Ilankai Tamil Sangam
Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA
Starting Over in Sri Lanka
by Los Angeles Times editorial, July 7, 2005
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, pioneers of suicide bombings, assassins of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and also fighters for independence in their territory of the island nation, complained they were being cut out of much of the $3 billion in foreign aid following the tsunami. The government denies any shortchanging.
Areas controlled by Sinhalese, the majority community, and Tamils both suffered. More than 30,000 Sri Lankans are thought to have been killed, an enormous toll but less than half the number slain in more than 20 years of fighting between Tamil rebels and the government.
Three years ago, Norway, home to Tamil fundraisers and thus trusted by the rebels, persuaded both sides to agree to a cease-fire (largely successful, though security forces blame the Tamil Tigers in Wednesday's shooting of two police officers). Last month, mediators brokered an agreement on sharing international aid. Opponents in the government argued it would let terrorists consolidate control of important areas and endanger Sri Lanka's national security.
Those fears are valid. But the government is running out of options. The Tigers' latest demand is government protection as they distribute aid in areas they control. In return, the rebels should resume talks with the government, mediated by the Norwegians if necessary, for a permanent cease-fire.
Posted July 8, 2005