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(This is an English rendition of the profile published by WTM)
Chapter I: Family Background and Childhood Days of Pirabaharan
Valvettithurai was one of the important Northern ports during the period of the Jaffna Kingdom and even before. It served as a bridge between northern Tamil Eelam and the port of Kodikkarai in Tamil Nadu. The people of Valvettithurai are brave sailors who traveled the stormy seas and amassed great wealth through trade. This sea-port has earned an indelible fame in the annals of Tamil Eelam. This is because it is the birthplace of Pirabaharan, founder of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Liberation (LTTE), who with popular support of the people is leading the Tamil Eelam National struggle. He is now unanimously accepted as the National Leader of Tamil Eelam. He was born in this historic village on 26th, November 1954.
“Thirumeniyar family” is one of the reputed families in Valvettithurai. Thirumeniyar is one of 4 sons born to Iyampillai Velayuthar. His brothers are Gnanamoorthiyar, Puniyamoorthiyar and Arumugathaar. Thirumeniyar’s maternal uncle Ponnambalam was a successful businessman and was conferred with the title of Mudali during the Dutch period. Thirumeniyar Venkadasalam alias Thirumeniyar Periyathambiyar erected the famous Vaitheeswaran Sivan temple of Valvai according to the wish of his father.
The temple construction commenced in 1867 and was consecrated in 1883. He renovated two more temples viz Vaikunthap Pillayar and Puddanip Pilaiyar temples. He also built many Madams for the use of pilgrims at Mullaithivu. The family also built two more temples. Valvai Muthu Mariamman temple and Nediyakadu Pillaiyar temple. Another family called Methaiveedu Nagalingam lived in the adjoining town of Point Pedro. This family was also reputed for building many temples in this area. These two families were joined together through marriage. Thiruvenkadam Velupillai of Thirumeniyar family married Paarvathy of Nagalingam family.
Pirabaharan was the youngest child born in that family. Pirabaharan has one elder brother and two elder sisters. All of them are happily married and settled down in life. One of his sisters, Vinothini Rajendram is in Canada. The other sister and brother are living in Denmark.
Pirabaharan's father served under the Ceylon government as a District Land Officer for several years. Pirabaharan’s father and mother are domiciled in Tiruchi, Tamil Nadu at present.
Pirabaharan had his education upto 10th grade at Sithamparam Vidyalayam in Oorikkadu, Valvettithurai.
In those days the sole ambition of children from affluent and middle class families was to receive good English education and then seek employment abroad or secure employment in the government. But from his childhood days Pirabaharan's way of thinking was completely different.
When he travelled with his father to the other parts of Ceylon he saw for himself how the Sinhalese policemen ill-treated innocent Tamil people by kicking and beating them. Such incidents caused shock and pain and left deep scars in his psyche.
Especially, the first major genocidal attack against the Tamils during 1958 affected his mind profoundly. Still in his teens, he heard numerous heart-aching stories of inhuman and brutal murders of Tamils by racist Sinhalese goon squads and thugs.
He heard at first hand from a widowed mother who is well known to his parents the anguish and pain she suffered. How Tamil children were killed by heartless mobs by throwing them into cauldrons of boiling tar. How a Hindu priest was burnt alive at a temple in Panadura. So when he came to know how the unfortunate Tamils have been at the receiving end of horrible attacks at the hands of Sinhalese goons, he developed deep sympathy, love and a firm resolve to defend the defenseless the Tamil people.
So he perfected an irresistible urge in his mind to free the Tamil people from the clutches of the oppressive Sinhalese government. He came to the firm and resolute conclusion that the only way to confront the racist Sinhalese government which used military might against the defenseless and innocent Tamil people is through armed struggle.
So during his student days, he and his friends learnt the art of making improvised hand grenades. On one such occasion a grenade exploded accidentally and he received burnt marks on his leg. After medical treatment the burnt area became black. This earned him the nickname 'Karikalan' (person with a blackened leg) when he was still a young lad.
The standardization system introduced by the Sinhala government in 1971 acted as a stumbling block against Tamil students gaining entry to Universities after finishing high school. Pirabaharan who studied upto 10th grade could not continue his studies because of his involvement as a liberation fighter.
Pirabaharan's parents were completely unaware of his clandestine activities. But the opportunity for the parents to know of his clandestine revolutionary activities came knocking at the door on its own.
One day a posse of policemen came in search of Pirabaharan. They knocked at the front door of his house at the unholy hour of 3 a.m. in the morning. Immediately on hearing the knocks, Pirabaharan immediately knew it is the Police had come in search of him. Sensing trouble, he vanished thorugh the back door into the darkness of the night without anyone's knowledge.
Pirabaharan’s mother opened the door and was startled to see several policemen in khaki uniform standing in front of the house. She was shocked because at that time she was unaware of Pirabaharan’s involvement in any ‘clandestine movement’. Finally, after a thorough search of the house a disappointed Police went back empty handed failing to apprehend Pirabaharan. He was only 19 years old at that time and he never returned home thereafter.
When his father came to know of his involvement in revolutionary activities, he went to Pirabaharan’s hideout and brought him back home.
Pirabaharan told his parents "I will never be of any use to you or to other members of the family. Let there be no trouble for you because of me. Please allow me to go my own way. In future never expect anything from me." So saying he left the house. Then he plunged himself fully in the clandestine activities of the movement. He became a full time activist living under ground and moving from place to place to escape arrest by the Police.His Early Comrades in the Revolutionary Movement
His early comrades in the movement were youngsters and relatives from his own village of Valvettithurai. This is to be expected when a revolutionary movement is launched by someone still in his teens. Such a situation is unavoidable and quite natural.
The Birth of the New Tamil Tigers
During the early part of 1970, strong repressive measures unleashed by the government against Tamils and the blatant discrimination perpetuated against them in all spheres of life created a strong wave of resentment among Tamil youths. They were itching to launch some retaliatory action against the Sinhalese chauvinistic government. Neither the Tamil political parties nor the Sinhalese leftist organizations understood the simmering mind-set of the Tamil youths.
The Tamil youths thought that there were no Tamil political leaders or organizations to stand up and fight on behalf of the oppressed Tamil people. Although the Tamil leaders engaged themselves in various non-violent struggles for more than 30 years, they were treated like outcasts by the government. No one listened to their protests in Parliament. Their protests echoed like cries in the wilderness.
The leftist parties which became victims of Sinhalese chauvinism after 1956 worked against the Tamils. So they too completely ignored the political struggle of the Tamils. Therefore, the Tamil youths were not prepared to trust these leftist parties as well.
Under these circumstances a student movement was started in 1970 under the name “Thamizh MAnavar PEravai” ('Tamil Students Union'). The TSU brought together all the Tamil students and mounted several protest demonstrations, rallies and processions against standardization to University admissions introduced by the government. The TSU became a powerful force among the Tamil students. Tamil youths gradually began to realise that only through an armed revolutionary struggle that Tamils could liberate themselves from the tyranny of Sinhalese hegemonic rule.
The TSU grew to become a very strong organization. Pirabaharan was in the forefront as the leader of the militant wing. As he was the youngest person in that group he was fondly called 'Thamby' (younger brother) by other members of the group. Even today there are people who call him by this name. At the beginning, these young men learnt the art of making hand grenades and using firearms all by themselves. There were about 25 young men in this militant group, all of them close associates of Pirabaharan hailing from Valvettithurai.
During this time to show their opposition to the government, 4 youths under the leadership of Pirabaharan decided to set fire to a government owned Ceylon Transport Board (CTB) bus. But half way. through fear the other three ran away. Only Pirabaharan who was only 16 years-old at that time boldly set fire to the bus and returned. Pirabaharan’s boldness earned the admiration of every one without exception. Those members of the group who were older than him admired Pirabaharan’s bravery and his ability to execute successfully all the difficult tasks assigned to him. All members reposed confidence in Pirabaharan who became symbolic of Tamil militancy and forerunner of Tamil militant movement.
At the same time, the Sinhalese government which was closely monitoring the activities of the TSU attempted to suppress it by using brute force. Some members of the TSU were arrested and tortured by the police. Unable to bear the torture, a few of them broke-down and spilled the beans. In the process they unwittingly betrayed their colleagues to the police. Then the Sinhala police started to hunt down members of the militant group. They arrested many of them, locked them in prisons and tortured them. It was during this period the 4th Storey building in Colombo Fort became famous for torturing Tamil youths. Not wishing to take unnecessary risk, Pirabaharan went over to Tamil Nadu.
