| by Shenali Waduge
( January 31, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) We cannot deny the historical links shared between Sri Lanka and India. We cannot also forget decades of India’s aggression camouflaged by diplomatic niceties with post-war observing an India totally in denial of its own links & support of LTTE terrorism. So much so that India’s concern is none other than the Tamil civilians of the north and east and a steady flow of Indian “assistance” to be “taken” without argument. A Government that politically & militarily defeated terrorism should not need to fear “influences” for a nation backs any Government that does not compromise the territorial sovereignty and integrity of that country. This type of public backing is more powerful than any external military force should that be one of the threats being used. Just as the People must have confidence in the Government the Government must ensure that it is worthy of receiving the backing of the People. Must we remind India of its lists of interventions – through the LTTE, arrival of the IPKF, through economic assistance and now a steady flow of labor! The people are watching.
Some of India’s actions can never be explained and their “pettiness” devalues its aspirations to become a global power house and win a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In foreign relations and political pleasantries there is no give and take. Giving becomes a sequel to the taking – Bangladesh is a good example. India has managed to coerce self-involvement in varied humanitarian programs, development projects as well as use the Tamil National Alliance as its mouthpiece in local politics. A mistake of the GOSL was not to politically silence the TNA claiming it to be no mouthpiece of the Tamil people but only the voice of the LTTE, the Tamil Diaspora and the high castes of Sri Lanka. Had the GOSL done that India would have been left to search for a mouthpiece other than the TNA!
So it baffles us to why the TNA has been accepted in politics and it explains the current demands made through the TNA for something called a “political solution”, implementation of the 13th amendment, devolution of land and police powers, remerger of the north and east. These wishlists no doubt are sent from India. Therefore, when proposals come for ferry links, Indian consulates, Indian projects & Indian personnel in the north their presence should immediately warrant greater intelligence and greater information gathering.
India used Sri Lanka as a tool to appease Tamil Nadu. With LTTE no more India needs to give Tamil Nadu assurance that pre-LTTE and post-LTTE sees no major differences. We are well aware that the LTTE international network was a thriving business generating money from varied illegal businesses. For India the LTTE was a tool to advance its own agenda laid out by Brahmin North and that will never allow an Eelaam in Sri Lanka or Tamil Nadu. Indian Governmental involvement was to only make sure that if things went out of control India would be able to immediately annex the northern tip to India & east of Sri Lanka becomes a bonus for India’s ambitious plans in the sub continent. GOSL never let go of Trincomalee at any cost!
That Sri Lanka’s military has opted to continue most of the high security zone areas and maintain its personnel throughout the north and east is a concern to India. It is something India cannot object to so instead the alternative has been to use the TNA to attack the military, using NGOs and locals to bring allegations against the military with the motive to depict a sense of fear amongst civilians against the military. These plans are very clear to us and we wonder why all these parties kept mum throughout the times LTTE abducted Tamil children, punished all those going against the LTTE with death, forcefully took people’s property, money and jewellery? Did any of these people speak against the LTTE?
We need not remind India or the TNA that it did nothing for those Tamils that suffered at the hands of the LTTE. It was the poor & the low caste Tamils used as scapegoats so India, TNA, NGOs & foreign governments should feel ashamed.
What of the calls for devolution of power to the north and east provinces and the implementation of the 13th amendment. For starters it is an amendment that was forced upon a sovereign nation and should be annulled. The Tamils are a minority in the east and devolving police and land powers does not address any demands of the ordinary people. These devolutions will only serve the interest of India and the puppets that India choose to back as political parties in Sri Lanka. India is well aware of Tamil Nadu’s desire for self-determination and the State has managed to successfully plant politicians who function for the love of themselves alone. Thus, with Tamil Nadu’s self determination bids on hold it has served India to consider the north of Sri Lanka and east where Sri Lanka’s natural harbor could boost India’s geopolitical ambitions in the long term.
India as history will remind us has been using a range of policy approaches in Sri Lanka from passive to aggressive and now to being a friend showering offers Sri Lanka cannot refuse. India has learnt aggression has only resulted in causing a deep resentment amongst the South against India though overshowerings of affections have not changed the sentiments of the South towards India. We do not trust India.
