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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution: Sri Lanka - Tamil Eelam > Sri Lanka-Tamil Eelam: Getting to Yes
During the past decade and more, there has been no shortage of expressions of concern at the heavy toll in human suffering caused by the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka. It is not a matter for surprise, therefore, that during the same period, questions have been raised, from time to time, as to the feasibility of a political solution to the conflict.
Conflict resolution 'specialists' appear, non governmental organisations undertake behind the scene 'proximity talks', 'facilitators' surface and calls for international 'mediation' are made, but these efforts have ended not only without a bang but, often, without even a whimper. Ofcourse, Sardar K.M.Pannikar's remarks in Principles and Practice of Diplomacy in 1956 remain relevant even today:
Nonetheless, the fundamental reason for the failure of past attempts to resolve the conflict may be attributed to the diametrically opposed nature of the goals that each party to the conflict seeks to achieve. These goals may be simply stated.
Each party claims to have international law and 'justice' on its side. However the political reality is that their claims will not be determined by an international court of competent jurisdiction - because no such court exists. The jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice may be invoked only by a state. Non state nations do not 'become' states as a result of a binding judgement delivered by a court of law on the legality of their claims. It was perhaps this, which led James Crawford, currently Whewell Professor of International Law in the University of Cambridge to comment in 1979:
A defining characteristic of a state is that it enjoys a monopoly of legitimate coercive power within its territorial boundaries. In the end, though the strength of the security forces may vary from one state to another, no state exists which does not have its own security forces. The police and the army of a state are the ultimate repositories of this coercive power and in a democracy, the army and police function within a constitutional frame endorsed by the will of the people and secured by the rule of law.
History shows that states have acquired this monopoly of legitimate coercive power, by political struggle (often armed struggle) and not by judgements of courts of law. The countervailing claims of the parties to the armed conflict in the island of Sri Lanka will not be decided in the playing fields of the courts of justice in New York, New Delhi nor for that matter at the annual sessions of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
That is not to say that each party to the conflict will not continue to claim to have international law on its side. International law and human rights provide useful platforms for mobilising support for one's cause and creating the political space within which one may continue to resort to arms to secure one's objectives. States as well liberation movements have a felt need to act according to law - or at least to be seen to be acting according to law. However, it would be wrong to dismiss this as simply a cynical tactic. In the end, an appeal to law, justice and equity influences - because it is also an appeal to the essential goodness in people, to their humanity. It is therefore, an appeal not without inherent power.
The LTTE relies on the political principle of self determination and contends that this political principle, which is rooted in the democratic right of a people to rule themselves, is also a legal right in international law. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, relies on the international law principle of the territorial integrity of existing states and asserts that the Tamil people already have the right to self determination because Tamils in the island enjoy the democratic right of universal franchise, within the framework of a Constitution which protects human rights. The LTTE replies that the practise of 'democracy' within the confines of a unitary state has led to rule by a permanent, alien, Sinhala majority.
International law experts are then drawn into the debate and the differences are refined - and 'shaded'. Faced with reconciling the inalienable right of a people to self determination with the territorial integrity of existing states, attempts are made to evolve the concept of 'internal self determination'. The example of South Africa is cited as the way forward.
This attempt is then resisted by those who insist that self determination, if it is to mean anything at all, must mean exactly what it says - self determination i.e. a people have the right to themselves freely choose their political status and that includes the right to secede, if they so choose. A people cannot be told: "You have the right to freely choose your political status, but you may exercise it only in the way we tell you i.e. within the territorial entity of the existing state".
Again, the constitutionalist who propounds the theory of 'internal' self determination, is compelled to confront the political reality of the power that flows through the barrel of the gun when asked: who will control the army within an 'internal self determination' dispensation? The words of John Stuart Mill, uttered 125 years ago may help to focus minds:
In truth, even a constitutional right of secession is nothing without the force of arms to back it. After all, Joseph Stalin's oppressive rule of the nations of the Soviet Union flourished under a constitution which proclaimed the right of each federal unit to secede!
Again, the LTTE contends that Sri Lanka's resort to arms to quell a struggle for self determination is unlawful. Sri Lanka asserts that it is entitled, in law, to use armed force to secure its territorial integrity. The LTTE contends that its own resort to arms is lawful because it was a last resort against oppressive Sinhala rule and points out to the series of broken pacts and to the Sixth Amendment to the Sri Lanka constitution which outlawed the parliamentary political struggle for a separate state.
