தமிழ்த் தேசியம்

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."

- Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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HomeTamils - a Trans State Nation > Conflict Resolution > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution: Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka >  Bandaranaike - Chelvanayakam Pact, 1957 > Tarzie Vittachi on Abrogation of B-C Pact > Dudley Senanayake - Chelvanayakam Agreement, 1965 > District Councils, 1968 > District Development Councils, 1979 > Annexure "C" Proposals, 1983> All Party Conference, 1983/84  >Thimpu Talks, 1985 > Indo Sri Lanka Working Paper, 1985 > "December 19th Proposals", 1986 > Exchange of Letters between India & Sri Lanka, 1987 > Indo Sri Lanka Agreement, 1987 > 13th Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution - Devolution or Comic Opera?, 1988 > Sri Lanka/LTTE Talks 1989/90 > Select Committee - Interim Report,1992 > Chandrika - LTTE Talks: 1994/95 > Chandrika's 'Devolution' Proposals:1995/2001 > Norwegian Conflict Resolution Initiative - 2001 todate. 

CONTENTS
OF THIS SECTION

Last updated
12/11/07

1957 to 1982

Bandaranaike - Chelvanayakam Pact, 1957
Tarzie Vittachi on Abrogation of B-C Pact, 1958
Dudley Senanayake - Chelvanayakam Agreement, 1965
District Councils White Paper, 1968
Satchi Ponnambalam on the Withdrawal of  1968 District Councils White Paper
Constitution of Sri Lanka, 1978
District Development Councils, 1979

1983 to 1987

Parthasarathy's Annexure "C" Proposals, 1983

All Party Conference, 1983/84

Netherlands Institute of Human Rights - Consultation - Utrecht, 1-3 February 1985

Thimpu Talks,
July-August 1985

We, too, are a people, Nadesan Satyendra

Tamil Eelam, Kurds & Bhutan, Nadesan Satyendra, 1985

Thimpu Declaration, Nadesan Satyendra

Indo Sri Lanka Working Paper, September 1985
The 1986 "December 19th Proposals"
Exchange of Letters between India & Sri Lanka - February 1987

Indo Sri Lanka Agreement & Annexures , July 1987

Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka & Regional Security - Kumari Jayawardene, October /November 1987
13th Amendment to Sri Lanka Constitution - Devolution or Comic Opera?, Nadesan Satyendra, 1988

1989 - 1994

Sri Lanka/LTTE Talks: 1989/90

Excerpt from Nadesan Satyendra interview by Peter Mares, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 3 November 1990
Peace Talks & External Mediation - Nadesan Satyendra, 1990
Mangala Moonesinghe Select Committee - Interim Report 1992

Sri Lanka Parliamentary Select Committee Farce, 1993

Alternative Solutions to the Conflict - Professor Marshall Singer, 1992
International Federation of Tamils - 'Towards a Just Peace' - UK 1992
Capacity of Tamil Eelam to Conclude Peace Treaty, Law Group, International Federation of Tamils, 1992
Nobel Laureates Peace Plan - 1993
The Tactics of Jeff and Mutt, 1994
Power and Principle, 1994

