Another Prabhakaran Obituary
In the article below HLD Mahindapala writes another obituary of Velupillai Prabhakaran (VP). The first obituary was written shortly after the Tsunami when the "patriots" thought that VP had been drowned thanks to God Vishnu or some other divine entity. This does not appear to have happened even though even now some "patriots" are reluctant to accept this.
Of course there are many, including the present writer, who would wish that VP is no more. But can we really draw a line under VP and the LTTE he created? VP will of course succumb either to one of his many illnesses, or to a rival's bullet, or even to a military action of the STF, but the question is whether Tamil separatism can be so easily defeated. This separatism is not only advocated by VP but also by others like Karuna and other non-LTTE militants who are now ostensibly on the GOSL side. Even the mild-mannered Anandasangaree, whose cause HLD has been advocating for some time, is hoping to "liberate" the Tamils not from VP but from the Sinhalese. We may even see the ignominy of having Prabhakaran eliminated but Eelaam conceded under some scheme of federalism or devolution devised by the Hela politicians.
The cause for the present optimism is the GOSL military victories in the East. Many observers have previously expressed the opinion that these presage the end of the LTTE (see e.g. the blog dated 22-1-07). HLD too seems to believe this in an emphatic way. Certainly the military situation is not favourable to the LTTE. But they still do have the initiative not only in the North but also in the Northern seas. All this on the basis of resources supplied by the Tamil Diaspora, whereas GOSL with the all the resources of a modern government is still largely responding to what the LTTE does and only rarely taking the initiative. No doubt this will change in course of time, but until it does it might be premature to write the obituary of VP.
A great deal is said about VP killing Tamils. But surely he has killed more Sinhalese than Tamils. I think a right balance should be maintained and VP seen primarily as a killer of the Sinhalese (and Muslims) rather than of Tamils. This emphasis on Tamil deaths is a reflection of the fear that has been inculcated into GOSL supporters by the international community that they are "discriminating" against, and even oppressing, Tamils. So what better argument than to say that VP has been a killer of Tamils rather than a killer of Sinhalese. If we recognize that a life is a life then the crimes of the LTTE against the Sinhalese are far greater than those against the Tamils. So the tendency of commentators to put LTTE atrocities against Tamils before the much greater atrocities against Sinhalese, especially Buddhists, has to be explained. This is something which I wish the HLD should address.
HLD gives a graphic account how the CFA has aided the LTTE and consolidated VP's control over Tamils and Hela politicians. However the problem relates to who was responsible for the unprecedented instrument of surrender. The conventional view amongst the "patriots" is to pin the entire blame on the them Prime Minister RanilW, aided perhaps by the President ChandrikaBK. But it was in reality a surrender by the entire Hela political establishment with much support from the Hela masses as well. This is seen that the CFA is still in force even though the Ranil-Chandrika regime has passed into history. Ranil's CFA had a clause that either party to the CFA could end it by simply giving two weeks' notice to the SLMM. Of course VP has not done this as the CFA has been to his advantage. But neither has any Hela political leader from RanilW to MahindaR done so. In fact MahindaR gave a solemn undertaking to uphold the CFA in the notorious Geneva talks, the last of the talks in which the late Balasingham triumphed. PTOMS, the other agreement to divert Tsunami funds to the LTTE, was actually introduced to Parliament by MahindaR when he was the Prime Minister. The uproar on this agreement meant that it never saw the light of day, even though there is no evidence that the LTTE was starved of Tsunami relief funds which were used for military purposes. If would have been useful if HLD had investigated the reasons for the bi-partisan support for the CFA and PTOMS instead of trying to pin the entire blame of RanilW and the UNP.
A good part of the article is devoted to Anandasangaree's letter to the new UN Secretary-General (UNSG). As far as the UN is concerned Sangaree is a private politician and it has no obligation to do anything about his complaints. Now will the UNSG do anything about it. It is for GOSL as a dues-paying member of the UN to raise these matters, but there is little evidence that it is doing so. Once again we see a failure on the part of GOSL which HLD would have done well to do.
