Opinion » Lead

Updated: April 28, 2012 11:13 IST

Lessons to learn from Geneva

  • Nirupama Subramanian
Comment (56)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

Had Sri Lanka taken steps to implement the 13th amendment, India may never have associated itself with the UNHCR resolution.

As Sri Lanka mulls over last month's United Nations Human Rights Council resolution, it may look back with nostalgia at its 2009 triumph at Geneva. Then, barely a week after its victory over the LTTE, a group of western countries wanted a resolution passed against Sri Lanka for the civilian deaths and other alleged rights violations by the army during the last stages of the operation. With the blood on the battlefield not still dry, Sri Lanka managed to snatch victory from the jaws of diplomatic defeat, with a resolution that praised the government for its humane handling of civilians and asserted faith in its abilities to bring about reconciliation.

But few remember that the resolution contained an important line relating to a commitment by President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The line, in the preamble to the text, is surprising in its detail: “Welcoming also the recent reassurance given by the President of Sri Lanka that he does not regard a military solution as a final solution, as well as his commitment to a political solution with implementation of the thirteenth amendment to bring about lasting peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka”.

First departure

The inclusion of this reference to the 13th amendment may have well been the price Sri Lanka paid for New Delhi's decision to support that resolution, its first departure from the position that it does not vote for country specific resolutions.

Officials familiar with the backroom bargaining over the 2012 resolution say there was a brief moment when Indian negotiators considered amending the text to reflect some elements of the 2009 resolution, including the significant line from its preamble. That would have served two purposes. One, it may have pressed home to Sri Lanka that the U.S.-sponsored resolution was not something that came out of the blue, even as the link with a positive resolution would have made this one seem less dire; two, from the Indian point of view, it could have helped to refocus Sri Lanka's mind on the 13th amendment.

India's constant reminder of this statute irritates Sri Lanka no end. So why does India harp on it? For no other reason than that the 13th amendment remains the only constitutional step ever taken by Sri Lanka towards moving away from a unitary, highly centralised state, to power sharing with the provinces. New Delhi believes if implemented sincerely, it could lead to a solid political peace with the Tamil minority. The amendment came about as a result of the 1987 India-Sri Lanka Accord, and it paved the way for devolution of power. The irony is that the limited devolution envisaged by the amendment flourishes in all other provinces of Sri Lanka, where it has empowered local politicians, but not in the Tamil north or the east at which it was primarily aimed.

In fact, had Sri Lanka shown seriousness about resolving the Tamil question and taken concrete steps to bring political normality to the North and East, India might never have associated itself with the 2012 resolution. The allegations against the Sri Lankan army would not have gone away but efforts by the Sri Lankan government towards a political settlement would have brought India firmly on Sri Lanka's side, and helped it win more friends internationally.

Instead, President Rajapaksa played fast and loose. At times, he declared he was in favour of “13th Amendment plus”, raising hopes he would actually improve on it. At other times, he spoke of 13th amendment “minus” police and land powers; he talked also of a “home grown” solution. As a result, his political position on this issue is unclear, and the parliamentary select committee set up recently is seen by the Tamil leadership, not unsurprisingly, as a delaying tactic. As recently as January 2012, he professed commitment to the 13th amendment to S.M Krishna, only to later deny that he had ever made such a commitment to the Indian minister.

13th amendment

Officials said more than the alleged human rights violations, New Delhi's decision not to vote against the resolution was motivated by the desire to send the message that Sri Lanka must act on devolution commitments, either by implementing the 13th amendment or by using it as the starting point for a substantial political settlement of the Tamil question.

Although coalition politics had some part to play in India's eventual decision to vote with the U.S., negotiators had believed that abstaining would send that message just as well. But even as it considered abstention, India was quite clear that the text had to be amended.

Focussed as Sri Lanka was on efforts to defeat the resolution, it did not foresee that New Delhi would even consider anything other than helping in this. Its first reality check came when New Delhi conveyed to the Sri Lankan foreign office that it was considering proposing amendments to the text of the resolution, and asked for inputs.

Playing on the arithmetic, Sri Lanka has now chosen to count the abstaining countries as “friends” along with those who voted against the resolution. The eight abstentions with the 15 votes against add up to one less than the 24 votes in favour of the resolution.

But the message New Delhi received back then from Colombo was that abstention was not a choice for India. It sent no inputs for the amendments. It is rare for one country to negotiate with another — entirely on its own — to prevent intrusive international intervention in a third country. While it is nice to think this was to protect Sri Lanka, clearly India also had its own interests in mind.

The March 19 announcement by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that he was “inclined” to support the resolution pre-empted the negotiations, and tied Indian hands from proposing radical changes to the text, such as the link to the 2009 resolution. From then on, Indian negotiators focussed on getting the intrusive portions in paragraph 3 amended. The U.S. gave in on the condition that India would definitely vote in support of the resolution.

