Extremist diaspora, Sampanthan’s speech complicate ‘reconciliation’
Posted on June 14th, 2012

by Dr Laksiri Fernando Courtesy The Island

June 14, 2012, 12:00 pm

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It is difficult to believe that President Mahinda Rajapaksa or his advisors did not anticipate protests in London or possible cancellation of his address to the Commonwealth Economic Forum in connection with his participation in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations. It was a repetition of what happened in December 2010 when he was supposed to address the Oxford Union Debating Society. The only difference was that the cancelation of his speech, of course under pressure, this time was decided by an international organization, the Commonwealth Business Council, created by none other than the Commonwealth Heads of Government in 1997, unlike the first one being a mere university student organization, however prestigious it may be.

On both occasions, the right to speak was a casualty. There is no question that some diaspora groups in the United Kingdom, whether with direct links to the proscribed LTTE or not, and the human rights organizations concerned with war crimes and human rights violations have every right to peacefully protest against the President. However, it is at least not acceptable if the Global Tamil Forum (GTF) or its British counterpart, the British Tamil Forum or other organizers intimidated or pressured the Commonwealth Business Council to cancel the event. It is more abominable if any “ƒ”¹…”human rights’ organization was involved in that effort. A balanced and objective approach to “ƒ”¹…”war crimes’ requires highlighting both the government and the LTTE atrocities rather equally.

It is possible that the President went to the event to prove his point that some of the active diaspora groups are intransigent or even “ƒ”¹…”terrorists.’ Now the government is utilizing the debacle for its advantage as reported in The Island (14 June) claiming that it posed a threat to President’s life. It is true that he or his armed forces are accused of war crimes and more and more evidence is revealed by different sources whether it is completely credible or not. But there should be a due process and that due process cannot be taken over by the extremist activists in London.

Unlike the Oxford event, the Commonwealth Heads and Governments are involved in this instance. At least some of them might not take the rebuff that one of their counterparts had to undergo without sympathy. After all, he was invited by the Commonwealth Business Council and business of the Commonwealth cannot be conducted under the siege of the extremist agitation. The next Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHGOM) is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka in 2013 and the President is going to be the host of this event.

Over-reading

There are indications that some of the diaspora groups are over-reading the results of the March UNHRC resolution. They are possibly going to the other extreme of the Rajapaksa government on the issues of reconciliation. The first indication of this overreaction came when the Global Tamil Forum and the Transnational Government of the Tamil Eelam (TGTE) issued a joint statement on 19 May 2012 as the “Mullivaaaikkaal Remembrance Message.” As it states, “The absolute power and the arrogant ways of the present Sri Lankan regime are earning the disgust of the international community. This in turn creating conditions favourable to our cause.”

What it says as “our cause” is explicitly the separate Tamil Eelam or even the methods that the LTTE used in achieving that objective which were roundly rejected by the international community by proscribing the LTTE in 32 countries as a terrorist organization and tacitly supporting or being largely indifferent to the crushing of the LTTE by the government forces in 2009. The concerns of the international community at present, in my opinion, are mainly the issues of “ƒ”¹…”war crimes’ or “ƒ”¹…”accountability’ and “ƒ”¹…”reconciliation’ with justice to the Tamil community among others and that means a viable political solution. “ƒ”¹…”Absolute power or the arrogance’ of the government may be of some concern, but there are other ways of dealing with them without supporting a separate state in Sri Lanka. The other ways may include a regime change, but even that will be different to what they have been encouraging in Arab countries.

Some of the relevant sections of the GTF and TGTE joint statement are the following.

“In addition, there are noticeable and encouraging changes in the mindset and approach of the international community following the disaster at Mullivaaikkaal. It is up to our ingenuity and political intelligence how we take advantage of these turn of events in the way we act. We should strengthen our ability to collaborate across differences with a shared understanding and collective action.”

