The Sama Samajist wisdom

The credentials of the Lanka Sama Samaja Party on relations with minorities are impeccable save for one instance which happened during the tenure of a Dudley Senanayake government when they succumbed to the ‘Dudleyge Bade Masalawade’ cry. This oldest political Party in Sri Lanka has a very high rating across the political spectrum for principled politics, even though their policies have been roundly rejected consistently. Thus, the views expressed by LSSP’s party leader, Batty Weerakoon on Tuesday on the two vital issues of the proposed Interim Council and deproscription of the LTTE deserve consideration.

The LSSP, he has said, opposes any arrangement or strategy, which would result in the handing of the administration of the Northern and Eastern Provinces to an armed LTTE. An interim administration should be the process, which would allow the LTTE controlled districts of Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi to pass over to civilian administration, which accords democratic norms of administration and human rights. On deproscription of the LTTE, he has said that while the LSSP sees nothing sacrosanct in the proscription, it urges that deproscription be considered only in relation to the proof the LTTE should furnish to the people of its genuine disengagement from its terrorist politics.

Of the two, the burning issue is that of the demand by the LTTE for deproscription without which they say they will not commence negotiations.

The issues raised by the LSSP are valid and reasonable in that the LTTE is undoubtedly a terrorist group-as has been identified by many western powers – and is armed to the level of a conventional army. Its present and past record of intransigence, intolerance of any opposition and enforcement of its authority by naked violence are factors that have to be taken into consideration before they are considered as a party that could be entrusted safeguarding the rights and security of the people.

It is often argued that ‘Proscription’ is a mere legal tag that the LTTE has treated with disdain and did what they wanted, despite being branded as terrorists. However, proscription in the context of this particular time and the prevailing international opinion are of much relevance. Never has the world reacted against terrorist movements, as after September 11 and this terrorist organisation that thrived on sympathy in foreign countries as a ‘liberation organisation’ is now dead as a dodo. With the financial sustenance and latitude that was shown to its dummy organisations in transferring finance and gun running etc, now no more, its transnational empire is now virtually Kaput. Deproscription is the oxygen it is desperately crying for to rise from the ashes.

Prabakaran himself, in his press conference, stated that their aim was to get the LTTE deproscribed in Sri Lanka and then attempt to get the bans lifted in other countries.

We are told that foreign nations that have banned the LTTE will not change their decisions by it being deproscribed here because it has been banned there for security threats to those countries. Even if we have have such guarantees, the LTTE lobbies can make mockery of such banning pointing out that Sri Lanka itself has lifted the ban and are negotiating with their organisation. In the long run, it will amount to the terrorist organisation being rejuvenated once again and waiting for an opportune moment to commence it clandestine activities.

On the other hand, if it is giving up terrorism why is it giving top priority to it being de-banned in the west?

The proscription of the LTTE came about after commitment of terrorist acts of severest of provocations aimed at setting the country aflame. What assurances have they given to the people and government that they have now forsaken terrorism? This what the LSSP is asking.

On the other hand, with their arrogance and cocky attitudes they have given no reason for the people to believe that they are born again civilised people. The violation of the Ceasefire Agreement on the A9 highway, the provocative Pongu Tamil rallies and the intransigent and unrepentant attitude shown by Prabakaran in his interview are convincing enough that the Tiger has not change his stripes.

The LTTE is desperate. Its ceasefire came before September 11 when Britain was about to proscribe it. But before that, even after their military victories, the living conditions of the Tamil people in LTTE controlled areas after long years of war were becoming intolerable. Lack of food, sickness and forcible conscription of children for war was making it difficult to keep the people down. The LTTE wanted time to recover and the ceasefire agreement has given them breathing space. The international situation, as described earlier, was blocking the channels of finance and arms for terrorism.

They have been in similar desperate situations before. In 1987, when the Vadamarchchi operation commenced, that tin pot Napoleon, India’s then High Commissioner in Colombo, Jyotindra Dixit, wagged his forefinger and said: Sri Lankan troops will not be permitted to retake Jaffna and followed it up with parippu drops and the Indo Lanka Agreement and thus saved the LTTE. Later,when the IPKF had reduced the LTTE to a few hundred cadres, President Premadasa in a supremely idiotic move asked the Indians to get out and began arming the terrorists.

Now the LTTE’s backbone is broken. And are we attempting to put them back on their feet?

The Peace Initiative of Prime Minister Mr. Ranil Wickremasinghe should certainly be supported. All people want peace. But let us work towards a long lasting and genuine peace with the LTTE being firmly told that they too should make their contribution to peace and not continue in the ways of brazen thugs

Let not the enforced Pongu Tamil demonstrations convince Sri Lankans and the world of the massive support the LTTE enjoys. The kidnapping of an 85-year-old man from Batticaloa. reported on Page 1 today, is evidence of the kind of ‘government’ they are giving the Tamil people and how much of genuine support they are enjoying.

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