South African initiative props up ‘Sri Lankan’ identity
A geopolitical axis of South Africa-Colombo-Singapore, held a “Dialogue promotion amongst Sri Lankans,” by convening a meeting of different political and academic stakeholders at Singapore last week. The very orientation of the axis, as the conference title implies, was to prop up the Sri Lankan State and to make Eezham Tamils to compromise with ‘Sri Lankan’ identity, despite decades of genocide and on-going genocide, Tamil observers in the island said. At least two Establishments of the West, Switzerland and Norway are said to be backing the South Africa process that has an 18 months history behind it. Eezham Tamils have rejected the Sri Lankan identity at the very official introduction of it along with the 1972 republican constitution.
According to a press release from the South African convenors, titled “Dialogue promotion amongst Sri Lankans,” the process is dubbed as “In Transformation Initiative,” (ITI).
The South Africa–ITI process in the last 18 months involved to and fro visits by Sri Lankan government ministers and senior officials, opposition and ruling party members, as well as other representative groups, the press release said, adding that further programmes are planned for key Sri Lankan stakeholders to visit South Africa to observe the model practised there and for South African academics to visit Colombo during October.
The Singapore meeting took place on 31 August and on 1st September, said the press release dated 1st September and signed by the ITI directors, Roelf Meyer, Mohammed Bhabha and Ivor Jenkins.
Switzerland and Norway actively back the South African–ITI, informed sources said.
The South African initiative is to once again ‘sell’ the US State Department agenda of ‘non-descript’ solution to Tamils through Colombo-centric minds, the informed circles further said.
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Meanwhile, responding to orchestrated calls coming from different quarters for Tamils to drop their aspiration for Tamil Eelam and the diaspora to stop talking about it, the President of the Norwegian Council of Eelam Tamils (NCET), Dr Panchakulasingam Kandiah told TamilNet that the NCET as a democratically elected body is bound by its constitution to work for “independence, sovereignty and development of Eezham Tamils in their homeland.”
Citing the relevant parts of the NCET constitution on Thursday, Dr. Kandiah said, “Any alliance that we make at global level are based on goodwill and cannot compromise our Constitution.”
“At the same time, we will be taking part in discussions facilitated by international actors to explore avenues for global initiatives. We will be prepared to present and argue our case from the mandated position of our country council.”
“If there are any viable alternatives that are being proposed by international actors with an international guarantee for implementation, we would present the case to our constituency as we are not mandated to make compromises on our primary mandate,” Dr Kandiah said.
“We would not allow any governmental actor to enforce on us something against the mandate, in the name of development or exploring reforms of the Sri Lankan State,” Dr Kandiah further said.
Last week, speaking at a ‘development’ conference convened by the Oslo University, Norwegian Ambassador to Sri Lanka, Ms Crete Løchen, who was harping on a ‘minority’ outlook for Eezham Tamils and was eulogising the Provincial Council process of the unitary constitution, urged the diaspora to stop talking about Eezham and to get involved in ‘development’.
Dr. Kandiah, representing NCET, was one of the speakers at the development conference.
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Full text of the statement by Dr. Panchakulasingam Kandiah on the NCET stand as well as on the ITI initiative, TNA, TNPF and the 13th Amendment:
One of our three primary objectives as mandated by the Diaspora Eelam Tamils in Norway is enshrined in our constitution as follows:
I quote the Section 2.c of our Constitution, which spells out it clearly:
“Working for independence, sovereignty and development of Eelam Tamils in their homeland:
“The Council shall voice for the formation of the independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eelam in the contiguous north and east of the island of Sri Lanka (North-East) on the basis that the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka constitute a distinct nation, have a traditional homeland, have the right to self-determination and aspire for the formation of independent and sovereign state of Tamil Eelam in their homeland as mandated by the people of the North-East in the General Election of 1977 in the island, and reaffirmed by 98.95 per cent of Eelam Tamils in Norway in the referendum held on 10 May, 2009, which is referred to as The Norwegian Tamil Mandate 2009 (NTM-2009).
“The Council shall work for the recognition and acceptance of Tamil Eelam by the International Community and is determined to guard against any efforts from any quarter prevailing upon Eelam Tamils to surrender their sovereignty.”
Having quoted from out constitution, I would like to reiterate that our constitution is much more clear than any other organization in the diaspora in spelling out and setting forth the necessary checks and balances.
It is our constitution that was taken as the model constitution in creating country councils in other countries.
Some of these country councils are elected by democratic vote, and some claiming to be country councils are non-elected.
As an elected body, we are only answerable to our constituency, which is the Eelam Tamil diaspora in Norway, the people who have elected us. We are not answerable to any other group or bound by any other constitution at global or regional level.
Any alliance that we make at global level is based on goodwill and cannot compromise our Constitution.
This also involves our engagement with the Tamil National Alliance and the Tamil National Peoples Front, the two political formations in the homeland.
The Tamil National Alliance has been strongly advised by us to take a principled approach by 1) not denouncing the popular mandate of Vaddukkoaddai under the 6th Amendment to the unitary constitution of Sri Lanka. 2) not to accept the LLRC as a mechanism to address the accountability of war crimes and crimes against humanity and there must be a clear demand for international investigation 3) Name the genocide as genocide and the structural genocide going on as structural genocide.
Having said that, I also want to categorically state that we would not allow any governmental actor to enforce on us something against the mandate, in the name of development or exploring reforms of the Sri Lankan State.
At the same time, we will be taking part in discussions facilitated by international actors to explore avenues for global initiatives. We will be prepared to present and argue our case from the mandated position of our country council.
If there are any viable alternatives being proposed by international actors with an international guarantee for implementation, we would present the case to our constituency as we are not mandated to make compromises on our primary mandate.
At this juncture, although we don’t endorse any attempt by either Tamil National Alliance or anyone else for that matter, to make the 13th Amendment or the Provincial Council system as a path for political settlement, we would like to see the TNA win the elections for practical purposes. We hope that the TNA would not fail in demonstrating that the provincial council system under the unitary constitution of Sri Lanka is a bankrupt system.
It is regrettable that the TNA representatives who met the visiting High Commissioner of Human Rights Ms Navi Pillay to categorically state what has been going on is Genocide and what is going on is structural genocide against the Tamil nation. We were highly disturbed when Navanetham Pillay said that no one had used the term genocide to her during her visit to North and East.