– by Shenali D Waduge –
Sri Lanka and India need to clearly identify 2 crucial factors primarily because in not distinguishing between the two both nations are embroiled in controversy. The Indo-Lanka Peace Accord signed between President J R Jayawardena and Rajiv Gandhi on 29 July 1987 was between two leaders from Sri Lanka and India as equal partners pledging a set of commitments with the other. As a consequence to India’s desire to merge the North and East, the Sri Lankan Government introduced 2 bills – 13th amendment and the Provincial Council Bill – both internal documents and have NOTHING whatsoever to do with India that warrants menons, lemons or cannons to repeatedly arrive or make phone calls of threats and coercions. It is good for all to remember that the North and East merged on India’s prerogative was officially and legally demerged and India had nothing to do about or could not stop it either.
Is the Indo-Lanka Accord valid?
The Indo-Lanka Accord was signed between 2 heads of state in what we would normally call a mutual agreement. We now question not only its validity but the accuracy of its clauses as well.
India’s guilt in training, arming and financially supporting Sri Lankan Tamil militant groups was confirmed by the Jain Commission report of India which gave sites for training in India. Therefore, on what moral ground did India have to draft an Accord claiming to solve the crisis India virtually created?
Contracts are generally signed under mutual consent. Would we be exaggerating if we say the Indo-Lanka Accord was signed under duress? What type of international accord is signed with Indian jets hovering Sri Lanka’s air space, parippu dropped, where Sri Lanka’s cabinet has had to give undated resignation letters and are kept in a hotel and frisked to the venue of signature under armed escort and with state of emergency declared and even media are debarred from being present and Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister Premadasa opted not to attend while Minister Gamini Jayasuriya resigned to protest his disapproval of what was taking place? The Parliamentary Select Committee must table all these facts and not disclose the manner in which we came to be burdened with the Indo-Lanka Accord otherwise it would do the same fallacy that the LLRC made by omitting the background to the entire terrorist problem.
India has breached Indo-Lanka Accord promises
India DID NOT disarm ALL terrorists within 120hours (proven by the fact that the LTTE launched its fight against IPKF on 8 Oct 1987)
India promised to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka – why did India then give Rs.50million to the LTTE? Did this money not go to killing scores of Sri Lanka’s military and pose a national threat to Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka’s obligation to the Accord was conditional to India following through on 5 steps if the armed militants refused to surrender their weapons. India did not follow through on its initial 5 steps.
1. India assured that Indian territory was not used for activities prejudicial to the unity and security of Sri Lanka (this end of the bargain continues to be violated even to this day as Tamil Nadu politicians openly support the LTTE)
2. India assured Indian Navy would cooperate with Sri Lanka’s Navy to prevent Tamil militant activities (India did not uphold this assurance given that the LTTE freely travelled to and from Sri Lanka to India, transported weapons and other supplies, obtained medical assistance and even had offices in Tamil Nadu)
3. India assured to provide military assistance to implement Accord on the request of Sri Lanka but the IPKF operations took place without involvement of Sri Lanka which resulted in President Premadasa requesting IPKF to withdraw from Sri Lanka but the IPKF did not honor the deadline compelling President Premadasa to demand IPKF withdrawal.
4. India assured to expedite repatriation of Indian citizens residing in Sri Lanka to India. This obligation is long overdue and it is a good time to conduct a thorough DNA of all Tamils to ascertain whether they are Sri Lankan or Indian given that through 30 years many Indians would have come to settle in Sri Lanka.
5. India assured the physical security and safety of all communities in the Northern and Eastern provinces however the records of IPKF rape of Tamil women, the indiscriminate shooting on Tamil civilians, Sinhalese civilians in Trincomalee, Kantale and Habarana showed clearly that IPKF were ordered to either kill or chase out Sinhalese from these 2 provinces.
