A Critique of Political Fundamentalism in Sri Lanka

The mirror-like symmetries of dogmatic Sinhala and Tamil nationalism are occasionally remarked upon but not often pinned down. It is these interactive symmetries that constitute the amalgam which has hardened into the deadlock in the process of ethno-political reconciliation in post war Sri Lanka.

The core issue is that of political autonomy and power-sharing, on which the most moderate and well-mannered representatives of Tamil and Sinhala nationalism, Messrs. Sumanthiran and Udaya Gammanpila share a Manichean view. In the mindset of each, there exist only two alternatives this side of secession: the unitary and federal models. The two parliamentarians disagree only on the normative values they attach to each model. For the Sinhala nationalist, unitary equals good and federal equals bad, while for the Tamil nationalist, unitary is bad and federal is good. Neither accepts that a model may be good, acceptable or unavoidable at certain times and in certain places. Neither recognises that the best should not be the enemy of the good, while the good should not be the enemy of the feasible. Neither recognises that a reformist Third Way is the only way forward for Sri Lanka: that of centripetal devolution within a unitary state.

Both nationalisms regard the model they abhor as inevitably opening the door to secession and that which they prefer as the sole bulwark against secession. Sinhala nationalism regards the unitary state as the imperative safeguard against secession; Tamil nationalism ascribes the same value to the federal model. The JHU constituency views federalism as tantamount to secession or an antechamber to it; the Tamil nationalism vacillates between federalism as the sole alternative to secession and a desirable way-station to it.

Tamil nationalism ignores or underestimates the internal (Sri Lankan) reality, Sinhala nationalism ignores or underestimates the external one.

Moderate in their personal and political conduct, the discourse of this pair of Sinhala and Tamil parliamentary nationalist ideologues cannot be described as rational, realist or centrist. While their religious inspirations differ of course, a religious fundamentalist evangelism seems to underlie the worldview and inform the political discourses of both. Ironically, that is yet another commonality.

The affable TNA parliamentarian Mr MA Sumanthiran’s interview on YA-TV must be taken together with the essay he authored, definitively entitled ‘Self Determination: Myth and Reality’ in the Sunday Edition of Ceylon Today (July 29, 2012, p 9). Both article and interview bring into sharp relief the central dilemma of post-war nation-building and state-building, be it from above or below, by state and civil society, by this or any other administration.

That dilemma has long been understood as follows: the maximum autonomous political space the overwhelming majority on this island in a historically adversarial immediate neighbourhood feels safe to concede its strategically critical and vulnerable periphery, falls short of the minimum that the majority of the minority feels safe to accept.

This may be re-stated thus: the minimum degree of centripetal safety by means of a strong state with a single centre (unitary) that the ethnic majority in the island’s Southern two-thirds requires in the face of a historically and contemporaneously hostile mass across a narrow strip of water, falls short of the minimum degree of safety and dignity through guaranteed autonomous political space (federal) that the ethnic minority in the Northern area insists upon. This dilemma is rendered more complex by the fact that both sides are uncommitted to/ ambivalent about the existing attempt (of external provenance) at a constitutional bridging formula (13A).

Somewhere in the first half of his essay Mr Sumanthiran defines ‘internal self-determination’: “It is important to note that a people can, in the exercise of their right to self-determination decide to remain within a pre-existing state but choose the degree of autonomous self government within the framework of a sovereign state. This is known as internal self- determination.”

So, internal self-determination, in this definition, is not really internal in the sense that it has firm parametric constraints – guardrails, banisters or firewalls–that keep it confined and committed to the internal. In Tamil nationalism’s definition the ‘internal’ character of self determination is purely volitional and utterly elastic: “a people can, in the exercise of their right to self-determination decide to remain within a pre-existing state”. Note: ‘can’, not ‘shall’. They can, but are not obliged to and may not. Or they can today, but may choose not to, tomorrow. What’s ‘internal’ about that?

Furthermore, the definition of internal is the decision of the relevant collective and has no larger or less subjective constitutional or legal constraint, because “the people can…choose the degree of autonomous self-government within the framework of a sovereign state”. Which ‘people’ is he talking about? Going by his definition, the ‘people’ that does the choosing is by no means the entire citizenry of a state, a country. It is that ‘people’ which perceives itself as a people or a nation bearing the right of self determination. It is entirely self-referential. Thus, quite irrespective of the basic law or the adjudication of the highest courts or the democratically ascertained wishes of the country’s citizenry as a whole, any segment of a country’s citizenry which perceives and declares itself as a ‘people’ have the right to “choose the degree of autonomous self government within the framework of a sovereign state”. Most dangerously, the need for legitimacy based upon the consent of the majority of the citizenry is peremptorily obviated. This, according to the moderate Mr Sumanthiran, “is known as internal self-determination”.

Much more important is the bottom-line of the moderate TNA’s most moderate ideologue. Here is the concluding paragraph of Mr Sumanthiran’s article:

“…the Tamil people in Sri Lanka have been subjected to discrimination within the model of a unitary state where they have been denied the right to express their right to self-determination within an internal arrangement, such as a federal government. In such a situation the continued denial of the existence of the right to self-determination itself may give rise to the right to unilateral cessation as an expression of that right. Therefore, it is the recognition of the right to self-determination of the Tamil people and not its denial that will help preserve the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka from claims to the right of cessation. Thus it is a sine qua non that the right to self-determination is recognized and the nature of the state is restructured to enable meaningful exercise of internal self-determination if the right to external self-determination is to be avoided.”

The argument is that the right of internal self determination is denied within– and by virtue of being within– a unitary state, i.e. a strong central state. It is sufficiently ensured only within and by some form of federal state, and if the right of self determination is not recognised by such a federal arrangement in place of a unitary one, it is justifiable and likely that the right of external self determination–the right to unilateral secession–will be activated.

In other words, either Sri Lanka stops refusing to recognise the right of the Tamil people to self-determination, proceeds to recognise that right and restructure the state accordingly or the assertion by the Tamil people of external self determination as the right to unilateral secession may be triggered.  More: it is no less than “a sine qua non”, i.e. an essential, indispensable precondition for the non-assertion of the right to external self determination in the form of unilateral secession, that Sri Lanka must accept and recognise the right of the Tamil people to internal self-determination and restructure the state accordingly, moving outside of the unitary model to a some sort of federal model. The bottom-line of the TNA’s evangelist is “abandon the unitary state, convert to federalism and genuflect before the right of Tamil self-determination or ye shall face the wrath of unilateral secession!”

