Tamil’s Great Heroes Day :The Revival of Martyr Cults among Ilavar Part 2

Peter Schalk – Copyright Temenos 33 (1997), 151­190.

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV
The concept of martyrdom of the LTTE
Devotio, the ideal act of the tiyaki of the LTTE

The concept of martyrdom of the LTTE

The LTTE very often uses Tamil words for “martyr” and adds without hesitation the English word “martyr” in English pamphlets, as if the Tamil words were equivalents. Let us first make clear what we may mean with ‘`martyr” in a Jewish­Christian tradition. The Western reader is influenced by this tradition. Discussions about “true” and “false” martyrs usually preclude a conceptualisation of what a martyr is. The discussion in the West about what a martyr is is very complex, but we will make it short here.

We can say that the image of a martyr meaning “(blood) witness” made up in a Jewish Christian tradition contained eight elements. If these are put together as an image or ideal role and are ascribed to a person, then we have to do with a fully competent martyr.

  1. A martyr­to­be has a firm conviction that he does not want to change or abandon under any circumstance.
  2. A martyr­to­be is exposed to physical or mental torture and is executed because of his conviction.
  3. A martyr­to­be has not used violence or urged others to use violence to defend him, but he has nevertheless shown remarkable civil courage.
  4. A martyr­to­be is regarded as “genuine” by his followers.
  5. A martyr­to­be’s conviction is evaluated by his followers as representing important cultural values, if not ultimate cultural values.
  6. A martyr­to­bets torture and death are regarded as redemption for his own failures in life or for his group’s or for humanity’s as a whole.
  7. The death of a martyr is regarded not as an end but as a passage to another way of existence. Life is regarded as indestructible for a martyr.
  8. The dead martyr is venerated in ritual.

The ideal martyrs are those who die Christ­like, even if they are Jews. Jesus was a Jew.

There is a “movement”, then, in the life of a martyr that passes through total humiliation and dehumanisation but ends up in elevation, grades of apotheosis and recognition. This “movement”, seen from a global point of view, follows a well­known pattern that we know from rites of marginalisation. We could say that the life of a martyr follows the pattern of a rite of marginalisation in which especially humiliation and submission to death are stressed (but ending nevertheless in elevation). The process of martyrdom repeats the same pattern as baptism or an initiation rite. In certain trends of Judaism and Christianity, this stressing of submission became a permanent and dominant feature and constituted these religions as “religions of martyrdom”.

If we apply this normative pattern of maximum competence for a martyr, we find that the LTTE martyr is not fully competent. Regarding item 2, most LTTE fighters die in battle, but there are also cases of torture and executions. The main deviation from the pattern is item 3 stipulating that the martyr has not used violence. The Muslim martyr, the shahid, also falls short here, and so does the mediaeval Christian martyr who dies with his sword in his hands.

Item 6 has to be clarified. The concept of redemption in the LTTE does not refer to sins committed by individuals or by the community against God earlier in life or in history; it refers to the killing of enemies. The blood that has been spilled by the LTTE martyr for the holy aim redeems the killing of the enemy. This is made explicit in a secret ritual performed by the LTTE over the corpse of a martyr.

Instead of rigidly applying a Jewish­Christian normative pattern, which is provoked by the LTTE’s own reference to the Jewish Christian term “martyr”, we should, of course, look for an indigenous Indian interpretative pattern, and we find it in the concept of tiyakam (see below). According to this pattern, the LTTE is indeed fully competent. The problem is that the LTTE does not stick to one term alone. There are thus several ideas crossing each other, sometimes in the same text.

In the sacrificial ideology of the LTTE the following terms, demonstrating its complexity, are highly frequent:

  • arppan,ippu, “sacrifice”,
  • pali, “sacrifice”,
  • virar, “hero”, viram, ‘heroism”,
  • maravar’ ‘warrior”,
  • maram’ ‘valour”,
  • tiyaki, “one who abandons”,
  • tiyakam, “abandonment”,
  • catci, “witness”, “martyr”,
  • “martyr”( English)

The word arppanippu (alternatively arppanam or arppanam) comes from Sanskrit arpana. We have translated it with “sacrifice”. It can also mean “dedication”, referring to the sacrifice that is dedicated to a god. The word also belongs to a secular context, to the dedication of a book. It does, however, originally belong to a religious ritual context, to the libation offered to the god in the temple or to any gift presented to the god. We have the word tevarppanam, “offering that is acceptable to gods”. Arppi, “to offer”, could include the totality of a human as expressed in the Tamil composite ivvutampai unakkarpanam akkinen, “I have sacrificed this body to you”. In the context of the LTTE this sacrifice becomes a sacrifice for the realisation of Tamililam.

Not being aware of the religious sacrificial connotation of this Hindu term, the reader misses the point that is communicated to the reader of the Tami1 text: just as a libation or any gift is sacrificed to a god, so you sacrifice yourself totally for the sake of the holy aim. The sacrifice on the battlefield is rationalised by reference to a well­known sacrifice to a god. The closest parallel in the West to the arppannippu would be the devotio practised by dedicated fighters on the battlefield of the Romans.


The word pali (Sanskrit bali) refers to a sacrifice to gods and manes, and the Tamil verb palikotu means “to sacrifice a victim”, “to present offerings (to a deity)” and “to kill”. A pali is that which has been “killed” or taken as a sacrifice. It can be an animal, boiled rice or flowers given to a god or to manes. In LTTE language, the pali is, of course, not an animal or vegetable. The pali is the fighter himself who has been killed and who is at the same time the sacrificer and the sacrifice. He gets killed in the very act of killing that intents to make the holy aim come true. His getting killed is equalled to the killing of a sacrifice in the kovil. The word pali belongs to the sacrificial language of the Hindu temple.


The word virar is an honorific masculine form for viran. That means “Hon. hero”. There is no feminine form *viral, but another form viri. A “heroine” can also be designated in literary Tamil by other names like talaivi, “female leader”, and vira ananku, “heroic woman”. Only the epicene form vicar is applied to women in LTTE texts. There is also the neologism virankanai, “heroic woman”, created first by the DMK and then taken up by the LTTE.

Viram or viriyam means “bravery”, “heroism”, “fortitude”.

The LTTE leadership bestows posthumously exclusively the honorific title virar, “Hero”, or ma~virar, “Great Hero”, to all men and women, cadres of the LTTE. These are the persons who have succumbed to their wounds in battle or who have anticipated getting killed by killing themselves with cyanide in battle (or in battle­like situations) to avoid capture and torture. The dead fighter is sometimes called vira maranamatainta vicar, “hero who attained heroic death”.

The word virar in an LTTE context is complex because it refers to different historical traditions about heroes and to different types of heroes.


The word maram is connected with “valour” “bravery”, “anger”, “wrath”, “enmity”, “hatred”, “strength”, “power”, ‘victory”, ‘war”, “killing” and “murder”. Not only a warrior can have maram, but also a whole army and a horse. This can be made evident by the two turai, “themes” of heroic so­called Cankam poetry, tanaimaram, “valour of the army” and kutiraimaram, “valour of the horse”. The maravar in the so­called Cankam literature can be described as an aristocratic libertine with access to worldly pleasures. Up to the end of the first millennium the word maravar referred to a function, the warrior’s function, that could be taken up by mercenaries in different armies. Usually this group of warriors was spoken of as a functional group by the term mara­k­kuti.

Kuti does not mean caste like cati, Sanskrit jati, or like kulam, Sanskrit kula. Kuti, a Tamil term that has become a loan word in Sanskrit, means “house”, “abode”, “home”, “family”, “lineage”, `’town”, “group of tenants”. It refers to an allegiance of people with the same interest, here to an allegiance of mercenaries that was open to all who sought their livelihood in warfare. Only after the first millennium did the term develop into a caste name.

Today the word maravar has developed into a caste name for hunters and robbers in South India, for dacoits, i.e. a criminal caste. The maravars were declared a criminal caste in 1911 by the then Government of India. Their political ambition after 1911 was to get rid of this bad reputation that discriminated them in public life. This succeeded only in 1947.

Their ambition was taken up by the South Indian Branch of the Forward Bloc. This was founded by Muttiramalinkam Tevar on behalf of Subash Chandra Bhose in 1938. What connected them immediately was their anti­Congress position. There is thus a close connection between the maravars and the Subhasists in recent times from about 1938. This connection is also clearly visible in the fact that part of the Indian National Army (INA) under Subhash Chandra Bhose to 1945 consisted of maravars. Maravar ambitions and South Indian Subhasism were co­ordinated. The self­image of the maravars of having a glorious history, and their political ideology classified as Subhasism strongIy infIuenced the mind of the young Veluppillai Pirapakaran.

Among all the words given here, only the word maravar seems to be gender related. Even if it is seen as an epicine form, and even though VEluppillai Pirapakaran, when seeing men and women as one fighting collectivity, defines all as maraver, the present author has not yet found a single text written by women in which female fighters call themselves by the most “male” designation of a maravar. They do not hesitate to call themselves virar because there is already a female tradition of virar, but evidently they hesitate to use maravar. When this hesitation has been overcome, the desired gender distinctions have been overcome.


When the LTTE speaks about “martyrdom”, it often translates the word tiyakam. It does not lexically mean “martyrdom”. It means “abandonment”. Implied in this concept is the meaning of voluntary abandonment of life, the conscious choice of possible death to reach an aim that is declared holy.

The very specific meaning assigned by the LTTE to tiyakam is the voluntary abandonment of life in the very act of taking life, in the act of killing. The getting killed whilst killing (in rage), having been confronted with the death of a comrade, is tiyakam. Likewise, a tiyaki is one who is killed whilst killing (in rage), having first been confronted with the death of a comrade. It is of the uttermost importance to understand the concept of tiyakam as a reaction on encountering death. Tiyakam is a specific type of aggressive mourning behaviour in the martial culture of the LTTE. A killed male and female LTTE fighter is regarded as a tiyaki.

No living fighter, male or female, is called virar or tiyaki. These epithets belong to the veneration of the dead, but the ideal of a tiyaki is, of course, in the mind of those who choose to die as a tiyaki. We could therefore introduce a distinction between a tiyaki-to­be and a tiyaki. This distinction is not unimportant because a tiyaki is expected to have lived a special life in abandoment of the temptations of life. He was during his life, or at least during the last stages of his life, a tavan, ‘tan ascetic”. The first “martyr” of the LTTE, Cankar, was said to have been a tavan.

The concept of tiyakam, “abandonment (of life)”, i. e. a rather specific Indian form of martyrdom, is cultivated by both male and female fighters. A “martyr” of the LTTE has not chosen, like the Christian martyr, to suffer in the mind the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. He has taken up arms against the sea of troubles, trying to end them by opposing them.

The concept of tiyakam that has its roots in the last section of the Bhagavadgita was known in the medieval period, in the early colonial period and was revived in the struggle for independence of India. The concept itself implies the taking up of armed struggle. The ideal tyagi (Sanskrit) is Arjuna who without self­interest kills even his kin and teachers in dedication to Visnu. The LTTE tiyaki (Tamil) is then not a misunderstood creation of a Christian martyr, but stands in the tradition of the revivalist martial concepts that were emphasised during the Indian struggle for independence in the 20th century.

In the Tamil version of the Ramayana, Rama himself is called tiyakamavinotan, “the great one who diverts himself with abandonment”.

The tiyaki is also known to Caivacittanta philosophy from about the 16th century AD. In a work called Nanavacittam, the tiyaki is described as one who is completely without (worldly) acai, “desire”. He, indeed, is said to be a makattana tiyaki, “great tiyaki”.

Another Caivacittanta work from about the 18th century called Kaivalliya Navanitam gives a classification of religiosi from lower to higher. First there is the makarttan, “great acting person”, who acts without attachment to worldly things. Then there is the mapoki, `’the great enjoyer”, who can live without having any interest. Finally there is the mattiyaki, “great abandoner”, who does not expect any fruit from his actions. All three of them are eligible for vitu, “liberation”.

The concept of a tiyaki from the Gita’s last section was interpreted in political terms and applied to the freedom fighters against British colonialism by the Indian independence movement. Especially in the writings of Vivekananda, the distinction between a religious and political interpretation of originally religious terms was consciously blurred. “Liberation” was not only the liberation of the individual soul from bondage in rebirth, but was homologised to the freedom of the nation; and the soul itself was not only an individual and a mental quality, but was homologised to the collective spirit of the nation.

There is in Yalppanam (Jaffna) then a long Tamil Gita tradition about the tiyaki, a tradition that depicts the tiyaki as an outstanding living man who has extraordinary mental and moral qualities that all amount to self­restraint. He is one who has an ultimate aim of becoming a tiyaki.

The status that such a person had in a deeply religious society becomes similar to the status that a tiyaki­to­be has within the martial society established by the LTTE and which is openly displayed in the cult of the dead, of the tiyakis. It is tempting to project a continuity from the Gita over the medieval period to colonial and post colonial traditions about the tiyaki, with regard to status, not, of course, with regard to their aims, but again with regard to the ultimacy of an aim. We are, however, not tempted. The “roots” of the LTTE go to the Indian freedom struggle, not further.

The idea of the tiyaki suffering a representational death for the people of Tamililam is highly developed in the LTTE. This idea comes close to certain traits of representational death in Christendom. The tiyaki concept has been taken up by some of the representatives of the Catholic and Protestant Church. The Catholic Church of Yalppanam has very deep roots in the population and has established itself as a folk­religion alongside Hinduism. Its Bishop chaired the Citizens Committee of Yalppanam and many priests are involved in organising relief for the physical and mental suffering of the people. Some priests have suffered death in their work for the community and some have suffered torture in Sinhala prisons.

The concept of tiyaki has, however, a “negative” side. It rationalises the use of violence. The LTTE tiyaki gets killed in the very act of killing. What the priest wishes to emphasise is the representational dying, and not the killing. Therefore we find this tiyaki concept sometimes replaced by another concept, that of catci. This word means “witness”. ‘witness” in Greek is martys, which we recognise in our “martyr”. It does not imply the act of killing.


Some of the Catholic priests have taken up the idea of the killed young man or woman being a catci (caksi), and this term has also found its way into the idiom of the LTTE and its supporters and sympathisers. This brings us to a new concept that emphasises strictly the aspect of representational death.

This word catci or caksi is a Tamilised form of Sanskrit saksin, which means “witness”. The word caksi {cat.ci) is normally related to the legal sphere and also has a specific meaning within the speculative philosophy of Caivacittanta. There it refers to a mental ability in the mind of man, but it did not have the meaning of “martyr” in an indigenous pre­colonial Tamil tradition. From colonial times the word caksi is also related to persons who died for their conviction. The word then gets the special meaning of irattacaksi, ‘blood witness” or cattiyaccaksi, “truth witness”.

When did this meaning of caksi as blood witness arise and who gave this meaning? The answer is simple: The Christians. When the Christian missionaries had to translate the Greek word martys, “witness”, in the New Testament into Tamil, they translated the classical formula for the meaning of “martyr’, in, for example, Matthew IS, 16 and many other places with caksi.

Through the translations of the New Testament into Tamil7 this usage of the word came into Christian preaching, became common knowledge and was spread by the Christians (Catholics} to the LTTE, of which a very strong Catholic contingent is in Mannar.

In one official Tamil document of the LTTE, the present writer has found the word catci and he also knows that the LTTE author, who wants to remain anonymous, is a Catholic. The poet said in his poem concerning killed LTTE cadres:

cattiyam unkalukku catci
Truth (shall be} your witness

This alludes to the technical Christian term of a cattiyaccaksi, `’truth witness”.

Further, a Tamil playwright who is also a Catholic finds it apt to use even the word vetac catci, “witness (martyr) of religion”, as a term for an LTTE fighter.

More important than this stray information is that in preaching and in literature by Tami1 Catholic priests, some LTTE cadres who have been killed are called catci in Tamil. Taking up this strand, we leave, of course, the corpus of official LTTE texts and turn to Catholic interpretations of LTTE fighters’ dying on the battlefield. They lack and they do not request the imprimatur from the LTTE. By using the term catci, a special Christian meaning is introduced into the understanding of a “martyr” that separates it from the other terms of Indian origin.

A catci in the Christian sense submissively endures all sufferings to the end without using violence. Submissive endurance in suffering is the main virtue of a Christian martyr, who really hands himself over in complete faith to God as a “truth witness” of agape in the steps of Jesus Christ. By calling a killed LTTE cadre a catci, the element of self­sacrifice for others is selectively emphasised, not at all armed heroic killing. This is said here as a rule that has exceptions. Even a priest is a human who may be tempted to blend the martyr with the hero.

The whole semantic field word catci, implying submissive endurance in suffering to death, is, of course, an anomaly in the martial idiom of the LTTE, and is de facto very rare in documents that carry the imprimatur of the LTTE. Only once could the present author find it in printed form. The author of it is a Catholic. The LTTE emphasises instead the killing of the fighter before he is killed himself. It does so with the help of the two terms virar and maravar. These two terms are also part of the semantic field of the LTTE concept of a tiyaki. A tiyaki is a virar or maravar or both. Again, it is important to emphasise that the martial aspect of the tiyaki is not an addition to this concept, but that it organically belongs to the concept of a tiyaki. It is not a misunderstood concept of the Christian concept of a martyr.

In English texts distributed by the LTTE one can find the word “martyr” rather frequently. This is thus an additional term in the sacrificial ideology of the LTTE. In the first proclamation of the Heroes’ Day in 1989, we can read:

Every freedom fighter who sacrifices his or her life is a martyr…

The LTTE appeals then to a Western understanding of what a martyr is, but does not realise that the West has a differentiated comprehension of this. Some would blankly deny that a LTTE tiyaki is a martyr because he uses violence. Others would say that he is a martyr because of his representational death on behalf of others. Some again would associate this word with suicidal behaviour only and acknowledge the tiyaki to be a martyr alongside kami kaze warriors. There are some who will say that the word martyr has no meaning at all in an LTTE context, that it is only a persuasive term. Finally, there are the enemies of the LTTE who say that the LTTE has no martyrs, it has only terrorists, and only the soldiers from one’s own side can be called martyrs.

True enough, the word “martyr” creates a hermeneutic problem for the LTTE in the West. The reader should, however, know that this problem is not new. In the English speaking stream of the struggle for independence in India, this word was already used for the victims of British suppression. The LTTE has inherited this term, like most of the other terms pertaining to its sacrificial ideology, from the Indian freedom struggle for independence.

This tallies completely with the early conceptualisation of the young Veluppillai Pirapakaran, who was strongly influenced by the martial terminology of South Indian Subhasism formed in the Indian struggle for independence. One dominant configuration of his thinking is the homologising of colonial occupation and the Indian freedom struggle {as performed by “Netaji”) to the Sinhala occupation of the Tamil homeland and the freedom struggle of the Tigers.

Devotio, the ideal act of the tiyaki of the LTTE

By devotio, we mean here a simplified version of the complex devotio, i.e. a self­sacrifice behind the lines of the enemy for the benefit of the Tamil community.

The ideal martyr is an imagined and idealised person. We find him or her in the obituaries, but also in films made by the LTTE. We also find him or her, however, in reality. He or she belongs to the elite group of suicide killers called karumppuli, “Black Tiger”. A person who practises devotio knows with certainty that he will be killed in a last decisive battle in which he will eliminate an obstacle, but paying the price with his life. His aim contrasts to a “normal” tiger who has two tasks, to kill and to survive. The death of a normal tiger is calculated, but so is his survival. A Black Tiger calculates only with his or her death.

There is a film called tayakakkanavu, “The dream of the motherland (homeland)” produced by Nitarcanam, the official television station of the LTTE, on the occasion in 1993 of the commemoration day of the Black Tigers on July 5. The film was very successful in making the Tamil public deeply touched. The present author could see many tears in the public, and even former hard core fighters sobbed.

The film starts by showing a happy family consisting of parents, a daughter and a son, the tiyaki­to­be. They are all happily sitting in the garden celebrating a birthday. They feed each other with their hands as signs of intimacy.

There are good relations with the neighbours. The son takes the neigbour’s young daughter the age of his own tankacci, “younger sister”, to school on his motor­bike. One day the Lankan Air Force drops bombs on the school, and the boy can only take the dead body of his young friend to her parents. In his inner vision, he anticipates that this could have happened to his own tankacci.

He decides that he will enter the squad of Black Tigers. Having got permission from his father to enter, the hard training to become a Black Tiger is shown. The film spends much time describing the comradeship that develops within the group’ especially between our hero and a comrade. The two comrades are shown feeding each other.

Our hero is very serious and dedicated. Even in his spare time he plays his harmonium, not just anything, of course only the melody of the song called “The task of the Tigers is (to win) the Motherland Tamililam”. It is a march that is played at public state ceremonies. Still more, he does not tolerate that his comrade plays nonsense on the harmonium. He hits him and tells him to be serious. This affected their comradeship, that had by feeding each other been placed on the level of a close kinship relation.

Then comes the day when one of the Black Tigers in the group has to be selected to launch a suicidal attack on a Sinhala army camp by driving explosives on a truck into the camp, and letting it explode. The selection is made by drawing lots; each of the Black Tigers in the squad has to pick a piece of paper. The boy picked a piece of paper on which was written, vetti, ‘victory”. That meant that he had been selected.

He bid farewell to his comrades by giving each some of his property. To his close comrade, whom he had hit, he gave the harmonium and his diary with a picture of Veluppillai Pirapakaran, and they separated for ever as friends.

