The Killing of the ‘Always-Smiling Face’ LTTE Political Head and the Anuradhapura Airbase Attack Bring an Already-Futile Peace Process to the Edge of Chaos

By Satheesan Kumaaran

The LTTE’s two-pronged attack on the Sri Lankan airbase, located at Saliyapura, in Anuradhapura, which is a north-central province of Sri Lanka, on Monday, October 22, 2007, and the air raid of the Sri Lankan air force on November 02, 2007, which killed six LTTEers, including the their political wing chief, have created panic among the Sri Lankans and anxiety among the global community. This mounting panic could push Sri Lanka intent on crushing the LTTE prowess and the LTTE in turn to to launch military operations aim at dividing the country into two nations within one island. The profile of the LTTE has risen, both militarily and politically, following the aerial and land attacks on the Sri Lankan airbase. The LTTE victory has put the Sri Lankan government into a grave political predicament for the Sri Lankan government, since Mahinda Rajapaksa coming to power, has not faced such a massive military defeat. But, in swift retaliation, the Sri Lankan air force bombers targetted the “always smiling face” LTTE political wing leader S. P.Thamilselvan. Thamilselvan was regarded as a moderate political activist of the LTTE, and he is seen as a skilled diplomat by international leaders who met with him during interludes of peace talks.

The international community has sensed that the struggle in Sri Lanka cannot end unless both parties in the conflict enter into genuine peace talks. The LTTE, for its part, declared that, although it is ready to engage in peace talks, the Sri Lankan government should first advance a political solution for the LTTE to consider and immediately address the grievances of the Tamils; it is only under these conditions that the LTTE feel they can enter into peace talks as an equal partner and reach mutual understanding with members of the Sri Lankan government. The Sri Lankan government, for its part, blames the LTTE for insisting that there be conditions before it enters any peace talks.

In the aftermath of the Anuradhapura airbase bombings, peace-loving people around the world do not want to see the island subjected to war again. War will further devastate the country economically. The burdens of war will disastrously impact on the ordinary citizens of the country, citizens who are already sick and tired of intermittent war. The Sinhala people, however, have not yet been alerted to the consequences of another war on the island for they do not seem to take the issue seriously; instead, they are being hoodwinked by politicians who are out for gain. In addition, extremists on both sides want to preserve their legacies, whether the myths they have created are true or not. Many innocents accept the myths propagated by the extremists, even though the latter provide no clear evidence of the validity of those myths.

The story of Anuradhapura is important to be discussed in this paper because Anuradhapura was one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka and is a sacred Buddhist place for the majority of the Sinhala population. Sinhala anthropologists and historians claim that this city is a centre of one of the oldest civilizations in Asia if not the world. It is located about 200 kilometres north of Sri Lanka’s present capital, Colombo, and it is recognized, by UNESCO, as a world heritage site. According to the Mahavamsa, the Great Chronicle of Sri Lanka, a Pali work of the sixth century A. D(translated by Wilhelm Geiger), the city was controlled by the Tamil king Ellalan, with the support of the Chola Empire of southern India. The Tamil monarch Ellalan, also known as Elara, reigned for 44 years, nearly 2000 years ago, but was defeated by the Sinhala Prince Gamini Abhaya, known as Dutugemunu, from Ruhunu in the deep south of Sri Lanka. The importance of Anuradhapura and Ellalan is further highlighted by the fact that LTTE supremo Velupillai Pirapaharan gave the military code name “Operation Ellalan” to the attack on the Anuradhapura airbase, in order to show the world that Tamil heritage remains active on the island and that the direct threat to Anuradhapura will extend to other areas unless the Sinhala government in Colombo grants autonomy to the two Tamil provinces, which lie in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.

The LTTE leader directed his most trusted man to arrange for the provision of military training to selected members of the Black Tigers. Besides regiments, the Tamil Tigers have three armed forces – Land, Sea and Air; their members are known as the Black Tigers. The latter wear vests filled with explosives, drive vehicles filled with explosives, and navigate boats filled with explosives. The Black Tigers embrace death on or before the completion of their missions, as a way of protecting the secrecy of the LTTE. Proper training was essential for the success of the attack on the airbase because the base is in the heart of Sinhala area. The special training required a map and good topographical knowledge of Sri Lanka, especially Anuradhapura and its surroundings, because the airbase alone is about 3 kilometers in length and 2 kilometres in width. The well-trained Black Tigers knew exactly when to strike; they reached the airbase on October 22 , well before 3:20 a.m., when the Sri Lankan armed personnel were deep in sleep, following a day of eventful activities, which saw the participation of over 100,000 spectators.

The LTTE leader marked the date and the object of the mission. Just before 11:59 p.m., on Sunday, he called together all the commanders of the LTTE. During this meeting, he told them he was going to show the ancient Tamil monarch Ellalan a successful military operation conducted by 21 Black Tigers, with the support of the LTTE’s Tamil Eelam Air Force. The LTTE leader had not disclosed the attack details; even the families and relatives of the 21 Black Tigers were uninformed until the mission was completed, at about 11 a.m., on Monday. The overall military operation commander was Illango, who headed a 7-member team, while the second-in-command was Veeman, who led a 14-member team. Both teams broke into smaller groups for the purpose of executing specific duties. Commander Ilango asked for permission, from the LTTE leadership in Vanni, to begin the operation at 3:20 a.m. The LTTE leader gave the order to begin the operation. Utmost importance was given to mopping up the four sentry points and two guard posts. This was done quickly. Soon thereafter, the radar surveillance unit was seized and neutralized. The communications room was also knocked out. The other objective of the LTTE was to seize control of the air defence system and artillery units. Two 40 mm and two 23mm artillery guns were seized. The 12.7 m anti-aircraft guns were also taken. Within 20 minutes, the artillery and anti-aircraft guns, the radar, the communications and guard posts, and the sentry points had all been taken over by the Black Tigers.

Two LTTE factions began to move into the hangars and destroy the helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and UAV drones. More than eight aircraft were left in ashes. Another nine were damaged, some irreparably. Ten other aircraft were partially damaged, but are still in working condition. The LTTE in Vanni closely monitored developments during the attack because it had communication until 9.a.m. The LTTE sent more than two aircraft to support the Black Tigers on the ground. The main aim of the LTTE aircraft was to ward off any incoming Sri Lankan armed forces, whose aim was to save the aircraft. LTTE aircraft dropped two bombs each and flew back to home base safely. Interestingly, the Sri Lankan Vavuniya commander, Maj. Gen. Upali Edirisinghe, sent two Bell 212 helicopters to intercept the LTTE aircraft, but one of the helicopters crashed at Doramadalawa, about 10 kilometres from the Anuradhapura airbase. LTTE aircraft intercepted the Sri Lankan helicopters, shot one down, and caused the other helicopter to turn back.

Until Monday evening, the Sri Lankan military spokesman played down the attack, stating that the LTTE was exaggerating its success. After fierce opposition from the opposing political parties, however, the Sri Lankan prime minister admitted that eight of their aircraft were damaged and fourteen of their airmen had died. He added that the defence ministry had to play down the damage in order to keep up the morale of the armed forces. The London Telegraph reported $40 million U.S. were lost through the destruction of the eight aircraft alone. The opposing political parties, including the UNP, however, admitted the damage inflicted on the aircraft was much greater and that the LTTE destroyed eighteen aircraft, valued at $439 million U.S.

Twenty-one Black Tigers, of which three were females, died on the ground, but the last Black Tiger was still alive at well past 11 a.m. on Monday. In effect, the Black Tigers were on the enemy’s base for about eight hours, fighting the enemy and causing great damage to the base. The Sri Lankan armed forces collected the remains of twenty Black Tigers; the other one could not be collected. These were put in tractors– naked, and showcased for public viewing. The locals took pictures of the naked, dead bodies. The bodies were finally taken to the Anuradhapura hospital mortuary before they were buried in Anuradhapura, the next night, which was Tuesday.

The Tamil Tigers have blamed the Sri Lankan government for violating the U.N. Geneva convention by removing the clothes of the dead and exhibiting the bodies to the public. The Anuradhapura Bishop came forward in support of the LTTE because the issue was of great humanitarian concern in the sacred Buddhist city. The Sri Lankan government faced diplomatic pressure for this wrong-doing because it handed over the bodies, through the ICRC, to the LTTE, as is the practice between conflicting parties during war.

In any event, Sri Lanka faced great defeat military, politically, and diplomatically. The retired Indian cabinet secretary, B. Raman, who, when hitherto writing about the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis, had always supported the Sri Lankan government and opposed the LTTE, now was in praise of the LTTE attack: “It was an act of unbelievable determination, bravery, and precision, successfully carried out by a 21-member suicide commando group of the Black Tigers—significantly led by a Tamil from the Eastern Province— with the back-up support of two planes of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force.”

Since the attack on the airbase, the Sri Lankan government has received enormous support from other countries, including Russia, the Czech Republic, Israel, Pakistan, and China. These countries have promised to send more sophisticated weapons and modern combat planes. However, the Sri Lankan cabinet ministers, prime minister, the president, and defence attachments speak in favour of war against the LTTE, in order to regain the support lost after the attack on Anuradhapura airbase.

