A border fence from Mannar to Pottuvil?

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The 13th amendment implementation for the North and East is currently creating much turmoil and controversy both, in Sri Lanka and in the diaspora. Tamils in the diaspora consider the 13th amendment a waste of time since it falls short of fulfilling aspirations for a completely separate Tamil state, by contrast, opponents tf the amendment consider it to be too much of a concession to Tamil separatism. What, however, are the views of ordinary Tamils in the North who are actually bearing the brunt of the on-going conflict?
Tamils in the homeland are having to face tragedies on an almost daily basis, dear ones killed, others abducted. The fit and able Tamils have fled the soil of their homeland. It is the poor, weak and vulnerable people that were left behind. Everywhere in Sri Lanka ordinary Sri Lankans want the war to stop. Ordinary Tamils in the North long for a normal life: to be able to send their children to school without fear of abduction, to have ordinary jobs and careers, to run businesses, go shopping and care for their families.
Ordinary Tamils in the North want food, shelter, security and the freedom to move about. We all want peace, it’s the lasting solution.
Every government promises something, but nothing ever happens. People have no trust in anyone.
Tamil diaspora keep beating the war drum. They’ve created this situation and are continuing to do so, leading to the complete destruction of our society and traditions. Ordinary Tamils in the homeland do not like violence, nor do they seek violence. Those who take the sword will one day die from the sword. Innocent people are dying in the name of freedom. Peace does not create an enemy. We all need peace!.
The implementation of the 13th amendment is a vital issue as it offers Tamils the chance to govern their region with a considerable degree of autonomy. The 13th amendment is born out of the Indian Accord with the UNP government in 1987, when the Indian Peace Keeping Force came to Sri Lanka to resolve the national conflict. It is roughly based on the Indian model regarding regional governance.

