The plea of an ex- Tiger in a Canadian prison:
Don’t take to violence, choose a free life...
He suffers... he recalls... he regrets knowing that it’s too late for
him to overcome the agony but he is confident that he is not too late to
change those blindly embraced and clogged unrealizable dreams, being a
mere illusion and to walk in the correct path.
Sathajhan is seen holding a machine gun at an LTTE camp in the
In the prime of his youth, in a jail in New York, Sathajhan
Sarachandran is cursing the ‘agents’ of Tamil Tiger Terrorists for
misleading and motivating thousands of youth to fight for Vellupillai
Prabakaran’s elusive dream - a separate State in Sri Lanka.
Being once a vibrant ‘resource’ of the now defunct outfit - LTTE-
Sathajhan, who was accused of brokering a $1-million arms deal for the
LTTE five years ago, requests the Tamils not to be caught in extremist
”The LTTE is no more. We must accept the fact and move on with
reality. I urge all you brothers and sisters to refrain from LTTE
ideology and I beg you not to get trapped in their extremist ideologies.
As Tamils we must reject violence and embrace peace”, Sathajhan, the ex-
President of the Toronto branch of the Tamil Youth Organization (TYO)
from 2003 to 2005, wrote in an open letter.
He, visited Sri Lanka twice and was photographed at an LTTE camp
wielding a machine gun, in his open letter to Tamil youth around the
world urged not to repeat the mistakes stated : “I only ask that you be
vigilant of these people. I ask that none of you choose a path where
violence is encouraged. Please don’t be a catalyst for promoting any
form of violence or hate,”
Writing a two-page letter he accused the leaders of the Tamil
community for misleading him, fuelling anger and hatred, promoting
violence and silencing advocates of non-violence. “ I ask that you take
part in helping the affected people. I ask that you be a true guide to
them, and not to isolate them. Please don’t let the so-called
well-wishers guide you to further destruction, instead let your own
vision guide you towards your next achievement. Our people need you, use
your vision as your guide and help our people. I must admit to the hate
that injected into me during my time as a president of TYO. As Tamils we
must reject violence and embrace peace”, he stated.
The 31-year-old software engineer was arrested in Long Island, New
York in 2006 while he and two other Canadians were trying to buy
shoulder-launch missiles and AK-47 assault rifles for the Tigers.
Pleading guilty to terrorism and conspiracy, Sathajhan is now
languishing in prison serving a 26-year-jail term. “ I am writing this
letter to all my fellow youth brothers and sisters whom are following
the same path as I had that had eventually landed me in a prison in New
York. I am suffering today. My family is suffering. My friends are
suffering. I am suffering, which has resulted in everyone around me
suffering. I am suffering physically, mentally, financially, medically
and morally.; I can write pages and pages outlining the hardship I am
going through. I don’t want to put too much burden on my readers. But I
must outline the suffering I am facing as a result of my actions in the
past. Beyond all this, I feel obliged to share some words with you
fellow brothers and sisters. I must share my experience with you all so
that you can make wise decisions in your activities”, he wrote.
Can the TYO sweep their bloodstained past under the carpet, while
youth like Sathajhan are openly unearthing the links of the TYO with the
LTTE, which inflicted separatism ideologies in the minds of youth abroad
and used them as channels to raise funds.” I was a highly motivated and
emotionally active youth during my term as President of the TYO, Canada
which operated as part of the LTTE. During these times, I was misled by
many so-called community ‘well-wishers’.
There was never a common understanding between these so-called local
leaders, to find a real solution to our cause. I had been to many
meetings with these well-wishers where our true vision and our feelings
as youth, were never given any consideration when executing our action.
I had attended many meetings with many members of our community,
where a durable solution was never accepted by these well-wishers. I
look back, there were so many controversial meetings that were aimed at
triggering our anger and hate towards fellow citizens of Sri Lanka. I am
sure and fully aware that all of you would be going through the same
procedures and attending similar meetings and seminars hosted by these
so-called ‘well-wishers’. 1 am only sharing my personal experiences with
you. Yes,there were few individuals who did try to preach a non-violent
approach to the national question. But those voices would be silenced
some how by ‘well-wishers’ under the pretext that liberation was round
Sathajhan requests Tamils living abroad and here to be vigilant of
pro-LTTE voices like the TYO or Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC) not to
choose paths where violence is encouraged.” Please don’t be a catalyst
for promoting any form of violence or hate. The LTTE is no more. We must
accept the fact and move on with reality. I urge all you brothers and
sisters to refrain from LITE ideology.