Before the attack on Anuradhapura airbase, the LTTE had used various tactics to avoid engaging in conventional warfare with the Sri Lankan armed forces, when the latter took control of some areas controlled by the LTTE in eastern Sri Lanka and south of Mannar. But, people who knew the mind of the LTTE leader knew the Tigers were simply crouching, in order to leap forward later.

The LTTE supremo became numb when he heard of the death of his senior political man and chief peace negotiator with the Sri Lankan government. Thamilselvan was one of six siblings. His elder brother is a member of the LTTE. One brother lives in Norway. Two brothers, one sister, and his mother now live in Canada. He was married to an LTTE female cadre, and they have two children, who live in Vanni. He joined the LTTE in 1984 at the age of seventeen, and acquired his military training in a camp operated by the LTTE in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Thereafter, whenever he stayed in India, he worked closely with leader V. Pirapaharan. Thamilselvan was one of a number of LTTE cadres who had gone to Eelam to research background realities. Then, Thamilselvan and other senior LTTEers accompanied LTTE supremo Pirapaharan to Tamil Eelam to fight the enemy on the ground. Since then, he served in a military cadre of the LTTE, until he got injured. Thereafter, in 1993, he was groomed by the LTTE leader to be the political wing head, since the LTTE did not have a high-profile person to take the position after Col. Thileepan died in 1987 after twelve days of ‘fasting-to-death’ while demanding the Indian government fulfill the demands of the Tamils. Thamilselvan played an important role, under Chandrika Kumaratunga, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and Mahinda Rajapaksa, during peace talks with the Sri Lankan governments.

It is unfortunate that the Sri Lankan government targeted a champion of peace a man who believed that peace was a real possibility and a man of hope. While the weeping relatives and supporters of Thamilselvan cried loudly, Pirapaharan, who was present to pay tribute to the dead, did not speak a word, but, rather, put his face down and personally embraced his dead colleague. The LTTE leader is seen as a frustrated and angry man. Mourners speculated that the LTTE supremo is grief-stricken. It is not clear why the Sri Lankan government targeted a man who was in his residence, located just four hundred metres away from the Kilinochchi hospital. It is a known fact that the Sri Lankan government is in possession of the latest bombs used to kill enemies through the pressure of bombardment. Five others were killed in the bombardment; Lt. Col. Anpumani (Alex), Major Mikuthan, Major Kalaiyarasan, Lt. Aadchievael, and Lt. Maavaikkumaran were also killed in the attack. The LTTE leader, some hours after Thamilselvan was killed, conferred the organization’s highest rank, Brigadier, to Thamilselvan and announced the appointment of P. Nadesan, the current police chief of Tamil Eelam Police Department. Nadesan once served in Sri Lanka’s police department, is married to a Sinhala woman, and is fluent in both Tamil and Sinhala. Pirapaharan also has called on the commanders to discuss further actions in the Tamil homeland and beyond. The details, however, have not been revealed. If the Sri Lankan government thinks it can wipe out the LTTE by killing people like Thamilselvan, it is grievously mistaken.

In an instant reaction to the Sri Lankan government’s raid, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan Defence Secretary and one of the important policymakers of the government, hailed the air raid and said his government would also kill other LTTE leaders ‘one by one’. He expressed his joy at a celebratory meeting at Temple Trees, the official residence of his brother President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Reuters quoted Gotabaya as saying: “This is just a message that we know where their leaders are, and I know the locations of all the leaders, that if we want, we can take them one by one, so they must change their hideouts”. In addition, security has been beefed up in the Sinhala areas, especially the capital city of Sri Lanka; the government fears that the LTTE suicide cadres will take retaliatory action by killing Sri Lankan leaders in Colombo.

As never before in the history of the Tamil Eelam struggle and not since the 1991 killing of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi have Indian Tamil leaders so wholeheartedly come forth to condemn the Sri Lankan government and support the LTTE. They have expressed their deepest grief on the death of Tamilchelvan and the five others. The chief minister of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, Muthuvel Karunandhi, in a strongly-worded, passionate, and poetical sentiment, wrote a poem, narrated by Karunanidhi and released by the state government. In it, Karunandhi described Thamilchelvan as ‘a general’ who had a ‘heart that would render the opposition to ashes’. Written as if Karunanidhi was addressing Thamilchelvan directly, Karunanidhi stated that by dying ‘(you) turned yourself into fertiliser, for the sake of the struggle for (Tamil) rights’. He further added: “The ‘Utham Purush’ that you are, Your life is not extinguishable nor would you let your brethren die; Selva, you have carved a place for yourself in every Tamil habitat and heart; Where have you gone?”

The rising supportive sentiments expressed by the Indian Tamil leaders are considered a great boost for the Tamil struggle at this time because Sri Lankan government representatives pay frequent visits to India in order to garner the military support of India for the purpose of wiping out the Tamil struggle. Now, circumstances have changed, since the central government in New Delhi is led by the Indian Congress Party and its senior leader, Dr. Manmohan Singh, who needs the support of regional political parties, including a coalition in which Karunanidhi’s DMK is a major partner. If Karunanidhi withdraws support from Singh’s government, the government in New Delhi will collapse. As a result, the central government will listen to what Karunanidhi has to say regarding the conflict between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government. Karunanidhi and members of other southern Indian political parties, who are supportive and now have come forth with the sentiment that no-one should think the Tamils in Eelam can be wiped out militarily because there are over 70 million Tamils in India, will not see their brethren in Eelam defeated. In effect, the killing of Thamilselvan has not pushed the LTTE or their struggle for freedom downslide; rather, it has led to an uprising and an awakening in the world arena, especially in the minds of the Tamils around the world.

Others around the world have expressed their support for the Tamils. A Canadian parliamentarian elected in Scarborough-Agincourt, Jim Karygiannis, issued a statement immediately after Thamilselvan and the five others were killed. He said: “I would like to express my distress at the news of the death of Mr. S.P. Thamilselvan, the political leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), on November 2, 2007. I wish to extend my sympathies to the family of Mr. Thamilselvan and to the Canadian Tamil community. My thoughts and prayers are with you. In January 2005, following the Tsunami, I visited Sri Lanka and had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Thamilselvan. He expressed thanks to Canadians for their magnanimous generosity in a time of great need. He said there ‘is a thread of hope’ for building mutual trust in the nation, as Singhalese and Tamils work together in rescue and relief efforts. Mr. Thamilselvan devoted more than a decade for the pursuit of peace, with justice, to bring an end to the protracted civil war in Sri Lanka. During this time, he was a member of the Tamil Tiger’s negotiating team that held direct peace talks with the Sri Lankan Government, sat at the negotiation table during Norwegian-brokered peace talks, and, as recently as last year, represented the LTTE at talks in Geneva. During my meeting with Mr. Thamilselvan, he told me that, since Canada had provided asylum to Sri Lankan immigrants, he believed Canada should play a more significant and permanent role in the peace process in Sri Lanka.”

Many other foreign dignitaries, who had had face-to-face meetings with Thamilselvan, also expressed their sorrow. One said that, at the age of 40, an ‘always-smiling face’ has left everyone, including his friends and loved ones.

Now, things have totally changed. The expectations of the international community for genuine peace talks might have come to an end. It is obvious that the LTTE wanted to have equilibrium, politically and militarily, with the Sri Lankan government. That is why the LTTE had to be successful in its raid on Anuradhapura airbase. But, the action of the Sri Lankan government, by targeting moderates, has put the peace process into chaos and pushed both parties towards a military solution. If Sri Lanka enters into genuine peace talks with the LTTE, hope will return. If Sri Lanka descends into war, there will definitely be enormous numbers of casualties among innocent civilians. The Sri Lankan government must also remember, before launching more attacks in the guise of fighting terrorism, that such attacks will divide the country permanently, because the LTTE has once again proven it does not have less power than its counterpart and it does have people to take over the posts vacated by LTTE members who have been killed. LTTE cadres are not joining for a wage; they are motivated by their desire for Tamil liberation. Sri Lankan leaders should not continue to commit the same blunders as previous leaders because the country is declining economically. Future wars will benefit only arms dealers and extremists and will not bring prosperity to the Sinhalese or Tamil-speaking Hindus, Muslims, or Christians.

Time is ticking for Sri Lanka. It is time for the Sri Lankan government to act quickly to send its condolences for the killing of the LTTE cadres and to embark on acts of goodwill. It is important to do this before November 27, 2007, Heroes Day, when the LTTE leader goes before the public and relays his verdict on the matter.

(The author can be reached at e-mail: [email protected])

  • Sham

    This write is obviously biased toward the LTTE. Mr. Lakshman Kadiragamar has being avenged at last. timeis againt LTTE as they will loose the most as time goes by. SL government has only few key targets to take out PRABA

  • http://childoftwentyfive.blogsome.com N

    “a champion of peace” – now thats the funniest description of Tamilchelvam I have heard to date. TC was the most dangerous of the LTTE, he helped put a sheen of respectability to them with his ‘always smiling’ suaveness.

