“Erstwhile Terrorists Meticulously Transformed Into Today’s Heads of States”

(A response to Globe and Mail Editorial)

 

By V.Thangavelu

 

This refers to your editorial “Dividing Sri Lanka mean rivers of blood, The goal of the Tamil Tigers is illegitimate and unattainable” (Globe and Mail May 29,2000).

 

The editorial lacked evidence, it lacked depth, it lacked balance and it lacked style and it is very unbecoming of a newspaper like the Globe and Mail.  It is a mystery how the editorial board allowed such a vituperative, invective, blatant and biased editorial to slip through to print.

 

The tenor, tone and the style of the editorial easily fits a newspaper practicing yellow journalism!  The mud-slinging against the LTTE bordering on lunacy is unworthy of a newspaper like Globe and mail. All journalistic ethics and propriety have been thrown overboard in your scramble to discredit the LTTE. It is no exaggeration to say that this editorial could have easily emanated from one of the Sinhala racist owned newspapers like The Island, The Times or the government controlled Daily News all published in Colombo.

 

Your sweeping and bombastic claim that “The recent military success recorded by Tamil separatist rebels may give the impression that they are on the verge of realizing their dream of an independent Tamil state. That impression is false. The quest for a Tamil homeland is a futile, self-destructive struggle waged by a ruthless terrorist group in pursuit of an unattainable goal” reflects the typical Whiteman’s mindset about armed National liberation struggles of oppressed people against their oppressors. This exactly how the Whiteman opined about the armed national liberation struggle of the black African National Congress (ANC)  against white apartheid! Margaret Thatcher of imperial Britain and Ronald Reagan of capitalist USA refused to join the UN imposed sanctions against the apartheid regime on the spurious grounds such sanctions are counter productive!

 

The editor of Globe and Mail may rant, bark like a dog and swear that the quest for an independent Tamil Homeland is “ a dream” “futile”, “self-destructive” “unattainable goal”, but history is replete with many examples of people realizing their dreams of countries and states. Pakistan, Bangladesh, East Timor, Croatia, Bosnia, Eritrea, Slovak, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia are classic examples of  such dreams blossoming into nation states! 

 

The armed struggle of the Tamil people is not for a separate state. It is for the restoration of the Tamil Kingdom status quo ante, which existed for centuries before it was conquered by colonial powers like the Portuguese, Dutch and the British.  To be more precise the present armed conflict is a legacy of British imperialism, which erased the borders between the Tamil Kingdom and the Sinhalese Kingdom(s) for administrative convenience. The editor Globe and Mail should do his homework properly before he rushes like a fool into territory even angels will fear to tread.

 

You state that “Even if Tiger leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran manages to seize the entire north and east and declare independence, the international community is unlikely to recognize a would be country run by terrorists”, but then don’t be too sure!  When UNO was founded there were only about fifty states. Now it has 190 states, a four-fold increase, and I assure you the skies will not fall and the earth will not shake if one more is added to the number! After all a country’s borders are man made and not divine. Throughout history borders have been drawn and redrawn repeatedly.

 

As for your obsession to call the LTTE “terrorists”, my answer is one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter or patriot or both.  What distinguishes a terrorist organization and a national liberation movement is mass support and LTTE enjoys mass support. To deny this is to deny the truth. In any case it is the opinion of the Tamils that count and not that of  the editor of the Globe and Mail.

 

There are numerous examples of erstwhile terrorists meticulously transformed into today’s Heads of States and received with red carpets and military guard of honour! The Globe and Mail posturing on terrorism is sanctimonious humbugging and one of double standards.  Has the Globe and Mail conveniently forgotten that Israel Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir were both wanted terrorists by the British?  Menachem Begin  as leader of the illegal Irgun Zvai Leumi underground movement was  responsible for blowing up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, resulting in 91 deaths and countless wounded.   Yizhak Shamir as part of the ruling triumvirate of the Stern Gang authorized the 1944 assassination of Britain’s Lord Moyne and the 1948 murder of the United nations mediator Count Bernadotte.   Is Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State who authorized the assassination of Salvador Allende, Socialist President  of Chile a terrorist? Closer home, going back a little bit to past history, George Washington was proclaimed a wanted terrorist by British during American War of independence! In recent times Nelson Mandela  was  labeled  a  terrorist till  he  metamorphosed   as  heads of states.

