By Bruce Tamilson –
First of all, we all need to acknowledge that there is an ethnic problem between minority Tamils and majority Singhalese for decades. Tamil political leaders, such as Sir Pon Ramanathan and Sir Pon Arunachalam, failed to secure the rights of minority Tamils. The succeeders such as Mr G.G Ponnambalam and Mr Celvanayakam et al staged peaceful protest to reclaim Tamil’s rights. But we all know how the Sinhalese majority handled them. Also, in many ways, Tamils were discriminated and abused racially. The circumstances and political environment forced Tamils to choose the violence. It is justifiable to a degree because Tamils grabbed violence method after all other measures failed. An unbiased reader should accept above points before continue read. Prabhakaran’s purpose was right. This article does not criticize his purpose. Also, This article does not disregard what Sri Lankan governments and forces have done to Tamils. Sri Lankan government has committed more mistakes than LTTE. I am not portraying, as all Singhalese are cruel. I am trying to say some politicians and some racist Sinhalese must take the responsibility for the bloody war.
Mr Prabhakaran was a well-disciplined and altruistic individual. He did not betray the Tamils. He did not have a super luxurious life. He had the capacity to develop a conventional armed force and defacto government. He developed very good war tactics and equipment. He was a genuine and trustworthy leader. He had the good intention for the Tamils. The above all features do not exempt from criticism. Many Tamils would feel that what qualification do I have to criticize the leader. Fortunately, I do not need to have any qualification to criticize anyone. We are living in a world with freedom of speech. We have the right to criticize even the God, so why not the leader. As a rule, human minds find hard to accept whatever against their view. A matured, unbiased and educated individual will accept the facts even though their heart inhibits.
Killing of fellow Tamils and refusal of pluralism
At the beginning of the arm struggle, there were several groups of Tamil fighters appeared. They all had the same goal and intentions. As fate of Tamils, we are never united. Inter- group battles started and LTTE killed Tamil youths of other armed group and vise versa. Regarding this, the response from Prabhakaran is ‘if we don’t kill them, they would have killed us’; A rational response. It could be a negligible and acceptable error for LTTE supporters but a gross mistake for affected family. This issue has created first enemies for LTTE within Tamils. When LTTE leader was pronounced as dead, I witnessed a Tamilian gave sweets to people. The person’s brother was killed by LTTE. We cannot say that he was being selfish unless we have someone killed in our family by LTTE. People can say thousands explanations but killing other Tamils was a mistake and non-justifiable. In nutshell, Prabhakaran was failed to handle the other Tamils groups non-violently and failed to work together.
Ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Jaffna
A permanent damage to the relationship between Tamils and Muslim and it is shame for all Tamils. All the Muslims of North were asked to leave within 72 hours leaving all the possession. The reason for this incidence stated as Muslim were not participating in freedom fight and betraying the Tamils. It was cruel to ask them to leave without any possessions or earnings of hardworking. Not even single Tamil protested or voiced against this issue at material time. It is historical shame for North Tamils. If your mind find hard to accept it as wrong, imagine all the western countries send Tamils diaspora back to Jaffna, leaving all the possession earned. No human would accept or support ethnic cleansing. It gives a reason for Muslims to be a separate participant in the talk of political solution and to identify them as separate ethnic group. It is an irreversible error.
Killing of innocent Singhalese
There were several incidences where innocents Singhalese were killed by LTTE. In fact, Sri Lankan forces have killed multiple numbers of Tamil civilians but this is not a justification for killing innocent Singhalese. LTTE wanted to revenge or wanted a change the attitude of Singhalese towards war could be the possible explanations behind it. As human being, we should never support a killing of other innocents. If my heart finds it is acceptable to kill other innocents, it means my mind became ill and cruel. Many Tamils have this ill mind of accepting above. Unfortunately, Sri Lankan Government should take responsibility for making the Tamil minds ill by bombing Tamils and made them suffer. These killing of innocents definitely have brought negative image of LTTE around the world.
Dictatorship and arrogance
It is obvious and inevitable for a certain extent to have dictatorship during wartime and in armed culture. It is always been complained that bottom level leaders have abused the power in many ways. There are several people who are affected by LTTE repression in many ways. Many of them, including educated and business people had to leave the LTTE controlled area. Even though, power abuse is committed by bottom and middle level leaders, Prabhakaran holds the ultimate responsibility. He holds the blame for ignorance. For many Tamils, it is an ordinary or tiny issue but for those who affected could have lost a fortune or even life.
Prabhakaran did not believe in politics as much he believed on armed fights. This could be due to the lessons he learnt from past. In fact, politics is equivalently important as armed fight to achieve the goal. Prabhakaran did not put enough effort into political route. LTTE was involved in peace talks time to time, but never was a genuine talk. LTTE always have used the peace talk to buy time. Prabhakaran did not listen to anyone else other than Anton Balasingham, the political adviser. Prabhakaran was failed to develop a strong political circle parallel to armed groups. He should have included many educated Tamil diaspora and allowed independent politicians locally. Later stage, LTTE also tried to form political wing, but it was just seen as member of LTTE than a political team. LTTE never encouraged democratic way of electing leaders in the community. LTTE appointed them as convenient to them like puppets. He strongly believed that acquisition of land and killing SL army would have brought Tamileelam. He ignored the fact that there is something more than that such as international support and acceptance.
Did not accept anything less than Tamil Eelam
Prabhakaran was strictly glued to the Tamil Nationalism ideology. He has even said to kill him if he comes down from the ideology. It is not wrong to have the Tamil Nationalism ideology. Prabhakaran has refused all the other solutions and did not let others to accept it. He should have let others to go with the political solution and he could have remained armed until a stable solution reached. He has murdered whoever accepted less than Tamileelam. This has a big cost now, as you see, we ended up zero. If Prabaharan did let other political parties to go with the Indo-Lanka agreement. We would have left with something now, at least a merged northeast. Basically, The war did not take us to zero but it took to less than zero.
