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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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.