India has breached the Accord because it has NOT
· deported all Sri Lankan citizens found engaging in terrorist activities or advocating separatism or secessionism – which will invariably include Tamil politicians who are trotting to all corners of the world advocating separatism and secessionism
· kept its word on providing training facilities and military supplies for Sri Lankan security. In fact just last month on Tamil Nadu pressures, the Sri Lankan military on training were shifted and India did not supply weapons at crucial moments to Sri Lanka even the radar equipment given was faulty.
Thus, India breached its commitment to the Indo-Lanka Accord well before 3 months of the signing of the Accord itself.
If India has breached the Accord by failing to fulfill its end of the obligations promised does Sri Lanka need to continue to keep its end of the bargain and the charade of its existence?. An Accord does not hold water when only one party is following through on its commitments.
For an Accord to stand valid both parties need to perform their obligations, India has breached its obligations some of which India has not even obliged at all. If we apply the Pacta Sund Servanda (ie. Pacts are meant to be honored for agreements to be valid) and both parties must perform its mutually agreed obligations – we can confidently say that India has breached its obligations. The major offence committed by India was to help create the Tamil National Army recruiting local Tamils who were armed by the IPKF and tasked to support the Chief Minister Varatharaja Perumal who became the merged N&E Province’s 1st Chief Minister in whose cabinet Dayan Jayatilake also was a MP.
India by helping create and arm the Tamil National Army not only breached but totally violated its own assurance given to Sri Lanka that it would preserve the unity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka and it showed that India had not learnt any lessons from first arming and training Sri Lankan militants on Indian soil to doing the same on Sri Lankan soil as well. The arming of the Tamil National Army by India is itself sufficient to denounce the Indo-Lanka Pact altogether.
While the Indo-Lanka Accord requested a merger of the North and Eastern provinces (provincial system was a British introduced one) Sri Lanka upheld its end. But the legislative changes that went to fulfill Sri Lanka’s obligation was a local one and therefore 13th amendment was a purely internal arrangement which India cannot force rulings on. Nowhere does it say that India has to be consulted on any matter after the Accord has been signed and nowhere does it say in the 13th amendment or the Provincial Council Bill that India has to be consulted either. So what is this circus all about?
It is within Sri Lanka’s country law that Sri Lanka can decide to do away with the 13th amendment – India cannot object just like the demerger of N&E in 2006. It is obvious that India has strangulated Sri Lanka by financial investments forcing Sri Lanka’s silence on what ideally Sri Lanka should be protecting first – national security is what Sri Lanka must be concerned about FIRST – without that there is no requirement for any investment! By dilly dallying we will, out of own folly create Sri Lankas’ downfall.
Sri Lanka’s leaders need to now think of the future of the country and declare an unilateral repudiation given the facts of India’s violations of the Accord are well documented and Sri Lanka can officially declare that Sri Lanka is no way bound to continue to façade of maintaining that the Accord exists.
Other faux pas in the Accord
How can India claim to “nurture, intensify and strengthen the traditional friendships” between the two nations when it is totally erroneous to conclude that Sri Lanka’s problem was an “ethnic” one given that none of the proposals or solutions on the basis of the problem being “ethnic” worked including the Indo-Lanka Accord or the 13th amendment/PC system and the country suffered 30 years of death and destruction till within 3 years after defining Sri Lanka’s problem a terrorist one Sri Lanka was able to militarily take on the terrorists and defeat them.
· 1.4 – The Preamble to the Accord itself is faulty. There is no such “areas of historical habitation of Sri Lankan Tamil speaking people, who have at all times hitherto lived together in this territory”. This is an entirely fictitious statement and can easily be disproved. LTTE and Tamil academics have been doctoring documents in the museum and other historical data to build up a case. The culture and language of Tamils are no different to Tamil Nadu – where the real homeland for Tamils is. The Accord written by India “recognized” N & E as areas of historical habitation of the Tamil speaking people but the 13th amendment written by Sri Lanka made sure the former fallacy was omitted.