According to Sangaree's letter the LTTE is running a police state in which even telephone calls of people are monitored and controlled. It is not clear if this applies to Jaffna proper or only to the de facto Eelaam in the Vanni. To exercise this kind of control the LTTE must be running a massive secret police prying into the private affairs of the citizens. We do not know how much truth there is in Sangaree's claims, but the UNSG must be wondering why the legitimate government of the country is doing while a terrorist is exercising this kind of control on the people under his control.
The burden of HLD's claim, given in the title of his article, is that there is a "Tamil revolt" against VP. Of course we know that the non-LTTE Tamil terrorist groups like Karuna are engaged in a military confrontation with VP. But this will not count as a "revolt". So what people will look for is the evidence that such a revolt exists. Even Sangaree does not produce any credible evidence that a popular revolt exists. Of course we know that the LTTE is not the "sole representative" of the Tamils. But is it group which speaks for most of the Tamils? Unfortunately we do not have much evidence to decide on this question. Even a poll may not reveal the correct answer as Tamils, apart from their normally deceptive attitude, may be afraid to voice their true opinion. So we do not if HLD's "Tamil revolt" is there in reality or simply a figment of the imagination.
Political commentary should focus on the hard evidence on the ground, not on wishful thinking of the commentator.
After leading the Tamils in a militant campaign of hate against the Sinhalese for at least 32 years, after waging four Eelam wars, after sabre-rattling in the last annual speech threatening dire consequences to the nation if the Tiger demands were not met, after killing more Tamils than any other force put together, after sacrificing the Tamil children recruited into the depleted Tiger cadres, after investing the millions subscribed by the Tamil Diaspora into the bottomless pit of purchasing arms, and, above all, after subjecting the Tamil people to the worst imaginable indignities and sufferings in the name of an elusive political goal of a separate state, Velupillai Prabhakaran, the self-styled "sole representative of the Tamils", is nowhere near his goal of Eelam.\
Long before he lost the territorial grip on east to Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka, the Army Commander whom he failed to assassinate, he lost his grip on the Tamil people of the east with Karuna Amman, his best commander, breaking away from him. And in between the fall out with Karuna and fall of Vakarai Prabhakaran was dealt a deadly legal blow by the Supreme Court by de-linking the north from the east.
Never has Prabhakaran been in a plight like this before, losing simultaneously on territorial, military, political, legal and international fronts. Ever since he got the scalp of the first Tamil, Alfred Duraiyappah 32 years ago – and he has not stopped killing the Tamils since then – he had been on a winning streak until his political fortunes peaked with signing of the Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) on February 22, 2002. In the CFA Ranil Wickremesinghe offered him on a platter not only control of territory and powers which Prabhakaran could not have won in the battle field but even the heads of the daring soldiers in the LRRP who were risking their lives to save the nation from the perils of separatist terrorism. In clause 2 (a) of the CFA, Wickremesinghe agreed to dismantle the deep penetration units to make life easy and safe for Prabhakaran. Wickremesinghe's agreement to dismantle the LRRP and de-fang the "para-militaries" (read anti Tiger Tamil groups) was a total surrender to Prabhakaran's demands to strengthen his grip on national politics and his own people who were hoping that the CFA would bring peace and ease their burdens.
V. Anandasangaree, the leader of the TULF, summed up the impact of the CFA on the Tamil people, in his letter to the new Secretary-General, Kim Ba Moon: "Till the cease fire agreement was signed these people were hoping that they will soon be able to lead a peaceful and normal life like others, but the CFA dashed all their hopes and contrary to their expectations the CFA only legitimized the LTTE's grip on them. It is now almost five years since the CFA was signed and the LTTE's grip tightened more and more as every day passed and today their atrocities had become so unbearable and have reached the peak level. The people are now shouting for help for their liberation and are ready to give all their support for any one doing it."