 

The editor of Globe and Mail accuses the LTTE of bombing office buildings, but did not US and NATO bombed Serbia’s radio and television stations with smart bombs?  Is their one law for NATO and US and yet another for the LTTE? I can multiply the examples hundred-fold, but unfortunately space will not permit me to do so.

 

You seem to be unduly worried about the Tamils living in the south more than those living under the jack-boot of the Sinhala army in the Northeast! As you surmised the Tamils in the south will immigrate to the new state and live with dignity and self-respect unlike now living in fear among the majority Sinhalese. As for Muslims in the Northeast they will enjoy equal rights and privileges with the Tamils in a secular state. They speak the same language as the Tamils and they will preserve their religious identity. About Buddhists – those who were forcibly settled in the Northeast since 1948 by the Sinhala governments to change the demographics have to vacate their illegal homes. These are details, which can be worked out through bilateral or multilateral negotiations between the Tamil and the Sinhala governments.

 

Your editorial unwittingly helps to foster the illusion that moral arguments against the war might eventually win the day.  They cannot, because the primary (well-hidden) dynamic behind the Sri Lankan government’s genocidal war against the Tamil people is racism towards Tamils. The Sri Lankan government’s number one priority is to militarily cripple the LTTE so that it can impose and perpetuate its hegemonic will on the Tamil people and continue to rule them. And the devolution package which you seem to think will give “wide-ranging autonomy to the Tamils” is totally misplaced. since it does not meet the aspirations of the Tamil people. President Kumaratunga’s devolution package is a ploy to hoodwink the donor countries and hide her real intention to defeat the LTTE militarily through her infamous “War for Peace” campaign.  The devolution package strategy is designed to break-up the Tamil homeland and perpetuate Sinhalese domination over the Tamil people.   The editor Globe and Mail fondly hopes President Kumaratunga’s devolution package will provide “security and self-government” to Tamils not knowing that it is a cosmetic exercise to tinker with the present unitary and theocratic constitution.

 

Like the Globe and Mail, the Western governments too, led by the US, have vested interest in defending the current status quo in Sri Lanka. There is big money to be made from the Kumaratunga administration’s willingness to sell off Sri Lankan assets at rock-bottom prices. For many western profiteers, the death of Tamils is well worth tolerating while so many goodies are up for grabs. That is one very obvious reason why western diplomats can be seen expressing such confidence in Chandrika’s sincerity, (despite the stark reality that Chandrika’s five years reign is a curse and an unmitigated disaster for the Tamils),  to achieve “Peace through War”. 

 

Again, the intermittent and the half-hearted calls for talks with the LTTE by diplomats no longer washes with the Tamil community, who know full well they are being treated as expendable pawns in the amoral scramble for economic gains.  No wonder then that a future Tamil state in the Northeast remains a “dream”  “futile” “destructive” and “unattainable goal” to these vested interests.  Meanwhile, morality and high principles are cited and a crusade is launched against the bogey of “terrorism” and “terrorists” to justify their own selfish agendas. To the Globe and mail and the West, true democratic values by themselves, like the right of self-determination,  are irrelevant.

