Sri Lankan rebels ready to die for cause


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Source: Associated Press

AT A TAMIL TIGER REBEL BASE, Sri Lanka - Past the paved road lined by minefields, down a sandy track hemmed in by coconut palms and thatch huts, the gate appears, a metal boom bookended by bunkers made of logs and sandbags.

It's not visible until you're on top of it, and the tiger-striped camouflage of the lone sentry is the only sign this is a base of the Tamil Tiger rebels.

"The people who need to know — our soldiers, the villagers who aid us — they know we are here," said Muttiah Jayanthy, 33, one of the base's top officers. "If there is war, the government will feel our presence."

A surge in violence has left Sri Lanka dangerously close to resuming a war best known for its suicide bombings — a vicious conflict that for 18 years pitted rebels from the Hindu Tamil minority against the government dominated by the Buddhist Sinhalese majority.

The Tigers agreed to let The Associated Press make a rare visit to a front-line rebel base on the condition that its location not be revealed. The trip was tightly controlled, and only a dozen of the 2,000 fighters said to operate out the base were made available to speak. But it provided a rare snapshot of how the Tigers think — and what they are preparing for.

In interview after interview this week, the fighters talked of their readiness to die for a Tamil homeland. One said she had volunteered to become a suicide bomber, known as a Black Tiger; another admitted she was once a child soldier.

Much of what they said was stock rhetoric, with repeated references to "historic responsibility" and "occupation forces." How much they had been ordered to say, how much came from indoctrination and how much was heartfelt was hard to judge.

But none showed doubts.

"Only by war can we get our homeland back, our identity, our dignity," Jayanthy said.

Using a Tamil homeland as an inspiration — along with a feared intelligence network — the Tigers have shaped a cult-like force whose fighters carry cyanide to swallow if they are captured, an agonizing death that hundreds have chosen.

Only the top commanders are given ranks; soldiers must wait until death.

"It is a final judgment on how we lived and fought," Jayanthy said.

The rebels' secretive chief, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is reverently referred to as "The Leader." He's rarely seen by outsiders, although pictures of the chubby commander are omnipresent in Tiger territory.

The Tigers will not say how large their force is, but they are estimated to have 5,000 to 7,000 fighters, and as many as half are believed to be children pressed into service. Backed by artillery and small naval gunboats, the rebels have waged guerrilla campaigns and have bested Sri Lanka's 66,000-strong army in conventional battles.

Their battlefield discipline is matched by a puritanical streak — tobacco and alcohol are banned, and they must wait until their mid-20s to marry, even then only with their commander's permission.

The Tigers have turned a half-century of discrimination against Sri Lanka's 3.2 million Tamils into a well-developed narrative of oppression. Nearly all can rattle off the offenses — the adoption of Sinhala as the sole national language in 1956; decades of anti-Tamil riots; and the 1981 burning of the Jaffna library that destroyed ancient Tamil manuscripts and modern archives.

Discrimination prompted the Tigers to take up arms in 1983. The resulting war on this tropical island of 19 million people — nearly three-quarters of them Sinhalese — left more than 65,000 people dead before the 2002 cease-fire.

By then, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, as the rebels are officially known, had eliminated most competing Tamil militant groups and carved out wide swaths of the north and east where they've created a functioning country.

These days in "Tamil Eelam," as the Tigers call the homeland they claim, there are schools, tax collectors and sports associations.

So why go back to war?

"Until all of Tamil Eelam is liberated, we have only war," said Kumaran Sivapathasundram, a 26-year-old fighter, explaining that many predominantly Tamil areas are still government-controlled, including the capital of an ancient Tamil kingdom, the city of Jaffna.

At the base — really just a few cement buildings inside a perimeter of bunkers disguised as thatch shacks, with swaying palms masking it all — capturing territory was the major topic.

One fighter said more suicide bombings were needed — and she'd already volunteered.

"I would like to be a Black Tiger," 26-year-old Priya Selvachandran said with a smile. "Because as a Back Tiger I can kill more soldiers."

