Monday, October 16, 2006

The Sri Lankan civil war simmers on

The Civil War in Sri Lanka is an example of where the "international community" can do everything multilateral and right against a declared terrorist organization and still not make any headway. Today, the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) killed more than 100 Sri Lankan sailors in a VBIED attack on a bus depot. Attempts by the Sri Lankan Air Force to retaliate fizzled when its attack aircraft crashed on takeoff and the pilot ejected safely into a nearby lagoon.


Sri Lanka has suffered its worst ever suicide attack when suspected Tamil Tiger rebels detonated a truck packed with explosives next to a convoy of sailors, killing at least 102 people and wounding 150 more.  ... The bombing occurred about 170 kilometres (105 miles) northeast of Colombo at a transit point for security personnel coming to and from the front line of the drawn-out conflict in the restive northeastern district of Trincomalee. "Suicide bombers drove a truck packed with explosives into the area where there were about 15 buses," a police official in nearby Sigiriya town told AFP by telephone. "We have two helicopters to evacuate the wounded". ...

The military moved to carry out retaliatory air strikes against the Tigers, but an Israeli-built Kfir war plane crashed shortly after take off from a military base here, officials said. They said the aircraft crashed into the Negombo lagoon, but the pilot ejected to safety and was rescued by helicopters.

Wikipedia notes that "The LTTE has been blamed for forcibly removing (or "ethnically cleansing") Sinhalese and Muslim inhabitants from areas under its control, including the use of violence against those who refuse to leave. Most notably, the LTTE forcibly expelled the entire Muslim population of Jaffna on two hours notice in 1990. The LTTE are also accused of organising massacres of Sinhala villagers who settled in the Northeast under the dry lands policy"

Less than a month ago, the Tigers engaged in their latest round of population expulsions. "Hundreds of Muslim families are fleeing their homes in eastern Sri Lanka amid fears of a Tamil Tiger rebel assault to reclaim territory taken by government forces in recent fighting, a local government leader said Saturday. The chairman of the government in the coastal town of Mutur, who goes by the single name Thoufeek, said 700 to 800 families - about 10 percent of the population - left on Friday and Saturday after the Tamil Tiger separatists warned that they were planning an offensive."

Unlike other militant groups, the Tigers are said to receive funding support, not from states sponsors, but from expatriate Tamils in Western countries, despite having been declared a terrorist group by India (since 1992), United States of America,  Malaysia, United Kingdom,  Canada and the  European Union. In exchange for proscribing the Tigers, international diplomats have encouraged the Sri Lankan government to negotiate with the rebels and have provided large amounts of relief money over which both sides have squabbled, ironically triggering more clashes. The Norwegian government has deployed a mediating force to monitor a ceasefire that has since collapsed. Now things look as grim as they ever did.

Commentary

The difficulty experienced by the international community in finding a solution to a civil war on a relatively small island between rebels who have no significant state support and the Sri Lankan government shows how ineffective traditional policy are in fixing problems like this. Other than waiting for conflicts like this to burn out or resolve themselves on the battlefield there seems little the "international community" can directly do the affect the course of events.

13 Comments:

Blogger 2164th said...

Welcome back. Jimmy Carter is not running the Sri Lankan Air Force from the Carter Center is he?

10/16/2006 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

The goal of the international community is invariably to get a "ceasefire", which they view as an equitable "win-win" outcome. What they don't realize is that without a clear winner, the conflict will re-emerge when one side or the other perceives they have a chance to win.

10/16/2006 03:36:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Seems odd that the LTTE has always been portrayed as a terrorist group. Just wondering where the lefty Hollywood starlet type is - proclaiming them to be minutemen or patriots or some such.

Anyway, sounds like they have greivences going back to at least the '70's. I wonder what their beef is with the adherants of "the religion of peace"?

10/16/2006 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

And why will there never be a US Navy blockade of Sri Lanka to bring the terrorists to heel? There's no oil there.

10/16/2006 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

LTTE must be bad dudes if Muslims run away from them.

