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Association of Tamils of Sri Lanka in the USA

'Death of the Tiger'

A rejoinder with context

by Sachi Sri Kantha, February 7, 2011

SA: Why did you join the Tigers?

Kumarappa: Me? Because I am also part of these people. I am losing my freedom. Because when I was studying, you know, advanced level, when I was doing my exams, I had to get more and more marks than the Sinhalese people. Because I was a Tamil, you know? If you want to enter any university, you had to get more marks. For example, in education, in everything education-wise, and agriculture-wise, and job-wise, everything, the government…it’s, you know, at the price of the Tamils. Actually, you know, it turned into genocide.

Scott Anderson & Jon Lee Anderson in 1988

What had appeared in the New Yorker of January 17, 2011 under the caption ‘Death of the Tiger’ deserves a rejoinder. I acknowledge that the author of this report Jon Lee Anderson is a perceptive journalist and writer. His past coverage of the Sri Lankan civil war has been far better than what I had read from the coverage provided by Sri Lankan journalists (belonging to each ethnic tribe) and non-Tamil/Sinhala speaking foreign reporter types (such as, Barbara Crossette, John Burns, Alex Perry, Somini Sengupta). What I appreciate in Jon Lee Anderson’s report is that, it is devoid of any smear about LTTE - Al Queda links and LTTE as the conduits of cross-border illicit drug traffic. This is particularly encouraging, when Rohan Gunaratna, the foremost proponent of such crap, was on the list of Anderson’s sources.

However, this time Anderson’s text suffers from ‘official sponsor’ bias. It seems obvious that his visit to the island was sponsored by the Sri Lankan military. Those who had talked with Anderson include Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Major General Kamal Gunaratne, Major General Mahinda Hathurusingha, as well as Sri Lankan ‘terrorism expert’ Rohan Gunaratna and Jaliya Wickramasuriya (Sri Lankan ambassador to USA, and a kin of President Rajapaksa). To present the Tamil view in 2009, Anderson had talked with two anonymous individuals; namely “a young pastor” and “a Tamil social worker, whom I will call Siva”.

In this commentary, I provide context and some additional comments to Anderson’s text. These include:

First, complete text of interviews of LTTE commander Kumarappa and Tamil Catholic priest Father Chandra Fernando, published in 1988. These appear badly mutilated in the New Yorker report; whereas Kumarappa material appears in half a page, the interview of Father Chandra Fernando is glossed over. In the 1988 book War Zones, which Jon Lee Anderson co-authored with his brother Scott Anderson, the Kumarappa interview occupies over 6 pages and the Father Chandra Fernando interview was more than 2 pages long. Kumarappa committed suicide by taking cyanide in October 1987, after the boat in which he travelled was captured by the IPKF personnel. Father Chandra Fernando was assassinated on June 6, 1988, by the para-military groups affiliated with the IPKF.

Secondly, my comments on Jon Lee Anderson’s anti-Tamil spin that Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) [the leader of the Sinhala Buddhist revivalists in the early 20th century] reference to the ‘vandals’ were “the Tamils of course”. By using one of his pet words ‘vandals’ (the other being, Aryan), Dharmapala meant more than Indian Tamil intruders like King Elalla (or Elara), a contemporary of Cartheginian General Hannibal (247-182 BC). In reality, Dharmapala used the word ‘vandals’ to mean pre-Christian era Tamil kings, medieval Muslim invaders of Indian subcontinent, foreign Christian missionaries, and the 19th century British colonialists.

Thirdly, I also comment on some other errors of omission and interpretation.

Interview with LTTE commander Kumarappa in Dec. 1986

by Jon Lee Anderson and Scott Anderson

[War Zones (1988), Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, pp. 223-229.]

