Opinion Article

Vaddukkoaddai and Thimphu

[TamilNet, Saturday, 19 September 2009, 13:04 GMT]
Calling for the creation of independent and sovereign Tamil Eelam, based on Vaddukkoadai Resolution (VR) was the last spontaneous and definite mandate by Eezham Tamils in a totally free and democratic atmosphere. As the need for democratic political organisation unfolds afresh, Tamils have to take up the thread directly from the VR. The Thimphu principles and all the other formulas put forward subsequently under the duress of powers, and failed as negotiation models, do not get precedence over the VR as bases for political organization. Mu’l’livaaykkaal was not the real defeat. The defeat comes only when Tamils are made to politically denounce their heart-felt aspirations. The diaspora needs to peruse and correct course of any proposal that stops just at self-determination. In UN charter and in international law it is just an empty phrase that doesn’t protect nations or ethnicities.

The Vaddukkoaddai Resolution of 1976, calling for independent, sovereign, Tamil Eelam in the North and East of the island of Sri Lanka was a proclamation of all democratic Tamil political parties, including Ceylon Workers Congress, the then united political party of the Upcountry Tamils. The Eezham Tamil voters of the North and East overwhelmingly endorsed it in the 1977 elections. Thus it was a definite democratic mandate of Tamils and so far they didn’t get another chance to democratically tell what is in their heart.

The Thimphu principles of 1985 were a diluted version of Vaddukkoaddai Resolution, after truncating independence and sovereignty and stopping just at Tamil nation, homeland and self-determination.

The Thimphu principles, diluted to facilitate negotiation with Colombo, were jointly put forward by all the Tamil militant organizations of that time and the TULF. There was no mandate of the people. The most important fact to be noted is that the Indian Establishment that was always keen in nullifying Tamil independence in the island was behind making Tamil militancy then under its influence agreeable to the principles as a minimum platform for negotiation.

The Indo-Sri Lanka agreement of 1987 imposed on Tamils touched only the point of homeland, that too temporarily, and it was recently breached by Colombo. There was no credible mandate as the LTTE boycotted and the elections took place under the coercing presence of the Indian military. However, the provincial government elected under it finally felt it necessary to declare independent and sovereign Eelam, before winding up and while the Indian military was present.

The Oslo communiqué of 2002 was a further dilution of Vaddukkoaddai in another way, by its adoption of an invented phrase ‘internal self-determination’. Norway and some other powers that later became the Co-Chairs were behind making the LTTE agreeable to experiment negotiation with this dilution. Again there was no mandate of people. LTTE's chief negotiator Anton Balasingham, writing in 2004, questioned the concept of Oslo Declaration and implied the expiry of LTTE's concession on internal self-determination.

The ISGA of 2003, which has reference to Vaddukkoaddai but not to Thimphu, was only an interim proposal during the Co-Chair sponsored peace. It was apparently a move of the LTTE to supersede Oslo Communiqué. The mandate it received from Tamils has to be considered limited as the elections took place with the 6th Amendment to the constitution in effect. Its only electoral validity today is that it binds the TNA.

Even after considerably diluting the freely mandated aspirations of Vaddukkoaddai Resolution to suit their geopolitical agenda, India and the Co-Chairs miserably failed in making the Sri Lankan state agreeable for experimenting political solutions.

Had they succeeded, there would have been a different course of events and they would have had a standing in telling the Tamil mind to consider experimenting within a united Sri Lanka. But they chose the path of brutally abetting or allowing a crushing military defeat and open as well as barbed-wire incarceration of the whole nation of Tamils in the island.

Eezham Tamils are now left with the option of politically organising themselves afresh.

In the emerging scenario of democratic organisation of Eezham Tamil politics there need to be no place for Thimphu, Oslo or any other – non mandated, experimental, and failed negotiation formulas extended by militancy under duress of powers.

If there is democracy then nothing should prevent the democratic stream to get back to what was last mandated by people and what has become the heart-felt need of Eezham Tamils more than ever now, and to begin the political process and negotiation from that point.

However, the very forces that have inflicted military defeat on Tamils are now all out to defeat them politically by capturing, hijacking or deviating the democratic politics of Tamils.

India and the West compete in subtle ways in this exercise, adopting crude as well as highly sophisticated methods. Preparations, institutional arrangements and recruitments have been done long back by them to face a 'post-defeat' scenario as it was their foregone conclusion to inflict military defeat on Tamil nationalism.

The powers have carefully studied the non nation-centred ‘virtue’ of sections of Tamil elite or rather weakness of the Eezham Tamil nationalism, cultivated since colonial times to always orientate their politics in terms of the interests of others - British colonial interests, Colombo-centric interests, Indian interests, Western interests and there was a time when some were orientating it to the interests of Russia and China.

The elite politics of Eezham Tamils - except for the rare occasion of Vaddukkoaddai Resolution, and that too is said to be a result of youth pressure - was always hiding its mind fearing for others and was thinking in terms of others.

Influenced and discouraged by calculated power machinations, campaigns and Karunanidhis, the murmur heard in some elite circles now is that if a powerful armed struggle has failed, what could be achieved through democratic politics and claiming for what the heart aspires is only bravado.

