|Designating terrorists as the "sole representative of a
By Shamindra Ferdinando
What would have happened if the murderous JVP succeeded in forcing political parties in the south to designate the party as the " sole representative of the people", outside the North-East in the late 1980s.
What would have happened if the UNP, the SLFP and the left parties, particularly the United Socialist Alliance [USA], that faced savage JVP terror squads took to the streets demanding that the JVP be designated the " sole representative of the people".
The JVPs campaign of death and destruction failed to silence UNP, SLFP and USA politicians. Despite death threats, they continued to air their views. Many suffered at the hands of JVP death squads whose terror did not succeed in coercing the countrys major political parties to surrender. The UNP quite rightly took tough measures to crush the JVP terrorism.
If the JVP succeeded as the LTTE did just a few weeks before parliamentary elections in last December, it would have been catastrophic. "It would have been a disaster," says an army officer, a veteran of many fierce confrontations in the northern theatre in the Eelam War Two, who implies that there was no big difference between the JVP and the LTTE. "Both wanted to silence their opponents," he says, expressing the belief that the LTTE succeeded in having the ultimate recognition from their opponents. They have been designated the " sole representative of the Tamil-speaking people". What about the Muslims? Well they can keep their mouths shut without compelling the LTTE to punish them for disagreeing with the belief that only the LTTE has the right to speak for minorities.
SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem has been told in no uncertain terms that his party would not have anything to contribute when the government and the LTTE sit down for talks in the coming months, if not weeks. "Hakeem knows the danger," a party source said while reminding that the recent attack on the SLMC leader by the TULF-led Tamil National Alliance [TNA] over the formers apparent role in persuading US ambassador in Colombo to issue a statement critical of the LTTE, was evidence of their feelings towards the Muslim community in the North-East. Despite some SLMC leaders joining Thamil Pongu campaign, the community, I am sure would never forget the way they were forced out of the North-East over a decade ago. Indiscriminate attacks on mosques and villages claimed the lives of hundreds of Muslims.
The TNA that plays a leading role in the Tamil Pongu rallies aimed at justifying the LTTE war for a separate state in the North-East, designated the LTTE sole representative of the Tamil-speaking people. The first official announcement was made in Colombo. Guess who attended the press briefing at a Colombo five star hotel where the announcement was made? TULF veteran Murugesu Sivasithamparam, a man who saw dozens of political colleagues being wiped out by LTTE assassins who struck indiscriminately on the orders of their masters in the North-East. Sivasithamparam was not alone. Many TULF veterans and key leaders of the TELO, EPRLF [Suresh Premachandran faction] and the ACTC who were aware of the LTTEs brutal record were also involved in the process that resulted in the worlds bloodiest terrorist group being designated sole representative of the Tamil-speaking people in Sri Lanka.
Last week, the TNA scored another victory for the LTTE when Premier Ranil Wickremesinghes government agreed to postpone local government elections in the North-East scheduled to take place on March 25. The LTTE wanted the polls put off. But they did not voice their demand directly. Instead, the TNA was asked to talk on behalf of the "sole representative of the Tamil-speaking people."
Now, North-East polls have been rescheduled for September 25 this year although Sinhala electorates in the Digamadulla electoral district will poll as scheduled on March 25.
Whatever the TNA and other political parties, including the CWC, do to please the LTTE, that would not give them any advantage over other Tamil groups when Tamil-speaking people go to the polls in the North-East and in Up-country areas. When the time comes, the LTTE would do what it always did: Silence political opponents.
To make matters worse, the Norwegian brokered MoU on an indefinite cease-fire in the North-East, would result in all Tamil groups that work alongside the security forces for over a decade, being disarmed.
The prospect of LTTE moving against other political parties, particularly the TULF that would pose a formidable political threat to the LTTE in any kind of election in the North-East or outside, reminds me of a brief meeting I had with the veteran TULF leader Vettivelu Yogeswaran in the second week of May 1988 in Colombo. One time president of the Ceylon Tamils Overseas League in the UK and Jaffna District, MP Yogeswaran was a jubilant man. He claimed that the TULF leaders, A. Amirthalingam, Murugesu Sivasithamparam and R. Sampanthan were to return to North-East Sri Lanka after the party reached an agreement with the LTTE with regard to their return to politics. In a lead story headlined TULF leaders return on Monday that appeared on May 12 1988 issue, The Island revealed the TULF-LTTE agreement.
