Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

Printer-Friendly Version

The Essence of the Geneva Talks

by Wakeley Paul, Esq.

It is like the story of the junk salesman who was asked, “How do you know what is valuable and what is junk?" The salesman replied “What they don’t buy is junk.” What the Sinhalese have offered us Tamils, to ease our dissatisfactions, has been rejected by the Tamils for the same reason. 

Who is fearful of attending the forthcoming Geneva meeting, the GOSL or the LTTE?. Mr M.P.D. Dissanayake opens his article entitled ‘Review of Ceasefire Agreement” (Lankaweb, Feb.3, 2006) with the startling proposition that it is the LTTE that will attend this session most reluctantly, and do everything they can to postpone these talks indefinitely. He mouths this idea, despite the fact that it is the LTTE that has been seeking to revitalize the terms of the Agreement.

On reading Mr Dissanayake's article, it is obvious that he, like the present GOSL, will resort to every tactic to replace the existing CFA with an unrecognizable substitute, despite the fact that the primary objective of the meeting is to ensure the effective implementation of the existing CFA, not the replacement of it with a GOSL-authored alternative.

Having commenced with this clear misconception as to the object of this conference, Mr Dissanayake continues with a layman's misconception that legal agreements can easily be amended and altered unilaterally by one party to the Agreement, as and when they choose to do so.

What does the writer think? That this is some kind of a parlor game or a serious legal agreement which binds both parties? Is this solemn binding agreement subject to a condition that any party can change its content whenever it wishes to do so? Is this what this lawyer[ if he is one] regards as the manner in which a legal agreement is honored, or is he of the view that legal agreements are just pointless pieces of paper, designed to be torn up, as the Bandaranaike - Chelvanayakam Agreement was, or amended on the unilateral decision of one party that takes the view that its terms do not please them now?  Is it a fundamental phenomenon of Sinhalese law and justice, that propounds the ludicrous proposition that  “If we don’t like it, we can ignore it or change it  to suit our revised desires?”

What is equally alarming is Mr Dissanayake's outrageous and unbelievable assertion that there is no ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. He brazenly asserts that “it is abundantly clear Tamils are living peacefully in SL with equal opportunities, with freedom of expression and movement in any part of the island.” What kind of ivory tower does Mr Dissanayake descend upon us from? Why would we have a civil war and a need for a CFA if that were the case?

Is ther a civil war because, as Mr Dissanayake dares to suggest, “It is the Sinhalese and Muslims who are deprived of these rights by the Tamil terrorists”?  Why does he not ask himself a simple question? Who sought to be freed from whom? Was it the Tamils seeking freedom from Sinhalese rule, or the Sinhalese seeking freedom from Tamil rule? Were we the masters of their destiny, or were they masters of  ours? Can one be expected to regard this writer, who turns the fundamental realities upside down, seriously?

Mr Dissanayake's first objection to the existing CFA is that the identity of the person who signed on behalf of the LTTE is not stated in the body of the Agreement. Have the LTTE ever denied being a party to the Agreement? What kind of strained petty-fogging concern is this of his? Was it not the LTTE who pressed the government to fashion a CFA? This is nothing more that a desperate, strained effort to suggest that Amendments to the original CFA are called for.

Mr Dissanayake's demand for an amendment to Article 1.3: is founded on his misconception that obligations imposed on one party are not reciprocal.*

Mr Dissanayake's proposed amendments to article 2.12: reveal a naiveté that is astonishing. The need to revert to the regular criminal code to justify searches and seizures is an admirable recognition by the Wickremesinghe government, that the Prevention of Terrorism Act, devised by that violent anti-Tamil butcher, J R Jayawardena, was nothing more than his dictatorial effort to flatten and quash the legitimate legal rights of Tamils.

Mr Dissanayake asks the absurd question “Why should the LTTE fear this act if they refrain from acts of terrorism ?"  What has one got to do with the other? The PTA was designed to deny Tamils the protections afforded to them under the Criminal Procedure Code, against illegal searches and seizures. What has the revival of those protections got to do with what Dissanayake regards as acts of terrorism? Here again, his logic is seriously wanting.

Dissanayake goes on to suggest that, if this provision was to be retained, the LTTE should agree to lay down and return its arms. Once again we ask, where is there any connection between the two? Does he not further realize that the Tamils would be committing political suicide if the LTTE agreed to lay down their arms? How unrealistic can this isolated and withdrawn hermit be?

Dissanayake's objection to Article 3:3: - obliging the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission to report to the Norwegians rather than a host of nations - may now be academic, in view of the government’s recognition of Norway as the acceptable go-between at this Geneva conference.

Dissanayake's final objection is that there are no punitive measures provided for a breach of this contract. Who would determine whether or not there has been a breach or how the alleged breach should be punished? He suggests the The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. How impartial can one expect them to be? Furthermore, his assessment of the number of violations by each side are those alleged by the GOSL, which figures are highly suspect. Does he expect the Monitoring Mission to be scrupulously impartial, who apparently adopt these assessments: and when he himself shows no ability on his part, as a mere commentator and academic critic, to be so?

Dissanayake's last suggestion is that smuggling of arms by the LTTE should be listed as an offense. What does he expect the LTTE to do while the SL government enters into hosts of agreements to strengthen its military might while the Ceasefire lasts? Watch, wait and be ready to be annihilated? It is time that the writer realized that the Sinhalese politicians have wished, throughout our independent history, that we Tamils and disgruntled Muslims were yesterday's news. Far from protecting the just rights of Tamils and other ethnic groups, they have, by unyielding legislation, thwarted, stymied, intruded into and frustrated every minority effort to be treated as equals. The protections they pretended to afford to non-Sinhalese Buddhists have been like a new wall you could not lean on, for fear that the ceiling and roof would promptly collapse with it, if you did.

This gentleman needs to have his nose to the ground before engaging in an exercise of this nature.  His partiality is founded on his monumental ignorance of the island's history since Independence from Britain in 1948. It is time he realized that discrimination is an inherent instinct of the average Sinhalese politician, who is far from ready to grant equality to anyone but his own kind.

It is like the story of the junk salesman who was asked, “How do you know what is valuable and what is junk?" The salesman replied “What they don’t buy is junk.” What the Sinhalese have offered us Tamils, to ease our dissatisfactions, has been rejected by the Tamils for the same reason. 

The ultimate truth is that people like Mr Dissanayake and people of his ilk in the GOSL will continue to live in orbits of their own creation.  To them, Tamils are a dangerous irritant, who they wish would just go away.

*Article1.3: “GOSL commits itself to safeguard  the sovereign and territorial integrity of SL” .... “without engaging in offensive operations against the LTTE.”  Mr Dissanayake demands that the LTTE be expressly subject to similar obligations.

  • Publication date: