|Saturday, 14 June 2003|
'LTTE will never trust a PA-JVP coalition'
by W. T. J. S. Kaviratne, Ambalangoda special correspondent
Hospitality is inherent in the members of the Sri Lankan family. People living in Kilinochchi, during two decades of war, were exposed to numerous trials and tribulations, misery and deprivation. On previous visits I could not meet the media spokesman of LTTE, Daya Master, living in Kilinochchi but during a recent visit I got the opportunity to have a long conversation with him on various aspects of the conflict and recent developments.
We were on our way to Jaffna and the discussion was so interesting it as longer than expected. The time left for us to reach the last check point of Muhamale was not sufficient and realising our plight. Daya Master made arrangements within a few minutes by providing two suitable apartments as lodgings with all the facilities. European Representative of Southern Province United Media Association, Ms. Karin Kruse who was a social worker in Hamburg, Germany had also joined us on my invitation on this fact finding mission to Jaffna.
As a media person from the South I felt it was a rare privilege to discuss these issues with a key media spokesman of the LTTE.
While discussing the issue of 'High Security Zones', I asked him whether the LTTE had removed their security measures in the areas identified by them as their own High Security Zones. Daya Master said LTTE had already removed many of the barricades since the inception of the ceasefire agreement. During the discussion he did not mention the existence of LTTE High Security Zones.
Certain families were internally displaced six times in Jaffna and not a family was displaced in LTTE controlled areas, he said. Even during the ceasefire, the legitimate owners of residences and lands had not enjoyed the dividends of peace but continued to lead a miserable existence in refugee camps some times in close proximity to their own lands, he said.
Trust and confidence were prerequisites to establish lasting peace but unfortunately the Government was still having some sort of suspicions about the LTTE and the hesitation to remove High Security Zones could be attributed to that he said.
Speaking on the stance of the JVP, he said that the husband of the President was gunned down by the JVP. An alliance between PA and JVP was unusual but the power hungry politicians in the South might resort to anything he said. A Government comprised of PA and JVP politicians could never bring in lasting peace to Sri Lanka he said. Due to JVP influence, even the President proved now to be vacillating in achieving lasting peace Daya Master said.
'LTTE will never trust a PA and JVP coalition he said. Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe from the inception of the ethnic conflict advocated a political solution and was genuinely interested in achieving lasting peace he said.
When questioned whether the LTTE was intending to resort to another armed struggle he said the people of Sri Lanka and mostly the Tamil community underwent numerous hardships as a result of the 20 year war. LTTE believed in peace and not war he said. He said the LTTE suffered a lot and had no intention of returning to war.
Referring to the Tokyo aid conference he said, LTTE could participate if a legally powerful body, within the constitution, could be formed with LTTE participation, to handle the funds for North - East reconstruction work.
"Priority should be given to North-East reconstruction he said.
Daya Master said LTTE was not a terrorist organisation but was an organisation of freedom fighters and they were fighting for the rights of the Tamil community.
Ms. Kruse was very keen on gathering first hand information on war-affected children and women living in Sri Lanka.
She said nowhere in the world had she found friendly and smiling people as found in Sri Lanka. Smiling people both young and old could be found in every village and town of Sri Lanka. But this was not the situation in the refugee camps, she said after visiting some of the refugee camps in the North for the first time.
She failed to hide her tears when she saw the very small children who lost both parents during the war.
She visited an orphanage at Kilinochchi and a refugee camp in Jaffna. In both of these places she had found children suffering from malnutrition. In the refugee camp children were found in dirty clothes she said.
No smiles were found on the faces of these children. Traumatized child victims of armed conflicts should be handled with utmost care by specially trained assistants, she said.
No suitable dormitories with facilities were provided to the orphans at the LTTE controlled Kurukulam Orphanage at Kilinochchi.
Referring to the long delays at cheek points along A-9 road she said it was not a healthy sign of lasting peace. Unnecessary checking of her luggage and even her hand bag was highly embarrassing, she said.
Unnecessary checking should be relaxed to promote peace kruse said.
N. Naren, a management consultant belonging to the Tamil diaspora in Australia had made a short trip to Sri Lanka after 19 years. He said that he left Colombo in 1983 due to riots. He revisited Sri Lanka three months ago as he was curious to see the plight of the Tamil people in Kilinochchi. At present he was working as a Voluntary Management Consultant in the Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (T.R.O.) in Kilinochchi.
