Non-interference and its unhappy consequences
It’s not over until it’s over—and there is some fight left in the LTTE yet—but judging from available news reports, it is clear that the Tamil Tigers are cornered in Kilinochchi and a few other towns. The ripples of the situation have crossed the Palk Strait and have already rocked politics in Tamil Nadu state. There is a risk that they will rock the UPA government in New Delhi.
It has come to this pass because the UPA government’s policy paralysis on Sri Lanka. As the The Acorn had warned at that time, the critical moment was in December 2005. Failure to rein in the combatants at that time led to the inevitable war and bloodshed. Failure to coerce the Tamil Tiger leadership to give up its maximalist aims caused it to break the ceasefire. Failure to intervene pushed the Sri Lankan government into the arms of Pakistan, China and Iran for military support. India was too timid to support or oppose any one side. As a result it not only finds itself as little more than a bystander, grasping for ways it could avoid the consequences of the Sri Lankan civil war from destabilising Tamil Nadu, and indeed, New Delhi.
Let’s be clear about one thing: that the Tamil Tigers (not to mention the Sri Lankan Tamils) find themselves in this situation is due to the fault of their leadership. Velupillai Prabhakaran did not take advantage of the international mediation to transform the rather successful insurgency into a political process towards autonomy within a federal setup, at least as a first step. The LTTE’s sympathisers might argue that it was the Sri Lankan government that upped the ante: even so, Mr Prabhakaran’s failure to reject violence and keep the international peace brokers on his side allowed President Rajapakse to prosecute the war. In the event, rather successfully. And for all the drama in Chennai, the cornered LTTE leadership is yet to directly call for a ceasefire.
Now, as T S Gopi Rethinaraj has argued in the April 2008 issue of Pragati, as also in a recent op-ed in Hindustan Times, the prospect of a military victory for the Sri Lankan government can have negative consequences for India’s geopolitical interests. It is conceivable that a jubilant Sri Lankan government will swing over to its Chinese and Pakistani patrons. It will also not have any reason to deliver on its promises of equal treatment of its Tamil minorities. By this token, the survival of the Tamil Tigers is India’s insurance policy against this eventuality.
In fact, had the Indian government understood the realist logic underpinning Dr Gopi Rethinaraj’s arguments, it would have played a stronger role to freeze the balance of power in Sri Lanka in 2004-2005 and transform it into a political settlement. It didn’t. So it finds itself in an exceedingly satisfactory position now. It can’t close its eyes to the new reality on the ground—one of the Sri Lankan government achieving a victory on its own terms. But it also cannot ignore the reality that the war-ravaged Tamil minority will have to live under the victor’s rules. Despite their promises, it is by no means clear that the Rajapakse government will pursue an enlightened policy towards the Tamils and move towards healing the decades old ethnic conflict that underlies the civil war.
Whether the LTTE is practically wiped out in the coming weeks or manages to turn the tide of the war in its favour, India must set aside its policy of non-intervention into one of engagement. On the one hand, it must try to cobble up a Sri Lankan Tamil political formation that can play the part that the LTTE didn’t. And on the other, it must deepen its engagement with the Sri Lankan government in all spheres, to ensure that it can guarantee that Colombo keeps its word. It’s not going to be easy: there are few Sri Lankan Tamil leaders of the required stature, and elements within the Rajapakse government might well say “no, thank you”. But what alternatives does India have?
24 thoughts on “Cornered Tigers and after”
The tigers appear to be cornered but still Killinochi is not their last outpost. Fighting seems to be going on in more areas. With the rainy season ahead and a dense forest, the Srilankan army may not have a smooth run. In this situation they have started bombing civilian areas massively to demoralize the tigers. As you rightly said, with our policy of non-engagement we are destroying the leverage we have in Srilanka. The Chinese are already in, building ports and roads.
Apart from this, the present situation in Tamilnadu has the capacity to bring a dramatic change in the structure of alliances for the next elections. Unless the fighting stops, Karunanidhi may carry out his threat. He has demonstrated that he is a master politician by hijacking the issue in his favour, although one cannot say that he has no interest in saving the lives of Srilankan Tamils. If the center does not act decisively and force a ceasefire, Congress need not take the pain of campaigning for the next elections, we can consider it has already lost it. No political party in TN will be interested in having an alliance with the congress. They have already sensed that the going will be tough for Congress due to price rise. There is a fair chance that the PMK and communists may join alliance with him based on the issue. The issue that very much acts against the Congress is the active military support provided by India to Srilanka despite assurances to the contrary. The chances for the third front are brightening, unless the BJP raises its voice on the issue and provides some kind of assurance that it will take up the Srilankan tamil cause if it comes to power.
Here are links to articles that provide a historical perspective on the issue.
‘But what alternatives does India have?’