Note: Dots (wherever they appear) and the sentences in italics are as in the original. Initials SA and JLA stands for Scott Anderson and Jon Lee Anderson.Kumarappa & Athuma in the Tiger camp 1988.  Within days, both would be dead. Jon Lee Anderson

The rendezvous is at noon, two hundred yards from the fortified Batticaloa police station. The two men on motorcycles approach, swerve, and motion us aboard. We roar off; a quick turn down an alley avoids an STF truck idling in an intersection. The rest of the trip out of the city is at breakneck speed. At one point, a third cyclist comes alongside and the young men exchange words. The ‘spotter’ points to the road behind, and the motorcycles speed up.

Finally in the countryside, we stop at the edge of a lagoon. The cycles are placed in fiberglas outrigger canoes and, with the riders, are paddled to the junglelike opposite shore by old, sun-blackened men in turbans. The trip continues on the other side, down a narrow road that cuts through a shrimp farm, to a Methodist church, its yard filled with youths bearing weapons. As the cycles pull up, one of the armed men speaks into a walkie-talkie. An hour later, a jeep arrives to take us the final leg of the journey to the Eastern Province headquarters of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The rustic base camp is surrounded by verdant rice paddies on Kokkadichola Peninsula, ten miles west of Batticaloa. The placidness of the setting is deceptive; the rutted track to the tree-ringed encampment is guarded by jumpy Tiger guerrilla sentries armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades. In the camp itself, the forty-odd cadres are swathed in weapons. The visit by outsiders has been prepared for with careful, intimidating ceremony; the fighters pose around the camp, their fingers on triggers.

Kumarappa, 27, is the Tiger commander for the Eastern Province. A heavy man with a drooping mustache and cold, brown eyes, he is wearing khaki pants and a white shirt, with a revolver tucked into his belt. Wicker chairs are arranged in a half-circle in a thatched hut; Kumarappa sits and waves for the questions to begin. His men crowd into the hut to watch and listen, and one Tiger with a camera snaps photos throughout the meeting.

SA: Why did you join the Tigers?

Kumarappa: Me? Because I am also part of these people. I am losing my freedom. Because when I was studying, you know, advanced level, when I was doing my exams, I had to get more and more marks than the Sinhalese people. Because I was a Tamil, you know? If you want to enter any university, you had to get more marks. For example, in education, in everything education-wise, and agriculture-wise, and job-wise, everything, the government…it’s, you know, at the price of the Tamils. Actually, you know, it turned into genocide.

SA: What’s the average day like for a Tiger?

Kumarappa: Our soldiers, every day when they get up, they do some exercises first of all. Then they have to get out and guard. Then, every day, they have to do some duty, politically, economically – you know, some intellect training. Everything, you know.

JLA: What are the rules about being a Tiger?

Kumarappa: You mean discipline? You know, no drinks first. Smokes, yeah, we accept – if they want, they can smoke. But no connection with a woman. They can feel with them, you know; I mean, they can love any woman, they can love, but nothing physical. They can’t make love.

JLA: For how long?

Kumarappa: That depends on the length of the war. To a girl, I will say, ‘If you want to marry me, you have to wait for me until we get our freedom.’ I mean, that’s the rule, you know. Because, in the situation in here, in the movement, we believe we can’t survive with women. Afterward, everybody, if they like, they can marry. After some period, maybe three or four years, then the Tiger can marry. In the early days, no…too much weakness.

JLA: It looks like a static situation, with the STF over in Batticaloa and you here. Is there even any confrontation?

Kumarappa: We face a lot of direct confrontation. At this moment, we are taking the rest in here. But our soldiers, every day they are searching for commandos. Some direct confrontation in Batticaloa town and some other places, around STF commando camps. Every day. At this moment, we face a confrontation against EPRLF [rival Tamil guerrilla force]. At this moment, they’re almost finished, EPRLF. We captured their arms and ammunitions and everything. A lot of them have surrendered.

JLA: Why the confrontation with the EPRLF?

