Courtesy: The Island Editorial - 02/08/04

The gross betrayal is on?

While Sri Lanka’s political leaders and the ‘international community’ are crying aloud for peace and resumption of talks with the LTTE, the LTTE continues with their murder sprees.

Eight drugged persons were shot dead while asleep at Kottawa last week but neither the government nor the international community dare accuse the murderers, the LTTE, even though every Sri Lankan knows it has been on the orders of the man who is to be the kingpin of an interim administration that is expected to bring about peace. On Saturday another alleged informant of the government, a Tamil, was shot dead in a busy street in Colombo. But who dares name the killers? It will harm the peace process we are told! When will such ghastly slaughter of human beings come to a stop? That is anybody’s guess.

Meanwhile, our President Chandrika Kumaratunga has pledged along with leaders of six Asian nations at Bangkok to fight terrorism. For twenty years, we Sri Lankans have been treated to peace talks, signing of anti-terrorist treaties and conventions, pledging ourselves to the Global War on Terrorism but Sri Lankan blood is being spilt every day despite these hosannas and commitment to anti-terrorist pledges.

Do the Americans, British and other western powers and their allies who have sent their soldiers to Iraq to fight terrorism sincerely care about the carnage caused by terrorists in this island for 20 years? Do they shed tears when Sri Lankan innocents are killed? Do they not despise the well identified killers as they despise the killers of their people like bin Laden? Or are we Sri Lankans pawns in a great global game they are playing?

As predicted by The Island last week, the SLFP appears to be doing a hideous somersault on peace negotiations. President Chandrika Kumaratunga after staging a Joan d’Arc posture of saving the nation from LTTE terrorism, destroying the UNF government and apparently taken the entire nation for a ride, now appears to be prepared to negotiate with the LTTE on their terms for an Interim Self Governing Authority. If she does so, it will be the greatest betrayal of the people, both Sinhalese and Tamil.

Instead of mouthing platitudes on curbing international terrorism in Bangkok she might as well have stayed at home and declared whether she had caved into the demand of the terrorists or not.

The Island is opposing this LTTE proposal not because it comes from the despicable terrorist group but because it is the framework for the division of the country. Let President Kumaratunga and her Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgama refresh their minds on what they said about these proposals when they were released in November last year.

They said:

* The ISGA proposals are the legal foundation for a future separate, sovereign state.

* The SLFP welcomes and supports the position of the Government of India that any interim administration should be an integral part of the final settlement and be in the framework of the unity and integrity of Sri Lanka. [This is in contrast to the LTTE demand to negotiate only on the ISGA proposals.]

* The SLFP will never be a party to robbing the people of Sri Lanka of their sovereignty. It will not allow any international consortium or ‘safety net’ in the name of a spurious, unjust peace to foist on the people of Sri Lanka any extra constitutional arrangement that is not acceptable to all the people of Sri Lanka.

* The ISGA seeks plenary powers for the governance of the North-East—which are absolute and unqualified powers including in security and defence.

* There is no reference whatsoever to parliament in the proposals.

* Powers to control marine and off-shore resources of adjacent seas.

The SLFP detailed other provisions of the ISGA that would lead to the creation of a separate state.

Now it appears that under foreign influence, the SLFP is caving in.

The attitude of the donor nations seems to be that ‘negotiations must commence, not matter what’. This is indeed a peculiar position for nations that profess to be friends of Sri Lanka to take. It is quite obvious that no Government of Sri Lanka can give into these ISGA proposals. There also appears to be a noticeable shift in the attitude of the US government. Perhaps this is due to influence of their trusted Norwegian friends who appear to have a fixation on LTTE terrorists.

It could be argued that the demands are negotiable but those who know the LTTE, know it best. Already in the Vanni their infrastructure is in place and nothing short of military conquest can remove them. When this proposed infrastructure is put in place for the entire north and east which will apply to Sinhalese and Tamil and Muslim communities, only those incorrigible optimists of the West will believe that they can be made to act in accordance with the wishes of the people.

The donor nations are in a great hurry to begin negotiations to reach a settlement. So is the rest of the country but we cannot jeopardise the long-term interests of the nation.

With some UNP MPs openly supporting the ISGA proposals—probably in the hope of setting a trap for the government—only the JVP and the monks of the JHU seem to be the bulwark to prevent this calamity.

The UPFA government received a mandate against the ISGA proposals and it will be a gross betrayal of their supporters to back it behind their backs.

Courtesy: The Island Editorial - 02/08/04



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