Chris Patten's Aspirations For Peace And Modern Day Miracles.
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Here are sentiments expressed by a former British Development Minister Chris Patten now representing the EU in a manner almost reminiscent of a graveside eulogy, describing a visit to Sri Lanka and expressing sadness at the demise of what once was Sri Lankas acclaimed beauty, its fascinatingly diverse image and how much the internal armed insurrection of the LTTE has reversed the Country's successful development, one which analysts once projected as being capable of surpassing Singapore with ease at a time when Sri Lanka was in economical overdrive towards progress yet fizzled out consequent to LTTE atrocities, and the misery they have brought to hundreds of thousands of its citizens which by far pre -empted any chance of successful development.
While the thought of a lasting Peace is indeed (at least in theory) a pleasurable event and one which is likely to travel along a bumpy road nevertheless, and the journey to peace as inaugurated commendable, there are a few simple dynamics visualized by the people of Sri Lanka and its peers of wisdom some of them now retired and some isolated by virtue of their political leanings, which are not conducive towards the Sovereignty of the Nation nor Its Territorial Integrity and sadly the Intermediaries chosen by the UNF Government, Norway and Erik Solheim (previously rejected due to ambiguous and dubious credibility) do not seem to be able to 'cut the bacon' as they are not really an independent source and full of bias with proven pro LTTE leanings prompting the LTTE in their every move to maintain their authoritative mentality in demanding what the Heart of the Nation foresees as many areas of detriment and are more than likely to arrive at a stalemate in the same manner as previous attempts at Peace which evaporated hastily when real issues were confronted. A point overlooked by Mr. Patten.
The dynamics referred to which need to be set in place prior to any wishful thinking about Peace are plain and simple- The de-commissioning of weaponry and military hardware, their non proliferation, no further recruitment of personnel and the denouncement of their objectives for a separate homeland which has not been attested to nor documented thus far despite the celebratory mood of the Government and the LTTE! and the European Economy should not just yet hold their breath but instead keep an open mind about the eventualities of the Peace Process in the same manner that a weary traveller espies what he believes is clear water in a desert oasis but eventually turning out to be a mirage .
Indeed there are many lessons to be learned from the Past yet it has been a long Past, since Independence from the British where feudal politics has dominated decades of economic erosion and the Nation has been destroyed either by an over zealous sense of Nationalism on one hand and corrupt politicians on the other combined with the LTTE's dreams for a separate homeland where a once opulent Nation has been literally razed to the ground through fires of hatred, indecision and a lack of integrity towards the basic concepts of democracy where ruling parties have used their own interpretations of the term to suit their own conveniences.The reference to the LTTE being banned Internationally relative to the global fight against terrorism and the suggested inability consequently for terrorists to continue in a manner normal to their known modus operandi seems hardly a concern for the LTTE of today and it has yet to be proven that the International focus on terrorism as applicable to Sri Lanka is no flash in the pan as implied considering the arrogance of the LTTE.
One wonders about the noble expectations of many including that of Mr. Patten that there exists a viable possibility for the LTTE to transform itself into a political organisation and an active participant in the democratic process and if they could transform themselves into such an organization there could be nothing better to hope for as rather than call itself a liberation organisation the LTTE must renounce all those activities and operations which led to it being declared a terrorist organisation. The cease-fire agreement might in theory provide an opportunity to make a start according to the normal order of things although the definition of "A Normal Order" so far is a matter of conjecture to the more rational minded who are full of scepticism based on the capability of the LTTE to be opportunistic rather than sincere in their deepest aspirations.
It has been asked "what does that agreement mean? An end to hostile acts against the civilian population?. A new respect for each other's cultural and religious sensitivities?. Benefits to all inhabitants of Sri Lanka?, since the agreement clearly implies that ending the conflict is not just about Sinhalese / Tamil relations. The interests and rights of Muslims and other ethnic groups also have to be taken into account as implied unconditionally yet quizzically!. Mr Patten believes the Tamil People are sincere partners in the agreement very correctly but for being suppressed by the LTTE through intimidation and need to be disassociated from the LTTE. They want to live in peace and dignity, with safeguards to their political, cultural and social rights without a doubt as does the Sinhala Nation which has ironically tried to do so for generations. They want to rebuild their shattered lives and communities thus shattered by the LTTE rather than any other entity culpable for their horrendous suffering. But as Europeans as well as other Western civilizations have found over the past fifty years and more, the lasting solution to conflict can only come from establishing mutual respect and understanding between peoples and the huge rift in this particular area may take a few more generations to bridge although accomplishable, to haply down play Mr. Pattens enthusiasm. Unfortunately the mutual respect desired is not homogeneous and only exists in certain strata between the two communities at an intellectual level rather than at a grass roots level which is imperative to the cause!