Where Tamil nationalism in the form of the TNA or any other party may go with federalism, is clearly discernible in yet another statement in Mr Sumanthiran’s essay: The claim of the Tamils to self-determination is also based on the fact that prior to colonization they were a nation, exercising sovereignty over a defined and separate territory. Consequently, they claim that the right to independence from colonial rule was a separate right that vested with the Tamil People.”

Mr. Sumanthiran must tell us why the historically fuzzy and contested pre-colonial situation (pre-Portuguese, Dutch or British?) is of greater significance than the more transparent reality (examined exhaustively by the Soulbury Commissioners) that prevailed at the moment of de-colonization and independence, following centuries of social evolution.

The grievance that this leading moderate ideologue of Tamil nationalism has is not the specific form and accessories –the ideological software –of Sri Lanka’s unitary state. It is not the insufficiency of devolution within a unitary model but the very model and mainframe of the unitary state itself. Tamil nationalism is not fighting merely for reforms (13 A or 13 Plus) which would make for the full implementation of the Constitution or enhanced devolution within the unitary frame. It is committed to change that would require a two-thirds majority at a plebiscite –though the Tamil representatives see no such need for the democratic consent of the country’s citizens, only by those of a sub-unit (a single ethnicity in a single province or a non-contiguous area of two provinces).

Even if Sri Lanka were to adopt the unitary French Constitution with its philosophy of secularism and equal republican citizenship, or the Philippine model of a unitary state with regional autonomy, the Tamil nationalists would regard it as denying internal self determination because it remained unitary not federal, and would find it justifiable to exercise external self-determination i.e. unilateral secession, at a time of their choosing. In the gospel according to Sumanthiran, the unitary state is damned. This is political and ideological fundamentalism.

The ideologues of Tamil nationalism, including the genial Mr. Sumanthiran, must inform us of how many –and which–countries recognize within their own territories (and not as a foreign policy issue) the right of self determination, external or internal, as he demands that Sri Lanka must. He must also tell us which countries among those that do have federal systems, recognize or accept the right of self determination, external or internal.

The conversion to federalism would suffice as evidence of the acceptance of the right to internal self-determination, implies Mr Sumanthiran. However, not all of his fellow Tamil nationalists may be on the same hymn sheet. Were the Sri Lankan state and citizenry to repent their adherence to the false deity of the unitary state and penitently convert to federalism, some of Mr Sumanthiran’s political and ideological brethren may find this inadequate since it does not explicitly bear witness to the right of internal self-determination and may consequently call down upon us the fire and brimstone of external self-determination, i.e. secession.

Mr Sumanthiran most zealously thumps a judgment by the Canadian Supreme Court with regard to Quebec. Recalling as some of us do the imposition of the draconian War Powers Act when a few dozen Quebecois secessionists resorted to terrorism and kidnapping, one cannot help speculate on whether the court’s discourse on internal self determination of Quebec would have been quite so generously liberal had Canada been a little island separated by a strip of water from a very much vaster France, rather than a huge landmass on a different continent safely across the Atlantic ocean.

No matter. What the Canadian Supreme Court judgment on Quebec has to do with the courts, laws, Constitution and sovereignty of the citizenry of Sri Lanka is not immediately apparent to me, but the fact that he represents the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, in Sri Lanka, rather than the Quebecois in Canada does not seem immediately apparent to Mr. Sumanthiran either.

  • Muslim

    Analogous to two parties in a boat sailing on rough waters. One wants to throw the other out and control everything. The other wants to control his part of the boat and row it in the direction he wants. neither option will work.

    We need to unite and row in unision to reach our final destination. Compromise, Unity and Teamwork is what is required.

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    Dayan,
    You have explained the current national dilemma precipitated by two extremes-one Tamil and the other Sinhala- of the Sri Lankan polity, quite well. The solution however lies between the positions of these two extremes. Extreme positions have created problems that led to a tragic and brutal war and the consequences. Extreme positions should be eschewed by both sides, as they are not authentic in terms of what the ‘Silent’majority wants/ needs.

    Why should we be struck with specific words and phrases, that have come to mean different things to different people and then get embroiled in largely academic/semantic controversies.

    What the Tamils want within Sri Lanka are simply:

    1. Equal rights, unabridged in practice.
    2. Equal opportunities all over the island, based on principles of merit.
    3. Security to person and property wherever they choose to live in the country.
    4. Unabriged rights to be Tamils, with everything it implies- language, culture, education and religion-wherever they choose to live, without fear or favour.
    5. Right to communicate with the government and its services in Tamil.
    6. Right to manage their communal affairs- political,educational, development etc.,- to the greatest extent possible in areas where they are preponderant.
    7. Mechanisms to permit them to participate in the affairs of Sri Lanka at the hughest levels.
    8. Right to continue singing the national anthem, in the words permitted in Nallathamby’s officially sanctioned translation.

    Compelling Tamils to sing the national anthem-inspired by Tagore- full of meaning, emotion and beauty, in a language they do not understand is stupid and will not help repair the fractured national polity.

    I may not have covered all grounds, but I feel the Tamil demands should be spelled out in simple language and in unambiguous terms such as these, which can be understood not only by the Sinhalese and Muslims, but also by the Tamils themselves.

    Ultimately, these are the rights all citizens in a multi-communal and multi-religion nation, aspire and should have. Further, there should be laws that strictly forbid discrimination against any community or individual based on their identity. Any act that is construed by a court of law as injurious to communal relations in Sri lanka, should be punishable by the highest penalty. I am sure these measures will go a along way in reassuring all minorities, including the disadvantaged sub-groups within the three major communities.

    The discussions and debate should be on how we can set about satisfying Tamil and other minority needs as listed above or expanded to include other concerns. A mechanism should be evolved to bring in and highlight the voice of the moderates- Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims- in our national polity. The extreme elements have dominated the national political scene long enough and caused more than enough damage.

    A ‘National Public Commission ‘ mandated to explore and recommend viable solutions may be the answer. The president and parliament must commit themselves to implement the essence of the recommendations after parliamentary and presidential approval. If a national referendum is required, the people should be educated on the merits of what is being proposed and permitted to express their opinion.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • Dr Dayan Jayatilleka

      Agreed!

      • http://tagnos.wordpress.com Agnos

        DJ,

        If you agree with the list of demands by Dr.Narendran, what is preventing the government that you serve from unilaterally implementing it? It is not Udaya Gammanpila and his JHU–marginal as they are– that is preventing it; it is the man who appointed you–Mahinda Rajapaksa–who in his very core is a racist who cannot bring himself to do it, despite enjoying absolute power in the country.

        People like Gamanpila and Weerawansa are convenient toys for your thuggish leader to maintain the status quo.

