Getting rid of the LTTE: A few questions

Getting Rid of the LTTE

The photo above was taken at a busy intersection in Colombo.

How much are we willing to sacrifice to root out the LTTE? Are they the only terrorists in Sri Lanka? What of the President’s own countenance of human rights abuses? What about the allegations of child conscription in the East? What about the President’s brother and his behaviour? Does anyone in this government have their children fighting this war (apart from we all know who, now comfortably residing in England)? Why doesn’t the JVP mobilise its young supporters to go fight and win the war? Why doesn’t at least one monk from the JHU immolate himself to support the violence that they preach should be directed at others? Why is no one interested in why the LTTE came about, even if their methods are despicable?

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein

  • http://www.unprotectedthoughts.com Sam

    It is more important to find answers than just question. If you just quection all you have is bunch of question marks. Einstein ask questions and find answer too. Do We?

  • SH

    I would like to know if there is an information divide, between the middle classes and the poorer classes.

    Also how opinions and access to information varies from region to region.

    And what is being done by the middle classes or the better informed to bridge this divide?

    What are the opinions of the poorer classes to media freedom? I noticed that the government uses prevention of terrorism to justify this. Do people believe this justification?

    The fact is governments and political parties have been able to manipulate the average person in the south into accepting their justification for not being able to solve the ethnic crisis. This manipulation can only be carried out repeatedly if people are being deprived of the facts.

  • http://llibertarian.blogspot.com/ sittingnut

    isn’t it the duty of the democratically elected government to ensure the human rights of everyone in sri lanka? and bring to justice all violators of human rights? isn’t ltte terrorists convicted violators of rights ? isn’t ltte leader a convicted mass murderer? shouldn’t government put and end to culture of impunity by bringing to justice ltte leader among others? if terrorists resist the law shouldn’t violence be used as with any other criminal resisting law?

    why doesn’t peaceniks advance substantiated evidence ( as opposed to absurd ‘white van’ conspiracy theories) about so called human right abuses by government ?

    shouldn’t all those who really care for human rights support ( any way they can ) the government efforts to bring to justice human rights violators including ltte and its leader? isn’t it our duty as sri lankans?

    is ‘peace’ worth any cost ? is peace worth the cost of democracy , human rights, justice and freedom? is it worth the cost of putting millions more under the ltte terrorist oppression? will appeasement of terrorists bring sustainable peace ? hasn’t appeasement failed throughout history here and around the world?

    will there be peace as long as ltte exists in its present form?

    does anyone believe the ltte’s excuses for its violence, methods, and its very existence ? does anything ( anything ) justify ltte methods and crimes?

    does anyone disagree that only democratically elected representatives of tamils from north and east provinces should be allowed to demand from, discuss and compromise with, representatives of other participants of sri lankan democracy in order to arrive at a sustainable solution ? hasn’t other minority representatives ( such and upcountry tamils) engaged successfully with sri lankan democracy? isn’t ltte preventing ne tamils from engaging in the same way ?

    who represents tamils from north and east provinces? shouldn’t it be government duty to ensure their democratic rights so that they be represented? as such shouldn’t government get rid of main obstacle in the way of democracy there (ltte)?
    should everyone advocating getting rid of ltte ( with violence if needs be ) personally use violence against ltte ? or should they rather support the efforts of all volunteer professional military and police ?

    why do peaceniks accuse military as a whole of horrible crimes with out a shred of evidence ? why do they always parrot ltte propaganda?

    why did peaceniks of groundviews censor earlier questions about their posts? will they do the same here ? :-)

  • SH

    I think it is ok to ask questions, but not same ones repeatedly. We need to listen to the possible answers, and then refine the questions.

  • Sanjana

    Dear Suranga (aka Sittingnut),

    “i have always believed one should challenge these shibboleths whenever they are advanced in order to break enervating intellectual monopoly that seems to prevail in sri lanka.”

    Those are your words and I agree. No question about it – the LTTE must be defeated. How is another matter, and I do not believe that a military victory that emaciates their fighting can be equated to a victory for justice and peace, which is what you often want a solution to be based on, and rightly so.

