THAMIL NATIONAL LIBERATION STRUGGLE AND  NATIONAL LEADER PRABHAKARAN

 

 

Chapter 4

 

Indo - Thamil Eelam War

 

The war  between LTTE   and IPKF  broke out on  October 10, 1987.   On October 11, Prabhakaran wrote a letter to  the Chief Minister of Thamil Nadu, M.G.Ramachandran  explaining  the circumstances that led to the break-out hostilities.  He wrote,

 

“As a consequence of  the unjust and tragic death of our commanders and fighters, violence erupted everywhere in Thamil   Eelam.   Racial riots broke here and there.  India had leveled   false accusations against us stating that we were   responsible   for the violence and we tried to break the agreement.  As a result,   a conspiracy was hatched in Colombo  between Indian Defense Minister Pant, Indian High Commissioner Dixit, and Indian Army Chief of Staff  Lt. Gen. Sunderji n one side and  President Jayawardene and National Security Minister Lalith Athulathmudali on the other side. J.R. Jayawardene had announced the banning of  LTTE and the nullification of the  general  amnesty given to  LTTE  cadres.   Indian Defence Minister Pant  declared that India had decided to take strong military action against the   LTTE.                    

 

Following such  belligerent threats and unilateral action, the IPKF launched a vicious military attack  on the LTTE fighters using tanks and   artillery.  On  the morning of October 10, 1987,  IPKF  entered the offices of two Newspapers in Jaffna (Eelamurasu and  Murasoli) and arrested all the workers.   They then  dynamited and blasted the machinery  and  equipment in those offices.  At noon, the Indian forces tried to break  out from Jaffna Fort into  Jaffna town.  When we  tried to check their advance, the Indian army fired back.   The LTTE in turn was compelled to return fire in  self-defence.

 

The Indian army  started shelling  residential areas   using  heavy artillery and tanks for hours together.  Their attacks    increased in intensity and frequency. Because of these indiscriminate attacks, not only the Tiger fighters but also the  civilians   are dying   in their  hundreds.  It was obvious the Indian Army  had orders from Delhi to exterminate the Tigers   even if  that meant  killing large number of  civilians. Surrounded on all sides by the Indian Army,  we are fighting   in self- defence.  We bear arms for a cause  so that it  is  nobler to die fighting rather than be captured alive and die in disgrace. “

 

The war went on with great intensity.  It took one long month for the Indian Army to capture Jaffna peninsula.  Prabhakaran himself took  command and led the fighting.

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Prabhakaran  finally decided that guerilla warfare is the best method to fight the Indian armed forces.   So he withdrew with his fighters into the jungles of Vanni in Thamil Eelam.

 

From the Vanni jungles the guerilla war continued.  There were heavy causalities on the Indian side.  Unable to confront the Tigers in battle, they turned their anger against the people and killed  innocent civilians. They killed several women after raping them.

 

While the war was in progress,  Prabhakaran wrote to Rajiv Gandhi  on 12/10/1987, 14/10/1987  and 13/01/1988. He   informed  him that if a cease-fire is declared  and  an  interim council  for Northeast is set up in  accordance with the promise made to him,  the LTTE  was prepared to hand over arms.  But Rajiv 

                                                                                                                                                                                                      LTTE Fighter 

Gandhi wanted to kill  Prabhakaran and then completely  exterminate the entire LTTE fighters  thus  putting an end to the goal of an independent Thamil Eelam.  So far from halting the war, he inducted more than 150,000   Indian soldiers into  Thamil areas to execute his plan. As a result  the war continued unabated.

 

Thamil Eelam National Leader

 

All the Thamil groups which took up arms to fight for the liberation of Thamil Eelam turned traitors to the Thamils by forsaking the ideal of   Thamil Eelam. They slavishly sold  their souls to the governments of India and Sri Lanka and played the role of paid mercenaries and Quislings.

 

But Prabhakaran was the only leader who boldly  stood  up against  Indian military aggression after  rallying around   the Thamil people of Eelam,  cutting across  caste, religion and   regional  barriers. While the whole world  stood aghast in wonder,  the tiny  Thamil Eelam army  fought the mighty Indian army like a ferocious Tiger. Even the Sinhalese people admired Prabhakaran  as a first rate military commander  who stood against  foreign invasion.   When the war was raging in full fury during   the middle part of 1988,  Prabhakaran came to be  hailed as the’ National Leader of Thamil Eelam’ by the  Thamil people in Thamil Eelam and  other parts of the world.  

 

Martyrdom of Mother Poopathy

 

When Thamil women unfolded the flag of revolt against the Indian invading army,   Mother Poopathy of Maddakkalappu  in South Thamil Eelam started a fast unto death  putting forward two demands:

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(1) Stop the war; and                                                                                                                                    

(2)  Start negotiations with the LTTE . 

 

But Premier Rajiv Gandhi who lauds Gandhian non-violent principles pooh-poohed her fast.   Mother Poopathy sacrificed her life and became a Martyr on April 19, 1988. Thamil Eelam National leader Prabhakaran issued a statement eulogizing her noble sacrifice.  He said:                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

Annai   PoopathyMemorial                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

"Among the Martyrs who  created history by sacrificing their precious lives in the cause of our sacred war of liberation of Thamil Eelam,  Mother Poopathy   secures an exalted  place. She who renounced  her life  as an ordinary   woman, a mother,  head of a family and desires  sacrificed her very life for the empowerment  of her people and the liberation of her race.  The  war of  non-violence   she launched against the tyranny of the Indian army had made the land of Gandhiji bow down its head  in  shame!  She did not die as an ordinary human being. Her supreme sacrifice  raises her as the symbolic awakening of the  motherhood of  Thamil Eelam." 

