Monday, 3 February 2014

Izeth Hussain is Re-thinking the Ethnic Imbroglio

I read Izeth Hussain  for  his  excellent writing skill,  but do not agree with all he writes.  In his article to Island on Re-thinking the Ethnic Imbroglio, he says, “….. most will agree that in general we are usually reluctant to see things as they are when they are unpleasant .” But does it mean that we see things as they are when they are pleasant  ?”

We tend to think we know every thing but in reality what we know is limited  to the knowledge we have acquired. With that limited knowledge we pontificate  that others are at fault because they have failed to see things as they do

In support of his conclusion he says, “… example is provided by the question of the prospects for a political solution of the ethnic problem.”

If the government does not see the reality of the prospects for a political solution of the ethnic problem, what then is “ethnic problem” according to Izeth Hussain ?

Everyone accusing  Sri Lanka for committing everything under the sun against the  Tamil people from violation of human rights,   to war crimes, speaks loudly of this “sacrosanct ethnic problem” without telling  what exactly is this ethnic problem.

In order to stop this accusation on a vague allusion to an ethnic problem the President of Sri Lanka in no uncertain terms declared that with the elimination of terrorism there is no more a minority and that every peoples no matter to what community they belong have an equal right to share in everything as a citizen of Sri Lanka.

There is therefore, no language problem as Tamil is recognised on an equal footing alongside Sinhala and English.  University education is extended to all students of all communities, without any ratios or percentages. Employment is open to every one and candidates are selected on qualifications and not on the basis of their communal roots.  Tamils are being recruited to the army and the police services.  All social, economic, and technological developments has been extended all regions in Sri Lanka .  Major development projects  such as construction of roads, hospitals, schools,  providing of fresh water and electricity, and construction of fishing ports are being carried out everywhere from north to south and west to east of Sri Lanka. The political right  of contesting any electorate, and representing the people in Parliament are open to every citizen.

The Tamils have not been left out in Sri Lanka’s development projecs and they participate in them as any other citizen of Sri Lanka.  What then is the “ethnic problem” ?  Against what has the Tamil people been discriminated ?

Izeth Hussain paints a dark picture saying,“ The prospects are nil, or almost nil. The realistic prospect is that the ethnic imbroglio will continue indefinitely into the future. Such is the situation after 25 years of war and four years of peace. Our expectation that peace would lead, sooner rather than later, to noon-tide glory in the resplendent isle, has led instead to what looks like darkness at
noon.  ”  Then he adds, “……..What this situation demands, above all, is that we rethink the fundamentals of the ethnic imbroglio. It is a process that could lead to our posing the right questions which could lead eventually to the right answers.”

But still Izeth Hussain does not say what it is all about. He finally asks, “What is the problem? ”  But he does not answer it, but goes on to stretch out a whole lots of words and phrase, as if he himself is completely ignorant of the ethnic problem, what ever be the prospect of it for a political solution.

 He says, “ It is not just a Sri Lankan ethnic problem, but an Indo-Sri Lankan ethnic problem, as I have argued in an earlier article. The fall-out in Tamil Nadu of what happens to the Tamils in Sri Lanka can never be ignored by the Delhi Government because that fall-out can take the form of restiveness and even a rebelliousness that spawns separatist movements that under certain unforeseeable contingencies could even threaten the very unity of India.”

Izeth Hussain is becoming verbose just writing for the sake of writing without explaining in simple terms what he is writing about. His beginning has no relation to the end.  What is the ethnic problem in Sri Lanka which has resulted in an imbroglio?

Izeth Hussain is a retired diplomat well into his eighties.  He still thinks that old diplomatic methods and politeness should be maintained in speaking to the rich and powerful west lest we bring on us  their ire.  After a few paragraphs of his pet phrases rambling about Cyprus, Turkey and Pakistan he finally comes out  saying,  “ General Zia-ul Huq of Pakistan, one of the most sympathetic friends of Sri Lanka, was quite right in advising us repeatedly – not in his exact words: "If you try to solve your ethnic problem regardless of the wishes of India, you will sink into a bottomless pit".

But he has still not thought it right to spell out what is the ethnic problem of  the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

Then taking the longest rout in trying to  explaining his “ re-thinking the Ethnic Imbroglio” , he comes to some thing which seems likely to explain the “ethnic problem”.  He says, “I come now to the present unpleasant situation. Neither the TNA nor the Government wants 13A, and there is nothing else on offer to enable us to start moving towards a political solution. However, there is a difference between the two in that the TNA is willing to give 13A a try – which is why I wrote in the second paragraph above that the prospects for a political solution are nil "or almost nil". But I cannot envisage the TNA really being in earnest about 13A until after the Indian General elections.”

