Batticaloa, Colombo, Constitutional Reform, Human Rights, Peace and Conflict

On “traitors” and federalism: Beyond the hypocrisy, towards collaboration

Bear with me and read the following carefully:

“The problems of the Tamil community are best known to the Tamils than any others. Any solution to our problems put forward by us should be taken into consideration by the other two communities – the Muslims and the Sinhalese. Furthermore the Tamils problems must have a Tamil solution and not a Sinhalese imposed solution. Even veteran politician Annan (eldest brother) V. Anandasangaree, leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front and senior cabinet Minister Douglas Devananda , leader of the Eelam Peoples Democratic Party, too has said time and again that they are for an Indian model.

It must be pointed out that today a federated unitary form with secularism enforced vigorously keeps India united, where as a theocratic unitary sectarian government, focusing on majoritarian numerical supremacy in Sri Lanka, has eroded the unity and pushed the country towards the brink of disintegration, dissension and division.

It is unfortunate that a section of the Sinhalese community has failed to understand the Tamils. They continue to suspects our genuine aspirations and try view our proposals always with suspicion. It is unfortunate that our proposals to maintain the unity and national integration of the country and keep it together are suspected and criticized.

It must be clearly told that without the cooperation of the Tamils, there cannot be peace and harmony in the country. Also the threat of division and separation cannot solve without the Tamils entering the main stream democratic process in the country. Therefore it is important that country should try to understand the genuine aspirations of the Tamils, address them by embracing them.”

Clearly, these words must belong to one who, according to the JHU, JVP and even sections of this Government, supports the vast NGO driven conspiracy to support the LTTE through the division of the country by advocating federalism? Surely, this person must accordingly be a traitor?

Yet, these words belong to none other than the Tamil hero of du jour of the Sinhala war-mongers, Col. Karuna, as reported in a recent interview. Colonel Karuna Amman, whose real name is Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan (born 1966), is the President of the TamilEela Makkal Viduthalai Pulikal (TMVP), a breakaway faction of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Nobody has to date called Col. Karuna a traitor. Most recently, those who made representations on Sri Lanka’s gross human rights abuses at the Human Rights Council in Geneva were called traitors. Many leading NGO rights activists have been openly called traitors for advocating the very same principles that Karuna articulates above, for longer than he has.

I argue that the label “traitor” is an extremist reaction to democratic dissent. As I have noted earlier, many of those in power today including the President, by their own definition and based on what they have said in the past, can be called traitors. Yet this label persists to hound rights activists, especially from NGOs. As noted by Col. Karuna, Minister Douglas Devananda, V. Anandasangaree from the TULF, Col. Karuna himself and the APRC support federalism and a federal solution. Are they all traitors too? Why doesn’t the JHU or JVP brand these persons as traitors who are dividing Sri Lanka?

My article, in Sinhala, explores these issues further and I end by stating that it would be better to stop the hate campaign and mudslinging against NGOs and instead work with them to flesh out ideas on federalism that clearly commands the support of so many in politics today.