PRABHAKARAN AND HIS PIECE
(1998 December 09)
Most of the Tamil racist parties either believed or pretended to believe that Prabhakaran had said in his speech on the 27th of November in Vanni, that he wanted peace. In the English translation of his speech, released by the so-called LTTE International Secretariat in London, which was published in "The Island" of 2nd December, he had only said "We have not closed the doors for peace", and these parties together with the NGO's demanded that the government should respond positively to this "peace call" of Prabhakaran. The UNP, which had earlier agitated for unconditional negotiations with the LTTE, also joined the bandwagon.
Before we analyse Prabhakaran's speech we have to look into the background in which it was made. It was clear for sometime that a number of interested parties were busy with applying pressure on the government to commence negotiations with the LTTE. The UNP, most of the Tamil racist parties, the NGO's, the Bishop of Mannarama , the British high commission and Mr. Fatchette, the big business community, had been talking of negotiations for some time. The LTTE released the captain of the ship 'Irish Mona' and several others as a green light for negotiations. Most probably, the LTTE has been under pressure from one or more international powers to start negotiations. Thus Prabhakaran's speech should not have come as a surprise to those who have been following the developments in Tamil racist politics.
However Prabhakaran is not interested in what the international powers want him to do. What he is expected to do by these powers is to negotiate with the government to obtain the maximum under the present conditions, in between the regional councils of G. L. Peiris and Neelan Thiruchelvam and a confederation, and then enter the so-called democratic process perhaps paving the way for the TULF and the other 'moderates' in the Northern and Eastern provinces. A confederation and an Eelam would follow subsequently. But Prabhakaran is not interested in such schemes. He is fighting for an Eelam as he has mentioned in his speech. The words " we have not closed the door for peace" have been included only to hoodwink the pressure groups. Prabhakaran is not interested in the policy of 'little now and more later' of the other Tamil racist parties who want to establish an Eelam through a Federal state. He is interested in Eelam and only Eelam.
Prabhakaran has made it clear that there is nothing to negotiate. At least in this respect he is not as dishonest as the others are. Those who are of the view that the PA and the UNP should first come to an agreement on what can be negotiated will have to be asked, over and over again, what is the problem that is expected to be solved as a result of the negotiations. Those who are of the view that there is an ethnic problem should first tell us or define what an ethnic problem is and then show that there is an ethnic problem in Sri Lanka. Is it a question of the so-called grievances of the Tamils? What are the problems that the Tamils have in this country merely because they are Tamils? Once these questions are asked and the answers given to them are analysed, it would be clear that there is only one conclusion that the patriotic elements, if there are any, in the UNP and the PA can come to. The PA and the UNP can agree only on one matter. There is nothing to discuss with either the LTTE or any other Tamil racist party.
Let us see the problem through the eyes of Prabhakaran. The following quotations are all from the speech of Prabhakaran as translated into English by the so-called LTTE international secretariat. It is interesting to see that in his speech Prabhakaran makes it clear that he is not satisfied with what his western sponsors are doing for him and Tamil racism. Probably he wants more aircrafts from his well wishers. This is what he says: "What dismays us is that the countries which lead the civilized world are reluctant to raise their voices against the uncivilized forms of oppression unleashed against the Tamils." Apart from the fact that these words were spoken by a murderer, of so many innocent people including the Bhikkus at Arantalawa, who cannot be called a civilised person by any stretch of imagination, what is the oppression he is talking about? If the Tamils in the north are being oppressed today it is because of him. The moment he stops fighting and hands over the arms the Tamils in the north will be able to live like any other citizen in the rest of the country. For example, it is Prabhakaran who is preventing normal travelling to and from Yapanaya.
On the other hand if the western powers are prepared to assist Sri Lanka by preventing arms being supplied to the LTTE, Prabhakaran would have been destroyed long ago. Those outdated theories on the guerrilla being supported by the people are not valid. Prabhakaran is not a fish in a sea of people. He uses people as a human shield. On many occasions, people have had to obey him simply because he is armed. In this respect the LTTE is not very much different from the JVP of 1988-90 era. Prabhakaran's strength is in his arms, which are very much superior to what the JVP had. So the question is who supplies him with arms and who helps him to transport them to Yapanaya. Or at least who turns a blind eye or why the satellites do not send signals, when ships carrying arms for the LTTE sail from one continent to another.
Are we to believe that the LTTE is such an efficient unit that it can finance all its requirements through the income it gets from its fleet of merchant ships, drug business etc.? Recently it was revealed that the LTTE is having training camps in South Africa. Some people may try to create the impression that these stories are not correct and that its not necessary to train Sri Lankan Tamils in South Africa when they can be trained here. Are we so sure that it is only the Sri Lankans who are being trained? Also with the support from the big powers it is not such a difficult proposition to transport trained people, whether Sri Lankans or not, from South Africa to Sri Lanka.
Prabhakaran is very clear on what he wants to achieve. He says: " We aspire to live peacefully with freedom and dignity, without the interference of anyone; in our Motherland where we are born and bread; in our own soil: in our own historical homeland which belong to us............. We are a national formation with a distinct language, culture and history. We, therefore, demand that we should be recognized as a community of people, as a social formation with distinct characteristics. We have the right to determine our political status. On the basis of the right, we aspire to chose freely a political model suited to us to govern ourselves. This is what our people are demanding and fighting for". (emphasis added).