1994 to 2001

Chandrika - LTTE Talks: 1994/95

Chandrika's Devolution Proposals: 1995/2001

Towards a Just Peace or just a peace offensive? 1994
Sinhala chauvinism bears its fangs 1994
The Chandrika - LTTE Talks, Satchitanandan Sathananthan, 1995
Australasian Federation of Tamils - 'Peace with Justice' - 1996
US South Asia Conference - 'Active Alleviation of Human Suffering' -  1996
Criteria for Solution, Viswanathan Rudrakumaran, 1996
Negotiating Peace - Lessons from Sri Lanka Peace Process,  - International Alert Conference, 1997
1997 Draft Constitution - Whither Devolution of Power?, Satchitanandan Sathananthan 1997
Accord: An International Review of Peace Initiatives - Special Edition on Sri Lanka, Elizabeth Nissan et al. August 1998
From Operation Leap Forward to Pon Sivapalan : Death of a Strategy, Satchitanandan Sathananthan 1998
Bi-Partisanship - the Second Big Lie, Satchitanandan Sathananthan, 1999
Academic Society of Tamil Students Carleton University - Search for Peace, May 1999
New Directions in Federalism - G.L.Peiris, 1999
A Question of Peace, Nadesan Satyendra, 1999
The Need for Third Party Conflict Resolution in the Island of Sri Lanka,  Viswanathan Rudrakumaran, 1999
Elections & Mediation - Satchitanandan Sathananthan 1999
'Peace Process' - End of an Illusion, Satchitanandan Sathananthan, 2000
United States Institute for Peace: Private Peacemaking - Sri Lanka Project  "...Under the direction of Donna Hicks and William Weisberg, the Sri Lanka Project began by convening, in collaboration with the American Friends Service Committee, problem-solving workshops with expatriate Tamils, Sinhalese, and Muslims based in the United States..."
President Chandrika Kumaratunga Speech on Sri Lanka Constitution Bill, 2000
Sri Lanka - Tamil Eelam: Getting to Yes, Nadesan Satyendra, 1999, 2000
What's the Solution? Nadesan Satyendra,  2000
Minister Kadirgamar's Baby Talk, Nadesan Satyendra,  2000
Netherlands & Sri Lanka - Dutch Interventions - Frerk, 2000

Reflecting on Peace Practice Project - Sri Lanka Case Study, 2000

Addressing the conflict in Sri Lanka - Reflecting on Peace Practise Project, October 2000 "This case study is one of 26 cases developed as part of the Reflecting on Peace Practice Project (RPP). The RPP cases were not written as evaluations; rather, they were written to allow for the identification of cross-cutting issues and themes across the range of cases. Each case represents the views and perspectives of a variety of people.the case writer, agencies, project participants, and observers.at the point it was written..."
Truth & President Kumaratunga, 2001
The Peace 'Soap Opera',Satchitanandan Sathananthan 2001
Lessons of Ceasefire, Satchitanandan Sathananthan 2001

Guatemala & Sri Lanka, Avis Sri Jayantha, November 2001

The Singer Error, 2001

Sinhala-ness and Sinhala Nationalism, Michael Roberts, 2001

Assessing Peace: An Inter-ethnic and Inter-religious Grassroots Approach to Peace Building in Sri Lanka, Sweden, 2002
The Fight for Survival - the Tamil Perception, Viswanathan Rudrakumaran, July 2002

Sudan Peace Accord & Sri Lanka, Adrian Wijemanne, July 2002

Bougainville & Sri Lanka, Raveen S.Nathan, December 2002

European Community Conflict Assessment Mission, August 2002  "...An understanding of the conflict in Sri Lank requires insight into a complex structure of inter-linking factors. These factors are the origin and character of the Sri Lankan State, the issue of defining the political status of the Tamil people living predominantly in the North-East, and the problem of reconciling mutually exclusive claims to nationhood and statehood. There have been four major efforts to arrive at a negotiated political settlement, which have collapsed and led to more intense and destructive violence..."

2001 - todate

Norwegian Conflict Resolution Initiative - 2001 to 2006

All Party Representative Committee Farce - 2006/2007 "When formed in June 2006, the APRC was tasked to produce a report before the expected peace talks between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka in the last week of October. When the 17-member panel of "Legal/Constitutional Experts" finally 'completed' its task, there were four separate, competing reports."
Centre for Just Peace & Democracy - Envisioning New Trajectories for Peace in Sri Lanka, 2006
Sri Lanka - Tamil Eelam: Getting to Yes, 26 October 2006
Sri Lanka Experts Panel Report, December 2006
Muna Tirunavukkaracu, K.Ravi  Nilavaram Interview Conflict Resolution & the Contribution of Anton Balasingham, 17 December 2006
A Damnable Dependent Relationship - Sanmuga Suntharam, 22 December 2006

