At the present time, the Sri Lankan government forces are going forward steadily in capturing territory held by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in northern Sri Lanka. They have taken a string of important towns – Vis, Pooneryn, Paranthan, Kilinochchi, Elephant Pass etc. in the last few weeks.
The taking of Kilinochchi was the most important for the military as it had been the administrative centre of the de-facto state run by the LTTE for the whole of the north-east of the country up until 2007 and since then for the north.
It is difficult to believe that Kilinochchi fell into the hands of the Sri Lankan military so quickly – within a few days of the fall of Pooneryn and Paranthan. The ‘Tigers’ (LTTE) had waged a fierce battle with government forces a week before and was able to inflict heavy casualties. Nevertheless, when the Sri Lankan Army made another push for Kilinochchi with superior fire-power, the LTTE had withdrawn, making it a qhost town. The army entered the town without any resistance.
Soon thereafter, the army captured Elephant Pass, which is the gateway to the Jaffna peninsula, and thus managed to wrest control of the A 9 main highway linking the south to Jaffna. It is clamed that this was the first time after 23 years that the A 9 highway came completely under government control.
The capture of Kilinochchi is a major gain for the government of President Mahinda Rajapakse. Although he had been failing in every other field, this and other military gains have helped to boost his popularity. Rajapakse has since engaged himself in decimating any opposition to his government, even going to the extent of colluding in their physical elimination.
Future of struggle
The Tamil Tigers are facing a historic defeat at the hands of a Sinhalese military force which would have serious repercussions for the entire Tamil community. Their long-standing struggle, for the right to determine their own political destiny, seems to have been put off into the distant future. Although the Tigers will most likely to continue their armed attacks in the Northern jungle area, as they are doing in the east, their room for manoeuvre would be seriously restricted. On the other hand the Sri Lankan government would tighten its grip on the Tigers from every corner. Internationally the base and hold of the Tigers would start to dwindle among the Tamil diaspora.
The Tigers are themselves partly responsible for this debacle. They completely depended on their military power and did not believe in the people’s ability to fight for their rights. The Tigers could have utilised the cease-fire period between 2002 and 2004 to build people’s structures for a broader and democratic political platform which could express the aspirations of the Tamil people and initiated a dialogue with the southern political representatives. Tigers should have initiated their own round table, all- party conference in order to build such structures in any case. The LTTE will have to rethink about their strategies anew if they are to have any viable base among Tamil people.
Nevertheless, the struggle of the Tamil people for their national rights will continue to be there even though its intensity might go down for the time being. The Rajapakse government’s strategy seems to be to impose the existing provincial council system on the people in the North as they have done in the east. However it is very clear that the provincial council is nowhere near a solution for the unfulfilled national aspirations of the Tamils. We in the south have to fight hand in hand with the Tamil people to achieve their objectives. At the same time, we have to stress that Tamil people cannot win their rights within this decadent capitalist society; a socialist transformotion is the only way to achieve this. A united struggle of all the oppressed masses, linking southern working class people and poor peasants with the oppressed sections of the Tamil and Muslim people is the vital need of the hour.
By United Socialist Party reporters Sri Lanka