Prabhakaran, unlike the others, is very clear. He has stated his basic premise and the much-talked about aspiration of the Tamil racists. The basic premise constitutes the Thimpu conditions, which are non- negotiable. Thus the government has to accept them even before they sit down for talks. After agreeing to the Thimpu conditions what is left is to decide on the ways and means of transferring power.
Now we get on to the so-called war. Prabhakaran's explanation is very simple. Having stated his basic premise and what he is demanding and fighting for, he says: "The Sinhala nation has been denying this just and civilized demand ............... Now the Tamil struggle has expanded and escalated into a war between two nations. ............... Today the war has expanded and escalated into a full-pledged conflagration in which armed forces of the two nations are confronting each other. The Sinhala nation is engaged in war of aggression to occupy Tamils land and to subjugate the Tamil people. We are fighting to protect our people and liberate our soil from alien aggression."
Prabhakaran not only knows what he wants but also knows that Sinhala nation does not agree with the demand. Unlike some journalists who claim that they coined the word 'war' Prabhakaran uses that in a precise sense. For him it is a war between two nations. Those who use the word 'war' to describe military operations by the government to defeat a struggle by a group of terrorists demanding a separate state should contemplate on what they are doing. They, according to the usage of Prabhakaran, are already assuming that there are two nations.
The concepts such as occupation of Tamil land, subjugation of the Tamil people, liberation from alien aggression are based on the false history propagated by the leaders of the TULF and its predecessors or the political uncles and grand uncles of Prabhakaran. However unlike the Sri Lankan government which has failed to provide a correct political leadership to the armed forces, Prabhakaran, with the false history created by his uncles and grand uncles, is precise and definite. He will not discourage people joining the LTTE by telling them how cruel the war is. He will not send his men to the schools in Yapanaya to preach against the war and will not tolerate any NGO person if he or she attempts to do that. He does not talk of peace for the sake of peace. He wants to win freedom to a Tamil Eelam, though it has never existed in history.
The Sri Lankan government has no definite aim for the simple reason that they have not understood the problem. The political scientists, sociologists in the west have created and helped the Tamil racists to create myths on oppressions of the Tamils, history of the Tamils etc. Unfortunately the Anglophiles among us still believe these myths. They refuse to view the problem as something created by the British to suppress the Sinhala Buddhist culture. The history of the world is not the history of class struggles. It is the history of clashes between cultures and civilisations. The western Christian civilisation is, today, directly confronting the Muslim civilisation in the Muslim world. They are compelled to involve directly in those countries as there is no other culture that they can make use of. In India they use the Muslims against the Hindu civilisation and in Sri Lanka Tamil Hindus are used to attack the Sinhala Buddhist culture. Prabhakaran is really fighting somebody else's 'war'. He will be kicked out eventually whether he delivers the goods or not.
When Prabhakaran speaks of an aspiration, the government talks of grievances of the Tamils and a package to solve those so-called grievances. The armed forces do not know what they are fighting for. As far as they are concerned whether Prabhakaran is defeated or not the package will be given. Then what is the purpose of fighting? The soldiers have to be armed not only with weapons but also with an ideology. Providing political leadership means formulating the aims and objectives and supplying the ideology and leaving the rest to the armed forces.
What does Prabhakaran expects to achieve through negotiations. He is very clear again. "We have not close the doors for peace. We are open to the civilized method of resolving conflicts through rational dialogue. Since the Sinhala leadership lacks the political will and sincerity to resolve the problem we favour third party mediation for political dialogue. We want the political negotiations to be held in an atmosphere of peace and normalcy, free from the conditions of war, military aggression and economic blockades. We are not stipulating any pre-conditions for peace talks. We are suggesting the creation of a climate of peace and goodwill to hold peace talks, a congenial environment in which our people must be free from the heavy burden of suffering imposed on them. We hold the view that political negotiations cannot be free, fair and just if the Government utilizes the military aggression on our soil and the restrictions imposed on the economic life of our people as political pressures."
Prabhakaran wants third part mediation, probably under pressure from a mediator, in order to start 1995 type negotiations. He says he is not stipulating conditions, after he himself has imposed a number of conditions including the Thimpu conditions. He wants political negotiations to be held in atmosphere of peace and normalcy free from war conditions which means that he wants the army to be withdrawn from the north. After imposing all these conditions he says he is prepared to engage in initial talks to discuss the removal of pressures and to work out a basic framework for negotiations. It will be another farce similar to the so-called talks held in 1995. Prabhakaran is not interested in any peace. He wants only a piece or perhaps pieces of the country and it does not come as a surprise to most people..
However Prabhakaran has not failed entirely in his attempt to surprise us. It is interesting to note that contrary to the opinion of the NGO lobby and of the other Tamil racist parties Prabhakaran admits that "Sri Lanka is a Buddhist country". Also he states that, "so far, not a single voice of rationality is heard from the Sinhala national against the war. ....... From politicians to the monks, from intellectuals to the journalists, everyone calls for the intensification of the war." We were under the impression that there were a few intellectuals, journalists, politicians and even monks among the Sinhala people who spoke against the 'war'. In Prabhakaran's view either they have not spoken against the war or they are not Sinhala people. We shall leave it to these ladies and gentlemen and the monks to find out from the "LTTE international secretariat" when they go to London next time for a conference on war and peace or some such thing on a pre-paid ticket, what Prabhakaran really meant by that statement.