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From ‘incremental devolution’ to ‘calibrated evolution’?

17 June 2012 07:09 pm - 1     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By N. Sathiya Moorthy
It is not always that the President’s Secretary chooses to be named in news reports. This is particularly so about incumbent Lalith Weeratunga. His recent charge that LTTE elements in London may have tried to target President Mahinda Rajapaksa should hence be taken with the seriousness it deserves. Colombo Government, needless to say, would have done its homework likewise, before Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, went to town blaming the Scotland Yard on the security provided, or not provided to the President during the visit.

Greater clarity may be available when the British authorities come up with their side of the story. Other questions remain. How did the tradition-bound and custom-loving Britons,  not excluding the constituency-conscious politicians, enjoy the nation’s party being spoilt by the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora on a rare and exceptional occasion as their monarch’s diamond jubilee in office – or, did they?

Even more, the international community would be at askance if and when their leaders and institutions are meted out near-similar treatment in global capitals. The last time, there were protests against them in Colombo, the West squirmed. Though already late, the unhealthy trend should be eschewed or discouraged at once. Host-nations have to choose between propriety towards and protests against visiting Heads of State and other dignitaries.

Two blockades of President Rajapaksa’s scheduled programmes in the UK in less than two years, and an intervening Geneva vote and the run-up to the same have all emboldened the otherwise divided sections of the Diaspora in the post-war era. Their methods might differ, from purported moderation to marginal insurgency, the latter possibly on a later day. Their goal remains, and in the past.

Post-war, they have tasted victory through moderation, thus far. If and when militancy of whatever kind were to take over, then it could well be a repeat of the pre-war past. The LTTE successfully eliminated all critics, mainly from the Tamil polity and community. Cut in the same mould, Diaspora groups still aligned to the thought process cannot be expected to think and act differently – be it in dealing with the Sri Lankan State or in the dealings within the Tamil community. The moderates, Diaspora and locals, will have themselves to blame, all over again.

If unexposed elements in the world order think that they can show the Diaspora its place, that’s not to be. They have inherited the stubbornness of the LTTE leadership, on which many gave up after trying and others stood out watching. It is the kind of stubbornness that some in the Sri Lankan Government too seem to share, now and even earlier.



The shared stubbornness was, and continues to be the cause for successive failures of successive peace attempts. Without applying their minds to the negotiations process with any great commitment to sincerity, the stake-holders in the country have always expended their energies on diversionary tactics and stone-walling the other stake-holder and the rest of the world. The trend continues.

Post-Geneva, the Diaspora pressure is on the TNA, too. Different sections of the Diaspora are sending different messages to counterparts back home in the TNA. Or, so it seems. The Alliance is thus expending more time and energy in doing a balancing act. It is not about motives but about methods. From ‘incremental devolution’ as being talked about in the post-war years, the Tamil demands are thus acquiring the characteristics of ‘calibrated evolution’ (up to the ‘ultimate goal’).

From being a moderate post-war polity desirous of talking to the Government on resolving the ethnic issue, they now have to openly talk about the international community fighting their battles, politically and diplomatically, and take them where they had always wanted to be. The competitive nature of the internal dynamics dominating the TNA discourse lately have all elements that are inimical to a negotiated settlement that does not achieve that ‘goal’.

Before war and afterward, the Rajapaksa leadership was known to be keen on doing business with the TNA. The Government was convinced that there could not be any permanent peace on without involving the most popular of moderate Tamil political grouping. It had identified past failures of the peace attempts to the inability of its predecessors in office to work on this aspect. The LTTE being what it was there was no scope for the emergence of a popular Tamil political leadership that was independent, too.

Post-war TNA fits the bill. The internal discourse in the TNA is broadly between those favouring ‘guided democracy’ and a ‘bottom-up approach’. Internal squabbling within the TNA over such issues as sending a delegation to Geneva ahead of this year’s vote or the ‘May Day national flag row’ can be related to this basic differences in the basic approach of individual TNA leaders. Alliance leaders should ask themselves if the TNA with such diversified opinions and approach should rush to acquire a new and separate electoral identity – or, should they wait for such an identity to evolve by itself.

