Saturday, October 18, 2008

Should India protect the murderers (LTTE) of Rajiv Gandhi for fear of loosing Tamil Nadu support?

by Shenali Waduge

India had a good opportunity following the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi to morally correct India’s covert role in Sri Lanka –many Indians are not aware how India spent Indian tax payers money for a covert operation, to arm, train & financially support the LTTE & other Tamil militant groups. Unfortunately, India did not cease the opportunity though it inevitably had to ban the LTTE for the assassination. Ironically, the present Government of which its Chairman is the very widow of Rajiv Gandhi prefers to opt for “vote-bank politics” instead of seeking justice for Rajiv’s untimely death on Indian soil. Thus, Tamil Nadu politicos have artfully used the LTTE as a ruse against the Government to do its bidding. It begs us to implore what India is really up to ….why India should fear the LTTE at all….why it chooses not to help Sri Lanka’s Government to nullify the LTTE terrorism & by the murder of Rajiv has shown how volatile Indian leaders are too.

If we were a little worried over Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, Leader of Dravida Munnetra Kazhgam (DMK) of Tamil Nadu’s ultimatum Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi’s message “"Those who make demands about other sovereign countries should know that India's sovereignty runs through the boundaries of India," provides some consolation. So the Central Government has taken notice of Malini Parthasarathy’s editorial (editor of the Hindu) – “stay out of Sri Lanka’s internal affairs”. That the editorial affected a few was evidenced when the Hindu office in Coimbatore was stoned the day following the release of the editorial. Have we not warned that the LTTE & their lackeys are unable to negotiate & prefer violence at all times.

The bribe for continuing to support the UPA Government is for the UPA Government to save a drowning LTTE, the murderers of Rajiv Gandhi, the husband of the UPA Chairman Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.
Is the Tamil Nadu state in collusion with a group banned by the Indian Government – if so, why does the Indian Government not take action against the State officials. If the Central Government itself is aware & does nothing it does infer that the Central Government is also colluding with the banned entity, which in turn requires closer scrutiny by the Judiciary of India.

Let us assume that “India’s concerns about the humanitarian crisis” holds true, do we need to remind the world that these projected IDPs in the North are being forcibly kept by the LTTE to be used as human shields that it is not the Government that is depriving these people from food & shelter. Why did the INGOs/NGOs who were asked to relocate to Vavuniya from Kilinochchi not pressurize the LTTE to allow at least the women & children to accompany their convoys on the journey to Kilinochchi? The Government has ample stocks of food ready for all those who brave LTTE domination & make their way to Government controlled areas. Yet, we hear some South Indian politico’s demanding that food be sent to the Northern civilians. India wants to provide free food to 200,000 Sri Lankans when over 50,000,000 (50 million) Indians are on the brink of starvation and over 200,000,000 (200 million) Indians are underfed. 2008 Global Hunger Index, ranks India at 66 out 88 countries. The supposed 200,000 IDPs of Sri Lanka will be happier to have India feed its own people first as charity does begin at home! India also does not want to have an exodus from Sri Lanka reaching Tamil Nadu – but even those who have gone as refugees have never been fed by the Tamil Nadu Government. It is the Central Government that spends for the maintenance of these refugees. Yet, the Tamil Nadu politicos speak of their concerns for the Tamil people. While India worries over the “civilians” of a sovereign Sri Lanka, India should also lament on the “civilians” being affected by US & NATO bombings in Iraq, Afghanistan & even Pakistan!

Just as much as we realize that the state of Tamil Nadu becomes important for India, we question who actually wants this separate state Eelaam? More & more it seems that the Tamil Diaspora numbering 800,000 demands the Eelaam more than the Tamils in Sri Lanka. We also question how much Prabakaran remains the dictator we are led to believe. Undeniably he was a dictator at one time but after internationalizing the “cause” & the involvement of the “theoreticians” “procurement heads” “financiers” etc the likes of Paskarlingam, Kumaran Pathmanadan, all based abroad in “foreign offices” we begin to wonder if Prabakaran is merely a robot terrorist leader at the command of these powerful foreign forces. India & all those who are genuinely concerned about the plight of the Northern Tamils now under LTTE custody deprived of freedom should first pressurize these foreign Tamils living luxury lives at the cost of these poor Tamil people who become scapegoats for their current lifestyles. This should be the humanitarian concern India & all those others who use these two words loosely should think of first.

