Martrydom in Tamil kingdom


by Sunny
15th June, 2006 at 10:19 am    

Update: I didn’t know at the time of posting that 60 people have died in SL because of a landmine bomb on a school bus. Truely sad.

BBC Online has an article on the culture of discipline, death and martyrdom amongst the Tamil Tigers and their fight for “liberation”. There is some talk about how everyone carries a little cyanide capsule with them because death is better than capture.

“We need to bite into the glass so that it will cut the skin on the inside of our mouth.” His calm, detached explanation is unsettling.

“Then the cyanide goes into the bloodstream. We’ll be feeling a fizzing at the back of our mouth after about seven seconds and then we die.”

They are led by the reclusive Velupillai Prabhakaran, accused of building an organisation around a personality cult. He is called the great leader and his picture is everywhere in rebel held areas.

Anyone who wants to join the suicide Black Tiger squad has to write him a letter of application. Before they carry out their suicide missions they are granted a meal with him. Religion is banned, as is alcohol and smoking. By claiming to be the sole representatives of the Tamil people, he has steeped the entire culture into one of self-sacrifice and martyrdom.

Many Tamils see the Tigers as a necessary evil. Time and again I have heard this view expressed: “I don’t agree with them totally, but as a Tamil we would have been wiped out without them putting our cause on the map.”

The last paragraph is interesting in the way it can relate to every murderous organisation, whether state sanctioned or some religious nutters.

My view is however that tolerating “necessary evil” is a bad idea. You either forge a path with the right ideals from the beginning or you will forever be enveloped in evil. Hence I don’t buy any ideology that says suicide bombers are necessary to make the people’s voices heard. The violence ends up being so central to the struggle that it takes over and finds justification even if the goal has been achieved. Just say no kids.


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  1. Suzzy — on 15th June, 2006 at 11:04 am  

    Same with most of these types of organisations – a seed of a legitimate cause becomes wrapped up with things that make it worse and then the violence becomes a self perpetuating thing and they become oppressors themselves.

  2. raz — on 15th June, 2006 at 11:30 am  

    61 people just got blown up in Sri Lanka :(

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/5082026.stm

  3. StrangelyPsychedelique/Kesara — on 15th June, 2006 at 12:25 pm  

    Many Tamils see the Tigers as a necessary evil. Time and again I have heard this view expressed: “I don’t agree with them totally, but as a Tamil we would have been wiped out without them putting our cause on the map.”

    That is complete and utter rubbish. I’ve not met a single rich/poor/catholic/muslim/hindu/eastern/western Tamil in SL who’s said that.
    They’re implying genocide???

    If Tamils faced such a threat from the average Sinhalese/Muslim/Burgher we’d have no population left by now.

    Nice article Sunny, I’d add that recruiting child soldiers to do ones bidding is an even greater evil than suicide bombings. Esp given that theyre far easier to indoctrinate.

  4. raz — on 15th June, 2006 at 12:34 pm  

    Interesting to see the complete silence from the Harry’s Place/Euston Manifesto crowd on this terrorist threat.

  5. j0nz — on 15th June, 2006 at 12:37 pm  

    Shocking news. 61 dead.

    The state fights back though

    Shortly after news of the attack emerged, the Sri Lankan military launched air strikes in rebel-held areas of Sampur and Kilinochchi.

    Soldiers attend the dead body of a colleague in hospital
    Sri Lanka’s ceasefire exists in name only, analysts say

    The pro-Tiger TamilNet website said two air force bombers had begun bombing rebel-controlled Mullaitivu and its suburbs.

    Good.

  6. j0nz — on 15th June, 2006 at 12:38 pm  

    Sorry I didn’t mean the middle sentence to be there.

  7. Roger — on 15th June, 2006 at 1:00 pm  

    How many other Sri Lankans would accept wiping the Tamils out now when they wouldn’t before though?
    Is Sri Lankan Tamil culture worth preserving if it now consists of nothing but “self-sacrifice and martyrdom”?

  8. Janapathi — on 15th June, 2006 at 1:17 pm  

    LTTE have denied the latest attack. This is what they have said and international media has freely published.

