NEELAN, TULF AND THE LTTE
(1999 AUGUST 04)
The brutal assassination of Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam by the LTTE has to be condemned by all the sane people irrespective of whether they approve his politics or not. It is a dastardly act with all the characteristics of the LTTE murders tagged on to it. However as in the previous cases the TULF has so far failed to name the LTTE as the killers. Some would say that the TULF does not want to identify the murderers, as it does not want to face any more disastrous repercussions. However whether the TULF decides to identify the killers or not the LTTE is not going to stop its barbarous acts.
Why did the LTTE kill Dr. Thiruchelvam? (Of course, if not for the suicide bomber some anti-Sinhala "enlightened" NGO Sinhala people would have accused the "Sinhala Chauvinists" for the murder). According to some, the reason behind the killing was the decision by the PA government to introduce a bill to the parliament to amend the constitution, incorporating the so-called political package. But it is highly unlikely that the LTTE takes notice of utterances by the president to pacify the junior partners of the coalition. For the LTTE the 19th of August, the date announced by the president with respect to the amendment of the constitution, is not of much significance. They would have thought of it as another July 15th that will come and go. Even if the amendment had become the law the LTTE would not have been disturbed by that. It is true that the LTTE has rejected the political package but that does not mean that the LTTE would have had any problems with it becoming the law as they work with a different objective altogether. As far as the LTTE is concerned they will not be satisfied with anything other than Eelam.
Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam was not killed by the LTTE because he was an "intellectual with an international reputation". I do not think that Prabhakaran was worried by the Ph. D. that Dr. Thiruchelvam had earned from the Harvard University. The former is not bothered by the middle class values nor by the so-called international standards, and would not have taken the trouble to find out whether the latter had obtained a degree with a "good class" in law from the University of Ceylon or whether he had created any new concepts or theories or even ideas in the fields of law and international relations. In any case Prabhakaran would have known that the president of the U. S. A., Mr. Bill Clinton and his wife did not express their condolences merely because of the "international reputation" of Dr. Thiruchelvam as an intellectual. It cannot be denied that Dr. Thiruchelvam came to the limelight not as a lawyer either practising or academic, but as a politician of the TULF.
As far as Prabhakaran is concerned Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam was the politician in the TULF, with international connections, as demonstrated by the messages of condolences from various parts of the globe and especially from the west, who was close to the PA government. With or without August 19th, from the point of view of the LTTE, meaning that of Prabhakaran, Dr. Thiruchelvam had to be eliminated.
While condemning the LTTE for its barbarous acts one cannot forget that the LTTE was the creation of the TULF and its constituent parties such as the Ilankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi (ITAK) or the Lanka Tamil State Party or the so-called Federal Party. The apologists of Tamil racism would like to present the view that the political assassinations by the LTTE started after 1983. But the truth is that these terrorist groups were formed in the late sixties and that initially they had the support of the ITAK and the TULF. Some of them were initially members of the I.T.A.K. and the Tamil United Front (T.U.F.) as the T.U.L.F. was known earlier. The TULF not only condoned the armed youth but gave them the ideological framework.
In order to create Tamil racism in Sri Lanka the British used the English educated Tamils who had already constructed their mythical history. The books like Yalpana Vaipava Malai written during the Dutch period talked of a Tamil history in Sri Lanka going back to thousands of years. Based on these "theories" the ITAK as well as the TULF formulated their objective. According to one version propagated by the Tamil racists the Tamils had ruled themselves for thousands of years until the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally the British captured and ruled their land; When the British gave independence in 1948 they placed the Tamils under the rule of the Sinhala leaders in Colombo; Since then the Sinhala people and the Sinhala government are ruling over the Tamils and it is the duty of the Tamils to liberate their country. The generation of Prabhakaran was brought up on these myths and the ITAK and the TULF (TUF) leaders were able to construct certain grievances for the Tamils. When analysed, these so-called grievances turn out to be the creations of Tamil racism that is trying to prevent the Sinhala people their language, their culture and their history being given the rightful place. In the process of creating these myths Tamil racism has also created a Mahavansa phobia. It is unfortunate that the International Centre for Ethnic Studies that was directed by Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam, also played a role in propagating the Mahavansa Phobia. Prabhakaran and his generation brought up with this propaganda have only gone one step further than the ITAK and the TULF. If the TULF wanted first a federal state and then an Eelam, the LTTE wants an Eelam without the intermediate federal state. LTTE is only a creation of the TULF (TUF) and the ITAK. They all agree on the Thimpu conditions that include self-determination for the "Tamil nation".
