MonitorsPublished on Nov 12, 2010
Overnight, there is more activity on the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora front than earlier. It is not only that the 'Trans-national government of Tamil Eelam' (TNGTE) has given itself a 'cabinet'with US-based Rudrakumaran as 'prime minister',
Sri Lanka: The Diaspora Talk
< class="heading1">Analysis

Overnight, there is more activity on the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora front than earlier. It is not only that the 'Trans-national government of Tamil Eelam' (TNGTE) has given itself a 'cabinet' with US-based Rudrakumaran as 'prime minister', even Sri Lankan diplomats have begun talking about them all in public, that too to audiences back home. There are even reports of the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa wanting to engage them while seeking a way out of what may end up emerging as an 'ethnic impasse' all over again.

It is not enough that the Government rethinks on engaging the Diaspora, as there again perceptions and priorities differ. Clearly, Colombo is looking for those Diaspora leaders that attest its course on the post-war issues of rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation. In a way, it is seeking Diaspora endorsement of its political approach that seems to be putting a higher premium on development over devolution.

The Sri Lankan Government approach is not far to seek. It wants the likes of 'KP' who would work with it, and on its purported terms. The aim seems more to weaken the Tamil Diaspora than achieve any normalisation of non-existent relationship dating back to the years of war, and not prior to the war.

There was no Tamil Diaspora worth the name before the ethnic war erupted decades ago. If anything, the Diaspora is both a cause and product of the war. Post-war, the pro-LTTE segments of the Diaspora requires a possible return to the past, to justify their own existence and feed their sustenance.

It is here that the existing and emerging divisions within the Diaspora keep coming to the fore. Broadly-speaking, there are those who want to try and use the LTTE era methods to keep the 'fire' alive, if not burning. There are the others, calling themselves the 'moderates', who want to return to the pre-LTTE methods but using the international tools acquired during the LTTE era unrelated to the identifiable LTTE tools of terrorism and insurgency.

Between these two, there may exist -- or, emerge -- a third group that might want to delineate between political moderation and LTTE's better known methods. They may want to return to insurgency but minus 'catastrophic terrorism' targeting non-State symbols, particularly innocent civilians on either side of the ethnic divide.

All three sections are waiting for the 'right time' to ripe back home in Sri Lanka. The 'international lobby' from among them may also be awaiting events in Sri Lanka that could lent greater credence and justification for their continuing, post-war call for a 'Tamil Eelam', still.

It is here the TNGTE's intentions and the Nediyavan group's methods should come in for closer scrutiny. The differences are obvious but the goals remain the same. At a time of their choosing -- or by a sheer historic accident, otherwise -- the two might become the twin edges of the same sword. Or, merge to form a third force.

It is here that the 2006 Diaspora talks of winning a 'Tamil Eelam' without the LTTE and Prabhakaran should assume significance. There was no reason for them to talk in such terms post-Maavilaru, where the LTTE had lost a conventional war and had also failed in its suicide-mission against Sri Lanka Army chief, Sarath Fonseka, months earlier. Considering that a lot of war was left -- and was expected -- even after Thoppigala, there is a lot that this section of the Diaspora has to explain to the other groups from within, now or later.

Their reference, particularly in Colombo, Chennai and New Delhi, and also rest of national and international capitals, revolved around the post-9/11 global discomfort with the LTTE brand of terrorism, and expectations of greater, if not immediate acceptance of a moderate, political approach to promoting the cause of 'Tamil Eelam' on the world stage. Derived from this argument is the inevitable conclusion that 'insurgency' is on but not terrorism.

It is this that should make Colombo wary of the TNGTE, and its calibrated but low-profile, stage-by-stage approach to seeking an international presence in the months after the conclusion of the ethnic war. Considering that there had been talks of a 'virtual Tamil Eelam' and a 'virtual government' in what has emerged as the 21st century 'virtual world', there may be more to the assumptions and premonitions than meeting the eye.

The answer to all this lies not in Europe or the US, Australia or Canada. It is there in Sri Lanka, in Colombo and Jaffna. The Government cannot escape the need and responsibility of having to negotiate a political solution acceptable to all sections of the Sri Lankan polity and community and end up blaming the rest of the world for the nation's perils, as predecessors had done in the past.

It is a Sri Lankan problem that the nation had exported elsewhere in the form of the Diaspora, whose votes, yes, do matter in domestic elections in host countries. Independent of the solutions back home, the issue would remain in the minds of the Diaspora -- and in the domestic politics of these nations. But independent of Tamil support from Sri Lanka for the cause, the Diaspora would not count, nearer home or afar. The world knows it more than the Diaspora!

