The Lesson from the High Court Decision

Uthayan editorial, Jaffna, July 16, 2005

"Searching in the river for what is lost in the sea" is taking place in this island.  Observing the efforts to find a peaceful solution to the ethnic problem and related developments makes one think that the equivalent of this 'searching in the wrong place' is exactly what is going on here.

The High Court of the Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka has outlawed many aspects of the P-TOMS agreement that was settled on after a lot of time and effort.  As a result, P-TOMS will now be put to sleep. 

Tsunami-affected people awaiting relief are deceived yet again.  All those who hoped that some relief would come through the P-TOMS agreement have certainly lost all remaining hopes.  Sinhala chauvinists who did not wish justice for the Tamils certainly are now overjoyed. 

There is no point in condemning the High Court.  All it can do is to operate within the law on which it is set up and give rulings and explanations based on them.  That is all.  It is not going to step outside the law and take into account the ground situation and rule accordingly. 

But, those who take the ruling of the high court into account and approach the issue based on it must understand one important point.

This point has been repeatedly emphasized not only by the LTTE, the sole representatives of the Tamil people, but also by past leaders of the Tamil people like S J V Chelvanayagam and Amirthalingam over the last few decades.  Neither the 1971 constitution, that cropped up from nowhere, nor the present 1978 constitution that followed, were constructed through any consultation with the Tamils.  Both these constitutions were drawn up to suit Sinhala Buddhist rule and were forced on the Tamils.  These constitutions, therefore, will not bind the Tamils.  This is the unanimous position of both the LTTE and Tamil leaders of the past. 

It is not possible to find a solution to the self-determination aspirations of the Tamil people under a constitution that they did not accept and one that was forced on them.  To search for a solution under the present constitution is like searching in the river for what is lost in the sea.  To find what is lost in the sea, one must look for it in the sea.

The constitution forced on Tamils by the Sinhala chauvinists and the laws within it are the root cause of the Tamil ethnic problem, their struggle, the violation of their rights and their suppression.  To find a solution to this problem one must step outside this constitution.  There is no sense in searching for a solution to the problem while remaining tied by the rules that caused the problems in the first place.  Be it the P-TOMS or the interim administration or a permanent solution a solution can be worked out only after stepping outside the constitution. If one looks for a solution within the present constitution, within its current laws and structures, the process is as hopeless as losing something in one place and searching for it somewhere else.  It is be a wasted exercise.  The High Court decision has demonstrated this clearly to the country and the international community.

The LTTE’s theoretician Anton Balasingam explained this requirement to go beyond the constitution at the start of the current peace talks.  The LTTE leader has also pointed this out in his annual Hero’s Day speech.  The ceasefire agreement became a reality only when the past Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe gave up hiding behind the constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and accepted the ground reality of two administrative structures; two armies; two areas of control; and two courts of law in the island and signed the ceasefire agreement.  Three and a half years of ceasefire became possible because of this.  The opportunity for the peace efforts was also created because of this.

Therefore, the Sinhala leadership must prepare itself to step outside the constitution to find either an interim solution or a permanent solution.  As long as such leadership with courage and strength is not formed in the south, they have no option but to stage their senseless dramas while remaining tied by the constraints of the Sinhala chauvinistic constitution.

This truth brought out by the High Court should sharpen the attention of the international community.

Translation from Tamil from


Posted July 18, 2005