While India believes it has succeeded in sending out a powerful message to Sri Lanka — and also laying to rest the China bogey — it is not clear if Sri Lanka has yet understood all the implications fully. Both the Sri Lankan state and the Tamil minority have always been vociferous in the demand that India must play a role to resolve the island's ethnic question, but have never been satisfied unless India takes their side unquestioningly and completely. Predictably, in the present situation, neither side is happy — the Sri Lankan state feels betrayed by India, and has chosen to see the amendments as superficial; the Tamils are disappointed that India watered down the resolution.

New Delhi's hope now would be that the Rajapaksa government takes up seriously the issue of a political settlement, even as it implements the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. Despite the amendments to the resolution, the country is undeniably under watch. Sri Lanka must make a presentation to the UNHRC later this year; that will be followed by the Human Rights Commissioner's report at the 22nd session next March. Unless it makes a genuine attempt to reach out to the Tamil political leadership and people, the international community will continue to look unfavourably at it. India would also hope that the Tamil leadership will play a constructive role in helping Sri Lanka, and be able to recognise and separate the possible from the impossible.

The fear, however, is that the Tamil leadership — now beholden more than ever to the extremist mindset of the diaspora that played its part in pushing the 2012 resolution — could end up making radical demands, in turn giving the Sri Lankan polity an excuse to turn down those demands.

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come on Rick!
As siva said, you are trying to rewrite the history.It sounds more like wishful thinking rather than real history .Tamils have been in Eelam for thousands of years just like the Sinhalese.
You are saying Tamils are Indians,yes culturally and linguistically they have close connections with Indian Tamils, but geographically and politically they belong to Sri Lanka.
By the way,according to' Mahavamsa',Prince Vijaya, the ancestor of the Sinhalese community originated from kalinga kingdom in India. if that is true; then Sinhalese are Indians too.Why don't all Sri Lankans, Tamils as well as Sinhalese migrate to India.After all that is the basis for your argument.
Better idea,
why bother to migrate?Why don't we separate Srilanka into 2 states (Tamil Eelam and Sinhala lanka) and annexe these states to India? ,Problem solved.

from:  Arul
Posted on: Apr 14, 2012 at 11:09 IST

@Shiva, the last dynasty of the Sinhala Kingdom was Teleghu not Tamil.

Rewriting history? I think that is what you would like to do.

How can you have a Tamil Kingdom without a Tamil popuation?

1, More than 300 Sinhala Buddhist sites in Jaffna region. These contain written
artifacts, confriming their Sinhala origins and in many cases, which Sinhala king
built them.
2. The Portuguese records indicate a majority Sinhala populace and Sankili's own
treaty with them is written in Sinhala n Portuguese, no Tamil.
3. The Portuguse and the Dutch gives the names of places throughout the North. The
majority are all Sinhala e.g. Kotikawatte, Laddagama. The Dutch map of 1695, shows
85% been Sinhalese.
4. The Brit own admin reports, give details of Tamils been brought over and settled
in NnE. Admin report 1872, detail how entire N Sinhala villages were been
assimilated into Tamil ones and Sinhala people themselves been Tamilized.
5. Agreements with Port, Dutc, Brit were all done with Sinhala King.

from:  Rick
Posted on: Apr 14, 2012 at 02:18 IST

@Rick, You are trying to re-write the history of the Tamils in Eelam. They were there thousands of Years and they were under the Tamil Kingdom. Even the last King of Kandy was a Tamil. Insane thinking!

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Apr 12, 2012 at 20:12 IST

Their is an unbeliable amount of ignorance shown in this comments. The simple
matter is; that Tamils of Lanka are Indians and are a foriegn community. They do not
have the right to demand devolution or any such matter. The British rulers of Ceylon
classed Tamils as Indians, irresceptive of them been Nothern, Eastern or in the tea
estates, till changed by Arunachalam.

The comment, asking they are a minority? Well thats simple the fact they are small
community. Thats not been racist. It is simply stating a fact.
What is this ethinc issue? In 2009 a memeber of the TNA, stated in parliament. That
their issue is, the loss of their priveledged status since Independance. That is not an
racial issue but greed.
Why doesnt anyone on here detail, of the roits from 1950's onwards. How n Who
they were started by?
Many mention the 13th Amendment. Based on a lie of a Tamil Homeland in Lanka.
Forced on Lanka by India. Would India except, such things from another, that is
contray to its history?

from:  Rick
Posted on: Apr 11, 2012 at 03:04 IST

A former US diplomat said that India should have sent its troops to Sri Lanka to kill or capture the LTTE leader Prabakaran after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi as the killing of Rajiv was an attack on India’s status as a regional power despite the IPKF may have committed war crimes in Sri Lanka.

In the book, “China’s Nightmare, America’s Dream: India as the next global power”, the former US diplomat said that if India brought Prabakaran to face trial, it would have sent a clear message to the world, that India would defend its political leaders, political system from intimidation and defend any challengers. India should have had a leader like Mrs. Indra Gandhi to deliver that message to the world.