        But one never expects such truth telling from you.

    • cincinnatus

      IF Narendran Rajasingham’s proposals are implemented honestly and speedily the very cry for a separate dispensation for the Tamils may well disappear.

      • cincinnatus

        IF DJ agrees with Narendran’s proposals he should return to Sri Lanka and seek to persuade/agitate his masters to start implementing them. It is in fact his solemn patriotic duty.He can even try using his considerble rhetorical powers on the paranoids in the JHU and make them compromise in the search for peace and prosperity for the Sinhala people as well as for the Tamils. In order to do this the governnment does not even need parliamentary select committees or the permision of the TNA or the USA!

    • Off the Cuff

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Well said sir.
      You have my support and I am sure that of the majority as well

    • InSights

      The proposals of Narendran need to be put to the Tamil people. As things are, they are not being allowed to ‘see’ anything other than what the TNA is allowing them to see. The TNA (just like the LTTE) will attack Dayan as a chauvanist and Narendran as a stooge. Even the national newspapers don’t seem to think it necessary to give publicity to moderate Tamil voices.

    • Dev

      Dayan,

      Why not get your government to start with the national anthem -the easiest of the list.

      The list wil never be implemented and is too broad , its like praying for “world peace”
      It makes everyone happy and seems like a nice list but at the end of the day it means nothing !

      • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        Dev,

        I agree totally with your first sentence. An unneccessary additional complication has been foolishly created about the national anthem!

        I have spelled out in detail what need to be resolved and hence it appears broad. Instead of talking in general terms about problems, it is better to confront specific issues within ‘the problem’. The details of what constitute the problem, have to be understood by everyone. This comprehension will lead to emergence of solutions.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • Dev

      The national anthem in Tamil has EXISTED as long as the Sinhala one !
      They were both accepted at the same time !
      The Tamil version was not something that was shoved down our throats by the Indians or done to appease the LTTE.

      The funny thing is growing up, I knew the Tamil version but didn’t think about it as significant–by removing it it has only made it become an issue !!

      Sometimes somethings are best left untouched and untold !

  • kaush

    what exactly is the problem that these tamil racists trying sove by creating a tamil ghetto? if the problem is that so called tamil leaders want to behave like a majority with a similar faulty system, then tamil gheto will solve their problem. if not given the fact that most of the tamils live out side of this mythical ghetto, by creating it how will solve their problems? Also why should only tamils are allowed exclusive rights, is it because they were successfully in terrorising us for 30 years? dont other races have their own grievances and aspirations ? and does tamil ones supersede everything else…why not we create a sytem that will benefit all irrespective of differences?

    • Piranha

      What you have conveniently failed to mention was the fact of the Sinhala state terrorism against the Tamils in the first 30 years after independence. The peaceful clamour for equal rights was brutally put down by the Sinhala state. Your failure to grasp the core issues that let to the non violent and later violent struggles of the Tamils is pathetic.

      • Raj

        As a tamil from Sri Lanka I am sicking tired of explaning sinhales the way tamils were treated before 1983. its seems sinhales have a selective amnesia.

  • cincinnatus

    This is a fine incisive analysis of the dilemmas facing both the Tamil people and the Sinhalese people on the ideological front.DJ however forgets one important variable:The standing army.If limited autonomy — for example 13A++ –and the new Tamil leadership takes advantage of it and moves further in excersizing its “right to self-deterimination” the central government can invade the North or Northeast as the case may be and reassert its authority(Where have we heard this story before?)Presumably the emerging Tamil leadership will undestand this too.
    This indeed is one weakness in the argument for any form of limited –or for that matter unlimited autonoomy– for the Tamil regions:the central government of the Island, manned as it always will be by people informed with some form of the Mahavamsa mentality can always exercise control — financialy and militarily — over the autonmous regions.
    In the event the the central government uses its standing army (it is already standing very prominently in the Tamil regions!)to ssert its authority and defend its interests it can can only succeed.It is a ganja-dream to think that Tamil nadu will mobilize its martial castes once again to invade Sinhaladip.The most the Tamil state in India can do is to parade an overblown verbal warfare.
    The flaw in the argument of the Tamil leadership is that these matters are settled by presenting a good legal brief,with proper precedents and citing relevant — or even irrelevant–case law and etc.This has aloways been the problem with Tamil politics: Successful lawyers take over the leadership (GGP,SJVC) and present arguments imagining that they are addressing an impartial judge who will be persuaded by the cogency of their arguments!Ultimately these issues are settled by practical power politics and the military.

    • InSights

      Very true. They are blinded by the brilliance of (their) legal arguments. Of course they look to the US and some of its European followers who seek stability for themselves through destabilising others to help them achieve their ends. It’s all about capturing power not justice or a better life for the people.

  • Sirimana

    Author conveniently omits the option of Tamil Eelam and describes about federal solution. Good try, but sad to note however a person called Nicolo Machiveli spilt the beans on this kind of tactics roughly about 500 years ago!!

  • John

    MAS “…the continued denial of the existence of the right to self-determination itself may give rise to the right to unilateral cessation as an expression of that right…”

    People saw this unilateral cessation for 30 odd years, de facto state of terrorists, ended only at Nadikadal Lagoon in may 2009, with (quote Mr. Anton Balasingham at 2002 press conference) “President & Prime Minister of state of Eelam” found himself skull broken in a mud hole.

    So, what do this selfish Ceylon Tamil politicians say? Clearly they have only 02 options,

    1. Join hands with Sinhala & Muslim majority & be apart of GOSL (of both blue & green) & live in one unitary state of Sri Lanka & work 24 X & for the wellbeing of remaining Ceylon Tamils in Sri Lanka, like Muslims & Tamils of Indian origin or,

    2. Re start separatist war & see the result.

    What would be the most beneficial to poorest of poor Ceylon Tamils remaining in north who could not find greener pastures overseas due to poverty ( & not forgetting over 50% of Ceylon Tamils now live in South with Sinhala people) ?

    Don’t these politicos who visit North of SL only to do politics understand if they take 02nd option,the War, that Ceylon Tamils would get wiped out in Toto in another separatist war ?

    If US$ of Diaspora Terrorists rule the roost of Tamil politics, then only gods can save innocent Ceylon Tamils live in north of Lanka & the unborn.

    • Newton

      Hi John,

      There is a 3rd option as well and Sumanthiran was indirectly mentioned and Dayan said the same as follows: Sinhala nationalism ignores or underestimates the external one.

      The 3rd option may come from external factor such as UN, induce by US, UK, Norway and India and that is call letting the Tamils decide about their fate: Also known as ‘self determination’.