  • kbob

    I think the author and I share the same vision for Sri Lanka, but I disagree with his approach to the current situation. It is incorrect to call Tamilselvan a ‘moderate’, as most people label him. When the UNP was in power, they bent over backwards to accommodate the LTTE in the peace negotiations. They trusted the tigers to reciprocate the favour and end the fighting. However, the tigers betrayed this trust, made a mockery of the UNP in the eyes of the public, kicked them out of office, and deliberately chose war instead. In fact they engineered the defeat of Ranil. This is more than convincing that they were totally disinterested in peace. Tamilselvan was an integral part of this, and there deserves his due blame. He clearly was part and parcel of the LTTE’s anti-peace efforts. So in my eyes, he is not a moderate in any sense of the word. It is deceiving to parade him as a ‘lost opportunity’ for peace.
    And for the author to state that ‘it is time for the government to embark on acts of goodwill’ is absurd. Ranil made many attempts at confidence-building, offering helicopter transport to the Tigers, providing them with non-lethal equipment such as communication equipment, etc. But the LTTE chose to spit in our face in return. It is clear the LTTE is not interested in peace, at least in the type of peace that is being pursued now. This is not to say that I believe in a military solution- far from it. But if we are to tackle the LTTE, it has to be done through other ways. Power devolution is the most obvious way, and a perfect first step. Unfortunately this govt. seems to be stuck in the mud regarding this.

  • kbob

    Read the excerpt of a person who had first-hand experience negotiating with Thamilselvan:
    “I will not be on record, since it is unfair to say bad things about a person in his death. But he was not a good man and was a poor negotiator, simply for the fact that he was inflexible and therefore, a compromise with him was virtually impossible,” said a member of a previous UNF government delegation who wished to remain unnamed.
    Thamilselvan’s smile belied his personality, the delegation member said, adding that the late ‘Brigadier’ was a man who was firmly on the side of war and had no real aspirations for peace and an end to the Sri Lankan conflict.

    “He was obviously very much Prabhakaran’s man. He brought a message from the LTTE leader when he came to the talks, and unlike Balasingham, who would constantly call Killonochchi and attempt to shift positions on certain issues, Thamilselvan would not budge. So he was in the end, a poor negotiator, since a negotiator cannot be so inflexible. And unlike Balasingham, it was very apparent that Thamilselvan was really not interested in peace and all his efforts were merely to bide time for the LTTE’s military apparatus,” the delegation member said.

  • David Blacker

    I am disappointed that this site has decided to publish an article that is so inaccurate and filled with rather fanciful flights of the imagination. The fact that it’s nothing more than regurgitated Tiger propoganda, while amusing, isn’t really as bad (everyone is welcome to their biases) as the fact that it isn’t very factual. Just a few of the disputable statements made by Mr Kumaran:

    “The LTTE’s two-pronged attack on the Sri Lankan airbase… and the air raid of the Sri Lankan air force… which killed six LTTEers, including the their political wing chief, have created panic among the Sri Lankans”

    What panic is the writer talking about? There is no sign of any panic. If at all there was first jubilation amongst the LTTE supporters after the A’pura attack, and then celebration on the side of the GoSL after Tamilchelvam’s death.

    “This mounting panic could push Sri Lanka intent on crushing the LTTE prowess and the LTTE in turn to to launch military operations aim at dividing the country into two nations within one island. ”

    What does the writer think has been going on for the past year? Peace talks? If at all the fighting was far more intense a few months ago, with much more bloodshed. None of this has been spurred by panic, but by calculated strategems on both sides.

    “The LTTE victory has put the Sri Lankan government into a grave political predicament for the Sri Lankan government, since Mahinda Rajapaksa coming to power, has not faced such a massive military defeat.”

    To term the A’pura atttack a “massive military defeat” is a gross exaggeration, and akin to the bandying of the word ‘debacle’ by the newspapers whenever something isn’t a victory. The loss of the aircraft at A’pura is a major setback for the GoSL, but one that can quickly be remedied. A massive military defeat cannot be fixed that quickly or so simply. The taking of the Eastern Province by the Armed Forces was indeed a massive military defeat for the LTTE. I hope Mr Kumaran can tell the difference.

    “But, in swift retaliation, the Sri Lankan air force bombers targetted the “always smiling face” LTTE political wing leader S. P.Thamilselvan.”

    Again, the writer displays his lack of knowledge of the subject matter. Decapitation raids are not conducted overnight (at least not in SL). The targeting of the Tiger brass has been in operation for a long time. It was just good fortune that Tamilchelvam was nailed a few days after the A’pura raid.

    “Thamilselvan was regarded as a moderate political activist of the LTTE, and he is seen as a skilled diplomat by international leaders who met with him during interludes of peace talks.”

    Thamilchelvam has never been moderate. I challenge the writer to publish any public speech given by TC to the NE Tamils that spoke of moderation. In fact the man had very few opinions of his own, but was just a mouthpiece for VP, who was hardly moderate. And please point out which “international leaders” have even met Tamilchelvam, never mind called him a “skilled diplomat”? Do you mean leaders of NGOs?

    “The Sri Lankan government, for its part, blames the LTTE for insisting that there be conditions before it enters any peace talks.”

    This too is false. What the GoSL blames the Tigers for is the continuing attacks on the SL military, the murder of elected officials, and the terrorism practiced by the LTTE even while it calls for a political solution.

    “In the aftermath of the Anuradhapura airbase bombings, peace-loving people around the world do not want to see the island subjected to war again.”

    Again, I must ask the writer what he feels has been going on throughout this year. He gives the impression that the recent violence is an indication of a return to war. The war has been in full swing for months.

    “LTTE supremo Velupillai Pirapaharan gave the military code name “Operation Ellalan” to the attack on the Anuradhapura airbase, in order to show the world that Tamil heritage remains active on the island and that the direct threat to Anuradhapura will extend to other areas unless the Sinhala government in Colombo grants autonomy to the two Tamil provinces, which lie in northern and eastern Sri Lanka.”

    How does the writer class the Eastern Province a “Tamil province” when the Tamils are in fact outnumbered by the Sinhalese & Muslims?

    “Besides regiments, the Tamil Tigers have three armed forces – Land, Sea and Air; their members are known as the Black Tigers.”

    This is incorrect. The members of the three LTTE armed wings are NOT known as Black Tigers. In fact there are NO Black Tiger units per se in the LTTE. Black Tiger training is given to certain LTTEers, just as airborne training is given to select Army troops (the SL Army has no airborne units). The Black Tigers are then drawn from their parent units for special missions.

    ” LTTE aircraft intercepted the Sri Lankan helicopters, shot one down, and caused the other helicopter to turn back.”

    This is utter rubbish. This site is risking its credibility by allowing such nonsense to be published. The Bell 212 gunship was shot down by SLAF groundfire. The Tiger Ziln aircraft have no air-to-air capability.

    “The Tamil Tigers have blamed the Sri Lankan government for violating the U.N. Geneva convention by removing the clothes of the dead and exhibiting the bodies to the public.”

    Stripping bodies of their clothing is not a violation of the Geneva Conventions, and is routinely done when searching dead enemy for weapons, explosives, or intelligence. Also, there is no evidence that the bodies were “exhibited” to the public. Bystanders observed the bodies when they were waiting to be moved into the morgue, and some took pictures. Photographs of the dead BTs were also shown on the MoD websites, and the LTTE routinely do the same with Army dead on their websites.

    “The Sri Lankan government faced diplomatic pressure for this wrong-doing because it handed over the bodies, through the ICRC, to the LTTE, as is the practice between conflicting parties during war.”

    As the writer himself has already stated in the presceding paragraph, the bodies were buried and not handed over. What wrong-doing is this fanciful “diplomatic pressure” about?

    “The retired Indian cabinet secretary, B. Raman, who, when hitherto writing about the Sri Lankan ethnic crisis, had always supported the Sri Lankan government and opposed the LTTE, now was in praise of the LTTE attack:”

    Raman has never supported the GoSL, though he blows both hot and cold when it comes to talking about the LTTE.

    “Before the attack on Anuradhapura airbase, the LTTE had used various tactics to avoid engaging in conventional warfare with the Sri Lankan armed forces, when the latter took control of some areas controlled by the LTTE in eastern Sri Lanka and south of Mannar. But, people who knew the mind of the LTTE leader knew the Tigers were simply crouching, in order to leap forward later.”

    This paragraph barely deserves a response, apart from the first line. In fact, part of the reason the LTTE was defeated in the East was because it attempted to hold territory in a conventional style, while the Army actually used unconventional warfare in the form of its special operations units. The writer seems to think that the A’pura attack was a conventional one; it wasn’t; the raid was straight out of the unconventional warfare textbook.

    “He was married to an LTTE female cadre, and they have two children, who live in Vanni.”

    This too is false. Tamilchelvam’s family (except for his brother, who is an LTTE clerk) reside in Canada. This has been confirmed by DBS Jeyaraj in his recent article on TC’s death.

    “he was groomed by the LTTE leader to be the political wing head, since the LTTE did not have a high-profile person to take the position after Col. Thileepan died in 1987 after twelve days of ‘fasting-to-death'”

    Wrong again. Thileeepan did not “fast-unto-death”. He swallowed cyanide in ’87.

    “It is unfortunate that the Sri Lankan government targeted a champion of peace a man who believed that peace was a real possibility and a man of hope.”

    As with most of Mr Kumaran’s article, this is false. TC was no champion of peace, and was always uncompromising in his stance. He was also military commander for the Pooneryn area at the time of his death, (as is evidenced by his posthumous promotion in military rank, unlike Anton Balasingham, who was never part of the military wing).

