Posted on June 23rd, 2016

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Unresolved Indo-Lanka issues


One-time head of the Law Faculty, University of Colombo, Dr Nirmala Chandrahasan last Thursday (June 16) called for tangible action on the part of the Sri Lankan government to bring in Sri Lankan refugees, living in India, particularly in the state of Tamil Nadu.
 Dr Chandrahasan estimated the number of Lankan refugees in India at the peak of the conflict at 200,000.
The appeal was made over seven years after the successful conclusion of the war with the annihilation of the LTTE leadership.
The distinguished law academic insisted that special arrangements should be made to facilitate the return of refugees. Dr Chandrahasan was addressing a forum on India-Sri Lanka relations in the 21st century, organised by the Bandaranaike Centre for International Studies (BSIS).
 The BCIS as well as the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute (LKI) should at least now initiate a comprehensive study on the conflict and the circumstances under which it was brought to an end. Such a study is required, especially against the backdrop of the proposed war crimes probe, in accordance with a Geneva resolution, co-sponsored by Sri Lanka, last October.
 Indian High Commissioner, Y.K. Sinha addressed the gathering at the onset of the forum. Former President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga was among the audience.
Dr Chandrahasan, the author of “Maritime Boundaries in the Indian Ocean” Sri Lanka and the Law of the Sea., explained a range of facilities provided by the Tamil Nadu administration to the Sri Lankans while underscoring the pivotal importance of bringing them back to post-war Sri Lanka. The internationally recognized academic stressed that those who had sought refuge in India didn’t have the means to seek sanctuary elsewhere. In addition to the refugee issue, Dr Chandrahasan discussed issues pertaining to Indo-Lanka maritime issues. She left out the simmering poaching, issue caused by Tamil Nadu fishing fleet.
 Dr Chandrahasan addressed the gathering after Sri Lanka’s former High Commissioner in New Delhi, Professor Sudharshan Seneviratne, delivered a brief lecture on some aspects of Indo-Lanka relations. However, Chandrahasan and Seneviratne, a former Professor of Archaeology and former Director General of Central Cultural Fund refrained from at least referring to India’s intervention here. Perhaps, they felt that it wasn’t the place to take up the issue. (The text of Prof. Seneviratne’s speech is on page 2 of Midweek)
 The Question and Answer session, too, essentially showed Sri Lanka in bad light in respect of Sri Lanka foreign policy, or lack of it.
J.N. Dixit, who had been Indian High Commissioner in Colombo, during eelam war I, in his memoirs blamed the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for military intervention here. (Makers of India’s Foreign Policy: Raja Ram Mohun Roy to Yashwant Sinha launched on January 1, 2004)
In fact, Dixit, who also functioned as Foreign Secretary, held Gandhi responsible for two major foreign policy blunders – namely the military intervention, in Sri Lanka, in the early 80s, and New Delhi’s ambiguous response to the then Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in Dec. 1979.
 Strangely, Sri Lanka, or any major political party here has ever commented on Dixit’s assertions, though he launched his memoirs over a decade ago. There should be a full disclosure of Indian intervention here to facilitate post-war reconciliation process. New Delhi can never absolve itself of its culpability for death and destruction here as well as the assassination of one time Premier Rajiv Gandhi on the night of May 21, 1991.
 Indo-Sri Lanka relations, in the 21st century, cannot be dealt with leaving out unprecedented Indian intervention in Sri Lanka during the previous century. A bloody war caused by Indian interference was brought to an end in early this century. Sri Lanka sustained a massive combined security forces campaign until troops, on the Vanni east front shot dead LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on the banks of the Nanthikadal lagoon.
 While academics discuss Indo-Lanka relations, the latter is facing a UN war crimes probe under the supervision of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).  IT WOULD BE IMPORTANT TO STRESS THAT THE ALLEGATION ON THE BASIS OF WHICH UNHRC ADOPTED RESOLUTION HAD NEVER BEEN VERIFIED IN ANY COURT OF LAW AND STILL REMAIN UNSUBSTANTIATED.
Interestingly, India, responsible for causing war here today represents the UNHRC comprising 47 countries. While high profile push for war crimes probe gathers momentum, Sri Lanka is depicted as a country hell-bent on driving Tamils out, over seven years after the end of the conflict. Unfortunately, the government seems not to be interested in countering propaganda efforts meant to deceive the world. Those loyal to former war-winning President Mahinda Rajapaksa have pathetically failed to promote Sri Lanka’s interests though they routinely referred to the Geneva issue at various media briefings.
India needs to be told that it couldn’t forgive herself for plunging Sri Lanka into a crisis by various investments such as recent restoration of Alfred Duraiappa stadium.
It would be pertinent to examine the recent incident, in Indonesian waters, involving a group of persons claiming to be Sri Lankan Tamil refugees against the backdrop of Dr Chandrahasan calling for a stepped up government efforts to bring back refugees from India. Contrary to Dr Chandrahasan’s assertions, at least a section of the Sri Lankans, domiciled in India, are seeking to reach Australia by boat. The recent incident in the Indonesian waters is a case in point.
Indonesia late last week dropped a plan to escort the trawler carrying 44 Australia-bound asylum seekers back to international waters after repairing the vessel.
The group had been stranded for about a week at the waters off Lhoknga coast in Aceh Besar, Aceh, following engine failure. Indonesia declared that it would be up to the asylum seekers to decide where they wanted to go.
The Sri Lankan asylum seekers travelled for nearly three weeks in the trawler bearing an Indian flag.
An influential section of the media reported the group of asylum seekers leaving Sri Lankan shores though the trawler actually left Tamil Nadu. Those who had been in it were certainly not Sri Lankan refugees of recent origin. Sri Lanka Navy headquarters confirmed the voyage certainly did not begin in Sri Lanka.
The London headquartered Amnesty International issued a statement urging Indonesia to accommodate the refugees. Indonesia ignored the plea. Indonesia went to the extent of firing warning shots to force some persons who had disembarked to return to the trawler before it was escorted back to international waters.
Those who had been forced back to international waters could be among Sri Lankans categorized as missing during the conflict. As they had been in India before undertaking the recent hazardous journey to Australia, New Delhi would be able to shed light on their identities. It would be of pivotal importance to establish their date of arrival in India, particularly whether they moved across the Palk Strait after the conclusion of the conflict, in May, 2009.
Amnesty International, in a statement, suggested that the latest batch of asylum seekers might have fled Sri Lanka in the wake of a spate of arrests carried out last April under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The human rights watchdog made no reference to the arrests made close on the heels of recovery of explosives including a suicide jacket in Chavakachcheri, Jaffna, during the last week of March.
The writer has earned the wrath of the government for his reportage of the Chavakachcheri explosives haul leading to a spate of arrests in both northern and eastern provinces and the possibility of former members of the LTTE planning to cause mayhem. Both Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) recorded statements from the writer close on the heels of the government closing down the Police Media Spokesman’s Office. The unit remains closed.
 The Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which recognized the LTTE as the sole representative of Tamil speaking people in the run up to Eelam War IV (August 2006 to May 2009) and remained committed to the LTTE macabre cause, until the very end, reiterated the call for a hybrid war crimes court in accordance with the Geneva resolution, adopted last October. The four-party TNA comprises the Illankai Thamil Arasu Kadchi and three former terrorist groups, sponsored by India, namely the TELO, PLOTE and EPRLF.
Jaffna District MP and attorney at law, M.A. Sumanthiran, made representations on behalf of the TNA at the Congressional caucus briefing on June 14. Obviously, Sumanthiran’s opinion tallied with that of UK based Suren Surendiran, spokesperson for the influential Global Tamil Forum (GTF). The Island received Sumanthiran’s statement on the night of June 16, hours after the forum on India-Sri Lanka relations in the 21st century ended. MP Sumanthiran dealt separately with several critical issues. Let me reproduce MP Sumanthiran verbatim to highlight Sri Lanka’s predicament as the UNHRC prepares to receive an oral statement on the situation in Sri Lanka next week.
On the role of the Government of India: “This particular Indian Government has also reiterated to us their role in exercising those good offices that brought them to sign the (Indo-Lanka) Accord continues. India in a sense signed the Accord on behalf of the Tamil people. It was not necessary for a neighbouring country to sign an accord with Sri Lanka providing for power sharing and one unit of devolution and so on. It’s in the context of serious violence that was being perpetrated against the Tamils in Sri Lanka and that also had a long history culminating in the very serious one that happened in 1983 and the fleeing of refugees to India. Even today there are 168,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees who are living in South India. So it’s a legitimate concern of India – that India under-wrote this agreement on behalf of the Tamil people. But international politics – what it is today – may not show India directly dictating as what it were, what should happen in Sri Lanka. That is not how things are done. But India’s legitimate concern continues to remain in enforcing all of the provisions of the Indo-Lanka Accord.”
On the role of the US: “I think the US has played a very significant role already in the resolutions that it mooted in the UN Human Rights Council encouraging changes, and therefore must continue to play that role. It is true that there has been a significant change, a monumental change as described by the Ambassador, but the foot must not be taken off the pedal too early. For the simple reason that we have seen change, as a result of some pressure, some encouragement, some nudging and those must continue… Our plea to the US Government would be don’t express satisfaction too early as there is still a lot to do during that phase.”
On international involvement in the accountability process: “If you ask me about international involvement in the accountability process, as far as I know the Government has not said ‘no’ to international involvement. All the multiple voices that you talk about say ‘international involvement – yes, but not judges’. Now I take great exception to that, because as I said at the beginning, the text of the 2015 Resolution is a negotiated text. We asked for (an) international inquiry, and we settled for a hybrid model. So that was negotiated with the Government of Sri Lanka. And having compromised and settled to a model which in the Resolution doesn’t merely say hybrid but explains in detail judges, prosecutors, defence attorneys and investigators, it obviously means judge qua judges, prosecutors qua prosecutors, so on and so forth. So it does not mean (for) judges to be advisors or judges to be involved in some other capacity. And that was well understood. I was personally involved in the negotiations, with the United States of America also participating in that particular process. There were some doubts created, as to whether the Constitution of Sri Lanka would allow for foreign nationals to function as judges and we went into that question, clarified it, and said yes they can and that is how that phraseology was agreed upon. And so, to us having negotiated and compromised and agreed that there would be a hybrid tribunal to try these mass atrocities, it is not open for the Government now to shift its stance and say ‘well, international involvement yes, but it’s in a different form, now…’. That is not acceptable to us at all. And we have said this. Quite openly I have spoken in Parliament at least two or three times and the Government has not contested me on that. We have said it to the President when he called for an all party conference on the implementation on the UN resolution, and he has not contested us on that. But as you say, in the public there are different voices that we hear. So we are concerned as much as people are, with regard to this particular issue, wondering if the Government is shifting its stance. However, such a mechanism has not been brought about as yet. So we will wait until we reach that particular point of setting up a court of the Special Counsel’s office and so on and so forth and insist that every word, and spirit, in that resolution will be complied with.”
 Of course, MP Sumanthiran conveniently forgot that India had caused a hellish situation on the ground here in the 80s to pave the way for the Indo-Lanka Accord, in July, 1987. New Delhi transformed several Tamil armed outfits to deadly fighting machines in the 80s before one of them (the LTTE) eradicated the rest to emerge as the single most powerful organization here. India forced the Indo-Lanka Accord on Sri Lanka to thwart the then JRJ government eradicating the group. Having deployed the Indian Army (July 1987-March 1990) here, India established an illegal Tamil National Army (TNA) to protect EPRLF-led puppet North-Eastern provincial administration before quitting North-East Sri Lanka. The rest is history.
Had the LTTE survived the war on the Vanni east front and somehow reached an understanding with the government of Sri Lanka, it wouldn’t have been subject of discussion at Geneva. The TNA wouldn’t have had an opportunity to participate in the Congressional caucus briefing on June 14. In fact, the TNA would have remained under the LTTE’s firm control and the GTF not formed at all. The GTF came into being in February, 2010, in the wake of the LTTE annihilation. Prabhakaran wouldn’t have seen a requirement for such a groping if he wielded military power and the TNA-GTF combination would never have become a reality.

