Globe Editorial: Sri Lanka's uncivil war
Your editorial of 29th June on the "festering ethnic conflict in the island of Sri Lanka" is
very thoughtful and balanced. The Boston Globe has an international reputation for factual
and fair-minded journalism based on liberal philosophy and an empathy with the minorities
and the underdog. Let me congratulate you on the brief but lucid explanation of the issues
involved that have long been lost in the mist of black propaganda.
The Sri Lankan government in its propaganda campaign for decades has sought to vilify the
Sri Lankan Tamils as mindless terrorists, and has cynically contrived to push aside the
legitimate political issues of the long suffering Tamil community, which you have so aptly
described, as " their very legitimate desire, as anybody would, to control their own lives,
to rule their own destinies, and to govern themselves in their homeland, in the areas they
have traditionally inhabited".
Following 9/11 and the antipathy of the West to the evils of terrorism, the Sri Lankan
Government has quite cleverly but maliciously portrayed the freedom struggle of the
Sri Lankan Tamils as terrorism in order to win the support of the West, while at the same
time engaging in State terrorism against the Tamils in Sri Lanka. Even in the past four
months, some 600 innocent Tamil civilians have been killed in their homes and villages
by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and their paramilitaries, in their punitive attempts to
cower a whole nation of Tamils in their own homeland. As you mention, at least
70,000 lives (most of them Tamil civilians) have been lost in this cruel war to suppress the
Sri Lanka lies in a highly strategic part of the globe which is the nexus of two emerging
but rival regional superpowers, China and India, with competing economic, military
(nuclear powers) and political interests. Throw into this equation Pakistan, Indonesia,
North Korea and Japan, and this part of South Asia is a tinderbox in which the
United States in its own long-term strategic interest as the world's only superpower will
have to be engaged to prevent any conflagration. The strategic island of Sri Lanka,
possessed of harbours and airports, is a failed economic state that is dependent
on foreign aid, and with nearly 25 years of civil war and political repression will continue
to engender instability in this region, into which competing regional powers will get drawn,
like how Cuba became the satellite of the old Soviet Union.
The recent declaration of US policy acknowledging the rights of the Tamils to self-rule in
their own homeland is much appreciated. Much bloodshed could have been avoided had
the Sri Lankan government been made aware of this US position earlier. You have so rightly
stated that the international community should press the Sri Lankan government and the Tigers
to come to the negotiating table in Oslo and work on a "loose confederation that retains
Sri Lanka's unity and grants the Tamil Northeast self-governing autonomy". As you well
know and Norway will probably confirm it for you, the extreme Sinhala Buddhist mindset
in Sri Lanka, the Buddhist monks and politicians will not yield an inch, if left on their own,
to the most moderate demands of the Tamils. They must feel the weight of the international
community push them to offer the Tamils self government in a loose confederation within
a united country.
The United States Administration should use its influence as the sole super power to
change the heart of the hardline Sinhala Sri Lankan state to offer the Tamils self-governing
autonomy in the Northeast in confederation and in unity with the rest of the island.
I hope you would continue to use your influence with the Administration, State Department,
Congressmen and Senators to advance this political solution in a country that is fast sliding
into chaos and disrepute.
Source: TWG - Editor
Date: 01 July 2006