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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2734

Tell the foreigners where to get off

By C.P.Kuruppu

To the majority of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims, the main aspect of the national crisis has been almost effectively dealt with. They see that the government having given the LTTE a taste of its own medicine is now in the process of restoring democracy is in the East and soon in the North too. All this will provide opportunities for new political faces to be seen in the two provinces. Even the old guard has accepted this reality.

According to the February 1 Sunday Times even several members of the Tamil National Alliance have broken their links with the Tigers. Three veteran TNA Parliamentarians including R. Sampanthan are re-establishing their positions in their original electoral bases in Trincomalee and Jaffna in a bid to revamp their party activities. Last week, Sampanthan told the Lankadeepa – sister paper of the S.Times – that the Tigers are not important. Does this not make it crystal clear where the LTTE stands now – both militarily and politically?

None of these politicians are today asking the government for a 'negotiated settlement' with the Tigers. But amazingly sections of the so-called international community are not willing to see reality. As usual they continue to cling on to the nonsensical idea of 'negotiations'. They are again coming in procession to advise the government. After Japanese Peace Envoy Akashi's visit it was reported that Britain too was planning to send an envoy to Sri Lanka to request the government declare a cease-fire. Other foreign governments also have issued communiqués advising how Sri Lanka should conduct herself.

They are turning a blind eye to the fact that successive governments from President J.R. Jayewardene to Mahinda Rajapaksa tried in vain to negotiate a reasonable political settlement with the LTTE but failed miserably. Prabhakaran succeeded in cheating every Sri Lankan Head of State except President Mahinda Rajapaksa. The LTTE Leader made his biggest blunder when he ordered his cadres to block water supply to farmers living in the downstream of Mavil Aaru in July 2006.

It turned out to be a watershed in the campaign against LTTE terrorism. Resistance to it however came not only from the Tigers but also from the local and foreign LTTE supporters, peace campaigners and self appointed opinion makers. Trotskyite leader Vasudeva Nanayakkara speaking on the SLBC said that the government should not have extended the military campaign beyond Marvil Aru and instead should have stopped army operations after restoring the water supply.

The world should at least now recognize the hard fact that it is a long time since Prabhakaran burnt his boats. Remember that former President Chandrika Kumaratunga once wanted the North and East to be given to him for 10 years. Before that he had turned his back on the Indo-Lanka Accord. Later he bit the hand that fed him by killing Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Then the LTTE killed President Premadasa who was duped into giving Tigers arms and ammunition to fight against the IPKF.

Subsequently Prabhakaran reduced Ranil Wickremesinghe's so-called ceasefire agreement to a mere scrap of paper by violating it an umpteen number of times. When the CFA was being signed LTTE Theoretician, the late Anton Balasingham said that the Tigers did not recognize Ranil Wickremesinghe as their Prime Minister, though it was he who wanted the CFA.

This farcical agreement only helped the LTTE to legitimize its hold on the North and East. It was a pathetic situation where in an island as small as ours two organizations – one a legitimate government and the other a illegal gang of terrorists – were imposing taxes and running law courts. Even more amazing was that the legitimate government was paying for the upkeep of schools, hospitals, banks, cooperatives and other public institutions in the terrorist-dominated area.

It was not the Sri Lankan State but the LTTE which always first backed out of peace talks giving flimsy excuses. It was the Tigers who always fired the first shots of the conflict in its different stages from July 1983 to July 2006.

When President Rajapaksa wanted to visit the Madhu Shrine he was told that he could not do so without the LTTE's permission. Would any Head of State with a sense of dignity and self-respect beg for permission from a bunch of terrorists to visit a part of his own country? Yet there were cowards and clowns who expected the President to do just that with the objective of 'power sharing.' What have these 'peace jokers' got to say now that the President is free to visit almost any part of the island with no one's permission?

But all this has apparently made some foreign meddlers very unhappy. It is in this context that Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa gave some sound advice to foreign media organizations and envoys.

The Secretary did not mince his words when he said that some diplomats, specially the German and Swiss ambassadors, and some news agencies were behaving irresponsibly. He made special reference to BBC Anchor Chris Morris for his partisan support to the LTTE terrorists from the 1990s and threatened to chase him out, if he continued to act irresponsibly.

Why are the CNN, Al-Jazeera and specially BBC trying to sensationalize civilian hardships by telecasting video clips from LTTE websites? Does the Al Jazeera telecast video clips from Israeli websites to focus on Hamas terrorism? Do the CNN and BBC telecast video clips from Islamic websites to focus on U.S. Israeli and British human rights violations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Gaza? If these are not double standards what is?

Any post-conflict political mechanism that is to be set up in Sri Lanka has to equally serve the needs of all communities while fully recognizing the country's history, heritage and cultural roots. Any devolution of power should have nothing to do with ethnicity. Some inspiration for such a mechanism may be derived from the USA but not entirely since the centre should retain the power to dissolve any provincial council and bring it directly under President's rule if and when the need arises. The centre shall continue to have military and police powers.

- Asian Tribune -

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