Differentiate Between Ethnic and Separatist
Conflicts for Effective Peace Efforts  

By Dr. S. Narapalasingam

President Mahinda Rajapakse at a meeting with Parliamentarians of
the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) held at Temple Trees on
December 21 is reported to have given them an assurance that “he
will consider the North East Problem in an innovative spirit and
dedicate himself in the search for a new path for a solution”. On the
next day December 22 he told the Colombo-based Indian journalists,
he was keen to study India’s system of devolution, as it could be a
model for Sri Lanka to grant extensive devolution without altering the
unitary character of the state. “I am for a unitary state with maximum
possible devolution”, he said. Unless the difference between the
long-standing ethnic conflict and the relatively recent separatist
conflict that escalated into a gory war two decades ago is taken into
consideration in the approach to permanent peace, the chances are
the conflicts will remain unresolved with further deepening of the
present crisis. Because of the many opportunities missed to resolve
the ethnic conflict before the LTTE became a formidable force, the
path to peace is now full of obstacles. The reality is the LTTE is not
simply a guerrilla group. It has practically all the trappings of a
government. Importantly, the Tamil Tigers have the expertise to
avoid getting trapped in situations where they have to give up their
independence goal.  

These facts have been taken lightly or ignored by many especially
the powerful parties in the South and foreign countries keen on
restoring unity and peace in the conflict-ridden island. Even many
conflict resolution experts have failed to recognize the difference
between the ethnic problem and the North-East issue. The
international community has been erroneously considering the
separatist conflict to be just an extension of the protest against the
discrimination of the minority Tamils in political, social and economic
domains. This misconception is lending support to the belief that
permanent peace through a negotiated political settlement fair to all
ethnic communities, as stressed repeatedly by India and other
countries keen on preserving the territorial integrity and unity of Sri
Lanka is possible.

The confusion is also due to the misleading signals given by the
separatists to sustain their plan while advancing shrewdly towards
their resolute goal. The Tamil National Alliance (TNA)
parliamentarians have also been misleading others by stating at
various times that the LTTE has agreed to a ‘Federal solution’.
Either they themselves have not grasped the difference between the
two conflicts or such statements are part of the scheme to confuse
the world. The resolution of the ethnic conflict is not the real concern
of the LTTE. The failed moves to resolve this conflict through
constitutional reforms entailing amongst others maximum devolution
of powers pleased the Tigers. These have given increased
confidence to continue with the struggle for independence.

The ethnic conflict is the result of the thoughtlessness of the past
governments that played the communal card for short-term political
gains, ignoring the necessity to maintain unity and peace vital for
the future of the country and the well-being of the people. Ironically,
present political leaders too seem to be acting on the basis of their
wishful thinking. By turning a blind eye to the ground realities, their
approach to the complex national problem lacks sagacity and
foresight. Speaking on the 2006 Budget debate, Chief Opposition
Whip Mahinda Samarasinghe said in Parliament on December 21
that it was important to understand what motivates the LTTE and its
leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, when handling the peace process.
Further he said: there should be a discussion in the South, to try to
evaluate the nature of the LTTE and also try to understand what
motivates Prabhakaran. It is strange that without this knowledge his
party leader signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in
February 2002 and inaugurated jointly with the LTTE leader the
futile ‘peace process’.

From Vaddukkoddai to liberated Vanni

The LTTE supreme leader has declared repeatedly that the aim of
the armed struggle launched against the Sri Lankan State is as
stated in the 1976 Vaddukkoddai Resolution. The Resolution stated:
”The First National Convention of the Tamil United Liberation Front,
meeting at Pannakam (Vaddukkoddai Constituency), hereby
declares that the Tamils of Ceylon, by virtue of their great language,
their religions, their separate culture and heritage, their history of
independent existence as a separate state over a distinct territory
for several centuries till they were conquered by the armed might of
the European invaders, and above all by their will to exist as a
separate entity ruling themselves in their territory, are a nation and
apart from the Sinhalese and their constitution, announces to the
world that the Republican Constitution of 1972 has made the Tamils
a slave nation ruled by the new colonial masters, the Sinhalese who
are using the power they have wrongly usurped to deprive the Tamil
Nation of its territory, language, citizenship, economic life,
opportunities of employment and education and thereby destroying
all attributes of nationhood ……… resolves that the restoration and
reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular Socialist State of
Tamil Eelam based on the right of self-determination inherent in
every nation has become inevitable in order to safeguard the very
existence of the Tamil Nation in this country.”      

