Gotterdammerung

"Prabhakaran shot dead," reports the Times Online.

The leader of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels, Velupillai Prabhakaran, has been killed along with his son and other Tiger commanders. Prabhakaran was ambushed and shot dead while trying to flee government troops as special forces closed in on the last rebel fortifications. ... The conflict area had been reduced to a patch of land just 100 metres by 100 metres, he added. Tens of thousands of civilians who had been caught in the crossfire were finally allowed to flee to freedom over the weekend.

A senior defence official said Prabhakaran had been killed while trying to flee the area in an ambulance with two close aides. "He was killed with two others inside the vehicle," the official said. The government said that they had found the body of Prabhakaran's 24 year old son Charles Anthony, the heir apparent of the Tigers’ leadership. The head of the rebels’ political wing, Balasingham Nadesan, the head of the Tigers' defunct peace secretariat, Seevaratnam Puleedevan, and their eastern leader, S. Ramesh were also said to be among the dead.

Independent verification of the situation is all but impossible as journalists are not being allowed near the conflict zone.

Some will probably regard this as a tragedy because now Colombo has no one to negotiate with. An recent article from the Times Online quoted "fears in Western capital(s) ... " that "if the Tamil leadership goes ahead with their threats of suicide will there be anyone left to negotiate with? "

The victorious Sri Lankans were said to have received large scale financial and technical assistance for their campaign against the Tigers from China. That assistance enabled them to thumb their noses at the Western capitals, which they must now be congratulating themselves for doing. Another regime largely supported by China, Burma, has now imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, sick and aging, in a prison "notorious for its filth, disease and the mental and physical torture deployed against its prisoners".

She faces a five-year prison sentence if convicted of breaching the terms of her house arrest because a stranger swam across a lake and broke into her dilapidated home. ... To compound the injustice, the junta has also charged the mother and daughter who live with Ms. Suu Kyi and her physician with various offenses that could land them in prison for years. Ms. Suu Kyi's case matters, and not only because she is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Her situation is representative of the suffering of the 47 million people of Burma under an authoritarian and inept junta.

One wonders whether there isn't some sudden realization that there's no contest between brute power and the so-called protections of Western legitimacy. All the international tribunals which were supposed to bring justice to Lebanon, the sanctions which were to defang North Korea; the moral superiority which was to shame the Burmese Junta; all the pieces of paper which emanate from the United Nations are in danger of being regarded as Paper Tigers; which perhaps they now are. To see the utter pregnability of the walls of taboos and garlands of diplomatic wolfsbane with which the West has engirdled things laid bare may have sent the wrong message from Damascus to Teheran; from Gaza to Southern Lebanon; from the Northwest Frontier to the Black Sea. An international regime can survive many things; even defeat. What it cannot survive is a sudden realization that it is ridiculous. Legitimacy depends on prestige and upon respect. How much of that does the West have left?


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