He also bid his family farewell, and last, Veluppillai Pirapakaran. Then he went for his last assignment, which he accomplished as calculated. The enemy camp was eliminated and he was killed by the explosion. The next day all read and talked about him. His picture was put up on a commemorative altar. Then the parents were informed by two officials from the LTTE that he had achieved viramaranam, “heroic death”. Above all his tankacci wailed.

His comrade also wailed. He remembers the scenes of conflict and reconciliation. He takes up the harmonium and plays the melody to the song The task of the Tigers… His turn will come soon to make the next suicidal attack on a Sinhala army camp, incited by the heroic death of his comrade.

The hero of the film is described as a tavan, ‘ascetic”, not by the word, but by his behaviour. Although he is of marriageable age, there is no sign of a girlfriend, not even among the mourners. He has a tankacci and not a talaivi. He does not need to think of children of his own.

Living in the group of Black Tigers, he seems to be dedicated to the holy aim only, indicated by his carrying a picture of Veluppillai Pirapakaran (whom he bids farewell last). His intimate family bonds are also replaced by the intimate bonds to a male comrade.

The different scenes of the film are connected by the repeated use of the melody The task of the Tigers…, the feeding each other, and the picture or reference to Veluppillai Pirapakaran.

So much for the film.

The film presents a chain of deaths caused by getting killed in the act of killing for the realisation of “the holy aim”. The hero is incited to kill to revenge the death of his young friend; his comrade is incited to kill by his death, etc. It is the death of a close person that incites to kill and to die in the act of killing.

Looking at this film, one has to realise that even if the story is fiction, the type of act described in it – let us call it arppanippu in Tamil or devotio in Latin – has been made real many times by the Black Tigers. The film is indeed based on reality and that makes the act of arppanippu or devotio a serious matter. This act is not an ideal yet to be achieved. It is a reality already, though idealised. It is highlighted every year on 5th July at karumpulikal nal, the “Dayof the Black Tigers”, to commemorate the death of the first Black Tiger on 5th July 1987 and of his many followers.


Tamil’s Great Heroes Day :The Revival of Martyr Cults among Ilavar Part I

Peter Schalk – Copyright  Temenos 33 (1997), 151­190.

The article was first published in the Journal Temenos  edited by Dr.Tore Ahlbäck (Temenos 33, 1997, 151-190) and  is  published here with the permission of the author and Temenos. The article extracts passages from a forthcoming book by Professor Schalk  on the concept of martyrdom of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam. He points out that by Ilavar he means those who agitate or fight for Tamil (Ilam). For the historisation of the LTTE – see Schalk 1997a. For LTTE’s martyrdom as political resistance – see Schalk 1997b. For the woman fighters of the LTTE – see Schalk 1992 and Schalk 1994. Negative moral judgments about the Tigers are given in The Broken Palmyra that is inspired by Gandhian, Buddhist and Christian ethics of non­violence and by feminist theories that promote gender distinctions – see Hoole and Thiranagama 1990 . Professor Schalk has written extensively on  Tamil related subjects  and plans to publish a volume called Pauttamum Tamilum – Buddhism and Tamil.

“…What will be described below is the ideal or idealised self consciousness of LTTE men and women about their struggle for cutantiram, “independence”, of the projected language nation­state called Tamililam. We shall describe their concepts, i.e. what motivates them, and what at the same time rationalises them to fight. To fight implies, of course, the option to kill and the possibility to get killed in armed struggle. For cutantiram, individual life is sacrificed. A famous saying from 1990 by Veluppillai Pirapakaran is: “Having spilled sweat, having spilled blood, obtaining death with unbearable sorrow, (after this there is) independence. Without independence (cutantiram) there is no meaning in the life of man.”…


What will be described below is the ideal or idealised self consciousness of LTTE men and women about their struggle for cutantiram, “independence”, of the projected language nation­state called Tamililam. We shall describe their concepts, i.e. what motivates them, and what at the same time rationalises them to fight. To fight implies, of course, the option to kill and the possibility to get killed in armed struggle. For cutantiram, individual life is sacrificed. A famous saying from 1990 by Veluppillai Pirapakaran is:

“Having spilled sweat, having spilled blood, obtaining death with unbearable sorrow, (after this there is) independence. Without independence (cutantiram) there is no meaning in the life of man.”

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) advocate a Tamil nationalism that is expressed by its leaders in religious terms referring to the cult of martyrs. The LTTE selectively revives religious concepts relating to a martyr cult, and that is connected with the aim to establish a separate state. The background to the revival of this martyr cult is then the formation and fortifying in armed conflict of a new state.

Veluppillai Pirapakaran said in 1994, looking back at his own intellectual development, that he developed a deep attachment to the Indian Freedom struggle and martyrs like Subhash Chandra Bose, Bagat Singh and Balagengadhara Tilak (Prabhakaran 1994). In Ilattamil areas, there are of course no British colonisers now, but there are according to the LTTE, Sinhala colonisers who are homologised to the British by the LTTE.

The LTTE is not a religious movement with political aspirations but a political movement with religious aspirations as expressed in word and picture by the Office of Great Heroes of the projected state called Tamililam.

Sacrilisation of Politics by the LTTE

Tamil politicians have used religious-Zionistic-terms to describe the commitment to the creation of a Tamil nation. This use of religious terms is, of course, not uncommon in a global perspective. Politicians have often talked about “sacrifices” to be made for the nation. These religious terms should then not be squeezed too much; they are part of a political rhetoric. In the case of the LTTE, however, we find a whole set of technical religious terms, a kind of repertoire that has been created after systematic search by members of the Office of Great Heroes of the LTTE. There is actually a special office in a house in Yalppanam dedicated to the task of producing hero symbolism and concepts. These are part of building up an ideological resistance and mobilisation – alongside the building up of a military resistance.

The LTTE provides a vision of cutantiram, “independence”, of a projected state known as Tamililam, and that cutantiram is a “holy” aim, the Zion of the LTTE. That vision is the very centre of the LTTE as a political movement with religious aspirations. This word was part of the ideology of the Tamil movement under Celvanayakam, who, standing in the Jewish­Christian tradition, was not averse to using Zionistic terms. Celvanayakam himself was called by some admirers ‘the Moses of the Tamils‘, Celvanayakam (S.J.V. Chelvanayagam} lived in Ilam (Lanka) between 1898 and 1977 and led the Tami! movement from about 1949.

The LTTE has further produced by an elaborate symbolism of death and resurrection, a sacrificial commitment to the nation; there is a demand for “faith”, a mysticism of blood and sacrifice, a cult of heroes and martyrs, and an intimate communion of brotherhood such as we find in mystery cults. There is also the establishment of a series of “state­sponsored” calendrical rituals, all related to martyrdom. The LTTE has divided the year into the veneration of martyrs on five fixed different recurrent occasions.

There are two elaborate rituals in the life of a martyr­to­be, his initiation combined with an oath, and his “plantation”. A LTTE martyr never dies. His body is planted as seed to be reborn. “The LTTE does not bury its dead; it plants them”, to quote an LTTE leader. This “plantation” is a secret death ritual similar to a mystery cult. Then there are the numberless commemoration rituals on the occasion of a martyr’s death.

So the life of the martyr and of civilians is marked along the road of life and annual cycle. There is an LTTE ritual year related in totality to the concept of martyrdom. Life in Yalppanam in space and time is a celebration of martyrs. They are said to be the cornerstones of Tamilllam.

We know all these phenomena from martial organisations in world history along the political scale from right to left. The LTTE deviates to a degree from these organisations. The cult of the martyrs has become a main way of rationalising killing and getting killed in a situation of state formation and state fortifying.

The LTTE recognises about 9,000 “martyrs” that died from 1982 onwards. More than 400 of them are young women. What motivates the fighters to become “martyrs”, what rationalises both to kill and get killed, is their concept of martyrdom. Very few Westerners know about this concept, which has developed mainly in the 1980s as a set of values that rationalises armed and unarmed struggle, and personal and collective suffering in a specific historical situation of ethnic conflict and a specific process of the state formation and state fortification of Tamililam. In this specific situation specific religious idioms available in Tamil culture are used. We shall give some of these idioms that are key concepts of the LTTE’s political movement with religious aspirations.

Some may object, last but not least members of the LTTE, to the statement that the LTTE concept of martyrdom has any religious connotation.

Religious people usually make a sharp distinction between a religion and an ideology. They say that their own religion stipulates an ultimate aim whilst others’ ideologies only stipulate aims that are relative to, subordinated to or even contradictory to this ultimate aim. An ideology cannot stipulate an ultimate aim, and if it does so, it is allegedly mistaken about the nature of this aim.

Sometimes religious people talk about primary and secondary ultimate aims, which, however, is only a tolerant way of saying that there is only one primary ultimate aim. These distinctions between religion and ideology rest on a religious­normative basis and are therefore not relevant as a descriptive statement about LTTE concepts.

Another religious distinction is that one’s own religion is revealed but that other’s ideology is man made. Some make a religious distinction between religion and quasi­religion. They say that nationalism is a quasi­religion because it does not satisfy the needs of homo religiosus. Some say that religions stipulate an otherworldly aim and ideologies a mundane aim. All these distinctions are religious distinctions and therefore useless for describing and defining religious phenomena.

‘`Religion” and “ideology”, both try to rationalise stipulated aims and eliminate experiences of contingency about these aims by relating the particular to the universal. There is, however, nothing like a traditional religion to eliminate the experience of contingency about projected aims to be achieved. Therefore, what we conventionally call “ideologies” like “nationalism”, “humanism” or “Marxism” sometimes express themselves in religious terms in an extreme situation of facing annihilation. They want to achieve what religion achieves without necessarily being called a religion. They sacrilise their own ends. The LTTE sacrilises its aim, cutantiram, by declaring it to be a punita ilatciyam, “holy aim”.

The decisive difference between a new political movement with religious aspirations and an established religion is of course, that the former has no tradition yet. It is difficult to rationalise aims and eliminate experiences of contingency by reference to a newcomer that has still to fight for recognition, i. e. that has no tradition. Sacrilisers of politics are usually aware of this weakness and therefore emphasise imagined or real roots in the past. They lean towards religion because religion has what they lack, tradition. It is part of our concept of religion itself that it appeals to a long tradition going back to a founder or original revelation that rationalises its norms. Even so called “new religions” are anxious to emphasise real or imagined real traditional roots. They usually play down that they are new on the religious stage.

A new political movement may make itself appear as a follower of an old tradition introducing language purism, revving factual or mythical incidents in the past, etc. That may become part of its climbing towards the status of a religion. Traditionalism is then a characteristic part of a political movement with intensive contingency problems. Traditionalism in the LTTE cult of martyrs is clearly visible and very intensive. This traditionalism makes the LTTE a revivalist movement. It revives old elements, really old or only fictitiously old, to which it associates its holy aim. The whole concept of cutantiram revives the image of an ideal heroic past that was free from Sinhala colonisers and “Aryan” influence.

The self­understanding of the LTTE, however, does not regard itself as even a “civil” or “secular religion”. It thus deviates radically from, for example, Italian Fascism that saw itself as a religion and that polarised against traditional religion. The LTTE presents itself as a secular movement, but not like the FP or the TULF did, which defined themselves as the protector of all religions. “Secular” means being “beyond religions, a­religious, not non­religious, in a LTTE context. Its leaders deny that LTTE concepts of martyrdom are religious.

The LTTE leaders’ apprehension of what a religion is, is naturally modelled by Saivism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam. That gives them many arguments to point to differences between their own concepts and the concepts of these religions. The most obvious difference is the existence of prayer and the religious behaviour, mental concepts and attitudes that are connected with prayer. All the religions surrounding the LTTE are religions of prayer and of revelation. The LTTE emphasises not submission in prayer and truth by revelation, but self­assertion and determination in armed struggle combined with rational thinking, empirical studies and pragmatism.

The rejection by the LTTE not to have religious aspirations we interpret as a political­normative statement about the religious policy of the LTTE, and not as a descriptive statement about the nature of its concepts.

There is the insight of the LTTE that if it were to appear as a religion on the religious scene, it would create dissent within the movement. Most of its members are ardent Caivas or Christians who do not imply that they have to change religion in order to achieve cutantiram. They reach it as Caivas and as Christians. The LTTE is not involved in polemics with representatives of traditional religion. The LTTE does not claim that traditional religions should be eliminated. The LTTE thus rejects the attribute of being a religion because its self­understanding about a religion is too narrow, and because of fundamentally political reasons. The LTTE does not want to create an internal conflict with representatives of other religions by advocating a new religion.

So, the self­understanding of the LTTE is that it is beyond religion, not for and not against religion, even though we, as outsiders, can see that LTTE concepts are de facto heavily influenced by Hindu and Christian terms (see below). The LTTE leaders are not historians of religions and are therefore unaware of this influence. Confronted with this influence by a historian of religion, they play it down.

A way for the LTTE to demonstrate to the world that it is beyond religion is to construct and organise an alternative set of rituals combined with concepts that deviate from present religious rituals in Yalppanam. This alternative set of rituals is then defended against allegations that it is religious. The LTTE has used this way of creating an alternative set of rituals “beyond” religion. They are evaluated by the LTTE not only as religious­neutral concepts, but also as traditional concepts (that the LTTE revives). The revivalism of the LTTE is, as we can expect, traditionalistic. What else can any revivalism be?

All revivalism has the same problem, that it is traditionalistic only, and not traditional. It appears rightly as new to the surrounding and therefore has great contingency problems This remark is, however, not the same as to state that religious revivalism is not religious; the statement only identifies a problem concerning the chances of survival of a revival movement. In order to survive, it must enforce traditionalism to a maximum. That is what the LTTE did by creating a special office for the propagation of heroic martyrdom.

The self­understanding of the LTTE is no reason for us as outsiders to accept this self­understanding as a true description of its concepts. Religious people are very often mistaken about the historical origins of their own religious concepts. So is the LTTE.

We cannot accept that the LTTE is no religion just because it says that it is no religion. What we say is this: LTTE concepts of martyrdom have mobilised many ways of eliminating the experience of contingency about its stipulated sacred aim and its methods to reach it. The LTTE has sacrilised politics to an extent that clearly deviates from normal political rhetoric. It has taken the form and function of a religious cult of martyrs. Again, the martyrs are the cornerstones of Tamililam, as one LTTE leader wrote in 1989. We shall also see that the LTTE in its formation of a religiously interested political movement is heavily dependent on the language of traditional religions.

The most important step towards a religion was to stipulate an ultimate aim for which many young men and women have given their lives. All members of the LTTE swear to give their lives for this aim, that is cutantiram. Whether an aim is ultimate may be questioned religiously and morally by religious or moral outsiders, but what finally counts for the insider is what the insider stipulates. About 9,000 “insiders” have de facto demonstrated that this stipulated aim to reach cutantiram was ultimate to them.

Where there is an ultimate aim, there is religion. The point to identify here, in order to classify the LTTE as a political movement with religious aspirations, is not what this aim contains, but that it is ultimate. The student of comparative religion throughout world history will discover many stipulated ultimate aims, i.e. he will find many religions, and at the same time he will find that the common denominator is not the contents of these aims, but the fact that they are stipulated as ultimate.

Stipulating ultimate aims contradicts the norms of tolerance in a democratic­pluralistic society because there can be only one ultimate aim. A person or group with one ultimate aim will be contradicted and it creates conflict. Traditional religions in a modern pluralistic society, under the pressure of having to live together in state and society, have usually modified their concept of ultimacy by introducing distinctions between “theory and praxis” or “private and public life” or “long and short range perspective”. In theory, in private life, and in a long range perspective only, the aim is ultimate. In praxis, however, there is “dialogue” and “understanding”. In public life there is a liberal legislation. In a short perspective all realise that “we have to live together”. It is, however, not possible for a religious person to say that he has no ultimate aim at all, or that his religion’s ultimate aim has become relative to all other religions in the state, society and the world. There is no religion when there is no ultimate aim, be it in theory, in private life or in a long range perspective only.

The LTTE society and state is, as we can expect, no democratic pluralistic society and state; the LTTE society and state faces daily extinction, and in order to prevent this, it has mobilised all available military strength and made all possible ideological efforts to organise resistance. As Veluppillai Pirapakaran made clear to EROS in 1990, he cannot afford dissidents. Dissidents are traitors, and traitors are executed in public. There is no theory distinguished from praxis, there is no private political life distinguished from public life and there is no long range perspective distinguished from a short time perspective. The ultimate aim has to be established here and there, and now. The LTTE thus follows the pattern of many resistance movements in the world. The stipulating of an ultimate aim and implementing it beyond the distinctions `’theory and praxis* and “public and private life* and “short and long range perspective” is linked with the development of an organisational form of society that is totalitarian.

The methods to reach the holy aim are not ultimate, but relative. Cutantiram can be reached by negotiation and by armed struggle.The LTTE is not selective and exclusive about methods, and that is the point; it does not exclude armed struggle from the beginning like the Gandhians. Non­violence is not a holy principle, is not Truth itself as Gandhi would say, but a strategy in the politicisation of the masses.

The LTTE has also practised non­violent, but militant Gandhian methods, as fasting to death, like in the case of the fighter TiLpan and the lady Pupati, who fasted to death in 1987 and 1988, respectively, opposing IPKF occupation. They are commemorated yearly on 26th September and 19th April, respectively, on their death day. The public and normative interpretation of their fasting to death was, of course, that their act was Gandhian. This also implied that they did not commit suicide, but that they were “killed” by the aggressor, in this case by the IPKF.

The LTTE also accepted negotiations with the IPKF in August 1987 (for a few days), with the Sri Lankan Government between 1989-1990 and in 1994 from October to April 1995.

On the choice of methods, there is a famous saying by Veluppillai Pirapakaran when he was confronted with the Indian military super power that urged him to surrender. He said, severely pushed by the IPKE, on 4th August 1987 at Cutumalai Amman Kovil, Yalppanam:

“poritta vativankal maralam. anal ematu poratta ilatciyam marapovatillai”
The methods of war may change. But the aim of our war will not change.

Even today, many fighters in the LTTE know this famous quotation in Tamil by heart. If anything can explain the LTTE victories in the battlefield, it is this “Kautiliyan” principle of assimilation of different methods of strategies.

To understand the LTTE correctly is to understand this principle correctly. It means that the LTTE could also start negotiations with the new Prime Minister (or President) after the elections in August 1994, with Chandrika Kumaranatunga, because negotiations might be more conducive to the realisation of the holy aim than warfare. It also implies that a suspending for the time being of the holy aim and the acceptance of a federal set­up may be conducive for the realisation of the holy aim, that is never given up. The introduction of the distinction between a short and long time perspective does not imply the giving up of the long time perspective. That is understood by every religious person who patiently awaits the Glory. The crucial moment comes, of course, when the LTTE in negotiations, like the IRA, is requested to give up its holy aim permanently.

This introducing of a long time perspective is a development in the 1990s within the leadership of the LTTE depending mainly on the pressure from the civil population in Yalppanam, the exile Ilattamil community and foreign advisers to the LTTE. There is also an insight that Tamililam will never be recognised by the international community. There has been a long internal debate within the LTTE about its relations with the outside world and especially with India. There are the fundamentalists who became marginalised at the end of 1994, and the pragmatists who in 1995 went for the long time perspective of establishing Tamililam in negotiations with the Sri Lankan Government. Failing, the fundamentalists would take over again the pragmatists failed in 1995.

This flexible strategy by Veluppillai Pirapakaran reveals something important about the LTTE, to focus on the aim only and then chose any method to reach this aim. For Gandhi, however, nonviolence was not only a method; it was Truth itself, a holy principle that could not be replaced by violence. The practice of non­violence as a method was at the same time a manifestation of the ultimate aim called Truth. Gandhi’s point was exactly this, to let the method itself anticipate the ultimate aim. The method itself already expressed Truth and was at the same time on the way to Truth. So even if the LTTE uses the Gandhian method of fasting to death, it is still not based on Gandhian thinking because non­violence in an LTTE context is relative to achieving the holy aim and can therefore be substituted by violence at any moment.


The holy aim

Tamilllam does not yet exist, but it already has a national flag, the tiger flag; it has not yet formalised a national anthem, but there is one tiger song that contains in its first line the most frequent slogan of the Tigers printed on posters and in almost all publications of the Tigers. It expresses “the holy aim”. That is the “identity” of the LTTE, its ultimate concern for its ultimate aim:

Pulikalin takam, Tamili1attayakam! 
The task (or thirst) of the Tigers (is to achieve) Motherland Tamililam

Having reached cutantiram, the Tamils have reached liberation from the colonisation of the Sinhalese, according to LTTE concepts. This is a negative way of formulating something positive, like the vanishing of pain that can give a very positive experience called “relief”. Another negated term with a positive connotation is, of course, “independence”, but what exactly is the positive value that is created having reached this stage? What is the relief in the mind of the LTTE? What will a free Tamililam be like? On this score, we do not get much concrete information in terms of political science. It is like asking Jews what Zion is like. One will get answers dressed in mythological terms. It is the same with the LTTE. It says that tarumam will prevail.

When attempts were made at different times to form a Jewish nation­state as a theocracy, the martyrs who died for the preservation of this nation usually referred to two values that constitute Israel. They are eusebeia and nomos that both refer to what we normally call spiritual values. What corresponds to these terms in the mind of Veluppillai Pirapakaran? He used one term that is pregnant with meaning and is ambiguous as it can be used both as a secular and a religious term. He said that on the side of fighting Tamils against the Sinhalese is tarumam (Sanskrit dharma). We could translate that in a secular way here by `’(social) justice”. In a future Tamililam tarumam will prevail, he says. As a secular term it refers to a special relation of equality to Jayawardhanapura and to a relation of equality within Tamililam between age, sex and professional groups.