Poor leadership of Rajiv Gandhi and later by Sonia, “India’s window of opportunity to influence Sri Lanka was lost" as both failed to follow the outstanding leader Mrs. Indra Gandhi who supported the LTTE as the Tamils were oppressed due to the Sinhala Apartheid chauvinism.

from:  Shiva
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012 at 05:37 IST

Leela, I am an North-east Tamil living in Colombo. I will go back to Jaffna once the 13th Amendment is implemented. Like me all of us will return, dont worry, I came to Colombo in 2000 because there was no electricity in Jaffna to study. Still roads to Jaffna are not repaired. When all this is done, I will return.

from:  Sarangan
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 22:24 IST

I am a Sri Lankan woman therby a Sri Lankan.Why does the government refer to me as a minority in this country that declares itself a great democracy.
There are laws for the majority and different laws for the minority.
Under the Tamil kings the homeland of the Tamils did not have a majority and minority.After the British deposed the kings of the south and north they ruled for 150 yrs that had the same laws for every citizen of Sri Lanka.They left after declaring Independence to the country.
Under the Singhala government we TAMILS became a MINORITY.

Does any one on this thread have an explanation as to how I became a Minority ?
If the present climate continues,the minority have the right to say NO WAY am I a minority that cannot enjoy privilges that the Singhalese enjoy.

The governement must stop whipping the hatred.Reconciliation means the old order has to change definitely by the GOSL.Development by building roads,swimming pool's is not the reconciliation the TAMILS want.

from:  rajesrajah
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 19:52 IST

The US sponsored resolution in the UNHRC against Sri Lanka has revealed the
true identity of various nations.
Here the position taken by India is like the heart supporting the Tamils but
the mind in favour of the Sri Lankan govt.
One who tries to please everyone pleases none.
A bold and a concrete step was the need of the hour which was missing from a
lot of nations.
The 13th amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution was assured by President
Rajapaksa to Krishna earlier .
The President is now supposed to keep his word.

from:  Ajit K.Menon
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 15:25 IST

One of the commentator rightly said Sinhala will never allow Tamils to share the power. Nobody can discuss about democracy and ethnic equality with such kind of narrow minded people and it shows very well that sharing powers with them is only on papers till now. On the other hand UN,Indian Govt and Tamils should not ignore the mass killing and its time to focus on viable solution such as separate country for Tamil or to implement 13th Amendment.

from:  Laxman
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 12:35 IST

Even after these many years of violence and bloodshed, the Srilankan government till tries
to blame others for problems that are theirs to solve. Rather than respecting and upholding
the basic rights of fellow citizens, they are try to playing China card on India. Indian human
rights is far better than Srilanka, China, Pakistan or any of the neighboring countries - where
democracy is still a dream.

from:  Senthil Natarajan
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 02:53 IST

One of the commentators above, apparently from the majority community
of SL, asked Indians to keep the hands off Sri Lanka and to mind it's
own business! How can anyone in his right mind suggest that the
"ethnic problem" was created by India! Is he suggesting the majority
community in Srilanka were/are angels? Why did refugees start pouring
into India in the 1980's ? And why on earth are many of them still
staying in TN in refugee camps? and please.. we don't need sarcastic
comments that the SriLankan Tamil refugees belong to TN. There is no
question of saying sorry to anyone, least of all to a people that has
emerged "victorious" after a calculated cold blooded mass murder of
thousands of innocents.

from:  Murali
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 02:24 IST

is there a history of any Jaffna person marrying a boy or girl from
Kandy. Are the tamils from Kandy not our real brothers and sisters. I
know how the people of Jaffna look down upon the up country tamils as
untouchables. Why should be bother about such people who cannot treat
fellow tamils as equals. Let me see if TNA would public announce that
there will be inter marriages between up country and jaffna tamils ...
then I will accept them as our brothers too.

from:  shankar kare
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 01:15 IST

after going through the comments received on the article,i wish to seek the help of the HIndu to solicit article from experts on Sri lankan affairs on the following topics and publish them in the HIndu to create a public opinion to solve the issue amicably to the satisfaction of all concerned.
1.What Sri lanka can do solve the tamil ethinic issue at the present context.
2.What India can do help solve the Tamils ethnic issue in the Island.
3 How tamils in Sri lanka can contribute to soleve the ethnic stirife in the Island Nation.
4.How the the Tamils living abroad can help solve the ethnic problem in Sri lanka.
5.Elicit singalese view on how to build a peaceful and united Sri lanka with the Tamils as equal citizens with all rights.

from:  Sundaram
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 21:29 IST

All of interesting comments but a few I must make a comment on.

To start with what 'Sinniah' has said. Lanka's north has an overwhelming evidences
of Sinhalese archelogical items so do the east. The Portuguese, who arrived in 1505,
have many records to large Sinhalese of Jaffna. In fact even the places given the
Portuguese are in Sinhalese tongue. The treaty by Sankili in Jaffna with the
Portuguese is written in Portuguese and Sinhala NOT Tamil.