The LTTE asserts that there is an armed conflict in the island to which the Geneva Conventions apply, that Sri Lanka has committed gross and systematic violations of the humanitarian laws of armed conflict and genocide, and contends that this is state terrorism.
Sri Lanka insists that the conflict is simply an internal disturbance, within its territorial boundaries, refuses to recognise the applicability of the international humanitarian law of armed conflict and refuses to acknowledge, for instance, that it is obliged (by that law) to take prisoners of war. Since the conflict is an internal disturbance, Sri Lanka argues that the resort to arms by the LTTE constitutes terrorism. It points out to violations by the LTTE of the humanitarian law of armed conflict and asserts that the LTTE is a terrorist organisation.
It is not only Sri Lanka that has categorised the LTTE as a terrorist organisation. The United States has done the same. Canada has taken action against the LTTE Canadian representative Sureshan Manickavasagam on the basis that he is a member of a terrorist organisation.
In the case of Sri Lanka, judicial review of the categorisation of the LTTE (as a terrorist organisation) is expressly excluded. In the case of the U.S.A. and Canada, though judicial review is not excluded, such review of the action taken by the executive wing is limited to determining whether the executive had acted arbitrarily or wholly unreasonably. And, the courts in the U.S.A., in Canada (and, for that matter, in the United Kingdom) have always shown a great reluctance to interfere with executive discretion in the area of 'claimed' national security.
Courts take the view that where 'national security' is threatened, executive discretion relating to the very life of the nation is involved and this is not a matter where the judiciary should supplant the view of the executive. It is said that the Constitution has empowered the executive (and not the judiciary) to decide matters relating to national security. Again, it is urged that the information on which the executive acted, cannot be made available to a court, to be tested by cross examination and a decision made according to law - because to do so would be to put at risk the national security apparatus of the state, which must function in secrecy.
Further, even apart from this procedural tangle, what is terrorism? Is all resort to violence to secure political ends, terrorism? Or should the violence be indiscriminate and intended to cause 'terror' and directed to secure political ends?
Is it that a people ruled by an alien people cannot, in law, resort to arms to secure freedom? Is a state entitled to use force to quell a people's struggle for self determination?
Is a state which stockpiles nuclear bombs a terrorist state, because it seeks to use the threat of the terror of a nuclear holocaust to secure its political goals such as the preservation of democracy?
Again, does a state or an organisation which on occasion resorts to terror as a weapon, thereby become a 'terrorist' state or a 'terrorist' organisation? For instance did the USA bombing of Libya on 14 April 1986 render the USA a terrorist state? Or would it be necessary to establish that the dominant purpose for which the state or organisation exists, is the use of terror?
International law will ofcourse, make its slow (and measured) progress to addressing these issues. International law itself is largely dependent on state practice. After all, for many centuries, international law had denied the right of a colonial people to freedom. Eventually, the colonial rulers weakened by two world wars, were no longer able to impose their rule and the political principle of self determination began to secure reluctant recognition in international law.
In 1960, the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples 1960 which supported the view that the right of self determination was now a legal principle, won the support of eighty nine states but significantly, there were 9 abstentions viz: Australia, Belgium, Dominican Republic, France, Portugal, Spain, Union of South Africa, United Kingdom, and United States. International law followed upon the success of struggles for freedom - and not the other way around.
Mahatma Gandhi did not found India's struggle for freedom on the 'international law principle' of the right to self determination. If he had, he may have been met with the objection (in the 1930s) that no such general principle existed in international law, though today some legal scholars contend that the right of self determination is a part of the jus cogens.
However, despite the views expressed by such legal scholars, we find that those who abstained from voting on the UN General Assembly Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples 1960, are now engaged in attempts to limit the legal right of self determination to those earlier colonial struggles. Compelled to reconcile themselves with the success of the colonial struggles for freedom, these countries now propound the theory of 'internal' self determination and seek (in the name of stability) to preserve the territorial boundaries of the patch work states of the fourth world. The shared need to protect existing state boundaries leads them to find common cause with those to whom the colonial ruler had transferred power.