From supporters of reaching cutantiram we often hear that they do not want peace alone; they want “peace with justice”. This phrase gets its strength, of course, from a deeply felt experience of injustice that had been meted out to the Tamils. In this context, one should pay attention to the women fighters of the LTTE, who have developed a detailed programme of social reform for women. Their concept of cutantiram is indeed not vague and mythical (see Schalk 1994). The ultimate value, the punita ilactiyam, “holy aim”, as the LTTE says, is cutantiram, “independence (from Sinhala colonialism)”, that will lead to the creation of tarumam, but achieving this ultimate aim is very costly.

Therefore, being constantly balanced against and questioned by other aims, for example, by a Unitarian Constitution, Federalism, a Provincial Council system, devolution of powers of different degrees, submission to, co­operation and reconciliation with the enemy for peace, the punita ilactiyam is experienced as being contingent, even within the ranks of the LTTE. The LTTE thinkers have therefore constantly to fight this experience of contingency, and they do it with reference to tradition. The created self­image of the LTTE is that it is a continuation of traditional martial values in Tamil culture. “Martial” and its implications is made part of an essential definition of Tamil culture, and the LTTE is said to be the latest,contemporary and maybe even “highest”, expression of that tradition. What allegedly has been and what is, should always be.

Some scholars have unfortunately taken this self­image of the LTTE as a description of the historical roots of the LTTE. Not that the LTTE consciously has put up an intellectual trap for them – the LTTE ideologists usually believe what they say – but these scholars have not been able to distinguish between the self consciousness of a movement about its history and its real history. These scholars have then become (un)intentional supporters of the image building of the LTTE as traditional.

Another way to eliminate the experience of contingency is to homologise its own struggle to three very prestigious other historical struggles in this case of the LTTE to

1. the freedom struggle of the Indians against British colonialism, especially the struggle of the Indian National Army led by Subhas Chandra Bose and his sacrificial ideology,

2. the struggle on Kuruksetra involving the saintly pantheon of the Mahabharata or

3. the “eternal” struggle between the Aryan and Dravidian “races”.

These are the three ideal models for the struggle of freedom fighters within the LTTE. Veluppillai Pirapakaran frequently uses images from 1 and 2; Kittu, his administrator in Yalppanam till 1987, was strongly influenced by 3.

Instead of a prestigious struggle, a prestigious person may function as the focal point through which the experience of contingency can be reduced. This prestigious person, the ideal fighter, is in the eyes of members of the LTTE Veluppillai Pirapakaran.

When we said above that the LTTE is a political movement with religious aspirations, we had in mind the fact that the LTTE, like any religion, struggles daily to eliminate the experience of contingency; in the case of the LTTE, it has to counteract the experience of contingency about the projected aim cutantiram and the methods to reach it. The dimensions and proportions this ideological fight has taken are impressive with regard to quantity. Being daily confronted with the threat of elimination by Government forces and by dissolution from within, the LTTE has built up an ideological massive fortress to defend its ultimate aim. This fortress is the concept of martyrdom.


How I Became a Freedom Fighter In an interview VELUPILLAI PIRABAHARAN


‘How I Became a Freedom Fighter’
April 1994

In an interview given to ‘Velicham’, a Tamil language literary magazine published in Jaffna, the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, Velupillai Pirabaharan, reflected on the events and circumstances during his early life that inspired him to take up arms and join the liberation struggle.  

Q. From your boyhood you have been a voracious reader. Can you tell us something about the books which instilled Tamil nationalism in you and impelled you to take up arms against oppression?

A. From my young days, I have been a lover of books. A good part of my youth I spent reading worthwhile books. I was especially keen on reading historical novels, works of history, and biographies of heroes. The pocket money that my parents gave me I spent on books. I got a lot of satisfaction and pleasure in reading new books. There was a book shop in my village. It became my habit somehow or the other to buy all those valuable books there and read them.

It is through books that I learnt of the heroic exploits of Alexander and Napoleon. It is through my habit of reading that I developed a deep attachment to the Indian Freedom struggle and martyrs like Subhash Chandra Bose,Subhash Chandra Bose Bagat Singh and Balagengadhara Tilak. It was the reading of such books that laid the foundation for my life as a revolutionary. The Indian Freedom struggle stirred the depths of my being and roused in me a feeling of indignation against foreign oppression and domination.

The racial riots which erupted in Sri Lanka in 1958 and the agonies that the Tamils had to endure as a result were the factors that impelled me to militancy. The reports that appeared in the dailies unleashed a hurricane of fury in me. When I read the novels of Tamil Nadu writers like Kausiyan (Paminip Pavai), Sandilyan (Kadat Pura) and Kalki (Ponniyin Selvan), I learned how our forefathers had established and ruled over great, flourishing empires.

These novels aroused in me the desire to see our nation rise again from servitude and that our people should live a life of dignity and freedom in their liberated homeland.  Why shouldn’t we take up arms to fight those who have enslaved us: this was the idea that these novels implanted in my mind. In my boyhood I avidly read epics like the Mahabharata and the Ramayana; they too sparked off thoughts in me.

‘Perform your duty without regard to the fruits of action’, says the Bhagavad Gita. I grasped this profound truth when I read the Mahabharata. When I read the great didactic works, they impressed on me the need to lead a good, disciplined life and roused in me the desire to be of service to the community.

Above all, Subhash Chandra Bose‘s life was a beacon to me, lighting up the path I should follow. His disciplined life and his total commitment and dedication to the cause of his country’s freedom deeply impressed me and served as my guiding light. I was never in the habit of reading cursorily, skimming through a book. I cultivated myself in the habit of immersing myself totally in the book I was reading and becoming one with it.

After I had finished reading a book, the questions ‘Why?’ ‘What for?’, ‘How did this happen this way?’, used to rise in my mind. I would try to connect the narrative and the characters with our life and the life of our people. At all such times, the thought that I should fight for the liberation of my people would dominate my mind.

Apart from historical novels and works of history, I also loved to read science-oriented books and magazines like ‘Kalaikathir’. I deeply desired that my people should develop scientifically and intellectually. Reading widened my horizons. I wanted to achieve something through action rather than waste time in idle fancies. I believed that what our people needed in future was action. The books that I read dealing with national liberation struggles conveyed one clear message to me: ‘A freedom fighter should be pure, selfless and ready to sacrifice himself for the people’. So I would say that the various books I read impelled me to struggle for the freedom of my people.

Q. Your childhood must have been totally different from that of today’s generation. Can you describe your childhood?

A. As a child, I was the pet and the darling of the family. Therefore I was hedged in by a lot of restrictions at home. My play-mates were the neighbours’ children. My ‘world’ was confined to my house and the neighbours’ houses. My childhood was spent in the small circle of a lonely, quiet house.  When I was studying in the 8th standard, there was an institution called the ‘Valvai Educational Institute’ functioning in my village, Valvettiturai. Some youngsters who had a higher education, wanted to develop my village; inspired by this ideal, they were running this Institute at Sivaguru Vidyasalai (also known as Aladi School) close to my home.  One of the services rendered by this institute was the provision of tuition at nights to students studying in the lower classes.

Mr.Vernugopal, a Tamil teacher from my village, used to din into our years that the Tamils should take up arms. He was an ardent supporter of the Federal Party’s Youth Front; later, feeling that the party was not militant enough, He teamed up with Mr.V.Navaratnam and was one of the founders of the ‘Suyadchi Kazham’ (Self-Rule Party). It is he who impressed on me the need for armed struggle and persuaded me to put my trust in it. My village used to face military repression daily.

Hence even as a child I grew to detest the Army. This hatred of military repression, combined with Mr.Venugopal’s persuasive stress on armed struggle and the thirst for liberation generated an inner dynamism within me and friends of my age flocked behind Mr.Vernugopal.  The swelling thirst for freedom led me, when I was a fourteen year school boy and seven like minded youngsters at our school, to form a movement with no name.

Our aim was to struggle for freedom and to attack the army. I was the leader of the movement. At the time the idea that dominated our minds was somehow to buy a weapon and to make a bomb. Every week the others would give me 25 cents they had saved from their pocket money.

I maintained this pool of savings till we had accumulated Rs.40/-. At this time we learned that a ‘Chandiyan’ (thug) in the neighbouring village had a revolver which he was prepared to sell for Rs.150/-. Determined to buy this revolver somehow, I sold a ring which had been presented to me during my sister’s wedding. It fetched Rs.70/-. Altogether we now had Rs.110/-. We had then to abandon our plan to buy this revolver as we couldn’t find the balance money.

This is how I spent my youth, filled with thoughts about struggle, freedom and the urge to do something for our people such a life of struggle; they should bear witness to the deep scars born of this life of struggle and convey the various currents of emotion generated in the course of the struggle. At the same time art and literature attain heights of excellence when they give birth to a consciousness of freedom, that priceless thing.

Only those creations which emphasise human values and have the uplifting of humanity as their goal can be considered as great art. I firmly believe that the literary resurgence emerging from the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle will produce great works which touch the summits of excellence in the future.

Q. One can observe our young fighters turning into creative writers. They write about today’s struggle and life on the battle-front. What is your opinion of this new trend which is enriching the literature of struggle and war?

A.Literature depicting our struggle is developing in Tamil Eelam, several of our young militants show a keen interest in creative literature. One can observe that some of these writings and works of art are of high quality. This is a good sign. With the passage of time, the accumulation of experience and the growth of maturity, one can look forward to excellent literary and artistic work being produced by our freedom fighters.

Our fighters have today become historic personages and are impelling history forward. When such people come to record the history of their time, it is bound to be authentic and sublime.  In the history of the Tamils, our era is a significant one. I consider it a very important duty of today’s creative writers to bring forth in art and literature the liberation struggle that is unfolding before our eyes today so that the next generation may be aware of this momentous freedom struggle.

Our militant cardres, I am confident, will turn out to be excellent creative artists in the course of time as they are growing up with a profound awareness of what struggle is like, and the realities of life in the war front; this will certainly enrich their experience and hone their insights into life. That’s why I keep on encouraging budding writers, artists and art lovers in our movement.

Q. You are taking a very keen interest in the welfare of small children whose lives have been adversely affected by the ethnic war and are formulating and implementing several schemes for their welfare. What is the reason for your taking a special interest in the future of these children.

A.I’m all afire to build up a nation; that is the life-ideal I have set for myself. The future generation is the foundation for the nation we hope to build. Therefore I consider bringing up the future generation and moulding its character and ideals as important as building up the nation. That is why I take so much interest in the future generation. My ambition is to mould a new generation of youth who will be the architects of our country’s future.

This new generation will be scientific-minded, patriotic, honest, decent, heroic, and possessed of a sense of honour, self-respect and dignity.  We have taken the small boys and girls who have been affected by the war into our fond embrace and are nurturing them. I do not consider them orphans or children bereft of kith and kin. They are the children of our mother land and they are flowers which have bloomed on our soil.

Just as we envisage our language and our soil as our Mother, I consider these as the children of the nation which is the mother of us all. I consider it our paramount duty to educate these children and bring them up on the correct lines as the architects of the future of our nation. That is why I pay very special attention to them.

(VELICHAM, April/May 1994)


Prabakaran’s spark and LTTE liberation struggle part 1,2,3

Prabhakaran’s Death Revisited

Via the legacy of Che Guevara and Col. Gaddafi

That Prabhakaran committed suicide cannot be provable, but is certainly believable, considering the above-listed five strikes against the probability that he was killed by an army sniper. If the Sri Lankan army offers sustainable evidences to negate the five strikes that I list above, then I will buy their version of Prabhakaran’s death.

The last time I wrote about V. Prabhakaran’s death was in June 2, 2010. It was entitled, ‘Dissecting Prabhakaran Death Story and Profiling the Liars’. After a span of 28 months, I revisit this issue, because three notable events have occurred during this period; (1) the killing of Libya’s long time ruler Col. Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, (2) publication of The Cage: The Fight for Sri Lanka & the Last Days of the Tamil Tigers by Gordon Weiss, UN spokesman in Colombo during the final stages of the war,  in May 2011, and (3) publication of Gota’s War book by C.A.Chandraprema in May 2012, which could be taken as the ‘official’ version of the Sri Lankan (SL) army, of how it concluded its war with the LTTE.


Before proceeding further, I do note that a constituency among Tamils believes that Prabhakaran is still alive. I do not belong to this constituency.  As such, I write this analysis on the available evidence that the LTTE leader died in May 2009. If Prabhakaran turns up alive somewhere at some time, millions may be shocked, but I will not be one of them. Also, please make sure to understand that I’m not an oracle. I’m a scientist who evaluates the available data and arrives at certain inferences. If some important data are missing, then I’ll arrive at an alternate inference. If such important data is presented, I’ll change my inference accordingly.

Some (especially the LTTE defectors, like Kumaran Pathmanathan, and their henchmen) may question whether the issue of Prabhakaran’s cause of death necessary and relevant. I do think so. Even 190 years after Napoleon’s death, still the mode of his death is debated and analyzed. Was it a natural death, or was he killed? There is no doubt that Prabhakaran was the nearest item Tamils had to that of Napoleon. Thus, in my view, his death deserves repetitive scrutiny.

The ‘Official’ Version of the Sri Lankan Army on Prabhakaran’s Death

Chandraprema’s Gota’s War book can be taken as representing the ‘official’ version of the Sri Lankan army on Prabhakaran’s death. Reasons are crystal clear. It is a partisan book, published with the blessings of Presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and the Sri Lankan army he represents. In my critical review of this book (presented earlier in this site), I omitted this topic. I quote the two paragraphs which deal with Prabhakaran’s death from this book (pp. 488-489).

“On the afternoon of 18 May, troops of the 59th Division accosted a group of LTTE cadres led by Bhanu and Jeyam and killed them. At dawn on the morning of 19th May, the 4thVijayaba battalion under Task force 8, sent in their first SIOT team into the last uncleared patch of land, a belt of mangroves by the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon around 800 meters long and 20 meters wide. There was a confrontation here with a group of LTTE stragglers and Ravipriya was told that about 20-30 weapons were heard firing from inside the patch of mangroves. He then inducted two more SIOT teams into the mangrove belt where they captured three individuals who revealed that Prabhakaran was in the mangroves with around 30 men. Upon hearing this, troops had fired into the mangroves until there was no more returning fire. Thereafter, troops had been sent in to search the mangrove swamp, and Prabhakaran’s body was found by a SIOT team leader.

His body was still warm when found indicating that he had just been killed. He had not shaved that morning and the faintest white stubble was visible on his face. His corpse was borne aloft on the shoulders of 4thVijayaba soldiers and brought for the senior officers to inspect. Brigadiers Jagath Dias, Shavendra Silva, Chagi Gallage and Kamal Gunaratne were all there to inspect the corpse of the terrorist who had led the world’s deadliest terrorist organization. Hundreds of delirious soldiers had been clambering on top of one another to catch a glimpse of the corpse. Later in the day, the former LTTE spokesman Daya Master and Karuna Amman were flown from Colombo to identify the body.”

Now, let me analyze the descriptions provided by Chandraprema. The last two sentences in the quoted first paragraph do indicate,

(1)  There was no eyewitness to record that Prabhakaran had been fatally shot and he died because of that one fatal wound to his forehead.

(2)  Even the “unnamed sniper” was not sure that he had targeted Prabhakaran specifically.

(3)  What was revealed in the last sentence of the first paragraph was that Prabhakaran’s body “was found” by a SIOT team leader.

(4)  No mention is made about the DNA testing and evidence (which was reported by the Colombo press) to prove that the body identified was that of Prabhakaran. Mention was made only that Daya Master and Karuna“identified the body”. It should not be forgotten that these two were LTTE defectors. To keep their necks save, they had to parrot-mouth the view of the Sri Lankan army and officials.

There are only four modes of human death. These are natural death, accident, homicide and suicide. There is no doubt that the first two modes (natural death and accident) can be eliminated as the cause for Prabhakaran’s death. Of the other two modes, the Sri Lankan army presented a case of homicide. In my view (considering all the evidence presented), the cause of Prabhakaran’s death had to be suicide.

October 9th marks the 35th death anniversary of Che Guevara (1928-1967), the Argentine-born physician, author and guerrilla leader. October 20th also marks the first death anniversary of Col. Muammar Gaddafi (1942-20111), the long-term ruler of Libya. Both were captured and killed. The exposed upper-body photos of their corpses, showing the wounds and blood did impress me to revisit the cause of Prabhakaran’s death in May 2009. After the posting of my previous commentary in 2010, via email, I conducted a discussion with a knowledgeable correspondent (who wishes to remain anonymous) whose erudition I respect much.  The following is the accurate transcript of our discussion.

Transcript of an E-mail discussion with a knowledgeable Correspondent

Sachi: May I ask your opinion? This relates to the death of Prabhakaran. You may have read the New Yorker commentary posted early this year by Jon Lee Anderson, and my rejoinder to that piece. He had mentioned that the photos of Prabha shown to him, had exit wounds – gaping hole in the skull. I’m puzzledby that note. From what had appeared in the internet, I noticed that both hands had shrinkage, as if soaked in water for many hours. In normal death, this type of tissue shrinkage cannot be noticed, I guess. I presume that he had committed suicide by taking KCN and what they had done was to show that he was killed, they had shot at his skull,after death. Though this is now an academic issue (as we don’t have access to his corpse), what I like to know from you is that, whether is it possible to check from the corpse, whether the gun-shot wound was while the person was alive or after death? I think that forensic specialists like Prof. Keith Simpson should have noted this topic. I gather that there is circumstantial evidence for my hypothesis.

(1) If Prabha was shot while alive, the Sinhala marksman would have become the hero, by bragging about it. As of now, no one had claimed this feat.
(2) Karuna, after inspecting the body, had deliberately stated that there was no cyanide vial on his body. This was to please his current sponsors. I would take the opposite of what Karuna had stated.

Correspondent: Soon after death (from what I can remember on Forensic Medicine by Keith Simpson) the skin shrinks due to dehydration. If the body had been in water as a result of drowning the skin may appear swollen/edematous. It is possible to distinguish gun-shot (head) injury inflicted when alive and after death. During life there will be bruising of the skin and subcutaneous tissues of the scalp and along the passage through the brain and at entry and exit areas for there will be blood flow in the vessels.  Soon after the death the vessels will be depleted of blood and most of it will track down to the dependent parts if the individual is lying on his back. Furthermore the blood would have clotted and there will not be any extravasation of blood into the surrounding tissues. Well as you said there is no way of proving it now.

Sachi: As a follow up to my previous response, herewith I attach the two photos of corpse of Prabhakaran, provided by SL military to the media. May I know, how you would interpret the whiteness in the hands and legs?

Correspondent: With death the heart stops pumping and the flow of blood in the vessels ceases. The blood will collect in the dependent parts of the body before the blood clots. If the body is lying on its back, the pooling will be evident in the flanks. You will note in the first photograph the little area that shows between the shirt and the pants is somewhat purplish blue. This discoloration is more so in the head- the lower part of the side including the ears.  This could be more than an artifact. The areas depleted of blood will be the non-dependent areas especially the extremities – the hands and feet and hence the ‘whiteness’ or’ pallor’. This will be the normal appearance after death. If the head wound had been inflicted when alive, death would have been instantaneous and there would have not been much bleeding and loss of blood externally. If the wound was inflicted after death the appearance as described above holds, that is the normal changes with death. In either case the appearances will be the same. If the wounds are such that could have caused a lot of bleeding so that the body is exsanguinated, the entire body may show a generalized pallor.

Sachi:I understood what you have described up to the penultimate sentence. But the last sentence, I cannot follow. Can you elaborate it a little? You mention ‘entire body may show a generalized pallor’, if what was supposed to be the fatal wound was inflicted after death. May I know, from the released photos, can one infer that the fatal wound was caused while the person was alive?  Another question: Can we also note that ‘the purplish blue’ you mention might have been due to cyanide poisoning? I don’t know how the body of cyanide poisoning victims looks like.

Correspondent: What I meant was that there is no difference in the autopsy findings in the appearance of the skin in the dependent parts following (i) normal death(ii) following the gun-shot injury to the head when alive and( iii) gun-shot injury after death. The color due the pooling of blood in the dependent parts is described as of a purplish -red or bluish-red. Probably this discoloration is largely due to the deoxygenated blood.  In potassium cyanide poisoning the color will be dark pink or brick red due to excess of oxyhaemoglobin and to the presence of cyanomethemoglobin in the dependent parts and can be confused with carbon monoxide poisoning where  it is cherry red due to carboxyhaemoglobin.

Re: the other point you raised, if there is extensive blood loss to be completely exsanguinated body will show a generalized pallor in that there will not be enough blood in the dependent parts to cause significant discoloration. You are more an expert in this than I am. My explanations may not be all that accurate.

Sachi: Thanks for the explanation. I get it now. It’s unfortunate we have no means of checking these details now!”

