Who is the LTTE?
They are a misunderstood group of people which I explain all about in this video. More commonly known as The Tamil Tigers are now looked down upon by many people since losing the war. This heartfelt passionate rant is directed towards everyone who needs a reality check!
A: Although it was the bitter truth, when I say it was a running Army, I know many senior officers who were serving in the Army will get offended. Since we actually ran to Thandikulam within two-and-a-half days, I wanted to call it the ‘running army’. I apologise for using the incorrect or wrong word to give a clear idea about how we fought in the past. Former Army Commander Lt. Gen. Cecil Widyaratne retired saying that he did not want to command a losing army. He tried his best to revamp and uplift the status of the SLA but he failed.
However, people didn’t think that the SLA would be victorious until the last Eelam war. A senior minister of a previous government told me during peace time: “You can’t win the war with the LTTE.” When I said that we could, he said: “Colonel, your people have been fighting with the LTTE for so long and couldn’t win a battle so that is why we have to go for peace talks.” I have mentioned this in my book. People of this country, the governments and even our own soldiers thought that the LTTE was a superior fighting force. But in 2009, we reduced the LTTE to just an ideology. I even don’t think that the LTTE will make a comeback with the same magnitude as Prabhakaran, who was an equally committed, dedicated, disciplined and ruthless terrorist leader, is no more.
He may have been uneducated but he maintained strict discipline among himself and also within the outfit. He is the man who showed the art of suicide bombing. Before Al Qaeda’s first suicide bomber, Prabhakaran had over 200 suicide bombers in the LTTE. Most of the suicide cadres were females and were ready to sacrifice their lives at the command of their leader. There is no evidence to show that he abused those female cadres in the LTTE.
He was a loving family man. The SLA recovered over 10,000 photographs of Prabhakaran, his family and LTTE functions but we never found a picture of Prabhakaran with a glass of alcohol. He was a disciplined leader and he maintained a law deadlier than Sharia law. If you steal, you lose your hand under Sharia law, but under Prabhakaran’s law you lose your life. Although he was a Hindu, he never believed in God. Once he said that God was there for the powerful countries. He was a different kind of a man and he had some good characteristics for someone to learn.
He was a firm decision maker. Whether the decision was right or wrong, he didn’t care and once a decision was taken, then it was implemented. Killing Indian Premier Rajiv Gandhi was among the most unwise decisions he had ever made. By killing Gandhi, he knew that India in its entirety and the world would come against him but still he wanted to take revenge from India for deploying the IPKF in Sri Lanka to crush the LTTE. So he killed him because he was ruthless. He had lots of patience and he was not hurry in his missions and waited for the right moment to strike.
Q: But S. Thamilini, the LTTE’s Political Wing Leader, cited in her book that war fatigue and the LTTE’s senior commanders getting old were among reasons for the LTTE’s defeat in the final battle. Your comments?
A: I have not read her book yet, but I don’t agree with these reasons for the fall of the LTTE. Whether Prabhakaran was young or old, he was the same ruthless man and his leadership until the last minute of the battle was excellent. The other leaders like Banu, Ratnam Master and Soosai also had an excellent command. Due to Soosai’s command during the last few days, nobody wanted to turn back. Their commandos performed well under the command of these leaders.
The LTTE had also suffered as it lost the leadership of Balraj, who died of a heart attack. He was one of the best commanders of the LTTE. Then the LTTE lost Karuna Amman, who was also one of the best fighting commanders. The next best commander was Theepan, who fought till the fall of Puthukkudiyiruppu. The top leadership was strong and fought till the last few hours of the final battle.
Q: Finally, LTTE leader Prabhakaran had his final 45-minute battle with your soldiers. Were you confident of capturing him?
A: I was very confident that the SLA would capture him soon. I knew it when I saw the influx of displaced people fleeing to our side seeking protection. When we looked at the map, we saw the LTTE-held areas were shrinking rapidly. Then when we came to know that the LTTE cadres were fleeing mingling with civilians to our side abandoning the outfit, we knew that the outfit was in disarray and we wouldn’t have to fight for long as Prabhakaran’s days were numbered. On the evening of 18 May 2009, the war was virtually came to an end but Lt. Gen. Fonseka and I had the same big question in our minds. Where was Prabhakaran?
I called the Commander to say that we had captured every inch of the north but he said without capturing Prabhakaran, the war would be never ended. While everyone was eagerly waiting to see Prabhakaran, the troops of the fourth Vijayaba Infantry battalion killed him after a 45-minute-long confrontation at the Nandikadal Lagoon.
Q: Some say that he was brought to Colombo and killed. Your comments?
A: This is a rumour and will remain as a rumour. The truth is he was killed during the confrontation. Nobody knew Prabhakaran was there till 19 May morning. It was the last confrontation we had with the LTTE.
As a soldier, the most unforgettable moment in my life was having the man who had played with our lives for nearly three decades lying in front of me and my men was cheering saying, “Sir, we killed Prabhakaran.” While I am being proud I must say that the war ended due to immense dedication of all the division commanders and soldiers. It was a collective effort.
Q: How do you recall the days when you were fighting in Eelam II and Eelam III?
A: It was sad to say that in those days, people were not bothered even if the LTTE had killed 50 soldiers. But the entire nation mourned if a cricketer had a run out for a few runs. This happened because the Army was losing continuously in the battlefronts. People didn’t have much faith in the fighting strength of our soldiers and thought the LTTE was more powerful than us. In all the operations, except for a few operations like Balawegaya, in which we liberated Elephant Pass and Thrividabalaya, in which we rescued Jaffna Fort, we ended up with disasters.