If recourse to international law will not resolve the conflict in the island, then a call for international mediation raises other important issues.
In so far as Sri Lanka is concerned, to agree to international mediation would be to agree at the very commencement of the talking process that the conflict is not an internal conflict but an 'inter-national' conflict. Sri Lanka may take the view that to accept such international 'mediation' would be to concede a major premise of the demand for Tamil Eelam and further that the LTTE call for mediation is simply a tactic to secure the political space to continue the struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam.
The conclusion of the Christian Michelsen Institute Conference sponsored by the Norwegian Government in February 1996 reflected similar concerns:
Again, given the shared interest of many existing states to secure existing state boundaries, from which country would a 'neutral' mediator come from? And what will be the substance of the via media that a mediator may suggest or find acceptable? In the end, it is this latter question that may well prove vital.
Sufficient, perhaps has been said to show that there may be a need to go beyond rhetorical appeals to 'international law', and 'international mediation' and look at more effective approaches to a resolution of the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka.
Some acronyms help to focus minds on the obvious. BATNA is one of them. It was coined by Roger Fisher, the best selling author of Getting to Yes. BATNA stands for the Best Alternative to a Negotiated Arrangement. A party to a conflict will negotiate in good faith only if it believes that such negotiations will yield a result better than its BATNA. Otherwise, it will simply use the negotiation process to either reduce its opponent's BATNA or increase its own BATNA.
Each party will need to determine for itself whether its BATNA is preferable to anything that may be achievable at the negotiating table. This means not only that each will need to make a careful assessment of each others BATNA but also an equally careful assessment of the spectrum of possible solutions which may be achievable in a negotiating process. It is only then that each may be able to make an informed decision on the question whether its BATNA is preferable to anything that may be achievable at the negotiating table.
If a party takes the view that its BATNA is preferable to anything that may be achievable at a negotiating table, then the talking process will be a sham and simply a 'tactic'. The talking process will be used by that party, simply to justify and secure legitimacy for the stand that it has already taken - and reduce its opponent's BATNA.
That which happened, at Thimpu in 1985 is illustrative. At Thimpu, the Tamil militant movement secured a measure of legitimacy by participating in direct talks with a specially appointed Minister of the Sri Lanka government. Significantly, the Tamil delegation declined to submit any constitutional proposal for the resolution of the conflict. They feared that to have done so would have meant a disavowal of the demand for an independent Tamil Eelam state and that such disavowal would be used by Sri Lanka to undermine the struggle for which so many had given their lives. The Tamil delegation suggested instead a framework for talks which have now come to be known as the Thimpu principles i.e.
The Tamil delegation called upon Sri Lanka to submit proposals which recognised these principles. The Sri Lanka government by making proposals on the basis of establishing District Councils, sought to create the impression that it was acting 'reasonably', but without causing prejudice to its own objective of securing the territorial integrity of the Sri Lanka state and rule by the majority at the centre. Its concern was that any relaxation in central control will lead to eventual separation - sooner rather than later.
Both Sri Lanka and the Tamil militant movements were reluctant participants in the Thimpu 'negotiating' process. In truth, there were no negotiations, but set speeches delivered 'at' one another. The parties to the talks had been frog marched to Thimpu under pressure from Rajiv Gandhi's India. Perhaps, not unnaturally, each party directed its efforts to ensure that when the talks failed, the other party would be blamed for the breakdown. In this way, each sought to ensure that the renewed resort to arms by each, would secure added support.
It was the same process that was played out again during the Premadasa talks in 1989/90. At an International Alert sponsored seminar in Switzerland in 1996, Bradman Weerakoone who had functioned as Presidential Adviser to Sri Lanka President Premadasa was forthright in his comments about the talks:
President Kumaratunga was equally frank about the 1994/95 negotiations when she declared truthfully on 20 August 1995:
Today, Sri Lanka talks of 'devolution' and wages war for 'peace' to 'militarily weaken' the LTTE - if necessary, by attacking the Tamil civilian population and in this way reduce LTTE's BATNA i.e. its ability to resist the Sri Lanka armed forces. The LTTE, by its heroism and determination seeks to demonstrate that the Tamil armed resistance cannot be destroyed and that the mounting cost of the war will continue to weaken Sri Lanka's material resources and the man power of its armed forces and so reduce Sri Lanka's 'Best Alternative to a Negotiated Arrangement' i.e. to carry on the war.
