Sri Lanka's agony

Ramanie de Zoysa

Sri Lanka has seen several international moves going Sri Lanka’s way and against the LTTE since of late; however, whether these moves mean that Sri Lanka has finally earned the “right” to combat terrorism in the eyes of the international community remains a cause for scepticism. A more plausible verdict may be that Sri Lanka has indeed been the recipient of mixed blessings but Tamil racism and terrorism against Sri Lanka and its majority Sinhala people will continue to be identified by the international community as being ‘genuine grievances’ of Sri Lankan Tamils.

EU ban of the LTTE came very much later than should have been the case but late is always better than never. If not for the pressure exerted by US on the EU it is anyone’s guess whether EU would ever have banned the Tamil terror group, LTTE. It is yet to be seen whether the EU ban will amount to a scaling down of the LTTE terror activities especially in view of the ineffectiveness of the LTTE ban in the UK.UK has banned the LTTE but continues to entertain the likes of terror theoretician Anton Balasingham who issues public threats against the Sri Lankan state from the comfort of his London home and the terror hip-hopper (MIA) Arulpragasm who abuses music to lure youngsters to the ‘glory’ of terror.

Much of the good done by the action of banning the LTTE was immediately watered down by the comments of Sri Lanka's key international aid donors in Tokyo, who asked both Colombo and the LTTE to de-escalate the violence and return to negotiations. The continued comments of the international community placing the Sri Lankan government on par with the LTTE demanding that BOTH PARTIES de-escalate violence implies that the SL Government also acts as the aggressor executing innocent unarmed civilians just as much as the LTTE does.

US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian affairs, Richard Boucher, who stopped over in Colombo on his way home from the meeting in Tokyo, pledged military support for Sri Lanka's government in the case of an escalation of thuggery by the LTTE but took a detour saying that "It is important to be clear that the purpose of our assistance is not to encourage a return to war…We firmly believe that there is no military solution to Sri Lanka's ethnic conflict. Rather, our assistance is meant to help Sri Lanka deter a return to war."

Two things stand out from this statement. The US and rest of the international community are still firm in the belief that Sri Lanka lost over 60,000 lives to-date as a result of an ethnic conflict rather than a terrorist movement to grab land for a world-wide Tamil audience. Of the 60,000 lives so far lost in this so-called ethnic conflict, the majority dead are Tamils who were killed not by the SL Government or the Sinhalese but by Tamils either through assassination of Tamil moderates by the Tamil terrorists or due to fratricidal wars among Tamil terror groups. Secondly, the US will give military support to Sri Lankan Government but this support can not to be used to dismantle terrorism. The US military support will only be a deterrent for the LTTE going back to war.

Then there is India’s extension of the ban on LTTE. While a great relief to Sri Lanka, this action is no source of unmitigated joy for the country either. In its statement announcing the extension of the ban, India disclosed the entirely selfish basis on which the action was taken while also displaying its ever present readiness to bend the truth to suit its own agendas. The Ministry of Home Affairs Gazette notification announcing the extension of the ban admitted that "The LTTE continues to be an extremely potent, most lethal and well-organised terrorist force in Sri Lanka and has strong connections in Tamil Nadu and certain pockets of southern India.”

But then, in the very next breath the Indian Government disowned this terror machine by saying that “The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is an association actually based in Sri Lanka but having sympathisers, supporters and agents on the Indian soil." No acceptance was forthcoming of the fact that the LTTE was born and brought up in Tamil Nadu, the home of Tamil Nationalism and Tamil Separatism, with the open acquiescence of the Indian Government to further its singular aim of destabilising Sri Lanka.

There is no acceptance also of the fact that Sri Lanka will never be rid of Tamil terrorism as long as India’s Tamil Nadu continued to be a poverty ridden, grossly over-populated fermenting pit where aspirations of Tamil sovereignty remains a major undercurrent . India is in denial that out of her population of one billion, 60 million people are in Tamil Nadu which continues to be the growling underbelly of India, and that Sri Lanka will be always be the target of the fall out from this cauldron. Instead India’s claim is that Sri Lanka’s ‘ethnic’ problem is causing disquiet in India through the cultural links of the Tamils of both countries. India has handed the baby it produced out of wedlock to Sri Lanka and pretends to be the virgin next door bothered by the smell of its nappies!

