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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam > United States & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam > US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka  Introduces Resolution in the US House of Representatives

United States & the struggle for Tamil Eelam

US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka 
Introduces Resolution in the US House of Representatives
"The facts can be whatever we want them to be..."

9 February 2006

[Comment by tamilnation.org Frank Pallone, Jr,  founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka, introduced a resolution on 9 February 2006 in the US House of Representatives. The text of the introduced resolution appears below. The words of Arundhati Roy in Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy (Buy One, Get One Free) come to mind -  "..Way back in 1988, on the 3rd of July, the U.S.S. Vincennes, a missile cruiser stationed in the Persian Gulf, accidentally shot down an Iranian airliner and killed 290 civilian passengers. George Bush the First, who was at the time on his presidential campaign, was asked to comment on the incident. He said quite subtly, "I will never apologize for the United States. I don't care what the facts are." I don't care what the facts are. What a perfect maxim for the New American Empire. Perhaps a slight variation on the theme would be more apposite: The facts can be whatever we want them to be...""]

Text of Resolution introduced by Frank Pallone, Jr,  founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka,  on 9 February 2006 in the US House of Representatives.

Whereas Sri Lanka is Asia's oldest democracy and remains a close friend of the United States;

Comment by tamilnation.org 

It is understandable that the Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka  regards Sri Lanka as a 'close friend' of the US. On 4 February 2006, in the governing council of the  International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Sri Lanka, as 'a close friend',  voted with the United States to report Iran to the UN Security Council. By doing so, it reversed  the stand of the Chandrika Kumaratunge government on 24 September 2005,  when Sri Lanka voted against the United States sponsored resolution on Iran. As for Sri Lanka being a democracy, well, 'close friends' are prone to help one another - what ever the facts may be. However, the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka should not find it surprising that the maxim 'facts can be whatever we want them to be' is not without limitation.  In the end, it is a question of credibility. Here, some of the facts that the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka chose to ignore (thereby rendering  its conclusion less credible)  include the following -

1. Abuse of political power led to Judges resignations says Sri Lanka State Bar, 9 February 2006 - "The resignation of two Senior Judges of the three-member Judicial Commission (JSC) of Sri Lanka, has caused shock and alarm within the legal community, civil society and trade unions in Colombo. The resignations, reported on the eve of Sri Lanka's 58th anniversary of gaining Independence, were due to the "simmering state of discontent prevailing for some time within the Judicial Service Commission," said Desmond Fernando, President, Bar Association of Sri Lanka, addressing a press conference in Colombo "

2. Free Media Movement calls for Immediate Investigation into Complaint by Sunday Leader Editor of threats by Sri Lanka President Rajapakse, 13 January 2006 - "The seriousness of a mere allegation that the President has allegedly used abusive and threatening language against a senior Editor sends shock waves in the media community and serves as a sombre reminder of the insecure and dangerous situation that journalists in Sri Lanka have to face."

3. Death threats and escalation of violence in Sri Lanka says Asian Human Rights Commission 17 May 2005 - "..The increase in death threats and intimidation to activists and journalists in Sri Lanka are alarming. In particular, there is concern that the situation may degenerate into that similar to the terror of the late 1980s.The law enforcement authorities have lost all semblance of control, with extrajudicial killings and death threats being made openly..." and

4. Sri Lanka's Elections : Fear and Intimidation Rule the Day - An Observer's Report - Laura Gross"...The progressive destruction of the political process in Sri Lanka has led to both domestic and international tolerance of an enormous amount of violence by the government (regardless of party affiliation) against its citizens. Increasingly, it seems that the government of Sri Lanka is accountable to no one - not its citizens, and not its foreign counterparts who rubber-stamped the recent parliamentary elections. In Sri Lanka's current political climate, power seems to be determined by the number of thugs a given politician has at his/her disposal..."

For the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka, these facts notwithstanding,  Sri Lanka is a democracy - and the oldest in Asia, at that. There is ofcourse the small matter of India having gained independence in August 1947 and Sri Lanka only in February 1948. But then it may be that the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka did not regard India as a democracy. Or again, it may be that the caucus took the view that even as a colony under the rule of the British, Sri Lanka was a democracy where the people ruled themselves.

