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Report 10



1.1 Failure of democracy and the culture of repression

1.2 Crucial differences

1.3 The armed forces and the nemesis of lawlessness

1.4 Reporting and National Unity: Operations in the North

1.5 Peace Moves

1.6 The Role of NGOs, Religious bodies and Non-party organisations


1.1 Failure of democracy and the culture of repression

 On 10th December 1992, Human Rights Day, demonstrators led by some opposition parliamentarians on a peaceful march in Slave Island raising the issue of tens of thousands disappeared over the years were set upon by the police. The demonstrators were tear gassed  attacked with batons and even journalists covering the event were subject to assault. The police were also assisted by persons not in uniform. The following day accounts of the incident were given in parliament by Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Mahinda Rajapakse, the MPs concerned. There was laughter from the government benches when the first described the treatment by the police of the latter.

 So soon had recent history been forgotten.When Tamil MPs in the late 70s and early 80s described the behaviour of the forces in the North -East, there used to be sneering jubilation from government benches. The events inexorably led to the three year closure of the universities in the South, the arrival of the IPKF and the JVP uprising. The government members were then anything but jubilant. MPs were among the 40 thousand or so killed. Several of the once all - powerful top brass in the services tried everything from medical leave to resignation.

 The events of 10th December were not isolated. A few months ago Yunoos, cartoonist for the much respected Aththa, journal of the Communist Party, was stabbed, leading to protests by journalists.On 10th October, the lady mayor of Nuwara Eliya and several of her body guards took strong arm measures to block the sales of two newspapers, the Ravaya and the Yukthiya. This led to protest meetins in the town organised by journalists affiliated to the Free Media Movement and the use of the Police in attempts to deter them.
 The unhealthy drift in the political culture was also reflected in an event in the University of Colombo involving Dr. Nalin de Silva of the the Department of Mathematics and prominently of the Jathika Chinthanaya Movement. Dr. de Silva adopted an insensitively communal position on the ethnic question. This position maintained at best that the ethnic problem did not exist or at worst that it was an Indian ploy, notwithstanding years of bloody civil strife. The Doctor's affairs of immediate concern to the university were however his reportedly controversial relations with his colleagues and students. It was generally alleged that his brash attitude to colleagues and the conduct of students influenced by him were disruptive to the functioning of the university. On 4th December the university council issued a suspension order against him and even before the suspension was explained, followed it up the next day with an interdiction order. The university was at this time closed due to disruption. It became evident as the days followed that the matter was not so simple. Silva had been repeatedly elected to responsible positions in staff unions. Currently he is president of the Federation of University Teachers' Associations (FUTA) and also of the University  Science Teachers' Association.
    The problem was thus that though many of Dr. de Silva's colleagues disapproved of his actions, the matter was referred to higher authorities because there was no functioning structure, such as a healthy union, that could discuss the matter and take up positions. This would have been the right way to constrain aberrant conduct among colleagues. On the part of the authorities, they left themselves open to accusations of high-handedness by acting against Dr. de Silva without first calling for his explanation. Several of Dr. de Silva's colleagues feel that his conduct has been both insulting and intimidating. The kind of political ideology articulated by Dr. de Silva inevitably leads to conduct that is insensitive and oppressive. Those like him may arouse sympathy by rightly pointing out the shortcomings of the system. But their ultimate role is not of reform, but to exacerbate these shortcomings and profit by them. It is amidst this broad failure of sound traditions  that there is a resort to levers of power that prudence demands should, if at all, be touched sparingly and with caution. Thus the unhappy trend in our universities continues. Instead of training the intellect and character of students, they too are being trained, like their peers, to think and act like army brigadiers.

 There is also a general concern that any charges framed against Dr. de Silva would of necessity have to be so vague and general as to create a precedent for more thoroughgoing victimisation of those not liked by the authorities. Expressing his concern about the whole procedure while dissociating from Dr. de. Silva's views, Osmund Jayaratne, trade unionist and professor emeritus ended his letter to the Island' with a line from Shakespere's Hamlet': `There appears to be something wrong in the state of Denmark'.

