It’s not unusual for a winning party to be euphoric. It’s equally true for the losing party in the conflict to be dispirited, and this is a common scene in Sri Lanka and across the metropolitan cities of Europe. After all, it’s the Tamil people, who are to be calm and prudent in contemplating the next move. A quieter but more profound move, that is to say, a vital and crucial part in shaping the political landscape of Sri Lanka and of its minorities, especially the Tamils.
After nearly 61 long years the question of equality among the citizens, diversity of the multi-ethnic societies and the basis for prosperity of the tiny island of Sri Lanka has reached the next level needing a careful solution.
One party in the conflict, the LTTE, had no plan “B” for their claim for a separate state, Tamil Ealam, logically a dystopian state. The other party, the GoSL, quickly learnt through its failure in the armed conflict and determined to wipe out the cry for freedom of the Tamils. Because the cry came in the form of a separate state from a military outfit, which lacked diplomacy and frequently even commonsense . The arms rich, but politically poor LTTE’s short sight of the geo-politics and contemporaneous world order paved the way to their perish of no return.
The immediate past of the LTTE unequivocally showed that they heavily relied on the GoSL’s mistakes and politics of India rather than their own military and/or diplomatic ability to reach their ultimate goal. Thus their SOS signal through the diaspora to the world seemed to be the wrong signal at the wrong time at the wrong place and importantly for the wrong reason and that made the world see a brutal horror film in reality. The distasteful or even painful end to the LTTE, the very fact, which the LTTE’s sympathisers around the world are adamant not to accept. But for the others it is an unavoidable or deserved end to the betrayers of the Tamils. For their unforgivable mistake they are no longer suitable for the title of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam. They are simply Tamil Tigers – TT). Not only did their dream land of Tamil Ealam die with them but also thousands of innocent lives were lost in vain.
So what is the next move for the rest of the Tamils? What has the GoSL to offer to its minorities, especially to Tamil citizens? And how would the international community interact? These are the remaining questions. Time and again it has been reiterated by the Sri Lankan presidents that the fight against the TTs is for lasting peace. Therefore it is obvious for the Tamils to expect peace since the TTs were defeated as GoSL claims, or at least TTs’ statement of silencing their guns through their international spokesperson. But peace is not a commodity to be given by one and taken by the other. It’s a process, which needs a collective effort by all parities, i.e. the President, the Parliament, the Singhalese, the Tamils, the Moors(religiously Muslims) and the international community.
If so, what is the role of the president in this process, one would ask. The answer is, it’s manifold and it can be prioritised in the following order. Re settling the IDPs as quickly as possible, disarming the gunners and underworld gangs, who are a possible threat to the innocent Tamils, Moors and Sinhalese, seeking a way of assessing and compensating the families who lost their bread winners or lost their limbs in the crossfire, putting forward a draft power sharing mechanism for the minorities, implementing a national curriculum which makes the Tamil language compulsory for the Sinhalese students and Sinhala language for the Tamil speaking students from year five and a year upward by every passing year up to A/Ls., creating a system of promotion for court staffs, including judges, police force and other vital government servants only on their tri or dual languages skills with working knowledge of the relevant area in order to make every government servant be able to serve in the language the recipients feel comfortable with.
The current Sri Lankan President is of course brave and strong among the equals of the past but certainly not a great President. If President J.R. Jeyawardene, the alleged perpetrator of the July ’83 pogrom against the Tamils across the island, was to be blamed for his political short sight and for the TTs’ growth then no doubt the President, Mahinda Rajapaksha, will get the credit for eliminating the threat of the TTs. But to be a great president the task is very much different from just winning the war. The great President must win the hearts and minds of the country collectively.
He may not be far away from manifestly proving his ability to restore peace in Sri Lanka by delivering what he pledged to the Tamils and other minority ethnics of Sri Lanka on 19th May 2009 on declaring the end of war in the Sri Lankan Parliament. If the President is serious about winning and retaining his office in the next presidential election then he should see clearly that it is very much hinged on his utterance and actions in the days to come. In the Tamils’ history, former President J.R. Jeyawardane notoriously holds a place. However President Mahinda Rajapaksa may remain as Sri Lanka’s Bismarck in history, if he attempts to amend the Executive Presidential set up of the constitution and takes all necessary measures to unite the country with fair and reasonable power sharing to the satisfaction of the minorities.
