LTTE leader on Sunday must have disappointed those who predicted that Mahinda Rajapakse`s victory would trigger resumption of hostilities. He hasn`t given hope of an immediate resumption of the stalled peace talks either. Instead, he has apparently sought to play ping pong with President Rajapakse on so vital a matter.
Explaining why the LTTE is in the peace process against its will, he has said, `We were compelled by unprecedented historical circumstances to participate in peace talks with the Sinhala state. We were compelled to engage in the negotiating process by the intervention of the Indian regional superpower `85 and by the pressure of the international community at a later period.` He stops short of mentioning how the Indian intervention saved him and his organisation. The Operation Liberation would have annihilated the LTTE as early as 1987 but for India, which launched a parippu attack on Sri Lanka and twisted her arms to call off the offensive. How India took the LTTE under its wing, trained, armed and financed the outfit is too well known to be repeated.
`Constructive engagement in the peace process is,` he says, `a viable means to secure legitimacy for our liberation organisation as the representative organ of our people.` The cat is out of the bag! Will the world take note of the true intentions of the LTTE? He has unwittingly belied the claims of his sympathisers that his peace intentions are genuine!
Nothing perhaps sheds light on the LTTE`s strategy better than the following radio message (between Balasingham and Thileepan in the 1980s) monitored by other Tamil militant groups?The Island (January 2004):
Thileepan (to Balasingham): Are we going for talks in Bangalore? (Over)
Balasingham: Yes, we are! (Over)
Thileepan: What are we going to tell the people? We have told them there is no alternative to an armed struggle. (Over)
Balasingham: We are going there with a demand, no? (Over)
Thileepan: What if the Sinhala government grants the demand? (Over)
Balasingham: Don`t worry! We will put forward another demand. (Over)
The UNP believes but for the polls boycott, it would have polled almost all the votes in the Wanni in return for the services rendered during the UNF regime. But this is what the LTTE leader has to say: `Suffice it to say that Mr. Wickremesinghe`s administration was unable to resolve even the basic existential hardships and urgent humanitarian needs of our people. Adopting delaying tactics, Ranil`s government was primarily focusing on setting up an international safety net aiming at decommissioning our weapons.` From the Tiger`s mouth!
He accuses the government of having failed to disarm the Tamil para military groups in keeping with the CFA and of using them in a low intensity war against the Wanni Tigers. He calls it a serious offence. Look who is talking! Has the LTTE complied fully with the CFA? If so, how can it continue to recruit child soldiers, extort money from the people, kidnap, intimidate and murder them in cold blood and kill state intelligence and security forces personnel? He says the government is engaged in `a treacherous act in which one stabs you in the back with one hand while pretending to embrace you with the other.` Isn`t that exactly what the LTTE has been doing to others?
He laments that unarmed LTTE political cadres were murdered and its political offices bombed. Now, Mr. LTTE leader, let this saying be heeded: As ye sow, so shall ye reap! Isn`t it what you did to that septuagenarian of international repute, who enjoyed love and respect of all communities, to wit, Lakshman Kadirgamar. Kadir was unarmed, wasn`t he? Before that didn`t you kill unarmed Jaffna Mayoress Sarojini Yogeswaran, legendary Tamil political leader A. Amirthalingam, Yogeswaran and many other educated intelligent Tamil, Sinhala and Muslim leaders including Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam and Dr. Rajini Thiranagama and Gamini Dissanayake? Wasn`t that Mayor of Jaffna Alfred Duraiappa unarmed when you shot him dead?on your own admission? The entire world knows he was an innocent man who felt for the Tamil people. You say, `There is no clear coherent, globally acceptable definition of the concept of terrorism.` Why should you venture so far in search of a definition of terror? Just ask any schoolchild and he or she will tell you that terrorism is nothing but killing of innocent men women and children or harming them in any other way. You have been doing just that!
The LTTE brags that it has virtually achieved its goal: `The international community is fully aware of the fact that we are running an efficient, self-governing administrative structure in the majority areas of the Tamil homeland, which were liberated from the Sinhala military occupation by our organisation,` says the LTTE Leader, `Our administrative structure is formidable, consisting of our controlled territories with huge civilian populations, protected by a powerful military force. We have a police force and a judicial system to maintain law and order.` If so, what more does he need from the Sri Lanka state? And if he is telling us the truth, then how can he, in the same breath, claim his aspirations haven`t been met? Gobbledygook!
In the past, the LTTE leader didn`t mince his words in saying what he wanted to. Remember in 2002 at the Wanni Press conference he renewed his call to his cadres to kill him if he ever reneged on his pledge to carve out Eelam. But at the end of his birthday speech he leaves much unsaid: `If the new government rejects our urgent appeal, we will, next year, in solidarity with our people, intensify our struggle for self-determination, our struggle for national liberation to establish self-government in our homeland.` If it is war that he has in mind, why doesn`t he say that openly? It may be that resistance the LTTE is facing both here and abroad to its terror and the increasing hostility to terrorism in the west have compelled him to desist from issuing direct threats of war.
It looks as if he had begun to speak like a politician. He has offered the New President a carrot: `President Rajapakse is considered a realist committed to pragmatic politics`85` It is hoped Mahinda won`t let himself be ensnared by such wily remarks. They lured President Premadasa into a trap through flattery and then they got rid of him. Former President Kumaratunga also fell for their wiles at the beginning and had a narrow escape from a suicide bomber later on. Former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was also in the good books of the LTTE before he was unceremoniously left in the lurch.
In the final analysis, the LTTE says it has remained in the peace process to gain legitimacy impliedly for a de facto separate state it claims to have in the areas under its control. It is this goal that they are striving to achieve through future talks. The Sri Lanka state is apparently without a choice. `Heads we win, tails you lose,` the LTTE leader appears to have told the government.