Sasikumar- From D-News
Sarachandran in Thamililam during visit –Pic courtesy of National Post
Two Tamil youths, Kumaravel Sasikumar and Gunasingham Visaban who underwent immense suffering due to LTTE atrocities, in an exclusive interview, praised President Mahinda Rajapaksa for his exemplary leadership in completely eradicating LTTE terrorism from our motherland. They also said that if the President had not given directions to the Armed Forces to end this 30-year-old terrorist war despite mounting foreign pressure, Sri Lanka would have continued to be in turmoil even today.
Ex-LTTE cadres, 21-year-old Kumaravel Sasikumar was born in Homagama. Thereafter his parents who are from Vavuniya settled in the Vanni area. Sasikumar said that in 2006 when the A9 road was completely closed down due to mounting LTTE violence, he was trapped in Visvamadu. During this period, the LTTE started to replenish its depleting cadres by forcefully dragging innocent boys and girls, ignoring their unwillingness to join the LTTE cadres.
He said that due to the protest made by young person’s like him, they were mercilessly assaulted and thereafter given military training. Once the training was over they were forcibly sent to the frontline to fight the Sri Lankan army. “Senior LTTE cadres sent us to the frontline while they were safe in their respective camps. Due to this selfishness of the senior cadres many young fighters sacrificed their lives,” he said.
At the Mannar Mulankavil front he and several young fighters were seriously injured. Thereafter he was hospitalized in Kilinochchi. Sasikumar said that due to his inability to fight, the senior LTTE cadres kept him under detention. Thereafter during the last stages of the war, he ran away from the LTTE captivity, joined the civilians and went to the government controlled area and surrendered to the army. Since he was under 18 years he was treated kindly and was rehabilitated by the army.
Sasikumar further said that today due to the compassion shown by our President Mahinda Rajapaksa he and several other rehabilitated LTTE cardres are enjoying the freedom to live in Sri Lanka. “I also wish to thank the Defence Secretary and Armed Forces for making our future life happy.” Another ex-LTTEer Gunasingham Visaban was also interviewed.
“Reject violence,” jailed Tiger arms broker urges —Stewart Bell in National Post, 29 Sept 2011
A former Canadian Tamil activist who was caught brokering a $1-million arms deal for a Sri Lankan rebel group five years ago has written an open letter urging youths not to repeat his mistakes. Writing from prison in New York, Sathajhan Sarachandran acknowledged for the first time the Tamil youth organization he once ran in Toronto was “part of the LTTE,” the separatist rebels also known as the Tamil Tigers.
But the 31-year-old software engineer blamed “so-called” leaders of the Tamil community whom he said misled him, fuelled his anger and hatred, promoted violence and silenced advocates of non-violence.“I only ask that you be vigilant of these people. I ask that none of you choose a path where violence is encouraged. Please don’t be a catalyst for promoting any form of violence or hate,” he wrote in the two-page letter.
The jailhouse letter, dated Aug. 9, was posted this week on the website of Mercy for Tamil Prisoners, a Markham, Ont.-based non-profit founded by families of prisoners detained on charges related to Sri Lanka’s civil war.
The war ended in 2009 after government forces defeated the rebels, but Sri Lanka remains a hot topic in Canada, home to one of the world’s largest populations of ethnic Tamils, many of whom fled the war. The letter encourages them to abandon the Tamil rebels. “LTTE is no more. We must accept the fact and move on with the reality. I ask that all you brothers and sister to refrain from LTTE ideology,” Sarachandran wrote. “As Tamils we must reject violence and embrace peace. … I beg you not to get trapped in the extremist ideologies.”
The letter does not indicate why, five years after his arrest, he decided to come out against violence. Mercy for Tamil Prisoners said it was working with lawyers and officials in Canada, the United States and Sri Lanka “to exercise any potential treaty transfers” available to prisoners detained over wartime conduct. “It’s a general letter addressed to the Tamil people of Toronto,” said Sarachandran Shunmugan, a spokesman for Mercy for Tamil Prisoners and the letter writer’s father. He said it was written with the help of his son’s New York lawyer, Lee Ginsberg. “He is pleading with Tamil youths not to follow paths that suggest violence and to help the people whom are affected by this war.”
Sarachandran was Toronto chapter president of the Tamil Youth Organization from 2003 to 2005. He visited Sri Lanka twice and was photographed at an LTTE camp wielding a machine gun. In 2006, he was arrested in Long Island, N.Y., while he and two other Canadians were trying to buy shoulder-launched missiles and AK-47 assault rifles for the Tigers. All pleaded guilty to terrorism and conspiracy. Sarachandran was sentenced to 26 years in prison. Two more Canadians were arrested inTorontoin a related investigation and are awaiting extradition. A sixth goes on trial in November.