 

But if one looks at the wider picture, this has not been the approach of West to all freedom struggles.  Didn’t they change their stance, for example, vis-à-vis South Africa and Bosnia, at some stage, and even help people there achieve peace with justice?  They did, but only when they realised that the freedom struggles in those countries could not be defeated, and that further escalation of conflict would jeopardise their own interests in those regions. Until the inevitable victory of a freedom struggle becomes crystal clear, they tend to find ways of helping ruling oppressors to crush the struggles of the weak and the down-trodden oppressed (unless of course the ruler himself, like Saddam Hussein, constitutes a threat to their own interests.) people.  The same logic is being applied to Sri Lanka. As long as the West thinks the possibility of crushing the LTTE exists, and as long as the Sinhalese government’s determination to murder Tamils persists, the West will find ways of backing it, in word and deed.

 

Finally your claim that “ Any attempt to solve the troubles is Sri Lanka must be premised on the assumption that the country is indivisible and the realization that dividing it would mean rivers of blood” is pure fantasy. You are mistaking the symptoms for the disease. You seem to be under the illusion that a "united” Sri Lanka is now flowing with milk and honey and not rivers of blood! Sri Lanka is already flowing with rivers of blood, mostly that of the Tamils, because Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinists want to keep the WHOLE country to themselves. The only sensible way to stop the hemorrhage and stop the rivers of blood flowing is to revert to the boundaries that existed before 1833. The LTTE is engaged in a national liberation struggle, which is recognized as a legitimate mode of struggle under international law. Equally the Tamil people of Tamil Eelam are entitled to the right of self-determination under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the two major international human rights treaties (Sri Lanka has ratified these Covenants and treaties). 

 

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states

 

Whereas it is essential, if mankind is not to be compelled

to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny

and oppression, that human rights should be protected

by the rule of law .....’(UDHR 3rd preambular paragraph).

 

It is time the editor of Globe and Mail come to terms with reality instead of living in a make-believe world of his own creation!  (Courtesy: The HOMELAND (English edition of Namnadu Tamil Weekly, Toronto- June 08/06/2000)


 

 “India, Sri Lanka need to destroy LTTE's air, navy” – A response
 

V, Thangavelu

 

B. Raman is another lackey and unrepentant apologist for the racist Sri Lankan government. He is in the business of offering  free “advice” to the rulers of Sri Lanka how to defeat the LTTE militarily and politically.  As his name suggests he belongs to the Brahmin gang of N.Ram, Thuklag Cho, and Dr.Subramanian Swamy who are sworn enemies of Thamil nationalism.

The thrust of Raman’s main argument is that attacks by the LTTE on Sri Lankan military targets are "acts of terrorism"  while attacks by  the  racist Sinhala army on Thamil civilians and senior LTTE cadres are “patriotism.” This is the type of twisted logic of all LTTE baiters and Raman is no exception.

Raman has the audacity to suggest “It is in the common interest of India and Sri Lanka to weaken and ultimately destroy the LTTE's maritime and air capabilities. The maritime capability includes its navy and its commercial shipping fleet” but I hope India will not bite this bait! LTTE having a naval force and shipping fleet is none of the business of India. Our kings who ruled over the Jaffna kingdom had naval fleets in the past! I Before them during the 10-11th centuries  the mighty Cholas naval fleet with Tiger flags flying high  dominated the Bay of Bengal and the Indian ocean.  I  hope saner and mature counsel will prevail among Indian political leadership and they will not act rashly as advised by an imbecile.   

After the EU listed the LTTE as a terrorist organization those SLMM members from the Nordic countries Denmark, Finland and Sweden  cannot discharge their duties impartially. There will be conflict of interest. That is the reason why the LTTE has asked they be replaced. No self-respecting Thamil will kiss the leg that tramples him. A spineless Raman may stomach such insults but not Thamils.

Raman has nothing to comment about Mahinda Rajapakse’s unilateral rejection of the Oslo declaration that a solution based on the right of internal self –determination of the Thamil people be explored to find a solution to the ethnic conflict. Even the Co-chairs have taken Mahinda Rajapakse to task over his repudiation of the Oslo declaration. But to Raman who licks the boots of Rajapakse it does not matter a wee bit.