 In the end there is little happening to challenge the tragedies of the last decade. Once again the summoning of brute force is being advanced as a panacea for the inconveniences of those with authority. That recent history has shown it to be a fast wasting asset, has been forgotten.

 This line evidently has a wider application when one looks at the state of the political culture within which the more pressing question of the civil war is being addressed. [Top]

1.2 Crucial differences

 There are many reasons why history cannot once again flow along the same channels. In the early 8Os the power and arrogance of the state were largely unchallenged. The July 1983 violence, the civil war, the arrival of the IPKF, the JVP episode, the government's discredited relations with the LTTE, a series of dubious election results, the humiliation of state forces and the much publicised attempt to impeach the president leading to arm twisting within the ruling party, have all helped to erode the authority and image  of the state. A positive feature of the Southern polity, as opposed to the Northern polity, is that enough pluralism has survived in the South to make this current crisis good for democracy. There is a more visible attempt to assert the freedom of the press, and brave attacks upon it. The Yukthiya has published the reflections of a soldier questioning the military policy of 15 years directed against the Tamils. But the overwhelming majority of leaks from the army receiving press publicity deal not with the Tamil question, but with the helpless anger within the army directed at the political establishment and the government in particular.

 Whether the present opportunity for democracy will be used with success depends on whether or not the ideology of Sinhalese chauvinism will be challenged and laid to rest. Only thus can the Tamil counterpart of this ideology be denied legitimacy, laying the foundation for a united Sri Lanka. An earlier opportunity did arise when the IPKF arrived in 1987, but was mislaid, plunging the country into a  blood-bath. Although the present government for its own survival may see a need to challenge Sinhalese chauvinism, it is too weak to offer an initiative. The task thus falls primarily on NGOs and other organisations with an interest in democracy. [Top]

1.3 The armed forces and the nemesis of lawlessness

 In a deviation from the headlines that one gets used to,`the Christian Worker' of November 1992 carried the singular caption: Justice for Voters and Generals?. The articles inside dealt with the Election Commissioner Chandrananda de Silva's report published earlier in the year, the famous clandestine disclosures of Udugampola, former DIG of Police, and the deaths of ten leading service men, including General Kobbekaduwa, in a landmine blast on the eve of a major military operation last August. The election commissioner in his report earlier this year pointed by implication to considerable malpractice during the February 1989 parliamentary elections while the police looked on. In another of his disclosures made in April from hiding, former DIG Udugampola added that terrorism prevailing at that time was a necessary cover for the UNP's (government party's) machinery of fraud to operate without impediment. Among the methods alleged by the DIG was the deployment of `Black Cats' supplied by UNP MPs to kill opposition (mainly SLFP) activists. The DIG said that he had 6O names of persons so killed.

 The end result of all this was a heightened sense of insecurity and cynicism in the South. People were ready to believe the meanest allegations made against the state. Conspiracy theories which began with the mysterious crash of Upali Wijewardene's jet in 1982 reached a crescendo with General Kobbekaduwa's death. Defence Minister Ranjan Wijeratne's death in a car bomb explosion last year had given rise to a bout of speculation given subsequent revelations of intimate contacts between top UNPers and a deported Singaporean financier and gambling magnate. Wijeratne had acted against the latter on the findings of his brainchild, the Bureau of Special Operations headed by Udugampola.The BSO wound up in January 1992. About the time of Kobbekaduwa's death the country had been abuzz with bizarre stories of magic rituals for the protection of VIPs, soothsayers and disappearing virgins-the last hotly denied by irate senior policemen.

