By S. V. Kirubaharan
I read Lucien Rajakarunanayake’s article, “Why not a referendum on Kashmir-Eelam?” published in the Sri Lankan government media, the ‘Daily News’ last 28 April 2012. Even though it is late, I would like to write some brief comments about this article.
In the past I have sent a few comments, replies and queries regarding some articles appearing in the ‘Daily News’. But they were neither published nor did I receive a reply. Therefore, I don’t want to waste time anymore in sending comments to the ‘Daily News’.
It is well known that presently there are only a few independent media in Sri Lanka, and they are scared to publish anything against the government, especially against the Rajapaksa family.
Lucien Rajakarunanayake is not part of the Rajapaksa family, but he is one of the people who writes and defends the Rajapaksas. Therefore I am sending this to a few other media.
Firstly, let me briefly outline Rajakarunanayake’s point of view in “Why not a referendum on Kashmir-Eelam?” He expects Leaders and the people of Tamil Nadu to shut their mouth on anything concerning the Tamils in Sri Lanka and to limit their business to affairs concerning India, including Kashmir”. In other words, Rajakarunanayake says, “Charity begins at home”.
Does not then the same theory apply to Sri Lanka? If so, in March 2001 why was Sri Lanka so worried when the ruling Taliban destroyed those two giant Buddha statues in Afghanistan?
Buddhists in Sri Lanka marched through Colombo protesting against the demolition of these statues. Then Sri Lanka’s President Chandrika Kumaratunga wrote a protest letter on 05 March 2001 to the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, “……The Government of Sri Lanka stands ready and willing to do everything within its own capacity, and to join all international endeavours, to save from destruction these objects of particular reverence to Buddhists which, indeed, belong to the ancient heritage of all mankind.”
During the demolition of these Buddha statues in Afghanistan, did Rajakarunanayake say to Buddhists in Sri Lanka, that they should learn to respect other religions in Sri Lanka before they speak about Buddhist statues in Afghanistan? Or did he consider Buddhists’ strong sentiments and values regarding their religion as an exceptional case? Then why does he continue his full moon wolf howls about Leaders from Tamil Nadu suggesting anything concerning the Tamils in Sri Lanka?
Secondly, he says, “In any case, Kosovo or Montenegro, South Sudan or East Timor is not comparable to Sri Lanka”, why? Has he ever gone through each and every case and compared each of them to the situation of the Tamils, especially in the North and East in Sri Lanka?
Rajakarunanayake also says, “………..From the time of Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to this day India has rejected any attempt to genuinely resolve the Jammu Kashmir issue, by not creating the necessary conditions to hold the UN mandated plebiscite – the vote by which the people of a political unit determine autonomy or affiliation with another country.”
Well and good, if this is genuinely coming from Rajakarunanayake or from the Sri Lankan government, then they should have raised this matter in the UN long before Sri Lanka raised about the Palestinians.
This year on 1st October, Sri Lanka’s Minister of External Affairs referred in the UN General Assembly to “… the restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Sri Lanka fully supports the implementation of all relevant UN Resolutions on Palestine that would pave the way for the achievement of Statehood for the Palestinian people and bring lasting peace to the region.”
If Rajakarunanayake’s theory is to be accepted, would it not be correct for the Israelis to tell Sri Lanka to settle the Tamils’ political problem before they speak about the Palestinians?
Thirdly Rajakarunanayake refers to 38 sites of unmarked graves in North Kashmir and more than 10,000 missing persons in Kashmir. Concerning this matter, for anyone to take him seriously, it is worth asking, how many articles has he written so far about the mass graves or missing persons in Sri Lanka? These are just full moon wolf howls and ‘crocodile tears’.
Then why does he object to Leaders from Tamil Nadu suggesting anything concerning the Tamils in Sri Lanka?
Fourthly, he says that “Looking back at not so distant history, GlobalSecurity.org states: In 1952 the elected and overwhelmingly Muslim Constituent Assembly of Jammu and Kashmir, led by the popular Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah, voted in favour of confirming accession to India……..”.
