26 May, 2022


Vote For Ends Attainable Now: JUSTA

Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA) puts forward the following points for voters to ponder when casting their vote on 17th August.

1. The political settlement to the Tamil question requires conditions where the Tamils could live as equals to those in the rest of the country, be able to protect and foster their economy and culture and have the assurance that the demographic composition of lands where Tamil speakers were predominant would not be tampered with by the State to serve a majoritarian political agenda.

The rest of the world and thinking Sinhalese understand and sympathise with this aspiration and the Tamil people have overwhelmingly voted in support of this from 1956.

The internationalisation of the problem has certain consequences. A reasonable settlement is within our means if we approach it responsibly and with dignity. The battle is for us to lose by unnecessary rhetoric that provokes the Sinhalese and Muslims.

Tamil Vote Photo CREDIT- REUTERS:DINUKA LIYANAWATTEIt is to be much regretted that our leaders have done little to seek reconciliation with Muslims and find a common political cause with the Muslims and Hill Country Tamils.

2. Most of the contestants are appealing to Tamil nationalism in their manifesto. We should support the one that is coherent while being firm on accepted norms of international law and would come across as reasonable in any public forum. Provocative slogans alone would not help the Tamils to rebuild their lives and obtain for example a return of their lands, except to delude themselves in wishful thinking that the UN would move in and impose a settlement.

We cannot move ahead without a genuine negotiating position reflecting consensuses reached in previous talks with the Government over the years and what the international community would support. Most Tamils desire a federal settlement and have consistently voted for it.

3. A matter of grave importance not only to the Tamils but also to the Muslims and Sinhalese is the question of impunity. The acceptance of impunity in Sri Lankan culture has degraded our public life and our institutions, not least out university system. An opportunity we have to make a start in combating impunity is when the final report on the last few months of the war is released at the UN Human Rights Council. We must insist that the truth be told and the allegations fully investigated, whoever the perpetrator.

Our experience from the 1990s, which includes the Disappearance Commissions, the Bindunuwewa case and the Fr. Jim Brown, ACF and Five Students cases, tells us that previous local mechanisms  to deliver justice to victims of grave abuses finished up a shameful eyewash despite faltering attempts to sell these internationally as Sri Lanka’s firm commitment to end impunity.

Justice in cases of grave violations stands a chance of being attainable if our demands are focussed on what could be achieved through the elections. We need to be firm on a political settlement and where international law is on our side what is mostly needed is quiet diplomacy and not public rhetoric. Rhetoric about original Tamil demands over several decades and betrayals by one or more electoral rivals in platform fireworks would merely insult the innocent civilians whose lives were stolen, make us look unreasonable and throw confusion on what we should focus on and achieve now.

It is also of prime importance that our representatives stand united as a single group voicing forcefully our concerns and any fragmentation into small groups would work to our disadvantage in winning our rights.

The immense loss of life in the past decades places on us, the voters, an obligation to avoid courses of action where more lives would be sacrificed on the altar of empty heroic rhetoric by those who will not pay the price. We would have to rebuild our life here and not in some foreign lands.

Jaffna University Science Teachers’ Association (JUSTA)

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Latest comments

  • 3

    All party manifestos are full of rhetoric and unobtainable nonsense. We have been promised a “singaporean” paradise since 1980 and we are still searching for it.
    It would have been better for JUSTA to come right out and tell which one they are alluding to instead of beating about the bush.

    • 1


      Have you seen the promises of Trinco becoming Singapore and Colombo becoming Chicago?

  • 2

    A very sensible approach. One would wish that an overwhelming majority of Tamil voters will fully endorse this reasonable view point.
    Sengodan. M

    • 2

      I think the TNA should have consulted JUSTA before coming up with ti’s insipid manifesto.

  • 1

    JUTA has given sensible and timely advice that must be heeded by the Tamil people. Amidst the rhetoric of the elections and amidst all duplicitous promises, here is the voice of reason.

    1. It is right that the Tamils must ensure that the silent groups among the Sinhalese are made aware of the justness of the Tamil cause in seeking self-determination. They must be convinced that ethnic chauvinists have been taking them for a ride for after winning they have served only themselves and their families, ensuring that their children are educated in England and have luxurious lives.

    2. The problem is internationalized. Mahinda did that when he courted China. Now, the big powers have a stake in the outcome of the elections because their interests will be affected. This is inevitable.