Kumarappa: Because, you know, every day EPRLF was doing antisocial activities. Especially here in Batticaloa. We have Tamils and Muslims together here, you know, and they are actually imposing on the Muslim people. We accept the EPRLF, their self-determination and their rights, but they’re looting the Muslim shops and lorries. They’re making antisocial activities every day, day by day. Lots of times we warned them, but they persisted. That is the main reason. Because we are fighting for the liberation, the dedicated fight against the government here. Because we are, deep down, soldiers, you know, politically. That’s why.

SA: Do you find it difficult, as a Tamil, to take the life of a fellow Tamil?

Kumarappa: No. Because we’re fighting for a cause, you know. I mean, we’re dedicated to a fight, to give our lives. And the EPRLF are doing antisocial activities. We should try to cleanse them. ‘Okay, if you surrender, you can keep your life; we want only your arms and ammunition.’ We got a lot of arms from the EPRLF.

JLA: What kind of country do you see for Eelam?

Kumarappa: (long pause) Oh yeah, socialist. A socialist country, yeah. Because in here, sixty percent of the people are poor; only ten percent are very rich. Corruption, you know? We have to develop our country. New socialism.

JLA: Two countries, Sri Lanka and Eelam.

Kumarappa: Yeah. A separate state.

SA: Will the Tigers accept anything less than a separate state?

Kumarappa: No. We will fight, you know. We want it, theTamils. And to get Eelam we will fight.

JLA: So you don’t think negotiations will work?

Kumarappa: I think that’s a failure. Better to fight. My opinion, and of all the Tigers who have been here in this situation. Because every day, the STF commandos kill innocent people and loot our properties, destroy our economic schemes. Every day.

SA: All your soldiers carry cyanide capsules, is that correct?

Kumarappa: Yes, and, you know, the cyanide, no other army in the world goes into a fight with it. I think the cyanide helps our morale, you know? Especially, it increases our morale…and people have to keep our secrets.

JLA: Have any of your men had to use it?

Kumarappa: A lot of them. Time to time, since ’83. Sometimes men are captured by STF commandos. They take this, and that’s it.

JLA: What if he doesn’t take the cyanide. Say, he gets caught and is afraid?

Kumarappa: He must have to take it. That’s our rules. A Tiger, he will. Sometimes there’s no opportunity. For example, two or three of our Tiger soldiers, they didn’t have any cyanide capsules. They were caught, but they fight with the STF so they would shoot them, It’s a good death…

JLA: To make them shoot you?

Kumarappa: Yeah, it’s a good death. Our soldiers did that. It’s a very brave death…I’m not afraid to die, you know?

SA: Is this a fight between the Tigers and the government, or between the Tamils and the Sinhalese?

Kumarappa: The government and the Tigers. We love the Sinhalese people, you know, we love them. They are also innocent. But we are trying to gain the power. When they support the government, they don’t accept our homeland and our self-determination. We are a separate culture – everything, you know, separate religion, separate language. Everything.

JLA: When the STF goes berserk after an attack by you and kills civilians, does that make you feel partly responsible?

Kumarappa: Yeah, but that’s a very uncontrolled army, you know, uncontrolled troops. Especially here, the STF commandos react to the civilians. Every day they’re doing that here. Today, one incident, the STF commandos opened fire on the ferry, people that were passing on the river. Two of them killed, two civilians. Sometimes we also feel like doing that, you know. Actually, we don’t like that, but sometimes, you know, we don’t have any alternatives. Sometimes we have to do that job, too. We have to kill them also.

JLA; Do you feel you have popular support?

Kumarappa: Yeah. We have the popular support. You know, some government intelligence service, they moderate the people by money and they are getting a lot of information about us. The government intelligence is getting the messages every day. We can show you one spy that we have caught.

JLA: You have a spy here?

Kumarappa: Yeah, a spy here. Government-backed, I think MOSSAD-backed, you know? She’s a thirty six year old woman. She infiltrated our area and was getting the message and giving it to the commando camp. We’ve captured a lot of spies.

JLA: But she’s a Tamil?

Kumarappa: Yeah, she’s a Tamil.

