Features

What man has put together man can also rent asunder
by Durand Appuhamy

With the help of lethal weapons and a fanatical hard core of LTTE cadres, Velu did put together an illegitimate administration of sorts in some parts of our country. He had Gestapo-like police stations, Kangaroo courts, extortionate fiscal system and an atrocious educational system to brainwash the young. He also had an army,. navy and a couple of small planes. His acolytes in Sri Lanka and abroad claimed that this was a de facto state and demanded recognition and legitimacy for this all-apparent oppressive dictatorship of a ruthless despot. Ranil, As PM of this country, accorded this privilege to Velu by signing the CFA. Ranil had mortgaged the future of country to which he had no rightful claim without any effort to consult the wishes or the desires of the people or their representatives. This was the beginning of a journey to absurdity for the country, while, for Velu, it created the golden opportunity to advance and enhance his claim for, Eelam. A jubilant Velu probably hailed us "vive le fous" (long live the nuts)!! Not we, but the UNP of Ranil did richly deserve this harangue!

However, the edifice put together by Velupillai Pirapakaran was a very dangerous one. If it was allowed to stand and be reinforced by his murderous, cadres, the consequences would have been calamitous for the country. The nation-state of Sri Lanka would have collapsed. We would have had two states in perpetual armed conflict and foreign interlopers dictating and determining our destiny. Therefore, Velu’s efforts had to be thwarted and his mini-state had to be demolished. Removal of Velu will bring us peace to the extent that the guns he wielded will fall silent, but more importantly, there will then prevail, suitable ambience for concluding with all concerned citizens a lasting peace.

The abrogation of CFA was one of the necessary demolition jobs. This abrogation gave the message to the world that we are not prepared to co-exist with a terrorist rag-bag and share this country with them unconditionally. By the same token we have demonstrated that the LTTE and Tamil citizens are two separate entities, and that, if any political accommodation is required, it will be with the Tamil citizens of this country in a manner agreeable to all communities in this country. The LTTE will then have to join the crowd as another interested and reformed party.

The other consequence of this abrogation is the elimination of institutional terrorism in this country. This necessarily entails the defeat of the LTTE which is the fount of all terrorism in this country. The multi-front attack on LTTE positions on land and sea combined with aerial bombardment of all LTTE’s military assets are, in my view, the right approach to the demolition job on hand. In this process, if GoSL is lucky enough to eliminate the LTTE hierarchy and Velu himself, then the demise of Eelam would be a certainty. This is the compelling reason for the full support we should extend to our forces. They have done it in the Eastern province; they will certainly do it in the Wanni probably much sooner than expected. The ratchet effect of defeat after defeat on many fronts would be the total collapse of the morale of the many hastily trained unwilling fighters among the LTTE cadres. It is not beyond reason for us to expect them to simply put down their weapons, walk out of their bunkers one day and surrender to the GoSL forces. In this respect, it is the duty of our army to encourage defection by suitable propaganda in the Wanni. This is a notable failure on the part of the Government’s propaganda institutions. This is the opportune moment to engender disaffection among the LTTE cadres.

Earlier the GoSL security forces had reclaimed the vast Eastern province from LTTE’s grip. It was here that Velu was intending to establish his capital city with the necessary deep water harbour and probably an international airport at Hingurakgoda. This part of his dream house has collapsed together with all the infra-structure of his courts, police stations, revenue departments and inhuman Gulag-type cells and. prisons. The people under his thraldom voted with their feet, abandoned him, and are now on their way. to building their democratic institutions. Over 800 candidates, some of them probably terrorists of yesteryear, are prepared to participate in the democratic process of local elections which, given the recent violent past, could be physically dangerous to the candidates. It is the duty of the government to create the environment for a free and fair election by disarming all those with arms. A free and fair election and fully functioning -local government in- the east would not only deal a death punch to the LTTE’s Eelam, but would also demonstrate to the world, that democracy can prevail against terrorism. The world should support this born-again democratic exercise undertaken in very difficult circumstances.

Another counter punch to LTTE’s terrorism is the political arrangements necessary to bring to an end the festering wounds caused by the demands for satiation of aspirations and elimination of grievances. This is an impossible exercise. Aspirations of anyone, minority or not, can be staked up as high as high heavens, therefore no country in the world has even attempted to satisfy the political aspirations of minorities within their borders. The same is true of tiny Sri Lanka. Some grievances can be mental formations. Until and -unless those afflicted with these mental aberrations are themselves prepared to seek a suitable-mental remedy for those afflictions, little can be done by others to cure them. Outsiders can only submit persuasive arguments, substantiated wherever possible with facts, to help these people to disabuse themselves and accept reality for what it is. Thus for instance, economic deprivation and under-development, educational handicaps and lack of job opportunities are not piled upon the Tamils only, they are also the lot of a vast number of Sinhalese and Muslims living all- over the country. Peace is necessary for economic development, and this development would lead to all- round advancement of all citizens. Therefore while the army is doing its job, the authorities should put together a political plan for installation at the termination of the armed conflict-. It would be inexcusable on the part of any political party not to engage in this exercise.

For the moment the 13th Amendment to the Constitution together with the Provincial council system has been proposed as a solution by the APRC. I have strong reservations on this proposal for many reasons. A discussion of these reasons will lead to a long digression away from the objective of this essay. But for practical purposes, I do accept the fact that this is now part of the law of the land, and as democrats, we have got to abide by the law of the land. It is from this perspective I would urge the political players to consider this-body of law already available and ready to be implemented

Given the fact that the now functioning Provincial governments in the south of the country have failed us and have become white elephants to the tax-payers, there is no guarantee that this same system will be successful in the north and the east. Nevertheless, with hindsight experience of the failures of Provincial councils in existence, the new councils could be better adopted to serve the needs of the people. Therefore it is worth a try.

As required, a free and fair referendum after the guns fall silent, will decide the question of merging the two provinces and will provide the opportunity to think out of the box created by the colonial British, and recast the provinces based on the needs of the people of the area. The creation of ethnic ghettos will only serve diabolical agendas of the racists among us. Segregation based on race or religion of people will lead us to future trouble and should be avoided at all costs. Shia, Sunni and Christian enclaves have not saved Lebanon; the respective demagogues are at one another’s throat tearing apart the country at the same time. Similarly the alienation of crown land to the provinces will have to be implemented with due care for the generations still unborn. The unborn future millions of Sri Lankans cannot be deprived of land to live and earn a living in any part of the country of their birth. The delegation of police powers needs to be done on ‘a, graduated- scale, so that the few frustrated yet active LTTE cadres, if any, would not use these powers to stage a come-back.

It is unwise to appoint politicians as advisors to the Governor of the northern Province. Politicians, by and large, are self-serving corrupt persons. They corrupt even the best of systems set up to serve the people. Therefore the Governor should be given a free hand to elect a very limited number of qualified and experienced persons, not necessarily politicians, to help him in the rebuilding and development of the province until such time that elections are held for the -local and provincial councils in the north.

Let me end by quoting the Tamil sage Valluvar "money and means, time, place and deed, decide these five and then proceed" (675) "It’s a country which has souls of worth, unfailing yields and ample worth" (731) Thirukkural.

 

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