Tuesday, 10 May 2016

His Royal Highness, The Tamil Tiger - FICTION

 

By
Kathir Balasundaram

Chapter 7

Freedom Fighter
 
The Minster of Political Affairs stood in his luxurious bedroom adjusting his camouflage uniform. He had a special meeting in about two hours that he needed to prepare for. He was deep in thought, his lips moving but issuing no sound. His disgrace at the Vembady Girl’s College weighed heavily on his mind, and he frequently glanced at the ceiling, lost in thought.
His wife, Komathy, watched her distinguished husband with concern. She fidgeted herself, adjusting her blue salwar kameez*—a popular Indian dress—as she glanced worriedly at her husband. She didn’t understand his distress, because she didn’t take the disturbance at the Vembady Girls’ College seriously. She held faith that her husband’s good relationship with His Royal Highness would remain close no matter what. She assumed that His Royal Highness depended greatly on her husband.

“Your smile is carrying the weight of worry,” she said softly. “Your forehead is perspiring too, and you keep muttering. I don’t understand why you are so worried.”
The Minister frowned at his wife and beckoned her to follow him into the sitting room—a room recently filled with shining brand new Italian furniture. The Minister sat down slowly on the sofa and looked rather pathetically at his wife. He recalled the days when he had loved her, and now, looking at her, he recalled them fondly. He sighed. He did not dare disclose to her the real nature of his return to their home.
“His Royal Highness has called me to an urgent meeting,” he told her.
“You’re worried about what happened yesterday, aren’t you?” She shook her head. “Don’t worry. You are his right hand man—the unofficial deputy of the Tamil Tigers. We all know that the situation has changed since the signing of the CFA.”
“He’s not like that,” he found himself disagreeing. “If someone fails, that’s it. That’s the end of him. He only cares for results, not excuses for failure. Remember when he was under house arrest in Delhi*, India’s capitol, in 1987? He vowed revenge upon Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for that, and he never gave up that vow. He carried vengeance in his heart for four years until he succeeded in assassinating him through Thanu, that girl he turned into a suicide bomber.” He looked hard at his wife. “Revenge is in his blood. We needed India. I don’t believe that we can establish a Tamil Kingdom without the backing of India. But he won’t ever listen to advice. You know him. He’s a dangerous, obstinate man. He practically invented guerrilla tactics that have so shaken the world.” He took a deep breath. “If Al-Qaida learned from him, how am I to stand before him? I’m scared.”
His wife licked her lips, her eyes shifting back and forth in denial. “Darling, you were his bodyguard for twelve years. It’s different for you. He likes you. You brought presents to his children from Europe! He respects you…I’m sure of it! He wouldn’t do anything extreme.”
“He doesn’t care about such things,” the Minister said waving away her words with one hand. “Remember Mahattaya? He was once the deputy of the Tamil Tigers and head of our political party. In 1987, he even signed a 14 point agreement with Puri, the First Secretary of the High commission of India.” He lifted an eyebrow. “He was an important person too. He was liked by His Royal Highness, but that didn’t stop His Royal Highness from issuing an arrest warrant, charging Mahattaya with treason and with the attempted assassination of His Royal Highness. Uncle Pottu, on orders of His Royal Highntess, took Mahattaya and 257 of his supporters to a coconut estate east of Chavakachcheri where they were executed right in front of many important citizens called out just to watch the execution.”
Komathy swallowed hard. “Was he guilty?”
“Who knows? Treason is the standard charge handed out these days. There was some evidence—a lot if you trust the word of those who brought it. But who knows?”
His wife now looked a bit nervous. “Where is your meeting?”
“I don’t know. When I reach Murukandy, the Chief of Intelligence Uncle Pottu’s men will escort me to the location.”
Those words hit his wife’s heart like stones slung from a sling. She mentally made the connection between Uncle Pottu—‘Uncle’ being a term of respect, not physical relation. Her heart sank. For the first time, she began to truly worry. “Will you take your bodyguards?”
The Minister stood and shook his head. “I go alone.” Having said that, he started out the door and marched to his new Pajero parked in front of his well-to-do house. He paused with his hand on the door handle and looked around as if it may be the last time he ever did so. His favorite dog barked at him from the kennel near the porch, its black, hairy tail wagging at his master, his large head and eyes straining at the gate. The Minister looked to his small wife standing with teary eyes by the ornate front door and shook his head sadly. The absence of his usual smile proclaimed louder than words his perilous situation at the hands of His Royal Highness.
Komathy watched as her husband’s car left the compound, the three armed sentries closing the iron gate behind him. She, too, was a member of the Tamil Tiger Insurgency even before her marriage to the Minister. “Please, God, be with him! I never thought this day would come so soon. I have nowhere to go and my own family will have nothing to do with me!”
She turned back, determined to spend a long time in the Prayer Room, praying for her husband.

