Commemorating the dead

(Courtesy of  The Island)

There has been a real hullabaloo over the commemoration of the LTTE terrorits who perished in the final battle of the Vanni war. There is nothing wrong with commemorating the dead so long as commemorative events are not used as rallying points to revive terrorist groups and promote their macabre causes, which are a threat to the civilised world. Several attempts to revive the LTTE have been reported since its defeat in 2009. Last month, a Tamil Nadu court sentenced four LTTE supporters to jail for procuring weapons and trying to smuggle them to Sri Lanka. On Saturday, LTTE backers hacked the Tourism Ministry website. The army has unearthed a large number of LTTE arms caches in the North and the East. It is believed that there are many others. About 12,000 LTTE cadres have been rehabilitated and released. The government is troubled by the so-called wimp factor; its leaders, some of whom have a history of appeasing the LTTE, are widely considered lily-livered and incapable for facing serious threats to national security. So, those who warn of a possible revival of the LTTE and inveigh against the government for turning a blind eye to that possibility cannot be faulted for seeing more devils than the vast hell can hold.

Opinion was divided on the victory day parade (VDP) even among those who fully backed the country’s war against the LTTE. It was viewed, in some quarters, as an event the last government commenced at an enormous cost to make political mileage out of the defeat of terrorism, for electoral purposes. However, it was not the financial considerations which led to the present dispensation to scrap the VDP. It is only natural that nationalist groups think the cancellation of the VDP was consequent upon the yahapalana government’s capitulation to the dictates of LTTE sympathisers in the garb of foreign diplomats. Preposterous utterances by some government top guns with a reputation for appeasing the LTTE and opposing the war have made the situation worse. Their attempts to compare the LTTE with the military and justify pro-LTTE activists’ claim that the army committed genocidal violence have riled the victims of terror beyond measure.

The LTTE committed, in the name of a struggle to carve out a separate state, heinous crimes such as child abductions, political assassinations, the brutal suppression of dissent, civilian massacres, extortion, running illegal prisons, torture, producing human bombs and the destruction of properties. Anyone who commemorates the dead Tigers and espouses their cause has no moral right to talk about human rights. The same goes for those who refrained from condemning terrorism.

The government must probe the allegation that public funds have been utilised by the Northern Provincial Council for LTTE commemorations. If anyone has done so, he or she must be dealt with under the offences to the Public Properties Act. After all, that is what the government has done in connection with a controversy over the Rajapaksa memorial in Hambantota.

Meanwhile, President Maithripala Sirisena, speaking at a ceremony to mark the ninth anniversary of the defeat of terrorism and commemorate the military personnel killed in action, tore into some government grandees who, he said, had failed see the difference between the war heroes and terrorists. He is adept at dissociating himself from the government he heads whenever it draws flak.

It was obvious that President Sirisena took on some government worthies including Minister Rajitha Senaratne, without naming them. Senaratne has come under heavy fire over some statements he made about the LTTE and the army. Interestingly, he was one of the first few politicians to leave the Rajapaksa government in support of Sirisena, who defected to run for President. Senaratne’s utterances pale into insignificance in comparison to the serious allegations the TNA levels against the army. The TNA also backed Sirisena to the hilt in the presidential race and, in fact, he would not have been able to secure the presidency without its unstinted backing. The TNA can also be bracketed with those the President flayed, on Saturday. Besides, the President’s Chief of Staff and two corporation chairmen, appointed at his behest, have been arrested for bribery and fraud. Some of his partners in the yahapalana government have been exposed for their involvement in the bond scams. The conduct of those, whose company the President has chosen to keep, does not allow one to have a favourable opinion of his judgment.

What action does President Sirisena propose to take against the government bigwigs who vilify the security forces he claims to hold in very high esteem? Let him be urged to fish or cut bait.

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