11th March 2001

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Point of view

Ridding of Tigers within the state

By Susantha Goonatilake

After his success at the British ban on the LTTE, Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar was carrying the campaign further. He was now attempting bans in Norway, South Africa, Australia, Canada and Germany.

Mr. Kadirgamar is increasingly emerging as the only Sri Lanka minister with both a head for, and dignity of the office he holds. Mr. Kadirgamar contrasts himself with G. L. Pieris's servility whose now rejected package was first shown to Western diplomats before being shown to us normal citizens.

He is also a strong contrast to Prime Minister Wickremanayake who makes imprudent remarks such as 'election pledges have no significance' and 'public servants should not be impartial'. It is very possible that this fair country, sick of crooked politicians, if given a chance would vote Mr. Kadirgamar for still higher office.

After the ban, the alleged moderate Tamil United Liberation Front that had enriched the culinary vocabulary of the world by propagating that Sinhalese ate Tamil meat, considered the ban "unfortunate".

The UNP that had kept a studied silence while some of its up country members asked Britain not to ban, now "welcomed" the British decision. But there was a sting in this belated realisation.

The UNP statement said that it had always taken the lead to combat the Tigers as "evidenced by the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987". It also claimed that it lobbied the US Government in 1992 to include the LTTE in its ban saying that it "ultimately led to their ban there".

This was disingenuous rubbish. The ban of the LTTE in the US had little to do with the UNP or the present government. lt was the result of dedicated work by the Sri Lankan group FOSUS which had got an amendment banning the LTTE attached to a bill in Congress.

The UNP statement evoking the Indo-Lanka agreement as a desirable step against the separatist assault was again fraudulent. It ignored that the Indo-Lanka Accord was imposed on the UNP leadership through gunboats and air drops by India that had earlier trained all the separatists. This Indian largesse had been helped by nearly a century of South Indian Tamil separatist propaganda.

Such UNP claims were like the present government taking credit for declaring Vesak a UN holiday. The canvassing for this was done by the likes of Kurunegoda Piyatissa Maha Thera of the New York Vihara.

Our Buddha Sasana Minister's function in New York was only to pose for the Sri Lankan audience after the holiday was essentially agreed upon.

The Norwegians cast the only vote against the holiday, an act against not only the country's major religion but also an affront to the whole of Asia. This was the cultural equivalent of the present Norwegian Ambassador Jon Westborg, as then Redd Barna representative, settling upcountry Tamils in the jungles of Vanni to become Prabhakaran's present soldiers (Weerasinghe Sunday Divayina July 2000). (The current LTTE website shows Prabhakaran giving an award in the form of a gold Tiger crest to Jon Westborg and Erik Solheim - no doubt in thanks for services rendered).

But just before the ban, Westborg's planted soldiers in the Vanni declared a phony ceasefire. Frightened about the ban, the Tigers alternatively breathed fire and cooed dovishly.

They made threats as well as "peace" and "ceasefire" initiatives. They did this directly and indirectly through organisations that fronted for them.

Songs of this phony peace were being orchestrated by various mercenary groups, many of them Norwegian funded. As the date for the ban came near, the National Peace Council (NPC) propagandised on the 'Cost of War'. NPC members had earlier marched in Tiger rallies, welcomed with glee the humiliation of the Indian Accord and continuously championed whittling away of the country by calls for "shared sovereignty " and two near-states (January 12, 1997, Island; May 1998 Sunday Observer) .

After the ban, Anton Balasingham declared that the ban was "a triumph for Buddhist racism and fascism". He carefully left out the Catholic Church that had campaigned heavily in Britain against the ban. And in Sri Lanka itself, the Church was mobilizing widely for one-sided peace.

The Church's role in creating a nexus between South Indian and Sri Lankan Tamil separatists going back to the 19th century is well known. Its role in suppressing local opinion under different colonialists is a painful fact.

No wonder the Hindu Vishwa Parishad the ideological arm of the BJP had in 1998 labelled the LTTE as the armed wing of the Christian Church.

Father Malcolm Ranjith, Secretary General of the Catholic Bishops Conference was in the forefront of the inspired peace offensive. He issued statements guaranteeing Tiger's peaceful intents. In an interview with the Italian newspaper "Awenire," this worthy had once arrogated to the Church "a unique position" to solve the ethnic crisis (28-Oct-99 óZENIT News Agency). His arrogance conveniently forgot the Church's central role in creating and ideologically arming the conflict. One example: the Church sponsored resolutions in Geneva confirming the phony Tamil traditional homelands.

And in Britain, Father Emmanuel, the former vicar-general of Jaffna, had once blessed "Eelam House" the Tiger headquarters when it was opened in 1996. He had then prayed that in the future, Eelam House would be the Embassy of Tamil Eelam in London.

In an interview with the Independent of London (26 February 1995) Emmanuel also praised LTTE suicide cadres. To him they were not suicides "they're martyrs" and equated these sick acts with "a higher cause, the way Jesus Christ did". And in 1997, he visited South Africa to spread LTTE propaganda there. South Africa (and Norway) is widely talked about as the next foreign haven for the Tigers after the British ban.

The purpose of the ban was the denial of such safe havens. A safe haven for the Tigers to spread its ideology was however nearer home within the government itself. Let me elaborate. The disinformation carried out by the Sunday Observer on last year's SLAAS ethnic conference led me on a voyage of enquiry into its stands. I quickly found out that one has only to read past issues of the Sunday Observer, to find extensive separatist ideology. One did not have to go to Eelam House in London for them. (No. I have not yet found the reason why. One possible clue: a pattern of deep infiltration of the paper by Christian fundamentalists completely at variance with their representation in the population at hand).

Long before the attack of the Taleban on Buddhist monuments there were the Tiger attacks on more sacred sites such as the Sri Maha Bodhi and the Dalada Maligawa.

But the Sunday Observer journalists educate us that their newspaper does not subscribe to the "standard view of the LTTE in the South" as terrorists. In this same spirit of Tigers-as-cuddly-pets, the Sunday Observer has also attacked The Sunday Times and the Island for their nationalist stands.

The Sunday Observer (Dec22 1995) was apparently a key conduit for the machinations of the pro-Tiger outfit International Alert (IA).

IA had begun with an explicit Tiger agenda, its maps showing large tracts of land down to Hambantota as exclusive Tamil lands. In a revealing interview with IA's Kumar Rupesinghe, a man who had publicly praised Pol Pot's regime, Lakshman Gunasekara of the Sunday Observer once implied that the Government should not make use of its military advantage in a peace settlement. He also implied then that dispatching food to the North could be bad, because it may be perceived as a hostile action by the Government to win over the LTTE's own political constituency and thereby undermine the Tigers' political base.

More recently, the Sunday Observer was giving publicity to just the opposite, namely the Tiger lie that there was an embargo of food in the North. They were faithfully following Tiger twists and turns. And, during the cries for the ban, it continued to give publicity to reports demanding not to ban the Tigers.

The government is now poised to take out Tiger propaganda offices in other countries. And, hours after the ban the Air Force went deep into Tiger territory and physically took out Tiger positions.

It was high time that the government takes out Tiger positions that had infiltrated deep into the government machine, carrying the enemy's propaganda within the state itself. They do not require radar, they only have to read the Sunday Observer' s past centre pages.

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