EU ban, one-sided and counterproductive - Balasingham
Tamilnet, 4 June 2006
Press Release together with Comment by tamilnation.org]
The EU ban on the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), is
"extremely harsh, unfair, untimely and one-sided unlike the Donor Co-chairs
declaration," LTTE’s Chief Negotiator and Political Ideologue, Mr. Anton
Balasingham, has told the Colombo based weekly, The Sunday Times. It is a
"misguided strategy," to assume that international proscriptions will
"encourage" the penalised organisations to pursue the road maps and guidelines
prescribed by the international actors, Mr. Balasingam said adding that the
"anti-terrorist age," ban on the Tigers, ignoring the political context,
historical background, was counterproductive and created serious obstacle to
The ban on the Tigers, in this "anti-terrorist age," when all forms of violent
struggles against state oppression and injustice, irrespective of their
political context and historical background, are conflated into a singular
phenomenon of terror, tarnishes the Tamil political struggle as a "phenomenon of
terrorism," severely undermining the moral validity of the political movement,
says LTTE's Chief Negotiator and Political Ideologue.
Some excerpts from the Interview follow:
Sunday Times: How does the LTTE view the EU ban imposed last Monday?
Mr. Anton Balasingham: The LTTE is deeply disappointed. It has its
implications for international recognition of our people's legitimate struggle
I think the European Union ban is
extremely harsh, unfair, untimely and one-sided, unlike the Donor Co-chairs
declaration, which is a well-crafted, well balanced statement censuring both the
parties for the escalation of violence.
In a conflict situation where both the principal parties or protagonists are
equally blamed for misconduct and serious breaches of truce obligations,
penalising one party harshly while condoning the other with gentle admonitions
(EU Presidency calling on the GoSL to curb violence in government controlled
areas) is unjustifiable and unacceptable. The ban is biased towards the state
actor and therefore one-sided.
In the LTTE's view the European proscription will have a negative impact on the
legitimate political struggle of an oppressed people. This action is not limited
in its scope to blacklist the LTTE as a "terrorist organisation". Rather, it
will tarnish the Tamil political struggle as a phenomenon of terrorism, severely
undermining the moral validity of the political movement. In this anti-terrorist
age, when all forms of violent struggles against state oppression and injustice,
irrespective of their political context and historical background, are conflated
into a singular phenomenon of terror, it has become extremely difficult for us
to convince the world of the legitimacy of our freedom struggle, where as Sri
Lanka, as a state actor, utilising the current trends of the global war against
terror, can easily condemn their opponents, who violently resist state
repression, as terrorists.
In our view the ban will not achieve its intended objective of curtailing the
sympathy and support of the European Tamil Diaspora for the Tamil Tigers and
their cause. On the contrary, this penalising act, that has deeply offended the
expatriate Tamils, will kindle the spirit of patriotism and heighten the
passionate support for the Tiger movement, as evidenced in the mass rallies
staged world wide, expressing solidarity with the organisation.
It is generally assumed that international proscriptions will "encourage" the
penalised organisations to pursue the road maps and guidelines prescribed by the
international actors. I think it is a misguided strategy. Such punitive measures
may have a counter-productive effect. Discredited, humiliated and globally
isolated by world governments, the LTTE leadership may stiffen its attitude and
adopt a singular, individualistic approach, as if it is freed from the
constraints of international norms and pressures. In such an eventuality it is
those proscribing international actors who may stand to lose their moral and
political authority to exert influence on the proscribed entity and hence, their
active, determinate role in the peace process will be severely diminished.
I think the European proscription is
ill-timed and premature. In spite of allegations of serious violations of
the truce, the LTTE has been reiterating its commitment to the peace process. It
has not abandoned the CFA, nor has it withdrawn from the peace talks. Geneva
talks were delayed by the acts of bad faith of the government, which failed to
contain the criminal violence of the paramilitaries and made trivial issues into
serious problems Therefore; the LTTE does not deserve such harsh punishment for
the stalemate in the peace talks. I cannot understand why the European Union
rushed to proscribe the LTTE before allowing time and space for the intervention
of the co-chairs.
Sunday Times: What impact will it have on the peace process? Does this mean the
end of the Ceasefire Agreement?
Mr.Balasingham: The European Union proscription will certainly have a
negative impact on the peace process. The LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka
entered into the Ceasefire Agreement on the basis of strategic equilibrium and
the peace negotiations resumed between the parties on the basis of parity and
equal status. These symmetrical relations between negotiating parties (between a
state and a liberation movement) will be seriously impaired when international
governments who are active supporters and custodians of the peace process,
decide to penalise one party as a terrorist outfit. This one-sided state biased
action will certainly deepen asymmetrical relations between the protagonists to
the advantage of the state actor, creating a serious obstacle to productive
The European ban will encourage the hard-line nationalist elements aligned to
Rajapaksa Government to adopt a hard-line position on the Tamil question and
embolden them to seek the military option to crush the LTTE. This situation
might create conditions for the current conflict to escalate into an all-out
In so far as the future of the CFA is concerned, the LTTE leadership will
continue to insist on the effective implementation of the truce agreement. The
only way to avoid the country sliding into the abyss of an ethnic war is to
protect and preserve the CFA and to implement the truce in word and spirit.
Sunday Times: In the light of the above developments does the LTTE want to
continue the peace dialogue with the government?
Mr.Balasingham: The LTTE is seriously committed to the peace process and
a negotiated political settlement. We will not abandon the peace dialogue. The
government has to create congenial conditions for peace negotiations by
implementing the resolutions adopted at the Geneva talks.