Tigers stewing in their own juice

The LTTE has suffered the worst ever setback. The EU ban has come at a time when the outfit is making grand preparations for the ‘final war’ to establish Eelam. Its separatist project has manifestly come a cropper, with another twenty five nations proscribing it as a terrorist organisation.

Now, the LTTE has two options: It must either mend its ways or continue with its terrorism. If what it has been doing since the EU issued the warning of a ban is anything to go by, then it is likely to opt for the latter. It flew in the face of that warning and threatened to step up violence as if to frighten the EU nations into submission. While the EU ministers were discussing the proscription on Monday, it massacred 13 civilians at Welikanda, in a dastardly display of hubris and barbarism.

The more the LTTE unleashes violence, the deeper it gets into the mire it finds itself in at present. Now that Washington and London know what it is like to be bombed, with fear of terror attacks looming large in other affluent capitals, if the Tigers resume bombing civilian targets here, they will be asking for more trouble. But there is no guarantee that they won’t do so. Prabhakaran doesn’t think like a normal human being. Rational thinking is alien to him.

The LTTE had been pressing its luck a bit too hard for a long time. It blatantly abused the sympathy of the western world to further its macabre cause. Like the megalomaniacs of the ilk of Pol Pot, Bokassa, Idi Amin and Papa Doc, Prabhakaran became too embarrassing for his foreign well wishers. The attack on a Navy fleet, despite the presence of Nordic monitors on board, was the biggest betise that landed the Tigers in the same predicament as the proverbial monkey that pulled out a wedge stuck in a half sawn log with some of its vital organs in between. As an AFP dispatch says quoting an unnamed EU diplomat, the LTTE brought the ban on itself. We couldn’t agree with him more!

The EU ban is an indication that the LTTE has outlived its raison d’etre and its wheel of terror has turned a full circle. Its armed struggle spanning two decades has earned it only bans in the end. If the LTTE was born out of the suffering that Tamils underwent at the hands of the Sinhalese criminals in communal riots especially in 1983 and their grievances that the Sri Lankan state had neglected for decades under predominantly Sinhala governments, today it has become a Frankenstein’s monster. Among its victims there are more Tamils than Sinhalese or Muslims. The entire democratic Tamil political leadership has been wiped out save one or two individuals; Tamil children are being abducted in their thousands and trained as combatants; the war-affected as well as the tsunami-hit are subjected to extortion and dissent is countered with terror. With the LTTE as ‘liberator’, they need no enemies!

Besides resolving to adopt tough measures such as freezing terrorist assets that would debilitate the LTTE as never before—from Europe alone, the outfit is said to raise over two billion rupees per month by way of extortion and allied rackets—the EU has dismissed the claim that the LTTE is the sole representative of the Tamils. The implication is that the government doesn’t have to confine peace talks to the LTTE alone. It should broad-base the peace process.

The government must be happy that the Tigers are stewing in their own juice. President Rajapakse has, so far, played his cards well. He has disappointed Prabhakran and his acolytes who expected him to tuck up his sarong, issue war cries and plunge the country back into war slap-bang. However, his government has a long way to go: It shouldn’t’ make the mistake of trying to make a bludgeon of the EU ban to beat the Tigers with, to the neglect of the problems of the minorities. It has to find a solution to the conflict acceptable to all stakeholders, without succumbing to extremism in the North, the South or the East. Good governance consists in, inter alia, the ability of the state to win the hearts and minds of the minorities and enable them to live as equal citizens with dignity.


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