A Trojan horse of British make (The Island : Srilanka)
The government has acted wisely by rejecting Britain's call for an extension of the humanitarian pause declared in view of the traditional New Year on April 13 and 14. The kneejerk reaction of the LTTE to the government's gesture was to spurn the truce offer contemptuously out of hand and step up attacks on the troops, demanding a 'permanent' ceasefire with international mediation.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has evinced a keen interest in Sri Lanka's conflict. Britain is full of weretigers and Miliband lacks only a striped tail to go with his Tigerine voice. He and others of his ilk like Keith Vaz, MP in the LTTE's pocket are desperate to throw a lifeline to the sinking Tigers.
Miliband and his political bosses are also trying to distract the public attention from the plight of the marginalized sections at home as well as from Iraq and Afghanistan, where they are mired in a never ending war. For them Sri Lanka's conflict has come in handy. They are trying to use it as a fig leaf to cover their humanitarian nudity as regards their war on terror and to keep the LTTE terrorism afloat so that they could continue to have a strong presence in this region on the pretext of conflict resolution.
The Daily Telegraph has reported (see the World View section today) that one in five elderly people in Britain skip meals to save money on food, while two-fifths are struggling to afford essential items. Many of the aged are said to be 'going to extreme measures to cope putting their health at risk'. This has been the dismal record of the Brown government which is trying to export humanitarian concerns to the rest of the world! Charity, they say, begins at home!
The humanitarian situation is bad in the Vanni and it is only natural that the world community is concerned about the civilians trapped there. But, those who weep buckets for them and seek to step in on their behalf must prove their humanitarian credentials first of all. Before undertaking any more humanitarian missions, Miliband ought to make his position known on the plight of the original inhabitants of Diego Garcia, which the British ethnically cleansed to pave the way for an American military base over three decades ago. The people who were banished from that once palm-fringed peaceful island had been living there over 200 years! And they are still demanding that they be permitted to return home, but in vain.
Ethnic cleansing is a grievous crime. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Miliband, who jointly indulge in firing statements exuding compassion on anything and everything at the drop of a hat, must address the grievances of the people of Diego Garcia. So long as they ignore the woeful pleas of those victims of 'total evacuation', they won't be acceptable as champions of human rights.
It is surprising that even the Human Rights Watch and the Amnesty International have forgotten those hapless people of Diego Garcia. Is it that the championing of their cause is not lucrative for the captains of the Victim Industry?
However, there is no gainsaying the situation in the Vanni is bad and the protection of civilians must be ensured. Is an indefinite ceasefire the solution as suggested by Miliband?
The answer to this question is found in an observation made by Sir John Holmes, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs on Sri Lanka's situation, in New York on Wednesday. He said: "There seems to be less civilians getting out during the [New Year] pause than before. So it is clear that LTTE did not allow those who wished to leave even if they wished to leave the area during this pause to do so, they seemed to be actively prevented from doing so, perhaps more actively prevented from doing so during this pause, so that is a matter for great regret."
Even if the Sri Lankan government were to agree to an open-ended truce, it is only wishful thinking that it would help secure the release of civilians in the LTTE's clutches. A ceasefire will mean nothing to those people. For, Prabhakaran knows the moment all the civilians are removed to safety, he will be without any protection whatsoever and, therefore, won't let go of them. He is aware that the army is in a position to annihilate the remaining LTTE combatants within hours in total war.
If Prabhakaran is really willing to release hostages he has taken, he should have made use of the recent forty-eight-hour truce the government declared for that purpose.
Even without a truce, he can release civilians by allowing them to shift to the welfare centres.
What Prabhakaran wants is not a pause to release civilians but a protracted truce and a CFA like the one the Norwegians drafted in 2002 granting him unbridled freedom to expand his operations in the North and the East. In other words, he wants to escape death and reverse the battlefield gains of the military through non military means with the help of the British and the Norwegians. It is not that Miliband and other do-gooders are not au-fait with his plans. Instead, they want to help him with his grand design. It is not an end to Sri Lanka's conflict that those sinister elements seek but a means to its perpetuation.
If the Sri Lankan government ever blundered by playing into their hands as the UNF did in 2002, the country would revert to the pre-Mavil Aru position with the passage of time and all the sacrifices the armed forces and people made to defeat terrorism would be in vain.
Next time Miliband calls for a truce, he ought to be asked how Britain would act if Osama bin Laden were to be cornered in a small area taking cover behind civilians. That question may also be posed to all the other 'hawks' in doves' plumage unleashing hell on Afghanistan and advocating human rights elsewhere.
Courtesy : The Island