oral intervention on
6 August, at the 50th sessions of the Sub-Commission merits careful consideration.
Mr.Eide is one of 26 experts
serving on the UN Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection
of Minorities. He has also taken an active interest in the conflict in the island for more
than 15 years.
In 1984, (at the
Consultation on Ethnic Violence, Development and Human Rights in Utrecht, Netherlands,
sponsored amongst others by the United Nations University) Mr. Eide was the Rapporteur of
a working group, chaired by Rodolfo Stavenhagen, to examine a comparative research
programme directed to understanding ethnic conflict and its impact on development and
human rights. That Consultation in Utrecht was the precursor to the establishment of
International Alert, with an Emergency Committee on Sri
Lanka to address the resolution of the conflict in the island.
Mr.Eide begins by declaring:
"The Commission and ECOSOC has
consistently mandated us, since 1968, to bring to the attention of the Commission any
situation which the Sub-Commission has reasonable cause to believe reveals a
pattern of gross violations of human rights in accordance with paragraph 6 of the
Commission resolution (XXIII). This is what we are examining under this agenda item....
Our role should not be to point fingers based on superficial review of selective facts,
but to contribute to a deeper process of investigation with a view to make a constructive
contribution towards the realisation of human rights for those who live in that
It is wholly appropriate that Mr.Eide should give expression to these
views in the historic year of the Rome
Statute of the International Criminal Court, with its proclaimed goal of Peace
and Justice and his views will, ofcourse,
find a ready acceptance amongst the Tamil people to whom
human rights and humanitarian law have acquired an existential significance during the
past several decades. As the International Federation of Tamils
has pointed out, the building
blocks for peace are the building blocks of justice. Mr.Eide's comments at
the UN Sub Commission on 6 August, may be usefully evaluated by examining the extent to
which his remarks secure justice and further the peace process in the island of Sri Lanka.
Mr.Eide is at pains to establish his non
partisan credentials - and perhaps, rightly so. He says:
"(There are those) here long enough to
remember that I, in 1983, was the first to criticise the government of Sri Lanka for its
lack of effective measures to investigate
the authors of the
massacres against Tamils in the summer of 1983, including the
killing of political prisoners in the Welikade prison.
I know also that many in Sri Lanka subsequently regretted that they did not listen to the
suggestions we then made, which were to take prompt actions to restore law and order, to
punish those responsible, and to involve the International Committee of the Red
That which Mr.Eide fails to point out
is that it was not so much that the Sri Lanka government did not
'listen' to the calls for 'effective measures to investigate' the massacres, but that the
Sri Lanka government dishonoured the pledges it had given after 'listening'.
Sri Lanka Ambassador, Mr.Tissa Jayakody, did promise the Sub Commission on the Prevention
of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities at Geneva on 22 August 1983:
"The Sri Lankan authorities....would leave no stone unturned to bring to justice
all those responsible for killings, violence and acts of destruction, no matter who they
were and regardless of their status, ideology or political alignments. There would be no
Furthermore, in its Note Verbale dated 30 January 1984, distributed to the delegates to
the 40th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in February 1984, the
Sri Lanka government continued to reiterate (and buy time):
"The events of July 1983 were caused by a minority of lawless elements in
particular circumstances. The guilty have been or are being punished and the
Government has initiated a complex and sensitive political process to deal with the
fundamental issues which led to the events of July 1983. In this context, the constructive
approach of the international community is to desist from any action or comment on the
situation in Sri Lanka."
The Sri Lanka government's culpability lies not simply in
its failure to investigate the 1983 massacres, nor for that matter, its failure to honour
the pledges that it had given in international fora, but in its actual involvement in the
genocide. Cabinet Minister S. Thondaman (who continued to serve in the Sri Lanka
government) remarked in an interview in the Illustrated Weekly of India on 18 December
''We all know who these people are. I am not naming them right now... How can any
action be taken against them? They are important people. They are part of this government,
just as I am. Behind all this are our own people... We all know them.''
