ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Remembrance of LTTE's Past

A Fleeting Moment in My Country: The Last Years of the LTTE De Facto State by N Malathy; New Delhi: Aakar Books, 2013; pp 176, Rs 225.

A resolution at the fifth conference of the Co-ordination Committee of Maoist Parties and Organisations of South Asia in 2011 noted that “the defeat of LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) is an immense loss to the struggling people of the world.” In her preface to N Malathy’s book, Indian academic Radha D’Souza claims “As one of the most significant movements since the end of the Vietnam War, the Tamil struggle merits deeper analysis” (p 22). The brutal crushing of the armed struggle by the Sri Lankan state, which was generously aided by global and regional powers, did elicit considerable attention from several actors. But their analysis was somewhat different from what D’Souza had hoped.

Influential accounts of the conflict in the so-called “post-LTTE” scenario can be broadly classified under three types—counter-insurgency narratives (Moorcraft 2013; Hashim 2013), human rights narratives (Weiss 2012; also, several reports by organisations like International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch, etc) and journalistic ventures (Harrison 2012; Subramanian 2014). The motivations of the authors of these narratives apart, there are a few thematic commonalities in their hypotheses—first, both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan state were responsible for war crimes; second, that the defeat of the LTTE signals the defeat of the Tamil Eelam project; finally, to avoid future conflict, the Sri Lankan state must guarantee minority rights, cultural rights, human rights to the Tamils. The Hobbesian argument is evident in all these works: despite its flaws, the Sri Lankan state is the sovereign that must resolve the problems of different groups. The discourse shifts from the Tamil demand for political power in an independent state to one of rights within Sri Lanka.

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