An amazing interview with key former Tamil Tiger leader Thambiaiya Selvarasa Pathmanathan, alias “KP”. He’s currently under house arrest and monitored by the Sri Lankan regime. Some of this interview is filled with clearly scripted comments about the kindness of Colombo but despite this KP talks about the inside workings of the Tigers. The last months of the 2009 battle, too:
Q: Did you not try to save the [Tamils] civilians by getting the LTTE to release them [during the fierce months of fighting in 2008 and 2009]?
A: I did try at the start.
There was even an offer by the Americans to transport them by sea to Trincomalee. But the LTTE hierarchy was not agreeable. This attitude was most unfortunate and may appear as inhuman. I am not trying to condone or justify this action but when I reflect upon the past I think the LTTE leadership also had no choice. If they released the people first, then only the tigers would be left there. Thereafter all of them could have been wiped out.
I had a tentative plan with international endorsement. The LTTE was to lay down arms by hoarding them in specific locations. The words used were “lock –off”. That is arms particularly heavy weapons were to be locked off in specific places. They were to be handed over to representatives of the UN. Afterwards there was to be a cessation of hostilities in which the people were to be kept in specific “no firing zones”. Negotiations were to be conducted between the Govt and LTTE with Norwegian facilitation.
Tentatively about 25 to 50 top leaders with their families were to be transported to a foreign country if necessary.The middle level leaders and cadres were to be detained, charged in courts and given relatively minor sentences. The low level junior cadres were to be given a general amnesty.
The scheme was to endorsed by the west including Norway, EU and the USA. The Americans were ready to send their naval fleet in to do evacuation if necessary
Q: Was the Sri Lankan government agreeable
A: I don’t think there was any official intimation to Colombo but maybe they were sounded out informally. But the plan was never concretised because the main man concerned, Prabhakaran rejected it.
I had written an outline of the plan and sent it to him for approval. If he said “Proceed” I would have concretised it and started work on implementing it. But when I faxed the details in a 16 page memorandum he rejected the 16 pages in just three words “Ithai Etrukkolla Mudiyathu” (This is unacceptable)So I had to drop it
Q: Even if Prabhakaran had agreed to it do you think the Govt would have complied given the fact that the armed forces were on the verge of annihilating the LTTE?
A: I don’t know. Most probably the Govt may not have obliged because it was on the verge of victory and would not have wanted to be deprived of it. But the point is that it was never concretised and submitted to the Govt. Given the situation the LTTE was in, Prabhakaran should have taken it.
Q: Why did Prabhakaran reject it then?
A; I don’t know I can only guess.It is too painful to dwell on it because he is no more and I will always be thinking “why didn’t he accept this opportunity”?