    Also no question about it – democratic rights of all peoples, across Sri Lanka, must be protected and strengthened. That they are not, as noted repeatedly by local and international missions and individuals, is cause for concern. That you wish, as does this government, to cast aside these serious allegations and findings is your prerogative, but also a damning indication of the extent to which it will go to win a war against terrorism, even at the cost of perhaps irrevocably eroding the democratic fabric that must bind any lasting solution to the conflict.

    As noted in a pointed comment made by Publius to you earlier this year on this blog, those who attempt to equate the Government and LTTE make a fundamental mistake that many “peaceniks” don’t, since equating the LTTE (a terrorist organisation) to a government elect, is clearly an untenable argument. Based on a flimsy foundation such as this, you go on to state that one must regard human rights violations by both entities equally. This is clearly erroneous – no one seeks to defend the gross human rights abuses by the LTTE. My own articles have called to question the legitimacy of a liberation struggle that has killed more passionate, yet non-violent Tamil nationalists, other militant national groups, moderates, intellectuals, politicians and progressive individuals far more than the State has. However, what is more disturbing is when addressing the problem that is the LTTE, successive government in the South, and this government in particular, have employed much the same tactics. Terror against terror is a dastardly way of fostering peace, and simply will not work. It is of course quite successful in short term gain – as we note in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the world. To quell dissent, to paint everyone who stands in support of a negotiated settlement and addressing the root causes of conflict as pariahs and traitors – these are hallmarks of intolerance and infamy, and in promoting publicly such messages, the President and his government demonstrate that democracy is a heifer willingly sacrificed in Sri Lanka upon the altar of a war against terrorism.

    It is a sacrifice that I argue will never bring peace with justice to Sri Lanka.

    Best,

    Sanjana

    P.S. Sorry about using your real name, but I find that I take you more seriously with Suranga, that sounds infinitely better than Sittingnut.

  • SH

    You can remove my comment above…its detracting from the main discussion. And I would like people to answer my questions as well.

  • Ranjith

    He you all.Don’t ever try to get rid of LTTE. Otherwise you all will die trying.
    Find some reasonable ways to solve the problem. Don’t be a child to cry like “we have only a terrorist problem”, “Tamils are fighting for nothing, they have no problems in srilanka”, we are winning the war, LTTE is running for its life”, “we killed hundreds of ltters in battle daily”.
    Dont be fools. According to the govt. the security forces have killed nearly 150,000 cadres so far and only two soldiers slightly injured. Come on people….Do we have comonsence ?
    Talk about the truth. Think about living in peace with tamils. Solve the tamil’s problems hence desolve ltte. Not by force. Because the ltte has grown up even more stronger than ever during the “getting rid of Ltte wars by all sinhala govts”.

  • http://justmal.com JM Bardo

    SH – “I would like to know if there is an information divide, between the middle classes and the poorer classes.”

    I think there is. The poorer sections of the society do not have access to the internet and English language media. Most popular Sinhala newspapers I’ve seen are pro-war and do not criticise the government that much. There are privately funded Sinhala newspapers that are anti-government and anti-war (eg: Irudina, Ravaya etc), and there aren’t many constraints on them, but it seems that people just aren’t interested in their viewpoint.

    SH – “What are the opinions of the poorer classes to media freedom? I noticed that the government uses prevention of terrorism to justify this. Do people believe this justification?”

    Most Sinhalese support the war against the LTTE and there isn’t any grassroots opposition to the government targetting supposedly pro-LTTE newspapers such as Mawbima. The government uses the excuse of prevention of terrorism and material rewards/benefits to gently coerce/persuade newspaper owners and editors to some extent, but this has no effect on the widespread media criticism on the government in regard to the Air Tiger attacks and cost of living etc. I don’t think most people (except for die-hard anti-government activists) really believe that there is a significant restriction of media freedom in the country as some would have you believe, because they pretty much get to hear what they want to hear. The common perception is that the arrest and detention of people like Parameshwari of Mawbima and Lalith Seneviratne et al of Akuna did not have anything to do with them being involved with dissident media. Parameshwari was found harbouring an suicide bomber in her apartment, and the Akuna activists have confessed to being involved in a sophisticated pro-LTTE terrorist network and had been armed and trained by the LTTE in Vanni.

    Again, the lack of any grassroots opposition to the government’s police re: media except from those sections (ie: UNP, FMM, NGOs etc) whose job it is to criticise the government anyway, indicates that by and large, people are content with the situation.

