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Editorial   


 

EU grudgingly admits LTTE threat

This week, the European Union (EU) announced that it was re-listing the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) as a terrorist organisation, in a crucial decision that would have wide-ranging implications for Sri Lanka.
The declaration is significant because it is now over 20 months since the LTTE was defeated and its leaders were eliminated in the murky waters of the Nanthikadal lagoon in May 2009. Since then, the focus of Tiger activity has been outside the shores of Sri Lanka, not within it.
The Tamil ‘diaspora’, smarting under the LTTE’s military debacle has made several attempts to make its voice heard and presence felt. Their main strategy in the aftermath of their defeat was to try and target the Lankan political leadership and accuse them of war crimes.

This strategy has not been wholly unsuccessful. At least the United Nations (UN) and its partisan Secretary General Ban Ki moon have caved in to pressure and appointed a ‘panel’ to inquire into alleged human rights abuses during the final phase of the war.
Elsewhere the western bloc of nations, egged on by pro-LTTE lobbyists, have from time to time made rather unkind noises aimed at the political leadership in Colombo virtually accusing it of genocide and calling for what they term ‘accountability’.

There have been other skirmishes. The most notable among them was the cancellation of a lecture President Mahinda Rajapaksa was to deliver to students of the Oxford University in the United Kingdom, again as a result of the activities of the LTTE ‘rump’ in that country.
In France, local authorities allowed the erection of a statue for S. P. Thamilchelvam, the political head of the LTTE until he was killed in an aerial attack. Although the statue was briefly relocated, it was reportedly re-erected at the same venue a few days ago!
These are but a few vignettes of the drama that has been playing out in the world stage in recent months all of which indicate that although Sri Lanka has won the war against the LTTE, it cannot yet claim victory in the propaganda battle with the Tamil diaspora.

That is in fact one of the reasons why the Colombo government is treating Selvarasa Pathmanathan (better known as ‘KP’), once the international financier of the LTTE, with kid gloves when he should have been prosecuted without any hesitation; that is a result of the politics of necessity.
The message that Sri Lanka has been given is not one of appreciation for destroying the military capability of arguably the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the world. It has been one of condemnation, largely based on biased accounts of the last stages of the Eelam war.

Only a few countries - which notably include the likes of Russia, China and neighbouring India - among the global powers that be have been bold enough to acknowledge that it is now time to move on in Sri Lanka and indicated that it accepts Colombo’s decision to eliminate the LTTE.
Against such a backdrop, the re-listing of the Tigers as a terrorist organisation by the EU is indeed significant. It is an indication that the EU grudgingly admits that the LTTE - or what is left of it - does pose a threat to their own security and that the Tigers may not have changed their stripes after all.
When confronted with such possibilities the EU forgets all its lofty ideals about human rights and proscribes the LTTE, notwithstanding the fact that there are many LTTE ‘rump’ associations still operating in Europe masquerading as front organisations which can still engage in fund raising.
The double standards are therefore blatant: The EU doesn’t mind the LTTE as long as it collects funds and maintains good behaviour on the EU soil. That these funds may finance terrorism elsewhere, possibly in Sri Lanka is conveniently forgotten.

But the EU and other western nations will learn at their own peril. The best example that could be cited is that of India which during the Indira Gandhi years nurtured the LTTE in its backyard mostly to ‘teach a lesson’ to Sri Lanka. That terrorism was to consume Gandhi’s son Rajiv, years later.
Today, terrorism is no longer an isolated phenomenon. It is a global trend. It is also a multi-billion dollar business. The LTTE as a military force maybe non-existent but the support network that financed its terror has not crumbled; it must be still operating at a huge profit.
That is Colombo’s next frontier. But while Sri Lanka deals with that issue and ensures that its terrain is never used again for terrorist activity, the rest of the world should not go about haranguing Sri Lanka with eyes and ears firmly shut.
Certainly the EU re-listing the LTTE as a terrorist organisation is a welcome move. But that alone does not suffice if the EU is really committed towards eliminating the LTTE. Its words must be matched with deeds in its member nations. Terrorism anywhere, after all, is terrorism.