– Have a strategic alliance ith ‘acceptable’ LTTE second rung leader thru the ‘symphatizer’ & strike a deal-
-eliminate Pribhakaran,(no ‘foreign power’ kills a ‘PM’ or equivalent Indian & can be left scot free to breathe on this planet,the message must be loud & clear),then, India will mediate & declare a ceasefire, and in the first phase initiate a dialogue for ‘autonomy’,preferably not involving directly, .. & work for maximum lankan Tamil interest..
While sharing this blog’s usually terrific perspectives, I’m a bit puzzled by this post
LTTE — not just Pirbhakaran — is a terrorist organization. If India’s leverage in Sri Lanka is indeed reduced to reliance on a bunch of terrorists, then we’ve long lost the game
India’s past engagement with Sri Lanka has reflected “realist” attitudes and, unfortunately, has led to the present situation. We need to replace the realist murkiness in our relationship with ideological clarity
This means we do not sympathize with or support LTTE (even indirectly) and do not see it (or its potential terrorist successors) as influence chips of any kind
We believe in the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka
We are concerned about the plight of civilians (both Sinhalese and Tamil) caught up in this awful civil war. Our hearts go out to the victims of vicious suicide bombings in Colombo just as much as it does to terrified civilians in Jaffna. Our concern does not discriminate based on ethnicity of victims
As victims of hideous terrorism ourselves, we do not entertain any discussion from any quarters about justifiable root causes for terrorism
We are committed to assertively promoting India’s model of multi-ethnic democracy in our strategic neighborhood (which includes Sri Lanka) using economic, diplomatic, cultural, and civic engagement
Finally, when we publicly worry about Pakistan (which itself is imploding) or China (whose export-heavy economy is dropping like a stone) somehow overturning India’s geographical proximity and historical influence in Sri Lanka, we come across as being very short on national self-confidence
The world is changing before our very eyes. There are much bigger questions to contend with than whether Pakistan sold some guns to Colombo. The financial crisis will likely rewrite the (depression and second world war era) global pecking order. Training day is over — this is show time and if India wishes to be a superpower, we need to get over our paranoia and the baggage of strategic mistakes in our past to get busy shaping the future
India needs to break free right now from our sad legacy of defensiveness and stride forward with a self-assurance that we can stand among the global giants based on not just how much we have in our bank account and arsenal but who we are as a people
We are proud of who we are and we will win or lose on that basis. Not standing with terrorists like LTTE is a core part of this identity
Tamil kids bombed by SLAF . You decide who is the terrorist.
While agreeing with the merits in the post by “Primary Red,” it glosses over the sophisticated form of ethnic cleansing in SL. I agree with the contention that India’s succeess wil largely depend on articulating a coherent national mission that most could associate with and develop a sense of urgency to do it.
The problem in SL is not merely about having influence in our frontiers, but the much deeper question of how the ethnic conflict will shape public opinion in TN. There’s a growing public opinion in TN that the Sinhalese are trying to run roughshod over Tamils and that the central government is facilitating that by providing arms and also partly underwriting the costs of war conducted by SL.
This can have harmful future repurcussions in TN. While LTTE has huge baggage because of its past and current policy, military defeat of LTTE will limit the extent to which India can apply pressure on SL to secure a honorable settlement for Tamils in a post-LTTE scenario. LTTE’s defeat can also result in the psychological subjugation of Sri Lankan Tamils. Fonseka’s recent statement that the minorities will have to learn that SL is a Sinhala land confirms that the war is not really about defeating LTTE, but part of the larger Sinhalese strategy to Sinhalicize the entire island (as seen in recent demographic engineering that was facilitated by exodus of Tamils) and thrust a solution on the remaining ethnic minority a solution which essentially renders non-Sinhalese as second class citizens.
The English media outlets (TN’s vernacular press is more in tune with public opinion) and commentators like “Primary Red” overlook these issues and seem to be fixated on LTTE. The center’s response will likely create a fertile ground for revival of anti-brahminism in TN, since a perception exists in TN that the TN Brahmin-Malayali axis with its bias against Tamil-centered state politics is wielding undue influence in shaping govt policy. The more the central government is seen as a mute spectator, it can potentially revive provincialism bordering on secession that TN witnessed during the 1960s over perceived Hindi domination. India’s current clumsy handling of the crisis happening next door is not going to win over the Sinhalese or Tamils in SL and also sow seeds of separatism in TN.
There will be spillover effects within India since lower-riparian TN is embroiled in river disputes with all its neighboring states. Center’s ineffectiveness in implementing the court orders and tribunal verdicts will be projected by some fringe elements as an extension of the larger Aryan strategy to eliminate the Tamil race from the Indian subcontinent. While I dont subscribe to the politics that centers on addressing historical grievances (eg. Aryan invasion of Dravidian lands and culture), river disputes have the potential to harvest souls for separatist campaigns. Which is why we cannot afford to remain immune to the ethnic conflict in SL. And comparing SL govt camapign with India’s counter insurgency operations in Kashmir and Northeast is not only inaccurate but grossly unfair given that Indian governments have been extremely sensitive to domestic and world opinion. Contrast this with SL which has forced out most of international organizations, reporters and others from which we could get an independent assessment of the situation. Newspapers like Hindu have now become mouthpiece for the Sinhalese, which is not suprising because they are already functioning as one of the biggest PR agencies for the repressive Chinese regime.