    “The Sri Lankan armed forces are using various paramilitary groups. They are engaged in a lot of claymore attacks, penetrative attacks, against the LTTE, against the Tamil civilians, in the north-east,” Mr Puleedevan said”

    These are the facts to prove his above statement.
    http://www.lankapolitics.com/blog/2006/06/aliens-killed-thousands-of-innocent.html

    The guy must be still drunk from free Whisky, Brandy served by the Srilankan crew during the yesterdays FREE trip from Oslo.

    From airport to the jungle, Sri Lanka military helicopter accompanied them.
    So this is how they said THANK YOU.

    BTW, they have Sri Lankan passports and without them no country takes them in.

    BTW, No one should get panicked. This is a hoax and no bomb blast took place in Sri Lanka.

    So what’s happening in Sri Lanka?
    http://www.lankapolitics.com/blog/2006/06/sri-lanka-bus-bomb-blast-is-hoax.html

  9. aadhavan — on 15th June, 2006 at 2:03 pm  

    what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I do recall that a couple of months ago when the likes of pararajasingham and prior to that kaushalyan were kelled, the government were quivk to note the operation of paramilitary groups in the northeast were to be blamed. I’m just wondering whether this whole move on the government has backfired. Violence unleashed on the tamils in the past spawned the violence unleaashed by the ltte. GOSL may take note to prevent the emergence of another monster in the form of paramilitaries, unless the GOSL is fairly confident that it controls sufficiently the activities of these groups and there’s no risk of a revolt!!

  10. Lewis — on 15th June, 2006 at 5:03 pm  

    PHOTOS OF THE BOMB BLAST

    (NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED)

    http://defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20060615_04

  11. Ravana — on 15th June, 2006 at 8:28 pm  

    Aadhavan, my man, the difference is that nobody in their right mind is going to beleive the LTTE now are they? The LTTE is a terrorist group banned worldwide. The humanrightswatch came out with a damning report against them in April. Case closed. Do you even believe them?

    http://ravana.wordpress.com/2006/06/15/give-the-sinhalese-a-fcking-break/

  12. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 1:51 am  

    Ravana,

    Excellent post in your blog. I liked this especially:

    There are many Sinhalese who mull over the past foolishness and mistakes of their community, while constantly judging the actions of the government and political parties in terms of how much it would promote peace. Despite the fifteen percent or so who vote for the JHU and the JVP (voting JVP is generally due to misplaced economics), the majority of Sinhalese actually detest the JHU and the JVP. Do Tamils similarly question their own community? Do they openly denounce the claim of sole representation made by the LTTE? Do they consider giving up their call for a federal state the same way many Sinhalese now think anything is worth the price of peace? Except for a handful of prominent of activists, politicians and one blogger, I find that as a general rule – they do not. Yes, I am aware that I am grossly stereotyping here, but stereotypes are based on a kernel of truth, aren’t they?

  13. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 1:59 am  

    >>Interesting to see the complete silence from the Harry’s Place/Euston Manifesto crowd on this terrorist threat.

    That may be because of the localised nature of the terrorism, raz. It is only singhalese and tamils being killed in SL, not affecting any whites. Same silence on, say, South Thailand violence or Indian marxist uprising.

  14. aadhavan — on 16th June, 2006 at 2:13 am  

    Ravana, accepted. Not everyone believes the LTTE. I don’t believe the LTTE fully and neither do I believe the government. The fact is that if the only resposibilty of the government is to pin blame for attcks on the LTTE and get away with, they’re doing alright – not amazing – just alright. However, if what they want is to protect innocent lives, they’re not doing too well are they?

    I can’t comment on whether ltte are terrorists for want of a universal definition of “terrorist”. I certainly won’t castigate them as such just because the international community led by America thinks so – I have less faith in these countries than most I guess and doubt their bona fides. What I do see is two parties (or three) who have lost concern for civilians and are engaging in violence which causes terror among the people – one because it thinks the ends justifies the means and the other because it has no concern for the people it calls its civilians. Are both terrorists? Is Bin Laden a terrorist, then how about Bush and the kilo company? and those who perpetrated the my lai massacre? My guess is that if you adopt an objective criterion, you’ll realize they all are, so the usage of the term is just a tool to malign people you don’t like and thus ultimately useless.

  15. Sunny — on 16th June, 2006 at 3:35 am  

    I especially love the tagline on Ravana’s blog. Sheer genius.

