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Sri Lanka: A Time To Build

By Chandi Sinnathurai

21 May, 2009

“History repeats itself first as a tragedy; then as a farce”
K. Marx

Now that the guns are silenced in Sri Lanka the President Rajapaksha’s focus (if were to go by his address to parliament) has become three pronged:

a) Re-settling the IDP’s (Innocent Tamil civilians cannot be left to rot in over-crowded internment camps).
b) Much needed reconstruction and development of the North in particular and the east.
c) Inviting the Diaspora (Both Tamil and Sinhala) back to a peaceful island home.

In order for the above points a & b to become a reality the Sri Lanka Government (SLG) needs international support and financing. Should the SLG chooses to alienate themselves from the Western world things may go sour and pear shaped. Having said that, equally Sri Lanka has garnered support from China and India. Including Iran, Israel, Pakistan and Libya to name but a few. Both India and China have major investments in the island. Reportedly, China is going to make the sleepy little town of Hambantota a major port city through which much of world’s oil is going to be transported. India’s has already got a foot hold in Trincomalee - not forgetting the U S.

Only time will tell how the Western Governments are going to play their diplomatic cards.

In so far as the above point c there will be returnees from both communities no doubt. The Tamils will be careful in their decision making because the Rajapaksha regime is yet to win hearts and minds of the Tamils and must be openly seen to be doing what they say, and to be saying what they really mean. To put it simply: Can the Tamils trust his words?

But there remains a crucial acid test:

Will the State encourage some thing of the model of Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

That leads to the all important issue - the Constitutional reform. Will such reform address the core issue of the Tamil national Question? The devolution or an autonomy? The U N will have to play a crucial role in all of these.

So, the blood-letting conflict might be over. But another form of conflict is beginning - that is to say, in terms of negotiations and dialogues. Public forums and discussions. Debates and referendums. All these can take place when the culture of impunity is eradicated.

At this crucial hour, the Tamils need leadership - not just some propped up fart catchers.

Today people can find faults on Prabaharan’s style of leadership. One thing is sure, like Tantai SJV Chelvanayagam (The former Gandhian Tamil leader), V Prabaharan stood unflinchingly and fought for the vision of Eelam. People may disagree with his tactics and methods. Tamil Tigers were a response to State terror. The important thing is, the Tamils knew that Prabaharan cannot be bought over by any force or for filthy lucre under the sun. He could very well be an iron man. But what made him stainless steel is that the iron was purified many a times in the fire of the struggle.

That made him a Talaivar to Tamils world over.

Now, the Tamils need a pragmatic leadership that would listen, learn, be honest, honourable, with vision, values, skills, acumen and statesmanship.

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