I believe that it is vitally important that we examine the past and try to derive an objective narrative of the history of the National Question. Hopefully, this will provide a perspective from which to analyze the roots, origins and nature of the protracted internal war that ensued, and reveal the real politics that generated, and gained from it. Most of all, it would provide a framework to analyze the basic contours of the political crisis that has engulfed Lankan society. This understanding would be crucial in analyzing the emerging momentous political conjuncture shaping up, and in identifying the various agendas and solutions offered, and the way forwards for the people of Lanka. The character of the war determines the content of the peace. The end of the war in military terms has resulted in opening up and intensifying new fronts of volatile conflicts in an arena of ideological, political and diplomatic confrontation. At the very base of this simmering cauldron of intersecting conflict is the fire of an angry, hungry, degraded and subjugated mass of suffering people across the borders and the barricades, throughout the Land, that wish to bring down the system, and the entire edifice of the State that account for all the pitiless, heartless death and destruction wrought upon the Land and the People of Lanka. The way you understand and where you stand on this pivotal question of analyzing the historical narrative of the National Question and the root causes of the war, will determine how you seek and stand for a solution. It will determine how you view the path and method of overcoming this engulfing crisis.. It will determine the scope of your vision and the depth of your commitment to seek the most advanced democratic path of struggle and transformation which would ensure the willful eradication of the structural roots and foundations that had led to the war. Or else, peace shall be but a prelude to war.
The National Question and the related issues over the war remain at the center of a virtual political storm. The charade being enacted in Geneva centers on the Tamil National Question. Issues of reconciliation and accountability, human rights and rule of law have surfaced due to the consequences of the war. We would do well to grasp the composite political objectives of this war, before we discuss the possibility of reconciliation and accountability, let alone hope for democracy, decency and freedom. It was, by all accounts, a gruesome and brutal war that bled our collective humanity and drained our sense of civilized morality and decency. Now, the horrors of the war are said to be over and peace, normalcy and freedom to have dawned on the people. Yet, the peace has become a living nightmare of mob tyranny and white terror. We are as divided as never before, with new ominous waves of communal violence and bestiality stalking the night. No one dares to speak and stand for the truth. Freedom and democracy stand mortally imperiled by a despotic greed for omnipotence and vainglory. The fate and the future of the Land and the People stand in the balance as never before in history. If we are to take responsibility for the liberation of the Land and the People, we would have to dig at the roots and foundations that have led us to this state of imploding, engulfing, organic crisis. There will be two sides to the story. The worst crime would be to present the effect as the cause and then beat the cause to death to extinguish it. This shall only serve to entrench and enthrone the cause. A fatal act of delusion and deception! An act of folly and self-destruction. Yet, the game that all tyrants and despots play!
The war was explicitly aimed at eradicating the scourge of ‘separatist terrorism”. If then, we would have to identify the historical roots and the structural foundations that account for the phenomenon of separatism and terrorism. There are two diametrically opposed and irreconcilable views on this question. Let’s look at the assumptions and premises upon which the Regime waged its war against ‘separatist terrorism’. Then let us see whether we agree on the character of the war and the peace that has been achieved. The two are mutually entwined, as in the logic of cause and effect. Lets break this slogan down to its constituent parts. It has been said that “ War is a continuation of politics by violent means”. Every war involves a contest for power. This war was intended at the military liquidation of the LTTE and with it, the political annihilation of the Tamil Nation. In its objective and in its essence, this was an all-out, no holds barred war waged by the Mahinda Rajapaksa Regime (MRR) to politically eradicate the right of self-determination of the Tamil Nation. That is, its right to determine its life and future, without any form of enforced external domination and subjugation. The political burial of this right, once and for all, was the final objective of the war. The slogan of a “war against separatist terrorism” implicitly contained its corollary in politically liquidating any Tamil claim to nationhood and statehood. This premise irrevocably contained the logical premise that Sri Lanka shall be deemed, signed and stamped as the exclusive and undivided property of the Sinhala people, more fundamentally of the Sinhala-Buddhist Nation. The war was based on the slogan of “Defending the Motherland”, which was conjoined with the slogan of Defending the Land, Religion and Language of the Sinhalayas. The war was dressed up as a patriotic war of national liberation of the Sinhala-Buddhist nation against its sworn historical enemies. Even a reenactment of a war of conquest of the pure “Aryan” race over the alien ‘Dravidian’ Tamil invaders. This was the composite and crudely, but cleverly, nuanced ideology that guided and fed the war. This was, and remains, the crusading mission that was daily injected into the blood-lines and drilled into the consciousness of the Sinhala masses, with appropriate ambience, and stupor. This agenda was enforced with singular, unwavering, ruthless determination by the MRR. All who