Identify the problem, before formulating a solution

S. Akurugoda

"Let me reiterate that my government is firmly committed to a negotiated political solution based on devolution of power and ensuring the democratic, political, including linguistic, rights of all our Tamil brethren within an undivided Sri Lanka," President Mahinda Rajapaksa told The Hindu in an interview at 'Temple Trees' in Colombo few weeks ago.

Asked about the contours of the political solution he had in mind, President Rajapaksa announced his government's "intention of implementing the 13th Amendment. We have given that assurance to the Tamil people of my country and to the international community. We are going to do it."

As the President quite correctly stated in his talk, the 13th Amendment was introduced in the Sri Lankan Constitution at the instance of the Indian government and it could not be implemented in the North and the East because "there was no political will on either side to implement it."

'All of a sudden' realisation of the of 'value' of the Indo-Lanka Accord under the current leadership was noted, quite surprisingly, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa said in "Walk the Talk" programme on NDTV on last January that "the India-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 offers the best solution for the North East Crisis and the devolution of power envisaged in that accord offered the best solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka.

When analysing the statements made by the President to Indian media, since then, it is evident that there is a tremendous pressure from India to stick onto the Indian 'solution' due to their own regional, economic and political interests.

The answer to the question 'why there was no political will to implement such a solution' would have been revealed, if the President had stated how and why the Indian government went all out to coerce Sri Lanka into submission. Indian cargo planes invaded Sri Lanka's air space challenging the sovereignty of our country, and almost forced former President J R Jayawardena (JR) to 'invite' Rajiv Gandhi to Sri Lanka to sign the agreement and to accept the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). Sri Lanka had no alternative but to 'surrender' to India's demands and sign a hurriedly prepared document endorsed by the Tamil separatist groups who were, in fact, abetted by India.

The Indo-Lanka Accord was signed amidst curfew and the function was boycotted by several ministers of the UNP government including its Prime Minister. Those UNP parliamentarians who opposed the Indo-Lanka Accord, which paved the way for the 13th Amendment had no alternative but to vote for it since JR had already taken them 'political hostage' by keeping undated resignation letters signed by MPs in his pocket.

Political parties such as SLFP, JVP, MEP etc were against the agreement and the SLFP under the leadership of Mrs. Sirima Bandaranaike, in fact, boycotted the first Provincial Council elections.

The extent of the opposition to the treacherous agreement was notable when a sailor attacked the Indian PM while the latter was receiving the guard of honor.

Failure of India to disarm the separatist groups, failure of IPKF to restore peace, failure of the very first North-East Provincial Council leading to unilateral declaration of Independence by Chief Minister Varatharaja Perumal in November 1989 and utter failure of the existing PCs in the South (apart from becoming white elephants to the entire nation) are clear examples of the futility of the Indian Solutions based on the Indo-Lanka Accord.
The validity of the enforcement of any agreement reached under such Accord is highly questionable, under the present circumstances, since the India has failed to fulfill its main obligation vis-à-vis disarming the separatist groups. What moral right is there to force Sri Lanka to stick onto the so-called 'solution' of the said accord, at a time the Sri Lankan security forces are at the doorstep of the tigers den?

One claim for separatism is the existence of a (mythical) traditional Tamil homeland. If there was any evidence of such a homeland, Tamils would have made their 'claim for a separate state' from British rulers, who favoured minorities (in several ways) as a part of their 'divide and rule' policy, prior to independence. Although there were claims for 50 to 50 representation in the legislature from Tamil leaders to maintain their 'gained superiority complex' under the Colonial masters, there was no mention of traditional homeland claims from the Tamil representation. Traditional homeland theory was not existed at that time, because they had no time to destroy all historical evidence of the Sinhalese Buddhist civilisation in the north and east of Sri Lanka and to rewrite/interpret the entire history in their favour. In fact, page 773 of the Oxford Dictionary published in 1924 identifies 'Sinhalese' as, 1. Adj. Of Ceylon 2. N (pl. the same). A S. native, the S. language while page 1133 identifies 'Tamill as, n. Member, Language of a non-Aryan race of S-E India [Native]. It is not the intention here to write at length on this issue since there are several books and articles written by eminent writers on the above subject of mythical Tamil Homeland.

Another claim for separatism as sighted by the propaganda machinery of the LTTE and its supporters is 'marginalization by majority ethnic Sinhalese'

As Foxwatch in Sunday Island of September, 10th 2006 correctly identified, before rushing headlong in to irrevocable constitutional change which may not work, we must be sure what the problem is, before blindly formulating a solution. The Maha Sangha brought up this basic issue in a Resolution on the devolution proposals of the time, on March 5, 1996 Clause 3 read:

"Whereas the government declares that the constitutional amendment are aimed to solve the Tamil problem and to correct the historical injustices caused to the Tamil, this conference of the Maha Sangha demands that the government declares in what ways the Tamils have suffered any injustices purely because they have been members of that community and in what ways and in what ways the Sinhalese who constitute 74% of the population have special privileges by virtue of being Sinhalese...."
What is really happening in Sri Lanka today is that an extremist group called LTTE is terrorizing against the democratically elected government of Sri Lanka and its people irrespective of their ethnicity with an intention of carving out a mono-ethnic separate state. The entire Sinhalese and the Muslims population who lived in the Northern area for centuries were either killed or chased away completely by the extremist racist group. At the moment, not a single Sinhalese or Muslim is living in Jaffna, but, many thousands of Tamils are living in the southern parts of the country in peace with the other communities.
As the Foxwatch stated in his article, the above request made by the Maha Sangha remains as valid today as when it was made more than twelve years ago. The question raised should be answered by those who are responsible for implementing solutions, both for public information and to serve as the basis for an enduring solution. If we leapfrog this essential step our "solution" may only create bigger problems down the road.

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