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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Democracy, Sri Lanka Style > LTTE 'can only be defeated by the guns, men and women of the Sri Lankan armed forces' - Sri Lanka Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka

Democracy Continues, Sri Lanka Style...

LTTE 'can only be defeated by the guns, men and women of the Sri Lankan armed forces' - Sri Lanka Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka

 M.R. Narayan Swamy
Sunday, 1 June 2008

" Jayatilleka accused the University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna (UTHR-J) of 'becoming part of the West's civil society pets... It has joined several other Tamil dissident groupings in showing extreme distress at the thought of military defeat of the LTTE... These elements just do not want the Sri Lankan state to win... They must comprehend that Tiger fascism cannot be defeated by unarmed Tamil expatriate dissidents... It can only be defeated by the guns, men and women of the Sri Lankan armed forces and their  (armed) Tamil partners."

Comment by tamilnation.org  Tamils living in many lands (including Tamil Nadu) will welcome Mr.Dayan Jayatilleka's statement that the LTTE 'can only be defeated by the guns, men and women of the Sri Lankan armed forces and their (armed) Tamil partners' and not by 'unarmed Tamil expatriate dissidents'.  They will welcome his statement for its belligerent frankness. According to Indian journalist M.R. Narayan Swamy (whose book 'Inside an Elusive Mind - Prabhakaran' reveals the access he has to sources in India's RAW),  Mr. Jayatilleka is one of Sri Lanka's  'most high-profile diplomats'  and 'enjoys a close rapport with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.'  Ergo, his words should be taken seriously by the Tamil people  - and not dismissed simply as the bluster of a Sinhala Buddhist racist.

It appears that Mr.Jayatilleke does not subscribe to the views expressed by the United States Institute for Peace in May 1999 on How Terrorism Ends -

" ...The nature of the grievance matters. Ethnically based terrorist campaigns can be harder to end decisively than politically based ones, because they often enjoy broader support among a population they seek to represent. The nature of the organisation putting forth the grievance matters as well. Intelligence is important not only to prevent terrorist attacks but also to understand how the organisation works and how its decision making process can be affected.... deterring terrorism and prosecuting terrorists may be insufficient to end terrorism, especially when a large population supports the terrorists' cause. In such situations, negotiated settlements may provide the only solutions. In Sri Lanka, the government appears to have concluded from its victory over the Maoist JVP that law enforcement and compulsion can end a terror campaign. However, the LTTE has a much broader base of support than the JVP ever did, and the LTTE is unlikely to go away simply through government-applied force.... Trying to 'decapitate' a movement may radicalise the whole movement ... Assassinations and military force can provoke a desire for revenge, create mythologies of martyrdom, or feed paranoia and secretiveness (which makes the movements even harder to penetrate for reasons of either understanding motivations or foiling actions).."

That ofcourse was 9 years ago and many will conclude that the USIP has been proved right in its assessment that the LTTE, given its broad base of support, was 'unlikely to go away simply through government-applied force'. But then Mr.Jayatilleke may regard  the United States Institute for Peace as a 'part of the West's civil society pets'. And he may well be right. It is not that interventions by NGOs like the USIP and Western state actors are benign and neutral. After all, the USIP in its study conspicuously failed to distinguish between 'terrorism' and 'lawful armed resistance'. And it appears that the USIP was not troubled by views such as those expressed by UN  Special Rapporteur, Kalliopi K. Koufa, in Terrorism and Human Rights -

"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... ...The Special Rapporteur has analysed the distinction between armed conflict and terrorism, with particular attention to conflicts to realize the right to self-determination and civil wars. This is an issue of great international controversy, in need of careful review due to the “your freedom fighter is my terrorist” problem and the increase in the rhetorical use of the expression “war on terrorism”, labelling wars as terrorism, and combatants in wars as terrorists, and it has an extremely undesirable effect of nullifying application of and compliance with humanitarian law in those situations, while at the same time providing no positive results in combating actual terrorism...."

