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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2585

India, Norway and international community retreating under LTTE violence

By H. L. D. Mahindapala

H.L.D.MahindapalaH.L.D.MahindapalaAfter sabotaging the Norway-sponsored talks in Oslo the LTTE waited till its delegation led by S. P. Tamilselvan returned to Killinochchi to launch its latest attack that killed and wounded a bus load of Sinhalese passengers yesterday morning in Kebbitigollawa. Latest bulletins reveal that 64 passengers were killed, including a Buddhist monk and eight school children. Analysts conclude that this is a clear signal of the LTTE intensifying its undeclared war.

The Sri Lankan Air Force retaliated by hitting LTTE targets in Killinochchi – the headquarters of the LTTE military machine. Pro-LTTE websites said that people in the area are fleeing.

Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe said that this was the worst single act of violence since the government and Tamil Tiger rebels signed a cease-fire in 2002. The Kebbitigollawa mass murder has renewed fears of a return to war, according to analysts. President Mahinda Rajapakse visited Kebbitigollawa to offer his condolences and to visit the injured in the hospital. The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) immediately informed the international community of the attack on unarmed civilians by the LTTE. Japan and Swedish embassies have condemned the brutal attack on civilians.

Predictably, the LTTE disowned responsibility and blamed it first on the para-militaries. Later they blamed the GoSL. The LTTE has never owned responsibility for its crimes against humanity or war crimes, starting from the killing of Rajiv Gandhi, India’s former prime minister.

Analysts agree that the denials issued by the LTTE have lost credibility. LTTE even denies responsibility for their suicide bombers – a technology available only to the LTTE. Analysts noted that the common practice of the LTTE has been to gloat over their killings in private and condemn them in public.

With the latest attack on civilians in Kebbitigollawa, Sri Lanka is now teetering on the brink of the war – the war which, according to Velupillai Prabhakaran, was postponed when the devastating tsunami hit the east. After stabbing Tiger-friendly Ranil Wickremesinghe in the back in the last presidential election Prabhakaran hailed the new President Mahinda Rajapakse as “a pragmatic” leader and pledged to give him time to initiate negotiations. But reneging on its promises the LTTE launched a stealthy war which has led to over 700 deaths since the LTTE helped to defeat their “friend” Wickremesinghe.

Yesterday’s Kebbitigollawa massacre and the retaliatory raids on Killinochci have raised fears of an imminent war. "If they are attacking Kilinochchi, they are showing they are ready for war," head of the Tiger peace secretariat S. Puleedevan told Reuters.
Assessing the uncontrolled LTTE violence sliding into another war, the University Teachers for Human Rights, (Jaffna), the independent human rights organisation, states in its report issued today: “The LTTE has already started a war without acknowledging it to the international community. The security forces and civilians are daily facing casualties. The former are angry and have weapons and the institutional means to do things and cover up; the latter are helpless….”

“Today, when we badly need some forceful international intervention to bring back a measure of sanity, we are being told that Sri Lankans must decide…… Having brought us to this point the international community cannot in fairness say that it is now up to us. We need intervention to restore the value of life, some means to check the violations of the State at least as the first step. Both the UN Special Rapporteur and the Human Rights Commission's Special Rapporteur who have studied the problem have made valuable recommendations in this regard. Things are not yet anything like as bad as they quickly became after the spate of massacres and counter massacres from December 1984. But the signals are there, where in a number of instances ethnicity has identified a person as a legitimate target,” said the UTHR report. (UTHR Information Bulletin 40 – June 15, 2006, http://www.uthr.org/bulletins/bul40.htm)

Despite all the visible signs of LTTE activating its war postponed by the tsunami (as confessed by Velupillai Prabhakaran) neither the international community nor India, the sleeping giant, has taken any meaningful action to restrain the LTTE. The Kebittigollawe massacre today confirms that the belated action of the EU to ban the LTTE has had no impact. It sends an explosive message to both India and the international community to go beyond soothing words into more meaningful action.

The Kebittigollawe massacre is the latest calculated strike by the LTTE to provoke a communal backlash and blame the consequences of a large scale bloodbath and refugees running to India on the Sri Lankan government. Pro-LTTE Tamil websites are full of civilians – men, women and children in civilian clothes – being readied for the next war. This is seen as the latest tactic to accuse the Sri Lankan Forces of killing civilians when the war breaks out.

After breast-feeding the infant Tamil terrorists on Indian soil, the current inaction of the moralistic Nehruvian India is unacceptable and reprehensible. Apart from other negative domestic factors, this blind spot in Indian foreign policy is driving Sri Lanka into the hands of India’s regional rivals – Pakistan and China. No one is to be blamed for this except the myopic heads in Delhi who lacks the political will to wear a pair of clean spectacles to improve their vision. The impact of a destabilized region on India’s advancing economy too has not been assessed critically by the Indian panjandrums. India paid heavily for arming, encouraging, financing and protecting the Tamil Tiger terrorists. India cannot afford to sit with its legs crossed now, pretending to be the holy policeman of the Indian Ocean, while Sri Lankan is hijacked by the destabilizing forces it created for its narrow and piqued self-interests.

