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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Democracy, Sri Lanka Style >  Presidential Elections:Two Voices but a Single Thought... "How best to conquer and rule"

 Democracy Continues, Sri Lanka Style...

Presidential Elections:
Two Voices but a Single Thought...
"How best to conquer and rule"

7 November 2005

10 years ago...."...One of the essential elements that must be kept in mind in understanding the Sri Lankan ethnic conflict is that, since 1958 at least, 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. In almost every case - sometimes within days - the party in power backed down on the agreement..." - (Professor Marshall Singer, at US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995)

14 years ago... Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism has been institutionalised in Sri Lanka and today it has become more powerful than the politicians themselves. Indeed even if the Sinhala politicians seek to settle the conflict, Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism may try to prevent such a settlement. This is the political reality that those who are aware of the Sri Lankan situation are well aware of. This is the result of the grievous error committed by Sinhala politicians. In 1956 for the first time this 'communalism' was openly put forward for electoral gain. This Sinhala chauvinism which was nurtured by Sinhala politicians for their electoral advantage, has grown into a Frankenstein monster which now has the power to destroy and make politicians. This we understand very well..." Sathasivam Krishnakumar, June, 1991

[see also Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee]

An open letter to Ranil Wickremesinghe

HEW  in the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Daily Mirror, 5 November 2005

Tweedle Dum...

Mr. Ranil Wickremesinghe has invited us citizens to write to him; I have no doubt that he would have received thousands of letters and a selected few of them may be submitted to him for his information. I am therefore sending this to the newspapers as I feel many of your readers would bring this to his attention.

Ranil must be made aware that ‘gratitude’ is not in the makeup of Prabhakaran, he does not know the meaning of the word. This may be because he is in blinkers and his tunnel vision makes him only see one thing and that is his separate state of Eelam for his people, who have, according to him, been brutalized and suppressed by the racist Sinhalese.

He seeks to rid every Sinhalese from his Eelam or at least from the Jaffna peninsula and the British carved Northern Province. As we are all aware to make his Eelam viable he seeks to indulge in a land grab and annex the Eastern Province which was till 1815 a part of the Kandyan Kingdom with its strategic Trincomalee harbour.

You must know that whatever you may do to appease Prabhakaran, or even if you save his life, he would not think twice about having you assassinated. Just think, no one did more for him than President Premadasa. He sent away the IPKF which had cornered him and confined him to a small area of Mullaitivu; they would have finished off the job only if the government had withdrawn the Concurrent List in the 13th Amendment and made a reality of the devolution contemplated in that Amendment to the Constitution; The Tamils of Tamil Nadu would have been appeased that the grievances of their Tamil brethren had been addressed and equality secured for them, justifying the intervention and the loss of life in this country. Yes, Prabhakaran was indeed saved by Premadasa.

Premadasa also had Mathywathani and their two children brought from Norway; he united Prabhakaran with his family.Neville Jayaweera then Ambassador in Sweden would tell you of how he accomplished that. That was not all, the Indians will tell you of the hundreds of thousands of US Dollars worth of arms that were gifted to the LTTE. You may perhaps have known of that. Was the LTTE grateful? NO, they considered us to be suckers.

The naive President, even after he was tricked by the LTTE into agreeing to surrender the east and the 640 policemen, who the LTTE murdered in cold blood after they had surrendered on his orders executed through the then IG, (Premadasa could have called for an international inquiry, but the man was not interested) and the attack on the Palaly Airport when his Foreign Minister had a narrow escape, he wanted to sue for peace once again, I wonder what Prabhakaran would have had to say to that? Anyway what form did their gratitude for what he did for them take? They assassinated him by activating a sleeper whom they had kept in readiness in a LTTE funded kiosk in front of his residence. So Mr. Wickremesinghe, have the police run a check on all those who have infiltrated your establishment over the past ten years including the Sinhalese and others.

Besides President Pemadasa we had another naïve and starry-eyed inexperienced politician who had empathy with the under-dog. She was of course Chandrika Kumaratunga. It must be said to her credit that she was the only Sinhala politician who sincerely believed that the genuine grievances of the Tamil people must be addressed.