SA: When did you find her?

Kumarappa: We knew about her two months ago, but day before yesterday, we captured her. Now there is an inquiry.

JLA: What will happen to her if you find she is guilty?

Kumarappa: Sentence her to death. That’s her final punishment. That’s the way it has to be, you know? They can’t survive.

SA: And how are they executed?

Kumarappa: Sometime we put them on the lamppost, sometime, you know, we have the Cordex explosive wire – just around her body and then we detonate it. This is our maximum punishment. We do it sometimes. Two or three times we’ve done it…

The woman ‘spy’, Kanagaratnam Athuma Kirikith, is brought into the hut. She is a tiny woman with wild, unkempt hair. Her eyes are unfocused; she seems to be in a state of shock. Athuma limps badly and is made to sit in the chair next to Kumarappa.

SA: How did you catch her?

Kumarappa: In Mandur, some ten miles from here. The officer in charge of Vellaveli police station operated her. All the time, if she wanted to pass a message, she would go the Vellaveli police station commandos.

SA: Has she confessed?

Kumarappa: Uh…yeah. She passed information through other sources, sometimes direct.

SA: But she’s admitted doing that?

Kumarappa: Yeah.

SA: She’s confessed?

Kumarappa: Yeah! Without any torturing, she accepts everything. Now, she asks me for her life now.

JLA: Has she said why she did it?

Kumarappa: Because of money. She’s suffering in poverty, you know.

JLA: It’s not because the STF leaned on her, are holding her husband or brother or something like that?

Kumarappa: I think now they are holding her brother.

SA: When will you decide what to do with her?

Kumarappa: We have to keep her alive for a little bit, because we need to have some other persons for the inquiry. So you have to keep them alive.

JLA: But it also happens, doesn’t it, that the STF captures Tamil civilians, holds them, and then maybe goes to the relatives and says, ‘If you want your son back you must bring us information’. Doesn’t that happen?

Kumarappa: Yeah, that’s also happening here. A lot of cases of that.

JLA: (to Athuma) Do you ave children?

Athuma: (in English) Seven children. One boy. He’s six.

JLA: Did you think this would happen to you?

Athuma: (answers in Tamil)

Kumarappa: She know one day it will happen.

JLA: If you knew it was going to happen, why did you do it?

Athuma: (a long, breathless passage in Tamil, her voice barely above a whisper, her eyes fixed on the tape recorder)

Kumarappa: I think she’s bluffing, yeah? She’s saying her family – you know, the children – are suffering. She says she had two children, and an officer in the Batticaloa police station, his sister took those children – because of the poverty, you know. Sergeant Dissanayake said, ‘Okay, we keep your children; you give us the information.’ She accepted to give the two children, and they are now in Colombo with this sergeant’s sister.

(Athuma now mumbles continuously in Tamil, in a low, hysterical voice.)

Kumarappa: She said the first incident to meet Mr. Dissanayake was the time she went to get her passport. Normally, you have to go to Colombo – very difficult to get a passport. But somebody said, ‘Okay, no problem. If you go see Sergeant Dissanayake, you can get your passport.’ Then she went to the Batticaloa police station and talked with Sergeant Dissanayake, so he made her do this way [inform].

JLA: What happened to her husband?

Kumarappa: She says the STF commandos, they beat her husband. He didn’t do anything. After, he couldn’t do anything – I mean, he couldn’t do any business or any work. Now he’s in the house.

SA: What does she think is going to happen to her?

(Athuma answers softly)

Kumarappa: She knows very well the final decision. She knows we’re going to kill her.

(Athuma begins another long monologue, repeated over and over until Kumarappa interrupts)

Kumarappa: She says, you know…I mean, she’s pleading, ‘They’re going to take my life.’

JLA: Did people die as a result of her information?

Kumarappa: No.

JLA: Then why can’t you forgive her?

Kumarappa: (sighs) Because, you know…she made a big mistake.