Key to India’s post-LTTE involvement in Sri Lanka is the economic integration. The CEPA, FTA’s are some of the agreements that are detrimental to Sri Lanka and if signed by politicians and secretaries who care not the least for Sri Lanka’s sovereign status these will afford far dangerous repercussions. The fishing issues are another way India is using to exert its bully tactics. India has agreed to build houses for Tamils, roads for Tamils and trains for Tamils…why did India not give citizenship for Tamils especially those who sought refuge in India as way aback as the 1980s…why were these people kept in camps?
Why is India not magnanimous enough to extend citizenship in India/Tamil Nadu for all those that seem to abhor living in Sri Lanka or calling themselves Sri Lankan?
As a democratic country no foreign government and especially no persons drawing monthly salaries and mere mouthpieces of the mandates of these organizations can demand Sri Lanka to function to their own dictates. If the public says NO to the 13A – plus or minus, the Government has to honor that wish. The Government is to be reminded that it is only the custodian of governance of the People. To avoid ambiguities and to cease making a mockery of the country it is time for the world to be directly told that there would be NO devolution of powers – land, police or finance and that demands for the implementation of such should not be brought forth for any future talks. Even India would appreciate if our leaders put their cards properly across the table without leading the nation astray. Any country will be more than willing to discuss gaining the sun & the moon from us but it is upto us to ensure we know what we are offering. We have two big players in the form of China & India already very much involved in a spate of activities throughout the island. Our biggest question is how much of the movements and actions of these nations are being followed by our Government or have they been given a carte blanche?
All that needs to be said is that the Indian Government has been duping Tamil Nadu, the LTTE, the Tamil Diaspora and all those that aspire for a Tamil Eelaam either in Sri Lanka and especially in Tamil Nadu. India will never allow an Eelaam in either territory…but India was willing to ride along so long as India was party to all the talks, India was party to the bargaining’s and India had the final say. India was even willing to accommodate the theatrics of self-serving politicians in Tamil Nadu and illiterate others who set themselves on fire! So we can understand how the LTTE eventually branched out to become a terrorist movement that decided to make a whole load of money using “self-determination” as their theme and all those foreign & local “representatives” of the LTTE cause were also making money pretending to work for the “rights of the Tamil people”.
If liberation of the Tamil people was the central and only motive – no single Tamil should have died, no single Tamil child would have been kidnapped and trained to kill, no Tamil would have suffered fatally for going against the LTTE. May we remind the world that it was 294,000 Tamil civilians that were kept as human shields by the LTTE that were rescued by Sri Lanka’s military. It was at one of these rescue camps that an LTTE suicide bomber pretending to be a civilian blew herself up killing scores of Tamil children/women including women soldiers who were providing treatment for Tamil civilians who had been denied food by the LTTE. If the Sinhalese has been discriminating why are Tamils leading better lives than most of the Sinhalese?
In the light of these realities the UNSG’s Panel Report, the Channel 4 film become evidence of the hypocrisies that prevail just as foreign parliamentarians who become mouthpieces for the LTTE on the gratefulness of the funds given or the votes that come their way. Besides we have ample footage of how Sri Lanka’s military bravely rescued Tamil men, women & children…how they carried the ailing, how they fed those that were denied food & water by the LTTE, how our military dressed the wounds of Tamil people who had been shot at while fleeing the LTTE ….these footage are far humanitarian and give an everlasting picture of the greatness of our heroes than some blurred pictures meant to tarnish our nation.
To India all we need to say is that our country has bore 30 years of suffering to ensure India’s South was not divided. Thirty years is no small number and it merits India to allow Sri Lanka some breathing space. We are approaching 64 years of independence and exactly half of that post-independence has been to deal with bombs, suicides, assassinations & killings. Now that militarily the LTTE has been defeated India should leave Sri Lanka alone and trust in us that we would not allow LTTE to prevail especially if it means it would be a risk to India.
Terrorism has become a useful tool for nations and governments to forward other agendas but it does come with collateral damage and that damage is something our nation does not wish for any country …even India.