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'SILENCE BREAKS' by Nadarajah Kuruparan - Part 2

 

Mahinda Rajapakse Would Kill on the Day, Ranil Wickramasinghe Would Await the Day

'SILENCE BREAKS' by Nadarajah Kuruparan - Part 2

 

Now I am taking you back in time by some 12 years, not with exultation, but with excruciating agony. The peace talks that came after the war and profuse bloodshed gave a sigh of relief to many.  But it only proved to be a mirage. Nobody could have imagined that the apparent quiet was only gestating to deliver a post-peace tsunami. Feigning peaceful disposition, both the parties pursued counterproductive activities behind the screen. Thus, the diplomatic gambits of the UNF government under Ranil Wickramasinghe began simultaneously with the peace talks. Moving from the national to the global stage, I was also entering this new episode as a reporter. The most important event was Ranil’s visit to the White House. 
 
The UNF under the leadership of Ranil had got 109 seats in the 2001 December elections. The sitting United People’s Freedom Alliance could get only 77. With the support of Tamil National Alliance’s 15 and the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress’s 5, Ranil’s UNF captured the parliament. As said earlier, the legislative parliament came under the control of one party whereas the executive President was from the opposition. 
 
The government and the LTTE declared ceasefire in February 2002. Rejoicing the electoral victory and priding himself on commencing peace in the country, Ranil began to follow the ways of his uncle Jayawardene. Aiming to implement his plans, right away he went to the U.S. in July 2002 and met President George Bush and other top officials. 
 
Declaring to transform Sri Lanka like Singapore and South Korea, he took side with the West. Taking the example of Jayawardene, who dared Indira Gandhi, the then most powerful lady in global politics and the Prime Minister of India, the South Asian superpower, and sought to leave SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) to join ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), Ranil joined hands with the U.S.
 
A defense officer’s Report for Congress in 2003 lauded Ranil’s to Washington that it was the first by a Sri Lankan leader since 1984.1 The U.S. government under George Bush and the Sri Lankan government under Ranil Wickramasinghe pledged to re-energize bilateral relations. According to that statement, the US would render full support in defense, education, commerce, justice and human rights. 
 
Soon in September 2002, a U.S. defense assessment team under Taylor, the State Department Coordinator for Counterterrorism, went to Sri Lanka. This team held discussions with the Sri Lankan military about ways to integrate intelligence, law enforcement and legal as well as diplomatic efforts against terrorism. From January to March in 2003, they held nine joint military exercises with training focused on combined arms operations and medical techniques. 
 
The observation of WikiLeaks about Ranil Wickramasinghe as pro-U.S. should be recalled here, which should add strength to what I am going to state here. J.R. Jayawardene, who ruled Sri Lanka in the 70s and 80s, had been so close to the U.S. that the leftists called him Yankee. Officials of the American embassy in Sri Lanka reported to their State Department that Ranil was keen in maintaining close relations with the U.S. like his uncle Jayawardene. They added that Ranil had been a longtime supporter of the U.S. and such was the tradition of his family. 
 
These details were mentioned in the report by the U.S. Ambassador Ashley Wills on May 29, 2003. According to that report, characteristic to his origin from a wealthy business family, Ranil was disposed to free enterprise and indisposed to socialist policies. He was also knowledgeable about U.S. history and politics, and well-versed in American Civil War, military history and state administration. He was of the stance that support of the international community, especially that of the U.S., was required to contain the LTTE, added the report. 
 
As a result of his loyalty to the U.S. along with the conduct certificates and recommendations by the U.S. embassy in Sri Lanka and the mutual understanding arrived at his first visit, Ranil was again invited as a special guest by George Bush in 2003. 
 
It was after having made such a strong foundation that Ranil began his peace talks with Prabhakaran, the LTTE chief. These talks were conducted in six stages. It should be noted that these six-stage peace talks had already been over when Ranil made his second visit to the U.S. 
 