 

National Heroes Day (November 1987)

 

When Eelam war was raging with fury, every day  liberation fighters were laying  down their lives at the altar of Thamil Eelam liberation. On   November 27, 1989 from his dense jungle hideout,  Thamil Eelam   National Leader Prabhakaran  proclaimed  that “November 27” on which day the first liberation fighter attained martyrdom in the cause of  Thamil Eelam will be commemorated as “ National Heroes Day.” He said ,               

 

"Today is a very important day in the history of our liberation struggle.  We have proclaimed  this day as the National   Heroes Day  to  remember the 1307 martyrs  who sacrificed   their lives for the noble cause of  liberating  Thamil  Eelam. For the  first time we are  commemorating  National Heroes Day.  It is customary for   Remembrance Day to be  commemorated in  many countries in the world  in  memory of   soldiers who fought and died  for the liberation of their   motherland  and soldiers who died in battle  defending their countries'  freedom. PMavverar.jpg (34985 bytes)

You know that all these days  we have been commemorating days when individual fighters attained martyrdom.  But from   this year   onwards we have proclaimed  one particular  day of the year to remember and commemorate  the death of all the  heroes who attained    martyrdom.  Hence  we have declared November 27 as the National Heroes Day, the day our first LTTE fighter Shankar sacrificed his life  on the battle field.  So we have proclaimed this day as our National Heroes Day.

 

There is  a tradition  among our people. It is to give prominence  to those who hold  high positions and  those who are  wealthy. Likewise  in our  liberation struggle in order not to  separate the leaders and praise their   accomplishments   only,  we have taken a decision to  celebrate National  Heroes Day  with the objective of treating  every fighter on  an equal  footing.

                    Maveerar Cemetery

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So   by  commemorating all the fallen heroes on a specified day  not only we  treat  the leaders as well as the ordinary   fighters equally, we also commemorate jointly all the fighters   who laid down their lives.   Otherwise in course of time only  the leaders will be remembered and honoured  while the rest   will fade   

 

                                                                

into oblivion.   So to avoid giving prominence to a  selected few  and to remember all on the same day we decided to celebrate this National Heroes Day.    As far as a Nation is concerned, if  it  does not honour its heroes, intellectuals and women it will become barbaric and   destroy itself.  We have in our country  great  intellectuals.  When compared with other countries our Thamil women are highly  venerated in our society. At the same time there was a paucity for  brave warriors.  But today on this  National  Heroes Day   we have accomplished a sea change in our society. Yes  we  have started to honour our heroes as well.                                            

                                                 

Talks Between Sri Lankan Government and       LTTE

 

Premadasa  who assumed office as the new President in 1988, repeatedly invited the LTTE to come for talks. Since  Prabhakaran  too  was keen on ending  Indian aggression in Thamil homeland, he decided  to accept the invitation of Premadasa.  Due to the  clever  diplomatic move of our leader  National Leader Prabhakaran,  relationship between India and Sri Lanka turned sour and  became hostile. President Premadasa publicly called the Indian army to quit Sri Lanka.

 

The situation became a thorough  embarrassment   for the Indian army which came on the invitation of the Sri Lankan government to enforce so called peace.  The  Indian army withdrew from Thamil Eelam in disgrace in  March, 1990 after tasting defeat and humiliation at the hands of the LTTE.

 

The   military challenge posed by the regional super power was defeated by the LTTE due to Prabhakaran’s  superior military strategy and skillful political maneuvering. The areas vacated by the IPKF swiftly fell into the hands of  the LTTE.  The mercenary force   created by the Indian  army under the style ‘ Thamil National Army’ (TNA) disintegrated and fled  unable to  face  lightning strikes   launched by battle-hardened  and committed LTTE  fighters.  A majority  surrendered to the LTTE with  their arms.  Northeastern Provincial council, the  illegitimate child of the equally illegitimate Indo- Ceylon Accord  collapsed like nine pins.

 

Thamil Eelam  National Leader Prabhakaran emerged  from his hide-out in Vanni. Talks between Sri Lankan Government and LTTE continued.  At the end  due to the  treachery and  the deception  resorted  to by  Sinhalese chauvinism,  the peace talks broke off  abruptly without finding a meaningful  solution to  the ethnic conflict.

   

Chapter 5

 

Thamil Eelam War II

 

LTTE negotiators  on several occasions repeatedly  brought to the notice of the Sri Lankan government the excesses committed by the Sinhalese police and the army. But  the government remained cold to these excesses and this caused relationship between the LTTE and government  to become contentious. On  June 10,1990 an encounter  took place between the Sinhalese police and the LTTE over an incident of violation of human rights committed against a Muslim resident by the Sinhalese police at Kalmunai.  This encounter  ended  in a  full-scale war  between the police and the LTTE.

 

Although  Thamil Eelam National Leader Prabhakaran took  immediate  steps  to bring the war to an end,  the LTTE    committed to safeguard the Thamil people and their homeland was left with no alternative  but to confront  the war unleashed   by chauvinistic Sri Lankan government and its Sinhala  army. Both were   hell-bent on a genocidal war against the Thamils to rob them of their traditional homeland.   

 

On September 1, 1991,  National Leader Prabhakaran met newspaper reporters of Thamil Eelam and explained to them about the prevailing political and military situation.  He said,

 

“Many of the army camps which existed when Thamil Eelam war II started, have  now ceased to exist.  Because army camps at places like Kokkavil  and Mankulam were destroyed by our LTTE forces, a greater part of  Vanni region had  come under our control.  With the destruction of Jaffna Fort, Jaffna town too has been liberated.

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During the fight at Elephant Pass, for the first time we engaged the Sinhala army face to face in a conventional warfare.   We fought with a numerically superior  army and checked its  advance for a very long period. If we get panicky over heavy casualties suffered  at Elephant Pass, we can never hope to continue this war.   

We should consider our losses as steps for  future growth.   During the 43 days battle ( 10/7/1991 to 23/8/199 ) we lost 564 fighters.  But on the enemy  side  large number of Sinhalese soldiers died during the  prolonged fighting.  

Prabhakaran with his lieutenants       

When compared with  enemy losses,  ours cannot be described as  excessive.  People who are undergoing untold sufferings will naturally feel alarmed  as to what next.   However, they must rally around in large numbers. Losses suffered in battle must be replenished then and there. People must fully identify themselves with us and understand  our hardships and sufferings.

We are always ready to hold  talks with the Sri Lankan government without  any preconditions.  But the government   should create  the necessary  environment  for holding such talks.

In  the island of Ceylon,   the LTTE is only fighting against the Sri Lankan government forces.  As such I feel there is no necessity for the Indian government to get worried about the LTTE.  The hill country Thamils  should realize that all their woes are caused by the continued betrayal by their leaders.  The liberation struggle of Thamil Eelam cannot  be destroyed  by   any kind of weapons or by any  bombings.”

