Despair and distrust

Published : Dec 21, 2007 00:00 IST

In his annual speech, V. Prabakaran blames the rest of the world and declares his determination to achieve Tamil Eelam.

in ColomboVelupillai Prabakaran at

NINETY minutes before the November 27 Heros Day Speech of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) supremo Velupillai Prabakaran, Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) fighter jets flattened the Voice of Tigers building close to Kilinochchi town. It was a precise operation, even going by the account of the LTTE. The aerial bombing is an unambiguous declaration by the Mahinda Rajapaksa government that it is determined to take the fight right into the heartland of the Tamil Tigers.

The raid, coming 25 days after a similar operation that led to the death of the LTTE political wing chief S.P. Tamilselvan, is also a reflection of the growing confidence of the government that the Tigers can be defeated militarily. The rest of the world, however, does not agree with this thesis of the Sri Lankan government.

Ironically, with his November 27 speech, Prabakaran has wittingly or unwittingly sought to prove the Rajapaksa regime right. It was a weird speech bordering on Bushism: either you are with us or with them. Prabakarans prognosis is: it is Tamil Eelam (read LTTE) versus the rest of the world. For a man who has made an annual ritual of the speech since 1989, such despair and message of isolation is unknown. In a way it is a self-goal, and Rajapaksa could not have asked for better propaganda material than the this. The sum and substance of the 2,700-odd words of Prabakaran is that the whole world is afflicted by the Sinhala mindset syndrome!

The complicity and connivance of the rest of the world with the Rajapaksa regime to suppress the legitimate struggle spearheaded by the LTTE for a separate Tamil homeland is the 2007 theme song of Prabakaran. The LTTE leader does not pause even a second to think how and why things have come to such a pass where the so-called Tamil Eelam struggle is completely divorced from the rest of the world. The diatribe of Prabakaran against the international community is absolute.

If the LTTE leader is to be believed, it is the international community more than the Rajapaksa regime that is responsible for the collapse of the Norwegian-brokered 2002 Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) and the peace process, and the woes of the ordinary citizens in the northern and eastern regions, who are caught in the undeclared war between the government and his organisation. According to him, the support of the international community to the government has come in the military, economic, political and moral spheres.

Here is a sample paragraph from the latest discourse of Prabakaran that sums up his world view vis-a-vis the problem in the island nation. It reads:

This partisan and unjust conduct of the international community has severely undermined the confidence our people had in them. And it has paved the way for the breakdown of the ceasefire and the peace efforts. Furthermore, the generous military and economic aid they have given to the Sinhala state and their diplomatic efforts to prop up the chauvinistic Sinhala state has encouraged the Sinhala nation further and further along its militaristic path. This is the background to the confidence of the Rajapaksa regime in continuing with its unjust, inhuman war of occupation of our land.

The LTTE leader goes on to bemoan that the international communitys economic and military aid, its moral and political support, its diplomatic efforts, and its one-sided involvement directly has aided the current turn of events. He says:

We know very well that the military, economic and geopolitical interests of the worlds powers are embedded in our region. We understand their concern to take forward their interests. We also recognise the concerns of the international community to bring about stability and good governance to this island for these reasons. At the same time the chauvinistic Sinhala state is attempting to exploit this interest in our region of the international powers.

It is trapping the international community in its chauvinistic project and turning the international community against the Tamil freedom struggle. Our people are dismayed and disappointed that these countries, trapped in the deceptive net of the Sinhala state, are being unhelpful in their involvement to resolve our problem.

What is even more interesting is his diagnosis that the international community is making the same mistake India made vis-a-vis Sri Lanka several years ago, an obvious reference to the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord of 1986 and the Indian military intervention through the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF). The observation is fraught with implications not only for India but also for the international community, and the LTTE and its fight for a separate state.

By recalling events that are two decades old, particularly when New Delhi has as a matter of policy adopted a hands off Lanka approach after the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Prabakaran has once again damned India and sent out a message that the LTTE neither has forgotten nor would ever reconcile itself to the past. The jibes at India assumes specific importance in the wake of the statement made in a television interview by the LTTE ideologue, Anton Balasingham, months before he passed away in 2006, asking India to forget and forgive the past and get actively involved in the resolution of Sri Lankas national question.