(Athuma is led out by several armed guerillas and returns to the hut that is her cell.)

It can be assumed that Athuma was executed within a few days of the interview. Attempts to intercede on her behalf with Tiger supporters in Batticaloa were futile. Eleven days later, the STF launched a massive raid on Kumarappa’s base. In the battle, at least twenty-one of the Tigers were reported killed, including Kumarappa. The Batticaloa Citizen’s Committee, however, charged the STF with executing twenty-seven people at the nearby shrimp hatchery and estimated the attack’s overall death toll at nearly two hundred, mostly civilians.

[Note: The detail provided in the book that Kumarappa died during this STF raid on Kumarappa’s base was erroneous. He died later, in October 1987.]


Interview with Catholic Priest Father Chandra Fernando

by Jon Lee Anderson and Scott Anderson

[in, War Zones (1988), Dodd, Mead & Co, New York, pp. 220-222.]

 “Father Chandra, 44, is a Tamil Catholic priest in the city of Batticaloa. He is a beefy, powerful man with jaded eyes. Crowding the open doorway of his office next to St. Thomas’ Cathedral is a cluster of women waiting to speak with him. They are the wives and mothers of Tamil men who have been picked up by the security forces. The priest’s office is one of the stops they make on their daily rounds, seeking help and information.

You know the problem we have in the Church today? The Church in the south doesn’t know what’s really happening in the north and east. They have not come and seen. We want them to come and see with their own eyes what is happening here and talk to the people who have been affected. And let them go and see the camps and how the young men are treated there. They have never come. And when we go and tell them, they don’t believe all this is happening here. The Church is divided. We are completely separate now. The Tamil bishops of the north and east are one, the rest of the bishops are another. The Sinhala bishops condemn the bishops of the north and east. They don’t say anything, just keep quiet.

Even the Sinhala people don’t know what is really happening here. The policemen can come and kill anyone on the road, and they’ll not give the body and they’ll bury them and tell them, ‘I have killed ten terrorists’. There’s no postmortem, no inquiry, nothing.

Even at night, they go and knock at the door and rape the girls and women, and break their houses, steal their gold, jewelry, and arrest people. They have killed so many people. Here, today, no young man can live. Because between the age of, say, fifteen and forty, every man has been arrested from time to time. Even last night, they opened fire at five people who had dinner here. They were shot at, and they arrested two and released them in the morning.

They killed a sixty three year-old man who looked after this church and took the body. They never returned the body. Sixty three years old. In September. He was the watchman of my church. For no reason. They just came and shot him and took the body. We saw them do it, but they said, ‘No. That incident did not take place.’ Where’s the body? Nobody knows.

We have no one to complain to. There’s no civil authorities here. We have no Members of Parliament. So who can you complain to?

The upper ranks of the Special Task Force are very nice people. You will find the CO [Coordinating Officer] a very nice man. But the lower ranks, the ordinary police, are very bad. They go and arrest some people and come back and tell him, ‘We arrested so many people.’ He has to believe. He says, ‘I have to believe my own men.’

I told the CO one day. ‘You believe your men’s story, but one day you will know what the truth really is.’ At least before God, he will have to answer one day and give an account of what happened.

You know, they were sent here, specially trained men to fight against terrorism. And to fight against terrorism, you have to win the hearts and minds of the people. But they are not winning the hearts and minds of the people; they know only the hatred.

SA: So can you understand why some of the Tamils have turned to violence?

Chandra: Yes. We were taking up nonviolent struggle from 1956 to 1983. We were nonviolent; we were beaten up, arrested. And the number of communal riots we experienced…So they found, the young men, that nonviolence is something which cannot bring you anything. So they’ve taken up to arms.

SA: But the Church advocates nonviolence. If a militant came to you, would you counsel him to lay down his weapons?

Chandra: (pause) What about defending our own land, our own men? I have to see that also. Now, today, so many villages and so many people are defended only by them; otherwise, the whole family there would have been destroyed. If I advise them to put down their arms, who is going to protect the Tamils? I cannot be one-sided, because I am born and bred here, I live among my own men. In this situation, I can’t but support the young men here who are armed.

