‘REAL PEACE’ IN SRI LANKA (SL) AFTER HISTORICAL INJUSTICE TO TAMILS?
The logical answer to this question has to be in the negative; more so when even the highly learned and eminent persons like a Lee Kuan Yew, a Desmond Tutu and others of Elders status are convinced on the decades long brutal SL genocide to publicly vouch the historical injustice the Tamils suffered in the hands of the SL rulers since Independence (1948).
Denials of each and every crime are a congenital trait of Buddhist Sinhala SL. In this crowd are its perpetrators, its apologists, (B Ramans, Hariharons, Rohan Gunaratnes) and a duplicitous Delhi that quietly blesses SL’s genocide atrocities on the Tamils. (‘So what Asia saw was ethnic cleansing’ in Tom Plates – Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew and the Elders’ media release of 3 August 2010). However the powerful moral voices of a Lee Kuan Yew, a Desmond Tutu and other eminents who form the moral conscience of the world are certain to triumph over the obstructions of SL and its accomplices protecting SL from accounting for its monstrous ‘crimes’ on the Tamils.
The chorus orchestrated supporting SL, comprises politicians (SL & Delhi) and apologists that follow a pre-set logic format. Now their theme is that ‘real peace’ has returned to SL once the Tamils/Tamil militancy-LTTE were defeated in May 2009. The distinguished Lee Kuan Yew disagrees; ‘Yes, they …have beaten the Tamil Tigers this time …But I do not see them ethnic cleansing all two million-plus Jaffna Tamils. The Jaffna Tamils have been in Sri Lanka as long as the Sinhalese’. Mark the words ‘this time’. Lee Kuan Yew a renowned multi-culturalist (who made Singapore a shining model of multi-culturalism), has faith in the determination of the Tamil community to re-emerge and regain the rights that the Buddhist Sinhala leaders stole over the past six plus decades. The distinguished Lee is unequivocal; ‘…and I knew he (Rajapakse) was a Sinhalese extremist. Sinhalese extremism is plain racism that even elevates White apartheid South Africa to the status of angels. SL professing multi-culturalism masks a most wicked racism the world has never seen. ‘They were squeezing them (Tamils) out. That’s why the Tamils rebelled’ (Lee). Would Rohan Gunaratne comment on Lee’s words as quoted here?
The most tragic SL denial is the plight of hundreds of thousands displaced Tamils struggling with no means to earn a livelihood, dispossessed and some almost starving. A back-handed denial was in the Time (13 September) ‘Business returns to Sri Lanka’s war zone’, ‘All across northern Sri Lanka, the age of the bullet is being supplanted by that of billboards….it all has the feel of a nation in the happy throes of rebuilding…cementing military victory through economic development of this long marginalized region and thereby improve the chances of a lasting peace’. However it avoids the vexed question ‘if to achieve peace in SL was this simple why has SL waited this long and ignored economic development and kept the region marginalized’. This broaches the sensitive core issue ‘Tamil grievances’ that SL avoids even a mention.
What SL did since the British left in 1948 is more savage than just ‘marginalizing’; SL began with hard policies to impoverish the Tamils. First it deprived citizenship from a major section of Tamils (Citizenship Act 1949), jobs (Sinhala Only Act 1955) , land and homes (violence by state instigated mobs from the early 1950’s; Tarzie Vittachchi’s Emergency 1958), denying Tamils of university level education (standardization scheme), routinely rejecting Tamils license applications to set up factories and businesses in the North amongst other. The list is endless, so were the Tamil grievances. Tamils endured immense sufferings just to stay alive in SL or else flee overseas. With such a track record how would Delhi and the international community take at face value the Rajapakse’s promises of the manna from economic development being allowed to flow freely to the Tamils as well? This runs counter to Buddhist-Sinhala SL mission to create unbearable conditions to remove the Tamils from SL soil.
Now re-invented and re-packaged Buddhist-Sinhala SL thinking for the post Tamil militancy SL, argues that the Tamils waged a civil war without genuine grievances; that on defeat the ‘peace’ has to be on the terms of the victors ’Sinhala SL. That peace omits even any mention of the long standing Tamil grievances that the international community including Delhi had been pleading with SL, for far too long. Buddhist-Sinhala SL policy now captive to the ‘winner takes all’ Palitha doctrine treats with disdain the international community’s (and India) concern for Tamil grievances. The international community offered a defeated Germany an honourable Peace Treaty and a Marshall Plan to win an aggrieved Germany away from policies likely to lead to another WW catastrophe. SL disagrees; measures to redress the grievances of the defeated Tamils are no longer relevant. Will the international community buy into SL’s ‘winner takes all’ doctrine in the 21st century?
Buddhist-Sinhala SL’s casual dismissal of the core long standing grievances of the Tamils is thus inimical to real peace in SL more so when eminent persons urge their ‘…government(s) …to act …as the United Nations, the United States and India have done. Sri Lanka didn’t win the war on its own. India’s political support and its naval blockade weakened the Tigers. So did U.S. and Canadian moves to cut off Tiger funding… still our help pre-supposed a fair deal for Tamils when the war ended…’. SL’s policies in post Tamil militancy (May 2009) is far more unnerving to the international community (including Delhi) than before. Would not other rogue states follow SL successfully getting away unscathed after committing massive massacres surpassing several-fold the Soweto massacres of Apartheid South Africa; an ominous prospect for the world. SL effectively tempts rogue states like Iran to emulate SL’s defying/frustrating the UN and the international community to engulf the Middle East in a catastrophic conflict. .
