A whopping 84% have approved the war strategy of the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL), according to the latest opinion poll conducted by NGOs in Sri Lanka.
The latest study reveals that `as many as 84 percent of the respondents?. agree that the government should concentrate on militarily defeating the LTTE and recapturing all the territory controlled by the LTTE,` says the National Peace Council which conducted the poll with the MARGA Institute.
The poll also said that `89 percent believe that the LTTE will continue as a guerilla force and be a threat to peace and security even after suffering a comprehensive military defeat.`
Predictably, 99 percent agreed `that the prevailing state of war should be ended as early as possible and security restored in all parts of the country.`
Based on these finding the National Peace Council has said: `The LTTE`s behaviour gives a measure of credibility to the government`s justification for expanding the theatre of war.`
The National Peace Council, funded by Norway and generally sympathetic to the Tigers, has reversed its stance of blaming the GOSL and is now blaming the Tamil Tiger terrorists, listing the facts known to all involved in the Sri Lanka crisis. Tamil leaders in the democratic stream are warning GOSL and the international community that the Tamil Tigers are bent on forcibly recruiting 60,000 children, picking them from every home in the Vanni and Jaffna peninsula. UNICEF has documented that 5,600 children have been forcibly recruited by the Tamil Tiger terrorists since the signing of the cease fire in 2002.
Tamil leaders say that the actual figure could be more. The average age of these young recruits is 16. About 60% is composed of boys the rest are girls. The Tamil youth are even sacred to move out of their houses even to sit for exams fearing that the Tamil Tiger agents would abduct them.
The National Peace Council has at last woken up to these realities and states: `Reports emanating from the LTTE controlled areas of the north, and corroborated by international human rights organizations, speak of forced conscription by the LTTE. All families are required to provide one family member to the LTTE.
Not even the traditional deference paid by Tamil society to education is holding back the LTTE at this time. High school children are being denied the right to pursue their university studies, but instead have to join the LTTE if the family has no one else to send. Human rights violations of this nature that keep the LTTE on the banned list of international terrorist organizations are useful to the government when it seeks to justify its military operations.`
The National Peace Council says in summary: `(T)he Marga study showed that there is a large measure of agreement amongst the people on what has to be done to lead to sustainable peace. They may not believe that the LTTE can be brought into a political solution, but they wish they could. This desire of the people imposes an obligation on the LTTE to stop being ambivalent and prevaricating on the issue of a political solution within the framework of a united country. Phrases such as being prepared to consider a `viable alternative` to Tamil Eelam and being prepared to `explore` a federal solution to the ethnic conflict have to give way to more concrete solutions that the LTTE shows that they are amenable to. The readiness of 72 percent of the Sinhalese and Muslim respondents to envisage a future in which the LTTE is part and parcel of a restructured Sri Lankan polity reveals the space that is available for arriving at a political settlement that has public backing.`