PLAIN TALK: Valautham Dayanidhi, alias Daya Master, speaks to Hindustan Times in Jaffna.
Politicians in Tamil Nadu are creating "problems" between Tamils and Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. The race to prove who among Tamil Nadu parties helped Sri Lankan Tamils most is motivated, says Valautham Dayanidhi, alias Daya Master, the former spokesperson for the LTTE. Dayanidhi spoke to Padma Rao Sundarji in an exclusive interview for Hindustan Times in Jaffna.
QUESTION: Why did you surrender to the Sri Lankan army, one month before the war ended in May 2009?
ANSWER: By April 2009, the LTTE had lost control. Yet, they wanted to persist with their notion of heroism. No Tamil was to surrender. There was no chance of living in peace anywhere. All one could do was either die, or escape. Many cadres committed suicide by swallowing cyanide. As you know, I was a former teacher who was ordered to be the LTTE's media spokesman. I had no intention of taking up arms. So people--like I and my family--began taking their own decisions. It was risky, but I covered myself under a sarong like an ordinary farmer and we escaped.
QUESTION: Sections of the international community insist that the Sri Lankan authorities tortured captured Tamils.
ANSWER: I spent three months in jail, a case was filed against me--as against all former LTTE--and I was released on bail. I am telling you the truth when I say that up to this day, I have faced absolutely no harassment at all. If I did, I wouldn't be here chatting with you. The Sri Lankan authorities have treated me well.
The late LTTE chief Vellupillai Prabhakaran (R) standing with his wife Mathivathani (2nd L), son Balachandran and daughter Duwaraka (L) in this handout photo. The Sri Lanka Army faces allegations of committing genocide during the end of the island's civil war. Reuters/Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence
QUESTION: Tamil Nadu politicians are agitating on a daily basis for India to take stern action against the Sri Lankan government over its alleged human rights abuses of the Sri Lankan Tamils. The DMK has pulled out of the central government. Students are protesting in Tamil Nadu on your behalf. Comment?
ANSWER: I don't know how much your government in Delhi heeds their voice, but Tamil Nadu politicians are now creating problems between the Tamils and the Sinhalese. These self-immolations, attacks on Sinhala Buddhists,etc.: they should stop immediately. They are crying loudly in our interest but the race to prove who did most for Sri Lankan Tamils is really motivated by political competition among themselves.
QUESTION: Did any political party in Tamil Nadu ever do anything for you at all ?
ANSWER: Absolutely nothing. Delhi, on the other hand, is doing a lot of developmental work like building houses and laying railway lines. Maybe your law doesn't permit states to get involved directly. But all Tamil Nadu parties are doing now is fomenting trouble between us and the Sinhalas.
QUESTION: The influential Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, too, is mobilising the world to condemn the Sri Lankan government. To what extent do the Tamils in Sri Lanka support them?
ANSWER: The international Tamil diaspora is all blah-blah. They have no constructive plans to offer. I know through friends and family settled in Europe that influential Tamils are still collecting money in the name of some vague 'cause'. Further, many of them are using former LTTE property here for their own purpose, not for rehabilitating the needy among us.
QUESTION: The US is introducing a resolution to make Sri Lanka culpable of war crimes at the UNHCR in Geneva today. What will be the repercussions for your country?
ANSWER: The international community is going over the top and making far too much noise. It should restrict itself to developmental work--which it already does--and leave our political future to us and our elected governments. The past is past. Both sides committed crimes, but what is the purpose of a post-mortem ?
For heaven's sake: there were 30 years of war. It ended barely three years ago. Development is in full swing. More needs to be done but give the government some time. The LTTE war was utterly futile. More than 200,000 people--100,000 LTTE cadres alone--were killed. No media focuses on the brutality of the LTTE, the entire focus is on the SLA (Sri Lanka Army). Stop these dissections, these postmortems. Let us concentrate on the future. For Sri Lankan Tamils, that is the bottom line.
ABOUT VELAUTHAM DAYANIDHI:
Velautham Dayanidhi, 58, was the former spokesman for the LTTE's 'peace secretariat'. It was his job to coordinate with the media on the heels of the February 2002 peace accord between the LTTE and Colombo. He remained in that position as media spokesman till he surrendered, along with his wife and young daughter, in April 2009, a month before the 30-year civil war ended.