“With this in mind, representatives of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam and the Global Tamil Forum got together in San Francisco on the 13th and 14th of this month. We are pleased to announce that following discussions on several areas of joint action, agreements were reached on some of these areas. This is indeed an important milestone as we move through the third phase of our struggle for freedom coinciding with the remembrance of Mullivaaikkaal.”

“The Global Tamil Forum intends to liaise with other Diaspora Tamil organisations and representatives of Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka in its efforts to build similar forms of shared understanding. The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, for its part, is engaged in building a power base among the world Tamil community, particularly in Tamil Nadu, and with sections of the international civil society.”

“On this occasion, while we remember the mass atrocities in Mullivaaikkaal, it is incumbent upon us to jointly and solemnly declare that the pursuit of freedom by our people shall remain incessant.”

Nowhere in the statement is the possibility of “ƒ”¹…”reconciliation’ ever mentioned as if it is not in their vocabulary. It is beyond comprehension that (or if) the GTF and the TGTE wanted to restart the “ƒ”¹…”conflict or the war’ again which brought misery for all and particularly to the Tamil community living in Sri Lanka.

It is an insult to the “ƒ”¹…”intelligence,’ “ƒ”¹…”rationality’ and “ƒ”¹…”humanness’ of both and all communities if reconciliation cannot be achieved whatever the political obstacles for that achievement particularly from the present government as it is revealed by the past events and actions including the way the war was apparently conducted at the last stages. Sri Lanka and its resources have been shared by the Sinhalese, the Tamils and the Muslims for centuries both separately and jointly and their future destiny or destinies will be more purposeful if the differences are resolved sooner than later.

Sampanthan’s Speech

In recent weeks, Sampanthan’s speech at the ITAK or the Federal Party national convention in Batticaloa has attracted much more attention than the GTF and TGTE statement perhaps for the reasons of proximity. Sampanthan apparently wanted to assert his party position opposed to, as he later said, “certain groups of Tamils living abroad,” “as the single most recognized political organization both here and abroad which embodies the political aspirations of the Tamil people.” That is how he began. Sampanthan otherwise, in my opinion and experience, is not an extremist.

However, he exaggerated the past and claimed “hundred thousand of our people” were killed “merely for demanding the fundamental rights that belonged to them, and for the legitimate rights of self-determination and governance.” It was a misinterpretation of the conflict or the war. It was an implicit defence of the LTTE struggle for him to say, “We remember the Tamil youth who sacrificed their lives in armed struggle, which they resorted to on the failure of their peaceful struggle for the political rights and freedoms of their people.” There was no previous peaceful struggle launched by the LTTE.

There is no question that Sampanthan was expressing the traditional ideology of his party which claimed a “ƒ”¹…”unique nature’ to the Tamil nation and “ƒ”¹…”exclusivity’ for its self-determination almost from the beginning of its formation in 1949. An independent academic who recognized this aspect of ITAK politics was the reputed British historian Eric Hobsbawm (a Marxist), who quoted the party declaration in 1952 at length to stress this point when he wrote his seminal work “Nations and Nationalism Since 1870: Programme, Myth, Reality” in 1992. In this context there is nothing wrong in saying, without exaggeration, that his speech is a manifestation of some “ƒ”¹…”autonomist-secessionist continuum’ in ITAK politics, if not Tamil politics, and even Sampanthan himself might agree.

There is no need to quote extensively what he said in this respect as others have quoted and misquoted him for various interpretations and political purposes. There are other rather sober and encouraging pronouncements which many of the others have overlooked. After saying, “We are now the legitimate representative of the Tamil people” along and within the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), he reiterated very clearly that the ITAK “does not have any history of armed struggle, which has always rejected such struggle, which has a long time democratic tradition, which has always put forward realistic proposals, that the international community has given the most recognition.”

However, he contradicted himself first by saying that “our expectation for a solution to the ethnic problem of the sovereignty of the Tamil people is based on a political structure outside that of a unitary government, in a united Sri Lanka in which Tamil people have all the powers of government needed to live with self-respect and self-sufficiency” and then saying in a subsequent paragraph that “our priority now is to expose the Sri Lankan government that for so many years in the past attempted to describe the ethnic problem as a “ƒ”¹…”terrorist problem.’ He further added, “We must clearly prove to the international community that the Sri Lankan government, which has delayed for so long in giving the Tamil people their rights, has never made any genuine effort to do so. In other words “”…” we must prove to the international community that we will never be able to realize our rights within a united Sri Lanka.”