  ECIAL REPORT : Part 126

By Shamindra Ferdinando

Close on the heels of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination on the night of May 21, 1991, in Tamil Nadu, the then government of India sought Sri Lanka’s assistance to verify the identity of the woman suicide bomber Dhanu (not her real name) as well as that of Pakiachandran alias Sivarasan, the leader of joint LTTE-Indian team tasked to carry out the operation.
Then President Ranasinghe Premadasa’s government swiftly responded to India’s request for assistance. Sri Lanka fully cooperated with India in spite of the absence of a formal agreement on such matters.
It would be pertinent to examine Sri Lanka’s support in respect of India’s efforts against the backdrop of Sri Lanka deciding to establish Office of Missing Persons (OMP) in accordance with a resolution adopted at the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Oct 1, 2015.  Sri Lanka’s efforts cannot succeed unless foreign governments shared information in respect of those who had secured citizenship after having entered respective countries both through legal and illegal means.
The Foreign Ministry on behalf of the government on June 7, 2016 declared that various Presidential Commissions had received over 65,000 complaints in respect of missing persons. The FM statement dealt with complaints received since 1994.
The post-cabinet media briefing was told of the decision to amend the Registration of Deaths (Temporary Provisions) Act, No. 19 of 2010 to enable the issuance of Certificates of Absence.
The FM said: “The suffering and distress of the families of those missing is exacerbated as, at this point in time, the government does not recognize the status of missing persons. This means that the families of missing persons face a range of practical issues including inability or difficulty in facilitation of property transfer and ownership, applying for compensation, qualifying for social welfare payments and pensions and accessing frozen assets. Although a number of ad hoc measures have been attempted in the recent past, they have failed to successfully address issues faced by the families of the missing.”
The FM added: “Certificates of Absence have been used in a number of countries with a high incidence of missing persons and has been considered as an effective interim measure that balances the psychological and practical needs of family members and loved ones without dismissing the need for active investigation into cases of missing persons.”
However, the Paranagama Commission placed the number of persons categorized as missing since 1983 at over 19,000. Retired High Court judge Maxwell Paranagama politely declined to comment on the sharp discrepancy in the numbers quoted by his commission and the government. The Island raised the same issue with the National Peace Council (NPC) as the prominent NGO recently placed the number of missing at 20,000. Responding to The Island query in respect of varying figures propagated by interested parties, Dr Jehan Perera on behalf of the NPC said: “The NPC quoted the most reliable and recent figure which was given by the Paranagama Commission on Missing Persons, and which is about 19,000 complaints. It is very important to ascertain what the correct number is.  This is why we need a Truth Commission with persons who are credible and trusted by all sides. This is also why we may need to bring in international persons or third parties whom all sides find acceptable.  Whether the number is 20,000 or 65,000 or less than that it is important to find a number that people can accept on all sides. Or else we will be arguing about numbers and not dealing with the issues of accountability, responsibility why these disappearances occurred at all.”
Having destabilized Sri Lanka through terrorism in accordance with New Delhi’s objectives, the regional power had no option but to seek Sri Lanka’s help to investigate Gandhi assassination. Confirming the identities of key players involved in the assassination plot required Sri Lanka’s assistance.
Soon after the assassination, India sent a group of personnel from the Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to Colombo. The Indian team included no less a person than D.R. Kaarthikeyan, head of the investigation. India made available photographs of the suspected assassin as well as kurta pyjama clad man to Sri Lankan police as the two governments cooperated closely in a bid to establish the LTTE’s role in the assassination. SIT personnel were flown to Palaly and from there escorted to a house where Sri Lankan authorities believed the suicide bomber lived. Although, information provided by the then government of Sri Lanka in respect of the suicide cadre whom the Sri Lankan police identified as Sundari had proved wrong, Sri Lanka cooperated fully with the Indian investigation.
Sri Lanka confirmed the identity of kurta pyjama clad man as one-eyed Sivaraja Master alias Sivarasan of the LTTE. His LTTE name was Raghuvaran. Sri Lanka provided a range of information regarding LTTE operations in Tamil Nadu. Sri Lanka never hesitated in providing the required assistance to India whenever the SIT got in touch with authorities in Colombo. In early 1992, President Premadasa’s government facilitated India’s efforts to establish Sivarasan’s identity through DNA testing. Sri Lanka obtained blood samples of Sivarasan’s mother, Sivapackiyam Chandrasekeran and brother, Ravichandran and passed them over to India. India successfully matched DNA profiles of one-eyed Jack prepared from blood and tissue collected from his body with those of his mother and brother. Sri Lanka also provided SIT photographs of Sivarasan and other documents available with the Registration of Persons, Colombo.
 Sri Lanka also facilitated Indian government pronouncements in respect of Velupillai Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman as accused in the Gandhi assassination. The international community never acknowledged the pivotal role played by Sri Lanka in the successful Indian investigation into the first suicide attack on its soil. The probe and the subsequent prosecution of LTTE personnel and their Indian associates cleared possible foreign government involvement in the conspiracy.
In addition to Sri Lankan government backing, India also received assistance from various armed Tamil groups operating in Colombo and Tamil Nadu to establish the LTTE’s involvement in the assassination. Sivarasan had been an employee of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) and initially served the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization (TELO) before switching allegiance to the LTTE. Sivarasan had been among those who received combat training in India in the early 80s. Having lost an eye in early 1987 during a confrontation with the military, he was among those airlifted to India by the IPKF soon after the signing of the Indo-Lanka Accord in July 1987.
Sri Lankan and Indian authorities believed that the suicide cadre Dhanu was actually Kalaivani alias Akino, a daughter of Tamil nationalist Rajaratnam who passed away in Chennai way back in 1975. The SIT thoroughly investigated the possibility of the suicide bomber being Rajaratnam’s youngest daughter from his second marriage. However, Rajaratnam’s second wife and the second daughter (also a fighting cadre of the LTTE) maintained that Akino was killed in a confrontation with the Sri Lankan Army on Sept 8, 1991. Akino who had held the rank of ‘Captain’ was among seven female LTTE cadres killed on that day according to the LTTE’s ‘diary of heroes.’
 The LTTE never revealed the real identity of the woman suicide bomber. But, if Akino had actually carried out the suicide attack, Gandhi’s assassin was 23 at the time she gave her life for Prabhakaran’s macabre cause.
Now that India had endorsed the Geneva as a member of the 47-nation body, it would be New Delhi’s responsibility to assist Sri Lanka track down those who had been categorized as missing. The Indian High Commission in Colombo didn’t respond to The Island query whether New Delhi would share information available with her agencies with the proposed OMP. Can Sri Lanka be deprived of international assistance to help address a major accountability issue. The Report on the Second Mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Complaints of Abductions and Disappearances especially referred to foreign governments refusing to share information, thereby undermining its efforts.
Sri Lanka’s fresh efforts will certainly suffer a debilitating setback in case foreign governments continued to decline to share information citing domestic laws.
Let me briefly discuss three cases to highlight the pivotal importance of the OMP being given the much needed international assistance. One-time US Ambassador in Colombo Robert O Blake and several other international organizations and a section of the media accused the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) of killing Thayapararajah during the second week of September, 2009. Allegations persisted though Thayapararajah’s body was never found. Accusations persisted until Thayapararajah was taken into custody in May 2014 after entering Tamil Nadu illegally. The former head of Vanni Tech set up in Kilinochchi during Norway-arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA) is still languishing in an Indian jail. Thayapararajah’s case is certainly not an isolated incident. Perhaps, Thayapararajah can help Sri Lanka to identify a network/s responsible for facilitating clandestine entries into India. Thayapararajah had never been wanted in Sri Lanka on terrorism charges though he chose to flee the country clandestinely with his wife and children. Had they died on their way to Tamil Nadu by boat due to some mishap, they, too, would have been in the list of the disappeared.
 Sri Lanka should seek an opportunity to interview Thayapararajah without further delay. In spite of defeating the LTTE in May 2009, Sri Lanka never made a genuine effort to examine accountability issue until former President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed an International Advisory Council (IAC) headed by Sir Desmond Silva, QC to assist the Paranagama Commission.
Case No. II is equally interesting. Australia admitting that it issued a new passport to leader of the Frontline Socialist Party Kumar Gunaratnam in the name of Noel Mudalige. Although a large scale issuance of passports bearing new identities to those seeking political asylum on various grounds is common knowledge, the admission by former Australian High Commissioner in respect of Kumar Gunaratnam now behind bars in Sri Lanka surprised many. But, she had no option but to acknowledge Australia’s role due to circumstances beyond her control. This was during 2013.
 The third example underscores the absurdity of some accusations pertaining to missing persons. Former LTTE combatant Jesuthasan Antonythasan who had been listed among the disappeared starred in Dheepan which won the Palme d’Or award at the 68th Cannes film festival in May 2015. Antonythasan was introduced there as a Sri Lankan novelist and former child soldier. Interestingly, Antonythasan played the role of a former LTTE cadre who had fled the country. The former LTTEer was portrayed as a person with battlefield experience. Antonythasan had reached France during 1993 using a fake passport via Thailand and was given political asylum.
The media quoted the award winning ex-LTTEer as having said: “I came to France because at the time I was able to only find a fake French passport and not a fake British or Canadian passport,” Anthonythasan said, noting how difficult it had been to learn the French language. He declared that it would still be dangerous for him to return home.
Officially in 2009 the civil war came to an end. However even today there are still armed attacks against minorities in Sri Lanka,” Antonythasan was quoted as having said.
“Even today, we don’t know how many prisoners of war were captured by the government, we have no real information.”
Now that the government has placed the number of missing over 65,000 on the basis of complaints received by presidential commissions since 1994, for the first time the total number of missing is far more than the number allegedly killed by the Sri Lankan military during the final phase of the Vanni offensive (March 2007 to May 2009).
Anthonythasan refrained from mentioning who forcibly conscripted him at the age of 16 to fight for terrorists.
France subsequently experienced the folly of accommodating various undesirable elements within EU borders. Terrorists having citizenship of EU member states massacred 130 persons in coordinated attacks in Paris. Subsequently, terrorist struck in Belgium. In fact, LTTE operation directed against Rajiv Gandhi and Paris massacre can be compared.

The Paranagama Commission, in its second mandate report emphasized the requirement to inquire into specific complaints in respect of disappearances during the final phase of the war. The Commission recommended a judge-led investigation into this incident is necessary and indeed the Commission has already taken steps to appoint an Investigative team that has begun its work in relation to this incident. The Commission said: “We have made a finding that there is a reasonable basis to believe, having heard evidence on this issue, that these individuals may have been executed.”

The Commission also referred to several other disappearances, including those levelled by Yasmin Sooka, Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights in South Africa and former UN Adviser on Post-war Accountability issues in Sri Lanka alleging 110 disappearances on 18 May 2009

The Commission, too, referred to the Thayapararajah disappearance in Sept 2009 and re-emergence in Tamil Nadu in May 2014.

The Paranagama Commission alleged that foreign governments had declined to assist its efforts to locate missing persons due to their strict domestic laws.

