It is a sea of change in the making. The international community is finally beginning to look beyond the LTTE; the world is expressing a growing interest in a democratic, civilised Tamil alternative to the Tigers.Sometimes the veil gets lifted and the ugliness underneath is revealed. Earlier posts on the Tigers here and here and links therein.
Last week’s EU resolution on the LTTE indicates, once again, that the international community is no longer willing to accept the Tigers as the sole representative of the Tamil people: (The EU) “recognises that the LTTE does not represent all the Tamil peoples of Sri Lanka and calls on the LTTE to allow for political pluralism and alternate democratic voices in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka which would secure the interests of all peoples and communities.”
The EU’s rejection of the sole representative fallacy is in the main due to the abominable nature and the execrable conduct of the self professed sole representative. The Tigers, by their own actions, have placed themselves so much beyond the pale that the need for a different, non-Tiger representation for the Tamils has become self-evident The million dollar question is whether the anti-Tiger Tamils can transform themselves to fill the political void that is being created by this increasing international de-legitimisation of the LTTE.
This bears repetition because it has lessons for those of us in the anti-Tiger camp as well – the increasing international isolation of the LTTE is in the main due to the untiring efforts of the Tigers themselves. As the latest EU resolution clearly indicates, the woes of the Tiger are of the Tiger’s own making. The LTTE is being punished not because it is a separatist movement or because it is an armed movement; the LTTE is being punished because of its terrorism and the crimes it is committing against the Tamil people, particularly civilian killings, child conscription and extortion in the Diaspora. Consequently the credit for the EU ban should, in the main, go to Mr. Pirapaharan; without his persistent barbarism this would not have been possible.
The ‘Black Sea Tiger’ attack on the Pearl II cruiser was probably the proverbial straw which broke the camel’s back – in the case of both the US and the EU. The Tigers are regarded as pioneers in naval terrorism. The suicide attack on the USS Cole was not the only time an Islamic terrorist group used tactics pioneered by the Tigers against Western targets; according to Maritime Intelligence Group the attackers of the French tanker Limburg (in 2002 near Yemen) also copied LTTE methods.
The Report of the Conference on ‘Maritime Security in the Asia Pacific’ organised by the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies opines that “the maritime strike capabilities of the LTTE maybe indicative of maritime terrorism in the future”. According to Michael Richardson of the Maritime Intelligence Group “the LTTE provides a case study of how terrorist groups can use ships” (A Time Bomb for Global Trade – Maritime Related Terrorism in an Age of Weapons of Mass Destruction). The international community therefore cannot turn a blind eye to the acts of terrorism by the LTTE; true the Tigers are not a direct threat to any Western power; but they constitute an indirect threat since their tactics are being studied and copied by other terrorist groups at war with the Western world.
UPDATE: Some -uh- background on the Pearl II attack here (site is pro-Tiger which is the reason for my hesitation in linking to it). Probably not a sound idea to attack a ship with UN monitors on it...
UPDATE2: You really ought to read the Michael Richardson article linked above and here.