Fire-Storm Images, IV: Tamil Commitment to Their Cause

A road junction memorial for Annai Poopathi in Batticaloa District, Annai Poopathi, a mother of ten  children and aged 55, fasted unto death in protest against the IPKF presence in Sri Lanka, breathing her last on 19th April 1988.  –thereby backing Thileepan’s fast-unto-death earlier in Jaffna in 1987. A permanent memorial in her homage was also constructed at Kiran … but the tsunami  destroyed it. Her memory is evoked to this day.  Her sacrifice is remembered and hallowed today among Tamils in many lands –Germany, Netherlands, UK et  cetera –see

 Annai Poopathi hallowed in Denmark  … and in Batticaloa on 19 April 2017

 Posted by Apr 19, 2017    

Black Tigers marching down street at Kilinochchi. The Black Tigers were “the soul of the LTTE” (words of a Sri Lankan Army officer). They did not necessarily function as substantial units. They also provided the assassins on special projects such as the elimination of political leaders via deep penetration actions of the secret service type. Nor must one forget that that a substantial proportion of the LTTE’s suicide attacks took place at sea and that the sL Navy lost a significaant number of Dvoras as a result. This image and that below of Ponnadurai Sivakumaran are among the wide range of pictorial illustrations of both LTTE and GSL activity in TAMIL PERSON AND STATE – PICTORIAL  (see below for details)

An artwork poster linking Sivakumaran with the Tamil opposition leader in the early 197os (given to me by the Tamil Information Centre in London). Ponnadurai Sivakumaran was not a member of the TNT (precursor of the LTTE) when he committed suicide by swallowing cyanide after a botched assassination effort which led to him being identified and cornered by a police party.  Hie funeral at his natal village of Urumpirai drew an enormous crowd and several Federal Party politicians were assaulted in demeaning manner. The popular enthusiasm for his example probably induced Pirapaharan to adopt the use of the cyanide capsule as a standard tool of self-defence against capture and a vow to commit one self to this principle for all recruits to the LTTE’s fighting forces — repeat: all troops not just the Black Tigers. 

We see here some images of civilians in Thamililam receiving basic military training during the ceasefire period 2004-06. They constituted what was known as the Makkal Padai –– formed in 2004 (information from M. Sarvananthan). While the older women seen in one picture may not seem to be the ideal type of auxiliary troops, these pictures and the range of shots in Tamil web sites (see others in Tamil Person an State. Pictorial) suggest that the engagement in such training was not regarded as an onerous imposition. As Muralidhar Reddy insisted in chats with me, till late 2008 the Tamil civilian population had no reason to invest any faith in the Sri Lankan governments of the past or present. It was not till about January 2009 that some lost faith in the LTTE as the latter’s impositions became more draconian (an  assessment supported independently by a Tamil activist who was among the corralled peoples till he and his family escaped by sea in late April). However, I stress that perhaps 70-90,000 remained deeply attached to the LTTE and stood by them to the end at the southern stub of the Last Redoubt even in May 2009.

Civilians moving southwards after the SL Army penetrated the Last RedoubtPics from TamilNet, 1 May 2009 

Graphic Map of the War Theatre 7th May 2009Daily Mirror


The background of  a civilian body that included individuals with some military skills and, more vitally the fact that many Tiger cadre did not wear identifiable fatigues complicates the story of the last eight months of the war when the LTTE deployed its corralled çivilian population as (I) a defensive formation of so many sandbags and (II) a strategic ploy to induce international intervention to aver a “humanitarian”catastrophe”. For advancing troops to identify civilians would have been very difficult and virtually impossible at night.

Note these pictures extracted from an LTTE video  clip in…. and the arguments mounted so succinctly by “Mango” (a Sri Lankan Brit  who has to protect his identity and job).

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This set of books is the latest anthology from Michael Roberts that caters to the reading public in Lanka and elsewhere by collecting his essaying interventions in the public realm, usually on web, within one cover. These articles were written between 2009 and 2012. Two long articles, however, are new products drafted in 2012. One explores the significance of a Karaiyar caste coterie within the LTTE, while clarifying the ideological currents that inspired their opposition to the Sinhala-dominated state. The other clarifies the circumstances of the Tamil peoples within the de facto to state of Thamilīlam from 2002 onwards and especially within the crucible of war in “the Vanni Pocket” in 2009 and thence to the detention centres at Mänik Farm.

This first volume was ready in mid-April 2013. The visual images serving this work took longer to prepare and in the course of its journey fresh developments induced Roberts to pen two essays in late 2013 and early 2014 which comment critically on the pursuits of the Western states and media as well as various humanitarian agencies for their manipulation of facts and a refusal to address existing literature – a refusal that brings their ethics into question. Among the Appendices in TPS: Pictorial is one that reproduces in full the original manifesto of the ITAK or “Federal Freedom Party”.

August 2014

Vijitha Yapa Publications

TPS: ESSAYS = ISBN 978-955-665-230-7 ….. 423 pages

TPS: PICTORIAL = ISBN 978-955-665-231-4 …. 293 pages incl. of 164 pp of images

For website and email orders, SEE


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Filed under cultural transmission, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, LTTE, martyrdom, military strategy, modernity & modernization, politIcal discourse, power politics, prabhakaran, Rajapaksa regime, Saivism, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, suicide bombing, Tamil civilians, Tamil migration, tamil refugees, Tamil Tiger fighters, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, trauma, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, war reportage, zealotry

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