Pirabaharan did not stay long in Tamil Nadu. He returned to Tamil Eelam during the early part of 1972. There was an urge among the various revolutionary youths who remained scattered for a revolutionary leadership to head a strong revolutionary movement wedded to revolutionary political philosophy. It is under these circumstances the New Tamil Tigers was launched by Pirabaharan in the middle part of 1972. He was only 17 years- old at that time. The movement was organized with very strict code of conduct and discipline from the very beginning.
Chapter 2: New Tamil Tigers and Their Activities
Pirabaharan was both the leader and military commander of the “ New Tamil Tigers”. From the very beginning, Pirabaharan himself personally recruited brave young men committed to self-sacrifice and revolutionary flavour to the movement. He himself provided them the required military training and political indoctrination.
(1) First Military Operation
The first military operation of the “ New Tamil Tigers' was carried out under the command of Pirabaharan on July 17th 1975. Alfred Duraiappah, the then Mayor of Jaffna and S.L.F.P. Jaffna electorate organizer was the first victim. He was shot dead when he came to worship at the Varatharajah Perumal Temple at Ponnalai. After the successful operation the Tamil Tigers escaped in the Mayor's car after snatching the keys from the driver.
The credit for planning, executing and leading the first operation successfully goes to Pirabaharan. This incident became a strong warning signal to those Tamil traitors who wanted to betray the Tamil people’s liberation struggle. Above everything, this incident gave confidence to the freedom-thirsty Tamil youths in their long and difficult march towards Tamil Eelam. Many youths joined the movement in the fight against internal and external enemies under the able and trusted leadership of Pirabaharan.
(2) “New Tamil Tigers”
The clandestine movement needed large amount of funds to operate underground. Therefore, they were forced to rob government owned banks to finance their activities. Although the Sri Lankan government collected revenue in the form of taxes from all the people, it neglected completely the Tamil areas in national development schemes. Pirabaharan, therefore, felt that it is not immoral to rob the government to finance the Tamil liberation struggle. So on 5th March 1976, Pirabaharan with his comrades entered the People's Bank branch at Puthur in broad light and took away 5 lakhs in cash and 2 lakhs worth of jewelry at gunpoint.
After the murder of Alfred Duraiappah and the bank robbery the government set up a special intelligence squad in the North. It was created by the Police Headquarters in Colombo with the sole purpose of completely wiping-out the New Tamil Tigers. This division commenced its work in Tamil areas with the help of informants and traitors.
(3) Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
The “ New Tamil Tigers'” organization took the new name of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on May 5th 1976. Pirabaharan remained the political leader and military commander. Some stringent rules and regulations in force during the time of the New Tamil Tigers were relaxed and new regulations were introduced with the object of facilitating the participation of all people in the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle.
Furthermore, Pirabaharan constituted the organization as an urban guerrilla movement with the objective of carrying out a long drawn-out people’s war for the national liberation of Tamil people.
With prophetic foresight Pirabaharan realized that the guerrilla method of warfare is the only viable option for unarmed and numerically smaller nation to fight against the military might of the Sinhala chauvinistic regime. He also correctly anticipated that a guerrilla warfare will be a fore-runner to a full-blooded armed mass liberation struggle in which everyone will participate.
By way of explanation Pirabaharan said "Guerrilla warfare is really mass struggle. It is not in conflict with mass struggle. Guerrilla warfare is the highest form of mass struggle. When it takes root in the hearts of the entire populace and reflect their aspirations it becomes a mass struggle. My object is to achieve this purpose of making all take active part in this guerilla warfare."
In this liberation struggle, leader Pirabaharan divided the military activities of Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam into three main divisions.
(1) Eliminating Sri Lanka’s police spies and Tamil traitors who help them.
(2) Crippling the administrative structure of the Sri Lankan police force functioning in Tamil Eelam.
(3) Destroying army troops and camps by mounting covert and overt attacks and bring them under LTTE control followed by setting up civil administration appropriate to the Tamil people through which self-rule is established in Tamil Eelam.
On July 02, 1976 Nadarajah, Manager Petrol depot. from Urumpirai was shot dead.
On Feb 14, 1977 police constable Karunanithy was shot dead at Maviddapuram.
On May 18, 1977 two policemen bearing the same name Shanmuganathan were shot dead at Inuvil.
(In August 1977, the UNP. government successfully carried out a genocidal attack on Tamils' throughout the island.)
On January 27, 1978 Kanagaratnam, TULF candidate for Pottuvil was shot at Colombo.
On April 07, 1978 Inspector Bastiampillai, who gained notoriety for torturing Tamil suspects at the CID office on 4th floor, and four other police officers were killed in the jungles adjoining Madhu church in Murungan.
On April 25, 1978 for the first time LTTE issued a statement publicly claiming responsibility for military operations from the days of New Tamil Tigers to LTTE totaling 11 military operations.
On May 19, 1978 a “Law proscribing the LTTE” was passed by the Sri Lanka Parliament. This law gave very wide powers to the army to eliminate LTTE cadres.
On September 07, 1978 a “ New Constitution” was passed by the UNP government of J.R Jayawardene which relegated Tamil language to 2nd place.
On December 05, 1978 Rs.12 lakhs was robbed from the government owned bank at Thirunelveli after killing two policemen.
On July 20, 1979 J.R.’s government passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act to strengthen the previous law which proscribed the LTTE. Under this law a person can be detained incommunicado for 18 months without trial or charges.
On the very same day of the passage of the Prevention of Terrorist Act, a state of Emergency was declared in the Northern province. Immediately, J.R. dispatched his nephew Brigadier (Bull) Weeratunga to the North with instructions to “Destroy terrorism in all its form” in six months, that is on or before December 31, 1979.
When the Sri Lankan government under J.R. intensified military oppression of Tamil people and launched a no-holes barred war to destroy the LTTE completely; Pirabaharan decided to strengthen and expand both military and political activities to confront government’s counter insurgency plans. Towards this end, he decided to suspend all military actions temporarily during 1979 and 1980 and concentrated all his attention in strengthening and expanding the Tiger organization.
It was during this period he drafted a full-fledged ‘revolutionary political doctrine’ through which he intended creating an army of fighters who were politically conscious. During this period establishing LTTE branches for the purpose of forging friendly relations with progressive movements remained one of Pirabaharan’s high priority.
On May 31, 1981 the Sinhala army and police together with UNP thugs set the Jaffna city on fire. They burnt to ashes the Jaffna library considered one of the best in South Asia that contained priceless collections of more than 94,000 books and rare manuscripts.
The Eelanadu newspaper publishing house was also burnt down. The duo who spearheaded the Tamil cultural genocide were two senior cabinet ministers known for their chauvinism, Cyril Matthew and Gamini Dissanayake of the UNP government. Gamini Dissanayake later became the leader of the opposition and UNP presidential candidate in the 1994 elections. He was killed in a suicide attack on October 24, 1994.
At this stage, Pirabaharan wanted to make the Sinhala chauvinistic government to realise the fact that Tamils cannot be cowed down through state terrorism and violence. So he gave orders to his cadres to mount attacks against government troops. The attacks gradually became escalated in frequency and intensity.
The First Attack against the Sri Lankan Army
On October 15, 1981 the Tigers launched their first attack against the Sri Lankan army by attacking an army truck which came along K.K.S road in Jaffna town. Two soldiers were killed and their arms taken away by the LTTE. In the history of the Liberation struggle of Tamil Eelam this was the first attack on the Sri Lankan army.
On July 02, 1982 four soldiers were killed and three wounded in an attack that took place at Nelliady. The dead soldiers’ arms and ammunitons were also taken away by the LTTE.
On September 29, 1982 the Tigers exploded land mines to cause damage to navy trucks coming on the Ponnalai causeway from Karainagar Naval base as a mark of protest to J.R. Jayawardene’s visit to Jaffna for an election campaign.
On October 27, 1982 the Tigers attacked Chavakachcheri police station and killed 3 policemen and wounded three more. During this successful attack Tigers captured a large quantity of arms and ammunition. Following this attack many police stations in the North were closed and police administration became thoroughly disorganized and paralyzed.
On February 18, 1983 two policemen attached to the Point Pedro police station were shot and killed.
On March 4, 1983 the Tigers launched an attack on a convoy of army vehicles at Umayalpuram near Paranthan and fought face to face with the army for an hour. In this encounter one armoured vehicle was damaged and five soldiers were seriously wounded.
