By Shenali Waduge
India’s fragile federal status predicts a possible eventual breakup of India similar to that of the Soviet Union. This spells a national security concern for both India and Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka’s armed forces eliminated the initial possibility securing Sri Lanka’s security and that of India. Why should India want to commit hara-kiri by continuing to encourage the eelaam slogan bypassing the possible dangers thinking it can handle worst case scenario of annexing Sri Lanka? Realizing the dangers of India’s entire Southern stretch falling into external hands if not protected, India must first protect its turf before exploring annexing endeavors. As for President Rajapakse it is in his interest to revoke the 13th amendment for the majority block vote will back him so long as he protects Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and unitary status. That is a powerful backing – one that President should not turn his back upon.
Why does India want 13a and Devolution?
India forced Sri Lanka to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord. Sri Lanka was made to amend its constitution and introduce an Indian-style Provincial Council system and merge the North and east provinces to create an ethnic-based minority rule that would help India’s later objectives. With all these major changes already introduced what is all this nonsense about implementing the 13a – it is already implemented. So what is India not telling us?
Is it only India’s interest in Sri Lanka’s Tamils that makes India seeks assurance to “implement” the 13th amendment and devolution? Why would a powerful Central Government wish to take pains to appease Tamil Nadu – just another state of India? From the manner Tamil Nadu politicians are influenced is it not a dangerous scenario. No one expects State Governments to dictate to the Central Government and we certainly don’t take too kindly to being caught in between this tussle.
Have we failed to convey to India the dangers of separatism in Sri Lanka or does India want to have Sri Lanka separate ignoring that the plan is to actually separate India – Sri Lanka is just a pebble to test the water!
Sri Lanka did not ask for Provincial Council system – it was India that decided. Prabakaran had to consent because he was in India and was apprehensive of his future had he not given his consent. 13a was discarded by Prabakaran and therefore there should be no reason why Tamils should favor Provincial councils or the 13a.
Why India doesn’t need an Eelaam to add to its woes
Let us not mince our words. When countries enjoy creating turmoil in other nations the karmic effects eventually comes home. India is a federal state on fire. Calamities, natural catastrophes, terrorist movements are taking place throughout its borders and culturally and socially too it is facing tremendous challenges. Let us also not fool ourselves that the rest of India is not very happy about the Hindi domination of India least of all South India. This is what led to South India feeling that in view of India not being originally a single country, Tamil Nadu had every right to demand a separate state. The Indian Government made sure the “We Tamil Movement” didn’t get off the ground, it introduced constitutional amendments and currently it allows Tamil Nadu voices on Eelaam purely because they know how to keep those voices in check when the time comes. Money is very powerful. Yet we foresee the Balkanization of India happening and it is something India should be more concerned about considering the fragile status of Tamil Nadu and its current inability to handle the puppets in place. If a Central Government dances to tunes of its State Governments, Sri Lanka’s leaders need to pay far more attention than waiting and watching.
India forcibly brought Bhutan under its control through a 1949 Treaty (Article 2 of that Treaty requires Bhutan to seek India’s advice on all external affairs while Article 6 bans imports of arms and ammunition without India’s approval). The 25year Treaty signed with Bangladesh was similar and today Bangladesh is distancing itself from India and forging ties with China. Similarly, Nepal’s relationship with China is developing while its ties with India are not so great. There is little need to elaborate on Indo-Pak ties. Therefore, India is not winning accolades from any of its SAARC neighbors. India is using the same divide and rule policy of the colonial masters. Creating a separate Tamil province in Sri Lanka will next help create further dissent which India will provide “assistance” eventually leading to the North of Sri Lanka becoming part of India. What is the future of Sri Lanka especially the Sinhalese? We believe the current leadership should be weighing these odds as well.
Ironically Prabakaran’s existence kept these hidden agendas in check however the present situation is far more docile. The eelaam agenda is moving at full speed and gathering Tamils together in a drive to unite all Tamils in phase two of the bid to create Tamil Eelaam.