The writer is a Senior Research Fellow at Observer Research Foundation

< class="heading1">Country Reports

Sri Lanka
< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Zardari to visit Sri Lanka

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will be making a maiden visit to Sri Lanka in late November. He will discuss with his counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksha cooperation on security and trade issues. Zardari will become the first head of state to visit Sri Lanka after President Rajapaksha assumes duties for his second term of office on November 19.

Pakistan is a key supplier of small arms to Sri Lanka and also offers training to its security personnel. President Rajapaksa has regularly praised Pakistan for the support the country had extended in the military campaign against the LTTE, the State-run 'Sunday Observer' has said.

Leading players in Pakistan's business and industry had expressed interest to invest in various projects in Sri Lanka. Some of them want to explore the possibility of establishing projects in east Sri Lanka besides other locations. These businessmen will be accompanying President Zardari.
Source: PTI-Sunday Observer, November 6, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">TMVP opposes re-merger

The TMVP, a constituent party of the Tamil Political Parties Forum (PTTF), has opposed the proposal to re-merge the Northern and Eastern Provinces despite all the other political entities in the Forum being in favour of it.

The Forum consists of 10 Tamil parties such as the EPDP, the EPRLF (Pathmanabha) Group, the PLOTE and the Tamil National Liberation Alliance (TNLA).

TNLA General Secretary M.K. Sivajilingam said that the Forum would find it difficult to reach a consensus on this issue as a result. He said that TMVP led by Eastern Province Chief Minister Sivanesathura Chandrakanthan insist on the need to keep the two provinces separate. "All the other Tamil parties are for a re-merger. Yet, the TMVP has reservations," he said.

Mr. Sivajilingam also quoted TNA leader R. Sampanthan as agreeing in principle that all the Tamil political parties should take a common stand with regard to the resolution of national question. "We will meet Muslim and Upcountry Tamil political parties. Then, we will hand over our proposals on power devolution to the Government," Mr Sivajilingam said.
Source: Daily Mirror, November 6, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Serious divisions among LTTE

Serious divisions have surfaced among LTTE factions as to who should be in command, Sri Lanka's Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the EU, Ravinatha Ariyasinghe has said.

According to him, the Nediyavan faction led by Perinbananayakam Sivaparan, which has inherited control of the organisational and financial assets held by the LTTE and its front organisation activists, and thereby controls organised criminal activity, human smuggling and money laundering, continues its operations abroad.

Fr. Emmanuel of the Global Tamil Forum (GTF), who once equated Prabhakaran to Jesus Christ, concentrates on propaganda and is increasingly becoming the public face of the Nediyavan faction. Ambassador Ariyasinghe noted that the third faction headed by US based lawyer V. Rudrakumaran, who heads the 'Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam' (TGTE), seeks to maintain a politico-diplomatic facade of a continuing struggle for 'Tamil Eelam'.

The former journalist made these observations while speaking at the Olcott Oration 2010 at Ananda College in Colombo. "To succeed in efforts to regain control of the dominant narrative on Sri Lanka abroad, we need to learn how to "bracket" issues we disagree on internally, as ones on which we need to work harder to iron out our internal differences, without trying to convert them into foreign policy issues and taking them beyond the water's edge," Ambassador Aryasinha said further.
Source: The Island, Colombo, November 7, 2010


< class="heading12boldGeorgia">China keen to provide military assistance

Rear Admiral Wang Zhiguo, leader of a delegation of Chinese People's Liberation Army that visited Bangladesh, has expressed his country's keenness to provide support and cooperation in the development of Bangladesh Navy.

China and Bangladesh share close military ties. In fact, Bangladesh is a major buyer of Chinese arms. Source: The Bangladesh Today, November 12,

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">No free transit to India

Finance Minister A M A Muhith has said that transit fees will be charged for allowing Indian vehicles to use Bangladesh territory. The Government is working on the quantum of fees, and it will take two to three months before a decision is arrived at.

The Opposition, however, has warned the Government of dire consequences if transit facility is granted to Indian vehicles. The Finance Minister brushed aside Opposition's critique by terming it as politically-motivated.

The Awami League Government feels allowing transit facilities to Indian vehicles will bring in economic gains to Bangladesh. The country now receives Bangladeshi Taka (BTK) 4.5 crore annually from India for use of its waterways to transit goods. The country is also earning additional BTK 20 crores yearly as conservancy and pilotage fees. The revenues are expected to go up once transit facility is permitted for Indian vehicles to use the country's roads and railways to transport goods to the northeastern region.
Source: The Daily Star, November 9, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Foreign Minister's Tripura visit

To develop cross-border trade with India's northeastern States, Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni visited Tripura this week. During her two-day visit, Dr. Dipu Moni was accompanied by a 30-member strong business delegation, which discussed with local officials and business leaders of the region strategies to improve trade between Bangladesh and the region and development of trade related infrastructure along the border.