If you take the Jayasikuru operation, in which we advanced for more than two-and-a-half years, many soldiers were wounded and killed in action. Though we reached Mankulam, we couldn’t hold the position as the LTTE was heavily attacking us, so we ran up to Thandikulam within two-and-a-half days. Why? Because we were short of manpower to fight and hold the position. Thanks to one Col. Roshan Silva, we stationed at Omanthai.
Daily FT: http://www.ft.lk/article/566048/Road-to-Nandikadal
Prabakaran ,Tamil eelam and theology of liberation -2004 Germany Fr. Albert Koolen
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What the United States told Ranil about Prabhakaran in 2002
– as reported by the Sinhala owned Sri Lanka Island in 2007
23/24 April 2007
“In 2002, after the Cease Fire Agreement had come into force, the United States Pacific Command carried out a comprehensive assessment of the LTTE and the Sri Lankan Armed Forces at the request of the US Department of Defense.
The result of this study was a top secret report, which was signed by Peter W.Rodman on behalf of the International Security Affairs desk of the US Department of Defense. Copies of this report were given only to the then Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe, the Defense Minister Tilak Marapone, and the Secretary Defense Austin Fernando. The then President Chandrika Kumaratunga, and the cabinet were kept in the dark about this study. What follows are verbatim extracts from this report….
The leader and founder of the LTTE, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is often described as a megalomaniac.
Comment by tamilnation.org Megalomania (from the Greek word μεγαλομανία) is a psychopathological condition characterized by delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence – often generally termed as delusions of grandeur. A comparison of two leaders – ‘delusion and grandeur’ –
“I have always believed that this land was placed here between the two great oceans by some divine plan. It was placed here to be found by a special kind of people – people who had a special love of freedom and who had the courage to uproot themselves and leave hearth and homeland and come to what in the beginning was the most underdeveloped wilderness possible..” US President Ronald Reagan, Remarks at the Opening Ceremonies of the Statue of Liberty Centennial Celebration in New York, New York July 3, 1986 quoted in Place: A Short Introduction – T. Cresswell 2004)
“Pirabaharan is not a small man. He is the leader, a charismatic leader of the LTTE. His life is very precious. And a very simple man. No bullshit about him. His wife lived with three saris – one she wore, one she washed and one was ready to wear. That is all. They never drank Coca-Cola. They offered us Coca-Cola, but never drank it themselves. They drank that goliwala soda… Pirabaharan spoke to me in English many a time. He appeared well-read…. they [the LTTE] were very cordial. They would take me anywhere. I had lot of time for them…” Major General Harkirat Singh, Indian Peace Keeping Force’s First Commander in Jaffna
He is practically worshipped by Tiger cadres, who have been inculcated with Tamil nationalist propaganda.
Comment by tamilnation.org “Inculcated” with Tamil nationalist propaganda…
“..We have for the last 25 years made every effort to secure our political rights on the basis of equality with the Sinhalese in a united Ceylon. It is a regrettable fact that successive Sinhalese governments have used the power that flows from independence to deny us our fundamental rights and reduce us to the position of a subject people. These governments have been able to do so only by using against the Tamils the sovereignty common to the Sinhalese and the Tamils. I wish to announce to my people and to the country that I consider the verdict at this election as a mandate that the Tamil Eelam nation should exercise the sovereignty already vested in the Tamil people and become free.” Statement by Gandhian Tamil leader S.J.V.Chelvanayakam after winning the by-election for the Kankesanturai Parliamentary seat, held belatedly on 7 February 1975, two years after he had resigned the seat to seek a mandate for Tamil Eelam
“He died like Moses himself without reaching the promised land but the vision he saw, he leaves behind as the heritage and challenge to his people.” – Rt.Rev D.J. Ambalavanar at the funeral of Gandhian Tamil Leader S.J.V.Chelvanayagam, April 1977
Prabhakaran has insisted that all LTTE soldiers wear a cyanide capsule around their necks, maintaining that it is better to commit suicide than be captured alive by the enemy.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“As far as I can tell most ordinary Tamils support the Tigers, not necessarily because they like them, but because they like the Sri Lankan – or Indian – armies less. The Tigers are ruthless and authoritarian but they are not corrupt – they don’t tolerate stealing, bribery or rape, things other armies are famous for. In fact they are perceived as being single minded in their defence of Tamils. They are so disciplined that when captured, they swallow cyanide capsules that they carry with them at all times, rather than risk revealing anything under torture.” Professor Marshall Singer before US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995
Though Prabhakaran is aware that the United States publicly condemns the LTTE’s terrorist campaigns, he continues his efforts to win sympathy from the United States. For this reason, the United States has some leverage with him. However, if the perception of the United States as a direct supporter of Sri Lanka’s armed forces against the LTTE persists, Prabhakaran’s susceptibility to US influence will decrease or vanish completely.
Velupillai Prabhakaran is the unchallenged dictatorial leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) terrorist organization. Prabhakaran exerts tight control and discipline over the LTTE, which fights for the establishment of an independent homeland, referred to as “Eelam,” carved out of the northern and eastern portions Lanka. He is worshipped as a cult-like figure because of successful indoctrination processes and effective political propaganda campaigns.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“.. I was left with the impression that the LTTE was the expression of popular Tamil sentiment and could not be destroyed, so long as that sentiment remained… Our unit and formation commanders too came under the mental hypnosis of the LTTE. They would graphically explain how well entrenched the LTTE was in the minds of the people, how ungrateful people were to us, how elusive the LTTE was, how perfect it was in the midst of the people and in its actions, how effective was its grip over the public and so on – virtually admitting that it was an impossible task and all our endeavours were pointless. Lieutenant General S.C. Sardesh Pande, IPKF Divisional Commander, Jaffna
Prabhakaran’s mind-set, personality, ideology, objectives, and outlook dominate and resound through the structure and organization of the LTTE. Prabhakaran’s call sign is Hotel Alpha, his location is referred to as “one-four,” and his nom de guerre is Karikalan.