The Convention also called upon the Tamil youth to come forward
and join in the sacred fight for freedom and not to baulk till the goal
of a sovereign, socialist and secular state of Tamil Eelam is
reached. Having taken a Tamil nationalist position disregarding the
consequences, the TULF leaders abandoned the essence of the
Vaddukkoddai Resolution after the party captured 17 parliamentary
seats at the 1977 general elections on the popular sentiments of the
electorate to the Resolution.

Although the word “nation” did not refer to a state but to a
population having Tamil as their mother tongue, the Sinhala
nationalists interpreted it differently as a Tamil state that
encompassed the Northern and Eastern provinces as well as the
upcountry populated by Tamils of recent Indian origin. Many
Sinhalese scholars claim that the present Eastern Province was
historically part of the Kandy kingdom. The Resolution neither
changed the domineering attitude of the power seeking Sinhalese
political leaders nor helped the Tamils to mobilise international
support for their cause. The 1978 Republican Constitution that
replaced the lambasted 1972 Constitution was not different in so far
as the neglected Tamil grievances were concerned. The Tamil
political leaders committed the same blunder as their Sinhalese
counterparts with the Vaddukkoddai Resolution, ignoring the
consequences for the future of their community and the
country.            

The declared goal was abandoned by all militant Tamil groups
except the LTTE, when India intervened in 1987 to stop the
continuing hostilities in Sri Lanka in return for a political settlement
based on the Accord reached by the two governments.
Ketheshwaran Loganathan, Director, Centre for Policy Alternatives,
has given a detailed account of the happenings before and after the
Accord in his book “LOST OPPORTUNITIES – Past Attempts at
Resolving Ethnic Conflict” published in December 1996. He has
described exactly the defiant method used by the LTTE leader to
reject the Accord and in particular the Provincial Council for the
North and East, because the system would have dashed any hope
of attaining independent Tamil Eelam.   

Tactics since Thimpu talks

The tactics that the LTTE intended to use and in fact used
successfully to sustain and strengthen the liberation struggle were
evident two decades ago from the often cited response of Anton
Balasingham, the theoretician cum adviser of the Liberation Tigers
of Tamil Eelam to the question – what will happen to our aspired
goal, if the government agrees to all the demands (not separation)
put forward at the Thimpu talks? The answer given instantaneously
was that further demands would be made.

The Indo-Lanka Agreement to establish peace and normalcy in Sri
Lanka was signed by the Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi and
the President of Sri Lanka, J. R. Jayewardene on 29 July 1987
despite the opposition within his own party and the Sinhala
nationalists. It soon brought to the surface the uncompromising
stand of the LTTE on separation. The LTTE leader, in a speech
delivered at a public meeting in Suthumalai on 4th August said: “Let
me make it clear to you here, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I
will continue to fight for the objective of attaining Tamil Eelam
………. The liberation Tigers yearns for the motherland of Tamil
Eelam” (Ref. page 132 K. Loganathan). The motto – ‘the thirst of the
Tigers is the homeland of Tamil Eelam’ continues to be displayed
prominently in LTTE’s publications.

Regarding the tactics the LTTE used later in confronting the IPKF
(Indian Peace Keeping Force) the following quote is also taken from
Loganathan’s book. “Prabhakaran was equally candid to an Indian
journalist, explaining at length how he planned to ‘play politics’ to
counter the Indian military establishment. The strategy, he said,
would be to provoke the IPKF to attack Sri Lankan Tamil civilians. It
would be so fine tuned as not to arouse any suspicion.” Those who
have followed the strategies used since then by the LTTE to
outmaneuver or directly obstruct the moves of the adversaries will
realize the significance of the stated tactic. The enemy is portrayed
as most inhuman, insensitive to human rights and plight of
oppressed Tamils.        

There are many tactical moves which succeeded in avoiding
setbacks to or even the collapse of the liberation struggle which
require a second volume to document. Ketheshwaran Loganathan
has in his book included those used until the time Eelam War II
broke out on June 11, 1990 six months after the Indian army
withdrew. The one that is worth mentioning here relates to the way
the IPKF was compelled to withdraw without accomplishing the
intended tasks. President Premadasa’s “aversion to the sharing of
power with the Provinces, or with anyone else for that matter” was
well known. He was also against the presence of Indian army in Sri
Lanka. The LTTE had the right person at the helm in 1989 to get rid
of the Indian army from the North-East.

