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Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 01-06-2004
<b>Sri Lanka: The feud between President & Prime Minister continues</b>
by Dr. S. Chandrasekharan.
It is now more than two months since President Chandrika Kumaratunge directly took over the portfolios of Defence, Interior and information after sacking the three cabinet ministers holding these posts. From then on there have been talks between the representatives of the President and the Prime minister (Samarawickreme- Tittawella Committee) with regular leaks from both sides on the differences from both sides.
What is happening is that negotiations are being held by the two parties through the state media. This is hardly the way to go about when the future of the unity of the island is at stake and when there should have been an urgency to utilise the funds offered by the international community for rehabilitation and reconstruction.
To cite one example- after two weeks of negotiations when some progress was made in the talks in running the Defence ministry there was a leak from the Presidentâs office of a document which mentioned about the formation of a Joint Peace council overseen by an Advisory Council consisting of representatives from people from all walks of life quite contrary to what was discussed and agreed upon. This almost led to the collapse of the Committee set up by the two sides.
The proposals instead of concentrating on the cease fire agreement and the peace talks went through the whole gamut of issues between the two parties like the creation of a national consensus, strengthening of democratic institutions, infra structure development, moratorium on cross overs etc.
Thus, the standoff between the two leaders has turned into one of âpower struggleâ with no chance of any compromise. There were reports that the President and the Prime minister will meet on December 15 to take a final decision. This was said to be a âmake or breakâ meeting. However this meeting, fourth in the series after the sacking, did not produce any positive result with both the leaders adhering to their earlier stand. No new dead line has been fixed and it looks that nobody is in a hurry.
Since the peace talks are in a limbo with the Norwegian facilitators having suspended their involvement in the peace talks, it is very necessary for the two leaders to immediately decide on the following:
- Who should lead in continuing the peace process and the cease fire?
- Mechanism for dealing with the SLMM ( Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission)
- Defence Portfolio- Power sharing or consensus?
- Discussions with the LTTE on the interim administration of the North east.
In a rare briefing to the diplomats in Colombo, Peiris the governmentâs representative to the peace talks said that the two major parties must join and work for the success of the stalled peace talks to resume and to reach its objective of finding a permanent peace in the country. A tall order indeed, as the Tamil problem has invariably been caught up in the feuds between the two major groups of the majority community and it looks that it is not going to be different this time too!
Prabakaranâs Heroesâ Day speech on 27 November.
Prabakaranâs speech on Heroes day on November 27 carried no surprises. He pointed out that the north east needs urgent humanitarian assistance in resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction and expressed his concern for continued military occupation of Tamil areas- a reference to the High Security Zones. Some important points made by him were
- The two allegations that the LTTE is strengthening its military structure and that Prime minister had provided too many concessions in the cease-fire agreement were denied by him. (On the contrary indications are that the LTTE is still recruiting and clandestinely obtaining arms.)
- His organisation and his people do not want war and are still committed to peace process.
- In the Sinhala nation there is total peace and normalcy, whereas on the Tamil side there is none .
- Wickremasinghe allowed space for increased interest and intervention of several international governments in the peace process and in the negotiating process. (In one sense it is true that Wickremasinghe in view of his feud with his President, sought international support for his actions relating to the peace process rather than from his President)
- Urgent humanitarian needs on one side and the issue of resettlement, rehabilitation and reconstruction on the other called for immediate solutions. Hence he made the proposal for an interim administration.
â His proposals do not constitute a frame work for permanent final solution. ( We had referred to the ISGA proposals in update 52 and called it as a proposal for a state within a state. While his statement could be construed as one where LTTE is willing to climb down from the basic position in the proposal as many have done, it is our view that the LTTE is looking for a final solution which could only be an improvement on the present proposals.
Karuna, in one of his speeches in Batticola admitted that the proposals for the interim administration went beyond a âfederal systemâ and added that it conforms to the ground realities!)
- He is concerned about the continued military occupation of Tamil lands.
What of the future?
For the present the LTTE is unlikely to renew the war on its own. Their stakes in the peace process are high and they are getting international legitimacy which they would lose once the conflict is started from their side. They would therefore wait and wait for quite some time till political stability returns to the south. No one can blame them if they continue to strengthen themselves in view of continued political struggle in the south which is having an adverse impact on the peace process.
As said before it is this political power struggle between the two political parties of the Sinhala community which has frustrated a permanent solution of the ethnic conflict. This is the best opportunity for peace but this would need statesmanship from both President and the Prime minister. They do not seem to be ready though they know as everyone else that renewed war would be a disaster for the whole of Sri Lanka
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 01-08-2004
<b>LTTE is beefing up its strength: Kumaratunga</b>
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga has alleged the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam increased its military strength during the truce period by recruiting over 11,000 guerrillas.