Prabhakaran, born on 26 November 1954, comes from a typical middle-class Tamil family with four children, including a brother and two sisters. He and his family reside in the northern town of Valvettithurai (referred to as VVT). VVT’s inhabitants were servants (Prabhakaran’s father was one), traders, fishermen, or simply smugglers because of the winding seacoast and close proximity to India, Prabhakaran’s parents currently live in Tamil Nadu, India, and his siblings live overseas. In 1984, Prabhakaran met and subsequently married a fellow activist, Madhivathini, who was on a hunger strike protesting Sinhalese treatment of Tamils. They have two children: a son, Charles Anthony, who is named after a former LTTE leader and a daughter, Dwaraka, who is named after one of his bodyguards.
When Prabhakaran was a child, his father demanded absolute discipline from him and his siblings. Prabhakaran was a quiet boy who was devoted to his family and friends, assisting family during religious functions and dutifully running errands for neighbours and relatives. He earned average grades in school. As a teenager, Prabhakaran was shy with girls and was known to be always restless.
Prabhakaran’s introduction to politics and to the Tamil-Sinhalese conflict came from listening to his father’s oft-repeated discourses on the worsening ethnic relations in the country and laments on the fate of Tamils. Prabhakaran subsequently became fascinated with Subash Chandra Bose, the Indian nationalist who preferred to resist British rule through ‘Militancy’ rather than subscribe to Gandhi’s doctrine of nonviolence. His favourite of Bose’s slogans was “I shall fight for the freedom of my land until I shed the last drop of blood.” Prabhakaran was also intrigued with the military exploits of Napoleon, the teachings of Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu epic of the Mahabharata, Tamil history books, and Phantom comics, often imagining himself to be a legendary warrior.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“..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, Bagat Singh and Balagengadhara Tilak… 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…” How I became a Freedom Fighter – Velicham Interview,1994
Though Prabhakaran was quiet and was regarded as a good listener, he was easily excitable and found it difficult to contain himself when discussions arose over Tamil politics, the ancient Tamil kingdoms in India and Sri Lanka, and the possibility of an armed struggle like that of Bose. He soon became involved in student activist groups. His political activism eventually forced him to go underground in 1973 and to cut off family ties.
Prabhakaran cites Sinhalese discrimination against Tamils and the 1972 constitution (which declared Sinhala the only official language of the country and Buddhism the state religion) as factors that inspired him to become a rebel at age 18. As Tamil militancy emerged in the 1970s, Prabhakaran began to prepare himself for the battles that he perceived lay ahead. It is said that he had a natural ability with firearms and as a marksman; in any case his skills in these spheres were self-taught. As a measure of physical endurance, he would tie himself up, get into a sack, and lie under the sun the whole day. Prabhakaran also was known to insert pins into his fingernails. He and his fellow activists relied on temple offerings for food and at times would go hungry, sometimes taking sleep-inducing tablets to ward off their hunger.
Prabhakaran and his gang began robbing banks to help finance their militant quest for a Tamil homeland. Though other rebels robbed banks to amass personal wealth, Prabhakaran’s intentions were purely political. He was a meticulous planner, placing banks under surveillance for weeks and sometimes months before robbing them.
He gradually began to take the leading role in discussing operations, but shared information only on a need-to-know basis. Prabhakaran was very suspicious of new Tamil militant recruits. As a security measure, he kept his meetings with outsiders to a minimum and sometimes did not reveal his identity. Prabhakaran reportedly was very tense and nervous about operations and could not accept defeat. He developed a reputation for losing control if things did not go his way. Even when engaged in friendly physical contests, if Prabhakaran felt he was losing, he would resort to viciously biting his opponents.
Prabhakaran enjoyed skyrocketing popularity in July 1975 after he allegedly assassinated Alfred Durraiappah, the mayor of Jaffna, as the latter paid his respects to a local Hindu temple. Durraiappah was the chief organizer of the northern region, for the SLFP, the current Sri Lankan ruling party, but was regarded by many Tamils as a government stooge. Following the assassination, Prabhakaran became obsessed with his personal security. By 1976, Prabbakaran and a handful of hard-core militants formed the LTTE, a name derived from its, precursor, the Tamil New Tigers, founded a couple of years earlier.
Prabhakaran networked with other Tamil militant groups and leaders, but later eradicated them in order to promote the LTTE as the only true representative of Tamil nationalism that seeks to establish an independent homeland, referred to Eelam. This constitutes Prabhakaran’s sole ideological justification for existence.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“We launched our struggle for self determination and political independence because of the systematic oppression of our people by the Sri Lankan state… It is the Sri Lanka government which has failed to learn the lessons from the emergence of the struggles for self determination in several parts of the globe and the innovative structural changes that have taken place… We are not warmongers who love violence. We want a permanent, stable and honourable peace…. One day, when our enemy knocks at our doors for peace, we will extend the hand of friendship.” – Velupillai Pirabaharan, leader of Tamil Eelam, 1992
In the early years Prabhakaran dabbled with Marxist ideas, but he later became intent on basing the movement purely on Tamil nationalism rather than on Marxist ideology which he views as contributing to the downfall of other Tamil militant groups. Other than Tamil nationalism, no other ideology or military theory has a compelling appeal to Prabhakaran.
