"Q. Where do you go from here?
A. ...To defeat the LTTE you have to launch an all out
attack (which would mean a lot of Tamil civilian casualties) and
the place (Jaffna) will be wiped out.
Q. Is that possible?
Can the Sri Lankan forces do it?
A. Ofcourse it is possible. That is what the IPKF tried to do."
President Kumaratunga - Interview
with India Today, 30 April 1995
The election of the new Peoples Alliance government in August 1994, the
later election of Chandrika Kumaratunga as Sri Lanka President, and the vote
that she received from the Sinhala people in support of the peace process,
led to a wide spread belief that President Kumaratunga would take meaningful
measures to end the 40 year oppression of the Tamil people - an oppression
which had led to the rise of the lawful Tamil armed resistance movement.
However, even as President Kumaratunga spoke words of peace, Sinhala war
drums were being sounded backstage. (see 'Sri
Lanka's Peace Offensive 1994/95') Be that as it may, the true
intent of the so called 'peace process' was revealed by President
Kumaratunga herself in an interview reported in the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka
Sunday Times, an year later, on 20 August 1995:
"I have studied and acquired considerable knowledge on guerrilla
warfare when I was a student in Paris, and we knew how they would
behave. We conducted talks on the basis that the LTTE would not agree to
any peaceful settlement and lay down arms."
Whilst it may be significant that President Kumaratunga's Paris education
had not extended to a study of the Kissinger negotiations which ended the
conflict in Vietnam or for that matter the London negotiations which ended
the guerrilla war in Zimbabwe, that which was more significant, was her
frank admission that she did not participate in the peace talks with the
object of reaching a 'peaceful settlement' because her Paris studies had
convinced her that this was not possible with a guerrilla movement. What
then were the talks with the LTTE about and why did she participate in them?
What was her undisclosed agenda?
President Chandrika Kumaratunga's own appointee as Chairman of the Sri
Lanka state television, Rupavahini, Mr.Vasantha Rajah, wrote with the
knowledge of an insider in the Sri Lanka state controlled Sunday Observer on
"... a hidden agenda seeped into the government's peace effort.
Instead of making a genuine effort to cultivate confidence and trust
with the Tiger leadership and exploring `common ground', the government
got side tracked by a different strategy: to try and isolate the Tiger
leadership from the Tamil masses so that the military could corner and
"The military establishment, together with most Sinhala intellectuals
and left wing politicians... had been preaching this was for some time.
This became the aim of the Presidential initiative too. In other words
the peace process began to resemble a tactical episode in the
government's strategy to crush the Tigers. Indeed President Chandrika
even spoke about such an intention publicly."
The good faith with which the Sri Lanka government conducted the talks
will also appear from
an interview with the BBC by Velupillai Pirabaharan, the Leader of the LTTE
on 27 April 1995:
"In so far as the day to day problems of the Tamil people are
concerned the Government dragged its feet for more than six months. On
these issues, there were four rounds of talks and more than forty
letters exchanged. Furthermore, we gave a two weeks deadline and that
was further extended to three more weeks."
"If there was a
genuine will on the part of the Government it would have lifted the bans
and proceeded with the implementation within 24 hours. I think that if
the Government had been sincere there would not have been any delays or
The LTTE leader added in the same interview on 30 April 1995:
"Our doors for peace are still open. It is true that we are
dissatisfied and disillusioned with the approach of the (Sri Lanka)
Government. Yet we have not lost hope in the peace process. We are
convinced that the Tamilnational question can be resolved by peaceful
means. It is the (Sri Lanka)Government which should take the initiatives
to resume the peace process."
But instead of moving to resume the peace process, President Kumaratunga,
having used the talks as a 'tactical episode' in her attempt to quell Tamil
resistance, now set about using the collapse of the talks as a legitimising
cover for a planned genocidal onslaught on the Tamil people. President
Kumaratunga who had campaigned for election on a platform for peace, openly
declared that she proposed to achieve peace by waging war.
Kumaratunga was frank. She declared in an interview with India Today on
30 April 1995:
|"Q. Where do you go from here?
A. ...To defeat the LTTE you have to launch an all out attack
(which would mean a lot of Tamil civilian casualties) and the
place (Jaffna) will be wiped out.
Q. Is that possible? Can the Sri Lankan forces do it?
A. Ofcourse it is possible. That is what the IPKF tried to
The equanimity with which President Kumaratunga contemplated the prospect
of 'wiping out' Jaffna was not different from the equanimity with which
President J.R.Jayawardene declared two weeks before Genocide '83:
"I am not worried about the opinion of the Tamil people... now we
cannot think of them, not about their lives or their opinion... the more
you put pressure in the north, the happier the Sinhala people will be
here... Really if I starve the Tamils out, the Sinhala people will be
happy." (President J.R.Jayawardene, Daily Telegraph, 11th July 1983)
Sinhala political leaders are sometimes disarmingly frank. On such
occasions they should be taken at their word. In the same way as President
Jayawardene's remarks in July 1983 served as a prelude to Genocide'83,
President Kumaratunga's ruminations in April 1995 set the stage for the
genocidal war that was launched on the Tamil people in May/June 1995.