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 - Ana Pararajasingham > The EU Ban: Impact on the Peace Process

Selected Writings
Ana Pararajasingham, Australia

The EU Ban: Impact on the Peace Process

24 October 2005

On 29th September, the European Union (EU) in a sternly worded statement announced to the world at large that delegations from the LTTE would no longer be received in any of the EU Member States until further notice. In making this announcement, it linked the LTTE to the murder �of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and of so many others�.

There was nothing in the statement on the murders of Tamil journalists, activists, and senior members of the LTTE by paramilitary forces operating in tandem with the Sri Lankan armed forces. Nor was there any mention of the non-implementation of clause 1.8  of the Cease-Fire Agreement, which, had been identified by the co chairs to the peace as the major impediment to the peace process. Instead, there was an explicit warning that the EU was �actively considering the formal Listing of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation�

The Statement by the EU was clearly meant to be partisan and designed to leave no doubt as to where it stood in the conflict between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka.

Until then the EU had appeared and acted in a neutral manner befitting a facilitator. There were not only visits by LTTE delegations to EU countries but also a visit by the EU�s Minister for External Affairs, Mr Chris Patten to the Tamil controlled area, during which he met the national leader. On these occasions and others, the LTTE had conveyed to the EU its own point of view on developments during the peace process, its disappointment with the collapse of mechanisms to deliver humanitarian relief and its frustration at the failure to implement clause 1.8 of the CFA.

The LTTE clearly regarded this access to the international community as a useful and constructive approach to resolving its conflict with the Sri Lankan regime. There was hope that despite the �power politics� that was being played out in the South, the international community could help the Tamil people in their quest for a just solution.

In July this year, frustrated by the intransigence of the Sinhalese and pinning their hopes in the international community, Tamils had called on the international community to help them realise peace with justice. The declaration by a cross section of the Tamil people who had gathered in the �border� town of Vavunia was specifically directed at the international community.

The EU travel ban has served to demonstrate the futility of placing such hope

Why then did the EU impose such a ban?

The EU's patently partisan position in imposing this travel ban appears to have been influenced by one or all of the following:

� The personal and sustained diplomatic attempts of career diplomats of the calibre of Jayantha Dhanapala (followed by visits by the Sri Lankan President) seeking measures 'to pressure the LTTE'. While on the surface, the ban seems to be the answer to Dhanapala�s assertion in Washington that �The route of appeasement or the �carrot and more carrots� approach, have (sic) not worked with the LTTE�, it is unlikely to be the major factor.

� The notion that three and a half years of �no war, no peace�, the defection of Karuna, the activities of the paramilitary and the immense hardship imposed by the tsunami had weakened the LTTE's resolve. The EU ban in this context can be interpreted as a further attempt to pressure the LTTE and impose an arrangement favourable to Government of Sri Lanka.

� The assumption that the Sinhala polity could be weaned away from the 'extremist' Sinhala chauvinists by enabling the 'moderate' Ranil Wickramasinghe to claim that the EU ban to be the 'safety net' that he had sought.

What then are the immediate and potential consequences of the EU Ban?

First and foremost, the EU travel ban has effectively destroyed the LTTE�s capacity to negotiate with the Sri Lankan regime as an equal. And not being an equal the LTTE is constrained in its capacity to negotiate. Nelson Mandela�s observation that �Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts� aptly reflects the LTTE� predicament.

Secondly, it has made the Tamil people realise that their faith in the International Community was misplaced and that the situation is not unlike the one they faced when the Indian Government turned on them.

Thirdly, it has strengthened the hand of those Sinhalese opposed to any kind of political power sharing with the Tamil people. In its Statement on the EU Ban, the Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations had this to say

�The obvious glee with which the Sinhala media responded to the travel ban is a clear indicator that the Sinhala polity regards the EU as not being opposed to a military solution anymore and the GoSL is free to pursue its own agenda. Influential sections of the Sinhala owned media have referred to the EU Declaration as a �slap in the face� to Norway and an �ultimatum� to the LTTE-led Tamil National Movement. What is worse, they see the Declaration as virtual support for the Sri Lankan government�s non-implementation of key provisions of the February 2002 Cease Fire Agreement�

The belated attempt on 4, October by the British High Commission on behalf of European Union in its capacity as the Chair of the EU that such an interpretation was 'false and misleading' is unlikely to have any effect on the Sinhala polity.

The Sinhala ultra nationalists who control the Sri Lankan armed forces can only be emboldened by the EU's action which was announced in the wake of an unprecedented increase in the defence budget to US$700m.

In combination, the EU ban does not augur too well for negotiations to take place. Instead, it can encourage the Sinhala nationalists to resume their attempts to impose a military solution and the LTTE to regain its equality by thwarting this attempt.




Mail Us Copyright 1998/2009 All Rights Reserved Home