WHILE rejecting Colombo’s claim of the killing of LTTE leader V Prabakaran and assuring his safety and well-being, LTTE’s International Relations Head S Pathmanathan on Tuesday accused Colombo of treachery in the killing of the political wing leaders B Nadesan and S Puleedevan.
Mr Pathmanathan said it is a crime against humanity that needs to be investigated. Meanwhile, informed sources told TamilNet that what happened in the early hours of Monday was a well-planned massacre of several unarmed civil officers of the LTTE with the aim of annihilating its political structure.
At the orders of a ‘top defence figure,’ an international arrangement involving ICRC, European diplomats and a Colombo government diplomat to arrange safe exit for the civil officers was defied, the sources said.
Political observers compared Monday’s massacre with the prison massacre of Tamil liberation fighters in 1983 and events leading to the collective death of 12 senior leaders and cadres of the LTTE in 1987.
Tamil circles also commented that any surrender of the LTTE as pressed by the International Community would have seen a similar fate to its cadres, had it been heeded.
The clarifications from Mr Pathmanathan follow.
‘I wish to inform the Global Tamil community, distressed witnessing the final events of the war that our beloved leader Velupillai Prabakaran is alive and safe. He will continue to lead the quest for dignity and freedom for the Tamil people.
‘The President and the Government of Sri Lanka needing to carry on and gloat in the planned Victory Celebrations on Tuesday, had their military establishment deliberately come up with the story detailing the demise of the leader of the LTTE. We categorically reject this and wish to inform the Tamil community to be vigilant and to exercise maximum restraint whilst grieving for the loss of Tamil civilian lives in the barbaric conduct of the final chapters of this battle.
‘The Tamil freedom struggle is a just cause and will not be quashed by the events of the last 24 hours. Truth and justice will always prevail.’
‘We wish to bring to the notice of the International Community the events of the last 24 hours in the so-called safety zone in the war in Sri Lanka.
‘Subsequent to our announcement that the LTTE had decided to ‘silence the guns’ in view of the unbearable civilian carnage at the hands of the Sri Lankan military and the heavy weaponry donated to it by third parties, we were informed by some member states of the International Community that arrangements had been made with the Sri Lankan military for discussions on an orderly end to the war.
‘We were instructed to make contact with the 58th Division of the Sri Lankan forces in the war zone, unarmed and carrying white flags.
‘Head of our Political Wing, Mr B Nadesan and Mr Puleedevan then proceeded to do so. They were unarmed and carrying white flags and were called on by the Officers of the 58th Division to come forward for discussions. When they complied they were both shot and killed.
‘We vehemently condemn this action. The International Community needs to take this into account in its deliberations about charges of “Crimes against Humanity” against the members of the Sri Lanka Government and its military establishment. This act is even more unpalatable when one takes into account that the LTTE released as an act of goodwill, seven Sri Lankan Prisoners of War the day before totally unharmed.
‘We appeal to the International Community to act now to ensure the safety and basic needs of the displaced people who are suffering in the prison camps of the Sri Lankan military. The onus is now on the International Community to see that further war crimes and crimes against humanity are not committed on Tamils by the Sri Lankan state and to force the Sri Lankan state to yield to the political aspirations of the Tamil people.’
Earlier in an exclusive interview with TamilNet, Selvarasa Pathmanathan, the head of LTTE’s international relations, told TamilNet on Monday that it was very unfortunate that many of its senior members and leaders have either given up their lives or have been treacherously killed.
TamilNet: ‘The Sri Lankan Government has declared the war won and has claimed that Mr Prabakaran, the leader of LTTE has been killed. Has Colombo really won the war?’
Pathmanathan: ‘The Sri Lankan government makes unverified claims. I am only able to ascertain that our National Leader is alive and well. It is true that many of our senior members and leaders have either given up their lives or been treacherously killed. This is very unfortunate, but it is important to realise that our struggle will continue until the aspirations of our people are realised.
‘The Sri Lankan Government may have declared a military victory. But it does not realise that it is a hollow victory. It has completely lost the trust and confidence of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.’
TamilNet: ‘In light of the current situation, what is the future of the LTTE?’
Pathmanathan: ‘In several earlier statements we have clearly expressed the willingness of our movement to explore a solution to the Tamil national question given that credible political means are established enabling us to seek a political solution in lieu of a military strategy. We took this position in order to save the lives of our people.