If each of you just sit down and think about how much hate you have
within you and try to admit to the amount of hate you have with you, you
will be liberated, you will feel the power within you to help people who
need you at this moment. Make yourself free”.
Not seen parents
He wrote in his letter that his family had been banned from visiting
him under certain sections of the Law and had not seen his parents for
the past three-years or any members of his family.”I write to you to
explain my suffering for the path I had chosen. I regret many of my past
activities. Meetings after meetings, campaign after campaign, all
injecting hate into me and other fellow students. With my whole heart, I
ask one and only one thing from you all. Just for you to think freely
and help our people come out of the suffering. Our people have gone
through enough suffering. This type of suffering and loss should not be
experienced by anyone in this world. Suffering after suffering, our
people has had enough. Let our people live with dignity and freedom.
I ask you to think freely and take part in rebuilding the lives of
the people whom had gone through tremendous suffering”. He stated that
he was confident youth around the world would come forward to contribute
towards peace and reconciliation in Sri Lanka.
This is the story of Sahilal Sabaratnam who is also detained in the
New York federal detention center, serving his fifth year of a 25-year
sentence imposed on terrorism related charges for participating in a
Making an open apology through a letter he (accused) himself for
letting down his people and requested them to stop propagating hate
through diaspora Tamil organisations.
“ If you don’t like the situation in Sri Lanka or if you solely
believe that the Tamils in Sri Lanka are being mistreated by the
Government, then my gutsy challenge to you is for you to visit the
island and make such statements on your fact finding missions. Don’t
believe in propaganda being carried out by middle-persons. Don’t carry
forward such campaigns for them and make our people suffer further”,
He earlier actively took part in pro-LTTE campaigns had written that
he contributed vast amounts for their community-based organisations such
as the Canadian Tamil Congress (CTC).
Regretting his past, he said he now has enough time to flash back on
his past and the actions which has made him to do certain things which
imprisoned him. “ I had the backing of the World Tamil Movement (WTM)
Leaders for many of my contributions towards our people.I must accept
the fact that the organisation was under the guidance of WTM leaders in
Canada , the so-called ‘well-wishers’ of our community”.
“Let me explain to you why I chose to write such a letter to my
beloved Tamil people. The armed conflict is over in Sri Lanka. The LTTE
is no more. There were times, where many of the Diaspora had wanted an
armed solution for the national question.Let me share something with you
that I have learned in my past years. Please I beg you, to open up your
heart and sense my feelings. Violence doesn’t bring a solution to
The bullet does not make a judgmental call of who the victim is.
Blood is not the answer to anything. We must all come to a common
understanding that violence is not an answer to anything. We must learn
to use alternative methods to violence if you choose to pursue any
I solely believe and know for a fact that the so-called
‘well-wishers’ who had always stood behind the CTC are believers of a
This is very wrong”, Sahilal who served as the Communication Director
of the Toronto Branch of the CTC and was responsible for press releases
of the CTC, said.
While the CTC was denying that Sahilal was its former Communication
Chief, Sahilal said he was an active member and a valuable contributor
to the CTC and many past members would recognise his involvement and the
present board was appointed after his arrest in the US. Confident that
the so-called pro-LTTE groups have the same stance to solve the national
issue, he requested such organisations to allow Tamils to think freely,
and respect the law and let them live freely in Sri Lanka.
“We are living in western countries. Our day-to-day suffering is only
if we try to make our living luxurious. We struggle to get a better
education, better car, better house, better TV, better shoes, and the
best of everything. That is our struggle in a western country. But our
people in Sri Lanka still struggle to live and I ask all organisations
to seek alternative paths to help our beloved families and friends in
our homeland Sri Lanka. Give them a fishing rod they will fish and find
their own food. First bring them on their feet. Give them the basic
things they need. You and I know how much we value education. Don’t take
that away from them. Step-in. Take action. Give them what they want.
Don’t hold them hostage for your campaign. Hereinafter, if they choose
to participate in a solution seeking mission, let them choose.
Let them choose how they want to live”, he requested. Sashilal urged
Tamils to break through the barriers and think freely and question such
indirect or hidden agendas being carried out by LTTE-related
organisations such as the WTM and the CTC.
“We are all experienced and highly motivated people, we can work in
any environment to bring upon happiness for our people. I ask you not to
be a catalyst for someone to propagate hate crimes using organisations
like WTM and CTC. Our mandate is to help our people in our homeland not
to hold them hostage for someone’s political survival. Let our people
decide what they want to do with their lives. Give them a chance, give
them hope, and give them whatever they need to live as human beings”, he
wrote in his letter.