After the Elections: Demilitarize Development for Sustainable Peace

“Counter-terrorism is terrorism’s best ally.” –Joseba Zulaika in “Terrorism: The Self-Fulfilling Prophesy” (2009)

On April 12, 2010 the majority of citizens of the island’s two main linguistic communities celebrated the “Sinhala and Tamil New Year” and the categorical end of war and terrorism with considerable optimism, despite lack of a clear political solution to the ‘ethnic conflict’. The New Year celebrations, the first since the end of the State’s 30 year war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), were in the wake of recently concluded parliamentary elections that returned the ruling party to power. President Rajapaksa, who in January had already won the Presidential elections for another 6 year term, noted that the New Year brings into focus shared culture and kinship ties between the Sinhala and Tamil speaking communities in the island. There was not talk of ‘human rights violations’ or ‘war crimes’ or the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon’s plan to set up an Advisory Council on Sri Lanka. Members of the international community, particularly the west, congratulated the regime and seemed circumspect with regard to questions of reconciliation, reconstruction and the detritus of 30 years of war in Lanka.

The end of election season in Sri Lanka should see the beginning of sustainable peace, which is to be distinguished from the end of war. Although the war ended almost a year ago on May 20, 2009, and opened a space for dealing with its root causes, the country had been in transition in anticipation of elections. Now that the election season is over the challenge of winning the peace, demilitarizing democracy and governance for locally owned development, and integrating the minority communities to ensure reconciliation and lasting peace remains. The post-conflict challenges may be divided in two: immediate humanitarian and human rights issues and long-term political settlement with devolution of power to the conflict affected regions, restoration of democratic institutions and checks and balances, and recognition of and institution of multiculturalism. On both these counts the Government of Sri Lanka is under considerable pressure from India, the US and EU and the United Nations to speedily resettle internally displaced people and stem the tide of refugees.

The election outcome has made it increasingly clear that the island would be evolving its own model of post-conflict reconstruction, development and reconciliation with the help of mainly Asian neighbors and donors, principally, India and China, which tend to be less demanding than western donors on the human rights front. The ruling United Peoples’ Freedom Alliance (UPFA) was returned to power with a comfortable majority in the face of a divided and lack luster opposition, whose leader Ranil Wickramasinghe, would now be required to consider exit strategies, if the United National Party (UNP), historically, the country’s oldest and most inclusive political party which has been dealt a stunning defeat, is to pose a challenge to the hegemony of the emergent Rajapaksa dynasty. The low voter turnout – only 52 percent of the population is partly explained by this. The Tamil minority also seems to have been disinclined to come out and vote in numbers, and there has been an overall reduction in members of parliament from the minority communities. The ruling UPFA garnered 117 out of the 225-seat parliament, about 6 seats short of a two thirds majority required to change the Constitution. Rajapaksa has consolidated power with a hat trick of three victories if one counts the defeat of the LTTE, the victory at the Presidential elections and the parliamentary elections.

The April elections marked a new beginning for the people in the post-conflict zones of the north and east, who had been prevented from participating in previous elections by the LTTE. They were able to exercise their vote relatively freely and they voted for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA/ITAK). However, Douglas Devanandan an ally of the ruling coalition (UPFA), and former militant of the EPDP (Eelam Peoples Democratic Party), were able to secure almost a third of the votes in the north. Also noteworthy at the recently concluded elections was the defeat of the  hard-line nationalist Jathiak Hela Urumay (JHU) party and  JVP/ DNA (Democratic National Alliance) headed by the jailed former Army Commander, Sarath Fonseka (who nevertheless won a seat), signaling that the majority are not impressed by extremism. With a clear majority and needing fewer hard-line coalition partners, Rajapaksa should ideally bring down the number of cabinet members and work with the TNA which has promised to cooperate with him to find a solution for the minorities with the framework of a united Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lanka Model

