Anton Balasingham, formerly known as Anton Stanislaus, the
LTTE’s international spokesman and theoretician, died in London
on December 14 last year.
Few people in Sri Lanka, other than Tiger
sympathizers, mourned his demise as would a similar handful
mourn the death of his chief, LTTE supremo, Velupillai
After all, Balasingham "viewed his role with the
LTTE and the struggle as the advisor and theoretician to
Pirabakaran (sic) and the organization" while both were "wedded
to the core values, goals and techniques of the LTTE" according
to Adele Balasingham in her book ‘The Will to Freedom’ published
in the U.K. 2001.
Adele Balasingham spells the Supremo’s name in
line with the Tamil way. But whichever way she spells it her
consort was always identified with Prabhakaran, the
However, there is one person I know who will, in
all sincerity, plead on behalf of Anton Balasingham. He is my
friend for the past 15 years, L.M.A. Silva, Attorney-at-Law,
On December 17, three days after Balasingham’s
death, he came to my home to use my computer to e-mail his
condolences to Adele Balasingham.
His message read;
"Please accept my sincere condolences on the
death of Stanny. He was one of my dearest friends from the days
gone by and I write to you since there is nobody in S/L with
whom I can share my grief.
For the last one month or so I have been trying
my best to get through to Stanny but it was of no avail. It was
only a few days ago that I approached my good friend who is
sending you this e-mail (which I hope and pray for you to
receive) to somehow get a letter thru’ to Stanny as soon as
possible. He got this contact address only this morning when all
is too late, a fear that I had which was the reason for me
wanting to write to him after all these years.
Once again I must express to you my grief and my
inability to share the burden of my heavy heart with anyone here
who knew Stanny as well as I.
Most sincerely, LMA."
After I attended to his request to send Adele
Balasingham his sympathies and expression of sorrow at the
passing on of his good friend, I poured out a stiff drink for my
grieving friend and a stiffer one for myself, raised my glass
and said "cheers".
Personally, I was not mourning the death of a
Tamil Tiger who condoned terrorism and was the mouth-piece and
acolyte of Prabhakaran. I said so to my friend.
L.M.A. then told me it was not right or fair to
compare the Balasingham he knew with the others whose names
appear as standard bearers for Prabhakaran and the LTTE. He was
qualified to say so since he knew Balasingham intimately for
many years although not in touch with each other for sometime.
According to him, Balasingham was an
intellectual, a philosopher and never ever a destructive and
vicious person. He told me that he was very keen to "put the
record straight" and wanted my assistance to write and edit an
article for publication titled "Who was Anton Balasingham?"
He said he had with him at home some
hand-written letters from Balasingham from the time he went to
England in 1971 to about 1976 which will confirm the true
character of Balasingham.
I, a retired newspaperman, reacted like a war
horse in pasture hearing once again a bugle call to battle when
he uttered the words "hand-written documents and letters". I
poured L.M.A. another dram and lay back and told him to continue
his saga. He told me:
Anton Balasingham, then known as Anton
Stanislaus, and my friend came together in 1966, with both
working for the Information Section of the U.K. High Commission
Their jobs were to monitor the Tamil and Sinhala
newspapers and journals published locally, translate news
stories and articles of interest to the UKHC and also place news
items and articles of propaganda value to British interests.
Balasingham also contributed articles to the Virakesari under
the pseudonym "Brahmagnani". Both of them became very good
friends since they had a mutual interest in the study of human
psychology and psychoanalysis.
Balasingham’s capabilities were highly regarded
by the UKHC and his forcefulness, outgoing individuality and his
good knowledge of English, scored heavily with his employers.
On July 16, 1968, he, a baptized Roman Catholic,
married his secret sweet-heart for many years, a Tamil Methodist
lady named Pearl Rasaratnam, daughter of a former Principal of
Hartley College, Jaffna. The union was blessed in the Methodist
In early 1971 they decided to immigrate to the
UK where he could continue his studies. Further, Pearl was not a
very strong person, prone to fall ill constantly. He wanted her
to get better medical treatment than at home. The UKHC readily
issued the necessary papers and they left the island on August
3, 1971. At about the same time L.M.A. left the services of the
UKHC to practice law in Wariyapola.