*          *          *          *          *

That same morning found His Royal Highness shaving in his luxurious washroom within the well fortified compound hidden deep in the jungle east of Kilinochchi about two miles from the Bay of Bengal. A small number of abandoned huts, roofed with coconut leaves, lay scattered around the bunker—only occasionally occupied by Tamil Tiger soldiers stationed near the compound.
The vegetation, during the monsoon season, had exploded into colorful shades of green, accented by a wide variety of beautiful flowers of all colors. A strong wind from the northeast swayed the palmyra palms slightly and caused bushes and other trees to sway more violently. The wind carried to the ears of those near the bunker the faint sounds of massive waves crashing against the shore.
Atop the bunker, on ground level, stood a small concrete house roofed with red tiles. The house was a front—a quaint, picturesque deception that helped to hide the reinforced steel and cement bunker buried ten feet below it. The bunker had been specially constructed to withstand direct airstrikes from K-fir and Mig-27 bombers. It had all of the modern conveniences including electricity, TV, refrigerator, and air-condition.
Tall trees with overlapping branches and leaves formed a camouflaged canopy over the small house to add more protection from aerial spying. A rather innocent looking fence surrounded the house and was covered in cadjans—coconut leaves—to make it look like it belonged to some farmer. The white sandy ground around the house looked neat and tidy. A short distance away and cleverly hidden among the large fan like palmyra leaves, satellite dishes fed the bunker with the latest intelligence reports, news, and TV programs from around the world.
Security was exceptionally strong around the house and was composed of two rings. The first ring was about five hundred yards out from the house and the second one about one thousand two yards out. All of the security guards were dressed in black to enable them to blend into the dark shadows of the jungle. They were armed with sophisticated assault weapons strong enough to fend off tanks, if necessary.
Many of the guards were on alert to escort His Royal Highness to an urgent meeting more than thirty kilometers from the bunker.
The previous day, nine hundred special-ops troops flooded the jungle area around Murukandy, a region to the south of Kilinochchi, checking houses, disrupting classes at a small primary school, and keeping careful watch over the part of the A9 Highway that ran nearby to the east. Most of the soldiers were dressed in civilian clothing, but some were dressed in the recognizable black clothing of elite Tamil Tiger soldiers. To secure the area, two men were posted at each house to prevent word from spreading of His Royal Highness’ pending arrival. The rest of the troops scattered over the mosquito infested paddy fields and water reservoirs, keeping company with scorpions, snakes, deer, elephants, and pigs.
With a clean shave and his thick mustache dyed black, His Royal Highness strode into the main white-marbled room of the bunker. His gaze ran over the pictures of his family that hung on the white walls, and he absently adjusted his camouflaged uniform devoid of any identifying marks or medals. His son, fifteen year old, Chanthran, entered the room from another door. His Royal Highness looked fondly at his boy and said, “My dear son, one day you’ll wear the Tigers’ uniform and fight for the Tamil Kingdom.”
His son shrugged. “Don’t you think it will end in your lifetime, Dad?”
“You’re too intelligent to believe that, son.”
“Father, I hate your war.” He paused, struggling to form his words. “You’ll fight until you’re dead, Father. I don’t think you even like peace.”
“My dear son, you are too small to understand how important our mission is. If we die, we die for a worthy cause. We are fighting for the freedom of all Tamils who have been treated like slaves by the Sinhalese. We’ve been slaughtered by the thousands, driven from our lands, and persecuted relentlessly. We have no rights. It’s my job to teach them a lesson, to show them that the Tamil people will no longer bow before them. History will remember me as a liberator and a freedom fighter—a dark blot on Mahavasma history written by a bigoted Sinhala Buddhist monk and a time of shame for the Sinhalese race.
Having no words to fight against such rhetoric, his son just shrugged again. “Whatever, I just hate living in this bunker.”
 “Why? You have everything here. Uncle, the Smiling Minister, brought you toys from Europe.”
“I want to be like all the other boys.”
“You will. Once we have established a Tamil Kingdom, we can abandon these bunkers.”
“Dad, you just said that I’ll have to fight! You said it won’t end in your lifetime.”