How can a small area of Sri Lanka’s north be homeland to 75m world Tamils when 65m of this number presently live in Tamil Nadu – the ideal and most practical state to declare a Tamil homeland. Tamils are well aware of this but do not wish to vocalize their ultimate objective – an objective that is probably sponsored by the West so that not only will there be a Tamil state but that Tamil state would include north and east of Sri Lanka so that the West can use the world famous natural harbor in East Sri Lanka whilst also running the eventual Balkanized Indian states. India’s leaders will not know what happened unless India stop its complex to bully and start thinking of protecting itself first.
Sri Lanka is apprehensive. We have a right to be so. We are aware of India’s training and arming of LTTE, we also know that India saved Prabakaran from capture in 1987, we know that Tamil Nadu was a transit and logistics base for the LTTE, we are also angry by the manner India air-dropped food packs violating our sovereignty and we know the dangers of the provincial system because the first Chief Minister of the North declared it an independent state and he remains the guest of India.
Demand for Devolution
Who says there is a national demand for devolution? Simply because a handful of Tamils, a countable number of Colombo elite with excess to international media and personages cry “devolution” it does not mean the rest of the country and over 14m of the 20m want the 13a, devolution or provincial councils
Why should Sri Lanka spend over $1.3billion in recurrent expenses to run 9 provinces that have done little for the masses except produce rapists, corrupt provincial councilors, thugs and totally ill-suited people to run these provinces?
The people of Sri Lanka have had enough of half-hearted Committees and Commissions that refuse to ask the fundamental question – What are the grievances that exclusively Tamils suffer from legally and constitutionally? Without asking this we have been dancing round a “solution” without knowing the problem. In so far as the problem is concerned there is a major difference in “grievance” and “aspiration” – if it is aspirations that the Tamils grieve from then sadly it is something that simply has no solution because less than half the country did not vote for President Rajapakse but he remains after all the President of Sri Lanka!
The Tamils who accuse the Sinhalese of unfairly equating them with the LTTE may like to recall that it was the TNA who claimed the LTTE was the SOLE representative of the Tamil people. What’s more with 65m Tamils India has still not made Tamil an official language. What is the reason to make Tamil an official language for just 1.4m of a population of 20m? Malaysia has only one language within a multi-ethnic society.
It has been convenient too for the Tamils to hide the caste factor that is a strong factor amongst Tamils. This is perfectly displayed in high caste Tamils protesting against the Prevention of Social Disabilities Act of 1957 making illegal caste discrimination and affording opportunities for low caste Tamils to obtain education – these are the very people who internationally whine over an eelaam for ONLY Tamils!
Nullifying the Tamil homeland myth further is archeological findings, Brahmi inscriptions, Buddhist sites, tanks in Wanni area buit by the Sinhala kings of ancient times which should all be declared national archeological sites and ban any construction over them.
Where our politicians have failed the country
§ How many of our politicians have been able to ask what exactly the grievances that Tamils exclusively suffer from denied to them legislatively and constitutionally.
§ How many have asked those who point fingers accusing Sri Lanka of ethnic discrimination, why over 50% of the Tamils in Sri Lanka are presently living and working amongst the Sinhalese.
§ When reconciliation has become an annoying yardstick how many of our politicians cared to quote why the West is giving up multiculturalism and giving immigrants ultimatums – “live like us or get out”! Why would that not apply to Tamils – if they want a Tamil Eelaam and they cant live amongst the Sinhalese in peace, they are more than welcome to obtain citizenship in India’s Tamil Nadu where an entire state comprises Tamils
§ Why is the Government and politicians not doing anything to stop racist parties when constitutionally the provisions are in place, why are they encouraging ethnic-based division by allowing ethnic-based laws like Thesavalamai and Shariah laws to increase and spread? Can they not argue that these are all impediments to reconciliation and integration?
