Sri Lanka - Light at the End of the Tunnel? Essay

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Sri Lanka - Light at the End of the Tunnel?

The Sunday, March 3, 2002 issue of “The New York Times” featured an article by Barbara Crossette, “The War on Terror Points a Country Toward Peace. The second sentence of this article stated: "A week ago, the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, one of Asia's most ruthless and totalitarian rebel movements, agreed to a firm cease-fire, with the promise of peace talks to come".[1] But are the LTTE planning on keeping their promises this time? Is Sri Lanka's 20 year old struggle finally coming to its end? Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

The history of the conflict extends into colonial times, when Sri Lanka was a formal colony of Great Britain. Even
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Different sources give different year dates for the formation of the LTTE, ranging between 1972 and 1976. On their own web-page, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, claim the reason for their formation to be: “…the failure of many years of peaceful demonstration by Tamil leaders in order to win their freedom from the successive Sinhala majority governments, which showed no concern for the Tamil grievances”.[5]

Having started as “a ragtag band of a few dozen guerrillas”[6], they have grown into, what “Encyclopedia Britannica” calls: “One of the world’s most sophisticated and tightly organized insurgent groups…”[7]; and “London Daily Telegraph” proclaims: “…are possibly the world’s most efficient revolutionary terror group”.[8] On many occasions now, the LTTE has defeated the Sri Lankan armed forces; they have a powerful Sea Tigers division; are the inventors and developers of the suicide jacket; and are believed to be financed by an extensive international diaspora. Their first large-scale terrorist act was the killing of 13 Sri Lankan soldiers in a surprise attack in July 1983, that came to mark the start of a civil war as the Sinhalese retaliated – “…mobs rampaged in the capital of Colombo, attacking Tamils and their businesses”.[9] The violence on the part of the LTTE escalated. The Sri Lankan government tried to intervene, but only aggravated the situation by increasing the

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