Tamil Tigers

From Academic Kids

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE, pronounced L-T-T), also known as the Tamil Tigers, is the main Tamil anti-government organization operating in Sri Lanka. Founded in 1976, it is one of the many such organisations that seek to establish an independent state for Ceylon Tamils, to be called Tamil Eelam, in the north-east of Sri Lanka.

The leader of the organization is Thamil National Leader Velupillai Prabakharan. The LTTE has absorbed most of the people from the other Tamil organisations over the two decades long war, as claimed by LTTE an independence struggle, and has generally pursued an all-out approach to war, including violent activities and suicide bombings as well as successful conventional engagements. LTTE is proscribed as a terrorist organization by several countries including USA, Britain, India, Australia and Malaysia. Nevertheless, the organization is widely recognised as the entity the government must make peace with, if it is to have peace with the Tamils of North and East, and consequently it is not banned in Sri Lanka. It is currently a party to negotiations with the government aimed at seeking a solution to the long-standing crisis. LTTE-backed Thamizarasuk Katchi has won over 90% of votes in the electoral district of Jaffna, in the Northern Province, in the parliamentary elections.


India's involvement

The LTTE's early years of struggle reportedly enjoyed considerable sympathy from the Indian government, especially in the state of Tamil Nadu where there was sympathy for the discrimination against Sri Lankan Tamils by the majority Sinhalese. It is widely believed that India provided the LTTE and other Tamil guerilla groups with monetary and training support.

After the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was signed on July 29, 1987 by Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Jayewardene, the Sri Lankan Government made a number of concessions to Tamil demands, which included devolution of power to the provinces, merger--subject to later referendum--of the northern and eastern provinces, and official status for the Tamil language. India agreed to establish order in the north and east with an Indian Peace-Keeping Force (IPKF) and to cease assisting Tamil insurgents. Militant groups including the LTTE, although initially reluctant, agreed to surrender their arms to the IPKF.

As time went on, the Indian forces began to meet with stiff opposition from all sides. None of the concessions agreed in the Indo-Sri Lankan agreement was implemented by the Government of Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan government, fearing a large scale rebellion began to grow wary of the presence of IPKF, and allegedly entered into a secret deal with the LTTE, which culminated in a ceasefire. However, the LTTE and IPKF continued to have frequent hostilities, and according to some reports, the government even armed the rebels willing to see the back of the Indian forces. Casualties mounted and eventually India pulled out its troops. Support from India dropped noticeably in 1991, after the assassination of a recently ex-Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi, by a woman suicide bomber widely believed to be an LTTE member. India remains an outside observer to the ongoing peace process, with frequent demands to press for an extradition of Prabhakaran, even if a peace deal is struck between the parties in the future.

Missing image
LTTE Sea Tigers off Mullaitivu in May 2004. The light fast attack fiberglass boats have proved highly effective against the Sri Lanka Navy. This boat has an all-female crew.

The LTTE unilaterally declared a ceasefire in 2000 and entered into a ceasefire agreement with the Sri Lankan government brokered by Norway. The LTTE is mainly funded by "taxes" collected within territories controlled by them in Sri Lanka. The LTTE employes both children and women in its ranks. It also has a naval wing called the sea tigers.

Current status

The LTTE controls sections in the north and east of the island, especially the regions lying outside the major cities. Since late 2001, there has been a ceasefire, and the LTTE has indicated its willingness to give up its call for a separate state, seeking political and economic autonomy for Tamils within a one-state solution. The peace process has been mediated by Norway, a country that has often found favour with both the government and the insurgents. Together with the other Nordic countries, Norway supports the monitoring of the ceasefire through the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission.

Talks on an interim solution were stalled due to accusations of soft-politics by the President Chandrika Kumaratunga, against the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, who belongs to the opposition party, and who is in charge of the negotiations. The talks are on hold until political uncertainty between the two main parties leaves it clear with whom the LTTE is to negotiate.

The Sri Lankan government while involved in a massive military expansion program, accuses the LTTE of using the ceasefire to build up its forces. The LTTE also continues to be accused by the government and international human rights organizations of abducting school children, killing political rivals and using suicide bombers. The LTTE, on the other hand, accuse the Sri Lankan government of carrying out killings of civilians, political workers and journalists using paramilitary groups armed by the government and operating from Sri Lankan military bases and government police stations in government-controlled Tamil areas. Others worry that the LTTE, government and some others are too focused on the money poised to come in from northern countries as peace unfolds, rather than seeking a solution that will lead to a workable and lasting peace.

LTTE remains proscribed as a terrorist organization by several countries including USA, Britain, India, Australia and Malaysia.

The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake has increased tensions between the LTTE and the national government. Each group is blaming the other for inadequate preparation and treatment. The Sri Lankan government is alleged to have been blocking basic humanitatian aid for tsunami victims and access by foreign humanatarian agencies to the Tamil rebel held areas where over two thirds of the damage and deaths from the tsunami occurred. This included refusal to allow the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan to visit the worst hit areas on the island which are on the rebel held East coast when he asked to do so. The head of the UN World Food Program Jim Morris, however was finally able to visit rebel-held territory, despite initial objections by the Sri Lankan government. He added that aid had reached "nearly everyone... who has been harmed by the disaster". [1] (

The LTTE has been accused of continuing to recruit child soldiers, including from tsunami relief camps.[2] (http:// UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for travel bans on the LTTE, along with 40 other groups accused of using child soldiers, as a result of this.

See also

Further reading

  • Balasingham, Adele. (2003) The Will to Freedom - An Inside View of Tamil Resistance, Fairmax Publishing Ltd, 2nd ed. ISBN 1-903679-036
  • Narayan Swamy, M. R. (2002) Tigers of Lanka: from Boys to Guerrillas, Konark Publishers; 3rd ed. ISBN 8122006310
  • Pratap, Anita. (2001) Island of Blood: Frontline Reports From Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Other South Asian Flashpoints. Penguin Books, ISBN 0142003662
  • de Votta, Neil. (2004) Blowback: Linguistic Nationalism, Institutional Decay, and Ethnic Conflict in Sri Lanka. Stanford University Press, ISBN 0804749248

External links

  • [5] (
  • [6] (

de:Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam fr:Tigres de libération de l'Eelam tamoul fi:Tamilitiikerit no:Tamiltigrene pl:Tamilskie Tygrysy sv:LTTE


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