Sovereignty and Duplicity
In Iraq alone war has resulted in deaths of over half a million children. In 1996, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had the temerity to say it was worth the price. If the soft hearts of Miliband and Kouchner are really melting for humanity, they must rush where their services are needed most – Iraq and Afghanistan – together with their US counterpart Hillary Clinton. War is hell. And we don't need any hoity-toity foreign do-gooder to tell us that.
Extracts from the Island
@ the Island / LL
Prabhakaran, who roared in 2005 that he would carve out Eelam militarily and plunged the country into a bloodbath again the following year, now finds himself on his knees suing for peace.
The present armed conflict in Sri Lanka had a long gestation period from the early 1970s and began to manifest itself towards the end of that decade, when India sought to tame the pro-American JRJ government through coercion. If ethnic violence against Tamils in 1977 gave the northern insurgency an impetus, the anti-Tamil pogrom gave it a turbo boost. The involvement of UNP politicians in that dastardly crime and how the JRJ government fuelled the flames of communal violence are only too well known to merit elaboration. But for Black July of 1983 and the attendant international opprobrium which the separatists used to build the Diaspora, Sri Lanka's conflict would have remained a bilateral issue a little more serious than 'Kachchativu' and Prabhakaran an underworld figure engaged in smuggling operations in VVT.
In 1987 India stopped the annihilation of the LTTE at Vadamarachchi by Generals Denzil Kobbekaduwa, Vijaya Wimalaratne and their troops and twisted President J.R. Jayewardene’s arm to sign what was called the Indo – Sri Lanka Accord of that year – a treaty of peace, friendship and cooperation. The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) which originally did not envisage a military operation was soon embroiled in a war with the LTTE and in the event lost more men in Sri Lanka’s North and East than it had in two wars with Pakistan.
In 1994 with Lakshman Kadirgamar as Foreign Minister that the country's image began to improve and the world took serious note of LTTE terrorism. President Kumaratunga invited the wily Norwegians who had been looking for an opportunity to gain a toe hold in Sri Lanka's conflict as facilitators in a peace process under her government. She could not have done the LTTE a bigger favour! Although the Norwegian facilitators disappeared, when the LTTE torpedoed a truce with the Kumaratunga government in 1995, they continued their backstage manoeuvrings to help the LTTE inch towards its goal.
The Kumaratunga administration offered a devolution framework that went beyond the 13th Amendment resulting from the Indo Sri Lankan Agreement. It enshrined the concept of a "union of regions" that had strong federal connotations. Yet the LTTE appeared disinclined to respond to the widespread optimism and hope that had greeted Ms Kumaratunga’s overtures. Not too soon after, the LTTE signalled its rejection of these promising circumstances by abruptly terminating a ceasefire offered by the Kumaratunga government as a prelude to peace negotiations. The island was plunged into fresh war with the Tigers sinking two naval gunboats in the Trincomalee harbour in April 1995 and forcing the Kumaratunga administration to declare that peace would have to be achieved "through war."
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe allowed every foreign Tom, Dick and Harry to have a finger in Sri Lanka's pie. He allowed the Norwegians to act according to their whims and fancies to the point of controlling the destiny of this country. For the first time a peace process was allowed to be hijacked by foreign powers under his watch. The US, Japan, Norway and the EU appointed themselves as Co-Chairs and determined the course of Sri Lanka's peace process tying as they did aid to the progress to be made in it. Sri Lanka's sovereignty was thus subjugated to a pledge of $ 4.5 billion as aid, which proved to be pie in the sky. The could not even bring the LTTE back to the negotiating table after Prabhakaran unilaterally suspended peace talks in 2003.
Last week, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who have undertaken a diabolical mission to save, on a flimsy pretext, a bunch of separatist terrorists failed yet another time to make the Sri Lankan government end its war on terror. Miliband and Kouchner, who are opposing Sri Lanka's war are not campaigning against the US-led war in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq alone war has resulted in deaths of over half a million children. In 1996, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright had the temerity to say it was worth the price. If the soft hearts of Miliband and Kouchner are really melting for humanity, they must rush where their services are needed most – Iraq and Afghanistan – together with their US counterpart Hillary Clinton.