They fail to see that it is more legitimate and more workable in democratic organisation to come out boldly with what you feel righteously deserving, register the claim and then to fight for it or negotiate until acceptable results are achieved.

This is possible only when we have the guts to independently evolve our politics firmly by ourselves first and then only to relate it to others. Of course this is not possible when we start looking at ourselves through the eyes of others. This mindset is the biggest impediment to our political organisation.

Mu’l’livaaykkaal was not the real defeat. Colombo and the powers know it. Their victory comes only when Tamils are made to politically denounce their heart-felt aspirations. It is in order to achieve this victory much easier, they advice or find agents to advise Tamils to drop their national aspiration, even though democratically registering a national aspiration could in no way be considered an obstacle for negotiation.

Powers have created a desperate situation for Eezham Tamils hoping their will power would wither even politically. But one should not fail to see that if not for Tamils, for the sake of their own interests, the powers have to find out solutions very soon in the island. Tamils have to be ready with their own politics to face the situation.

In the past, the failure of democratic Tamil politicians in adhering to people’s emotional needs with firmness and their inability to resist undue power interests, paved way for the rise and acceptance of militancy.

Tamils should take care that their political organisation now needs to be truly representative of their aspirations and needs to be firm in negotiation if they want to uphold democracy and avoid another rise of militancy. No need to say the powers should respect this reality, as they too share the fear.

It is now an acid test for the emerging democratic politics of Eezham Tamil nationalism.

The move in the diaspora for transnational government of Tamil Eelam is not only for negotiating the liberation and emancipation of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka but it is also an alternative government of the diaspora, standing for the global unity, cultural identity, development and global status of the diaspora. The move for this government needs not to bother about anyone in proclaiming the independence and sovereignty of Eezham Tamils in the island and requesting a mandate from the people in the diaspora.

Self-determination, as it is understood in contemporary times is a vague term when applied to people or ethnicities. According to UN charter 1(2), self-determination is interpreted as existing only in state-to-state relationship. Legally, it protects only states.

“Self-determination does not entail the right to be independent, or even to vote for independence” (Geoffrey Robertson, Penguin 2008, p165).

“International law provides no right of secession in the name of self-determination” (Rosalyn Higgins, Peoples and Minorities in International Law, 1995, p33).

“At best, the people’s right to self-determination connotes the right of all citizens to participate in the political process, but this gives power to majorities and not to minorities (Robertson, ibid).

The diaspora needs to seriously peruse and correct the course of any proposal that stops just at self-determination.

The Tamil National Alliance in the island, operating under constraints of Colombo and India, should not on its own, denounce the independence and sovereignty of Eezham Tamils and should not agree for experimenting anything other than a confederation with the right to secede, is an opinion strongly felt in the diaspora.

Emerging Tamil politics needs to act with far sight. The present scenario of geopolitics is not going to remain the same. The national aspiration for independence and sovereignty, which is a hard reality for Eezham Tamils today, may also get re-defined. In any future possibility of shared sovereignty, either regionally or globally, the Eezham Tamils should be able to find their niche smoothly without again facing the tragedy they have undergone for ages.

It is with sadness most of the Eezham Tamils look at a few Marxists among them, especially of the former ‘Peking Wing’, who denounce separate nationalism for Eezham Tamils. The Marxist Communist Party of India also has adopted a similar line.

It is hard to understand that if national liberation of Eezham Tamils oppressed on ethnic grounds and ‘Eezham’ as a political unit is not acceptable to them, in what way the united Sri Lankan nationalism and Sri Lanka as a political unit upheld by them is ideologically justifiable. While viewing Tamil national struggle as one such serving imperialism, they practically serve the very imperialism by weakening the struggle.

Ironically, many Sinhala Marxists see justice and recognise the Tamil national struggle in the island.

The Marxists contributed immensely to the social progress of Eezham Tamils in the past. They have a duty in structuring and strengthening the Tamil nation further, through achieving social equality. The democratisation of politics is an atmosphere conducive for them, but they should not deprive Tamils getting their contribution by keeping Tamil national liberation as an untouchable topic, by not participating in it and by not recognising that their goals can be better achieved by accepting Tamil nationalism as a unit to apply their progressive ideas and shaping it at home and in transnational governance.


Related Articles:
11.05.09   99 percent Norway Tamils aspire for Tamil Eelam
08.05.09   'Post-conflict is post-Sri Lankan'
27.03.09   'Coercion is not the beginning for a lasting solution'
22.12.06   1972 Sri Lanka Constitution illegal - Navaratnam
06.10.05   Doyen of FP, uncompromising on Tamil National question
26.10.04   Balasingham questions ‘Oslo Declaration’ in new book
01.11.03   Tigers release proposal for Interim Self Governing Authority
21.06.03   Negotiating Tamil sovereignty
05.12.02   LTTE, GOSL reach exploratory agreement
08.06.97   Thimpu Declaration
08.06.97   Vaddukkoaddai Resolution

External Links:
TamilNation: Thimpu Talks - July/August 1985
TamilNation: Vaddukkoaddai Resolution (in Tamil)


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