Utilization of civilians by LTTE Intelligence admitted

 Thamilini’s revelations reverberates


By Shamindra Ferdinando

Subramanium Sivagami, alias ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s book Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil  translated into Sinhala as Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata (In the Shadow of a Sharp Sword), discussed an issue hitherto conveniently ignored by those who had been wanting the government to address the grievances of Tamil speaking people. Senior lecturer, Saminadan Wimal, translated Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil into Sinhala, free of charge.
It would be pertinent to mention that many believed Thamilini had been killed during the last major LTTE offensive action at Anandapuram, Puthukudirippu, in April, 2009. In fact, a section of the Tamil, English and Sinhala media speculated about Thamilini’s fate against the backdrop of four top commanders, of Sothiya and Maalathy fighting formations, being among over 500 dead during three days of fighting. Veteran Canada-based journalist, D.B.S. Jeyaraj, in a special report, titled Top Tiger leaders killed in a major debacle for LTTE, posted on April 6, 2009, referred to an unconfirmed report, regarding Thamilini’s death.
Thamilini dealt with severe difficulties, experienced by those civilians, who had been used by the Intelligence Wing, of the LTTE, to facilitate operations in areas under government control. The LTTEer alleged that those who should have been concerned about persons, and families, involved with the Intelligence Wing, had forgotten them.
Those who had been demanding to know the truth were strangely silent on ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s revelations, though Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil was launched’ in Kilinochchi’ on March 19, 2016. The Sinhala version was launched at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) on May 13, 2016.
Prem Dissanayake published the book.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s husband, Jeyakumaran Mahadevan, a British national, of Sri Lankan origin earned the wrath of an influential section of Tamil politicians, as well as the Tamil Diaspora for releasing controversial memoirs. Perhaps Mahadevan couldn’t have launched Thamilini’s memoirs if not for the support received from veteran film maker, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, one of the strongest critics of the Sri Lankan military. Dharmasiri Bandaranayake and Mahadevan had first met in London, in 2007, at the height of eelam war IV.
Mahadevan’s father had died, at the hands of the LTTE, in Jaffna, and he fled Sri Lanka, following the July 1983 violence, directed at Tamil civilians by the military as well as state backed mobs, in the wake of the Tinnaveli, Jaffna massacre which claimed the lives of 13 soldiers.
 The Island dealt with several aspects of Thamilini’s revelations on May 25, 2016, and June 1, 2016. Having perused the Sinhala version twice, the writer felt the Tamil media, as well as those hell bent on hauling Sri Lanka up before a hybrid court, as agreed in Geneva last Sept/Oct will not under any circumstances accept Thamilini’s version of events. Thamilini had been blunt in her assertions, revelations and claims. She convincingly contradicted others, in respect of the LTTE exploiting the Norway-arranged Ceasefire Agreement (CFA), signed in Feb, 2002, to prepare for war, assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar, on the night of August 12, 2005, as well as the utilization of civilians in operations carried out by the Intelligence Wing. However, Thamilini didn’t make reference to a single assassination carried out by the LTTE Intelligence Wing.
Thamilini’s admission that civilians, living in areas under government control, had been used by the Intelligence Wing should be examined against the backdrop of high profile assassinations carried out over the years in the South and former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on the night of May 21, 1991 at Sriperumbudur, South India. The LTTE hit squad, responsible for Kadirgamar’s assassination, used his neighbour Lakshman Thalaisingham’s residence. Thalaisingham, a former Royal College cricketer, and company executive, claimed that he wasn’t aware of a hit squad using the unoccupied upstair room of his house.
There had been many instances of the LTTE Intelligence Wing utilizing Tamils, living in the south. Thamilini referred to many women being detained for supporting the LTTE. Having met many such detainees, during her detention in Colombo, she shared her experience.
Thamilini succumbed to cancer last October.
The New Indian Express quoted activist Thyagarajah Nirosh as having asserted that Thamilini had played into the hands of the international community which has been saying that both the armed forces and the Tigers committed war crimes.
Nirosh felt that Thamilini might have written the book, under duress, as she was in a Lankan prison and had undergone army-organised “rehabilitation” for four years. The activist wasn’t alone in propagating that the book was written under duress.
Nirosh also suspected that new material might have been inserted to suit the Lankan government’s interest, after her death. The New Indian Express interviewed Nirosh immediately after the launch of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil,’ in Kilinochchi, with the participation of over 100 rehabilitated LTTE personnel. The four-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA) boycotted the event. However, those casting aspersions on Thamilini had conveniently forgotten that she was dead at the time of the Kilinochchi launch. Even if she had been under pressure of the military and or for some other reason decided to expose the LTTE, she couldn’t have compelled Mahadevan to go ahead with the project. After having played a critical role, in the campaign against what they repeatedly called the Rajapaksas’ dictatorship, leading to the January, 2015 revolution, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake and his friends would never have cooperated with the military. In fact, such an allegation is an affront to Bandaranayake whose scathing attacks on the previous administration facilitated Maithripala Sirisena’s victory at the January, 2015, presidential polls.
Addressing the launch at the SLFI, Bandaranayke referred to various attempts meant to sabotage the project. Bandaranayake recalled, what he called, ‘Mahason Balakaya’ threatening him with death and severe criticism of him for over a month, after a decision was made to launch the Sinhala translation. Bandaranayake emphasized that they courageously campaigned against the war risking their lives. The film maker declared that they used both cinema and drama to campaign against the war. Bandaranayake recalled the circumstances under which they exploited the Norway-arranged CFA to show Trojan Kanthawo at Webmadi, Jaffna, in 2003. Bandaranayake had first met Saminadan Wimal during his visit to Jaffna, in 2003. Thamilini had been among those LTTEers at the showing of Trojan Kanthawo at a school at Wembadi. Subsequently, both Trojan Kanthawo and Maname had been shown in Trincomalee. An irate Bandaranayake said that he was called an LTTEer for many years.
 Bandaranayake revealed that he had not been aware of Mahadevan marrying Thamilini until the former sought his support to secure the best possible medical advice for his wife.
