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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative > Road blocks to Peace Remain
Road blocks to peace remain
Batty Weerakoon, L.S.S.P
20 February 2003, Sri Lanka Island
"The most significant road block...is the inability or unwillingness of the government and the President, who also leads the main opposition in parliament, to act together in countering the LTTE in its tactics and strategies. The LTTE banks on the fact that these are parties that cannot work together on the ethnic problem. Each, in its turn when in the Opposition stymies the other in government from what course it takes to solving the problem and thereby keeps alive and active both Sinhala communalism and the LTTE..."
There is no question that the uneasy peace that has been achieved through the cease-fire MoU has to be taken forward and consolidated despite the difficulties that are encountered on the way. The difficulties are inevitable and arise from the fact that the monitored cease-fire is not an end in itself. It is an exercise that is expected to build confidence between the government and the LTTE — which on the larger screen is confidence and good faith between the Sinhala and Tamil people with it being made possible for the Muslims in the EP also to be able to feel that they are beneficiaries to an equal extent and are no mere pawns, in the game.
Early in the day the LSSP had foreseen the difficulties of carrying through the process that had been set out. On the one side successive governments in Sri Lanka need to function within a parliamentary set up in which communal forces have always acted most irresponsibly with even purportedly national political parties using the ‘black hundreds’ to disrupt all peace initiatives. On the other side is the LTTE which is a monolithic organisation that is wholly a military apparatus with its own political agenda. It is misleading to call it a guerilla organisation because what is characteristic of the latter — popular mobilisation — is not a virtue the LTTE possesses.
It is in this setting that the LSSP proposed at the very outset that there be set up a Parliamentary Select Committee under the Chairmanship of the Leader of the Opposition to oversee the cease-fire monitoring process. It also proposed to set up a national body that is representative of political parties and interest groups that accept the peace process. The latter was meant to promote a degree of transparency that could give the process the means to have the civil society of the south as actively involved as in the north and east.
The government appeared to think well of the proposals but failed to pursue them. This is as a result of the confidence the government’s top leadership showed in its belief that matters will finally will straighten out in accordance with a predetermined plan or strategy. We need no longer speculate on what the source of this confidence is. It has now revealed itself. In his address made a few days ago at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies on Sri Lanka’s prospects for peace Richard Armitage, US Deputy Secretary of State, has revealed the course the international community led by the USA has laid for our peace process.
It is one that leads to a preordained solution which is known to us as autonomy and is stated by Armitage in his restatement of it in LTTE terms as "internal self determination based on a federal structure within a united Sri Lanka." This in fact is no formulation which we owe to LTTE genius. It is an internationally respected solution for ethnic conflict in unitary states. Accepted as the stage beyond that is what is now called ‘external self determination’ which of course ends with separation. This latter is the ultimate consequence of intransigent chauvinist politics on the part of a dominant ethnic majority and is in no way a solution to a country’s ethnic problem. It is the division of a country under the aegis of the ‘international community’ as in Yugoslavia.
The US approach to the LTTE as expressed by Armitage is counter productive. Armitage sees the LTTE as a political agent that can renounce its terrorism at will and yet maintain itself as the hegemony in Tamil politics. This is wishful thinking and sets up quite innocently the most dangerous roadblock to peace. To satisfy Armitage on matters he looks for the LTTE has only to go through the motions of renouncing its terrorism. The next one year or two is likely to be spent on this whilst all the time it is engaged in the clandestine activity of strengthening itself militarily for the advanced stage of the struggle which will be on the grounds that the ‘Sinhala nation’ or State is unwilling or is in no position to grant to the Tamil people the right of ‘internal self determination’. It is most likely that in such a situation the ‘international community’ which is now possessed of our problem will have no alternative to accepting that the LTTE struggle for separation is justified.
The LTTE’s open violation of the cease-fire MoU can be seen as part of its agenda in which the present cease-fire is used to launch its avowedly separatist round of the ethnic struggle. Neither the government nor the main opposition has a strategy to counter this possible development. The relative freedom with which the LTTE is engaged in its current activity of arms build-up, child recruitment, and extortion and intimidation of Tamil and where there is a build-up of Muslim political opponents has its predictable reaction in the South where there is a build-up of opposition to the peace process. The LTTE’s activity and the southern reaction to it are both major roadblocks to peace. It appears that the LTTE is well aware of this situation and exploits it for its purposes.
The most significant road block however is the inability or unwillingness of the government and the President, who also leads the main opposition in parliament, to act together in countering the LTTE in its tactics and strategies. The LTTE banks on the fact that these are parties that cannot work together on the ethnic problem. Each, in its turn when in the Opposition stymies the other in government from what course it takes to solving the problem and thereby keeps alive and active both Sinhala communalism and the LTTE.