[Marxism] [GreenLeft_discussion] Who are the Tamil Tigers

Sukla Sen sukla.sen at gmail.com
Sun Apr 26 23:59:04 MDT 2009

QuoteThe LTTE has sometimes responded to SLA atrocities by carrying
out atrocities of its own, including massacres of Sinhalese civilians. The
LTTE has at various times carried out bombing campaigns in Colombo and
elsewhere in the south.

That's a gross understatement.
The LTTE has not only carried out killings of Sinhala civilians, it has also
with utmost brutality physically liquidated all other Tamil groups -
militants and non-militants - and dissenting individuals including
well-known human rights activists.
It also carried out its own ethnic cleansing against Tamil Muslims in the
Even today, it is widely alleged that Tamil civilians in huge numbers are
held captives as human shields against the brutal onslaughts of the Sri
Lankan Army.

It's a tragedy of the highest proportion.


On Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 11:13 AM, Stuart Munckton
<stuartmunckton at gmail.com>wrote:

> Who are the Tamil Tigers?
> Chris Slee
> 25 April 2009
> http://www.greenleft.org.au/2009/792/40803
> *The Sri Lankan government claims to be on the verge of totally defeating
> the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE — also known as the Tamil
> Tigers). The LTTE has fought for more than 30 years for an independent
> state
> for the Tamil people on the northern and eastern parts of the island.*
>  The roots of the conflict lie in a long history of state-sponsored
> oppression of the Tamils, which eventually led some Tamil youth to take up
> arms.
> When the British granted independence to Sri Lanka in 1948, power was
> handed
> to politicians drawn mainly from the upper classes of the majority Sinhala
> ethnic group.
> These politicians used racism as a tool to divide the working class.
> Second-class citizens
> Tamil plantation workers were deprived of citizenship rights. Sinhalese was
> declared the sole official language of Sri Lanka, making Tamil language
> speakers second-class citizens. Knowledge of Sinhalese became necessary for
> public service jobs, excluding most Tamils.
> Discrimination was also applied in education.
> For many years, Tamils opposed discrimination by peaceful means, including
> demonstrations, sit-ins and taking part in elections. But peaceful protests
> were met by violent repression, carried out by the police and army as well
> as racist Sinhalese mobs incited to violence by politicians and Buddhist
> monks.
> There was a series of pogroms against Tamils, culminating in the murder of
> an estimated 3000 people in the government-instigated 1983 “Black July”
> riots.
> LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham said: “The anti-Tamil riots that
> periodically erupted in the island should not be viewed as spontaneous
> outbursts of inter-communal violence between the two communities.
> “All major racial conflagrations that erupted violently against the Tamil
> people were inspired and masterminded by the Sinhala regimes as a part of a
> genocidal programme.
> “Violent anti-Tamil riots exploded in the island in 1956, 1958, 1961, 1974,
> 1977, 1979, 1981, and in July 1983. In these racial holocausts thousands of
> Tamils, including women and children, were massacred in the most gruesome
> manner, billions of rupees worth of Tamil property was destroyed and
> hundreds of thousands made refugees.
> “The state’s armed forces colluded with the Sinhalese hooligans and vandals
> in their violent rampage of arson, rape and mass murder.”
> Self-determination struggle
> This boosted Tamil nationalist sentiment. In 1977, the Tamil United
> Liberation Front won 17 seats in the Sri Lankan parliament on a platform of
> Tamil self-determination.
> The repression of peaceful protest led many Tamil youth to violent methods.
> The LTTE was formed in 1972 under the leadership of Vellupillai
> Prabakharan,
> then a 17-year-old. He is remains LTTE leader.
> The LTTE carried out its first major armed action in 1978.
> After Black July, support for the LTTE grew among Tamils. It dramatically
> stepped up its war against the Sri Lankan Army.
> The SLA could not defeat the Tigers, despite brutal repression that
> included
> civilian massacres.
> In 1987, India sent a “peacekeeping force” to Sri Lanka, with the stated
> aim
> of protecting the Tamils from SLA violence.
> However, the Indian government did not want an independent Tamil state. The
> Indian army began repressing the LTTE.
> After the Indian troops withdrew in 1990, fighting again broke out between
> the SLA and the Tigers.
> In 2002, a ceasefire was signed between the LTTE and the United National
> Party (UNP) government. But the government failed to offer Tamils a just
> solution that could guarantee a lasting peace.
> Pro-government paramilitary groups, in collusion with the SLA, continued
> violent attacks against Tamils.
> The UNP government, which claimed to want peace, was replaced in 2004 by a
> more openly chauvinist government — a coalition led by the Sri Lanka
> Freedom
> Party (SLFP).
> Violence escalated into full-scale war. Tiger-controlled areas were
> bombarded. Blockades prevented food and other necessities from entering
> these areas.
> For several decades, the LTTE was a very effective fighting force. It
> inflicted big defeats on the SLA, often killing hundreds of troops in a
> single battle.
> It controlled large areas in the north and east of the island.
> The LTTE developed innovative tactics, such as the use of light aircraft to
> carry out bombing raids on government targets, including in the capital
> Colombo.
> But over the past two years, the government seems to have captured nearly
> all former LTTE-controlled areas.
> On January 2, the government captured Kilinochchi, which had been the
