Giving-up the ‘bush’ for the
Dwelling at length on the reintegration of one time
LTTE combatants to mainstream local society, Defence and Urban
Development Ministry Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa told the
Defence Seminar 2012 on Wednesday that it was a highly welcome
development that scores of one time LTTE armed cadres are today
not only leading perfectly normal lives but are actively
involved in politics.
That is, the ex-militants have broken with the bush or jungle
and have taken to the political platform in a major way.
Persuasive oratory and other people-friendly, non-lethal skills
of the politician have taken the place of guns and bombs, which
proved handy for the militant in the bush.
Indeed, there is at least one former LTTE militant who is
today the Chief Minister of a province. Besides, others who at
one time had taken up arms against the state in the North-East
and were in guerrilla fatigues are today donning the official
attire of ministers and deputy ministers, besides that of other
These are some of the wonders of the democratic process and
it would be no exaggeration to state that we have evidence here
of the robustness of Lankan democracy.
Besides, there is the accommodative nature of the Lankan
state that needs to be taken into consideration. Where the
hardcore LTTE leadership went wrong is that they disdainfully
rejected out of hand the offer by President Rajapaksa to resolve
their issues at the negotiating table.
They were given ample opportunities to down arms and take to
talks but they chose to do otherwise and invited on themselves
the military option, which was reserved only as an alternative
means by the state of resolving the conflict.
If the hardcore of the LTTE had given talks a chance,
perhaps, the course of events in the North would have taken a
But it reflects very well on the Mahinda Rajapaksa
administration to be now paving the way for remaining former
LTTE cadres to return to normal civilian life.
As could be seen, the reintegration programme for these
cadres is proving highly beneficial and scores of these
ex-militants are acquiring the necessary job and vocational
skills and are leading useful and productive lives in civil
The message that is being sent forth by the state through
this policy of giving these former combatants a second chance is
that the state and the larger society care for them, since they
have now shunned the path of armed militancy and have opted for
the democratic way of life.
These opportunities to enter mainstream life and to lead a
productive existence should remain open to the one-time
militants of the North-East because therein lies the answer to
their disaffection. Indeed, these conditions should exist
countrywide if social stability is to be ensured.
Whether the bloody youth rebellions were in the North-East or
South, it was the lack of opportunity and the deprivation of
equity that essentially led them to take up arms against the
state. One could be glad that these realities are being
countenanced by the state and other responsible quarters.
What the foregoing also establishes is that the democratic
process should remain open to receive all those who have a
grouse against the state and the prevailing social order. The
democratic system must not only remain open but prove beyond
doubt that the just demands of the disaffected and the unhappy
could be resolved as a result of the discontented entering it
and seeking to meet their legitimate needs through it. That is,
the existing political order must be vibrant enough to serve the
just needs of all.
It needs to be also understood that nobody is born a
‘terrorist’. No person or group is naturally inclined to do
evil. It is prevailing injustices that incline persons to be
militant and violent. Accordingly, social justice must prevail
if we are to have durable peace and security.