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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > International Frame of  Struggle for Tamil Eelam  > New Delhi & Tamil Struggle > The Indo Sri Lanka Agreement

India & the Struggle for Tamil Eelam

The Indo Sri Lanka Agreement
Nadesan Satyendra
15 January1988

The article examines the terms of the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement signed by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India and President J.R. Jayawardene of Sri Lanka on 29 July 1987 in the context of India's geo political interests and the impact of the subsequent offensive launched by the Indian Peace Keeping Force on the Tamil people - it is a revised version of two speeches delivered in London in January and March 1988.

"...The Indo Sri Lanka Agreement refuses to structure a federal constitution where power may be shared between the Tamil nation and the Sinhala nation. The Agreement does not even create a 'Tamil Nadu like' constitutional structure for the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka. The Agreement seeks to 'devolve' power on nine provincial units, and thereby enable a Sinhala dominated Central government to control and regulate the exercise of such 'devolved' power. And the extent of the power so devolved on the provincial units does not go even as far as that which was provided in the Bandaranaike - Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957 - and excludes land alienation. In the critical area of finance, the Peace Agreement is content to let the provincial councils be dependent on the largesse of a Sinhala dominated Central Government. In truth that which the Peace Agreement contemplates is not even devolution of power but an administrative decentralisation which will in fact increase the power of the Centre to manage the provinces."

Contents


PREFACE

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India and President J.R. Jayawardene of Sri Lanka entered into the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement on 29 July 1987 with the stated objective of bringing 'peace and normalcy' to Sri Lanka. Velupillai Pirabaharan, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (who were recognized as 'combatants' by the Agreement and who had emerged as the leaders of the Tamil national struggle) declared:

"The set of proposals envisaged in the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement for the settlement of the Tamil National question has serious limitations and falls short of fulfilling the aspirations of our people. Hence we pledge to extend our cooperation to the implementation of the Agreement only in so far as it upholds the rights of our people. It is unfair and unreasonable for a democratic country like India to demand unconditional support for the Agreement at the point of a gun."

On 10 October 1987, the so called Indian Peace Keeping Force, which had arrived in Sri Lanka 'to keep the peace' launched a widespread, indiscriminate and sustained attack on the Tamil people with the objective of securing their unconditional support for the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement. A reward of one million rupees was offered for the capture of Velupillai Pirabaharan, dead or alive.


CONTEXT OF THE PEACE ACCORD - THE EXCHANGE OF LETTERS

On the 29th of July 1987, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Jayawardene signed the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement to 'establish peace and normalcy in Sri Lanka.' The preamble to the Agreement acknowledged 'the imperative need of resolving the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka, and the consequent violence, and for securing the safety, well being and prosperity of people belonging to all cities in Sri Lanka'. The Peace Agreement is an important and significant document not only because of that which it offers as the solution to the ethnic problem', but also because it serves to underline India's role as a regional power in South Asia. On both counts, the Peace Agreement merits reasoned consideration.

The Peace Agreement should, be placed in its context - a context that was made public by the exchange of letters of the 29th of July 1987 between the President of Sri Lanka and the Prime Minister of India. Clause 2 of the letter dated the 29th of July 1987 from Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to President Jayawardene states

" You had during the course of our discussion, agreed to meet some of India's concerns as follows:
  1. "Your Excellency and myself will reach an early understanding about the relevance and employment of foreign military and intelligence personnel with a view to ensuring that such presence will not prejudice Indo Sri Lanka relations.
  2. Trincomalee or any other ports in Sri Lanka will not be made available for military use by any country in 2 manner prejudicial to India's interests.
  3. Sri Lanka's agreement with foreign broadcasting organisations will be reviewed to ensure that any facilities set up by them in Sri Lanka are used solely as public broadcasting facilities and not for any military or intelligence purposes."


AN EXCHANGE OF LETTERS CONCERNED WITH INDIA'S GEO POLITICAL INTERESTS

Let us pause and ask in what way are these provisions connected with the 'imperative need to resolve the ethnic problem' between the Tamil people and the Sinhala people? The ethnic conflict was a conflict between the Sinhala people and the Tamil people. In what way was the resolution of that conflict helped by India exercising control over the use of Trincomalee? Again, in what way was the resolution of the conflict between the Sinhala people and the Tamil people helped by India securing that foreign broadcasting facilities in Sri Lanka were not used for military and intelligence purposes?

Let us ask: what are these 'military and intelligence' purposes to which broadcasting facilities may be put to use? We live in an age of space satellites which can photograph with clarity and accuracy movements on the ground. What then are these military and intelligence purposes' which are beyond the capacity of space satellites?

We know that one such area beyond the reach of space satellites is communication with and monitoring nuclear submarines under water - radio signals from space satellites are too weak to travel through water and reach nuclear submarines. It would seem that India is concerned that Sri Lanka based broadcasting facilities may be used to monitor and communicate with nuclear submarines in the Indian Ocean. But whose submarines?

At the time of the Agreement, India did not have nuclear submarines. The two countries in world with sizable fleets of nuclear submarines are the USA and the USSR But the broadcasting facilities in Sri Lanka about which India was concerned were the Voice of America installations. India was concerned to secure that these VOA installations were not used by the United States for military and intelligence purposes.

A 6th of January 1987 report from Associated Press that India had taken delivery of a Soviet nuclear submarine on lease gives a certain practical significance to the exchange of letters in July 1987 - an exchange of letters which had everything to do with the elemental premise of India's strategic policy in the Asian region - namely to deny any intermediary role to extra regional powers in the affairs of South East Asia - and thereby secure its own status as THE regional power in the Asian region.

But the question remains: what do these provisions have to do with the resolution of the ethnic conflict between the Sinhala people and the Tamil people. Clearly, these provisions have little to do with India's helpful humanitarian role on behalf of the long suffering Tamil people or for that matter its role as an 'honest broker in the ethnic conflict.

Fortunately, Prime Minister Gandhi's letter of the 29th of July 1987, does not leave us in animated suspense on the nature of this vital 'connection'. Clause 3 of the letter expressly declares that, "in the same spirit" as Sri Lanka has agreed to respond to India's concerns about the use of Trincomalee and the use of foreign broadcasting facilities, India will

1.Deport all Sri Lanka citizens who are found to be engaging in terrorist activities or advocating separatism or secessionism.

2.Provide training facilities and military supplies for Sri Lankan security forces.


THE QUID PRO QUO IS OUT OF THE BAG

The cat, in this instance, the quid pro quo, is out of the bag. The letter makes it abundantly clear that in return for Sri Lanka agreeing to Indian control of the use of Trincomalee and limiting the use of the foreign broadcasting facilities to 'public broadcasting', India will deport all Sri Lanka citizens who are found to be engaging in terrorist activities or advocating separatism or secessionism and that it will itself provide training facilities and military supplies to Sri Lanka.

Herein lies the connection of India's geo political interests with the resolution of the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The inference is clear: if Sri Lanka had not responded to India's concerns about the use of Trincomalee and the use of foreign broadcasting facilities, then India would not deport 'terrorists' and those who advocated separatism and secessionism and India would have continued to support the Tamil militant movement until such time that Sri Lanka did respond.

President Jayawardene confirmed this when he told a Voice of America correspondent in an interview reported in the Asian Weekly, New Life of the 13th of November 1987, that the Voice of America had become a 'voice of problem' between India and Sri Lanka because Indians feared that VOA transmitting facilities were being used for military purposes. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi admitted almost as much in the Indian Lower House in early November 1987

"The Indo Lankan agreement would also meet some of our important security concerns and ... therefore the Government of India is fully committed to the full implementation of this agreement" [New Life dated the 13th of November 1967]

Who are these 'terrorists' who India says it will deport? Would they include those who had been invited by India to participate in the Peace Talks at Thimpu in August 1985? Would they include those who had been recognized as 'militants' and 'combatants' by the Peace Agreement itself? The letter does not spell that out.

