Kloie Picot

Photographer/ Videographer

One Shot More Logo

A Tamil Tiger Funeral

On February 7th E. Kaushaylan, Tamil Tiger (LTTE) leader in the Batticaloa-Ampara district of Sri Lanka, and four other cadres, identified as Pugalan, Madimaran, Thamulan and Vinodhan were returning from talks with Sri Lanka representatives about releasing aid for his stricken area. On his return journey he, together with his 4 aids were ambushed and assassinated.

“We fear that these killings would have a serious impact on the humanitarian relief work undertaken now and for the recommencement of peace talks,” the Tigers said in a statement 24 hours after the killings.

Kaushalyan was the most senior Tamil Tiger to be gunned down since the rebels and troops began observing a truce that Norway brokered in February 2002. More than 60,000 people have died in violence in Sri Lanka since the Tigers began their fight for a homeland for minority Tamils in the island's north and east. The conflict has recently escalated, the truce all but dead.

“He represented a brighter future for the LTTE and the Tamil people because he was so eager to learn and to adapt to acceptable ways,” said a source with a multi-national agency working in Batticaloa. “Kausalyan was a decent and soft-spoken man who was tired of war.”

Well respected by all in the Batticaloa-Ampara region, his body was taken throughout the region in order for the locals to pay their last respects. The funeral was held at the martyr’s memorial in Thandiyadi, about ten kilometers west of Batticaloa.

Under tight security, thousands of mourners, his family, including his pregnant wife, and LTTE representatives such as Mr. S. P. Thamilselvan, as well as several civil society leaders in the Batticaloa-Ampara district, attended the funeral.

Though no formal charges have been laid it is suspected that either the Sri Lankan government or a renegade group led by former Eastern Commander Vinayagamoorthi Muralitharan alias Col. Karuna who defected to government-held areas last April after a failed rebellion. Kaushalyan had served under Karuna but opted to side with the main leadership based in northern Kilinochchi when Karuna announced his rebellion.

The military, however, denied any involvement in the attack.

“Kaushalyan was not an ordinary man, he was an emerging leader,” said M K Eleventhan, Member of Parliament for the pro-Tiger Tamil National Alliance.