Ilankai Tamil Sangam

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Sri Lanka Reneges on 2002 Oslo Declaration and on 2005 P-TOMS Agreement

Nadesan Satyendra, TamilNation, 25 November 2005

To renege is to go back on that which was agreed. It is to dishonour an undertaking.  In Oslo in December 2002, in the presence of the representative of the Norwegian Government, Sri Lanka agreed

" explore a political solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka..."

The Sri Lanka Government representative declared on that occasion -

"... the break through yesterday, the importance of which cannot be over-estimated... the development was this - the explicit identification of a federal structure as the basis on which this political solution is going to be evolved..."

Today, in his inaugural Presidential speech, Mr. Mahinda Rajapakse reneged on that which Sri Lanka agreed upon at Oslo. He reneged on the promise to explore a political solution founded on the principle of internal self determination. He reneged on Sri Lanka's recognition of 'areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking peoples'. And he reneged on Sri Lanka's promise to explore a political solution 'based on a federal structure' and insisted instead on resolving the conflict within the confines of a unitary constitution. President Mahinda Rajapakse seeks continued rule of the Tamil people by a permanent Sinhala majority by espousing the practise of 'democracy' (one man, one vote) within the confines of a unitary state. He declared  -

"Instead of traditional homelands and self-determination that allow an ethnic group to breakaway from the Republic of Sri Lanka, steps will be taken to ensure for all communities, including Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim Burgher and Malay the freedom to exercise all the rights enshrined in the constitution, including the right to live in any part of Sri Lanka on the grounds that the entire territory is the homeland of all communities."

That is not all. Some five months ago, on 24 June 2005, Sri Lanka signed the Post-Tsunami Operational Management Structure (P-TOMS) with the LTTE. Today, President Mahinda Rajapakse reneged on the P-TOMS agreement which Sri Lanka had signed. He declared -

"A new tsunami reconstruction administrative infrastructure that will coordinate with the Central Government, provincial councils, pradeshiya sabhas, political parties and voluntary organisations will be introduced in place of the controversial P-TOMS which are now before the courts. This new setup will be linked to "Jaya Lanka" - the government's overall tsunami reconstruction and rehabilitation program..."

Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse is an honourable man. It is simply that as Sri Lanka President, he finds it expedient to dishonour the undertakings that his country had given - and resile from agreements that his country had signed. It appears that he is intent on proving, yet again to the Tamil people something which Sathasivam Krishnakumar said 14 years ago -

Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism has been institutionalised in Sri Lanka and today it has become more powerful than the politicians themselves. Indeed even if the Sinhala politicians seek to settle the conflict, Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism may try to prevent such a settlement. This is the political reality... This Sinhala chauvinism which was nurtured by Sinhala politicians for their electoral advantage, has grown into a Frankenstein monster which now has the power to destroy and make politicians. This we understand very well..." Sathasivam Krishnakumar, June, 1991

Given the intransigence displayed by President Rajapakse, it should not come as a matter for surprise if many Tamils find the remarks of LTTE senior commander and Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman, in a homage ceremony held at Elephant Pass on 24 November 2005 more than persuasive -

“The historical burden of responsibility placed on us dictates that we become powerful. We need to be vigilant not to fall victim to the snares set by either the Sri Lankan government or its surrogates. It is in our vigilance that our freedom survives. And it is from the might of our strength that our heroic history should be chiselled.."