The political scientists and the NGO pundits who hailed the CFA as the cure-all for the ills of Sri Lankan national crisis are now pretending that they had never hard of it in their lives. Unfolding events have proved that CFA has been Wickremesinghe greatest failure next, of course, to his genius for dividing his part into two. But the CFA was a boon to Prabhakaran. He was placed right on top of the world with recognition, status and power derived from Ranil Wickremesinghe's CFA. It spilled over to consolidate his position in the Tamil community and, of course, the international community. Quite brashly, his emissary abroad, Anton Balasingham, was claiming parity of status with the Sri Lankan government and Erik Solheim, who fell headlong into the blarney of Balasingham, too treated the sovereign state of Sri Lanka as equal to that of a terrorist enclave though it had no legal, political or moral status. Wickremesinghe was on his wobbly knees before Prabhakaran and Bradman Weerakoon, his master's batman, was ever willing to grant the insatiable demands of the Vanni hierarchy on the fallacious NGO theories of "confidence-building".
With Wickremesinghe and Weerakoon falling at his feet it was easy for Prabhakaran to strike fear into the hearts and minds of the southern polity. The psychological coup he scored infected Chandrika's regime too and their political and military responses were determined in this mood of defeatism and surrender. Both of them not only withdrew from any confrontation but deliberately weakened the military capabilities of the forces. Both had accepted that the only way out was to appease under the euphemism of "confidence-building".
The fear psychosis generated by Prabhakaran also gave the NGO agents the upper hand to rule the roost. Instead of the Security forces invading the enemy territory the NGOs (example: the German Berghoff Foundation) were invading the Security Forces demoralizing them and persuading them to surrender. NGOs were prescribing formulas of surrender as victories for the people, the government and peace.
The nation was teetering on the brink of falling into the fatal pit of separatism. After grabbing unprecedented power from Wickremesinghe, the next move of Prabhakaran was to manoeuvre Chandrika Kumaratunga's regime, through the willing coalition of NGOs, to legalise his political power in the north and east with the ill-conceived and misguided P-TOMS. If by any chance Prabhakaran got P-TOMS on top of CFA the history of Sri Lankan would have gone in an irreversible direction with the international community accepting it as the way to go for a final solution.
But the unraveling events established conclusively that there were forces greater than Chandrika, Ranil, Erik Solheim, NGOs, and Prabhakaran put together. The combined attack of the JVP, JHU and other nationalist forces scuttled Kumaratunga's proposal to sacrifice the overall rights, interests and aspirations of the Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils in exchange for a peace that would never have come from Prabhakaran fixated on Eelam-or-nothing politics.
Even though Chandrika and Ranil were bending the constitution in diverse ways to enthrone Prabhakaran, hoping to profit from it at subsequent elections, the Vanni recipient of their political favours was on a suicidal course of his own by shooting down 95% of the terms and conditions of the CFA, as stated by the SLMM. Standing cockily on the peak of the CFA he assumed that it would be a cake walk for him to get the rest through the gun. Prabhakaran was pumped up after the CFA, no doubt.. His euphoria, as well as the euphoria of the NGO operatives and the other misguided pundits, was short lived. After that it has been downhill all the way for Prabhakaran, particularly after the rise of President Mahinda Rajapakse as the formidable force of the south halting and reversing the trend of defeatism.
One of the main contributory factors to Prabhakaran's downfall has been his intransigent determination not to face the hopelessness inherent in his fixation of enthroning himself as the Sun God of Eelam. It is an ideology which has no future. His all-or-nothing gamble has driven him to a dead end. Eelam is a sword that advanced him in the past to the peak of the CFA. After he came sliding down from the CFA he has fallen on his sword. Now he is bleeding profusely from his self-inflicted wounds. So is there a future for him with his sword sticking out from both ends?
Velupillai Prabhakaran never lacked arrogance or ruthlessness. But his fatal flaw was in relying only on : 1. himself as a man of destiny to deliver Eelam and 2. his ideology of separatism based exclusively on violence -- his only tried and tested means of survival in the jungle of Tamil politics. He has never relied on any strategy other than violence. That has been his trade mark as symbolised in the Tiger flag of 33 bullets ringed round the head of snarling tiger under two crossed guns fixed with bayonets. It was designed by him personally as an expression of his reliance on violence. Without violence he will be reduced to nothing. His politics is dependent solely on violence. He is no longer the "sole representative of the Tamils." Instead he has earned the next best reputation of being the sole representative of violence in Sri Lanka. The Tamil diaspora finances him to keep on fighting. And his future depends on the success or failure of his violence.
