Many sections, even of the Sri Lankan people, seem to have forgotten certain salient, incontrovertible facts pertaining to the relative historical, geographical and demographic configuration of the Sinhala community vis a vis the Tamil.
One single fact which is irrefutable and should for that reason be recognised and acknowledged as being of over-riding importance in any objective analysis of the ethnic issue in a genuine democratic context, is the single, critically relevant demographic statistic that stands out obtrusively amidst the vast historical distortions, downright lies and concocted myths which even today, pass off as gospel in some Western countries.
The Sinhalese who constitute the overwhelming majority comprise 74 per cent of the total population. This incontrovertible statistic alone exposes the complete falsity and the hollowness of the propaganda spread by the LTTE to delude and inveigle the international community into believing the 'unjust and undemocratic actions' of the Sinhalese in dealing with the Tamils.
The Tamil population, it should be clearly underscored consists of only 12 per cent of the total population of the island with the Muslims comprising 7 per cent and the Estate Tamils who are now for the most part citizens and who are descendants of indentured Indian labour, comprising around 6 per cent. The fundamental principle of majority rule in democratic governance would incontrovertibly place the majority Sinhalese as the major force in the democratic electoral process.
The geographical dispersion of the respective proportions of the demographic ethnic composition of the island would be a clear pointer to the definitive numerical preponderance the Sinhalese enjoy islandwide, over the other ethnic groups, with the exception of the Northern Province.
It is only in the Northern Province that the overwhelming influence of the Tamils as the preponderant community is felt, most markedly after the summary expulsion of the Sinhalese and the Muslims from that Province by the LTTE in 1976/77.
Most of the Muslims and Sinhalese who were driven away from the Northern peninsula still languish in refugee camps unable to go back to the areas where they were living prior to their expulsion.
In the Eastern Province, which was merged with the Northern Province purely as a transitional arrangement till such time as a referendum is conducted to ascertain the views of the people in the Eastern Province on the permanent merger of the two Provinces, it must be asserted that the racial composition of the three major communities living in the Eastern Province is basically of equal proportions.
The Jaffna peninsula and the area which forms the present day Northern Province may have been ruled by local rulers and Vanniyars who had, going on historical evidence, acknowledged the suzerainty of the Kings in the South. This allegiance of the peninsula and the Vanni rulers to the Kings in the South may have varied with the power and influence exercised at different stages, by the Southern kingdoms.
History however records that as far as the Eastern Province was concerned, it unquestionably was a part of the ancient Anuradhapura and Polonnaruwa kingdoms and latterly a part of the Kandyan kingdom. (The Mahawansa, archaeological remains, accounts left by Baldeus, Van Goens, Queyroz, references by Tamil historians like Prof. Arasaratnam and Prof. Indrapala, the visits of De Weert, de Lanerolle, John Phybus etc. all testify to this fact).
This is indeed an irrefutable historical fact, indisputably acknowledged by historians both foreign and local despite the recent rash of spurious theories that have been blatantly advanced and amplified in support of the ridiculously extravagant claim that the entire Eastern Province right through history, constituted an exclusive Tamil area!
The current scenario presents indeed, a unique instance where a ruthless band of terrorists who have been categorised as such by the powerful nations in the West, and who have denied the right of exercising the democratic franchise to the Tamil people, are being treated as the "sole representatives of the Tamil people" by implication, by the very same countries that have banned them.
This is by virtue of the former treating the LTTE as an equal partner in any confabulation between the democratically elected Sri Lankan Government and these terrorists, expected to eventually lead to a durable political settlement of the problem.
One cannot but be intrigued by the contradictory posturings of the powerful nations that are in the vanguard of the messianic endeavour to spread the democratic credo globally, to treat the most ruthless band of terrorists in the world as being on a par with a democratically elected Government by virtually coercing the latter to enter into talks with them hopefully leading to the forging of a political settlement of the issues involved.
How can these key players in our peace process treat the LTTE as the sole representative of the Tamil people with all the strident voices being raised in opposition by the Devanandas, the Karunas, the Jaffna University Teachers' Association (comprising leading Tamil intellectuals) and last but not the least, the farseeing and redoubtable Anandasangaree.