Female suicide bombers are not uncommon. Last month, a woman disguised to look pregnant tried to kill Sri Lanka's top general, who was wounded in the blast that killed eight.

Selvachandran scoffed at the suggestion that such bombings, along with the Tigers' murderous suppression of dissent, had alienated many Tamils.

"It our responsibility to protect all Tamils from oppression, and we are supported in our efforts," she said. "They understand our methods."

The Tigers know some of their methods are unpopular, particularly their use of child soldiers.

At the base, every fighter said they volunteered at age 18.

But all also fit a pattern — they were the only members of their families fighting, common in the Tamil heartland where human rights groups say the Tigers demand one child from every family.

One fighter also tacitly acknowledged having joined as a child: 23-year-old Thiyagarash Piruthivu said she had been fighting since 1998, but insisted she was 18 then.

She told how that year — when she would have been 15 — she sneaked across the front lines and found a rebel base. Pressed for details, she could offer none.

No matter how she joined, she now sounds like a believer.

Showing off her cyanide capsule — a 2 1/2-inch glass tube filled with powder — she declared: "I will never be caught. I will live in Tamil Eelam or I will die."


Tamil Tiger rebels stand at their base at an undisclosed location in northern Sri Lanka,


Thiyagarash Piruthivu , 23, a Tamil Tiger rebel shows her cyanide capsule, at an undisclosed location in northern Sri Lanka,


A Tamil Tiger rebel adjusts the bullet vest of her fellow fighter at their base


Muttiah Jayanthy, 33, a Tamil Tiger rebel takes position in her bunker at their base


A Tamil Tiger rebel commander, left, briefs her fellow fighters at their base


A Tamil Tiger rebel looks on against a photograph of Liberation of Tamil Tiger Eelam leader Velupillai Prabhakaran,


Tamil Tiger rebel Patrol Party return to their base

They gotta do something about those hats. :)

Does anyone know a good source for a synopsis of the exact problem on Sri Lanka? I am having trouble coming to the "why" of this struggle.
bulldogg said:
They gotta do something about those hats. :)

Does anyone know a good source for a synopsis of the exact problem on Sri Lanka? I am having trouble coming to the "why" of this struggle.
Try put in tamil tiger, im sure something will pop up.

these guys look like they are determined and mean business, not to mention those are the cleanest looking uniforms ive seen on anyone called a rebel. but then again, they probably got prettied up for this interview.
bulldogg said:
They gotta do something about those hats. :)

Does anyone know a good source for a synopsis of the exact problem on Sri Lanka? I am having trouble coming to the "why" of this struggle.

I posted Some INfo In Another Thread if you are Interested

Some More Intersting Facts About the Conflict .. and How India was Drwan in the Conflict ...... India Sent around 1,00,000 Peacekeeping Troops Into Srilanka ..... and was Drawn into the War taking Fire From Both Sri Lanka Army and LTTE .

History of Sri Lanka Conflict and Indian Army IN Srilanka

Operation Cactus

Operation Poomalai - The Supply Drop

Accord, Airlift and Discord

SwordFish_13 said:

hmmm You will have to First Understand the Roots of the Conflict to Understand that :type:... there are Two Ethinic Grups in Srilanka Majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils ...... Tamils are People of Indian Origin LIving in Sri Lanka

Sinhalies argue that Tamils received preferential treatment under British rule ...... The Sri Lankan Constitution Clearily Discriminated Tamils and gave prefrential Rights to Singhalies ... They were not given equality in the grading systems and admission schools Colledges or Work

Then Came the Black July .....on July 23, 1983 Between 2,000 - 4,000 tamils were killed, tens of thousand tamil houses were destroyed ....... "Black July" is generally seen as the start of full-scale armed struggle between the tamil minority and the sinhalese majority.

The murder, looting and raping lasted well over 2 weeks while the Sri Lanks government stood by doing nothing to arrest the situation....... It was a stern warning from the then Indian government headed by Indira Gandhi that prompted the Sri Lankan government to eventually clamp down on the mayhem.

