Sri Lankan Tragedy – India's Role - Savior? by V. S. Subramaniam SignUp

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Sri Lankan Tragedy – India's Role - Savior?
by V. S. Subramaniam Bookmark and Share

The genocide of the Tamils is the core issue that afflicts Sri Lanka not an imposter, the so-called 'terrorism'; identifying which is crucial to finding a solution to the tragedy.

The devastation wrecked during phase 1 of the genocide

When the British left Sri Lanka, the Tamils were a prosperous and sizeable minority especially politically and economically. The 5 decades long genocide impoverished the Tamils and decimated them numerically (through killings and or driven out and living overseas) by over 50 percent. The state used mobs and the armed forces to instigate violence at regular intervals and shipping the displaced Tamils to the North and East, the traditional Tamil homelands. Substantial numbers also found refuge in India. Benign neglect (!) ensured that the Tamil homelands starved of funds remained un-developed, with badly run down infra-structure and basic services necessary for living.    

Indira doctrine interrupts the genocide creating safe havens for Tamils

PM Indira Gandhi of India moved by this tragedy, interrupted the genocide by nurturing a viable Tamil resistance (now maliciously called 'terrorists') that created safe havens accommodating over half a million Tamils in the Vanni and East. These areas under the leadership of an incorruptible resistance enjoyed respectable economic development (poverty alleviation and improved infra-structure and basic services) to the envy of chauvinistic elements governing the rest of Sri Lanka. The resistance ensured that the safe havens remained intact, impenetrable and insulated from the destruction usually inflicted by the state in Tamil areas in the North and East.

The hawkish regime resumes ethnic cleansing of Tamils

A hawkish regime that came to power in 2005 on a platform to seek a military solution, targets the safe heavens for ethnic cleansing. For this, it acquired from China and Pakistan offensive weapons that inflict death and destruction through constant artillery barraging and lethal aerial strikes. Indian intelligence analysts (B Raman) recommend that India also supplies the offensive weapons for strategic purpose of discouraging purchases from the Pakistan/China axis. Despite the recent offensives, the strength of the resistance has thus far kept the safe havens impenetrable. This forestalled a repeat of displaced people from these areas seeking refuge elsewhere including India; the numbers so far though reaching 70 000 are insignificant compared to the 1980-1990 exoduses.

The half a million Tamils in government controlled areas unfortunately continue to bear the brunt of the brutal oppression (arbitrary arrests, killings, kidnappings, state sponsored extortion ) of ethnic cleansing to create an exodus of desperate Tamils fleeing and seeking refuge overseas. With the appetite of overseas countries that accepted refugees in the past satiated the international community would prefer to act fast to forestall the creation of oppressive genocidal conditions of Darfur proportions for the potential hemmed in one million displaced Tamils.

Potential Darfur scale genocide
International community's (India's) response?

The new hawkish regime is seriously engaged in preparations to resume the interrupted genocide agenda via ethnic cleansing. Despite its deceptive protestations, the words actions of the Sri Lankan regime point to the regime using the 5 year ceasefire to acquire the necessary lethal offensive arsenals to re-start the civil war whose sole objective is to dismantle the Tamil safe havens. The cost of regaining the safe havens especially the Vanni in lives lost destruction of assets and displacement of people will be on a scale never before experienced in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan regime is embarking on this adventure emboldened by the absence of any international sanctions (unlike in the case of Yugoslavia or Sudan) when its successfully executed effortlessly the first phase of genocide driving out over a million Tamils now living overseas.

The Indira doctrine interrupts the first phase of ethnic cleansing

India by applying the Indira doctrine interrupted the first phase of the ethnic cleansing. For the international community especially India besides playing a humanitarian role and averting human sufferings of a Darfur scale genocide, pre-empting the need to carry the burden of caring for a fresh waves of displaced persons/refugees assumes urgency could only be avoided only by a fall back on the proven Indira doctrine. The Indira doctrine tamed the arrogance that the Sri Lankan regimes displayed in persisting with ethnic cleansing despite India's counsel in the past. The re-application of the Indira doctrine should be sufficient to discourage the Sri Lankan regime from embarking on the planned Vanni military adventure.