stood in the way were (are) branded as traitors and silenced through abduction, assassination, torture and terror. A few survive to swim the tide and witness the light of day. To repeat, the war was aimed at the military liquidation of the LTTE and the political subjugation of the Tamil Nation. It’s political content was willfully and consciously designed to achieve the overall strategic objective of securing the undivided, absolute sovereignty of the Sinhala-Buddhist Nation (SBN). This paramount sovereignty is to be exercised under the class dictatorship and hegemonic rule and command of the MRR. Or, more accurately, the war was designed and waged to secure the undisputed and undivided political hegemony of the Rajapaksa troika and its dynastic oligarchy, in perpetuity, as the sole legitimate and paramount defender, inheritor and savior of the Sinhala-Buddhist Nation. This required that the enemy be militarily vanquished and politically decapitated so that the ‘Land of the Buddha’ be liberated from the scourge of ‘separatist terrorism’, forever and beyond! This was the political character and essence of the war waged by the MRR. Extolling the nobility, purity and ancient glory of the SBN had to be matched by an equally vulgar, exuberant demonizing and pulverizing of the enemy, taken and targeted to be the LTTE, and all those who did, and potentially would, be supportive and sympathetic to the cause of Tamil Nationhood and Statehood.. Naturally, logically and inevitably- in ideology, doctrine and practice – the war took on the character of an all-out, multi-pronged war of attrition and annihilation, waged relentlessly from air, sea and land by the concentrated might of a highly modernized and well-equipped armed forces – against the insurgent LTTE. This military strategy was applied with deep penetration tactics, lazer-targeted bombing, and intense, insistent encirclement and destroy’ campaigns which routed the LTTE and fatally cornered it in Nandikadal. In terms of its defining doctrine, premises, principles, and outcome, the war was waged to enthrone and entrench the absolute, undivided, hegemonic dictatorship, domain and rule of the Mahinda Rajapaksa Regime and the Rajapaksa dynasty- in perpetunity!
This war was supported by the imperialist and regional powers all the way through. They watched it on satellite. They all acclaimed the military victory of the State over ‘separatist terrorism’ and rushed to congratulate, embrace and reward President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. The horrific war crimes being focused on in Geneva were possible in no small measure due to the unfailing political, diplomatic, economic, military, logistical and strategic support and assistance provided by these very same powers. The lower ranks of the armed forces are not the real criminals. Nor are the Sinhala people to be held accountable. The real criminals are those who fathered, authored and commanded this criminal war of military liquidation, occupation and political subjugation.
More fundamentally, the real source of this extreme degeneration is rooted in the structure of the prevailing Neo-colonial, Comprador-Capitalist State and Political Order. The Geneva Charade is all about preserving this decomposed State, while tightening the screws on the MRR to get the house in order, fall in line and do business as usual. Or to get out of the way, so a better, more pliable agent can be placed in power. (This is the only pitiful chance that Ranil Wickremasinghe would have to ever come to power, for which he twiddles his thumbs away). Geneva is a cover up of the State and the System. Such horrendous crimes and atrocities are not confined to the last stages of the war. Communal pogroms, mass massacres, inhuman torture, gang rapes, extra-legal killings have been necessary instruments of rule of a defunct and rotting Feudal-Colonial/ Militarist-Chauvinist State. They have been a permanent feature of the politics of this State. So, why focus on the last stages of the war?
The oppressed Sinhala masses, themselves desperate, destitute, duped and degraded, were effectively and consummately manipulated to believe in this ‘crusading historic mission of a war of military conquest and political subjugation of the Tamil Nation’. They supported the war and the agenda en masse. That does not legitimate nor justify it. So did the majority-vast multitudes- support Hitler and Mussolini. There were several mutually reinforcing factors that went into this consensus and compliance. All the imperialist and regional predator powers backed the war to the hilt and legitimated and justified it. The neo-liberal Capitalist agenda requires a unified market, unlimited access to resources and a reserve pool of cheap labor to feed its growing appetite for inexhaustible profit and plunder. In the context of a shrinking economy, the war was powered by the need of a rising, vocal class of Sinhala bourgeois and petit bourgeois forces to extend their economic domain into the vast and fertile fields of the North-East,. It was driven by a bloated class of crony-mafia capitalists, made up of drug lords, international racketeers, war lords, corrupt bureaucrats, low-life brokers, murderers and rapists,- all kinds of creeps and parasites – who needed to open up lucrative investments in the region. These have taken the form of massive land grabbing and hosting luxury tourist resorts, golf courses, sports stadiums, casinos, bars, brothels and spas, sex trade and drugs that cater to a parasitic super-elite class and designed to grease the machinery of astronomical corruption and money laundering. The war was inspired with this comprador vision of filthy lucre, , fortunes and empires. The Maha Sangha – the Buddhist priesthood – yearned for claiming suzerainty over the whole island to expand its domain of land, wealth, privilege, status and power. It blessed the war. It was nurtured by genuine aspirations for peace and normalcy by the vast majority of war weary masses. These combined factors, and the sustained war propaganda impacted upon forming public opinion.