Mr. Eide will not be unaware that seventy years after the massacre of around one
million Armenians in 1915 (on the orders of the Turkish government), the Permanent
Peoples Tribunal held a special hearing in Paris in 1985. The Tribunal's jury
included three Nobel Prize winners -Sean Macbride, Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Professor
George Wald. The Tribunal found that the charge of genocide that the Armenian people
brought against the Turkish authorities was established and declared:
'' The fundamental rights of this (Armenian) people are of direct concern to the
international community, which is entitled and duty bound to ensure that these rights are
respected, particularly when they are openly denied by one of its member states.''
In the Sri Lanka case, many Tamils may take the view that a fair minded examination of
the facts presented in Genocide'83, should have led
an independent expert, such as Mr.Eide, to conclude that, at the lowest, a prima
facie case exists to warrant an indictment for genocide against the Sri Lanka
authorities and that a lapse of 15 years should not prevent the guilty from being brought
But, Mr.Eide appears content to gloss over the happenings of Genocide'83 with the
remark 'that many in Sri Lanka subsequently regretted that
they did not listen to the suggestions we then made'. His comments ignore the
feelings of hundreds of thousands of Tamils who suffered during Black July 1983, (and
millions of other Tamils who have shared in the agony and the pain of their brothers and
sisters) and will be seen by many as an attempt draw a line under the heinous crimes
that were committed against the Tamil people 15 years ago.
Mr.Eide reinforces his approach by adding " but very much has changed since
1983" suggesting that Sinhala Sri Lanka has now mended its ways. He then
launches an unbridled attack on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam whose leadership,
according to him, "has developed an almost paranoid garrison mentality".
Mr.Eide's comments, coming as they do from an 'independent expert', raises several
For one thing, when speaking of the period subsequent to 1983, Mr.Eide makes no
reference to Sri Lanka's continuing record of
judicial killings, rape,
Amnesty's 1990 campaign against Sri Lanka's state
terror, and the food and medicine blockade.
He leads his listeners to infer that the only significant change since 1983, was the
emergence of the 'extremely militant' LTTE.
It cannot be that Mr.Eide as an 'expert' was unaware of Sri Lanka's
horrendous human rights record - a record which lead
53 non governmental
organisations to declare at the UN Commission for Human Rights in March this year:
"We are gravely concerned by the continued Sri Lanka-Tamil Eelam
war and by the increasing genocidal dimension of that war as evidenced by: (a) targeting
of the civilian population by the Sri Lankan forces; (b) epidemic proportions of
disappearances, torture, extra judicial killings, rape, arbitrary arrest and indefinite
detention of Tamil civilians; (c) a sweeping embargo in the North and East of subsistence
food and essential medicine in contravention of humanitarian law; (d) the existence of
more than 850,000 displaced persons living in appalling conditions at risk now of
starvation and death."
The question must be asked: why then has Mr.Eide not referred to these gross and
systematic violations of international law by Sri Lanka? Did Mr.Eide find it
embarrassing to raise these questions about Sri Lanka because a nominee of the Sri Lankan
government is also an expert member of the UN Sub-Commission and a colleague?
Mr.Eide states that the Sub Commission's efforts under Agenda Item 2 is only a part of
a larger endeavour and that 'most important' is the dialogue, at all levels including
'a dialogue between ourselves as experts representing
different cultures and traditions but united in our common concern for human rights'. Is
the nominee from Sri Lanka on the UN Sub-Commission a participant in
'dialogues' concerning Sri Lanka's violations of human rights and humanitarian law?
Mr.Eide's near abusive tone about the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, appears to echo
some of the statements made by Sri Lanka's present political leadership. As an
independent expert, Mr.Eide should, perhaps, have reflected on the views expressed by
India's ex Foreign Secretary Dixit (who is no
friend of the LTTE):
"The LTTE's emergence as the most dominant and effective politico-military force
representing Tamil interests was due to the following factors:
First, the character and personality of its leader V Prabhakaran who is disciplined,
austere and passionately committed to the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils's liberation.
