1 October, 2020

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They Don’t Know The Difference: A Reply To Paul

By Kusal Perera

Kusal Perera

TN Wants “Factory Closed” When SL Tamils Want “Better Wages”; They Don’t Know The Difference !

Whom should I thank for this opportunity given to me, to further elaborate on what I have said about TN politics and SL Tamils ? Both my good friends Chandran and Paul ? Or, the Colombo Telegraph ? Let me thank them all and start with Bangalore University, Political Department Don, Dr. Paul Newman’s painful effort in defending the TN student agitations and through them, TN fringe politics on Sri Lanka.

Let’s first agree on two fundamental issues, without which, the SL Tamil issue as related to TN politics can not be understood with sanity.

(1)Political demands of the SL Tamil people are framed here in SL by the Tamil political parties (one or more, or in alliance) representing 2.27 million Tamil people living in Sri Lanka and by no one else or by no other organisation, any where else outside Sri Lanka. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) proved during these post war years, they have gained a dominant political role in SL Tamil society, with 48% in Jaffna district and 38.9% in the Vanni, voting with the TNA with very many odds against them, to elect 08 out of 15 MPs. With over 26% Muslim votes in the Vanni, the Muslims obviously get a share of representation from the balance 07 seats and at the last 2010 parliamentary elections with State power behind them, the ruling UPFA managed to have 03 Muslim MPs elected.

Meanwhile, the TNA won 24 out of the 32 LG bodies for which elections were held in 2011 in the districts of Jaffna, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu. In the East, TNA came as a very strong opposition with 11 Councillors elected, against the motley collection of 15 by the ruling UPFA and its allies. There is therefore no doubt, the TNA now represents the Tamil people and no one else. Not those Tamil parties, groups and individuals within the folds of the ruling Rajapaksa alliance either.

(2)TN agitations, protests or even “uprisings”, a new fond word in circulation now in TN media, if about SL, should and could ONLY be in “SOLIDARITY” with the SL Tamil people. They CAN NOT and don’t have a political right to dictate terms on SL Tamil politics as a Tamil nationalist movement in India. TN don’t have parental rights in circumventing and changing the demands put forward by the SL Tamil representation in SL and instead have their own, IF what they organise are actually “solidarity” campaigns.

IF Chandran and Paul would agree with those two basic assumptions, they should immediately understand that not only the students in “uprising”, but the whole of the recent TN protests and agitations, were and are nothing but political “riffraff”, contributing nothing to the SL Tamil issue. Of course, one may say, “Why not. Look how it travelled from Chennai to New Delhi to Geneva”. Any one who pins full faith on these US sponsored Resolutions, could continue to believe in them and that’s no hassle for me. But political scientists at least should understand that “solidarity movements” have their limits and restrictions in following the actual political aspirations of the people in oppression. They don’t have the right to go beyond what the oppressed people and their legitimate political representations demand for in fulfilling their aspirations.

Let’s try to understand it this way. Can TN human rights activists (unfortunately HR activism in TN rarely speak about other oppressed and brutalised societies within their own country) demand a “Separate Khalistan” for Punjab, now that it is reduced to a demand of a few Sikh Diaspora groups in the West ? Can on the other hand the Tamil Diaspora demand a “Separate Tamil Nadu” in India, 50 years after the DMK officially dropped that slogan in 1963 ? That is the strange difference between TN protests and SL Tamil aspirations. Political relevance does not come with “out-of-the-heavens” slogans, though in this present high tech globalised world, social media and IT can generate a frenzy, a blitzkrieg.

Unfortunately for Paul, based on the two fundamental guiding rules above, what he writes only proves me politically right. The “anti-Sri Lankan protests”, that he says he was “involved in along with a host of other human rights activists from Tamilnadu and Karnataka”, which I don’t dispute, proves in its very political terminology, they have NOT been solidarity campaigns on behalf of SL Tamils, but “anti Sri Lankan” in its politics for some other reason(s). Obviously, the students who follow, can not be more enlightened than the elders who can not understand the political difference between, a “pro SL Tamil campaign” and an “anti Sri Lankan” protest. TN students and their sympathisers are like those who want the factory closed for paying low wages, while the workers demand a “wage increase”.

