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Home> Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Velupillai Pirabaharan > Interview with Sunday Magazine, 1985

VELUPILLAI PIRABAHARAN

Interview with Sunday magazine, India : 29 September -5 October 1985  
" We are Prepared to Pay for Freedom With Our Lives "


Q: Why did you choose to go underground?

A: I did not leave with the intention of going under ground. I had to attend to some work in my country. I had to discuss certain matters relating to the peace talks with my lieutenants. I also had to assess for myself the situation and reaction in the Tamil areas. While I was there certain incidents took place (referring to the deportation of A. S. Balasingham, official spokes man of the LTTE) so I continued to remain there.

Q: What is the reaction of your lieutenants to the cease-fire?

A: The cease-fire is a drama. Under its guise, the Sri Lankan armed forces are continuing to perpetrate atrocities against our people, massacres are still going on, Tamils are still being driven out of their homes. If it is a true cease-fire, our lieutenants will be happy. We followed the cease fire in letter and spirit and stopped all our guerrilla operations. But the Sri Lankan armed forces continued to attack civilians, forcing us to retaliate. I find I have to handle the present situation very carefully. The cease-fire itself is a farce and I also have to handle my lieutenants, who know only too well that it is a drama where the Sri Lanka government is covertly going ahead with its genocide of the Tamils!

Q: Why did you choose to go under ground when Balasingham was de ported?

A: I could have come back immediately. But I wanted to express my resentment at the deportation order.

Q: You continued to remain inaccessible even when Rajiv Gandhi summoned the ENLF leaders. Don't you think your inaccessibility has strained relations between the government of India and you?

A: But I wished to convey my dissatisfaction also, as I strongly felt that the deportation order was unnecessary.

Q: Then what made you surface again ?

A: There were many reasons. First, because I was underground there were some negative forces, certain anti-liberation forces which in my absence were trying to portray us as dangerous terrorists who were opposed to the peace talks. Second, there was an attempt to isolate and single us out as hard-liners who wanted only a military solution. Rumours were being floated in the public and in some newspapers which started giving grossly exaggerated and distorted news about us, painting us as dangerous terrorists. Third, the Sri Lankan Government was exploiting my absence and blaming the LTTE for having killed the TULF ex-MPs.

Q: What do you hope will come out of your meeting with Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi?

A: We hope to explain our problem clearly to him. Among the issues we want to raise with him is the fact that Jayewardene is using the cease-fire as a front while he goes about systematically massacring the Tamils. We want to try and convince him that what is going on in Sri Lanka is genocide of a race. We want to give him details of what exactly is going on in Sri Lanka even though there is supposed to be a cease-fire. We also want to highlight the fact that the Sri Lanka government has so far not put forward genuine, meaningful set of proposals. So far we have had contacts with the Indian Prime Minister only through third parties. We want to meet him directly so that we can clear a lot of misunderstandings and suspicions.

Q: Do you think the PM will be sympathetic?

A: I trust he will be.

Q: Do you feel that in the last three months the Indian government's attitude towards the militants has hardened?

A: In the beginning I did not think so but after Balasingham was deported I am inclined to believe that the attitude has hardened.

Q: What do you think has caused this change in the Indian government's stance?

A: I don't know what has caused this change. Perhaps, some international crisis or pressure is responsible. It is not possible for us to ascertain immediately as to what has caused this change, but with time I am sure the reasons will come out.

Q: Do you think that India has become more pro-Sri Lanka?

A: So far we have not thought along those lines. But certain incidents create doubts in our minds.

Q: Why did you not respond immediately to Mr. Gandhi's summons when Thimphu II talks had failed?

A: Though both the LTTE delegates had come away, one delegate of the other groups was kept back in Thimphu. India wanted the ENLF leaders in Delhi so that they could somehow resume the peace talks. But when massacres were going on in Vavuniya and Trincomalee, isn't it a mockery that we, who are supposed to defend our people, are engaged in peace talks? When there is no sense of responsibility on the part of the Sri Lanka government to adhere strictly to the cease-fire regulations peace talks become meaningless. The Sri Lanka government gave no assurances that such massacres will not recur. In the circumstances we decided not to terminate the talks.

