CLASSIFIED | POLITICS | TERRORISM | OPINION | VIEWS





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World Council Of Sinhala Peers' Interpretation Of Truths, Conjecture And Consequences As Outlined By A 'Perceptive' Group Of Tamil Intellectuals- UTHR (Jaffna)

World Council Of Sinhala Peers For LankaWeb

Based on The - Special Report No. 17

Rewarding Tyranny: Undermining the Democratic Potential for Peace

True: The LTTE has engaged in a deliberate effort over the last 21 months to advance its political and military hold on the North-East under the cover of the cease-fire, to gain access to billions in foreign assistance, and meanwhile to contain any democratic effort (local or international) that might challenge its basic totalitarian nature. While its leaders honed their diplomatic skills, their cadres terrorised opponents and sowed communal discord. The LTTE's audacity in disclaiming any responsibility for the killing of its political opponents in the government-controlled areas, mirrors the disingenuousness of its assurances to the Sinhalese people and the international community that it is earnest in its quest for peace.

True: The effects are being felt. Violence and communal unruliness are on the rise; as are inter and intra-party political squabbles at the parliamentary level. While Tiger leaders parade around European capitals shaking hands with every dignitary the Sri Lankan government can muster, at home, on the orders of these very same leaders, their frightened, confined and often-impoverished democratic opponents and their families, (and others long out of politics) are being abducted, tortured and killed.

True:The LTTE, which routinely denies placing children under arms, was forced to implicitly admit it engaged in the practice, by the fact of an agreement with UNICEF in March this year, on demobilizing child soldiers. However, the UNICEF's sacrifice of principle in the name of realpolitik has parodied the effort to bring relief to child soldiers. Contrary to all expectations of the agreement with UNICEF, the LTTE has once again intensified its conscription programme, renewing its demand for one child per family in several eastern districts, while making aggressive intrusions upon school children in the North.

Absolutely True: UTHR(J) has repeatedly argued that a peace process that accommodates systematic violence is a contradiction in terms. We document the LTTE's conscription of children, its violence against Muslims and against its own people, not simply to illustrate how LTTE terror functions, but to show its devastating effect on society. The fascist ideology practiced by the LTTE -- one that denies independent thought, compassion and tolerance -- will never bring peace and dignity to the Tamil community or security to its neighbors; its destabilizing nature in the region must not be underestimated.

True:Current efforts to secure a lasting peace in Sri Lanka were doomed from the outset, because they began by denying and then downplaying obvious abuse (such as the LTTE's blatant child conscription and systematic political assassination). Blaming Sinhalese or Muslim "extremists", the PA, SLMC, or the hapless Tamil groups opposed to the LTTE for its failure is convenient, but wrong.

Conjecture: The Government's bankruptcy is evident in its critical, but perhaps misplaced, reliance on India and the US coming to its assistance in the event of a resumption of war, while it has singularly failed to build any meaningful consensus with the opposition on the political issues at stake. The Government has not declared bankruptcy just yet! The reliance on the USA and India are based on commitments made to Sri Lanka by both these Nations together with many others concerned with Regional Peace In South Asia and a resumption of war even as a consideration could prove completely fatal to the LTTE who must also be aware of this reality and its implications.

Very True:The Norwegian interlocutors and the Japanese, who are mustering the financial incentives, and the international community, together with the Government, have shown a dangerous ineptitude in their stark failure to hold the LTTE to international norms, which it repeatedly acknowledged. Were the LTTE's perception of interest in a federal solution? it had at its disposal international goodwill and war wariness and a desire for peace in this country as cardinal assets. In the Guatemalan case, even a militarily weak rebel group became a key partner in the peace process through the agency of the Assembly of Civil Society. The LTTE's interest in a Federal Solution is broadbased on their own interpretations of Federalism and impossible conditions asked totally unacceptable to the Sinhala Nation whose Independence and Sovereignity could be compromised through LTTE demands.

Absolutely True: What we have in this country is a total perversion of the peace process by the LTTE. Instead of calming the situation and allowing the country to 'think peace', it has steadily stepped up the warlike rhetoric. It has used the military space provided by the ceasefire to conscript children under the very noses of the Army, to launch a massive military build up and to secure strategic deployment. The course of the 'peace process' tells its own story very clearly:

  • In Oslo in early December 2002, LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingam made a commitment to a settlement involving federalism and pluralism. Meanwhile in the east, murder and abduction of LTTE's opponents and child conscription intensified. A Clear Example of the LTTE double standard where the deviation from a written and signed accord means nothing to them!
  • At the Hakone talks last March, both the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) subverted Mr. Ian Martin's proposals for independent international human rights monitoring - the only way to effectively ensure that the rights under discussion would actually be protected.
  • Having refused to attend the aid pledging conference in Tokyo, the LTTE also rejected the Tokyo Declaration of 10th June 2003 that tied support for the peace process to human rights, democracy and pluralism.