 With the killing of the 1O leading servicemen in a mine explosion in Kayts the dam burst. The one man commission comprising Justice Ismail appointed by the government to quell rumours, failed to stem the tide of press speculation fuelled by leaks from the forces. What the investigation proved with near certainty was that the Tigers could not have done it. The explosion occurred on a disused jeep track adjacent to the cleared main track in use. With all the imponderables of the officers' arrival and movements, if the Tigers were to spend time planting a mine in a relatively open space in the proximity of two army posts, they would have hardly chosen that spot. This left the most reasonable explanation that the mine was an old one planted before the army took that area, as maintained by army spokesmen. The alternative explanation of an inside job was almost unthinkable in a country that had singularly failed to keep even one secret. Nevertheless the tide of speculation persisted. The report of a former British army expert based on an examination of photographs of the scene taken by colleagues of the officers led the late general's wife to ask the president for an international inquiry which was promptly acceded to.

 The subsequent killing of Admiral Clancy Fernando in Colombo by a suicide bomber was relatively uncontroversial as the cause was patent. The LTTE did not help matters when it claimed responsibility for the killing of the 1O officers which it could hardly have done and kept quiet on the Clancy Fernando affair. A desperate government media eager to quash speculation publicised the LTTE admission of the first together with photographs of an award ceremony graced by the leader for cadres alleged to have planted the bomb. The people in Jaffna were aware that the LTTE made the claim only after the government media broadcast the event in August. The common strand in the speculation both in the North as well as the South dealt with the near certainty of secret collusion between leaderships of the warring adversaries.

 For many army officers and men it was a time of creeping doubts as to why, what and for whom they were giving their lives. The top brass were in public dispute about objectives. Among the men desertion increased sharply.

 Speaking in parliament on 19th Novemeber, Lakshman Jayakody (SLFP) gave the human cost of the war since July 1983 as follows: 30 000 civilians of all communities dead, inclusive of militants. 8000 made limbless, 600 000 made refugees. A further 200 000 displaced persons living with friends and relatives, 170 000 in India and another 200 000 outside South Asia Defence expenditure stood at an annual US $500 million.(See 6.1 for some different estimates given by Dr. Nithyananthan of the University of Jaffna). For the forces: 5500 service and police personnel killed since July 1983, 7700 desertions - nearly 1300 since August.

 By thus demeaning law and humanity, the government and the forces became authors of their own paralysis. The heartfelt tributes paid to the dead are of comfort to those once near to them who are left behind in the face of uncertainties. But the reputations of men who may have accomplished much good in happier circumstances will of necessity remain sullied by the institutions they served. Questions over their own deaths were not dissimilar to those which arose over the fates of their victims, in a country lacking in points of moral reference.

 Addressing a routine multi-party conference a few months before he died, Ranjan Wijeratne told a Tamil group in answer to  a question about Tamil detainees: "We are not interested in whether they are guilty or innocent. If you say they are your cadre, we will release them." Other appeals made subsequently over persons taken by the forces from refugee camps and who then disappeared fell on deaf ears. During Operation Liberation in May 1987 civilian detainees viewed by then Brigadier Kobbekaduwa at Nelliady junction were a little later taken down Pt Pedro Rd, asked to run and shot at from  behind. Despite the islands off Jaffna being taken by forces under General Kobbekaduwa in August 199O with next to no resistance by the LTTE, more than 7O civilians were killed at close range. Several of them were killed by the forces after being made to perform forced labour. The late general may have been enlightened by the standards of the normal run of military men in this country. It is by no means obvious that troops under his command were more humane than others. The nation has failed these men in leaving grave doubts hanging over their memories.[Top]

1.4 Reporting and National Unity: Operations in the North

 The war on the government side, it is said, is being fought to  unite the country. But the attitudes to the lives and dangers faced by people whose reconciliation within the national fold is being sought remains curious. Regular reports dealing with the North are of the kind below:
Island, 12.11.92: JOC said yesterday that, "the Navy observed a flotilla of about 10-15 boats approaching the Naval Sub Unit at Nagathevanthurai (in Jaffna Lagoon) and opened fire. Terrorists on board returned the fire and having altered course fled the area. It is believed terrorists on board suffered casualties, but details are not available at present.

