The regime continues to castigate the Darusman Report as a pro-Tiger document and a Diaspora conspiracy. And yet the full Report contains damning criticisms of the Tiger modus operandi plus a scathing analysis of the role played by the Diaspora in the rise of the LTTE. It also contains extremely serious charges against the Rajapaksa administration, charges which cannot and should not be dismissed out of hand by hiding behind the pathetically absurd ‘zero-civilian casualty’ lie
1 May 2011,
by Tisaranee Gunasekara
“Fanatics are picturesque; mankind would rather see gestures than listen to reason”. Nietzsche (The Anti-Christ)
Gopalaswami Mahendraraja alias Mahattaya was a Tiger leader and a Tamil hero, until Vellupillai Pirapaharan decided that he was an arch-traitor. Once the Leader branded his erstwhile deputy a betrayer, the Tamils were expected to fall in line, disregarding Mahattaya’s sterling record of service to the Eelam cause.
The ‘fall of Mahattaya’ was symbolic of the Tiger’s metamorphosis into a political-religion, based on Leader-veneration. The Leader had deemed his Deputy Mahattaya a traitor and all ‘patriotic’ Tamils were expected to accede to that judgement, unquestioningly, despite Mahattaya’s long years of unblemished loyalty to Mr. Pirapaharan and despite the total lack of credible evidence about his supposed betrayals. The Tamils were expected to abandon memory, cease thinking, suspend judgement and subject themselves, heart and mind, to the Leader’s irrational verdict. Many, perhaps most, did just that, thereby opting for a path which eventually ended on the bloody shores of the Nandikadal lagoon and in the desolation of open prison camps.taya’s sterling record of service to the Eelam cause.
The ‘fall of Mahattaya’ was symbolic of the Tiger’s metamorphosis into a political-religion, based on Leader-veneration. The Leader had deemed his Deputy Mahattaya a traitor and all ‘patriotic’ Tamils were expected to accede to that judgement, unquestioningly, despite Mahattaya’s long years of unblemished loyalty to Mr. Pirapaharan and despite the total lack of credible evidence about his supposed betrayals. The Tamils were expected to abandon memory, cease thinking, suspend judgement and subject themselves, heart and mind, to the Leader’s irrational verdict. Many, perhaps most, did just that, thereby opting for a path which eventually ended on the bloody shores of the Nandikadal lagoon and in the desolation of open prison camps.
Sri Lanka’s ‘Mahattaya moment’ came with the persecution and incarceration of Gen. Sarath Fonseka, the war-winning Army Commander. After he fell out with the Rajapaksa siblings, Gen. Fonseka, the Sinhala Super-hero, became characterised in the dominant narrative as the Arch-villain. Even those who were unhappy about the persecutory prosecution and the subsequent incarceration of Gen. Fonseka remained mute, either out of personal fear or because they did not want to rock the ‘national’ boat. The Rajapaksa brothers had done the impossible and defeated the seemingly invincible Tigers, in record time. Therefore most Sinhalese seem to think that the Siblings can/must be trusted to do the right thing – even when their deeds look questionable/objectionable.
That was the way most Tamils rationalised the LTTE’s immoralities, because the Tigers had done what no other Tamil group could and fought the Lankan state to a standstill. That path of (the LTTE knows best) permissiveness ended not in final victory but in utter and total defeat.
The full and official version of the Darusman Report is finally out in the public domain. Sri Lankans (or at least some of them – the Report is yet to be translated into Sinhala/Tamil) have an opportunity to read it and form their own opinions.
The regime continues to castigate the Darusman Report as a pro-Tiger document and a Diaspora conspiracy. And yet the full Report contains damning criticisms of the Tiger modus operandi plus a scathing analysis of the role played by the Diaspora in the rise of the LTTE. It also contains extremely serious charges against the Rajapaksa administration, charges which cannot and should not be dismissed out of hand by hiding behind the pathetically absurd ‘zero-civilian casualty’ lie.
To see for ourselves the objectivity and the credibility of the allegations (or the lack of thereof), we should read the Report, in full, or at least the Executive Summary.
Contrary to the assertions made by some Ministers, the Report criticises the LTTE not only for its conduct during the last phase of the war (i.e. the time-period under investigation) but also for its crimes and misdeeds throughout its history: “LTTE suicide bombers, both men and women, were responsible for the deaths of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi (1991), and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa (1993) as well as numerous Sri Lankan ministers and members of parliament, and moderate Tamil political leaders. It also carried out suicide attacks, often with large numbers of civilian casualties, on economic and religious targets. The LTTE pursued exclusionary politics, expelling Muslims from their homes in the north in 1990 and massacring Sinhalese and Muslims living in villages bordering areas it controlled. Violence, threats and fear were increasingly used by the LTTE to control the Tamil population. The LTTE was also known for its forced recruitment and use of child soldiers, including boys and girls. Its tactics led to the organisation’s proscription in numerous countries, including Canada, the European Union, India and the United Kingdom and the Unites States….”
Does this sound pro-LTTE or helpful to the LTTE? Is this a justification of the Tiger?
Unfortunately in Rajapaksa Sri Lanka, the truth is of no import. What matters is what the Rajapaksas want. And the Rajapaksas want to label the Report as a Tiger construct and use it to whip up patriotic hysteria in the South. What better way to make the Sinhalese forget the rising cost-of-living?
What better method to divert the attention of the workers from the regime’s private sector pension plan which takes far more from the workers (financially) than it gives?
What better smokescreen to hide the continued attack on anti-regime media?
In short, what better mode than an anti-Darusman patriotic yathra, to advance the domestic political agenda of the Rajapaksa siblings?