Whatever he may be criticised for, it cannot be denied that the man has an inner fire and
dedication and he is endowed with natural military abilities, both strategic and tactical.
He has also proved that he is a keen observer of the nature of competitive and critical
politics. He has proved his abilities in judging political events and his adroitness in
responding to them.
Secondly, he has created a highly disciplined, and dedicated cadres, a manifestation of
which is inherent in what is called the 'cyanide cult.' Each regular member of the LTTE
carries a cyanide pill and is pledged to committing suicide rather than being captured by
The third factor is the cult and creed of honesty in the disbursement and utilisation
of resources. Despite long years spent in struggle, the LTTE cadres were known for their
simple living, lack of any tendency to exploit the people and their operational
The fourth factor has been the LTTE's ability to upgrade its political and military
capacities including technological inputs despite the constraints imposed on it by Sri
Lankan forces and later by India.
The fifth factor is a totally amoral and deadly violent approach in dealing with those
the LTTE considers as enemies.
The sixth factor is Prabhakaran's success in gathering around him senior advisers with
diverse political, administrative and technological capacities, which contributed to
effective training of his cadres, optimum utilisation of the military equipment which he
had, and the structuring of an efficient command and control system."
Mr.Eide prefers to make a blanket accusation against the LTTE:
"That movement (the LTTE) or particularly its leadership respects no human
rights. It engages in the most heinous crimes, using female, male and possibly even
child suicide bombers to create havoc and fear. Its killing is directed not only at
Sinhala enemies, including civilians, and their religious temples, but also against its
Tamil opponents including the courageous Tamil woman who was until recently the Mayor of
Jaffna until assassinated by the Tigers. Many Tamils, including those who are struggling
for a devolution of power and greater influence for the Tamils, live under constant threat
of assassination by the LTTE.... What baffles me is that there are still international non
governmental organisations who lend their support to this movement. They are then not
supporting the Tamil cause but an utterly undemocratic movement unable to contemplate
peace in any form"
Here, let it be said that it is not the case that the LTTE have not, on occasions,
violated the humanitarian laws of armed conflict. Admittedly, an armed resistance
movement is not a carte blanche to kill. But it would have been more appropriate
for Mr.Eide, as an expert, to have sifted fact from propaganda and addressed the separate
categories of alleged violations of humanitarian law by the LTTE. Truth is often the first
casualty in a war and Sri Lanka's continued media
censorship is proof enough of that. One instance of Sri Lanka's disinformation
campaign was proven in 1990.
recently, the Voice of America reported on 28
"The Sri Lankan Government is waging a propaganda war to complement
its military offensive.... truth has become one of the war's victims. Media observers say
Sri Lankan television has begun resorting to disinformation in its reporting on the war
against Tamil Tiger guerrillas...
....The military press office on Saturday issued a statement that the
Tamil Tigers had used gas on troops, implying it was a chemical weapons attack. Only later
did military sources admit the gas in question had been tear gas.
The government continues
to ban reporters
from the northern war zone. The state information department hands out video and still
photographs produced by the Sri Lankan army. Information is provided by fax.
The government is also forbidding reporters to visit camps
where hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled to escape the fighting.
Sri Lanka media are subject to military censorship.
The local cable operator even blacks out stories about Sri Lanka that appear on foreign
Again, as an expert, Mr.Eide may have addressed the harsh reality that as wars
have become more and more 'total', it has become increasingly difficult to separate the
contributions of 'civilians', the 'para military', and the 'military' to the war effort
and the distinction between combatants and non combatants has been observed, more often
than not, in the breach.
The German blitz on London and the night time Allied bombings of Bremen during the
Second World War exposed some of the hypocrisy behind the stated concerns about
'humanising' armed conflicts. And, as Hiroshima and
Nagasaki showed, it is military necessity that in the end, prevails over humanitarian
considerations. The stated justification for the use of the atomic bomb was that it
prevented the huge casualties that US military forces would have suffered if a sea borne
invasion of the Japanese mainland was launched - not to put too fine a point on the
matter, the projected casualties of US combatants (i.e.US armed forces) were balanced
against the clearly foreseen casualties of Japanese non combatant civilians.
