Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Should Eelam Federate with India?

by S. Makenthiran, October 21, 2008

The Singhalese extremists often say that Tamils must go to India and that Sri Lanka belongs only to the Singhalese. So why not the Eelam Tamils agitate to federate Eelam with India like Tamil Nadu and Pondicheri, which are Tamil states. Tamil Eelam will have its own Chief Minister and Legislative Assembly. The Singhalese can have their unitary government in Singhalese Sri Lanka. 

The civil war between the Singhalese and Tamils is in full swing. Singhalese chauvinists are raving over the ‘defeat’ of the Tamil Tigers, and the successful ‘liberation’ of the Eelam Tamils. The East has been subjugated by the Sri Lankan armed forces and a puppet administration established under Pillayan, with a Singhalese governor wielding most of the powers.  The undeclared Eelam War 4 is reaching a climax.

In the ‘liberated’ East, the Tamil Tigers are carrying out guerilla attacks, regularly causing damage. The return of Karuna to Sri Lanka (SL) from a UK jail can have unforeseen consequences for Pillayan’s provincial government in the long run. In the short run, Karuna is lying low out of necessity, but he is not going to forget Pillayan, his second in command, for usurping his position. It is a revolt within a revolt. The Muslims and Hisbullah are also grinning and bearing the Pillayan administration. Rajapkse's government is spending large sums of money to keep the lid on the boiling East. We have to wait and see what will happen in the future in the East.

In the North, the Army was stuck at the Mannar border for many months.  Now it has advanced in a comparatively short time deep into the Tamil Tiger homeland and has occupied areas close to the Tiger capital of Kilinochchi. The SL army is also in occupation of Tiger territory close to the A9 highway. The chauvinist Singhalese are jubilant and claim that Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass and Mullaitivu are within sight and Eelam War 4 is nearing completion. President Rajapakse  thundered that he will force Prabaharan to kneel before him. Eelam Tamils know one thing with certainty.  Prabaharan  is not the type of man to surrender or be taken alive by the SL army to enable Rajapakse’s wishful thinking to materialise.

There is a humanitarian crisis in the Vanni, which is part of the Tamil homeland.  Over 220,000 Tamil civilians have been made homeless and are refugees in the Tiger-controlled areas.  The Sri Lankan government has ordered the non-government and UN organizations that were helping the Tamil refugees to get out of Vanni and they have complied.  The army is blocking essential supplies from reaching the Tamil refugees.

It is apparent that the SL government is spending large sums of money to spread anti-LTTE and anti-Tamil propaganda among the international community, not without some success. In the process, there are very few neutral powers left that can mediate a peaceful solution to the civil conflict.  Singhala journalists such as Mahindapala, Dayan Jayatileke, Dushy Ranatunga, Walter Jayawradena, Daya Gamage  etc. serving the cause of Sri Lankan government in attempts to influence international opinion on the civil war.

In the propaganda war, there have been ridiculous reports by anti-Tamil media that Prabaharan is long dead, that his leg has been amputated in Kerala, that his daughter held her birthday party in the U.K., that he is planning to flee Eelam and so on.  According to figures published by the pro-government media and the SL army commander Sarath Fonseka, the armed forces have killed more Tigers than the total number of LTTE  fighters. They have lost all credibility. Rambukwela has outdone Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief.

Pro-government  media, who make it appear that they have inside information, have reported that the SL army has brilliantly outmaneuvered the Tigers by infiltrating and penetrating their defences by pinzer movements and trapping them.  They report that the Tigers are spent force and are no match for the SL army.  Tamil Week went to the extent of expressing a strange opinion that the army is at an advantage in the jungle terrain. It is generally presumed that jungle terrain is more favourable for lightly armed guerilla fighters than for the heavily armed conventional armies.

As I guessed a while ago, the SL army chose to advance through the A32 highway along the North West coastline.  They did not advance along the A9, as was done in the disastrous Jayasikuru operation.  The pro-Tamil media opine that the Tamil Tigers have enticed the Singhalese army into the Tiger den to trap them and annihilate them.  Though it is premature to come to conclusions, there are persistent reports in recent weeks, of successful counter attacks, and ambushes by the Tamil Tigers inflicting heavy casualties on the advancing Singhalese army.  The LTTE handed over 29 dead bodies of Singhalese soldiers abandoned at Vannerikulam to the Red Cross. The SL government has prevented the journalists from reporting these casualties.  There were reports that 85 soldiers were killed and 285 injured in Vannerikulam.

