Feature Article

Talking ‘development’ for taking nation and politics away

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 04 September 2013, 20:00 GMT]
The Norwegian Ambassador Grete Løchen saying last week that the diaspora should drop talking about Eezham to avoid feeding into the rhetoric of the Sri Lankan government, implies near-criminalisation of the struggle of the nation of Eezham Tamils, at the behest of the genocidal State of Sri Lanka. The Ambassador said it at a ‘development’ conference convened with an emphasized note that the intention was not to discuss the political situation in Sri Lanka in general or internal differences between Tamil political actors. Earlier the West criminalized the armed struggle of Eezham Tamils as international terrorism. If the diaspora keeps quiet, even the democratic struggle will be criminalized and gagged by the Establishment partners of Colombo just like the 6th Amendment to the constitution of Sri Lanka, cautioned Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

The conference convener Professor Øivind Fuglerud emphasized the following note with a bold “not” in his invitation:

“Please note that the intention is NOT to discuss the political situation in Sri Lanka or internal differences between Tamil political actors. These are important questions but must be discussed elsewhere.”

Norway’s Ambassador in Colombo, Ms. Grete Løchen was the first speaker. Concluding her address, she said the following as her “message” to the diaspora:

“The Diaspora has to be strategic and conscious in its actions and public statements regarding calls for reconciliation and political solution, by avoiding feeding into the rhetoric of the current government that the Diaspora is still working for Eezham. It doesn't help the Tamils and their elected representatives living in Sri Lanka,” Grete Løchen said.

The Ambassador just stopped short of criminalizing the very political fundamentals of the struggle of the nation of Eezham Tamils.

At the conference convened to discuss ‘development’ sans politics, the Ambassador also eulogized at length the virtues of the 13th Amendment-based Northern Provincial Council as the threshold for a political solution.

* * *

There were around 100 participants at the conference and most of them were Tamils in Norway.

Only one, Mr Kasinathar Sivapalan, a 68-year-old lawyer from Trincomalee, stood up to challenge the Ambassador. During the times of the Norwegian facilitated peace process, he was a local member of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM). Currently he is president of the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESoHR).

“The 13th amendment as we all know is not a solution to the Sri Lankan problem. I think that the West shouldn’t try to show that as a way of entry point to a solution to the Sri Lankan problem. The genocide is continuing by other means. I think the West should look into aspects like self-determination and other rights. We don't want to be called as minorities. We are a Nation. The West should open its vision and talk about better ways,” Mr Sivapalan said at the conference.

“When we go into a country and try to bring about peace and once we fail, we shouldn't shun away from there. We should continue the effort by other means to bring about peace,” Sivapalan further commented.

Sivapalan posed his comments with an apology that he didn't want to get into that, but he was telling that since the Ambassador had opened that – 13th Amendment and Northern Provincial elections. Sivapalan has also asked a question that how does Norway tackle a situation as a donor to better the human rights situation that has become worsened after Mu’l’li-vaaykkaal.

The Ambassador started with her reply, saying: “I thought this meeting is not to talk about politics. I think the key issue now is how to engage the diaspora in development activities.”

The Ambassador was commenting that the representative from the Development Fund [a Norwegian NGO that gets funds from the Norwegian government agency NORAD] had raised a number of important issues and had also brought up what are the potentials here [in development].

“We are not in a position to change everything in Sri Lanka, Norway alone, I mean,” she said, adding that these are long-term issues.

“We should focus on the subject of the seminar and not raise all the questions on what the Norwegian government should do. Let us focus on what are the potentials here,” the Ambassador replied, but she was stammering, partly inaudible and sounded not confident in what she was saying.

* * *

Whether the organisers of the conference and the Ambassador think that speaking politics is the prerogative of the donors and not the recipients, ask Tamil national activists in Norway.

Dr Selva Malar Ayadurai, a Tamil participant from TECH Outreach Malaysia, invited for the conference was also talking about development without politics. She was assuring the audience on finding no difficulty in getting the support of the Sinhala military in the island, if development is not connected to politics.

Talking about organized development without politics is a joke and that itself is the worst of politics, commented Tamil activists for alternative politics in the island.

If the diaspora polity cannot organize and implement its own development programme for the betterment of its nation, and if development has to take place sacrificing nation and politics as instructed by the donor Establishments, then Tamils as individuals, united and mobilized by an invisible consensus, could do much better on their own and to their choice. They don’t need to go behind a Norway or a Dr Malar, the activists said.

Commenting on Norwegian Ambassador’s ‘message’ to the diaspora to stop talking about Eezham to satisfy a genocidal State the Establishments are pampering, the activists in the island said that if the diaspora in Norway that first re-mandated the Vaddukkoaddai Resolution and elected the first country council, the NCET, is not openly challenging such a near-diktat, then the entire diaspora would soon be gagged by criminalization of the feelings of Eezham Tamils for their nation.

A few weeks ago, an Indian Establishment think tank Professor V. Suryanarayan was worrying more about erasing the national claim of Eezham Tamils once and for all, than thinking about whether the genocidal Sinhala State with a catalogue of betrayals would stick to any political solution written in a unitary constitution.

“In order to allay Sinhalese apprehensions, iron-clad guarantees should be provided that devolution to provinces should not lead to demand for separation.” Suryanarayan said in July.

There is not much difference between the Indian Professor and the Norwegian Ambassador at the ‘development’ conference convened by the Oslo University. The Erik Solheim saga is not over yet, it will not be over because the system behind is the same and the system will continue the same if not challenged by the power of people, the activists for alternative politics in the island said.

Fortunately the Tamil Nadu State Assembly has passed a unanimous resolution demanding a UN referendum on the national question of Eezham Tamils and thus providing an international space for voicing the question, thanks entirely to a people’s uprising, especially a youth uprising in Tamil Nadu. What is preventing the diaspora from challenging ‘development’ of the Establishments in the West trying to gag the democratic voice of Eezham Tamils against a genocidal State, asked the activists in the island.


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