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Tigers beat
January 9, 2009 4:07 PM   Subscribe

Is this end for the Tamil Tigers? The Sri Lankan army have captured Elephant Pass, the latest in a string of victories against the guerrilla outfit. The army has pledged to avoid civilian casualties (which have caused India and other countries to intervene in the past) but there are still concerns with reports of artillery strikes on civilian centers in Tharmapuram [graphic], and serious human rights concerns. Though the military battle may be all but over the country is sure to face armed political struggle for some time.
posted by Artw (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I don't have much to add except for the fact that in the last week or so, I became aware of the fact that our local PBS station carries the half hour BBC world news segment every evening at six. So I started watching it, and almost invariably they would start the show with an extended segment on Gaza, followed by another segment on the battle between the Sri Lankan army and the Tamil Tigers. They did this several days in a row, tracking the progress of the army. Then at 6:30 the American news comes on and I switch to NBC and of course, there hasn't been a mention of it. I would guess that less than 10% of Americans even know where Sri Lanka is, let alone the fact that there is an insurgency currently being put down there. Thanks for the links.
posted by billysumday at 4:23 PM on January 9, 2009


Previously
posted by Artw at 4:25 PM on January 9, 2009


Actually chunking express' posts on the subject in general look pretty informative.
posted by Artw at 4:30 PM on January 9, 2009


That sucks. Now M.I.A. will be forced to rely on plain ol' Che Guevara for stock imagery of "revolutionaries" to further her commercial image.
posted by dhammond at 4:32 PM on January 9, 2009 [3 favorites]


Fashion forward.
posted by gman at 4:34 PM on January 9, 2009


That sucks. Now M.I.A. will be forced to rely on plain ol' Che Guevara for stock imagery of "revolutionaries" to further her commercial image.

Feh.
posted by Divine_Wino at 4:39 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Is this end for the Tamil Tigers?"

...just as long as Maya Arulpragasam continues to have a reason to make songs.

o/~ "Somesomesome-I-some I murderrrr... Some-I-some-I let goooo..."
posted by markkraft at 4:51 PM on January 9, 2009


I don't know, guerrilla wars can go on a looong time.
posted by wastelands at 4:53 PM on January 9, 2009


I would guess that less than 10% of Americans even know where Sri Lanka is, let alone the fact that there is an insurgency currently being put down there.

Hell, it looks like even MetaFilter can only relate to it via pop culture.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:54 PM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Didn't the Tamil Tigers invent the modern suicide bombing?
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:19 PM on January 9, 2009


Pope Guilty writes "Didn't the Tamil Tigers invent the modern suicide bombing?"

I don't think they beat the Kamikazes. Dying to Win is a great history of suicide for one's cause.
posted by mullingitover at 5:31 PM on January 9, 2009


It's hardly a clear-cut situaton, even if the Tamils have relied upon terrorist tactics.
posted by markkraft at 5:34 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


That sucks. Now M.I.A. will be forced to rely on plain ol' Che Guevara for stock imagery of "revolutionaries" to further her commercial image.

This is a little unfair. Her father was a founding member of a militant Tamil group and she addresses the conflict in her music. I think that gives her use of insurgency imagery some validity; she's directly involved, it doesn't seem a pet issue she's adopted for commercial reasons.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 5:37 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


I would guess that less than 10% of Americans even know where Sri Lanka is

I actually got married there a couple years back, and had to explain to a lot of people where to find it on the map.
posted by JaredSeth at 5:42 PM on January 9, 2009


That sucks. Now M.I.A. will be forced to rely on plain ol' Che Guevara for stock imagery of "revolutionaries" to further her commercial image.

I am willling to have an open and honest discussion of Che's history and shortcomings with university students and headshop owners when I don't attend football games at a stadium named after a mining company, walk around my pedestrian mall named after a real estate developer, and nothing is named after Ronald Regean. I'm all for tearing down icons, as long as we aren't just discussing icons of the left.

As for the Tamil Tigers, they aren't exactly icons of the underground - their support has some very mainstream elements. I wouldn't take M.I.A's public stance on the Tamil independence movement as a watershed moment in the conflict either...
posted by Deep Dish at 5:42 PM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm all for tearing down icons, as long as we aren't just discussing icons of the left.

I don't personally have a problem with icons per se, it's just that it seems incredibly tacky to use supposed political icons and imagery for commercial goods, like selling t-shirts. Or Che Guevara wrapping paper.
posted by dhammond at 5:49 PM on January 9, 2009


Didn't the Tamil Tigers invent the modern suicide bombing?

They invented the explosive belt. I linked to it above.
posted by gman at 5:51 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is a little unfair. Her father was a founding member of a militant Tamil group and she addresses the conflict in her music. I think that gives her use of insurgency imagery some validity; she's directly involved, it doesn't seem a pet issue she's adopted for commercial reasons.

Do yourself a favor and don't feed a troll.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:53 PM on January 9, 2009


Ultimately, the Tamil situation is about self-determination. If there was a recognized, monitored, enforced, widely accepted international standard for people to democratically choose self-rule, then the Tamil people would have it, and a lot fewer people would die in wars, or be called a terrorist for trying to fight a modern military power with the only tools available to them.

As an American, regardless of how I feel about slavery, I still must admit that there's something odious about how we, as a country, are supposed to celebrate the fact that 60% of the country effectively conquered the other 40% after they chose to leave the nation.
posted by markkraft at 5:58 PM on January 9, 2009


I recall the cusp of total victory for the Sri Lankan army every 6-10 years or so, I doubt this is anything different.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:52 PM on January 9, 2009


I am willling to have an open and honest discussion of Che's history and shortcomings with university students and headshop owners when I don't attend football games at a stadium named after a mining company, walk around my pedestrian mall named after a real estate developer, and nothing is named after Ronald Regean. I'm all for tearing down icons, as long as we aren't just discussing icons of the left.

