The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam were founded in 1976 with the aim of championing for the Tamil people of Sri Lanka-Hindus who comprise about 18% of the total population against the Buddhist Sinhalese who make up the majority of the population (Rabasa, pp. 68). To fight for the formation of an independent state curved out from Sri Lanka, they have repeatedly waged war using guerrilla, conventional, and terrorist tactics and have attacked military, government and civilian targets.
One major unit that specializes in terrorist attacks is the Black Tigers who often commit suicide during such attacks. The Irish Republican Army (IRA) is a terrorist organization founded in the year 1916 and has conducted many violent and terrorism campaigns against the British authorities in the Northern Ireland for a long time since 1916 . The current operations of the army is based on a kind of rules of war in which for instance warnings of an imminent bomb attack are provided followed by a certain code that acts as a verification of the legitimacy of the warnings.
The bombings have been targeted to disrupt the lives of British people so that the organization can continue obtaining financial support from associate countries though this is anticipated to change. The range of bombs used by the terrorists include small devices made from high explosives which have been provided by foreign associates or stolen and large improvised bombs based on Ammonium . A renewed ceasefire declared in 1997 by the IRA was far from being comprehensive since it only refrained them from attacking the security forces and therefore the IRA continued to launch brutal attacks against Roman Catholics .
Different strategies have therefore been employed to combat terrorism both in Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland. These strategies exhibit some differences as well as a number of similarities. This paper will compare and contrast these strategies adopted by the authorities to suppress acts of terrorism propagated by the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and the IRA in Northern Ireland. The strategies adopted by the authorities to suppress acts of terrorism in Sri Lanka and Northern Ireland differ on several facets.
Firstly, the authorities in Sri Lanka have predominantly used military force to combat the violent acts propagated by Tamil Tiger rebels. In contrast, the British government have applied extensive legislative measures to suppress the terrorist organization, the Ireland Republican Army in Northern Ireland. There are several examples of legislation by the British government. It is worth noting that since its formation, Northern Ireland has been in a state of emergency and the Civil Authorities Act of 1922 was passed only a year after its partition .
In the 1970s the British government perceived an imminent possibility of the violence in Northern Ireland spiraling out of control and therefore it expeditiously introduced the Northern Ireland Emergency Provisions Act (EPA) in 1973 . This Act was a milestone since it paved way for a number of new measures including increased power for the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and Army to arrest any terrorism suspect.
In addition, the Act allowed the formation of non-jury courts specially for conducting trials on those accused of terrorism and also it provided for the prohibition of all terrorist organizations. As another and more advanced measure to suppress acts of terrorism, the British Parliament quickly passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA) in 1974 after the deadly Birmingham pub bombings by the IRA . The PTA also served to extend the measures undertaken by the EPA throughout the UK by the virtue of introducing more powers with regard to interrogation and detention.
These two major Acts had extreme provisions and therefore they were originally designed to be temporary though the government fully understood the dynamic nature of terrorism and therefore was committed to renew them until they were eventually replaced by more permanent provisions of the Terrorism Act of 2000 . The effectiveness of such legislation can be seen particularly from the implementation of Northern Ireland Emergency Provisions Act in 1973 which gave the military power to arrest and detain suspects temporarily and also search homes in the absence of warrants.
The culmination of such a move was that hundreds of people were detained and more than 250,000 homes searched during which thousands of hidden weapons were discovered and seized by the military . These legislation paved way for a number of methods in curbing terrorism in Northern Ireland. These methods include criminalisation, internment without trial, Diplock courts and the supergrass system in which the policies of each focus on punishing those accused of crimes related to terrorism with unwanted or unforeseen effects .
Therefore, the legislative measures adopted by the British government to combat Ireland Republican Army’s terrorist actions forced it to alter its own legislative avenue to make it commensurate with the political violence in the Northern Ireland by both taking extreme steps and first making their provisions temporary. In contrast to such legislative approaches to ending terrorism, the government of Sri Lanka can be said to have mostly applied military force combined with very few harsh legislative measures when compared to those adopted against IRA by British government.
It is important to remember that when it attained its independence in 1948, Sri Lanka was not prepared to deal with even minor protests leave alone such large terrorist groups as Tamil Tigers which developed gradually over time. This was due to the small number of police and military in addition to inadequate equipment and lack of a firm organizational structure. There are several incidences which demonstrate that the government has employed force in terms of military action as well as legislation as major strategies against the Tamil rebels.
In 1977, before a month was over after the UNP government coming to power, an army was sent to wipe out all the people who were organizing a movement to demand for a separate Tamil state . This was purposed to stop the secessionists before the movement became a threat to the government. A similar attack in August 1977 resulted in hundreds of Tamils being killed and thousands left homeless. This was done through the use of force by the police and the military.
An example of a legislation against terrorism is the Prevention of Terrorism Act which was passed in 1979 and whose provisions included confessions made out of torture, detention without trial, and conducting searches without warrants . In addition, the Act made crimes such as kidnapping, murder, and abduction punishable by life imprisonment. This legislative approach can however be compared to the one used in Northern Ireland by the British government though it has passed many legislation compared to the situation in Sri Lanka with regard to counter-terrorism.
