LTTE, De-proscription

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Yesterday this newspaper, quoting Cabinet spokesman Bandula Ginawardene, said that the ban lifted on several Tamil Diaspora groups was lifted as a result of “observation” and “careful study” over a continuous period of time.

The JVP insurrection of 29 July 1987-13 November 1989 which was responsible for 50,000 deaths in the ‘South’, however, saw the Government lifting its proscription in only four years later in 1993, which proscription was previously in force since 1983.

The previous ban on the Tamil Diaspora group was as a result of their alleged alignment with the LTTE, which the Government annihilated more than 13 years ago on 18 May 2009 with the killing of its leader Velupillai Prabhakaran, similar to the annihilation of the militancy of the JVP nearly 33 years ago after the killing of its founder leader Rohana Wijeweera on 13 November 1989.

Four years after Wijeweera’s killing, the Government lifted the JVP ban, but though Prabhakaran was killed more than thrice that time period 13 years ago, the LTTE  ban continues.

The LTTE is also banned in India, Malaysia, USA, Canada, UK, Australia and the European Union region, according to the New Delhi based South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP). JVP however has not been proscribed in any country, but it may be conjectured that no sooner India lifts the LTTE ban, the rest of the world, with the exception of Sri Lanka, perhaps, may also lift their LTTE ban.

The continued ban on the LTTE in India, similar to that of Sri Lanka’s, may be political. In India, it may be due to the killing of Premier Rajiv Gandhi in May 1991, which proscription took place almost immediately after, but in the case of Sri Lanka, the ban may be continued to ‘placate’ the island’s 70 per cent Sinhala Buddhist population.

Gandhi was the son of Premier Indira Gandhi and the grandson of India’s founder Premier Jawaharlal Nehru. Besides, the Congress Party of India (Indian National Congress (INC)) is one of two largest political parties in India, the other being the ruling BJP. Therefore, the lifting the LTTE ban by India, though Rajiv was killed more than 31 years ago, may inflame India’s 1.38 billion population; the second largest after China. In the 1960s, certain Tamil Nadu politicos agitated for separatism from India.

In the UK, the IRA is still a banned organisation. A UK based journal titled ‘Terrorism and Political Violence’,  said, “In Northern Ireland (NI), there are allegedly thousands of members of proscribed organisations, particularly in the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) and the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), but the majority of members are not actively pursued by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) because the vast majority are not involved with any terrorist activity.”

That situation is similar to Sri Lanka, where no action is being taken against ex-LTTE cadres, either because they have been rehabilitated or have eschewed violence.

The Journal further said, “There are currently 14 proscribed terrorist organisations in NI because of the Troubles (1968–1998) and the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) signed in 1998 and accepted by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) from the Republicans and the main loyalist groups, the UDA and UVF. Only those linked to dissident republican groups who objected to the GFA by announcing their presence after the Omagh bombing in 1998 can be now said to be actively ‘concerned in terrorism’ as defined under the ‘Terrorism Act 2000’.

“The remainder, particularly the UVF and the UDA, currently have some active criminal elements but offer no greater threat to peace and stability to NI than the organised crime gangs of London, Manchester or Glasgow do to their cities, indeed in some cases far less,” it said.

Today, most of the youth in NI have no interest in paramilitary organisations or conflict, the Journal further said, similar to Sri Lanka. “De-proscription in NI is worth trying because if an organisation successfully de-proscribes and reengages in terrorism or intensifies its violence within its community, the organisation can be proscribed again as the UVF were in 1975,” the journal said in conclusion.