Failed to adjust the world
After the September 11 US attack, the world’s eyes on freedom fighters have changed. Prabhakaran was reluctant to adapt to that change. International community was persistently condemning against child soldiers, killing innocents, assassination of political leaders and black tigers [suicide bombing]. Prabhakaran did not take those into account and strongly believed on autonomous. He failed to impress or get sympathy of west because of his stubborn attitude. He always thought we could survive without rest of the world.
Killing of Rajiv Gandhi
Indian army has committed offence against Tamils. But why did LTTE kill Rajiv? To revenge or fallen into the trap of Delhi politicians. At the material time, the decision of killing Rajiv was ludicrous if we compare the benefits [revenging or other] and future impact on LTTE. Opposing India was a not a wise choice made by LTTE. Even, LTTE has admitted as unfortunate event. We all have witnessed the consequences. Also, India will never allow independent Tamil Eelam because it will lead to independent Tamil Nadu. In addition, if there is Tamil eelam, there will be china and Pakistan base in the south Singhalese land, which will be a threat to Indian security. Independent Tamileelam will only possible, if Tamil Nadu becomes independent nation first.
Premature violation of ceasefire
Prabhakaran never believed in peace talk, as usual he wanted to buy time and build up the military. He should have build up politically more and removed the terrorist barring of west before violating the peace talk. It was a wrong time to start the war while Sonia Ghandi was in power. At least LTTE should have maintained peace until the end of congress term finishes. LTTE fail to predict the Sonia Ghandi revenge attitude beforehand.
Used civilian as human Shield
Many Tamilian will disagree on it but it is the unfortunate truth. Since 1990s LTTE never allowed people to move freely out of LTTE controlled area. During the end period of war, not only LTTE did not allow the people to move but also did shelling from civilian crowded area and safe zone. This does not justify the bombing of Tamils by SL Army. However, LTTE must take part of the responsibility for the death of Tamil civilians.
Failed to get support of other nation
LTTE never relied on other countries for any sort of support. Prabhakaran believed on self- sufficient. Considering the outcome of war, LTTE must have formed an allied country at least secretly. If they have had a good allied country like USA, Russia, India, China or Pakistan, it would have been impossible to fully defeat the LTTE. Prabhakaran never believed that Goals could be achieved by devious ways. Prabhakaran thought of “dying for principles” is impractical for achieving goals and not suitable for current world.
Lose of Jaffna had the great impact on LTTE’s future. Jaffna was highly populated area and was the main source of recruits. They should have remained in Jaffna and eliminated SL army with any cost. At some stage, In Vanni, they used to recruit forcefully one member from each family. If they have implemented the same rules in Jaffna in 1990s, LTTE would not have lost Jaffna and the war. Also, it would have been harder for SL army to recapture the north. It would have been easy for LTTE to control the land and sea of North.
Failed to predict and prevent Karuna’s Defect
Betrayal is not new for LTTE and history of Tamils. LTTE must have learnt lesson starting from Mathaia. LTTE had the principle of central power. But in Karuna case, Prabhakaran failed because of over trusting. LTTE has realized the error of leaving karuna independently in East but it was too late. The power devolution to Karuna has a cost of entire aspiration of Tamils.
Some people would say this is his main strength but others would say this is the one that destroyed all. Nevertheless, scientifically, if all the power is concentrated to a single man and if he makes independent decision, it will very unlikely to be the wisest mechanism. Prabhakaran never thought of forming groups of decision makers or policy makers. He failed to utilize the great minds of Educated Tamils. Even in his defecto government, he did everything apart from parliament and democratic election. The history taught us many times that in the world autocratic leadership would not survive long.
Prabhakaran have had created a great freedom fight for Tamils and he also hold the responsible for its defeat. As the victories were claimed, the blame for the defeats to be accepted. Whatever happened, whatever world says, whatever media report, what ever Singhalese shouts, whatever SL government articulates the ultimate Truth is more than 90 percentages of Tamils in Sri Lanka and abroad do support LTTE. They were the only representative of Tamils. Under Prabhakaran, the Tamils were united. As always, curse for Tamils to be not united. Now, there are several politicians, parties and groups are fighting for a political solution to Sri Lankan Tamils. We will never learn lesson from past. Tamils are greedy for power and have an attitude of refusing criticism. Tamils can be bought easily for money. Tamils are selfish; they do care more about their family and self. Particularly, whoever live abroad are utterly selfish. They all fled abroad without fighting for their rights. They will never return back to homeland. However, Tamil diaspora does something, at least gives solidarity.
All the Tamils need to be united under single umbrella but Tamils are not in the mindset to accept someone as leader. Above all, there is no one deserve to be a true leader. Unity makes our voice to be heard. Also, we need to accept any offer from Singhalese as interim solution or trial rather than demanding all at once. I do accept, we need more power, it can be achieved gradually rather than living with nothing. We often forget something is better than nothing.
If the Sri Lankan government fails to offer a solution to Tamil’s issue, sooner or later there will be another conflict. Sri Lankan government and Racist parties may try to shift the ethnic population ratio in northeast and play political dramas to avoid solution but it will fuel the issue. It is not possible to suppress the aspirations and rights of people by violence or forcing unwanted solution. Northern Ireland is an example to learn from. You can still see the news of bombing and assassinations. I am not justifying any violence but we need to learn and accept the fact. Without a political solution, there will never be a reconciliation. What type of solution is needed should not be an individual’s or political party’s decision. The people need to have a say on it, particularly Tamils.