It is also not possible to disregard the statements like the following as mere rhetoric which says, after referring to the ostensible change of the international situation that “although the issue at hand is the same, the prevailing conditions are different. The struggle is the same, but the approaches we employ are different. Our aim is the same, but our strategies are different. The players are the same, but the alliances are different. That is the nature of the Tamil people. Although we still have the same aim, the methods we use are now different.”

The impression undoubtedly given is the intransigent politics without taking into consideration the miseries that all communities and particularly the Tamils have undergone as a result of the same kind of politics and rhetoric from all sides during nearly the last three decades. More alarming is the following which might be considered as a “ƒ”¹…”security threat’ by the Rajapaksa administration and also easy justification for withholding of the provincial council elections in the North and the withdrawal of the armed forces from that region. It is extremely difficult to understand why he said so particularly at this juncture.

“Our patience however, will not be everlasting. Our patience too, has its limits. Once we have reached that limit, we will move onto the stage of our effort. We will not hesitate to gather our people together and with the support of progressive forces in our country, and the international community, even engage in a non-violent struggle. We will decide on specific deadlines and when the time comes for such action, we will act.”

Conclusion

There are two main conclusions to make, rather briefly, by observing the two statements, first jointly by the GTF and the TGTE, and second by R, Sampanthan at the ITAK national convention in Batticaloa in May. The sabotage of President’s speech in London is only an added evidence for these observations.

First is that there is a complete misreading and exaggeration, in my opinion, of the UNHRC resolution in March believing that perhaps a new situation has arisen that the international community and particularly the US and India might support a “ƒ”¹…”new struggle for independence’ beginning with internal self-determination and then moving on to the external self-determination, if that struggle is launched “ƒ”¹…”peacefully’ and under a different leadership.

This exaggeration was conspicuous when Sampanthan initially said in his speech that “we gather here following our victory in the passage of the recent Resolution at the UN Human Rights Council, a condemnation against the Sri Lankan government by the international community, which has recognized that the Sri Lankan government has committed the crime of extermination against our people, and that it continues to deny them their political rights.”

Second is that given the past experiences and the conditions prevailing at the ground level in Sri Lanka that the struggle for rights of the Tamils (national question) and all other minorities are interwoven with the democratic struggle of the general masses in the country against authoritarianism, corruption and political violence unleashed by the state. There may be a pressing need, in addition, to re-conceptualize the Tamil national question in terms of broader human rights and democracy rather than confining it purely to ethno-nationalist discourses.

17 Responses to “Extremist diaspora, Sampanthan’s speech complicate ‘reconciliation’”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    There is no need to reconcile with them.

    Just get them to agree to UNITARY STATUS or get out!

  2. A. Sooriarachi Says:

    Sampanthan’s message is warning for USA to heed.
    His message to the world leaders could be interpreted as, if a country wants to live in peace, then give in, and not irradicate, thuggery, threats, terrorism and fabricated versions of history and events. This may also encourage movements like AlQuaida and other violent groups not to give up their efforts, because under Sampanthan’s theory, democratic regimes including the US would eventually surrender their national interests in excahange for peace. This wisdom Sampantan exhibits, could be why the terrorist leader Prabakaran endorsed him as the leader of the LTTE political wing, the TNA. However, I hope the Govt of SriLanka, will increase security and protect the nation by nipping in the bud, treacherous aims seemingly canvassed by Sampanthan and Tamilnadu, with no regard for the ordinary citizens of SriLanka who suffered since the early 1970’s, losing over 100,000 lives, mostly sinhalese, (this number is supposed to be an estimated conflation of death counts during both the JVP and LTTE conflicts) who needlessly died. This must not be allowed to happen again.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Sooriarachi,

    JVP terror has nothing to do with Sambanthan.

