February 28, 2002
This refers to your editorial “Declawing the Tigers” (National Post – February 23 2002). The editorial is reflective of your innate prejudice against Tamils in general and LTTE in particular. As the editor of a conservative newspaper with a right wing agenda, it is a waste of time trying to convince you about the legitimacy of the Tamil national liberation struggle. This is because you have already made up your mind that a national liberation war is “terrorism” which no doubt fits your political philosophy. In this respect you are in good company with persons like Rob Anders, Canadian National Alliance M.P. who dubbed Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa a “terrorist.”
If you have any civility left in you, you should have accepted the explanation by the organizers of the dinner that it was to celebrate a cultural event. Instead you unashamedly continue to describe the dinner hosted by FACT as a fund raising event despite repeated denials by the organizers. One cannot raise funds by dining in a five star hotel after paying $60 per a plate. If the dinner was indeed for fundraising, I am sure the organizers would have owned-up because that is not a crime.
You blame Velupillai Prabhakaran for the two decades old war when you should know that wars are caused by large social and economic forces and not by individuals. In that case you might as well blame Abraham Lincoln for the American civil war.
In any event, the demand for Tamil Eelam is not the brainchild of Prabhakaran or the LTTE. Years before in 1976, the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF) passed a resolution to RESTORE (emphasis mine) " a free, sovereign, secular, socialist State of Tamil Eelam based on the right to self-determination to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil nation in the country.” To enforce the resolution, the TULF sought and obtained a mandate at the parliamentary elections held in 1977 by winning 18 out of 23 seats it contested in the Northeast.
So in effect Prabhakaran is merely carrying the cross of the Tamil people’s aspiration for freedom handed over to him by the TULF.
You posed the question “How many hundreds of Sri Lankan lives would have been saved if Canada had acted to shut down Tiger financing in 2000 -- or even earlier, as the United States did -- rather than waiting till after Sept. 11?”
There are always two sides to a story. My answer to your question is “Tiger financing” SAVED thousands of defenceless Tamils getting slaughtered by the Sri Lankan army (99% Sinhalese). If not for the “Tiger financing” the death toll would not be 60,000 (90% Tamils), but 160,000 or more.
You should by now understand that Tamils are fighting a war in self-defence against an invading army after exhausting peaceful methods of protest. Suppose the role is reversed, Tamils a majority and the Sinhalese a minority, the latter would have resisted the hegemonic rule by the Tamils in the same way, if not more forcefully.
You are dead wrong in assuming that post September 11 events influenced the LTTE decision to enter into peace talks. Long before September 11, in November 1999, Prabhakaran in his Heroes Day speech declared:
“Though the LTTE stands today as a formidable force, with the military capability to liberate our homeland, we have not abandoned the path of peace. We want to resolve the Tamil conflict through peaceful means, through civilized methods without recourse to bloodbath and destruction of life.”
The LTTE leader was referring to the military success of Unceasing Wave 111 operation, a unique historical achievement in the art of contemporary warfare, which saw the sudden collapse of a colossal military structure with its multiple military complexes, well-fortified bases in Vanni like houses built on sand!
Prabhakaran re-iterated his desire for a peaceful in 2000 as well after the LTTE captured the well-fortified Elephant Pass military base described by defence analysts as the gateway to Jaffna peninsula. This is what he said:
“Our liberation organization is prepared to participate in negotiations to find a political solution to the ethnic conflict through peaceful means. We are not opposed to peaceful process of resolving conflicts. Nor we are reluctant to engage in peaceful dialogue. We are seeking a negotiated settlement that would be fair, just and equitable and that it would satisfy the political aspirations of the Tamil people.” (Prabhakaran’s Heroes Day Speech-November, 2000)
To prove its commitment to a negotiated political settlement, LTTE declared a unilateral cease-fire for 4 long months commencing from December 24, 2000 which came to an end when the government failed to reciprocate.
Your enterprising columnist Stewart Bell also suffers from selected amnesia. He also claims “ the international terrorist crackdown that followed Sept. 11 has forced Mr. Prabhakaran to settle for less. Blacklisted around the world for their terrorist tactics, the Tamil Tigers have been losing both their legitimacy and outside sources of support.” (Sri Lankan guerrilla dream comes to an end- National Post, February 23, 2002)
While comment is his prerogative, he should learn to respect facts. Does the signing of the cease-fire agreement brokered by the Royal Norwegian government between Prabhakaran and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe indicates “loss of legitimacy” or "gain of legitimacy"? In any case, LTTE derives its legitimacy from near unanimous support of the Tamil people.
Stewart Bell has also parrot-like repeated the charge without a shred of evidence that “The Canadian Security Intelligence Service has estimated the Tigers raise $2-million a year in Canada through donations, as well as an unknown sum garnered through extortion, fraud, theft, migrant smuggling, passport forgery and other crimes.” If “unknown sum is garnered through extortion, fraud, theft, migrant smuggling, passport forgery and other crimes” is indeed true, then what is the Canadian law enforcement authorities are doing about such illegal activities?
In the same vein I can also quote Sri Lankan intelligence sources saying that Stewart Bell is in the payroll of the Sri Lankan government; it funded his trip to Jaffna when Northeast was closed to local and foreign media etc. May I respectively submit that this type of yellow journalism is unworthy of even tabloid newspapers! Stewart Bell’s mischievous journalistic concoction is extremely derogatory of the Tamil Canadians.
Finally I wish to make it clear that Tamil Diaspora is not unduly concerned about the label “terrorist” or “front” attached to those who support the LTTE. Tamils owe no one an apology for supporting the LTTE. Tamils will continue to support the cause one hundred percent, but not necessarily all the means to achieve that objective.