  16. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 6:21 am  

    Hey Aadhavan,

    There is so much equivocation in your post above! If you support the LTTE, be man enough to come straight out with it and say so. Yes, the cease fire monitors do say that there are indications of the GOSL aiding the breakway tiger factions and yes, military abuse of human rights do occur. But scale and perspective are important criteria which cannot be junked just cause you want your side vindicated at all costs.

    For me, the LTTE stopped being a ’cause’ and became pretty straightforward thugs and murderers when they started eliminating other TAMILS. When was that? Almost from their inception. Says something about about them, doesn’t it? The SL Tamil cause has been deeply tainted by the LTTE and their supporters. No surprise then that you get comments like this :

    >>Is Sri Lankan Tamil culture worth preserving if it now consists of nothing but “self-sacrifice and martyrdom”?

  17. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 6:24 am  

    quick aside: We ‘ave a “kilo company” in our armed forces too. It’s for all the fat boys drafted in(compulsory military service for all 18 year olds); the poor dears do an additional six months of training to get into shape.

  18. aadhavan — on 16th June, 2006 at 7:42 am  

    Mirax,
    I have just learnt that not taking sides on this issue makes one an ltte supporter! Whatever happened to moderates.
    So the LTTE are thugs and murderers becasue they kil other Tamils. Fine. But are the armed forces also thugs and murderes because they kill and killed Tamils who they still claim to represent. If killing people you claim to represent is the criterion of a terrorist, then both LTTE and GOSL fit the bill perfectly. What is the cause that gets tainted due to the Government killings by the way? The Sri Lankan cause or the armed forces cause or the Sinhalese cause?

    Tamil culture has survived for thousands of years and does not require your protection, Thank you.

  19. Roger — on 16th June, 2006 at 12:58 pm  

    “Do Tamils similarly question their own community? Do they openly denounce the claim of sole representation made by the LTTE?”
    Given the LTTE’s methods, how long would they live if they did?

  20. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 3:33 pm  

    >>Given the LTTE’s methods, how long would they live if they did?

    The SL Tamil diaspora that supports the LTTE with cash for weapons can repudiate the LTTE (not the tamil cause) with little cost- they are safe enough from Tiger retaliation. What’s their excuse? Quite a few of them are internet warriors, glorifying in the LTTE’s bloodletting. OTOH, that may merely be symptomatic of one of the SL Tamils’ least endearing qualities – their killer competitive spirit. I kid you not, you have to know them to believe this.

    “We aren’t just run of the mill guerillas; we’re the planet’s deadliest, meanest mofos!”

  21. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 3:44 pm  

    >Tamil culture has survived for thousands of years and does not require your protection, Thank you.

    Phew, that’s a relief! I’m so grateful at being let off the hook, as I’m actually more keen on demolishing a fair bit of ass backward thinking that’s passed off as Tamil culture.

    May I also remind you that Tamil culture is the preserve of a people of whom 90% are not linked in way or form to SL? IOW, you guys were literally in the backwaters the last coupla millenia…

  22. Ananthan — on 16th June, 2006 at 5:08 pm  

    “I’m actually more keen on demolishing a fair bit of ass backward thinking that’s passed off as Tamil culture.”

    Are you saying support for the LTTE has become an aspect of tamil culture?

    “Tamil culture is the preserve of a people of whom 90% are not linked in way or form to SL? IOW, you guys were literally in the backwaters the last coupla millenia…”

    When did this expand from criticizing the LTTE to insulting sri lankan tamils and our culture? This seems like a particularly bitter angle to take in this debate.

    Many Tamils see the Tigers as a necessary evil. Time and again I have heard this view expressed: “I don’t agree with them totally, but as a Tamil we would have been wiped out without them putting our cause on the map.”

    That is complete and utter rubbish. I’ve not met a single rich/poor/catholic/muslim/hindu/eastern/western Tamil in SL who’s said that.”

    It’s actually a common refrain; i’ve heard it a lot. That doesn’t mean the LTTE is good though. They are the only ones standing between the SLA (a force many of you wrongly seem to assume is more accountable and less vicious than the tigers) and the tamil people. At the same time the LTTE eliminated most others who could have defended tamils… rock and hard place once again.

