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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2955

Why the EU did ban the LTTE?

By R.Gunaratna

After careful consideration, the EU countries have finally banned the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam [LTTE]. This is undoubtedly a major victory for the Government of Sri Lanka as it had been making continuous efforts to get the LTTE banned in the EU countries. In the past, appeals of the Sri Lankan Government to ban the LTTE were disregarded. This ban is also a severe blow to the LTTE, since they never expected such a harsh treatment from the international community. Under the circumstances, it is useful to examine the key underpinnings reasons behind this unprecedented move of the EU.

In the past, some of the EU countries viewed the struggle of the LTTE as a freedom movement and one that represents the will of the Tamils in the country and the Government of Sri Lanka as one that had been unlashing terror on the Tamils who have been fighting for their freedom.

Therefore, the recent ban is a major shift in their stance about the LTTE. During the 30 years of violence about 68000 lives were lost and the country was devastated by the ravages of the war. Many attempts were made to bring the warring factions to the negotiation table, but failed. However, the Ceasefire Agreement signed between the Government and the LTTE four years ago is still in force in paper and numerous incidents in the recent past shattered the agreement a meaningless one.

In this context, from the Sri Lanka's point of view, this ban, which delimited and demoralized the LTTE in the international arena, would force the group to seek for a peaceful resolution by talking to the Government of Sri Lanka. Yet, this would depend on how politically and ideologically divided political world in the south of Sri Lanka be prepared to pick the fruits of the ban.

For the EU, banning of the LTTE is a timely act. At present, nearly 600,000 Sri Lankan Tamils are living is Europe alone and they have been able to lobby in the political world of the Europe to secure support for their struggle. Many Tamils are still immigrating to the Europe legally and illegally. In general, influx of illegal immigrants and immigration matters are emerging as major security and social issues in the Europe after 9/11. Above all, the LTTE's possible connection to the Al-Qaeda and other Jihad organizations has serious security implications too. It is noted that the LTTE has been providing various services to the other terrorist organizations. Currently, the LTTE is the only known international terrorist organization with a strong global network and capacity after Al-Qaeda.

At the same time, Muslim community in the EU is of the view that the Western governments have been targeting only Muslim organizations and more dangerous organizations such as the LTTE remained untouched. This thinking posed negative impacts on the EU's efforts in wining the hearts and minds of the Muslim communities.

Therefore, possible banning of all the terrorist organizations would let these countries to take a common stance on the terrorist issues as a whole. More importantly, it appears that if the LTTE is left untouched, within another 10 years it would become one similar to the Al-Qaeda and it can pose a formidable threat internationally. In fact, this ban would pave the way for western Governments to keep an eye on LTTTE's terrorist activities. This ban helps to stop fund raising activities as well as LTTE's support to the other organizations in fund transferring and similar acts. Using the ban it would become easy to crack down the front organizations of the LTTE too.

More importantly, the EU countries are very much concerned about the LTTE atrocities, human rights violations and child recruitment too.

After all, the EU and the USA should have to shut their doors to all the terrorist organizations in order to wage an effective war on terrorism. Timely acts of this nature would undoubtedly give clear signals to the world of terrorists that the international community would no longer tolerates terrorism in any part of the world.

Certainly, this ban has boosted the morale of the Government of Sri Lanka. However, the effects of the ban would be felt only if the Government of Sri Lanka is able to bring the LTTE to the negotiation table with the support of the international community and win the hearts and minds of Tamil community to find a lasting solution to the conflict. The Government of Sri Lanka has reiterated its commitments for a negotiated settlement. However, the escalation of violence in the North and east has added a new height and depth to the problem. In addition, threatening rhetoric of the LTTE leaders have also cast some doubts about its intention to find a peaceful solution to the problem. Now the ball is in the court of the LTTE.

It appears that more countries would consider banning the LTTE taking the lead from the EU and other countries.

However effectiveness of the ban depends on how the Government of Sri Lanka is going to handle the Tamils and Muslims issues in the country.

If the Government considers that the problems of the minority communities such as Tamils and Muslims are different and the problems of the LTTE is different and come forward to solve effectively the problems of the Tamil speaking people, then the ban by the international community would become more effective an a d lasting one.

R.Gunaratna is a reader of the Asian Tribune and he submitted this article for publication in the Asian Tribune.

- Asian Tribune -

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