intervene and so Tamils just need to take whatever is on the table?

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      alex

      “there is no third force – the International community won’t intervene and so Tamils just need to take whatever is on the table?”

      The only force which should determine the fate of this island is Morality (not what religious bigots preach).

      Those who demand equality should themselves act accordingly, must demonstrate their moral superiority (its not about puritanism).

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        Yes the moral argument is clear. However, Izeth basically ignores the moral argument in favour of a solution decreed by the majority, even if it is immoral.

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    Alec – in the past you have shown yourself incapable of understanding my plain prose, probably because of racist prejudice. Again you show the same incapacity in declaring that I am impervious to the moral argument. What about the last sentence of my article in which I advocate that the Tamils ask for a wide measure of devolution on grounds of equity. What does “equity” mean? – IH

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