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TAMIL NATIONAL FORUM
Selected Writings - Fr. Chandiravarman Sinnathurai
Keeping the Peace? International Intervention
17 July 2006
The time is rapidly running out for the Nordic Monitors (SLMM) in Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers had been patient with them for quite some time in spite of the damaged credibility of the SLMM - Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission. It was common knowledge that some where down the line the SLMM lost their balance and neutrality and endangered their mission by sliding to siding the Government. That in it self was a serious breach of trust! Thus they were seen unfortunately, to be lacking in integrity to monitor peace in Sri Lanka.
The international community has also been misled to believe that the Tamils were “up in arms” with the West. That is a deliberate propaganda of the Rajapaksha regime. What the international community would like to see in Sri Lanka is obvious peace. Owing to Geo-political interests and regional stability the West would push for peace without separation of the island. It is rumoured, that EU-rope would be willing to support “not a two-state solution but a state within a State.” Reliable information suggests that this peace-plan is mooted by the British Government.
Nothing however is without a “Catch”. The US, EU-rope, Japan and even India would like to ideally see the Tamil Tigers contained or preferably fully dismantled. Such operations have repeatedly proved to be futile. The Tigers have the backing of the Tamil masses and the support of the Tamil Diaspora. So the plan B is to woo the Tamil Tigers in to peace talks as a weigh-laying tactic. That has also not worked to plan. Of course, the Tamils want peace. But the question is peace in whose terms?
Some are of the view that should Geneva 2 Talks were to happen it would nothing but be a cosmetic exercise. In all of these wheeling and dealing the regional super power India is believed to be increasingly to play a dominant role – for the moment, behind the scenes perhaps! But some Europhiles are suggesting that there is also another “positive” (depending on your view point) development in terms of international intervention. The real possibility of a full-scale war in Sri Lanka is in wafer-thin proximity. Already over 420 Tamil civilians have been killed by the State Armed Forces since Geneva 1 Talks in February 2006.
Now what would be the exit-strategy of the SLMM without losing face? The recent history of the Indian Peace Keeping Mission will bring with it its haunting memories. That is a psychological nightmare for the Tamils. It’s been a humiliating defeat for India and for its 4th largest army in the world. So it is best not to repeat such a colossal failure.
Now how to approach the same problem differently? Could it be that EU-rope would be toying seriously with the idea of ‘sending’ the SFOR – Stabilisation Force with the agreement of the Sri Lanka Government and the consent of India? NATO would say the operation of SFOR had been very successful in Bosnia and Herzegovina and now with the deepening current crisis in Lebanon SFOR might be sent there.
Now what is the mission of Stabilisation Force? It will ‘deter hostilities and stabilise the peace, contribute to a secure environment by providing a continued military presence in the area of responsibility.’ SFOR also targets and coordinates support to key areas enabling primary civil implementation organisations, and programs towards a lasting consolidation of peace.
How would this proposal be read by Colombo will be interesting to see. What would be the reaction of the Sinhala Buddhist monks and the extremist elements in Sinhala society? In theory most proposals have had peace “potentials.” The ground reality however draws a different picture. The important question in this theorem of peace is this: Will such an arrangement bring “lasting consolidation of peace” to Tamils?
Now this is a question only the Tamils should have the right to respond to.