Jehan Perera and his three parameters for a lasting peace.

“The three parameters I would suggest for lasting peace are (1) eliminate terrorists, (2) work for a real communal unity, without bias towards the Sinhala Community because they are the majority, (3) subordinate communal identity to a larger Lankan National Identity.”

by Charles.S.Perera

(August 20, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Jehan Perera in the Sri Lanka Guardian of the 12 August,2008 spells out " The Three Basic Parameters for Lasting Peace ". I was happy as at last some one has found the solution for peace and happiness in Sri Lanka after all these years of deaths and suffering. But has he really ?

He starts by questioning why the government has set an ultimatum for the deserters from the armed forces to return to duty. He says it is an indication of the existing stresses in society due to the intensity of the war in the north. The advancing army needs more man power to secure newly captured areas, that being a bigger problem in the North than it was in the East.

North is mono-ethnic and is different from multi-ethnic east. In the north things want be so easy, for the army Jehan Perera says, as it was in the east . The Sinhala speaking government forces will have difficulty getting information on LTTE movements from the Tamil speaking population.

LTTE resistance will be greater in the north. Here he makes a foolish statement to down play the capability of the government forces, by saying that in the east the LTTE withdrew its army rather than offer resistance. Jehan Perera makes it appear that the army did not win a battle over the LTTE to regain the east, it is he says, as if the LTTE just turned it over to them. He warns the government forces, that they will have more problems in the north as the LTTE has no where else to go and will fight with their back to the wall.

Jehan Perera in his attempt to draw International sympathy to the cause of the LTTE terrorist, does not see a difference between the government forces, and the terrorists. It seems to me that it is with the motive to get the intervention of the International community, that he writes with regard to humanitarian crisis, before he gives his three basic parameters for peace. He says, that as the army advances using their long range artillery , there would be more people displaced from their villages, causing damage to civilian infrastructure, even if they are denied by the military spokes person. However, to show his objectivity he mentions, that LTTE sets up camps in the vicinity of civilian settlements, which may cause collateral implications on the civilian population.

He cites statistics, that in July alone there were 50,000 displaced persons, which adds to the previous numbers. The humanitarian organizations are unable to attend to the needs of the IDPs for shelter, water , and sanitation, due to restrictions placed upon them by the government, to stop these facilities finding their way to the LTTE. Jehan Perera speaks of humanitarian organisations without mentioning the efforts of the government to bring assistance to the displaced civilians.

Jehan Perera states, that the welfare of Sri Lankan citizens ought not to be subordinated to military necessities. He deliberately avoids saying, that the government despite all difficulties sends food and medicine, and provides Education and Health facilities to the North despite the fact, that some or most of the food and medicine sent for the civilians are consumed also by the terrorists themselves. He brings in the Catholic Bishop of Mannar to support his painting of a picture of the plight of the IDPs sheltered under the way side trees, forgotten by the government which feeds only its armed forces.

All that Jehan Perera, and the Good Bishop say are again for the information of the International Community. The truth he hides, behind the destitution he describes, resulting from the war against terrorism. He does not speak of the Schools and the Hospitals in the areas controlled by the terrorist, that had been utilised by them as shelters from which to attack the government forces. This is seen from the images sent from the areas captured by the government forces.

So far all what he had said is to minimise the effort of the Government Forces to liberate North from the terrorists, as they did in the East. He insists with his arguments, that what is awaiting the Government Forces in the north, is quite different from what it had been in the East-which was offered to the Government forces by the terrorist, who withdrew its cadre from the east to defend the North.

Lasting peace.

Jehan Perera finally comes to offer his three parameters for lasting peace. But h cannot leave out the pleas of the Bishop Joseph. Perhaps Jehan Perera has forgotten the Catholic Action that was active in 1960s in Sri Lanka, which was exposed by Bauddha Jathika Balavegaya lead by Mr.L.H.Mettananda.