Comparison between the deaths of Che Guevara, Col. Gaddafi and Prabhakaran

Though 44 years separate the deaths of Che Guevara and Col. Gaddafi, one can deduce a similar pattern. From the videos that were released in the electronic media, we could note that Col. Gaddafi (while being alive) was ill-treated by his tormentors during his final moments. Then, after his death, his tormentors made sure that his upper body was made naked to be photographed. This was the same pattern we see in the released photo of Che Guevara too. We have not been shown such a treatment meted out to Prabhakaran, either when he was alive or for his corpse. The Reuter photo of Prabhakaran’s corpse, taken amidst the Sinhalese military men, shows a different pattern. There was no unruliness and his corpse was not ill-treated like the one we saw for that of Col. Gaddafi. Even though, Chandraprema had described that “hundreds of delirious soldiers had been clambering on top of one another to catch a glimpse of the corpse”, it appears that they did respect Prabhakaran’s stature in the battle field. Though Chandraprema had described it, as “corpse of the terrorist who had led the world’s deadliest terrorist organization”, the Sinhalese military men failed to defile his corpse instantly to the camera, by ripping open his upper garments. Why? One can call it, Buddhist norms in treating the dead with respect or that they were simply mesmerized by the legend of Prabhakaran who offered them a purpose in life, and bread and butter for their survival.

While the average Sinhalese foot soldier treated Prabhakaran’s corpse with respect, it was the higher-ups (Mahinda Rajapaka’s immediate circle), who defiled Prabhakaran’s corpse to boost their political prestige and they made the decision to dispose the remains in the sea, without offering the Tamils an opportunity to pay respect for the fallen leader. It has been the custom of Muslims to arrange for burial of the dead within 24 hours. But Col. Gaddafi’s defiled corpse was kept frozen for days. Why did the Rajapaksa clique opt for immediate disposal of Prabhakaran’s corpse? The simple reason was to hide their lies on the cause of death.

GordonWeiss’s book ‘The Cage’ (2011)

The back cover blurb of the book introduces Gordon Weiss as, “has lived in New York and worked in numerous conflict and natural disaster zones including Bosnia, Afghanistan, Darfur, and Haiti. Employed by the United Nations for over twelve years, he is now a visiting scholar at Sydney University and a correspondent for Australia’s The Global Mail, where he continues his investigative reporting on Sri Lanka.”

Well, I’m not so enamored by the descriptions provided by Gordon Weiss, because he has relied too much on SL military sources and anti-LTTE scribes (Tamils such as Rajan Hoole and D.B.S. Jeyaraj). While scanning his book, I’m reminded of a Douglas Catley limerick on a London prostitute. It is as follows:

A prostitute living in London
went pantless, with zippers all undone;
she’d explain: ‘Well, you see
I can do two or three,
While Ruby next door’s getting one done.’

Like this London prostitute, Weiss has done a job, covering three bases in one book; (1) covering the derriere of emaciated, inept UN officials (his employer Ban Ki-Moon, Vijay Nambiar and himself), (2) placing the blame for the tragedy on LTTE’s leadership, and (3) offering knuckle-tap punishment to the SL government.

The role of two LTTE defectors

The role of the two prominent LTTE defectors in 2009 (Daya Master and Selvarasa Pathmanathan) also deserves scrutiny. It appears to me that Selvarasa [aka Kumaran] Pathmanathan, who promoted himself as the LTTE leader after Prabhakaran’s death did not defect after his capture in Malaysia in August 2009. For whatever reasons known to him, he had defected before Prabhakaran’s death and prostituted his services to the LTTE’s adversaries. This I had suspected earlier (and had pointed out in my previous commentary published in this website on June 2, 2010), because the announcement of Prabhakaran’s death released simultaneously in Tamil and English, under the signature of Selvarasa Pathmanathan, differed noticeably in specific details. The final two sentences in the Tamil announcement mention, “We salute the all military leaders, maaveerars and the public who attained heroic death with our national leader. The details of the maaveerars who died in the war will be released so soon.” But no such closing sentences appear in the English announcement. In his media interviews after capture, Pathmananthan had been strangely silent on the specific date of his defection and the details of the maaveerars who attained heroic death. If he had defected earlier (i.e., before May 2009), Pathmanathan’s role in identifying Prabhakaran’s specific location in Mullaitivu to LTTE’s adversaries deserves condemnation.

Akin to Pathmanathan’s role, even the role of Velauytham Dayanithi (aka Daya Master) elicits suspicion. He was one of the prominent LTTE cadres (as media spokesman) who received medical attention for a heart ailment in Colombo, when the ceasefire agreement prevailed in 2006. It is an inevitable inference that he had been roped in by LTTE’s adversaries during this medical treatment period and returned to LTTE’s area with a work-order to provide vital details then needed by LTTE’s adversaries.  Daya Master did his job ‘perfectly’ and surrendered to the SL army in late April 2009, less than three weeks before LTTE’s military defeat.

One should also note the health complications dished out by the media folks for these two defectors. Daya Master suffered from heart ailment in 2006. Pathmanathan was a victim of diabetes around 2009. Now, we hardly hear about these health complications of these defectors. One syndrome they seems to be suffering from (then and now) is ‘Save-your-own-neck syndrome’.

My Inferences on the Available Evidence (as of now)

I list five strikes against the propagated version that a SL army sniper killed Prabhkaran. Probability of this version should increase if the following five strikes can be answered convincingly.

(1)  Repetitively ‘shifting’ stories released to the media by the SL army on the cause of death during May 17 (Sunday) to 19 (Tuesday), 2009.

(2)  Immediate destruction of forensic evidences by the SL army that can lead to a positive result on the cause of death. In case of Che Guevara and Col. Muammar Gaddafi, the corpses were preserved for external verification.

(3)  As of now, no ‘bragging’ evidence (such as ‘I’m the one who shot Prabhakaran’) has surfaced.

(4)  Lack of un-touched photographic evidence to prove that Prabhakaran was caught alive. If he had been caught alive like Che Guevara and Col. Muammar Gaddafi, his upper body would have been bared to the camera as a trophy item.

(5)  Even after 3 years, the ‘official’ government version (as presented in Gota’s War book) is bland and lacks specific details.

That Prabhakaran committed suicide cannot be provable, but is certainly believable, considering the above-listed five strikes against the probability that he was killed by an army sniper. If the SL army offers sustainable evidences to negate the five strikes that I list above, then I will buy their version of Prabhakaran’s death.

by Sachi Sri Kantha, September 2, 2012



defence.lk:Prabhakaran’s body found – Army Chief

Dissecting the Prabhakaran Death Story and profiling the liars

by Sachi Sri Kantha, June 2, 2010

What happened?Prabhakaran was killed.When it happened? On May 19, 2009.

Where it happened? In Mullivaikal, Mullaitivu region, north Sri Lanka.

Who killed him (the name of assassin)? No clear answer here.

Why he was killed? Because he was the leader of LTTE and the Sri Lankan army was in pursuit of his life.

How he was killed? No clear answer here.

A statesman is an easy man, He tells his lies by rote;
A journalist makes up his lies and takes you by the throat;
So stay at home and drink your beer and let the neighbour’s vote
Said the man in the golden breastplate under the old stone Cross.

William Butler Yeats, in his poem ‘The Old Stone Cross’(1938)

The lines of Yeats (whose 145th birth anniversary falls on June 13th), the 1923 Nobel prize literature laureate, is being proved again and again, repetitively. While recognizing the truth of Yeats’ foresight in linking statesman and journalists with their lies and how their lies stick in our throats in two beautiful poetic lines, let me say that the last word on LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s death has yet to be written. One wonders what we should perceive from the news item that appeared in the Hindustan Times with the date line Feb.23, 2010: Colombo, under the caption, “CBI requests more evidence on Prabhakaran’s death”. For those, who missed it, here is its complete text.

A body identified as that of the Tamil rebels’ leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, was carried Tuesday through Sri Lankan troops. [Reuter photo: New York Times, May 20, 2009]

A body identified as that of the Tamil rebels’ leader, Vellupillai Prabhakaran, was carried Tuesday through Sri Lankan troops. [Reuters photo: New York Times, May 20, 2009]

“Feb. 23–COLOMBO — The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has asked the Sri Lanka government to provide documentary evidence about the death of Tamil Tiger chief V. Prabhakaran, prime accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case of 1991. Prabhakaran is said to have been killed in the third week of May 2009 while fighting government troops. His death was formally announced on May 19. India had subsequently asked for a death certificate from Sri Lanka so that Prabhakaran’s name could be struck off from the list of accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.

The Sri Lankan foreign ministry had recently handed over a Colombo high court document — and not a death certificate — to the High Commission of India (HCI), confirming Prabhakaran’s death. It was a report compiled by the defence ministry here on the assassination of Sri Lankan foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar. It stated that the LTTE leader was killed near the Nandikadal lagoon on May 19. The report claimed Prabhakran’s death was confirmed following a DNA test. Through HCI, the court document was handed over to the CBI’s Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency, which is probing the case.

“The CBI has told me that they have received documentation from the government of Sri Lanka confirming the death of Prabhakaran,” Home Minister P. Chidambaram had said earlier this month in New Delhi. But sources in Colombo and New Delhi have told HT that the document given by Sri Lanka might not be enough to convince Indian courts to strike off Prabhakaran’s name off the accused list. So the MDMA then shot off another a letter in the second week of February asking for more proof.”

The unnamed “sources in Colombo and New Delhi” stated in the penultimate sentence of this report is a pain in the neck. One wonders why they cannot come out in the open? As three months have elapsed since February, I also wonder whether “more proof” has been delivered from Colombo to New Delhi, to conclusively strike off Prabhakaran’s name “from the list of accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.” Here are the major issues involved with this story.

(1) If Prabhakaran’s death was “formally announced” on May 19, 2009, why the delay in issuing a death certificate to the Indian authorities?

(2) The corrollary to this is more intriguing. The Sri Lankan authorities, despite their convincing show of ‘photographic evidence’ [some Tamils would say, that was dubious] and ‘DNA testing’, are not sure that Prabhakaran had ‘really’ died.

(3) There wasn’t any medically qualified person in the Sri Lankan army, navy and police, who could check a corpse, and write a ‘death certificate’ in English or Hindi. [see below]

(4) It’s as if the Indian intelligence were/are totally ignorant of what was happening in Mullaitivu, from January 2009 to May 2009, despite proof that mercenary Indian ‘support hands’ were working full-time in the Vanni region during that period.

(5) Some guys [politicians, military and journalists] have lied and they are scared of lie detection.

(6) What was the credibility of Selvarasa (Kumaran) Pathmanathan’s (KP) statement issued in May 2009, about the demise of Prabhakaran? Was KP’s statement in Tamil and English prepared by some ‘agency’ to dupe the media?

Did KP Lie?

I provide below, some of my observations made in May 2009 on the discrepancies between the Tamil and English versions of Prabhakaran death announcement dated May 24, 2009, released under the name of KP. Head of International Relations – LTTE. Both notices had appeared in the letter head “Department of International Relations, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam”. PDF files of both notices are provided for readers to study.

The very first impression I had on studying the Tamil notice was that the signature of S.Pathmanathan was in English! I thought this was somewhat strange, that Mr. Pathamanathan should have lived in exile for so long that he had forgotten his Tamil alphabets! Maybe a careless error on the part of Mr. Pathmanathan or who forged his signature for the Tamil notice. I list below some other discrepancies that I located between the English and the Tamil notices.

Item 1: The date of announcement. Check the Tamil notice. The month ‘May’ appears in English! in a glaring bold font. I’m used to writing the months in English format in letters. But, I usually use the Tamil alphabet.

Item 2: The caption and the sub-caption of the notices also differ from the English and the Tamil versions. The caption in Tamil version states “Tamil Eelath Thesiath Thalaivarukku Veera Vanakkangal”. In translation it should read, “Heroic Respects or salutes to Tamil Eela National Leader”. But the English version of the statement reads, “Mark of Respect for Our Supreme Leader”. No mention about Tamil Eelam or National Leader. The sub-caption in the Tamil version states “Thamil Makkalin Anaiyaa Viduthalai Sudar”. In translation it should read, “Indestructible Flame of Freedom of Tamil People”. But the English version of the subcaption merely states, “The Indestructible Flame of Freedom”, omitting the Tamil people altogether. Deliberate of omission of reference to Tamil people in the caption and sub-caption of English version cannot be inadvertent.

Item 3: Both the English and Tamil versions of the announcement carry five paragraphs, followed by a short concluding paragraph at the end. While the Tamil text mentions the name “V. Prabhakaran” in the first paragraph, the English text doesn’t mention the name! The English text begins with the sentence, “We announce today, with inexpressible sadness and heavy hearts that our incomparable leader and supreme commander of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam attained martyrdom…”. Focus on the decorative tagging, “our incomparable leader and supreme commander”; the Tamil equivalent of ‘our incomparable leader’ is missing in the Tamil text. The phrase ‘supreme commander’ can be translated into ‘thalaimai thaLapathi’.

Item 4: In the second paragraph, the Tamil version notes “kadantha 37 varudangalaaha” (literal meaning: ‘for the past 37 years’). The English version states, “For over three decades…” Why the specific number ‘37 years’ was omitted in the English version is somewhat thought-provoking.

Item 5: The fourth paragraph in the Tamil version make a specific quotation “ ‘Em Makkalukku urimaikaLLai petru koddungal’ enpathe avarathu iruthi vendukLLaha irunthirukkirathu.” (literal meaning: ‘The rights of our people deserve recognition’ was his final request.) But this cited specific quote of Prabhakaran is missing in the English version.

Item 6: The concluding paragraph in the Tamil version mentions that “Emathu thesiyath thalaivaroodu veerasaavaith thaLuviya anaithu thaLapathikaLLukkum maveerarkaLLukum makkaLLukum emathu veeravannakkathai seluthukirom. Im maveerarkal patriya viparangal viraivil veLiyidappadum enpathai ariyath tarukirom.” (literal meaning: To all other regiment leaders, maveerars and people who attained martyrdom with our national leader, we express our heroic salutes. We inform that the details about these maveerars will be released at the earliest.) In the English version, this information is missing! And it is substituted with the statement, “As we mark the life of our beloved leader let us also resolve that we will re-affirm our commitment to the goals espoused by him – dignity, equality and the right to self-determination of our people.”

As one who had professionally done translations, I note that translations are basically of two types. The first one, is word to word translation. The second one is translating the essence of the original into another language without distorting the facts and meaning. Either way one looks at the two texts provided by the “Department of International Relations” of LTTE, it becomes difficult to infer which was original (the English version or the Tamil version) and which was the translated text, as there are discrepancies between the two texts in facts and meaning. Could it be that one of the texts of the death announcement notice was a forgery? Or in an extreme case, that both texts were forged without internal consistency between them?

Tamil version here [pdf]

English version here [pdf]

What is a Lie?

I quote psychologist Paul Ekman (born 1934), a recognized authority on lie detection, from his book, Telling Lies: Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics and Marriage. “One person intends to mislead another, doing so deliberately, without prior notification of this purpose, and without having been explicitly asked to do so by the target.” Ekman further states, “There are two primary ways to lie: to conceal and to falsify. In concealing, the liar withholds some information without actually saying anything untrue. In falsifying, an additional step is taken. Not only does the liar withhold true information, but he presents false information as if it were true.” (p. 28). Below, I focus on the lies offered by the following:

President Rajapaksa’s ‘I don’t care’ Lie

D.B.S.Jeyaraj’s fabricated lie

Muralidhar Reddy’s Blind Lie

Sri Lankan army’s concealment Lie

Mia Bloom’s idiotic Lies

The Issue of Profiling the Liars

In this commentary, my prime focus is not on whether Prabhakaran is dead or alive. I’m interested in profiling the liars amongst us. The null view is: Prabhakaran is dead, as of May 19, 2009. The alternate view is: Prabhakaran is alive. As of now, I cannot assert that the alternate view is correct, as I don’t have any evidence for it. However, if Prabakaran is really dead, why those who insist that he is dead are hesitant to issue the ‘dead certificate’? Why are they stonewalling a legitimate assassination query? Is it really sensitive for Sri Lanka’s national security? This irks my curiosity and concealment diminishes the verity quotient (truth/past experience of leaked news by anti-Tamil sources). In July 1989, the news was leaked by India’s RAW gumshoes that Mahattaya (the then deputy leader of LTTE) had killed Prabhakaran in Vanni. In the aftermath of Dec.26, 2004 tsunami, the news was leaked by Sri Lanka’s official media that Prabhakaran had died in tsunami.

When I learnt Journalism 101 in Colombo during 1971 and 1972 (My two tutors were Sinhalese), I was taught that a complete news story should provide answers to 5W (what, when, where, who and why) and 1 H (how) questions. In completing this ‘Prabhakaran dead’ story, I cannot find answers to two amongst the six.

What happened? Prabhakaran was killed.

When it happened? On May 19, 2009.

Where it happened? In Mullivaikal, Mullaitivu region, north Sri Lanka.

Who killed him (the name of assassin)? No clear answer here.

Why he was killed? Because he was the leader of LTTE and the Sri Lankan army was in pursuit of his life.

How he was killed? No clear answer here.

For comparion, as a control, let us check the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

What happened? President Kennedy was killed.

When it happened? On November 22, 1963.

Where it happened? In Dallas, Texas, USA.

Who killed him (the name of assassin)? According to the Warren Commission report (1964), “The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Connally were fired by Lee Harvey Oswald.”

Why he was killed? No clear answer here (as of now).

How he was killed? Again, I quote the conclusions from the summary of the Warren Commission. “The shots which killed President Kennedy and wounded Governor Connally were fired from the sixth floor window at the south east corner of the Texas School Book Depository. This determination is based upon the following:..The nature of the bullet wounds suffered by President Kennedy and Governor Connally and the location of the car at the time of the shots establish that the bullets were fired from above and behind the Presidential limousine, striking the President and the Governor as follows: (1) President Kennedy was first struck by a bullet which entered at the back of his neck and exited through the lower front portion of his neck, causing a wound which would not necessarily have been lethal. The President was struck a second time by a bullet which entered the right rear portion of his head, causing a massive and fatal wound. (2) There is no credible evidence that the shots were fired from the Triple Underpass, ahead of the motorcade, or from any other location. The weight of the evidence indicates that there were three shots fired…”



Though there have been detractors and critics for this report, at least it provides minimally acceptable proof for President Kennedy’s death. Also we have autopsy report and a dead certificate issued by the White House. For reference, I provide scans of the two pages of White House dead certificate, signed by George Gregory Burkley, the physician to the President, on November 23, 1963. For Prabhakaran’s death, we don’t have an autopsy report and (if one believes the Indian Government) a dead certificate!

The American bureaucracy relies on lie detector test (despite controversy surrounding its use and its accuracy) for screening officials who had to protect ‘secrets’. In reality, we cannot perform lie detector tests on either Sri Lankan officials or Indian officials. The simple reason is that they will never be forthcoming to undergo such a test. But, there is an alternative. Psychologist Paul Ekman has provided us a checklist on lie detection. His checklist provide 38 questions in three sections (about the lie, about the liar and about the lie catcher). By attempting to answer these questions objectively from our past experiences on the behavior of liars, one (in the role of lie catcher) can evaluate the quality of the lie and the liar’s strength/weakness in perpetuating the lie.

If you wish, you can prepare score cards for President Rajapaksa, General Sarath Fonseka (who made the official announcement of Prabhakaran’s death), Vinayagamoorthy Muralidharan aka Karuna (who positively identified Prabhakaran’s corpse) and to KP (who acknowledged the death of Prabhakaran, on behalf of LTTE). The lie in this case: Prabhakaran’s death is real. Make a note that ‘the target’ referred to by Ekman, in this case, mostly refers to the Sinhalese commoners and international media.

Ekman’s Checklist on Lie Catching

[Section 1: Questions about the Lie]

1. Can the liar anticipate exactly when he or she has to lie?

2. Does the lie involve concealment only, without any need to falsify?

3. Does the lie involve emotions felt at the moment?

4. Would there be amnesty if liar confesses to lying?

5. Are the stakes in terms of either rewards or punishments very high?

6. Are there severe punishments for being caught lying?

7. Are there severe punishments for the very act of having lied, apart from the losses incurred from the deceit failing?

8. Does the target suffer no loss, or even benefit, from the lie? Is the lie altruistic not benefiting the liar?

9. Is it a situation in which the target is likely to trust the liar, not suspecting that he or she may be misled?

10. Has liar successfully deceived the target before?

11. Do liar and target share values?

12. Is the lie authorized?

13. Is the target anonymous?

14. Are target and liar personally acquainted?

15. Must lie catcher conceal his suspicions from the liar?

16. Does lie catcher have information that only a guilty not an innocent person would also have?

17. Is there an audience who knows or suspects that the target is being deceived?

18. Do liar and lie catcher come from similar language, national, cultural backgrounds?

[Section 2: Questions about the Liar]

19. Is the liar practiced in lying?

20. Is the liar inventive and clever in fabricating?

21. Does the liar have a good memory?

22. Is the liar a smooth talker, with a convincing manner?

23. Does the liar use the reliable facial muscles as conversational emphasizers?

24. Is the liar skilled as an actor, able to use the Stanislavski method?

25. Is the liar likely to convince himself of his lie believing that what he says is true?

26. Is she or he a ‘natural liar’ or psychopath?

27. Does liar’s personality make liar vulnerable either to fear, guilt, or duping delight?

28. Is liar ashamed of what liar is concealing?

29. Might suspected liar feel fear, guilt, shame, or duping delight even if suspect is innocent and not lying, or lying about something else?

