Which is Leads to What? Secession via 13a – Self-Determination & Asymmetrical Federalism
Pre-independence Tamil leaders sought a Tamil nation, post-independence Tamil armed militancy also sought a separate Tamil nation, post-LTTE defeat Tamil political leadership are continuing the same calls coated in different politically correct terms that shroud & camouflage the ultimate objective. Can everyone now understand why we are against tweaking the constitution? Why is it difficult for the political leadership of the country, the legal luminaries advising the government, the political pundits to call a spade a spade & showcase that the country will not entertain any demands until all demands, aims & objectives for secession is removed which includes the annulling of the 1976 Vaddukoddai Resolution, the ITAK 2008 confederal aims & objectives & all verbal statements made in Parliament & outside that clearly indicate separatism via camouflaged & devious means.
If anyone wonders why the majority of the citizens strike down every demand being made by LTTE diaspora, TNA, their support-bases among locals & foreigners, the reasons are simple enough to explain.
The demand of the LTTE, the demands of the TNA & the demands of Tamil politicians associated with both have all sought self-determination, separate Tamil homeland, federalism and are tied to every piece of loose terminology that can pave way to eventual secessionism. No sane government should blindly walk into these traps.
A unitary system of government, or unitary state, is a sovereign state governed as a single entity. The central government is supreme, and the administrative divisions exercise only powers that the central government has delegated to them. Subdivisional units are created and can be abolished, and their powers may be broadened and narrowed by the central government.
A Federal state is a union of states wherein all external affairs are controlled by an unified central government and powers are shared to provincial or local bodies. The federal states powers are based on what the Centre grants permission which can be removed if the centre so desires. The necessity to create federal system arose when governing directly by the centre faced logistical/administrative difficulties. Sharing powers & granting permission for areas the centre agreed to allow the federal states to handle was thus adopted. This is why Canada, USA, India are all federal states owing to their size.
A federal set for a small island nation like Sri Lanka is a ridiculous idea. Unilateral secession is impossible under a federal system. What is even more alarming is that the present bogus calls for a federal constitution is promoting asymmetrical federalism where different constituent states possess different powers (North wants more powers than the rest of the provinces) combined with ethno-religious federalism since Tamil leaders are demanding that the North & East be turned into an ONLY Tamil asymmetrical federal state that the Centre has little or no power over it.
When India forced the Indo-Lanka Accord upon Sri Lanka and forced the amendment to its constitution with the 13a – it created a provincial council system that turned Sri Lanka into a quasi-federal state. That the centre remained in control of all provinces was seen when the merged N-E province attempted to declare unilateral declaration of independence leading to the annulment of that provincial council bringing it under the direct control of the centre. Such a possibility is impossible in a confederal set up however, which is why TNA & supporters do not wish to continue with the present quasi-federal set up in Sri Lanka.
A confederal state on the other hand enables unilateral secession which is why the aims & objectives of ITAK constitution which was changed in 2008 from Samasthi to Innaipachchi is important and questions why political analysists are ignoring this. If Samasthi meant Federal in 1949 why was there a necessity to replace this word with Innaipachchi suddenly in 2008? Is it not because Innaipachchi connotes a confederal set up which is what the ITAK is now deceptively seeking?
In the case of self-determination what everyone needs to first put into context is that every terminology currently used internationally are those coined & definitions decided by colonial invaders who also decided to depart the invaded countries after creating new borders, new lines of demarcation & virtually handing rule to locals they had educated to think & continue governance without challenging the former rulers & their systems. It was these countries that illegally invaded nations/territories, ruled & plundered them that ended up deciding the fate of these created countries & whether to give or not give them ‘self-determination’ on the argument that they were or were not ready to govern themselves.
No one seems to have questioned how these people were functioning & living in their own systems of governance peacefully before these illegally invaders arrived. All of the areas known as the developing world today enjoyed civilizational heritage & were rich is natural assets & resources before these were drained out & helped build the first world! Where is the accountability for these crimes? The irony & tragedy is that these very nations are out to again destroy the very areas they plundered during colonial rule and because they hold the powers & decision-making mechanisms internationally there is no one to challenge or stop them. Those that did ended up eliminated!
Self-determination arose as a result of decolonization and that is how self-determination entered the UN Charter. Over the years to confuse & confound matters various politically correct terms have been added – right to internal self-determination & right to external self-determination. The advocators of these principles & terminologies say that seeking self-determination internal or external is only as a last resort & is not part of secessionism but doesn’t it amount to the same thing eventually? This is like pulling wool over one’s eyes expecting people to accept theories without challenging the eventual outcome.
In 1949 the ITAK was formed seeking a Tamil State as its aim & objectives.
The LTTE demands at Thimpu 1985 were reiterated by TNA in 2001.
- To recognize Tamils of Sri Lanka as a distinct nationality
- To recognize the identified Tamil Homeland and guarantee its territorial integrity
- To recognize the inalienable right of self-determination of the Tamil nation.
- To recognize the right to full citizenship and other fundamental democratic rights of all Tamils who look upon the island as their country.