It was thanks to Mr. Mettananda and others of the Bauddha Jathika Balavegaya that there was a renaissance of Buddhism, putting an end to the secret scheming of the Catholic Church. Catholic Church had always been against a revival of Buddhism after colonialism. It had been behind the Catholic Army Officers Coup in 1962 to overthrow the government of Mr. Bandaranaike. It will still like International Intervention in Sri Lanka to help the LTTE terrorist, in their moment of defeat.

Therefore, it is not necessary to repeat what the Bishops and Archbishops say to substantiate his arguments. They may very well use terrorism to fulfil their failed ambitions of the former times, and will not stand by the Government of Sri Lanka. However, quoting Bishop Joseph, Perera says the military imperatives have taken priority and the government is unlikely to listen to the pleas of the Bishop, as it would not do any thing that can jeopardize its military effort.

This is not true as the planning and execution of the "war" against terrorism has been handed over to the Armed Forces, which act independent of political interference. And the government carries on different development programmes, despite all anti democratic tactics employed by the International Community, the UN and the EU, using "violation of human rights" as a new form of obstacle to hinder the progress of developing countries

Only logical solution for the present impasse for progressive development of the country lies in the elimination of terrorism. To achieve that it depends not only on the Government and its security forces, but also on the people- including Jehan Perera and Bishops of the Catholic Church. They should understand the bonafides, and the sincerity of the efforts of the government , and demand the terrorists to give up their "logic" of resisting defeat, and lay down arms and surrender to the government to save the suffering of the IDPs, and stop further deaths of both the mislead terrorist cadre, and the soldiers of the armed forces.

A war situation whether it is a declared war between countries, or simple incursions into areas occupied by terrorists has unfortunate consequences. The areas under artillery attacks will be special high security areas, and looking for democracy in such a situation is a foolish undertaking, and the rule of law may be in temporary suspension.

During the world wars those who publicly challenged or criticized the "logic of war", and proposed alternative courses of action were considered committing high treason and were imprisoned. It may be necessary for the government to consider similar action to stop critics who through their assumed superior wisdom may put in danger the soldiers and the civilians hemmed between the warring parties.

Apparently Jehan Perera has no parameters for lasting peace, for he borrows ideas from Fr; Tissa Balasuriya. Jehan Perera speaks of draft proposals for peace made by Fr. Balasuriya, one of which had been accepted by a majority of the Tamils, including expatriates, and condemned by the Sinhala considering it Fr. Balasuriya's modus operandi, to keep the LTTE terrorists from being militarily defeated (which is more likely).

Then in a subsequent draft where Fr.Balasuriya had included a commitment to lay down arms by the LTTE terrorists, the Tamil support had dropped. Jehan Perera concludes from this experience of the submission of the draft proposals by Fr.Balasuriya, that on both sides of the ethnic divide the belief in the armed struggle continues to retain its hold.

Finally, as war is the path to endless suffering, which Sri Lanka needs to get off if it is to prosper, proposes his famous parameters for lasting peace: (a) a united country, (2) a federal based political solution implemented by the government, and (3) the laying down of arms by the LTTE

I do not wish to comment on his parameters. But I would suggest Mr. Jehan Perera, to understand: (1) the mentality of the terrorists, (2) Understand the mentality of some of those who try to benefit from a bad situation, (3) demand the terrorists to lay down arms and at least now negotiate a peace settlement, (4) stop putting the blame on an elected responsible government, and (5) help the Government in its effort to eliminate terrorism and use his experience, and the ability write , to work for the unity of the three main Communities of Sri Lanka.

The three parameters I would suggest for lasting peace are (1) eliminate terrorists, (2) work for a real communal unity, without bias towards the Sinhala Community because they are the majority, (3) subordinate communal identity to a larger Lankan National Identity.

It is surprising that Jehan Perera had not used the word "terrorists " even once in his article
- Sri Lanka Guardian