§ Do our politicians not know that every public event, roads, signboards, public forms and documents all have Tamil for just over 12% of the total population…. Can they not have the guts to quote these examples to those accusing Sri Lanka?
§ Moreover why cannot our politicians ask why Tamils cannot learn Sinhala in a country that has more than 74% Sinhalese when they are learning French, German, Spanish etc?
§ How many politicians care to use the world Tamil population statistics to argue that with over 97% of world Tamils living in Tamil Nadu (a single state in India which started the Independent State struggle) that Tamil Eelaam for the 75m world Tamils should be in India not Sri Lanka!
§ Why have we not continuously and consistently reminded the world of all LTTE crimes against humanity – from kidnapping children making them into killers denying them the UN fundamental right to education, from giving a cyanide capsule and asking them to commit suicide which is a punishable crime, keeping civilians as human shields and the countless assassinations, bombings and suicide attacks that they have committed over 30 years!
§ Why do our politicians simply except the lies and gobbledygook statements from foreign envoys without matching every accusation with the facts that we have before us. What is the rationale in remaining silent and following the policy of appeasement because we have not benefited in any way and neither has the Government which is constantly the target of regime change. This is why we need to now be proactive, assertive and play our cards to win.
§ Why cannot our politicians say that whilst safeguarding the rights of citizens no one can change the fact that the Sinhalese population accounts for over 74% of the total population.
There are ground realities. Contrary to the hyped inference that the majority of Tamils live in the North – this lie can be statistically proven as over 50% of Sri Lanka’s Tamils live outside of the north and east of Sri Lanka – the Tamils that remain are predominately Tamil primarily because Sinhalese and Muslims were forcibly evicted from these areas – no Western nation or NGO shed too many tears over this unceremonious eviction though. Even if a census is taken of Tamil sentiment in the North it does not necessarily carry the census of ALL Tamils living throughout Sri Lanka. If Tamils inclusive of all TNA politicians are living amongst the Sinhalese – where exactly is the problem and does that not nullify need for ethnic based devolution and who says ethnic-based devolution can bring peace and reconciliation?
The bottom line is Sri Lanka and its people are not going to be fettered by Eelamist federal ideology and emotional blackmail. The argument is that the 13a contravenes the BASIC LAW of the country – it was enacted and enforced against the will of the people (even PM Premadasa, Lalith Athulathmudali and Gamini Jayasuriya vehemently opposed it). If the north and east was demerged then there is all possibility that the entire 13a should be thrown out of Sri Lankan soil. Moreover it is recognizing a mythical Tamil homeland one reason to merge the north and east province.
Political divisions does not give political powers to the people.
Three pacts have proven detrimental to Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. The 1958 Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact was signed in secrecy, the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of 1987 was signed with equal secrecy, the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement giving territory to the LTTE was signed without the concurrence of Sri Lanka’s President. In all these instances the leaders betrayed the people to sign pacts. They were given no sanction by the people and they have broken and lost the faith of the people. President Rajapakse cannot commit the same mistake. If he thinks he can escape calls of war crime charges by agreeing to the 13a not only would he face these eventual charges but he would lose every friend and advisor around him and most of all the public of Sri Lanka that continues to back him. If he revokes the 13a as voiced by the Defense Secretary he would be backed by the people of Sri Lanka as gratitude for reinstating the sovereignty, territorial integrity and unitary status of Sri Lanka.
Mr. President you cannot delay the decision to finally revoke the 13a any further. If you cannot decide allow the people to decide for you – as sovereignty lies in the hands of the people of Sri Lanka. The Indo-Lanka Accord broke the people’s fundamental rights and the people now need justice for the damage done since 1987. Mr. President remember at all times it is the Sinhala votes that brought you to power and it is these votes that will bring to power anyone else too.
No foreign force can overpower an entire country backing its President.
The views expressed are the author’s own.