| by Shenali Waduge
( February 13, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Like all terror groups, LTTE earned its status. To be known as a deadly terrorist movement, to be feared and to be able to gain international notoriety the LTTE had to kill. From assassinations, to bombing civilians & economic targets to mastering the suicide bombing the LTTE has redefined terrorism. Is there any terrorist organization running its own police, judiciary, levying taxes, own healthcare & educational infrastructure? Has any terrorist group been treated like VIPs? What terrorist group is allowed to run international offices, hold demonstrations and even hold tete a tete with foreign Government officials? Ask the Scandinavian truce monitors, Scandinavian peace facilitators, a host of foreign diplomats, UN officials & INGO representatives to reconfirm the truth behind this statement. In understanding this fact it becomes easier to understand why an end to the conflict was never really meant to be and not because the Sri Lankan army could not defeat the LTTE previously. There were too many influencers internal & external that made defeating the LTTE almost impossible.
It is therefore not advisable to compare LTTE terrorists with other terrorist groups for no other terrorist group this century has been given clemency by the international community as the LTTE has enjoyed over 3 decades. If this seems too harsh a statement the international community may like to ponder over its role in the existence of the LTTE and realistically look upon what the international community could have done but chose not to do.
We know how “rebel” movements parachutes into “terrorist” movements, how they are linked to foreign governments who enjoy “hiring” these terror groups to exert pressure on politicians. Even these terrorist outfits including the LTTE must be baffled at how the world allows it to carry out its nefarious activities or better still these terrorist movements must be laughing at what fools the international community really are. Unlike other terrorist movements, the LTTE is well organized. It did not choose to depend on foreign links. It quickly maneuvered itself to create its own propaganda network & its own set of people located across the globe. These were to be known as the Tamil Diaspora made up of emigrants who went as asylum seekers to the West. Today, the Tamil Diaspora is close to 1m leaving just 1.4m Tamils in Sri Lanka. The LTTE was quick to create Tamil zones where Tamils would live together and run businesses this would enable better bargaining power over western politicians especially during elections. Should it surprise us when foreign MPs even speak atop LTTE stages or appear as chief guests to open LTTE tv stations? We are not surprised and it clearly demonstrates the level that foreign politicians have stooped to. The irony is that these white politicians seem to think we have to buy every word they breathe. So why this pretentious call for a “war on terrorism” was it meant to be a war only against “Muslim terrorists” or “terrorists” that the West hated? We are a little confused here!
The LTTE Tamil Diaspora is led by several factions – the British Tamil Organization, British Tamil Forum, The Federation of Associations of Canadian Tamils, French Federation of Tamil Associations, Australasian Federation of Tamil Associations, the White Pigeon, the International Tamil Rehabilitation Organization, The Transnational Government of Tamil Eelaam, the World Tamil Movement – there are so many groups openly propagating separatism, self-determination, some are giving heartening accounts of life in Sri Lanka when they have never set foot on the island, some prefer to parrot a trained set of grievances which the international community pounce upon to in turn use against Sri Lankan officials. With all these grievances and discriminations isn’t the international community curious to know how Tamils own far more business outlets in the capital Colombo than Sinhalese, how Tamils own SUVs, latest BMWs, that there are over 200 Tamil owned condominiums which are not rented out to Sinhalese in the heart of Colombo?, even the TNA who runs every now & then overseas to cry over the fate of the Tamils live with their families in Colombo, not one of them dared to even go to the North during the hayday of the LTTE since the LTTE was never shy to bump off their own people and there was no logic to these killings. If they were ever concerned about the Tamils suffering because of the LTTE who were siphoning off the provisions sent by the Government, did they even voice their concern with the LTTE? So for dear life, these TNA & TULF members were living amongst the Sinhalese.