    “As never before in the history of the Tamil Eelam struggle and not since the 1991 killing of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi have Indian Tamil leaders so wholeheartedly come forth to condemn the Sri Lankan government and support the LTTE.”

    I assume this is Mr Kumaran’s attempt at levity. I wasn’t aware that Indian Tamil leaders condemned the GoSL and supported the LTTE for the killing of Rajiv Gandhi.

    “Others around the world have expressed their support for the Tamils. A Canadian parliamentarian elected in Scarborough-Agincourt, Jim Karygiannis,”

    This is at best an exaggeration, as the statement of an MP in a Tamil electorate in Ontario is hardly indicative of world support. In fact, there has been a rather deafening silence from the west when it came to condemning the killing.

    “Time is ticking for Sri Lanka. It is time for the Sri Lankan government to act quickly to send its condolences for the killing of the LTTE cadres and to embark on acts of goodwill.”

    I believe Gota is at a loss for words and that’s why there’s been a bit of a delay in sending the condolences.

    Sanjana, I’m deeply disappointed. Is it now permissable on this site to merely copy and post an article straight from defence.lk or whatever, without actually needing to be truthful or verifying one’s facts? The above article is just a mix of inaccuracies, outright lies, and some ignorance.

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Dear David,

    I too am disappointed that such a comprehensive reply to this article did not come in the form of a submission to Groundviews. Perhaps more articles from you that are truthful and factually accurate can redress the perceived imbalance herein? This blog after all is a living conversation and my response to you is the same as the one I gave Malinda Seneviratne from NMAT and now at SCOPP – please feel free to write in to the site in a manner that conforms with our site guidelines. Anything that does, is published, but to express your disappointment without proactive engagement (as you have done with this superb critique) is pointless.

    I can only strongly encourage Kumaaran to respond to your trenchant comments – perhaps more than the articles, it’s the comments that make this site what it is and I thank you for writing in.

    Hope to see more of you in the future,

    Sanjana

  • Sham

    dear sanjana

    having read your reply to david, i am curious as to why groundviews didnt post my full reply , and rather cut it short ( see first comment above) . i will publish this again to see if groundviews will censor me one more time?

    my question to kumarn is – when you fist , killed our white dove of peace in the form of Mr. Lakshman Kadragamar on the 12th of Aug 2005, did you feel the same way?

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Dear Sham,

    What comment are you referring to?

    Before you jump headlong into erroneous conclusions of censorship with the risk of looking silly, if you have a copy of the original, could you please re-send? I haven’t edited any of your comments and if you did send any that didn’t get published, they may have been filtered by Akismet, over which I have no control. I don’t check the comments captured by the filter – they number in the hundreds per day and I don’t have the time anymore to go through each one. If you are repeatedly blocked, suggest you send comment to me through the contact form which I can post up myself.

    Sanjana

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    David,

    Follow up to last comment – I’ve emailed the author, who I don’t know personally, and asked him to respond to your comment in particular, but the points brought out by others. Hope he does and soon.

    Sanjana

  • ya right

    Hi Sanjana,

    I also posted a comment last night.. and its not there anymore? Would you know why?

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Hi Ya Right,

    No, but read my response to Sham. Further, “not there anymore” implies that it was at some point of time and that I have taken it off.

    This is a completely false proposition, as I have not deleted or edited out any comments to this post.

    Please re-send and / or send it through the comment form.

    Sanjana

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Update – turns out the email the author has put at the end of the article is incorrect. Hope he reads this and sends me the correct email and more importantly, responds to the comments herein.

  • David Blacker

    Hi Sanjana

    Yes, guilty as charged as far as contributing to this site is concerned. I will try to do so asap.

    However, in spite of your response to my comments, I still remain shocked that such an article has been posted on this site. As an ‘editor’ of sorts for the site, don’t you feel responsible for the content? Large portions of Kumaran’s article is just fiction, and I was under the impression that this site was promoting citizen journalism; not thinly veiled propoganda. How long before we have guys from SPUR and Defencenet coming over to write their own versions of reality? Shouldn’t the site retain some credibility as a source of information & commentary, and not just as a platform for conversation. For I fear that there can be very little conversation if the basis is rhetoric such as the above article.

    The fact that you have been provided with an incorrect email address for the writer makes it seem as if the site has just been targeted by part of the LTTE’s PR arm which is in top gear right now over TC’s death. Kumaran refers to “this paper” somewhere in his article, giving me the impression that the piece was done for a newspaper of sorts. Has anyone heard of him before?

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Hi David,

    My hope is that those such as yourself who read what’s published here and respond in a manner that’s civil yet critical, is the best editorial mechanism. My role here is to ensure that content falls into the guidelines here – http://www.groundviews.org/submission-guidelines. If it does (as with this article), it’s published and it’s up to the community, who must follow the same guidelines, to engage with the content and take forward the discussions. All edits I’ve done on this site have been to exclude nut-jobs with an axe to grind with me or CPA (we both know who these are), those who only seem to have expletives in their vocabulary, those whose English is so bad that it is nonsense and those who have in some other way written in with comments that could have posed legal problems for me or CPA.

    If you feel strongly that this article in particular breaks any of the guidelines, let me know and I’ll take it into consideration on whether this article will remain on the site or not. Ideally however I’d like the author to respond to you and let the two of you, and the rest of the community here, battle it out.

    Re the LTTE’s PR arm coming on board to Groundviews, I wouldn’t like to rule it out, but I think not. Groundviews really isn’t that important and the LTTE has more ways to spread their message than publish content here.

    Finally, and you beat me to this, the email address that at the end of the article contains a typo. I’ve now corrected this in the article and will email him again on the need, as I feel, to respond to your comments.

    Best,

    Sanjana

  • ya right

    Hi Sanjana,

    It was a long comment and i wrote it here directly so I dont have the time to reproduce it. But I am 100% sure that once i pressed the submit comment button it was published as the 3rd comment. Anyway next time if i do comment i will try and keep a copy and a print screen to prove that it was online.

  • Sanjana

    Ya right,

    All comments are moderated and yours simply did not appear on my moderation queue. As I have repeatedly stated, some legit comments end up in Akismet – which is beyond my control. Given how useful it is in weeding out all manner of spam, I am loathe to disable for the sake of a few comments that are not reflected on this site. My apologies for the inconvenience – should you have the time, please do repost your comments and once you do, if it doesn’t appear in around an hour or so, alert me via the comment form.

    Best,

    Sanjana

  • http://yahoo Harshi

    A considerable number of peaceloving people neither happy nor sad at the Anuradhapura attack or killing of LTTE smiling face. They deeply concerned when will this failed country rebuild.

  • suntzu

    You guys ever heard this quote before?
    ” I disagree with what you say, but i will defend to the death your right to say it!”
    – Voltaire –

    ps: …there are also lies, damn lies and statistics…like the the death tolls given of the LTTE by the Government since 1983! So give Satheesan Kumaaran a break!

  • David Blacker

    Maybe you’ve heard this one, Suntzu: “Two lies don’t make a truth.”

    So pointing out other lies doesn’t make Kumaran’s bs smell any better.

  • Des

    I don’t have a problem with this article except that the writer takes a tone of trying to say what really happened without any sources. Also it is now becoming increasingly accepted that pinning down the truth is ambitious at best, and not useful in a conflict-resolution perspective.
    I would much rather hear the writers opinion, which is personal to him, and reasons why he has that opinion, which no one can then dispute with.

  • Satheesan Kumaaran

    To all concerned,

    I am grateful to everyone who reviewed my paper, entitled “The Killing of the ‘Always-Smiling Face’ LTTE Political Head and the Anuradhapura Airbase Attack Bring an Already-Futile Peace Process to the Edge of Chaos.” I owe thanks to everyone, especially Sham, Kbob, Harshi, Suntzu, and David Blacker. Although I value all of your responses, I especially appreciate David Blacker for his response of over 1800 words, a response that helped to explain the major points of my article.

    Sham concluded that the LTTE will be defeated militarily and that it is only a matter of days before the LTTE leader will be assassinated. This may or may not happen, although I believe the Sri Lankan armed forces will probably do this, if they can. But, Sham, you should keep in mind that by killing individual LTTE members, the government will be making a tactical blunder. If it does this, the result will be the creation of many more Pirapaharans. The problem in Sri Lanka is not just the Pirapaharan issue; it is also the national problem caused by the conflicting ideologies of the major ethnic groups, namely the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The Tamils were denied freedom, and they began their protests by peaceful means, but their peaceful protests were met with violence. This is the reality, not just my opinion. The former Sri Lankan President, Chandrika Kumaratunga, acknowledged the Tamils have grievances and those grievances should be heard. The question is how previous governments handled the grievances and how the present government plans to deal with them. The Sri Lankan government under Mahinda Rajapaksa failed to change the constitution from its present unitary form, in order to enable it to solve the ethnic conflict on the island. The top national priority for Sri Lanka, as I see it, is the crafting of a solution to the ethnic conflict that has devastated the economy of the country and taken the lives of over 75,000 innocent victims. Just as serious are the gross violations of human rights, practices that are condemned by international human rights agencies.