Various international terrorism, conflict and peace building experts had predicted that the thirty-year war in the island, one of South Asia’s longest, would drag on for many years. The comprehensive defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), listed as one of the world’s deadliest terrorist organizations, by the Sri Lanka Government’s armed forces in the tiny multicultural and multi-religious teardrop island, strategically located at the cross roads of major trade routes in the Indian Ocean was viewed by some international peace and conflict experts as a test case. The Rajapakse government had after all argued that it was fighting a ”war on terror”, and capitalized on the diminished tolerance in the international community for political violence in the aftermath of 9/11, despite recognition that ”one man’s terrorist may be another’s liberation fighter” –depending on the context. Some terrorism experts even suggested that Lanka may constitute a model to fight “terrorism” in South and South East Asia, including Afghanistan and Pakistan (Guneratna). Others have been more circumspect about lessons to be learned from the Sri Lanka case, particularly, due to concerns about human rights and the need for a political solution to the minority issue.

Perspectives on the relevance of the Sri Lanka example for ending insurgent or terrorist conflicts differ depending on the commentator’s commitment to the spirit (rather than form), of democracy as well as recognition of the fact that rarely have such long drawn, low-intensity, globally net-worked and locally embedded conflicts come to so conclusive an end. Every conflict is different, and in other parts of South Asia “terrorism” and insurgency seems unlikely to wind down so efficiently unless the ”root causes” of violence such as poverty, underdevelopment and political and cultural discrimination are addressed.

The conflict in Sri Lanka had been termed a ‘terrorist’ conflict, an ‘ethnic conflict’ and a liberation struggle. It was arguably all three, having begun as an ethnic conflict that subsequently morphed into a liberation struggle for the Tamil minority in the north east, only to become highly militarized and a self-sustaining dirty war with its own war economy. In the final stages the LTTE which claimed to be fighting for the rights and liberation of the Tamil minority in northeast Sri Lanka had become a terrorist organization that was as brutal to its own constituency as towards the Sri Lanka State from which it sought independence. At the same time, ending the thirty-year war in Sri Lanka was difficult and happened with considerable damage to the country’s democratic culture and institutions. Democratic culture and traditions tend to check the State’s propensity for internal war against segments of the citizenry who may be fighting for ethno-religious self determination or economic and social justice, or both, as was arguably the case with the Tamil and Muslim minorities in the northeast of Sri Lanka.

Demilitarizing development, ensuring Human Security

Though the war in Lanka is over the identity conflict that preceded it may persist in different forms until issues of power sharing with the peripheral regions due to over-centralization of State institutions, and erosion of democratic governance are addressed. The current regime’s preferred model of reconstruction and peace building appears to be fast tracking economic development and reconstruction as a solution to the conflict in Sri Lanka along the lines of authoritarian democracy visible in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, where the state’s emphasis on economic development has trumped and muted ethno-religious identity conflicts. This strategy may work in the medium term, until a comprehensive plan for devolution of power to the north-east regions is worked out. In the longer term, there would be need for the implementation for devolution of power particularly to the regions where Tamil speaking minority communities predominate — in the north and east.

Often conflicts that have their roots in poverty and economic marginalization by political elites and majorities that control the modern nation-state tend to be articulated in terms of ethno-religious identity conflicts. In other words “ethnic” identity conflicts tend to have a resource base, and there is a need to de-ethnicize conflict analysis in order to address the root causes of the conflict in Lanka. The majority of ordinary people in the conflict zones are tired of promises of “liberation” by various politicians and ethnic entrepreneurs peddling ethnic identity politics and ethnic “liberation” particularly in the wake of the LTTE’s failure to secure any respect for the grievances of the Tamil minority. Many citizens in the north and east simply assert that they wish to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and look forward to a decent education and future for their children. By and large, ethnic out bidding for short term political gain has become a feature of Sri Lanka’s post/colonial political culture in the absence of visionary leadership conscious of the need for inclusive development policies.

Devolution for Equitable Development

Sri Lanka which has traditionally had a far more vibrant democratic culture, civil society and a social welfarist approach to development than Malaysia or Singapore will need to finds its own post/conflict economic development model, between neo-liberal laissez faire policies and over centralised government led development. Neither of these approaches really worked in the past and it would be necessary to strike the appropriate balance between open economic policies and excessive government control of reconstruction and post/conflict economic development.