 Among the audience was Dr Mahendra Perera who caringly treated her. A section of the media, and racists, reacted angrily to Thamilini receiving treatment at the Maharagama cancer hospital. On the day, following her death, a section of the media reported her passing away in a derogatory manner, Bandaranayake complained. Thamilini’s body was taken to Kilinochchi without being embalmed.
 Bandaranayake said that he didn’t care about media criticism, including Tamilweb attack, in India. The film maker strongly criticized Divaina for challenging his efforts to reveal the truth. The renowned director said that Thamilini’s memoirs would be the beginning of what he called literature on the eelam war. “Recently, my son, with the intervention of Rupavahini, did a book on a suicide cadre to highlight his experience,”
Bandaranayake denied any government involvement in his project.
Those who had been opposed to Thamilini’s book castigated Bandaranayake but they never bothered to peruse it. Thamilini had done much more than those opposed to the LTTE to counter Tamil Diaspora allegations. Bandaranayake strongly denied accusations by the LTTE rump, and LTTE sympathizes, that they had included information to tarnish the image of the LTTE. Saminadan Wimal and Gamini Viyangoda too addressed the gathering.
Thamilini discussed the life of those women who had been captured by the military during clashes, on ground, as well as sea.
Thamilini’s version of events exposed those who threw their weight behind the LTTE as long they felt the organisation could achieve its military objectives at any cost. They remained committed to the eelam cause until the very end. Obviously, they believed in a successful LTTE counter attack, on the Vanni east front, though the top LTTE leadership by January 2009, knew the imminent collapse of the organization. Thamilini expertly dealt with the rapid collapse of the group’s fighting capability.
Thamilini also exposed the very angry reaction of those who had backed the LTTE and represented its interests after they learnt of her surrender to the Army on May 16, 2009. Thamilini talked bitterly of them accusing her of surrendering to the Army with a large amount of money and then helping the military to identify many members of the organisation at welfare centres in Vavuniya. Thamilini explained how some Tamils hated her for not dying on the Vanni battlefields where many of her senior colleagues perished. Thamilini alleged that it’s those who couldn’t bear the LTTE’s humiliating defeat.
Having joined the LTTE, on July 29, 1991, Thamilini had served both combat and political units until her surrender on May 16, 2009. At the time of her surrender, she functioned as the head of the Women’s Political Wing. Thamilini revealed the circumstances where, under Velupillai Prabhakaran’s personal intervention, those engaged in political work were sent for weapons training. Thamilini had joined the 21 batch of women cadres sent to Sothiya Regiment in April 1992. Thamilini’s memoirs also dealt with her first meeting with Prabhakaran before she received weapons training.
Thamilini talked of the Directorate of the Military Intelligence (DMI) infiltrating the Vanni during CFA. The LTTEer discussed her chance meeting with an army officer whom she previously knew as a journalist from Colombo who had conversed with LTTEers in Tamil. Thamilini also bitterly commented on those Tamils who worked with the Army and especially one who mocked surrendered LTTE cadres by displaying newspapers announcing the death of Prabhakaran. Thamilini expressed shock at the behaviour of those who collaborated with the Army.
Thamilini has given the military an opportunity to examine some critically important events afresh. The arrest and execution of one-time Prabhakaran’s deputy, Mahattaya, on a charge of being an agent of India’s premier intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), should be re-examined against the backdrop of Thamilini’s revelations. Contrary to previous reports which dealt with the arrest of Mahattaya, Thamilini declared the top Tiger was taken in by Soosapillai Joseph Anthonydas, better known as Colonel Sornam. The arrest was made at Mahatatya’s camp, situated at Manipay, in the Jaffna peninsula.
Thamilini explained a series of changes implemented, at the behest of Prabhakaran, immediately after Mahattaya’s arrest. With the removal of Mahattaya, Prabhakahan brought in the then Jaffna District Special Commander, Dinesh (S.P. Thamilchelvam), as Mahattaya’s replacement. Thamilchelvam played a significant role in Prabhakaran’s strategy until the Air Force blasted his hideout, at Kilinochchi, on the morning of Nov 2, 2007. Following his death, the LTTE conferred its highest military rank Brigadier to Thamilchelvan.
Thamilini confirmed that members of the LTTE political wing had been directly engaged, even in high intensity battles. Thamilini herself had been involved in the devastating LTTE offensive directed at the Pooneryn-Nagathevanthurai bases, in early Nov. 1993. Her revaluation that LTTE Intelligence Wing leader, Pottu Amman, had been assigned by Prabhakaran to coordinate the operation underscored the significance of the intelligence leader’s capabilities. Thamilini discussed with administration Pottu Amman issuing instructions to those preparing to overrun the Pooneryn-Nagathevanthurai bases. Among those 1,000 wounded, during the three-day battle, were Sornam and Political Wing leader Thamilchelvan. Thamilini also revealed those assigned to the Political Wing receiving lectures at the Jaffna University. They had an opportunity to receive lectures on the LTTE’s history, liberation struggles in various parts of the world and various other relevant subjects.
 Thamilini also dealt with the contentious issue of rape and sexual harassment by the military. She unreservedly condemned those who had been propagating that almost all women, taken into custody by the military, had been raped or molested. She lashed out at those propagating lies at the expense of female cadres at all levels who risked their lives for the organization. She alleged that bodies of those who had been sexually abused were shown seeking political advantage.
 She complained bitterly about the women navy officer responsible for carrying out body checks at Welikada. She described the body check cruel and disrespectful whereas she basically commended the conduct of officers and men responsible for accepting surrendering LTTE cadres.
As pointed out by Gamini Viyangoda, those who fought against the LTTE, too, should have the courage to critically examine the past, accept wrongdoing on the part of the government and explore ways and means of taking remedial measures. Thamilini obviously had the strength to record her experience, during her 18-year long stay with an organization which was at one time considered militarily undefeatable. Mahadevan, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, Saminadan Wimal, and all those who contributed to the release of Thamilini’s memoirs, should earn the respect of all for going ahead with the project knowing very well it will weaken war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka. Those who criticize the Sirisena-Wickremesinghe government for not safeguarding the interests of the military should be ashamed of themselves for not forcefully taking up Thamilini’s revelations. None of those members of parliament, loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, had referred to Thamilini’s revelations so far, much to the disappointment of patriotic people. They had so far ignored some of the most crucial post-war revelations, made by a person who had been on the front throughout the campaign.

