Sri Lanka: Armed Resistance or Terrorism?

BATTICALOA — When the state is involved in demolishing peace in the country there then is a serious problem. Furthermore, when the state forces are caught planting bombs and claymore mines then it calls for serious action. Sadly, that is the state of affairs in Sri Lanka.

State terror is a reality. That is something that the international community has chosen to ignore. When a state is hell-bent on ‘secret’ ethnic cleansing, head-hunting human rights activists, journalists, intellectuals, parliamentarians, vocal clerics and witnesses of state crimes then what is the duty and responsibility of the citizens?

It is in this context one has to review the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka. The struggle for liberation against the Sinhala hegemony is seen by the West-dominated international community as terrorism. It is an easy cop-out arising out of intellectual laziness and political convenience and international game plan. The Sinhala state spins its ploys in a word play. It has conveniently hopped into the band wagon of “war against terrorism.” It is a concealment strategy of its cardinal sins against its own citizens.

Is the armed resistance of the Tamils terrorism? Or is it a potent irritant against hegemony?

Even the UN is yet to arrive at a convincing and coherent definition of terrorism. When the Sri Lankan Armed forces kill human rights activists; or when they engage in indiscriminate air raids which claims hundreds of innocent lives of women and children what is often the response of the international community? Silence.

In a politically correct post-modern world why is it that “State terror” is still unacceptable as opposite reality? What gives the state the immunity from crimes against humanity? When a resistance movement engages in an armed struggle (as a measure of counter terror!) against the tyranny and terror of a state why is that only the liberation movement is branded as a terror out-fit? The state terror is given the legitimacy to engage in atrocious illegal actions against its citizens using abominable terror tactics but still it is deemed as righteous force?

We put these above questions in order to provoke re-thinking.

Within the international frame of reference, the definition of a state has to be re-defined. Its actions has to be tested against what is moral and immoral. What is lawful and what is illegitimate. And what are the crimes against humanity and what is deemed to be legitimate force employed by resistance movements.

It is only after working out and arriving at a considered response to such questions can some one advance an intellectually cogent discerning of what is not terrorism but a legitimate armed resistance.

Until such time, the whole-sale tarnishing of the Tamil struggle for liberation as terrorism, particularly by Western nations is tragically ill-liberalism and political opportunism.

Thulasi Wesley Pillai is an active member of the Tamil Women for Human Rights International. Read other articles by Thulasi, or visit Thulasi's website.

19 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. seeni said on May 10th, 2008 at 11:15am #

    freedom of the tamils is robed not only by sinhalese but also by LTTE big time the current president was elected by LTTE by preventing the voters in north from polling their votes .
    when you call a pot black call the kettle as well black.
    we are loseing the stand in the world not due to others but due to the dishonesty , the real tamil value more than their soul.

    if we want our rights we must be honest we must have the character of tamils .
    when we lose our character we lose our identity if we lose identity
    we become animals and nobody take us serious.

  2. dayan jayatilleka said on May 10th, 2008 at 1:01pm #

    If the main cause or problem is Sinhala hegemonism ot state terror, how can one explain the Tigers’ war against the Indian Peackeeping Force and the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, and their assassination of Rajiv Gandhi on Tamil Nadu soil? The writer should take note of Comrade Prachanda and the Nepal Maoists’ indictment of the Tamil Tigers.

  3. krishan canagasabey said on May 10th, 2008 at 1:38pm #

    In addition, the main reason for banning of the LTTE by UK for example was at India’s request, else it would not sign the 2 Billion pound air-force trainer deal. India pulls the strings, and other nations with self-interest. The world is full of countries like that, russia, china, usa, uk, pakistan and of course India, India fears assam, kashmir all becoming independant too. This world and the UN is a talking shop for state terror, its victims have no forum with power or a voice to counter it.

  4. Praveen Medis said on May 10th, 2008 at 1:54pm #

    How wonderful is this article, this educated (I guess so) writer has carefully chosen her words just to show a side of a double sided coin.