But no Izeth Hussain is still far short of  explaining the vital question, “ what is this ethnic problem ?”

Then as if  he is facing the darkness of the mind we all come to face towards the evening of our lives, he says,  “ The unpleasant reality is that it is darkness at noon.  What do we do? ……….. The suggestion that I am making might seem humiliating and most offensive to our national pride. Why, it might be asked, should two outsiders, namely Tamil Nadu and Delhi, be regarded as integral to our purely internal ethnic problem?

But what is this ethnic problem ?  Izeth Husain does not answer this, but to make it worse he clears India of what it did in training a group of Tamil youth in terrorism and letting them loose in the North, to kill in cold blood 13 Sinhala police men, thus resulting in the south a backlash in which many innocent Tamils were brutally killed, which is not condoned by any reasonable person, but it was an inevitable and perhaps preconceived situation by the Indian RAW which trained the terrorists, to create the state of terrorism in the Island, that it followed..

In respect of this Izeth Hussain says, “ ……… It was the anti-Tamil genocidal State-backed pogrom of 1983 that gave the external dimension to the problem, by shocking and outraging the rest of the world and making it impossible for Tamil Nadu and Delhi to ignore what was going on inside the blood-drenched paradise isle of Sri Lanka."

He then makes an objective  observation without still answering what is the ethnic problem.

“ The Tamils must acknowledge that the LTTE and the TNA put themselves completely in the wrong by rejecting every proposal for devolution from 1994 to 2000, by making a farce of the peace process, and finally by compelling the Sinhalese to fight the war to its conclusion. They must acknowledge that the Sinhalese side fought a just war in the sense that they had no alternative whatsoever. Both sides must acknowledge that they fought a savage war with no prisoners taken.”

Izeth Hussain then makes his lethal attack  on the  Sinhala camp, “ The Sinhalese side must acknowledge that the discrimination against the Tamils went to grotesque extremes from 1970 to 1977, and that that was followed by the State terrorism of JRJ which rose to a genocidal apogee in 1983 when the Tamils were treated as worse than pariah dogs……….”

Izeth Hussain then forgets his diplomatic good sense, and an ordinary man’s wisdom,  in the heat of his arguments to call terrorism of Prabhakaran a just war.  He says, “The Sinhalese must recognize that the Tamils had the following alternatives: either be reduced to worse than pariah dog status, or fight. They must acknowledge that the LTTE fought a just war from around April 1994 onwards until the just war shifted to the other side.”

Then Izeth Hussain  kicks away his diplomatic correctness, and adherence to a Nation that suffered for three long decades under terrorism stating that, “….. The accolade of Sri Lanka’s greatest terrorist should go to JRJ and not to Prabhakaran. The latter led a nationalist movement, but most unfortunately for the Tamils his was a regressive tribalist neo-Fascist nationalism, similar to that of the JVP and what the nationalism of the present Government is threatening to become…….”

All that is raking the past to let loose the anger he seems to harbour in his heart.  But the ethnic problem he commenced to write about  remains undefined.

Is the ethnic problem not giving the Tamil people an entire Province for themselves, without an inch of it given to the Sinhala, or is it giving to the Tamils a Tamils Eelam in the North and East, which Prabhakaran was determined to carve out with his terrorism ?

Either of these options if it is to keep away  any fall outs from India and  Tamil Nadu is not acceptable .  Therefore they do not count as solutions for any sort of ethnic problems, though they become a national problem.  An alternative would be for Sri Lanka to abolish political parties with communal distinctions, and have a two party political system, like in America, with the membership open to all citizens.  Such a situation would make it possible for even a Tamil man to become the President of Sri Lanka. That may  solve an ethnic problem if that is what Izeth Hussain means.

C.Wijeyawickrema in an article in Lanka web states clearly what according to him is the ethnic problem, which Izeth Hussain had failed to do. Wijeyawickrema says, “The ethnic problem was two-fold: the fear of the Sinhalese of Tamil Nadu aggression and the desire of Tamil politicians to have some power of governance (because they were deprived of the leading roles that had under the colonial system of divide and rule).”   He says the two ethnic problems  could have been solved a long time ago if  Sinhala politicians used Buddhist principles. 

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