"The LTTE has increased its cadre by three times from around seven thousand to over 18,000. Quite a few of them are small children and forcible recruitment was going on," she said.
Kumaratunga, whose decision to take over the powerful defence portfolio triggered a major political crisis with Wikremesinghe a few months ago, said the military consolidation of LTTE went on unabated as Norwegian facilitators appeared helpless in stopping rebels from beefing up their military strength.
"The Norwegians can not stop them. The LTTE has opened up several military training camps, many new ones, in violation of the MOU and they are going on regardless," she alleged.
Since the beginning of the peace process last year, the separatist Tamil rebel group killed around 100 cadre and local leaders of the moderate Tamil parties, Kumaratunga alleged.
"With great impunity, they killed a lot of Sri Lankan military personnel," she said. "Still, there is a cause to think that there may be a little chance to keep trying with LTTE for peace."
Kumaratunga also said talks between her and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe over sharing power have not broken down and a new round of dialogue would commence later this month.
"Discussions between us have not broken down. Discussions are ongoing. Talks will start after New Year holidays. I truly hope that we can come to a truly negotiated settlement," Kumaratunga, who was here to attend the SAARC summit, told PTI in an interview before she left for home.
"There is another problem, whether I have to take the defence portfolio. Prime minister has decided that he does not want to do the peace process, unless he gets defence portfolio back lock stock and barrel. This is not possible," she said.
She said it was her fault to part with the defence portfolio in the first place when Wikremesinghe formed his government after securing majority in Parliament.
"Constitutionally I did something, I should not have done, in giving the defence portfolio two years ago with all the other ministries, because the constitution stipulates that president was the sole authority to exercise defence powers in the country," she said.
"But I gave it fully aware of this simply because I was not keen to have it. But there were problems that arose because of the problems of mismanagement due to which I have taken it back," she added.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 01-16-2004
<b>SRI LANKA: Brinkmanship due to frustration</b>
by Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
In the last few days, all the concerned parties in the current peace initiative, the government of prime minister Wickremasinghe, the Executive President Chandrika Kumaratunge and the LTTE have all moved from the stage of frustration to desperation and to brinkmanship, in handling the peace talks including the cease fire agreement.
Assessing that the current turmoil started by Chandrika in sacking three ministers holding important portfolios including the Defence would lead to a recrudescence of violence, there has been a stream of visitors from interested countries.
First was the turn of Chris Patten, Commissioner in charge of external relations of European Union on 26 November 2003. He met the government leaders, the President and then Prabakaran at Killinochi to explain the EU stand and their concern on the peace process.
A five-member Swedish Parliamentary delegation visited Sri Lanka in the second week of this month. They also visited the LTTE headquarters at Killinochi and met Tamil Selvan on 12 Jan.
A group of staff members of the US House of Representativesâ International Relations Committee was due to visit in the second week of this month and there is no confirmation of their visit yet. Kristen Muller, Minister of State for foreign affairs in Germany is also due to visit.
The Japanese special envoy to peace process Yasushi Akashi who is perhaps coordinating the donorsâ pledge of 4.5 billion dollars for rehabilitation and reconstruction is also set to visit Sri Lanka in the next few days to assess the current political impasse.
Frustrated over the refusal of the President to get back to status quo ante and the failure of the Samarawickreme-Tittawella committee to come to an agreement over the handling of the defence portfolio, Prime minister Wickremasinghe announced last week that he would like the President to renegotiate the cease fire agreement. He said that he would no longer be able to uphold the cease fire agreement without the relevant ministerial powers.
There was an immediate adverse public and international reaction as the statement more or less gave the impression that the government is withdrawing from the peace process. In a situation where the President has consistently complained that the government had given in too much to the LTTE, it would have been almost impossible for the President to renegotiate a more satisfactory deal with the LTTE. Better sense prevailed and the President rejected the suggestion of the Prime minister.
Unable to work out a power sharing formula over defence affairs, a frustrated President Chandrika announced to a group of parliamentary leaders of PA that she was planning to hold snap parliamentary elections by forging an alliance with the JVP. Lest there be any doubt on its authenticity, it was broadcast over state controlled SLBC ( Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation).
