After the defeat of LTTE – People have a right and a duty to prevent separatist ideas from destabilizing our country again
Posted on January 23rd, 2010

By Lakshman Wickramasinghe

Tamil separatism has many faces. The most well known face was LTTE’s terrorism. Eight months ago Sri Lanka was liberated from LTTE’s separatist driven terrorism when they were comprehensively defeated at Nandikadal.

This unprecedented feat was achieved by a Team of committed, skillful, and innovative military commanders, officers, and fighting men and women, and defense officials, working synergistically under the political leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksha and his government. Once a political decision was taken by President Rajapaksha to defeat LTTE militarily, every constituent part of the Team performed magnificently. The team included, Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksha, the Defense Secretary and officials, General Sarath Fonseka, the Army Commander, officers and soldiers, Admiral Wasantha Karannagoda, the Navy Commander, officers and sailors, Air Chief Marshall Roshan Goonatilaka, the Air Force Commander, officers, and men and women of the air force, the Police Force, and the Civil Defense Force. The support team included the families of fighting men and women, and the majority of Sri Lankans who came together irrespective of political affiliations to support the humanitarian operation. The media played a key role in keeping the people informed of the progress of the humanitarian campaign and the heroic and humanitarian deeds in the front.

The key element that defined the Vadamarachchi campaign of 1987 from the humanitarian campaign of 2009 is the fact that President Rajapaksha, unlike President Jayawardene, did not succumb to international threats and order a halt to the military operations when Mr. Prabhakaran was cornered. Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksha did not buckle under international pressure, applied at critical stages of the campaign using a variety of tactics including appeals, protests, dignitary visits, and threats of international judicial action. The Commanders were able to use their creativity and strategic skills to prosecute the humanitarian campaign effectively and brilliantly as political support and decision-making continued to be predictable till the very end of the humanitarian campaign.

The belief that any political solution offered to the north and east, while LTTE was militarily strong, would eventually lead to the break-up of the country, has given way to a perception, (now that the LTTE has been comprehensively beaten), that a reasonable political solution may be offered to address the national problem. The vast majority of the Sinhala people are also beginning to believe that such an approach would provide opportunities for people in the north and east, who suffered most from LTTE terrorism, to live in dignity and honour while attaining a higher standard of living.

There are also other reasons for optimism. Moderate Tamil parties and their leaders as well as the transformed LTTE leaders have demonstrated their resolve to work collaboratively within the available political structure, in a constructive manner, to find solutions to problems of the Tamil people. These processes are encouraging the Sinhala majority to begin to reconcile with the people in the north and east. The visionary work of moderate Tamil leaders such as Mr. Douglas Devananda in building bridges among communities, and working for the benefit of all communities for over a decade, despite threats to his life by the LTTE, has had a positive impact in the south. The political changes seen in persons like Minister Vinayagamoorthy Muralidharan, and Chief Minister Chandrakanthan have enhanced the confidence of the people on future potential for national reconciliation and amity.

The political and psychological space that is being created now in the south in support of the offer of a political solution to address the national problem (primarily due to the defeat of the LTTE and all of the above positive causes) is growing and need to be further promoted. All responsible political leaders on both sides of the divide having experienced the new perception that is evolving in the majority Sinhala population, need to act responsibly so as to strengthen the sentiment that a political solution is beneficial to all Sri Lankans, and the Tamil people in the north and east. The Tamil diaspora in industrialized countries could also invest in the north and east to help a people who have suffered for thirty odd years to attain normality and rebuild their lives. All parties should be willing to forsake the confrontational politics that held sway for thirty years or so. As described earlier, there are examples that can be emulated to chart a new collaborative model for the development of Sri Lanka.  

However, two important branches of Tamil opinion-leadership, namely 1 the diaspora and 2. the Tamil National Alliance seem to be unable to grasp and capitalize on the positive sentiments that is developing in the south for promoting  the normalization of lives of the people in the north and east, and catalyze a reasonable political solution to the national problem.

Although weakened, the diaspora, still possess enough finances and international connections to either attempt to promote national reconciliation, a reasonable political solution to the national problem, and thus help normalize the lives of people in the north and east or attempt to revive the unfruitful and destructive path of separatism. It is time for the new diaspora leadership to breakout of the old conundrum of confrontation and separatism and embrace a new model of cooperation where a political solution to the national problem could be evolved on the basis of one country,-one nation where equal opportunities, protection of rights, non-discrimination, and enhanced participation in development and governance, for all people living in Sri Lanka irrespective of ethnicity would be ensured, while nurturing the cultural identities of all constituent ethnic groups. However, it is unfortunate that the diaspora has so far opted to continue with the same confrontational model, which has not brought the Tamil people living in Sri Lanka any benefits.  

