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"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Democracy, Sri Lanka Style > Sri Lanka Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka On Democracy and the Beginning of the End

Democracy Continues, Sri Lanka Style...

Sri Lanka Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka
On Democracy, 'Multi Ethnic Plural Society'
and the Beginning of the End

19 July 2008 in the
Sri Lanka State Controlled Daily News

 "... I don�t think the people in the North and East are subjected to any injustice...

Monk... In any country the majority community is running the administration. We cannot prevent that situation. If a minority is ruling the majority that is a dangerous situation and it is a problem. That is an unrealistic situation. In any democratic country the majority should rule the country. This country will be ruled by the Sinhalese community which is the majority representing 74 percent of the population....We are almost at the beginning of the end. We have finished almost two thirds of the LTTE that�s about 9,000 of them which is a large number. One third of the war has to be fought. The tail enders of a cricket team do not perform the same way, like the middle order batsmen and the opening batsmen do."

Comment by tamilnation.org:  We are 'almost at the beginning' of whose end? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. And it is not a game.

"How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist
Before they're allowed to be free?
Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn't see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind,
The answer is blowin' in the wind
(Bob Dylan - Blowin' in the Wind)

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. And it is not a game.

Remember Sinhala Sri Lanka Deputy Defence Minister, General Ratwatte eleven years ago in December 1997 ?

"...Linking of the land based Main Supply Route (MSR) to Jaffna through Killinochchi would be achieved by February 4, next year (1998) - I will shake hands with Pirabaharan after we defeat him.. At any cost, we have to re-unify the country. Those who scoff at our plans are in for a shock.."

Remember Sinhala Sri Lanka Deputy Defence Minister, Ranjan Wijeratne 18 years ago in July 1990?

"The IPKF got rid of the hard core elements. What is left (of the LTTE) is the baby brigade of young boys and girls. . ..Now they (the LTTE) are running without their shoes out. Very soon their pants will go too. They will wet their pants when they meet my armed forces. There will be no LTTE or watch posts soon. (We will) flatten the LTTE" ...I am going all out for the LTTE. I never do anything in half measures."

Remember Velupillai Pirabaharan, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 1992?

"..We launched our struggle for self determination and political independence because of the systematic oppression of our people by the Sri Lankan state... It is the Sri Lanka government which has failed to learn the lessons from the emergence of the struggles for self determination in several parts of the globe and the innovative structural changes that have taken place... We are not warmongers who love violence. We want a permanent, stable and honourable peace.... We recognise the Sinhala nation. We accord a place of dignity  for the culture and heritage of the Sinhala people. We have no desire to interfere in any way with the national life of the Sinhala people or with their freedom and independence. We, the Tamil people, desire to live in our own historic homeland as an independent nation, in peace, in freedom and with dignity... One day, when our enemy knocks at our doors for peace, we will extend the hand of friendship."

And finally remember Sri Aurobindo in 1907?

"The mistake which despots 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.... 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..."

And so the old drama is staged again - and we are at the beginning of whose end? The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind. And it is not a game.

The Army Commander who is confident of bringing the war into a turning point discusses the situation with Defence Columnist Ranil Wijayapala

Almost two years have passed since Security Forces commenced offensive operations against the LTTE from Mavil Aru battle on July 26, 2006. Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka was sitting in his room after attending a Security Council meeting where he got the good news of the capture of Vidathalthivu in the North Western Coast by the troops attached to the 58 Division.

The Army Commander claims that they have been able to destroy two thirds of the military capabilities of the LTTE during these two years operations and the troops are at the beginning of the end in their war against the LTTE. He is confident that he can bring the war into turning point in August at the rate the Security Forces are advancing into Tiger territory.

He says the common masses have no choice but to fight against the LTTE if they want to see that the nation survives despite the economic hardships they have to face in the face of the soaring cost of living.

�Like any other country in the world where people have to fight wars to safeguard the territorial integrity of their countries they have to go through hardships. They have to spend a lot of money. They have to sacrifice. The Sinhala nation has to sacrifice if you want to protect the country and survive,� the Army Commander says.

He also totally rejected allegations levelled by some groups relating to recent attacks on journalists while stating that the media should act in a responsible manner according to accepted ethics.

Q: Almost two years have passed since the offensive operations against the LTTE began with the Mavil Aru battle. Where do we stand now ? Are we still at the beginning, in the middle or at the end?