Chandrika has been threatening for quite some time that she would come to a deal with the JVP and one of the major sticking points was about the cease fire and concessions to the Tamils in the peace talks. JVP is against giving any concession to the Tamils and has demanded an end to the cease-fire and the peace talks. By aligning her party with the JVP in the elections if held, she will be giving a wrong message to the Tamils and to the international community. Will she be emulating her late father, who got elected on a narrow Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinist platform in 1956 and started the ethnic divide and the beginning of the ethnic crisis with his "Sinhala only" bill ?
Another view is that let the elections take place and the majority community decide whether they want to live in peace with the Tamils and go with the cease fire agreement and peace process initiated by the UNP or go with the opposite view of no deal with the LTTE. In other words this will be a kind of referendum on the Tamil question itself.
Having waited patiently for the southern political struggle to settle down the LTTE is also seen to be showing signs of restlessness.
Balakumar considered close to Prabakaran, said on 7 January that their expectations of resuming peace talks with the GOSL under a united leadership with a clear authority to command Sri Lankaâs security forces are fast receding
On 12 January, 2004, Tamil Selvan said that the feud between the Sri Lankan President and the Prime minister was testing the patience of LTTE and pointed out that the power struggle has raised worries about whether the cease fire will hold. He made a significant observation that it was for the government to ensure that the "Tamil people are not pushed towards such a situation to take up arms again.".
<b>More ominous are the leaflets issued 11 January by Tamil Awareness movement, a front organisation of LTTE in Jaffna that declared that war would be inevitable if the Sri Lankan leaders reject the LTTEâs proposal on the Interim Self Governing authority (ISGA).</b>
<b>There is no doubt that Sri Lanka is in a deep political crisis. The cease fire has lasted two years and the international community is involved in reconstruction and rehabilitation work. But funds would be forthcoming only if there is progress in peace talks. This has been made clear many times by the Japanese envoy Akashi. Forward movement in peace talks is only possible if the two political leaders come to an agreement firstly on power sharing and then on the substantive proposals made by LTTE on ISGA. For this, the two leaders Wickremasinghe and Chandrika should stop fighting! </b>
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 01-26-2004
<b>Sri Lanka may be heading for a Sinhala-Buddhist version of Hindutva</b>
COLOMBO DIARY | PK Balachanddran
Colombo, January 26
Sri Lanka is now witnessing the beginnings of a revivalist movement, the third in the last 100 years. Political circles here are abuzz with talk of the arrival of politico-cultural nationalism akin to Hindutva in neighbouring India. It is being described as Jathika Chinthanaya or National Consciousness, based on the island's 2,500 year old Sinhala-Buddhist heritage.
Sri Lankans are deeply troubled by the political and economic situation in their country, though the diagnosis and the treatment suggested may be contradictory. Politically, there seems to be an unbridgeable chasm between President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The stand off has adversely affected not only the peace process aimed at ending ethnic strife, but also economic development. The common man is still to reap any tangible benefit from the no-war situation prevailing for the last two years.
Among the remedies being seriously considered by a growing section of the people is a return to Sri Lanka's Sinhala-Buddhist roots, a tradition-based cultural nationalism, like Hindutva. Atal Bihari Vajpayee's success in making India an economic power house even while subscribing to the creed of Hindutva is influencing Sri Lankans, as an article by Rajpal Abeynayake in The Sunday Times suggests.
UPFA's cultural nationalism
The concept of Jathika Chinthanaya is not new, but it re-entered Sri Lankan political discourse after the formation of an alliance between the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), led by President Kumaratunga, and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) on January 20. The alliance, named United Peoples' Freedom Alliance (UPFA), declared that it would revive cultural nationalism to rescue the country from the clutches of neo-colonialism.
"Every attempt should be made to halt the rapid erosion of social values and direct society towards cultural rejuvenation based on traditional values, to rebuild a desirable political culture in our society, " the MOU between these two left wing, Sinhala-Buddhist parties said.
"The United National Front (UNF) government has rapidly brought the country to the brink of disaster," the MOU declared.
"The traditional values and culture of the country have been degraded in the guise of the open economy. A culture of greed and exploitation has been implanted. The principles of community, mutual responsibility and political decency have been replaced by a winner takes all philosophy which has no place for the poor, the underprivileged and the handicapped."
"Our foreign policy, which was based on regional cooperation and mutual respect, has been replaced by one of servitude and the absence of national dignity," the MOU said.
The document used the traditional Buddhist terminology Pancha Maha Pilliveth ( the Five Noble Objectives of Governance) to describe UPFA's agenda. It spoke of Sri Lanka as the "motherland" and called upon each and every one of its "patriotic" citizens to support the new agenda. The JVP leader Wimal Weerawansa hit the nail on the head when he said that the alliance, would take the country on a journey towards "cultural nationalism."