Let there be no doubt about this that the SL govt is purposefully targetting civilian areas to demoralize the LTTE, and so it is equally culpable as the LTTE in putting civilians through immense hardship. If the SL govt can routinely kill Indian fishermen with impuntiy, then just imagine the plight of the minorities in SL who are fighting against the state-led racial discrimination. If we want to bring clarity to the conflict India has to just treat the SL govt as a rogue state and intervene as it did in 1971 in East Pakistan.
//But what alternatives does India have?//
Going back to the 1987 agreement, perhaps?
We could avoid LTTE and IPKF this time. For a good time to come the LTTE will cease to be a force that can give SLA a serious setback like how it did at the famed Elephant pass attack many years ago.
We can benefit from a stable Sri Lanka. There are factions inside Sri Lanka that favor a devolution of powers, reunifying provinces etc.
‘India has to just treat the SL govt as a rogue state and intervene as it did in 1971 in East Pakistan.’ – Perfect solution.
–The sri Lankan’s had double-crossed India & they must be paid back, the death of our thousands of IPKF soldiers await justice,period.
—-and for all the paradoxical comments by ‘primary red’ so called ‘ideological clarity’ whatever it means- could be of more assistance by supporting & believing in the Territorial Integrity of India & let other worry of theirs own.. none of our headache.
Some people who support Srilanka’s actions say that they believe in the territorial integrity of Srilanka. Why should we Indians worry about the territorial integrity of Srilanka? It is puzzling to see Indians batting for countries like Srilanka and China. India lost its leverage in China by saying that Tibet is an inalienable part of China. It is disgusting to see India being afraid to upset countries like Srilanka when they play the China card.
As far as secessionist movements in TN are concerned, the dravidian parties had a secessionist tilt in the 60s due to the imposition of Hindi, but during 1962 war with China,their leaders like Annadurai realized that there is greater danger if India is fragmented, and called for unity. When they came to power in the late 60s they had completely joined the national mainstream. I would like to emphasize the fact that no matter what happens in Srilanka or around the world, there is very less probability of secessionist movements gaining ground in TN. This is because the Tamils are very proud of the achievements of Tamil leaders during the freedom struggle. No other poet in India may have been quoted so much in popular media like movies as Subramanya Bharathi.
But this does not mean that the concerns of Tamils can be ignored. The current political situation is very different from the situation in 1970s or 80s when a single party had majority in the parliament. These are the days of coalition politics, and the parties of Tamilnadu and Pondicherry with 40 loksabha seats have the strength to determine who rules at center.
Also, no party in TN will be able to ignore the Srilankan Tamil issue because there is another dimension added to it – the killing of Indian Tamil fishermen by the Srilankan navy. When we make a huge noise about Pakistani shelling of border villages, there is hardly any news featuring in the national media about the firing on Indian fishermen by the Srilankan navy. The Indian navy says that Indian fishermen should avoid Srilankan waters. But we cannot ignore the fact that the Srilankan navy treats Indian fishermen like enemies and fires on them, beats them up and destroys their fishing nets. The claim that they mistook the fishermen for the LTTE cuts no ice since the Indian fishermen fish in groups of hundred boats, and the Srilankans do not just fire on them, but they beat them up and destroy their nets too. All this when India is actively helping Srilanka with military equipment, intelligence, training and technical personnel.
Tamils who sent navies to South East Asia even before 1000 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chola) and spread India’s influence all over the east, today have their hands tied by a spineless central govt that lacks strategic vision.
It seems the all party meet at Chennai originally proposed all TN MPs to quit immediately. When K V Thangabalu, the TN Congress chief asked how the Tamil problem will be solved if the central govt falls immediately, they decided to give two weeks time to act. TN parties were putting pressure on Center for quite some time to intervene and impose a ceasefire. The central govt also sent delegations staging a show of requesting the Srilankan govt to stop the war. But when it was revealed that two Indian radar technicians were injured in an LTTE attack on a Srilankan base, it shocked the parties. Hence the decision to quit.
In an interview with the ‘Asian Tribune’, Subramanian Swamy said: “You must understand that there is an Indian establishment that will not allow any Indian government to alter the basics. So appealing to the new Prime Minister of India or sending delegation of MPs is just a waste of time.”
Going by his statement, if it is true that the establishment prevents ‘any’ Indian govt from altering the basics, the question that arises is – Is India a true democracy or a quasi democracy run by bureaucrats?
