Revolution in South Asia

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Indian Maoists Pledge Support for Renewed Tamil Eelam Struggle

Posted by Ka Frank on November 12, 2009

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Tamil refugees behind barbed wire.

Asian Tribune, October 23, 2009

Indian Maoists pledge support for armed Eelam struggle

Indian Maoists have pledged support for another armed struggle by the Sri Lankan Tamils for an independent Eelam.

Indian website thatstamil.oneindia.in has quoted Maoist general secretary Muppala Lakshmana Rao alias Ganapathi as having told a pro-naxalite website in an interview that the Eelam struggle has not died down with the passing of LTTE leader Prabhakaran. “It is still alive and we shall support it with arms”.

Apparently keeping in mind the Indian experience where naxal groups like Maoist Communist Centre, the People’s War and others have come together and are controlling vast areas in Bihar, Orissa, Jharkhand and West Bengal, he said: “The battle for Tamil Eelam is not lost yet. Eelam will blossom one day if all the (Tamil) groups come together and, with changed strategies, resume the struggle”

Mr Ganapathi said: “We shall smuggle in sophisticated arms in ultra-modern boats to the rebels to revive the armed struggle in Sri Lanka and nobody can stop us. We are formed groups for this”.

Admitting that the Eelam struggle has suffered a big setback, maybe a virtual defeat with the elimination of the LTTE, Mr Ganapathi has said, ” the Eelam movement has now become rudderless, but the thirst for freedom has not died down among the Eelam Tamils”.

He said, “there is no change in the situation” which led to the armed struggle for an independent Eelam” in the early 1980s. The “celebration of Prabhakaran’s death by Sinhala chauvinists in Colombo and the encouragement given to them by the fascist Sinhala Government show the Sinhalese’ hatred for Tamils and the Tamil nation”.

He also expressed the fear that there would be another State-sponsored colonisation of Tamil areas by the Sinhalese, leading to a change in the demographic pattern in the “Tamil homeland” of northern and eastern provinces.

Mr Ganapathi accused the Mahinda Rajapaksa Government of having carried out a “genocide” of Tamils. He expressed anguish over the confinement of displaced Tamils in “internment” camps fenced off by barbed wires and said,”whoever tortures people like this deserve to be punished and no one can stop us from arming these people”.

The Maoist leader said “we are not only willing to extend all help the Eelam Tamils achieve their independence but also guide leaders of resistance movements on how to achieve the goal of a Democratic People’s Republic of Tamil Eelam”.

Answering questions, Mr Ganapathi said the Maoists had consistently denied having received any arms training from the Tamil Tigers and added, “but we always supported their struggle”. He said “we did receive training from the renegades of the LTTE in the early 1980s, but not in recent times”.

Defence experts have from time to time spoken about links between the LTTE and the Maoists and the interview confirms this.

Speaking in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly in early 1991, the then Home Minister M V Mysoora Reddy said the Maoists (in their then avatar as People’s War) had acquired 60 AK-47s and 20 Sten guns from the LTTE. This was reiterated in the Lok Sabha, on Dec 10, 1991, by Bandaru Dattatreya, then an opposition MP who later became Minister of State for Railways.

In 1995, Mallojula Venugopal, the then secretary of the Dandakaranya Special Zone Committee, claimed that some ex-LTTE cadres had initially trained them in fabricating landmines.

Maintaining the same line, Ganapathi himself said in an interview in 1998: “They were not LTTE. They were ex-LTTE. What happened was that these people came to India after leaving their organisation and formed Communist groups. (We) had relations with these groups. As part of that, they held training camps for us”.

Further proof of the Maoists’ LTTE links surfaced, once again, when two video cassettes containing LTTE’s training modules were recovered in December 2001 from an arms dump of the rebels in Nelimaliga village of Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh.

In the aftermath of the failed Oct 1, 2003 assassination attempt on the then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, the then Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani said that the rebels had received expertise in using improvised explosive devices (IED) from the LTTE.

Speaking to mediapersons in a village in Madhuban block in Supaul district of Bihar, CPI-Maoist spokesman Azad said on Dec 14, 2005 that they had learnt “new warfare tactics from the on-the-run and purged LTTE military commanders in 1986-87”. He added that the LTTE commanders gave them training in making and laying landmines.

12 Responses to “Indian Maoists Pledge Support for Renewed Tamil Eelam Struggle”

  1. nando said

    Hmmmm. I’m not sure that communists should welcome a resurrection of the LTTE. There is a pull among some people to support anything armed — even if its politics and methods are highly questionable. So, I suppose a statement like this leads to the question…. what should we think about this?