“Just be patient, son.”
“You don’t know when this will end, do you? Why don’t you make a permanent peace agreement?”
“Until we have a separate kingdom for the Tamils, there can never be a permanent peace.”
The lad licked his lips. “Are you afraid to leave the bunker, Dad?”
His Royal Highness scowled at his son, resenting the allusion to fear. “Mathy!” he shouted. His wife rushed into the room. “Take him out,” he ordered.
The lad, startled and scared, ran to his mother and slipped behind her hoping she could shield him from his father’s wrath.
“He’s just a lad,” Mathy said soothingly. “He’s just tired of living like this. Please, he is not arguing with you. Mathy’s voice reflected her education. She was an agricultural undergraduate from a high class family of Punkududeevu, a tiny island situated to the southwest of the City of Jaffna. She could have gone much further in her education, but having fallen in love with the notorious guerilla leader of the Tamil Tigers cut her education short.
“He’s impertinent,” her husband snapped. “You would do well to teach him to follow his older brother and sister.”
“You want him to join the soldiers,” she accused. “I’ve already lost my younger brother to battle. Must we lose our own children?”
His face darkened as he strode towards his wife. “Shut up, and get out of my way.”
She blanched at his dark tone and scooted aside. She rarely heard such language from her husband, and indeed, His Royal Highness didn’t like to use such strong words with his wife. But the details of the episode at the Vembady Girls’ College had unbalanced him. His simmering anger had not yet found a focus, and for the first time in four years, he had called all of his ministers and bureaucrats together for a meeting.
He rarely left his bunker these days. During the Indian Peace Keeping Forces occupation in 1987, the Tamil people saw him only once when he addressed roughly one hundred thousand people to explain his reasons for accepting the agreement between India and Sri Lanka. He came out of hiding briefly in 2002 when he met a crowd of about two hundred individuals representing local and foreign media agencies. This incident with the Vembady Girls’ College, however, needed to be addressed personally.
His Royal Highness moved into a small sitting room near the exit and sat down on a sofa, picked up a phone—a direct line to his Intelligence Chief, and said, “Pottu?”
“Yes Your Highness?” came the voice on the line.
“Security?”
“In place. Everyone is alert and the route and destination are secure.”
“Where are you now?”
“I’m in Murukandy. I’m watching the traffic on the A9 Highway near the Murukandy Pillayar Temple. Many people are stopping to pray, light camphor, and break coconuts in front of the Temple. They then go nearby to a tea shop to have tea.”
“Be careful.”  
“I’ve got thirty men in plain clothing keeping an eye on the situation here.”
“If you see anyone loitering, take him immediately for interrogation.”
“Yes, Sir!”
Sometime later, His Royal Highness’ convoy moved along remote gravel roads through the jungle towards his meeting some thirty miles away. A troop of husky, reddish brown monkeys chattered excitedly from the sides of the road, jumping from branch to branch among the trees as the cars passed them. Along the entire route, Tamil Tiger soldiers lay hidden in protective silence as their leader passed.
Six identical forest green jeeps moved along in the convoy, preceded by a security detail of twenty motorcycles staggered about a hundred meters apart from each other to keep an eye on the road ahead.
The convoy passed by the Iranamadu reservoir brimming with the monsoon rains. It was the largest reservoir in northern Sri Lanka, irrigating around 9,500 acres of paddy fields. Rose color lotuses along the bank attracted His Royal Highness’ attention and distracted him from his anxiety. A group of birds dived into the water chasing fish. He recalled hunting such small birds with his slingshot as a boy, their tender flesh made a delicious spicy curry. He almost stopped the jeep to watch the birds, pick some lotuses, and enjoy their fresh fragrance, but he feared to show any watching eyes which jeep he rode in.
He traveled in the first vehicle. In the third one, a man looking very much like him, a double, served as a decoy.
They crossed the A9 Highway and also the abandoned Colombo-Jaffna train tracks—a remnant of the civil war. The railway station buildings were all damaged by Sri Lankan air force bombings. The iron rails were missing, having been appropriated for use in constructing protective bunkers. Creepers had taken over both the rail bed and the buildings, intertwining with tall bushes that had overgrown the area.
At length, the convoy came to a stop a short distance from the primary school in Murukandy.