      For fool like you and perhaps me might think another war but the fact is East Timor, Kosova, Eritrea and South Sudan all come into existence this way.

      The only gorilla war for secession that won against Ethiopia by the Eritrean rebels had to come to a conclusion by the UN held voting on self determination.

      Dr RN discussed about the National Anthem. The result of forcing the Tamils to use Sinhala Anthem is that the local ‘Sri Lankan’ Tamils in London’s New Maldan protested at the HSBC bank to display Sri Lankan flag to indicate they are ‘world local bank’. The protest led the withdrawal of the flag. What Gota and his brothers achieved was this.

      I fear of few factors:

      1. The Tamil Nadu will send 40 MPs in two years time to Indian Parliaments who will decide the fate of Sri Lanka.

      2. The continues Chinese influence will make both majority and minority peoples happy for completely opposite reasons.

      3. The crucial west opinion will depend on the India and she will try her best to prevent the China’s influence and at one point if she fails the unexpected will result.

  • Saro

    We have been having 64 years of ‘unitary state’ since independence. What has happened to the country and the people? Destruction, war and animosity among the communities and poverty and misery to the masses. Does Dr Dayan Jayathilake prescribe more of the same or adoption of a different model successfully experimented in other multi-ethnic countries?

    What Mr. Sumanthiran explains is the international requisite for internal self-determination in the absence of any justifiable and reasonable treatment of ethnic minorities by the ethnic majority that controls the power base at the centre with the facilitation of mono-ethnic military and police. Even at the Provincial Council level the governor, again appointed by the centre is an ex-army commander who rules like a colonial viceroy. Under the ‘unitary model’ the people of a province is denied democracy to elect their PC and others are forced to go to the polls.

  • Saro

    Canada allows French speaking people in Quebec Province the right to self determination. This is a check on the leaders of English speaking majority to treat them on par with themselves. In fact, the con-fedaral system is so fair that a French speaking Prime Minister was elected and also the ethnic minority voted against secession. In Sri Lanka, though both Tamils and Muslims fought for independence only Sinhala-Buddhists can be elected to high offices. In UK, too, with unitary system in reality with Scottish Parliament with few devolved powers in justice, education, agriculture, health, fisheries and forestry, economic development and limited income tax allow right to self determination.

    • Off the Cuff

      “In Sri Lanka, though both Tamils and Muslims fought for independence only Sinhala-Buddhists can be elected to high offices.”

      Why what is the Legal Impediment?

      Don’t write Rubbish Saro

      • Saro

        Off the Cuff,
        You must ask the electorates of Sri Lanka or those politicians and Buddhist monks who arouse communal feelings why they always elect Sinhala-Buddhists as presidents and prime ministers and not me. I merely state what has the reality whereas other countries like India and Singapore could appoint or elect presidents from minority communities.

    • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      Saro,

      Despite, the then French President Charles D’Gaule’s words, “Viva Le Quebec!” on Canadian soil, the French Canadians, did not fight any war for separation.(Incidentally, he was immediately bundled out of Canada!). Canada, a huge land mass-almost a continent- with a very small population, rich in resources, a very short history, nature of its citizenry and its political maturity, was able to deal succesfully with the the Quebec issue. The cry for independent Quebec is today that of the few.

      Sri Lanka is different. Here it is an issue of two ancient people and also largely ancient immigrants, who are very much related to each other in many ways, one a majority and the other a minority, contending for ownership in total or in part of the island. Her size-a small island hardly noticeable in the world map and a peoples who think that they are special, she is special and both are at the centre of the universe- a typically island mindset- is different. Her very long history, to the extent it has been understood and also deliberately misunderstood, is also different. Canada is a nation of recent immigrants, compared to Sri Lanka. The original inhabitants of Canada- the native Indians and Eskimos, have not demanded independence and remain very marginalized. It is two groups of comparatively recent immigrants- the English and the French- who were/are involved in the issue of independent Quebec. They are not burdened by historical memories and myths, as we are. Canada cannot be a realistic model for Sri Lanka. The judgements of the Canadian courts have also little relevance for Sri Lanka.

      The long war fought in Sri Lanka over thirty years by the LTTE + other militant groups and defeated at great cost to Sri Lanka in general and the Tamil people in particular, is a significant departure from the Canadian situation. The fear of India as a potential threat to the independent existence of Sri Lanka, is not only a historical reality, but a much feared historical reality even today- which is very much wished by the Tamil politicians and vociferous section of Tamils. The existance of a large mass of Tamils across the Palk strait in India, does not help either. Further, the fact that the Tamil militants were trained and armed by India, yet strokes understandable fears among the Sinhalese.

      These are facts that have to be dealt in Sri Lanka. Refusal to recognize these realities or call them ‘irrational’, will not help obliterate a very much real trust deficit. Sambanthan’s call the day before yesterday that the Tamils must vote for his party in the Eastern PC elections to prove not only their support, but also to invite external intervention, will not bridge the enormous trust deficit that exists today.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      • Saro

        Dr Rajasingham,

        I merely answered Dr Dayan Jayatilleke’s question “Mr. Sumanthiran, must inform us of how many –and which–countries recognize within their own territories (and not as a foreign policy issue) the right of self determination, external or internal..”.

        I also agree with your 8 points that majority of Tamil speaking people want to bring about peace in Sri Lanka. But they cannot be anything more than just dreams. For exaple, as minister of languages DEW Gunasekere tried to induce Sinhala speaking government servants to learn Tamil as well to reply to letters received in it but once they received Rs.25,000 they forgot all that they learnt. He even went to India to convince his Communist counter parts that he would resolve the language problem once and for all. Later Vasudeva Nanayakara headed the same ministry and said there are not enough dual-language government servants or type writers to reply Tamils in their language. Mono-ethnic military and police in Tamil areas force people to sign reports written in Sinhalese. Unless you repeal Sinhala Only Act no amount of cosmetic measures will make any change to the institutionalised racism.

        Dr Jayatillaka advises the government to continue employing heads of paramilitaries that abduct, beat and extra-judicially execute journalists and Tamil/Muslim youths and maintain a good relationship with India to ward off the criticisms of Human Rights Organisations and western countries. The do-gooders want to manipulate the opinions of the international community and not interested in legislating internally to maintain law and order or bring about equality among the communities.

  • Rajan

    The main thrust of Dayan’s argument is the fear of Tamil nadu factor for not giving federal state to Tamils. Until recently, the Srilankan Tamils were proud saying they were Srilankan Tamils and this may have even caused some disgust among the Tamils in Tamilnadu and other places. If this is not enough for Sihalese to trust the Tamils or they were ignorent about this fact and ultimately led to 200,000 Tamil deaths and about a million forced out of the country, you have no argument.

