Pre-conditions for "unconditional" talks

By S.L.Gunasekara
President - Sinhala Jathika Sangamaya

Agreeing to enter into unconditional talks with the Government, obtaining a ceasefire by means of such agreement and thereafter imposing pre-conditions for the commencement of those very "unconditional" talks is part of the treacherous modus operandi of the LTTE. They did it at the Thimphu Talks when they precipitately put forward four outrageous demands [which they now call the "Thimphu Principles"] as "non-negotiable" demands which they said the Government must accept as a pre-condition for the continuance of those Talks. The LTTE did it once again during their Talks with President Kumaratunga when, having signed on the 5th January 1995, a Memorandum of Understanding which, while specifically providing that "The Security Forces and the LTTE will maintain their present positions on the ground", granted no right whatever to members of the LTTE to carry arms in the Eastern Province, the LTTE demanded, a mere nine days later on the 14th January 1995, inter alia, that the Army Camp at Pooneryn be removed and that members of the LTTE be given the untrammeled right to carry arms in the Eastern Province as pre-conditions for the commencement of Talks on substantive political issues!!!

Those Talks did not break town and hostilities resume because of any failure of the Governments of the day to address any "humanitarian issues" as the Prime Minister appears to believe: they were wantonly broken down and hostilities resumed by the LTTE by reason of their consummate treachery in agreeing to "unconditional" Talks and thereafter imposing ridiculous pre-conditions for those "unconditional" Talks which no responsible Government could possibly have granted.

Needless to say, the LTTE made ‘good’ use of the ceasefire declared in each of those instances to prepare for war; and those who suffered from such perfidy of the LTTE were mainly the sons and daughters of the poor in the Armed Forces, the Police and the impoverished Sinhalese and Muslim villages in and around the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

History is now repeating itself once more. The LTTE having agreed to "unconditional" Talks with the present Government and signed a Ceasefire Agreement which contains no provision for de-proscription or the creation of an Interim Administration for the Northern and Eastern Provinces, now demand both de-proscription as well as the creation of such an Interim Administration as pre- conditions for the commencement of Talks on substantive political issues with the Government.

It is clearly nonsensical for the LTTE or for their lackeys in some sections of the media and elsewhere to claim that the LTTE cannot enter into Talks unless these pre-conditions are met - for if that was so they could not possibly have offered or agreed to enter into "unconditional" Talks with the Government. Further, if the proscription did not prevent the LTTE from entering into a Ceasefire Agreement with the Government and a Memorandum of Understanding with Minister Hakeem, how could the proscription prevent the LTTE from engaging in political Talks with the Government??

The reason why the LTTE want de-proscription is patently evident, and was confirmed by their leader Prabhakaran at his press conference at Kilinochchi. The aim of the LTTE is to use the proposed de-proscription in Sri Lanka as a lever to get themselves deproscribed in the USA, UK, Canada and India and to thereby strengthen further their ability to wage war against us and dismember our Country. [The demand for an Interim Administration is not discussed in this article for want of space]

The lackeys of the LTTE say glibly that proscription did not prevent the debacles of Elephant Pass, of Mullaitivu or of Kilinochchi-Paranthan and, on the basis of those indisputable facts, argue that proscription serves no useful purpose. It is true that proscription did not prevent those debacles from taking place: but the undeniable fact remains that de-proscription could only cause or contribute to further debacles of even greater magnitude taking place - for de-proscription would necessarily amount to conferring on the most savage and inhuman band of terrorists/criminals in the world, the status of a legitimate organization and thereby give some much needed ‘oxygen’ to the campaign of the LTTE to gain de-proscription and hence legitimacy internationally.

Clearly, proscription abroad has hurt and weakened the LTTE, and whatever assurances may have been given by foreign governments that they would assess the question of deproscription independently of any decision that may be taken by our Government, there can be no question about the fact that the recognition of the LTTE as being a legitimate organization in the Country that is most affected by their rank terrorism, namely Sri Lanka, would necessarily constitute a cogent and compelling factor to be considered by them in determining whether the LTTE should be de-proscribed in their Countries. Had the LTTE not been weakened or their vile activities hampered by their proscription in foreign Countries, and if de-proscription in Sri Lanka would not assist them to gain deproscription in USA etc., they would never have attached so much importance to being de-proscribed in Sri Lanka - for, as the lackeys of the LTTE rightly said, proscription in Sri Lanka alone did not prevent the debacles of Elephant Pass etc.

As Prabhakaran himself said at the press conference at Kilinochchi, the LTTE has not given up their demand to dismember our Country. As regards the question of surrendering arms, not only have the LTTE not given any indication of any kind of any inclination to surrender arms and enter the democratic process, but they are, on the contrary, smuggling more and more arms and ammunition into our Country and making use of the ceasefire to prepare more and more to kill and maim more and more of our poor citizens and destroy more and more property.

De-proscribing the LTTE will necessarily amount to giving a helping hand to the LTTE to strengthen themselves still further, to make them better able to wage war and visit death and destruction upon our People. In these circumstances, no Government with even a tenuous claim to being a "responsible" Government could even dream of deproscribing the LTTE.

