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 > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Sathasivam Krishnakumar - the struggle was his life > Interview with Sri Lanka Monitor, 1991 - Self Determination is not a dirty word  > Interview with Melbourne Radio, 1991 > India's Act of Piracy > LTTE Petition to United Nations

Sathasivam Krishnakumar - Kittu
- the Struggle was his Life

Interview with Melbourne CR3 Radio, June 1991
[see also Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam]

Q. What is the role of expatriate Tamils in relation to the struggle?
A. Wherever we may live in the world, we are Tamils... In Tamil Eelam, our brothers and sisters are suffering great hardship. They are being killed every day because they are standing up for that which is right. That which we should do first is that we should let them know "we are with you, we support your struggle, your struggle is our struggle". Five lakhs of our people living outside Tamil Eelam, should be moved to say: "We will support you, we will give our hand, we will give our voice." It is that which we expect from expatriate Eelam Tamils.

Joay Mahesh of Melbourne CR3 Radio interviewed Sathasivam Krishnakumar in June 1991:

Q. Mr. Krishnakumar, despite your denials, allegations continue to be made by the Sri Lankan and Indian authorities concerning LTTE involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination. Would you care to comment?

A.In so far as the Liberation Tigers are concerned, I wish to state categorically that there is no connection what so ever between the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and the LTTE. I have already stated this from London and Anton Balasingham has also made a categorical and clear denial from Jaffna. May I say that it would appear to any impartial observer that even before the investigation commenced it was decided that it was the LTTE which was responsible. Everything was looked at from that perspective. It is also a fact that this allegation was used as a weapon in the Indian election campaign, in support of the Congress party as well as its allies in Tamil Nadu. Some Indian newspapers are now saying that all this may have been a tactic to prevent a destabilising situation arising within India if it should appear that the assassination was carried out by forces within India.

It is wholly wrong to attribute blame to the LTTE without any concrete and acceptable evidence. There is no evidence to show that any of the persons who have been arrested were members of the LTTE. It may be that those who are continuing to make these allegations do so with the intention of rousing the people of Tamil Nadu against the LTTE.

Q. Has all this been a set back for the Tamil Eelam Liberation struggle and for the LTTE?

I do not believe that this will directly harm our struggle. However we are concerned about the plight of about 200,000 of our people who have been living in Tamil Nadu as refugees. We have noted that in a recent interview, Ms.Jayalaitha Jayaram has declared that she will secure the future of these refugees and protect them.

Q. When Ms.Jayalaltha Jayaram assumes office as the new Chief Minister, do you believe that the struggle will receive the same support that it had received from the late Puratchi Thalavar, M.G.R. in the past?

A. It will be necessary to wait and see the direction which Indian politics will take. One factor is that the Central government has become weak. Again there are no indications as to how long it will last. We shall wait and see.

Q. The recent attack on the army headquarters in Colombo has been attributed to the LTTE by the Premadasa government. Do you have any comments?

A. Many newspaper correspondents have asked us whether we were responsible for this attack. We were also asked whether we condemn the attack. In so far as we are concerned, the attack in Colombo was directed against a clear military target - the joint headquarters of the Sri Lankan army, navy and airforce - and therefore it is not an action that we condemn. It is a matter for regret that civilians have also been killed as a consequence of the bomb blast. However, it was this headquarters which was used for planning the daily genocidal onslaught on the Tamil people. Thousands of Tamils have been killed on the basis of orders given from and decisions made at this headquarters. Again, it was from this headquarters that orders were given and plans made for the attacks in the South - attacks which led to the 'disappearance' of around 60,000 Sinhala people during the past two years.

Q. During the past one year, a harsh war has been waged by the Government in the North-East. In this war although the LTTE has won significant victories, it is a matter of pain and sadness that many Tamil civilians have suffered deaths and great hardship. Are the objectives of the LTTE in accord with the feelings of the Tamil people?

A. Definitely, the Tigers have ranged themselves with the people. The LTTE is taking the struggle forward with them. The full support of the people continues to be with the LTTE. It is sometimes asked: how has the LTTE taken this struggle forward, how has it made these tremendous sacrifices? Our only reply is that whatever success we have achieved is because of the support of our people and the strength of our leadership. Ours is a strong, capable and determined leadership. It is a leadership which has won the confidence of the people. The people know that it is a leadership which will not deceive them, which will not sell them out. The people believe that this leadership will not betray them as some of the leaders of the past, and that it will secure the fulfilment of their aspirations.

It is because of this, that our youth and our people have given solid support and strengthened our struggle. It is true that criticisms have been made that as a result of this struggle, many civilians have died and much hardship has been caused. But we must examine this closely. In the name of communal disturbances, the Tamils have been killed periodically, since 1956. In 1983 alone, before the commencement of this stage of the armed struggle, 7000 Tamils were killed. In the 1977 disturbances, 8000 Tamils were killed. In between these two periods, 5000 Tamils were killed. In sum we have lost 19,000 Tamil lives between 1977 and 1983. Since 1983, we have not lost the same number of lives. The statistics support the view that the struggle has protected our people.

We must understand that this struggle arose from the people and the support the people give, is directly proportional to the commitment of the LTTE to the struggle. Where any party has given up the demand for Tamil Eelam, the people have not hesitated to throw them out. So that which ever way we may look at it, the LTTE cannot give up the demand for Tamil Eelam. The Liberation Tigers have the duty to take the demand forward in a determined fashion. We have to honour the confidence that the people have placed in us.