Response to T S Gopi Rethinaraj:
Thanks very much for your thoughtful post
Could I ask you a simple question? How is the perspective you’ve outlined different from a subtle variant of the “one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter” argument. That’s an argument India has long rejected for sensible national security reasons
By shackling the legitimate aspirations of any people with the fate of terrorist groups fighting in their name, the former are unfortunately delegitimized
One cannot possibly condemn terrorist actions of a group while simultaneously arguing that its survival is essential to negotiate an “honorable peace”. That’s almost too clever by half and, frankly, no longer generates any enthusiasm other than among exploiters with vested interests
Certainly India should aggressively discourage bigotry in Sri Lanka. In order to do this effectively, however, we need that nation’s Tamil population to make a clean and unambiguous break with LTTE
Is this hard? Of course it is. But that’s what statesmanship is all about. Clutching to false hopes anchored on losers who send children to war and blow up innocent human beings is not a winning strategy but a lost cause
Why should India become party to a war that’s already been lost?
what is in question is not the LTTE but the state sponsored genocide of the Tamil populace in sri lanka, does it mean that India should passively sit & watch the Tamil civilian massacre & do nothing? If this is the approach then may the impotent Indian state dissolve sooner than later..
India must become an active player in the war & insure Tamil victory… all is not yet lost.
I am curious why Tamils in Sri Lanks are special (beyond the geopolitical implication of the situation). So for example, when Hindu temples were decimated in barely Muslim-majority Malaysia, Pranab Mukherjee had nothing to say (at least publicly, we are told). One can think of similar examples from Europe to Gulf to Fiji.
Exactly, but the orrisa ultra superimposition is a wakeup call…
Chased from place to place by Sinhalese army, and in the end the Sinhalese airforce took their little souls away.
Go preach peace to somebody else. These people deserve to have their own homeland , where their life and dreams are guaranteed,if not peacefully then by whatever means.
The problem in Malaysia is similar in some extent to the problem in Srilanka. The Srilankan problem started as a problem between majority Sinhalese Buddhists and minority Tamil Hindus. In Srilanka while all Hindus are Tamils, there are some Tamil Christians and they are also persecuted by the Sinhalese. The Muslims of Srilanka, though their mother tongue is Tamil don’t consider themselves as Tamils. This may be surprising, but even in India this was the case before independence. Before independence muslims in India were called variously as Turks, muslims, mohammedans, etc but as the independence movement gathered momentum the difference vanished.
Apart from the Srilankan Tamils there are Indian Tamils too, who went there as labour during the British rule. After Srilankan independence, under an agreement between India and Srilanka half of the Indian Tamils were repatriated back to India. The Srilankan Tamils who went there even before the Sinhalese were not covered under the agreement because they were the original inhabitants of the island.
Even though Tamils did conquer Malaysia in ancient times, they did not migrate there in substantial numbers. However they exported the Hindu religion and culture to all South East Asian countries including Malaysia. Malaysia was a Hindu kingdom till 15th Century ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaysia ). Then Hinduism was wiped out after the arrival of Islam. The present Malaysian Hindus agitating against the Malaysian government are Tamils who went there during the British rule as labour. They call their organization as Hindu Rights Action Force because they have rightly understood that if they call themselves as Tamils they will be bracketed with the LTTE and will not receive any support from non-Tamil Hindus in India. You must bear in mind that even though Pranab Mukherjee had nothing to say about this issue, Karunanidhi (who is atheist) gave his voice in support of the Hindraaf (because though they call themselves as Hindraaf they are actually Tamils and a small proportion of non-tamils).
When even people like Karunanidhi, support the Tamils of Srilanka and Malaysia even though they are Hindus, the rest of India asks why we should support Tamils in other countries. Historically Tamil Kingdoms have sent navies throughout South East Asia whenever there was a threat to Tamil interests. But in present day India when Tamils in Srilanka are massacred, even Hindus of non-Tamil regions ask why we should support Tamils who live in another country, forgetting the fact that they are essentially Hindus. However other countries like Japan though they call themselves as secular, help Srilanka because it is Buddhist. Till now Japan was the greatest donor to Srilanka but now China is the greatest donor, as China builds ports and infrastructure in Srilanka in line with its policy of encircling India.
People who talk in length about the persecution of Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh don’t even think for a second about the persecution of Hindus in Srilanka. Now we understand that like pseudo-secularism there is a brand of pseudo-Hindutva too.
My own argument, and I suspect Dr Gopi Rethinaraj’s as well, is to do with sequencing.
How do we know that a post-victory Sri Lankan government will not offer itself to China, much like India’s other neighbours? How can we make sure it wont? Is supporting the immediate liquidation of the LTTE worth the risks of Sri Lanka becoming a base for China & Pakistan in the South of India?
Shaan, I am not sure I agree with you last point. Hindu right, the apparent non-Tamil kind, did take up the case for Malaysian Tamils – for example, Advani spoke up when Congress I was mumbling inaudibly – and have always supported the rights of Tamils in Sri Lanka. LTTE, which killed a former PM, is big clog when it comes to Tamils in Sri Lanka. Any support of Tamils invariably becomes support to LTTE. Hence one is careful. If Prabhakaran is removed from the scene, I suspect, things will change for the better for everyone. It’s anyone’s guess when or even if it’ll happen anytime soon.
And the alternative now is different?
