Mr. Rajdeep Singh [ email@example.com ] wrote from Los Angeles USA on 10 February 2009 - "I chanced upon your website and found it very intense and informative. However you do not mention anything about the LTTE's terrorism and terrorist activities. As for the suffering of the civilians is concerned, every country has the right to defend its unity and the SL govt is doing just that. Tamil people should understand it is Prabhakaran and the LTTE that has brought such misery to them. Your website also does not mention anything about Tamil Tiger child soldiers....kids abducted from their homes and forced into soldiering and to be used as cannon fodder. Your website also does not say anything about suicide bombings. All I can say is that once the LTTE is wiped out peace and reconciliation will return to Sri Lanka."
Dear Mr. Singh,
The views that you have expressed were heard loud and clear - not only because of your email address firstname.lastname@example.org . Said that, your views are not very different from those that appear to underpin the recent call by the Tokyo co chairs, Norway, US, EU and Japan for the LTTE to surrender and pave the way for 'peace and reconciliation'. And for that reason, I felt that what you say may be of general interest and that it will be useful to respond to what you have said - sentence by sentence.
You may find what I had written a few days ago on the Jeff and Mutt Act will also further an understanding of the international frame in which the call by the Tokyo Co Chairs was made - and the strategic interests that the trilaterals have sought to secure in the Indian Ocean region.
Let me now turn to examine the contents of your mail.
Your first sentence reads: "I chanced upon your website and found it very intense and informative'.
I am glad that you found tamilnation.org informative. As for being 'intense' you will appreciate that a people who have been deprived of their homeland and compelled to live as wandering nomads without a land that they may call their own, sometimes do get 'intense'. But I entirely agree that intensity should not override reason. At the same time you will agree that we need both mind and heart.
Your second sentence reads: tamilnation.org has not mentioned "anything about the LTTE's terrorism and terrorist activities."
You are wrong. It has. tamilnation.org set out its position clearly in Violence and Integrity written many years ago in 2001 -
"...tamilnation.org together with many Tamils, will continue to grapple with (and agonise over) the question of moral laws and ethical ideals in the context of an armed struggle for freedom. The question troubled Arujna in the battlefield of Kurushetra. In Pondicherry, Aurobindo grappled with the broader moral issues in 'The Evolution of Man'. Kannagi in Cilapathikaram, took the law into her own hands and burnt down Madurai in her search for justice. The response to the armed struggle, from those who are not members of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, must spring from a coincidence of what they themselves say, with what they do, and in this way reflect their own integrity....
We ourselves believe that means and ends are inseparable - and that the relationship between the two is intrinsic and dynamic. That is the first article of our creed. We are mindful that the resort to violence to secure political ends brings in its train consequences which offend the conscience of humanity.
But those who would resist recourse to war, are also duty bound to address some of the questions that arise - would they deny the moral legitimacy of the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam for freedom from alien Sinhala rule - and what is it that they, themselves, are doing to end the war and secure a just peace where no one people may rule another?
Or would they prefer to disdainfully dismiss the struggle for freedom by the people of Tamil Eelam as some 'internal squabble' or 'terrorism' - and continue to remain silent and distant spectators of Sri Lanka's continuing discrimination, arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, extra judicial killings and massacres, indiscriminate aerial bombardment, artillery shelling, wanton rape, genocide and state terrorism. These are not some remote 'philosophical' questions, but have something to do with the way in which each one of us choose to live our lives and also our self image 'of standing for principles'...
We judge that the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam for freedom from alien Sinhala rule has justice on its side and we take the view that by so judging, and placing in the public domain the facts on which that judgment is founded, we are more likely to bring a just peace in the island of Sri Lanka than by remaining a passive spectator."
tamilnation.org has also devoted a section to the reports of the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna Branch) - reports which have been critical of the LTTE. In its introduction to the UTHR reports, tamilnation.org pointed out -
"...The struggle of the Tamil people for self determination is rooted in that which is right and just - and will be strengthened, not weakened by an open examination of the issues that confront it. The Tamil struggle for freedom has no need for a 'media censorship' of the kind imposed by the Sinhala dominated Sri Lankan government from time to time - a media censorship which has served as a cloak for genocidal attacks by the Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka government against the Tamil people.