In the mid 1981, another military-initiated attack against the Tamils occurred which left the group devastated. A major preventive war in 1983 was waged against Tamils by the government to crash them completely following a shift in the balance of power between the Tamils who were secessionists, and the Sri Lankan government . This pogrom had a lot of effects compared to the previous incidences of military action since it was accompanied with the use of violent attacks by organized mob groups which left over 3,000 Tamils brutally killed and 150,000 left homeless .
These events are examples which demonstrate the difference in the way the two governments have dealt with terrorism propagated by the two groups. Another major contrast in the strategies to combat the activities of both the Tamil Tigers and the Ireland Republican Army is that the British government in the Northern Ireland has extensively applied contingency measures which include legislation aimed at dealing with biological, chemical or radiological attacks .
In Sri Lanka, such measures have hardly been used and instead, legislation to curb terrorism by the Tamil Tigers have been predominantly those that give the military more power and authority to use force. However, a similar case applies in Northern Ireland with regard to use of harsh tactics to arrest and suppress the members of the Ireland Republican Army. The major measure used between 1971 and 1975 was that of using torture during interrogation of suspects who had been subjected to internment without trial .
The measure was particularly applied on suspects whom the authorities believed they were potential sources of valuable information which could possibly enable them apprehend more suspects including the masterminds of the terrorist attacks by the IRA. The in depth interrogation as an example of using force on suspects entailed five main techniques including exposure of the terror suspects to a monotonous and continuous loud voice with the head covered with a black hood and being forced by means of a button to stand for about six hours at a time against a wall, hands raised above the head with the legs apart for a period of several days.
The suspects were also subjected to severe deprivation of food and water and also sleep was denied. However, the European Commission on Human Rights later on judged the method as one constituting an inhuman practice of treating people who have been arrested. This led to the discontinuity of the use of the five techniques following unfavorable publicity . A major similarity in both counter-terrorism strategies is with regard to the attempts to use peaceful means or dialogue which has seen several treaties being signed between the IRA and the British government and between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers.
The peace agreements have been accompanied by certain promises and conditions such power sharing deals, surrendering of weapons by the rebelling groups including other conditions with the purpose of seeking peace. However, a similar scenario witnessed in both cases is that most of the attempts to initiate sustainable peace agreements have in most cases failed due to diverse political, economic or social reasons.
A major attempt and a good example of a peace agreement in the Northern Ireland is the Downing Street Declaration which was initiated in December 1993 and which signaled readiness for more dialogue to break the stalemate between all the sides involved in the resolution process including the IRA and Sinn Fein, the Ireland’s oldest political movement . In Sri Lanka, since a new government came to power in 2001, the government has adopted a peace approach to suppress terrorism by the Tamil Tigers in which at least three breakthroughs have been achieved.
Among the peace talks have been a disarmament process, agreement on humanitarian measures and most importantly, the readiness of the Tamil Tigers to welcome a federal structure . It can therefore be clearly deduced that there have been practical and viable approaches to counter acts of terrorism by both the Ireland Republican Army and the Tamil Tigers which have been implemented by the governments concerned to try and improve the situation in these countries. A good similarity is that both governments have tried peace agreements though most have not elicited sustainable outcomes.
Another similarity is seen in the use of force though the kind of force used against IRA is seen to be mostly applied after suspects have been apprehended in an effort to gather useful information from them. The force used on Tamil Tigers is predominantly military action. The biggest contrast between the strategies in both situations is that a lot of sustainable legislative measures have been adopted against the IRA with only one major legislation being implemented against the Tamil Tigers. Bibliography Bjorgo, Tore. Root causes of terrorism: myths, reality and ways forward.
New York: Routledge, 2005. Brenner, Edgar H and Yonah Alexander. Uks Legal Responses to Terrorism. New York: Routledge, 2003. Derkins, Susie. The Irish Republican Army. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, 2003. Dos Santos, Anne Noronha. Military intervention and secession in South Asia: the cases of Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Kashmir, and Punjab. New York: Anne Dos Santos, 2007. Geraghty, Tony. The Irish War: the hidden conflict between the IRA and British Intelligence. New York: JHU Press, 2000. Houen, Alex. Terrorism and modern literature, from Joseph Conrad to Ciaran Carson.
New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Martin, Gus. Essentials of Terrorism: Concepts and Controversies. New York: SAGE, 2010. Rabasa, Angel. Beyond al-Qaeda: The outer rings of the terrorist universe. New York: Rand Corporation, 2006. Shanahan, Timothy. The provisional Irish Republican Army and the morality of terrorism. Salt Lake City: Edinburgh University Press, 2009. Sluka, Jeffrey A. Death squad: the anthropology of state terror. Philadelphia : University of Pennsylvania Press, 2000. Wallis, Geoff, Mark Connolly and Margaret Greenwood. Rough guide to Ireland. Dublin City: Rough Guides, 2003.
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