Any Indian approach towards Srilanka should be pragmatic and include a holistic view of the present problem ( http://www.rediff.com/news/2000/may/22lanka.htm ). While Prabhakaran is declared an accused in India, he is considered like Netaji in Srilankan north. You have to keep in mind, Netaji is stilled a declared war criminal in Britain and allied countries. If he is still alive, there is a legal case for Britain to ask for his extradition.
LTTE rules Tamil Eelam – its borders expanding and shrinking from time to time. The LTTE had a proper form of government with all administrative functions including even traffic police. Till now Srilanka has not been able to project its force outside Srilanka due to the existence of a de-facto enemy nation within its territory. When the tigers are finished and Tamils massacred to a great extent, they will surely project their force towards India because this has happened time and again in history.
We should not mistake the potential threat to India from Srilanka. They have a historical aversion towards India due to the fact that Buddhism has vanished from India. We do not have any leverage as the birthplace of Buddhism because they have effectively delinked India from their Buddhist beliefs by creating myths like the transfer of the Bodhi tree to Srilanka. They consider themselves as the Mecca of Buddhism, and the Buddhist monks have had a very important role in politics from the time of King Mahinda to the time of Mahinda Rajapakse. They have created a European modernist type of society which emphasizes the role of Sinhalese Buddhism. After the Saivite Hindu Tamils are made to accept the preeminence of Sinhalese Buddhism, they will project their brand of Buddhism towards the nations of South East Asia, effectively curtailing India’s attempt to increase its influence there. Also they will keep India in check with Chinese nuclear umbrella. This may all sound like conspiracy theory to you, but it is in this direction that they have been moving since independence.
Any solution to Srilanka with India’s interests in mind must ensure that Srilanka remains a real secular nation with the role of Buddhist monks in government removed. But this is not possible in the near future given the importance to them in Sinhalese society. So the ideal solution would be a Tamil Eelam nation much like Taiwan.
Most opponents to Tamil Eelam say that a seperate Eelam run by Tamils would give rise to demands for Tamilnadu’s separation from India and integration with Eelam. I have a question for them. Did the creation of Bangladesh on the basis of language give rise to demands for West Bengal’s separation from India and integration with Bangladesh? Even though the Tamils on both sides of the Palk Straits speak the same language they have different perceptions in terms of identity. Indian Tamils consider themselves as the children of Tamilnadu while Eelam Tamils consider themselves as children of Eelam. Nevertheless they don’t forget that Tamilnadu is the land of their ancestors on which they can depend in times of crises.
India’s approach must recognize the fact that the tigers are the only military defence of Srilankan Tamils. While Prabhakaran may be an accused, we should consider the fact that he does not control the LTTE on his own. He depends extensively on a second line of leaders. Even during the press conference he gave a few years back, he was seen discussing with Anton Balasingham to answer most of the tricky questions.
If Tamil Eelam becomes a poweful entity like Taiwan, being able to defend itself to some extent, India would have an ally in Tamil Eelam much like Britain that has allies in the English speaking world. India must support Eelam like the US that supports Taiwan.
When people say the LTTE is evil because it killed Rajiv Gandhi, they forget the killing of Mahatma Gandhi by Nathuram Godse. Even though it is said the RSS was not directly involved in the killing of Mahatma, we cannot refute the fact that Godse was influenced by RSS ideologies. The RSS was banned but the ban was lifted after certain time. And in spite of their ideologies, we find that certain right wing organizations are indispensable to the cause of a powerful India.
It would be interesting to see the (if any) role of Pak Army advisers in this.
If any of you have been following the LTTE tactics for the whole duration of the civil war you will have noted that when the tigers defend, they defend. When the offend, they offend. Since the break of the ceasefire the LTTE have yet to be on the offence. The LTTE has regained months of SLA advancement in the past, in a few days. When they do decide offend the 30000 SLA in Jaffna are in big trouble. India cant save them again like they did 1997.
How long has it been that the government has been saying next month the LTTE will cease to be reckonable force? You can fall for the governments lies, they are not going anywhere.
You can call them terrorists or guerillas, what ever you want. They aren’t fighting out of the hatred of the government or the Singhalese. Its out of the love for their land and their people. You know how one knows… every fallen Tiger gets their own grave. If you think the Sri Lankan Military forces get this you are gravely mistaken.
I know ill get a lot of criticism, but hey, im just shooting out my opinion. And trust me, the ridiculous comments and facts you shoot back at me will not hurt me.
The war has been going on for 20+ years. The Sri Lankan government and military should be ashamed, they are ten times the size in infantry and resources. Not to mention the support of neighboring countries. Just imagine if it was a fair fight.
Except for the comments of ‘primary red’ and a few others the comments on T S Rethinaraj’ ‘Don’t abandon the Tigers’ a very refreshing piece. Years of media propaganda parleying street level myths in India/TN about the Tamil cause explains the mindset of most commentators. A most common myth is ‘there have been many occasion in the SL history where peace could be “purchased” by the Tamils but they preferred them for a genocide’.