Whereas more than 64,000 civilians have died and 350,000 persons have been internally displaced in Sri Lanka as a result of a 20-year armed conflict between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a group designated by the Department of State as a foreign terrorist organization;

Comment by tamilnation.org

It may have been helpful if the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka had taken the trouble to define terrorism. Unless, ofcourse it seeks to follow in the footsteps of  Humpty Dumpty in Alice in Wonderland -

"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less'. 'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things'. 'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all'." Lewis Carrol - Through the Looking Glass, c.vi

The Indian Supreme Court remarked recently "The UN member States still have no agreed-upon definition apparently on account of what at times reveal to be state sponsored terrorism, both at national and international levels."  An even handed approach may have even persuaded the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka to attend to the words of  Velupillai Pirabakaran in November 2005 -

 " There is no clear, coherent, globally acceptable definition of the concept of terrorism. As such, just and reasonable political struggles fought for righteous causes are also branded as terrorism. Even authentic liberation movements struggling against racist oppression are denounced as terrorist outfits. In the current global campaign against terror, state terrorism always finds its escape route and those who fight against state terror are condemned as terrorists. Our liberation organisation is also facing a similar plight..."

But even if it preferred to ignore the words of  Velupillai Pirabakaran,  the US Congressional Caucus may have gained by revisiting the words of  The Geneva Declaration on the Question of Terrorism, 1987  and the call made  for the liberation of political language along with the liberation of peoples.

"...The peoples of the world are engaged in a fundamental series of struggles for a just and peaceful world based on fundamental rights now acknowledged as sacred in a series of widely endorsed international legal conventions. These struggles are opposed in a variety of cruel and brutal ways by the political, economic and ideological forces associated with the main structures of domination present in the world that spread terrorism in a manner unknown in prior international experience... The terrorism of modern state power and its high technology weaponry exceeds qualitatively by many orders of magnitude the political violence relied upon by groups aspiring to undo oppression and achieve liberation... We condemn all those tactics and methods of struggle that inflict violence directly upon innocent civilians as such....  but, we must insist that terrorism originates with nuclearism, criminal regimes, crimes of state, high-technology attacks on Third World peoples, and systematic denials of human rights. It is a cruel extension of the terrorist scourge to taunt the struggles against terrorism with the label "terrorism". We support these struggles and call for the liberation of political language along with the liberation of peoples. Terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples..."

Whereas in 2002 the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam signed a cease-fire agreement;

Whereas peace talks between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been stalled since April 2003;

Comment by tamilnation.org 

It may have been helpful if the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka had made explicit to the US Congress, the contributions made by both the US and India to the 'stalling' of the peace process - helpful, so that the same mistakes are not repeated yet again. 

After the Oslo Declaration of 5 October 2002, where "..the parties agreed to explore a political solution founded on the principle of internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka..."  India let it be known on 9 December 2001 that "..there are serious concerns about the political shape of any power-sharing model as well as its ground-level implementation. Apart from the domestic issues involved, the serious question of the extradition of the LTTE leader, V. Prabakaran, a key accused and proclaimed offender in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, is of primary concern to any post-conflict scenario..."

 It was a view that was reiterated on 21 December 2002  by K. Natwar Singh, (then ex  Indian Foreign Minister, later to become Indian Foreign Minister in the Manmohan Singh government, and now once again an ex Foreign Minister) "...Under no circumstances would the Congress(I) agree to Pirabaharan getting any formal high office or position in the new set up in the North-East of Sri Lanka. He remains persona non grata with us..."

Again, 6 months after the Oslo Declaration, the United States found it unable to have the LTTE present at the crucial international donor conference held in Washington on 14 April 2003. In the letter of 20 April 2003 addressed to the Sri Lanka Prime Minister, suspending the negotiations the LTTE stated inter alia,

"We view the exclusion of the LTTE, the principle partner to peace and the authentic representatives of the Tamil people from discussions on critical matters affecting the economic and social welfare of the Tamil nation, as a grave breach of good faith.  Your government, as well as our facilitator Norway, are fully aware of the fact that the United States has legal constraints to invite representatives of a proscribed organisation to their country. In these circumstances an appropriate venue could have been selected to facilitate the LTTE to participate in this important preparatory aid conference. But the failure on the part of your government to do so gives cause for suspicion that this omission was deliberate. The exclusion of the LTTE from this conference has severely eroded the confidence of our people in the peace process."

