EU Ban on Tamil Tigers Backfires, Spawns Growing Violence

Speaking of a “worst case scenario” coming true, Brigadier General Ulf Henricsson, the outgoing chief monitor of Sri Lanka's crumbling ceasefire criticized the European Union's decision to ban the Tamil Tiger rebels (LTTE) as a terrorist organization. Henricsson had written a memo to the EU before the May 2006 ban was imposed, warning that it would portend a rise in violence. Fighting has surged since December.

The EU ban was imposed to limit overseas LTTE fundraising, an action that was believed to force the Tigers to back down. The EU ban followed those including by India, in 1992, Washington six years later and Britain in 2001. But Henricsson criticized the ban, saying “it was a wrong decision because... the LTTE and the government have signed the ceasefire agreement as equal partners. If one is suddenly on a terrorist list it's not very difficult to see we're going to run into difficulties.” Henricsson also pointed out that the EU’s decision was seen by the Sri Lankan government as a “carte blanche” to take on the rebels, jettisoning compromise. The monitoring team composed of staff from Nordic countries is to be cut by nearly half to just 30 members.