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Heroes Day Speech : Tigers sing the praises of the fallen

For the second consecutive year, peace and peaceful ways of seeking a negotiated settlement has been given prominence in the "Maveerar Nal" Heroes Day (Martyrs) speech by Vellupillai Prabakaran, the Leader of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), the Tamil militant organization, which is fighting well over a period of 25 years in Sri Lanka, for a homeland for the Tamils.

He castigated the five year rule of Chandrika Bandaranaiake Kumaratunge, the President of Sri Lanka, as one that has inflicted the worst form of diabolic tyrannical oppression. Prabakaran's annual Heroes Day speech was broadcast on the evening of 27 November, over the clandestine "Voice of Tigers" radio.

Tamils' national Heroes day celebration was held for three days, concluding on 27 November, on which Day in1982, Lt. Shanker, the first LTTE fighter gave his life in their struggle. Initially, Heroes Day celebrations started in 1989, held on a single day on 27 November, at Batticaloa in the Eastern province, during the Indian occupation of the North and Eastern provinces.

From 1990 to 94, celebrations were held over a seven day period, but since 1995, after their eviction from the Jaffna peninsula, LTTE shortened the programme to 3 days, ending again on the 27 November.Earlier on the 27th morning, the Tamil Tigers freed seven Sri Lankan government soldiers, as goodwill gesture, to mark the annual remembrance day of their fallen heroes.

According to available reports, the Heroes Day in the sprawling Wanni region and in other areas that did not come under government control, were celebrated with renewed vigor. Large crowd of people were seen attending temples and churches for mass prayers on behalf of their martyred loved ones. Several hundreds paid homage by laying wreaths and flowers in the specially constructed heroes grave-yards in the Wanni areas.Security cordon was tightened in Colombo and suburbs anticipating suicide squad attack by the Black Tigers. Sources also said that the security in Colombo and the suburbs has been brought under the command of Major General, M.D.S. Chandrapala. It was the first time that such a high ranking officer has been appointed in charge of the Army security units in Colombo.

There was no report of any untoward incidents anywhere in the island.Unlike last year, a few journalists from the national print and electronic media, as well as from international news agencies were seen hovering in Vavuniya, the garrison town, bordering the Northern province, to listen to Prabakaran's annual speech over the clandestine radio, even though International Secretariat of the LTTE released the English translation of the Tiger Supremo's Tamil speech by fax to the print and electronic media. Also the speech was put on their official website.

This year's annual address of Prabakaran evoked keen interest at the national and international levels. As polling for the Presidential election is to be held on 21 December, attention was focused on Prabakaran's address, where he was expected to spell out his thinking on the broad issues of conflict, his posturing of his themes such as peace, negotiated settlement, peace talks, third party mediation and his comments on the presidential election.Prabakaran who turned 45 years on 26th, said in his address, "Our current military success have surprised and astounded the world.

This is a unique historical achievement in the art of contemporary warfare. The dimensions of this military victory have not only amazed our enemy but also astonished several international countries that have been actively helping Sri Lanka's war effort by providing training, arms and funds."Tiger leader was referring to the military success of his Unceasing Wave III operation, which commenced on 1 November, eventually led to the military success of capturing of the Sri Lankan army camps in Odduchuddan, Nedunkerni, Karripattaimurrippu, Olumadhu, Ampakamam, Mankulam, Puliyankulam, Pankamneeravi, vast track of Manal Aru (Weli-Oya) and several camps in the Mannar district.

Earlier it took more than 19 months for the Sri Lankan government forces to capture these areas in the Wanni region, loosing more than 3600 army personnel. Tiger blitzkrieg made the whole country dumbfounded on their quick rate of success in their military campaign. Political observers agree that it was a humiliating military debacle for Chandrika Kumaratunge who is seeking reelection for presidency. According to the Sri Lankan President's version, the number of security forces killed in action from November 2, was limited to 101, wounded 743 and 123 missing in action.

