Karuna’s accusations are cover up for guilt and betrayal - Karikalan

[TamilNet, Sunday, 07 March 2004, 19:58 GMT]
In a wide ranging interview from Vanni to the London, UK-based International Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) Radio, Mr. Karikalan, a senior leader of the Liberation Tigers and former head of the political division in Batticaloa-Ampara, said that Karuna, the renegade former LTTE commander from Batticaloa-Ampara, was spreading false stories to the international media to justify his betrayal and to prevent the international Tamil community from calling Mr. Karuna a “traitor.”

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Real Audio IconIBC interview with Karikalan(Tamil)
Real Audio IconIBC interview with Col.Ramesh (Tamil)
Mr. Karikalan said that the Tamil people of Batticaloa-Ampara will in short time remove the blot that Mr. Karuna’s betrayal has left on them, and prove their loyalty to the Tamil national leadership.

The senior Eastern leader also said that the LTTE leader, Mr. V. Pirapaharan, is still ready to pardon Mr. Karuna and assure him no harm.

The following is the translation of the interview:

Mr. Sivagnanam Karikalan, senior LTTE leader in Batticaloa

IBC: You say that Karuna’s decision was an arbitrary personal decision. Can you comment?
Karikalan: Yes, Karuna did not consult any of his commanders or political division heads before making this decision. He told us that for the first time in the liberation struggle he was going to disobey the orders of the national leader. Several commanders and political heads repeatedly advised him against it, but he did not listen.

He seemed to take our advice as phony and impractical. He was without any realistic approach to solving problems, and he did not have the state-of-mind to accept the orders of our national leader. He seemed to have made up his mind ignoring our advice and wanted to impose his decision on the commanders, political cadres and the people.

Therefore, we consider this as an arbitrary decision made by Mr. Karuna himself.

IBC: What could be the cause of such a decision by Mr. Karuna?
Karikalan: We believe there are external forces behind his confused state of mind and that is why he did not listen to any of our advice. The truth of who these forces are will be evident soon.

IBC: Do you think the crisis can be resolved amicably?
Karikalan: I struggled to resolve the crisis by talking to him several times. Our leader invited me to come to Kilinochchi at the very start of the crisis. But I wanted to find a amicable solution, and stayed in Batticaloa to talk with Karuna in an attempt to keep him continue to work under the national leadership. In the end, I reiterated that even if he couldn’t work under Tamil Eelam administration, he should continue to work under national leader.

But he didn’t listen to me and rushed to inform an international media organization that the Batticaloa-Amparai division was separating from the command of the national leadership.

After this, the leadership no longer believed in the possibility of amicably resolving the crisis, and disciplinary action was taken to remove him from the organization. According to the rules of our organization, if a commander is removed, his deputy will take over the command and lead the fighters and the people.

Plans are under way for Col.Ramesh, the new special commander, to lead the cadres and people and arrive at a smooth solution. It is unfortunate that we could no longer arrive at a workable solution by finding any justifications to the actions of Mr. Karuna or by pardoning him now.

IBC: What do you think of the reasons that Mr. Karuna has given?
Karikalan: All the reasons Mr. Karuna has given are phony. Even when I last met with him, I was of the opinion he was trying to justify his actions by instigating regionalism and publicizing it through the media and leaflets to the public, saying none of the heads of the Tamil Eelam administration was from the East.

In the liberation struggle, we too have fought hard at several places. According to the merits and competence of the cadres, the leadership has given appropriate responsibilities to the cadres.

The fighters have fought in several battlefields, and earned the friendship and admiration of all people.

Even though there are several opinions, this is the truth.

This [lack of leadership positions, etc.] is not something that happened just a day or two ago. But it was only to cover up his betrayal and guilt that Mr. Karuna has expressed his regionalism in spiteful terms. He is trying to create an opinion among the people through the international media that he was a great and exceptional commander. He wants to impose among the people the false appearance that he was blameless, that it was the national leadership that out of regional favoritism was trying to take action against him for no valid reason. And he seeks to show through the media that he is a great regional patriot.