 

On September 4, 1991 BBC  London correspondent Chris Morris had an interview with the Thamil National Leader Prabhakaran.   During this interview Prabhakaran said,

 

“First and foremost the Sinhalese people must recognize  the basic principles underlying  the national problem of the people of   Thamil Eelam.  They are, recognition of the Thamil  Homeland,  recognition that Thamil people constitute a Nation and the  Thamil people  right to self-determination.  Only on the basis   of this recognition can peace and amity prevail between the two   races.   We never force our young men to join the fighting force.  The truth is because of the oppression of the Thamil people  through  state terrorism and its impact on our society, our youths  are voluntarily  joining the LTTE.   Many parents bring   their children, both boys and girls,  to join our fighting forces at our public meetings.  We are providing such young children  schooling facilities and give them training in various vocations.  We never send   young children to the battlefront.''

 

LTTE Women Organization

 

In the beginning of 1984 for the first time those girls who gave  indirect support to the LTTE  started to contribute their share in the liberation war spearheaded by the LTTE. With the approval of  Thamil Eelam National Leader Prabhakaran they were given  training in the use of fire-arms.  When the Indo-Thamil Eelam war broke-out on October 10,  1987  they directly   joined  the war front. Up to now they are fighting bravely accomplishing  many feats of  valour.

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In a message given  by the National Leader Prabhakaran related to the Women Wing,  he said,  

 

''Women constitute a majority among the Thamil population.   If they continue to lead a servile life, it will  be  difficult to transform our freedom struggle into  a national liberation movement.   Realizing this fact our movement  gave top priority for women’s liberation.  Women were politicised  and  made to  join our fighting forces. By this we  ushered  in a gigantic   revolution  among women in Thamil society.  A revolution that never took place in the annals of Thamil history has taken place   in Thamil Eelam.  Women  consigned to the kitchen from  time   Women Tigers   immemorial   now bear  arms and don  army uniform.   Today the women folk which remained  dormant  for  a long time. Now it  has awakened fully and stands  as an important arm of  a  mighty revolutionary force.   Our women fighters by their brave  accomplishments   have proved to the world  that  they are in no way inferior to men fighters in bravery, sacrifice, and  thirst for freedom.”                               

 

LTTE Students Organization

 

The future of a country always depends on its younger generation.  Therefore, it is imperative that this generation must be brought up as intelligent, efficient and responsible citizens.  To meet that goal,  it is very important that we give them   proper education.   Towards this end  LTTE Students Organization was formed on the orders of our leader.

 

When we trace the growth of the armed struggle, one can observe very clearly the indispensable part played by the surrounding sea of Thamil Eelam.  Knowing this historical importance,  our leader Prabhakaran formed  the ‘Sea   Tigers’ as  a division of  the  LTTE in 1984.   Today the

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Sea  Tigers have grown in  strength as to   pose a challenge to  the Sri Lankan navy.  On March 01, 1992  Women Wing of the Sea Tigers  was formed.  Women Wing’s  feats of chivalry are on par with that of their male counter-part.  

 

Thamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO)

 

Thamil Rehabilitation Organization (TRO) was formed in 1985.  Regarding its necessity  Leader Prabhakaran  said,

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Sea Tigers

People of Thamil Eelam are facing two battle fronts.  One front is  the   liberation of our  homeland from the invading  Sinhalese armed forces. The other front  is   the  production of food to counter  the tyrannical  economic blockade of the Sinhalese chauvinistic government. Just as the heart regulates the blood circulation and helps the body to conquer diseases, so also the TRO should increase food   production  which is the  life-blood  and  foundation for the final victory of the liberation of Thamil people. ”

 

The growth of  TRO in Thamil Eelam has helped many families to be self-employed  with out  depending on relief assistance.  

 

Thamil Eelam Economic Development Organization (TEEDOR)

 

On May 6, 1994, our leader after honoring  and giving awards to  the best farmers of Thamil Eelam  said,

 

“Thamil Eelam is a fertile land gifted with many natural resources.   It possess  water,  land  and human resource potential  enough to achieve  economic self-sufficiency and development.  Nature’s gift of  resources  must be identified  and put to maximum use.   Production must be increased to meet the economic needs of the people by careful planning and research.  Agriculture and industry are the pivotal  bases for economic development and growth.  As such we should   concentrate our energies on developing agriculture and industry.  To achieve this goal ‘Thamil Eelam Economic Development Organization (TEEDOR)  has  launched several productive projects.  All these activities must be intensified further  so that an independent  Thamil Eelam will    not have to depend on other countries, but stand on its own legs economically.''

 

Black Tigers – Men of Steel  

 

Black Tigers  are  men of steel in their determination  to achieve their  goal of Thamil Eelam.   In a statement National Leader Prabhakaran issued to mark  the occasion of  Black Tigers’ Day on July 5, 1993, he said,

 

“The era of Black Tigers began with Capt. Miller.  A fighting force imbued with the spirit of  supreme self-sacrifice unheard  and unseen in the annals of history  anywhere in the  world before came into existence in Thamil Eelam..  These Black Tigers are  of miracle birth and a class by themselves. They are of gentle heart  but with iron will.  Their love of humanity is  so great  they  sacrifice their dear lives  so that others may live.  In the words   ‘Black Tiger’ , black stands for iron will and unshakable resolve.   Looked at another angle, it  can  also signify darkness which symbolizes secretiveness and mystery.   Hence, the word  Black Tiger can have  many meanings and   many interpretations.  It is this secretiveness which is the prime factor for their decisive operational victories.  This is an era of Black Tigers.  During this era our liberation struggle  will assume  new dimensions.  These warriors who have conquered death  will create new  history and light the torch for the dawn of freedom of our future generations.”

 

March 8 Women's’  Day

 

On Mach 8, 1992, on the occasion of the World Women’s Day in Prabhakaran issued a statement. In that statement he  said,

 

“When we talk about the freedom of women we refer to their freedom from political oppression and economic exploitation.  So  our struggle   for  the liberation  of  women is advanced  on multi-dimensional fronts viz. national liberation, societal liberation, and economic liberation.  This is not a struggle against  oppression of men over women, but  an intellectual fight against ignorance about  male chauvinism.    As such this ideological struggle must have the aim of changing the hearts of men.''  