In the meantime, ever increasing number of lives, both Tamil and Sinhala continue to be lost, human suffering continues in increasing proportions, and the two peoples are becoming increasingly brutalised.
To point out all this is to, hopefully, build a platform for meaningful dialogue from which we may go forward. The political reality is that any meaningful attempt at conflict resolution will need to secure a win-win result. However 'win-win' is not some modern day mantra which when repeated often enough brings peace. The Tamil claim for independence and Sri Lanka's insistence on its territorial integrity appear mutually exclusive. How then do we move towards a win-win result?
When a win-win approach is suggested, often the knee jerk response is that one or other of the parties (or both of them) should compromise on their goals. Faced with diametrically opposed positions, it easy to conclude that something must give and that the only way out is to explore the whole area of what is fair and just. This then is the path of district councils, provincial councils, regional councils, the unit of devolution, the extent of devolution, federalism, confederation and slogans such as 'Peace with Justice'.
Again even if one side makes concessions, the other side will perceive the shift as simply a tactic to re group and that in reality there is no shift in the long term position. Efforts are then made by each party to secure that any arrangement that may be agreed upon does not provide a platform for the other party to achieve its long term goals. Each side questions the good faith of the other and accusations are made that the other side cannot be trusted. The history of earlier broken pacts and negotiation break downs is then regurgitated to buttress the allegations of bad faith and the attempt to resolve the conflict ends in the same way as the earlier efforts - in failure.
We cannot reach a win-win result without first understanding what 'win' means to the other party. Each party to the conflict needs to understand the genuine interests that the other party seeks to protect. This may take time, care and patience but clearly there is a need for each party to understand the other before attempting to make itself understood. It is only when each party to the conflict acquires a clear understanding of the interests that the other party seeks to protect that the parties can together move to examine a win-win resolution of the conflict.
Once these interests are clearly understood, the reasoning that led to the stated position may have to be revisited with a view not to judge but to discuss new frames. Awin-win approach may then be directed to create, in a step wise fashion, structures where the actual interests of each party - without exception, and without compromise - may be secured. A win-win solution is not a half way house where neither side wins. A win-win solution is directed to secure the interests of both parties - after all, that is why it is a win-win solution, and not a lose-lose solution or a lose-win solution.
Here there is a need to avoid the trap of separating the Sri Lanka government from the Sinhala people and the LTTE from the Tamil people. The Sinhala people are not a foolish people misled by designing politicians and political bhikkus. The Sinhala people are as foolish as any other people. And, like any other people, they create their leaders and are responsible for the actions of their leaders. Political leaders are not parachuted from the stratosphere. The same is true of the Tamil people. Again, the Sinhala people are not an evil people. They are as evil and as good as the Tamil people, or for that matter any other people.And, not much is gained by either party demonising the other.
Why then is it that the Sinhala people are determined to resist any attempt to divide the country? From time to time, several reasons have been given and it is useful to examine these reasons, not so much with a view to 'judging' whether these reasons are 'just', but with a view to understanding the underlying interests which the Sinhala people seek to protect and the real concerns which have led successive Sinhala dominated Sri Lanka governments (without exception) to resist the demand for Tamil Eelam.
This list of reasons is not meant to be exhaustive. However, the list may be sufficient to reflect some of the stated concerns that the Sinhala people may have in relation to the demand for Tamil Eelam.
It may be instructive to examine these reasons and determine whether they reflect an actual interest that the Sinhala people seek to protect or whether they are simply intended to serve as useful debating points in a positional propaganda war.
Take for instance the 'reason' that Sri Lanka is too small a country to be divided. The fact is that there are many countries which are smaller than Tamil Eelam - and the Sinhala people are well aware of that fact. The real question is not whether Sri Lanka is 'too small' to be divided, but what are interests of the Sinhala people that would be put at risk, if such division took place? Would a smaller Sri Lanka put at risk the economic well being of the Sinhala people and if so how may that well being be protected? Again, would a smaller Sri Lanka put at risk the security of the Sinhala people and if so how may that security be protected?
