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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2828

The myth of the LTTE state

By H. L. D. Mahindapala

Part II

Velupillai Prabhakaran who launched his political career by first killing the mild-mannered Tamil, Alfred Duraiyappah, Mayor of Jaffna, in 1974 has never stopped killing Tamils to this day. He began by promising security to the Tamils. Today he has turned out to be the most dreaded killer of the Tamils.

He is on the top of the list of Tamil-killers. Anton Balasingham, the LTTE theoretician, has failed come up with a moral or political theory to defend this barbarity. On what basis can he defend the abduction of Tamil children and the torturing of Tamil adults - both of which have been listed as war crimes in the latest Amnesty International report. (See AI report of February 3, 2006, titled "Culture of Fear"). The best he can do now is to hopelessly repeat his mantra of a "liberation struggle".

The exaggerated notion of Tamil/LTTE superiority over others - including the other Tamil-speaking communities - has inflated the belief of the Vanni hierarchy that only the LTTE is entitled to wear this label of "liberation struggle". No one other than the LTTE accepts this untenable theory. It is similar to the LTTE claim of being the "sole representative of Tamils" which has been rightly rejected by the EU demanding pluralism. It is the most ludicrous concept in any democratic society. It is like the Labour Party in UK claiming to be the "sole representative of the British" or the Republican Party claiming to be "the sole representative of the Americans." Who would believe such arrant nonsense?

Besides, based on Balasingham's theory even Karuna, his erstwhile comrade-in-arms, is entitled to use both labels -- "sole representative of the Tamils of east" and "liberation struggle of the Tamils from the domination of the hegemony of the northern Tamils. Karuna argues that the Jaffna-Tamil-dominated Vanni leadership has discriminated against the Tamils of the east and persecuted them, denying them their security. This is the argument used by Balasingham's separatist group against the "Sinhala-dominated government". So what is theoretically good for Balasingham should also be valid for Karuna.

The fundamentals are the same in both arguments and, therefore, the theory of a "liberation struggle" should be applicable to both groups. Clearly, Balasingham's claim to a monopoly of a "liberation struggle" doesn't hold water any more. He has no sole right to it. Besides, on his theory, anyone who feels aggrieved has a right to take a gun and slaughter any perceived oppressor just by pinning the label "liberator". The EU resolution has put an end such nonsensical theories of "liberation" once and for all.

LTTE agents who invoke principles of human rights forfeit their credibility when they do not honour human rights in liquidating, torturing and abducting their own people. The LTTE, therefore, is a failed "liberation struggle" that has betrayed the basic rights of their own people to live freely within its theatre. Besides, despite its claim to run a separate and efficient administration, it does not provide the Tamil people with basic amenities for their survival. The Tamil people depend on "the Sinhala-dominated government" for their medicine, doctors, nurses, hospitals, teachers, schools, and universities, maintenance of infrastructure, clothing, and books for school children and public servants delivering social services, etc.

And all these are delivered to every eligible citizen, without discrimination, either free or at a subsidized rate like food and other basic amenities needed to maintain the people's quality of life, at the level affordable to the state. A leading UNHCR official, after surveying the facilities provided to those in the LTTE theatre, commended the Sri Lankan government as the only known state that delivers essential goods and services to a rebel-held territory. The Tamils know this but they do not want to acknowledge it because it would blast their theory of discrimination.

At this point it is legitimate to ask, how much welfare does Prabhakaran provide to the Tamil people? The facts prove that even Prabhakaran's cadres are dependent on the amenities provided by the "Sinhala-dominated government" to survive. On balance, it is not difficult to conclude as to who is genuinely servicing the Tamil people. The Sri Lankan government even provides free transport facilities escorting the LTTE cadres from one theatre to another. The Sri Lankan government even maintains the proxy MPs of the LTTE, providing them with vehicles, security and salaries. No one has yet quantified the amount of money spent by the "Sinhala-dominated government" in maintaining the amenities delivered free of charge to the LTTE and its proxies.

So if the Sri Lankan government maintains the welfare of the Tamil people what happens to the millions funneled by the Tamils in the Diaspora? For instance, the quantum of TRO money that has been sent to the LTTE theatre from Australia alone (around $23 million, according to official sources) should be enough to keep the LTTE theatre flowing in milk and honey. If you add up the total amount flowing from the Tamil diaspora it should be one of the richest blocks of land in Sri Lanka. But they are always crying poor. Why? What has happened to that money? Who uses them and for what? Has that money gone for the welfare of the Tamils or the warfare of the LTTE?

