Nine years after the ‘bloody’ war against the Tiger rebels we still hear of violence taking place in some form in the north. Despite the rebels being completely wiped out and guns and bombs falling silent there is news from the north of sporadic attacks taking place using swords. At a time when hard earned peace is not valued it seems apt to review the book titled ‘Thiyunu Asipathaka Sevana Yata’-(Under the refuge of a deadly weapon)- the life story of ex-tiger rebel Thamilini Jeyakkumaran.
In the book Thamilini’s story is penned by Swaminathan Wimal following a request made to the former by Dharmasiri Bandaranayake to rekindle the past she had with the LTTE. In the book Thamilini talks about the glories associated with the LTTE and how the dream of building a separate nation was shattered, largely due to the wrong decisions made by the rebel hierarchy. The ex-tiger rebel was battling cancer at the time she fed the author of the book with the information about the war and finally succumbed to the disease.
As one reads the 260-page book it’s evident that the LTTE never valued peace and even disliked the idea of promoting unity among communities. The organisation’s only vision was to build a separate nation and for that cause it laid down certain rules and regulations which the tiger rebels and the civilians had to adhere to even if they disliked them. Questioning the LTTE hierarchy and probing to find more information than what was provided was considered a crime within the organisation.
Thamilini, like other desperate Tamil women in the north, joined the organisation when order within the civil society was sent into oblivion due to the constant fighting between the Sri Lanka Army and the LTTE.
According to Tamilini the role of the women in the Tamil society had changed immensely with females joining the rebel movement
Her only ambition was to excel in studies and enter the university, but a cruel war put her on a path to disruption. Between 29th July in 1991 and 16th May in 2009 she saw the world through the eyes of a terrorist. The book tells us that she was largely used by the organisation for political propaganda work; given her oratory skills.
She rose swiftly within the ranks of the organsation and became the head of the women’s political wing. However she recalls instances during which she realised certain flaws in the LTTE’s decision making like imposing taxes on people and the forced recruitment of civilians to the organisation during the latter stages of the war. She says she was depressed when trying to find the answers to the question as to why a rebel organisation, fighting for the liberties of the Tamil people, had decided to use the same citizens as human shields when battling against the Government troops in Jaffna.
Change of women’s role
According to Tamilini the role of the women in the Tamil society had changed immensely with females joining the rebel movement. The otherwise restricted role of women being housewives changed to one of importance with the gun-slinging women making their contribution towards building a separate homeland for the Tamil people.
Whether the rest of Sri Lanka likes it or not Tiger rebel Leader Velupillai Prabakaran had an immense presence and a commanding personality and was considered as a demi god, according to Thamilini’s description of her leader in the book.
Even when the war intensified in the Wanni in 1999 and the Army was advancing, Thamilini stated that those within the organisation believed that Prabakaran had a solution for the problems that existed.
The book intricately describes the turning point in the whole conflict which was the closing of the Mavil Aru Reservoir by the LTTE in 2006. This move had adversely effected the Sinhalese farmers in the area. The Army then acquiring Mavil Aru pretty soon that year had dented the confidence of the rebels. The Government again closing the A 9 road and the war intensifying in 1999 had pushed the Tamil civilians from pillar to post.
According to Thamilini’s description of the finals stages of the war she had managed to keep a sound mind which she says was helpful in taking some vital decisions.
This decision she says, pertaining to her, was taken after realising that the Tiger hierarchy had abandoned the remaining members of the organsation
Leaving the organisation
As the Army closed in on the Tigers she had valiantly tried to keep in contact with LTTE’s Political leader Nadesan, but her efforts proved futile. It was then that she had given the order to the other cadres under her command to leave the organisation which she herself did eventually. This decision she says, pertaining to her, was taken after realising that the Tiger hierarchy had abandoned the remaining members of the organsation. These gripping chapters of the book give a glimpse into the mind of a honest lady who was true to her conscience.
The skills of the writer Wimal are best showcased in these chapters where the fall of a world renowned terrorist organisation is described in telling fashion.
The chapters in which Thamilini surrenders to the Army and spends her jail term underscores the fact that she was willing to undergo punishment for her wrongdoings. But the most important thing about the experience in jail is that she comes out keeping her head straight and wanting to see a new beginning to her life.
The rehab process she talks about in the book suggests that the Government of Sri Lanka had a solid plan to reform these ex-tiger rebels and make them fit into society again. Thamilini says in the book that she was surprised to see that people who were in charge of the rehab programme were not hostile to her.
In the book Thamilini’s story is penned by Swaminathan Wimal following a request made to the former by Dharmasiri Bandaranayake to rekindle the past she had with the LTTE
Finishing the rehab programme she finds her future partner in life, Jeyakumaran. But destiny is not kind to her even during this stage of her life because she is diagnosed with cancer. Death swiftly takes her life despite receiving the best of treatment at the Maharagama Cancer Hospital. While helping pen her life story, Thamilani’s request was to donate the proceeds of this book to the cancer hospital where she received treatment.