`We are on the correct path'

Print edition : October 22, 2004

Selvam Adaikkalanathan, 42, joined the Tamil Eelam Liberation Organisation (TELO) at the age of 15 and became its president after the killing of Sri Sabarathinam in 1986. TELO, founded in 1975 by Thangathurai and Kuttimani, was the dominant militant group in the 1980s until it was decimated by the LTTE. It subsequently gave up militancy and is now a part of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA), which is backed by the LTTE. Selvam, who hails from Mannar, has been a Member of Parliament since 1998, representing the Wanni electoral district.

On the path taken by Tamil nationalism:

Nationalism deals directly with people's rights. In the early days, Sinhala oppression, the lack of representation in the military and the dismissive attitude to our political action spurred militant nationalism. It was when we were denied even the basic freedom to speak, and we were shackled, that our youth realised that non-violence was not the way forward and Thangathurai, Kuttimani, Prabakaran and others decided to start militancy.

MANICKAVASAGAM

Although there were several movements, after 1983, the goal was the same - to get our people their freedom.

On the Thimpu talks and subsequent developments:

Thimpu was an attempt at deception by President J.R. Jayewardene. He accepted nothing nor offered anything. Even our four principles were rejected. After this failed, there was the IPKF [Indian Peace-Keeping Force] experience. Then because of internecine warfare, we joined the political mainstream.

After we joined the mainstream, the government, which was afraid of us when we were armed, behaved in exactly the opposite manner. They started to cheat us. We could make out that we were being cheated. The LTTE, however, maintained its armed movement and strengthened itself. The government was forced to talk to the LTTE. They spoke only because of force, it was not directed by a change of heart by the government.

On the internecine killing and the contradiction of the TELO joining the TNA:

We do not accept internecine killing. We cannot forget it, but we do not want to let down our people who aspired for nationalism. Achieving victory on all fronts is possible only if we set aside our differences and show ourselves as a strong force.

On the reasons for the TELO's rise as a major force of Tamil nationalism:

The TELO was always a Tamil nationalist movement. The phenomenal growth was owing to the leadership and the coordinated action by our leaders with our excellent cadre. We were involved in several activities against the government as well as in important talks with the government. Our leaders and cadre had true dedication for the cause, which explained our phenomenal rise.

The path ahead for Tamil nationalism:

Tamil nationalism is on the correct path. Sri Lankan politicians will not give us our rights. They are now saying they would not give even an interim solution. How can we expect them to give a final settlement? Practically speaking, the government has not given us anything despite the international pressure. It is maintaining a silence. This attitude reflects the kind of solution that we can expect through this mode. However, politically and militarily the Tamil community has come together now. But, it is still doubtful if we can find a solution to Tamil nationalism through talks. I think if there is another war, our people's rights will be brought out clearly.

On the prospects of war:

As I see it, there is a 75 per cent possibility of war breaking out.

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