But, the letter states that India will deport not only 'terrorists' but also all Sri Lankan citizens 'advocating separatism or secessionism'. The Indian Government was ready to go to the extent of providing its own sanction to the 6th Amendment of President Jayawardene's Government. The 6th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution made it an offence for anyone in Sri Lanka to advocate separation, even peacefully and it was an amendment which Paul Sieghart of the International Commission of Jurists had in 1984, declared to be "a clear violation by Sri Lanka of its obligations in international law under the Covenant".

The letters dated the 29th of July 1987 were not some appendage to the Peace Agreement that was signed on the same date - in fact and in truth the letters constituted the real 'Agreement' between India and Sri Lanka.

And so it was India itself which signed the Peace Agreement - a wholly inappropriate and illogical procedure, if the Peace Agreement was intended to be an accord between Sinhala people and the Tamil people - but a wholly appropriate and logical procedure if the Peace Agreement was no more and no less than an Agreement between India and Sri Lanka.


BUT, DOES THE ACCORD SECURE THE INTERESTS OF THE TAMIL PEOPLE?

But then are there are those who may say: yes, it is true that India has pursued its geo political interests but all states have their geo political interests and that the Tamil people must recognise and accept this reality. And they are right. It is a point of view that cannot be faulted.

But, an essential part of realism is that we should also surface in the open, the real political interests of the signatories to the Peace Agreement. Realism is not timidity. India is our friend - upto a point.

Because it would seem that our friend has his own interests as well. but then many friends are like that - and let us not be too disappointed. The question is: where does friendship end and where does our friend's self interest begin?

The legitimate political interests of the Tamil people are no less important than the legitimate geo political interests of India in the Asian region. But the two are not necessarily incompatible. Again it may well be that one cannot be achieved without the other. But the question is whether the terms of the Peace Agreement evidence India's recognition of this political reality.

And so, though the context of the Peace Agreement shows that India was concerned to secure its geo political interests, the question remains to be determined whether the terms of the Agreement nevertheless secure the legitimate interests of the Tamil people. Here Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi has recently stated in December 1987, at a public meeting in Tamil Nadu:

' We will ensure the rights for the Tamils of Sri Lanka...The Agreement went well beyond anything that the Tamils had ever put forward. It is an agreement which for the first time looked at almost every single problem of the Tamils, found answers to those problems and a guarantee for these answers" [Sun - 28th December 1987]

Was Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi right when he declared that the Peace Agreement will ensure the rights of the Tamils of Sri Lanka? Was he right when he declared that the Peace Agreement went beyond anything that the Tamils had ever put forward? What does our reason tell us?

When we turn to examine the contents of the Peace Agreement what is it that we find? The positive feature of the Peace Agreement was that it legitimised the Tamil militant movement. The Peace Agreement was an agreement entered into between two sovereign states and it openly recognised the Tamil militant movement as a militant movement and describes those who constituted it as combatants'. In international law, the Peace Agreement served to further consolidate the legitimate status of the Tamil resistance movement.


THE ACCORD PUT THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE

But having legitimised the resistance, the Agreement sought to disarm the militant movement, before agreement had been reached on the central issues of the struggle in which the militant movement was engaged. The Peace Agreement provided in clause 2.15 that it is conditional to 'an acceptance of the proposals negotiated from4.5.86 to 9.12.86' and that 'residual matters not finalised during the above negotiations shall be resolved between India and Sri Lanka within a period of six weeks of signing this agreement.'

On the one hand the Peace Agreement required the surrender of weapons within five days of the agreement. On the other hand, it left open for a further period of 6 weeks the resolution of the central issues relating to the Tamil struggle.

It was this which led former Indian Foreign Secretary, A.P. Venkateshwaran, to declare on the 13th of August 1987:

"The circumstances which changed the approach of the Sri Lankan President, Mr. Jayawardene and his attitude to the ethnic issue should be looked into. He was not known to be sympathetic and objected even to the innocuous clauses in Annexure C in 1983 ... What concerns me is the sudden signing of the accord which seems to have too many loop holes ...

The Indian Government instead of resolving the question of devolving power to the Tamils had decided upon signing an agreement first and then resolving the devolution question...The manner in which the agreement was signed amounted to putting the cart before the horse ... Why should the Sri Lankan Government implement devolution? They are not fools. No devolution will take place under the agreement. We will have to leave Sri Lanka in circumstances worse than we went in..." [Hindu Report dated 13th August 1987]

The trouble with putting the cart before the horse is that the cart does not move. The agreement that was signed on the 29th of July 1987 failed to address itself to the central issues of the Tamil struggle, which were crystallised in the joint and unanimous stand of the Tamil militant movement at Thimpu in August 1985:

'It is our considered view that any meaningful solution to the Tamil national question must be based an the following four cardinal principles

  1. the recognition of the Tamils of Ceylon as a nation
  2. the recognition of an identified homeland for the Tamils in Ceylon
  3. recognition of the right of self determination of the Tamil nation
  4. the recognition of the right to citizenship and the fundamental rights all Tamils who look upon the island as their country"

The recognition of the Tamil people as a nation was central to the struggle of the Tamil people. The Thimpu Declaration sought to question openly and directly the claims of an exaggerated Sinhala nationalism which had for decades sought to masquerade as a 'Sri Lankan nationalism' and which had sought to 'assimilate' and 'integrate' the Tamil people into a so called 'Sri Lankan nationality' by denying the existence of not only the Tamil nation but also the Sinhala nation in Sri Lanka.

It is a Sinhala chauvinism which has tried to 'assimilate' the Tamil people within the confines of a unitary state which gave a built in, permanent and dominant majority voice to the Sinhala people. It was this attempt at 'assimilation' which had led to the armed struggle of the Tamil people. It was a recognition of this basic reality which led the Tamil delegation to declare at Thimpu:

"Please tell us straight: do you regard us as a people or not? We are here because we seek to engage you in the serious business of talking about the problems that have arisen between the Sinhala people and the Tamil people. and that is why, as a reasonable people, we say at the beginning, please tell us with whom you say you are talking? ... And for our part, we declare hare at Thimpu, without rancour and with patience, that we shall speak at Thimpu, or for that matter anywhere else, on behalf of the Tamil nation or not at all" [Statement made on behalf of the Tamil Liberation Organisations on the 17th of August 1985]

A political resolution of the conflict between the Sinhala people and the Tamil people should, after all, begin by recognising the existence of the Sinhala people as a people, and the Tamil people as a people. But the Peace Agreement refused to face up to this real political need.


ACCORD SEEKS TO 'DEVOLVE' POWER NOT 'SHARE' IT

Again, since the Peace Agreement did not recognise the existence of the Sinhala nation and the Tamil nation in Sri Lanka, it also did not see the need to share power between two nations within a genuine federal constitutional structure. And in the provisions of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which the Sri Lankan government presented in fulfillment of its obligations under the Peace Agreement, there is lip service to the devolution' of power.

But, devolution means that power 'devolves' from a higher body to a lower body. Who is the 'higher' body from whom power is to be devolved? Is that higher body a Sinhala dominated Central government?

And if power is so devolved, is it not also true that that power can always be taken back, and, what is more, controlled and regulated at all times by that higher body. After all that is what distinguishes 'devolution' from 'federalism' in constitutional theory and practise.

In the words of Professor Claire Palley:

"If the powers of government are organised under a single central authority, while whatever powers by local units are held at the sufferance of the central government, which can exercise supreme legislative authority, the constitution is described as unitary. If the powers of government are distributed between central and local government and the central authority is limited by the powers secured to the territorial units, the state is federal" [Minority Rights Group Report on 'Constitutional Law and Minorities.]"

