>Tiger, Endangered Or Extinct?

>After more than 25 years of horrific violence that left a blood trace of unimaginable pain and suffering the srilankan civil war has officially come to a close. The war between the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, more commonly referred by their acronym – LTTE or just Tigers, and the Srilankan military has been announced to be over by the island nation’s government and military leaders alike. With the pictures of the LTTE’s iconic leader, V Prabhakaran shown shot while attempting to flee the war zone, traveling around the news and internet media, one has no idea how to react, but still cant stay untouched.
Like all rebels, jihadists and freedom fighters, LTTE was born out of the atrocities inflicted upon their kind. Tamils, the largest ethnic minority in Srilanka and also one’s own race, were oppressed by the predominantly Sinhalese authorities, civil and military for long since the republic was formed out of the post WWII British Colony. As I surfed in the World Wide Web to get some information on the beginnings of this rebel outfit, I quickly realized that very least is out there that can be termed unbiased. Some of the most humiliating and disgraceful acts were caused to the Tamils and the opposition was no less gory in its retaliation. There is conflict in who started first, but it it seems to be clear that the two sides never really saw each other as groups that can work together. LTTE wanted a separate Tamil State with autonomous rule, while Srilanka claimed complete sovereignty over the island. Seems like the only outcome of their long and bitter relationship, for the most part, was the never ending death toll.
The LTTE had strong support, both financially and politically from expatriates of same race in Europe and Canada and sympathizers from neighboring India from north. It started out as a relatively small group in 1983, one among many factions that were created against the Sinhalese oppressors, but the LTTE soon rose to become one of the most recognized terrorist organizations in south-east Asia with its veins running well into Western Europe and Canada. At its peak, the LTTE effectively controlled a third of Srilanka (north and east) densely populated by Tamils and Sinhalese government and military had all but pushed into a bystander role. Prabhakaran, who was sole commander, ruled the region with his own version of taxes, court and law managing health care and transportation.
If there was one thing missing, it was peace. Both sides took turns in inflicting as much human and material losses to each other often attacking civilians in airport, trains official buildings. The Tigers pioneered and used to deadly effect the suicide bombers and the civil war became so critical, so much so that at one point even the UN and NATO briefly addressed the crisis (supposed to be sarcastic). When the Tigers assassinated The Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, support for them dropped considerably from India, and a brief peace process broke in 2004 after hardliner Mahinda Rajapaksa took office of Srilankan Prime Minister. A post 9/11 Western countries seeing terrorism as a serious threat, intermittent attacks by the army, dwindling finances and international pressure started to erode the Tigers’ control of their land and a major sustained offensive by the Srilankan forces in the past couple of years drastically brought down the LTTE.
It is common for the Tigers to use civilians as human shields against army attacks and also uses child soldiers. With the army’s unrelenting offense and indiscriminate shelling of LTTE strong holds, it lead to tens of thousands of men, women and children killed and many more mutilated. The Tigers proposed a unilateral cease fire, out of desperation, but it seemed like the Government was bent on wiping out the rebels at any cost. In the past couple of weeks reports of complete elimination of the Tigers kept appearing in various tabloids and the final word came on May 19 2009.
The Military commander of the Srilankan Armed Forces declared that they had ambushed a convoy which carried the LTTE Leader himself and about 10 of his top officials and cross fire that ensued killed them all. And with that, after more than 25 years constant bombardment, ears in the emerald island are listening to silence.
One cannot help but imagine that silence to be anything but sickening to the stomach, because it is the silence of death. When Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism, major relations of Srilanka, all preach love and peace and go in lengths about troubled souls, it’s horrific to think about all the souls of small children, working fathers, loving husbands, true brother and the beautiful and ever loving mothers, sisters and daughters screaming in agony throughout the land that is now silent. It is hard for such souls to find peace. Its even harder for those who survived and will live to tell the stories.
One hopes this is not the end for this part of the story. Hatred does not die on its own. The seeds of hatred planted 25 years ago had grown into this massive tree of poison ever spreading its venom, and is now brought down, only momentarily. And its in the hands of the administrators and the Tiger sympathizers to make sure that the remnants of that poisons is replaced with hope. The damage caused by this long running civil war had taken its toll on the country in every which way possible and the healing process would be long and potentially painful. But its extremely important not to repeat history in this case. Both sides should identify and acknowledge the rights of a sovereign republic and its free citizen. Both sides should accept the mistakes done in the past and look to build a future that is built on mutual respect and tolerance towards diverse outlook healthy dissent. If Prabhakaran is gone, some one else will take his place to unite the Tamils. Its pertinent that the unite towards c0existence rather than polarization.
And hopefully, the Tiger will be remembered for the spirit of its heart rather than cruelty of its claws.