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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2733

Sri Lanka Conflict - Solutions Must be Realistic

By Jayantha de Silva

This note is with reference to Mr Gonsalkorale's article on the possibility of a change in the LTTE strategy following the fall of Thoppigala that appeared in the Asian Tribune on 14 July 2007.

The article is a refreshing change from the usual nonsense we hear about Sinhala chauvinists, discrimination and harassment and the like. However, as most writers (journalists?) who have "arrived" recently into this sphere, he too appears to have embraced the views propagated by LTTE propaganda. By ‘recently’, I include those who started writing as late as 15 years ago, particularly those who have not done any research to establish facts.

A statement in the article referring to the capture of Thoppigala, “suffering the forcible capture of Sri Lankan territory by an armed mob for years. This victory is bound to lift the spirits of all Sri Lankans who have seen their Armed Forces and their political leaders capitulating to the LTTE and their military strength and allowing them to take over more and more territory by force" requires comment. The territory that the LTTE now occupy in the North, and previously occupied in the East was never “captured" by them. It was given to them on a platter by a Prime Minister who naively thought the LTTE would, like the JVP before them, lay down their arms and enter national politics.

This Prime Minister, in an attempt to make political capital by cultivating the Tamil vote, committed a political faux pas of the highest magnitude. Had he asked the military for their opinion, he would have been told that his proposal would grant the guerillas one of their primary aims - total control over territory - territory that would not be monitored by the security forces. We have been suffering for the idiocy of this Prime Minister for the past five years, because, at the time he made this traitorous and totally unnecessary ‘grant’ to the terrorists, they were crumbling under the twin factors of a lack of both manpower and weaponry after the just-concluded offensives in the peninsula, and International pressure against all terrorists following the September 9/11 attack in New York.

The second statement that of the military "capitulating to the LTTE military strength" requires some toning down. While it is a fact that the security forces lost many battles, they in no way lost the war, in fact, on three separate occasions they were poised to destroy the LTTE completely, and on each of these occasions, the LTTE survived by suing for a ceasefire - which the politicians agreed to in order to (as before) curry the Tamil vote.

We must not also forget that the Indian Army (IPKF) was similarly poised to destroy the LTTE completely when they were asked by another politician who, at the instigation of the LTTE, asked them to stop operations and return to India. As a result, the World remembers only that the LTTE 'defeated' the Indian Army, the World's second largest armed force, and reckoned to be the fourth most powerful armed force in the World. The Indian armed forces are still smarting under this ignominy and will never forgive Sri Lanka for thwarting their operational plans.

How did the LTTE manage to pull their chestnuts out of the fire on each of these occasions? They did so by using their massive propaganda machine to bring pressure upon the various Sri Lanka governments through International organizations. This becomes easier to understand when one considers that the LTTE's entire foundation is based upon propaganda. In 1980, LTTE after having murdered all genuine Tamil politicians who were agitating for a Federal State, the LTTE realized that they have also killed any possibility of attaining a 'Homeland' through political means. They also found a shocking lack of evidence of any sort of harassment or discrimination of Tamils by previous governments. In fact, on the contrary, all past governments had bent over backwards to agree to Tamil demands in order to gain the favor of Tamil politicians. The Tamils were enjoying more rights and privileges than even the Sinhalese. The LTTE therefore set out to invent a reason for their demand for a Tamil Homeland by creating in the mindset of the International community an idea that the Sinhalese-led Governments had been discriminating against the Tamils and the security forces had been methodically carrying out genocide.

This they started in 1980 through the Tamil students in London and the help of a certain Tamil South Indian journalist. They created incidents to provoke the security forces to react and then videoed and photographed the reactions. They attacked outlying Sinhalese villages and butchered women and children, then photographed the gruesome remains and published them as Tamil villagers butchered by the security forces. The infamous 'Black Friday' in July 1983 following the ambush/murder of an administrative convoy of 13 soldiers was their first success. This led to a windfall for the LTTE as it led to the creation of the massive Tamil Diasporas that permitted them to further develop their propaganda machine. Provoke, incite, photograph, disseminate, and the International media, fresh from real State Terror in places line Sierra Leone and Central America, lapped it all up.

The reality is that before 1979, there was not one single incident of any anti-Tamil action by the security forces, and there has never been any discrimination by any government. The so-called 'Sinhala-only Act' of 1958 that is pulled out by every Tamil is a misnomer. It was the "Language Act', and it was against English being used as the official language, and had nothing to do with Tamil.