Here the guilt is on the Tamils as a community. The ironic twist is that it accuses the victims of the genocide for bringing the genocide upon them. The word ‘preferred’ implies that Tamils had a choice between genocide and real peace and strangely the Tamils preferred genocide. The Buddhist-Sinhala hawks also sell to the unwary similar iconic stories blaming the Tamils for engineering the 1983 pogrom on the Tamils themselves. The queer logic is that the TULF’s agitation for a federal form of government inflamed the passions of the Buddhist-Sinhalas who for reasons unknown equated federalism with separatism. The message is that the Tamils seek ‘peace’ but refrain from seeking remedies that would inflame the majority Buddhist-Sinhalas. General Fonseka delivered a similar message to the minorities not long ago. Democracy SL style!
In the pre-1983 period the Tamil leadership did indeed ‘purchase’ peace with the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership signing numerous peace pacts. These were torn up by the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership before the ink in the signatures on the pacts was dry. There were a series of them.
Pakistan was born as the Indian leadership sensitive on the Muslim identity delivered Pakistan its statehood. India did not assume that its ‘democratic majority’ was a license to take the genocide road to marginalize or annihilate minorities to avoid the partition of India. Indian nationalism unlike Buddhist-Sinhala nationalism was free from traces of the tribal traits embedded in Sri Lankan culture. The next myth is that the Tamils Tamils chose the ‘military option’. The armed resistance was to protect the Tamils from indiscriminate attacks by mobs and the armed forces daily anywhere and everywhere in SL. It was the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership that chose a ‘military option’ as early as 1963. This may be gleamed from excerpts of Neville Jayaweera’s (Head of the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation) memoirs referred to in an article ‘SUBVERSE: Change course in Sri Lanka’ in Times of India 23 October 2008. This gives a glimpse of the programme to build a chain of military bases in the North to contain a future Tami revolt. This was long before the armed resistance or LTTE was born. Yet most comments were directed at the armed resiantance specifically the LTTE.
Comments refer to Tamils not accepting Rajiv’s 1987 Indo-SL accord and the Thirteenth amendment. This autonomy provisions in the accord were without substance in the first instance more so for Tamilians fearing for their lives . That for over twenty years the accord and the accompanying amendments remained dead letters despite India, shows how an unreliable a peace partner the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership is. Yet commentators fail to fault the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership. Congress-Delhi’s attempts to breathe life into that accord failed miserably and is doomed, given the notorious track record of the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership dishonouring the peace pacts it signs time and Sinhala leadership dishonouring the peace pacts it signs time and again. Yet comments that fail to blame SL’s bad faith squarely blames the Tamil leadership for the non implementation of the 1987 accord.
The foresight and incorruptible Tamil leadership turned their backs on the accord for valid reasons; the accord or for that matter any peace deals with the SL leadership would not guarantee their survival as a community.
Commentators are uncomfortable as the SL genociders are, with the Tamils ‘cry(ing) hoarse “genocide of Tamils”’. Amongst others the genocide involved over 300000 Tamil civilians killed by the SL armed forces, over a million driven out of the country by Buddhist-Sinhala mobs and armed forces, another million disenfranchised by revoking their citizenship, the balance over a million displaced by a scotched earth oppression and driven out of their homes in the North to live as refugees in the South and elsewhere and still subjected to human rights abuses. Above all the Tamils’ political representation that was at 24 per cent at the time of independence by 2004 dropped to 10 per cent; a success story of the Buddhist-Sinhala genocide. Aren’t these injustices grave enough for the Tamils to protest about, even that if this sounds ‘hoarse’ to some. To the millions of Tamilians in TN amongst the protest struck the right chord.
‘The ..Sinhala race has just done what in such situation any democratic majority could have reacted to safeguard its hard fought battle of nationalism’. A learned analyst’s reply is worth quoting here. This comment seems to endorse fully SL’s action. Advocacy of notions of a ‘democratic majority’ and ‘nationalism’ in the crudest (or street level) sense is unbecoming of fellow human beings to the sufferings of the victims of a genocide. That a ‘majority’ safeguarding its nationalism by marginalizing minorities and using a genocide for that purpose is unlikely to find advocacy in civil societies. In India’s case India with “democratic majority’ too could have “reacted’ worse than the Sinhalese’. That the views in the comments could emanate from Indians and Tamilians is unthinkable in an India with its strong moral and spiritual underpinnings that holds the motley minorities together living peacefully without having to resort to genocide to keep the Union intact. Indian and Tamilians are encouraged to go back to its cultural roots and be guided by spirituality and not encourage evil by words or action.
V S Subramaniam
LTTE terrorists/tamil terrorists/sympathisers
I have a few questions for you.
1) Is it not a fact that educated tamils particularly vellalas were the greatest supporters of britain in india and ceylon?
2)Is it not a fact that they did not give a damn for democracy in both the countries
3)They exhibited servility in both countries in exchange for british largesse
4)They were avid supporters of english education and did not take any interest in education in tamil medium.
