Jaffna, Peace and Conflict

Prabakaran’s Role in Tamil National Struggle: Interview with Shanthi Sachithanandan

Prominent Tamil civil society activist Shanthi Sachithanandan shares some views on Prabakaran’s role in the Tamil National struggle, how to bring about a just and durable solution to Sri Lanka’s violence and the implementation of the 13th Amendment.

For a Sinhala version of the interview, click here and visit the Vikalpa YouTube Channel for more short videos on peace, war, governance and democracy in Sri Lanka.

  • Shanthi Satchithanathan is aboslutely correct. All the other militant groups were jumping away from the political mandate of Tamil Eelam, which was the final resolution by the people of North East, after the rebel state of Sri Lanka was formed in 1972 from the former British dominion of Ceylon.

    Because the “jumping militants and politicians” wanted to enjoy city life, hold position as cabinet ministers, trips overseas, liked salutes by the police and greedily looked at money and power, they succumbed to the attempts by various governments of Sri Lanka to divert Tamils from their mandate for Tamil Eelam.

    It was one man and his freedom movement that kept the torch of freedom for Tamil Eelam burning. That was LTTE and prabaharan.

    Tamils will always have great respect for this stand and will honour them when we have free Tamil Eelam as our country. The world too will one day greatly honour him for that stand.

  • cyberviews

    Being singleminded in purpose is a admirable quality of a leader, but to be morally blinded by that singlemindedness results in fanaticism. Fanaticism eventually leads to terrorism. All successful freedom struggles were led by sinlgle minded people of strong moral and ideological purpose, even if they were impelled to engage in armed struggle to further their cause. Examples in the modern era would be, Nelson Mandela and Xanan Gusmao and maybe even Jerry Admas. To detonate a claymore mine affixed to a passenger bus filled with men women and children, bringing death to many of them, is unjustifiable on any count and a ciritique of such behaviour is necessary, both on moral grounds also on the gournds that it does not serve the Tamil cause. Also, it is important to understand that these people from the remotest parts of the country, such as Kebetigollawa or Buttala, belong to a maginalised impoverished communities. It is the same political system that discriminates against the Tamils on the grounds of their ethninicity, that discriminates against these people on the grounds of thier powerlessness. They too are victims. To victimise them further through genocidal terror is a double whammy. Listening to SS I do not hear this critique of Prabhkaran’s leadership and role. Instead I only hear a veiled admiration for the heroic side. I am not for a moment belittling the suffering of the Tamil people whose rghts are being trampled upon and who are subject to the indignities of chauvinism and to the terror of a majoritarian state. But two wrongs do not make a right and the Ghandhian adage that an “eye for an eye” approach to conflict resolution will leave many blind, rings true and shrillily to at that.

    I find the position taken by a group like UTHR, the correct moral stance, expected of the tamil intelligenstia – do not compromise the rights of the Tamil people, but be prepared to take to task all those who are resposible for these rights being undermined-be it the LTTE, the EPDP, the Karuna/Pillayan group or the State. I am in agreement with SS’s assertions regarding the need for a political solution but in seeking one, even if armed struggle is a last resort, terrorism and genocide is not. Period.

  • JM

    I’ve got several observations on this video, and I must say that I’m utterly disgusted by Shanthi Sachithanandan’s unreserved admiration for the LTTE particularly in light of yesterday’s carnage in Buttala.

    As both Jos David and Cyberviews have pointed out, LTTE and Prabhakaran (and LTTE is Prabhakaran) is intrinsically unable to compromise nor tolerate dissent. Prabhakaran is said to have ordered his faithful to shoot him if he ever does compromise. Needless to say, such a nature makes it impossible to negotiate a peaceful solution with both the man and his organisation.

