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10 May 2009
On the 11th Anniversary
of the launch of tamilnation.org
and the 5th Anniversary of its relaunch
Many Tamils (including those in the British Tamil Forum) will welcome Mr.Miliband's frankness in the House of Commons on 5 May 2009. They will welcome his frankness because it will make clear to them where the UK Government currently stands in relation to the Tamil Eelam struggle for freedom. It appears that for Mr. Miliband the murderous damage done to Sri Lanka over the last 26 years was by the LTTE and not by a succession of murderous Sinhala Sri Lanka regimes - from President Jayawardene in 1983 to President Chandrika Kumaratunga Bandaranaike in 1995 to President Rajapaksa today.
Mr. Miliband chooses to be silent on the chilling record of the past sixty years and more - a chilling record which shows that the intent and goal of all Sinhala governments (without exception) has been to secure the island as a Sinhala Buddhist Deepa and that a Sinhala Buddhist nation masquerading as a multi ethnic 'civic Sri Lankan' nation set about its task of assimilation and 'cleansing' the island of the Tamils, as a people, by
Mr. Miliband chooses to be silent on the fact that when these attempts at ethnic cleansing were resisted by the Tamil people by non violent means and parliamentary struggle, Sinhala governments resorted to violence in 1956, in 1958, in 1961 and again in 1977 - a murderous violence directed to terrorise the Tamils into submission.
Mr. Miliband chooses to be silent on the fact that the rise of Tamil armed resistance was an inevitable response to Sri Lankan State terror and that this armed resistance was then met with the enactment of laws which were an 'ugly blot on statute book of any civilised country', with arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extra judicial killings and massacres, indiscriminate aerial bombardment and artillery shelling, wanton rape, and genocide - together with press censorship, disinformation and murder of journalists.
And Mr. Miliband chooses to be silent on the fact that the impunity granted to Sinhala armed forces, para military groups, goondas and Sinhala thugs, exposes the encouragement, support and direction given by successive Sri Lanka governments for the crimes committed against the Tamil people.
Mr. Miliband chooses to be silent on the genocidal intent of the President Rajapakse regime - a genocidal intent proven by the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan armed forces under the President's command - and Mr. Miliband chooses to be silent on the murderous record of the Rajapaksa regime which has raped, murdered Tamil Parliamentarians, Tamil journalists, executed Tamil students with impunity, arbitrarily arrested and detained Tamil civilians, abducted Tamil refugee workers, orchestrated attacks on Tamil civilians and Tamil shops, bombed Tamil civilian population centres and displaced thousands of Tamils from their homes.
Mr. Milliband chooses to ignore the harsh truth that genocides do not just happen and that Mao Tse-tung's famous dictum that the guerrilla moves amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea has brought with it the counter guerrilla strategy of draining the sea.
Mr. Miliband chooses to be silent on all this but he chooses to assert that "no one should underestimate the murderous damage done to Sri Lanka over the last 26 years by the LTTE, or the sheer hatred felt for its leadership."
Mr.Miliband says that 'the fog of war makes it difficult to be certain of the facts of the present situation' and that 'this is compounded by the lack of access for international agencies and the media.' But Mr.Miliband is quick to conclude (through the 'fog of war') that no one should underestimate the 'sheer hatred felt for the leadership' of the LTTE. He says that UN agencies 'lack any access to Internally Displaced Persons until the IDPs have already been through the preliminary "screening" process' but this does not prevent Mr.Miliband on relying on statements made by the same IDPs who presumably have gone through 'the preliminary 'screening" process' and who live in fear in concentration camps manned by the Sri Lanka authorities.
We are reminded of something which Harry G. Frankfurt wrote in his best seller on Bullshit -
Bullshiting is not exactly lying. The bullshitter does not reject the authority of truth. He simply pays no attention to it all. We are also reminded of something which Mamanithar Sivaram wrote in 2005
Mr.Miliband may persuade himself (and seek to persuade his audience) that the terror bombing by Sri Lanka has turned the Tamil people against Pirabakaran. But then again, Mr. Miliband may want to remind himself of something that Winston Churchill said in the 1940s during Hitler's blitzkrieg of London - 'it is in the places most bombed that I found the determination of the people to resist the greatest.' He may then see the force of reason in that which Frantz Fannon said in the Wretched of the Earth -
Mr.Miliband speaks of the need to win the peace. He is right. He is right to fear that the problem with war is always with the 'victor', because he (or she) has demonstrated that superior force pays - and, sooner rather than later, there will be those who will rise to show that they have learnt well the lesson that was taught. But, peace will not be won by refusing to recognise the justice of the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam to be free from alien Sinhala rule.