A: The Mavil Aru battle started on July 26, 2006. We are almost at the beginning of the end. We have finished almost two thirds of the LTTE that�s about 9,000 of them which is a large number. One third of the war has to be fought. The tail enders of a cricket team do not perform the same way, like the middle order batsmen and the opening batsmen do.

Q: Does that mean that Security Forces have passed the difficult part of the war?

A: The LTTE capability wise has got depleted to a larger extent. Areas will start collapsing at one stage, now their strength is getting depleted and they have started to leave their vehicles behind. Last one week we recovered three LTTE vehicles. I don�t think the Army had ever recovered LTTE vehicles in the past.

Q: You mean that the war is now on fast track?

A: Looks like it is beginning to move fast. Every week we move about three kilometres unlike in the past.

Q: Is it possible to take LTTE strongholds in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu within this year?

A: We cannot give an exact time frame in capturing locations but at the rate the LTTE losing their cadres they have got weakened. They have lost one third of their capabilities. So we will see the way things are happening.

Q: You said you can take the ongoing military operations against the LTTE to a turning point by August this year. Are you confident in achieving that target?

A: Obviously we are nearing the turning point now, through the way LTTE is reacting. In another three to four months time you would see very clearly how the things change. Obviously once we capture Thunukkai and Mallavi it has to be a turning point. We are just four kilometres short of Thunukkai now. Once they lost the places like Thunukkai and Mallavi they have to admit the fact that things are changing.

Mallavi is something like an alternative hideout for Prabhakaran in the past. He had been living in Mullaitivu, Thunukkai or Mallavi. All the NGOs are operating from Mallavi. Now they have already lost that as civilians are not there anymore.

We have already gone 40 kilometres into the LTTE territory in the North. It is quite a long distance. Jaya Sikuru operation took two years to go to Mankulam. But in two years we cleared the East and also gone parallel to Mankulam. We are almost in line with Mankulam.

Q: Security Forces are giving figures saying that LTTE has lost more than 9,000 cadres. But they are managing to maintain a considerable strength with them. How can the LTTE manage to maintain this strength?

A: The LTTE forcibly recruited 3,000 cadres within this period. Then they deployed their political cadres and those who were serving in the Police have also been deployed in the battlefront after providing them with weapon training. Then it is justifiable they still have a 5,000 strength.

At the beginning of the war we knew that they had 2,000 strength in the East. Only 300 were able to survive. In the North we thought they had 7,000 cadres. But we feel they might have little more than that.

Q: How many more can they recruit?

A: They can get some more from forced conscriptions. But as I said they can get from political cadres. They will not be motivated. They have about another 200,000 civilians. Now we hear that they are training anybody over 15 years and below 50 years. But they cannot be motivated to fight a battle.

Q: According to your estimations what is the current strength of the LTTE?

A: The LTTE has a 5,000 strength at present. Out of that they have deployed 1500 in Muhamalai. The balance is deployed in the Wanni. Not all of them are on the battlefront. They include the administrative cadres, and Prabhakaran�s personal security personnel. Heavy guns are still with them. It is due to these heavy weapons our soldiers are getting killed and injured.

But they cannot use them effectively due to the military strategy we adopted in these battles. These heavy weapons will become a problem to them once the area gets constrained. Keeping them will be a big problem to them once we capture more areas in the North. They need places to keep them and have armours.

Q: You said that Security Forces have advanced some forty kilometres interior into the LTTE territory. But the LTTE managed to keep the civilian population with them. How have they managed to do so?

A: They have fairly a large area in the East of A-9 road. We have gone only towards Mullaitivu direction. On the West of A-9 road they are dominating over 50 per cent of the area. They can always keep on taking civilians back within the area.

If we push forward some more than the civilians will have to go into the areas where civilians are not normally supposed to go in to the North. Then we will see problems beginning in those areas. Now they have High Security Zones. Certain areas are demarcated out of bounds for civilians. They can�t do all these once civilians are pushed back some more.

Q: The Military had not touched the A-9 road during these military operations. Is there any specific reason for this?

A: We have to go on the A-9 road, then we�ll be leaving all the jungles to the LTTE. I don�t believe in sitting on the roads and leaving the jungles to the LTTE. It is better to have jungles for us and get the LTTE to sit on the roads. Once we have jungles we can go wherever we like at a stage. When we go towards the North you can see we are getting close to the A-9 road. If we continue the same frontage at some stage we will go almost upto A-9.

