Defeat of the Tamil separatists

When CQ Global Researcher freelance reporter Brian Beary heard the momentous news about the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka this week, he sent us this message:

The recent surrender of the Tamil Tigers, the militant rebel group in Sri Lanka fighting for decades for an independent Tamil homeland, came as a bit of a shock to me. Early last year, when I was researching my article on separatist movements for the April 2008 Global Researcher, the Tigers still controlled large swathes of Sri Lankan territory and the conflict seemed deadlocked. Since then the Tigers have undergone a spectactular collapse and the Sri Lankan government is proclaiming outright military victory. Such an apparently clear-cut outcome to a separatist conflict is more the exception than the rule, I found, in charting the fate of about 25 active separatist movements across the globe, from Tibet to Kosovo to Somaliland to Bolivia.

The Sri Lankan conflict has been remarkable for its sheer bloodiness: It has the unenviable accolade of spawning that most terrifying of species, the suicide bomber. But contrary to a widespread perception, many separatist movements are peaceful -- Scotland, Quebec and Flanders being obvious examples. They only tend to turn violent when the country they are part of gives separatists no space to voice their opinions or is unwilling to contemplate granting them genuine political autonomy as an alternative to full independence. The Tamils are a case in point, as are the Uyghurs in China and the Kurds in Turkey. Military victory may be possible in such cases but it is unlikely to quell the aspirations of Tamils, Uyghurs and Kurds to preserve their culture and govern their affairs.

-- Brian Beary, freelance reporter