A Glimpse of the Future

Roas – registo online de actos dos solicitadores By Tisaranee Gunasekara

Asian Tribune

Column by column in a cloud of dust
They marched away enduring a belief
Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief.

WH Auden (The Shield of Achilles)

The war is the Rajapakse administrationA?a??a??s one and only justification. Its self-assigned role is to wage the war as it should be waged and win, paving the way for peace and prosperity. It is in the hope of reaching that Promised Land (and soon) the masses are putting up with unprecedented hardships. But at his recent meeting with a group of foreign correspondents the Army Commander hinted at a vastly different future, a future in which the war might continue forever in the form of an insurgency: “Even if we finish the war, capture the whole of the north, still the LTTE might have some members joining themA?a??A?. There are people who believe in Tamil nationalism. The LTTE might survive another even two decades with about 1,000 cadres. But we will not be fighting in the same manner. It might continue as an insurgency forever” (BBC A?a??a?? 30.6.2008).

Prophetic words indeed. A Rajapakse future will be Sri LankaA?a??a??s fate as long as the UNP remains dormant and ineffective under the deadweight of its disastrous leader, Ranil Wickremesinghe. And going by Gen Sarath Fonseka that future will be one of unending violence and overarching extremism, because even if the regime manages to inflict a conclusive defeat on the LTTE, the war will continue as a counterinsurgency campaign against Tamil nationalism, perhaps A?a??E?foreverA?a??a??.

The scenario is not an unrealistic one. We may be able to defeat the Tigers militarily but we will never be able to defeat Tamil nationalism militarily. Quite apart from Tamil resistance (as distinct from Tiger terrorism) the West and India will not permit such a Sinhala victory over the Tamils. In fact if a Kosovo outcome may become inevitable if we respond to Tamil nationalism militarily. With the odiously terroristic LTTE out of the way, India will have no compunction in donning the mantle of the A?a??E?protector of Tamil peopleA?a??a?? and stepping in with plan for de-facto separation, with the full backing of the West.

Tiger Fascism and Tamil Nationalism

Vellupillai Pirapaharan is wedded to the goal of his own separate state; democracy, for him, is an anathema. Therefore as long as he is alive, the LTTE cannot be accommodated within a democratic Lankan state. But there is no such incompatibility between Tamil nationalism and Sri Lanka. In fact a democratic Lankan state would need to accommodate Tamil nationalism via a generous dose of devolution, in order to achieve peace and stability and to remain whole, by pre-empting a Kosovo outcome.

Given Mr. PirapaharanA?a??a??s maximalism the war against the LTTE is unavoidable. Though a negotiated settlement is impossible with the LTTE it is both possible and necessary vis-A?A?-vis Tamil nationalism. Therefore a war against Tamil nationalism is unnecessary and undesirable. The only possible, workable antidote to Tamil nationalism is the creation of a Lankan identity encompassing all ethnic and religious communities on the basis of equality and mutual tolerance. If we fail in that task, and if we try to respond to Tamil nationalism militarily, the Lankan conflict will never end. And that is the future Sri Lanka can expect from the Rajapakses.

Extremism thinks in black and white. The Tigers methodically destroyed all intermediate spaces in Tamil polity and society, using as their justification a tenet that is fundamental to all fundamentalisms A?a??a?? anyone not with us is with the enemy. A disturbingly similar polarisation is happening in the South as the Rajapakses strengthen their stranglehold on the country. Opponents of the regime are being branded as traitors, a necessary prelude to the using of state power to cow them into silence and inactivity. This is evident in the regimeA?a??a??s approach to such diverse groups as media personnel and striking workers.
The brunt of this process of polarisation is being borne by Lankan Tamils living in Sri Lanka, especially in the North-East.

Both the LTTE and the government demand their uncritical allegiance. Any sign of dissatisfaction, any deviation from the official line by them is regarded as acts of treachery. The LTTE sees in Tamil parents, unhappy with its brutal conscription drive, traitors to the Tamil cause. The regime sees in Tamil civilians, critical of aerial bombings and indiscriminate shelling, traitors to the Lankan cause. The LTTE demands from Tamils total fealty to Tiger Eelam. The regime demands from Tamils total commitment to a unitary Sri Lanka. Neither side is willing to make allowances for a Tamil nationalism that is non/anti-Tiger and critical of the politico-military excesses of the Lankan state, opposed to a unitary Sri Lanka but willing to accept a united Sri Lanka.

