Trapped between two ‘humanitarian’ forces!
David Milliband, Ban Ki-Moon and Hillary Clinton
Everyone loves the sound of their own music. We mean
people around the world — not only Sri Lankans — love to
tell others, loud and clear, on vital issues, their
opinion on what’s going wrong and what’s going right,
not giving a damn to others’ views. They love to preach
to the convinced and are overjoyed by appreciations and
perhaps the answer to the query that keeps popping up
often these days: ‘How did this ‘war’ go on for a
kept preaching assuming that they were some kind of
divine oracle and didn’t give two hoots to dissenting
opinion. This of course applied to those from both sides
and the ‘international community’ as well. And it is
continuing even now which bodes ill for the future.
this humanitarian cry about the plight of civilians
trapped between the LTTE and security forces. President
Mahinda Rajapakse during recent weeks has changed his
tune. The security forces are now engaged in
‘humanitarian operations,’ he says, implying that they
are not engaged in military offensives.
Whether this is correct or not, does he or his cheering
squad pause to consider that Tamil civilians will be
having grave doubts about this change over to
‘humanitarianism’? Do they sincerely believe that after
long years of military operations against the LTTE, the
government has now suddenly switched on to humanitarian
opinion has been silent on this issue even though state
propagandists through TV and the press show government
military personnel engaged in relief work.
Humanitarianism from the West
Similarly, Western leaders — Hilary Clinton, George
Brown and EU leaders — are raising a hue and cry over
the humanitarian situation and the suffering caused to
civilians held hostage by the LTTE and threatened by
military operations of the government forces. Western
governments with their widespread intelligence services
cannot be so naïve to believe that Sri Lankans are
convinced about their humanitarian concerns.
the-man-on the-street and villagers in kopi kades, are
well informed on world affairs. They ask: What’s
Afghanistan and now Pakistan? Aren’t they bombing
Pakistani and Afghan civilians in the hope of killing al
Qaeda terrorists? Where is the American humanitarianism
displayed in those countries?
Lankans by and large believe that Western leaders have
something up their sleeve and that transcends the
professed concern for Tamil civilians.
Apparently Western leaders too don’t give two hoots
about Sri Lankans being convinced or not. That was why
the British and French Foreign Ministers David Milliband
and Bernard Kouchner flew into Sri Lanka knowing well
the reception awaiting them but hoping to frogmarch
this hullabaloo leaves the 50,000 and more hapless
civilians in the same pitiable plight. They are out in
the open without a roof over their heads, between the
devil and the deep blue sea.
paradox of it all is that hapless civilians are caught
in a severe humanitarian crisis between two mighty
forces fighting for humanitarianism! And nothing is
Western leaders who keep repeatedly appealing for a
ceasefire and for negotiations with the LTTE really
believe that their appeals will be entertained? They
surely would have been living in cuckooland — President
Mahinda Rajapakse’s entire political agenda being based
on a successful battle against LTTE terrorism.
the verge of victory, do they expect him to call a truce
and negotiate with a party that had rejected all
negotiated solutions for over 25 years? Rightly or
wrongly, Rajapakse is planning his next presidential
election campaign on victories won against terrorism,
Sri Lankan political analysts say. The more Rajapakse
resists Western pressures, greater will his stature be
in the country!
other hand does Rajapakse want to lock horns with the
Western world? He had already done so. Does he hope to
go it only with China, Ahmedinejad’s Iran and Gaddafi’s
Libya in the future? Sirima Bandaranaike attempted to
take on the West
the backing of the Non Aligned Movement and the Soviet
bloc but failed miserably. Does Rajapakse want a repeat
would happen, we will not hazard a guess.
who have gone long in the tooth and grey in the beard
during this 25 year conflict will realise that this
raging debate of humanitarians is similar to the
continuing debate: political solution or military
solution. In the ’80s when Pirapaharans, Uma Maheswarans,
Kuttimanis and others were taking pot shots at policemen
and soldiers, the government of the day had no other
option but to retaliate.
was interpreted as the government seeking a military
solution and soon the typewriter strategists in
(computers had yet to arrive) commenced displaying their
limited erudition on guerrilla warfare from books of Mao
Tse Tung and Ho Chi Ming. ‘There is no military solution
to a guerrilla war,’ they claimed relying on hackneyed
comments on the Vietnam War.
Tamil militants were ‘freedom fighters’ unlike
government troops who had been unemployed and were
fighting for their ‘buth packets,’ the great pundits on
guerrilla war held. Nonetheless, battles raged on for 25
years while the two sides kept repeating the same thing
and we have reached the present situation. Like old
school masters ‘though vanquished’ in debate they will
keep arguing still.
conclusion we utter our mea culpa. We too had been a
part of the cacophony and still are.
Meanwhile the ‘humanitarian’ debate is likely to
continue. For how long we do not know. We are a nation
of great debaters not to be outdone by Clintons, Browns,
Ban Ki-Moons and the like.