July 21, 2024


Latest News and Updates on Sri Lanka

The debacle of the Tamil Tigers

In Sri Lanka, the Tamils, mostly located in the north of the country, represent 30% of the population compared to 75% Sinhalese. They are Hindus. And it is to defend the rights of this minority that in 1972, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam took up arms. Their conflict has since left nearly 70,000 dead. With a Marxist-Leninist ideology, they want self-determination and the creation of a state, Tamil Eelam, in the northeast of the island. Today they would be in agony.

Yet it was said to be the most effective guerrilla war in the world. The only one structured, to the point of having naval and air units, and even submersibles. And a parallel administration.

To their record, many attacks against Sri Lankan personalities, but it is the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Indian Prime Minister in 1992, which is worth to them to be put on the list of the terrorist organizations in 32 countries.

It is notably the first guerrilla in the world to use the suicide bombing as a means of action. On February 20, the Sri Lankan army shot down two of their kamikaze planes, stuffed with explosives, which targeted the Sri Lankan air force headquarters. Two and a half years ago, the Tigers occupied 15,000 square kilometers of Sri Lankan territory, an area they claimed for the creation of their state. Today, they would only control a very small pocket of resistance in the north.

It was in 2005 that the tide started to turn. The election of Mahinda Rajapakse as head of state will change the situation. The new president no longer wants to negotiate and has promised the annihilation of the rebellion, giving the army carte blanche for the first time on the ground. Aided in particular by the desertion of a former colonel of the Tigers who provided valuable information, the army therefore succeeded in recovering a large part of the rebel territory. But no one yet dares bet on their disappearance. Even if they are losing ground, they still have an ability to hurt, according to most analysts.