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Sri Lankan Tamils should opt for a total boycott

[Express Buzz, Monday, 18 January 2010 20:21 No Comment]

The independent Milan-based Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (PPT) conducted a Sri Lanka war crimes tribunal at Dublin, capital of the Irish Republic, on January 14 and 15 — Pongal and Tamil new year days. The tribunal examined eyewitnesses and other material evidence in great detail. In the preliminary findings issued on January16, the tribunal held the Sri Lanka government ‘guilty of war crimes’ and ‘crimes against humanity’.

The tribunal also concluded that the charge of genocide requires further investigation Eyewitnesses included several escapees from the final week of Sri Lanka offensive in the Mullaitivu ‘No Fire Zone’ where more than 20,000 Tamil civilians were allegedly slaughtered by the Sri Lanka army training heavy weapons on them.

This has been the charge of the Tamil diaspora in particular and the world community in general for the past several months. The three main culprits accused of such heinous crimes are Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa, defence secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa and army commander Sarath Fonseka. Of these, two — Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sarath Fonseka — are contesting in the presidential election due on January 26. Both are perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity as declared by the PPT.

It is imperative for the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which claims to represent the Tamils of Sri Lanka, to review the stated position of supporting Sarath Fonseka in the forthcoming presidential election. Instead, they should opt for a total boycott of the election.

Besides the timely indictment by the PPT, there are other strong reasons for this advocacy:

* It is not a choice between the devil and the deep sea as is made out to be. Both are devils and there is no choice for the Tamils.

* Sri Lankan Tamils, casting their vote in favour of any one of them would be an endorsement and mandate in favour of war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated against the Tamils. If this happens neither the Tamil diaspora nor the international community would be able to pursue the Dublin Declaration and bring the war criminals to justice.

* The overwhelming view in Tamil Nadu is in favour of total boycott, because under the circumstances, this is the only way the Sri Lankan Tamils could retain some semblance of self-respect.

* Last, but not the least, there is no democracy being practised in Sri Lanka, and the election is a mere farce being enacted to seek the people’s mandate for an autocratic rule. Tamils will be ill-advised to participate in this sham.

The only argument being put forward by TNA for supporting Fonseka is that his victory will give them ‘local political space’ which has now been grabbed by the likes of Douglas Devananda, Karuna, Pillayan and Anandasangaree. This is an untenable argument as opined by a Sinhalese expert: “The billion dollar question is, even if Douglas, Karuna, Pillayan and Sangaree are removed from Tamil politics, it would not bring any democratic political solution to the ethnic issue. Because I don’t expect the forces rallying around Fonseka to bring about any solution that is pluralistic and justifiable for the Tamils issue, given their political thinking, including that of the General”. According to the expert if the General wins, there won’t be more ‘space’ for Tamils, political or otherwise, only for more military camps and High-Security Zones.

The writing is on the wall. The Tamil National Alliance is facing a lose-lose situation. By sticking to the present stand it may not gain any ‘political space’ but would certainly be responsible for the Tamils of Sri Lanka losing face forever.

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