From violence to politics
The declaration made by former
Tamil militant groups in the fray in the Batticaloa Local
Government Elections of their desire to embrace the political
process would be welcomed by not only the moderate forces in Sri
Lanka's politics but also all those desiring an end to the use
of violence as a means for winning political demands, which at
different times in the post-independent history had plunged the
country into turmoil until its gradual degeneration into fully
blown ethnic war threatening the dismemberment of the Sri Lankan
According to our Daily News staffer who was in Batticaloa
during the weekend the former armed groups namely the TMVP,
PLOTE, EPDP and EPRLF who are in the running have professed
their commitment to the political process to usher in democracy
through a vibrant civil administration structure.
Of these groups the last three are already fully involved in
the democratic process with the EPDP already represented in
Cabinet and the EPRLF and PLOTE having had ex-Members of
The TMVP mayoral candidate says that although his party had
earlier retained some weapons in the face of threats by the LTTE
even this had been done way with following their induction into
the electoral process.
There will of course be those critics who may snigger and
scoff at these statements of professed allegiance to a
democratic process by a group which not so long ago were
considered as the linchpin of the LTTE's fighting machinery.
But the fact remains that they broke away from the outfit and
is now beginning to taste the fruits of civilian life and what
is more have entered the democratic process renouncing its past.
It is of course a huge bonus to the Government that a vital
segment that could be considered as the main battle arm of the
LTTE had decided to opt out of hostilities giving the forces a
sizeable victory against a major flank of the LTTE thrust
without firing a single shot so to speak.
Their entry into the national mainstream is not a development
that should be scoffed at and belittled considering what might
have been had not the split taken place in the LTTE.
It cannot be denied that this greatly facilitated the forces'
capture of the East and even now forms a strong bulwark against
the LTTE in the region.
Dialogue and accommodation have been the current course with
Governments the world over, plagued with rebel uprisings.
Countries like Nepal are an ideal example where a ruthless band
of terrorists were persuaded to lay down their arms and enter
the democratic process.
The transformation had succeeded to such a degree that now
the Maoist rebels have a significant say in Governance and are a
key player in reforms and the formation of Nepal's new Republic
All past Lankan Heads of State too opted for negotiations
with the LTTE. President R. Premadasa invited the wrath of many
by holding the discussions with the LTTE in star class hotels
and providing material assistance - all in a honest bid to get
the Tigers to change their ways and enter the democratic
It is ironic indeed that those who were members of that
Government are today denouncing the present bid to accommodate a
breakaway group of the LTTE which had pledged to turn a new leaf
and enter the democratic process.
The transition of terrorist groups into democratic entities
cannot be achieved overnight and involves a delicate process of
persuasion and accommodation. Many Governments in the world
plagued with terrorism had offered concessions to get terrorist
groups to abandon their mission.
Admittedly this process is not without its risks as learnt by
President Premadasa the hard way. But the risk would be worth it
if in the end the terrorists can be turned around from their
destructive campaign and inducted into the general polity.
That the endeavour proved futile under every Government due
to the intransigence of the LTTE is all too well known. It
certainly was not for want to trying.
It goes without saying any Government should avail itself of
any opportunity that could help break down the edifice of
terrorism. The exit of Karuna faction which formed an integral
part of the LTTE's fighting machine has helped to make huge dent
in that edifice. What is more, this faction pledged do down arms
and enter the democratic process.
The Government has been presented with an ideal opening to
fight terrorism to a finish with the LTTE devoid of its main
flank while at the same time building the democratic foundations
in the region.
The hiatus in the LTTE military apparatus in the East also
means less lives lost on the battle front.
It is the fervent of hope of all that the LTTE too would
eventually be brought into the ambit of democracy obviating the
need for armed confrontation sparing the nation further
bloodshed and destruction.