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Tamil National Alliance on old path of confrontation again

by Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha

I was deeply saddened to see the statement issued earlier this week in the name of Mr Sambandan following the leaking of some of the report of the UN panel. The statement seems to hark back to the confrontational approach the TNA had repeatedly adopted when opportunities for reconciliation were available.

I was reminded then of my efforts, as Head of the Peace Secretariat, to meet Mr Sambandan, as discussed with His Excellency the President, shortly after the defeat of the LTTE. Mr Sambandan, while never refusing outright, kept saying he was too busy, because he had to meet with several foreign dignitaries. Clearly, he felt that peace was better achieved by requesting foreign pressure rather than by discussions with mandated Sri Lankans.

Subsequently, the TNA decided to support the candidature of Sarath Fonseka for the Presidency. Given the pronouncements of General Fonseka both before and after the victory over the LTTE, and his efforts to slow down resettlement of the displaced, I cannot believe that Mr Sambandan and his colleagues seriously felt that Mr Fonseka’s candidacy was the best option for the Tamil people.

At the time I expressed my suspicions of a meeting I saw take place at the home of the Political Affairs Officer of the American Embassy, Paul Carter. While enjoying his hospitality and listening to accounts of interactions between his office and the JVP, I saw Mr Sambandan come in, and thought I should pay my respects before I left. I found him in the garden with the European Union Representative and the American Ambassador, and they looked so bemused that I realized I was probably interrupting something confidential. I offered to leave, but Mr Savage recovered himself and was reasonably polite. The other two stayed silent, so I soon took myself off. I began to think then that I was going to be persona non grata with the Americans, which was a pity considering the regard I had had for Bob Blake, but indeed subsequently the new Ambassador has also proved charming.

But I felt then that the TNA was being encouraged to succumb to Sarath Fonseka’s charms, and I was not surprised thereafter when he received a string of endorsements from both the TNA and people like Jehan Perera, who did not deny it when I asked if that was what his paymasters wanted. And I felt that my view was endorsed also by several European envoys, who subsequently expressed surprise at the games that had been played with Fonseka, including Bernard Savage’s strange defence of military men in politics.

Be that as it may, I had the impression subsequently that most persons settled down to reality, after the elections proved conclusively that Colombo elite perceptions were absurd. So I was optimistic about recent talks with the TNA, as well as what seemed efforts by certainly the Americans to promote reconciliation. However the report of the Panel has again allowed old emotions to flourish, and it seems that the TNA is once again going to embark on a policy of confrontation, expecting foreign friends to pull their chestnuts out of the fire.

Over a year ago I pointed out to the British, at a meeting in their Foreign Office, the damage they could cause to Tamils by continuing to support the leftover rump of the LTTE, and by urging discussions with elements like the Transnational Government. My point was that the government wanted to work positively with the Tamils, but it could not trust the LTTE or its by-blows, and that continuing support for these would only serve to polarize.

Unfortunately I begin to suspect that polarization is part of the agenda of some of those who wish to interfere in Sri Lanka, though I had hoped that at least current envoys in Sri Lanka were wiser. My advice to the British was to follow the example of the Indians, who had never swerved from support for the Tamil people, while consistently evincing strong hostility to the LTTE. My argument was that that was the position of the decision makers in government, and foreign friends should affirm and support this position without trying to satisfy their own electorates.

Now sadly yet another opportunity seems to have arisen for what seems triumphalism on the part of those fundamentally opposed to the Sri Lankan state. Some of them simply will not accept that we have an elected government which is moving forward under difficult circumstances, though conscious of possible threats. Surely it cannot be triumphalism that has led to much more concerted efforts to implement Tamil as an official language than before, to more recruitment of Tamil policemen than done by any previous government in decades, to swifter resettlement and rehabilitation than in any comparable situation.

But people believe what they want to believe. In the process they contribute to hostilities which pave the way for extremist reactions, and sanctimonious self-justification based on similar behavior by their opponents. And meanwhile those who do not want reconciliation are cynically laughing.

11 Comments

Professor
Why don't you spend some time watching and rading some real information comingout from your own people on Channel 4 and other news agency around the world.

If your governement and you had acted quick enough to solve Tamils real grivences you don't have to affaried of UN reports.

We tamil would have told the world "What has happend is happend now we are seeing postive steps towrad buliding better future"

But what you have done? Insted of building houses for displaced look at what you have built in Elephant Pass and other tamils home lands?

Befor you talk show some actions if you have the courage

In 1970's Your President went to UN fro losse of 2-5 thousand Singalees people kiled by then Srilankan Government.Now we are seeking UN help for the killing of 40,000 tamils by your government.