SL’s ambitions for an Israeli role in South Asia is more ominous for Delhi; SL keeps Delhi on a tight leash playing the China card and extract concessions that Delhi never before contemplated. TN’s fears that Delhi’s predicament could result in Delhi even contracting out to SL the job of containing any separatist tendencies in TN. Delhi effectively contracted out the pathetic TN fishermen’s lives to the care of the SL navy. Though Delhi has not used massacres to fight separatism in Kashmir, peace in Kashmir is most unlikely as long as Delhi flirts with Colombo’s mindset of fighting separatism with a military solution. SL’s success is too tempting for Delhi.
The paralysis that afflicts UN’s ‘crimes against humanity’ initiatives is attributed to Delhi’s support for SL genocide. Delhi’s support emboldens Colombo to aggressively pursue its genocide agenda to conclusion in post (May 2009) Tamil militancy; to establish a Buddhist-Sinhala SL. Hindu influence in the North SL is being overwhelmed with Buddhist structures at every street corner. A Buddhist North in SL adjoining Hindu India is a real peril once under cover of patron China SL emerges as a powerful Israeli like threat to Hindu India in TN.
International concerns over the on-going ethnic cleansing of North SL are all the more alarming with the militarization of the North SL to keep the Tamils there under subjugation in the 21st century. SL’s priority is to militarise and build Buddhist structures in the North not to rebuild the lives of Tamils that Delhi and Chennai boasts about. Whatever rebuilding of SL Tamil lives is largely funded by the diaspora kin. SL’s Rs 5000 in cash grant and Rs 25 000 as tin/tarpaulin sheets are pittance for temporary shelters not rebuilding the original homes considering the costs of the damage the Buddhist-Sinhala SL’s scotched earth war caused.
That a single home was bombarded with as many as 28 artillery shells to kill every one inside to be a mass grave vouches to the murderous savagery of the Buddhist-Sinhala armed forces. The IDP returnees testifying to these crimes will debunk much of SL’s human shield propaganda. The Tamils fled with the LTTE to save their lives and not await slaughter by the murderous SL armed forces. This unpleasant truth is sure to surface in the UN ‘crimes tribunals.
International conscience that was stirred by revelations at the ‘war crimes’ tribunals of the massacred thousands in mass graves in former Yugoslavia is likely to be more horrified over the tens of thousands massacred in Mullivayal. SL’s opposition to UN crimes tribunals is thus understandable. To SL killings whether civilians or combatants on this scale was a must to change the North’s demographics in favour of Buddhist-Sinhala SL. The IDPs fleeing advancing SL forces also abandoned valuable fittings, expensive farm equipment and valuables that the Sinhala armed forces systematically plundered and enriched themselves, while the impoverished victims are reportedly living close to starvation levels; only the generosity of their kin living overseas saves them from starvation deaths.
International opinion is most concerned about the more ferocious ethnic cleansing that is ravaging the North post (May 2009) militancy. A humane world is aghast over SL militarizing the North to alter the demographics there and keep the conquered in servitude status? Protests by the Tamil victims against the injustice of their farm lands being grabbed, impoverishing them further is unthinkable in today’s SL. In the D S Senenayake’s state sponsored colonization schemes in the late 1940’s the lands were from jungle clearances unlike under the cruel Rajapakses grabbing land from owners depriving their basic livelihood from it. This reflects the brutish character of the Rajapakses’ ethnic cleansing.
Even in pre-1983 itself the only ‘real peace’ the Tamils enjoyed then was to hold on to their lives and be on the ready to flee North (then safe havens) at the first hint of state instigated mobs on the rampage. Now in the militarized North there is no safe haven anymore for the Tamils facing slaughter. The heavy presence of the hostile Buddhist-Sinhala armed forces right in their midst makes that a certainty. The Tamils yearn for the safety they enjoyed during the 27 years of de-facto LTTE rule in the North/East. Thus since independence the Buddhist/Sinhala-Tamil divide has reached a point of no return. There is concrete evidence that the SL state then and now is prepared to sacrifice Tamil lives to turn SL into a Buddhist/Sinhala country.
Delhi was most humbled by its inability to deliver on its promises, especially Delhi’s sacred cows, the Indo-SL Accord and 13th Amendment plus and its regional power status also being tragically belittled by Colombo using Delhi’s much dreaded China card. Delhi politicians beguiled the Tamil militants into entering Narayanan’s fire free zone when it was their
well planned death trap to stop the militants from escaping/melting into the jungles with their lives. The Tamils for generations are bound to remember Delhi’s duplicity in the demise of Tamil militancy and Tamils’ present predicament.
SL Tamils worldwide only look up to the truly humane international community for deliverance from the servitude into which SL/Delhi had pushed the Tamils. To the Tamils the words of an eminent; ‘still our help pre-supposed a fair deal for the Tamils when the war ended’ and ‘Rajapakse has failed to make the country’s minority feel secure after crushing the Tiger insurgency’ have a soothing ring . It ultimately is the international community committed to basic human values that will deliver solace to the Tamil victims of SL genocide. The avenues for them include pursuing SL vigorously on UN crimes and widening the gamut of sanctions for Colombo to respond positively to the West’s concerns over the SL Tamil issue. The voice of great men like Lee Kuan Yew and Desmond that is coming through ‘loud and clear’ is bound to contribute to produce salutary outcomes for the Tamils.