Prabakarans statement that the world is imitating the mistakes India made in Sri Lanka has two other dimensions. It is a damnation of all the efforts made in the past few years by different countries for a negotiated settlement. Implicit in it is the assumption that the world is stuck in 1986. Prabakaran clearly seems to miss the point that if the world is guilty of repeating the mistakes of the past, there is no way the LTTE can escape responsibility for the situation. It is also an acknowledgement of the Tigers failure to reach out to the world and win the international communitys support for its cause.

The manner in which Prabakaran dragged the India factor into his speech to drive home his message to the international community is interesting. He says:

Police officers survey

These one-sided involvements of foreign powers are not new in our prolonged struggle. India intervened in our national question then as part of its regional expansion. India signed an accord with the Sinhala state without the consent of the Tamils. The Indo-Lanka Accord was not signed to meet the aspirations of the people of Tamil Eelam. In fact, India then attempted to force an ineffectual solution on our people a solution which did not even devolve powers to the extent of the Banda-Chelva pact signed in the 1950s. India tried to enforce that accord with the strength of more than 100,000 Indian forces, with the power of the agreement between two countries and with the assistance of treacherous Tamil paramilitary groups. However, even this ill-considered solution, which did not even address the basic national aspirations of the Tamils, was blocked by the chauvinistic Sinhala state.

We are intimately familiar with the Sinhala state and its deceptive politics. Our people have a long history of bitter experiences. That is why we explained to India on many occasions, at many locations and at many levels about the implacability of Sinhala chauvinism. We explained to India then that the aim of the Sinhala state was not to find a solution to the Tamil question and bring peace, but to occupy the Tamil homeland, destroy its resources, and enslave the Tamil nation. India refused to accept this reality. As a result our land witnessed great sorrow and destruction.

Today, the international community is making the same mistake that India made many years ago. Even the countries that are the guardians of the peace efforts succumbed to the deception of the Sinhala state and listed our freedom movement as a terrorist organisation. What we find most incomprehensible is the fact that these same nations, which labelled us terrorists, not so long ago fought in defence of their own freedom.

What accounts for such sweeping cynical distrust of the whole world? Part of the answer is available in the portion of the speech where the LTTE leader bitterly complains about the tightening of the screws on the LTTE and its front organisations by various governments round the globe. The speech confirms that the LTTE is feeling the heat of isolation within and outside the island nation like never before. The downhill journey of the LTTE in the international arena, which began since the European Union (E.U.) chose to designate the organisation as a terrorist outfit in the first half of 2006, just does not seem to stop. The latest blow to the Tigers came from Washington when the U.S. State Department banned in the third week of November the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO), an international non-governmental organisation, for links with the LTTE.

The LTTE leaders speech clearly betrays signs of his nervousness on the narrowing of the space for his organisation to operate at the global level, which has been a vital source of its economic, military and political sustenance. Prabakaran says:

The Sinhala nation is unable to stomach the support of our diaspora for the Tamil freedom struggle; it is unable to accept the humanitarian help and the political lobbying by the diaspora to end the misery heaped on our people. That is why the Sinhala nation is trying hard to shatter the bond between our people in our homeland and our diaspora. Some countries are also assisting this amoral effort of Sinhala chauvinism.

These countries are denouncing, as illegal activities, the humanitarian actions and political protests of our people abroad actions that are carried out according to the laws of those countries. These countries have imprisoned and humiliated Tamil campaigners and representatives. These countries have ridiculed their protests and their efforts to seek justice.

Despite the gloomy situation he has projected, Prabakaran asserts that the LTTE is determined to carry on with its efforts to achieve the goal of Tamil Eelam. The speech does not say how the objective can be achieved in the face of the growing disenchantment of the rest of the world with the Tigers. Nor does he pause to look within to see what is contributing to the widening gulf between the LTTE and the rest of the world.

The LTTE leader wants the international community to impress upon the Rajapaksa government that there can be no military solution to the ethnic problem and change its approach towards Colombo. Prabakaran does not want to practise what he wants to preach. Exactly 14 hours after his speech, Prabakaran had no qualms in dispatching a suicide bomber, a woman afflicted with polio, to assassinate his arch rival and Minister, Douglas Devananda, in the heart of Colombo. Devananda survived the nth attempt on his life by the LTTE.

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