The LTTE survives on two primary sources:

1) The funding of the Sri Lankan government to provide and maintain the welfare services to the Tamils and

2) The funding by the Tamil diaspora to maintain the well-oiled military machine of the LTTE.

While the Sri Lankan government funds the welfare of the Tamil people -- including the salaries of the LTTE proxies in parliament -- the LTTE diverts the funds collected by the Tamils abroad to beef up its killing machine which, among other things, is used effectively to suppress and oppress the Tamils and keep them subservient to the one-man rule in Vanni. The myth is that the Tamils Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) looks after the welfare of the Tamils. But the reality is that the welfare of the Tamil people has been and continues to be maintained by the Sri Lankan government.

So what legitimacy is there in an organization that collects multi-mega millions and diverts the collection to suppress its own people? Does that confer to it the status of a legitimate state? The primary function of the state is, among other things, to look after the welfare of the people and that is done by "the Sinhala-dominated government". The writ of the Sri Lankan government may not operate in the LTTE theatre but the welfare services, facilities and amenities that provide the Tamil people their daily sustenance is provided by "the Sinhala-dominated government". If the Sri Lankan government withdraws its funding to the welfare of the Tamil people in the LTTE theatre (it should not be done because they continue to be the citizens of the state) the claim of the LTTE running an efficient administration will be exposed.

The efficiency of the LTTE machinery is in destroying property, killing people and keeping the Tamil population under its thumb and not in delivering the basic goods and services to the Tamil people needed for their survival. Prabhakaran has concentrated mainly in maintaining cemeteries and monuments for his failed "liberation struggle".

Prabhakaran and his agents abroad raise Cain when any one of the amenities provided by the Sri Lankan government is not delivered in time, or fails to reach the intended destination. They immediately cry "discrimination". If the LTTE, as they claim, is running the ideal administration for the Tamils why should they blame the Sri Lankan government for any failures in the welfare services rendered by it? If Prabhakaran has the money to buy the most sophisticated technology to arm his killing machine why can't he provide food, clothing, shelter, health services and other infrastructure?

These prevailing conditions expose the myth of the Tamil state and its claim to be "a liberation struggle". The EU resolution too has now driven the last nail into that myth. It has denied any legitimacy for Balasingham's "liberation struggle" that has consistently and relentlessly violated the fundamental rights of the Tamils. Not even the threats issued by Balasingham to escalate violence to another level have succeeded in stopping the EU from banning it. This places a huge question mark over its vast armory.

The irony is that the LTTE has more to lose than gain in using the weapons it has amassed. Boosted by the funds collected from Western bases the LTTE attempts to claim political power from a theory of "balance of power", meaning that they can take on the military might of the Sri Lankan state. But the EU ban confirms (after isolating the LTTE from the international community) that any use of its "WMDs" will not help them to either gain political advantage or credibility for their separatist goal.

The LTTE naval attack on May 11 proved, if proof is necessary at all, that their suicide boats can sink Dvoras but to what end? What political benefits have they gained from such rash and counter-productive exercises. Violence that fails to deliver political gains is a futile exercise. LTTE, with its relentless violence, has painted itself into this irredeemable corner. The more it kills and destroys the more it stands to lose. It may inflate the ego of the killers without any corresponding gains to consolidate their political standing, either nationally or internationally. The "objective realities" (to use one of Balasingham's clichés) dictate that the LTTE has everything to gain by going to talks rather than using its "WMDs".

All in all, it seems that events are militating against LTTE violence. As it happens, the invisible hand that writes history seems to be running against the LTTE. Velupillai Prabhakaran's determination to unleash his next war was first stopped by the tsunami. Now it is the unstoppable force of universally accepted morality that is on its way to paralyze him, one way or another. But in case he pursues violence as he has done in the past (it's a habit he can't drop in a hurry) he will be knocking the last remaining bits out of the rusty bottom of Balasingham's theories. It will certainly make Balasingham's argument's sound like worthless piffle of a hollow man with his headpiece filled with straw.

- Concluded -

- Asian Tribune -

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