Under the Peace Agreement, power will continue to reside in a Sinhala dominated Central government, within the frame of an unitary constitution. And before the Constitutional Court in Sri Lanka, Counsel who appeared for the ruling United National Party declared:

"India is a federal state ... in a federal state, the Central government does not have supreme control over the constituent states... Sri Lanka is a unitary state. The Provincial Councils are not beyond the executive powers of the President... The President's directions prevail ... The Provincial Councils shall not make any statutes on any matter affecting national policy..."


DEVOLVED POWERS LESS THAN THOSE IN B-C PACT

The extent of the powers that will be 'devolved' on the provincial units by the Peace Agreement will not go even as far as the Bandaranaike - Chelvanayagam Pact which provided that regional councils shall have powers "over specified subjects including agriculture, cooperatives, lands and land development, colonisation, education, health, industries, and fisheries, housing an social services, electricity, water schemes and roads" and further that such powers shall "include the power to select allottees to whom lands shall be alienated"

Dr. H.W. Jayawardene, who appeared on behalf of the President Jayawardene before the Constitutional Court was clear and specific:

"State land in the provinces will be vested in the President and will not be given over to the Provincial Councils. The principle of central rule will not be affected in the distribution of land. Under the Land policy as envisaged in the Amendment, no state land will be vested in a Provincial Council - in other words no giving away of state land to the provinces - licensing of pawn brokers will be done by the Provincial Councils..." [Sun - 30th October 1987]

The Provincial Councils will no doubt have the right to license pawnbrokers. But the struggle of the Tamil people was not about licensing pawnbrokers. In respect of the extent of the powers devolved, the provisions of the Peace Agreement, backed by the armed might of the Indian Army, did not secure for the Tamil people even that which had been agreed in the Bandaranaike Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957. But Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declares that the Peace Agreement "went well beyond anything that the Tamils had ever put forward"

Again, on the important question of the control of the internal security forces within the area of the provincial units, the Peace Agreement provides in clause 2.l0:

"The Government of Sri Lanka will utilise for the purpose of law enforcement and maintenance of security in the northern and eastern provinces same organisations and mechanisms of government as are used in the rest of the country".

Dr. H.W. Jayawardene, appearing on behalf of president Jayawardene before the Constitutional Court was at pains to declare:

"All police officers will be appointed by the inspector General of Police who is directly under the control of the President."

Unlike, the case of Tamil Nadu and other states in India, the provincial units under the Peace Agreement will not have control of the police force.


PROVINCIAL UNITS DEPENDENT ON CENTRE FOR FINANCE

In the critical area of finance, the Peace Agreement refuses to secure a measure of meaningful independence for the provincial councils. It refuses to recognise the principle of block grants from the Central Government to be computed on a principled basis by a truly independent Financial Commission. It refuses to recognise that which was recognised in the Bandaranaike Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957 which provided:

"The Central Government will provide block grants to the regional councils. The principles on which grants will be computed will be gone into. The regional councils shall have powers of taxation and borrowing."

The Peace Agreement refuses to accept even that which was contained in the Annexure 'C' proposals of December l983 agreed between the Sri Lankan Government and tile late Indira Gandhi's Indian Government that:

"Regional Councils will also have the power to levy taxes, cess or fees and to mobilise resources through loans, the proceeds of which will be credited to the Consolidated Fund set up for the particular Region to which also will be credited grants, allocations or subventions made by the Republic. Financial resources will be apportioned to the Regions on the recommendations of a representative Finance Commission appointed from time to time."

The Peace Agreement is content to allow the provinces to be dependent on the arbitrary discretion of the Central government for their finances and in a Third World country such as Sri Lanka, with scarce resources, the distribution of such resources will always be heavily weighted in favour of those who wield power in the Centre.

The Tamil people cannot forget that it was this dominance and discrimination which led to the Tamil struggle in the first instance. But Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi asserts that the Peace Agreement was " an agreement which for the first time looked at almost every single problem of the Tamils" and "found answers to those problems".


CURIOUSLY WORDED LANGUAGE PROVISION

On the question of language, the Peace Agreement has a curiously worded provision. It says in clause 2.18:

"The official language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala. Tamil and English will also be official languages".

The provision perpetuates the 1956 slogan: "Sinhala only - Tamil also'. If it was "Sinhala only", then in what way was it possible to have "Tamil Also". It was a contradiction in terms. And today, we have a Peace Agreement which states in clear terms: "THE official language of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala". If THE official language of Sri Lanka is Sinhala then what is meant by adding that "Tamil and English will also be official languages"? Are they 'subsidiary' official languages? If it was the intention of the signatories of the Peace Agreement to give parity of status to Sinhala and Tamil, why did not the Agreement simply say so and declare that "THE official languages of Sri Lanka shall be Sinhala and Tamil"?

The Peace Agreement carefully refrains from using such simple and straightforward language. Let us remember that under the 1978 constitution Tamil was a national language - and therefore presumably, 'official to that extent. Is the Peace Agreement saying anything more than that which was contained in the 1978 constitution? The question is: how official is "official"?

The Peace Agreement clearly does not give parity of status to Sinhala and Tamil. It will not secure that all official records will be maintained in Sinhala and Tamil. It will not secure that all public servants shall have proficiency in both Sinhala and Tamil. That would have been the practical consequence of declaring that both Sinhala and Tamil shall be THE official languages of Sri Lanka and that the signatories to the Peace Agreement were not willing to do.

The Peace Agreement in effect adopted the old subterfuge - Sinhala Only but Tamil Also - and the gulf between law and implementation, between theory and practise will be allowed to continue as before.

It is therefore not surprising that the 13th Amendment to the Constitution presented by President Jayawardene in September 1987 in purported compliance with that which was agreed in the Peace Agreement, makes no attempt what ever to amend the 1978 constitutional provision that Sinhala shall be THE official language. The Sri Lankan Government will no doubt contend that the provision in the 1978 Constitution which declared Tamil as a 'national' language is sufficient compliance of the Peace Agreement provisions.


ACCORD REFUSES TO RECOGNISE THE TAMIL HOMELAND

And on the vital question of a homeland, the Peace Agreement attempts to face both ways at the same time. Clause 1.4 declares

"the Northern and Eastern Provinces have been areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamils, who have at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethnic groups.."

What is the Peace Agreement saying - that is if it is saying anything at all? On the one hand it is saying that the Northern and Eastern Provinces have been areas of historical habitation of the Tamils. Then, it goes on to say, that the Tamils have at all times hitherto lived together in this territory with other ethnic groups. According to the Peace Agreement, even in Jaffna, Tamils have 'at all times hitherto lived together with other ethnic groups'.

But even apart from statements of such doubtful historical veracity, the basic political message is that the Peace Agreement refuses to recognise the existence of a Tamil homeland. On the one hand, it refuses to recognises the existence of a Tamil nation and an the other hand it refuses to recognise the existence of a homeland where such national consciousness ties in fact grown.

The Peace Agreement rejects not only the first tenet of the Thimpu declaration but also the second, and a fortiorari, the third as well - because the Peace Agreement denies the right of the Tamil people to sit as equals with the Sinhala people and determine the political structure within which the two people may live in equality - and that after all is what the right of self determination is about.


AND ENGAGES IN THE SUBTERFUGE OF A REFERENDUM

But it would appear that the signatories to the Agreement were not unmindful of the difficulties that would arise from their refusal to recognise the political reality of Tamil national consciousness. The Peace Agreement engages in a cover up and attempts a subterfuge - the subterfuge of a referendum.

The Peace Agreement whilst refusing to recognise the existence of a Tamil homeland, provides that the Northern and Eastern Province shall be joined together as one administrative unit subject to a referendum to be held before December 1988 whereby the Eastern Province by a simple majority may decide to separate and opt to have its own administrative unit.

Why join the two Provinces, together unless it was recognised that the Tamil people as a people had a prima facie claim to the North and Eastern Province as a homeland. And if the Tamil people had a prima facie claim, in what way can such claim be defeated by the result of a referendum confined to a section of that people resident in the Eastern Province?