    • Off the Cuff

      Rajan,

      You called yourselves Sri Lankan Tamils to distinguish yourselves from Tamil Nadu Tamils.

      Today you call yourselves Eezham Tamils to maintain that difference. Was it not because you consider yourselves superior amongst the Tamils as you claim to speak pure unadulterated Tamil that Tamil Nadu Tamils do not speak?

      Only those Tamils who left Sri Lanka and went to the closest refuge can claim that they were forced to leave. People who run due to fear takes the quickest and shortest route to safety.

      The rest are all opportunists who used a situation to seek greener pastures, that they could not hope to have gone to, at any other time.

      So now 200,000 Tamils died?
      As time goes on, the death toll rises exponentially, even though there is no war.

      According to the UN, an unknown number of Tamil Children died.
      8000+ survived, but that was termed the “Tip of the Iceberg”.

      Were any of YOUR children amongst the dead or were they safe in Canada, UK, France, Australia etc whilst those in Lanka as young as 9 years were forced to carry a gun and fight a war for the LTTE, that you abandoned for the sake of money?

      • Rajan

        “The rest are all opportunists who used a situation to seek greener pastures, that they could not hope to have gone to, at any other time.

        So now 200,000 Tamils died?
        As time goes on, the death toll rises exponentially, even though there is no war.

        According to the UN, an unknown number of Tamil Children died.
        8000+ survived, but that was termed the “Tip of the Iceberg”.”

        Why the sinhalese did not leave for greener pastures? Why the Tamils did not leave before 1983? The death toll I mentioned here is the rough total for the whole confilct. In the last stage alone according to UN 40,000 Tamil civilians have died

      • Off the Cuff

        You ask “Why the sinhalese did not leave for greener pastures? Why the Tamils did not leave before 1983?”

        Both left before 1983, through normal channels and not many could qualify and meet the stringent entry requirements.

        After 1983 those requirements were no longer applied to the Tamils. They used it to the fullest to achieve economic ends they were not seeking safety from fear of death or persecution.

        You say “The death toll I mentioned here is the rough total for the whole confilct. In the last stage alone according to UN 40,000 Tamil civilians have died”

        UN or Gordon Wiese the discredited UN ex employee?

        But the UN indicates that the Tamil child soldiers who died, is several multiples of 8000. Were your kids amongst the dead or are they happily enjoying the comforts of the West while you Fan Racism to get more Tamil Children to die in Lanka?

  • Sri Lankan Californian

    Sri Lanka’s underlying problem is completely independent of the nature of the political system, be it unitary, federal, or some other hybrid. The author imposes a limit on the options when he suggests that the Third Way forward, the reformist approach is one of centripetal devolution within a unitary state. How about the option of centripetal devolution within a federal state? The latter seems as equally a reasonable suggestion as the former. The point is: the political state of the State is irrelevant to the underlying cause of the Sinhala-Tamil conflict. The author correctly deduces that the Sinhalese incorrectly presume to feel secure within a unitary structure and Tamils incorrectly believe that they can achieve parity within a federal structure. True, both communities are equally wrong, as much as the author and Mr. Sumanthiran.

    I am a Sri Lankan born American and proud of what our athletes have accomplished at the London Olympics. 17 Years old Gabby Douglas is unlikely to have been so ferociously “self determined” to win gold because of her Black-ness, rather, it is manifestation of her individual desire, and is clearly proud to represent all of the United States and not just the American Blacks. The focused drive for “self determination” is also apparent in the faces of other athletes like Michael Phelps. They do it for themselves first, country second and if any ethnic-bravado at all, it is a very silent third.

    Such attitudes have nothing to do with America’s political structure and would be the same had America been a unitary state. However, “feeling as equals” was not the case when I first came to America in the early ‘70’s, at the infancy of its racial reconciliation. There were no Gabby Douglases representing the nation and every one of my Black college pals felt despised by White students and alienated by the system. Since, America has slogged herself through an impressive social transformation, and despite the imperfections (there are many), an analysis of how she achieved her success could be of relevance. What worked and what didn’t? I am not a political expert or a social anthropologist, but one with participative experience in the American transformation. What worked was certainly any specific factor, but many complex actions – mostly of political, social, and economic nature – that worked synchronously buttressed by a highly ethical and independent judiciary. If there was one single predominant factor that stood-out, it is the sheer determination of the powerful White political leaders to go against their own majority grain to vigorously implement reforms – that leveled the playing-field and gradually instilled a sense of equality among minority citizens. It is undoubtedly the only medicine that will cure Sri Lanka’s ethnic illness: righteous yet gutsy leaders, primarily from the powerful Sinhala-Buddhist majority community.

    It does not take genius to figure out that there are many straight forward reforms that the Sinhala leadership can implement to break the current stalemate and demonstrate their commitment to the reconciliation process. For example, they can remove the utterly useless clause in the national constitution that gives preference to the religion of the majority Sinhalese. A single act like this will demonstrate leadership’s seriousness, instill hope in minorities, and catapult the reconciliation process. (Of course the nationalists will scream as did the KKK in the case of the Americans.) For the last 3+ years, the ball has been on the Sinhalese side, but what has the administration done to advance parity and make minorities “feel” as equals? Sinhalese intellectuals, the likes of Dr. Jayatilleke, while submitting brilliant counter positions to equally brilliant forwards by the likes of Mr. Sumanthiran, have miserably failed to convince the nation’s leadership about meaningful reforms, and the need for gutsy initiatives. (Sadly, CYA appears to be the safest approach – so much for Statesmanship!)

    As encapsulated in the comment by Dr.Rajasingham Narendran, the large majority of Tamil citizens are only looking to feel as equals and not for separate states. Until time the Sinhalese demonstrate their sincerity towards parity through meaningful actions, the minorities are completely justified in postulating whatever theories no matter however absurd, and pleading their case to whoever may listen – in their struggle for equality. In the realm of reality, meaningful resolution can only come about when the Sinhalese are seriously willing to give much more and the Tamils are seriously willing to demand much less, and imperatively, both along with Muslims and others are willing to merge. There are lessons to be learned from the American experience.

    A Sinhala-Buddhist American.

    • Navin

      For example, they can remove the utterly useless clause in the national constitution that gives preference to the religion of the majority Sinhalese.

      Tamils including Dr. RN want to preserve the Hindu Tamil heritage of Jaffna and Sinhalese Buddhists want to preserve the Sinhala Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka. These are just two sides of the same coin. The prominence given to Buddhism in the constitution is part of the latter.