Looking back at recent history, Rajakarunanayake won’t have forgotten that the people in the North and East overwhelmingly voted for their right to self-determination in the general election in 1977. On 8 August 1983, J. R. Jayewardene’s government enacted the 6th amendment to the constitution, rejecting the right to self-determination and outlawing the mandate voted by the Tamils. Rajakarunanayake should not quote and talk about only what is convenient for his argument to please his masters.
Fifthly, he says, “One cannot forget that the original call for Eelam, by the LTTE, and its political backers of the TNA had planned an Eelam that included the North and East, with little concern for the demographics of the East that would have made such a polity untenable from the outset. “
Being a veteran journalist, Rajakarunanayake should be ashamed to say that the ‘original call for Eelam (was) by the LTTE….’. It was earlier than that. I request him to read the recent history before he writes and speaks falsification.
Before he talks about demographics of the East, he should know the statistics of the Tamil and Sinhala populations in the East until 1981. For his information:
Tamil and Sinhala populations in Trincomalee District, Batticaloa District*
(Until 1963 it includes Amparai within Batticaloa district)
& Amparai District (created in 1963)
Why the delay in a solution to the Kashmiri issue, is a burning matter of concern to Rajakarunanayake and Sri Lanka, is astonishing! He wouldn’t have forgotten that his masters maintained a position that “until terrorism is wiped out there cannot be any political solution to the Tamil ethnic issue”. It is obvious that India is also taking the same position regarding Kashmir. I am sure; he and his masters will consider this a fair point.
For Rajakarunanayake’s information, I am in favour of the right to self-determination – including for Kashmiris and Palestinians. These issues have to be settled at the earliest in a peaceful manner.
In the Daily News, 18 April 2009, Rajakarunanayake says, “The longer the war, especially when the victory is obvious, the more civilian casualties. Hence a military solution is, in some circumstances, the best way to save civilian lives. In general, pacifism disguised as “human rights” or not, always leads to more death, especially in remote, third world, small countries vulnerable to the influence of AI or HRW. Ending a war-by force if need be-protects more civilians than prolonging it under any pretexts.” (Excerpts
For those versed in international human rights law, this is a shocking view.
Last but not least, Rajakarunanayake says, “Karunanidhi can … take Sri Lanka’s Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksas advice and seek to have his unrealized dream of Eelam established in Tamil Nadu in India …”.
It is not a surprise that ex-military personnel Gotabaya who has no knowledge of politics and is responsible for thousands of abductions, killings, torture, rape, etc says this to Karunannidhi or to any Leader in Tamil Nadu. What is surprising, is that it was unquestioningly quoted by a veteran journalist.
Eelam is a name of a ‘territory’ in Sri Lanka, which includes the North and Eastern part of the island. Eelam could be or may be provincial/autonomous or an independent state within the island. Asking a Tamil Nadu Leader to create it in India is purely a fanciful remark, based on emotions.
Rajakarunanayake says he is in support of meaningful devolution of power in Sri Lanka, but at the same time he says uncritically, “government today is a coalition that is comprised largely of political parties that were totally opposed to both the India-Sri Lanka Accord and the 13th amendment. The opposition to it at the time was led by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), which is the largest constituent of the present coalition.”
In conclusion, I will say, by talking and writing in the same manner as Rajakarunanayake, all Sinhala Buddhist governments have managed for 65 years to achieve their goal with maximum success. If they can manage in the same manner for another 10 years, there won’t be any more ethnic issue in Sri Lanka.
This is the reason the people, leaders in Tamil Nadu and India who have strong linguistic, cultural, religious, social and economic connections in Sri Lanka are looking in a pragmatic way to sort out the ethnic problem meaningfully and at the earliest.
The people and the government of India co-operated well with Sri Lanka in bringing the war to an end. Now there is nothing wrong in them finding all available mechanisms to find a peaceful solution where all can live in peace and harmony in Sri Lanka.
The views expressed are the author’s own.