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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Filed in: South Asia,Sri Lanka