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Provide an amnesty; end the Tiger hunt

By Gamini Weerakoon

(September 06, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Minister Milinda Moragoda presenting passports and other travel documents to a group of former LTTE cadres who are to be rehabilitated in Malaysia was a refreshing report among the plethora of claims of rehabilitation of the victims of the three decades of the terrorist conflict. Some are bound to consider this Moragoda gesture as one of ‘tokenism.’ To avoid that charge such efforts would have to be repeated many folds for a considerable period of time

In some countries where civil conflicts — communal or political — have raged for long periods there comes a time for peace, sanity and establishment of social stability. Gestures such as the rehabilitation of the former LTTE cadres can restore some measure of confidence among the Tamil community but there are other reports of ‘Tiger hunts’ that can be counter productive to the objective of restoring normalcy between the two communities.

Heal

Instances have been cited in countries where specific measures have been taken to heal wounds and bring estranged parties together such as the Truth Commission in South Africa. However the contention of the Rajapakse government is that we need not follow examples from abroad but could do it ourselves.

The military triumph over terrorism that was considered to be an impossible task, even by Western powers, has given us sufficient inspiration and confidence of doing many things by ourselves. For a start we have been told our army and air force — are superior to one and all.

JVP rehabilitation

Indeed where social integration and rehabilitation is considered we do have quite a lot of experience, lasting over four decades although some may say that we have an equivalent amount of experience in social disintegration as well.

The 1970 JVP insurrection lasted only two to three months but it is estimated that around 25,000 rural youth perished in that adventure. It was an insurrection against the United Front led by the SLFP and the Trotskyite and Communist parties that was elected scarcely one year before. But it did underline the sharp social divide that existed between the rural poor and a ‘people’s government.’

To the SLFP that led the coalition it was a mere social aberration while to the Marxist parties it was a ‘CIA plot.’ The estrangement of the rural youth was not a matter for serious consideration. Land reform — in reality did not benefit the rural masses — they thought it was sufficient but then came the electoral debacle of 1977.

Twelve years later came the second JVP insurrection where an estimated 65,000 Sinhalese youth perished. Had social integration taken place after the first insurrection?

Political integration

It appears that at least a fraction of political integration has taken place with a faction of the JVP now being partners of the government.

Chandrika Kumaratunga forgave and absorbed the JVP into her government even absolving it of the murder of her husband! She wanted to defeat the UNP and went about digging mass graves but to no avail. Mahinda Rajapakse combined with the JVP and came to power. History will tell us more about this integration. Was it social or political?

Post-Pirapaharan

After May 18th, the day that signified the defeat of the LTTE with the death of Velupillai Pirapaharan, the government proclaimed the ‘liberation’ of the Tamil people. But the Tamils were not jumping for joy. They did not join in the festivities of the Sinhalese in offices or street corners. Even the so called ‘moderates’ were sullen or remained silent. They were confused.

While the Sinhalese leadership claimed that they were not against the Tamil people and only fighting LTTE terrorism, most Tamils did not totally reject the LTTE. Some in confidence pointed out that it was the LTTE that gave them leadership after 1983 when their leadership disappeared.

They abhorred LTTE terrorism: killings, abduction of children for war, extortion and extermination of the TULF leadership among many others but when it came to fighting between the LTTE and government security forces, it was: ‘We’ Vs Them. Some queried: If the LTTE was eliminated who would stand up for Tamils? Other than Anandasangaree there was no untainted Tamil politician left.

Status Quo

That appears to be the state in which the Tamil community is today. So what are the confidence building measures required? Some of the Rajapakse government’s efforts may take time for fruition. But the continuation of the Tiger hunt without presentation of substantial political proposals to bring them into the body politick has created considerable doubts about intentions of the government towards Tamils.

The search for Tigers continues under the stringent anti terrorist laws such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Undoubtedly most Tamils — committed LTTE supporters and even moderates have been highly critical of these laws and government agencies that implemented them. Not only Tamils but even Sinhalese, so called human rights activists could be faulted under these laws. Application of such legislation particularly when the government claims that LTTE terrorism has been eliminated will be grossly unfair to Tamils.