For Raman the killings of Thamil civilians are alright except  as long as they are not "disproportionate." . He does not want to admit that it is part of the genocidal policy of the Sinhala government to kill and maim as many Thamils as possible. Emptying Thamil villages through military cohesion is the covert and not so covert policy of the GOSL.  Trincomalee is a good example. The majority of Thamil refugees who sought refuge in Thamil Nadu came from Trincomalee. To facilitate the expulsion of Thamils from Trincomalee, the GOSL has appointed a Sinhalese retired army major as the government agent.

The present blood letting on both sides is entirely due to the GOSL reneging on the agreement reached at Geneva in February to disarm armed groups, after agreeing to do so.  Mahinda Rajapakse took the illogical and stupid stand that there are no armed groups operating along with the army in the Northeast. But he let the cat out of the bag when he proposed to the LTTE recently that he will rein in the Karuna group if the LTTE agreed to direct talks by-passing Norway. 

Self-appointed and self-styled analysts like Raman may bark at LTTE, but  he cannot  stop the LTTE's  march  to liberate the Thamil people from the yoke of Sinhala imperialist rule. The LTTE will be ever present as long as the Sinhala government bends over backwards to impose hegemonic rule over the Thamils. Let us wait and see who will have the last laugh. 

Finally a 65 million question  to Raman. What is the Sinhala army despised by the Thamil people doing in Tamil heartland? I need an honest reply from him! 

 


 

India, Sri Lanka need to destroy LTTE's air, navy

June 27, 2006

 

Many successful acts of suicide terrorism by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, including the assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 and Sri Lankan President R Premadasa in May 1993 were made possible by weak physical security and poor access control by the security agencies of the State responsible for their protection.

The assassination by the LTTE of Major General Parami Kulatunge, deputy chief of the army and commander of the security forces headquarters - Wanni at Pannipitiya, 15 kms south-east of Colombo on Monday can also be attributed to poor access control.

Sri Lankan army general assassinated

He was reportedly proceeding to his office in a security convoy when a lone suicide bomber on a motorcycle, apparently coming from behind, caught up with the convoy, drove parallel to it, reached up to his car and dashed against it while detonating the improvised explosive device simultaneously.

B.Raman is another lackey and unrepentant apologist for the racist Sri Lankan government who offers free “advice”. As his name suggests he belongs to the Brahmin gang of N.Ram, Thuklag Cho, and Dr.Subramanian Swamy who are sworn enemies of Thamil nationalism.

The thrust of Raman’s main argument is that attacks by the LTTE on Sri Lankan military targets are acts of terrorism, while attacks by a racist army on Thamil civilians and senior cadres is “patriotism.” This is the type of twisted logic of all LTTE baiters and Raman is no exception.

Raman has the audacity to suggest “It is in the common interest of India and Sri Lanka to weaken and ultimately destroy the LTTE's maritime and air capabilities. The maritime capability includes its navy and its commercial shipping fleet” but I hope India will not bite this bait! LTTE having a naval force and shipping fleet is none of the business of India. Our kings had naval fleets in the past! I hope saner counsel will prevail among Indian political leadership.

After the EU listed the LTTE as a terrorist organization those SLMM members from those countries cannot discharge their duties impartially. There will be conflict of interest. That is the reason why the LTTE has asked they be replaced. No self-respecting Thamil will kiss the leg that tramples him. A spineless Raman may stomach such insults but not Thamils.

Raman has nothing to comment about Mahinda Rajapakse’s unilateral rejection of the Oslo declaration that a solution based on the right of internal self –determination of the Thamil people be explored to find a solution to the ethnic conflict. Even the Co-chairs have taken Mahinda Rajapakse to task over his repudiation of the Oslo declaration. But to Raman who licks the boots of Rajapakse it does not matter a wee bit.

Even the LTTE's attempt to kill Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka, the commander of the Sri Lankan army in April was attributable to poor access control. A woman suicide bomber penetrated the premises of the complex housing the army headquarters and blew herself up as the general was leaving the office in his car. He was seriously injured, but survived.

