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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 78

18 Years After Thileepan

[b]18 Years After Thileepan[/b]

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

[b] “….doomed to die by its own madness”.[/b]
[i][b]Stefan Zweig [/b][/i]([i]The World of Yesterday[/i])

In an undisclosed location in Vanni, the LTTE leader Velupillai Pirapaharan has, (according to the Tamilnet) paid his respects to a framed photograph of Rasaiah Parthipan alias Lt. Col. Thileepan. The Thileepan fast was the first step in the Tiger dance macabre which led to the withdrawal of the LTTE from the first ceasefire and the commencement of its war with the IPKF. Actually the fast was aimed at countering the peace euphoria that had swept the North and the East with the signing of the Accord; its objective was to condition the public mind for the coming war with India, traditionally regarded as the friend and protector of the Tamil people of Sri Lanka.

Publicly the fast was based on five demands: the release of all Tamils detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act; the cessation of the colonisation of Tamil areas by Sinhalese under the guise of rehabilitation until the formation of an interim government; a ban on new Sri Lankan police stations and camps in the Northeastern province; the withdrawal of the Sri Lankan army and Police from schools in Tamil villages; and the withdrawal of the weapons given by the Sri Lankan government to 'homeguards' under the supervision of the Indian army (source: Tamilnet).

18 years have gone by and much blood had been shed on all sides. But the Tigers are far from achieving even the five basic demands which was the public basis of the Thileepan fast, let alone the separate state for which they abandoned the Indo-Lanka Accord and antagonised India, a hostility that has cost them and will continue to cost them dear. True the Tigers have made a name for themselves in the world, as a premier terrorist organisation. They have transformed suicide bombing in to a fine art and had claimed many victims with this ultimate weapon (the victims which range from elected leaders to lesser mortals also includes the grandson of Jawaharlal Nehru and the son of Indira Gandhi, something India will neither forget nor forgive). The Tigers have a well developed naval wing and according to reports they also have the beginning of an air wing. They have murdered many alternative Tamil leaders and terrified most of the survivors into submitting to their dictats. They have also frightened the majority of Sri Lankan leaders into playing along with them granting them many a concession in order to avoid a visitation by a Black Tiger/Tigress. But for all these achievements the Tigers are still far from taking over the entirety of the North and the East; even Jaffna is not wholly theirs’ and the Karuna schism has cost them most of the East (without which Tiger Eelam is a joke). And though there is much talk of a UDI, the truth of the matter is that notwithstanding the frequent foreign trips of the genial Mr. Tamilselvam there is not one country in the world which will accept a Tiger (rump) state, if the LTTE is stupid enough to declare it; no, not even Norway.


Tigers are not into retrospection. They cannot, because Mr. Pirapaharan has, since the death of Thileepan, turned himself in to a major God and Gods do not make mistakes. But 18 years after young Thileepan fasted himself to death it behoves those others on both sides of the divide who wish to see an end to this war to look back and wonder where we have arrived and where we are headed. The Tigers are not unique in one respect. Their maximalism, their unwillingness to compromise, their intolerance of anything other than their own way are traits shared by many on the Southern side of the divide. For the LTTE, Eleam (or rather Tiger Eelam; it would not want a democratic, pluralist Eelam and would prefer a unitary Sri Lanka to that) is non-negotiable. For public consumption the Tigers might now and then deny their absolute commitment to a separate state; in fact Doktor Balasingham during one of the many round of peace talks went so far as to state that the Tigers never wanted a separate state. But the truth of the matter is that for the Tigers it is Tiger Eelam or universal destruction. That is why Thileepan had to die, 18 years ago, because the Accord, properly implemented, would have impeded the Eelam quest.

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