Today I attended the peaceful demonstration outside the Victorian State Parliment to show my support for banning of the LTTE from obtaining funds and support which in turn go to funding terrorist activities (WARNING: Graphical content!) back in my motherland, Sri Lanka. They also need to stop using innocent civilians as human-shields in their last ditch efforts to hold onto a war they are losing – and that tamils are turning away from.
Whilst it took until the events of S11 for the rest of the world to wake-up to terrorism and change the way we live, think and go about our business, the people of Sri Lanka have been adapting to such (and far worse) activities on a daily basis for the past few decades. The Tamil Tigers perfected the art of suicide bombing (Bra bombs anyone?) and gave inspiration for countless other organisations to carry out mass killings and grave human rights violations. Just a little bit of trivia from an article on The Counter Terrorism Blog by Zachary Abuza:
Founded in May 1976, by Villupilai Prabhakaran, the Tamil Tigers – formerly the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) – grew from being a several thousand man guerilla force to being at its height a conventional force with some 10,000 combatants. Though their military collapse since mid 2006, has been surprisingly swift, one cannot forget that for years, they fought the Sri Lankan military to a standstill and controlled a significant amount of territory. Their nearly forty-year struggle is highlighted by firsts and superlatives:
- The LTTE have perpetrated more suicide bombings than Hamas and Hezbollah combined.
- The LTTE’s suicide vest design has been copied by nearly a dozen organizations.
- The LTTE is an equal opportunity employer: the LTTE has used female bombers in a more than 3-2 ratio. The LTTE fields a conventional women’s corp.
- The LTTE has used suicide bombing as a weapon of choice in terms of targeted assassination, including the 1991 assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the near assassination of Sri Lankan President Kumaratanga in 1999. The LTTE assassinated nearly 50 prominent moderate Tamil leaders, and is estimated to have killed thousands of moderate and anti-LTTE Tamils.
- The LTTE has used suicide frogman and other special operatives to penetrate far behind enemy lines.
- The LTTE targeted pillars of the Sri Lankan economy, including bombings of the Central Bank in 1996 and Columbo’s World Trade Center in 1997. In 2001, LTTE operatives penetrated the international airport and destroyed three jetliners, half of Airlanka’s fleet, in addition to 23 military aircraft.
- The LTTE was the first organization to post martyrs’ posters for the “Black Tigers” their suicide corp.
- The LTTE is the first sub state actor to use suicide naval vessels. There have been over 40 suicide naval attacks since June 1990, seven years before the USS Cole attack.
- The LTTE had a full-fledged navy, and many of their craft were indigenously designed and built. Sri Lankan forces recently captured a submarine in its final stages of construction.
- The LTTE was one of only two terrorist organizations to use a WMD (the other being Aom Shinrikyo). The Tigers used a chlorine gas bomb against Sri Lankan forces in 1990.
- The LTTE became the first sub-state actor to acquire an air force. Though used in desperation over the weekend, in two attempted “kamikaze” attacks, the LTTE has used their Czech trainers 9 times since March 2007 Sri Lankan forces captured six airfields in LTTE territory.
While their innovations on the battlefield were remarkable, it is nothing in terms of their innovations in finance and logistics. In short, the LTTE wrote the book on terrorist financing. Originally supported by India, the Tigers, turned on their patron in 1987, and since pursued a policy of self-reliance. The “Snow Tigers” under the leadership Tharmalingham Shunmugham aka Kumaran Pathmanathan (KP), have funded themselves through legal and extralegal means and have procurement operatives based in around the world.
The LTTE have used arms dealers in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Lebanon, Egypt and Cyprus; shopped black markets in former war zones – Cambodia (Thailand), Afghanistan, Mozambique and the former Yugoslavia; and shopped the countries of the former Soviet bloc – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Slovakia and Kazakstan, as well as North Korea and China. In one famed case, China North Industries Corp (Norinco) sold the LTTE two consignments of assault rifles, light artillery, rockets and ammunition, each large enough to fill a 230-foot cargo ship. The purchases in September 2003 and October 2004 were arranged through a middleman and certified with North Korean “end user” documents. The Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksapersonally appealed to Chinese leaders in Beijing in February 2007 to halt a third consignment. One senior procurement officer arrested had a laptop with spreadsheets detailing more than $13 million in payments in the summer of 2006 for military equipment, including anti-aircraft guns and 100 tons of high explosives. His passport showed more than 100 trips in the past five years to countries such as China, Kenya.
Now that the war has intensified and the press has renewed their interest in the situation in Sri Lanka, its important to ensure that The Tamil Tigers, as an organisation, does not promote propaganda to sway the public opinion to the dark side. Whether we’re Tamil, Sinhalese, Burger or Muslim, we’re all Sri Lankan. One Nation. (not related to Pauline Hanson)
Here are some pictures uploaded to Flickr from todays demonstration:
All these were uploaded without modifications – asside from cropping