At the recently concluded Rome deliberations on the International Criminal Court,
India's attempt to include
the use of nuclear weapons as a crime against humanity failed. The nuclear bomb is the
ultimate weapon of terror - it makes no distinction between combatants and non combatants
and it is intended to terrorise and intimidate the enemy into submission. The user
justifies the use of the nuclear bomb by relying on the ends that the user seeks to
achieve - freedom and justice. The justice of the ends seems to influence the 'morality'
of the means employed to achieve those ends. Means and ends appear to be
inseparable in more ways than one.
Again, Mr. Eide makes no reference to Sri Lanka's refusal to even
admit to the existence of an 'armed conflict' in the island. Significantly,
Sri Lanka has also abstained from voting for the recent Rome Statute of the International
Criminal Court which made provision for individuals and governments to be punished for
crimes against humanity, serious violations of the humanitarian law of conflict and
In regard to the allegation that the LTTE has attacked Sinhala 'civilian
settlers' on the boundaries of Tamil Eelam, there may be a need to consider that
which the LTTE declared in an open letter to the
Sinhala people in September 1991:
"The Sinhala people should know that the so called
state aided colonisation schemes within
Tamil areas having nothing to do with solving landlessness among the Sinhala poor. The
real aim of the Sri Lankan government is to use Sinhala settlers sometimes as a buffer,
and sometimes as a cutting edge, in its war of aggression against the Tamil nation.
The additional longer term purpose of these colonisation
schemes is to change the demography of the Tamil homeland and in this way, make the
Tamils a manageable minority in their own land.The Sri Lanka government has systematically
armed these settlers - some of them ex-convicts - and often uses them to attack Tamil
villagers in the surrounding areas.
Such actions, together with the
of the operations of the regular Sri Lankan army, have led our fighters to engage
these armed settlers, with consequences which, sometimes, have been admittedly
unfortunate and counter productive to our cause. ..
We appeal to the Sinhala poor not to become pawns in the
colonisation schemes which have been carefully designed by Sinhala
chauvinistic forces to sow the seeds of discord and create everlasting enmity between the
Tamil people and the Sinhala people."
Mr.Eide is critical of the actions taken by the LTTE against 'Tamil opponents' and he
lauds the 'courageous Tamil woman who was until recently the Mayor of Jaffna'. During the
second world war, there were some Norwegians who accepted office under German rule and
collaborated with the German army of occupation - the most notorious was, of course,
Quisling. These agents of the alien ruler, on the one hand, dispensed favours to sections
of the populace and on the other hand, helped to identify and eliminate those who resisted
alien rule. Some may have regarded Quisling as being 'courageous', but the vast
majority of Norwegians condemned Quisling as a traitor who put at risk the lives of those
who were struggling to rid their land of an alien occupying army.
Again, Mr. Eide, as an expert on the Sri Lanka situation, will not be be unaware that
the Sinhala authorities have recruited, from time to time, Tamils to act as informers and
identify those who continue to resist alien Sinhala rule. These
Tamil informers wear hoods with slits for them to see through
and shake or nod their head, as suspected Tamil supporters of the armed resistance are
paraded before them - and they have come to be known amongst the Tamil people as
'thalayattis' ('head shakers').
Having said that, it is equally true, that in the absence of an established judicial
system, a guerrilla movement will need to take care to ensure that any action
against a 'traitor' does in fact accord with the principles of natural justice - however
difficult that such an approach may sometimes appear to be for those on the ground,
engaged as they are in a daily battle for survival against an enemy with a great reservoir
of material resources. The responses of the LTTE to the activities of some Tamil elements
who are co-operating with the alien Sinhala ruler, suggest that it is mindful, on the one
hand, of the dangers posed by informers, and on the other hand, of the difficulties of
responding to such dangers, within the framework of a guerrilla movement without a stable
judicial system. But, that is not to say that the LTTE has always succeeded in its efforts
to address these issues.
