Dr Rajan Hoole, a Tamil rights activist who won the Martin Ennals award recently, has warned the Sri Lankan government against killing the LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran. Prabhakaran's destruction through military action would only result in his becoming a more dangerous legend among the Tamil people than he was already, he said.
"Treating the destruction of Prabhakaran as an end in itself, would make him an even more dangerous legend among the Tamils everywhere," Hoole said in a statement on monday.
Reacting to the Sri Lankan Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's declaration that there would be a political settlement only after the Tamil Tigers were militarily crushed, Hoole said that this was putting the cart before the horse, and would be completely counter productive.
He said that a reasonable political solution, taking into account the long standing aspirations of the Tamils, would have to be offered to the Tamil people as a priority. That would enable them to reject the LTTE's violence, intolerance and separatism.
"The LTTE must be defeated, but the way it is defeated is crucial. Its ultimate defeat could only be achieved by the Tamil people given adequate democratic opportunity," the activist said.
Hoole, who heads the University Teachers for Human Rights (Jaffna), said that without a political solution on offer, it would be very difficult for the Tamil moderates to wean the Tamil masses away from the LTTE.
Tamil moderates, like himself, were having great difficulty trying to convince ordinary Tamils living in the neighbourhood and the Diaspora, that the LTTE had been committing crimes against the Tamils themselves, Hoole said. He was often reprimanded by the Tamil people for exposing the LTTE's violence. Their argument was that there was a powerful government in Colombo "committing terrible atrocities" against the Tamils which had to be fought and in that context, it would not be prudent to expose the wrong doings of the LTTE.
Hoole said that the Sri Lankan government was wrong in taking Indian support for granted. According to him Indian were feeling that if the Sri Lankan government continued to be insensitive to the political demands of the Tamils and concentrated only on military action, a separate "Eelam" might be inevitable.
"Disregarding Tamil aspirations and stocking up an excess of hardware to defeat him (Prabhakaran) militarily, would make him a more dangerous legend, dead or living. People would then remember him not as a villain who brought ruin on the Tamils, but as the man who understood the Sinhalese polity and refused to bow down," Hoole warned.