When the Government .Agent of Jaffna wanted to convene a ‘security conference’ at the Jaffna Secretariat to discuss ways and means of maintaining peace and security in the Northern region, the LTTE to show their opposition to the Sri Lankan government bombed and blasted the Jaffna secretariat building just one hour before the commencement of the conference.
On May 18, 1983 the government decided to hold local government election in the Northern province. LTTE leader Pirabaharan appealed to the people of Tamil Eelam to boycott this election. He issued a clarion call urging all Tamils to free themselves from the election mirage of the Sri Lankan government and to reject the government administrative machinery. He further appealed to all the people to rally around the armed struggle for freedom.
On April 23, 1983 as a warning to all those Tamil traitors who were supporting the Sinhala chauvinistic government, three UNP supporters were shot dead by the Tigers. As a result of this military operation, many Tamil candidates who stood for elections on the UNP . ticket backed away and many more deserted the UNP.
On May 18, 1983 on local government election day and just an hour before closing of the poll, Tigers attacked army and police personnel who were guarding the election booth at Kantharmadam, Nallur and killed one soldier and wounded two policemen and two soldiers. The Tigers recovered a RPG automatic rifle from the dead soldier.
Rattled by the successful attacks on the armed forces by the LTTE, J.R. Jayawardena’s government gave full powers to the army to shoot down any suspected freedom fighter ( in government parlance terrorist) at any place and to bury the dead without postmortem examination or judicial inquiry.
At midnight on 23rd July 1983, an assault group consisting of 14 Tigers, including Pirabaharan, lay in ambush at Palaly road at Thirunelveli. The assault group’s command was given to Lieut. Sellakkili by Pirabaharan. When the army convoy arrived at the exact spot, Tigers commenced the attack by activating the land mines. Thirteen Sinhalese soldiers were killed in this attack besides capturing some weapons. Pirabaharan alone shot and killed 7 soldiers in this attack.
This attack shook the Sinhala army establishment and they were thoroughly shaken up. Exploiting the incident as an excuse, the Sinhala government, which was waiting eagerly for such an opportunity, unleashed racial riots throughout the island. It was a well-planned pogrom and thousands of Tamils were brutally murdered. Tamil women were raped. The economic base of Tamils in Colombo were totally destroyed. This genocide was carried out by Sinhalese thugs ably aided and abetted by the army, police, cabinet Ministers, Members of Parliament and yellow-robed Buddhist monks.
Only after this holocaust, the Tamils fully realized that they and their progeny can never live in peace and security unless they free Tamil Eelam from the clutches of the Sri Lankan terrorist state and make it an independent political entity. This great awakening galvanized ordinary people to join the freedom struggle. Many young men and women fired by revolutionary fervour queued up to join the LTTE.
Chapter 3 : Tamil Eelam War 1 (August 1984 - July 1987)
Jolted by the July 1983 pogrom that was engineered and executed by the Sri Lankan government against the Tamil people, large number of young men and women joined the LTTE. The ranks of the LTTE swelled many-fold. Guerilla formations multiplied. Under these conditions, Pirabaharan with the objective of converting these formations into a uniformed revolutionary people's army took steps to expand their political and military activities. So from July 1983 to February 1984, Pirabaharan temporarily suspended all military operations and instead drew up mass training programs and expanded both political and military structures.
Thys the turning point in Tamil Eelam freedom struggle commenced with the genocide of July 1983. During this critical period Pirabaharan stood like the eye of the storm against all odds, proving himself equal to all opposition. He easily emerged as the only great leader to take Tamil people’s liberation struggle successfully forward.
Intervention of India
During these years, the Indian government which was closely monitoring developments in the island of Ceylon and the direction of the liberation struggle, especially the political and military maneuvers of the LTTE leader Pirabaharan, decided to intervene. Prime Minister Indra Gandhi decided to intervene on the basis of July 1983 pogrom against the Tamil people.
In July 1983, the Indian government to advance its own geo-political interests in the Indian ocean, decided to bring the island of Ceylon under its sphere of influence by applying political and military pressure.
The Indian government through RAW provided arms and training to the cadres belonging to the various militant groups fighting for the liberation of Tamil Eelam. The Indian government strategy was to give extra arms and money to some of the movements, so that it could manipulate at will the military balance between them in such a way as to bring the LTTE and its leader, who took an uncompromising stand on the question of Tamil Eelam liberation, under its control. If this was not possible then to destroy the LTTE completely.
Pirabaharan who was sharp enough to see through the Indian government's machinations drew up his own plans. While accepting Indian government offers of arms and training, he secretively and without the knowledge of the Indian government and its spy agency RAW managed to induct supplies of arms and ammunitions necessary for a liberation war into Tamil Eelam.
Military operations commenced on 24th February 1984. Under the leadership of Pirabaharan armed struggle in Tamil Eelam became intensified. Tiger formations launched systematic and continuous guerilla attacks on the army and killed hundreds of soldiers. The infuriated army in retaliation attacked and killed unarmed civilians. Yet the people of Tamil Eelam in spite of the suffering were highly elated at the unprecedented military feats of the Tigers under the leadership of Pirabaharan.
On October 24, 1984 Prime Minister Indra Gandhi was killed by her own bodyguards. Rajiv Gandhi who was an air pilot by profession and the eldest son of Indra Gandhi was appointed Prime Minister of India. He had no experience in politics and entertained wrong notions about the ethnic conflict raging in Sri Lanka. He was ignorant of the dynamics of the Tamil Eelam liberation struggle, especially about understanding Pirabaharan. Right from the time of assuming office, he failed to appreciate the fact that Tamils in Sri Lanka suffered oppression at the hands of the Sri Lankan government and they have been denied even the basic rights as a people. Hence he started acting favorably towards the Sinhalese government and in hostility to the Tamil Eelam freedom struggle. This attitude created tensions between the Indian government and Pirabaharan, more precisly between Rajiv Gandhi and Pirabaharan.
Pirabaharan with Charles Anthony
Pirabaharan at the age of 31 married Mathivathani, an under-graduate student of the Jaffna University in 1984. She is from Punkudutivu, an island situated off the Jaffna peninsula. They have two sons and one daughter.
Talks At Thimpu
Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi collected a coterie of ‘special advisors’ around him by-passing officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in dealing with the island’s ethnic problem. Especially, he ignored A,P. Venkadeswaran, foreign secretary of India who was then forced to resign his office. Rajiv Gandhi’s antagonism towards Venkadeswaran might be due to the fact he was a Tamil. This led to a situation where Rajiv Gandhi’s own whims and fancies became India’s official foreign policy.
Right from the beginning of 1985, the Indian government started applying undue pressure on the LTTE and Pirabaharan to stop guerilla attacks against the army. It arranged a cease- fire between the Tigers and the Sinhala armed forces beginning 18th June 1985. Under Indian government mediation, negotiations began at Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan. All the Tamil liberation groups-ranging from the moderate TULF to the LTTE - jointly enunciated “four cardinal principles” that should form the basis on which a solution to the Tamil national problem should be found. The "four cardinal principles" better known as Thimpu principles in Tamil political discourse are:
It is our considered view that any meaningful solution to the Tamil national question must be based on the following four cardinal principles:
(1) recognition of the Tamils of Ceylon as a nation;
(2) recognition of the existence of an identified homeland for the Tamils in Ceylon;
(3)recognition of the right of self determination of the Tamil nation; and
(4) recognition of the right to citizenship and the fundamental rights of all Tamils in Ceylon.
The Sri Lankan Government headed by J. R. Jayawardene rejected these proposals in toto resulting in a stalemate in talks. In the meantime, the Sinhalese army breached the cease-fire by killing more than 200 Tamil civilians in Trincomalee and Vavuniya. The talks then collapsed for good when Tamil representatives withdrew. During this time Pirabaharan was having consultation with his area commanders about the cease-fire, the talks taking place at Thimpu and future plan of action.
Following the failure of the talks at Thimpu, Anton Balasingham, political advisor to LTTE, was forcibly expelled from India by the Indian authorities. This action brought about deep cleavage and sharp conflict between Pirabaharan and the Indian government. Yet Pirabaharan made clear the LTTE's stand towards India. He declared "We need India's goodwill and assistance. At the same we do not like India imposing its decisions on the people of Tamil Eelam, against their wishes. Our people have the inalienable right to decide about their own future."
But the Indian Prime Minister and the Indian government failed to comprehend Pirabaharan’s commitment and his determination to liberate the people of Tamil Eelam. In October, 1986 the Indian government pressured the Tamil Nadu Chief minister to confiscate LTTE’s communication equipment. The Tamil Nadu police arrested Pirabaharan and other LTTE cadres, took them to the police station and locked them up. They were treated like ordinary criminals by the police.
