The Peace Secretariat is extremely disappointed at the letter sent yesterday by Mr Nadesan, the Head of the Political Wing of the LTTE, to a number of international leaders, expressing its ‘readiness to co-operate with them on a ceasefire and peace talks leading to a permanent solution to the ethnic conflict.’
This seems to be the only response it can make to what was described at the press conference given by Sir John Holmes and Minister Mahinda Samarasinghe as the efforts of several intermediaries ‘working behind the scenes with all participants to the conflict in an effort to get the civilians out of the conflict zone’.
These civilians are the principal concern of the Government at present, working together with its international partners, and it hopes very much that the LTTE can be persuaded to provide relief for these suffering civilians. But it is absurd of the LTTE to respond merely by formally requesting what it has tried to promote for so long through its surrogates, namely a ceasefire that will allow it to do again what it did throughout so many ceasefires in the past.
Mr. Nadesan has evidently forgotten the history of the LTTE. Indeed he has forgotten even his own history as a policeman in the Sri Lankan Police, for he declares that the Sri Lankan armed forces were made up ‘only of young men of Sinhala ethnicity.’ He may wish to exclude the police, but he should not forget that one of the first assassinations by the LTTE was of the Tamil Police Inspector Bastianpillai. He forgets that the first Army Commander was Tamil, and that even in the nineties there was a Tamil Chief of Staff, and that recently senior officers at the premier training institute of the army have been Tamil. However the threat of assassination by the LTTE makes it difficult for them to serve in the field, given that two prominent recent army victims of LTTE assassination were senior Tamil speaking Muslim officers.
Around the same time that Inspector Bastianpillai was slaughtered, over thirty years ago, the LTTE killed the Tamil Mayor of Jaffna, a performance it repeated in the nineties with two more Mayors, after which the Municipal Council could no longer function. Mr. Nadesan seems to have forgotten that, as well as the several Tamil political leaders killed by the LTTE during ceasefires or negotiations, they treated as conveniences to assassinate their enemies. These include Sri Sabaratnam of TELO during the Thimpu talks, the former Tamil leader of the opposition Appapillai Amirthalingam when the LTTE was talking to President Premadasa, and Tamil Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in 2005 during the most recent Ceasefire. Other prominent Tamil politicians killed by the Tigers include the Human Rights activists Sam Tambimuttu and the Harvard educated lawyer and constitutional expert, Neelan Tiruchelvam.
With this appalling history, what makes Mr. Nadesan think that anyone can place any credence in his latest pronouncements? He cannot believe the world leaders whom he addresses are fools, to think Tigers will change their stripes, so perhaps he believes that they are new and that no one will brief them about what the term Ceasefire actually means to the LTTE.
In order to make his case while pretending to recount the history of the LTTE and peace talks, Mr. Nadesan uses very strange locutions. Instead of saying direct that the LTTE walked out of talks on four occasions, he declares that ‘the Sri Lankan ruling party disrupted the peace talks and again created the conditions for war.’ What this means is that in 1990, and then again in 1994, and then in 2003 and then in 2006, the LTTE broke off discussions, on one occasion killing hundreds of policemen, Mr. Nadesan’s former colleagues, whom it had taken hostage.
It should also be noted that, on the third occasion, the Sri Lankan leader was Ranil Wickremesinghe who is generally thought to have been prepared to grant much of what the LTTE wanted. On that occasion, the main reason for the LTTE refusing to participate was a pique at not having been invited to a donor meeting in Washington. During this period the LTTE violated the Ceasefire Agreement nearly 4,000 times, according to the Scandinavian Monitoring Mission, and built up air strips which it refused to allow the Mission to inspect, and brought in aircraft and weapons, on one occasion blowing up a shipload of weapons when a Scandinavian Monitor found them hidden behind a bulkhead.
Forgetting all this, the deceitful militarism of the LTTE, and its continuing murder of all Tamils who oppose its will, including those who have tried to get away to the safety of government controlled territory, Mr. Nadesan keeps repeating the word genocide, while clinging on to the hostages the LTTE has driven before it in its retreat, perhaps planning from the start to sacrifice them to its own ambitions. Without shame or sadness it sent a suicide bomber to blow herself up amidst women and children seeking to cross over into safety, it exploded a grenade in a bus taking people to safety, it shot several others, including a nun who was trying to help those seeking refuge. While doing all this, it claims that the Sri Lankan government is genocidal, trotting out figures that are belied by its own propaganda outfits, since throughout the advance of the Sri Lankan forces during the last six months of 2008, allegations even in Tamilnet were of fewer than a hundred civilian deaths.
It was after this was pointed out that the Tiger propaganda outfits began to claim large numbers of deaths. This may not be entirely false, because on the day, January 26th, on which the largest number of victims was claimed, 300 of them, the UN finally decided that the firing had come from the LTTE. Though earlier they had been in doubt from which side the firing came, the exact words used at the end of the day by the UN Humanitarian Coordinator were ‘For info we believe that firing this morning most likely was from an LTTE position’.
Three hundred sacrificial victims of Mr. Nadesan’s demented leader, perhaps slaughtered by accident, perhaps deliberately, so Mr. Nadesan and his ilk could claim the forces who had been and are being so careful about their fellow citizens could be accused of genocide. This is not acceptable, and Mr. Nadesan must be told firmly that the game is up. The LTTE must let these civilians go, and also the poor conscripts who have had weapons thrust into their hands and been dragooned into the front lines. Mr. Nadesan and his leader, who lurk at the back, may fight on to the end, or surrender into judicial custody, but they cannot be allowed to sacrifice any more of our fellow citizens, their victims, to their continuing lunatic chicanery.
Prof. Rajiva Wijesinha
Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process