Foreign Affairs

TNPF For ‘Two-Nations in 1 Country’: Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam

This statement is being released with the intension of clarifying the Tamil National People’s Front’s (TNPF) policies relating to what we take into account to be a resolution to the Tamil National Question and our position on accountability with regards to international human rights law and international humanitarian law violations that had been committed against the Tamil men and women.

Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam

Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam

As regards the answer to the Tamil National Query, the TNPF stands for a policy primarily based on the notion of ‘Two-Nations in 1 Country’ – namely that the Sri Lankan State (nation) comprises of the numerically bigger Sinhala nation and the numerically smaller Tamil nation and other Peoples &#8211 a model really well known to scholars and practitioners of pluri-national/ multi-national constitutional ordering across the world. Examples of a bi-national state (country) contain Canada, Belgium and Bosnia-Herzegovina. We reject the notion of a Sri Lankan nation-state (one particular nation-one nation) for the reason that the numerical strength of the Sinhala Buddhist people, getting a permanent majority, would make Sri Lanka in practical terms a Sinhala-Buddhist state (nation). Accordingly, we insist that the recognition of Tamil Nationhood, its right to self-determination and the recognition of the North-East of the island as its territorial unit – its conventional homeland – in line with the Thimpu Principles of 1985 is quintessential to any solution.

We accept that self-determination and nationhood require not be necessarily manifested through the institutional settings of a separate state (country) but that a multi national state (country) can also recognize the plurality of nations and the self-determination of its constituent units. We are hence committed to exploring a political solution within an united state (nation) regardless of the history of failed negotiations amongst the Tamils and successive Sri Lankan Governments. We have produced this quite clear in the celebration manifesto that was release for the purposes of contesting the 17 August 2015 Parliamentary Common Elections.

The TNPF is of the view that the “Two Nations in One Country” notion can be accommodated inside a federal structure. However the TNPF has regularly rejected a devolutionary path to federalism, which we believe is contradictory to the assertion of the correct of self-determination. The term devolution concedes the place of state energy/ sovereignty with the political entity in handle of the state / country (in this context the Sinhala Buddhist Nationalist order) and seeks mere devolution of energy not as a matter of right but as a goodwill gesture of the Sinhala-Buddhist Nation. Offered bitter experiences of solemn pacts being abrogated unilaterally by the Sinhala leaders and unfulfilled promises, we consider that this is the wrong way of approaching the Tamil National Query. Rather we stand for the ‘pooling of sovereignty’ of the constituent nations strategy to federalism, which will offer the essential legal safeguards against the therefore far experienced unilateralist majoritarian approach of the numerically bigger Sinhala Nation. This method believes that both the Sinhala and Tamil nations are sovereign in their personal right and pool their respective sovereignties to develop a new social contract producing a multi-national Sri Lankan state (nation). This would guarantee genuine collective equality amongst the constitutive nations of Sri Lanka.

The TNPF categorically rejects the Unitary State structure of the current Sri Lankan constitution and is of the firm position that no arrangement inside such a Unitary State structure can form the beginning point for any negotiations with regards to locating a resolution to the Tamil National Query. For these causes we reject the 13th Amendment and the Provincial council system as supplying the basis for a political answer.

The TNPF wishes to emphasize that we have in our manifesto made it quite clear that our reference to ‘Two Nations’ does not mean that we cast aside the rightful place of the Muslims and Up Nation Tamils in Sri Lanka. We have explicitly noted therein that we think that the Muslims and Up Nation Tamils have the appropriate to self-determination but as to regardless of whether they want to conduct their politics with the consciousness of such is up to them. We have pledged solidarity politics with them towards justice and collective equality for all constituent Peoples in Sri Lanka. We have also explicitly stated in our manifesto that we are prepared to function with progressive sections in the Sinhala Nation for genuine reformation and democratization of the Sri Lanka.

The TNPF has been fairly unequivocal in its demand for accountability and justice for crimes committed throughout the 30 year long war and just before. Provided that the Sri Lankan Army is noticed as protectors of the Sinhala Buddhist order and the Army and the Police are the main accused parties concerning the grave crimes, like the crime of Genocide, committed against the Tamil people, we are of the firm view that no internal / domestic mechanism or inquiry can result in genuine prosecutions against the Sri Lankan Army, Police and members of its political class. To hold an internal / domestic accountability process will be tantamount to “victor’s justice” and hence we insist on an international criminal justice procedure as portion of a wider programme for accountability, truth seeking and justice.

The TNPF has also warned the Tamils regularly about attempts to use the Tamil people’s struggle as leverage for geo-political contestations. We have argued that we are not against the national interests of any nation, but are opposed to Tamil national interests getting sacrificed by any global energy for the attainment of merely their ambitions and interests.

We urge and welcome our detractors to engage us with the issues that we stand for. Regardless of the electoral setbacks suffered by the TNPF, the celebration will remain committed to the Tamil Nation’s struggle for self-determination, justice and genuine democracy.

Gajendrakumar Ponnambalam
President, Tamil National People’s Front

29 August 2015.

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