An armed resistance movement is not an afternoon tea party. At the same time, the means adopted by a struggle for freedom and the ends that it seeks to achieve are inseparable. Furthermore, 'humanising the armed conflict' is a necessary objective (and should be honestly supported). But the good faith of those who question some of the means adopted by the armed resistance of the Tamil people will be less open to question, if at the same time they do not deny the justice of the ends that the Tamils, as a people, are struggling to achieve. Martin Luther King's words in April 1963 are not without relevance:
"Over the past few years ....I have tried to make clear that it is wrong to use immoral means to attain moral ends. But now I must affirm that it is just as wrong, or perhaps even more so, to use moral means to preserve immoral ends."
Those who deny the right of the people of Tamil Eelam to freedom from alien Sinhala rule and the legitimacy of the armed resistance movement, may end up by making impotent pleas for 'human rights' and 'justice' from Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka governments who have systematically oppressed the Tamil people during the past several decades.
The Sri Lanka government then uses these 'pleas' and 'reports' to undermine the legitimacy of the Tamil struggle for freedom - and continue its genocidal attacks on the Tamil people with increased vigour. Furthermore, given the use to which the UTHR reports have been put by Sri Lanka, the 'sources' (often unnamed) on whose information the reports are based, become suspect - suspect as being agents of the Sri Lanka government. Having said that, it will be wrong to dismiss the UTHR reports out of hand and without careful examination - because in the end -
Whatever may be said, who ever may say it - to
determine the truth of it, is wisdom - Thirukural "
Again, said that, I believe that the epithet 'terrorism' is more often than not a political tag used to denigrate those who would deny the right of a people for freedom from alien rule. Sri Aurobindo said it many years ago -
" It is the common habit of established governments and especially those which are themselves oppressors, to brand all violent methods in subject peoples and communities as criminal and wicked. When you have disarmed your slaves and legalised the infliction of bonds, stripes, and death on any one of them who may dare to speak or act against you, it is natural and convenient to try and lay a moral as well as a legal ban on any attempt to answer violence by violence...
But no nation yet has listened to the cant of the oppressor when itself put to the test, and the general conscience of humanity approves the refusal...Liberty is the life breath of a nation; and when life is attacked, when it is sought to suppress all chance of breathing by violent pressure, then any and every means of self preservation becomes right and justifiable...It is the nature of the pressure which determines the nature of the resistance."
Michael Schubert writing 'On Liberation Movements And The Rights Of Peoples' pointed out many years ago in 1992 -
"The French Chief of Staff Andre Beaufre wrote about his own experience in Algeria and Vietnam in his 1973 German-language book 'Die Revolutionierung des Kriegsbildes': 'The surprising success of the decolonization wars can only be explained by the following: The weak seem to have defeated the strong, but actually just the reverse was true from a moral point of view, which brings us to the conclusion that limited wars are primarily fought on the field of morale.' (p.34)
In order for... states to quickly and effectively wipe out "revolt", which could get out of hand despite technical superiority (read: better weapons) due to the political and moral convictions of the mass movement, it is necessary to make comprehensive analyses early on and to take effective action in the psychological arena. It's no coincidence, therefore, that military and police circles seem to stress the benefits of "psychological warfare".
Ever since the U.S. Defence Department organised the first ever World Wide Psyops Conference in 1963 and the first NATO Symposium On Defence Psychology in Paris in 1960, many NATO leaders and several scientists have been working in the field of psychological counter-insurgency methods (cf. The detailed reports and analyses of P. Watson, Psycho-War: Possibilities, Power, And The Misuse Of Military Psychology, Frankfurt 1985, p.25ff.).
The central aim of this defence approach is to destroy the morale of the insurgent movement at the early stages, to discredit it and destroy it using repressive means like long periods of isolation detention in prisons, thereby preventing a mass movement from starting which could be hard to control with conventional means.
Defaming the insurgents as "terrorists" and punishing them accordingly - thereby ignoring international law concerning the rights of people in war - is a particularly useful means."