    Now, Shanthi represents the so called Tamil civil society, or what is left of it after the LTTE has killed everyone who wouldn’t toe their line. The NGO run by her, Viluthu, no doubt receives large amounts of foreign funding and it works with many other local and international NGOs including Sanjana’s CPA. I absolutely fail to see the positive contribution she would make by admiring not just Prabhakaran, but also his ruthless uncompromising nature as a virtue. How could this possibly help peace-building or conflict transformation? Essentially, Tamil people are being told by this so called Tamil civil society – and therefore indirectly by the international community that funds these organisations – not to compromise, to admire a mass murderer as a demigod, and to view communalism, revenge and ethnic hatred as noble things.

    Compare this with the Sinhala civil society, which I suspect includes the interviewer in the video, who seem to think even mentioning Sinhala rights or crimes against the Sinhalese as akin to chauvinism and something to be ashamed of.

  • SinhalaLondoner

    No, I don’t think SS is in any way aproving the bombings at all. When she talks about Prabakaran she is giving an honest expression of the general Tamil sentiments towards him, even as the vast majority despize the bombings and human rights abuses committed by the LTTE, they are undoubtedly in awe of his singlemindedness in the Tamil struggle. She is being honest and is giving an objective opinion which aren’t neccesarily hers.

    The important point SS makes is that Prabhakaran is not root of the problem nor the cause of the breakdown of the CFA. She is referring to the 13th Amendment and human rights abuses that now outweigh those perpetrated by Sinhala nationalists. Give credit to the lady – she is calling on the failure to implement the 13th Amendment and I see no fault in what she is saying at all.

  • nandasena

    What do you call when a Government through its security forces, kills its own citizens by aerial bombardment, shelling, bombing, abductions, murders, arrests and detention without reasons, dissapearance after arrests, rapes? If this is not STATE TERRORISM, what is it? If Pirapakaran is a terrorist, all the Sri Lankan governments since the mid 1950s are guilty of STATE TERRORISM.

    The world has not forgotten the several pogroms against the Tamils since the mid 50s. 1958,1977,1983, too numerous to mention. Welikade prison massacre, Bindunuwewa massace, burning of the public library in Jaffna, so numerous incidents to mention. JM may have conveniently forgotton or pretnd not to remember, or pretend not to have happened, but that does not mean it will go away!!

  • I am deeply moved by the frank views of madam Shanti but more deply distressed by the heartlessness of most responses/comments. Using a couple of terrorist attacks that obviouly no one relishes reflects the deep Buddhist-Sinhala/Tamil divide. When the mobs, the armed forces especially the air forces indiscriminately hurt cruelly the Tamils expressions of anger are rarely heard. Not every Tamil is an LTTE but surprisingly almost every Tamil would now wholeheartedly agree with the Shanti’s comments about Pirabahan’s dedication and incorruptibility with which he is leading the resistance. Even those who some time back were muted in their praise now openly express admiration for Pirabaharan. The Rajapakses have woken up the Tamils on the need to close ranks and rally behind to save the SL Tamils from extinction. Even the civil works of the diaspora to redress the destruction in the Tamil areas were obstructed by the those very persons who question the civility of persons like Shanti. We need organisations to mobilise the flow of relief funds to the suffering Tamils in the North and East.

  • Veedhur

    Whew…both Rajapakse and Prabhakaran seem to bring the worst out of Tamils and Sinhalese respectively.

    Don’t we have individuals who could bring the best out of the other?

  • SinhalaLondoner

    a mistake in my post: human rights abuses perpetrated by Sinhala nationalists now outweigh those by the LTTE.

    V.S Subramaniam, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Now I just hope all Sinhalese not just moderate ones will be woken up to the corruption and destruction that the Rajapakses have caused since they sorry day they arrived in power.

  • Rohana A

    It is sad to hear a person such as SS talking as if she is not aware of the facts of this whole issue. She is probably pretending to be not aware that this problem started in the 1930s under British. If it started then how can anyone blame the so called “Sinhala Buddhist racists” regimes of SL? This is a another factor that most of the “racist” Tamils trying to hide from the world and also from their own ‘Kith and Kin; for obvious reasons. If this was said their argument of an ethnic problem in Sri Lanka will never be taken seriously by anyone let alone blinded followers of VP.

