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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 104

Tamil Tigers heading for disaster

From our Political Correspondent

Colombo, 07 January, ( The Government of Sri Lanka yesterday accused the Tami Tigers of "targeting civilians in the south with the intention of instigating a communal backlash due to military setbacks in the north and east."

Tigers facing severe military set backs have been threatening to hit back. On Friday and Saturday two bombs were set off in the south killing civilians. But the Tigers deny responsibility for "the two bomb blasts in the south of the island on Friday and Saturday." The Tigers say that this accusation is an attempt by the government to "discredit the LTTE."

Political observers note that the Tigers have repeatedly threatened serious repercussions and when their bombs go off killing and injuring civilians they deny responsibility. They also note that the Tigers have never accepted responsibility for any killings of civilians.

In recent times, the Tigers have been making desperate attempts to avert further defeat under the military offensive launched by the government. The Government is confident that the east will fall within the next two months. The Tigers also have been losing cadres heavily. Constant warfare is also depleting their stocks of arms and ammunition. Faced with imminent defeat in the east, their tactic so far has been to recruit the services of the Tamil Catholic Churchmen to campaign on their behalf by raising humanitarian issues.

Bishop Thomas Soundaranayagam of Jaffna and Bishop Joseph Rayappu of Mannar have been in the forefront of the Tiger humanitarian campaign. The objective of this is to halt the military offensive (not the Tiger violence) to prevent humanitarian crises. Bishop Soundaranayagam has been campaigning to get the A-9 road to Jaffna opened -- the road that brings in around Rs. 300 million a month. But the government has chosen the alternative sea route to send food. The Tigers were hoping to raise this as a humanitarian issue and put pressure on the government to cave in. But this tactic has failed. Last week MV Mercs Ruhuna brought supplies from Chennai. The failure to get A-9 road has been a serious political and economic set back to the Tiger plans.

On the military front too, the Tigers have little to boast about. Not knowing how to combat the advancing forces the Tigers are hoping to tie the hands of the forces through international pressure. Bishop Rayappu of Mannar was hastily summoned to the latest bombing site in Mannar to broadcast that the civilian casualties would amount to a "crime against humanity". The Ministry of Defence said that it targeted only a strong naval base of the Tigers. The Independent SL website accused Bishop Rayappu of rushing to the aid of the Tigers each time they are hit hard by the Security Forces. Political observers note that Bishop Soundaranyagam and Bishop Rayapu raise humanitarian issues not to save the Tamils but to save the Tigers.

Besides, pro-Tigers websites which were crowing earlier about the coming final battle of the Tigers are now playing up the "humanitarian issue" (example: food supplies to Jaffna) as they have no military victories to boast about. The death of Anton Balasingham too has been a serious loss to the Tigers.

All in all, the Tigers do on the back-foot not know how to go forward. They see no option now but to attack civilians in the south "to provoke a backlash". But the Sinhala community has refused to bite that bait since 1983. Tiger strategy, as seen in the two bomb balasts in the south last week, is to attack civilians. This is a counterproductive move, both nationally and internationally. There is a limit to the Tigers attacking civilians. There is no political gain either internationally or nationally in this killing spree. Every civilian death will be recorded as another charge in the list of crimes against humanity that will be leveled against Velupillai Prabhakaran in a future court of criminal justice. The Catholic Bishops also cannot go on like their counterpart in Rwanada giving a helping hand to their mob to kill their opponents with the blessings of the Church.

The only way out for them is to get back to the negotiating table -- even if it is only for a breather. The government is right when it says that the Tigers are facing severe losses like "military setbacks in the north and east and the mass exodus of Tamil civilians in the north and east." Tamil people are voting with their feet leaving even Vakarai where the Tigers a fighting their last battle in the east. The Vakarai people were kept under tight control by the Tigers but the disillusionment with the Tigers and their endless wars is driving the Tamils away from the Tigers.

The government is more worried about the backlash against the Tamils in the south than facing the Tigers in the north and the east. Hence the government appeals to the people to remain calm and not to fall victims to machinations of those trying to exploit the current tensions for their political ends.

The Tigers will continue to attack civilians in the south hoping for a communal backlash which will tie down the Security forces in the south. But another 1983 is not going to happen. So the chances are that the more the Tigers are forced to withdraw from their positions in the north and the east the more they will hit the south, committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The cards they have played in the past do not seem to work any longer. They have painted themselves into a corner and they do not know how to get out of it. The longer they perpetuate their senseless violence the more they are doomed to go down dragging the Tamils with them.

Given below is the Sri Lanka Government statement on the bombing of civilian bus at Godagama:

Government condemns brutal terrorist bombing of civilian bus at Godagama

"The Government vehemently condemns the brutal and inhuman killing of 15 civilians and injuring 42 others in an explosion of a public passenger bus near Godagama in the Meetiyagoda Police Division this afternoon. This dastardly act has all the hall marks of the LTTE attacks on civilian population. Police investigations are on to find out the perpetrators of this terrorist act.

"This heinous act of terrorism was preceded by a similar bomb explosion at Nittambuwa yesterday killing six civilians and injuring 57 others.

"It is a well known fact that the LTTE is targeting civilians in the south with the intention of instigating a communal backlash due to military setbacks in the north and east and the mass exodus of Tamil civilians in the north and east, including Vakarai to cleared areas, refusing to stay in the uncleard areas where the LTTE keeps the population under its tight control.

"There is a possibility of some sections may attempt to use such events for their own short sighted ulterior motives. Hence, the Government appeals to the people not to be mislead and fall prey to evil designs. The public should exercise utmost restraint and should be vigilant as the Government needs complete cooperation of the people to maintain law and order and communal harmony in the country.

"The Government is taking every possible step to eliminate terrorism. The Government reaffirm its total commitment to a peaceful settlement for the north and east issue. The Government appeals to the international community to condemn such acts of terror and prevail on the LTTE renounce violence and return to the negotiating table."

Also given below the statement of the LTTE spokesperson Ilanthirayan

LTTE defense spokesperson condemns GoSL attempt to blame LTTE

"The LTTE defense spokesperson Ilanthirayan speaking about the allegations made by the Government of Sri Lanka re the two bomb blasts on Friday and Saturday said,Government of Sri Lanka is trying to blame the LTTE for the two bomb blasts in the south of the island on Friday and Saturday. This is a baseless allegation made without any evidence to support it. GoSL attempt at blaming the LTTE is aimed at discrediting the LTTE."

"This is a feeble attempt by the GoSL which stands accused of horrendous and repeated crimes against humanity carried out against the Tamil people in the Tamil homeland," Ilanthirayan added."

- Asian Tribune -

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