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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2964

Sri Lanka - LTTE Talks: LTTE Saber rattling will appease the Tamil Diaspora

By Raj Gonsalkorale

The LTTE delegation that is now in Geneva has said they will take the opportunity to expose Sri Lankan government atrocities and the suffering caused as a result to the Tamil people in affected areas of the North East of the country. No doubt this will enlighten the hearts and minds of the Tamil Diaspora and also open their wallets to keep the LTTE well funded to continue what the Sri Lankan government is bound to say are LTTE atrocities against their own people.

This saber rattling will not help the innocent people in the war torn areas. The sooner the LTTE realizes this and sits down to talk some serious business about creating conducive conditions for a peaceful outcome to this conflict, the better it will be for the people they claim to represent and are fighting for.

The LTTE and their financial backers, primarily the Tamil Diaspora, must realize that the only way to achieve a solution is to engage with the Sri Lankan government irrespective of whether they like them or hate them, as there is no other way to end this conflict.

The fact that the Sri Lankan government has signed an MOU with the main opposition party, the UNP, gives an impetus towards working out a solution, a situation that has been presented for the first time in the history of this conflict. While the Tamil political parties in Sri Lanka with the exception of the LTTE front, the Tamil National Alliance, have stated very firmly and unequivocally that they are for a peaceful outcome to this conflict through a political solution based on a Federal model, only the LTTE and the Tamil Diaspora has stood in the way of finding a solution through their continuance of the armed conflict, and strident ambit claims for a political solution.

If the genuine aim of the LTTE and the Tamil Diaspora is to have a peaceful resolution to this conflict through a political solution, they should accept the realities that are evident today and desist from making ambit claims that the Southern polity simply cannot and will not agree to.

They must realize that they are meeting a Sri Lanka government that is committed to a peaceful outcome to this conflict, who are willing to take forceful action to defend the people of the country when they are attacked, a President and a government that is willing to take political initiatives for the sake of the country that were unthinkable in the past and a government that has, for the first time recognized that there are other Tamil parties and groups that have to be engaged and that the LTTE has no exclusivity when it comes to representing the Tamils of Sri Lanka.

The LTTE must also accept the “Karuna” factor, again, whether they like it or not, and the fact that the Eastern province Tamils are not necessarily part of the LTTE equation any longer.

These realities perhaps have entered the minds of many people, Tamils as well as Sinhalese and Muslims. It is evident from comments in many newspapers, other media outlets and web based journals, that there is an increasing number of Tamil individuals and groups who are openly critical of the LTTE methods and also of the attitude of sections of the Tamil Diaspora who still appear to support the views that the LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamil people.

While there is no doubt that the LTTE does have a special place in the hearts and minds of many Tamil people, some out of conviction and others out of fear, it has to be recognized that there are others who do represent Tamil views and who have joined the democratic political process to find a solution. Rightly, many Tamils will argue that the reason for the emergence of the LTTE is the failure of such political processes in the past. Rather than travel the beaten track and argue whether this is so or not, it is perhaps more practical to consider the circumstances then and now and view the opportunity that has presented it today within the current circumstances and look towards the future and not the past.

On the side that views the LTTE favorably, one can say that they along with the Tamil Diaspora, more than any other group has been responsible for placing the Tamil issue in the international agenda as it appears today. One can also say that this has been achieved largely through a mix of able military battles as well as through very violent and despicable methods such as suicide bombing and employment of child soldiers. Needless to say, no decent, democratically elected government could have, or should have, resorted to such means to work towards achieving an end, and in this sense, the LTTE has had an advantage over successive Sri Lankan governments as one did not respect humanity and the other did.

The opportunity that is there today to end this conflict certainly applies to the Sri Lankan government and the Southern polity in general as much as it applies to the LTTE, the Tamil Diaspora and Tamil political parties. Whatever the reasons for past failures to find an amicable settlement with the Tamil people of Sri Lanka, the fact remains that the Southern polity failed in their endeavors, and as suspected by many, due to their not being serious about finding a solution. The opportunity available today may very well be the last before violence erupts again with a greater vengeance, protracting this issue further and hardening attitudes.

The Sri Lankan government, strengthened with the MOU signed with the UNP, should make a very serious attempt to pave the way for a fair and just solution to this conflict and announce, at least, the basic principles for a political solution at these talks. If this is done, there will be some confidence amongst everyone who is waiting for a peaceful solution that finally, there is a ray of hope for the innocent people suffering in the affected areas in the North and East of Sri Lanka. If it is not done, none could be blamed if skepticism and suspicion persists and increases to the point that those who supported the LTTE out of fear will do so henceforth out of conviction.

Much has been written by various analysts on what the two protagonists should do and should not do during these talks. Many people and organizations have proposed solutions ranging from extreme positions to reasonably moderate positions. The common thread in all this is that no one has advocated the continuance of the violence. The climate for peace is therefore overwhelming, and one can only hope it is overwhelming enough to contain the LTTE and make them realize that their violent path can be given up for a resolution of the conflict by peaceful means.

On the part of the Sri Lankan government and the Southern polity, they have the responsibility to have something on the table that Tamils in general could say is an alternative to the violent methods employed by the LTTE, something worth discussing, and which could be used to pressurize the LTTE to give up violence and join the political mainstream.

It certainly will take two to tango.

- Asian Tribune -

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