But the reality is that one of the signatories to the Peace Agreement had openly stated that the joining of the two provinces was a temporary expedient to get over a temporary difficulty. A few days before the Agreement was signed on the 29th of July 1987, President Jayawardene addressing the 1200 strong National Executive Committee of the UNP on the 26th of July 1987 declared:

" ... Only one thing has to be considered. That is a temporary merger of the North and East. A referendum will be held before the and of next year on a date to be decided by the President to allow the people of the East to decide whether they are in favour or not of this merger. The decision will be by a simple majority vote...In the Eastern Province with Amparai included there are 33% Muslims, 27% Sinhalese and the balance 40% Tamils. Of these Tamils there are two categories.

…More than half of then, are Batticaloa Tamils and the rest are Jaffna Tamils. Then, if the Jaffna Tamils form 20%, then I think that 60% are opposed to such a merger. Mr. Dewanayagam and Mr. Majeed have told me so. Then if the referendum is held by the Central government and the approval of those who return to the East is sought, I think a majority will oppose it. Then the merger will be over. What do we gain by this temporary merger, the President asked and said that it would see the end of the terrorist movement..."[Sri Lanka News - 29th July 1987]

At a press conference immediately after the Agreement, President Jayawardene confirmed that he would campaign against the merger. [Sri Lanka News - 12th August 1967]. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the other party to the Agreement, at no stage repudiated that which had been said by President Jayawardene.


THE TERMS OF ACCORD EMERGE…

So, the terms of the Peace Agreement emerge clearly. It was an accord entered into between India and Sri Lanka. The Agreement secured the geo political interests of India in the Asian region. If Sri Lanka had not agreed to India's concerns in this regard, India would have continued to support the Tamil militant movement until such time as Sri Lanka agreed.

 

The Agreement required the Tamil militant movement to disarm even before the conclusion of negotiations on so called 'residual matters'.

The Agreement refuses to recognise the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a nation.

The Agreement refuses to recognise the existence of a homeland for the Tamil people and seeks to evade that issue by the subterfuge of a referendum.

The Agreement rejects the basic principles of the Thimpu declaration.

The Agreement refuses to structure a federal constitution where power may be shared between the Tamil nation and the Sinhala nation.

The Agreement does not even create a 'Tamil Nadu like' constitutional structure for the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka.

The Agreement seeks to 'devolve' power an nine provincial units, and thereby enable a Sinhala dominated Central government to control and regulate the exercise of such 'devolved' power. And the extent of the power so devolved on the provincial units does not go even as far as that which was provided in the Bandaranaike - Chelvanayagam Pact of 1957 - and excludes land alienation. In the critical area of finance, the Peace Agreement is content to let the provincial councils be dependent on the largesse of a Sinhala dominated Central Government.

In truth that which the Peace Agreement contemplates is not even devolution of power but an administrative decentralisation which will in fact increase the power of the Centre to manage the provinces.


ACCORD FAILS TO SECURE THE INTERESTS OF THE TAMIL PEOPLE

The Peace Agreement will do nothing to prevent continued state aided Sinhala colonization of the Northern and Eastern Province because this is a matter of 'national policy' and therefore within the control of the Central Government.

The Peace Agreement will do nothing to prevent standardisation of admission to Universities, because that too will remain within the ultimate control of the Central Government.

The Peace Agreement will do nothing to secure an equitable allocation of resources to Tamil areas, because such allocation will be within the arbitrary control of a Sinhala dominated Central Government.

The Peace Agreement will do nothing to control the exercise of Emergency Powers under which thousands have been held without trial, because such Emergency Powers will continue to be vested in the Central Government.

The Peace Agreement will do nothing to prevent the operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act whose provisions were described by the ICJ as a 'blot on the statute book of any civilised country because this too will be within the legislative competence of the Central Government.

The Peace Agreement will do nothing to prevent the operation of the 13th Amendment to the Sri Lankan Constitution - an amendment which was described by the ICJ as a violation of democratic freedoms. On the contrary, the Peace Agreement will give its own sanction to such violation.

And the Peace Agreement will do nothing to energise and mobilise the Tamil people to work for the rehabilitation of their homeland, because the Peace Agreement refuses to recognise the existence of that homeland.

But Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, says that the Peace Agreement 'went well beyond anything that the Tamils had ever put forward'. He also says that the Peace Agreement was "an agreement which for the first time looked at almost every single problem of the Tamils" and 'found answers to those problems".

But what does reason say? Reason says that the Peace Agreement, fails to address itself to the central issues of the Tamil struggle. The Indo Sri Lankan Peace Agreement which secured India's geo political interests failed to secure the legitimate interests of the Tamil people - a people who had been used by India - and supported up to a point.


STAND OF THE LTTE ON THE ACCORD

Velupillai Pirabaharan the leader of the LTTE declared on the 5th of August 1987 at the public meeting in Jaffna before more than a hundred thousand Tamil people, on his return from New Delhi:

"The Tamil struggle has reached a turning point today. This had been brought about by factors beyond the LTTE's control. The Government of India had told me that whether the LTTE accepted the accord or not, it Would certainly implement the accord. I am not surprised at the standpoint of the Government of India, for this accord dealt with Indo-Sri Lankan relations. The Agreement is intended to protect India's interests in the region..."

Velupillai Pirabaharan reiterated this approach in an interview reported in the Hindu on 13 August 1987:

"Mr. Pirabaharan made clear the special place India and its people held in the sentiments and perceptions of his movement but said the failure to tackle basic requirements in a tangled and confused situation at this stage had resulted in 'dissatisfaction among our people ... (he) said that 'the problems of the affected people have not been taken care of in the Agreement' which he characterised as 'an agreement concluded in haste, keeping in view their (India's and Sri Lanka's) interests...

Asked what were the specific areas of the Indo Sri Lankan Agreement which caused dissatisfaction, he (Pirabaharan) said that for example, the accord mentioned a referendum even on the vital question of the merger of the North and East. The referendum in the Eastern Province was moreover to be decided on a simple majority .he declared: 'It is not a question of the merger of the North and East. It is our homeland. There is no question of any negotiation on this."


WAS VELUPILLAI PIRABAHARAN WRONG?

Let us ask:

 

Was Velupillai Pirabaharan wrong when he said that the Agreement dealt with Indo Sri Lankan relations?

Was he wrong when he said that the Agreement was intended to protect India's interests in the region?

Was he wrong when he referred to the special place that India had in the sentiments and perceptions of his movement?

Was he wrong when he said that the Agreement had been concluded, keeping in view the interests of India and Sri Lanka?

Was he wrong when he said that the Agreement did not take care of the problems of the affected people?

Was Velupillai Pirabaharan wrong when he said that there can be no question of a referendum on the merger?

Was he wrong when he chose to stand by the Thimpu declaration which called for the recognition of a homeland for the Tamil people in Sri Lanka?

Does anybody say that that which Velupillai Pirabaharan stated in Jaffna on the 7th of August 1987 and again an the 13th of August 1987 was an incorrect analysis of the terms of the Indo Sri Lanka Peace Agreement?


PEACE ACCORD SET THE STAGE FOR THE TRAGEDY THAT WAS TO FOLLOW

What does reason say? Reason says that the Peace Agreement denied reason to the Tamil people - and set the stage for the tragedy that was to follow. The Indian Government denied reason and set on the path of 'bending' the LTTE and the Tamil people to its will. The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Natwar Singh declared in India Today, three months later when questioned about the military offensive launched by the Indian Army in Jaffna:

"No government can go into an agreement of this nature without having tied up the obvious loose ends. We examined every possible option. There were no low cost options available. If anybody can suggest a better alternative, we will gladly examine it."