*          *          *          *          *

The secret meeting would take place at the primary school. The school sat in the midst of some small houses, their roofs thatched with paddy straw. The school, in contrast, was a newer construction having been roofed in red tiles. Two of the classrooms had been converted into an audience room filled with beautiful and expensive furniture brought in from the Kilinochchi Cultural Hall. His Royal Highness’ ornate chair dominated the room not only in location, but also in expense. The rest of the chairs were arranged in a half circle in front of His Royal Highness’ chair.
Ministers and bureaucrats sat in these chairs, talking quietly amongst themselves. An air of worry and trepidation pervaded the general feeling of those present. Previous meetings of this sort usually involved the demotion and severe punishment of someone. Most hoped it wasn’t them, but more than a few eyes fell on the Minister of Political Affairs whose famous smile alone was not in attendance. They knew about what happened at the Vembady Girl’s College. They knew why the normally proud man had chosen to sit in the back row. They knew why the Chief Intelligence Officer, Uncle Pottu, sat alone, his stern gaze resting completely on the Minister of Political Affairs.
The Treasury Secretary, sporting a deep scar from a bullet on his forehead, whispered to the Minister of Fisheries, “In the entire history of our movement, there has never been a greater shame. Remember former Minister of Education, Jegan Mohan? He too was questioned and challenged by a civilian, a young man from a village in Jaffna.”
“I remember,” the other replied softly. “His Royal Highness stripped him of his rank and tossed him into prison for not shooting the upstart young man.”
The Treasury Secretary nodded. “I saw him recently. He’s nothing more than a common recruit all the way at the bottom.” He threw a look at the Minister of Political Affairs. “His Royal Highness will have his head.”
“It all depends on his mood,” the other agreed. “His Royal Highness just may shoot him dead right here in front of us.”
His Royal Highness bodyguards poured into the room seemingly from everywhere at once. An instant hush fell over the waiting ministers and bureaucrats. Three guards took up positions behind His Royal Highness’ chair. One of the guards, a tall girl with two braids wrapped around the nape of her neck, scrutinized the room carefully. Her AK-47 rested familiarly over one shoulder, and she fingered her sidearm hanging from her right hip as she looked from person to person. Her lack of any jewelry and the manner in which she had done her hair gave her a distinctly odd look.
Without warning, His Royal Highness walked into the audience room like an army commander preparing to dress down his troops. Everyone stood and saluted, holding both palms together in front of their chests like Hindus praying. Most of the men in the room were large and well fed like wild buffaloes of the Vanni forests. Only the Minister of Political Affairs seemed physically fit enough to actually charge into combat with the younger soldiers. Every one of the men, however, sported a mustache much like that of their leader.
The attending officials sat down only after His Royal Highness took his seat. Their fearsome leader looked straight into the eyes of the Smiling Minister. Everyone held their breath expecting disaster to strike their fellow officer.
His Royal Highness cleared his throat. “Dear Ministers and bureaucrats, fellow Tamil Tigers, in all of our illustrious history, the Tamil Tigers have never before faced such disgrace as we now do by the students at Vembady Girls’ College. Always before, we crushed even the most minute word or act that disparaged either our worthy cause or my deeds. I personally eliminated many of them!
“I’m certain that this dissidence is the subtle work of other insurgency groups that have now joined with the government and act on its behalf as a paramilitary unit.” He took in the entire room with wide eyes. “The danger is more pronounced than we believe. If this rebellion isn’t smashed soon, we will be driven from our beloved homeland to live in exile. We can’t allow this to continue. Our Intelligence Chief, Uncle Pottu, will explain further.”
Pottu climbed to his feet and turned to face the crowd.