The fact is that given the different end goals that the US and India have in the international frame, the policies of the United States and New Delhi in relation to  Sri Lanka and the LTTE are not always congruent. That is not to say that the United States will not cooperate with India. It will. It will seek to cooperate 'as a super power' - and the US believes that it has sufficient instruments in its armoury to do just that and it seems that one such instrument is the Norwegian sponsored Peace Process.  On the other hand, Indian Prime Minister Manmahon Singh has remarked  that he preferred the word  'multilateral' to even  'multi polar'. In this, New Delhi may count on the 'calibrated' support of the European Union, Russia, China and Iran amongst others. Here Dr. Michael A. Weinstein  recent comments on  Condoleezza Rice's Geostrategic Shift  are not without interest -

"..Rice's announcements culminate a major revision of Washington's overall geostrategy that has been in the making since 2004 when the failures of the Iraq intervention exposed the limitations of U.S. military capabilities and threw into question the unilateralist doctrine outlined in the administration's 2002 National Security Strategy... Rice's reforms are significant because they are embraced by a multipolar perspective on world politics that brings Washington into line with the other major power centers. .... other power centers will welcome Washington's acknowledgment of multipolarity at the same time that they will be challenged by it..."

It may appear to some that in 'embracing a multipolar perspective' the US is taking the approach  that in the emerging multipolar world, as in George Orwell's Animal Farm, all will be equal, but some will be more equal than others. It was perhaps all this that led Jonathan Goodhand and Bart Klem to suggest in Aid, Conflict & Peace Building in Sri Lanka 2000 - 2005 -

 "There is scope to think more creatively about the interfaces between diplomatic, development, humanitarian, and human rights actors, so that the distinctive approaches of each reinforce and complement (rather than undercut) one another. The same also applies to complementarity between countries - for instance the "good cop" roles of the European countries, versus the "bad cop" roles of India and the U.S..."

Whereas on August 12, 2005, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, was assassinated in a terrorist act that has been attributed to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam;

Comment by tamilnation.org 

The US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka  did not consider it relevant to state that some six months earlier, on 7 February 2005  E. Kousalyan, Head of the Liberation Tigers' political division for Batticaloa-Amparai district was assassinated in a terrorist act that was attributed to the Sri Lanka para military forces and that the killing was condemned by the UN Secretary General.  Neither did the Caucus  find the need to refer to the more recent murder of Tamil Parliamentarian and human rights activist, Joseph Pararajasingham on 25 December 2005. 

It appears that the  US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka did not want to embarrass a close friend. But given the silence, the Caucus should not be surprised if  many Tamils give credence to the report by the US based  think tank Stratfor in July 2004, that the " former LTTE Commander Karuna's defection was supported at the highest levels of the Sri Lankan government with tacit US approval." and that "the plan is to destabilize the Tigers, bait the group into confrontation and ultimately launch an offensive aimed at destroying the fractured Tamil movement once and for all. That was why the Sri Lankan government provided tacit support to Karuna during his rebellion and still is in regular contact with him."

Whereas December 2005 was the bloodiest month in Sri Lanka since the cease-fire agreement came into effect in 2002 due to a series of Claymore mine and suicide attacks against Security Forces of the Government of Sri Lanka by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam;

Comment by tamilnation.org

It appears that as a close friend of Sri Lanka, the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka chose to be silent on the violence perpretated on the Tamil people by the Sri Lanka military and para military forces during the same month of December 2005 including the rape and murder of Ilaiyathamby Tharshini; the firing at a peaceful demonstration march by Jaffna University students and staff; repeated arrests and harassment of Tamil journalists; the extra judicial killing of Jude Sugathy (Theresa) Croos , Jude Arokiyathass Fernando, Emmani Croos, Emmani Anthonikkam Croos; and the  extra judicial killing of Thambirajah Arulajanthan.

Whereas the United States remains deeply concerned about the continued violations of the cease-fire agreement in Sri Lanka, as marked by a recent series of violent incidents involving Claymore mine and suicide attacks;

Comment by tamilnation.org

Again, as a close friend of Sri Lanka, the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka chose to be silent on the 'recent series of violent incidents' in Tamil Eelam not marked by  'Claymore mine and suicide attacks', but marked by attacks by the Sri Lanka military and para military forces during the month of  January 2006. These incidents  included the extra judicial execution by the Sri Lanka military and para military forces of  Thangathurai Sivanantha Logithasan Rohanth Shanmugarajah Sajeenthiran,  Manoharan Rajeehar, Yogarajah Hemachandran Iyathurai Baskaran, Ramanathan Ratheeskumar, Thambiah Jeyarajah, Major Kapilan, Thambipillai Selvarajah, Ramalingam Suntheralingam, Kandasamy Vaikunthan, Anthonippillai Soosainather, Thevasahayampillai Jeyakumar Soosainather Subramaniam Sugirtharajan, Chandrakanthan Vijayatharson. Chandragajan Krishnagobi, Illayathamby Ramakrishnan, Thurairajah Ravichandran, Kanapathy Murugesu, Mariyanayagam Maruthanayagam, Suppiah Murugan, Sithambari Ganesaratnam, Visuvar Krishnan Bojan Renuka, Bojan Shanuka, Bojan Arthanageswary, Tharmarasan Tharmaseelan N Kandeepan ,T Tharmasri, Soosaithas K Marinthiran Sebastiampillai P Ruban Selvarajah Uthayarajah, S. Thanabalasingham, Balakrishnan Rajeevmohan, and Parimalarajah Robinson.