The starry-eyed liberal having manned the barricades in the student revolt in Paris, arrived here 20 years after the ethnic problem had first erupted and had now been transformed into war. Most unfortunately, because of the politicization of our institutions and her own attitude, she had no access to what had happened before she took office; she did not have access to files, I wonder whether she studied the intelligence reports or clipping files. I doubt as to whether she was given a comprehensive report on Prabhakaran, his local organization and his international network. The clueless people who were appointed by her to high office and the unstructured manner in which she set about her work did not make her task easier. Her so-called negotiators were hopeless misfits, the strategy of dealing with the LTTE was utterly amateurish.

They did not know the organization they were dealing with and had not done their home-work either. She did not bring in the international community, not even India and the LTTE lost its patience and attempted to assassinate her to make way for you the second time around.

There was nothing she could achieve on the peace front though she did most sincerely try by introducing legislation to meet the grievances of the Tamil people to enable them to live in dignity, security and to decide on their own destiny in areas inhabited by them.

Legislation was brought in 1995, 1997 and finally in August 2000 all of which you successfully sabotaged.

Sinhala Chauvinism

You must surely be embarrassed at what you allowed to happen that day when your President and mine, whether we like her or not, was referred to in unprintable language and one of your louts burned the Bill in the House. The LTTE has not forgotten your contribution to the Tamil cause during that period.

In the period before you won the Parliamentary election, your critics state that you delivered the Vanni to the LTTE in order to embarrass her. When you became Premier the LTTE was, with the help of the Norwegians, able to extract the maximum possible concessions from your government starting with the CFA.

Today, the LTTE is at least five times stronger than they were at the time of the Ceasefire; they have annihilated our Intelligence Corps with impunity.

The LTTE were able to obtain advanced communication equipment. We do not here wish to go into all that happened but do you even for a moment think that Prabhakaran is grateful for what he has received. The policy of appeasement which you and some of your ‘gentle’ officials followed naively, did not appease the LTTE neither did it win any friendships it only strengthened the LTTE. My information is that they laugh when asked whether they are grateful for the ‘assistance’ they received. They have no respect for those who helped them, they only scorn the fools.

Now you both are friends and appear to have joined hand to defeat a ‘common enemy’. But the country is more important to us. The only favour the LTTE has done ever is also done in their own interest. They know very well that if they endorse your candidature you would be finished but make no mistake they will demand the payoff.

So what should you do not only to protect yourself but also this country? This country cannot afford another political assassination. You should immediately on assuming office, (if you win the election of course), undertake working visits to India and the US. And request of the two governments the following:-

(1) The two governments should jointly and severally issue a final warning to the LTTE that if any harm comes to you or they indulge in one single assassination of a political leader, they would be held responsible whatever they may say.

(2) The US to station an Aircraft Carrier in the Trincomalee harbour as a warning to the LTTE. India would not join for political reasons, but they would not object for they now have a strategic partnership agreement with the US.

This would not only ensure your own security and that of your senior Ministers but would also ensure a just settlement of the conflict.

That my friend, ‘Singhe’ is your only insurance against assassination for their demands would exceed what you can deliver and we know the form their punishment takes.

Good luck to you.

Is Mahinda moving towards peace or war?

S.B. Dissanayake,  former Minister of Samurdhi, Agriculture and Livestock,  in the Ranil Wickremasinghe government and before that in President Chandrika Kumaratunga's Cabinet and presently serving a prison sentence in the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Daily Mirror, 5 November 2005

[see also “Karuna Defection, Wickremasinghe's Ploy”-UNP Stalwart]

Belligerent Face of Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalism
...and Tweedle Dee

If Rajiv Gandhi, Aerial Sharon or Tony Blair went about consensus building in the manner Mahinda Rajapakse plans to do, India, Israel and Britain would not have resolved their Mizoram, Gaza Strip settlements and Northern Ireland troop withdrawal issues respectively. Mahinda should give up amateurishness and learn from these recent events, rather than becoming a racist or erase the SLFP's policies and already gained peace successes by Ranil Wickremesinghe.

Further, he plans to initiate direct talks with the LTTE. He intends to meet LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and representatives to present the consensus reached. Meeting with Prabhakaran will be a non-starter as Mahinda cannot build national consensus, as planned.

Let us assume that he builds consensus somehow and embarks on risky direct talks. In all peacemaking efforts, the Facilitators are engaged because of risks. Withdrawing Facilitators enhances the risky probability of break away. This hastiness is definitely a desperate reaction to drop the Norwegians to satisfy the JVP and the JHU.