L.M.A. told me that he was always puzzled by his
friend’s later interest in terrorism and the LTTE which was
internationally labeled as a blood-thirsty, inhuman and brutal
organization. He always held Balasingham eschewed violent
behavior. He was a born leader who had wonderful powers of
persuasion without resorting to aggression and hostility. He
felt that Balasingham, if he was physically fit, would have had
moderate influence in the peace talks held recently in
Switzerland. His letters, he said, were proof of these
(I held up my hand to halt his narration and
gave him my car to hare back home and bring all the letters from
Balasingham he had in his possession.)
He returned with a folder which contained an
untidy bundle of aerogramme and thin tissue writing paper.
While he poured himself another drink, I glanced
through the letters and realized the almost historical value of
I told L.M.A. that I would hold on to them and
think about helping him with the "appreciation" of his friend,
Stanny. We had another drink and he went back home while I sat
back and read the letters carefully and made notations on them
for later use.
The first, an aerogramme, is dated September 16,
1971, one an half months after Mr. & Mrs. Stanislaus arrived in
He writes from 27, Southwell Road, Camberwell in
London, SE 5 as Anton Stanislaus, signing it as "your loving
"We are both settling down. Pearl has got a good
job in a commercial firm. We have already moved into a small
comfortable flat (a room, kitchen and bath). I am offered a
place at the Institute of Psychotherapy after a tough
competitive admission procedure including five sessions of
psychoanalysis. This is a pre-condition for admission since
every student of psychotherapy is expected to have an insight
into himself to understand others.
As I have been occupied with my course of study,
I didn’t bother too much about work immediately……. Life is not
very hard here as I thought. We are managing quite easily. If
one can pre-occupy himself with learning he will not feel
boredom and loneliness."
I spend much of my time in reading and writing.
I go to parks and libraries and there you come across young
intellectuals, writers, artists with whom I discuss philosophy
for hours. Most of the people here are sensitive, serious and
crazy for knowledge. Sometimes they take me to their homes and
give me drinks and food and thereafter we discuss".
On January 22, 1972 he writes;
"I am now working in the Inner London Executive
Council, a Government Department concerned with the
administration of health service. I attend lectures in the
evenings. I am totally buried in research work and find little
time to rest…"
Later, he waxes eloquent in an undated (probably
April 1972) lyrical letter on tissue- thin paper. It reads:
"It is spring time here. The sun shines until
late in the night. The dark misty gloominess of the English
winter has disappeared.
There is a beautiful park near my flat. It is a
consolation I seek after a calm, quiet, beautiful environment
particularly in this modern mechanised city where there is so
much sound and fury of life. Yet the people do not actually hear
but simply exist and suffer from utter boredom and isolation. In
the park I do enjoy the moments of loneliness when a strange
feeling of freedom lifts you to a different dimension, at least
temporarily, where you can have a deep insight within and
I meet various people, people of different
nationalities, people of different idiosyncrasies; new, new
faces, faces painted with sorrow and despair and they seek after
you to unburden their problems. There are perverts, drug
addicts, neurotics, and people with broken homes, people who
feel lonely and isolated, people who seek after the meaning of
human existence. I have the patience to listen and I am always
feasted with varieties of human experience".
On May 26, 1972 he faces a major hurdle. He
"Misfortune has struck me suddenly. Pearl is in
hospital for the last two weeks…… Urine examination, blood tests
and x-ray revealed that she has a kidney disease. The doctors
have diagnosed the illness as CHRONIC PYELONEPHRITIS …….
I am shocked and depressed beyond words. I have
taken three months leave and (have been) running here and there
like a mad man.
I am in a terrible mess. I have also developed
stomach disorders, maybe due to emotional shock and improper
meals. You know I love her more than anything else and I cannot
stand this calamity…….
Pearl does not know what she is actually
suffering from. If she knows she will be worried and her blood
pressure might go up. I don’t know what will happen to me if
anything happens to her. My life seems to be meaningless without
her. Sorrow has engulfed me as an ocean".