The concern about control of 50% of the island's sea shores and 30% of the land must be considered in the light of the fertility of the land in the south and centre of the island, the tea, rubber and coconut plantations in the south and the urban development of the capital, Colombo and the Western Province. The truth is that the equities in terms of economic resources are weighted heavily in favour of the Sinhala south. But, again, these are not facts unknown to the Sinhala people. What are the interests of the Sinhala people that would be put at risk if 50% of the island's sea shores and 30% of the land mass was in the control of Tamil Eelam? Can the percentages be made subject to negotiation? Again, is it a matter of economics or security - or both?
The argument that the Tamils do not want Tamil Eelam ignores the mandate that S.J.V.Chelvanayagam received from the Tamil people in 1975 and his short but historic statement on 7 February 1975:
It also ignores the fact that at the 1977 general elections, the Tamil United Liberation Front won a mandate for Tamil Eelam. The arithmetic of that mandate is not the real issue. The fact is that the present armed conflict exists because the Sinhala people do not want Tamil Eelam - and are prepared to lose Sinhala lives to secure that objective. Again, these are facts which are not unknown to the Sinhala people. The real question that may need to be addressed is: what are the interests that the Sinhala people are prepared to defend with their lives?
It should now have become apparent that the real concern that the Sinhala people have is that an independent Tamil Eelam may become a focus for a powerful pan Tamil nationalism and that this will threaten the very existence of the Sinhala Buddhist nation in the island.
Admittedly, the Sinhala people have their roots in the island of Sri Lanka - and they have no other land which they can claim as their own. Furthermore, the Sinhala people are a minority in the region. This is a demographic fact. This demographic fact is compounded by the memory of rule of the Sinhala people by Tamil kings. The last King of Kandy signed his surrender to the British in Tamil (and not in Sinhalese) and reportedly the British secured the support of Sinhala feudal lords to overthrow the King who had come from South India.
We cannot go forward by dismissing the fears of the Sinhala people as 'irrational' or by suggesting that they are simply the handiwork of corrupt Sinhala politicians or 'evil' Buddhist priests. Nor should these fears be dismissed simply as a consequence of the 'Maha Vamsa' mind set.
After all, why was it that the Mahavamsa came to be written in the way it was - and not in some other way. The story about Dutugemenu reflected a certain existing political reality - it did not 'create' that political reality out of thin air. The fears of the Sinhala people spring from geography and history and, more importantly, are related to today's demographic reality in the Indian region. The existence of one million Tamils in the plantations in central Sri Lanka and more than fifty million Tamils (separated by a mere 20 miles of water) in Tamil Nadu is no Mahavamsa myth.
The truth is that the Sinhala Buddhist national identity has grown in opposition to the growth of the Tamil national identity.
Again, the Sinhala Buddhist national identity is not simply a function of economics, as some Sinhala Marxists would have it.
The question that any meaningful attempt at conflict resolution will need to address is whether securing an undivided Sri Lanka is the only way in which the real concerns of the Sinhala people may be protected.
Let us now turn to the reasons that the LTTE and the Tamil people advance in support of their demand for an independent Tamil Eelam. Because as much as it is important for the Tamil people to understand the interests that the Sinhala people seek to protect, equally, in so far as the Sri Lanka government and the Sinhala people are concerned, there is a need for them to understand the reasons which led the Tamil people to demand Tamil Eelam and to take to arms to secure it. Some of the reasons that have been advanced from time to time include the following:
Again, though these reasons are not intended to be exhaustive, the list may be sufficient to reflect some of the stated concerns that the Tamil people have in relation to continuing to live within the confines of the existing Sri Lankan state.
Once again, it will be useful to examine these reasons and determine whether they reflect an actual interest that the Tamil people seek to protect or whether they are simply intended to serve as useful debating points in a hypothetical 'court of justice'.
It is true that the Tamil people seek to secure their language and employment rights. It is true that they seek to prevent state colonisation of their homeland. But, they seek to do this, in order that they may protect their separate identity as a people. The Tamil struggle is not about discrimination but about freedom from alien rule by a permanent Sinhala majority within the confines of one state. It is this permanent Sinhala rule which is evidenced, for instance, by the fact that in Sri Lanka, for five long decades since 1948, we have always had a Sinhala Buddhist as the executive head of government.