Probably Inconclusive:Paragraph 16 of the Tokyo Declaration reads: "The Conference also urges the parties to move expeditiously to a lasting and equitable political settlement. Such a settlement should be based upon respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. In this regard, the Conference looks forward to the parties reaching early agreement on a human rights declaration, as discussed at the sixth session of peace negotiations at Hakone." But what does the Declaration really mean in practice? Respect For Human Rights, Democracy and The Rule Of Law are areas The LTTE have not observed and the Declaration theoretically appropriate yet practically not proven.

Very True:On linkage between donor support and progress, Paragraph 18 includes, "Participation of a Muslim delegation as agreed in the declaration of the fourth session of peace talks in Thailand" and "Parallel progress towards a final political settlement based on the principles of the Oslo Declaration". Both these have now been virtually ruled out by the LTTE and hardly anyone is pressing them. Also included is, "Implementation of effective measures in accordance with the UNICEF-supported Action Plan to stop underage recruitment and to facilitate the release of underage recruits and their rehabilitation and reintegration into society." A great deal has gone wrong from here. Why the misleading euphemism of 'underage recruitment', when the fact of the abduction and conscription of hundreds of very young children has been confirmed by organizations including the AI, HRW, UNDP and the SLMM? We will not speculate, one need only look at the current direction of UNICEF's work.

  • Four days after the Tokyo summit, as though to signal its contempt for the Declaration, the LTTE assassinated its most potent political opponent, T. Subathiran, who was an embodiment of the democratic principles outlined in the Declaration. By this time, members of the international community were in a quandary. They had almost stopped talking about democracy and human rights, so intent had they been on encouraging the peace process.
  • By mid-July2003 the LTTE had successfully changed the terms of debate. It renewed its early demand for an Interim Administration for the North-East on terms that would in effect confer on it unchecked power in exchange for continued participation in negotiations. It demanded control over not only economic matters, as proposed by the Sri Lankan government, but also policing and judicial services. The LTTE is not waiting for any constitutional settlement involving the whole of Sri Lanka. Its blueprint for a hierarchy of councils reaching down to the villages, and having the leader at the apex, is already in circulation.

An important contradiction in the Interim Administration approach with sinister consequences is being overlooked. The High Security Zones issue can be resolved only through a political settlement leading to de-militarization. The interim administration having a brief for re-construction in the absence of a political settlement, will quickly lead to rancorous, irresolvable contradictions over the High Security Zones. The LTTE apparatus is well practiced in making the Government and the Sinhalese look unreasonable, even while it pushes its military stakes. At this time the LTTE has turned a traffic accident in Jaffna into a familiar 'people's agitation' for the Army's removal.

The response of the international community was reflected in the World Bank's announcement on 16th July of a release of $1 billion over the next four years for reconstruction in Sri Lanka. The country Director Peter Harrold, while saying that the peace process was going 'remarkably well,' linked disbursements to further progress. He refused to be drawn into the question of human rights (V.S. Sambandan, The Hindu, 17.07.03).

  • By August the LTTE had brought a new diversion onto the process by putting up a camp west of Mutur in an area declared by the SLMM to be outside their zone of control, and then ignoring repeated pleas by the Monitors to remove it.


The World Bank, ADB and the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) issued a statement on 2nd October after a two-day meeting. It spoke of their commitment to assist reconstruction and development in line with the Tokyo Declaration, and to fund new projects based on progress in the peace process. AFP quoted Peter Harrold on financial aid, "Merely resuming the talks between the Colombo Government and Tamil 'tiger' rebels would not be sufficient. We want to see results emerge from the talks rather than the start of the talks."

Whenever questioned on human rights, Harrold has merely reiterated the Tokyo Declaration, but avoiding the subject otherwise, as in the 2nd October statement, even as child conscription and assassinations by the LTTE are alarmingly on the rise. As indicated above, the Tokyo Declaration's intentions regarding human rights, democracy and an expeditious political solution have been surrendered almost casually. The idea of progress now appears to rest largely on a neo-economic agenda. We argue in this report that this is an area that calls for much re-thinking. Absolutely endorsed as there are too many hypothetical situations outlined here in Mr Harrold's responses and the sheer casualness of Mr. Harrold's attitude suggests ineptitude.