And as a close friend of Sri Lanka, the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka did not find the need to inform the US Congress that the new Sri Lanka President Rajapakse  had  reneged on the Oslo Declaration and had created the climate for the reign of terror unleashed by the Sri Lanka military and para military forces during the past two months.

Whereas Velupillai Prabhakaran, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, recently issued an ultimatum to the Government of Sri Lanka to come up with a political settlement within the next year or face an "intensified struggle for self-determination";

Comment by tamilnation.org 

It may have been helpful if the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka had informed the US Congress that the search for  a 'political settlement' has gone on for more almost  50 years since the Banadaranaike Chelvanayagam Agreement was abrogated by the Sinhala Prime Minister in 1957.  And, now twenty years after Thimpu, that which was said there continues to be relevant.

"As early as 1928, the Donoughmore Commission recommended the establishment of Provincial Councils on the ground that it was desirable that a large part of the administrative work of the centre should come into the hands of persons resident in the districts and thus more directly in contact with the needs of the area. Twelve years later the Executive Committee of Local Administration chaired by the late S.W.N.D. Bandaranaike, considered the proposal of the Donoughmore Commission and in 1940, the State Council (the legislature approved the establishment of Provincial Councils. But nothing was in fact done, though in 1947, on the floor of the House of Representatives, the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike again declared his support for the establishment of Provincial Councils.

In 1955, the Choksy Commission recommended the establishment of Regional Councils to take over the functions that were exercised by the Kacheries and in May 1957, the government of the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike presented a draft of the proposed Bill for the establishment of Regional Councils. Subsequently, in July 1957, the Bandaranaike-Chelvanayagam Pact made provision for direct election to Regional Councils and also provided that the subjects covered by Regional Councils shall include agriculture, cooperatives, lands and land development, colonisation and education. The Pact however did not survive the opposition of sections of the Sinhala community which included the United National Party.

In July 1963, the government of Mrs. Bandaranaike declared that early consideration' would be given to the question of the establishment of District Councils to replace the Kacheries and the government appointed a Committee on District Councils and the report of this Committee containing a draft of the proposed Bill to establish District Councils but again nothing was in fact done.

In 1965, the government of the late Dudley Senanayake declared that it would give 'earnest consideration' to the establishment of District Councils and in 1968 a draft Bill approved by the Dudley Senanayake Cabinet was presented as a White Paper and this Bill provided for the establishment of District Councils. This time round, the opposition to the Bill was spearheaded by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party which professed to follow the policies of the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who himself had in 1940, 1947 and again in 1957, supported the establishment of Provincial/Regional Councils. In view of the opposition the Dudley Senanayake government withdrew the Bill that it had presented.

More than 50 years have passed since 1928 and we have moved from Provincial Councils to Regional Councils and from Regional Councils to District Councils and now from District Councils back to District/Provincial Councils. We have had the 'early consideration' of Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike and the 'earnest consideration' of the late Dudley Senanayake. There has been no shortage of Committees and Commissions, of reports and recommendations but that which was lacking was the political will to recognise the existence of the Tamil nation. And simultaneous with this process of broken pacts and dishonoured agreements, the Tamil people were subjected to an ever widening and deepening national oppression aimed at undermining the integrity of the Tamil nation..."

Today, 20 years after Thimpu (and after thousands more have given their lives) it appears that though much has happened, not much has changed in relation to the proffered solutions to the conflict.  Hopefully, the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka may be persuaded that the Tamil people have not been without patience.