  23. aadhavan — on 16th June, 2006 at 5:31 pm  

    mirax,
    you’ve exposed yourself for who you really are. A tamil hater. That’s all right, vent all your hatred towards the Tamils on the LTTE, so you won’t have to have an outlet for your frustration by murdering, robbing and killing Tamils while looting their houses.

  24. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 6:48 pm  

    >>Are you saying support for the LTTE has become an aspect of tamil culture?

    If you pay attention and read upthread carefully, Ananthan, you will notice it is aadhavan at #18 who implied such and I am irresistibly drawn to pushing his buttons ;-) . Why should that impertinent twat speak for anyone other than himself? I am merely reminding him of his proper place in the grand scheme of things, sorry for the broadswipe at SL Tamils.

  25. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 6:49 pm  

    #23 blithering idiot.

  26. mirax — on 16th June, 2006 at 6:52 pm  

    >>“I’m actually more keen on demolishing a fair bit of ass backward thinking that’s passed off as Tamil culture.”

    Oh, in case it is not clear to you, Ananthan, I am Tamil myself and perfectly entitled to reject, mock, ridicule any bit of my own culture.

  27. Roger — on 16th June, 2006 at 7:26 pm  

    “By claiming to be the sole representatives of the Tamil people, he has steeped the entire culture into one of self-sacrifice and martyrdom.”
    If he has succeeded is it a culture worth preserving?

    Mirax: The Tamil exiles may be safe from retaliation, except perhaps ostracism and isolation- but they have families and relatives in SL probably. All the same there is often an attitude of “They may be bastards but they’re our bastards.” and a certain second-hand thrill at the thought of killers and murder: I knew wealthy Peruvians who were fans of the Shining Path, who were up there with the TT when it came to brutality and futile cruelty.

  28. Ravi4 — on 17th June, 2006 at 9:24 am  

    Sorry to join the discussion so late yet again. Damn employers. Just because they pay you they expect you to actually do some work for them. That’s capitalists for you.

    This thread seems to have become depressingly dominated by extremes. Let me start by saying that I’m a Brit of Sri Lankan Tamil origin with relatives still living there. And I have no fear in expressing my utter condemnation of the LTTE. I’m not totally open with my identity here because of my typically expat Sri Lankan Tamil obsession with protecting my career. But I make my views known very clearly whenever relevant to all who care to listen in my private and professional life and to my SL Tamil friends and family including in SL. See my comments on Brit SL Tamils and the LTTE that Sunny posted to PP some time ago ( http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/536 )

    Like Ananthan, I find that the opinion of the LTTE held by most SL Tamils I know in UK and SL range from sympathy (as Roger said “they may be bastards but they’re our bastard”) to full support (“saviours and protectors of our race and homeland”). However, I’m finding that my views – total condemnation and lack of support for the LTTE – are increasingly shared by other SL Tamil expats (I can’t say the same for SL Tamils), largely because of the LTTE connivance in the election of Rajapakse and the various acts of violence that they’ve been guilty of since.

    But let’s be clear – the SL Govt forces are guilty of continuing serious violence and other human rights abuses against civilians, including by proxy through their support for Karuna’s splinter Tiger faction. No doubt not all of this is with the full knowledge and support of the Govt – the SL military has never been totally controllable by civilian authority. But the SL Govt does seem to be doing precious little to tackle the abuses by their security forces. And yes Aadhavan I would term these acts by the SL security forces as state terrorism.

    And I have no sympathy at all for the self-deluding idiots who support JVP and JHU on Ravana’s site. Yes it’s good that JVP and JHU are engaged in mainstream politics. But to deny their links to the continuing ethnic violence in SL is as naïve as saying the BNP has absolutely nothing to do with continuing racist violence in the UK.

    And Roger, your question “Is Sri Lankan Tamil culture worth preserving” is totally crass. Yes Prabakharan has foully distorted important sections of SL Tamil opinion, mainly by killing those who disagree with him. But does that justify your call for – what? Genocide against SL Tamils? In which case, when do me and my family get our tickets for the gas chambers?

    But I totally disagree with Aadhavan’s infantile assertion that depraved behaviour by the SL forces and some Sinhala political groups somehow excuses or justifies depraved behaviour by the Tigers. The LTTE and the Tamil cause attracted much greater international legitimacy and support when they were pursuing peaceful negotiation. The UK Govt was under increasing pressure to de-proscribe the LTTE after the 2002 ceasefire. All that’s gone now.

