As speculation grew about
Prabhakaran's fate, army chief Gen. Sarath Fonseka announced that his body had
"A few hours ago, the body of terrorist leader
Prabhakaran, who ruined this country, was found in the battleground," he told
state television. "I take responsibility for this statement."
Fonseka's announcement came hours after President Mahinda Rajapaksa
delivered a victory address to parliament, declaring that his country had been
"liberated" from terrorism after defeating the Tamil Tiger rebels on the
Recounting how the rebels, known formally as the
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, once controlled a wide swath of the north and
much of the east, Rajapaksa said that for the first time in 30 years, the
country was unified under its elected government.
"We have liberated
the whole country from LTTE terrorism," he said, declaring on Wednesday a
national holiday to celebrate the armed forces.
The rebels, listed
as terrorists by the US and European Union, had been fighting for three decades
for a homeland for the mainly Hindu Tamil minority after decades of
marginalization at the hands of governments dominated by the mainly Buddhist
Briefly addressing parliament in the Tamil
language, Rajapaksa said the war was not waged against the Tamil people.
"Our intention was to save the Tamil people from the cruel grip of
the LTTE. We all must now live as equals in this free country," he said.
Rajapaksa has said in the past that he would negotiate some form of
power-sharing with the Tamil community following the war and he alluded Tuesday
to the need for an agreement.
"We must find a homegrown solution to
this conflict. That solution should be acceptable to all the communities," he
said. "That solution, which would be based on the philosophy of Buddhism, will
be an example to the whole world."
Tigers extinct, now what lies ahead for Tamils in Lanka?
19 May 2009, 0134 hrs IST,
K Venkataramanan, TNN
The demise of the LTTE and the end of
Velupillai Prabhakaran marks an apocalyptic moment in the Tamil
for equality and dignity
File photo of Prabhakaran and his kids at an undisclosed location. (AFP Photo)
in Sri Lanka. (
Depending on whether the
Sinhala majority reacts to its military victory with magnanimity or
triumphalism, Tamils may grow hopeful of a political solution to the decades-old
ethnic conflict or feel physically vulnerable and politically
The immediate concern is not the fear of ethnic
violence or unrest of the sort that shook the region in 1983, but the approach
of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime. "I fear Rajapaksa may be keen to broaden his
Sinhala support base rather than providing a constitutional solution," says V
Suryanarayan, South Asia expert.
Blog: No tears for Prabhakaran
The meeting came
as state television and defence officials announced that Tamil Tiger leader
Velupillai Prabhakaran and the entire rebel leadership had been killed on Monday
by government troops.
Sri Lanka's state television station announced
on Monday that Tamil Tiger rebel chief Velupillai Prabhakaran has been killed,
and the army commander said the last pockets of rebel resistance have been
cleared from the north.
Prabhakaran's death would spell the end of a
more than three-decade quest by the rebel leader for a separate state for
minority Tamils across northern and eastern Sri Lanka.
television, the state broadcaster, broke into its regular programming Monday
afternoon to announce Prabakharan's death. They gave no details of how he was
The government information department also sent a text
message to cell phones across the country announcing Prabhakaran was killed
along with his top deputies, who were known as Soosai and Pottu Amman.
Sri Lanka's army chief, Lt. Gen. Sareth Fonseka, told television his
troops routed the last rebels from the northern war zone Monday morning and were
working to identify Prabhakaran's body from among the dead.
Blog: Memories of Jaffna
He noted that despite
the election of a Tamil-led regime in the Eastern Province, there was no headway
in devolving powers to it. He said any solution that the government might come
up with would just be one put together by "the victor over the
A key obstacle in the post-conflict scenario is the
absence of a strong, credible figure or political alliance to represent the
Tamils. Without the cooperation of the moderate Tamil section, it would be
difficult for the Sri Lankan government to regain the confidence of the Tamil
The only hope is that moderates, liberals and intellectuals
among Tamils may regain the voice that has been stifled for years because of the
LTTE's intolerance of dissenting views on one side and violent opposition to
federal alternatives from the Sinhala right.
opinion in Sri Lanka is that India may be in a better position to lean on
Colombo to offer a political solution now than when the LTTE factor weighed on
the issue. "Now that the LTTE is not part of the equation, India can seek
justice for Tamils more vocally," said a Colombo resident.