      You cannot solve this problem by being insensitive to peoples’ feelings. Just because some people have ditched their cultural baggage they cannot demand that everybody else do the same. Luckily for Americans they have no such baggage to worry about for 200 years ago there was no USA!

      Besides, how does the present constitution giving prominence to Buddhism impact cultural or religious freedom of Tamils or any other minority? On the contrary the demand to remove any reference to Buddhism from the constitution comes from intolerance towards Sinhalese Buddhists among Tamil nationalists. A secular state is fine. But that has to evolve from the people themselves rather than being imposed.

      • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

        Dear Navin,

        “Tamils including Dr. RN want to preserve the Hindu Tamil heritage of Jaffna and Sinhalese Buddhists want to preserve the Sinhala Buddhist heritage of Sri Lanka. These are just two sides of the same coin.”

        My position is that the right of Tamils to be what they are and want to be in terms of their language, religions and culture, wherever they live in Sri lanka, be respected in law and practice. This has nothing to do with Jaffna or its Hindu-Tamil heritage. It is a fundamental human right to be what an individual or a community want to be, without hindering the right of others to the same. This should apply to Sinhala-Christians, Tamil-Christians and the Muslims too.

        The special place accorded to Buddhism cannot be changed by any government in Sri Lanka, without imperrling their political existence. These are realities within which solutions have to be found to the so-called ‘National problem’.

  • Sirimana

    “Ceylon Tamils get wiped out in toto” couldn’t stop laughing for a while. Let’s talk about the facts1. As a result of the war more Ceylon Tamils live in countries which are far more superior and civilized than Sri Lanka 2. Ceylon Tamil’s population and power in those countries are growing faster than Sri Lankan econmy’s trade gap . 3 As it is, big wigs of Sri Lankan politics can’t even set their foot in many civilized countries without their speeches and meetings getting cancelled.

    Really, Jonhn you want another war :-)??!

  • Mahen

    A unitary state of different ethnic groups can only exist in harmony when there is equality, justice and mutual self respect. None of these are practiced by the numerical majority in Sri Lanka since Independence from the colonial masters. Therefore as in a bad marriage it is healthier for the future generations to be divorced and live separately until the parties begin to respect each other.

  • Thamarai

    The current 13th amendment is also centripetal devolution within a unitary state. The words ‘Cenrtipetal’ and ‘Centrifugal’usually come before the word ‘federalism’. There are centripetal federations and centrifugal federations in the world. All devolutions within a unitary state are centripetal (Central government has all powers), and from the Sri Lanka’s perspective, sovereignty is with the Sinhala people. That is what the Tamils want federalism under which sovereignty is divided between the people of different nationalities.

  • http://www.hotmail.co.uk cyril

    The flaw is in Dr Jayatilleka’s very positing of the problem of the conflict of Sinhala and Tamil Nationalisms as mirror-like symmetries. Tamil Nationalism is a kind of “symptom” of the hegemonic and oppressive Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism and the latter is not a symptom of the other in any symmetrical way. The Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism is the sickness that has afflicted the body politic of the Sri Lankan State. It is the excluded and the alienated part of the Sinhala Buddhist State that has returned in the Real in the guise of a “symptom” called Tamil Nationalism. A “symptom” is a desperate attempt at a cure. The solution, therefore, is in the recognition and integration of the excluded and alienated part into the body politic and restore its balance; it’s not in the elimination of the “symptom” but in its integration, ironically, in Tamil Nationalism.

  • thivya

    There is an interesting article about the Sinhala academics and politicians by the murdered Tamil Journalist D.Jayaram. He says Dr. Dayan Jayatileke actually spoke about the Tamil’s rights and their right for SELF DETERMINATION.

    From the 20th Century, the Sinhala politicians and the opinion makers who, at one time, understood the Tamil grievances and their reasonable political demands, have changed for the worse over time and have taken complete U-turns on the Tamil issue.

    http://thivyaaa.blogspot.ca/2012/08/from-20th-century-sinhala-politicians.html

    • http://www.hotmail.co.uk cyril

      You know, Thivya, those days when Dr Jayatilleka was articulating and advocating the Tamil Nation’s right to self-determination he was a ‘dogmatic Leninist’, i.e.a Stalinist and aged 22. So you know, he was young and radical and, perhaps, believed, that the ‘key’ to the Sri Lankan revolution was located within the Tamil Liberation Struggle. Maybe,he’s now matured enough to understand that the key to his career progression is firmly located within Sri Lankan State. If I may put it in dialectical terms, ‘a thing turns into its opposite’.

    • wijayapala

      Thivya, you goofed up his name. D Sivaram not Jayaram.

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    S.C.Chandrahasan’s interview with Namini Wijedasa, a must read:

    http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/9127#more-9127

  • John

    Sirimana, better laugh at your understanding of what was written.
    “Wiped out in Toto from Sri Lanka”, not from Earth, already over 01 million left during first war , & if there is 02nd, then the balance.

    “.Really, Jonhn you want another war ??!”,
    Put this to Politicos claiming to represent Ceylon Tamils.

  • Lanka Liar

    We have too many prescription at hand. Too many solutions too many recommendations. Nobody has ask for any. Has Sri Lanka been able to implement any of its constitutional safe guards, protections, justice, and rights to the Tamil people when they needed. They are all in place. When a Tamil woman is raped did the government protect her or supported the perpetrator. Has it taken any one into custody for the thousands of crimes committed against the Tamil people. The problem is not on constitutional or legal provisions. It is the inability of the system to execute and abide by the rule of law and constitutional provisions when the victims are Tamils. The problem is in the execution arm of the government. That is why the Tamil people as a bare minimum wants a change in the executive arm and have requested that they should be allowed to administer their own affairs through a federal system. What we have here is two doctors who have no connection to the people engaging in some sort of pastime. Both benefit from the government handsomely for this. Both know all these rhetoric will not be taken seriously by any body. For a Tamil to be treated with equal rights and dignity you have to know and have connections in the government. Dr.Rotnesinham knows about it. As long as you have the right connection you can even get 5 star hotels helicopter rides and you know what else. How many Tamils mothers are waiting to know whether their sons and daughter are alive. Do you need any solution or the change in the structure of the government to solve this problem? That is is the reality. Dr. R Sinham is asking for equal rights because he has been treated more than equal and every one knows why.

  • Ranga

    Dear DJ tell me one thing clearly, you said Tamil nationalism ignores or underestimates the internal (Sri Lankan) reality.

    Will you also agree the Sinhala nationalism ignores or underestimates the internal (Sri Lankan) reality too that the minorities have issues that need to be resolved.