Ethno-Nationalist Demands as Contemporary Phenomenon: Structural Challenges for Modern Constitutions - Professor Thomas Fleiner, 26 February 2007

Weakening the LTTE before talks: a myth
Dinesh D. Dodamgoda

in the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Morning Leader, 30 May 2007

LTTE Yogi on the Current Political Situation  - Audio/Video Presentation, 7 May 2007

The Limits of State Sovereignty: The Responsibility to Protect in the 21st Century - Gareth Evans, 29 July 2007

Why a Federal Set up is infeasible (in the Island of Lanka) - Suntharam, 18 September 2007

Sinhala Buddhist Nationalist Ideology: Implications for Politics and Conflict Resolution in Sri Lanka - Neil Devotta, East West Centre, Washington Publication, 2007

Sri Lanka: Sinhala Nationalism and the Elusive Southern Consensus - International Crisis Group -
Asia Report N141 – 7 November 2007

Related Institutions

Centre for Just Peace & Democracy

European Initiative for a Negotiated Peace in Sri Lanka - in English, Deutsch, French & Portuguese
Centre for Policy Alternatives, Sri Lanka
Incore - Sri Lanka

International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Colombo 

CONFLICT RESOLUTION
TAMIL EELAM - SRI LANKA

A Record of Broken Pacts & Evasive Proposals

1957 to 1982 - 1983 to 1987 - 1989 to 1994 - 1994 to 2001 - 2001 todate

Nadesan Satyendra

Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism has been institutionalised in Sri Lanka and today it has become more powerful than the politicians themselves. Indeed even if the Sinhala politicians seek to settle the conflict, Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism may try to prevent such a settlement. This is the political reality that those who are aware of the Sri Lankan situation are well aware of. This is the result of the grievous error committed by Sinhala politicians. In 1956 for the first time this 'communalism' was openly put forward for electoral gain. This Sinhala chauvinism which was nurtured by Sinhala politicians for their electoral advantage, has grown into a Frankenstein monster which now has the power to destroy and make politicians. This we understand very well..." Sathasivam Krishnakumar, June, 1991

Introduction...
1928 Donoughmore Commission proposal for Provincial Councils...
1957 Bandaranaike- Chelvanayakam Pact for direct election to Regional Councils...
1965 Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Agreement for District Councils...
1970 Proposals by the Tamil Federal Party rejected by Sri Lanka...
1979 Presidential Commission to report on creation of District Development Councils...
1983 Annexure C Proposals & All party Conference..
1985 Thimpu Talks...
1986 "19 December" Proposals...
1987 Indo Sri Lanka Peace Agreement..
1989/90 Premadasa Talks...
1992/93 Parliamentary Select Committee Reports...
1994 Peace Trap by Chandrika Government...
1995 Devolution Package...
The golden thread...


up Introduction...

The record shows that during the past fifty years and more, the Tamil people in the island of Sri Lanka have been subjected to an ever widening and deepening  oppression by successive Sinhala dominated governments. Simultaneous with this process, the record also shows that the dominant Sinhala majority has broken pacts and dishonoured agreements entered into with the Tamil political leadership.

Furthermore, the 'proposals' placed by the Sri Lanka government, from time to time, for the resolution of the conflict have consistently evaded the central issue of the recognition of the Tamil people, as a people with a homeland. They have, instead, adopted an assimilative approach, directed to absorb the Tamil people into a Sinhala Buddhist Sri Lanka.

Professor Marshall Singer was right to point out in 1995 that...

"...One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government - regardless of which party was in power - the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much. In almost every case - sometimes within days - the party in power backed down on the agreement..." - (Professor Marshall Singer, at US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995)

And so too was Neil Devotta in 2005...

