A week ago, some one in Colombo sent me a note saying that the war has come to a grinding halt. According to him there were two specific reasons. One, the Rajapaksha regime has been baffled by the Tamil Tigers’ below the radar aerial attacks. Two, Rajapaksha brothers’ [Government is run like a family business] popularity is taking a nose dive and the mass support is threatened.
Internationally, Rajapaksha still seem to be the “our kind-a-guy”. There is still considerable covert support for the war machinery. The rhetoric however is, the Tiger terrorism has to be stopped. India is working over time behind the scenes. The UK Labour Government is willing to be a go-between for peace negotiations. But the Sinhala ultra-nationalists have made an uproar of disapproval against the British government’s involvement. ‘This is a national matter; leave it to us to solve the problem’ they protest. In other words, the Sinhala masses want Rajapaksha to continue the war against the Tamils. And win it.
The point is, this is hardly any longer a national matter. International involvement is inevitable. Both the ultra-nationalists and the international globalisers agree on a single point. The latter covertly and the first overtly. Both want war in the name of war against terror. Already, the US has signed up for further arms deals. Put it simply, the idea is, beat the Tamil Tigers to the negotiating table.
The human rights situation in Sri Lanka, particularly among the Tamil territories, is lamentable. A humanitarian worker recently described to me that, the communities are divided by fear and torture and barbed wires. There are visible barbed wires and there are invisible barbed wires, he explained. People’s minds and mouths are gagged. They are neither allowed to think for themselves nor are they permitted to speak for themselves. It is the barrel of the gun that speaks.
The problem is, the difference between the organ grinder and the monkey has blurred. Everyone lurks like a ghost. Fear rules.
Tamils have suffered more than half-a-century. And they want justice, peace and prosperity. REAL peace in which they can live with the dignity of difference.
It is worth quoting here what Simon Hughes (who is a constitutional expert) said on May 2 2007 during the British Parliamentary debate on Sri Lanka:
The Government of Sri Lanka must not run away from the need to accept that there will have to be autonomy and a democratic process. The people must be allowed to vote freely and decide which parts of Sri Lanka should have self-government. If Ukraine , which I respect greatly, can give self-government to Crimea and life can go on, Sri Lanka must give self-government to the Tamils, where they want it.
Of course, that does not mean that all the people in Tamil areas will be Tamils, just as in Northern Ireland communities are not confined to particular areas; Tamils will live in Colombo , just as Sinhalese will live on the east coast and in the north. There must be access. The roads have to be open so that people can travel. There must be no no-go areas. However, we have to make sure that the Government of Sri Lanka understand that they will not make progress unless they accept the principle of self-government.
Tragically in Sri Lanka however, the observation of Karl Marx is hardly ever found to be fallible:
History repeats itself, first as a tragedy, then as a farce.