5.18.2009

Sri Lanka says Civil War is over, Tamil Tiger leader reportedly killed


UN Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka of Sri Lanka (Photo: Ashahed M. Muhammad)



After three decades of a vicious civil war, the Sri Lankan government announced on May 18 that they have defeated the Tamil Tiger separatist group after reportedly killing their leader. I interviewed the UN Ambassador from Sri Lanka Dayan Jayatilleka at the Durban Review Conference in Geneva, Switzerland and I asked him about this specific conflict.

Ashahed M. Muhammad: What is the current situation in your nation with the armed conflict with the Tamil Tigers? There are many in the West who really just became aware that something was going on.

Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka: The Tamil Tigers must not be mistaken for the kind of liberation movement that we all support in the third world and in the first world from among oppressed peoples. The Tigers are a movement that is terrorist in the classic sense of the word. I use this not as propaganda but the fact that the Tigers assassinated the former Prime Minister of India Rajiv Gandhi who was the grandson of India’s founding Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru is a horrifying act which shows you the nature of that movement.

The Tigers have never taken a progressive stance on behalf of oppressed peoples anywhere in the world; they just talk about their own issue, which is why the pro-Tiger demonstrations that you see in various parts of the West today have not been supported by any country or any other peoples or any other movements. Sri Lanka is a small island. It is an island that is trying to keep itself together as a single country. It has state boundaries which are internationally recognized, legislative boundaries. It is hardly a place to be broken into pieces along ethnic lines. The people of Sri Lanka are not willing to allow their national sovereignty to be eroded or that national integrity to be destroyed by a secessionist movement of this sort. This is our equivalent of the U.S. Civil war.

We know that the southern confederate states attended to succeed from the union and set-up a very retrogressive form of society and we know that Abraham Lincoln waged what was a massive military campaign part of which was political effort of the emancipation of the slaves. That was not completed for over 100 years and in a way it’s still going on. The united people all agree that the United States civil war against the secessionists was a good thing, was the right thing to do. We are raising our equivalent and now it is down to the wire it’s the last stretch beyond the long stretch of eliminating this military challenge.


What is sad is that the liberal opinion in the West has been ambivalent, has even being very critical, unfairly critical of this Sri Lanka government. That is probably because of the power of lobbies and politics in some Western societies. In the United States, we know the example of the Miami and Cuban lobbies who have had a disproportion influence on U.S. policy toward Cuba. I know that Minister Farrakhan has consistently taken a stand against the continuation of this policy of the blockade, I heard him speaking on this. Now the disproportionate influence of the Miami Cuban lobby is the same kind of thing we see working in the United States, in Canada, in Australia, on the part of the Tamil lobby.

So these lobbies are pushing Western democracies into a stance that is unfairly hypercritical of a small country like Sri Lanka, this is saddening to us. But then again we will finish and win this war and we will win it soon. These weeks on the outside, more days then weeks, but weeks on the outside. We are resisting external intervention that seeks to save the Tigers.

Ashahed M. Muhammad: What kind of external intervention has there been?

Ambassador Dayan Jayatilleka: Well there have been signals and sounds. The Tigers see themselves as a kind of a Zionist movement. They openly talk about that as their model. They are using the same tactics that led to the Balfour Declaration.

History tells us that people who are minority in a certain area became a majority due to conscious Western sponsored policies of migration and support. This in turn because of the financial and ideological influence of certain lobbies in Western societies. This is the model that the Tigers are using, and there have been some takers in some parts of the world. We are very saddened by this because we are not hiding outside of our borders. Our borders are not internationally contested. These are international recognized borders. We are not in occupation of anybody. We have not dispossessed anybody. We have not blocked off exits and used (check-points) in highly populated built-up areas. We’ve been trying to rescue the innocent Tamil civilians who have been held hostage, captured by the Tigers and now as they come out between television and radio about how the Tigers shot at them, how they braved land mines to get to safety. So we are trying to free those people, we have not built walls around anybody. So we are just trying to keep our small town together and all our people and various communities together.
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