    Am I denying the “state terror”..? ..NO, absolutely not, but is that the main reason for human suffering? The answer again is.. NO. In fact the most of the credit, for that matter, should go to “LTTE”, the name, which the writer has carefully and conveniently avoided in her whole article.

    What these so called “human rights activists or journalists” should do is, write the truth thus creating an environment where all the parties can come together and workout a solution, so every body can live peacefully again, instead what most of these people are doing is, creating more grudges through their “pens”, capitalizing on dire situations to make money to feed their hungry stomachs.

    Anybody who can “write” should do it for the “good” of the mankind; else, it is a shame.

  5. A faithful Sri Lankan said on May 10th, 2008 at 1:57pm #

    Hey Thulasi, have you ever noticed that the tamils live side by side with the rest of the communities other than in the North. I wonder why that is? Are there any Sinhalese,Muslim or Burgher communities in Jaffna or Kllinochi or Mutur. Why? BECAUSE OF THE ETHNIC CLEANSING BY THE TAMIL TIGERS da. Get over it. The Tamil Tigers are a bunch of racists and thugs. Who designed and carried out the first suicide bomber? The LTTE. I wonder why they are banned in most parts of the world as a terrorist org.

  6. KAM DE ALWIS said on May 10th, 2008 at 2:58pm #

    AS Ms.Pillai’s article ,If government on the process of so called ethnic clenching there are won’t be any tamils living out side Jaffna.The writer is one of the heap of bandwagon ,under the shado of human right activist organizations, misleading whole world justifying the world most organized and merdours terrorist group actions..
    Who can’t tolarate tamil democrats and interlectuals.The list of democratic tamil politicians killed by LTTE to long to mention here.Very few of them are Former SL foreign minister Luxman Kadiragamer,Dr.Neelan Thiruchelvam(leader of Tamil united liberation front)Mr.Kumar Ponnambalam(President Tamil Congress)Mrs Sarojini Yogeswarn and Mr.Pon Sivapalan(Both Jaffna Mayors),Mr. Vadivelu Vijayarathnam(Point Pedro Urban Council Chairman)Mr.Ganesha lingam( EX. minister north/east province)Mr.Manaikkathesan(leadter TULF)Mr.Rajan Sathyamoorthy(TNA candidate 2004).Real tamil Intellectual and academics cleansing started from 1975 with the killing of MR Alferd Dorrey appa(Jeffna Mayor)
    I t is time to think so called(mass murderous) liberators of Tamils really represent the tamil nationality.

  7. rohana A said on May 10th, 2008 at 3:52pm #

    As many in the past this writer has also not learn her lesson to tell the truth, and because of people like the writer who must be living comfortably either overseas or among the Sinhala hegemony in Sri Lanka, the poor, innocent and helpless Tamil speaking Sri Lankans of the North suffer immensely. People like this writer should go to the North and experience what those people are going through just to make a Psychopathic killer’s dream come true. The writer purposely ignored this Killer and his henchmen killers crimes against innocent children (including babies bashed their heads on stones to save bullets), women (including old and pregnant -Sinhala & Tamil) old and the frail. If you need any evidence for above accusations I am in possession of it and make these accusations with great responsibility.

    Also I must inform you that the accusations made are baseless when you don’t have evidence or not given the opportunity for the other party to prove their innocence.

    How many times the governments of Sri Lanka has given this bunch of killers the opportunity to detail their grievances of the Tamil speaking Sri Lankans, so that they can resolve these issues without any bloodshed and save many innocent lives? Is the writer aware of it or ignoring to mislead the readers and the world? Can the writer let the world know how many other countries in the world has done that?

    SO, I plead to people like this writer to let forget about blaming and accusing each other but help to save many more lives of Sinhala speaking Sri Lankans and Tamil speaking Sri Lankans, so that we can get together and make everyone’s lives a better and happy one. Otherwise very soon the Tamil race will be the third race in Sri Lanka. Please think about his.