In the context of the possibility of snap elections to the Sri Lankan parliament in which the SLFP-JVP alliance is believed to have a bright chance of coming to power, the formation of UPFA has caused a stir in the country. It has triggered panic in the top echelons of the ruling classes, but is seen as a beacon of hope by the underprivileged.
Dr Gunadasa Amarasekara, thinker, writer and campaigner, is the author of the term Jathika Chintanaya. It was in 1986 that this well known dentist first used the term in an article in the popular Sinhala Sunday paper, Irida Divaina. "I would translate the term as Civilisational Consciousness rather than National Consciousness, because civilisation is a wider and deeper concept that nationality," Dr Amarasekara told Hindustan Times.
The eighties were very bad for Sri Lanka. The country was being torn apart by the violent Sinhala-Tamil conflict. The opening up of the economy in 1977 "to bring in foreign entrepreneurs even if they are robber barons" as President JR Jayewardene said, was destroying the fabric of Sri Lankan society. Thanks to "Yankee Dicky" Jayewardene, Sri Lanka was well and truly in the grip of neo-colonialism.
Dr Amarasekara was appalled by it.But he did not want the country to go back to the statism of the Sirimavo Bandaranaike era nor did he have any respect for the new revolutionary Marxism of the resurgent JVP. In Dr Amarasekara's view both Marxism and capitalism were Western concepts which did not suit the conditions prevailing in Sri Lanka and the nature and genius of its people. "Both had proved to be a failure," he asserts
He said that Sri Lankans should go back to their roots. "The civilisational consciousness, deeply ingrained in our society, especially in the rural areas, has to be rekindled. Solutions to modern day problems can be found in the light of the civilisational consciousness.It should be the touchstone of policy because it will eminently suit the country," he argued.
"Obviously, we cannot go back to the Anuradhapura or the Polannaruwa period, the conditions are not the same. But many of the values of that period are relevant to this day and cannot be ignored," he said.
Dr Amarasekara was not against equalitarian Marxism."But it has to be tempered by Jathika Chintanaya if it is to work," he maintained. "Every civilization with a long history, and Sri Lanka is one with a 2,500 history, has a consciousness, an ideology, which sets out its values, aims, goals, and what can be absorbed and what cannot be. Unless a programme or policy takes into account these factors, it will fail," he said.
The problem with Sri Lanka is that its Civilisational Consciousness got dimmed and even eclipsed because of 500 years of foreign rule, first by the Portuguese, then the Dutch, and lastly the British. "In the past 500 years, Sri Lankans have become great imitators, swinging from one cultural practice to another. This is lunacy," he said.
Anagarika Dharmapala was the first revivalist. He went from village to village campaigning for the revival of Buddhism, the traditional values, temperance and the Sinhala language. He was opposed by the then elite, who were largely Christian and anglicised, and who had also made their money through liquor contracts. DS Senanayake, a Buddhist member of the elite, supported Dharmapala's temperance movement, but later abandoned him and became a votary of anglicisation. On Independence Day in 1948, the first Sri Lankan Prime Minister was in top hat and coat tails!
"While Indian leaders who fought for their country's independence promoted Indianism (Mahatma Gandhi was the first Hindutvite) and never forsook their Indianness, the leaders and the elite of Sri Lanka lost their Sri Lankanness," Dr Amarasekara observed.
Though neighbouring India took an anti-imperialist path in national and world affairs, the post independence Sri Lanka wanted Britain to keep its air and naval bases in the island.
Sri Lanka continued on its path of cultural and political Westernisation till 1956, when it became clear that the right wing, pro-Western policies of the United National Party (UNP) did not answer to the needs of the new generation.
SWRD Bandaranaike, clad in his native white dhoti and shirt unlike his predecessors, rode to power on a new wave -- the indigenous Sinhala-Buddhist rural, plebian, non-Westernised masses, representing Sri Lanka's "civilisational consciousness".
"Bandaranaike did not create this force. He used it to come to power. The force was created by the village to village work of Anagarika Dharmapala and the free Sinhala education system introduced by Dr Kannangara and Dr Malalasekera in 1943," Dr Amarasekara said.
However, Bandaranaike did make the government and the country less elitist and indigenous in its character. He gave respectability to the Sinhala-Buddhist cause.
But this too came up against resistance from the entrenched Westernised elite.This elite, many of them Christian, got rattled by this turn of events and a small group of Christian led officers of the armed forces, even tried to stage a coup. But this failed due to a timely tip off.