LTTE’s rapid collapse after Kilinochchi debacle through the eyes of Thamilini


Vidusha ordered to shoot surrendering civilians

Commander of the Malathy Regiment, Vidusha, had started to cry as soon as she saw ‘Colonel’ Thamilini walking towards her. The chance meeting had taken place at Sugandipuram, one of the last remaining LTTE bastions, east of the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini quoted Vidusha as having told her that she was embarrassed when she thought of the organisation’s conduct. Vidusha had revealed receiving instructions from the top leadership to shoot those wanting to surrender to the army below their knees. Although, she had resented the directive, she instructed some cadres of the situation. They had told her how could they shoot their relatives and it was better to shoot themselves.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini quoted Vidusha as having told her regretfully the situation the organisation had fallen to by ordering mass scale shooting of civilians.
By Shamindra Ferdinando
Subramanium Sivagami alias ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata (In the Shadow of a Sharp Sword), the Sinhala translation of Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil, intimately dealt with the final phase of the war on the Vanni east front.
Thamilini, who had served the front line LTTE fighting formations before being appointed leader of the Tiger Women’s Political Wing, discussed Intelligence Wing leader Pottu Amman’s ridiculous efforts to halt advancing government forces. Senior LTTE commanders had been extremely angry over a spate of directives, issued by Pottu Amman, without taking into consideration severe difficulties experienced by fighting formations. Pottu Amman had earned the wrath of fellow commanders for ignoring the plight of the fighting formations, close on the heels of the LTTE being forced to abandon Kilinochchi, during the first week of January, 2009.
Those who had been demanding to know the truth were strangely silent on ‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s first hand account, though Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil was launched in Kilinochchi on March 19, 2016. The Sinhala version was launched at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) on May 13, 2016.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s husband, Jeyakumaran Mahadevan, a British national of Sri Lankan origin, earned the wrath of an influential section of Tamil politicians, as well as Tamil Diaspora, for releasing shocking memoirs.
By January, 2009, several fighting formations had been engaged in large scale offensive operations, on the Vanni east front. The military had eradicated the LTTE fighting cadre, in the Vanni west, and the remaining units surrounded in the Vanni east, across the Kandy-Jaffna A9 road. But the LTTE continued to resist in spite of rapidly losing its capacity to face the army.
Much to the anger of fellow field commanders, Pottu Amman had positioned disabled cadres with explosives, to thwart the army advance on Puthukuduirippu, the main LTTE bastion, east of A9. At the behest of Pottu Amman, disabled cadres had carried out suicide attacks on troops advancing on Puthukuduirippu. The LTTE Intelligence Wing leader had also ordered Black Tigers to mount claymore mine attacks. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini declared that a large number of LTTE cadres had perished during the final phase of an unwinnable war.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini inferred that Pottu Amman had the blessings of LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran. She quoted Prabhakaran as having declared that he would ensure that the Black Tigers would be the most powerful weapon of the weak community.
Both Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman believed the army could be halted by carrying out mass scale suicide attacks. Referring to a Black Tiger suicide attack mounted during the first week of February, 2009, on the 59.3 Brigade, south of Puthukuduirippu, ‘Colonel’ Thamilini acknowledged the group lacked the wherewithal to halt the army. She said that the global community had been both suspicious and shocked over the collapse of what it had hitherto believed was a very powerful organisation. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini asserted Prabhakaran’s unilateral decisions caused massive destruction to the Tamil-speaking people.
Although, Prabhakaran had faulted Pottu Amman for constantly complaining against other senior commanders, including Karuna, he didn’t obviously intervene. Commander of the Malathy Regiment, ‘Colonel’ Vidusha had expressed disappointment with regard to Pottu Amman’s conduct, Thamilini quoted ‘Colonel’ Vidusha as having told her, at a medical facility, at Iranapalai, that she lost even the little bit of respect she had for Pottu Amman for not taking stark ground realities into consideration. Thamilini had met ‘Colonel’ Vidusha shortly after the latter had met Prabhakaran, in the company of Pottu Amman, during the final phase of fighting on the Vanni east front.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini succumbed to cancer, in Oct, 2015. Perhaps, her revelations should be examined by the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) pursuing war crimes investigation, in respect of offensive action, on the Vanni east front, as well as the government. The government should seriously consider seeking the expertise of the Paranagama Commission, including its international experts, to examine the LTTEers’ claims and assertions. The government shouldn’t ignore an opportunity to produce an add-on to the Paranagama Report. The Paranagama Commission’s legal advisory council comprised Sir Desmond de Silva, QC (UK), Professor Sir Geoffrey Nice, QC (UK), and Professor David M. Crane (US). The team received the support of several experts, including retired Maj. Gen. John Holmes, one-time Commanding Officer of the elite Special Air Services (SAS).
‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s revelations sent shock waves through those who had been propagating war crimes allegations. Her memoirs should be examined against the backdrop of the UN declaring, in March, 2011, that those who accused the previous government of war crimes wouldn’t be subjected to cross examination, under any circumstances, until 2031 (UNSG’s Panel of Experts Report, March 31, 2011). A second inquiry, on the basis of which UNHRC adopted a Resolution on Oct. 1, 2015 paving the way for a hybrid court, too, refrained from revealing the identities of those who made unsubstantiated allegations. Colombo-based foreign-funded civil society organizations, promoting accountability process, should reveal their stand on the deceased Tiger’s memoirs published by her husband with the support of veteran film maker, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, who openly campaigned to end the Rajapaksa administration.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini dealt with the last meeting, attended by heads of all formations and units engaged on the Vanni east front, during March 2009. Held at a camp, at Puthukuduirippu, once considered the most vital high security zone in the North, the meeting revealed the imminent collapse of the organization’s conventional fighting capability. Having summoned senior colleagues, for a final briefing, Pottu Amman admitted that the LTTE could achieve battlefield victory only through a miracle. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini quoted Pottu Amman as having said that victory was no longer a reality. Having warned them that those LTTE personnel who surrendered to the army, along with civilians, would be shot by the security forces the moment they admitted being members of the organisation, Pottu Amman again reiterated only a miracle could save them. The LTTE Intelligence Wing Leader had ordered them to destroy all documents in their hands. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini briefly explained the deep mental trauma as senior commanders resented talking with each other. The top level grouping conveniently failed to discuss the issue of the large group of wounded LTTE personnel.
