Interview with Anandhi Sooriyapragasam,
BBC Tamil Service,
2 March 1993
of the Tamil version of the interview in the LTTE’s weekly
‘KALATHTHIL’ published from London.
Q: How will you assess the present military-political
A: There is nothing specific I can say about the present
military-political situation. As far as the political atmosphere is
concerned, as usual a gloomy situation prevails. There is no sign of any
effort being made to peacefully solve the Tamil problem. In this
connection, there have been no fresh initiatives. The government appears to
place a newly found confidence in the anticipated final report of the
Parliamentary Select Committee. However, the Tamil people do not believe
that the Parliamentary Select Committee would put forward a just reasonable
solution to our problem. That is because the main Sinhala parties that are
represented in the PSC are not ready to accept any of the fundamental
demands of the Tamils. It has to be said that there has been absolutely no
change in approach of the Sri Lankan government.
Q: During my visit to Jaffna, I saw with my own eyes the
indescribable sufferings experienced by the people because of the economic
blockade imposed on Jaffna. When will the war that is dragging on and the
sufferings of the people come to an end?
A: The continuation of the war, the ending of the war and
finding a peaceful solution — all these
depend only on the decision of the government. It is the government that
started the war and is prolonging the war. It is the government that
believes in a military solution to the Tamil problem. In spite of the fact
that we have on several occasions requested that the war be brought to an
end and that the problem be solved in a peaceful way, the government
appears to have turned a deaf ear. On the contrary, the government is
engaged in intensifying the war and escalating the economic pressure upon
the people. This war is directed at the Tamil people. It is the aim of
Sinhala chauvinists to enslave the Tamil people by inflicting destruction
and suffering upon them, by breaking their determination and by weakening
their fighting spirit. The western countries are indirectly giving
assistance to this ethnocidal war. It is with the help of loans granted by
the west that the government is continuing the war. If the west stops the
assistance given in the form of money and weapons, the government cannot
continue the war. Then only an atmosphere conducive to peace will be
Q: The number of government troops is 60,000. Your strength
is estimated at 10,000 fighters. In this unequal situation, are you confident
that you will emerge victorious in this war?
A: The strength of weapons or manpower does not undermine
the victor in a war. The testimony for this is provided by the history of
wars of liberation in the world. Did not the superpowers with massive
manpower and military might face defeats in Vietnam and Afghanistan?
Unshakable determination, valour and fervour for liberation are the
determining qualities for achieving victory. Our fighters and our people
possess these qualities in full measure.
Q: It is reported that the Sri Lankan military have acquired
several modern weapons. Are you in a position to withstand these weapons?
A: From time to time, the Sinhala forces have introduced
several modern weapons. The government seems to believe that it can achieve
victory by introducing modern weaponry. They thought so when they purchased
the Sia Marchetti planes and later some tanks. Even now they are buying
hordes of new weapons. But weapons do not determine victory. A people in
revolt cannot be destroyed by weapons.
Q: From where do you obtain your weapons?
A: Weapons are forced out from the enemy-forces. We fight
the enemy with the weapons taken from the enemy. For example, in this war we
captured a large quantity of weapons from the enemy last year. During last
year, we captured a large quantity of weapons from the Sri Lankan military
including 1172 automatic rifles, 106 light machineguns, four 50 calibre
heavy machineguns, 23 anti-tank weapons, 25 rocket launchers, 1622 rockets,
30 communications instruments, 700,000 rounds of ammunition.
Q. When I journeyed to Jaftna, I had to travel through the
Kilaly lagoon with great danger to my life. Because the use of this route has
prohibited by the security iorces, the plight of the people has become worse
due to their inability to travel to and from Jaffna. If the Tigers and the
government were to come to an agreement on this issue, people can travel without
fear. What is your stand on the UNHCRs efforts to open up the
Sangupiddy-Kerativu ferry route?
A: It is also our stand that the
Sangupiddy-Kerativu route should be opened for travel. People
must be able to freely use this route without any harassment
from the security forces. In order to achieve this, there should
be no military posts or checkpoints, and we insisted that the
army should move a little distance away from this route, but the
army was not prepared to agree to this proposal. The army wants
everyone who travels through this route to be subjected to their
checking. But this would result in
danger to the people, and in particular to our supporters and
sympathisers. Because of the stubbornness of the army on this
issue, the UNHCR’s efforts have proved a failure. That is why we
have suggested that at least the prohibition imposed on the
Kilaly lagoon should be removed. Surely, it should be possible
for the UNHCR to bring pressure on the Sri Lankan government to
remove the prohibition on humanitarian grounds.
