Sri Lanka cannot negotiate with LTTE, says diplomat

June 1st, 2008 - 1:54 pm ICT by admin  

By M.R. Narayan Swamy
New Delhi, June 1 (IANS) A negotiated end to Sri Lanka’s dragging conflict is still possible but not before the Tamil Tigers are “verifiably demilitarised and democratised,” says one of the most high-profile diplomats of that country. Dayan Jayatilleka also said in an interview that the conflict would only end when Velupillai Prabhakaran, the elusive and feared leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), gets “demilitarised one way or another”.

Jayatilleka, who enjoys a close rapport with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, was asked if there was any room for a possible negotiated settlement to end a war that has claimed over 70,000 lives since 1983 and still rages.

“Yes but not with the Tigers, and certainly not with Prabhakaran,” the 51-year-old said over email from Geneva, where he is Sri Lanka’s permanent representative to the UN and other international organisations based in Switzerland.

Referring in some detail to the 1991 assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi by an LTTE suicide bomber, Jayatilleka said of Prabhakaran: “With him there can be no peace.”

“A peaceful, negotiated settlement is possible only if it recognises that any solution has to be within a single, united Sri Lanka, and the Tigers are verifiably demilitarised and democratised.”

Jayatilleka is a political analyst and academic who served briefly as a minister in the provincial government in Sri Lanka’s northeast when Indian troops were deployed there in 1987-90.

He was posted in Geneva in June 2007 as fighting escalated between the military and the LTTE and Sri Lanka came under intense attack over rampant human rights violations.

Asked how the war in Sri Lanka will end, Jayatilleka asserted: “It will all end the way it all ended in Angola after decades of conflict when (rebel leader) Jonas Savimbi was killed by the Angolan armed forces.

“It will all end the way it did in Chechnya when the Russian army got Djokar Dudayev, defeated the Chechen separatist militia in fierce combined arms warfare… Angola and Chechnya are peaceful and prosperous now.

“It cannot end while Prabhakaran has not been demilitarised one way or another.”

Claiming that Sri Lanka’s “human rights record, our record of civilian casualties, compares favourably with that of the West in theatres where its armed forces” operate, he said the West’s use of human rights as an instrument was “most disturbing”.

“The issue of Kosovo (and the de facto separate status of Iraqi Kurdistan) reveal that the West is not averse to the splintering of existing states and the carving out of new ones.”

Jayatilleka added: “The West does not seem to believe in a brotherhood of legitimate states which are besieged by terrorism. For the West, terrorism is a problem only if the anti-state movement in question claims to be Islamic or Leftist.”

In contrast, most Asian countries back Sri Lanka on the issue of human rights, he said, because “they are not possessed of colonial or neo-colonial habits of centuries”, because they believe in “non-interference in the internal affairs of others”, and also because they “know what it is to experience the threat of secession and terrorism”.

Jayatilleka accused the University Teachers for Human Rights-Jaffna (UTHR-J), a respected rights group, of “becoming part of the West’s civil society pets… It has joined several other Tamil dissident groupings in showing extreme distress at the thought of military defeat of the LTTE.

“These elements just do not want the Sri Lankan state to win… They must comprehend that Tiger fascism cannot be defeated by unarmed Tamil expatriate dissidents… It can only be defeated by the guns, men and women of the Sri Lankan armed forces and their Tamil partners.”

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