Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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The Rumours of Peace

by Clouzot, December 17, 2005

ALONG WITH a bundle of Christmas cards, in through my letter-box came a Sri Lankan Aerogramme.  I hurriedly opened it. It is a letter from an ex-journalist friend.  Among other news, he cryptically notes the current atrocities by the SLA in Jaffna and other parts of the NorthEast. He worried: “The troubles have started again here.  The talk of peace in Sri Lanka is increasingly becoming problematic [in Tamil – Villangam]; we have been severely affected by rain and strong winds; many people are suffering from flu and other weather related illnesses…In Thamil Eelam the Hero’s Day celebration was a great success.”

The thing that one struggles to grasp, like my friend, is that, while there is ‘talk’ of peace, there seem to be juxtaposed to that a plan to collectively punish the Tamil-speaking public and to undermine efforts of peace and prosperity. The Thugs and mercenaries in the state-sponsored paramilitaries and the armed forces of the state are behind such subversive actions.  People in the NorthEast know that. They are conveying that message loud and clear in their collective protest.

Both Tamils and Sinhalese want peace.  The latter want peace, tragically at the expense of the Tamils – there is nothing novel about that.  The proposal for a federal state to the Sinhalese is anathema.  This has been the case for the past 50 some years; Now and never. There are no verifiable signs to believe otherwise.

Through public protests in recent months, the Tamil-speaking people have spoken. They have highlighted the following:

  • They want their lives to improve
  • They want a clear-cut ending of Military occupation.  

When these fundamental need-satisfiers become ground-reality, the common person in the NorthEast would interpret that to be peace.  Colombo cannot talk peace while at the same time going for the jugular.

It is against this background, that the peace process will have to be viewed. The State is adamant on suppressing the Tamils economically, culturally and politically.  Furthermore, it is continuing its intimidation and occupation militarily in the NorthEast. When such a grand design of oppressive mind-set is well entrenched, what is left to “talk” about, perhaps, is only tactical retreat and buying precious time.  That gives only the “appearance” of peace!

The spokesperson of the Colombo Government, Nimal Siripala de Silva, said yesterday to the BBC, “What is important is to have talks with the Tigers at the earliest.  We are willing to discuss anything – it can be the ceasefire or the peace talks itself.” 

The official line for the world is that the 'Bal'l is in the Tiger court.

The Tamil Tigers may be pressurised by the International Bodies to engage in such talks for the interests of "peace."

On the other hand, the Tamil Tigers have a moral obligation to express the desire of the people whom they represent. The Tamils do have a non-negotiable goal at heart when they are voicing their protest about “brutal occupation.”

I wish to ask, in terms of priority, at which juncture of the dialogue, will the fundamental grievance of the Tamils see the light of day?  The Tamils have experienced this rigmarole numerous times before.  If the State is willing to discuss “anything” as they say, will they tell the Tamils in the NorthEast when they will end their occupation and pull SL troops back in to the Sinhalese territory? Demarcation lines may have to be drawn.

What is the reason for Colombo’s insistence that the venue for talks should be in South Asia; why not a Western capital?

One also wonders whether, this time round, the Peace interlocutor will deliberately express to the world that they are  facilitating negotiations between two nations; two territories with two standing armies; and two Governments.

Two wrongs cannot make a right outcome – that is common sense.

In the context of such pragmatic dialogue, further delays, continuous ceasefire breaches, duplicitous promises, geo-political sleight of hand – all these would be averted... Depending solely of course, if and when the Sinhalese are willing and able.

Like my friend in Jaffna, Tamils are not against an honorable diplomatic settlement.