· 2.1 of the Accord says that the Government of Sri Lanka proposes to adjoin provinces to form one administrative unit. If so, the GOSL can also decide to do away with any such proposal too without India’s consent since it does not say that BOTH nations decided to adjoin the provinces.
· 2.3 Referendum was never held before 31st December 1988 since discretion was given in the Accord for the President to postpone the referendum. The Accord does not say anything of a referendum not being held or that it had to be held within a stipulated time after the President decides to postpone it. This may have been a lapse on the part of India for it would have thought that Sri Lanka’s President would have definitely held a referendum.
Tamils and 13th amendment
We know the LTTE outright condemned the 13th amendment and the PC but given the TULF’s only reference to Sinhala police, Sinhala army, Sinhala President it can be argued that even Tamils do not wish to continue with the PC system just like the rest of the majority Sinhalese – so it looks like only the politicians are really interested in continuing with the 13th amendment and the PC system. This is so because they think they can do a repeat of the Perumal UDI and install Vellala feudal rule treating all other Tamils as their slaves and the Tamil politicians know that this time round the West is very much keen to intervene in Sri Lanka but the Tamil politicians are dreaming if they think that they will be installed as leaders of this newly created nation.
Another aspect that needs to be accepted without challenge is the fact that with over 70% Sinhala Buddhists it is on this vote bank that any President can come into power. In a country with almost 15million of the 20million inhabitants belonging to one race and one religion this is a fact that needs to be accepted. When Sinhalese desire to reside in the North it is referred to as colonization but on what definition would they say of Tamils in their thousands taking up residence among the Sinhalese in the South? If Sinhalese Buddhists are called chauvanists by what connotation would it define Tamils who continuously make the error of saying Sinhala army, Sinhala President ? If Tamils shot and killed Tamil policemen discouraging them from joining the police force it is not the fault of the Sinhalese – the first bullets aimed by the LTTE were on Tamils! Given the demographical dynamics of Sri Lanka’s historical civilization and the fact that Sinhalese Buddhists constitute the majority in Sri Lanka it cannot be a mode for grievance. When the US put a puppet Catholic to head a Buddhist majority Vietnam did the minority Government look after the majority if anyone wishes to argue on minoritism? Things came to such an impasse that America had to themselves dislodge the very man they propped up as leader!
Returning to Sri Lanka when 13th amendment and elections allowed the emergence of a Tamil Chief Minister what did he go and do – he declared a unilateral declaration of independence because he had with him the backing of an India created Tamil National Army! Can Tamils now realize who created the mistrust?
TULF writing to the Indian PM on 28 July 1987 (day prior to the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord)
“to find a solution to our problem, put an end to our suffering and enable us to live in safety and security with freedom, honor and dignity” – this must be why more Tamils are today living amongst the Sinhalese than they are living in the North or the East because they have found all that they were seeking for amongst the Sinhalese! Who are we fooling?
The TULF letter also
· objected to a referendum in any part of the country and not after 1 year.
· requested dismantling of all camps and mini camps set up in North and East after 1983 including disarming Sinhala home guards as well as removal of STF commandos. The TNA is making this same request as are international human rights organizations, India and foreign governments.
· requested exclusion of Sinhala Police and Army for law enforcement in North and East (There was never any Sinhala Police or Army though the first bullets of Tamil militants fell on innocent TAMIL policemen simple public servants gunned down for no reason). Did the Indian IPKF not kill and rape scores of Tamils and Sinhalese?
· mentioned “administration of the Port of Trincomalee and the extent of the land to be utilized for activities related to the port” goes to show that India’s primary interest in merging N and E was the natural harbor in Trincomalee and Sri Lanka’s present day leaders have not had enough foresight to realize this but have fallen prey to the trimmings of what investments can offer by giving India industrial zones in close proximity to the harbor and now that US is fishing for a base once Diego Garcia’s lease is over, India’s servility has become perfect to push for a removal of Sri Lanka’s armed forces and legislative powers out of the North and East through the pressures brought by 13th amendment all in the run up to create a base in Sri Lanka.