Obviously, what you really need is a T-shirt of Che Guevara wearing a t-shirt of Che Guevara.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:21 PM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Is this end for the Tamil Tigers?

No, if they get a good middle reliever they still have a chance at the wild card spot.
posted by jonmc at 7:37 PM on January 9, 2009 [2 favorites]


Killinochi and Elephant's Pass _are_ massive; while LTTE will find it difficult to _occupy_ land anymore (there was a 'border' between SL-controlled areas and 'Tigerland' somewhere between Killinochi and the northernmost railhead, a town who's name escapes me), it still retains a capacity to wage guerilla warfare. Note that they just had suicide attack on a SL airforce camp near Colombo. The South Asia Terrorism Portal thinks attacks will shift to the east.

That is to say, not holding my breath unless there's a statistical decrease in attacks year-on-year in Sri Lanka.
posted by the cydonian at 8:23 PM on January 9, 2009


I'm all for tearing down icons, as long as we aren't just discussing icons of the left.

I like the Colbert Che t-shirt.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:01 PM on January 9, 2009


I really hate it when these revolutionary conflicts deteriorate until nothing is left but unending guerrilla warfare and suffering. The Tigers will never win. It was obvious from the start. However, they will succeed in reducing Sri Lanka to a violent third-world hellhole that makes life worse for everyone including the people they claim to serve.

I can understand why they founded the group, but they crossed the line a long time ago. This kind of thing is exactly why revolutionary groups have to reject terrorism as a tactic. Sure, you can't lose when any brainwashed follower can blow himself up to hurt the enemy, not unless every member of your organization is killed. However, you also can't win without total eradication of your enemy. Since you don't have control of your followers, you can't ever be trusted to honor a peace treaty - this makes it difficult or impossible to offer peace in exchange for concessions.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:08 PM on January 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


"...are supposed to celebrate the fact that 60% of the country effectively conquered the other 40% after they chose to leave the nation."

Do we celebrate that? I'm not sure. It's often struck me that the original Pledge of Allegiance is a reaction to the horror, the slaughter of that war.
posted by atchafalaya at 11:24 PM on January 9, 2009


This is one of those times when you get a chill down your spine, and realize exactly how important Martin Luther King was to the United States. Instead of endless war, we have endless struggle, with the Good Guys gaining ground, inch by inch, yard by yard, as the decades pass, the very morality and justness of their cause embodied by the means in which they fight for it - with protest, legal action, political campaigning and public education.

Now, instead of a world where a black man can be lynched for walking on a white woman's shadow, we have a black president, son of an African goat-farmer. This would not have been possible if we were locked in endless, suicidal guerrilla warfare over race and ethnicity.

Are we there yet, at the Promised Land of opportunity and justice for all? No. Are we a step closer this year than we were last year? Yes, oh, hell yes. And no-one needed to blow up a skyscraper downtown to get us here. Just a man with a dream, and people saw the beauty and rightness of that dream, and dreamed it for themselves.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:16 AM on January 10, 2009


That is some fine sarcasm there Slap*Happy. For a moment I thought you were being serious.
posted by dirty lies at 1:09 AM on January 10, 2009


I still must admit that there's something odious about how we, as a country, are supposed to celebrate the fact that 60% of the country effectively conquered the other 40% after they chose to leave the nation.

Excuse me, but who fired on Ft. Sumter? The south seceded, then decided to back that up with military action. They gambled that the north didn't have the political will for a protracted war, and lost the gamble.

Sorry -- derail. I know where Sri Lanka is, at least. I do wish people there would stop killing one another. Other than that, I don't have a grasp of the historical context of the conflict that would allow me to comment constructively.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:44 AM on January 10, 2009


"Excuse me, but who fired on Ft. Sumter? The south seceded, then decided to back that up with military action. They gambled that the north didn't have the political will for a protracted war, and lost the gamble."

Of course, Lincoln declared sesession "legally void" beforehand, refused the purchase of the fort system, refused to negotiate with the South at all because they were legally void, and sent warships to resupply the fort, which were in the waters of South Carolina.

In order to prevent the resupply of the fort, the state militia attacked, forcing the fort to surrender with no loss of Union lives.

After the fort fell, Lincoln then called for all the states to send 75,000 troops to build an army and recapture the forts and preserve the Union, and proceeded to blockade all Southern ports and seize their commerce. As a result of this action, Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Virginia, which had repeatedly rejected Confederate overtures, refused to send forces against their neighbors and declared their secession.

So, basically, Lincoln said "You're either with us or against us..." and those states which had voted AGAINST secession and didn't want to fight a war against their fellow Americans -- much less a war that would be fought across their own territory -- told him to shove it.

Ultimately, there was a war because of Lincoln chose war.
posted by markkraft at 5:51 AM on January 11, 2009


I should also note that it was Lincoln who overruled his own senior military advisor to launch an attack into Virginia, which ultimately made the standoff into a fullscale war of invasion.
posted by markkraft at 6:00 AM on January 11, 2009


Last Words from Journalist Murdered in Sri Lanka
posted by homunculus at 10:19 AM on January 12, 2009


Lasantha Wickrematunge thread here.
posted by Artw at 11:49 AM on January 12, 2009


Sri Lankan troops seize last Tiger town
posted by Artw at 9:37 AM on January 25, 2009


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