“Your Majesty and my friends, we have to act fast. According to intelligence reports, a philosophical change has crept into the consciousness of the people of Jaffna following the signing of the CFA. Little by little, the people are turning against us. The information coming our way from our intelligence assets is unbelievably dreadful…and it’s spreading.
 “People have begun to look upon us almost as fiends, and lately our unyielding tax extracting system has made them hate us.” Uncle Pottu sighed deeply before continuing, his eyes fixed on his audience. “We believe that the mastermind behind yesterday’s verbal attack at Vembady Girls’ College was a thirty-six year old unmarried lady named Kavitha from K.K.S., a port city on the north coast of Jaffna peninsula. The woman is the daughter of Karunanithy, a police officer, whom we killed at Maviddapuram in 1977. You know who killed him.” Hearing the tact hint, the audience stood up and applauded looking straight at His Royal Highness smiling and nodding. His Royal Highness had been 23 at the time and had just established his Tamil Tiger insurgency the previous year.
“Karunanithy was the first policeman—an informant who betrayed our leader’s whereabouts—killed by the Tamil Tigers. His daughter, Kavitha, is a history graduate from the celebrated University of Peradeniya; she passed her final examination at the top of her class. She was a contemporary and friend of Priya Shan, Vice Principal of Vembady Girls’ College, who studied chemistry in the faculty of science. Now Kavitha is a teacher at Vembady Girls’ College and known as History Teacher among students as well as staff. Also, she is the younger sister of a soldier, Duruvan of Tamil Eelam Liberation Organization, whom we shot and burnt at KKS-Moolai intersection in 1986. He was one of the 400 TELO soldiers we killed to purge the movement. At that time, Kavitha was a eleven year old girl attending Ramanathan Girls’ College. She with her mother witnessed the burning corpse of her brother, Duruvan, and since then, she has been carrying vengeance—further fuelled by her father, Karunanithy’s, killing—for His Royal Highness.
“Our veteran spies have been gathering disturbing news. Some say that the history teacher is backed up by the army; some say she is being backed up by the insurgent group—now a paramilitary unit—PLOTE; another report says that she is being supported by RAW, the external intelligent service of India. It appears that she has been shrewd enough to confuse our spies up until now.”
He stared coldly around him. “Above all, the most worrying news is that she had a female informant in the Tamil Tiger movement itself.” The audience jerked in shock, their mouths hanging open. His Royal Highness just watched his high-ranking officials without reacting. He had already been briefed on the substance of Pottu’s speech. “That informant has already been arrested and interrogation is ongoing to find out whether she has any more informants among us.
“The history teacher received information on Wednesday just before dawn that the Tamil Tigers were visiting Vembady Girls’ College that day. And it seems the bachelorette had the support of the Sri Lanka army too. It is a wonder how she was able to form a rebel group at Vembady Girls’ College and succeed in turning a whole school against His Royal Highness right under the noses of our spy network.”  
Uncle Pottu moved close to His Royal Highness to whisper something and then continued his report. “Her main accomplice and protégée is a Year 12 science student with an impressive academic and sports record. She is expected to enter the medical faculty this year with the highest grades in the island. She is Head Prefect Mehala, the eldest daughter of Ganesh, a rich merchant His Royal Highness was forced to kill when he refused to deliver up his jewels to support the beginning of our cause. We believe that Mehala orchestrated the rebellion with the help of Vice Principal Priya and eventually ordered the students from the auditorium.”
This was news to the Smiling Minister who listened in shock.
“Have you arrested these people?” Nadesh, Chief of Police, demanded. Because Nadesh was His Royal Highness’ maternal uncle, no one corrected him when he spoke out of turn.
“We sent a team to eliminate both of them, but they have escaped so far.”
Nadesh’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “How is it possible to escape from Jaffna?”
