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Internationalising the ethnic issue – or, else?

2011-11-07 08:15:07
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It is unclear if the prevailing confusion over what the international community wants the Sri Lankan Government to do is intended or otherwise. Terms such as ‘human rights’ and ‘accountability’ are more in vogue than those like rehabilitation, reconciliation, or even colonisation.  While the Tamils back home seem to be keener on the latter, and naturally so, the West as also the Diaspora Tamils in their midst seem to have all but given up on the course – but intend only on punitive reprisal. Such a course could be counter-productive on the home front at the least – and boomerang, for worst, as it had happened through the past.
Whether or not their views collude, the Diaspora perception of the Western thought at present, influenced as may have been in the reverse, is what will determine their own path in the coming years and decades. Militant sections of the Tamil community, including the Diaspora, in the past had often taken ‘outside encouragement’ as an end in itself, and have shown that they were incapable of changing their track after a time when they are urged to do so.  There is nothing to suggest that they have changed their tack, post-war, though there are still encouraging signals from the TNA and larger Tamil community in Sri Lanka.
Call it a tactic or conviction on the part of the Tamils, India and Norway, and Japan to a lesser extent, learnt it the hard way. The West, given the simplicity of their thought processes and the complexity of the processes that are often put in motion to achieve their recommended/perceived goals, could find it harder to readjust to this reality, as and when it strikes them on the face. They have had similar experiences with the LTTE in the past, complaining that the latter was ‘unreasonable’ or ‘unrealistic’ or whatever.
In the final analysis, the LTTE won the day as far as its tactics in using external forces as long as the latter was willing to travel together. They lost the war to the Government forces. In the latter effort, a hurt international community rallied behind the Colombo dispensation. Wikileaks reports that the US had promised to track down Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader, if he vanished from the Vanni war-front, flowed not only from the continuing, post-9/11 American concerns about terrorism. It also owed to the collective hurt of the international community in dealing with the LTTE and pro-LTTE Diaspora forces nearer home. It is this that they are championing now by excessively falling back on the side of the Diaspora, and not otherwise.
The current phase of the international community’s agenda also has had the tendency to drag moderate Tamils in Sri Lanka onto the side of the hard-line sections of the Diaspora than the other way round. It is obvious that the hard-line sections of the TNA too have assumed a greater say in the affairs of the Alliance. The leadership cannot sidestep some such elements without a possible decline in its parliamentary strength in the interim and playing hide-and-seek with the hard-liners, otherwise.
The energies and time expended in this balancing-act could well occupy a pre-eminent position in the Tamil politics in the country in the coming weeks and months, and would also be at the cost of the larger Tamil cause. With no elections in sight for divergent groups wanting to identify with the TNA as a political compulsion, the internal differences could become deeper and more frequent.
The Government having sent out confusing signals since the conclusion of the war – not only to the international community and the Diaspora, but also to the political moderates nearer home – has a lot more to answer for on the reconciliation front, too. Granting that the TNA and the larger Tamil community in the country, if not the Diaspora and/or the international community is satisfied with the LLRC Report, when presented, there will still be the reconciliation process that neither side could ignore.
It looks like a two-way street, where the twine shall meet. Yet, it can also be a twin-edged sword, and for all stake-holders, too!


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