 

Thamil Eelam Military Academy

 

In a message to commemorate the  first anniversary of the Thamil Eelam Military Academy sent on September 19, 1991 Prabhakaran said The Thamil Eelam Military Academy is one of my dreams.  A  new and younger generation of youths should blossom out as the future  architects of my country. This new and revolutionary generation should consist of persons who are  able, intelligent, patriotic, brave, sincere and  modesty. Only this generation should emerge as the architects, administrators and rulers of our country.”

 

Chencholai Kids Club

 

On instructions from  leader Prabhakaran,  the  Chencholai Kids club was inaugurated on October 23 1991  to take care of  girls who had lost their parents and/or  guardians. On this occasion, he sent a message  which read,

 

“Under the environment of  a historic war of liberation we are planting these young seeds  at Chencholai campus. It is my desire that these young seeds must take deep roots and grow up one day as an intellectual reservoir of  Thamil Eelam   I convey my greetings for this revolutionary   venture to thrive well and prosper.”  

 

The Thamil Eelam Police Force (TAP)

 

On November 1991, Prabhakaran officially inaugurated the Thamil Eelam Police Force committed  to serve the security interests of the Thamil people. The TEPF came under the direct control and supervision of leader Prabhakaran. Outlining  the activities of the TEPF  Prabhakaran said,

 

Members of the police force will always be men of  exemplary conduct,   honesty, fairness,  and discipline.   They will serve  as people’s servants with a high sense of commitment to ensure  social justice and  social progress.   They will move with people with a spirit of love and  dignity in tune with our culture.  They will be completely free of all anti-social crimes and serve the people with

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                  Thamil Eelam Police                                                      

patriotic feeling, all the 24 hours of the day.  The aim of our police force is not to catch the criminals and bring them to courts to be tried, but mainly to work with all their might to prevent crimes from being committed in the first place.  Thereby they will work towards the goal of building up a crime-free social order in Thamil Eelam.''                                                                                                                          Inspecting Police Recruits Parade

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Note - It is important here to remember that the Thamil Eelam Police force started their training on June 1, the day when the Sinhalese police set fire to Jaffna Public Library and burnt it down to ashes. 

 

LTTE Art and Cultural Organization

 

Our language, art and culture have taken deep root in our soil of Thamil Eelam for a very long period in the history of the Thamils.  Our arts and cultural heritage are the very soul of our motherland. 

                                                                                           

 Keeping this basic truth in mind the first “Muththamizh Celebration” was conducted by the LTTE art and cultural organization on July 15, 1992.   In a statement sent to this celebration Thamil national leader Prabhakaran said this,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         “Today it has become imperative to transform our liberation struggle into an people’s struggle in which the entire people of Thamil Eelam should take an active part and from this very broad base we have to build up our national resistance movement which has become an unavoidable and indispensable historic necessity.  To fulfill this enormous objective, the creative activities of our art and literary men should play the most important part.” 

 

Broadcasting Service –Voice of Tigers

 

On the first  anniversary of the Voice  Tigers Radio,  Thamil National Leader Prabhakaran sent his felicitations in which he stated,

 

“A  vicious and malicious propaganda campaign has been unleashed   against us by our enemy, the  Sinhalese government,  and its mercenary  Thamil treacherous   groups.   Hence, the Voice of Tigers  should stand up and act as the voice of truth  in countering  enemy’s   false  ideological war. The Voice of Tigers should resound  as the war drum of  “Sathiya Yuththam” (“War of Truth”).   

 

Education Development Board of Thamil Eelam

 

On February 13, 1993, Thamil Eelam National Leader Prabhakaran issued a statement congratulating the students who came out successful in the Thamil Eelam General Certificate of Education Examination conducted by the Educational Development Board of Thamil Eelam.  In this statement he said,

 

“Education is very essential for the growth of humanity and social development.  In fact it is the root of human development.  We never showed any discrimination  between those who opted to dedicate themselves for the social emancipation of our community and the right of  students to carry on their education. Both  are indispensable for the progress and smooth functioning of our society.  Today  the combination of education and war  have  become a historic necessity. As much as war is an armour  for education, so is education a shield for war. Today  in Thamil Eelam, education remains in a state of neglect.  

 

The Sri Lankan government is willfully neglecting the education of the children of Thamil Eelam.  Our students have to study  against heavy odds, hardships and insurmountable difficulties.  In spite of all the hardships and obstruction when our students  prepare for their examinations  their examination are not conducted  as scheduled. When examinations are held, the Sri Lankan armed forces disturb and  disrupt the peace.  Only after surmounting such difficulties that our  students  sit  for their examinations.  Under these circumstances our Thamil Eelam educational development board has successfully conducted the Thamil Eelam General Certificate of Education Examination which is equivalent to the G.C.E O/L examination successfully.  I commend this effort with all my heart and also at  the same time  congratulate all those students who passed this examination.'' 

 

The   Law College of Thamil Eelam

 

In his address  at the Law College of Thamil Eelam on  January 25, 1993 Thamil Eelam National Leader Prabhakaran said,

 

We are now moving forward to our goal of an independent state of Thamil Eelam.  We must lay the  foundation for such a state from now itself.  Because judiciary is the most important arm of  the state administrative machinery we are giving the best training to you, our  liberation fighters. In  the administration of justice,  the role of judiciary is important. Only those who possess integrity, morality, compassion and self-discipline   should man the judiciary.   In the beginning we created “Reconciliation Boards”,   but you are aware that it committed many mistakes. The judgments given by this body came for criticism and adverse comments  by the people.   Judgments were not rendered in an un-selfish, impartial and fair manner. A justice system consisting of  members  drawn from the  LTTE,  which has a reputation for discipline and order, will be  the foundation  for a strong government and a highly disciplined society. Only when social justice is nurtured properly  can  society rise to new heights.''