The lackeys of the LTTE argue that if there is no de-proscription, the LTTE will not come to the negotiating table and that the Country will hence be plunged into war once again. They contend that in these circumstances the Government should promptly de-proscribe the LTTE !! This amounts to saying that the Government of Sri Lanka must, like a puppet on a string, comply with any and every demand put forward by the LTTE as a pre-condition for ‘Talks’ regardless of the merits, the morality, the legality and/or the inherent dangers of complying with such demand. In short, these lackeys contend that the Government elected by the free votes of the People of Sri Lanka should be dictated to and/or ‘governed’ by the gang of criminals called the LTTE!!! Can any self-respecting or "responsible" Government submit to blackmail??

Ever since the commencement of the ceasefire the LTTE has demonstrated "in spades" that they are only using the ceasefire as a means to prepare for war. It is indeed a paradox that after the 11th September 2001, when virtually the entire world took arms against the scourge of terrorism, the pusillanimity and cupidity of both the People’s Alliance and the United National Front prevented them from making use of that new environment to embark upon an "all out" onslaught against the terrorists called the LTTE, and that, therefore, since that historic day, that particular band of terrorists has become stronger and stronger while we have got weaker and weaker.

The conduct of the LTTE in kidnapping little Tamil children for slave labour or ‘cannon fodder’ [euphemistically called "conscription"], murdering patriotic Tamils who supported the Armed Forces, abducting Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims for ransom, committing extortion from all and sundry in cleared and uncleared areas alike, smuggling arms, ammunition and explosives to murder our People and preventing buses of the SLCTB from plying on the A 9 highway, all in flagrant violation of the Ceasefire Agreement makes manifest the fact that the LTTE has not changed one iota, and that it will never ever honour its word or arrive at any negotiated settlement short of the grant of a separate State.

Prabhakaran has proved by his utterances at the press conference at Kilinochchi and thereafter, that the LTTE is nothing more than an unabashedly unrepentant band of murderers. This is established by the fact that while Prabhakaran expressed, some measure of regret about the expulsion of all Muslims from the Northern Province with 48 hours notice in October 199O, he expressed not a fraction of a whimper of regret about any of the other horrendous atrocities and crimes against humanity committed by the LTTE including the murder of Rajiv Gandhi and 18 others at Sriperumbudur on the 21st May 1991. His response to questions in respect of that atrocity was merely to say that that foul murder was a "tragic" incident [i.e. not even "regrettable"] and brush aside that inhuman act against his own benefactor as being a matter of no consequence whatever because it happened over ten years ago!!!

No trace of even an infinitesimal fraction of an element of regret has ever been expressed by Prabhakaran or any of his followers about any of the other countless atrocities committed by the LTTE including the attack on the Dalada Maligawa, the murders of about 140 Muslims while praying in their Mosques at Kathankudy, the murders of over 100 Buddhists while worshipping at the Sacred Bo Tree, the murders of over 600 policemen who surrendered to the LTTE, the chopping with machetes of sleeping unweaned Sinhalese infants at Gonagala, the murders of leaders of the TULF like Amirthalingam, Sarojini Yogeswaran, Tiruchelvam and Thangadurai etc., etc.,, etc., etc., etc., etc., etc., etc.

The failure to even express any kind of regret about any of these horrendous crimes against humanity makes evident the fact that the LTTE believes that it had the right to commit such atrocities and that it will continue to commit such atrocities again and again at their will and pleasure unless they are forcibly prevented from so doing by the Government.

The LTTE was proscribed because it was a criminal organization. Their conduct thereafter, only confirms the fact that they are still members of a criminal organization. The conduct of the LTTE after the commencement of the ceasefire and the utterances of their leader leaves no room for doubt that there is no legal, moral or rational basis for deproscribing the LTTE.

The conduct of the Government in dealing with the demand of the LTTE for deproscription will be a most relevant and probably determining factor in deciding the question whether this Government is possessed of the integrity, the courage and the commitment to the Country which alone could give it the moral right to rule, or whether it is concerned only with enjoying the ‘fruits’ of office.

Finally, the very demand of the LTTE for de-proscription as a pre-condition for Talks constitutes cogent evidence of the fact that the LTTE is not interested in peace through negotiation. As discussed above, proscription cannot, on any basis, constitute a bar to the LTTE engaging in Talks with the Government. If the LTTE genuinely desires a negotiated settlement, would they have ever imposed outrageous and equally ridiculous pre-conditions for "unconditional" Talks which may prevent the Talks from taking place??

Whatever they are, the LTTE are no fools. [Regrettably, the same cannot be said of successive governments of Sri Lanka]. The LTTE must necessarily realize that if they sit down to Talks and arrive at a political settlement that is just and fair to all People of all races who belong to our Nation, the proscription will automatically be vacated both nationally and internationally. Why then does the LTTE not get down to political Talks immediately ?? Why has the LTTE not put forward, at any time, a set of proposals for a political settlement which, in their perception, constitutes a fair and just political solution for members of all races who constitute our Nation ?? These questions admit of but one answer: the LTTE is taking the Government, our People and the International Community for "a ride" once more, and whether we de-proscribe the LTTE or not, it will not be long before they plunge our Country into a blood-bath of unprecedented proportions.