In fact, the details of the 13th amendments are actually more favourable towards Tamils, than the Indian system would have been. For example, the official language in Mumbay is Marathi and the Tamils there are required to learn the Marathi language in Mumbay schools, whereas in Sri Lanka there are Tamil school for Tamil children everywhere in the country. Equal prominence is assured for the Tamil language alongside Sinhala, with English designated as the link language as is again the case in India.
The opponents for the implementation of the 13th amendment argue that it doesn’t offer the Tamils enough. The 13th amendment is already in the constitution, chopping and changing it, is not appropriate. Also, there is no provision for a North and East merger in the present 13th Amendment. The government should govern the country based on the constitution and should do so without delay. The implementation process raised some questions too: why the need for an election or for an interim government?
It is important to point out, that there is in fact a clause, which states that, if one or two provinces wanted to join they could do so with the presidential recommendations. So, why would one want to reject the proposal before having it tested and before seeing how it worked out in practice? Rome was not built in one day! Start with one step and make progress with time.
13th amendment offers a framework for the future. The proposal is for a temporary merger between the North and East, with a referendum to be held in a year’s time to get the mandate from the people of the North and the East. The document includes plans for the development of the systems of health, education, agriculture, transport, rehabilitation,re- settlement, as well as the setting up of new industries. People opposing the plan, tend to ignore the fact that th 13th Amendment is already successfully implemented in eight out of nine provincial administrations in Sri Lanka. Most recently, as a result of the recent elections in the East, democratic processes and systems are being established there. The right of having a civil administration, is only denied to the Tamils in the North, because the LTTE is trying hopelessly to hold out for a completely separate state, their old dream of a Tamil Eelam.
The JVP’s fear that giving provincial autonomy and power to the Tamils may open the path to separatism and Indian influence is also unfounded. The election in the East shows that there is no separatism developing and the provincial administration is fully accepted by the local population. The JVP is supposed to campaign for the poor and underprivileged. and yet it seems to be playing the tune sung by the arm dealers, who want to continue making a huge profit.
For the Tamil people in North, assisting the government to implement the 13th amendment is the chance to be free from the autocratic control of LTTE, a chance to set up a democratic civil system, and to rebuild the Tamil community, the area’s infra-structure, the land, its towns and the country as a whole.
LTTE depends on the financial and political support from the Tamil diaspora, people who hold British, American, Canadian, Australian, French, German, Swiss etc. passports guaranteeing them safety and freedom. It appears that some like to gain moments of fame and recognition through their vocal and financial support to the Tigers from a safe distance. Meanwhile, in Sri Lanka, the LTTE is on the run by all accounts. They are on the way out, their forces exhausted as there are no more Tamil teenagers left to be rounded up and abducted into the battle fields.
We are spending more and more money on the war every year, which is delaying the development of our country. As elsewhere in the world, it would not be surprising to discover that the continuing chaos in our country is partly fuelled by those who gain most from it, i.e. the arm dealers and the opportunists. Foreign Arms dealers are getting rich, whilst the young people of our country are dying like flies in the heat of the battle fields. Some have escaped to foreign countries working as cleaners and other menial jobs, whereas youngsters in other South Asian countries, such as India, are working in IT, in businesses, administration, schools, etc..
Our country is a small country and has surely had more than its share of being battered, bruised, tormented, during so many years of war and conflict The majority of Tamils in the diaspora community are peace loving and refuse to get involved with or support such separatist campaigns. Yet, it seems that the dream of a Tamil Eelam will remain alive among some members in the Tamil diaspora. Campaigning for separatism has become an integral part of their exiled life. Whether as part of peace, human rights or community organisations, they themselves of course, are able to live a comfortable life and send their children to colleges and universities. They do not have to live a life of constant fear and deprivation in Sri Lanka’s war zones.
What moral right do people, who are free, safe and doing fairly well have to support a situation which means thousands of people in their homeland are killing and getting killed, maimed, tortured, and women and young girls getting raped. Would the diaspora community allow their own kids into the war zone? If not, why is it alright to ask others to suffer and sacrifice their lives?
Why support the LTTE? The LTTE’s ideology and ‘working’ methods does not resemble anything found within other liberation movements and struggles in the world. How can threatening and killing your own people who are suspected of not towing the line be progressive or liberating? How can the expulsion of people purely because of their different beliefs be progressive? Is it not ironical, that the diaspora communities are enjoying the benefits of a diverse and multi-cultural society in their adopted countries, whilst accepting an organization that expelled around 100.000 Muslims from Jaffna and that continuously pours out hatred against Sinhalese Moreover, do those holding out for a Tamil Eelam really think it can practically be achieved? How does one draw a map separating the Muslim, Tamil and Sinhala communities in the East? Do those who campaign in the diaspora ever think about the Tamil people living in the south? They continue to live there peacefully among the Sinhalese community.
How would a border fence be put up from Mannar to Pottuvil?
Do they really think it is realistic for Tamils to claim for itself 35% of the island’s land and 65 % of its coastal area as shown in the Tamil Eelam map? How likely is it, that Regional Super Power India will support Eelam and the LTTE ?
The dream for a Tamil Eelam for the Tamils will never happen. This dream began to evaporate when they killed Rajiv Gandhi in India, it dissipated when the LTTE wiped out the other Tamil organizations and went on a manhunt, it disappeared out of the window, when the conspirators split the East from the North and this dream of an independent state finally ended when the Eastern commanders walked out from the LTTE’s jungle.
This amendment will be the catalyst for many changes to come for the nation as a whole. The country has the culture and is capable of building things even without importing many goods. Sri Lankans have a holistic approach to life. There are already towns and villages where Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others are living side by side and are helping each other. It seems the poor know better the value of living together, than do the rich and privileged.
Tamils should be entitled to their democratic and human right to rebuild their lives, their homes and their society. Whoever opposes the implementation of the 13th amendment, betray the hopes of the people who want to rebuild their future.
Tamils and all ordinary Sri Lankans long for peace and an end to the armed conflict which has been raging for twenty five years or more.
Being united will bring hope and prosperity to all communities. To fail to grasp this opportunity will certainly bring more wealth for the arm dealers and profiteers, but it will cause continued suffering among all Sri Lankans, especially the Tamils.


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