    3. The ethnic problem is internationalized as an active Tamil diaspora will ceaselessly agitate for justice to the Tamils. As they constitute swinging votes at elections in many Western states, their capacity to influence these states is great.

    4. The problem is internationalized due to the atrocities committed by the army against norms of international law. As long as proper accountability mechanisms are not brought about, the issue will remain an international issue justifying constant attention.

    5. As JUTA points out, an internal mechanism will be biased and will fail. Mr Sumanthiran is on record as suggesting an hybrid tribunal with domestic judges. This will also fail as hybrid tribunals elsewhere have failed due to pressure on the domestic judges. The Cambodia tribunal is an instance in point.

    6. Accountability is important for Sinhalese Muslims as well as Tamils. The brutalization and militarization of the army affects all people in the island. The end to such brutalization is possible only if proper accountability mechanisms are created. It will ensure that there is a return to the rule of law and that every killing is accounted for as required by the law of the land.

    7. The rhetoric of the Tamil politicians has little use. They cannot deliver on their promises. The Tamils must know this by now. They are a duplicitous lot who are intent on furthering their own selfish interests.

    8. The end to chauvinism on both sides is essential. Elections must be fought out on grounds that reflect values. The Sinhalese must concede that the Tamils have a just cause in asking for a large amount of devolution so that they could look after their affairs.

    9. Other issues, like the economy and education are seldom addressed by politicians. They seek to win elections on the ethnic issue. Is it not time that this situation is ended?

  • 0

    TNA Heavy Abraham says Federal Government in the North is the only solution which is acceptable to them, as reported in a Srilankan Web Publication today.

    This is already in their Manifesto .

    TNA also wants the UN to try Rajapaksa Regime and The Armed Forces for War Crimes and Genocide.

    Can UNP Ranil deliver these demands when he would be opposed by 5.8 Million minimum on Monday , even if he forms a TNA SLMC Coalition Government?.

    Can Ranil give TNA a Federal Government just with a simple majority in Parliament.

    CFD Crusader in contrast at leastis not interested in War Crimes and Gencide charges although he is also for a Federal System.

    Which sounds a moderate approach considering that CFD is the outfit of the ex Tigers , and Mr Varathan , who made the above statement was the former body guard of Mr Prabakaran.

    TNA which refused these people a ticket are totally embedded with the UNP.

    If Rajapaksa wins on Tuesday , Mr Varathan and his CFD can work with them as the former LTTE Chief KP is doing.

    After all the CFD Manifesto is more about giving the ex LTTE members and the families their lives back.

    Where as the TNA is using them as vote catchers to help the UNP form the next Government.

  • 0

    CT use that picture often and are very fond of it aren’t they?!

  • 3

    Well, the “Tamil economy” is a bit of a fallacy.

    Its majority Sinhala people who pay for Tamils free education, health, well being and other things.

    At this point in time the Tamils cannot even afford the printing costs of having print things in their language!

    Tamils are a net cost to Ceylon when you consider even the tea plucker is half as productive as others.

    If you “internationalise” things, then get the internationals to pay for all this burden!

  • 2

    Excellent advice, if the words “solution within a unitary state” were included that would make it complete and will send a strong message to rest of the country. Nevertheless sound advice to the voters.

    Sri Lanka is striving hard to change hopefully next step of that aspiration will be achieved on 18th August. Change of mindset and approach is the need of the hour. Solution for all communities live respectfully with dignity can found with a fully democratic government/governance.

  • 1

    This Thangachchi has two options.
    A) Show her middle finger to the TNA


    B) Show it to CFD

    • 0

      This “thondamanar” Gobbaya has no option…

  • 0

    JUSTA’s statement makes some valid points.

    JUSTA is dead right when it says that “Provocative slogans alone would not help the Tamils to rebuild their lives and obtain for example a return of their lands, except to delude themselves in wishful thinking that the UN would move in and impose a settlement.”

    But, unfortunately TNA and Tamil Congress (TNPF) candidates are once again depending on provocative slogans to harvest the votes of the Tamils.

    Both parties make the same call for self-rule and self-determination as well as federalism though they differ on the meanings of these terms.

    TNA is calling for self-rule under a federal system but sketchy on details as to what what type of federal systems they want. Any student in politics knows that there are various shades of federalism and it appears that TNA has purposely left this undefined.

