The Three Questions of Mr. Blair

Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair is the most experienced of current western leaders on the kind of terrorism Sri Lanka has been attempting to combat for over two decades. He has the experience, gained since his Labour Party came to power in 1997, of dealing with the IRA, a terrorist organisation like the LTTE but a milder version of the Sri Lankan organisation. The hopes raised by the Good Friday Agreement, the formation of the Northern Ireland Assembly and the subsequent collapse of the ‘Peace Process’ caused by the intransigence of the terrorist organisation, we presumed would have given him a good insight into dealing with such terrorist organisations and peace processes.

But his statement reported yesterday in The Island, headlined ‘Lankan peace process role model for the world’, indicates that he does not appear to know much about what he was talking about —- certainly not about the Sri Lankan ‘Peace Process’. Towering above this report on Mr Blair’s statement to our prime minister on the front page were the report and gory pictures of an intelligence officer who was slain in his police barracks by a LTTE assassin. Such killings are now almost a daily occurrence in the Sri Lankan ‘Peace Process’ where officers of the security forces are killed by the other party to the ‘Peace Process". While we are writing these comments, a report has been received of another killing of a member of the EPRLF.

Since this ‘Peace Process’ commenced, yesterday’s victim was the ninth EPRLF member to be killed while the LTTE has gunned down 30 intelligence officers. The grim tragedy of the EPRLF is that they had sided with the government to combat LTTE terrorism but were disarmed by the government after the Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the LTTE.

The British prime minister, like most western leaders and Sri Lankan government leaders, appears to be convinced that the LTTE is committed to a negotiated solution. This is despite positive indications that they are going ahead preparing to achieve their objectives through the force of arms. Yesterday, it was reported in The Island that the Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham had succeeded in preventing the LTTE being outlawed in Canada on the misguided reasoning that it would jeopardise the peace negotiations in Sri Lanka. The Canadian Security and Intelligence Service had recommended to the Canadian cabinet that the LTTE along with five other foreign terrorist groups be banned in Canada.

These are instances of the gullibility of western leaders and diplomats to LTTE propaganda that it is a peace seeking organisation that has forsaken violence.

Yesterday, it was reported in a pro LTTE website that Anton Balasingham, the LTTE spokesman, was once again saying that negotiations between the Sri Lanka government and the LTTE would resume soon. The LTTE has long believed and practised that they have a licence to kill any person whom they desire and such murders will not be the concern of the Sri Lanka government or western nations.

What western leaders seem to be ignoring or appear to be unaware is that their tolerance of the slaughter of opponents by the LTTE is in fact jeopardising the peace process because most Sri Lankans have come to view this ‘Peace Process’ —- praised and cheered on by the outside world while the LTTE is continuing to slaughter its opponents with military objectives —- as an absolute farce. If continuous pressure is applied on the LTTE by foreign powers such as if Canada banned them as recommended by the intelligence services, it could in fact help the ‘Peace Process’. But the LTTE knows it can get away with blue murder with the ‘Peace Process’ on but the ‘Peace Process suffers.

Western powers should at least now realise the true nature of the LTTE. They are guilty of contributing to the might of this terrorist organisation by their indulgence and gullibility.

Only the United States seem to have realised their true nature and come to a firm decision and said: Give up your violence in word and deed.

Interested foreign powers should ask themselves why the LTTE boycotted the Tokyo talks that were attended by 51 nations and 21 foreign organisations? Did they want too avoid being a signatory to the Tokyo Declaration that called on both parties to agree to a Human Rights Declaration? Through an Interim Administration they are demanding to be established, do they want to get control of the millions of dollars that have been pledged by the foreign donors?

In an earlier editorial, The Island recommended that donor nations should ask the LTTE, three questions that British Prime Minister Blair posed to the IRA—— (1) Will you stop all terrorist activities (2) Will you get rid of your weapons and (3) Is your conflict over for good.

These are questions that Mr Blair should now ask Anton Balasingham, who is a British citizen and spokesman for a terrorist organisation proscribed in Britain.

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