Simultaneously, economic development cannot be a substitute for the devolution of power or for human security. Indeed, for equitable and locally owned development, devolution of power is essential so that local communities benefit and are better able to benefit from the end of the war, and harvest the local agricultural and fisheries wealth in the north east, and benefit from the large-scale infrastructure projects. The military mindset that led to the concentration of power in the centre in Colombo under the Presidential Task force for Reconstruction in the North and East headed by Basil Rajapaksa, the President’s brother, is counter-productive to locally owned and equitable economic development, public-private partnerships, and entrepreneurship by the local business community in peace time.

The Military Foot Print and Civil-Military Relations

The first step in getting post-conflict economic development right would be unraveling of the vestiges of the war economy of terror, taxation and rent-seeking by those who carry guns, and ensuring that development is planned, owned and implemented by local people and communities in the north and east. Clearly, the trend to promote military businesses in the post/conflict zone that economist Dr. Muttukrishna Sarvanandan has identified in the field of transport and small shops and businesses along the A-9 , coupled with the need for security clearance for traders and business persons going to the north is counter-productive to locally entrepreneurship and conflict sensitive post conflict economic regeneration.

There appears to be a new form of militaristic development ongoing in various parts of the country. In the heart of Colombo, poor and vulnerable people, mainly from the minority communities who were displaced and impoverished by the war are being displaced and many of the city’s old and beautiful trees cut down at this time in the name of city beautification, security and “development”. The Urban Development Authority of the city headed by the Defense Secretary has authorized destruction of “unauthorized structures” even as in other parts of the country land is being appropriated in the name of development.

What Sri Lanka needs at this time is people-centered development that promotes human security and reconciliation among diverse ethno-religious communities. Yet, the military footprint is heavy along the A-9 and armed personnel carry out various businesses which constitute mission and mandate creep, inappropriate for the military in a democracy such as Sri Lanka where there has never been such a precedent.  At this time there needs to be rethinking and down-sizing of the military and other armed forces rather than the expansion of military businesses similar to the Pakistan or Indonesian military model. Such a precedent would impact negatively on the structure and culture of the Sri Lanka armed forces and tarnish their reputation in the long run. The excessive security for political figures and Ministers and the check point culture in Colombo is also costly and detrimental to the image of the armed forces, many of whom are increasingly uncomfortable with their new role of policing civilians in the absence of a clear terrorism threat.  The militant model of post/conflict development may elicit a back-lash and make “terrorism” a self-fulfilling prophesy.

For proper economic development the remnants of the war economy that functioned on terror and taxation with those who carried guns extorting and taxing the population that was apparent in the north and east during the conflict years must be fully undone. Local private sector and entrepreneurs need to have the space to start their businesses and provide employment. Currently, though the A-9 is open public transport to and from Jaffna is not done by civilian or business community. Rather, the Air Force operates flights to Jaffna and the buses are controlled by a government allied Tamil politician who still has a paramilitary outfit. The High Security zones which in Jaffna occupy prime real estate in the centre of town as well as, prime agricultural land around Pallay need to be released for agricultural and urban renewal. Land appropriation for tourism development in the post/conflict zones in increasingly a feature of the current development push that would cause new conflicts and the return of old. The road constructed by the Navy through Willpattu national part for a proposed tourist resort on the northern border of the park at the behest of the all powerful Minister for Economic Development and Tourism, is a case in point. The practice of claiming prime lands for “high security zones” that morph into super-luxury tourism development projects, with little regard for the local populations who were displaced is apparent in other parts of the county, particularly the post/conflict zones where rent seeking behavior by some national and local politicians and associated crony capitalists is counter-productive to the government’s stated agenda of sustainable peace building through equitable development.

