Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Head of French armed forces quits; Six months of President Trump

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Man vs Shark: Michael Phelps loses 'race' to great white

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Chris Froome 'almost' among the greats with fourth Tour de France win

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

International Francophone Games kick off in Abidjan

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Iran open to dialogue with Saudis, says top diplomat

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Spicer bows out of White House

Read more

FOCUS

Iraq's Mosul: Rebuilding a city fractured by sectarian mistrust

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Bistrot or bust? Why France's famed cafés are disappearing

Read more

REPORTERS

Video: Afghans live in fear as kidnappings soar

Read more

France

Tamil diaspora reluctant to accept Prabhakaran's death

Video by Olivia SALAZAR WINSPEAR

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-05-21

Sri Lankan television showed pictures on Tuesday of a corpse the Sri Lankan military claim is Tamil Tiger leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran. But the Tamil diaspora is reluctant to believe that their leader is dead.

“Cinema!” “Montage!” “Photoshopped picture”, “fake corpse”, “Sri Lankan government propaganda”... These are the reactions of the Tamil diaspora in France, who refuse to believe that Tamil Tiger leader Vellupillai Prabhakaran is dead. 

On Tuesday, Sri Lankan television showed images of the corpse of Vellupillai Prabhakaran, the chief of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). But for the Tamil diaspora, these images are manipulated or fake.

 

Nadesan, a Sri Lankan who feels the images are  "good news, because Prabhakaran is behind much violence”, is among the very few in the Tamil diaspora to celebrate Prabhakaran's death.

 

Rejecting government declarations, a large majority of the Tamil population in France has been relying on information on  the separatist group’s website. A communique from the LTTE’s international relations head Selvarajah Pathmanathan re-affirmed on Tuesday morning that the rebel chief  “is alive and safe”.

 

“Prabhakaran, I know him well. It’s not his body. This is false information meant to discourage the Tamil people,” said a client at Nissan Exotique Market, a grocery store at the corner of Rue Louis-Blanc and Rue Perdonnet.

 

“An honest man”

 

In the neighbourhood crammed with Sri Lankan shops and restaurants, the “number one Tiger” is a highly regarded political personality. Many shop-owners in the area placed his effigy at the entrance. Written roughly in French, the inscription leaves no room for ambiguity. “Our leader of the Tamil people and of our land, the Tamil Eelam, is very precious.”


Others took it a step further by putting a portrait of “Prabha” as their mobile phone wallpaper. “He is not like other politicians, who send their children to study in Europe and in the US. He has never kept a cent for himself. He’s an honest man,” says Regaan, while getting a haircut in a salon.

 

Most Tamils fail to understand why the West compares their hero Prabhakaran to Osama Bin Laden or a godfather of a new mafia. “The classification of the Tigers on the list of terrorist organisations is unfair," says Vithuran, who has been living in France since 1987. " Their targets were never anything but military. No-one forces us to pay a claimed revolutionary tax. This is a lie spread by traitors in the pay of Colombo. In France, during the Second World War, was General de Gaulle a terrorist or a resistance hero?”  he argues.

 

For Vithuran, Tamils have lost their land, but not their courage. "We will soon recover our territory," he says.

Date created : 2009-05-19

COMMENT(S)