Briefing: Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger conflict
Questions and answers on the 26-year insurgency that appears to be over.
(Page 2 of 2)
Western countries that had listed the LTTE as terrorists saw the group as a spoiler. “The international community felt badly done by the Tigers after putting a lot of effort and money into the peace process,” says Alan Keenan, senior analyst in Colombo for the International Crisis Group.Skip to next paragraph
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
One of Prabharakan’s senior lieutenants defected in 2004 in what he says was frustration over his leader's intransigence. Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan, who commanded LTTE combatants in the east, says he gave up on the struggle when Prabhakaran told his negotiators to reject an offer of federalism. “I told him, ‘This is a good time to stop this. A federal situation is a very powerful solution,’ ” says Mr. Muralitharan, who is now a government minister in Colombo.
Where will the Tamil independence movement go from here?
Moderate Tamils might seek autonomy through elections. The Tamil diaspora may put funds behind a new armed resistance movement. Already Tamils in Britain, Canada, the United States, and elsewhere have shown their support by staging protests – thousands turned out in London and hundreds in Washington Monday. Some of the Tamil Tigers may have escaped and could reorganize under new leadership and carry on the fight, although on a much smaller scale.
In any event, it’s widely agreed that the conflict can only end with a political deal for the ethnic Tamils, given the deep divisions between the two sides.
Another pressing concern is the rising humanitarian crisis: Some 8,000 civilians have been killed in the fighting since late January, according to estimates from the United Nations and health officials. Some 265,000 have fled the war zone in recent months, according to the UN refugee agency. (See the Monitor’s report about the camps where they’ve taken refugee here.) The international community has accused both the Army and the rebels of killing civilians, especially in the final weeks of battle. On Monday the European Union called for an independent investigation into alleged war crimes on both sides.
Correspondent Simon Montlake contributed reporting.