Are we on the verge of another betrayal?

Shenali Waduge

Our soldiers & civilians share the burden of service to the Nation but why is it that both these entities end up shoddy victims of political weakness, political manipulations & even foreign political dictatorships? For 60 years as a nation we have been “celebrating” our independence following 443 years of colonial rule yet increasingly we can but wonder whether we have anything to really celebrate.

Just when the country (the first South Asian country) thought the open economy would take it to a higher status quo in development a movement to arm & fight for a separate homeland sprang into being. Was it coincidental that India became the epicenter of this struggle? Can India deny the allegations based upon hard factual evidence (even supported by writings of Indian National Security Adviser M K Narayanan) of India’s role in arming, training & supporting militants in Sri Lanka? It would puzzle anyone why a “friend” of Sri Lanka would wish to practically create a militant entity & ensure the entity remain a force to be reckoned with unless of course India had other designs in creating such a force. India & practically every country that have been responsible in enticing men & women to take up arms hallucinating a separate “homeland” & even assisting them militarily know that their “homeland” will always remain a hallucination so long as the arms industry are controlled by a few nations. Which in turn brings to focus the players involved in evolving a “political solution”…a “negotiated settlement” collaborating with State sponsored NGOs / INGOs to spruce up their campaigns ….these “agents” are mere pawns & their role is to eventually buy time & sustain the existence of these militants to force economic climates (loans, aid, etc), permeate political scheming & eventually befool the public & inadvertently our soldiers end up mere cannon fodder to history’s statistics.

We can be confident that in view of the importance of the State of Tamil Nadu especially being the real homeland of the Tamils that India would not allow the emergence of a separate Tamil homeland in Sri Lanka’s North. So, India was well aware of what it was doing in creating & nurturing militants in Sri Lanka – the militants would never be allowed to actually create a separate homeland unless & until India or any of the superpower states deem it necessary – as evident in the case of Kosovo, triggering alarm of a new precedent in world governance. India was prepared to permit the LTTE to indulge in bargaining with the GOSL so long as India’s sovereignty would not be affected but India would always ensure that the bargaining would always fall short of a “separate homeland”. This would explain why countless times despite military successes India came to the rescue of the LTTE to ensure the LTTE would still continue their rampage over Sri Lanka. What India therefore hoped to fulfill is rather a selfish ploy to ensure Sri Lanka’s development be deferred leaving a country very much dependent on India for economical & even political support. Lack of alertness by Sri Lanka officials to India’s “designs” has resulted in India practically controlling key business entities in Sri Lanka. Free Trade Agreements signed between the two nations have had little or no advantages for Sri Lanka – waiver of visa requirements for Sri Lankans visiting India is still to be decided while Indians require no visa entry to Sri Lanka. India’s selfishness is further highlighted in the manner in which it ignored Sri Lanka nomination for the UN Secretary General position & instead decided to field a candidate themselves thus breaking up the Asian votes.

The words of R. Sampanthan (India got Trincomalee & the Tamils got nothing) summarizes exactly what Sri Lankan Tamils should feel about India – India is not concerned about Sri Lanka, the Sinhalese, the Muslims & least of all the Sri Lankan Tamils. India is concerned only about India. While we can but guess what goes on inside the mind of the LTTE leader, we may perhaps presume that it is after understanding India’s real intentions that the LTTE made the bold move to assassinate Rajiv Gandhi, a fete that they later came to regret & for which they are using the Tamil Nadu vote platform as a means to coerce the Indian Central Government to “amend” India’s “supposed” hostility against the LTTE for killing Rajiv Gandhi – the visit by Priyanka Gandhi & meeting with Nalini an accused in the murder may perhaps be considered as a ploy to see how Indians would react.

The weaknesses of our political leaders their lack of visionary politics & complete disregard for the well being of the nation & its people have helped Sri Lanka remain at the mercy of global tyrants like India & all other forces that seek to politically & economically entrap the country in accordance with their agendas. Many of Sri Lanka’s leaders stand responsible for bringing a national issue to an international platform, for giving opportunity to brand our problem “ethnic” & doing little to undo the damage done internationally. We have had leaders who have supplied arms to the LTTE, ordered over 500 to lay down arms & give themselves up to the LTTE & end up digging their own graves, we have had leaders who have used the nations soldiers as mere toys & others who have preferred the LTTE guerillas over our own armed forces…so much so that names of these forces & their whereabouts had been divulged to the LTTE to be eliminated one by one. There are even some present day cabinet Ministers who held key portfolios during the 2002 ceasefire agreement & who seem not to care for their role in degrading the status quo of our armed forces….& now they praise our military! With such leaders amongst our midst do we need any other enemies? The satires that surround Sri Lanka’s political gamut will provide future generations much to retrospect.

