|Markers of the Peace (read, Eelam) process
Times have changed, and how! On the 19th, LTTE cadres ran riot in Trincomalee, putting Sinhalese on house arrest, trying to take down the National Flag from the top of the clock tower, closing down schools and government offices, forcing school children to participate in LTTE-led marches, extorting money from businesses, banning fishermen from going to sea, and shouting anti-Sinhala slogans. The army was "negotiated" out of the town (thanks to the MoU) and the police was disarmed while Tamil Tribalists roamed free brandishing pistols. And we are told by the Hon. Minister of Defence, that the LTTE is actually interested in peace. We are told that a "solution" would be within a unitary framework. Well, honourable people, the LTTE is certainly not "acting according to plan".
The LTTE also held a similar show in Nuwara Eliya and plans to have one in Colombo as well. I remember the CWC Tribalist, Arumugam Thondaman, claiming some time ago that the upcountry was the "traditional homeland" of Tamils of Indian origin! He even threatened a "Zimbabwe-style" take over. The white man was an usurper in Zimbabwe. The Sinhalese, in these areas, were the "evicted". If theres going to be any "takeover", it has to be done by the Kandyan peasantry. As for a Pongu Thamil extravaganza in Colombo, all that needs to be said is that it would be nothing less than a calling for a bloodbath. The blood will be of the Sinhala Buddhists for the most part, I guarantee. Meanwhile Ranil Wickremesinghes sentiments on these things remain unknown.
If you still have any doubts about what the LTTE really wants, ask Thamil Chelvam. According to him, "The LTTE will achieve its goals through peaceful means". Two things are clear. The LTTE will not give up its goal of Eelam (and mind you, the 10% or so of the population that remains in these "traditional homelands" are to get almost half the island, accordingly). Two, Thamil Chelvam has a pretty obnoxious idea about what constitutes "peace" if the well documented military preparations of the LTTE since it allegedly ceased firing began three months ago.
There is more, of course. When the Pongu Thamil cultural show was held in Vavuniya, UNF Ministers, T. Maheswaran and Noordeen Mashoor felt it appropriate to participate under the LTTE banner of a carved Sri Lanka (almost 50% of the territory demarcated as Eelam).
Mashoor was reported to have waxed eloquent on what the LTTE had done for the Muslim community. I wonder where this man was living or hiding when Tamil Tribalism thought fit to ethnically cleanse the Jaffna peninsula of Muslims. Or what he has to say to the Muslim fishermen in Kattankudy whose fishing equipment was confiscated by the LTTE peaceniks. Maheswaran seems to have felt comfortable enough to issue threats to the government about what he will do if the "peace talks" failed. Then there was the TNA, virtually spitting on the graves of people like Neelan Thiruchelvam, bending over backwards to salaam Prabhakaran. All these MPs were violating the 6th Amendment to the constitution. Ranil Wickremesinghe for some reason, has remained silent.
Just the other day I read in the Daily News a passionate appeal for "peace journalism". The piece, written by one Lionel Wijesiri, was titled "Charting the course for peace journalism". I believe that the wordplay around "peace" has degenerated into an open capitulation to Eelam-speak.
You ask me, "Are you for peace or for war?", and I respond, "for peace". You then go ahead and tell all and sundry, "Malinda Seneviratne is for the peace process! Malinda Seneviratne is for peace and is supportive of processes aimed at bringing about peace, but he is totally opposed to a process by which significant portions of the country is handed over to Tamil Tribalist Terrorism and by which innocent Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people are brought directly under threat of LTTE brutality. He is opposed to these things, even if they come wrapped in happy wrapping paper replete with peace iconography, doves, olive branches and all.
It is basically a problem with terminology, i.e. the language used and the politics embedded in the phraseology. We dont have to read Derrida to know how political language is. Even the briefest reflection on the word "independence" would suffice to convince anyone how words are used and abused. The National Peace Council, for example, now functions as one of the many propaganda arms of the LTTE. The so-called Journalists for Peace are displaying the same kind of servility. Why? Either they are blind or they are sniffing for the goodies that the word "peace" can bring. In short, they are either puppy dogs or lap dogs.
Wijesiri makes much of a survey done by Sri Lanka Environmental Journalists Forum (SLEJF) about news items published on matters of ethnic strife. What SLEJF was doing dabbling in "ethnic strife" is anyones guess. The numbers, however, are interesting: "There were 1272 clips related to war, peace and ethnicity, of which only 39 were on ethnic harmony. Four hundred and fifty six were news on violent activities and 208 were against peace initiatives".
