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Sri Lanka: Bloggers react to the death of the LTTE leader

The government of Sril Lanka announced via state media and SMS today (Monday, May 18, 2009) afternoon that the leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Vellupillai Prabhakaran, is dead. News media are reporting that Prabhakaran, who was at the helm of one of the world's most violent rebellions, was killed by rocket grenade while in a van with the head of the LTTE's navy, Soosai, and the LTTE intelligence chief, Pottu Amman. The body of the rebel leader will undergo DNA tests to confirm identity. About 250 members of the Tamil Tigers were reportedly killed in the final surge of fighting in the country's 26-year-old war.

Obituaries of Prabhakaran note that he was a hero to some and a ruthless killer to others. The BBC writes, “To his followers, Vellupillai Prabhakaran was a freedom fighter struggling for Tamil emancipation. To his adversaries he was a secretive megalomaniac with a complete disregard for human life.” The Hindu in India says, “A ‘freedom fighter’ for his supporters and a dreaded terrorist for others, Prabhakaran was wanted by Interpol and many other organisations since 1990 for terrorism, murder and organised crime.” Long before the world was aware of Osama Bin Laden or Al-Qaeda, Prabhakaran started to use a new method of guerrilla warfare, suicide bombing. This cover story on Tehelka magazine reveals a lot about this war lord.

The Blogger of Beyond Skin explains it this way:

First reaction: WHAAA! [goosebumps and jaw-drop and an overwhelmingly contradictory feeling of both dread and relief.]

Second reaction: Now what? After 26 years of fighting, after displacing and killing hundreds of thousands, after silencing those who dissent against both the government and the LTTE through assassinations, torture and disappearance, what now of the Tamil people?

United National Party organizer Ajith P. Perera wrote in his own obituary for Prabhakaran in his blog, Dare to be different: “He was a terrorist, no doubt, but Prabhakaran deserves an obituary, even in a language he barely understood,” Perera wrote.

Did he achieve anything worthwhile for his community? The answer is a big NO. Ethnic (Jaffna) Tamils are worse off than they were in 1970s. More than half of the Tamil population has already left for good. Thousands of Tamil families had to live with eternal grief of losing one or more family members. Ethnic Tamils, the largest minority in Sri Lanka then, has now reduced to the pathetic third place after Muslims and Indian Tamils. Jaffna, the second most advanced city in Sri Lanka, with its famous education system, is now far behind. As a community Tamils, at least the unfortunate ones to still remain, have moved ten or twenty years backward. They were termed as terrorists across the world. North and East have become more and more economically dependent on Colombo. At least for the next few years, till a UNP government implements a political solution, they will be remotely controlled from Colombo. All thanks to Prabhakaran.

Sri Lankan Tamil activist and former LTTE member Nirmala Rajasingam explains in an opinion piece in The Independent that her sister was murdered by the LTTE 20 years ago.

For that reason, the news of the demise of the LTTE's top leadership – which ordered her killing and the killings of many other Tamil dissenters – brings overwhelming relief. The war and carnage has at last stopped and the insistent bloodletting of Tamil dissent is now over.

But she cautions:

The continued refusal of full access to humanitarian agencies does not allay suspicions about the government's intentions toward the refugees and the LTTE cadres who have surrendered. The last three years have seen a large number of abductions, extrajudicial killings and disappearances, almost exclusively targeting the Tamil community as the government of Sri Lanka relentlessly pursued its military campaign. The militarisation of state and society has been able to suppress dissent in the south, even mounting attacks on journalists. We wait to see whether the government will reverse this downward spiral in democratic governance.

Blogger and columnist Indi Samarajiva used Twitter to discuss the death of Prabhakaran while he was traveling. He posted messages to his Twitter page on Monday afternoon:

is in Hambantota. Fire crackers. Seems Prabhakaran is dead. No glory in death, but, well, good. May Sri Lanka rebuild #fb

they're lighting firecrackers literally meters from the gas cylinder depot. The fishmongers are yelling to get back to work.

Hambantota town is mostly Muslim, back to business. Flag convoys thru Ambalantota. War's over, Prabha's dead. Long live Sri Lanka #fb

Prahalathan KK, a blogger in Chennai, India, says that rejoicing in Prabhakaran's death is a diservice to the civilians killed in order to make the LTTE's defeat possible.

“So Prabhakaran the Terrorist has been killed. Happy? Rejoicing? Ever thought of the thousands of innocent Tamils who were slaughtered by the indiscriminate use of artillery and chemical weapons by the Sri Lankan army during the Genocidal war?”

