Groundviews

Parallel Enigmas of Pirabaharan and Rajapaksa

Photo courtesy TTN

The attempts to field the ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa as a Prime Ministerial candidate to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections by a vocal fringe of the southern political community is similar to the attempts to reincarnate the mystique of Veluppillai Pirabaharan by a vocal fringe of the northern political community.

After the demise of the Tiger leader, a considerable section of the northern political community refused to accept his death by claiming that “em thalaivar sahavillai” (our leader did not die) for a long time (few even today do not believe it). It was claimed that the thalaivar (leader) had escaped to Eretria and later to Cuba. In the same way, many loyalists of the ex-President Rajapaksa refuse to accept his political defeat at the Presidential election held in January 2015. Although the margin of victory by Maithripala Sirisena was thin, it has to be remembered that the victory was against the full might of the state resources (financial, human, and material) and crony capitalists’ resources deployed by Mahinda Rajapaksa and his corporate business henchpersons.

The diehards of the north claim that the physical defeat of Pirabaharan did not mean his political defeat. Similarly, the diehards of the south claim that the defeat of the Rajapaksa at the last Presidential election did not mean his political death. Thus, the unrepentant fringe of both north and south reinforce each other.

The end of the Rajapaksa regime did not begin with the defection of Maithripala Sirisena and few others in November 2014 as many seem to believe. Instead, the beginning of the end of the Rajapaksa regime began with the Eastern Provincial Council election held in 2012, Northern Provincial Council election held in September 2013 (the ruling coalition lost the foregoing two provinces), Southern and Western Provincial Council elections held in March 2014, and the Uva Provincial Council election held in September 2014 (although the ruling coalition won the last three provinces, its share of votes declined significantly). Nevertheless, the defection of Maithripala Sirisena in November 2014 was to Mahinda Rajapaksa, the defection of Vinayagamoorthi Muralidharan (aka Karuna Amman) in March 2004 to Veluppillai Pirabaharan.

The recent report by the Bureau of Counterterrorism of the Department of State indicating LTTE’s continued collection of money among Tamil diaspora communities and alleged procurement of arms has become the latest ‘grist to the mill’ for those bent on resurrecting the mystique of the Mahinda Rajapaksa at the upcoming parliamentary elections. The contents about the LTTE in the report of the Bureau of Counterterrorism are nothing new; every single year since the defeat of the LTTE in May 2009 it has said the same over and over again. So, what is new this year? The rump Rajapaksa clan seems to have only the bogey of the reincarnation of the tiger to hide the rule of state terrorism marked by butchery, robbery, and savagery for nine long years from November 2005 to January 2015.

This does not mean to say that the contents of the report by the Bureau of Counterterrorism are untrue; it is very much true in spite of this author’s doubt about the claim of continuing arms procurement by the rump LTTE overseas. This is why it is all the more important for Sri Lanka to have cordial relationship and constructive engagement with the western countries including the USA. It is not only that Sri Lanka depends on the American and European markets for its exports, Europe and North America are indispensable for the prevention of terrorism rising again in Sri Lanka as well. On this score alone the attempts to resurrect the Rajapaksa regime would be a disaster to Sri Lanka.

It is important to remember and recall that intelligence and other support (software) provided particularly by the USA and India was pivotal for the military defeat of the LTTE, which were of course favours done to Sri Lanka. The arms supplies (hardware) to Sri Lanka by China and Pakistan to defeat the LTTE were only on commercial terms, which were business transactions and not favours. The foregoing fact itself demonstrates Sri Lanka’s real friends.

The state terrorism started in 1971 was the precursor to tiger terrorism of the 1980s and beyond. The state terrorism and tiger terrorism were two sides of the same coin. Therefore, Sri Lankans should resolve to prevent the rise of both state terrorism and tiger terrorism again.

Percy Mahindra (aka Mahinda) Rajapaksa will go down in the annals of Sri Lankan history as the person who did the most damage to ethnic/race relations in Sri Lanka next only to Solomon West Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, in spite of the honour of defeating tiger terrorism. Moreover, the tiger terrorism was supplanted by low intensity state terrorism since May 2009, which the country had never experienced before.

The overpowering makeup worn (literally!) by the ex-President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the theatrics of poisoned chalice waxed and spun in colloquial Tamil could not dupe the smart citizens of Sri Lanka in January 2015; north or south, east or west. The Sri Lankans should reaffirm the same in August 2015!

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Muttukrishna Sarvananthan (Ph.D. Wales, M.Sc. Bristol, M.Sc. Salford, and B.A. (Hons) Delhi) is the Founder and Principal Researcher of the Point Pedro Institute of Development (http://pointpedro.org), Point Pedro, Northern Province, Sri Lanka. He was an Endeavour Research Fellow at the Monash University, Melbourne (2011-2012) and Fulbright Visiting Research Scholar at the Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, Washington D.C. (2008-2009). sarvi@pointpedro.org