The Dutch who arrived after the exist of the Portuguese, again assert the same. A
map of the Jaffna peninsular of 1695. Show around 85% of the towns and villages as
Sinhala e.g. Kotikawatte.

British record, large amount of Tamils arriving during the Dutch periods and in fact
Jaffna town by 1803 had majority populationof Coromandel Muslims. The British gov
agent details tens of thousands brought n settelted into the North and East. In
particular 70000 settled in East. Also 1872 report confirms Nothern Sinhalese
assimilated into Tamils.

from:  Rick
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 21:10 IST

It is deplorable that even THE HINDU turned a blind eye to the slaughter of 40,000 Tamils (according to UN P o E) during the last days of the war .I recall here what David Milli band said "when a democratically elected govt perpetrates the crimes of terrorists than it is worst"
I is paining to say that " my beloved newspaper has lost all its credibility when it comes to the issue of Srilanka "

from:  viswanathan
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 20:52 IST

We deeply regret why still 'The Hindu' is supporting Sri Lanka even after the worst genocide. Please write with human heart; realizing the 40,000 innocent civilians.

from:  Chellathurai
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 20:38 IST

Palitha, since when did the 40% of NE started living in Colombo; it all began with the military occupation of NE, since the departure of IPKF. With the departure of IPKF, Sinhalese armed forces raped young Tamil girls - two of my cousins were victims of this barbaric behaviour,looted and destroyed Tamils' property and Tamils had to flee to the rest of the country and abroad since then. So please, do not even portary a picture that Sinhalese have welcomed them with open arms, gave them free housing and all amenities in Colombo out of kindness and let them live peacefuly. Ask any body diplomats and jounarlists they will tell you how the lodges were raided in Colombo with midnight knock on the door and executed Tamil youths being dumped in the the surburbs of Colombo. Even to this day hundreds of thousands of acres of Tamil lands are occupied by the Armed forces, with the owners langushing in refugee detention centres, whilst no-holds barred Sinhalese colonisation in NE proceeds unchecked

from:  rakavan
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 19:43 IST

Sumanapala, here is something for you to enlighten yourself. Tamils have been in Sri Lanka long before the boat loads of Kalinga Prince Vijaya and his crew were chased off by Vijaya's father for committing all kinds of unsavioury and unsocial activities in Kalinga Kingdom. The archeological findings that has been unearthed to date in Sri Lanka's North & East only proves that buddhists adherents had lived there in the distant past; there was never any evidencial proff that these people were Sinhalese. Large portion of Tamil population of Tamil Nadu have been buddhists - please refer to Manimekalai and Silapathikaram - long before Sinhalese learnt about buddhism. You should also bear in mind that Sri Lanka was a natural land extention of mother India and Tamils spreadout as they normally do, until the erosion of land connection by gelological oceanic activities. If you need proof I suggest you can review the imaging survey carried out by NASA that proves this. N-E is Tamil homeland

from:  rakavan
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 19:26 IST

The confrontations, aggression and violence came only from the Tamil racists, who exploited the issue to drag Jaffna deeper into mono-ethnic extremism. They succeeded in disguising their economic/class interests and promoting it as an act of discrimination against the Tamil-speaking communities. But history records that the language issue was driven aggressively only by the Tamil racists and not by the Tamil-speaking Indians, Muslims or the non-Vellahla Tamils of the east.
The aggression and violence of the Tamil racists proved the Marxian thesis that the ruling class will not give up power without a struggle. And true to the barbaric character of the Tamils they declared war on the rest of the nation by passing the Vadukoddai Resolution in 1976 – the period when Tamil supremacy was in its last legs.

from:  Sivaparan
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 18:48 IST

I regret to state that this article is full of naive views and analysis...come on, author, I had much higher regards to your ability to analyse the issues. In your attempt in vain of portraying a 'balanced' views, the author simply sidelines the decades of peaceful struggle that preceded the violent one, and the 'multi-tongued' visions of Sinhalese leaders one after another...does the author really believes that any of the Sinhalese presidents ever really attempted to find an equitable, justified solution to the Tamil ethnic issue? The author should have developed courage to put facts in perspective.. because there simply can't be a 'balanced view' which is against known facts.....

from:  vadivel
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 15:36 IST

India as the region's leader did not act wisely with regard to its Southern neighbor, whose Sinhala majority was finally coming around to putting behind the horrible injustices inflicted by India's training of the LTTE in the late 1970s which served to start of a 3-decade long traumatic war from which the island finally emerged in 2009. 'Watering down' of the 3rd clause of the Resolution at the behest of India is perceived as a noose. Such is the bitterness against India. The socioeconomic problems of the people cuts across all ethnic communities. But the Tamil 'Diaspora' makes no contribution to rebuild the Tamil areas. The rehabilitation and development work done there has been by the Government and others in Sri Lanka. Diaspora finances are spent instead to buy influence among HR groups and Legislators in the countries that now host them. Why the Tamils abroad do not help their own people considering the vast sums spent on buying influence instead, is a good question to ask.

