THE UPCOMING’COMMUNALIST CONSTITUTION AND THE NEWLY FORMED TAMIL PEOPLE’S COUNCIL: THE PLOT THICKENS
Posted on December 31st, 2015

 DHARSHAN WEERASEKERA

A number of Tamils headed by C. V. Wigneswaran the Northern Province Chief Minister have launched a front called the Tamil People’s Council (TPC) whose purported purpose is to submit proposals from the Tamil Community to be considered when drafting the new Constitution.  (Daily Mirror, 29 December 2015.)

In my view, the purpose of the said front is quite different.  It is a critical ingredient in the long-term plan of Tamil separatists to demand a separate state by invoking the international law concept of self-determination (and have the international community endorse such demand).  It is therefore essential that members of the public pay close attention to this latest maneuver by the separatists, and do what is necessary to thwart it.

THE PLAN

In my view, to understand the plan of Mr. Wigneswaran and his cohorts (and this obviously includes Sampanthan and the rest of the lot in the TNA, although for the moment the two sides are pretending to be at odds with each other) it is necessary to understand the judgment of the International Court of Justice in the case, Accordance with international law of the unilateral declaration of independence in respect of Kosovo, 22 July 2010.

I have discussed this case in a previous article published in lankaweb, titled, ‘The ICJ’s ruling on Kosovo Independence and its significance to the Eelamists’ game-plan in Sri Lanka’ (3 August 2015) and refer the reader to that article for more details.  But, in gist, the facts and judgment in that case are as follows.

After the NATO-led intervention in 1999, Kosovo was administered under a UN mandate by something called the Assembly of Kosovo”.  The terms of the mandate called for a gradual relinquishing of control over Kosovo to Kosovans, but with input from Serbia, before any final status agreement is reached.

In 2008, a group of Kosovans, including members of the Assembly, calling themselves the Democratically elected leaders of our People” issued a unilateral declaration of independence.  The United States and a number of other countries them promptly accepted the declaration as valid, and the new nation of Kosovo officially came into being.

Serbia, understandably enraged by the above developments, went before the International Court of Justice and asked for an Advisory Opinion on the legal validity of the said declaration of independence.  The court ruled that, since the declaration was issued by a group that was outside the constitutional framework in operation of the time, there was nothing in international law to prevent such a group from declaring independence, so, in effect, it was in accordance with international law.

To put it another way, what the court said was that if the ‘Kosovo Assembly’ had declared independence, it would have been illegal (because the constitution did not permit such a thing) but since it was done by a different group, with no constitutional recognition, it was okay.

Obviously, from Serbia’s point of view, the technical or semantic distinction was no consolation:  the practical reality was that a new nation had been created (in territory that Serbia considered to be its national territory) without Serbia being consulted, or having an opportunity to provide input, an opportunity it had been promised earlier.

Let’s now turn to our own set of separatists.  The TNA will negotiate for ‘maximum devolution’ which means that, under the new Constitution, the Northern and Eastern Provinces will be more or less autonomous states, linked to the center by some very weak constitutional link.

I suspect ‘maximum devolution’ will involve setting up a confederation (though it will be called a ‘federal system’ for political convenience) which will either explicitly or impliedly recognize a right of secession either by action of the state or provincial government, or a referendum of the residents of those provinces.  Nevertheless, the point is that, under that arrangement, the TNA will pledge they will never separate.

Once the above system is put in place, however, Wigneswaran and his outfit will start rattling the cage, claiming that the Tamils still have ‘grievances’ that have not been addressed.  From there, it’s a small step for them, claiming that they, rather that the TNA (which they will accuse of colluding with the government) speak for the residents of their respective provinces, to issue a unilateral declaration of independence.

They will say that, with respect to the said declaration, international law is on their side, and unfortunately they will be correct.  If the United States, India, and a few other countries recognize the declaration, a new nation called Tamil Eelam will come into being.  If, on the other hand,  the United States and those other countries, for their own reasons, choose not to recognize the new nation, that’ll be okay with the separatists also.