SWRD Bandaranaike's wife, Sirima, was a cultural nationalist too, but ultimately she failed because of the tremendous influence Marxists cast in the Western mould had on her. "The Westernised Marxists and their ideology had no roots in the country and they did not have the people's support," Dr Amarasekara said. Their regime only bred statism and shortages.
The disillusionment of the people with Sirima's leftist regime was exploited by JR Jayewardene (JR) of the UNP, who promised to usher in a Dharmishta (righteous) regime. But his "Open Door" economic policy (open to robber barons too, as he put it) ruined the country by making it a happy hunting ground of neo-colonialism. The common man began to count less and less.
Succeeding governments, with the exception of one led by President Premadasa, continued JR's policies.The economy was based on trade and imports. Local entrepreneurship and agriculture were throttled, for a few importers to make a killing. Public assets were sold to foreigners. Land from Tangalle to Negombo is being sold to foreigners, alleged Dr.Amarasekara. The historical Galle fort is being parceled out to foreign buyers.State bus and rail transport were allowed to go to seed to help private operators. While more than 400 government schools are being closed down, elitist international schools are mushrooming. "And we have become slaves of the IMF and the World Bank," Dr Amarasekara said.
Buddhist principles of governance
According to Dr Amarasekara, Sri Lanka will not be facing this tragedy if it had followed Buddhist principles. "Buddhism is not against materialism, but against greed. The Buddha had enjoined that anything in excess be distributed among the needy. Unlike Marxism, Buddhism does not think that materialism will give happiness. It stresses the avoidance of extremes. It is equalitarian and anti-heirarchical."
"Post-independence leaders neither grasped the Western system nor did they grasp our own native system," remarked Dr.Piyasena Dissanayake, who has authored a work on Buddhist governance.
"Buddhism says that spiritual development should proceed hand in hand with material development.The Kings were enjoined to promote both," he said. The Buddha had stated ten rules of governance and called them the Dasa Raja Dharma. "The Buddha enjoined the King to arrive at decisions based on consensus. His own Sakya clan was a democratic one with the Raja being directly elected by the clan annually.Dictatorship and domination were anathema for the Buddha," Dr.Dissanayake said.
The Buddhist principle of arriving at decisions by consultation and consensus should help solve the Tamil problem, Dr Dissanayake maintained.
The Buddhist King is expected to be impartial, punishment must be reformative and not retributive. He must give seeds and other inputs to the farmer if he cannot acquire these with his own resources. The employer must adequately reward the employees and look after their welfare. He should be pleasant, kind, balanced and be able to empathise with those who seek his help. "Sri Lankans need not go beyond Buddhism to learn the norms of good governance," Dr Dissanayake conclued.
Over dependence on foreign assistance in every matter, whether economic or political, was not only enslaving Sri Lanka politically and economically, but was also affecting the norms of governance, Dr.Dissanayake said. Greed, acquisitiveness, inequality and injustice, all totally alien to the cultural heritage of Sri Lanka, had become the order of the day, lamented Dr Amarasekara. To him Sri Lanka's salvation lay in rekindling Jathika Chinathanaya, both among the rulers and the masses. The formation of UPFA is seen as a step in that direction.
(PK Balachanddran is the Sri Lankan correspondent of Hindustan Times)
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 02-08-2004
Same time India will be going for poll and Problem in Pakistan.
<b>Sri Lankan parliament dissolved; mid term poll on April 2</b>
Colombo, February 7
Following a power struggle between her and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga on Saturday dissolved the country's parliament and ordered fresh elections.
The 225 member house had been elected only two years ago, in December 2001.
An official announcement said that polling would be held on April 2 and the new parliament would ceremonially sit on April 22.
Nominations would be accepted between April 17 and 24.
The President and the Prime Minister had been unable to resolve the conflict over who would control the crucial Ministry of Defence and three months of talks on the issue had drawn a blank.
The President had taken over the Defence, Interior and Media ministries on November 4 which prompted the Prime Minister to say that he would not conduct the peace process and the peace talks with the separatist LTTE without unfettered control over the defence ministry. The peace process, already in the doldrums, received a further setback.
The President, who maintained that she had a constitutional duty to control the defence ministry, however suggested that the Prime Minister take charge of defence matters related to the peace process and was prepared to establish a Ministry of National Security for this purpose. But this did not satisfy the Prime Minister.
