TIME TO RESOLVE ‘NATIONAL’ CONFLICTS
One of the biggest threats to peace around the world is the suppression of national identities and communities, whether it be Amazonian Indians, Tibetans or the hill tribes of India.
Most of these conflicts do not directly affect the UK and many remain obscure. Two fairly recent examples of violent conflict however have provoked a reaction within the UK. The first was the Israeli bombing of Gaza and the second the Sri Lankan shelling of civilians in the northern part of that Island.
These conflicts became UK news because of significant demonstrations in favour of those on the receiving end of the bombings namely the Palestinians (in Gaza) and Tamils (in Sri Lanka). Whilst one can argue that Israel backed down under international pressure Sri Lanka did not. Unlike the Palestinian cause few Westerners have supported the Tamil cause. Political activists, normally so eager to jump on non-establishment bandwagons, were conspicuous by their absence. Those on the Right bought into Sri Lankan propaganda about fighting a ‘War on Terror’ (forgetting that the political conflict pre-dated any armed struggle) whilst the Left clung onto a fantasy of Sinhala and Tamils workers uniting in a peaceful utopia.
As National Liberals however we believe that self-determination is the inalienable right of any people’s since the nation is the pinnacle of group loyalty (beyond ‘family’ and community). Thus the only way to achieve long term peace in such conflicts is the ‘Two-state solution’ i.e. a functioning Palestinian state living alongside a recognised Israel and a Tamil Eelam (homeland) alongside a predominantly Sinhala Sri Lankan state. There is no reason to suppose that there would be further significant conflict once national aspirations are satisfied.
The world’s Governments by and large oppose such solutions for fear of opening up a ‘Pandora’s box’ which will lead to numerous demands for autonomy or independence (particularly within their own territory). The Organisation of African Unity’s (OAU) Charter, for example, strictly forbids the redrawing of boundaries. Our view however is, so what?
If an indigenous people are being discriminated against and are unable to preserve their differences e.g. language or worship then the creation of a nation-state within ancient territories (if the wish of those peoples) is a logical answer. It is so long since the boundaries of Western Europe were re-drawn or colonies liberated that many of us have forgotten the importance of the principal of ‘self-determination’. The breakup of the Soviet Empire and Yugoslavia should have reminded us that there were/are still many unresolved ‘national questions’ if not subjugated peoples around the world.
We are not promoting an utter fragmentation of the world; for many autonomy or even absorption will be their choice. However, for those peoples where no choice is permitted, we should support moves by expatriates to form Government’s-in-Exile as a way of raising those peoples profile and help campaign for their diplomatic recognition. Whilst we would not support ‘direct intervention’ into a countries ‘internal affairs’ it is perfectly acceptable for a country to support such ‘Governments’ whilst withdrawing support/aid/preference to a state that is subjugating a separate peoples within its own borders.
Unfortunately, when Western political elites rushed to protect the Muslim majority in Kosovo from Serbia’s ‘ethnic cleansing’ it was for geopolitical interests rather than humanitarian concerns or the principal of self-determination. Nevertheless free from the ‘shackles of oppression’ the majority of Kosovans opted for independence and a sore between two peoples begins to heal however slowly. Any other solution would have been a fudge and perpetuates injustice and conflict. Is it not time the world started to look at similar solutions for similar conflicts?
Whilst the Nationals Liberals in the U.K. are relatively new and presently a marginal force we can nevertheless usefully campaign by leaflet or banner on the principal of self-determination and remind the West that they once (following the First World War) embraced this principal as sacrosanct. Other parties have conveniently forgotten this, it’s time for a wake-up call
National Liberal Party
PO Box 4217, Hornchurch,
Essex, RM12 4PJ
Date: June 20, 2009
Categories: UK News