The dissolution and the dismantling of the LTTE is not a defeat for the Tamils. Sri Lankans have a rich ethos of togetherness at all social levels to bind the nation which was disturbed by separatist forces with the connivance of mischievous NGO elements. Majority of the Tamils are law abiding citizens of whom few became terrorists. These terrorists were the deadliest in the world and subjugated the Tamils wherever they were, to become captive pawns; Tamils without a political and national leadership were incapable of countering the strategies of the terrorists.
Unfortunately Tigers political lackeys, the TNA sold their soul to the terrorists and presently are in hiding. Lack of political leadership with foresight and flexibility is a problem that Tamils have encountered and which they themselves will have to overcome in the coming months. Muslims and Sinhalese have diverse leadership to give alternate platforms sadly absent for the Tamils since the LTTE destroyed their political nurseries as they were not tolerant to political diversity.
Presently Tamils are not identifying themselves with the terrorists almost on the verge of defeat or the TNA which are the front men for the terrorists. Soon, the LTTE will become an embarrassment. Many Tamils, some under duress, yet never did over- identify with the LTTE except the Diaspora (nobodies abroad, wanting to be some bodies at home on return and were duly exploited by the terrorists) and those attached to the NGO sector; in the glory days of the LTTE most did cheer their achievements to have a pledge with a potential winner and for the sake of an common ethnic background.( To add flavor interested foreign countries and their NGO agents were bent on securing a military defeat of the armed forces and make the LTTE the winner at the negotiation table) .
They were proud of their own "boys" trashing legitimate governments which none can be proud of except to those deriving benefits and which governments were blowing hot and cold with the LTTE. (To the credit of Mahinda Rajapakse and Gothabhaya Rajapakse they have taken a positive unwavering stand against the LTTE which has paid rich dividends though in other respects this government is no different to previous governments. But on the prime national issue Mahinda Rajapakse administration has shown positive results none can dispute and deserve acclaim) But the LTTE, like the SLFP or UNP will be treated like trash immediately on defeat but always a revival is a possible like with the political parties of the South, unless the Tamils are weaned away from their present mind set.
The mischief makers will set an agenda for the Tamils which will be unreasonable and unattainable. This would be the next game plan of the NGO poodles once there is no war for them to peddle. They need causes to be kept alive permanently to attract foreign sponsors for financial support to maintain their current lifestyles.
The Tamils must establish their grievances are legitimate and the government must examine and satisfy their validity and thereupon ensure that remedies of a lasting nature are provided while assuring that no harm befalls the other communities. Tamils, if they fall prey to extreme elements and the NGO community; if the Sinhala leadership listens to the fanatic elements- the hand of friendship cannot be extended in the hour of need, after the culmination of the War. It is the Sinhalese being the majority that must act with maturity. The end of the War may not necessary mean the end of terrorism as there would be pockets of resistance that again will surface unless the minorities can be assisted to overcome their legitimate grievances.
The War must end with the psychology there are no victor and vanquished except the terrorists and terrorism. The Tamils must allow a national leadership to evolve from within their own sources in the absence of an effective leadership and not permit the NGO community, to be the path finders fishing in troubled waters to take them on a route to clash with other communities with demands that are not possible to grant which could lay the groundwork for a fresh secession movement. Minorities can gain much if they can convince the majority that they do not make claims that give rise to separatism.
It has to be conceded terrorism would have succeeded if not for the valiant efforts of the less privileged sections of the majority community who displayed bare bodied patriotism against sophisticated opposition from local and international elite forces. They were not the sons and daughters from the drawing rooms of Colombo 7; majority of whom were clandestine comrades of the terrorists through the upbringing of an unrefined culture. The middle class and the poor have sacrificed so much not to permit the division of the country with their blood sweat and toil by permitting their children to serve in the armed forces, notwithstanding campaigns such as Sudu Nelum initiated by some who are still cabinet ministers. The credit for crushing terrorism is with the armed forces and the supporting patriotic elements. If the People did not support the War Machine it would not have succeeded especially as most of the UNP rebels holding Cabinet portfolios presently were in the vanguard of movements to stall the war. Having fought against such odds it is the entitlement of the People to ask the rulers to leave no door open to maneuver an operation to sow the seeds of secession by way of federalism or otherwise.
Most of the present problems are common to all communities- nevertheless after a 30 year war, it is necessary to be gracious as to display good faith of a caring majority for the legitimate grievances of the minorities and such statesmanship is required in guiding the nation. The benevolence can be achieved only by the forces that gave leadership to the downfall of the terrorists and not by those who assisted the LTTE to survive and strengthen itself as the patriotic forces have to be rallied again to establish harmony between the communities. Otherwise a cry of a sell out could reverberate from the masses that sacrificed their lives and limbs, stoically and steadfastly stood with the armed forces at crisis time when the terrorists targeted civilians. This requires priority attention in a nation building exercise. The Sinhala majority should give leadership to achieve these objectives to convince the Tamils of their sincerity. It is the Sinhalese leadership that must be in the forefront of the struggle to attend to the legitimate grievances of the minorities, after the annihilation of the terrorists. It would be an ideal rejoinder to the cries of federalism which can lay the seeds to futuristic secession movements that will once again surface after the defeat of the present terrorists to breed fresh terrorism. Grievances of the minorities can be addressed forthwith without the tinkering of Constitution which is an impossibility to amend with provisions dealing with 2/3 majorities and a referendum. Therefore a pragmatic and a priority approach are paramount and not introduce weird provisions as in the Bill of 2000 of Chandrika Kumaranatunga which were fortunately shot down at conception.