Presumably it was not the USIP view that  there were no circumstances in which a people ruled by an alien people may lawfully resort to arms to liberate themselves.

Be that as it may, the USIP was right when it said that the Sri Lanka government in the 1990s wrongly concluded 'from its victory over the Maoist JVP' that law enforcement and compulsion can end a struggle for freedom. It seems that the Sri Lanka government now takes the view that Angola (a civil war but not a secessionist movement) and land locked Chechnya (surrounded on three sides by Russia and on the fourth side by Georgia) are today's success stories for 'law enforcement and compulsion'.

It is strange that on the one hand, Sinhala ethno nationalists  justify their assimilative agenda in the island of Sri Lanka by pointing out that the Sinhala people are a minority in the Indian region, that they have a so called 'minority complex', and  that they have fears rooted in the history of the Chola empire and the associated  Tiger emblem - and on the other hand, the same Sinhala ethno nationalists ignore the togetherness of more than 70 million Tamils living in many lands (including Tamil Nadu) in their pronouncements that the struggle for Tamil Eelam can be annihilated by resort to 'the guns, men and women of the Sri Lankan armed forces.'  The story of the little boy who cried wolf may come to haunt Sinhala ethno nationalists bent on genocide in Tamil Eelam. Tamil Eelam is not Angola. Tamil Eelam is not landlocked Chechnya.

The people of Tamil Eelam have, for the past several decades, struggled for  freedom from oppressive alien Sinhala rule without depending on the 'civil society pets' of either the West or India - but with the growing support of their own brothers and sisters (their udanpirapukal) living in Tamil Nadu, in Karnataka, in Malaysia, in Singapore, in South Africa and in many lands around the world. Mr. Jayatilleka's remarks will serve to remind Tamils living everywhere, yet again, of something which Aurobindo said a century ago -

"...The mistake which despots, benevolent or malevolent, have been making ever since organised states came into existence and which, it seems, they will go on making to the end of the chapter, is that they overestimate their coercive power, which is physical and material and therefore palpable, and underestimate the power and vitality of ideas and sentiments. A feeling or a thought, the aspiration towards liberty, cannot be estimated in the terms of concrete power, in so many fighting men, so many armed police, so many guns, so many prisons, such and such laws, ukases, and executive powers. But such feelings and thoughts are more powerful than fighting men and guns and prisons and laws and ukases. Their beginnings are feeble, their end is mighty. But of despotic repression the beginnings are mighty, the end is feeble... But the despot will not recognise this superiority, the teachings of history have no meaning for him. ..He is deceived also by the temporary triumph of his repressive measures.. and thinks,

“Oh, the circumstances in my case are quite different, I am a different thing from any yet recorded in history, stronger, more virtuous and moral, better organised. I am God’s favourite and can never come to harm.” 

And so the old drama is staged again and acted till it reaches the old catastrophe..."

It may be that Mr.Jayatilleka believes that the circumstances in Sri Lanka's case 'are quite different', that Sinhala Sri Lanka is  a 'different thing from any yet recorded in history, stronger, more virtuous and moral, better organised' and that Sinhala Sri Lanka is 'God’s favourite and can never come to harm.'  But to many Tamils it will appear that Sri Lanka's  ethno nationalist Sinhala leaders seeking to conquer and rule Tamil Eelam are acting out the old drama 'till it reaches the old catastrophe'.

Again, more than 70 million Tamils living in many lands whose memories may not extend to a century ago will be reminded of something which Velupillai Pirabakaran said more recently -

".. Victory in war is not determined by the size of an army or the quality of armaments. Factors like unshakable determination, heroism, and desire for liberation determine victory...Truth stands as our witness. History stands as our guide...  What do we demand? Why are we fighting? We want to live with peace and honour and independence from others in our land, historically our habitat, and our homeland where we were born and where we grew up. We are also humans; a human society with fundamental human rights. We are a separate ethnic community with a separate cultural life and history. We demand that we should be accepted as a human society with distinctive characteristics. We have the right to decide our political life by ourselves. On the basis of this right, we like to establish a system of government where we rule ourselves.... We are no racists and no violent war-mongers; we do not regard the Sinhala people as our enemies or as our opponents. We are no enemies of democratic principles. We fight only for the fundamental democratic political rights of our people..."