Although most LTTE cadres (including Prabhakaran himself) are nominally Hindu the issue of religion plays a negligible part in Prabhakaran’s ideology. Prabhakaran believes that Eelam should be a casteless society, a concept that runs counter to the Hindu perspective.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“On an occasion in London, in 1989, at a discussion with Sathasivam Krishnakumar (for whom the struggle for Tamil Eelam was his life) the conversation turned to the Gita Upadesam. Kittu, as he was affectionately known, commented: “Annai, in the Maha Bharatham, it was Karnan who truly knew his duty. He was stead fast in his commitment to his friend Duryodhana – he had no doubts about his ‘Nanri Kadan’ and in the end Karnan willingly gave away all his ‘punyam’, knowing that by doing so, he would die. Karnan knew well his dharma – he did not need a ‘Upadesam’ to clarify his doubts – and so, in the Maha Bharatham, there is no ‘Gita Upadesam’ for Karnan.” Spirituality and the Tamil Nation – Nadesan Satyendra, 10 May 1998
In addition, a number of LTTE cadres, hail from Christian backgrounds. Prabhakaran quietly worships Lord Subramania (or Lord Murugan) a prominent god in the Hindu pantheon. Nevertheless, Prabhakaran is a pragmatist and generally relies on his own will and ability.
Prabhakaran’s local propaganda and recruitment efforts are directed at children and adolescents. Prabhakaran has shown a fondness for children and often engages them in conversation.
This sincerity may encourage the younger generation to be future recruits in the LTTE. Prabhakaran believes that the second generation, of youth exposed to the war will fight better than the first. Of the second generation, he has greater faith in the northern population because it has been subjected to more LTTE indoctrination than its eastern counterparts, who are constantly exposed to Sinhalese and Muslim influences.
Tamil youths, in particular, are attracted to Prabhakaran’s image as a folk hero. A supernatural image has been created of Prabhakaran, and tales abound of the numerous instances where he narrowly escaped death. These escapades and the fact that he has never seen the inside of a jail cell continue to impress youths who stand in awe of Prabhakaran’s achievements in the Tamil struggle for independence. The mysticism surrounding Prabhakaran, reinforced with massive propaganda campaigns, has endowed him with a god-like status and a cult-like following.
Prabhakaran’s emphasis on iron discipline has contributed to the successes of the LTTE. His tight control over the organization, the severe punishments (including execution) he metes out to violators, and his indoctrination of cadres (including the use of a cyanide capsule rather than submit to capture) have made the LTTE’s organization and strategy difficult to decipher.
In terms of self-discipline, Prabhakaran sets an example that other cadres must abide by. He does not consume liquor or smoke tobacco. Tea, coffee, and carbonated drinks are also considered taboo. Sex outside marriage is forbidden and those cadres who violate this code are executed irrespective of seniority or personal loyalty. Gambling and financial dishonesty are also punishable by death. Homosexuality, interestingly, is not; however, it is dealt with by public humiliation.
Prabhakaran emphasizes rigorous training and rehearsals of operations. By the end of the training regimen, a cadre is physically and psychologically, ready for the most demanding combat. Relentless indoctrination is a powerful tool utilized by Prabhakaran to ensure that a cadre is not forced into battle, but willingly chooses to enter the fray and very likely lay down his or her life for the sake of Tamil Eelam. Prabhakaran rarely visits training bases, but studies videos to improve the curricula. Prabhakaran thoroughly examines military successes and defeats so that he may repeat the successes and develop new mechanisms for overcoming failures.
Prabhakaran does not favour democratic processes. Though there is a central committee of the LTTE on paper, Prabhakaran’s word is decisive. Prabhakaran continues to neutralize all competing Tamil groups and individuals, both moderates and militants, who pose any challenge to his leadership and to the LTTE as the sole representatives of the Tamils. When the importance of politicizing the population before taking to the gun was proposed to him, Prabhakaran commented with undisguised contempt, “You intellectuals are afraid of blood. No struggle will take place without killings.”
Comment by tamilnation.org
“..Ages ago there was a priest of Baal who thought himself commissioned by the god to kill all who did not bow the knee to him. All men, terrified by the power and ferocity of the priest, bowed down before the idol and pretended to be his servants; and the few who refused had to take refuge in hills and deserts. At last, a deliverer came and slew the priest and the world had rest. The slayer was blamed by those who placed religion in quietude and put passivity forward as the ideal ethics but the world looked on the slayer as an incarnation of God. A certain class of mind shrinks from aggressiveness as if it were a sin…Love is a sacred name, but it is easier to speak of love than to love. The Gita is the best answer to those who shrink from battle as a sin, and aggression as lowering morality…Justice and righteousness are the atmosphere of political morality, but the justice and righteousness of a fighter, not of the priest. Aggression is unjust only when unprovoked; violence, unrighteous when used wantonly or for unrighteous ends. It is a barren philosophy which applies a mechanical rule to all actions, or takes a word and tries to fit all human life into it.” Sri Aurobindo in The Morality of the Boycott, May 1908
The Liberation Tigers of Eelam (LTTE), or the Tamil Tigers as they are commonly known, is considered one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“The most problematic issue relating to terrorism and armed conflict is distinguishing terrorists from lawful combatants, both in terms of combatants in legitimate struggles for self-determination and those involved in civil wars or non-international armed conflicts. In the former category, States that do not recognize a claim to self-determination will claim that those using force against the State’s military forces are necessarily terrorists. In the latter, States will also claim that those fighting against the State are terrorists, and that rather than a civil war, there is a situation of “terrorism and counter-terrorism activity”….The controversy over the exact meaning, content, extent and beneficiaries of, as well as the means and methods utilized to enforce the right to self-determination has been the major obstacle to the development of both a comprehensive definition of terrorism and a comprehensive treaty on terrorism. The ideological splits and differing approaches preventing any broad consensus during the period of decolonization still persist in today’s international relations. … Terrorism and Human Rights Final Report of the Special Rapporteur, Kalliopi K. Koufa, 25 June 2004
Established in 1972, the group went underground 3 years later, after assassinating the mayor of Jaffna city. The LTTE is known for its network of contacts with various terrorist groups around the world.
