from the Wanni
looked taped out - the package parcelled, and now only to be ribboned.
talks in Thailand looked anything but between a sovereign Government
and one of the world's deadliest terrorist organisations. Now de-banned,
and made respectable, the LTTE negotiators seemed to have better cut
suits as well.
There is natural
euphoria in this country - pumped up no doubt by sections of the
mass media - that Anton Balasingham, the LTTE's chief negotiator
has announced that the LTTE has abandoned its demand for a separate
is not the case - and one does not have to feel too disappointed
about it, because one would not expect the LTTE to do so, as early
as on day one, or round one of the talks.
Eelam is the
LTTE's bargaining lever. Has been and will be. What a discerning
reader might well do is to read how the pro-LTTE media has announced
Balasingham's pronouncement. To quote;
demands for regional autonomy and self-government is rejected and
if conditions of oppression continue, as a last resort, our people
have no option other than to fight for political independence and
let there be no illusions, the LTTE has not given up their demand
for a separate state, only shelved it for the time-being. Read to
this must be the fact which the Colombo Government has already conceded,
the LTTE will remain armed. LTTE Recruitments, Training and Re-arming
is still in progress.
though the LTTE has won respectability from the western world with
offers of financial assistance pouring in to develop and reconstruct
the war ravaged north and east.
status now white-washed, the LTTE will embark on a programme of
re-building their shattered 'homeland'- and yet keeping the option
of independence and statehood very much intact.
There is no
need to be unduly worried about this strategy of the LTTE to re-build;
re-construct; buy some time to win some credibility and legitimacy;
to begin working and getting to know foreign donor agencies - but
then, that does not mean one must get too carried away with the
for the south will be, in real terms, the fact that there is no
likelihood of a war-situation at least for some months to come.
Inevitably though, when the parametres of regional autonomy and
self-government are worked out in the coming months - that would
be crunch time. How much of peace could be bartered for sovereignty,
territory and coast -line would be the question. And how could the
Government insist on what the Prime Minister told the UN earlier
this week about "democratic governance" in the North and
The Prime Minister
is on record saying that he will not permit Eelam, or Eelam by any
other name. He has also rejected the concept of a homeland theory
for the Tamils.
Now, and only now, the LTTE is at pains to embrace the Muslims through
Rauff Hakeem and create a grand homeland alliance of 'Tamil-speaking
people' in the numbers game of the island's East.
To quote Dr.
Balasingham again from his own media; " We operate with (sic)
the concept of a homeland and self-determination".
That runs diametrically
against the Prime Minister's own concept that Sri Lanka is the homeland
of all its citizens.
And what is
more, in 1995 Dr. Balasingham was negotiating with the Colombo Government
while unknown to him, his leader was supping with two suicide cadres
who the next day were despatched to sea where they blasted a Navy
boat in Trincomalee and thereby wrecked the peace talks.
have changed now. People say the LTTE is on a weak wicket post 9/11
(2001). There is media hype about peace negotiating the bend. Dr.
Balasingham is talking. The Prime Minister of Sri Lanka has spoken
of the prospects of peace in the world's supreme assembly in New
And yet, one
thing remains the same. The supremo in the Wanni remains silent.
All the world's media and all the world's Governments seem incapable
of getting the most wanted man to say something about abandoning