If you are a human being you should be supporting the UN report. If you are not a Human who cares about your oppienion

Ravee

Posted by: Anonymous | April 23, 2011 09:21 PM

Author was criticizing TNA position, but failed to see the SL government’s position.

Sri Lankan government obviously did not address Tamil’s political issues yet, after the war ended. Even their day to day living issues such as clearing of occupied government forces from the worship places, schools, farm lands, and houses belong to Tamils.

There were many political killings taking place in North and East. Once incident was that there was an Education Ministry staff (Tamil) who supported that the national anthem to be sung in Tamil language in North and East was brutally killed at his home by unidentified gun men. Everybody in his neighborhood knew the reasons about this killing. But they have no support from agencies that is enforcing law and order to voice our their views. These issues were not al all addressed by the author in his article.

In the East of this country there were many Tamil schools were brought under the Sinhala zone administration. The medium of teaching, the political background and the culture are total mismatch between them. But yet they were implemented without the consensus of those people.

These are the simple examples clearly explain the position of the TNA. It is not the TNA but the opposite is in the constant confronting mode.

Posted by: Mayu | April 23, 2011 09:48 PM

So the Professor Rajiva is accepting or reconfirming that the the issue of nations within the island is not just 30 year issue created by LTTE, it was an issue seems to have settled between Sinhala Leader SWARD and Tamil Leader SJVC but later resulted in abortion.

So what Rajiva is saying in another way is now we are owning the whole Island thanks to China, India, Pakistan, US and Russia for helping us to occupy the NE. It took 63 years to establish the Kingdom and TNA has to beg for concession. TNA has no support from China or Russia where as we have. Even the political jokers of TN have no sypathies or support for TNA or its voters.

The opponents within the Island are majority and they want the Tamils to beg for alms from them. The history has it that Buddhist majoritarian countries produce Emperors who have killed millions of civilians and soldiers and annexed their lands as part of the Empire.

It looks clear Buddhism and dmecracy can not go together.

Posted by: Admirer of Kayts Navaratnam | April 23, 2011 10:37 PM

dear rajiva wijesinha,
if asking for justice is confrontation in your lexicon it is rather unfortunate.what tamils are asking is a just enquiry into the happenings during the last days of war they are not asking for moon or rather tamizh eelam.rajapakshe government after the end of war indulged in acts of triumphalism rather than accussing western world it is better sinhalese introspect why they served kiribath to every one who went on the road.tamil leaders are forced to depend on western world and india becoz they dont command respect among rajapakshes and they feel that these countries only will come to their rescue in case something happens to them personal as well as to tamil people as a whole.can anyone forget what happened to yaypanam mp nadarajiah raviraj?

Posted by: jagan sriram | April 24, 2011 01:08 AM

Those were the days in the late 1980s when the academic community and the more initiated respected the Liberal Party and its inspiring force the late Chanaka Amaratunga trying to show a different path – between the excesses of the UNP and the barbarity of the JVP of then. He had a few exceptionally well-educated youth around him that included Rajiva Wijesinha. With the tragic loss of Chanka the LP went into obscurity. The lure of positions and the many comforts sycophancy brings appears to have seduced many of those that flocked around Chanaka. The middle class is aghast today that even the more educated from comfortable circumstances have thrown principles and decency to the winds and have prostated themselves before the high and mighty in regular white-washing efforts - in pursuit of suspect principles.

The savvy senior politician Sambanthan did not do too badly trying to evade those whose expected function is to court and eliminate all dissenting opinion to the truant State. As to why Sampanthan/TNA supported Fonseka – admittedly one whose declared goal was to cause maximum harm to Tamils and their land - is what the rightist UNP, SLFP stalwarts Mangala Saramaweera and SBD did. "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" in play - if you like. And that was to oust the Rajapakses from power in the Presidential Elections. They succeeded is all too well known – except the Election Commissioner, intriguingly after much delay, gave the country and the world a still disputed result. Sampanthan’s going along with the Fonseka candidature was not an individual arbitrary choice but one taken after much deliberation by the MPs and members of the constituent parties of the TNA in those head days of post 5/2009. While the unlettered variety of Mervyn Silva, Weerawanssa and company can be ignored for using the term “LTTE rump” government men of the caliber of Wijesinghe using the deliberately derogatory term on Tamils is laughable. Particularly so that some of the leadership of that quarter is now anointed by the Rajapakse regime and provided protection and hospitality in salubrious government facilities. Wijesinghe cannot be unaware influential sections of the government are also trying to frantically woo the leadership of the TGTE. Nothing wrong here. After all ths is something that is in the interest of the country as the Tamils are still a part of the land.