Daily News, 30.11.92:"Security forces have destroyed 25 boats at a Sea Tiger base in outer Mathagal, while the navy has destroyed around 5O LTTE craft in the Jaffna lagoon during the last month. In addition air force bombers are attacking LTTE targets in several areas of the North.

Island, 9.12.92: "The navy opened fire and destroyed three speeding boats in the Jaffna Lagoon according to northern military sources. The sources said the boats were being used by the LTTE to transport fuel and other supplies. The navy recovered the wreckage of a boat and a few barrels of fuel.

Island, 27.12.92: "Sri Lankan air force planes bombed Tamil guerilla positions in the northern rebel stronghold of Jaffna, military sources said today.

"We took some targets-known terrorist camps- on Wednesday", a senior officer in charge of operations in the North said."But we had no details of the bomb damage or casualties yet."

Other reports of this kind mention the navy firing on `terrorist' boats in the lagoon killing terrorists and recovering supplies such as bicycles, food and fuel without bothering to tell us whether the persons shot  at were armed or had fired at the navy. The following nearly humorous piece appeared in the Daily News of 2nd December 1992:
Navy seizes Tiger boats, smugglers leap into lagoon

The Shri Lanka Navy's inshore patrol craft, operating in the Jaffna lagoon, seized two LTTE boats in the early hours of Monday. The occupants jumped overboard and are presumed dead.

The encounter was on the southern side of the lagoon, east of Nagathevanturai, at 3.55 am. The captured boats, equipped with two outboard motors, were said to have been carrying 5O gunny bags of rice and sugar and 42 bicycle frames smuggled from the mainland to the Jaffna peninsula.

"It looks as if Tiger mobility is now limited on the peninsula. They would otherwise not need bicycle frames. Maybe the other items needed to assemble complete bicycles have already been taken across, or have still to get across," a senior military officer said yesterday.

He said that on the previous night at 9.15 pm, the navy had sunk yet another terrorist craft in the same area and all those aboard it were believed drowned.

"May be cycle trimmings were in that boat?" the officer speculated. The navy was being very vigilant in this particular area, after these incidents, he said.

The Colombo, English press did however give us some glimpses of what was really going on:

Daily News 19.12.92 quoting Reuter: "....Military authorities declared the lagoon patrolled by the navy and covered by radar, a "no-go" zone and warned that anyone crossing the water could be shot on sight.

"Despite the ban about 2000 people, mostly Tamils, crossed the lagoon daily because all other routes were sealed by the army and the rebels refuse to allow traffic on the main road to the peninsula.....

"The bodies of two people, apparently civilians, were washed ashore on the mainland side last week, the residents said, adding that they thought the victims died when their boat was attacked by the navy.

"At least 10 rebels were killed when navy patrols destroyed two of their dinghies trying to cross the lagoon under cover of darkness earlier in the week, military sources said on Thursday.

"Sometimes the civilian boats are escorted by the guerillas who also on occasion transport civilians on faster boats for a higher fee..."

The Island, 28.10.92: "The TULF alleged yesterday that more then 10 men, women and children had been killed in a quarry in Vellaveli in Batticaloa. A statement issued by the TULF executive committee also said that the frequency and intensity of attacks by the armed forces against unarmed civilians in the North and East had increased during the last two weeks. "There had been aimless bombings in Udupiddy, Valvettithurai and Kokkuvil," it added.

 There had been persistent independent reports of civilian bodies being washed ashore in the Jaffna lagoon. The Virakesari reported those of a mother and daughter holding hands last October, and that of a child in November. On the bombing operation referred to above, independent sources confirmed that air force jets bombed Nunavil, Chavakacheri on 26th November, killing three siblings - a girl and two boys.