from:  Mahes
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 15:34 IST

It is true that since 1956 successive Sri Lankan government dishonoured the agreements they reached with the Tamil leadership.However, since 1987 it is the Tamil leadership that broke any agreement they reached with the government without considering the well being of the Tamil speaking people. But the present government will not make any serious effort to solve the long standing ethno political problem in SriLanka.It should be remembered that when Chandrika Kumaranathunga introduced the political package Mahind Rajapaksa was in the forefront to oppose it within the SLFP.Now with JHU and Wimal Weerawansa in his side it is foolish to expect him to put forward a meaningful soultion. Remember his initial proposal was the District Council in 2007! 13th Amendment is the first step towards finding a lasting peace in our country.

from:  Mohanasundaram
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 15:30 IST

'Extreme mindset of diaspora' Well madam. Asking for justice for the killing of 40000 to 100000 civilians (according to various sources) by a democratically elected government might be a minor issue for you ,but others might beg to differ. All lives are equal and precious,even the lives of Srilankan Tamils and the Tamilnadu fisherman. I think,Asking for justice and explanation is not extremism,it is a basic human right. Then I am only a mere mortal who doesn't understand the wheeling and dealing of the international diplomacy and its sheer hypocrisy.

from:  Arul
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 15:29 IST

It is necessary to answer Tharma's question. He want to know how it is possible to solve the problem with devolution when only 6 laks of tamils live in the north and east and millions of Tamils living in Sinhalese areas. It is not the matter of counting how many, but it is a matter of NATIONHOOD Tamils have been populated and administered in this north and east for long as Sinhalese in theirs. Please read history at least what was the situation when Portuguese landed first in 1505. Another point is Tamils claim only the north and east as their homeland where they lived peacefully till independence! The Tamils living in sinhala areas are mostly obviously brought from India by Britishers and they do not claim any right of land being in constant fear working HARD for srilanka without any guarantee of their life even though their mother land so called INDIA unaware of any difficulties they encounter as TAMILS.

from:  Sinniah
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 15:02 IST

But Mr. JK Dutta, Indian Armed Forces are not slaughtering civilians in Kashmir. Wheres as in Sri Lanka it is a genocide of the Tamil People. First Understand this fact.

from:  Mariappan Subramaniam
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 15:01 IST

India can hope that the Rajapaksa government takes up seriously the
issue of a political settlement and do some substantial homework and
further implements the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission
recommendations. The country is undeniably under watch of the
International Community and there will be enough follow up for
tracking the actions taken in the direction of devolution of power to
the provinces. Unless and until the Sri Lankan government makes a
genuine attempt to reach out to the Tamil political leadership and
people, the international community will continue gear pressure which
may increase overtime if no action is taken. India can try to make
sure that the Tamil leadership play an important and constructive role
in helping Sri Lanka. The government should take up reforms on its own
rather than under the pressure of the international community for the
benefit of the nation and all ethnic and lingual groups. The government cannot deny the plurality of society there.

from:  Shashikant Nishant Sharma
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 11:30 IST

1. There has been over 16 invasions to Sri Lanka from South India recorded in the history. 2. Sri Lanka is a country too small for power to be devolved unlike India. 3. 13th Amendment was forced on Sri Lanka under duress by India, it is not suitable for Sri Lanka and a not solution which Sri lankan people designed or wanted. 4. Tamil tigers were nurtured, trained and armed by India in the 1980's. 5.Power and every right is shared equally among all Sri lankas irrespective of their ethnicity, there is not a single rule or clause in Sri Lankan constitution that give one ethnic group more rights that others.

from:  Kusal
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 06:30 IST

Judging by many Sinhalese comments here, I am forced to assume that
there has been a mass propaganda and misinformation in the Sri Lankan
media. Looking at the ground realities, the least that can be done about
this situation is for Sri Lanka to implement the 13th Amendment instead
of riling up misinformed sentiments. This is the only way for having an
ever lasting peace in the island. Only after achieving a political
solution, will the country move forward to make strides in economic and
social situations. If people think status quo can prevail, they are only
doing the same mistakes as their yesteryear politicians who brought out
this entire mess.

from:  Girish Venkatesh
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 01:13 IST

It is quite clear to any intelligent person that India supported the Geneva resolution not just because the Sri Lanka Government did not Implement the 13+ , but mostly because the Indian government did not like being led up the garden path all the time.When Krishna was snubbed , it was quite clear to India , that the Rajapakse Regime was hoodwinking India.In fact , reliable sources are wagging that it is India who encouraged the US to Initiate the Resolution in the First place.This falls in line with the Visit of Hilary Clinton to Tamilnadu to meet Jeyalalitha. But apparently Sri Lanka has yet not learned a lesson.Indian Traders are being arrested , Indian Visitors are being harrassed at the Airport, and a masive Tax has been slammed on Indian Vehicles.Is India going to keep quiet ? I dont think so.

from:  Sampath Senadheera
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 23:12 IST

