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Sunday, 19 July 2015

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Myth about LTTE's resurgence

Last month, the US came out with a report that claimed that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) International financial network was active.

Global terrorism on the rise
                                                                                                 (Al Arabiya)

In India, the Intelligence Bureau report referred to vulnerability and threats from 'Islamist terror outfits, remnant cadres of LTTE and Naxals' and had advised precautionary measures in reference to the Mullaiperiyar dam. Quickly picking a cue, the Tamil Nadu Government made this a big issue, and due to pressure from other political parties, withdrew the allegations.

The State Department's assessment, through its 'Country Reports on Terrorism for 2014,' acknowledges that the LTTE, which suffered military defeat in May 2009 at the hands of the Sri Lankan Government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa, has been 'largely inactive' since then. Yet, it adds, "The LTTE's financial network of support continued to operate throughout 2014."

There were no such claims by the State Department since May 2009 and most importantly in 2012, 2013 and 2014 when the US brought about three continuous resolutions against Sri Lanka to investigate war crimes committed during the last stages of the civil war which ended in May 2009.

The former Sri Lankan Defence Secretary, Gotabaya Rajapaksa on many occasions has spoken on how the LTTE has been completely wiped out.

The atrocities committed on civilians during the course of the wiping out of the LTTE constituted gross violations of the Geneva Convention, prompting Canada and a few other European countries to initiate action against Sri Lanka as they urged the UNHRC to investigate War Crimes committed during the course of civil war.

War crimes charges

In 2012, the US which joined the UNHRC and took the lead in bringing the first of the three resolutions in Geneva. Domestic pressure from Tamil Nadu prompted India to vote against traditional ally, Sri Lanka.

Many Tamils were apprehensive of the interest shown by the US in the Sri Lankan affairs. They felt that the US was more interested in neutralising the growing Chinese influence in the Indian Ocean region in partnership with the draconian regime of Mahinda Rajapaksa, the erstwhile President of Sri Lanka who did not toe the line of US, and was closer to China and Pakistan, at the expense of India.

The Tamils sensed that the US was using War Crimes investigation as a tool to check Mahinda Rajapaksa and to control him and his inclination to China, used the three resolutions and the UNHRC as a threatening tool. Now that the Rajapaksa regime is no more, the US wants to wean out of the web it has created for Sri Lanka.

The US has been successful in influencing regime change and place Ranil Wickremesinghe as the Prime Minister of the country. Now they are not interested in the issues of accountability and inquiry into war crimes. They did not pressurize the UNHRC to produce its report during the March Session and the report is to be submitted in September.

The US may not press for another resolution on a friendly regime. The ruse they are using is the nonexistent LTTE. The easiest way out is to create a sensation and divert the issue. There are enough number of people to write about the threat of the LTTE to the US, India and the world at large.

A recent illustration of that is the article reproduced in Eurasia Review on 28th June by N. Sathya Moorty, Director, Chennai Chapter of the Observer Research Foundation titled 'Sri Lanka: US Report On LTTE A Caution For India, Too.' The author wants the world to help Sri Lanka overcome the nonexistent terrorism threat.

The author pulls in the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam(TGTE) into this debate and projects them as a LTTE front organization which the TGTE never claimed. After the end of the war, the UN urged the Sri Lankan Government to address 'the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the Tamil people.' This was echoed by the EU, US, India and other countries.

Whatever the TGTE has done so far is not secretive, they have democratically elected their Members from 12 countries, and does the author seem to suggest that the TGTE is carrying out the unfinished agenda of the LTTE in a clandestine manner in which the intelligence agencies of the 12 countries have no idea? This is ridiculing the intelligence of the intelligence agencies and questioning the democratic space allowed to the legitimate aspirations of the people in these 12 countries.

The author further relates this problem to Tamil Nationalism in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and drags the name of Senthamilan Seeman who had organised a massive rally in Trichy on May 24, attracting a crowd of nearly 200,000 Tamil youth. This rally was organized in preparation for democratically contesting the state elections in 2016.

In his speech, there was nothing against India except for reiterating that India is a Union of States and the aspirations of the Tamils in Tamil Nadu need to be respected.

Tamil nationalism did not emerge out of sympathy for the LTTE. The concept of 'Tamil nationalism' was initiated at the end of the 19 Century mainly to protect the separate identity of the Tamil language. When a false impression was created that the pan Indian culture was Sanskrit, a section of educated Tamils asserted the point that Tamil culture was distinct from Sanskrit culture and demanded its independent recognition.

Tamil nationalism re-emerged recently as their legitimate humane issues have been completely sidelined by the Indian Government including issues such as the killing of nearly 540 Tamil fishermen by the Sri Lanka Navy, Cauvery water problem, the methane issue, Kudankulam nuclear power plant, which the Tamils do not want on their soil.

One must also note that for nearly 50 years a Tamil has not ruled Tamil Nadu as the Chief Minister with the exception of O.Paneerselvam, who was a dummy of J.Jayalalithaa.

The demand

The issue of the Tamil struggle for the right to self-determination in Sri Lanka must be understood from the prism of human rights not from the point of state security. Very few remember that there was not a single instance in history where the LTTE attacked US or Israeli facilities anywhere.

One must understand that the Tamil Diaspora does not have the backing of even a single state on their demand for a separate state and organisationally it is impossible for the Tamil Diaspora to seed another civil war in the present circumstances. Hence the world need not fear the re-emergence of the LTTE as 'Terror Group.'

The US should not go back on its promise to fulfill the legitimate demands of the Tamils in Sri Lanka and it must pursue its lost interest in pushing for an international inquiry into war crimes and crimes against humanity during the course of the civil war.

Dr. Paul Newman holds a Doctorate of Philosophy on Internal Displacement and Human Rights situation in Northern Sri Lanka from Bangalore University. He was one of the four public speakers at the Permanent People's Tribunal on War Crimes against Sri Lanka.

- Eurasia Review

 

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