While the LTTE, in keeping with its usual practice, has not claimed responsibility for its unsuccessful April attempt and its successful act of June 26, there need not be any doubt that it was responsible for both acts of terrorism. It demonstrates its ability to collect precise intelligence about the movements of its targeted victims and operate undetected even in and around Colombo.

A perusal of the detailed biodata of the killed general as disseminated by a web site considered the mouthpiece of the LTTE indicates the probable reasons why the LTTE targeted him. Among the indicators available in the web site report, one could mention the following:

  ·         He was an expert in intelligence and special operations.

  ·       In the past, he had advocated 'extra-judicial measures' against the civilian population and supporters of the Tamil Eelam cause.

·         He was a key figure in promoting cooperation between the army and Tamil groups opposed to the LTTE.

·         He was a hardliner and a close associate of General Fonseka.

Shattered peace in Sri Lanka

The assassination is widely perceived as the LTTE's retaliation for the recent assassination of two top ranking LTTE military commanders, Ramanan of Batticaloa and Mahindi of Mannar, for which the LTTE blamed the Sri Lanka army.

Before his posting to Batticaloa, Ramanan was in the intelligence setup of the LTTE. He had reportedly been entrusted by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader, with the responsibility for neutralising Karuna, who had deserted the LTTE along with some of his followers in March 2004 in protest against Prabhakaran's discriminatory policies towards Tamils in the eastern province.

'Divide in LTTE will weaken it'

The murderous attack on General Kulatunge came shortly after a conciliatory interview given by President Mahinda Rajapakse to the editor of a Tamil daily Uthayan. In the interview Rajapakse expressed his readiness to hold direct talks with the LTTE to find a political solution instead of the Norwegian intermediary, and to stop the activities of the group led by Karuna against the LTTE if the LTTE proved its good faith by refraining from all acts of violence for 15 days, which could strengthen his hand.

Rajapakse was reported to have remarked that he found himself caught between his army and the LTTE, hinting thereby that some of the recent operations of the military, which resulted in civilian casualties, did not have his approval.

Taming the Tamil Tigers

The LTTE apparently did not believe his statement and rejected his offer.

Rajapakse's conciliatory offer came shortly after Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera's visit to New Delhi for talks with Indian leaders. However, there is no evidence to suggest that the conciliatory offer was the outcome of the discussions of his foreign minister in New Delhi.

India's Vietnam: The IPKF in Sri Lanka, 10 Years On

The LTTE action in rejecting the conciliatory offer and assassinating the major general need to be strongly condemned by India and other members of the international community. A careful examination of the LTTE's recent actions and statements indicates certain tactical and strategic objectives of the Tigers.

Among the tactical objectives are the neutralisation of the Karuna group, which is coming in the way of the LTTE re-establishing its political primacy in the eastern province; the continuation of Norway as the facilitator of the peace process; and the re-organisation of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission in order to exclude the three European Union members in the mission.

The LTTE regards the role of the EU members as having become untenable because of their going along with the EU's recent decision to include the LTTE in the Union's list of terrorist organisations.

The LTTE's evident strategic objectives are to seek an ultimate solution to the Tamil problem, which would concede something more than a conventional federal solution by letting the LTTE retain its armed forces and intelligence set-up in any political solution without merging them with those of the federal government.

In the interregnum, before a political solution is reached, to seek the legitimisation of what it asserts as its control over the territorial waters off the northern and eastern provinces and to have the Sri Lanka navy excluded from there.

The LTTE looks upon itself not just as a conventional non-State actor, but as a non-State actor which already has established many attributes of a State such as an army, a police, a judiciary and a tax-collection machinery to enforce its control over the land occupied by it. There is a navy to enforce its control over its territorial waters and an air force to enforce its control over its air space. Whether the LTTE has really an air force or not is still a matter of speculation, but its army and navy are ground realities.

