Lanka-e-News: Once you said that you possess arms; now you deny it. What position can we accept?
Karuna Amman: It is wrong information. We had threats from LTTE when we split from it and formed TMVP. We held arms then to face LTTE threats. Later I quitted from TMVP and those who broke away with me did not keep arms. The weapons are with the TMVP and not with us.
Lanka-e-News: Why did you join Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP)?
Karuna Amman: Almost all Tamil political parties are against the LTTE. But they are diverse regarding what should be done. There is a multiplicity of small groups like sports clubs. Such groups cannot provide solutions for the problems of the Tamil people. That is why I joined a bigger party like SLFP.
After that, 1000 of our cadres were recruited to Army. Around 300 of them are on duty in Thoppigala area now. Further 1500 cadres are to join the Army. Of them 1200 are now being processed. Another group is to be attached to police.
All our offices in the Eastern Province have been turned to SLFP offices. There are 80 such offices. Police guards them. After 25 years, Minister Maithripala Sirisena opened a SLFP office in Batticaloa. TMVP has only a couple of cadres now.
Lanka-e-News: What service have you rendered through your cabinet portfolio so far?
Karuna Amman: I like this portfolio of national integration and restructuring. There was no understanding among the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities for 25 years. Now we can build it.
The major barrier is the language. Tamils should learn Sinhala and the Sinhalese also should learn Tamil. Foreign organizations like US AID help us to do this. The teaching is conducted through my ministry. We have made aware the President on this and hope to move a cabinet paper to take it forward though the Ministry of Education.
We are teaching Tamil to Army personnel. People like them. But the problem is the language.
The Ministry is planning to launch a counseling and rehabilitation service for the LTTE cadres that have left the organization. There are around 6000 such cadres in the Eastern Province alone. There are more in Northern Province. We are now collecting their information.
Lanka-e-news: What is the turning point of the LTTE’s defeat in the fourth and the last Ealam war?
Karuna Amman: First point is my breakaway. It was a massive loss to Prabakaran.
Number two is missing the opportunity for a better federal set up. Balasingham signed an agreement at Oslo expressing willingness to consider a federal solution. He initially hesitated, but I encouraged him. I told him to sign the statement and to talk with Prabakaran later. Prabakaran crumpled the document and named us as traitors. People know that there was a path for a federal solution. They don’t want to be in a war forever.
The morale of the LTTE was low right at the beginning of the fourth Ealam war since it was unnecessary.
The third point is the new war tactics of the Army. They did not tag the operations such as ‘Jaya Sikurui’ and advanced strategically and slowly capturing area by area.
Lanka-e-news: What path the struggle to win the rights of the Tamils will take in future?
Karuna Amman: In the post-conflict context, Provincial Councils will be set up. We should not make unnecessary demands like police powers. If so, the two communities will suspect each other again paving way for conflicts. It is unnecessary. Tamils need freedom and development at this juncture. Developments are already underway. Only time is needed to avoid conflicts and to establish peace.
For instance, when LTTE came to the Eastern Province, there was no problem there. No one was arrested on political reasons. Following 1983 incident of the killing of 13 soldiers, ethnic riots spread and the displaced people came to Batticaloa. LTTE manipulated them to spread racism. Then fifteen of us first joined the LTTE. Same thing happened in Jaffna as well. Thus, the gap between the two communities widened. It can be remedied.
Lanka-e-news: What will be the LTTE’s future?
Karuna Amman: LTTE cannot resurge. The small guerrilla teams hiding in the jungle will launch attacks. But the movement cannot be reorganized. People have already rejected it. That is what happened in east and in Jaffna. Jaffna people first rejected the LTTE and they never joined it again.
LTTE lacks human resources. The source of human resources for LTTE was the Eastern Province. 8500 cadres from east fell in Vanni battle fronts. LTTE’s economic base is Jaffna. LTTE has lost both bases now. Vanni people are also tired of the LTTE and they will never support them in future.