  8. Subra S.Massey said on May 10th, 2008 at 4:26pm #

    Hello Thulasi Wesley Pillai,
    Madame we salute you for having written an article like this. Will you permit me to email this article to various leaders in the world?. We need to let the world know what is moral and what is immoral. What is the difference between state sponsored terroism and people sponsored freedom struggle? We have to keep the world informed for a time will come when we need them to keep silent for when the freedom forces defeat the infidels we do not want them to take their side. The time has come and not too far away where they have to keep quite for they will have no choice. It is in their own interest of the Signhalese masses to rise up and produce an equitable government. When the agony of the minds of all Jews coalesed a new dimension in world geopolitics was born. I think India has a moral duty to help the Tamils, if it does not, it is breeding its own demise in its own back yard. There are 800,000 struggling Tamils all over the world, when their minds coalese a new geopolkitical dimesion will be born with an irreversible change. We are infact working very hard to bring all 100 million Tamils together to fight this injustice.
    We see the victory in the very near future. But we have to keep it up.
    We are constantly bombarding the cyberspece with our call for unity and commitment. Visit our website and you will see them all.

  9. Harsha S said on May 10th, 2008 at 6:23pm #

    This is in reply to the article “Sri Lanka: Armed Resistance or Terrorism?” According to the article the writer is is an active member of the Tamil Women for Human Rights International.
    The writer take extra care not to use the name “LTTE” although she is writing the whole document on behalf of them. The writer named The LTTE Terrorism as “Tamil Struggle” as most LTTE terrorist supporters do. Needless to say that no terrorist would admit that he is a terrorist. “Freedom struggle”, “Holy war”, “Armed resistance” are the alternate words that they use justify killing of innocent lives. In Sri Lanka, LTTE funded “human rights” organizations, “Media Movements” and relief agencies play a major role in defending the terrorism. Recently banned TRO organization is a good example for that. TRO, so called relief agency got caught by the US officials in a Arms deal. These different faces of LTTE terrorism should be identified by the international community.
    The writer in her letter carefully wording the LTTE terrorism as “Armed resistance” as if she was recently landed to earth from another planet from the universe.
    She was not aware of how many Tamil leaders were killed by these terrorists for past 30 years. The leaders who fought for Tamil rights such as A Amirthalingam. How many attempts they made using women suicide bombers to kill “Douglas Devananda” another Tamil leader, who did not approve terrorism? Any Tamil who did not approve LTTE brutal terrorism were tagged as a traitor and be killed. At the same time LTTE effectively use so called Human rights organization and Pro-LTTE media to blame the Government to gain international sympathy. LTTE so far successfully doing this using its “Diplomatic” agents. This letter is a classic example for such an attempt.
    Further, the writer advice the international community how to see this “Tamil Struggle”, as :“It is in this context one has to review the Tamil struggle in Sri Lanka”. The international community do not need the writers direction to look at the “Tamil Struggle”. Last week (May 7, 2008) Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) has found documents from World Tamil Movement (WTM) demanding money from Canadian Tamils by the LTTE. RCMP also found that WTM has stolen Elections Canada voter’s lists with Tamil names highlighted; these are violations of Law and order of a country. These are terrorist activities. International community is well aware of what is going on in Sri Lanka.
    The writer pretends that she do not know about the crimes against humanity done by LTTE. If there a “Armed resistance” it should be against armed force. Not against civilians commuting in a bus or people who do religious activities in their own temples and Mosques. I challenge the writer how she would justify killing of 29 passengers in a bus in January 2008 who were traveling in Buttala ? It was reported that after blasting the bus using the claymore bomb the terrorist shoot at the fleeing victims. Is this a “Armed Resistance” ? Against civil passengers? I wonder how this so called “Human Right activist” writer would justify the Killing of 152 worshipers including Buddhist Monks in Anuradhapura “Sri Maha bodi” (May,1985) one of the main secret places of Buddhists. Is that “Armed resistance” ? Is it the “Armed Resistance” , that 103 Muslims including 25 Children were preying in Kattankudi Mosque were massacred by LTTE in August 1990 ? My intension here is not list down thousands of such massacres done by LTTE, according the writer by the so called “Armed resistance”.
    Further, the writer did not mention the demands of so called “Tamil Struggle”. The main demand is to have a “Separate state” or “Ealam” for Tamils. The area the “Tamil Struggle” demands include the whole of North and East Provinces and parts of North Central Province which comprise of one third (1/3) of the country’s land mass and two third of the costal area including the sea/oceanic resources. Out of the total population, Sri Lankan Tamils comprise only 3.9% (CIA The world Fact Book) over 50 % of that lives in southern areas with Sinhalese majority. This struggle of demanding 1/3rd of the country and 2/3rd of the costal areas to 4% of the population purely based on the racism is called “Tamil struggle” or “Armed Resistance” according to the writer.
    It is well known fact that despite all these terrorist activities, all the governments came into power extended hand to LTTE to come to peace negotiation. The only result from all the attempts was LTTE took time off to re-strengthen them selves and walk away from the negotiation table after they accomplished their task. But fortunately, the present government take a step different from the other governments when the LTTE played the same game of accusing the government and walked away from the peace talks in 2002. Present government take a firm action to either to bring LTTE into political path just like the LTTE Karuna fraction or eliminate LTTE Terrorism using military power. Needless to say, as in any military operation the main affected party is the civilians. Sri Lanka is no exception to that but as legitimate government how long it can give in to this LTTE terrorism?
    These “Humanitarian agents” and other terrorist funded organization are working at their best to save the dying organization. If the there is no LTTE they know that they will lost their lively hood. Fortunately the international community has indentified these different faces of Terrorism.

