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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2956

'No peace possible until Prabhakaran dies'

By Janaka Perera - Reporting from Colombo

Colombo, 21 October, (Asian Summing up his views on the tremendous economic cost of LTTE terrorism at the concluding sessions of the three-day International Conference on Countering Terrorism: A Challenge to Democratically Elected Governments" at the BMICH, Colombo on October 20, Dr. Saman Kelegama, Executive Director, Institute of Policy Studies said that no matter what the adverse socio-economic impact was, peace with the Tigers at any cost had to be definitely ruled out.

Drawing attention to the 2002 ceasefire Dr. Kelegama observed that the LTTE did not welcome the idea of people benefiting from economic dividends in a peacetime environment. It was eroding the Tigers' power base. This was the reason for their repeated violations of the truce, eventually leading to the resumption of fighting to "liberate" the Tamils.

Consequently the people in the North and East have been forced to bear the brunt of this so-called liberation war causing them to suffer far more than those in any other part of the country. At no other time in the post-independence era before 1983 had Tamils suffered so much.

General V. P. Malik former Indian Army Chief of Staff in his concluding remarks said that "terrorists are like mad dogs" and "bite the hand that feeds them." Calling for a united effort by SAARC countries to deal with the menace the General said that present time was most conducive to establish a regional counter-terrorism centre.

On the possibility of peace with the LTTE, Minister Douglas Devananda remarked that his experience with the Tigers has strongly convinced him that such a goal can never be realized as long as Prabhakaran is alive.

He recalled how the LTTE shot dead an EPDP member Sivakumaran in front of his five year old daughter and told the child to tell her mother that the farther was dead.

Minister Douglas Devananda further said”

“The LTTE has done more damages to the cause of the Sri Lankan Tamils than any other player. The LTTE has sabotaged every attempt to a reasonable political solution to the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka. The sole aim of the LTTE is the establishment of a one-party fascist regime by the name ‘Tamil Eelam’ in the North-East of Sri Lanka.

“LTTE has hijacked the Tamil cause with its gun totting terror tactics. It is an organization with fascist tendency. Its only aim is to establish a fascist regime in the North and East of Sri Lanka. Due to its fascist leaning, it has made a self-proclamation as the sole representative of the Tamils. To maintain the status-quo of the sole representation, it has eliminated all the democratic Tamil leaders or subjugated their parties through their terror tactics.

“To name a few Tamil leaders, brutally murdered by the LTTE are, A. Amirthalingam MP and Tamil National Leader, V.Yogeswaran MP, A.Thangathurai MP, Mrs. Sarojini Yogeswaran Mayor Jaffna , Dr.Neelan Tiruchelvam MP and S. Sivapalan of Tamil United Liberation Front the TULF Mayor Jaffna , Kumar Ponnambalam of the All Ceylon Tamil Congress the ACTC, Sri Sabaratnam Leader of the TELO, K. Padmanabha Leader of EPRLF, Sam Tambimuttu MP and his wife Kala Tambimuttu of the EPRLF. The leaders who succeeded them were cowed down and compelled to be subservient to LTTE. To place on record, in the four decades of confrontation, not a single Tamil leader has been murdered by the Sri Lankan security forces.

“There are only a handful of democratic Tamil leaders who have still escaped the LTTE death trap, I am one amongst them. The LTTE made several attempts on my life. In October 1995, the LTTE attempted to kill me by attacking my residence in which 4 of my members paid the supreme sacrifice. During another attempt on my life at the Kalutara prison in June 1998, I lost the sight in one of my eyes. In July 2004, I survived another suicide attempt on my life when a LTTE female suicide bomber tried to walk into my Ministry Office, which resulted in the death of four police personnel and injuring many.

“LTTE’s reign of terror extended its tentacles to our neighbouring Indian soil and globally as well. In the Indian soil, they killed former Prime Minister of India Shri Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan Tamil leaders. They murdered those who opposed them in the European countries. For example, T. Sabalingam, one of the founder member of the Tamil militant movement in Sri Lanka, was murdered in France. They extort money from the expatriate Tamils by threatening that their kith and kin, living in Sri Lanka will have to face the consequences, if they do not meet their demand.

They also assassinated President Premadasa, foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar and attempted on the life of President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, who as a result, lost her sight in one eye. With both of them, the LTTE previously had peace deals.”

TULF Leader V. Anandasangaree, addressing those present on the subject of Transforming Terrorists: Lessons for Sri Lanka, said:

"Repeated initiatives taken by me to bring the LTTE back to the negotiating table failed. I tried to persuade him (Prabhakaran), pleaded with him and even warned him, bit nothing could change his mind. Had he listened to me the entire LTTE cadre would have been transformed by this time and the country would be enjoying full peace, with a solution found. The LTTE did not show any sign of agreeing for a reasonable solution as an alternative to separation. They keep on maintaining through the pro-LTTE media their commitment to a separate state. They were also claiming themselves as the sole-representatives of the Tamil people and therefore have the exclusive right to speak on their behalf. I was the first person in my country to reject the claim of the LTTE that they are the sole representatives of the Tamils. The LTTE got upset over my rejection of their claim."

Secretary of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Palitha Kohona delivering the vote-of-thanks repeated the unprecedented challenge Sri Lanka faces in combating terrorism and Sri Lanka. He said the world had focused on international terrorism only after 9/11 but terrorism had affected countries long before then. He emphasized that "the international rule of law against terrorism is being strong themed each year," adding that "there are 13 UN Conventions addressing different dimensions of the global terrorist threat and a comprehensive convention is being negotiated." The Foreign Secretary pointed out that "terrorism will never be eradicated solely by cooperation among law enforcement officials. It requires a concerted political effort and policy coordination among countries. Further it also requires an ability to understand and minimize the motivation and impetus that inspire terrorist acts."