Some of the prime grievances of the Tamils can be identified as follows:-
1. Failure to implement language provisions enshrined in the law
2. Security Concerns
3 Acquistion of Land and payment of compensation and/or release
4. Land and Water
5. Child Recruitment
6. Lack of development
7. Multi ethnic defense and police force
8. Lack of Employment opportunities
9. Rehabilitation of internally displaced persons
10. Inadequate infrastructural benefits
The fly in the ointment could be the Muslims if they succumb to extreme elements or to the SLMC (which had an Understanding with the LTTE) and attempt to exploit the situation at the expense of the two major communities seeking to extract unfair benefits. It is the Muslims that have been at the mercy of the worst form of ethnic cleansing at the hand of the LTTE which has gone unnoticed due to the hibernation of their political leadership. Eastern Province Muslims stood as a bulwark against the thrust of the terrorists. Fortunately the Muslim community has varied shades of political opinion and has acted with restrain and maturity at times of crisis.
However the legitimacy of these grievances needs examination. Some are common to all communities. These are issues that have to be attended to by the central government and not by provincial authorities. In any event the Provincial Council system has proved to be a colossal failure-another in the series of blunders made by J.R.Jayawardane who can be described as the father of terrorism in the North and the South with Prabhakaran and Wijeweera as the offsprings.
The satisfaction of the grievances will directly benefit the minorities while devolution alone will enhance powers acquired by politicians and how much of it will trickle down to the constituents, as past experience has shown, is doubtful. Provincial Council and the conduct of its members at elections and thereafter, is a sufficient illustration. Naturally politicians will seek devolution for their own enhancement of power. However if grievances are eliminated or reduced, the minorities as individuals, will be satisfied their needs have received attention and leaves less room for another Prabhakaran to emerge. Devolution alone can breed more Valatharaja Perumals and his legion of Ministers with a declaration of an independent state and federalism will be the spring board continuous power struggle between the centre and the periphery.
In the context of the military efforts to thwart terrorism, defense related matters such as police powers and right to state lands for defense purposes such as High Security Zones (until the threat of separatism fades away) are necessary instruments to abort separatism in the future. Therefore the 13th Amendment can be implemented taking into consideration time frames and security concerns mindful that terrorism has yet not being eradicated. Therefore after 20 years of the unsuccessful 13th Amendment imposed by India on a feeble J.R.Jayawardane, it requires a revisit for rectification because it has failed to deter separatism the purpose for which it was enacted; simple statutory provisions could be utilized for transitional purposes to guarantee future generations do not experience the dislocation suffered by those among the living due to brutal terrorism primarily directed at innocent civilians. Grievances must be on a faster track than devolution if the minorities are to be satisfied swiftly. If it is to pamper- minority politicians, NGOs, foreign governments- look to the devolution road map which will be a longer and hazardous route for benefits, if at all, to reach the people but a short cut for politicians to gain power and fortune,
Wars never create permanent enemies. Though Americans made a holocaust of Nagasaki and Hiroshima after World War II relations between Japan and the USA were more cordial after the War than any time before the War and has remained so for over 50 years. So is it between Germany and the rest of Europe after the Second World War. Nevertheless, as a safety valve, after the victories, as an enlightened measure the Allied Forces ensured that history will not repeat itself by leaving any opportunity for a Hitler in Germany or a War Command in Japan to emerge. But it was the harsh and the humiliating treatment accorded to the Germans after World War I that enabled Hitler to come to the forefront. A lesson was learnt and the spirit of goodwill was extended to the people of the defeated nations after World War II. Relationships are again cordial between Argentina and United Kingdom notwithstanding the Falkland War. Similarly the relationships between Vietnam and the USA or between Vietnam and China are most cordial-though both those countries fought against Ho Chin Minh's North Vietnamese Forces in the Indo-China War. For the communities to work in harmony after a War is an achievable phenomenon provided the leadership is statesmanlike and can convince their electorates that it is in the interest of the nation that harmony must be maintained and concessions made. But no germ should be permitted to remain to resurrect terrorism or secession otherwise the bravery and stoic nature of the people in overcoming the LTTE would be in vain.
Those who did not want terrorism defeated will now wear new masks to defeat reconciliation by urging impossible demands. Friends of terrorism are worse than terrorists because they survive to unsettle another day on another front.