War?


by Rohin
27th April, 2006 at 2:23 am    

Sri Lanka’s fragile peace continues to be eroded. Until we do piece together a more substantial post (and we welcome contributions), I thought I would get the debate started.

A suicide attack and a familiar Tiger denial. Retaliatory government air strikes and a mass exodus. Are we watching a country once more plunge headlong into war? There does remain a possibility of resolving this latest escalation in tension with talks, as President Rajapakse has suggested this – albeit wrapped in an ultimatum to the LTTE. Meanwhile the rebels have appealed to the international community to put pressure on the government to stop what they see as a “genocidal attempt on the Tamil-speaking people.”

Norway has acted as mediator between the two sides for many years and the small contingent of international ceasefire monitors and Norwegian mediators has stated they no longer feel they can cope without backup. An emergency meeting, however, has been called for Friday this week.

40,000 have fled Trinco, the last two days have seen at least 100 dead and Tamil Nadu’s coast has been put on alert. Indian police have been patrolling looking for boats landing and warning residents that Tigers may arrive posing as refugees.

TT:


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Filed in: Current affairs,South Asia,Sri Lanka






19 Comments below   |  

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  1. Sunny — on 27th April, 2006 at 3:24 am  

    Kesara is writing something on this too, so it would be interesting to get his thoughts.

    Kesara – when you’re done just email it to me mate.

  2. Geezer — on 27th April, 2006 at 9:13 am  

    War looks like a foregone conclusion now…How sad to see this beautiful nation and a fellow South Asian state plunged into darkness once more. It was just yesterday the Tsunami struck and now this.

  3. Prescott_Luva67 — on 27th April, 2006 at 10:20 am  

    I sent you a comment sunny – its pretty long though :(

  4. raz — on 27th April, 2006 at 1:51 pm  

    “Meanwhile the rebels”

    Interesting choice of words there.

  5. Rohin — on 27th April, 2006 at 2:12 pm  

    Is it that interesting? Are they not rebelling against the government? Hence, rebels. Doesn’t mean they’re wrong or right. And to be honest I was a bit drowsy and just paraphrasing from a WSJ article (IIRC). I just wanted to vary the syntax instead of always saying ‘Tigers’. I do try to stay as neutral as I can, for someone who studies in Tamil Tooting, is best friends with several Sinhala and Tamil people and has worked in Tamil and Sinhala Sri Lanka. I try!

  6. Sunny — on 27th April, 2006 at 2:27 pm  

    I don’t see why we’re mincing our words. Anyone who kills innocent people is a terrorist, and that goes for the LTTE too.

  7. Roger — on 27th April, 2006 at 3:37 pm  

    ” Anyone who kills innocent people is a terrorist, and that goes for the LTTE too. ”
    It goes for the Sri Lankan government and every other government too then.
    It is inevitable that innocent people will die in warfare. The test of terrorism is whether they are deliberately killed, what steps are taken to avoid killing them as a side-effect of killing legitimate targets, the comparative importance of the deaths of the legitimate targets killed and the innocent people involved, how innocent they actually are and many other factors. I agree about LTTE- its tactics destroy any moral rights they have, but we can only differentiate between bad and worse, not good and bad.

  8. Amit — on 27th April, 2006 at 4:46 pm  

    I have a somewhat wierd perspective on this whole thing. One of my closest friends is blood-related to the presidential family.

    My brother in law used to be an active member of the LTTE and suffered horrendous torture at the hands of the gov’t.

    Roger said: I agree about LTTE- its tactics destroy any moral rights they have, but we can only differentiate between bad and worse, not good and bad.

    I whole heartedly agree with you.

    Sunny: I also think the word terrorist should not be solely used for suicide bombers. Anyone individual or organisation that tries to attain it’s aims through killing or torturing the innocent should be classed as a “terrorist” organisation and this includes the gov’ts

    There just doesn’t seem to be any active diplomacy being undertaken to resolve any of the issues that have been faced by the nation and no foreign gov’ts or the UN seem to want to get involved. As long as this is the case the problems will continue.

  9. Ismaeel — on 27th April, 2006 at 6:01 pm  

    It’s interesting that the LTTE are accusing the SL government of arming the LTTE break away faction in the east.
    There were similar rumours that the SL govt had armed the LTTE to drive out the Indian peace keepers all those years ago.
    I have also heard rumours that political gangs helped the LTTE bomb the temple of the tooth.

