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‘War won’t solve problem’ By Chinthaka Fernando

Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero

Chief incumbent, Naga Viharaya, Kotte, Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero said that even if we could win this war militarily we couldn’t win the underlying political problem by military means. "War is only one part of this whole issue. There is an underlying political problem. We might win the war. But that won’t solve the underlying political problem. Even some war veterans like late Gen. Kobbekaduwa said that he could win the war, but political negotiation should take place to solve that underlying problem," he said.

He also believes that the support of the UNP is inevitable in arriving at a solution.

Following are excerpts:

Q. Ven. Thero , what do you think of the current situation in the country ?

A: Yes, now we can see an uncertainty in everything and everywhere. We cannot fathom as to what would happen in the next minute. The government was pushed to this type of a situation even if the government doesn’t like it. Because all our leaders including President J. R. Jaye-wardene, President Premadasa, President Kumaratunga and Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe tried hard to solve this matter amicably with the LTTE.

All of them put in their maximum effort honestly. They did a lot of sacrifices. Those people also used the maximum international influence to solve this matter. But LTTE never wanted to solve this problem amicably. Instead they grew day by day and became a deadly terrorist organisation. LTTE never stood for peace. They even killed all the people who demanded them to accept peace such as Rajiv Gandhi, Kethesh Loganathan, Neelan Thiruchelvam, Lakshman Kadirgamar etc.

Through these incidents the LTTE has clearly shown their dislike for peace. Killing of Loganathan is a message sent by the LTTE in protest of peace. So this developed day by day and this war became very brutal day by day. Small children were killed, monks were killed and large masses of people were killed such as in the Kebithigollewa incident. And the closing down of Mawilaru anicut is the culmination of the LTTE’s brutality.

As a nation we never withhold water to anyone, even to the enemy. Here the LTTE stopped giving water not to its enemy but to innocent farmers. Given this kind of a situation how could a responsible government just wait and act blind? The duty of a government is to protect its people. Therefore the government had to fight. But LTTE purposely dragged the government in to this. The government has clearly stated that they are for peace and they still stand by that.

It is the LTTE that always denounces peace. Going for a war is a very dangerous thing. It wastes valuable human lives and assets. But to give water to these 15,000 farmers government had to fight and defeat the LTTE. With the defeat of Mawilaru the LTTE has now gone berserk. Now they are attacking everywhere they could including Jaffna.

So the government can’t stay without fighting when they are being attacked and they fight back. The President has clearly indicated that he always wants peace and this is only a retaliation for the LTTE attacks. However all these incidents have finally created an intense war situation in the country.

Lots of small children had been killed. The LTTE still rejects that the school in Pudukkudiyiruppu is a military training centre. But it is actually a military training centre. Most of the LTTErs who died recently were female child soldiers.

That shows a lot of forced child conscription is going on. When someone attacks you with arms you have to fire back, even though she is a child, because she still is a soldier of the enemy.

The LTTE still has the opportunity to go for a negotiated settlement. The government also should keep in mind that the consensus of the UNP is essential in bringing in a permanent solution to this problem.

Q: Do you think that this problem could be solved militarily?

A: Of course not. War is only a part of this whole issue. There is an underlying political problem here. We might win the war. But that won’t solve the underlying political problem. Even some war veterans like late Gen. Kobbekaduwa said that he could win the war but political negotiation should take place to solve that underlying problem.

That negotiation shouldn’t happen only between the government and the LTTE. LTTE is not the sole representative of the Tamils and there are other Tamil organisations as well. In this negotiation we should bring all those Tamil organisations and also the Muslim faction together.

Q: There is a perception that people in the south are very happy with the military strikes that are taking place and they do not consider the woes of Tamil people in those areas who are getting affected. What is your view on this?

A: As a person I denounce the killing of any human being, be he a Sinhalese, a Tamil or a Muslim. Our conscience is not that obnoxious to be happy when a person is killed, irrespective of any race. But it is inevitable that people get killed in a war. What we should work towards is to minimise the harm and finish this as soon as possible to start talks.

This is a guerrilla war. So if anyone thinks that we could win this war overnight easily then it is a myth. If guerrilla wars were that easy to win then we would have already won it. These winning incidents are like temporary pleasures.

But there is a good thing that has happened out of the recent attacks. LTTE had overestimated themselves as being very powerful. But these attacks showed them their weakness. It’s high time that Pirapaharan realises his weakness and comes for a negotiated solution. If we think logically, Pirapaharan is the biggest enemy of Tamil people in this country. He devastated the Tamil lifestyle. In the north Tamil children haven’t received a proper education for 25 years.

Earlier we had 12% of Tamil people in Sri Lanka but Pirapaharan reduced it to 4%. Those Tamils who fled the country would never return. Therefore he should cease his military activities at least now without destroying any Tamils further. Even according to Lord Buddha no one would win in a war. Both parties would lose.

Q: Recently there was an anti-war demonstration in the city which several Buddhist monks interrupted leading to ugly scenes. In your view who was at fault here?

A: This is a democratic country. We should respect the other person’s freedom of expression. No one has the right to disrupt other’s activities. So those who disrupted the rally have violated democracy. This is not the first time that happened. In 1994 we had a rally in Heda Medura demanding a free and fair election to which a gang came and attacked.

So those monks who went there in protest must have clearly known that a fight would erupt .

Q: Is it acceptable for a Buddhist monk to create chaos?

A: It is not acceptable not only for a Buddhist but for any sane human being. No one has the right to go and disrupt other’s work. These monks have indirectly helped those anti-war people by giving them more publicity through these kinds of activities. They give more publicity to the LTTE by protesting against them in these undemocratic ways.

Q: Do you think that Buddhist monks should get involved in parliamentary politics of this nature and does it not go against Buddha’s teachings?

A: Actually the whole monk generation got degraded due to parliamentary politics. They committed to the principles of political parties, which are very much lower than the principles Lord Buddha preached. Because of this party politics monks are divided and started criticising each other. Now every political party has a group of monks to back them up. This is an utter shame because monks should be in a very much superior place than the politicians.

Q: Is there any disciplinary action that could be taken against the monks who bring disrepute to the religion? Some thing like a Sangadhikarana.

A: There is no such thing. We’ve been asking for a Sangadhikarana but it never materialised.

Q: What do you think the Buddhist monks should do at the moment?

A: All the Mahanayake Theros should get together and put forward proper guidelines to be followed by all the Bhikkus in the island, shedding all the party politics. Actually the intervention of Mahanayake Theros should be more in the future than what it is now.

Leader Publications (Pvt) Ltd.
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August 23, 2006 - Posted by | Media Journalism, News, News and politics, South Asia, World News

1 Comment »

  1. i like your opinion

    Comment by akhil | September 17, 2006 | Reply

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