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The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eeelam (LTTE), the rebel group recently defeated by the Sri Lankan military, have announced the formation of a "provisional transnational government" to pursue an autonomous homeland for the Tamil population. The announcement indicates that the separatist group, which was defeated last month after 26 years of conflict with the Sri Lankan Army, has not given up its struggle and is now urging the Tamil diaspora to participate in the future of the movement.
According to the BBC, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, one of the few Tamil Tiger leaders to survive the military operation, released a statement from an unknown location announcing the formation of the transnational government. In May, Mr. Pathmanathan had acknowledged the Tigers' defeat and claimed that the group had given up violence.
But he is now calling for the next phase of the struggle, and has convened a committee – headed by an exiled Tamil lawyer – to facilitate the formation of the new Tamil government. Until recently, Pathmanathan served as the LTTE's head of international relations, including financing and arms procurement.
An opinion piece on TamilNet – a website used by the LTTE to publicize its activities – explains that a transnational government is distinct from a government in exile, as the former comprises representation from across the diaspora, while the latter is aimed at taking control of a specific territory. It calls the transnational government "a novel experiment that has no precedence," and emphasizes the new role of the diaspora in continuing the Tamil struggle.
Only the diaspora and the transnational government could uphold the freedom of aspiration and freedom of expression of Eezham Tamils….
One of the positive achievements of the LTTE is the international infrastructure uniting and motivating the diaspora…. The need of the time now is the metamorphosis of the infrastructure into a democratic and inclusive transnational government of Eezham Tamils to strengthen the diaspora socially, economically and culturally; to achieve the goal of independence and sovereignty of Eezham Tamils in the home country and to meet the international challenges internationally.
The Sri Lankan government has called for international help in apprehending Pathmanathan, reports the Daily Mirror, a Sri Lankan daily.
But the extent of Pathmanathan's influence over the global Tamil community remains unclear. According to Express News Service in India, he lost credibility among the diaspora after admitting the LTTE's defeat and calling for new policies to secure a Tamil homeland. Instead, Tamils, particularly those in the United Kingdom, are flocking towards the LTTE's intelligence wing, which has a robust global network and access to the "financially resourceful Tamil diaspora".
In contrast to [Pathmanathan's] thinking, the LTTE intelligence wing … is of the view that the Tamils need not give credence to the Sri Lankan government's story that [LTTE founder] Prabhakaran is dead, and that there is no need for a revision of the LTTE's ideology, strategy and tactics.
The formation of a transnational government is not entirely unexpected. The Christian Science Monitor has reported that some expatriate Tamils were open to employing democratic means to pursue their agenda or work toward national reconciliation within Sri Lanka.
An opinion piece in the Daily Mirror also suggests that Tamils are open to reorienting as a political movement rather than an insurgency, both in terms of local governance and crossnational activism.
The parties that accepted the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamil people might be in a quandary after the humiliating military defeat of the LTTE since their former stance demands them to follow the LTTE line of thinking. But at the same time they might be happier now than before as they are free to act politically.