Daring to trust each other has concrete benefits naturally. The removal of check points in the South, the opening of new roads to the North, the easing of restrictions on movements of people, the lifting of the economic embargo on supplies to the North are the first dividends of peace wherein lies the hypothetical confidence and expectation that further examples will follow but knowing the track record of the LTTE what concessions have they made so far to show faith? other than a continued build up of Arms, recruitment of cadre, fundraising through extortion and a series of smokescreens created to hoodwink the undiscerning of the Nation and International Opinion far removed from reality and of course to ensure their being exonerated from their crimes against humanity and a Sovereign Nation.
As the rhetoric goes on " the cease-fire agreement is not an end in itself. It has to pave the way and create the atmosphere for peace talks. Substantive issues still have to be addressed. It is vital that politicians on all sides make efforts to support the process, and treat peace as the foremost National priority" but where! oh where! has all of this been presented and mutually agreed upon thus far in a manner acceptable to the entire Nation? other than the compromises of its safety.
The cease-fire agreement monitoring team will undoubtedly be led by Norway, and will include members from two European Union Member States: Finland and Sweden. The monitors cannot guarantee peace and realistically neither will they be able to substantially help safeguard the agreement as speculated no more than the possibility that they could be given the fullest support and cooperation by all parties as many of them envision the MoU as a sell out, an observation also made by a greater proportion of the population at large. Just as vital it is said, the people of Sri Lanka must have free access to the monitors and be able to express their concerns, without fear of harassment which is an absolute contradiction of reality and wishful thinking if the eventualities of the recent Local Government Elections could be cited as an example together with the mayhem which ensued.
The ultimate truism expressed by Mr. Patten that " only the people of Sri Lanka can determine whether their land will have a peaceful future" is true provided they are not restricted from doing so by an Administration overly conciliatory to the LTTE. It cannot very definitely be dictated to from the outside. The role of the International Community is to provide support during and after the peace process, to ensure that a solution whether political or otherwise which is viable and acceptable to the Sinhala Nation is found and has a chance to take root. They in turn should be duty bound to ensure that such a solution incorporates the needs of the other ethnic minorities within the land. Is it to be expected then that an International (not Indian!) Peacekeeping Force may also be available for this purpose ?
The EU. The USA and the UN have long urged both sides to work for a negotiated lopsided settlement between two uneven entities, one being a Democracy and the other being a group of proscribed terrorists and there the aspirations of Mr, Patten takes an about turn as by pledging to unconditionally support Norway's role in the Peace Process without considerations to whether or not there are huge biases and prejudices in favour of the LTTE rather than the best interests of the Sinhala Nation.
In recent years he goes on to say the EU has provided considerable financial aid to Sri Lanka. Now, if peace can be maintained if it is ever accomplished through the present approaches by the protractors regardless of the price the Sinhala Nation may have to eventually pay if it ever backfires the EU it is quoted will be ready to participate in the rehabilitation of conflict-affected areas in the North and East of Sri Lanka and to assist in the revitalising the National Economy the latter being said sotto-voce and conditional based upon an EU desire to see a Lasting Peace in Sri Lanka that means jobs and greater prosperity for all.
It is assumed that Mr Pattens aspirations and well wishes also reach out to the Southern and Central Regions of the Nation which seem to have inadvertently been pre-empted and omitted though they refer to an expected return to normalcy to all of Sri Lanka that would compensate for many decades of LTTE created devastation which would then identify itself as a Modern Day Miracle which the Nation in reality desperately needs. But first it may be prudent to set things into proper perspective considering the needs of the Majority Sinhala within the Nation who have a right to their Sovereignty and Security before granting concessions to a group of proscribed terrorists regardless of whom they falsely represent.
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