According to the Sri Lankan government and photos of a pale-faced Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE has been defeated and all peace will be restored to Sri Lanka’s embattled civilian population. That’s obviously an exaggeration of the truth.
Perhaps the LTTE has been defeated once and for all. They have suffered major hits over the past 25 years but never have they completely collapsed. A high-ranking Tamil and former member of the LTTE (a long while ago, when they were non-violent and a group of just about 20, she said) said this morning on CBC radio (a major radio station in Canada run by our public broadcasting corporation) that she believes the majority of Tamils are sick of the Tigers and will not take part in a resurgence of the group, at least not any time soon. She believes the conduct of the LTTE has been particularly destructive to the well-being of the Tamil Diaspora over the years, especially now, when so many civilians have died and so many have been displaced.
We don’t know for sure if Prabhakaran is dead or if the Tigers have been defeated. Yes, the army showed photos of Prabhakaran’s corpse, eyes wide open, however, this is the same government that has been complicit in the killing of civilians. And because journalists and media have been banned from the region, we only have government accounts. Since when do we trust politicians to be truthful and not doctor images? Maybe Prabhakaran is dead and I’m being overly suspicious or cautious, but there is that possibility that it isn’t him.
One thing we know for certain is that neither peace nor humanitarian aid will be handed willingly to the displaced, injured and horrified citizens of the war-torn region. International bodies are hesitant to step foot in Sri Lanka. This lack of civilian aid and international apathy is the new topic for Tamil protesters.
The UN secretary general had condemned the army and the LTTE for ignoring the safety of civilians, the group the two bodies are supposedly trying to protect from each other. However, the government in Sri Lanka is not seeking a political victory. An all-out, definitive military triumph is the only thing that will please them, and it is the wrong thing for them to be pursuing.
The LTTE is trying to secede with the Tamils, but it’s causing so many civilian deaths, which can be blamed on both the LTTE and the government. Both blame each other and without reporters in the region we can only speculate.
Before their defeat, the LTTE were backed and cornered into a spot chock-full of civilians. By leaving the area they would die. By staying the civilians would die too.
So instead of sparing civilian lives, they stayed and civilians died as the LTTE and the government tread over the carcasses of their own people to kill each other. Neither cared much for their surroundings.
Now that it is over, there are scores of political options behind which the international community can voice their support. But the UN wants to allow reporters in to the region and chase a phantom political solution that, at this time, has no hope of being achieved.
Since 1977 have the Tamils been officially asking for a separate Tamil Eelam. They won’t throw that away now just because the LTTE has been stripped to the bone.
They may not back the reincarnation of the Tigers for some time, but they will rise again to fight for their independence from an oppressive government. Violence hasn’t worked, peaceful protest and requests haven’t worked and elections haven’t worked. But the downfall of the LTTE could spark a new generation of Tamils to demand their freedom.
The way they go about it is up to them.