10/16/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

robert schwartz,

It put me in mind of Alien versus Predator, though a kinder comparison would be the Terminator versus Robocop. But it does destroy one's faith in human nature to realize that violence works so well. Not in the long run, but certainly in the very short run.

10/16/2006 09:17:00 PM  
Blogger krishna_kirti said...

Regarding the Tamils being a "Hindu" terrorist group, over the years the only thing I've seen that ties them to Hinduism as a cause celebre is that the news reports merely note that they are "Hindu".

However, it seems that many of those reporting on the LTTE have little idea how separate Tamils consider themselves from the rest of the people in India. Here are some points of difference I'm personally aware of (and yes, I realize I'm making sweeping generalizations; but if somewhat true they can explain a lot):

1) They buy into the Aryan invasion theory of Dravida-desha (South India) and variously hold that against anyone from the North.

That explains why some Tamils I personally know prefer English as a second language to Hindi, which is the official national language of India. Tamils see the imposition of Hindi as Aryan cultural carpetbagging.

Some other annecodotes:

* The national govt. of India requires Hindi in all govt. offices. When I was in Tamil Nadu in 1994, the DMK (a Tamil political party) initiated a state-wide anti-Hindi campaign. Any signs written in Devanagari instead of the Tamil script were overcoated with black paint -- that included signs at railway stations, on the sides of cars or busses, or on private property.

* When Atal Behari Vajpayee (former prime minister of India) visited America (near the end of Bill Clinton's presidency), he gave a speech at the DAR center in Washington D.C., and I happened to attend. Just before Vajpayee spoke, there was some talk in the audience as to what language he should deliver his speech in. Some said English, many were saying Hindi, but some noticably vocal groups throughout the audience were saying (almost chanting) "Tamil Tamil Tamil Tamil..." When Vajpayee settled on Hindi (it's his mother tongue, after all), a number of the Indians chanting "Tamil" stormed out of the auditorium.

2) There seems to be a strong anti-religious animus that runs among a number of Tamils. The DMK is itself pretty anti-religious.

They have a policy of trying to bring religious shrines and temples under government control. They are also actively anti-bramana.

A number also seem to have a strong animus against one of Hinduism's most revered gods, Rama. As a parallel to the Aryan invasion theory, Lord Rama did something similar: He invaded Lanka and pretty much destroyed the place. In North India there is the festival of Dushhera, which is the burning of an effigy of Ravana (the demon king of Lanka, who Rama killed), and I have heard that in Lanka they sometimes burn Rama in effigy. Whether supposed or real, they take that invasion very personally.

When India dispatched a peace-keeping force to Lanka in 1987, the force was (and has been since) derissively referred to as a "monkey" army. (Rama was assisted by a monkey army in His invasion of Lanka.)

Tamils are certainly Hindus, including those who give material support to the LTTE. However, I have yet to see any compelling evidence that religion plays more than the role of a cultural marker to distinguish combatants from one another, much as how "rednecks" wore red bandanas to tell themselves apart from the Pinkertons or a Northern Irish terrorist (either side) can tell who to victimize by making his potential victim say the alphabet. (The terrorist knows which side the potential victim is on once he says the letter "H".)

This is why I think that "Hindu terrorists" as a characterization of the LTTE is significantly a misnomer. It conveys the idea that Hinduism (or some strain of it) is an important motivator for the LTTE's terrorist activities when it is more incidental.

Unlike Islamic jihadists, I have yet to hear of an LTTE soldier or suicide bomber say that his cause was motivated by any of the important scriptures in mainstream Hinduism. Maybe there are some outliers, but the general rule seems to be that they don't. And that would explain why press reports never seem to do more than casually (but always) mention that the LTTE is a "Hindu terrorist organization".

10/17/2006 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger summignumi said...

Teresita, be open minded and at least a little fair, this started before GW was prez so why did Clinton not blockade them? To be fair, I would say there are bigger massacres happening during both Prez times, Rwanda, Darfur or the Balkans. Oh wait they have never found the hundreds of thousands ethnic cleansed mass graves that Clinton and his minions said there was, but they have and are still finding them in Iraq, gee I guess it is hard to be fair in this, why didn’t Clinton blockade Sri Lanka?