 “It looks like the history teacher got help from EPDP paramilitary, and they took both the history teacher and Head Prefect Mehala to Mandaitivu from where they sailed to Rameswaram across the Palk Strait—you know that Rameswaram is a small town on the southern tip of India. Though we got news a bit late, our navy chased them. They would have caught them, had not the Sri Lankan navy interfered. Still, we managed to pick up the chase a bit later with another boat as they were struggling through dangerous waters. We have lost contact at the moment and are trying to reestablish communications with them. We should know more soon.”
The Chief of Police stood to his feet, his fingers finding creases in his bald and wrinkled head. “We must not allow this to go unpunished,” he declared speaking everyone’s thoughts aloud. The man used to work in public service to the Sinhala government’s police force before joining the Tamil Tiger militant group. Among the Jaffna student population, only those not able to find a job entered the police service as constables.  Now, such a man was head of the police service and spokesperson of the Tamil Tigers. He continued, “The CFA has tied our hands and the people no longer fear us as they should. We need to publically execute two or three people to remind those in Jaffna who is in charge. That’ll shut this revolt down. People will bloody well keep their mouths shut then!”
His Royal Highness nodded grimly at that. Uncle Pottu cleared his throat and continued, “The principal, Mrs. Vasntha Velautham, had no hand in the riot. Her failure is of a different sort. It was her job to control the students and in this she failed to do. She must answer for it. However, the Vice Principal, Mrs. Piriya Shan, is somehow involved. We believe it was she that signaled the start of the riot. She hates the Tamil Tigers as well as the rest of the Tamil insurgency groups. Her father and grandfather had been members of Parliament. She’s worried that the political clout of the high class was dwindling away fast. 
“Have we taken any action against her or her family?” The Treasury Secretary asked.
Uncle Pottu grinned wickedly. “Give it twenty-four hours.”
“What about the girl who led the interrogation of the Minister of Political Affairs?” asked the Minister of Industries and Agriculture. He was the only man there shorter than His Royal Highness.
“Her name is Sendhoory Rajaguru from Neervely,” he explained. “Her father, Rajaguru, is an Associate Professor of Economics for the University of Kula Lumpur in Malaysia. In addition she is a niece of Rajani Thiranagama, former head of the faculty of the Department of Anatomy at the University of Jaffna. Rajani was a well known feminist and human rights activist who has criticized our leader in various publications.”
“I remember her,” someone added. “Didn’t we eliminate her?”
“Yes, in 1989. But the seeds of Sendhoory’s rebellion had already been planted. The History Teacher fertilized them and watered them. Sendhoory was the perfect scapegoat for their reprehensible attacks against the Tamil Tigers and His Royal Highness, since she blames us for her aunt’s death.”
“Where is this little whore now?” someone asked.
“She is in hiding. Our Jaffna Political Head, Lieutenant Earless, has been tasked with finding her and bringing her in. We don’t want to kill this girl. We need to use her to send another type of message to the Jaffna people. We’ll put her in a Y-Class bunker.”
“Yes, that’ll do nicely,” quipped Nadesh as Uncle Pottu took his seat.
Everyone’s eyes shifted to His Royal Highness. Many felt he would now pronounce judgment on the poor Minister of Political Affairs. Still sitting, and with an expression of determination lining his face, their great leader said, “My dear brothers, I want to remind you of my philosophy of ruling. It is my right—my duty, even—to know what is best for the Tamil people. I am the government. Citizens should not say what they want. I tell them what they want.” His eyes roamed through the room. “I know what is best, for this is the wisdom given to me. Someone has to rise up and finally free our people. That person is me. This war won’t be won in the political arena. It will be won by the sweat, blood, and tears of our people. But free we will be! We will win this war with bullets, not words!” He nearly came out of his seat at that.
Clearing his throat he sat more solidly and continued, “If I allow people to speak their mind in ignorance, we will give the bigoted Sinhala people an edge in our fight. Their genocidal tendencies will go unchecked. So we must use the tools at our disposal to dislodge this monster! It is fear brought on by brutal tactics that will win this war—free us from tyranny. I don’t like the fact that we sometimes must kill our own. But if we are not united, we will fall. The Tamil people must have one voice. I am that voice. Behind me, we will have victory. No one should destroy that hope. No one!