    If you take the war alone, it killed more than 100,000 mostly Tamils.

    89,000 Tamil war widows.

    1971 – 20,000 Sinhalese (a high estimate)
    1989 – 30,000 Sinhalese (higher estimates are very hard to believe)
    war – 27,000 mostly Sinhala soldiers
    bomb blasts, attacks – 6,000 (assuming all victims were Sinhalese)
    Total – 83,000 Sinhalese

    Still Tamil married men who died in war is higher by another 6,000!

    In addition Tamil children and women ALSO died!

    War numbers EXCLUDE internal wars LTTE and TELO, EROS, EPDP, TMVP, etc, etc. had.

    So Sambandan’s aim is to kill more Tamils than anyone else ONCE AGAIN.

    That is why the Tamil community has a BIGGER responsibility TO AVOID THIS. Tamils who felt the loss of a family member should not support this. Let Tamil Diaspora and Tamil Madu who didn;t lose any family members support this crap.

  4. AnuD Says:

    Pro-LTTE Tamils living overseas have said openly they would forget war crime charges if they were given the federal solution. Apparently, according to what Robert Blake had said, USA also was working along that line even at the peak time of the war as USA wanted LTTE leaders given the safe passage to a third country. So, now both groups are working openly and “legally” via UN to accomplish that. That is why USA is trying to get information via Navi-Pillai, if that is not being allowed, through INGOs living inside Sri Lanka.

    In that back drop, govt was talking reconciliation, now forced by the USA and India, but the Tamil political party has gone to square one is talking about a Tamils only govt within a United Lanka.

  5. Dilrook Says:

    TNA leader has set out the 2 steps they will be following. Contrary to what Laksiri Fernando says there is no contradiction here.

    [Quote]

    Step One – “our expectation for a solution to the ethnic problem of the sovereignty of the Tamil people is based on a political structure outside that of a unitary government, in a united Sri Lanka in which Tamil people have all the powers of government needed to live with self-respect and self-sufficiency”

    Step Two -In other words – we must prove to the international community that we will never be able to realize our rights within a united Sri Lanka.”[Unquote]

    First they will get a “united” Sri Lanka through a political solution.

    Then they will prove to the international community that it is not working and get a seperate nation.

    We have to stop both these steps. It is far too late to stop it once step number one is complete. Sri Lanka must remain unitary.

    Once the country becomes “united”, TNA will create bloodshed, race riots, genocide of Muslims and Sinhalese in the East, satyagraha, hartal campaings, attacking army units and similar things to bring international attention. These can be done very easily with the Tamil Diaspora money, TNA activists, university students and Tamil Nadu illegal immigrants.

    The first and only way to stop this is to keep the nation unitary with no power sharing with TNA.

  6. Lorenzo Says:

    TNA, TNA, TNA

    That is our BIGGEST problem.

    What happened to Stanley, Charles and Janaka who went to SL DETERMINED to ban the TNA?

    They are genuine guys so I don’t think any foul play here.

    But what happened? Did they finally give up?

    If we cannot silence TNA peacefully, I’m afraid we HAVE TO use other means to silence them. The only other option is to see our motherland divided right in front of us.

    It is only 13 terrorists holding 20 million people to ransom. Silence them for good and 20 million people will be safe.

    One TNA MP was expelled because he has a Chingalam name.

    If SF steps into the occassion, he is suitable to lead the country.

  7. Naram Says:

    More comfortably off LTTE London diaspora have a difficulty in explaining to their children, why they have chosen the life in theWest, despite having all their Hindu values. They invent their history, how the mighty Kingdoms of Ariya Chkravarty and Sankili ruled the whole of Sri Lanka with totalcontrol from Jaffna to Arugam Bay with Kandy kings paying Kappan.