There hasn’t been a previous detailed account of what took place, on the Vanni east front, after troops secured Kilinochchi. Thamilini described the final counter offensive, launched by the LTTE, during the first week of April, 2009, leading to the loss of over 600 cadres, including several senior personnel. According to ‘Colonel’ Thamilini, senior commander Bhanu had conducted the operation, in the Anandapuram area, east of Puthukudirippu operation, which lasted three days before troops brought the situation under control. Those who survived fled leaving both the dead and the wounded, as all organised resistance crumpled.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini confirmed Wikileaks report pertaining to the LTTE conducting all its operations from among the civilian community in the wake of the organisation losing Kilinochchi. Diplomatic cables, originating from US embassies, quoted top ICRC official as having confirmed that the LTTE positioned itself among civilians. In spite of realizing that resistance couldn’t be sustained, Prabhakaran and Pottu Amman engaged in desperate measures to thwart the army advance. The organisation ordered forced conscription and execution of those who had quit the LTTE. The LTTEer alleged that Voice of Tigers (VOT) engaged in propaganda meant to convince the population that external assistance was on its way while, on the ground people struggled to secure approval to go on board ICRC ships operating between Puthumathalan and Pulmoddai.
It would be pertinent to stress that the government allowed the evacuation of those who had been wounded on the Vanni east front, with an Indian medical team positioned in Pulmoddai, north of Trincomalee to receive them. The UNSG’s Panel of Experts (PoE) referred to the ICRC operation in its report released on March 31, 2011. The PoE declared that the LTTE prevented wounded cadres from leaving the area, in ICRC – run ships.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s reference to the deployment of the navy, off the Mullaitivu coast, during the final phase of the offensive highlighted the crucial role played by the Navy ably commanded by Vice Admial Wasantha Karannagoda. The LTTEer recalled leader of the Women’s Wing of the Sea Tigers Purni (a close relative of TULF leader A. Amirthalingam) confiding in her the inability of Prabhakaran and his chief lieutenants to escape by sea, due to heavy navy deployment. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini had received information, from Purni, in this regard, on the evening of May 15, 2009, at Mullivaikkal. Thanks to VA Karannagoda, the writer had an opportunity to visit the naval cordon, off Mullaitivu-Chalai, during the last week of April, 2009. The navy sustained the operation until the army overran the remaining LTTE – held territory on the Vanni east front. VA Karannagoda threw the sea cordon in the wake of the then Army Chief Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka declaring that Prabhakaran could escape by sea.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini’s sentiments clearly reflected the pathetic situation experienced by the once powerful LTTE combat formations. The LTTE lacked the wherewithal to breakthrough army lines, nor a plan to take care of those who had been wounded in battle. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini asserted that the top leadership had decided to leave them to face the army, while a selected few escaped. Reference to well-known Sothiya Regiment underscored the crisis. By the third week of May, 2009, there had been only a few left of the Sothiya Regiment, then deployed at Mullivaikkal. A conversation between Sea Tiger commander Sri Ram and ‘Colonel’ Thamilini also revealed the collapse of their fighting capability. By then, the top leadership had abandoned civilians though it resorted to violence to stop them surrendering to the army.
Having joined the LTTE for a period of 18 years, Thamilini surrendered to the army, on May 16, 2009, several hours before Prabhakaran made an abortive bid to escape.
Wikileaks,  Stockholm-based author, Mark Salter (To END A CIVIL WAR; NORWAY’S PEACE ENGAGEMENT IN SRI LANKA), serving diplomat Dr Chanaka Thalpahewa (NORWEGIAN INVOLVEMENT IN THE SRI LANKAN PEACE PROCESS), Norwegian  report (PAWNS OF PEACE : EVALUATION OF NORWEGIAN PEACE EFFORTS IN SRI LANKA) and the Paranagama Commission (REPORT ON THE SECOND MANDATE OF THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY INTO COMPLAINTS OF ABDUCTIONS AND DISAPPEARANCES) dealt with the situation on the front, during the final phase of ground operations.
Unfortunately, the war-winning Rajapaksa government ignored the need to conduct a thorough examination of events leading to the conflict with the focus on eelam war IV (August 2006-May 2009). Had the administration undertaken such an inquiry, the LTTE rump, the Tamil Diaspora and Western powers wouldn’t have been able to propagate that the government of Sri Lanka engaged in systematic crimes. The previous government had been so foolish it didn’t even bother to examine Wikileaks until the Legal Advisory Council, and other foreign experts, joined the Paranagama Commission. The Norwegian evaluation too took Wikileaks into consideration. Wikileaks revealed the ICRC admitting the army paying a heavy price on the Vanni east front due to them taking the civilian factor into consideration.
‘Colonel’ Thamilini reminiscences about war weary people along with LTTE cadres surrendering to the army. They had walked along the Mullivaikkal road and passed Wattuwakal bridge to reach what ‘Colonel’ Thamilini called Mullaitivu central area. The army had been advancing towards Mullivaikkal on both sides of the road, leaving people to walk towards Mullaitivu central area. The army had made special arrangements to receive those entering into the area under their control. Arrangements that had been in place highlighted their readiness to accommodate large groups of people, including LTTE combatants. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini appreciated the army having made prior arrangements to ensure the safety and security of those surrendering as the fighting entered the final stage.
The LTTEer explained the transfer of people and LTTE cadres from Mullaitivu to Omanthai in buses escorted by the army. Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata and Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil discussed a situation hitherto neglected by the Tamil community. Those who had been demanding accountability, on the part of the government, never acknowledged efforts made by the army to safely receive Tamils on the Vanni east front. The LTTEer had been lucky to meet her mother and accompany her to Omanthai.
Strangely, the JOINT OPPOSITION, loyal to former President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is yet to comment on revelations made by ‘Colonel’ Thamilini. The grouping obviously lacked a strategy to collect information which can be used to defend the military.
Most importantly in spite of her being part of the top command and control structure of the LTTE, ‘Colonel’ Thamilini never made any reference to the group planning to surrender to the army. Her version of events, leading to the group’s annihilation, revealed Prabhakaran and his sidekick Pottu Amman acting recklessly and foolishly in the wake of the debilitating setback, suffered at Kilinochchi, during the first week of January 2009. ‘Colonel’ Thamilini asserted that the LTTE never had a chance to recoup, following the Kilinochchi defeat. According to ‘Colonel’ Thamilini, there had never been a serious attempt to reach an understanding with the government and obviously Prabhakaran and his close associates believed in fleeing Vanni leaving even the wounded behind. Wartime US Defence Advisor in Colombo Lt. Colonel Lawrence Smith, in early June, 2011, in Colombo, declared that there had never been an agreement between the government and the LTTE for the latter to surrender. The official dismissed reports pertaining to LTTE Political Wing seniors, Nadesan and Pulithevan, reaching an understanding in this regard during the final phase of fighting. An exclusive report on statement made by the US official was denied by the then US State Department Deputy spokesperson Mark C. Toner.
 Toner declared:  Well, just to clarify, the U.S. did decline invitations to participate in that conference as either a conference speaker or panellist. My understanding is that the defense attaché was there as an observer and a note taker. His comments reflected his personal opinions. There’s no change in the policy of the United States, and his remarks do not reflect any change in our policy.
The US was embarrassed. The previous government acted as if nothing happened. It was busy hiring expensive US PR firms to enhance its image.

