NO TALKS, NO PARALLELS
(1998 September 09)
"British Envoy draws parallel between Ireland, Lanka and suggests to engage Tigers in talks" was the
heading of the Reuters report from Kolomba as it appeared in "The Island" of 5th September. Just above
this report were the photographs of Arjuna, Murali, Sanath and Aravinda with the heading Arjuna and the Triumphant
Band Return. Who dictates terms to whom?
It is said that the English (not the British) gave the world and us the parliamentary system and cricket. They have given us much more than that. Tamil racism in Sri Lanka is their creation. They baptised and nurtured Tamil racism until recently when the western countries in general decided to take care of the fiend.
The Sri Lankan cricketers have beaten the English. I do not think that the Sri Lankan cricketers played the English game. The two teams played two different games albeit with the same umpires. The Sri Lankans play their own game of attacking cricket, which the English will never play. They 'play' only attacking politics and that too, since the so-called second world war, giving us the impression that they are not attacking.
I will give an example from politics in cricket. After Sri Lanka won the world cup the English cricket establishment always maintained that if the matches were played on their pitches Sri Lanka would not have won. They said that Sri Lanka won simply because the matches were played in the sub continent with slow pitches. Now there was an underlying assumption and a subtle attack which many people did not realise. That is that the true pitches are the English (the Australian, and the South African) and in order to determine worthy champions cricket has to be played and won in England.
The Sri Lankans also took this as some gospel truth and were determined to win a trophy and a test match in England. It is good to see that the Sri Lankan cricketers have achieved their ambition. But what they should have done was to challenge the English to win matches in the sub continent. Sri Lankans could have easily said "look our pitches are the true cricket pitches and not yours. If you want to be worthy champions win matches on our pitches. The genuine champions can be found only if the matches are played in the sub continent". It is not a case of coming down to the level of the English but only a matter of attacking politics being met with similar politics.
The trouble with the Sinhala people is that they do not 'play' attacking politics. Our politicians are too timid and not worthy inheritors of most of the Mahavansa kings. They resemble Don John Dharmapala and have been brainwashed by their western education and by the so-called westminister and whitehall traditions. The real westminster and whitehall traditions are nothing but attacking as exemplified by the Foxes and the Tathams.
What right the British High Commissioner in Sri Lanka has got to interfere with our affairs? As reported in "The Island" he has suggested to engage the LTTE in talks. He has drawn a parallel between "TERRORISM in Northern Ireland and the ETHNIC WAR in talks." (my emphasis) He has also said "…. What worries us in the Northern Ireland, as it worries you in Sri Lanka, is that we had , we have democratic states based on universal suffrage and yet groups felt so alienated that they turned to violence to try to impose their will on the majority of their fellow citizens".
It is very clear that the western powers are trying very hard to get the government involved in talks with the LTTE. Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has recently said that there should be unconditional talks with the LTTE. It was only last year that as a result of a visit by the then British foreign under secretary Dr. Fox letters were exchanged between the Leader of the opposition and the President on procedural matters in connection with talks between the government and the LTTE. Mr. Wickremesinghe's complain has been that the government has not honoured the "agreement".
Last week we had Prof. Thomas Fraser and Ms. Annie Fraser from Northern Ireland . They were in Sri Lanka to present their views at a workshop organised by the Ministry of Justice and the International Centre for Ethnic Studies headed by the TULF MP Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam. Dr. G. L. Peiris was billed to deliver the keynote address at this workshop, which the High Commissioner for Britain Mr. Tatham was expected to attend. The Frasers, we are told were engaged in drafting the political agreement reached between the governments of the United Kingdom and the Northern Ireland. All these people seem to believe that there is a parallel between the Irish question and the Tamil problem in Sri Lanka.
Nothing can be further from the truth. They are neither parallel nor intersecting. They are skew and are not on the same plane. The only similarity between them is that both were created by the British. However that does not give a licence to Foxes, Tathams and Frasers to interfere with our sovereignty. The President should tell the British government in no uncertain terms that Britain should keep away from our internal affairs and that she should remind the British High Commissioner that now we do not have British Governors in the country. It appears that the Tamil racists, their Godfathers, and the sponsors are now rallying round Mr. Wickremesinghe and Dr. G. L. Peiris whom they want to form the next government. I willnot be surprised if Dr. Peiris becomes the Minister of Constitutional Affairs in a UNP government as well.
The present government under the leadership of Ms. Kumaratunga was brought to power by the non-national forces only for one specific reason. (It is true that it was the people who voted for the PA. But Ms. Kumaratunga became the leader of the PA, hijacked the SLFP and then enforced SLMP policies on the PA under the auspicious of the non-national forces.) They wanted this government to implement the G.L.- Neelan political package. However the non-national forces misread the SLFP psyche, and underestimated the strength of the Sinhala nationalist movement and they were not able to achieve their objective. It is not only the Russian rouble, which is responsible for the fall in the various indices of the stock exchange. If not for the executive presidency all these non-national forces would have by now brought this government down.