The matter will now be decided by the people in the parliamentary mid term poll.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 02-22-2004
Could we add some news links to the 1st Post :
Sri Lanka Page
The Island on the Net
Tamil Canadian Services :
Tamil Eelam Home Page
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 02-22-2004
The Sri Lankan conflict threatens to heat up as the elections approach. In my mind i cannot understand why we've taken what seems to be a hard stand against the Tamils and Eelam. Its no hidden fact that for decades the Tamils have endured ethnic cleansing for being Hindu and wanting equal rights.
Yes even i will state the LTTE which started off as a movement to fight for Tamil rights went all awry from the moment they decided to be the 1st group in the world to implement suicide bombing on civilians.
They're fight to gain Eelam took a hard hit when that happened...i surely believe if they stuck to military and guerilla warfare on the Sri Lankan army itself, they would have gained a lot more credence to their ideals.
We have our history in Sri Lanka that haunts us as well, but a brief read will tell us despite all odds we suceeded in bringing democracy to the Tamil people. We put the LTTE on the run, established political parties, and held elections for a Tamil representative to fight for tamil rights. However this scared the Sinhala government and its people, in that they began to wonder how long we would stay on the Island. Hence more than likely conspiracy theories abound that the Sinhala government began to arm the LTTE, and begged us to leave, upon which things went back to square one with the LTTE murdering all Tamil representatives and killing our own prime minister.
With their history and now increasingly violent buddhist Sinhalese, why can't we have a rethink to do whats is good for the Tamils of Sri Lanka to which we share so much history and cultural heritage.
WHY? are we now arming and training the Sinhalese Sri Lankan army to Kill more Tamils? Consider if we seek to mediate, and favorably push Sri Lanka for an Eelam solution....
1) With Eelam, comes much stronger Linkages to Tamil Nadu and India, the mother land for SL hindu Tamils. We will have access to Trincomalee port, the largest in asia?
We unfortunetly have a history of the Sri Lankan goverment trying to force our hand by asking the Americans, Pakistanis and others to set up military bases in SL to check our influence.
2) Even without Tamil Nadu's help Tamil eelam can support itself agriculturally, and has great tourism potential. It might even grow to become a tax haven area along the lines of hong kong, singapore. With a possible merger with Tamil Nadu,
it can only be better for the Republic and would see that the Tamils have equal rights under an Indian constitution.
If it is better to support tamil eelam, then why are we seeking to arm and train the Sri lankan army boggles me.....
Is there a "Dirty Secret" Behind India's Irrational Policy towards the Sri Lankan Crisis?
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 03-01-2004
<b>SRI LANKA: Chandrika takes a gamble in ordering elections: </b>Update 59.
by Dr S. Chandrasekharan
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 03-09-2004
<b>Split in LTTE - The Clash of the Tamil Warlords</b>
Ever since the ceasefire accordbetween the Government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE was signed two years ago, there were persistent reports of unhappiness amongst the Tamils of the East over what was seen by them as unjustified overtures to the Muslims by the northern leadership of the LTTE, over the lack of recognition of the Easterners, who had fought and won most of the battles of the LTTE against the Sri Lanka Army and over the perceived discriminatory treatment meted out to them in the North. Did this unhappiness force Karuna, the Eastern warlord, to act against Prabhakaran against his will or did he take advantage of it to defy Prabhakaran and assert his independence? Will he succeed in his defiance? Will the fighters of the East carry out his orders or disobey him? If they obeyed his orders, will there be a military conflict between the North and the East, leading to a resumption of the violence and damaging the peace process? Even if Prabhakaran succeeds in having Karuna eliminated, will he be able to re-assert his control over the East? Will his authority remain as strong as before?
These are very relevant questions, but it would be difficult to answer them at present. All one could say is that Karuna's position is not as strong as he seems to think it is and not as weak as Prabhakaran seems to wish it is. Even presuming that the overwhelming majority of Karuna's followers remain loyal to him, which is doubtful since they may not wish to contribute to a weakening of the struggle for Tamil Eelam, the two forces would be evenly matched and the outcome uncertain.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 04-06-2004
SRI LANKA: Result of April 2nd Elections: What does it portend? Update 62.
by Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
Our fears expressed in the previous update (update 61) that Sri Lanka is heading towards a fractured future appear to be coming true.
It may take a week or more for all the results to be announced (30 seats to be declared yet), but the result declared so far gives a fair indication of what it portends in the near future.
The Freedom alliance (UPFA) led by Chandrika Kumaratungheâs party (PA) is leading with 47 percent of votes polled, with UNP trailing with 39 percent of the votes, followed by the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and the newly emerging party of Buddhist Clergy (JHU) with 6 percent each.
