The Indo Lanka Peace Accord of July 1987 required Sri Lanka to hold a referendum only in the northern province and the eastern province by 31 December 1988. It was to decide whether these two provinces should permanently merge. However, according to the Constitution and the Referendum Act of 1982, only the President can call a referendum. Using this provision, Sri Lanka managed to evade the referendum that was forced upon the nation.
The danger of a referendum is imminent
A vital legal question is, has Sri Lanka abrogated the 1987 Indo-Lanka Peace Accord. Although the IPKF was sent back, there is no mentioning of formerly abrogating the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord. If it is still in force, Sri Lanka is still under the obligation to follow it though it was never beneficial to the island nation. No matter how trivial it may be, the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord must be abrogated if it not done so until now.
Assuming the Accord has ended and is not valid anymore, there is a very high likelihood India will once again set a date for a referendum in the north and the east. Having learnt the mistake of allowing the Sri Lankan Constitution to decide when to hold it, India and USA, via another UNHRC resolution, force Sri Lanka to hold a referendum in the north and the east. There is no law barring it. Although it seems grossly unfair and unwise to hold a referendum only in two out of nine provinces of the country, the law does not stop it. Half knowledge pundits claiming such a referendum cannot be held must think again. The government of Sri Lanka accepted and agreed to hold such a referendum in the north and the east in 1987! That means it is doable. Ultimately what matter is not what is righteous but what works.
Tamils Against Genocide, British Tamil Forum, Global Tamil Forum, Transitional Government of Tamil Elam and Tamils for Obama are strongly canvassing for a referendum to decide the future of the northern and eastern provinces. They go a step further; they want the referendum to decide on self-determination.
It is more than likely the 22nd session of the UNHRC when Sri Lanka is obliged to report back on the compliance with the 2012 March resolution will pass another resolution to hold an internationally monitored referendum in the north and the east to be held on to decide either on total self determination or their merger. Brushing aside this likelihood with logic, morality and other immature arguments is outright foolish. UNHRC does not operate on logic, morality, righteousness or balance. It is totally run by the concept ‘might is right’.
The threat UNHRC poses to sovereignty, territorial integrity and the unitary status must be countered with a foolproof strategy.
Otherwise until Tamil Elam is created, they will come up with videos, documentaries, resolutions, etc.
How to avoid it or overcome it
There is no sense in struggling with 52 member contingents to Geneva, protests marches island-wide, pointing out to rampant double standards of the UNHRC and reconciliation achievements. They don’t stand a chance as can be seen from the March 2012 UNHRC session. Tamils for Obama would have scored another victory by then by supporting the upcoming US election, hiring more legal experts the government of Sri Lanka cannot even think of, creating more manipulative videos, buying more NGOs/politicians/activists, etc. and making further inroads into Tamil Nadu.
Interestingly the next Indian Parliamentary General Election is due around the same time the 22ndsession of the UNHRC will be held! That means Tamil Nadu influence on India will be many times more then than in 2012.
By 2013, more moderate nations would have fallen out to become pro-US puppet regimes. Like Libya did in 2012, they too will vote against Sri Lanka.
There is only one way to overcome it. Aggressive, state sponsored “colonization” (the word used by Hon DS Senanayake) of the north and the east with new non-Tamil settlements.
That is the only way this absurdity can be overcome sustainably. Going by the voting pattern, there is a deficit of 270,059 non-Tamil voters in the north and east to defeat any referendum. In other words, around 300,000 adults must be settled in the north and the east by mid next year.
TNA, TULF, ACTC, ITAK, TMVP and part of EPDP voters will vote for separation or merger of the north and the east. Since the 2010 General Election had a low turnout (lower than the 2010 Presidential Election), the 2004 General Election data is used. LTTE rigged the vote in Vanni at that election. However, still the voter turnout was low compared to rest of the country. If a referendum is held in the north and the east only, Tamils from these areas living in Colombo will also vote. It is no secret they have registered in both districts’ election registers. Therefore it is safe to assume a higher number for them.
Based on these results district-wise “NO” (NO to merger or self determination) and “YES” (YES to merger or self determination) votes percentages are as follows.
Batticaloa – 17% NO; 83% YES
Digamadulla – 81% NO; 19% YES
Jaffna – 6% NO; 94% YES
Trincomalee – 59% NO; 41% YES
Vanni – 10% NO; 90% YES
Applying registered voters as below and a voter turnout of 80% for the east and 60% for the north,
Total NO vote – 463,308
Total YES vote – 733,367
Difference – YES vote higher by 270,059.
This is the current ground reality. This must be changed by settling sufficient numbers of people to balance the ethnic composition in the north.
It is worth noting that had the Sinhala and Muslim people were not chased away from the north and the east, their numbers would have grown to an additional 161,979 applying average population growth rates to their populations in Jaffna in 1971 and 1990. That would have reduced the deficiency to only 108,080.
Sinhalisation of the north and east must start now aiming for the possibility of another UNHRC resolution that may force a partial resolution on Sri Lanka. UNHRC, India, USA and Norway (CFA) have already shown they can effectively circumvent to Constitution by either buying over or threatening politicians. The time to act is now, not in 2013.
Providing housing facilities to security forces personnel and their families in the north is a good start. It can also overcome the UNHRC demand for demilitarisation. It is a quick way to change the ethnic composition of the north irrespective of the fact they live there or not. Timely action within Sri Lanka can make any external threat ineffective.