Diaspora’s bid to mislead us will not succeed Says S. P. Thamilselvan’s wife
The widow of the late LTTE political wing leader S. P. Thamilselvan, Shashirekha in an exclusive interview with The Nation goes back to her youth, learning Bharata Natyam, becoming a dancing teacher, meeting with the LTTE leader Prabhakaran and Thamilselvan. She recounts her experiences in the terrorist group-controlled north including the fate that befell her. The unknown agonies she suffered after the death of her husband and the plight all Tamil people fell into under the LTTE and the warning that the Tamil diaspora is trying to drag the Tamil people into danger and destruction are told by her in this candid interview.
Following are the highlights of the interview:
Question: Could you recount the experiences of your childhood and early youth?
I was born at Bambalapitiya, Colombo and our family had seven members including our parents. My father had a shop opposite the Majestic City shopping mall. My mother was a housewife. I studied at St.Anthony’s Girls School up to grade three.
Q: Why did you leave school at that grade?
We left Colombo after the 1983 Black July and went to live in Chullipuram, Jaffna.
Q: Did your family leave Colombo for fear as you were victims of violence of the Black July?
Mobs set fire to our shop during that time and we went back to Jaffna out of fear.
Q: After going back to Jaffna did you go back to school?
I was admitted to Vaddukoddai Vidyalaya where I studied up to the GCE Ordinary Level.
Q: Why didn’t you continue your studies after the GCE Ordinary Level?
At school I became interested in dancing. I studied for dancing examinations and passed the level four exam. I became a dancing teacher but my parents had decided to return to Colombo by that time. My parents deciding to return to Colombo was one of the reasons that prevented me from going up for higher education. When they returned to Colombo I stayed back at Nallur. While I was conducting dancing classes I also took part in the public performances organised by the LTTE at that time.
Q: What made you stay back in Jaffna while your parents returned to Colombo?
It was about the year 1990 and my desire for higher education was lost. All I wanted to do was to further my career in dancing and achieve a high position in dancing. At the same time I was becoming sympathetic towards the LTTE. Therefore I decided to remain and refused to join my parents. My parents became very angry with me and they came to Colombo, angered over my decision.
Q: Did you continue to have relations with your parents after they came back to Colombo?
No. For a long period I did not have any relations with my family. I stayed with a friend of mine Revathi at Nallur. She was also a dancing teacher. I did Bharatha Natyam.
Q: How did you come to join the LTTE?
No. At the beginning I had not joined the LTTE. But when they invited me to perform in their public shows I accepted such invitations. During that time the area was under the control of the LTTE. When the Army recaptured Jaffna I went to the Vanni. Till I got married I had taken part in all the public shows put on by the LTTE.
Q: Why did you follow the LTTE into the Vanni. You could have remained in the area recaptured by the army?
Since I had lived in an area controlled by the LTTE I went to all the other areas that they controlled. On the other hand they sent me a number of invitations to take part in the public performances as a dancer.
Q: Did the LTTE pay you well for dancing in their public shows?
At that time I was paid three or four thousand rupees for each show and at that time I had enough money. Sometimes they presented clothes or dresses but there were times when I was not paid anything.
Q: It appears that you were a highly skilled dancer but it is difficult to understand how you came to be associated with a killer terrorist group. Any comment?
Since I had been living in an area under the control of the LTTE I did not feel very much to go to an area controlled by the army. On the other hand it was necessary for anyone living in a LTTE controlled area to obtain a permit to enter an area under the army and that was difficult. These were the reasons that made me remain in LTTE controlled areas.
Q: From when were you, Shashirekha, came to be known Isaichelvi?
After I got married to Thamilselvan.
Q: How did you come to know Thamilselvan?
I met him at a public performance and later the LTTE’s Anton Balasingham brought the proposal to marry Thamilchelvan.
Q: By that time he had become a physically disabled person?
Though he was disabled he had an artificial leg.
Q: What are your reminiscences of marriage to Thamilselvan?
Our marriage took place suddenly. Within a month after Balasingham brought the marriage proposal we were married. Prabhakaran and his wife Madivadini acted as the parents of Thamilselvan. Anton Balasingham and Adele acted as my parents. At that time Balasingham’s kidney ailment had turned severe and he needed to go abroad for treatment. Therefore he insisted that the marriage should take place soon. Even Thamilselvan’s family was not aware that we were getting married. When his mother who was living abroad had asked why she was not informed earlier Thamilselvan had said that he too was made aware only four days before the marriage.
Q: Where did the marriage take place?
