By Dr. Rajasingham Narendran
To ‘Fool’ is to deceive. A ‘Fool’ is a person lacking in judgment or good sense.
If some one fools any one the first time and gets away with it, he is cleverer than the one fooled. The one fooled may have been trusting and thus become vulnerable to being fooled. If the same person succeeds in fooling the same victim a second time, the victim is definitely a fool. However, if this person tries to fool the same victim a third time, he is the fool, unless the victim is an imbecile. This analogy applies rather aptly to describe some aspects of the relationship between the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam) and the Tamils of Sri Lanka.
The LTTE fooled the Tamils into believing the Indians were wrong and had motives other than the welfare of the Tamils, when they intervened in Sri Lanka in 1986-1987. This episode involved the Indian government, the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF), Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Presidents Jayawardene and Premadasa, and led to the deaths of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Premadasa. The Tamils were made to believe everyone else involved in this episode were wrong and the LTTE was right. The Tamils, who initially welcomed the Indian intervention as manna from heaven and the end to their miseries in Sri Lanka, though utterly disappointed at the out come – the first missed opportunity, yet continued to believe in the infinite wisdom of Prabhaharan and the LTTE. This was the first major instance of the LTTE making wholesale fools of the Tamil people, including me.
The LTTE had proved itself cleverer than the Sri Lankan and Indian governments, the Tamils and to some extent the world. The Tamils were made fools, without their grasping the significance of the perfidy they had become victims of. The worst tragedy was the Indian government and the IPKF fell blindly in to the trap the LTTE had meticulously laid and became the villains of the piece. The LTTE engineered this perfidy very cunningly and through tactics that were yet unfamiliar to the Tamils and even the Indians. The Tamils were yet innocent and had a deeply ingrained trust in the LTTE as the only true and trustable bulwark against the machinations and brutality of the Sri Lankan governments. The late 1980s were yet close to the black July of 1983 and the short sighted and filthy political and military maneuvers of J.R. Jayawardene and the likes of Lalith Athulathmudali since. Memories of the horrible events of 1983 and the filthy tactics of the J.R. Jayawardene government were yet quite fresh. The Tamils were highly vulnerable to the devious tactics of the LTTE and were hence fooled. The Sri Lankan governments were made willing partners in this perfidy. President J.R.Jayawardene, the sly fox, was provided the space to wriggle out of the corner he had been trapped by the Indian intervention and pursue his pernicious agenda. President Premadasa forged a marriage of convenience with the LTTE, was taken for the now familiar ‘Tiger ride’ and paid for this folly with his life.
President Chandrika Kumaratunge who was perceived as a breeze of fresh air in Sri Lankan politics, agreed to a ceasefire with the LTTE in 1994 and initiated peace talks with the objective of resolving the ‘Tamil problem’ through decentralized constitutional arrangements- the nearest to a federal system of governance for Sri Lanka yet proposed. Chandrika Kumaratunge during her election campaigns and in the preceding years had helped build a consensus among the Sinhala masses about the need to decentralize power in Sri Lanka and had marginalized the extreme elements in the Sinhala polity. However, she was frustrated at every turn by the LTTE, which also provided fodder in abundance to the chauvinistic elements in the armed forces and the extreme fringes of the Sinhala polity, to create conditions to derail the peace process. The foolish and short sighted ‘War for Peace’ president Chandrika Kumaratunge waged following the ceasefire break down, played into hands of the LTTE and showered the worst misery on the Tamils, pushing them back several decades in every parameter- social, economic, health and education, that matter to human societies. Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam and Minister C.V.Gunaratne lost their lives and president Chandrika Kumaratunge lost an eye as a consequence of this peace initiative and its aftermath.
Although the Tamils were beginning to smell a rat and sense the LTTE was playing a ‘Dirty’ game, they yet persisted in believing the LTTE was their only saviour and had to be supported against the forces of Sinhala chauvinism and militarism now spearheaded by the Chandrika Kumaratunge- Anurudha Ratwatte-Ratnasiri Wickremanayake trio. This was the second time the LTTE fooled the Tamils and made their lot worse than what it was before. The LTTE was ably aided and abetted by the shortsightedness and idiocy that befell the Chandrika Bandaranaike government in the wake of the failed peace initiative. The LTTE however, failed to realize the Tamils were waking up to the reality of being fooled and had not been totally taken in or convinced by their antics and tricks. The forced evacuation of Jaffna, added to the increasing disillusionment with the LTTE. The LTTE had assumed that the Tamils are incorrigible fools and persisted in its efforts to fool them more. This was a second missed opportunity for the Tamils and one more blow to the trust the Tamils had reposed in the LTTE.
The general election win by the UNP (United National Party) and the assumption of the office of prime minister by Ranil Wickremasinghe under the Chandrika Kumaratunge presidency, resulted in the Norwegians playing an active role as facilitators in the Sri Lankan peace process and the on-going ceasefire agreement being signed in 2002. The ceasefire agreement was widely welcomed by all peoples in Sri Lanka. There was general relief and a palpable sense of euphoria that the bad times were finally behind us as a nation. The involvement of the international community, particularly Norway, assured the Tamils the ceasefire will be durable and the peace process will lead to a permanent end to the misery and turmoil that had become their lot. They believed they could not be cheated once again by the Sri Lankan government or fooled by the LTTE. However, the LTTE once again deliberately failed to grasp the opportunity to harness the general good will and the newfound international involvement to pursue permanent solutions to the problems of the Tamils. In this instance their tactics were dilatory and deliberately diversionary. The primary focus was on consolidating their power base. The overall objective was to lay the foundations for an independent Tamil Ealam and their dictatorial, fascist and undemocratic rule, under the cover the peace process provided. The Tiger was taking the Tamils, the Sri Lankan government and the International Community for a ride of their lives!