[Section 3: Questions about the lie catcher]

30. Does the lie catcher have a reputation of being tough to mislead?

31. Does the lie catcher have a reputation of being distrustful?

32. Does the lie catcher have a reputation of being fair-minded?

33. Is the lie catcher a denier, who avoids problems, and tends to always think the best of people?

34. Is lie catcher unusually able to accurately interpret expressive behaviors?

35. Does the lie catcher have preconceptions which bias the lie catcher against the liar?

36. Does the lie catcher obtain any benefits from not detecting the lie?

37. Is lie catcher unable to tolerate uncertainty about whether he is being deceived?

38. Is lie catcher seized by an emotional wildfire?

Now, I provide a list of lies that I could detect, from the words of a ‘statesman’ (President Rajapaksa), two journalists (D.B.S.Jeyaraj and Muralidhar Reddy), the redoubtable Sri Lankan army and one academic (Mia Bloom).

President Rajapaksa’s ‘I don’t care’ Lie

To a question from Time magazine’s fawning reporter Jyoti Thottam, “How did he [Prabhakaran] die?”, Rajapaksa’s reply was, “ We know that he was shot – that’s all. I was not interested in finding out how he was shot, but whoever that was deserved some credit.” What kind to Commander-in-Chief is this guy? He couldn’t even tell the name of the army assassin who “shot” Prabhakaran. As of now (after one year), to the best of my knowledge, not a single army-navy soldier had come forward to brag himself as the ‘Sinhala Veeraya [hero]’ who shot Prabhakaran.

We don’t know whether Time magazine’s fawning reporter carefully observed the non-verbal behavior of Sri Lankan president’s eye, face and body. It appears to me from his response, he would tell her in choice Sinhalese epithet [‘Don’t bother me with that. Why are you asking me? You should ask Sarath Fonseka for the details.’] that the dumb journalist couldn’t decipher.

D.B.S.Jeyaraj’s fabricated lie

Let me present a vignette of ‘all-knowing, all-listening, all-tapping’ House of Hindu journalist D.B.S.Jeyaraj’s fabricated lie with imagery. Describing the final days of Prabhakaran, this journalist residing in Toronto (far from the battle ground in Mullaitivu, Eelam) described the scene as follows [The last days of Thiruvengadam Velupillai Prabhakaran, May 22, 2009 in his blog: http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/615%5D

“As the situation became increasingly perilous Prabhakaran’s point man overseas KP tried to salvage the situation. KP the LTTE’s former chief arms procurer proclaimed as wanted by Interpol was now the global tiger chief. Using perhaps the wheeler-dealer techniques learnt through hands on experience in the arms bazaars of the world the talented Mr. Pathmanathan tapped into his vast reservoir of contacts. In a remarkably short time span KP was interacting with many influential people. The diplomats of at least four western nations, UN functionaries in Geneva and New York, a foreign cabinet minister, a few prominent western journalists were all in touch with KP.”

Less than three months later, the same KP was trapped in Malaysia by the Sri Lankan goons with official accreditation, and he was dragged to Colombo. So what happened to those so-called ‘influential people – the diplomats of at least four western nations, UN functionaries in Geneva and New York, a foreign cabinet minister, a few prominent western journalists” who all were in touch with KP? Why they didn’t raise their voice strongly in support of KP against the hijacking drama perpetrated by the Rajapaksa clan? Did you hear anything about it? May be, KP’s “influential people” were all  figments of Jeyaraj’s fiction. He could hardly mention a single name. I could think of only Eric Solheim (a cabinet minister in Norwegian parliament) as one with whom KP may have talked. Who are these so-called “diplomats of four western nations”? Remember that the word ‘diplomat’ is an euphemism for gumshoes. So, KP may have interacted with gumshoes and they couldn’t pull him out of trouble in August 2009.

Muralidhar Reddy’s Blind Lie

The Chennai Hindu daily of May 20, 2009 presented a AFP photo with the purported body of Prabhakaran, that accompanied B. Muralidhar Reddy’s report, “Troops recover Prabhakaran’s body”. Below that photo, Reddy had described “the announcement came after the troops found the bullet-ridden body of Prabhakaran on the bank of the Nanthikadal lagoon…” Strangely, the photo that accompanied Reddy’s report does not show any “bullet-ridden” holes in the body! The New York Times of May 20, 2009 also presented a Reuter photo in which the head of the victim is hidden. But one cannot notice any “bullet-ridden body”. Two hands were partiallhy exposed in this photo, and even here, there aren’t any bullet wounds and blood.

Sri Lankan army’s concealment Lies

First I provide a news report from Colombo that appeared in the website of Outlook magazine (New Delhi) http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?660533, dated May 28, 2009. It was captioned, ‘DNAs of Prabhakaran, son matched: Lankan Military’. Then, I list a few questions, that points out concealment lies.

“Slain Tiger supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran’s DNA has matched with that of his elder son Charles Anthony, who too was killed in the fighting with security forces in Sri Lanka’s north, the military said today. ‘Army medical experts have confirmed that DNA tests on Prabhakaran (54) and his son Charles Anthony (24) have matched’, military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said.

His remarks came a day after the ‘Bottomline’ newspaper reported that Prabhakaran’s body was identified by his two former aides with the help of certain scars and birth marks. Federal Minister Vinayagamoorthi Muralidaran, alias Karuna Amman, one time close confidante of Prabhakaran, and Daya Master, the former LTTE media spokesman who had surrendered recently, identified the Tiger supremo’s body after he was killed on May 18, it said. ‘They identified and confirmed that the body recovered was that of Prabhakaran. Certain scars and birth marks had helped them in identificaiton. Thus, the Army was able to squash all rumours regarding Prabhakaran being alive,’ the newspaper said.

Army chief Gen Sarath Fonseka said that the LTTE supremo’s body had been cremated by Sri Lankan security forces in the island’s north. ‘We cremated the body in the same area (from where it was recovered) and threw the ashes into the (Indian) ocean,’ Fonseka told the Rivira newspaper in an interview.”

Now, to some questions, on this Sri Lankan army report.

(1) Who were the “army medical experts?” Why they couldn’t identify themselves? Are they really ‘experts’? or quacks? Now more than one year had passed, can they publish their results in a peer-reviewed international medical journal?

(2) What are the “certain scars and birthmarks”? Usually the exposed body parts of Prabhakaran’s body will be head, face, neck and two arms, unless if Karuna and Daya Master had taken a sauna bath with Prabhakaran or shared a bed. Those who have met Prabhakaran couldn’t tell an identifiable ‘scar or birthmark’, akin to Mikhail Gorbachev’s prominent birthmark in his forehead.

(3) If Prabhakaran’s parents who had given identified themselves to the army authorities on May 20, 2009, why the so-called ‘army medical experts’ did not have the common sense to check whether Prabhakaran’s DNA matched with those of his father and mother?

(4) Were Karuna and Daya Master free to provide an answer that was against the wishes of Rajapaksa clan? They had leashes on their necks and scrota. For their survival, they had to appease their new ‘savior’. Thus, their positive identification of Prabhakaran’s remains (even if it was true) was a forced one.

Mia Bloom’s idiotic Lies

Mia Bloom is an American academic (currently affiliated to Pennsylvania State University), and she is a terrorism bandwagon traveler. Her op-ed piece, captioned ‘What the Tigers taught Al-Qaeda’ appeared in the Washington Post of May 24, 2009. First, to attract publicity and funding for her career, she opted for an attractive caption linking LTTE with Al-Qaeda. This is like a cretin equating water with alcohol, based on superficial similarities. Her premise is faulty. Physically water and alcohol are liquids and their similarity ends there. Chemically, water (H2O) and alcohol (C2H5OH) have one oxygen atom, and their similarity ends there. Alcohol has two carbon atoms, which water doesn’t have. I deliberately choose this example for a reason: if LTTE is like water, the Al-Qaeda is like alcohol. The two ‘C’s in alcohol (i.e., Al-Qaeda) can represent (1) CIA connection, and (2) carbon (petroleum) funds. Water (i.e., LTTE) is devoid of CIA connection and carbon (petroleum) funds. Even linking LTTE with Al-Qaeda was not an original idea of Mia Bloom. This was promoted by Rohan Gunaratna, a well-known CIA conduit. As other intelligence analysts have pointed out in print and electronic media, Al-Qaeda was CIA’s baby. Can anyone say that about LTTE? To promote his career, Rohan Gunaratna fabricated this LTTE-Al Qaeda ‘connection’. One should also not forget that LTTE never ever targeted America or Americans in its career that was longer than Al Qaeda.

Secondly, Mia Bloom’s despicable ‘terrorism research’ is based on secondary or tertiary sources. Even at this, her fact-checking skills are dopey at best. In the referred article, she mentions, “ a female bomber Anoja Kugenthirarasah” who attempted to assassinate Lt.Gen.Sarath Fonseka on April 25, 2006. The location where this incident was supposed to have happened was ‘inside a tightly guarded army headquarters’ and she (initially identified as aged 21, from Vavuniya) couldn’t have entered that premise without an accomplice who was working there. By July, the Sri Lankan police had switched the assassin’s name to another Tamil woman Manjula Devi Kanapathipillai (aged 32, from Rambukkanna; see, Breakthrough in suicide bombings probe by Rafik Jalaldeen , Daily News, Colombo, July 6, 2006) recognizing its error in original report as a ‘mistaken identity’. But the July 6, 2006 story failed to mention the name Anoja Kugenthirarasah, and why this name was initially released to the media. Later, even there was suspicion whether the second identity of the assassin was true or not. Subsequently, the suicide-bomber story petered out. No proper investigations were concluded. I’d suggest Mia Bloom to check with President Rajapaksa and his siblings, how far investigations on the Sarath Fonseka assassination attempt of April 2006 have progressed.

Consulted Sources

Paul Ekman: Telling Lies – Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, politics and marriage. W.W.Norton & Co, New York, 1992. 2nd edition.

Paul Ekman: Why don’t we catch liars? Social Research, Fall 1996; 63(3): 801-817.

Report of the President’s Commission on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. US Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1964, pp. 18-19.



defence.lk:Prabhakaran’s body found – Army Chief

Black Tigers Day

Black Tigers Day Commemorated in Thamil Eelam with Public Meetings and Spiritual Rites

An elite force of the Thamil Tigers is the Black Tigers whose primary function is to safeguard the nation by scarifying their lives. The unit first launched when its leader, Captain Miller drove his truck fully loaded with explosives into the Sri Lankan Army camp in Nelliyadi of Yaazhppaanam on July 05, 1987, which killed nearly 100 soldiers. Thamil Eelam people commemorate this day with spiritual ceremonies and public meetings every year, on the day Captain Miller died, in all parts of Thamil Eelam. But the commemoration ceremony took place yesterday even in Sri Lankan Army controlled areas for the first time in the Liberation struggle.

Thousands of people participated in the events held on Friday in which senior LTTE leaders, religious leaders and local community leaders addressed several meetings held in various parts of Thamil Eelam to honor the 241 Black Tigers who died for the Thamil’s cause. Thamil Eelam Arts and Cultural Organization released audiocassette praising the Black Tigers.

In the ceremonies, the LTTE exhibited pictures of all 241 of them in public places for the people to respect. Thamil Eelam flags were hoisted all around the territory for the first time in front of their arch-enemy, the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. Posters were seen all around the places including the buses, taxis and privately owned mini vans.

A crowd marched all the way from Thandikkulam to Vavuniya City Center where a grand public meeting was held. Speakers praised the Black Tigers, as the armor of Thamils. They said the people who attended the meetings are good examples of how Thamil Eelam Thamils are yearning for freedom and they see the LTTE fighters as their genuine Liberation fighters. Thousands of people participated in Chettikkulam Stadium as well as in several cities including Maddakkalappu, Thirukkonamalai and Yaazhppaanam.

Eechchangkulam of Vavuniya Cemetery of LTTE cadres was re-opened yesterday as well. SL Armed Forces demolished the Cemetery in 1998. But local organizations re-erected the cemetery with the support of local residents.

LTTE senior leaders spoke at the meetings saying that some sections of Sri Lankan Armed Forces are causing panic and doubt by dishonoring the MoU signed by LTTE and SL government. But the LTTE fighters have remained patient since the SLMM would sort out the problems.

Courtesy: EelamNation (July 06, 2002)

Black Tiger day marked at site of first attack

Over five thousand people gathered in Nelliady in the Jaffna peninsula Friday to mark Black Tigers day – the first time the event had been held here since 1995. July 5 is the anniversary of the death of the first Black Tiger, Captain Miller, who was killed destroying a Sri Lanka Army base located in the Nelliady Madhya Maha Vidiyalyam – the site of the commemoration this Friday. His mother was amongst those who paid their respects to fallen Black Tigers.

The several thousand people marched in procession from Nelliady junction to the school to attend the event Friday evening. Mr. Arunan, head of the Liberation Tigers’ political section in Vadamarachi, lit the traditional lamp to start the event. Ms Malvilzi of the LTTE hoisted the Tamil Eelam flag.

The mother of Captain Miller, whose truck-bomb attack in 1987 killed scores of soldiers and stalled an SLA advance, also lit flame in remembrance. Mr. Paapaa, a senior official of the LTTE’s political section, garlanded the portrait of Captain Miller.

In his address, Mr. V. Balakumar, another senior LTTE official, said that the Liberation Tigers were committed to the ongoing peace process. He called on the Sri Lankan government to deal firmly with ‘saboteurs of the peace process’ amongst the armed forces.

Tamil Rebels Commemorate the Fallen Black Tigers

Sri Lanka’s separatist Tamil Tiger rebels are marking the 20th anniversary of their fallen Black Tigers. The rebels and the public are remembering the 322 Black Tigers – members who have killed themselves in attacks since 1987.

The first Black Tiger, Captain Miller, Killed himself in the ‘Black Tiger mission’ on 5 July 1987 in Jaffna, which was marked as Black Tiger Day. Captain Miller drove an explosive laden truck on Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops garrisoned in a public school in northern Jaffna Peninsula. More than forty soldiers were killed in that attack.

The day was commemorated throughout Northeast with special events. Uprising events, commemorations, and cultural events took place in rebel held areas. Posters displayed on the army controlled areas of the North and East were torn by the Sri Lankan soldiers according to media reports.



The main commemorative ceremonies are taking place in the Tigers’ stronghold of Kilinochchi, in the north of Sri Lanka. Rebels and residents of the town have been placing garlands on portraits of the Black Tigers – both men and women – killed in the attacks.



Rebels’ Political Head and other Military commanders including Col. Theepan of the Northern Frontier participated in the commemorative ceremonies organized in Kilinochchi. A children park was opened in the name of a fallen black Tiger, Lt. Col. Chandran in the rebel held town.

Speaking at the event, Mr. Thamilchelvan, the Rebels’ Political Head, praised the fallen Black Tigers as those who made their struggle known to the world. LTTE leader Mr. V. Pirapaharan also expected to participate in the Black Tigers commemoration day.

To date 322 Black Tigers including 90 females have given their lives as weapons in war according to the Rebels.

On Thursday, security was stepped up across Sri Lanka, amid government fears that the rebels would try to mark the day with an attack.

Jul 5, 2007

Tamils mark Black Tigers’ Day

Across the Vanni, Tamil people marked Black Tigers’ day by with traditional religious ceremonies, lighting oil lamps in prayer. Black Tigers are one of the LTTE’s elite fighting units, whose members execute missions which carry a high degree of risk and in some cases certain death.

Tamil households across the Vanni marked the 5th of July in remembrance of nearly hundred Black Tigers (including at least 16 women commandos) who have died in the past 10 years. Processions also carried the portraits of local volunteers who died in operations against the Sri Lankan military. The Tamil Eelam national flag fluttered in prominent places.

The parents of Black Tigers killed in action also participated in the ceremonies. Like their children, the parents are also revered by their local communities.

The 5th of July is the anniversary of one of the first Black Tiger deaths. Cpt. Miller drove a truck full of explosives into a Sri Lankan army base in July 1987. At least 120 soldiers were killed in the explosion and the ensuing ground assault. Miller was unable to get clear and was also killed in the blast.

Since then, several Tamil commandos have died in similar attacks. Some have survived, including another Black Tiger who drove his charges into a camp shortly after Miller’s attack. Black Tigers have destroyed several naval craft and military installations, killing several hundred Sri Lankan military personnel.

They are trained in escape and evasion tactics and have been able to penetrate the Sri Lankan government’s most secure installations. In March this year, at least 15 Black Tigers penetrated the sprawling SLAF base at China bay, Trincomalee. They destroyed several buildings and slipped away having rendered the airfield inoperable, whilst losing 3 of their commandos.

The Black (Sea) Tigers have successfully penetrated three of the Sri Lankan navy’s four main HQs, destroying several naval craft. The SLN has also lost several craft in engagements with the Black (Sea) Tigers, including the Shanghai class gunboat which went down with its 40 crew in July 1996.

Black Tigers’ identities are closely guarded. Having completed their training, they serve in regular LTTE units, concealing their membership. When called up for a mission, they take routine leave and if they survive, return to regular service again. Membership is only revealed if they are killed in combat.

The Sri Lankan government and press demonise the Black Tigers as fanatical ‘suicide bombers’ in an attempt to exploit Western discomfort with the concept, and to draw critical parallels with other parts of the world.

A British a film crew which met up with some Black Tigers in the east of the island last year, discounted government claims that the Tigers were irrational or drug-crazed. The Sri Lankan government tried unsuccessfully to prevent the film being shown in England.

In fact, the Black Tigers constitute a successful military unit which has inflicted disproportionately severe physical and psychological damage on the Sri Lankan military, the latter with the help of the Sri Lankan government’s own propaganda. The commandos are some of the LTTE’s best fighters and often have several years combat experience.

The LTTE intensified its campaign for independence following the island wide pogrom against Tamils in July 1983. Over 50,000 Tamil civilians have been killed in the government’s attempts to crush the Tamil struggle. In the 1977 elections, the Tamil people of the island voted overwhelmingly for parties supporting independence from Sri Lanka.

LTTE leader pays homage to Black Tigers

06 July 2008-TamilNet

LTTE leader Mr. V. Pirapaharan participated in the Black Tigers commemoration day events held Saturday in Vanni. 356 Black Tigers have laid down their lives, 254 of them in sea operations, during the last 21 years since 05 July 1987, when the first Black Tiger Captain Miller, drove an explosive laden truck on Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops garrisoned at Nelliyadi Central College in Vadamaraadchi in Jaffna. Last year, Black Tiger commandos stormed the Sri Lankan airbase in Anudradhapura in LTTE’s first combined Black Tiger and Tamil Eelam Air Force attack, destroying more than 10 air crafts.

BT Day, 2008

LTTE’s media unit released edited photos of LTTE leader paying homage to Black Tigers who died in their missions. Senior Commanders of the LTTE and other Black Tigers were present with Pirapaharan at an undisclosed location in Vanni. [Photo: LTTE]

Senior Commanders of the LTTE and other Black Tigers were present with Pirapaharan at an undisclosed location in Vanni.

76 of the 254 Black Sea Tigers who have died were female commandos. 81 male and 71 female Black Tiger commandos have died in ground operations.

Six music albums were published by Head of LTTE Intelligence Wing S. Poddu, Special Commander of the Sea Tigers Col. Soosai, Head of LTTE’s Military Intelligence Ratnam, Political Head B. Nadesan, Head of LTTE’s military academies Col. Aathavan and a commander of the Sea Tigers Naren in the event, Tiger officials told media in Vanni.

BT Day, 2008

LTTE leader paying homage to first Black Tiger Captian Miller [Photo: LTTE]
BT Day, 2008

Mr. Pirapaharan receiving the first copy of ‘Surprise Attack in Anuradhapuram’, a music album, from Poddu Ammaan, head of LTTE intelligence wing [Photo: LTTE]
BT Day, 2008

LTTE leader receiving the first copy of the Black Sea Tigers, vol. 12 music album. from Col. Soosai, special commander of LTTE’s naval wing. [Photo: LTTE]
BT Day, 2008

LTTE leader receiving the first copy of Black Tigers, volume 09, from LTTE Political Head B. Nadesan [Photo: LTTE]


Pirapaharan addresses Black Tigers in Vanni
05 July 2007

V. Pirapaharan, leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE) participated in a special commemoration event marking Black Tigers Day with several hundred Black Tiger cadres attending at the event in Vanni on Thursday, LTTE officials told media in Ki’linochchi. LTTE leader addressed the Black Tigers after lighting the flame of sacrifice at 7:05 p.m. the time of the death of first Black Tiger, Captain Miller. A total of 322 Black Tigers have been killed in action from Captain Miller´s death in 1987 until 30th June 2007, according to the Tamileelam Heroes Secretariat in Vanni.

Black Tigers Day

LTTE leader lit the flame of sacrifice among Black Tiger cadres in Vanni [Photo: LTTE]

Twenty years ago, on 5th July, 1987 LTTE’s first Black Tiger Miller drove an explosive laden truck on Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops garrisoned in a school in Vadamaraadchi, killing more than 40 SLA troopers.

Since his death, 81 Black Tigers, 63 men and 18 women, have died in action on land, and 241 cadres, 169 men and 72 women, have died at sea, according to the figures published by the Tamileelam Heroes Secretariat.

Black Tigers Day

Mr. Pirapaharan garlanding first Black Tiger Captain Miller’s picture frame. [Photo: LTTE]

Remembrance events were held in several areas in Vanni with sport events and public meetings for the past five days.