“For the past five years, I along with other fellow youths am serving sentences inNew York. To add to the suffering, my family has been banned from visiting us under certain sections of the law,” Sarachandran wrote. “I have not seen my parents for the past three years or any members of my family. I have had no visitor at all for the past three years. I write to you to explain my suffering for the path I had chosen. I regret many of my past activities. Meetings after meetings, campaign after campaign, all injecting hate into me and other fellow students.”
David Poopalapillai, a Canadian Tamil Congress spokesman, said while Sarachandran and his associates face another two decades of imprisonment in the U.S., actual rebel fighters who took up arms and fought in the war have already been set free. He said the era of violence was over and he hoped the letter would send the right message to youths. “It’s an undeniable fact: Some of the elements inCanadaand outsideCanadapushed these people into this present life. I think he is targeting that element,” he said.
The Tamil Tigers fought a lengthy war for independence forSri Lanka’s Tamil minority. Its tactics included suicide bombings, attacks on civilians and assassinations of senior politicians. The LTTE, which had a major fundraising operation in Toronto and Montreal, was added to Canada’s list of banned terrorist organizations in 2006.
Since the war ended, several international agencies have alleged both sides committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the final months of the conflict. A panel appointed by Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, has called for an independent investigation. The Sri Lankan government has denied the allegations and refused to co-operate with investigators. Stephen Harper, the Prime Minister, recently supported the UN call for an international probe, and said he would boycott next year’s Commonwealth summit inSri Lankaunless the country made progress on human rights.
A documentary film by Britain’s Channel 4,Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields, which alleges government forces shelled hospitals and committed extrajudicial executions, was to be screened for MPs in Ottawa on Wednesday.
Facsimile of Sarachandran’s Letter as reproduced in the Sunday Observer, 2 oct. 2011
Manjula Fernando: “Ex-LTTEer in Canada urges Tamil youth to shun Tiger ideology,” Sunday Observer, 2 Oct. 2011
A 31-year-old LTTE arms procurer, a Tamil Canadian who is serving a 25 year old jail term in theUSfor trying to procure missiles says he repents his days with the LTTE and urges Tamil youth not to fall prey to LTTE brainwashing tactics, to which he himself fell victim.
Sathajhan Sarachandran, a former leader of the Tamil Youth Organisation writing a letter from his prison cell says, the “so called Tamil community leaders misled him, fuelled his anger and hatred, promoted violence and silenced advocates of non-violence,”Canada’s National Post reported.
The software engineer was arrested in a joint sting operation by Canadian law enforcement authorities and the FBI in 2006. Along with him, an engineering student who worked for a top international software company, Suresh Sriskandarajah and another was also arrested while trying to negotiate a deal to buy Russian made surface-to-air missiles, missile launchers and AK-47 rifles with an FBI agent posing as a weapons dealer.
“As Tamils we must reject violence and embrace peace. I beg you not to get trapped in the extremist ideologies,” he wrote in the letter dated August 9, that was posted last week on the website, Mercy for Tamil Prisoners, hosted by a non-profit founded by families of prisoners detained on charges related to terrorism, the newspaper reported.
Independent observers say except the vociferous few in the west, most Tamils are moving towards reconciliation. Those Tamils active overseas trying to disrupt the peace were the key propagandists and financiers of the LTTE.
Diplomatic sources said, rather than appeasing the vociferous few that tow the LTTE line, the Canadian politicians should assist the reconciliation process inSri Lanka. He said Canadian MP Patrick Brown’s recent statement demonstrates his lack of understanding of the ground reality and seems to be driven by the LTTE disinformation campaign. “Trying to appease the LTTE will lead to a revival of the LTTE inCanada,” he stressed adding that the largest support base of this brutal terrorist group is concentrated inCanada.
The letter by the LTTE prisoner is the first evidence linking the LTTE and the TYO, the most active youth organisation in Europe andNorth America. It is said that TYO is one of the key LTTE fronts under which many activities take place inCanadaand theUK. It is allegedly headed by the LTTE de facto head Nediyawan who has neither renounced violence nor LTTE terrorist tactics. Based inNorwayhe is heading the criminal wing of the LTTE international network, commanding credit card scams, human smuggling and money laundering, etc.
The non-profit organization which hosted the letter by Sarachandran told the National Post, it was working with lawyers and officials inCanada, theUS andSri Lanka to exercise any potential treaty transfers” available to prisoners detained over war time conduct. Sri Lanka has adopted a humane approach to 11,500 ex-LTTE cadres arrested after the conflict ended. Over 10,000 have already been rehabilitated and released as of today.
We carry a section of the letter sent by Sarathchandran