A senior leader of the LTTE, V. Balakumaran, speaking at a book launch in Vavuniya has revealed what the LTTE is striving for through negotiations. According to Ulanga Thamir published by the LTTE front in Canada, World Tamil Movement, he has said the LTTE is using the Vietnam model of negotiations and will give the security forces a send off.
"What we are doing now is diplomacy," he has said, bragging that the LTTE has today gained international recognition. "Now the situation has changed," he has boasted, "Kofi Annan is coming... Today the Japanese, Akashi, has come to Kilinochchi. Everybody is coming to help us... we have got that recognition. Those who banned us are now considering the lifting of the ban."
This cannot be dismissed as mere rhetoric. The LTTE as he has said is deriving immense legitimacy and international recognition through negotiations. We have the whole caboodle of Colombo based foreign envoys rushing off to Kilinochchi ever so often to have talks with LTTE leaders some special envoys are said to have feasted on lobsters and jumbo prawns in LTTE hide-outs. And they help sanitise the LTTE in the process.
At the so-called Oslo summit in December, the LTTE was elevated to the level of the Sri Lanka government with the crusaders against global terrorism themselves taking part in that meeting, thus denting their anti terror credentials irreparably. And the UNF government so shamelessly flaunted the meeting as an achievement!
On January 30, in Colombo LTTE delegates sat side by side with government delegates at a World Bank meeting on how to expend aid Sri Lanka was promised in Oslo. The LTTE having refused to eschew violence, accommodation by the WB of terrorists at its meetings is tantamount to the WB recognising LTTE terror.
President Kumaratunga, it should be recalled, was treated to a long lecture by a WB Vice President a few years ago on good governance. We wonder whether the LTTE was also lectured to by any WB high muck-a-muck on non-violence.
Balakumaran tells nothing but the truth when he says the LTTE is following the Vietnamese model of negotiations, to achieve its goal. The LTTE campaign for a troops pull out, the first phase of which is its effort to get High Security Zones done away with, is part of this strategy.
Last week we reported how the LTTE had told a captive audience of school children in the east not to have faith in the peace process and that it was capable of taking control of Batticaloa within three days.
Elaborating on the LTTE strategy Balakumaran has further said, "At the end of the talks they signed an agreement over Vietnam. They also got Nobel Prizes. The way things are going Ranil Aiya will also get a Nobel Prize. Vietnam got liberated after the winning of the Nobel Prize."
The chalk-and-cheese difference between Eelam and Vietnam and other far-fetched comparisons notwithstanding, Balakumarans words that reflect the thinking of the LTTE leadership must serve as a warning to the government and all those on the fast track to peace.
Neither positive nor encouraging
Executive Director of the UNICEF Carol Bellamy, a government-controlled weekly said, had, at a media conference in Colombo on Saturday, described the release by the LTTE of 350 children since November 2001 as encouraging and a positive outcome. The UNICEF had also agreed to support the so-called transit centres for children the LTTE proposed, the report said.
The LTTE abducts thousands of children to train them as fighters and when it comes under international pressure releases some of them from time to time.
Therefore how can the release of only 350 children be encouraging and a positive sign?
According to President Chandrika Kumaratunga, the LTTE has increased its cadre by 10,000 during the last year. The LTTE has not refuted this statement - nor has the government media on behalf of the LTTE! It is widely believed that most of these new recruits are children. The New York Times on January 06 described how children were being grabbed by the LTTE from their parents despite Tamil Chelvams claims to the contrary.
The UN in trying to secure the release of child combatants must not confine its role to meetings with the very terrorists who are guilty of the crime of child recuitment. It must also be wary of acts that will help legitimise terror, such as pledging support for transit centres for children undertaken by the LTTE
Instead, it must involve itself in a more effective manner by urging its powerful members some of whom are involved in Sri Lankas conflict resolution process to step up pressure on the LTTE to release the children in captivity forthwith.
The first step of a meaningful campaign for liberating child combatants could be a survey conducted by the UN on children in the north and east. This will also facilitate opening up the areas under LTTE control where a terror state is in the making.
Your comments to the Editor
|NEWS | FEATURES | OPINION | BUSINESS | CARTOON | SPORTS|