Colombo, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance

Post-CFA politics, war and peace in Sri Lanka: A few thoughts

I wrote some a few thoughts this morning in response to the Government’s decision, taken last night, to withdraw from the Ceasefire Agreement with the LTTE signed in February 2002. This significant decision gives us a hint of the Government’s thinking on war and peace and what we can accordingly expect it to say and do this year.

1. Waging war will be the government only priority this year. It will through any means necessary and violently if need be, erase all real and perceived obstacles in its war efforts.

2. The government will scoff at international opinion. The end of the CFA means the end of the SLMM. The end of the SLMM means that a significant mechanism with which to monitor human rights abuses, including damning evidence of the recruitment of child soldiers, by both the LTTE and the Government will come to an end.

3. Sri Lanka’s political future will be increasingly determined by extremist Sinhala nationalist forces. The Government will not give a damn for the opprobrium of the international community. Foreign policy will be aligned to be partial to pariah states with scant regard for human rights with money to spare sans any conditions tied to the peace process.

4. Maintaining the stability of the government will not be easy. By abrogating the CFA,the Government both panders to the rabid nationalism of the JVP and its demands and at the same time is now in a commanding position to dictate terms to the party.

5. The rising cost of living, inflation and gross economic mismanagement of the Government will be countered by increasingly publicly branding anyone who voices opposition to the government, including opposition political parties, as pro-LTTE / partial to terrorism / unpatriotic.

Read and comment on my brief article (in Sinhala) on Vikalpa here.

  • Veedhur

    Are the next mile stones – banning of LTTE – country on war footing – censorship and suspension of the fudamental rights – compulsary austerity measures and rationing – conscription?

    Is this the beginning of the end of Mahinda’s Military Chinthana
    or
    Is it, as per Dayan’s analogy, the beginning of the dark years beyond which there is a bright future?

  • Veedhur

    Dayan as in Dayan Jayatillake, Sri Lanka’s representative in Geneva

  • Carl Oweson

    Susanda, I am afraid you are perfectly right. In other words: Quite some time, probably several years, will pass before this island put brave and courageous leaders in the right positions. Those who run the show today clearly do not have an intimate experience or knowledge of what war actually means. Thus, they are likely to tackle seriously only their own minor personal/family concerns and make decisions which leave the poor masses, who, like in most war zones, are the ones paying the price with their lives and limbs, in continued misery. Peace is actually not wanted in this country above other “goods” among the rulers. Therefore raw animalistic, immature and truly unmodern tendencies of accepting deadly violence directed at other human beings go on unabated. Really sad for those who somehow have to deal with and witness this reality on an everyday basis (and have developed normal human capailitities to take in others’ suffering). Much easier for those of us who can just stay away from what would otherwise have been a paradise island. And probably simply a bliss or pure lust satisfaction for the crowd of government thugs and the many saffron-covered and janaka-populistic racists that are allowed to influence the ways things are done and understood in this part of the world.

  • Dayan Jayatilleka

    So, in the view of this writer, China and Russia are “pariah states “…!

  • sam

    It’s all perspective really: one person’s pariah state is another person’s love pad.

  • ivap

    Another article somewhat pertinent to this and other discussions occurring at groundviews in general at http://www.theage.com.au/news/opinion/fingerwagging-wont-help-build-democracies/2008/01/02/1198949896987.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1

    Of course the question is, would Simon Jenkins be able to publish this in russia, china, and lets not forget iran today as a native? More importantly, does the answer previous question really matter for the cause of liberal democracy in the (whole) island of sri lanka?

  • ivap

    oops that should read…

    does the answer to the previous question really matter ….

  • Amarakoon

    Sunanda how can you say Govt. recruited Child Solders? May be Karuna but not the Govt. I am afraid U R wrong there.

  • The government of Sri Lanka has unilaterally withdrawn from the Ceasefire agreement of 2002. Officially now it is engaged in war in the North East of the island. Crimes committed by government soldiers will now come under the definition of war crimes.

    With the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission leaving the island, the North and East may turn out to be the killing fields of the military sycophants and their allegiances.

    There are two important things that the International community would be obliged to do immediately.