Ketheshwaran has observed: “The call by President Premadasa to
India to expedite the de-induction of the IPKF was also his response
to a gathering momentum in the South, led by the JVP, against
Indian intervention. The theme of ‘patriotism’ used by the JVP to
intensify its agitations and armed activities against the State was a
problem that President Premadasa could only contain by
appropriating the same ‘patriotic’ slogans.” The usefulness of
“Peace Talks” at that time between his government and the LTTE
has to be seen in this backdrop. “Talking with the LTTE and getting
into a ceasefire arrangement with them would certainly render the
role of the IPKF, which came to disarm the LTTE, superfluous.
Opening the door to the LTTE was therefore completely logical”.  
The LTTE too had a motive for engaging in “Peace Talks” with the
then government. Besides succeeding in ousting the IPKF, the LTTE
also obtained supply of arms from the Premadasa Administration.
The North-East Provincial Council members accused the
Government of arming the LTTE to destabilize the N-E
Administration and to exert pressure on India to withdraw the IPKF.
These were also the aims of the LTTE that wanted nothing short of
independent Tamil Eelam.  The LTTE leader too was against
sharing power with the government in Colombo as well as with
political parties in the North-East.         

Contrary to what many believed, the real motives of both the UNF
government and the LTTE behind the 2002 ceasefire and “Peace
Talks” were not a negotiated political settlement to the conflict. The
relevant political issues were never discussed nor an agenda
prepared for discussing them. In the case of the LTTE, given the
rigid stand on independent homeland of Tamil Eelam, there was no
need for discussing the political issues. The conflict is about
separation and not the problems faced by Tamils under unitary
rule.     

LTTE’s intransigence

The uncompromising stand of the LTTE on separation was revealed
again when Anton Balasingham, LTTE’s chief negotiator during the
2002-2003 ‘Peace Talks’ in his speech delivered in London on 27
November 2005 said bluntly that the Tigers have no objection to
unitary system of government. The Sinhalese can have theirs in the
South and the Tamil speaking people will have theirs in the North-
East. The way he withdrew belatedly from the 2002 Oslo Agreement
which the Sri Lankan government and the donor countries took it to
mean that the LTTE had renounced separation and accepted
federalism, also highlights their uncompromising stand on self-
determination.   

At the very early stage of the struggle itself, the LTTE leader made it
very clear that his movement was not concerned about the problems
of the Tamils living outside the North-East. (More Tamils are now
living outside than within the North-East region.) They are welcomed
to live in the North-East, if they feel mistreated and insecure in the
South. Despite such emphatic statements, many hoped that the
LTTE would accept a suitable federal system in lieu of separation.
Many thought the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami that destroyed many
lives and property in the North-East, including the facilities used by
the LTTE would bring the rebels back to the negotiating table and
seek a settlement within united Sri Lanka. The rebels in Indonesia’s
Aceh province began peace talks soon after that tragic day and
agreed to give up their struggle for separation and hand in all the
weapons in their possession under a historic peace deal. In the case
of the separatist conflict in Sri Lanka, the LTTE only suspended the
struggle. The period of suspension is now known to be just one
year.   

There are also some who think that the declared independent Tamil
homeland goal is only a bargaining chip for getting maximum
autonomy. K.Godage, a foreign affairs and political commentator
who served as ambassador and held other diplomatic positions
before retiring from government service as Additional Secretary to
the Foreign Ministry in his feature article in the Sunday Island
December 11, 2005 thinks “the climate is right once again to work
sincerely towards a settlement but it would require the LTTE to also
compromise and forget some of the statements they made in the
past”. How he came to this conclusion is extremely puzzling.
Nevertheless, the statements he has cited as contrary to a political
settlement are relevant to the present analysis.

