Sri Lanka: Human Tragedy Ahead


Sri Lanka is slowly but surely moving towards a human tragedy of immense proportions with the confrontation between the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and the LTTE assuming connotations of an undeclared war. 4000 deaths in 2006 and thousands of refugees and displaced personnel have failed to invite the attention of the World community towards this unfolding tragedy.

The Sri Lankan government's hardening stand on confrontation with the LTTE could be the result of increased suicide attacks on government officials close to the hierarchy. Targeting, Fonseca the Chief of the Army was intended to drive the army towards a confrontational course during the beginning of the campaigning season in 2006, while in December, the brother of the President Rajpakse, Gotabaye, Secretary of defence was attacked but fortunately escaped unhurt. The statements from the President and his brother in the wake of this incident indicated the resolve of the government to, "to defeat all efforts of the LTTE to achieve its bloodthirsty aims by grossly misleading the international community" and 'unshaken in his resolve to achieve peace in Sri Lanka and is undeterred in his efforts to combat all forms of terrorism and violence."

The Sri Lankan government also re-imposed the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) which had been held in abeyance since the cease fire in 2002. This is seen by the truce monitors as an act in violation of the truce and the LTTE were quick to point out that this will induce a cycle of violence which may turn the conflict more bloody.

The defection of the Karuna faction which goes under the name of Thamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP) led by Vinayagamoorthy Muralitharan a key aide of Prabhakaran had a telling impact on the LTTE's influence in the East where it has lost considerable ground during the year. Two rounds of talks were held during the year 2006 on 22 and 23 February and 28 and 29 October. These appeared to be an effort by both sides to appease the Sri Lankan Aid groups and avert international pressure thus ending without any substantial gains.

A review would reveal that there was lack of seriousness on the part the LTTE as well as the Sri Lanka Government to engage in a dialogue. Thus in February, the LTTE proposed that the Karuna faction should be disarmed before proceeding with negotiations well knowing that the Sri Lankan Government could not possibly agree to such a proposal. In October the LTTE insisted that the A9 Highway should be reopened. Opening of the A 9 Highway could have been considered favorably, but the hard line stance adopted by the Sri Lankan government which considered the humanitarian crisis in Jaffna as a creation of the LTTE prevented a break through in October.

The LTTE had the ignominy of a ban by the European Union which for long had turned a blind eye towards many of its terrorist activities due to pressure of the sizeable Tamil lobby in Europe. Politically too the LTTE suffered a major setback with the decision of the Sri Lankan Supreme Court on 16 October that the merger of the northern and eastern provinces effected in 1987 was not legally valid. This considerably weakened its case for a separate homeland for the Tamils in the North and the East of the island.

Building a Southern consensus is perhaps the first step towards evolving a lasting political solution. The problem is not just selling the southern consensus to the LTTE but also to the Sri Lankan chauvinists, the right wing JHU and the left wing JVP. The draft proposal for devolution of powers which has been drawn up by an All Party Conference is likely to be discussed during January and through this process a common Sri Lankan view may emerge which would be put across to the LTTE. However Sri Lankan chauvinists particularly the Buddhist clergy, the JHU and the JVP, the main leftist group are increasingly belligerent. The LTTE has also dismissed the proposals of the All Party Conference. However this could form the backdrop for further negotiations which may eventually reduce the resistance of the LTTE as well as the Sri Lankan opposition.

The death of Anton Balasingham, LTTE ideologue who is said to have been Prabhakaran's alter ego is considered to be a set back for the moderate voices in the organization. Mr. Anton was considered to be the only person who could stand up to Prabhakaran. The statement by Mr. Prabhakaran in his memory indicated intensification of the struggle in the future as he grieved his loss, '(at a time he was) needed _ most, as our freedom struggle intensifies'. Many analysts thus see the death of Balasingham as probably a blow to chances of peaceful resolution of the conflict in the Island.  


More by :  Col. Rahul K. Bhonsle

Top | Opinion

Views: 3323      Comments: 0

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.