That Mr. Jayatilekka may see the views of  Velupillai Pirabakaran as the expression of 'Tiger fascism' is ofcourse understandable -  understandable that is, from the point of a view of a propagandist for a Sinhala Buddhist ethno nation with a Sinhala flag, with an unrepealed Sinhala Only Act,  with Buddhism enthroned in the Constitution, and with the Sinhala 'Sri Lanka' name which it gave itself unilaterally in 1972 - a Sinhala Buddhist ethno nation which dare not speak its name, which lives a lie by denying its existence and which seeks to masquerade as a multi ethnic plural society and pass itself off as a 'Sri Lankan civic nation'. 

Mr. Jayatilekka is concerned that the (UTHR-J)

'has joined several other Tamil dissident groupings in showing extreme distress at the thought of military defeat of the LTTE. These elements just do not want the Sri Lankan state to win.'

Mr.Jayatilekka may want to ask himself the reason for this 'extreme distress'. These Tamil dissident groupings which had been nurtured by Sri Lanka during these many years, know only too well that if the LTTE is militarily defeated, Sri Lanka will have no further use for them - and that they will be left only with a begging bowl, pleading for crumbs at their master's table. Hence their 'extreme distress'.

And here, let us make clear that the struggle for Tamil Eelam is not about what the LTTE may have done or may not have done.

Those states who have banned the LTTE, so that each of them may advance its own strategic interests given the uneasy balance of power in the Indian Ocean region, may want to recognise that they may ban the LTTE but they cannot ban the aspiration of a people for freedom. The struggle for Tamil Eelam is about the democratic right of the people of Tamil Eelam to rule themselves in their homeland. If  democracy means the rule of the people by the people for the people then it surely follows as night follows day that no one people may rule another. Self determination and democracy are one - and inseparable. The struggle for Tamil Eelam is a struggle for freedom from alien Sinhala rule. And it is this which Gandhian leader S.J.V.Chelvanayagam proclaimed 33 years ago on 7 February 1975 in Kankesanturai in Tamil Eelam -

"Throughout the ages the Sinhalese and Tamils in the country lived as distinct sovereign people till they were brought under foreign domination. It should be remembered that the Tamils were in the vanguard of the struggle for independence in the full confidence that they also will regain their freedom. We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon."

"It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people. These governments have been able to do so only by using against the Tamils the sovereignty common to the Sinhalese and the Tamils."

"I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free."

And that is why more than 70 million Tamils living in many lands will welcome Mr.Dayan Jayatilleka's sincerely felt pronouncements because his belligerent frankness will serve to broaden and deepen support for the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam to expel the 'guns, men and women of the Sri Lankan armed forces' from the Tamil homeland - and free Tamil Eelam from alien Sinhala rule. More than 70 million Tamils living in many lands will be moved to revisit the words of Velupillai Pirabakaran -

"உலகெங்கும் தமிழன் பரந்து வாழ்ந்தாலும்.. தமிழீழத்திலேதான் தனியரசு உருவாகும் வரலாற்றுப் புறநிலை தோன்றியுள்ளது..."

"Though Tamils live in many lands and across distant seas, it is in Tamil Eelam that the historical situation has arisen for the creation of an independent Tamil state."

New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) A negotiated end to Sri Lanka's dragging conflict is still possible but not before the Tamil Tigers are 'verifiably demilitarised and democratised,' says one of the most high-profile diplomats of that country.

Dayan Jayatilleka also said in an interview that the conflict would only end when Velupillai Prabhakaran, the elusive and feared leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), gets 'demilitarised one way or another'.

Jayatilleka, who enjoys a close rapport with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was asked if there was any room for a possible negotiated settlement to end a war that has claimed over 70,000 lives since 1983 and still rages.