The new diaspora leadership has picked “”…”up the dropped the “ƒ”¹…”war crimes baton’. The war crimes relay race has now gathered speed. For example in Dublin, last week or so, there was a mock trial on war crimes against Sri Lanka. (It should be said that this is purely a propaganda act and has no legal effect- but it shows the intent of the leaders of the diaspora).

The war crimes baton has now been handed over to the United Nations. The war crimes call which seemed to have been dying a natural death has now being revived due to the lobbying of the diaspora and the controversy surrounding the alleged white flag comments made by the opposition candidate. All field commanders who were leading the final phase of the humanitarian campaign, publicly denied the veracity of the white flag story. They felt sad and let down, but said that truth will ultimately triumph.

Key field commanders and their Divisions who rescued nearly two hundred thousand of Tamil civilians held hostage by LTTE, received them with utmost friendship, hospitality and respect. The soldiers skipped meals to offer food to the rescued in the first stage of the rescue. The TV images broadcast this rescue and reception to all corners of Sri Lanka and to some extent the world.

 The diaspora leaders are reportedly holding referenda among the Tamil expatriates in Europe asking whether they want a separate Eelam state in Sri Lanka. What heavy-handedness! Non- Sri Lankans are voting to decide the structure and the political future of Sri Lanka. The diaspora leaders are also lobbying international governments to support the formation of a trans-national Eelam government.

So it is clear that the diaspora is refusing to learn lessons from the past. It is not late even now for the diaspora members to impress upon their leadership the need to learn from past mistakes and adopt a conciliatory stance which would really help people in the north and east to begin to normalize their lives peacefully and in dignity.

TNA’s recent history shows that it has verily been the political face of Tamil separatism. In the 2004 parliamentary elections, TNA made a declaration to the effect that LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamil people, thus exposing TNA’s  “ƒ”¹…”peculiar brand of democracy’ and its blind acceptance of LTTE. Throughout the humanitarian operation, TNA sitting in Parliament, continually voted against the extension of the Emergency, which was vital to curb LTTE’s terrorist activities. TNA provided moral and propaganda support to the Tamil diaspora to lobby western governments to pressure Sri Lankan government to suspend the humanitarian operation designed to release thousands of Tamil citizens oppressed by the LTTE, and to defeat LTTE militarily.

A substantial part of the TNA, it seems including the group led by Mr. Sampanthan, who declared support to the opposition candidate, has yet to seek-out lessons from past experiences. A list of points reportedly publicized by Mr. Thurairatnasingham, a key leader in the TNA-S faction over a Tamil radio channel, (and broadcast by some electronic media,) as issues that are of importance to the group, can be described as contentious.

Some of the key points included in the issue- list (as per the above mentioned media reports) are, self-governance; re-merging of the north and east; downgrading of national intelligence apparatus; withdrawing all high-security zones in the peninsula; reducing security forces in the north and east; and releasing all LTTE suspects in custody including hard-core cadres (without being either rehabilitated or indicted for crimes committed). The re-floating of these issues after the defeat of LTTE terrorists, would create confusion among all Sri Lankan citizens. This may also contract the political and psychological space that has been expanding in favour of an offer of a reasonable political solution to the national problem in the south, due to suspicion that separatist sentiments could again  be stirred “”…”up especially in the north and east, and generally in the whole country. If this happens, this is a real dis-service perpetrated on the people in the north and east who suffered for thirty long years due to terrorism and extremist political ideologies espoused by some politicians in the north and the east. 

 We do not for a moment question the right of TNA to put forth their political ideas as Sri Lanka is a democracy. Similarly in a democracy, the citizens also have a right and duty to analyze critically the impact of such ideas, on security, ethnic harmony, national reconciliation, institution of a reasonable political solution to address the national problem, and above all on sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.

Sri Lanka achieved success against separatist terrorism with much sacrifice-thousands of our fighting men and women paid the supreme sacrifice; thousands are maimed for life; the childhood of thousands of children in north and east were destroyed by LTTE when they turned them into child soldiers; many political leaders both Sinhala and Tamil and thousands of innocent civilians were murdered by LTTE. In the threatened villages marauding LTTE terrorists brutally killed even infants and breast-feeding mothers. That brutality and the resultant fear that gripped the nation for thirty long years has, now,  been removed.

            Therefore it is the right and duty of all Sri Lankans, to nip in the bud, all attempts to revive separatism and communalism through political pathways during this critical time. In this task, let us have the wisdom to analyse and decide on issues, without being influenced by parochial considerations of ethnicity and political party affiliations.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2020 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress