Monday, April 27, 2009

Sri Lanka | End of war is not peace

New Delhi: A tiny and ever-shrinking strip of land between a lagoon and the sea is all that remains of the territory held by the LTTE. The bloody battle is nearly over according to the Sri Lankan army, but the end of war is not peace.

The Tamil tigers are counting their days, but the Tamil cause is not. It was not the LTTE – now in its final lap – that created the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, but the ethnic strife that created the LTTE.

If the genuine grievances of the Tamil minority are not met, the end of the LTTE and its chieftain will just be an interim victory for President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government, and worse -- another LTTE might crop up.

Already there have been predictions that, in the face of defeat, the LTTE would melt away and re-emerge as an "asymmetrical" terrorist organisation, in the style of the Provisional IRA or the Basque separatists ETA.

“Military force alone cannot defeat the adversary. Simultaneous political, economic, and societal initiatives are necessary to end the conflict,” says Lieutenant-General (retd.) A.S. Kalkat, Director Emeritus, Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, New Delhi.

Apart from focusing on the post conflict situation, which would include resettling the nearly 200,000 civilians who have escaped Tiger areas this year, the government will have to implement a devolution package acceptable to the Tamils at the earliest.

The 13th amendment to the Constitution can be implemented as an interim measure until more substantial proposals for power sharing in the future are presented.

In the present parliament, the president does not have the requisite majority to amend the Constitution, and the Sinhalese hardliners in the JVP (Janata Vimukhti Peramuna) and JHU (Jathika Hela Urumaya) will make it difficult for him to devolve any powers to the Tamil minority.

Rajapaksa won’t put forward a permanent devolution package before Parliamentary and presidential elections. He may not need the support of any party to devolve power after that.

There is a need to strengthen the provincial administration by devolving more financial power and this should not be just restricted to the North and the East.

There is a need to induct minorities in the bureaucracy, judiciary and armed forces. The absence of minorities from all organs of the state is clearly evident.

In the North and the East the militarized environment should give way to a normal civilian one. The military check posts should be reduced and if need be, handed over to the police.

Winning the trust of Tamils is equally important. Local Tamil leaders complain that Colombo still has not given them any genuine power. For instance, Tamils can't impose taxes to fund schools in rural areas, and they have little say over how development money is spent.

Analysts say in the East, elections to the provincial council were overshadowed by reports of violence and intimidation, and the body has been starved of resources so that central government can continue to call the shots.

This only exacerbates fears that the Tamils will once again be overlooked or marginalized by Sinhalese nationalists within the national government in Colombo.

So, for the Tamils, their political future remains a question mark depending on Rajapaksa’s ability to fulfill their legitimate demands. The president has made repeated promises that once the Tigers are tamed, he would be generous in meeting the political aspirations of Tamil people. But most analysts find him ‘hawkish’.

“After winning the war against LTTE, the government, strongly influenced by a victorious army, might try to impose a dictated peace on the Tamils,” analyst B Raman was quoted as saying in a media report.

Rajapaksa is seeking a $1.9 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund and is looking for a further $1 billion in development aid to steady Sri Lanka's finances and he knows well that in order to persuade Western leaders to bail him out, he must offer his Tamil civilians a decent political settlement.

(As published in


Vetri Iyer said...

How I wish that the LTTE storms back in action. Reason - I don't trust the Sri Lankan govt. Not even the Sri Lankan people. They are into the habit of making fake promises. They have always looked down upon us Tamils. Tamil cause is never going to die in Sri Lanka

Nihal P. said...

It is really hard to trust Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa or Sri Lankan govt for that matter. I think that the Tamilians in Lankan should continue their fight and Tamil Nadu should help them. Of course, by continuing their fight I don't mean the way LTTE did things. The Tamils should make themselves heard -- loud and clear. Thanks, Nihal, London

Anonymous said...

No hopes from Rajapaksa or Sri Lankan govt. We have seen how they are handling the poor Tamil civilians. All they care about is war

Merven Francis said...

I only pray that after the war, the military remains grounded. Too much military intervention n economic, political spheres, which I foresee happening, will spell death knell for the Tamilians. Hope Rajapaksa and his aides understand this. Colombo, Merven

Kamraan Haider said...

I am surprised that when we talk of Sri Lanka war, we only talk of the Tamils and the Sri Lankan. Why don't you focus on the other minorities like muslims. What happens to them? They are, as you would argue, few in number. But nevertheless, THEY EXIST! Thanks, Kamraan Haider, Toronto

B.M. Raina said...

Nice blog...keep up the good work. B.M. Raina

Nivedita said...

My earliest memories of the LTTE was pouring over pictures of Rajiv Gandhi's dead body.

I had wanted to puke and cried watching the shredded bits of Rajiv's body. How I hated LTTE's audacity and violence...

But now, 18-odd years on as I saw Prabhakaran severed or may be half blown head, I was compelled to admire him in his death! If he lived by violence, he also had the guts to die with it.

This because I am deeply suspicious of SINHALA CHAUVINISM!

Prabhakaran took on an adversary that was:
* Shamelessly selfish in the last 60 years of its history
* A community that refused to accept the contribution done my the average faceless Tamil who worked tirelessly to bolster the Sri Lankan economy during the British Raj
* A community that simply refuses to accept that the Tamil culture is SUPERIOR to its own in terms of culture, heritage, language, literature, industriousness...
* A people who cried foul of British subjugation but treats its minorities with abject hatred and accords them a second-class citizenship

I am sorry if I DON'T sound like a 'liberal'. I am sorry if can look the Sinhala chauvinism in its eye, shone of all makeover just as I found the 'Eelam' cause of Tamils in India and in Sri Lanka as a fanciful thought...

I am sorry but I do believe in the points I have made.

Nathan said...

I am a tamil disporah,V deeply trusted in INdia(that it would be atleast nuetral in this war),but now v r heartbroken.Except the Tamil Nadhu ppl,Others in India helped to do a genocide indirectly.Central Government of India has revenged us.I dont know why still India begging Sri lanka as being major power.India even voted in UN,that there is no humantarian issues.We will be cheated as usual,unless India Stop begging Sri lankan government!