President Mahinda Rajapakse does not even believe in the existence of an ethnic problem; at the ceremonial opening of the Arugambay Bridge he reiterated that there is no A?a??E?communal conflictA?a??a?? in Sri Lanka. Given these ideological blinkers and the regimeA?a??a??s close alliance with Sinhala supremacist entities, a political solution is unlikely to materialise so long as Rajapakses are in power. In the eyes of the Rajapakse regime there is no real difference between Tamil nationalism and Tiger fascism; one is the other in disguise. This political hallucination is changing the nature of the war from a war against Tigers to a war against Tamils. The shocking story of a A?a??E?security operationA?a??a?? which forced around 800 Tamil residents of Colombo 15 to leave their houses in the early hours of morning to be videotaped is but one example of the regimeA?a??a??s proclivity to extend the war from Tamil Tigers to Tamils in general.

According to the Sunday Times Alli orlistat vendita online of 6th July Sri Lankan diplomatic missions have been ordered to request their host governments to ban the commemorations of the Black July by LTTE A?a??E?front organisationsA?a??a??. If this request was made concerning the Black Tiger Day, the Great Heroes Day or any other date specific to the LTTE it would have been understandable (and necessary). But Black July was a Tamil tragedy. The victims of that orgy of violence were not Tigers but ordinary Tamil men, women and children. Therefore any attempt to prevent the commemoration of Black July (on the grounds that Tigers will benefit from such commemorations politically and financially) will be seen, correctly, as an anti-Tamil act, by the Tamils, the West and India.

Extremism is blind. It is the acme of inanity and insensitivity to try to prevent the Tamil Diaspora from commemorating Black July. Moreover no Western country will ban Black July commemorations. Firstly such a ban will be undemocratic (unless the demonstration is being organised by a proscribed entity); secondly these countries are sympathetic to Tamils and most of them do make a distinction between Tiger terrorism and Tamil nationalism. This ill-conceived request demonstrates yet again how the regime undermines the Lankan cause with its extremism and irrationalism.

The Insanity of Extremism

According to a government report the gap between the forecasted and actual cash deficit for first five months of 2008 is a staggering Rs. 18.7 billion (the cash deficit forecasted for the period from Jan-May 2008 was Rs. 4.7 billion while the actual deficit was Rs. 23.4 billion). A?a??A?When outlays for investment were added the total cash deficit went to 76.9 billion rupees though the investment outflows were 5.9 billion less than original estimatesA?a??A? (LBO A?a??a?? 11.7.2008). Clearly the country is caught in an economic-financial labyrinth from which it cannot emerge so long as the Rajapakses are guiding its destinies. This is particularly so, if the regime plans to take on Tamil nationalism militarily, instead of responding to it politically, in the form of enhanced devolution.

The regimeA?a??a??s tendency to see a Tiger in every Tamil is undermining our relations with Tamil Nadu, as the fiasco of the fishermen demonstrates. It is important to prevent the LTTE from using some Tamil Nadu fishermen to ferry arms. But this must not be done in a manner which antagonises most Tamil Nadu fishermen and regional politicians. After all in the final analysis it is the Tamil Nadu factor which will be decisive in IndiaA?a??a??s Sri Lanka policy. This is particularly so, given the possibility of early elections in India. With the left withdrawing its support, the UPA regime has lost its majority; though it is expected to win the upcoming confidence vote it may remain unstable and thus acutely conscious of the next election. And whenever national elections are on the horizon in India, politicians in Delhi cannot but woo Tamil Nadu voters. Therefore if the fishermenA?a??a??s strike spreads and a wave of anti-Lankan feeling becomes evident in Tamil Nadu, the Central government may be compelled to A?a??E?do somethingA?a??a?? (against Sri Lanka) to pacify regional politicians and win the regional voters.

As the UTHR points out in its latest report, A?a??A?There is no doubt that the Government is bombing and shelling people who are prisoners of the LTTE. The young are conscripted in the manner that cattle come of age are taken to the slaughter houseA?a??A?..The new conscripts, who hoped against hope that they could escape, are put through brainwashing. Given the political reality of a detested government, most are turned aroundA?a??A?..A?a??A? (Information Bulletin No. 46 A?a??a?? 8.7.2008). The civilian Tamils are being victimised by both the Tigers and the Lankan state. Victimising civilians is wrong and unacceptable irrespective of who does it. Just as we condemn the latest brutal Tiger attack on a bus full of innocent men, women and children in Buttala, we need to be mindful of the horrors that are the daily lot of civilian Tamils in the North and parts of the East. Quite apart from the moral-ethical factors, it is only by understanding, acknowledging and sympathising with their suffering, we can win them over to the idea of a common Sri Lankan future. If, as we have done up to now, we respond to their suffering with callousness, we will drive those Tamils into the arms of the Tigers, thereby undermining the possibility of a lasting peace in an undivided Sri Lanka.