The Tiger creed was simple: there were friends of Eelam and there were enemies of Eelam; anyone who was not pro-Eelam was anti-Eelam. Vellupillai Pirapaharan reserved for himself the sole right to decide who was pro-Eelam and who was not. His judgement was all that mattered; and against his opprobrium, years or even decades of dedicated service to the Tamil cause counted for nothing. Accordingly, the greatest merit a Tamil could have was to develop an unconditional and unquestioning faith in the Leader. The greatest ‘patriotic’ duty of a Tamil was to be loyal to Mr. Pirapaharan and obey all this commands unthinkingly. To be a patriot to the nascent state of Eelam, a Tamil first had to be an unthinking automaton, willing to obey and follow.
As the Darusman Report pointed out “Vellupillai Pirapaharan demanded absolute loyalty and sacrifice and cultivated a cult-like following. Internal dissent was not tolerated….”
The collective Southern response to the Darusman Report demonstrates how far we have travelled along the path of mindless obedience, a path the Tamils opted for, for the sake of Eelam, with tragic results. Even a cursory reading of the Report indicates that it is far from being a pro-Tiger document; it is critical not only of the LTTE but also of the Tamil Diaspora. And yet, Minister after Minister screams invective at it, castigating it as a Tiger-construct.
The latest gem is from Rajapaksa acolyte and JHU leader, Minister Champika Ranawaka (who seems to be competing with Minister Wimal Weerawansa in heaping most invective on the Darusman Report): “The Darusman Report has given terrorist organizations and their activities a moral boost throughout the world” (Daily Mirror – 29.4.2011).
This is his categorisation of a Report which criticises the LTTE, time and again, for its crimes and misdeeds. For instance, “Retaining the civilian population in the area that it controlled was crucial to the LTTE’s strategy. The presence of civilians both lent legitimacy to the LTTE’s claim for a separate homeland and provided a buffer against the SLA offensive. To this end the LTTE forcibly prevented those living in the Vanni from leaving. Even when civilian casualties rose significantly, the LTTE refused to let people leave, hoping that the worsening situation would provoke an international intervention and a halt to the fighting. It used new and badly trained recruits as well as civilians essentially as ‘cannon-fodder’ in an attempt to protect its leadership until the final moments”.
This pungent criticism will give a moral boost not to terrorism but to the anti-Tiger cause.
In the manner of the monkey who slashed his king with a sword to defeat a mosquito threat, Minister Ranawaka warns and threatens the United States: “We advise the United States not to make us a country that will be a strategic centre that acts against the US. We warn them that cyber attacks could be launched against them similar to what we witnessed in Iran” (Daily Mirror – 29.4.2011). With protectors like this Sri Lanka will never miss the Tigers! Incidentally, there are within the US Republican Party (which enjoys a legislative majority currently) politicians and members who are firm believers in American ‘Jathika Chinthanaya’.
They (like Minister Ranawaka and his political bosses) tend to see the world in terms of friends and enemies. If they hear about this inane threat of ‘cyber attacks’, they are likely to react with irrational excess, the same way Minister Ranawaka and the Rajapaksa acolytes are reacting to the Darusman Report. If Minister Ranawaka and other ‘Rajapaksa warriors’ are not reigned in, Sri Lanka may find herself joining the LTTE on the US terror list!
If the Tiger’s journey to the shores of Nandikadal lagoon was paved with avoidable errors and unnecessary crimes, the attitude of boundless permissiveness and mindless veneration a majority of the Tamil Diaspora adopted towards Vellupillai Pirapaharan contributed to it in no small degree. As the Darusman Report points out,“The Diaspora has played a crucial role throughout the war, with segments providing uncritical support, to the LTTE, through crucial funding and advocacy, consistently denying any wrongdoing by the LTTE throughout the conflict”.
The Diaspora, unlike Tamils living in Sri Lanka, was relatively safe from the wrath of the Tiger and thus could have spoken out against LTTE’s excesses. Instead of becoming a moderating influence, the Diaspora, with its unconditional support for the LTTE, egged the Tiger on. With no restraining influence from within the community, the Tigers went from excess to deplorable excess. A majority in the Diaspora, blinded by ultra-nationalism, failed to realise that in the eyes of most of Western nations the LTTE had become an undesirable entity and that even those governments which sympathised with the Tamils most sincerely wanted the Tigers out of the way.
The Report is particularly critical of the role the Diaspora played during the last stages of the war: “During the last stages of the war, many in the Diaspora remained silent in the face of numerous LTTE violations…….. At the end, parts of the Diaspora appeared more concerned about preserving the political state of ‘Tamil Eelam’ than about the suffering of the civilian population trapped between two fighting forces.”
Interestingly, the Darusman Report identifies the ultra-nationalism dominant within the Diaspora as an impediment to a lasting peace (together with Rajapaksa triumphalism): “…significant elements of diaspora create a further obstacle to sustainable peace when they fail to acknowledge rights violations committed by the LTTE and its role in the humanitarian disaster in the Vanni”.
One of the most incisive comments made by the Report concerns the mutually affirming relationship between Sinhala and Tamil extremisms: “Members of the Tamil Diaspora, through their unconditional support of the LTTE and their extreme Tamil nationalism, have effectively promoted divisions within the Sri Lankan Tamil community and ironically reinforced Sinhala nationalism.”
Mr. Pirapaharan enabled a Rajapaksa Presidency with his election boycott and gave the Ruling Family its raison d’être with the Mavilaru debacle. The Rajapaksas need a threat and an enemy in order to justify their power-project. Post-Pirapaharan, that role is being filled by the verbal excesses of various pro-Tiger Tamil entities.
The Darusman Report is a timely reminder to the Diaspora about the counter-productiveness of this path and the urgent need to abandon it, for the sake of the Tamil cause.