Dead or alive, Tamil Tiger leader’s fate sealed
by Melani Manel Perera
Sri Lanka’s army says it knows where LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is in hiding. Sri Lankans wonder about Tiger leader’s future with most hoping he gets killed. Political analyst Sarath Fernando says rebels must surrender but Tamil must continue the struggle for their rights.
Colombo (AsiaNews) – Wanted: Dead or Alive. Velupillai Prabhakaran (pictured), supreme leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), has a few more hours of freedom. The Sri Lankan army claims it knows where the Tamil Tiger top commander is hiding out. Sri Lankan Army Chief, General Sarath Fonseka, said that “action will be taken to destroy him.”

President Mahinda Rajapaksa offered Prabhakaran a chance to surrender to save himself from the army’s operation, but since no answer has been forthcoming the LTTE leader will have to accept the consequences of his choice.  

Army spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said that no decision has been taken concerning top Tamil Tiger leaders who surrendered to government forces.

But as fighting continues and the fate of displaced people fleeing the no-fire zone gets worse, many in the country are wondering about what will happen to the rebel leader and the few hundred fighters (about 700 according to Defence Ministry estimates) still on his side. For many he bears the most responsibility for the war that has torn the country apart in the past 25 years. In fact most southerners hope that Prabhakaran and the remaining LTTE leaders might be killed in the fighting.

Many people disagree with the president’s offer to the rebel leader, even more so when it could entail the possibility that Prabhakaran might be reintegrated into society the way other rebel leaders were, leaders like Karuna Amman and Pillayan, noms de guerre of two former LTTE leaders who now are respectively a minister in the central government and chief minister in the Eastern Province.

Buddhist monks who are in favour of a Sinhalese-only Sri Lanka are also against forgiving LTTE leaders; some of them hope Prabhakaran might commit suicide rather than fall into the hands of the army.

Sarath Fernando, a political analyst and a member of the Movement for National Land and Agricultural Reform (MONLAR), told AsiaNews, that he believes that “Prabhakaran will not and cannot surrender the way  Karuna Amman and Pillayan did because he did not get any assurance that his community’s just cause could be defended” in the future.

“Many people, including many Tamils, do not want the war to continue,” Fernando said. “An end to the war will be welcomed. But ending the war by betraying the cause of the Tamil people, who want equal rights, citizenship and dignity in Sri Lanka, would not be only Prabhakaran’s failure but everyone else’s as well.”

For Fernando “the Tamil people’s movement, of which LTTE is but a part, should not surrender. We, who are Tamil, ordinary citizens of Sri Lanka, without weapons, should play an important role in this struggle.”

President Rajapaksa’s “offer to Prabhakaran did not come with any assurance that the reasonable demands by the Tamil people would be met.”

“An agreement was possible only if the LTTE had not been militarily defeated,” the MONLAR member said.

Now that the government has decided to destroy the Tamil Tigers, the Tamils’ position of total weakness is exposed.

“How can we make sure that the Tamil population will have an opportunity to negotiate from a position of strength so as to reach an agreement that protects its rights and self-determination,” he asked.

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