By Shamindra Ferdinando

The launch of ‘Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata’ (In the Shadow of a Sharp Sword), Sinhala translation of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’, life story of high ranking LTTE cadre, Subramaniam Sivakamy alias ‘Col’ Thamilini, took place at the Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI) on May 13, 2016.
 ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ was launched on March 19, 2016, in Kilinochchi, a one-time LTTE bastion.
 Her husband, Jeyakumaran Mahadevan, British national of Sri Lankan origin, earned the wrath of an influential section of Tamil politicians, as well as Tamil Diaspora, for releasing the book. They made a desperate bid to thwart the revelations, made by Thamilini, one of those senior personnel who had access to LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and top battlefield commanders, throughout the eelam war IV.
 The police, too, strongly opposed the release of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ on the basis it included Thamilini in LTTE uniform. The police obviously didn’t realize the importance of revelations as well as assertions made by Thamilini in her previous capacity as the Women Political Wing leader.
 Thamilini’s memoirs rattled those who had been demanding accountability on the part of Sri Lanka for alleged atrocities committed by the military, during the eelam war IV. Thamilini set the record straight in respect of the collapse of the Norwegian-led peace process, leading to the resumption of the war (2006), assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar (August, 2006), execution of one-time LTTE Deputy Commander Mahatattaya (early ‘90s) and circumstances leading to Mahinda Rajapaksa’s victory at the Nov. 2005 presidential polls.
 Thamilini also revealed the unprecedented crisis caused during a crucial stage of the Vanni war in areas under LTTE control, by troops mounting devastating operations behind the Tiger lines. Acknowledging that the LTTE had suffered a massive setback, due to operations carried out by troops, within the area under its control, Thamilini revealed the group could never overcome the threat.
 In spite of strong opposition, Mahadevan went ahead with the book launch, at Kilinochchi, followed by a well-attended event in Colombo, this month. The Tamil media largely ignored the event. A section of the Colombo-based diplomatic community, too, conveniently remained silent.
Veteran filmmaker, Dharmasiri Bandaranayake, who had played a significant role in the high profile political campaign to thwart President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s bid to secure a third term, at the January, 2015 presidential polls, facilitated Mahadevan’s efforts. Bandaranayake is on record as having stated that Thamilini and Mahadevan undertook the book project on a request made by him soon after the former LTTE cadre was diagnosed with cancer. Bandaranayake appealed ,not to consider the release of Thamilini’s memoirs as a wrongdoing on his part. Mahadevan and Bandaranayake should be commended for going ahead with the release of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ and its Sinhala translation, regardless of concerns expressed by various interested parties.
 The writer was among those who had been invited for the book launch in Colombo, attended by many civil society activists.
 Thamilini’s revelations disputed those who had wanted to blame the Sri Lankan government for undermining the Norwegian peace process, thereby causing over 40,000 civilian deaths.
 Thamilini died, in mid-October, 2015, of cancer. She had begun writing her memoirs, months before she was diagnosed with cancer, and her work would have probably remained unpublished if not for Mahadevan’s controversial decision.
Key revelations
Thamilini made a spate of significant statements and assertions in respect of the conflict. Let me examine Thamilini’s claims against the backdrop of the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopting a resolution in Oct. 2015, to set up a hybrid mechanism to inquire into war crimes allegations.
LTTE-TNA partnership
 The strategic war-time partnership between the LTTE and the then five-party Tamil National Alliance (TNA), headed by Trincomalee District Parliamentarian R. Sampanthan, currently the Leader of the Opposition, had been one of the most important statements made by Thamilini. She expertly dealt with Velupillai Prabhakaran ensuring the TNA’s victory, at the April, 2004, parliamentary polls, to influence the decision-making process in parliament. Thamilini discussed the LTTE-TNA partnership, amidst crisis caused by Karuna Amman deserting the organization, along with thousands of cadres from the Eastern Province. Thamilini confirmed the damning declaration made by the EU Election Observation Mission, regarding the LTTE-TNA alliance, in rigging the April 2004 parliamentary polls in the Northeast.
Prabhakaran on CFA
 Thamilini dealt with Prabhakaran’s decision to exploit the Oslo-arranged CFA to rapidly enhance the group’s conventional fighting capability, in preparation for the final war. She quoted the then LTTE Political Wing leader, S.P. Thamilchelvan, as having told senior cadres, close on the heels of the finalization of the CFA, preparations for war should be made in spite of the CFA. Thamilchelvan had shared Prabhakaran’s opinion that peace talks had been meant to deceive, what he called the outside world, whereas they should prepare for war. Prabhakaran wanted those responsible for recruitment of fresh cadres to target Tamil-speaking youth, living in areas under government control. Prabhakaran’s direction should be examined in the wake of the CFA giving them access to the government-held area. Thamilchelvam pointed out that the LTTE had plenty of weapons and immediately needed fresh cadres to exploit the situation.
Thamilchelvan had repeated Prabhakaran’s decision to resume war even before the group officially quit the negotiating table in April, 2003, at a meeting held at the LTTE Peace Secretariat.
 Kadirgamar’s assassination
‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ confirmed Prabhakaran ordering the assassination of Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar in the wake of the Oslo-led Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM) alleging CFA violations by both parties. Thamilini quoted Prabhakaran as having confirmed the LTTE carrying out the assassination, on the night of August 12, 2005. Interestingly, the Sinhala translation of ‘Oru Koorvaalin Nizhalil’ was launched two days after former Justice Ministry Secretary Dr Nihal Jayawickrama raised the issue of Kadirgamar’s assassination. Delivering Dr P.R. Anthonis memorial lecture, titled ‘Healing the nation: A question of leadership’, at the Sasakawa Hall auditorium, Dr Jayawickrama said Kadirgamar’s killing had been still classified and shrouded in mystery. Dr Jayawickrama made the statement in respect of the former Foreign Minister’s assassination immediately after accusing the previous government of carrying out 300 political killings during 2005, and 700 extra-judicial killings in 2006 and 2007. Both Prabhakaran and Thamilchelvn believed that Kadirgamar’s assassination proved their ability to strike deep within the enemy territory. They also asserted that the EU proscribing of the group in the immediate aftermath of Kadirgamar’s assassination reflected the international community recognizing the group military power. According to Thamilini, the LTTE had been blinded by its perceived military capability, hence provoked the military. The top LTTE leadership strongly believed in a swift and decisive war could lead to their victory. (In his first interview with the media, Kumaran Pathmanathan told the writer the LTTE believed that the Army could be overwhelmed in two years. The Directorate of Military Intelligence allowed the interview in July, 2010)
LTTE backing for MR
 Prabhakaran had felt that victory for Mahinda Rajapaksa would pave the way for the LTTE to resume war. The LTTE believed Rajapaksa would act recklessly. The LTTE resumed claymore mine attacks, in the North, within weeks of Rajapaksa being sworn in as the President. Thamilchelvan had revealed the LTTE leader’s assertion at a meeting attended by section heads in the run-up to the presidential polls, in Nov. 2005. Prabhakaran had asserted that the LTTE could certainly emerge victorious in case of a fresh war, and election of Rajapaksa was a prerequisite for such an eventuality. However, Thamilini refrained from discussing the part about the TNA directing Tamil speaking people not to exercise their franchise in support of either Mahinda Rajapaksa or Ranil Wickremesinghe at the behest of the LTTE. Mark Salter’s ‘To End a Civil War: Norway’s Peace Engagement in Sri Lanka,’ too, discussed the northern Tamils boycott. Salter alleged that Rajapaksa had bribed the LTTE to prevent Tamils from exercising their franchise at the crucial polls.
Sornam causes Mavilaru crisis
