Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

Home Whats New  Trans State Nation  One World Unfolding Consciousness Comments Search
Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings - Adrian Wijemanne > High Security Zones

Tamil National Forum

Selected Writings - Dr. Adrian Wijemanne

High Security Zones

26 March 2002

1. High security zones which have become such a vexed subject of contention between the GOSL and the LTTE lately have received only a passing mention in the Agreement on a Ceasefire of 23rd February 2002 ( loosely called the Memorandum of Understanding ). Article 2.2 of The Agreement provides for places of religious worship falling within high security zones to be returned to civilian control by 25th March 2002. That is the only mention of high security zones. Article 2.11 ( I ) refers to �security forces� camps on the coast� but high security zones are mentioned only in Article 2.2 in the very limited way mentioned above.

2. However, it is now known that in the thickly populated Jaffna peninsula the 30,000 or so troops of the GOSL stationed there are located in �high security zones� comprising considerable extents of private residential and agricultural property from which their owners and occupiers have been evicted . The present imbroglio is about having some of these lands released from military occupation and returned to their former use. The GOSL�s military commanders in Jaffna seem to be reluctant to release any land and, instead, have asked the LTTE to disarm or redeploy its forces in the near vicinity as a precondition for any release of these lands. The army commander�s letter to the LTTE on this subject contains the word �terrorist� which does not appear anywhere in the Agreement between the GOSL and the LTTE. Perhaps with a view to defusing some of the tension built up already the GOSL has engaged a retired Indian military officer, Lt.General Satish Nambiar to look into the matter and recommend a compromise. He has met with GOSL officers in Jaffna and civilian organisations in Jaffna who have an interest in a solution but the LTTE has had no meeting with him so far. He has made it clear that there are both political and practical aspects to the problem and that his remit is only to the practical aspects and not to the political.

The practical aspects of the problem

3. From some commentaries in the English language press in Colombo it is possible to deduce that there is a triumphalistic feeling about the presence of such a large GOSL military force in the Jaffna peninsula. It is said that however hard it tried the LTTE was unable to expel these GOSL forces from its heartland . On the other hand the forces in question find themselves surrounded by an hostile population in a thickly inhabited area.

Until the Agreement was concluded the food , fuel and supplies needed by these forces were transported by sea and air; now though a land route is open it passes through a considerable mileage of LTTE held land. It is a very precarious situation for any military force to be in and in the event of a resumption of hostilities its plight could be dire indeed. So its desire to see the LTTE disarmed or ,at least, relocated so that its long-range artillery could not reach the high security zones is understandable. In short, the �security� in the phrase �high security zones� is the security of the GOSL forces in the virtual state of siege in which they now are.

The understandable apprehensions of the GOSL forces can be dispelled only if the surrounding population becomes well disposed towards them. Not only is this an impossibility so long as they are excluded from their homes and agricultural lands but on the contrary the very peace that has been established by the Agreement promotes an ever growing pressure for the return of the lands in question which when frustrated by refusal raises the level and intensity of hostility. The situation may be likened to a powder keg which far from being defused is, instead, being primed for an explosion.

4. The other side to the practical aspects of the problem is the unenviable, indeed intolerable, situation of the people whose properties have been forcibly requisitioned by the GOSL forces. Many of them languish in indescribable conditions in squalid refugee camps supplied with meagre hard rations by NGO�s both foreign and local. Nor have they been told of what compensation will be paid to them for the deprivation they have suffered and continue to suffer. This has been their plight for the last seven years and the government which is responsible for their welfare has not evinced the slightest interest, let alone sense of urgency, in restoring their homes and lands to them.

On the contrary, the government admits virtually that it is unable to deal with the problem which is why Satish Nambiar had to be called in. Any compromise recommended by Satish Nambiar could well be acceptable neither to the GOSL forces nor to the evicted landowners throwing back on to the government the hard decision of what should be done. Which brings us directly to the political aspects of the problem which Satish Nambiar has said, quite rightly, is not a matter for him.

The political aspects of the problem

5. There are very fundamental issues that lie at the very heart of the problem. Thirty thousand Sinhala troops find themselves besieged in the Jaffna peninsula as the direct result of the policies of a succession of Sinhala governments which had only one answer to the secessionist demands of the Tamil people, namely, the military answer. It was relied on long before the LTTE came into being. Indeed, it was that policy that brought the LTTE into being and fashioned it into the powerful entity it now is. This is not a phenomenon peculiar to Sri Lanka. In many other countries military force has been relied on to deal with political issues unpalatable to the government in power. Some of them are governments which should have known better on the basis of their own history.

Today, British troops patrol the towns and villages of Northern Ireland and its challenger, the IRA, grows in strength and influence all the time, unvanquished and unvanquishable. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia depended on military force to suppress the nationalistic urges of its several nations which strove for a looser bond. Just this week it vanished finally from the international scene, to be replaced by the joint state of Serbia-Montenegro which has a few common institutions and in which referenda will be held in each state in three years time to decide on complete sovereign independence. The high security zones are the result of massive policy failure and the urgent, dangerous possibilities they pose can only be dealt with by a fundamental change of policy abandoning the military route for an attempt to win the hearts and minds of the Tamil people.

6. We must begin to understand that the people of the Tamil nation inhabiting the northeast of the island have a perfect right to rule themselves in a state of their own. They do not deny that right to us. They acknowledge that we have a perfect right to rule ourselves in a state of our own where we live. It is our refusal to recognize that right in them that has led to 18 years of war and our ignominious defeat at the hands of the LTTE. In the sonorous rhetoric of the Vaddukoddai Resolution, exactly 200 years after the American Declaration of Independence, the Tamil nation opted for complete independence in 1976. An year later, at a general election conducted by the Sri Lankan government, they voted overwhelmingly for the aspirations of that Resolution. In 18 years of relentless war and heroic sacrifice against the Indian Army and the GOSL army they have won the right to self rule in their homeland.

7. It is we, not they, who desire that the Tamil nation should dwell in the same state as ourselves. At our unremitting urging for a single state their leader. Mr.Pirapaharan, has now expressed his willingness to accede to our request on the basis of complete internal self-rule within a single state. He has made it quite unambiguously clear that if that proves unattainable the alternative will be complete, separate independence. There can be no more sure and certain way of demonstrating to him and his people the impossibility of living together in peace and dignity in a single state than insistence on the maintenance of high security zones amongst his people not only in the Jaffna peninsula but also elsewhere in the northeast of the island. The time has come for the tectonic plates that have underlain our failed policies to undergo a seismic change. The military option has to be abandoned root and branch for a rational accommodation with our heroic neighbours on the basis of equality and good-neighbourliness. Then, and only then, can they and we sit down together to fashion a new state which will satisfy the rights and aspirations of our two nations.



Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home