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

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Selected Writings by Nadesan Satyendra
- நடேசன் சத்தியேந்திரா

Tamil Eelam Nation - A Response to Asbjorn Eide

10 August 1998

Mr.Asbjorn Eide's oral intervention on 6 August, at the 50th sessions of the Sub-Commission merits careful consideration.

Mr.Eide is one of 26 experts serving on the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. He has also taken an active interest in the conflict in the island for more than 15 years.

In 1984, (at the Second Consultation on Ethnic Violence, Development and Human Rights in Utrecht, Netherlands, sponsored amongst others by the United Nations University) Mr. Eide was the Rapporteur of a working group, chaired by Rodolfo Stavenhagen, to examine a comparative research programme directed to understanding ethnic conflict and its impact on development and human rights. That Consultation in Utrecht was the precursor to the establishment of International Alert, with an Emergency Committee on Sri Lanka to address the resolution of the conflict in the island.

Mr.Eide begins by declaring:

"The Commission and ECOSOC has consistently mandated us, since 1968, to bring to the attention of the Commission any situation which the Sub-Commission has reasonable cause to believe reveals a consistent pattern of gross violations of human rights in accordance with paragraph 6 of the Commission resolution (XXIII). This is what we are examining under this agenda item.... Our role should not be to point fingers based on superficial review of selective facts, but to contribute to a deeper process of investigation with a view to make a constructive contribution towards the realisation of human rights for those who live in that particularly society."

It is wholly appropriate that Mr.Eide should give expression to these views in the historic year of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, with its proclaimed goal of 'Peace and Justice' and his views will, ofcourse, find a ready acceptance amongst the Tamil people to whom human rights and humanitarian law have acquired an existential significance during the past several decades. As the International Federation of Tamils has pointed out, the building blocks for peace are the building blocks of justice. Mr.Eide's comments at the UN Sub Commission on 6 August, may be usefully evaluated by examining the extent to which his remarks secure justice and further the peace process in the island of Sri Lanka.

Mr.Eide is at pains to establish his non partisan credentials - and perhaps, rightly so. He says:

"(There are those) here long enough to remember that I, in 1983, was the first to criticise the government of Sri Lanka for its lack of effective measures to investigate the authors of the massacres against Tamils in the summer of 1983, including the killing of political prisoners in the Welikade prison. I know also that many in Sri Lanka subsequently regretted that they did not listen to the suggestions we then made, which were to take prompt actions to restore law and order, to punish those responsible, and to involve the International Committee of the Red Cross."

That which Mr.Eide fails to point out is that it was not so much that the Sri Lanka government did not 'listen' to the calls for 'effective measures to investigate' the massacres, but that the Sri Lanka government dishonoured the pledges it had given after 'listening'. Sri Lanka Ambassador, Mr.Tissa Jayakody, did promise the Sub Commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at Geneva on 22 August 1983:

"The Sri Lankan authorities....would leave no stone unturned to bring to justice all those responsible for killings, violence and acts of destruction, no matter who they were and regardless of their status, ideology or political alignments. There would be no exceptions."

Furthermore, in its Note Verbale dated 30 January 1984, distributed to the delegates to the 40th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in February 1984, the Sri Lanka government continued to reiterate (and buy time):

"The events of July 1983 were caused by a minority of lawless elements in particular circumstances. The guilty have been or are being punished and the Government has initiated a complex and sensitive political process to deal with the fundamental issues which led to the events of July 1983. In this context, the constructive approach of the international community is to desist from any action or comment on the situation in Sri Lanka."

The Sri Lanka government's culpability lies not simply in its failure to investigate the 1983 massacres, nor for that matter, its failure to honour the pledges that it had given in international fora, but in its actual involvement in the genocide. Cabinet Minister S. Thondaman (who continued to serve in the Sri Lanka government) remarked in an interview in the Illustrated Weekly of India on 18 December 1983:

''We all know who these people are. I am not naming them right now... How can any action be taken against them? They are important people. They are part of this government, just as I am. Behind all this are our own people... We all know them.''

