|This is from the time magazine ..
Velu's first interview after the CFA in 2002.
Here is the man who leads the Tamils in Sri Lanka..
Kilinochchi, April 10: It becomes apparent from the Tamil Tiger security check before Velupillai Prabhakaran's press conference that these people know a hundred ways to kill a man. They check my fingernails, run fingers through my hair, feel the collar of my shirt, stare into my throat and give me the kind of patting down that in any other circumstances would be cause for a catalogue of lawsuits.
After keeping 300 journalists sweating in the jungle sun for 10 hours last week, one unfortunate soldier has probably the worst job in the movement: checking 300 pairs of shoes and socks and running his fingers across the soles of the journalists' steaming feet. Our notepads, pens, cameras and tape recorders are examined. Every battery's voltage is checked. Telephones are banned and, bizarrely, sunglasses. Every moment that we spend waiting for Prabhakaran to appear, we are filmed and photographed. This is Prabhakaran's first public appearance in 12 years: it seems the years have not dimmed the leader's legendary paranoia.
Once things get underway, it is clear also how two decades of autocratic isolation have stunted Prabhakaran's understanding of what peace and democracy look like. After his emcee warns the journalists to 'stay exactly where they are,' the shadowy leader chooses to come out of hiding surrounded by jackbooted guerrillas in radio headsets with snub-nosed AK-47s across their chests. He is flanked by three minders sporting identical shirts, shades and bushy mustaches, who cross their hands in front and stare impassively at the press pack in the manner celebrated by bodyguards from Beijing to Bollywood. Prabhakaran's plump gray safari suit comes from the same closet used by dictators from Cuba to the Congo. The whole effect is arresting, even quite cool in a sort of gangster flick sort of way. For the Tigers, many of whom are catching their first sight of their leader, it verges on the awe-inspiring. Totalitarianism generally is.
Then things begin to fall apart. After a few sensible questions, a frustration fueled by the heat, the waiting and, after the leader's abstemious example, a total lack of the usual journalistic refreshments, spills over. My colleague from The Guardian finds himself asking how we are expected to take the leader's conversion to democracy seriously. Someone else compares him to Osama bin Laden. I am extremely rude about his 'goons.'
But it is the Indian press that really hit their mark, firing accusation after allegation about the 1991 assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, questioning whether Prabhakaran 'wants his children to die in his arms,' and insisting he name his most formidable battlefield opponent. When Prabhakaran blithely replies to one journalist from a business newspaper that he guesses a market economy would be the way to go, a group of socialist Indian reporters jump to their feet and clamor something about 'the workers.' 'These questions are so stupid,' says Puli Tehevan, the Tigers' political adviser and one of the architects of the press conference. 'I thought people would be more intelligent. We're not going to do this again.'
The omens are indeed ominous: as Prabhakaran and his deputy Anton Balasingham flounder, a cloud passes over the moon and an endless flock of giant fruit bats passes overhead. Finally, after two and a half hours of cross-examination in the sweltering heat, both men limp offstage. As he leaves, Prabhakaran casts one last furtive glance back at his tormentors, his toady eyes hooded with exhaustion. The leader is looking at his future, and from where he stands, it doesn't look good.
Edited By - tributesla - 27 Jul 2007 13:49:17 GMT