5)In ceylon they were way ahead of sinhalas and supported open competition for education and jobs.They cared little for the govigame the dominant sinhala peasant caste or their culture but were the elite favoured by the british.The British pampered this minority.
6)In TN,they were the majority and supported quotas.Which they continue to do even today.Here again the tamil leadership cared little for the masses but supported british rule.
7) In SL they talked of respect for minorities.In TN,they promoted hatred and enimity against brahmanas and vedic religion.I am not for a minute denying the uniqueness of tamil language or the need for reform in hinduism but how do you justify the crude hatred promoted by the dravidian movement?
8)What is the record of tamils regarding treatment of dalits in both TN and Jaffna?
9)The tamil elite were lackeys of british in the Ulsoor(halasuru) and Bangalore Cantonment.LTTE terrorists and veerappan type chauvinists find refuge in bengaluru.Do you expect kannadigas to love them.
10) You think that British have given you eternal rights on the Periyar river originating in Kerala which has been DIVERTED to TN.
11)Siruvani,Bhavani,Amaravathi all originate in the western ghats in kerala.The Parambikulam project is IN KERALA and supplies water to udumlapet.By God,the sense of entitlement you guys have!
12) At the time of independence,badugas were a majority in Nilgiris.TN cleverly retained ooty.
13) What is your record of treating badugas in education ,representation and jobs.They have been reduced to a minority there.What is your record of treating telugus and kannadigas in hosur.You call hosur as osur.
Hogenakal is ogenaKKal.(ik in tamil).
14)The later cholas (i am making a clear distinction with ancient cholas like karikala) were one of the seamiest dynasties in indian history.They were singularly repellant for using rape as a part of war strategy. Perhaps something to do with the fact that many tamil saivite saints idolised Ravana.Yet a tanjore brahmin like kalki had no compunction in claiming that chalukyas perpetrated rape on tamils.Such hatred was churned out during the early years of independence.Brahmins like kamal Haasan and Sujatha have sought such cheap popularity with tamil masses.
15) The later cholas were filled with hatred.79 kms from madras is the town of madurantakam( madura + antakan(m)),important in ramanuja sampradayam.The town commemorates the desrtuction of madurai by Parantaka I.It makes me sick.The cholas prided themselves in the destruction of korkai,the ancient pandyan port.
16) It is this tradition that karu,TR Baalu,Vaasan are continuing.Why does karu love Silapathikaram because kannagi the chola pathni-pathivrata burned madurai for the unpardanoble lapse by the pandyan king.
17) I celebrate the glory of tamil literary tradition but do not forget that kannada and malayalam are also dravidian languages .Kannada ,tulu and kodava language have also emerged from a common SPOKEN proto dravidian language .
18) I can only pray to Iswara that he give Prerana and good thoughts to tamil fanatics and also to the speakers of other dravidian languages so that we can share the fruits of civilised co-existence in Bharata Varsha and paricularly in the Dravida Naadu.
Most comments bear the scars of media propaganda using street level myths about the Tamil cause is that the Tamils preferred‘genocide’ to peace. The ironic twist is that the victims of the genocide are blamed for bringing the genocide upon them. The Buddhist-Sinhala hawks do still sell to the unwary, similar iconic stories blaming the Tamils for engineering the 1983 pogrom on them. The queer logic is that the TULF’s agitation for a federalism inflamed the passions of the Buddhist-Sinhalas who for reasons unknown equated federalism with separatism. The message to the Tamils is seek ‘peace’ but in a manner that does not inflame the majority Buddhist-Sinhalas. General Fonseka also delivered this stern message to the minorities recently. Democracy SL style! In both pre- and post- 1983 periods the Tamil leadership did indeed ‘purchase’ peace with the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership signing numerous peace pacts. These were torn up by SL leadership before the ink in the signatures on the pacts was dry. There were a number of them. Even comments refer to Rajiv’s 1987 Indo-SL Accord in which the autonomy provisions were so weak for Tamilians seeking safety for their lives. That for over twenty years the Accord and accompanying amendments remained dead letters despite India, shows how unreliable a peace partner the SL leadership is. Congress-Delhi’s attempts to breathe life into that Accord also failed miserably given the track record of the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership for dishonouring peace pacts it signs time and again. Yet comments fail to fault the bad faith SL leadership to squarely blame the Tamil leadership for the failure of the 1987 Accord. To the incorruptible Tamil leadership what is uppermost is that any Accord or peace deal does guarantee their survival as a community.