The militants’ choice of the tiger as their symbol represents not only the ferocity of the animal but also a deliberate contrast with the lion, which has traditionally been a symbol of the Sinhalese people and is depicted on the Sri Lankan flag.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“The Chola bronzes are products of the Tamil creative genius during the period that the great Chola dynasty ruled Tamil Nadu during the 9th to 12th Century. The four centuries of Chola rule, is regarded by many as the age of grandeur in the history of the Tamil people. The Tiger emblem of the Cholas inspired both the name of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam as well as the LTTE flag. Renowned for their harmony of form and content, the Chola bronzes speak across centuries – in silence.” South Indian Bronzes – Chola, Pallava & Nayak Periods
The organization has an elite squad known as the Black Tigers, who conduct suicide missions against military and civilian targets. The Black Tigers have assassinated not only prominent political leaders in Sri Lanka but also the former prime minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi.
Previously, the LTTE was viewed by most Tamil civilians as the legitimate defender of the Tamil cause. Much of its funding came from Tamil expatriates as well as the Indian government. However, in recent years, the LTTE has lost much support from Tamil civilians and has resorted to tactics that instil fear in order to control the Tamil community. External support from Tamil expatriates and the Indian government has also waned and as a result, the LTTE has engaged in drug trafficking to finance its operations.
Ideologically, the LTTE has at times employed Marxist rhetoric to characterize its struggle. However, irrespective of ideology, the creation of an independent Tamil state has remained the movement’s only goal. In pursuit of this objective, the LTTE has been prone to use direct and violent action rather than to formulate principles on which the desired independent state would operate. The LTTE as a whole tends not to be susceptible to US influence, especially given the perception that the United States is actively supporting the Sri Lankan armed forces against the LTTE.
Prabhakaran has not groomed a successor. There are rumours that he is preparing his son to replace him, but there is no meaningful intelligence on his family. He deals harshly with any challenge to his leadership. He has eliminated many LTTE members who have either questioned his authority or have been perceived as a threat. He has always felt that the biggest threat to his survival comes from within the organization.
Since Prabhakaran feels that the main threat to his survival comes from within the LTTE, he is obsessed with his personal security. He is known to sleep with a revolver under his pillow. In addition, the only member of the LTTE allowed to carry a firearm in Prabhakaran’s presence is Soranam, the trusted commander of his bodyguard contingent. When Prabhakaran plans to visit a place, he ensures that extensive preparations are taken for his protection. Over a hundred bodyguard cadres (who do not interact with other cadres) are assigned to protect him. It is reported that there are three rings of 40 bodyguards each surrounding Prabhakaran upon his arrival at a particular destination.
Prabhakaran has gradually created a culture where dissent is absent. His close associates are Thamil Chelvam, head of the political branch; Pottu Amman, head of intelligence; Karuna, head of Batticaloa-Amparai commands; Balraj, military commander, Soranam, bodyguard commander, Shankar, head of Air Tigers; Soosai, head of Sea Tigers; Jeyam, special group commander; -and Kumaran Padmanathan, head of procurement. They all merely hold executive posts and carry out Prabhakaran’s dictates. Although Anton Balasingham is considered the ideologue and spokesman of the LTTE, Prabhakaran often sidelines him as well. No one is close enough to Prabhakaran to significantly influence his final decisions. Blind loyalty is the criterion for a close association with him. Prabhakaran’s authority is based on fear and respect.
Prabhakaran is an innovator, improviser, and a technophile. His macabre creativity is reflected in the human bombs, suicide boats, projectiles, and mines the LTTE has been producing over the years.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“…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 tiyäkam that has its roots in the last section of the Bhagavadgitä was revived in the struggle for independence of India…” On the sacrificial ideology of the Liberation Tigers – Peter Schalk, 1993
Irrespective of the cost, he orders the best equipment for himself and his men. LTTE cadres have used night vision goggles and rocket- propelled grenades (RPGs) to engage Sri Lankan troops. If the desired equipment cannot be procured, Prabhakaran will order improvisation using existing equipment for the designated purpose. He also uses satellite communications with LTTE ships and LTTE cells around the world.
Prabhakaran uses deception as an integral part of his modus operandi. In many cases, he has arranged to visit subordinates or has extended olive branches to political targets to lull them into a false sense of security just prior to their assassination. In tactical operations, Prabhakaran would conduct deception manoeuvres to draw attention away from an intended target. LTTE duplicity often factors into the organization’s public posture. Deceptive guidelines are given to LTTE cadres on how best to answer questions posed by the public and media. Carefully worded guidelines are even provided to the Tamil diaspora over the Internet on how best to respond to questions on the conflict posed by non- Sri Lankans. These guidelines are designed to portray LTTE cadres as freedom fighters pitted against a hostile and ruthless government.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him. If he is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is of choleric temper, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected….” Sun Tzu on the Art of War, One of the oldest Military Treatises in the World
Prabhakaran’s mind-set has always been proactive and rarely reactive. Prabhakaran realizes the advantage of seizing the initiative in battle, always exploiting the element of surprise. Retaining the initiative in battle has often favoured the LTTE, both militarily and psychologically.