This impassioned popular support was no less fostered by the terrorist brutality of the LTTE directed against civilians and unarmed citizens. It was also sourced from a tortured, manufactured need for domination and supremacy by a long colonized and subjugated people, made to yearn for lost position and glory. This diabolical manipulation- and the war itself – was aided by the “Left” parliamentary stooges of the Regime, including the CP (Moscow), the LSSP and the JVP. It was blessed and advocated by the whole spectrum of the powers that be- by world imperialism and the global neo-colonial status quo. That is an overwhelming, incredible ‘national-international’ consensus! Perhaps the biggest ideological hijack after the Nazis- and perhaps in history.
This ruling ideology, military doctrine and the war itself was based on a lie- a grotesque and perverse distortion of the truth- that few today would dare to expose at the cost to their lives. The truth is that every successive regime unleashed and reinforced Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism as a tool to divide and deceive the masses. The State was founded by the British on the basis of entrenching majority Sinhala domination and supremacy under the hegemony of a Sinhala-dominated, lackey, feudal-colonial ruling class. This ruling class, in turn, entrenched the ideology and politics of Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism with passion and conviction. Each outdid the other in deceiving, terrorizing and robbing the Tamil Nation of its right to exist, reduced the Tamil people to a subject nation and degraded them as second class citizens. Each in turn politicized and militarized the State and political order in order to entrench its rule and perpetuate its power. It was the State that unleashed barbaric State terrorism on the Tamil people – and on the Sinhala youth. The politics of enforced, systemic and systematic national oppression and violent political subjugation generated the ideology and politics of ‘separatist terrorism’. The Tamil militants resorted to armed struggle when alternatives to peaceful, constitutional struggle and radical structural democratic change did not seem possible or plausible. The terrorism of the LTTE, deplorable as it is, was bred by the official, legitimate, systemic terrorism of the State. Both the LTTE and the JVP are responsible for their reprehensible brand of the politics of terror, and it should be definitively overcome by applying scientific principles of revolution and human liberation. Yet, it is the most profound crime to turn the truth upside down in order to make the real terrorists, the real criminals into victims, and make the victims appear to be the criminals. Turning cause into effect and effect into cause serves only the predator to legitimate his kill and continue to devour his prey. It is a preposterous moral crime against humanity. This twisted logic will never be a basis for reconciliation or accountability, nor for instituting democracy and freedom.
The MRR will not be held accountable for war crimes on its own accord, nor will it provide a democratic solution to the National Question. Since to do so would be to violate the holy mandate and its chosen mission, to betray the armed forces, to alienate the very social and political base it breeds and feeds upon. It would be to commit political suicide. It can only survive by further intensifying its militarist-chauvinist agenda, further centralize and concentrate all sources of wealth and power, consolidate its hegemonic dictatorship over society, entrench the Sinhala-Buddhist unitary State and enforce its dynastic will with naked terror. The 18th Amendment, the Divi Neguma Bill, the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill, the impeachment and sacking of the Chief Justice and her replacement by the dubious Hon. Mr. Mohan Peiris, politicizing the Armed Forces and militarizing the Police and the whole social order, the intended 19th and 20th Amendments are all part of enforcing this agenda, under the cover of legality. Needless to say, the Bodu Bala Sena and the Sinhala Ravaya are necessary instruments for enforcing this terrorist-chauvinist, mafia-capitalist dictatorship. Tyranny thrives in the contrived climate of impending doom and disaster, in the threat of unbridled violence and terror, in the abyss of calculated chaos and anarchy, requiring absolute submission to the writ and command of the one omnipotent Tyrant. The BBS has risen to its task.
If you are expecting truth and justice, democracy and freedom from Geneva, you will be sold down the tube. You may get some cosmetic, and ultimately illusory reforms- just enough to keep the system and the whole neo-colonial order afloat. Just enough oxygen to keep the rotting corpse alive- with or without the MRR. So, why focus only on the last stages of the war? Why zoom in on Mullaivaikal and Nandikadal? Why not hold the State and the System accountable for its litany of war crimes and inhuman atrocities? True, the crimes committed during this stage surpass all that went before. But these crimes are a continuation and intensification of the politics of the State, reinforced by every successive regime. Well, such accountability would not fall in line with the agenda of the imperialist and regional powers that seek to profit and gain strategic advantage from the Geneva Charade. None of these powers would want the whole damn State and system to be brought into question. That would put them on trial. This would surely feed into a righteous people’s revolution to uproot the rot and throw away the bloodied enforcers and build a whole new state without need nor reason for any form of domination, exploitation, oppression and WAR, upon the ashes and ruins of imperialism and neo-colonialism. That historic process must begin with a courageous assertion of the Truth, combined with an enduring sense of Justice, as the basis to unite all exploited and oppressed classes, nations, nationalities and communities in a common struggle to get beyond the Regime, the State and the System. An objective historical narrative of the National Question and a scientific analysis of the politics of war and peace of the MRR, and of the geo-strategic agendas of the range of predator imperialist and regional powers aligned in Geneva, is a first condition to serve the cause of Truth and Justice, secure Democracy and Freedom and to Map the Future.
*The writer is Secretary: Ceylon Communist Party (Maoist)