Consider also that despite the now Internationally acclaimed criminal activities of the LTTE, they still manage to portray themselves as "freedom fighters seeking a Homeland", as a persecuted minority and deserving the support of the International community to attain their long sought "homeland'. The LTTE now controls the Worlds largest criminal organization headed by one person. This is much larger and far deadlier than the even the Russian Mafia, because the LTTE criminal organization is controlled by one man. Its activities include kidnap for ransom, protection rackets, credit card scams, money laundering, human smuggling, drug trafficking and high seas piracy. These constitute the known tip of their criminal empire. To this can be added gun running and forced conscription of children. They also have widespread investments in every first World country in real estate and family franchises purchased through LTTE funds and run by LTTE sympathizers. From where do they get the funds? Mainly from forced 'contributions' from the diasporas, estimated at about 700,000 from Sri Lanka alone (or 20,000 families), and as much as 20 million when all other Tamils living outside South India are included. A conservative estimate is roughly 100,000 families. If each family contributes (or else) $100 each month, it amounts to $10 million a month. Estimates are as high as $100 million each month.

If this so-called 'homeland' is ever created, few Tamils will want to live under Prabhakaran's autocratic rule. So who wants this homeland? The rest of the Tamils left in Sri Lanka, who are living among their Sinhalse, Muslim and Burgher friends will definitely not want anything to do with Prabhakaran.

This 'Homeland' is for Prabhakaran and his immediate cohorts, who want it very badly indeed, because they have nowhere else to go. They are all wanted by Interpol for various crimes and closer to home, by India for murdering one of its most-loved Prime Ministers.

The thinking now is that Prabhakaran wants a Mafia State, which will be the base for his International criminal enterprises, including high seas piracy and a base for his financial empire. This is no idle thinking when one considers the amount of money being earned each month. What then, is the future of the conflict as far as Sri Lanka is concerned?

Before you answer, consider the following incontrovertible facts. Firstly, negotiating a solution will never happen because Prabhakaran cannot and will not negotiate, because he cannot accept anything other than an autonomous state and Sri Lanka will never concede to dividing Sri Lanka. secondly, a "just and equitable solution' must consider the justness of the LTTE demands, which are patently unjustified, particularly when one considers that they are based on invented propaganda and not on any facts, and that before 1975, the call for a Tamil Federal State was nothing but a political carrot that was restricted to Tamil politicians to be pulled out during elections and quickly forgotten, and that the Tamil public are even now more than happy to live among their Sinhalese peers.

Also consider that while Sri Lanka had 2 million Tamils in 1983, 700,00 have emigrated to western countries (UN figures) and an unknown number have returned to South India. Of the remaining 1.2 million Tamils, about 200,000 remain in the North and East, and the rest are in the government controlled areas. The LTTE number around 7000 to 8000. Do these numbers justify any sort of Tamil Homeland? Particularly when it is a given that none of the Tamils in the government controlled areas will ever go under Prabhakaran's control, and that every Tamil now in the LTTE controlled areas other than the 8000 LTTE cadre will immediately cross-over to government controlled areas if given the slightest opportunity.

Finally, consider that the roots of every single Tamil in Sri Lanka is in Tamil Nadu, whether they came as mercenaries 600 years ago or illicit immigrants during the past 300 years or as plantation slaves 200 years ago. While they have been living amicably with the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka all these centuries, and are, in fact, citizens of Sri Lanka, if they do require a place to call their home, should they not go back to Tamil Nadu (which means "Land of the Tamils"), which already has a Tamil government, Tamil culture, Tamil language and everything else they want, rather than dying and suffering and causing all sorts of grief to both Sinhalese and Tamils by fighting for another 'Homeland' that is impossible to create?

When people write about solutions to the current problem, they must consider the reality on the ground; ask what it is that the Tamil minority of 1.2 million want from the 18 million Sinhalese. The Tamil diasporas are never going to return to Sri Lanka. In fact, go a step further; the one million Tamils in the government controlled areas are never going to rush into any 'Homeland' under Prabhakaran. Prabhakaran and his immediate cohorts are totally unable to run any sort of administration except by decree and force of arms, as they were illiterate criminals or smugglers before they were hired as mercenaries by the Tamil politicians to wage a campaign of sabotage against the Sri Lankan government. So what type of 'Homeland' are we talking about?

Maximum devolution is a myth. The answer to the problem is to return to the type of mutual respect and coexistence that prevailed before 1975, the year in which the Tamil politicians, at the instigation of their dying leader, Chelvanayagam, decided to introduce a military dimension to their decades-long search for a federal state, and made the mistake of hiring the criminal and smuggling gangs in Jaffna to implement their decision, giving them political names. Gangs that turned round and murdered them, and were in turn disposed of by the LTTE.

The only solution for Sri Lanka is to chase the LTTE out of the country, let them carry on their criminal activities overseas, and let the innocent Tamils and Sinhalese return to their previous state of harmonious coexistence.

Face reality, think reality, and please don't talk of impossible solutions.

- Asian Tribune -

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