One of Sri Lanka’s media channels oft claimed to be pro-LTTE conducted a survey across all the electorates of the Eastern province. Of the Tamils they questioned none sought a separate state or equal rights – all they wanted were better roads, schools & bridges. These are the same sentiments of over 95% of Sri Lanka’s population combining all the ethnic groups. But there are some living very comfortable lives abroad as a result of the profit they make of the propaganda on “discrimination”, “violations” “genocide” & raise funds part of which go into their personal bank accounts & the rest towards brainwashed youth deprived from leading lives as children & made to kill. Can we see through the farce that these LTTE operatives have made the world buy into for over 30 years?

It is this small number that have generated the claim that the separate state theme derived of their right to defend their Tamil homeland. Looking back at history we are aware that during the 13th century b.c. invaders did arrive from Tamil Nadu & remained for 43 years but these were not indigenous people, but immigrants much like those who were brought in by the British to work on the plantations. But these invaders were evicted & the Sinhala kings enjoyed total rule. So is it fair to quote this period of occupancy as grounds to demand a separate state that has turned into an armed struggle. Moreover when 62million Tamils reside in Tamil Nadu of the 80million globally, we very well know that Tamil Nadu is the homeland of Tamils – thus, can there be two homelands?

Adding to the confusion has been the involvement of Catholics where even churches have been guilty of sheltering LTTE operatives & storing arms. It may be prudent to see through these 30 years how many Tamils & Sinhalese have been converted to Christianity as well?

There is much confusion over the issue of self-determination – though there are many documents about the topic there is a distinct failure to define exactly who is entitled to claim the right to self-determination – is it a group, a people, or a nation & what exactly the right confers – is it autonomy? Statehood? & more importantly what other rights come with it – who is able to exercise it, who is not & why? Without having the answers to these no country should entertain this notion for it is likely to be more harmful & beneficial.

The Peace Talks & Ceasefires
India’s first entry into the conflict in Sri Lanka was by signing the 1987 Indo-Lanka Peace Accord through which the North & East were merged & the system of Provincial Councils created through the 13th amendment & sending across a large contingent of Indian troops to maintain law & order. The world’s 4th largest army was to face bitter experiences & loss of troops finally to be asked unceremoniously to leave the country by Sri Lanka’s President who chose to arm the LTTE to chase out the IPKF.

India was never to openly get involved in Sri Lanka. However, Norway’s role as peace facilitator was approved by India & conveyed to Sri Lanka. Its special envoy Eric Solheim met the LTTE leader in Kilinochchi only in July 2001. But we must wonder how the LTTE managed to mesmerize Solheim into accepting the LTTE’s version of affairs enough to ensure all of Norway’s statements were never derogatory towards the LTTE – has our leaders in Colombo not had the pluck to show the true story or did that not cover their job portfolio?

If the public were not aware of India’s indirect involvement in the 2002 Cease Fire Agreement & its draft, the LTTE & the Wickremasinghe Government were. If we accuse the Wickremasinghe Government of demarcating Sri Lanka’s territory & offering it to LTTE as “LTTE controlled areas” it means that it was with India’s explicit consent. So we have an Indian Government dealing with the LTTE – the very group that killed its own former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. We can only speculate why Rajiv Gandhi was killed & India has not shown any desire to investigate why. Yet, the fact that India was in the know when drafting the CFA that practically drew out areas of Sri Lanka as LTTE does make a mockery of India’s Supreme Court ruling that LTTE is a banned terrorist organization & Prabakaran & Potto Amma the two most wanted by India. The interpretation of India’s involvement in the CFA is far more alarming when we examine the notion that India’s interest may not be looking after the Sri Lanka’s Tamils but the desire to annex Sri Lanka eventually to India.

Accession to India/ Tamil Nadu an alternative for Tamil Eelaam

This has been nothing new & Jawarhalal Nehru himself declared in 1949 that he wished Sri Lanka to be a protectorate of India n 1949. “If the British can capture and colonize, then Lanka and change the name to Ceylon, using our own troops (Indian troops) why can’t we (Indians) colonize Ceylon and keep it as an Indian protectorate?” Nehru had already decided on a person from Tamil Nadu being the administrator of this protectorate. “If you allow the Ceylonese to manage the Trincomalee harbor, it will be a security threat to India”. Later, his grandson Rajiv Gandhi’s Peace Accord was to amalgamate the two provinces into one making it easy for Indians to control. The Supreme Court ruling has nullified this by demerging the two provinces.

