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Friday, 17 August 2018
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The Diaspora created the Tigers; not vice-versa PDF Print E-mail
Note by the Editors: While Prabhakaran had the guns and was ready to shoot anything from squirrels to the Mayor of Jaffna and also conduct bank raids and entrust the spoils with Catholic priests, the Diaspora gave him the halo of a freedom fighter. It was revenge-killing for all that happened in 1983.

Apart from stating it was a cause for a state of Eelam with which the Diaspora was not going to be involved, Prabhakaran had no political ideology whatsoever - no appreciation of another's view, no tolerance and no cmpassion. He forced even kids he enrolled to wear the cyanide pellet and forced them to take it, the coward that he was, he never did that himself. Unlike the brave soldiers about whom writers have sung in verse hailing their bravery, Prabhakaran ran for his life and was downed in a marsh of lagoon waters. Some people even try to cover up this cowardice, cowardice of a man who treated his own people as a deadly and inhuman weapon of war - human shield - many times.  

While agreeing with much of what John Thompson (‘What Next for the Tamil Tigers?’, 8 June) says, I should point out that he is wrong on two counts:

(1) He refers to the Tigers as a ‘guerrilla army’. In fact the LTTE has been fighting as a conventional army for at least a decade. It has used units as guerrillas for some operations, and has waged urban guerrilla war against the civilian population of the south. However, that does not make it a guerrilla army - the Sri Lanka army has used guerrilla tactics as well, after all.

I think this fallacy is quite common outside Sri Lanka, which accounts for much of the condemnation of the Sri Lanka government. Foreigners think of the Army pounding a bunch of ragged guerrillas and their associated civilian population. They don’t realise that the LTTE was a highly sophisticated military machine, with modern equipment, often better than that on the government side. The fighting was sustained and bloody and it is to the credit of the soldiers of the Army that they prevailed.

(2) He says that the LTTE did not initially have a Diaspora for support and that they created one. Actually, there was a pretty large community in Britain in the 1960s, and it was in London and Manchester that the separatist movement had its genesis - not in Jaffna.

The ‘Movement’ in Britain levied up to one third of a person’s income, using part of it to finance students to go to Britain, for whom it would find employment so that they could in turn hand over part of their earnings to the Movement. The Movement also built up a superb propaganda machine.

While I was a student in London in the 1970s, I was a witness to this process. Alas, if it had been a pan-Sri Lankan movement it could have achieved wonders. The Movement was originally socialist-oriented, but Anton Balasingham was instrumental in replacing this with a purely Tamil-nationalist ideology.

Although the Tamil New Tigers was formed in 1972, it was incapable of anything apart from the murder of Alfred Durraiappah until after 1977. It was the diaspora which created the Tigers, not vice-versa. It was the network which had been built up by the Movement in Britain which enabled the LTTE to grow strong.

The LTTE was helped by the stupidity of the JR Jayewardene government. The pogrom of 1983 in particular drove large numbers of Tamils out of the country and into the arms of the LTTE, enabling it to take over the Movement, like Frankenstein being overpowered by his creation.

Today the Tigers’ hold on the Diaspora is so strong, the members of the latter so brain-washed, that many of them are unaware that there was an ‘Eelam Flag’ which did not have the Tiger emblem on it!

By Vinod Moonesinghe

Courtesy: The Island 

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