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The Tamil Tigers who have been waging this war have been considerably weakened by significant military gains by the armed forces. They have lost a large part of the territory they held including Jaffna, their hub, from where they were raising funds and launching the war. Tamil civilians in the North who had been the hapless victims seem to be completely disinterested in the Tigers and are coming in hundreds, defying the LTTE, to settle down in their homes in the North. They are looking for a better life after years of misery, and the reconstruction and rehabilitation programme certainly seems to be providing this. These clearly indicate that the LTTE dominance on Tamil thinking in the North is dwindling. Also the LTTE, which once used Tamil Nadu and India as their safe havens to launch their separatist campaign now find themselves completely driven off and shunned by them. These are the significant developments in the North of Sri Lanka.
The South which also had to bear the brunt of this senseless war has become ' war weary' and is yearning for a resolution of the conflict. The economic costs of the conflict are considerable with nearly one billion US dollars diverted annually for the war. Most analysts are of the view that a continuation of the war would certainly sap the resilience of the economy. The government has repeatedly indicated that they seek a negotiated political resolution, and in fact have set about formulating proposals to meet the legitimate concerns of the Tamils.
The international developments which led us to this perception are also many. The Western countries which gave abode to thousands of Tamils who left Sri Lanka in the wake of the conflict, are now realising that the Tamils seeking refuge in the West are not victims of any persecution, but in reality are economic migrants sponsored by the LTTE. The Western countries, with domestic pressures of their own, question the need to provide them 'refuge'. More important is that irrefutable facts have been presented to them of some of the criminal activities of these groups, directed at raising funds to further sustain the separatist war back home. Also in the wake of many terrorist acts world wide, the international community has recently been able to put in place a framework to monitor and control fund raising by terrorist networks such as the LTTE.
It is at this point in time, when the country is hopefully poised to take a turn for the better , that we are launching this international magazine, "Lanka Outlook". This launch issue presents articles centred around the above developments and themes. It is published by the International Foundation of Sri Lankans (IFSL), an organisation formed last year by a group of Sri Lankan professionals in the United Kingdom. It is a body without any allegiance or links to any of the political parties in Sri Lanka and is free of any communal bias. The mission of the IFSL as expressed in its objectives, is to promote and foster harmony and understanding among all communities in Sri Lanka.
To achieve this it has a three fold approach; to counter the adverse propaganda spread in the western media by Tamil separatist groups; to project the correct image of Sri Lanka as a multi-cultural multi-ethnic country with strong democratic values, and lastly to promote a peaceful resolution of the present conflict through political dialogue. The logo of the IFSL "Striving for Peace" symbolises its philosophy. 'Lanka Outlook' to be published quarterly by The IFSL will be the main forum through which these views will be articulated and the message on the need for peace disseminated.
In projecting our message we wish to make a few comments on the resolution of this conflict and the search for peace. The people of Sri Lanka have made great sacrifices and exerted tremendous efforts over the last four decades in search of a solution to this problem ; these efforts and sacrifices will be in vain unless the solution leads to durable peace and ethnic harmony. It has been made abundantly clear that the armed offensive by the government is waged not against the Tamil people but against those forces who oppose a peaceful resolution to this conflict; and to preserve the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of our country.
We appeal to the Tamils to recognise how a separatist ideology of liberation has transformed into an ultra-national ideology; one of subjugation and suppression of freedom and human dignity of the Tamil people. Tamil people need to be reassured that the defeat or marginalisation of this separatist ideology from the main stream of Tamil politics, does not mean the surrender of their freedom or a right to a just solution to their grievances.
We appeal in earnest to the Sinhalese people to recall the last forty years of their political history, which has been marred by failed attempts to resolve this conflict peacefully . We urge all Sri Lankans be they Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim, who wish to promote harmony and understanding, to resist ethnically divisive politics.
The Tamil expatriate population, the refugees and their organisations in the West have been collecting funds to sustain the war effort. Many of these organisations including professional and sports bodies, have been formed to entrench the idea of 'Tamil nationalism and separatism' in the minds of the Tamil people. These organisations seem to be not interested in a political dialogue for a peaceful resolution of this conflict, much to the consternation of the international community. We will do our utmost to expose these front organisations and the divisive nature of their activities. We will urge the Tamils to contribute to the common efforts of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the war devastated areas in the North and East, rather than contribute to the futile efforts in search of a separate state by violent means.
We invite everyone who subscribes to our mission outlined above, which is to work towards the resolution of the conflict and the restoration of peace and harmony, to join us and help Sri Lanka and its people.