    The LTTE need to be the major negotiating partner in the peace process because they are the major problem in terms of violence. That does not make them “legitimate”. They are a militaristic bunch of brainwashed thugs. And – please excuse this display of SL Tamil expat snobbery – they’re a bunch of thickos too. I mean, their strategy of boycotting elections to engineer a Rajapakse victory thus justifying return to war was too transparent for words. It could only have been thought up by a knuckle-headed mustachio’d village boy like our great leader Vellupillai. (Sorry, being snobbish there again.)

    The independent Eelam that the LTTE want to build would be a vicious one-party military dictatorship, with a stagnant North Korea style state owned economy, totally dominated by the Cult of Prabakharan – every single law already has to be personally approved by the Great Leader ( http://www.eelamjudicial.org/English.htm ). How could the argumentative, opinionated, education-obsessed, enterprising, wheeling-dealing SL Tamil people that I know live with that?

    SL Tamils deserve the right to a full free choice on self-determination – eg a referendum offering full independence. The poisonous legacy of the last 30-50 years of inter-ethnic violence is too bitter and too deep for anything less.

    But more of us SL Tamils – including those of us who live outside SL and who may be thinking of funding the SL Tamil cause – need to DEMAND from the LTTE:

    - an end to the bombing and targeting of civilians

    - unambiguous commitment to peaceful means (direct self-defence excepted)

    - democratic choice of leadership, with total political pluralism and freedom of speech

    - respect for individual rights, rule of law, and judicial independence

    Like lots of SL Tamil expat professionals, I send money back for various reasons to North SL. But if there ever is a free Eelam, I certainly would not take my family to visit, nor would I give it money if it wasn’t at least trying minimally to meet the standards above – standards which lots of third world countries that had to fight for their liberty manage to meet.

    Sorry, as usual way too verbose.

    Ravi4

  29. raz — on 17th June, 2006 at 11:35 am  
  30. Roger — on 17th June, 2006 at 7:27 pm  

    “And Roger, your question “Is Sri Lankan Tamil culture worth preserving” is totally crass. Yes Prabakharan has foully distorted important sections of SL Tamil opinion, mainly by killing those who disagree with him. But does that justify your call for – what? Genocide against SL Tamils? In which case, when do me and my family get our tickets for the gas chambers?”
    Sorry. I expressed myself badly. You forget, Ravi, I said “If he [Velupillai Prabhakaran]has succeeded…”. Your post is evidence that he has not. I wasn’t thinking of physical genocide but of the limited and warped culture that the Tigers have produced- for the creation- or re-creation of another Sri Lankan Tamil culture.

  31. Ravi4 — on 19th June, 2006 at 7:48 pm  

    Roger – apologies if I overreacted. This is one of those issues which pushes all my Mr Angry buttons…

  32. Ravana — on 20th June, 2006 at 10:20 pm  

    Roger – There is no danger involved in expresssing your thoughts online. Even if LTTE reactions need to feared in meatspace, out here on blogs we have every right to expect moderate Tamils to openly express their views without fear of reprisal.

  33. Roger — on 21st June, 2006 at 9:13 am  

    The fact that Ravi misunderstood my opinions is evidence thatI hadn’t expressed them clearly. It doesn’t matter on the internet, but i think that we peaceful and civilsed people on the ‘net ought to set an example to the men with guns. If they misunderstand what people say- or are not clear in what they say- the consequences could be literally fatal.

  34. mirax — on 27th June, 2006 at 8:39 am  

    PBS screening of film about Dr Rajani Thiranagama, assassinated by the LTTE:

    http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2006/nomoretears/about.html

    >>But more of us SL Tamils – including those of us who live outside SL and who may be thinking of funding the SL Tamil cause – need to DEMAND from the LTTE:

    - an end to the bombing and targeting of civilians

    - unambiguous commitment to peaceful means (direct self-defence excepted)

    - democratic choice of leadership, with total political pluralism and freedom of speech

    - respect for individual rights, rule of law, and judicial independence>>

    Ravi, that demand should have been made at least two decades ago. The LTTE have irreparably tainted the SL Tamil cause.

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