It was perhaps all this which Hillary Clinton recognised when she declared in an interview with Michael Romasky in October 2007
"Well, I believe that terrorism is a tool that has been utilized throughout history to achieve certain objectives. Some have been ideological, others territorial. There are personality-driven terroristic objectives. The bottom line is, you can't lump all terrorists together. And I think we've got to do a much better job of clarifying what are the motivations, the raisons d'être of terrorists. I mean, what the Tamil Tigers are fighting for in Sri Lanka, or the Basque separatists in Spain, or the insurgents in al-Anbar province may only be connected by tactics. They may not share all that much in terms of what is the philosophical or ideological underpinning. And I think one of our mistakes has been painting with such a broad brush, which has not been particularly helpful in understanding what it is we were up against when it comes to those who pursue terrorism for whichever ends they're seeking."
tamilnation.org has devoted a section to terrorism and the related law and practise. Here you may find the views expressed by UN Special Rapporteur, in his Final Report on Terrorism and Human Rights on 25 June 2004 of special interest -
"The most problematic issue relating to terrorism and armed conflict is distinguishing terrorists from lawful combatants, both in terms of combatants in legitimate struggles for self-determination and those involved in civil wars or non-international armed conflicts. In the former category, States that do not recognize a claim to self-determination will claim that those using force against the State's military forces are necessarily terrorists. In the latter, States will also claim that those fighting against the State are terrorists, and that rather than a civil war, there is a situation of "terrorism and counter-terrorism activity"....The controversy over the exact meaning, content, extent and beneficiaries of, as well as the means and methods utilized to enforce the right to self-determination has been the major obstacle to the development of both a comprehensive definition of terrorism and a comprehensive treaty on terrorism. The ideological splits and differing approaches preventing any broad consensus during the period of decolonization still persist in today's international relations. ...
...The Special Rapporteur has analysed the distinction between armed conflict and terrorism, with particular attention to conflicts to realize the right to self-determination and civil wars. This is an issue of great international controversy, in need of careful review due to the "your freedom fighter is my terrorist" problem and the increase in the rhetorical use of the expression "war on terrorism", labelling wars as terrorism, and combatants in wars as terrorists, and it has an extremely undesirable effect of nullifying application of and compliance with humanitarian law in those situations, while at the same time providing no positive results in combating actual terrorism...."
You may also find that which I wrote On Terrorism & Liberation in 2006 of some relevance -
"...Do we not deliberately obfuscate when we conflate the two words 'terrorism' and 'violence'? ... The Cuban revolution was violent but it was not terrorism. The war against Hitler was violent but it was not terrorism...What are the circumstances in which a people ruled by an alien people may lawfully resort to arms to resist that alien rule and secure freedom? Or is it that there are no circumstances in which a people ruled by an alien people may lawfully resort to arms to to liberate themselves? And if all resort to violence to secure political ends is not terrorism, then what is terrorism? ..to categorise a combatant in an armed conflict as a 'terrorist' organisation and seek to punish it on that basis, is to.. assert in effect that a people ruled by an alien people may not, as a last resort, lawfully resort to arms to resist that alien rule and secure freedom... "
Your third sentence reads: "as for the suffering of the civilians is concerned, every country has the right to defend its unity and the SL govt is doing just that."
I myself take the view that no country has the right to resort to genocide to defend its so called unity. The sixty year record of successive the Sri Lanka governments is proof enough that Sri Lanka is doing just that. Ethnic cleansing is about assimilating a people. It is about destroying the identity of a people, as a people. And it often occurs in stages. The preferred route of a conqueror is to achieve his objective without resort to violence - peacefully and stealthily. But when that fails, the would be conqueror turns to murderous violence and genocide to progress his assimilative agenda.
In the island of Sri Lanka, the record shows that during the past sixty years and more, the intent and goal of all Sinhala governments (without exception) has been to secure the island as a Sinhala Buddhist Deepa. Rule by a permanent ethnic majority within the confines of a single state is the dark side of democracy. The Sinhala Buddhist nation masquerading as a multi ethnic 'civic' 'Sri Lankan' nation set about its task of assimilation and 'cleansing' the island of the Tamils, as a people, by
- depriving a section of Eelam Tamils of their citizenship,
- declaring the Sinhala flag as the national flag,
- colonising parts of the Tamil homeland with Sinhala people,
- imposing Sinhala as the official language,
- discriminating against Tamils students seeking University admission,
- depriving Tamil language speakers of employment in the public sector,
- dishonouring agreements entered into with the Tamil parliamentary political leadership,
- refusing to recognise constititutional safeguards against discrimination,
- later removing these constitutional safeguards altogether,
- giving to themselves an authocthonous Constitution with a foremost place for Buddhism,
- and changing the name of the island itself to the Sinhala Buddhist name of Sri Lanka - appropriately enough, on the 'tenth day of the waxing moon in the month of Vesak in the year two thousand five hundred and fifteen of the Buddhist Era'.