These are matters which Mr.Eide, as an independent 'expert', may have usefully
commented upon. But Mr.Eide's failure to adopt a balanced approach is startling - as
startling, perhaps, as his bafflement that international non governmental
organisations still support the LTTE and the Tamil cause.
Mr.Eide goes on to say:
"In 1994, a new President was elected in Sri Lanka, and the government has
presented a package of devolution which
goes as far as
any government can possibly go. There is no doubt in my mind that the President is
genuine, and that many or probably most Tamils would be happy if the package could be
accepted. But the LTTE does not want it to happen."
Once again several questions arise. Was Mr.Eide unaware that the main Sinhala
opposition party, the UNP has not accepted the 'devolution package' and that President
Kumaratunga knows that the 'devolution package' cannot be passed into law
without UNP support? Again, Mr.Eide cannot be unaware of President Chandrika Kumaratunga's
own assessment of the extent of the devolution contemplated by the package:
"Defending the devolution package, (President Kumaratunga) said in no way would
it erode the supremacy of (the central) parliament... The President said that since
Policy Planning was a subject for the centre, the central government had a hold in every
subject a region handled... the President said, even if a Regional Council opposes, the
centre has the power to go ahead and allocate land for its purposes. The President also
moved to allay fears of a North-East merger saying that the government did not have any
idea of merging the North with the East." (Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times
reported on 20 August 1995)
Given all this, many Tamils will be baffled by Mr.Eide's conclusion that the
devolution package 'goes as far as any government can possibly go'. Surely, as an expert,
Mr.Eide will know that countries such as Switzerland, and the United States have
established structures that go much further than the so called 'devolution package' of
President Chandrika Kumaratunga. But, if that which he intended to say was
that the devolution package 'goes as far as any Sinhala government can possibly
go', then is it not the case that Mr.Eide has chosen to make a political assessment of
that which President Kumaratunga can do without herself losing power, instead of
fulfilling his functions as an expert and calling upon the parties to the conflict
to do that which is fair and just according to international norms?
Mr.Eide may have 'no doubt' in his mind that the Sri Lanka President is
'genuine' but hundreds of thousands of Tamils who
undergone torture and aerial bombardment at the hands of those who obeyed
the commands of the Sri Lanka President, may have their own views about the President's
'genuine' desire to recognise the existence of the Tamil people, as a people with a
homeland. Additionally, many Tamils may feel that Mr. Eide's pronouncement on
President Kumaratunga, falls outside the boundaries of his 'expertise' (and
therefore, his jurisdiction) as an expert member of the UN Sub-Commission.
Again, Mr.Eide may have his reasons for expressing the view that 'that many or probably
most Tamils would be happy if the (devolution) package could be accepted'. However, on the
last occasion that a relatively free general election was held in the Tamil homeland (and
that was in 1977) the Tamil people overwhelmingly supported
the election manifesto of the Tamil United
Liberation Front (TULF) which declared in unequivocal terms:
"... the TULF seeks in the General Election the mandate of the Tamil nation to
establish an independent, sovereign, secular, socialist State of Tamil Eelam that includes
all the geographically contiguous areas that have been the traditional homeland of the
Tamil-speaking people in the country. The Tamil nation must take the decision to establish
its sovereignty in its homeland on the basis of its right to self- determination. The only
way to announce this decision to the Sinhalese Government and to the world is to vote for
"The Tamil-speaking representatives who get elected through these votes while
being members of the National State Assembly of Ceylon, will also form themselves into the
National Assembly of Tamil Eelam which will draft a constitution for the state of Tamil
Eelam and establish the independence of Tamil Eelam by bringing that constitution into
operation either by peaceful means or by
direct action or
Five years later, in 1983, Tamil Members of Parliament who were
elected on this manifesto were ousted from their seats by the Sixth Amendment to the Sri
Lanka Constitution which the International Commission of Jurists later declared to be a
violation of Article 25 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights
- a Convention which Sri Lanka had ratified.