The ambiguity of government spokesmen on ‘elimination of LTTE terrorism’ provides the government an opportunity to take away with one hand what it has given with the other. While some spokesmen maintain that LTTE terrorism has been eliminated others claim it is not so and could be resurrected among he expatriate Tamil community. Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP) has been captured but others have taken over the leadership it is claimed. This is cited as justification for strict application of anti-terrorist laws.

What’s ‘liberation’ all about?

But if Tamils are to be considered guilty under anti-terrorist laws, even for alleged statements made in the past, what then is this ‘liberation’ song and dance all about?

It could be argued that even after 60 years of the defeat of the Nazis war criminals are still being hunted down. Even Augusto Pinochet’s henchmen guilty of similar crimes are still wanted by the Chilean people. But these hunts are only for those responsible for grave war crimes.

If countries such as Nazi Germany, Italy, Franco’s Spain or in modern times Pinochet’s Chile, Iraq, Suharto’s Indonesia, South Africa under Apartheid regime and other regimes are considered, more than half the populations that lived in those times could have been considered as war criminals because they sided with dictators.

Since the Rajapakse regime now has the opportunity of healing wounds between the two communities and creating a unified nation — which it claims to be its objective — it should have the confidence to proclaim an amnesty to all those who could be accused of violation of terrorist laws that did not seriously endanger the security of the state and stop the Tiger hunt save for the most dangerous of the species.
-Sri Lanka Guardian

3 comments

md said...

From Bhikhu Mandawala Pannawansa,

Yes, an amnesty should be granted to these young children of our nation. For more than 30 years, most young people of the North and East have been indoctrinated into violence. In short, they have been taught to believe in: "the end justifies the means" which has shown us enough that violence begets only violence. The young blood is easily attracted to this sanguinary doctrine!
Young hearts are direct and unselfish. They want to fight against what they see as unjust. Except leaders these young people did not join their movement in order to get a higher post or to become a minister! 90% of these children have come selflessly!
And these young children have to understand that, although their leaders offered them cyanide capsules, they have not been ready to swallow it! That is why, it is said that they came with white flags! Only the honest swallowed it!
When indoctrinated, these naive hearts can be used for any sinister purpose. That is how they come as kamikaze to explode themselves( like in Pettah bomb) among the innocent people who in no way are responsible for any crime (at least in this life!)
We could witness how two or three young indoctrinated militants of LTTE were shooting innocent civilians who had been used as a human shield when they wanted to come to army side! and paradoxically, these young people had joined their movement in order to offer them "liberation"!
Once violence is irrupted, then there is no end! there is no justice! (almost all the Marxist movements in the world has witnessed this) This has to be understood and these goodhearted young children should be granted amnesty and helped to rebuild their lives.
Without pardon, there is no peace. Our leaders have to "wage peace" today instead of putting them in jail in order to “rehabilitate them”. It is high time for this.
The Buddha advised us:
Hatred never appease hatred, only love can give peace.

Nathan said...

Brother,

Very good article, but the sad part is even you are not convinced that tamils had problem and LTTE is not actually a terorist group, they sacrifised their lives for tamils. The teuth is that tamils can be bought for money and women, Indian tamils are the worst. Those days i like singhalese and their food, still i am against sighalese only because they support Rajapaksa brothers and other bad governments. All we need is a licence to develop tamil area.

To my knowledge, we can not compare LTTE and JVP, entirely different issues. Rajapaksa kiilled more than 100 thousand tanils taking advantage of geo politics, we never know that same geo politics can change against him one day and drop a nuclear bom on his head. Frankly speaking rajapaksa brothers are not doing any goog to srilanka, they are doing more harm than good.Rajapaksa arrested KP because that idiot stayed in Malasia, which hate tamils, he can not do any thing in the wast, because to the west all asians are slaves and animals, they narmally smile to your face but inside they thing all asians are dogs, which is true.

One day Rajapaksa brothers will be arrested in the wast, and then i hope a good governmet will form and all of us, not me or my family, will live happyly in the united srilaka, or a natural disaster may happen and all srilankans will be Dionasores.

Tudor the Canadian said...

Once a killer always a killer

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