Mr. Eide will not be unaware that seventy years after the massacre of around one million Armenians in 1915 (on the orders of the Turkish government), the Permanent Peoples Tribunal held a special hearing in Paris in 1985. The Tribunal's jury included three Nobel Prize winners -Sean Macbride, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Professor George Wald. The Tribunal found that the charge of genocide that the Armenian people brought against the Turkish authorities was established and declared:

'' The fundamental rights of this (Armenian) people are of direct concern to the international community, which is entitled and duty bound to ensure that these rights are respected, particularly when they are openly denied by one of its member states.''

In the Sri Lanka case, many Tamils may take the view that a fair minded examination of the facts presented in Genocide'83, should have led an independent expert, such as Mr.Eide, to conclude that, at the lowest, a prima facie case exists to warrant an indictment for genocide against the Sri Lanka authorities and that a lapse of 15 years should not prevent the guilty from being brought to justice.

But, Mr.Eide appears content to gloss over the happenings of Genocide'83 with the remark 'that many in Sri Lanka subsequently regretted that they did not listen to the suggestions we then made'. His comments ignore the feelings of hundreds of thousands of Tamils who suffered during Black July 1983, (and millions of other Tamils who have shared in the agony and the pain of their brothers and sisters) and will be seen by many as an attempt draw a line under the heinous crimes that were committed against the Tamil people 15 years ago.

Mr.Eide reinforces his approach by adding " but very much has changed since 1983" suggesting that Sinhala Sri Lanka has now mended its ways. He then launches an unbridled attack on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam whose leadership, according to him, "has developed an almost paranoid garrison mentality". Mr.Eide's comments, coming as they do from an 'independent expert', raises several questions.

For one thing, when speaking of the period subsequent to 1983, Mr.Eide makes no reference to Sri Lanka's continuing record of extra judicial killings, rape, torture, 'disappearances', Amnesty's 1990 campaign against Sri Lanka's state terror, and the food and medicine blockade. He leads his listeners to infer that the only significant change since 1983, was the emergence of the 'extremely militant' LTTE.

It cannot be that Mr.Eide as an 'expert' was unaware of Sri Lanka's horrendous human rights record - a record which lead 53 non governmental organisations to declare at the UN Commission for Human Rights in March this year:

"We are gravely concerned by the continued Sri Lanka-Tamil Eelam war and by the increasing genocidal dimension of that war as evidenced by: (a) targeting of the civilian population by the Sri Lankan forces; (b) epidemic proportions of disappearances, torture, extra judicial killings, rape, arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention of Tamil civilians; (c) a sweeping embargo in the North and East of subsistence food and essential medicine in contravention of humanitarian law; (d) the existence of more than 850,000 displaced persons living in appalling conditions at risk now of starvation and death."

The question must be asked: why then has Mr.Eide not referred to these gross and systematic violations of international law by Sri Lanka? Did Mr.Eide find it embarrassing to raise these questions about Sri Lanka because a nominee of the Sri Lankan government is also an expert member of the UN Sub-Commission and a colleague?

Mr.Eide states that the Sub Commission's efforts under Agenda Item 2 is only a part of a larger endeavour and that 'most important' is the dialogue, at all levels including 'a dialogue between ourselves as experts representing different cultures and traditions but united in our common concern for human rights'. Is the nominee from Sri Lanka on the UN Sub-Commission a participant in 'dialogues' concerning Sri Lanka's violations of human rights and humanitarian law?