When these attempts at ethnic cleansing were resisted by the Tamil people by non violent means and parliamentary struggle, Sinhala governments resorted to violence in 1956, in 1958, in 1961 and again in 1977 - a murderous violence directed to terrorise the Tamils into submission.
The inevitable rise of Tamil armed resistance to State terror was then met with enactment of laws which were an 'ugly blot on statute book of any civilised country', with arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extra judicial killings and massacres, indiscriminate aerial bombardment and artillery shelling, wanton rape, and genocide - together with press censorship, disinformation and murder of journalists. And the impunity granted to Sinhala armed forces, para military groups, goondas and Sinhala thugs, exposed the encouragement, support and direction given by successive Sri Lanka governments for the crimes committed against the Tamil people.
The current President Rajapakse government has pursued the Sinhala assimilative agenda by reneging on the 2002 Oslo Declaration, by refusing to recognise the existence of the Tamil homeland, and by perpetuating a Sri Lankan state structure within which the Tamil people may continue to be ruled by a permanent Sinhala majority. And in January 2008, the Sri Lanka government unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire agreement which it had solemnly entered into in February 2002 and which agreement had received internationally recognition.
The genocidal intent of the President Rajapakse government is proven by the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces under the President's command and by the Sri Lanka para military. They have raped, murdered Tamil Parliamentarians, Tamil journalists, executed Tamil students with impunity, arbitrarily arrested and detained Tamil civilians, abducted Tamil refugee workers, orchestrated attacks on Tamil civilians and Tamil shops, bombed Tamil civilian population centres and displaced thousands of Tamils from their homes.
I believe that there is an urgent need to attend to the words of Yelena Bonner (widow of Andrei Sakharov) that
"the inviolability of a country's borders against invasion from the outside must be clearly separated from the right to statehood of any people within a state's borders."
I take the view that the people of Tamil Eelam have the right to be free from alien Sinhala rule and I agree with the views expressed by 15 Non Governmental Organisations (consisting of the International Organisation for the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, International Educational Development, Centre Europe Ties Monde, International Indian Treaty Council, Fedefam, Association paur la Liberte Religiose, Codehuca, World Christian Community, Pax Christie International, International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, Movement contra le Racisme, International Association of Educadores for World Peace, International Association against Torture, World Confederation of Labour, and International Movement for Fraternal Union among Races and Peoples) at United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Geneva 8 February 1993 -
"..The Tamil population in the North and East, who have lived for many centuries within relatively well defined geographical boundaries, share an ancient heritage, a vibrant culture, and a living language which traces its origins to more than 2500 years ago. A social group, which shares objective elements such as a common language and which has acquired a subjective consciousness of togetherness, by its life within a relatively well defined territory, and its struggle against alien domination, clearly constitutes a 'people' with the right to self determination.
Today, there is an urgent need for the international community to recognise that the Tamil population in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka are such a 'people' with the right to freely choose their political status. It is our view that such recognition will prepare the ground for the resolution of a conflict which has taken such a heavy toll in human lives and suffering during the past several years.
Accordingly, we request that the delegates to the 49th Session of the Commission on Human Rights give their urgent consideration to these matters and (a) accord open recognition to the existence of the Tamil homeland in the North and East of the Island; and (b) recognise that the Tamil population in the North and East of the island constitute a 'people' with the right to self determination''
I also find persuasive the views expressed by Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in 2001 on Self Determination & the Future of Democracy -
"...Let us accept the fact that states have lifecycles similar to those of human beings who created them. The lifecycle of a state might last for many generations, but hardly any Member State of the United Nations has existed within its present borders for longer than five generations. The attempt to freeze human evolution has in the past been a futile undertaking and has probably brought about more violence than if such a process had been controlled peacefully...Restrictions on self-determination threaten not only democracy itself but the state which seeks its legitimation in democracy"
Your fourth sentence reads: "Tamil people should understand it is Prabhakaran and the LTTE that has brought such misery to them."
But what are the facts? The struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam did not begin with Prabhakaran and the LTTE. Long before the rise of Tamil armed resistance, the Gandhian Tamil leader S.J.V.Chelvanayagam had declared in 1975 -
"Throughout the ages the Sinhalese and Tamils in the country lived as distinct sovereign people till they were brought under foreign domination. It should be remembered that the Tamils were in the vanguard of the struggle for independence in the full confidence that they also will regain their freedom. We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon."