It is a tough task as without a separate identity, too, there are anxieties about self-destruction, owing to the existing multiple identities of the Alliance. These identities do not any more owe to the ideological aspirations at the birth of individual constituents. They are now individualistic – and at times, egoist, too. It is not different from those prevailing in other sections of the nation’s polity, namely, the Sinhala, Muslim and Upcountry Tamil.

On the one hand, the Government nearer home is slowly losing an identifiable stake-holder who could carry the majority of the Tamils with it, for and after negotiating a political settlement. On the global front, the Diaspora remains divided, and their group interests are constituency-driven and thus country-specific. There is none that the international community can talk to as being representative. There is none that the Government in Colombo could soon talk to likewise, if the TNA’s internal dissensions and divisions move on to a logical conclusion.



Though not designed and thus foreseeable during the decades of war, the result would be the same. The LTTE had revelled at dead-locked ground situations. That is what the Government in Sri Lanka is now headed viz the TNA. That is where the international community would soon find itself, if individual nations do not send out a clear and strong message to the Diaspora groups. Beforehand, they should decide individually, and/or collectively, as to what kind of ‘goal’ that they perceive for the Tamils in Sri Lanka, and not necessarily of Sri Lanka. They will then have to work backwards.

The current scheme of taking up issues, and taking forward methods, as has been evident with regard to allegations of HR violations in Sri Lanka will not help. For the international community, accountability issues are an end in itself. Or, a means to discipline the Colombo dispensation to take the political processes seriously and with utmost sincerity. For the Sri Lankan Government, it is a red-herring, given the internal dynamics of politics and political processes nearer home. For the Diaspora, and by extension, sections of the non-Government Tamil polity back home, accountability issues are only a means to another end altogether.

Alluding to certain apprehensions flowing from the ‘national flag issue’, flagged at the ‘May Day rally’ in Jaffna recently, TNA parliamentarian Sritharan referred to the absence of a northern background for Alliance leader Sampanthan and also Sumanthiran, who has emerged as their international spokesperson in the post-war era. This is saying a lot. Three years after the war, at least some TNA leaders have not been able to de-link the traditional supremacy of the North from Tamil political calculus.

All this go against their continuing demand for the re-merger of the North and the East, however,still. Elsewhere, another TNA leader, Sivajilingam, has taken exception to the Diaspora riches not going to help out their destitute brethren back home. Truth hurts, but the fact remains, like the rest of the South Asian Diaspora, the Sri Lankan Tamil groups in other countries too are not going to invest in the country, educate their brethren back home and make them employable, create jobs for the tens of thousands of Tamil war widows in  the North and the East.

All that money would still have to come from the Government in Colombo – as used to be the case during the war years. The LTTE then used to appropriate that money and the essentials that the Government was supplying to the war-affected people, and demand more in the name of those very same people. It is here that Colombo differed with the rest of the world in the days after the conclusion of the war, over direct assistance to war-torn areas. It did not want a repeat of the past, as was the case on other fronts, too.

Today, the international community, particularly the West with its humane laws on political asylum and assertive ones on rights to protest, are being handed down a fait accompli. The droves of Tamils being caught mid-sea, or closer home in the south Indian States of Tamil Nadu and now Kerala, and the far-away Benin in Africa, are testimony to the motives and methods of many. They are ‘economic refugees’ at best and politics and political asylum have become a casual tool in their hands – contributing to the denial of the same in deserving cases. The West, having drawn the line, needs to delineate their own priorities viz those of the Diaspora on the one hand, and the Tamil population back home in Sri Lanka, quick and clear. That is not happening. Otherwise, they would be swamped before they could say, ‘Sri Lanka’ or ‘ethnic issue’.
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  • ICC Sunday, 17 June 2012 10:49 PM

    Jews Diaspora support to the ISREAL. still now. ah ah ah,


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