    They do not explain the British empire that killed off a good number of good number in the Kandyan districts creation of the education system in the 1820s in Jaffna peninsula by British to fill the lower rungs of the government service. They will say standardisation of marks in the 1970s was an act against the Tamils, but not one that attempted to bring some evenness of opportunity to all parts of Sri Lanka which it achieved despite its faults.

    I see even Wikipeadia is full of Tamil version of history regarding standardisation but I do not think next generation growing up in the West will take this version without question.

    Why do we not have Vellala domination in Tamilnadu, why were the surplus Science and Arts graduates from Jaffna unable to find opportunities in Tamil Nadu in 60s and 70s despite the warm relationship FP had with Madras leaders.

    TNA is unlikely to be maintained by funds from overseas for ever; sons of mare successful of fraudsters wouldnot opt for funding a terrorist machine. Howeverbrighr Raj Rajaratnam might have been one can’t produce such individuals by the dozen.

    Refusal to learn Sinhala meant that after Shanmugathasan’s generation Jaffnacould not produce national leaders. Contrast this with George Fernandopulle-thanks to far sighted education system by the catholic church leaders he he grew up to tri-lingual.

  8. ranjit Says:

    Lorenzo I can agree for everything you said but not for the last one ‘SF is suitable to lead our country’. Are you nuts to give SF to lead our country? He is a man who lives with haterd and a man who has done immense damage to our country by giving foolish statements to the world. He is not fit in our political scene because he is a very dangerous man with a brutal record in the past.

    He does not love the country nor the people but wanted the power to take revenge from the people who brought him to the position where he is today. When he became the General he should have retired like a true soldier thanking the Governement and the people of Sri Lanka for giving him and his heros the support they needed to achieve their tasks by winning the war of thirty years instead he talked bullshit and started a campaign against the Government and the President and his family. He once said our President should prepare himself to go to Bogamabara. Are those words of a hero or a hated man? How can such a person be our President of my beloved homeland? Lorenzo we dont need SF or Ranil,Sampathan, Karu, or Somawansa to lead when we have a true Sinhala lion from Hambantota to lead our country for many more years to come. Dont use your pen to write anything about those rascals and traitors because they are not worth a dime to our Motherland. They all live with hate and power hunger and money. Only three years passed after the war just give this Government some more time and then decide. Let’s walk together in my homeland my brother and find out the truth and then we can both tell the world together as brothers ” what a beautiful country we live with so much beautiful people living side by side from Point Pedro to Dondra in a peaceful manner. We all should be proud of our Motherland. No country has done so much to the people after a bloody war of thirty years like ours. They all can talk but they should see the reality on the ground witout taking sides for the sake of our future. Lorenzo help all people to live in peace and harmony but not by hatred or revenge. God created us to live as humans not like animals. So God please helps us all to live peacefully by helping each other without any division among us.

    Traitors,Haters,Corrupt, bad and evil must be eliminated by good decent human beings around the world. Terrorists must be sent to hell same as Prabakaran and Osama Bin Laden and their goons.

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    Ranjith,

    Of course he is not at the moment.

    “It is only 13 terrorists holding 20 million people to ransom. Silence them for good and 20 million people will be safe.
    If SF steps into the occasion, he is suitable to lead the country.”

    IF that happens only. Someone has to do it. I see no one else capable to do so than SF. That is the ONLY way he can prove he is no longer a TNA traitor.

    Lead the country along with the 224 others. Certainly NOT as the President!

    He was a MP before he lost it. I would not mind giving it back IF he does the trick. I don’t see the government doing it.

  10. Dham Says:

    Ranjit,
    Gonzeka and Gonwahanzo are twins.

    This Gonzeka is a born Fool who cannot differntiate right and worng. The king of Lanka web Gonwahanzo is very close to him that way. Only differnce is Gonwahanzo is not a bloody traitor like Gonzeka.
    Give the leadership to Gonzeka and we will get a bloody idiot like idi ameen.
    This fool did not do ANYTHING for our country. He did everything out of greed for himself. He will sell our contry to USA and will live merrily ever after. TNA is his best buddy at the moment.
    More than TNA we must watch out for insider trading. No point chasing the tail.