10/17/2006 12:48:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Thanks, Krishna.

By your summary I would guess you have some first-hand knowledge of recent LTTE history.

Still, I wonder why, in the reports we see coming from there, they make it a point to describe "ethnic cleansing" of Muslims (and others), etc. Can you tell us if this is an accurate statement or just more Islamic apologizing.

10/17/2006 05:11:00 AM  
Blogger krishna_kirti said...

Enscout, I would say that my knowledge of the LTTE is a bit dusty, about a decade old. Still news reports I see now don't seem all that different from when I was paying more attention, which leads me to believe that at some level some important things haven't changed. After all, Velupillai Prabhakaran is still the leader of the LTTE.

(Just one correction: the anti-Hindi agitation was in 1993, not 1994.)

As regards to how the press reports ethnic cleansing, I think the term is accurate. The LTTE engages in ethnic cleansing against at least two groups: the Simhalese, who are Buddhists, and the Muslims. I've not heard of it, but I wouldn't be surprised if Christians also found themselves on the wrong end of an LTTE sponsored ethnic cleansing.

Just some thoughts about "ethnic cleansing" and Hindus. Hindus are, arguably, a poster-child group of people who have endured attempts at ethnic cleansing for literally centuries. There is a sense among Hindus all over India that they are entitled to some "pay back", and certainly this is an attitude shared by the Tamils in Sri Lanka. (They just provide more reasons than the average Hindu.)

In one sense, "untouchability", one of the much disparaged features of Hinduism, I think has had much to do with actually preserving Hinduism despite centuries of attempts to convert or eliminate them. Even today, Hindus generally won't socially mix with Muslims--unless they are politicians, Hindus won't go to their parties or eat with them.

Compare that behavior with the natives of Western Europe and America, who don't have a notion of untouchability and also have a much reduced sense of ethnicity. Based on that, I would say that the Western peoples are considerably more succeptible to conversion to Islam than the Hindus have been.

10/17/2006 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger enscout said...

Thanks krishna.

Sounds like much of the modern day 'attitude' of these groups (generally speaking) is based on past injustices.

The concepts of humility and forgiveness, are they part of Hindu doctrine?

10/17/2006 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger fanaah_phantom said...

Krishna,

hindi is not the "official national language" - it is just an "Official language" just like the 22 other official languages - in total, India has 23 official languages at the state and the center.

part XVII of the constitution:
defines "Official language" NOT national language or official national language.
http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~sk4zw/india-const/p17.html

Article 345: This gives the State govt., power to decide its own "OFFICIAL LANGUAGE"
http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~sk4zw/india-const/p17345.html

Article 343: This defines hindi and english to be the "OFFICIAL LANGUAGES" at the center -NOT all states.
http://www.astro.virginia.edu/~sk4zw/india-const/p17343.html


DIFFERENCE:

NATIONAL LANGUAGE: defines the people of the nation, culture, history.

OFFICIAL LANGUAGE: used for official communication

While a National language by default can become the Official langauge, an Official language has to be APPROVED legally to become the National language.

India has NO NATIONAL LANGUAGES.

11/15/2006 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger Jesen said...

Krishna-Kirir wrote as """"""""As regards to how the press reports ethnic cleansing, I think the term is accurate. The LTTE engages in ethnic cleansing against at least two groups: the Simhalese, who are Buddhists, and the Muslims. I've not heard of it, but I wouldn't be surprised if Christians also found themselves on the wrong end of an LTTE sponsored ethnic cleansing."""""""""""""""""""""""