    Firstly, to stop war crimes, the UN and the International Community should ask the International Criminal Court(ICC) , established in 2002, to investigate Sri Lankan governmental and military leaders for planning, supervising, aiding, abetting and perpetuating the disappearances and the death of many Tamils in the North and East of the island.

    The persons who have committed war crimes should be taken to the ICC and charged under ‘continuous violation doctrine’.

    The ‘net’ of the ICC should be spread to catch all the war criminals in Sri Lanka, especially the “big fish”, including; the pilots (both foreign and local) who bombed civilian areas killing civilians and destroying property; the soldiers who directed and executed artillery fire at civilian areas, killed people and displaced many; soldiers who abducted civilians, tortured and killed them; the commanders who shot at point blank range the 17 aid workers in Mutur and other similar persons who committed crimes against humanity.

    The Serbian General Milosevic was sentenced to 38 years in prison, by the war crimes court in the Hague, during the second week of December last year, for the siege of Sarajevo and indiscriminate shelling and bombing that happened in 1994 and 1995.

    The governmental and military leaders should similarly be charged and punished for the siege of the North, created by the closure of A9 road since 2006 and bombing and shelling civilian areas indiscriminately.

    Secondly, Britain and the International Community should take immediate steps to decolonise Tamil Eelam and make the people live safely and justly in their sovereign country.

  • N. Ethirveerasingam

    Sunanda Deshapriya and Dayan Jayatilleka,
    Please don’t use the term “Pariah”. Many do without realising that the British used the Tamil term to denote a caste that Tamils ignorantly consider low in status. The Parayar I knew in my village are wonderful people. They were the Town Criers giving the news after beating a drum for people to assemble. They were the drummers in churches and funerals. They were nurses, teachers and government servants. As a child and now as a person in his twilight years I still admire them and consider them equal to any other. It pains me when I see or hear the name of a community is used to express distaste of another person or a State. It is a complement to Sri Lanka to call it a “Paraiah” State. A more appropriate terms for the current Sri Lankan state may be a “Rogue State”, or a “terrorist state.”

  • cyberviews

    I think Sunanda is indulging in a bit of exaggeration for effect. I believe when he uses the term “pariah” he is not using in the context of “rogue state” (the term N. Ethiraveerisingham would like us to use and I shall do so henceforth!). Sunanda is more likely referring to countries who for geo-political or other selfish reasons, are willing to support states that are failing to uphold the rights of its citizens. This applies to China when its supports Burma or Sudan and now when it supports Sri Lanka, whose human rights record is dismal to the point of being genocidal. The true rogue state whose support Sri Lanka has sought and obtained with alacrity on their part is Israel. Other rogues states that comes to mind are Burma and Zimbabwe. Sri Lanka is on a fast track to becoming one. Sad that people of the intellectual calibre of Dayan Jayatilaka by becoming apologists to its cause, are hastening that process.

  • JM

    Sunanda’s wonderful and pessimistic analysis only leads to the conclusion that the Sri Lankan Army will, in all probability, annihilate or drastically decimate the LTTE within a short period of time. Has anyone thought about what they are going to do if, god forbid, this comes to pass? Sri Lankan peacenik NGOs, as do their donor countries associated with the Sri Lankan peace process, believe that LTTE must not be made irrelevant, because that would make it difficult for them to persuade the Sri Lankan state to “restructure” itself according to their guidelines. LTTE, in a manner of speaking, is the stick used to bully Sri Lanka into submission and conformation. Losing this stick means a near-complete loss of control. Sri Lanka has friends in other places, including Russia, China, Pakistan and even Iran, and they are only interested in a mutually beneficial trade relationship with no strings attached, so Sri Lanka is not particularly worried about the loss of favour by Norway, EU or US.

    If the LTTE is done for, there wouldn’t be a war. What then, will you do? How would you then convince the Sri Lankan people that ethnic-religious partition of the country is essential? Without the war, there wouldn’t be as many, if any, human rights abuses? But then, the reason why this government is being accused of all these crimes doesn’t have anything to do with whether it’s committing them or not. Otherwise Ranil’s administration should also have been accused of supporting child conscription by the LTTE.

    So what is your Plan B, Sunanda. What trajectories will you and your organisations take if there is no longer a question of engaging in CFAs, peace talks, ISGAs, P-TOMS and other such things with catchy acronyms?