"...The key to its (the 6th Amendment's) effect is paragraph (1) which runs as
follows:- 'No person shall directly or indirectly, in or outside Sri Lanka, support,
espouse, promote, finance, encourage or advocate the establishment of a separate State
within the territory of Sri Lanka'. Anyone who contravenes that provision becomes liable
to the imposition of civic disability for upto 7 years, the forfeiture of his movable and
immovable property... the loss of his passport... the right to engage in any trade or
profession. In addition if he is a Member of Parliament, he loses his seat.
The freedom to express political opinions, to seek to persuade others of their merits,
to seek to have them represented in Parliament, and thereafter seek Parliament to give
effect to them, are all fundamental to democracy itself. These are precisely the freedoms
which Article 25 (of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights) recognises
and guarantees - and in respect of advocacy for the establishment of an independent Tamil
State in Sri Lanka, those which the 6th Amendment is designed to outlaw.
It therefore appears to me plain that this enactment constitutes a clear violation by
Sri Lanka of its obligations in international law under the Covenant...(Paul Sieghart:
Sri Lanka-A Mounting Tragedy of Errors - Report of a Mission to Sri Lanka in January 1984
on behalf of the International Commission of Jurists and its British Section, Justice,
The 6th Amendment continues in effect today and outlaws the expression of any opinion
in favour of an independent Tamil Eelam. Additionally the Sinhala army's
determination to impose its will on the Tamil people is exposed by
reports of mass graves in Jaffna. Many
independent experts and international non governmental organisations may conclude that
Mr.Eide's assessment of 'Tamil opinion' on President Kumaratunga's 'devolution package'
is fundamentally flawed and that if a free referendum is held in the Tamil homeland
today, support for an independent Tamil Eelam will be even more pronounced than it was in
Mr.Eide's approach becomes self evident in his final comments on the Sri Lanka
"At present, the LTTE is battling for the minds and the money of the expatriate
Tamil community. In order to continue its fruitless and endless war, the Tigers depend on
this external financial support from which to purchase weapons and other means. The
international community, the international NGOs and governments should now seek to
convince the Tamil communities in their respective countries that the way to achieve Tamil
human rights is through an accommodation based on equality for all in the island of
Sri Lanka, full respect for the cultures of the Sinhala, Tamils, Muslims and others,
and a devolution of power which makes it possible through peaceful democratic means
to ensure conditions for the survival and reproduction of the Tamil culture."
This is the same agenda that the government of Sri Lanka has also set itself -
that is to persuade NGOs and governments to 'convince' (or pressure) Tamil expatriates to
withdraw support for the LTTE. Mr.Eide speaks of "an accommodation based on
equality for all in the island of Sri Lanka" and "a devolution of power
which makes it possible, through peaceful democratic means to ensure conditions for the
survival and reproduction of the Tamil culture".
However, the struggle for Tamil Eelam is not about
devolution. Neither is it simply about 'ensuring conditions for the survival and
reproduction of Tamil culture'.
economics and land have fused in a political identity which is the Tamil Eelam
nation. It is this Tamil Eelam nation that is today struggling for freedom from
alien Sinhala rule. Mr.Eide may want to ask himself
Q. Why is it that in Sri Lanka, for five long decades since
'independence', we have always had a Sinhala Buddhist as the executive head of government?
A. Because, a Sinhala Buddhist nation masquerading as a multi ethnic Sri
Lankan nation, will always have a Sinhala Buddhist as executive head of government.
The ethnic divide is also a political divide. Peoples speaking different languages,
tracing their roots to different origins, and living in relatively well defined and
separate geographical areas, do not easily 'melt'. And in any event, a 'third world'
economy will not provide a large enough 'pot' for the 'melting' to take place. Given this
political reality, to continue to speak of 'an accommodation based on equality
for all' within the confines a single Sri Lankan state is to display the foolishness
of the naive or the trickery of the knave.