The next myth is ‘The …Sinhala race has just done what in such situation any ‘democratic majority’ would have reacted to safeguard its hard fought battle of nationalism’. Such comments endorse fully SL’s genocide using very shallow (or street level) notions of a ‘democratic majority’ and ‘nationalism’ especially when dealing with genocidal states. That a ‘majority’ safeguarding its nationalism by marginalizing minorities and using genocide for that purpose is unlikely to find advocacy in civil societies. India with a “democratic majority’ did not “react’ like the Sinhalese to prevent the partition of India and the birth of Pakistan. Indian leadership sensitive on the Muslim identity delivered Pakistan its statehood. India did not view that its ‘democratic majority’ was license to take the genocide road to annihilate minorities to avoid the partition of India. Indian nationalism unlike Buddhist-Sinhala nationalism was free from traces of the tribalism embedded in Buddhist-Sinhala culture. It’s unthinkable that comments that sanctify SL genocide emanate from readers in India with strong moral and spiritual underpinnings that hold the motley minorities living together relatively peacefully without having to resort to genocide to keep the Union intact. Indian and Tamilians are encouraged not to forget their invaluable roots nurtured in Indian spirituality.
The next myth is Tamils chose the violence. After suffering helplessly for over three decades from indiscriminate attacks by Buddhist-Sinhala mobs and the armed forces daily, anywhere and everywhere in SL the armed resistance came to rescue the Tamils in the aftermath of the 1983 pogrom. That the Buddhist-Sinhala leadership used state terrorism to eliminate the Tamils as early as 1963 may be gleamed from excerpts of Neville Jayaweera’s (Head of the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation) memoirs referred to in ‘SUBVERSE: Change course in Sri Lanka’ Times of India 23 October 2008. It gives a graphic account of the programme to build a chain of military bases in the North to contain a future Tamil revolt. This was long before the armed resistance or LTTE was born. Yet comments are directed at the armed resistance specifically the LTTE overlooking the noble role it plays in safe guarding Tamils lives.
Some comments are uncomfortable as the SL genociders are, with the Tamils cry(ing) hoarse “genocide of Tamils”’. Amongst others the genocide involved Buddhist-Sinhala mobs and armed forces killing over 300000 Tamil civilians, a million driven out of the country by, another million disenfranchised by revoking their citizenship, the balance over a million displaced by a scotched earth oppression and driven out of their homes in the North to live as destitute homeless refugees in the South and elsewhere and still subjected to human rights abuses. Above all Tamil political representation that was at 24 per cent at the time of independence by 2004 dropped to a mere 10 per cent; thanks to the successful Buddhist-Sinhala genocide. Aren’t these injustices grave enough for the Tamils to protest about, even that if it sounds ‘hoarse’ to some. To the millions of Tamilians in TN the protest struck the right chord.
Another myth is to characterize the armed resistance to genocide (born in the aftermath of the 1983 pogrom), ‘terrorist’. A classic attempt by SL a genocider to manipulate the ‘terrorist’ listing process occurred when the SL Foreign Minster urged Australia on 14 October 2008 to ‘ban’ the Tigers as ‘terrorist’ but in Colombo on 4 November boasted that SL Government won’t ban the Tigers. (see lankanewspapers of those dates). The FM explained ‘there was no reason for SL to ban the LTTE as it was already branded as a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada some EU countries and India’. The logic is queer that the country that cries hoarse over the LTTE’s ‘terrorist’ acts refrains from banning but some far away countries do. Enlightened leaderships in the international community are for a more nuanced approach here with R2P to rectify the anomalies easily exploited by lobby pressure groups in the past.
V S Subramaniam
I wonder whether the Mumbai terror attacks had made any impact on the ideology of the fellow Indians. But the message from terrorists is loud and clear. Unless the legitimate government of a state take action against terrorism it could end up a whole country in chaos both politically & economically. This was evident in 50 hour only attack in Mumbai where the shockwaves rushed not only through Indians but through the whole world.
As a small country battered by terrorism for nearly 30 years Sri Lanka faced the menace of LTTE terrorism which was leading the whole socio economic structure into a mess. The growing pains of the people across all communities suffered from LTTE terrorism wanted to regime that can decimate the LTTE forever. This is how the government of President Mahinda Rajapaksha came into the power.
The Tamil peoples issues are on the other hand are being solved one by one (albeit too slowly?) which already came into a situation where the existence of LTTE is no longer a necessity for Sri Lankan Tamils except those who believe in a Eelam(separate state they’re asking for). What is needed today is a strong Tamil political leadership that could work collaboratively with the Sri Lankan government to lead the process into an ultimate solution within one country. Saving LTTE is not a wise decision at all under the latest development.
Saving LTTE to keep the grip of India over SL is one of the most stupid ideas- at least under current global situation where there is no place for terrorism. In fact as long as the LTTE is in the picture and as long as India is not helping the Sri Lankan government to eradicate terrorists (or helping LTTE by any means) will immediately push Sri Lanka towards those who provide help in its fight against terror – mainly China and Pakistan. On the other hand by intervening the ongoing battle of SL government to eradicate LTTE terrorism – which has a huge support from the general public of Sri Lanka – India would only end up alienating their southern neighboring country, may be forever.
If India could do anything to keep Sri Lanka away from China or Pakistan, it is NOT intervening the fight against LTTE to save them but to push & assist SL government to come up with a political solution that can bring a long lasting peace. I understand the Tamil Nadu factor, but Indian government should not, by any means – support a terrorist organization that became a social cancer for civilized world.
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