It is widely held these days that
Before that, it is worth noting that the demise of the LTTE has been pronounced many times before in the past three decades; in the mid-eighties when the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) was starving and blasting the surrounded Jaffna peninsula, in 1987 when the Indian military began its offensive – projected to last three days – to disarm the LTTE, in 1995 when the SLA attacked and occupied Jaffna city and in 1997 when it pursued the LTTE into the Vanni. In all these instances, the self-evident end of the LTTE was based on two things: the overwhelming firepower it was faced with and the hopelessness of its situation made clear by the changing map. In this context, we suggest that analysis without all the facts is mere speculation and that neither the strategy nor the capacity of the LTTE are any more discernible today than they were in 1985, 1987, 1995 or 1997. (We realize, of course, that few non-Tamils credit the LTTE with any strategic foresight).
More importantly, we point out – yet again - that the Tamil armed struggle emerged in the context of inexorably rising Tamil outrage and hostility towards the successive Sinhala regimes that have systematically persecuted the Tamils – politically, culturally, linguistically and economically – and unleashed regular bouts of (first non-state and then state) violence against them. The support for Tamil Eelam since the seventies and – separately – support for the LTTE’s armed struggle are thus a direct consequence of Sinhala oppression via the mechanisms of the state. We suggest that
Thus, the crucial factor in deciding whether ‘
In that sense, the naïve faith that many Tamils had placed in the liberal forces of the international community has been thoroughly dispelled now. This week, for example, the European Union was once again anxious to reassure the Rajapakse government – the most openly chauvinist Sinhala regime of the past three decades – that they were keen to continue with business as normal. The relentless tide of extra-judicial killings and ‘disappearances’, the franchising of local governance to paramilitary sovereigns in the Northeast, the ethnic cleansing of non-Sinhalese (that the Muslims, to their alarm, are also suffering) and the naked chauvinism of the state are apparently no impediment to the arch-liberal EU.
In short, at no time before has the Tamils’ uniting sense of perilous isolation been more clearly delineated. This, moreover, is a consequence of the actions of the international community as well as the Sinhala state that it is supporting. This is why the wave of popular nationalism spreading through the Tamils – most palpable amongst the Diaspora – is serving to close ranks and swell support for Tamil Eelam and, consequently, the LTTE. The point here is that, for those who look beyond the maps of battlefield to the ‘root causes’ of war or the ‘foundations’ of peace, it should be clear where the island is headed.