    Interestingly, on November 7, the president proposed a budget for 2008, one that is a clear example of the government’s intention in dealing with the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka. The government, last year, increased the defence budget, and once again the government increased the defence budget, this time by 20 percent, bringing it from 139 billion rupees to 166.4 billion rupees. One should remember that the price of commodities in Sri Lanka is astonishing. There is no word to describe it. A commoner, whether he is a Sinhalese, Tamil, or Muslim, always suffers from the war. Many people on the island still starve, although some dispute this claim. The reality is that thousands of people suffer economically. Only people in windowless houses throw stones and encourage war on the island. It is obvious, as I stated earlier, that extremists, politicians, and warmongers are the only ones who benefit from the war.
    My point here is that Sham posed the question: what did I think when the LTTE killed Lakshman Kadirgamar, in 2005. I am not a warmonger, I am not an extremist, and I am not a politician. I am merely a political science student who holds two undergraduate degrees (biology and political science) and a graduate degree in political science. I want to see a civilized society in Sri Lanka, a great one, not one in which competitors are motivated by revenge, by photo opportunities, or by sinister gains. Every Sri Lankan should learn from neighbouring Indians about the ways the latter aspire to build India into a great power in the world by embracing power knowledge. I vehemently condemn the killing of any individual because no-one has the right to take the life of another or to torture another. I live by the standard that no-one should do any harm, even to a single micro-organism. I always ask myself the question: why do authorities in India and Sri Lanka blame others. When Rajiv was killed in Tamil Nadu, the CBI acted quickly to blame the LTTE, without any investigation whatsoever. He was killed just before midnight, but the posters blaming the LTTE were immediately pasted on the walls of Tamil Nadu and the media outlets spread the story, quoting CBI officials that the LTTE killed Rajiv, within a few hours of when he was killed. One should remember that if one suspects someone, then one will always suspect that person, whether that person does or does not commit any crime. When any incidents take place in the Sinhala homeland, the media outlets and the government blame the LTTE, without any proof. There are many para-militia operating in the Sinhala homeland, whether they are government-sponsored, Tamil militants or Sinhala extremist movements.

    I am sure Kbob is a UNPer; he is either a UNP member or supporter. He argued that the LTTE chose to spit on the UNPers. Do you agree with what the government under Ranil Wickremesinghe did during the negotiations? The LTTE put forward basic demands, which included the relaxation of economic sanctions against the Tamils and the right of the Tamils on the island to live free from the occupation of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Basically, what they demanded was to create normalcy, in order to create mutual understanding before entering into genuine talks to find a solution. The government then created a few agreements with the LTTE, but they were not implemented. One other example is that the LTTE asked the people living in the northern and eastern parts of Sri Lanka to refrain from casting their votes in the presidential election because past presidents who came to power never represented the Tamils, even though they were elected with the votes of the Tamils. The presidents who came to power since Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain, in 1948, rarely visited the Tamil-dominated, northern and eastern provinces. So, the case in point is the LTTE felt that no matter who was elected – Ranil, Mahinda, Premadasa, J.R, or Chandrika – that person would not care about the plight of the Tamils.

    I am really saddened to read David’s points. He stated, in his response to my paper, that the editor of this website should not have posted my paper because the article is so inaccurate and filled with rather fanciful flights of the imagination. He further wrote: “The above article is just a mix of inaccuracies, outright lies, and some ignorance.”

    He copied and posted most of my paragraphs, and he gave his opinion about each one. I always welcome criticism, both negative and positive, which will help me to learn and to improve. This is the great exchange of ideas and knowledge. But David has done something different because he chose only the negative criticisms, and he described each one in a disparaging way. I am not sure why individuals get so upset. We should exchange our views in a positive fashion, in order to stop bloodshed on the island and to create a healthier society. David, I do not know you personally; so, do not feel offended that I disparaged you or your nation in any way. I love every single human being and, in fact, every single living organism, as well as mother Earth. If the Tamils want to live in freedom, then we do not have the right to disturb them by occupying their homes through force. No-one has the right to expel families from their properties. I came out in support of the Muslims when they were driven out of Jaffna by the LTTE. And, I protest against the Sri Lankan government for occupying the properties of the Tamils in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, after driving out the owners, who now live in temporary shelters or refugee camps in the local vicinity or in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

    David must remember Thileepan, who fasted for 12 days, in 1987, demanding the Indian government recognize the demands put forward by his movement, the LTTE. But, he died without even having a cup of water during his death campaign. I was surprised that you thought Thileepan consumed cyanide capsules. It is obvious that if one does not drink and eat, one will die. Annai Poopathy, in Batticaloa, with the same demand, also died in a protest fast. One should not stab a person in the back. Thileepan died, and it is sinister to devalue his cause of death by claiming he died by vomiting venoms.
    Indian Tamil leaders condemned the Sri Lankan government for killing Thamiselvan because he was the face of the international community. He met many leaders, including Africans, Asians, and Europeans. Furthermore, Thamilselvan was attached to the political wing of the LTTE, not to the military wing. The LTTE, in addition to its conventional land, air, and sea Tigers, has a unique group called the “Black Tigers”, who are also trained in land, sea, and air operations.

    Although the government has imposed war on the Tamils for the past few years, after halting the peace talks, the LTTE maintained defensive attacks and did not declare war. The killing of Thamilselvan by the Sri Lankan air force is seen as sensitive, and the LTTE leader, in preparing to declare the Eelam-1V war, would fulfill the demands of the Tamils and create two independent states on one island, called Ceylon or Ilankai.
    One should remember that the statements of the LTTE commanders on the eve of Thamilselvan’s funeral and the statement of the LTTE leader are clear examples that the peace is on the edge of chaos. The government should embrace the LTTE, in goodwill, and should apologize for killing Thamilselvan because the days are ticking before the LTTE leader goes before the public and relays his verdict of the best means of action to obtain rights for the Tamils on the island.

  • Sham

    “The government should embrace the LTTE, in goodwill, and should apologize for killing Thamilselvan because the days are ticking before the LTTE leader goes before the public and relays his verdict of the best means of action to obtain rights for the Tamils on the island”

    hey Kuma, i think every one was waiting for your reply, & as ur previous ending , this times reply ending is also based on how the GOSL should apologise to LTTE for Killing the “DOVE”.

    DONT YOU THINK, THAT IF VP & the LTTE should apologized for killing of lakshman kadiragaman first ? as it was done when they were in a peace agreement,?

    i dont know about ur political master level diplomacy, but it sounds fair to me that LTTE apologize first… what do u think?

  • David Blacker

    Thank you for your response, Satheesan, though I must say that I am disappointed by it. I had hoped that you would state sources or other evidence for your erronous claims instead of merely insisting that you’re correct. Even more disappointingly, you have chosen ad hominum arguments over factual ones (claiming Kbob is a UNPer in order to devalue his comments, and suggesting that my response was an angry outburst when in fact it wasn’t). At no point have you addressed the specific issues. So let me respond to the little you have said.

    ” But, Sham, you should keep in mind that by killing individual LTTE members, the government will be making a tactical blunder. If it does this, the result will be the creation of many more Pirapaharans. ”

    This is just naivete. There will never be another Prabkharan, just as there is no other Anton Balasingham. No new players on the stage can ever replace these larger-than-life personalities. As we have seen in the East, neither Karuna nor his replacement have that stature. The death of Prabakharan will see an infighting within the LTTE which will cause it to implode. However, that alone, would be insufficient; and the GoSL needs to pursue other methods simultaneously. If it were to merely rely on targeting Praba and others in the Tiger top brass, I would agree with you that it would be a blunder (but one of a strategic nature, not tactical). The GoSL, however, is not relying only on this avenue of atttack, so your analysis is incorrect.

    “The problem in Sri Lanka is not just the Pirapaharan issue; it is also the national problem caused by the conflicting ideologies of the major ethnic groups, namely the Sinhalese and the Tamils.”

    Once more, SK, you are falling victim to the Tiger propoganda (or you are attempting to propegate it). Neither the Sinhalese nor the Tamils have an ideaology; the latter has been created by the LTTE, and the GoSL merely has a constitution. However, you are correct that the war was begun by the Tamil aspiration for freedom from Sinhalese oppression. That aspiration, however, has been hijacked and distorted by the LTTE idealogy, which has attempted to articulate that said aspiration. In doing so, the idealogy has replaced the legitimate aspiration. In effect, the idealogical demand for a separate and racially pure Tamil state has replaced the legitimate aspiration for the Tamils to live as free and equal citizens of Sri Lanka. And that idealogy is inspired by Prabakharans’s ambitions. Therefore while the original problem wasn’t Prabakharan, he now is the bulk of the problem, and his removal will greatly advance the move towards a final and lasting peace.

    “The Sri Lankan government under Mahinda Rajapaksa failed to change the constitution from its present unitary form, in order to enable it to solve the ethnic conflict on the island. ”

    To say the present GoSL failed is incorrect again, seeing that Mahinda never attempted to change the unitary constitution, and in fact part of his platform was to preserve the nation’s unitary state. The administration that in fact failed to do what you’ve suggested, was the UNP, which had pledged itself to a federal system; and the reason for that failure was the LTTE’s prevention of the NE Tamil vote in the last presidential election. The LTTE removed the UNP from power and caused them to fail in setting up a federal system that would have benefitted the NE Tamils.

