Peace and Conflict

Spoil Sports, or an Oppportunity for a Dignified Exit

This morning, I woke up to the news that the LTTE had declared an unilateral ceasefire during the SAARC conference. Of course, war is not a sport – but their declaration must be causing a slight dilemma for the Sri Lankan Military. Here’s an extract from the LTTE’s press release that was said to have originated from LTTE’s Political Office in the Vanni during the early hours  of this morning:

As a sign of this goodwill, our movement is glad to inform that it will observe a unilateral ceasefire that is devoid of military actions during the period of the SAARC conference from 26th July to 4th August and give our cooperation for the success of the conference. At the same time if the occupying Sinhala forces, disrespecting our goodwill gesture of our people and our nation, carry out any offensives, our movement will be forced to take defensive actions.

A few minutes after reading the news and checking out related websites, I heard loud banging on our front gate. It was just after 6am, and the the cops were knocking.

They were very polite. Four policemen, and two army personnel – one male, one female. They wanted to check the premises. And so they did. It was all very civilised. The two of us who occupy the house are both Sinhalese, so, I thought it may be a wink-and-nod exercise, but I was surprised when they started looking under the bed. Of course, it’s impossible to be thorough without going through every inch of the place – but never the less, they scanned rooms, and looked in to boxes and containers, and under stacks of newspapers. But as they moved from the second to the third room, and then to the kitchen, their thoroughness decreased. Perhaps they had evaluated that we were not a threat to the State.

Anyway, back to the LTTE’s unilateral ceasefire.

At the time of publishing this post, there has not been a formal response from the Government.

Will the Government ignore the LTTE’s unilateral ceasefire and continue  the fighting – which would most certainly provide ‘soft’ ammunition to the LTTE; or do they also agree to cease fighting for ten days, and then continue  the war after the men from SAARC go home? Or will both sides wink-and-nod, and continue killing each other more quietly?

The membership of SAARC has no real reason to be too friendly towards the LTTE – but perhaps last night’s coming together of Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai to resolve their differences and “chart a new way” (presumably towards a more peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe,) could tempt the membership in to becoming more active in resolving Sri Lanka’s problems.

The person who was the hero in yesterday’s Zimbabwe deal wasn’t the proud  President or the persistent Opposition Leader. The hero was the mediator – the South African President Thabo Mbeki.

It was only Aljazeera that was beaming out live yesterday’s full press conference where Mugabe slammed the European Union and the United States for its threatening stance towards Zimbabwe. He congratulated South African President Mbeki, a number of times, for his efforts in attempting to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe. Mugabe’s speech stressed the need for Africa to solve Africa’s problems using Africa’s way, and for the rest of the world to butt out. Mugabe’s speech would have touched any leader who feels bullied by the West.

In Sri Lanka’s case – Prabhakaran needs the West, but Rajapakse doesn’t. In fact, for Sri Lanka’s President, “the West” is annoying, hypocritical and full of double standards. On top of that, he would suspect that certain sections of “the West” remains sympathetic to the LTTE.

And under the current climate, there’s no way the Government would consider a power-sharing deal with the LTTE. If they did, there’d be a very public military coup.

So, a couple of questions to conclude with:

Will anyone from SAARC put up their hands to help Sri Lanka “chart a new way”? Who would want to make Prabhakaran feel safe, powerful and loved, while gently guiding him to his retirement home? Or will the men from SAARC  give the wink-and-nod to President Rajapakse to continue squeezing the the LTTE until they are no more…

note: the views expressed in the above piece do not necessarily represent the views of the author. the above piece aims to generate dialogue and discussion in the spirit of blog culture.