These are: "If I don’t deliver Eelam, you should kill me" —
Prabhakaran; "Tamil Eelam when established will not be a
democracy. Democracy is unacceptable to us" — Prabhakaran; and
"It is either Eelam secured at the point of a gun or nothing. No table
talk resolutions will satisfy us" — LTTE spokesman”. Regarding the
first quote, what the LTTE leader really meant was any Tamil had
the right to kill him if he at any time compromised on the Eelam goal.
He affirmed this statement during the April 2002 media conference
in Kilinochchi. The meeting attended by both local and foreign media
persons took place in a climate of high hope and great expectation
throughout the country. People were not willing to dim their hopes
and expectations then despite his stated intention to stick
unwaveringly to his Tamil Eelam goal. Even after the current
escalation in claymore mine and grenade attacks in the North-East,
two Sri Lankan ministers, while talking to reporters at Chennai
airport on December 27 have claimed: “The atmosphere in Sri
Lanka was conducive for resumption of peace talks between the
government and the LTTE.” It is puzzling how they came to this
conclusion, when the ground situation is very different.  

The co-chairs of the 2003 Aid Sri Lanka Conference in Tokyo seem
to have now come to the conclusion that the policy of appeasing the
LTTE has not worked. President Mahinda Rajapakse’s new
government issued a strong statement condemning the attack on
December 23 in Mannar allegedly by the LTTE in which 13 navy
men died. It said: "These continued attacks raise serious doubts on
the LTTE's commitment to a political settlement. It is clear that the
claymore mine explosion had been planned in a way to cause
maximum casualties among the Security Forces. ………… Planned
attacks like this by the LTTE are aimed at disrupting the peace
initiatives by the government.” Only when such major visible losses
happen, the nature and the gravity of the complex national problem
are perceived.

In his annual 2005 “Heroes’ Day” speech delivered on November 27,
LTTE leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran said: “As far as the Tamil
people are concerned, the concepts of peace, ceasefire and
negotiations have become meaningless; concepts that do not
correspond to or reflect reality. A shadow war conducted under
conditions of peace, military occupation perpetrated in violation of
the terms of ceasefire, an international subversive network woven
during political negotiations, are the distorted ways the peace
process has been abused. Because of these factors our people
have lost faith in everything.

Our people have lost faith in a peace process that has failed to
secure them a real, peaceful life; they have lost faith in a ceasefire
that has failed to remove the occupation army from their homes;
they have lost faith in the talks that have failed to resolve their long
standing problems.” According to him even the ceasefire has
become meaningless, because of military occupation in violation of
the cease-fire agreement. The “long standing problems” pertain to
those arising from the continued presence of military in residential
and farming areas designated as ‘High Security Zones’. These do
not refer to the various unresolved problems relating to the ethnic
conflict.  

Furthermore, the LTTE leader said on November 27: “We have now
reached a significant historic turning point in our struggle for self-
determination. The ruling elites of southern Sri Lanka will never
recognise our people’s right to self-determination. The Tamil right to
self-determination will never find space in the entrenched
majoritarian constitution and in the political system built on that
constitutional structure. Our people have, therefore, realised that
they have no alternative other than to fight and win their right to self-
determination. Self-determination entails the right to freely choose,
without external interference, our political life. ……………… Our
people did not participate in the (Presidential) election even though
they had the voting power to determine the election of a new
president. The non-participation of the Tamils should not be
construed as a judgment of the personalities or policies of the
presidential candidates. Rather, this political boycott was an
expression of deep distrust and disillusionment of the Tamil people
with the Sinhala political system. This event symbolises a serious
turning point in the political history of the Tamils. It signifies that the
Tamil people may choose their own path and freely determine their
own political destiny”. It does not require much thinking to notice the
divergence between President Rajapakse’s adherence to unitary
state and Prabhakaran’s determination to install an administrative
system under the supreme control of the LTTE.

The warning issued by the Co-Chairs of the June 2003 Tokyo Aid
Sri Lanka Conference at the conclusion of the meeting held in
Brussels on 19 December 2005 to review the disturbing situation in
Sri Lanka has not produced the desired result, as evident from the
surge in the violations of the CFA. The Co-Chairs in their statement
had called “on the LTTE to put an immediate end to their on-going
campaign of violence and again urge the LTTE to demonstrate their
commitment to the Ceasefire Agreement and the peace process.
Failure to demonstrate a willingness to change would not be without
serious consequences." Recently, the head of Sri Lanka Monitoring
Mission (SLMM), Hagrup Haukland blamed the Tigers for the recent
violent attacks on navy personnel in Mannar. Similar attacks have
taken place with high casualties in the Jaffna peninsula since then.    

