An Editorial from Northeastern Monthly
Every few months or so, accusations of human rights violations are flung at the LTTE by various local and international actors whose concern for human suffering knows no bounds when it gives them an opportunity to cause the Tiger rebels discomfiture.
The latest among such accusations was by the European Union (EU) when diplomats representing the Netherlands, Britain and the EU made a trip to Kilinochchi where they met the head of the LTTE’s political wing S. P. Thamilchelvam. Hot on the heels of the EU’s accusations came the United States government statement saying more or less the same thing.
Though the EU spelt out a litany of accusations against the Tigers, what bordered on the bizarre was the Union’s reference to an “alarming increase in political killings and the inability of the LTTE to solve internal differences in a peaceful manner.”
When Karuna rebelled against the LTTE’s leadership, there was a blatant attempt by him, actively backed by the UPFA government, to overrun the
(picture courtesy LTTE Peace Secretariat website)
east. But neither the EU nor other interests within the international community actively campaigned against the human rights violations or the long-term military imbalance such a move would bring about.
The LTTE intimated to the Norwegian facilitators and other international visitors, who have now made it a habit to drop in to chat in Kilinochchi, that it was greatly perturbed by the systematic elimination of its cadre and the brazen support President Chandrika Kumaratunga and her government were extending Karuna.
Though it is known the international community did apply considerable pressure on the Sri Lankan president to desist from supporting Karuna, the government did nothing to rein in its agents, including those from military intelligence. It was left to the LTTE to take matters into its own hands and reply fire with fire, which led to the series of killings we now see.
And how does the international community react? It uses the EU to say, “Killing of political opponents is a breach of fundamental human rights.” It bolsters these accusations with others of child recruitment and abductions, interspersed by platitudes such as, “only through dialogue can there be a negotiated settlement.”
In the past few months the Tamils have witnessed an international community blind to the excesses of Karuna and the government implementing a plan to militarily weaken the LTTE. The Tamils are now watching an international community when it has no other option but to countenance such killing, using human rights violations against the Tigers, well aware that that also is a weapon to militarily undermine the rebels.
Surely no one is naďve enough to believe that Tamil children, who successive Sri Lankan governments butchered and forced into deprivation and displacement, are objects of such sanctity that their well-being has become a matter of international concern? The agenda behind such accusations is to exploit the child soldier issue so that the LTTE is unable to replenish its cadre – the cadre it needs if forced to fight again.
While all these games are played no one seems to cares a farthing for the Tamil refugees, including children, languishing without homes, the abysmal level of investments in the Tamil areas for economic development and most of all, the complete lack of political will on the part of the government to reach an honourable settlement with the Tamils.
With such relentless belligerence from every quarter to militarily weaken the Tigers what hopes could the Tamils have that the international community, which is bending over backwards to see talks resume, will back a settlement that enshrines Tamil aspirations?
After all it was the Tigers’ military prowess that forced the Sri Lanka government to negotiate. If the international community wants the LTTE militarily weakened, it means it wishes to eliminate every means by which the Tamils could force an honourable settlement except what the international community underwrites. But from the Indo-Lanka Accord Tamils have learnt the folly of trusting the big powers to underwrite any agreement between themselves and the Sri Lanka government.
So, whether it is war or talks, the Tamils should have no illusions that they are alone and confronting an inimical world, more bent on destroying them than guaranteeing a just and equitable solution.
IPKF on patrol 1988
Posted August 28, 2004