“We must weed out these dissenters who would throw us back to the Sinhala genocidal rule. This is the only way. If the people are not united behind me, we cannot win. It is an unfortunate reality in which we live. I do not seek their deaths. But if they stand against us, they will be cut down.” He clenched his hands tightly. “They too are martyrs to our cause. Their deaths will unify our people.
“Let me remind you of the stark reality around us. I am forced to live in an underground bunker around the clock, like a prisoner serving a life sentence in Bokambara Prison. They call me a terrorist. This I am not. I am a freedom fighter. Before I took up arms, the Sinhala Prime Minister, Ministers, and Buddhist monks incited the violence in an ethnic cleansing of our people. Thousands were slaughtered. They poured petrol over people and set them afire still alive. They raped our women in front of their families and cut off their breasts. To murder our small children, they threw them into boiling barrels of tar in front of their parents. They ripped the stomachs open of pregnant women and threw their unborn children into flames. They plucked out the eyes of brothers so the last thing they would ever see is the rape and death of their family. They burnt our temples with the priests locked inside. They looted our possessions and then burnt the homes, businesses, factories and cinemas. Thousands more were herded like cattle into refugee camps, stripped of all their belongings—not even able to have a second set of clothes.
“Only when I struck back at the Sinhalese politicians, civilians and Buddhist monks, killing them like they killed us, did they stop. If I hadn’t done what I did, they would continue their ethnic cleansing of all Tamils. I!” He smote his breast with a clenched fist. “I protected my people! After 1977 the Sinhalese never again dared to create ethnic violence against my people. Our Tamil non-violent politicians could not put a stop to the regular gruesome ethnic violence. I did it!” His eyes smoldered as he looked around. “Now the world, including Sri Lanka, has branded me a terrorist! I am not a Hitler! I am not trying to make another Holocaust—I am trying to prevent one! They call me a terrorist? How many millions died at the hands of the USA in Vietnam? How many thousands of women were raped at the hands of the Indian soldiers at Bangladesh? And what of Stalin, Tojo, Pol Pot, and Kim Sung II? Mao Ze-Dong of China alone killed over 47 million people. I could name many more! I tell you I am ten thousand times better than all of them! They killed millions! I don’t have that kind of blood on my hands.
“I am a freedom fighter. I only kill to clear the weeds out of our precious garden. I fight against a genocidal government and its racist forces to establish a Tamil Kingdom for the Tamil people of northeastern Sri Lanka! A land that is historically ours! Even the Indo-Sri Lanka agreement of 1987 agrees to this. I’ve given up everything for this cause. It is my dream to hand an independent Tamil Kingdom to our people…one free of the Sinhala Buddhist’s bigoted atrocities and carnage!”
Everyone in the room roared to their feet applauding with abandon. The applause went on for some time.

When it died down a bit, His Royal Highness continued, “Now I come to the events of yesterday in which we were shamefully disgraced by these so called educated women of Vembady Girls’ College. I order the execution of every person involved with the disgrace of the Minister of Political Affairs. Don’t show pity even on the teenage girls there. Tie her to a post and kill her. Throw her body into the market. Cut off her head and spit it on a pike for all to see. I charge them all as traitors! Never again will the nation forget who we are and what we are fighting for! No one should ever again dare question my rule. Create fear! Create terror! Show no mercy! Offer no apology! If we hesitate, if we ignore this threat, if we apologize, if we fail, we’ll be wiped off the face of the earth. I call upon you to remember your duty—or I will be forced to get rid of you as well! It is for a free Tamil Kingdom that we fight!”

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