Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Accept the Reality of a Separate State for Tamils

by Prof P. Ramasamy

In the ultimate perspective, given the concrete realities, it would be best for the international community to accept the reality of a separate state for Tamils in the northeast of the island of Sri Lanka.


The conflict in Sri Lanka has gone too long, too many lives lost, too many people uprooted from their homes and with no solution in sight.

But the solution has always been there, it is just that the international community and the Sri Lankan state have focused their energies on solutions that would not be accepted by Tamils. In the ultimate perspective, given the concrete realities, it would be best for the international community to accept the reality of a separate state for Tamils in the northeast of the island of Sri Lanka.

An intelligent move towards such an option long advocated by the LTTE would not only bring the conflict to a halt, but would also ensure that the indiscriminate killings will be brought to an end. If the Sri Lankan state establishment has accepted  the fact that the LTTE is in control of nearly 70 percent of the territory of the northeast backed by a powerful army, navy and burgeoning airforce, not to mention the other usual trappings of a modern nation-state.

Accepting the inevitably of a separate state for Tamils would not be an aberration, but would acknowledge that, under the present conditions of national oppression, it would be impossible for Tamils in the island to lead a decent and dignified existence under the oppression of the Sinhala-Buddhist majoritarian hegemony. History has proven beyond reasonable doubt that Tamils have not received any sympathetic consideration under Sinhala-Buddhist rule, and there is no evidence to indicate that a unitary political system under Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony would provide a hope for Tamils.

Contrary to the prognosis of defenders of territorial integrity, creation of a separate state for Tamils should not be construed as a chauvinistic endeavour. In fact, in the case of Sri Lanka, it represents the only viable option for the total emancipation of Tamils. Those arguing in support of federalism, autonomy and alternative models do not realize that such political options would have no place within the present unitary constitutional set up. Such thinking should have been present in the fifties and sixties, not at a time when the Tamil liberation movement has come to full fruition.

Events in the last few years following the ceasefire have shown the Sinhala-Buddhist state, immaterial of the party in control, cannot recognize the legitimate aspirations of Tamils. Sinhala-Buddhist political maneuverings resulting in the rejection of the LTTE’s interim administration proposal and the Supreme Court’s nullification of the P-TOMs agreement, among others, illustrate the sheer futility of Tamils even obtaining minimal demands.

However, the international community (need for a conceptual clarification of the term), dictated by the vested interests of certain super and regional powers, has not been in an objective position to evaluate and understand the historic nature of Tamil suffering in the island. It has failed to understand why the LTTE was formed in the first place and why it took up the struggle of Tamils. Rather, many in the international community have found a very convenient route to label the organization a terrorist outfit that should be constrained, if not totally curbed. Meanwhile, the so-called objectively minded international community has sought to condone - and at times support - the action of the Sri Lankan state, all in the name of containing the “terrorist” LTTE.  Very recently, the United States Ambassador to Sri Lanka  took a swipe at the LTTE for pushing the country in the direction of war and warned that it might face a powerful and well-armed Sri Lankan army.

The hypocrisy and double-speak of the international community is clear. It does not have the legitimacy, nor the moral clout to intervene in the Sri Lankan conflict to provide a solution. In fact, there is no solution. The solution that this holier-than-thou grouping is advocating is for Tamils to remain as third and fourth class citizens under the Sinhala-Buddhist domination and exploitation. Sorry, Tamils who have taken up arms to defend their rights and homeland will never be dictated by superpowers or regional powers. The LTTE has time and again proved beyond doubt that it is the champion and guardian of Tamils; no amount of pressure of intimidation would allow them to abandon their most cherished objective of creating a separate state for Tamils—Tamil Eelam.

A time has come for the international community to accept, whether it likes it or not, the inevitably of a separate state for Tamils in the northeast of Sri Lanka, an area that has been internationally recognized as the historic homeland for Tamils from time immemorial.  It is not for the international community to provide this option on a sliver platter, the LTTE will take what is legitimately belongs to Tamils.

The dupliticious nature of the Sri Lankan state towards a peaceful solution for Tamils has been laid bare. Attempts to entrap the LTTE within the international safety net collapsed with the defeat of Ranil Wickermesinghe in the recent presidential election. The use of Tamil paramilitaries to weaken the LTTE’s hold on the east has backfired with the rise of Tamil resurgence movements in the northeast.

The only political solution that would bring an halt to the conflict in Sri Lanka is the acceptance of the inevitability of a separate state for Tamils. If such an option is accepted, the international community can play a meaningful role in providing the conditions for this particular transition.