"...Beginning in the mid-1950s Sri Lanka's politicians from the majority Sinhalese community resorted to ethnic outbidding as a means to attain power and in doing so systematically marginalised the country's minority Tamils...parties in power seek to promote dubious conflict resolution only to be checkmated by the respective opposition which typically claims that the proposed solutions are bound to eventually dismember the island"  Neil Devotta in From ethnic outbidding to ethnic conflict: the institutional bases for Sri Lanka's separatist war, 2005


up 1928 Donoughmore Commission proposal for Provincial Councils...

Even before Sri Lanka became independent (1948) and as early as 1928, the Donoughmore Commission recommended the establishment of Provincial Councils on the ground that it was desirable that a large part of the administrative work of the centre should come into the hands of persons resident in the districts and thus more directly in contact with the needs of the area.

Twelve years later the Executive Committee of Local Administration chaired by the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, considered the proposal of the Donoughmore Commission and in 1940, the State Council (the legislature) approved the establishment of Provincial Councils.In 1947, on the floor of the House of Representatives, the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike again declared his support for the establishment of Provincial Councils.

In 1955, the Choksy Commission recommended the establishment of Regional Councils to take over the functions that were exercised by the Kacheries and in May 1957, the government of the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike presented a draft of the proposed Bill for the establishment of Regional Councils.


up 1957 Bandaranaike- Chelvanayakam Pact for direct election to Regional Councils...

Subsequently, in July 1957, the Bandaranaike- Chelvanayakam Pact made provision for direct election to Regional Councils and also provided that the subjects covered by Regional Councils shall include agriculture, cooperatives, lands and land development, colonisation and education. The Pact however did not survive the opposition of sections of the Sinhala community led by Buddhist priests and which included the opposition Sinhala United National Party led by J.R.Jayawardene (who twenty years later, in 1977 became Sri Lanka's first executive President).

At the General Elections in March 1960 (after the death of Mr.S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike) neither of the two Sinhala dominated parties, the S.L.F.P. nor the U.N.P. won an overall majority in Parliament. The Federal Party submitted to both the S.L.F.P. and the U.N.P. a statement of minimum demands. The U.N.P. did not refer to these demands in the Throne Speech, the Federal Party voted against the Throne Speech, the government was defeated and fresh elections were called.

At the subsequent elections in July 1960, the Federal Party supported the S.L.F.P. (led this time by Mrs.Srimavo Bandaranaike) on the basis of the S.L.F.P. pledge to implement measures on the lines of the 1957 Bandaranaike-Chelvanayakam Pact. But the S.L.F.P. won the General Elections with an overall majority and did not implement the agreement.

In July 1963, the government of Mrs. Bandaranaike declared that 'early consideration' would be given to the question of the establishment of District Councils to replace the Kacheries and the government appointed a Committee on District Councils and the report of this Committee containing a draft of the proposed Bill to establish District Councils was published but again nothing was in fact done.


up 1965 Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Agreement for District Councils...

After the 1965 General Elections, a pact was negotiated to secure the support of the Federal Party for the formation of a U.N.P.government led by Dudley Senanayake. Following upon the 1965 Dudley Senanayake-Chelvanayakam Agreement, the UNP government declared that it would give 'earnest consideration' to the establishment of District Councils and in 1968 a draft Bill approved by the Dudley Senanayake Cabinet was presented as a White Paper and this Bill provided for the establishment of District Councils.

This time round, the opposition to the Bill was spearheaded by the Sri Lanka Freedom Party which professed to follow the policies of the late S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike who himself had in 1940, 1947 and again in 1957, supported the establishment of Provincial/Regional Councils. In view of the opposition, the Dudley Senanayake government withdrew the District Councils Bill in July 1968 and the Federal Party then withdrew from the government.


up 1970 Proposals by the Tamil Federal Party rejected by Sri Lanka...

