North-East Muslim question jointly
The present position in Sri Lanka is that there are two contending
armies and navies within its territory. The Memorandum of Understanding
(MoU) on which the current cease-fire operates recognizes and defines
the respective areas of control of the two sides.
question that arises from the present situation is whether the Sri
Lankan State in its original form encompassing the entire land mass
of the Island of Sri Lanka is still in existence. The answer must
be in the negative because a substantial and defined area of the
Island is now under the control and occupation of another military
power the LTTE. The present Sri Lankan State exists and functions
only within its area of control - it has shrunk in size and jurisdiction.
Therefore the core issue is how this situation can be changed in
order to continue with the single whole Island state.
At the International
Media Conference held in Kilinochchi on April 10, to a question
"do you accept Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe as your Prime Minister?"
to Mr. Prabhakaran, Anton Balasingham quickly butted in and made
it clear that the LTTE does not recognise the authority of the Sri
Lankan State, to say "Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe is the Prime
Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr. Prabhakaran is the Prime Minister and
President of Tamil Eelam."
ethnic composition of the North-East is a serious impediment to
the Tiger totalitarian strategy. At a Tamil National Alliance -
TNA Parliamentarians meeting with Mr. Prabhakaran in April, Dr.
Anton Balasingham stated "We need to bring all Tamil Speaking
People under the National Leadership." When Dr. Balasingham
said "Tamil Speaking People" rather than "Tamil People",
it was meant to include Muslims too in the category of those who
should be brought under "Tamil National Leadership." In
other words according to LTTE agenda, the Muslims too will have
to eschew their current leadership and accept the leadership of
the LTTE, if the Muslims have to survive in LTTE controlled areas
in the North-East.
The Tamil militants
have murdered hundreds of Muslims in cold blood, forcibly expelled
all the Muslims from the Northern Province and unlawfully occupying
nearly 50,000 acres of paddy lands belonging to the Muslims in the
North-East. Further, the Tamils are harassing the Muslims by verbal
insinuation and insult whenever they traverse Tamil areas on their
way back home from their paddy fields and business, extorting money,
robbing vehicles and abducting Muslims.
the LTTE leaders' international media conference on April 10, Mr.
Balasingham repeated his previous apology at a public meeting in
the North, on behalf of the LTTE for the forcible expulsion of the
Muslims from the North by the LTTE as "a political blunder
that could not be justified." Mr. Balasingham had also said,
"let us forget and forgive the mistakes made in the past. Tamil
Eelam is also the homeland of the Muslims and we have to live together
in harmony and amity to promote peace and prosperity in the region."
To a question on whether the LTTE would allow Muslim representation
in the peace process, Mr. Prabhakaran replied "certainly we
will allow Muslim representation in the process. It is important
that the Muslim question should be resolved along with the Tamils."
The peace process
involving the Northern and Eastern Provinces of the country is set
to move beyond the current phase of cessation of hostilities to
direct negotiations aimed at reaching a final settlement of the
It is indeed
a welcome sign that the LTTE has accepted that the Muslims of Sri
Lanka have a separate and distinct ethnic identity and the areas
composed of the Northern and Eastern Provinces which constitute
the traditional homeland of the Tamils is also the traditional homeland
of the Muslims. LTTE leader Mr. Prabhakaran had said that it is
important to resolve the Muslim question along with the Tamil question.
of Sri Lanka for its part has also acknowledged the particular problems
of the Muslims in the North-East. It is committed to the protection
of the life and the areas of historical habitation-traditional homeland
of the Muslims and to find a just settlement and power sharing arrangements
in the North-East.
It is very
important that all Muslims, irrespective of party affiliations jointly
address substantive issues of the Muslims in the North-East and
discuss institutional structures and frameworks for a genuine power
sharing arrangement. There is an urgent need for a greater unity
and broadest possible support for the resolution of North-East Muslim