Yogeswaran was convinced that the LTTE would permit the TULF to engage in politics. He thought the truce between the LTTE and President Ranasinghe Premadasas government would prevent further LTTE killings. He was wrong.
Yogeswaran, who talked of the two parties ironing out their differences in talks held in India, was shot dead along with Amirthalingam on July 13, 1989 in Colombo.
It was evident that the LTTE would never hesitate to break whatever agreements the organisation reached with local or international parties as long as it serves the group.
But the TULF flatly declined to openly identify the LTTE as the group responsible for the killings. They always maintained that all other Tamil groups except the LTTE should be disarmed. Under the MoU that came into operation on February 22, the government would have to disarm other Tamil groups thus meeting another demand of the LTTE and the TNA.
The TULF leaders, who kept their mouths tightly shut, approached Sarojini Yogeswaran, the wife of Vettivelu Yogeswaran when they won the Jaffna Municipal Council in early 1998. She was asked to take over as Mayor of Jaffna. The TULF implied that they were in touch with the LTTE. The poor woman was sent to Jaffna where the LTTE hit squads were waging a bloody war against the security forces who had control of the peninsula. The LTTE did to Sarojini what they did to her husband years ago. She was shot dead at point blank range at her unguarded home in Jaffna. The assassins escaped.
Four months later, the LTTE blew up her replacement along with over a dozen others, including the Jaffna security forces commandant. The TULF declined to blame the LTTE for these killings. Instead they talked of the LTTE sending a so-called signal to major political parties that the North-East crisis needs a political solution. What a way to send a signal, one may ask. But that was the way the LTTE used to send messages, over the years, killing their own people while their recognised political leaders kept on talking about harassment and military oppression of the government armed forces.
If you go through records maintained by police headquarters and various political parties, you would be surprised to find out that almost all the Tamil politicians and key political activists, some of whom had worked for the UNP and the SLFP, were killed over the years by the LTTE.
Except for a few, including PLOTE leader Dharmalingham Siddarthans father, a MP who represented a northern electorate.
But, the LTTE, the TNA and the international community want other groups disarmed. The TNA wants the LTTE as "sole representative of the Tamil-speaking people."
The LTTE took advantage of the cease-fire, its units had with President Premadasas government between April 1989 - June 1990, to assassinate several key politicians. The victims included T. Ganeshalingham, provincial minister for North-East and EPRLF MP, Sam Thambimuttu [killed in Colombo along with his wife].
LTTE assassins also struck in Kodambakkam, Madras on June 19 killing P. Kirubakaran, former Finance Minister of the Indian installed North-East administration of Varatharaja Perumal.
The list is too long. Hundreds of political activists were killed. The victims included many local government-level politicians, who were killed after winning elections held under the previous administration.
There was nothing wrong in the LTTE returning to open politics. But it would not be right to designate the LTTE or any other party as sole representative of the Tamil-speaking people. As mentioned earlier, what would have happened if the JVP, responsible for cold-blooded killings of their opponents whose only crime happened to be supporters of the UNP, the SLFP or the USA, succeeded in getting a name tag: sole representative of the people in the south.
Politicians engaged in the controversial Thamil Pongu rallies in the North-East as part of their campaign in support of the LTTEs bid to force the government to de-proscribe the organisation ahead of peace talks, will be at the receiving end in the coming months.
The LTTE will treat them [Tamil politicians] the way they treat the people in the North-East. The LTTE has been able to continue with a campaign of terror in the North-East while government leaders turn the other way fearing problems if they put pressure on the LTTE to end their terror tactics. Identifying the governments dilemma, the LTTE has begun raiding areas outside the North-East to collect money and material. Last week armed LTTE cadres raided Manampitiya, a few miles away from Polonnaruwa town.
The TNA and all other politicians, who talk as if the LTTE was on its way to secure the Nobel peace prize, keep silent about the ongoing LTTE terror campaign in the North-East. They have ignored repeated calls for their intervention. They would remember their folly only when the LTTE turns their guns on them in the coming months. They would not be able to say a word or seek the international communitys help after white washing the LTTE since the government and the LTTE established open contacts after the parliamentary elections victory in last December.
|NEWS | OPINION | BUSINESS | EDITORIAL | CARTOON | SPORTS|