    “When Rajiv was killed in Tamil Nadu, the CBI acted quickly to blame the LTTE, without any investigation whatsoever. ”

    Don’t be absurd. No terrorist group in India or SL has ever used suicide bombers except the LTTE. And none have since. So it was an understandable conclusion. Subsequent investigations proved the initial conclusion was correct, aand eeven VP has admitted that the killing of Rajiv Gandhi was “an unfortunaate mistake”. So what exactly is your point in bringing this up?

    “The LTTE put forward basic demands, which included the relaxation of economic sanctions against the Tamils”

    There are no sanctions against the Tamils in SL. However, there are sanctions against the LTTE. Please don’t make the same mistake as the Sinhalese right wing who see no difference between the LTTE and the Tamils. My own mother is a Tamil, and I can assure you there have never been sanctions against her.

    “But David has done something different because he chose only the negative criticisms, and he described each one in a disparaging way.”

    Well of course I only took up the porrtions of your article which were factually incorrect. There are many more areas with which I disagree, but which I think is pointless to argue about, because they are personal opinions. So if you feel that pointing out your factual errors is a negative criticism, I’m afraid you need to take a good look at why you’re writing aa piece for public consumption. If you wish to make a credible statement, you need to have credibility. Getting easily verifiable facts wrong doesn’t lend you any credibility.

    “I am not sure why individuals get so upset. We should exchange our views in a positive fashion, in order to stop bloodshed on the island and to create a healthier society. David, I do not know you personally; so, do not feel offended that I disparaged you or your nation in any way.”

    Once more, you choose to make assumptions that are not based on any faacts. I can assure you that your article in now way upset me. What upset me was that this site chose to post something which was so full of falseties. And you have neither offended nor disparaged me or “my” nation. The latter happens to be SL by the way. Which nation do you belong to?

    “And, I protest against the Sri Lankan government for occupying the properties of the Tamils in northern and eastern Sri Lanka, after driving out the owners, who now live in temporary shelters or refugee camps in the local vicinity or in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu.”

    The occupation of private propert by the armed forces is an unfortunate result of the war; and there’s no point protesting it because it will not change until the war is over. Those refugees will continue to languish in camps alongside the refugees from battles and LTTE ethnic cleansing. Perhaps you should protest to the LTTE about their continuing acts of terror and violence, the ceaasing of which will help the war come to a rapid conclusion and enable those Tamils to return to their lands.

    “David must remember Thileepan, who fasted for 12 days, in 1987, demanding the Indian government recognize the demands put forward by his movement, the LTTE. But, he died without even having a cup of water during his death campaign. I was surprised that you thought Thileepan consumed cyanide capsules”

    As I said earlier, I hoped you would have some evidence to back your statements. Thileepan did participate in a hunger strike, however he died by swallowing cyanide smuggled to him. Rohan Gunaratne describes the incident quite cleaarly in his book “Indian Intervention in Sri Lanka”.

    “He met many leaders, including Africans, Asians, and Europeans.”

    Which leaders? Again, you provide no evidence, but just insist you are right.

    “Furthermore, Thamilselvan was attached to the political wing of the LTTE, not to the military wing.”

    DBS Jeyaraj details Tamilchelvam’s exact role in his article ““Brigadier” Thamilchelvan, The “Smiling” Face of LTTE” (http://transcurrents.com/tamiliana/) and the fact that he was the military commander for the Pooneryn and Muhumalai areas.

    “The LTTE, in addition to its conventional land, air, and sea Tigers, has a unique group called the “Black Tigers”, who are also trained in land, sea, and air operations.”

    Your origiinal statement was “Besides regiments, the Tamil Tigers have three armed forces – Land, Sea and Air; their members are known as the Black Tigers.”, and I pointed out that the Tigers belonging to the Land, Sea, and Air arms of the LTTE are NOT known as Black Tigers. There are also NO Black Tiger units. The LTTE has regiments such as the Imran Pandiyan, Charles Anthony, etc. Even Tamiltigers.net (http://ttnet.netfast.org/photos/photos_index.html) does not list any BT units, because there are none. I challenge you to provide any doccumented evidence of formal BT units. Individuaal Tigers are selected for BT training after which they are returned to their parent units until needed or immediately assigned missions.

    “The government should embrace the LTTE, in goodwill, and should apologize for killing Thamilselvan because the days are ticking before the LTTE leader goes before the public and relays his verdict of the best means of action to obtain rights for the Tamils on the island.”

    Should the GoSL embrace the LTTE the waay the LTTE embraced Rajiv Gandhi? As for VP’s speech, we await it with baaited breaath, but if you are hoping for anything other than calls for more suicide by the NE Tamils, I wouldn’t go on a hunger strike in anticipation. The LTTE haas proven that they have nothing to offer the NE Tamils beyond more death and suffering, with no realistic plan.

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Contents posted here, without any edits, from email sent to me by author of the original post. SH

    I read David’s comments.

    Please convey that I have the evidence to support my arguments. I never write papers based on myths. I am quite busy this week so I cannot get the books. I read most of Rohan Gunaratne’s books. I have disagreements with him and I felt he’s biased but I don’t blame him because he was funded by the states to undertake the projects. One author if he or she funded by government agencies, then he or she needs to work on the project favourably to the particular state agencies’ missions.

    I am not a LTTEer to predict whether internal fighting will take place if VP is killed by the Lankan air raids. What I meant was that many more Pirapaharans will emerge with the same motives unless otherwise the government fulfils the just demands of the Tamils. Sri Lanka is a failed state, in my opinion. Well before LTTTE began military campaign the government administration was POOR in the North and East except Jaffna town, Trinco and Vavuniya. If you had visited North East well before 1970s, you would know how the system was effective in the Tamil areas.

    Regards,
    Satheesan Kumaaran

  • David Blacker

    More ad hominum attacks, generalisations, and rhetoric. Most disappointing.

  • ya right

    I really hope that SK will be free enough in the coming days to provide the “evidence”. He should know to make that part of the article when writing it in the 1st place without waiting for someone like David to come up with actual facts and examples before SK says he has them but has to look for them. I hope that SK will have the b*lls to come and show the evidence. What should we do if he never finds his evidence *Cough, *Cough…

    Just a suggestion to groundviews – if a writer keeps on posting baseless articles without proper facts can the site not black mark the person and add a comment next to the article saying “not a credible writer” or something? Because I know you said that these articles should be there and ppls comments that make the site work, but I would like to say what about the ppl who just read the article only and don’t go down to read the comments? Or for someone who might republish this article without the comments?

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Email from Satheesan:

    Sources:

    http://www.atimes.com/ind-pak/DD13Df02.html
    http://www.tamilnation.org/indictment/indict046.htm
    http://www.rediff.com/news/2000/mar/31lanka.htm
    Please read the books: The Broken Palmyra, Island of Blood and Scarred Minds: The Psychological Impact of War on Sri Lankan Tamils
    ————

  • http://childoftwentyfive.blogsome.com N

    Well most of Blacker’s criticisms of Satheesan’s article are valid. The point of calling Tamilchelvam a ‘champion of peace’ is probably one of the dumbest things I have ever heard, he was a trained monkey….jumping at VP’s beck and call with nary an independent thought in his head.

    According to the Broken Palmyrah however, Thileepan fasted to death and didn’t receive cyanide…but the rest of the article is nonsense….I wonder whether they do not teach to back up arguments with evidence in grad school anymore.

  • Netrikkan

    Satheesan Kumaaran’s arguments are valid. He did not write a paper for his research courses. All his comments are true. Sri Lankan governments unleash false and malicious propaganda about Tamil Eelam struggle. Most likely David and N are [edited out - please be civil and address the issue in your comments.] of the Sri Lankan ‘failed state’.

  • David Blacker

    SK, while all three of the sites provided by you (and btw tamilnation.org can hardly be called a credible source) claim that Thileepan died on the 26th while conducting the fast, none clearly state that it was a result of the fast. It is suggested by association. Even tamiltigers.net, which has a section devoted to Thileepan and the fast doesn’t claim he died as a result of it. This is one of the myths of the LTTE, similar to the one about VP having cycled all over the south, which is also rubbish. But I think this topic haas run it’s course, and is really immaterial to the larger argument. The fact that Thileepan committed suicide (by fasting or cyanide) is true.

    As for your suggestion that I read “The Broken Palmyrah” (which I have), “Island of Blood”, and “Scarred Minds”, I find that a rather lazy copout. Am I supposed to read through those books to find supportive evidence to back YOUR inaccuracies? I think not. The least you can do is quote from those books or provide the context for the specific errors I have pointed out.

  • ya right

    Satheesan Kumaaran = Netrikkan?? mayb not but sounds like it, cos i can’t imagine that there could be 2 such ignorant ppl, who simple say they are right cos they say so, on the same blog. If you think you are right just prove it!!!

  • Kbob

    Satheesan,

    I do not like to associate myself with political party labels. Rather I choose to associate myself with ideologies and policies. The policies of the present-day UNP- devolution of power, ideals of a liberal-democracy, market-oriented economy, pro-peace etc.- align with mine, and thus I have chosen to support the party.

    Coming back to the LTTE, it surprises me to hear you claim that the UNP did not do enough to help foster a peaceful settlement with the LTTE. When you say that one of the demands of the LTTE was for the ‘right of the Tamils on the island to live free from occupation of the Sri Lankan armed forces’, you seem to suggest that the Tamils are being occupied by the ‘foreign’ Sri Lankan army. With an attitutde like this, peace becomes hard to acheive. Tamils are Sri Lankans just as much as Sinhalese are. And don’t forget that checkpoints and army searches exist in the south as well. The government in 2002 had removed many of the checkpoints and tried to create a more ‘normal’ atmosphere.