It was at Pudukudirippu in the house Anton Balasingham was living. The members of Prabhakaran’s family including the parents of his wife Madivadini, Karuna Amman and many others were present. Nadesan was the registrar of the marriage.
Q: Did Prabhakaran and others in the LTTE have a frame of mind to take part or view public performances like dancing shows?
They used to come to see such shows.
Q: After your marriage did the LTTE help you?
We were given a house to live in but there was no special security though my husband had four security men accompanying him. When he came back home they came to leave him and when he went out they accompanied him.
Q: What sort of person was Thamilselvan?
He was a calm person with whom anything could be discussed. He told me to continue my dancing career and said I should be able to stand on my own.
Q: What sort of relations did you have with the wives of other LTTE leaders?
There was nothing special about them. We only met at functions and public events. Soosai’s family was good but the families of other leaders cannot be described as ones with an understanding. But Prabhakaran’s family had a very close association with us.
Q: Weren’t you aware that the families of leaders lived in luxury? Did your family also enjoy such luxuries?
We were given houses by the organisation. When I was pregnant with our first child we were given a two-roomed house at Pudukudirippu but it was not a luxurious dwelling.
Q: You said you came from a high caste family in the north and Thamilselvan from the barber caste. Was that not a problem for your marriage?
I was aware that he came from that caste but I did not consider that a problem.
Q: When your parents became aware of your marriage what was their reaction?
They got afraid. At that time I was working for Save the Children Fund but no one was aware that I was Thamilselvan’s wife. I sent a message to my mother through another person from my village who too was working for Save the Children Fund. I asked him to give the message about my marriage when he came to Colombo.
Q: What are your brothers and sisters who had had higher education in the universities of the south doing now?
They are living abroad. But my parents are now living with me.
Q: Do you remember that Thamilselvan went abroad to take part in peace talks several times. When he came back did he discuss things that happened at such talks?
He was never in the habit of discussing anything in connection with the activities of the organization. Sometimes when leaders of the LTTE were away from home for long their wives wrote letters to Prabhakaran complaining about their long absence but I never did such things.
Q: There was a rumour that Thamilselvan once worked as a barber at Kotahena. Is that true?
No he never worked in Colombo as a barber because he had joined the LTTE when he was only 16. He was the youngest child of the family, the mother’s pet. Others of his family were dark complexioned but he was fair complexioned and he had never been employed anywhere.
Q: How did you hear about the death of Thamilselvan and what happened afterwards?
When the news reached us that he was killed I was not taken to the place where the tragedy occurred. Though the LTTE sent several persons there they did not tell me anything about it on their return. Some of those who went there did not come back but about 9.30 in the night of that day one LTTE cadre who came to see us told me that my husband had died. He said he did not see his remains but the bunker was completely destroyed. His remains were later taken to his brother’s house in Kilinochchi. I reached the house around 11 a.m. and I could not stop crying but I called him my father when I was crying as I did not know what the LTTE had told the media about my husband’s death.
Q: What was Prabhakaran’s emotion when he came to pay his last respects to Thamilselvan?
He was visibly moved and he was not in a frame of mind to speak to us. His face betrayed his emotions as he had implicit trust in my husband.
Q: After the demise of your husband did the LTTE or any leader of the LTTE see to the welfare or feelings of your family?
No one came to see us. One month after the death of my husband I requested one of the leaders of the LTTE women’s wing Rekha to send our family including my parents to India and she said LTTE leader Prabharkaran did not agree to accede to our request. She said the leader has said it could be done only after one year. Then in desperation I requested that we be allowed to go to army controlled area but I was told that the leadership would inform me of their decision in a few days. But the LTTE neglected me and my children and after the death of my husband the leaders of the LTTE became disunited.
Q: Do you say that your family was kept in the area controlled under compulsion?
Yes, that is true. But I was aware that the end of the LTTE was almost certain. By May 2009 the LTTE did not tell our people that they were facing defeat and most of the leaders who were on the same status as my husband including Prabhakaran’s son Charles Anthony were killed.
Q: How did you really come into the army controlled area at the final phase of the armed conflict?
When I was in a corner crying one young man came and asked me whether I was the widow of Thamilselvan and he volunteered to escort me to the army controlled area. Since firing shells were going on at the time I with my children got into a bunker in the LTTE area with no one to look after us for more than three hours and I saw that all Tamil civilians were making their way to the army controlled area but it was not easy as both sides were still fighting with light and heavy guns. But after some time we started fleeing from the LTTE controlled area into the army controlled area and all of us were in a queue to reach safety.
Q: When you finally reached the army controlled area did you carry white flags of surrender?