Fast unto Death
In this situation, there was a big question mark about Pirabaharan’s next move. Contrary to everyone’s expectation, the youthful leader of the armed movement and the terror of the Sinhalese armed forces, commenced a fast unto death on November 22, 1986. He said that he will not give up his fast unless and until the Tamil Nadu government hands back the communication equipment confiscated. His fast unto death caused shock among all and sundry. Having fully understood the firm determination of Pirabaharan, the Tamil Nadu government gave in and returned back the equipment. Reciprocating the gesture of the Tamil Nadu gopvernment, notably its Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran, Pirabaharan ended his fast. Later at a press conference reporters asked a barrage of questions about his fast.
Pirabaharan with MGR
Reporter: " Since you have come out victorious in your non-violent campaign, why can't you adopt the same method of warfare even in Sri Lanka? What is the necessity for an armed struggle?"
Pirabaharan: "India is the only country in history which gained its independence through non-violent means. India understands the sacredness of non-violent struggle and hence victory for my non-violent Satyagraha. But Satyagraha will not work in racist Sri Lanka which is bereft of any humanism or sense of justice. Hence the armed struggle as the only alternative in Tamil Eelam."
When Sri Lanka President J.R. Jayawardene came to Bangalore to participate in the SAARC annual conference, Pirabaharan who was in Tamil Nadu was taken there along with his political advisors to hold talks with him. Indian government informed Pirabaharan about President Jayawardene’s proposal to give the Northern province to the Tamils, but divide Eastern province into three parts among Tamils, Muslims, and Sinhalese.
Pirabaharan rejected this proposal out of hand as completely unacceptable. He asked “ When we are demanding the merger of North and East into one, how could we then accept the proposal to divide two into four?”
It was at this Bangalore conference that Jayawardene via the Indian government made an offer to make Pirabaharan the Chief Minister of the Northern Province.
To this offer Pirabaharan gave a fitting reply “This is a deceptive and a dubious trap conceived to exterminate the Tamil race. Chief Minister is a puppet post which the President could dismiss at his own whim and fancy. It is a post with no substantial powers in which you cannot render any meaningful service to the people at all.” He rejected the offer out of hand with the contempt it deserved.
Returning to Tamil Eelam
Pirabaharan realised that as long as he stayed in India, there is bound to be pressure brought on him by the central and state governments. He can be even murdered in Delhi or Madras and thereby bring to an end the armed struggle for Tamil Eelam. On the whole he sensed a lurking danger to his life as long as he continued to stay in Tamil Nadu. Convinced that only his return to Tamil Eelam will help intensify the armed struggle, he returned to Tamil Eelam on January 3, 1987.
While Pirabaharan’s return made the Sri Lankan Government and the army panic-stricken, confusion gripped the Indian Government and its intelligence outfit RAW. The Indian government evolved a master plan to intervene militarily in the war between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. Towards this end India wanted to give indirect military help to the Sri Lankan army to take on the LTTE. Simultaneously India wanted to pose off as the “Saviour” of the Tamil people from the genocidal attacks launched by the Sinhala army.
On May 1, 1987, in his May Day address to the people of Tamil Eelam Pirabaharan said,
“We have to win our freedom through armed struggle and by shedding of blood. There is no other easy way or alternative left for us. Either we perish as slaves or fight with arms and live as free people. This is our political fate. All of us make a firm resolve on this May Day. That is, an independent Tamil Eelam is the only solution and the ultimate solution to our problem. To secure this goal of an independent Tamil Eelam, let us all fight to the last sacrificing our lives, limbs and souls. Let this be our May Day resolve and proclamation!”
Direct Military Intervention of India in Tamil Eelam
On July 24, 1987, some Indian officials met Pirabaharan in Jaffna and informed him that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi wants to meet him and talk to him on a very important subject. So saying they tried to fly him to Delhi post-haste.
On the backdrop of this political turnaround, Pirabaharan addressed a message to the people of Tamil Eelam which read as follows:
“I can assure you that today the Tamils have chosen a leadership which can win for them their goal of Tamil Eelam. I am fully confident that I can carry out this tremendous responsibility vested on my shoulders by you truthfully, sincerely and courageously. I do not believe any ad hoc solution will solve our problem. I am working hard to arrive at a solution which will guarantee permanent peace, bright and prosperous future for all Tamils. I believe that solution is an independent Tamil Eelam. Today, on an official invitation extended by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, I am leaving Tamil Eelam for India.”
Thereafter, he left for Delhi in an Indian army helicopter sent by the Government of India. On the way Pirabaharan stopped at Madras and had talks with the Chief Minister M.G. Ramachandran. Nobody knew why he was invited to Delhi in such a mighty hurry. When he and his advisors arrived in Delhi they were lodged at the Asoka Hotel.
In Delhi, the Indian high Commissioner for Sri Lanka J.N. Dixit , Foreign Ministry Secretary K.P.S. Menon and other officials met Pirabaharan. They told him for the first time about the proposed ‘Indo- Ceylon Agreement.’ The officials showed him a copy of the draft agreement, but took it back immediately. Pirabaharan firmly refused to accept the draft agreement. Several attempts were made to coax Pirabaharan into falling in line, but he stood his ground.
Then they told him Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi wanted to see him and talk to him. But even after the lapse of four days, there was no rendezvous with the Prime Minister.
J.N. Dixit, former High Commissioner and a key advisor to Rajiv Gandhi during these political developments has given a clear insight into the Indian mind-set and the policy options discussed in the corridors of power in Delhi. In his book Assignment Colombo (, Konarak Publishers, 1998), he reminisces candidly:
“My advice to him (Rajiv Gandhi) after the failure of our initiatives at the Bangalore SAARC summit was that India's purely mediatory efforts were not likely to succeed. I was of the view that India had to shift its role from that of a mediator to a peace-maker and the guarantor of such peace if the crisis in Sri Lanka was to be resolved. It was also my considered opinion that the LTTE's insistence on the creation of a separate Tamil state in Sri Lanka, based on ethnic, linguistic and religious considerations, would have far-reaching negative implications for India's unity and territorial integrity too. The LTTE's clandestinely publicised objective of a Greater Eelam would have its impact notably on India but the rest of South-East Asian countries with Tamil populations.
I was convinced that the LTTE's objective of creating a separate political entity, purely on the basis of language, ethnicity and religion, would be a challenge to the plural multi-dimensional democratic identity of India as well as other similarly placed countries in the region. Having seen the LTTE in operations, both in the political and military fields, I also felt that, despite the legitimacy of the Tamil aspirations articulated by it, the LTTE was essentially an authoritarian organisation that relied on violence to settle all differences of opinion.
An example of the mindset of LTTE leadership is provided by a report about a journalist asking Pirabaharan some time during 1986 as to who were his role models in politics and military operations. First came Subhas Chandra Bose in all the power and majesty of his position as the supreme commander of the Indian National Army.
The other name Pirabaharan mentioned was the American actor Clint Eastwood in his personification as the hero who avenged injustice with ruthless violence. I cannot vouch for the total authenticity of this story for the simple reason that this was not said to me. But I am inclined to believe in the veracity of such a response by Pirabaharan, given his intense commitment to the Tamil cause and his personality as a militant leader. My suggestions to Rajiv Gandhi were based on these assessments.”
When they found Pirabaharan will not accept the agreement, the Indian government immediately brought representatives of the other servile Tamil Groups who were in Tamil Nadu to Delhi. As to be expected, these groups without as much as batting an eye lid, readily gave their consent to the agreement. Then Rajiv Gandhi announced that everyone, barring the LTTE leader Pirabaharan, have accepted the agreement. Further he announced that he was flying to Colombo to sign the agreement on July 29, 1987.
Only after these developments Rajiv Gandhi met Pirabaharan. Pirabaharan pointed out to him the many short- comings in the agreement. Yet the Indian officials told the mass media that Pirabaharan has given his consent to the agreement. However, Pirabaharan issued a press statement denying government’s claim. In the mean time ‘black cats’ commandos were posted to guard the Asoka Hotel where Pirabaharan was lodged. It tantamount to a virtual house arrest and keeping the LTTE leader incommunicado.