Similarly, the role of the Parliament is crucial to the tasks ahead. It cannot be a club of racially motivated people any longer. The place should reclaim its conventional duty of restoring democracy. The Parliament should give its two third majority to do necessary amendments to the constitution. It should help the President create an Indian style of Presidential Office with a guaranteed selection of all ethnics of Sri Lanka as presidents in rotation depending on the individual’s contribution to the country and his or her antecedents. Parties in the parliament should think of introducing a proportional representation voting system similar to the one which prevails in Northern Ireland to accommodate the ethnic minorities with their fair share.
The Singhalese are allowed to express their natural emotions, but they should not go beyond the limits. The world currently understands your joy, which is derived from the constant fear you had for the TTs. The eyes of the international community are fixed on Sri Lanka now. Any political party’s or community’s stupid behaviour will produce undesirable consequences. What the Sinhalese mass must understand is that the Tamils and other minorities are not their foes and without their true participation they cannot have the island paradise they want to see. The minorities will motivate themselves to participate only when they feel there is a point to their participation. Sinhalese have a big say in the days to come. Be prepared to reject the idea of Sinhalization of entire island. Do not go behind the politicians who promote the idea that Sri Lanka is only for the Sinhalese and others are its second class citizens or simply a migrated crowd who live under the discretion of the Sinhalese people. Listen to the Sinhalese leaders and intellectuals who carefully promote race relation and power sharing with the minorities to keep the country moving through the challenges of the era of globalisation.
We know for sure that the Tamils are divided into three, pro tigers, anti tigers and critics of both the government and tigers. It is also worth noting the innocently dangerous pro tiger diaspora, the main financiers and the propaganda machine at this juncture. This diaspora community, in my view, has blood on their hands. Because they never insisted that the TTs give up their arms when the TTs lost control over Kilinochi, the de facto capital of TT land, and took the people with them as human shields. They never put pressure on European governments or EU or UN to save the people who were caught up in the crossfire in the first place, but simply reflected what the TTs wanted. The leaderless, sort of makeshift Student Organization, British Tamil Forum, British Tamils Law and Advocacy Wing and Vanni Mission etc, all wanted the ban on TTs lifted and the international community to accept TTs as one and only representative of the Tamils first, then to declare the north and the east as the homeland of the Tamils with the right to self determination, then to put pressure only on Sri Lanka government and not on TTs to stop the war, then to give food and medicine to the IDPs. The easiest back door attempt to make a foundation for the dream of Tamil Ealam.
What the diaspora overlooked was that every time they asked the international community for help it was always too late. They have not acted on their own rather they waited for the orders from Vanni to be delivered through pro TTs media, such as GTV, Theepam and IBC as to their actions. The above media not only misled the pro tigers but also kept them in dark by their military analysis on the basis of monsoons and political one on the Tamil Nadu’s politics. They tried to portray the state of Tamil Nadu in India’s shoes, meaninglessly diminishing India’s ability to a minimal level and Tamil Nadu’s in a huge proportion.
It will be a great help for the Tamils back home if the diaspora community remain quiet or at least stop chanting the slogans “our leader Prabaharan” and “we want Tamil Ealam” for a while allowing the international community to engage themselves fully in the making of Sri Lanka for the sake of all citizens.
The pro tiger TNA has lost credibility since it did not discharge its duty at the time when the civilians lives were at risk. Their accounts and briefing to foreign countries and the diaspora about the terrible fighting and inside stories were utterly biased. They were afraid of their masters, the TTs. Therefore they have no legitimate claim to be the Tamils’ representatives anymore. The sooner they resign the better for the future of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
The anti tigers spend huge amounts of time analysing everything from the birth of the one time supremo of the TTs, to the mysterious final seconds of his death and the way the diaspora community dream about snatching Tamil Ealam from Sri Lanka. Educating the disapora about the non viability of Tamil Ealam and the possibility of a fair share option for the political survival of Tamils with the help of the international community is a required task for them, if they are prepared to positively contribute to rebuild the ruined Tamil society and their legitimate right for freedom and a fearless life.