Mr.Eide's near abusive tone about the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, appears to echo some of the statements made by Sri Lanka's present political leadership. As an independent expert, Mr.Eide should, perhaps, have reflected on the views expressed by India's ex Foreign Secretary Dixit (who is no friend of the LTTE):

"The LTTE's emergence as the most dominant and effective politico-military force representing Tamil interests was due to the following factors: Pirabaharan

First, the character and personality of its leader V Prabhakaran who is disciplined, austere and passionately committed to the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils's liberation. Whatever he may be criticised for, it cannot be denied that the man has an inner fire and dedication and he is endowed with natural military abilities, both strategic and tactical. He has also proved that he is a keen observer of the nature of competitive and critical politics. He has proved his abilities in judging political events and his adroitness in responding to them.

Secondly, he has created a highly disciplined, and dedicated cadres, a manifestation of which is inherent in what is called the 'cyanide cult.' Each regular member of the LTTE carries a cyanide pill and is pledged to committing suicide rather than being captured by the enemy.

The third factor is the cult and creed of honesty in the disbursement and utilisation of resources. Despite long years spent in struggle, the LTTE cadres were known for their simple living, lack of any tendency to exploit the people and their operational preparedness.

The fourth factor has been the LTTE's ability to upgrade its political and military capacities including technological inputs despite the constraints imposed on it by Sri Lankan forces and later by India.

The fifth factor is a totally amoral and deadly violent approach in dealing with those the LTTE considers as enemies.

The sixth factor is Prabhakaran's success in gathering around him senior advisers with diverse political, administrative and technological capacities, which contributed to effective training of his cadres, optimum utilisation of the military equipment which he had, and the structuring of an efficient command and control system."

Mr.Eide prefers to make a blanket accusation against the LTTE:

"That movement (the LTTE) or particularly its leadership respects no human rights. It engages in the most heinous crimes, using female, male and possibly even child suicide bombers to create havoc and fear. Its killing is directed not only at Sinhala enemies, including civilians, and their religious temples, but also against its Tamil opponents including the courageous Tamil woman who was until recently the Mayor of Jaffna until assassinated by the Tigers. Many Tamils, including those who are struggling for a devolution of power and greater influence for the Tamils, live under constant threat of assassination by the LTTE.... What baffles me is that there are still international non governmental organisations who lend their support to this movement. They are then not supporting the Tamil cause but an utterly undemocratic movement unable to contemplate peace in any form"

Here, let it be said that it is not the case that the LTTE have not, on occasions, violated the humanitarian laws of armed conflict. Admittedly, an armed resistance movement is not a carte blanche to kill. But it would have been more appropriate for Mr.Eide, as an expert, to have sifted fact from propaganda and addressed the separate categories of alleged violations of humanitarian law by the LTTE. Truth is often the first casualty in a war and Sri Lanka's continued media censorship is proof enough of that. One instance of Sri Lanka's disinformation campaign was proven in 1990. More recently, the Voice of America reported on 28 November 1995:

"The Sri Lankan Government is waging a propaganda war to complement its military offensive.... truth has become one of the war's victims. Media observers say Sri Lankan television has begun resorting to disinformation in its reporting on the war against Tamil Tiger guerrillas...

....The military press office on Saturday issued a statement that the Tamil Tigers had used gas on troops, implying it was a chemical weapons attack. Only later did military sources admit the gas in question had been tear gas. The government continues to ban reporters from the northern war zone. The state information department hands out video and still photographs produced by the Sri Lankan army. Information is provided by fax. The government is also forbidding reporters to visit camps where hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled to escape the fighting. Sri Lanka media are subject to military censorship. The local cable operator even blacks out stories about Sri Lanka that appear on foreign television channels."

Again, as an expert, Mr.Eide may have addressed the harsh reality that as wars have become more and more 'total', it has become increasingly difficult to separate the contributions of 'civilians', the 'para military', and the 'military' to the war effort and the distinction between combatants and non combatants has been observed, more often than not, in the breach.

