K. Thulasi is a former LTTE cadre who had been well versed in handling firearms when LTTE activities were at its height in the north. However, he had given up the use of firearms during the final stage of separatist war that took place in Mulliwaikkal in Jaffna and surrendered to the Sri Lanka Army. Following rehabilitation, under the Sri Lanka Army, he entered politics and became the leader of a political party on behalf of militants. The political party he leads operates under the name ‘Liberation Campaigners of the North’. This is how he expressed his views about the war that concluded in the north in reply to questions asked by journalists. “According to the present political system in the country, I state with responsibility that no such war would erupt again in this country. If somebody thinks that a solution can be found by means of such a war, it is an act of sheer folly because I do not think that such a person has gained the experience in war like us. I can talk about the war with responsibility because I continued gaining experience as a militant and handled firearms until the finals hours of the war in Mulliwaikkal. All leaders of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), including Prabhakaran, were killed in the presence of our eyes. After that incident, we surrendered to the Army for want of a leader,” said Thulasi before answering a barrage of questions.
Q Let us speak about the war at first. What are your views about another war? Will it erupt again? There was an environment in which people were in a quandary about the war in the recent past. What is your view given the experience you have had?
As I already told you, I repeat with responsibility that a war will not erupt again. The people who live at present are not those who lived during the wartime. All have changed. Whether they are Tamils or Sinhalese, they all have understood that the war is unnecessary. Although we waged war for 30 years, there is nothing that we earned.
Q Even though nine years have passed after the war, it has a huge impact on the people, even today. The loans obtained by Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people during wartime are being repaid by them at present. Your comments.
If there was no war, we need not have spent more than Rs 20 for a kilo of sugar. A kilo of flour might not have cost more than Rs. 30. The price of fuel would not have gone up. That is the reason why a wage earner who obtains about Rs.1000 or 1200 daily and buys goods for this money can carry them in a single shopping bag. That is how the war has impacted the ordinary man. In these circumstances, nobody except a fool, would think that a war is necessary.
If somebody thinks that a solution can be found by means of such a war, it is an act of sheer folly because I do not think that such a person has gained the experience in war like us. I can talk about the war with responsibility
The people who live at present are not those who lived during the wartime. All have changed
Although we waged war for 30 years, there is nothing that we earned
There were nearly 600,000 people in the areas under the control of LTTE. Despite all these developments, we could not win Eelam
Q There are various allegations and one is that since there are former LTTE leaders still alive there is a possibility of a war erupting any time. What is your opinion?
I would like to tell the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim people one thing as a member of a political party as well as a former LTTE cadre. During the war, 70% of the management was under the LTTE. Likewise, 20,000 members were recruited by the LTTE directly. Prabhakaran came under their security. The Tiger leaders were armed to the teeth with most modern military equipment. There were nearly 600,000 people in the areas under the control of LTTE. Despite all these developments, we could not win Eelam or achieve any of our targets. There is not an iota of truth in the statements made by the people outside Sri Lanka that their demands can be won by waging war.
We are the ones who were at the forefront during the final stage of the war at Mulli Waikkal in Mullathivu. It was on the night of May 17, 2009 that we surrendered to the Sri Lanka Army. It was then only that Major General Kamal Gunarathna came to the scene. Even, he was not in a position tell who died and who survived nor could Karuna Amman or Daya Master talk about those who died or disappeared. We, who were in the battlefront say that all Tiger leaders including Prabhakaran died during the final stage of the war. Those who surrendered to the Army were the other cadres who accepted the fact that a war was not necessary. We understood it during the final stage of the war. We say so as people who carried arms, having observed all that happened with our own eyes, but not by using YouTube or a book.
Q Do you think persons who were rehabilitated and those who didn’t follow this process are of the opinion that there is a need for a separate state or separate form of rule?
There is no problem in the Tamil people living under a unitary state. But Sinhala people think it is as a problem. In the same way, all of us who returned to our homes after rehabilitation look forward to receive a fair decision. Then, nobody would think that it is necessary to divide the country, have a separate form of rule or stage another war. This country would not have deteriorated if the Sinhala and Tamil leaders got together and took a decision following discussions. By this time, the loss in terms of people and properties cannot be estimated in the form of money. It was not only the Tamil leaders, among the dead were Sinhala leaders and ordinary people. All this was a result of the war.
Q What is your opinion regarding the problems that emerged due to war and the problems associated with the people who disappeared and the intervention of international forces?
On behalf of all the Sinhala people who died during the war, we extend an apology at this moment to the Sinhala people. All this happened due to the war in which our organization fought in order to fulfill our objectives. In the same way, we request the Sinhala people to look into the grievances of the Tamil people whose family members died at Mulli Waikkal. We are the people who live in the same country. It is we who should have discussions to find a solution to the problems that may emerge. I pointed out to members of delegations from America and Canada who met me recently about the problems that Tamils face. The problems that emerged due to the war have been referred to a third party. But, I say that these problems have been aggravated due to the fact that we referred them to the international community.
We are not late. Let us discuss and find a way in which all people in the country can live together. Then, we may have a good future. We should not tell others about our problems. We should settle our problems by ourselves.
We who were in the battlefront say that all Tiger leaders including Prabhakaran died during the final stage of the war
We say so as people who carried arms, having observed all that happened with our own eyes, but not by using YouTube or a book
This country would not have deteriorated if the Sinhala and Tamil leaders got together
On behalf of all the Sinhala people who died during the war, we extend an apology at this moment to the Sinhala people
Q What made you take up politics after resorting to an armed struggle and subsequent rehabilitation?
It was not the Tiger organisation alone that resorted to a struggle. They waged war due to the prevailing political environment in the country. After the war, it was understood that the Tamil people would not be benefitted by Tamil politics. That is the reason why we decided to enter politics. As former Tiger cadres, we were confronted with economic problems when we returned home after rehabilitation. There is no proper employment. Nine years has passed after war, but many people are unemployed. They should be employed. For instance, education is not required for jobs like security guards in a hospital or jobs in the Civil Security Force. There is a problem about their age limits. I think it is better for the government to provide employment opportunities after considering everything.
Q What is your opinion about the prevailing political situation in the north and east after taking to politics?
As a result of the Provincial Council Elections held in 2013, Tamil people experienced some sort of change or redress. In future, whatever the election that is held, there is a ray of hope that Tamil people would support the Tamil National Alliance because Tamil people do not like division in their votes. It is a sheer waste of time to talk about Vigneswaran or Anandasangari or Ananda Shashidaran or other minority parties. They do not do anything good for Tamil people or the country. Our party has teamed up with the Tamil National Alliance. We hope to do the best we can on behalf of the Tamil people.
Q What are your plans for the Tamil people and the country in the future?
I would like to give a message on behalf of our party to the people comprising all communities. During our youth, without any employment or a sound education, we lived in the forests and waged a war. We even kept aloof from our community. We lost our youth. But, after the war, we mixed and mingled with our community. They accepted us. It is now only that we have begun to live happily.
We have removed the word ‘war’ from our minds. Therefore, we would like to tell one thing to this Government. The LTTE wasn’t an organisation that blindly waged an armed struggle. There were very rich as well as educated people among its cadres. Likewise, there are similar members of the society in our party as well. We are ready to serve our country well.