    Second important factor that she tries to hide is the reason behind not implementing the 13 th amendment. I would like to ask her who stop it by refusing the 13th amendment during JR’s govt? She may have a short memory but most of the people have a better memory. During that time JR had 2/3 majority and could have easily implemented the 13th amendment but her Hero VP opposed it and went back to war. So please SS [edited out].

    Then she has the guts to state that SL govt didnot put forward any proposes to the Tamil people. Now this can be answered by clarifying few questions first.

    1. Who are the Tamil people she and many others talk about a govt should put forward the proposals? Is it VP or someone else? Is VP being accepted by all Tamils in SL and representing every Tamil? Are there any proofs to that or is it the view of few people? Is VP democratically ready to ask all the Tamils in SL if he can represent them all?

    2. What are the specific grievances of the Tamil people that other communities of Sri Lanka is not grieving about?

    3. Why is so called Tamil people’s saviour VP allowed to suffocate innocent Tamils of the North including children, women and the old?

    4. How is that VP and his croonies’ children were educated overseas whilst poor innocent Tamil children have to serve their “Slave Master”?

    5. Which part of the Tamils are you talking about needs this resolution due to the discrimination by the SInhala Buddhists? Is it the Colmobo Tamils, Kandy Tamils, Up-country Tamils, Northern Tamils, Eastern Tamils or Tamils in the rest of the country?

    6. How many Sinhalese people are living in the North now and why are they not living in the North? Do you call it discrimination or genocide?

    7. How many GOSL and how many times the GOSL has tried to negotiate some settlement in the last 30 years? Who destroyed these talks and walked out?

    8. Can you guarantee that Prabhakaran was willing to settle and ready for democracy at any stage in the past or future?

    9. Is VP willing to go to India to face the courts like any other human in the world to put his side of the story to the charges against him?

    10. Is he willing to face all the charges against him by many Sri Lankans including Tamil and Muslims in the future?

    11. How much have you personally suffered from this so called discrimination? Have you, any of your family members, or any other Tamil person were denied free education, free health, buying property or business in any part of the country, to express your views openly and freely, to live in any part of the country, to join a political party, to marry anyone you wish as you wish etc, etc.

    12. Who pays for the education, and health of the Tamils in Wanni now? Who employs the teachers, doctors, govt officials of Wanni now? Who provides the electricity and petrol to Wanni now. How many Tamils are paying the govt for their services enjoyed? Who collects the money and the taxes? What happens to all the taxes collected for various reasons by LTTE?

    So now I would like to ask this lady and other genuine Tamil people who wants to help the Tamil people suffering in the North mainly in Wanni by being proactive to resolve the issue peacefully. Has any of your children or family members gone through what those kids are going through in Wanni? Let us focus on getting these people out of their missery. Don’t you think they have have suffered enough? Don’t you think that they have suffered enough? Please have some sympathy towards your own Tamil mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters if not for the human kind.

    If not for this problem, the whole of Sri Lanka would have been advanced than even India. The reason I am saying this is by 1981, Sri Lanka was progressing economically faster than Japan and was the fastest growing economy in the whole of Asia. I know this because I studied Economics at Sussex University in England at the time.

    It is time now we give the GOSL another opportunity to implement what ever they can within the framework of United “One Sri Lanka” as it is very clear that neither the GOSL or the majority of the people of SL will not allow the country to be divided in whatever form it may be or called. People of SL are more vigilant now and they will never allow SL to be divided in what form or shape. So let us all accept the reality at least now rather than trying to “Fool” your Tamil people and the world as it will not do any good to anyone least the country.

    If we all get together with honest and good intentions, we can bring happiness to Sinhalese, Tamils and all Sri Lankans. That is what people with right mind should focus now and work towards.

    Our voice can defeat VP, corrupt GOSL officials, bring fairness to all and specifically to specific grievances of the Tamil people. Otherwise many more will die, injure, suffer and mentally scared for generations.

    I hope people will open their “eyes” and “hearts” now before it is too late for many.

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