Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Declaring the very obvious by Susantha Goonatilake

Set free the democratic voices in the Wanni

The moving picture a few minutes after the attack was of a fond elder brother, the President hugging the younger brother, the Defence Secretary. This was an ordinary family response to an extraordinary event. A fact that requires emphasising, when we are still recovering from the damage done by the awful lost ten years of Chandrika Kumaratunga.

The attack on Gotabhaya Rajapakse comes a few months after the attack on the head of the armed forces Sarath Fonseka. The aim was clearly to neutralise the military command structure of the country. If there was a chink to be identified in the security of President Rajapaksa then there is no doubt that the LTTE would have eliminated him by now. The present attempt is the latest of a series of mind boggling attacks on high-level Armed Forces personnel and political power holders. Anybody who says there is a ceasefire is either a blind fool or a direct or indirect agent of the LTTE. For perspective it is important to recall and remind ourselves.

Recalling Deeds Most Foul

The list of political leaders killed by the LTTE is so large that any self respecting country would have embarked on several determined wars against them. Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India and President Premadasa of the UNP were blown up while President Chandrika Kumaratunga of the SLFP barely escaped with her life. It killed Foreign Minister Kadiragamar. Prime Minister Wickremanayake escaped an attempt on his life in October 2001.

Other UNP leaders that were killed include Gamini Dissanayake, Lalith Athulathmudali, C. V. Gooneratne, and Ranjan Wijeratne, all front-runners. UNP Tamil politicians eliminated include K. T. Pulendran, A. J. Rajasooriar, Mala Ramachandran from Jaffna, Vavunia and Batticaloa. Key TULF MPs killed include Appapillai Amirthalingam, Velmurugu Master, V Dharmalingam, Alakasunderam, Neelan Tiruchelvam and V. Yogeshwaran. (The TULF were mentors of the LTTE and used to refer to them as boys; the boys’ gratitude was through a bullet.) Other Tamil MPs killed include Uma Maheswaran of PLOTE; Ganeshalingam, Sam Thambimuttu, V. Yogasangari and A. Thangadurai of the EPRLF; Kanapathipillai Navaratnarajah of TELO; Canagasabai Rajathurai of EPDF and National Unity Alliance Trincomalee District candidate M. L. Baithullah. I am sure I have left off several other key politicians. Only LTTE mouthpieces in the form of the TNA were thereafter allowed to contest.

Mayors of Jaffna killed by the LTTE include Alfred Duraiappah, Canagasabai Rajathurai, Sarojini Yogeshwaran, Pon Sivapalan and recently Raviraj, the last mentioned very probably killed because he pointed out that the children of Prabhakaran were being educated in the West whilst he was kidnapping others' children and sending them to fight as cannon and suicide fodder.

Intensified War

Suicide attacks have intensified this year to almost the levels before the CFA. This is probably because this government has shown some rudimentary spine. On October 18, they attacked Galle harbour. On October 16 they attacked at Habarana. On June 26 they killed the Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Parami Kulathunga. On May 11 they targeted a ship carrying 700 troops. On April 25 they made an attempt on the life of Armed Forces Chief Sarath Fonseka. On March 25 an LTTE boat heavily laden with explosives destroyed a naval craft. On January 7 2005, 13 sailors were killed by another explosive filled boat. In July 7, 2004 they made an attempt on Minister Douglas Devananda.

The previous string of suicide attacks had occurred before the ceasefire. In November 15, 2001 they had attacked soldiers in Batticaloa. On October 30, 2001 they attempted a suicide attack on an oil tanker. On October 29, 2001 they failed in an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake. On July 24, 2001, a major suicide attack on the Katunayake International Airport destroyed a large number of aircraft. On October 19, 2000 a suicide attack occurred while the new Cabinet was taking office elsewhere. On October 5, 2000 a suicide attempt occurred at an election meeting of the People's Alliance. On October 3, 2000 they killed parliamentary candidate M. L. Baithullah of the National Unity Alliance. On September 15, 2000 a suicide bomber blew himself up near Health Minister Nimal Sripala de Silva. The list goes on. Beyond 2000 there were nearly 60 major suicide attacks; again I have probably left unmentioned many attacks.

Sheer Bestiality

Teaching a lesson on bestiality to the Taleban who destroyed the world's largest Buddha statues, the LTTE attacked our major centres of cultural and economic importance. Another international parallel would be the attack by Guy Fawkes on the British Parliament, one of Britain's key cultural symbols. The LTTE's sheer hatred of the majority of this country and of the global Buddhist world was seen in its attack on two of the most sacred Buddhist sites namely the Sri Maha Bodhi and the Dalada Maligawa. The attacks on the Central Bank, World Trade Centre and the international airport were in many ways our 9/11. In fact compared to our smaller size, these were much more significant events to us than the 9/11 attacks was to the US.