The German blitz on London and the night time Allied bombings of Bremen during the Second World War exposed some of the hypocrisy behind the stated concerns about 'humanising' armed conflicts. And, as Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed, it is military necessity that in the end, prevails over humanitarian considerations. The stated justification for the use of the atomic bomb was that it prevented the huge casualties that US military forces would have suffered if a sea borne invasion of the Japanese mainland was launched - not to put too fine a point on the matter, the projected casualties of US combatants (i.e.US armed forces) were balanced against the clearly foreseen casualties of Japanese non combatant civilians.

At the recently concluded Rome deliberations on the International Criminal Court, India's attempt to include the use of nuclear weapons as a crime against humanity failed. The nuclear bomb is the ultimate weapon of terror - it makes no distinction between combatants and non combatants and it is intended to terrorise and intimidate the enemy into submission. The user justifies the use of the nuclear bomb by relying on the ends that the user seeks to achieve - freedom and justice. The justice of the ends seems to influence the 'morality' of the means employed to achieve those ends. Means and ends appear to be inseparable in more ways than one.

Again, Mr. Eide makes no reference to Sri Lanka's refusal to even admit to the existence of an 'armed conflict' in the island. Significantly, Sri Lanka has also abstained from voting for the recent Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court which made provision for individuals and governments to be punished for crimes against humanity, serious violations of the humanitarian law of conflict and genocide.

In regard to the allegation that the LTTE has attacked Sinhala 'civilian settlers' on the boundaries of Tamil Eelam, there may be a need to consider that which the LTTE declared in an open letter to the Sinhala people in September 1991:

"The Sinhala people should know that the so called state aided 'colonisation schemes' within Tamil areas having nothing to do with solving landlessness among the Sinhala poor. The real aim of the Sri Lankan government is to use Sinhala settlers sometimes as a buffer, and sometimes as a cutting edge, in its war of aggression against the Tamil nation.

The additional longer term purpose of these 'colonisation schemes' is to change the demography of the Tamil homeland and in this way, make the Tamils a manageable minority in their own land.The Sri Lanka government has systematically armed these settlers - some of them ex-convicts - and often uses them to attack Tamil villagers in the surrounding areas.

Such actions, together with the brutality of the operations of the regular Sri Lankan army, have led our fighters to engage these armed settlers, with consequences which, sometimes, have been admittedly unfortunate and counter productive to our cause. ..

We appeal to the Sinhala poor not to become pawns in the 'colonisation schemes' which have been carefully designed by Sinhala chauvinistic forces to sow the seeds of discord and create everlasting enmity between the Tamil people and the Sinhala people."

Mr.Eide is critical of the actions taken by the LTTE against 'Tamil opponents' and he lauds the 'courageous Tamil woman who was until recently the Mayor of Jaffna'. During the second world war, there were some Norwegians who accepted office under German rule and collaborated with the German army of occupation - the most notorious was, of course, Quisling. These agents of the alien ruler, on the one hand, dispensed favours to sections of the populace and on the other hand, helped to identify and eliminate those who resisted alien rule. Some may have regarded Quisling as being 'courageous', but the vast majority of Norwegians condemned Quisling as a traitor who put at risk the lives of those who were struggling to rid their land of an alien occupying army.

Again, Mr. Eide, as an expert on the Sri Lanka situation, will not be be unaware that the Sinhala authorities have recruited, from time to time, Tamils to act as informers and identify those who continue to resist alien Sinhala rule. These Tamil informers wear hoods with slits for them to see through and shake or nod their head, as suspected Tamil supporters of the armed resistance are paraded before them - and they have come to be known amongst the Tamil people as 'thalayattis' ('head shakers').

Having said that, it is equally true, that in the absence of an established judicial system, a guerrilla movement will need to take care to ensure that any action against a 'traitor' does in fact accord with the principles of natural justice - however difficult that such an approach may sometimes appear to be for those on the ground, engaged as they are in a daily battle for survival against an enemy with a great reservoir of material resources. The responses of the LTTE to the activities of some Tamil elements who are co-operating with the alien Sinhala ruler, suggest that it is mindful, on the one hand, of the dangers posed by informers, and on the other hand, of the difficulties of responding to such dangers, within the framework of a guerrilla movement without a stable judicial system. But, that is not to say that the LTTE has always succeeded in its efforts to address these issues.