> administrative centre for LTTE-controlled areas. This followed five months
> of aerial and artillery bombardment of the town.
> The SLA’s gains are partly due to aid from imperialist powers. Israel has
> supplied Kfir jets to the Sri Lankan air force, which has used them to bomb
> Tamil areas.
> However, this alone cannot explain the scale of the SLA’s successes. It is
> necessary to also look at the strategy and tactics of the Tigers.
> Tigers’ strengths and limitations
> The LTTE was formed by young people angry at the oppression of Tamils and
> disillusioned with failed peaceful methods of struggle.
> They were also disillusioned by the sell-outs of Sri Lanka’s main left
> parties (some of whom had abandoned previous support for Tamil rights to
> join coalition governments with the SLFP).
> Tamil youth didn’t see any prospect of an alliance with Sinhala workers and
> peasants against the Sinhalese ruling class.
> This led them to focus on the military struggle. They succeeded in building
> a formidable fighting force.
> The LTTE has fought courageously and persistently against the Sri Lankan
> and
> Indian armies in an effort to win self-determination for the Tamil people.
> It has also been willing to seek a peaceful solution when it appeared that
> the Sri Lankan government might be willing to agree.
> The LTTE has strong support from the Tamils in the north and east of the
> island. This is indicated by election results (20 members of the pro-LTTE
> Tamil National Alliance were elected to Sri Lanka's parliament in 2004) and
> by the big attendance at LTTE-organised rallies during the ceasefire.
> Yet the goal of self-determination has not yet been attained. A Tamil
> homeland seems a long way off.
> This is not solely due to the military power of the Sri Lankan state or its
> backing by imperialist powers (important though that is). It is also due to
> the political limitations of the LTTE.
> A one-sided emphasis on military struggle led to mistakes, including the
> alienation of potential allies.
> The Tigers sometimes disregarded the need to win support among Sinhalese
> workers, peasants and students in southern Sri Lanka for the right of
> Tamils
> to self-determination. This also applied to the Tamil-speaking Muslims of
> eastern Sri Lanka.
> The absence of a mass anti-war movement in southern Sri Lanka is a key
> obstacle to the success of the Tamil self-determination struggle. For
> instance, the US anti-war movement played a key role in forcing the
> withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam.
> The LTTE has been willing to negotiate with Sinhalese political leaders
> whenever they showed any signs of wanting to reach a peaceful solution. But
> the LTTE has not made a serious effort to get its message directly to the
> Sinhalese masses, bypassing the politicians whose promises of peace have
> been deceptive.
> The lack of a strong anti-war movement in southern Sri Lanka reflects the
> weakness and political limitations of the Sri Lankan left. But some actions
> by LTTE have also helped to alienate the Sinhalese masses.
> The LTTE has sometimes responded to SLA atrocities by carrying out
> atrocities of its own, including massacres of Sinhalese civilians. The LTTE
> has at various times carried out bombing campaigns in Colombo and elsewhere
> in the south.
> These actions helped alienate the Sinhalese workers from the Tamil
> struggle.
> When the targets were military, such attacks could be justified, but this
> was not always the case.
> Errors by the LTTE also helped alienate the Tamil-speaking Muslims.
> Some Muslim youth joined the LTTE in its early years. But the government,
> with the aid of some Muslim politicians, was able to instigate clashes
> between Tamils and Muslims.
> This led the LTTE to become suspicious of Muslims, to such an extent that
> it
> expelled them en masse from the Jaffna region. The LTTE later made efforts
> to rebuild relations with the Muslims, but suspicions were not completely
> overcome.
> The LTTE’s militaristic way of thinking has also led to the repression of
> dissent among the Tamils themselves.
> Support Tamil liberation
> These problems should not, however, negate support for the right of Tamils
> to self-determination. In particular, there is the need for the removal of
> the occupying SLA from Tamil areas.
> The Tigers can be criticised, but the main blame for the violence lies with
> the Sri Lankan government. The cycle of violence was initiated by the
> government, and the government’s denial of the right of Tamils to
> self-determination remains the main obstacle to peace.
> Self-determination means that the Tamils can freely choose whether to form
> a
> separate Tamil state, be part of a united Sri Lanka or have some
> intermediate form such as a federation.
> The LTTE has stated its willingness to consider a federal structure.
> “Unity” imposed by the SLA through violent repression is not real unity.
> Such unity requires ongoing repression of Tamils and prepares conditions
> for
> a new war.
> Some commentators believe the LTTE will continue as a guerrilla force
> (small-scale attacks are continuing in the east, which the government has
> claimed to fully control for the past two years). Others predict the LTTE’s
> imminent collapse.
> But even if the government wins a complete military victory, the occupation
> of Tamil areas by the SLA can not bring lasting peace. Occupation will
> always breed resistance.
> From: International News, Green Left Weekly issue
> #792<http://www.greenleft.org.au/back/2009/792>29 April 2009.
> --
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> dummy?" — Jarvis Cocker
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> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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