Everyone Hitched to a Slipping Horse?

by Nillanthan Maha on his blog, December 17, 2022

[translated from the Tamil original by Google Translate with corrections by the editor.]

From the Ramanathan brothers to the Sambandars, they have been deceived by the Sinhala leaders. It is [the Tamil] political experience of almost a century. During the past one century, the talks, meetings and written agreements between the Tamil leaders and the Sinhalese leaders before and after the independence of the island of Sri Lanka have not been successful.

எல்லாரும் ஏறிச்சறுக்கிய குதிரையில் சக்கடத்தார்?

The armed struggle exerted decisive pressure on Colombo, so two agreements were written which lasted for a relatively long time [because] there was a need for a third party to intervene. Thus the two agreements which were written as a result of the blood shed by the Tamil people in the armed struggle lasted for a relatively long time. The first was the 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord, next was the Ranil-Prabhakaran Pact. Apart from these, none of the agreements written before the armed struggle and after the armed struggle have survived. They were torn up by the Sinhalese side.

The armed struggle was seen as a force that could change the political and military balance of power in Sri Lanka. Whenever the balance of power changed, peace agreements were made. or negotiations are initiated. But after 2009, the Tamil side has not had the leverage to change the political balance of power in Sri Lanka.

First, the Tamil party is not a mass force. Secondly, the Tamil Party has not carried out any sustained and decisive struggles to put pressure on the Sri Lankan government. The Tamil side now has a total of 13 members of Parliament with a Tamil nationalist stance. According to the head count, it is a very small amount. The politics of the Tamil people is now seen as election-centered politics. There is no people movement. In this case, the Tamil parties can claim that they are going to deal with global politics and they are going to deal with geopolitics. But in practice, Tamil parties do not have any structures to handle such geopolitics or global politics. In other words, after 2009 Tamil politics is called “reactive”- reactive politics and not “proactive”- politics that forces other parties to respond to their actions.

Even now, Ranil has called for talks because of the economic crisis. That too is due to external pressure. The West seems to be insisting that the financial assistance for the economic crisis and the solution to the ethnic problem should be kept in the same package. India also emphasized the need for political reform at the last Geneva meeting. So Ranil needs to build an image of solving the racial problem.

Thus he has come to speak due to compulsions from external parties. Due to these compulsions, the bargaining power of the Tamil side is relatively increasing. But the answer to the question whether the Tamil party is strong enough to start negotiations with its demands as preconditions is important here.

It was because of the strength of the armed struggle that the interventions took place. Talks were conducted under the supervision of third parties. The first foreign talks to aim to resolve the Sri Lankan ethnic problem took place in Thimpu. Negotiations took place from Thimpu till Oslo. The reason for all the negotiations in foreign countries was the armed struggle.

If we look at the open dialogues in moderate politics before and after the armed struggle, we can mention only a few secret meetings that took place ahead the regime change in 2015. Accordingly, after the end of the armed struggle, negotiations [on Tamil issues] could not be carried out in Colombo. Sambandar [Sampanthan] himself claims that Mahinda Rajapaksa cheated Sambandar almost 17 times. After that, the [constitution] committee formed by Ranil Wickramasinghe met 82 times. In the end Maithiri messed everything up. Maithiri thwarted Ranil’s efforts to create a new [constitution] under transitional justice. The UN was behind these efforts. UN Resolution 30/1 laid the foundations for it.

However, there was no situation where the UN could apply pressure on the parties involved in Sri Lanka. The UN Human Rights Council did not have the mandate to apply such pressure. That is why Maithripala Sirisena unilaterally broke the accountability agreement in October 2018. The Gotabaya government that came to power then withdrew from the previous Sri Lankan government’s co-sponsorship of the UN resolution on accountability. That is, the Sri Lankan government withdrew from the commitments agreed to in the UN Human Rights Council. . It is an example of how the Sri Lankan government can back down from the responsibilities it has signed and accepted in the international arena.

No President can fully enforce the 13th Amendment already created under the Indo-Lanka Accord.

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