 

Swearing in ceremony of  Judges and Lawyers of  Thamil Eelam

 

The following is the address by  Thamil Eelam National Leader Prabhakaran at  the swearing in   ceremony of the judges and lawyers of Thamil Eelam Justice Department on August 19, 1993.  He said,

 

“Our people believe fully that if liberation fighters took responsibility for  the administration of justice system,  they will  dispense justice  with fairness.    People think so because they know fully well that their precious lives for their noble cause of   the liberation of their motherland.  Therefore, the people are really happy.  At this memorable occasion when you, the  liberation fighters are taking oaths to shoulder this sacred responsibility,  I am   confident that you will discharge your duties     with integrity and impartiality to fulfill the great expectation of the people.  It is said that what you learn  is  like a  handful of   sand   and what is not learnt is as large as the universe.  As such try to learn much from worldly experience.  You will receive   sound   knowledge of men and matters only through personal experience.  Try to understand the aspirations of our people,  remove all  contradictions and mete out justice to them with partially from a completely neutral stand.  Of course you will  meet with  difficulties when you discharge your duties justly and honestly.  But never severed from the path of truth and   justice for which  have iron determination and strong willpower together with extreme boldness.” 

 

 Taking of Oath by Judges and Lawyers of the Justice Department of Thamil Eelam

 

Thamil Eelam National Leader Prabhakaran  spoke at the swearing –in-  ceremony of the Judges and lawyers of Thamil Eelam Justice Department which took place on August 19, 1993.   He  said,

 

“Our people fully expect that when our liberation fighters assume the responsibilities of  judges and lawyers, they will weigh the issues and  mete out justice dispassionately and fairly.  People know fully well that our fighters are those who are prepared to lay down their lives for a noble cause.  Therefore,  people feel happy when you assume  responsibility  for the justice system.

 

I am therefore confident  that you will discharge your duties with integrity and responsibility  in fulfilling the great expectation of  our  people.  It is said that what we learn is just  a handful of sand and what is not learnt is as large as the universe. On this basis you should strive to learn  from your worldly experience.  Only through personal  experience you can acquire  full knowledge.     You should consider it your duty to understand the feelings of our people,  resolve their  contradictions and dispense  justice to them. There will be always difficulties when you discharge your duties justly and honestly.  But never waver  from the path of truth and justice when you perform your duties. For that you should possess an iron will and courage.''  

 

Kantharuban Arivucholai

 

On November 13, 1993, National Leader Prabhakaran inaugurated Kantharuban Arivucholai. In his inaugural address he said, Mother Thamil, who is the common mother for all of us, has embraced all these children.  All our fighters are the brothers of these children.  They have become an inseparable part of the LTTE family. Going beyond  individual family,  beyond  its circle of relations these children will grow up as members of a much wider family. They  will in future  become the architects of our country. The  environment in which they are growing up love of their land and affection for the people will take deep root in their minds.  Endowed with such noble qualities they will receive good education and become the  builders of our nation ready to be of service to our people. On one hand  we are fighting to redeem our land of Thamil Eelam and on the other hand  we are engaged in social programmes  and projects  to uplift  children. But for all these schemes  to  succeed,  the society must wholeheartedly co-operate with us.”                                          Prabhakaran with  children                                                                                                                         

 

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Note - Kaantharuban was a youngster who voluntarily  joined the movement after he lost his parents and had no one to support him.  Later he sought permission from the LTTE leader and became a Black Tiger. He  attained martyrdom. Kantharuban had one last wish which he confided to our leader thus “I was an orphan, but you took me into the fold of the LTTE family and made me somebody. Same way  please take  all the orphans of Thamil Eelam and redeem them from their wretched state of being orphans.”  It is to  fulfill his wishes  that the institution was named  Kantharuban Arivucholai.

  

Permanent and Lasting Peace in the Island

 

On September 13, 1994, Mrs. Ananthi,   reporter from B.B.C. Thamil Service  interviewed  Thamil National Leader Prabhakaran. Responding to a question put to him, he answered thus, 

“We like the talks to take place in an environment of  peace  and friendly atmosphere.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

It is the responsibility of the Sri Lankan government to  create such a conducive situation.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Ordinary Sinhalese masses are  not in favour of this war.  We know very well that they are yearning for peace.  The results of the recent elections clearly prove this reality.  We too want  peace.  We want permanent peace to prevail so that all people could live a normal life.  

 

Today war is the greatest stimulating block  The  war must be brought to an end. It is those people who started the war against the Thamils who should come forward to stop the war.  The Sinhala Nation should realize that  the Thamil problem can never be solved through military means. Only by fulfilling the political aspirations  of the Thamil people can a solution be  found to end the   racial conflict. This can be  achieved through peaceful means.  This should  be made known to the Sinhalese chauvinistic politicians and  militarists  by the Sinhalese people themselves.  We love the Sinhalese people and we are not their enemies.  The racial chauvinistic elements are responsible for the contradictions that arose between   the Thamils and the Sinhalese people. The Sinhalese people themselves must identify the chauvinist elements among themselves and ostracize them. Only then  will  permanent peace  prevail in  the island of Ceylon.''


 

MEMORANDUM

ON THE LEGAL STATUS OF THE WAR IN SRI LANKA .
AND THE LIBERATION TIGERS OF TAMIL EELAM

 

Karen Parker
Attorney at Law
San Francisco California 94118
(415) 668-2752
voice and telefax

CONTENTS

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT ........................                                                      3

THERE IS A WAR IN SRI LANKA ...................                                                   5

A. What is War. .......................................                                                                5

B. Terrorism. .........................................                                                                   6

C. War in Sri Lanka. ..................................                                                               7

LTTE ENTITLED TO COMBATANT STATUS ...........................                         12

THE SRI LANKA-TAMIL WAR IS A WAR OF
NATIONAL LIBERATION IN DEFENSE OF THE
PRINCIPLE OF SELF-DETERMINATION .............................                             13

HUMANITARIAN LAW RELATING TO THE CONDUCT OF WAR ............    20

HUMANITARIAN LAW RELATING TO VICTIMS OF THE WAR .............       26

BREACHES OF THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR
IN THE SRI LANKA -TAMIL WAR .................................                                      28

SUPPORT FOR LTTE MAY NOT BE CRIMINALIZED ....................                  33

CONCERNS FOR THE UNITED STATES ..............................                               33

 

SUMMARY OF ARGUMENT

This Memorandum addresses why the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam may not be included as a terrorist organization under the terms of P.L. 104-132. Rather, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are a combat force in a war -- the Sri Lanka - Tamil War. To include the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in a list of terrorist organizations has no basis in law and fact.

This Memorandum is not meant to be an exhaustive account of the Sri Lanka - Tamil War. The facts chosen are meant to be illustrative of the fact that there is a war and that in the course of the war there have been violations of the rules of war by both sides. For each example given many others could be made.

