The international safety net

By Durand Appuhamy
In the wake of Tokyo loans ballyhoo, the GoSL promoted the idea of international safety net (ISN), but it has yet to explain to the people what it means and its implications. Could it be another concoction of empty words without substance and meaning?

In the context of the dire predicament into which Sri Lanka has been thrust by the so far sham/failed peace process, it would be reasonable to expect that the international safety net was devised to safeguard the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of the country from the depredations of the LTTE. At least that is the way the GoSL has promoted and presented it to the people without a full explanation. There is somewhere in some form an agreement between the GoSL and the international community that embodies the following principles. First, both the GoSL and the LTTE are expected to accept democratic laws and behave according to the norms and laws commonly accepted by the international community. Second, anyone violating such laws would be prevailed upon to desist, failing this, sanctions of some sorts would be applied until normality returns. Third, economic aid will flow to develop the country if the LTTE is deliberately stalling the peace process by making outrageous demands that cannot be met without vivisecting the country. Fourth, if terrorism breaks out again, the international community would physically help Sri Lanka to eradicate terrorism in the country. If the GoSL has anything more to add to this, the readers would surely like to know.

On the other hand, if such an agreement does not exist, then it is a fiction invented by the PM and his failed negotiators to hoodwink the people yet again, is quite plain to see.

As regards the first, the LTTE has totally rejected the Tokyo declaration, on the excuse, that they were not a party to the formulation of that declaration. The donors wanted a settlement "based upon respect for human rights, democracy and rule of law". This declaration linked donor support to, among others, "full compliance with the cease-fire agreement by both parties; and effective promotion and protection of the human rights of all people" (The Island 11th June 03). In words and by their actions, the LTTE has made it quite clear that they will not abide by any democratic Rule of Law. The only law they recognize and enforce is the law promulgated by the Pirapakaran, their fascist leader. This law is based only on the unbounded rights of this leader that brooks no dissent. His laws do not recognize the rights of others to live as they wish. Like Stalin before him, Pirapakaran eliminates all opponents to his scheme of Eelam by murdering them almost every week, if not every day, the latest being Ratheeskaran (EPDP) of Batticaloa and two Muslims Fareed and Riyaaz of Uppuveli (SLMC) on the 14th of August 03.

Rather late in the day, even the Amnesty International (AI) too has just awaken from their slumber to pronounce to the world that LTTE has been guilty of gruesome murders of opponents to their oppressive regime. For once the AI has been brutally frank. use of political assassinations, abductions, and other human rights abuses threatens to seriously undermine the moves made towards establishing a representative system of governance grounded in human rights principles", thundered the Interim Director of the AI (The Island 14th Aug. 03). To this must be added the catalogue of violations of private as well as public rights of the people attested to by the SLMM.

The critical flash point at the moment is the invasion of government territory by the LTTE at Manirasakulam. After due investigation the SLMM’s decision was that this LTTE camp should be removed. The LTTE would not budge. They now claim that it was part of their territory. This saga is likely to be repeated many times over in many other currently government-controlled areas in the future. This LTTE camp has amply demonstrated the strength of the LTTE and the cowardly weakness of the GoSL. It has also established the hidden agenda of the LTTE to surround the government positions with heavily armed combat units so that a military putsch could be imposed relatively easily at a time of their choosing. It will not surprise any reader of The Island that the latest sojourn of Thamilchelvan in the east in government helicopter was to ensure the readiness of the LTTE for such a blitzkrieg. It is also a bold declaration to the people of the area that LTTE’s regime has arrived, and it would be in the interest of the people to comply with their demands.

It is also an unmistakable manifestation of the plan for territorial expansion harboured by the LTTE.

According to the ISN some sort of sanctions should have been imposed on the LTTE given the blatant violations they have committed so far. All we have had so far was the statement made by the US State Dept. Deputy Spokesman Mr. Reeker. He reiterated that the camp in Manirasakulam violated the Ceasefire Agreement and called upon the LTTE "to renounce terrorism and cease terrorist acts, including political assassinations, and to comply with the terms of the CFA". Such words are water on the duck’s back to the LTTE. They have heard them before and have brazenly made their own retorts even when Mr. Armitage himself called upon them to give up terrorism. Clearly mere words are insufficient and inappropriate to deal with the LTTE. If ISN means anything, there ought to be some sanctions by the international community on the LTTE on their activities abroad especially in the UK and in Europe. France could have denied them the opportunity to assemble in Paris until such time that the LTTE camp in Manirasakulam was dismantled. That would be tangible evidence of an ISN to both the LTTE and the Sri Lankans. No such action was taken. Instead the Japanese and the Norwegians are ushered into the Tiger den in the Wanni, on bended knees, to implore them for the resumption of the sham peace talks. Can we therefore place our trust in this ISN?

That 4.5 billion dollars will be long time in coming. According to the Tokyo declaration "assistance by the donor community must be closely linked to substantial and parallel progress in the peace process" (cl. 18 of Tokyo Declaration). This is a veritable trap. If we give in to all the demands the LTTE makes, the country will be simply dismantled, Sri Lanka will loose out, peace process will go on and the loan tap will be turned on for the benefit of the LTTE as there will not be a Sri Lanka to gain from the loans. If we do not comply with all the demands of the LTTE, there will not be any peace process, no loans and no gains. Either way Sri Lanka stands to loose and the power to turn the loan tap on and off is in the hands of the LTTE. If an ISN is really in existence then the country should be given the loans no matter the stance taken by the LTTE. The sad conclusion is that we have been taken for suckers even on this point of economic assistance.

At the moment the easiest help the western nations could provide is satellite information on LTTE activities in the relatively treeless areas of Elephant Pass and the wide open seas in the north. They could also inform the security forces on the international communication between LTTE in the Wanni and its cells in the Western countries as well as the LTTE’s rogue ships plying the oceans. Given that no such help has been forthcoming how can we expect marines landing in the northern and the eastern shores, and US combat ships loaded with missiles in the seas off Mullaithivu? No western nation will commit itself to such a safety net. Anyone who expects such help is naive, if not a fool. The answer to my question at the start is quite clear, there is no ISN, it is just a ploy by the PM to allay the fear of the people arising from the failure of his appeasement policy. This device will be further used as an excuse whenever appeasement has to be made on the many LTTE’s Shylockian demands yet to come.

The report-Sri Lanka Political Killings, published on August 15 was erroneously attributed to the UTHRJ. The report is from the Human Rights Watch, an organisation based in New York.