|Straitjacketing Mr Puleedevan|
|Thursday, 05 June 2008|
The Peace Secretariat is deeply worried about the story, current in several media outlets including in India, that the Head of the LTTE Peace Secretariat has been placed under arrest by the LTTE hierarchy. Though I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I have been assured by my colleagues that Mr Puleedevan was always willing to engage. I was also told by the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission that he laughed a lot, and I have always felt that a man with a sense of humour would be worth talking to.
As I took office I tried to establish contact with him, by activating the hotline between our Secretariats, and also asking the SLMM to convey a message that we would welcome the opportunity to talk. My message sent over the hotline to an official there did not lead to an answering call, though I often leapt up during those early days to answer a ring, only to be met by silence, or the assertion that it was Kilinochchi Telecom Testing. Then the SLMM brought back the message that Mr Puleedevan felt it was not the time to talk.
A few months later, following the death of Mr Thamilselvam, we made another effort, and having facilitated a visit to Kilinochchi by the SLMM eagerly awaited a response. We were called up from Kilinochchi by the Head of the SLMM who sounded optimistic, but there was no other call, and when he came back he said that Mr Nadesan, who had been appointed to take over from Mr Thamilselvan, had again said this was not the time to talk. I should add that we both were hopeful that Mr Nadesan, being a seasoned man who did not owe his position entirely to patronage, might be able to take decisions on his own, but it seems we were wrong.
Once more when the SLMM was about to leave we suggested that lines be reopened, but this too came to naught. Still, the idea persisted that perhaps the Peace Secretariat, despite increasing evidence that it was being coopted into the war effort, with its glorification of suicide cadres, might be the vehicle if at least some elements in the LTTE were willing to talk. It was an ideal instrument to use if, without any loss of face, some informal contacts were to be initiated in a context in which clearly the Tamil people in the Vanni are increasingly oppressed and resentment is rising.
Though we have no idea what has happened in the Vanni, the deaths of Mr Balraj and Ms Selvy, followed by the reported arrest of Mr Puleedevan, suggest that the current leadership of the LTTE is surviving mainly on fanaticism, fanaticism that depends on totalitarianism to survive. We hope that reactions to what has happened to Mr Puleedevan will convince all those who want peace, and to participate in a pluralistic democratic dispensation, that they should even now work towards moving the LTTE away from its totalitarian fanaticism. The Tamil people deserve something better, and perhaps as a prisoner Mr Puleedevan will be able to inspire change in a manner he was unable to achieve through his work. In that case he might yet be able to laugh and talk again as he should, instead of being confined in the mental and physical straitjacket that is the sole legacy of the current LTTE leadership.
Prof Rajiva Wijesinha
(Courtesy : SCOPP)
|Last Updated ( Monday, 02 February 2009 )|
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