Let Prabhakaran rest in peace
by Nalin de Silva
Prabhakaran’s press conference could not project him as the prince of peace, the leader of a national liberating struggle. The conference confirmed that Prabhakaran is a fascist murderer who is not prepared to give up his mass murdering to achieve his ambition of becoming the president, prime minister and the whole cabinet of Tamil eelam not confined to the eastern and northern provinces but the central, sabaragamuwa and uva provinces as well.
Most of the Sinhala people had known all these in advance and as far as his political objectives are concerned nothing new emerged out from the press conference. However, there was something that not only the Sinhalas but the journalists who had gone to Kilinochchi came to know of Prabhakaran as a result of the press conference.
He is a below average politician who is very slow in thinking and a person who cannot express his ideas. Even to answer questions that were put to him in Tamil, he had to depend on Anton Balasingham. In more than many ways it was Balasingham’s press conference where Prabhakaran played not even a secondary role.
Prabhakaran may be "good" as a terrorist but as a leader of the people he is hopeless. It is not for security reasons alone that he does not take part in "negotiations". The man is simply incapable of talking and thinking fast.
He is only good at killing his opponents, whether they are Sinhalas, Tamils or even Indian leaders. He cannot be a good strategist and if not for the betrayers whom the Sinhalas call their leaders and the so-called international community and the press there wouldn’t have been a Prabhakaran.
There was a Prabhakaran "discourse" and the Prabhakaran, the world knew was a creation of this particular discourse. I give below some of the responses of foreign press and journalists to the Vanni press conference. "Mr. Prabhakaran, who appeared ill at ease, managed a smile on just two occasions in the 2 1/2 -hour question and answer session.
The rebel leader, whose conflict with government forces has claimed more than 60,000 lives, looked tired and corpulent ." (National Post - Canada). "Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabhakaran has spoken to the world media. It is a pity, after 12 years of comparative silence, he could not find more to say.
Perhaps the rebel leader has become too used to speaking through the power of the bomb and the bullet. Perhaps, like many terrorists, he fails to recognise when the time has come to negotiate, to hang up the guns and talk peace." (Gulf News). "If it was the intention of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam to boost the image of its leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, by presenting him to the world media, the all round verdict is that the strategy failedÉÉ..But more planning seemed to have gone into the screening of journalists than into the possible questions they would ask.
The LTTE leader seemed ill-prepared for many questions and not at all at ease before the media. ``He has not done his homework,’’ exclaimed an astonished Western journalist as Mr. Prabhakaran was tongue-tied when he was asked how he expected India to lift the ban on his organisation when he was still a wanted man for the Rajiv Gandhi assassination.
His habit of lengthy consultations with his political adviser, Anton Balasingham, before replying to most of the questions, was completely at odds with his image as the all-powerful leader and master strategist of a ruthless guerrilla group.
Several times, Mr. Balasingham took it upon himself to reply, prompting a journalist to ask if he was speaking for himself or for Mr. Prabhakaran. He interpreted questions into Tamil for the benefit of the LTTE leader and provided him with a sanitised translation of the word." (The Hindu) "The 47-year-old LTTE founder-leader, wanted in India for the 1991 assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, had a grim look, a cold stare emanating from his eyes, as he breezed into a newly built rebel office where electricity was supplied from an unseen generator.
Surrounding him like a fortress, first when he got out of a white van with tinted glasses and later inside and outside the hall where he sat flanked by his confidants, were heavily armed uniformed LTTE commandos and four bodyguards who, with their dark glasses, resembled villains from a movie. One Western journalist asked Prabhakaran why he had "goons" ringing him, but his ideologue Anton Balasingham did not translate the word.
It was clear that Prabhakaran was a poor master of communication in contrast to his military skills that have stumped those who have watched his LTTE grow from a motley crowd of 40 poorly armed men in 1983 to the world’s most well-armed, well-knit and feared insurgent group.
He answered most questions briefly or left Balasingham, who was translating in English, to speak for him." (Indo- Asian News service). "Prabhakaran walked in exactly as scheduled sporting his new peace look by throwing out his camouflage tiger uniform for a light grey brass buttoned safari suite and as he stepped into the hall the heads of hundreds of journalists, waiting to get a glimpse of one of the world’s deadliest terrorist leaders, moved like a rising wave.