The Tamil Diaspora has 2 tasks – to do LTTE publicity & to generate money. LTTE’s propaganda unit is also tasked to handle “diplomatic representation & mediation”. LTTE was able to generate income of $200m to $300m annually. Operational costs in Sri Lanka was $8m which left a staggering $192m profit. You can imagine how this money was used or rather on whom this money is being used. Even Amnesty International has admitted to accepting $50,000 from Canadian Tamil Congress. How many other organizations would have received similar amounts of “funds” is questionable & raises the question of what these LTTE front organizations is asking as favors in return! No other terrorist organization has been able to generate this much of money. From human smuggling, to narcotics, to credit card skimming, bank loan absconding – the LTTE is involved in numerous rackets which foreign Governments are very much aware of and they know that these illegal activities are being carried out by the LTTE. There is something puzzling about the logic of LTTE involved in smuggling Tamils out of Sri Lanka. For every Tamil leaving Sri Lanka does this not equate to one Tamil less in terms of numbers asking for a Tamil Eelaam, unless India aspires to make up those departing numbers by importing Tamil Nadu Tamils illicitly into Sri Lanka like they have done in the past. Apart from a few arrests nothing major has been done to even question the leaders of the LTTE organizations in these countries. Can we know why? To further bolster their impact the LTTE was quick to devise dates in the Tiger calendar to celebrate their “achievements”. These in turn became major propaganda drives in the West and afforded opportunity to hike the funds and use international platforms to wail over atrocities carried out by Sri Lanka. These “ceremonies” were all publicly held, they were announced publicly, funds were collected publicly but the question is if LTTE was a banned terrorist organization why were these events allowed to take place year in & year out? Why did western politicians not hesitate to attend? Better still why did these Governments even provide police? Was LTTE to be just a terrorist organization on paper?
Coinciding with the international ban the LTTE was simultaneously portrayed as a genuine national liberation movement engaged in a struggle for independence. Leaving aside these beautifully worded statements what about the people the LTTE started to kill? Were these not humans & were their killings not violations of their human rights and were these killings not against international humanitarian laws? Even when the LTTE took its killing overseas by assassinating India’s former premier Rajiv Gandhi not even India cared to turn the tables on the LTTE. We again reiterate that we do not buy India’s story that it worked against the LTTE after Rajiv Gandhi’s death. Decades passed & LTTE freely used India to even obtain medical assistance for its cadres.
So when the international community & India keep silent can we really blame the LTTE for continuing its killing….the LTTE must have thought they had a free hand to kill. For this the international community, the UN & India stand accountable. At times the LTTE has killed upto 100 people in one single act of terror – the Central Bank bombing of 1996 is one such example which left close to 2000 injured. But the world still calls the LTTE leader Mr. Prabakaran – fancy them calling (Mr).Osama! This is where the difference lies. A lot of hypocrisy at play. To whose benefit has the banning of LTTE really served. Anton Balasinghe & his wife who trained women suicide cadres lived in London, they openly carry out affairs on behalf of the LTTE and foreign officials even met with them. Scandinavian peace keepers & facilitators were practically chums of the LTTE and afforded step motherly treatment to Government officials. So for whose interest was the banning of the LTTE?
We do blame previous Governments for not having the pluck to take the decision to attack the LTTE and to trust that the military could defeat the LTTE. Nevertheless, in understanding that the international community & India were never really serious about LTTE being included into the “war on terror” we now realize that it is solely the international community, the UN & India that must take accountability for the death, the destruction and any sense of disunity that prevails. The Al Qaeda never did half of the atrocities that the LTTE has committed in 3 decades and if the world preferred not to take notice of the killings &gross violations of human lives by the LTTE, it is a very sad situation and the world must know the truth.
Close to 200 acts of terror by the LTTE has taken place on civilians alone in Sri Lanka throughout 3 decades with over 10,000 civilians being killed and an equal number injured and mentally traumatized. We like to know what the international community & India did to stop these acts of terror. It is because they did nothing and that the LTTE knew they would do nothing that the LTTE continued its killings. When the LTTE fighting power was extinguished militarily the international community suddenly wakes up to cry foul and remembers human rights – well what about the human rights of the people that the LTTE killed, do their human rights not matter to the International Community & India?