Feature Article

ICG acknowledges crisis but turns out cock-eyed on solutions

[TamilNet, Saturday, 24 March 2012, 10:40 GMT]
The International Crisis Group in its latest reports acknowledges militarisation and Sinhalicisation of Tamil land as currently the burning crisis in the island of Sri Lanka. It is implicit admission of structural genocide faced by the nation of Eezham Tamils. Both the Sinhala militarisation and colonisation increase the risk of a return to violence, the reports caution. But the ICG doesn’t want to see the historical impossibility of any righteous solution becoming successful in the island without secession. Reducing the nation of Eezham Tamils as ‘minorities’ and focussing the crisis of only the North, intriguingly leaving out the East, the ICG is cock-eyed in perceiving that elections to the northern provincial council under the rotten unitary constitution and control through foreign ‘development’ funds could bring in solutions, writes TamilNet political commentator in Colombo.

“By adopting policies that will bring fundamental changes to the culture, demography and economy of the Northern Province, the government of Sri Lanka is sowing the seeds of future violence there,” said the conclusion of the ICG report, “Sri Lanka’s North I: The Denial of Minority Rights,” dated 16 March 2012.

“Political processes that gave the Tamil majority in the province a democratic voice in their future would go a long way to diminishing the risks,” the report envisaged.

“The north may be quiet now and the population acquiescent, but that will not last unless long-standing grievances over land, language and political marginalisation are addressed in ways that give people in the north meaningful control over their own futures. That will not happen as long as the military remains the key engine of reconstruction and control in the Northern Province,” said the conclusion of another report of the ICG, “Sri Lanka’s North II: Rebuilding Under the Military,” released on the same date, 16 March 2012.

“The militarization will only lead to growing resentment among the majority Tamil population, thus increasing the risks of a return to violence,” the ICG again cautioned.

Removal of the military from ‘resettlement and development’ work; the UN agencies, International NGOs, donors, the World Bank and the ADB upholding international standards; local NGOs asserting to their own independence from the military; Donors lobbying against the former and current military playing civilian roles such as the provincial governor; free flow of information and donors as well as implementing agencies establishing collective monitoring, are some of the suggestions of the ICG to check the militarization.

Donors who are funding the reconstruction in the North have a responsibility to do more to avoid paying for policies that may lead to violence, the ICG Report-1 said, adding, “The situation is not irreversible and could be turned around with an approach that followed general principles of participatory and transparent development.”

Interestingly, in the same month, March, a monograph prepared by The Social Architects also has come out with a systematic and competent documentation on the Sinhalicisation process of the North, East and Hill Country.

Harping on ‘equal rights’ and echoing the same concern about renewed violence, The Social Architects report said: “President Rajapaksa and his allies should initiate a genuine process of reconciliation that is respectful of the cultures and traditions of all communities and views the members of all communities as citizens with equal rights […] However, if Extremist Sinhala Buddhist policies continue to emanate from Colombo, another civil war may be unavoidable.

The Social Architects (TSA) are comprised of a diverse group of writers, intellectuals and working professionals. While most of TSA’s members hail from the country’s North and East, the group also includes other scholars and activists who have been working on issues related to Sri Lanka […] They write under the pseudonym "The Social Architects" because of the risk of retaliation against those that speak out against the government, said a TSA document.

* * *

If elections to the Northern Provincial Council under the unitary constitution that repeatedly proved genocidal, and donor control of ‘development’ in the North, could bring in solutions to a historically chronic crisis in the island as envisaged by the International Crisis Group, does the group mean that solutions have already come in the East? If so the Eezham Tamils can understand what the ICG envisages for the North too.

For quite some time now, the US and India talk only of the North and they seem to imply to Eezham Tamils to write off the East.

Whether the US and the US-tagged West’s mouthpiece the ICG have found any special interest in truncating the East from the Tamil homeland, and in continuing militarization and Sinhalicisation there, is a question asked among the Eezham Tamil political observers.

* * *

Before and during the Vanni war the ICG was in the forefront in tilting the balance against Eezham Tamils that brought out the genocidal end of the war.

Licking the wounds, all the crises the ICG now talks about such as militarization and Sinhalicisation are direct consequences of the policies, and they have not come unknowingly or from the star-crossed heavens, as the former Norwegian peace facilitator Erik Solheim was trying to imply.

But the ICG is still not addressing the fundamental crisis of two nations bound by a genocidal state in the island.

