Ilankai Tamil Sangam

Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

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Open Letter to John Cushnahan, Chief, EU Election Observer Mission

by Kail. T. Rajah

Your conclusion is absolutely right in the sense that what the election confirmed is that the Singhalese majority have a pro-extremist mind-set. The election results validate that conclusion.

This is in respect to the report on Election Reform you presented to the Sri Lankan  government. From the news items in the State Media, it would in fact appear that the report places blame for the entire failing of the Sri Lankan electoral system on the LTTE. Nevertheless, a careful reader would note your threat to divert the promised development funds to other countries, if Sri Lanka fails to implement your suggested reforms and would conclude that the reports' principal criticisms are directed at the GOSL and not the LTTE.  

In view of this, first of all, may I ask whether this Report is a public document? If so, how can one access it for a better understanding of your committee's concerns? Most Tamils have long since given up depending on State and Sri Lankan media for information of any value.

Second, from the details published in the media it appears you have surmised that the LTTE's blocking of votes in the Tamil N.E. led to the defeat of a 'moderate' candidate by a hard-line extremist. Your conclusion is absolutely right in the sense that what the election confirmed is that the Singhalese majority have a pro-extremist mind-set. The election results validate that conclusion. Please also note that the Hard-line candidate won despite the fact that the votes of the Tamils, Muslims, Burghers and others outside the NE backed the moderate candidate.  

This problem - the problem of an 'extremist mindset' that has become the majority Sinhala mind-set -  is what the minorities, especially the Tamils, have had to contend with since 1956, the year of the first race riots since independence.

[normally, the term 'extremist' denotes that it relates to a marginal population and, when a view or attitude becomes that of a majority population, it then ceases to be 'extremist' by definition. While recognizing this contradiction, I will continue to use the term extremist to imply the chauvinist and domineering aspect of extremism, rather than to characterize the degree of pervasiveness in the population.]  

The extremist hatred grew from the seeds sown by the late prime minister, S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike in 1956 and have been nurtured by every political leader since then as they have pursued only populist political opportunism. Consequently, the civil Sinhala mindset in the majority has grown more hard-line and extremist, rather than less so.  Also, while civilization progressed in the opposite direction in most of the rest of the world, the steady regression of the Sri Lankan society is vividly demonstrated in every aspect of this nation, whether it be economic, political, social, religious or even moral.  

In civilized nations,the presence of extremists, even in the most miniscule of numbers, is often considered to pose a significant threat to the stability and well-being of the nation as a whole, and to the minorities in particular. Imagine what would result, for instance, if the majority in the U S. were to hold a 'hardline or extremist' view, one way or the other?  

It then begs the question, what effectively did the LTTE disrupt. if what you claim is true, that they did not allow the NE Tamils to vote?  Your opinion, as per the news media, is that, had the Tamils voted, the moderate candidate would have won. This raises several interesting or possibly critical observations!  

  1. One implied conclusion of the report is that the Sinhala people, left on its own, are incapable of making the correct choice in determining their leader.  A leader who will serve the country best. Let us hope that the present leadership is sufficiently astute to distill this valuable information.

  2. At many elections since independence, the Tamils have made known their aspirations and preferences for their own political and consequently economic future, by unprecedented and over-whelming majorities of over 85% consistently. The elected Sinhala governments have relentlessly made a mockery of the decisions of the Tamil population. More importantly, no    International government or organization has tried to persuade the GOSL to toe the democratic path. Of what value will another pretend-vote be to the Tamils at this point?  

  3. What you have suggested is, that allowing the Tamils to vote would have helped mask the true mindset of the majority to the rest of the world.  As you would know, this is a country that has a long and recorded history of increased subjugation of the minorities, hence the minority refugees all over the West.  Do you honestly think that such masking would be a useful or preferred outcome of this election? Would that have helped the Tamil population? Would not that have, in fact, helped the GOSL to continue or even accelerate its repression and subjugation, protected by this pseudo-democratic mask? Does it not bring to mind the common saying ' A known devil is better than an unknown devil'?  Perhaps the LTTE made a wise decision to expose the true 'mindset' of the Sinhala majority to the world.  Was that so wrong? Would you or other international bodies be convinced of the 'mindset' of the Sinhala majority without this solid proof? Is this mindset of the majority an acceptable status for a true democracy?  If not, what responsibility do the international bodies and the champions of democracy have for correcting this situation? Should the internationals help maintai such a mask? Can the minorities depend on fair play by the GOSL if it had been able to continue to hide behind this ugly mask?  
  4. The candidate whom you refer to as the 'moderate candidate' and whom the majority of the Tamils also believed to be the 'lesser' evil, revealed his true colours in the post-election claim of responsibility for the Karuna defection. Do you truly think the Tamils would have no regrets had they been allowed to vote and had voted for this moderate?  

It is quite disheartening that, inspite of such simple truths glaring so vividly in the face, the ones who could truly make a difference choose to ignore the fairness and humanitarian aspects in favour of political expediency and convenience,  

What options does that leave for the Tamils?  

If you were a Tamil and lived in the NorthEast, would you have truly exercised your right to vote? If you did and then realized the betrayal  [Karuna defection],  would you have earnestly relished exercising that right?  

Do not answer that - just think about that or perhaps ask a Tamil living in the NorthEast. I have asked several here, from which I draw my conclusions.

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