After yet another General Election in 1970, which was won by a large majority by the S.L.F.P. led by Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike, a Constituent Assembly was established to enact an authochnous constitution. The Federal Party submitted proposals to the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs for:

1. A federal form of government with an autonomous Tamil state, an autonomous Muslim state and three autonomous Sinhala states;
2. Tamil Language Regulation 1966 to be incorporated into the constitution;
3. Mother tongue to be the compulsory medium of instruction for all Tamil children

The Federal Party withdrew from the Constituent Assembly in June 1971, after its proposed amendment on parity of status for the Tamil and Sinhala languages was defeated. The Constituent Assembly passed the new Constitution (which gave Ceylon the Sinhala name 'Sri Lanka' and gave a dominant Constitutional role for Buddhism) on 22 May 1972. The Federal Party parliamentarians boycotted the meeting.


up 1979 Presidential Commission to inquire and report on the creation of District Development Councils...

In August 1979, Sri Lanka President J.R.Jayawardene appointed a Presidential Commission to inquire and report on the creation of District Development Councils. The Commission included, Mr.Neelan Thiruchelvam and Professor Alfred Jeyaratnam Wilson who both had the support of the Tamil United Liberation Front.

But though the Presidential Commission had been touted as a body which would address the issues arising from the ethnic conflict, in the event, the Commission concluded that the scheme that they had envisaged "would be applicable to all of the 24 districts in the Island irrespective of their ethnic composition" and was "not intended to provide a different political or administrative structure for any particular part of the country."


up 1983 Annexure C Proposals & All Party Conference

Subsequent to Genocide'83 and the death of thousands of Tamils at the hands of Sinhala mobs in July/August 1983, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sent her representative, Mr.G.Parthasarathy for discussions with Sri Lanka and with the Tamil United Liberation Front.

As a result of Mr. Parthasarthy's discussions, a set of proposals were formulated. The Sri Lanka Government agreed to convene an All Party Conference to consider these proposals. The proposals were submitted as an annexure to a statement submitted by President Jayawardene to the All Party Conference and came to be known as Annexure "C" proposals..

But though President Jayewardene had agreed in discussions with Mr.Parthasarathy that these proposals would form the basis of negotiations, the Government of Sri Lanka failed to adopt these Proposals at the All Party Conference discussions which commenced in January 1984.

The All Party Conference dragged on till December 1984, when the Jayewardene Government presented proposals in the form of a draft 10th Amendment to the Constitution and a draft District and Provincial Councils Development Bill. The Sri Lanka proposals merely extended the scheme of decentralization at District level to the Provincial level with limited co-ordination. The TULF rejected these proposals and the All Party Conference collapsed.


up 1985 Thimpu Talks...

In July and August 1985 the leaders of the Tamil armed resistance, together with the Tamil United Liberation Front participated in talks with the Sri Lanka government. The talks, sponsored by India, were held in Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan with a view to resolving the conflict.

At the Thimpu Talks, the Sri Lankan Government presented proposals, which were in substance, a repetition of the proposals by the Government to the aborted All Party Conference in Colombo in December 1984.

These proposals had been rejected by the TULF and the action of the Sri Lankan government in placing similar proposals once again at the Thimpu talks called in question the good faith of the Government and its commitment to seek a just solution at these talks.

The intent of the proposals that were presented by Sri Lanka at Thimpu was clear. The unit of devolution was not even the province but the district. Further, the District Councils were without executive power. Their limited legislative power to enact subsidiary legislation was made subject to the control and approval of the President. Finally the funds to be placed at the disposal of a District Council were to be determined at the discretion of a commission appointed by the President.

The proposals evidenced the intention of the Sri Lankan government to manage and control the Tamil people even in the relatively insignificant functional areas where the District Councils were given some jurisdiction. In the end, the Thimpu Talks collapsed because even as the talks continued, Sri Lanka renewed its military offensive in the Tamil homeland.


up 1986 "19 December" Proposals...