Mahinda assumes that "the talks during UNP failed due to non availability of a clear plan and a time frame". His first criticism may be partially true due to the quick unexpected positive progress made by UNP peace negotiators, but the time frame issue is unacceptable. We are yet to see whether any negotiations in the world have gone on a strict time frame.

Renouncing separatism, demilitarization, entry to the democratic process, reaching a final solution etc are Mahinda's other peace interests. Renouncing separatism by the LTTE has already taken place with the Oslo Declaration. Demilitarization will be a final stage issue. The entry into the democratic process is a must, but, on a step-by-step approach.

Discussing a final solution at the inception requires interim arrangements (e.g. ISGA) as final outcomes take time, which is taboo to Mahinda's buddies. Mahinda should learn from South Africa, Ireland, Palestine, Philippines, Ethiopia and Mozambique that peace is not made in a hurry.

Mahinda wishes to commence talks with India, to arrive at an agreement in relation to regional security and peace. Though he criticizes Ranil this is exactly what he did. Considering the might of India and the fact that India will not divorce itself from what is happening, or will happen in Sri Lanka, his concern is very valid and will not surprise anyone. Who is regionalizing the conflict now, is it not Mahinda?

He is to seek an Asian cooperation with China, Russia and Pakistan, in addition to open and frank discussions with the Co-chairs. Who is regionalizing the conflict more? He could have regionalized it better by including Cambodia, Afghanistan and Thailand through which it is reported in the media that arms and ammunitions have been smuggled by the LTTE.

As these selected countries or their representatives for diplomatic reasons do not comment that they are for such special action or not, it is necessary for Mahinda to confirm that he has consulted and agreement has been reached on this issue with the nominated international players. If he does not do so, the country will know that he was "conning around."

If the LTTE queries from any of these countries and if they respond negatively, will it not give space for LTTE to question Mahinda's action on the grounds of ex parte decision making related to the CFA and deceiving the masses. Will not he become a liar? Are we to have a lying President? I sympathize with Mahinda as he has only exposed his amateurishness on peacemaking and diplomacy.

It is common knowledge that India has many unresolved diplomatic issues with China and Pakistan. In lighter vein, and without any malice, as these are our friendly countries, I may say that the forum could be used to settle more important issues for those countries than ours.

Perhaps, Mahinda's advisors may have thought of these four, as India trains many security force personnel and sell non-lethal weapons and a defense agreement is being negotiated. Pakistan does maintenance of aircraft and sells even lethal weapons and a defence agreement was in the offing. Russia too has similar transactions and a defence agreement and China has been in military supply business since 1993.

Therefore, the draftsmen of the Mahinda Chinthana may have thought that they could scare the LTTE by proposing these new military-oriented actors on the stage. If defence agreements and military supplies are the criterion for selection of facilitators and "helpers", is Mahinda moving towards peace or war? Is he looking at peacemaking or the chauvinist few and military procurement agencies (We know why!)? Does not he understand that the Facilitator should be acceptable to the government and LTTE both? He lacks such basic knowledge and promises peace to the country.

Mahinda wishes to endeavor to develop a mechanism of sharing information, knowledge and training pertaining to combating terrorism with countries such as India, Pakistan, China, Russia, UK and the USA. This is good and concurrently endorses the earlier mentioned prioritization. The only reason he would have incorporated this is to show the electors that he has lot of support from strong international players, though there were no commitments made. He is bluffing.

Mahinda is so certain of the outcome of the talks, he plans the Constitution making process too in the MC, which is heartening. I am reminded of the Sinhala adage "Ganga hath gauvak thiyeddi amude gahanawa!" (Wearing the span cloth long distance away from the river!) How simplistic is the presidential candidate? With what experience in peacemaking is Mahinda making such incredulous statements? Is he reading newspapers, if not Time or Newsweek the least, to compare his stand with South Africa or Palestine or Philippines?

Whilst these talks and reform processes are continuing Mahinda plans to implement development programs, which would include special programs for the North and the East, as well. With the P-TOMS it was clear that the LTTE demands leadership and ownership in development, similar to the south. He will take lot of time to convince the JVP/JHU on new and innovative mechanisms, which have been discussed already between the LTTE and the government. We in the UNP have already drawn our plans and structures for this activity.