    “The fact is governments and political parties have been able to manipulate the average person in the south into accepting their justification for not being able to solve the ethnic crisis. This manipulation can only be carried out repeatedly if people are being deprived of the facts.”

    The average person from/in the South (such as myself) does have access to the “facts” – much of it credited to the tremendous work done by pro-negotiation, anti-war NGOs/political groups through publications (Pederal-vadaya, London of XGroup), campaigns such as Thavalama/Sudu Nelum and so on over the last 10-15 years – but it seems that these “facts” have failed to convince them. We do not agree with the fundamental dogma of the peaceniks’ interpretation of the “ethnic problem”, and their approach to a “solution”. This is partly so because we see co-operation and collusion between the peaceniks and the Tamil seperatists/terrorists, and that makes them inherently suspicious and less credible in our eyes. We don’t see that they’ve got our beliefs, interests, insecurities and aspirations within the scope of their understanding and consideration.

    We do have our own understanding of the conflict, and this could be seen by the political parties we vote for and newspapers that we read.

  • http://www.kottu.org Malik

    “Parameshwari was found harbouring an suicide bomber in her apartment…”

    Where’s the proof of that?

  • http://llibertarian.blogspot.com/ sittingnut

    sanjana:
    as usual you have tried to side step the main question.
    ltte violates rights. they should be brought to justice. it is government’s duty to bring them to justice. given the nature of ltte that requires use of violence.
    main question is, do you ( and other peaceniks) approve this use of violence? if not how do you intend to go about bringing ltte to justice? appeasement perhaps? is that your solution? do you prefer continuing rights violations by ltte as long as we have a non violent policy by the government?
    as i asked do you think ‘peace’ worth the cost of human rights , justice, democracy, and freedom ? do you believe such ‘peace’ sustainable? or even morally justifiable ?
    you are free to avoid the question, and we are free to think and express what we must about you as long as you avoid that question.
    others, meaning public at large and esp ppl who govern this country and answer to the public, cannot avoid that question, they have to answer that question here and now and act in order to deal with ltte in the real world.

    should ppl who intentionally avoid it have a right to criticize those who do? well they can, but will their criticism have any validity? that may explain why peaceniks and their ideas have been rejected by public. they will be going in the same old road as the old left ( in fact most of them are old left ) :-)

    you go on to state that one must regard human rights violations by both entities equally
    where did i say that? did you imagine it? please do link to my comment. or quote it in full :-)

    nor have i advocated “terror against terror” . quite the contrary in fact, nor do i think government is engaged in such a course. if you think they are using ‘terror tactics’, can you give substantiated evidence for our benefit? mere allegations wont do for most us.
    btw resisting armed criminals must be be disarmed using violence if needs be. is that what you refer to as ‘terror’? but that is not terror. again we come to the same unavoidable question as above. do you renounce all violence, even against ltte?

    as for allegations of human rights violations by government or security forces as whole, so far you have not been able to advance beyond allegations, no evidence has been advanced. as long as you cannot substantiate your allegations what you do is pure slander. you are of course free to say what you want this being a free country. anyway since it is clear that you are quite free to slander, you should be able to produce the evidence as well . please do.

    btw who else engages in such slanders against security forces? it is quite a legitimate question, that any citizen in a free country is free to ask as well. don’t you think so ? :-)

    while peaceniks freely engage in that slander, they also seem to be incapable of tolerating counter accusations that peaceniks are in fact acting as ltte tools when they parrot ltte propaganda. curious how human behave.


    as for my name, since you do not use other commenters names, i see that you are trying to deal with me using different standards. you are of course free to do so. in fact you have a history of doing so. just do not let others confuse me with someone else as you did last time. i stick to sittingnut to avoid confusion with ppl who have the same (full as well as partial ) name as me. then again, i suppose one cannot quite ask others to change their character traits. so do as your character dictates with regard to my name . there is certainly no need to apologize for being what you are after all. :-)

    quite apart from my name part of it, you made an interesting comment after the quite unnecessary apology ;
    “I take you more seriously with Suranga, that sounds infinitely better than Sittingnut.”
    i suppose you are one of those ppl who judge ppl by their names and appearance instead of content and actions( that explains your unshakable belief in mere allegations even in the face of facts ).

    btw do you agree with ranjith when he equates tamils with ltte?

    well it is a free country.
    sri lanka at large at least, this blog usually isn’t, but hopefully this thread is free so that incorrect statement made by you can be questioned and challenged :-)

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Dear Suranga (aka Sittingnut),

    As usual, you display a demonstrable ignorance of the content published on this site and elsewhere with regards to the issues related to the erosion of human rights in Sri Lanka.

