ow much longer does the President think she can piggy bank on the eternal Sinhala ploy to stymie the surrender of power to the Northeast? How long can the Tamils and Muslims wait to be freed from our tormented hopes and the Sinhala domineering past? Even the extremely limited [if not meaningless] Sinhalese concept of Devolution of power, has been traumatized by failure from its very inception.
The peace talks were grounded on the footing that the ultimate goal was the creation of a Federal State. What other ultimate goal is their to envision or discuss? That has been predetermined and should not hinder the much needed ‘Rehabilitation” of the devastated Northeast, which has been a primary human rights concern of both the international community and the Tamil leadership.
The President’s ploy to frustrate this need by side tracking it with a demand for parallel talks to determine ultimate goals, exposes her preposterous disregard of the immediate human rights needs that confront Tamils. She and her wily leg man, Lakshman Kadirgamar, have a human rights problem. They do not respect them. They prefer to mire the peace process and the state of the nation as a whole in technical irrelevancies. This is typical of a regime with no coherent vision. Under her short tutelage, Sri Lanka has become a dissipated nation, humiliated abroad, uncertain at home, and hungry for action. The anxiety of the people in every segment of society has been steadily rising, while attention to their dire needs remain unresolved. The whole concept of an effective government in existence has been stalled. The inattention to their needs though obviously ill conceived, is overridden by the all consuming desire of the President to retain power in her hands for the foreseeable future. This has left the infrastructure of government in a shambles. She is a political zombie who presides over a withering alliance with a racially biassed ally in the wings. The nation teeters on the edge of an abyss while she keeps foraging for ploys to remain in power.
The danger that this portends is whether she will resort to war as her ultimate weapon to survive. Her present intentions are shrouded in opacity. The Tamils and the international community have to view her every crafty maneuver with heightened suspicion, ever ready for the unexpected to crash around us. Her mechanizations could range from a bid to join the U.N.P and fight the LTTE together, to bolstering her coalition with J.H.U support. No one can predict which way she will turn or in which corner she will crouch, ready to pounce when she sees fit to do so.
The current stalemate in the nations fortunes may however trigger open shafts of light. We have to approach the following fundamentals with fresh eyes, fresh ears and freshened minds. These fundamentals are that the following are self evident truths.
[I] The fact that the Tamils are a separate people with separate aspirations from those of the Sinhalese has been recognized by the Sinhalese rulers. This is evidenced by the very need of the Sinhalese rulers to even consider such concepts as ‘Devolution of power” and a concession toward “Federalism”.
[II] That despite this recognition of our being separate and distinct peoples, the Sinhalese continue with the policy of the acquisition of large tracts of the Tamil homeland; and thereby subject the Tamils to uncontrolled Sinhalese domination on shrinking Tamil terrain. This Tamil inheritance of dispossession of their lands in the name of national agricultural development, has bolstered the right of the Sinhalese rulers to claim, that this is a single nation with a mandated need for an ‘Unitary Constitution” It is obvious from this, that every pretense of a meaningful surrender of power has been a sham. It should also become increasingly evident to the International community that this is so. If it has not yet reached that dimension now, every effort should be made to make them realize the obvious.
[III} The third self evident phenomenon, is that in order to bury the reality of a separate people with a deep rooted need for a separate state, the Sinhalese rulers have convinced the international community that a ‘separate state’, is a forbidden concept. They chant the chant that this offensive idea must be buried before it takes root. The fact is it has taken root. It is no longer a radical concept, despite the insistence by the international community that it should be so regarded for the moment
The international community has had a history of initially resenting both national movements against former colonial rulers and movements for independence within recognized sovereign nations. The latter has partly stemmed from the history of the evolution of Europe’s diverse regions into nation states; the powerful Union of American States; and the inherent idea that there is safety in numbers and an advantage to be gained by collective security and economic amalgamation of smaller units.
The symbolic shift of thought from here, towards international control of nation states by the United Nations has however been resolutely resisted by the more powerful nations, as has been the E.U’s efforts to diminish the power and influence of these well recognized national entities. The idea that the bigger the better is being questioned when they prove to be counter the national interests of the powerful few. NATO and the UN are bolstered as laudatory international vehicles as long as they serve the interests of the major powers. When they don’t, they are conveniently ignored. The unilateral preemptive strike against Iraq contrary to the UN security Council’s resolution, is the best recent example of this realistic and unavoidable twist in world affairs. To each his own is a fact of life.
The movements for separation by ethnic dissidents with regional coherence has in the mean time gained increasing recognition in Indonesia, The Sudan and other grisly terror ridden nations of Africa. The authority of racial majorities to rule indiscriminately over regional majorities is being increasingly doubted. The need to diffuse the offenses of the national majorities is growing into a need to downgrade the domineering exactions by these repeat violators of human rights. Yet, the suggestion by a former U.S. diplomat, that Iraq be divided into a loose confederation of three separate nations, to reflect the ethnic majorities in each region, was classified as radical by conservative TV commentators on Fox news. There is always a strong and almost irresolute tendency to resist change. This is a well encrusted reaction that can only be torpedoed over time. The question is, “Has the International community recognized that the majority community rulers in Sri Lanka have used their position to devour the human rights of regional majorities and other national minorities” It would appear so, but that fact needs to be more precisely emphasized by them.
The President can and will continue to make phone calls and shake hands and arrange meetings with those she seeks to buy over to her side; but their support will be as shallow, as is their need to continue to demand spiffy cars and homes for themselves. She will by this resort to out and out bribery, only succeed in bankrupting herself, her party and the nation.
The international community should not expect her to lower her profile or expect her to enhance the peace process.They should not superficially discard her possible desire to fan the flames of war as an unlikely possibility. Their immediate human rights focus should be to bolster the fate of the starved and shriveled masses of all communities, without expecting an easy peaceful political solution from The President’s faded political alliance.