Indo - Sri Lankan Pact
Indo - Sri Lanka agreement was signed in Colombo by Rajiv Gandhi and J.R. Jayawardene on July 29, 1987 without obtaining the consent of the LTTE leader and the Tamil people. Displaying sheer arrogance as Prime Minister of a regional superpower and stupidity as a politician, Rajiv Gandhi signed the agreement with President J.R. Jayawardene, mainly to safeguard the geo-political interests of India. This he did after locking up Pirabaharan, who was leading the liberation struggle of the Tamils with the sole aim of establishing an independent Tamil Eelam, in a Delhi hotel. Rajiv Gandhi who returned to India after signing the agreement met Pirabaharan and gave some assurances to him. After receiving those assurances Pirabaharan returned to Tamil Eelam.
LTTE leader Pirabaharan explained clearly the political stand taken up by the LTTE about the Indo-Sri Lankan Accord at a historically important mammoth gathering of several thousands of Tamils at Suthumalai. In the presence of Indian Army personnel, newspaper reporters and the people of Tamil Eelam he explained the LTTE position thus:
“Today we are handing over the arms we took for the liberation and emancipation of our people to the Indian Government. From this very moment of surrendering our arms we are also entrusting the safety of our people in the hands of the Indian government.When the Indian government takes over the arms served as a shield and the only protection of our people, it is also taking over the great responsibility to protect the people of Tamil Eelam. The handing over of our arms only signifies this exchange of responsibility. At this juncture if we do not surrender our arms, a very unfortunate situation will arise whereby we will be forced to clash with the Indian Army. We do not want this unfortunate situation to arise under any circumstances. I am fully convinced that an independent state of Tamil Eelam is the only permanent solution to the problems faced by the Tamil people of Tamil Eelam. I will continue the struggle politically for this goal of Tamil Eelam. In the interest of our Tamil people, circumstances might compel LTTE to take part in the interim council or contest elections. But I will not participate in any election at any time. I want to announce this categorically here and now.”
After this, on the orders of Pirabaharan, LTTE cadres began handing over their weapons to the Indian Army at Palaly Military Camp.
But Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi failed to keep his promises he gave to Pirabaharan. Instead he kept on procrastinating and skilfully inducted the other Tamil traitor groups based in India into Tamil Eelam and directed them to engage in anti -LTTE and anti-Tamil activities.
The Supreme Sacrifice of Thileepan
At this point of time, Martyr Thileepan, with the approval of Pirabaharan decided to undertake a fast unto death to expose the treacherous role India was playing as the supposed “Saviour” of the Tamil people. This was also meant to be the next phase of the liberation struggle.On September 15, 1987 Thileepan (Rasaiah Paarthipan) who was the LTTE's political wing leader for the Jaffna district commenced his fast over the following demands from the Indian government. (The Indian army was in de facto control of the peninsula during this time)
Theleepan with LTTE leader
1. All Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act should be released.
2. The colonisation of traditional Tamil areas by Sinhalese under the guise of rehabilitation should be stopped forthwith.
3. All such rehabilitation should be stopped until an interim government is formed.
4. The Sri Lankan government should stop opening new Police stations and camps in the Northeastern province.
5. The Sri Lankan army and Police should withdraw from schools in Tamil villages and the weapons given by the Sri Lankan government to 'homeguards' should be withdrawn under the supervision of the Indian army.
Citizen Committees, trade unions, students unions, teachers associations, religious leaders, all held meetings and discussed the issues relating to Thileepan's fast. They passed resolutions and submitted memorandums to the overall commander of the IPKF, Lt. General Depinder Singh requesting the Indian authorities to intervene and stop the fast and initiate immediate efforts to set up the interim administration in the Northeast.
But nothing moved fast enough to stop Thileepan’s martyrdom. The Indian government turned a blind eye. It did not realize the gravity of the situation or the dire consequences that are bound to flow following Thileepan's death. Thileepan attained martyrdom on the 26th of September 1987. There was widespread grief in the Northeast There can be little doubt that Thileepan's martyrdom had a profound effect on every Tamil soul in Sri Lanka. Thousands of people from the North and East poured into Yaazhpaanam as the news of his death spread like wild-fire.
Judged by past events, everyone expected a violent reaction in the Northeast following Thileepan's martydom, but to everybody's surprise the funeral turned into a peaceful day of mourning. LTTE members moved in decisively to curb any kind of violence. They moved all state owned buses into depots and guarded them. They also provided cover to government institutions after some attempts were made to set fire to them. The Tamil daily Eelamurasu as well as the TV Nitharsanam carried the LTTE leader, Piabakaran's appeal to the people not to destroy or damage public property, as this was the property of people of Tamil Eelam.
Black flags were seen everywhere - along roads, top of houses, churches, temples, trees and public buildings. Thousands of wailing and sobbing men, women and children followed Thileepan's last journey. His body was covered with the red flag of the Tigers. Thileepan's body was taken on a decorated car through villages for the people to pay their homage and last respects. It was finally taken to Suthumalai where it was kept for public viewing. Thileepan’s body partswere donated to the medical faculty of Jaffna University according to his last wish.
Thileepan's martyrdom brought sadness and sorrow and also fear among many people. Most of them had genuinely believed that India would intervene at the last minute on humanitarian grounds and stop the impending disaster. They began to have doubts about India's conduct. They began to say 'this could have been avoided' and 'India should have moved fast' and 'India should not have let this happen' and so on. In short the people felt it was a great betrayal by ‘mother’ India. Tamil dailies began to carry articles criticising the handling of the whole issue by the Indian authorities.
In a statement released by LTTE leader Pirabaharan on the occasion of Thileepan’s martyrdom, he said, inter alia,
“The entire Tamil speaking people in the North and East should rally round the LTTE in this non-violent struggle. We can achieve our goal of Tamil Eelam only by the united and concerted effort of the entire Tamil masses. This is the only way we can show our gratitude to Thileepan for his un-comparable sacrifice and martyrdom in pursuit of our cause.”
Heroic Death of 12 Liberation Fighters
After the death of Thileepan, Sri Lankan navy arrested 17 senior LTTE cadres, including 2 senior commanders Pulendran and Kumarappa off Point Pedro coast. They were brought to the Palaly Army Camp and detained. Pirabaharan registered a very strong protest against this unlawful and high-handed action of the Sri Lankan government when there was a cease-fire and a general amnesty in force. He urged Indian as well as the Sri Lankan governments to release the LTTE cadres immediately.
In the meantime, the hawkish Minister for National Security Lalith Athulathmudali was insisting that all the arrested LTTE cadres to be brought to Colombo to face charges. He threatned to resign his cabinet portfolio if his demand t was not complied with by President Jayawardena.
On account of India’s betrayal, 12 out of the 17 liberation fighters committed suicide by swallowing cyanide. Pirabaharan issued a soul -stirring and strongly worded statement to the people of Tamil Eelam. He asked:
“If the Indian government would have demanded the Sri Lankan President Jayawardene to release all those men who were arrested , then these unwarranted deaths would not have taken place. In this respect India has totally failed to honour its commitment, exercise its authority and fulfill its moral responsibility to protect the lives of the liberation fighters and the Tamil people. If India has forsaken this great moral responsibility, then there is no meaning in the Indian Peace Keeping force lingering in Tamil Eelam. Now we have to question their motive for remaining in our soil. Are they staying here to protect President Jayawardene, the Sinhalese Army and treacherous Tamil groups and help them to exterminate the liberation fighters of LTTE? It is an unpardonable crime indeed that instead of protecting our fighters and leaders, India was handing over them to the Sinhalese Army. By this treacherous act. the IPKF has committed an unpardonable crime against the people of Tamil Eelam. Under these circumstances we have decided not to abide by the cease-fire agreement!”
Chapter 4: Indo - Tamil Eelam War
The war between LTTE and IPKF broke out on October 10, 1987. On October 11, Pirabaharan wrote a letter to the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, M.G.Ramachandran explaining the circumstances that led to the break-out hostilities. He wrote,
“As a consequence of the unjust and tragic death of our commanders and fighters, violence erupted everywhere in Tamil Eelam. Racial riots broke here and there. India had leveled false accusations against us stating that we were responsible for the violence and we tried to break the agreement. As a result, a conspiracy was hatched in Colombo between Indian Defense Minister Pant, Indian High Commissioner Dixit, and Indian Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Sunderji n one side and President Jayawardene and National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali on the other side. J.R. Jayawardene had announced the banning of LTTE and the nullification of the general amnesty given to LTTE cadres. Indian Defence Minister Pant declared that India had decided to take strong military action against the LTTE.
