Tamil Tigers: terrorists or freedom fighters?
Five Sri Lankan men go on trial tomorrow in The Hague accused of supporting the separatist Tamil Tigers, or LTTE. But their possible convictions are the tip of the iceberg in a case which will be interpreted in Sri Lanka as a decision on who is right and wrong in the country’s 30 year civil war.
As a bloody 3-decade war raged in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, significant parts of the Tamil diaspora spread throughout the world kept themselves busy in supporting roles, one of the most important of which for the Tamil leadership was fund-raising. Only with millions of dollars flowing in from such groups could the LTTE keep itself adequately armed to fight Sri Lanka’s state military.
A Dutch police-investigation team monitored Tamil meetings in The Netherlands. In its subsequent report, entitled ‘Operation Koninck’, it describes how certain Tamils raised funds for their ‘ultimate war’ with its goal of a free Tamil state in Sri Lanka known as Tamil Eelam. This remains no more than a dream following the death of the LTTE’s leader Villupilai Prabhakaran and the end of the military struggle in the Spring of 2009. Operation Koninck eventually led to the arrest of several Dutch Tamils, five of whom are now being prosecuted in a specialist war crimes chamber in The Hague.