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Back Blast -The Mad Men of the Wanni

By Major General (Retd.) Lalin Fernando

"If you are not prepared to pay the price for peace be prepared to pay the price for war"- Harry Truman –former President of the USA

(This was written before the terrorist outrage at Kebetigollewa which killed 61 bus passengers and wounded 80 on 15 June 2006)

The LTTE is going criminally insane. Oslo in June 2006 was its certification. It tried unsuccessfully to blackmail first the SLMM and then the EU. It frequently attempts to blackmail the citizens of Sri Lanka and the GOSL mainly by increasing acts of terror and spewing threats hiding behind the almost mythical limitations of the infamous CFA. It has succeeded in blackmailing a part of the Colombo business community for over 20 years to provide it with funds. It threatens them with sudden death, the treatment it reserves for what it calls ‘traitors’. Some others voluntarily and shamelessly became traitors to their country.

This latter lot keeps joyfully reciting the mantra "I told you so" every time an atrocity is committed by the LTTE. It is the chorus of their ‘hit’ song. If they are to be believed they have been given or been offered commercial concessions in the uncleared areas with promises of more in the diamond years to come. All they have to do is to act as a cunning fifth column insidiously weakening the will of the citizens to resist the LTTE. Their propaganda would rival that of Goebels in many cases for the same physical reasons. They are making love to lunatics.

The threats of the LTTE should however not be taken lightly as they have a history of grossly irrational conduct which being unrecognised initially and improperly treated for over 20 years has led to insanity. It also has the ultimate weapon of terror, the suicide bomber. It has however lost its stripes and is no longer a tiger. It is more a hyena. It has now become an assembly line for suicide cadres targeting military and civilians – Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim – with barbaric, horrific and indiscriminate brutality. The LTTE will unleash its cadres at places and times of its own choosing.

Being kept on the shelf by the CFA they were becoming soft. So what could be better than to let loose these mad dogs of war? They must have the thrill of killing to keep up their blood lust. Peace is anathema to them. Stocks too, mainly kidnapped, are becoming hard to find. This situation panics them. There was a time when it was able to brain wash its women especially that paradise was one thundering big bang. They queued up for it.

As much as the bombers are committing suicide, so is the LTTE, slowly but surely, as long as it continues to use terror as a weapon to gain its unattainable goal. Its leaders can never surface anywhere out side of the Wanni unless they obtain a pardon for crimes against humanity. Being forced underground they despair and are driven crazy. They believe every one of them who has murdered civilians or was a constable in the SL Police has diplomatic immunity and is equal to a SL cabinet minister. One calls himself Daya Master! They now want to teach the EU. They have promised to avenge themselves for every slight they have suffered.

The richer, better educated Tamils are filling up the mushrooming apartments in Colombo’s little Jaffna, Wellawatte. Its sky line rivals any other part of the capital. Its banks are brimming with jewellery from Jaffna. The Tamils are enjoying life far away from the ripping jaws of their self proclaimed saviour. Many Tamils who are domiciled abroad have also built or bought apartments there. Some of the poorer Tamils sadly seek refuge in India. None however will willingly choose to live in the Wanni sacrificing their children and themselves for the megalomaniac who rules there.

Take no comfort from this. While hundreds of thousands of Tamils have decided they would be very safe in Colombo, the LTTE is going haywire. And becoming doubly dangerous. Its dwindling knife and axe wielding, grenade throwing and claymore mine setting supporters all live within the ‘70% of the land area’ it says represents its ‘traditional homeland’. This ‘homeland’ today probably has more wild animals in it, less ‘Tigers’ than humans. It knows it cannot win, so it has nothing to lose by encouraging its followers to continue committing atrocities and thereby welcome death by suicide. It also tries to justify every act of terror while denying it. This binds its adherents to the leaders in a mutual pact of guilt. It also makes them delirious. In their own setting they have gone stark raving mad.

The EU’s declaration of the LTTE as a terrorist organization should not have sent the LTTE into a spin. They tried to sail as close to the wind as possible from the inception of the CFA in 2002. They did this with ever increasing and distressingly provocative acts of terror. They avoided being correctly labelled even as their actions time and time again were unadulterated terrorist – using violence against unarmed civilians sparing neither children nor women. The EU’s primary concern appeared to be to prevent the outbreak of hostilities. Many in the EU must remember what happened when their former leaders attempted to appease Hitler, Praba’s idol.