Prabhakaran is masterful at executing pre-emptive strikes against his enemies. When he perceives a future threat-whether emanating from an individual or a group-Prabhakaran takes the initiative to eliminate it through assassinations, terrorist bombings, or battlefield attacks. Some analysts believe that his actions are also driven by a desire for revenge. The ordered assassination of former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi is a case in point. Most analysts feel that Prabhakaran perceived a future threat emanating from Gandhi (the redeployment of Indian troops to Sri Lanka to disarm the Tigers) and therefore had him assassinated as a pre-emptive measure. However, Prabhakaran also felt a deep sense of betrayal from Gandhi for reversing India’s policy toward the LTTE, which points to revenge as a motive.
Another example of revenge as a possible motive is the January 1998 bombing of a revered Buddhist shrine in Kandy. This LTTE action was rumoured to be Prabhakaran’s retribution for the Sri Lankan Army’s mass destruction of LTTE gravesites. Prabhakaran’s long-term goal is to break the will of the Sinhalese-led government and thus lead it to accede to his demand for a Tamil homeland. To achieve this end, any and all means are justified in his mind. Prabhakaran is likely to continue assassinating political and military leaders as well as bombing key targets in the economic infrastructure. He views the high political and economic costs his actions impose on the government as doors that lead to negotiations. Prabhakaran uses negotiations as a ploy for the LTTE to rearm and regroup, especially after a series of battlefield defeats.
Prabhakaran’s key strengths:
a) Ability to provide highly effective military training and impart discipline-both physical and psychological-to his cadres;
b) Highly successful propaganda campaigns-both local and international;
c) Image as a folk hero;
d) Meticulous (and effective) preparation for battles and campaigns;
e) Ability to innovate and make use of limited resources;
f) Compartmentalization of information within the organization; and
g) Emphasis on security.
a) Increasing alienation of moderate Tamils;
b) Negative public image as a megalomaniac extremist rather than a freedom fighter;
c) Use of tactics that increasingly instil fear among his Tamil subjects rather than earn him support and sympathy;
Comment by tamilnation.org
“… the army seems not to have studied too well the capability of their main opponent – Velupillai Pirabaharan. Pirabaharan is a ‘military genius’ and his political power has given him an advantage to combat our political and military leaders. He has often outwitted, outmanoeuvred and outclassed our military and political leaders. Why is this so? Today after 18 years of battle, most of the victories, sadly, belong to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and we are continuing to fool ourselves… the man behind the weapon is always more important than the weapon itself and that this has been repeatedly proved by the LTTE forces….Pirabaharan has virtually beaten our forces on land and sea….” Sri Lanka Major General Prasanna Dahanayake in an interview reported in the Sinhala owned Sunday Leader, 6 December 1998
d) Insecurity and lack of trust in his comrades in struggle;
e) Willingness to place innocent civilians (Tamil, Sinhalese, and foreign) in harm’s way; and
f) Intransigence toward accepting anything less than an independent homeland.
So far, Prabhakaran has been careful not to target Americans. At times, he seems favourably disposed toward Americans and has even invited the United States to act as a third party mediator in the conflict.
Though there is no evidence suggesting that Prabhakaran will change this posture, the United States should tread carefully and sceptically in any dealings with Prabhakaran. In the past, Prabhakaran has been known to extend olive branches before striking at unsuspecting targets.
If Prabhakaran views US aid to the Sri Lankan government as making a difference on the battlefield to the detriment of the LTTE, his policy toward the United States could change to one of hostility. In the event of such a policy shift, US military trainers, American diplomats, and American businessmen in Sri Lanka would be likely LTTE targets for assassination. US businesses and property would be likely LTTE targets for destruction. However, any harm to US personnel or property would further tarnish Prabhakaran’s image among western countries and moderate Tamils.
Ultimately, Prabhakaran’s raison d’ etre and legitimacy are predicated on Tamil dissatisfaction with and alienation from the government. As government-Tamil relations improve, Prabhakaran’s popularity among Tamils will fade.
Comment by tamilnation.org
“..After a kidney transplant in Oslo, Bala and Adele settled in London. From there, Bala was much freer to conduct negotiations through Norwegian mediators, and the ground was prepared for peace talks culminating in the full-blown agreement of 2002 negotiated by the new Sri Lankan prime minister, Ranil Wickremasinghe. I recall telling Bala a year before, of Wickremasinghe’s boast to me: “They want government? I’ll bog them down with government.” Barry Gardiner M.P. on Anton Balasingham: Chief negotiator for the Tamil Tigers – in the UK Guardian, 2 January 2007
As long as Prabhakaran is alive, any peace offers proposed by the LTTE will not be genuine; negotiations will be used as a short-term tactic for the LTTE to rearm and regroup as battlefield defeats increase.
Comment by tamilnation.org
” The US and India may find common cause in weakening the LTTE – but they seek to weaken it in such a way that thereafter each of them may successfully secure their own strategic interests. And herein lies the conflict – and the difficulty. New Delhi will not support a resolution of the conflict which secures US hegemony in the island. And so it will seek to create Tamil dissidents and build support among them as a way of keeping its foothold in the island. It sought to do so with TELO, it sought to do so with EPRLF and Varadarajah Perumal, it sought to do so with EROS, it sought to do so with Amirthalingam, and now it seeks to so so with Karuna and Anandasangaree. It is within the interstices of this international frame that the struggle of the people of Tamil Eelam to be free from alien Sinhala rule continues under conditions of excruciating agony and suffering . And it is this same international frame which Sinhala Sri Lanka seeks to use to continue its genocidal onslaught on the Tamil people.” Sri Lanka – Tamil Eelam: Getting to Yes – Nadesan Satyendra, 26 October 2006
If LTTE manpower and resources become severely depleted, Prabhakaran may, as a measure of last resort, publicly accept a seemingly long-term political arrangement short of secession, so long as he is able to retain some semblance of power. Again, this would be viewed by Prabhakaran as a temporary situation until he could position himself to confront the government and revert to violence for, the sake of creating an independent Tamil homeland.”
