Term Paper: Tamil Tigers

Pages: 11 (3366 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Terrorism  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] The LTTE itself confirmed at least 378 suicide bombings in the period between July 5th of 1987 and November 20th, 2008 (Humanitarian). They were also the first terrorist group to use women as suicide bombers (Bhattacharji). This inclusion was important in that women had never before been utilized in this faction and thus were not suspected by targets, making them more effective killers than their male counterparts. Most of the targets of these suicide bombings were military, although some civilians were also targeted in order to incite fear in the nonmilitant population that siding against the LTTE was against their interests if they hoped to survive. Some non-military targets, like the Buddhist shrine in Kandy were destroyed because they held religious significance to the Sri Lankan people. Other civilian institutions, such as Colombo's International Airport were attacked in order to prove the strength of the LTTE and to attempt to force the government into giving into the Tamil Tiger's demands.

Since it has been labeled a terrorist organization as opposed to a legitimate resist movement, the LTTE has not received assistance from the United States or other outside nations. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's 2008 report on the terrorist group known as the Tamil Tigers:

The Tamil Tigers are among the most dangerous and deadly extremists in the world. For more than three decades, the group has launched a campaign of violence and bloodshed in Sri Lanka, the island republic off the southern coast of India. Its ultimate goal: to seize control of the country [of Sri Lanka] from the Sinhalese ethic majority and create an independent Tamil state. Along the way, it has launched suicide attacks, assassinated politicians (including a government minister this week and even the Sri Lankan President), taken hostages, and committed all of kinds of crimes to finance its operations. The resulting civil war has taken the lives of nearly 70,000 Sri Lankans on both sides of the conflict since 1983 alone (Taming).

The major difference between a legitimate resistance organization and terrorists has everything to do with the ways in which the organization goes about their attempted liberation (Sri Lanka). The LTTE has made it clear that they have no qualms about attacking civilian locations and of destroying innocent bystanders. Of more concern to international human rights and child advocacy groups has been the LTTE's dependence and utilization of child soldiers against the Sri Lankan army. UNICEF has stated that there were nearly 6,000 child soldiers involved with the Tamil Tigers during the Sri Lankan Civil War. Specifically, UNICEF stated that: "The average age of the Tigers' child soldiers is 16 years old" (Raman). Parents in the area have declared that children as young as eleven had been abducted from their homes and forcibly entered into the Tamil Tiger military. It was supposed that actually both sides of the civil war, both the LTTE and the Sri Lankans used the services of child soldiers although the Sri Lankan government has tried to bury their involvement. Since the end of the war, international agencies have investigated Sri Lanka's child soldiers to determine if anyone should be brought to trial for war crimes.

Ethnic cleansing was a part of the Tamil Tigers murderous endeavors. The belief of the group was that only Tamils belonged in their part of the world and anyone who did not belong to this ethnicity was less than human and thus deserving of death. It has been proven that the LTTE has used violence against both the Sinhalese and Muslim populations in Tamil Nadu in order to coerce them to vacate the area (Reddy). Those who do not do so willingly have faced torture, rape, and murder. The Muslims who lived in Sri Lanka were in the minority and were consequently minimized by both the Sri Lankan governments and were forcibly ostracized by the Tamils. One report states that:

The view of the country's Muslims, who are eight per cent of the population and see themselves as a separate ethnic group, have largely been ignored. Understanding their role in the conflict and addressing their political aspirations are vital if there is to be a lasting peace settlement (Reddy).

Even after the end of the Civil War, Muslims in the area have still been discouraged to become a part of the community. On one occasion, the LTTE actually opened fire on a mosque full of Muslims, murdering hundreds of men, women, and children. The Tamils are primarily Hindu and it is believed that religion was one of the primary motivators in the removal of Muslims from the area.

The LTTE were also found to have murdered prisoners of war, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention. In 1990, 774 Sri Lankan unarmed police officers were killed after their surrender to the Tamil Tigers (Killing). On another occasion, some 200 Sri Lankan soldiers were murdered after they were captured during the Battle of Pooneryn. Not only were the LTTE violating the laws of Sri Lanka, but the international regulation that were placed on the world by the United Nations and the Geneva Convention. Other war crimes of which the LTTE has been accused include: extortion, sea piracy, human trafficking, drug trafficking, passport forgery, money laundering, identity theft, and gunrunning (Rabasa 101). According to Shanaka Jayasekara, the LTTE even utilized the Tamils living outside of the area, those who had immigrated to Canada and England, as sources of illegal income (1). Gangs headed by Tamils would collect money through illegal enterprises and send the funds or supplies back to Sri Lanka. The Tamils in such regions have denied their involvement since the end of the war but Jayasekara and others have accumulated plenty of evidence to the contrary. Even supposedly above board organizations have been proven to be fronts for terrorist fundraising, such as the Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) in Great Britain. So adept at obtaining moneys was the LTTE by incorporating electronics distribution and media that they would be emulated by later terrorist groups, such as Al Qaeda. Not even fellow Tamil people were exempt from the terrorist actions of the Tamil Tigers. International human rights organizations, such as the UN, have claimed that the Tamil Tigers have murdered more than 8,000 Tamils who they labeled as race traitors.

The Sri Lankan Civil War was officially declared in 1983 and waged until 2009 when the Tamil Tigers were finally defeated. On July 23, 1983, the LTTE attacked a patrol of Sri Lankan soldiers at Thirunelveli, Jaffna. The LTTE killed thirteen servicemen. In retaliation, many Sri Lankans formed mobs and rioted in the streets, killing Tamils and destroying homes and businesses. It is impossible to know for certain how many Tamils were killed in the riots, but Sri Lankan officials estimate the number to be anywhere between 400 and 3,500 (Buerk). Police and the government did little to prevent the violence, except for establishing a curfew which did not go enforced in many communities. After the rioting had ended, there was a large increase in the number of Tamils who sided with the militant separatists. The LTTE quickly increased from a small group of dissidents to a large, well organized and ruthless militia (Harrison). From this point on, there would be all out war between the two opposing sides, culminating in the military defeat of the LTTE by the Sri Lankan government and the execution of LTTE leader Prabhakaran. It is estimated that some 40,000 civilians were killed during the war (Buncombe). Sri Lanka has stated that the Tamil Tigers have been defeated and, yet, several international organizations have postulated that the actions of the government towards the Tamils since the end of the Civil War have bred the same level of discord that started the problems in Sri Lanka in the first place.

Over the course of the nearly thirty year war, more than 70,000 people were killed, many of them innocent bystanders who were on neither side of the conflict (Buerk). If there is anything that can be learned from the Tamil Tigers it is that the best way to prevent a terrorist organization from cultivating in a given location is to treat people in as fair a manner as is at all possible. When groups are marginalized, like the Tamils were by the Sri Lankan government, then the frustration that the people feel will lead to them becoming more unified with people who are in their same social and political position (Anderson). Equality with the governmental system in power, however, will not satisfy all terrorist groups, particularly those who have an agenda which is less concrete than the Tamil Tigers. Under such circumstances, the government needs to ensure that not all members of the population are being identified with the terrorist group.

Following the 1983 attack, the Sri Lankan people equated all Tamils with the Tigers and their… [END OF PREVIEW]

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