    And ‘sanctions’?? The economy of the North-East flourished more than ever during the time the UNP was in power. Traders from Jaffna sold their goods to markets in the south and vice versa. People were growing prosperous, expatriate Tamils were bringing back their wealth to the North, people were resettling and building houses etc. I still remember the landmark moment when Ranil lead a massive conglomerate business delegation to explore opportunities of setting up factories and economics zones in the North-East. To say that the Tamils were under economic oppression during this time is a joke. And have you forgotten the $4.5 billion that the government secured for reconstruction and rehabilitation of war-affected areas of the country??

    The government sacrificed losing political support in the south through implementing confidence-building measures such as providing air force transportation to LTTE heads, and providing communications equipment to the LTTE. The least the LTTE could have done was reciprocate the favour by cooperating with, and encouraging the government in fulfilling their job.

    The LTTE did not boycott the election because they had lost faith in Sri Lankan politicians. Far from it. It was a carefully calculated attempt to prevent Ranil- who was winning the hearts and minds of the Tamils through bringing normalcy back to the east- from winning. For Ranil to win would mean an erosion of support for the LTTE from the Tamils. If the LTTE did not have faith in southern politicians, they should not have signed a CFA with the government in the first place!

    Ranil even promised federalism if he became president! Why would the Tigers reject such a candidate then?? Obviously they did not want peace to prevail, because they would then lose their grip on the Tamil people.

  • Satheesan Kumaaran

    Cunning politician Ranil Wickremesinghe attempted to hoodwink the Tamils and the LTTE leadership through peace talks. While he was speaking peace, he and his party men were the ones who split the Tamil Tigers, for example Karuna of Batticaloa. UNP leadership gave shelter in Sinhala areas to Karuna and his friends.
    True, Ranil’s government relaxed security checkpoints in Colombo and its suburbs. But one should remember that Ranil government was busy setting up new camps in the North and East. Ranil gave helicopter rides for the LTTE cadres because he wanted to hoodwink the international community. By doing so, he thought he could receive the US $ 4.5 billion aid from the international donors.

    Tamils are sick and tired of the tactical approaches of the Sri Lankan leaders who represent their nation alone. Can you please ask your leadership to change the present Constitution before entering into genuine talks with the LTTE leadership? Talking of adopting federalism is a ploy of the Sri Lankan leaders to hoodwink the international community and the peace-loving Tamils. The rigid Constitution of Sri Lanka does not favour minorities whatsoever. The majority people need to vote in order to change the constitution. That does not seem will happen in the near future. Sinhala extremists will never allow it to happen. You should educate the Sinhala general public that the Tamils have grievances, and they can be met through amending the present Constitution. I am sure Dr. G. L.Peiris knows better, but he won’t do it because he wants to hold a Cabinet post under the guise of peace talks in any government that controls the power either it be UNP or SLFP or People’s Alliance! This is really a nasty politics in the so-called “Third world.” These individuals have no ideologies whatsoever in politics.

    I do not need to use another name to post my responses. I sent the url to some of my friends, including Netrikkan.

  • pasupathy

    No federal solution is possible in srilankan constituition. So all peace talks even the GOSL and LTTE accepted a federal set up,will fail without changing the constituition. It needs paelimentary approval or referendum , both are not possible in this country. If the president can use his power this will be possible to change the costituition. Which president will change the constitution and losing his/her post? So the separation is the only alternative. The LTTE knows this very much. That is why they say No singhalese leaders or public will accept for peaceful solution for tamils in Srilanka.

  • David Blacker

    SK, I actually thought you were a well-meaning but ignorant writer until your last post, which clearly shows that in reality you’ve got an agenda and are not at all interested in debate or discussion, never mind a solution. You fall back on hackneyed Tiger rhetoric whenever you are presented with counter-arguments to which you have no credible aanswer.

    “Cunning politician Ranil Wickremesinghe attempted to hoodwink the Tamils and the LTTE leadership through peace talks. While he was speaking peace, he and his party men were the ones who split the Tamil Tigers, for example Karuna of Batticaloa. UNP leadership gave shelter in Sinhala areas to Karuna and his friends.”

    This is a good joke. The reason Karuna split (and I admit that the DMI encouraged him) was because the LTTE leadership was unable to retain control over the NE Tamils (civil and military) once there was no GoSL “gonibilla” to frighten them with. Making war requires no maturity (though tellingly, victory demands it), but governing a nation requires it. The LTTE doesn’t have this. It is crippled in many ways and its ability lies only in the field of terror. So when confronted with peace, and the approach of the Tamil aspiration (of equal rights), the Tigers feared that they would no longer be consequential to the NE Tamils.

    And please provide evidence of the UNP sheltering Karuna. Even IF they had, why shouldn’t they? The LTTE is NOT the sole representative of the NE Tamils, and therefore we should encourage pluralism in the NE, and give refuge to those that the LTTE wishes to murder (as we have done in the past). This in no way detracts from the UNP’s desire for peace, which the LTTE never reciprocated.

    “But one should remember that Ranil government was busy setting up new camps in the North and East.”

    Utter rubbish, and I know it’s a waste of time asking you for evidence of this (because you haven’t provided any for your earlier lies). The UNP shut down more mllitary bases than they set up, while the LTTE was busy expanding their military complexes south of th of Trinco, and this was partly the reason for Sinhalese dissatisfaction with the GoSL.

    “Ranil gave helicopter rides for the LTTE cadres because he wanted to hoodwink the international community. By doing so, he thought he could receive the US $ 4.5 billion aid from the international donors.”

    Pathetic, SK. You’re now desperately clutching at straws. Ranil had the fullest support of the IC with the signing of the CFA and the proposing of the PTOMs. I doubt that providing Tigerrs with taxi rides would have added to his international credibility.

    “Can you please ask your leadership to change the present Constitution before entering into genuine talks with the LTTE leadership? ”

    I thought you were here to discuss realism, not rhetoric and pipe dreams, yet you fall back on silly slogans when confronted with reality. Maybe if the LTTE lays down its arms and starts abiding by the CFA, the Sinhalese population will be ripe for constitutional change. It’s not going to happen when we’re at war. If the LTTE had allowed Ranil to continue his peace efforts, we might very well have had a federal system by now. Of course, the LTTE wouldn’t necessarily have power in the NE. The Tigers have betrayed the NE Tamils by sacrificing their lives and well being in order to retain power. As I said in my first response, the LTTE hunger has swallowed the Tamil starving.

    “Talking of adopting federalism is a ploy of the Sri Lankan leaders to hoodwink the international community and the peace-loving Tamils.”

    Another broad generalization with nothing to back it. Ranil is the only “leader” to have offered federalism; so please explain to me how this was a hoodwinking of the IC and the Tamils. What scheming underhand plan did he have to recapture the NE, that he was willing to risk his political career for this pretence of federalism?

    “The rigid Constitution of Sri Lanka does not favour minorities whatsoever.”

    While that is true, it is also a rigid attitude on your own part. Other minorities, such as the Burghers, Malays, and Moors have managed to peacefully coexist without sacrificing our language or our culture. Because we focused on what is important, we have equality with the Sinhalese; while the Tamils focused on equality itself. This also springs from a Tamil racism which is at least as equal as the Sinhalese brand. I have no doubt that if the Tamils were the majority, they’d be fighting the Liberation Lions of Sinhala Lanka. If therre has to be peace, there has to be compromise. The UNP made those compromises with the CFA and PTOMs, but had that action thrown in their faces by the LTTE who continued its terrorism. Now the latter is faced with an uncompromising SLFP-led alliance and a millitary that’s beating the LTTE on the battlefield. It’s upto the Tamils to decide whether they will sit back and wait for this GoSL to shoot itself in the foot by calling for constitutional change and federalism (and for pigs to fly) or start demanding that the LTTE compromise, even at this late stage.

    “The majority people need to vote in order to change the constitution. That does not seem will happen in the near future.”

    Not as long as the LTTE continues its aggression.

    “You should educate the Sinhala general public that the Tamils have grievances, and they can be met through amending the present Constitution.”

    The Sinhalese public is quite aware that the Tamils have grievances; but they think (arguably) that the GoSL has done its best to rectify those issues, but that the LTTE’s uncompromising stance on a separate state makes no amount of concessions useful as long as the LTTE refuses anything short of a separate state.

    “No federal solution is possible in srilankan constituition”

    Pasupathy, there are many models of devolution that would give the same benefits of federalism, and there are also many models of federalism itself; it is obtuse to say it is impossible without first deciding on the model. Are you aware that (off the top of my head) the US, Canada, and Germany all have federal systems that are quite different to each other? The UK, while not technically federal, also has a system of governing England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland that seems to satisfy those respective peoples. It doesn’t have to be called federalism to give the benefits.

    “So all peace talks even the GOSL and LTTE accepted a federal set up,will fail without changing the constituition.”

