By Shyamon Jayasinghe, Melbourne

Whether Revd. Athureliye Rathana’s raid of the donors conference and the stirring speech he made there was atypical of the rest of the JHU establishment in parliament or whether it was just Revd. Athureliye representing himself one cannot say. Be that as it may, friend or foe must admit that the priest’s performance was astonishingly brilliant. Above all, it was the fulfilment of a long-felt need among the silent suffering Sinhalese majority who had been systematically made to feel denuded, barren, and utterly submissive before the smartly orchestrated LTTE campaign of twenty years duration. Here was a leader of the Sinhalese majority who just stood up and put the picture right. The beauty was that there was no majoritarianism in the speech; no racism.

The monk’s message: You (donors) are trying to buy our obedience into an intolerable and unjust situation. Probably complexities were not reflected. Complexities there should be. If not why did a Sinhalese- majority UNP accept the idea of the JM without condition? In addition, why did president CBK who campaigned against the UNF on the score that the latter gave in to the LTTE herself give in to the LTTE? The passion of Revd Athureliye is partly explained by his non-exposure to the diplomatic and economic complexities involved. However, here again the UNP leader and the UPFA leader are guilty of not communicating with the people and explaining the complexities involved and convincing the people that government would put in place a controlling mechanism to ensure that the LTTE is not allowed to abuse a JM.

In a sense, a JM itself is one approach to enter into a confidence- building scenario with a long-standing enemy. May be Revd Athureliye had a shortfall in his address at the conference. He dwelled only on the cruel past of the LTTE. It can validly be argued that for the sake of peace the past is past. The point that should have been hammered with force is that the LTTTE’s track record does not give anyone confidence that the latter would abide by the niceties of a JM. The LTTE rhetoric is unapologetic. It still talks of an Eelam. It still kills. It refuses to down arms. The plain fact is that the LTTE is not willing to make any concession prior to entering a JM. All concessions are being made by the government. We saw this with the MOU when the LTTE openly and crudely violated that agreement a multiple times. What would prevent the LTTE using Tsunami funds to complete its military build-up? If a JM is to go through, an international force with executive power to act in the face of violations should solidly underwrite it. It should not be a mere monitoring unit. These are the things a government should do to market the JM among the people.

Obviously, the LTTE has sold its message to the donor countries. The government never showed any resolve to counter –sell. Kadirgama may have lost his motivation after he was denied the premiership. It would have been a smart thing to make him PM. The government let a great opportunity go by when Karuna broke off from Prabhakaran. That was a shame.

Amidst such despondent thoughts the foray of Revd. Athureliya came like voluptuous rain on barren soil. A nation seemed to have begun to stand up and get counted.



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