The EU hesitated to take the final step. The LTTE exploiting this reluctance continued recklessly within what they believed would be the tolerance levels of the EU. After all the EU did not act when Tiruchelvam was assassinated, Kumaratunge was nearly killed and Kadirigamar was. The EU acted only when its own peace monitors were threatened. As former colonial masters, they may still believe that what they say and do still has a compelling effect on the 3rd world. The GOSL too did not exactly counter the 4,500 cease fire violations by the LTTE against just over 200 by the state forces. Vested interests and petty jealousies of the political leaders in SL came into play.

The LTTE exploited the splits and contradictions. The GOSL gave a very clear signal that it would not retaliate or even rebuke the LTTE unless war was thrust upon them. This over cautious reaction opened the flood gates. The LTTE got away with murder and more murder even as the GOSL stood by supinely in the hope that a ‘very bad peace was better than a good war’. There is no national consensus on how to resolve the problem. While the GOSL pussy footed, the LTTE brazenly murdered its political opponents. First in the Wanni and Jaffna and then in broad day light even in Colombo. The GOSL, ever conscious of the conditional financial aid (US $ 4 Billion) that the ‘International community’ offered, stood aside without even a whisper of protest when the LTTE chose to enter government controlled territory to attempt to annihilate its own now rebellious Eastern Commander Karuna and his cadres in 2004. Even in Afghanistan where wars haven’t stopped since Alexander’s times, their code of honour compels them to offer an enemy refuge – even if it is for one night. Karuna’s men were firstly our countrymen and certainly not our enemies in 2004. They sought refuge. We gave them none. Stinking shame.

So what is our code even if we do not have one of honour? We should have taken proper care of the wounded of both sides during the hostilities and now. We should have treated prisoners at least according to the Geneva conventions if not better as the captured are citizens of our land and not a foreign enemy. It has still not dawned on those concerned that a code of behaviour will have a salutary effect on the level of violence being applied. True the cyanide capsule is a trade mark of the LTTE which it proudly exhibits for the BBC. By wearing it they may want to remain beyond the pale of human conduct to ensure that their brutality which sets them apart is not diluted. They might not accept the Geneva conventions even as a reciprocal gesture, but no matter. The GOSL has to set an example always. Let it then observe the results.

This way trust can be built where It hardly exists. One day this violence will stop. When it does, reconciliation will be less difficult if a code of conduct has been followed during the hostilities. We should start now and outflank those who pray that we continue making mistakes so that we will not gain acceptance of the world community. The ICRC alone doggedly campaigned for such a humanitarian change over the years. The acid test of their efforts is now. Hopefully it would not have been in vain surely as far as the GOSL troops are concerned.

We however believed that worthless and totally illegal concessions would show our bona fides. So we flew in SLAF aircraft the very terrorists who destroyed part of our Air Force on the ground and many of it in the air. Talk about being taken for a ride. Again and again. This has thankfully stopped now.

The faster we decide that all talks on peace must only be between the two protagonists the better. They should also be held in Sri Lanka so that the will of the citizens cannot be ignored. If mutual trust is to built there should be no cheap publicity stunts either. Decisions taken with others in foreign lands will not endure. Haven’t we learned? Think Zimbabwe. Didn’t the South Africans manage so well on their own despite the inequities of apartheid?

It appeared that the GOSL was in the past in plain surrender mode. Its repeated frantic efforts to concentrate on its economy and not its sovereignty steered the LTTE to use blackmail. Further the GOSL had to look after its supporters too They thrashed the Inland Revenue department to the tune of 3.1 billion rupees of VAT ‘refunds’ and then further 40 billion rupees in GST refunds and became conduits for movement of LTTE’s finances. Pay hikes, duty free vehicles and gallivanting around the world for parliamentarians and their families, bus and train fare hikes for the public. So much for the economy for which we apparently must barter our sovereignty. Meanwhile the poor remain poor and 40% of Colombo lives in slums.

Hiding in deep in the inky blackness of the underground shelters and isolation of the jungles, avoiding contact with anyone who could reason out with them, never having to listen to dissent, the LTTE began to believe that they were omnipotent. They thought they could get away with murder. They crossed the line when they threatened the very European peace monitors they had worked so hard to bring into the equation. It had at that time believed the SLMM would tip the balance in its favour. The EU could no longer play the legendary Ostrich game even if it recently developed Dutch courage to sneer at both the LTTE and the GOSL. It had to take up the challenge that was posed by the LTTE if its credibility was not to evaporate completely. It did.

It may yet not have struck the Norwegians that the LTTE is no longer either the sole representative of the Tamils nor is it fighting for their rights. It is representative of its cadres and is fighting to protect its leaders. The LTTE are not and could now never be the sole representatives of the Tamils. Tamils have contributed immensely to the world and not only in arts, science and culture. Its leaders are people who have reached pre eminence in nearly every civilised endeavour of man. Its language is one of the oldest in the world. They certainly do not condone murder, rape and arson. When they were brutalised by government inspired if not controlled mobs in 1983 the LTTE emerged amongst many others as their God head.