Q: Did the LTTE kill the two TULF ex-MP's? The Indian intelligence agencies are positive that you were responsible.

A: We are not responsible for the killing. What can we do if Indian intelligence agencies make such claims? Immediately after it took place, we denied the claim made by the Sri Lanka government that we were responsible. The ENLF also issued a denial. Even if the Indian intelligence agencies claim that we are responsible the people in Jaffna know that we have not done it. Maybe the Indian intelligence agencies have assumed that we did it without any evidence. Because I had gone underground they may have come to such conclusions. If we had done it, we would have claimed responsibility, giving our reasons for doing it. We undertake an operation only on the basis of our conviction. So, if we had done it we would not have gone about hiding the fact. For instance, when we shot Alalasundaram (the ex-TULF MP who was killed recently had earlier been shot in the leg by the LTTE) we claimed we had done it. We did not kill him because we thought it was unnecessary. We punished him for his anti-social activities: he had a hand in the cooperative fraud. We produced evidence of his embezzlement. Incidentally, a lot of the documents exposing his nefarious activities were set ablaze on the cooperative premises. We also claimed responsibility when we shot Anandarajah (principal of St. John's School in Jaffna). When the Sri Lanka government announced a reward of Rs. five lakhs for information leading to the arrest of his killers, the people of Jaffna came to know the basis of his relationship with the Sri Lanka government. They kept quiet fully understanding why we had killed him. Anandarajah was planning to hold a cricket match with the armed forces at a time when they were killing our people, arresting young Tamil boys indiscriminately, burning Tamil property and raping Tamil women. We had to do away with him because the government was using the impending cricket match as propaganda to give the impression to the world that the Tamil civilians have very cordial relations with the Sri Lanka armed forces and that the ethnic problem is something created by a handful of militants.

Q: Could not the ex-TULF MPs have been killed by some rebel LTTE members?

A: Absolutely not. Nothing happens in the LTTE without my permission. About the killing I want to say something. I met TULF leaders and assured them that we had not done this killing and that they need not worry about facing such consequences from us. I told them that just because we had shot Alalasundaram some time ago, it did not mean that we were against the TULF. However, I pointed out to them that the gap between them and the younger generation was widening most alarmingly. The younger generation look upon them as betrayers who have given up the struggle for Eelam. The gap is widening all the more because they are not in Eelam facing the people. They have been completely isolated from the realities in Eelam. So, as long as they remain isolated from the Tamil people, they are likely to face such drastic action from the younger generation. The reality is that if I were to give up the Eelam struggle I would face similar action from them.

Q: You mean to say that the younger generation is even more committed to Eelam?

A: The incidents in Eelam show that a Eelam, a separate state, is the only solution. After facing so many genocidal attacks, the Tamils realise there is no solution other than Eelam for them if they are to live in peace I and security.

Q: Apparently the killing of the TULF MPs, for which the LTTE was held responsible, has hardened Mr. Gandhi. In fact, he did not rescind the deportation order on Balasingham even though he had been on the verge of doing so...

A: We have no connection with the killing. If the Indian government does not rescind the orders because it assumes that we killed the TULF' MPs, then it is its mistake. There is no point in punishing us. They should punish the agency that is really guilty so that such incidents do not occur again.

Q: What was your reaction when Balasingham was deported?

A: We had cooperated so much with the Indian government, so when it happened we felt we had been wronged. The incident has created a certain amount of bitterness between us and them.

Q: How would you define your relationship with Balasingham?

A: He is our political advisor. As a true patriot, he reflects the national sentiments of our people.

Q: Why did India deport Balasingham?

A: India has said that he was deported in "public interest." But the reason appears to be farcical.

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