Controlling the flow to BOTH the combatants

The awesome fire power that Sri Lanka uses to fight a localized civil war explains the temptation for the Tamil resistance that could only afford mines and small arms to use suicide bombing. The scale of casualties in a civil war with one side using suicide bombing compared to the other side using the most lethal aerial bombing is so disproportionate that the Sri Lankan regime's loud whimpers about the civilian causalities from suicide bombing becomes farcical. Sri Lankan regimes annoyed over the continued support for the resistance continue with the 'serves them right' attitude towards the Tamil civilian causalities from aerial bombing. The Tamils fully appreciate such a brutalized mindset from regimes that nurtured entrenched genocidal tendencies for decades. The international community (especially the NGOs) expresses its deep anguish over the level of sufferings of the victims in sterner reports on human rights abuses. Civil conflicts where the weak combatant resorts to guerilla warfare are never short; and not won or lost in days, weeks, months, or years; the pain of which could continue indefinitely destabilizing the peace and security of the region and the world.

Sanctions for human rights violations and/or the more serious genocide crimes

The Sri Lankan regimes brush aside the UN censures of a horrified international community, when the threats of imminent sanctions do not back the censures. The 5 decades long Sri Lankan genocide, a far more serious crime passed by without evoking an appropriate form of punishment for the genocidal crimes. The leaders responsible for genocide in Yugoslavia faced international tribunals. Appropriate signals that sanction are bound to follow if Sri Lankan regimes show recalcitrance will be most unnerving to the regimes. More effective will be for the international community to signal its intentions to treat serious human rights abuses as genocidal crimes.

Genocidal regimes take cover under a fight against terrorism umbrella

There is a problem here for the international community in dealing with a recalcitrant Sri Lankan regime especially when the adversary (the resistance) is listed a terrorist group.

This allowed the Sri Lankan regimes to engage in state terrorism and deceptively avoid accounting for its genocidal crimes by taking cover under the fight against terrorism umbrella. The term 'Terrorism' though used generically to describe violence has no agreed definition of violence. In practice, it covers acts intended to create 'terror" and targets "non-combatants". Being an unconventional form of warfare, the term is most abused to carry strong negative connotations as political labels to unfairly condemn a combatant resisting genocide in an on-going civil war as terrorists. In the Sri Lankan case the resistance, fighting genocide is disadvantaged when even the legitimate use of violence is disallowed; thus, condemning all resistance (LTTE/PKK) as terrorists. Even the oft quoted UN Security Council Resolution 1373 left disagreements on definition of terrorism unresolved; but some countries/states acting singly or in groups decided on what constitutes acts of terror (Madrid Conference and the European Parliament) though these decisions lack consistency in practice and do not carry the authority of UN resolutions. Hence, the abuse and ambiguity in the listing process of groups, terrorists; the practice varying from country to country and organization to organization. The US in applying resolution 1373 to LTTE is harsher than meted out to the PKK of Turkey (US funds PKK through well known proxies in Iraq) though both were in the US list from the beginning advocating similar causes and using almost similar civil war tactics.

Who then are the terrorists in Sri Lanka? Suspect intelligence

Hence the need to examine the circumstances for listing the Tamil resistance (LTTE included) terrorists. B Raman who enjoys a reputation in the corridors of power in India provides the reasons (in the recent 'Facing Realities' in Outlookindia of 4 Jun 2007). The Tamil resistance (also LTTE) is a non-jihjardi secular movement like the ANC/Mufti Bahani/Fretelin. According to Raman it committed acts of terrorism in Indian soil including Rajiv's assassination in 1991, 'had contacts in the past' with HUM (a founding member of bin Laden's IIF which committed jihardi terrorism in Indian territory) for arms with Pakistan's ISI involvement in 1993; had and continues to have contacts with Hezbollah and runs arms smuggling and funds procurement with the help of the Tamil diaspora. Except for the doubts surrounding Rajiv's assassination, the nature of mis-information contained in these so-called acts of terrorism statement calls for close scrutiny. That those strong jihardi organizations like the HUM and Hezbollah would contemplate links with non-jihardi organizations like the LTTE who allegedly ethnic cleansed the Muslims in Tamil safe havens, appears far fetched. The discerning reading public is urged to discount the value of these claims. The value of acts of terrorism listed that allegedly occurred so long ago (17 years ago) needs to be discounted further. Western governments review terrorist acts/behavior of each listed organization every two years. Further, the authenticity of source determines the quality of the intelligence quoted for policy making. This is especially applicable to claims relating to Hezbollah/LTTE links. Collin Powell and Tony Blair were most embarrassed when they presented the findings on the Iraqi WMD sourced from the world's most reputed intelligence agencies.