    Slander is an interesting word and fully describes the abhorrent tactics employed by the likes of Gothabaya, Mahinda himself and his coterie of misguided miscreants who while demonstrably adriot in carrying out a war effort, are equally inept at constructing a political and lasting solution to the conflict in SL.

    “as i asked do you think ‘peace’ worth the cost of human rights , justice, democracy, and freedom ? do you believe such ‘peace’ sustainable? or even morally justifiable ?”

    And as I have repeatedly stated, the answer is no – which is also precisely why this government’s reprehensible tactics need to be exposed as such to those who believe that is it virgin pure and committed to securing and strengthening the rights of all citizens in Sri Lanka.

    “suppose you are one of those ppl who judge ppl by their names and appearance instead of content and actions”

    Not at all – I would love to see you despite what you say.

    “as for my name, since you do not use other commenters names, i see that you are trying to deal with me using different standards.”

    I stand rightly accused – you demand exceptional treatment.

    “i stick to sittingnut to avoid confusion with ppl who have the same (full as well as partial ) name as me.”

    I always thought you were sui generis – no one that I know of would wish to be confused with you.

    Best,

    Sanjana

  • suntzu

    sittingnut….successive governments have violated the rights of minorities (tamils included) since Indipendence….

    WHO BRINGS THEM TO JUSTICE?

  • SH

    JM, Thanks for the info. Especially the list of publications. Wasn’t aware of them.

    To be honest, I don’t think you would be the average person in Sri Lanka. You included yourself in that group. So not sure if the list of sources applies to you personally or the average person.

    I really want to know what an average person, based on some sort of market research or statistical poll….in the south is able to access. And who this “average” person is.

    Also area to area, how opinions and access to info varies. Does anyone know of any papers or data online which would provide such information?

  • SH

    sitting nut,

    One good way to get the most out of a discussion is to stick to one core idea and try and stay on course. My personal opinion is that you have alot of broad questions which are not suited to this sort of forum.

  • http://justmal.com JM Bardo

    In his defence, I’ve found at least six individuals on Google with Sittingnut’s exact name – a painter, two sportsmen, a battery company executive, an industrial trainee, and a community college student. Perhaps you should respect his request for anonymity.

    Sanjana, no one claimed that this government is “virgin pure”. It may well be engaged in some degree of rights violations, but so do all other nations who are combatting lesser terrorist groups. In my opinion, this justifies what the government does, because the only other option they would have is to do nothing, and let the LTTE continue its abuses which are much greater. There is no realistic third option. Surely any pragmatic person would choose the lesser evil given these circumstances.

    Secondly, let me remind you of the behaviour of the peacenik community during the Wickremesinghe peace process. Anyone pointing out the crimes and rights violations of the LTTE were maligned as a war monger and a miscreant. That eminent Tamil activist Rajan Hoole, who has just won the Martin Ennals award for Human Rights Defenders, was supposedly threatened to have his funds cut off by the donors if he did not go easy on the Tigers. Paul Harris from the Daily Telegraph was deported from Sri Lanka for being critical of the peace process and the LTTE and no “media freedom watchdog” stood up for his defence. Sinhala journalists from Divaina and the Island were set upon by Tamils at several occassions with total impunity, but again, no condemnation came through. The offices of the dissident Tamil newspaper Navamani was set on fire in the heart of Colombo by the LTTE, but no one batted an eyelid. I particularly remember the response when President Kumaratunge raised the issue of child conscription during a CNN interview. The anchor’s attitude was that – why focus about these things that may discredit the Tamil Tigers when we’ve got a peace process. Many of your colleagues, particularly Jehan Perera, were of the same view when it came to this subject. All the major newspapers were dictated to by Prime Ministerial media unit, headed by the notorious Sudath Ralahamy, and they were told not to publish anything critical of the peace process and the LTTE. While this was going on, dozens of army soldiers, intelligence operatives, EPDP activists and others were being hunted down and killed one after the other by LTTE death squads all over the South.

