Sri Lanka: War And Peace


June 29, 2009:  While the LTTE has been defeated in Sri Lanka, the organization still exists among Tamils elsewhere. Many of the two million Tamils in Sri Lanka still support the LTTE, as do many Tamils in southern India (the ancient homeland of the Tamils) and overseas. There are about 77 million Tamil speakers worldwide, most (nearly 80 percent) of them living in southern India (Tamil Nadu). Although a part of India, many Tamils believe that part, or all, of Sri Lanka should come under Tamil control. Of particular value are the 1.2 million Tamils living, and prospering, in the West. Many support partition of Sri Lanka, and this is an idea that will not go away. There are still thousands of Tamils, in Sri Lanka, and everywhere, who are still willing to fight and kill for this goal.

Partitioning Sri Lanka (to create a Tamil state) remains popular with many Tamils everywhere. Indian Tamils have their own state in India (Tamil Nadu), and continue to pressure the Indian government to support Tamil separatism in Sri Lanka. The expatriate Tamil communities are still a source of cash for the LTTE. Most of these expats are in the United States, United Kingdom, throughout the European Union, Canada and Australia.

The army has collected a lot of information from captured LTTE territory in the north, and off the laptops and records found with dead LTTE leaders. Interrogations of lower ranking LTTE members provides more leads to who worked for the LTTE overseas (particularly in India and the West.) The government is asking nations, with Tamil immigrant populations, to continue helping to dismantle LTTE operations.

Sri Lanka is still under attack by NGOs, with the UN threatening to prosecute the government for war crimes committed during the final battle with the LTTE. The government believes that 3-5,000 civilians were killed as the LTTE retreated to a small enclave in the northeast. The LTTE took several hundred thousand civilians with them and used them as human shields. Many NGOs demanded, in effect, that the government stop attacking the LTTE, because otherwise, some of the human shield civilians would be killed. The government refused, defeated the LTTE, and now has to deal with angry NGOs (who, in turn, are accused by the government of becoming de-facto allies of the LTTE.) The UN believes up to 20,000 civilians were killed during that final campaign. The revived LTTE is going to support any war crimes investigation of the government, while trying to avoid one against the LTTE. Most NGOs are still pro-LTTE (many NGOs would not exist if there were no rebel and terrorist organizations like the LTTE around to create crises situations.) The government is very suspicious of NGOs. For example, it was recently discovered that an attempted assassination of the Defense Minister 30 months ago, was made possible because an NGO vehicle (from Care International) was used to transport the explosives for the car bomb.

The 223,000 Tamil civilians held in refugee camps up north, are being fed and receiving medical care. The government does not want to send the refugees home until it can find and arrest LTTE members hiding among them. The government plans to have most of the refugees back in their homes within six months. There still remains the ethnic animosities that caused the war in the first place. The three decades of violence have made many Tamils even angrier towards the majority Sinhalese.

Some 10,000 LTTE fighters have already surrendered. The army does not want to release any LTTE operatives from the camps, especially since there are still caches of weapons and munitions hidden in the north. Dozens of these hidden weapons locations have been found, and a hundred or more armed LTTE fighters are probably still at large in the north. There have been some encounters, and fire fights.

The government now believes that about 100,000 people died in the 30 years struggle with the LTTE. There will be more, because the army has found 1.5 million landmines, and many are in the ground up north, that have to be found and removed.

The LTTE has announced, via a recording released on the Internet, that it is still in business. In the recording, chief LTTE fund raiser (and highest ranking surviving LTTE official) Selvarasa Pathmanathan, said that LTTE would continue its struggle to partition Sri Lanka. Nothing was said about the "armed struggle", even though LTTE gunmen were still shooting at people in Sri Lanka. Pathmanathan  did not say the LTTE would renounce violence. No foreign headquarters was mentioned in the Pathmanathan recording, mainly because the LTTE is still considered an international terrorist organization, and its leaders are subject to arrest.

The economy grew by 1.5 percent in the first quarter, despite the global recession. Inflation has declined, to 5.4 percent. The country needs economic growth, so it that can pay for reconstruction in the north and east. In those areas, years of LTTE rule meant little work was done on infrastructure. Plus, there are the many buildings and facilities destroyed during the fighting.

June 26, 2009: The U.S. government warned its citizens to be careful, if they are travelling to Sri Lanka, because of the risk of additional terrorist activity by the LTTE.

June 15, 2009: Troops found a 24 foot long, semi-submersible boat, sunk in shallow water just off the northern coast. This boat was believed used to move key personnel and essential supplies past the navy patrols to southern India. This "submarine" (as described in the media) is similar to those used to smuggle cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, and was apparently meant to get key LTTE leaders off the island if the LTTE faced defeat. But the army advance was too rapid for the LTTE leaders to reach the semi-submersible.

June 13, 2009:  In order to insure that the LTTE does not re-establish itself in the north, another 50,000 troops will be recruited. The biggest problem is insuring that the many troops stationed in the former (for up to two decades)  LTTE controlled areas in the north, do not develop a hostile relationship with Tamil civilians. Many of those Tamils still support partition of the island, even though not all of them still support the LTTE.

June 7, 2009: The government has pardoned 585 deserters (those with more than a year left to serve.) Over the last six years, the government has made several amnesty offers for military deserters, starting with one for 51,000 deserters in 2003.

June 4, 2009: The navy seized a cargo ship, sent by British LTTE supporters seven weeks ago, as it neared the coast. The ship contains 900 tons of food, medicine and other supplies. The navy held the ship for a few days, questioning the crew and passengers, then forced the ship to leave Sri Lankan territorial waters. After three weeks of negotiations, the government allowed the ship to unload its supplies in Sri Lanka.


Article Archive

Sri Lanka: Current 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close