A large number of militant organisations were set up, one of which was the Tamil New Tigers (TNT), which was formed in 1972 by a small group of young Tamils and university students led by Velupillai Prabhakaran..... Initially, the LTTE's operations were carried on in cooperation with other militant groups. In April 1984, it had formally joined a common militant front, the Eelam National Liberation Front, or ENLF, which had been formed by the TELO, the EROS and the EPRLF.

In 1986, the LTTE launched a military attack on the TELO, the largest of the other Tamil militant groups in Sri Lanka. Over the next few months, the entire TELO leadership and several hundred volunteers were hunted down, and the group ceased to be a potent force. A few months later, they attacked training camps of the EPRLF, forcing it to withdraw entirely from the Jaffna peninsula... TRLO Tried to Flee To Maldives ... they launched a Attack on Maldieves to Set up a Seperate base there But It was Iliminated By India Navy Which Launched Oreration Cactus Against them .

Now LTTE was the Sole Potent Tamil Organisation Left as they Iliminated Others .... LTTE Controls Sizable Parts of Zaffana ....It has it's own civil authorities including judicial, police, financial, and cultural collectors, stamp wielding, immigration officers . Tiger-run bus and taxi service and, it's own Navy , Army and Airforce Wings , it has all the trappings of a real country ... The Sea Tigers and The Air Tigers .. But the Most feared them of all is the Black Tigers

They are considered to be one of the most elite and lethal suicide bombers in the world..... Their victims include Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa..... The Black Tigers are believed to be the most effective unit of its kind in the world, as the rest of the LTTE it is also secular, not driven by religious fanaticism........ The creation of the Black Tigers is based on the LTTE's studies of Asymmetric warfare; thus using suicide cadres balance the government's greater resources.......The extensive training of their suicide units separates the Black Tigers from other suicide bombers around the world.

Here is Official LTTE WEb Site


Compiled From Various Sources :)

Ronin said:
these guys look like they are determined and mean business, not to mention those are the cleanest looking uniforms ive seen on anyone called a rebel. but then again, they probably got prettied up for this interview.

Apart From a Clean Uniform These Rebels have a banking , Tax Collecting , Civil , Police , Administrative , Banking System .... Not to Mention Army Navy and a Airforce ..

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Tiger apologizes for Rajiv Gandhi's death



NEW DELHI - A senior Tamil Tiger leader apologized to India for the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, according to an interview to be aired Tuesday.

A Tiger suicide bomber killed Gandhi to protest India's involvement in Sri Lanka's civil war. The Tigers have acknowledged their role in the attack in the past, but this was the strongest expression of regret yet from the rebels.

"I would say it is a great tragedy, a monumental historical tragedy for which we deeply regret and we call upon the government of India and people of India to be magnanimous to put the past behind," the Tigers' chief negotiator, Anton Balasingham, told India's NDTV news channel.

The interview will be aired Tuesday. NDTV released some transcripts ahead of the broadcast.

However, Indian officials said the nation could never forgive the killing.

"This would be tantamount to endorsing the philosophy of terror, violence and political assassination," the junior foreign minister, Anand Sharma, told NDTV. "The people of India cannot forgive the dastardly crime committed by the (Tigers)."

Balasingham's comments came as mounting violence in Sri Lanka threatens to torpedo a shaky 2002 cease-fire that ended a civil war blamed for 65,000 deaths.

Balasingham said the Tigers, formally called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, had given India a commitment that it would not target its leaders again and would welcome greater Indian involvement in peace talks between the Tigers and Sri Lankan government.

The Tigers have pledged not to work against India's interests, Balasingham told NDTV, saying India should be "actively involved in the peace process."

Gandhi, the son of slain Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was killed by a female Tamil Tiger, who greeted him while he campaigned for elections in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu on May 21, 1991.

The Tigers were angered by Gandhi's decision to send Indian troops as peacekeepers to northern Sri Lanka in 1987 as part of an accord with the Sri Lankan government to broker peace.

The Indian troops ended up fighting with the Tigers and withdrew from Sri Lanka in 1990.