Prabakaran as a democrat

If Velupillai Prabakaran’s objective in coming out of hiding after long years and hosting a press conference to the international and Sri Lankan media was to demonstrate to the world his sincerity and commitment to peace, he would have convinced only his unswerving faithful.

He had discarded his feline striped jungle fatigues and instead put on a more conventional safari suit, probably to signify a change from the terrorist to a politician. But in the two hour interview aided and abetted by his spin ( Dr.) Anton Balasingham, the stripes of the Tiger showed. A Tiger cannot change his stripes.

The big question to be asked was: Has the LTTE given up its objective of a separate state and terrorism? The question was put more poignantly: Does he still abide by his declaration, ‘Kill me if I deviate from the goal of Eelam’? Prabakaran looked at his cadres guarding him and said: ‘The statement still stands’.

It would have come as a shock to those optimistic peace activists who were saying all the while that the LTTE has forsaken terrorism and the call for a separate state.

He reiterated his commitment to a separate state in his reply to another question on the same issue. The LTTE was prepared to seriously consider renouncing the armed struggle, if a solution acceptable to the Tamil people was put forward. Any acceptable solution should include the three demands: Right of self- determination, recognition of Tamil nationality and a Tamil homeland. These were the same demands put forward at Thimpu talks with the J.R Jayewardene government in 1985 and had been rejected by that government and all other successive governments! The rejection was because it is seen as the penultimate step to a separate state.

Thus, the question to be asked is: Despite all this peace euphoria hanging thick in the air, in the past few months, are we still where peace talks commenced in 1985?

Prabakaran and Balasingham, however tried hard to make out that they were committed to the search for peace. Asked whether September 11 would have added an impetus to their peace effort, Prabakaran pointed out that they had been calling for a ceasefire and were in contact with the Norwegians before September 11. This claim of their desire for peace would not have convinced experienced observers. The LTTE’s desire for peace talks and a ceasefire resulted when it became fairly certain that western countries, particuarly Britain, was considering banning it. September 11 resulted in a global crack down against all terrorist organisations with the UN Security Council adopting resolution making it incumbent on member states to adopt legislation such as to freeze assests of terrorist organisations. Thus, this nonchalant denial about September 11 would not have cut much ice with audiences abroad.

A question whether the LTTE would deny their involvement in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi had both Prabakaran and Balasingham stuttering and squirming. All Prabakaran could do was to appeal not to recall the tragic event that happened 12 years ago and subsequent questions on LTTE’s conduct only resulted in the plea, ‘ Not to dig up the past’. Prabakaran declared the End of History not only where the bestial past of the LTTE was concerned but even refused to answer future moves of the LTTE, with Balasingham saying that they will not answer ‘ hypothetical questions’.

If Prabakaran’s decision to close the embarrassing chapters of history is followed by other fascist leaders, we will not have much of history to read about . He is much out of touch with contemporary developments where nations, and even the Pope, have been apologising the actions of their predecessors committed hundreds of years ago.

Prabakaran in demanding that the proscription of the LTTE should be lifted before the talks scheduled at Thailand are to commence, should in the first instance consider why the government of President Chandrika Kumaratunga proscribed it. It came about with the nationwide and worldwide revulsion of the barbarism of Prabakaran when he decided to bomb the Temple of the Sacred Tooth venerated by Buddhists al over the world. Prabakaran should consider whether his attempt to blackmail the government : ‘Deproscribe or the talks are off’, can erase from the conscience of the people the horrendous sacrilege he committed. If he is a human being with basic human values, he should apologise for this act and other bestial acts such as machine gunning pilgrims meditating under the Sri Maha Bodhiya. These are not accidents of war but calculated acts of barbarism

It will undoubtedly argued that the government too should apologise for their ‘acts of state terrorism’ against Tamils. While investigations have been launched into incidents like at Chemmanai and Bindunuwewa the government should consider tendering apologies to the Tamils for incidents cited by Tamils.

Readers who watched Prabakaran on TV for over two hours should judge for themselves whether Prabakaran, the man responsible for mass murder, with few parallels in history, had indeed transformed himself into a law abiding democratic poltician, he claimed he would be. To us it was a very unconvincing performance.

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