After the collapse of the Thimpu Talks, India attempted 'indirect negotiations' - with Indian officials talking to the Sri Lanka government and the TULF separately. The LTTE and the other militant groups (with the possible exception of PLOTE) were not involved in these 'indirect negotiations'. At the end of these 'indirect negotiations' on 30.8.1985 the Sri Lankan side presented a Working Paper (Draft Framework of Accord and Understanding) which, it was agreed by the Government of India, could serve as the basis for further negotiations.

The Working Paper envisaged the creation of separate Provincial Councils for the Northern and Eastern Provinces by amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution. Yet again, the Proposals refused to recognise the existence of the Tamil homeland in the North-East. During October and November 1985, India's Foreign Secretary, Romesh Bhandari, attempted to secure the agreement of the Tamil militant groups to the Sri Lanka Working Paper but not surprisingly failed.

In mid December 1986, Indian Minister of State Mr. Natwar Singh and Mr. P. Chidambaram visited Colombo and fresh proposals were evolved (which came to be known as the "December 19 Proposals").

These proposals involved the formation of a new Eastern Province by excising Sinhalese majority areas (Amparai Electoral District) from the existing Eastern Province, and the creation of two Tamil Provincial Councils in the Northern and the reconstituted Eastern Province. The Sri Lanka government agreed to consider a proposal for a Second Stage of constitutional development which would provide for the Northern Province and the new Eastern Province being merged.

However, soon after the return of the Indian Ministers, the Sri Lankan Government expressed reservations and resiled from the December 19 position and this is reflected in the exchange of letters between India and Sri Lanka in February 1987. (see also A booklet, published by the Indian intelligence sources in 1987)


up 1987 Indo Sri Lanka Peace Agreement...

The events after the collapse of the Thimpu Talks reinforced the belief that given Sri Lanka's intransigence, India had decided to adopt the soft option and secure its own strategic interests, even if that be at the expense of the aspirations of the Tamil people.

The Indo-Sri Lankan Peace Agreement was signed on the 29th of July 1987 by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President J.R. Jayawardene. It was an agreement that went back even on the Chidambaram 'December 19' proposals. The Agreement did not recognise the existence of an identified Tamil homeland and resorted to the subterfuge of a referendum to evade facing the issue posed by the demand for a merger of the North and East.

The Exchange of Letters that preceded the signing of the Agreement declared that "Trincomalee or any other ports in Sri Lanka will not be made available for military use by any country in a manner prejudicial to India's interests" and that the " work of restoring and operating the Trincomalee Oil Tank will be undertaken as a joint operation between India and Sri Lanka."

In August 1987, the Sri Lankan Parliament passed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution and the ancillary Provincial Councils Act and claimed that the enactment of these laws fulfilled the promises made in the 1987 Indo Sri Lanka Accord, to 'devolve power' on the Tamil people.

However, the 13th Amendment and the ancillary Provincial Councils Act was a constitutional comic opera which created Provincial 'Ministers' without executive power and at the same time a Provincial Governor, appointed by the Sinhala President, who would exercise executive power in respect of provincial matters - a Provincial Governor who was also the administrative head of the provincial public service and who has control of the Provincial Finance Fund.

The architects of the 13th Amendment refused to break away from the path trodden by successive Sinhala governments which have sought to divide the Tamil people into smaller units and so eventually assimilate and 'integrate' them into a homogeneous Sinhala nation - an assimilating path which had led to confrontation and which had culminated in the armed struggle of the Tamil people against that which they rightly regarded as genocide.

India and Sri Lanka sought to enforce the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement by resort to force and the Indian Army was invited to the North-East by Sri Lanka President Jayawardene. Initially, 1,700 Indian troops (the Indian Peace Keeping Force - IPKF) arrived to enforce the pact. The Indian presence eventually grew to over 100,000.


up 1989/90 Premadasa Talks...