Adding insult to injury, the latest ICG reports were implying that the lack of resistance among Tamils against the occupying Sinhala military is due to the acculturation of Tamils with the ‘military rule’ of the LTTE.

Genocidal Colombo and its stooges also speak in the same way, telling Tamils at every juncture that ‘if you have accepted the LTTE without any question, why don’t you accept us too in the same way’.

“With many in the north having lived under the LTTE’s military rule for much of the previous two decades, it is perhaps not surprising that despite occasional protests, mostly in Jaffna, the military’s presence has yet to provoke widespread resistance or significant public expressions of hostility,” the ICG report-1 said adding, “while people have come to accept the military as long as it is not too intrusive, there is real anger when it comes into competition with people’s lives and livelihoods, through taking lands and houses or competing for business.” [Meaning military occupation of Tamil country is OK, if it is not competing with the ‘development’ agenda.]

“The Tamil population is exhausted by war, broken by defeat and, after decades of LTTE tight control, sadly acclimatised to authoritarian rule.” The report reiterated the point in the conclusion.

It is atrocious that the ICG doesn’t see the difference between the tolerance of a people towards their liberation fighters and the hapless gag that comes from an occupying genocidal military, especially when it was brutally demonstrated that the entire world wanted Tamils to be left like that, thanks to the efforts like organizations like the ICG.

The need of the ICG now is to paint a picture of saviours, when its report talking about Tamil compromise with authoritarian rule said, “It will not necessarily remain that way.”

This week, Tamil Nadu political activist Thirumurugan Gandhi of the May 17 Movement revealed about a 5-hour talk his movement had with a representative of the ICG.

“The ICG didn’t want us to raise the issue of crimes. It didn’t want us to talk on the independence of Eezham Tamils. It wanted us to take up only the matter of rehabilitation of Tamils with the Indian government,” Thirumurugan said, adding that the ICG held similar meetings with many political parties in Tamil Nadu.

* * *

Not surprisingly, three days before the release of the ICG reports, the US Asst. Secretary of State Robert Blake was also talking to Associated Press about Tamils in the ‘North’ feeling that they are under “military occupation.” [The official US position doesn’t recognize Sinhalicisation, as transpired in many discussions with Tamil representatives].

Blake’s remedy was the same like the cock-eyed envisagement of the ICG reports.

“He called for provincial elections to devolve power, and for Tamils to take more control of policing the region,” AP reported Blake.

Giving a Skype-interview to Colombo-based ETV on Tuesday, Mr. Robert Blake has also cautioned on renewed ‘insurgency’.

“As I said in other interviews, the experience of many other countries that went through a similar insurgency and then failed to take real, concrete actions on reconciliation and accountability, found that in many cases those similar insurgencies restarted because of levels of frustration were very high. And, I think there is a similar risk here in Sri Lanka.”

Eezham Tamils in general have no idea from where this renewed violence is going to come.

The ICG reports, Blake’s stand and the US resolution passed in the UNHRC on implementing LLRC recommendations – all aim for the same: diffusing and deviating the struggle of Eezham Tamils and binding them to the unitary State of Sri Lanka to facilitate the economic and strategic inroads of the USA.

Last week, the US-based World Bank’s IBRD wing passed a US$ 213 million loan to strengthen the infrastructure of Colombo city, saying that it is the international gateway to the island, while the Colombo-centric system is the bane of Eezham Tamils.

On Thursday the US eased restrictions on defence sales to Sri Lanka.

Sections of Tamils in the diaspora and those who are hooked to the NGOs now try to build an image that the USA is currently a tactical ally as its need of Rajapaksa is over. They also believe that the US calculations on saving State in the island are not going to work due to chronic chauvinism of the Sinhala State.

While there is no guarantee why the gullible of the Oslo Declaration won’t again end up in another Mu’l’livaaykkaal, and while sections of Tamils are never tired of trusting the West and hoping of ‘returning’ to the lure of Colombo right since 1958, what they miss is repeated hints from the USA that ‘pressure’ is not enough from the side of Eezham Tamils.

Our enthusiasm to cooperate with tactical allies doesn’t mean that we should compromise with the fundamentals or that we should not know where and how the pressure has to be exerted. Tactical allies are no exception when it means business.

India’s bankruptcy of the policy on Eezham Tamils and naked injustice exhibited by China and Russia without any sense of propriety, concede to unipolar influence of the USA at least in the case of the island.

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