    I think this is the culture of appeasement and impunity that Sittingnut is talking about. How could you possibly expect us to take you seriously when you’ve been guilty of the same thing that you accuse us of, albeit in the name of “peace”. Did none of those people have any rights worth worrying about, or were they not as important as the peace process?

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Hi JustMal,

    As someone noted in one of your earlier comments today (re one of your comments against Parameshwaree), you seem to be misinformed on the situation of human rights in SL. My answer is much the same as it was to Sittingnut – the information is public, and was most recently reaffirmed by Boucher’s visit to SL. If the weight of evidence to date does not even, at the very least, hint of the great stink that is this Government’s human rights record, then we will have to respectfully agree to disagree.

    Jehan Perera is not one of my colleagues and as far as I know, does not frequent Groundviews. If he does, he may respond himself. CNN too I hope will follow suit.

    “The offices of the dissident Tamil newspaper Navamani was set on fire in the heart of Colombo by the LTTE, but no one batted an eyelid.”

    Like your statement on Parameshwaree earlier, this again is manifestly untrue – see FMM’s statement reproduced in the Sunday Observer (http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2002/12/08/new50.html).

    Your central argument echoes that which is made by others too, in this and other fora – that the US, UK and basically all Western Govt’s blatantly violate Human Rights, and accordingly have no right to dictate terms to SL, and that the SL Govt. does not violate human rights to the same extent anyway. This is a simplistic argument, based on the erroneous assumption that HR is a relative concept based on the behaviour of governments as opposed to being judged against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and related rights instruments of the UN that Sri Lanka has signed and ratified.

    Furthermore, the issue is also about how we judge the lesser evil. How much of abuse are we willing to countenance? To even argue that human rights can be abused to any degree is to begin a descent down a slippery slope of eroding democracy. There is a realistic third way, and that is precisely what was squandered on May Day with the SLFP’s puerile proposals that even the likes of Anandasangaree rejected forthwith.

    Cheers,

    Sanjana

  • http://justmal.com JM Bardo

    Dear Sanjana,

    Thank you for your quick response and pointing out my “errors”. Your sense of humour is duly noted.

    Let me point out that FMM’s statement has no reference to the obvious culprit, ie: LTTE. In fact, by the way it’s worded, an outsider reading the statement would be inclined to believe that this is a Tamil language newspaper office burnt down by Sinhalese extremists. Was it because there was no conclusive proof? That doesn’t stop FMM from routinely accusing others solely on the basis of unsubsantiated heresy (eg: “abduction” of Akuna “journalists”). In fact, even Reporters Sans Frontières directly accused LTTE as being responsible for this crime in its annual report, so why not FMM? Was it because they didn’t want to rock the peace boat by naming and shaming the perpetrators. What happened to human rights not being a relative concept?

    The fact remains that the peaceniks approved the way the UNP government turned a blind eye on LTTE’s atrocities in the name of peace, so how could they take a moral stand with regard to this government’s apparent indifference to Karuna’s crimes.

    Human rights being an absolute concept may be true in a perfect world, but Sri Lanka, in case you haven’t noticed, isn’t one of them. The reason Sri Lanka and other democratic governments have to engage in some degree of restrictions is not because they enjoy it – in fact it goes against the very principles they stand for – but because the consequences of not doing anything are far worse.

    I realise you don’t like simplistic arguments, but just compare the situation of Kilinochchi and Colombo. LTTE does not allow any opposition, not in media, not in politics – absolutely nothing. It’s completely totalitarian. On the other hand, despite all the criticism, there is a great deal of freedom in Colombo. There are numerous newspapers that publish absolute rubbish against the government, yet nothing happens to them. MP Gajendran speaks in the parliament to congratulate the LTTE, and he could go home on a tax payer funded vehicle with government soldiers protecting him. This is the lesser evil.

    I’m not saying that we should let the government get away with anything in the name of war and prevention of terrorism. They should only do the absolute minimum required. I don’t believe they should be held up to unrealistic standards that no one else in the world seem to follow. On the other hand, I think it’s acceptable that a few innocents may suffer to protect everyone else, although this reality may sound unpalatable to some of us. That’s the margin of error, and that’s the lesser evil.