The LTTE leadership has blamed the Sri Lankan army and navy for
the current escalation of violent attacks in the North and East,
whereas the government has accused the Tigers of launching
planned attacks to provoke its security forces. The confusing
situation in the restive North-East with various conspiracy theories
advanced by analysts, for instance on the brutal killing of Joseph
Pararajasingham, a TNA parliamentarian when he was attending a
Christmas eve midnight service at St. Mary's church in Batticaloa
town casts a shadow on the prospects for peace in the region. The
silence of religious and other responsible Tamil leaders to such
horrendous acts that will result in the annihilation of cultural values
is shocking. The threat to the future of Tamils seems much greater
from internal rather than external factors. There are sufficient
grounds to think that the process of self-destruction is underway.

Benita Ferriero – Waldner EU Commissioner for External Affairs
responding in her open letter to the petitions of the expatriate Tamils
stating their objections to travel ban imposed by the European Union
on 26 September said: it was most unfortunate that EU has not
witnessed any progress in the LTTE’s attitude since the September
statement. She also stated: “Once again, we will assess progress by
the LTTE against the four elements I have mentioned :-  renouncing
violence, stopping political killings, putting an end to child soldier
recruitment and allowing for political pluralism in the North and East
of Sri Lanka. I hope that the petitioners will use their good offices to
convey this message of urgency to the LTTE's leadership”. The
determination of the LTTE to stick to its plan for achieving the Eelam
goal, regardless of such demands and warnings is quite clear.

Peace talks

R.Sampanthan, TNA parliamentary group leader in a press release
on December 23 after a delegation of the TNA met with the Indian
High Commissioner Nirupama Rao and discussed at length the
current volatile situation in the North-East and concerns about
potential breakdown of the Cease-Fire Agreement said: they
“impressed upon the High Commissioner the need for peace talks to
commence without further delay”. President Rajapakse’s visit to
India did not result in changing the country’s stand taken after the
withdrawal of the IPKF. The Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan
Singh remained non-committed on President Rajapakse's
suggestion for India’s direct role in the peace process. India utilized
the talks to send out a strong signal that it favours restarting the
stalled peace process and that there should be no violence or
violation of the ceasefire. The call for the resumption of direct talks
suspended in April 2003 has been made by various parties that
believe on a negotiated political settlement to the separatist conflict.

The Co-Chairs in their December 19 statement said: “The prospects
for long-term peace lie in the hands of the Government of Sri Lanka
and the LTTE. The Sri Lankan people want peace. A failure to
respond to this desire would be a tragic step backward. The Co-
Chairs note the recent LTTE appeal for ‘a reasonable political
framework’. … The Co-Chairs welcome the agreement of the Sri
Lankan Government and the LTTE to hold immediate talks to review
the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement, and also welcome
Japan's offer to host these. They strongly urge both sides to start
such talks without further delay or prevarication”.

There are two points that deserve clarification here.  The appeal for
‘a reasonable framework’ from the leadership of the present
government that wants to retain the unitary character of the State
cannot be taken seriously. It is nothing more than finding a
justification to continue the struggle for separation. However, the
recent developments indicate the planned struggle suspended
because of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami may resume early without
waiting for the requested ‘framework’. The second thing is the
correct description of the proposed talks. The aim is precisely “to
review the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement” and here too
it must be emphasized that the LTTE is opposed to major revision of
the CFA. From LTTE’s perspective the review must be strengthen
measures to disarm the paramilitaries, meaning the renegade
Karuna group.       

The Co-Chairs have also welcomed, “the President's aim to develop
a credible political platform in the South to take the peace process
forward. The Co-Chairs call on all in the South, particularly the main
political parties, to contribute constructively and flexibly. The Co-
Chairs believe that such a settlement should be based on a united
Sri Lanka, taking account of the aspirations of all communities.”
Here the Co-chairs have assumed the separatist conflict to be just
an extension of the ethnic conflict, which as explained here is not the
case. In so far as the LTTE is concerned the ‘Peace Talks’ are not
for a final settlement acceptable to all parties but for sustaining
conditions helpful for advancing the struggle for self-rule.   

Ethnic nationalism

Lasting peace cannot be achieved by dividing the small multi-ethnic
country or by promoting the nationalism of different ethnic groups,
ignoring the common identity as citizens of one united country. The
absence of this national identity also hinders political, social and
economic development. There is ample evidence to conclude that
the ethnic tension and disunity that emerged in Sri Lanka after
independence resulted from the use of ethnic nationalism as a
means to capture political power. This in turn destroyed unity and
peace and impeded social and economic development. The rise of
Tamil nationalism is the inevitable reaction to pro Sinhala
nationalistic policies of successive governments since 1956. The
Muslims have now started reacting similarly to the rise of Tamil
nationalism, threatening to carve out a Muslim region in the Eastern
Province. Sadly, even after experiencing the terrible outcomes of
short-sighted political decisions influenced by Sinhala nationalism,
the practice has not gone.   