‘We could not continue to allow the Sri Lankan military nor the government to use the military option as an excuse to bomb and shell killing scores of people. But despite our plea to the International Community to intervene with Sri Lanka and halt its offensive, Colombo decided to disregard and pursue its military push to what it viewed as the end.
‘The information we received indicates that even cadres and leaders who had surrendered carrying white flags were mercilessly killed without any regards for international conventions. The International Community too had refused to take a strong enough stand to convince the Sri Lankan Government to take a more conciliatory option.
‘We are extremely saddened by the turn of events. However, the future of Tamils in Sri Lanka and the Tamil national question still lingers on with no solution. The absence of a political process to address this and the need for a defensive mechanism to safeguard the Tamils is what drove the LTTE to take up arms in the first place. Today, an answer to this question is nowhere nearer.
‘The LTTE was mandated by the people to represent them and take forward the Tamil national question. At this juncture, we would like to reiterate that our movement is always prepared to consider viable alternative means to take the cause forward in accordance with the mandate of our people.
‘We are also sure that Tamils living all over the world will unite as one people to contribute to this.’
TamilNet: When you talk of a political process, the prevailing mood exhibited in Colombo and other parts of Sri Lanka displays hardly any sensitivity to the aspirations of the Tamil people. How do you view this?’
Pathmanathan: The trend and sentiments that are engulfing the Sinhala people in Sri Lanka is unfortunate. If Tamils are considered as equal citizens of the country, they will need to be treated with dignity and respect. But, the government and its military encourage the raw display of chauvinism. This only divides the communities further and does not allow for enmities to be resolved. The treatment displayed is as though the Tamils have been vanquished. This dehumanises our people and deepens the ethnic divide. We are afraid this will not pave the way for a harmonious co-existence in the island.’
TamilNet: ‘There are forces that talk of ‘post-LTTE’ and ‘post-conflict’ scenario attempting to regard the LTTE as a spent force at this point in time. How is the LTTE going to mobilise the people behind it and give them the necessary leadership?’
Pathmanathan: ‘Our national problem is viewed as Asia’s longest-running conflict and our leadership is aware that it needs to adapt to emerging realities while evolving strategies. You will note that the Tamil Diaspora has rallied behind the LTTE and behind the homeland Tamils, showing their strong support world over. The latest carnage in Vanni has only strengthened the unity of the Tamils and our leadership around the world and made them more resolved in their pursuit for justice.
‘We are also aware that this cannot be achieved alone. We fully appreciate the role every Tamil person and Tamil political party has to play, both in the island of Sri Lanka and abroad, to ensure that the welfare and future of Tamils living in the island is foremost. We are willing to work with all parties to achieve this, including the Tamil parties functioning in India as well. We need to put the welfare of the Tamil people first.
‘Several Tamil parties in Sri Lanka once had taken up arms and fought for the same cause in pursuit of the Tamil national question. Fundamentally, we hope that they still honour these principles. At this juncture, we earnestly hope that they would come forward to work together to achieve this.’
TamilNet: ‘You mentioned that the International Community had failed the Tamil people. How do you propose to regain international credibility to take forward your struggle?’
Pathmanathan: ‘The International Community is fully aware of the discrimination and marginalisation the Tamils have faced since the Independence in 1948. They are not ignorant of this. We feel we can build a credible position with the International Community through political means.
‘We recognise the role of India as crucial in this respect. The Tamil people of Sri Lanka and the Tamils living in India share a common cultural and linguistic heritage. This binds us strongly not only with the Tamils in India but also with Tamils world over: in countries like South Africa, Malaysia, Mauritius, Singapore, Fiji and the Reunion not counting our own who have adopted the many nations of the world as theirs.
‘We have always considered interests of India and Tamil people lie on the same line and historically the Tamil people in the Island are true friends of the Indian nation. At this crucial time, we now urge India to take a just stand to ensure the safety, dignity and self-respect of Tamils in Sri Lanka. We need to act prudently at this point of time. We are fully aware that India has a key role to play geo-politically in our part of the world and we need to work very closely with them. The LTTE at this juncture is ready to work together with India to ensure the future of Tamils in the island of Sri Lanka.’