On 26 July 1972 he writes: "Pearl is now at
home. She has to go to hospital every week for urine and blood
tests… She can go on for sometime until further damage affects
the kidneys in which case she has to be treated with a kidney
machine. She is very weak and in bed most of the time…
My life goes on as usual. The suddenness and
unexpectedness of this tragedy made me depressed at the initial
stages but I came over it soon with a realisation that one has
to accept the inescapable reality of life problems"
On ‘6 October 1972 he writes: "Please excuse the
delay. I hope you will understand the nature of my problems. The
pressure of time is very heavy since I have to work, study,
read, write and further more attend to home problems. In
addition to all these I am doing analytical treatment to a few
of my friends have acute neurotic problems. I have to write
volumes if I had to describe in detail the aspects of my life in
London., the nature of my studies my writing and therapeutic
work You know pretty well how passionate I am, how devoted I am,
in the study of the human mind…
On January 20, 1973 he writes: "I am now out of
office work. That means I am free from monotony, routine and
regulation. I am self employed in the sense that I practice
psychotherapy in a small scale out of which I derive a small
income sufficient for our existence…… My main effort is writing
and I am putting my total energy on it.
Writing on March 20, 1973 he refers to the
political situation in the country for the first time. He asks:
"How are things in Ceylon. I hear the Press Council Bill has
been passed. How is the political climate? Will this government
survive for a long time? How is the Tamil political scene?
Please write to me in detail."
There is a gap in correspondence or lost letters
in the collection since the next letter available is dated
December 16, 1974 and received on March 2, 1975 as it had been
mistakenly posted by sea-mail. In it he writes:
"My life is full of restless activity and hard
work. One has to accept the challenges from life without
protest. When confronted with existential challenges one’s inner
resources are awakened to contain them.
Pearl has been through a terrible ordeal. She
had a series of operations including a renal transplantation
which was a failure. It is a miracle that she survived. She has
been very courageous and determined to face all suffering She is
now treated with a kidney machine three times a week Her
prognosis with renal dialysis in not very good".
On 4 March 1975 he writes from a new address,
having moved from SE5 to a "very comfortable London Council
house which is centrally heated" in Blenheim Gardens in London
"The hospital authorities will soon install a
kidney machine at home. Pearl is keeping alright but now and
then she falls sick. Even now she is very weak and unsteady.
I am buried in learning. I have obtained a
Diploma in Abnormal Psychology. If I wish I can practice on a
professional scale. But I am continuing my studies in Social
Psychology with a state grant. You know quite well that I have a
terrible thirst for learning. Wisdom is the true source of
On April 4 1975 he mentions Pearl’s condition
and writes: "Pearl is keeping fine. We have a kidney machine at
home now. We both have learned to operate it at home Three times
a week. Sleepless nights, of course. Yet I write a lot and have
On January 20, 1976 he writes:
With all the pressures of existence, restless
turmoil, tragedies, I am moving ahead in my ideal, working very
hard. You will be proud of my achievements one day.
Pearl is not keeping well at the moment. She
spends much of the time in hospitals and I am with her all the
time. She had a major abdominal operation last week. As a result
she is very weak and still in hospital as I write I don’t know
why she is condemned to suffer so much She sends her love to
you, to your wife and your child.
The last letter, dated 6th March 1976, with his
return name and address still noted as "Anton Stanislaus,
Blenheim Gdns. London S.W. 2", written on an aerogramme and
signed "yours affectionately, Stanny" reads:
"I do lot of writing…. My interest in Buddhism
has many aspects. I wish to investigate how far Buddhist
meditation could contribute to psychotherapy. The other aspect
that fascinates me is the Buddhist materialistic conception of
the world and how such a conception is compatible with Marxist
dialectical materialism. I am also interested in the concept of
Dhamma(sic). The Zen Buddhist view that truth lies beyond the
realm of thought also fascinates me. These are the areas of
Buddhism that I wish to explore. Please take a note of these in
the selection of books".
He continues: "Pearl is keeping fine. Life on a
kidney machine sometimes depresses her. Yet I could keep her
mind peaceful and happy. We have a lot of friends of various
nationalities. They are very friendly and helpful".