 Thamilini discussed the circumstances leading to eelam war IV, in the wake of Prabhakaran approving Trincomalee District LTTE commander Sornama’s move to close the Mavilaru sluice gates, in mid-2006. Sornam believed that he could successfully deploy artillery pieces. The battle for supremacy in Trincomalee, ended with the LTTE experiencing a debilitating setback. Thamilini blamed Prabhakaran for declaring his commitment to a military solution at his heroes’ day speech, in late Nov. 2006, in spite of the heavy defeat, in Trincomalee. She also accused Prabhakaran of totally ignoring the changing international environment. Thamilini revealed that she had heard Sornam’s failed strategy from Trincomalee District political leader Elilan (missing husband of Northern Provincial Council member Ananthi Sasitharan) during the war.
Mahattaya and Karuna
The veteran LTTEer compared the disappearance of Mahattaya, in the early 90s, after being accused of working with premier Indian intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), and the rift between Prabhakaran and experienced battlefield commander, Karuna, credited with spearheading conventional fighting units in the Vanni region. According to her, both incidents greatly disturbed the organization and caused irreparable damage. The LTTE accused Mahattaya of conspiring with the RAW to assassinate Prabhakaran at the opening of a memorial hall, built at Kodikamam, in memory of those who had perished during the 1991 assault on the strategic Elephant Pass base. The LTTE claimed that the RAW planned to use a Tiger working for the Indian spy network to kill Mahattaya, thereby paving the way for him to take over the leadership. The LTTE Intelligence executed scores of cadres, including those holding senior command positions, for being allegedly involved in the conspiracy. The executed included a Susilan, who had driven away a tank, captured during the LTTE attack on the Pooneryn army base, in Nov. 1993, to the LTTE-held area. Thamilini declared that the way the organization had moved against Karuna reminded her of the Mahattaya episode and the circumstances under which the LTTE wiped out rival Tamil organizations. Thamilini questioned the validity of accusations, including conspiracy against the leader, misappropriation of funds and sexual misconduct directed at various personnel, over the years.
P’karan on Pottu Amman
Thamilini revealed about Prabhakaran faulting his dreaded Intelligence Chief Pottu Amman for constantly complaining against other senior commanders, including Karuna. Prabhakaran had commented about Pottu Amman’s conduct during a meeting with Thamilini and front line commander Durga of the women fighting cadre. At a different occasion, Durga had expressed disappointment with regard to Pottu Amman’s conduct amidst growing difficulties on the Vanni front as troops relentlessly advanced, in spite of fierce resistance offered by LTTE units. Thamilini quoted Durga as having told her that she lost even the little bit of respect she had for Pottu Amman for not taking stark ground realities into consideration. Thamilini had met Durga shortly after the latter had met Prabhakaran in the company of Pottu Amman during the final phase of fighting, on the Vanni east front.
P’karan admits defeat
Soon after losing Kilinochchi, in early January, 2009, Prabhakaran admitted that he couldn’t do anything to reverse the ground situation, Thamilini revealed how she was told of Prabhakaran’s plight by a well-recognized fighter who had been a bodyguard to Thamilselvan. Prabhakaran had said that he was helpless though many believed he had the wherewithal to change the ground situation. By early 2009, the LTTE had lost the capacity to conduct a large scale offensive operation to regain Kilinochchi. Subsequently, Prabhakaran had told Durga that 25,000 trained cadre and ammunition for artillery pieces were required to regain Kilinochchi. However, many believed that the LTTE would allow the Army to move into Kilinochchi before launching an all-out attack. Canada-based journalist D.B.S. Jeyaraj claimed in Dec 2008, powerful LTTE forces would annihilate the Army on the Vanni east front.
Target assassinations
Thamilini also examined targeted assassinations, carried out by Army units, operating in areas under LTTE control. In spite of knowing that the Army was hunting for senior LTTEers, including Prabhakaran, the organization couldn’t overcome the problem. Special security measures taken to neutralize the threat posed by the Army had been in vain. Thamilini disclosed how she experienced a claymore mine attack, directed at a senior LTTE leader along the Puthukudirippu-Oddusudan road. The blast had been directed at a vehicle at close proximity to the road leading to Prabhakaran’s base.
 Senior LTTE commander Balraj escaped a similar claymore mine attack along the A9 road.
 Thamilini revealed the crisis faced by the organization due to a strategic bombing campaign carried out by the Air Force. The Air Force had caused heavy losses to the LTTE and eroded its capacity to launch a major offensive action, contrary to lies propagated by interested parties. Thamilini said that the Air Force carried out accurate bombing of identified targets, including those frequented by senior leaders, including Prabhakaran.
Awaiting TN intervention
Thamilselvan’s successor Nadesan strongly felt that Tamil Nadu could influence New Delhi to intervene in Sri Lanka to arrange a ceasefire. According to Thamilini, Nadesan had believed in Indian intervention until the collapse of LTTE resistance, on multiple fronts, in the Vanni battlefield. Having failed to secure Indian intervention, the LTTE made a last ditch attempt to flood advancing troops by blasting the anicut of the Vishvamadu tank. Thamilini alleged that heavy artillery and air strikes on LTTE artillery pieces, positioned on the Vanni east front, including Wallipuram and Devipuram, had caused a massive number of deaths among civilians. Thamilini asserted that due to wrong decisions taken by the LTTE leadership the entire Vanni population, trapped on the Vanni east front, faced annihilation. Thamilini had met Nadesan on May 13, 2009, for the last time. Thamilini claimed that Nadesan hadn’t confidently discussed the possibility of Indian intervention. Thamilini felt that Nadesan had wanted to reveal something serious though he refrained from doing so and the meeting concluded in the wake of the area coming under artillery fire.
Top LTTE leadership’s bid to escape
 Contrary to repeated claims by the previous government that heavy weapons hadn’t been used during the final phase, the Army fired artillery at the area under LTTE control even during the last few days of the offensive. Thamilini recalled the area under heavy artillery fire on May 15, 2009, four days before fighting ended on the Vanni east front. Head of Sea Tigers’ Women Wing, Purni had confided in Thamilini that Prabhakaran and several other senior commanders were trying to smash through Army defences after having crossed the Nanthikadal lagoon in small boats. According to Purni, Prabhakaran’s contingent planned to reach the sea through the jungles. Another woman fighter had told Purni and Thamilini that her lover too confirmed the plan. The revelation meant, the LTTE leadership planned to desert the fighting cadre and those who had been wounded in battle.
 Prabhakaran made his attempt in the early hours of May 17, 2009. Within 24 hours Prabhakaran and some of his close associates died in combat.
 Thamilini’s work sheds light on the LTTE and particularly its conduct after signing of the CFA in Feb. 2002. Her memoirs clearly contradict those who had been working overtime to blame the Sri Lanka state for resumption of war in Aug. 2006. No other LTTE leader who had been with the fighting cadre, during the final phase of the conflict, made such revelations. It would be the responsibility of the government and the military to verify Thamilini’s version of events as Sri Lanka faces the Geneva gauntlet.
 Thamilini’s version of events, I believe, is as important as former Indian High Commissioner J.N. Dixit’s memoirs ‘Makers of India’s Foreign Policy: Raja Ram Mohun Roy to Yashwant Sinha’ launched during 2004. The writer had dealt with Dixit’s memoirs on more than one occasion and discussed the matter on other media. In short, Dixit faulted the then Indian PM Indira Gandhi for intervening in Sri Lanka for external and domestic reasons causing massive death and destruction in a neighbouring country…..


  1. Ananda-USA Says:

    Bravo, Shamindra!

    We who suffered through the Eelamists lies, defamations, ethnic cleansings, murders and falsification of histori al events over a 30 year period know these thinges very well.

    However, the jaundiced West witchunting the Sinhala people must be confronted USING ALL AVAILABLE INFORMATION. This information includes all classified and open literature, Wikileaks and Thamilini’s revelations.

    But, of what use is this when the current Yamapalana GOSL is itself joining in the witchhunt and is not motivated to protect the Armed Forces or the patriotic political leaders who led that struggle to liberate and reunified our Motherland! When Avamangala Samaraweera accuses our patriots and places their neck under the foreign guillotine, need we say anything else!

    No, we need to create and empower a PATRIOTIC GOVERNMENT FIRST to ably defend Sri Lanka on all fronts! There is NO OTHER WAY!

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