The Tamil Tigers acknowledged Sunday that their leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, had been killed in the last few days of fighting as the Sri Lankan army crushed the last remnants of the L.T.T.E.
Originally, the Tamil website TamilNet reported that “the L.T.T.E. leadership is safe, and it will re-emerge when the right time comes.” However, overseas spokesman for the L.T.T.E Selvarasa Pathmanathan quietly admitted on TamilNet Sunday that Prabhakaran had been killed in the fighting.
Despite the arguable conclusion of the war, the Sri Lankan government has only emitted nebulous promises to the Tamil minority. Can the Sri Lankan government be trusted to grant the Tamils enough minority rights? If they fail to adequately provide genuine support and rights to the Tamils, the Sri Lankan government risks spawning another rebel movement.
Importantly, the Tamils appear to be leaderless. TamilNet has restricted itself to calls for international inquiry into the bombing of civilians after announcing the death of Prabhakaran, refraining from breaching the subject of who will next lead the Tigers.
There are members of the Tamil National Alliance, a pro-Tamil political party holding 23 seats in Sri Lanka’s Parliament, yet the Tamils have yet to rally around any of them. The spokesman for the Tamils who admitted Prabhakaran’s death is not in Sri Lanka, but elsewhere abroad.
If the tools of democracy are to prevent another violent civil war, as Sri Lanka hopes, then both the Sri Lankan government and the Tamils would benefit from genuine minority rights, negotiations, and representation in government. If no one can rally and speak for the Tamils, the outcome will remain amorphous.