|Friday, 1 October 2004|
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This can't be taken any more
The majority of the public - we are certain - would endorse the sentiments expressed yesterday by President Kumaratunga on the continuous killing by the LTTE of Tamil political activists seen by it as its adversaries. The barbarous elimination of these activists by the LTTE, can no longer be tolerated by the Government. This is very plain to see and we call on the Government to ensure the cessation of this LTTE - inspired terror spree.
Enough is enough, we say. Every avenue should be explored by the Government to get the LTTE to abide by the law of the land. The Tigers cannot be allowed to engage in an orgy of murderous violence with impunity. The Government should ensure the security of every citizen and is conscience-bound to protect the people from all perils.
As a short term measure to stymie this spurt of LTTE terror, the Government should even consider working towards amending the terms of the ceasefire agreement to enable Tamil groups which were disarmed under the accord, to carry arms once again. Moreover, the Government cannot escape its obligation to enforce the law and to bring law-breakers to heel. We call on the Government to exercise its authority to end the LTTE - triggered mayhem.
The Government should, of course, remain committed to a negotiated, honourable peace. It needs to do everything in its power to bring the LTTE to the negotiating table, but the Government could in no way allow itself to be held to ransom by the LTTE on account of the peace exercise. If the LTTE is seeking peace in earnest it should desist from violence, operate within a democratic framework, and aim at arriving at a compromise peace formula which would respect the rights of all - including those of unarmed, anti-LTTE, Tamil groups. Any agreement which falls short of these standards is unlikely to meet the description of being honourable and just, from the point of view of all.
The current, dangerous developments were, unfortunately, not foreseen by the previous, UNF administration. Its policy was to stomach every instance of intransigence by the LTTE for the purpose of keeping the ceasefire going. Needless to say, all that this approach produced was the clichetic "peace of the graveyard". We would certainly be having another mass graveyard in the North-East if the LTTE is not compelled to abide by the law.
Thus far, the maintenance of the ceasefire has been, largely, a flawed exercise with the Government adhering to the terms of the accord but not the LTTE. The LTTE should be made to cooperate fully in sustaining the ceasefire and an evaluation needs to be made by the Government of the current state of affairs with the involvement of the SLMM.
It is important to note that the law should be observed in both letter and spirit. Political killings are a gross violation of both these dimensions of the law. If the LTTE is honestly desirous of a just peace, it would abide by a democratic framework rather than seek to exercise its diktat, despotically.
We usually think that poisons are just that - poisonous. But the latest research suggests that it is not always so. Some poisons apparently can not only end lives but also save them.
Arsenic, the favourite slow-acting poison of choice for a number of memorable characters in murder mystery novels by Agatha Christie (4.50 from Paddington being a favourite arsenic thriller) et al, has literally won a reprieve from eternal condemnation. There have been many well-known real life cases involving the administration of arsenic to unsuspecting victims here in Sri Lanka and abroad. But now we will have to look at arsenic in a new light.
Iranian researchers said on Wednesday that arsenic could find a new role as a mainstream treatment for leukaemia. They were so impressed with trials involving patients with a rare type of leukaemia that they have suggested it could be used as an initial treatment.
"We are the first group to suggest that it is acceptable as a first-line treatment," Dr Ardeshir Ghavamzadeh of Tehran University of Medical Sciences said in a statement.
Leukaemia is a fatal disease. Cancer specialists are looking forward to any treatment that can help their patients. If the trials proceed further, arsenic could be an unlikely partner in the fight against leukaemia. Medical scientists around the world will be looking at the success of the Iranian experiment with the expectation of widening its scope.
Poisons may not be as bad as we think. Some foods we eat everyday do have traces of poisons. Manioc is cooked in open containers to let a cyanide compound escape. Elders also advise us not to consume manioc and ginger together, as it can be a deadly combination. Some mushrooms are poisonous. 'Food poisoning' is sometimes only mildly irritating, but it can also be fatal.
Nevertheless, it is not too easy to stop those who willingly take poison. Nature abounds with poisonous substances. Hundreds of people in Sri Lanka eat kaneru seeds with the intention of taking their own lives. They succeed most of the time, as there is no proper antidote for Kaneru, although a number of researchers in England announced a breakthrough in this regard recently.
The arsenic research could lead to a variety of possibilities. Scientists are likely to look at the 'good side' of other famous toxic substances. As the saying goes, it takes a poison to kill a poison. It seems there's life in poisons yet.
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