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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 971

Rise of the Global Tamil Forum; Ominous signs for Sri Lanka and India

By Raj Gonsalkorale

The Global Tamil Forum (GTF) is on the march and it appears to have received the blessings of the USA and UK, and many European countries. The GTF used to hide its true intentions behind the façade of encouraging a peaceful, democratic solution to the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.

This was reported in the Asian Tribune (Global Tamil Forum (GTF) endorses separate state in Sri Lanka: U.S. & U.K. behind GTF by Daya Gamage, 2nd March 2010)

This façade has now been lifted with the declaration made by the GTF at their conference in the UK at which they adopted a resolution calling for a separate State for Tamils in Sri Lanka, and recognizing the LTTE as the authentic representatives of the Tamil people. The UK government, by sending its Foreign Secretary to address this Forum, the Prime Minister himself meeting the hierarchy of the GTF, and the US government by sending congratulatory messages to the Forum, have both endorsed the resolutions passed by the GTF.

As a consequence of this recognition by the USA and the UK, the Tamil Trans National government launched by some LTTE supporters is now approaching reality.

The Tamil separatist agenda, on this occasion backed by the USA and UK, has always been the sole objective of a large section of the Tamil Diaspora and their terrorist/military wing in Sri Lanka, the LTTE. It is no secret that this influential section of the Diaspora bank rolled the LTTE and the war with the Sri Lankan armed forces.

For the moment, this Diaspora has opted to change tactics and engage in an international political campaign to further their agenda. But for how long? There is no way that this agenda of the GTF, which is the creation of a separate State within Sri Lanka, and the resurgence of the LTTE by political means, will see fruition within Sri Lanka. The question has to be asked therefore as to how long it will take before the Diaspora shifts gear back to terrorism and possibly war to achieve their objectives.

It is time that all Sri Lankans living in Sri Lanka, irrespective of their ethnicity, take serious note of these ominous developments. The reason being that it is those who live in the country who will suffer the consequences of inaction and indifference and not those who are living very comfortably overseas and manipulating those living in Sri Lanka. Those who are just trying to recover from the consequences of 30 years of similar action taken by the Diaspora and the LTTE, will be the ones who will never be able to raise their heads as the Diaspora will be there waiting to beat them to submission, for them to suffer again and again.

The actions of the GTF have and will harden the attitudes of a minority amongst the Sinhala people, and they will attempt to influence the political decision making process in the country and make the country more Hawkish in character as regards its approach to the ethnic issue and tolerance of dissent.

However, an overwhelming majority of Sinhala people living in Sri Lanka will be protective of their fellow citizens, their legitimate rights, and will make sure no harm comes to any other citizen because of the actions of the Tamil Diaspora or any hawkish elements amongst the Sinhala people. However, it would not take many ardent nationalists, whose attitudes are being hardened by the actions of the GTF, to vent their feelings against some of their fellow citizens, and create a situation that will be very detrimental and embarrassing for the country, and which will play right into the hands of the GTF.

This is exactly the expectation of this influential section of the Tamil Diaspora.

It is their avowed objective to act as catalysts to set one against the other in Sri Lanka and create disturbances like in 1983 in order to draw the attention of the USA, UK and some European countries, and to demonstrate that Sinhala and Tamil people cannot live together as Sri Lankans.

Such a despicable black victory should never be given to this section of the Tamil Diaspora that helped create 1983 and which has since funded the deaths of so many Sri Lankans, Tamils, Muslims as well as Sinhalese.

All Sri Lankans must be vigilant to make sure no seeds of terrorism or separatism are ever allowed to take root in the country. The way to do this is not by treating Tamils living in Sri Lanka as potential terrorists or separatists.

There are two sustainable ways of making sure Sri Lanka defeats not only this influential section of the Tamil Diaspora, but even their supporters in rich and powerful countries like the USA, UK and some European countries. One is by fast tracking a solution to the ethnic issue that is acceptable to all communities living in Sri Lanka, and the second, is for Tamils, both within the Diaspora and also within Sri Lanka, and the Sinhalese, both within and without, at an individual as well as collective level, to reconcile their differences and develop a better understanding of each others fears, hopes, cultural and linguistic issues, and other areas where differences exist. These two approaches are inter dependent and the sustainability of a solution will be dependent on working successfully on both approaches.

As a consequence of such a solution which has a grass roots bearing, and not a top down one, all communities should be able to feel they can live peacefully, they must all feel secure to live amongst each other in any part of the country, they must all feel equal, they must all feel they and their children have equal opportunities to education, jobs, health and all other services, they must feel they all have a stake in national governance and fashioning the future of the country, and they must all be treated with dignity.

Criminals thrive in environments of inequality, mainly of wealth. Similarly, the Diaspora blood hounds will thrive in an environment of ethnic tensions brought about by inequality, insecurity and indignity. Removal of these from the environment will deprive the blood hounds of oxygen to survive and they will die a natural death. Failure to do so will have the opposite effect, and this is the message that those living in Sri Lanka and their political representatives as well as the civil society must learn and come to terms with.

Sri Lankans a must find a solution for people who are living in the country, not for those who are not. The fruits of a solution are for those who will suffer if a solution is not found. Sri Lankans living in Sri Lanka are not puppets and therefore they do not need puppeteers. On no account should Sri Lanka permit any citizen to be harmed by another because of their ethnicity. If this is allowed to happen, Sri Lankans will be behaving like puppets, with puppeteers deciding what they would be doing.

The rise of the GTF must surely send shivers down the spine of India as well. After all, the real Tamil homeland is in India, not in Sri Lanka, and they only have limited independence. It is worth considering whether the longer term objective of the GTF is only to have a separate State for Tamils in Sri Lanka, or whether they envision a greater Tamil homeland encompassing the State of Tamil Nadu as well.

The support extended to the GTF by very senior administration officials in the USA, and by the top politicians in the UK, gives food for thought about the real intentions of both the USA and UK, and whether their objective is the destabilization of the emerging regional power India, rather than the comparatively miniscule Sri Lanka.

These international developments need to be watched carefully and a bi partisan approach taken in Sri Lanka to chart the country’s long term strategy to counter the fall out from such meddling in the region. It is neither in the interest of the current Sri Lankan administration or a future one, if there is destabilization within Sri Lanka, and within India. Issues arising from the rise of the GTF are therefore not a political foot ball that should be kicked around by the two major political combinations in Sri Lanka.

Chartering a sound and intellectually driven foreign policy should therefore be done with care and much thought. Developing and managing such a policy should not be left to people with a mentality of village thugs, and indeed thugs who have managed to wield political power because of their natural bent and money.

Both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Opposition Leader Mr Ranil Wickremasinghe, two key persons in Sri Lankan politics today, must work out a joint strategy on foreign policy, in particular, to fashion a long term strategy to manage the very strong possibility of destabilization within Sri Lanka and India because of the rise of the GTF. They must keep in mind that the GTF is only a vehicle for others to ride on. They must know that the real danger comes from those riding in it.

- Asian Tribune -

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