Nor can the international community in the West which succored Tamil Tigers by turning a blind to the agents of terrorism collecting funds to finance the killing machine of the LTTE. The Tigers would not have had the military capability it has now if the Western nations – including Norway – went beyond mere words to act firmly on its commitments to UN Security Council Resolution 1373, at least. Besides, the international community, led by Norway, guaranteed a safety net to the war-weary people of Sri Lanka when Erik Solheim, the LTTE-friendly facilitator, came out of Oslo in 2002 waving the Ceasefire Agreement as the panacea to the Sri Lankan crisis.

When much-vaunted international formula for peace led by Norway has crumbled under its own mismanagement and partisan roles it has decided to back off saying that it is up to Sri Lanka to find a solution. If it succeeded they would have crowed from roof tops about the skills, expertise and ability of Western facilitators/negotiators to lift the natives from their violent quagmires into havens of peace. When they fail they pass the buck to the natives asking them settle it among themselves. Western agents in the NGOs who went along with the LTTE putting the blame on the Sri Lankan government too are dumb-struck today.

Both India and the international community have played key roles in exacerbating the Sri Lankan crisis, partly by strengthening the military capability of the LTTE and partly by giving it maximum diplomatic and political immunity to go on the rampage. The pro-LTTE NGOs too aided and abetted the LTTE by either covering up their crimes against humanity, or pussyfooting around the mono-ethnic extremism of the LTTE politics. With unwarranted optimism they relied on the myth that the LTTE could be reformed if it was mollycoddled. LTTE, for its part, relied on Norway, its passive partner in the crime of tearing up of the Ceasefire Agreement, to pull them out of international pressures and opprobrium. Norway went along with the LTTE all the way up until the other day when the Tigers not only decided to plunge the knife into Erik Solheim’s back but also give it another wounding twist. Squealing in pain the Norwegians are now blaming everybody except themselves.

It has taken all this time from 2000 for Norway to realize that it has been led up the garden path by the LTTE. They are not alone in this. Everyone who has got close the hell fires of the LTTE never came out unscathed. India was the first to get burnt. Both deserve the contempt shown by the LTTE who continues to thumb their noses at the so-called big powers of the world. The LTTE acts brazenly based on the Vanni judgment that neither India, the mother of the current Sri Lankan crisis, nor the international community, the father that fed them arms and ammunition, will go beyond wishy-washy statements. With paper missiles thrown at them the LTTE has nothing to fear. The cheeky arrogance of the LTTE presents a test case for India and the international community to prove that they have the power to tame terrorism.

Anything short of this will be a failure with disastrous consequences to both, particularly to India with another Kashmir in its southern flank. Apart from sending reverberating and destabilizing waves of separatism sweeping across the sub-continent India will find Sri Lanka emerging as a base for its regional rivals to undermine its authority of India as a super power in region. India may be able to contain any separatist tendencies within its borders. But if it regional rivals get a grip on Sri Lanka India can kiss goodbye to its assumed superiority in the region. Besides, India will never be able to appease both parties in a divided Sri Lanka. One or the other will align itself with its rivals on the Maoist principle that my enemy’s enemy is my friend. It is India’s interest to decide now – before it’s too late – as to whether it wants the whole of Sri Lanka or only a part of it. It just can’t keep playing with both sides.

But, in the meantime, as the LTTE heats up its violence the primary issue will be: who is going to save the helpless victims of Tamil Tiger terrorists banned by India and the international community? If India wants to save the Tamils then Indian hypocrisy must give way to the grim realities facing the region as a whole.

India knows that more Tamils have been victimised, killed and tortured by the LTTE than any other force, including the Indian Peace Keeping Force. If the international community places a high value on human rights, regional stability and peace then it can’t lie back supinely on its press releases.

The times has come act -- and the time is now.

But at this stage what can India and the international community do jointly or severally?

There are three major steps that both can take to de-escalate violence and send a clear signal to the LTTE to abandon its violence and negotiate genuinely for peace: 1) throw a naval cordon round the northern and eastern coast of Sri Lanka to monitor and block LTTE shipping of illegal arms and 2) initiate action to indict Velupillai Prabhakaran before an ad hoc international criminal court of justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes and 3) activate effectively its criminal codes to empower legal and administrative authorities to track down and inhibit LTTE terrorist operations in each banned country.

None of these actions will involve sending body bags home. It is clean, safe, and within the realm of international law. It is also the least expensive strategy to send a message not only to Prabhakaran but to the global terrorist basking in the glory of each others victories.

Terrorism is a global phenomenon and if the global community does not act with the required political will then it wittingly leaves the space wide open for the terrorists to win.

- Asian Tribune -

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