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Ana Pararajasingham, Australia
Sri Lanka's Military Solution
Green Left Weekly, 6 December 1995
|The media would have us believe that by
capturing Jaffna town, the Sri Lankan armed forces have paved the
way for the armed uprising of the Tamil people to be crushed once
and for all. The expected "fall of Jaffna'' is portrayed as a
success for the military solution advocated by influential sections
of the Colombo establishment and championed by its mouthpiece, the
Sinhala-owned mainstream newspapers.
The advocates of this strategy see the taking of Jaffna as a forerunner of the ultimate defeat of the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam), and the Sinhala-dominated Sri Lankan government beginning to impose its rule on the Tamil homeland. This strategy assumes that the population will remain within the "liberated zone''.
For the Tamil people the only option was to flee before the army occupied their town - making a mockery of the Sri Lankan government's claim to be "liberators''. The Tamil people do not regard Colombo to be their government.
The 500,000 Tamils fleeing Jaffna and flocking to areas under LTTE control, is powerful testimony to the faith the Tamil people have in the LTTE. As Father S. J. Emmanual, vicar general of the Jaffna Dioceses of the Catholic church observed, "They (LTTE) are the children of the Tamil people, the sons and daughters of Tamil soil. They cannot be isolated and separated from the Tamil masses.''
The Sri Lankan government's strategy to wrest Jaffna town from Tamil hands and reimpose its own administration is fundamentally flawed, not only because the Tamil people have voted with their feet, but also because it has resulted in large tracts of the east coming under LTTE control as the government ties up its troops in the north.
It will also lead to young Tamils joining the LTTE in even larger numbers as occurred after the anti-Tamil pogrom of July 1983, and during the Indian occupation between 1987 and 1989 from which the LTTE grew from around 30 fighters in 1983 to several thousands by 1990.
The military offensive by Colombo will galvanise the Tamil diaspora to redouble its efforts to persuade the international community to realise the futility of Sri Lanka's military approach.
As the government ignores the southern economy and concentrates on the war in the north, it may well lead to the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna [People's Liberation Front] raising its head once again, forcing the government to withdraw its forces to combat a third round of the JVP insurgency.
The fall of Jaffna may prove to be only a temporary setback for the Tamils. It could well turn out to be the beginning of the final phase in the Tamil quest for a state of their own.