Wednesday, November 01, 2006

North East de-merger petitioners support the ‘de-merger’ of the Tamil nation from the Sri Lankan state?

I am one among many Tamils if not all Tamils who have been angered by the judgment in the de-merger case. It is my opinion as a law student that the judgment is flawed in many respects and as a Sri Lankan Tamil consider it to be the last nail in the coffin with regards to the minorities’ confidence in the impartiality and neutrality of our judicial system especially the Supreme Court 's capability to deal with politically sensitive issues relating to the conflict.

Here on this post I would like to comment on just one argument that was brought forward by the distinguished lawyers HL De Silva and Gomin Dayasri in their submissions to the court.

The lawyers in their petition submitted that ‘the merger (of the North and East) would result in the Muslim and Sinhala communities in the Eastern Province being permanently subjugated to a minority, which situation would be exacerbated by the process of ethnic cleansing carried out by the Tamil militants’.

If this was the reason for the need for the de-merger it may also be argued with the same logical reference that, given that the Tamils constitute a nation of their own and that they are minority in the Sri Lankan state and using the same dicta used by the petitioners, they have been ‘permanently subjugated to a minority’ within the Sri Lankan state, the Tamil nation should be de-merged from the Sri Lankan state. The petitioners who are contended in using the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ to the injustice meted out to the Muslims in the Eastern province I urge should be willing to accept that the Tamils were also subject to ethnic cleansing by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the past and one is tempted to ask whether the same argument can be used to argue for a ‘de-merger’ of the Tamil Nation from the Sri Lankan state? Hence to follow the same argument of the JVP lawyers in the case would lead us to justify a separate state for the Sri Lankan Tamils.

My contention is that the argument for a united Sri Lanka stems from emotional political reasoning from the majority community. Those who emphasise the need to stick to a united country should also remember that the argument for a traditional homeland from the Tamil people is one that stems from a history of marginalization through ethnic colonization in areas that Tamil people historically habitate. All Tamil parties in 1985 enunciated this principle without any reservations in a univocal voice at the Thimpu talks. This politically sensitive issue dear to the political aspirations of the Tamil people has been unilaterally set aside by the Supreme Court in this case.

I still believe that humans are inherently good and hence that coexistence and cohabitation of the different communities is possible. The judgment adds one more episode in contemporary history which continues to negate this belief that I hold.