Army needs only time. Only one and half years passed after the Eastern Province (was liberated). Now, there are minor incidents only. Time will heal.
Lanka-e-News: What is your opinion about Tamil Diaspora?
Karuna Amman: They are unaware of the real situation here. They are misled by the LTTE’s massive propaganda campaign. But the Tamils in south cannot be misled like them. The Diaspora needs to save Prabakaran and not the Tamil people. Prabakaran is the beginning of all these woes. He is not a leader. A leader never uses his people as pawns. The civilians could be let go before the war was started. Prabakaran attempted to hide among people instead of freeing them. Tamils would have been grateful to him if he had allowed them to go.
The Diaspora will never come back to Sri Lanka. They need chaos is Sri Lanka to stay there. For that, the Vanni people have to suffer. The story that 100,000 Tamils demonstrated in London is a lie. There were only 20,000 people.
Lanka-e-News: There are diverse calculations of the number of civilians trapped in the no-fire zone. How much is your calculation?
Karuna Amman: Tamil National Alliance’s 300,000 calculation is false. There were 180,000 people in LTTE-held Mullaithivu, Kilinochchi and Mannar districts. With the start of war, around 90,000 of them moved out of the war zone. Of the rest 90,000 civilians, 65,000 have crossed into the state-controlled areas now. According to my estimations, there are less than 30,000 people in the no-fire zone.
Lanka-e-News: Do you think that a ceasefire is necessary?
Karuna Amman: Not at this moment. Prabakaran will never agree a ceasefire with a pure mind.
Lanka-e-News: Where is Prabakaran now?
Karuna Amman: He is not in the no-fire zone. He may have fled back to jungle. Prabakaran has not fled to a foreign country. He can never flee to India. He can escape to a country like Indonesia but cannot hide there. But he can seek asylum in Norway. He will definitely have to die.
Many of his second level commanders have died. The likes of Banu and Swarnam have been injured. Banu and Pottu Amman ordered the Muslims to evacuate within 24 hours. I opposed it then. But they did not care it.
Lanka-e-News: Around 400 Tamil youths have disappeared in south? What is your comment on it?
Karuna Amman: Those calculations provided by TNA and Mano Ganeshan are lies. Most of the reports are false. I have discussed the issue with the Defense Secretary several times.
Lanka-e-News: Your group is accused for links with these disappearances?
Karuna Amman: It is totally wrong. TMVP cadres are connected with the incidents of ransom taking. They are so bad. You know how they killed a girl in Trincomalee. The President has granted full powers to the police to stop dirty tricks of the TMVP.
Lanka-e-News: Now you are a member of the SLFP that made the Sinhala language the only national language creating the ethnic problem. How do you see it today?
Karuna Amman: Many politicians committed errors in the past. Both Sinhala and Tamil politicians spread racism. Today, the people are not like that. They are better understood. Once when 13 soldiers were killed in Jaffna, ethnic riots spread in south. But now the Sinhalese do not touch Tamils despite how many suicide attacks are launched by the LTTE in south. LTTE killed a Sinhala student of Eastern University. But no Tamil student was hurt in other universities. One of the best Sinhala doctors in the Eastern province was killed by the LTTE. But no Tamil doctor was hurt. People are better aware now. They are not racists. SLFP is not a racist party. How many votes have they achieved from north in the past? Amidst conflict too, Chandrika gained a massive number of votes in the Presidential Election from Batti.
Lanka-e-News: How is your relationship with India?
Karuna Amman: Very good. I met the Indian High Commissioner recently. He offered assistance to develop the Eastern University.
Lanka-e-News: How is your relationship with Tamil Nadu?
karuna Amman: Not so much. But I know many journalists in Tamil Nadu.
Lanka-e-News: Did you receive arms training in Tamil Nadu?
Karuna Amman: Yes, Indian Army trained us then.
Lanka-e-News: Finally comment on your personal life. You are married?
karuna Amman: Yes, I have three kids. My wife has not obstructed my work both when I was in LTTE and in present times as well. She helped me. I live happily now.