In his wrap up statement, Foreign Affairs Ministry Secretary Palitha Kohona said that the world had expressed its abhorrence of terrorism through 13 UN Conventions, many of which have received the approval of the majority of the international community. There is no doubt, he said, that all right thinking persons in the world condemn brutal terrorism wherever it occurs, whatever its form and whichever its goals.

He further said: "The Government of Sri Lanka, as a democratically elected and responsible entity has decided that it will confront terrorism resolutely."

Given below the full text of the wrap up statement by Dr. Palitha Kohona, Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs:

Minister of Foreign Affairs,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is my responsibility now to Chair the final session of this conference which has lasted two days. We have had some eminent persons from around the world addressing us on the topic of terrorism and its impact on democracies.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The presentations we have had have contributed enormously to our knowledge on this subject. We have heard excellent presentations on a range of topics on international and regional responses to terrorism, terrorists networks and financing, its domestic dimensions, the role of the media, its socio-economic costs and the question of transforming terrorists. We are confirmed in our view that the world is with us as we stand up to the scourge of terrorism. In the modern world terrorism has no utility, as a means of expressing a political philosophy or realising a political goal. In fact it is doubtful whether it ever had! The world has expressed its abhorrence of terrorism through 13 Conventions of the United Nations. Many of which have received the approval of the majority of the international community. The world has expressed itself through the decisions of the UN Security Council which has adopted a series of binding decisions. There is no doubt that all right thinking persons in the world condemn brutal terrorism wherever it occurs, whatever its form and whichever its goals. There can be no justification in seeking a political goal through masses of shattered bodies, destroyed lives and the tears of weeping children.

It was evident from the discussion which occurred over the last two days that Sri Lanka has taken a firm position with regard to terrorism consistent with the attitudes of other countries which have suffered from terrorism. Democracies of the world have stood firm against this menace. The Government of Sri Lanka, as a democratically elected and responsible entity has decided that it will confront terrorism resolutely. Accordingly the Government of Sri Lanka has taken measures, not only domestically but also internationally to counter this threat. Domestically the country’s security forces have reacted effectively to the violence unleashed by the LTTE and has succeeded in rolling back the threat. While the entire Eastern Province and the area south of Mannar has been relieved of LTTE control, the Navy has succeeded in destroying LTTE ships carrying weapons. In this activity, intelligence sharing among the relevant countries has been a significant element. Internationally, Sri Lanka has worked with its friends in many parts of the globe to deal with this scourge.

As we all are aware, the LTTE has been banned in most of the democracies in the world and the Government of Sri Lanka has worked with its friends overseas to achieve this goal.

Increasingly, pressure has been brought upon the LTTE to constrain its fund raising activities in foreign countries. As you are aware, many Western countries have launched comprehensive legal actions against the LTTE fund raising efforts and its front organisations and sympathizers. Most recently legal action has been launched in New York against a massive operation involving credit card fraud by supporters of the LTTE. Similar actions have been taken in countries as far apart as the United Kingdom and Australia. In parallel, the Sri Lankan Government has also concluded a range of arrangements with countries in the region with the view to restricting the money laundering and arms procurement activities of the LTTE and its sympathizers. It is significant that most of these arrangements were concluded within the last 12 months. The Government’s efforts have been reflected in initiatives within SAARC and at the UN.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sri Lanka also takes the view that a problem of this nature cannot be resolved purely by military means. While military efforts are important to convince the LTTE that for them there will be no victory on the battle field, it is also important that additional measures are taken to address the concerns of the minorities, in particular the Tamil minority. With this in mind, the Government of Sri Lanka has launched the All Party Process to develop constitutional proposals to address these concerns. These proposals are expected within weeks. Sri Lanka is a democracy and as we all know, fundamental changes do not happen in a hurry in democracies. It is important to ensure substantial support for the proposals rather than rush ahead with no certainty of the ability to deliver. In addition, practical measures are being taken to address the economic concerns of all our people. The re-development and reconstruction programme that has been launched in the Eastern Province from where the LTTE was evicted will be a model in this respect. Our hope is that as a result of rebuilding the East, the economic incentive for youth to resort to arms will be removed. Measures are also being taken to locate Tamil speaking officers in Government offices so that Tamil speakers can conduct their business in their own language. Steps have been initiated to make Sri Lankan public servants truly bilingual. A large number of Tamil speaking persons have been recruited to the Police force in the Eastern Province. Our goal is that the conflict will be resolved in an honourable and sustainable manner. The fact that 54% of Sri Lankan Tamils have opted to live outside the so-called homeland among the majority Sinhala people is an eloquent statement by itself.

"Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sri Lanka has experienced terrorism for the last 25 or more years. Terrorism has affected many countries of the democratic world. The United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, India, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan are among the most prominent. We share the pain and the determination to deal with this problem resolutely. As mentioned before, we will also take steps in parallel to deal with this scourge economically and socially as well. There is no reason to leave this problem for yet another generation to suffer. It is our duty to deal with it now and resolve it today.

"I am certain that you all will join me in thanking the speakers all of whom enlightened us in different ways."

"Some of those who attended the conference on all three days expressed their concern over certain media channels that today (Oct. 20) had tried to virtually mislead their audiences by indirectly giving the erroneous impression that the main focus of the conference was on peace and reaching an understanding with the LTTE rather than countering terrorism. It appears that French Judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere's observations had been deliberately misinterpreted in this connection.

- Asian Tribune -

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