Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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US Putting the Clock Back on Peace

by S. Makenthiran

The cause of peace cannot be served by taking one side of the conflict.

The policies of the world’s only superpower is causing a setback to peace in Sri Lanka.  The USA is making the same mistake they have committed in other countries by supporting state terrorism against defenseless people.  Their policies of supplying arms and military training to the Singhalese armed forces of Sri Lanka will only aggravate violence against the Tamil people and delay a peaceful settlement.

It is deeply disturbing to read about the threats to the Tamil community by Jeffrey J. Lunstead on Monday, January 9, 2005. To say the least, his statements are counter productive.

The role of an ambassador is not to take on the role of a champion of one of the parties to an ethnic conflict in the country.  The cause of peace cannot be served by taking one side of the conflict.  The US ambassador cannot be unaware of the fact that the Singhalese and Tamils are locked in mortal conflict.  It is a question of life and death for the Tamils, who are struggling against a racist government.

Right from the year Ceylon was granted independence in 1948, the Singhalese majority systematically carried out a policy of ethnic cleansing of the Tamil minority, through legislation and mob and state terror.   It all culminated in the massacre of 1983, up to which time the unarmed Tamils suffered with little resistance.  After 1983, Tamil youth in large numbers decided to take up arms, and defend their people against Singhalese atrocities.  Civil war raged from 1983 to 2002, when Velupillai Prabaharan, the LTTE leader and the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe signed a ceasefire agreement with Norwegian mediation. The ceasefire has held to date. Approximately 100,000 people have died in this war, and they are mostly Tamils.

To add to the disturbing utterances of the US Ambassador, now Nicholas Burns, the US Under Secretary for Political Affairs visits Sri Lanka and stokes the flames of Singhalese racism by condemning the LTTE and lauding the Singhalese government. These US officials seem to ignore the ground situation in Sri Lanka.  They are not concerned about the reign of terror unleashed by the Sri Lankan Singhalese armed forces against the Tamil civilians. The murder of Tamil people, the disappearances  of Tamils after arrest by the armed forces, and the torture of Tamil detainees do not seem to be of concern to the Americans.

The Nowegians are doing a difficult job of trying to bring peace in Sri Lanka. Eric Solheim, the Nowegian Minister and Peace Envoy, who is functioning a the mediator, is meeting the LTTE leader Prabaharan to arrange peace talks. Apparently, he has persuaded Anton Balasingham, the chief negotiator for the LTTE to fly from UK to Vanni to assist in the negotiations.  Eric Solheim’s  task is made more difficult by the indiscreet utterances of the US Ambassador and Undersecretary now in Sri Lanka.

Ironically, while the Americans are spitting fire against the LTTE, the combined para-militaries and Singhalese Intelligence are killing Tamil civilians in army controlled areas.

The Sudaroli reporter was killed in Trincomalee a few days ago.  Some time back journalists Nimalarajan, Nadesan and Sivaram(Taraki) were killed.  The Tamil MP for Batticaloa, Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham, was killed on Christmas Day in church.  Many members of the families of Maveerar (heroes) have been brutally killed by the paramilitary persons and Singhalese Intelligence.  All these are being conveniently ignored by the US and the International Community.

It is to be hoped that Canada will not fall in line with the policies of the USA.  The Liberal government did adopt an independent policy, though it was slightly tilted towards the Singhalese.  The Conservative party has come to power at the elections held on January 23, 2006, but it failed to secure a majority.  Just before the date of the elections, Stewart Bell, the National Post  journalist specializing in reports adverse to visible minorities, extracted a statement from a leading Conservative politician to the effect that they would ban the LTTE in Canada.  This indiscreet utterance led to representation to the party high command by Conservative candidates in Toronto and Greater Toronto, where Tamil voters are concentrated, and the party issued a statement in an effort to pacify the Tamils.

These happenings will have the effect of highlighting the influence the Tamils wield in the elections in some electorates, as that can mean a difference where the parties are equally strong.  This will also make the Canadian government think before doing anything to upset the Tamils.

The Indian government is also under check by the Tamil parties in Tamil Nadu State.  The pro-LTTE parties have successfully prevented a defense agreement between Sri Lanka and India.  The trip of President Rajapakse to Delhi was not fruitful.   The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha declined to meet him.  His visit to Guruvayur in Kerala has resulted in a furor.  All told, the trip to Delhi by Rajapakse was a disaster.

There is no good reason for the all Singhalese army of occupation to forcibly occupy Tamil homes, hospitals, farms, schools, places of worship, etc. for over 15 years under the pretext of High Security Zones.  It would be different if the Singhalese armed forces were in their barracks.  There is also no good reason for Singhalese police officers to police the Tamil homeland of the NorthEast conducting business in the Singhalese language, which is unknown to Tamils.  It is time the Singhalese armed forces and police to vacate the Tamil homeland.

The Tamils will be justified in carrying on an intifada-like struggle to force the Singhalese army of occupation and police out of the army-occupied areas of the NorthEast province.  The talk of  US Under Secretary Nicholas Burns, about safeguarding the territorial sovereignty of  Singhalese Sri Lanka does not hold water.  The Singhalese can have their territorial integrity, sovereignty and unitary form of government in the seven Singhalese provinces.  The Tamils should have territorial sovereignty in the Tamil NorthEast Province.

There has been, in reality, a semi-autonomous state of Tamil Eelam in the NothEast of Sri Lanka for over 4 years, with an army, navy, air force, police force, judiciary, taxation, banking, administration , and all the hallmarks of a nation state. There can be peace talks, but there is no way Tamils are going to surrender their homeland and the right of self determination under the present state of affairs.  A confederation or separation will be the final settlement.  To put the clock back, the Tamils will have to be crushed by the force of arms.  The sooner all parties realize this this is highly unlikely, the better for the peace of the country.

The Singhalese-dominated government is spending large sums of money to do propaganda against the LTTE.  They have contributed to the United Nations Peace Keeping Force in Haiti by sending some Sri Lankan soldiersto please the Americans.  In return, the USA is giving its approval for human rights violations by the Singhalese.

The cause of peace in Sri Lanka could be better served by the USA keeping out of the Sri Lankan ethnic problem, if they cannot adopt an impartial and objective view of the happenings. 

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