"It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people. These governments have been able to do so only by using against the Tamils the sovereignty common to the Sinhalese and the Tamils."
"I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free."
And here the truth of something which Professor Marshall Singer said in 1995 must be borne in mind -
"...One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government - regardless of which party was in power - the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much. In almost every case - sometimes within days - the party in power backed down on the agreement..." - Professor Marshall Singer, at US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995
The Tamil armed resistance arose in response to the dismal record of broken Pacts and evasive proposals by successive Sinhala governments - a record that speaks for itself. The Tamil people are not stupid. They know that it is not 'Prabhakaran and the LTTE that has brought such misery to them' but a murderous Sinhala Buddhist ethno nationalism which dare not speak its name and which seeks to masquerade as a Sri Lanka 'civic' secular nation albeit with the Sinhala Sri Lanka name which it gave itself unilaterally in 1972 and with Buddhism enthroned in its constitution.
Your fifth sentence states: "your website also does not mention anything about Tamil Tiger child soldiers....kids abducted from their homes and forced into soldiering and to be used as cannon fodder."
You are wrong. Yes, it does. tamilnation.org has devoted a whole section to an examination of the question of child soldiers. tamilnation.org has pointed out -
"...Having in 2002 adopted a double standard in the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child for the age of recruitment by States and Armed Groups, States have then been concerned to secure the implementation of the double standard. The UN Security Council Resolution 1612 (2005) and the establishment of the "Council Working Group" served as mechanisms to advance the political agenda of states concerned to prevent armed resistance movements from recruiting 16 year olds whilst States themselves continue to recruit 16 year olds to their armed forces. States would like to offer 16 year olds in their own schools ' a career' in the armed forces, produce video games (given free to 16 year olds and freely seen by 12 year olds) and in this way encourage the child recruitment process and at the same time shout 'child soldiers' and 'war crime' where under 18 children, without schools to attend, and in many cases without families to look after them, join a movement resisting oppression and alien rule of their homeland."
You may also find the communication in August 2007 by Karen Parker, International Educational Development to the UN Security Council Working Group "Children affected by the war in Sri Lanka; legal problems with the age of combatants" as well as the Observations by International Federation of Tamils on the Report of Under Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict in Sri Lanka" instructive.
Your sixth sentence states: "Your website also does not say anything about suicide bombings."
You are wrong. Yes, it does. tamilnation.org does have a section on Black Tigers which sets out the countervailing views on suicide bombings. Said that I am also mindful that
"Throwing a bomb is bad,
Dropping a bomb is good;
Terror, no need to add,
Depends on who's wearing the hood."
R.Woddis 'Ethics for Everyman'
quoted by Igor Primoratz in State Terrorism & Counter Terrorism
I believe that it is important to pay attention to the words of the Geneva Declaration on the Question of Terrorism by International Conference on the Question of Terrorism in 1987 -
"...The peoples of the world are engaged in a fundamental series of struggles for a just and peaceful world based on fundamental rights now acknowledged as sacred in a series of widely endorsed international legal conventions. These struggles are opposed in a variety of cruel and brutal ways by the political, economic and ideological forces associated with the main structures of domination present in the world that spread terrorism in a manner unknown in prior international experience... The terrorism of modern state power and its high technology weaponry exceeds qualitatively by many orders of magnitude the political violence relied upon by groups aspiring to undo oppression and achieve liberation. Let us also be clear, we favour non-violent resistance wherever possible... We condemn all those tactics and methods of struggle that inflict violence directly upon innocent civilians as such...but we must insist that terrorism originates with nuclearism, criminal regimes, crimes of state, high-technology attacks on Third World peoples, and systematic denials of human rights. It is a cruel extension of the terrorist scourge to taunt the struggles against terrorism with the label "terrorism". We support these struggles and call for the liberation of political language along with the liberation of peoples. Terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples..."
I believe that it is a cruel extension of the terrorist scourge to taunt the struggles against terrorism with the label "terrorism" and that "terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples." I believe that there is a need to "call for the liberation of political language along with the liberation of peoples".
Your final sentence states - "all I can say is that once the LTTE is wiped out peace and reconciliation will return to Sri Lanka."