Q. Though the Sri Lankan Government has sought a military solution, are you ready for a political solution and if so what are the conditions that you have placed?

A. We must look at this carefully. We have at no time rejected any attempts to seek a political solution or a peaceful settlement. We are aware of a 40 year record of being deceived by successive Sinhala governments. Though the late leader Thanthai Chelvanayagam entered into several agreements, we have seen that on each occasion, these agreements have been torn up. We cannot forget that past. Our past experiences should teach us.

We must examine that historical experience properly and in depth. It was due to the failure of these negotiating processes that the armed struggle was born. Even so, when President Premadasa requested that we should seek a peaceful settlement, we afforded an opportunity in January this year by declaring a unilateral cease-fire for 29 days. But the Sri Lanka government did not respond. It rejected the offer for unconditional talks by imposing several pre conditions to the negotiating process.

We are even today prepared to commence talks without pre conditions. Talks cannot be taken forward if preconditions are imposed. We need open talks. But Sri Lanka requires us to put down our arms. I say by arms what are you describing? If it is the AK47, then that is no problem.

But what we mean by arms is not simply that but also the arms that hold those arms, and the aspirations that are in the hearts of our people - these are also arms so far as we are concerned.

To us arms is that mechanism which can protect our people.

At a time when our people are without protection, we cannot drop our arms and then go in search of a peaceful settlement. People should not misconstrue that we are lovers of weapons. We have made our fighters understand several times that we are not lovers of violence. We are freedom fighters. It was because our people were oppressed, it was because our people were being destroyed, that we took up arms in defence of our people. We are very clear about this.

However, we have repeatedly told Sri Lanka that we are ready for unconditional talks. Recently on the first anniversary of the resumption of hostilities - June 10 - we called for unconditional talks. But Sri Lanka continues to seek a military solution by carrying our aerial bombardments of civilians, by imposing an economic blockade. In this situation, we have been compelled , we have been pushed to continue our armed struggle.

Q. Given the previous deceitful record of the Sri Lanka government can you trust them and engage in talks again?

A. Talks is one matter. Settlement is another matter. Because we go for talks it does not follow that we will accept anything and everything. But, there is nothing wrong in trying to reach a settlement. If by a settlement, peace can be achieved for our people, we are prepared and ready to participate in that effort. We are not persons who say: we have taken to arms, we shall continue to fight, we like to fight. We can go for talks.

But, ofcourse, we should carefully examine the terms of any proposed settlement. It is our wish that the talks should be conducted in a such a way that they will fulfil the aspirations of our people. We have proposed that the talks should be unconditional. At the same time we have our views as to the direction which the talks should take. This is a national question.

The struggle that is going on in Tamil Eelam is not terrorism. Sri Lanka keeps saying that it is taking action against terrorism, that LTTE is a terrorist organisation, that its actions are terrorist. It has failed to recognise that this is a national liberation struggle. Sri Lanka needs to recognise that the Tamils are a nation, that we have the right of self determination. On this basis it will be possible to resolve the conflict. The Sri Lankan constitution is a unitary constitution. The conflict between two peoples cannot be resolved within a unitary constitution. At the same time, if we recognise that in Sri Lanka there are two nations, then we can talk about how these two nations may live. I repeat this not a terrorist question.

Q. It is not only the Sri Lankan government, but there are some expatriate Tamils who also take the view that LTTE is a terrorist organisation and that they are responsible for the war that is going on in Sri Lanka. What is you response?

A. Some expatriate Tamils who have left their homelands for more than 20 years may find it difficult to understand the nature of the struggle in Tamil Eelam. They may not fully understand the feelings of an oppressed people. They may believe that any armed struggle is terrorism. But if they study our history, they will understand that the Tamil people have been pushed into this struggle. The demand for Tamil Eelam was the demand of Thanthai Chelvanayagam. Today, we cannot leave this struggle at a half way stage.

We need guarantees for the protection of our people. We cannot trust the Sri Lankan government to carry out this duty. Neither can we take seriously those who suggest that we should. Nor can we depend on India for our protection. In this situation we must secure in our own hands our protection. Whilst President Premadasa talks peace he continues with his military efforts. If we look at the past we can see why. Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism has been institutionalised in Sri Lanka and today it has become more powerful than the politicians themselves.

Indeed even if the Sinhala politicians seek to settle the conflict, Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism may try to prevent such a settlement. This is the political reality that those who are aware of the Sri Lankan situation are well aware of. This is the result of the grievous error committed by Sinhala politicians. In 1956 for the first time this 'communalism' was openly put forward for electoral gain. This Sinhala chauvinism which was nurtured by Sinhala politicians for their electoral advantage, has grown into a Frankenstein monster which now has the power to destroy and make politicians. This we understand very well. [note by tamilnation.org: see also From ethnic outbidding to ethnic conflict: the institutional bases for Sri Lanka's separatist war -  Neil Devotta, January 2005]

Q. What is the role of expatriate Tamils in relation to the struggle?

A. Wherever we may live in the world, we are Tamils... In Tamil Eelam, our brothers and sisters are suffering great hardship. They are being killed every day because they are standing up for that which is right. That which we should do first is that we should let them know "we are with you, we support your struggle, your struggle is our struggle". Five lakhs of our people living outside Tamil Eelam, should be moved to say: "We will support you, we will give our hand, we will give our voice." It is that which we expect from expatriate Eelam Tamils.


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