He said he was closely working with UNICEF, assisting children's programmes. Tamil diaspora in Europe could render their assistance for the humanitarian projects and other development programmes in the North and East he said. As a direct result of the ceasefire, the professionals who migrated overseas were gradually coming back to Sri Lanka, to provide assistance in rebuilding the war ravaged North-East he said.
As a result of war, malnutrition was rampant in the North and according to WHO reports he said.
S. S. Pillai, the Administrative Officer of 'White Pigeon Technical Institute of Prosthesis, in Kilinochchi said that he was serving as a government servant in many parts of the Southern Province. He was working in the Postal Department and sometimes in the mail compartment of the night trains running from Colombo to Galle, Matara.
Referring to mine victims, he revealed that in 2001, 48 persons were injured and 3 persons died of Landmines. In 2002 there were 49 accidents and 7 died while in 2003 (March to April 5) accidents and deaths were not reported. He said White Pigeon was established in Jaffna in 1994. Manufacturing and fitting of artificial limbs, planning and implementation of rehabilitation programmes of disabled were some of the functions of 'white Pigeon'.
Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation (TRO) had provided material, equipment and training to manufacture the fibre glass and polypropylene artificial legs, he said. Pillai said that what was essential was peace and not war.
Peace process: some reflections
by Oscar E.V. Fernando
The peace process in it's religious perspective, is deemed to be left to religious dignitaries, so much so, that a layman touching on the subject would be taken amiss.
However let me venture where angels may fear to tread and opine how, some, Christians may look at this process, so as to avoid hell fires right here on earth notwithstanding the same hereafter, without however meekly giving in to an opponent, which is but cowardice.
Let me emphasize that a perspective is only an opinion and an opinion is but a view held as probable. As a matter of fact there could be as many opinions as there are human beings, notwithstanding the fact that a clash of opinions obviously requires authoritative guidance, without which there can only be chaos.
Prayer is certainly not the refuge of the weak, but the practice of the strong and the bold. Today do we not find institutions, where people meet to discover such spirituality to be applied in their business affairs? Then why not, certainly why not, apply such spirituality for political and other social affairs. If not form institutions, at least let individuals endeavour to think on such terms, so that, at least some attempt, could be made, to avoid hell fires here on earth such as ethnic crises that bedevil the world.
Let us take "The Lord's prayer"
"Our Father". This tells us all we need to know about God, about ourselves and about our neighbour, infact about the universal family. With God as our father, the Sinhalese be she/he, Buddhist, Buddhist turned to Hindu Deity, Buddhist turned to Sai Baba or the so called minority Sinhala Christians, together with the Tamils, Muslims Burghers and all other peoples born and bred here are brothers and sisters. Nay, the whole world becomes our brotherhood and sisterhood. Do all of us in Sri Lanka think like that and why not? In one sweeping blow Jesus cuts off any spurious notion of superiority of any one nation, race, class colour or caste over another.
Who art in Heaven". Having shown that God and man are parent and child, He explains that the nature of God is to be in heaven and man to be on earth. If by heaven we mean, being in the presence of and awareness of God, then all nations and races on earth could experience heaven here on earth, or at least what is closest to it, without the canker of war, enmity, suicide bombs and so called border villages, if we could realise that God is the cause and we are His manifestation.
In short without killing each other for territory, or for holding opposing opinions, but rationally discussing a way out of a muddle, we could and should solve the ethnic issue of Sri Lanka with a rational process, no matter what time it takes in this wide entity called Samsara, but of course sticking to the notion of one sovereign nation of Sri Lanka, thus recognised by the whole world, and also without expecting a perfect solution to this, or any other controversial issue in the world.
"Hallowed Be Thy Name" Hallowed means holy and this should connote the pursuit of high moral excellence.
The Father who is in Heaven is Perfect but His children here on earth who have been given a free will and who in turn could taint themselves by willing in the wrong direction,could only attempt this moral excellence. And so, we could and should try to reach this moral excellence by treating our brothers and sisters without any contempt. This obviously should be mutual to all man made camps or clans of brothers and sisters which is only natural in a society due to social propensities.
"Thy Kingdom Come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" yes, God has given his children a free will so that they could be creative and not just be an automaton. Thy will be done therefore is not to accept fatalism but to be creative, using our free will in seeking what should be in consonance with God's will.
