‘If Jeyawardane was a true buddhist,I would not be currying a gun’
The interview with National leader Hon. Veluppillai Prabhakaran from 1984 was republished on Hot springs magazine London 1998 January Issue. The interview was first published in Sunday magazine in 1984 March from India.
Velupillai Prabhakaran was born in the northern coastal town of Valvettithurai on 26 November 1954, as the youngest of four children to Thiruvenkadam Velupillai and his wife Vallipuram Parvathy. Thiruvenkadam Velupillai was the District land Officer in the Ceylon Government His family was an influential and wealthy family who owned and managed the major Hindu temples in Valvettithurai.
Angered by what he saw as discrimination against Tamil people by successive Sri Lankan governments, he joined the student group Tamil Youth Front (TYF) during the standardisation debates. In 1972 Prabhakaran founded the Tamil New Tigers (TNT) which was a successor to many earlier organizations that protested against the post-colonial political direction of the country, in which the minority Sri Lankan Tamils were pitted against the majority Sinhalese people.
In 1975, after becoming heavily involved in the Tamil movement, he carried out the first major political assassination by a Tamil group, killing the mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duraiappah, by shooting him at point-blank range when he was about to enter the Hindu temple at Ponnaalai. The assassination was in response to the 1974 Tamil conference incident, for which the Tamil radicals had blamed Duraiappah,because he backed the then ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
In the early 1970s, United Front government of Sirimavo Bandaranaike introduced the Policy of standardisation which made the criteria for university admission lower for the Sinhalese than for the Tamils.Several organizations to counter this act was formed by Tamil students. Prabhakaran aged 15, dropped out of school and got associated with the Kuttimani-Thangathurai group (which evolved later into TELO) formed by Selvarajah Yogachandran (known as Kuttimani) and Nadarajah Thangathurai who both also hailed from Valvettithurai.
Prabhakaran along with Kuttimani, Ponnuthurai Sivakumaran and other prominent rebels joined the Tamil Manavar Peravai formed by a student named Satiyaseelan in 1970. This group comprised Tamil youth who advocated the rights of students to have fair enrollment.
In 1973, Prabhakaran teamed up with Chetti Thanabalasingam and with a fraction of the Tamil Manavar Peravai to form the Tamil New Tigers (TNT). Their first notable attack was held at the Duraiappa stadium in Jaffna placing a bomb in an attempt to murder the Jaffna Mayor Alfred Duraiappah. A member of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party who was loyal to Sirimavo Bandaranaike, Duraiappah was seen as a traitor by the Tamil masses. Failing the attempt, Prabhakaran managed to shoot and kill Duraiappah who was on a visit at a Hindu temple at Ponnalai on 27 July 1975.
On 5 May 1976, the TNT was renamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. The LTTE by the 1980s operated in more attacks against police and military forces. On 23 July 1983, the LTTE ambushed an army patrol and killed 13 Sri Lankan soldiers in Thirunelveli, Sri Lanka.As a response to this were one of the worst government sponsored anti-Tamil riots held (the event known as Black July) resulting in the destruction of Tamil houses and shops and death of hundreds of Tamils and making over 150 000 Tamils homeless.As a result of the riots were several Tamils joining the LTTE and the LTTE marked the beginning of the Eelam War I. Prabhakaran held his first speech on 4 August 1987 at the Suthumalai Amman temple in front of over 100 000 people explaining the position of the LTTE. This speech is seen as a historic turning point in the Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism.
The LTTE were allegedly involved in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, the ex-prime minister of India in 1991, which they denied involvement and alleged the event as an international conspiracy against them The Madras High Court in India issued an arrest warrant for plotting of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and Prabhakaran was made wanted by Interpol for terrorism, murder, organized crime and terrorism conspiracy. Prabhakaran’s first and only major press conference was held in Killinochchi on 10 April 2002. It was reported that more than 200 journalists from the local and foreign media attended this event and they had to go through a 10-hour security screening before the event in which Anton Balasingham introduced the LTTE leader as the “President and Prime minister of Tamil Eelam.”
A number of questions were asked about LTTE’s commitment towards the erstwhile peace process and Prabhakaran and Dr. Anton Balasingham jointly answered the questions.
Repeated questions of his involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination were only answered in a sober note by both Balasingham and Prabhakaran. They called it a “tragic incident” (“Thunbiyal Chambavam”, as quoted in Tamil) they requested the press “not to dig into an incident that happened 10 years ago.”
During the interview he stated that the right condition has not risen to give up the demand of Tamil Eelam. He further mentioned that “There are three fundamentals. That is Tamil homeland, Tamil nationality and Tamil right to self-determination. These are the fundamental demands of the Tamil people. Once these demands are accepted or a political solution is put forward by recognising these three fundamentals and our people are satisfied with the solutions we will consider giving up the demand for Eelam.” He further added that Tamil Eelam was not only the demand of the LTTE but also the demand of the Tamil people.
Prabhakaran also answered a number of questions in which he reaffirmed their commitment towards peace process, quoted “We are sincerely committed to the peace process. It is because we are sincerely committed to peace that we continued a four month cessation of hostilities” was also firm in de-proscription of the LTTE by Sri Lanka and India, “We want the government of India to lift the ban on the LTTE. We will raise the issue at the appropriate time.”
Prabhakaran also insisted firmly that only de-proscription would bring forth an amenable solution to the ongoing peace process mediated by Norway: “We have informed the government, we have told the Norwegians that de-proscription is a necessary condition for the commencements of talks.”
Prabhakaran’s source of inspiration and direction was Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism. His stated and ultimate ideal was to get Tamil Eelam recognised as a nation as per the U.N. Charter that guarantees the right of a people to political independence. The LTTE also proposed the formation of an Interim Self Governing Authority during Peace Negotiations in 2003. Former Tamil guerrilla and politician Dharmalingam Sithadthan has remarked that Prabhakaran’s “dedication to the cause of the Tamil Eelam was unquestionable, he was the only man in Sri Lanka who could decide if there should be war or peace.” Prabhakaran was also called “Karikalan” for his bravery and his administration (in reference to Karikala Chola, a famous Chola king who ruled in Sangam Age.)
Prabhakaran explicitly stated that an armed struggle is the only way to resist asymmetric warfare, in which one side, that of the Sri Lankan government, is armed and the other comparatively unarmed. He argued that he chose military means only after observing that non–violent means have been ineffectual and obsolete, especially after the Thileepan incident. Thileepan, a colonel rank officer adopted Gandhian means to protest against the IPKF killings by staging a fast unto death from 15 September 1987, and by abstaining from food or water until 26 September, when he died in front of thousands of Tamils who had come there to fast along with him.
Prabhakaran was married to Mathivathani Erambu on 1 October 1984.The military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara stated in May 2009, that there was no information about the whereabouts of the remaining members of the Prabhakaran’s family. “We have not found their bodies and have no information about them,” he said. However, it is thought that the entire Prabhakaran family has been wiped out; the bodies of Mathivathani, Duvaraga and Balachandran reportedly were found in a bushy patch about 600 meters away from where Prabhakaran’s body was found. It is now alleged that his 12-year-old son was executed.
Velupillai Prabhakaran’s parents, Thiruvenkadam Velupillai and Parvathi, both in their 70s, were found in the Menik Farm camp for displaced people near the town of Vavuniya. The Sri Lankan military and the government gave public assurances that they would not be interrogated, harmed or ill-treated. Prabhakaran’s parents were then taken into Sri Lankan military custody until the death of Mr Vellupillai in January 2010. Prabhakaran has a sister named Vinodini Rajendaran.
His journey will be continued…..!