But how far can he advance with his violence now? Though he can continue to indulge in sporadic spurts of violence he has yet to realise that he has reached the limits of violence. After his fall from Wickremesinghe's CFA and Kumaratunga's failed P-TOMs he has not adjusted himself to the new realities that had fallen on him like a ton of bricks. His blood-thirsty arrogance made him believe that he could go beyond the CFA as long as he stuck to his routine of unmitigated violence. That was his undoing. The latest round of violence should make him realise that the future route is not heading in the direction of Eelam but the other way about -- i.e., into his 40-foot hole in the Vanni! If the current trends continue then it is certain that at the end of the day he is destined to end up in a tragic Saddam Husseinic hole with nothing beyond that. Right now he is stuck in this hole.
For him to regain his lost stature he needs territory, at least to be recognized as a force with a future. But the rolling events pushing him back are not promising him any additional territory or even the remaining acres under his control. Eelam without the east and Jaffna -- the heartland of the Tamil separatists – is like a torso without a head and heart. He has also been losing his cadres at a rate that he can hardly afford if he is to win back the east and the north. He is also running out of ammunition unless he can replenish it with new stocks. His finances are also drying up.
Contrary to what military experts say, he is dependent more on supplies of money from the Tamil diaspora than ammunition. The ammunition comes from the diasporic funding and if that source dries up he is finished. The Tamil diaspora, the sole source of external resources to the Tigers, is batting nervously, and sometimes even reluctantly, on its back foot. Each defeat in Sri Lanka reduces the flow of funds abroad. Besides, fund-raising activities are monitored and the leading Tamil agents abroad are under surveillance by foreign governments which are hostile to the banned Tiger terrorists.
He has also been hit hard on the A-9 road which was a gold mine to him. It is no longer open for him to rake in the shekels. On top of all this, there is a recommendation before the UN to target his military and political leadership. India, though dithering, has come out with a statement that buries all his hopes. India says that its commitment to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Sri Lanka is absolute and is not dependent on any internal formula for a solution.
One other factor that should also not be overlooked is the way in which Velupillai Prabhakaran killed the goose that could have laid the golden eggs for him. Ranil was his best chance of consolidating his position in the post-CFA period and challenging the state later for more bargains. It was an option that would have been far better than any lethal weapon he could hope to acquire in the arms underworld. But he miscalculated. He thought he could win by defeating Ranil. He also wanted to impress that he can be the king-maker of the south. The upshot : he and his political ally, Ranil, lost. It is obvious now that in denying the Tamil people their right to vote he wrote his own death warrant
In short, he has painted himself into a corner from which he cannot get out. He is totally isolated. He has no one to support him either abroad or at home. There isn't a single state that is prepared to back him. There is no civilian intifada rising internally to give him the additional strength to attack the Army. There is no doubt that a committed hardcore still continues to worship him. However, on balance, considering the overall forces ranged against him, the future seems to be swinging in the direction of the non-violent Tamil forces raising their heads to lead the Tamil people back to mainstream again.
Besides, the initial inspirational wave that swept "the boys" on the back of Tamil community to its peak in the CFA has now flattened out on the political shores almost as a spent force. The force of that dynamic wave is no longer there to take Prabhakaran any further. The disillusioned Tamils generally agree now that he hijacked that force to advance his inflated ego more than the general welfare of the Tamils.
Over and above all these factors, there is a greater threat looming over his head: it is the possibility of an internal implosion either destabilising or eliminating Prabhakaran from the political equation. This hidden factor was revealed by V. Anandasangaree who wrote to the UN Secretary General of the unrest sweeping the areas controlled by Prabhakaran in graphic detail.
He wrote: "LTTE's atrocities have now reached a climax and the people, unable to bear them any more are longing for a change. If no action is taken immediately Mr. Prabhakaran will soon pave the way for the total annihilation of the Tamil race. I have very reliable information that people want a smooth transfer of power from the LTTE to the Government..."
