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1. Sri Lankan crisis: how India can help find a way out - A.S. Kalkat - The Hindu
2.‘Facilities much better than those provided for refugees in India’ - Sri Sri Ravishankar - The Hindu
3.Life without Tigers in Lanka - B Raman - The Daily Pioneer
Sri Lankan crisis: how India can help find a way out
It may be the endgame for the LTTE and Prabakaran but is certainly not the endgame for the Tamils of Sri Lanka. India stands committed to their welfare and legitimate rights and the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 can be the basic document to forge ahead politically.
IN THE NO FIRE ZONE AREA TWO DECADES AGO: Lt. Gen. A.S. Kalkat, IPKF Chief, visits the area where the current endgame is being played out during an operation in late-1988.
Twenty years ago Sri Lanka’s President Ranatunge Premadasa announced that his government and LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran had come together and demanded that the Indian Peace Keeping Force leave. A hundred thousand casualties and a shattered economy later, this week President Mahinda Rajapaksha issued an ultimatum to the LTTE to surrender or perish. Despite many voices in India and elsewhere sounding the alarm for over two years that a gigantic human tragedy was waiting to happen in Sri Lanka, it was allowed to happen notwithstanding the international community and human rights organisations being aware of it.
This article has long been under preparation, for nearly two years, but had to wait out the time to see how the endgame would play out. The final showdown is in an area of 8 sq km immediately north of Mullaitivu designated as a No Fire Zone (NFZ). LTTE cadres of unknown strength are ranged against Sri Lankan forces. The presence of the LTTE leader, Prabakaran, is not confirmed, and he may or may not be there. The LTTE is fighting for its existence and the Sri Lanka forces are fighting for the survival of their country’s sovereignty. Sandwiched between them are nearly 70,000 starving and long-suffering men, women, and children under inhuman conditions.
It may be the endgame for the LTTE and its supremo but it is certainly not the endgame for the Tamils of Sri Lanka. It will serve to remember that it was not Prabakaran who created the ethnic conflict but the ethnic conflict that spawned a Prabakaran. If the cause of the ethnic conflict is not addressed, the end of the LTTE and its leader will be just a short-term victory.
Why did the LTTE lose?
The first question one asks is: why did the LTTE lose? Ironically, Prabakaran and the LTTE have only themselves to blame for it. From their lofty claims in 1986 of protecting the Tamils against atrocities by the Sri Lankan forces, they descended into the predator preying on the same helpless Tamils. It soon became clear that Prabakaran’s goal was not the ballot box but the bullet box with the objective of carving out an autocratic Eelam of ‘AK 47’ dictatorship under him.
The LTTE alienated itself by its forcible recruitment of men, women, and children; usurping the humanitarian aid meant for the devastated population; extracting a ‘living tax’ from the poverty-stricken population; and brutal killings of Tamils who opposed its demand. The truth that LTTE is a ruthless killing machine was evident as early as 1986 when, on the pretext of calling an all-party meeting in Batticaloa of militant leaders, Prabakaran decimated them in a night of the long knives. The only one to escape was K. Padmanabha, the EPRLF leader, who was later gunned down in Chennai.
As long as the LTTE confined itself to guerrilla warfare and terrorism, it was able to bleed Sri Lankan forces and the country’s economy. Its successes in 2005 and 2006 went to its head, resulting in its losing the focus of a guerrilla force. Prabakaran thought that he had achieved Eelam in the North-Eastern Province and the LTTE usurped the trappings of a sovereign ‘state’ with Prabhakaran as ‘head’ of state. He established the state ‘capital’ at Killinochchi; created departments emulating government departments, imposing taxes, dispensing ‘justice’, and issuing ‘travel documents’; and pretended that his armed cadres were the regular army, navy, and air force. Then either due to arrogance or over-confidence, Prabakaran made the blunder of taking on a regular army and tried to fight like one, with disastrous consequences. The LTTE was fighting outside its core competence. This was the undoing of a guerrilla and terrorist organisation, which thought it had suddenly become a regular army.
The irony of all this is that the statutory arrangement to secure the welfare and interests of the Sri Lankan Tamils was served on a plate by India in 1987 and put into effect by December 1988. Prabakaran and the LTTE chose to reject it because he had a different agenda and the concept of democracy was certainly not part of it. The India-Sri Lanka Agreement of July 1987 and Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) operations had ensured the enactment of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution — a giant step in devolution of power to the Northern and Eastern Provinces, resulting in their merger as a single Tamil-majority North-Eastern Province, which had always been the Tamil dream for their ‘traditional homeland.’ Today obtaining even half that dispensation will be difficult: the Northern and Eastern Provinces have since been de-merged, the status and powers of provincial Chief Ministers have been severely constricted, and consequently provincial autonomy has already been compromised.
The question now is: what are India’s options and how should it proceed, keeping in mind that we can ‘stress,’ ‘insist,’ and ‘demand’ – but cannot enforce the solution. It is critical for both governments that they not lose their focus. India’s objective has always has been to ensure the welfare and legitimate rights of the Tamil minority within a united Sri Lanka and it stands committed to this goal. India has no commitment to any militant organisation or leader and the LTTE’s claim to represent all the Tamils of Sri Lanka is just a canard.
