2008 will bring clarity to Sri Lanka conflict- Balakumaran

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 02 January 2008, 16:54 GMT]
"The International Community has been vacillating in taking decisive actions on Sri Lanka because they are unable to relate their own interests to the chaotically unfolding political and military situation in Sri Lanka. Only the demonstration of military strength by the Tigers can bring clarity to the situation, for the international community to correctly relate their interests, and assertively engage," said Balakumaran, a Senior Member of Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam, during a Political Analysis program, Nilavaram, in National Television of Tamileelam (NTT), this week.

English Translation of Balakumaran's responses to questions by the Programme Editor Veeraa on SLA's military plans, and on International Community's involvement in Sri Lanka conflict, follow:

NTT: Sri lanka has taken the east, and continues attempts at capturing areas in Silaavaththurai, Mannaar. Liberation Tigers have stopped close to 60 attempts by the SLA to encroach into LTTE held territory. How do you see the military confrontation progressing?

Balakumaran: The real objective of the attacks in the West, Silaavaththurai, the East in Manalaaru and in the north Mukamaalai, are to get inside the Tiger den of Vanni, and attack the heart of the Liberation Tigers. Sri Lanka's military plan is not different to previous attempt to capture the A9 in 1999, 70 miles of which goes through Vanni . The attempt to capture A9, described as highway of death, resulted in dismal failure to the Sri Lanka security forces where they lost close to 6000 troopers, and we lost nearly 3000 of our fighters.

In my view, currently Sri lanka is trying to enter through A-32 to Pooneryn or use A-34 to advance through Oddisuddaan; One of these highways will result in being renamed as highway of death. Whichever path Sri lanka chooses to enter into Vanni, they have to directly confront our fighters. As a precursor to the anticipated battle, the SLA is trying to chip away the strength of the LTTE, as well probing the LTTE strength through small scale skirmishes at the periphery. We understand their tactics, we haven't underestimated their strength either.

Security Forces are waiting for an opportune moment to break through a high way. This reminds me of old times; then there was Indian intervention, and currently there is some international intervention; Tiger military resistance eventually determined the conflict resolution phase that followed. We are similiarly waiting for their eventual SLA offensive. We are cognizant of the enormity of the possible disaster that can unfold, and bloodbath waiting to happen. Tamil people have no other option, except to face these possibilites. Once the fire of freedom is lit, there is no turning back; sacrifices are part of this decision, and our people fully understand this. We are confident of our strength to achieve our goals.

NTT: From 2006, the government has prevented visits of international diplomats to Vanni. What do you think of the International community's approach to resolve Sri Lanka's conflict?

Balakumaran: We have to have a clear view of what diplomacy means. Whether Sri Lanka allows diplomats to visit, or when Sri Lanka stops diplomats visiting Vanni, Sri Lanka is trying to achieve the same objective. That is to find ways to advance the self-interests of Sri Lanka and the host countries of the visiting diplomats. It is wrong to think that allowing diplomats to visit Vanni is in the interest of LTTE; we should not entertain such delusions.

Tigers were led into diplomacy by Norway, and not through LTTE's initiative. 2007 is a year where diplomacy is in the forefront. In our long walk to freedom, this is an inclusive part. In my opinion, how we are looking into this is, in 1987, there was regional intervention into the conflict from India. Leader Pirapaharan acted in accordance with the political climate of that time. In his Chuthumalai declaration, he started the speech by saying "we are friends of India." His 2007 Hero's day speech, has stated the same sentiments. We can consider the speech as another Chuthumalai declaration. We expect diplomatic pressures in this time period. We are not troubled by Sri Lanka allowing the international diplomats to visit us or stopping them from visiting us.

What we are really troubled by is the indecision of the International community. India is indecisive, the international community is indecisive; they are unable to relate their interests to unfolding situation in Sri Lanka. Even Russia has shown interest; they say Iran is also interested. The diplomatic front is muddled.

Only the demonstration of military strength by the Tigers can bring clarity to the situation, for the international community to correctly relate their interests, and assertively engage. Consider the countries Somali land, Kosovo, and Montenegro. The west will intervene when their interests are impacted. But they are reluctant to enter forcefully in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has state power, which Uyangoda has summed succinctly - the basis of the conflict in Sri lanka is State power. Rajapaksa is giving an image that he can eliminate the LTTE. The international community appears to have accepted this. The situation is very close to what happened in Sudan; China tried to deviate from the international community's attempts to resolve the Sudanese situation, but the international community put pressure on China to toe the line.

India is acting similar to China in Sri Lanka's situation, but International Community appears to be giving a free hand to India. Diplomats are trying to show they have concern for the Tamils by visiting Vanni, but this is the like cat playing with the mouse before it's ready to eat. During the war, to open A-9, up to 6000 Sri Lankan soldiers perished, and nearly 3000 Tigers sacrificed their lives. The international community accepted the results of that war, and recognized the LTTE's strength. The question is why they are not responding the same way now. In order to change the international community's view, we are called to suffer more sacrifices of life.

We expect 2008 will be the year where we can overcome the diplomatic hurdles that confront us. In 2003, we proposed ISGA (Interim Self Governing Authority) as a framework with which will satisfy us, our minimal requirements for power-sharing. So based on this, the international community cannot call us obstinate, or terrorists. Hilary Clinton also identified us when she articulated a more nuanced definition of terrorism.

We expect in 2008, the Tigers will bring clarity to Sri Lanka's conflict.

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