As early as August 1987 the Indian Government took the preliminary steps to tie up 'the obvious loose ends' and prepared the ground for its high cost option. Around 30,000 troops were brought into the Northern and Eastern Provinces, ostensibly, to 'protect' the Tamil people. The Sri Lankan government, for its part, in anticipation of the provincial elections and the referendum, began to take steps to settle Sinhala people in the Eastern Province and thereby secure the majority that President Jayawardene had spoken about an the 25th of July 1987. Velupillai Pirabaharan warned an the 13th of August 1967:

"In 1983, there were only a few Sri Lankan army camps in the North and East. But now there were some 200 camps. The Sinhalese settlements could not be removed or dissolved without removing these army camps and in fact the camps 'legitimised the Sinhala settlements'.

The Agreement does not provide for the removal of the Sri Lankan Army camps... (he) pointed out that the Sri Lankan Army camps stood in the way of the Tamil... refugees... returning to their homes in confidence...

(he) said that a 'strange thing' about the present arrangement was that while the Indian army tied not gone to some of the areas where the Tamils were particularly vulnerable and where dangers lurked, it had gone about establishing camps in places where there was no real danger for the Tamils.

Indian army camps were being set up at Palai, Vannakerni, Yakkachi, Thalaiyadi coast, Kodikamam, Achuveli, Pandatharippu and so on. There was no need for camps in these places 'as there are no Sinhalese there"' [Hindu International Edition - 22 August 1987, interview dated 13th August 1987]


TAMIL QUISLING GROUPS

On the 7th of September the Sinhala owned Sri Lankan Sun reported:

'LTTE spokesman Thileepan yesterday warned Indian peacekeeping forces not to side, directly or indirectly with anti LTTE activities, otherwise the Tigers would be forced to launch an 'Ahimsa' protest. His statement came 24 hours after the killing of three senior LTTE militants in Vavuniya town on Saturday morning. The dead persons have been identified as the deputy leader of the LTTE in Vavuniya and the Mullaitivu leader. Eight of their members had also been kidnapped, Thileepan has said...thousands attended the funeral of the LTTE's deputy leader held in Vavuniya yesterday.." (Sun 7 September 1987]

And at about the same time, the state sponsored Sri Lanka News carried a news report datelined 12 September 1967 under the heading 'Peace or death' PLOT call to LITE:

"'If Pirabaharan rejects peace, we have no alternative but to liquidate the Tigers. We are prepared to die for the cause' a PLOT leader in Vavuniya said. Incidents of the last six days indicate that PLOT's fighters are already in action. PLOT leaders in Vavuniya, Manikkam Dasan and S. Castro, who met these two reporters amid mounting tension in the region, asserted that they were backing the peace accord 'to the hilt'. PLOT had no objection to Sinhalese buying land wherever they liked in the North and East, they told the pressmen." [Sri Lanka News - 16 September 1987]

PLOTE which accepted this unprincipled Peace Agreement 'to the hilt' was prepared to die for some 'cause'! The Tamil people will no doubt be concerned to ask: what cause and whose cause?

Simon Freeman reported from Jaffna in the Sunday Times on the 25th of October 1967;

"Our first encounter with these young men came shortly before we reached a Sri Lankan army camp... They said they were from PLOT, the People's Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam, part of a Tamil coalition bitterly opposed the Tigers. PLOT has been armed by the Sri Lankan authorities, who believe, mistakenly, that the Organisation and its allies will be useful supporters in the fight against the Tigers. The parallels with South Lebanon are inescapable. There the Israelis hoped that by arming Christians they would, somehow, help defeat the Shi'ites. Here the Sinhalese majority seem to think that fringe Tamil groups can be manipulated in the fight against the Tigers..." [Sunday Times - 25 October 1987]

"But on the evidence last week in Trincomalee, many Tamils still view the Tigers as their only defence against Sinhalese domination. Many young Tamils regard the Tigers stand in Jaffna as heroic, even though it cost so many innocent lives. The Indian and Sri Lankan strategy of arming Tamil groups opposed to the Tigers is also going badly wrong. Last week the Peoples Liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam, PLOT, was warned about using weapons, supplied to kill Tigers, to rob innocent civilians" [Sunday Times - 8 November 1987]


THILEEPAN'S FAST, ARREST OF TAMIL LEADERS AND THE INDIAN OFFENSIVE

It was India's attempt to manage the LTTE and secure the LTTE's unconditional support for an unprincipled Peace Agreement, that led to the LTTF- leader, Thileepan's fast in September 1987, the arrest by the Sri Lankan Army of leaders of the LTTE and the effort to send them to Colombo. It was an attempt which inevitably backfired and resulted in massive public support for the stand taken by the LTTE.

Then came the massacre of Sinhalese civilians in the Eastern Province - a convenient massacre which provided the rationale for the Indian offensive which was launched against the LTTE in October 1967. But who was responsible for this convenient massacre?

The New York Times reported on 12 October 1967:

"Refugees almost all of them Sinhalese from rural villages in the Trincomalee or Batticaloa areas, also said that in many cases Indian Peace Keeping Troops had stood by while settlements were attacked by Tamil guerillas... Several refugees said that they had recognised Indian Uniforms.. They also said that Tamil militants had often arrived in villages during curfew hours, sometimes in what appeared to be Indian Army vehicles...

A 38 year old refugee from the village of Mahindapura, six miles from Trincomalee, said that when he ran to a military outpost to report an attack on his village by about 40 armed men, he found the Sri Lankan officers he was seeking surrounded by Indian soldiers, who would not let him approach them.

The man, Wimalaratne, said when he protested, he was pushed back by an Indian soldier with the butt end of a rifle. He pulled back his shirt to reveal a bruised and swollen shoulder. Another refugee from Silmapura village said that as he and dozens of his neighbours fled a Tamil attack on their homes after dark last Monday, Indian troops in the path of their escape fired killing two people before letting the refugees pass..." [New York Times - 12 October 1987]

Again, London I.T.N reported an the 15th of October 1987 the words of a Sinhalese victim of attack in Trincomalee:

"When my residential area was attacked, I was on top of a tree taking shelter... The (attackers) first came and broke a fence and parked their vehicles alongside the road and the terrorists came and laid themselves behind the vehicles and the Indian soldiers gave bombs and petrol tanks to the Tamil attackers ... "

Are these statements made to independent news agencies true? If these statements are true is it suggested that the Indian army was assisting the LTTE - in this attack? These statements assume a special significance because the LTTE has consistently denied in engaging in these attacks.


INDIAN ARMY'S WIDESPREAD, INDISCRIMINATE & SUSTAINED ATTACK

Be that as it may, under cover of the climate created by the killings of the Sinhalese civilians, came India's offensive on the LTTE and the Tamil people. It was an Indian offensive in which many thousands of Tamils have died. Many more thousands have been rendered homeless. Every Tamil, without exception, can relate his own personal tale of loss and suffering.

Suffering is a great teacher. It will teach the Tamil people that a Peace Agreement that denied reason cannot bring peace. Every Tamil can bring to bear his or her own testimony to support the truth of that which Eduardo Marino, an independent observer sponsored by International Alert and who visited Jaffna, summarized in a report in December 1987:

"Over a period of about twenty days, (in October and November 1967) the Indian Army's direct attack on LTTE positions, and defence from LTTE attacks, was coupled with the Indian Army's attack and storming of still unevacuated Jaffna - and many villages and settlements throughout the peninsula - with widespread (insofar as territory), indiscriminate (insofar as targeting) and sustained (insofar as intensity) artillery shelling.

Only less widespread, sustained and indiscriminate, there was air strafing from helicopter as well. It was not 'crossfire' that incidentally killed thousands of civilians. The majority were killed inside their houses and huts under shelling or were shot at random by the roads and on the streets.

A large number of people were 'only' wounded - yet many of them died in the absence of medical care, especially under the 24 hour curfew over a period of about one month to mid November. It was a combination of firing and shelling ... that made an estimated 175,000 families (that is about SUO,000 people) refugees...

The situation became grotesquely hopeless for many people in some areas: while the curfew was being rigorously enforced - that is with an order to shoot to kill pedestrians - the inhabitants were simultaneously ordered out of their houses into the outskirt concentrations - an absurd operational overlapping inevitably leaving a good number dead...