Dr. Dipu Moni said that Bangladesh wants to make Chittagong and Mongla seaports as major business hubs in the South Asia region. It wants to give it for use not only to India but also to Nepal and Bhutan. She also pointed out that there are tariff and non-tariff barriers to export Bangldeshi items to India which are creating hurdles in the growth of bilateral trade. Dr. Dipu Moni hoped that these obstacles will be removed soon.

During her stay in Tripura, Dr. Dipu Moni also laid the foundation of an India-Bangladesh Friendship Park, dedicated to the martyrs of the 'Bangladesh Liberation War' of 1971.
Source: The Daily Star November 8 & 11, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">All-party talks inconclusive

Leaders of the three major parties ? UCPN-Maoist, Nepali Congress and CPN-UML ? held secret talks at Hattiban Resort to explore power-sharing options in a new government. They discussed four options, which included a government under Maoist leadership, a government under non-Maoist leadership, government on a rotation basis and a presidium. But the parties could not agree on any of the options. They even failed to reach an understanding on who should be the first one to lead a government under a rotation scheme, peace and constitution-drafting processes were completed.

The issue of creating a presidium was opposed by some sections belonging to all the three parties on the ground that it would create more complications. Asked why the fourth option came to the fore, UML member Bharat Mohan Adhikari argued that the tasks of concluding the peace and constitution-drafting processes, restructuring the State and demarcating the boundaries of local bodies could not be completed unless the parties worked together. Under the scheme, the Prime Minister's Office would be run by the presidium, which would nominate s chairman for the Council of Ministers on rotation basis. Once it is created pro-tem, the three major parties will have "equal rights, respect and responsibilities," he said.

Conflict of interest also came up when NC and UML asked the Maoists to manage their combatants without any financial aid from the State. The Maoists have always believed that managing combatants was the joint responsibility of the political parties and the State.
Source: Himalayan Times, November 8, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Maoists deny linkages with Indian counterparts

UCPN (Maoist) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal clarified a day after Indian Embassy said that his party was giving training to Indian Maoists (Naxalites) in Nepal. It is an "out and out lie" and the Maoist party is not involved in such things, Prachanda said while inaugurating a sky bridge in the busy Kalanki area in Kathmandu.

Soon after Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister Sujata Koirala said that the next cabinet meeting will take up the recent letter of the Indian Embassy in which it had expressed concern over the alleged training to Indian Naxal insurgents by Nepali Maoists, Prachanda said that the allegation was made as part of the conspiracy to turn Nepal into another Iraq or Afghanistan.
Source:, November 11, 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">Parliament immobilised for third week

Parliament continues to be immobilised with the deadlock over the Cabinet endorsement issue stalling proceedings for the third week running. Speaker Abdulla Shahid cancelled the sitting and suggested that the political parties come to an understanding over the Cabinet endorsement issue -- the same request he made the previous week.

Opposition MPs claim that the ruling Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) MPs were refusing to follow parliamentary rules of procedure and alleged they were trying to influence the proceedings. They want individual approval of each member of the Cabinet, and announced that they intend not to approve six appointees of President Mohammed Nasheed.

However, MDP MPs believe that Parliament should amend the rules of procedure and shall give consent to the cabinet as a whole rather than voting individually, as the no-confidence motion already exists.

President Mohamed Nasheed has said in his weekly radio address that even if Parliament voted to dismiss any member of the cabinet, they will still remain in office.
Source: Minivan News, November 8 2010

< class="heading12boldGeorgia">IMF delays second tranche?

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has described as "absolutely false" claims made by Opposition-aligned People's Alliance (PA) MP Ahmed Nazim, that the institution had suspended its support of the Maldives because its programme was not being followed.

MP Nazim, who is Deputy Speaker and also Chair of Parliament's Finance Committee, told Minivan News that the leader of the Maldives IMF delegation, Rodrigo Cubero, "said so in a meeting on November 4."

At a press conference held in the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA), Cubero stated that media reports based on the claims were "absolutely false. That is not the position of the IMF. What we have said is that the disbursement under the second review of the programme has been delayed. We have not suspended our programme or our relations with the country, and we continue strongly engage with the authorities to complete the second review, and put policies in place to restore fiscal sustainability and economic prosperity in the Maldives."

The forthcoming 2011 budget, explained Cubero, was "a crucial opportunity for the Government to implement the austerity measures much needed. We will return to Washington and wait for the numbers to be finalised. At the moment, the current policy stance is not sustainable," he said further adding that the Government faced "enormous difficulties, political and legal, in implementing its policy decisions."
Source: Minivan News, November 9, 2010

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N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy

N. Sathiya Moorthy is a policy analyst and commentator based in Chennai.

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