Anandasangaree on the APRC Proposals

On behalf of the TULF (q.v.) its President V. Anandasangaree participated in the ceremony in which the report of the APRC was presented to the President. Like Douglas Devananda before him he welcomed the Thirteenth Amendment as a move away from the unitary state. But his welcome was more qualified, and he continued to refer to this proposal as an interim one, taking a step in the correct direction. His speech is reproduced below. In this blog we will first comment on the salient points in Sangaree's speech, and then examine the argument that the APRC proposal is a step in the right direction. The latter view has not only been expressed by Sangaree but also by many external observers in the International Community. It is therefore some that needs to be refuted.

Sangaree started by saying that people may be surprised in his participation in this function and that he was not expressing only the view of the TULF but of a broader coalition of non-LTTE Tamils including PLOTE and EPRLF. This is the coalition that the non-LTTE Tamils hope will take over from the LTTE. But even if Prabhakaran is eliminated there will still be militant Tamil groups who will want to pursue the LTTE objectives although using different means. What has galvanized non-LTTE Tamils is not so much the LTTE objectives (which are also their own) but the autocratic personality of Prabhakan. With P. removed this factor will be out of the equation but GOSL will still be confronted with the remnants of the LTTE. I think the non-LTTE Tamils will coalesce with these LTTE remnants and GOSL will still have to contend with them.

The specific points in Sangaree's address worth noting are the following:

  1. Sangaree's support for the Thirteenth Amendment is only as a "first step" and hopes for a "final solution" to come later.
  2. Sangaree claims to speak for "Tamil-speaking minorities" thereby trying to include Eastern Muslims into the Tamil camp. This will result in a majority for "Tamil speakers" in the Eastern province. This is LTTE rhetoric.
  3. Sangaree has reiterated his demand for a Federal state, or at least an arrangement like the Indian Union. He also speaks of the amalgamation of the Northern and Eastern Provinces. This is once again an LTTE objective.
  4. Sangaree claims that all ethnic groups should "live as equals in all respects" in the country. If he is sincere in this wish what is his opposition to the Unitary state, and his desire to segregate Tamils into a separate area under a distinctive Provincial Council of their own? This shows the fundamental contradiction in Sangaree's demand for Federalism and the Thirteenth Amendment as the first step towards that goal.
  5. He called on the 60 million Tamils living in Tamilnadu to give their "blessings and cooperation" to bring peace to the Island. But why are only the Tamils of India mentioned? Is it a subtle reminder that SL Tamils have the support of the Indian Tamils?
  6. Sangaree claims that "His Excellency has assured" that the 13th amendment "is only an interim measure". If MahindaR thinks that the much touted APRC proposal is only an interim measure why has he not revealed what is going to be the final measure? Surely he would have had enough time to consider this question.

What is abundantly clear is that the final objectives of Sangaree and the coalition that he is heading are precisely those of the LTTE only that he is not following violent means of armed struggle. But some of the partners of his coalition like PLOTE and EPRLF have been terrorists before and will not hesitate to revert to their old tactics if they do not get what they want by following the non-violent route.

Those who consider the APRC as only the first step will have to consider where this journey will end. It will take the country through Federalism to final separation. As ACSLU has argued Sri Lanka has really two options. Either adopt the Apartheid Principle (q.v.) or the Multicultural Principle (q.v.). The forrmer will divide the country on a racial or ethnic basis, while the latter will maintain the unitary basis but as a secular, democratic and multicultural nation. The latter requires a firm guarantee of civil and human rights with a strong and independent judiciary to determine and correct any violations. So far all parties and groups (including the APRC) have only suggested solutions based on the Apartheid Principle, and no once seems to have seriously investigated the Multicultural principle. The vast majority of states in the world are multi-ethnic. Yet only few of them have resorted to the separatist solution, and these have generally ended in disaster.

Sangaree and the alliance of Tamil groups he is heading believe in ethnic separation or the Apartheid Principle. That is why he seeks a separate territory governed by a Provincial Council or a Federal state which will be elected by a Tamil majority and exclusively for Tamils. The irony of his position is that he admits that "more than half of the Tamil population is living in the South happily among the Sinhalese and Muslims." He does not answer the question why, if this is so, should the other less than half of Tamils need a separate Provincial Council?

VG


Speech of V. Anandasangaree at Submission of APRC Proposals

It may be a surprise to all of you to see me participating in today's ceremony held to hand over an interim report of the APRC to His Excellency the President by Hon. Tissa Vitharana. I owe an explanation to the People of this country, to the International Community and also to Sri Lankans living abroad, as to why I am giving my support for the implementation of the 13th Amendment in full, as a first step before a final solution is recommended by the APRC.

I speak also on behalf of Mr. D. Sitharthan and Mr. T. Sritharan representing the PLOTE and the Pathmanabha EPRLF, respectively with whom the TULF has formed an alliance in the good interest of the Tamil speaking minorities. It is no secret that that we had been agitating for a solution based on the Federal concept and also offered to accept the Indian Model as an alternative if the term federal is allergic to any one. We have not changed our views in this matter and in the matter of merger of the North and the East. We assure everybody that while spurning violence we will by non-violent means and in a friendly way continue to persuade the citizens of our country to agree that no permanent solution can be found under a Unitary System. We will continue to dispel the fears of those who think that country will be divided. We will take all steps to erase off the minds of our people the idea of separation and to strongly support the concept of a United Sri Lanka.

To achieve this, the Government and the Media should seriously discourage propagating one section of the People as superior or inferior to another. We have joined today in this historic assembly that could be described as the Constituent Assembly taking its first step towards bringing peace, to the bleeding Nation and to its people who had undergone untold hardships for a period of half a century and more particularly during the past 25 years.

We have joined this assembly today to show our solidarity on behalf of the Tamil people, for the re-birth of a Nation where we the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays, Burgers and Members of all the other small groups live as equals in all respects, in a society where one is in no way superior or inferior to the other.

We dispute the claim of any one who says that this country belongs to one group or to the other. With only about 22 miles of the Palk Strait separating Sri Lanka from India, we call upon the 60 Million Tamils living across this strait to give their blessings and their co-operation to bring back normalcy and peace for our people and wish us a bright future without being misled by a handful of pro-LTTE Leaders on both sides. We assure the Tamils living across, that there is no attempt by anybody to annihilate the Tamils and that contrary to that, more than half of the Tamil population is living in the South happily among the Sinhalese and Muslims reposing confidence in them, far away from their tradition places of habitation.

Over a period of 20 years several opportunities were given to the LTTE to come back to the negotiating table. I had even volunteered to negotiate with the Government to obtain them a prominent role in the Administration of the North and the East. Even a general amnesty for the Leaders and the Cadre was offered. They did not pay any attention to any offer. Instead they are sacrificing valuable human lives on both sides every day. Even now these offers are open.

It is regrettable to note that apart from exposing our people to grave danger they have once again started massacring innocent Sinhalese Villagers who mind their own business without any interest in Politics. Our people, I mean the Sri Lankans had suffered enough, loss enough and are living in constant fear and tension. They want relief now.

His Excellency has assured that the APRC will continue with its task and the implementation of the 13th amendment is only an interim measure. We hope APRC will continue this process in the same spirit and find a solution which will meet the aspirations of the Tamil-speaking people. We whole-heartedly support His Excellency's efforts to find Peace in our country.

I thank Hon. Tissa Vitharana and representatives of various political parties for the efforts they took.