This election was different from the previous ones in the following aspects.
* Barring Batticola where pre poll violence was due to other reasons, the current election was the least violent.
* Tamils from both North and East voted in large numbers. Though many of the voters living in LTTE controlled areas had to trek many Kilometres to vote in clustered booths set up in government controlled areas, they did it in large numbers. The reason given is that the LTTE unlike earlier elections openly encouraged voters to go out and vote for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA). There were allegations that many of the votes were rigged, but even if there were some, the fact remains that compared to previous elections, the Tamil voters for the first time in last twenty years have come in droves to vote. Does that mean that the LTTE which was instrumental in letting the voters in the region under their control to vote believes in the democratic way of the people to choose their candidates? The answer is NO- as the LTTE wanted the Tamils to vote for a single political group-the TNA which besides being the handmaiden of LTTE would act as an influential bloc both inside and outside the Sri Lankan Parliament. If there was any doubt, one should watch the pre elections campaign of R. Sampanthan of TULF, a veteran politician where he repeatedly talked of two nations- the Tamil and Sinhala nation besides declaring the LTTE as the true and authentic representative of Tamils!
* Another feature in this election has been the entry of Buddhist monks, in an outfit called Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU). Even before polling, they had declared that if elected they would prove to be the deciding factor in the formation of the government. They have garnered sufficient number of votes to emerge as the third largest group of the majority community after Freedom Party and UNP. While they could still not be the deciding factor, in a coalition government, their influence particularly in the ethnic issue cannot be under estimated.
* Unlike the earlier elections, there were many allegations of misuse of state media by the Presidentâs party.
In a system of proportional representation, current results would mean that the Freedom Alliance will not have an absolute majority and will have to take the help of other minor parties like the JHU.
The UNP in the run up to the elections had made out that this election could be a referendum on the cease fire agreement and the peace talks that followed. On the other hand UPFA, particularly the PA of President Chandrika, made out that Wickremasinghe had given in too much in the cease fire agreement. The JVP which is a part of the alliance of the President, has formally made its stand known that it is for only decentralisation and not even for devolution to the Tamils, leave alone the acceptance of the federalism concept. We had indicated in our update 58 (note- 211) that the agreement between SLFP and the JVP closes any hope of rapprochement between the two warring leaders President Chandrika and Prime Minister Wickremasinghe. The present election results have confirmed our fears and there is no doubt that the election results are a set back to the peace process. Now comes the leading monk of JHU who has declared that his party is not for any federalism or devolution but would work for autonomy of all the villages in Sri Lanka!
With such disparate views, it is not clear how Chandirka who is likely to form the government from her party will be able to manage and salvage the peace talks that are under suspended animation for quite some time.
A new element in the whole scenario is the situation in the east. The feud between the northern leadership and the former commander of East Karuna has reached a point of no return.
In the first stage the LTTE used its highly efficient propaganda machine to vilify Karuna as someone who had misappropriated the funds of LTTE, that he is isolated and that no force will be used to bring him to order. The leaders who were posted as replacements are still holed up in Wanni and have not returned to Batticola to take charge.
When this did not work and Karuna did not repent, the LTTE headquarters had to issue a detailed statement addressing directly the "fighters and divisional heads in Batticola and Amparai". What was startling and unacceptable was that Karuna was sentenced to death in absentia- We quote
"Making use of cadres and people who are not aware of the truth, Karuna is planning to betray the freedom struggle and our national spirit and thereby falling into the hands of traitors and enemies. The blood that was shed and the sacrifices made are being bartered by Karuna. To safeguard our nation and our people, it has been decided to get rid of Karuna from our soil."
When threats have not worked, the feud has reached the third stage when killer squads of Pottu Amman of LTTE have infiltrated into Batticola and there have been selective assassinations. Three eminent persons from Batticola of whom one was the candidate for the elections have been shot by unknown assassins, suspected to be from LTTE. The Sri Lankan media has reported on botched assassination attempt on Karuna himself. Such selective assassinations have not worked and Karunaâs outfit is still in tact. It looks that people of Batticola are still solidly behind Karuna.
The stage is therefore set for open confrontation between the northern group of LTTE and Karunaâs forces. Clashes will be inevitable. This will have serious consequences for Cease fire agreement and the peace process itself. In the absence of SLMM monitors, the Sri Lankan Army will inevitably get involved creating further complications to cease fire itself. There will be a temptation for some vested interests to use the split within LTTE to force some favourable terms on the Tamil question itself or side with one of the two factions to weaken both in the long run. The worst affected will be the Tamils of Batticola- Amparai region who had been looking forward to a period of peace and tranquility!