Norwegian Peace Initiative
Sri Lanka – LTTE Ceasefire Agreement
22 February 2002
Full text of the ceasefire agreement signed by the government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam:
The overall objective of the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (hereinafter referred to as the GOSL) and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (hereinafter referred to as the LTTE) is to find a negotiated solution to the ongoing ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka.
The GOSL and the LTTE (hereinafter referred to as the Parties) recognize the importance of bringing an end to the hostilities and improving the living conditions for all inhabitants affected by the conflict. Bringing an end to the hostilities is also seen by the Parties as a means of establishing a positive atmosphere in which further steps towards negotiations on a lasting solution can be taken.
The Parties further recognize that groups that are not directly party to the conflict are also suffering the consequences of it. This is particularly the case as regards the Muslim population. Therefore, the provisions of this Agreement regarding the security of civilians and their property apply to all inhabitants.
With reference to the above, the Parties have agreed to enter into a ceasefire, refrain from conduct that could undermine the good intentions or violate the spirit of this Agreement and implement confidence-building measures as indicated in the articles below.
Article 1: Modalities of a ceasefire
The Parties have agreed to implement a ceasefire between their armed forces as follows:
1.1 A jointly agreed ceasefire between the GOSL and the LTTE shall enter into force on such date as is notified by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs in accordance with Article 4.2, hereinafter referred to as D-day.
1.2 Neither Party shall engage in any offensive military operation. This requires the total cessation of all military action and includes, but is not limited to, such acts as:
a) The firing of direct and indirect weapons, armed raids, ambushes, assassinations, abductions, destruction of civilian or military property, sabotage, suicide missions and activities by deep penetration units;
b) Aerial bombardment;
c) Offensive naval operations.
1.3 The Sri Lankan armed forces shall continue to perform their legitimate task of safeguarding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka without engaging in offensive operations against the LTTE.
Separation of forces
1.4 Where forward defence localities have been established, the GOSL’s armed forces and the LTTE’s fighting formations shall hold their ground positions, maintaining a zone of separation of a minimum of six hundred (600) metres. However, each Party reserves the right of movement within one hundred (100) metres of its own defence localities, keeping an absolute minimum distance of four hundred (400) metres between them. Where existing positions are closer than four hundred (400) metres, no such right of movement applies and the Parties agree to ensure the maximum possible distance between their personnel.
1.5 In areas where localities have not been clearly established, the status quo as regards the areas controlled by the GOSL and the LTTE, respectively, on 24 December 2001 shall continue to apply pending such demarcation as is provided in article 1.6.
1.6 The Parties shall provide information to the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) regarding defence localities in all areas of contention, cf. Article 3. The monitoring mission shall assist the Parties in drawing up demarcation lines at the latest by D-day + 30.
1.7 The Parties shall not move munitions, explosives or military equipment into the area controlled by the other Party.
1.8 Tamil paramilitary groups shall be disarmed by the GOSL by D-day + 30 at the latest. The GOSL shall offer to integrate individuals in these units under the command and disciplinary structure of the GOSL armed forces for service away from the Northern and Eastern Province.
Freedom of movement
1.9 The Parties’ forces shall initially stay in the areas under their respective control, as provided in Article 1.4 and Article 1.5.
1.10 Unarmed GOSL troops shall, as of D- day + 60, be permitted unlimited passage between Jaffna and Vavunyia using the Jaffna-Kandy road (A9). The modalities are to be worked out by the Parties with the assistance of the SLMM.
1.11 The Parties agree that as of D-day individual combatants shall, on the recommendation of their area commander, be permitted, unarmed and in plain clothes, to visit family and friends residing in areas under the control of the other Party. Such visits shall be limited to six days every second month, not including the time of travel by the shortest applicable route. The LTTE shall facilitate the use of the Jaffna-Kandy road for this purpose. The Parties reserve the right to deny entry to specified military areas.
1.12 The Parties agree that as of D-day individual combatants shall, notwithstanding the two-month restriction, be permitted, unarmed and in plain clothes, to visit immediate family (i.e. spouses, children, grandparents, parents and siblings) in connection with weddings or funerals. The right to deny entry to specified military areas applies.
1.13 Fifty (50) unarmed LTTE members shall as of D-day + 30, for the purpose of political work, be permitted freedom of movement in the areas of the North and the East dominated by the GOSL. Additional 100 unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement as of D-day + 60. As of D-day + 90, all unarmed LTTE members shall be permitted freedom of movement in the North and the East. The LTTE members shall carry identity papers. The right of the GOSL to deny entry to specified military areas applies.
Article 2: Measures to restore normalcy
The Parties shall undertake the following confidence-building measures with the aim of restoring normalcy for all inhabitants of Sri Lanka:
2.1 The Parties shall in accordance with international law abstain from hostile acts against the civilian population, including such acts as torture, intimidation, abduction, extortion and harassment.
2.2 The Parties shall refrain from engaging in activities or propagating ideas that could offend cultural or religious sensitivities. Places of worship (temples, churches, mosques and other holy sites, etc.) currently held by the forces of either of the Parties shall be vacated by D-day + 30 and made accessible to the public. Places of worship which are situated in “high security zones” shall be vacated by all armed personnel and maintained in good order by civilian workers, even when they are not made accessible to the public.
