For many and for some, the revival of the conflict in Sri Lanaka harks a sad but unsurprising moment for those familiar with ideas of how nation-states are formed. For others who have travelled to
In the period after the 2002 Norweigian-brokered ceasefire agreement between the Sri Lanaka government and the LTTE rebels, I travelled to
During a bus journey to the histroical town of
One reason why the Sri Lankan conflict has dragged on for so long is that ethnic nationalism has become so embedded in the political thinking of the Sinhalese-majority and the Tamil-minority that their claims to statehood and nation-building cannot move beyond categories of ethnicity. To some extent, racialisation of politics in
As a consequence, ethnicity became and has become the only framework in the process of Sri Lankan nation-building. And in this framework, all other factors crucial to nation-building had to fit in. One such factor is how nation-building processes demarcate boundaries within and between its people. How should the line be drawn for Tamils living in Sinhalese regions and vice versa? When the pieces don't fit, the nation-building process becomes increasingly convoluted for both the Sinhalese and the Tamil national projects. In Mar 2004, led by Colonel Karuna, commander of the LTTE's Eastern province, the LTTE factionalised in front of the world. Why? According to Colonel Karuna, the LTTE cadres living in the East had been neglected, and significantly, there were no LTTE cadres from the East who could count among the ranks of the main LTTE leadership. Colonel Karuna evidently believed that the main LTTE Tamil leadership was neglecting the LTTE Tamils in the East. How should the line be dranw for Tamils living in the East and Tamils living in the North? According to media reports in Jul 2006, Colonel Karuna has formed his own group called the "Tamil Freedom Panthers" and he is very much a part of the current conflict.
In her book "On Violence", political philosopher Hannah Arendt (1969) observed that power and violence were two qualitatively distinct entities. She pointed out that it was not violence, but power that formed the essence of governments. Violence can destroy the old power, she said, but it can never create the authority to legitimate the new. In a sense, the LTTE movement is not so much a violence to legitimate the new, as it is a violence to 'restore' Tamil rights and institutions, something not so new. The very same rights and institutions which were there from the time of the British, and also the very same rights and institutions which were contested and fought over with the Sinhalese since the time of the Indian epic the Ramayana, which tells the story of the conquest of Lanka in 3000BC by Rama, an incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. Let us hope that the Sri Lankan government's willingness to resume peace negotiations resume hold of the tiger's gaze.
Straits Times Interactive -
A senior Tamil Tiger rebel official denied government claims that the rebels had offered to renew peace talks, saying negotiations were impossible amid increased military attacks and the most intense fighting in four years.
Fighting that started on Friday and continued over the weekend has cut off the main road connecting government-held regions of the peninsula with the mainland.
The Defence Ministry said 36 troops and 150 Tamil rebels have been killed in the fighting on the peninsula and near
The main airfield of Palaly has also been shut down, with private airlines ordered to halt flights there after the area took several artillery hits on Friday.'There is a daytime curfew in
The bulk of supplies and troops to
'The army pulled back from some of the defensive positions because of heavy artillery attacks,'' a military source said. 'Troops are now in the process of re-establishing the bunkers they lost on Friday.'
The pro-rebel Tamilnet.com website said the guerillas had breached military defences in the Muhamalai area at the southern entrance to the government-held area of
The Tigers said they launched the latest attacks in defence against a government military onslaught. The Defence Ministry, however, denied the charge and blamed the rebels for initiating the latest fighting.
The upsurge in violence came amid reports of an offer of talks by Tamil Tiger rebels. The government said it received a message from the Tigers through ceasefire monitors on Friday, hours before fighting erupted on the
But Seevarathnam Puleedevan, a senior rebel official has denied making any peace overtures. He demanded the government stop their military offensives to allow some 50,000 displaced people to return home before considering a return to peace talks.