Journalists were asked to enter the war-torn Vanni a day in advance for security reasons and most people who came from Colombo had to leave two day’s in advance to make it in time.Some lucky foreign correspondents had the luxury of staying at the LTTE’s exclusive Mallavi guest house sleeping on beds and fed scrumptious prawn curry but most others were filled into abandon buildings made to sleep on mats and enjoy a simple Dhosai meal.
Prabhakaran made no opening statement and instead dedicated two-and-a-half hours to answer questions from the media only refusing to discuss his past relationship with India and suicide bombings.
Throughout the media conference he (Prabhakaran) hardly smiled, looked terribly nervous and was often helped by the organisation’s chief theoretician Anton Balasingham.
He was far from the confident Prabhakaran he is reputed to be, but it did not matter to many." (Times of India.) . "LTTE supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran’s marathon media show for the world stage on April 10 evening turned out to be a public relations disaster for him, and a big disappointment as a news-making event." (Indianfo.com).
It is clear from the press conference that the LTTE has not given up eelam. They still cling to the Thimpu conditions and want the government to recognise that the Tamils are a separate nation, Northern and Eastern provinces, demarcated by the British only in 1886, constitute the Tamil homeland, and that the Tamils have the right of self determination.
The prime minister Mr. Ranil Wickramasingha and Dr. G. L. Peiris are trying to make out that the LTTE has given up their demand on self determination. They want us to believe that with the use of the new term "internal" self determination used by Balasingham, the LTTE has adopted a new line. I believe that "internal" self determination is not an LTTE invention, and Norway and the western political scientists are behind this new terminology, of which the government knew before the conference.
Let us analyse what Balasingham had to say on this all important question. "By self determination we mean the right of our people to decide their own political identity. It can also mean apply to autonomy and self government.
If autonomy and self government is given to our people, then also we can say that the internal self determination is to some extent met. But if the Sri Lankan government rejects our demands for autonomy and self government and continues with repression, then as a last resort we would opt for cessation. That also comes under self determination. So self determination entails autonomy and self government.
In an extreme case, in the last resort it means cessation. Therefore we say, if the Sri Lankan government offers the Tamil people the form of self government and autonomy in recognition of our nationality and also the right to self determination then we will consider the offer.
But if the government refuses to give us proper autonomy, proper self government and continue with this repression then we have no other alternative but to fight for political independence and statehood. That is our perspective." What Balasingham says is that the LTTE would give up eelam only if eelam is offered as an alternative.
What do they mean by self government? Balasingham has specifically used the term self government and according to him self government is part of or less than "internal" self determination, for he has said that "if autonomy and self government is given to our people then also we can say that the internal self determination is to some extent met". What is envisaged is nothing less than a confederation.
A confederation is de-facto two states with two parliaments (legislative institutes - in Prabhakaran’s case it would be Prabhakaran with Balasingham as the spokesman) with two presidents, two prime ministers (Prabhakaran would be both president and prime minister within his internal self determination) but de-jure one state as far as the other countries are concerned for purposes of appointments of ambassadors etc.
A confederation appears to be one country when effectively there are two states and the western political scientists would fool us by describing it as internal self determination. Internal self determination is another name for a confederation, just as much by peace Prabhakaran means an eelam. Mr. Ranil Wickramasingha has been talking of asymmetrical devolution of power, for some time, that also means a confederation.
The people are given the impression that the government and the LTTE are having different views but they are all agreed on a confederation. Balasingham said at the press conference that they are going to Bangkok only to discuss interim administration.
We have to realise that interim administration, in the first instance, is for the northern and the eastern provinces. They are not going to discuss internal administration for the northern province and the eastern province separately. The two provinces are taken as one unit and already the boundaries of eelam have been demarcated.
The Sinhala people cannot agree to this position and no discussion should be held considering these two provinces as one unit. Balasingham stated that the so-called Tamil homeland is the homeland of the Muslims as well. Now this raises two questions.
