Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
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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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State> Tsunami Disaster &  Tamil Eelam > LTTE's Efficient Military Machine Started Aid within Minutes

Tsunami Disaster & Tamil Eelam

LTTE's Efficient Military Machine Started Aid within Minutes
Arthur Max, 3 January 2005

Courtesy: Associated Press Report - Kentucky Lexington Herald

Killinochchi, Sri Lanka - In times of crisis, envy the authoritarians.

Veterans of a long guerrilla war, the Tamil rebels who control northern Sri Lanka moved with military precision to help victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami. The speed and efficiency of the massive humanitarian operation showed an administrative capability that underscored the rebels' demand for Tamil independence from the Sinhalese-dominated southern part of Sri Lanka.

Within minutes of the disaster, soldiers of the Liberation Tigers for Tamil-Eelam, or LTTE, were evacuating survivors and pulling bodies from the still-roiling water, said villagers and aid workers. In a well-practiced drill, squads set up roadblocks to control panic and prevent looting. Others requisitioned civilian vehicles to move the injured to hospitals. Many donated blood.

Teams with digital cameras and laptops moved into disaster zones to photograph the faces of the dead for later identification, then swiftly cremated or buried the corpses.

Sathinathan Senthan, the village mayor of Kallappadu, said boats of the elite Sea Tigers, the LTTE naval arm that had a base at the neighboring town of Mullaitivu, arrived even as the tsunami floodwaters were receding. Other sailors arrived on bicycles, he said. "Until now, they are still there," Senthan told a reporter in the refugee camp, where he was trying to hold the grieving survivors together. Half his village of 2,200 people was killed, he said, and not a building remained standing.

By the end of the first day, the first refugee centers were set up. Women in the Tigers' camouflage uniforms began registering the survivors and recording the relief items they received -- ensuring no one got more than he or she should.

"They applied a very efficient military machine. All they had to do was give the command," said Reuben Thurairajah, a British doctor who watched the maneuver in amazement.

Meanwhile, in the south, the government was struggling to cope while politicians argued over who was in charge. From the field came isolated reports of corruption and hijacking of relief trucks.

Thurairajah, a volunteer public health officer who was in the area several weeks before the tsunami, said the Tigers were scrupulous in ensuring equal distribution of aid.

"If they have 100 bars of soap and 800 people, they'd rather not give it to anyone," he said.

The tsunami brought an equal measure of tragedy to the Tamils of the north and the Sinhalese of the south. Nearly 30,000 people have been killed, a crushing toll for a nation of only 19 million.

Yet that is less than half the number of casualties from this island's 20-year ethnic war.

Tamil nationalists have been fighting for independence for the north and east, where the minority group is concentrated, since 1983.

A shaky cease-fire has held since February 2002, but peace talks broke down more than a year ago over the Tiger's demand to have a recognized self-governing authority while a final settlement is negotiated.

"Both sides are acutely aware that the way the relief efforts are being handled can affect their political status," said Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu, head of the Center for Policy Alternatives.

The Tigers are likely to showcase their smooth handling of aid as they argue for autonomous authority.


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