COLOMBO: Tiger Supremo Velupillai Prabhakaran’s deep seated fear of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) being disarmed as a result of a peace process, prevented him from going for a political settlement with the Sri Lankan government, says Sivasubramanium Sivakamy, alias Thamilini, who headed the Women’s Political Wing of the militant outfit.
In her book “Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil” (In the Shadow of a Sharp Sword), written a few months before cancer claimed her life in October 2015, Thamilini says that Prabhakaran firmly believed that his security as well that of the LTTE and the Tamils rested only in the possession of weapons, and that all would be lost if a peace settlement meant the LTTE’s laying down arms.
According to Thamilini’s husband, Jeyakumar Mahadevan, she points out that several opportunities to strike a peace deal with Colombo went unutilized because of the fear of “losing the gun”.
Thamilini has identified the principal causes of the LTTE’s defeat in war.
“Among them are war fatigue, having fought for 30 long years continuously, and infiltration of the LTTE’s set up by Sri Lankan intelligence. The advancing age of the commanders was also a factor. Many of the top commanders were 45 to 50 years old at the time of the 2006-2009 Eelam War IV. Thamilini recalls how many of them could not run a mile,” Jeyakumar told Express.
A British citizen, Jeyakumar was under threat of arrest when he sought permission from the Kilinochchi police to release Thamilini’s book publicly on March 19.
“The police wanted me to delete some pictures showing the LTTE, saying that it was illegal to publish such pictures, and threatened to arrest me. But they failed to show under what law it was illegal. I then sent a text message to theater personality Dharmasiri Bandaranayake in Colombo, who approached Cabinet Minister for National Reconciliation, Mano Ganeshan. Ganeshan in turn contacted Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s Secretary, who got the police to permit the book launch,” Jeyakumar said.
There has been criticism about the book from a section of the Tamil Diaspora in Europe and the local Tamil National Alliance (TNA) MP S.Sritharan.
“When I went to invite him for the function, Sritharan urged me not to release the book as it would affect the Tamils’ case on war crimes. I told him that the book has nothing in it to warrant that conclusion and asked him to state his views at the function,” Jeyakumar said.
The social media is being used by the Europe based Diaspora to portray Thamilini as a stooge of the Lankan establishment. But Jeyakumar is unfazed. He plans to get the book translated into English and Bandaranayake is to get it translated into Sinhalese.
An excellent speaker and motivator with a commanding physical presence, Thamilini came from a poor agricultural family of Paranthan in the Northern Province. Though a bright student she had to quit studies at the high school level because of the disruptions wrought by war. She joined the LTTE, and over a period of 18 years, rose to head its women’s political wing.
When the war ended in May 2009, she surrendered to the Lankan armed forces and was interrogated for nine months by the CID. Later, she was lodged in the Welikade prison in Colombo. After two years in Welikade, she was sent for a year’s “rehabilitation” as per a court order. While in detention she was struck by cancer and was treated at the Kalubowila and Maharagama hospitals by Sinhalese oncologists, Dr.Aloka Pathirana and Dr.Mahendra Perera.
When she was released in 2013, she married Jeyakumar, a friend who had left his job in the UK to come back to Lanka to nurse her to health.