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Peace and World Opinion”- A Reply to Editoral in 'Daily News'

By V. Thangavelu, Canada
[TIS Group]

February 17, 2003

The editor
Daily News
Colombo.

Dear editor,

This refers to your editorial “Peace and World Opinion” (Daily News –February 7, 2003).

As the mouthpiece of the GOSL you are in the business of disseminating false information bordering propaganda on behalf of your paymasters.

You quote with glee that Richard L Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State of the United States have asked the LTTE to “renounce violence” which you characterize it as “terror.” This is consistent with the Sinhala establishment’s stance that the liberation struggle spearheaded by the LTTE is terrorism. The logic is that the Sri Lankan state can drop bombs and kill Thamil men, women and children but the LTTE has no such right to retaliate in self-defence.

Now to Armitage, you seem to be suffering from selective amnesia since Anton Balasingham has replied a similar call by him at the Oslo Conference held in Norway.

This is what Armitage told the LTTE at Oslo “We urge the LTTE to go one step further and add to this commitment a public renunciation of terrorism and of violence – to make it clear to the people of Sri Lanka and indeed to the international community – that the LTTE has abandoned its armed struggle for a separate state; and instead accepts the sovereignty of a Sri Lankan government that respects and protects he rights of all its people. In turn, the LTTE should affirm the fundamental human rights of all Sri Lankans – not just the right to life – but to free speech – to participate in governance – to associate freely – and to enjoy the full protection of the rule of law.”

In reply to Armitage’s unsolicited advice Anton Balasingham gave a fitting but dignified reply. He said, “Of course we do not agree with Mr. Armitage's concepts of terrorism and violence. As far as we are concerned the ceasefire document amply demonstrates the intention of both the parties, not only the LTTE but also both parties to cease all forms of violence. I have indicated in my brief statement the roots of the armed conflict. If these root causes are eliminated then there is no need for violence. “

Anton Balasingham’s response should have ended the debate about LTTE’s “terrorism” and “violence” but you continue to flog the dead horse!

You should by now know the difference between national liberation struggle and terrorism. Firstly what distinguishes national liberation struggle from terrorism is popular support. Secondly national liberation struggle has well defined political goals while terrorism has none. In the case of Al Qaeda, blind religious fanaticism drives them to commit terror against innocent people.

The distinction between the two was amply explained by the British Foreign Office Minister Mike O'Brien in January 2003 when he said, “that the global war against terrorism may be long drawn out because the Al Qaeda has an agenda with which there cannot be negotiations, unlike the LTTE and the IRA who have political goals.” He was speaking on 'New Threats to International Security' at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo on January 29,2003. (TamilNet)

You also say the serious incident at Manipay was due to “LTTE cadres including some women created an incident that required……….’’ It is not the LTTE cadres but the Sinhala soldiers who in the first place tried to remove the belts worn by the LTTE women cadres by force.

In doing so the army was usurping the functions of the police. It is not the responsibility of the army to maintain law and order. Not only the army thugs attacked the unarmed LTTE cadres with knives, iron bars, batons, long sticks and wires, they also attacked the civilians who went to the assistance of the LTTE men and women. (Incidentally this disproves the pet theory that LTTE does not enjoy support of the Thamil people and that any show of support is due to the guns they carry.)

About the postponement of the opening of the library, you should understand that the LTTE has nothing to do with it. The publicity hungry Mayor and members who had only 3 days left in office wanted to open the unfinished library so that they could bask in the glow of borrowed glory! This is a weakness, which is refusing to die among some politicians.

It is not the LTTE cadres but the racist Sinhala armed forces, which is refusing to come to terms with the cease-fire. They are dancing to the tune and jumping to the orders of Commandeer-in-Chief Chandrika Kumaratunga who is calling for the dis-armament of the LTTE. She wants to stall and scuttle the peace process so that she can plunge the country once again in a blood bath with the battle cry “War for Peace.” Truly and verily she is stoking the flames of war in a marriage of convenience with the racist JVP.

Presently the government of Ranil Wickremesinghe finds it difficult to enforce discipline in the army. The army is breaching the terms of the MoU by refusing to vacate homes, buildings, hospitals and schools. It is tying the humanitarian issue of resettlement of IDPs within HSZs to de-commission of arms by the LTTE.

