I shall consider two of Dayan’s arguments to present my views:
1.0. That the LTTE was – is- a fascist organization, which he describes as ‘the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world’, and which, therefore, had to be militarily liquidated by the State.
2.0. That sovereignty of the State stands above the sovereignty of the People.
What does he mean by applying the term ‘fascism’ to the LTTE? The concept refers to the political formation that occurred mainly in Germany, Italy and Japan in the context of the political conjuncture that took shape around the 2nd World war. It referred to a crisis of the system of world imperialism, where these three states resorted to an ideology and program to re-divide the world and restructure the system of international relations that had been foisted following the end of the 1st World War. Fascism refers to a particular political-ideological form of the Capitalist ruling classes and states that had been denied its ‘place in the sun’ by the other dominant imperialist powers. It refers to a particular form of state that emerges as a crisis of advanced monopoly capitalism. It is accompanied by a singular assertion of the superiority of one’s own race above all others, as the moral justification for world conquest. It is simple theoretical sophistry to apply this historically specific political category to the LTTE. But, of course, it plays into the gallery of all those who wish to deny and cover up for the gross, systematic, even systemic, and intensifying discrimination and violent suppression of the Tamil nation by the State. Alice was taught in Wonderland how ingeniously words and concepts are used to delude even the advanced, snare the idle and befuddle the masses. But Alice learnt to penetrate and de-mystify these vulgar abstract reifications and contorted obfuscations and grasped the vile deceptions of the Oppressor and the truth of the Oppressed and went on to struggle for their liberation.
The term “fascist” used by the ambassador-professor provides fuel and fire to all stripes of rabid chauvinists in their campaign to wipe out the identity and political status of the Tamil nation in rivers of genocidal blood. It serves to cover up for the repeated massacres of Tamil civilians, the looting, rape and plunder of Tamils in repeated state-sponsored pogroms, including the massacre of 53 Tamil political prisoners held in maximum custody of the State, that provided the background to the formation of the LTTE and its politics of separatism, including the resort to terrorism. In labeling the LTTE as fascist, the good Dr. hopes to wipe the blood off the face of state terrorism, and of the present regime, to which he is beholden. This is the guy who gives lectures to the Sri Lankan military on how to generalize the experience in wiping out terrorism and in the same breadth speaks on the “Ethics of Violence”.
The LTTE was a product of the Tamil National Movement that coalesced around the Vaddukkodai resolution that gave birth to the Tamil United Liberation Front, which was mandated to struggle constitutionally for a separate State of Thamil Eelam. The TULF, which represented this popular mandate was expelled from Parliament of which it functioned as the lead Opposition, by the adoption of the 6th Amendment to the Constitution, adopted by the 5/6 majority of the then UNP government, when the demand for a separate state itself, and all related activities connected with it was declared illegal. Thus, all legal-constitutional-democratic methods for pursuing this political demand was denied by a Sinhala-dominated parliament, just as the citizenship and voting rights of the entire Hill Country Tamil population had been denied in 1948. ( this is the State to which Dayan would offer supreme sovereignty, above that of the people, the same State that massacred some 100,000 Sinhala youth in suppressing two youth insurrections in the South) )
Having no other option, the militant Tamil youth organizations, including the EPRLF to which Dr. Dayan Jayatilleke belonged- and the LTTE, resorted to armed struggle to pursue the common political agenda of achieving a separate state. All these organizations had connections with and were supported, trained, financed and manipulated by one or the other of the various fractions and agents of the Indian State, including by the infamous RAW. All of them engaged in bank robberies and acts of terror, intimidation and assassination, in the bid to gain dominance within the movement. The LTTE simply proved to be superior to all of them in being ruthless in asserting its dominance and hegemony within the Tamil National Movement. If at all, the EPRLF, in which provincial government Dr Jayatileke functioned as a Minister and foremost ideologue, should also be tried for “fascist” war crimes, given its wholesale military assault against the people and the rigging of elections, aided by the notorious IPKF.