But it is the justice of the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam to be free from alien Sinhala rule that Mr.Miliband has, at the present time, signally failed to recognise.
Mr. Miliband has no difficulty in labeling an organisation that has resorted to armed resistance as a last resort against state terror as terrorist. He chooses to ignore the cautionary words of UN Special Rapporteur Kalliopi K. Koufa in June 2004 -
"The most problematic issue relating to terrorism and armed conflict is distinguishing terrorists from lawful combatants, both in terms of combatants in legitimate struggles for self-determination and those involved in civil wars or non-international armed conflicts. In the former category, States that do not recognize a claim to self-determination will claim that those using force against the State's military forces are necessarily terrorists. ....The controversy over the exact meaning, content, extent and beneficiaries of, as well as the means and methods utilized to enforce the right to self-determination has been the major obstacle to the development of both a comprehensive definition of terrorism and a comprehensive treaty on terrorism." Terrorism and Human Rights Final Report of the Special Rapporteur, Kalliopi K. Koufa, 25 June 2004
Do we not deliberately obfuscate when we conflate the two words 'terrorism' and 'violence'? Is it that there are no circumstances in which a people ruled by an alien people may lawfully resort to arms to to liberate themselves? And if there are such circumstances what are those circumstances? Was the circumstance that it had become a pernicious habit for Tamils to be killed, maimed, robbed and rendered homeless a sufficient circumstance?
Was the circumstance that 'every time Tamil politicians negotiated some sort of power-sharing deal with a Sinhalese government - regardless of which party was in power - the opposition Sinhalese party always claimed that the party in power had negotiated away too much', a sufficient circumstance?
Again, though Mr. Miliband has no difficulty in labeling an organisation that has resorted to armed resistance as a last resort against state terror as terrorist, Mr.Miliband finds difficulty in labeling President Rajapaksa's war on the people of Tamil Eelam as genocidal. Mr.Miliband claims that 'the fog of war makes it difficult to be certain of the facts of the present situation'. Many Tamils will wonder whether it is the 'fog of war' or the fog created by the countervailing strategic interests of the trilaterals (US, EU and Japan), India and China in the Indian Ocean region, that prevents Mr.Milliband from seeing that which the world has seen for the past several months.
We said that many Tamils (including those in the British Tamil Forum) will welcome Mr.Miliband's frankness because it will make clear to them where the Government which he represents currently stands in relation to the Tamil Eelam struggle for freedom. But that is not to say that Tamils not only in the United Kingdom but also in many lands and across distant seas, would not have welcomed an equal frankness from UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband about the strategic interests that the tri laterals (US, EU and Japan) appear to be concerned to secure in the Indian Ocean region - and which strategic interests appears to lead them to deny the justice of the Tamil Eelam struggle for freedom.
Clearly it was a perception of these strategic interests (reflected in the uneasy balance of power in the Indian Ocean Region and in China's String of Pearls strategy) which led President Rajapaksa's China leaning political constituency to plaster the walls of Colombo with posters to greet Mr.Miliband on his recent visit -
The posters were not a one off. They were not an aberration. Rajiva Wijesinha, Secretary General of the Sri Lanka Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) wrote on 6 May 2009 in the State Controlled Sri Lanka Daily News that "Mr. Miliband Prevaricates". On 8 May 2009, Don Wijewardene wrote in the Sri Lanka State Controlled Daily News on How the West lost Sri Lanka -
And on 9 May 2009, Lucien Rajakarunayake wrote in the Sri Lanka State Controlled Daily News on the Double Standards in Washington -
We have said it before and we say it again. There are two ongoing conflicts in the island of Sri Lanka. One is the conflict between a Sinhala nation masquerading as a Sri Lanka 'civic' nation and a Tamil Eelam nation seeking freedom from alien Sinhala rule. The other is the conflict between the trilaterals (US, EU, and Japan), India and China in the Indian Ocean region. The harsh political reality is that each of the three seek to resolve the Sinhala/Tamil conflict in such a way that embeds their own presence in the island of Sri Lanka.
The West for its part seeks to use the current humanitarian crisis faced by the people of Tamil Eelam to embed their own presence in the Indian Ocean island through 'humanitarian intervention' and 'development aid'. For instance, the recent White House call that 'international aid workers should have access to all sites where internally displaced persons are being registered and sheltered' is directed to embed the physical presence of the international community in Sri Lanka and exclude the influence of China and manage the influence of New Delhi in the Indian Ocean region - it has little to do with securing freedom for the people of Tamil Eelam from permanent alien Sinhala rule.
