There are many similarities of the behaviour of the Liberation Tigers and the present Sri Lankan Government.
The Liberation Tigers adopted a violent approach right from the beginning. They did not tolerate different views and opinions. They have gone to the extent of killing the members of rival militant groups with different viewpoints who also fought for the liberation of the Tamils. Thereafter the activities of such groups were seized and were restricted to name boards only.
Political leaders of democratic political parties who had different views were also killed and thereby kept those parties under their direction. In addition to that the intellectuals who critically supported the struggle of the Tamils were also killed. At last they have created an armed group who accepted the order of the leader only, whether it was correct or not.
The current regime using the determinations given by the Judiciary which were against the fundamentals of the present Constitution facilitated the crossovers of Opposition MPs to the side of the Government and then exercised a majority in the Parliament which was not granted by the general public of this country in order to pass the 18th Amendment to the Constitution extending the period of office of the President which was once again against the fundamentals of the present Constitution. It also over a period disassociated with the intellectuals who critically supported the Government and created an autocratic regime.
"The arrogant behaviour of the Liberation Tigers contributed a lot to their end. Together with that, the political ambitions of the Tamils also were in disarray. The present regime also works in the same manner of the Liberation Tigers. If the Government does not work intelligently, it may face the same scenario in the political field which was faced by the Liberation Tigers in the battlefield. If so not only the Government, the entire nation will have to face it"
Emphasis based on ethnicity
It was the intention of the Liberation Tigers to create an independent state in the north and east regions in Sri Lanka. In order to achieve this objective they have launched a broad destructive program. It was their intention that the authority of those regions in the hands of ethnic Tamils.
Accordingly when the Sinhalese abandoned the area due to terrorist activities against them, the Liberation Tigers ordered the remaining Muslims to leave within a very short period. In certain instances Muslims in the Eastern Province were killed within their mosques.
It seems to be the intention of the present regime to create a Sinhala Buddhist authority of this country. The Government has not exercised appropriate and visible legal procedure against the extremist Buddhist Bhikkus who attacked mosques and churches and supported those extremists indirectly.
Intolerance of negotiation
Negotiation was a mere political strategy of the Liberation Tigers to arm themselves during the period of negotiations. They did not have any problem to solve with negotiations since their sole intention was to have an independent Tamil state. They did not show any honesty during the negotiations.
During the regime of Ranil Wickremesinghe at the negotiation table, theoretician of the Liberation Tigers Anton Balasingham agreed to internal self-determination. This was an opportunity for them for a political settlement. However, during subsequent discussions they did not agree to this and Balasingham was removed from the team of negotiators.
Discussion is only a political gimmick of the present regime. When Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General, visited Sri Lanka soon after the end of war, there was a joint declaration with the Government of Sri Lanka where it was stated that the Government will implement a solution beyond the 13th Amendment and address the issues of accountability in relation to violations of human rights law. These promises were not fulfilled.
Also in violation of the promises given to the Prime Minister of India and to the Foreign Minister of India that the political solution beyond the 13th Amendment will be implemented, the Government tried to dilute the 13th Amendment legally and thereafter does not allow the smooth functioning of the Northern Provincial Council.
The Liberation Tigers over estimated themselves. It was a dishonour to them that Rajiv Gandhi summoned their leader to India and influenced him. Also it was a blow to them to fight with the Indian Peace Keeping Force. Therefore without considering the possible political setbacks they took steps to kill Rajiv Gandhi.
The present regime claims that unlike during the time of President Jayewardene they managed India well during the time of war by keeping India informed in all aspects of the war. What happened during the time of President Jayewardene was antagonising India by implementing political and economic policies lenient towards West during which time India was aligned with Soviet Union.
During the recent war India also wanted to crush the Liberation Tigers. Therefore it was not that difficult to manage India during that period. There can be serious consequences in deceiving India by giving false promises in relation to the political solution which will have a negative impact on Indian national politics through Tamil Nadu. This is a worse way of managing the Indian factor compared to Jayewardene era.
The Government seems to be in overconfident of them that they can manage India by pulling the Chinese factor. There can be serious consequences of this bargaining policy, which is not non-alignment, for a small nation like us.
Armed struggle and political solution
The Liberation Tigers could not understand that victory through an armed struggle is temporary so that the opponents can turn their victory to a defeat and in order to have a lasting peace there should be a political solution. This was because they had an autocratic leadership, a brainwashed membership, and lack of political dialogue.
The present regime thinks that there is no necessity for a political solution after the war. This is evident in the way that the dialogue for a political solution were going in a circle and the delay of holding an election in the Northern Provincial Council with disrupting the activities of the same after the establishing the NPC.
The reason for this is having a population who cannot think in a fair and just way due to prevalent Sinhala-Buddhist ideology, which is completely the reverse of Buddhist thinking and thereby there is no proper dialogue for a political solution which process is supported by the autocratic leadership.
Overestimation of self
The Liberation Tigers started fighting a conventional war against the Government troops face to face without guerrilla warfare since they were overconfident of themselves. They could not foresee their defeat and thereby in order to reduce the damage to the civilians and their cadre they could not surrender or start negotiations.
In relation to the resolutions at Geneva the current regime operates with arrogance. With the defeat of the Liberation Tigers which was a dream in the past they may be thinking that international community cannot do any harm to them.
After the war the foreign policy of the regime is operated with a mentality of a general rather than that of a diplomat just as they dealt with the foreign ministers of Britain and France who came here during the last stages of the war and with the Swedish Foreign Minister who was not allowed to come.
Approval rate of the international community is reducing. The second resolution of the Geneva Human Rights Council got more votes against us compared to the first one. Due to the harassment against the Muslim community it is doubtful whether the Muslim countries would vote in favour of us. The Government may be of the view that if China and Russia are with us, there is no problem.
The arrogant behaviour of the Liberation Tigers contributed a lot to their end. Together with that, the political ambitions of the Tamils also were in disarray. The present regime also works in the same manner of the Liberation Tigers.
If the Government does not work intelligently, it may face the same scenario in the political field which was faced by the Liberation Tigers in the battlefield. If so not only the Government, the entire nation will have to face it.
It is regrettable to note that Sri Lanka which gained international recognition one time as an ideological democratic state is getting condemned internationally. Being a small nation with lot of international dependence, it is the duty and the responsibility of the Government to conduct its affairs in internationally-accepted standards and in accordance with international laws in order to avoid any international interference.
In today’s context this is a basic political lesson which was well understood and implemented by a housewife like Mrs. Bandaranaike. Big talk won’t help us and only big work will help.
(The writer is a Chartered Accountant by profession and holds a Master of Business Administration degree awarded by the Postgraduate Institute of Management of University of Sri Jayewardenepura.)