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 04-09-2004
<b>LTTE begins factional fighting: Red alert declared</b>
Press Trust of India
Colombo, April 9
Rival factions of LTTE on Friday exchanged heavy gunfire in north-eastern Sri Lanka in the first major clash since the split in the rebel movement, forcing the Government to declare a red-alert, officials said.
Cadres of the main Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and men controlled by a renegade commander fired mortars and small arms fire for nearly two hours across the Verugal river, military officials said.
"There are no signs of casualties brought to government-controlled hospitals on either side at the moment," a military official said. "But it looks like both suffered casualties."
Tiger commander for the eastern districts of Batticaloa and Amparai, V Muralitharan, broke away from the leadership of LTTE on March 3 sparking fears of a factional war.
Both sides had up to 1,000 fighters each deployed along the banks of the Verugal, which marks the border between north-eastern port districts of Trincomalee and Batticaloa.
Karuna had accused the main LTTE leadership of sending intelligence operatives to the region to start a clash.
There was no immediate comment from either of the rebel factions on Friday, but Government sources said they went on a red alert fearing consequences.
"The military and the police have sounded a red alert after the heavy overnight exchange of fire by the Tigers," an official said.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 07-13-2004
A potential addition to Sri Lanka's woes :
<b>Islamic fundamentalism brewing in Sri Lanka</b>.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 08-13-2004
Have a question for experts.
Now does any one have a idea on the origins of the tamil population in the lankan island ?
I have a idea that , they could be left over people from the Chola invasions of Sinhala. ?
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 08-16-2004
I am no expert. From what i have read, there are two type of Tamils in Sri Lanka
a) Eelam people:I hear that they are the original inhabitants of the Island and Sinhalese were the ones who came and settled with the advent of Buddhism. They are concentrated in the areas around north and east SriLanka.
b) Tamils of Indian Origin : These people were former tea plantation workers who went there during the British rule. Famous people in this category includes Muthiah Muralitharan and the former Sri Lankan minister Thondaman. These people live in and around Kandy and Colombo.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 08-17-2004
While i google-it-out ., let me explain one theory i have , sinhalese have this lion as one of their symbols ....Mauryan empire had the same state symbol...and it was the great mauryan ashoka who was responsble for spread of Buddhism to Lanka.
But there one could argue , To whom did sungamitra and mahendra(?) preach buddhism to ? If they had preached Buddhism to tamils, we would be able to see a good percentage of buddhist tamils in Lanka.Unfortunately that is not the case.
Then we have our good old ramayana and ravana in lanka.Now does that explain that there were extensive civilisation as in the case of the mainland india during those times.... <!--emo&--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/rolleyes.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='rolleyes.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Links always talk of Aryans ... <!--emo&--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/sad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='sad.gif' /><!--endemo--> .
God damn max muller and his aryan theories. :f*(k
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 08-17-2004
I believe the best option for Sri Lanka would be to join Union of India. If not then, Jaffana should certainly join Indian union.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 08-17-2004
Akand Bharath ?
I guess , after this madness of Islamists in Pukistan and Bongolis are over in the next few decades , and with the continued expansion of the indian economy ..the Akand Bharath idea might some time come true in forms similar to todays European Union
But , what i take pride with my Bharath is not is singularity but the differences, and plural opinions.That invisible thread, the dharma by which we have evolved.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 08-17-2004
For those who want a background on the ethnic issue, there is a series of articles by K. T. Rajasingham that was published in Asia Times a few years ago. The following is a link to chapter 13. It is a long read (52 chapters in all) but is very detailed for those who are interested:-
Sri Lanka: The Untold Story
Look at the bottom of the page for links to previous chapters.
Added later: If links at the bottom of the page dont work, you can try and find the articles by going to asia times' archives and searching for Rajasingham or for "Sri Lanka" +"Untold Story" in 2001 and 2002.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 08-18-2004
Sandeep, Thanks for the link.
Amarnath, I infer that even before the advent of Buddhism, there were immigrants from North India in Sri Lanka. The buddhist immigrants mixed a lot with the locals. I have spoken to a few Sinhalese, who say that they have a lot in common with North Indian languages and they trace their roots to Indian. Again whatever i post is from my personal interactions with certain people in the know and not through proper reading.
Srilanka - News And Discussion - Guest - 08-22-2004
<b>AN UPDATE ON LTTE VIEWS ON RESUMING PEACE TALKS</b>. by Col R Hariharan (retd.)