Here, the words of US President Franklin D. Roosevelt about Nicaragua dictator Anastasio Somoza come to mind "Somoza may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch." It seems that for the trilaterals, the question (at least, for the time being) is not whether President Rajapaksa is 'a son of a bitch' but whether President Rajapaksa cannot be flattered/persuaded/pressurised/cajoled/threatened to be 'our son of a bitch'.
The West knows that if they do not avail themselves of the 'window of opportunity' caused by the current humanitarian crisis (a crisis to which they contributed by providing aid and military assistance to the murderous Rajapaksa regime), they may be faced with an even more recalcitrant President Rajapaksa in the years to come. The memories of Saddam Hussein whom the West supported in Iraq's war against Iran are too recent to be forgotten.
Said that, we would imagine that President Rajapaksa will play for time and take care to tell each of the international players privately that he himself remains their 'best bet'. It is not unlikely that he will pose to each one of them the pregnant question: 'If not me, who?' At the same time, as the murder of Lasantha Wikrematunga and the systematic suppression of the media show, any nascent Sinhala opposition to the current Sri Lanka regime will be put down ruthlessly.
And so in addition to blandishments about aid, IMF loans, threats of charges for war crimes, calling for press freedom, facilitating regime change in the Sinhala South, and making appeasing public statements to the Rajapaksa regime, the West (as well as India) would like to retain the Tamil card as a way of pressuring President Rajapaksa to fall in line with their own(though not always congruent) strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region.
But the West knows that the LTTE is committed to an independent Tamil Eelam and may not be a willing tool to simply advance the strategic interests of the trilaterals and/or India, if the asking price is that the LTTE should renege on the 1976 Vaddukoddai resolution of the Tamil United Liberation Front and give up the Tamil Eelam struggle for freedom from alien Sinhala rule.
So the West and India, each seek to build an alternate Tamil 'leadership' which will be more amenable to do each of their bidding. Hence the frenetic efforts of each to promote an alternative Tamil 'leadership' (or even a 'reformed' LTTE without Velupillai Pirabakaran), the passionate exhortations to the genocidal Rajapaksa regime to 'win the peace' by offering 'devolution' which that alternative Tamil 'leadership' may then pass off as the 'post genocide' resolution of the 'conflict' together with ofcourse 'development and humanitarian aid' - and, crucially, at the same time embed West and/or India presence in the island.The International Crisis Group whose Board included Lord Patten of Barnes Co-Chair, Crisis Group Former European Commissioner for External Relations Former Governor of Hong Kong Former UK Cabinet Minister Chancellor of Oxford and Newcastle Universities, Ambassador Thomas R Pickering Co-Chair, Crisis Group Former U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Russia, India, Israel, Jordan, El Salvador and Nigeria Vice Chairman of Hills & Company and Gareth Evans President & CEO Former Foreign Minister of Australia. spelt it out more than an year ago in February 2008 -
But what if, despite the best efforts of the so called international community, no alternative Tamil leadership is forthcoming? What if no alternative Tamil leadership is forthcoming because the Tamil people know that if the armed resistance fails they will be left only with pleaders, petitioners and mercenaries who will be able to secure some crumbs from their master's table only for themselves and their hangers on. After all the Tamil people know that even with the Indian army actually in place in Sri Lanka, India was not able to deliver anything more than the comic opera reforms of the 13th Amendment directed to secure a constitutional frame which would enable a permanent Sinhala majority to manage and rule the Tamil people more effectively than before.
What if the Tamil people have grasped (not simply understood, but actually grasped) the truth of that which Sathasivam Krishnakumar said in June 1991 -
What if the Tamil people have grasped the truth of that which Sinhala academic, historian K. M. de Silva said in 1996 -
And if no alternative Tamil 'leadership' which will turn traitor and renege on the Vaddukoddai Resolution is forthcoming, what are the options that will be left for West and/or India? Will either of them walk away from Sri Lanka and leave the island to the murderous Rajapaksa regime in partnership with China? Or will the time come when the West and/or India may be compelled to recognise that their own strategic interests demand that they support the Tamils to establish a State of their own. It was perhaps fear of the latter which led Comrade Wimal Weerawansa, Propaganda Secretary of JVP to declare in China in 2007 -
And, coming to think of it, it may be the same fear which led President Rajapaksa's China leaning political constituency to plaster the walls of Colombo with posters to greet Mr.Miliband on his recent visit -
As for UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, he may want to return to the words of wisdom of his predecessor in office, Lord Palmerston more than 150 years ago -
And so say we all. It is not that constructive ambiguity is without its uses. We live in a world where every action brings its own reaction and reality may have to be grasped in the elusive interplay of opposites.