A feature in the Sunday Times of 18th October 1992 by its Defence Correspondent which carried a feature on sea operations and included an interview with the late Vice Admiral Clancy Fernando, shed, more light on the situation in the Jaffna lagoon:

Referring to Sea Tiger activity it said: "Most of their activity is in the Jaffna Lagoon, using locally made 33 foot fibre glass dinghies powered by 3 or more out-board motors. The origin of the motors is a mystery, but large shipments have been seized both in India and the port of Colombo.

"A few of the craft are even foreign built, using five high powered out-board motors which can attain speeds of 45 knots (Sea miles per hour). At times even the fastest navy Dvora Fast Attack craft have been unable to intercept them..... (The Sea Tigers) also use sophisticated equipment like radar to track down navy vessels. Many are mounted on land vehicles, which make them highly mobile, while others are at high points in the peninsula and are hard to detect."

"...In a three week period in September, at least 15 Sea Tiger boats were sunk in the lagoon, as well as three more off the east coast of the peninsula. This in a sharp increase in Sea Tiger loses; in contrast only about 35 craft were sunk the whole of last year and another 40 were sunk in the first ll months of this year".

 The feature places the Sea Tiger strength at 300. " They are believed to have undergone training clandestinely in India, Malaysia and Singapore, with Chinese, Norwegian and Singaporean mercenaries as instructors."

 If one places a modest average of 3 Sea tigers in each boat sunk, nearly the whole unit, one needs to believe, has been slaughtered!

 There was not the slightest acknowledgement in the feature that the bulk of those traversing the lagoon were civilians taking 2 1/2 to 3 hours in slow boats to do the 20 or so miles( hardly 7 or 8 knots - nowhere near the 45 knots said to be touched by advanced Tiger boats).

 As to why the Tigers want civilians going south to cross the lagoon from Kilaly rather than use Elephant Pass is contained in a suggestion with which most civilian observers would agree: " The lagoon is more than just the last link to the mainland for the Tigers. It is also their safest route to India". ( Via Wilpattu National Park and the West coast south of Mannar).

 From the foregoing what is really going on is clear. Here again we find a persistent trend in the southern polity, the state, the forces, and the press.They refuse to take or acknowledge responsibility for the Tamil civilians who do not cease being citizens of this country. They cross the lagoon to meet urgent survival tasks. Those who so cross the lagoon include senior government servants, professionals and dons coming for seminars and other official business in Colombo. Also included are university staff and others who came down for scholarship interviews at the UGC or examinations and then missed them either because they had been informed too late or because the police in Colombo locked them up.How they live and travel does not appear to be an issue. There is a pretence that they are some kind of hob goblins who pop out of the earth and disappear thence. Thus does Tamil chauvinism receive an undeserved legitimacy.

 It is against the backdrop of an intellectual and moral paralysis closely linked to the aforementioned events that peace moves and talks of constitutional reform are going on. The most important constituency - the people, Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese - is ignored. [Top]

1.5 Peace Moves

 We will confine ourselves to some salient features without going into details. It has been our position that the main issue of a permanent settlement is not federalism or a merger of the former Northern and Eastern Provinces. It is but one of giving confidence to the minorities that they are full partners in the nation building process and that the state will neither discriminate nor its machinery work to their detriment. Also if the damage done in the past is to be overcome, there needs to be a more open and generous approach. The Tamils in the North-East have long and urgently voiced particular grievances touching on security concerning the conduct of the forces and state aided colonisation of Sinhalese resulting in insecurity to others.

