De-merger: Give Karuna the Eastern Council

by Dayan Jayatilleka
Mao Ze Dong, arguably the greatest military theorist of the 20th century and one of its finest philosophers, enjoined his followers to A?a??A?turn bad into good!A?a??A? The timing of the Supreme Court judgement was, as Dr Sarath Amunugama among others is reported to have said in Cabinet, not a good thing. But now that it has been rendered, and is in some senses irreversible A?a??a?? it is never a healthy thing for the executive or legislature to display scant regard for a Supreme Court decision – one has to make the best of it, and if possible turn it to good use. Just such a possibility has opened up with the reported comment of KarunaA?a??a??s TMVP welcoming the decision of the Supreme Court.

A?a??A?De-merger gives East a chance to decide its future says Karuna

The Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP), the political arm of the Karuna faction, says the de-merging of the North East gives the chance for the people of the East to decide their own future and not be A?a??A?political orphansA?a??A? anymore.

In a statement emailed to the Daily Mirror the TMVP said the rights and aspirations of the Eastern people were rejected under the guise of war and now that they have been given the chance to decide the fate of their own future, the de-merger should be welcomed.

A?a??E?Because of the war a certain section was at an advantage in the areas of political, security, education, employment and residence, creating unfairness to the eastern people. But now a full stop has been placed to that and the eastern people can elect their own representatives to address their problems. This is a victory they have got,A?a??a?? the TMVP statement said.

Now that the Supreme Court has decided to de-merge the North East, the TMVP says the country should respect the wishes of the Eastern people by accepting the decision which will in turn help the future of the country.A?a??A? ( Daily Mirror Oct 23, 2006)

While it is important not to let down the non-LTTE Tamil moderates, it is also important to note that they are not all of one mind, and that of them, those who militarily challenge the LTTE, those who are the objective allies or quasi allies of the Sri Lankan armed forces, those who have the military potential to defeat the Tigers, are the most important. Choices must sometimes be made, and if so, the priority must be accorded the Karuna faction.

It seems that the Karuna group sees an opportunity to liberate the Tamil people of the East from the North, in the Supreme Court decision. If a separate provincial council is set up for the east and an election is held, the TMVP stands an excellent chance of being elected and thereby wielding real power, authority and influence. Endowed with some degree of electoral legitimacy, it can act as a strong partner and ally of the Sri Lankan state, can be put forward as a stakeholder in the conflict, a new partner in the peace process and introduced to the outside world.

A Karuna dominated Eastern provincial council would permit the present bipolar balance to be transformed into a multipolar one with a new power centre arising in the east, countervailing the Tiger dominated north and what one of my ex-militant Tamil comrades who was recently in Havana and New York calls A?a??A?the arrogance of the Jaffna Tamils who think they are the Israelis of South Asia and the Tigers are the armed expression of this arroganceA?a??A?. An eastern council would permit the long standing zero-sum game to be transformed into a non-zero sum one.

Elections to an Eastern council would have one positive consequence: either the LTTE would have to commit its fighters to disrupting the election, thereby exposing them to Sri Lankan army, STF and K faction firepower, or it would have to conserve its cadres, thereby allowing the eastern council to be elected and established.

Cipro price at walmart A KarunaA?a??a??dominated Eastern council would achieve two positive results:

Myambutol price 1. It would enable Karuna to strengthen himself and expand his base, which in turn would mean that we could hand over many security functions to the Eastern council (the law and order function is devolved and there is provision to raise a police force, hence the earlier North east Provincial CouncilA?a??a??s CVF militia) draw down our forces from the East and commit them to defeating the Tigers in the North.

2. With the patronage he is able to extend through the Council, Karuna would be able to raise an army in the East which can work in parallel with the Sri Lankan armed forces in any offensive in the North and the Wanni.

A Karuna dominated council can decide at a subsequent stage, i.e. after the defeat of the LTTE, whether it wishes to opt for institutional linkage with the Northern council in the form of an apex body (Sirisena CoorayA?a??a??s favourite formula).

