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Sampanthan’s Batticaloa speech, an utter confusion

1 June 2012 06:30 pm - 6     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By M.S.M.Ayub
“Our acceptance of this position does not mean ……that, in the event our right to internal self-determination is continuously denied, we will not claim our right under international law to external self-determination.”

“We must prove to the international community that we will never be able to realize our rights within a united Sri Lanka.”
These are two separate sentences excerpted from the speech made by Rajavarothiam Sampanthan, the Leader of the Illankai Thamil Arasu Katchi (ITAK) and the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) at the 14th convention of the ITAK that was held in Batticaloa last week.  What would one gather from these two separate sentences taken together? In one sentence he says “we must prove to the world that we will never be able to realize our rights within a united Sri Lanka.” And in the second sentence he says that if the Tamils did not get a solution within a united Sri Lanka they would fight for a separate State (external self-determination).
Does he suggest that the Tamils must prove to the international community that they will never be able to realize their rights within a united Sri Lanka so that they would justifiably be able to fight for a separate State again?  

No, he doesn’t, given some other parts of the same speech. Addressing the Sinhalese people at a certain point during his oration Mr. Sampanthan says “The solution we propose for the achievement of our political aspiration will not undermine the sovereignty of other people. It does not hide a devious agenda seeking to divide the country.”  He also says to the Sinhalese people “We have clearly asked for a solution within a united Sri Lanka, and we are committed to the achievement of such a goal”, provoking one to pose a question as to whether he tells one to the Tamils giving a totally different picture to the Sinhalese.  

Already this question has been raised by some well-known writers and sometimes the Tamils might respond to this question in the affirmative while the majority of Sinhalese would definitely oppose it. With a view to strike a balance between these two extremes one might say that the sovereignty here is nothing other than the right to look after a community’s own affairs within an undivided country.

The usage of wordings and the ambiguity in Mr. Sampanathan’s speech remind us the similar ambiguous statements by the LTTE leaders. Here is an ideal paragraph extracted from an interview by the LTTE leader V. Prabhakaran with a veteran Indian journalist, Anita Pratap which was published in the Indian magazine, “Sunday”  far back as 1984.

“It is wrong to call our movement “separatist”. We are fighting for independence based on the right to national self-determination of our people. Our struggle is for self-determination, for the restoration of our sovereignty in our homeland. We are not fighting for a division or separation of a country but rather, we are fighting to uphold the sacred right to live in freedom and dignity. In this sense, we are freedom fighters not terrorists.”( Sunday Magazine,  March 11-17, 1984).

Does the ITAK approve the armed struggle to win the rights of Tamils? That is another ambiguous issue touched upon by Mr. Sampanthan in his speech. Here he disapproves and approves the armed struggle in two sentences in the same paragraph of his prepared speech. “The rise and fall of the LTTE taught us that regardless of how strong such a movement may be, or how just its demands may be, it is not realistic for the Tamil people to resort to violent political struggle.  Further, a struggle that runs counter to the values of the international community, built only on military might, will not prevail.” The phrase “Only on military might” does not exclude military might.

This perplexity in this speech seems to be a result of an attempt to pacify both the extremism still prevails among Tamil people, as among other communities, and the present day reality.
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  Comments - 6

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  • WarElephant Sunday, 03 June 2012 03:01 AM

    think you got carried away with the metaphor mate.

    solico Sunday, 03 June 2012 05:39 PM

    in case if ur given what u called home land ar u going to leave all the traditional sinhala areas

    Thanga Saturday, 02 June 2012 02:28 AM

    What Sampanthan says is clear as day light. The North and East provinces have been the traditional homeland of the Thamils before foreign conquest. Now Thamils wants autonomy to rule over that traditional homeland within a united Sri Lanka, in other words exercising the right of internal self-determination. If this demand fails then the Thamils will ask for external self-determination with the help of the international community. The Thamils are not asking for division of the country. A Thamil Kingdom existed for several centuries. What Thamils demand is the restoration of that Thamil Kingdom and Thamil sovereignty lost to foreigners, but usurped by the majority Sinhalese at the time of independence. It is simple as that.

    WarElephant Saturday, 02 June 2012 12:43 PM

    what you say is utter bullshit, the tamil kingdom that was there in the north and east was put there by the pandyans and later ruled by a malayan prince before it was reverted back to a pandyan chakravarti for about 2 hundred years, so this was not an independent kingdom but a vassal state of pandya, an indian kingdom. so there is no justification for a tamil kingdom when the singhalese have layed claim to the whole island for over 2000 years. I am a muslim, and i hate sinhalese and tamil nationalism, all i want is a united sri lanka. so stop your separatist justifications.

    hari Saturday, 02 June 2012 02:35 PM

    what’s is wrong to get help from your neighbor if your own brother resist to provide the equal freedom?
    This reminds me of the true facts about the behavior of SriLankan dogs. If you have two dogs and give them food in two different plates. They fight for one plate leaving other the powerful one doesn’t allow the younger one for her share. What happens , the neighbor’s dog get a free go.

    NAK Saturday, 02 June 2012 06:16 AM

    In other words, what he is saying is, Our target is a federal state, we will achieve our target with the help of our IC freinds. Unlike Prabhakaran we will not do anything to embarass the IC but do everyrhing possible to convince them that we deserve our target and will be patient until they succeed in achieving it for us.


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