One more skirmish?
Everything possible must be done to defuse the volatile ground situation in the Eastern province-now spreading to the North as well-which is a powder keg after this week's incidents in Kanchirankudah. But, the powers that be need to realize that it is not easy to sweep things under the carpet, keep people in a world of make - believe and pretend that what the people do not know in fact does not happen.

We wrote not too long ago in these columns that one could excuse a government for being taken for a ride once, twice, thrice - but four times? The eruption in the East which has resulted in mayhem and the loss of lives, was not a flash-riot that happened in a vacuum.

It was something that was seen to be coming for sometime. Over the past week or so, there was a citizens protest in and around Trincomalee about a blatant violation of the MoU when the LTTE abducted seven soldiers in retaliation for the arrest of two LTTE cadres, which was an unabashed violation of the MoU and the law of the land.

The Attorney General counselled within the bounds of the powers vested in him, when he said that he could not bow to various pressures to mitigate the charges against the two LTTE cadres who had been arrested, so that bail could be obtained for them from Trincomalee's hapless Magistrate who was caught in the middle of all this.

In the end the LTTE cadres had to make an appearance at the Court of Appeal, accept the jurisdiction of the Sri Lankan courts, and get a ticking off from the Judge to the effect that this is a good example of Justice being held to ransom.

But, the LTTE kicked justice in the face by saying that their cadres now released, will not report to the police as required under the conditions for bail. Then came the storming of the STF camp in Batticaloa.

The government, the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission, and the international community has at every turn bent over backwards to accommodate the antics of the LTTE. The government has shown too easily that it is touchy about not wanting to hurt the feelings of the LTTE because it is the end of the world if the LTTE walks out on the peace process.

The SLMM on the other hand has such a scanty understanding of the machinations of the LTTE or they are either too simple or naïve or too partisan, that they have made the MoU not worth the paper it is written on. Seeing all this, the international community which is witness to the government's bend-over-backwards attitude is not vocal in any way lest they be accused of getting in the way of the peace process.

But, it's not the LTTE today which is being called the hawk - the war - monger. Instead it is those others who say to the government: 'watch out - watch your step.' It is being said that the people are for peace but how does that explain the reaction of the people of the East, who are shivering out of fear that a fascist regime is about to take over their 'homelands' in that province? A string of incidents - school children being made to attack police stations, attacks on non-co-operating school principals, dispensing of justice through kangaroo courts, illegal taxes, fasting in jails, hartals, asking that local government elections be postponed - are these confidence-building measures or plain provocative acts bent on breaking the fragile peace to which the government is turning a Nelsonian eye-nay, a blind eye? They see no evil, hear no evil nor speak about LTTE evil.

Undoubtedly the events of this week will also be glossed over as some unfortunate incidents that need to be forgotten in favour of the big picture - economic development of the North with the LTTE, and the South with the World Bank.


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