They won the praise of nearly all the Tamils in their resistance to the GOSL. When the time came to resolve the problem they grew intractable from the start. They realised they would not be allowed to hijack a political victory over the other contenders. They began killing Tamil political leaders and all other former militants. They wanted power for themselves. The former militants who wanted a settlement were decimated. Tamil politicians were regularly murdered. The TULF President Anandasangree having survived unlike Ranjini Thiranagama has with the same undaunted courage of the brave spoken out strongly against the LTTE. Others fled. The Tamils realised that the LTTE struggle had become totally isolated from reality and acceptance the world over. What they needed was not what the LTTE wanted.

All over the world people who had respected the Tamils and sympathised with them now saw the LTTE in a different light. They were proscribed as terrorists all over the world. In the lands where Tamils had taken refuge the long arm of LTTE agents bullied and terrorised them to give financial support to its war effort. The overseas Tamils were never asked to help to bring about peace.

Prabakaran alone had all the power to decide how, what, where, why and when for the Tamils. His was a negation of the very ideals the Tamils had suffered for. By murdering Rajiv Gandhi, SL Tamils began to be ostracised and detested in the very India they considered their spiritual home. More than ever so in Tamilnadu the heartland of the Tamils. In 1983 carrying a SL Passport especially for a Sinhalese was deservedly a document of shame. Now identifying as a Tamil has ironically transferred the same shame to Tamils from SL, because of the intractable brutality and fascist ideas of Prabakaran. Who decides for the LTTE? Their one and only Praba.

The LTTE were admitted to be the sole representatives of the Tamils by the CFA. Then came Karuna’s breakaway. Despite big losses his men have become a mortal threat to the LTTE. The East is Karuna. The Wanni LTTE is contested so fiercely in the East that they need GOSL air transport to move their cadres North to East and vice versa. The SLMM finally declared that the sea is GOSL sovereign territory. The LTTE continues its very potent campaign of ambushes of GOSL troop and Sinhala villagers. Karuna using the same tactics as the LTTE in which no one was better than him, is a plague on them. The LTTE is cornered. It is therefore more dangerous. Praba the one time hero of the Tamils is being challenged by another hero, Karuna but no longer for the leadership of the Tamils. This time it is for territory, money and power.

Are these the true heroes of the Tamils? Both have recklessly taken on the International Community. Need thousands more lives be lost to ensure Praba can rule the Tamils? He will then continue to order more and more sacrifices from the dwindling human resources he has including children, the unborn and women while the vast majority of Tamils only desire peace. Do people like Siva Pasupathy, a former Attorney General accept Prabakaran’s leadership or does he want publicity or whatever he did not have before? Is raving mass madness an option for one of the most cultured people in the world? Was it not Hitler who lost all by similar madness? Apparently Hitler may be reborn here according to a parliamentarian who is notorious for looking in the wrong direction. He has said that killing dissenters is the work of a Hitler. He has forgotten that Hitler became notorious for killing 6 million Jews not even for burning the Reichstag or going to a war that killed 50 million people. He should look at the track record of the LTTE to see similarities.

Of course it was another organization which was responsible for the pogrom against the Tamils in 1983 and going to war that has to date killed 60,000 in this small country of ours. There are many other embarrassing and shocking comparisons. Both Praba and Hitler have had a preference for living underground. Both fear(ed) being assassinated by their own. Hitler killed his dissenting Generals by strangulating them. So even an Attorney, more so a General should be careful.

The GOSL too must tread very carefully. It must not antagonise the Tamils by any unlawful actions such as at Trincomalee and Jaffna whatever the provocation. It must punish any and all wrongdoers, immediately. It must give the Tamils what they must have. Quickly. It is their right, not a gift or bargaining point. They are equal citizens and must never be made to feel otherwise. Remember it is Murali who single handed won more respect and fame for us in the English speaking world of cricket than anyone else. He took away the negative publicity we have had for some time. Should he be given National treasure status? If the Tamils had to vote for a Tamil they believed brought them respect and affection, who of those mentioned above would they vote for? I know for whom the vast majority of Sri Lankans would vote.

Let us work to bring about an honourable settlement to the problems of the Tamils. Then the Sinhalese and the Muslims too would not be exploited by the cunning of the politicians and the traitorous machinations of a few big businessmen who are only greedy for money and power. Sunday Island


June 18, 2006 - Posted by | Media Journalism, News and politics, South Asia, Uncategorized, World News

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