Sri Lanka: Crossing The Bloody Line


February 19, 2009:  The LTTE efforts to use Tamil civilians to protect their fighters, and provide publicity that would help their cause, have backfired. UN, and other NGOs, have seen and reported on the LTTE ploy. Worse yet, for the LTTE, are the reports of the rebels killing Tamil civilians, in order to terrorize them into not trying to flee the shrinking battle zone. There is now less than 100 square kilometers of LTTE controlled area in the northeast. It's a narrow coastal strip. The army is taking 5-10 square kilometers a day, and encountering more young teenagers, recently conscripted and armed by the LTTE to "defend the homeland." The kids are no match of the experienced soldiers, but progress is still slow because the LTTE still have some landmines, and skill at making booby traps. No one wants to be the last soldier to die in the war.

Many Sri Lankan Tamil expatriates, long the main financial backers of the rebels, are appalled at cynical and callous use of Tamil civilians by the LTTE. The use of terror and suicide bombers always left a lot of Tamils queasy, but they accepted it, along with the propaganda about the oppression of Tamils in Sri Lanka. But this turned out to be another case where the cure was worse than the disease. Tamils and Sinhalese have fought each other (verbally and physically) over control of the island for centuries. The bad blood and grudges go way back, and, for too many,  nothing is forgiven and forgotten. But the LTTE are seen as crossing a moral line and carrying their terrorism to unacceptable extremes.

As the army has advanced over the last year, the LTTE has moved key assets to prevent capture. But now, many of those portable assets have nowhere else to go, and they are being captured. This includes printing presses, artillery, communications gear and the trucks used to move it all. A large weapons factory was also taken, along with tons of raw materials for landmines, booby traps, mortar shells and so on.

So far this month, 40,000 or more Tamil civilians have fled the shrinking LTTE territory. Over a thousand of these refugees were killed or wounded by LTTE gunmen trying to prevent the movement. There are believed to still be about 100,000 Tamil civilians under LTTE control. At the same time, the remaining LTTE leadership are apparently not planning on surrendering, but carrying out a mass suicide. This is intended to inspire other Tamils to continue the struggle for control of Sri Lanka, or at least a portion of it.

The LTTE has urged its political allies in southern India to do all they can to get India to intervene, and stop the fighting (which is seen as likely to severely damage the LTTE by the end of the month). The pro-LTTE Tamil politicians tried, but the Indian government refused to apply coercion to Sri Lanka to halt its military operations. While the LTTE has many supporters in southern India (which is dominated by Tamils), most Indians have no love for the Sri Lankan terrorists, because many Indian politicians and soldiers have been killed by the LTTE. This has not been forgotten.

February 15, 2009: The air force destroyed two LTTE boats off the short coast the LTTE still controls.

February 13, 2009: Britain caused a major breakdown in diplomatic relations by appointing one of their diplomats as a special envoy to help deal with Sri Lanka's "humanitarian crisis." Britain did not ask Sri Lanka their opinion beforehand, of who to appoint, and this annoyed the Sri Lankan government. For decades, Britain provided many LTTE members sanctuary, and condemned the Sri Lankan government as it sought to deal with the LTTE rebellion. Although Britain eventually saw the LTTE for what it is, the Sri Lankans still resent the British sense of moral superiority, and annoying political correctness (which is typical of most European nations.) The Sri Lankans contrast this with Japan, which consults before appointing and sending a diplomat to look after humanitarian concerns. Moreover, Japan has been more generous in giving aid ($600 million in the last year, compared to $6 million from Britain). Sri Lanka has also halted rebroadcasts of some BBC shows (in Sinhala, Tamil and English) because of disagreements over how Britain tends to favor the LTTE and Tamils in discussions of Sri Lankan affairs.

February 12, 2009:  The United States has designated another Tamil charity as a fund raising front for the LTTE (which was declared an international terrorist organization in 2007.)

February 9, 2009: A female LTTE suicide bomber detonated her explosives while in a crowd of Tamils fleeting LTTE held territory. She killed herself and over two dozen others.


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