Take a reality check!
Indo-Lanka was not an Agreement to create a Tamil Homeland – if so even after 30 years there is no Homeland created by India. It took no time for India to create Bangladesh or Sikkim. Therefore, Tamils must realize that India in pushing the Indo-Lanka Agreement did not have the interest of TAMILS at heart but “Tamil interest” became an easy slogan for India to use on the Sri Lankan Government – which India continues to do.
The book “Assignment Colombo by J N Dixit” reveals that the then Indian High Commissioner in Colombo had explicitly wanted Sri Lanka’s assurance that Sri Lanka would
1. reduce and phase out foreign military and intelligence personnel from UK, Pakistan, Israel, South Africa etc.
2. reorganize foreign and defense policies and reduce involvement with US, Pakistan, China, Israel and South Africa – today India is worshiping US
3. not allow its seaports and airports to be utilized by foreign powers antagonistic towards India or which would affect India’s security – initially this meant US, today this applies to China.
4. follow through on assurance given in 1985 that India would be allowed to maintain Trincomalee Oil Tank Farms and Sri Lanka would prevent foreign broadcasting stations like Voice of America
These demands had been made in 1985 by Minister Chidambaram in May and had been repeated the same year by both Dixit and Natwar Singh in 1986 obviously advisors of JR had simply thought that time would make India forget these demands and a proper answer was not given to put a full stop to the same demands being made continuously. We seem to be making this same mistake even now. India needs to be clearly told in no uncertain terms what Sri Lanka’s stand is otherwise India will be asking everything we cannot deliver.
Giving promises and not keeping them has angered the minorities who eventually blame the Buddhist majority public. Politicians need to refrain from misleading people.
Choices before the Sri Lankan Government
If India has used its international clout to ensure CHOGM is held in Sri Lanka and that came with the assurance to implement the 13th amendment the Sri Lankan Government has dug its own grave.
If it is a choice between the supposed “prestige” of holding a summit that celebrates colonial rule and the future of 20million people and a civilization of over 2500 year nation – Sri Lanka’s policy makers should not fall for short term gains at the cost of not only their future but the entire country as well.
If the Government thinks it can continue to pull curtains as it does over the Sri Lankan public it is gravely mistaken because the international powers are veterans at coups, regime change and creating false flag events and can out maneuver them any time and they are well aware of the weaknesses of both the President and his Government as well as the Opposition.
If Sri Lanka’s leaders continue to dither the fate of the nation and their own will be sealed. While other countries had their nations forcibly carved Sri Lanka will end up the first nation to willingly carve out a Sudan or Kosovo of our own doing.
If Sri Lanka’s leaders think that the 13th amendment is a political tool to be saved for the next elections they are advised to wonder whether there would be a nation for them to contest in by 2016 – see how nations have fallen like dominos!
If India maintains a position that India can interfere given the 13th amendment stemmed from the Indo-Lanka Accord, Sri Lanka needs to first clearly establish that the Indo-Lanka Accord does not exist by virtue of India having breached the initial obligations.
Sri Lanka’s President and all political parties need to wake up to the reality that the breed of politicians they are producing are by far the worst equipped to handle the national affairs of the country. Unless the entire political framework is revised to nurture political stalwarts that think beyond their purse the people themselves will soon reject each and all because there is a saying that the People cannot be fooled all the time and todays politicians are bordering the patience level of the People.
President Jayawardena despite all his faults had no choice but to sign the Indo-Lanka Accord given that the US refused to interfere, the military was not equipped and the Sri Lankan populace was not mentally prepared. Lets not forget that India carved out Bangladesh in 1971 and Sikkim in 1975. Today the scenario is far different. The President is on a high after the Victory over Terrorism, the People are behind the armed forces and the People will defend the nation.
The choice cannot be so difficult can it? The 1987 Indo-Lanka Accord marriage is now over. Sri Lanka must declare an unilateral repudiation – the violations and breaches by India are many and needs to be officially publicized.