Velupillai Prabhakaran

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Ideas move fast when their time comes.
Carolyn Heilbrun
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Velupillai Prabhakaran (Tamil: வேலுப்பிள்ளை பிரபாகரன்; born November 26, 1954).

He has a reputation as a fearless guerrilla leader, and under his leadership, the LTTE, or Tamil Tigers, have become a highly-disciplined and highly- motivated guerrilla force. His organisation shows no sign of being defeated militarily by the Sri Lankan army, even though it is vastly outnumbered. Mr Prabhakaran is reputed to wear a cyanide capsule around his neck, to be swallowed in the event of his capture. He expects the same dedication from his troops.

Prabhakaran's Quotes

  • Nature is my friend. Life is my philosopher. History is my guide.
  • Fear is the outcome of weakness, a coward’s friend, an enemy of firmness. Fear of death is the cause of all human fears. One who wins the fear of death wins himself. He is the one who wins the freedom. From his mental prison.
  • Whether we like it or not the change has occurred, struggle is our life and life is struggle.
  • I always give less importance to speech, Only after growing up in action that we should begin speaking.
  • Rather than idleness of people, it is the activeness of people that turns the wheels of the struggle.
  • I understand the dignity of a life, but our right is much more dignified than life, our freedom, and our self-respect.
  • We are not politicians, we are freedom fighters.
  • We have sowed the seed of an ideal, we grow it by irrigating with the blood of our martyrs. This seed will grow up into a luxurious tree and make our martyr’s dreams a reality.
  • The liberation Tigers are not different from the people. The Liberation Tigers is a people movement. The people are the Tigers.
  • To govern does not mean imposing the rule in the people or exercising the authority on the people, Governing is a work of service to the people, a service directing the people for good life.
  • The Tamils bowed their heads when repeatedly knocked and lived as slaves with shame. The greatness of getting them to live with self-respect was the work of out liberation movement.
  • Although the Tamils live widely all over the worlds, it is in Tamil Eelam that there is awakening of the national spirit. It is in Tamil Eelam the national personality is born. It is Tamil Eelam there are external signs of a separate state.
  • The struggle for the ideal of women liberation is a fiery child that was born on the laps of the liberation movement.
  • The strength in numbers or the strength in arms does not determine the victory in a battle. The firm determination, bravery, and the love of liberty are the qualities that determine victory.
  • My comrades whom I loved as my life, my generals who have been fighting along with me shoulder to shoulder, my fighters whom I fostered for several years, When they fall in the battle field my heart bursts. Yet in that grief I do not languish. All these losses add strength to my will towards my ideal.
  • The patterns of battle may change, but our battle ideal will never change.
  • If we do not win our freedom we have to live as slaves, we loose our self-respect and live in shame, live in eternal fear and suspense, get wiped out step by step. We have no alternative but to fight for freedom.
  • A liberation worrier’s death is not a normal death occurrence. This death is a historical incident. It is a miracle of high ideal becoming a reality. In fact a liberation fighter does not die. The fine of ideal which was his life never burns out. That fine of ideal becomes a historical force and captures the heart of others. It wakes up the national spirit of a race.
  • The ‘Cyanide’ is the symbol to show that we are dedicated to our ideal. As long as this cyanide hangs on our neck we will not fear any force in the world.
  • Whether it be non-violent struggle or armed struggle our liberation was has reached world’s peak.

Their own words - Who said what

Jyotindra Dixit, India's Foreign Secretary in Assignment in Colombo:

"The LTTE's emergence as the most dominant and effective politico-military force representing Tamil interests was due to the following factors:

  • First, the character and personality of its leader V Prabhakaran who is disciplined, austere and passionately committed to the cause of Sri Lankan Tamils' liberation. Whatever he may be criticised for, it cannot be denied that the man has an inner fire and dedication and he is endowed with natural military abilities, both strategic and tactical. He has also proved that he is a keen observer of the nature of competitive and critical politics. He has proved his abilities in judging political events and his adroitness in responding to them.
  • Secondly, he has created a highly disciplined, and dedicated cadres, a manifestation of which is inherent in what is called the 'cyanide cult.' Each regular member of the LTTE carries a cyanide pill and is pledged to committing suicide rather than being captured by the enemy.
  • The third factor is the cult and creed of honesty in the disbursement and utilisation of resources. Despite long years spent in struggle, the LTTE cadres were known for their simple living, lack of any tendency to exploit the people and their operational preparedness.
  • The fourth factor has been the LTTE's ability to upgrade its political and military capacities including technological inputs despite the constraints imposed on it by Sri Lankan forces and later by India.
  • The fifth factor is a totally amoral and deadly violent approach in dealing with those the LTTE considers as enemies.
  • The sixth factor is Prabhakaran's success in gathering around him senior advisers with diverse political, administrative and technological capacities, which contributed to effective training of his cadres, optimum utilisation of the military equipment which he had, and the structuring of an efficient command and control system. (Assignment Colombo, by J N Dixit, Konarak Publishers, 1998)

Marshall R Singer, Ph. D. Professor of International and Intercultural Affairs, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs - University of Pittsburgh:

  • "As far as I can tell most ordinary Tamils support the Tigers, not necessarily because they like them, but because they like the Sri Lankan - or Indian - armies less. The Tigers are ruthless and authoritarian but they are not corrupt - they don't tolerate stealing, bribery or rape, things other armies are famous for. In fact they are perceived as being single minded in their defence of Tamils. They are so disciplined that when captured, they swallow cyanide capsules that they carry with them at all times, rather than risk revealing anything under torture." (Statement before US Congress Committee on International Relations Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Hearing on Sri Lanka November 14,1995)

Lieutenant General Depinder Singh, Overall Force Commander of the Indian Peace Keeping Force:

  • "Numerous questions were to be asked as to why the IPKF could not capture or kill Pirabakaran; another equally wild allegation was that the IPKF had orders not to kill Pirabakaran. Apart from the impossibility of singling out an individual target for destruction or protection in such an environment, we must remember that by virtue of the fact that the LTTE had an effective junior leadership, the loss of Pirabakaran could never have resulted in the disintegration of the LTTE.. This (book) is a left handed salute to the LTTE whose deviousness cannot overshadow their incredible motivation and magnificent fighting prowess, for which the Indian armed forces will always have a healthy respect." (Lieutenant General Depinder Singh in "IPKF in Sri Lanka" published in 1992)

Lieutenant General S.C. Sardesh Pande, IPKF Divisional Commander, Jaffna:

  • "I have a high regard for the LTTE for its discipline, dedication, determination, motivation and technical expertise... I was left with the impression that the LTTE was the expression of popular Tamil sentiment and could not be destroyed, so long as that sentiment remained." (Lieutenant General S.C. Sardesh Pande in "Assignment Jafna", published in 1992)