The first event commemorating the Black Tiger´s week was held in Kilinochchi Central College grounds presided by the Head of Federation of Tamil Organizations (FTO) Prabhakaran at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

Pon.Thiyagam, Director of Heroes Welfare Association, lit the common flame of sacrifice at the main event in Kilinochchi Monday at 9:00 a.m. Chief of Tamileelam Judiciary, Mr. Para, and several senior leaders of the LTTE, spoke at the event, according to sources in Vanni.

LTTE leader V. Pirapaharan commemorating fallen Black Tigers [Photo: LTTE]

Memorial archs commemorating fallen Black Tigers were set up on roads this week in Vanni [Photo: TamilNet]

Black Tiger Heroes photographs, displayed in a vehicle designed as a vessel, were taken in a procession in Pu’liyangku’lam [Photo: TamilNet]


05.07.05 NorthEast observes Black Tigers Day——————-LTTE leader pays homage to Black Tigers

TamilNet, Wednesday, 05 July 2006,
LTTE leader Mr. V. Pirapaharan participated in the Black Tigers commemoration day events held Monday in Vanni. 273 Black Tigers have died since July 05 1987 when LTTE’s first Black Tiger, Captain Miller, drove an explosive laden truck on Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops garrisoned in Nelliyadi in Vadamaradchi, Jaffna. 194 of the Black Tigers who died on their mission till 25 June 2006, were Black Sea Tigers, according to LTTE sources in Vanni.

56 Black Sea Tigers were women fighters and 18 of the 79 Black Tigers who died during attacks on land were women cadres, LTTE sources added.

Black Tigers

LTTE’s media unit released edited photos of LTTE leader paying homage to Black Tigers who died in their missions. Senior Commanders of the LTTE and other Black Tigers were present with Pirapaharan at an undisclosed location in Vanni.

A number of Black Sea Tiger divers have blown themselves up to destroy Sri Lanka Navy vessels.

Analysts have identified a third type of Black Tiger cadres referred as “Champion Black Tigers.” Very little is known about this special unit.

During the strategic LTTE operation on Elephant Pass (EPS) garrison, Black Tiger units destroyed artillery positions.

On 24 July, 2001, a major attack was carried out in Colombo on Colombo Air base, 8 military aircrafts of the Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) were destroyed.

The attack on Katunayake military base and the adjoining airport, is regarded as a landmark operation that brought Colombo to negotiation table.

The Black Tigers Day is observed in the NorthEast on July 5th.

Black Tigers are not referred to as suicide cadres, since all LTTE cadres carry a glass vial of cyanide to prevent being captured alive by the enemy.


Related Articles:
23.04.03 EPS fall: reassessing LTTE’s manoeuvre warfare prowess
24.07.01 Tension after dawn raid


NorthEast observes Black Tigers Day

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 05 July 2005, 16:28 GMT]
NorthEast Tuesday observed Black Tigers Day with sport events and public meetings, sources in Jaffna said. A main event was held Tuesday evening at Nelliyady Central College in Vadamaradchchi division in Jaffna district where on 5th July, 1987 Captain Miller, the first Black Tiger drove an explosive laden truck on Sri Lanka Army (SLA) troops garrisoned in the school. Forty soldiers were killed in that attack.

Hundreds of people including students and parents of Black Tigers killed in the war took part in a procession from Nelliyady Junction to the Central College with a Band Music leading the procession.

A float carried photos of Black Tigers.

Thousands of people lined up along both sides of the road and paid their homage to departed Black Tigers, sources said.

Mr.C.Ilamparithi, Jaffna district LTTE political head lit the common flame of sacrifice and Ms Kamaladevi Vallipuram lit the flame of sacrifice to the photograph of her son Captain Miller followed by Mr.Vinayagam, Commander of the Sea Tigers, Mr.K.Sivanesan, Jaffna district parliamentarians, Mr.Baliah, President of Tsunami Task Force and a Hindu priest.

Thereafter large number of people paid their homage by offering flowers in front of the photographs of Black Tigers.

In the morning event Mr.C.Inban, Vadamaradchchi division political head hoisted the Thamileelam national flag and Mr.N.Anbalagan, Sea Tigers Political Head garlanded the statue of Captain Miller.

Black Tigers Day events were held in Killinochchi where a procession carrying photographs of Black Tigers including Captain Miller and Captain Angayatkanni commenced from Killinochchi Kandasamy Temple premises, sources said.

Black Tigers day events were also held in Andanakulam, Pesalai and other areas in Mannar district.

In Trincomalee district the main Black Tigers day event was held in Sampoor in the LTTE controlled Muttur east from morning till midnight with sport activities, cultural items and public meeting.


05.07.05 NorthEast observes Black Tigers Day—————————-Northeast prepares to celebrate Black Tigers’ day

[TamilNet, Friday, 04 July 2003, 12:52 GMT]
Red and Yellow flags, decorative ornaments and picture boards adorned streets and junctions in key towns including Jaffna, Point Pedro, Vavuniya, Mannar, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu, projecting a festival atmosphere as Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and people of Northeast prepared to celebrate the Black Tigers day, Saturday, 5th July, sources said.

July 5 is the 16th anniversary of the death of the first Black Tiger, Captain Miller from Thunnalai in Vadamaradchi, who was killed destroying a Sri Lanka Army (SLA) base located in the Nelliady Madhya Maha Vidyalayam, 3 km southwest of Point Pedro in 1987.

LTTE’s Heros’ Office informed that todate 241 black tigers have sacrificed their lives.

Several pageants have been organized to carry pictures of black tigers to be taken in procession across several areas in the Northeast, the LTTE office said. Prayer meetings will be held at predetermined venues when the pageants arrive at these venues.

Celebrations will involve raising of Tamil eelam national flag, lighting of sacrificial flame, placing flower garlands to pictures of Black Tigers followed by music and cultural events, according to organizers.

Senior Military Commanders of the LTTE, and parents and close relatives of the black tigers will participate in the ceremonies added the Black Tiger day organizers.

Black Tigers’ identities are closely guarded. Having completed their training, they serve in regular LTTE units, concealing their membership. When called up for a mission, they take routine leave and if they survive, return to regular service again. Membership is only revealed if they are killed in combat.

The Sri Lankan government and press demonise the Black Tigers as fanatical ‘suicide bombers’ in an attempt to exploit Western discomfort with the concept, and to draw critical parallels with other parts of the world.

A British film crew which met up with some Black Tigers in the east of the island in 1996, discounted government claims that the Tigers were irrational or drug-crazed. The Sri Lankan government tried unsuccessfully to prevent the film being shown in England.

In fact, the Black Tigers constitute a successful military unit which has inflicted disproportionately severe physical and psychological damage on the Sri Lankan military, the latter with the help of the Sri Lankan government’s own propaganda. The commandos are some of the LTTE’s best fighters and often have several years combat experience.


Related Articles:
06.07.02 Black Tiger day marked at site of first attack
05.07.01 Security stepped up for Black Tigers day
05.07.00 Black Tiger day commemorated
06.07.99 Batticaloa marks ‘Black Tiger’ day
06.07.97 Tamils mark Black Tigers’ Day


Black Tigers day celebrated in Vavuniya

[TamilNet, Saturday, 05 July 2003, 09:40 GMT]
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) Head of Vavuniya Political Wing, S, Elilan, garlanded and placed flowers to the memorial stone of Lt.Colonel Bork who died in the 1990 attack on Mankulam Sri Lanka Army (SLA) camp, during the Black Tigers day celebrations in Vavuniya, Saturday, Vavuniya residents attending the celebrations said.

Vavuniya district administrator of Heros’ cemetaries, Adaikan Selvarajah, similarly flower garlanded memorial stones of Captain Kalaichelvan and Captain Mathumitha during the ceremonies.

Black Tiger day celebrations in started with Elilan hoisting the Tamil Eelam flag at the Eechankulam Heros’ Cemetary. Selvarajah lit the ceremonial lamp.

black tigers day LTTE’s Vavuniya Political head Mr.S.Elilan is seen garlanding Black Tiger Lt.Col.Bork’s “Nadukal” at the Eachchankulam Maveerar Thuyilum Illam. Lt.Col.Bork (Mapanapillai Arasaratnam of Arumuhathan Puthukulam Vavuniya) was killed on 23.11.1990 when he helped destroy the entrance to strategic Mankulam SLA camp

Vavuniya town was decorated with yellow and red flags; important street corners large picture boards of Black Tigers. Vehicles in the district carried flags with black tigers’ insignia.

Businesses in Vavuniya closed at 1 pm as a mark of respect. In schools and in several business premises students and workers paid respect to black tigers memorial photos sprinkling flower petals.

Armored vehicles of SLA patrolled the streets of Vavuniya during Friday night. Masked men were seen pasting leaflets over the Black Tiger day celebration announcements. Black Tiger memorial announcements again appeared in the same positions Saturday morning. Vavuniya residents said that although opposing factions were active no altercations were reported.

black tigers day A scene of a street in a remote village in Vavniya district on the 5th morning

Black Tigers’ identities are closely guarded. Having completed their training, they serve in regular LTTE units, concealing their membership. When called up for a mission, they take routine leave and if they survive, return to regular service again. Membership is only revealed if they are killed in combat.

The Black Tigers constitute a successful military unit which has inflicted disproportionately severe physical and psychological damage on the Sri Lankan military, the latter with the help of the Sri Lankan government’s own propaganda. The commandos are some of the LTTE’s best fighters and often have several years combat experience.




Commmorative structure made for the Black Tigers Day on July 5 2005 in Nelliady, Jaffna, Sri Lanka.

Memorial gallery with photos of killed Black Tiger cadres.

These two images shows a small commmorative structure made for the Black Tigers Day on July 5 2005 in Nelliady, Jaffna, Sri Lanka and a gallery of LTTE Black Tiger cadres.

Copyright © belongs to Wikimedia Commons user Ulf Larsen, all rights reserved. They are published here with the kind permission of the author. Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met: redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, with the name of the uploader, and this list of conditions; Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, with the name of the uploader, and this list of conditions in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution; Neither the name of the uploader nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

The LTTE maintains a web site with several images of memorial statues and constructs, but the image gallery doesn’t include any information

Tension after dawn raid

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 24 July 2001, 08:47 GMT]
Thirteen air crafts including two Kfir jet fighters, one MI-24 Helicopter gun ship and one MIG-27- jet fighter were destroyed in the predawn attack on the Katunayake air base, about 35 km. north of Colombo, by members of the Liberation Tigers, according to official military sources in Colombo.

Three military trainee planes and five civilian jets were also among the destroyed air crafts.

Military sources in Colombo said several ammunition dumps and oil storage were also destroyed.

They said 12 attackers and 4 Air Force personnel have been killed. Nineteen air force personnel were also wounded.


Residents living close to the air base said large explosions rocked the area and gun battle continued for nearly four hours.

Sri Lankan military authorities have declared an indefinite curfew in several areas in the Negombo district. “The activities of the International airport have been temporarily suspended” a government special communiqué said this morning.

The temporary closure of the international airport has been notified to international airlines, according to the Director of Civil Aviation, Lal Liayanarachchi.


Katunayake, Negombo, Minuwangoda, Divulapitiya, Seeduwa and Jaela police areas are now under curfew, security sources said.

Meanwhile no one is allowed to enter Colombo harbour Tuesday morning as a precautionary measure, following the attack on Katunayake said sources.

President Ms Chandrika Kumaratunge Tuesday morning held an emergency meeting with chiefs of three armed forces and the Inspector General of Police following the attack.

Earlier the Deputy Minister of Defense General Anuruddha Ratwatte inspected the airforce base accompanied by the Defense Ministry Secretary Chandrananda de Silva, President’s Secretary K. Balapatepandi, chiefs of three armed forces and the Inspector General of Police


Prabhakaran’s Tigers and Mandela’s Spears Part 9

“The ideals we cherish, our fondest dreams and fervent hopes may not be realized in our lifetime. But that is besides the point. The knowledge that in your day you did your duty, and lived up to the expectations of your fellow men is in itself a rewarding experience and magnificent achievement.”

Part 1

Wikiality Doping Syndrome and Wikiality Anti-Doping Effect

In part 8, I introduced the Wikiality Doping Syndrome (WDS). In this final part, I introduce a corollary to WDS. It is, Wikiality Anti-Doping Effect (WADE). If doping in its original sense (used in science) means addition of impurities at selected amount at selected spots for better performance, its corollary WADE means, subtraction or elimination of impurities at selected amount at selected spots for better performance in analytical studies, books or magazine reports. Both WDS and WADE are like two sides of the same coin. One of the best examples of WADE is the omission of the roles of collaborators or spoilers in the conflict between the dark networks and their adversaries (the power-wielding state system). In their comparative study on dark networks, Rene Bakker and colleagues have omitted the roles of black collaborators such as Zulu chief Mangasothu Buthelezi who worked against the MK; in case of the LTTE, while providing a positive twist to the collaborator role of betrayer Colonel Karuna on behalf of Sinhalese government, they had excluded the spoiler role played by the Muslims on behalf of the Sinhala state.

By such omission and positive twisting of facts, the academics inflate the prestige of the state and thereby simultaneously paint negative profiles of dark networks (MK and LTTE) which were forced to effectively neutralize the contributions of such collaborators or spoilers for their own survival. Any violence which occurs between collaborators or spoilers who support the state and the dark networks were/are presented and counted as negatives for the latter. Academics and analysts, without any understanding of the ground situation, interpret such Black on Black violence (in case of MK) or Tamil on Tamil violence/Tamil on Muslim violence (in case of LTTE) with verve to tarnish the images of dark networks.

During its pre-1994 period, MK had to face violence from collaborators or spoilers supporting the cause of Zulu Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Prior to his first trip to USA the Time magazine [June 25, 1990] interviewed him. I reproduce his answers to two questions relating to black on black violence, and provide a scan of this interview nearby.

Mandela interview TIME June 25 1990Q: Why have you not been able to end the fighting in Natal?

Mandela: If it were a question of conflict between Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkatha [movement] and the ANC, we would have solved this matter long ago. But my problem is the government, because what is happening in Natal is no longer a clash between the ANC and Inkatha. The government has taken advantage of the clash between the two organizations to crush the ANC and eliminate its membership in Natal. I have asked De Klerk the simple question, Why has the government failed to suppress that violence for more than 4 1/2 years, and when almost 4,000 people have died? And De Klerk has never been able to give me a satisfactory answer.

Q: Wouldn’t it help if you meet with Buthelezi? It is an important question.

Mandela: It is not important to us. There are six homeland leaders in South Africa. We are working with five. What is the importance of Buthelezi? I don’t see it.”

For its entire duration, the LTTE had to face violence from collaborators or spoilers belonging to other listless Tamil militant groups (an alphabet soup of TELO, PLOTE, EPRLF, TNA, EPDP) aided by the Indian and Sri Lankan operatives, and the Muslim paramilitary factions aided by Sri Lankan operatives. LTTE’s offensive actions were twisted by the Sri Lankan government’s official and unofficial mouthpieces as despicable.

Optimists of an Unusual Type

One positive trait which has been shared by Mandela and Prabhakaran was extreme optimism when the chips are down and loaded against them. In his autobiography, Mandela had written about this trait as follows:

“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lay defeat and death.”

Newsweek interview Veluppillai Prabakaran Prabhakaran August 11 1986 The Eye of the TigerIn his interview to the Newsweek magazine in 1986, Prabhakaran answered two posed questions as follows:

Question: How many troops do you have under your command and where do they train?

Prabhakaran: That’s a secret. I can tell you we are strong enough to take on the 51,000-strong Sri Lankan military and well enough equipped to carry on protracted guerrilla warfare.

Question:  Why do you think LTTE has taken on the lead among other guerrilla groups?

Prabhakaran: Discipline and order are most important. We emphasize personal morality and a sense of patriotism. Our cadres carry cyanide pills with them to avoid falling into enemy hands. Most of all, the people are behind us.”

Mr. Thiruvengadam Velupillai (1924-2010) father of LTTE leader Prabhakaran Prabakaran http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_orHurCodGB8/S0rfeFt4riI/AAAAAAAAF6U/qgWnABfs7TI/s400/tamilmakkalkuralblogspot.com.jpg

Mr. Thiruvengadam Velupillai (1924-2010);father of LTTE leader Prabhakaran

Then, Prabhakaran was only 31 years. For the next 22 years, despite severe odds (backstabbing by Indian punditry, betrayal by a handful of his juniors, paranoia of Uncle Sam, Sri Lankan military’s dependence on foreign mercenaries and hostile media notices) he did live up to his words and ideals.

Tiger Debate in the Robben Island Prison

One item which distinguished Mandela from other run-of-the mill politicians is that he was a solid thinker. He could even make the best use from a worst situation. About his long years in prison, he had written,

“There is no prospect about prison which pleases – with the possible exception of one. One has time to think. In the vortex of the struggle, when one is constantly reacting to changing circumstances, one rarely has the chance to carefully consider all the ramifications of one’s decisions or policies. Prison provided the time – much more than enough time – to reflect on what one had done and not done.”

He also had noted that “We were constantly engaged in political debates. Some were dispatched in a day, others were disputed for years.” One particular issue, which engaged their minds was about tiger [Note by Sachi: the four-legged mammal]. To quote,

“One subject we hearkened back to again and again was the question of whether there were tigers in Africa. Some argued that although it was popularly assumed that tigers lived in Africa, this was a myth and they were native to Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Africa had leopards in abundance, but no tigers. The other side argued that tigers were native to Africa and some still lived there. Some claimed to have seen with their own eyes this most powerful and beautiful of cats in the jungles of Africa.

I maintained that while there were no tigers to be found in contemporary Africa, there was a Xhosa word for tiger, a word different from the one for leopard, and that if the word existed in our language, the creature must have once existed in Africa. Otherwise, why would there be a name for it? This argument went round and round, and I remember Mac [Maharaj] retorting that hundreds of years ago there was a Hindi word for a craft that flew in the air, long before the airplane was invented, but that did not mean that airplanes existed in ancient India.”

Welikade Jail prison massacre July 1983 Tamil Times Sri Lanka Barbarism Back with Vengeance The July Massacre and After

Prison life in apartheid South Africa and ‘Sinhala-Only’ Sri Lanka

I should note that whatever the demerits of the apartheid policies practiced in South Africa from 1948 to 1994, Mandela and quite a number of his fellow inmates were able to return to regular life with their sharp minds intact, after being held in prison for 27 years. There were a few exceptions though such as anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko (1946-1977) who died while in police custody. But, if recent history holds, one would be hard pressed to agree that the Tamil political prisoners or detainees who were held in racist Sri Lankan prisons would be lucky like Mandela and his fellow inmates to return to regular life. Even now, secrecy is the order of the day relating to the fate of thousands of LTTE cadres who were taken as prisoners in May 2009. Notably, LTTE leader Prabhakaran’s father Thiruvengadam Velupillai died on January 6, 2010 at the age of 86, while being held under special military custody by the Sri Lankan authorities. The case of Selvarasa (Kumaran) Pathmanathan, alias KP, who had a ‘100-day run’ as the self-appointed LTTE leader (between late May and early August 2009) is pathetic too. After being caught in Malaysia and brought to Colombo and held in military detention (prison), he quickly morphed into a collaborator zombie with a noose around his neck. It is simply evident to all, that despite his occasional promotion interviews to carefully screened print and TV journalists brought by the courtesy of presidential sibling Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, KP was no Mandela in spirit or thoughts! One of my cynical colleagues had posed a question, why we are not presented a combined interview of two LTTE collaborators Col. Karuna and KP, sitting side by side?

In July 1983, 58 Tamil detainees held in high security Welikada prison (in Colombo) were bludgeoned to death by fellow Sinhalese inmates, aided and abetted by others who were in charge of the prison. As I checked the Wikipedia (on April 21, 2012), there exists a brief entry (as a stub) about this Welikada prison massacre of Tamil detainees, in which the names of detainees who were killed are missing. So that their deaths will not be erased out from history, I reproduce their names below. Some names are incomplete and a few (such as Arafat) are nick names. Unfortunately, I don’t have information about their ages, with the exception of a few like Dr. Rajasundaram and Kuttimani. As the Tamil Times (London) editorialist had noted, “It is also not an accident that they were young and youthful except for the Gandhiyam leader, Dr. S.Rajasundaram, who was in his forties.”

39 Detainees who were killed in Welikada prison on July 25, 1983

Selvaraja Yogachandran alias Kuttimani

Nadarajah Thangathurai




Sivan Anpalagan


Suresh Kumar




P. Mahendran



K. Uthayakumar

S. Sivakumar

A. Rajan

S. Balachandran

Yogachandran Killi

S. Subramaniam

Mylvaganam Sinniah

G. Mylvaganam

C. Sivanantharajah

T. Kandiah

S. Sathiyaseelan




Gunapalan Ganeshalingam

Anpalagan Sundaran

Ramalingam Balachandran


K. Krishnakumar





Sittampalam Chandrakulam

Navaratnam Sivapatham alias Master

19 Detainees who were killed in Welikada prison on July 27, 1983

Dr. Somasundaram Rajasundaram (1943-1983)

Muthukumar Srikumar

Amirthanayagam Philip

Kulasingam Kumar

Selachami Kumar

Kandasamy Sarveswaran


Sivapathan Neethirajah

Devanayagam Paskaran

Ponnaiya Thurairajah alias Thankathurai

Gnanamuthu Navaratnasingham

Kandiah Rajendran alias Robert

Somasunderan Manoranjan

Arumugam Seyan alias Appu

Thamotharampillai Jagemoganandan

Sinnathambi Sivasubramaniam

Sellay Rajeratnam

Kumarasamy Ganeshalingam

Ponnampalam Devakumar

For record, I should also add that Douglas Devananda (born in 1957, the infamous Tamil collaborator) was also one of the survivors of the July 1983 Welikada prison massacre. At that time he was only 25. One can infer that though he survived with a near-death experience, such a trauma had twisted his mental wiring drastically to such as extent that he changed into a collaborator. He was no Mandela either.

