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17th December, 2006  Volume 13, Issue 23

First with the news and free with its views                                     First with the news and free with its views                             First with the news and free with its views                                    

 Focus

A referendum could be Mahinda's escape route

Mahinda Rajapakse and Velupillai Pirapaharan

Radhika Coomaraswamy was reported in the lead story of a daily newspaper appealing to Sri Lanka to respect humanitarian law. She is now the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict. Radhika is very well versed in this aspect of violation of humanitarian law in Sri Lanka. She has not named the party that is responsible for such violations but by implication refers to both the LTTE and the Sri Lanka government

Her vagueness about the culprits is very much similar to many foreign powers, her associates in the field of human rights, the peaceniks in Colombo and the hired hacks of INGOs.

Certainly the government forces are not free of the charge of violation of humanitarian laws. But for these supposedly impartial bodies and individuals to equate the violations of humanitarian laws by the LTTE with that of government forces is to make that blindfolded lady holding out a pair of scales not only blind but mentally dumb as well for not realising that the scales have been rigged.

Sucessful ploy

This is a ploy successfully used by the LTTE to stave off military offensives against them since the '80s. The label of state terrorism sticks well with Third World governments.

Mahinda Rajapakse rushed into territory which Chandrika Kumaratunga and Ranil Wickremesinghe feared to tread. During the initial stages after he took office President Rajapakse suffered many grave provocations without retaliation. The European Unionwhich had been mollycoddling the LTTE and looking the other way as the LTTE collected is funds for war from these countries was compelled to ban it.

Finally the LTTE baited Rajapakse with the closure of the Mawilaru channel and he retaliated with aerial attacks followed by ground offensives.

President Rajapakse's defence of retaliatory attacks only when government posts were attacked did not cut much ice. Here was an exodus of civilians, hundreds of them fleeing across the Palk Strait to Tamil Nadu. Now a full scale war has broken out resulting in tens of thousands of civilians ending up as refugees and many deaths and casualties.

Rajapakse would have well known the consequences of his retaliatory action. He would have been warned by some of his advisors as well as foreign powers against it. But inaction meant growing unpopularity in the Sinhala electorates and with his JVP and JHU associates.

The counter argument is: What else could he have done?

It was imperative that as the new president he should have presented a deal which would have been acceptable to the Sinhalese as well as the Tamils and Muslims without delay. One year has passed and his attempts are in shambles.

Cardinal mistake

In trying to frame a political solution he made the cardinal mistake of resorting to the time tested failure, the All Party Conference. It has been tried out before and failed.    Rajapakse was attempting to invent the wheel. Even before it was tried, the expert committee which was to draft the plan to submit to the APC for consideration split into four different groups, presenting four contradictory reports. Now he is attempting to reinvent the wheel again.

When the Tamil National Alliance was kept out of the APC from the very beginning it became a futile exercise because they were the representatives of the LTTE. The conference could have only produced a Sinhala consensus which to most reasonable people was an impossible task because of the disparate views of the parties involved, particularly on the national question. Thus the inevitable has happened.

President Rajapakse could have reached Sinhala consensus with the UNP but that would have broken up his alliance with the JVP and JHU.

Now what he could attempt is to call for a referendum on the issue of the amalgamation of the Northern and Eastern Provinces as soon as possible. Let the election be conducted by the international community or the UN itself.

The reason why the LTTE does not insist on a referendum is obviously it will not be favourable to them. Past election results in the Eastern Province show the LTTE collecting fewer votes than other parties. With LTTE's former military commander Karuna now opposed to Pirapaharan, the LTTE's chances are even less.

The claim that the LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamil people and that the Eastern Province is a part of the traditional homeland will be blown sky high if the referendum cannot be won by them.

The people of the north and east have without a referendum voted with their feet. A near half of them have fled their homes in the north and east and are resident in and around Colombo or gone abroad.

President Rajapakse needs to make a bold initiative to get out of the mire he has fallen into.


'Wiping out' Israel won't be easy

IRANIAN President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad  who has fast emerged as the  bete noir of the Western world caused further anguish among his detractors last week by holding a world conference on the holocaust, a very sensitive  subject to Westerners.

In some countries to cast doubts about the holocaust, the questioners run the risk of being sentenced to imprisonment such as in France, Austria and Germany. Six million Jews  are said to have perished by attempts of Hitler's Nazis to eliminate Jews from Germany and other European countries.

The consequence has been that after the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of World War II, the creation of Israel under a mandate of the UN for settlement of Jews which had been their homeland even before Biblical times.

Ahmedjinejad, the 40 year- old Iranian President has been baiting Israel and the Jews consistently although he denies the charge of Jew baiter. He had been 23 years old  during  the Ayatollah Khomeini Revolution that threw out the pro Western Shah and the Pahlevi monarchy and replaced it with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ahmedjinejad is alleged to have played a prominent role in the famous seizure of the   American Embassy in Tehran and its diplomats as hostages.

Wipe out Israel

His earlier remarks of ' wiping out Israel from the face of the Earth' had infuriated many countries and drawn protests. No doubt in most Islamic countries these remarks would have been welcomed. This week he contributed another provocative remark in his address to the holocaust conference: 'Israel would one day be 'wiped out' just like the Soviet Union," he told the conference.