War is hell. And we don't need any hoity-toity foreign do-gooder to tell us that. But, there are times when countries have to face it the way the civilised world did vis-à-vis Nazi terror. Hitler had to be halted in his tracks and the Allied Forces stood up to that maniacal killer, who had to commit suicide. Is there any difference between Hitler and Prabhakaran? The answer is an emphatic No. As Miliband and Kouchner are well aware, the victorious Allied Forces did not stop at the outskirts of Berlin to negotiate a ceasefire with Hitler hiding in a bunker.
The UK and US have offered handsome bounties for the capture of bin Laden and his fellow criminals and are carrying out air strikes even on the Pakistani territory, regardless of civilian casualties. It was only recently that Hillary Clinton forced Pakistan to step up attacks on terrorists. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is making a frantic effort to stop Sri Lanka's counter terror offensive, wants the war against Al Qaeda and Taliban fought with might and main in Afghanistan so that London will be safe!
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is behaving as if London had come under another terror attack. He keeps calling President Mahinda Rajapaksa repeatedly in a desperate bid to have Prabhakaran off the hook. The day may not be far off when President Obama leaves aside all his important work including the grandiose bailout project to telephone and pressure President Rajapaksa to give up the army’s hunt for Prabhakaran. President Sarkozi might follow suit.
How those two countries have pampered homicidal maniacs is only too well known. Suffice it to say France had no qualms about mollycoddling Bokassa of Central Africa––a bloodthirsty lunatic who crowned himself as emperor and fed his pet crocs with schoolchildren and his guests with fattened prison inmates! French President D'Estaing provided a loan of one million pounds sterling to help that monster buy limousines and motorcycles for his ‘coronation’ and shamelessly received blood diamonds as gifts. Bokassa had the habit of showering diamonds on his special guests and organising safaris for them. Finally, France had to get rid of him.
Britain shielded Pinochet responsible for crimes against humanity and harboured him in spite of a court order to deport him to stand trial for massacres. His Caravan of Death churned out death and devastation across Chile following the 1973 coup but Britain backed him to the hilt for his services during the Falklands war!
The LTTE has carried out over 200 savage attacks on civilian targets at Prabhakaran's behest and all those who try to save that homicidal maniac and his death squads now holed up in Mullaitivu naturally earn the wrath of the near and dear ones of victims of terrorism. All the countries that have been harbouring the LTTE in spite of bans have the blood of LTTE's victims on their hands as it is on their soil that the outfit has been raising funds for its terrorist war.
How would the British take it if Sri Lankan Foreign Minister were to visit London seeking to arrange for a peace deal between Britain and Al Qaeda responsible for the London bombings? And what would be America's reaction, if such a peacemaking mission were ever to be undertaken by another country? When bin Laden himself offered a truce a few years ago, it may be recalled, the White House rejected it out of hand and declared that the best was to deal with terrorists was to send them out of business. The US and the UK must never forgive the savage Al Qaeda killers who must be destroyed in their hideouts. And those countries must recognise the right of other nations to deal with their terrorists in a similar manner.
If LTTE terrorism emerged as a desperate solution, it became part of the problem shortly afterwards. It has wiped out the entire democratic Tamil political leadership, killed many Tamil intellectuals and ordinary Tamil civilians and used Tamil children as combatants. During the past few weeks, it has laid bare its true face as never before as a ruthless terrorist outfit by taking civilians hostage, using them as cannon fodder and resorting to brutal violence to prevent them from escaping. Prabhakaran has been no better than a fox in charge of poultry farm. He, his family and his partners in crime including those protesting in foreign capitals to save him have fattened themselves on the blood and sweat of the ordinary people. So, Prabhakaran and the LTTE must be physically removed and their ideology politically defeated as the first step towards ushering in a lasting peace.
Those like Miliband and Kouchner who are rushing here carrying oxygen cylinders for the Tigers are obviously trying to plunge Sri Lanka into a bloodbath once again to further their sinister interests. Only carrion-seeking, drooling hyenas stand to gain from the survival of Tigers!
