“Flames on my body will guide to liberation” – Statement of Murugathasan

“We Tamils, displaced and all over the world, loudly raised our problems and asked for help before [the] international community in your own language for three decades. But nothing happened … So I decided to sacrifice my life … The flames over my body will be a torch to guide you through the liberation path,” said British newspaper Guardian quoting British computer graduate, Murugathasan Varnakulasingham, who immolated to death in Geneva on 12.02.2009.

His life had taken him from the northern tip of Sri Lanka to a pebble-dashed semi in north-west London and finally to a cold square in Geneva. But it is for his death that the 26-year-old Tamil, Murugathasan Varnakulasingham, is likely to be remembered.

A little after eight o’clock that night, the computing graduate and part-time Sainsbury’s shelf-stacker doused himself in petrol in Geneva and set light to his body outside the United Nations complex in the Place des Nations. Police officers rushed to try to save Murugathasan, who stood “burning like a torch”, but he was too badly injured. A few metres away, they found a letter typed in Tamil and English explaining why he had chosen to die: “We Tamils, displaced and all over the world, loudly raised our problems and asked for help before [the] international community in your own language for three decades. But nothing happened … So I decided to sacrifice my life … The flames over my body will be a torch to guide you through the liberation path.”

Seven Tamils – including Murugathasan – have burned themselves to death in February 2009 to protest about the treatment of their people by Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese government. Most were in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, but on 14 February, another British-based Tamil allegedly tried to set himself on fire outside Downing Street, but was arrested before he could do so.

The wave of suicidal demonstrations has been provoked by the Sri Lankan government’s latest attempt to crush the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam (LTTE). In an attempt to end the country’s 30-year civil war, Colombo has dispatched 50,000 troops to the north-east of the island. However, the offensive has left 200,000 civilians trapped between the two sides, and some estimates say 40 civilians are being killed each day. Both sides stand accused of atrocities: the LTTE of using civilians as human shields and forcing people to join its ranks and the government of indiscriminate shelling and setting up internment camps for Tamils.

According to his younger brother, Velmurugan, Murugathasan had become obsessed with the suffering of the civilians and had begun to devour reports and images of what was going on in the country he left seven years ago. “He was a very emotional guy and it just made him worse. He couldn’t eat and he just cried.”

He added that the reports reminded his brother of the two years the family spent in a camp for displaced people in Kilinochi after the war forced them to leave their village in Yaalppanam. “He always worried about the people who were going through what he had gone through.”

Although Murugathasan joined tens of thousands of fellow British-based Tamils on their protest march through London at the end of January, he could not shake a feeling of powerlessness. “He went to Geneva saying that he was going to participate in the protests,” said Velmurugan. “He kept talking about the guys who had burnt themselves in India, saying: ‘They’re doing this for us. What are we doing for them?’ “

But Murugathasan gave his family no hint of his intentions and they remain convinced that his suicide was a spur-of-the-moment decision. Velmurugan said: “He rang home last Monday, he sounded normal and said he would be coming back on Friday.”

His brother, he added, was not a tough guy. “He was very soft. If he fell and hurt his leg, he would cry.” The family learned about the death through the Tamil media and said they had had no contact with the Swiss or British authorities.

His mother, who has been inconsolable, sat weeping in the living room of the family’s home in Harrow. A few feet away was a makeshift shrine with Murugathasan’s picture on a table flanked by the television and stereo and surrounded by incense and flowers.

Velmurugan, though, is still struggling to understand what was going through his brother’s mind as he stood in the Place des Nations. “Maybe he told himself: ‘By losing my life I can save thousands of people.’ These were the only weapons he had. He had only himself to burn.”

The letter from Murugathasan:

My name is Murukathasan

Date of Birth 02.12.1982

My humble request to the International Community on behalf of Tamils.

I,  Murukathasan, an innocent Tamil civilian displaced from Sri Lanka, now living in the United Kingdom, openly and clearly declare my last will in this statement to the International Community which failed to stop the genocide against the Tamils living in their traditional homeland (North and Eastern provinces in Sri Lanka) by the chauvinist Sinhala Buddhist Government and to wake up the heart of the world community.

The world community has a one sided unreasonable vision, about slaves, the poor and the rights of the suppressed minority people living in various countries including Sri Lanka. This careless, undemocratic and inhuman approach of the world community and the International organisations including UNO helps state terrorism which always acts against the minorities of the world including Sri Lankan Tamils.

To expose this truth, I cannot find a better way, except sacrificing my own life by burning myself before the world community. I believe the flames over my body, heart and soul will help the world community to have a deep  human look over the great sufferings of the Sri Lankan Tamils.

Till this moment the genocide activities against the Tamils by the Sri Lankan Govt is silently accepted by the International community by helping Sinhala state terrorism by providing arms, ammunition, military and intelligence needs openly and secretly which boost the morale of the Mahinda Rajapakse’s regime  continue the civil war against the Tamils in an aggressive way.

