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From roaring to wailing

So, the beleaguered Tiger chief made his annual speech on Thursday. It may have come as an utter disappointment to his backers at a time of their worst ever crisis. In 2005, he roared that he would revert to war. And he carried out that threat. But, three years on he himself is offering to stop war! What has gone wrong?

What characterises Prabhakaran's speech is a carpet biter's rage and venom. He exudes genocidal racism from every pore. Bizarrely, he has chosen to remain silent on Kilinochchi, which he vowed to defend at any cost a few weeks ago. His silence is, arguably, tantamount to concession of defeat. Else, he would have repeated his pledge to defend his self-declared capital. He seems to be aware that when torrential rains cease, the army will move into Kilinochchi and declare its capture.

Those of the Fuehrer's ilk never own up to mistakes. How can 'the divine' err? Prabhakaran blames everybody for his sorry plight but himself. He inveighs against the international community, the Co-Chairs including Norway. That is tigrine gratitude! "Some countries which identified themselves as so-called Peace Sponsors," Prabhakaran fumes, "rushed into activities which impaired negotiations." And he goes on: "When the ceasefire agreement … was abrogated unilaterally by Sinhala Sri Lanka, strangely no voice of protest was registered by any peace sponsor." Wasn't it he who violated the CFA over 3,000 times and began to launch unprovoked attacks on police and military personnel immediately after the election of the incumbent president in November 2005? There was no need for anyone to abrogate the CFA. It became as dead as a dodo the moment the LTTE started to target the police and the troops. Had he respected the CFA, war would still have been absent.

Now that Prabhakaran has offered to stop war, what is the solution he has in mind? He unilaterally suspended peace talks in 2003 as he failed to railroad the UNF government into setting up an Interim Self Governing Authority (ISGA), which was a halfway house between federalism and Eelam. None other than US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage viewed the ISGA proposal as something that went beyond the concept of federalism. He said it did not have any precedence. Why the UNF government could not bring itself to grant that demand in spite of its legendary pusillanimity is understandable.

Is Prabhakaran ready to settle for anything less than Eelam and/or an ISGA? An offer to stop war is of little use unless there is a real commitment on the part of the LTTE to negotiate a feasible solution. On Prabhakaran's own admission 'it was to expose the hypocrisy of the Sinhala state and at the same time to impress upon the international community our commitment to peace that we [LTTE] participated in the negotiations'. Isn't this proof that the LTTE had anything but a genuine desire for peace when it took part in the previous peace processes?

The LTTE has, as the EU Parliament pointed out in 2006, spurned Provincial Councils, Regional Councils and federalism as envisaged in the Oslo Declaration. So, what does Prabhakaran mean when he says '… we wish to stop the war and seek a peaceful resolution to the national question of our people'? Since Prabhakaran has rejected even federalism, the peaceful solution he is contemplating must be either Eelam on a platter or the ISGA. Isn't he trying to give the State Hobson's choice once again?

Interestingly, Prabhakaran flaunts his religious knowledge. He says, "In a country that worships the Buddha who preached love and kindness, racist hatred and war-mongering vie with one another." If he holds Buddhism in such high esteem, why on earth did he massacre nearly two hundred Buddhist devotees in Anuradhapura in 1985 and butcher a busload of Buddhist monks at Arantalawa in 1987? He also bombed the Sri Dalada Maligawa, where lies the sacred tooth relic of the Buddha? Isn't the devil quoting Tripitaka?

In some Indian movies, the harder the villain is thrashed, the better he becomes. Something similar seems to have happened to the Tiger chief. The man who roared not many moons ago and promised total war in his heroes' day speech in 2005 is now cooing. He has developed a sudden aversion to war! "In Sinhalam," he laments, "from politicians to spiritual leaders, from journalists to ordinary people, their voice is raised only in support of the war." So, those members of the Fourth Estate who have been trying to scuttle the war so as to curry favour with the Tiger chief have failed to impress him. He has lumped all journalists, holy men and unholy politicians together without recognising the services of the anti-war types among them.

What really takes the cake is Prabhakaran's appeal to India to lift the ban on the LTTE. He says, "Our people always consider India as our friend." As was pointed out earlier, Prabhakaran does not own up to his mistakes. "The racist Sinhala state," he says, "with its intrigue, conspired to bring enmity between our freedom movement and the earlier Indian administration." Then, who really blew Rajiv Gandhi to smithereens and changed the course of India's political history? If Prabhakaran thinks he can assuage India's fear, indignity and sense of shame stemming from the Rajiv assassination, he is sadly mistaken. This is what an eminent Indian writer says in an article, LTTE and the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, reproduced in this newspaper today: "To seek to destroy the integrity of the Indian nation is unpardonable but to imagine that the nation will forgive the perpetrators of the act is to scoff at the national conscience." Thus, if the Tiger chief is toying with the idea of duping India once again into supporting his macabre cause, he is living in cloud-cuckoo-land.

What a pathetic figure a hero has cut!

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