Re-planting Mutual Mistrust

N Sathiya Moorthy, The Sunday Leader, Colombo, 4 May 2014

 ArtSome of the Tamils’ politico-diplomatic successes, particularly in Geneva-2012, owed to the manipulated and calibrated public mood in the south Indian State of Tamil Nadu, which influenced their competitive polity and Government more than already, to pressure New Delhi into doing the SLT Diaspora’s bidding, albeit through the good offices of the US and the rest of the West in UNHRC. By the time Geneva-2014 arrived, sections of the Tamil polity in Sri Lanka was convinced that it would be more of barking and less of biting.

One more like this week’s twin-blasts in the Chennai Central railway station, the public mood in the State could swing the other way round, condemning the ‘air of permissiveness’ that the Geneva-centric political protests had entailed in the past years. Coupled with this is the new lessons that the State – both the local government and the people at large – are learning about the Pakistani ISI’s efforts at using Sri Lanka as a base, and the misled among the Muslims in that country, to target India, through and in Tamil Nadu. The pan-Tamil, pro-LTTE linkages cannot escape attention, either.

In its country report on Terrorism-2013, the US State Department has now acknowledged the continued, post-war existence of the LTTE’s financial network of support and its use of international contacts and the large Tamil Diaspora in North America, Europe, and Asia to procure weapons, communications, funding, and other needed supplies. The report said that the LTTE members or supporters are operating in Sri Lanka and India. This could add to the pressures on the Governments in India – not just the Centre and in Tamil Nadu – to review the nation’s existing policy on the ‘ethnic issue’ when a post-poll government assumes power in New Delhi later this month.
For the US, as the sole super-power, the Terrorism-2013 report has both queries and answers. The report has acknowledged that the LTTE was procuring weapons, hence the start-up legitimacy to the Sri Lankan Government naming LTTE entities across the world that the world had tried to push under the UNHRC carpet initially. Two, the LTTE continues to be a banned entity in most nations in which Sri Lankan Tamils have a substantial presence. The US is one of them. Now, the US report as a bench-mark annual assessment will cause all those nations to take the Sri Lankan ban seriously.

The US also has on its soil and citizenry, Viswanathan Rudrakumaran, the self-appointed ‘prime minister’ of a self-styled ‘trans-national government of Tamil eelam’, which too operates from within American territory. If the US takes itself and its own report seriously, it cannot but act on any specific Sri Lankan request pertaining to the ‘banned entities’ operating in and from its soil. That could sent out wrong signals to the SLT Diaspora on the one hand, and a wrong signal to the Tamil people back home, whom the TNA had told, could and should count on the international community from now on.

To these, one should add report that the US wanted to ‘resume comprehensive military relations’ with Sri Lanka. This is because the ‘military’ is one component in the Sri Lankan set-up that TNA despises just now, and for more than one reason. The ‘military’ would also be at the centre of any ‘accountability’ probe that the UNHRC may – or, may not be able to – initiate on the lines of the 2014 resolution. Any probe of the kind extricating the military out of the UNHRC mess would be unacceptable to the Tamils nearer home, and the TNA would have problems convincing them otherwise.

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