The reality is that military force alone cannot defeat the adversary. Simultaneous political, economic, and societal initiatives are necessary to end the conflict. For the Tamils, their political future remains a question mark depending on President Rajapaksa’s ability to fulfil their legitimate demands. Although he has indicated every intention to do so, his ability to deliver is limited due to opposition from hard-line Sinhala chauvinists, including those within his party, to enacting the necessary legislation. It is likely he will go in for a general election to get the necessary numbers of his supporters elected before taking the next major political step.
Sri Lanka’s concerns over its territorial integrity and sovereignty are well founded, as are India’s concerns over the security environment in its backyard and the sentiments of its own 60 million-plus Tamils. The leaders of both countries have displayed remarkable restraint and maturity in managing the situation. The time has now come to bell the cat. Unfortunately, there is not even a draft political proposal on the table to kick-start the dialogue. In this political vacuum, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1987 can serve as the basic document to begin the political dialogue and since it has been passed by parliaments of both countries and placed on the floor of the United Nations it cannot be labelled as unilateral or discriminatory.
India must now demand that: (i) the LTTE lay down arms and release the civilians in the No Fire Zone, (ii) the Sri Lankan government order a ceasefire and undertake a crash rehabilitation programme, (iii) the Sri Lankan government initiate a political dialogue with the Sri Lankan Tamil leaders for a practical and lasting dispensation to meet the legitimate Tamil demands. India must associate itself as an observer in the political dialogue but it must be kept in mind that only the government of a country can give dispensation to its citizens, not an outside power.
It could be a coincidence that whenever India has been confronted with a crisis situation in relation to Sri Lanka — as in 1989 when President Premadasa demanded recall of the IPKF or in 2008 when President Rajapaksa decided on full-fledged military operations against the LTTE — the timing has been surreal, coinciding with the run-up to general elections in India. However, it is no coincidence that our political parties have not hesitated to use it as a card in domestic electoral politics. Today with the grave threat of global terror confronting us, the dangers are very great and the stakes too high for anyone to play any kind of political cards.
(Lieutenant-General (retd.) A.S. Kalkat is Director Emeritus, Centre for Joint Warfare Studies, New Delhi. He is a former Army Commander and was the IPKF Chief. His email id is firstname.lastname@example.org )
Source: The Hindu - http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/27/stories/2009042755500900.htm
‘Facilities much better than those provided for refugees in India’
Sri Sri clarifies views on civilian camps in Sri Lanka
Chennai: A press release from the office of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar clarifies that following his visit to IDP welfare centres in Vavuniya in Sri Lanka’s Northern Province, “Sri Sri acknowledged that the facilities in the camps are much better” than “those the Indian Government has provided for the Kashmiri pundits and those provided for Sri Lankan Tamils in Tamil Nadu.” He was also of the view that “the relief materials sent by India to Sri Lanka are completely insufficient” and regretted that “Indian businessmen have not rushed to support the people there.”
According to the release, Sri Sri also asked: “How will the political drama and commotion happening in the State [Tamil Nadu] help the refugees in any case? Fasting or street demonstration or self-immolations will not help to bring solace to thousands of people in the camps. Instead of reaching out and helping the people who are in need, these incidents will only create fear and anger in society.”
The press release, dated April 26, 2009, reads as follows:
“His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had visited the Internally Displaced People (IDP) welfare centres in Vavuniya, Sri Lanka on April 21st, 2009.
“Following his visit, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has appealed to the Government of India and the civil society to give as much relief materials like food, medicines, clothes etc to Sri Lanka. Sri Sri also said that the relief materials sent by India to Sri Lanka are completely insufficient. He feels it is unfortunate that during this time of crisis the Indian businessmen have not rushed to support the people there. Spiritual leaders could have provided mental solace to the civilians in these camps.
“Sri Sri acknowledged that the facilities in the camps are much better compared to those that the Indian Government has provided for the Kashmiri pundits and those provided for Sri Lankan Tamils in Tamil Nadu. Sri Sri appreciated the selfless service of Col. Induneel de Silva and his dedicated team of army personnel in the Vavuniya Menik farm welfare centres. They had extended complete co-operation for Sri Sri and the Art of Living to distribute clothes and other relief materials in the camps.
“Sri Sri also met with H.E President Mahinda Rajapaksa and appealed to him that the refugees in the camps should not be kept longer and that they should be sent back to their own homes as soon as possible. H.E. President Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he is fully responsible for the security of these innocent civilians. After de-mining the entire area, the civilians can be re-settled in their home towns.
“Sri Sri is of the opinion that Tamil-speaking Indian officials (the Indian Ambassador to Sri Lanka or any other official) could have instilled more faith and hope in the refugees. When the tsunami occurred, everyone came forward to help. I would say that this is nothing less than a human tsunami. ‘Why hasn’t anyone come to help even at this moment of huge influx of people to the camps?’, Sri Sri asked.
“How will the political drama and commotion happening in the state help the refugees in any case? Fasting or street demonstration or self-immolations will not help to bring solace to thousands of people in the camps. Instead of reaching out and helping the people who are in need, these incidents will only create fear and anger in society, Sri Sri said.”