Wijesiri has remained silent about the fact that "peace initiatives" is not a value-neutral term. Tyranny, he forgets, never wears that label and in fact makes it a point to cloak itself in benevolent garments. And what are these "peace journalists" to do when there happen to be violent activity? Engage in self-censorship? Should newspapers blank out news of LTTE atrocities? Should they ask the LTTEs point of view in order to ensure that "all parties involved in the issue" are embodied in the story? How are they going to record the statements of the dead?
The LTTE has ordered that all government servants in the north-east should pay 8% of their monthly salary to the organisation. Now what are journalists to make of this piece of information? How would Wijesiri classify this? Violence? Ethnic harmony? An initiative for peace?
The LTTE is already taxing all traders and farmers living in areas under security forces control. Under the MoU, the military has been forced to permit all LTTE unarmed cadres to enter areas under their control. However, most of them come with arms and communication equipment. In the latest in a series of such violations, a heavily armed group of LTTE cadres is reported to have paraded at Manampitiya about 17 kms east of Polonnaruwa. They had been carrying 11 T-56 assault rifles, one light machine gun and two hand-held communication sets, and had forced people to part with money, batteries and other essential items. Yes, the LTTE must definitely be doing these things because they love peace so much. HURRAY!
Now lets take a look at a piece which, by Wijesiris standards, would constitute "peace journalism", an article written by Paul Caspersz, S. Rajalingam, Rohan Benjamin and K. Babuji, appearing in The Island of March 7, titled "Satyodaya for building peoples confidence in the East". This is the telling line: "At the Pongu Thamil celebrations held in Batticaloa, we were able to see for ourselves the massive support given to the peace process by the several thousands who flocked to the spacious grounds for the celebrations". I wonder where they were looking.
The Pongu Thamil celebrations are not about "peace" although that word is prominently tossed around. It is about celebrating Prabhakaran, the LTTE and the demand for Eelam. Perhaps all this is coterminous with "peace" as far as these gentlemen are concerned. Perhaps nothing short of Eelam would be "just" for them. But a "just peace" of that order would be grossly unjust as far as the Sinhala people are concerned. This particular article is unadulterated celebration of terrorism and tribal chauvinism.
I am not skipping lightly over the use of the word "plural" in Satyodayas brief for Prabhakaran. This business of multi-ethnic, ethnically heterogeneous, by the way is grossly misleading. In no country has a minority the size of the Tamil community in Sri Lanka demanded anything of the magnitude of that which encompasses the Eelam dream. And this in a country where no Tamil can stand up and claim that their "rights" have been denied them or point their finger at the Sinhalese. The LTTE has in fact acknowledged that the Sinhalese have not been unjust. The call is not about Tamil rights, but Tamil aspirations, let us remind ourselves ladies and gentlemen. And in case we have forgotten, this business of "aspirations" will not be happy with anything other than Eelam.
The power of word-play is such that all of a sudden anyone who dares question the wisdom of the Govt-LTTE MoU or raises eyebrows about whats happening in the north and east is either a "war monger", a "Sinhala chauvinist" or is "anti-peace". RIDICULOUS! Let us face it. The Sinhala press has been virtually gagged. The only word that the Sinhala people are allowed to hear is "peace". They are neither given the opportunity to deconstruct "peace" or to hear or read any deconstruction. The Sinhalese have been denied the right of information. Tell them about everything that is happening in the name of peace, and ask SLEJF or anyone else to conduct a survey about this "peace process". The results will be very revealing, I am sure.
A well-played down fact unearthed by that other front for Tamil Tribalism, the Centre for Policy Alternatives (CPA), is that only 13.4% of the Sinhalese surveyed believed that the LTTE is committed to peace. This constitutes less than 10% of the total sample surveyed. And still, the CPA, the National Peace Council, other apologists for Eelam, spokespersons for the UNF, and our new colonial masters from Norway, are trying to tell us that the Sinhalese are thrilled to bits about the MoU!
Today we live in a country where the vast majority of Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims have been denied their right of self-determination. We have as a people been subjected to cultural genocide, thanks to capital expansion and the well orchestrated dismantling of the state to serve capital interests. We have been at the receiving end of untold violence by these processes which are advertised as the harbingers of prosperity. Almost twenty five years into the "free economy" mode, we know that capitalism just doesnt work. In this context, what we really cant afford is to be tricked into surrendering the last vestiges of sovereignty in the name of peace.
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