    As for the Tamil Congress, they say they want two nations and one country under a federal arrangement. This appears to mean a confederation.

    In relation to self-determination, TNA for its part, as pointed out by Gajendrakumar in his criticism of TNA stand, seems to be talking about internal self-determination. He says that TNA is creating an unwarranted dichotomy between external self-determination and internal self-determination. His argument is that right to self-determination is indivisible, that there is only one right to self-determination, and that there cannot be a division of this right into internal and external self-determinations. I do not totally agree with Gajendrakumar’s interpretation of international law on the term ‘self-determination’.

    Self-determination generally means the right of a people to decide their political destiny by themselves. However, there is no definite definition of this term. Self-determination is an evolving principle in international law.

    As any student of international law would know, international law is not an enacted law but a set of rules generally regarded and accepted as binding by nations. It is a law applied on the basis of consent. However, there are certain obligatory rules and these are called ‘jus cogens'(preemptory norms). These are overriding principles from which no derogation is permited. Two examples of jus cogens are the law of genocide and crimes against humanity. Rights of nations for self-determination is also regarded as a jus cogens rule. It is protected in the UN Charter and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

    The definition of the term ‘self-determination’ had been fluid and scope and purpose of the principle of self-determination has evolved significantly in the past century. The contemporary notions of self-determination usually distinguish between internal and external self-determination. Internal self-determination refers to various political and social rights within a country whereas external self-determination refers to full legal independence or secession for a ‘people'(nation) from the larger politico-legal state.

    Gajendrakumar seems to discard this contemporary notion of the term of self-determination and insists there is just one self-determination, that is right of a people to decide their political future as to whether they would like to remain in the politico-legal state or want to secede. His argument is that since Tamils are a people (nation) they have the right to self-determination and they can either decide to remain in the Sri Lankan nation or secede. However, he seems to accept that Tamils can negotiate with the Sri Lankan government and agree to live in a confederated state giving up some of their sovereign rights in order to create a united country.

    Even if you accept Gajendrakumar’s version of self-determination, the problem for the Tamils is how they are going to enforce their right of self-determination. The difficulty here is that no right to secession has yet been recognized under the international law. Inernational community sees the Tamils not as a people (meaning here as a nation) but as minorities and recognizing the right of minorities to secede would destroy order and stability within states. Further, recognizing the rights of minorities to secede would violate the territorial integrity and sovereignty of states. The latter is considered by the community of states as superior to the right of self-determination and under the UN Charter the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations are inviolable.

    There are, of course, proponents of the so-called principle of “responsibility to protect” (R2P). But, this principle is yet to gain universal acceptance by the nations of the world. R2P means the right of international community to respond to situations in which a state is manifestly failing to protect its populations against mass crimes. This principle was developed by its proponents after mass killings in Rwanda and Kosovo. There are no mass killings of Tamils in Sri Lanka like what happened in Rwanda or Kosovo for any state to intervene under the principle of R2P.

    TNA and TNPF are harping on emotional slogans to get elected to the Sri Lankan Paliament. The major Sinhala parties have clearly announced that there is no question of a federal solution to the Tamil problem. Thus the proposals put forward both by the TNA and TNPF are counterproductive. TNA’s Sampanthan with whatever number of seats his party may win on the 17th election, may prop up UNP in a hung parliament like what Chelvanayagam did in 1965, but he will get cheated like Chelvanayagam. But, no Sinhala leader will give the Tamils self-rule under a federal system.

    Instead, TNA should give up its demand for self-rule and try to achieve at least some of the things JUSTA has listed in the opening paragraph of its statement by having sensible discussions with the government that will assume power after the 17th election.

  • 1

    Thondamannar sounds like my Tamil village name but the Thankachi accent is 100% Singhalese accent. Uthangan is 100% correct, TNA or any Tamil political party should not be allowed to operate on their own without consulting Tamil think tank, JUSTA etc.- they should have consulted other non political bodies before drafting the manifesto – our Tamil issue is not TNA’s own family afire – any wrong move by them at this important time will affect all Tamils. Thank to the west for trying to rectify the mess they created to us – India is as usual very slow and not ready jet to clean the mess they made in srilanka, it is not our business to talk about their own mess. Britain is the tiger of the west.

  • 1

    Isn’t this the same old fedaral solution coated in sugar that has been rejected over and over again.

  • 0

    The best solution for Tamils is just swim back to Tamilnadu.

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