If we should not be too concerned of what Nehru, her daughter Indira, her son Rajiv or his wife Sonia feel we should be concerned whether our Tamil citizenry may entertain a preference to be a part of that protectorate rather than live in a sovereign country. The first of such sentiment was echoed in 1947 by Malaysian born Christian; S. J. V. Chelvanayagam declared “we must merge Tamil Nadu & the Tamil State of Ceylon”. The separatist element is likely to have been taken from the secessionist movement in South India where the formation of the DMK party stated “Ceylon is already semi-Tamil & when Ceylon comes under their rule, the envisaged Tamil Free State will possess the best Tamil harbor in the World, Trincomalee” (Prof. Appadurai, 1947)

When we speak of colonial rulers we must always remember that the colonies were always governed through their policy of Divide & Rule – favoring & patronizing a small minority group & elevating them above the majority. This group gained English education after converting to Christianity & belonged to the elite group. None of these Tamils ever questioned that the privileges given were unfair – in fact they even demanded 50-50 representation in parliament. The denial led to the formation in 1949 of “Illankai Tamil Arasu Kachchi” by Christian Tamil S.J.V. Chelvanayagam - in Tamil it meant a separate Tamil State – but it was conveniently hidden in its English version which was called Federal Party.

S.J.V. Chelvanayagam presided over the First National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front held at Pannakam (Vaddukoddai Constituency) on 14 May 1976 that called upon “Tamil youth in particular to come forward to throw themselves fully in the sacred fight for freedom and to flinch not till the goal of a sovereign state of TAMIL EELAM is reached”. No wonder Prabakaran & the LTTE has not flinched. Yet, in demanding the North & East as separate state for Tamils (on the grounds of the presence of Tamils) why have they discounted the very large Tamil presence outside of the North & East – they may as well demand the entire Island! But is the accession to India the alternate to Tamil Eelaam… can any one answer?

Questioning Discrimination & Rights
Sri Lanka has provided for its citizens all the Universally Declared Rights – we even have free education & healthcare. Many countries do not have this privilege. But, no country can function if a few has “larger ambitions for the Rights” or “bigger aspirations”. By providing a bigger decree for Tamils would that not be tantamount to marginalizing the other ethnic communities in Sri Lanka? Let the world know explicitly what these denied rights are – that should justify an armed struggle.

Anyway, what are these problems that the Tamils face – we must essentially divide these problems by asking specifically what the problems of the Eastern Tamils are?, what the problems of the Tamils in the Other Provinces are? what the problems of the Ordinary Tamils in the North are? & more importantly what the problems that the various Tamil political groups are – for the reality is that it is these leaders who desire to create problems to enable them to remain in power & as representatives of these Tamil people. That the “problems” are evaded was clearly visible in the 1984 All Party Conference when Tamil political groups declined to specify any of these “Tamil Problems” without resorting to separating the country into ethnic regions saying that they can solve them once their separate state is formed.

Let us frankly accept that these problems if they apply to the common masses must have to relate to ADMINSTRATIVE ISSUES – for these are what binds peoples lives & whether in the private sector or public sector it is administrative issues that surface & create the common ground with which even politicians contest during elections. Let these administrative issues be made public – one of the areas is the need for Government circulars to be in Tamil for those who cannot read or write in Sinhala. The latest Householders List distributed throughout the Western province has been designed thus – while the author received the Sinhala version, the Tamil version was handed over to the neighbor. Similarly, it is also desirable that all public institutes & Police stations in particular have an officer who is able to converse & write in Tamil. Facilities also need to improve but then this is not something that only the Tamils are having to suffer – even Colombo suffers from ill-maintained schools & lack of experienced teachers. Then there is the discrimination factor at times when security checks take place – while all Tamils are not Tigers – all Tigers have been Tamil, especially the suicide cadres. Let us humanely ask ourselves what we can expect from a soldier who is unlikely to have studied beyond O/L when checking people one of whom is likely to be a human suicide cadre & perhaps minutes away from blowing herself up along with him? The suicide cadre cares less about what happens to him but the soldier may be even a father of a small baby – he is after all a human being too. There are many who are concerned about the plight of the Tigers but how many have shown concern for the soldier?

These are very small but important areas & should have been immediately addressed by previous Governments but these are not issues to ever require a need to take up arms & kill people for 30 years.

Then, the next resort is to cite discrimination and place the separate state as a solution to it. Here again, what countries have permitted separate statehood on the grounds of discrimination? It was Chelvanayagam that first introduced the concept of separatism. Bandaranaike facilitated their argument by bringing in the Sinhala Only Policy – but today both languages are accepted as official languages. It is childish to continue to place the 1956 policy because that does not exist today.

