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Tamil Nadu politics to save Prabhakaran cannot save Sri Lankan Tamils

(November 13, Melbourne, Sri Lanka Guardian) After flashing excessive and ear-piercing sounds than soothing light, the Tamil Nadu Assembly unanimously passed a resolution yesterday demanding “an immediate halt of military operations, reverting the Sri Lankan military to old position and a commencement of political negotiations to find a solution to the Tamil problem.” This was predictable.

But this raises a question that cuts into the very military and political fundamentals of the Tamil Tigers. They consistently boast of being a superior military force that brought not only the Sri Lankan Army to its knees but defeated the fourth largest Army in the world – India. If the Tamil Tigers were able to defeat the Indian Army why is Karunanidhi, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, engaging in a futile exercise of forcing Delhi to save the mighty army of Velupillai Prabhakaran?

Either the boast of the Tigers was a verifiable fact that could be put to the test with the guarantee of coming up trumps in every military encounter. Or it was like most of its claims: a fiction of Prabhakaran’s imagination. Besides, the apologists of Prabhakaran argue that he cannot be defeated because he has the Tamil people behind him, even if the rest of the world refuses to back him. So where are the Tamil people – most of whom live with the demonized Sinhala people? Why are they not coming forward to rescue Prabhakaran?

The current reality is that there are three agents left for Prabhakaran hiding in his fortified bunker: 1) Karunanidhi whose myopia is increased by his dark glasses; 2) Mangala Samaraweera who has fought vain battle to prove that Oscar Wilde is superior to Don Juan and 3) the mentally crippled editor of The Leader, “Cassandra” Wickrematunga who believes that Prabhakaran is forcibly dragging out patients from hospitals, school children from the bosom of their parents and old, feeble men from their resting beds to wage “a liberation struggle.”

All three are no-hopers. Their future is as bright as that of Prabhakaran. All three of them – together with their side-kick, Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu in the foreign-funded NGO – are demanding that the advancing forces should stop the war. On the surface, it seems to be a reasonable argument because they intertwine it with the argument of saving Tamils who are facing a humanitarian crisis, though not on the unacceptable levels of the soul-searing crises in Rwanda, Congo or Sudan. Besides, it is virtually an argument to force the Sri Lankan forces (1) to lay down their arms and (2) to go back to the territory that was handed over to the Velupillai Prabhakaran by Ranil Wickremesinghe – with the advice and consent of the international community – when they signed the Ceasefire Agreement on February 22, 2002.

Ceasefire Agreement was the grand opening for peace, as hailed by the NGOs and other pundits, and also to ensure the preservation, protection and promotion of human rights of all concerned. But Prabhakaran without any compunction and with impunity, violated 95% of the terms and conditions of the Ceasefire Agreement. Where was the wisdom of Karunanidhi, Mangala Samaraweera (who backed the Army to the hilt) and “Cassandra” Wickremetunga then? Are they wise only when they are running with the tail between their legs? Aren’t they the chronic late developers who see the dawn of reality only when their illusions come apart and crumble before their eyes?

Their demand to stop the war, in effect, is tantamount to the Security Forces laying down their arms. An effective cessation of war is as good as laying down of arms. Consequently, any demand for the Security Forces to halt the war should be followed with a demand for the Tamil Tigers to lay down their arms. This is a sine qua non because feints of declaring ceasefires by the Tigers have become a standing joke in military and political circles, both at home and abroad.

But none of these agents has dared to insist on this simple formula of insisting on Tigers laying down their arms. After all they did it once before when the Indian Peace Keeping Force stepped into Sri Lanka. So why can’t Karunanidhi insist on it now?

This is a requirement to ensure peace because the armed Tigers have been unreliable partners in the peace deals of the past. At the end of a series of false unilateral ceasefire declared by the Tigers and the equal number of unilateral resumptions of wars, the only reliable guide to peace will be when the Tigers lay down their arms with the de-commissioning carried out under international supervision. This has been the standard approach to conflict resolution in peace deals mediated by Western powers and Sri Lanka should not be the exception.

The Tamil Nadu Assembly has all the overtones and undertones of saving the Tamil Tigers. It equates the Tamil people with the Tamil Tigers which is as near to the reality as Tamil Nadu is to Timbuktoo. Peace experiments have failed in the past because the Tigers rely on arms to push their negotiation to consolidate and strengthen the grip on power by the Tamil Tigers.

If there is one solid and incontrovertible lesson in the Tigers wars waged since Prabhakaran killed the mild-mannered Mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duraiyappah, in 1975 it is that neither their political objective of creating an Eelam, nor their violent methodologies leading war crimes and crimes against their own Tamil people can be the answer to a lasting peace for all communities in Sri Lanka. Of course, their power to generate violence demands some sort of accommodation with them in the short-term and the long-term, of both are possible. But in their commitment to intransigent and violent politics, driven by an unrepentant megalomaniac, there is no alternative to war to achieve a regime change in the Pol Potist gulag in the Vanni and open the space for non-violent politics to return to the main democratic stream.