The reporters and news print editors, who write these days, have had no personal experience of sufferings of the Tamils under the hands of successive democratically elected presidents,cabinet ministers and Sinhala MPs of Sri lanka. I as a person, who lived through the Sri Lankan rule in the 60's and 70's in the north, have many sad memories. Those Tamils, who experienced heartache in the 80's, 90's and in the new millennium, would tell different stories regarding the circumstances of killings of over 100,000 Tamils in North-East of the island. Because of the experience endured over many years, I have no hope in Sinhala leaders deliver an acceptable political solution to the Tamils. We have had enough. The time has come for the international community to act decisively in the interest of a peaceful island.

from:  V Kumar
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 21:39 IST

The reporters and new print editors who write these days have had no personal experience of suffering under the hands successive demoratically elected presidents and cabinet minsters and Sinhala MPS of Sri lanka. I as a person, who lived through the Sri Lankan rule in the 60's and 70's in the north, have many sad memories. Those Tamils who experienced heartache in the 80's, 90's and in the new millennium would tell different stories regarding the circumstances of killing of over 100,000 Tamils in North-East of the island. I have no hope in Sinhala leaders deliver a peaceful political solution to the Tamils. We have had enough. The time has come for the international community to act decisively in the interest of a peaceful island.

from:  V Kumar
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 20:43 IST

This problem has a very long history. It became very difficult to solve after the racial riots of 1957 or so, in which the Tamils faced virtual 'ethnic cleansing'. It was these riots that persuaded the vast majority of Ceylonese of Indian ethnicity to support LTTE -- particularly because of the total indifference of the Indian Union government and the State govt of Tamil Nadu. This callous indifference is more or less continuing, and Rajiv Gandhi's govt did not make use of the opportunity of coming to the aid of the ethnic Tamils. There will be no solution unless the Sri Lanka govt and ethnic lankans have a change of heart -- very unlikely.

from:  Uddharet
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 20:14 IST

The Sri Lankan government seems to have learned nothing from its long war with the LTTE. It is creating the conditions for the rise of another Tamil opposition movement that could be even more formidable than what it recently destroyed. Sri Lanka needs enlightened leadership, and so does India for that matter. Parochial Sinhalese politicians have been given a free ride by India for far too long. When refugees pour into India, they are rightly provided humanitarian assistance by India, but there is hardly any consequence for the Sri Lankan leadership. I am glad that India at least supported the UN resolution. It would have been better if India had taken the lead from the inception, instead of merely becoming in follower.

from:  CS Venkat
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 20:10 IST

If you indians keep your hands off Sri Lanka and mind your own business there would never have been a so called "ethnic problem". You trained and provided weapons to a group of terorists that finally bit you and also detroyed Sri Lanka. The least you indians can do is pay Sri Lanka for all the damage you caused and say "SORRY".

from:  ari ariyaratne
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 18:57 IST

Sundaram is at the point!

The changing world order will need IT.

Nobody can stop it!

It is beyond personnal leadersship.

from:  Sinniah
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 18:54 IST

Ms. Subramanian has not understood the problems with the 13th Amendment which was foisted on Sri Lanka by India and the country never given the right of Referendum through a sleight of hand of the Supreme Court.
This injustice to the sovereign people of Sri Lanka is in the minds of Sri Lankans who hold India responsible for this trickery that seems to continue. It is a shame that India does not try to get the support of the Sri Lankan people, instead of currying favor with the Tamil minority who are fast turning out to be a real burden for India's stability and security as well, with threats of secession from Tamil Nadu in much the same way as the TNA (LTTE proxy) in Sri Lanka.

from:  Mahes
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 18:04 IST

13th ammendment is the least expected solution from Srilanka, in order
to avoid resurface of millitancy once again; while lakhs of Tamils have
laid down their lives as martyrs, that shall not go in vain! SriLanka
should intraspect to come in terms with Tamils and settle differences
once for all! Otherwise, the economic survival of Srilanka will be in

from:  Ajaathasathru
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 17:40 IST

If any Tamil thinks India(read the central government)supported the
resolution in a genuine concern for the Tamils, who are suffering at
the hands of Sinhalese in Srilanka then you are dreaming. Please wake
up. It is in India's interest to have some semblance of peace in
Srilanka. If Tamils across the strait suffer obviously the Tamils(it
includes the present political class) of the mainland would be restive
and they would realize its better to believe in themselves rather than
in a stranger. The Indian government do not want the Tamils to have
this self realization.

from:  siva fernandez
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 17:37 IST

The majority Sinhalese will never allow Tamils to share the power. - You will see the monks (yeah, the non-ant killing buddhist monks), let alone the average Sinhalese people, on the streets fighting against treating Tamils as equals and sharing powers with them. As one commentator mentioned above, the LTTE understood the SL govts more than any body else, and it should not come as a surprise, because they are the local boys and girls unlike us, the Hindu reporters and the Indians in general. There are are only two possible solutions in my view. 1. Complete the genocide on Tamils. 2. Carve them out a separate country, Bangaladesh style. The Rajapakses are naturally focused on the first solution (no wonder he is popular amongst the Sinhalese), and the Tamils are focused on the second solution ((no wonder the LTTE was popular amongst the Tamils). We foreigners want some thing in between, but that will not be practical. The Soution# 2 is much decent comparing to #1.

from:  Sam
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 16:51 IST

"extremist mindset of the diaspora" - After so much suffering they underwent they are taking a determined stand against the SL. This is seen by this reporter as extermist. Please better stop misreporting and supporting SL which you have done wonderfully well all these years!!