Reports said that the Iranian President seemed to have revelled at the conference shaking hands with anti Israeli participants. His remarks would no doubt have widespread political repercussions, Iran being already under consideration for UN sanctions on its nuclear programme.

Wittingly or unwittingly the remarks of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on German TV on Monday may be a message to the Israeli baiting Iranian President. For the first time Israel appeared to admit that it possessed nuclear weapons. He had said: Iran openly, explicitly and publicly threatens to wipe out Israel off the map. Can you say this is the same level, when they are aspiring to have nuclear weapons as France, America, Russia and Israel?'

An Israeli spokesman has been quick to say that Olmert had not stated that Israel had or aspired to have nuclear weapons.  But it is widely believed that Israel does possess many nuclear warheads and is the only country in the Middle East to do so. Whether it was a slip of the tongue or deliberately done it would have sent a message to Iranians of the consequences of wiping out Israel.

Iraq

Surrounded by Arab nations and Islamist Iran in the neighbourhood, Israel has been hypersensitive to any power in the region acquiring nuclear weapons.

 In 1981 Israeli planes bombed the "Osirak Nuclear Facility" where Saddam Hussein was alleged to be attempting to produce nuclear weapons. The  nuclear programme of Iran  is worrying  even Sunni Arab nations because Shiite Iran has warred with Iraq for nine years and is now projecting its power beyond its boundaries.

The Hezbollah group in Lebanon is backed by arms and finance by Iran and Syria. It engaged in a month long battle in Lebanon with Israeli forces. 


Goatie goes to Kentucky

Darling Mahinda

I have been in a dither my darling ever since I heard dear goatie had gone missing. My first thought was to run to the jam cupboard. You know how fond the fellow was of the raspberry jelly. A man with a sweeter tooth I am yet to see. 

It was only when word reached me through my usual devious channels that he was sighted in a far off land I began to breathe easy.

Only the other day I was rocking around the Christmas tree, a purple bauble in my left hand and  a flute of yellow champagne in my right hand when I got to thinking about Christmas, Santa and other foul habits and then I got to thinking  of old goatie again.

I scoured the streets of Karachi last week and couldn't find him. My Nana's general factotum suggested a peek under the bed while a distant aunt suggested we look behind a bunker. Perhaps I thought, he may have been chatting and whiling away  some thoughtful hours in Kernigalle where the brave soldier  sacrificed his life for dear old goatie.

I knew it was a long shot but since a babe in arms I had listened to the yodeling of the lonely goatherd from the lips of Julie Andrews. Could our very own goatie have gone a yodeling I wondered? I was prompted to place a long distance call to Helvetia to get a search party going but they were having fondue and wanted me to hold on.

I hate holding on while the bally Swiss have fondue so I hung up in disgust.

And then came news dear. And as always in the usual way - down the bally grapevine and soggier than a blanched tomato I might add.

Apparently there had been a sighting - several sightings in fact, the voice down the vine told me in heated manner. Even Elvis sightings at Crescat Boulevard wouldn't have got me more excited.

And then I saw him myself. Dressed in overalls at a fuel station in Kentucky. Now don't get your hopes up darling it was only a glimpse such as one would have of the lockness monster or the abominable snowman. Just enough to arouse interest not enough  for conclusive evidence.

Ichabod darling, if a tear didn't creep up on me the moment I beheld the old Beliatta brat. Remember in the '80s  darling when things were hotting up in ole Paradise and goatie like the unselfish sacrificial lamb that he was, decided to leave the force to pursue a less lucrative career in a private firm only for the bleeding heart to realise that Uncle Sam needed his services badly in the service station?

Never have I seen a soldier chappie so despondent as perhaps the poet's words 'mine not to reason why, mine but to do or die' or some soppy words to that effect reverberated through his mind as he stepped on to that jet plane that for a decade and a half would keep him away from the dark soil he loved.

One could instantly see that it was not only the soil but the sons of the soil who toil and moil that got in amongst his gizzard and spleen and whipped up the old emotions. 

Of course I believe that for another toiling comrade Wee Wee, these days, it would be the daughters of the soil and not so much the sons who would be of particular interest.

You see my dear it's the same old bally story for the Paradisians in this isle of the bunker the banker and the bonker if you catch my drift. You hardly ever do darling and now I've learnt to live with that. Anyway sweetie, goaties may come and goaties may go but the war goes on forever.

Maybe I'll enlist too darling. Follow in the steps of that brave offspring of yours who sprung up and  enlisted to the cavalry or infantry or pantry or something.

Satty on the other hand is back with a bump with as much pep to pop as a newly shaken soda bottle. Saw her hovering around her old town the other day darling. All I can do is ponder while looking out yonder.

Don't you worry dearie all will be well, take it from Satty the eternal pessimist turned converted optimist. Oops I hope I didn't break one of your bally laws.

In fact darling only the other day my second cousin's grand aunt was asking about converting her ramshackle bone shaker from petrol to gas. I shushed her up nicely. Can't have the monks hearing those words eh?

Anyway darling as I said don't ya worry about the big Bee. You know what they say, a criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. Eh what!


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