Delineating the plight of theTamils imprisoned in the Vanni Anandsangaree lists the grim details that are undermining the pevailing legitimacy of Prabhakaran's oppressive regime:
He added: "The LTTE had abducted more than ten thousand youths for recruitment to their fighting cadre in Kilinochchi and a similar number in Mulaitheevu also.
"The people who had been living in areas under the control of the LTTE had sacrificed enough and it should be noted that all their sacrifices, tolerance and sufferings were all borne by them for the sake of their children. Now with a demand from the LTTE for one person from each house-hold they are prepared to defy the LTTE and revolt against them. They are also prepared to welcome and give all co-operation for a friendly army that will give an undertaking to give protection for their lives and properties inspite of any provocation that they may have to face, while engaged in the process of liberating them."
Apart from this being a damning condemnation of the one-man Vanni regime it has all the features of the seemingly impenetrable Soviet Union that collapsed under the weight of its own crimes. It is not the external enemies of the regime that is going to be its undoing – and there are may even among the ranks of the Tamils – but the internal dynamics generated by the fascist oppression of the Tamil people on an unprecedented scale.
So is long overdue revolt from within round the corner? The visible signs indicate that the time has come, after three decades of oppression and suffering, for the Tamil people to cry enough is enough. The list of horrors drawn up by Anandasangaree points to the fact that Prabhakaran has pushed the Tamils to extremes and he cannot expect the Tamil to sacrifice any more without facing a revolt. The Tamils have a right to ask as to why they should be forced to sacrifice more and more for a goal which Prabhakaran can't deliver. The early myths that glorified him as a "liberator" are coming apart exposing him as the fabled emperor with fine clothes. Further evidence of the new anti-Prabhkaran trend is seen in the Tamil people leaving Tiger territory and moving over to the government controlled areas.
The message in Anandasangaree's statement that the Tamils of Vanni are eager to welcome a friendly, liberating army is an ominous sign. It sounds amost like the death rattle of Prabhakaran. This means that the Tiger fish (a la Mao) are no longer swimming in a friendly Tamil sea. The worsening conditions around Prabhakaran also means that he will be forced to impose more and more repressive measures to face the external challenges as well as to keep a lid on rising Tamil dissension. If, as stated by Anandasangaree, "every house-hold had been ordered to give at least one member to be recruited to their fighting cadre" then it indicates that Prabhakaran is in dire straits. Poi-kiya-sothy Saravanamuttu, head of the Centre for Policy Alternative, was crowing in the past that the Army was faced with increased desertions. His columns now maintain a studied silence on the horrors faced by the Tamils under the regime of Prabhakaran. Poi-kiya-sothy obviously will find the truth revealed by Anandasangaree quite distasteful.
Increasing oppression of the Tamil people is on the cards because the Vanni regime will have to fall back on the blood, sweat and tears of the imprisoned Vanni Tamils -- the last remaining source of manpower for Prabhakaran. Over the years he has lost the commanding grip he had on the Tamil comunity. He has weakened his position by not only dividing the Tamil community into two regional blocs of the north and the east but also by his callous disregard for Tamil intellectuals and the influential northern community. The unberable force of the ruthless Tiger juggernaut is driving the Tamils to look for an alternative and Anandasangaree, Douglas Devananda and to some extent even Karuna Aman have been gathering momentum as the next emerging force in Tamil politics.
Since Eelam is not a viable proposition any longer the Tamil violence is now seen as a brutal force to save Prabhakaran and not the Tamils. In putting himself before the interests of the Tamils he has lost the momentum that brought him to the peak of CFA. The early enthusiasm for "the boys" is now replaced by a weary disillusionment that is yearning to see an end to his ruthless and unending violence pursued with no hope of reaching the promised goal of a separate, mono-ethnic state for the Tamils.
Anandasangaree is articulating that frustrations and hopelessness of the Tamils who, in the pithy words of the poet Vairamuttu's haiku, went for the silk verti and lost even the loin cloth.