Whereas the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has a history of engaging in a campaign of terror and violence;

Comment by tamilnation.org 

The conflation of the word 'terror' with the word 'violence'  obfuscates - and misleads. All violence is not terror. The invasion of Iraq by the US was violent but by itself, it was not terrorism. And in so far as 'a history of engaging in terror and violence' is concerned,  the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka  (with its specialist knoweldge on Sri Lanka) cannot be unaware of  the conclusion of Paul Sieghart, International Commission of Jurists in March1984  that  "... Communal riots in which Tamils are killed, maimed, robbed and rendered homeless are no longer isolated episodes; they are beginning to become a pernicious habit."  It cannot be unaware of the extra judicial killings and disappearances, the torture, the rape and the war crimes committed by  Sri Lankan authorities. The fact is that the armed resistance of the Tamil people did not just happen.

"....An armed resistance movement takes shape in the womb of oppression. Its seeds are to be found in the eternal quest for equality and freedom." Nadesan Satyendra in Tamil Armed Resistance & the Law 

The US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka may want to address the question whether armed resistance as a last resort against deepening and ever widening oppression and after failed agreements,  is available to a people under international law. Here, it may also want to ask whether the words of  Professor Marshall Singer, at the US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995, were both right and prophetic -

"...One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government - regardless of which party was in power - the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much. In almost every case - sometimes within days - the party in power backed down on the agreement..." -

Whereas if hostilities resume in Sri Lanka, the use of unconventional weapons and suicide missions and other terrorist tactics by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam could cause even greater devastation to the country and have implications on regional security;

Comment by tamilnation.org 

Again as a close friend of Sri Lanka, the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka makes no  reference to the devastation  caused in the Tamil homeland by the 'conventional' weapons used by Sri Lanka authorities during Sri Lanka's Six Year Genocidal War launched in 1995. The Caucus makes no mention of Sri Lanka's relentless use of food & medicine as weapons of war, killing of Tamil civilians by bombing and shelling bombing of Tamil civilian centres., indiscriminate shelling of Tamil villages , using Tamils as human shields, bombing Tamil villages under cover of Press censorship, damaging 80% of houses in Jaffna, bombing St.Peters Church in Navaly with refugees inside, bombing hospitals , 'steamrollering' and destroying Jaffna, and committing thousands of other crimes Professor Margaret Trawick was moved to conclude -

I have been struggling in my mind against the conclusion that the SL government is trying to kill or terrorize as many Tamil people as possible; that the government is trying to keep the conditions of the war unreported internationally ... But it seems now that no other conclusion is possible... "

That the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka is concerned for the implications for regional security and for the impact on the feelings of the people of Tamil Nadu, is understandable.  But regional security will not be achieved by supporting the efforts of  Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism to assimilate the Tamil people (within a constitutional structure which secures rule by a permanent Sinhala majority) - and kill or terrorise those who resist assimilation.

Whereas to strengthen the implementation of the cease-fire agreement, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have agreed to commence peace talks [at the] beginning of February 2006 in Geneva, Switzerland; and

Whereas despite the agreement to continue peace talks, a return to armed conflict in Sri Lanka is still a very real threat: Now, therefore, be it:

Resolved, That the House of Representatives urges, in the strongest possible terms, the Government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to

(1) engage positively in the forthcoming peace talks and to prevent a return to armed conflict in Sri Lanka
(2) renegotiate a cease-fire agreement and implement the agreement in a productive and successful manner; and

Comment by tamilnation.org  Having said in the Preamble that the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE have agreed to commence talks in Geneva 'to strengthen the implementation of the cease-fire agreement' , the US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka  resolution calls upon the parties to 'renegotiate a cease-fire agreement.'  US Congressional Caucus on Sri Lanka should not be surprised if many may consider this a sleight of hand -  advocating  the termination of the current ceasefire agreement and renegotiating another one.

(3) focus on rebuilding a peaceful, secure, and prosperous future for Sri Lanka.

Comment by tamilnation.org This is an aspiration which all of us will share.  But not much will be gained by recourse to the  technique of psychological pressure.

"Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, openly criticized the Russian government in connection with the gas conflict with Ukraine. Ms. Rice used quite a trivial technique of psychological pressure, which is mostly practiced in the field of education. According to Condoleezza Rice, Russia's actions towards Ukraine did not characterize it as a respectable member of the Group of Eight. The statement from the high-ranking US official sounded like a reprimand from a strict babysitter that was teaching its baby to behave. It goes without saying that the largest Eurasian power is not a baby"  Yaroslava Krestovskaya on A Trivial Technique of Psychological Pressure, 11 January 2006

The Tamil people too are not babies. They have suffered much in their struggle to be free from alien rule - and suffering is a great teacher.

