BRITAIN AND THE TIGERS
(1999 September 01)
On Saturday the twenty eighth "The Island" carried a very unusual and important news item. The Sri Lankan ambassador in Washington, Mr. Warnasena Rasaputhram had said at a seminar on terrorism in Asia at the Potomac Institute for policy studies, that London is a base for some of the tigers, and that London allows free transfers of money to and from London. He had also said: "we would expect some pressure from the United States on Britain". Sri Lanka ambassadors usually do not make such statements and this is a welcome change from their docile manners.
It appears that the foreign office is beginning to realise what is taking place in the name of the so-called ethnic problem. "Ethnic problem" is an undefined concept in the context of Sri Lankan politics but most of the politicians as well as the political scientists have been using this term, with respect to the Tamil racist problem. Some others would call it the national question as if we are trying to build a nation state in the European sense. The orthodox Marxists would insist that the national bourgeoisie is not capable of solving this national question and that we will have to await the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat to solve the problem. They all look at the problem through the western eyes using the concepts and theories of the westerners. Though they make use of the western concepts, they turn a blind eye to the fact that when the nation states were formed in Europe, the predominant culture was given its rightful place.
The problem has to be analysed with respect to the history and culture of the country. It is not a question of nation building in the European sense but a problem of continuing with the "eksesath rajya" that was built by the Sinhala people more than two thousand three hundred years ago. It is a question of the Tamils and the other ethnic groups living in this "eksesath rajya" without losing their cultural identities. Instead of addressing the problem that way the Tamil racists have tried to deny the Sinhala people, Sinhala culture, Sinhala history and Sinhala language their rightful place in the country.
Once the problem is analysed and grasped it is easy to see what has been happening. As we have said on number of occasions the second and the third phases of Tamil racism exist simultaneously. The second phase politicians are the so-called moderates who would first have a federal state and then an Eelam, while the third phase of Prabhakaran demands Eelam without the intermediate stage.
It is clear that there is a difference between the USA and the UK with regard to the second and third phases of Tamil racism. While the USA appears to be patronising the second phase politicians the UK and the rest of Europe are more tilted towards the third phase. The British who created the problem of Tamil racism in Sri Lanka seem to be determined to give it a "solution" that would establish a separate state. It is significant that when Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam was killed the president of the USA condemned the killing but the British decided to maintain a deafening silence over the matter.
While the USA has banned the LTTE for some reason or the other the UK has allowed the terrorists of Prabhakaran to continue with their work in their land. As Mr. Rasaputhram has said London is the base of some of the Tigers. The LTTE can continue to fight in the Vanniya due to the patronage given to them by the British. If the British take steps to stop the activities of the LTTE in London then they will become mere paper tigers in Vanniya. That does not mean that if the British continues to allow the LTTE to have their base in London then they cannot be defeated. With or without the British patronage the LTTE can be defeated provided the correct political leadership is given to the army.
The British policy for sometime has attempted to get the UNP and the PA to agree on a set of proposals that can be presented to Prabhakaran by the government. They want the government to negotiate with the LTTE even if the latter is not prepared to surrender their arms. The hypocrisy of the British policy is such that they would not agree to have talks with the political wing of the IRA, as long as they are armed. The Foxes and the Fatchettes who were in and out of Colombo were keen on this formula to "solve" the "ethnic problem" and in fact Dr. Fox was able to draft an agreement that was signed by the government and the opposition. The Fox policy is now been carried out by the so-called business community led by Mr. Lalith Kotelawala, that does not represent most of the business enterprises in the country.
As a furtherance of this policy, recently Anton Balasingham went to London with his wife to look for mediators and facilitators to commence negotiations between the government and the LTTE. According to "The Island" some officials are now questioning as to whether the Balasinghams who are British passport holders were helped by some western powers to go from Vanniya to London. We have been always worried by the British policy and on June 16th we wrote in the KALAYA: "Whether the Balasinghams travelled with British passports or not their journey would not have taken place without the knowledge of the British home office and, of course, the British intelligence. In spite of all the efforts by the foreign minister Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar, the Sri Lankan High Commission in London and the Sinhala Associations in the U.K., which organised a well-attended demonstration in London, the British government has not banned the LTTE. Not only that they have not taken any action against the LTTE activities in Britain, but they are allowing the leaders of the LTTE to come to London and organise the so-called international secretariat, one of the organisations instrumental in propagating mis-information against Sri Lanka, which I thought was a friendly country of Britain. Of course, the British authorities will retort with their now familiar remark that neither the LTTE nor the Balasinghams, Thamilchelvams, Vasantharajas and company have violated the British law to take action against them. However, we would like to ask the British authorities and their new representative in Sri Lanka whether Milosevic and the Serbians had violated the "impartial" British law, for Mr. Tony Blair to act as if he was the self appointed guardian of the human values. This is nothing but British hypocrisy and it has to be reminded that we have come a long way from the time of Sri Wickrama Rajasinghe the last king of Sinhale. "
The Chinthana Parshadaya called the government to take steps to request for the extraditionof Anton Balasingham. In a statement to the press the Chinthana Parshadaya said: "It is now confirmed that Anton Balasingham is living in London and that he and his wife are holders of British Passports. How they managed to emerge from Thailand through the immigration and emigration having gone there clandestinely in an LTTE ship is anybody's guess. Would the government look into all the details regarding their journey, visas to Thailand and Singapore etc.?
As the editorial of "The Island" on 16th June points out, Anton Balasingham should be charged as a "war criminal". He is supposed to be the "theoretician" of the LTTE, which has waged "war" against the state. The crimes that the LTTE has committed are too numerous to be spelt out in detail. That Balasingham may not have had a hand in these crimes personally is immaterial, as the leadership has to take the responsibility in these matters. The government should take steps to bring the British citizen Anton Balasingham before a court of law in Sri Lanka and request the British government to extradite him and hand over to the Sri Lankan authorities. We would like to add that the Sri Lankan government has taken or taking steps to extradite their citizens when powerful counties have requested (demanded?) them to do so for crimes that cannot be classified as treason".
From the very beginning we have been questioning the policy of the British as according to our analysis the British have been giving patronage to the LTTE and Tamil racism in general, from about 1833, though the Anglophiles were not happy with the stand that we had taken. However the speech by Mr. Rasaputhram implies that the foreign office is gradually awakening to the bitter factors behind the power game in a country such as Sri Lanka.