The long-awaited ban
That the ban imposed on the LTTE was long in coming in
Sri Lanka, home to the terror outfit, where it waged war for 30
years, while 30 other countries had already proscribed the
organisation, may have been perplexing to many.
But it could well be argued that a domestic ban at the outset
would have shut the door altogether on resolving issues amicably
with a segment which after all are part and parcel of the Sri
All leaders including President Mahinda Rajapaksa kept this
option open with the fervent hope of reaching a settlement at a
domestic level.There was international pressure too to go for
talks and aid made contingent on a negotiated settlement.
The outfit was initially banned in 1998 following the attack
on the Sri Dalada Maligawa but this was lifted with the signing
of the CFA in 2001 as a condition for the LTTE to participate in
Much water had flown under the bridge since then. From the
outset it was clear that the LTTE was only interested in buying
time while pretending to negotiate. It's time buying tactics and
deception was evident from the second round of Peace talks in
Bangkok in 2002, where LTTE spokesman Anton Balasingham swore to
forgo its demand for an Interim adminstration only to renege on
it even before the ink was dried on the document.
Similarly it left the negotiating table at the last Peace
confab in Geneva in 2006 protesting against the composition of
the Lankan delegation. Therefore the road of the so called peace
talks from Thimpu to Bangkok to Geneva was littered with acts of
deceit and duplicity on the part of the LTTE.
Yet President Mahinda Rajapaksa stopped short of banning the
LTTE in the fervent hope it would renounce violence and enter
negotiations. He even opened the doors to facilitate this
process through the APRC, even though aware of the poor track
record of the outfit.
Even at the height of conflict after Mavil Aru the President
resisted calls to ban the organisation keeping this window of
opportunity open. But it was clear that time was running out for
the Tigers and it was matter of time before it was banned.
When it came eventually it was more or less a fait accompli.
This is because the Government had exhausted all avenues to get
the organisation to lay down arms and enter talks. The refusal
of the Tigers to heed the President's appeal to release the
civilians hostage by it was the final straw that broke the
It is not as if the LTTE had not used civilians as a human
shield before. But that was a time when the offensive was
nowhere near or as intense as it is now. The military juggernaut
is now rolling inexorable to conquer the remaining vestiges of
LTTE presence and the cornered Tiger no doubt will use every
trick at its disposal to hold out against the Forces. In the
last throw of the dice it is doubtful that it will spare much
thought for the civilian population whom it claims to represent.
That is why the President realising the gravity of situation
made this appeal with the hope that a thereat of a ban would
make the LTTE relent. The President had given the outfit several
ultimatums to comply with his request. The negative response of
the Tigers has demonstrated the LTTE's brutal mindset and shown
the world that safety of civilians was of no consequence to it.
The ban would now bring Sri Lanka on par with the rest of the
countries who have proscribed the Tigers and would no doubt add
a string to the bow of the current battle against the
outfit.This will also assist in the unified action that is
proposed, to fight terrorism in the wake of the recent Mumbai
As Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said Sri Lanka has 'formally
joined the world order in effectively contributing to dismantle
the infrastructure of terrorism.This will now pave the way for
effective joint intelligence gathering particularly with India.
The ban would now bring in extra legal provisions to deal
with those who aid and abet the organisation over and above the
emergency laws or the Prevention of Terrorism Act. For instance
any organisation or individual convicted of helping the banned
LTTE could face upto 20 years imprisonment.The ban would also
now bring in new focus on Sri Lanka by countries fighting the
scourge of terrorism.It could also enhance military assistance
to the country and put additional pressure on LTTE fronts
operating in Western capitals.The ban should also now make local
politicians promoting the LTTE cause in Tamil Nadu and the West
to think twice since they would come under the scope of the new
laws inherent in such a ban.
The proscription of the LTTE would remove the label attached
to it as freedom fighters and firmly entrench itself in the roll
call of international terrorist outfits.The Government should
now make maximum use of the ban to rally international support
to dismantle the global terror network of the LTTE.
Our envoys should be activated to redouble efforts to drive
home the implications of the ban in their host countries.
President Rajapaksa it could be said has ably consolidated the
victories on the military fronts by this astute move to ban the
LTTE which no doubt will isolate the outfit even further on the
international front. Yet he has allowed it a window of
opportunity to enter talks providing it agrees to the
pre-conditions of laying down arms and renounce its military
campaign. So all is not lost for the LTTE if it agrees to the