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Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Tamilnation > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Conflict Resolution - Tamil Eelam - Sri Lanka > Norwegian Peace Initiative Geneva Talks & After > EU, co-chairs can't halt Tamil Eelam goal

Tracking the Norwegian
Conflict Resolution Initiative

EU, co-chairs can't halt Tamil Eelam goal

M.R. Narayan Swamy, Indo-Asian News Service
1 June 2006

Sri Lanka may be celebrating the European Union's ban on the Tamil Tigers and the co-chairs' warnings to further isolate them, but none of these is likely to halt the group's determination to achieve a Tamil Eelam state.

If the past is any guide, the European Union decision, no doubt a major blow to the Tigers, will fail to make the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) give up its goal of carving out an independent homeland in Sri Lanka's north and east.

It is even doubtful if the LTTE will come running back to the negotiating table in Geneva.

The statement of the co-chairs to the peace process, highlighting publicly the international community's frustration over Colombo's failure to provide a system of governance that takes care of the rights of minorities, is just one reason why the LTTE will remain wedded to its cause. But it is not the only one.

Historically, the LTTE, with its strong cult of martyrdom and devotion to its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, has never danced to the tunes of outside forces even while giving such a picture, at times, for tactical reasons.

'The LTTE,' Prabhakaran had once triumphantly declared, 'will never allow a foreign force to intervene and dominate our people.' The statement, made years ago, remains true even today and is applicable to all countries, be it India, Norway, Japan or the US.

Unlike Colombo, which often seemingly behaves in a confused manner, the LTTE, by virtue of being a highly centralised and militarised force, constantly does deeper analyses of events that affect its existence and future growth.

As months went by, it would have been clear to the LTTE that the Norway-sponsored peace process was aimed at arresting its goal of breaking up Sri Lanka. In other words, it is the LTTE that would be expected to give up its bottom line, not Colombo.

This itself is an asymmetry the Tigers would find it difficult to swallow. But they went along with the peace process as long as it helped them gain strength and recognition they crave for.

However, the peace process could not prevent the Tigers from striking at the enemy when they wanted, irrespective of the cost they knew they would have to pay.Much of the outside world's simplistic understanding of the LTTE made them believe that the Tigers would not risk another war, notwithstanding the many threatening statements in recent times from their senior leaders.The April 25 suicide bomb attack on the Sri Lankan army chief in Colombo shattered that wishful thinking. The general miraculously survived.Had he died, Sri Lanka could have unleashed a war, and the Tigers would have gone into it without battling an eyelid.

Helping the LTTE to remain on the Tamil Eelam track is Colombo's seeming inability to come up with a credible devolution package that could greatly diminish the appeal of a group that runs today, with undisguised pride, a de facto Tamil Eelam state in Sri Lanka's northeast. But as Prabhakaran stated in his November 2005 speech, the gulf between the Tigers and Colombo is very wide. It is now unlikely to be bridged.

The situation in Sri Lanka poses an enormous challenge for India. Having outlawed the LTTE, a good 14 years before the European Union, it has no leverage over the group and cannot even try to influence it. In any case, the Tigers are not going to listen to New Delhi.But India has a certain clout in Colombo and it can make it clear to Sri Lankan leaders - forthrightly and without mincing words - that the only alternative to anarchy in the island is a genuine devolution of power to the Tamil and Muslim minorities.

If the decisions by India, the US and Britain to dub the LTTE a terror group did not force it to give up its ways, the European Union is not going to succeed with its ban.Years ago, when he was based in India, Prabhakaran was asked what he would do if India stopped supporting the Tamils.His reply was revealing:

'India's sympathy is a morale booster, but should India withdraw support it would not mean the end of our liberation struggle. After all we did not start our liberation movement with India's support or with the help of some other external forces. We will fight till we die. When I die, someone else will take over... If my generation dies without attaining freedom, the next generation will carry on the struggle.'

Polemics? May be, and may be not.




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