A never ending conflict will be our fate if the Lankan state fails to understand the difference between Tigers and Tamils, between Tiger fascism and Tamil nationalism. A never ending conflict will be our fate if the Lankan polity fails to win over/neutralise Tamil nationalism by coming up with a reasonable political solution to the ethnic problem. A never ending conflict will be our fate, if the regime clings to the unitary state at all costs; ignoring the need to alley Tamil fears and accommodate Tamil interests. Going by the Army CommanderA?a??a??s words the powers that be are ready for such a long term conflict. Perhaps a perennial conflict is their interest, because it will enable them to use patriotism as a cover for unintelligent governance and to subdue political dissent using national security concerns. But for the country and the people such a perennial conflict will be an unmitigated disaster. Peace and development will remain elusive goals; democracy will be undermined; and Sri Lanka will become a less habitable place.

The question is ours to answer: Is the absolute fidelity to the unitary state worth a never ending conflict which will drain the nationA?a??a??s resources and sap its energies, which might precipitate foreign intervention and a de factopartition of Sri Lanka?

– Asian Tribune –


1 Comment:

While there is some truth in some of the statements made in the article, the writer goes about her usual merry ways of attacking the GOSL, attacking the President, distorting facts and advancing racial hatred through her misinterpretations.

The writer takes a bet each way by stating that the war against the LTTE is unavoidable and that a negotiated settlement is impossible with the LTTE and at the same time blame the Rajapakse administration for carrying on with a war.

By making a statement like “the West and India will not permit such a Sinhala victory over the Tamils”, the writer gives the interpretation that war is between the Sinhalese and Tamils. This is far from the truth. The war is against the terrorists and not with any race. We fought a similar situation when mostly Sinhalese JVP started an insurgency two decades ago. Was it not a majority Sinhalese Govt declaring a war against the terrorism involving Sinhalese. Why call this anything different now? I call this spreading of racial hatred and it has to be condemned in all forms.

However, I agree with the statement that “The only possible, workable antidote to Tamil nationalism is the creation of a Lankan identity encompassing all ethnic and religious communities on the basis of equality and mutual tolerance”. This may not be achieveable in a short period, but, should be our goal.

I also agree with the statement that “The Tigers methodically destroyed all intermediate spaces in Tamil polity and society,.. anyone not with us is with the enemy”

The article in sevaral places try to portray the image of the GOSL that they consider “Tamil Tigers and Tamils” as one and the same. This is far from the truth. However, it is common knowledge that all suicide bombers have been Tamils. Most Govt Ministers have made statements time and time again that the war is with Tamil Tiger Terrorists and not with Tamils. In fact there are many Tamil Ministers in the Govt and the Chief Minister of the Eastern Province is in the Govt coalition. This type of misinterpretations by the writer is not helpful to the country. The writer expect the Govt to create a Lankan identity encompassing all ethnic and religious communities on the basis of equality and mutual tolerance. I believe all of us including the writer have a role to
play in the creation of Lankan identity, not only the Govt. It is extremely unhelpful if one makes statements & interpretations that goes against the promotion of ethnic harmony.

We can afford to have people of differing views in the same country as long as there is no insurgency. From tht point of view, if LTTE dominated areas are brought under Govt. control, we may be able to deal with minor cases of harassment by LTTE sympathisers over time. No one should expect LTTE sympathisers to disapper overnight. This is probably what the Army Commander meant. He definitely did not mean that the current direction of the Govt is wrong.

Although I have no facts and figures, it may be correct that the gap between the forecasted and actual cash deficit for first five months of 2008 is a staggering Rs. 18.7 billion. This is not all due to waging war aginst Tiger Terrorists. A world bank report recently released stated that the food prices have gone up 75% around the world. The oil prices have sky rocketted and we are an oil importing nation. The perceived inference that everything is going wrong as a result of this war is totally misleading.

Another totally misleading statement is A?a??A?There is no doubt that the Government is bombing and shelling people who are prisoners of the LTTE”. Govt is not shelling people. The attacks are carefully targeting Tiger operations in the North and there had been a few reported civilian casulaties. Even Tamil Tiger broadcasts have not claimed that many civilian casualties due to aerial bombings. However, colateral damage cannot be totally avoided in war. The same report quoted by the writer states that most civilians are engaged by Tigers for their duties. How could one be sure if the civilians were killed while protecting terrorist installations or whether they were killed at their homes. I am, however, saddened by the fact that some civilians are effected in this manner.

The writer ends the article with furher statements not helpful to creating her vision of creating a Lankan identity encompassing all ethnic and religious communities. The article promotes racial hatred due to misinterpretation of facts and actions of the GOSL.

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