  11. lingamAndy Says:

    ranjit
    we live with so much beautiful people living side by side from Point Pedro to Dondra in a peaceful manner. We all should be proud of our Motherland- Fully agrred ! I’ve visted last year north to south(Dondra) last year( since lived in Western counrty 1983) !

    SF or Ranil,Sampathan, Karu, or Somawansa to lead when we have a true Sinhala lion from Hambantota to lead our country – Agrred even He killed My Thesiya Thalaivar ( Natinal leader ) to free 300,0000 from vanni to united our mother lanka !!!

  12. AnuD Says:

    Most people here get money from the SL-govt to write articles. Their comments prove it.

  13. ranjit Says:

    Anud you are wrong. You maybe doing that but not me or any other true Sri Lankan who love the country or the people will do anything for money.That’s not our style my friend. We write for the sake of love for the country we were born. You maybe corrupt that’s why you think like that of other people.

    There are two different kinds of people in our society those who love the country and those who do not love the country truely and honestly. We truley love our country that’s the reason we feel like this.We hate corruption on all forms, drugs, traitors, liers, thieves etc. We dont lick anybody’s asses but write fearlessly of any topic which concerns our beloved Motherland. There are so many true sons and daughters of Sri Lanka who really loves the motherland except few traitors who tries to divide the country and give a bad impression about our land and the people to the outside world. How much they try their crooked tactics it will not work because all our enemies have realized the truth and now linning behind each other to embraze the freedom and prosperity in our beautiful Motherland.

    Lorenzo you are right to get rid of traitors like Sampadan and TNA there should be a man like SF because he has killer instict. Andy dont worship murderers and traitors but worship true heros who sacrificed their lives on both sides to free our Motherland like KADIRAGAMA and others.

    Anud keep your money and give it to SF because he likes money and power also to the opposition traitors like Ranil,Somawansa and the clan because they do shit services to the white dogs to black mark our homeland Sri Lanka. Adios pals.

  14. Lorenzo Says:

    AnuD,

    “Most people here get money from the SL-govt to write articles.”

    I don’t agree any of these people take money. They are volunteers.

    I know UNP and LTTE does that. They pay money to write comments and articles.

    e.g. UNP pays 10,000,000 rupees a WEEK for Sunday Leader to write crap.

    e.g. TNA (LTTE) pays 1,000,000 to Uthayan to write racist crap. It is owned by a TNA MP.

    Actually that is a good strategy. Govt should hire a group of people to FULL TIME scan ALL articles about SL in the internet and bombard them with pro-SL comments.

  15. Lorenzo Says:

    “There are two different kinds of people in our society those who love the country and those who do not love the country truely and honestly. We truley love our country that’s the reason we feel like this.We hate corruption on all forms, drugs, traitors, liers, thieves etc. We dont lick anybody’s asses but write fearlessly of any topic which concerns our beloved Motherland.”

    EXACTLY!

  16. Dham Says:

    There are more than two groups. There are only a very few that truly “love the country”.
    For most of Sri lankans ( as most human beings) peaceful existance comes first. That includes somethign to eat, to get a job and a peace of mind to walk freely on streets.
    How many of us have this ? Those who have basic needs then fall into categories according degree of “greed”.

    1. Bloody UNPiers who never change.
    2. Colombian who want Sri lanka to be a Western country.
    3. Tamils who always vote for Tamil parties or UNP whichever available.
    4. Hardcore SLFpiers who defend MR and even Silvas.
    5. The rest

    I am sure category 5 is the majority. We can win over 3. one day with the availability of all basic need to rural north, regardless of jaffna. 4 if OK at the moment but 1 and 2 cannot be changed. So, getting rid of TNA by killing is not practical and no point talking here. There should be good governence to eliminate them from the sceen.

  17. Dham Says:

    Sarath Fonseka is a bloody FOOL and will do any dirty thing for money. All patriots should not even think about he becoming opposition leader. He is a killer, rapist, kalavedda in addition to being the main applicant to be the great puppet.

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