    I didn’t think the particularls of Parameshwari’s arrest was important to this discussion, but since you bring it up, let me remind you that she was not arrested because she was a journalist. According to her own statement to WSWS, the TID had tried to lure Susanthi Thambirajah (that Parameshwari had provided lodging for) to the Savoy cinema to arrest her, and it was only by chance that Parameshwari had tagged along. Susanthi was a suspected suicide bomber – she’s still in jail for terrorism charges – so the TID naturally took her companion into custody along with their primary suspect. They had no idea that this person was a journalist until much later. My point to SH was not this, but that the “average person” in the South has been presented with both viewpoints, ie: it was fair to arrest her because TID cannot allow a margin of error when it comes to terrorism, and also that she was an innocent journalist who had been arrested by the government to muzzle the freedom of media, and that the way I saw it, the average person has chosen to believe the former.

    I only meant that Jehan Perera was your colleague in the broader sense – being brothers in arms of the peacenik community. Do excuse my unfamiliarity with its pecking order.

  • adharmishta

    sanjana, just a brief aside which I’ve been pondering upon lately and would like to have your opinion on. I hope you would answer all three (four) questions.

    Do you believe the LTTE, under its current leadership, is genuinely committed to a political solution?

    Do you believe the LTTE would settle for anything less than a separate nation state?

    If open to a political solution encompassing autonomy less than separation, why did the LTTE in effect cast the winning vote for Rajapakse by denying the people of the North their right to universal suffrage?

    I believe these are fundamental questions we all need to ask ourselves regardless of our views on what you have rightly referred to as the slippery slope of eroding democracy and the road to peace.

    This is because effectively dealing with the LTTE is vital to reaching a just peace. LLet me explain why I say this. The reality is that they control wide swathes of land in the North of the island. It is ill-conceived to expect that the population living in these areas would suddenly overthrow, revolt against or reject LTTE administration in the event that an effective alternative voice/s for the Tamil people were to rise. Contributing to this conclusion, i feel cannot be escaped, is that the LTTE controls its territory undemocratically and also that much of the Tamil population in government controlled areas, be it rightly or wrongly and notwithstanding their condemnation of LTTE tactics, feel they owe the LTTE a debt of gratitude or loyalty for creating a situation today where they are free to enjoy certain rights and freedoms.

    So, if the LTTE cannot be ignored, and in the context of your answers to the questions i posed above, do see a beneficial role for the people of Sri Lanka in treating the LTTE as a partner in peace?

    Sittingnut, you say, the
    ltte violates rights. they should be brought to justice. it is government’s duty to bring them to justice.

    Considering that Sri Lanka is party to many international covenants, and bound by many norms of international law setting forth an international human rights regime,
    and further considering that many arms of the State today are responsible for the violation of many of those norms, if you were to apply the same logic as you did above,
    shouldn’t you also agree to international sanctions and diplomatic and political pressure imposed on Sri Lanka that would bring our government to justice or back into conformity to its international obligations?

    Are you blindly patriotic, do you hold to double standards, or do you believe Sri Lanka can go it alone (not only in the context of this conflict, but also economically to begin with.)

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    JM,

    In earlier comments you’ve dismissed the RSF as well as the FMM. You began first by an error in your own research – that no one spoke against actions to silence media during the UNF – LTTE peace process. They did, and the FMM statement is proof of it. Most recently, the FMM had this to say:

    “As we have repeatedly noted in the past, the FMM is distressed to hear of repeated violations of media freedom by armed actors such as the Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam (LTTE) and the Karuna Faction in the North and East of Sri Lanka, areas that for over 25 year have suffered the brunt of violent conflict and an almost total absence of plural, democratic dissent and its corollary, a free press.

    Aside from serious and repeated allegations of gross violation of human rights in the North and East of Sri Lanka, the FMM is deeply concerned that the history of violence and the intolerance of diversity results in a context that is deadly for professional journalism. As noted by human rights activists, the LTTE is known to brutally suppress any dissent, and over the past year, has even gone to the extent of attempting to suppress criticism on its modus operandi by those living and writing in the diaspora and particularly in places such as Paris, London and Canada. These reports allege several instances of threats and intimidation against progressive Tamil nationalist voices. Other than guided tours, the LTTE though open to questions by journalists has consistently denied free, unhindered access to areas under its control. An iron grip on the media by these armed groups places journalists in the North and East in a Catch 22 situation – caught between the Sri Lankan military, the LTTE and the Karuna group, it is impossible to report accurately on any issue or situation on the ground without fear of violent reprisal from one or more of these actors. On this count, the FMM regretfully notes that statements in support of democracy by the Karuna group are discordant with their behaviour in the East. On several occasions, they have disrupted the work of journalists, intimidated newspaper establishments and distributors and even publicly burnt hundreds of copies of certain Tamil newspapers.”