The British High Commissioner refers to terrorism in Northern Ireland but to an ethnic war in Sri Lanka. Why is that Britain is so reluctant to call the LTTE a terrorist organisation? The term ethnic war gives respectability not only to the terrorist LTTE but also to the other Tamil racist parties as well. Then Mr. Tatham goes on to say that groups feeling alienated have turned to violence to try to impose their will on the majority. Now the question has to be asked as to whether these groups have been made to feel alienated by the majorities and also who are the majorities in the respective countries.
Prof. Fraser in an article published in "The Island" of 4th and 5th of September talks of three related problems in Northern Ireland. As far as I can see there is only one problem in Ireland. The country has not been given full independence by England (Britain). Wales, Scotland and Ireland were the first colonies of England. They were the first to become members of the English empire later to be renamed as the British empire. Though England (Britain) gave some kind of political independence to the other countries after the war known as the second world war, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland remained within the empire.
In the case of Ireland the whole problem began in the sixteenth century. The Stuarts as well as Oliver Cromwell were responsible for colonisation and various other actions that the English took against the Irish. (If Messrs. Tatham, Fraser and Co., are interested in comparisons they can compare the land policies of Oliver Cromwell, which deprived the Irish Catholics of their land, with the land policies of the British in Sri Lanka starting with the waste land ordinance.) As Prof. Fraser himself mentions in the early 17th century large parts of Ulster were settled with Protestants. Prof. Fraser states that events such as the Battle of Boyne (1690) "confirmed a Protestant Ascendancy in Ireland for the next hundred years and are still vital to understanding the current situation". But he does not mention that the siege of Londonderry in 1688-89 and the Battle of Boyne did not take place as organic developments in the history of Ireland. If not for the English there would not have been so many Protestants in Ulster.
Finally in 1801 Ireland was annexed under the pretext of forming the United Kingdom of Britain and Ireland. (Britain had been formed by annexing Wales and Scotland.) The Irish nationalists waged a war of independence and independence was given to 28 counties in 1922, which formed the present Republic of Ireland. A parliament was set up in Dublin for these counties but the remaining six counties remained part of the so-called United Kingdom and they formed the Northern Ireland. In effect they remained a colony of England (Britain).
The present Northern Ireland problem started with that "independence." The Republic of Ireland has claimed jurisdiction over the whole Island. If the English (British) had given independence to the whole Island including the six counties, which they retained, there would not have been a Northern Ireland problem. The Protestants and the Catholics would have had some difficulties in the beginning but if there was no interference from Britain they would have sorted them among themselves. In any case there would not have been so many Protestants in Ireland if not for the Stuarts and Cromwells.
Now what has happened with the agreement that the Frasers have helped to draft? The agreement declared that "Northern Ireland in its entirety remain part of the United Kingdom and shall not cease to be so without the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland voting in a poll". On the other hand the Republic of Ireland has agreed to repeal articles 2 and 3 of its 1937 constitution which claimed jurisdiction over the whole island. The English diplomacy has saved the Northern Ireland for the United Kingdom! Beware of Frasers and others who are working for the English.
Mr. Tatham talks of minorities who feel that they have been alienated. In the case of Ireland who are the majority and who are the minority? Mr. Tatham must have had the IRA in mind when he talked of a minority. The Catholics are a minority only if Northern Ireland is considered . Even there in certain counties the Catholics are in the majority. If the whole Island is considered the Catholics form the majority. It is clear that it is the majority which feel they are alienated due to the policies of the Protestant England (Britain). A minority of Protestants is imposing its will on the majority with the help of the English (British).
In Sri Lanka it is again the majority Sinhala people who have been discriminated as a result of the policies of the British. However the majority has not taken up arms as in the case of Ireland. Here it is the Tamils, who are not prepared to accept that the Sinhala people are the majority, and who have taken up arms. Prabhakaran was created by the Anglican Chelvanayakam who in turn was created by the Anglican British. The British created the English educated Tamils and gave them privileges and undue prominence in the professions and equated them historically and culturally (in the sense of the culture of the country) with the Sinhala and finally by appointing equal number of members to the Legislature instilled in their heads a hatred against the Sinhala majority.
Sri Lanka has been an Eksesath (Unitary) state for more than two thousand years. We became an Eksesath state long before the westerners and their political scientists thought of the concept of a unitary state. The so-called Yapanaya kingdom, which in any case did not extend up to the present Eastern Province carved out by the British, was not a sovereign state. It is not a question of Sinhala people grabbing the Eastern and the Northern Provinces, as the English (British) did in the case of Ireland but a problem of Tamils demanding a separate state as a result of Tamil racism created by the British, and taking up arms to achieve their aspiration. (I have traced the origin and the evolution of Tamil racism in Sri Lanka elsewhere.) There is no need for any talks, conditional or unconditional, with the LTTE which together with the other Tamil racist parties impose conditions on the government. These conditions including acceptance of Tamils as a separate nation, the right of self determination of the Tamils, and the traditional homeland concept, which according to them are non-negotiable, amount to giving an Eelam in principle.
If Mr. Tatham and the rest are interested in the welfare of the Sri Lankan people there is one thing that they can do. Pay compensation for violating the 1815 Udarata convention and all the other acts against the Sinhala people, especially the Buddhists, and keep away from our affairs even though it was the British who created the problems.