For the LTTE, the ceasefire has only been war by other means. They have paraphrased the well-known truism of the 19th-century war theoretician Clauswitz, that war was politics by other means. There is absolutely no doubt that the LTTE will make use of every future possibility to attack. Their goal of a mono ethnic separate state had never changed. In the very press conference at the time the CFA was signed, Prabhakaran bluntly stated that his goal was still a separate state.

The earlier attacks after the CFA were quite often probes. Now given every opportunity, they attack. The CFA also allowed for every Tom, Dick and Harry from abroad to interfere in us in the name of a self styled international community. It was signifiant that the Scandinavian truce monitors whom we invited to judge us did not condemn the attack on Gotabhaya Rajapaksa but only expressed concern over it. One fails to understand how the government still allows at the pain of death of its very key government officials these interlopers, to breathe on us and prevent us taking on the LTTE.

Other independent countries find an excuse to declare war when they are slighted. A classic case was that of the United States in its declaration of war in Vietnam by a cooked up event - the fictitious attack in the Gulf of Tomkins. World War 1 began after only one assassination.

Today we have a tighter and more meaningful security regime than in the awful times of Chandrika or that of Ranil and his non-operational international security net. If one looks at the series of suicide bomb attacks before the ceasefire and during the last few months one sees that there are more and rising attacks. An easy means of checking this is to go to the website of SPUR - expatriates in Australia - who have a very good database. (Working voluntarily, SPUR has done more for the country in bringing out LTTE atrocities than has the Foreign Ministry or the Peace Secretariat).

The CFA handed over large chunks of territory as reward for LTTE attacks. It was a time when the Deep Penetration Unit was causing havoc among the LTTE leadership. Prabhakaran was frightened and nervous as his close confidants were being targeted. Post-CFA, the DPU was exposed and killed off one by one. And now the LTTE's own DPUs are free to roam and assassinate in the South.

On the ground the CFA is for all practical purposes, dead and of no relevance. We have yet to formally acknowledge it. This one-sided document allowed the LTTE to have an area declared as its own. The International Crisis Group has pointed out that the ceasefire agreement was wrong in principle. We do not require foreign pundits to point out this obvious fact. Those with elementary commonsense and basic knowledge would have come to that conclusion at the time the CFA was written. After the CFA, the ban on the LTTE was lifted by the then government which had won its election promising that the LTTE would stay banned.

Without a ban, the LTTE can act openly. A ban will not staunch fully supplies to the LTTE or its activities. But it will make them difficult. The European Union and North America cannot object to our banning the LTTE which is banned in these countries. (Sixty years after independence we are in a situation where we have to justify to our new colonial masters every step that we take to safeguard our sovereignty. That is our foreign policy.) There is speculation that opposition to renewing the ban on the LTTE has come from some elements associated with our foreign policy. This is a situation where foreign interests interfere within the country through our own organs that are supposed to protect our interests abroad.

LTTE infiltration in the ideological sphere is far more dangerous than LTTE infiltration with arms in Colombo. With large amounts of dollars to dispense to subvert the country foreign funded NGOs with known support for the LTTE have been spreading complete falsehoods on Sri Lanka's ethnic relations both locally and abroad. They have questioned the need for sovereignty and have continuously asked for foreign intervention in this country. At these crucial times, they have dulled the national consciousness while misleading the country and demotivating the Armed Forces. One such outfit wanted to demilitarise the Armed Forces. It still operates in the country with a German director. Any other country would have arrested many of these for their proven track record of supporting the LTTE.

Go to the Jugular

Many have spoken of history repeating itself sometimes as a farce. In our case it repeats over and over again as a record stuck in its groove; not as comedy but as continuous tragedy. Mr President, it is not only the existence of this country that is at stake but also of your very life and that of family and friends close to you. So act now.

Ban the LTTE. Openly declare the obvious, namely that the ceasefire agreement is no more. Send armed probes and armed columns deep into the territory illegally declared as that of the LTTE. Draw out on many fronts the depleted LTTE cadres. Gun them down. Gun him down. Set free the democratic voices in the Wanni. Some of these require only the stroke of a pen, others more effort. Only then can you, your family and friends and the country breathe in peace.


No comments: