Independence-seeking Tigers already run shadow state

Nov 29, 2006 (AFP) – The Tamil Tigers have renewed a campaign to partition Sri Lanka, but the guerrillas already have a surreal separate “state” of their own. The Tigers usually sign off their communications with “thirst of the Tigers is Tamil Eelam”. But a former Sri Lankan defence minister said it was not a state but a state of mind. Tigers’ supremo, Velupillai Prabhakaran, in his annual policy speech on Monday, wrote off four years of peace talks and said he had no option but to resume a campaign for full independence in this majority-Sinhalese nation.

But the Tigers already run their own civil administration, courts and police in large swathes of land in the island’s northeast and have “customs” and “visa” formalities for people crossing de facto front lines.

Despite decades of fighting that have killed more than 60,000 people, including a large number of civilians, the guerrillas have slowly built civilian administrative structures.

They have a bank, but no currency.

They use Sri Lankan cash and have even threatened to print their own money unless the Central Bank of Sri Lanka improves its monetary policy to make the rupee stronger.

Th