Learning from the Past:  Ensuring Local Ownership of Development

Unless development is demilitarized in northeast “terrorism” may ironically become a self-fulfilling prophesy in post-conflict Sri Lanka, as Basque Anthropologist, Joseba Zulaika has noted in his perceptive book on how the international “terrorism discourse” post 9/11 has become a self-fulfilling prophesy. The current development trust, with emphasis on infra-structure and road is top down, rather than people-centric. Citizens have yet to see the peace dividend materialize, and funds spent on the war machinery may be diverted towards education and health sectors which suffered considerably in the conflict years. Post/conflict development must be done to defuse the old land and resource conflicts and forms of state-sponsored discrimination against minorities that were at the root of the 30 year old war in the north east. The right to development that was stymied when the Accelerated Mahaveli development scheme did not benefit the minority dominated Vanni regions is an example of the need to avoid skewed development and the reality and perception of discrimination in various forms.

The fruits of post-conflict development in Sri Lanka must accrue to local communities in the post-conflict zones and resource conflicts need to be addressed in a transparent manner to ensure that local communities benefit from development that enables reconciliation. This is particularly important for people who have been caught between, displaced and traumatized by the 30 years of war. In the context, post conflict reconstruction assistance provided by foreign donors must have good governance conditionalities and be conflict-sensitive. There must be provision to ensure transparent tracking, monitoring and evaluation of aid projects to ensure that funds reach their intended beneficiaries rather than politicians, paramilitaries, rent-seekers and crony capitalists that thrive in war economies and post/conflict scenarios.

In the medium term then, the following conflict transformation challenges are apparent:

  1. Demilitarizing democracy and governance and actual implementation of the 13th amendment to the constitution, particularly in the north and east. This requires restoration of development and reconstruction decision making, planning and policy to civilian administrative structures in the north and east, while enabling capacity building of local government institutions and decision making in the provincial and district levels in post conflict regions.
  2. Divesture of the High Security Zones to enable internally displaced people (IDPs) to return and settle in their villages and urban centres, as well as, disarming of the Tamil paramilitary groups linked to the state now that the LTTE threat no longer exists on the ground.
  3. Dealing with the Tamil Diaspora since Diasporas often tend to be far more intransigent and unwilling to compromise than those who remained at home. Sinhala and Tamil ultra-nationalism is most visible at this time from the respective Diasporas, and there is an emerging disconnect between the Diaspora leaders and those in-country who wish to compromise and co-exist with “other” communities.
  4. Doing development right by ensuring good governance, and balancing a political solution for the minorities with economic development for all. Demonstrating that win-win solution is possible and that the progress and development of the minorities need not be a loss for the majority community.
  5. Restoring the Institutions that ensure accountability to the people such as the Bribery Commission and the Human Rights Commission which have become defunct on account of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, and setting up of a special mechanism for resolution of resources conflicts in the North and East.
  6. International aid donors will need to co-ordinate and target their assistance to maximize assistance to the people. In the context the EU may wish to revisit its decision to revoke GSP Plus concessions that would hurt the business community and poor women in the garment sector, while IMF would need to be clear about its aid conditionality to ensure greater accountability from the State.

Dr. Darini Rajasingham Senanayake

  • xman

    darini, the people who would have voted for the DNA have been slaughtered or kept in the camps or have been forced into exile… i guess that is how the ‘moderates’ win in sri lanka – kill, imprison, or banish those you don’t agree with…

  • http://Magerata.wordpress.com Magerata

    I seem to get no where with your article. When ever I begin to see the light you throw me back to the darkness. May be it is my English or perhaps I need to read again under better circumstances. But I get the idea that you want a better Sri Lanka.
    My feeling is that we all need to recognize this is a small island, thus one entity, rather than small pockets of whatever. If we are to grow, the whole island need to prosper, north and east as well as south and west. Also not forgetting the middle, where another group of minorities have been waiting to be integrated in to the main stream for a quite a while. Whole country suffered under the war and whole country need to recover.
    If ”one man’s terrorist may be another’s liberation fighter” is valid as you seem to think, then demilitarization need to wait. We do not want liberation fighters to become terrorists again. Military could also be a good source of labor and means of development, providing dual roles. Just because war is over you can’t simply send the military home.
    Your dislike for Karuna and his group may not be shared by all, even those who dislike him. He is an (s)elected member of parliament and he might be still scared of liberation fighters. I think his army will disappear, in good time.
    Education and economic development is a must but if there are no infrastructure to handle them nor roads to carry the commerce, they will go nowhere. I hope the government will employ some knowledgeable people and get advise from or work with unbiased organizations in the field of post conflict development. I really cannot understand why almost everyone, including you, still trying to draw lines between Sinhalese and Tamil, rather than bringing all together as Sri Lankans.
    Lastly may I ask why Malaysian or Singaporean models may not be enough?
    Anyway you got me exercising my gray matter, thanks.