On the other hand the critics of the GoSL and TTs have great potential to act as mediators between the Tamils, the GoSL and even the Sinhalese mass. There are many Sinhalese and Tamil organizations all over Europe and the rest of the western world. They can identify like minded people and work together as one voice for safeguarding minorities’ rights and betterment of all Sri Lankans with mutual respect and collective responsibility.
The next is the Moors, religiously Muslim, the scapegoats and unwanted stock for TTs. However, they should not distance themselves from the current politics because they wear caps and grow long beards or the women wear Hijab. They should not feel that the current political chaos has nothing to with them because of their past experience with the TTs. They should not think that Sri Lanka is somebody else’s country and they have no say on its bad and good times. It has been always their tradition and rights from the time of the Kings to be in their cabinet and holding a high position in politics and in making and shaping the Sri Lanka’s political life. For Moors to be a true example of their religious ideology is to reflect themselves in performing their duties towards their country and make sure they enjoy their unalienable rights with dignity.
It is true that the bitter experience they had at the hands of the TTs made them think differently. The so called Oluvil Declaration for “Muslim Thesam” initiated by the students of the South Eastern university was a by product of the TTs’ terrorism on Moors, the indigenous people of east, north and north west of Sri Lanka who lived in harmony with other ethnics for centuries.
The TTs’ rise and fall can be a case study for the defenders of the Muslim Thesam, the name and the concept of which do not reflect anything other than a tit for tat. Kill those dangerous, unwanted and non viable idea of separation from its bud and bury them. Having said that, however, it does not and cannot mean that they should willingly lose their political voice or their ethnic identity. They have a right to loudly say they are Moors like others say they are Tamils and Sinhalese and religiously Muslim like Hindus, Christians and Buddhists. They can also loudly say that together they are ready to rebuild our broken societies and country.
Most of the Tamils arguably think that the international community has done nothing or kept quiet at the time of need. The international community were in a task of a balancing exercise between what they were told by the Tamil diaspora about what has been happening and what has actually been happening according to their diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka. The second thing that the international community wanted was to stick to their own resolution of defeating an armed group, regardless of what name we call the military outfit by, if they possess anything other than conventional firing weapons like AK 47 and sorts, any armed organization with different fighting units such as infantry, naval, air force, even in the rudimentary level, and most importantly a suicide squad is great cause for concern. The TTs’ unnecessarily tremendous growth in this direction held back the international community from active engagement in solving the problem. As far as the international community is concerned the TTs are not the solution but part of the problem to the Tamils’ political aspiration. Therefore it put the Sri Lankan government as first preference in the political list.
And almost all of the TTs’ sympathizers believed that their protest in the streets of Europe made the governments of their respective countries look into matters, but this is not the case. Sri Lanka is not like a remote village in the Zing Zhang province of China. Sri Lanka has been on their check list for many reasons. The European Union, American administration and UN are well informed of the conflict which prevailed for more than a quarter of century in Sri Lanka, and their solemn resolute not to interfere until the war come to an end regardless of the way in which it ends, (I have mentioned this very fact in my previous article “politics within politic” in Tamil on 06th April 2009 in the Global Tamil News) made them sit back.
Therefore the international community’s positive interference in Sri Lanka now is imminent. If the Sri Lanka government does anything, which is suspicious or simply a dragging exercise in attending unsolved problems of ethnic question and their political aspiration then the international community may show their big stick and warn of the punishment awaiting.
In this day and age of globalization and countries’ interdependency on regional and international basis on each others, the GoSL may not attempt to waste its potentials to be a promising country in south east Asia and become one in the list of failed states. Let’s see whether the politics of Sri Lanka make someone ends up in the Hague on ICC trial or to Oslo for a noble prize.