The ruthlessness and terror of the LTTE developed in direct proportion to the ruthlessness and terror of the State in its sustained military campaign to wipe out the separatist agenda, which the LTTE represented. The massacres, rape, arson, looting and pillage of the innocents in Black July 1983, the beheading of Tamil youth and decapitated heads hung on stakes in public, the open rigging of the DDC elections in 1981 in Jaffna, the burning of the Jaffna library, constituting an act of cultural genocide, the razing of the cemeteries honoring martyrs, the attacks on kovils and schools, gang rapes of Tamil women, the inhuman torture to which Tamil prisoners were subjected to- this policy of State Terrorism found its reaction in such equally abominable acts as the massacre of Bikkhus in Arantalawa, the massacre of civilian devotes at the Sri Maha Bodhi, the attack on the Dalada Maligawa, the bombing of civilians and so on. However, none of this history can ever justify the alleged crimes against humanity and war crimes, replete with the most barbaric atrocities said to have been committed during the final stages of the war. These accusations have brought indignity and shame upon all of us as citizens of lanka, and we have a foremost right and duty to protect ourselves from such infamy. Until and unless there is a credible, transparent, independent mechanism for accountability, the state and the regime shall remain on the dock! As it is, the Regime is simply trying its utmost to slide away from the dock, instead of facing up to the trial, in the exercise of which H.E. Ambassador Dr. Jayatileke is to be trusted to contribute his exalted and devoted service.
Any approach to genuine reconciliation should begin by a profound analysis of the structural roots and generative causes of Terrorism, based on a genuine commitment to address the grievances and the national democratic aspirations of the Tamil nation, inclusive of the Moslem and Hill Country Tamil nationalities, to be given expression in a democratic political solution and required constitutional reform. Anyone who expects such democratic reform and a process of healing and reconciliation from the Mahinda Rajapakse Regime is far more deluded and lost in Wonderland, than Alice could ever have been! The Rajapakse project is none other than to perpetuate its dynastic rule by selling out the country to each all foreign predators, including to the IMF and the World Bank ( here no anti-imperialist demagoguery) to appropriate the traditional land of the Tamil people and of the farmers and fishermen for giant multi-national agro-industries and tourism, to build seven star hotels and hospitals, luxury spas and brothels, casinos and bars and super highways, airports, ports and sports stadiums- all that which can fill the pockets of the regime and its mafia cronies and superimpose the monumental ego of the Emperor, while sucking the life-blood of the toiling masses and crushing them to dust. This regime has the audacity to state that it does not have the funds to increase the wages of university lecturers and workers, or even to pay the pensions of the farmers!
The argument that the sovereignty of the State is above the sovereignty of the People is indeed a fascist argument. In Marxist terms, the State is a special instrument for the enforcement of class dictatorship. Lenin stated that the Capitalist State, however democratic it may appear in form, is, in essence, nothing but the embodiment of the naked, terrorist dictatorship of the bourgeoisie”. Even in bourgeois-liberal terms, the State is supposed to be the embodiment of the people’s sovereignty. Even within this bourgeois theoretical-ideological paradigm, the State derives its definition, meaning and function only in terms of acting as the guardian of the people’s sovereignty. It is to be controlled, supervised and legitimated by the people through regular free and fair elections, and through a representative parliament with a vigorously independent Opposition, under the judicious review of an independent judiciary. The separation of powers and the subordination of the Executive to the Legislature are all part of exercising popular sovereignty. What we have in Sri Lanka, is one the most centralized unitary states, commanded by an omnipotent Executive Presidency where the Legislature is but a supine rubber stamp, legitimated by an equally servile judiciary, where the Chief Justice, the Attorney General, the Inspector General Of Police, the Chairperson of the Human Rights Commission are appointed by the Executive President. The Rajapakse triumvirate controls some 60% of all public funds through the various ministries and departments allocated to them. They function as a dynastic oligarchy, acting with supreme impunity, standing above the Law. The Rajapakse Regime is accountable for continuing series of killings, abductions, disappearances, including media personnel. It is accountable for daylight attacks against media institutions. It is enforcing a draconian regime of military occupation in the North and East, while steadily militarizing and politicizing the entire social order, including the institutions of higher education.
Hitler came to power through elections and achieved a ruling collation majority. There is nothing sacrosanct about having being elected to power, particularly when elections have been won through naked abuse of power, thuggery and rigging, as in Sri Lanka. Neither the State nor indeed, the Rajapakse regime stands above the sovereign will of the people. The time is approaching when the Regime, including the learned Dr. Jayatileke shall be taught this most basic lesson in Political Science, by the awakened and organized will of the masses, exercising its inviolable sovereignty on the streets.
The writer is the Secretary: Ceylon Communist Party ( Maoist)