Hindu has lost all its credibility when it comes to reporting SL issue. Every TRUE Tamilian knows this. Don’t try too hard to show us you are unbiased!

from:  Venki
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 15:53 IST

India need to sharpen its diplomacy. ..Rajapaksa has his own agenda and made it known and public.Singalese should decide whether they can coexist with their fellow citizens-Tamils with equal rights-irrespective of 13th amendment alive or dead.Singla politicians can no more torture the Tamils in their own society..Honest dealings only yield honest results. Srilankan ruling politicians should not persist in persecuting the Tamils and should conduct themselves fairly and justly as good Budhists.World to come to the rescue of the Tamils,if India efforts failed.Sri lanka should not push the issue to that extent.Any further delay to find solution,it will result in Congo or Rwanda situation happening in Indian Ocean region.

from:  Sundaram
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 15:53 IST

Does the Sri Lankan government need to transfer powers to North and East than the provincial councils? If the government does it, what would happen to Tamils living in Central and Western provinces of Sri Lanka including Colombo? Are they going back to North and East? Every body knows that majority of people in North and East are not asking devolution of powers, what they are asking is good economy, good education and peaceful living. This whole thing is done by a group of people who are supported by internal and external extremist elements. What the Sri Lankan government should do is bring strong legislations to stop this destructive process.

from:  Divya Amirthalingum
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 15:50 IST

The author has clearly stated the circumstances that lead India to
vote against Srilanka. The Srilankan state should take the first step towards putting an end to the Tamil problem. Why not it start with the 13th amendment? and make changes viable to the present political situation in the country. It's because India voted against Srilanka, Rajapakse should not think that Indians are enemy of his country. He should not forget the support India rendered him to eradicate terrorism in his country. If he decides to shunt India and make friends with the countries supported him at the UN resolution, then he's making a enormous political error.

from:  Asokan Suppiah
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 14:46 IST

Talking about devolution of power, nearly 40 percent Tamils live and work in Colombo
district, hill country and rest of districts Tamils enjoy equal rights. Colombo schools have well
established Tamil medium education systems. There are dedicated Tamil only schools in
Most of highly qualified, rich Tamil diaspora throughout the world had free education from
There is not a single Sinhalese teaching in Nothern or eastern districts. Sinhalese are by law
not allowed to buy property in Jaffna district.
Similarly no Sinhalese ln India. Most of your comments against Srilanka unproductive and
biased and not helpful.

from:  Palitha
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 13:05 IST

The recent census shows, there are approximately 6lakhs Tamils living in
North and East. Another two million Tamils live outside, in the South
among the so called racist Singhalese. If this is supposed to be a
problem of the Tamils, just tell me how devolution of power to North and
East is going to solve the problems of the balance two million.

from:  Wasantha Wijewardane
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 12:50 IST

It is shame on India that even after 24 years it could not implement the Rajiv-JR pact for which Tamils lost over 8,000 innocent people, over 3500 Tamil women's dignity, over 100,000 houses....

from:  Tharma
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 12:17 IST

Why was such an UN Commission not set up when India massacred 5000 innocent and helpless Sikhs and 2000 Muslims in 1984 and 2002 respectively? If we can dictate terms to Sri Lanka on what is purely an internal matter of that country, surely the latter can dictate similarly to us on Kashmir? Our biggest syndrome, something started by Nehru, is we consider ourselves to be the world's conscience keeper where we can criticise any one but none dare criticize us!

from:  JK Dutt
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 11:04 IST

Krishnan Natarajan, Being majority of Sinhalese population live in Sri Lanka, it is not necessary to split Sri Lanka. As you know sinhalese people have been battered over various invasions throughout the history. Being India a big country, as Sinhalaese we do not understand why tamil people cannot do it in India if they are so obsessed splitting a country? Tamil people have a place to go, sinhalaese people have no place to go. This is why we faught 30 year war, and the war seems to have not ended that international pressure is so strong that they try to put Sri Lanka in a bad position. As sinhaelse people, we assure that we will live strong regardless of whatever pressure that internationally they bring.

from:  Sumanapala
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 10:22 IST

