US paper advocates "loose Confederation" for Sri Lanka

[TamilNet, Thursday, 29 June 2006, 10:45 GMT]
"The international community should press the Sri Lankan government and the Tigers alike to come to the negotiating table in Oslo and work out a loose confederation that retains Sri Lanka's unity, grants the Tamil northeast self-governing autonomy, and puts an end to the island's long agony," said Boston Globe in an editorial that appeared in its Thursday edition.

Full text of the editorial follows:

Sri Lanka's uncivil war

THE FESTERING ethnic conflict in the island nation of Sri Lanka receives little attention here, but recurrent bouts of violence there between the government and minority Tamils have taken 70,000 lives since 1983. And now, after a suicide bomber killed the deputy chief of the Sri Lankan army Monday, there is reason to fear that an already tattered cease-fire signed in February 2002, between the government and the rebel Tamil Tigers is about to be submerged in another round of bloodshed.

There have been helpful calls for restraint from the outside world. United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has called on both sides to return to peace talks under Norway's auspices. The Norwegian government's special envoy has admirably pledged to persist in Norway's mediation efforts, saying: ``Norway remains committed to Sri Lanka in good times and bad times." But international mediators and cease-fire monitors can do only so much if the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse of Sri Lanka and Tamil Tiger leaders do not act to prevent a renewal of civil war and forge a durable peace agreement.

At present, the two sides appear far apart. The memory of old atrocities seems to overwhelm a recognition of the need to accept compromises for the sake of peace. Tamils harbor deep and justified grievances over the discrimination they have suffered at the hands of the Sinhalese majority. The suicide bombings and assassinations carried out by the Tigers over the years have left government officials and many Sinhalese so fixated on their exposure to terrorist violence that they ignore the injustices Tamil civilians in the north and east of the island have suffered.

A political solution is needed. It will have to include a new constitutional arrangement that frees Tamils in the northeast from submission to the Sinhalese-dominated central government. The assistant US secretary of state for South and Central Asian Affairs, Richard Boucher, offered a useful outline of such a solution this month in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, when he said: ``Though we reject the methods that the Tamil Tigers have used, there are legitimate issues raised by the Tamil community and they have a 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've traditionally inhabited."

This acknowledgment of a Tamil right to self-rule in their own homeland marks a welcome evolution in US policy. The international community should press the Sri Lankan government and the Tigers alike to come to the negotiating table in Oslo and work out a loose confederation that retains Sri Lanka's unity, grants the Tamil northeast self-governing autonomy, and puts an end to the island's long agony.


External Links:
US: Boucher: Press Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka
BG: Sri Lanka's uncivil war
US: Boucher: Remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce Colombo, Sri Lanka
US: U.S. Affirms Support for Sri Lankan Fight Against Terrorists

 

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