IBC: It is a historical fact that sinister elements will use these internal crises against the Tamil people. What do you want to tell the Tamil people around the world?
Karikalan: The Tamil people around the world have worked with dedication, sincerity and gratitude to make the liberation struggle a success. They helped build up this struggle, and if anyone is influenced by these malicious elements attempt to weaken the struggle, that would be considered a monumental betrayal.

It was due to such betrayal that Mr. Karuna has been removed from our organization. He would be isolated from the people and the fighters, and the new special commander will take over. The commanders and political heads have resolved to defeat the attempts by these malicious forces, to remove the blot on the people of Batticaloa-Ampara by Karuna’s betrayal, and unite under the national leadership.

Definitely, within a short time, we will bring about this unity under our national leadership, and that is what we want to let the international Tamil community know.

IBC: Will Karuna’s removal cause any disruption of the peace process?
Karikalan: The fighters and political cadres are taking the national liberation struggle forward under our national leader's direction. The actions of a single individual, and the disciplinary action against him, will not affect the actions of our liberation organization as a whole.

Mr. Karuna, who visited foreign countries for peace talks recently, gave many assurances about our liberation struggle and expressed our national leadership’s views.

Within a short time of having done so, he is determined to weaken the struggle. This shows that his assurances and his professed love of our policies were phony and based on ulterior motives.

So his actions and his removal will definitely not affect our struggle. Our liberation movement is a great force, based on the contributions of a large number of people and fighters. It is not dependent on a single political head or commander.

Therefore, the peace talks conducted in an attempt to find a permanent solution to the Tamil people’s problems won’t be derailed by the actions of a single individual.

IBC: How is the situation in Batticaloa now? There are reports that political heads are returning to the Vanni.
Karikalan: The key commanders, deputy-commander, political head, head of the military intelligence, and the administrative head in Batticaloa-Ampara have come to the Vanni. There is a new administrative and command structure for them take up their positions. They are getting ready. The people of Batticaloa-Ampara are also ready to accept the new structure.

There is sadness in the Batticaloa-Ampara region. Mr. Karuna is using his loyalists to instigate regional hatred. He is engaged in creating a North-East divide among the people. But the people are not ready to support his actions on their own.

The people will not allow the liberation struggle, taken forward over the last 30 years amid tears and blood, to be destroyed for the personal gain of one individual. They will not be sold on Mr. Karuna’s strategy of regionalism.

All that our people want is a permanent solution to the ethnic problem and unity under a Tamil national leadership. Several people came to me with tears and asked me why this divisive situation has arisen in our district. They pleaded with me to bring this division to an end.

We have great confidence that our people will continue to work with us, without supporting the wrong-headed actions of Mr. Karuna.

In recent Pongu Thamil events in Batticaloa, thousands of people carried national leader’s pictures and shouted “Tamils are Tigers; Tigers are Tamils.” This showed their commitment to the liberation struggle.

It is contemptible for Karuna to shout that the people, having shown Tamil national consciousness and loyalty to a national leadership for 30 years, should throw all that away within a day or two. The people will not listen to such requests.

I want to state categorically that the people will respond properly and will resolve to continue to work with us.

IBC: Can you comment on the elections?
Karikalan: This election will reiterate to the world the justness of the Liberation Struggle and that the Tamil people are behind the Liberation Tigers. Every candidate in Batticaloa district is saying Tamils are Tigers and Tigers are Tamils. The people are getting ready to vote for this policy. They want to show that the Liberation Tigers are the sole representatives of the people.

The current rumblings will not affect our people’s sentiments and hence the elections.

We are confident that Tamil people will resolve to strengthen our movement at this time of trial for us.

IBC: Mr. Karuna has told the Western media that the national leader is planning to kill him. Can you comment?
Karikalan: This is a false allegation that shows the weakness of Mr. Karuna. He is seized with the fear that the international Tamil community will reject his actions and look at him as a guilty man and a traitor. So he is trying to justify his actions by spreading false stories.

Even today, our national leader is ready to pardon Mr. Karuna, and assure the security of his person. If Karuna wants [reconciliation or pardon], our national leader will ensure no harm falls on Mr. Karuna and let him live in freedom. We want to inform through the international Tamil community and the media that Mr. Karuna can trust us. Our national leader has personally granted us an assurance that he is ready to pardon.


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