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Selected Writings by Dharmeratnam Sivaram (Taraki)

 

Tigers two pronged strategy

Island International
3 December 1989


As the last Indian soldier leaves the shores of Sri Lanka and the North east Provincial Council crumbles with the imminent “re-induction” of his troops in the North and East, Prabhakaran has scored another point to support his longstanding claim: the only solution to the woes of the Tamil people is Thamileelam. Posters put up by the LTTE in Colombo and in the North and east last week to celebrate “the great heroes day” proclaimed the LTTE motto, “The thirst of the Tigers is for the motherland of Thamileelam.” Dr Balasingham and Yogi made it clear they had no hand in the actions of the Sri Lankan forces that saw the TNA [Tamil National Army] retreat from Ampara when they addressed public meetings at Pottuvil and Thambiluvil last week. They were trying to counteract Perumal’s persistent claim that they were operating hand-in-glove with the STF. Their concern to rectify the damage done to their nationalist image by this is evident.

From its inception the LTTE had a two-pronged strategy. One, to militarily struggle towards separation; the other to politically emasculate or physically eliminate those sections and individuals in the Tamil community having a manifest inclination to compromise, who had influence or were gaining it.

The two objectives are being strengthened once again with the imminent departure of the Indian forces.

Firstly, the LTTE’s morale has received a tremendous boost from the fact that it was the only force in Sri Lanka to have taken up arms to effectively oppose the presence of the Indian forces. Secondly, in the eyes of the Tamils, the Provincial Council- the latest post independence ‘solution’ to the problem of Tamils- and Varatharajah Perumal, who has spoken in the name of unity and integrity of Sri Lanka, may now both appear ephemeral. This would appear to strengthen the LTTE’s point that compromise does not politically gain anything for the Tamils. (Yogi said in Thambiluvil that the Provincial Council was nothing more than a Village Council.)

TULF’s decline:

The campaign against the DDC’s [District Development Council’s] was the beginning of the TULF’s decline. The TULF’s compromise on the DDCs and their decision to participate in their election was the basis on which their general alienation began. For the LTTE, the 1977 elections were only a ‘referendum’ which confirmed the Tamil people’s commitment to a separate state. The Tiger claim is that they and only they have not betrayed the mandate given by the Tamil people and that their struggle for a separate state is based on this mandate. The latest issue of the pro-LTTE paper “Unmai” condemns the Northeast Provincial Council as one that has shamelessly sold the Tamils and the Tamil soil. The paper constantly endeavors to portray Perumal as a traitor. The style and content are reminiscent of the anti-TULF literature of the early 1980’s put out by almost all the militant groups.

In 1983, when PLOTE was the first militant organization to warn of ulterior and deleterious Indian designs on the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka with the publication of a book “Vankam Thantha Padam” (The Lesson that was Bangladesh) the LTTE had not come to face with the so-called geopolitical realities.

The “Broken Palmyrah” says: “And it [the LTTE] was falling short by not conceptualizing India’s needs and aspirations so as to construct a path of accommodation of the geopolitical reality without total dependency and capitulation.” (But on the other hand, the ‘terrorist interpretation’ of Hegel may have it that ‘success decides the truth’).

In early 1986 the LTTE exterminated TELO in a ruthless and bloody massacre and told the Tamil people they had done so because TELO was acting in the interest of India. At that time, this view came as a surprise to many among the Tamils who continued to look upon India as the ultimate guarantor of whatever Sri Lankan Government might concede. From then on, the LTTE made all efforts to make it clear to the people that India’s assistance was appreciated, but not its interference.

LTTE’s tactics:

Despite criticism about the LTTE’s naive attitude towards India, its propaganda continued to be directed against any compromise with the Sri Lankan government on the basis of India’s various proposals. In 1986, the LTTE went so far as to solicit the support of the EPRLF, PLOTE and Panagoda Maheswaran’s TEA- all of whom were extremely suspicious of the Tigers because of what they had done to TELO only a few months before- to organize a mass rally to protest the talks in Colombo. By January 1987, the LTTE had created a situation on the ground in the North and East where for either India or Sri Lanka, there were only the Tigers to reckon with. The LTTE’s solution to the intricacies of ‘geopolitical reality’ was to make itself the sole representative of the Tamils so that regional hegemony or Sri Lankan diplomacy would have no way of advancing its interests without this being in some way tactically advantageous to the LTTE.

Nevertheless, the Indo-Sri Lanka Accord opened an avenue which the LTTE thought would never open. The Accord brought Colombo as a direct factor into Tamil militant politics for the first time. The Indian Army in the North and East and the training and weapons given just before the Accord made it possible for the other groups to function and enter into dialogue with Colombo. The LTTE was once again faced with a threat of ‘compromise’ which they assumed they had banished for good or exterminated.

Varatharajah Perumal remains.

If a solution put forward by the Sri Lankan government and the Indian Government and sustained by the world’s largest army could fall like a domino, then what will save the Tamils from their misery? It now seems that once the Indian army withdraws completely, only the LTTE will be around, with its ultimate remedy. Like Amirthalingam, Perumal also has to be politically emasculated. Therefore, effecting a legal dissolution of the Northeast Provincial Council and a subsequent rout of Perumal- which would be guaranteed by popular support in the North and domination on the ground in the East- in fresh elections, would leave the LTTE as the only credible representative of the Tamil people and its goal, Thamileelam.

Delhi’s primary objective once all its soldiers have come back home will be to have a war going on between the Tamil militants and the Sri Lankan government which would be the only way of justifying India’s intervention in Sri Lanka and the Accord. Such a situation could suit the LTTE’s basic purpose quite well since it would give them a predominant position once again with Delhi’s blessings. They will use this position to eliminate all possibilities that would allow either Colombo or Delhi to apply a divide-and-manipulate-to-one’s advantage policy."



 

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