SA: Does it cause a conflict within you to go against the dictates of the Church in order to follow your conscience?

Chandra: Actually, I can’t preach violence in public. I can’t because of the teaching of the Church.

JLA: So what can you preach to the young men here?

Chandra: (long pause) Here, most priests will tell them to pray, pray, pray. Make sacrifices. Most all the priests are asking the people to pray. That theory can be popular. In some places, every Sunday, the people come and make a day of fasting. Actually, most of our people who are church goers are emotionally and sentimentally of that nature.

Actually, the work of the Church today is the work of the Red Cross. It doesn’t prevent, but it helps the people who have suffered, but the important work…It’s the Church all over the world; it cares for the affected people but never tries to solve the problem. Every time, all over the world, the Church plays a very safe game. It won’t decide. You will never see the Church standing up. The Church keeps quiet. They don’t make statements here among a majority of Buddhists, because the Church doesn’t want any problems.

SA: But, as a priest, how do you feel being put in a position where you are condoning violence?

Chandra: (smiles archly) First lesson, the Church doesn’t support violence. Of course, you find in the Bible, even the history of Church – you know the crusaders? – you’ve heard how they were against the Muslims, and the Church supported the killing of the Muslims? Through the history of the Church, you will find so many examples. But the Church doesn’t support violence; the Church is against violence…

But I a working here. They are my people. Their problems are my problems. So I have to work for them. All over the world, so many priests are taking up arms to help the people. I am for the people, so I stand with them in this.

JLA: Has it changed the way you look at your religion?

Chandra: Sometimes you go around about the existence of God, and you look at all these things, your own people who have worked for you and are killed and we could do nothing. Even last year, people were killed inside the Church, on the nineteenth of January last year. Three young men were working inside the Church; they were killed inside the Church. Even the bishop didn’t ask why they have done this. Sometimes you wonder whether God exists.”

Then, in conclusion, Jon Lee Anderson referring to his 1986 interview with LTTE commander Kumarappa and meeting Athuma (the Tamil woman who spied for the STF in Batticaloa) wrote as follows: “I am euphoric with the unrelenting idealism of the young terrorist; I share the horror and shock of the woman about to be executed as a spy; yet, I understand her executioner’s practical motives.” (p. 295)


Angarika Dharmapala as a Buddhist delegate to the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893.A Comment on Anagarika Dharmapala’s use of the word ‘vandals’

A serious problem with war reporters (the likes of Barbara Crossette, John Burns and Jon Lee Anderson) is that they are sloppy with their history. For want of time, they rely on half-baked material heard from their native sources. I wonder whether Anderson had even read the source book on Dharmapala, edited by Ananda Guruge and published by the Ceylon Government Press in 1965. [Return to Righteousness: A Collection of Speeches, Essays and Letters of the Anagarika Dharmapala] I provide four quotes from this source book.

In the long introductory essay the editor clearly indicates, “Anagarika’s bête noire was the foreign missionary. With the planter and the bureaucrat, he was regarded to be the spearhead of the movement which weaned the people from their religious and cultural heritage. It was the combination of these forces which made the Anagarika vituperative in his attacks.”

In an essay he wrote to The Buddhist (June-July 1891, vol.3), Anagarika Dharmapala was highly critical of the Sinhalese Buddhist who aped the Europeans. “The modern Sinhalese, the product of Western education and Western civilization, is ignorant of the glorious past. Influenced by the money-grabbing, whisky-driking, beef eating, pork-loving European the anglicized Sinhalese does not want to know whether his ancestor was an Aryan from India, or a hybrid foreigner from Portugal, or a Dutch Boer from the Dykes of Holland. A patriot’s blood boils with indignation at the sight of the present anglicized Sinhalese who loves neither his country nor nation. Fancy the descendants of Wijaya having names, like Pereras, Silvas, Almedas, Diases, Liveras, Dons, Donas, Sarams, Ruberos, Botejos, Rodrigos et hoc genus omne. Why, a European would hardly believe that the owner of such a name is a Sinhalese?”