The separatists will threaten to continue issuing declarations until one is accepted, and using that as leverage, squeeze whatever remaining concessions they want out of the central government, so that they can run a de facto state in the two provinces in question.  Either way, the Sri Lankan State, especially the Sinhala people, will be left holding the proverbial bag, as usual.

RECOMMENDATIONS

Given the constraints of time, I shall limit myself to just one recommendation.  The primary trick that the separatists are playing to allay the fears of ‘moderate’ Sinhalese, or to give rhetorical ammunition to the enemies of the Sinhalese to bludgeon said ‘moderates’ into submission, is that they (the separatists) have now reformed themselves and given up separatism.

In my view, the best way to pull the rug from under the feet of the separatists is to ask them two different questions, and they stem from the statement of objectives they have put down in one of their foundational documents.  As a result of a case now being heard in the Supreme Court (Case No. SC/SPL/03/2014) there is now an English translation by the government translator, of the Constitution and Amendment to same of the Illangai Tamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK).

The ITAK is the main constituent of the TNA, and Wigneswaran, Sampanthan, and the rest of that lot all hold office as a result of being elected under the ITAK banner.  So, the Constitution of ITAK can be taken as their official credo.

The statement of the objectives of the ITAK is clearly set out in the Constitution and related Amendment as follows:

‘The objective of the party is to achieve political, economic and cultural liberation of the Tamil speaking people in Sri Lanka by establishing an autonomous Tamil state and autonomous Muslim state in accordance with the policy of the right to self determination as part of the Federation of United Sri Lanka.

Absolute guarantee shall be provided to the right to freedom of religion and the right to language of the minority nationalities who live in the autonomous state to be established within the Tamil motherland.’

I draw the reader’s attention to two points in the above passages.  First, the proposed Tamil and Muslim autonomous states are to be established according to the right to self determination.

Second, the minority nationalities—by which I suppose is meant the Sinhalese—living in the Tamil motherland are to be guaranteed their rights to religion, language and so on:  in other words, ITAK sees the Sinhalese as a different nationality, i.e. inhabitants of a different nation, as opposed to say, a different ethnic or linguistic group inhabiting the same nation.

So, the two questions that the separatists should be asked, whenever they say they have given up separatism and are willing to sign affidavits or go to any other lengths to prove their sincerity is, one, will they sign an affidavit renouncing the right to self determination?  And two, do they consider that Sri Lanka is composed of two nations, one Tamil and the other Sinhala, or one nation comprising different ethnic and linguistic groups, each with equal rights to the entire territory of the country?

In my view, the separatists will sign a thousand affidavits, or any other device, pledging that that they will never separate, because they know that once the separation in fact occurs, no court in ‘Sri Lanka’ will have jurisdiction over them.  So they can never be held accountable.

On the other hand, if they sign an affidavit renouncing the right to self-determination, or admitting that they consider themselves one among a number of ethnic and linguistic groups with rights in this country, they can’t invoke self-determination before the international community, and get the latter to accept it, which is really what they are after.

So, as soon as the motion to convert Parliament to a Constitution Assembly or some such thing is put on the 9th, what the Opposition should do is, among other things, immediately ask the Tamils to answer the above two questions, and say that unless clear answers are give to both questions, absolutely no discussions on purported solutions to the ‘national issue’ will be pursued.

Dharshan Weerasekera is an Attorney-at-Law.  He is the author of two books:  The UN’s Relentless Pursuit of Sri Lanka (2013), and, The UN’s Subversion of International Law:  The Sri Lanka Story (2015)

18 Responses to “THE UPCOMING’COMMUNALIST CONSTITUTION AND THE NEWLY FORMED TAMIL PEOPLE’S COUNCIL: THE PLOT THICKENS”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    Short answer – Tamils will NOT answer those questions!! Why dig your own grave! Keep it ambiguous and keep the “enemy” guessing.

