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Dialogue of the Deaf no solution

The much awaited Mahavir Speech of the Warlord of the Wanni, Velupillai Pirapaharan, had no surprises and turned out to be the continuation of the Dialogue of the Deaf between the LTTE and its opponents in the south.

For months on end, the Mahavir of the south, Mahinda Percy Rajapakse, has been accentuating on a new tune - (changed his rhythmaya - rhythm): 'Sinhalese and Tamils are brothers; this war is not against the Tamils; we are fighting the fascist LTTE to establish democracy in the north. The solution is not a military one but political.'

Velu apparently does not listen to Sinhala music or does not like the new rhythmaya of Rajapakse. In his Mahavir speech he blasted: 'Today, the Sinhala state has as never before, placed its trust on its military strength. On military modalities and on a military solution.... In truth this is not a war against the LTTE, as the Sinhala state professes. This is a war against the Tamils; against the Tamil nation. In short, a genocidal war.'

Kohedde Yanne?

We have in our earlier comments described this Dialogue of the Deaf in terms of the Sinhala saying: Kohede Yanne, Malle Pol (Whither bound? Coconuts in the bag) - the dialogue of two deaf villagers on the road. For the near 25 years duration of this so called war, this is the basic dialogue that has been going on between the antagonists. One side does not hear or understand what the other side is saying or is refusing to hear it.

Even in the last Mahavir speech, Pirapaharan spoke of his quest for peace. From Thimpu to Geneva his organisation had pursued peace but being thwarted by the 'militaristic Sinhala state.' Of course the warlord wants peace - on his terms: The establishment of an independent Tamil state with the LTTE being the sole representatives of the Tamils and Velu being its undisputed leader - the Suriya Theivam, Sun God. Muslims and Sinhalese in the north and east should clear out.

Sued for peace

Successive Sri Lankan governments too have sued for peace, from J.R. Jayewardene to Mahinda Rajapakse. The problem has been: 'How much to give the Tamils.' Too much means the ruling party will lose the next elections. So we appoint committees, commissions and conferences like the All Party Conference that is trying to reach consensus for two years on the amount of devolution of power to the north and east.

While peace will be an illusion with the warlord around, those Sinhalese and even Muslims in search of peace seem to gloss over issues that are ground realities.  Even today what is the effective organisation that could defend Tamil interests? Even Tamils who hold rational views are markedly reluctant to be openly critical of the LTTE.

Is it only fear that holds them back? Why Tamils are reluctant to criticise the LTTE is an issue which sociologists and peace lobbyists have ducked all along even though their intellectual curiosities have made them creep under mattresses of generations of Sinhalese before them to determine marital infidelities of Sinhala ancestors and trace family trees.

Tamils hate the LTTE?

Tamil intellectuals and professionals may have their own reasons for not openly expressing their antipathy against the LTTE just as much there are many Sinhalese intellectuals reluctant to criticise the JVP atrocities in the late '80s and even defend the JVP today.

Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mahinda Rajapakse teaming up with the JVP that was responsible for killing of even their near and dear are examples of our perceptive political scientists putting their blinkers on and making no comments

This columnist is by no means pleading the case of the monstrous LTTE that has been responsible for the killings of tens of thousands of innocent people of all communities. But the unavoidable question is whether a political solution is possible without having a strategy how to deal with the mass killers.

The extermination of almost the entire leadership of the JVP and the rest falling in line enabled patching up of a potentially dangerous problem. With the JVP, the issue was mainly of political ideology but ethnic and religious problems have proved to be much more intractable than political ideology as is evident from the raging religious, tribal and ethnic problems of the world. Thus, the repetition of the manthram of 'political problem' will be no solution.

Others however will point out to the so called 'integration of Karuna and Pillayan into the political mainstream. How this 'integration' will work out is too early to say.

Mahavir on back foot?

Many commentators have described the Mahavir speech as being 'defiant' in its mood. To this columnist it does seem that Velu was on the back foot and he was by no means on the offensive.

True, he swore that he would not budge an inch and give into the unbridled desire of Sinhalam - Sinhala desire for land and Sinhala military despotism. He did not speak of recovering the recently lost areas of his Eelam - Eastern Province, western half of the Wanni or even the Jaffna peninsula. This was the defiant speech of a potty dictator who sees the enemy ranks closing in on his bunker.

But is he down and out? How many fighting cadres is he left with? Military analysts have noted that he had not been sacrificing his troops as the army swept through the Eastern Province and now the western half of the Wanni. Does he have enough resources to fight a conventional war any more: Or will he go back to guerrilla warfare at which he was quite successful?

His only hope is in Tamil Nadu and Indian intervention as it happened in 1987.But Indian politics have changed much and will history repeat itself?

If President Rajapakse does seriously want to bring about a political solution to the problem will the crushing and elimination of the LTTE be the solution? If not he should commence a serious dialogue, if not with the LTTE with the other accepted leaders of the Tamil community and present a viable solution acceptable to all. We know it is easily said but not done.   

 


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