First things first: LTTE must give up terror
The dastardly attempt that the fanatical Naxalites made on Andra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s life the other day in Tirupati, has sent shock waves through the civilised world. The narrow escape Mr. Naidu had was miraculous given the deadly force of the claymore mine blast.
This assassination bid evokes memories of the blasts authored by the LTTE, which reduced to smithereens political leaders like President Premadasa, Gamini Dissanayake, former Indian Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, and the near assassination of President Chandrika Kumaratunga.
Terrorists have to be lucky only once unlike their targets. Even military super powers despite nuclear capabilities to blow the earth to bits several times over, have become sitting ducks before well-organised terror outfits. The 9/11 attacks on the US interests exemplified this striking capability of terrorists.
The predicament of small nations like Sri Lanka vis-`E0-vis such terror outfits goes without saying. The renewal of the US ban on the LTTE offers something for Sri Lanka to pin her hopes on.
The US has supported its decision by rightly pointing out that the LTTE has not yet renounced violence. "The United States looks forward to a timely resumption of peace talks in Sri Lanka and hopes that proposals by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam for an interim administration in the North and East of the country will be reasonable and practical enough to form the basis for resuming talks," the US press communiqu`E9 announcing the renewal of the ban, states.
The reference to the proposed interim council warrants elaboration, as it is an LTTE demand which has the potential to either make or break the peace process. If the LTTE declaration issued at the recent Pongu Thamil celebration in Vavuniya is any indication, then it is demanding powers such as police, judicial, land and finance. Such a demand will in no way be ‘reasonable and practical’. An interim arrangement in the first place should not precede the finding of a solution to the problem. An interim set up should come between the successful conclusion of the peace process and the implementation of the solution found. What the LTTE is proposing is to put the cart before the horse. If the International Community led by the US is keen to see an early end to Sri Lanka’s conflict, what it should do is to force the LTTE to give up violence and return to the negotiating table, and to set a time-frame for the talks.
On no grounds could an LTTE-dominated council be justified in that it will deal a severer blow to democracy than, perhaps, the conflict itself. The exclusion of the mainstream Tamil political parties from the peace process has helped justify the LTTE’s claim of being the sole representative of the Tamils. A council for the LTTE with or without powers demanded in Pongu Thamil declaration will, to say the least, mean triumph of terrorism over democracy.
If the Tigers are to be tamed and made amenable to a reasonable settlement, it requires countries like the US to go beyond banning the outfit. Follow up action is called for to make bans efficacious. As LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingham once boasted to the press, despite the ban, the LTTE fund-raising goes on in the US. As we reported recently, a US citizen, V. Rudrakumaran, took part in an LTTE conference in Paris making a mockery of the US ban. All this points to the need for the US to deal with the outfit with a stern hand.
Belligerence of the LTTE, the bane of Sri Lanka’s peace process stems from the indulgence with which the western powers deal with it. With foreign diplomats and representatives of the World Bank and the UN visiting its leaders in their hideouts, why should the LTTE mend its ways to gain respectability and legitimacy?
If the intention of the international community is not to promote terrorism but help usher in a lasting peace in Sri Lanka, it has to distance itself from the LTTE until it gives up violence. Now that they have tied Sri Lanka’s aid to the progress to be made in the talks, it is imperative that they also link issuance of visa and provision of venues for LTTE conferences etc. to renouncing of violence and release of child combatants.
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