These are matters which Mr.Eide, as an independent 'expert', may have usefully commented upon. But Mr.Eide's failure to adopt a balanced approach is startling - as startling, perhaps, as his bafflement that international non governmental organisations still support the LTTE and the Tamil cause.

Mr.Eide goes on to say:

"In 1994, a new President was elected in Sri Lanka, and the government has presented a package of devolution which goes as far as any government can possibly go. There is no doubt in my mind that the President is genuine, and that many or probably most Tamils would be happy if the package could be accepted. But the LTTE does not want it to happen."

Once again several questions arise. Was Mr.Eide unaware that the main Sinhala opposition party, the UNP has not accepted the 'devolution package' and that President Kumaratunga knows that the 'devolution package' cannot be passed into law without UNP support? Again, Mr.Eide cannot be unaware of President Chandrika Kumaratunga's own assessment of the extent of the devolution contemplated by the package:

"Defending the devolution package, (President Kumaratunga) said in no way would it erode the supremacy of (the central) parliament... The President said that since Policy Planning was a subject for the centre, the central government had a hold in every subject a region handled... the President said, even if a Regional Council opposes, the centre has the power to go ahead and allocate land for its purposes. The President also moved to allay fears of a North-East merger saying that the government did not have any idea of merging the North with the East." (Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times reported on 20 August 1995)

Given all this, many Tamils will be baffled by Mr.Eide's conclusion that the devolution package 'goes as far as any government can possibly go'. Surely, as an expert, Mr.Eide will know that countries such as Switzerland, and the United States have established structures that go much further than the so called 'devolution package' of President Chandrika Kumaratunga. But, if that which he intended to say was that the devolution package 'goes as far as any Sinhala government can possibly go', then is it not the case that Mr.Eide has chosen to make a political assessment of that which President Kumaratunga can do without herself losing power, instead of fulfilling his functions as an expert and calling upon the parties to the conflict to do that which is fair and just according to international norms?

Mr.Eide may have 'no doubt' in his mind that the Sri Lanka President is 'genuine' but hundreds of thousands of Tamils who have undergone torture and aerial bombardment at the hands of those who obeyed the commands of the Sri Lanka President, may have their own views about the President's 'genuine' desire to recognise the existence of the Tamil people, as a people with a homeland. Additionally, many Tamils may feel that Mr. Eide's pronouncement on President Kumaratunga, falls outside the boundaries of his 'expertise' (and therefore, his jurisdiction) as an expert member of the UN Sub-Commission.

Again, Mr.Eide may have his reasons for expressing the view that 'that many or probably most Tamils would be happy if the (devolution) package could be accepted'. However, on the last occasion that a relatively free general election was held in the Tamil homeland (and that was in 1977) the Tamil people overwhelmingly supported the election manifesto of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) which declared in unequivocal terms:

"... the TULF seeks in the General Election the mandate of the Tamil nation to establish an independent, sovereign, secular, socialist State of Tamil Eelam that includes all the geographically contiguous areas that have been the traditional homeland of the Tamil-speaking people in the country. The Tamil nation must take the decision to establish its sovereignty in its homeland on the basis of its right to self- determination. The only way to announce this decision to the Sinhalese Government and to the world is to vote for the TULF.

"The Tamil-speaking representatives who get elected through these votes while being members of the National State Assembly of Ceylon, will also form themselves into the National Assembly of Tamil Eelam which will draft a constitution for the state of Tamil Eelam and establish the independence of Tamil Eelam by bringing that constitution into operation either by peaceful means or by direct action or struggle."