Firstly the Sinhala people cannot consider the northern and the eastern provinces as their homeland. It is ironical that the Sinhalas whose kings settled the Muslims in the eastern province cannot consider the eastern province as their homeland but the Muslims are "allowed" to do so.
What would be the position of the Sinhala people living in the eastern province in this so-called interim administration.
If the Sinhala people living in the eastern province cannot consider that province as their homeland it implies that they would be not second class citizens but non entities or "outsiders" in that part of the country.
The so-called interim administration is going to be the structure of the government in the northern and eastern provinces that constitute one part of the confederation, until an eelam is declared. There is no need for talks on talks.
Talks have already begun and the government is only trying to deceive the people. The second question that arises from Balasingham’s statement on homeland is about the identity of the Muslims in the eastern province. The Muslims are considered as Tamil speaking people and not as a separate group. This is a problem that the Muslims have faced since the days of Mr. Ponnambalam Ramanathan, who in the nineteenth century claimed that he represented the Muslims in the legislative assembly.
The Muslim leaders such as Mr. Siddi Lebbe were against that formulation and ultimately they had their own representation in the legislative assembly. However the present leaders of the Muslims have capitulated to Prabhakaran and they have signed agreements with a murderer of the Muslims. As somebody had mentioned Mr. Hakeem is asking for the head of Mr. Anuruddha Ratwatte on the assumption that the latter is involved with the killings of Muslims at Udathalavinne but prepared to accept the man who killed thousands of Muslims in the northern and eastern provinces as the president and the prime minister of the northern and the eastern provinces.
Mr. Hakeem would not meet Mr. Ratwatte but goes all the way to Vanni meet the fascist dictator. Prabhakaran has met Mr. Arumugam Thondaman as well to discuss the problems of the Tamils in the uva, central and the sabaragamuwa provinces.
Now do these three provinces come under the administration of Mr. Ranil Wickramasingha, Dr. G. L. Peiris and co., or the so-called interim administration of Prabhakaran? How can one understand Messrs Hakeem and Thondaman, two ministers of the legally elected Sri Lankan government, going to Vanni to discuss the "problems" of the people whom they "represent" with a fascist murderer, with the blessings of the prime minister of the country?
One would have thought that the two ministers should have discussed these "problems" in the cabinet. Not even Don John Dharmapala has shown the timidity of the present ministers of the Sri Lankan government, who are only good at bullying those among the unarmed Sinhala people who do not agree with their "policies".
Prabhakaran has shown that he would not be satisfied with the northern and the eastern provinces. The discussions with Mr. Thondaman on the "problems" of the Tamils in the uva, central and sabaragamuwa provinces indicate that Prabhakaran is thinking of a greater eelam incorporating those three provinces as well.
If we continue to have the present set of "rulers" (whom do they rule?), it is a matter of time before these three provinces also become the homeland of the Tamils. Balasingham has no misgivings about "democracy".
This is his reply on the right of the Tamil parties to engage in politics in the north and the east. "Now almost all the Tamil parties in the north and the east are supporting the LTTE. There are some Tamil armed groups that we do not consider as political entities as such, but as mercenaries and they support the Sri Lanka armed forces against the LTTE. É..
In future there will be no problems. We will allow the genuine democratic Tamil parties to function in the north-east as democratic entities.".
So it is Prabhakaran who would decide which political parties could function in the northern and the eastern provinces!. So much for the democracy of Prabhakaran. The LTTE has imposed conditions. They have not only violated the MOU, of which the monitors could do sweet nothing, but are imposing conditions on "talks" .
They now insist that the proscription on the LTTE should be lifted. This is only to gain equal status with an elected government and to establish their credentials as "rulers" or leaders of a so-called national liberation struggle.
The LTTE tries to project the view that they are for peace but the government is obstructing their efforts by not agreeing to their conditions.
The spokespersons of the government do not have the courage to say that the LTTE by imposing conditions are obstructing the so-called peace process. Instead timidly they accept the LTTE view that they are obstructing the "peace process" and are now considering ways and means of lifting the proscription so that they could be in the good books of Prabhakaran.
There is only one way to have peace in this country. That is by helping Prabhakaran to rest in peace as early as possible.
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