Like purchasing offensive weapons cheap from China, Sri Lankan regimes commission cheap intelligence and use cheque book journalists to parley the mis-information on the Tamil resistance. To Sri Lankan regimes, lying is a way of life. Two stories originating from the Sri Lankan intelligence ('The LTTE Australian subversion' by Ajit Kumar Singh, an Indian intelligence analyst and 'LTTE theft of 130000 Norwegian passports and sale to Al Qaeda') on analysis turned out to be bigger intelligence hoaxes than the Iraqi WMD dossiers, proving how flawed the intelligence was and how blatant was the mis-information originating from Sri Lanka.

Rajiv's assassination plot re-examined

The pro-Sinhala lobbyists (Lobbying for another country is a thriving industry world-wide) in India are mostly driven by caste consideration on issues (political, intelligence and the media) in Tamil Nadu, who exploited the misguided assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by Tamil victims (seeking misplaced vengeance) of misdemeanors of sections of the Indian armed forces to the fullest by repeatedly painting the Tamil resistance and its leadership as assassins of Rajiv. This ignores the feelings of remorse amongst the mainstream Tamils over the loss of Rajiv. Except the lobbyists in the Indian intelligence and sections of the media in India, there are enough skeptics on this point including Rahul, Rajiv's son? The motivation to harm Indian leaders is ingrained in the Sinhala polity; amongst the Tamils only strong bonds that comprise a complex bundle of goodwill elements that goes to the hearts and minds of the peoples on both sides of the Palk Straits underpins the absence of any motivation to harm any Indian leader. Hence the Rajiv's assassination was the thoughtless and rash act of a handful of Tamil assassins that the involvement of the leadership is most unlikely. The apologists for Sri Lankan regimes are unlikely to get anywhere close to this view. However, in view of the above there are row sufficient doubts on Raman's main plank; linking the leadership of the Tamil resistance to Rajiv's assassination. However, Rohan Gunaratna a renowned and well informed Sri Lankan intelligence analyst adds his doubts to those of other skeptics.
More on the Rajiv (first) assassination attempt

The purist lobbyists buried for good the story of an almost successful assassination attempt on Rajiv in 1987 by a Sinhala naval rating honored (though late) by the Sri Lankan regime. Yet some analysts and media moguls obligated as proxies of a generous genocidal regime are striving their utmost to deliver on their commitment to demonize the Tamil resistance (and its leadership) fighting a brutal genocide. According to Rohan Gunaratna, the attempted assassination of Rajiv in 1987 was a deeper plot to kill Rajiv ('but for some unknown reason, the other two men refrained from going into action during the assault-if they did, Gandhi could have suffered serious injuries, and could have died. The sinister plan has hitherto been kept a secret' Rohan Gunaratna; Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka ' the Role of India's Intelligence Agencies, South Asian Network on Conflict Research, Colombo, 1993, p.193].

Vijithamuni Rohana de Silva, the naval rating comes from the deep South the hotbed of Sinhala chauvinism. The present hawkish leadership is also from there and the anti-Indian sentiments nurtured for decades by the regimes explain the conspiracy to assassinate Rajiv that Rohan Gunaratna is striving to expose.
Mis-information based on dicey intelligence

The Rajiv assassination issue though not that hotly contested, leaves enough skeptics to re-visit the involvement of the Tamil resistance (LTTE included) in Rajiv's assassination thesis. The chances of a wide conspiracy to assassinate Rajiv amongst the Tamils are low when the Tamils in thoughts and actions as a community only had love, goodwill, and admiration towards their Indian compatriots. On the other hand, the Sinhala community historically carried an overload of resentment or malice against India and its leaders. The Tamils are hopeful once the imposter analysts and media are exposed at least future generations will take a more balanced view of the involvement of the Tamil resistance in the assassination. How serious are these acts of terrorism (most are old and/or re-cycled) in Raman's lists depends on the quality of the intelligence that were relied upon.

