LTTE moves on despite global isolation
Sinhala Owned Sri Lanka Sunday Times, 22 March 1998
Few people in this country would question the fact that the LTTE
has been isolated internationally. But like some systems which
function best under duress, the Tigers appear to be expanding their
operations internationally on an unprecedented scale precisely in
the context of this so called global isolation. Here, we are not
merely talking about matters such as the missing mortar ship but
about the influence the Tigers are able wield in many countries.
The gloating over LTTE's international isolation prevents people
from looking at the increasing ability of the organisation to "fix"
things and get on to local influence networks even in supposedly
hostile environment abroad.
I shall list four examples of what pro-LTTE lobbies abroad look upon
as big and small gains in their endeavours to turn the international
situation in favour of the Eelam cause.
This, I hope, might help one form a more sober opinion of the PA
government's claim that the LTTE is in a pretty bad shape
1. British Labour MP Barry Gardner made the following
observations, among other things, in a long speech at a conference
held recently in Quebec.
"The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have established
themselves since their foundation years ago as the single
greatest representative voice of the Tamil nation and it is with
them, therefore, that any settlement must be negotiated."
"Eelam in North and East Sri Lanka is the Tamil homeland. That
is not dependent on a parliament. It is not something to be
granted-because it is simply a fact. But for peace to come, the
Tamil homeland is a fact which must be recognised and
"The flag of Sri Lanka carried the image of a lion bearing a
sword. That sword ought to be a sword of justice, but for Tamils
it has been a sword of injustice and genocide.
"But the lion is not the only member of the great cat family
which stalks the island of Sri Lanka. It seems to me there is
also a tiger.
"Presently, it is rousing itself after a long sleep. It is
hunting its prey. Not as a small cat does for the love of the
kill, but in order to feed her young. Soon, she will be able to
return to her own den to live in peace and play with her young
in contentment. I pray that day will come soon."
2. On March 19, the Centre for Constitutional Rights, comprising
some of the best legal experts in the US, filed a lawsuit in the
U.S. District Court for the Central District of California charging
that the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 is
unconstitutional insofar as it criminalizes the provision of
material support or resources to the lawful and non-violent
activities of any foreign organisation designated as "terrorist" by
the Secretary of State. The LTTE's north American representative, V.
Rudrakumaran is also a key member of the Centre for Constitutional
3. Suresh Manikavasagam the LTTE's man in Canada who was facing
deportation to Sri Lanka will be released from custody on bail on
Monday according to an order enforced by Canadian Federal Court
Judge Teitelbaum on Thursday. LTTE activists abroad see this a big
4. Three months ago in December 1997, the Indian intelligence
establishment strongly advised the Gujral government to ban a
pro-LTTE convention in Delhi, on the grounds that there was evidence
that its convenor George Fernandez, the leader of the Samata Party,
had received funds from the LTTE in Australia and America through
Nedumaran for holding the 'Solidarity with the Eelam Tamils of Sri
Two participants from abroad were turned back at the Delhi airport
by Indian officials. Indrajith Gupta who was India's home minister
at that time officially banned the convention.
But Fernandez defied the ban and held it at his residence,
accommodating more than 300 participants. The convention was
ceremonially inaugurated by TULF MP Joseph Pararajasingham, with the
slogan 'Thamizh Vazhha' (Long live Tamil).
The following are some of the resolutions passed by the convention
which unanimously elected George Fernandez as its current national
"The convention takes serious note of the involvement of US military
in the ongoing operations by the Sinhala armed forces against the
LTTE. The training provided to the Sinhala army by the US "Green
Berets" is accompanied by a trade off in which the Sinhala
government has made concessions to the US forces that will have
adverse bearing on India's security concerns.
The convention calls upon the Government of India to take up this
matter with both the Sinhala and US governments, and further take
necessary steps to prevent any developments in the region that will
impinge on India's security interests.
Whereas, since April 1995, state terrorism has intensified with the
army capturing Tamil areas and conducting victory celebrations
reminiscent of mediaeval times, and aggressively rounding up and
arresting innocent civilians, making people flee their homes
resulting in over 750,000 internal refugees suffering innumerable
hardships due to lack of shelter, food and medicines, with many
living under trees and dying due to lack of food and medicines -
particularly in areas not under control of government forces;
The convention resolves to appeal to the Government of India, other
world governments, and the world community to pro-actively engage
and pressurise the Sri Lankan government to:
a) Stop human rights violations such as the indiscriminate
bombing, shelling and strafing of Tamil areas; the arrests,
torture, rape and killing of innocent Tamil civilians; embargo
on food, medicine and other necessities of life to Tamil areas;
denial of care of refugees who have fled their homes by
depriving them of adequate shelter, food and medicines;
b) Desist from interfering with refugees leaving by boat to
c) Permit NGOs to work in Tamil areas so that they may provide
help to refugees;
d) Allow journalists, both local and foreign, to visit the Tamil
areas and report freely on the conditions there;
e) Cease further colonization and settlement of Sinhalese in
f) Desist from destroying cultivated and cultivable lands and
g) Repeal the Prevention of Terrorism Act and rescind the
h) Solve the national problem politically rather than pursue a
military solution as the government is doing now;
i) Withdraw the army from Tamil areas; and
j) Negotiate with the LTTE (who represent the Tamil people and
who are fighting the liberation war on their behalf) under third
George Fernandez is now the Defence Minister of India. There is
no doubt that he has to toe Delhi's national security line on the
Sri Lankan conflict to some extent.
But the point here is that, for the LTTE activist abroad, the world
is no longer the un-malleably hostile environment which the
government thinks was created, among other things, by the untiring
efforts of Mr. Lakshman Kadirgamar.