Q: The Security Forces despite their victories in the North have not been able to control Tiger activities down South, especially in Yala, Kataragama?

A: It was small group of Tigers who opened fire of the Kataragama bus. It was the same group who fired at the Police from a long distance. It is not a big problem for two or three terrorists to hide in jungles. We believe that they are coming towards this area from Kanchikudichchuaru jungles.

STF and Police have been deployed in these areas. Their strength will be increased in the coming months to control Tiger activities inside these jungles. The LTTE cannot maintain a bigger force and attack whatever the area they like in those areas. But for a small group, it is not a problem to operate in these jungles.

Q: What is the situation in Kanchikudichchuaru jungle?

A: A helicopter came under fire from that direction when President was attending a function.

According to our information around thirty Tiger cadres are operating inside the jungle. They are getting supplies from the Muslim and Tamil villages around them. Until we get rid of them things will remain the same.

I think the STF is going to be strengthened in that area very soon. Then they will lose the capability to operate inside these jungles. Even we will strengthen our presence their whilst engage in operations in the North. It is not a difficult task to control terror activities in the East. It will happen soon.

Q: We need more manpower to dominate the areas once we capture more areas in the North. Do we have enough manpower ?

A: We have over 3,000 recruits joining the Army every month. When we began the Army had 118,000. Now it has gone upto 162,000. So as we go on we will get enough manpower because of youth joining the Army with a high commitment. So, you don�t face any problem for manpower. We have created lots of new battalions - about 40 of them. Already there are about a reserve of 12,000 in Jaffna.

A reserve of about 30,000 operating in Vavuniya, Mannar and Welioya. I don�t think there will be a problem of holding the areas liberated by us.

Q: Foreign Media reported quoting you that the war will continue for at least another ten years. What is the story behind this?

A: All what I said was that the LTTE can continue as an insurgent as long as they get the support of Tamil chauvinists, extremists and the Tamil Diaspora. For example the terror organisation like Hisbullah can maintain their activities with a handful number of members like underworld gangs.

They can do terror acts once they get explosives and weapons. What I am saying is that such terror activities can exist. But we can win the war after destroying the military capabilities.

We can take the LTTE controlled areas under the Government control. But it will take a quite a long period to get rid of insurgents. That will be applied to any country in the world. To solve that kind of a situations we need to have a political solution. the President has already discussed these issues.

Q: You also believe in the fact that though LTTE is militarily defeated there should be a political solution to address this issue?

A: Through war we are destroying their military might. There are problems. For those political problems we need to have political solutions. But I don�t think that those problems are not similar to that is being raised by the LTTE.

As a Third World country each and every citizen of this country is facing problems. Politicians those who are trying to win the votes for their survival have blown these problems out of proportion to survive in politics.

I don�t believe that they are facing new problems. I don�t think the people in the North and East are subjected to any injustice. There is section of society whether they Sinhalese, Muslims or Tamils or whether they are living in the North, East or South suppressed due economic problems.

Though we give political solutions those politicians in the North and East cannot solve all the problems faced by the people living in the North and East. In any country the majority community is running the administration. We cannot prevent that situation. If a minority is ruling the majority that is a dangerous situation and it is a problem. That is an unrealistic situation.

In any democratic country the majority should rule the country. This country will be ruled by the Sinhalese community which is the majority representing 74 percent of the population. More than 50 per cent of the Tamil population is living in and around Colombo.

Sometimes they are living much better than the Sinhalese and Muslim community. Even today I am saying that they have not been subjected to injustices as claimed. Is that only the Tamil people living in the North and East are facing problems. The entire population living in the South too are facing the same problems like them.

Q: You have stated that the LTTE capability to fight as a conventional Army has been destroyed. On what basis are you making this statement ?

A: We have deprived them of their military capabilities to a great extent. During the last two years they have not attacked us using conventional methods. The LTTE too cannot defend their areas sticking to conventional methods. That is why they are withdrawing from some areas. Not only they have lost conventional military capabilities they have lost guerrilla warfare capabilities too.

They are fearing even the jungles. When we are moving inside jungles they used to create open areas clearing the jungles using bulldozers. They cannot boast of their guerrilla capabilities they had earlier.

The only tactics they can use to take the civilians as a shield to continue their fight against the military. If the civilian population is not there in the Wanni they would have had to flee from the area by this time. They are using these civilian population to get information from which direction the military is advancing and to lay mines, build bunkers, set trappings against the military.



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