Sri Lanka: Tamil Insurgents — Marxism Versus Nationalism

( February 11, 2017, Boston — Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) “Ethnic nationalism, in our view, remains the driving force of the insurgency. Deep-seated anti-Sinhalese sentiment is common to all Tamil insurgent groups, easily transferable to new recruits and more useful to insurgent leaders as a motivating force than Marxist ideology,” a declassified CIA Intelligence memorandum observed.

“The insurgents argue the establishment of an independent Tamil state is the only way to remove the political, economic and cultural dominance of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka.  During two rounds of Indian-brokered talks with the government last summer, insurgent leaders of the ENLF and PLOTE were able to agree only on extreme Tamil nationalist demands including Tamil self-determination and recognition of traditional Tamil homelands.  Insurgent pamphlets and books repeat slogans of Tamil nationalism and anti-Sinhalese rhetoric and insurgent radio broadcasts in Sri Lanka usually highlight alleged atrocities by Sinhalese soldiers against Tamil civilians. They frequently accuse the Sinhalese government of oppression against the “Tamil Nation”.

However, “Sri Lanka hopes to win US military and diplomatic support by claiming the Tamil insurgency has become increasingly dominated by Marxism.  Although all major insurgent organizations claim allegiance to Marxism, the most active groups are motivated principally by ethnic rivalry with the majority Sinhalese,” a declassified CIA Intelligence memorandum further observed.

According to the Intelligence memorandum. “These groups have little in the way of a political agenda other than gaining Colombo’s recognition of a traditional Tamil homeland and a Tamil right to self-determination. Moreover, they are divided by leadership rivalries and caste distinctions

“Over the longer term, however, the Marxist threat to Sri Lanka is likely to grow.  The People’s Liberation Organization of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE)–the largest and best­ financed of the insurgent groups but currently not one of the most active–wants to provoke an island-wide revolution in Sri Lanka as well as establish a Marxist Tamil state. Unlike the predominantly nationalist groups which pose the most immediate threat to the government, PLOTE has refrained from anti-government attacks.Instead, it is conserving its resources for a prolonged struggle and is working to establish ideological and military links to radical Sinhalese Marxists,” CIA monitored.

“PLOTE is likely to pursue its goals whether or not there is a negotiated settlement offering Tamils limited autonomy in the near term.   It will further strengthen ties with Sinhalese Marxists in southern Sri Lanka and will continue to husband its resources to gain dominance over the other insurgent groups,” CIA further added.

A copy of the Intelligence memorandum is reproduced below; 

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