Enough Is Enough: Time for the IC to break relations with Sri Lanka
By Satheesan Kumaaran
Apr 24, 2009

Although there are many people who would argue that the Sri Lankan government is fighting a genuine war against Tamil terrorism on the island, many of such people have failed to study the history of the conflict in its entirety including the background and genesis between the majority Sinhala chauvinism and the minority Tamils. They also fail to acknowledge that the government has been conducting a genocidal programme against the Tamils. Enough is enough. It's time for the international community (IC) to stop being mute spectators while the Tamils mourn as their relatives and friends die in war-torn northern Sri Lanka. Potentially tens of thousands of people await death as the Sri Lankan soldiers advance towards a narrow strip of land controlled by the LTTE. So, the IC should wake up and break their silence and break relations with Sri Lanka.

After he came to power in 2005, Mahinda Rajapaksa, in the guise of liberating the East from the LTTE, launched massive military operations resulting in tens of thousands of people displaced. Even after capturing the East, the region remains in unrest. After liberating the East, the government shifted their focus to the north claiming they will successfully eliminate the LTTE from the North as well.

Why LTTE did not launch offensive attacks?
Although the Sri Lankan government was signatory to the ceasefire agreement signed in 2002, they did not respect the accord. Rather, it launched attacks against the LTTE and Tamil civilians. The paramilitaries and the government soldiers have killed not only senior LTTE leaders but also Tamil academics, businessmen, clergies, community leaders, journalists, and political activists.

However, the government never acknowledged the killings and abductions, quickly shifting blame to the LTTE. Despite the fact that the LTTE maintained an eerie silence even when their senior political and military leaders were slaughtered by the Sri Lankan soldiers, the government launched military operations against the LTTE provoking the LTTE intro fighting.

Once the government realized the LTTE remained loyal to the ceasefire agreement, Sri Lanka launched military attacks after conjuring a story that the LTTE was blocking the Mavilaru water supply, the main source of drinking water and irrigation for approximately 30,000 acres of paddy land, which flowed into army-controlled areas in the East. The government said 15,000 families were suffering as a result. Then, the government successfully launched attacks against the LTTE to open the Mavilaru irrigation sluice gate in 2006.

In return, the LTTE launched massive military operations and captured the government-controlled heart of Trincomalee. But, the LTTE fighters had to retreat after the IC demanded the LTTE leadership pull back. The LTTE respected the IC and stuck to their agreement. Since then, the LTTE never launched an offensive attack.

It must be remembered that that the blatant killing of the members of Parliament for Batticaloa in the east Pararajasingham within a church premises while at mass by military personnel as soon as Rajapaksa became president was a landmark in the events leading to the violation of the ceasefire.

However, Sri Lanka ignored the ceasefire agreement and captured all the areas controlled by the LTTE. The IC failed to pressure Sri Lanka as they had the LTTE in the East. Then, the government proceeded to the LTTE's so-called "last stronghold in the North", successfully subduing the area without any heavy resistance. Now, over 100,000 Tamils along with the LTTE are cornered within a 13-square kilometre of land in Puthukkudiyiruppu of the Mullaitheevu district.

The IC, including the UN, cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility for the present crisis in the North. The LTTE took up arms to protect the Tamils in the 1980s when the government launched discriminatory attacks against Tamil civilians on the island. The government engineered over five massive pogroms against Tamils starting in 1956 well before Tamil militants were born, and progressed till 1983. After losing thousands of lives and billions-worth of properties, the Tamils had no choice but to support the LTTE as their only saviours to counter state terrorism by military means.

Now, by simply ignoring the history of the conflict, the IC urges the oppressed Tamils to lay down arms. While the IC passively watches, the Sinhalese solders trespass into Tamils areas killing thousands. By respecting the ceasefire agreement, the LTTE fighters have their hands tied by the IC.

Will the IC snap ties with Sri Lanka?
After heavy civilian casualties, the IC began to speak out using diplomacy without success. President Rajapaksa told his party members on April 17 that: "We are not ready to make any decision which harms the country and which is influenced by the IC." He further said: "The nation must be rescued from those who signed agreements to divide the country and break it up into pieces and to create a new state."

The President apparently conveniently pretends to be ignorant of the history of the island. As a lawyer, he should at least be aware that the island was actually divided into several kingdoms with the Sinhalese and the Tamils ruling their own separate kingdoms. The British brought the Tamil and Sinhala kingdoms together for their administrative convenience, an artificial unification.

The IC has failed to protect the Tamil civilians. The LTTE remains hopeful that the IC will help them secure their freedom. The UN and other countries such as the U.S., France, and Britain came forth to stop the violence in Sri Lanka, but their efforts were thwarted. So, they have only one option, which is to extend help to Tamils by snapping the ties with Colombo. Amnesty International also demands that Sri Lanka declare ceasefire so that the civilians can be protected. But, Sri Lanka continues to disrespect the global demands.

Sri Lanka's decision to reject the UN appeal came after a meeting between Vijay Nambiar, chief of staff of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and senior government officials in Colombo on April 16 and 17. The brother of the President and Defense Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, told BBC: "I told him (Mr Nambiar) that we cannot extend our decision to restrict offensive military operations because there was no result during the previous halt in the fighting".

Another government-influential MP and leader of the National Freedom Front (NFF) who are with the government with the sole purpose of subjugating Tamil aspirations, Wimal Weerawansa, said that the UN and the U.S. representatives are trying to save the LTTE from defeat and they are doing their best to send the LTTE leaders to foreign countries to escape death in Sri Lanka. He says that's why Vijay Nambiar and others are visiting Sri Lanka--to make arrangements to export LTTE leaders, and are demanding the government stop hostilities so that the LTTE can be securely evacuated. Weerawansa demanded the government not to fall prey to the IC's sinister ploy.

The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister, M. Karunanidhi, who suffers from frequent bouts of amnesia depending on the vagaries of his fortunes in the Indian elections, requested the Indian central government exert pressure upon Sri Lanka to stop the hostilities and to declare ceasefire. He gave an ultimatum to New Delhi to break relations with Sri Lanka if India's appeal for ceasefire is not met.

Given their history, it does not seem likely that the Sri Lankan government will stop the hostilities and meet the political aspirations of the Tamils. Rather, Sri Lanka's focus is to wipe out the Tamils through systematic genocide. In this context, the global community should set aside petty geo-political games and come forth to help the defenceless Tamils achieve their political aspirations. The last resort is to snap the relations with Sri Lanka and recognize the Tamils, which would stop the bloodbath on the island.

(The author can be reached at e-mail: satheesan_kumaaran@yahoo.com)