  10. Ismaeel — on 27th April, 2006 at 6:08 pm  

    The reality is that the continued civil war is in alot of people’s vested interests. Ironically the democratic system in Sri Lanka has been a block on making peace. Neither of the two major parties wants to allow the other to take credit for achieving peace while they were in power and they consistantly work against each other- ensuring peace cannot be broken.

    Talking of terrorism in the SL context, let us not forget the Buddhist Monk fuelled terrorism from the assasination of a President to their backing of the JVP: An unholy Marxist-Sinhalese Nationalist-Buddhist terrorist trinity.

  11. Prescott_Luva67 — on 27th April, 2006 at 8:45 pm  

    >>An unholy Marxist-Sinhalese Nationalist-Buddhist terrorist trinity.

    A good 95% of Buddhists will think they suck balls and any monks actively getting involved with the political system of violence (ie the JVP Marxists) are on the wrong planet as this contradicts the philosophy they have undertaken to follow. The main Buddhist Sangha do not support any JVP terrorists.

    I detest the JVP as much as the LTTE but they’re a political party now, they gave up armed struggle and took to democratic means.
    They arn’t terrorists anymore.

    >>Buddhist Monk fuelled terrorism from the assasination of a President to their backing of the JVP

    Twas a Prime Minister, in 1956 mind ye.
    President Ranasinghe Premadasa was killed by the LTTE.
    Just to clarify that.

    I’d like to take the ‘terrorist’ definition a tad further and suggest that any organisation that actively targets civillians as part of it’s tactical and strategic military doctrine is a terrorist group.
    Ideally we’d see a survey amoungst members of both insurgent groups and government forces everywhere:

    On a scale of 1 -10 how acceptable is the premeditated targeting of civillians to one’s strategic objectives?
    (8 iPods to give away!)

    Dare I say it but I think you ll find fewer Govt troops willing to target civvies.

    I agree with Rodger though – theres bad (SL Govt) and the LTTE (worse) in terms of the country at large.

  12. Sunny — on 27th April, 2006 at 11:57 pm  

    Yes, governments do kill innocent people too. But if they have a due process to make sure that when innocent people are killed then there is an investigation or re-criminations then it is a different thing.

    I really have little time or respect for any organisation that kills innocent people in achieving its aims.

  13. SajiniW — on 28th April, 2006 at 8:57 am  

    The JVP hate anyone who isn’t ultimately a communist/ hardcore socialist. They’ve killed people from all ends of the political/ethnic spectrum.

  14. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 12:43 pm  

    Thanks for the corrections, however the last time I was in SL (last summer)the JVP were actively getting support from members of the Buddhist clergy.

    I’d like to take the ‘terrorist’ definition a tad further and suggest that any organisation that actively targets civillians as part of it’s tactical and strategic military doctrine is a terrorist group.

    I agree wholeheartadly

  15. Roger — on 28th April, 2006 at 1:13 pm  

    ” any organisation that actively targets civillians as part of it’s tactical and strategic military doctrine is a terrorist group.”
    In that case it’s legitimate to kill a soldier but not a weapon designer.
    Are the Israelis terrorists when they kill officials and activists of HAMAS even though they are surrounded by civilians, some of whom are killed with them? Or are the members of HAMAS responsible because they hid themselves among civilians? Or does it depend on how senior the target is and how many civilians are killed- a moral calculus?

  16. Ismaeel — on 28th April, 2006 at 2:36 pm  

    Well the same question can be asked about off duty soldiers inside Israel’s towns and cities.

  17. Roger — on 29th April, 2006 at 4:54 pm  

    It can. I didn’t ask my question rhetorically. Israel goes to quite a lot of trouble to kill their enemies with minimal collateral harm, ‘though they could accept that they will kill fewer and kill an even smaller percentage of noncombatants. Given the number of people who would be willing to fight Israel killing anyone but the most senior or skilled enemies probably wouldn’t make much difference. All the same, Israel kills a remarkably small proportion of noncombatants to combatants considering that they are fighting guerilla forces embedded in a civilian population, while the Palestinian suicide bombers seem unconcerned as to whether they kill current, future or former soldiers on or off duty or anyone else around.

  18. Ismaeel — on 30th April, 2006 at 12:33 am  

    Roger, those claims sound hollow when you actually analyse the actual figures of how many palestinians and how many israelis are killed every year due to political violence.

  19. Roger — on 30th April, 2006 at 10:52 am  

    Ismaeel: compare the percentage of fighters/political figures and noncombatants killed on either side. Whatever their faults, the Israelis are not killing at random. The Palestinian groups are.

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