 These are matters on which, we have repeatedly pointed out (Reports 6,7 & Briefing No1) the state ought to act on its own as a matter of duty. To make such action a subject of negotiation only reinforces distrust. Two specific areas requiring such action are the provision for real remedial action (not the cosmetic one of presidential task forces) to challenge violations by the forces and the making of substantial positive gestures regarding colonisation. A good candidate for the latter would be the dismantling of the Weli Oya or Manal Aru settlements which are in any case a costly shambles. Whatever the merits of Weli Oya settlements, these have been trumpeted too long by Sinhalese chauvinists in Colombo (not Weli Oya) as to frighten Tamils. It is from such developments that the merger of the North-East as a security measure came to be seen as necessary by the Tamils. It was given a new force by the Indo-Lanka Accord. The situation in the Jaffna lagoon, bombing and shelling are other areas where the government can and ought to make positive gestures.

 The government has done next to nothing on these lines, thus casting a shadow over any talks that take place. Even so new constitutional measures that could give confidence to the minorities could play a benign role. Two proposals before the parliamentary select committee chaired by Mangala Moonesinghe that received publicity were the Apex Council proposal for a semi-merger of the North and East and the second for federalism without a merger proposed by Srinivasan MP. The first, widely accepted as well-meant, was worked out by Mangala Moonesinghe himself with help from some leading academics. The second was noted for the magic words federalism and de-merger. Its details were sketchy and ill-thought out. Why it received so much publicity is a subject of much speculation.

 Both had certain positive or negative merits from the point of all communities in the North-East. For the Tamils, up to 4O% of their population in the North-East, particularly the East, were refugees. There was a fear that a long war fought in the name of a merger would mean displacement, rather than a merger, becoming permanent, leading to creeping colonisation of Sinhalese under military protection. From this point of view a transfer of power from the military to a civilian authority in the East was desirable.

 The Muslims in the East feared, particularly after massacres of Muslims by the LTTE, that a large Tamil dominated unit would work to their disadvantage. They too, in terms of a fear of colonisation, stood to gain by local civilian, rather than military control.

 The Sinhalese in the East shared the first fear with the Muslims.[See Report No7 & Rev. Nirmal Mendis in the Cross-Points, an NCC publication, December 1990 and September 1992].

 For the Tamils there were also some merits in trading off a merger for more powerful federal units. For the Tamil parties in Colombo these proposals carried strong temptations provided they were seen to be realisable. This is where the experience of the past and the failure of the government to show good faith, such as in a manner sketched above, became serious impediments. There were also doubts as to whether a federal proposal would withstand the referendum demanded by the constitution even after obtaining two thirds support in the house.

 The chief impediment came from the main parties (UNP&SLFP) who remained studiedly reluctant to commit themselves, while the Tamil parties were under intense pressure to commit themselves. There was a real fear that having agreed to drop the merger, which had the force of the Indo-Lanka Accord, they would be left clutching at straws in the wind. They feared that they were being used as land mines against the LTTE. After the two main parties agreed to back a consensus at select committee level they appeared to grudgingly concede something only to claw back later. It was first reported that they had both accepted Srinivasan's proposal for federalism without merger. This was later changed to the Indian model and finally Srinivasan without federalism.

 The problem was ultimately that we, perhaps in good faith, had very fluid notions of constitution making, based on passing whims of individuals which ignored the people. The years since July 1983 and the Indo-Lanka Accord were painful experiences for this country. The positive features of the Accord as regards the ethnic issue were not effectually realised. The machinations of this government prevented the provincial councils from coming to be seen as genuinely autonomous bodies with real and adequate powers. The North-East provincial council practically gave way to some unspecified understanding between the government and the LTTE. The justification hinted at for this was that the EPRLF though `elected' did not represent the Tamils. How the LTTE came to represent the Tamils was never addressed. The government-LTTE understanding fell to pieces and the Tamils were once more left with nothing but the dubious protection of the LTTE. If the Tamil parties in Colombo rescind the merger, that will be gladly publicised and used. But if tomorrow another deal with the LTTE is desired it would once more be hinted that the Tamil political parties represented nobody. Some years later it could be argued that the present government's legitimacy was in question or that the LTTE became the representatives of Tamils on doubtful premises and we would be talking something else as if yesterday was a dream.
 The SLFP's positions again represent instability and double talk.