I am reminded of the words of Professor Johan Galtung in an interview with Namini Wijedasa reported in the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Island on 2 February 2007, some two years ago -
"..But imagine it happens: Killinochchi is flattened, Mr P is dead, LTTE dissolved. Will the Tamil dream of a Tamil Eelam die? Of course not. It will be revived, and new cycles of violence will occur. And probably new CFAs. And possibly the same mistake, confusing ceasefire with peace, using it as a sleeping pillow to do nothing..."
The struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam did not begin with the LTTE and therefore will not end with the LTTE. 'Peace and Reconciliation' are soothing words. We all love peace. But peace comes in many different forms. We have the peace of the graveyard as well. If it was simply peace that the Tamil people wanted they may have been well advised to willingly submit to alien Sinhala rule - many years ago.
"The would be conqueror is always a lover of peace, for he would like to enter and occupy our country unopposed. It is in order to prevent him from doing this that we must be willing to engage in war and be prepared for it." - Clausewitz quoted in Philosophers of Peace and War, edited by Professor Gallie
The bottom line is that the conflict in the island will be resolved only if we honestly pay attention to the deep felt differences which had given rise to the war in the first instance - deep felt differences which has led so many to give their lives and give of their lives. We need to address the conflict which had not been amenable to peaceful resolution and which had led to war. And something that I have said elsewhere will bear repetition yet again -
"Yes, by all means let us forget a separate state. Let us forget the Gandhian leader, S.J.V.Chelvanayagam's independence declaration of 1975. Let us forget the Vaddukoddai Resolution of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) of 1976. Let us forget the TULF Manifesto for independence which received the overwhelming support of the people of Tamil Eelam in 1977. Let us forget S.J.V.Chelvanayagam. Let us forget the LTTE. Let us forget Velupillai Pirabakaran.
Indeed, let us go further. Let us forget federalism. Let us forget devolution - yes, even devolution.
Let us also forget decades of murder, torture and rape which led Paul Sieghart Q.C. to conclude in 1984 that "communal riots in which Tamils are killed, maimed, robbed and rendered homeless are no longer isolated episodes; they are beginning to become a pernicious habit."
Let us forget 1956, 1958, 1961, 1974, 1977 and 1983. Yes, even 1983.
Let us forget decades of broken pacts and dishonoured agreements entered into by the dominant Sinhala majority with the Tamil political leadership.
Yes, by all means, let us forget the past. Let us live in the present and look to the future. Let us explore dispassionately the 'disinterested' advice of the 'international community' and our 'disinterested friends' that the answer to the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka lies in a multi ethnic secular Sri Lanka.
Let us then ask: Will this unitary (yes, unitary) 'multi ethnic secular state' renounce the Sinhala Lion flag as its 'national' flag and adopt a tricolor as its national flag? If not, why not? After all the English Lion does not rise rampant in the flag of the United Kingdom, does it?
Will this 'unitary multi ethnic secular state' repeal the Sinhala Only Act and declare explicitly and without subterfuge that Sinhalese and Tamil shall have parity throughout the island? If not, why not?
Will this 'unitary multi ethnic secular state' repeal the Constitutional recognition given to Buddhism? If not, why not?
Will this 'unitary multi ethnic secular state' agree to renounce its Sinhala name which it gave itself unilaterally in 1972? If not, why not?
Will this 'unitary multi ethnic secular state' stop changing the demography of the land by state sponsored Sinhala colonisation? If not, why not?
Let us then ask -
If the Sinhala political leadership cannot, even today, (yes, even today) remotely consider doing any or all of this, would the 'disinterested' international community and our 'disinterested' friends please tell us why that is so? What is it in the Sinhala political consciousness that prevents it agreeing to a truly unitary (yes, unitary) 'multi ethnic secular state'? And given the existential reality of that Sinhala political consciousness what does the mantra of a 'multi ethnic plural soceity' actually mean - despite its meditative ring?
Let us ask then ask our 'disinterested' friends -
Would you deny that Sinhala ethno nationalism is a nationalism that dare not speak its name?
Would you deny the reality that in the island of Sri Lanka a Sinhala Buddhist ethno nation seeks to masquerade as a 'multi ethnic civic Sri Lankan nation' so that it may further its assimilative agenda?
Would you deny the political reality of the homogeneous Pan Sinhala Ministry of 1936 - yes, in 1936 under British rule when separation was not even a remote threat, and devolution was not on the table?
