The nineteenth Great heroes day (GHD) was observed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Thursday November 27. In recent times the most important event for the LTTE has been its annual `Maaveerar Naal` or Maaveerar Thinam held each year.
Various observances are held in Sri Lanka and abroad to commemorate the Tiger cadres who have died for the Tamil cause. `Puligalin Thaagam Thamil Eelath Thaayagam` (Thirst of the Tigers is for a Tamil Eelam homeland) is the motto of the LTTE.
An important feature of the GHD has been the ceremony where LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran pays homage to the fallen cadres. The centrepiece of this ceremony is his address to the Tamil people in his capacity as the self-styled national leader of the Tamil Eelam nation.
This year`s GHD address by Prabhakaran came at a time when the LTTE was suffering setback after setback on the military front. It was only last year that Defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa predicted that the 2007 Great Heroes Day would be the last one for the tiger chief.
Prabhakaran however is still alive and what is more lived to deliver another GHD address. Given the series of military reversals undergone by the LTTE in recent times many expected or wanted the Tiger supremo to throw the towel in.
A number of articles and even editorials appeared in the Sri Lankan media ridiculing and mocking Prabhakaran and the LTTE for its perceived poor track record in military matters.
There is a widespread belief in the country and abroad that the LTTE is militarily weak and therefore is on the verge of being defeated conclusively by the armed forces. With the Rajapaksa regime utilising its military successes to consolidate itself in power a massive propaganda campaign is on to project an image that the Tigers are on the decline. If recent military developments are the sole criteria to assess the strength or weakness of the LTTE there was some justification at least for this opinion to gain ground.
This impression has led to an atmosphere of triumphalism in the country amidst many sections of the majority community. Those who disagree or dissent are unfairly depicted as traitors or Tiger agents.
There were quite a few who expect Prabhakaran to call it quits or face extinction. A few actually advised him to surrender arms and enter the negotiating process.
It was against this backdrop that Prabhakaran`s annual GHD address was delivered last Thursday. If anyone thought of Prabhakaran as a battered, bleeding boxer, reeling on the ropes, gasping for breath, they were mistaken.
The Tiger chief was defiant as ever. Maintaining tremendous serenity amid severe strain, the beleaguered LTTE chief read out his prepared speech in customary style.
Though different analysts tend to draw different conclusions from the address, to this writer, the most significant aspect of the LTTE leader`s speech was his avowed declaration to continue fighting against overwhelming odds.
Here are some relevant excerpts from the translated version in English:
Today, the Sinhala state has, as never before, placed its trust on its military strength, on military modalities and on a military solution. As a result, the war has gathered intensity and momentum. In truth, this is not a war against the LTTE as the Sinhala state professes. This is a war against the Tamils against the Tamil nation. In short a genocidal war.
With various countries of the world buttressing the genocidal war on the people of Tamil Eelam, we are waging a defensive war for the freedom of our people.
We have faced forces much mightier than ours. We have had direct confrontations even against superior powers, stronger than us.
We have withstood wave after wave of our enemy attacks. When compared to these happenings of the past, today`s challenges are neither novel nor huge. We will face these challenges with the united strength of our people.
No great changes have taken place in the Sinhala political panorama. Politics there has developed into the form of a demonic war.
When it comes to the Tamil national question, the Sinhala nation is adopting only one policy. It is obviously a policy of suppression. Even the tinge of hope our people had that the Sinhala nation will abandon its path of violence and offer justice, has now evaporated. Our people are not ready to trust the Sinhala nation again and get cheated.
It is true Tamil Eelam is a small nation on the globe. However it is a nation with great potential. It is a nation with a characteristic individuality. It has a distinctive language, cultural heritage and history. As the freedom movement of the people of Tamil Eelam we will never, ever allow Sinhala occupation or Sinhala domination of our homeland.
Whatever challenges confront us, whatever contingencies we encounter, whatever forces stand on our path, we will still continue with our struggle for the freedom of the Tamil people. On the path shown by history, on the command of the circumstances of today, we will continue with our struggle till alien Sinhala occupation of our land is removed.