Following such belligerent threats and unilateral action, the IPKF launched a vicious military attack on the LTTE fighters using tanks and artillery. On the morning of October 10, 1987, IPKF entered the offices of two Newspapers in Jaffna (Eelamurasu and Murasoli) and arrested all the workers. They then dynamited and blasted the machinery and equipment in those offices. At noon, the Indian forces tried to break out from Jaffna Fort into Jaffna town. When we tried to check their advance, the Indian army fired back. The LTTE in turn was compelled to return fire in self-defence.
The Indian army started shelling residential areas using heavy artillery and tanks for hours together. Their attacks increased in intensity and frequency. Because of these indiscriminate attacks, not only the Tiger fighters but also the civilians are dying in their hundreds. It was obvious the Indian Army had orders from Delhi to exterminate the Tigers even if that meant killing large number of civilians. Surrounded on all sides by the Indian Army, we are fighting in self- defence. We bear arms for a cause so that it is nobler to die fighting rather than be captured alive and die in disgrace. “
The war went on with great intensity. It took one long month for the Indian Army to capture Jaffna peninsula. Pirabaharan himself took command and led the fighting.
Pirabaharan finally decided that guerilla warfare is the best method to fight the Indian armed forces. So he withdrew with his fighters into the jungles of Vanni in Tamil Eelam.
From the Vanni jungles the guerilla war continued. There were heavy causalities on the Indian side. Unable to confront the Tigers in battle, they turned their anger against the people and killed innocent civilians. They killed several women after raping them.
While the war was in progress, Pirabaharan wrote to Rajiv Gandhi on 12/10/1987, 14/10/1987 and 13/01/1988. He informed him that if a cease-fire is declared and an interim council for Northeast is set up in accordance with the promise made to him, the LTTE was prepared to hand over arms. But Rajiv Gandhi wanted to kill Pirabaharan and then completely exterminate the entire LTTE fighters thus putting an end to the goal of an independent Tamil Eelam. So far from halting the war, he inducted more than 150,000 Indian soldiers into Tamil areas to execute his plan. As a result the war continued unabated.
All the Tamil groups which took up arms to fight for the liberation of Tamil Eelam turned traitors to the Tamils by forsaking the ideal of Tamil Eelam. They slavishly sold their souls to the governments of India and Sri Lanka and played the role of paid mercenaries and Quislings.
But Pirabaharan was the only leader who boldly stood up against Indian military aggression after rallying around the Tamil people of Eelam, cutting across caste, religion and regional barriers. While the whole world stood aghast in wonder, the tiny Tamil Eelam army fought the mighty Indian army like a ferocious Tiger. Even the Sinhalese people admired Pirabaharan as a first rate military commander who stood against foreign invasion. When the war was raging in full fury during the middle part of 1988, Pirabaharan came to be hailed as the’ National Leader of Tamil Eelam’ by the Tamil people in Tamil Eelam and other parts of the world.
Martyrdom of Mother Poopathy
When Tamil women unfolded the flag of revolt against the Indian invading army, Mother Poopathy of Maddakkalappu in South Tamil Eelam started a fast unto death putting forward two demands:
(1) Stop the war; and
(2) Start negotiations with the LTTE .
But Premier Rajiv Gandhi who lauds Gandhian non-violent principles pooh-poohed her fast. Mother Poopathy sacrificed her life and became a Martyr on April 19, 1988. Tamil Eelam National leader Pirabaharan issued a statement eulogizing her noble sacrifice. He said:
"Among the Martyrs who created history by sacrificing their precious lives in the cause of our sacred war of liberation of Tamil Eelam, Mother Poopathy secures an exalted place. She who renounced her life as an ordinary woman, a mother, head of a family and desires sacrificed her very life for the empowerment of her people and the liberation of her race. The war of non-violence she launched against the tyranny of the Indian army had made the land of Gandhiji bow down its head in shame! She did not die as an ordinary human being. Her supreme sacrifice raises her as the symbolic awakening of the motherhood of Tamil Eelam."
National Heroes Day (November 1987)
When Eelam war was raging with fury, every day liberation fighters were laying down their lives at the altar of Tamil Eelam liberation. On November 27, 1989 from his dense jungle hideout, Tamil Eelam National Leader Pirabaharan proclaimed that “November 27” on which day the first liberation fighter attained martyrdom in the cause of Tamil Eelam will be commemorated as “ National Heroes Day.” He said ,
"Today is a very important day in the history of our liberation struggle. We have proclaimed this day as the National Heroes Day to remember the 1307 martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the noble cause of liberating Tamil Eelam. For the first time we are commemorating National Heroes Day. It is customary for Remembrance Day to be commemorated in many countries in the world in memory of soldiers who fought and died for the liberation of their motherland and soldiers who died in battle defending their countries' freedom.
You know that all these days we have been commemorating days when individual fighters attained martyrdom. But from this year onwards we have proclaimed one particular day of the year to remember and commemorate the death of all the heroes who attained martyrdom. Hence we have declared November 27 as the National Heroes Day, the day our first LTTE fighter Shankar sacrificed his life on the battle field. So we have proclaimed this day as our National Heroes Day.
There is a tradition among our people. It is to give prominence to those who hold high positions and those who are wealthy. Likewise in our liberation struggle in order not to separate the leaders and praise their accomplishments only, we have taken a decision to celebrate National Heroes Day with the objective of treating every fighter on an equal footing.
So by commemorating all the fallen heroes on a sepcified day not only we treat the leaders as well as the ordinary fighters equally, we also commemorate jointly all the fighters who laid down their lives. Otherwise in course of time only the leaders will be remembered and honoured while the rest will fade into oblivion. So to avoid giving prominence to a selected few and to remember all on the same day we decided to celebrate this National Heroes Day.
As far as a Nation is concerned, if it does not honour its heroes, intellectuals and women it will become barbaric and destroy itself. We have in our country great intellectuals. When compared with other countries our Tamil women are highly venerated in our society. At the same time there was a paucity for brave warriors. But today on this National Heroes Day we have accomplished a sea change in our society. Yes we have started to honour our heroes as well."
Talks Between Sri Lankan Government and LTTE
Premadasa who assumed office as the new President in 1988, repeatedly invited the LTTE to come for talks. Since Pirabaharan too was keen on ending Indian aggression in Tamil homeland, he decided to accept the invitation of Premadasa. Due to the clever diplomatic move of our leader National Leader Pirabaharan, relationship between India and Sri Lanka turned sour and became hostile. President Premadasa publicly called the Indian army to quit Sri Lanka.
The situation became a thorough embarrassment for the Indian army which came on the invitation of the Sri Lankan government to enforce so called peace. The Indian army withdrew from Tamil Eelam in disgrace in March, 1990 after tasting defeat and humiliation at the hands of the LTTE.
The military challenge posed by the regional super power was defeated by the LTTE due to Pirabaharan’s superior military strategy and skillful political maneuvering. The areas vacated by the IPKF swiftly fell into the hands of the LTTE. The mercenary force created by the Indian army under the style ‘ Tamil National Army’ (TNA) disintegrated and fled unable to face lightning strikes launched by battle-hardened and committed LTTE fighters. A majority surrendered to the LTTE with their arms. Northeastern Provincial council, the illegitimate child of the equally illegitimate Indo- Ceylon Accord collapsed like nine pins.
Tamil Eelam National Leader Pirabaharan emerged from his hide-out in Vanni. Talks between Sri Lankan Government and LTTE continued. At the end due to the treachery and the deception resorted to by Sinhalese chauvinism, the peace talks broke off abruptly without finding a meaningful solution to the ethnic conflict.
Chapter 5: Tamil Eelam War II
LTTE negotiators on several occasions repeatedly brought to the notice of the Sri Lankan government the excesses committed by the Sinhalese police and the army. But the government remained cold to these excesses and this caused relationship between the LTTE and government to become contentious. On June 10,1990 an encounter took place between the Sinhalese police and the LTTE over an incident of violation of human rights committed against a Muslim resident by the Sinhalese police at Kalmunai. This encounter ended in a full-scale war between the police and the LTTE.
Although Tamil Eelam National Leader Pirabaharan took immediate steps to bring the war to an end, the LTTE committed to safeguard the Tamil people and their homeland was left with no alternative but to confront the war unleashed by chauvinistic Sri Lankan government and its Sinhala army. Both were hell-bent on a genocidal war against the Tamils to rob them of their traditional homeland.