    The cry is like that of a ‘wife beating alcoholic husband crying foul when hearing the word ‘divorce’ and worse of all this is the case for the last 60 years.

    If the hubby is responsible and protective why would wife’s relative such as Tamil Nadu raise concern?

    DJ, you are educated enough to understand one thing that is after the LTTE, the Sri Lankan state has run out of options to dilly dally the national issues any longer and in fact it is struggling a lot externally on the diplomatic front.

    The Rajapakse regime was a good match for Tigers and not a good match for intellectuals of the Tamil diaspora who raised up after the demise of the LTTE.

    Only educated person in the Tiger fold was late Anton Balasingam and he died a worried man that his advises were entered through one ear and exited through the other.

    Like wise educated lots like GL Peries may be feeling the same and that why our ancestors said it is better to have a wise enemy than a fool as a friend.

    Let us accept the fact that for its better future, the nation got rid of one that is VP and another one need to go that is MR.

  • Raj Swamipillai

    I think it’s worth adding here that for all MA Sumanthiran’s talk of Self Determination, and TNA Strategy along those lines, it is essentially no different to the LTTE line, as is the threat of seccession (what MAS calls external self determination, but what AB says ‘also comes under self determination’).

    Basically this time around, the TNA are the negotiators, who will negotiate perpetually for the sake of being able to say ‘we thamizh tried’, and came to no avail. The agents of change are the closely connected diaspora, TGTE, GTF etc. (essentially LTTE remnants) but this time not by war but some other form of agitation.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F17IvllX2bo
    This link is to the 2002 LTTE press conference, forward to 18:40 to Anton Balasinghams answer to the question of ‘what is self determination’, very similar to MAS both in meaning and TNA strategy.

    Therefore the overall strategy is the same. Just as Bala says that they will keep working with the GOSL, so does MAS. The only difference here is that ‘War’ will not be the way that [external] self determination will be excercised. The target result is the same, only one piece of the puzzle has changed: from war [LTTE] to the diaspora organisations which is essentially the LTTE rump.

    Another thing I’m worried about is that Sumanthiran is trying to convince the Singalams that Self Determination is not something to be worried about, and is not a ‘dirty word’, almost to hoodwink the Singalams into supporting it.

    Overall the TNA are trapped way back in the past, in communal politics (as are essential elements of GOSL, not DJ though). The TNA are really letting us down.

    • wijayapala

      Dear Raj Swamipillai

      Another thing I’m worried about is that Sumanthiran is trying to convince the Singalams that Self Determination is not something to be worried about, and is not a ‘dirty word’, almost to hoodwink the Singalams into supporting it.

      I don’t think I am the first here to say that your posts are quite interesting. I would like to ask, why do you consider “self determination” to be a bad word?

      PS- you cannot blame Sumanthiran for hoodwinking Sinhalese, all the Sinhala politicians hoodwink us no?

      • Raj Swamipillai

        Hi Wijayapala,
        ‘Self Determination’ the phrase is not dirty in an academic sense – to discuss, to talk about, to analyse etc… I guess my issue here, in the context of Sumanthiran, TNA etc (including statements from other members of the TNA) is that this is all part of an overall plan to secede from Sri Lanka through backwards-thinking communal politics, which saddens me.

        Living in the west, I see that western systems aren’t perfect but that the key is to be forward thinking, progressive, all inclusive, secular…

        My dream srilanka would be truely secular with everyone on a level playing field with a true sense collectively of Sri Lankan identity. The tamils need to understand that you can be Tamil and Srilankan at the same time (as the Singala are Singhalese and Srilankan).

        Collectively if we put our heads together and work for the betterment of Sri Lankans, the world is our oyster. We have a near perfect island both physiologically and geographically, decent education and I beleive generally good hearted people.

        SL Tamils need to step away from the communal bollocks perpetuated in Tamil Nadu and by the LTTE rump consider ourselves Sri Lankans and citizens of the wider world… we srilankans can collectively go miles ahead of India in terms of prosperity in nearly all senses, we dont have their communal baggage, their issues etc.

        Ultimately it boils down to leadership and a rotten political culture – but thats a whole different topic! With the 18th amendment there was a small part of me hoping that Mahinda Rajapaksa would unilaterally fix the Sri Lankan constitution without pandering to the Singalam or tamil extremists… that obviously would have been dangerous too for obvious reasons!

        But as you say the politicians have hoodwinked the Tamils and everyone else for years, perhaps this is what is considered best practice in SL…

        (beleive me when I say LTTE Rump, they are really the rump, I live in a heavily LTTE-fied area of london and the same ex-ltte guys are running things, say the same things, have the same goals as before. they are bloodthirsty.)

      • Raj Swamipillai

        Another thing re. self determination it really feels like MA Sumanthiran either used to write Anton Balasinghams speeches or Anton is Sumanthiran’s role model!

        I had been looking for that ltte press conference video for ages to see if my memory served right. the LTTE and TNA strategies are very similar… this is the root of my concern… did you watch the video at the time I stated?

  • sinhala_voice

    The Right to Self Determination is NOTHING more than >>>>

    AN AREA WITHOUT SINHALA PEOPLE (esp. Area without Sinhala-Buddhists the majority in the Sri Lanka geography)

    If you the Tamils get an independent state for yourselves ONLY for argument sake …WHAT DO YOU THINK IS GOING TO HAPPEN….

    1. Sinhala people who ONLY exist in Sri Lanka will declare a sovereign state for the Sinhala people in Sri Lanka – (Tamil Country).

    2. We will send forcibly or otherwise ALL Tamils and Tamils speaker to their newly formed country..

    3. Move the army to the agreed border….

    4.And play the waiting game….

    5. Indians will send a delegation to your newly formed Tamil Country to say how you the Tamils should work with your Tamil brethern to enhance your relationship and become a province of Tamil Nadu…To enhance your culture and religion….

    6. Sinhala people will suffer economically BUT will become stronger for the experinence and would become trully independent country.

    Good Luck go and get a Tamil Eelam and please leave the Sinhala people alone….Go find your Tamil.(everything)…You might find a Tamil universe as well…..

  • cincinnatus

    Despite the acerbity of Sinhala Voice’s tone one must admlt that there is a certain plausibility to the scenario that he is drawing here.
    Will some proponent of separatism be able to counter his arguments and present a different scenario?
    I am sure may readers of this site will be waiting in great anticipation for an informed refutation…

  • John

    Hi Newton,
    Thank you for your reply,
    “…For fool like you and perhaps me might think another war but the fact is East Timor, Kosova, Eritrea and South Sudan all come into existence this way…..”