The Sinhala Only policy of 1956 did not deny Tamil to be used as an administrative language in the North & East & by legislation in 1958 it was applicable to the entire island. Moreover, Tamils were allowed to educate their children in Tamil & this still exists. Tamils going to France cannot demand to have their education in Tamil – they must learn French, similarly all those other countries that are non-English speaking. But going further Sri Lanka has officially declared in the 1978 Constitution that Tamil is a national language – can there be some appreciation of this.

For 30 years the LTTE has gone on a killing spree – slaughtering sleeping children, assassinating Sinhala & Tamil leaders, killing even the clergy. Before even the break of war between the LTTE & the Government the LTTE cannot deny its role in ethnic cleansing – the genocide that occurred at the Kent & Dollar Farms in 1984 slaughtering inhumanely over 100 innocent men, women & children. Despite all these heinousness they have only 3 incidents of riots to showcase – the 1st occurring in 1958, around 100 Tamils died but it must be noted in retaliatory attacks 56 Sinhalese fishermen were massacred by Tamils. Yet though this goes down as an “ethnic” riot we must not forget that some Sinhala Police officers who tried to protect the Tamil civilians were also attacked & some Sinhalese educated in English & who were unable to read the Sinhala newspaper were also attacked by mobsters. The Buddhist Naga Vihara Temple in Jaffna was also burnt down. When the Government did declare Emergency Chelvanayagam’s Federal Party & the JVP were both banned. The next incident came almost 20 years later in 1977 barely a month after the UNP Government came into power, their supporters having set fire to the Jaffna Public Library which had the finest volumes of Tamil literature in the region. Around 100 Tamils perished during the 1977 riots. Former Chief Justice, Mr. M. C. Sansoni, a non Sinhalese who headed the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the 1977 riots stated “The cry for EElam” raised by the TULF was the main cause for the disturbances”……”therefore the first measure, I would like to recommend to prevent a recurrence of this type of disturbance is that this claim for Eelaam be abandoned”. What we can make of this statement is that Tamil politicians sacrificed their own people for political mileage.

The next riot took place 6 years later in 1983 & is known as the Black July riots. If the riots of 58 & 77 had killed around 200 people the riots of 1983 were said to have been orchestrated by the UNP Government & not a spontaneous upsurge of communal hatred as some would have the world believe.

Those who enjoy projecting Sri Lanka as a country torn apart by ethnic strife & genocide – there are only 3 cases to actually show & deaths that do not even number 1500 where as the LTTE has been responsible for deaths number over 80,000 which include mostly Sinhalese but also includes Muslims & Tamils as well. But the State also took a firm stand in the JVP insurrections of 1971 & 1989 where over 30,000 Sinhala youths were killed to repel the insurrection & the 1989 also claimed 5000 lives. No human rights groups came forward on behalf of these Sinhala youths.

So what can we make of this present scenario? It is true Sri Lanka has been engaged in a conflict that has lasted 30 years, it is true that India was a very notable participant by creating the monster & now unable to stop it, it is true that we have had international participation for whatever reasons to negotiate & find a settlement. Somewhere down this path we seem to have missed the bus because we are made to talk peace, discuss solutions with people who are not interested in anything other than making a living by waging terror completely discounting the real people who are suffering. The LTTE may have at its zenith comprised of 15,000 hard core cadres but we must first ask whether what the LTTE wants is what the 2.4 million Tamil populations wants? In forcing the State to constrict its peace discussions with the LTTE discounting the other armed or unarmed Tamil groups the international community including India has erred. It is best that the world take the LTTE for what it is – banned in 32 nations, wanted by Interpol, condemned by the FBI….why have they been banned, why is the Interpol after the LTTE & why should the FBI claim the LTTE more dangerous than the Al Qaeda if all they seek is to liberate the Tamil people from Sinhala discrimination? The farce must end despite LTTE’s ability to win favorable sympathies on the strength of their kickbacks to foreign parliamentarians & other international agency heads.

India today is faced with a crisis in Jammu & Kashmir, bombs are going off in public places, terrorism has risen its ugly head & religious disharmony has seen Indians burnt alive & Churches attacked & vandalized & Christians attacked….India needs to finally admit that terrorism is not a very welcome entity – not for India & should not be Sri Lanka too. India should not have to be reminded of LTTE links to India’s homegrown terrorists – the Weerappans, the Naxalities etc…why does India still want save a drowning LTTE?