Chandrika Kumaratunge, the JVP (Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna) and the JHU (Jathika Hela Urumaya) stupidly and very shortsightedly provided the conditions for the LTTE to shift the blame for the stalemate. The Sinhala polity had once again fallen into the trap laid by the LTTE, being of course blinded by parochial political ambitions and rank political opportunism. The policy of appeasement followed by the Ranil Wickremasinghe government and the Norwegians, on the assumption that this would help win the confidence of the LTTE and firmly commit it to the peace process, was hijacked by the LTTE to pursue its own self seeking goals, and give a new lease of life to the chauvinistic elements in the Sinhala polity. The LTTE had gained the confidence it can fool the world too, at this stage. The most important victim of this episode in the peace drama in Sri Lanka was foreign minister Lakshman Kadirgamar.
However, the presence of the SLMM (Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission), the active involvement of International Organizations such as the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the UNICEF, and the close watch being kept by the International Community, have exposed the blatant manner in which the LTTE has breached the provisions of the ceasefire agreement; used it as a cover to establish elements of an independent Tamil state; harass, fleece and murder the Tamil people; and brutalize Tamil society. The relative peace that has prevailed in the North and East over the past four years has also permitted the Tamils to see the LTTE for what it truly is – a liberation movement turned criminal, fascist and self-seeking. The large mass of the Tamils have now realized the LTTE is ‘THE’ major impediment to peace. The Tamils now understand how dangerous the Tiger is! The Tamil people have become wiser to the antics and tricks of the LTTE and cannot be fooled any more. The Tamils are cognizant of the true face of the LTTE and the ground realities. The Tamils cannot be taken for a ‘Tiger Ride’ by the LTTE any more. Unfortunately, however, the Tamils may have to once again pay the price for having taken the ‘Tiger ride’ this long. It is beholden on the Sri Lankan government and the International Community to ensure the Tamils do not pay the price for the criminal follies of the LTTE.
The suicide bomber attack on the army headquarters in Colombo a few days back and the events leading to and following it are once again a scenario pre-planned and executed by the LTTE to disengage from the peace process and convince the Tamils it is not a viable option, because of the genocidal intentions of the Sri Lankan government. This is the repetition of the tactics followed by the LTTE in 1986-1987 and in 1994-1995. We can only hope the Sri Lankan government and the International Community have become wiser and do not fall into the traps being laid by the LTTE. This is the third effort of the LTTE to fool the Tamils and foist another missed opportunity on them.
The LTTE should not be permitted to have its way this time. This attempt should be a leap into the grave for the LTTE. The Tamil people have to seek an alternate leadership immediately and give the LTTE a decent burial. It yet deserves a decent burial in gratitude for its memorable role in Sri Lankan Tamil history. Ingratitude will be unbecoming of the Tamils, however much they may abhor the LTTE and its ways now. We have nothing more to prove with violence, especially the type of senseless and meaningless violence that has become the trademark of the LTTE. A permanent peace and acceptable political solutions have to be pursued, negotiated, finalized and implemented with international assistance starting immediately. The present opportunity should not be missed. If we miss it, we will be the biggest fools (imbeciles!) living on the face of this earth. I would rather prefer the LTTE to be recorded in history as the fools for having missed the bus and not the Tamil people. The Tamils have to make it clear by every means available; they will not be fooled this time around or at any time in the future. The International Community should also by word and deed demonstrate they will not condone the ways of the LTTE any more and they too cannot be fooled.
The following extracts from the ‘Arab News’ editorial (27/04/06), clearly portray what the world at large thinks of the current situation in Sri Lanka and may help open some blinkered eyes:
“ Hard-line Sinhalese politicians and military men had always believed that peace negotiations based around power sharing and an autonomous region in the Tamil-speaking north of the island, were only a cover for the Tigers to regroup. Recent events seem to justify their skepticism” . (Please note the reference to the North only).
“After the 2004 tsunami, the appalling failure of the Sri Lankan authorities to disperse international aid quickly to stricken Tamil as well as Sinhala regions, reinforced the view that the government was pursuing a bigoted and highly biased policy”.
“ Two years on, views have changed. The Tamil rebels have fought amongst each other and dealt ruthlessly with anyone in the community who had the temerity to question their aggressive policies”.
“ Though the Norwegian peacemakers have not admitted it publicly, privately some have said that most, though not all the obstruction in the peace process has come from the Tamil side”.
“It has been suggested that the Tamil Tigers have established a gangster-style regime enforced by terror among their own people”.
“ The leaders of the rebellion would lose power and influence, were there to be a real peace”.
“ When all is said and done, 60,000 people have died in this terrible conflict. The international community has worked hard to find a settlement and, as it looks now, it is the Tamil Tiger leadership that has done the most to disrupt it”.