(the) consequences have included: material ruin for much of the population all over the province; physical and moral suffering for no less than 1 million people, including thousands of civilian casualties counting both killed and wounded...

On top of everything has been the 'unmilitary' or 'unsoldierly' side of events: wanton killings out of rage, reprisals against non combatants, looting of homes of middle and wealthier classes, soldiers assault of women, a murderous attack on the main hospital victimising both patients and medical personnel, and killing of a number of unarmed and disarmed guerrilla suspects without trial according to the Law of War...

the central fact is that the Indian Army attacked Jaffna and many other populated places throughout the Peninsula, shelling massively and indiscriminately rather than at the LTTE selectively.

Why did they do this? For three interrelated reasons - physically it is very difficult to target the LTTE as it is such a part of the Tamil population; secondly to 'soften' (Indian officers terminology) and thereafter controlling the whole of the population with a view to squeezing the LTTE out and thirdly to minimise casualties on the side of the Indian Army by maximising inactivity on the Tamil side ...

Following guerrilla dislodgment, the Indian Army occupied Jaffna, fortified their positions, searched for arms... To suggest that 'normalcy' has returned to Sri Lanka is to add lie to injury the 'normalcy' of absolute martial rule by India and the legality of Emergency Regulations in Sri Lanka..."

But the Indian High Commission in Sri Lanka would have had the world believe that the Indian Army was fighting with one hand tied behind its back. The Guardian of the 19th October 1987 reported:

"The spokeswoman of the Indian High Commission in Colombo said: 'The Indian peacekeeping force is fighting with one hand tied behind its back. It is carrying out this operation under severe constraints'. The constraints according to India are based on the army's reluctance to use its full fire power so as to spare civilian casualties. Thus the advancing troops have no air cover, and are only occasionally using heavy weapons to reduce Tiger defences".

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declared in the Lak Sabha on the 9th of November 1967:

"The IPKF were given strict instructions not to use tactics or weapons that could cause major casualties among the civilian population of Jaffna, who were hostages to the LTTE. The Indian Army have carried out these instructions with outstanding discipline and courage, accepting, in the process a high level of sacrifices for protecting the Tamil civilians".

The exemplary Indian Army fought with one hand tied behind its back and the result was that 100,000 Tamils became refugees in their own homeland. The exemplary Indian Army was sparing in its use of heavy artillery, but sustained artillery shelling destroyed more than 50,000 homes in the Jaffna Peninsula. And Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi would have his members of Parliament believe that the Indian Army acted with 'outstanding discipline and courage' accepting sacrifices 'for protecting Tamil civilians'.


INDIAN ARMY'S WAR CRIMES

Derek Brown reporting from Colombo declared in the Guardian of the 21st of October 1987:

'The Indians have insisted throughout the 11 day offensive that they have used little artillery and no air cover to minimise civilian casualties. That claim was sagging yesterday under a heavy, and remarkably uniform, weight of evidence from refugees and the few scraps of independent confirmation coming out of the Jaffna peninsula.

The infantry advance, the student said, was preceded by a systematic artillery barrage. He had heard heavy guns firing daily, and had seen two woman killed by tile washing well in the Hindu Ladies College, one of the main refugee camps where thousands have sought shelter from the fighting. '

The people have no food but they are not worried about that. Even if they are starving, they worry only about security. They have no cover from the shelling' he said. He also flatly denied the Indian claim that there had been no air strikes. he had seen helicopters and fixed wing aircraft of the Sri Lankan airforce attacking with bombs and machine guns. The Sri Lankans, indeed, have more or less openly admitted that their aircraft were used last week, but they have insisted that the operations were only an the direct request of the Indians..."

The exemplary Indian Army was assisted in its efforts by the equally exemplary Sri Lankan armed forces. Michael Hamlyn reported in the Times of the same date:

"A senior Sri Lankan security source admitted last night what had previously only been rumoured - that despite Indian protestations about their self denial of air cover during operations, on one occasion, air cover had been provided by the Sri Lankans at the Indians' urgent request. It happened when a group of commandos had been air dropped into an unsecured landing ground north of Jaffna and suffered heavy casualties.

The Indians needed instant help, and the Sri Lankans brought up helicopters to give covering machine gun fire to an armoured rescue. A recording of radio messages during these operations smuggled out of the north and circulating in the capital makes it clear that the Indians and Sri Lankans were working close together"

International Herald Tribune reported on 21 October 1987:

"India forbids journalists from entering the combat zone, and no independent confirmation of the situation in Jaffna was available... Reports from officials and refugees said two thirds of the city's 150,000 residents either  fled or sought refuge in schools, Hindu temples and public buildings.."

Simon Freeman reported from Jaffna in the Sunday Times on 25 October 1987:

"(in Mannar) we heard the familiar stories from Tamil refugees from Jaffna. Dr. B.B. Easwarai, 27, who had fled the town two days earlier, said that large sections of Jaffna's main hospital had been destroyed by shelling. Dozens of bodies of men, women and children lay rotting in the mortuary.

Phillip Constantine,26, another refugee, said that one Tamil family had been executed by the Indians by having a tank run over then. Mannar like many areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka, has been devastated by almost a decade of fighting between the Tigers and the Sri Lankan army and now, the Indians.

Three months ago, when the Indians arrived to act as peace keepers, the local Tamils greeted the Indians as saviours. But as one Sri Lankan police officer told me, they now regard them with the same contempt as they once did the Sri Lankan police and army.."

When questioned about atrocities committed by the Indian Army, the Chief of Operations of the Indian Army cheerfully admitted that some Indian soldiers may 'have cracked under the strain':

"Kalkat, who is chief of operations of the Indian Army s headquarters in Madras... denied that his troops had committed atrocities. But it would not be surprising if some Indian soldiers had cracked under the strain of house to searching knowing that every building could be booby trapped or mined ...

…While senior Indian officers were talking of trapping and encircling the guerrillas, a group of foreign journalists, who had been smuggled into the peninsula by the Tigers, early last week, were returning to Colombo, with graphic tales of the Tigers bravery, organizational skills and support among the civilian population" [Sunday Tines - 25 October 1967]

Derek Brown reported from Jaffna in the Guardian on 27 October:

"...Jaffna is a broken and silent place of refugees clustered in churches and temples among empty roads. The area behind the Fort bears all the signs of two savage campaigns, first by the Sri Lankan army and now by the Indians. It is the Tigers who seem to have won the battle for hearts and minds ... though they wanted peace more than anything, the Tigers were 'their' boys and the Indians were outsiders ...

…Last Thursday, he (a refugee) said that he had been ordered from has nearby house by Sikh soldiers, who were apparently clearing the area before an offensive. One of the soldiers struck him and when his daughter protested, she too was beaten. Another old man told how his daughter had been killed when she returned to the family home to fetch her jewelry... a middle aged woman had half a leg missing - blown off by an Indian shell. A 14 year old girl clutched a stomach wound. A young woman with a blood soaked plaster an her leg said she had been unconscious when Indian soldiers 'liberated' the hospital last week. She was certain that the Tigers had not been in occupation at the time, as the Indians claimed .."

Bruce Palling reported from Colombo in the Independent on 22 October 1987:

"The (Indian) spokeswoman said that Indian forces had not entered nor touched Jaffna Hospital. But a report from a local correspondent who recently returned from the Jaffna peninsula, said it was hit at least seven times earlier this weak"

Simon Freeman reported in the Sunday Times:

"Tens of thousands of refugees are living in appalling conditions in makeshift camps in Jaffna, according to a senior Sri Lanka Red Cross official, despite claims by the government of President Junius Jayawardene and the Indian Army that the town is returning to normal...it is a ghost town. The streets are deserted. Thousands of people are living in temples because they are afraid to go back to their homes.

