CPI (ML) Liberation: A crime against humanity, not a `famous victory', in Sri Lanka

By the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) Liberation

May 21, 2009 -- According to an announcement by the Sri Lankan government, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) chief Prabhakaran is dead, killed by the Lankan Army. The LTTE is yet to confirm the death, and some sections are questioning the veracity of the claim.

The exact manner of Prabhakaran's death is clouded in suspicion. The Sri Lankan government claims he was killed when the army opened fire on a van in which he and two top aides were travelling; initially, Sri Lankan officials said the van caught fire under rocket attack and Prabhakaran's body was badly burnt. Subsequently, they claimed to have found his body, dead from a bullet, dressed in fatigues and having identification papers on him, during a combing operation. There are many unanswered questions about the manner of the death: including the suspicion that he might have been captured alive by the Lankan army, or that he might have taken his life before capture.

The dubious account of the LTTE chief's death is only the latest in the saga of bloody massacre that the Sri Lankan government has unleashed on the Tamil people. The CPI (ML) Liberation condemns the Sri Lankan government’s killing of LTTE chief Prabhakaran, who had pursued the cause of Tamils' national self-determination struggle for over three decades, and the CPI (ML) Liberation firmly holds that the politics of repression, elimination and extermination of Tamil people and leaders cannot resolve the issue of Tamil national self-determination in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan government's “famous victory” is not a grand military triumph but a crime against humanity, particularly, against the Tamil masses in Sri Lanka. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is a despot who should be branded as a war criminal and tried for deliberate and ruthless violation of international conventions on war.

Rajapakse is trying to garner international support for his war, by claiming it to be a crusade against terrorism embodied in the LTTE. But the emergence of the LTTE is mainly a reaction to the Sri Lankan state-sponsored Sinhala chauvinism that has massacred thousands of Tamil people in the island nation. To miss this point is an injustice to the national self-determination struggle of Tamil people and their history.

We do share the democratic opinion that condemned the killing of Rajiv Gandhi on Indian soil and of other Sinhala and Tamil political leaders in Sri Lanka. We also have our share of criticism of the LTTE and Prabakaran. Prabakaran was a leader of the Tamil national self-determination struggle and not a communist or socialist as he claimed on some occasions. Prabakaran's excessive reliance on military might and intolerance to dissent without any long-term political strategy and diplomacy that could tilt the balance of forces in favour of his own ideal of Tamil Eelam was a major flaw. But all these things cannot justify the killings of tens of thousands of innocent Tamil masses by the Sri Lankan military offensive.

If the LTTE could be at the head of decades-old liberation struggle of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka in spite of its autocratic behaviour and intolerance to dissent, it is not merely because of its military might, which was reinforced by none other than the Indian government in '80s, but because of the objective aspirations of Tamil masses for emancipation from the clutches of majority Sinhala chauvinism.

Elimination of the LTTE cannot mean elimination of the Tamil people’s aspirations for liberation in Sri Lanka. Rhetoric like ``equal rights'' etc., being peddled by the Sri Lankan president, and also the abstract concept of ``devolution of powers'' being advocated by the Indian government and Tamil Nadu state Chief Minister Karunanidhi may not really satisfy the Tamil masses who have undergone the brunt of decades-long chauvinism, brutal oppression and genocide. Solutions can lie only in thoroughgoing autonomy for the Tamil people, negotiated in the backdrop of a genuine end to the politics of Sinhala chauvinism. To imagine that a solution would be possible in the backdrop of a bloody massacre and chauvinistic triumphalism ``celebrating'' the decimation of the Tamil movement is delusional.

Civil liberty and Tamil activists protesting against the Indian army convoys suspected of supplying arms to the Lankan army have been arrested and jailed in Coimbatore, thus muzzling dissent even in India. This incident also disproves the Indian claim of no involvement in the war against Tamils in Sri Lanka. It is true that there was no India Peace Keeping Force involved in the war this time but supplying arms even from the point of view of promoting business interests is against the Geneva Convention.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi is in Delhi busy bargaining for ministerial berths for his family in the new central government when the entire state of Tamil Nadu is burning and mourning the death of Prabakaran. Neither the Karunanidhi’s election stunt of fasting nor the presence of dozens of Tamil ministers of various parties in the central government could stop the war. In fact, all bourgeois parties in Tamil Nadu, including DMK, PMK and AIADMK, have only played politics on the corpse of thousands of Tamil masses in Sri Lanka in order to promote their own electoral prospects. Jayalalitha’s election promise of ``Separate Tamil Eelam'' when Tamil people were on the run to save their lives was the biggest ever fraud on the people of Tamil Nadu.

As long as the fundamental issues involved with the aspirations of Tamil masses in Sri Lanka are not politically resolved, military elimination of LTTE and Prabakaran may only be a beginning of another round of newer forms of struggle for national self-determination of Tamil people in Sri Lanka. Everything has not come to an end with the elimination of LTTE, but rather a fresh chapter has only begun.

’twas a famous victory...

...“With fire and sword the country round

Was wasted far and wide,

And many a childing mother then,

And new-born baby, died;

But things like that, you know, must be

At every famous victory.

“They say it was a shocking sight

After the field was won;

For many thousand bodies here

Lay rotting in the sun;

But things like that, you know, must be

After a famous victory.

...“Great praise the Duke of Marlboro’ won,

And our good Prince Eugene.”

“Why, ‘twas a very wicked thing!”

Said little Wilhelmine.

“Nay, nay, my little girl,” quoth he;

“It was a famous victory.

“And everybody praised the Duke

Who this great fight did win.”

“But what good came of it at last?”

Quoth little Peterkin.

“Why, that I cannot tell,” said he;

“But ‘twas a famous victory.”

From ``The Battle of Blenheim'', by Robert Southey.

[This article first appeared in the May 19-25 edition of ML Update, weekly publication of the CPI (ML) Liberation.]