    (http://freemediasrilanka.org/index.php?action=con_news_full&id=567&section=news)

    This is an expression from an organisation you abhor so much that captures fully, and better, that which you have repeatedly articulated on this blog. The formatting is horrendous on that page, but the report goes on to mention just how far media freedom has eroded in SL over the past year. The point you make about Maunasamy Parameshwaree is terribly accurate – in that State media coloured the entire incident to be one in which she was cast as someone who aided and abetted the LTTE, when nothing – nothing at all – was proven or even brought up to be subsequently disproved. The two sides you demarcate so boldly were not presented and what is more, government MP’s went on record stating their blind belief that Parameshwaree was herself a terrorist – long before any judicial process had even begun!

    “On the other hand, I think it’s acceptable that a few innocents may suffer to protect everyone else, although this reality may sound unpalatable to some of us.”

    Well said from the comfort of urban Australia mate. This is the statement of someone who has never had to suffer, and never will, the effects of protracted conflict and the trauma therein. Comfort zones of the diaspora often manifest themselves in the support of war and violence, and this is to be expected from those who have nothing to lose, and have lost nothing, from the continuing violence in Sri Lanka.

    Best,

    Sanjana

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Dear adharmishta ,

    “Do you believe the LTTE, under its current leadership, is genuinely committed to a political solution?”

    No, but apart from Kadirgamar’s trenchant critique, there was no real set of alternatives to take the ISGA by its horns and lock in the LTTE to a process of dialogue that could have chipped away at its maximalist position and achieved some level of compromise. That it wasn’t even attempted is regrettable.

    “Do you believe the LTTE would settle for anything less than a separate nation state?”

    No, with Prabhakaran as its Leader. And as noted earlier, with the SLFP’s inability to articulate a political vision that leaves even those such as Anandasangaree abject, are you really surprised at their belligerence?

    “If open to a political solution encompassing autonomy less than separation, why did the LTTE in effect cast the winning vote for Rajapakse by denying the people of the North their right to universal suffrage?”

    Because of what was, possibly even more than Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, a monumental misjudgment of Mahinda Rajapaksa and just how detrimental he would be to them.

    “So, if the LTTE cannot be ignored, and in the context of your answers to the questions i posed above, do see a beneficial role for the people of Sri Lanka in treating the LTTE as a partner in peace?”

    The current strategy of the Government is to debilitate the LTTE militarily – so any talk of partners in peace, which was the precise terminology used to describe the UNF – LTTE relationship, is today moot. The LTTE is constructed and seen by the South as a pariah, a threat that needs to be culled. As I note in a recent article:

    “Let us be clear – those who promote a larger discourse on conflict transformation do so not necessarily from a foundation of pacifism. War may be deemed necessary and inevitable, and those of us in civil society can only do so much to influence the mercurial machinations of those in power. Accordingly, if a war is deemed necessary, then for better or worse, civil society must grapple with the unpleasant reality generated by its existence and escalation. No amount of anti-war sentiment is going to resonate with a body politic and society deeply influenced by the Government’s overwhelming control of the far reaching State media, and outright terror tactics against private and alternative media. The actions of the President’s brother (the Defence Secretary) against the Editor the Daily Mirror, and the culture of impunity within which such actions are celebrated as those that seek to secure patriotism and troop morale, are indicative of the challenges civil society advocates of non-violent conflict transformation must face in Sri Lanka today. Accordingly, arguments that can stick better are on how a war against terrorism must be fought – that rules of engagement and human rights are inviolable whatever the situation the country faces, and that even though the Government may be willing to toss aside the CFA for national security, the human security of its citizens is even more vital.”

    (http://www.groundviews.org/2007/05/08/an-infamous-proposal/)

    Best,

    Sanjana

  • Che

    I am sorry to lower the tone of this discussion somewhat, but as I was getting a little worried about the depleted commentary on Groundviews over the last several weeks, I wanted to register my pleasure that such a simple yet telling post has returned Groundviews to its former lively self.

