Tamils - a Trans State Nation..

"To us all towns are one, all men our kin.
Life's good comes not from others' gift, nor ill
Man's pains and pains' relief are from within.
Thus have we seen in visions of the wise !."
Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C

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Home > Tamils - a Nation without a State> One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century > Annai Poopathy > நாட்டுப்பற்றாளர் - Naatup Patralar



Annai Poopathy Cultural Centre, Norway
Annai Poopathi tamilsk Kultursenter avd. Florø
Batticaloa shuts down for Annai Poopathi Death anniversary.. , April 2001
Sri Lanka Army pulls down Annai Poopathy remembrance pandals, March 2002
Annai Poopathi anniversary celebrated in Batticaloa.. March 2003
Annai Poopathy remembered in North-East, April 2003
NorthEast to observe Annai Poopathi anniversary, April 2004
Annai Poopathy anniversary celebrated in NorthEast, April 2004
Annai Poopathy Anniversary Celebrated in Jaffna, April 2005
Annai Poopathy Anniversary, Mutur,April 2006

One Hundred Tamils of the 20th Century

நாட்டுப்பற்றாளர் - Naatu Patralar
Annai Poopathy
3 November 1932 - 19 April 1988

"Today, we cherish the memory of a great martyr and salute her supreme sacrifice. Mother Poopathi has earned our highest esteem as one of the noble martyrs who have become legends in the history of our liberation struggle. As a woman, as a mother, as the maternal head of the family, Poopathi amma transcended her ordinary life and the bonds of existential attachment in sacrificing her life for the emancipation of her nation. .." Velupillai Pirabaharan on Second Anniversary of Annai Poopathy's death, April 1990

Annai Poopathy's Fast for Freedom - Adele Ann Balasingham


The history of the Tamil struggle for national self-determination is a history of extraordinary examples of courage, determination and sacrifice. Thileepan, the senior LTTE cadre who fasted to death in 1987 demanding the fulfilment of promises made by the Indian government to the LTTE leadership, superseded such historical figures as Mahatma Gandhi and IRA activist Bobby Sands, in the use of fasting as a political weapon. Both Mahatma Gandhi and Bobby Sands went without food during their fast, whereas Thileepan refused both food and fluids.

Into the history of great feats of courage and determination must go the struggle waged by a 56 year old mother of ten children and grandmother, Mrs Kanapathipillai Poopathy. Mother Poopathy, as this extraordinary woman has come to be affectionately known, went without food and fluids for thirty days before her death on 19th April 1988.

Kanapathipillai Poopathy

When Annamuthu and his wife Periyapillai from the ancient Tamil village of Kiran in Batticaloa looked down affectionately on their baby daughter Poopathy on 3rd November 1932 it would never have entered their minds that this child would grow up to become a legendary political figure, the first woman in political history to fast to death for a cause; they did not know their daughter would be venerated by millions of people.

There is nothing extraordinary in Poopathy's childhood. Her biography reflects this history of her times. She was one girl among three, with two brothers. The best interests for a girl the family held was to fulfil the ideal type of life that prevailed at that time. Thus Poopathy, with basic literacy skills, was withdrawn from school and married at the age of twelve. Two sons were born from this union.

At a very young age Poopathy soon developed the emotions of a matured woman. Married at twelve years of age, twice a mother and widowed all within a short span of life. But Poopathy married again to Mr Kanapathipillai, a widower with two sons and a daughter. Her family then expanded. Two more sons and two daughters resulted from this marriage and Poopathy became a mother of ten children.

Poopathy struggled to raise a family in the face of shrinking opportunities for Tamil and Muslim children and mounting Sinhala State oppression.

The young men of Poopathy's children's generation were targets of the military operations by the Sri Lankan armed forces. Indiscriminate killings, 'disappearances' and torture confronted the generation of her children. Eventually the horror and pain of military operations came to her doorstep.

Poopathy's 28 year old son was shot dead by the Sri Lankan army. She tried to remove her family from the area of military operations by shifting to Navatkerni near Batticaloa. Again however, her eldest son by the second marriage was randomly shot dead by the Special Task Force.

Another son, arrested during round up operations, was held in Boosa army camp and subjected to severe torture. Poopathy's response to the death and pain of her children was grief and sadness. But grief and sadness, rather than weighing her down in perpetual morbidity, turned to rage and selflessness.

Poopathy amma transformed depressing, individual emotions into positive social action. Poopathy knew that her experiences were the experiences of countless numbers of women. She came into contact with the Mother's Front in Navatkerni and through this organisation was able to support, help and inspire other women who were going through the same traumas as she herself had been.

Poopathy amma as a member of the Mother's Front, became a vociferous critique of the military operations and widespread violation of human rights by the Sri Lankan armed forces. Undeterred by the armed forces potential for killing and maiming, Poopathy protested against the military atrocities of the Sri Lankan troops. She often went to the army camp to enquire about the disappearance of husbands and sons.

The height of Poopathy amma's political campaign against the oppression of the Tamil and Muslim people and the violation of human rights came during the occupation of the north and east by the Indian army. The outbreak of war between the Indian army and the LTTE and the subsequent death and atrocities perpetrated against innocent Tamil and Muslim people horrified Poopathy amma.

Poopathy amma, with grave risk to herself from a ruthless army of occupation, was determined to lodge her protest against the war and the consequent death and mayhem caused by the Indian army. When political activity was banned by the Indian army, Poopathy boldly ignored the orders and organised demonstrations and protests against the atrocities perpetrated by them.

Ultimately the Women's Front decided that it would use the weapon of fasting to express its disapproval of the war against the people. Two Tamil women, Mrs Annammah David and Mrs Nesammah Vadivel commenced a fast unto death. The occupying Indian army severely embarrassed by the determination of Tamil women to demonstrate their dislike of the presence of the troops broke up the hunger strike.

Poopathy amma, however, outraged by this impingement on political freedoms and determined to protest to the world the injustice of the war, resolved to carry on the hunger strike to achieve her political goals.

On 19th March 1988 Poopathy amma took up residence at Mahmangam Pillayar temple and commenced her fast. She put forward two demands: (1)An immediate unconditional ceasefire between the LTTE and the IPKF. (2)Unconditional talks between the LTTE and the Indian government.

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