According to the Ministry of Defence website, the almost 150,000 civilians who have fled the war zone in less than a month are being cared for by the army. But The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the only independent organization that has had access to civilians in the conflict zone, called the situation “nothing short of catastrophic.” Today, they in a news release that the they have not had access to civilians in the north-east for nine days. “This is all the more urgent since no humanitarian aid has reached those who need it for over a week,” said director of operations, Pierre Krähenbühl. Selvarasa Pathmanathan, head of the LTTE’s International Diplomatic Relations, released a statement on Sunday announcing that the Tigers will “silence our guns to save our people.” He said that 3,000 civilians have died and 25,000 are injured.

Prominent South Asian diaspora blog Sepia Mutiny reports on continuing protests in Canada. In a post about a gathering in Winnipeg. Melvin writes:

They held candles, signs, black flags and pictures of children whom they see as victims of the Sri Lankan government’s assault on civilians. While people in Colombo and elsewhere celebrated the apparent end of the 25-year civil war, those at the vigil mourned the deaths of innocent people and wondered what, if anything, had been solved. “It doesn’t solve anything,” Singarajah said. “People’s grievances aren’t going to be over. This government is so ruthless. They don’t want to give us our rights. As long as that is the case, the problems will go on.”

Protests have been ongoing in London, many parts of Canada and more recently in Australia. But activist Rajasingam cautioned in Foreign Policy magazine that the Tamil diaspora has taken a misguided approach to its message:

As Sri Lanka's humanitarian crisis unfolds, the international community must make its message clear and forthright. The Tigers and the diaspora that supports them have no claim as the “sole representation” of the Tamil people. Nor is secession a reasonable option. Anything more superficial than this firm engagement will play into the hands of the LTTE lobby in the West — and inflame Sinhala nationalists in Sri Lanka. Only this firm message will serve the cause of peace and democracy.

At Moving Images, Moving People! blogger Nalaka Gunawardene says that he wants to believe that the war is truly over:

Sure, there is no independent verification – it has been a war without witnesses for the last few years. But I am willing to take an unusual leap of faith if that’s what it takes to usher in the long-elusive peace. I will go to the ends of the earth, and suspend disbelief if I have to, in return for lasting and meaningful peace.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa is scheduled to address Parliament and the nation on Tuesday morning.

  • Vicky

    Please see what the following article says.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/asia/2009/05/sri-lanka-pilger-british-tamil

    You have failed to take into account the voice of the suppressed Tamils. You, a citizen’s journal have just taken the majority voice. Where can we go to make our unheard voices heard? We can only talk about what is happening behind closed doors. Such is the reality.

  • RAJASEKARAN.P

    FINALLY PRBAKARAN’S ACTIONS SHOWED THAT TERRORISM IS NOT A SOLUTIONS FOR HUMANITARIAN CRISIS. DAYS BACK HE WAS A HERO, NOW HE IS VERY ZERO.ALL THIS WHILE HIS EFFORTS BECOME WORKING FOR NOTHING. MAY PEACE BE UPON HIM.LEARN LESSONS FROM LEADERS LIKE GANDHI, MANDELA, LINCOLN ETC ETC.LADENS AND PRABHAS ARE LESSONS NOT TO ADOPT BUT TO AVOID.
    Rajasekaran.p

    • abey

      I agree with your focus & comment!
      Every srilankans should think about the peace & unity now. still the Rage has no place , neither no out come of progress through the Rage or Hurt others as Some VIP mentioned earlier this month in London.
      Why not join developing Srilanka than ruin it again.

  • A

    I suggest you check out http://www.kottu.org for what the Sri Lankans are REALLY going through. While, the opinions of those outside the country DO matter, its those who’ve been touched by the war in some form, who know what its like to constantly live in fear, to lose a loved one in a bomb and see your country bleed to death that have a clearer view of the bigger picture.

    Just my opinion.

  • Sudaharan

    Are Tamils live in other countries back to Sri Lanka.

