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TAMIL NATIONAL FORUM
Bloody New Year
Editorial, Oru Paper , 17 January 2008
Through out the last two weeks of 2007, most people in the world celebrated the memory of the anointed Messiah and welcomed a peaceful and prosperous new year.
But for the Tamils in Sri Lanka these two weeks have been more violent and bloody than the previous fifty. Throughout the Christmas and New Year period the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) intensified its murderous activities in the Tamil Northeast. It is sending its armed forces deeper and deeper into the Tamil Northeast in order to cow and pacify the Tamil people as 2008 dawns. It continues to exercise its long terrorist tradition of forcing the civilian population from their lands, indulge in large scale killings and in the destruction of homes and infrastructure.
All these have been occurring while an internationally monitored cease fire was in place.
Mockery isn't it?
Last week one of the gentlemen orchestrating this anti-Tamil war said exactly that.
In an interview, Sri Lankan President's brother and the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa described the ceasefire as a "joke". This American citizen further described the internationallyrecognised ceasefire agreement as just a "document" and called his beloved brother to "abolish the ceasefire agreement".
A few days later the Sri Lanka's President and Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces as well as the Minister of Defence, Mahinda Rajapaksa, did exactly that. With this act the GOSL has disengaged from talking peace with Tamils and has declared open war on them.
The significance of GOSL's disengagement is the effective freezing of the peace process. By doing so the GOSL is making sure that there will not be a political dialogue with the Tamils in the foreseeable future. Thus it freezes the political process that forces people, institutions and the international community to discuss and negotiate about the democratic rights of the Tamils. Thus it prevents the recognition of the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a nation, the existence of an identified homeland for the Tamils and the right of self-determination of the Tamil nation.
This whole discussion has been removed from the daily agenda for an unlimited period of time with the stroke of a pen. In the mean time the murderous GOSL hopes to militarily weaken the Tamils and to establish the peace of a grave yard in the Tamil Northeast.
Peace Process is Dead
Almost six years after the signing of the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA), it is again the subject to debate: was the CFA and the subsequent peace talks a historical mistake of the Tamils? In the past, only the pessimists among us said so. They talked about historical mistakes and so on and predicted doom and gloom. Now the CFA is dead the debate is alive again among all sections of the Tamils. With the wisdom of hindsight, some of us are arguing that the Norwegian "facilitated" peace process is to blame for the dismal political situation of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.
What truth is there in this?
The majority of the Tamil Diaspora supported the CFA & peace talks whole heartedly.
This is because after decades of denial, through this CFA the GOSL recognised the Tamils as a political and military entity that achieved parity. That was a historic step. This recognition happened in the minds of millions of people too, including the Sinhalese.
We all predicted that this would create dynamism for peace that would overcome all the negative aspects of
Sri Lankan politics in the end.
Further, the Tamils thought that we should learn from the Zionists as they never said "No." At every stage the Zionists agreed to accept what was offered to them, and immediately went on to strive for more. The Palestinians, on the contrary, always said "No" and lost.
This view was accepted by most of the Tamil Diaspora at that time and has since determined the direction of the peace camp among the Tamils.
But the main hope – that the dynamism of peace would dominate the process of CFA and peace talks was not realized.
The CFA and peace talks were meant to be a historic turning point. It should have put an end to the Sri Lankan conflict, which is a clash between an irresistible force (the offensive Sinhalese-Buddhist Nationalism) and an immovable object (the defensive Tamil Nationalism).
This did not happen.
Lacking a clear and agreed-upon aim, the CFA & peace talks gave rise to a situation that has almost no precedent. That was not understood at the time, nor is it clearly understood today.
Usually, when a national liberation movement reaches its goal, the change takes place in one move. A day before, the French ruled Algeria,on the morrow it was taken over by the freedom fighters. The governance of South Africa was transferred from the white minority to the black majority in one sweep.
In Tamil Homeland, an entirely different situation was created: an authority with state-like trappings was indeed set up in parts of Tamil Homeland, but the Sri Lankan occupation did not end. This situation was much more dangerous than perceived initially.
There was a sharp contradiction between the "state in the making" and the continuation of the liberation struggle. The need to go on with the struggle clashed with the need to strengthen the Tamil quasi-state.
The Tamils might conclude from this that the very creation of the CFA & peace talks was a mistake. That it was wrong to stop, or even to limit, the armed struggle against the occupation. There are those who say that the Tamils should not have signed any agreement with the devious and untrustworthy GOSL as this encouraged the illusion that a historic peace process had been achieved.
It is still too early to judge, for better or for worse. The 2002 CFA and the subsequent peace talks do not belong to the past. They belong to the present. What future they may have depends on us.