In a booklet published in Los Angeles (History of An Ancient Civilization, 1902), Anagarika Dharmapala used the word ‘vandalism’ to the action of British tea planters. To quote, “This ancient, historic, refined people, under the diabolism of vicious paganism, introduced by the British administrators, are now declining and slowly dying away. The bureaucratic administrators, ignorant of the first principles of the natural laws of evolution, have cut down primeval forests to plant tea; have introduced opium, ganga, wisky, arrack and other alcoholic poisons; have opened saloons and drinking taverns in every village; have killed all industries and made the people indolent. Alfred Russell Wallace, the great naturalist, in his work, the ‘Wonderful Century’, says that the vandalism of British tea planters in Ceylon in cutting down virgin forests has no parallel in history…”

Then, writing in the Maha Bodhi Journal (Dec. 1926, vol. 34), Dharmapala referred to the vandalism of invading Muslims who destroyed Buddhist civilization of ancient north India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, in his ‘Notes from my Diary’. To quote, “In the tenth decade of the eighteenth century hooligans, brigands, pirates, adventurers, filibusterers, immoral scoundrels of different European countries armed with nothing else except destructive weapons and poisons left their shores and came to Asia and destroyed weaker races and subdued them and pillaged the countries. Politically free races were made to go under the yoke of slavery. The political crimes committed by European adventurers have had no parallel in the history of the world except during the period of Moslem vandalism…”

One would note that even Prabhakaran would gladly agree with the sentiments expressed by Anagarika Dharmapala in 1926. The comments of James Clad (identified as Bush administration’s Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia) introduced by Anderson, testifies to the anger of Anagarika Dharmapala.

Comments on Other Errors of Omission and Interpretation

Item 1: A Kilinochchi house “discovered only in 2009” where Prabhakaran had lived.

Jon Lee Anderson seems to have gulped the story line provided by the Sri Lankan army. He had written “They claimed to have also found oxygen tanks, a bottle of cognac, and a supply of insulin (suggesting that Prabhakaran, who had grown rotund in recent years, may have been diabetic)…” Neither Anderson nor any of his Sinhalese sources had examined Prabhakaran. So how did they infer that Prabhakaran was diabetic? – by associating it with a supply of insulin. A more convincing answer lies somewhere. It was well known that Anton Balasingham was a diabetic and those supplies were for him, when he visited Kilinochchi in 2002. If Prabhakaran was in such a dire need for insulin, why he or his associates failed to take it with them, when they vacated that underground house?

Item 2: It is evident that this Anderson report had a long incubation time (almost an year). Anderson mentions the death of Prabhakaran’s father as, “He died this month, in Army custody”. Mr. T. Velupillai died in January 2010, whereas Anderson’s report appeared in January 17, 2011. New Yorker’s famous fact-checkers seem to have goofed here.

Item 3: Regarding Prabhakaran’s contemporary idols, Anderson states, “His contemporary heroes included Sylvester Stallone and Clint Eastwood.” I have never heard that Prabhakaran admired Stallone. Either, Anderson had merely inserted that name for joke, or that, he had used it as a replacement for India’s freedom fighter Subhas Chandra Bose, who was indeed Prabhakaran’s contemporary idol.

Item 4: One wishes to know why Uncle Sam turned a blind eye to the plight of Eelam Tamils. The role played by Uncle Sam’s bureaucrats was that of Biblical Job’s comforter. If Tamils haven’t supported violent LTTE, would they have received the favor from Uncle Sam? Not by any stretch. The non-violent campaigns led by two Nobel peace prize laureates (namely Dalai Lama and Aung San Suu Kyi) haven’t generated any favorable hearing from the deaf Uncle Sam.




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