The formula of a 'multi ethnic plural society'
cherished by some experts to whom self determination and secession are anathema, seeks to
preserve in the island of Sri Lanka, the
territorial boundaries imposed (and later bequeathed) by the erstwhile British ruler.
It seeks to perpetuate the colonial legacy and encourage the continuing attempt to
replace British colonial rule with permanent Sinhala colonial rule. It
fails to address the simple question as to why it is that in Sri Lanka, for five long
decades since 'independence', we have always had a Sinhala Buddhist as the
executive head of government.
The words of John Stuart Mill in 1872 bear repetition yet again:
"Free institutions are next to impossible in a country
made up of different nationalities. An altogether different set of leaders have the
confidence of one part of the country and of another. ... Above all, the grand
and only effectual security in the last resort against the despotism of the government is
in that case wanting: the sympathy of the army with the people. Soldiers to whose
feelings half or three fourths of the subjects of the same government are foreigners, will
have no more scruple in mowing them down, and no more reason to ask the reason why, than
they would have in doing the same thing against declared enemies.(John Stuart Mill:
Considerations on Representative Government. London 1872)
This is not to say that two independent peoples may not sit together as
equals and structure a polity where the two peoples may associate with each other in
equality and in freedom. And to say that, is not to expose a 'garrison mentality'
but to assert the unfolding political reality of the
fourth world. Mr.Eide may want to reject that
reality - and, of course, he is entitled to his view.
But the truth is that the struggle for Tamil Eelam is not unique.
years after the end of the second world war in 1945, saw the break down of colonial
empires which had held sway for two centuries and more. But the colonial rulers also left
behind them artificial territorial boundaries - boundaries which had everything to do with
securing their hold over the territories that they had conquered and which had little to
do with securing the national identities of the peoples on whom they had imposed their
Undoubtedly, a time will come when the separate national identities of all the peoples
of the world, will be transcended by a greater unity. But today, those (including
perhaps, Mr.Eide) who deny the national identity of the people of Tamil Eelam, are rarely
prepared to give up their own. The people of Tamil Eelam cannot live in a world
which has not yet arrived - though they can certainly work towards it.
A true transnationalism will come only from nationalisms that have flowered and matured
- it will not come by the suppression of one nation by another. To work for the flowering
of the Tamil Eelam nation is to bring forward the emergence of a true transnationalism. A
true transnationalism will emerge only from a free association of nations.
Mr.Eide may want to pay heed to the words of Velupillai Pirabaharan
(rather than dismiss the LTTE leadership as suffering from an 'almost paranoid garrison
"We are not chauvinists. Neither are we lovers of violence enchanted with war. We
do not regard the Sinhala people as our opponents or as our enemies. We recognise the
Sinhala nation. We accord a place of dignity for the culture and heritage of the
Sinhala people. We have no desire to interfere in any way with the national life of the
Sinhala people or with their freedom and independence. We, the Tamil people, desire to
live in our own historic homeland as an independent nation, in peace, in freedom and with
Mr. Eide's stature as an expert will be enhanced, if he begins to address
the genuine interests that each of the parties to the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka,
seeks to protect. As a first step towards reconciliation, Mr.Eide may want to
recognise the existence of a separate Sinhala national identity and a separate Tamil
national identity; and then seek win-win answers to the conflict rather than join
Sri Lanka in the somewhat futile task of separating the Tamil people from the Liberation
Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Here, he may want to pay heed to the words of
General S.C. Sardesh Pande, IPKF Divisional Commander, Jaffna in his book
"I have a high regard for the LTTE for its discipline, dedication,
determination, motivation and technical expertise... I was left with the impression that
the LTTE was the expression of popular Tamil sentiment and could not be destroyed, so long
as that sentiment remained."
Mr.Eide may believe that the approach he has chosen to adopt is that which he would
call a 'constructive contribution towards the realisation of
human rights for those who live' in the island of Sri Lanka, but it should not
surprise him to find that many international non governmental organisations (and
millions of Tamils living in many lands) will have their own views about that which he is
seeking to do.