On September 1, 1991, National Leader Pirabaharan met newspaper reporters of Tamil Eelam and explained to them about the prevailing political and military situation. He said,
“Many of the army camps which existed when Tamil Eelam war II started, have now ceased to exist. Because army camps at places like Kokkavil and Mankulam were destroyed by our LTTE forces, a greater part of Vanni region had come under our control. With the destruction of Jaffna Fort, Jaffna town too has been liberated.
Pirabaharan with his lieutenants
During the fight at Elephant Pass, for the first time we engaged the Sinhala army face to face in a conventional warfare. We fought with a numerically superior army and checked its advance for a very long period. If we get panicky over heavy casualties suffered at Elephant Pass, we can never hope to continue this war.
We should consider our losses as steps for future growth. During the 43 days battle ( 10/7/1991 to 23/8/199 ) we lost 564 fighters. But on the enemy side large number of Sinhalese soldiers died during the prolonged fighting. When compared with enemy losses, ours cannot be described as excessive. People who are undergoing untold sufferings will naturally feel alarmed as to what next. However, they must rally around in large numbers. Losses suffered in battle must be replenised then and there. People must fully identify themselves with us and understand our hardships and sufferings.
We are always ready to hold talks with the Sri Lankan government without any preconditions. But the government should create the necessary environment for holding such talks. In the island of Ceylon, the LTTE is only fighting against the Sri Lankan government forces. As such I feel there is no necessity for the Indian government to get worried about the LTTE. The hill country Tamils should realize that all their woes are caused by the continued betrayal by their leaders. The liberation struggle of Tamil Eelam cannot be destroyed by any kind of weapons or by any bombings.”
On September 4, 1991 BBC London correspondent Chris Morris had an interview with the Tamil National Leader Pirabaharan. During this interview Pirabaharan said,
“First and foremost the Sinhalese people must recognize the basic principles underlying the national problem of the people of Tamil Eelam. They are, recognition of the Tamil Homeland, recognition that Tamil people constitute a Nation and the Tamil people right to self-determination. Only on the basis of this recognition can peace and amity prevail between the two races. We never force our young men to join the fighting force. The truth is because of the oppression of the Tamil people through state terrorism and its impact on our society, our youths are voluntarily joining the LTTE. Many parents bring their children, both boys and girls, to join our fighting forces at our public meetings. We are providing such young children schooling facilities and give them training in various vocations. We never send young children to the battlefront.''
LTTE Women Organization
In the beginning of 1984 for the first time those girls who gave indirect support to the LTTE started to contribute their share in the liberation war spearheaded by the LTTE. With the approval of Tamil Eelam National Leader Pirabaharan they were given training in the use of fire-arms. When the Indo-Tamil Eelam war broke-out on October 10, 1987 they directly joined the war front. Upto now they are fighting bravely accomplishing many feats of valour.
In a message given by the National Leader Pirabaharan related to the Women Wing, he said,
'' Women constitute a majority among the Tamil population. If they continue to lead a servile life, it will be difficult to transform our freedom struggle into a national liberation movement. Realizing this fact our movement gave top priority for women’s liberation. Women were politicised and made to join our fighting forces. By this we ushered in a gigantic revolution among women in Tamil society. A revolution that never took place in the annals of Tamil history has taken place in Tamil Eelam. Women consigned to the kitchen from time immemorial now bear arms and don army uniform. Today the women folk which remained dormant for a long time. Now it has awakened fully and stands as an important arm of a mighty revolutionary force. Our women fighters by their brave accomplishments have proved to the world that they are in no way inferior to men fighters in bravery, sacrifice, and thirst for freedom.”
LTTE Students Organization
The future of a country always depends on its younger generation. Therefore, it is imperative that this generation must be brought up as intelligent, efficient and responsible citizens. To meet that goal, it is very important that we give them proper education. Towards this end LTTE Students Organization was formed on the orders of our leader.
When we trace the growth of the armed struggle, one can observe very clearly the indispensable part played by the surrounding sea of Tamil Eelam. Knowing this historical importance, our leader Pirabaharan formed the ‘Sea Tigers’ as a division of the LTTE in 1984. Today the Sea Tigers have grown in strength as to pose a challenge to the Sri Lankan navy. On March 01, 1992 Women Wing of the Sea Tigers was formed. Women Wing’s feats of chivalry are on par with that of their male counter-part.
Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO)
Tamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) was formed in 1985. Regarding its necessity Leader Pirabaharan said,
“People of Tamil Eelam are facing two battle fronts. One front is the liberation of our homeland from the invading Sinhalese armed forces. The other front is the production of food to counter the tyrannical economic blockade of the Sinhalese chauvinistic government. Just as the heart regulates the blood circulation and helps the body to conquer diseases, so also the TRO should increase food production which is the life-blood and foundation for the final victory of the liberation of Tamil people. ”
The growth of TRO in Tamil Eelam has helped many families to be self-employed with out depending on relief assistance.
Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organization (TEEDOR)
On May 6, 1994, our leader after honoring and giving awards to the best farmers of Tamil Eelam said,
“Tamil Eelam is a fertile land gifted with many natural resources. It possess water, land and human resource potential enough to achieve economic self-sufficiency and development. Nature’s gift of resources must be identified and put to maximum use. Production must be increased to meet the economic needs of the people by careful planning and research. Agriculture and industry are the pivotal bases for economic development and growth. As such we should concentrate our energies on developing agriculture and industry. To achieve this goal ‘Tamil Eelam Economic Development Organization (TEEDOR) has launched several productive projects. All these activities must be intensified further so that an independent Tamil Eelam will not have to depend on other countries, but stand on its own legs economically.''
Black Tigers – Men of Steel
Black Tigers are men of steel in their determination to achieve their goal of Tamil Eelam. In a statement National Leader Pirabaharan issued to mark the occasion of Black Tigers’ Day on July 5, 1993, he said,
“The era of Black Tigers began with Capt. Miller. A fighting force imbued with the spirit of supreme self-sacrifice unheard and unseen in the annals of history anywhere in the world before came into existence in Tamil Eelam.. These Black Tigers are of miracle birth and a class by themselves. They are of gentle heart but with iron will. Their love of humanity is so great they sacrifice their dear lives so that others may live. In the words ‘Black Tiger’ , black stands for iron will and unshakable resolve. Looked at another angle, it can also signify darkness which symbolizes secretiveness and mystery. Hence, the word Black Tiger can have many meanings and many interpretations. It is this secretiveness which is the prime factor for their decisive operational victories. This is an era of Black Tigers. During this era our liberation struggle will assume new dimensions. These warriors who have conquered death will create new history and light the torch for the dawn of freedom of our future generations.”
March 8 Womens’ Day
On Mach 8, 1992, on the occasion of the World Women’s Day in Pirabaharan issued a statement. In that statement he said,
“When we talk about the freedom of women we refer to their freedom from political oppression and economic exploitation. So our struggle for the liberation of women is advanced on multi-dimensional fronts viz. national liberation, societal liberation, and economic liberation. This is not a struggle against oppression of men over women, but an intellectual fight against ignorance about male chauvinism. As such this ideological struggle must have the aim of changing the hearts of men.''
Tamil Eelam Military Academy
In a message to commemorate the first anniversary of the Tamil Eelam Military Academy sent on September 19, 1991 Pirabaharan said
“ The Tamil Eelam Military Academy is one of my dreams. A new and younger generation of youths should blossom out as the future architects of my country. This new and revolutionary generation should consist of persons who are able, intelligent, patriotic, brave, sincere and modesty. Only this generation should emerge as the architects, administrators and rulers of our country.”
Chencholai Kids Club
On instructions from leader Pirabaharan, the Chencholai Kids club was inaugurated on October 23 1991 to take care of girls who had lost their parents and/or guardians. On this occasion, he sent a message which read,
“Under the environment of a historic war of liberation we are planting these young seeds at Chencholai campus. It is my desire that these young seeds must take deep roots and grow up one day as an intellectual reservoir of Tamil Eelam I convey my greetings for this revolutionary venture to thrive well and prosper.”
The Tamil Eelam Police Force(TEPF)
On November 1991, Pirabaharan officially inaugurated the Tamil Eelam Police Force committed to serve the security interests of the Tamil people. The TEPF came under the direct control and supervision of leader Pirabaharan. Outlining the activities of the TEPF Pirabaharan said,
Tamil Eelam Police
Inspecting Police Recruits Parade
“Members of the police force will always be men of exemplary conduct, honesty, fairness, and discipline. They will serve as people’s servants with a high sense of commitment to ensure social justice and social progress. They will move with people with a spirit of love and dignity in tune with our culture. They will be completely free of all anti-social crimes and serve the people with patriotic feeling, all the 24 hours of the day. The aim of our police force is not to catch the criminals and bring them to courts to be tried, but mainly to work with all their might to prevent crimes from being committed in the first place. Thereby they will work towards the goal of building up a crime-free social order in Tamil Eelam.''
