Threats to Sri Lanka after ending insurgency and terrorism

Sunday, 10 May 2015 16:33 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Following is the address titled ‘Threats to Sri Lanka After Ending Insurgency and Terrorism’ by Asanga Abeyagoonasekera at the US South Asia Leader Engagement Program organised by the National Defense University Washington (NESA) and Harvard Kennedy School Cambridge Massachusetts USA, on 28 April


The terrorist organisation LTTE for nearly three decades disturbed our society with many assassinations of innocent civilians including our President R. Premadasa who was killed by a suicide attack on 1 May along with many innocent civilians gathered for International Labour Day; Dr. Neelan Tiruchelvam, a Sri Lankan Tamil and a distinguished scholar loved by many from Harvard University, was brutally assassinated outside his residence by a suicide attack; National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali, another popular politician who studied in this University Harvard; our late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, who tirelessly worked to declare LTTE as a terrorist group was brutally assassinated; and Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi are a few among the brutal assassinations carried by the terror group. 

With great assistance from many international nations including United States we finally managed to defeat the LTTE in 2009. A great achievement for the entire nation and for all communities who lived in fear every day.

Sri Lanka is one of the few countries in the world to have defeated a full-blown terrorist campaign and an insurgency. For this terrorist group LTTE most of its support infrastructure was located in the West notably in Canada and in the UK, countries hosting large Tamil communities. After the LTTE was dismantled in Sri Lanka in May of 2009, the Government stabilised the conflict affected areas by investing in humanitarian assistance, socioeconomic development and in political engagement.

Attempt to revive 

LTTE network

The LTTE leaders who fled Sri Lanka attempted to revive the LTTE network overseas five years after the defeat. However, the Government of Sri Lanka under UN Security Council Resolution 1373 proscribed 15 LTTE fronts with effect from 1 April 2014. The order enabled funds, assets, economic resources belonging to or owned by the designated persons and entities to remain frozen until the removal of their names from the designated list.

The designated persons and entities were identified by reviewing documents recovered from LTTE archives. They were the facilitators, propagandists, recruiters, fundraisers, procurement officers and shipping managers of the LTTE. Today, they are prohibited from moving, transferring or dealing with frozen assets without the permission of the Competent Authority. The seriousness of the Order was conveyed to nations where these foreign terrorist organisations and persons are now domiciled.

In early 2015, with the formation of a new Sri Lankan Government under President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, the relations with India and the West dramatically improved. Nonetheless, the LTTE is continuing to mount pressure on the Government to de-proscribe its fronts overseas. A segment of the Tamil National Alliance, the de facto political wing of the LTTE that politically recognised the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamils, electorally supported Sirisena to come to power and wanted Rajapaksa to be defeated. 

The hardline elements within TNA benefitted from the LTTE fronts and was influenced by the fronts overseas that is calling for separatism. Some members of the TNA receive funds from LTTE fronts overseas. Today, the LTTE front support the TNA hardliners campaign of Tamil nationalism and not reconciliation in Sri Lanka.

Ban on the LTTE

In April 2015, under political pressure the new Government announced that they will review the ban on the LTTE fronts but the Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera announced that the ban on the LTTE will continue. The LTTE personalities and entities listed project themselves as activists and diaspora organisations. But it is they that supported three decades of violence and now propagate an ideology of revenge and not reconciliation. 

The LTTE fronts call for war crimes investigations of the security forces that ended terrorism when they supported the LTTE that perpetrated atrocities, war crimes and terrorism. These organisations are largely located in the West.

The foreign terrorist organisations with the gazette notification numbers are:

1. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam a.k.a. LTTE a.k.a. Tamil Tigers - EN/CA/2013/01

2. Tamil Rehabilitation Organisation a.k.a. TRO. - EN/CA/2013/02 (Sri Lanka & Overseas)

3. Tamil Coordinating Committee a.k.a. TCC - EN/CA/2013/03

4. British Tamil Forum a.k.a. BTF - EN/CA/2013/04 (Operating from London, UK)

5. World Tamil Movement a.k.a. WTM - EN/CA/2013/05 (Operating from Canada)

6. Canadian Tamil Congress a.k.a. CTC - EN/CA/2013/06 (Operating from Canada)

7. Australian Tamil Congress a.k.a. ATC - EN/CA/2013/07 (Operating from Australia)

8. Global Tamil Forum a.k.a. GTF - EN/CA/2013/08 (Operating from UK)

9. National Council of Canadian Tamils a.k.a. NCCT a.k.a. Makkal Avai - EN/CA/2013/09 (Operating from Canada) 

10. Tamil National Council a.k.a. TNC - EN/CA/2013/10 (Operating from Norway, Italy, 

Switzerland, France, Canada.)

11. Tamil Youth Organisation a.k.a. TYO - EN/CA/2013/11 (Operating from Australia)

12. World Tamil Coordinating Committee a.k.a. WTCC. - EN/CA/2013/12

13. Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam a.k.a. TGTE - EN/CA/2013/13

14. Tamil Eelam Peoples Assembly a.k.a. TEPA - EN/CA/2013/14

15. World Tamil Relief Fund a.k.a. WTRF - EN/CA/2013/15

16. Headquarters Group a.k.a. HQ Group - EN/CA/2013/16

The above categorised foreign terrorist organisations are led by the following four key individuals:

1.Perinbanayagam Sivaparan alias “Nediyavan”

2.Rev. Fr. S.J. Emmanuel

3.Visuvanathan Ruthirakumaran

4.Sekarampillai  Vinayakamoorthy alias Vinayagam

Sri Lanka a case study

Sri Lanka is a case study to understand and defeat insurgency and terrorism. With international failures in Iraq and Afghanistan to restore peace and stability, the Sri Lankan case is instructive. To end politically motivated violence, political will is paramount. Without political will at the highest level, insurgency and terrorism could not have ended. Furthermore, without political will reconciliation between the communities would not be possible.

For instance, Sri Lanka’s terrorist and insurgent rehabilitation program has been hailed as a global success and a model for the world. Contrary to the Western narrative, there was no civil war in Sri Lanka. There was perfect harmony between the communities except when provoked by the power hungry politicians and terrorists. 

Today, it is paramount for Sri Lanka to learn from Afghanistan and Iraq and not to dismantle the security platform in the north and east. Similarly, the Government should continue to build reconciliation programs to engage communities between north and south and east and west. Government and the international community should never take peace for granted but steadfastly work to seed and sustain peace in previous conflict zones as long as terrorist fronts still survive and linger on Western soil.