Source - The Hindu - http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/27/stories/2009042759991100.htm
Life without Tigers in Lanka
What next after the defeat of the LTTE? Will the Sri Lankan Army and Sinhalese extremist elements allow Mahinda Rajapaksa to keep his promise of greater political and economic rights for the Tamils? Or will he, egged on by his Army, try to impose a dictated peace on the Tamils?
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam is in its death rattle. It was decisively defeated by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces weeks ago, but a handful of its leadership headed by Pirabhakaran has cynically and cruelly prolonged the agony of the Tamil civilians by using them as a buffer and human-shield in order to delay the re-establishment of the writ of the Sri Lankan Government in a miniscule piece of territory (about 20 sq.kms), which has been declared by the Government as a no-fire zone to avoid collateral casualties among the civilians still under the control of the LTTE and to enable them to escape from the clutches of the LTTE.
Pirabhakaran is a leader with a split personality. During the last 26 years he has dominated the Tamil landscape in Sri Lanka, he had shown a remarkable organising capacity and an ability to motivate his followers to perform virtual miracles. He motivated his cadres to acquire a capability for action by air and sea would go down in the history of insurgency and terrorism as indicating an organising capability of a high order. The LTTE under his leadership managed to bring almost the entire Tamil-inhabited territory in the Northern and Eastern Provinces under its control. The determined manner in which the LTTE fought against the Indian-Peace Keeping Force in the late 1980s and frustrated its efforts to defeat it spoke highly of its capabilities for a conventional warfare.
If Pirabhakaran had the activities of the LTTE confined to conventional warfare and developed the LTTE as a purely insurgent force, which targeted only the armed forces and not innocent civilians, he would have acquired greater support from the international community for the Tamil cause. The rational side of his personality as illustrated by his organising capabilities had to constantly contend with a highly irrational side, which drove him to simultaneously take to terrorism of a shockingly brutal kind.
The targeted killings by the LTTE of many Sri Lankan Tamil leaders, who were perceived by Pirabhakaran as possible impediments to his rise as the unquestioned leader of the Tamil community, and its brutal assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991 were the outcome of the irrational side of his personality. No other Indian leader had done more to help the Sri Lankan Tamil cause than Mrs Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. Only a sickly and sickening irrational mind could have ordered the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and Laxman Kadirgamar, a highly-respected Tamil leader, who was a senior adviser on foreign policy to former President Chandrika Kumaratunge. The assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on Pirabhakaran’s orders shocked Indian public opinion — including public opinion in Tamil Nadu — and weakened Indian support for the Tamil cause. The assassination of Kadirgamar shocked the Western public opinion and led to the declaration of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation by the Western world, thereby denying the last vestiges of Western support for the Tamil cause.
As the LTTE faced one defeat after another during the last three years from the Sri Lankan Armed Forces — initially in the Eastern Province and finally in the Northern Province — the irrational side of Pirabhakaran’s personality erased his rational side. His shocking use of the Tamil civilians in order to delay the final end of the counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism campaign undertaken by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces is driven by this irrational streak in him, which now dominates his personality.
The prolonged agony of the Sri Lankan Tamils caused by the final bout of Pirabhakaran’s irrationality and loss of lucidity in thinking has to be ended. The Sri Lankan Armed Forces, which have shown patience till now and deliberately slowed down their operations, cannot be faulted if they have come to the conclusion that the time has come to liberate the no-fire zone too from the clutches of the LTTE by undertaking limited operations with small arms and ammunition even at the risk of some collateral casualties to the civilians.
After the final death of the LTTE, which is expected any day, what is the future of the Sri Lankan Tamil cause? Would a Requiem for the LTTE also mean a Requiem for the Sri Lankan Tamil cause? Hopefully not. It is in India’s interest that the LTTE as a terrorist organisation is destroyed once and for all, but it is not in India’s interest that the Sri Lankan Government and Armed Forces proceed from the destruction of the LTTE to the destruction of the Tamil aspirations for greater political and economic rights in their traditional homeland and for greater human dignity.
President Mahinda Rajapakse has repeatedly promised that once the LTTE is defeated, he would be generous in meeting the political aspirations of the Tamils. He gives the impression of being a sincere man, but will the Sinhalese Army with its head bloated by its success against the LTTE allow him to do so? The indicators till now are not encouraging. Many Sri Lankan officers might have been trained in India, but their mindset and their attitude towards the minorities have more in common with those of their Pakistani counterparts than with those of their Indian counterparts. Therein lies the danger that after winning the war against the LTTE, the Government, strongly influenced by a victorious army, might trey to impose a dictated peace on the Tamils.
If the angry Tamils once again look up to India, there is no reason why we should not reciprocate provided a new leadership emerges in the Tamil community and it has drawn the right lessons from the brutalities of the LTTE.
The LTTE is deservedly dying, but long live the Tamil cause.
-- The writer is a leading counter-terrorism analyst.
Source: The DailyPioneer - http://www.dailypioneer.com/172586/Life-without-Tigers-in-Lanka.html
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009
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