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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Peace: the mission begins

Daily Mirror: 20 / 05/2009, By Kusal Perera
There were genuine grievances in the Tamil community that led to the Tamil political struggle. However even when most of those grievances were addressed later, the LTTE became the stumbling block in reaching national reconciliation. Prabhakaran hijacked the Tamil political struggle and became the problem than being the solution.
Although the Sri Lankan constitution does not discriminate between the communities and there is no legally institutionalized racism in Sri Lanka, there are many practical problems and instances of marginalization faced by the Tamil community. The implementation of the language policy is one classic example. There are many instances when government offices send out letters, documents and notices to the public in Sinhala only. These practical issues should be immediately addressed. Also a major attitudinal change within the Sinhala community about the rich diversity of the Sri Lankan culture and heritage that has been nourished through the ages by cross cultural influences should be brought about. The state media should be utilized to integrate the nation and not to polarize the country on ethnic, religious and political lines. The President will have to address these concerns with utmost urgency.
The security forces under the joint politico-military leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Army Commander Sarath Fonseka have accomplished the task of ensuring the territorial integrity of the country by militarily defeating the separatist terrorist organization the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.
With the elimination of the entire top level leadership of the Tigers the military strength of the LTTE that plagued the country with terrorism over the last three decades has been stemmed.
Defence Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and Army Commander Sarath Fonseka have achieved the task they set about three years ago to completely rid the country of LTTE terrorism. It is no doubt that the resolute and unwavering political leadership povided to the task by President Mahinda Rajapaksa was the cornerstone of the military victory.
The firm stand taken by President Rajapaksa in the face of tremendous international pressure exerted by the western nations, ensured that the military effort could be seen through to its ultimate end. This no doubt was the difference from previous occasions when military action had to be halted just as the security forces were about to finish off the militant terrorist organizations, due to international pressure.
However President Rajapaksa had an advantage that previous leaders did not have; history was on his side. The LTTE had proven beyond doubt that they were incorrigible. India that intervened in the late eighties to bring about a political solution burnt its finger. The Western nations that were fully backing and were involved in the 2002 – 2005 peace process clearly understood that the LTTE was beyond reason. The committed action of the late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar has seen that the LTTE was banned as a terrorist organization in most of the Western countries.
With all avenues of reaching a peaceful settlement being spurned by the Tigers who were brazenly arming and militarily strengthening themselves, the President had no option but to take necessary military action. The entire country that was absolutely fed up with the Tigers that killed thousands of people with a senseless war and manipulated all genuine efforts to reach a political settlement, stood behind the President in his effort to eliminate the Tigers and turn a new leaf in the country’s history.
The stubbornness of the LTTE and its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran was amply displayed even at the last stage of the military operations. In the face of imminent defeat the Tiger leadership kept on holding to the false hope of striking a ceasefire and remerging after killing time. When that failed and the entire top level leadership of the LTTE were surrounded, the Tiger leadership still did not want to surrender to the Sri Lankan government but tried its level best to get the West to intervene and surrender to a third party.
The LTTE’s newly appointed international operative S. Pathmanathan alias KP who himself is wanted by the Interpol for gun running and other illicit activities, tried his level best to get Norwegian special envoy Eric Solheim to persuade the Western countries to work out a mechanism for the LTTE to surrender to a third party. In the face of these machinations President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the government came under tremendous pressure particularly due to the active role played by the Labour Party government of Britain that took it upon themselves to act the role of being the saviours of Prabhakaran. British Foreign Minister David Miliband went out of his way to get Sri Lanka into the UN Security Council agenda and Prime Minister Gordon Brown was constantly telephoning President Mahinda Rajapaksa. For Gordon Brown and Miliband it was an exercise to save at least one of its vote banks in London in the face of growing unpopularity of the Labour party government.
All that is history now and the top level leadership of the LTTE in Sri Lanka and its military strength has been destroyed. The country is expecting the dawn of a new era and the challenge before President Mahinda Rajapaksa now is to make those expectations a reality.
The defeat of terrorism has been accomplished. It is the quest for peace, reconciliation and achieving national harmony and development through genuine power devolution that is the challenge before the nation today.
It is no doubt that everyone was relieved to here the end of the LTTE. For many it was a moment to celebrate. However this fervor should not be allowed to reach the heights that could cloud the quest for national reconciliation and integration that is the need of the hour. The task before President Mahinda Rajapaksa is to see that the dignity of all communities are restored and root causes that led to the separatist struggle are addressed.
This victory should not be allowed to pave the way for the emergence of majoritarianism and marginalization of communities that in the first place led to the separatist movements. The war has created many scars in society, destroyed communities and polarized the country. A massive and genuine effort will be needed from all religious and community leaders to heal the wounds and achieve national integration.
There were genuine grievances in the Tamil community that led to the Tamil political struggle. However even when most of those grievances were addressed later, the LTTE became the stumbling block in reaching national reconciliation. Prabhakaran hijacked the Tamil political struggle and became the problem than being the solution.
Although the Sri Lankan constitution does not discriminate between the communities and there is no legally institutionalized racism in Sri Lanka, there are many practical problems and instances of marginalization faced by the Tamil community. The implementation of the language policy is one classic example. There are many instances when government offices send out letters, documents and notices to the public in Sinhala only. These practical issues should be immediately addressed. Also a major attitudinal change within the Sinhala community about the rich diversity of the Sri Lankan culture and heritage that has been nourished through the ages by cross cultural influences should be brought about. The state media should be utilized to integrate the nation and not to polarize the country on ethnic, religious and political lines. The President will have to address these concerns with utmost urgency.
It is no secret that the good understanding that President Mahinda Rajapaksa had with India made the defeat of the LTTE possible. The President while rejecting the peace process mooted by the Norwegians, earlier stressed the need for the active involvement of the regional super power India to move towards a political solution. Making a statement following the defeat of the Tigers, India’s External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherji has said that a political solution should be achieved in Sri Lanka based on the Indo-Lanka accord.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa has an advantage that no other former leader had in the country in going towards a political solution. He has the entire Sinhala community behind him to whom he does not have anything to prove. With that strength President Mahinda Rajapaksa is best positioned to bring about a political solution through devolution of power. This is an opportunity that should not be allowed to fade away


Blogger දේශපාලුවා said...

Here is my analysis, why the General's loss is inevitable.

Why General Sarath Fonseka cannot win  


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