2.3 Beginning on the date on which this Agreement enters into force, school buildings occupied by either Party shall be vacated and returned to their intended use. This activity shall be completed by D-day + 160 at the latest.
2.4 A schedule indicating the return of all other public buildings to their intended use shall be drawn up by the Parties and published at the latest by D-day + 30.
2.5 The Parties shall review the security measures and the set-up of checkpoints, particularly in densely populated cities and towns, in order to introduce systems that will prevent harassment of the civilian population. Such systems shall be in place from D-day + 60.
2.6 The Parties agree to ensure the unimpeded flow of non-military goods to and from the LTTE-dominated areas with the exception of certain items as shown in Annex A. Quantities shall be determined by market demand. The GOSL shall regularly review the matter with the aim of gradually removing any remaining restrictions on non-military goods.
2.7 In order to facilitate the flow of goods and the movement of civilians, the Parties agree to establish checkpoints on their line of control at such locations as are specified in Annex B.
2.8 The Parties shall take steps to ensure that the Trincomalee-Habarana road remains open on a 24-hour basis for passenger traffic with effect from D-day + 10.
2.9 The Parties shall facilitate the extension of the rail service on the Batticaloa-line to Welikanda. Repairs and maintenance shall be carried out by the GOSL in order to extend the service up to Batticaloa.
2.10 The Parties shall open the Kandy-Jaffna road (A9) to non-military traffic of goods and passengers. Specific modalities shall be worked out by the Parties with the assistance of the Royal Norwegian Government by D-day + 30 at the latest.
2.11 A gradual easing of the fishing restrictions shall take place starting from D-day. As of D-day + 90, all restrictions on day and night fishing shall be removed, subject to the following exceptions: (i) fishing will not be permitted on (hereinafter referred to as the SLMM).
2.12 The Parties agree that search operations and arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act shall not take place. Arrests shall be conducted under due process of law in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Code.
2.13 The Parties agree to provide family members of detainees access to the detainees within D-day + 30.
Article 3: The Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
The Parties have agreed to set up an international monitoring mission to enquire into any instance of violation of the terms and conditions of this Agreement. Both Parties shall fully cooperate to rectify any matter of conflict caused by their respective sides. The mission shall conduct international verification through on-site monitoring of the fulfilment of the commitments entered into in this Agreement as follows:
3.1 The name of the monitoring mission shall be the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission
3.2 Subject to acceptance by the Parties, the Royal Norwegian Government (hereinafter referred to as the RNG) shall appoint the Head of the SLMM (hereinafter referred to as the HoM), who shall be the final authority regarding interpretation of this Agreement.
3.3 The SLMM shall liaise with the Parties and report to the RNG.
3.4 The HoM shall decide the date for the commencement of the SLMM’s operations.
3.5 The SLMM shall be composed of representatives from Nordic countries.
3.6 The SLMM shall establish a headquarters in such place as the HoM finds appropriate. An office shall be established in Colombo and in Vanni in order to liaise with the GOSL and the LTTE, respectively. The SLMM will maintain a presence in the districts of Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai.within an area of 1 nautical mile on either side along the coast and 2 nautical miles seawards from all security forces camps on the coast; (ii) fishing will not be permitted in harbours or approaches to harbours, bays and estuaries along the coast.
3.7 A local monitoring committee shall be established in Jaffna, Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Amparai. Each committee shall consist of five members, two appointed by the GOSL, two by the LTTE and one international monitor appointed by the HoM. The international monitor shall chair the committee. The GOSL and the LTTE appointees may be selected from among retired judges, public servants, religious leaders or similar leading citizens.
3.8 The committees shall serve the SLMM in an advisory capacity and discuss issues relating to the implementation of this Agreement in their respective districts, with a view to establishing a common understanding of such issues. In particular, they will seek to resolve any dispute concerning the implementation of this Agreement at the lowest possible level.
3.9 The Parties shall be responsible for the appropriate protection of and security arrangements for all SLMM members.
3.10 The Parties agree to ensure the freedom of movement of the SLMM members in performing their tasks. The members of the SLMM shall be given immediate access to areas where violations of the Agreement are alleged to have taken place. The Parties also agree to facilitate the widest possible access to such areas for the local members of the six above-mentioned committees, cf. Article 3.7.
3.11 It shall be the responsibility of the SLMM to take immediate action on any complaints made by either Party to the Agreement, and to enquire into and assist the Parties in the settlement of any dispute that might arise in connection with such complaints.
3.12 With the aim of resolving disputes at the lowest possible level, communication shall be established between commanders of the GOSL armed forces and the LTTE area leaders to enable them to resolve problems in the conflict zones.
3.13 Guidelines for the operations of the SLMM shall be established in a separate document.
Article 4: Entry into force, amendments and termination of the Agreement
4.1 Each Party shall notify its consent to be bound by this Agreement through a letter to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs signed by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on behalf of the GOSL and by leader Velupillai Pirabaharan on behalf of the LTTE, respectively. The Agreement shall be initialled by each Party and enclosed in the above-mentioned letter.
4.2 The Agreement shall enter into force on such date as is notified by the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs.
4.3 This Agreement may be amended and modified by mutual agreement of both Parties. Such amendments shall be notified in writing to the RNG.
4.4 This Agreement shall remain in force until notice of termination is given by either Party to the RNG. Such notice shall be given fourteen (14) days in advance of the effective date of termination.
‘How I Became a Freedom Fighter’
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, 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
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