Speaking to Gotabaya-II: Listening in on KP’s Chats with Prabhakaran’s ‘Man Friday’

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph– https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/gotabaya-rajapaksa-clarifies-listening-in-on-kps-chats-with-prabhakarans-man-friday

The government of Sri Lanka’s conduct of Eelam IV from 2006-09 was not without its inefficiencies, especially on the propaganda front. But no less a person than retired SAS officer JT Holmes has stated clearly that the SL Army faced “an entirely unique situation” and took tactical options that were “stark,” but “justifiable and proportionate” in those circumstances. While I aware of the important role performed by the SL Air Force and SL Navy in support of the war effort, and the value of UAV’s in the battlefield situation, Gotabaya Rajapaksa sprang a surprise when, more or less in passing, he indicated that the SL military had listened in on the radio-tel communications between Selvarāsa Pathmanathan (KP to the world) and the LTTE command in Sri Lanka.

VP KP marriage gp KP next to Prabha & Madhivadhani as bestman at the latter’s wedding in Tamilnadu,circa 1984

KP and BalaKP with Prabha, Anton and Sorna in halcyon days in Mullaitivu, circa 2001

As most in the know do know, Velupillai Pirapāharan never spoke directly on the phone to even the most trusted confidantes abroad. In 2008/09 I gather that the trusted individual at the local end of the phone (implicitly beside Pirapāharan) was Velu, one of his bodyguards. So, the critical conversation with KP at the end of December 2008 when Kilinochchi was about to fall into GSL hands and the final chat in even more dire circumstances in May 2009 were between KP in Kuala Lumpur and Velu at the LTTE command hide-out.

KP in DBS KP as presented in Jeyaraj’s invaluable article

KP has provided extended details to David Jeyaraj on the content of these exchanges. I was quite familiar with that information because of my recent work on an article that is entitled “Saving Talaivar Pirapāharan” (not published yet). I was therefore stunned when Gotabaya Rajapaksa indicated that the Sri Lankan military forces had monitored these exchanges. Some of his details went beyond the data in KP’s account.

When Pirapāharan had sought KP’s help in December, the latter had been quite firm in specifying the conditions under which he would proceed to arrange some sort of international rescue for Pirapāharan and his team. First, Pirapāharan had to remove the “young bagman” [namely Castro] who was in charge of international logistics. Secondly, he, Pirapāharan, had to provide him with a hard copy document which authorized KP to take over the international directorship of the LTTE.

Pirapāharan had agreed. This signed document had been transmitted to KP through the “good offices” of one of the international NGOS which had an office in Kilinochchi.[1]

The second of these chats between the two leaders of the LTTE, one the talaivar and the other his best-man at his marital rites way back in 1984 or so, was in May when total defeat and death was staring the LTTE in the face.

During this conversation KP told Velu: “Now [in this situation] you can get out [meaning in my surmise “let me help you all to get out of your predicament”].

Whereupon Charles Anthony had seized the phone from Velu and told KP: “No! No! Send us some missiles. We can break out and continue the struggle!”

When some calm had been restored, KP had quietly told Velu: “That foolish son ….”

Gotabaya did not elaborate further. The message was clear and I turned to other issues in our free-flowing haphazard conversation.

VP dead -sangam.org SL Army soldiers crowd round stretcher bearing Pirapahran’s body, 19th May 2009 –Pic from sangam.org

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Holmes, Maj-Genl John 2015 “Expert Military Report,” 28 March 2015, Annex I of Report on the Second Mandate of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Complaints of Abductions and Disappearances [i.e. Paranagama Report], August 2015, pp. 243-44

Jeyaraj, D. B. S. 2011 “KP’ Speaks Out. An Interview with Former Tiger Chief, Vavuniya: NERDO…. Also in http://dbsjeyaraj.com/dbsj/archives/1607

Roberts, Michael 2015 “The Realities of Eelam War IV,” 27 October 2015, https://thuppahis.com/2015/10/27/the-realities-of-eelam-war-iv/

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Essays, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014

Roberts, Michael 2014 Tamil Person and State. Pictorial, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2014


[1] Hmm! Hhhhmmm!


Filed under accountability, authoritarian regimes, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, life stories, LTTE, martyrdom, military strategy, Paranagama Report, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, Rajapaksa regime, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, war reportage, world events & processes

7 responses to “Speaking to Gotabaya-II: Listening in on KP’s Chats with Prabhakaran’s ‘Man Friday’

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