They have all unequivocally exposed the LTTE as a fascist group of terrorists who wish to continue in power by ruthlessly crushing all opposition to the totalitarian dictatorship imposed by them on the hapless Tamils who come under their writ.
Accepting the CFA was humiliating enough with all its inequity and the host of attendant disabilities that have to be borne by the Government, in glaring contrast to the distinct advantages conferred on the LTTE to extend their power and influence in Government controlled areas.
Additionally, the LTTE, as everyone knows, made good use of the CFA to consolidate their power in the areas coming under their writ and to stealthily extend their influence into Government controlled areas as well. Further, it is common knowledge that the LTTE used the ceasefire agreement to smuggle in arms, press-gang child soldiers and murder their opponents with impunity.
The CFA was a stupid faux pas as the LTTE would have been on the run following 9/11 and a little patience may have paid off handsomely for the new Government by getting the terrorists to the negotiating table on the Government's own terms. But the euphoria following on the newly won victory made the UNP impulsively plunge into the peace 'imbroglio'.
The removal of road barriers and the free movement of goods and people and the absence of large scale terrorist violence were hailed as harbingers of more substantial peace dividends to follow. The peace dividends, it must be said, were reaped bountifully by the LTTE rather than by the Government or the Sri Lankan people!
It is indeed baffling, to say the least, that the crusading zeal of the self appointed champions of democracy is being totally misdirected in Sri Lanka, to enervate, dismember and eventually destroy the territorial integrity of a sovereign State.
These are the basic questions that come to mind as we watch the unfolding of this tragic scenario where a band of terrorists having little truck with fundamental democratic norms, is being treated as an equal partner, on par with a legitimate, democratically elected Government.
It is but an act of pure malevolence to subject a Sovereign State to humiliation and belittlement. It is indeed heartening to see the EU, the US, Britain and Canada acting purposefully to curb the activities of the LTTE worldwide network by moving against their front organisations and their clandestine activities.
The LTTE are now in a proper quandary with funding sources, both international and local, for the purchase of sophisticated arms and weaponry, drying up rapidly.
Another particularly obnoxious claim of the LTTE which does violence to logical reasoning, is the bland if not impudent assertion is that what they have preposterously claimed as "the exclusive homeland of the Tamil people", is their exclusive preserve where no other community can have any abiding interest or even risk residing in.
What is fatuous and totally untenable is that while maintaining this exclusivity in their so called homeland, the great majority of the Tamil community happily share the balance areas of the island, on an equal footing, with the Sinhala and the Muslim communities!
Despite the unspeakable atrocities committed by the LTTE on the Muslims living in both the Northern and the Eastern provinces, they are now trying to father horrific massacres, like the most recent one in Potuvil, on the State Armed Services, to insidiously drive a wedge between the Sinhala and the Muslim people living in the Eastern Province. This is despite first hand evidence clearly pointing to the LTTE as the perpetrators of this mindless atrocity which also bears the unmistakable characteristic hallmarks of their appalling method of civilian slaughter.
What is disgusting is the way certain wildly ambitious and unscrupulous politicians, with their own hidden agenda, quickly attempt to make political capital of the misery and helplessness of their own people!
President Rajapaksa seems to be having a clear overview of the entire problem and would I feel, work towards a practical democratically acceptable solution which would find favour with all, with the exception perhaps, of the LTTE! The intransigence of the LTTE and their calcified mindset is all too well known to expect a miracle conversion to their acceptance of ground realities.
The Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement, which itself has been observed more in the breach, still unequivocally spells out that the question of merger/demerger being on the basis of a referendum. The people directly affected are those living in the Eastern Province and it is they who should be given the democratic option of deciding whether they should merge with the Northern Province or live separately in the Eastern Province. This is their inalienable democratic right and should be conceded by all those who steadfastly subscribe to the fundamental norms of democratic governance.
A political solution based on a federal structure appears to be a sine qua non of an abiding settlement of the ethnic issue. It is in the long term interests of the JVP and other political parties opposed to a federal solution to be pragmatic and accept such a solution in the larger national interest.
The international community and the key players who matter, would undoubtedly welcome it. It would further take the wind off the sails of the already leading Eelam ship which would be forced to drop anchor with the LTTE being compelled to abandon ship or alternatively founder on violently hostile waters.