    Anandasangaree will also join Vigneswaran’s group.

    TNA will NOT join it.

    This way Tamils will have TWO FRONTS to get TE. This is an OLD TRICK.

    The only solution is to IMPLEMENT 6 AMENDMENT. Punish all those who talk of self determination, separatism, etc.

  2. stanley perera Says:

    My personal view is these racist Tamail politicians will by hook or by crook will win their demands with American and western power. Tamils will never ever give up their Ellam. Even when they get the Ellam they will ask more and more. Bloody Tamils will never ever live and let live. In Fiji they cannot play hum bug with the Native Fijians. This is the time we have to regret chasing out Rajapakse rejime. However we have taught him a lesson for becoming a dictator. In any case it is dictatorship in the guise of democracy. We must at this juncture reinstate Rajapakse. In that scenario Rajapakse is the only one for Sinhalese. When Mattaya and Demala get togther both of them will play hell with Sira and Rana. My blood is boiling. Why didn’t Rajapakse exterminate the racist pests. Because of his fault Sinhalaya is suffering under Mattaya and Demala.

  3. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    LORENZO !! Keep it ambiguous… fully agree. FORE WARNED IS FORE ARMED.

    Wigs is very smart, as smart as the megalomaniac, or so he thinks. His plans will lead another set of innocent tamils to an untimely end. The ‘ back up ‘ TNA will be complicit in the misery that Wigs is possibly planning. I see doom at the end of his tunnel.

    Mighty MR made just one wrong move. All fell like a pack of cards. So, lets wait and see Wigs absolute success, and resulting Humpty Dumptying

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    Tamils fool SINGHALA MODAYAS the same way UNP and SLFP fool them. They create TWO parties – one more EXTREMIST and the other more MODERATE. But UNKNOWN to Singhala modayas, BOTH have the SAME END GOAL!!

    But Singhala modayas tend to BLAME the extremist group and EMBRACE the “moderate” group NOT knowing both target the same damn thing.

    e.g. How many Singhala modayas trusted ANANDASANGAREE because compared to TNA racists, he seems to be a moderate?

    But look what he DOES –

    signed the Vadakundi resolution (NOT EVEN Sampanthan did that!! Not even Viggie did that).
    always promote FEDERALISM.
    called LTTE terrorists in custody “they are not criminals”.
    tried VERY HARD to save VP with all BS excuses (not even TNA did that).
    still holds on the TAMIL UNITED LIBERATION FRONT leadership.
    even contested from the TNA in 2013 PC election and LOST but pretends to be against TNA.

    NEVER trust this type of people.

    Now Viggie is starting the SECOND FORCE in Tamil politics. That party will COMPETE with TNA to become the MOST RACIST. That will FORCE TNA to up its game (become even more racist).

    This is the Tamil game plan since 1949.

    Don’t be fooled. The MOST LAME and MODERATE looking Tamil is the MOST DANGEROUS.

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Did you watch Viggie’s swearing in with MR?

    In that video Maru Sira LAUGHS SO MUCH for NO reason.

    Why laugh so much? No apparent reason.

    He KNEW then MR dug his own grave. That’s why Maru Sira was laughing. I’m sure Run-nil, CBK and Rajitha were laughing their asses off.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Why have the 6-A in the Constitution ??? !!!

  7. LANKAPUTHRA Says:

    Stanley Perera MR is not the issue. Read the article fully. Attacking MR family from Australia is not many want. New faces has to come. But Muslim OBAMA will not allow MR family to stay in SL politics. This why Atul Ketchup was brought in. Who gives you Kappan? Daily Mirror owners? If so Ranil’s family owns it.

  8. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    LORENZO !! MARU SIRAA must have been laughing, knowing that Weggie is a possible candidate for disaster in Sri Lanka, and that MR is blissfully ignorant of that fact. Also Maru Siraa does not know that people are already laughing at him. People of SriLanka will have the last laugh.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    Re: The proposed Tamil & Muslim states :

    The proposed Muslim state will also be Tamil. Tamil speaking Muslims are TAMIL PEOPLE.

