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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings - C Kumarabharathy > On Conflict Resolution: Tamil Eelam

Tamil National Forum

Selected Writings -  C.Kumarabharathy
[see also Bharathy(S)'s Ambalam]

On Conflict Resolution:
Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka

[see also Sri Lanka - Tamil Eelam: Getting to Yes]

12 May 2000

The interests of Sri Lanka and the interests of the ruling party elite consisting of Sri Lanka President Chandrika Kumaratunge and her uncle General Ratwatte are not always identical. At times the priorities of each are at loggerheads with one another - though under war clouds the interests of both are assumed to be synonymous.

The process of seeing that Chandrika Kumaratunge's clan may not be the only salvation for Sri Lanka is bound to unfold sooner or later. The process is being delayed because of the censorship and the "war footing" hysteria unleashed now.

If democracy is to survive in Sri Lanka the world should pause at this point and reflect on the ramifications. Statements by the government that troop morale has been boosted and  General Ratwatte's 'fight to the last man' speech in the Parliament should have warned world governments that the war is run by a mother uncle & niece syndicate with no regard for the safety of Sinhala soldiers.

BBC reporter Susannah Price brings out a point in her coverage. The message to Army is: 'fight and get out of this situation or if you can't then perish'. The President, under the sweeping powers that she has given herself, has put the Army in an impossible position - simply to secure her self interests. Within a week she has talked herself into a situation without leaving room for face saving.

There will be very strong unbendable pressure that will come on the Sri Lanka government to bring the soldiers back.This will be from the wounded soldiers and from the parents of soldiers trapped in the front. No amount of table thumping in Parliament and draconian censorship can silence this moral voice. Earlier on, before the Elephant Pass battle started the government buckled under ultra nationalistic pressure and Norwegian peace talks were put in back burner. This episode was orchestrated by the Sri Lankan press. Only a small section of the population was behind the Hela Urumaya movement but its impact was overrated by the media...

World should listen to the other side of the story before rushing in. So far it has done so. This time around India is acting very sensitively. The Indian stand has kept many countries from getting into the fray. This step was taken in response to Sri Lanka's call for evacuation of troops, but it is also a diplomatic initiative displayed by India. As days passed it consolidated strength and a non military benevolent intervention was the outcome - despite the news postings and articles by experts in the Hindu and despite mischievous "highly placed source close to the government" news in the Hindu. This a triumph for India and a timely one. The credit goes to Vajpayee.

He has handled this democratically by consensus and by agreeing to disagree and conceding where necessary. Kalaignar M. Karunanithi being just there is an assurance.Vaiko's stature has grown. Diaspora Tamils have some intelligence to know that India is neither encouraging nor discouraging the LTTE but they want a practical enduring peace. There are issues still to be resolved. The Tamil diaspora is concerned that in a situation of animated waiting media, like Hindu are on a campaign trail for the hawks.

That the LTTE will do this or do that in the talks are points which can not be argued against or for as such speculation is crystal gazing at the best, and mischief making at the worst. Trust should first be placed on the peace process and people involved in it. The question of what the contenders do, can be easily seen when process sets in.

Previous agreements and talks were not held in a level playing field. It was always loaded against Tamils. Most of the "Talks" were of a vague nature "put your weapons down we will solve the problem" or "Give up Eelam then we will give come up with something". For five years Sri Lanka had Jaffna, they have made the place an open prision. I have referred to this in "War and profound powerlessness of an Ordinary man".

India's state of animated suspense has so far made some remarkable inroads into the intransigence ruling elite in Colombo.The effect is seen in Sri Lankan Parliamentary debate where the opposition is asking that government should respond responsibly to India's mediatory offer. The summary rejection of the truce offered by LTTE and  it was received by the masses in Sri Lanka we wouldn't know. It displayed the arrogant attitude of the government. Though the Government treated the truce offer as a minor point they knew that it is not a small affair. They are squirming now as to how to explain their response - a response that was watched by the International community.

All countries have accepted India's dominant interest in the region and stayed out. This coupled with transparently unwise response of Sri Lankan government at every major battle reversal and policy revision has alienated Sri Lanka even from its allies like the US. China does not want any foreign intervention in Sri Lanka.

That US state department has warned Sri Lanka of the recent measures that it had adopted in the guise of a 'war effort'. US seems to regard that the PA government has nearly blown its electoral chances. The British Parliament is stirred by an ex Sri Lankan Sinhalese member, with a stricture on the Sri Lankan government for closing the media. That Sri Lanka is unable to concede  defeat gracefully and without unnecessarily pushing a nation beyond its elastic limit is apparent to the international community. No aid is forth coming for the war. With this grim prospect the government is adding taxes. It is user pay time for war. This should have happened long ago and by now negotiated peace would have come. Sinhalese people are now confronted with the Question:  cost of Sinhala-Buddhist fundamentalism with feudal clans versus simple peace?

Hindu has a news piece today. As usual, highly placed sources have told them of arms pouring in, which could turn the tide.This may be a fact but published from  Sri Lanka such a news will not have credibility. In another article, P Sahadevan argues "The LTTE may be gratified by India's decision. But it should not be seen as a step taken to embolden the Tigers under pressure from the BJP's coalition partners from Tamil Nadu. A negotiated political settlement will not be possible without weakening the LTTE. "

The Hindu seems to suggest "All is not lost for 'us'". This is adding fuel to fire. The need to negotiate a settlement is very clear to the Government and the LTTE and the Diaspora Tamils. The question of talking from a position of strength was being debated for last 5 years. That the Government will not talk except from a position of strength is obvious by its conduct. It is on this premise that the war was continued by Mrs C & General Ratwatte. It is just too late now. Jaffna is not a testing ground for amoral writers. It is not game that can be played endlessly. The advice of the Hindu now seems to be that India should give training and with new arms the Sri Lanka Army will take back Jaffna.

I think (given a chance to do so) Sinhalese and Tamils want to put all these behind. The consensus will evolve if sensitive benevolent intervention and support is given. The Hindu seems to have now become the far side spring board of the Sri Lankan government. With the press virtually closed down within Sri Lanka and having lost credibility in international media, highly placed sources have to now whisper to Hindu, to be listened.

The Norwegian initiative is the only hope. India can catalyse this path by making things easier. India had earlier said that it will see developments and remove obstacles for peace. This is an indication that at the appropriate time, the ban on the LTTE would be lifted. This is the only practical way out of the mess. But in dealing with a government that has time and again shown its intransigent attitude, a well documented and step by step resolution is the only way.


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