Ten questions for Velupillai Prabhakaran

A former editor asked us yesterday for reasons why Velupillai Prabhakaran, the terror supremo,was able to attract an estimated one to two hundred international journalists to his jungle hideout in the Wanni for a press conference, whereas Sri Lankan leaders when in places such as London have to hire highly paid public relations companies to arrange interviews for them on prime time talks shows. Our reply was not very flattering of the LTTE leader: Murderous man-eaters in jungles who have devoured thousands of humans attract international journalists much more than tamed lions at a London zoo.

Perhaps, there may be other reasons. The journalists may be flocking in to watch a miracle. They want to see a frontline terrorist who has, wittingly or unwittingly, been responsible for the deaths of about 65,000 people, metamorphosing into a ‘born again’ democratic politician. Fellow travellers of Prabhakaran and those naive human rights activists in Colombo may call us dirty names — as they usually do — and say that the freedom fighter who was forced to take to arms to liberate his people is now willing to talk peace to alleviate the suffering of his people. And this is the reason for this worldwide interest.

Media conferences, however, do not often yield the expected results, particularly when the numbers involved are too great. Nonetheless, the credibility of the LTTE and its leader can improve or suffer with this outing with the media.

Since very pertinent issues may not be possible to be taken up — as it often happens at media conferences of this kind — The Island wishes to pose some very relevant questions to Velupillai Prabhakaran.

Q: You have consistently maintained that the LTTE is a liberation organisation and denied the ‘terrorist’ appellation. Yet, you have been proscribed as a foreign terrorist organisation by India, United States, Canada, Britain and Australia. What are the reasons for this to happen?

Q: You want the proscription of the LTTE as a terrorist organisation lifted before negotiations with the Sri Lanka government begin. Is there any specific reasons or recent developments other than the Ceasefire Agreement why the Sri Lanka government should accede to your demand?

Q: Has not the LTTE abducted around 2000 children, since the Ceasefire was agreed upon on December 25 last year to be conscripted into the LTTE cadres? Isn’t abduction a violation of the Ceasefire Agreement? Even on Monday four children escaped from a LTTE camp and sought refuge with the army at Trincomalee. Isn’t this a proof of LTTE abducting children? Amnesty International recently named 18 children who were abducted by the LTTE. Do you deny these accusations?

Q: The government of Ranil Wiclremasinghe has acceded to most of your requests and is attempting to bring about peace and understanding between the two communties. Does your Pongu Tamil demonstations help in building up such goodwill or are creating animosity between the two communities? Hasn’t thousands of people been forced to participate in these dmonstrations under dire threats issued by the LTTE? Wasn’t schools, government offices, shops and other establishments forced to close on the days of these demonstrations by the LTTE issuing threats of reprisals?

Q: Muslims in the east have complained of harassment and extortion and you have been compelled to apologise to them. Doesn’t this indicate that you have been exploiting the Ceasefire Agreement?

Q: The LTTE has said that they are prepared to drop the demand for a separate state, but will agree to a ‘viable alternative’. You have been saying this even during talks with President Premadasa. What in brief is your ‘viable alternative’? Is it a confederation of two states?

Q : Are you abiding by the five Thimpu demands that have been rejected outright bythe PA and the UNP? If so, is there any purpose of negotiations?

Q: Do you take responsibility for the assassinations of President R. Premadasa, former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, attempted assassination of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and assassinations of Messrs Ranjan Wijeratne, Lalith Athulathmudali, Gamini Dissanayake and those who were killed along with Mr. Dissanayake?

Q: Why did you order the killing of around 700 policemen who surrendered to the LTTE on the orders of President Premadasa? Wasn’t this against all accepted norms of armed conflict?

Q: Did you not say on many occasions to your followers: Do not hesitate to kill me if I deviate from the path of the creation of the state of Eelam. Aren’t you now deviating or pretending to deviate from your prime objective? In these circumstances can Sri Lankans trust you?

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