The emergence of separatism is the end result of the conflict
between Sinhala nationalism and Tamil nationalism. It is a struggle
for the liberation of the land considered by the Tamil nationalists as
theirs based on the settlement pattern at the time of independence
in 1948. The deprived rights, insecurity and neglect of the
aspirations and concerns of the Tamils are now used by the Tamil
separatists to justify the division of the island into two states.
Besides the doubts about the desirability, there are practical
problems in partitioning the island in the way sought by the
separatists. As a result of settling many Sinhalese in several
colonization schemes launched by successive governments since
independence in the border areas, there is a sizeable proportion of
Sinhalese in the Eastern province. In some districts there, the
majority of residents are Muslims, who have expressed vehemently
their opposition to any Tamil majoritarian rule. The multi-ethnic
Trincomalee district has also strategic significance not only for the
parties to the conflict but also to India. One of the best natural
harbours in the Indian Ocean is in Trincomalee.               

When decisions are largely influenced by parochial and emotional
factors, both the broad and long-term consequences get ignored.
The prejudiced thinking of the Sinhalese political leaders influenced
largely by imagined fears that led to the present crisis is a case in
point. Unfortunately, the same kind of thinking seems to be
influencing decisions relating to the liberation of North-East region
from Sinhala majoritarian rule. People residing there have become
less important than the land to be liberated. All their sufferings are
attributed to the acts of commission and omission of the
governments in Colombo. These are now handy for justifying
separation. Resistance to government’s moves to alleviate the
hardships is also intrinsic to the strategy to keep the government
aloof.      

Tisaranee Gunasekara the regular Asian Tribune columnist and a
critic of the LTTE in her December 11 piece has exposed the true
position of the Sinhalese and Tamil nationalists on federalism. She
has observed: “The Sinhala supremacists think that federalism is
what the LTTE is actually after since in their fevered imagination it is
akin to Eelam; the Tiger appeasers believe that the Tigers would
settle for federalism only if there is a Southern consensus in favour
of it, soon. It is this illusion that is sustaining the federalism vs.
unitary debate and enabling the LTTE to further the Eelam cause
irrespective of who is holding office in Colombo. The LTTE is not
interested in federalism except as a stick to beat the Sinhala
supremacists with. The Tigers’ public (and repeated) rejection of the
Oslo Agreement should have made that clear but this rejection is
being glossed over by proponents and opponents alike, albeit for
different reasons”.  It is very true that the positions on important
matters stated by the LTTE leader are ignored and only some minor
comments made in passing are given undue emphasis.  A good
example is the President’s response to Prabhakaran’s 2005 Annual
Heroes’ Day speech.  The President was captivated by the
description about him as a practical person. This was probably
intended to convey a different message, namely, the acceptance of
the ‘reality’ of the existence of two nations and a functioning
administrative system encompassing sizeable areas (70% according
to the LTTE) in the North and East under Tigers control.  

The plain fact is the Tamil Eelam goal is non-negotiable to the
LTTE. The LTTE will willingly discuss the Interim Self-Governing
Authority (ISGA) proposals submitted by the LTTE at the end of
October 2003 to the then government but not issues relating to final
settlement within a single unitary or federal structure. Even an
interim arrangement along the lines of the ISGA proposals is not
feasible now. Muslims have already rejected the ISGA proposals
because of the domineering role given to the LTTE.

Tamil nationalism will grow with the continued influence of Sinhala
nationalism on politics and government decisions. A few months ago
Anton Balasingham, the ideologue of the LTTE said the JVP and
JHU are the closest allies of the Tamil separatists. In Sri Lanka
unitary system is closely tied to ethnic nationalism and has little
connection to the concept of unity on diversity. The challenge to the
southern polity not just to the government alone is to shift away from
the majority-minority ethnic division and ensure permanently equal
rights and opportunities for all groups in all the provinces. Without a
major attitudinal change followed by quick remedial actions, the case
for separation will remain intact. This is precisely what the
separatists want to justify the continuation of their liberation struggle.