  2. red road said

    Nando, where is it said that communists [the CPI(Maoists), in this reference] are welcoming “a resurrection of the LTTE” or that they “support anything armed—even if its politics and methods are highly questionable”? You’re making something up that doesn’t exist.

    Take a closer look at the quote from the above article, “The battle for Tamil Eelam is not lost yet. Eelam will blossom one day if all the (Tamil) groups come together and, with changed strategies, resume the struggle…(while) the Eelam struggle has suffered a big setback, maybe a virtual defeat with the elimination of the LTTE…the Eelam movement has now become rudderless, but the thirst for freedom has not died down among the Eelam Tamils”.

    This statement unites with the thirst for freedom of the Tamil people, and speaks of the need for changed strategies and new organization.

    Those who wish to read serious studies and statements regarding the Tamil may find the following informative:
    “Tamil Eelam Struggle and Its Lessons” by Ravindran, in Peoples Truth magazine (http://www.bannedthought.net/India/PeoplesTruth/PeoplesTruth07.pdf) (p.20+)

    and

    “Condemn the genocide of the Tamil people by the Sinhala chauvinist, neo-Nazi fascist rulers of Sri Lanka! Let us unite to fight against UPA government’s support to Rajapakse’s genocidal war on Tamil nation!!”, a press statement by Azad for the Central Committee of the CPI(Maoist), April 24, 2009, http://www.bannedthought.net/India/CPI-Maoist-Docs/index.htm#2009

  3. CPSA said

    Red, the statements you quote are just reinforcing the point that the party (and its antecedents, PW and the MCC) have long supported the right to self determination of the LTTE and similar groups inside India. “By any means necessary,” to paraphrase Malcom X, rather crudely. This is nothing new and this statement, if it’s accurate, is simply the most explicit admission of the goals of the party in supporting armed struggles of these organizations/parties/militias (depending on how you want to characterize them). I’m not taking a stand by saying this (since I don’t feel well informed enough to do so). But it can’t be denied that this stance of ideological (and it appears from this latest statement, at least claims of even logistical) support exists within the armed wing of the Indian Maoist movement for the LTTE and other groups seeking self-determination within India.

  4. red road said

    My point was simply that Nando was wrong in claiming that the above statement, which supports the struggle of the Tamil people politically and materially, welcomes “a resurrection of the LTTE.” Nor does the statement, as the broad sweeping brush of Nando claims, “support ANYTHING armed — EVEN IF its politics and methods are highly questionable.” (my emphasis)

    Nando, in essentially claiming that the LTTE struggle is the same as the ongoing (post-LTTE) struggle for self-determination, is conjuring a bogeyman of maniacal or bloodthirsty maoist solidarity, in the spirit of “if it bleeds, it’s good.” Why he chooses to confuse these is unclear.

    Hmmmmmmm.

  5. nando said

    The “battle for Tamil Eelam” is a separatist program for the island of Sri Lanka. The statement suggests changed strategies, but seems to endorse the LTTE goal of a divided island.

    I’m raising that i am not clear what is being said here, and am curious whether it is a correct approach. I’m raising a question not “conjuring a bogeyman of maniacal or bloodthirsty maoist solidarity.” (Really, I’m not sure what that even means, or why anyone would see that in my comments.)

    There has been a view (among some Maoists) that the world is full of “objectively anti-imperialist” struggles (with subjectively non revolutionary leadership) and that the task of the moment is to “make Maoism the commander” of those existing struggles.

    Though I don’t associate the Indian Maoists with the crudest forms of that theory — I’m curious whether there are such elements in this approach here.

  6. red road said

    The programmatic and strategic questions involved in the struggle for a separate Tamil state are certainly worthy of serious investigation, study, and debate. If raising this was the intent of the initial Nando comment in this thread, my apologies for missing that point in what was written.

    One important area to plumb for serious consideration of these, are in the works of the Maoist movement in India, which has delved into these questions for a considerable time. The works I mentioned in comment #2 were suggested for those who wish to go deeper on this.

    I admit to getting a bit thrown off when a broad brush of characterization–“some people” who “support anything armed”, or “a view among some Maoists that”…..or “I’m curious whether there are such elements…”–strongly implies (but does not specify) a target or subject, and lays a strong or heavy or implied accusation on them.

    I will avoid making responses to such generalizations in the future. And I would urge the posters of serious criticisms of various trends to do so with clear and specific references, so that more productive exchanges can be encouraged and promoted, and speculative thrusts and parries can be avoided.

