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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings - Professor P Ramasamy > Prof Muni & the Sri Lanka Devolution Package

Selected Writings by Prof P.Ramasamy

Prof Muni of J.Nehru University
& the Sri Lankan Devolution Package

12 July 2000

[see also Media & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam]

Prof Muni of  J. Nehru University India has finally emerged from hibernation. Years spent as the Indian High Commissioner in Laos has probably stunted his thinking on the South Asian region and on the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict in particular.

Coming back to the backwaters of Indian academic and not to be left out in the anti-LTTE crusade, he has joined the bandwagon that presently being spearheaded by the editor of the Hindu and Frontline.

His first outburst appeared very recently in the Hindu in which he castigated the LTTE for rejecting the devolution package that seeks to provide an Interim Council for Tamils in the north and east.

More than this, he hails the agreement reached on the devolution plan by the two erstwhile enemies-the PA and UN-and feels strongly that only the military defeat of the LTTE would enable Tamils in Sri Lanka to live in peace and comfort. His arguments are:

a) that the present devolution package adopted seems to incorporate some important features of the Thimpu principles;

b) that the acceptance of the devolution package would throw asunder the modus operandi of the LTTE predicated on illicit economic activities and control by terror and intimidation;

c) and that the LTTE is not really that powerful militarily as it has been made out and the success of the devolution package would depend very much defeating the LTTE.

By simplistically focusing on the devolution package and the Interim Council, Muni commits the cardinal mistake of not viewing the Tamil problem from a wider context.

He makes the assertion that present devolution package takes into account most the principles thrashed out at the Thimpu talks with the exception of the principle of self-determination. Anyway at this point in time, nobody seems fully aware of the contents of the devolution package. It has not gone to the parliament yet. One really wonders how  Muni can categorically state that it incorporates the major features of the Thimpu talks.

He really does not understand why the LTTE would want to reject this marvellous plan. The LTTE rejected not the only the plan of the IPKF but also the package offered by the present government in 1995. These were rejected as they did not satisfy the national aspirations of Tamil people. Not only has the LTTE rejected the present plan, Tamil political parties who are aligned with the government have also rejected the plan as totally inappropriate to the Tamil people. It is yet to be determined whether UNP will go along with the package. Even if the Sinhala parties agree, the devolution package will not have any teeth without the participation of the Tamil parties inclusive of the LTTE.

There is another dimension to the devolution plan conveniently avoided by Muni. Without the pressure from the U.S., European Union and India, the Sri Lanka government would not have undertaken this plan. But then as everybody knows, the government is not sincere in resolving the Tamil problem. The devolution package that is being presently mooted seems more directed to appeasing world opinion rather than addressing Tamil national grievances. The government by pushing for a artificial federal plan seeks to deflect the demands of the LTTE which wants an independent state of Eelam. Of all the parties, the government knows very well that the LTTE would never accept such a plan. It would be a major entrapment.

The LTTE is too seasoned and clever to fall into the trap set by the Sinhala chauvinists. Agreeing to such a devious plan would mean among other matters,  the LTTE betraying its own struggle, its principles, the spirit and dedication of thousands of cadres who died valiantly for the cause of Eelam.

Muni, Ram and Cho can come out with their bizarre analysis. They can do whatever within their means to deflect and slow down the struggle waged by the LTTE. But the LTTE will always remain true to its principles - it will never betray the aspirations of Tamil people. The overwhelming support it obtains from ordinary Tamils from countries like Malaysia, Singapore, India, Mauritius, South Africa, Botswana and others will be never extinguished.

Muni seems to argue that real reason why the LTTE rejected the devolution package is because such an acceptance would mean among other things the loss of money from its illicit economic operations and eschewing violence. This is the most bizarre argument that I have heard so far; even the arch-reactionary Sri Lankan government's argument is slightly more sophisticated. Despite attempts by many agencies to expose the "misdeeds" of the LTTE, none has to date proved that LTTE is involved in gun-running, drug trade and other illegal fund raising activities.

Given the fact that it is one of the most disciplined guerrilla forces in the world, it would be prespoterous to assume that the LTTE would engage in drugs and illegal activities. Members of the LTTE do not smoke or drink. LTTE cadres do not kill civilians or engage in rape against innocent women unlike the notorious members of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Peaceful methods to resolve the ethnic question has miserably failed due to intransigence of the Sinhala elite.

The LTTE had no choice but to take up arms to defend the legitimate rights of Tamils in the country. The LTTE is not a social club where the Tamil question could be debated over drinks and other forms socialising. It is the supreme liberation army of the toiling Tamil masses who have been betrayed by both Tamil and Sinhala elite. It is my unshakeable faith that the LTTE is the only organisation that can resolve the Tamil nationality question by reliance on armed struggle. Independent Eelam is inevitable; enemies of the LTTE can do all they want. Once the Tamil question is resolved there is no reason why the LTTE would not pass administration of Eelam to civilians.

And finally, Muni is of the misguided perception that since the LTTE would not partake in any peace talks including the one on devolution, the only option left is to militarily defeat it and bring it to the peace talks. Muni is part of the larger establishment in India that is trying its very best to discredit the LTTE internationally.

Given the fact that the LTTE has emerged out of its international isolation and has attained a good measure of support from some of the countries that were originally against it, the anti-LTTE establishment in India is worried. It is worried that the LTTE would be able to embark on its quest more systematically. In other words, worried that it would be able to annihilate the Sri Lankan military establishment especially the forces located in Jaffna and establish its objective of an independent Tamil Eelam.

Muni is not the only person in this game; Indian media-the Hindu, Frontline, Indian Express and others are similarly involved in the campaign to discredit the LTTE. But all these forces miss one point. The LTTE is not a renegade hit and run outfit. It is not terrorist organisation like the Sri Lankan armed forces who continue to kill and maim innocent Tamils. It is the liberation army of the Tamil people; it has the support of the entire Tamil Diaspora.

How are Sri Lanka and its allies  going to finish off LTTE as a potent military force remains to seen. Muni does not admit the fact that the Sri Lankan invading force has nearly been decimated from the Tamil homeland. The LTTE holds about 70 percent of the Tamil areas in the north and east. Tamil Eelam has been established on a de facto basis; it is only a matter of time before Jaffna falls...

If Muni wants to defeat the LTTE then he should sponsor a grand plan to decimate the entire Tamil population from the face of the earth. Like his anti-LTTE friends, he continues to underestimate the strength and vitality of the LTTE. Despite being banned in India, it continues to enjoy unprecedented support among the Tamil youth.

In Malaysia, nearly 75 percent of the Tamils continues to support it both materially and morally. In Mauritius, South Africa, England, Europe and North America there is no shortage of funds or moral support for the LTTE that spearheads the liberation movement.

In other words, contrary to his thinking, the LTTE is representative of the vast majority of the Tamil Diaspora in the world. There is no other organisation in the world today that has given Tamils pride, dignity and honour as the LTTE.

Prabhakaran is not just the leader of the organisation, he is the leader of the world Tamils. No force in the world can finish off the LTTE. No Tamil with dignity and pride would want to see the LTTE go. It is the symbol of Tamil progress in the 21st century.


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