Newspaper editor S. Manoranjan is a Tamil who has been fighting
against Sinhalese discrimination for three decades. He's also
been fighting -- with a journalist's pen and at great personal
risk -- against the terrorism and human-rights violations of
the Tamil Tigers. (Human-rights organizations estimate that
the Tigers have killed 8,000 fellow Tamils considered to be
traitors to the rebel cause.)
Along the way, Manoranjan has become something of an expert
on the phenomenon of suicide bombing in Sri Lanka. In a candid
interview with FRONTLINE/World's Joe Rubin, Manoranjan
describes the Tamil Tigers' method of taking young recruits
to a hidden camp in the jungle where they are given special
status and primed to become suicide bombers. Manoranjan speaks
openly about the intense social conditioning and psychological
tactics employed by the LTTE. Asked by Rubin whether LTTE suicide
bombers should be thought of as religious and political zealouts,
he offers the following response.
"THE RED GARDEN"
assume that a cadre who wears a bunkhet and gun and explodes
is matured and understands politics; is committed to the cause.
No, that is not the thing at all. Where in the beginning that
might have been [the case] with one or two cadre, now there
is a process of creating human bombs.
The LTTE identified a place called "Red Garden." In 1991, [Tamil
leader] Prabhakaran made a speech establishing the Red Garden,
saying, "This is going to be the University of the Tamils."
Nobody understood at that time.
"THEY ARE JUST ROBOTS"
They [LTTE] collect children from refugee camps where they have
lost their parents. [Many of these are small children], five
years old, six years old. They have been brought up in this
Red Garden. And after two or three years they are separated
... and taken to a hidden place in the jungle. That particular
place is named as "Puti de Pumi," a sacred land. This is the
place where these human bombs are being produced. They [the
children] are not exposed to the war. They only know about their
leader. They have a last supper with the leader. They ... feel
that they are dying for the leader. That's all. They don't have
any idea of fighting for separate state or the commitment towards
the cause of the Tamils. Nothing. They are just robots.
"A HUMAN BEING HIMSELF IS A WEAPON"
This is the whole thing that the world should understand today.
Because the most dangerous part of it is [that] this particular
organization has a capacity of creating human bombs. They say
it is the biggest achievement of their leader. In their military
writings they use the very words, saying "The modern world has
a capacity of improving the dead weapon. ... All these weapons
are dead weapons." They [the modern world] can improve [the
weapons], they can make sophisticated weapons, but there needs
to be a human being to operate that.
But our leader [they say], his discovery ... is that a human being
himself is a weapon. No need to carry him. He will walk and
explode. That is his achievement, his discovery.
"HE HAS TO GO AND DIE"
Everybody thinks that [cadres] are coming out with a lot of
courage and conviction. That is not the case. The cadre has
no other solution. Once chosen as a Black Tiger, or suicide
killer, there is no way of getting out of the whole thing. ...
He can't go back, because saying "I can't do this" will be a
shame for him. Everybody will say, "What are you? You are nothing.
No, you have to die for the leader."
So before dying you [the cadre] go to meet the leader and have
dinner with him. He'll get a photograph with you. So that you
will be respected in the Tamil society. It is this kind of brainwashing
And on the final day, the cadre comes out of the sea and he's
left in a place like Colombo. He's being watched. This cadre
has no way of getting out of the whole thing. He knows from
the beginning [that in this] society there is an internal intelligence
which is following him. So here in Colombo he has to go and
die. He has to. Whether he is hitting the target or not, once
he wears the jacket, he has to die.