Sri Lankan Tamils' gratitude to India specifically for the Nehru family

Sri Lankan Tamils have deep emotional gratitude for India and the Nehru family in particular for their contribution to the Tamil cause in Sri Lanka. In fact, Shree Rahul Gandhi referred to this very recently. Had Indira survived her assassination, the Tamils would have been spared of the 50+ years of Sri Lankan genocidal oppression and their dispersal around the world. Caste interests in Tamil Nadu worked overtime to erase centuries' old historical ties, kinship, shared language, religion, culture, people to people contact, and natural emotional attachments between the brethren across the narrow Palk Straits. These fuelled Sri Lankan regimes' bitterness/suspicions about Tamil loyalties.

Sri Lankan hostility towards India

This runs deep and has a long history. Despite all the platitudes exchanged, the regimes resurrected the historical memories of past Indian invasions to nurture the deep popular resentment towards India whom they viewed (and this view still persists as reflected in the acrimony over the purchase of offensive weapons from the Pakistan/China axis) as the menacing Big Brother next door. Sri Lanka displayed its resentment openly at different levels. The mainstream Indians may not wish to readily forget the shabby treatment of Indian leaders in international forums. Minister Jayewardene snubbed Sri Nehru (PM) at the Japan Peace Treaty signing ceremony in San Francisco in 1954. PM Kotalawela's public snubbing of Sri Nehru at the Non-Aligned Conference in Banding, Indonesia in 1953 was ruder still. At every turn, Sri Lanka aligned with the US/Pakistan axis then to sabotage India's leadership of the non-aligned movement. The minutes of these conferences are useful reading for intelligence analysts, journalists, and media moguls for delivering balanced and informed lessons on modern Indian history to the Indian reading public at large.

The bogey of Tamil Nadu ' export of 'made in Sri Lanka' divisiveness to India

Colombo's mala-fides are most evident in their keenness to export its 'made in Sri Lanka' divisiveness into the Indian body politic. This surfaces constantly when Sri Lanka reminds India to set aside Tamil Nadu sensitivities in dealing with the Sri Lankan issue. Sri Lanka commissions lobbyists and analysts in India to push hard this divisive theme from within India. Raman does this with a gusto (or commitment) when he states 'We should be attentive to the views of Tamil Nadu without letting them come in the way of our national strategic interests'. The use of the word 'them' in referring to Tamil Nadu is most unfortunate; if Tamil Nadu is 'them' then who are the 'we'. Tamil Nadu's commitment to India's 'national strategic interest' ('when they come in the way of our national strategic interests') is total and above the 'them' and 'we' notions of the lobbying analysts. In fact, such analysts do not best serve Indian national interests at all times especially in policy making and misleading the public with biased intelligence analysis and news reporting. The sensitivities of the Bengalese populations for the Bengali Mugti Bahani resistance in the 1970's had unreserved (there was no 'them' and 'we' then) and India wide support that India intervened militarily despite facing far more serious security (US/Pakistan/Sri Lanka acting in concert) concerns than Raman's present (Sri Lanka/Pakistan/China axis) shallow security concerns.

Sri Lanka/Pakistan axis and the Indira doctrine

Raman conveniently forgets how Sri Lanka acted (when a so-called friendly regime was in power in Colombo) during the Bangladesh war. Colombo allowed Pakistan to use Colombo to transport troops to Bangladesh to fight the Indian troops already in Bangladesh supporting the Mukti Bahani. Historically Pakistan and Sri Lanka both share a common view on India that no amount of placating Sri Lanka is going to change that. However, Raman for strange reasons trusts Sri Lankan regimes more than it does Indian Tamil Nadu. The average Indian is wiser to judge whether or not to trust the Indira doctrine to work in the present circumstances to avert a Tamil Darfur tragedy.     

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