    And what a star-studded cast: sittingnut (whose name should never have been divulged), JustMal (recently having achieved academic respectability via Michael Roberts no less) and others returning in full-throated form…fantastic!

    Well played, chaps. Keep it up.

  • adharmishta

    actually my question to you was based on your personal opinion on the LTTE and its ideology considering the answers provided to the first three questions.

    You say,
    “The LTTE is constructed and seen by the South as a pariah, a threat that needs to be culled.”

    Ok, but how do you see them?
    _______________________________________________________________________
    Also,
    you have observed that
    ““…those who promote a larger discourse on conflict transformation do so not necessarily from a foundation of pacifism. War may be deemed necessary and inevitable, and those of us in civil society can only do so much to influence the mercurial machinations of those in power. Accordingly, if a war is deemed necessary, then for better or worse, civil society must grapple with the unpleasant reality generated by its existence and escalation.”

    Are you one who sees war as necessary to achieve certain goals (e.g. till a certain point in the balance of power or a leadership change is affected in the LTTE) in the context of current LTTE strategies? Do you see these goals being achieved without resort to war?

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    My personal opinion of the LTTE, and its evolution, can be found in my writing which is publicly available on the web, including my occasional columns in the Daily Mirror over the years.

    I don’t see war as necessary. Or not. That it is present, and isn’t going to go away just because we want it to, is a peacebuilder’s central challenge. We can of course issue media statements on how bad war is, but the public imagination may be captivated by rhetoric that posits it as a just war, necessary and vital to the preservation of democracy and to rid ourselves of terrorism. Here we encounter the notions of jus ad bellum, jus in bello and increasingly jus post bellum – why a war is deemed necessary, what is acceptable in war, and what happens after the war is won. I see dialogue on these issues as absolutely vital to ensure that war does not become over time, as it so often does, an excuse for undemocratic practices (and macro-economic mismanagement) and contributes to the development of an intolerant, illiberal, stentorian regime with little or no patience for those who articulate a worldview different to that which they hold true.

    As for a war against the LTTE, the question you ask can never be answered. More accurately, those who say yes will always hypothesize over what never was, and those who say no will point to the military victories to date and say that there is simply no way we can “talk” to the LTTE without debilitating them on the battle ground.

    War may be inevitable, but in a Sri Lankan context, it will never bring about an transformation of the political and social fabric necessary to address the reasons why the LTTE arose in the first instance. War is not going to write a new constitutional order, and a victor’s justice imposed upon a deracinated, traumatised population coupled with a continuation of majoritarian democracy I fear is not going to bring about justice and lasting peace. As I have noted in my columns, there is a significant difference between defeating the LTTE military, and addressing the Tamil national question politically.

    To paraphrase Niebuhr, though man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.

  • adharmishta

    it’s proving quite difficult to get a straight answer out of you. Watch out.. you may have got caught up in peace-builder’s rhetoric yourself.
    let me try a more specific approach if you would indulge me in my continued intrusion.

    Do YOU see war as necessary in the context that it would be to reach a certain point in the balance of power where a more moderate government (present or future) approach could hope to engage an LTTE made to embrace a more moderate/accommodative approach itself due to weakened relative military power and/or decreased territory and population being under its influence? This war would not be to reach a final military victory, but the point identified above. This is also in the context of the ideology of the current LTTE leadership and the current dynamics which do not allow for a moderate approach by any government (UNP/SLFP/National) to succeed which you seem to have agreed to above.

    This is just out of curiosity to identify if ‘peaceniks’ would relent to the hawks when faced with a substantiated dead-end.

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Adharmista,

    Watch out too – your propensity for straight talking persons with simple answers and solutions to complex problems, epitomised by Bush and his limited vocabulary and in the simplistic worldviews espoused publicly by some of politicians in Sri Lanka, are the bane of conflict transformation. Yours is no intrusion, but my answers remains the same – the responses you seek are in my writing which is publicly available.

    It is also strange to carry on a conversation with an anonymous moniker such as yours on my personal beliefs beyond that which I’ve publicly expressed, and I encourage you to get in touch with me personally if you wish to continue this discussion any further.

    Best,

    Sanjana