Tamils in Detention Tortured & Killed The Guardian London June 22 1987

On the treatment meted out to Tamil prisoners or detainees in the 1980s, Robert Kilroy-Silk (a former Labour Party member of British parliament) contributed an opinion piece to the Times (London) in mid-1987, nearly 8 days before the first suicide bomb attack initiated by LTTE in Jaffna. It vividly describes the sentiments felt by young Tamils then. While providing an entire scan of this vital document for record, I focus on three paragraphs (marked by me in red box) below for the reason that I have not come across this type of state-sponsored terrorism being cited as one of the foremost reasons for the origin of suicide bombing in the pontifications of WDS-afflicted scholars and analysts. Kilroy-Silk, after visiting one of the prison camp had written,

“This alienation of the Tamil community has been increased by the way the emergency and anti-terrorist powers have been indiscriminately and ruthlessly applied. It was never necessary, for example, to round up all the men aged between 16 and 35 everytime a terrorist incident occurred in their locality. It was totally unjustifiable to carry them off to the army camp hundreds of miles south of Boosa. It was indefensible to beat and torture them. But it was done, and still is.

Robert Kilroy-Silk oped The Times London June 27 1987 Incitement to Terrorism Sri Lanka Tamils alienationWhen I visited the camp the prisoners were cowering and afraid. Though the physical conditions of the camp were acceptable and all the prisoners spoke well of their military jailers, many could, nevertheless, point to the scars on their buttocks and backs where they had been beaten, could show off the places where cigarettes had been stubbed out on their bodies and could tell of being hung by the feet over chilli fires and of having pins pushed down their fingernails.

What made it all so much more tragic was that so many of them were innocent of any terrorist intent, let alone action, as the government’s own advisory board set up to review each case confessed. The round-ups, the beatings and the prolonged detentions probably acted as a greater and more efficient recruiting sergeant for the terrorists and their cause than all the ideological blandishments of the Tigers.”

Kilroy-Silk’s account was corroborated by the Amnesty International as well. I also provide a scan of the news item that appeared in the Guardian (London) around the same period. As one would expect, Lalith Athulathmudali, the then Minister of National Security, had denied the allegations without a fuss stating that the descriptions offered were inaccurate and inadequate evidence!

End Note

In contrast to the conclusion of Bakker et al. (2012) on resilience of dark networks, my conclusion is as follows. By virtue the advantages it had (the principal reason being that blacks are the majority in South Africa), MK was incorporated into the reformed South African military set up in 1994. By virtue of its disadvantages (the principal reason being that the Tamils in Sri Lanka being a minority), LTTE lost its military resilience in 2009. For military viability, an army should possess ‘unified C4ISR’ (in Pentagonese English). The four Cs are command, control, communications and computers; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance stand for ISR. To its credit, LTTE was on par in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance with its chief adversary, the Sri Lankan military apparatus manned by paid mercenaries from Pakistan, India, and Ukraine. Even among the four Cs, LTTE had a remarkable record in command and control. While LTTE had only Prabhakaran as its chief field commander, Sri Lankan adversary had to rotate 12 chief field commanders and 5 tyrants as commander in chief. But, LTTE was sadly handicapped during Eelam War 4 in other two Cs; namely, communications (GPS technology) and computers.

I’ll let Mandela to have the last word as a tribute to the separate state campaign put up by LTTE. What he wrote, while inside prison, in a letter applies to LTTE’s achievement too. To Sheena Duncan (1932-2010), in a letter dated April 1, 1985, Mandela wrote,

“The ideals we cherish, our fondest dreams and fervent hopes may not be realized in our lifetime. But that is besides the point. The knowledge that in your day you did your duty, and lived up to the expectations of your fellow men is in itself a rewarding experience and magnificent achievement.”

Sheena Duncan, the recipient of Mandela’s letter, was an anti-apartheid activist, and leader of Black Sash, a white woman’s anti-apartheid organization. She had founded her organization in 1955. Though I have focused only on Prabhakaran’s skill as the leader in this series, Mandela’s sentiments do apply to all the brave LTTE cadres (who were killed, tortured, kept in prison/detention and called names as ‘terrorist’) and the sympathizers, who followed Prabhakaran’s dreams and hopes.

Cited Sources

Anon: Massacre of Tamils in Jail. Tamil Times (London), July 1983, vol.2, no.9, p.8.

Anon: China’s military rise (cover story), Economist, April 7, 2012, pp.23-26.

Bakker R.M., Raab, J. and Milward, H.B: A preliminary theory of dark network resilience. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2012; 31: 33-62.

Kilroy-Silk, R: Incitement to terrorism. The Times (London), June 27, 1987.

MacLeod, S: An Interview with Mandela. Time, June 25, 1990.

Mandela, N.: Long Walk to Freedom –the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Little Brown and Co, Boston, 1994, pp. 429-431.

Mandela, N: Conversations with Myself. Picador, New York, 2010, pp. 242-243.

Murtagh, P: Tamils in detention ‘tortured and killed’. The Guardian (London), June 22, 1987.

by Sachi Sri Kantha, April 23, 2012


Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8



Sencholai – Children’s Home

Tamil Eelam – a De Facto State

 Sencholai – Children’s Home

Leader of  LTTE, Velupillai Pirapakaran
opens new Senchcholai campus in Kilinochchi

15 January 2006

Leader of Liberation Tigers, V Pirapaharan, opened the new Sencholai campus, a children’s home established to care for children who had lost both parents in the war, at a location in Kilinochchi in a ceremony held Sunday,  15 January 2006.

The facility contains several residential blocks for girls. An adjoining facility for Kantharoopan Arivuchcholai, a home for boys, is expected to be completed soon, according to Senchcholai officials.

The new campus contains eleven residential blocks for different age groups for the 245 girls of age 3 and older cared for by Senchcholai staff. It also contains a special block for infants, dining, study halls and two kitchens.

The campus also has an administration block, a skill development center, a cultural hall, a health center and a library. A large park separates the Senchcholai campus from the future Kantharoopan center.”The program for building the campus started in June 2003 and we have completed the project in the targeted 18 months. Although plans of adding computer facilities, audio-visual facilities and other features to our campus still remain to be accomplished, we are all pleased to see the major phase of the project come to completion,” said Janani.

Senchcholai was founded in 1991 in Sandilipay, in Jaffna district. Prior to and since the exodus of Tamils from Jaffna Peninsula in 1995, children of Senchcholai have been displaced and relocated atleast four times, Director of Senchcholai, Janani (nom de guerre Sudarmahal) said.

Currently Sencholai is located in Vallipunam near Viswamadu and along Iranaimadu Road in Kilinochchi. These buildings are more than eight years old, and have only basic study, kitchen facilities.

Children of war in battle of life -
Children at Sencholai are from both the North and the East
Caught in the cycle of a protracted war these little victims have found refuge in two homes
- Sencholai and Kantharuban- run by the Tigers Children of war in battle of life

Sunday Times, 16 June 2002

The sleepy village of Vallipuram lies between Paranthan and Puthukudyiruppu. Most of the interior is thick jungle. Farmlands have sprung up in a few clearings. This is only after Tiger guerrillas withdrew from the Jaffna peninsula in late 1994, in the wake of “Operation Riviresa.”

Adjoining a guerrilla base and a school, some 11 acres of the jungle have been selectively cleared. Huge trees like Kohomba and others that provide valuable timber have been allowed to remain. Only the smaller trees have been cleared to accommodate a cluster of cadjan-thatched and tiled roof buildings. When it took shape in 1991, the daily chores of guerrillas included chasing away or killing poisonous snakes including Cobras.

Now more than a decade old, Sencholai is home for children whose fathers and mothers have died in the 19 year-long separatist war. There are 265 girls, from the youngest, a three month old to the oldest, who is 26 years of age. Some of the elder ones have been given in marriage. For the others, their world is this 11 acre complex where they live and learn.

I asked Janani Akka who is in charge of Sencholai for how long the orphanage has functioned. She shot back “Please don’t call it an orphanage. Orphans are those children who have no one to care for. Here, we are all one family. We care for all of them. They are our close relatives. They have lost their parents not their identity.”

Janani belongs to the first batch of Liberation Tigers of Tamil (LTTE) women cadres. She saw action in 1987 in the Vadamaratchchi sector of the Jaffna peninsula. That was in Thondamannar during the Army’s “Operation Liberation.” Later, on October 10, 1987, she was together with a women’s group of 15 near Kaithady junction. Around 1.15 am, a vehicle had come close. When they tried to prevent it from moving past, heavy fighting broke out. They were Indian troops. Hearing the gun battles, another group of women cadres arrived from Kopay junction. In the encounter, her colleague Malathi died. She was the first woman cadre to be killed. A fighting unit has now been named after her.

“I am happy to be in the midst of smiling faces. If I am called upon to the battlefront, I am ready to go at any time,” says Janani. Though life now has settled down, since its inception, Sencholai had to be shifted from place to place, from time to time, when the Security Forces launched offensive operations.

She says Sencholai began in 1972 in Sandilipay in the Jaffna peninsula. Following military attacks, it was shifted to Madagal and later to Alaveddy. Thereafter, they moved to Kopay. From there, it was again shifted to Ariyalai in 1995 from where it was forced to leave after “Operation Riviresa.” There were only 24 students when they began.

In July 1996 they were settled in Kilinochchi when troops began “Operation Sath Jaya.” They were forced to shift to Vadakaadu near Mallawi (western Wanni). They arrived in Vallipuram in 1997. “Things were uncertain as troops launched “Operation Jaya Sikurui” (Victory Assured). Shells were falling. Children used to fall at the feet of their teachers in fear,” says Janani. She adds “there was normalcy after we launched the various phases of “Oyatha Alaikal” (Unceasing Waves).” These Tiger guerrilla offensives in late 1999 forced troops to abandon the large area they held in Wanni.

Some of the children at Sencholai have not attended school whilst a few had only been in a class for a month or two. “Those who are 12 years and have had no education at all are taught in the premises. Younger students are sent to the adjoining school,” says Janani.

Paradoxical enough, students at Sencholai prepare for examinations run by the Department of Examinations from Colombo. One student passed out with three Distinctions and three Credit passes. There was another with two distinctions and four Credit passes. That was in year 2000.

Whilst studying for GCE (OL), children are also taught various trades. Among them: nursing, handicrafts, music and karate. There are two Black Belts and one Brown Belt says Janani. Some learn video filming and photography. Very soon they will be taught how to use computers, she adds.Computers are to be procured soon for this purpose, she points out.

The daily routine for the children include paying homage to their parents and their colleagues who achieved “martyrdom” in the war. Then there are the compulsory life survival techniques. If there is an air raid, children know which underground bunker to run to. The underground shelters, covered by roofs, lay cheek by jowl with living quarters in the cluster of buildings. Some are even close to the Montessori.

Janani says some children who came to Sencholai when they were only four years are now 15 years old. She insists that the children are not being prepared for war though there were women who had “voluntarily” joined the war effort. “These women made it clear to us they were doing so on their own volition,” adds Janani.

Children at Sencholai are from both the North and the East. Some wore gold medals and displayed the certificates and other gifts they had won at competitions. A photograph of LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran’s visit to Sencholai is displayed prominently in the office of the complex.

A 15 minute drive from Sencholai, we arrive at Kantharuban’s Home. That is exclusively for male children who have lost their fathers and mothers in the war. There are 186 between the age groups of three to 21 years.

Kantharuban, after whom the boy’s home has been named, was a Black Tiger cadre, who died in battles with the Army in Point Pedro in 1990. His parents had died during the unfortunate ethnic violence in July 1983. He joined the LTTE and made an express wish – if he died in action, a boy’s home be set up for children without parents.

Kantharuban Home is located in 15 acres of land, part of an abandoned 60 acre farm lined with Karuthakolamban mango trees. A school is located outside. In the complex, there are living quarters, nursery buildings, a playground for cricket and football. Maps of “Eelam” and portraits of “martyrs” adorn the office walls. Like Sencholai, children at Kantharuban Home have also been shifted around from place to place due to military offensives. It was in 1997 they came to the present abandoned farming complex.

Puviarasan, a Black Tiger cadre is in charge of Kantharuban Home. The eldest student there had passed his GCE (Advanced Level) and is a student at the “Tamil Eelam Law College.” Last year, a student obtained seven “A” passes out of ten subjects. Besides being educated, male children are also being taught driving, home gardening, poultry farming, animal husbandry, welding and other chores.

Since the truce between the Government and LTTE, Puviarasan says the next of kin of children from both North and East visit the boy’s home. They bring gifts and food. “We receive assistance from some NGOs and well wishers,” he adds.

“If the next of kin proves us that he is closely linked to a boy, we will release him after 18 years. Otherwise, we ensure a good future for them,” says Puviarasan.

The routine for the boys is much the same as in Sencholai. They are also subject to life survival lessons and how to rush to an underground shelter.

Sencholai and Kantharuban’ Home are reminders of the heavy price children are forced to pay in the protracted war. It is no different to the sufferings of children in the South, who are also victims of war.

Prabhakaran’s Tigers and Mandela’s Spears Part 8

MK and LTTE did share one feature together in that (unlike Al Queda), they never waged war against Uncle Sam. But, they were affected by the two prime dilemmas of Uncle Sam’s paranoia, namely communism and terrorism. Rene Bakker et al.(2012) had conveniently ignored this similarity in their study.

From 1946 to 1991, communism was the prime dilemma for Uncle Sam. Then, with the break-up of Soviet Union, terrorism became the prime dilemma of Uncle Sam. The edicts passed, restrictions implemented and people’s freedom scuttled can be traced to this paranoia.

Part 1

International Recognition by the Establishment

Towards the end of Part 7, I mentioned about the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize award by the Establishment for Nelson Mandela. But, it will be an insult to Uncle Sam’s bureaucratic morals, if I omit how the Washington officials belatedly upgraded Mandela’s civil status rank in 2008. They took off his name from the ‘terrorism watch list’, a full 15 years after he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993! That indeed was an upgrade in official recognition from Uncle Sam’s Establishment bestowed on Mandela, when he reached 90 years!

It may be of relevance to reproduce what I wrote on this episode in July 2008, when the news was released about Mandela being dropped from Uncle Sam’s terrorism watch list. My thoughts that appeared with the title, ‘Sloths, Snails and the Primates of the US State Department’ were:

“The news got splashed around on July 2nd that the names of Nelson Mandela and his colleagues of the African National Congress (ANC) have been removed from the notorious ‘terrorism watch list’ maintained by the U.S. State Department. Mandela was released from South African prison on February 11, 1990, after 27 years. He was inaugurated as President of South Africa on May 10, 1994. Five years later, on June 14, 1999, he retired from active politics. Now, 9 years later, the Primates of the U.S. State Department have gotten into action to felicitate Mandela’s forthcoming 90th birthday by removing his name from its ‘terrorism watch list.’ The ultra-slowness of this bureaucratic action could make even sloths and snails wince!

Relating to the removal of Mandela’s name from the terrorism watch list, Mr. Tom Casey, the U.S. State Department spokesman, asserted “What it will do is make sure that there aren’t any extra hoops for either a distinguished individual, like former President Mandela, or other members of the African National Congress to get a U.S. visa.” [ CNN.com news, July 2, 2008].

I noted two points which were glaringly missing. First, a non-acknowledgement that the originally biased decision that made Mandela a terrorist was largely based on ethnic type-casting. In the 1960s, institutionalized racism in the Washington corridors of power was a given. Simply put, while Mandela and his agitators were black, the rulers of South Africa were whites, and the capitalist interests of Uncle Sam dictated that ruling whites were the preferred partners, as opposed to ANC and Mandela. It need not be stressed that the 1997 decision of the U.S. State Department to tag the LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization was also based on the ANC-Mandela example of ethnic type-casting. Secondly, a diligent omission that the CIA operatives had goofed (as is their habitual wont!) in distinguishing a liberation movement leader from that of a terrorist.”

The more I think about this episode, the more I wish to dig in. In an earlier newsitem, Mimi Hall reported that, “In the 1970s and ’80s, the ANC was officially designated a terrorist group by the country’s [i.e., South Africa] ruling white minority. Other countries, including the United States, followed suit.” [US has Mandela on terrorist list, USA Today, April 30, 2008]

If one backtracks the AFP news report that Mandela’s name was in the list for three decades ( i.e., ~1978, when he was in prison). Guess, who was the American president then? Jimmy Carter! This moralist guy made human rights an issue of his prime concern. Even he appears as a phony in my eyes now. Jimmy Carter was also awarded the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. I checked President Carter’s Nobel Peace award lecture, and while he mentions the names of 16 other previous Nobel Peace prize laureates, he had omitted (by design or accident) Mandela’s name! As one would expect, Jimmy Carter’s name is missing in Mandela’s 1994 autobiography too. After Jimmy Carter, we had Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton as presidents. These guys also never bothered to elevate Mandela’s lowly status from Uncle Sam’s bureaucratic edict, or should I say, they were not color blind. The ultimate recognition from Uncle Sam’s Establishment came to Mandela only in 2010, when the current President Barrack Obama (43 years junior to Mandela and the first bi-racial President) contributed a forward to Mandela’s book ‘Conversations with Myself’.

TIME Influential Asians of 20th Centure list 1999 coverAs I had indicated in Part 7, Prabhakaran did receive a left-handed compliment (recognition) from Uncle Sam’s mainstream media, by being anointed as one of the 100 Most Influential Asians of the Century by the Time magazine. [August 23-30, 1999]. Time’s three-sentence annotation for Prabhakaran read, “Velupillai Prabhakaran wants an independent country for Sri Lanka’s Tamils, and he has fought a big war: 16 years long, with over 50,000 casualties. His Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are disciplined and tough, having managed to fight off the mighty Indian army in the late 1980s. A Tiger suicide bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi, former Indian Premier in 1991.” Prabhakaran was only 45 then. By Mandela’s scale, to receive ultimate recognition from Uncle Sam’s Establishment, Prabhakaran should have lived for another 45 years! The recognition of Time magazine was mainly based on Prabhakaran’s single-handed decision to tackle the Indian army, when the Sri Lankan military establishment (as I have pointed out in part 7) were behaving like wimps and show the then Indian mandarins that their punditry had limits.

There is more to the truth, relating to the final sentence of Time magazine’s annotation on Prabhakaran; i.e., “A Tiger suicide bomber killed Rajiv Gandhi, former Indian Premier in 1991.” What I wish to stress here is that, it was only an out-of-context half-truth. Like all politicians, Rajiv Gandhi made wrong decisions at wrong times, and as a result he paid with his life. What was the overlooked fact needs mention. By consensus, nearly 6,000 Tamil civilians in Sri Lanka lost their lives due to Rajiv Gandhi’s naivete. If President Obama can claim on May 1, 2011 that justice was served to Osama bin Laden extra-judiciously for the loss of 3,000 odd American lives on Sept,11, 2001, what inhibits a cynic like me to ask what is wrong in claiming that justice was served extra-judiciously to Rajiv Gandhi for his role in the death of 6,000 Tamil civilians?

Rajiv Gandhi assaulted 1987 by Sri Lankan sailor

Before his death in 1991, Rajiv Gandhi had life-threats within India (from Sikhs) and in Sri Lanka (from Sinhalese). Around 15 million Sinhalese hated Rajiv Gandhi until 1991, while he was alive for his upstart behavior in landing the Indian army in the island. Rajiv Gandhi became a darling to the Sinhalese establishment only after his death. While most terrorism scholars and journalists parrot-mouth the fact that Rajiv Gandhi was killed by a LTTE suicide bomber, they conveniently ignore the facts of what Rajiv Gandhi did boomerang to cost his life. So as, history should not be ignored, I provide excerpts from two paragraphs from Rohan Gunaratna’s book, Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka (1993), about what happened on July 30, 1987.

“As Rajiv Gandhi was about to depart for India, he was invited by the Commander of the Navy Ananda Silva to inspect a guard of honour. Gandhi obliged. As he was moving past the men, something totally unexpected happened. Vijithamuni Rohana de Silva, a naval rating from the south, suddenly lifted his rifle and brought it on to the visiting Prime Minister of India. Neither Ananda Silva nor Gandhi’s security men responded fast enough either to push Gandhi away from the sailor, or to immobilize the attacker [foot note 1: Film clip and photographs taken by the media covering the entire Gandhi visit clearly show no reaction to save Gandhi or to counter-attack the sailor.] Fortunately, Rajiv Gandhi’s quick reflexes – something which he had probably sharped in his days as a pilot – came to his rescue: he ducked almost instantaneously, averting head injury which, in the worst case, could have killed him; he was instead hit and badly bruised around the neck and the shoulders.