Wijesinghe continues to label the wider Tamil people still with the LTTE label – a marketing tactic that has continuously fooled the Sinhala electorate winning elections for many. But in the longer run in the absence of a serious and sincere attempt to win the Tamil people - many of whom opposed to LTTE -over to the family fold the country’s haemorraging continues. Wijesinghe, in his machevellian role, falters when he is forced to abandon those fine features of his urbane background as he brings to the open privileged issues such as sensitive personal discussions and individuals in the lost cause he rides along in the lost cause of standard bearer to a regime that seems to have forefeited its legitimacy to lead the country to the promised lofty heights enunciated under the collapsed Chintanaya.

ISS

Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | April 24, 2011 08:51 AM

I was cutt off before I could get my final comment in.
As to Wijesinghe's critique of TNA's "crime" of agreeing with what is out as the UNSG's Panel Report - and his subtle effort to suggest they were being unpatriotic here - it is clear to any unbiased mind that both Govt forces and the LTTE committed atrocious HR violations in the Post-May 2009 period on Tamil civilians, their land and livelihood. The Tamil people will deal with what happened to them under LTTEs guns in their own way. And one supposes the world in its own way of the excesses of State actors. Both Fonseka and the Govt, it is clear, are trying to shift the blame in the old game of "You, Sir; Not I, Sir" pattern. By making its due comments in the matter TNA has done what is expected of them - whether this is moral, ethical, patriotic or not - are simply perceptive issues. They will have as many detractors as supporters as in all passionately divisive issues of the nature of our National Question.

ISS


Posted by: Ilaya Seran Senguttuvan | April 24, 2011 09:50 AM

this was the main reason ,in pass it was difficult to find solution for north and east.your are absolutely right,they thinks that foreign power can help for them to get solution. what happen final days of 2009 ?all their foreign supporters did nothing.

they must understand that any solution needs people support if not never can success and properly implementation.so need to change the game for better future to all of us.

Posted by: Francis Liyanage | April 24, 2011 08:35 PM

Tiger will never change his spots. It is pathetic that Prof. Rajiv still understand this truth. They violated Sri Lankas constitution. What action government took. Nothing. Government has to take action agains who violated constitution before talking anything else.

Posted by: Lankan | April 24, 2011 08:38 PM

If the Government keep prolonging the issue, as it did for last 30 years expecting all the tamils to cease living in Sri Lanka, what is the alterntive?

Posted by: velupillai | April 24, 2011 08:58 PM

Mandated but hardly credible !

Posted by: Ravana | April 25, 2011 03:57 AM

“I was deeply saddened to see the statement issued earlier this week in the name of Mr Sambandan following the leaking of some of the report of the UN panel. The statement seems to hark back to the confrontational approach the TNA had repeatedly adopted when opportunities for reconciliation were available”.
TNA has been telling this in the parliament since the war ended. And the govt has not heeded. Were you not there or too busy to read the Hansard.

“I cannot believe that Mr Sambandan and his colleagues seriously felt that Mr Fonseka’s candidacy was the best option for the Tamil people”.
That is the Tamil leader’s prerogative. Only Tamils can question that, not you Sir.

“At the time I expressed my suspicions of a meeting I saw take place at the home of Political Affairs Officer of the American Embassy, Paul Carter”.
Why suspect people of different political persuasions chatting together. Are you not showing off your police state mentality.

“So I was optimistic about recent talks with the TNA, as well as what seemed efforts by certainly the Americans to promote reconciliation”.
Why, were you going to offer 13A++?

“However the report of the Panel has again allowed old emotions to flourish, and it seems that the TNA is once again going to embark on a policy of confrontation, expecting foreign friends to pull their chestnuts out of the fire”.
That’s what probably happens when you think you can fool all the people all the time. But seriously, are planning another pogrom on the Tamils in Colombo?

“My advice to the British was to follow the example of the Indians, who had never swerved from support for the Tamil people...”
Looks like you can’t count on them (Indians) this time as they now know your tricks!

“Surely it cannot be triumphalism that has led to much more concerted efforts to implement Tamil as an official language than before, to more recruitment of Tamil policemen than done by any previous government in decades, to swifter resettlement and rehabilitation than in any comparable situation”.
Ha, Ha, Ha. Lol

“ And meanwhile those who do not want reconciliation are cynically laughing”.
Remember the war graves your guys desecrated and demolished to build military HQs. Cries for reconciliation are being heard from there.

Posted by: Velu Balendran | April 25, 2011 06:29 PM

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