WELL, I CAN'T SEE ANY UTTER LIE IN THE WORLD THAN THESE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST A GENUINE LIBERATION ORGANISATION LIKE LTTE.
PLEASE REFER THE SRILANKAN CENSUS(IN TAMIL AREAS ESPECIALLY IN THE EAST -TRINCOMALLEE, BATTICOLA, AMPARA AND IN THE NE MANALARU AND VAVUNIYA IN THE NORTH)TO SEE THE PATTERN OF ETHNIC CLEANSING OF TAMILS AND MUSLIMS BY THE SRILANKAN GOVERNMENTS SINCE 1948 TO DATE. THE LATEST EXAMPLE- SRILANKAN OPEN NAKED ETHNIC CLEANSING OF MORE THAN 200,000 TAMILS IN TRINCOMALLEE AND VAHARAI IN BATTICOLA.
THE SINHALESE POPULATION WAS UNDER 0.5% OF THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF NORTH AND EAST IN 1948. ONE WONDER HOW THE SINHALESE POPULATION GROWN TO 40% IN THE EAST ALONE IF THE LTTE ETHNICALLY CLEANSED THEM???????????????????????????????
THE MUSLIM POPULATION WERE ETHNICALLY CLEANSED BY THE SINHALA CHAUVINIST TERRORISTS IN 1915.
PLEASE SEE THE NEWS IN 1915 AND READ HOW THE SINHALA TERRORISTS ETHNICALLY CLEANSED MUSLIMS FROM KANDY DISTRICT.
Riots 1915

1915 Major Sinhala-Muslim riot took place. In June, Sinhala Budhist-Muslim riots in Ceylon. Riots spread from the central province to the western and northwestern provinces.

There were heavy casualities amongst the Muslims. According to available records, 146 Muslims were killed and 405 Muslims were injured and 62 Muslims women have been raped by major Sinhalese. Nearly 85 mosques were damaged and more than 4,075 Muslin-owned shops were looted by the Sinhala rioters.

http://www.nitharsanam.com/?page=riot_1915

PLEASE READ HOW THE SRILANKA SYSTEMATICALLY ETHNICALLY CLEANSED TAMILS AND MUSLIMS IN THE EAST AND COLONISED SINHAESE CRMINALS AND THUGS WITH WEAPONS INTO THE TAMIL AREAS.
A Rebuttal to H.L.De Silva's Reviving the Moribund Concept of a merger: A Betrayal of the National Interest

http://www.tamilcanadian.com/page.php?cat=74&id=4788

PLEASE ALSO SEE THE INDICTMENT OF SRILANK: WAR ON TAMILS
http://www.tamilnation.org/indictment/index.htm
http://www.tamilnation.org/humanrights.htm
PLEASE READ THE BLOODY HISTORY OF THE NAZI SINHALA TERRORIST STATE CALLED SRILANKA WHO USE BUDDHISM AND DEMOCRACY AS TWIN COVER TO HIDE THE SYSTEMATIC ETHNIC CLEANSING OF TAMILS, MUSLIMS AND CHRISTIANS SINCE 1948 TO DATE.
AS PER SO CALLED HINDU TERRORISM, WE TAMILS ARE THE MOST SECULUR PEOPLE IN THE WORLD AND DON'T FAVOUR ANY RELIGION AS WE VALUE THE THE MOST SECULUR BOOK CALLED THIRUKKURAL AS OUR BIBLE RATHER THAN BEING NARROW MINDE INTO RELIGIOUS BOOKS AND SEE THE LTTE'E ISGA PROPOSALS

Proposal of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on behalf of the Tamil people
for an agreement to establish an interim self governing authority
for the North-East of the island of Sri Lanka
http://www.tamilnation.org/conflictresolution/tamileelam/norway/031101isga.htm
WHERE YOU CAN FIND THAT NO RELIGION WILL BE GIVEN PRIVILLAGE STATUS IN TAMIL AREAS BUT SRILANKA ENACTED THE SINHALA AND BUDDHISM AS THE STATE ONLY LANGUAGE AND RELIGION IN 1956 AND STILL REFUSUING TO BE SECULUR.
TAMILS HAD THEIR SEPARATE NATION BEFORE THE BRITISH CAME TO THE ISLAND, DUTCH AND PORTUGESE GOVERNED BOTH TAMIL AND SINHALA NATIONS SEPARATELY BUT THE BRITISH INVADERS JOINED BOTH OF THEM WITHOUT OUR CONSENT. TAMILS SHOULD HAVE SEPARATED THE TAMILEELAM IN 1948 LIKE MOHAMMED ALI JINNAH DID SEAPRATE PAKISTAN FROM INDIA.

2/24/2007 12:14:00 AM  

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