Partly True: There is little doubt now as to who was calling the shots, but by this time the attention of the International Community was wandering; Sri Lanka was once again treated as a marginal problem in world affairs. The events indicate that the International Community's idea of progress means, in practice, progress on the LTTE's terms. International Community not clearly defined but this could be interpreted as a direct reference to Canada whose tolerance of the LTTE has been an enigma towards the Peace Process which was also maintained by the United Kingdom to a great extent.

Very True: To the UNP government, probably as it had known at the outset, the problem became one of maintaining an appearance of peace talks, with conferences here and there, in the hope of keeping the World Bank and others happy to disburse cash until the next elections. The emphasis now is not to rock the boat and to keep the money flowing. For the Norwegians and the Japanese, it has become a matter of saving face. And for the LTTE it is fast becoming an area of great concern as it seems very likely that they will not have a direct hand in disbursement of funds being an outlawed and condemned entity.

Conclusions Based On Facts Presented Relative To LTTE Disillusionment.

The Diplomatic Blitz and the Message

Along with the meeting of donors in Colombo, which the LTTE declined to attend, a well-coordinated diplomatic blitz was launched by the donor countries to persuade the LTTE to restart the peace process. All met LTTE political wing leaders in the areas they visited. The Danish ambassador visited the Vanni on 10th -11th September; the Japanese envoy Akashi, Amparai on the 13th and the Vanni on the 14th; the Norwegian Deputy Foreign Minister Vidar Helgesen and his Special Adviser Erik Solheim had discussions with various parties on the peace process from 17th to 19th September; the Canadian ambassador visited Killinochchi and talked to Thamilchelvan on the 19th and the SLMM Head had discussions with Thamilchelvan on the 28th.
There is no doubt that they all raised the same issues, including killings, with perhaps differing emphasis. What is more important is the impression they make on the LTTE. During the period covering this diplomatic offensive, from 7th to 28th September, there had been in the Batticaloa and Amparai Districts, a record of 6 murders by the LTTE, 3 disappearances and one injured victim in hospital (see Chapter VI below). This is not surprising.

The LTTE media represent this intense courting of its functionaries by diplomats as the international community endorsing their exclusivist ideological claims (see articles by Thuraimehanathan and Venithan in Thamil Alai, 20.09.03). They see this as a special privilege granted to them for the sacrifices of their dead, and hold it an insult for anyone else, the Muslim leaders for example, to think that they should sit with them as a party to the negotiations. Any injunctions by diplomats about killing or child conscription do not register. Why should they, if they are not seen to be seriously meant?

The EPDP complained in a letter to the Japanese ambassador (17.9.03) expressing distress over the Japanese Special Envoy Yasushi Akashi's negative approach to meeting democratic Tamil parties. It pointed out that members of the Tamil opposition parties who were being decimated by LTTE assassins were excluded from the delegations Akashi met in the Amparai District to assess the situation, despite earlier requests to the Japanese embassy.

If one is in any doubt about the message the LTTE is getting from the West and Japan, take the following remarks made by Commander Karuna from a press interview given from Zurich during his recent European tour (Thinakkural 4th September 03):

"In support of the interests of Sinhalese communalists, some Muslim leaders [Rauf Hakeem in particular - UNF Stooge And A Betrayer Of The Muslim Community according to many within his own Community] are engaged in creating divisions between Muslims and Tamils...Therefore if communal clashes break out in the North and East, it is the people of this region who will be destroyed. Hence the Muslims must be extremely careful in this matter... When a separate police unit is raised for the protection of Muslims, it will lead to many problems. The Muslims must understand this. When an ordinary problem explodes into a clash, it is the Muslims of this region who will bear the destruction... If a special police unit is created under the present conditions, the Muslims will have to be very vigilant to prevent communal clashes. We have experienced at first hand the tragedies and losses resulting from armed struggle in the past. The Muslims too must take note of this."

