Sri Lanka’s Tamils, victims of genocide perpetrated by the majority Sinhala Governments since independence in 1948, appear to be poised to continue to live with miseries also partly contributed by the rivalries and inactions of the leaders of the Tamils who are busy engaged in election and parliamentary politics disregarding the political mess and lingering problems of the Tamils. 17 Tamil political party leaders are on the fray making vitriolic statements and parliamentary speeches exposing the issues facing the Tamils which are growing with alarming speed through state Legislations and violent and forcing measures by Sinhala politicians and extreme Buddhist clergy members who are forcibly seizing private lands belonging to the Tamils in the North and East, building Buddhist Viharas and erection of Buddha statues in Tamil areas where few or no Buddhists live which have become common and normal. For this purpose desecration and destruction of Hindu temples has also become a common practice by the Government. Step by step, Sri Lankan security forces are taking control of the civil administration in the North and East keeping out the involvement of concerned civilian officials. Even the menacing health issue COVID-19 is handed over for control and supervision in the hands of war Commanders
There cannot be any denial of the fact that the discriminating treatment of Tamils in Sri Lanka continues unabated since 1948 and further compounded by the vile diplomacy and betrayals of trusts and pledges by the successive Sri Lankan Governments since 1948. It has to be stated that the Tamil political leaders also failed the Tamils with their abandonment of the election pledges and falling into the traps of sugar coated politics of cooperation and conciliation inside and outside support to the Sinhala Governments sometimes ensuring their survival with their wavering and dithering stands.
The present Government elected by 90% Sinhala Buddhist voters is proceeding at an accelerated pace to achieve its goal of making Sri Lanka a PURE SINHALA BUDDHIST STATE. [A dream of the MAHA SANGA, Buddhist Clergy, racist Sinhala politicians from all Sinhala parties] Whereas the Tamil political leaders are watching with unconcern and with indifference the gradual extinction of Tamils with their identity, culture, religion and language. The Tamil leaders appear to be dumb founded and in defeatist mood without any meaningful steps, actions or any united constructive plans to halt the ongoing genocide agenda of the Government. Adding insult to injury, the Tamil political parties and their leaders are engaged in a tug-of-war which is centered on the political pitch as to who will score the goal to obtain more votes in the forthcoming elections and qualify to claim the political leadership of the Tamils. The three major Tamil parties, Tamil National Alliance, led by R. Sampanthan, Tamil National People’s Front led by Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam and Tamil Makkal Kootani led by C. Wigneswaran are said to be busy preparing their own draft constitutional proposals as well as proposals for inclusion in the forthcoming UNHRC Resolutions which is expected to be passed in March 2021.
In this respect, the forthcoming UNHRC 46th Session provides the final and not to be squandered opportunity for the Tamils and its leaders to initiate international involvement and also introduce proposals on political settlement under its supervision. A strong UNHRC Resolution can force Sri Lanka to respect the International Community, United Nations and UNHRC if backed by proposals to impose punitive measures against Sri Lanka. Therefore the Tamil parties and their leaders must cease their squabbling and infighting as to who should earn the credit for the effective contribution at the UNHRC Sessions. It is very important a single draft proposal agreed by all the parties and leaders is what is needed and not three or four which if and when submitted will be treated like a hopper torn into pieces making it wasted. It need not be stressed that by embarking on this fruitless step, the Tamil leaders would be committing historical blunders which damage the causes of the Tamils without salvage.
This is a never miss opportunity for the self-centered Tamil leaders to forge a United Tamil Front proving the unity and unified voice of the Tamils to the International Community and Sri Lankan Government. The much described deceptive, illusive and face saving occasional unity must be abandoned and deleted from the dictionary of Tamil’s politics which is blotted with these stains. In addition, egoism, rivalry and personal political ambition must be shed and discarded by the current political leaders for the sake of the survival of Tamils in Sri Lanka who are faced with the prospect of a slow and gradual extinction orchestrated by the fully grown Sinhala Buddhist extremism and majoritarianism.
Therefore it is very important for the Tamil leaders to present one draft after reaching a consensus among them at least for the time being at this critical time. Any solo action will only weaken our strength, causes and recognition of our demands for a constitution incorporating just political provisions meeting the aspirations of the Tamils. A United Tamil Front calling on the United Nations, UNHRC and the International Community to initiate an independent international investigation either locally or externally and request a referral to the International Criminal Court will surely evoke very strong response and reaction from United Nations, UNHRC and Security Council.
Ominous signs are seen as to the future existence of the Provincial Council system which faces the dim prospect of exclusion in the proposed new constitution. With Sinhala Buddhist extremism in the driving seat, the Tamils, their political parties and leaders have to rise to defeat this looming threat which if not, will only confirm their status of subjugation The only alternative is to forge one and single United Tamil Front and embark on a campaign of lobbying and soliciting the UNHRC and UN members particularly India’s and Tamil Nadu’s support.
Therefore TNA has to act with renewed vigour and dedication shedding its slumbering and dilly-dallying unproductive flirting approach, clinging on to unfounded hopes for a just political settlement from this Government or any other Government in Sri Lanka. TNA must work for a very strong and active involvement of the UN and International Community for a just permanent political settlement. In this respect, a strong UNHRC Resolution could provide the first step to move forward to obtain the involvement of the UN to prescribe the remedies for the 72 year old sufferings and burning problems of Tamils in Sri Lanka. It is a stark reality that any further extensions to Sri Lanka by UNHRC will only sound the death knell for the UNHRC Recommendations and prolongs the miseries of war victims while providing a God send opportunity to Sri Lanka licensing it to continue its defiance to UNHRC and United Nations.
The Tamil parties must unite and call for the recovery of their lost sovereignty. [In 1833 the British amalgamated the Tamil Kingdom ‘JAFFNA KINGDOM’ with other two Sinhalese Kingdoms for their easy administration] and nationhood in their historical and traditional homelands in the North and East of Sri Lanka and carry forward their demands and agitate for endorsement by UN and International Community instead of investing their politics on the past sufferings of Tamils and exploiting them for political and election fortunes.
Thambu Kanagasabai, LLM London, Former Lecturer in Law, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. President of The Tamil Canadian Elders for Human Rights Org.