Would you deny that the record shows that during the past sixty years and more, the intent and goal of all Sinhala governments (without exception) has been to secure the island as a Sinhala Buddhist Deepa ?
Would you deny that Sinhala Buddhist ethno nationalism existed long before Tamil demands for devolution or federalism or an independent state - and that Sinhala Buddhist ethno nationalism has its roots in the Mahawamsa and in Duttugemenu and that it has continued to assert its hegemony with increasing ferocity?
Would you deny that Sinhala Buddhist ethno nationalism did not arise as a response to the Tamil demand for federalism or an independent state?
Would you deny that Sinhala Buddhist ethno nationalism is not the creation of S.J.V.Chelvanayagam or Velupillai Pirabakaran?
Would you deny that in fact and in truth, it is the other way around?
Would you deny that it this political reality which prevents the Sinhala political leadership even today, (yes, even today) from agreeing to a truly unitary 'multi ethnic secular state' without a Sinhala Lion Flag, without the Sinhala Only Act, without Buddhism as the State religion, and without the Sinhala 'Sri Lanka' name
Would you deny that it this political reality of the existence of two nations in the island of Sri Lanka (one which dares not speak its name, and the other which does) that any meaningful conflict resolution process will need to address?
Would you deny that Velupillai Pirabakaran was right when he declared many years ago -
"We are not chauvinists. Neither are we lovers of violence enchanted with war. We do not regard the Sinhala people as our opponents or as our enemies. We recognise the Sinhala nation. We accord a place of dignity for the culture and heritage of the Sinhala people. We have no desire to interfere in any way with the national life of the Sinhala people or with their freedom and independence. We, the Tamil people, desire to live in our own historic homeland as an independent nation, in peace, in freedom and with dignity."
Would you admit that to deny all this is to display the simple mindedness of the naive or the trickery of the knave."
Dear Mr. Singh, I do not suggest that you are a knave. I do suggest however that you are being somewhat naive when you say that 'once the LTTE is wiped out peace and reconciliation will return to Sri Lanka'. Again, perhaps it is because the Tamil people know that if the LTTE is wiped out, peace and reconciliation will not come to Sri Lanka, that the LTTE will not be wiped out.
Be that as it may, I believe that peace will come only with justice. And justice is not an empty platitude. So long as the Sinhala people believe that they can conquer the Tamil homeland and rule a people against their will (perhaps through quislings, mercenaries and collaborators), so long will they fail to see the need to talk to the Tamil people on equal terms. So long also will they fail to see the need to recognise the existence of the Tamil people, as a people, with a homeland and with the right to freely choose their political status.
So long also will they fail to see the need to structure a polity where two nations may associate with each other in equality and in freedom.
So long also will they fail to see the force of reason in that which 17 non governmental organisations (consisting of International Association of Educators for World Peace, International Educational Development, International Indian Treaty Council, Consejo Indico de Sud America, Comision de Deeches Homonas de El Salavador, Commission for the Defence of Human Rights in Central America, World Council of Churches, International Movement against all Forms of Discrimination and Racism,Action des Christians Pour L'Abolition de la Torture,FIMARC, International Council of Women, American Association of Jurists, Centre Europe-Tiers Monde, Servieiv Pax Justica America Latina, Pax Romana, International League for the Rights and Liberation of Peoples, and World Christian Live Community) told the UN Commission on Human Rights at its 50th Sessions in February 1994:
'' There is a need to recognise that the deep divisions between the Sri Lanka government and the Tamil people cannot be resolved by the use of force against Tamil resistance. The Tamil population in the North and East of the island, who have lived from ancient times within relatively well defined geographical boundaries in the north and east of the island, share an ancient heritage, a vibrant culture, and a living language which traces its origins to more than 2500 years ago.
...Before the advent of the British ..., separate kingdoms existed for the Tamil areas and for the Sinhala areas in the island. The Tamil people and the Sinhala people were brought within the confines of one state for the first time by the British in 1833. After the departure of the British in 1948, an alien Sinhala people speaking a language different to that of the Tamils and claiming a separate and distinct heritage has persistently denied the rights and fundamental freedoms of the Tamil people. ..
It is ...our view that the Secretary General should consider invoking his good offices with the aim of contributing to the establishment of peace in the island of Sri Lanka through respect for the existence of the Tamil homeland in the NorthEast of the island of Sri Lanka and recognition for the right of the Tamil people to freely determine their political status.''