The European Court of Justice will rule on Thursday (16 October) whether European Union leaders were right to include the LTTE – a Sri Lankan nationalist militant organisation – on a list of terrorist organisations subject to an asset freeze.
In its 2006 decision, EU leaders noted a number of attacks carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) during their conflict with the Sri Lankan Government. But the Tigers have contested their inclusion on the list, arguing that their struggle was an “internal armed conflict” rather than acts of terrorism.
The Tigers waged a 25-year civil war to create a separate homeland for Sri Lanka’s minority Tamils, many of whom have complained of discrimination by governments led by the Sinhalese ethnic majority since independence from Britain in 1948.
They conceded defeat on 17 May 2009, after a relentless Sri Lankan military offensive that retook the 15,000 sq km the rebels ran as a separate state.
The cataclysmic end to the war came after the Government rejected calls for a truce to protect civilians, and the Tigers refused to surrender and free 50,000-100,000 people the United Nations and others said they were holding as human shields.
Rights groups had accused the Tigers of forcibly conscripting Tamil refugees in the war zone as fighters or labourers. The Tigers denied that.
The news of the capitulation was met with dancing and fireworks on the streets of the capital, Colombo.