The CFA is to be amended to ensure that acts of terrorism would not be permitted in any way. The CFA has provisions (if adhered correctly) to prevent any act of terrorism. Nevertheless there are difficulties. Blaming Ranil or President as Minister of Defence for violations is wrong, as there is no ceasefire in the world that has been not violated. This is why Monitors and Facilitators are permitted in the agreements themselves.

The problem is that Mahinda has neither planned to reduce these acts nor undertaken amendments. He does not want to state how he wishes to amend it. CFA under Article 4.3 allows modifications to the CFA. He seems to have lost sight that even if he becomes the President he cannot do it without negotiations and unilaterally.

To get to the Table to negotiate modifications, he may have to soften the JVP/JHU combo. If his Alliance thinks that such amendments are possible unilaterally, Mahinda is sadly mistaken. As stated by other commentators such opportunity given to LTTE may provoke them too to ask for modifications favouring them. Perhaps, these may be changing the forward defence locality boundaries or sea movements, as pointed out by former Defence Secretary Austin Fernando.

Mahinda thinks of a new monitoring group for peacemaking. Indirectly he says that he would take the regional powers to do this. This too is a matter coming under the purview of Article 3 of the CFA and cannot be unilaterally implemented. Here too, I hope he has received approvals from these regional powers, Co-Chairs and Norwegians. Are these other powers in his head acceptable to the LTTE? It looks like Mahinda thinks that peace making is done by "Giruwapattu Chandi Mallis" (Thugs from Giruwa Pattuwa)! Or otherwise, as in the previous case this may be just rhetoric.

Rehabilitation and reconstruction planning in the peacemaking process will be handled by "Jaya Lanka” program and it will be required to obtain some acceptance by the LTTE which will delay the process. However, the JVP / JHU seem to have melted a bit as seen by the statement in the MC that the mechanism will "ensure the participation and leadership of the affected people", the Sinhalese, Tamils, and Muslims.

Finally, I want to say that my friend Mahinda has no vision on peacemaking; no knowledge or experience on peacemaking or diplomacy to handle such a program. And above all he lacks the political backing from his alliance partners. In addition, he has antagonized the other parties by making alliances with the JVP and JHU and this irritation will remain intact even if he becomes the President and commence negotiations.

In working with the LTTE all these matter. He is running towards a mirage by expecting a national consensus of the nature indicated in the MC and will end up in a disastrous war for which not only we would be paying, but even our children and grandchildren. What he is trying to safeguard against his conscience only to come to power will be the bane of the nation for generations. Frustration I have of the thought of ruination of the country by failed peacemaking by Mahinda and combo is immensely more than my being in prison.

Karuna Defection, Wickremasinghe's Ploy”-UNP Stalwart
[TamilNet, November 07, 2005 10:04 GMT]

A United National Party (UNP) stalwart in Nuwara Eliya district, Mr. Naveen Dissanayake, has said that it would not be necessary for Sri Lanka’s Military to fight the Tigers. "American and Indian forces will fight the LTTE if Liberation Tigers' leader Pirapaharan opts to wage a war," Naveen Dissanayake told the audience at an Election propaganda meeting, Thursday, at Ginigathena in the upcountry district of Nuwara Eliya, a Tamil daily, Uthayan, quoted in its headline story, Monday. Mr. Dissanayake has also claimed that a situation was created to make the renegade LTTE commander Karuna to get dissatisfied with his leadership during the period covering his trips to Europe, the paper said.

According to the paper report, Dissanayake, the former Deputy Minister of Plantation Industries, has claimed that Karuna had the full backing of Wickremasinghe before he set out on his diversion. "This is why Mr. Pirapaharan was unable to wage another war," the UNP stalwart told the audience.  Dissanayake also referred to Mr. Wickremasinghe's meetings with the US President, George W. Bush, and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Indian National Congress (Congress Party), and said that Wickremasinghe has made the necessary groundwork to conduct the war with the LTTE, if the latter opts for one. "There will be no need for Sri Lankan forces to do the fighting," he further said.

The meeting was organised by the Nuwara Eliya district organiser of the UNP, Mr. K. K. Piyadasa. Mrs. Hema Premadasa, the wife of the late Sri Lankan president and former UNP leader Mr. R. Premadasa , UNP parliamentarian Bandula Gunawardene, and Mr. Vijeyakumar, the General Secretary of the Upcountry People’s Front were present at the meeting, the paper said.

The UNP parliamentarian Naveen Dissanayake is the son of late Gamini Dissanayake.


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