    You’re trying to go from A to Z without going through the intervening alphabet, and that’s a bit childish. You can’t change a constitution while the state is being attacked. There has to be a fairly stable truce or ceasefire, followed by confidence-building measures from BOTH sides, a pacification of the respective populations, interim administrations, and many other steps before you can get to the Z of a constitutional change. Throughout the UNP’s post-CFA tenure, the LTTE did its utost to destabilise and hinder the process by constantly breaking the CFA and carrying out acts of murder and terrorism. It’s no point whining now that it’s all gone pear-shaped and the LTTE’s getting its backside kicked.

    “That is why they say No singhalese leaders or public will accept for peaceful solution for tamils in Srilanka.”

    Welll, you’ll never know til you try. The Tamils’ best opportunity for gaining their legitimate aspirations was under Ranil’s watch, but instead the LTTE squandered it in their bid to retain power over the NE Tamils. Now it’s too late, and you must hope that the Tigers can beat the SL armed forces, because this GoSL will not stop until they have broken the LTTE.

    So while my heart is with the Tamil people, I can only speed the day that their power-hungry “sole reppresantative” is destroyed.

  • http://childoftwentyfive.blogsome.com N

    “Cunning politician Ranil Wickremesinghe attempted to hoodwink the Tamils and the LTTE leadership through peace talks.” – I think that sentence speaks for itself in terms of the rationality of the author.

  • suntzu

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LTTE_Black_Tiger

    David Blacker…you said there were no Black Tiger Units! Well check out this link, and if your still not convinced take a look at the pictures of the 330 Black Tigers that have died in various actions!

    ps: the pictures are on the same page. A Cause Untrue? A War Unwinable?

  • Melvin Ally

    Sanjana,

    I think it is appropriate that Groundviews filter articles which amount to mere propaganda rather than being based on facts if it is to retain its credibility. Articles such as these are a distortion of reality and if the above readers had not taken the time to confront the author with his inaccuracies, then other readers will have been coaxed to believing that what was written was in fact reality – courtesy Groundviews.

    I would suggest that anyone being given the right to post articles on Groundviews meet some required standards or are black-listed if the article, as above, is not backed by evidence or constructive debate. On the other hand, the author may post an article without evidence but should expressly state that it is his/her OPINION – which nobody would take away from him/her.

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Dear Melvin,

    The point is that readers DID take the time to confront the author with his inaccuracies as they saw it. I don’t think this site’s readers are fools and like with any other content on the web, they read what’s in here in a critical light. I doubt that anyone here can be “coaxed” into believing anything – especially in light of the commentary that this post and others have generated on the site!

    What is more, the entire point about comments on a blog is precisely to contest that which is posted. There is not a single post in here with comments closed off. As Editor, I only ensure that content falls into the submissions guidelines enumerated on this site – as readers, it’s up to you to agree with or hotly contest that which is posted, either on this site or on your own blogs and websites.

    SH

  • Kbob

    ‘N’, firstly I would like to thank you for your very simple yet accurate response to Satheesan in the post above. Very clever.

    Satheesan,
    I am sorry my friend but what you say sounds no different to the garbage propaganda that comes out of the mouth of the LTTE. Let me dissect your response:
    “Ranil gave helicopter rides for the LTTE cadres because he wanted to hoodwink the international community.”
    Catch-22, this is the whole problem with you. No matter what the government does, you find some reason to hold it against them. If the government did not provide helicopter rides, you would have said that they were not sincere about peace talks. No matter what happens, you will find an excuse to turn it around.

    “ Can you please ask your leadership to change the present Constitution before entering into genuine talks with the LTTE leadership?”
    This is what we attempted tirelessly to do under the UNP government. The UNP offered federalism (the maximum level of power devolution)! Yet the LTTE chose to reject this offer and instead find some pathetic excuse to reject peace talks. This was a rare golden opportunity, but it was wasted SOLELY due to the acts of the LTTE. And now you blame the southern polity for the mess we are in under Rajapakse??

    “Talking of adopting federalism is a ploy of the Sri Lankan leaders to hoodwink the international community and the peace-loving Tamils.”
    Here we go again…everything is a ‘hoodwink’ for you isn’t it?? No matter what the government does, it is labeled by you as an selfish attempt to trick Tamils. Even if the government offered Eelam, you would say it is an attempt to ‘hoodwink’ the Tamils!

    “The rigid Constitution of Sri Lanka does not favour minorities whatsoever.”
    Agreed, which is why governments that favour constitutional change must be encouraged…not boycotted at elections. Please tell this to you LTTE leadership.

    The least you could do at this stage is to get your LTTE-proxy TNA to support the moderate sinhala politicians that actually strive to promote negotiated settlements to the conflict. Instead the TNA/LTTE choose to reject everything that is put on the table without offering any alternative but Eelam. Tamil extremists and Sinhala extremists are two sides of the same coin.

    I am sorry to say, Satheesan, that the credibility and legitimacy you did seem to portray in your first article has progressively eroded through subsequent postings by you. Your message no longer is substantiated by educated foundations, but instead sounds no different to LTTE propaganda.

  • David Blacker

    “David Blacker…you said there were no Black Tiger Units! Well check out this link, and if your still not convinced take a look at the pictures of the 330 Black Tigers that have died in various actions!”

    Dear “Sun Tzu”, I do hope you have better reference sources than Wikipedia, which can be edited by the public. I myself have edited the SL Army page because it contained errors. So the site cannot be taken as definitive.

    While Wikipedia uses the word “unit”, it does not provide any further info, such as unit names, designations, or makeup.

    There are many serious pieces written on the Black Tigers which documents their structure. I can recommend “Dying to Kill” by Arjuna Gunawardene. I myself researched the subject quite intensely for my novel.

    At no point have I denied the existence of BTs or the fact that hundreds have been killed on missions. So Wikipedia adds nothing to the discussion.

    Just to reiterate, the Black Tigers are set up very similarly to the US Army Rangers in the mid-’60s, and our present-day LRRPs. The US had a Ranger training programme for which volunteers werre accepted, but had no formal Ranger units. Ranger graduates were returned to their parent units to act as ‘leavening’ for the Army. During the Vietnam War, US Army divisions formed informal LRRP units for strategic deep recce, and most (though not all) of the LRRP troops were Ranger-qualified. It was only in the late-’60s that the US DoD formed the Rangers into a unit — the 75th Rangers. The SL Army LRRPs are also an informal cobbled-together ‘unit’ drawing its troops mostly (but not exclusively) from the Special Forces. This contrasts with the US and SL Special Forces, which are formal units, with battalion, regimental, and other structures.

    The Black Tigers that were used on the A’pura raid, for instance, would not have been from an LTTE unit (examples of Tiger units are the Imran Pandiyan, Charles Anthony, Jeyanathan, etc), but would have been BT-qualified Tigers selected for the mission and given op-specific training.

    I do hope this clears up your misconceptions, Sun tzu.

  • David Blacker

    Sorry, the last para should read:

    The Black Tigers that were used on the A’pura raid, for instance, would not have been from a BLACK TIGER unit (examples of Tiger units are the Imran Pandiyan, Charles Anthony, Jeyanathan, etc), but would have been BT-qualified Tigers selected FROM THEIR REGULAR PARENT UNITS for the mission and given op-specific training.

  • Sham

    News Flash: I was not visited by a pink elephant
    November 16, 2007 at 8:34 pm · Categories: Colombo, Peace and Conflict, English, Media, Politics | by Nishan

    Dear sanjan

    i am writing this to you with the hope of clarifying a issue based on the above article

    1. i have tried to comment on the above article 3 times but all 3 times , they have not got posted.
    2. your contact link from the web page doesnt seem to work (on the right hand side of the home page, just below the island design)
    3. how does one become a authour of a piece, the above heading seems to have been cut and pasted from a blog or web page. i am wondering if anyone can do it? and if so , as to how to put a article i want.

    thanks

    sham

  • http://www.cpalanka.org groundviews

    Sham,

    I responded to you via email before realising that the one you use is false. The first two comments were not published because they were not in line with this site’s submission guidelines. Here is the text of my email response:

    “Both comments have not been in line with the guidelines for the site here – http://www.groundviews.org/submission-guidelines. One on Britain and the other on the nature of articles published on Groundviews were accusatory and inflammatory, contributing nothing to the original post and were based on a blinkered appreciation of this site, its content and the manner in which authors contribute to it. Personal and vicious diatribes are not tolerated on here. On the other hand, a comment of yours that has engaged with the content is published here – http://www.groundviews.org/2007/11/16/a-requiem-by-karuna-the-death-of-sub-regionalism/#comment-26160

    The Contact Link works just fine.

    Submissions from those unknown to me with no history of posts in line with the site’s submission guidelines need to send their articles to me. Over time, they receive their own account to post as they feel fit, though I retain editorial oversight over all content posted on this site.

    Re the article in question, the author got in touch with me with the article which I thought warranted publication on this site with some edits from the original. This he did and it was subsequently posted, with in fact a pointer to the original article. Not every post of this author is published here and the content herein is not a carbon copy of his original post.

    Further queries can be sent to me via the comments form with a genuine email address for me to respond to.

    Best,

    Sanjana

  • Sandman

    When the death of Tamilselvan was announced over the media, there were firecrackers lit by the general tamil population even in the Vanni areas. There must have been something more than a smiling face to cause such rejoicing among a population that the grinning monster forcibly claimed to ‘solely’ represent by himself and a group of semi-literate murderers.

    Chaos lies in the living of such creatures. Their elimination cleanses humanity of a festering sore.

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