As a first step, there is a  need to admit to and recognise the political reality that during the past 50 years and more, ethnic identity has in fact determined the way in which both the Sinhala people and the Tamil people have exercised their political right of universal franchise. In this period, no Tamil has ever been elected to a predominantly Sinhala electorate and no Sinhalese has ever been elected to a predominantly Tamil electorate - apart, that is, from multi member constituencies. The  political reality is that for more than five decades since 1948, we have always had a Sinhala Buddhist as the executive head of government. The undeniable political reality is that the practice of 'democracy' within the confines of an unitary state has led to rule by a permanent Sinhala majority. It is this political reality which constitutional structures directed to resolve the conflict will need to address.

We  need to  give more serious consideration to the words of Sinhala Historian K. M. de Silva -

"...In the Sinhala language, the words for nation, race and people are practically synonymous, and a multiethnic or multicommunal nation or state is incomprehensible to the popular mind. The emphasis on Sri Lanka as the land of the Sinhala Buddhists carried an emotional popular appeal, compared with which the concept of a multiethnic polity was a meaningless abstraction..."

And also to the words of Velupillai Pirabakarn in November 2005 -

"The Sinhala nation continues to be entrapped in the Mahavamsa mindset, in that mythical ideology. The Sinhalese people are still caught up in the legendary fiction that the island of Sri Lanka is a divine gift to Theravada Buddhism, a holy land entitled to the Sinhala race. The Sinhala nation has not redeemed itself from this mythological idea that is buried deep and has become fossilised in their collective unconscious.  It is because of this ideological blindness that the Sinhalese people and their political and religious leaders are unable to grasp the authentic history of the island and the social realities prevailing here. They are unable to comprehend and accept the very existence of a historically constituted nation of Tamil people living in their traditional homeland in north-eastern Sri Lanka, entitled to fundamental political rights and freedoms. It is because of the refusal by the Sinhala nation to perceive the existential reality of the Tamils and their political aspirations that the Tamil national question persists as an unresolved complex issue. ..The scope and power of Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony has not receded, rather, it has revived and taken new forms, exerting a powerful dominance on the southern political arena. "

We need to recognise the truth that to continue with the assimilative agenda followed by successive Sinhala dominated governments, will lead  to continuing conflict between those who seek to assimilate and those who resist assimilation. Peace will not come by one people seeking to rule another people, who speak a different language, have different historical memories and who trace their origins to different roots. Democracy is not the rule of one people by another people. We may want to pay heed to the words of Margaret Moore in Normative Justifications for Liberal Nationalism

"...The problem in nationally divided societies is that the different groups have different political identities, and, in cases where the identities are mutually exclusive (not nested), these groups see themselves as forming distinct political communities. In this situation, the options available to represent these distinct identities are very limited, because any solution at the state level is inclined to be biased in favour of one kind of identity over another. That is to say, if the minority group seeks to be self-governing, or to secede from the larger state, increased representation at the centre will not be satisfactory. The problem in this case is that the group does not identify with the centre, or want to be part of that political community... One conclusion that can be drawn is that, in some cases, secession/partition of the two communities, where that option is available, is the best outcome overall. .."

In the case of Sri Lanka, in an important sense, the interest that each party to the conflict seeks to protect is the mirror image of the interest of the other party. The Sinhala people seek to secure their national identity against a Tamil majority in the region. The people of Tamil Eelam seek to secure their own separate national identity within the island of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala people fear rule by the Tamil majority in the region. The people of Tamil Eelam fear rule by the Sinhala majority within the island of Sri Lanka.

The question is whether the two peoples sitting together as equals cannot agree upon political structures which will secure and guarantee that equality.  There may be a need to telescope two processes - one the creation of an independent Tamil Eelam and the other the terms in which an independent Tamil Eelam may associate with an independent Sri Lanka, so that the national security of each may be protected - and, if need be, guaranteed internationally. An independent Tamil Eelam is not negotiable. But an independent Tamil Eelam can and will negotiate

 If Germany and France were able to put in place such 'associate' structures despite the suspicions and confrontations of two world wars, it should not be beyond the capacity of Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka to work out structures, within which each  may remain free and prosper, but at the same time pool sovereignty in certain agreed areas. The negotiating process may be complex. Sovereignty, after all, is not virginity.  We believe that a workable political solution must in the end be a win-win solution - and strange as it may appear to some, the struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam, is not in opposition to many of the underlying interests of the parties concerned with the conflict in the island - and that includes Sri Lanka, India and the United States.



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