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Home> Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Velupillai Pirabaharan > Interview with Frontline, 1985
Interview with Frontline - 30 December 1985
FRONTLINE: How were you attracted to the liberation movement? What were the factors that impelled you to take up this cause?
Pirabaharan: It is a long story. When I was young. my parents used to talk a lot at home against the 1958 racial riots directed against the Tamils in which many people were affected. This affected me. I used to read a lot of books which came from Madras, including magazines like Ananda Vikatan, Kalki, Kumudam, etc. All magazines used to run stories on India's freedom struggle, which used to fascinate me. Besides, books like Mahabharata, which says that good will vanquish evil, left a deep impress on me. When I was studying in school. I used to receive private tuition from a master called Home-Guard V. Navarathinam, who had left the Tamil Federal Party. The youth of the Federal Party also followed suit. He used to talk to us on the various world movements, how nothing can be accomplished by parliamentary means, etc. I was 15years old then and I got the feeling that we also should hit back and that we should have a separate country of our own.
Q: What is the LTTE's ideology? Unlike other organisations, the LTTE began as a military outfit and later acquired Marxist-Leninist leanings. Some organisations like the EPRLF began as a "communist party" and later added a military wing.
A: We had an ideology from the beginning that was to form a socialistic State. If we did not give shape to that ideology, it was because we (LTTE) got straightway into the struggle.
Q: What is your outlook on Eelam, towards the struggle, the experiences of your sufferings? Do you think you can achieve Eelam?
A: The chances of attaining Eelam are bright because the people's determination is firm. We are prepared for a long-drawn struggle (to attain Eelam).
Q: The LTTE's general style of operation seems to be to indulge in hit-and run tactics. But after a hit-and-run attack, the Army turns on the Tamil civilians. For example, it is widely believed that your ambushing and killing the 13 soldiers presaged the 1983 riots against the Tamils. Other liberation organisations like the PLO and the IRA do not indulge in hit -and-run tactics. Further, they have expanded their base among the people. Have you expanded your base?
A: For the PLO. there is no room for adopting hit-and-run tactics because they are fighting from a foreign soil. The IRA is fully indulging in hit-and-run operations. But the British Army does not attack the civilians. But, we work with a lot of hardship in terms of finance and the resistance from (Sri Lankan) military. Yet, in Jaffna and other places, we have controlled the Army and we have made them into liberated zones. This was because, there is no gap between the people and us. In Jaffna, and in Nilaveli at Trincomalee. These areas are under our control. There is no Government control.
We are running the civil administration. This means, we have gone a step above the hit-and-run methods. Even though we adopted hit-and-run methods in the beginning. gradually, we have not allowed the troops to come in and as time goes on, it will become a mass struggle. Right now, in places like Jaffna. it has become a mass struggle.
Besides, we are running a guerrilla force. Out of several tactics in guerrilla warfare, one is hit-and-run. In the initial development of the LTTE. we did hit-and-run operations. But now, after an attack, we give protection to the people. The Sri Lankan Government attacks the people because we are close to the people and also it does it to create a gap between the people and us. Without people's support. We would have been betrayed and our movement would not have been there.
Q: To go back, have you expanded your base among the people. Like have you established trade unions, etc.?
A: Outwardly. we don't have trade unions. In all places, the LTTE's base has expanded.
Q: What is your attitude towards the Government of India, its efforts to bring about a solution to the crisis? Is it pressuring you to accept a solution?
A: Till now, we have not been pressured. At the same time, the Government of India is trying to solve the problem through talks. But our history shows that nothing can be solved through talks. Yet. We have to support the Government of India's efforts and so, we are taking part in the talks.
But at the same time, the Sri Lankan Government has not, so far. arrived at any worthwhile solution. For example, it is violating the cease-fire and it has not properly implemented it' There should be peace as a prelude to talks (with the Sri Lankan Government). Everyday they are killing us.
Q: Supposing, all the Tamil liberation organisations are asked to go out of India, what will you do?
A: All our important training bases are in Sri Lanka. We are here only to expose the political situation there. We are prepared to go back to our country any time. As the Sri Lankan Government accuses us, we do not have any training bases or anything here. All our training bases, recruitment, are all done in our country. These problems can never affect us.
Q: Recently, you went on a tour of Tamil areas of Sri Lanka and you also met your regional commanders. How is the morale of your cadres and what is the situation there?
A: There is only progress (increasing determination). There is no retardation in the struggle. There is a feeling dominant among the people that instead of slowly dying in batches. it is better to fight and die together.
Our boys.. comrades.. are closer to the people. As a result, they are strong and firm. There cannot be any talk on morale because as long as there is one soldier (in the LTTE), they will fight for our ideal (to achieve Eelam). Till there is a last comrade. we will fight for our independence..... liberation.
Q: Do you think anything will come out of the talks (with the Sri Lankan Government)?
A: We don't have faith. We know the history of the last 30 years and Jayewardene's history also. Even common people do not have any faith (that anything will come out of the talks). When the Government of India invites us for talks.........it gives us political support...For its satisfaction. we are participating. But the results are in Jayewardene's hands. I don't have faith that he will put forward something (viable proposals).
Q: What do you think of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's approach and also of Foreign Secretary Romesh Bhandari?
A: As far as Rajiv Gandhi's approach is concerned, he thinks he can solve this through peaceful means. viz., talks. Destruction is certain through struggle. He wants to minimise the scale of destruction and is trying to solve the problem. When it is a struggle, it will be long- drawn. Even the refugee problem will be there for the Government of India. So. Rajiv Gandhi wants to solve it through peaceful means. But Jayewardene is falsifying such efforts.
Romesh Bhandari's approach..... He is a representative of the Government of India. On behalf of the Prime Minister. he is trying his level best to solve the problem through peaceful means. But till now, Jayewardene has not implemented even the terms and conditions of the cease-fire. So. Romesh Bhandari has not succeeded even in cease-fire efforts.
Q: What is your assessment of the Thimpu talks, the proposals offered by the Sri Lankan Government?
A: There cannot be talks till prevails. The Thimpu talks made the people hate us. If the Sri Lankan Government is not keen on a peaceful atmosphere, how can you believe that it will implement the proposals offered?
Q: There is a belief that there is not much democracy either in your organisation or other Tamil militant organisations. Is it true?
A: You should ask our organisation's members that question. We have given them so much of freedom. There is no problem like that.
Q: What is your attitude towards to TULF, the PLOT and other ENLF organisations?
A: They are also fighting for liberation like us.