  10. niyaz khan said on May 10th, 2008 at 7:18pm #

    kill 100 s of innocent people by bus bombs,suicide bombs and recruit child soldiers are freedom strugggle,kill more,freedom struggle need more blood,hahahahaha

  11. Haren said on May 10th, 2008 at 7:31pm #

    This is just in response to Subra Massey’s post, his website is a front for the LTTE and its name is extremely misleading. It should rather be called Ealam Unite.

  12. shan said on May 11th, 2008 at 2:37am #

    All these comments about terrorism by ltte, commentators do not understand the political struggle by the tamils failed before the youths were forced to take up armed struggle.50-50,federalism request were all denied by the sucessesive governments. Mr.SWRD was killed by buddhist monk as he was prepared to accept tamils demands for self administration.No ethnic cleansing? look at the demography of east which has changed completely since 1956.
    Tamil youths only took up arms only after three decades of failure to achieve any solutions by peaceful means.please accept the truth

  13. jaya said on May 12th, 2008 at 5:04am #

    It is sad that many who have critisized this article only see the LTTE as the terrorist but not the singhalese military and politicians. As mentioned earlier, people who have followed and have ben affected by this struggle know very well, the tamil youths only took up arms after many many years of passive resistant after being lied to by the southern politicians. The evidence of this is well documented. The pattern and behaviour of the present singhalese government can be seen in the light of what happeneded in Kosova. It is truly sad that a seperate state is the only way peace can come to this land and its people. Thousands have lost their lives on both sides. How many more must die before the leaders on both sides come to a common understanding?.

  14. Subra S.Massey said on May 13th, 2008 at 4:10am #

    Are you referring to the LTTE, Lifting the Tamil Tide Everywhere (acronym LTTE) or the LTTE in Sri Lanka? I hope you understand that the LTTE has reformed and transformed into a global financial force owing corporation where the sharehoders are not only Tamils but other nationalities like Scotts, Jews, Japanese etc. Injustice will always be defeated. Our enemy is injustice not Singhalese people, we are fighting injustice. Want to take me to the International court in the Hague? Lets come face to face and face the reality. Injustice was done to the human race and we are fighting for it, not only for the Tamils but for all people all over the world. I was born in the 1940s and I saw with my own eyes the brutality and no one can deny it. LTTE never killed any innocent Singhalese and they will never ever. WE are human beings and we know how precious life is.
    Talking about money, if I own shares in Coco Cola, do you mean to say Coc Cola is supporing terrorism? Try it, if you can take Coco Cola to the Court or ask US govt. to ban Coco Cola. or you want to try Waren Buffet of Bershire Heatheway. You know where we are heading. Pull your head out of the quick sand and smell the fresh air. The corrupt govt. of SL vs the world. Imagine if not for the 800,000 Tamils outside Sri Lanka, by now we all would have been killed in ethnic cleansing.
    Aryan Buddhist Singhala nation and the Maha Sangha and their agenda.. Hum.. Just don’t cry foul.