There is no hope of a ceasefire or peace talks as President Rajapakse wants the LTTE to surrender arms, and accept a unitary  form of government. Prime Minister Ratnasri Wickremanayake wants ‘terrorism’ eradicated before peace talks. None of this will happen.  We are in for a long haul.

Bruce Fein, an American lawyer, is pursuing action to get Sarath Fonseka, the SL army commander, Gothabaya Rajapakse and Basil Rajapakse, who are President Rajapakse’s brothers, all of whom who are residents or citizens of the USA, to be prosecuted as war criminals.

Sri Lanka is financially bankrupt. Inflation is at a painful 28 %. War expenditure has escalated. Tourism is down. The EU is threatening to stop the preferential treatment for SL's garment industry. Tamils are displaced and suffering.  The Singhalese common man is also suffering. About 18,000 men are reported to have deserted from the military. 

Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapakse has declared publicly that the SL army will capture Kilinochchi by the end of this year.  The army commander Sarath Fonseka had also promised to win the war before he retires towards the end of this year.  Ratnasri Wickremanayake, the Prime Minister, who is a joker and cannot be taken seriously, pompously announced that ‘our boys will be in Kilinochchi before the provincial elections’ and that did not happen.

The lessons of the past and happenings in other parts of the world have not made the Singhalese leaders wiser.  The debacles of Jayasikuru, Agni Kela and the two subsequent frays into Muhamalai has not made them learn from the past. Are the SL forces advancing in Vanni, or are they getting bogged down in a fatal quagmire?   Are they reaching a point of no return ?

The Tamil Tigers have two constraints – manpower and supplies. If they overcome these two constraints, the fate of the SL army will be bleak.  Even if the Singhalese army reaches Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass and Mullaitivu, the Tamil Tigers can carry out guerilla attacks perpetually.  The ambushes at Thoppikal and Kilali are a warning of things to come.

The Singhalese army commander Gen. Sarath Fonseka has publicly proclaimed that his army is only 2 km from Kilinochchi and that the attack to capture it will commence.  The Tamil Tigers have built a deep zig-zag trench from Nachikuda on the North West seacoast up to the A9 in the central Vanni. They have a defence line along the trench and may fight it out.  The outcome cannot be predicted.

By the end of the year 2008, we will know whether Eelam War 4 has been won by the Sri Lankan armed forces, enabling the Rajapakse government to dictate their terms to the Tamils or whether at Kilinochchi they will meet with the ‘Stalingrad’ of Eelam War 4.  Readers will be aware how, during World War 2, the mighty Nazi army  crashed through the vast Russian land and defences up to Stalingrad, where Hitler’s  mighty military machine was destroyed.  Consequently, Germany lost the war and surrendered.

It is difficult to foresee the future of  the civil war. The SL government is running the risk of bankruptcy. They want to prosecute the war to the bitter end, even if it means the ruin of the Singhalese.  Let us wait and see till the end of the current year the outcome of the undeclared Eelam War 4.

On the international front, Tamil Nadu is getting agitated over the killings of the Eelam Tamils, and the Tamil Nadu fishermen by the SL army and navy.  Action is being filed in the Indian Supreme Court to declare the cession of Kachativu by the Indian government to Sri Lanka as void.  The argument is that, if the Sri Lanka Supreme Court can annul the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement, so can the Indian Supreme Court annul the Kachativu Agreement.  The state of Tamil Nadu with 70 million Tamils is stirring as never before in support of Eelam Tamils.

There is another solution that Eelam Tamils can seriously consider. India has become a regional superpower.  Its economy is fast growing and eventually it may become the third or fourth largest economy in the world.  Sri Lanka is a failed state with a faltering economy.  The Singhalese extremists often say that Tamils must go to India and that Sri Lanka belongs only to the Singhalese. So why not the Eelam Tamils agitate to federate Eelam with India like Tamil Nadu and Pondicheri, which are Tamil states. Tamil Eelam will have its own Chief Minister and Legislative Assembly. The Singhalese can have their unitary government in Singhalese Sri Lanka.  They dare not attack the Tamils if Eelam is federated with India.

We cannot rule out that a change of government in India can result in India enforcing a Cyprus or Georgia type of situation. Russia granted passports to the people of the breakaway provinces of Georgia. Any peace talks should involve the Tamils of Tamil Nadu as an interested party. Any solution to the SL ethnic problem should satisfy the Eelam Tamils and Tamils of Tamil Nadu.  Singhalese cannot decide the destiny of Eelam.  Let us face it, the Singhalese are the historical enemies of the Eelam Tamils and India. They are their common enemy.