final picture will be revealed in the ‘Martyr’s Day Speech’ by the
LTTE Supremo on November 27, 2007, when he will declare the final
verdict on the anniversary of the deaths of members of LTTE cadres, will
declare final war.
Sri Lankan government, succumbing to international pressure to end the
ethnic clashes through peaceful means, has been inciting both peace and
on one hand, it speaks of peace to satisfy the international community,
on the other, the actions of the government’s defense attachment
officials and the hard-line parliamentarians of the ruling Sri Lanka
Freedom Party (SLFP), led by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, speak in
favour of war. These
officials and lawmakers are understood to take the war-path keep in
check, the extremist political parties, such as the Janatha Vimukthi
Peramuna (JVP) and the Jathika Hela Urumaya, and the armed dealers,
senior military officials, and Sinhala Buddhist extremist monks and the
Sinhalese on the island of Sri Lanka practice Buddhism and consider Lord
Buddha their God; the monks, who preach the lessons of Buddha to the
faithful, are embroiled in politics and have pressured the governments
in power since the first day Sri Lanka became independent from Britain,
in 1948. These monks, on
many occasions, have resorted to violent means by taking up arms against
the ethnic minority in the island. They seem to favor war in order to
wipe out the Tamils. Though it does not imply that all Buddhist monks
are extremists, but it does reveal the fact that many influential monks
speak in favour of violence.
as messengers of violence
influence of Buddha in India was positive.
As far back as 560 BC, Buddha renounced his right to rule over
the mighty kingdom he was to inherit and left his palace in Kapilavastu
in search of truth. He is
said to have wandered on foot before he settled down to meditate in
Buddha Gaye, where he founded the greatest philosophy on earth, and that
is of Ahimsa (non-violence). Thus
became Gautama Buddha out of Prince Siddhartha.
Buddha spoke in favour of oppressed people and changed the minds of
great kings and the leaders of oppressive regimes, including of the
mighty King Ashoka – the great, who embraced Buddhism and its
this is not the case in Sri Lanka, as the case may be in 1956, when the
then highly-influential Venerable Buddharakkitha Thero, heading the
great temple of Kelaniya and leader of a political organization of
Buddhist priests called the United Bhikku Front, was largely
instrumental in making SWRD Bandaranaike, the Prime Minister of the
island nation. Bandaranaike championed the cause of Buddhism and
Sinhala. Not long
thereafter, Bandaranaike, who proved to be a better Buddhist than he was
a good Christian, was murdered by Buddharakkitha Thero, with the
assistance of another monk, Somarama Thero.
Thero, though not as a Member of Parliament, did have a proxy in the
cabinet, in the form of a woman who was minister for health.
He killed Bandaranaike, not because he did not do enough for
Buddhism, but because the monk’s vested interests were being
jeopardized. It has always been difficult for monks of this
calibre to combine religious teachings with war and politics. For these
monks, turning as messengers of violence is nothing but practicing
hypocrisy as a full-time job.
Politics at the fore
monks embroil themselves in politics, politicians run the country as
their own personal fiefdoms.
Mahinda Rajapaksa, is almost running a family business, with most of his
relatives occupying high-ranking and decision-making portfolios in the
government. One of his
brothers, Basil Rajapaksa, is the Presidential Senior Advisor.
Another brother, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, who served in the Sri
Lankan military, has been appointed Defense Secretary.
And, still another brother, Chamal Rajapaksa, is the Minister of
Water and Management and Ports and Aviation.
is a costly affair
common masses, irrespective of ethnic or religious background, are
suffering due to the soaring price of commodities on the island.
Although the war between the Tamils and the Sri Lankan government
is centred in the Tamil-dominated northern and eastern provinces, the
common people in the rest of the island are suffering from the high cost
of goods and services. The unemployment rate is at a record high.
addition, the rate of exporting maids to Middle Eastern countries is on
the rise, despite regular stories that Sri Lankan maids are exploited in
all means, as they are totally at the hands of their masters.
from the neighbour
talk about our neighboring country – India, a nation with a population
of over 1.1 billion, is instituting stringent laws regarding the
recruitment of Indian women workers to the Middle East.
the backdrop of reports of serious abuses by the employers of such
women, the Indian government is inaugurating the new and tighter
regulations governing household workers on September 01, 2007.
the new restrictions, India has said that 18 countries including Saudi
Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries will be under mandatory
obligation to pay each worker a monthly salary of USD 400 and a security
deposit of USD 2,500, in the form of a bank guarantee with the Indian
mission. Members of the Sri
Lankan government, however, fear the effects of these regulations; they
fear that the revenue that they earn will come down drastically if
employers no longer hire women workers. According to them, this will
further result in affecting the overall economy of Sri Lanka, whose
population of 20 million enjoy a literacy rate of 92 percent and can
report only 5000 HIV/AIDS cases.
the rulers in Sri Lanka continue to follow the dangerous path on which
they have been since the time the island gained its independence, the
country’s people will continue to suffer, not only economically, but
also socially, culturally, and educationally.
