Selling Sri Lanka for a Few Dollars

The Peace Activists are at it again. While the LTTE terrorists are chopping peaceful farming families in the North Central Province with machetes, exploding bombs and killing civilians in Colombo and waging war to occupy more lands in the North, the Peace Activists are hard at work in the South. They are holding demonstrations, organizing public meetings and indulging in self-criticism, saying prayers and writing articles asking for a cessation of armed hostilities by the government. None would dare to do likewise in LTTE held areas where Mr. Prabhakaran has annihilated every dissenting voice among the Tamils and has ethnically cleansed his domain of all Sinhala, Muslim and Burgher races. True, Peace Activists leaders have gone to LTTE areas with their special permission. Though they genuflected before LTTE leaders (Mr. Prabhakaran doesn’t care to meet with such people in person) and come away with the story that the LTTE can only discuss peace when Tamil rights are met, i.e., when one third of Sri Lankan land area is given over to them for Eelam.

Peace Activism is a big business among some people in Sri Lankan. Peace Activists make a good living in a poor country where earnings are low. They are for ever on all-expenses paid visits to USA and Europe to address seminars and their local NGO offices in Sri Lanka with various high sounding names are fully paid for by well-wishers in Western Europe and North America. There is no money in ending terrorism. If terrorism ends, the international funds dry up.

Peace Activism in Sri Lanka attracts all kinds of ambitious adventurers looking for financial gain. The fat cats in big business in Sri Lanka also got into the act in style. These portly elderly gentlemen who push a golf ball for a few hundred yards at the Royal Colombo Golf Club and then quickly settle down for rounds of whisky sodas don’t mix with the hoi poloi at public meetings and demonstrations. Instead, they chose to lecture the political leaders in posh surroundings. Their recipe is simple: stop the war and help us in business. Their major requirement to improve business and national prosperity was to remove current labor laws: to allow them to fire workers at will, restrict trade unions and evade minimum wages. Sri Lankan workers are already among the lowest paid in the world. Unemployment and poor working conditions have already caused two major rebellions in the South by disenchanted youth.

Sri Lanka has a long history of treacherous nationals who sold their country for a little personal gain. The Portuguese, the most brutal invaders to arrive in Sri Lanka, received the Low Country South as a gift from the Don Juan Dharmapala. The Portuguese ravaged the land, tortured the people for their wealth, burnt the ancient Kelaniya Temple and Buddhist libraries, killed Buddhist priests and forcibly converted people to Catholicism. They openly mocked the Royal family in Kotte. But the Kotte royals humbled themselves in return for the promise of foreign protection and gave away the country. The people of Sitawaka had waged a ceaseless war of independence in vain. In 1815 the treacherous Kandyan chieftains were bought over by John D’Oyly and agreed to hand over their king and kingdom to the British in return for promised privileges. The Kandyan army of peasants, armed with bows and arrows, had twice decimated the mighty British armies that invaded Kandy. But their efforts were in vain. Their leaders sold out the country and were themselves later subjugated and deprived of their privileges by the British whom they had treacherously embraced.

There is no logic in the Peace Activists postures. The minorities have more rights in Sri Lanka today than in most other countries of the world. Forty per cent of the Tamil people happily live in the South, with no retaliation or discrimination for the murderous attacks by the LTTE right in the heart of Colombo. Has anyone heard of Tamils in the South fleeing into LTTE-held areas? People in LTTE held areas depend on Sri Lanka government food supplies and public servants and pensioners in those areas still draw on public funds. On the other hand, racist Tamil politicians who vociferously attack the government and the Sinhala people live in Colombo and are guarded by the police against LTTE assassination.

How does a government negotiate a peace treaty with a ruthless terrorist organization, which has the avowed aim of creating an ethnically cleansed racially biased state in one third of Sri Lanka? What are the guarantees that there will be peace thereafter? Mr. Premadasa, former President of Sri Lanka, tried peace and failed, and finally was blown to bits by an LTTE bomb. Mr. Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, tried peace by working with the LTTE and was blown up by a LTTE bomber. When the LTTE broke the cease fire agreement of the Sri Lanka government of Mr. Premadasa and attacked police stations in the Eastern Province, the government naively ordered the police to surrender to the LTTE. Six hundred police personnel were taken away by the LTTE and shot and buried in mass graves. The international community and NGOs made much publicity about mass graves in Chemmani. There were no mass graves. A total of 15 bodies were discovered in 8 gravesite when searches were made under international supervision - but no mass graves. But the question of the graves of the 600 police personnel who were murdered because the Premadasa government trusted the LTTE has raised no concern anywhere in Sri Lanka or abroad.

Atrocities regrettably committed by Sri Lankan service personnel are the work of a few criminal elements. Every human population group will include a certain number of criminals. And the government is now taking stern action against them. Four servicemen have been sentenced to death for crimes against civilians: a situation unprecedented in any country in recent times. But the LTTE massacres are planned and organized by the LTTE high command as a matter of policy: to terrify the Sri Lankan population into submission to their power with maximum brutality. The Peace Activists have nothing to say about this.

Third party mediation for a peace settlement sounds a wonderful idea to those who are unaware of the situation in Sri Lanka. They point out to Ireland and Palestine. Ireland has no bearing on Sri Lanka. Britain conquered Ireland in the past and the Irish people were butchered and their properties confiscated to be handed over to British settlers. Even today, Irish children are subdued with the whisper "Cromwell will come", as Cromwell’s armies put to death all civilians in conquered Irish towns. When the South gained freedom, the North was retained by the British and the Irish there remained in poverty as second-class citizens. Palestine is an interesting example of international mediation. The Norwegians negotiated the initial breakthrough and the US finally brought out an agreement, which was signed in the White House under the eyes of a triumphant President Clinton. But the Israelis breached the agreement and every subsequent negotiation meant that more concessions had to be ceded by the Palestinians with no end in sight yet. If the US government cannot broker an agreement, no one else can. It all comes down to good faith. There is no good faith among LTTE terrorists.

The campaigns of the Peace Activists will ensure that the LTTE will triumph militarily and carve up a substantial portion of the country to their rule. Already, their campaigns have demoralized the soldiers in the war front. The army is too small to guard against the terrorists who are disguised among the civilian population throughout the country. Its sacrifices are ridiculed by these very people they are trying to protect. At the same time, LTTE broadcasts in Sinhala seeking to cause disaffection among the soldiers who are working lengthy front line duty spells under poor conditions. The Colombo middle-class is totally unconcerned about the sufferings of their fellow Sri Lankans, both Sinhala and Tamil, in the North and East. They make money during the day and party in style by night. A wealthy upper middle-class lady in Colombo told the author: "We pay taxes and it is the duty of the army to protect us against attacks. It is not our job to sympathize or help them." Peace Activists have excellent support among these people.

Since the LTTE is a one party military dictatorship with an Absolute Leader, it will ensure that the population in that area will live in servitude. It is certain that over time this will erode the democratic process in the rest of the country as well and wipe out Sri Lanka as a nation. The Peace Activists will then happily migrate to the West with their ill-gotten gains and write a few more books, give a few more paid talks, and earn more money.