ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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End of a Civil War

The LTTE might be vanquished, but the grievances of the Tamil community remain.

The death of Velupillai Prabhakaran signals the end of the civil war between the Sri Lankan government and the militant Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). For nearly three decades since its formation, the LTTE had relentlessly pursued its aim of achieving a separate state (Eelam) to be carved out of the northern and eastern areas of Sri Lanka. In the course of its single-minded drive to achieve “Eelam”, the organisation ruthlessly decimated other militant organisations and voices among the Tamils – many of whom were willing to accept autonomy or federal rights for the Tamils. But by accepting no compromises and by continuing to use tactics such as assassination of perceived “enemies of the cause” and violent retribution, the LTTE brought about its own doom.

Despite a systematic shelling and bombing campaign that killed or incapacitated thousands of civilians, the Sri Lankan army did not receive anything more than token disapproval or humanitarian appeals from the international community. The Sri Lankan government’s ruthless drive to vanquish the “terrorist” LTTE was never halted in the final phase of war by an international community tired of “terror” – a stigma that the LTTE carried for its past actions. The LTTE’s own cynical moves to use Tamil civilians as a shield, a fact that was brushed aside by the organisation’s propagandists, only alienated them even further in the eyes of the international arbiters such as the United Nations or India. The events leading up to the end of the battle – with the Sri Lankan army’s capture of the last remaining areas of the V anni region under LTTE control, and the killing of the outfit’s senior representatives and leaders – are murky. Questions remain about the way the LTTE leader and founder, Prabhakaran, his family members and the organisation’s political representatives were killed and war crimes by the Sri Lankan army cannot be ruled out. But the general lack of sympathy for the vanquished among the international community is itself a consequence of the LTTE’s intransigence in its ways and means.

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