After I read that last aerogramme, written
neatly in pen and ink in an almost feminine fist like all the
others, I telephoned L.M.A. and we decided to meet again in the
He continued his saga and told me that Pearl
died in hospital that November, eight months after the last
aerogramme, with her beloved Stanny by her hospital bed. She was
cremated in London and her ashes were brought home by him soon
after. There was a memorial service at the Methodist Church,
Kollupitiya and her ashes were interred at the General Cemetery,
Kanatte. Balasingham went back to England a few days later.
He told me that after Balasingham went back to
the UK, the correspondence between them virtually ceased. He
recalls receiving one letter in mid-1979 saying that Balasingham
was proceeding to India and requesting that they curtail their
correspondence for security reasons as he was hoping to get
involved in Tamil politics.
L.M.A. next met Anton Stanislaus, then
officially known as Dr. Anton Balasingham, in 1989 when he led
the LTTE delegation for talks with the Premadasa Government in
"We met at the Galadari Hotel and he cracked
open a bottle of V.S.O.A, his favorite tipple. We had a few good
laughs. He was still the ebullient and good humoured Stanny,
telling us that he had psychoanalysed the entire government
delegation he was facing at the talks and thought of them as
very poor quality and easily intimidated except for Ranjan
Wijeratne who passed muster," he said.
Balasingham told his friends he even knew the
size of the underwear worn by the government negotiators and to
win at negotiations one must know the character and thinking
process of those sitting on the opposite side of a negotiating
They did not discuss the issues at hand for the
peace talks in progress but L.M.A. felt that whatever his
friend, Stanny, thought or said would be exactly what
Prabhakaran would have thought and said.
I had ended my appreciation of Anton Stanislaus
Balasingham and last week I met L.M.A. and showed him the essay
which I had compiled and sought his approval to have it
published. Both of us sat down and we analysed my dissertation
and came to the following conclusion;
A social psychologist, philosopher,
I feel that I have put the "record straight’ as
to who Anton Balasigham was purely on the essence of what he has
written to his "affectionate friend" and influenced him as he
would anyone reading his thoughtful and erudite letters.
That opinion would be that at the time
Balasingham put pen to paper, writing from 1971 to about 1976,
he is almost maniacal in his quest for knowledge, sincere to a
close circle of friends he left behind at home, straight as a
die and intolerant of subterfuge. He is a struggling and
penurious emigrant in London studying psychology and
psychoanalysis, leaving his ailing, bed-ridden wife only to
attend lectures on his study subjects. He also gives the
impression that he harboured Utopian dreams and was a hopeless
romantic. Tigers, the LTTE and Prabhakaran are furthest from his
Balasingham was in love with his wife to the
very end and her untimely demise and his alliance with Adele Ann
Wilby (who helped nurse his sick wife) soon after Pearl’s death
seems pivotal in his transformation to collaborate with
Prabhakaran who, according to Adele’s book "The Will to Freedom"
invited them both to meet him in Chennai in 1979. That link was
established then and remained until his death although he is
quoted unofficially as saying that he was a moderate compared to
the extremists in the movement.
An egocentric, hypocritical, cunning adventurer
His letters to his "affectionate friend" were a
facade and he pretended that he was a sensitive scholar and an
idealistic husband, kind and caring to his wife.
He was, in fact, an adventurer, a "cowboy", who
had found his niche secretly in an organisation to which he was
willing to give his ideological and political support for murder
and terror campaign with the same passion and fanaticism he gave
his quest for learning and studies. It was the mind of a trained
psychologist who got the killings of his own people done by less
ignorant men and justified them as lessons in ideology.
He was clever enough to hide his real character
from his wife, Pearl, a devout Methodist and this stance
hardened and emerged from the closet after her death when he
formed an alliance with Adele Wilby.
He then became a willing acolyte of Prabhakaran
whom he psychoanalysed and found that he could provide himself a
comfortable ‘piggy back’ ride to adventures which satisfied his
ego and earned himself and his companion, Adele, a flourishing
livelihood and moments of fame in history.
I now pass the ball to better and more competent
Tiger Watchers who have not been privy to his letters to an
"affectionate friend" to size and comment on Anton Stanislaus
Over to you: Dayan Jayatillke, D.B.S Jeyaraja,
Jehan Perera, H.L.D. Mahindapala, Nalin de Silva, Nalin Swaris,
Susantha Goonetilleke, et al.