There has been an absurd proposal that Prabhakaran and his fellow criminals be allowed to surrender to a third party. The on-going war is between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan state and Prabhakaran has to surrender to the national military, and no one else. The person they are trying to throw a lifeline to on flimsy pretext is a terrorist responsible for child recruitment, for which the LTTE has been listed by the UN, political assassinations (i. e. President Ranasinghe Premadasa, former Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, TULF leader A. Amirthalingam, Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, and scores of others), narcotic trade, gun running, kidnapping, extortion, murder, bombing of civilian centres, (over 200) massacres and ethnic cleansing. That's why there is an Interpol warrant on him.
The US policy on Sri Lanka's terrorism, one thought, was consistent and devoid of duplicity. But, unfortunately, one is disillusioned. If not for the backing from the steadfast allies like China and Russia, even the UN Security Council may have been moved against Sri Lanka in favour of the LTTE. When Sri Lanka liberates territory and civilians from terrorists there is resistance from the US and its allies. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said the world was disappointed that in its effort to end a 25-year-old conflict Sri Lanka was causing ‘untold suffering’. Who doesn’t know that war is synonymous with suffering? Sri Lanka, Clinton should be told, is not fighting this war to inflict suffering on people. It is fighting to defend its territorial integrity and citizenry against terrorism. As war brings about ‘untold suffering’, why doesn’t Clinton tell President Obama to stop war in Afghanistan and Iraq?
It is against this backdrop that Sri Lanka's diplomatic victory at the UN on Wednesday should be viewed. President of the UN Security Council Ambassador Claude Heller said at an informal briefing, "The LTTE is a terrorist organisation and should be condemned for its use of civilians as a human shield. The LTTE should immediately lay down arms and renounce its terror tactics." There has been a great deal of backstage manoeuvring to have a UN resolution passed against Sri Lanka's war. That the US is behind those moves is only too well known. So, the position the Security Council has taken up on Sri Lanka, as spelt out by Heller, could be considered a defeat for those who sought a UN intervention to rescue the LTTE.
The world is understandably perturbed by the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of civilians being forced to flee their homes and herded into overflowing refugee camps in Vavuniya and Mannar with limited supplies of water and food. Yet the U.N. and other international agencies appear to have acknowledged that it is the LTTE which is primarily responsible for this disastrous situation.
Over the past three decades, successive Governments in Sri Lanka have expended a great deal of effort to negotiate for a peaceful settlement, but the LTTE has never been sincere in its dealings at the negotiating table. On the other hand the LTTE made use of such periods of peace talks to reinforce and strengthen their military capabilities. It is unequivocally clear that terrorist chief Velupillai Prabhakaran understands only the gun culture. Hence, the Government has no option but to treat the Tigers in the language they understand best. Prabhakaran and his men have brutally killed thousands of innocent people, including heads of State such as Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Ranasinghe Premadasa. The Tigers have also murdered several Ministers, Tamil leaders, religious dignitaries, intellectuals and countless innocent civilians belonging to all three ethnicities - Tamils, Muslims and Sinhalese.
Every citizen of the country who had experienced the traumas of LTTE terrorism is sure to breathe a sigh of relief, seeing the unfolding scenario of the LTTE’s crushing defeat in their last stronghold in Puthukudirippu.
For more than three decades, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) has been endeavouring to weaken the democratically elected government in Sri Lanka. They have primarily used adroit terror and propaganda campaigns interspersed with political negotiation. During the history of its campaign, the LTTE has not displayed any keen, sincere interest in settling the conflict through political negotiations. The apparent reason behind this could be their firm belief in carving an independent State for the Tamils in Sri Lanka through military means. It used the negotiation table mostly to buy time, regroup, and rearm.
According to the US State Department, the LTTE, which has funds in many States, has sizable business dealings, including human and drug trafficking, weapons smuggling, and some legitimate businesses. Jane’s Intelligence Review, which conducted a review of the LTTE in 1998, asserted that the LTTE businesses generate an estimated US$200 to 300 million per year. Human Rights Watch notes that approximately 800,000 Tamils are living abroad and that the Tamil diaspora in Canada alone has been contributing to the LTTE coffers at rates of well over US$2 million per month. Their contribution to the war has been highly critical for the survival of the LTTE.