|Friday, 11 January 2002|
The Oldest English Newspaper in
LTTE: legality and legitimacy
Proscription and de-proscription is about legality. The current conflict in the country goes far beyond legalities. Being a war for and against secession, it is a life and death struggle over the legitimacy of the Sri Lankan State itself.
Long before the legality of the LTTE and other Eelamist secessionist groups became an issue, the Eelamist movement had won legitimacy, first among its own ethnic community as the dominant political movement and, subsequently, in the eyes of the international community as a movement struggling against ethnic discrimination and for the equality and dignity of its community.
Over the years, however, the gradual turn towards negotiations and political reform has resulted in the Sri Lankan State regaining much of its legitimacy. Meanwhile, the Eelamist movement had suffered both military-strategic losses as well as a loss of legitimacy due to the LTTE's authoritarianism, aggressive military posture and intransigence.
The hard work of the previous Government in evolving an elaborate political reform package as well as the new Government's swift moves to defuse the conflict situation has helped maintain the Sri Lankan State's legitimacy and credentials.
The steps being taken by the new Government to defuse the conflict situation by relaxing the economic embargo and tight security restrictions are bold ones indeed. There is considerable risk being run in enabling the LTTE to fatten itself by raking off some of the supplies reaching Tiger-controlled territory. There is an equally great risk of the LTTE utilising the relaxed security blanket to infiltrate more clandestine strike units into the South and into State-held areas of the North-East.
This risk-taking by the Government, however, is critical to the retaining of the State's credibility and legitimacy. The credos it wins by these moves tremendously boost its negotiating strength.
Any conditional, partial or full de-proscription of the LTTE will only be an additional legal measure that will also add to Sri Lanka's credentials as a State ready to risk much in its search for peace.
Produced by Lake House