Note - It is important here to remember that the Tamil Eelam Police force started their training on June 1, the day when the Sinhalese police set fire to Jaffna Public Library and burnt it down to ashes.
LTTE Art and Cultural Organization
Our language, art and culture have taken deep root in our soil of Tamil Eelam for a very long period in the history of the Tamils. Our arts and cultural heritage are the very soul of our motherland. Keeping this basic truth in mind the first “Muththamizh Celebration” was conducted by the LTTE art and cultural organization on July 15, 1992. In a statement sent to this celebration Tamil national leader Pirabaharan said this,
“Today it has become imperative to transform our liberation struggle into an people’s struggle in which the entire people of Tamil Eelam should take an active part and from this very broad base we have to build up our national resistance movement which has become an unavoidable and undispensable historic necessity. To fulfill this enormous objective, the creative activities of our art and literary men should play the most important part.”
Broadcasting Service –Voice of Tigers
On the first anniversary of the Voice Tigers Radio, Tamil National Leader Pirabaharan sent his felicitations in which he stated,
“ A vicious and malicious propaganda campaign has been unleashed against us by our enemy, the Sinhalese government, and its mercenary Tamil treacherous groups. Hence, the Voice of Tigers should stand up and act as the voice of truth in countering enemy’s false ideological war. The Voice of Tigers should resound as the war drum of “Sathiya Yuththam” (“War of Truth”).
Education Development Board of Tamil Eelam
On February 13, 1993, Tamil Eelam National Leader Pirabaharan issued a statement congratualating the students who came out successful in the Tamil Eelam General Certificate of Education Examination conducted by the Educational Development Board of Tamil Eelam. In this statement he said,
“Education is very essential for the growth of humanity and social development. In fact it is the root of human development. We never showed any discrimination between those who opted to dedicate themselves for the social emancipation of our community and the right of students to carry on their education. Both are indispensable for the progress and smooth functioning of our society. Today the combination of education and war have become a historic necessity. As much as war is an armour for education, so is education a shield for war. Today in Tamil Eelam, education remains in a state of neglect.
The Sri Lankan government is willfully neglecting the education of the children of Tamil Eelam. Our students have to study against heavy odds, hardships and insurmountable difficulties. In spite of all the hardships and obstruction when our students prepare for their examinations their examination are not conducted as scheduled. When examinations are held, the Sri Lankan armed forces disturb and disrupt the peace. Only after surmounting such difficulties that our students sit for their examinations. Under these circumstances our Tamil Eelam educational development board has successfully conducted the Tamil Eelam General Certificate of Education Examination which is equivalent to the G.C.E O/L examination successfully. I commend this effort with all my heart and also at the same time congratulate all those students who passed this examination.''
The Law College of Tamil Eelam
In his address at the Law College of Tamil Eelam on January 25, 1993 Tamil Eelam National Leader Pirabaharan said,
“We are now moving forward to our goal of an independent state of Tamil Eelam. We must lay the foundation for such a state from now itself. Because judiciary is the most important arm of the state administrative machinery we are giving the best training to you, our liberation fighters. In the administration of justice, the role of judiciary is important. Only those who possess integrity, morality, compassion and self-discipline should man the judiciary. In the beginning we created “Reconciliation Boards”, but you are aware that it committed many mistakes. The judgments given by this body came for criticism and adverse comments by the people. Judgments were not rendered in an un-selfish, impartial and fair manner. A justice system consisting of members drawn from the LTTE, which has a reputation for discipline and order, will be the foundation for a strong government and a highly disciplined society. Only when social justice is nurtured properly can society rise to new heights.''
Swearing in ceremony of Judges and Lawyers of Tamil Eelam
The following is the address by Tamil Eelam National Leader Pirabaharan at the swearing in ceremony of the judges and lawyers of Tamil Eelam Justice Department on August 19, 1993. He said,
“Our people believe fully that if liberation fighters took responsibility for the administration of justice system, they will ispense justice with fairness. People think so because they know fully well that their precious lives for their noble cause of the liberation of their motherland. Therefore, the people are really happy. At this memorable occasion when you, the liberation fighters are taking oaths to shoulder this sacred responsibility, I am confident that you will discharge your duties with integrity and impartiality to fulfill the great expectation of the people. It is said that what you learn is like a handful of sand and what is not learnt is as large as the universe. As such try to learn much from worldly experience. You will receive sound knowledge of men and matters only through personal experience. Try to understand the aspirations of our people, remove all contradictions and mete out justice to them with partially from a completely neutral stand. Of course you will meet with difficulties when you discharge your duties justly and honestly. But never severve from the path of truth and justice for which have iron determination and strong willpower together with extreme boldness.”
Taking of Oath by Judges and Lawyers of the Justice Department of Tamil Eelam
Tamil Eelam National Leader Pirabaharan spoke at the swearing –in- ceremony of the Judges and lawyers of Tamil Eelam Justice Department which took place on August 19, 1993. He said,
“Our people fully expect that when our liberation fighters assume the responsibilities of judges and lawyers, they will weigh the issues and mete out justice dispassionately and fairly. People know fully well that our fighters are those who are prepared to lay down their lives for a noble cause. Therefore, people feel happy when you assume responsibility for the justice system.
I am therefore confident that you will discharge your duties with integrity and responsibility in fulfilling the great expectation of our people. It is said that what we learn is just a handful of sand and what is not learnt is as large as the universe. On this basis you should strive to learn from your worldly experience. Only through personal experience you can acquire full knowledge. You should consider it your duty to understand the feelings of our people, resolve their contradictions and dispense justice to them. There will be always difficulties when you discharge your duties justly and honestly. But never waver from the path of truth and justice when you perform your duties. For that you should possess an iron will and courage.''
On November 13, 1993, National Leader Pirabaharan inaugurated Kantharuban Arivucholai. In his inaugural address he said, “Mother Tamil, who is the common mother for all of us, has embraced all these children. All our fighters are the brothers of these children. They have become an inseparable part of the LTTE family. Going beyond individual family, beyond its circle of relations these children will grow up as members of a much wider family. They will in future become the architects of our country. The environment in which they are growing up love of their land and affection for the people will take deep root in their minds. Endowed with such noble qualities they will receive good education and become the builders of our nation ready to be of service to our people. On one hand we are fighting to redeem our land of Tamil Eelam and on the other hand we are engaged in social programmes and projects to uplift children. But for all these schemes to succeed, the society must wholeheartedly co-operate with us.”
Note - Kaantharuban was a youngster who voluntarily joined the movement after he lost his parents and had no one to support him. Later he sought permission from the LTTE leader and became a Black Tiger. He attained martyrdom. Kantharuban had one last wish which he confided to our leader thus “I was an orphan, but you took me into the fold of the LTTE family and made me somebody. Same way please take all the orphans of Tamil Eelam and redeem them from their wretched state of being orphans.” It is to fulfill his wishes that the institution was named Kantharuban Arivucholai.
Permanent and Lasting Peace in the Island
On September 13, 1994, Mrs. Ananthi, reporter from B.B.C. Tamil Service interviewed Tamil National Leader Pirabaharan. Responding to a question put to him, he answered thus,
“We like the talks to take place in an environment of peace and friendly atmosphere. It is the responsibility of the Sri Lankan government to create such a conducive situation. Ordinary Sinhalese masses are not in favour of this war. We know very well that they are yearning for peace. The results of the recent elections clearly prove this reality. We too want peace. We want permanent peace to prevail so that all people could live a normal life.
Today, war is the greatest stumbling block The war must be brought to an end. It is those people who started the war against the Tamils who should come forward to stop the war. The Sinhala Nation should realize that the Tamil problem can never be solved through military means. Only by fulfilling the political aspirations of the Tamil people can a solution be found to end the racial conflict. This can be achieved through peaceful means. This should be made known to the Sinhalese chauvinistic politicians and militarists by the Sinhalese people themselves. We love the Sinhalese people and we are not their enemies. The racial chauvinistic elements are responsible for the contradictions that arose between the Tamils and the Sinhalese people. The Sinhalese people themselves must identify the chauvinist elements among themselves and ostracize them. Only then will permanent peace prevail in the island of Ceylon.''