This interview came against the background of Muslim leaders demanding government protection after at least 28 deaths and disappearances of Muslims during the peace process. Much of the message is in the man saying it and his bloody record. The context would suggest to the ordinary reader the blessings of Europe and the Swiss government! This singular outcome comes against the US-led War on Terrorism.[Top]

The War on Terrorism and Sri Lanka

True:Although in general the war on terrorism as led by the US has tended to politically arm 'terrorist movements' rather than weaken them, in our context it has some impact on restraining the LTTE from embarking on war, as they had regularly done earlier. However, it could not restrain them from terrorising the community locally and carrying out their agenda. That too because the UNP's appeasement policy, which was backed by the Norwegians, undermined even the small but significant degree of external pressure applied on the LTTE.

Conjecture: Substitute the term Sinhalese Nationalists With Sinhala Nation! The Sinhalese nationalists have on their part pounced on the War on Terrorism as their only platform to deal with the LTTE. Glossing over the inherent inconsistencies of the US-led war, they have harped on its ambivalence towards the LTTE. They leave world opinion unconvinced by trying to hide what the rest of the world knows - the long and harrowing history of state terrorism against the Tamils as, Also logically definable as unfortunate excesses in the process of a Sovereign Nation defending its Sovereign and Territorial Integrity regardless of what certain pockets of world opinion represent. - and shedding instead tears for the Tamil victims of LTTE terror. What about the Sinhala victims of LTTE Terror is there a fine line which divides the intensity of tears and who sheds them?

Conjecture and Untrue: Reliance on the lopsided US-led war on terrorism to deal with the LTTE in the absence of any local initiative to disarm it politically is doomed to failure. Neither is the US led war on terrorism lopsided nor is there any doubt that the LTTE will in fact be disarmed politically if they continue in their present image of outlawed, banned and wanted criminals!

Totally false and Unacceptable:Such an initiative must seek to disarm not just the LTTE, but also all ideologically narrow, violent and anti-democratic forces that are now coming to the fore. Many of them are offspring of the same forces that marginalized the minorities, while playing up the insecurity of the Sinhalese to keep themselves in power.This is bipartisan, biased cleverly concealed LTTE supportive Drivel. The Sinhala Nation has no insecurities about being in power, they are an unsurmountable and indefatigably powerful majority which will never be subjugated by a bunch of misguided directionless terrorists!

Partly True As An Alternative: Meanwhile, the peacemakers are relying on military parity as the sole rationale for peace. The Government of Sri Lanka and its Armed Forces have never been unprepared to defend its Territory and Integrity quoting the latest Defence Ministry Communique contary to some areas of belief but not a "Sole Rationale For Peace" based on "military parity" with the LTTE which is in fact disparity where the terrorists are the lesser entity and a misconception.

Absolute Conjecture Based on pro LTTE propaganda:They miss the point of the LTTE strategists' reliance on this peace process as the stepping-stone to Eelam, and the manipulation of Tamil civil society under the aegis of the same. This is in part a reflection of the impotency of Colombo-based civil society actors, who too have no strategy except to hope that the current global milieu would induce the LTTE to compromise. They have largely lost the ability to mobilize pressure from below-upwards to influence the different actors - in particular the UNP to build a constructive relationship with the opposition parties, especially with the PA, towards a real peace process that brings human rights concerns to the forefront. The so called 'Colombo based Civil Society Actors' appear to have greater potency and strategy than a compendium of myopic 'Frogs in the Well 'type analysts who have composed this mixed bag affront to the dignity of The Sovereign Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka! A strategy which has been often circumvented by the diatribe of expatriate diaspora and backbiting outcasts within who have unfortunately infiltered mainstream politics under the guise of pretended sincerities towards the Sinhala Community, who have now been greatly contended with most fortunately. As far as human rights are concerned, try convincing the LTTE whose human rights violations go unaccounted for and undocumented with a few exceptions such as Red Cross observations!

Resentment and an expression of disillusionment :Unable to do this, many have become mere fiddlers, playing to the Government's discordant orchestration of appeasement. Their camaraderie with the UNP and the cry by the JVP and other extremist forces to eradicate the LTTE militarily are the two sides of the same coin. Both show no concern for the ordinary Tamil people, whom they both crush. Both conspire to arm the LTTE politically, which plays on Tamil insecurity and claims to offer the only viable solution. Perhaps this type of championing, the Tamil community can do without as it would merely compund their woes.Had they accepted their real status as a minority within a compassionate majority their woes would probably have been lesser than the impositions of the LTTE who have forcibly subjugated some of them to their prurient idealogies where others reject them completely!

The rest of this document is deemable as very true and commendable but nevertheles full of hypotheses!

What of the People?

