16 July, 2024


Prabhakaran’s Historic Errors

By Bruce Tamilson

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.

Politically immaturity

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.

Losing Jaffna

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.

Autocratic leadership

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.


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Latest comments

  • 3

    Prabhakaran’s “Historic” Errors

    more appropriate “Prabhakaran’s blunders.

    its too early for history to judge him.

    what is more pertinent is that Sri Lanka has not learnt for is historic errors

  • 2

    Prabhakaran’s “Historic” Errors.

    I agreed with the writer. Yes – he did many mistakes while he was in battle with the Sri Lankan state. At the same time, He has proved that how he was genuine on the Tamil course what he believed until he died.

    He had many plus points at the same time minus points also what described by the writer.
    But in my view, he faced inglorious end because he couldn’t able to realize the post 9/11 world order. That is the big mistake he did and finally he defeated by the same mistake.

    Many Tamil saying that Ranil is like fox, that’s why Prabahran worked to overthrew him using by election. In 2015, if LTTE didn’t block Tamil voters, Tamils definitely would vote to Ranil.
    Prabakaran didn’t realize that Ranil mean the western world. That is the biggest mistake he did and, he faced his downfall himself.

    Eventually, Prabakaran tried to battle with the whole world. He didn’t try to learn from the history where what was happen to those types of leaders who fought against the whole world.

    Now the time is for Sri Lankan ruler. They should learn from their mistakes what they did in past. But I have doubt, are they able to learn from their past.

    • 4


      I believe that none of us has all the information necessary to judge Prabhakaran fully well. As such, our judgement cannot be final.

      VP was the creation of our islands History; of time and circumstances. In that sense he was a man of infinite love for our people. However, owing to circumstances that were too much for his one man show, he erred, and erred more and more as time passed.

      Looking at it today, we may feel justified in blaming him for our plight and predicament. But, none of it should fall solely on his lap. We have to accept our share of the blame.

      Liberation struggles are not and should not be a one man show. We all, by our action and inaction, contributed to VP making it a one man show.

      We didn’t create Prabhakaran. Yet, the record of our tacit accommodation of the path of militancy he headed cannot be erased. If anyone wants to extricate himself at this late stage he is not being honest to himself.

      The rest of it is a long story. And, this is not the time or place for anyone to dwell on it.

      • 4

        You are 100% Correct. No one wants to take the blame The all past Sinhalese governments establishment armed forces and people for being racist and subjecting the Tamil people to this horrendous discrimination, where they were denied their rights to land education and employment and their lands systematically stolen by the Sinhalese. They had no other way but forced to fight, as all non violent protests to regain just Tamil rights did not work. The Muslims for their cunning opportunism of backstabbing and joining with the Sinhalese racists to discriminate the Tamils from the time of independence. It is their community that gained the most at the expense of the Tamils but are now cunningly trying to play the victim, after exploiting the situation so well. They are still trying to exploit the situation to gain maximum advantage for their immigrant South Indian community at the expense of Tamil peoples sacrifice. This is the reason even many Sinhalese scorn them.
        The Tamils for only allowing Pirapakaran to fight their battles, supported him, when things were going right and then blamed, when things did not work out. Of course Pirapakaran was not willing to listen by then. However like you stated he did have a tremendous love for his people and sacrificed his entire family for it. Only thing is he was not willing to listen to reason.
        Lastly India for using the Tamils in the island to gain a foothold and then discarding them and betraying them to the entire world. There are certain Indian communities that took a very important part in this.

        • 3

          Hello Real Siva Sankaran,

          Native Tamils of SL have a long history going back to 2nd century, sometimes even prior to Sinhalese maybe. And then you also have Indian Tamils, originally came as bonded laborers. Not to forget here, whether you guys came in 2nd century or 8th century, origins of native Tamils and Sinhalese are still India and, that too mostly South India. If you don’t trust history, have a look at world map and compare the size of India and Sri Lanka once again to get some sense of what history says.

          Back to where we were, similarly, among Muslims also there are the ones who are direct decedents of Arabs as well as those came from India.

          The difference between Tamils and Muslims is that we don’t discriminate or differentiate among us, that is against the teachings. In your case it is different, you keep part of your own community away for their origins, ethnicities and castes.

          Imagine a community of having its history tracing back to 2nd century, is still living as refugees or narrowly better than refugees at the mercy of Sinhalese, with its rights deprived and fear injected in its minds on the same land – A miserably failed community, isn’t it?

          You guys are backward because of your own egoism.
          You guys are backward because of your caste system even in these modern days
          You guys are suffering because you can’t live peacefully with other communities
          You guys are suffering because you guys overestimate yourselves most of the time

          When every blunder is committed by you guys against you guys, why blame another community rather than learning from it?

          We as Muslims, we don’t blame Tamils. We only sympathize, and if requires and is possible, will give a hand whenever.

  • 1

    [Edited out] Comments should not exceed 300 words.Please read our Comments Policy for further details.

    • 0

      Dear CT, Sri Lanka turns on exceptions. There are exceptions in the workings of law, employment, salaries, businesses and even how school admissions are done. You name a field and there are exceptions in the field. The politicians decide to whom these exceptions should apply.


      So why go against this official trend? After all, this man seems to be having Royal blood running in his veins – if one were to judge by his name.

      Let him have 3000. Please…..Please…..Please…..!

  • 0

    The worst error Prabhakaran made was killing Rajiv Ghandi.

  • 0

    “Sri Lankan Politicians Historic Error” would be more appropriate unless this war is between Sinhalese and Tamils.

  • 0

    Whether Prabha dead is confirmed, please clarify cos if the body of him captured by SL army them MR will keep his body and da country forever showing that to majority
    Think twice, it is no clarified, but arms struggle ended

  • 0

    kanan, I am sure he is not dead. I have seen the man with my own eyes. I cannot reveal when and where for obvious reasons. But he is alive and active. Very Very active.

  • 0


  • 2

    Who had the ultimate power to control autocratic obstinate Pirabagaran? “Eelam dreamers who funded the war”

    If Anton Balasingham could foresee a defeat of politically unstrategic autocratic person who believed the gun power was everything, could have been controlled through undercutting the funds to make him realize or even force that there was an alternative.

    As Tamilson described, there were more than enough reasons to foresee the end, with then existed world affairs that did not suit the strategy of LTTE leader should have been given a thought that he was not the right leader for the cause, though he might be a good military leader.

    Ultimately LTTE did not have a leader. Watch the movie Baahubali that tells the difference between a leader and a hero.

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