ANOTHER TIGER TACTIC
The latest LTTE offer for a ceasefire
was treated with the disdain it deserved by Minister Maithripala
Sirisena who reiterated the Government’s condition of an arms
surrender and a repudiation of terrorism by the outfit for such
an offer to be considered. The very same sentiments had earlier
been expressed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Minister
Keheliya Rambukwella, the Defence Affairs Spokesman.
Pro-LTTE TamilNet has quoted LTTE political head B.Nadesan as
saying that the outfit had no hesitation to a ceasefire in
response to Tamil Nadu leaders seeking a clarification on the
The long history of deception by the LTTE be it at the
negotiating table or ceasefire agreements have only served to
question the outfit’s bonafides, making any Government wary of
plunging into accepting LTTE offers.
Besides with the Government successfully forging ahead with
its humanitarian operations to rid the Tamil people from the
grip of the terrorists it is an obvious ploy by the LTTE to earn
some breathing space, as past events demonstrate.
The LTTE, which says it is the Government that pulled out of
the ceasefire, has conveniently forgotten that it perpetrated
thousands of ceasefire violations during the five years it was
in force. The ceasefire was confined only to paper due to these
actions of the LTTE. It was therefore not surprising that the
Government saw no need to continue a farcical ceasefire.
But the Government has not closed the doors to the LTTE if it
wants to reform itself, however unlikely that may seem. The LTTE
has not been banned, for instance. This time, the Government has
firmly announced several conditions such as a laying down of
weapons and talks within a set time frame. We recall how the
LTTE pulled out of talks earlier on the flimsiest of excuses. It
has also never shown a willingness to discuss core issues within
a given time frame.
Perhaps its ceasefire offer may have been timed to buttress
the campaign of Tamil Nadu film artistes who were staging a
hunger strike to force the Indian Government to intervene on
behalf of the Tiger which is on its last legs.
A group of Lankan artistes are preparing to send an open
letter to their protesting South Indian counterparts explaining
the true situation in the North. The letter is to be sent
through the Indian High Commission in Colombo.
The Sri Lankan film industry’s links with South India goes
back to the inception of the Sinhala cinema. Then, all films
were shot in Tamil Nadu Studios. Not only that our stars were
even made caricatures of South Indian actors and most of our
films were heavily influenced by the South Indian genre.
Today the Sinhala cinema has come a long way since those
early days and have even surpassed the South Indian cinema for
originality and quality. Still there has always been a residue
of the South Indian influence on the Sinhala film industry and
even today we see artistes from both sides undertaking visits.
In fact there has been a turnaround in that Tamil films are
today shot in Sri Lanka in abundance with industry persons
forging a close relationship. That Tamil films are still instant
hits in Sri Lanka also cemented these links further bringing the
two film industries close to each other.
It is in this context that one should view the present
situation where artistes from both sides are poised to cross
swords off screen over purely a domestic situation in Sri Lanka.
True, artistes in South India may claim a kinship with their
brethren across the palk strait and may be genuinely concerned
about their welfare. But responding the way they do with hunger
strikes and violent demos are clearly uncalled for in the wake
of the assurance by the Lankan Government that no harm would
visit the Tamil population.
They should be careful not to perform to the script of vested
interests who are all out to exploit the prevailing situation
for sinister purposes. The Lankan artistes have acted wisely in
not resorting to counter demonstrations and settled for merely
writing to their counterparts.
Through their conduct our artistes have shown their South
Indian counterparts that their deep links with each other going
down to the beginning of the Sinhala cinema could be harnessed
to bring about a rapproachment that would douse the flames of
extremism. Artistes on both sides of the divide should therefore
strive to forge a unity that could lead to a better
understanding of the situation and act as a catalyst for
rapproachment and reconciliation.