Blake, Menon and Hillary
In an interview given to The Island, Mr. Robert Blake, the US Ambassador in Sri Lanka, has stated inter alia, that ‘The right time for a political solution is now’. When one speaks of a ‘solution’, it implies that there is a problem. But nowhere in his interview has Mr. Blake mentioned what the problem is. No person can talk of solution without first stating what the problem is. Adding insult to injury, a news item appearing in the Daily Mirror of March 9, 2009 carried a head line, titled "US Govt. calls for political Solution", once again without stating what the problem is.
The latest to join this bandwagon is the Indian Foreign Secretary, Mr. Shiva Shanker Menon who had, after discussions with senior officials in the United States, in President Barack Obama’s administration, which included Hillary Clinton, had talked of ‘political steps including devolution’ (The Island – 13th March, 2009). Mr. Menon had apparently forgotten or thought it necessary to forget about the devolution forced down the throats of Sri Lankans in 1987 through the intervention of India. The 1987 devolution package was hailed as the final solution to the problem with the LTTE leader making a symbolic hand over of weapons to the then Army Commander, a photograph of which appeared in newspapers. (It will be very appropriate if The Island could reproduce this photograph). Everybody thought that the final solution has been found and the then Finance Minister, publicly stated that with the money saved from defence expenditure, the Government servants could get a substantial salary increase. In such a scenario, dear Mr. Menon why on earth should we talk of any devolution at this stage. Are we to keep on granting solutions ad infinitum?
In conclusion, this writer wishs to draw the kind attention of all those persons referred to above to the article under the heading ‘The situation in Sri Lanka’ written by that eminent lawyer, Mr. S. L. Gunasekera to The Island on 2nd March, 2009, which should be recommended reading for everybody who speaks about solutions without first stating what the problem is. I wish I could quote verbatim, this article, but space will be a problem. Suffice it to quote just one sentence from the said article i.e. ‘That unforgivable act of India caused my country to bleed profusely for another 22 years". Mr. Gunasekera, the author of seven books on Sri Lanka’s separatist problem, states that the separatist problem has been wrongly referred to as the ethnic problem.
Our good ambassador Mr. Blake is kindly requested to study the above articles and also read the book written by Rev. Ellawala Medhananda titled "Our Heritage In the North and East." Then and only then will he realize that there is no ethnic problem in this country. He is also kindly requested to send copies of these Publications to Madam Hilary Clinton who can, at her next meeting with Shiva Shanker Menon, confront him with these publications and ask for his views on the matters referred to therein.
Perhaps, the Indian High Commision could send copies of these Publications to those leaders in Tamil Nadu shedding copious tears for the LTTE, and not the Tamil Community. They are blind to the fact that Tamil gentlemen of the caliber of Messrs. Anandasangaree, Douglas Devananda. Karuna Amman etc... etc.., are not part of the LTTE and do not endorse their activities. Those in Tamil Nadu should realize that Tamils constitute only 12% of the country’s population and that 55% of that population live outside the North and East in perfect harmony with the majority community and being law abiding citizens of this country, do not subscribe to the aspirations of the LTTE.
It is very relevant in the current context to quote a letter on this subject which appeared in The Island of 21 February,1996 written by Dr. S. Nadesan of Surrey, UK titled "Is there an ethnic problem?"
"I am a Tamil living in England for the past 30 years. I wish to express a basic Truth deeply hidden in the long prevailing Tamil conflict in Sri Lanka. I am also a citizen of Britain, living along with many other races of people who came here from early British colonies. One thing is clear. Although the British are tolerant towards other ethnic groups and allow them to practice their respective cultures privately, none of these ethnic cultures have been institutionalized in the national Constitution. Nor are today’s descendants of the Roman empire in Britain given Italian rights in the British national agenda. It is the same in all countries which are indigenous motherlands, that have absorbed other ethnics from their countries of origin.
My children in Britain and their future generations will eventually integrate into the English mainstream. This, I think, is the civilized way for minority races living in host countries, away from their native countries of origin.
In addition to the above, this writer also wishes to quote from an article which appeared in The Island on November 19, 2003 entitled "Case against a federal constitution In Sri Lanka".
"As far as Sri Lanka is concerned, what is not realized is that three fourths of the Tamils do not live in the so called ‘homelands’. More than 1.5 million Tamils will have to leave behind their land and homesteads mostly in the Western Province and settle down in the inhospitable traditional homelands in the Dry Zone. A migrant population never qualifies for national status in the host country. The Tamil have have to accept this fact. Tamil nationalism and Tamil patriotism make a logical application in South India and not in Sri Lanka. To demand a "Tamil nation in Sri Lanka" is but a fiction that arises from fictitious assertions regarding the territories that rightfully belong to the Sinhalese. There is no reference to a traditional homeland of the Tamils even in 1950’s. Are not the Tamils especially in the South, living in freedom and dignity and what more do they want?"
The above statements are supported by facts and figures in the article referred to which are too lengthy to be quoted verbatim. In conclusion, it must be emphasized that nowhere in the world do we get a single nation claiming traditional homelands in two different countries, geographically separated by a vast ocean. Origin of a nation would invariably have been in one country and their residents may have subsequently migrated to other countries, years/centuries later, thus acquiring migrant status in the host country. Thus, those who endorse the concept of a traditional homeland of Tamils in Sri Lanka, should be able to prove that the Tamil nation originated in Sri Lanka and that the present Tamil population of 70 millions in Tamil Nadu are the descendants of Tamils who migrated to Tamil Nadu from Sri Lanka.
In the circumstances enumerated above, it is fitting that Mr. Blake adds a post script to his interview with The Island and referred to above and tell the readers, whether he still maintains his original stand i.e. "The right time for a political solution is now" If his answer is in the affirmative, he should explain in detail what the problem is.
The Indian High Commission is kindly requested to send a copy of this letter to Mr. Shiva Shanker Menon and arrange to publish his views in the local press, on all matters referred to herein. The letter will also be recommended reading for all political leaders in Tamil Nadu.
S. D. Goonewardena,