The Rajpal Abeynayake Column                     By Rajpal Abeynayake  

Internationally monitored election for North East Interim Council?
A chapter on "renewal and rage'' in the book Failure and Success in America talks about individual reactions to injustice in the following way: "Erik Erickson says that animals and women know how to survive without the need to slay, but the male is forced to choose between the virtue and vulnerability of the non-killer, or the guilt and power of the murderer. In the latter case we are exposed to one man's outrageous desire to be at once, plaintiff judge and executioner.''

Close on the heels of reading the Prabhakaran profile, that sentence struck a chord. Prabhakaran's book has a chapter, which contains one curious episode, that of a conducted tour for the LTTE leader and comrades courtesy the New Delhi establishment.

Prabhakaran is taken to Raj Ghat, where Gandhi's ashes are interred, and where there is a touching memorial erected for the Mahathma. Prabhakaran stands before the memorial, and then he jabs his comrade on the arm with a finger. He says with a wink in his eye and a tone suffused with sarcasm: "the Indians want us to protest peacefully and practise ahimsa - they want us to practise non-violence.''

This is not to make a value judgement about Prabhakaran's almost cheeky repudiation of non-violence during that conducted tour of Raj Ghat. But the episode gets one thinking.

At a time when we are being told that we are at the threshold of an Interim administration for the North and the East, there is reason to see the conflict in broader even philosophical terms. Many a time we have been told that this is one man's revenge, and that as said in that opening quote in this column "we are exposed to one man's outrageous desire to be at once, plaintiff judge and executioner." Hence Prabhakaran's dismissive kick in the rear to all that's represented by non-violence, in that placid environment of the Raj Ghat.

But, if it is Prabhakran's propensity for violence that we have at one end of the spectrum (very often described by commentators as fascism) at the other we have the mindless disorganisation and insensitivity of the Sri Lankan state.

So, if these are the countervailing forces, Prabhakaran's "fascism for a cause'', and the Sri Lankan state's collective stupidity in not meeting its obligations to the Tamil minority, can't we reduce the equation of this conflict to its rudiments?

No doubt it may sound abstruse and metaphysical, but if it's a game of chess, it's the forces of Prabhakran's righteous fascism that are arraigned against the forces of the Sri Lankan government's anarchic stupidity.

The less stupidity there is on the Sri Lankan state's side, it figures in terms of the laws of a game of skill such as chess, that there will be a reduction of fascism on the other side. The more fascistic the tendency on the other side, however, the less stupid this side gets in terms of meeting its obligations to the Tamil people. (ie: the more terror on the part of the LTTE, the more sensible the Lankan government often has become.)

But if it is a power game that can be reduced to these rudiments, where do we stand at this point of time? It is a constant refrain that we hear that Prabhakaran is making all the moves. The Southern Sinhala polity is only being reactive, and making counter moves to escape all of Prabhakaran's pro-active lightning chess.

But Prabhakran's righteous fascism can never be condoned. Its fascistic element has to be blunted, even though its righteous connotation can remain. Likewise, the Sri Lankan state's democratic indifference can never be endorsed. Its core anti-fascist democratic character can be highlighted, but its inability to address its obligations, such as obligations to the Tamil minority, needs to be dealt with. These days, there is an Interim administration in the offing. It is a kind of a peace stalemate. It comes on the heels of a hostile stalemate, in which the two sides were locked in fierce combat. (Hostilities.)

Prabhakaran has made the first move, as he is being often accused of doing. As if making the first move is not his prerogative, particularly when the other side is only used to being reactive.

He will ask for an Interim administration that will be LTTE dominant, but will have a few Muslims and other non-LTTE elements in it. This "interim'' technically at least is not going to be time-ended, which makes the description "Interim administration'' quite illogical. It is an "interim'' towards something that is said to be still in the construction stage - - an "interim'' towards something intangible. In fact such an interim is no interim at all, but that doesn't matter, as long as it solves the problem, or so we are being told.

But such an interim does nothing to blunt the dominant (fascistic) edge of Prabhakran's righteous fascism. In other words, in the game of chess, the Sri Lankan state is losing some of its democratic character, and giving Prabhakran more room to strengthen the fascistic side of his campaign, as opposed to its righteous side. That's very reactive on the part of the Sri Lankan state. It might create a state of a peaceful stalemate, which of course will be preferred to a hostile stalemate as there was earlier, for the simple reason that there will be no war.

But the problem with a peaceful stalemate is that it can collapse with the result that the old hostile stalemate might reappear. In other words, an interim council that strengthens and legitimises Prabhakaran's fascistic edge while diluting the positive democratic character of the Sri Lankan polity will lead to a stalemate - - not a resolution (or "an agreed draw'') in this protracted game of conflict chess.

An agreed draw will of course be a negotiated permanent settlement. But, before such an agreed draw, there needs to be an attrition of the stalemate. That can be done if the stalemate itself appears more like a real stalemate than a further polarisation of positions between each side. (ie: the LTTE becoming more fascist, the Sri Lankan government possibly becoming more indifferent.)

There are better alternatives to an appointed interim administration. For example, the Sri Lankan government can work for an election for the proposed North East Interim council. Such an election of course can only be held if there is a peaceful atmosphere on the ground, and if the election is not determined by force of arms.

This can be done, if there is an armed international force that monitors that election. That takes the onus off the Sri Lankan armed forces, which can be confined to barracks. Let an international force monitor the elections for an Interim administration in the North and the East. It will make the LTTE obtain its legitimacy that it has been fairly aching for this past few months.

And it will make the Sri Lankan government look more democratic, and not make it open to accusations of caving into righteous fascistic hegemony. Why is it that the Sri Lankan government cannot become intelligently pro-active, and propose such an election for the North East Interim council, monitored by an armed international peacekeeping force brought in strictly and only for the purpose of keeping the peace at such a poll?

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