There is armed conflict (war) in Sri Lanka between the armed forces of the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The conflict is governed by humanitarian law: the Hague Conventions, the Geneva Conventions (including all provisions of the Protocols Additional considered customary law) and all treaty-based and customary laws of armed conflict. A fundamental rule of humanitarian law is that combatants in a war are entitled to combatant status. The LTTE meet all factual and legal tests for combatant status under humanitarian law rules. Laws relating to terrorism do not apply to combatants in wars or to acts carried out in the course of war. Because the LTTE has combatant status, the LTTE cannot be considered a terrorist organization nor can its acts in the course of war be treated as terrorist. Therefore it is legally incorrect to include the LTTE in a list of terrorist organizations under the terms of P.L. 104- 132.

While the war in Sri Lanka could be characterized as a civil war requiring neutrality from third party states such as the United States, this author is convinced that the Tamil people meet all criteria for the right to self-determination. Accordingly, the war in Sri Lanka is a war of national liberation in defense of the right to self-determination. Under international law rules applicable to wars of national liberation in defense of the right to self-determination the United States is legally required to side with the Tamil people and the LTTE. Regardless of whether the war is characterized a civil war or war of national liberation the LTTE still have combatant status and cannot be considered a terrorist organization under P.L. 104-132.

The laws and customs of war do not exonerate all acts undertaken in wartime. There are numerous violations of the laws and customs of war taking place in the Sri Lanka - Tamil war both by the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. The existence of violations of the laws and customs of war on either side do not reduce the parties to the conflict to terrorists and the war itself to terrorism: the armed forces of both the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE maintain their combatant status. Individual violators, however, could charged with breaches of the laws and customs of war.

THERE IS A WAR IN SRI LANKA

A. What is War.

Humanitarian law -- also referred to as the laws and customs of war, the law of armed conflict or jus in bello -- applies when there is armed conflict or war. One of the threshold questions addressed by the law of armed conflict is whether or not a particular situation is a war. Under the currently applicable laws and customs of war, war is action carried out by military forces utilizing the methods and materiel of war to defeat by military means the military forces of the opponent or enemy. Simply put, if it looks like a war it probably is a war.

Military action can involve conventional warfare or guerrilla or other form of warfare. The laws and customs of war do not prohibit any particular form of military action. All modern wars have been fought with a variety of military tactics.

Because the purpose of war is to defeat the enemy military forces, the weaponry of war may vary from situation to situation. Contemporary wars have seen the use of spears and poison blow guns as well as napalm bombs and bullets containing depleted uranium.

It is not necessary for the parties to a conflict to formally declare war for there to be a war: a war exists and the laws and customs of war are applicable when objectively armed conflict is taking place. For example, the United States carried out lengthy military actions in Vietnam without ever having declared war. Even so, the laws and customs of war were applicable to both sides in that conflict.

Many countries at war either refrain from a formal declaration of war or try to deny a war is even taking place at all to try to avoid application of humanitarian law to their conflicts. One method governments use to attempt to avoid evaluation of their military actions under humanitarian law rules is to characterize the conflict as "terrorism" and "counter- terrorism" rather than war. Governments mis-characterize armed conflict for a variety of reasons, all present in the Sri Lanka - Tamil war: (1) the government's own armed forces have violated the rules of war and the government wants to avoid international censure; (2) the opposition forces have destroyed military targets that are insured and the government wishes the insured to receive insurance indemnification for the damage; (3) the government needs foreign aid (war is expensive) and many foreign donors such as the United States restrict foreign aid during war or only allow funds to combat "terrorism". Regardless of the political or economic motives for evoking "terrorism" when a war is taking place, humanitarian law automatically applies and the "terrorism" label is incorrect.

B. Terrorism.

There is no universally accepted international definition of terrorism. Even so, it is easy to distinguish terrorism from war. For example, a group involved in terrorism generally is quite small, does not have any semblance of military command, and does not use the typical weapons or military tactics of war. The groups often function secretly -- in fact the clandestine nature of these groups makes them so hard to control. Most of these groups engage exclusively in random attacks on civilians or on civilian structures using bombs or small firearms or by kidnapping people for ransom. Members of these groups are not entitled to combatant status because their actions and the response by law enforcement actions of governments are not sufficient to qualify as a war.

While there may be a stated goal, groups involved in activities usually labeled "terrorist" seek to achieve that goal by intimidating the opposition into agreement rather than through military achievement. In part this may be because military victory is impossible given the group's small size and limited military training. On the other hand, lack of military activity may reflect on the typical goals of these groups: while some try to overturn governments or seize political power or governance, many groups seek to protect their "system" of monetary gain (usually illegal): the "drug" business, extortion rings and the like. Military action against such groups makes no sense at all - - these groups have no military bases, zones of territorial control, or the like. While occasionally, some groups do have "camps" and carry out "military training", they are not engaged in combat in any sense of the meaning of combat. Wishful thinking, week-end "war games" or playing at war and future plans are not sufficient to qualify as combat. Armed attacks on civilians rather than concerted military actions against the opponent's armed forces are likewise not combat. If on the other hand large-scale, mutually fought military actions over a wide territory are carried out against a so-called "terrorist" group it is far more than likely that the group is not "terrorist" at all but rather a military force in a war. Under these circumstances the "terrorist" is really a combatant.

C. War in Sri Lanka.

Applying the criteria for armed conflict to Sri Lanka, it is patently obvious that there is a war in Sri Lanka and that it is between the forces of the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE. The government military forces utilize the methods and materiel of war to carry out military actions to defeat by military means the military forces of its enemy the LTTE. On its part, the LTTE carries out military actions against the military forces and military targets of the government of Sri Lanka. There is nothing random or sporadic about this war, nor is there anything clandestine about the LTTE -- the LTTE is very public. The LTTE does not play week-end war games but fights militarily on military battlefields day in and day out.

The war has existed for at least thirteen years or since the period immediately following the massacre of Tamils in Colombo in 1983. The existence of armed conflict was recognized by Sri Lankan government officials in this early period. For example, in 1986 the Finance Minister questioned how elections urged by Prime Minister Bandaranaike could take place when the country was "engulfed in a civil war." The international community also recognized the obvious: in 1987, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights passed a resolution calling on the parties to the conflict "to respect fully the universally accepted rules of humanitarian law" which, of course, only apply in wartime. The United States State Department has also characterized the situation in Sri Lanka as war.

