M S M Ayub (Daily Mirror)
The news on the assassination attempt on Parliamentarian and Tamil National Alliance (TNA) Spokesman M.A. Sumanthiran that was broken by the Daily Mirror on January 21 has put many political parties in a difficult position.
According to the news item and the feature article by veteran journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj, who is domiciled in Canada, the plot to harm the TNA’s rising star had been hatched by the Norway based LTTE activists and many people seem struggling to corroborate it with their ideologies. It was an irony that the LTTE remnants have targeted a leading member of the main Tamil political party coalition, who has been defending the rights of the Tamils including the LTTE in Sri Lankan courts for more than a decade.
It was more ironic as the TNA was formed at the instance of the LTTE in October, 2001 and it described the rebel organisation as the sole representative of Tamils, until the latter’s leaders were decimated by the security forces in May, 2009.
However, on the other hand, one might also argue that there is nothing to be surprised as this was the terrorist organisation that eliminated Appapillai Amirthalingam, the TULF leader, who was one of those who toiled hard to internationalise the Tamil Eelam struggle in the late eighties.
It is not sure whether the TNA leadership would have admitted the version given by the Police on the plot, had the target of the assassins been a leader of a Southern or Eastern political party. However, with the prey being a top leader of it, the party is in a difficult position and has been compelled to accept the reality.
The Jaffna District Parliamentarian had reportedly requested the authorities to investigate into the diaspora link to the attempt on his life. The Tamil media also seem to have faced with a similar predicament in accepting that the conspiracy to kill Sumanthiran had been hatched by the LTTE remnants.
Stories about the arrest of rehabilitated former LTTE cadres had been published in the Tamil media before Jeyaraj broke the news on the plot, but it was depicted as a move to harass them.
And many Tamil media outlets, while dissociating with the ideas against the LTTE, follow a policy that does not support the TNA’s conciliatory approach towards the Government.
Hence, the breaking of the news by Jeyaraj, also a Tamil from the North, seems to have put the Tamil media as well in a difficult position.
This was the second most important discovery of LTTE activities in the country after the so-called Yahapalanaya Government of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Government was formed in January 2015.
With new Government being accused of being soft on Tamil separatist forces by the Mahinada Rajapaksa loyalists or the so-called Joint Opposition, the success now by the Police in thwarting a major military-type attack on a politician by the defeated rebel members is no doubt, embarrassing for the Government.
When a suicide jacket was recovered in April last year from a house in Jaffna and a prominent former LTTE leader, the commander of the outfit’s elite Charles Anthony Brigade, Sivamoorthi Kanapathipillai alias Nagulan was arrested, the Joint Opposition was on record by accusing that the Government had allowed the dead terrorists to resurrect by providing them oxygen.
They had been able to support their argument with some of the actions by the Government such as the move to replace the draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) with a new law in line with the resolution adopted in 2015 at the UNHRC.
In fact fear mongering on the possibility of LTTE being reviving its activities would become easy, when something with the hallmark of the organisation takes place. Proportionately it is difficult for the leaders of the Government to defend it while there are evidences to say that the LTTE remnants are in action again. The Mahinda loyalists too are apparently in a quandary as to whether they should accept the story or not.
Mahajana Eksath Peramuna (MEP) leader Dinesh Gunawardane, one of the senior most politicians in the country, seemingly accepting the version published in the Daily Mirror had demanded a thorough investigation into the said plot. However, Mahinda loyalist Dr. Wasantha Bandara, the General Secretary of the National Patriotic Movement, had told media that the story was a drama collectively stage-managed by the Government and the TNA, in order to bring in Federalism into the country.
Whenever signs of LTTE raising its head again, many politicians in many political parties contend that the Tamil separatist ideology has not been defeated, in spite of the separatist armed struggle having been contained in 2009. In fact neither the Rajapaksa Government which carried out many development projects in the north and the east nor the Maithri-Ranil Government that took many conciliatory measures towards the Tamil community have been able to win over the Tamil people and ideologically integrate them into the Sri Lankan society.
It is where the threat of another separatist movement lies, as they had also disgruntled extreme Tamil nationalists. Fund raising in other countries, especially in Europe, the US and Australia, in the name of their compatriots back home by people belonged to all three major communities in Sri Lanka is an undeniable fact.
And some of them need warranting situations- real or perceived or concocted- for the purpose. With success in the efforts to persuade the Tamils mainly in the Western countries to donate money for the purpose of Tamil Eelam tapering, possibility of the LTTE lobby spending such collected money in order to create such situations is undeniable. Apart from the ordinary Tamil people, who are still detached ideologically with the Sri Lankan polity, there is a strong breeding ground for separatists among the former LTTE cadres, who are a beaten track to tread.
Reports in Tamil media claim that the former rebels are a highly frustrated lot among the Tamil society, especially in the north as they have been rejected by the very Tamil community that they had once fought for. Though the Tamils and the Tamil media hold sympathy towards the ex-Tigers they who were once revered as freedom fighters and “our boys” are not recognized properly as ordinary men and women by Tamil society.
The best case in point was the casting away of the political party that had been formed by the former LTTE cadres in to the trash bin at the last Parliamentary elections by the Tamil people, while the TNA that used the name of the same organisation got a landslide mandate. The former militants are in a way “excommunicated” by the very Tamils mainly in matters such as marriage and employment, many reports say.
The situation among the ex-female cadres is said to be worse. Subramaniam Sivakami alias Thamilini, the former leader of the women’s political wing of the LTTE in her autobiography quotes one of her colleagues in the organisation as recalling two totally contrasting situations she had encountered. She had said that she was received and loved by the people as one of their own children, when she went to her village in striped Tiger uniform and a weapon during the heyday of the outfit, whereas she had overheard someone from the same village saying after the defeat of their struggle, she should have taken cyanide without coming home.
According to Thamilini another one had been disparaged as a prostitute of the SL Army. One of the main reasons for the “excommunication” of the former LTTE cadres has been the constant observation of them by the Security Personnel, which is seen by the others as a security threat to them and their young children. Whatever the reasons may be, the reality is that they are a disgruntled lot vulnerable to be exploited by the separatist forces. It is a serious matter for which a solution has to be found collectively, through an in-depth discourse, without passing the buck or pointing fingers at each other.