There is however an overt acceptance of a crucial fact in India’s statement, whether it was intended or not. India claims that “the LTTE's objective for a separate homeland (Tamil Eelam) for all Tamils threatens the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India, and amounts to secession of a part of the territory of India from the Union and thus falls within the ambit of an unlawful activity” (Emphasis added). I draw special attention to the phrase “LTTE’s objective for a separate homeland (Tamil Eelam) for all Tamils”. This admittance at the Indian Government level takes the wind out of the sails of the “home grown”, “discrimination driven”, and “freedom fighting” platform of not only the LTTE but also the rest of the Tamil homeland theorists. LTTE and its ally in Parliament TNA (and also LTTE splinters such as TELO, EDPD, EPRLF as well as Karuna Group) are and have always been motivated by the need for a ‘Sovereign Tamil State’ for the 70 million inter-state Tamils rather than the welfare of between 2-4 million Sri Lankan Tamils. See website which states:

"Today, more than 70 million Tamil people live dispersed in many lands across the globe. “Thamilan illatha Nadu illai - Thamilanuku endru Oru Nadu illai" - "There is no state without a Tamil - but there is no state for the Tamils".

Of the so-called “grievances” the only specified, tangible grievances remain incidences such as the use of batons and tear gas by the Police on Tamil agitators pushing for 50-50 representation for the minority Tamils in the nineteen fifties and “state-sponsored pogroms” of 1983 which was but a violent reaction of a nation on whom a brutal attack was mounted by the LTTE in the form of a pre-meditated slaughter of 13 government soldiers. If every case of excessive force used by the Police or community backlashes against aggressive acts were rewarded with separate homelands or devolution packages in every corner of the earth there will be no countries of significant proportions left in the world.

India further confirmed how useless a neighbour it is when Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in Singapore that "India is not actively participating in this process" because of ethnic reasons and its proximity to Sri Lanka. India believes a "pro-active and active participation will complicate the issue instead of resolving it, but we stand fully behind the peace process which has been initiated," Mr Mukherjee said. In other words India is held to ransom by its 60 million Tamils against taking any action that may hinder the Tamil separatist action in Sri Lanka. Even though India extends the ban on LTTE that will primarily be to smother Tamil separatism on Indian soil. Even though India has a warrant for the arrest of LTTE leader Prabhakaran it will never be able to capture or execute him due to the Tamil Nadu factor as amply demonstrated by India’s unfathomable pardoning of the LTTE assassins of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Sri Lanka continues to be denied of the right to protect itself from terrorism by the very super powers who are engaged in a brave war against terrorism.

President Rajapakse of Sri Lanka has an unenviable job of towing the international community’s line, keeping his subjects calm in the face of grave atrocities committed daily by the LTTE and the long neglected economy of the country. His excellent article in the Opinion Column of the Asian Wall Street Journal titled “Taming the Tiger” is a great indication of what President Rajapakse feels as an individual as well as a Leader of a Nation.

Mr Rajapakse was scathing in his criticism of the international community which has failed over two decades to see through the Tamil deception of camouflaging an unholy land-grab as a fight for freedom from majoritarian discrimination. He states in this article; “while I welcome the condemnations of the Tamil Tigers' recent atrocities from the United States and European Union, as well as our international cease-fire monitors, words alone are not enough. Some countries took far too long to appreciate the true nature of the Tamil Tigers as a terrorist organization. Canada, for instance, only banned the Tamil Tigers earlier this year. And although the European Union last year imposed a travel ban on the Tamil Tigers' leaders, it only this week imposed a full scale ban (emphasis added).”

His comments indicate the unspeakable agony of ‘towing the line’ drawn by international powers when the truth and justice lay somewhere else. President Rajapakse ascends to the highest possible ranks of a true statesman and a great leader due not only to his ability to work patiently within the shackles the Sri Lankan Nation has inherited during the regimes of the past corrupt politicians but also for his forthrightness and courage to speak up against odds that are heavily stacked against his Nation.



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