The crux of the matter is that although there is a ceasefire in force, the Sinhala armed forces mind set is that of an occupation force lording over the enslaved Thamil people. They are unable to jettison this medieval mindset. A million Thamil people are still awaiting resettlement and rehabilitation in their homes one year after the signing of the MoU.

You also seem to suffer from self-delusion that “US and other states have banned the LTTE and US would consider lifting the ban when it is convinced the LTTE has “moved beyond the terror tactics of the past.” The LTTE is not a banned organization in the US. The US government has only designated the LTTE as one of thirty “foreign terrorist organizations.” This has in practice only a marginal effect on the activities of the LTTE. Collecting funds for procurement of arms is illegal but collecting funds for humanitarian cause like medical aid is not illegal. The LTTE is also free to pursue its political aims, a right protected under the First Amendment.

The editor should know that the ban and designation imposed on the LTTE have not prevented the recapture of Vanni heartland or the capture of Elephant Pass, PalAly etc.

Finally, it is the Sri Lankan armed forces and not the LTTE which is trying to torpedo the peace process. The armed forces have developed a vested interest in prolonging the war to safeguard their jobs, titles, perks and ambassadorial postings after retirement.

The LTTE is sincerely committed to peace, but that does not mean that the LTTE could be browbeaten to accept peace without justice.

Yours truly,

 

V.Thangavelu

 

February 12,203

The editor
Gulf News
Dubai.

Dear editor

Your news item “Two injured as Tigers attack rival Tamil Office” is factually incorrect, completely biased and totally ill informed. The manipulation or massage of the relevant news is nothing short of downright falsification. Your correspondent  is trying to make a living as a journalist at the backs of Thamils.

Sinha Ranatunga who I believe is the editor of Sunday Times is an unashamed champion of Sinhala racism. He uses his pen to spit venom and vituperation against Thamils and Thamil aspirations. Being a Sinhala racist he lacks the objectivity and neutrality required of a press correspondent.

The office of the EPDP was fired at is a fact. But “Tamil Tigers sprayed a rival political office with machine gunfire..” is fiction and came out of the head of your imaginative news correspondent. It is said that a dog lifts its leg even if the stone hits its head! Likewise enterprising correspondents like Sinha Ranatunga attribute all the sins, in this instance the firing, to the Tigers irrespective of the truth.  

You say “ the clash broke out after the military prevented two female members from entering a government –controlled area because they were weaving leather belts part of the LTTE military uniform” is again factually incorrect. The number of LTTE female members involved was eight not two. The belts they were wearing were  not made out of leather , but  made out of clothe.

The banning of LTTE cadres wearing belts by the army is illegal. They have no such powers. If wearing belts contravenes the MoU then the army should report the matter to the SLMM for a ruling.

For your information army personnel both in uniform and in civvies at Manipay check point used force to remove the belts worn by the LTTE cadres.  Army and Police riot squads who joined in the attack used batons, long sticks, iron bars and knives to attack the unarmed LTTE women. They also attacked civilians who rushed to their assistance and protested the attack on LTTE cadres. All eight of the LTTE fighters were injured in the attack and all were later transferred to an LTTE hospital in Vanni.  Four of them suffered serious injuries, including cuts to their faces.  

Local press reporters were attacked and the attackers damaged the digital camera of one of them.   

One need not be a political scientist to conclude that the attack was racially motivated by an undisciplined Sinhala army that is notorious for human rights violations.  The Sinhala army considers itself as a conquering army lording over those it conquered! This is the mind-set and that was the cause for the cowardice attack on unarmed LTTE female cadres. 

This type of mis-reporting will continue as long as you have Sinha Ranatunga as your correspondent. Employing him as your correspondent to report on Thamil affairs is akin to asking the fox to report on the affairs of the chicken!

I consider this news seriously flawed, unworthy of print  and cast unnecessary aspersions on the Thamil struggle in  general and the LTTE in particular. I hope you will avoid this type of sloppy and slanderous reporting in future.

 

Yours truly,

 

Veluppillai Thangavelu

Tel 416 281 1165
56 Littles Road, Scarborough
Ontario. M1B 5 C5