The election manifesto of TNA in 2001 even demanded that the GOSL commenced negotiations with the LTTE.
‘We have also consistently asserted that any attempt to draw a distinction between the LTTE and the Tamil people was meaningless’…
‘unless meaningful negotiations are held with the LTTE no just solution can be found to the Tamil national question and that such negotiations should be held immediately ONLY with the LTTE’
ITAK leader Chelvanayagam’s statement of 1975
‘I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam Nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free’.
TULF 1977 election manifesto call was
‘Vote for the Tamil United Liberation Front; for the emancipation of the Tamil Nation; for the freedom of Tamil Eelam’
When TNA election manifesto writes
‘it was inevitable, that the armed struggle gained in strength and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam came to occupy a paramount position, and play a pivotal role in the struggle of the Tamil nationality to with their rights’ it clearly establishes the link to the separatist aims by both LTTE & Tamil leadership.
The TNA manifesto of 2004 declared
‘in order to safeguard the life and liberty of the Tamil race and to establish its birthright for self-determination, the Tamil Nation having being pushed to the unavoidable state of armed conflict, as the only way, the war not only broadened but advanced under the generalship of the Tiger’s leader Hon.Pirapaharan’
The 10th Resolution of the 2004 manifesto reads ‘The LTTE has for the past two years put up with the violent, surly behaviour of the armed forces without impairing the conditions for peace and observing the ceasefire and acting steadfastly and firmly towards the path of peace’.
TNA claims LTTE as the ‘authentic sole representative of the Tamil people’
When TNA says it is ‘accepting LTTE’s leadership as the national leadership of the Tamil Eelam Tamils and the Liberation Tigers as the sole and authentic representatives of the Tamil people’
TNA goes on to say TNA says
‘let us devote our full cooperation for the ideals of the Liberation Tigers struggle with honesty and steadfastness’…
‘let us work side by side with the LTTE’.
Is it not a tragi-comedy that this same TNA is now the Main Opposition & its leader the Opposition Leader?
Immediately after the LTTE defeat notice how TNA changes its stripes.
In its 2010 manifesto unlike the previous 2001 & 2004 manifestos the TNA refers to a Tamil Kingdom and referred to its 2010 manifesto as a FEDERAL CONSTITUTION. Its 2010 manifesto referred to self-determination, Tamil Homeland.
In 2010 TNA called for the ‘abandoning of the unitary model’ and to bring in ‘shared sovereignty’ recognizing Sri Lanka as a “plural society” within a ‘united and sovereign republic’ – these features are now being inserted deceptively into what is being promoted as a NEW CONSTITUTION & echoes the promises made by Jayampathy W & present Minister of Finance to the LTTE Diaspora known as the Singapore Principles – it is nothing but fulfilling the demands of these separatists.
In its 2010 Manifesto, the TNA refers to the LTTE it as the ‘sole military outfit that fought for a separate homeland for the Tamils’
Following the 2002 Ceasefire Agreement & the ‘Oslo Communique’ which again referred to ‘internal self-determination in areas of historical habitation of the Tamil-speaking Peoples, based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka’.
In its 2013 election manifesto insists Tamils have right to self-determination, demanded power sharing arrangement in a MERGED Northern and Eastern province based on Federal Structure that is acceptable to Muslims & Tamils. Repeated demand for devolution of power based on SHARED SOVEREIGNTY over Land, Law and Order, Socio-Economic development including health, education, resources and FISCAL powers. These are all features of a confederation and not a federal system.
- When TNA Chief Minister demands Northern Province to have direct foreign aid (2010 manifesto) – it is a confederal feature & not federal
- When TNA leaders demand referendums only for the North it is a confederal feature as referendums are held only by the Centre & not the states/provinces.
- When TNA demands police powers for the North it is a confederal feature not federal.
- When TNA’s manifestos claim to grant language, cultural rights etc that too is a confederal feature & not federal as the Centre grants all citizens rights not states!
- When TNA repeatedly refers to ‘UNITED’ Sri Lanka instead of ‘UNITARY” that gives away its confederal ploy as confederal states are bound only by a sense of cooperation & when that ceases they can seek separation as was seen in the US confederacy
- When TNA manifesto of 2001 says it opposes ‘state aided Sinhala colonization of the Tamil Homeland’ this is completely against even a federal set up.
What everyone needs to understand is that beneath these ‘grievances’ promoted by well-funded propaganda there is a history of attempting to separate and that separatist quest is not confined to the Tamil armed militancy alone, it is associated with the Tamil political leadership that represents the Tamils. That quest has prevailed before independence, after independence, took a backseat to watch it come into reality through armed militancy & when that has failed, the Tamil political leadership is back in the saddle making deceptive demands & pushing them through with the power of money & lobbying exerted internally & internationally. In the absence of alternative Tamil leadership that seeks to peacefully coexist with the rest of the communities in Sri Lanka the cry now is for Tamils themselves to comprehend the damage being done & come forward to nullify the separatist quest.
Shenali D Waduge