  • Ravi

    What we have to be careful is somebody turning the military in the north and east against the power in the centre as a quick fix to the excess military and excess power in the centre.

  • niranjan

    margerata,

    The line dividing the Sinhalese and the Tamils is a deep one. The end of the war does not mean that the line has disappeared. The Government needs to study the roots of the problem and find a solution. Economic development may not be enough. Adequate devolution of power is imperative. Now is the best time to do it as the Government has a near two thirds majority in Parliament.

  • Ravi

    Magerata, We are Srilankans, Tamil Srilankans. May be you are Sinhala only not Srilankan. That’s why your mind is set in that way. We can’t even bring all the Tamils together. How can we bring all the Srilankans together.

    Please don’t think the unthinkable. Tibelisum at its best in the UK at the moment, after election.

  • ranjit de mel

    i find mrs d.r.s. article o.k,but : – there were many conflicts in s.l. from independence.today the ethnic conflict is the main issue.the politics of s.l. was mainly determined by the so called elites.these elites were not only sinhale but also tamils specially from the northen province.even the leftist leaders belonged to this so called elites(jvp is a national socialist party,and premadasa was a exception.)all these leaders from different parties never worked for the well being of the masses.sinhale,tamil,muslims all were discriminated.majority of the s.l.ans did not get the benefits from the so called development strategy of these elites.these governments from 1948 did not have a development plan for the upliftment of the quality of life of all s.l.ans.MRS. D.R.S. WHAT I WANT TO STRESS IS WE IN S.L. WE HAVE THE SAME PROBLEMS,IRRESPECTIVE OF OUR ETHNICITY.THESE PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN CREATED BY THE ELITES IN S.L. AND ONE COULD ALSO SAY THE DEVELOPED WESTERN COUNTRIES.A SOLUTION FOR OUR MANY PROBLEMS CANNOT BE THE WAY THE TAMIL ELITES WANT.THE PRESENT PRESIDENT M.R. WHO DOES NOT BELONG TO THESE E.FAMILIES BELEIVES THE BEST SOLUTION FOR OUR PROBLEMS SHOULD BE THROUGH DEVELOPMENT SUITABLE FOR S.l. .HE SAYS FOR HIM THERE IS NO MAJORITYIES NOR MINORITIES.THAT MEANS HIS POLITICAL PROGRAM IS FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL S.L.ANS.I WAS,IS AND WOULD BE FOR FEDERAL STATE FORM OF DEVOLUTION OF POWER, ALLTHOUGH KETESH L. WHOM I USED TO MEET ATLEAST 2TIMES A YEAR ADVICED ME NOT TO INSIST ON A FEDERAL S. FORM FOR THE TIMR BEING.IAM FOR A FEDERAL STATE FORM IN S.L. NOT BECAUSE OF THE RUBBISH HOMELAND THEORY OF MANY TAMILS,BUT BECAUSE THE PEOPLE LIVING IN A CERTAIN PROVINCE SHOULD BE ABLE TO DECIDE THE WAY THEY WOULD LIKE TO DEVELOPE THEIR PROVONCE TOGETHER WITH THE CENTRAL GOVERNMENT,ACCORDING TO THEIR MENTALITY AND CULTURE.BUT THIS DOES NOT MEAN ANY PROVINCE HAS GOT THE RIGHT TO STOP OTHERS BELONGING TO ANOTHER COMMUNITY WITH A DIFFERENT MENTALITY OR A CULTUR TO HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS AS THEIR OWN PEOPLE.SPECIALLY TNA HAS TO UNDERSTAND THIS.A SOLUTION FOR OUR PROBLEMS SHOULD BE A SOLUTION FOR ALL S.L.ANS.THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST PARTY THE JVP IS ALLMOST DEAD,THIS MAKES IT EASIER FOR THE PRESIDENT TO ACHIEVE WHAT HE WANTS.
    RANJIT DE MEL BERLIN/COLOMBO

  • Yoganathan

    It seems to me -the Sinhalese are heavily militarizing the Tamils Homelands.