Sri Lankan government must rebuild the country, with the support of all
ethnic and religious groups and, therefore, it must offer reasonable
demands. Since the war
broke out, over 17,000 Tamil boys and girls have given their lives for
the birth of their homeland. Over
69,000 Tamil innocents died during the three-decades-old civil conflict.
a cue, the rebels and the government of Indonesia solved the problem in
Aceh, following the tsunami of 2004.
Tsunami was a blessing in disguise as it killed over tens of
thousands of people, finally settled the Aceh conflict.
The conflict in Sri Lanka, however, continues, with a further
buildup of military overtures on both sides.
The LTTE is strengthening its military capability through naval
and air power, while the Sri Lankan government is adding MIGs to the
fleet of its air force and modern weaponry from countries like Russia,
China, Pakistan, and Israel.
a rare interview granted to the media last week, Gotabhaya Rajapksa
stated that every time the LTTE was on the verge of military defeat, it
sought a means of avoiding annihilation by using other than military
means. For example, its leader, Pirapaharan, is cunningly trying to use
the shield of ‘human rights’ to avoid the onslaught of the security
forces. “The LTTE used
India as shield during the 1980s and was now, with its accusation of
human rights abuses, using the international community to blame the Sri
Lankan government,” he had said. The President, Mahinda Rajaksa, is
himself a lawyer with a special interest in human rights; ironically,
the international community is accusing of violations.
– for whose cause and at what cost?
war-mongering increases in Colombo, the clashes between the two sides
take place in the Tamil-dominated northern and eastern provinces, with
increase in bombing, shelling, killing, torturing, kidnapping, raping,
and looting. The Tamil
civilians are stranded in the closed quarters of the Jaffna peninsula,
where they cannot even move out of their homes during the evenings and
early mornings, with fear of being kidnapped.
Sri Lankan government in a show of strength escorts in a few journalists
and diplomats, but the visitor(s) is only taken to certain areas on the
peninsula and they are not allowed to visit openly.
This is the ground-reality in Jaffna peninsula.
Politicians, including the Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, however,
assert from the safe haven of Colombo, that the people in the peninsula
are living happily. This is done even as the situation in the eastern
province is moving steadily into chaos.
the Sri Lankan armed forces and the Defense Secretary claim all areas in
the east are being liberated from the LTTE, the locals claim most jungle
areas in the region are not liberated and people in the region are
living in fear. The LTTE
fighters are present, with their heavy arms, ready to retaliate against
the Sri Lankan armed forces if the latter infiltrate further into the
jungle. The people in the
towns, cities, and villages continue to suffer from anxiety regularly
because they do not know what may happen next. All the people in the
northern and eastern provinces hear is only stories of death every day.
Unidentified armed men carry out surprise firing and then escape
easily into the areas controlled by the Sri Lankan armed forces.
a final war at bay?
the people in the LTTE-controlled areas are supportive of the LTTE, the
recent, strict rules regarding the devotion of one-child-per-family for
the war is causing considerable frustration in some families.
LTTE members are urging the one-child-per-family policy by
telling the families that the LTTE, at any time in the future, will be
launching final war, Eelam War IV, designed to liberate the Tamil
homeland from the occupation of the Sri Lankan armed forces.
The leaders also say that this final war will mean the end of war
and that the international community, too, will be ready to declare
independence for Tamil Eelam after it witnesses a successful military
victory by the Tamil Eelam armed forces (Tamil Tigers).
will all this end?
the question arises as to when the fate of the people of the north and
east will be decided, is it through war or by peaceful means. There has
been enough suffering.
sides have to decide whether an independent and sovereign Tamil Eelam
will be brought about through military means or whether the northern and
eastern provinces will be joined with the rest of the provinces and be
part of a united Sri Lanka through peaceful means.
international community must act more quickly to bring about peace or
allow the parties in the conflict to fall into all-out war rather than
engage in on-and-off clashes, which cause numerous casualties and
considerable suffering to the many innocents.
usual, the international community, the Sri Lankan government and
politicians, and the Tamils are waiting to hear the words of the LTTE
leader, Pirapahan, who is to deliver his much-awaited Martyrs’ Day
speech on November 27, 2007.
his last three speeches, Pirapahan warned the Sri Lankan governments in
power to enter into genuine peace talks or face dire consequences
through military actions. The
results, however, have not yet materialized.
The governments in power did not enter into peace; rather, they
intruded militarily into the northern and eastern parts of the island.
And, the LTTE failed to launch all-out war against the government
armed forces. The reality
is that both continue to fight and neither can declare victory.
contents of the LTTE Supremo’s Martyr’s Day speech this year is
expected to be slightly different from past warnings.
Pirapahan, in order to safeguard the people of the north and
east, to save the lives of innocents, and to keep the human rights
abuses issue in the forefront, has no other option but to enter into
genuine peace talks or declare final war, with the support of the
international community. His
speech will have considerable weight, and the results, hopefully, will
end the sufferings of the people of the north and east.
The people, however, must bear in mind that they will also have
to pay a high price for their freedom.