The early years of the war were characterized by Tamil military control of much of the Tamil areas, the emergence of Vellupillai Prabhakaran as the leader of the LTTE, and the gradual supremacy of the LTTE among other Tamil groups in the armed conflict. A most important event of the early years was the failure of the 1985 Thimpu Negotiations. These talks, arranged by India, were to put in place an agreed cease fire and a program for a political rather than military solution to the Tamil national question. The talks took place in Thimpu, Bhutan from 8 July to 17 August 1985, breaking off abruptly when the Tamil delegation walked out in protest of the continued military actions against Tamil civilians, especially Sri Lankan army attacks on Vavuniya and other villages in the north.

In 1987 India became a party in the Sri Lanka-Tamil War several months after the July 1987 signing of the Indo-Sri Lanka Agreement to Establish Peace and Normalcy in Sri Lanka (Indo-Sri Lanka Accord or the Accord). The Accord was to "resolv[e] the ethnic problem of Sri Lanka", to enable India to protect itself from "foreign military and intelligence personnel" and to prevent Trincomalee harbor or other Sri Lankan ports from being used by foreign powers for military purposes. Shortly after signing the Accord, India sent the Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to Tamil areas. Although under the terms of the Accord the purpose of the Indian military presence was to protect the Tamil people and to carry out a surrender of arms by the Tamil military groups, the Indian forces began fighting the LTTE in October 1987. Between October 1987 and the final withdrawal of Indian forces in 1990 India's military incursion in Sri Lanka produced thousands of refugees of the war and civilian casualties.

At the height of the IPKF - LTTE war, Indian troops were said to number nearly 100,000. Major General Harkirat Singh, the divisional commander of Indian forces, explaining why the Indian Forces were unable to either win or capture the LTTE leadership, reported that the LTTE fought against their tanks at close range with Chinese rocket-propelled grenade launchers. General Singh also reported: "They even attacked tanks with burning jerry cans full of petrol."

Since the withdrawal of Indian forces, both the Sri Lankan Army and Navy have been almost continually engaged in military operations against the LTTE. The government forces use tanks, airplanes, armoured vehicles, military weapons, gun boats and other military materiel. Major military campaigns are given code names. For instance, three recent large-scale military operations against Jaffna in the north were code-named Leap Forward, Riviresa (Sunshine) I and Riviresa II. In the same period of time, the LTTE has been involved with almost continual army and navy operations against the government's forces.

In the past several years, both sides have had some military victories. The Riviresa campaign in the Fall of 1995 by the Sri Lankan army pushed into Jaffna and the LTTE retreated to other areas under their control. Most of the civilian population also fled, and it is only recently that some have begun to return. Even so, at time of this writing, more than 300,000 Tamils from the Jaffna area are still displaced and the war is still raging.

On the LTTE side, in July 1996 the LTTE successfully overran and seized the entire Mullaitivu Army Camp, killing about 1200 Sri Lankan troops. The LTTE are thought to have sustained about 250 casualties, including a large number of women combat troops. The LTTE were able to capture the entire arsenal at the camp. This victory was followed by an ambush of a Sri Lankan army unit at Thenmaratchi (July 28, 1996) in which the LTTE also captured many arms and ammunition.

The LTTE also has naval troops, and has been able to carry out successful operations against the Sri Lankan navy. For example, in April and October 1996, the LTTE "Sea Tigers" sunk five vessels of the Sri Lankan navy in Trincomalee. The "Sea Tigers" have also sunk government vessels in Jaffna, and have been able to carry out periodic blockades.

Since the beginning of the war, the military advantage of each side has ebbed and flowed. What is apparent is that there is a war and that neither side has won. At time of writing (December 1996) there appears to be a another of a series of military standoffs.

LTTE ENTITLED TO COMBATANT STATUS

A fundamental principle of humanitarian law is that combatants in a war are entitled to combatant status. While this principle has been one of customary international law for centuries, it also find expressions in treaty-based humanitarian law. For example, Article One of the Hague Regulations grants the rights of war to members of armies. Members of militia and volunteer corps are also entitled to the rights of war if they meet certain conditions: they must be under responsible command, wear some visible emblem to distinguish them form civilians, carry arms opens and conduct operations in conformity with the rules of war. Even civilians are entitled to engage in combat when they spontaneously take up arms on the approach of the enemy. Because there is a war in Sri Lanka between the government forces and the LTTE, the LTTE have combatant status and the right to engage in combat. This status is inconsistent with a label of "terrorist" -- a terrorist does not have combatant status or the right to engage in combat.
 
THE SRI LANKA-TAMIL WAR IS A WAR OF NATIONAL LIBERATION IN DEFENSE OF THE PRINCIPLE OF SELF-DETERMINATION

Modern humanitarian law applies to all types of war: international wars, civil wars and wars of national liberation. Each is governed by different provisions in humanitarian law, although there are basic principles applicable to all armed conflicts.

A war is an international war when military action or hostilities take place between two or more separate States. Typically, the military forces of one country engage in military actions against another country by invading another country, but international rules can also apply when a country defends another country from military action from a third state. In all circumstances, the treaty-based and customary international law relating to international war applies to these conflicts. In international wars, the international community must be neutral if the war is equally the fault of the parties. If one party is clearly the aggressor, the international community must condemn the aggression.

A war is a civil war when there is armed conflict taking place in one State between government armed forces and opposition armed forces or groups who have identifiable and responsible military commanders, who control enough territory to carry out a significant level of armed conflict, who distinguish themselves from the civilian population by means of distinct uniforms or other readily identifiable physical features and who have the means to comply with humanitarian law obligations relating to civil wars. Neither police actions against civilian demonstrators nor isolated attacks by armed persons against civilian or government targets qualify as armed conflict. In civil wars, the international community must be neutral, as a civil war is an inherently internal affair. The Sri Lanka - Tamil war could be viewed as a civil war, in which case all humanitarian law relating to civil wars would apply. However, for reasons set out below, this author is convinced that the Sri Lanka - Tamil war is a war of national liberation in defense of the principle of self-determination.

A war is a war of national liberation when a group having a claim to self-determination carries out military actions against the occupying state, which can be a colonial or alien power or a racist regime. Self-determination is the collective right of a people to freely determine their own political status and to pursue economic, social and cultural development. People claiming self-determination must show a history of independence or self-rule in an identifiable territory, a distinct culture, and a will and capability to regain self-governance.