Sinhala chauvinists may resent giving Karuna control of the Eastern council, but it is only such an arrangement that can contain Tamil chauvinism in the North – or Northern Tamil expansionism A?a??a?? by changing the terms of the present conflict from A?a??E?Sinhala vs. TamilA?a??a?? to A?a??E?Eastern Tamil autonomy and integration vs. Northern Tamil separatism/expansionismA?a??a??. There are two variants of Tamil separatism: that of Prabhakaran and Perumal (Velupillai and Vardharaja)! Karuna knows that either one of those trajectories will be under the hegemony, or will result in the hegemony, of the wealthier, internationally and regionally (Chennai, New Delhi) connected Jaffna Tamils. Therefore he will resist the secessionist temptation. On balance, this makes Karuna a safe strategic Tamil ally for the Sri Lankan state.

Sources of De-merger

The de-merger of the North and East was only partially a consequence of JVPA?a??a??s recent legal intervention.

Had the Tamil parties accepted the December 19th 1986 proposal of P Chidambaram, the Tamil people would have obtained a sightly smaller but merged North-east, minus the Ampara district. However, given the usual combination of arrogance and myopia, the Tamil side rejected it, only to wind up today, with almost nothing.

The de-merger is sourced in a lack of legitimacy. That illegitimacy derived from a radioactive combination: the A?a??E?shotgun weddingA?a??a?? character of that merger by an administration (that of JR Jayewardene) that had lost legitimacy through the holding of a fraudulent referendum instead of a parliamentary election, coerced by the military intervention (the airdrop) by a powerful neighbour which was an ancient foe and had just prior to the merger, prevented the Sri Lankan armed forces from defeating the Tigers after Vadamaarachchi!

JR Jayewardene, co-author of the Accord, promised to campaign for a A?a??E?noA?a??a?? vote at the referendum while Vijaya Kumaratunga, the most outspoken supporter of the Accord and devolution, maintained a longstanding opposition to the merger (evidenced by the printed proceedings of the Political Parties Conference of mid-1986). So too did his party the SLMP, even after his death.

The de-merger is also A?a??E?materiallyA?a??a?? sourced, in the fact of the uneven development of the North east, and the resultant domination of the East by the North, especially Jaffna. This is no Sinhala propaganda creation: my attention was first drawn to the sociological potential for a North/East schism by a path breaking and prophetic research essay by Brian Pfaffenberger in the radical leftwing Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars, almost two decades ago!

When Dutugemunu defeated Elara, he didnA?a??a??t run the place with a Sinhala Buddhist jackboot. He appointed a Tamil Yuvaraja to run it, with a large degree of autonomy according to its own customs. In any case ancient Lanka had a high degree of regional autonomy in that it was demarcated into three zones: Ruhunu, Maya and Pihiti ratas.

Today, in the 21st century, it is necessary to invert the sequence in order to obtain the same result. A Tamil yuvaraja cannot be appointed after the defeat of Prabhakaran. He has to be appointed before that defeat, so as to render that defeat possible.

PrabhakaranA?a??a??s Project

While PrabhakaranA?a??a??s defeat is not inevitable, the defeat of his project is. Meaning, he may continue to damage us and destroy our future prospects, but he cannot establish Tamil Eelam, nor can it be established by anybody else. He cannot triumph and we cannot be defeated, existentially. This is not because we are a thrice blessed isle, but because of the nature of his cause, the character of todayA?a??a??s world and the dynamics of contemporary history. A cutting edge study has resulted in a new book entitled A?a??E?No More States: Globalization, National Self Determination and TerrorismA?a??a??. It is edited by distinguished scholars Richard Rosecrance and Arthur A. Stein. Rosecrance is a research professor of political science at the University of California, Los Angeles, and senior fellow in the Belfer Centre for science and International Affairs at the John F Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Arthur Stein is professor of political science at the University of California, LA, and a former member of the Policy Planning Council of the US State Department. Francis Fukuyama says that their volume A?a??A?deals with one of the most important issues in global politicsA?a??A?, namely A?a??A?the question of state fragmentation and state formationA?a??A?.

Bringing together 15 distinguished contributors, the volume studies the factors that lead to the rise of new nation states, and examine the Middle East, Asia North America, Europe and Russia, A?a??A?where pressures for new states are intenseA?a??A?. Drawing attention to globalisation/integration/dependency, the nuclear issue, and A?a??A?the disadvantages of terrorism as a tacticA?a??A?, the authors opine that the phase of proliferation of nation states is over. A?a??A?The book concludes that discontented national movements will have to find ways to exist within current geopolitical boundaries.A?a??A? (Foreign Affairs, Sept-Oct 2006).

This means that Tamil Eelam is a futile fantasy and Sri Lanka, though in dire need of internal reform and domestic change, is here to stay as a state in its present boundaries.

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