India did not desire Sri Lanka to develop into a nation similar to that of Singapore – it preferred to have a neighbor with a cancerous wound & be ever dependent on India. India today has been able to secure very important economic enterprises in Sri Lanka & it can be assured that whatever ill India has done to Sri Lanka, the people still have a very high regard for India.
But, with India disassociating itself by taking a very high handed approach & becoming an ally of a financially unstable US, it makes us wonder how many “friends” India has in the region & if India wishes to be an antagonist or opt instead to win the respect of all its neighbors including Russia & China.

Pandit Nehru learnt this the hard way. After the humiliation suffered in 1962 at the hands of the Chinese he confessed in a tremulous voice over radio: "We had been living in an artificial world of our own creation" – we hope India will not make any further mistakes.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Indian Express: All-party error

The Tamil Nadu political establishment’s emotive use of Sri Lankan issues has shaken governments in Delhi often enough; and, as the recently concluded meeting of members of the parliamentary parties of the DMK, the PMK, and the Tamil Nadu wings of the Congress and the Left parties shows, the Sri Lankan civil war is still a powerful disruptive force at the Centre. The meeting demanded that the UPA Government ensure a ceasefire in the civil war within two weeks, or their MPs would resign en masse from the Lok Sabha. Given the numbers in Parliament, this moves from being a mark of personal protest, or the people’s representatives expressing the will of their constituents, and becomes an attempt at blackmailing the Central government on behalf of a particular state’s co-ethnics.

The reason why now is obvious: the Sri Lankan army is close to retaking the crucial town of Kilinochchi; the LTTE has its back against the wall militarily. In the past, the Tigers have called for ceasefires to help them regroup and re-arm; it is understandable that that the Sri Lankan military is chary about granting them more. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has responded to the Tamil MPs’ call by stating that civil wars of the sort that Sri Lanka has suffered since 1983 are not ended by military victory alone, but through negotiated settlement; while also expressing concern about the human cost being borne by the 220,000 people displaced by the fighting. It is clear, however, that Delhi does not intend to question Sri Lanka’s sovereign right to end terrorism on its territory, nor should it.

Tamil Nadu’s political establishment must be satisfied with that. India’s policy orientation about the civil war is delicate and nuanced — balancing concerns about human rights, sovereignty and militancy, all while taking into account the troubled history of Indian involvement in the fighting. The demands of Tamil ethnic politics cannot be allowed to disturb that.

Indian Express

DNA India: Dangerous move

The DMK cannot be allowed to play petty politics and interfere in Sri Lanka's internal affairs, which goes against our foreign policy

The ultimatum of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) to the Manmohan Singh government that all the 39 Tamil Nadu members of Parliament (MPs) will resign if it fails to pressure the Sri Lankan government to declare a ceasefire in the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is nothing but political blackmail. The DMK has always flirted with the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils, which is fired by a dangerous kind of populism.

Though the all-party resolution on Tuesday is couched in a language which expressed concern over the civilian population in northern Lanka, it is a way of helping indirectly the banned terrorist organisation, the LTTE, which had a hand in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. In reality, the support of DMK and others for the cause of Tamils across the Palk Strait has always meant support for Lankan Tamil terrorist organisations.

It might perfect realpolitik on the part of Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi to flex his political muscle when the general elections are just six months away. He may even be looking for an excuse part ways with the UPA. But this is cynical and immoral.

The DMK has to accept the simple, if unpalatable, fact that there is no room for playing pan—Tamil politics across national borders. Unfortunately, various Central governments have succumbed to arm-twisting by Dravidian parties on this subject on the false assumption that there is something common between the Tamils in India and in Sri Lanka.

Forty years ago, the problem of the Indian Tamils in Sri Lanka was solved through the Shastri-Bandaranaike pact through which half the plantation workers were repatriated to India and the rest granted Lankan citizenship. It is an altogether different case with the Jaffna Tamils in the northern part of the island which the LTTE claims to represent. They had migrated to the island some 1000 years ago and they belong to Sri Lanka.

From the late 1950s, Sinhala political parties did play a chauvinist majoritarian game of discriminating against Tamils, but it is now an internal matter and up to the Lankan government to address their grievances. India does not enter the picture. More importantly, India cannot support a secessionist movement and terrorist organisation like the LTTE.

The Lankan government has assured that it would protect the lives of the Tamil civilians. India will have to accept the assurance in good faith. The DMK cannot be allowed to play its petty politics and interfere in the internal affairs of a neighbouring country, which goes against the grain of Indian foreign policy. The UPA must send this resounding message to the DMK.

DNA India