Daily Archives: May 9, 2006
Japanese Special Peace Envoy Yasushi Akashi has failed to secure an appointment with the LTTE leader, according to press reports. He has been offered an appointment with the political wing leader instead. That is how the LTTE is treating poor Mr. Akashi, who has come all the way from Japan to meet, among others, the Tiger chief to discuss how to strengthen the battered truce. It is perhaps some consolation for Mr. Akashi that he will be able to meet President Rajapakse and other government leaders. What would have been the reaction of the Co-chairs and the whole caboodle of NGO activists had the President refused an appointment to Mr. Akashi? They would have done a King Kong-they would have beaten their chests, pulled their hair and made all sorts of threatening noises. But when the LTTE leader does it, they are as meek as house mice. Not a whimper of protest. Is it that they don’t want to mess around with the Tiger chief?
The LTTE is, to its credit, quite adept at handling diplomats. It may treat them to jumbo prawns and swap gifts but it makes it a point to put them also on a diet of humble pie once in a way lest they should overstep their limits. It has its own way of telling foreign diplomats where to get off. Remember how it reacted to the US Ambassador’s warning that if it returned to war, it would be doing so at a great cost. No sooner had the Ambassador uttered it than the outfit did start exploding claymore mines! The late Dixit may have been a viceroy of sorts in Colombo but he proved to be a failure in trying to contain the Tigers. They have even tamed New Delhi through their fronts in South India as manifest in the dithering of Indian leaders on the question of helping Sri Lanka deal with the Tigers.
Here in Colombo, government leaders fall over one another to receive the very diplomats who have been humbled by the LTTE. In other countries those diplomats won’t be able to meet anyone above a minister. Still the government gets a raw deal from them. Perhaps the government ought to borrow a leaf from the Tigers’ book on how to handle meddlesome foreigners.
Why does Mr. Akashi want to meet the LTTE leader in the first place? The LTTE is determined to avoid the Geneva talks through all sorts of dilatory tactics. It knows if truce talks reach fruition and pave the way for peace talks, a solution will have to be negotiated. Negotiations will warrant compromises from both parties. The government will have to soften its stand under international pressure. But can the LTTE give up its separatist demand and settle for less? Never under the present leadership! The on-going peace process started with an order from Prabhakaran to his cadres to kill anyone who gives up Eelam, at a press conference in the Wanni, in 2002. Unlike in the past, because of the involvement of the world powers, the LTTE cannot torpedo the present peace process. Therefore, it wants to keep the peace talks in suspended animation while waging a low intensity war which is more effective and less costly than a full blown conflict.
The LTTE is taking the peace process backward and not forward. After the Oslo summit, where federalism was prescribed as the solution, the LTTE shifted to the reverse gear. It put forth the ISGA demand and changed the course of the peace process and finally brought it to a complete halt. Today, what is being discussed is neither peace nor truce but where to land a seaplane! Even if Mr. Akashi were to buy the LTTE a seaplane, it would invent another excuse to delay talks. It is quite skilled in manufacturing excuses.
Or, it might go to Geneva for the second round of talks under pressure but will come back and explode more mines and commit a high profile assassination to ensure that there will be a gap of months between the second round and the third round.
So, even if Mr. Akashi had been able to have a private audience with the LTTE leader, he wouldn’t have achieved anything by way of taking the peace process forward. With the Tigers, he may talk the hind legs off a donkey till the cows come home but still return to Tokyo via Colombo without any positive results. Many before him tried to achieve peace in a similar manner only to realise in the end that they all had been barking up the wrong tree.
It is high time the Co-chairs realised the futility of their modus operandi.
Coercion is called for!
DBS Jeyaraj writing from Canada about the two auto rickshaws attacked by the army last weekend mentions about yodhayas eating kavum and also goes onto say, "The victims were from the so-called oppressed caste known as "nalavar". Due to their backwardness as a result of historical caste oppression few youth seek higher education."
Many Sinhalese in the South are unaware that the "nalavar" caste of Jaffna is in fact the ancient Sinhalese of Jaffna who have become Tamilised over the years because of South Indian influence.
Nalavar caste of Jaffna together with the Koviar (Govia) caste of Jaffna are Tamil castes mot found in Tamil Nadu. This is because they are the original Sinhalese of Jaffna who have become Tamilised.
In 1926 Mudaliyar C Rasanayagam writing in his book Ancient Jaffna states, "After the massacre of the Christians, Sankili’s ( king of Jaffna) insane fury longed for more victims and he fell upon the Buddhists of Jaffna who were all Sinhalese. He expelled them beyond the limits of the country and destroyed their numerous places of worship. Most of them betook themselves to the Vanni’s and the Kandyan territories (as per Yalpana Vaipava Malai by Mailvagana Pulavar translated by C Brito.), and those who were unable to do so became the slaves of the Tamil chieftains and are now known as ‘Kovia’, a corruption of the Sinhalese word ‘ Goviya’ or ‘Goiya’ and that their original status was equal to that of the Vellalas can be inferred from customs which are still in Vogue in Jaffna. The "Tanakaras’ and the ‘Nalavas’ of Jaffna should also be considered Sinhalese remnants in spite of the fanciful derivation of the word ‘Nalava’ given by the author of the Vaipava Malai. The Nalavas were perhaps originally the Sinhalese climbers and received the Tamil name on account of their peculiar way of climbing trees. They too became the slaves of the Tamil chieftains. The Tanakaras were the ancient elephant keepers and those who supplied the necessary fodder to the stables of the king. ( Sinhalese: Tana=grass). They perhaps on account of the service rendered by them were not expelled from the country and later became inseparably mixed with the Tamils among whom they had to remain………the fact that the Kovias, Tanakaras and Nalavas were originally Sinhalese can be seen from the peculiar dress of their women who wear the inner end of their cloth over the shoulders in a manner quite strange to the genuine Tamils." Page 382.
A mirror image of this ethnic conundrum exists in the South.
The tragedy of Jaffna is far more complex than the present day ethnic labelling and tribal instincts-Island-by Dushy Ranetunge