LTTE was authoritarian body sans ideology — Wikileaks

Monday, 15 April 2013 | Kumar Chellappan | CHENNAI

For those who romanticise the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and its leader Veluppillai Prabhakaran, it may come as a shock. The LTTE, which fought a long drawn out dreaded war with the Sri Lankan Government for a separate

Tamil nation, was neither romantic nor democratic. It was devoid of any ideology other than terrorist activities. This is what a 2600-word report sent as cable by the US Embassy in the island nation to the Department of States say about LTTE and its leaders whom many Tamils venerate as iconic figures.

The report dated February 12, 1987, was prepared by the US political agent after conversations with local Tamils in Jaffna, intelligence officials of the Sri Lankan Government, Army officers and journalists who maintained close rapport with the Tigers.

According to the findings of the US official, a separate Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka dominated by the LTTE would have been a sure recipe to the region’s instability and disaster. “An LTTE-controlled Tamil Eelam would likely to be an unhappy place for Tamils , even many of those supportive of the separatist movement,” said the report which was dispatched as a cable to the States Department.

The report describes LTTE as a divided house and there were many cleavages. “Tamils drawn from Jaffna were pitted against non-Jaffna Tamils, Hindu Tamils fighting with Christian Tamil groups, caste groupings and regional rivalries with Easterners fighting the Northerners,” said the report. Jaffna region had the upper hand in the running of the organisation while Tamils from other regions were at the mercy of Prabhakaran. The LTTE chief, known all over the world for his revolutionary warfare strategies, was superstitious and choosy about his subordinates.

The resignation of Col Karuna (Vinayagamoorthy Muralidharan) from the LTTE in 2004 substantiates the US report. Karuna from Batticaloa, rose to become the bodyguard of Prabhakaran but fell out with the Tiger chief charging that the latter always favoured Jaffna Tamils. Karuna is the vice-president of Sri Lankan Freedom Party headed by Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Contrary to the general belief that the LTTE was built on ideology and discipline, the US investigation found that the organisation never had any ideology to boast of. A regime controlled by the LTTE is apt to be a military dictatorship in the guise of a socialist one-party system. When the report was sent, the LTTE was dominated by low and middle caste Hindus from Jaffna who formed the core of the terrorist organisation.

The report said that by 1987, the LTTE had cowed rival militant groups and established a functioning civil administration in territories under its control. Though not much is known about the educational and professional backgrounds of Prabhakaran, he had converted the organisation into a well-structured establishment.

According to the US report made public as part of the WikiLeaks exposure, the LTTE structure reminded one of a tight pyramid with power concentrated at the apex-Prabhakaran. “Based on its structure and operation style, Prabhakaran would dominate the Eelam. It is a highly centralised and authoritarian organisation sans any ideology. But the LTTE was plagued by cleavages based on regions, caste and religion,” said the report.

Though the report does not give much details about the antecedents of Prabhakaran, it pointed out that there was no differentiation between the LTTE’s political and military hierarchy. Prabhakaran had divided the LTTE into five politico-military regions, each commanded by a regional leader reporting only to Prabhakaran.

“Everyone is required to take an oath of allegiance to Prabhakaran. The regional leaders were picked by Prabhakaran himself on the basis of trust, loyalty and experience. Sathasivam Krishnakumar, the Jaffna region commander was a close relative of Prabhakaran. Both hailed from the fishermen community. Though Sathasivam Krishnakumar , popularly known as Kittu, was a school drop-out he has been described as “an eccentric but rich undergraduate”. He is reported to have told a Colombo journalist,” The Tigers are revolutionary socialists whose ultimate aim is the creation of a one-party socialist State”. Though the Tamil media used to describe him as a full-Colonel, the US report says he was a rash driver and a poor marksman. He lost one of his legs in a car accident

Jaffna, Mannar, Batticaloa, Trincomalee and Vavuniya were the five regions which constituted the Eelam. “Number five is considered lucky in Tamil Hindu mythology. It is because of this reason Prabhakaran set up five regional commands,” the report quotes a Sri Lankan Army official as saying. At the time of filing the report, the US agent had the details of only three regions with him.

The other regional commanders were Radha (Mannar) and Kumaran (Batticaloa). Details from Trincomalee and Vavunya were not available to the US officials. The Catholic fighters of the LTTE did not like Radha becoming the Mannar regional commander following the death of incumbent Victor “Mannar had more than 42 per cent Catholic population and they wanted only a Catholic to be their regional commander. Though they threatened they would resign en mass from the organisation, Prabhakaran dispatched Kittu to crush the dissidence. “Nobody resigns from LTTE,” Prabhakaran is reported to have sent this message through Kittu.

The cable said the iron discipline and effective coordination of the LTTE would probably be weakened in a post-Prabhakaran power struggle. Prabhakaran was bumped off by the Sri Lankan armed forces in the 2009 Eelam war. He had lost many of his trusted lieutenants much before that. Kittu went down with MV Ahat, a LTTE-owned ship ferrying arms to Jaffna.

By 2009 May, the top LTTE leadership was wiped out. What is remaining is a rump of the terrorists trying to regroup and recapture the Eelam regions from the Sri Lankan Army.

Though the cable is silent about how the LTTE mobilised arms and ammos, it mentions that Kumaran, the Batticaloa commander, had a station wagon with the name Beirut embossed on it. Radha, the Mannar region commander, is credited with the 1985 massacre of 150 civilians in Anuradhapura.

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