Five years later, in 1983, Tamil Members of Parliament who were elected on this manifesto were ousted from their seats by the Sixth Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution which the International Commission of Jurists later declared to be a violation of Article 25 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights - a Convention which Sri Lanka had ratified.

"...The key to its (the 6th Amendment's) effect is paragraph (1) which runs as follows:- 'No person shall directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support, espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State within the territory of Sri Lanka'. Anyone who contravenes that provision becomes liable to the imposition of civic disability for upto 7 years, the forfeiture of his movable and immovable property... the loss of his passport... the right to engage in any trade or profession. In addition if he is a Member of Parliament, he loses his seat.

The freedom to express political opinions, to seek to persuade others of their merits, to seek to have them represented in Parliament, and thereafter seek Parliament to give effect to them, are all fundamental to democracy itself. These are precisely the freedoms which Article 25 (of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights) recognises and guarantees - and in respect of advocacy for the establishment of an independent Tamil State in Sri Lanka, those which the 6th Amendment is designed to outlaw.

It therefore appears to me plain that this enactment constitutes a clear violation by Sri Lanka of its obligations in international law under the Covenant...(Paul Sieghart: Sri Lanka-A Mounting Tragedy of Errors - Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka in January 1984 on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists and its British Section, Justice, March 1984)

The 6th Amendment continues in effect today and outlaws the expression of any opinion in favour of an independent Tamil Eelam. Additionally the Sinhala army's determination to impose its will on the Tamil people is exposed by reports of mass graves in Jaffna. Many independent experts and international non governmental organisations may conclude that Mr.Eide's assessment of 'Tamil opinion' on President Kumaratunga's 'devolution package' is fundamentally flawed and that if a free referendum is held in the Tamil homeland today, support for an independent Tamil Eelam will be even more pronounced than it was in 1977.

Mr.Eide's approach becomes self evident in his final comments on the Sri Lanka situation:

"At present, the LTTE is battling for the minds and the money of the expatriate Tamil community. In order to continue its fruitless and endless war, the Tigers depend on this external financial support from which to purchase weapons and other means. The international community, the international NGOs and governments should now seek to convince the Tamil communities in their respective countries that the way to achieve Tamil human rights is through an accommodation based on equality for all in the island of Sri Lanka, full respect for the cultures of the Sinhala, Tamils, Muslims and others, and a devolution of power which makes it possible through peaceful democratic means to ensure conditions for the survival and reproduction of the Tamil culture."

This is the same agenda that the government of Sri Lanka has also set itself - that is to persuade NGOs and governments to 'convince' (or pressure) Tamil expatriates to withdraw support for the LTTE. Mr.Eide speaks of "an accommodation based on equality for all in the island of Sri Lanka" and "a devolution of power which makes it possible, through peaceful democratic means to ensure conditions for the survival and reproduction of the Tamil culture".

However, the struggle for Tamil Eelam is not about devolution. Neither is it simply about 'ensuring conditions for the survival and reproduction of Tamil culture'. Culture, economics and land have fused in a political identity which is the Tamil Eelam nation. It is this Tamil Eelam nation that is today struggling for freedom from alien Sinhala rule. Mr.Eide may want to ask himself a simple question:

Q. Why is it that in Sri Lanka, for five long decades since 'independence', we have always had a Sinhala Buddhist as the executive head of government?

A. Because, a Sinhala Buddhist nation masquerading as a multi ethnic Sri Lankan nation, will always have a Sinhala Buddhist as executive head of government.

The ethnic divide is also a political divide. Peoples speaking different languages, tracing their roots to different origins, and living in relatively well defined and separate geographical areas, do not easily 'melt'. And in any event, a 'third world' economy will not provide a large enough 'pot' for the 'melting' to take place. Given this political reality, to continue to speak of 'an accommodation based on equality for all' within the confines a single Sri Lankan state is to display the foolishness of the naive or the trickery of the knave.