Q. It is believed that the Parliamentary Select Committee
appointed to find ways and means to solve the Tamil problem is to put forward a
federal scheme on a provincial basis, that is to treat the northern and eastern
provinces as two separate units. Will you accept such a federal proposal?
A: Even the Colombo-based pro-government
Tamil groups have expressed their strong opposition to this
federal scheme on a provincial basis. How can we, therefore
accept such a proposal which dismembers our Tamil homeland?
Q. Now, suppose If a federal scheme encompassing the northern
and eastern provinces as a merged single unit Is put forward, will you accept
such a scheme?
A: If a federal scheme that recognises the
territorial integrity of the Tamil homeland is put forward, we
are ready to consider it. There are many forms of federal
systems of government with varying degrees of powers that are
devolved. We are prepared to consider a federal system which
provides for sufficient autonomous powers that fulfils the
political aspirations of the Tamil people.
Q. What Is your stand in regard to the Muslim people?
A: We have to approach their problem on the
basis that the Muslim people are an ethnic group possessing
their own cultural identity. We are of the view that, while the
identity and land rights of the Muslim people are preserved, it
is by living together with the Tamil people that their social,
political and economic life will be enhanced. Sinhala
chauvinists and selfish Muslim politicians are attempting to
promote differences and enmity between the Tamil and Muslim
people. The Muslim people should not fall victims of such
Q. Muslims are also people of Jaffna. Then why did you expel
them from Jaffna?
A: In the Amparai district, communal riots
broke out in 1990 in which a considerable number of Tamils were
killed, and following this there was the danger of riots
breaking out in Jaffna also. In those circumstances, in the
interest of the security of the Muslim people, we requested them
to temporarily leave Jaffna. But once the war ends and a
peaceful atmosphere prevails, we will permit them to settle
again in Jaffna.
Q. You oppose the settling of Sinhalese people in the
northern and eastern provinces. The Tamil people have the right to go and settle
in any part of the country. Don’t you think the Sinhalese people also have the
A: We are not opposed to the Sinhalese people
settling in the Tamil areas. We are opposed only to the planned
colonisation settlements in Tamil areas.
Tamil people are being driven out from Tamil
villages, and in their place Sinhalese colonisation is taking
place. These colonisation schemes are undertaken with the
intention of splitting and dismembering the Tamil homeland, and
it is these types of colonisation schemes that we oppose.
Q. What is your view about the Indian government’s present
tough actions taken against the Tigers?
A: It is because of the wrong and exaggerated
fear about the Tamil liberation struggle that India is
adopting a tough approach against us. India is apprehensive
that our freedom struggle will instigate separatism in Tamil
Nadu and act as an inspirational force for national struggles
in India. During the last ten years, the Indian government has,
in various ways, interfered with
and obstructed our struggle in view of this unnecessary and
exaggerated fear. It is determined to destroy our movement which
is taking forward the liberation struggle of the Tamils. The
Indian government has misunderstood our legitimate struggle
against genocide and we have been gravely affected by the unjust
actions it is engaged in. The conditions of our people have been
worsening. Encouraged by India’s hostile approach, the Sinhala
government has been mercilessly intensifying its genocide
of our people.
Q. Are the speculative reports about differences of opinions
within the Tigers and removal from positions of certain leaders true?
A: They are not true. There are no
differences of opinions in our movement. Certain changes have
been brought about in our organisation. Responsibilities of
certain senior members have undergone change. These have been
misunderstood giving rise to speculations.
Q. Was Kittu’s journey a peace effort?
A: He undertook the journey to Jaffna with a
view to creating an atmosphere of peace in Thamil Eelam and with
a peace proposal from some western countries to commence
negotiations about the Tamil problem. He tried to come to Jaffna
only for the purpose of discussing the peace proposal with us.
The Quaker organisation has confirmed the intention of his
Q. What do you feel about Kittu’s death?
A: I cannot
describe in words the depth of feeling that has affected me.
Kittu was a pre-eminent Commander. He was a great fighter
with an ideal. He was a great man of action. Kittu’s death is a
massive loss not only to our movement, but also for our country.
Q. Will this war which has gone on for ten years end with a
A: If there is to be solution to our problem
by peaceful means, there should be a fundamental change in the
attitude and approach of the Sinhala chauvinist rulers. If such
a change takes place, I believe that a peaceful solution to our
problem is possible.
Q. Mr. Pirabaharan, are you ready to genuinely enter
into peace efforts? And what are your conditions?
A: I genuinely wish for peace. My aim in life
is that my people should live in peace, in freedom and with
dignity. We have not prescribed any conditions for peace. It is
the Sinhala government that has been prescribing preconditions
for peace and negotiations.