The DPA manifesto on which Mrs Bandaranaike contested the 1988 presidential elections envisaged a merged North-East with a part of Amparai District excised. Recently she was reported saying that her party did not support a merger. The DPA manifesto she said was rejected by the people. But she had contested the verdict of her defeat in court saying that it was arrived at by fraudulent means. It is by all indications therefore futile to think that the talks as they stand would lead to a solution.

 The Tamil parties could however have done much better than turn down the proposals merely on the grounds that they did not envisage a North-East merger. They should have been clearly and logically examined and argued how they meet or fail to meet the aspirations of Tamils for dignity and security, and here based their acceptance or rejection on reason. This would have at least led to a healthy debate and a clear discussion of issues. Instead the other side was not made to discuss issues and merely confronted the Tamil parties with a flat rejection of a merger. We are being further plunged into a culture where the value of sound reason is being lost, and who represents whom determined ultimately through brute force.

 What would lead to a solution is only an open discussion of issues and how we came to this point of paralysis. If the leaders address the people, involve them in a public discussion and convince them, then any resulting solution will have permanent roots. There will be no need to whisper consent and claw back. When it was first announced in the press that the two main parties had accepted federalism, the country accepted it as a matter of course. There was perhaps a sigh of relief rather than angry demonstrations.

 The present state of affairs will favour only the extreme nationalists on both sides. They are the only ones talking to the people. By ignoring real Sinhalese and Muslim fears, it is easy to represent to the Tamils how the others cannot be trusted. By focusing on the LTTE and ignoring the Tamil people and recent history, the other extremist camp could argue that given the LTTE's persistent duplicity, only a military solution is possible. [Top]

1.6 The Role of NGOs, Religious bodies and Non-party organisations

 Things as they are, leave the country poised dangerously. The ordinary people feel confused and powerless and now the armed forces are in the same state. Against this the LTTE goes on massacring Muslim and Sinhalese civilians, ignoring the diplomatic reverses and hoping that the next heave would do the trick. Its mind is clear. It can live with de facto control like in the months leading up to the current war. But survival dictates that it cannot be tied down by written legal undertakings, even a federal arrangement. It has cornered itself by killing in the name of the holy cause of Eelam and building up its cadre on the basis of Eelam or nothing and that anyone who thinks otherwise is a traitor. The alternative to de facto control is to trigger off anti-Tamil violence int the South. Then its own past would be forgotten, and it could expect a diplomatic swing in its favour. The country would then for all purposes be sundered. The LTTE's closest allies would then have been its vocal Sinhalese counter- parts. How strong is the polity of this country to withstand this challenge?

 As was pointed out there is a certain despair among those who were close to dead combatants on all sides as to whether they died  to any purpose. A note about the late Brigadier Lucky Wijeratne by K.H. in the Sunday Times of 2Oth December reads:
"A soldier, particularly a commander who must send out men to kill or be killed, will frequently question the logic of and the motives behind a war-- We can ensure that they did not die in vain by bringing about a political settlement that was their pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. A prolonged battle with a heavy loss of life, even if the ultimate result is a military victory for the security forces, will not justify the death of Lucky and his colleagues. The final chapter of Lucky's story must be written by the politicians."

 By their performance so far it is doubtful if the politicians by themselves will ever write the final chapter. It is only a demand from the people that would move them. Thus it becomes imperative that others must talk to them and restore the value of sound reason and sound morals rather than leave the field to extremists. It is now left to the kind of organisations mentioned above to campaign for rational solutions, and open up the issues by going before the people. The country's predicament must be clearly understood. Only so can the country derive strength. There must be an end to the illusion that the road to peace lies through secret flattery of those who control the means of destruction and keeping the people in the dark. If the LTTE clearly understands that there is no prospect of communal violence in the South, its own politics will change much for the better. [Top]


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