The formula of a 'multi ethnic plural society' cherished by some experts to whom self determination and secession are anathema, seeks to preserve in the island of Sri Lanka, the artificial territorial boundaries imposed (and later bequeathed) by the erstwhile British ruler. It seeks to perpetuate the colonial legacy and encourage the continuing attempt to replace British colonial rule with permanent Sinhala colonial rule. It fails to address the simple question as to why it is that in Sri Lanka, for five long decades since 'independence', we have always had a Sinhala Buddhist as the executive head of government.

The words of John Stuart Mill in 1872 bear repetition yet again:

"Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. An altogether different set of leaders have the confidence of one part of the country and of another. ... Above all, the grand and only effectual security in the last resort against the despotism of the government is in that case wanting: the sympathy of the army with the people. Soldiers to whose feelings half or three fourths of the subjects of the same government are foreigners, will have no more scruple in mowing them down, and no more reason to ask the reason why, than they would have in doing the same thing against declared enemies.(John Stuart Mill: Considerations on Representative Government. London 1872)

This is not to say that two independent peoples may not sit together as equals and structure a polity where the two peoples may associate with each other in equality and in freedom. And to say that, is not to expose a 'garrison mentality' but to assert the unfolding political reality of the fourth world. Mr.Eide may want to reject that reality - and, of course, he is entitled to his view.

But the truth is that the struggle for Tamil Eelam is not unique. The years after the end of the second world war in 1945, saw the break down of colonial empires which had held sway for two centuries and more. But the colonial rulers also left behind them artificial territorial boundaries - boundaries which had everything to do with securing their hold over the territories that they had conquered and which had little to do with securing the national identities of the peoples on whom they had imposed their rule.

Undoubtedly, a time will come when the separate national identities of all the peoples of the world, will be transcended by a greater unity. But today, those (including perhaps, Mr.Eide) who deny the national identity of the people of Tamil Eelam, are rarely prepared to give up their own. The people of Tamil Eelam cannot live in a world which has not yet arrived - though they can certainly work towards it.

A true transnationalism will come only from nationalisms that have flowered and matured - it will not come by the suppression of one nation by another. To work for the flowering of the Tamil Eelam nation is to bring forward the emergence of a true transnationalism. A true transnationalism will emerge only from a free association of nations. Mr.Eide may want to pay heed to the words of Velupillai Pirabaharan (rather than dismiss the LTTE leadership as suffering from an 'almost paranoid garrison mentality'):

"We are not chauvinists. Neither are we lovers of violence enchanted with war. We do not regard the Sinhala people as our opponents or as our enemies. We recognise the Sinhala nation. We accord a place of dignity for the culture and heritage of the Sinhala people. We have no desire to interfere in any way with the national life of the Sinhala people or with their freedom and independence. We, the Tamil people, desire to live in our own historic homeland as an independent nation, in peace, in freedom and with dignity."

Mr. Eide's stature as an expert will be enhanced, if he begins to address the genuine interests that each of the parties to the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka, seeks to protect. As a first step towards reconciliation, Mr.Eide may want to recognise the existence of a separate Sinhala national identity and a separate Tamil national identity; and then seek win-win answers to the conflict rather than join Sri Lanka in the somewhat futile task of separating the Tamil people from the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Here, he may want to pay heed to the words of Lieutenant General S.C. Sardesh Pande, IPKF Divisional Commander, Jaffna in his book 'Assignment Jaffna':

"I have a high regard for the LTTE for its discipline, dedication, determination, motivation and technical expertise... I was left with the impression that the LTTE was the expression of popular Tamil sentiment and could not be destroyed, so long as that sentiment remained."

Mr.Eide may believe that the approach he has chosen to adopt is that which he would call a 'constructive contribution towards the realisation of human rights for those who live' in the island of Sri Lanka, but it should not surprise him to find that many international non governmental organisations (and millions of Tamils living in many lands) will have their own views about that which he is seeking to do.

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