First Stage
 
Held at Thailand’s naval base Pattaya of Chon Buri province during September 16-18, 2002
 
Second Stage
 
Held at the Rose Garden Hotel of Nakhon Pathom in Thailand during October 31-November 2, 2002
 
Third Stage
 
Held in the mediating nation, Norway at Hotel Sas Plaza, Oslo during December 2-5, 2002
 
[It was at this stage that the smothered embers of differences between the leadership of LTTE and Vinayakamurthy Muralidharan aka Karauna Amman, the man described as the Nightmare of the East, began to flare. The shocking details as to how Ranil’s government maneuvered this conflict are to be described in the forthcoming passages.]
 
Fourth Stage
 
Held again at the Rose Garden Hotel of Nakhon Pathom in Thailand during January 2-5, 2003
 
Fifth Stage
 
Held at the Embassy of Norway in Berlin during February 7-8, 2003
 
Sixth Stage
 
Held in Hakone, Japan during March 18-21, 2003
 
I had participated in all these peace talks as a reporter.
 
Conducting peace talks with the Tigers, all the same Ranil was covertly knitting a global entanglement against them. As charges and countercharges of ceasefire violations were made by both the sides, Ranil was subtly campaigning against LTTE at the diplomatic level. The second visit of Ranil to the U.S. was one such attempt and it paid in the form of certain agreements. 
 
It is notable here what the then Deputy Secretary of State Mr. Armitage stated. The U.S. in 1997 had designated the LTTE as one of the Foreign Terrorist Organizations. In February 2003, however, Armitate stated that the LTTE could move beyond its terrorist past and convince the international community through its conduct that it was committed to peace through political means, and in that case the U.S. would certainly consider removing the LTTE from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. 
 
The LTTE, however, rejected all such calls from the international community to renounce violence emphatically stating that it would do so only when the aspirations of the Tamil people were met by a political settlement. At that time the LTTE was suffering an international withholding of about 4 billion dollars. As said by Armitage, this made it more difficult for them to acquire weapons, resulting in a heavy setback in terms of military capability. 
 
The Tigers had had decades-long experience in combating with many successful campaigns to their credit. However, their political wisdom did not keep step with their military wisdom. They failed to assess the global political nexus that was systematically working out a dragnet over their heads. They did not take cues from such signals as the blockage of the supply routes of their arms by other nations. 
 
Neither did they have the realistic understanding that the international community would never regard a militant organization on a par with a democratically elected government that was considered legitimate and recognized by other countries. Moreover, the way the dissidents were targeted and killed during the truce outraged such Co-chairs as Norway, Japan, U.S. and the E.U.  [There are many such things to point out here; let us set them aside to be discussed in detail in the later sections on the peace talks.]
 
However, it was not solely on its observation of the violations of the Tigers during the truce that the U.S. took its stand on them. The well-timed diplomacy of Ranil Wickramasinghe played an important role in this regard. 
 
Ranil’s diplomatic skill evidenced itself by his ability to see light in the new global order countenancing War against Terrorism, as proclaimed by George Bush. He used it to extinguish the national liberation struggle of the Tamils that manifested as the armed struggle of the LTTE. Such was the Olympian skill of Ranil in the diplomatic arena that he laid out the snare of negotiation for the LTTE, all the same curtailing its international military and monetary networks.  
 
It was only to the pinioned Tigers, as contrived and carried out by Ranil, that the Rajapakshe brothers and Sarath Fonseka gave the death blow and claimed the crown of Sinhala majoritarianism. That contention ended in the imprisonment of Fonseka and the re-enthronement of Rajapakshe. 
 
Poor Ranil! The Sri Lankan people did not understand or have any time or chance of understanding his “service” to the country, to the Buddhist chauvinism and to the people. 
 
The entrapped Tigers, in an effort to untangle themselves and to take revenge against Ranil, prevented the Tamils from voting in the 2005 presidential election. That, however, proved to be a wrong step and only pushed them further into the abyss. 
 
 
 
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