In December 1988, Sri Lanka elected a new President, Ranasinghe Premadasa. He assumed office on 2 January 1989. President Premadasa was intent on securing the withdrawal of the IPKF because of opposition by Sinhala militants (JVP) to Indian presence in the island. The new President engaged the LTTE in talks which commenced in April/May 1989 . India commenced withdrawing troops in July 1989 and completed the withdrawal by March 1990. 

But with the departure of the IPKF, President Premadasa dragged his feet on the basic LTTE demands re the dissolution of the North-East provincial councils (which had been elected under an electoral process rigged by the so called Indian Peace Keeping Force), the holding of fresh elections and the repeal of the 6th Amendment to the Sri Lanka Constitution. In June 1990, the talks inevitably collapsed and the armed conflict resumed. (see also Tamil Times and the War on the People)


up 1992/93 Parliamentary Select Committee Reports...

Thereafter, yet another Sri Lanka President, D.B.Wijetunga, set in motion a Parliamentary Select Committee to address the question of devolution. The Select Committee sat for two years, issued an Interim Report in 1992 and its Final Report in 1993.

The Select Committee proposals sought to impose a nine province pseudo 'federal' structure on the island - 'pseudo' because according to the Chairman of the Select Committee, the report envisaged 'devolution of power' without using the term 'federal in any manifest sense'!

The seven Sinhala provinces in the South were treated in the same way as the two Tamil provinces in the NorthEast and that in itself was proof enough of the meagre nature of the powers that may be exercised by each province.


up 1994 Talks with Chandrika Government...

In August 1994, the newly elected Sri Lanka government led by Chandrika Kumaratunga engaged the Liberation Tigers in talks yet again. But in an interview with the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times, an year later, on 20 August 1995, Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga admitted:

" We conducted talks on the basis that the LTTE would not agree to any peaceful settlement and lay down arms."

The attempted entrapment of the Liberation Tigers failed and the 'talks' collapsed on 19 April 1995. Velupillai Pirabaharan, declared in an interview with the BBC

"... giving pledges and implementing those pledges are two different things. In the past the Tamil people have been betrayed by previous Sinhala regimes. Agreements were made but not implemented. Pacts were signed and abrogated. This is our history. Chandrika's government is not an exception..."


up 1995 Devolution Package...

On 3 August 1995, Sri Lanka President Kumaratunga released a 'Devolution' package with the stated objective of ending the ethnic conflict in the island. At the same time she reaffirmed her intention to wage war against the Liberation Tigers and launched a genocidal attack on the Tamil homeland in the north of the island of Sri Lanka. The 'Devolution Package' appeared to be  no more than a peace mask to Sri Lanka's war face.

The 'new' proposals once again, refused to recognise the existence of the Tamil homeland, rejected an asymmetric approach, continued to treat all the provinces in the same way and to insist on a unitary state. In March 1997, the Sri Lanka government released some chapters of the new Constitution but held back on the provisions relating to devolution. In October 1997, this was followed up with a completed Draft Constitution. At the same time, Sri Lanka intensified its genocidal war against the Tamil people.


up The golden thread...

A 'golden thread' runs through every single set of proposals from the 1928 Donoughmore Commission recommendations, through the 1957 Bandaranaike Chelvanayakam Agreement, the 13th Amendment and the Kumaratunga package (including the Sri Lanka Constitution Bill of August 2000) - and that is the Sinhala people's rejection of an asymmetric approach and the insistence that whatever 'devolution' or 'decentralisation' that was on offer was equally available to the Sinhala provinces (which had never struggled or demanded 'devolution' or 'decentralisation') and to the Tamil areas in the North and East of the island.

Satchi Ponnambalam's comments in 1991 about the 1968 District Councils episode have a general relevance:

"...The (1968) District Councils episode and the fiasco in which it ended brings into focus the significant realities of the Tamil  national question... 

Firstly, it epitomizes the resort of the opposition Sinhalese politicians to "false propaganda and the spreading of communal hatred", on any measure even remotely connected to or ameliorative of the enslaved and deprived of "birthright" condition of the Tamil people. 