No one carried white flags and came to surrender to the army. The story that some LTTE leaders came with white flags is not at all true. When we reached the side controlled by the army they did not harass us and we felt secure from the way they treated us but before that we were living between life and death. The Sri Lanka armed forces have treated us very well and afforded us all the facilities we never had before that. Today we are living happily with my children who are continuing their education well. My parents are also living with me.
The story about certain LTTE leaders coming to surrender raising white flags is a fairy tale. None came to surrender with white flags. Today as a Tamil I have to say that we don’t need any conflict with the others in Sri Lanka and I would like to tell the Tamil diaspora that their activities will not benefit the Sri Lankan Tamil people. The diaspora by their activities is trying to destroy the Tamil people and I also would like to tell them that we do not need a war.
We are being looked after well by the government and the armed forces of Sri Lanka but the diaspora who are living abroad do not know that the Sri Lankan Tamil people do not need any further armed conflicts. I have deep faith in my religion Hinduism and I would continue to live with my children according to the tenets of my religion and I would like to tell the Tamil diaspora that their efforts to mislead our people will not succeed.
Source: The Nation – By Chamara Lakshan Kumara
Shashirekha should have appeared before the LLRC to give her evidence. Her statement is very important as it shed light on behind-the-scene life as a Tamil human-shield hostage of the LTTE, in the final Humanitarian Operation to defeat LTTE and save the 300,000+ Tamil hostages, including the families of LTTE leaders.
Her evidence is very important as she has confirmed that the ‘white flag’ story of SF to the media is nothing but a total fabrication, a hoax, to score political points by him with the diaspora LTTE/Tamils and the imperial West, at their behest.
I hope even now, her evidence is given wide publicity and a video had been made, which could be aired in the Western media and U-Tube.
please do not trust ex.LTTE and tamil disapora,they have only one aim?
Do you really believe in the tripe offerred by this poor woman?
Being the widow of LTT leader, she is terribly disadvantaged and being a sprited human being, she will say anything to ensure not only her survival but achieve growth as well.
Despite all the machinations and high profile campaigning in the North, the people of the North have opted to elect representatives of the LTT proxy party, TNA, with a resounding majority. There is a clear message in this action and the Sinhala polity has a chance of listening to the message communicated by the northern community.
The tamils have been meat in the sandwich for the past 60 years. On the one hand, the extremists of the majority community, the consistent and regular communal pogroms, the occupying Army and many more actions of the majority simply throttled the existence of the tamils for the past 6 decades.
On the other hand, the community has been been subjected to its own extremists, the lawlessness, the gun culture and no freedom.
This culminated with the happenings of May 09; I dare not attach adjectives for fear of responses.
It’s been 2 years and nothing has moved. The ordinary Tamil man lives in fear; the ordinary tamil women and children are petrified of the environment in which they live.
There’s no point singing hossanas for the Blue Brothers; achievement has been zero and intentions are empty words.
The best the Sinhala polity could do is to conduct a referendum under the eyes of the UN to get an opinion from the tamil community on where they would like to live and what they would like to do.
Otherwise, claims (such as yours) that the tamils like to live peacefully in harmony with others in this island, are empty and bereft of any meaning.
Only a few weeks ago you were for expelling ALL the Tamils in SL back to ‘Big Mama land’, just as Burma did in the ’60s. Now you have changed your tune. a volte face! What is worse, you even want the UN involved in holding a ‘referendum’ to solve the national question! UN has not solved world’s problems. On the contrary, they have made it worse!
UNSG is a stooge of the imperial West. He set-up unilaterally a 3-member panel, biased against the GOSL, to ‘advise’ him whether crimes against humanity and war crimes were committed by the SL Security Forces during the final stage of the Humanitarian Operation to liberate the Tamil hostages held by the LTTE as a human screen, which in itself was a war crime on the part of the LTTE. UNSG appointed his biased panel through the back door without the sanction of the UNSC and UNGA. It was unconstitutional and therefore illegal. UN and the UNSG is today grossly manipulated by the imperial West. Hence it is balmy to call for a UN regulated ‘referendum’ to solve the national question.
SL is a SOVEREIGN NATION and we do not need outside interference to solve our internal problems, thank you very much. We have our own mechanism and ability to solve this question ourselves. The issue here is outside interference and Tamil extremism and mule-headedness not to compromise.
The widow of TS and the other Tamil hostages who fled were witnesses to the suffering they endured under the LTTE as a ‘human screen’. The food and water sent to them by the GOSL were stolen by the LTTE. Hence they were famished. Finally, they voted with their feet by fleeing enmasse to the side of the SL Security Forces, where they were well received and well treated, in the best Buddhist tradition. They have a story to tell. I hope some of them have given evidence to the LLRC during hearings held in the North.