History may explain how a ceasefire agreement that had recorded 3830 LTTE violations (351 by Government troops) could even be called a “ceasefire”. It is noteworthy how well timed & craftily the ceasefire was entered upon – it was in September 2001 that America was attacked on its soil totally taken unawares….thus triggering a “war on terror”. Obviously the LTTE’s macabre think tanks overseas needed to restrategize & the present Opposition Leader was eyeing to come out of a jinx that left him always in the opposition…it made a perfect match & thus was born the February 22, 2002 Cease Fire Agreement (it was short of actually legitimizing Eelaam) which was to be monitored by a monitoring mission comprising 10 monitors from Norway (the peace facilitator) & 20 monitors from Iceland (incidentally, Iceland is now pushing to succeed Norway as facilitator themselves)

At the same time there has been significant progress. Despite calls for “ceasefires”, “negotiated settlements”, “peace talks” etc…the present Government decided to stay firm with a military drive which eventually silenced critiques following the liberation of the East from tiger rule, held elections & can proudly boast to the international community that a former tiger is seated in the Chief Ministers chair. The East has also been turned into a model development program and is being used to show to the world that the Government is committed to resolving issues & to rebuild & redevelop areas that were under militants. The nation is patiently awaiting the results of these promises as are the people of the East. With the Supreme Court ruling on the North-East & eventual demerger the LTTE has had to confine its presence to only the North & going by present military drives we are to understand that the LTTE strength using conventional warfare has been practically nullified.

Amidst these successes we are seeing a significant change in approach as well. With the SAARC summit looming over Sri Lanka, it had uninvited guests in the form of the 3 most influential Secretaries of India. We are made to understand that the presence of the Indian premier to Sri Lanka would entail the presence of an extremely large contingent of Indian troops, Indian naval force, Indian air force jets all because of LTTE’s threat.....with the Trust Vote in India & the Indian MPs more or less up for sale…surely the Tamil Nadu politicos could have been approached to ensure nothing happens to the Indian premier…or was the LTTE just a ruse to show the Sri Lankan Government the clout that India has over Sri Lanka. Then what about the security of the other Heads of State…especially Pakistan who has been a REAL FRIEND…& ensuring that Sri Lanka was never in want of military equipment to fight the LTTE & there were no strings attached to these purchases…should Sri Lanka not be showing more gratitude for Pakistan? If media reports are correct can we call ourselves a sovereign nation if our Government has to make available to the Indian Government all military equipment we plan to purchase …more or less purchase them from India or only after obtaining Indian approval…(we are well aware of how effective the radar systems given by India were since they were unable to detect LTTE aerial presence!) & even submit the names of any Pakistani intelligence personnel entering Sri Lanka….has our Government agreed to any of these & what would really happen if the Government declines to accept these “rules”!

Obviously the public is unaware of the “political games’ that are in progress. Why would Sri Lankan leaders, secretaries etc require to make flight to India regularly to “brief” or “debrief” on what is happening in Sri Lanka? Why cannot Sri Lanka undertake to apply the “war on terror” policy that America is adapting to all its targeted enemies? Thankfully US military intelligence has effectively captured several LTTE operatives & is even working with global forces as evidenced in the arrest of an LTTE supporter working in an Australian business college with the help of Australian police. Even in the UK there are some arrests taking place though the LTTE still continue it’s fundraising. Even in Europe significant arrests of LTTE groups have taken place & we can assume that we are unlikely to see any changes to a resolve that has taken off the ground.

Yet, back home in Sri Lanka where despite world prices soaring the public are humbly accepting the unbearable cost of living with the faint hope that after 25 years the erstwhile peace seems closer to home …this feeling being elevated by the successes of the armed forces & even the soldiers feel that their lives that may be sacrificed may not be in vain. This certainly has brought the country together despite the economic hardships & there are many even amongst the Tamils who silently wish for a time that they can visit the North, their beleaguered relations without having to fear the LTTE or add to the LTTE kitty. Alongside these tidings we see a surge in international pressure …suddenly the LTTE is calling for peace talks…Sri Lanka’s leader is proclaiming readiness “but after disarming”…..Iceland is presenting itself as a probable facilitator…various Sri Lankan emissaries are even promoting a bigger “Indian role”….the NGOs/INGOS are working in unison with other forces to create a picture of a country that is unsafe, unsettled & dangerous, many are being accused of being RAW agents, CIA agents, people are being bought over, …. The US House of Representatives have even moved a Resolution for the US to intervene to bring, peace, & dialog into Sri Lanka…that seems strange since LTTE is branded as a terrorist group & Americans do not talk with terrorists….obviously something does not seem right & it immediately necessitates for even a small number to wonder what the Government is upto….how it plans to successfully negate the forces that are seeking to undermine the efforts on the war front but whatever the Government plans it should not end up a betrayal of the 2002 kind.

Like it or not it is the Government that ends up formulating the policy of the country …its ethics or lack of it becomes meaningless no sooner they enter office… it is these bad judgments that have led Sri Lanka to where it is the lack of political genius to outwit ones enemies that have made the nation suffer. The nation may not be able to nullify “terrorism” per se as voiced by Sri Lanka’s army commander – Gen. Sarath Fonseka who believes that even if the LTTE are defeated it may still continue as an insurgent group "Even if we finish the war, capture the whole of the north, still the LTTE might have some members joining them…. There are people who believe in Tamil nationalism. The LTTE might survive another even two decades with about 1,000 cadres. But we will not be fighting in the same manner. It might continue as an insurgency forever" (BBC – 30.6.2008).….perhaps the people of Sri Lanka can live with that since the JVP still on occasion’s resorts to the same type of insurgent tactics!

But the public has all the right to wonder whether the Government will do the right thing by the soldier & the people at this juncture & not make the fatal errors that previous Governments had made.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

Shenali Waduge

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