Laying down of arms by the Tigers, therefore, is the key to peace. As long as he is armed he will be driven by his innate urge to violence aimed at undermining any peace deal that does not satisfy his insatiable appetite for power to rule the Tamils with an iron fist. An armed Prabhakaran will be a threat to his own people, to democracy and liberty of all communities, to humanitarian needs, and, of course, regional stability, peace and growth. Searching for peace without disarming Prabhakaran would be like Sarah Palin, the defeated US Vice-Presidential candidate, hunting for her moose dinner without a gun in Alaska.

The resolution passed by the Tamil Nadu assembly may help Karunanidhi and his noisy cohorts to relax for a while. But what is in it for the Tamil people who are facing the brunt of Prabhakaran’s violence? Can the Tamil Nadu Assembly stop Prabhakaran’s fascist agents knocking on the doors of Tamil people to recruit more school--going Tamil children? The list carried by Prabhakaran’s secret police force parents to hand over two children now, as opposed to one earlier, according to the University Teachers’ Report of Jaffna. How are the Tamil Nadu Assembly representatives going to save the Tail children from being sent as cannon fodder to fight the Sri Lankan forces?

Whether there is a war or not, whose responsibility is it to protect the children from being thrown as lambs to slaughter? How many resolutions will the Tamil Nadu Assembly –pass if the Indian Army comes knocking on their doors to take children away from homes into fights with Pakistani forces firing in snow-peaks up in the Himalayan regions?

So why should the war be stopped only from the Government end? The lurking suspicions on this aspect even in the minds of the Tamil Nadu groups, like the Communist Party, is real and disturbing. In fact, D. Pandian, Secretary of the Communist Party of India (CPI) raised this issue seeking clarification. The reply given by B. Nadesan, political head of the Tigers, will be hilarious to those who know the history of Tiger ceasefire.

TamilNet, (Saturday, 08 November 2008, 16:42 GMT] reported:
“Liberation Tigers Political Head B. Nadesan, when contacted by TamilNet on Saturday, following reports of Tamil Nadu leaders seeking clarification on LTTE's stand on ceasefire, said "there is no hesitation on our side to reiterate our position that we have always wanted a ceasefire." It is the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) that unilaterally abrogated the ceasefire, Mr. Nadesan said and added that the Tigers were only fighting a defensive war since Colombo has thrust upon Tamils an aggressive war.

“The LTTE Political Head also said they have always reiterated that they have been committed to the Ceasefire,” added TamilNet.

Ever since the defeat at Mavil Aru, the Tiger vocabulary is constantly hiding behind two common phrases: 1: “defensive war” and 2: “tactical withdrawal” not defeat. Nadesan, the ex-cop from Kirllapone, should know that Eelam War IV was started by the Tigers in Mavil Aru when they blocked the flow of water to farmers downstream. It was not defensive war but an unprovoked offensive war to impose their military and political power in the east. And each time they were forced to withdraw they came up with the cock-and-bull story of a “tactical withdrawal”. By definition, a “tactical withdrawal” is to hit and run today to fight another day. A “tactical withdrawal” is not a guarantee of a permanent cessation of violence. But in his usual double-speak he says that they have always wanted a ceasefire. He must go and say that to the marines in Tamil Nadu not to the war-weary people of Sri Lanka! Nadesan must have been a good cop when he was in the uniform of the Sinhala government. Unfortunately, after donning Prabhakaran’s uniform, he seems to be clueless as to whether peace can come out of a “tactical withdrawal” or a laying down of arms.

In the meantime, a train load of Indian students are being transported to Delhi to save Prabhakaran. Addressing the students at the Memorial Hall, Chennai, Wednesday afternoon, just before they boarded the train, Pandian said: “Ceasefire is not one-sided, said some. But when the CPI raised the matter the LTTE responded with their preparedness. Why India is still unable to press for it?”

The answer is elementary: the Ceasefire has always been a cover for the Tigers on the run, never when they were armed and on top. Tigers even surrendered arms when the IPKF came in but then it didn’t take long for the Tigers to turn the guns on the IPKF and kill 1,700 Indians.”

Pandian also announced: “Rajapaksa says the Tigers have to lay down arms. A Tamil will die standing on his feet, and never by begging on his knees.” Pandian is in total agreement on this issue with Prabhakaran. So what right has Pandian to pass resolutions in Tamil Nadu Assembly to stop the war and prevent the Tamils from standing up on their feet and fighting? Why should he object to the bravery of the Tamils unless he thinks the Tamils can’t do it?

Besides, the Sri Lankan government too has right not to beg on its knees from the armed Tigers. Ranil Wickremesinghe did that in February 2002 and where did it take him and the peace process? Pandian’s claim that the Tamils have a right not to beg on their knees should be honoured without a demur. But it should also be applicable to the Sinhalese too. So, going by the heroic logic of Pandian, let both of them stand up and fight. Let the better man win. Why ask India – a nation humiliated and defeated by the Tigers – to save Pandian’s brave Tamil, Prabhakaran?

H.L.D.Mahindapala: Editor, Sunday and Daily Observer (1990 - 1994). President, Sri Lanka Working Journalists' Association (1991 -1993). Secretary-General, South Asia Media Association (1993 -1994). He has been featured as a political commentator in Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Special Broadcasting Services and other mainstream TV and radio stations in Australia.)
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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