Secondly, that false propaganda will accuse the proposer of any such measure as the author of a scheme "to divide the country to the detriment of the Sinhalese", in order to heighten the controversy over it so that the proposer himself would jettison it, as did Dudley Senanayake. 

Thirdly, the vociferous Buddhist lobby consisting of the Mahanayakes, Bhikkhus and the A.C.B.C. have become the keepers of the conscience of the Sinhalese nation and the custodians of the Sri Lanka Government's positions over the Tamil problem, which the two have created in the country. 

Fourthly, the ultimatum threat of an influential section of the Government Parliamentary Group to the P.M. to give up or face revolt shows that the Sinhalese politicians do not divide on party lines on the Tamil problem but on racial or ethnic lines and therefore it is not possible for the P.M. to shore up support for his proposals even within the ranks of his own party parliamentarians. 

Fifthly, living up to Dudley Senanayake's predatory wish, the Tamil people have "sent away ... the Tamil Congress and the Federal Party", but have yet not regained their "birthright in Sri Lanka." 

Lastly, and most importantly, the new status quo of the Sinhalese and Sri Lanka Government - Tamil position of rulers/ruled, overlordship/subjugation has come to be cast in such a rigid, impenetrable and immutable mould that the Tamils have been left with no choice but to break that mould by force to free themselves to be counted as humans; otherwise, it was slavery, revolting to any civilized conscience...The Tamils right and claim to the Eelam territory has to be bluntly, irrefutably and crisply stated: the Eelam lands are inviolate and Tamil nation's sovereignty over that territory is non-negotiable..

"..(The) perceived solution of self-determination has evolved and taken shape by the compulsions of more than three decades of political struggles of the Tamil people and their political leaders which ended in the ignominious failure to arrive at any just solution by the process of negotiation between the two parties. There lay in ruins the scrap-heap of broken pacts and dishonoured agreements as to proposals for Regional Councils, District Councils, Provincial Councils, Provincial/Regional Councils, District/Provincial Councils - all tentative concepts and toothless bodies with no genuine devolved powers of decentralization..." 

The record of broken pacts, dishonoured agreements and evasive proposals reveals Sinhala chauvinism's consistent refusal to recognise the existence of the Tamil people as a "people" with an historic homeland and the right to freely determine their political status - the right to freely determine the terms on which the Sinhala people and the Tamil people may associate with each other in equality and in freedom.

More recently, faced with the determined demand for recognition of the right to self determination of the people of Tamil Eelam, attempts have been made to develop a constitutional theory of 'internal' and 'external' self determination - and a conflict resolution process was set in motion with Norway as the facilitator.

But in the end, it seems that it is the power that flows through the barrel of the gun will determine that which is just - as these conclusions by Professor Marshall Singer in 1992 and 8 years later by the Centre for Strategic & International Studies appear to suggest -

"..If the combatants want a solution they will have to abandon theory and deal with reality. The sooner they do that the sooner there will be a solution...The problem for the Tamils is that they are not in any position either militarily or politically to impose a solution to their liking... I submit, given the fact that they are so splintered both politically and militarily, they would be lucky if they could get the Sinhalese to agree to some very meaningful devolution of power within the framework of the Provincial Councils..." - Professor Marshall Singer in Alternative Solutions to the Conflict,1992

"...the prospects for Sri Lanka's fragile peace efforts have been badly undercut. Reviving them will require a much more radical approach to power sharing than the government has been willing to consider in the past... A loose confederal structure, with some kind of explicit recognition of the Tamils as a collective group within it and with stronger guarantees of their inclusion in power at the national level, might be more successful. Two draft Canadian constitutions proposed that certain legislative changes would require a "double majority" of both English and French-speaking parliamentarians; an analogous provision might be useful. Obviously, this type of radical departure would be intensely controversial in the Sri Lankan political mainstream. But half measures will only prolong the country's agony..." US based Centre for Strategic & International Studies, June 2000

 
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