The question is not even whether Sinhala rule was oppressive (though, in fact it was). If the question was 'oppressive Sinhala rule', the answer would be benevolent Sinhala rule. There may have been some who regarded British rule as benevolent, but this did not prevent the struggle for freedom from alien rule. It is as a free people, that the togetherness of the Tamil people rooted in an ancient heritage and a rich language will find vibrant expression. It is as a free people that they will be able to nurture the growth of their children and their childrens children to the fullness of their potential.
Telescoping two processes: independence and inter-dependence
In an important sense, the interest that each party to the conflict in the island seeks to protect is the mirror image of the interest of the other party. The Sinhala people seek to secure their national identity against a Tamil majority in the region. The people of Tamil Eelam seek to secure their own separate national identity within the island of Sri Lanka. The Sinhala people fear rule by the Tamil majority in the region. The people of Tamil Eelam fear rule by the Sinhala majority within the island of Sri Lanka.
If Germany and France were able to put in place such 'associate' structures despite the suspicions and confrontations of two world wars, it should not be beyond the capacity of Tamil Eelam and Sri Lanka to work out structures, within which each independent state may remain free and prosper, but at the same time pool sovereignty in certain agreed areas. Sovereignty is not virginity
Admittedly, the negotiating process may be complex. In the case of Europe, the European Union evolved over a number of years and was underpinned by NATO. In the case of the conflict in the island of Sri Lanka, there may be a need to secure the support of both India and the United States to provide the necessary underpinning.
The demand for Tamil Eelam is an inter- national question and few will deny that any meaningful attempt to resolve the conflict will need to involve the LTTE, Sri Lanka, India and the United States. The political reality is that both India and the United States have, from time to time, involved themselves in the conflict - though, on occasion, that involvement may have been layered (through proxies) in several ways.
In the case of India, the covert aid to Tamil militants during the period upto 1986 ended with the induction of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in 1987 and in 1992 with the banning of the LTTE as 'a threat to the integrity of India'. In the case of the US, the Green Berets were involved as recently as a few months ago on Sri Lankan soil and the US has categorised the LTTE as a 'terrorist' organisation.
The shared interest of Sri Lanka, India and US is shown, for instance, by the fact that each has banned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. However, the significant differences in their underlying interests is surfaced by the nature of the ban that each has imposed, and the stated grounds for the action that each has taken.
As long ago as 1983, President Carter's National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski spelt out US foreign policy objectives for the year 2000:
Here, it is not without significance that it was during Zbigniew Brzezinskis period in office as National Security adviser, that the United States began publishing its list of international terrorist organisations.
Additionally, nuclear non proliferation is also an important plank of US foreign policy and in the words of President Clinton, the US intends to ''weave its non-proliferation strategy more deeply into the fabric of all its relationships with the world's nations and institutions''. This has had its impact on India's nuclear policy and its own security interests. India not without reason, contends that whilst it will support nuclear disarmament it will not support a 'nuclear non proliferation' treaty that creates an elite nuclear club in perpetuity. Non alignment in a multipolar world takes on a somewhat different coloration to that in a bipolar one. 'Calibrated adjustment' is the name of the new approach.
The US may not be unaware that whatever may be the short term calibrated adjustments', in the longer term, stability may be achieved in the Indian region only on the basis of a free association of the separate nations of the sub continent. The US may therefore seek to build up influence within struggles for national self determination both as a way of monitoring and managing them and also as a useful addition to its armoury in managing New Delhi.
The recent agreement (of 27 December 1998) between Sri Lanka and India to work towards a free trade area in the Indian region, may be a pointer (albeit, a small pointer) to that which may be the direction of the future.The agreement is regarded as the precursor to a seven-nation reduced tariff regime known as the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), which is expected to get going by 2001. Apart from India and Sri Lanka, SAFTA will include Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, the Maldives and Bangladesh.
The views of Julius Nyerere, ex President of Tanzania and one of Africa's most respected elder statesperson, are not without relevance:
Again, strange as it may seem to some, the struggle for an independent Tamil state, is not in opposition to many of the underlying interests of the parties concerned with the conflict in the island - and that includes Sri Lanka, India and the United States.
Whilst the demand for an independent Tamil Eealm is not negotiable, there may be a need to explore fresh pathways concerning the terms on which an independent Tamil Eelam may associate with an independent Sri Lanka. And, here, there may be a need to revisit the words of Roger Fisher et al in Coping with International Conflict :