However, some of these Tamil hostages who fled seemed to have short memory. They voted back in power the very masters (proxies of the LTTE) who were their scourge and cause of suffering. Perhaps it is in the Tamil mentality to endure suffering and enslavement from the time of British colonialsm. They are so naive to swallow once again the same bait of hope of Tamil autonomy one day, through TNA. Fat chance! Though TNA won the LG elections only less than 40% of the electorate turned out to vote! This is sending a clear message to the TNA by the 60% who did not vote. Their message is, “We do not want your divisive politics. We want to be a ONE UNITED NATION SL. We want to bring up our children in peace, with good education and prospects for the future. We are happy we are free at last from the evil regime of LTTE and our children are safe. We do not want to return to insurrection and terrorism of the LTTE. It was a gross mistake. So leave us alone. TNA can go back to Tamil Nadu and stir-up autonomy over there for their 60 million Tamils”. The other issue is that the electorates on North and East have been split into many seats with only small voting population in each seat. Hence, I believe the size of each electorate should now be enalarged by combining smaller electorates. The size of the voting population would then increase in proportion. The number of seats would then be reduced to reflect the true picture of the Tamil population in North and East.
Finally, Guru, it is rather sad that you have little sense of gratitude to our Hon President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brothers-three, who were greatly instrumental in ridding Mother Lanka of the curse of LTTE, and are now engaged in the mammoth task of building economic recovery, which we are winning, compared to even EU countries who are becoming bankrupt. I strongly suspect you are an anarchist JVP supporter who are politically bankrupt. They are kept alive thanks to the funding by the imperial West, to subvert the nation.
Could you please have a look at the questions that I proposed for the referendum.
Question 1 to the tamil community:
Where would you like to live?
The options are:
a. In any part of Sri Lanka with dignity without fear
b. In Tamil Nadu
c. In the “traditional homelands” as a separate state
Question 2 to the Tamil community:
What would you like to do?
The options are:
a. live as dignified citizens in a democratic unified Sri Lanka
b. Live as citizens of Sri Lanka under a Federal arrangement under the leadership of proxy LTT political parties?
c. Live in the “traditional homelands: in the North and East of Sri Lanka as a separate state under neo-terrorist leadership supported and provided by proxy LTT political parties and intellectual terroristic diaspora?
Nicholas, I can bet my life on Sinhala and Tamil polities emerging winners on the basis of the outcome of such a referendum.
A referendum does not become a referendum if you do not ask the questions from the whole population. Otherwise it will become a case of “Asking clues from a thief’s mother”.
You are quite right. A Referendum as proposed by Guru (the diaspora Tamil/LTTE/TNA) has to be put before the whole country to be valid. Otherwise it will be biased and invalid, like UNSG’s so-called Advisory Panel’s Darusman Report, who had been coached beforehand by the UNSG, the diaspora Tamils and the imperial West the outcome of the report. As Manjula rightly said, “Horage ammagen pene ahanava vage”.
Anyway, the patriotic citizens of Mother Lanka have already answered the question clearly by voting back to power by thumping majorities several times, Hon President and the UPFA, to govern SL as ONE UNITED NATION OF SL.
I am totally amused by the now complete volte face of Guru. I even thought whether it was the real Guru or a diaspora Tamil masquerading as Guru who had written his blog No: 3. Guru is the man who confused the problem by advocating a mass expulsion of ALL the Tamils from SL, only a few weeks ago, as a solution to the problem, as Burma did in 1960s. He has now come out to the open to reveal his true colours, as actually a kotiya in Sinhala hama advocating extreme Tamil views of autonomy for the Tamils in the N and E. Even huge Tamil Nadu has not been granted such autonomy for its Tamil population of more than 60 million!
Guru is a man who had said in the past that he had experienced/witnessed the acts of terrorism in the North as a social worker and proposed the mass expulsion of ALL Tamils to ‘Big mama land’ as a solution. I argued against it, as one cannot condemn the whole Tamil community because of the actions of a few Tamil extremists. I suggested that only the Tamils brought in by the British colonialists and the kallathonis, who had been promised Indian citizenship by Indira Gandhi, the bitch, who renegged on her agreement before even the ink was dry, be expelled to TN.
I am glad we do not have anarchists like Guru to run the country. He is now certainly another traitor like RW, JJ, KJ et alia. I wouldn’t be surprised if he is JVP supporting the TNA and the diaspora Tamils.