Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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A Mischievous Game

by Sachi Sri Kantha

Before the Peace talks, there was a war between two parties, namely the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. What did Muslims do, between 1983 and 2002? By calculated design, most were with the Government of Sri Lanka.

Tamils or other non-Tamil peaceniks shouldn’t underestimate the delicate skill of Sri Lankan Muslims in playing their own tune, even when propriety demands otherwise. Let me present two recent news reports, and my thoughts on these reports.

News item 1: No to separate Muslim delegation [Colombo Daily Mirror, Jan.19, 2006]

“President Mahinda Rajapakse yesterday rejected the idea of a separate Muslim delegation when peace talks resume between the government and the LTTE.

Responding to an SLMC demand for separate representation at the peace talks, the President said the Sinhalese would also be asking a separate Sinhala delegation if a Muslim delegation were to be permitted.

Sources within the SLMC said they would not budge from their stand on the need for a Muslim delegation. The SLMC called on Muslim parliamentarians within the government to take a clear stand on the issue.”

New item 2: Muslim Council wants Muslim delegation to be included in peace talks between Govt.and LTTE [Colombo Daily Mirror, Jan.26, 2006]

“The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL), the umbrella organization for some 58 Muslim organizations in the country has expressed its disappointment over President Mahinda Rajapakse's rejection of a Muslim delegation at peace talks.

‘It is with deep disappointment and disbelief that we read media reports that a Muslim delegation will not be entertained in future peace talks between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. As you are aware, the participation of a separate Muslim delegation in Peace Talks has been an issue the Muslim community has been demanding since the signing of the CFA in 2002’ The MCSL has written to President.

The MCSL letter to the President reminds that the Muslim community has suffered at the hands of the LTTE throughout the civil conflict and among the manifold injustices was the ethnic cleansing of some 100,000 Muslims in the north by the Tigers.

‘Failure on the part of the Government of Sri Lanka to include them in future peace talks will certainly deny them their basic rights and will alienate them from being active participants in the peace process’ the MCSL observes.

‘While we pray for a peaceful resolution to the current stalemate in the peace process, we kindly request Your Excellency's intervention in ensuring the legitimate rights of the Muslim community by including a Muslim delegation in any future peace talks’ the statement further states.”

My Thoughts

I infer that asserting ‘No to separate Muslim delegation’ has the only correct decision the current President Mahinda Rajapakse has taken in his two month-old presidency. Cheers for his courage. Logistically speaking, isn’t the Muslim demand for “separate representation” at the Government of Sri Lanka-LTTE Peace talks akin to a wedding guest demanding a seat in the honeymoon bed of a newly-wed couple? For the Peace talks to happen, first there was a war between two parties, namely the Government of Sri Lanka and LTTE. What did Muslims do, between 1983 and 2002? By calculated design, most were with the Government of Sri Lanka. Covertly and overtly, the Muslim politicians and businessmen organized Pakistani sponsorship for the Sri Lankan armed forces. Now, by wearing another hat, the Muslims want a separate chair in the proposed Peace talks, which is nothing but irrational.

I think what President Rajapakse stated is valid; “the Sinhalese would also be asking a separate Sinhala delegation if a Muslim delegation were to be permitted.” One never knows what factors made President Rajapakse to reject the Muslim demand. Maybe, he wanted to be fair with the Eelam Tamils. Maybe, he was upset by the anti-vote of Muslims (organized by the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress) against him in the November 2005 presidential elections. Whether the will of President Rajapakse on this issue will hold forever needs to be seen.

The nonsense of the Muslim demand for a separate Muslim delegation in the proposed Peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE can be superbly illustrated by a cartoon panel from ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ of reclusive cartoonist Bill Watterson.

“Calvin: I’ve decided I want to be a millionaire when I grow up.

Calvin’s dad: Well, you’ll have to work pretty hard to get a million dollars.

Calvin: No, I won’t, you will.

Calvin’s dad: Me?

Calvin: I just want to inherit it.”

Like the lovable rascal Calvin, the Sri Lankan Muslims also wish to ‘inherit the fortune’ without working for it for the past two decades.

The claim of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) of “the ethnic cleansing of some 100,000 Muslims in the North by the Tigers” is a malicious canard, which is repeatedly circulated in the Colombo press by the Muslims and by the anti-LTTE analysts like D.B.S.Jeyaraj and K.T.Rajasingham. Recently I have cited non-LTTE sources (including the report from Amnesty International) to rebut this bloated claim of “some 100,000 Muslims in the North.”

It should also be noted that the on-going ethnic cleansing of Tamils perpetrated by the Muslims in the Amparai (Digamadulla) district of Eastern Eelam since the 1980s do not register in the heads of the wisemen representing the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka. For the record, I’m duty bound to acknowledge the following contributions by K.N. Tharmalingam, a courageous veteran journalist from Amparai, who described the anti-Tamil activities carried out by the Muslim Home Guards and the supporters of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress party, in collusion with the Sri Lankan army.

K.N. Tharmalingam: State and Muslims desecrate ancient Tamil village. Northeastern Herald, 2 parts (May 30-June 5, 2003; June 6-12, 2003).

K.N. Tharmalingam: New Year’s bloody dawn – Karativu 1985. Northeastern Herald, 2 parts (Oct.24-30, 2003; Oct.31-Nov.6, 2003).

K.N. Tharmalingam: The gruesome threshing floor in Udubankulam. Northeastern Herald, 2003.

K.N. Tharmalingam: Ancient Eastern village caught in cycles of violence. Northeastern Herald, May 2004.

These features are accessible via the TamilCanadian website.

What the late Ariyanayagam Chandraneru, a Tamil legislator from the Amparai district, in his September 2003 discussions with the visiting Press and Public Affairs division of the British Embassy (High Commission) in Sri Lanka stated on the ethnic cleansing operations of the Eastern province Muslims against the Tamils deserve being remembered.

‘In 1985 and 1990, thirteen Tamil villages in the [Amparai] district were completely destroyed, but in those days the war environment did not permit complaints of such destruction. Muslim youths who are drafted into the Home Guard, have on several occasions massacred a large number of Tamil people’ Mr. Chandraneru said, citing the examples of Veeramunai and Aligambai massacres.” [source: TamilNet, September 25, 2003]

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