The war in Lanka

Till the time of writing of this article (8 am on June 27), Rajapakse had not ordered any retaliatory attacks against the LTTE similar to the air strikes on LTTE-controlled territory, which he had ordered after the April attempt to kill the army commander.

Retaliatory attacks by the government would be justified under the doctrine of active defence but could be counter-productive unless the government is able to strengthen its physical security in such a manner as to be able to deny spectacular successes to the LTTE if it retaliates again.

For the present, the LTTE seems content to continue with its present policy of retaining the cease-fire and the role of Norway as facilitator on paper, while maintaining its acts of terrorism against selected targets and the operations of its navy.

There are no indictors as yet of the likelihood of large-scale ground operations by the LTTE army despite the recent (June 4) intimidatory statements of Soosai, chief of the LTTE's navy, where he had spoken of the possibility of a coordinated offensive in many areas simultaneously and of its capability to strike at the Sri Lanka navy even in the waters off southern Sri Lanka.

He was reported to have said: 'It will be a blitzkrieg, a sudden and swift simultaneous attack to redeem our entire Tamil homeland in the north and east. We would not adopt the earlier method of fighting to redeem it inch by inch.'

India's Lanka dilemma

The present ground reality of no victories on the ground and no progress towards the table works to the detriment of the Sri Lankan government. Even while continuing with its attempts to persuade the LTTE to return to the table, the government has to, through appropriate proactive measures, prevent the ground from giving way under its feet.

The LTTE is hoping for a battle fatigue among the Sri Lankan armed forces even before a fresh battle is fought. The government should not allow this to happen.

During his visit to New Delhi, the Sri Lankan foreign minister was reported to have stated that the recent air strikes of the government were directed at destroying the LTTE's air capability such as the airstrip reportedly constructed by it. Its planes and helicopter gunships were also recently reported to have acted against the LTTE's navy off the Mannar coast. These are good, well-calibrated actions. Actions like these could be continued despite the warnings of the LTTE to hit back if there are fresh air strikes.

The most important thing is for the government to keep a tight control over its armed forces to prevent disproportionate use of force and targeting of civilians.

It is in the common interest of India and Sri Lanka to weaken and ultimately destroy the LTTE's maritime and air capabilities. The maritime capability includes its navy and its commercial shipping fleet.

There is a need for an Indo-Sri Lankan Joint Working Group on counter-terrorism, which should focus on destroying through appropriate methods the LTTE's maritime and air capabilities.

Dealing with the LTTE's ground capability is the task of the Sri Lanka army. India should not get involved in it.

 


 

January 27, 2009

 

The editor,

Globe and Mail

Toronto.

 

Dear editor,

 

Thanks for the editorial titled "Peace is a chance". 

 

In the past the Globe and Mail paid scant attention to al the ethnic that was raging in Sri Lanka except to identify the armed struggle of the Thamil people as "terrorism" and LTTE as "terrorists"

 

The pros and cons of the struggle were completely ignored because of the obsession with the word "terrorism" and "terrorist" by the West! Even a cursory glance at history will reveal that it is STATE TERRORISM that gave birth to Thamils armed resistance.  In this context,  I will like to quote what the Army Chief Gen.Sarath Fonseka told the National Post in an interview  on September 23, 2009. It reveals the Mahavamsa (A Buddhist chronicle that is replete with little history  and  plenty of myths) mind-set of the Sinhalese at the highest  levels. General Fonseka's disquieting observations were of a highly racial  nature. Among other things, General Fonseka  said that," I strongly believe that this country belongs to the Sinhalese but there are minority communities and we treat them like our people…We being the majority of the country, 75%, we will never give in and we have the right to protect this country…We are also a strong nation … They can live in this country with us. But they must not try to, under the pretext of being a minority, demand undue things.”

