Founder of the LTTE Velupillai Prabhakaran Biography
Velupillai Prabhakaran (November 26, 1954 – May 19, 2009) was the founder and leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (the LTTE or the Tamil Tigers), a militant organization that sought to create an independent Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka.
For over 25 years, the LTTE waged a violent secessionist campaign in Sri Lanka that led to it being designated a terrorist organization by 32 countries. Prabhakaran was wanted by Interpol for terrorism, murder, organized crime and terrorism conspiracy.
Velupillai Prabhakaran also had arrest warrants against him in Sri Lanka and India.
Velupillai Prabhakaran Early life
Velupillai Prabhakaran was born in the northern coastal town of Velvettithurai on November 26, 1954, to Thiruvenkadam Velupillai and Vallipuram Parvathy.
Thiruvenkadam Velupillai was the District land Officer in the Ceylon Government Angered by what he saw as discrimination against Tamil people by successive Sri Lankan governments, he joined the student group TIP during the standardization debates.
In 1972 Prabhakaran founded the Tamil New Tigers (TNT) which was a successor to many earlier organizations that protested against the post-colonial political direction of the country, in which the minority Sri Lankan Tamils were pitted against the majority Sinhalese people.Political situation. He is one of the biggest historic figures for the Eela Tamils around the world.
In 1975, after becoming heavily involved in the Tamil movement, he carried out the first major political murder by a Tamil militant group, assassinating the mayor of Jaffna, Alfred Duraiappah, by shooting him at point-blank range when he was about to enter the Hindu temple at Ponnaalai.
The assassination was in response to the 1974 Tamil conference incident, for which the Tamil radicals had blamed Duraiappah, because he backed the then ruling Sri Lanka Freedom Party. He was also seen by Tamil militants as betraying the Tamil nationalist sentiments in the Jaffna Peninsula, by allying with the Sinhalese majority government.
Velupillai Prabhakaran Tamil Tigers
On May 5, 1976, the TNT was renamed the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. Religion was not a major factor in his philosophy or ideology, but the LTTE was characterized as anti-Buddhist. Prabhakaran himself was a lapsed Methodist.
The LTTE was also an organization that did not cite any material from religion or religious texts in any of its ideological documents and propaganda but were driven only by the idea of Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism. They focused on this single-minded approach and inspiration toward the attainment of an independent Tamil Eelam.
Press conference at Killinochchi
Prabhakaran’s first and only major press conference was held in Killinochchi on April 10, 2002. It was reported that more than 200 journalists from the local and foreign media attended this event and they had to go through a 10-hour security screening before the event in which Anton Balasingham introduced the LTTE leader as the “President and Prime minister of Tamil Eelam.”
A number of questions were asked about LTTE’s commitment towards the erstwhile peace process and Prabhakaran and Dr. Anton Balasingham jointly answered the questions.
Answering a question from one of the reporters Prabhakaran said that he has instructed the LTTE cadres to kill him if he compromised on the goal of independent state.
Repeated questions of his involvement in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination were only answered in a sober note by both Balasingham and Prabhakaran. They called it a “tragic incident” (“Thunbiyal Chambavam”, as quoted in Tamil) they requested the press “not to dig into an incident that happened 10 years ago.”
During the interview he stated that the right condition has not risen to give up the demand of Tamil Eelam. He further mentioned that “There are three fundamentals. That is Tamil homeland, Tamil nationality and Tamil right to self-determination.
These are the fundamental demands of the Tamil people. Once these demands are accepted or a political solution is put forward by recognising these three fundamentals and our people are satisfied with the solutions we will consider giving up the demand for Eelam.” He further added that Tamil Eelam was not only the demand of the LTTE but also the demand of the Tamil people.
Prabhakaran also answered a number of questions in which he reaffirmed their commitment towards peace process, quoted “We are sincerely committed to the peace process. It is because we are sincerely committed to peace that we continued a four month cessation of hostilities” was also firm in de-proscription of the LTTE by Sri Lanka and India, “We want the government of India to lift the ban on the LTTE. We will raise the issue at the appropriate time.”
Prabhakaran also insisted firmly that only de-proscription would bring forth an amenable solution to the ongoing peace process mediated by Norway: “We have informed the government, we have told the Norwegians that de-proscription is a necessary condition for the commencements of talks.”
Philosophy and Ideology
“Few dispute he was one of the most effective guerrilla leaders in modern warfare – displaying the tactical prowess of Afghanistan’s Ahmad Shah Masoud, the ruthlessness of Osama bin Laden and the conviction of Latin American revolutionary Che Guevara.”
Prabhakaran never developed a systematic philosophy, but did declare that his goal was ‘Revolutionary socialism and the creation of an egalitarian society’. He joined the Tamil nationalist movement in his youth and quickly established himself as a strong willed militant leader by founding the LTTE.
Velupillai Prabhakaran rare interviews, his annual Tamil Eelam Heroes Day speeches and the policies and actions of the LTTE can be taken as indicators of Prabhakaran’s philosophy and ideology. The following are important areas when considering philosophy and ideology of Prabhakaran.
Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism
Prabhakaran’s source of inspiration and direction was Sri Lankan Tamil nationalism. His stated and ultimate ideal was to get Tamil Eelam recognised as a nation as per the U.N. Charter that guarantees the right of a people to political independence.
The LTTE also proposed the formation of an Interim Self Governing Authority during Peace Negotiations in 2003. Former Tamil guerrilla and politician Dharmalingam Sithadthan has remarked that Prabhakaran’s “dedication to the cause of the Tamil Eelam was unquestionable, he was the only man in Sri Lanka who could decide if there should be war or peace.”Prabhakaran was also called “Karikalan” for his bravery and his administration (Karikalan refers to a famous Chola king who ruled around 270 CE.)
Militarism of the LTTE
Prabhakaran explicitly stated that an armed struggle is the only way to resist asymmetric warfare, in which one side, that of the Sri Lankan government, is armed and the other comparatively unarmed. He argued that he chose military means only after observing that non–violent means have been ineffectual and obsolete, especially after the Thileepan incident.
Thileepan, a colonel rank officer adopted Gandhian means to protest against the IPKF killings by staging a fast unto death from September 15, 1987, and by abstaining from food or water till 26 September, when he died in front of thousands of Tamils who had come there to fast along with him. This further strengthened Prabhakaran’s resolve that peaceful protests would either be ignored or crushed but never heard.
Tactically, Prabhakaran perfected the recruitment and use of suicide bomber units. His fighters usually took no prisoners and were notorious for assaults that often left every single enemy soldier dead. Interpol described him as someone who was “very alert, known to use disguise and capable of handling sophisticated weaponry and explosives.”
Sri Lankan Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka alleged that he had fled Sri Lanka to a foreign country subsequent to the run of Sri Lankan military victories in 2009. Malaysia’s police force was put on alert on reports that he had either fled there or to Thailand.
Velupillai Prabhakaran Death
When the Sri Lankan military advanced into LTTE territory, Prabakaran and his top leadership retreated into Mullaitivu, which became the rebels’ last stronghold. Early reports indicated that Prabakaran was killed by rocket attack while trying to flee the conflict zone in a captured ambulance and his body was badly burned.
After the pro-rebel Tamilnet claimed that he was alive, his body was shown on national TV. According to later reports, his body was found in the adjoining Nandikathal lagoon north of Vellamullivaikkal near Mullaithivu. Prabakaran’s identity was confirmed by Karuna Amman, his former confidant, and through DNA testing against his son’s genetic material who had been killed earlier by the Sri Lanka Military.
Circumstantial evidence suggested that his death was caused by massive head trauma, perhaps due to a shot at close range. There are also allegations that he was executed. The Sri Lankan army claimed to have found his body in a lagoon.
The Sri Lankan army released pictures and videos of what they claimed was Prabhakaran’s body lying on a stretcher, surrounded by soldiers. The corpse was dressed in Prabhakaran’s uniform, had Prabhakaran’s appearance, and had a large bullet wound in its forehead, suggesting that he was killed by a gunshot to the head.
On May 18, 2009, the Sri Lankan Government announced that Prabhakaran had been killed while trying to escape advancing Sri Lanka Army troops in the north of the country. The next day, his body was shown on Sri Lankan media, and a week later Tamil Tiger spokesman Selvarasa Pathmanathan, admitted that Prabhakaran had died on May 17.
Velupillai Prabhakaran has been wanted by Interpol and many other organizations since 1991 for terrorism, murder, organized crime and terrorism conspiracy.
Velupillai Prabhakaran has been issued a death warrant by the Madras High Court in India for plotting the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in May, 1991 and in 2002 Judge Ambepitiya issued an open warrant to arrest him in connection with the 1996 Central Bank Bombing. The judge found him guilty on 51 counts and sentenced him to 200 years in prison.
Velupillai Prabhakaran Personal life
The Asian Tribune has reported that Prabhakaran was married to Mathivathani Erambu on October 1, 1984 and she, along with their mother, their daughter (Duvaraga) and two sons, Charles Anthony and Balachandran were not in Sri Lanka. However, Sri Lanka military sources stated that they had recovered the corpse of Charles Anthony.
A senior Sri Lankan minister later informed that the Sri Lanka Army had also found the bodies of Prabhakaran’s younger son Balachandran, wife Mathivathani, and his daughter Duvaraga. However, the military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara later stated that there was no information about the whereabouts of the remaining members of the Prabhakaran’s family.
“We have not found their bodies and have no information about them,” he said. Yet, it is thought that the entire Prabhakaran’s family actually has been wiped out; the bodies of Madhivadhany, Duvaraga and Balachandran reportedly were found in a bushy patch about 600 meters way from where Prabhakaran’s body was found.
Velupillai Prabhakaran’s parents, Thiruvenkadam Velupillai and Parvathi, both in their 70s, were found in the Menik Farm camp for displaced people near the town of Vavuniya. The Sri Lankan military and the government gave public assurances that they would not be interrogated, harmed or ill treated.