The Sri Lankan Govt rejects all the requests of the world community and violates frankly all type of international war and human rights laws and ordinance and continue its brutal genocide activities under the covered name of anti terrorism activities.

The Sri Lankan Govt completely ignores all the rules and regulations regarding war including ‘Geneva Declaration’, cheats UNO, condemn ICRC and Amnesty International continuously and continuing its genocidal war openly.

This is great tragedy.

The international community can easily understand the situation in Vanni. Nearly four and a half lakhs of Tamils of all ages of both sex are trapped within a very small area – a war zone – and have to face all kinds of difficulties.

No proper shelter. No required food and medicine. No way to earn for their living. No education.No NGO’s or INGO’s to help, guide and to console them.

Under air attack area, within fall of bullets, the Tamils young and old, infants and children, male and female including pregnant ladies, patients disabled peoples suffer a lot. How can I express in words? I can’t. But I think the people of the world who can think reasonably understand what I am try to say through my heart and soul.

Scattered pieces of the dead bodies, blood stained streets, burnt houses, continuous movements of the displaced peoples and their feared hopeless faces, the sound of passing shells, bullets, rounds and bombs, destroyed natural sources, buildings, houses, temples and hospitals, empty shops, dangerous mud streets and lanes. Can you able to imagine a picture of a suffering country? This is a real scene of my homeland and life portrait of Tamils.

No media men are allowed to visit and see the true situation of the Vanni Tamils. Most of the media speak on behalf of the Govt and spitting lies to create a false scene about Vanni situation.

Once again I want to say this is the most tragic situation that world community must take quick and necessary action to stop the genocide against the Tamil people and save their life.

For your kind perusal and deep consideration I am giving you the following facts.

On 26.01.2009 at Mullaitivu – Suthanthirapuram junction after World Food Programme(UN) officers after hoisting their flag started to distribute food and other things to the thousands of displaced people gathered at ground. While distributing activities continues, they have to face severe shell attack from morning till night by SriLankan security forces(SLSF). While this attack the ICRC office also undergone severe damages. That day 302 innocent Tamil civilians killed and 1199 people severely injured. On that day a lot of unidentified bodies of the Tamils were found in the surroundings of the Udayarkaddu hospital.

When I was informed about this through phone by a relative, I got great shock. No one was there to save the injured. No one know who and who are alive and dead. The UN and the ICRC officers who were the only witness for this tragic incident, also seek shelter in the small drench bunkers to save their life and left the premises immediately. Then they issued a statement about this incident. That place was already announced as a security zone by the Sri Lankan Govt. This is an important point. The Govt showed no reaction to the statement, ignore it and continues its attacks more and more vigorously.

What do you think about this?How do you name it? I openly name it as State terrorism.

From 02.02.2009 till 04.02.2009 Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital which was declared by the Govt as a security area and was functioning under the supervision of ICRC and UN officers targeted and attacked by Sri Lankan Security Forces severle y while these officers were at the hospital premises, killed and injured many patients who were under treatment at that time.

There is no need of witness other than UN and ICRC officers who were present there at that time.

On 04.02.2009 the Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital was compleatly destroyed and made functionless by the Govt to celebrate their independence day in a cruel manner. ICRC officers confirmed that there were nearly 500 patients under the treatment while Puthukkudiyiruppu Hospital was attacked by the SriLankan Airforce(SLAF) and Artillary cluster bombs.

I want to ask the International community to explain me what kind of attack it was? Was it an attack against the terrorism?

Before this incident- on 26.01.2009 – Udayarkaddu hospital was attacked and many people killed. Regarding this incident the spokesmen of the SriLankan security forces Brigadier Udhaya Nanayakkara asked a question in an interview to the BBC,that why the people go to Udayarkaddu hospital instead of Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital and put forward a senseless reasons for their brutal bombing.

A few days before this incident, Udayarkaddu area also declared by the Govt as security zone and asked the people to move towards that area to save their life.

Didn’t Mr.Nanayakkara know this Govt declaration?

While giving reasons for the attacks on the hospitals, Sri Lankan Defense secretary, the Presidents brother Mr.Gothabaya Rajapakse told to British ‘Sky TV’ in an special interview that, No hospital can exist beyond No-fire-zone, No hospital should operate outside the safety zone, everything beyond the safety is a legitimate target.

Thus he gave a foolish reason to world community.

Is the world community accept the answer of the Gothabaya Rajapakse?  Mullaitivu General hospital which was functioning earlier at Mulliavalai and then at Vallipunam, Kilinochchi hospital which was functioning at Visvamadhu and then at Udayarkaddu,Mallavi hospital which was functioning at Moonkilaru and Puthukkudiyiruppu hospital,all were attacked and completle y destroyed by the SLAF because Govt want not to allow Tamils to get treatment to save their life.

