By Rajan Hoole –
The new under caste has an overlap with the old, in that social and economic privilege traditionally went with caste status. The labour and humiliation suffered by the low castes, kept the high castes in honour and privilege. Thus the traditional caste system determined to a large extent the class of persons who migrated to Colombo and overseas, among whom the LTTE has found a support base. Soon after the LTTE resumed war in 1990, its deputy leader Mahattaya announced that all persons in Tamil Eelam, their lives and their properties are hereby declared the property of the Tamil liberation struggle. A pass system was introduced which made it possible for only the privileged to leave the North. This concession too was given, partly in order to let off steam. The pass system was lifted for two days in October 1990. A large number of persons, especially young, who had connections in Colombo and abroad, left in droves. All along their way out, LTTE loud speakers blared, excoriating them as traitors and scum. Most of them found their way to Britain, Europe and Canada, and joined the new high caste. Many of them took to financing and supporting the LTTE and so became patriots.
Those left behind at home are literally treated as the property of the LTTE’s liberation struggle. No rules applied to them and they have to live on their wits. They are vulnerable to bombing and shelling by the government forces. Then their children, frequently malnourished, are constantly targetted for recruitment by the LTTE through unscrupulous means. We thus see that there is an intimate correspondence between the class system and the caste system – a wealthy elite who are allowed to love life, and a proletarianised mass who are expected to die for them.
To outsiders, anecdotes are given about how liberating this life is and of the new dignity given to women under the LTTE regime. Indeed, every fascist force, which needs women to play a military role, can on the surface appear liberating. But in reality, it distorts womanhood, turning women into sadists. The recorded behaviour of Nazi women towards women prisoners is hardly different from what we have recorded of LTTE women towards their women prisoners (our Bulletin No. 5).
An instance recorded by us (Report No. 6) is of a woman Vasantha Sulosana (39) who had been an LTTE helper at great personal risk during the Indian Army’s presence. In 1990, she was arrested for minor financial misdemeanour, which was quickly settled by her relatives. Her daughter, who was to have her age attaining ceremony on 15th August 1990, was expecting her mother home. In response to an appeal from the family, the LTTE had the previous day promised to release the mother. LTTE women came at the time appointed and asked the expectant girl to come and see her mother. The girl went with her little brother. The women dumped the dead body of her mother from the back of the vehicle with a taunting smirk and zoomed off. Sulosana had been executed publicly a little while earlier by a woman.
A recent instance concerns a young man Baheerathan (24) in the Batticaloa District who was detained by the LTTE on 17.9.1997. He had come to know the local LTTE leader Ravi’s liaison with a married woman with 2 children of Mahilavadduvan, Aithyamalai. On 18.12.97, Baheerathan’s fiancée, was summoned to the interior across the lagoon. She was asked by two women of the LTTE intelligence wing to aid their terrorist network in Colombo. This was after they found out that she was a student there. The fiancée left without committing herself, after a dizzy hour spent staring at the drink she was served.
Subsequently Baheerathan’s father, Thamotheram, who was in Batticaloa town, moved to Mahilavadduvan on 30th January 1998 to secure his son’s release. Mayuran of the LTTE asked him to move back to Batticaloa and to transport a parcel of explosives into the town. Thamotheram firmly declined saying that he will not cause the death of another to save the life of his son. On 21st February 1998 Baheerathan’s face was covered with a black cloth, and at 10.00 AM he was brought to the centre of the interior village of Eechchantivu by LTTE women Veni and Malini. Baheerathan was then executed. The local leader Ravi who was present, expiated his personal anger by firing his weapon thrice into the dead body of the victim. A bystander who tried to cover the victim with a cloth was assaulted by the LTTE. Ravi ruled that no one should remove Baheerathan’s body from the street before 4.00 PM. Such events are the hidden features of a society where all that is seen by outsiders is controlled, and what is shown is reported as authentic. In an ironic postscript, Ravi had since surrendered to the Army and is operating against the LTTE. Such are indoctrinated youth exercising power over life and death among their fellows.
*To be continued..
*From Rajan Hoole‘s “Sri Lanka: Arrogance of Power – Myth, Decadence and Murder”. Thanks to Rajan for giving us permission to republish. To read earlier parts click here