The people are intelligent enough to be cynical about the present peace process. Their hope against hope that the LTTE may be serious this time has faded and they cling now to the hope that the current state of non-war will last just a little longer.

For members of the Tamil community, the widely publicized issue of rehabilitating child soldiers is fast being overshadowed by the whole society facing a sort of LTTE conscription. From 1986, the LTTE has tried to impress on the people that their duty is to obey "the movement" without question and in effect to be cogs in its military machine. They will be assigned roles in the Orwellian world of Eelam, as fighters, bearers of fighters, publicists, demagogues, bureaucrats, or even human rights activists who are blind to what happens within.

Once such a regime is in force, there is no need to abduct children. They are simply there, conditioned and ripe for harvesting. The LTTE has no other vision for human society. Although this ordering of society has been implicit in the LTTE's propaganda for nearly 20 years, it has largely failed because the people had some room to manoeuvre or escape. However by increasingly atomizing society by advancing its terror, it has gone some way towards making the poorest sections bow to a fate of not being able to exercise guardianship over their own children. Protecting that right is an object of human rights activity, which this peace process is fast eroding.

When the International Community came in, the people did expect them minimally to ensure that human rights and democracy were enshrined in the process. When Sri Lankans see the International Community more interested in keeping up appearances with the LTTE, meekly accepting the shifting of goal posts and leaving the process a shambles with mere token protest, naturally their worst fears are aroused.

The motto of the LTTE "The thirst of the Tigers is the Motherland of Thamil Eelam" is still the slogan at rallies, Pongu Thamil events and other gatherings. But recently, they are, as it were, flagging a new cry: "The thirst of the Tigers is an Interim Administration". Many peace activists see it as proof that LTTE has changed its colours.

Those who vilified earlier calls for an interim administration by other Tamil groups, remonstrating that we need political rights and not interim solutions, are now very deliberately, even fearfully, avoiding any discussion of the core issues. Is this an inconsistency on the Tigers' part? No. Any one who follows developments on the ground knows there is no inconsistency.

The process allows the LTTE to be totally unaccountable. It permits the Tamils' "sole representatives" to continue their exercise of power through sheer violence, and to control and manipulate Tamil society. Hence the leadership's perception of interest in this process is to achieve their "goal" which is intertwined in form and content. Eelam, that is, in form, and absolute control of its polity in content. But the concomitant political developments in the South will further aggravate the already uncertain future confronting the Tamils. Unless the Norwegians and the international community see clearly to insist on meaningful accountability, by both the LTTE and UNP, the LTTE will drag the Tamils again into massive death, waving the mirage of Eelam as their banner.

One could feel how swiftly the shadows are closing in since the murder of Subathiran less than four months ago. An incident in Jaffna illustrates where things are going.

Since the beginning of the peace process a number of Colombo-based NGOs have been going to Jaffna with foreign speakers to hold discussions and seminars in places like the University of Jaffna, on topics like, federalism, political solutions, alternative models, reconciliation and challenges of peace around the world. These efforts were well meant and provided some life and discussion in an otherwise drab environment.

Recently, four young men accosted an intellectual who had been to one such seminar. They told him, "Annai, you mustn't go to these seminars". The man replied, " Why, I only sit and listen, I don't say anything". One of the young men shot back, "But you might speak to them afterwards in private!" This kind of intimidation is very effective against the background of political killings, which is part of their purpose. Unknown filibusterers have deliberately insulted some delegations from Colombo. Tamils in these delegations showing democratic tendencies receive special attention as suspected 'traitors'. The LTTE routinely claims that such actions come from the 'people', even when the dodgy behaviour of the hosts speaks otherwise.

One day the peacemakers will give up and leave. To defend their LTTE-centred appeasement and dismissive attitude towards other 'disruptive' interests, they will blame this or that 'extremist' group or the President. But that would be to confuse secondary with primary phenomena. It does not take much perceptiveness to discern that the UNP government's crudely opportunistic elevation of the LTTE was pregnant with tragedy. Truer words in this segmet were never spoken better! But What is your solution dear pundits?

World Council Of Sinhala Peers For LankaWeb

Quoted As an Appropriate Epitaph:

"A Peace Process is generally understood to involve progressive movement towards a stable order, based on broadly agreed principles which promote resolution of conflicts rather than their aggravation.Assessed by these very basic tokens the Process in Sri lanka was not about Peace.It was an exercise in public relations spearheaded by the Norwegian and Sri Lankan Governments that intentionally ignored clear signals that the LTTE was not operating in good faith.


 

 

 


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