  15. Subra S.Massey said on May 13th, 2008 at 4:14am #

    No not at all, Sri Lanka will be united and will be one country. Rest assured.

  16. Nuwan Ranasinghe said on May 19th, 2008 at 5:06am #

    it is evident as a Sri Lankan and as a Sinhalese, trying to talk sense and promoting unity fails in the eyes of barbarianism. for years i as a Sri Lankan have lobbied and rallied for peace. promoting ethnic cooperation and togetherness for a country as a whole at various levels of social awareness.
    yet now i feel i have been mislead, misdirected, and betrayed.
    the question now i ask myself is why should i promote something which is totally mythical? we see that almost all Tamil thinking is alike? have we seen a genuine attempt made by a Tamil which would have enriched Sri Lanka????
    how ever i still do believe earnestly that all humans are equal and deep down somewhere there is decency left in humanity. but if there is a way to end this political bitterness i believe we as Sri Lankans, and as part of the majority Sinhalese, should take the initiative. after all it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be built.
    check out this article as well.

  17. Subra S.Massey said on May 22nd, 2008 at 4:29pm #

    Mr.Nuwan Ranasinghe,
    We all want to live as one people called Sri Lankans. But there is a leadership vacuum in our country. Looking at the events in the last 50 years I came to the conclusion that there is some sinister plan behind all these riots and wars. The Tamil component has been significantly reduced and the plan is to reduce it further to make Tamil not a minority but a non significant percentage and then all what the Tamil can do is just coolies and servants. But came in the 800,000 Diaspora, this significantly altered the equation. Sri Lanka is separated from the world goegraphically by Indian ocean and politically by the attitude of the Leaders. So there is going to be the influence from South India and from the Diaspora. The Singhalese leadership must understand that there are two major forces one is 85 million Tamils in South india and 800,000 Tamils in Rich countries. So the Tamils in Sri Lanka have two strong support one is population and other is money. The Sri Lanka leaders have a fromidable task at hand. The solution for them is to live as one people and get the Tamil on their side, but they are doing the opposite

    The LTTE has support in other parts of the world too. With the advent of realtime information the world gets updated instantly and you saw how we removed Sri Lanka from the UNHR position. The next step is economic sanctions. The third dimension to the conflict is world opinion. So the Singhalese have opened a third battle front. South India, Diaspora, World opinion. Sri Lanka is neither financially nor politically strong to deal with these three fronts. They may have Muhamali, Mannar and Weli Oya as the battle fronts, but the real battle is fought in the international forum.
    If we get the economic sanctions in place no foreign help is liable to come. Then what? Surrender? When Barak Obama becomes the President the equation is going more in favour of the Tamils. Neither India, nor china and for that matter Pakistan has any know how in dealing with foreign countries but the Europeans and The Americans do, thay favour a peaceful solution because they have seen the astuteness of Tamils. It is in the interest of the Singhalese is to go for negotiate settlement. Once the LTTE gets more planes and the long distance rockets, all vitals point will become vulnerable. They will as they do now only hit the vital points, the army is the field is a false deception. I am sure you will soon see a massive attack on some garrison, then the army in the field has no place but to surrender.
    I am sure LTTE is more knowlegeable than I am. If they can anihilate the Indian army, Sri Lanka army is a piece of cake.
    To make it short we are trying to bring about a negotiated settlement.
    I think the current leadership understands it but the Maha Sangha is beligerent. We have to separate the state from the church. I write this with my limited knowledge. so forgive me if I have made any wrong statements. Deep in my heart we are all brothers and sisters.