  7. Ka Frank said

    The September 2009 issue of People’s Truth referenced in Comment #2 above has a long article describing the history and trajectory of the Tamil struggle for national liberation in Sri Lanka. The concluding section of the article talks about the major problems with the LTTE’s ideology and politics.

    This article doesn’t explore the relationship between the struggle for an independent Tamil Eelam and new democratic revolution in Sri Lanka, but it does come down on the LTTE for targeting Sinhala civilians and not reaching out to progressive Sinhala forces. Keep in mind that People’s Truth is not an official organ of the CPI (Maoist) and that, as far as I know, the party has not publicly stated its view on revolutionary strategy in Sri Lanka. However, the main thrust of this article is in the direction of developing a Maoist strategy for new democratic revolution in Tamil Eelam, not in Sri Lanka as a whole.

    This section of PT article begins on p. 28: “Defeat of the LTTE and its Lessons”

    The LTTE which conducted the national liberation war successfully for more than three decades was not only defeated in the Eelam War IV but also lost all its bases and thousands of its soldiers were killed, injured and arrested. It will take quite considerable time for them to recoup and continue their struggle for a separate homeland. The war led by the LTTE was an inspiration for all those who are fighting against exploitation, injustice and oppression, particularly those waging
    armed struggle. The defeat of the LTTE is not only a great loss for the people of Tamil Eelam but also for all those who are waging armed struggle against the oppressors.

    It is but natural that the defeat of such a powerful militant force may create certain amount of despair among the people who have been supporting/sympathizing with this struggle. Therefore, to understand the reasons for its defeat is very necessary to take lessons for all nationality
    movements worldwide and also for the forces waging armed struggle in India and South Asia. The following could be the main points for consideration:

    a) The LTTE has been a militant organization leading the national liberation war for more than three decades. Throughout this period it has faced many ups and downs and now it has lost all its bases. But it has never compromised its goal of a separate “Tamil Eelam”, even in the most trying
    circumstances.

    Nevertheless, its ideology and class basis is bourgeois in nature. Due to this, it was not able to distinguish between the friends and enemies of its cherished goal of Tamil Eelam. Its approach towards — its own people, i.e. Eelam Tamils, Muslims living in north-eastern Sri Lanka who are also part of Tamil Eelam, Tamils living in the plantations in the central part of Sri Lanka, the
    Sinhalese people, Tamils in India, who extended all types of support to the cause of Tamil Eelam, the bourgeois parties in TN [Tamil Nadu], the Indian government and the imperialists — all these varied forces were tainted with a bourgeois outlook.

    It did not take the class differences between the ruling classes and the oppressed masses into
    consideration when it dealt with Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism and targeted even the Sinhala toiling masses. This provided ample opportunities for the Sri Lankan ruling classes, which is already thriving on chauvinism, to incite anti-Tamil pogroms and commit any type of atrocities over the Tamils in the guise of ‘protecting’ the Sinhala nation and divert the Sinhalese masses from their real problems. Although it may not be possible to win over the sympathy of the Sinhalese masses in their struggle for a separate homeland, due to the domination of chauvinistic sentiments, it should have avoided the killing of innocent people.

    Moreover, when organizations like the Lanka Sama Samaj Party (LSSP) upheld the Eelam people’s right of self-determination, including the right to secede, there was a possibility of waging a united struggle against the Srilankan ruling classes, however feeble it may be. But due its bourgeois nationalist outlook, the LTTE did not take these aspects into consideration while evolving its tactics.

    Even in its relations with its own people, it did not take the class differences into account. To be precise, it took the stand of supporting the bourgeoisie when there was a conflict between the working people and the bourgeoisie. Similarly, it concentrated more on getting the support of the
    bourgeoisie and its parties in TN than striving to get the support of the broad masses. The broad masses — workers, peasants, students, youths, petti-bourgeoisie and the intellectuals—extended their support voluntarily due to Tamil national sentiments, and upholding the just cause of a separate homeland for Tamils. The people of TN, the revolutionaries and other democratic forces, extended their unflinching support to the Eelam struggle, including the LTTE. But the LTTE even instructed its cadres strictly not to have any connections with the Maoist organizations in India.

    It is the same story even at the international level. The LTTE has built a strong network amongst the Tamil diaspora all over the world. But it did not make any serious attempts either to build
    close relationship with the struggling people or organizations or get their support. Rather it concentrated on securing the support of the imperialist governments or of influential people in
    the government. It was not just a national exclusivist attitude but more than that it was a class outlook which emphasised more on the bourgeoisie than on the people.