They have no electricity. They need everything - clothes, medicine, even candles and matches. many buildings have been destroyed. I saw three or four dead bodies on the streets ... 20,000 refugees share three or four toilets... It is a similar story in the Tamil eastern coastal provinces... hundreds of buildings in Trincomalee have been destroyed... the countryside is just as ravaged as the towns. He (the Red Cross Official) said that he was describing what he had seen as accurately as possible in the hope that international publicity would help the victims.." [Sunday Times - 8 November 1987]

Eduardo Marino reported to International Alert in December 1987:

"Indian intelligence services in Tamil Nadu, and the IPKF in Sri Lanka, have been making use of the rivalry and violent bickering between the LTTE and other militant groups. Moreover India has obviously exacerbated the intra Tamil militant conflict by rewarding materially - offering to do it politically in future as well - the assistance received from (other groups) to identify LTTE members living underground with the population, and also in refugee camps - a process of identification that the recently arrived Indian soldiers cannot do ...

…the Tamil people by and large seem to resent such fratricidal mercenarisation of their youngsters... also information gathering tactics such as the use of relief and recourse to mercenerisation suggests that the population has not been volunteering information to the Indian Army, which in turn may suggest either or both of two things: that by and large the Tamil population has turned, if only passively, against the Indian Army, and that popular support for the LTTE is more solid and widespread than anywhere seems to want to acknowledge"


INDIAN ARMY SETS ABOUT RAPING TAMIL WOMEN

The Indian Army concerned as it was to maintain friendly relations with the Tamil people, set about raping them as well. On the 15th of January 1988, the Sri Lanka Sun reported that four members of this exemplary Indian army which had one of its arms tied behind its back, had been court-martialed for rape:

"The Indian Army has court-martialed four of its men serving in the Jaffna peninsula for rape, a senior Indian military officer said here yesterday ... He also conceded that several complaints of theft had been made against Indian soldiers. 'The Indian army are not angels. We are not devils either. We are just human Brigadier Kahlon said when pressed for details. 'Rape happens even in the West'."

But Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declared in the Lok Sabha on the 9th of November 1987:

"I place on record the Government's very deep appreciation of the dedication and high moral standards with which the Indian armed forces have conducted their operations in Jaffna...."

The Indian armed forces continued to act with these 'high moral standards' in January 1988 as well. On the 19th of January 1987 , the Sri Lanka Sun reported that:

"Two Indian soldiers serving in Batticaloa are to be court-martialed for rape, authoritative sources in Batticaloa said yesterday... The two soldiers to be court-martialed, allegedly raped two girls during a cordon and search operation at Ariyampathi on Friday".

That was in mid January 1988 - not in the thick of the battle for Jaffna, where they may have 'cracked under strain' but in the Eastern Province, more than two months later. And in February, the Tamil people were threatened with a battle for Batticaloa - presumably on the lines of the battle for Jaffna - a battle for Batticaloa by an Indian Army with one hand tied behind its back - disciplined and with high moral standards - not angels but humans like the rest of us.


WHAT DID THE INDIAN ARMY SEEK TO ACHIEVE?

But faced with that which the Indian Army has done in our homeland and that which it seeks to do, let us ask what is it that the Indian Army seeks to achieve by this offensive against the Tamil people - an offensive which has gathered momentum, and which has not stopped. As a reasonable people let us listen to that which the Indian government says are the reasons for its onslaught.

The Indian government has issued thousands of leaflets in English and in Tamil to the people of Jaffna stating the reasons for the offensive. What does the Indian government say? One of the leaflets declares -

 

"The Indo Sri Lankan Agreement of 29 July 1987 serves the interests of Tamils and gives them the powers to administer both Northern and Eastern Provinces.

All LTTE demands regarding the Interim Administration Council were agreed to. Despite this, the LTTE leaders have been obstructing the implementation of the Agreement. This in turn has resulted in delay in return of peaceful conditions and return and rehabilitation of refugees to their lands and homes.

These (LTTE) leaders are bent upon serving their own personal interests and are NOT bothered about the Tamil people

The present disturbed situation in Jaffna is the doing of the LTTE who has precipitated this to serve their vested interests. IPKF all along has been maintaining a peaceful approach hoping that good sense would dawn on the LTFE who would accept the democratic approach of bringing normalcy in the entire Northern and Eastern Provinces by implementing the Indo Sri Lankan Agreement.

Realising the selfish interests of the LTTE leadership and the miseries that they are causing to the Tamil population for no fault of theirs, the IPKF is determined to deal firmly with then.

We therefore appeal to the Tamil population not to provide support to the activities of the LTTE and assist the IPKF to restore normalcy in your strife torn areas at the earliest.

India being the guarantor of the implementation of the Agreement, assures the Tamils that their interests shall be looked after."


THE 'UNSELFISH' CONCERN OF INDIA

The position of the Indian Government is clear. The Indian government seeks to deal 'firmly' with the LTTE which it says is not even 'bothered' about the Tamil people. The indiscriminate, widespread and sustained shelling which rendered 50,00 Tamils homeless was due to the unselfish concern that the Indian Army had for the Tamil people.

Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi declared at a public meeting in Tamil Nadu on the 21st of December 1987: "The LTTE represents no one but itself" and that it is a "small outfit of 1500 to 2000 persons" [Sun - 22nd December 1987].

The fourth largest army in the world, with around 35,000 troops on the ground in Sri Lanka, continued to struggle for days against this 'small outfit', 'which represented nobody but themselves', and which did not have the support of the Tamil people.

The Indian Government showered the Tamils of Jaffna with thousands of leaflets calling upon them not to support the LTTE - which, according to the Indian Government did not have the support of the Tamil people anyway.

What does reason tell us? Reason tells us that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was simply trying to diffuse the reaction of Tamils in Tamil Nadu - a reaction to a merciless attack by the Indian Army on the Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka. Reason tells us that the Indian Army was engaged in implementing an Agreement which according to Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi 'had met some of India's important security concerns' but which denied reason to the Tamil people.

In its efforts to save the Tamil people from the LTTE, it would seem that the Indian Government echoed the sentiments of a Sri Lankan Minister who declared to the London Times that 'ideally, they would like to see eight of the top leaders of the LTTE wiped out'.

"A Sri Lankan minister said last night that ideally, they would like to see eight of the top leaders of the LTTE wiped out. 'Then we should be left with only a residual terrorist problem' he said. But if one of the eight escapes we shall be back to the hit and run tactics again, and we shall be in a situation like that in northern Ireland'.

He named the eight as Pirabaharan, the leader, and K. Mahendrarajah his second in command, Soosay, Yogi, Santosan Master (so called because he is a school teacher), Newton, Karuna and Tilaka, a leading theoretician of the movement. He also named Anton Balasinghatn, who has for several years had been the chiefspokesman of the movement in Madras in South India.' [Times - 21 October 1987]

Bruce Palling reported the Independent on 22 October 1987:

"Other cabinet ministers, notably the Minister for National Security, Lalith Athulathmudali, have said privately that they want to exclude the Tigers totally from the interim provincial councils to be established under tile terms of tile- peace agreement".

But according to the Indian government it is the LTTE which is selfish. India is a self less guarantor of the interests of the Tamil People - a self less guarantor who at the same times seeks to secure its geo political interests in the Asian region.

And so, the Indian government seeks to 'deal firmly' with the LTTE by killing them if necessary, by capturing their arsenals and ammunition depots. Again, since no 'low cost options' were available, it was prepared to shell Tamil homes and strafe them from the air as well. By doing all this the Indian Government seeks to impose the Indo Sri Lankan Peace accord on Tamil people - an Agreement which according to the Indian Government 'best serves the interests of Tamils and gives them the powers to administer both Northern and Eastern Provinces'. The Chief of Staff of the Indian Army declared in December 1987 that this will be done 'at any price'.


WHAT DOES REASON SAY?

But what does reason say? Does the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement 'serve the interests of the Tamil people' as the Indian Government claims or does the Agreement serve the interests of the Indian government, as reason tells us?