The International community and UN organizations ask both parties to respect the International Humanitarian Laws, but they keep silence to take any strong action against Sri Lankan Govt who ignore all kinds of reasonable requests of the same community and organization.

This is the main cause for the present tragic situation.

Because of the chauvinistic stand of the Sri Lankan Govt, the Tamils are continuously suppressed by the Sinhala rulers cruelly by refuse to give their political rights by implementing unacceptable laws. After the Independence of Sri Lanka, the Sinhala leaders gradually and sharply planned to build up the country as a complete Buddhist Sinhala nation by suppressing the minority Tamils politically, economically, culturally and educationally. Sinhala colonization in the Tamils Homeland areas create a big problem, which leads to communal riots and civil war.

During peace talks periods to seek a reasonable political solution Sinhala leaders tried their tactics to cheat the Tamil leaders. Speaking about peace and political solution the Sinhala leaders basically believe in military solution and their genocide maniac policies never allow them to reach a political solution to ethnic problem.

During the last four decades Sinhala leaders continue a civil war aggressively, which now became an openly declared war between Sinhalese and Tamils.

Under the covered name of terrorism Sri Lankan chauvinist leaders and Buddhist monks now running a full scale war against Tamils which has a sharp plan to destroy Tamil community from Sri Lanka. That process is now continuing.

The International community is silently watching everything – has kept closed its ears to the cries of Tamils. The voice of the Tamil for their self determination political rights is reasonable and democratically acceptable by the International community. If so, why this community keep silence in this matter? I can’t understand the real policy of the democratic International community.

The Tamils take arms in their hands only to safe guard themselves from Sri Lankan armed forces. All knew and History tells that the rights of Tamils were refused during last four hundred years of colonial rulers. When Britishers leaving our country they handed over the ruling rights to majority Sinhalese. From that day the Tamils fight for their political rights through quiet and democratic ways which was violently rejected by the Sinhala rulers.This inhuman way of approach made the Tamils to select the same way to answer the Sinhalese.

This is inevitable.This is reasonable and acceptable.

After the world community realized that a political solution must find to end this communal problem a process was started by Norway with the help of Co-chairs a half decade ago. It shows this is a political problem and it must be solved through a reasonable lasting political solution.  But the Sri Lankan Govt on its own way to seek a solution through a war.

The silence of the world community make me to think whether they are also take an anti  Tamil stand?

This question makes me to take the decision of sacrificing my life by burning myself before the world community which convey a message to take a reasonable decision on this issue, and try their best immediatly to save the life of the Tamils in Sri Lanka.

The statement issued by the Co-chairs on 03.02.2009 highly worried the Tamils who have a deep confident on them. The last hope of the Sri Lankan Tamils is also lost by this unreasonable pro-Sri Lankan Govt statement. Do the Co-chairs countries want to help the Sri Lankan chauvinists in their genocidal activities against Tamils?  I know that the Co-chairs countries were take a pro Sri Lankan stand during the Norway peace talks which help the Sri Lankan Govt to build up their armed forces and also to cheat the Tamils.

I dont know whether the Co-chairs know the situation in state controlled areas of the North and East of Sri Lanka. Tamils live in those area live a lifeless life. Kidnapping, murders, rapes and other human rights violations continue in those areas.

Peoples live like open jail prisoners. Medias are threatened. Human rights organisations seldom expose these news.But the world community including Co-chairs keep closed their lips, and ask our people to move into the military controled areas.Can Co chairs take responsibility for the security of the people live in state controlled areas?

Never they can’t.

We Tamils believe that the world community including Co-chairs who speak a lot about the Sovereignty of the countries help the state terrorism, by ignoring the sovereignty of the minority peoples like Tamils who fight for the reasonable political rights and branded their liberation struggle as terrorism. I am worried and ashamed about this.

We Tamils displaced and all over the world loudly raised our problems and asked for help before international community in your own language for three decades. But nothing happened. In this situation, how can I express my feelings? I have no words to wake up a world  community to have a humanitarian look over our problem and to take necessary action to save our life.

So I decided to sacrifice my life by burning myself before the International community and the UNO Headquarters. This will tell you a bright message which reach your heart and minds and wake up your soul. I firmly believe that the end of my life will make the world community to change their heart and to start a new era which help to liberate Tamils in Sri Lanka.

I want to tell one thing to the world Tamil community. Please get together, join your hands, raise your voice together to win the rights of our people, and to win the hearts and minds of all Nationalities. This is a great last chance.

The flames over my body will be a Torch to guide you through the liberation path. I am too far away from you by body, but I am too near to your heart. Never believe the Sinhala chauvinist leaders, who never change the hearts and minds towards justice and peace.

We continuously ask and fight for our reasonable rights before the world community. There is a Bible Saying- ‘Ask it will be given to you and knock, the door will be opened.’ As so-one day the world’s heart, mind and the soul will wake up. That day we liberate our self, our homeland and enter into a new era. With much hope and confidence


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