Some may think that the LTTE is a terrorist group that is engaged in violent politics but that the TULF was peace loving and non-violent. While Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam may not have been violent in his approach, unfortunately the same cannot be said about some of the other leaders of the TULF (TUF). For example the Report of the Presidential Commission Of Inquiry Into The Incidents Which Took Place Between 13th August and 15th September 1977 or popularly known as the Sansoni Commission Report has said the following among other things. "Mr. Amirthalingam claimed that the political creed was founded on non-violence. He has not always adhered to this tenet. Mr. Chelvanayakam referred to the pacts that had been entered into with the previous government and said that the Sinhalese do not want the Tamils to live together with them and they had pushed the Tamils to making a demand for separate state. He appealed to the gathering to give their wholehearted support to the policy of separation." (page 31) Whatever the reasons Mr. Chelvanayakam may have given in support of a separate state the fact is that he had asked the people to "give their wholehearted support to the policy of separation". It is clear that the federal state that they have been demanding is only an intermediate stage that they want to achieve on their way to establish a separate state.
On page 23 the report states: " Mr. Amirthalingam admitted that on 22nd May 1973, which was republic day, the TULF organised a hartal and day of mourning, and the rising sun flag which was its emblem was hoisted in many places. On that day, said Mr. Ariyasinghe a bus was party burnt at Kovil, and palmyrah logs were placed on the railway lines in order to derail trains. Around that date 49 buses were attacked and damaged, about 6 buses were burnt, a number of railway carriages were damaged, the lion flag was lowered and burnt in several places." ...... Mr. Ariyasinghe made a comment, which I consider important enough to go on record. He stated that it was the T.U.F. party that was intimate with the youths; all the suspects who were supporters of the T.U.F. and admitted that in their statements; and upto date no condemnation of the murders and the other crimes had been forthcoming from the T.U.F. or the T.U.L.F. leaders except for what they have said in Parliament. Even when Mr. Duraiappah was murdered and the supporters of the Government called upon the T.U.L.F. to condemn such incidents, there was no condemnation by them....."
Then on page 38 the following incident is recorded. " On 15th May, again after a Convention at Vaddukoddai, the TULF attempted to go in a procession to Moolai. It was stopped, and the processionists travelled in lorries for some distance and again went in procession....... Mr. Seneviratne who had led the police in those incidents, said that he went to meeting place at Moolai when Mr. Amirthalingam was speaking in Tamil. Having switched over to English he said 'Mr. Seneviratne, S.P. Jaffna I am telling you that what happened to Duraiappah will happen to people like you also'. Mr. Amirthalingam stated in evidence regarding this incident that he merely warned the Police...... I prefer to believe Mr. Seneviratne on this conflict of evidence......"
The following paragraphs are from pages 56 and 57 of the report. " Another officer of the same Bureau who gave evidence in camera said that he covered a meeting held by the T.U.L.F. on the beach at Valvettiturai on 30th July, 1977, for the purpose of according a reception to the victorious M.PP of the T.U.L.F. at which a speech was made by Kasi Anandan. He recorded that speech in the course of which the following was said: 'The path of non-violence will never be of any help in achieving our independence. We can achieve our independence only by waging war with weapons. For this purpose our youths must flock to us in their thousands.' Another speaker at that meeting was Mr. A. Amirthalingam whose speech was noted by this witness, in the course of which he said: 'All this time we got no opportunity to fight for our rights. I see that our youths are ever ready to fight with arms. We will tell you when the time comes. Then you will come forward.
