The War Diaries

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Archive for the ‘Prabhakaran’ tag

Jon Lee Anderson on the End of Tamil Eelam

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New York- There is a good article titled “Death of the Tiger” in this week’s New Yorker on the end of the Sri Lankan war, which meant the end of the LTTE, the death of Velupillai Prabhakaran (the LTTE’s late supremo/cult leader), and ultimately the end of the concept of Tamil Eelam, a sovereign, separatist ethnic Tamil homeland in northern and eastern Sri Lanka which has vanished.  Anderson does an idea I’ve contemplated since the war’s bloody end in May of 2009. He travels to some of the recently conquered parts of the island where the LTTE had for years a functioning, de facto state which I always found the most fascinating aspect about the situation, When most people discuss the Tigers, they talk of their innovations in suicide bombing technology or the hackneyed bit about the cyanide capsules dangled around the neck in case of capture. But the image of that war that made the biggest impression on me some years ago was of a Tiger courtroom with LTTE judges wearing white wigs and black robes practicing Anglo-Saxon style law and meting out sentences. And then of course there were the neatly dressed traffics cops in Jaffna. Tamil Eelam was more interesting in form than the LTTE itself. Anderson points out that it was such an unusual end to a war like that where there was a decisive military victory (slaughter) on the battlefield. Of course, though the Tigers were a transnational organization at least across the narrow Palk Strait to Tamil Nadu state in India, and the fundraising in Canada, Norway etc, their ideology did not reach beyond the bounds of their territorial aspirations on the island of Ceylon (what Sri Lanka used to be called). Part of the reason the LTTE was such a successful terrorist organization is because they were not opposed to any government other than the Sinhalese one in Colombo (with the exception of India for a few years following the Indian military intervention in Sri Lanka) and therefore it was not terribly difficult for them to operate in the West because the West cared little for the various governments in Colombo during 26 years of war. There are some interesting bits in the article about the last days of Prabhakaran and the end of the war as well as what it’s like to travel in the area now, something I have been very curious about. Sri Lanka is a damn dangerous place for journalists of any stripe but like a beautiful siren strapped with a suicide belt, alluring and irresistible in her deadly gaze.

Written by derekhenryflood

January 13th, 2011 at 10:40 pm