"Give us this day our daily Bread". Bread here may mean all that man requires for a healthy, happy, free and harmonious life. We think that our supply comes from a certain investment, or from a certain business or from an employer, but with the Lords Prayer we are made to realise that all these come from God Himself, the Source, the Author, and the Giver of life.
This however does not imply that we must just wait with our hands held up for the goodies to fall, but work and work hard with this admonition in the back of our minds! yes, let us apply this admonition to the peace process with peace dividends and it is my view that we work hard with the private sector as the engine of growth and shake off the lethargy that we have been grooved into with State sponsored commercial "ventures" and, at the same time, hope, that the capitalist employers realise that they are not the Givers of the goodies but that they hold this power on trust for Some Body and make a genuine effort not to exploit labour and thus suffer the consequent stress, that is bound to follow.
"Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us". Let us take trespass as intruding on our rights. Yes, Christ said jsut that, we must forgive those who have wronged us. Forgiveness and forgetting may not be concomitant. For instance if one were to be slapped by another publicly in front of an audience would or could one forget it for a lifetime? Forgetting is not an act of the will but forgiving certainly is. At the very moment of the slap one could forgive this act of an imperfect human being who is as imperfect as we are, although we cannot erase this act from our mind.
"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil" Christians believe that as much as the devil tried to tempt Christ, he is always ready to tempt us. And so, Christ has told the Christians to pray so that they will not choose to use their free will to decide to do the wrong thing as tempted by the devil. Yes, the devil revels in chaos, and he will be restless until peace is vitiated in Sri Lanka and in the world.
It would appear he has gone half way round the globe, perhaps because people have used their free will in the wrong direction. The same way he tried to tempt Christ by saying he could give him power over the whole world, if he but listen to him, we believe he is tempting world leaders, and even our own leaders, into believing so.
May be even terrorist leaders. Christians are aware of this and hence the community prayers to save Sri Lanka from chaos, war and destruction, notwithstanding the why and the whereafter for such happenings in this world, mysterious, but accepted and lived by several with the exception of those who spend a lifetime pursuit of logic.
"For Thine is the Kingdom the Power and the Glory for ever and ever". Yes, Christians have been admonished that God is the very source of power and absolute power at that, and that no human being on earth can arrogate such power to himself or herself. Not Hitler, not Mussolini, not Idi Amin, or even the Marcos couple, with all the golden slippers, and so we pity those who think they could perpetuate a short term power they could and should only hold on trust for the Source of All Power.
"This too shall pass", should be uppermost in our minds. Is this not a sounding bell for all our political leaders in Sri Lanka be they in the Government or the Opposition, so that without any selfishness or anticipation of world renown, they (both sides), could cast themselves into one mould to solve this ethnic crisis.
Would not the names of the two leaders, both born to affluence power wealth and good breeding, pass on to immortality and their names written in bold letters of gold by the future Sri Lankans, whatever the prevarications and juxtapositions are, of their close political associates, and also the pontifications of certain sections of the media, which only contributed to widen their gap, to the detriment of the nation; if only they so decide to use their free will righteously and contribute jointly for a lasting solution of this ethnic issue? Has not destiny brought them to this point of confluence to solve the Sri Lankan ethnic problem once and for all, complementing the respective charisma they both hold over millions of Sri Lankans?
Will that no be sufficient renown and satisfaction? Would not the international community give credit to both, if that were to be of any importance? Is there any prudence for the immediate post independence infighting to continue any further? Let them not be dictated to or be influenced by those lesser mortals, but bring in to the fore their good breeding, camaraderie and largesse of heart, in spite of both having so far been tainted with the broad brush of politics and use their respective free will for righteousness sake, to solve the crisis. Let both say mea culpa and realise that none is perfect in this world, for Christ admonished that salvation is at hand, irrespective of the past or the future.
Good breeding certainly prevails in the end, and Sri Lankans are hopeful of the confluence of events, or let us say the stars that have put them together. Who knows perhaps, both sides can so endeavour to change the constitution to give honoured places to both the leaders, in a manner appropriate to their respective charisma over the peoples of Sri Lanka, for a long time to come! Could we take a leaf from Great Britain, the mother of all parliaments?
Produced by Lake House