Does the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement 'go beyond anything that the Tamils have put forward' as the Indian Government claims or does the Agreement fail to go even as far as the Bandaranaike Chelvanayagam Pact, as reason tells us?

Does the Indo Sri Lanka Agreement 'look at almost every single problem of the Tamils' as the Indian Government claims, or does the Agreement fail to address itself to the central issues of the struggle which were crystallised at Thimpu, as reason tells us?

Was it that the LTTE was not 'bothered about the Tamil people' as the Indian Government claims, or was it that it was India which was not bothered about the legitimate interests of the Tamil people when it sought to secure its own geo political interests without first securing agreement an the central issues of the Tamil struggle?

Was it that the LTTE demands regarding the Interim Administration Council were conceded as the Indian Government claims or was it that the demands were conceded only after Thilleepan's fast and that too only after Thileepan's death, as reason tells us?

Again, why did the Indian Government wait till Thileepan's death to concede reason? And was it thereafter unhappy that it had been compelled to concede reason?

Was that why, it subsequently refused to intercede to prevent the transfer of 14 arrested LTTE leaders from Jaffna to Colombo? Was it that India was powerless to prevent this attempted transfer or was the transfer yet another attempt by the Indian Government to manage the LTTE and bend the LTTE to India's will?

Does anybody say that that which was stated in thousands of leaflets showered on the Tamil people by the Indian government that the leaders of the LTTE 'are bent on serving their own personal interests and are not bothered about the Tamil people' is a statement of truth from the land of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi?

Or is it the truth that it was the LTTE alone amongst all the militant groups, which stood up firmly for the Tamil cause and for the Tamil people in a selfless heroism which will be remembered by thousands upon thousands of Tamil people for decades to come? What does reason say?


CENTRAL FAILURE OF ACCORD

Reason tells us that the central failure of the Indo Sri Lankan Peace Agreement was its refusal to recognise the political reality of Tamil nationalism. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi should have lent his powerful support to secure constitutional frames which recognised the existence of Tamil nationalism rather than to a Peace Agreement which sought to deny its political force.

Tamil nationalism cannot be snuffed out. It can be reasoned with. To reason with Tamil nationalism you must first recognise it. To recognise it you must first understand it. Tamil nationalism is not a mere intellectual concept. It would be lifeless if it were. Neither is it the expression of emotion alone. It would not be sustained for long if that were true.

Nor is it a matter merely of a people securing food clothing and shelter and their material conditions of existence. Because, that would deny to Tamil nationalism its rich cultural heritage. Tamil nationalism is all these - and more. It is all these together as an integrated whole - an integrated whole which is greater than the sum of its constituent parts - and an integrated whole which has taken shape through a process of opposition and differentiation.

Every inside has an outside. It was continued Sinhala discrimination during a time period of several decades, which consolidated the growth of Tamil nationalism. That which was treated separately, became separate.

It is when you begin to understand all this that you will also understand the sacrifices and the suffering undergone by the Tamil people and the militant movement in the name of the Tamil nation - understand the martyrdom of Thileepan who fasted for more than ten days without food or water, and who gave his life to the Tamil nation - understand the answering response from thousands of Tamils and understand the increasing togetherness of the Tamil people.

It is when you understand all this that you will also understand the growing political force of Tamil nationalism and its power to direct and influence the conduct of thousands.


A SPECTRE IS HAUNTING THE INDIAN SUB CONTINENT

It would seem that a spectre is haunting both the Sri Lankan Government and the Indian Government - the spectre of Tamil nationalism. And in their fear they are hugging each other. And if both the Indian Government and the Sri Lankan Government are hugging each other in fear of the political force of Tamil nationalism, then clearly it is a political force which must be reckoned with.

Tamil nationalism is not without power and influence. Tamil nationalism will not quietly go away and disappear from the political arena merely because the Indian government and the Sri Lankan government refuse to recognise its existence. Selvarajah Yogachandran's words in a musty court house in Colombo when ha was sentenced to death in 1962 continue to be relevant - 'You may take my life, but for the life of each Kuttimuni you take, there will be ten more who will be born'.

Neither will Tamil nationalism disappear in the world arena, merely because today both the Soviet Union and the United States have supported an Indo Sri Lanka Peace Agreement which fails to recognise the political reality of Tamil nationalism. Both the Soviet Union and the United States may take the view today that the stability of the Indian region will be secured by supporting Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's government.

But, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's government will secure stability in the Indian region only if it has the strength to openly recognise that both India and Sri Lanka are multi national states - and only if it uses that strength to put into place constitutional structures which reflect that political reality.

By all means let us support India if it is willing to lend its powerful support to secure a constitutional structure in Sri Lanka which reognises the political force of Tamil nationalism. By all means let us support the endeavours of the Indian Government if its endeavours are based on the recognition that the long term political stability of India cannot be achieved without securing the legitimate interests of the Tamil people as crystallised in the Thimpu Declaration. By all means let us strengthen Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi if that is what he seeks to achieve.

The Tamil people do not take an exaggerated view of nationalism. The Tamil people are not chauvinists. Nations do not exist by themselves. They coexist with other nations. The question is: an what terms? The Thimpu Declaration set out a reasoned and principled framework within which the Tamil nation and the Sinhala nation may live in Sri Lanka. And today, the Indo Sri Lankan Peace Agreement cannot achieve its stated aim of securing 'peace and normalcy' in Sri Lanka by denying reason to the Tamil people.


THE WAY FORWARD

The way forward at this critical juncture in the Tamil struggle is clear. Reason tells us that it is by strengthening the capacity of the LTTE to represent the Tamil people that the Tamil cause will be furthered.

The words of Sri Sabaratnam, the leader of TELO, in Madras in August 1985 continue to have their significance. He said "You know, there are two types of power one, 'thongura' power, where you seek to derive power by hanging on to some one above and the other, 'makkal' power, power that you derive from the support of your own People: 'thongura' power is nothing because you are powerless to do anything for your people. The only power which is true power is that which accrues to you when you serve your people.'

Nadarajah Thangathurai, Selvarajah Yogachandran and Sri Sabaratnam were brave and honest humans whose commitment to the Tamil cause was unquestioned. But neither their memory nor the cause for which they gave their lives, will be furthered by quisling Tamil groups engaged in a sectarian search for revenge and who thereby serve not the Tamil people but who at best, may secure some crumbs from their masters table for themselves and their hangers on.

Today, upon the LTTE has fallen the heavy and onerous duty of mobilising the strength and support of the Tamil people around the Thimpu declaration. If that is what our reason tells us, what does our heart say? Our hearts will tell us: let us not at this critical juncture let down thousands and upon thousands of our brothers and sisters who have had the courage to stand up for that which was right. Let not history record that we as a people were found wanting in our commitment to support that which reason tells us is right.

If the struggle of the Tamil people is an appeal to reason, then let us also recognise that we cannot mobilise our strength by denying the force of reason amongst ourselves. We cannot go forward by annihilating those with whom we may disagree. Democracy is not an useful cliché to be uttered from platforms - it is only through the practice of democracy that the resources of a people can be mobilised.

The passive acquiescence of the Tamil people yielded to the reaction and the heroism of the militant movement. But out of that militant response has come the purified stand to which Mahatma Gandhi gave his life and which Thileepan of the LTTE exemplified.

True non violence requires even greater courage than violence. It required more than ordinary courage for Thileepan to renounce violence and to say with Mahatma Gandhi: 'yes, I am prepared to give my life for my people but there is no cause for which I prepared to kill'.

A people who have gone through an armed struggle, become strong. They are also purified and perhaps the time will come when the Tamil people as a people will have the strength to follow the path that Thileepan has shown. Let us reason with each other to unite and let us unite around reason - and it is only then, that we shall acquire the strength to translate our words into deeds.

Let us as a people stand up together in support of the Thimpu Declaration and let us strengthen the capacity of the LTTE to represent the Tamil people and give coherence and direction to the Tamil national struggle.


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