- a crucial juncture
independence day dawns, hope is invested in the talks to begin soon
in Berlin. Last week The Sunday Times published a story -- dated
(December 2002) but relevant nevertheless - of a speech by Karuna,
the LTTE Eastern military wing leader and participant at the ongoing
peace talks. Karuna articulated his vision for the LTTE and made
a resounding appeal to the Tamil Diaspora to send money to continue
arming and sustaining the military machine of the LTTE.
also carried a story about the Japanese granting Rs 35 million aid
to the LTTE, which they insisted was for projects in the North and
the East. It is also now famously known that the government of Sri
Lanka and the Norwegian government together gave the LTTE a duty
free radio station.
The World Bank
has meanwhile agreed to give of its largesse, and so have other
donor countries. The Chinese government, not to be left out of this
aid circus, has dangled the promise of future aid.
is therefore for the economic development of the North and the East,
Karuna says "we can achieve whatever we want in the battlefield.
We can do it now but we need to strengthen our military capabilities
we need to modernise our forces. There are a lot of commanders
in waiting,'' he said.
to the peace talks, he is confident that things are going the way
of the LTTE because the Sri Lankan delegation is 'running here and
there having to discuss everything with the Prime Minister every
ten minutes, not allowing him to grab any sleep.''
So who is worried
about what Karuna has to say? The Sri Lankan negotiators were unaware
of this speech when they met him for talks in Bangkok, and they
are not going to question him on this when they meet him in Berlin
in essence is saying very clearly that while the world community
will look after the economic aspects of the North and the East,
the Diaspora must look after the military strength, which even the
government has admitted has risen after the MoU, by conscription
are the talks headed? On the one hand, all the monies that are given
as aid needs to be re- paid by the people in the South too, even
though the money is for the development of the North and the East.
This entiles them to a voice at least if the government is not yet
heeding their concerns. The LTTE is simultaneously building up its
military strength, and to what end?
talks are also focussed on rehabilitation and possibly on human
rights issues. The Prime Minister in his briefing of the President
has made it amply clear that the so-called core issues have not
been approached, even though the government is studying several
federal models with a view to a final settlement.
But with the
guns being silenced, there is priority accorded to economic and
other related issues, while the core issues of a political settlement
are on hold, and the net result is that there is a gigantic shift
in political and military balance.
speaking the LTTE is growing in legitimacy, and using the new-found
leverage to drive home an image of a clean liberation group, backed
by the people and engaged in resolving people's problems. This message
will now be heavily parleyed in Europe. As we celebrate 55 years
of independece from the colonial yoke next Tuesday, we do so at
a very crucial juncture indeed.