An “anti Sri Lankan” protest can have any number of demands, based on the perception and the political need of those who spearhead those protests. Once such protests take root, they develop on their own warped ideology, though with initial wrappings. There arrives a time, when the “initial take off” and the “final landing” don’t even have any relationship between them. It is then the slogans don’t remain relevant to SL Tamil politics. Thus all those 09 demands can be campaigned by the students in their “anti Sri Lankan” protests and by all those who Paul has listed as proof for his claims. The lists of names of individuals and organisations apart, every single demand in that list, now runs counter to Tamil political aspirations in SL.

This list of 09 demands, who ever who drafted them for the students, or from where ever the students picked them from, is based on the premise that there is “genocide” continuing in SL and therefore the SL Tamils should be made to vote at a UN sponsored Referendum to establish a “Tamil Eelam” as decided by those students. SL Tamils’ “right to self determination” was never argued on “genocide”. “Self determination” was re-interpreted as the “right to internal self determination” by Dr. Anton Balasingham, when the LTTE signed the “Oslo Declaration” in December, 2002. All that was based on political interpretations and arguments. Now, for the Diaspora and TN activists, politics is not important. For them and their like, its “genocide” with apparently no clue about how this could be proved.

YES, there is no dispute, no argument the war caused thousands of deaths of civilians, of non combatants. They have to be investigated, if this regime wants to clear itself of charges of war crimes and to provide justice to the victims and their kith. Similarly, there are allegations of crimes against humanity too, that demands investigations. All of them put together demands investigations this regime denies but would not want to stand for trial. Politically, they can not afford to. That issue taken as “accountability” is partly in the US sponsored resolution, but none of them accounts for “genocide”.

I have argued against this slogan of “genocide” in my article in CT, for which Paul has taken umbrage upon me. I have very clearly said “crime” is not always “genocide”. I have given reasons for such difference, backed by hard facts, never disputed by any to date. Not even by Paul himself. Without “genocide”, the “Referendum” falls apart. Even otherwise I have given reasons why it wouldn’t be an “East-Timor” or a “South Sudan”. Again, none has contradicted me on them. Therefore, what relevance can these 09 demands that Paul lists as proof for an enlightened, intellectual student uprising mean to SL Tamils ? For me, despite the names and numbers backing them in hyped campaigns, they are “fringe and riffraff” when irrelevant to the main, core issue.

Does Paul or Chandran or these much defended students know what SL Tamil politics demand for now ? They should, instead of exhibiting their ignorance. TNA leader, R. Sampanthan has most recently, in fact even after the voting on the US sponsored Resolution, told the Colombo media, “It is my firm view that by and large, the vast majority of the Tamil people, whether they live in Sri Lanka or abroad, are opposed to violence. They look forward to a peaceful, reasonable, workable and durable political solution to the Tamil question.

However, there are groups wanting to propagate the fear of a renewal of militancy and to perpetuate that fear in order to evade arriving at a reasonable political solution.

The (SL) government’s failure to act positively to reach a political solution is helping these forces to propagate and perpetuate that fear. The government itself is not a party to this myth. Therefore, the (SL) government should, at the earliest, take positive steps to ensure that a political solution is in place.” [Ceylon Today – 25 March, 2013 / emphasis added]

Where is “genocide” and where is a “UN sponsored Referendum for separation” in that plain speaking, by the leader of the SL Tamil people, living in SL ? Politically therefore, neither these students nor Chandran and Paul understands that their slogans and demands have nothing to do with what TNA leader Sampanthan articulates as aspirations of the Tamil people in SL. In SL, Tamil politics is for 13th Amendment and building on it, as Sampanthan says. “The commitment was to fully implement the 13th Amendment and to build on it – to achieve meaningful power devolution. Sri Lanka took some steps in this regard, particularly when it appointed a multi-ethnic panel of experts……”[ibid]

I have instead politically argued, the solution can have a better consensus based on the APRC Final Report that proposes a complete overhaul of the present Constitution and straightaway begins with far reaching and meaningful power devolution under a new Constitution. IF Chandran, Paul, et al, wish to play solidarity with the SL Tamil people, they should help the TNA position for a political solution to be canvassed support in TN and New Delhi. They should help build pressure on the SL government and trap the Rajapaksa regime within the demands pushed by the TNA. Throwing up totally different slogans and living on idealistic, romantic self indulgences, only helps this Rajapaksa regime to continue side stepping the issue of settling the political conflict. But to understand that, needs political intellect sans sectarianism. TN is all that and nothing else. So why blame me ?

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Latest comments

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    The Tamils want their wages and also their rights as equal citizens. Has a neighbour the right to intervene when his brother or sister is being mercilessly thrashed in the adjoining backyard? Or is he to remain a silent onlooker? In the past the neighbours were on good terms and made various promises to each other.