Prabakaran pointed out in his address," The vast tracts of lands of Wanni, which were invaded and occupied by the Sinhala armed forces after years and months of massive military campaigns, after sacrificing thousands of lives, have been liberated by our fighters at a rapid pace, within a short span of time. A colossal military structure with its multiple military complexes, well-fortified bases and camps suddenly collapsed with the onslaught of the Tiger offensive. We have liberated almost all the ancient strategic towns in the Wanni region. I am happy that we have redeemed a sector of Manal Aru, which is the heartland of Wanni, where the state's army massacred the indigenous Tamils and created Sinhala settlements.""Our massive offensive campaign in Wanni code-named Unceasing Waves 3' has effectively demonstrated to the world, the extra-ordinary growth and development of the Tiger fighting forces in the art of modern warfare. The speed of our strikes, ability of rapid deployment, the unified command, the high discipline, the spectacular offensive tactics and tremendous courage displayed by our fighting formations have astounded the world military experts."In a cleverly designed address, Prabakaran avoided any mention about the forthcoming Presidential election.

Instead he said, "The two major Sinhala political parties, who have assumed political power alternatively in the Sri Lankan political system, are essentially chauvinistic organizations. Both these political parties have bred and flourished in the anti-Tamil Sinhala Buddhist racist ideology. For the last half a century these parties competed with each other in intensifying the oppression against the Tamil people."

The Tiger leader strongly expressed his misgiving and questioned the integrity of Chandrika Kumaratunge the incumbent president. He severely criticized the two pronged strategies of Chandrika Kumaratunge, namely " war for peace" and "the constitutional devolution package" and added, "In the diabolical history of racist oppression, it is Chandrika's regime which has inflicted the worst form of tyrannical oppression."Continuing his scathing attack, he said, "The five-year rule of Chandrika has been a curse on the Tamil people.

The monumental tragedy that our people encountered in the form of war, violence, death destruction, displacement, hunger and starvation were the worst form of tyranny ever suffered by the Tamils. Chandrika's oppressive rule marks an epoch consisting of blood stained pages of our history. Her tyrannical rule left a permanent scar on the soul of the Tamil nation. While masterminding an authoritarian rule against the Tamils internally, Chandrika Kumaratunga portrayed herself internationally as a goddess of democracy committed to peace. Having implemented a notorious military program aimed at the total invasion of the Tamil homeland, she interpreted her project as war effort for peace.

The entire international community believed her and supported her military project. In this deceptive disinformation campaign to cheat the world, treacherous Tamil elements played a crucial role."Prabakaran, wears a cyanide capsule around his neck, to be swallowed in the event of his capture and has a reputation as a fearless and ruthless guerrilla leader, who inspires conflicting emotions in which reflect the divisions between the Sinhalese and Tamil ethnic groups. His followers consider him a legendary leader struggling for the emancipation of the Tamils, whilst his adversaries consider him a megalomaniac with brutal disregard for human life. Born on 26 November 1954, in the northern coastal town of Valvetiturai, in his annual address said very loud and clearly, "We do not trust Chandrika. She does not have the honesty and determination to resolve the Tamil national conflict in a fair and reasonable manner. We perceive her as a modern representative of a neo-Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. It is for this reason we refused to engage in a direct dialogue with her."

Earlier on 15 November, Chandrika Kumaratunge said that, Prabakaran has rejected three times her offers to open a dialogue to end the ethnic war in the island. Answering questions from a large group of Colombo-based Tamils, during a satellite link-up conference, the president said that she made her offer for talks through the representatives of respected and acceptable international organizations. She concluded that the leader of the LTTE has told her contacts that he was not interested in talks. Chandrika blamed that Prabkaran was pretending to the world that he is keeping the door open for negotiations, but it was a deception.As expected, the Tiger leader told his version of the story in his address.

"Chandrika conveyed to us a message through third party source, that she was prepared to hold secret talks with certain conditions, while continuing the war effort. We rejected her proposal. It is absurd and practically impossible to hold peace talks on one side while engaging in a bloody war on the other side. It is extremely a difficult task to involve in a friendly dialogue with enemy, while our people are subjected to death, destruction and suffering. Furthermore, we do not want to engage in a negotiating process with conditions and time frames. Chandrika did not sincerely extend her hand of friendship. She wanted to lay a trap under the cover of peace talks. But we are not prepared to fall into that trap. Swept by the Unceasing Waves' of the Liberation Tigers, Chandrika's military project crumbled as a house of sand built on the seashore. The spectacular victories that we have gained in the current offensive campaign have turned the balance of the military power in our fervor. The massive efforts made by Chandrika over the last five years to weaken the LTTE and to achieve military hegemony was shattered by us in a matter of a few days."Above serious accusation, weighed as the most humiliating political debacle for Chandrika Kumaratunge, in her reelection bid for the presidency.