The plan within a Navy cell was to kill Rajiv Gandhi. The nineteen year old naval rating was to hit Gandhi on the head and make him fall, and then the two men on either side of the first attacker were to strike him with their ceremonial bayonets [foot note 2: Based on the confession the naval rating made at the CID  headquarters to another detainee.] But for some unknown reason, the other two men refrained from going into action during the assault – if they did, Gandhi could have suffered serious injuries, and could have died. This sinister plan has hitherto been kept a secret. During the court martial that followed, Vijithamuni stated that he thought that the Accord would make Prabhakaran the leader of the Northeast, and he would have to honour Prabhakaran in the same way he was ordered to honour Rajiv Gandhi. However, Vijithamuni did not serve his full sentence – he was released under a general amnesty after Premadasa became the President [foot note 3: When Vijithamuni was released by Premadasa, the Indians were naturally unhappy. They concluded that this was another confirmation of their suspicion that Premadasa was anti-Indian by conviction.]”

Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka The Role of India's Intelligence Agencies Rohan GunaratnaThough Gunaratna’s account appeared in 1993, there’s nothing on record (to the best of my knowledge) that the Indian authorities pursued seriously about this 1987 assassination episode that happened in Colombo, and facts relating to the other two Sinhalese colleagues (conspirators) who failed in their mission was hidden to the public. Though these two failed to take part in the action as they had plotted, between 1987 and 1991, they were left untouched by Sri Lankan or Indian authorities!

Terrorism and Bombing

As Time magazine’s 1999 recognition of Prabhakaran did mention about suicide bombing, it is my onus to focus on providing some factual details relating to LTTE and suicide bombing. Complete dependence by Rene Bakker and colleagues (2012) on (1) incomplete databases (such as Global terrorism database maintained by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, University of Maryland), (2) scholars endowed with bias (the likes of Rohan Gunaratna), and (3) error-prone books and papers of language-challenged academics (the likes of Vanda Felbab-Brown, Audrey Kurth Cronin, Cecile Valerie van de Voorde and Bruce Hoffman) who had a penchant to climb in the terrorism bandwagon, had distorted the worth of their comparative study between MK and LTTE. They fail to recognize that the dark networks (MK and LTTE) they had chosen to study were led by non-whites, and the inherent ethnic bias by the white ethnic academics and analysts.

As an aside, I’m tempted to note that the militant dark network led by Jesus Christ and Apostles (2000 years ago), which later evolved into Christianity, was also led by non-whites. Their aggressors (Roman Empire) were led by whites. I acknowledge my debt to America’s foremost novelist-educator James Michener, for first imprinting this fact to me, in a forward to his collection of his writings. Michener wrote in 1956, “Jesus was an Asian with a dark, semi-Asiatic complexion. But in the main, before we Americans received Christianity it had been pretty well cleansed of Asian strains. Most Americans are quite convinced that Jesus was a white man, as proved by the paintings of Italy.”

All terrorism scholars have focused exclusively on LTTE, employing suicide bombers. Now, let me go the fundamentals first. What is bombing? Before one does the number crunching on suicide bombing attacks by LTTE (when, where, who and how), has anyone bothered to look at ‘simple’ bombing incidents in Sri Lanka? I use the adjective ‘simple’ in simple bombing only to differentiate it from suicide bombing. It should not be taken that ‘simple’ bombing causes less damage than suicide bombing. Simple bombing also include shelling with different varieties (shrapnel shell, cluster shell, artillery shell, high explosive plastic shell etc.) In terms of loss of lives and damage to property, simple bombings cause more extensive damage than suicide bombings. Who held the lead in aerial bombing and shelling in the Sri Lankan civil war? In my view, it was not LTTE, but the Sri Lankan military. (Somasundaram, 1996) And why LTTE developed suicide bombing as a low-cost offensive weapon?

The first documented Sri Lankan air force attack on LTTE occurred in April 22, 1987. I provide a description of this bombing by Barbara Crossette to the New York Times. I reproduce some segments from this report.

“The Sri Lankan Air Force attacked bases of two Tamil guerrilla separatist groups in the north today, killing 80 people, the Government said. President J.R. Jayewardene’s government vowed to destroy all the bases of the two guerrilla groups, which it blamed for an attack that killed 127 bus passengers last Friday and a bombing at Colombo’s main bus station Tuesday, in which at least 110 people died. Officials said 12 civilians were among those killed in the air strikes against rebel encampments in the Jaffna peninsula. Civilians are being warned by leaflet, loudspeaker and radio broadcasts to leave guerrilla areas in the north and east, the Minister of National Security, Lalith Athulathmudali, said after a Cabinet meeting this morning.

He added, however, that there were no immediate plans to attack the city of Jaffna, much of which is under control of Tamil rebels, who are fighting for a separate state in an ethnic conflict with the majority Sinhalese.

Sri Lankan officials declined to provide further details about the military campaign against the 2,000 to 3,000 guerrillas of the two Tamil groups, except to say that all the resources of the armed forces would be available for air and ground attacks against a list of more than half a dozen targets.

According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Sri Lankan Air Force has two combat aircraft, which are Bell Model 212 attack helicopters. They resemble American Huey helicopters and are equipped to attack ground targets. Some other Sri Lankan aircraft could be used in combat to move troops or conceivably to attack ground targets with guns, bombs or missiles. The air force has a squadron of 11 transport aircraft of various types, such as Cessnas and Beechcraft and 14 training aircraft made by Beech and by DeHavilland.”

There is no doubt that, it was this type of aerial bombing by the Sri Lankan military which precipitated Prabhakaran’s decision to consider suicide bombing as an offensive weapon. The first suicide bombing episode by LTTE occurred on July 5, 1987. The venerated FBI’s definition of terrorism states “unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives” [Meloy and McEllistrem, 1998]. Most of the terrorism scholars convenient interpretation of terrorism stops with the word ‘government’ and ignore the rest which include “the civilian population or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” If the entirety of FBI’s definition of terrorism is taken into account, the Sri Lankan government, Sri Lankan military and the Indian military which confronted LTTE deserves condemnation as terrorists.

Wikiality Doping Syndrome (WDS)

It is my contention that the university academics in America (the likes of Robert Pape, Mia Bloom, Audrey Kurth Cronin and Vanda Felbab-Brown) who climbed the terrorism bandwagon in the first decade of the 21st century for prestige and funding suffer from what I introduce as Wikiality Doping Syndrome (WDS). I should define this syndrome.

Doping is well known in the sporting world. But, it is a perfect scientific technique used in semiconductor research. Jack Kilby (the 2000 Nobel Physics laureate and the inventor of the integrated circuit) defined it as a ‘careful addition of impurities to predetermined areas’ to change the electrical characteristics of semiconductors. In sports like weight lifting, cycling, baseball and even in athletics, this process was picked up by sportsmen and sportswomen to build their muscle strength and gain vital edge over their competitors. The doping phenomena had spread into academics as well. Thus, we have phrases like ‘academic doping’ which implies off-label use of specific drugs to gain unlawful advantage over competitors.

Then, the word ‘Wikiality’, which according to humorist Stephen Colbert is ‘an online world made up of collections of untruths that are widely accepted’. Combine ‘Wikiality’ and doping and we have Wikiality Doping Syndrome, which had spread in academia for the past decade and is being infected to the graduate students and undergrads who prepare their theses and term papers based on the influences of their mentors. Some notable traits which characterize this syndrome are, (1) Never bother to invest time and energy to learn the language and culture of one’s study sample. (2) Never bother to invest time and energy to visit the location for field work. (3) If possible, assemble gossip from secondary or tertiary sources available from the on-line garbage sites for writing research reports and books. (4) If funds are forthcoming, get assistance for translation of original material from young Tamils who live in diaspora, or displaced Tamil journalists, by paying coolie wages. (5) Pretend as a terrorism scholar, by publishing at least one book, with an eye-catching title, which has key-phrase suicide bombing.

After the 1994 election of Mandela as the President of South Africa in a free vote and the incorporation of MK members into the South African military, the damage by Wikiality Doping Syndrome was minimal to MK. The Wikipedia (web-based online, open encyclopedia) was formally launched only in January 15, 2001. In contrast to MK, as LTTE remained as a ‘labeled terrorist’ group, it suffered seriously in the hands of academics who suffer from Wikiality Doping Syndrome.

Paranoid Uncle Sam’s Prime dilemmas

Comparing the success and failure of MK and LTTE, one should not ignore the two prime dilemmas of paranoid Uncle Sam. Twenty years ago, the Economist magazine caricatured the final lap of George H.W.Bush’s presidency, with a cover caption ‘Sam, Sam, the paranoid man’. A mirror in which the American president looks, portrays him as a balding man with twisted jaws, slender neck, tubby belly and skeletal legs. It may not be wrong if I assert that American foreign policy decisions were partially dependent on this sort of paranoia. The best examples can be ticked as, (1) having Mandela in its terrorist list for three decades until 1998, (2) including LTTE in the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations in 1997, while omitting Al Queda from the same list.

MK and LTTE did share one feature together in that (unlike Al Queda), they never waged war against Uncle Sam. But, they were affected by the two prime dilemmas of Uncle Sam’s paranoia, namely communism and terrorism. Rene Bakker et al.(2012) had conveniently ignored this similarity in their study.

From 1946 to 1991, communism was the prime dilemma for Uncle Sam. Then, with the break-up of Soviet Union, terrorism became the prime dilemma of Uncle Sam. The edicts passed, restrictions implemented and people’s freedom scuttled can be traced to this paranoia. It is convenient to sketch how opposing communism morphed elegantly into opposing terrorism. In the pulp literature authored by language-challenged foreign journalists and analysts during 1980s and 1990s, LTTE was sloppily painted as ‘Marxist-Communist’ guerrilla group. This was not so. Apart from the other reasons that I have postulated in earlier parts for LTTE’s failure (such as, Blacks were the majority in South Africa, and South Africa was blessed with material wealth), MK was lucky in that Mandela was able to come out of prison, with the fall of communism. LTTE was unlucky in that Uncle Sam’s criteria on terrorism based on ethnic profiling couldn’t distinguish freedom fighters from non-freedom fighters. On this issue of ethnic profiling and how it came to be applied to Tamils, I had written a commentary on Sept.9, 2008 in this website (see, ‘On revisiting Tarzan Lives: A 1978 study of Susan J. Hall and its relevance for Tamils’ http://www.sangam.org/2008/09/Tarzan_Lives.php?uid=3082).

Cited Sources

Bakker R.M., Raab, J. and Milward, H.B: A preliminary theory of dark network resilience. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2012; 31: 33-62.

Boffey, P.M: Herbicides in Vietnam: AAAS study runs into a military roadblock. Science, 1970 Oct 2; 170: 42-45.

Crossette, B: Sri Lanka air force raids Tamil guerrilla bases. New York Times, Apr.23, 1987. Section A, page 14.

Gunaratna, R: Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka, South Asian Network on Conflict Research, Colombo, 1993, p. 193.

Kilby, J: Turning potential into realities: the invention of the integrated circuit. Nobel physics prize lecture delivered on Dec.8, 2000. [http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2000/kilby-lecture.html]

Meloy J.R. and McEllistrem, J.E: Bombing and psychopathy: an integrative review. Journal of Forensic Science, 1998; 43(3): 556-562.

Michener, J: Selected Writings of James A.Michener, Modern Library, New York, 1957, p. ix.

Somasundaram, D.J.: Post-traumatic responses to aerial bombing. Social Science & Medicine, 1996; 42(11): 1465-1471.

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7



by Sachi Sri Kantha, April 8, 2012


Video:Pirapaharan commits to peace, self determination At Press Conference at Killinochi 2002

 It was reportedly the largest media event ever held in the island. The scale of the international and local media interest reflected the impact Mr. Vellupillai Pirapaharan has on Sri Lanka’s politics. His first press conference in over a decade – announced just a week in advance – drew almost six hundred reporters, photographers and cameramen from around the world to the war devastated town of Kilinochchi.

Flanked by the LTTE’s chief negotiator and political strategist, Mr. Anton Balasingham, Mr. Thamil Chelan, head of the LTTE’s political section and – unexpectedly – by two of his top commanders, Col. Karuna and Col. Pathuman, Mr. Pirapaharan fielded questions for over two and a half sometimes chaotic hours. Mr. Balasingham translated English questions and all of Mr. Pirapaharan’s responses for the benefit of the international press. As the LTTE’s chief negotiator and political strategist he also fielded questions or expanded on Mr. Pirapaharan’s responses.


Hon.V. Prabhakaran : Press Conference at Killinochi 2002 Q&A
As indicated on the movement’s press release announcing the conference, Mr. Pirapaharan spoke at length on the Norwegian peace initiative.

“I am very, very, pleased with the development of the peace process and I want to compliment Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe for the bold action he has taken to promote [this] and the goodwill measures in the north east,” he said.


“We want to use the Norwegian facilitation to engage … with Sri Lanka and we hope that [the peace process] will succeed,” he said. “We are sincerely and seriously committed to peace.”

Dismissing accusations the LTTE was insincere about peace and that the Tigers were under pressure due to the international war on terrorism, Mr. Pirapaharan pointed out his organisation had, among other moves, unilaterally observed a ceasefire for four months early last year. (The truce was rejected by Sri Lanka.)

“The LTTE has undertaken peace initiatives before the September 11th,” he said. “[Apart from the unilateral truce], I met with the Norwegian peace envoy Eric Solheim [ In Nov 1999]and gave him an assurance that the LTTE wanted peace and a negotiated political settlement.”

When asked if the ‘Tiger was changing its stripes’ as the LTTE was now adopting a political path after 25 years of armed struggle, Mr. Pirapaharan said “Our political struggle for the Tamil people began in the form of non violence., through peaceful methods. … It is because these non violent peaceful agitations were crushed by military means, by repression, that we were forced to take up arms to defend ourselves.”

“It is because of the objective conditions, the historic conditions that we were compelled to take up arms but whenever there were opportunities for peace in the past, we have opted for peaceful methods to resolve these problems,” he said further.

When asked about reports of violations of the indefinite ceasefire by the LTTE, Mr. Pirapaharan said the monitoring committee has not lodged any complaints or accusations that we have violated the terms of the ceasefire.

The LTTE leaders reiterated that the proscription of the LTTE would have to be lifted before they would participate in imminent negotiations in Thailand. They stressed they would not accept a temporary suspension of the ban.

“We want to be described properly. And the PTA has to be amended,” Mr. Balasingham said. “We want to be accepted as the authentic representatives of our people, so we can participate in talks with equal status.”

When asked if he would now renounce the independent state the LTTE has been fighting for and accept an alternative, Mr. Pirapaharan said “the right conditions have not arisen for the LTTE to abandon the policy of an independent statehood.”

“So far as the demand for Eelam is concerned , the LTTE has not made any decision so far as whether to give up the demand or accept an alternative,” Mr. Pirapaharan said.

“The struggle for political independence and statehood, the struggle for Tamil Eelam, is the demand of the Tamil people, not the LTTE as such,” he said further, stating that the popular endorsement given in 1977 by the electorate to the Tamil United Liberation Front’s independent state policy underpinned the LTTE’s objectives.

When queried as to what the LTTE required for a solution to be acceptable, Mr. Pirapaharan said: “There are three fundamentals; that is Tamil homeland, Tamil nationality and Tamil right to self-determination.”

“Once these fundamentals are accepted or a political solution is put forward by Sri Lanka recognizing these three fundamentals and if our people are satisfied with the framework of a solution that recognises these core issues then, we will consider giving up the demand for Eelam,” he said.

When queried what the LTTE meant by self-determination, Mr. Balasingham, in his capacity as the movement’s theoretician, replied: “we mean the right of people to decide their own political destiny – it can also apply to autonomy and self governance.”

“If autonomy and self governance is given to our people we can say that internal self-determination is to some extent met,” he said. “But if the Sri Lanka government rejects our demand for autonomy and self governance and continues with repression, then as a last resort we will opt for cessation – that also comes under self-determination.”

“Therefore we say if the Sri Lanka government offers the Tamil people a form of self government and autonomy in recognition of our homeland, nationality and the right to self-determination, then we will consider that offer,” Mr. Balasingham said further.

When asked if the LTTE would give up the armed struggle following a permanent solution, Mr. Pirapaharan said: “We will seriously consider renouncing our armed struggle if a solution acceptable to the people is worked out.”

However the LTTE leaders cautioned that the Wickremesinghe government was not stable and that it lacked sufficient leverage to solve the ethnic problem. A proposed interim administration would permit the de-escalation of the conflict, while allowing the newly elected government leeway to strengthen its position, they said.

“We do not think that Ranil Wickremesinghe is capable of addressing the core issues and offer us a permanent solution at this stage; because the executive powers of governance are vested with the president and his powers are limited to parliament,” Mr. Pirapaharan said.

“But we wish to insist that the Ranil’s government is not politically stable or authoritative or powerful enough to take up the core demands of the Tamils and offer us a permanent solution,” the LTTE leader stated.

“But, it is because of that we are suggesting the formulation of an interim administration set up in which the LTTE can participate in the north east. In the meantime Ranil Wickremesinghe will have enough space to build up southern Sri Lanka economically,” he said.

“As far as we are concerned we have faith in the present government and we will continue to work with [it] until a solution is reached,” Mr. Balasingham said.

Mr. Pirapaharan said he did not think President Chandrika Kumaratunga could derail the peace process. “Even if she tries to scuttle the peace process it is up to Ranil Wickremesinghe to ensure that such difficulties do not arise and ensure the peace process succeeds.”

Elaborating on the interim administration, Mr. Pirapaharan said the LTTE’s negotiators, led by Mr. Balasingham “are going to Thailand with the objective of discussing the formation of an interim administration.”

“The functions and duties of the interim government, the distribution of power, are issues that we have to discuss . So we cannot comment on the structure and nature of the interim administration now,” he said further.

On being asked if the LTTE would allow other Tamil political parties to operate, Mr. Pirapaharan said: “We can assure you that other political parties – whatever their policies may be – will be allowed to function in the north east and participate in the democratic electoral process.”

When asked why that assurance should be accepted, the LTTE leader pointed out “we are going to meet four Tamil political parties in two days. These are the parties once upon a time that had serious contradictions with our organisation. Now the whole scenario has changed and we are inviting them here to talk and discuss about various issues.”

“If we are an authoritarian organisation trying to repress other political organisations, there is no need for us to call them and with discuss with them. Similarly we are calling the Muslim leadership and the plantation Tamils’ leadership also,” he said. “Therefore the time has change and we are adopting new strategies.”

The LTTE leaders reiterated the movement’s earlier requests to the Indian government for a renewed, friendly relationship. “Without India’s active support and sympathy, this [ethnic] problem will not find a permanent settlement,” Mr. Balasingham said. “India’s active participation in the peace process is crucial for the Tamil people. … We don’t want to alienate or isolate India in the peace process.”

Mr. Pirapaharan refused to comment on the Rajiv Gandhi issue, point out that “this case is going on. There are four persons who have been condemned to death. They are seeking an amnesty from the government of India. Therefore at this critical juncture we don’t want to make any comments that might affect their status.”

When some Indian reporters persisted on the subject, Mr. Balasingham also said no more questions would be entertained on the subject. “You are raising an issue that has happened ten years ago,” he told one reported. “It is a tragic incident and therefore we are not in a position to make any comments at this stage.”

Asked if the LTTE was prepared to forget about the war with the Indian Peace Keeping Force, Mr. Balasingham said “at a particular stage in history, the government of India wanted to help the Tamil people by resolving the problem. They mediated; and unfortunately the proposals envisaged by government did India did not satisfy the aspirations of Tamil people’s.”

“We had discussions, and expressed our disapproval and finally the contradictions between India and the LTTE led to an armed conflict, and the IPKF committed quite a lot of atrocities amongst our people,” he said.

“But yet, with all that, our people love and respect India. India and the people of India are different from the power structures or the armed apparatus of India. We are culturally and ethnically linked to the Indian subcontinent. As Tamils we have our roots in India,” he added.

When asked his opinion of the Sinhala-nationalist Janatha Vimukthi Perumana (JVP), Mr. Pirapaharan said “we do not consider the JVP a progressive political force because of their chauvinistic attitudes towards the Tamil people.”

Asked about the estate Tamil community, Mr. Pirapaharan said “We want build a better relationship with the leadership of the plantation Tamils. We have invited them here. We will discuss their concerns and problems and cooperate with them in their struggle for the political rights of the plantation Tamils.”

Mr. Pirapaharan rejected as “untenable and unacceptable” accusations the LTTE was using child soldiers. “There is no need for us at this present stage for us to recruit children. It is impossible for the LTTE to conduct an effective conventional war with child soldiers,” he said

“Recently, following the UN resolution, we have decided to recruit people from the age of 18. In future we want to recruit for the purpose of involving our youth in political and administrative purposes,” he added.

Commenting on international bans on the LTTE, Mr. Pirapaharan said “Those countries who are waging a war against terror should come out with a clear and precise definition as to who constitutes a terrorist and who are freedom fighters.

“We are not a terrorist organization, but a liberation movement. We are fighting for the liberation of our people,” he said.

Asked about prisoners of war being held by the LTTE, Mr. Balasingham said only six personnel were being held, and that the ICRC regularly visits them and has established contacts with the PoWs and their families.

When asked about the LTTE’s taxes, Mr. Pirapaharan said that “just as the Sri Lanka government taxes Sri Lankans in its controlled areas to run the state administration, to run the administration in our controlled areas, we levy a tax system.”

Asked about the LTTE’s economic philosophy, Mr. Pirapaharan said an “open market economy.” But he pointed out that: “We can only think about a proper economic structure when the ethnic problem is resolved. … What form and what structure this economic system is to be instituted in can only be worked when we have a permanent settlement or independent state.”

TamilNet, Thursday, 11 April 2002,