    Ideologically the LTTE was very clear that MLM is inimical to its interests. Once, it gave the slogan for a “Socialist Tamil Eelam”. But within a short period it withdrew it as it was against its class interests. ……

    d) As the Eelam liberation war transformed from guerrilla warfare into positional warfare its dependence on modern and sophisticated weapons increased tremendously. It mainly depended for its supply from imperialist countries and the international arms market. Hence, it lobbied with those in the echelons of power in these countries.

    Realizing this, the Srilankan President Rajapakshe successfully used his diplomatic channels to stop the arms supplies. Similarly it also curbed the funds to the Eelam struggle from the expatriates living in Europe and North America. This dependence from imperialist countries harmed the LTTE when these countries helped the fascist Rajapakshe in the ‘war on terror’.

    Self reliance, not only in economic and political affairs but also in military supplies is most important for the guerrillas fighting against the reactionary ruling classes.

    e) It had a faulty approach on the question of the united front. It failed to unify all the forces that could be united against the common enemy. In fact its approach was against uniting all those forces fighting against the Sri Lankan army. In its struggle for domination and leadership position
    it not only eliminated other petti-bourgeois militant groups, most of them became agents of the Sri Lankan or Indian government, but also genuine forces fighting for separate Tamil Eelam.

    Revolutionary forces like the National Liberation Front of Tamil Eelam (NLFT), People’s Liberation
    Front of Tamil Eelam (PLFT), Proletarian Vanguard Organization (PrOVO) with MLM ideology and a
    New Democratic Programme were not allowed to function in Tamil areas. Either they were asked to stop their activities or summarily killed…..

    g) Due to the wrong handling of Muslims it antagonized the Muslim community, which is a part and parcel of Tamil Eelam. The forcible eviction of 28,000 Muslims from Jaffna, leaving all their belongings, in October 1990, seriously affected the struggle for Tamil Eelam. The ruling classes,
    always waiting for an opportunity to divide the people, utilized it and created a permanent cleavage between the Tamils and Muslims. The elites among the Muslims compromised with the Sri Lankan ruling classes and weaned away a considerable section of the Muslim population from the struggle.

    h) The LTTE’s approach is that “Heroes create history” instead of the Maoist dictum of “People create history”. Following from this they adopted bourgeois methods of developing the war instead of the Maoist method of developing People’s War….

  8. Paul said

    Ka Frank, you have stated “…Keep in mind that People’s Truth is not an official organ of the CPI (Maoist) and that, as far as I know, the party has not publicly stated its view on revolutionary strategy in Sri Lanka…”.

    But I found the following statement on bannedthought.net

    http://www.bannedthought.net/India/CPI-Maoist-Docs/Statements/AgainstSriLankanGenocide-090424.pdf

    This is just a little effort to help this interesting discussion please.

  9. Ka Frank said

    Paul: The CPI (Maoist) statement you refer to is basically a solidarity statement with the Tamil struggle. It expresses support for the demand for an independent Tamil state but does not express any view on revolutionary strategy for Sri Lanka as a whole.

  10. Paul said

    Ka Frank, you are right. CPI (Maoist) has got the rich experience of leading the New Democratic Revolution in India. Being the largest Maoist party in South Asia and probably in the world, it has the responsibility in terms of suggesting what should be the revolutionary strategy for Srilanka as a whole to achieve a Democratic Federal Republic of Srilanka.

    However it should be up to the people of Tamil Eelam to decide whether to have their independent Democratic Republic of Tamil Eelam or to live within a federation (in a true sense), provided they are treated as equals in all respects at par with the Sinhalese. Let’s hope for that day to come true.

  11. In former AP chief minister’s attack with the explosives given by LTTE to naxals is another propoganda given by the UPA government.There are many militant organizations within India also such as ULFA ,Lashkar and others.With these rumors our Tamil Eeleam struggles will burn again and again.

  12. Shiva said

    I am sorry to say that the CPI(Maoist) has all along been wrong in its assessment of the LTTE.The Nepali comrades seem to have had a more balanced view. I suspect that both parties seem to have been misled by some misguided “Maoists” from Sri Lanka.
    The LTTE was never an anti-imperialist force. I did not support a single liberation struggle in the world and has even denounced national liberation struggles in India.
    It has no left credentials and went to the extent of endorsing globalisation.
    The LTTE believed in armed struggle but not in the people. It was undemocratic and never believed in mass struggle. It killed innocent civilians and thereby stengthened Sinhala chauvinism and the military machine.
    Sadly its defeat is a setback for the struggle of the Tamil, Muslim and Hill Country Tamil nationalities for self-determination.

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