'Yes but not with the Tigers, and certainly not with Prabhakaran,' the 51-year-old said over email from Geneva, where he is Sri Lanka's permanent representative to the UN and other international organisations based in Switzerland.

Referring in some detail to the 1991 assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE suicide bomber, Jayatilleka said of Prabhakaran: 'With him there can be no peace.'

'A peaceful, negotiated settlement is possible only if it recognises that any solution has to be within a single, united Sri Lanka, and the Tigers are verifiably demilitarised and democratised.'

Jayatilleka is a political analyst and academic who served briefly as a minister in the provincial government in Sri Lanka's northeast when Indian troops were deployed there in 1987-90.

He was posted in Geneva in June 2007 as fighting escalated between the military and the LTTE and Sri Lanka came under intense attack over rampant human rights violations.

Asked how the war in Sri Lanka will end, Jayatilleka asserted: 'It will all end the way it all ended in Angola after decades of conflict when (rebel leader) Jonas Savimbi was killed by the Angolan armed forces.

'It will all end the way it did in Chechnya when the Russian army got Djokar Dudayev, defeated the Chechen separatist militia in fierce combined arms warfare... Angola and Chechnya are peaceful and prosperous now.

'It cannot end while Prabhakaran has not been demilitarised one way or another.'

Claiming that Sri Lanka's 'human rights record, our record of civilian casualties, compares favourably with that of the West in theatres where its armed forces' operate, he said the West's use of human rights as an instrument was 'most disturbing'.

'The issue of Kosovo (and the de facto separate status of Iraqi Kurdistan) reveal that the West is not averse to the splintering of existing states and the carving out of new ones.'

Jayatilleka added: 'The West does not seem to believe in a brotherhood of legitimate states which are besieged by terrorism. For the West, terrorism is a problem only if the anti-state movement in question claims to be Islamic or Leftist.'

Comment by tamilnation.org  On the 'brotherhood of legitimate states'...

"...Let us accept the fact that states have lifecycles similar to those of human beings who created them. The lifecycle of a state might last for many generations, but hardly any Member State of the United Nations has existed within its present borders for longer than five generations. The attempt to freeze human evolution has in the past been a futile undertaking and has probably brought about more violence than if such a process had been controlled peacefully...Restrictions on self-determination threaten not only democracy itself but the state which seeks its legitimation in democracy"  Self Determination & the Future of Democracy  - Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein, 2001

In contrast, most Asian countries back Sri Lanka on the issue of human rights, he said, because 'they are not possessed of colonial or neo-colonial habits of centuries', because they believe in 'non-interference in the internal affairs of others', and also because they 'know what it is to experience the threat of secession and terrorism'.

Comment by tamilnation.org 

"The Third World has declared a geographic war on the Fourth World. This global conflict is assisted by First and Second World states.. National liberation movements are not the activities of small groups of isolated individuals, though state authorities opposed to them frequently describe them as such for propaganda purposes. They are the struggle of rebellious nations against foreign invaders .. To defend their nations from being annihilated, many peoples have taken up arms and engaged in wars of national liberation. To understand armed national liberation movements, it is necessary to strip away the camouflage terms and explanations that states use to hide their true nature... Instead of identifying them as patriots or freedom fighters battling oppression and injustice and seeking the liberation of their people, they usually refer to them as "terrorists." Every nation people that has resisted state domination or invasion has been accused of being terrorists. But armed national self-preservation or self-defense is not "terrorism" or "banditry"." National Liberation Movements in Global Perspective - Dr. Jeff Sluka

Jayatilleka accused the University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna (UTHRJ), a respected rights group, of 'becoming part of the West's civil society pets... It has joined several other Tamil dissident groupings in showing extreme distress at the thought of military defeat of the LTTE.

'These elements just do not want the Sri Lankan state to win... They must comprehend that Tiger fascism cannot be defeated by unarmed Tamil expatriate dissidents... It can only be defeated by the guns, men and women of the Sri Lankan armed forces and their Tamil partners.'




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