Jaffna, Peace and Conflict, Politics and Governance


By Under Dog


Amidst the bombs, the war, the white vans, and the checkpoints, I look back with fond memories of the ceasefire. It brought four glorious years of peace and prosperity, and also did what the naysayers said could never happen—it split the LTTE in two. Karuna, the LTTE’s fiercest combat commander, and an incessant thorn in our side during the ill-fated Jayasikurui operation, decided he wanted out. Perhaps he wanted a bigger share of the spoils from the LTTE money machine, perhaps more authority, or perhaps he had a lover’s quarrel with Prabhakaran (when the Dear Leader asked ‘do I look fat in this?’ he shouldn’t have recommended changing the uniforms to vertical stripes). Anyway, the truth is we will never really know, but then rumours of internal strife within the LTTE have been rife for years: Tamilselvan vs. Prabhakaran, Pottu Amman vs. Prabhakaran, Tamilselvam vs. Pottu Amman etc. No smoke without fire, so we can assume that the LTTE hierarchy wasn’t the united brotherhood of hunky-doryness they projected to the world.

So that leaves me to think that if the ceasefire continued for a few more years, internal strife within the LTTE might have tamed the roaring tiger into an impotent pussy. Alas, it was not to be. The LTTE wanted war, perhaps to unite the squabblers with the war cry of ‘Eelam or death’ (mostly death these days), or perhaps they knew the LTTE would dissolve into the blissful oblivion of peace if the ceasefire continued. The Sinhala-Buddhists wanted war because…because they are Sinhala and Buddhist and they want to keep it that way (and everyone just loves a good war—especially when we think we’re winning). But then what about the Tamils in the north? Did you want war? Was the ceasefire too peaceful for you? Did you miss the checkpoints and the harassment and the refugee camps so much that you wanted it back? Did you miss the exercise of running away from artillery and MBRL’s and the aerial bombs?

No, I’m not trying to be cruel. But I do miss the ceasefire, and I am against this pointless war. That supposedly makes me a traitor to my Sinhala ethnicity and an LTTE sympathizer. So be it. There’s something about young boys and girls killing each other, coming home limbless and scarred for life that doesn’t quite compute. There’s something about Tamils being dragged off in the night because they look ‘suspicious,’ or bussing them out of Colombo because this isn’t their home that makes my stomach turn. There’s something about bombs on buses and trains, and claymores in the streets that makes me retch. But I put my Sinhala vote where my views are by voting for Ranil in the last presidential election. I thought ceasefire good, war bad, so I voted for the ceasefire guy. What about the Tamils in the North? Why didn’t you vote? Yeah, I know the LTTE told you not to, but you didn’t have to listen to them. Whatever they threatened to do to you then, could it be any worse than what is happening to you now?