    Their behaviour is that of conquerors – superior, demanding, arrogant, insulting, indifferent to the feelings of Tamils, contemptuous of their language, religion and way of life.

    The The Sinhalese , new Colonial Masters will not see themselves as guests but as those who now live there by right of conquest, under the protection of “their” government and army.

    So “ liberation “ of the North-East of Sri Lanka is disingenuous, specious, even cynically deceitful, and contemptuous……

  • Gunalan

    The reality is that Tamil homeland is being occupied and the Sinhalese are trying to settle under the protection of their army and their Sri Lankan government

    The Tamil people who are now displaced in their own Tamil Homelands and deprived of the livelihoods by the savagely repressive regime !!

    Tamil people have a genuine international claim that they are undergoing genocide ever since the British colonists handed over their sovereign state to the majority Sinhala nation.

    The decimation of the minority Tamil population by selective killings and the refugee exodus due to SL government aided pogrom against the Tamil civilians is a fact of life in SL for the past 60 years

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Yoganathan & Gunalan,

    We can protest about militarization of the North and East; we can protest about state sponsored Sinhala only colonisation programs, but we should welcome those Sinhalese who want to come and settle in N&E by their free will. This, every Tamil must make it clear when commenting on this topic! It is the general perception of the Sinhala that the Tamils are racists that they are ok to settle in the South but protest when the Sinhalese settle in the North & East.

    We should expose the majority aggression but should not portray ourselves as embodiment of racism that we are not. We are insecure as we are an insignificant minority but we should try and see things in perspective. We should work towards implementing the Tamil language provision nation-wide and eschew the idea of a nation with a nation; this will bring us nowhere! The Sinhalese settling in N&E is not an issue, but whether the Tamils get equal treatment or not is the issue; this, we need to expose by moving the Tamil polity to the centre and thus influencing the Sinhala centre to work on our behalf. This is not an easy task, but it is the only one that is achievable!

  • Gunalan

    Burning_Issue

    You are naïve

    Tamils feel that they are insecure in their traditional homeland. Anti-Tamil cultural events are on the rise in the Tamil homeland

    . Young people have been given drugs in order to ruin their future, and many other anti-social events have taken place with the support of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

    The Tamil paramilitaries, which are supporting the government, help these anti-social activities.

    Kidnappings, raping, and killings are back to normal in the Tamil areas.

    In the recent past that was common during the war time.

    This is the ground reality, in the Tamil areas, the Tamils are still a security threat in Colombo and other Sinhala areas.

    The Mahinda administration, so far, has not offered a political solution to the Tamils’ grievances.

    Rather, the government is making anti-Tamil activates, such as deploying Sinhala families, to occupy the residents and properties belonging to the Tamils, in the North, as how they do it in the East.

    They are building Buddhist shrines, establishing military camps, and deploying more troops in the Tamil areas.

  • SomewhatDisgusted

    Dear Gunalan,

    No Gunalan. You are being naive. The only way forward is to leave your emotions at home and think intelligently about how to make things better for the Tamil community. Please read this post here: http://www.groundviews.org/2010/05/07/jaffna-after-the-war-observations-by-a-visitor/#comment-18774

    cheers,
    /SD

  • wijayapala

    Dear Yoganathan and Gunalan,

    I don’t think that Burning_Issue would disagree with what you’re saying. The main difference though is that Burning_Issue is trying to find a way out of this mess, whereas you guys have not really come up with any ideas.

    What do you propose that we do about the Tamils’ suffering, that’s better than Burning_Issue’s ideas?

  • Yoganathan

    How how can anyone trust Sri Lankan government which has only one aim which is to wipe out all Tamils from the island and convert the rest to Budhism and force them become Sinhalese?