 

As for the claim that “Many Sri Lankan Tamils are descendants of workers brought in from India during the British Raj; they were sometimes resented by the Sinhalese majority. Not long after Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) became independent in 1948, ambitious politicians found Sinhalese nationalism to be an effective vehicle” is factually and historically false.   In Sri Lanka there are 2 categories of Thamils. The majority are indigenous Thamils confined to the North and East of Sri Lanka. The other category popularly called Hill country Thamils  were immigrants brought as indentured labor during the British occupation of the island. According to the 1946 census the Thamil population is as follows:

Ceylon Thamils   733,734  (11%)

Indian Thamils     780,589  (11.7%)

The Indian Thamils were deprived of their citizenship in the very  year (1948) Ceylon got independence and in the following  year their franchise rights. A million people who toiled hard  in the tea  and rubber plantations infested with  leaches  were rendered stateless over night.  Their  representation in parliament was redacted from 7 out of a House of 96 to Nil in 1952. In the late sixties 525,000 stateless Thamils  born and bred in Ceylon (Sri Lanka since 1972)  were repatriated like cattle  to India under the Srimavo-Bandaranaike Pact.  The percentage of Thamils during the last 60 years have dropped from 22.7 to 18.7 today. Systematic State sponsored colonization of the North and East have drastically altered the demography of  those provinces.  They  have been now  reduced to a minority in the East i.e. from 70 % to 33 %!

It is  the continuous and deliberate  STATE TERRORISM  of  Thamils of genocidal proportions  that drove them to  bear arms. So your characterization "The LTTE's recent series of defeats are in part a beneficial result of the international crackdown on terrorism since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on New York" is in bad   taste. It lacks a historical understanding of the current conflict. You are simply  lumping the LTTE with a fanatical religious and faceless outfit like the Al Qaeda!

Yours Sincerely

 

Veluppillai Thangavelu
President


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090126.weSrilanka27/BNStory/specialComment/home

Peace is a chance

January 27, 2009 at 12:00 AM EST

The Sinhalese majority of Sri Lanka should prepare to demonstrate openness toward the Tamil minority, as an end to a civil war that began in July, 1983, becomes likely.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam have been notorious over the past quarter-century for terrorism. The LTTE pioneered suicide bombing before it became a tactic of Islamist extremism. For its part, the Sri Lankan military has been guilty of some savage repression.

The LTTE's recent series of defeats are in part a beneficial result of the international crackdown on terrorism since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, on New York. The LTTE's overseas fundraising in Canada and elsewhere has been made far more difficult, so that people of Tamil origin around the world have a good chance of freedom from LTTE extortion. Moreover, the Indian and Sri Lankan navies have successfully reduced weapons smuggling into Sri Lanka.

Attempts at peace over the years failed. The impending military victory by the Sri Lankan armed forces, though not the ideal context for nascent interethnic harmony, is nonetheless an opportunity.

It is in the government's interest to make clear to Tamils that they are not second-class citizens. Tamil separatism grew from genuine grievances. Like many conflicts across the world, the war amounts to an unresolved legacy from the retreat of imperialism in the 20th century, which often left a power vacuum that was filled by ethnic nationalism.

Many Sri Lankan Tamils are descendants of workers brought in from India during the British Raj; they were sometimes resented by the Sinhalese majority. Not long after Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon) became independent in 1948, ambitious politicians found Sinhalese nationalism to be an effective vehicle.

To this day, ambiguities in the Sri Lankan constitution express that nationalism. Though it declares freedom of religion, it also asserts the primacy of Buddhism, the religion of the Sinhalese; most Tamils are Hindu. For some years, Sinhalese was the only official language; now, Sinhalese is “the official language,” while Tamil is “also an official language.”

Sri Lanka needs unambiguous equality before the law. The LTTE will not simply disappear; it is likely to linger on as a guerrilla movement in the rain forest. If Sri Lanka does not work toward reconciliation, the vicious cycle could resume in another generation.