  18. Nuwan Ranasinghe said on June 16th, 2008 at 9:10am #

    Dear “Deluded” Mr. Subra S.Massey ,
    Quote: “We all want to live as one people called Sri Lankans. But there is a leadership vacuum in our country”

    Jeyaraj Fernandopulle,D.M. Dissanayake,T. Maheshwaran, Herath Abeyweera,Kethesh Logananathan,Nataraja raviraj,Joseph Pararajasingham,Lakshman Kadirgamar,M.L. Baithullah,Cheliyan Perimpanayakam,C. V. Goonaratne,Aruna De Silva,Marias Anton aka David,Atputharajah Nadarajah, Alias Ramesh,Nagalingam Manikkadasan,Neelan Thiruchelvam,Muthulingam Ganesh Kumar a.k.a Razeek,Ponnuyhurai Sivapalan,S. Shanmuganadan,Ms. Sarojini Yogeswaran,Mohammad Maharoof,Arunachalam Thangathurai,Thomas Anton,Karavai Kandamasamy,Gamini Disanayake,G. M. Premachandra,Weerasinghe Mallimarachchi,Dr. Ganini Wijesekarea,Ossie Abeygunasekara ,Ranasinghe Premadasa,Ranjan Wijeratne,K. Kanagaratnam,K. Padmanabha,V. Yogasankari,P. Kirubakaran,Sam Tambimuttu,T. Ganeshalingam,A. Amrithalingam,V. Yogeswaran,A. Majeed,Sri Sabarathnam,K. Alalasunderam,V. Dharmalingam,A. Thiagarajah,Alfred Duraiyapah

    This may seem just a list of names to you, but apparently these are all Sri Lankan Leaders assassinated by the LTTE. So is it wondered that there is a void?
    The LTTE created the VOID!

    Let’s “assume” that the South Indians did support the LTTE….well if they really did, and if they were really powerful as you try to depict…then probably this war would have seen an end to, long time ago. And then maybe the LTTE flags would have been all over Jaffna…but it isn’t so is it??? …India has its own problems even though they try to cover everything (Unlike us!) do you honestly believe they give a hoot for eelam?

    Quote: “The next step is economic sanctions”
    This could probably become a reality (unlike your other deluded babblings)due to the fact that the terrorist war going on in the north might truly turn into a civil war and the Sinhalese in the north might take it to their own hands and be “less civilized” and re enact 83. This is what I fear the most since it would take the country back another 10 yrs. I hope and pray that it wouldn’t come to that.

    Quote: “When Barak Obama becomes the President the equation is going more in favour of the Tamils”
    I fail to understand the basis and logic behind this comment. Please do explain 🙂 it sounds rather interesting!

    Quote: “If they can annihilate the Indian army, Sri Lanka army is a piece of cake.”
    I may not be an expert on history but as I recall no one annihilated any one. The fact that the IPKF left was a victory for Sri Lanka as a whole, not only for the Tamils, the LTTE, or the Sinhalese, But for Sri Lankans. It was a combined effort on all parts that the Indians left Mr. Premadasa, I believe was a driving force behind this campaign.

    Quote: “Deep in my heart we are all brothers and sisters.”

    (If you support the LTTE) isn’t it ironic that you kill your brothers and sisters?…if killing your siblings isn’t considered barbaric… then words do truly elude me.

  19. Samuel said on August 11th, 2008 at 5:37pm #

    There would be no need for armed resistence of LTTE, if the Sri Lankan state government had not carried out genocide against Tamils, which resulted in the deaths of over 215,000 Tamils, according to UN estimates. The greatest problem is Sri Lanka is government corruption and media cencorship. The government has been using proxy groups, posing as Tamils, to get rid of political enemies. On top of this, the government uses repressive measures against the so-called terrorists, to silence its own people. In the lastest phase of the war, the government has used un-democratic measures, such as arrest and detentions without trail for extended period of time, torture, and kidnappings. This is supposed to be used against suspect LTTE, but is incresingly used against Singhale and Muslim dissidents.