By Sebastian Rasalingam
Mr. Eric Solheim has used the book launch of BBC’s Frances Harrison to claim that he and the `international community’ offered an “organized end to the war which included the LTTE handing over weapons, registering LTTE caders and every single Tamil civilian supervised by international authorities and theUN, the US, India, etc.” He claims that this was ‘not heeded by Prabhakaran’ and the ‘international community’ could have done this even if the majority of people in Sri Lanka backing the Rajapaksa government did not want the self-appointed ‘international community’ to intervene.
Does Mr. Solheim know that neither the Sinhalese nor the poor Tamils living in the Vanni have much trust in him or the ‘international community’? Even Prabhakaran knew that Solheim’s word was only as strong as pie crust. Can Solheim give one example where the ‘international community’ delivered the promised goods in any such conflict that they waded into?
Starting from the ‘international community’ interventions in the Suez crisis headed by Anthony Eden, to the Afghanistan/Iraq effort headed by Bush, they, like the proverbial bull in the china shop, have wreaked havoc in their attempts to create ‘peace’.
Mr. Solheim knows very well how he heeded war-mongering Anton Balasingham at every step, aided and abetted the Tigers to arm and secured them international recognition and respectability. He knows how the Norwegians secretly delivered powerful communication equipment to the terrorists, foiled attempts by the Sri Lankan navy to destroy Tiger ships that brought in arms by leaking intelligence to the Tigers. Every time the Tigers killed a prominent Tamil dissident, or even a person like Minister Kadirgamar, the Norwegians, and their mouth pieces in the Colombo NGOs would attempt to excuse the Tigers, and demand that the ‘peace process’ should go on. The ‘peace process’ had become a killing reprieve for the Tigers!
Solheim knew that the LTTE has killed more Tamils than all the armies of the south since King Dutugamunu’s time. Solheim knew that Prabhakaran came to power by assassinating the leadership of the Tamil United Liberation front (TULF) the Tamils elected in 1977 to lead them. So, they were usurpers who had no legitimacy to speak for the Tamils. From then on, the intellectuals, teachers, journalists, priests —in short, anybody who talked of peace or reconciliation was assassinated by Prabhakaran, Anton Balasingham and their buddies, while Mrs. Adele Balasingham busied herself in training female suicide cadre and encouraging the recruitment of child soldiers.
Most of the upper-caste Tamils and those who had means had migrated or moved to the south and live peacefully among the Sinhalese. So, the carnage and the LTTE jackboot fell squarely on the lower-castes and the impoverished Tamils who remained in the North because they could not afford to move. Even the Tamil members of Parliament were forced to become mouth pieces of the Tigers, and lived in the South for their own safety. This reign of terror on the Tamils, as well as the Sinhalese went on unabated for three decades. The ‘international community’ continued to demand that the Colombo government go on talking ‘peace’ to an intransigent terrorist.
During this time the rich Tamils migrated to the west, to form the ‘Tamil Diaspora’. They hijacked the international community with the aid of the LTTE extortionist network. They targeted the marginal electorates to twist the arms of politicians. They used Christian Tamil pastors to influence western Church leaders and capture the ‘human-rights’ organizations. In effect, democracy, justice and human rights were turned upside down. A terrorist group that held its own community to ransom for three decades presented itself as the leaders of human rights! Money collected in the name of ‘charity’ or Tsunami reconstruction was channeled via the ‘Tamil rehabilitation Organization’ for buying arms and laying deadly mines in the Vanni.
Mr. Solheim knew about all these. He knew that there had never been elections in the Vanni to get even a token legitimization of the Tiger regime. The upper-caste Tamils dreaming of the glory of a neo-Chola kingdom that would over-arch south Asia, supported the Tigers emotionally. When they talked of a ‘federal solution’ they meant federating with Tamil Nadu!
And yet, when Solheim and his friends crafted the ceasefire agreement (CFA), there was no requirement for the Tigers to lay down arms, to register every combatant, or even allow the ordinary Sri Lankans to legitimately enter the region occupied by the Tigers. Arbitrary taxes, kangaroo courts, and expropriation of land by the Tigers could now be legitimized thanks to Solheim’s CFA. The Sri Lankan army was shackled. The Sri Lankan government had to supply food, pay and maintain hospitals, schools, roads, and the civil administration of the Tigers! It was an amazing CFA!
In contrast, the Tiger cadre did not have to obey the laws of the land. They could go anywhere in the south, carry daily suicide attacks, set up safe houses, assassinate many government ministers, build up child soldier cadre, import weapons, and finally even taunt the government by closing the Mavil Aru sluice and cutting off the water to 15,000 farmers. Even at that point the Norwegians and the international community tried to ‘defuse’ the matter, without recognizing the need to bring to heel this Tiger who was above the law, and fully ignored the very CFA so dear to Mr. Solheim.
What Mr. Solheim has said at the book launch is that he and the international community were ready to formulate another CFA to the Tigers, and then the Tigers would be able to manipulate the situation so that they can carry on their carnage for another 30 years, killing all the Tamils by slow attrition, and waging war with the Sinhalese to the point of chronic despair.
No one would have gained anything. The people, be they Tamils or Sinhalese, would have ended up in dire straits, just like Haiti which has been subject to many interventions by the ‘international community’. But Mr. Solheim could have claimed a personal victory and bagged a Nobel Prize for ushering in ‘peace’. Even if that is now not possible, Solheim, Harrison, Sooka, the Director of Channel 4, and others could cover up their own guilt in shielding the Tigers for decades as well as make a mint of money by book sales, TV and drama productions. Perhaps, the Eelam Tamil Fronts may put up seed money for all this opportune commercial activity.
The views expressed are the author’s own.