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 Post subject: Ulf barking up the wrong tree
 Post Posted: Sat Aug 26, 2006 10:54 pm 
Ulf barking up the wrong tree

People like Mr. Henricsson have a pivotal role to play in putting the peace process back on the track. Unfortunately, they are playing into the hands of the LTTE by lending their voice to the outfit.

Editorial
@ The Island - 26Aug2006


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The EU ban on the LTTE appears to have become a thorn in the side of the Nordic monitors. Head of the Monitoring Mission Brigadier General Ulf Henricsson, who is leaving Sri Lanka together with other EU monitors whom the LTTE has shown the door in retaliation for the EU ban, has, in an interview with AFP, faulted the EU for its ban, which he claims, has aggravated Sri Lanka’s conflict. He sounds just like the Norwegian Envoy Hanssen Bauer, who took the EU to task over the same issue the other day.

It has now been revealed that one month before the ban came into being, Mr. Henricsson had written to the EU warning of a violent worst case scenario in case of the EUgoing ahead with the ban.

He laments that his seven-point memo didn’t receive due attention and the decision to slap the ban was made in ‘cafes of Brussels.’ (We wonder why Mr. Henriccson, who is not averse to decisions being made to destroy a sovereign state and forcibly control the destiny of a community, from the jungles, makes an issue of the fact that the EU ban was decided on in some cafes).

The contention of Mr. Henriccson appears to be that the escalation of violation began after the EU ban. Nothing is further from the truth. By the time the EU ban was imposed, the LTTE had violated the CFA about 4,000 times: It killed hundreds of rivals, dozens of military and police personal including senior officers and assassinated Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister. There was no commitment on the part of the LTTE to the truce at that time. The LTTE, as we said last week, would have reverted to war anyway. Mr. Henricsson should note that Prabhakaran gave notice of resuming hostilities last November in his birthday speech from the Wanni jungles, months before the EU made its decision.

He should realise that the LTTE has resumed war despite the EU ban as it is confident that it can get away with it. If the EU gives the ban maximum effect like the US, Canada and India, the roaring Tigers will become cooing doves overnight, as they have nowhere else to go in the world.

"I would say it’s a mistake," says Mr. Henricsson, "it was a wrong decision because`85 the LTTE and the government have signed a ceasefire agreement as equal partners." What he doesn’t seem to realise is that though it is assumed that the government and the LTTE are equal at the negotiating table, for the sake of convenience and for practical purposes, they are poles apart in all other respects: The former is a democratically elected controlling apparatus of a sovereign state (with which Mr. Henricsson’s country, Sweden has diplomatic relations), while the latter is a terrorist group without representation even in a local government body. Mr. Henricsson seems to be making a subtle attempt to grant the LTTE parity of status overall. He implies that the LTTE is not a terrorist group: "If one is suddenly on a terrorist list, it’s not very difficult to see we’re going to run into difficulties`85" It was not suddenly that the LTTE became a terrorist group. The US, India and Canada had designated the LTTE as a terrorist organisation before the EU.

Mr. Henricsson displays his naiveness yet another time when he says he is convinced that there would be no military solution with the frontlines barely moving during the latest fighting. (Emphasis added). Ironically, AFP has placed this paragraph immediately below his comment: "Rebels ran Jaffna peninsula as a de facto separate state for five years until they were driven out in 1995." That was shifting of frontlines, wasn’t it? The LTTE has not yet recovered from the loss of Jaffna and has no way of recapturing it. And the main reason why the frontlines have not moved in recent battles is that the military hasn’t gone all out against the LTTE due to international pressure. (However, it was driven out from Mawilaru and Muttur, wan’t it?) The LTTE, Mr. Henriccson should be told, would have been a thing of the past, had the military been able to go the whole hog in the Vadmarachchi Operation in 1987 or had the IPKF really wanted to finish it off. It is far from invincible.

However, that the LTTE is not invincible is no reason for a military solution to be attempted. It should be avoided not because the frontlines have not shifted but because of the heavy costs it involves like the loss of life, mass displacement, destruction of property and the deep wounds left in the minds of the people, which will surely stand in the way of the badly needed racial amity and national integration. The war weary populace must not be subjected to another war.

A democratic government can always be kept in check, as it has to heed international opinion but an outfit like the LTTE cannot be put in a straitjacket so easily. Hence, the need for stern action! The intransigence of the LTTE is due to dithering on the part of the countries which have slapped bans but stopped short of giving them full cry for three main reasons: They think Sri Lanka will abandon the efforts to solve the real problems of the Tamil community, if the LTTE ceases to be a powerful factor; they don’t see the LTTE as a threat to their own security interests and it helps them maintain a strong presence in the region.

If they are genuinely desirous of helping Sri Lanka resolve her conflict, all what they should do is to adopt tough measures like the recent arrests in the US and Canada and freezing the assets of the LTTE so as to bring adequate pressure to bear on the outfit to be amenable to a political settlement. Twisting the arms of the government is a much easier task, as was said earlier. The donors know the way!

So, the EU ban, which is a step in the right direction, has to be coupled with stern action to tame the Tigers. That is the only way to put the kibosh on the on-going battles, which have killed so many hundreds of people and displaced so many thousands.

People like Mr. Henricsson have a pivotal role to play in putting the peace process back on the track. Unfortunately, they are playing into the hands of the LTTE by lending their voice to the outfit.


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