This message expressed so loudly, would seal the fate of Chandrika Kumaratunge's support of the Tamils. It would be highly imponderable for the moderate Tamil political organizations to risk their support openly to her. This speech, undoubtedly a trend- setter, even in the plantation areas, where Tamils of the Indian origin would clearly defy the appeals of their leaders and change camps. According a hurried street survey in the capital of Colombo, Prabakaran's speech has stirred the conscience of the moderate Sinhalese voters, who long for a durable peace and stability. Even though as stated by the Tiger leader that, his organization stand today as formidable force strengthened by manpower, firepower, moral power and has the military capacity to liberate the Tamils' homeland, he has not abandoned the path for peace. He stressed that he wants to resolve the Tamil conflict through peaceful means, through civilized methods, without recourse to a bloodbath and the destruction of life.

Though whilst concluding his speech, he said, "Years ago our people made a decision that in independent state of Tamil Eelam is the only and the final solution to our national conflict. (He in fact, referred to the Vaddukoddai resolution of 14 May 1976, adopted by the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), which stated, This convention resolves the reconstitution of the Free, Sovereign, Secular, Socialist State of Tamil Eelam, based on the right of self-determination, inherent in every nation, has become inevitable, in order to safeguard the very existence of the Tamil nation in the country.') For the last several years, our freedom movement has been fighting a bloody liberation struggle carrying the cross of our people's aspirations for freedom. Today we have reached a turning point in this long journey towards emancipation."

How ever, it is worthwhile to note that, he has ingeniously avoided using the words "Separate State of Eelam" in his annual address. This exhibits very clearly his desire for open-ended negotiated political settlement, within the framework of a unified country. This flexibility of his position in a peace negotiation would tend to create a healthy atmosphere for a successful settlement of the protracted fratricidal war.

It is essential for the political leaders of the country to take note and cease the opportunity for talks.Analysis reveals that this posturing of the LTTE may augur well with Ranil Wickremesinghe, the leader of the United National Party (UNP) and the presidential candidate. He has openly declared in his election manifesto, called "My pact with the people" that ,he will open dialogue with the LTTE, will work towards de-escalating the war, ending the conflict and restoring normalcy and would endeavor to set up an Interim Council in the Northern and Eastern Provinces.

Unfortunately, the presidential election campaigning has degenerated into personal attacks and recently the President accused Ranil Wickremasinghe's proposals amounted to, handing over the country to the Tamil separatist leader. In response to this allegation, the UNP leader said in lighter vein, "I shall not hand over the country to the LTTE, but shall, if necessary, hand over Chandrika Kumaratunge to the LTTE." Ceasing the opportunity, the President paid back her rival in kind. "I shall remind him that he has no right to hand over the President of a country, or any other woman to Prabakaran. We don't mind him offering his own spouse to Prabakaran." At the backdrop of such personal barbs being traded in the election campaign for the highest office, Prabakaran speech is expected have a telling effect on the body polity of the country.

In his address he said, "We are keeping the doors open and are sending signals of peace and goodwill to the Sinhala nation." He further added, "We wish to reiterate that peace talks should be held in a cordial peaceful atmosphere of mutual trust and goodwill with the assistance of international third party mediation. By peaceful atmosphere we mean a condition of normalcy characterized by cessation of hostilities, withdrawal of troops occupying Tamil lands and the absence of economic blockade."

According to sources close to the LTTE leadership, that any arrangement for a mediated negotiation must have the blessings of India, the country that has more than 60 million Tamils of its own. In the meantime Indian diplomats who wish to remain anonymous, told this writer, that it is highly unlikely to negotiate with LTTE, whilst Prabakaran remains in the wanted list for the slaying of Rajiv Gandhi. Political analyst believes that India would cross the bridge at the appropriate time. Any how, the annual speech of Parabkaran has already stirred the political scenario in the country and peace loving Tamils and Sinhalese civilians have expressed their appreciation for the Tiger Supremo's goodwill gesture for peace and negotiated settlement.

The Independent-Bangadesh-Dec/ 03/ 1999

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