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Can there be a permanent political solution under Pirapaharan’s leadership?

By Arun Siva

(May 01, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Note from the Editors of Sri Lanka Guardian: Writer Arun Siva has analysed the political integrity, rather the total lack of it of the leader of the LTTE most vividly and from an entirely practical point of view to help see the realities that face him and more particularly, the entire Tamil community too.

This feature is particularly relevant to the young Tamil pro-LTTE Diaspora who have made a foolish emotional issue out of the so-called leadership of Velupillai Pirapaharan and the actualities that face him and have made a global exposition of their immature and imprudent adulation of a mass killer who has no political ideology except that he and he alone can be the sole voice of the Tamils having decimated just about everyone who took a different stand. The very reason why he was tolerated for three decades and a half goes against him; Terror.

Just like tuition centre teenagers were mesmerized on an anti-Sinhala cry to hail him as the Great Deliverer, young Tamils of the Diaspora have been brainwashed into take up this cry in the streets of the western world, nearly all of them ignorant of the background of this man. There are certainly some dark forces behind these demonstrations

It is also feared that none of these young people really understood the man behind this terror leadership, his political ambitions and how counterproductive they are to the interests of the Tamils in Sri Lanka let alone the entire people of the country. His brutal and ruthless nature has been described in their extremities and he has been responsible foir the killing of two national leaders and scores of intellectuals and political moderates and thousands of ordinary people, such is his lust for sole voice power.

He placed his ambitions principally on child soldiers and young girls and boys inducted as suicide bombers.

 Setting aside for a moment the question of what the Sri Lankan Government will do as a solution to the ethnic conflict and whether there would be a Sinhala consensus for it, the key question that the Tamil community should seriously seek an answer for is whether there can ever be a permanent political solution to the Tamil national question under the leadership of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Velupillai Pirapaharan.

In order to seek an answer to this question, let us assume that there is an offer by the Sri Lankan Government, backed by the consensus of the majority Sinhalese, a political structure with substantial devolution of powers but short of a separate state as a permanent political solution.

What would that mean to Pirapaharan?-

If he accepts it, he has to emerge from his bunkered underground to the open to a civil life.

Can this be a practical reality for him?

This is not possible for him for the following reasons:

Firstly, he is a convicted criminal having been tried in absentia as the first accused in the Rajiv Ghandi assassination case by the Indian Judiciary. There is an open warrant for his arrest and his colleague and Head of the LTTE Intelligence Unit, Pottu Amman. He is on the Interpol’s list of ‘wanted’ men. If he comes into the open, he would face the arrest warrant and hauled before the Indian Courts. The Indian government has even recently asked for his extradition.

It cannot be expected of the Indian government to pardon him by a Presidential Decree, as, first, the judicial process of him appearing in the Courts to face his charges and sentence have to take its own course.

The majority of the people of India would also be averse to the idea of him getting a pardon. Since the assassination of Rajiv Ghandi on the Indian soil, except for a few politicians of Tamil Nadu, there is no significant support from the main stream political parties of Tamil Nadu for him or for the LTTE. The people and particularly those of the Congress party still harbour anger against him for the murder of their leader.

Also, the general perception of the Indian Press and the Intelligence Agencies about Pirapaharan and his outfit is that they are hand in gloves with certain agencies and forces that are inimical to India’s interests and therefore cannot be trusted.

Under the circumstances, Pirpaharan will have no choice but to face the trial and possibly sentenced to death or spend the rest of his life in an Indian prison condemned as a criminal. He would not want to subject himself to this prospect of certain ignominy by accepting a political solution and coming into a civil life,

Secondly, in one of his past Heroes’ Day speech, Pirapaharan had categorically stated that if he is to ever give up the demand for a separate state of ‘Eelam’, he can be shot by any of the Tiger cadres. To reinforce this, at the Press conference in Kilinochchi in 2002, in reply to a reporter’s question, he had confirmed that “the edict still stands”. He had thus placed himself into a corner that he cannot accept any political settlement short of ‘a separate state’. Even in his last annual Heroes’ Day address, he ended it with the slogan ‘The Thirst of the Tigers is Tamil Eelam’.

Thirdly, in connivance with the then President of Sri Lanka, Ranasingha Premadasa, he sabotaged the 1987 Indo–Sri Lanka Accord which, as a solution to the Tamil national question, provided a reasonable political framework with a merged North- East Tamil homeland under a united Sri Lanka. It was supported by the political parties that represented the Muslims as well.