It is unfortunate that UNHCR is not openly think about Sri Lanka. It is clear that other countries mainly United States so much interested human rights issue regarding Sri Lanka is a strictly a political stunt they try to pull out because of Sri Lanka and Iran close ties. UNHCR never questioned about anything regarding Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Pakistan that human rights violations during the United States presence. Big countries seems always escape on problems while pointing fingers at little countries. India is scared of its people and that is why they voted against Sri Lanka. If we recall that Prbabakaran, leader of LTTE originated and he was trained in India although he ended up in Sri Lanka. India could have remain unvoted in this UNHCR issue. So I think big countries has lot to do on their behalf for themselves before consider small countries to take actions. UNHCR also must understand that LTTE cells exists around the world that they keep try to dismantal Sri Lankan government.

from:  Sumanapala
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 10:12 IST

Leela, the columnist is a lady - if you cant understand that, I
question your ability in intellectual thinking. In terms of your
point, the Sinhalas have always used two cards to hoodwink India.
China and Rajiv. Tell me, who tried to kill Rajiv in 1987, and WHAT
PUNISHMENT have you given to that Sinhala Soldier? What if he had
succeeded? That soldier was GRANTED AMNESTY by a sinhala president,
and even contested election later. Why should India support the KITH
AND KIN of that soldier, as you say, who murdered 40,000 innocent
civilians besides? India finally is beginning to understand that
Sinhalese are an ungrateful lot and they will reap everything from
India and go over to China anyway. Sikhs murdered Indira gandhi, yet a
Sikh is now prime minister of India. It is not in the strategic
interests of India to remain negative towards Tamils, who are their
natural allies. Just yesterday, the statue of Mahadhma Gandhi was
beheaded by Sinhalese in Lanka. Can you deny it? Do not fool us

from:  Kumar David
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 10:12 IST

She mentioned that India had its own interest in mind.Besides to this,has its own agenda too.Tamils trust Sri lanka,its president,as he is open and public about his intention and prove his intentions by his action.But India is yet to prove his intention. Never proved its intention by action.Of course indian diplomacy failed in Sri lanka.Ultimately the Singalese will be the loosers.They should choose whether they are prepared to take Tamils as their fellow citizens with equal rights.Else they should allow them to go free.They can not subjugate them for ever and torture them..It is time that Sri lanka should read the writings on the Wall.The West has a better understanding of the tamils problem in Sri lanka than India.That is the reason why the problem is dragging and elusive for a solution.To me,Sri lanka should remain united and live in peace with all its citizens.

from:  B.Kammalan
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 10:10 IST

With regard to 13th amendment, this has been forced down by the Indian leaders! It is not suitable to Sri Lanka as it is a very small country unlike India. While most Indians assume that what work in India will work in Sri Lanka. Some of the provinces in Sri Lanka are unable to stand on their own due to the diverse resources each province has. The country should never be ethnically demarcated.

from:  Ruwan
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 09:28 IST

Of over 250 recommendations by LLRC the one that list under 9.164
says; “A decision has to be taken on compensatory relief for death
and injury for those involved with the LTTE. From the broad
reconciliatory perspective, the Commission takes the view that in
principle, ex-combatants and next of kin should also be considered
eligible for compensatory relief. However, the priority of REPPIA
should be with the affected civilians who are most in need. Sri
Lanka has to pay compensation for the dead and maimed LTTE cadres
who fought for cause.” And that is just one in that type. Tell us
mister Hindu reporter; are we to pay for the kith and kin of all
those conspirators that planned to blast Rajiv Gandhi to pieces as

from:  Leela
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 07:27 IST

Very well written analysis of the situation. One thing that I would like to highlight is this. what has the Sri Lankan government done to gain the confidence of the Tamils in their country? The Tamils had to spill their blood to gain even the most trivial rights. There is absolutely no voice that speaks in moderation. If there is such a voice, no third country will ever have to intervene. Even now the Rajapakse government is hoping that if they subjugate militarily the Tamils, they can control them forever. This behavior makes one believe that LTTE understood this government better than anybody else.

from:  Karthik
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 06:38 IST

Did the Sri Lankan (call it, Sinhala) polity ever care to consider
favourably even the reasonable -not radical- demands made by moderate leaders since Thanthai Chelva's time? What happened to the Banda-Chelva pact(!957), Dudley-Chelva pact (1965), Indo-Sri Lanka agreement (1987)?. Enlighten yourself on contemporary history before offering gratuitous advice to Tamils, which Hindu columnists are prone to do. Don't forget that Hindu has a sordid history of supporting the slaughter of Tamils in Vanni.

from:  Karikalan Saravana
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 04:02 IST

I do not see any possibility of Srilanka Government changing its stand in respect of
devolution of powers to Northern and Eastern provinces. The Singalese opposition parties
and the Buddhist clergywill simply not allow this to happen. The only option left for India is to
adopt a hard line position in respect genuine devolution of power to Tamil minorities in
Eastern and Northern Provinces. This alone will improve the situation in Sri Lanka.
Government of India's view that Chinese will have a firm foothold in Srilanka is a misplaced
notion and stems from a "alarmist attitude".

from:  Krishnan Natarajan
Posted on: Apr 7, 2012 at 01:57 IST
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