    A fool like you may not understand that Sri Lanka is a fully fledged democracy with universal franchise in practice, & all those mentioned by you were dictatorships.
    ___________________________
    “..The only gorilla war for secession that won against Ethiopia…”
    Perhaps guerilla ?? If so we saw this for over 30 years & found result at Nandikadal in may 2009

    ____________________________
    “HSBC Bank….The protest led the withdrawal of the flag. What Gota and his brothers achieved was this… “
    This won’t affect SL at all, Gota & brothers achieved what others failed for 30 odd years & its history now & known to all, except those ignorant.
    __________________________
    Fear factors,
    Your fears are unfounded , TN all these years had same number of MP’s , won’t change & TN govt. will never really support LTTE rumps . Indian foreign policy is decided by South Block think tanks only.
    Further it was TN ‘s CM (Jayalalitha) banned Fr. Emmanuel of Diaspora Terrorists stepping in to TN less than one year ago when he landed in Chennai Air Port , flying from Dubai, to prop up Celylon Tamil cause.

  • Pragmatist

    As long as the people of Sri Lanka hang on to the concocted myth of separate Sinhala-Buddhist and Tamil-Hindu identities it will be nearly impossible to find a solution on how to live together on the island.
    It might help if the communities both accept the following facts:
    1. Sinhalese and Tamils are NOT pure races but mostly a mix of the two – plus some Portugese, Dutch and British blood;
    2. Buddhism, as practiced in Sri Lanka, has a lot in common with and also evolved from Hinduism.

    • InSights

      You are quite correct. But ‘solution’ is not the primary objective here. It’s political power. Religion and ethnicity though held up as banners are no more than traps to snare the gullible.

    • sinhala_voice

      Even if the Sinhalese accept that they are a mixed race of say ALL the people in WHOLE world. It is NOT going to be enough for Tamil Political parties that represent the Tamil people.

      Simply because there is a Sinhala majority (Irrespective of their genetic makeup is enough for them to require SELF DETERMINATION.

      The drive for self determination did not come after independence or 1956 or 1977 or 1983…They go way back into perhaps 1930s.

      Or to the day the Tamils realised that they are a numerical minority and democracy favours majorities.

      So this begs the question:

      IF a Sinhala Majority WHOLE of Sri Lanka is NO GOOD FOR Human Rights and so on and so forth…HOW is 2 hegemonic provinces (North+East ::=for Tamils ) and the rest for Sinhalese and Non-Tamil/Non-Sinhalese going to help INDIVIDUAL Rights and Human Rights….

      This crisis has nothing to do with Ethnicity or Worldview it is to do with Management and everyone settling down to common set of rules and regulations understanding that they can’t always get their way…..

      Honest Politicans (May be an oxymoron) is the requirement of the day.

  • Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    An important fact that I had failed to highlight in my comments above:

    Quebec- a largely French speaking province- was trying to seek independence from a federal Canada. The rights to extensive internal self determination was in this instance leading to a demand ffor external self determination, which received the whole hearted support of the former French President, the late Gen.Charles D’Gaule, who led the French resistance against Nazi occupation.

    The Canadian experience in this instance should be a red flag for Sri Lanka! Mr.Sumanthiran, although a jewel amidst the rotten in the TNA, should be careful not to lose his credibility by expounding untenable positions, regardless of how legalistic,impressive and brilliant they sound.

    Sumanthiran should make a case among the Sinhala masses that the Tamils have legitimate grievances within the Sri lankan polity and win their support to resolve them. Alienating the Sinhalese with verbiage that sound innocent, but carry deeper and malevolent connotations in the context of Sri Lanka, will only hurt the Tamils further.

    The Tamil grievances should be explained to the Sinhala people in a language that is acceptable to them. Without massive Sinhala support, the so-called national problem cannot be resolved. It is not president Rajapakse who has to be convinced- he knows very well what the real problems are- but his support base- the Sinhala masses.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • InSights

      You are indeed so correct. It won’t be difficult to address the Sinhala masses in a way they can relate to. Many of the grievances of the Tamil people are in fact ‘generic’ ones which apply to the Sinhala people (particularly those in rural areas) as well. It is for political mileage that a ‘Tamil’ label is being attached.

  • Cas Shivas

    DJ states that both sides are uncommitted to / ambivalent about the existing attempt (of external provenance)at a constitutional bridging formula-13A.
    13A is nothing but rule by the all powerful Executive President under a unitary constitution through his representative Governor. When it comes to North/East the Governor is often an Ex Armed Forces Officer.Hisbullah when he was a Minister in the Eastern Provincial Council in charge of Health said even to appoint a labourer in the Hospital you need the Governor’s permission (who incidentally was an Ex Navy man). The President could dissolve the Provincial Council. Even in its formative period Amirthalingam,Sampanthan and Sivasithamparam pointed out (incidentally)13 flaws in the 13A and wanted JR to improve on it in the presence of Natwar Singh, then State Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Indian Government and Kuldip Singh, the Joint Secretary in the same Ministry in Delhi.They said they (meaning Indian Government) had a firm commitment from JR to make those improvements to 13A as drafted. But the 20th Century Fox he was he tabled it before the Parliament as it was and even that remains unimplemented for over 25 years.How could it then be a starting point.Are the people(s) of Northeast wait for another 25 years to start all over again, like three years after Mullivaikkal still waiting for the LLRC report to be implemented (and it has nothing new to offer).
    On the question of ‘Self determination’, Article 1 of both ICCPR and ICESC and Article 55 of the UN Charter which speaks about respect for the principle of equal rights and self determination of peoples.
    SD relating only to former colonies is over long ago. By the Declaration on Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States of 1970 and the Helsinki Accord of August 1,1975 it has been elaborated and currently even within a Unitary form of Constitution in a Sovereign State if section of the people are continuously oppressed and have no meaningful access to government as in the case of Sri Lanka, they have the right to self determination.6A is bad law as it goes against the UN Covenants, UN Charter and Case Law Precedents. Whether Separation is bad or good even prohibiting one from airing his views can’t be good law.
    Canadian Supreme Court Decision with regard to secession of Quebec from Canada (1988) 2SCR 217-Judgment dtd 29th August, 1998 could not be taken as liberal just because France is far away from Canada as DJ puts it.Surely he should know tha Judgments does not depend on distances between countries but on facts and law.

    • InSights

      Is DJ not pointing out that had the facts in the case of Quebec been different (i.e. had France been less than 50 Km away from the Canadian coast) that the judgement would have been different?

      Recent events seem to indicate that political actions based entirely on excellent legal bases ignoring geopolitical, economic and environmental realities really don’t lead to peace and justice. In many cases it has led to more bloodshed.