In wars of national liberation in the exercise of the right to self-determination or against racist regimes, the international community is required to side with the people with the right to self-determination or fighting against racist regimes. This is because of the peremptory (jus cogens) nature of the principle of self-determination and the international prohibition against racism. Because the right to self- determination is jus cogens, the duty of the international community to uphold it is an obligation erga omnes. Ian Brownlie reinforces the erga omnes obligation to observe the principle of self-determination in his opinion that armed defenders of self-determination have a special combatant status.

The Tamil claim to self-determination is one of the strongest in the contemporary international scene. The three main elements of a claim to self-determination -- historic self- governance in an identifiable territory, a distinct culture and a national will and capacity to govern -- are all present in the Tamil case.

The Tamil people have a centuries-old tradition of independence on the island of Ceylon, broken only by colonial powers. Early mention of a distinct Tamil kingdom and culture exists in the 6th century B.C. in the great Indian epics Mahabharata and Ramayana. A series of Tamil kings founded the ancient capital Anuradhapura and ruled until 101 B.C. when the Tamil Ellaran was defeated by a Sinhalese prince. This capital was retaken by the Tamils and other Indian invaders in the ninth century. By 1214 A.D. however, the Tamils held power in the kingdom of Jaffna, extending into current Tamil lands in the North and East. A 1789 map of the area by the cartographer Du Peron clearly indicates the territorial divisions of the two kingdoms.

The colonial period began in the early sixteenth century when the Portuguese captured the Sinhalese kingdom in the south of Ceylon. The Tamil kingdom remained free until 1621, more than 100 years later when the Portuguese captured the Tamil king Sankili. The Portuguese were defeated by the Dutch in 1658, and the Dutch soon began to import Tamils from south India as slaves and textile workers. The British replaced the Dutch in 1796, who by 1833 governed both Tamil and Sinhala kingdoms under unitary colonial rule.

The first British colonial secretary, Sir Hugo Cleghorn, recognized not only that the Tamil and Sinhalese kingdoms were politically separate, he also attested to their profound cultural, linguistic and religious differences. In his now-famous Minute he wrote:

Two different nations, from the very ancient period, have divided between them the possession of the island: the Sinhalese inhabiting the interior in its Southern and Western parts from the river Wallouve to that of Chillaw, and the Malabars [Tamils] who posses the Northern and Eastern Districts. These two nations differ entirely in their religions, language and manners.

Cleghorn and other subsequent British administrators were acutely aware that the Tamil people are predominately Hindu and the Sinhala people predominately Buddhist. It is self-evident that Tamil culture, based on Hinduism, would be dramatically different from Sinhala culture, based on Buddhism. The Tamil language is also significantly different from the Sinhala language, although they are both derived from ancient Indian languages.

The third element of self-determination -- national will and capacity to govern -- is also exceptionally strong in the Tamil case. Not only are the LTTE themselves evidence of a willingness to defend the right to self-determination with the use of force but the vast majority of Tamil civilians, whether in Sri Lanka or abroad, also show an exceptionally strong national will that has endured for the many long years of the war and indeed throughout the colonial period and post colonial period. Even those relatively few Tamils who do not strongly support the LTTE do not deny their insistence on some form of self-governance, whether in association with the Sinhalese or as a separate nation.

The immediate post-colonial period saw the rise of the highly-regarded Tamil politicians such as G.G. Ponnambalam, founder of the Ceylon Tamil Congress (1944) and S.J.V. Chelvanayagam, founder of the Tamil Federal Party (1947). Chelvanayagam was able to secure agreements with two prime ministers to address the growing Tamil grievances in the early post-colonial period, but these pacts were completely violated by the Sinhala governments. The Tamil United Front was formed by the three leading Tamil politicians -- Ponnambalam, Chelvanayagam and Thondaman -- and Tamil youth and student organizations. Running on a separatist plank, Chelvanayagam won a huge majority in a 1975 election. As cited above, the historic Pannakam meeting in May 1976 resulted in the Vaddukoddai Resolution calling for a separate Tamil state. In the 1977 general elections, the TULF ran on a platform of Tamil "sovereignty in its homeland on the basis of self- determination" and won 18 out of the available 19 seats. The LTTE was formed from a TULF youth group, and took its symbol from the tiger symbol of the historic Tamil kingdom.

The large number of Tamil organizations in Sri Lanka and abroad speaks to this national Tamil will. Each year of the war has seen more and more organization among the Tamil people in Sri Lanka and in the Diaspora. The Tamil question is debated and urged in countless community forums and in international conferences, many of which are organized by the Tamils themselves. There are Tamil politicians from a variety of political parties, all of whom attest to a goal of at least significant devolution of power in Sri Lanka to afford the Tamil people full expression of their cultural aspirations as a people. The leading Tamil religious leaders also support Tamil sovereignty. For example, in an impassioned speech at a major peace conference in Australia, The Rev. Dr. S.J. Emmanuel, Vicar General of the Diocese of Jaffna stated:

I am standing here as a man of God in service to a suffering mankind. I have hope in the goodness of God and men. From amidst the deafening sounds of thousands of bombs falling on our soil and consuming sacred lives, I cry out with Moses of old, "Let my people go from this slavery to freedom."

Even prominent Sinhalese leaders attest to the strength of the Tamil will for self-governance. For example, Mr. Adrian Wijemanne writes:

In Sri Lanka that stage is set for a long-drawn-out guerrilla war, the total impoverishment of both nations, the demise of civil government among the Sinhala people and the eventual establishment of the State of Eelam. The best efforts of the Sinhala state can only postpone this sequence of events -- they cannot avert the final outcome.

About the capacity to self-govern there can be no doubt. The Tamil people have a long political history, and there are a variety of Tamil political parties with great experience and highly developed platforms and programs. Many leading Tamils have had high offices in former Sinhalese governments, and while they are now mainly in exile, they are able and ready to serve in a Tamil government. The LTTE has maintained a civilian authority in the areas under their control since the beginning of the war

The Tamil people also have a claim to self-determination based on the racism and persistent violations of their human rights carried out by the succession of Sinhala-dominated governments since the end of the colonial period.  (End)