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    Tamil Nadu protests obviously is about their own sectarian needs, though they use the SL Tamil conflict to their advantage. MK is trying to save face for the next State govt election and JJ is trying to hold onto her votes. Some like Seeman are trying to build his image. He could not do much on the screen. For students, what politics ? they don’t know to even articulate their own case on education and employment in India. The N/Delhi govt rushes to Chennai and tries to pacify MK to keep 18 votes with the govt. None of them have anything to do with SL Tamil issue. They can not !! They are neither democratic nor HR campaigns. TN rarely had HR activism as pointed by Perera. They have never taken up the issue of J&K. The death of Afzal Guru. J&K is even worse than Present SL. TN activism has never taken up the Naga issue. Never taken up the draconian AFSP Act that is used heavily in India to violate the rights of the agitating people. WHY ? These groups are not democratic, not HR and not politically anchored. They are only ethnically fired for TN votes for which SL Tamils are used !
    AS

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    Mr.Perera’s logic is that since Sampathan is not demanding a separate state, solidarity movements elsewhere and the diaspora does not have the right to do so. Well Mr.Sampandan was part of Vaddukotai resolution which demanded a separate state for the Tamils. The TULF up to now has not said that they have dropped that demand. They have simply stopped talking about that in public and that is in fear of prosecution.
    Unlike Champika Ranawake of the JHU Mr.Perera at least admits that the Tamils are oppressed and oppressed means they are NOT free to articulate their aspirations and their demands has to be confined within the limits permitted by the laws enacted by the oppressive regime. You point a gun to Tamil’s head or rather 300,000 guns and say if you demand a separate state you will be killed and then argue that the Tamils are not demanding a separate state, it is only the stupid Tamil Nadu politicians and students who are demanding this. What an elegant logical argument and that is from the Crème de la Crème of the Sinhala liberals.
    All Mr.Perera’s arguments would be valid only if the Tamils are given an opportunity to freely express their aspirations and the demands. Thus is the call for referendum monitored by the international community.

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      ‘You point a gun to Tamil’s head or rather 300,000 guns and say if you demand a separate state you will be killed and then argue that the Tamils are not demanding a separate state’ Well said Dharma,

      If any one wants to talk about Tamils aspirations, It should be through referendum under independent monitoring rather than some one applying their diplomatic knowledge to calculate and argue on papers.
      There is no other reliable way of talking of Tamils aspiration rather, either you guys did not want to give it or its not a consideration by the majority!

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        Mr Perera,

        I appreciate your understanding of ethnic issue and trying your best to solve it with out compromising Majorities rights to rule the country!
        Don’t make a mistake of judging whether some one is hungry or not, who is in front of you, by listening to people around rather ask the person in front, he would state it clearly!

        Just let the Jaffna university students to speak freely (You know the freedom they have from last year events) and then you will find whether there is solidarity or not.

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    Whatever said, there is a situation created for the Tamils since May 19th by this Regime, which demands questioning. Any intellectual will not
    be silent when its own community is being struck down in the way the
    SL Govt treats them. This reminds me of CEB Power-cuts – which too is
    based on Tamil/Sinhala areas. A study of the action in these two
    areas will be revealing, to prove the mind-set of the Regime.

    Political goals on both sides of the Palk Straits may be the same.

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    They may don’t know the difference but they know the heart of SL tamils, to understand TN students protests we must understand the backdrop, in that Indian politics and her crawling rotten foreign policy and diplomacy towards Sri lanka frustrated TN, What do you expect from angered TN after 4 years of war ending no justice has been done? TN students should explore ways how to put our case in wider India or All India, Its going to snowball

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    @Kusal

    I will respond with one liner, One can wake those who sleep , but not the one who pretends to sleep

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    The writer must understand that the TNA is operating under certain constraints. For instance they cannot advocate
    A separate state as it is against the Constitution. According to the Vaddukotai Resolution the Tamils should have a state of their own.That is the claim that they should make but they cannot do so .but that does not prevent the Tamil people living outside the country asking for it.

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      What? Can’t demand separate state b’cos of Constitution ? So they live by the Constitution ? Then there is no problem. Let them live by the Constitution !
      AS

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    The author had never heard about the 6th Amendment that outlaws anyone advocating for separation? What a joker?
    THUS TNA can’t advocate for a referendum.

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