Whatever excuses he had adduced for the sabotage, the simple truth is that it was because he and the LTTE were not given the sole and unfettered authority to rule over the people of the merged North and East at the exclusion of all other political parties. Since then, allured by the rhetoric of Tamil nationalism and the mirage of a separate Tamil state, thousands of youths and even children have fought and lost their lives. Until the Indo- Sri Lanka Accord of 1987, the number the LTTE cadres who had died were only 425.

Since the sabotage of the Indo- Sri Lanka Accord, many thousands of LTTE cadres have died, many thousands of civilian maimed and killed, several thousands of others have been rendered refugees and the millions worth of properties have been damaged. Pirapaharan has to account to the kith and kin of all these people who have lost their loved ones and who have been made destitute.

They and those remaining Tiger cadres who had not benefited financially as some of their leaders have, will sooner or later, make him answer for having misled them with the lure of a separate state and made them fodder for his futile wars. There will come a moment of time his own cadres will mass up against him.

Fourthly, he has been responsible for the murder of many cadres, supporters, and sympathisers, intellectuals and politicians belonging to the other parties such as TELO, EPRLF, EPDP, TULF and TMVP. The kith and kin of those killed by him and his cohorts in the LTTE will be braying for his blood.

Fifthly, his organisation was responsible for the forced eviction of thousands of Muslims virtually almost overnight from Jaffna after confiscating their properties and stripping them of their belongings. It was also responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Muslims praying at the Kathankudy mosque. Some of the Muslims who were afflicted by these atrocities unleashed by the Tigers will await their time to avenge their sufferings.

Sixthly, in the event of a political solution, he will have no option but to disarm. This is the last thing he would like because without weapons he is virtually a dead man.

Therefore, Pirapaharan cannot and will not accept any political solution that is short of a separate state.

Pirapaharan may be a maniac, obstinate, and selfish but he is not a fool. He surely knows that, in the context of the current politico geographic reality, a separate state is not at all feasible. Moreover, the moral claim for a separate state died with the death of hundreds of TELO and EPRLF cadres the Tigers mercilessly massacred at Pirapaharan’s behest in the houses and the streets of the North and East.

Even the distant political possibility of a separate state died when he scuttled the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord which for the first time legally and constitutionally provided a North-East merged Tamil homeland and installed a Provincial Council comprising of Tamils and Muslims, administered in Trincomalee as the capital. Nevertheless, he had herded the Tamil people towards a ‘Tamil Eelam’ dream by continuing to drum up a façade that a separate state is ‘around the corner’ and that his deft manoeuvres will eventually lead to that and it is only a matter of time.

He knows very well that only as long as he stands for a separate state his life is safe. He has thus no alternative but to avoid, under one pretext or the other, all attempts at a permanent political solution. A negotiated political solution necessarily implies a settlement under a united Sri Lanka and no country will ever agree to the outcome of a separate state by negotiations.

Therefore, he will seek only certain interim arrangements such as a further Ceasefire Agreement that will safeguard his position and authority. He will play around this option in order to exert his grip again.

He will resort to hit and run guerrilla tactics, continue to assassinate those opposed to him branding them as traitors, sabotage any elections, devolution of powers or developments programmes, unleash suicide bombers and engage in terrorism irrespective of the consequences in terms of damage, death and destruction that would be caused to the people and which would only continue to provide an excuse for the military occupation of the North & East.

The attacks on the armed forces will inevitably make them unleash their terror in turn resulting in many civilian casualties. The cycle of violence will thus be triggered and anti Sinhala sentiments will be aroused and let loose.

In this the major causalities would be the innocent and hapless Tamil civilians. To say that the Tamils are defenceless without Pirapaharan and the LTTE is being blind to the fact that the North –East have more army camps and establishments of the Sri Lankan security forces than ever before and the homeland of the Tamil speaking people is under the military occupation than ever before.

Pirapaharan might even if cornered, ultimately take the very cyanide capsule he prescribed to his cadres.

Therefore, the logical conclusion that one can arrive at is that a permanent political solution is neither possible nor feasible under the leadership of Pirapaharan.

This is the reality challenge that the Tamil community faces.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

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