    Last laugh will be with the Tamil leaders who demanded a Separate state for Tamils in the 1930s and will now get it, thanks to Sinhala infighting. Disunity of Sinhala folk will lead to dismembering of the state of Lanka ?

  10. mjaya Says:

    This is an ironic twist but there is hope for our favor.

    Sri Lanka is going to face a pretty bad financial crisis soon. We have to voice that abolishing the useless provincial councils is a way to save money. Knowing how unpopular this government is… it may by some miracle actually happen. Hope I am not too optimistic!!!

    All intelligent patriots can figure out what else will go when the useless PCs go. Our enemies can figure this out themselves.

  11. SA Kumar Says:

    in TN (Union state) DK become DMK & AIADMK .
    in TE (United Provicial) ITAK become TNA & TPC.

    sooner or later ( Before end of this Govt) 13A & 6A will be fully implemented in Mother Lanka !

    live & let’s live .

    only my worry is in these both TE Indian flag fly in the sky not our Koddiya & or Lion flag – kaput
    Thesiya Thalava Velu where are you ????

  12. mjaya Says:

    Tamil State – Tamil Nadu
    Muslim State – Arabia

    Sri Lanka (all territory) – Homeland of the Sinhalese – if you can’t digest it just get the hell out!

  13. SA Kumar Says:

    TE born on 1987 – Indo Lanka agreement (13 A).

    Velu tried to stopped Indian flag fly in TE but defied on 19th May 2009 .

    Velu where are you ???

  14. AnuD Says:

    How can, Wigneswaran as a Cheif minister when he is fighting more Tamil rights serve for Sinhala or non-Tamil people living in the North.

    That must be discrimination.

    IT is very clear he is Anti-Army.

  15. nilwala Says:

    Suggest MODIFICATION of mjaya’s statement as follows:

    Tamil State – Tamil Nadu
    Muslim States – Multiple – include Muslim states in MiddleEast, Pakistan, Bangladesh,Malaysia, Indonesia etc.

    Sri Lanka (all territory) – Homeland of the Sinhalese

  16. Sarath W Says:

    Thank you Dharshan for keeping us informed about this Tamil conspiracy. Like most readers of Lanka web I too am living in a foreign country and not aware what really goes on in Sri Lanka. Now it is time Mahinda to take leadership about these issues and inform the public about these dangers. The armed forces must be alerted to these dangers as well.

  17. Nanda Says:

    Giving Elam Council and putting the Vigi the snake under the REdda of Lankamata is again good work of the Mahadenamutta. Trust your Mahadenamutta and bring him to solve the problem now.

  18. Fran Diaz Says:

    What a strange situation in Lanka ! Here are the sorry facts, in a nutshell :

    Those who demanded a Separate State from the 1930s, i.e. Tamil Leaders, carries on with this demand to date cloaking the same terms with different names, breaking the Law of the Land I.e. 6-A and were never penalised for that !!

    Question: Are Tamil Leaders PATRIOTIC ?

    India’s wayward politics, one time toward the Soviet Union, now toward the west, have ALWAYS been used by Tamil Leaders for Separatism, to Lanka’s detriment.

    INDIA trained the LTTE in Tamil Nadu.
    INDIA imposed the 13-A on the JRJ govt (1987)

    It is in TAMIL NADU, INDIA, that there are some 15 Million Tamil Dalits who suffer atrocities with caste stamped on their birth certificates. This does not happen in Lanka. Tamil Dalits think they would be better off in Lanka, wouldn’t they ?
    Foreign sources may encourage this to take advantage of Lanka !

    Tamil Eelam in Lanka would be the beginning of the break up Lanka leading to break up of India as Tamil Nadu, which was a break away state earlier, will take T’Eelam in Lanka as their new breakaway headquarters !

    Who pays the bill for all of India’s actions on Lanka ?

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