Karuna Amman must be regretting that he ever left the LTTE. For, had he been committing what he is accused of?abductions, child recruitment, killings, intimidation and extortion?under Prabhakran, no one would ever have demanded that he be disarmed. He became a bad guy only after March 2004, when he broke ranks with Prabhakaran.
UN Humanitarian Affairs chief John Holmes, who was here briefly the other day, called upon the government to disarm the Karuna Group, as it was operating in the government held areas. Is it that the UN doesn`t mind the human rights violations in the other areas that are currently being held by the LTTE? Or, is it that the UN recognizes those areas as being separate from the rest of the country?
Most of all, why didn`t the UN demand that the LTTE be disarmed when it was operating in the government controlled areas and committing crimes against civilians, before it was driven away?
What is the difference between Prabhakran and Karuna? To the discerning, they are tweedledum and tweedledee. Both are using violence to further their macabre interests. Anyone who remains mum on the plight of the people under Prabhakran`s jackboot has no moral right to take up cudgels for the people suffering under Karuna`s. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.
Karuna is no saint. He is Prabhakran`s creation. Old habits die hard. Once a killer always a killer! The East will, no doubt, be a better place without violent elements on the prowl. But the fact remains that the situation in the Eastern Province at present is much better than that in the Wanni. Even the big time INGOs that are partial to the LTTE are having hard times there. According to Reuters, the INGOs in the Wanni have kept their local staff indoors for months for fear of LTTE abductions. Every family is forced to hand over a member to the outfit. Even little children as young as nine years are not safe from the LTTE according to UNICEF records quoted by Reuters.
The LTTE also abducted two UN workers a few months ago. But, strangely those UN bigwigs making all sorts of noises now took those abductions lying down. They didn`t even dare report them to the UN Headquarters urgently!
Mr. Holmes urges the government to liberate the people of the East from the clutches of Karuna by disarming him. Only the security forces can bear arms, he is reported to have said. Let there be no argument about his contention. But, how does Mr. Holmes propose to deliver the people of the North from the clutches of Karuna`s erstwhile boss, Prabhakarn? Why doesn`t he and others of his ilk advocate that Prabhakaran, too, be disarmed in keeping with the principle that only the armed forces can carry arms?
Why are Mr. Holmes and other international top guns so keen on having Karuna stripped of arms at this particular juncture? Karuna will never lay down arms without putting up resistance. A battle-hardened guerrilla, he cannot be written off. If Prabhakran could take on the IPKF with just six hundred odd cadres he was left towards the end of the 1980s, why can`t Karuna do something similar to the Sri Lanka army? If the army tries to force him to disarm, there will be bloody clashes in the East and the focus of the military will shift from the Wanni to the East. Prabhakaran will stand to gain from such a situation. He, it may be recalled, went all out to eliminate Karuna immediately after the latter broke away. There were internecine battles but finally Prabhakaran failed to achieve his goal. Is he trying to make a cat`s paw of the security forces by exerting pressure on the government through various fronts to achieve that objective?
Karuna claims he is carrying arms to defend himself against the Wanni Faction, which is all out to eliminate him. He offers to give up arms if that threat ceases. Is Mr. Holmes trying to have him thrown to the Tigers by denying him the right to self-defence?
Anyone who treats Prabhakaran and Karuna differently and advocates the disarming of only the latter has no way of avoiding the label of being a sympathizer of the former.