I am satisfied that this speech also was correctly recorded in Tamil, the language in which it was made. It directly contradicts Mr. Amirthalingam's claim that he has never made any inflammatory statements, and that anyone who says he did he has been tutored to perjure. He claimed in evidence, that he had stated in Parliament that his party dissociated themselves from acts of violence; but it is obvious that he was consorting with youths who repeatedly said and showed, that they would resort to violence and in fact did so. As far back as 24th May, 1972, at a protest meeting against the 1972 Constitution held by the T.U.L.F. Kasi Anandan's words 'Those who voted for this constitution will not die a natural death' surely should have shown Mr. Amirthalingam that the methods favoured by the Tamil youths were far different from the Gandhian methods, where this struggle for freedom was concerned.
I want to make it quite clear, that what is objectionable and worthy of condemnation in the speeches from which I have quoted, is the expression of views which encourage and instigate the use of violence and weapons in the bid to obtain a separate State. So far, as the population of the whole Island is concerned, the claim to a separate State is unpopular and will be resisted by the majority community. Intolerance and persecution of those who hold and express minority opinions is wrong. So also is the killing of those who oppose or obstruct the achievement of the aims which a minority desires to achieve. It must be remembered that violence or the advocacy of it begets violence, and that is one lesson which the disturbances of August and September, 1977, should have taught us well. "
The TULF having created the LTTE, later tried to make use of the latter to achieve their objectives. The TULF leaders would say "look the LTTE is demanding a separate state and they are armed. Devolve power and create a federal state and we will be able to win the masses from the LTTE". The strategy of the TULF was to show the "Koti Billa" and get a federal state. The discussions, the so-called peace moves were all planned with the intention of getting a federal state. The TULF knew that without the LTTE they could not achieve a federal state and then a separate state. Therefore they never wanted the LTTE to be crushed by military operations. However, at the same time the TULF did not want to give the power in the separate state or the federal state that they were interested in, to the LTTE. With the support of the international powers and manoeuvrings with the so-called Sinhala leaders the TULF was planning to come to power in the north and the eastern provinces.
Prabhakaran, who is fighting to "liberate the Tamil nation" from the "Sinhala imperialists" would never think of giving the power to any body else. Any Tamil politician who is not doing his best to achieve the independent Tamil state or who is trying to prevent him from liberating the "nation" and then becoming the absolute ruler of the independent Tamil state is a traitor in his eyes. Prabhakaran has no sympathy for the traitors and all that he knows is that the traitors have to be eliminated.
In the eyes of Prabhakaran, of all the politicians in the TULF, Dr. Neelan Thiruchelvam would have been the most dangerous person. With his international connections and with his close links with the PA government he could have won the power in the north and the east for the TULF. Let us consider the following scenario. If the "political package" is approved by the parliament and a regional council is established for the northern and the eastern provinces it is not impossible to think of inviting a UN delegation to monitor the elections to the regional council. Eventually a UN force whether it is called a peacekeeping force or anything else is not altogether impossible with the connections that Dr. Thiruchelvam had due to some reason or other. Such a force always happens to be more than a peace keeping force and Prabhakaran would have known the consequences of such an eventuality. Prabhakaran's policy is to eliminate all the obstacles on his way to power and to him it does not matter whether the obstacle appears in the form of a Mr. Rajiv Gandhi or a Dr. Thiruchelvam. He would not think about the long-term international reactions against such eliminations, as long as his immediate goals are achieved. Probably Prabhakaran thinks that there is nobody who can predict what is going to happen in three years or five years. He thinks of the present and of the immediate obstacles he has to overcome. Next to the assassination of Mr. Gandhi the killing of Dr. Thiruchelvam is bound to bring disastrous repercussions to the LTTE. But Prabhakaran is not worried about that. Who knows what is going to happen with a Ranil Wickremasinghe? If the UNP comes to power with Mr. Wickremasinghe offering asymmetric devolution, which amounts to a confederation and with a different president in the USA what will be the outcome? As far as Prabhakaran is concerned rather than speculating on these future scenarios it would be better to concentrate on the present and the basic requirements like arms, ships and planes. As far as Prabhakaran is alive he will not allow anybody to make use of him. In this connection Prabhakaran has an advantage. He knows very well that most of the Tamil parties would not agree to defeat the LTTE militarily, as if that happens those parties themselves would not be able to make use of the LTTE. For parties like the TULF the LTTE is necessary. That is the greatest advantage that Prabhakaran has.