Join the peace
process and see the world
suggest that Foreign Minister Tyronne Fernando has hopes of replacing
Kofi Annan as secretary-general of the United Nations. Those who
scoff at such vaulting ambition will no doubt draw strength from
Mark Antony's words on his slain friend Julius Caesar.
said Antony, "should be made of sterner stuff".
the London School of Economics on Sri Lanka's peace process as Minister
Fernando is scheduled to do on February 5, might boost his ego as
many prominent persons from around the world have addressed this
prestigious institution. But whether it will enhance Minister Fernando's
chances of landing the top job must remain a matter of speculation.
several previous lectures at the LSE by well- known politicians
and academics, one must admit that it hardly affords the occasion
to question speakers closely.
If one is lucky
one might squeeze in one question. But to follow a line of questioning
is virtually impossible and so the format is generally to the advantage
of the speaker. And since Foreign Minister Fernando seems to avoid
meeting Sri Lankan journalists in London, except to convey his thoughts
to some innocuous weekly produced for the Sri Lankan community here,
he seems well protected against any bouncers and beamers that might
be directed at him by persons far better informed than he suspects.
how many of those who will attend the LSE lecture would have read,
for instance, the latest report of the University Teachers for Human
Rights (Jaffna) Sri Lanka.
Bulletin 31 of the UTHR(J) which consists largely of persons of
Tamil origin and from a university in Jaffna, the cultural heartland
of the Tamil people, is a severe indictment of the LTTE which purports
to be the sole representative of the Tamil people, and exposes the
cant, calumny and casuistry that surrounds the peace process.
It is not only
the LTTE and its blatant lies that are exposed to the world. The
Sri Lanka government's nonchalance at the continued killing and
harassment of the LTTE's political opponents, its abduction of people
especially children and conscription of youth in their early teens
and even younger are catalogued with care and an accuracy that is
as much an indictment of the government and officialdom as it is
of the Tamil Tiger leadership.
But they are
not the only culprits in this sorry saga of the Tamil people and
the eastern province Muslims. The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM)
set up to ensure the implementation of the ceasefire agreement and
the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has not been spared either.
It is not surprising
that the SLMM, consisting principally of persons from the Nordic
countries since Norway is playing the central role of facilitator/mediator,
should try desperately to smoothen ruffles and portray developments
in a far better light than they actually are.
It is in the
interest of Norway- some of whose NGOs were suspected in the very
early days of Tamil militancy in the north of helping that cause-
to show the world that the peace process which it has midwifed,
is proceeding with speed and purpose and that the hiccups exposed
by the media are inevitable in such an exercise.
portrayed to the world as the silent and competent peacemaker because
of the Oslo accord between the Israelis and the Palestinians, does
not want the world community to see the Sri Lankan talks also go
down the tube.
be produced at a dime a dozen. Their ultimate success rests on whether
such accords and the commitments accompanying them are kept, not
thrown to the four winds when one or more party feels it time to
So Norway wants
a success. So does the Sri Lanka government that has put all its
eggs, so to say, into one basket hoping that success on this front
will cure all the country's ills-and there are many indeed.
The LTTE wants
a respite from war so that it may use the time to marshal all its
forces while plucking from the hand of the government every bit
of power and resources to strengthen its de facto state until such
time that it can confidently present a case for independence.
Only such a
scenario can account for the continuing accumulation of power within
the LTTE-held areas by eliminating political opponents or dissent,
on the one hand, and by forcible recruitment to its cadres and the
accretion of its arsenals.
the government makes is in accepting without demur the LTTE's claim
to be the sole authentic voice of the Tamil people. If it appears
to be so it is only because the Tiger leadership has from its inception
eliminated physically or wiped out by intimidation, thuggery and
coercion any dissenting voice.
This is what
UTHR (J) says in its latest release titled 'Gathering storm in the
East' dated January 13, just two weeks back.
13 concentrates on the LTTE's suppression of dissent among ordinary
people and rival political groups, its child conscription programme
in the East and the growing Tamil-Muslim tensions in the East".
why is the LTTE able to abduct, torture and murder members of opposition
groups with the apparent complicity of the State police forces who
are not investigating these crimes.
The LTTE continues
to refuse to accept any political or civil identity independent
of them. Civil society by its refusal to speak out about human rights
violations and the present situation in the North and East is made
an accomplice in the LTTE's programme of terror. The UTHR (J) once
again tries to highlight how a totalitarian political ethos is being
consolidated with callous disregard for human life and human rights".
And whose human life and human rights do the LTTE disregard?. Those
of the people of the North and East, predominantly Tamil and Muslim
people who are scared of the LTTEs tyrannical overlordship.
One wonders whether Minister Fernando in his LSE speech will find
any significance in the fact that two days later the peace process,
like a travelling circus, would have moved to Berlin.It is LTTE's
chief spokesman Anton Balasingham-who a Reuter reporter mistakenly
called an academic-who wanted the venue changed to Europe. Whether
he specifically asked for Berlin is not known. But then the Norwegians
decided to have it in Berlin anyway.
in Berlin, deliberately or fortuitously, has more meaning than most
would suspect. In Berlin, Balasingham will find its cultural and
political roots. If the LTTE has a historical equivalent it is Hitler's
fascist ideology that bred a condescending disregard for political
opponents and their elimination but also the more horrible philosophy
and practice of ethnic cleansing. Jaffna is the cultural heartland
of the Tamil people. But Hitler's Berlin is the true home of the
LTTE. One hopes that Balasingham, emotionally overcome by the return
to his spiritual fatherland will not be tempted to set fire to the
Reichstag as he instructs his German cadres on the need for lebensraum.
But there is
some solace for the rest of Sri Lanka. When Minister Tyronne Fernando
turns up in London ahead of the Berlin talks, he will not be armed
with a Munich Agreement like Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.
But he is bound
to promise peace in our time, as Chamberlain did with dangerous
consequences for the rest of the world.