    The genocide continues as faster than ever before. Tamils are even not allowed to mourn for the anniversay of their dead children and families.

    The cemetaries are being destroyed, they are not allowed to hold any kind of memorial meetings etc. Basic rights of Tamils are being denied, their land, houses wealth are being taken away from them by the genocideal Sri Lanka every day. There are Sri Lankan army which is 100% Sinhalese, are harassing and subjugating each and every Tamil. 100,000 Army is in Jaffna for the population of 500,000.

    Do you expect any kind of guarantee and security for Tamils’ life and future under the govt of Sri Lanka, afterall what we have been through for 62+ years?

    Unless, Sinhalese abandon the myth of ‘mahavamsa’ theory, their mind will not accept Tamils as equal as Budhists? I remember reading that Mahavamsa says, even 10 Tamils lives are not equal to one Buddhist’s life.

    And the case of recent war it is 1000 10 Tamils lives are not equal to one Sinhalese life!!!!!!!

    Unless Tamils establish their own security, nation building and rebuild the infrastructure, they cannot live with peace and secure, which means self determination ie: separation.

    Tamil nation has all the criteria to go separate from Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka must be told to hold UN/independent supervised UN referendum for a separation, similar to what Tamil Diaspora did in the last few months.

  • Burning_Issue

    Dear Yaganathan,

    “Unless Tamils establish their own security, nation building and rebuild the infrastructure, they cannot live with peace and secure, which means self determination ie: separation.”

    With all due respect you; I do not disagree with you when you outline all the Tamil Grievances. But, I have not seen you outlining as to how you would go about achieving self-determination or separation. I assume that you live in one of the Western countries; how you would contribute towards this endeavour? Would you send your children to the battle front?

    Yes, the current regime is triumphalistic and behaving in such a way that is totally insensitive and recklessly not caring towards the Tamil people. I am not sure as to how long it will continue, but I see many Sinhala intellectuals have begun to voice against this regime; it is going to take time. We Tamils have responsibilities too; we must move the Tamil polity to the centre making it easy for the Sinhala centre, India, and International Community to strengthen over voice. Separation is not the answer to our issues but equality in terms of language, culture, and a sense of belonging with a suitable political structure is the answer.

  • Punitham

    ”Various international terrorism, conflict and peace building experts had predicted that the thirty-year war in the island, one of South Asia’s longest, would drag on for many years.”

    What they don’t realise is the combination of
    i.the draconianism of PTA,
    ii.impunity for all armed forces for crimes against Tamils,
    iii.the severe oppression of Tamils through various government institutions(judiciary included),
    iv.the condemnation of Tamils by a.geography to be in an island unable to flee(starting from 50s) across land borders like in many other countries of conflicts(the sea around Sri lanka holds a lot of evidence – partly eaten by sea creatures) and b.history to be lumped with a race exemplifying INTERNAL COLONIALISM
    v.”war-on-terror”
    vi.Bush’s appointment of Ban to escape the wrath of the outspoken
    vii. the geopolitics of many bilateral and multilateral relations on an island in a strategic location.
    viii. LTTE’s folly of not voting in Ranil

    Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka: Seeking a Transformative Way Out by Ashok K Behuria, Strategic Analysis, Vol. 30, No. 1, Jan-Mar 2006: ‘’…The long drawn out ethno-political conflict in Sri Lanka has been accepted as a serious challenge for scholars, activists, peace-makers and the expanding international community of professionals engaged in conflict-resolution/ management/ transformation …. It is time now, therefore, for scholars and analysts to isolate the issues that contribute to the conflict, to dwell upon the socio-economic and political context that precipitates lasting ethno-political division and to seek a transformative way out of the crisis.”

  • Punitham

    Re the previous posting:
    ‘Voting in Ranil’ is not for the prosperity of Tamils but to save their lives till a solution is found.

    Ranil went for ”peace taks” to get urgently needed foreign aid. GSP+ was, in the first place, granted for promised action in the future and not for conduct in the past. Hence the EU violated its own rules and regulations.

    If intergovernmental organisations(the UN and the Commonwealth) fulfil their human rights obligations, the world will be a totally different place.