  • Indee

    Short story on the Sri Lankan War situation which ended this week:
    It all started with a smuggler – V. Prabakaran turning into a terrorist. Newly formed LTTE (Liberation of Tamil Tigers Eelam) terrorist organization was then headed by V. Prabakaran from there onwards, carrying out their terrorist operations in the North of Sri Lanka.
    Sri Lanka being an island with a majority of Sinhalese ethnic community together with Tamil and Muslim minorities, we have been a peaceful country where all these ethnic groups lived in harmony. Surely, the Sinhalese people and Tamil people may have their differences when it comes to the language they speak, religion and culture. But that was never a barrier for people to get along with each other and live in harmony. With the Tamil tiger terrorists giving rise to the civil war back in 1980’s ruined the very meaning of the harmony our country had. They published and spread distorted stories from the beginning, tarnishing the image of Sri Lankan Sinhalese community saying they ill-treat Tamil people, which is a big fat lie.
    The LTTE went by saying- ‘Genocide of Tamils’. But they were the people who created the path for the genocide of Tamils: By using innocent Tamil children forcefully in the north of Sri Lanka as ‘Child Soldiers’ and brainwashing innocent Tamil girls into Suicide bombers and demanding money from the poor Tamil people in North and East of Sri Lanka. They even silenced all Tamils who did not support them, including the former Foreign Minister. The LTTE leader (V. Prabakaran) and his family lead a very comfortable life, while his child soldiers and cadres were forced into the bitter life.
    Then who are the so called Tamils who actually support them? It is a selfish bunch of rich Pro-LTTE Tamils living in countries like Canada, Norway, and UK and predominantly in the State of Tamilnadu (India), who actually support them with the selfish lust to grab the small piece of land that we have in the Sri Lankan Island, to make their ‘own Tamil State in the world’ – ‘The Ealam’. Most of them are not even Sri Lankan Tamils; they are probably Indians from Tamilnadu state. So these people want their ‘own’ piece of land. Well, don’t they have enough and more already in the state of Tamilnadu (Which is predominantly populated by Tamil speaking community)? Is it right to blast innocent Sri Lankan civilians with bombs in buses and trains, spread big fat lies about Sinhalese around the world, harass Sri Lankan Sinhalese living abroad and kill world leaders including Sri Lankan leaders for this mere selfish cause?
    Did the LTTE (the so called freedom fighters of Tamils) care about its Tamil people when they used their own as ‘Human Shields’ when the war reached its critical stage? Did their international supporters care a damn about the Tamil IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons)? There is a possibility that LTTE people are among these IDPs. But still it was the Sri Lankan people themselves who helped the IDPs, irrespective of their ethnicity and the risky possibility.
    18th of May 2009 was the memorable day that the war between the Sri Lankan Govt. and the LTTE terrorists ended. It was a great victory after nearly three decades. It was the first war in the world where so many civilians were rescued from the war hit zone as well.
    We are now – One Nation, One Country, under One Flag. And together all of us Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims in the country rise up as SRI LANKANS!

    No one should believe the distorted stories that comes your way from the Pro -LTTE Tamils & Media.

    • elara

      i would like to reply to one gentleman named indee who has termed people who are supporting a separate tamil nation as tamils living in canada,england and tamils of tamil nadu.never in my life i have seen a ethnic group being so parachiolistic as sinhalese who have dragged buddha and buddhism in to this conflict which has lasted for more than fifty years.it has to be kept in mind that tamils of srilanka had to wage a struggle for a separate nation only after exhausting other options if “native”(lol) sinhalese had accepted the legitimate demands of tamils this conflict would not have risen unfortunately sinhalese politicians never heeded the words of moderate tamil voices and thus they got tamil extremism which they never anticipated.sinhalese polity and people have to realise one thing that if they dont fulfill the aspirations of minorities in your country soon u will find other minorities also to rise against the oppression.last but not least dont drag buddha or buddhism becoz budha was born in india and he died in india hence in sinhalese perspective he cant interfere in sri lankan affairs .

  • http://www.poemhunter.com/nimaldunuhinga nimal dunuhinga

    If the mass killer doesn’t have a last will then the body should go to one of the sympathizers,when he was alive there were a lot but now they white washed and kept quiet it seems.

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  • Che Guevera

    Prabhakaran is the greatest leader for Tamils since RAJA RAJA CHOLA.

    PRABHAKARAN HAS FOUGHT FOR HIS BELIEFS AND VALUES FOR WHICH HE STOOD FOR

    When Shivaji fought the Mughals it started with insurgency. You cannot fight a state power without guerilla tactics – that does not make one a terrorist. We should salute a brave man who has gone down. IPKF had handed over LTTE people to Sri Lanka who then executed them. That was the beginning of the LTTE turning anti India. That they stand up with dignity and dont take shit does not make them an enemy. We lose a thousand soldiers at Kargil and yet dont take the war to the enemy. Not everyone is as spineless as that. I am proud to share my Indian nationality with the brave Tamil race. That Prabhakaran refused even good peace deals is what makes him deserve his end. But he is still the man who created one of the most respected and disciplined non state fighting units in the world, and did not silently slip away (lets face it, he could have if he wanted to). He remains one of our boys who took some wrong decisions, but if nothing else we should salute the bravery of those who have perished fighting for a just cause. Hat’s off and salutations

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